Some Days

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Please don’t ever ask me why my house isn’t clean. Don’t lift your eyebrows at my piles of laundry. Don’t purse your lips when you see we are having noodles and applesauce for dinner.

Again.

Don’t ever let your mouth form your breath into the question “What exactly do you do all day?”

I can hear your judgement as you say “It must be nice.”

Our time here is just a series of moments strung together on the fine gold thread of existence. Sometimes those moments that make up your day are ugly, not something you would choose to adorn yourself with. They are full of hot tears from anger or frustration. They hold echoes of words spoken from unkindness, resentment, or bitterness. You look back at these moments and that’s what you see and, despite looking so hollow, they are terribly heavy moments. As this life we are stringing together hangs on our necks, these days make it hard to lift your head up and see the beauty that will surely come again. Choosing happiness and gratitude can be so difficult then.

Today I am feeling like so few of those good moments are actually and wholly my own. I am dedicated to keeping a small tribe of reckless children, hellbent on destroying everything as they learn those boundaries, from coming to harm. I wish I could dedicate more of my brainpower to creating something for myself. For sewing. For painting, reading, or photography instead of refilling sippy cups and making food no one will eat and grocery shopping and picking up the toys for the 34th time in a day.

There is a part of me that says I have so much more to offer. I’m not saying that being a stay at home mom is beneath me. Some days it would just be nice to leave for a job that expanded on this. I wish I had coworkers with which to discuss ideas. It can get so mind numbingly lonely without that interaction. I know one day I will find more space in my life for these pursuits but right now, today, I worry that the small and fragile flame that is that part of me will be suffocated by the banality.

I don’t know. I might just need better coping skills or to shift my view. Lift up my head despite the weight. Or maybe I just need some new fabric and art supplies. And a few more hours in my day.

 

Building Bridges

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When you crack yourself open and let out the fear and love and joy and anger that resides within your walls, you hope that the courage it took you to do so isn’t met with silence. When you are searching for something and you put out that distress signal, you would give anything to hear the sweet sound of something other than static. When you feel like you’ve reached the end of the rope, all you want to see is that someone was kind and thoughtful enough to tie up a tire swing. Hope for these things but never expect them.

I’ve pulled out a bit of my heart and left it on the table, raw for all to see. I wasn’t expecting that wound to be soothed by so many kind words, to be matched with your own courage and vulnerability. I’m not sure I can convey how much your call, your message, your text meant to me. With every one hot tears from a place of love would fall down my face. So many seeking the same connectedness. A simple and true Thank You is the only thing I can find to attach to my gratitude.

Navigation

I’m lost. I don’t know where I’m going.

Maybe the problem is more so that I don’t know where I fit. I’m having trouble finding my way around my own life.

There are days that leave me grasping at anything to keep from feeling untethered and disconnected, as if my body is going through the motions but my mind is orbiting around my life, the two never really coalescing. You see, I don’t know how to get close to you. I don’t know how to talk to you in a way that doesn’t leave you wanting to either run away or never hang out with me again or both. I want to dive right in and ask you what dessert you would request on your deathbed. I want to know if you’ve every been skinny dipping. I want you to tell me about your childhood, your first kiss, your first car. Is the person you’re with right now the person you’ve ever loved the most? If they aren’t, what happened to that other person? Can you do things by halves, like just sort of be with someone or be acquainted with a friend but not intend to love them intently? What do you believe happens to us when we die? Has anyone written poems about you? What has been the most terrifying thing you’ve over come?

I want to know you.

Because you fascinate me.

But I don’t know how to ask these things without coming off as, um, too intense. I might sit passively, quietly observing and nodding. I decide to not dive in and just float on the surface with the standard chatter about my latest trip to Costco, bedtime routines, that awesome new cleaning product I started using that takes the smell of puke out of car seats, or what my child recently stuck up her nose. The things that, in this whole short time I have on this earth, I could literally not give any less fucks about. I have trouble with the middle ground. Seeming interested and interesting without making you recoil in fear because a social norm has been breached. And I know this isn’t the stuff we can go about discussing on a daily basis. Sometimes it is nice to know that grapes at Costco right now are an incredible deal. Because we all need to float sometimes.  But I’d rather stick my face in the water and see what’s below the idle prattle.

This trouble I have with connecting has left me lonely. I’m not sure I know how to be a good friend, sister, daughter, wife, mother. Someone who is true and honest with feelings and thoughts. I need real relationships to real people because I can’t do this life by halves anymore. I need these relationships as bright spots in a dark thinking which I can gather and align into constellations to navigate my life. To someplace I want to be. I’m just not sure how to ask.

Almost Like Spring

The weather this past weekend was beautiful. We were able to play outside, riding bikes and skateboards and watching the robins that never quite made the journey south.

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And we’ve started a new hobby around here. Brewing!

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Now there is a fresh layer of snow on the ground. So I’m glad we got out and enjoyed it!

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.

 

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