Saturday, June 8, 2013

The Cheering Squad

This morning, I was nervous to spend a whole day with my kids alone.  My husband is working a Saturday shift, and I have really been struggling with feeling frazzled by my kids lately.  I went to bed last night determined that this would be a GOOD day.

I woke up early, before the kids and my husband.  I sat in the cool quiet downstairs and steeled myself for the day.  I wanted to have a good day and that would be it. The intentions were set, and that is how it was going to be.

It is fascinating how really setting my intentions can make something happen.  I dressed intelligently, and made sure to put on my standard jewelry, which often goes unused on "regular" days.  I put on my charm bracelet, my orange rhino bracelets, my silver necklace, my little earrings and my wedding band.  Decked out, I put on a nice shirt and even shaved my legs.  Starting the day with self-care and beautification really helps.

My friend was running the Sound to Narrows 12K in Tacoma.  She is the one who really got me ready and helped me stay inspired to run my first 5K, so I really wanted to show her our support. My 5-year-old and I made a sign, with the design and the lettering being entirely up to her.  Why not?  It's cute and a bit awkward, just what some fatigued runners may enjoy seeing along the way.

As the kids ate breakfast, I decided I would sit with them during the entire torturous process.  I was determined to enjoy them today, so I did.  It sounds forced, and sometimes felt that way, but it was my goal.

We made the drive to Tacoma, and I promptly got lost.  This was gonna be a good day, dang it, so I relaxed, took some deep breaths and asked for directions.  Long sections of road were closed off for the race, which had already begun, so I had to be creative.  We parked and walked...and walked...and walked...and I was completely lost.  There are a lot of roads and paths in the park.  I asked for directions, then found out that the man I asked didn't even speak English. Oh well.

The kids were starting to complain about being tired and having sore feet.  I was determined to have a good day, so I told them that we would rest when we found Kelly.  We could stop when we found the runners.  We kept our goal of finding the race at the forefront, and I just kept walking.  They stopped whining and kept up with me when they realized I wasn't stopping.  We got to a corner, and there the runners were!  We stood for a few minutes and then Kelly came into view.  She waved, we waved, we all cheered and did high-fives, and the other runners got big smiles on their faces.  Mission Accomplished!  Good day achieved!

Then I figured, since the runners are going in a big loop and we already have this awesome sign, why not catch Kelly at the other end?  So, after a bit more getting lost and asking for directions and being confused, we ended up walking along the back side of the zoo and seeing some buffalo (or maybe yaks?) and some peacocks along the back fence.  Spontaneous fun!  Mission Accomplished More!

We trudged and walked, the kids complained, and I promised snacks at our next stop.  I refused to let the complaining sink in...I let it go by me instead.  We found a corner at the other end, right before the last mile of straight uphill.  We got our sign ready, and I burned off some energy clapping and cheering for all the runners I saw.  They were on the home-stretch!  My daughter planted herself on the ground and waved at the runners.  There were so many smiles I lost count.  Kelly came around the bend and we cheered our heads off.  We stuck around a bit longer and cheered for more runners, really spreading the love.

I realized that in my determination to have a darn good day, I was energized and excited to love these strangers who were pushing themselves for the race.  I had good energy, and sharing it only made my energy stronger.  I felt a bit self-conscious for the first while that I was cheering and clapping, standing on a corner by the zoo parking lot, with two little kids rustling in the bushes.  Then as I got more into it, I remembered how much I loved having people clap for me in my race.  I gave it all I had just for them and I gained so much positivity it was fantastic.  Mission Accomplished Even More!

The kids finally got bored enough that we headed back to the main park.  I asked for directions from a police officer and immediately got lost again (don't judge:  Point Defiance Park is enormous!).  Thank goodness for GPS on my phone.  We walked until we found our bearings...and a duck pond!  We sat and ate granola bars, and talked about which ducks are boys or girls, why they dip under the water, what they eat and why we shouldn't give them our granola bars.  We wandered over to the bathrooms...and they were clean!  And my son's pants were accident-free!  Mission Accomplishment Reaching Maximum!

There is a huge fenced-in rose garden in the park, so the kids and I went in.  Being early June, they were all in their blooms of glory, and the kids ran around exclaiming over each and every blossom, sniffing and loving on the flowers. There was a fuschia test-garden, and then more roses.  I sat on a bench while the kids soaked up every blossom they could.  I wanted to take pictures, but then I decided to totally experience the fun instead.  Mission Experienced!

By this time our feet were sore and it was time to head home for lunch.  On the way back to the van, I realized that I was in a wonderful mood, the kids were doing great, and nobody had shouted or been angry once all morning.  We were tired, and all of us were a little cranky from it, but we were in good spirits.  Starting the day with strong intentions and a desire for a good day really made a difference.  Taking a little bit of time for myself to draw my mind to where I wanted it to be made the morning what it was.

I have control.  I can make it happen.  Once the momentum starts, it is easy to keep up.  Taking those few minutes to get myself in the mind-space I wanted got me off on the right foot.  I even asked my kids how they felt about the day, and they talked about watching ducks, cheering for Kelly, seeing buffalo and sniffing roses.  They don't even mention the "death-marches" or the twisty roads or the sore feet.  I think they took their cues from me and that was all it took.

There is a power to determined positivity.  It works, and it is self-perpetuating.  It just needs to be planted and watered and allowed to bloom.  Positivity is a choice, a choice that is not always easy or palatable.  Sometimes it feels forced, but ultimately it is worth it!

I deserve BEAUTY in my life!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Celebrating Imperfection

"I drive myself less crazy when I focus on the things I can control." --Love & Logic Facebook feed

I've been doing a lot of self-improvement this year.  For some reason, I have decided to embark on a journey of discovering self-love and improving the type of person I am.  This has been a difficult, often painful journey.  Just this morning I was thinking about it and wondering, "Why now?"  Am I getting wiser as I get older?  I'm not so old (unless you ask my kids) that I don't have a whole lot to learn.  

But in the past 6-8 months, improving my relationship with myself has been a top priority.

I think it really started when I went to a 3-day workshop called "Letting Go of What Has You" back in October.  For about 6 months prior to that I had been seeing a therapist for depression and general angst, and she encouraged me to attend.  I wasn't sure I wanted to, but she pushed hard enough that I did.  For this I am thankful, because it started me on a steeply uphill, but ultimately rewarding and life-changing journey.

As my journey has progressed, it seems that the tools for what I need just manifest themselves out of sincerity.  This is important to me, and because I am dedicated, everything I need is simply being made known with little to no effort on my own.

After the Letting Go Seminar, I attended PTI.  Out of that came a community I didn't realize I needed.  I already knew I was lonely, but hadn't realized how lonely I really was.  Friends like these only come along under rare and fortunate circumstances.  Honestly, the bonds formed after experiencing PTI are like none other I have ever known.

My home needed cleaning, and I found the courage to ask for help from my parents, then shortly after that, I re-discovered my Beauty Box.

As I gained momentum, my guilt and shame over some poor parenting habits came to the surface.  It was painful to work through them, and I really am making an effort.  It is really, really hard to be the kind of Mom I want to be.  I have had to work through and release some of my preconceived notions, and some of my own guilt.  With the internet right there, I had really spiraled myself into feeling like I was an utter and complete failure.  I was setting my standards based on what I was reading on Facebook, Pinterest and the blogs of the world.  How can I possibly measure up?  I must be a failure.

I'm not!!  I discovered Love&Logic parenting, Celebrate Calm and The Orange Rhino.  I now get their newsletters in my email, and I follow them on Facebook.  I don't need to be scolded about yelling, reminded how terrible TV is, or berated for thinking Otter Pops are a good snack.  I need to be reassured that parenting is hard, that being compassionate every second of the day is not humanly possible, and that it is okay to dust myself off, apologize to the kids, and try again.  A few tips for being successful for the next time are always welcome encouragement as well.

Then I started running.  I have discovered that I think I might like it.  The running just started really on its own, with encouragement from a friend.  The app I used was so easy, it tricked me into thinking I could do a 5K...and it was right. I still laugh when I think about it.  Okay, so it wasn't quite that easy, but it really was surprisingly less difficult to train for than I thought it would be.

So many opportunities for fine-tuning myself have shown up in the past few months.  I really wonder what the corner was that I turned, but I definitely like it.

I am working on being more forgiving of myself.  My imperfections are a part of me, they are who I am.  This doesn't mean that I can't polish them up a bit, maybe sand down a few rough spots.   This quest to recognize the beauty in my life is an adventure.  In simply celebrating my imperfections, recognizing what I can do to bolster them up, and having greater love for the little things, I am feeling lighter and cleaner.

Some parts are still pretty rough.  Housekeeping is such a drudgery and a challenge for me.  I recognize this about myself, but the next step is to have enough love for myself to refuse to be a victim.  I will not be a victim of a messy house, or my stubborn refusal to maintain it.  I will do what I need to do to have a pleasant, live-able space for my family...and I will get back up again when I fall.

Seeing others with compassion is something that has gotten easier for me this year, while having pride in myself and believing in my own power.  I was challenged by a colleague to transfer this to having compassion  for myself.  I really do feel like I am on track, and it is a beautiful thing!

Today, I celebrate imperfection and everything beautiful that entails. I celebrate my humanity, that I am dust, that my imperfection gives me opportunities for redemption in my relationships. Imperfection means I walk without the burden of the perfect answer, the perfect solution…because sometimes there isn't one. It relieves me of the compulsion to control people and situations. Imperfection allows grace and mercy to flood my life. Imperfection means right relationships are more important than right behavior. –Celebrate Calm

I deserve BEAUTY in my life!

Monday, June 3, 2013

We Were All Sick

A very potent tummy bug hit my house at the end of last week.  This is not your standard tummy bug, no 24-hour ickiness.  It was horrendous.

To spare details, let's just say that everyone in my house has either been throwing up or cleaning up since Thursday evening, and I'm still lacking in appetite.  It hit me Saturday evening, and I spent all day Sunday feeling for all the world like I had malaria again...fever, headache, bone ache, sweats and chills, nausea...terrible.

Part of my journey is to seek the beauty in my every day life.  Some days it is easier than others.  I have not seen much obvious beauty in the past 5 days.  Here is my attempt to recognize the beauty that has made itself known during these dreadful several days:

  • Only one of us was sick at a time...and my husband didn't catch it at all.
  • Coffee grounds sprinkled generously on a spatter will absorb the mess and cover the smell, making it much easier to clean up.
  • Resolve Carpet Cleaner is a beautiful thing.  It's like an infomercial in a bottle.
  • My husband's trusty Shop-Vac got a hefty workout and never once quit or failed on us.
  • Swiffer Wet-Jet with refills.  'Nuff said. 
  • I stocked up on Gatorade a few months ago when it was really cheap.  I was able to just put it in the fridge from the pantry to have on hand, rather than having to run to the store.
  • My washer and dryer are work-horses.  They were going all weekend with sheets, blankets, clothes and jammies, and they never complained a bit.
  • Scented candles are my friend.
  • Lysol wipes get dried on ANYTHING off of ANYTHING.  So do Mr. Clean Magic Erasers.
  • Toddler mattresses are covered in plastic so when the diapers continuously fail at night or nap, clean-up is nowhere near as bad as it could have been.
  • Tylenol reduces fever so that this exhausted Mommy could rest at night.
  • Hot showers feel soooo good at the end of a day of fever 'n' ague.
  • We are all able-bodied and strong enough to withstand a long-weekend plague and come out ultimately unscathed on the other side.

I have a lot to be thankful for.

I deserve BEAUTY in my life!

Sunday, June 2, 2013


You know what's hard?  Hopscotch.  If you play it right, there are a lot of moving pieces involved!

There's the hopping bit, but also the tossing of the stone and picking it back up again on the way back!  You have to remember which square you are on, try not to step on the lines, pick up the rock without falling on your face, and survive the cardio. Drawing a relatively square hopscotch is pretty tough, too.

I was soundly beaten by my 5-year-old.  The kid is really good!  She would play every single day if we could.

Nothing shakes the blahs like a good round of hopscotch.  I need to find a way to play it inside on a rainy day, since we get our fair share of them in Washington.  Just a bit of movement, giggles about falling over, and the physical challenge can really help ease tension.

Hmmm....I need to get creative.  Maybe I can make something out of string, or strips of fabric.  Maybe I could paint it on the kitchen floor with tempera paint, let it dry and then wash it off when we're done.  I'm not sure yet, but I have decided I need indoor hopscotch.

I deserve BEAUTY in my life!