The Here and There

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This. This photo right here did it. I found an orphaned memory card and when the images started loading into my photo editor, I lost it.

I don’t remember this day.

I don’t remember him being this small. What did his little head full of downy hair feel like in my hands? When I pressed my lips to it?

I wasn’t there. I held him close, I made snacks, gave kisses, took pictures. Did mom things. But I wasn’t there. Not really.

I was somewhere inside myself and it was too hazy to see these beautiful things.

I see them now, but the emotions attached to them are skewed. They should be happy and joyful but what I remember is how dark I felt.

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But now I’m here. Laughter and hopefulness in my days. I’m present.

Not to say that I don’t still have bad days. On those particular days sadness laps at me like waves. Not enough to knock me down but still strong enough to sting. It’s okay. I keep moving. I think it gets to a point where no one wants to really hear about your troubles anymore because we all have them. No one wants to be sucked into unhappiness. So I’ve stopped talking about it.

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I am so thankful, though, to those who are really there for me. I came across this article recently and it really hit home for me. All about just being there for someone, whatever “there” is for that person at that time and not dismissing their feelings. Kind words, long hugs, texts just to see how I’m doing. Just those small gestures have kept my head above water on so many days. True love and friendship are these things- just listening, caring, and offering a bit of yourself so the other doesn’t have to trudge through the difficult times alone. But there are many times when there is nothing offered and people who I thought would be there for me have remained silent. As hard as that has been, it’s teaching me to rely on myself. My husband always says the best place to look for a helping hand is at the end of your own arm.

And so I have. I have pulled myself out of worse states than this and I know I can make it.

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I’m not bitter about this. A little hurt maybe but I’m moving on. I think it’s because I wanted so badly for something to be true and good and I poured my heart out and made myself vulnerable. I was there and I cared and I listened. When I needed these things, I felt like there was no time for me. Then a moment of absolute clarity. I see it all for what it was. Maybe there was never really anything there- just a shifting mirage. Not everything works out and that’s okay. My happiness shouldn’t depend on others, so those people are off the hook. The hardest part is letting go of an idea or an expectation you had about something or someone.

Hope but don’t expect.

I’m taking a deep breath and letting go. Opening myself up to what can be. Ready to put love out and to be there for those I care about and who care about me. To make new connections. Maybe I’ve missed something and misjudged, but all I can do is let it be and know that if it is good and real it will remain.

I’m learning what I’m made of, about myself. And although the shoulders to lean on are very much appreciated, I don’t need anyone to pity me and to hold my hand. I’m here and now I can see it all for what it is.

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The Journey

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice—
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do—
determined to save
the only life you could save.

-Mary Oliver

(Thanks for this, H.F. You always seem to have the right words.)

This Time With Heart

Looky, looky! I actually finished a quilt!

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I started this quilt last May as a graduation gift. Then I sort of stumbled over my own life and I couldn’t quite get it completed. Lots of hurdles and road blocks but I managed to plow through the first weekend in December and get it quilted, bound, and delivered before the end of the year. Actually six months isn’t so bad considering I have projects sitting around that are going on the six YEAR mark to be finished. Win.

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The problem is I put a lot of thought into handmade gifts, especially quilts. Overall design, how they will use it, colors, and words. This takes time.

To me, everyone has a color. When I think of a person, there is a color that goes along with what I see in my mind. It might not necessarily be their favorite color, but often it is. From this I choose a palette and then fabrics. Then I choose a pattern. Gentle and flowing or sharp and angular. Singular and graphic or repetitive and encompassing.

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Then the making can start. Cutting and sewing. With the stitches I make, I think about the person I am making the quilt for.  DSC_0422

I put my heart into every one of those stitches. Until my fingers are sore and my shoulders are stiff.

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Finally I give it last words. I label my quilts with lyrics, sayings, or quotes that best capture my thoughts or feelings for the intended.

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The quilts I create are my love made tangible. They are literally crafted with blood, sweat, and tears so I don’t make them on whims or without thought. If my heart isn’t in it, I have a hard time focusing. I’m trying to stop stumbling and get back to the road I know because my heart has a lot of love that needs to be let out through creating.

And there is a baby boy here who needs his own blanket of love to be wrapped in because it is cold out there.

Helena, Year Two

My littlest girl,

You are exasperation and wonder. You are toes in the water and the fizz of a firecracker. You are excitement and strong will. A twirl in the sunshine and a cuddle on the couch. Quick to giggle, a laugh that is so true and infectious. You are me too’s, I do it’s, and mine’s. You are might and love in the tiniest package. You are the smirk on my lips, the dance in my hips, and the song in my mind.

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(One Year Ago)

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You are my darling girl with a fire and sparkle that glows with every single one of your quick little steps.

Never let that dull.

Love,

Mama

Here’s To The New

It’s my birthday today.

This year has been one of my most difficult. I have grown and birthed a new little life. I have watched my children smile, laugh, and cry.  I have seen friendships grow, change, drift apart, and come together. I have felt so full and hollow at the same time. I’ve struggled with finding who I am. I have cried more than I ever have.

I’m done.

I’m done feeling like I need to apologize for the things I like, for my hobbies, and sense of humor. Done apologizing for wanting to take time for myself. Done apologizing for getting dressed and putting on makeup in the morning. Done apologizing for being skinny, because when I look in the mirror or my clothes don’t fit it only reminds me how I haven’t taken care of myself. I shouldn’t feel bad about being who I am and I’ve spent too many tears on this.

I’m done wondering if I said or did something wrong, over analyzing. Done wondering why I don’t get invited or included and feeling hurt. Done being someone else’s option. I’m through with wondering if people like me and instead I’ll wonder if I like them and if they are worth my time. I’m tired of putting others first and being put last. I expect more from people because it is what I would do for them. I’m done giving my all and only getting half in return. Maybe I don’t hold the same place in someone’s heart as they do in mine and that’s okay, I just need to let go. Those who want me in their lives will make a spot for me. I am worth knowing and loving. It shouldn’t feel like a struggle and I’ve spent too many tears on this.

I’m done feeling like today is just time that needs to be gotten through. I’m done holding on to what’s gone and not appreciating what remains. I’m done with not looking with glittering eyes for the magic of tomorrow because it isn’t just another day. I’m done wishing the day would end because I’ve missed so much this way and I’ve spent too many tears on this.

“You fall, you rise, you make mistakes, you live, you learn. You’re human, not perfect. You’ve been hurt, but you’re alive. Think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, and to be with people you love. Sometimes there is sadness in our journey, but there is also lots of beauty. We must keep putting one foot in front of the other even when we hurt, for we will never know what is waiting for us just around the bend…” And I’ll miss it if I’m focusing my energy into fighting the old instead of being open to the new.

So you see, tears are a currency I’m done using. I’m taking last year off of my shoulders, standing taller on the good things and leaving the bad behind. Now it is time to start paying for my life with laughter and smiles.

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All photos by Blue Dandelion Photography

 

This year will be beautiful.

 

A Vacation In a Loaf Pan

It’s cold and snowing here today. Really more snaining, which is worse than if it was just snowing. The kids have found all the toys that make the most noise and seem to be playing with them simultaneously. I need a vacation to some place warm and by an ocean as of yesterday but it’s not going to happen. This bread is about as good as I can do today. I may or may not be inhaling the bottle of coconut extract and sucking on limes as I type this.

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Disclaimer: This bread is NOT healthy. It has sugar and butter. Lots of it. And eggs. It is not gluten free, it doesn’t even have whole wheat flour. I suppose you could use half whole wheat flour and throw in some flaxseed or something, but for your mental health, please don’t. Enjoy with a drink that is heavy on the rum and pineapple while listening to Jimmy Buffett. Or this right here.

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Coconut Banana Bread

2 1/2 c flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

2/3 c white sugar

1/3 c brown sugar

1 stick of butter, softened or melted

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp coconut extract

3 ripe bananas, mashed. About 1 c.

1 c coconut milk

1/2 c (4oz) cream of coconut

1 c sweetened flake coconut

 

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray your loaf pan with cooking spray.

Mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In a separate bowl, mix together butter and sugars with a wooden spoon. Beat in eggs. Stir in vanilla and coconut extracts and cream of coconut. Mix in mashed banana and coconut milk.

Alternate mixing wet and dry ingredients just until combined. Stir in flaked coconut and pour into pan. Bake until done in the center. Let cool slightly and glaze.

 

Lime Glaze

1/2 c powdered sugar

1 1/2 Tbsp lime juice

zest of lime

 

 

 

 

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