Celebrating the little things

Today started with a radio interview downtown about the importance of funding education. I walked past beautiful murals in the alleyway, my coffee steaming as I strolled past the European shoe store and the local bakery. The homeless women they call blonde was having a vibrant conversation with the universe, the glass door on the station was smashed and covered with duct tape, “someone got frustrated after leaving the bar Thursday night”, the station manager said.

The interview went well (I think).

Next I headed to the grocery store where I took a little extra time for shopping. A small gift to myself. I treated myself to fresh flowers, a grapefruit, and cilantro. Then picked up an extra bouquet for the family who had my son over for a sleepover last night. It was such a nice experience, like looking through a magazine, it seems luxurious.

I picked up the sweet boy, delivered flowers to a happy friend, visited a delightful cat we are caring for this weekend, and came home with bunches of groceries.

The tall girl roasted chick peas, the little one and I made a basil, tomato, cucumber and the middle one cleaned out the fridge and did the dishes while singing the favorite song of the moment.

Next we went to a birthday party for a 10 year old child. Balloons, piñata, and my new favorite game bananagrams. We immediately went to Target and bought it.

Then off to the last elementary school carnival. With three kids in school, I have been volunteering and driving across town for about 10 years. Cheers to being almost done with that!

A ton of fun was had by all.

On our drive home I asked for a volunteer to help me make dinner. Not surprisingly, no one did, it was like crickets. Post lecture about helping when asked as a sign you love the person, I had a volunteer.

We worked together to make barbecue chicken, salad, and mango sorbet. Light, fresh and colorful, just like summer that is slowly arriving.

It’s moments like this that add up to a beautiful day. Yesterday, I wrote about creating comfort for oneself. Today, was a very good step in the right direction.

Remember to celebrate the little things, it creates joy in the moment and adds up over time to create happiness, we just have to pay attention.

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Get it together, or at least a few steps in that direction

I totally thought my parents had it together when I was a kid. I ate food everyday, I slept a reasonable amount and had clothing to wear. We weren’t rich but we had enough.

These days, I look around at my friends and it seems like we are all overworked and overtired. We drive 5 hours so our kid can play in a volleyball tournament, cheer loudly, fill up water bottles, come home and start work the next day.

We budget and worry and calculate and measure to make sure there is enough for everyone.

We are getting more gray hair, texting at stoplights, and can’t find any clean socks.

I imagine there are different, better ways to do this. And I’m setting out on an adventure to figure out how. How to fall in love with your life, kids, partner, health, work and friends. How to travel, like actually save up and do it, not just set aside $25 a month and then in a pinch transfer those funds to cover groceries. How to live within our means, use what we have and slow it down enough that we don’t spend money on just being busy.

Step 1 go to sleep. Early. There is no magic show or Facebook post that is going to change your life. You are the only one who can do that. So get some flipping sleep.

Step 2 laugh, like for real. Tell your kids to tell you one of their ridiculous jokes, watch anything with Melissa McCarthy or Ellen. Just let loose for a minute. The laundry-dishes-bills-homework-dinner can wait until you have a good belly chuckle.

Step 3 acquire beauty. Pick a flower, buy yourself some new flowers, a dress, a kitchen towel, a new pair of earrings. It doesn’t matter what it is, if it is beautiful to you, go for it.

Step 4 get yourself a date. With your partner, friend, kid, yourself. The point is to set aside some time for you to be with someone special.

Step 5 repeat. Repeat, and add new steps to this recipe. It doesn’t matter which order, just go for it and repeat. And for the love, add some flare to it. Get your groove going, whatever that is for you.

Now, if you will excuse me, I need to put on my India Aire Album, eat all of the orange M-n-Ms, and paint my toes.

Enjoy doing whatever it is that reminds you that you are a beautiful, radiant, imperfect but perfect in your own way, work of art. And your painting starts right here.

Mama love,
T

Finding your center

Depositphotos_32107507_l-2015Sometimes, we all get a little lost.

Sometimes it’s lost in love – with a partner or a new baby.

Sometimes it’s lost in grief – from the passing of a loved one or the letting go of a big dream.

Sometimes it’s busyness that we lose ourselves in – the bills, work, volunteering, kid schedules.

Easy to do. The question is, how do you find your center?

It’s different for everyone. Some write books, others travel, some change jobs or relationships or hobbies.

For me it’s about the little things. Making small changes that add up to big results.

This morning, for example, I woke up early and cleaned my room. The floor began to take on an obstacle course vibe with shoes and clothes, everywhere. Sure, I was out of town quite a bit, then a volleyball tournament for my daughter, but regardless it was a disaster. I didn’t realize it, but subconsciously it said I had sort of given up. There was too much to do so, why even try. As it turns out, it didn’t really take that long and now, I am able to sit in a chair with my mom’s favorite pink blanket on my lap as I write. All because of a little tidying that made the whole room open up with possibility.

Yesterday, I decided to sit down and write, for the first time in a couple of years since my Mom was diagnosed with cancer. She passed away in 4 months ago, and I just haven’t been able to write words about it or anything really. I decided to just sit down and see what happened. I wrote a post called what words do you say? . It wasn’t easy but after a while, it just sort of flowed. It was healing and rewarding to see that I could still do it. Tonight, I was inspired to write as well. Again, a little step, but in a lovely direction.

If you are looking to make a change in some area, what little thing can you do? It could be in the direction of a certain goal – take a walk if you are looking to get in shape, prepare a new recipe if you want to expand your cooking skills, call a loved one if you want more closeness in your life. Or maybe just do something fun or frivolous – but something that says to you, I am awesome, I matter, I am loved.

Blessings on your journey, it all starts with just one step. Happy travels. Oh and don’t forget to laugh. It’s contagious.

cupcake

It’s the little things 

This is a pitcher. It’s filled with water, and infused with pineapple, blueberries and raspberries. It makes me so happy, I barely have the words for it. But I will try.

I know it’s ridiculous to be in love with infused water, but I am and here’s why…

I learned about it recently at our local hospital where my mom was receiving care for 6 days. Our days were filled with doctors, medicines, sweet talks and visits from friends and family.

Each day I would walk down to the cafeteria and look forward to seeing the water flavors of the day. Cucumber Lemon, Raspberry Peach, Pineapple Mint, Watermelon.

No matter what was going on that day, I would choose a flavor and enjoy the subtly aromatic fruits and herbs. It isn’t like juice, or coffee, or beer. It’s a cool liquid with hints of fresh flavors that awakens even the most weary traveler with its sweetness.

Some flavors would remind me of trips to Hawaii, or summer. Other flavors made me feel like I just ran my hands through our herb garden in the early morning, the aromas wafting around me, wrapping me in a special blanket of delight.

Sometimes, it’s the little things that bring us joy. The delighted face of my daughter as she blocks the volleyball, the twinkle in my mom’s eyes as the jello wiggles on the spoon, the sparkling candles my partner lit for me, the softness of my youngest son’s hair as I give him a head rub and the wonder in my oldest son’s eyes as he stares at the rain coming down.

For all of these moments of joy, in the tough times and the easy ones, I am very grateful. Cheers!

To the season 

The morning is crisp, 

cool air and soft pinks fill the horizon,

as birds awaken us to the day. 

Light drops of rain welcomed, 

after the fiery heat of a dry summer. 

The leaves on our favorite tree 

turn from vibrant green to a warm gold. 

The season of autumn begins. 

School supplies purchased, 

backpacks packed, 

children return to their studies. 

Lazy hours at the lake replaced by 
routines, 

volleyball games 

and steaming soups in the kitchen.

Fall arrives with intentions

let go, 

slow down, 

family, 

hearth and home. 

Vacations are done for now, 

short sleeves turn into long

as we welcome the new season. 

Bittersweet yet beautiful, 

the summer heat 

simmers instead of burns.

Thoughts of knitting, 

pumpkins, Thanksgiving, 

and gratitude fill the imagination.

Always gratitude. 

As the season changes, 

we express love to the summer for its many gifts 

and move into 

the season of harvest and gratitude. 

I raise my glass of tea, 

to the season of summer, thank you. 

To the season of autumn, welcome.

Balancing act 

I don’t seem to know how to write much these days. My mom has cancer and she is living with us now. Each day is totally different. I wake up in the morning and check on her and the day starts from there. I administer pain pills or talk finances or give hugs, then wake up the kids and take them to their various places. By the time I get to work sometimes I feel like I’ve had a full day already. 

She’s off to chemo today with a friend. She doesn’t feel well already but is determined to go. God Bless her strength and determination. 

I don’t know how to do this, I’ve never done it before. I see my self care slipping by the wayside with everyone else’s needs. I haven’t seemed to figure out how to get enough quiet, sleep, good food and exercise while managing all of these factors. Instead it’s been slow strolls, grabbing salads for lunch, coffee on the way to work, and ice cream before bed. I have goals of exercise first thing in the morning and bedtime routines that foster sleep, those goals are a work in progress these days. 

I read once that if you want to change something in your life you should live by the 5% rule. Do something 5% more or less each day. Get on the treadmill for 5 minutes if that’s what you have, do a little bit of straightening the house, have sorbet instead of ice cream. But then do that 5% consistently and add on as you can. 

So that’s my goal for today, be 5% more loving to myself, with a gentle walk, and some self compassion.

Balancing all of these factors is a challenge. Another way of saying that is… balancing all of these factors is an opportunity for growth. I choose opportunity. And I choose to be loving to my wonderful family and to myself, one moment at a time. 

I am a different person

oak-trees-18Sometimes we have to crash face first over the bicycle rails to see things clearly. Metaphorically, I did that recently. It wasn’t fun. But then, I picked myself up and said to myself, I am starting a new life. I life lived in balance and in love.

I am brave.

I am in charge of my life. The schedule or the kids needs do not control me.

I am raising three kids by myself. And that hurts and it’s hard. But I am not going to run myself into the ground any more to avoid the pain. I am going to sit with it and let it move through me, like waves on the beach. And I will rise, perhaps a little drenched but free.

I am doing my best. I have recently learned that I was going way too fast (hence the crash). Now that I know better, I can do different.

It won’t be easy, this new habit and lifestyle of slowing down enough to feel. And yet, I am ok with that. Because, this, right here, is the messy, beauty of life.

I will not hide from the wind as it rushes, past bringing stories of old and fears on its tails. I will stand, like the mighty oak tree and let it blow through my branches. Yes, the leaves with rustle, yes the rain will wash down my smooth bark and still, I will stand.

I will stand, rooted in life, love, God and the knowing that I am a different person than I was before.

 

reboot

You know how those wise computer people say to turn off your computer on the weekends so it can reboot and install updates? Well, I kinda learned that this week.

While I’ve started this post with computer references, let me just go on record and say I know nothing about computers and this, as with all of my posts, is about life, and figuring it out (or at least attempting too).

I have had a lot going on for awhile. Let me illustrate:

I’ve been a single mama of three hella bright precocious children for 10 years.

My beautiful, inspiring mom was diagnosed with cancer last year and is fighting with the strength of 1000 warriors.

I am the Executive Director of a nonprofit Educational Organization. I raised $400,000 in 4 meetings last week (woot!).

My daughter is graduating from 8th grade and plays club volleyball which has us all over the region every weekend.

All of my kids are musical, they take piano lessons, play guitar, sing in choirs, etc.

My two boys…one is building a rocket on the dining room table as I write, the other one is at grampa’s house, helping him make gluten free bread.

(When I write all of this, it looks ridiculous. Like hello, one person is not capable of doing all of this!)

So anyways, I started not feeling well a few days ago. I’m anemic and I thought it was that. Turns out after a long day in ER that my stress was so high, my heart created an irregular rhythm to try to deal with it. Oh.

The ER doctor gave me a letter that said, no work until next Tuesday. Huh.

So, I came home (by that I mean my dad drove me home) and sat on the couch, for a long time. My dad made dinner, and I worked on chilling the heck out.

I started with working on my belly breathing (thanks yoga) and figuring out what I can take off my list. I decided to send my daughter to the volleyball tournament this weekend with another family. I asked my dad to take the boys for the weekend. I wrote and I wrote and I cried and I breathed. I started to feel much better. Today, I feel pretty much back to normal.

This was a wake up call. I have been running for so long without stopping that my operating system was thinking about getting out of whack. Hence, the reboot.

Today, after I said goodbye to my daughter, I had a huge meltdown. She is getting older and I have 4 years with her before she graduates and takes on the world herself. Time is so precious. As I sat there with the tears pouring onto my hoodie, I felt like such a failure. Failing at doing all of the things I want to do. Failing at self care and being a good mom and spending enough time with my kids, my mom, my dad, my friends. Failing at holding it all together.

And then I remembered something a dear friend said to me once, she said, “Tanya, why are you being so hard on yourself? If this was happening to a friend of yours or one of your kids, you would wrap them up in your arms, tell them how much you love them and how capable they are. Do that for yourself.” Oh.

Another friend said, “it’s not you that is broken, it’s the system. The go all the time, crazy rush of American life.” Oh. 

So, it is with self compassion I say to myself, “you’ve come a long way baby. You deserve a break to slow down and reboot. Welcome it with open arms, it’s a message and you need to hear it.”

So, the rebooting starts. I will be offline, in nature, with loved ones and learning how to sustain and balance this precious life. 

Take care of yourself. Reboot if needed. Breathe and repeat. You’ve got this. And do do I. 

Time 

The hourglass,

The seasons,

Timelines and deadlines,

Graduations 

Beginnings and endings. 

Time sees all.

Occasionally I think I can control and affect time, 

But then I realize she is a force all her own. 

“It goes so fast”, people say. Others have “all the time in the world”.

I mostly say “I want more time”. With loved ones, to create poetry and art, to move my body. 

How do we create more time? Is there an answer the this mystic question?

I don’t know. 

But today, I will say how grateful I am for time.  

To be, laugh, rest, inspire, love and imagine. 

To grow, live, empower and adventure. 

I will acknowledge time as my ally in this walk.

With intention and grace I will continue to balance priorities,

and embrace time, 

as a friend.

Too much

Too much. There is too much on my plate.

I don’t even know where to start. Work is a full-time plus job. Three kids by myself with activities galore, sure that’s a lot. It’s my youngest son’s birthday this week so I will be belaying 8 boys at the rock climbing gym and then they will be all sleeping over. There is no time to get the food or clean the house because I am going to work and to hear the results of my mom’s cancer tests in Seattle tomorrow. But don’t worry, i’ve got it all, just like I always do.

But you know what I have to say to that? Not cool. Not cool that I am doing this all. In fact, it’s a miracle that I am holding all of this together. Tonight, I just lost all energy. I picked up kids from piano $80, after picking up my car from the shop $1569, ordered pizza $45, sat on the couch and ate 4 pieces, washing it down with a glass of wine and cup of chocolate chips while ordering tickets to my son’s concert on Saturday $66. Too much. Too much money, crappy food, work, stress, and lack of down time. Too much raising kids in isolation instead of a community. Too much sadness in my heart that doesn’t have time or room to release. Too many dishes, granola bar wrappers and dirty socks.

Too much.

So, you might be thinking, what is she going to do about it? Right?! Great question.

Well…

  1. take a bath with candles
  2. drink water (instead of the coffee I have been drinking all day)
  3. write it out
  4. make a plan
  5. go to bed on time
  6. show myself some compassion
  7. listen and express my feelings 
  8. Trust God 

I am so angry. Angry that I am in this situation. Angry that my mom has cancer. Angry that my house is a mess and I don’t have anyone to back me up. Angry that I keep up appearances, so that everything will look pretty and no one will worry. When in fact, i’m pissed. My room is a mess, no amount of buying clothes or watching TV is fixing the fact that my mom has cancer and I’m scared. I’m scared of losing her. I want time to stop and time for me to catch my breath and just sit and hold her hand.

Logically I know that pizza, tv or dessert will not numb the sad and scared feelings. But some part of me just wants some kind of comfort and respite from these feelings.

I should go for a walk, or pick the clothes off my floor but just have no motivation to do that. Because, why should I things be better for me when she has cancer. Why do I deserve more than she is having right now. I can’t take the cancer away, but at least I can be miserable too. (that is some crazy logic now that I write it down). Who am I to be powerful, strong and bold when she is uncomfortable.

Would I want my daughter to stop taking care of herself because I wasn’t well? Heck no. That is not a sign of solidarity, that is a sign of depression and self sabatoge.

Dear me, this moment is hard. It totally sucks. And, you are stronger than you know. Be strong for your mom and yourself.

So, as this moment comes to a close, I take a deep breath, feel the feelings and thank God for the beauty that is my life. In any situation, ALWAYS, there is room for gratitude. And #trustgod