Saturday, April 20, 2013

1995 Escort

Goodbye, old companion.

My under-powered, rattle-trap, misaligned little red '95 Escort died a long and painful death over the course of the past week.

I can't believe I don't have a picture of it!
I stole this pic from here because it looks just like mine...
(minus the bumps, bruises and kid-style "improvements").
The car lived a full life.  It was purchased new by my husband's grandmother, who drove it to the mailbox and back, and to church on Sundays.  My husband's father took care of it for her, and so it was in pretty good shape (for what it was) when he acquired it from her in 2002.

At the time, I was doing my student teaching, and my husband (boyfriend at the time) would come over every day to drive me to school.  I lived in a part of Seattle called Ballard in a studio apartment in the top floor of a house.  It was on a classically steep Seattle hill, such that the poor little car didn't have enough oomph to get all the way up.  He would have to get as far out as he could, perpendicular to the cross street, hope for no cross traffic, and take a running start to get the car up to the house.

Over the years, this little car acquired many bumps and bruises.  I backed out of the garage before the door was completely up and scraped off the spoiler.  My husband glued it back on with masonry adhesive.  There was some freaky wiring thing that ran through the trunk that made the reverse lights die, and made the car unable to shift higher than 2nd gear when the headlights were on.  THAT one took a while to figure out!  So, periodically, my husband had to stand on his head in the trunk, splice wires together and wrap them all in electrical tape so that my car could run.

My husband crashed into something and the front right fender and corner of the hood became mangled.  He beat them back into some semblance of shape, but they were always crumpled.  I backed into a large light pole in a parking lot, so the rear left corner had a big yellow scar about 2 feet long.  I called it my racing stripe.  The heat shield was loose and so the car rattled in idle.  It was too low to clear most curbs or parking stops, so it would always scrape.

There was automatic NOTHING on this car (okay, transmission, but that is it).  The passenger side door lock was missing because it was popped when the car was towed while we were on our honeymoon...long story. The back windows were plastered with stickers from the kids, and the back seats were stained with...whatever kid stains are made of.  The rear defrost button was broken, only the right side speakers worked, and the front passenger window leaked.

This car drove me to and from every job interview I ever had, took us on adventures to Canada, Oregon, Minnesota and all the states in between, to Mount Rainier, trick-or-treating, my daughter to her first day of school, my parents to the airport numerous was a decent car.  I even went through labor in that car, both quickly each time that both of my children were almost born in it.  I think the passenger door had a dent on the inside from where I was pounding on it.

How many times did I strangle myself on the seatbelt?  It had that 90's thing where the top of the shoulder strap would travel down to the front of the car when the door was open.  Hypothetically, let's say I dropped my credit card at the drive-thru and popped the door to pick up the card, only to have the seatbelt wrap around my head and try to decapitate me.  Hypothetically, of course.  About five times.

I always had a kind of love-hate relationship with that car.  But now that she's gone, I feel somewhat sad.  It wasn't beautiful to behold, but dang it, it always got me there and back again!

The death pains started last week:  the car would die when it idled in gear.  It did it once or twice.  Then, it started to do it at every chance it had.  Forget putting it in reverse, that just killed the engine immediately.  I took it to Midas and sat for 3 hours (thank goodness for a job I can do from anywhere!) while they changed the oil and the fuel filter, checked the spark plugs and ran a few diagnostics.  Nothing showed up for them, and for the next 12 hours or so, the car ran fine.  Then it started to stall again, and on Thursday I thought I was going to end up walking home.  Thursday afternoon, when I started the car to go get my son from daycare, it sounded like an enormous jackhammer in my garage.  It really startled me!

My husband tore into it that night, and eventually had to take Friday off of work to deal with it.  He took it to Midas again, and they had a master mechanic take a peek.  The car has totaled itself from the inside out, because we are looking at probably a few thousand just to find out what is wrong.  Apparently there is something in the valves in these cars that dies...I don't know, I'm not well versed in such things.  Needless to say, the car is a goner.

I look forward to driving a new-to-me car, hopefully one with more living space.  It would be nice to take my kids' bikes to the trails in the summer, or have room for a trip to IKEA.  I will certainly always remember my little red Escort.

Goodbye old frenemy.  You will be missed, in your own way.

I deserve BEAUTY in my life!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Patton Oswalt

Patton Oswalt
Shortly after the Boston Marathon events on Monday, I heard a radio host read Patton Oswalt's Facebook status.  I found it to be very thought-provoking:

[...] I remember, when 9/11 went down, my reaction was, "Well, I've had it with humanity."

But I was wrong. I don't know what's going to be revealed to be behind all of this mayhem. One human insect or a poisonous mass of broken sociopaths. 

But here's what I DO know. If it's one person or a HUNDRED people, that number is not even a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a percent of the population on this planet. You watch the videos of the carnage and there are people running TOWARDS the destruction to help out. [...]. This is a giant planet and we're lucky to live on it but there are prices and penalties incurred for the daily miracle of existence. One of them is, every once in awhile, the wiring of a tiny sliver of the species gets snarled and they're pointed towards darkness.

But the vast majority stands against that darkness and, like white blood cells attacking a virus, they dilute and weaken and eventually wash away the evil doers and, more importantly, the damage they wreak. This is beyond religion or creed or nation. We would not be here if humanity were inherently evil. We'd have eaten ourselves alive long ago.

So when you spot violence, or bigotry, or intolerance or fear or just garden-variety misogyny, hatred or ignorance, just look it in the eye and think, "The good outnumber you, and we always will."

His sentiments are so profoundly and beautifully stated.  They made me think a great deal about what he calls the "daily miracle of existence."  That I am here, able to love and appreciate all I have been graced with, is in itself a miracle.  I can breathe, I can love, I can cry, I can laugh, I am deserving.

There are forces in our world that are not beautiful, and there are some poor souls who suffer so greatly from their lack of ability to see and embrace the beauty within and around them. 

All of the evil, the sadness, the hatred...they are necessary to cause the beauty to shine brighter.  Perhaps these are the prices and penalties that he mentions.  They will not last forever, and while they may win some battles, they will not win the war.  They will not take away the greater desire for beauty and goodness in the world.  It is a very powerful statement to feel one has the strength to look pain and ugliness in the eye and say, "The good outnumber you, and we always will."  There is strength in numbers, and the beauty of solace in that strength.

I deserve BEAUTY in my life!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Come Holy Spirit

My very favorite moment of the day is that moment right after the post-exercise shower in the morning.  I have dried off, slathered on lotions and potions, dressed in fresh clothing...and there is that moment when I feel fantastic.  I haven't quite decided what I need to do next, but I'm ready to go.  I feel strong, energized and completely clear.

This morning I felt so refreshed and good that I decided to really anchor that feeling with 15 minutes of meditation.  I sat on the floor in my sun-drenched living room and closed my eyes, slowing my breathing and really making note of how nice I felt.  I said a prayer of thanks for a healthy body, a warm home and this delicious feeling I was experiencing.

I don't often have profound experiences while meditating.  I generally start with a prayer, and then meditate on the response.  I try to focus myself on remaining grounded and in the experience.  Today I was so clear and in touch with myself that I was able to truly open my mind and appreciate the experience as it flowed.

As I rooted myself and worked my way up through my chakras, they all felt grounded, bright, shiny, pure, thankful.  I felt warm and full of light.  In an odd turn of events, when I got to my third eye it was suddenly heavy and dark, like there was a blockage.   I focused on the weight and kept asking it why it was so heavy, what was it needing?  Suddenly, all of the light and energy in the rest of my body felt like it was saying in chorus, "We are in this together!"  Energy was flowing up from the roots, through my body to my third eye...but there was still a strange sadness and resistance.

I was suddenly hit by the phrase "You need to let go!"  It kept reverberating through my mind and I have no idea what needs to be let go, but the message felt directed towards my brain and my third eye.   There is something that my deeper knowing self is needing to let go.  This is not the first time this message has come to me in meditation, and I doubt it will be the last.

I wasn't having much luck getting clear from the bottom up, so I decided to invite light from the top down.  I imagined the sunlight as God's love and the Holy Spirit enrobing my body.  I felt direct light coming through my crown, lighting and warming my third eye.  I opened my palms and felt the warmth in my hands, as a kind of symbol of the light and love of God to cling to.  The weight never completely dissipated, but showering it with light from both directions did seem to help.

Soon, I found myself praying slowly and repeatedly, "Come Holy Spirit, I long to be Sacred"  I started to tear up, and felt a great emotional connection to this one line.  I have no idea what it means, I need to chew on it for a while.  I feel good, I feel pure, I feel energized.

I long to be Sacred.  Come Holy Spirit.  Purify me.  Purify my mind.  Purify my actions.  Make me sacred.  Come Holy Spirit.

I deserve BEAUTY in my life!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

I Need a Nap

How irritating is it when you ask someone how they are, and their answer is always, "*SIGH* I'm so tired..."  We're all tired, buddy.  Come up with something else, unless you are seriously dead on your feet.  That being said, ever since last week's battle with allergies, I've been exhausted.  I haven't been this tired since my son was a newborn.  The world is swirly, my head hurts, my body is stiff and I'm in a horrible mood.

I laughed until I nearly cried this morning when my kids told me I needed to sing this song.  Go ahead.  Listen.  It is awesome.  It is one of our family favorites.

If you don't feel like listening to it, the song is called "I Need a Nap", by Sandra Boynton in her book/album for kids called Dog Train.  It is a duet with Wierd Al Yankovic and Kate Winslet.  It perfectly epitomizes how it feels to totally need a nap when the world around you keeps moving.  When you just need everyone and everything to just STOP so you can lay down and fall unconscious for a while.

When I go to bed at night, my mind is racing, my body aches and I just can't get rest.  I know this means that I really need to meditate and stretch before bed...but I'm just so tired.  What a whiny, vicious circle I find myself in.  I can't sleep!  I'm to tired to take care of myself!  I am stiff!  I'm too tired to stretch!  I'm too stiff to sleep!

It feels like another song on the album called "Tantrum" (performed by The Spin Doctors).  The words are awesome.  Yes, it is from the perspective of a 3-year-old...but it channels my inner child like nothing else.  "No, No, No!  I don't wanna!  I don't wanna!  No, No, No!  I don't wanna! No! No!"  As the song goes on, the tantrum changes.  From the things the child doesn't want, suddenly he is demanding those very things and has no idea what he really wants.

Being too tired is not what I would necessarily call a beautiful thing.  However, it has really caused me to struggle these last few days with what parts of my self-care are truly important.  I realized an interesting thing: Every part of my self care is vitally important.  In fact, I need to do even more.  My husband has told me twice already this week to stop taking care of everyone and just take care of myself.   So I decided last night to take a bath with some lovely lavender-rose bath salts...only to find there was sediment in the faucet so all my bath salts ended up in murky water that I couldn't soak in.  *sigh*  I need a nap.

I am not one to spend all kinds of money on spas, manicures, fancy meals or expensive haircuts, but I do need to rethink my self-care routine.  Am I eating what my body needs?  Am I getting the right exercise?  Do I shower every day?  Do I have a regular skin-care routine?  How about my hair and my clothing?  Being tired forces me to stop and really weigh what matters, and I have realized that I need to take better care of me before I will be any good to anyone else.

I need a nap.  No...I need to meditate and stretch before a hot shower at bed time and get a full-night's sleep.

I deserve BEAUTY in my life!

Friday, April 12, 2013

The Orange Rhino
At the beginning of the month I discovered a blog called The Orange Rhino.  It is by a woman who has 4 boys at home, and realized one day that she was a yeller and a screamer.  She realized she was depriving herself and her boys of a loving, calm experience through her instant reactions of yelling all time time.  She started on a journey, determined to go a full 365 days straight without shouting at her kids.

Her post "10 Things I Learned When I Stopped Yelling At My Kids" was a little bit viral on facebook, and it is how I found the blog.  As I read it, I broke down and started to sob.  I can identify with her plight, and her ideas make so much sense to me.  

The more I delved into the blog, the more beautiful it became to me.  She is not so much about tooting her own horn for stopping yelling at her kids, as she is offering encouragement from her own experiences.  Her facebook page is full of other Mommies (and some Daddies) talking about how hard it is to keep tempers in check, or talking about successes they have had.  It is a cheerleading group for parents who are trying to stop yelling at their kids.  I have stopped there for encouragement a few times, and when I feel strong enough to encourage others I make sure to do it.

There is certainly solidarity in numbers.  Knowing that I am not the only Mommy who is confused by how much I shout encourages me.  I am not the most patient or soft-spoken mother, but I am certainly not worst mother in the world.  I make mistakes, and this community allows me to make them and then helps prop me up when I need it.

She encourages putting orange reminders all over the house, particularly in areas where yelling occurs the most.  I did some further reading on the blog, and the reason she chose orange was because it is bright and happy, and it is very eye-catching.  In fact, now that it is on my mind, every time I see the color orange it prompts me to take a deep breath and think of how much I love my family.

I have tried to take on the Orange Rhino Challenge, and it is really hard!  She challenges her readers to go an entire year without shouting at the kids.  I've been trying for about three weeks now, and I have only gone about 2 days without losing it at my babies.  I am determined to add it to my efforts to allow the beauty I deserve into my life.  My kids are worth it, and so am I!  

I have shortened the challenge for myself to just one week.  I have already missed the mark today, but that doesn't mean I will stop trying.  Some days are certainly easier than others, and tomorrow I will start all over again at Day 1.  The kids are beautiful and they are worth it, and with a virtual community of support it is so much more attainable.  My husband is even on board with it, and we use the phrase "Orange Rhino" with one another if we sense escalation. 

It will work.  I know it will.  Even at lunch time today, my 3-year-old decided that it would be a good idea to flip over his plate, and I'm not even sure he realized he was doing it.  Pears, crackers and yogurt all over the floor.  I spun around on my heel and MUCH to my own surprise, I said, "Uh-Oh, buddy!  What happened?  Go ahead and get down and clean that up," and went back to finishing lunch prep. My jaw flew open in surprise, because I totally didn't even feel the urge to yell.  It is possible!! It is all a matter of remaining present in my body and recognizing potential to yell...and getting my heart to speak before my head.

I deserve BEAUTY in my life!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013


Do I trust myself?  That is the question on my mind.  I have made a commitment to allowing more beauty into my life.  I am making it known to the universe by publishing my progress and goals.  Energetically I am working towards it.  But my question I believe it deep enough to trust myself on an unconscious level?

I deserve beauty.  But since I have so much trouble believing in and relying on myself, I am in conflict.  I don't think I trust the me of the future.  My future self has let me down too many times:  I set goals, or start on a positive path, only to be my own best saboteur.  I feel good today, and then the me of tomorrow takes over and demeans my efforts and strips them away.  I revert to where I was before, with the added feelings of failure and shame.

I don't know how these two disparate people came to be, but they don't trust each other.  I am torn.  I deserve beauty and success, and I want it.  I don't deserve to fear the me of tomorrow.  Living consciously means living solely with the me of today, because the me of tomorrow doesn't exist yet.  Do I like me?  I sure want to.  Why am I so scared to?

My little bird has reminded me to take tiny little steps forward.  I will admit, little steps are less intimidating, but the ultimate commitment is still scary.  Today I am experiencing a great deal of resistance to my forward momentum.  I am trying to use my small reminders of beauty to help me along, like my I CAN mantra, the fresh flowers on my table, playing with my kids, and looking at the little steps I have taken this week  (making the guest bed and cleaning the freezer).

There are a lot of thoughts about it swirling in my head.  Part of it could be lack of sleep or the cold medicine, but my mind is racing.  The little bird keeps sitting on the tangled pile of my thoughts and scolding me forward.  I just close my eyes and see the little guy reminding me of the strength I have to claim any and all small victories.

I deserve BEAUTY in my life!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Small Victories

I cleaned out my freezer.  It was a task that needed to be done, and I am claiming it as a small victory. It is a tiny reclamation of the feeling of success that I so deserve.  Some friends were coming over to make freezer meals, so I needed to make some space.  Now my freezer is lovely and organized, and it makes me feel content when I open it up to look inside.

But seriously, how did my freezer get into the condition it was?  I found about 10 ropes of kielbasa, four boxes of Go-Gurt, and endless packages of freezer-burned meat.  There was even a three-year-old package of bacon.  I hate having a side-by-side fridge/freezer combo, and one of my favorite complaints is that the freezer is too small and the ice thing take up all of the usable space.  When I empty it out of all contents and rearrange, I am reminded that it holds a lot more than I like to think it does.  True, it's too narrow for a pizza box, but who likes frozen pizza anyhow?

Just like my silly red bird reminded me this weekend, I will only find peace through one victory at a time.  Cleaning my freezer is one little victory.  I can draw all kinds of parallels between the freezer and myself about finding all kinds of forgotten treasures, or wax philosophical about things that have gone to waste that were taking up space, mystery packages that I didn't even open but just tossed, or being surprised yet again at the actual capacity of the freezer, but it all seems so obvious.

Let's just say my freezer is now in a logical order and there is space for another casserole or two.  It makes me smile to open it up and see the happily arranged items.  I am also glad that it shows I am strong enough and able to pull myself out of my slump, one little step at a time.

I deserve BEAUTY in my life!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Birdie and The Monkey
I joined my PTI group for an interim session of meditation and togetherness today.  Usually there is only a month between PTI weekends, but because of a scheduling conflict with the venue, it had to be pushed back, making the wait for our next one two very long months.  Our leaders determined that a mid-way meeting would be beneficial, and were they ever right!  It was just for a few hours this morning, but it was enough of a "snack" to tide me over until the end of the month.

I had a lot of trouble keeping my focus during some of today's work.  There is a term for when your racing thoughts keep distracting you from your meditation, prayer or other work, it is "Monkey Brain."  It can be so very frustrating when I am praying for clarity and meditating on the response...and then suddenly I find myself planning supper and doing fractions.  It has been recommended to me that in these times, recognize and acknowledge the monkey, then turn the thoughts in to little birds.  The birds can then fly up into the trees and make nests.  They are still there and safe, I can still hear them, and I can get to them later when I need them, but they are out of the way for the time being.

At the end of the morning, we did a group hypnotherapy session.  My monkey brain was in full force, and I kept sending birdies into the trees.  As I was getting deeper into the experience, a particular little red bird came to me.  But it was a very odd little bird, because he had a bushy brown push-broom mustache!  I almost laughed out loud as I watched him hop about.  I was focused on my intent for clarity, and I was being bombarded by unhelpful images and feelings, all in the forms of large animals like rhinos and elephants.  This fat little bird was in a tree overhead scolding me, and eventually he came down and hopped around and scolded all of the others back into the mist.

This mustachioed friend was just a tiny little guy.  He hopped about and scolded, and I asked him what his message was.  He then flew up over my head and lifted a gauzy veil off of me.  I didn't regain clarity or strength from the removal of that one thin veil, but the bird was telling me his message clearly.  He said, "I am just a little bird.  I can't lift all of the weight or cloudiness all at once, but I can help you do it one layer at a time.  You will only be free by going one piece at a time."

This is the message I needed to understand.  I have so much weighing on me, and I am trying so hard to throw off my feelings of failure and inadequacy.  The journey is slow, and often what feels like a setback is really just an infinitesimal step forward.  Outwardly, I am frustrated and overwhelmed.  But if I take it one thin layer at a time, eventually clarity will make itself known to me.

And I have a cute little red bird with a bushy mustache to help me along the way.

I deserve BEAUTY in my life!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Breathing in the Moment

A few days ago I was, again, stressing about failure and how my self-talk has reverted to that unhealthy state.  I was so wrapped up in my own bad feelings that it took a while for me to realize how well-behaved my children were being.  They were laying side-by-side on the living room floor, staring at the ceiling and pointing.  I tip-toed closer and realized they were pointing out the moon and stars to each other and were fully engrossed.

I decided that what I was doing really wasn't as important as imaginary constellations on the ceiling, so I asked if I could watch the sky with them.  The kids said, "Sure!" and scooted apart to make a space for me. I laid down with them and for a good 15 minutes we pointed out constellations and the different colors of the moon.  I am thankful that I pulled myself out of my funk to participate in such a beautiful experience of imagination.

Yesterday, my kids got some new-to-us books from one of my friends.  They love books so much, and of course they begged me to read every one of them right away.  With a child on each side, I read a delightful book about a mother raccoon's love for her babies called A Pocket Full of Kisses. I had a kid pressed tightly in on each side of me, one with giant unicorn pillow-pet that kept getting in my way, one with football clutched to his chest.  I couldn't breathe and I was a bit cramped, and it was the happiest I've been in weeks.

I had to stop in the middle and close my eyes.  I took a deep breath and soaked it in as deeply as I could.  I had to drink in the moment.  When I close my eyes and breathe deep, I can feel myself going back there.  This moment is one that I wish to anchor and firmly as possible.

The same friend loaned us some fun kid-style Rock and Roll CD's with books.  They are crazy. I mean, have you ever heard of a singing duet between Kate Winslet and Weird Al Yankovic?  I kid you not:  it exists.  It is called "I Need a Nap" in the book Dog Train by Sandra Boynton.  My kids decided we absolutely had to dance, so I did the Broccoli Dance, I did some sneaking like a bear, I banged on a few pots and pans, I waddled like a penguin, I laughed and laughed with my kids.

My children are in a large part responsible for helping me through my funk.  I'm not entirely out of it yet, but they have provided me with so many opportunities for clarity.  All it has taken is a few moments of letting go and allowing myself to disappear into their whimsy to find clarity.  Again I am reminded that they are truly the most beautiful thing in my life and I think God for my babies.

I deserve BEAUTY in my life!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Beautiful Things #151-200

There are so many beautiful things in my world.  How many moments and experiences of beauty from your own life can you name?  I have challenged myself to keep a running list as they come to me.  This is my fourth installment:

151. Freezer meals
152. Friends to make freezer meals with
153. Our Orkin Lady, Samantha
154. Albertsons doublers
155. Magnetic photo frames
156. Blueberry pancakes
157. Brownies
158. My stapler shaped like a Coke bottle.
159. Unscented baby wipes
160. Mother-ease cloth diapers (bamboo!)
161. Maple Syrup
162. Carnations
163. The Tacoma Narrows Bridge
164. Tickets to see Train
165. Shrek
167. Papa John’s pizza
168. Beanie Babies
169. Text messages
170. Lipstick
171. Cross Stitch
172. The Space Needle
173. Alaska
174. My college degree
175. Mechanical pencils
176. 0.9mm lead
177. The Beatles
178. The ability to pay my taxes
179. Decaf grande carmel and Irish Cream mocha with whip
180. The neighbor’s cat’s offerings of livers and other organs on my front step
181. Rumi
182. Canned air
184. Mongolian Beef
185. Teriyaki
186. Those funny seahorses that look like seaweed
187. Washable markers
188. @RumiLoveNotes
189. Safeco Field
190. Taco Time
191. Skype
192. My crockpot
193. Sharpies of all colors
194. Puns
195. Free tax filing online
196. A tax refund
197. My washing machine
198. My dryer
199. Qwerty keyboards
200. Thank you notes

How many more can you name?

I deserve BEAUTY in my life!