Tuesday, 21 October 2014

I Will Still Wash Her Feet

My daughter refuses to go barefoot. Not even for a minute. She wants to wear socks to bed. She begs to keep them on in the shower. She panics when we change them. Her socks stay on at gymnastics even though it hinders some activities. Cutting her nails is torture, if I even get a chance to see them. 

My sweet girl has been traumatized by a cut to the foot and now she wants to keep her feet safely covered.

I understand. I have struggled to rid the aftereffects of many terrorizing experiences. After a hard and unexpected smack to the jaw I hated having hands anywhere near my face for years and years. After totaling my car on a winter trip nine years ago I have remained unable to drive on a snowy highway. I even have a silly habit of storing my bread in the freezer because I'm afraid of accidentally eating moldy bread again. The moldy bread incident was 17 years ago. 

I know that life includes unfortunate events. My daughter is going to have to deal with some. It is part of learning. Hopefully, oh hopefully, not too many ordeals will be inflicted by me.

You see, I was the one who cut her foot. Yup. Me. I sliced her foot. 

Totally by accident. But still, she sees my hands near her feet and she can't even hear my words of reassurance through her worry. She asks over and over if I'm going to cut her foot. Her dad is astounded by her fear. It pains me to know I caused this stress. That her mother's loving touch induces panic if her socks come off. 

I caused her anxiety. And I inevitably will cause more. Not to this extent. But in general it is something I probably try too hard to avoid. I've barely punished her for doing wrong. I worry too much about my words. I even question my facial expressions when I respond. But everything in me wants her to enjoy life and not be traumatized by growing up. I so much want her to not be traumatized by me.

I would label my own childhood as very stressful. It had too many objectionable twists. It made me an insecure, fearful, untrusting, judgemental, indecisive, procrastinating worrier. And most certainly, the majority of incidents or situations were not planned or intentional or preferable in the eyes of my caregivers. Some repercussions were likely not even realized.

Like most parents, I try to avoid duplicating the scenarios that I deemed frustrating in my upbringing.

But I'm starting to see that it won't guarantee an ideal path. There will be regrets, no matter what. There will be mistakes, no matter what. And most importantly, there will be times where my actions won't be perceived as I intended.

Of course, the blade in my hand wasn't supposed to cut her skin. I went to scrape a rough spot on her other foot and she panicked and kicked the blade. And instantly saw blood dripping from her flesh.  

Mistakes. Misunderstandings. Set backs. That's life. There is no such thing as doing it right. There is no such thing as the perfect upbringing. It is about trying. It is about learning as you go. Developing trust. Refocusing when life gets off track. And re-building that trust when something unfortunate happens to break it. 

I'm praying it won't be years of having an issue. Hopefully it will only be short lived. Something I will mention to her later and she won't at all recall. But, if not, life will go on. Add it to the things she will need to work on.

I can't undo mistakes. I can't let worry block moving forward. 

I'm still going to wash her feet. Hopefully, not with too much anxiety. 

Friday, 29 August 2014

Now Said To Then

Now said to Then, "Don't worry. It will change. Really." Now knew how utterly impossible those words sounded. Now remembered how terribly deep and unimaginable the pain was daily. 

Then asked, "Do you truly remember? Can you empathize any more? Do you recall how all-encompassing the pain felt?"

How could Now forget?

She reluctantly walked down the hall. Her head painfully pounded in fear as she felt completely ignored by the crowd in her invisibility. Yet she simultaneously felt mocked by each set of eyes that happened to look her way. Shoulders slumped, she shyly kept her eyes gazed on the bare floor, avoiding any contact. But longing so much for some positive connection. 

She looked disdainfully at her clothes. Embarrassed at their lack of contributing to any acceptable status and hoping that nothing would bring her any attention. Attention that brought hot blood flowing to her face and made her dizzy and confused.

Why couldn't she appreciate any acknowledgement? Why couldn't a smile or question pierce the loneliness and bring her out into the moment in her crowded surroundings? Instead she was left behind this huge wall that blinded her from seeing any relational opportunity. It suffocated her. Her every muscle ached. 

She bit her lip to keep away the tears. Her stomach continued to cramp as always. She could think of many excuses to leave. She had run away so many times. But where would she go? The solace from one pain would only bring her face to face with another. Then, she would ultimately be expected to return again.

She realized at that moment she wasn't breathing. She felt faint. Every sound shamefully accused her. Every laugh felt directed at her miserable presence. She couldn't take it any more. 

What if she didn't come back? Would anyone notice? Would the daily routine followed by any other human being have to be adjusted for her absence? 

No. Their lives would only continue. Oblivious to those who's eyes desperately cried out in pain for fellowship. Who's hands mortified her as they again trembled in self doubt. Who's feet plodded forward despite the distraction of anguish that never left.

Then knew it would never go away. The tormenting shadow followed her every moment, clouding her eyes and pushing weight onto her shoulders with every thought of mistakes made and assumptions proven and heartache cemented and embarrassments endured.

She piled on the shame with every effort to cope. Every attempt to drink away the timidity. Every effort to puff out the inner turmoil. Every trampish grasp for affection. 

Why was it like this? How could she stop caring? Stop thinking? Stop failing? Stop worrying? Stop snowballing? 

There appeared only one solution. It lingered in the back of her mind always. A permanent solution. The accusations would be gone. The misunderstandings would become unnecessary. The pain would disappear. 

Or would it? What if the anguish remained for eternity? If it followed her to the other side?

"No!" Screamed Now. "It will change! The pain will lessen. The heartache will fade. The doubt will decrease. The confusion will subside.

"And in their place hope will grow. Love will bloom. Appreciation will creep in. Faith will strengthen. Joy will present itself. Healing will begin."

But Then could not hear. Would not hear. Instead, she had to discover the new life slowly. She had to actually attempt her escape. She had to cry her tears. She had to call out in desperation. She had to learn to forgive bit by bit by bit. One impossible step forward and two difficult steps back. 

Your Later sees your Today. Trying to dry your tears. Attempting to give you a glimpse of what will be. Cheering you on in your battle. 

You don't hear Later. Just like my Then didn't hear my Now.

Just believe it exists. That will be enough to help you keep going. You are heading toward something.

There is a future. 

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Because I Told You So

"Why, mommy?"
"Because I told you so!"

It is the easiest answer in frustration. It is the quickest answer when busy. It is the simplest answer when we don't want to reveal our own insecurities or weaknesses. It is the finite answer when there are just too many questions.  

But what does it really say? It says not to ask questions. It says not to seek understanding. It says to never try to persuade or debate. 

Of course, I don't think it's right for a child to push continuously when they've been told something. And questions can easily turn into an argument that a child shouldn't have with an adult. (I remember my mom telling me I argued too much. We'll see how I feel faced with the same resistance.) I know in some situations an explanation is not needed and in other situations our tone should get prompt obedience because of safety issues.

But "because I told you so" is a very closing response. 

Fast forward to adulthood. Why do you do what you do? Work the way you work? Believe what you believe? Because someone told you to. 

The last thing l want is for my child to go along with something she doesn't agree with and not question whether it is right or wrong. I want her to be open to thinking about what she is doing and why she is doing it. 

I don't want her to be afraid to seek understanding. To open up a dialogue and talk about anything.

You could think that as a result she would be less likely to successfully work under authority. But I think it would do the very opposite. It would be easier to respect leaders if one has confidence in their own ability to be informed on making a decision. I am more comfortable working under someone if I know I can clarify instructions. It is stressful to work under someone when this kind of dialogue is not permitted.

There are many who struggle to do what they are told because they had no freedom. Sometimes people stick to something because it is the opposite of what was forced on them previously. I don't really like to wear slippers because my step dad insisted, saying that I would ruin my socks. I figure there are other acceptable options. Like cheap socks. 

In my current household it appears that stalling is a growing tactic. Getting from the car to the house or vice versa is taking so much longer. But as I have my agenda in my mind and it is halted by an inquisitive follower, I'm hoping to be able to recognize those opportunities in which I can take a moment longer and help her expand in her discernment of her world and it's never ceasing "why". 

Now, "Get in the truck!"
"Because we are running late. Again."

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Of Course You Want Food

Everyone handles stress in their own way. We can try to understand someone else and how they cope. But we can't fully empathize because of our separate experiences. Our childhoods. Our focus. Our mistakes. Our hopes. It all uniquely conglomerates and creates an individual path to dealing with pain, stress, regret, exhaustion, or whatever else is weighing us down.

My main coping mechanism is avoidance. Just what I'm doing now. I feel overwhelmed with what I have to do so I won't do it. Unfortunately, I also married someone who, round about in his own way, over-busies himself so he has no time for certain things. Put us together and it means some things just aren't getting done. 

But another coping method we do not jive in at all is the idea of food for comfort. The worse my sleep, the heartier the breakfast I crave. The more things on my mind, the more chocolate calls my name. A rough day is made better with a nice homecooked meal. Or butter chicken. And after dark my stress turns into a gluttonous attempt to fill myself with joy through my pie hole.  

I figure the way to the heart is through the taste buds. But my husband doesn't want to eat under stress. What?! How could that be? I am unable to comprehend. 

He can't eat when he's busy. He can't eat rushing out the door. He can't eat when he's stressed. He can't eat when there are calls to make or arguments to settle. He can't eat when discussing anything. The last thing on his mind in a bad mood is taking time to stuff his face.

I'm sure if you go into any home there will be some sort of argument that seems absurd. There will be some situation that has grown over time in a way that those not involved could never truly comprehend. And in our house, it's food. 

I beg him to eat when he doesn't want to have anything. I tell him how important a consistent diet is for his health. All because it makes sense to me. My solution will make him feel better. He'd realize it if he would cooperate. 

Or not. 

Maybe, just maybe, it's not going to change. Just like the friend who doesn't like to talk about her problems probably never will open right up. Just like the coworker who can't face his actions probably never will be honest with himself. Just like the family member who will never feel close no matter how much anyone tries. Just like the introvert won't become a social butterfly. Or the overly expressive person won't be able to hold it in. 

We're not all created to make it through with the same crutches. The same outs. The same revelations. 

What I need isn't what the next person needs. When I need dark chocolate ice cream with chunks of fudge, the next person might just need a hug. I don't get it. My coping came out of a childhood restriction from chocolate and a severe shyness. But for them, imagine if in response to their need no one would ever give them a hug? If they were offered chips and cheezies and milkshakes and cake, when they just longed for affection. 

When I need a nice juicy burger with cheese and bacon, the next person just might need a nap. I'm not on board. I recall my mom taking me out for burgers after a night out or the stress of a breakup. But for them, imagine if in response to their need no one ever let them rest? If they were dragged out for fries or hot wings or pie and ice cream, when they just needed to be alone. 

Often, it just isn't better until we take that moment to go back to our comforts. Whether or not they match the needs or wants of those around us. Yes, we all need to learn to deal with things properly. Especially when a five dollar ice cap isn't going to help financial burden. Or a long book isn't going to erase the extensive to-do list.

But when we have to face things together we have to remember that we might not always want to go in the same direction. This requires a bit of observing and listening and being patient and letting go. 

Now, I'm exhausted. My daughter fell asleep, but I didn't. So I'm going to go to the fridge and find some energy. 

Sunday, 3 August 2014

My Undone List

Often we have a set of tasks we decisively set on completing. A list of things we need to have done. And this is good. Lists are good. Goals are good. 

But sometimes life comes in and says, no way, that is not what is going to happen. This is quite a pet peeve of mine. Especially when it is what life says to other people. I get so annoyed when friends or family fall through on plans. When they don't do what they said they would do.

I think I get more aggravated because I question how much is life really getting in the way and how much is just excuse. If it really mattered, would they have done it anyway?

It seems life is intent on teaching me that sometimes, I can't just means I can't.

My husband is returning in a few days from a job away. While he was gone I had huge overhaul plans. I was going to get rid of things not used. I was going to amaze him with my hard work. And it started okay. 

I cleared out of a bunch of stuff. I washed the siding by the entrance. I searched and destroyed a dozen wasps nests. I cleaned out and organized the pantry and the storage room and the fridge and freezer. I was checking things off the list. And I had another whole three days off, and a few evenings, to hit 'er hard and get 'er done. 

But then on Wednesday I started to feel unwell. By Thursday I felt horrid. I left work and went home. But a few hours later I was up in the hospital severely nauseous with excruciating stomach pains. They determined it was probably viral and sent me home to bed. I was useless but hopefully by the end of the weekend I would be able to get a little bit more work done.  

But it was not so. Sunday morning I went back up when it became very clear that I was not getting better. I'll spare you the details. 

So my diagnosis was changed from viral, and run it's course, to bacterial, and requiring treatment. But tests had to be done to determine which bacteria, and that may take days. 

So here I am, on a Sunday afternoon, getting nothing checked off my list. All my energy must be used to feed my toddler and try to convince her I'm not a Jungle Gym. To wipe her bum and make sure she washes her hands. Other than that, it's been sleep, books, movies, watching her play (which is quite entertaining), Facebook and Pinterest. Nothing productive. 

No weed eating. No moving the lawn. No emptying out the shed to organize. No dump run. No cleaning the fish tank. 

Not only will my self imposed list not be done, but my husband may just return to laundry piled up, dirty dishes, and a layer of grit on the floor. 

My first thought was, would he have stopped working feeling like this? He is a hard worker. He pushes through everything. I feel he may not be aware of how awful I feel. Not that he would actually judge me. He wasn't the one who made the list. I think I may have to let go of some pride as well. I intended to have my man in awe. I wanted him to be proud of me. And I wanted him to learn something. I wanted to show him a list that got done.

But it appears I just have to trust he loves me and he's happy that I'm okay and he won't be excited to see what I did. He'll be excited to see me.

And I'll be happy to see him to be with him and enjoy his company and watch him with his daughter. Not to show him my amazingly accomplished list. 

Saturday, 2 August 2014

She Is Not Me.

As the freckles start to dot the bridge of my daughter's adorable nose I see more of myself in her face. (Well, somewhat, as I don't find my nose adorable). As she hungers for more and more books I find pride in her familiar curiosity. As she desires to greet strange animals I recognize her mutual connection to nature. I smile as she tidies up and points out things out of place, hoping that this will help her instead of hindering her future by stressing her out. I laugh as her request for a snack or meal often reflects my most desired nourishment, chocolate. 

Day by day I notice myself in her expressions and preferences. There is one area, though, in which I cannot relate. 

It wasn't until I was at least a quarter of a century in age before I was even close to comfortable inviting someone new into my world. Even then, it was a big step for me. 

A while ago my daughter was at a party with a group of familiar people when she invited a little boy at the next table in the park to play. It seemed if anyone came along that she didn't know, she would eagerly invite them in.

I've seen her approach many strangers at the park. Even asking teenagers to play tag. She constantly asks people their names. 

And it baffles me. It is so different than my own actions as a child. My shyness was already quite strong by two years of age. Eye contact was difficult. Asking any questions was torture. 

As I watch her grow and learn I have to remember something important. I can't let my stained view of past events and situations determine how those same situations would effect my confident child. 

Because she is not me. 

Yes, when the little boy refused to talk to her and she questioned why, she was confused and curious. But that doesn't mean she was feeling the pain of rejection that tormented me for years. She doesn't know the deep sorrow of feeling like no one is actually truly there. And I don't want my face and my reaction to tell her it should bother her more than it does. 

Maybe he was shy. Maybe he was grumpy from being tired or hungry. Maybe his parents told him not to talk to people he didn't know. Maybe he just found her too cute. Or too confident. 

Yes, when the friend played with her well until a closer friend came along, she didn't understand the sudden change. She just wanted to keep having fun. But that doesn't mean she spiraled into a snow-ball of thoughts of why she wasn't good enough. She doesn't have the constant worry that she is failing in her actions. And I don't want to be over concerned for her and make her surmise that it is her fault. 

Maybe she is a good enough friend but the other friend needs more attention. Maybe they had plans to get together and were excited to see each other. Maybe people take turns with their affections and it would come back again.

Maybe, just maybe, we need not over analyze. Imagine that! Imagine the freedom in just letting it go. Moving on. Enjoying the next opportunity.

My tendency to overthink can lead to a habit of over explaining. But sometimes an in depth explanation is unnecessary. Life is too short. And full of opportunity. Opportunity I missed when too busy questioning why or why not.  

I am certain as she ages it will bring up more issues from my past. Her world is not my world and I'm heading into the unknown but I know there are certainties. Rejection. Misunderstanding. Heartache. Failure. 

But she doesn't have to be ruled by these things as she comes across them. She doesn't have to let them disable her. She doesn't have to let them direct her future. 

Life is a stressful place. But looking at my daughter as she enjoys getting out, enjoys new things, enjoys people, enjoys life, I must remember that growing up I missed out on many opportunities to live. Just because I didn't experience life like that myself does not mean that I can't accommodate a treasured childhood in my offspring.  

She's freckled and tall. Creative and curious. Observant and analytical. In touch with animals and nature.

But she is not me. 

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Toddlerhood Teaches Me

I was tested, surprised, shocked, stretched to my limit the moment I became a mother. I quickly learned how free my time had been previously. I gradually adjusted to the fact that I could live on little sleep. 

As my child developed from a baby to a walking, expressing, demanding toddler, the lessons kept coming. My list will grow, but here is a snippet of my experience. 

1. I can carry more weight than I thought physically possibly. For much longer than I thought possible. Usually solely on one side. While I have to perform day to day tasks. Before becoming a comfort-and-transportation device I would have held someone else's baby (half the size of my current mini-me) for only five excruciating minutes and cramped up.

2. Unless I want to be a hermit, public bathrooms are unfortunately necessary. I can try to avoid them. But toddlers need to go when they need to go. And hopefully my toddler will still need to go after experiencing my cautious disgust for a room full of mysterious germs from innumerable strangers. My disdain mixed with my effort to hold in my desire to spew out warning after warning after warning (don't touch that, don't put that down, don't rub up against that, don't, don't, don't) is enough to make me dizzy. "Let me out!" is not the best expression when trying to create a relaxed atmosphere for someone I am hoping to get out of diapers. 

3. Dawdling is required. Figure out how to adjust. A developing, curious mind can't be told all day to hurry up, or the imagination is not going to reach its potential. Sometimes, when there are no appointments, no deadlines, no raw meat packages waiting to be refrigerated, you just have to ignore time. Meander along the cement barriers. Observe the ants following a trail. Admire the clocks or ornaments or pictures in the store window. Stand and admire the passing train. Sometimes you just observe. Sometimes you discuss. Sometimes you participate. Sometimes you go off into your own world and wait for the moment to pass. But whatever it is you've got to get to, it will be there when you're ready. 

4. Maybe. Maybe your plan won't happen. That's the way it has to be from time to time. An hour of errands with a toddler isn't ever going to come anywhere near the productivity of an hour of errands alone. Sometimes things just need to be cut. I vote for folding laundry. Most definitely. It's just not necessary. 

5. Some things are necessary, no matter how difficult the torture is for the little one. That means sometimes toddlers are unhappy. No, kiddo, I can't hold you while I chop carrots. But the carrots are getting chopped. You'll survive. The neighbours may not think so, but you will. 

6. Who cares what the neighbours think. There are so many random opinions on opposite ends of the spectrum that it would never be possible to please everyone. So why try? My kid isn't going to be allowed to do what some others do (no matter how amazing). And she'll be doing other things that some parents wouldn't allow. 

7. I can change my mind about what I allow. It's called life. We have goals. Paths we are trying to take. And these little minds that contain much less information than we have in our own noggins still have the unfathomable power to persuade us to do things differently than we intended. The pre-mom me would be in denial of this possibility. She would be in shock witnessing some of my actions. But, as it turns out, ice cream happens more than I'd like to admit. Bed time is way later than I intended. Eating in the car is apparently a necessity. I've been informed. And, as number six states, it's okay if you don't agree.

I don't agree with myself sometimes. But that's parenting. Making mistakes. Taking the plunge when I don't know where it'll take me. Pushing through. Because, wow, through all the stress and stretching, it sure is amazing. 

I look forward to the lessons I will continue to learn as my daughter progresses through the different stages of life. I teach her. She teaches me. I'd say motherhood is the most demanding but rewarding academia. 

Monday, 23 June 2014

The Honest Power of a Smile

As I was hurriedly driving my daughter to daycare I saw a girl walking with her eyes intently looking down at her feet. She appeared glum. Maybe she wasn't. Maybe she was happily daydreaming. It reminded me of a time I was in eighth or ninth grade.

I was walking home from school in the rain. I stared at my feet, as I probably always did. I most likely was not creatively daydreaming. I was avoiding life. I was dreading going home. Yet I was dreading the return to school the next day. 

An older teenager briskly walked by and in the cheeriest voice said, "Chin up, it's a beautiful day." I'll be honest, I don't remember exactly what he said. But it was only a few words. A few impacting words that radiated a smile. I still vividly remember the worn sidewalk and the old houses I passed. I remember my slumped posture. My unsure footsteps. I remember looking up. The rain in my eyes. Just like it was yesterday, and not over 20 years ago. 

I knew I didn't smile enough. And after that day I honestly tried. Repeatedly. Absolutely unsuccessfully. It was awkward. It made me uncomfortable to get a smile in return because I felt invisible and being noticed was terrifying. And every effort to smile felt like a betrayal to the truth that I was not happy. I needed help. I needed relationships. I needed peace. I needed forgiveness. I needed healing. I needed hope. 

Smiling wasn't going to magically get me that. And I worried that it would decrease the probability of a heroic intervention because people would think I was okay (that was a facet of healing I battled with into my thirties).

But I wasn't okay. And was all that mattered. 

That's what I think about the lack of a smile. It says I'm all that I can think about. I don't care about your issues because I have problems. I don't want to consider your discomfort because I'm not comfortable. I don't want to think about you because I'm too busy. I don't want to turn from my issue for a moment and acknowledge you because I want my issue acknowledged. I don't want to make you feel good because I need someone to make me feel good.

Some people smile easily. They automatically smile at the approach of any set of eyes that may witness their beam. Others are a little uncomfortable with the idea and have to force out a lifting of the corners of the mouth. Some find the effort unnecessary. Others downright feel they have the reason and the right to refuse. 

Yes, it's true, some grins are more genuine than others. Smiles are actually multifaceted, intricate expressions and the receiving of these gifts are filtered through our own assumptions and motives. But a lack of a smile says much. 

I may go as far as saying being someone who won't smile is selfish. But at the same time very self damaging. 

It wasn't until I smiled at grumpy customers that I saw the redemption in a smile. It wasn't until I smiled at a wedding when I actually longed to find love that I realized the joy in a smile. It wasn't until I learned to give a smile of encouragement in spite of all my crap that suffocated me that I realized the freedom in a smile. It wasn't until I laughed through the pain that I realized the healing in a smile. It wasn't until I smiled at my daughter through rushing and worrying that I felt the bonding of a smile. It wasn't until I smiled confidently at a stranger that I realized the power in a smile.

A smile can break down walls. It can initiate conversation. It can ease worry. It can release tension. It can eliminate assumptions (seriously, the thought that someone is being snotty brings many questions of "why?"). It can ease pain. It can increase faith. It can soften hearts. It can close gaps. It can unite different people. It can do more than you think possible. And the magic is often poured on both the giver and receiver. 

When I think of my sorrowful youth and how those around me (intentionally or unintentionally) made me feel, I know the power of a smile. I endeavor to have one to offer, knowing that it could change a moment. 

Or it could change a life. 

Sunday, 1 June 2014

An Impossible Beautiful Change

Being a mom has opened my mind, strengthened my capacity, and enriched my emotions. This I knew would happen. I'd been warned. My energy has multiplied. (So has my exhaustion. Is that simultaneously possible?) I can function with much less sleep than I thought conceivable. I changed my mode of operation in many areas from my original (set in stone, I might add) plan of action. 

Some things previously seemed impossible. But a new reality occurs out of necessity. Priorities shift, which enables what would once be unfeasible to become the minimal requirement. 

Ten years ago, if you told me to act in confidence for the sake of my child I would have deemed the task impossible. But I never knew how much the love for another could motivate weighty change. 

I have always been insecure. My opinion of each feature would without fail contain the expression not enough. Body not skinny enough. Hair not smooth enough. Eyebrows not even enough. Muscles not toned enough... I could go on and on. But this isn't what matters. 

What matters is I know I wasn't born thinking like that and I know my daughter wasn't born thinking like that either. What matters is she will have many negative influences in her life and I want mine to be positive. What matters is that many of those thoughts are actually lies

I'm not perfect. I'm not formed to be. No one is meant to be perfect. Or anywhere near perfect. We are actually supposed to embrace our differences. Enjoy our unique features. And love who we are created to be. Stop focusing on the I wish so we can embrace the I am. 

In my desire to pass that on I only have one choice. I must believe that for myself. And in this venture I have discovered something that I never would have imagined.

I am capable of refraining from talking negatively about my body.

Even when she sees me try on an outfit that no longer fits. Even when I'm failing at a new hairstyle attempt. Even when my spouse has been too busy. Even when I am premenstral. Even when seasons change. 

Anytime she's there. 

Biting my tongue leads to refraining from feeding those negative thoughts. Pushing away those thoughts leads to accepting reality. Accepting reality leads to seeing the beauty in what is actually there. 

I have a bit of curve here and there like many women. I have thick beautiful hair (which I just really need to learn how to deal with). My eyebrows are dense enough and dark enough. (Which reminds me of the day my daughter cried because she could barely see her eyebrows.) My muscles are strong.

I could go on. Because this is what I have and I am to make the most of what I am. This is what I have and I am to take care of what I've been given. This is what I have and I am to highlight it and not hide it's treasure. 

Beauty is not in a perfect smile, but in a well used smile. Beauty is not in a certain frame, but in a confidently poised frame. Beauty is not in a color, but in what shines from within. Beauty is not in the size of the breasts, but in the heart they sit next to. Beauty is not in the mane, but in the mind it surrounds. 

The more I focus on my true beauty, the more others can see it. The more my daughter can glean from my vision of myself. 

It's a big task. Because she is the most beautiful thing I've ever seen. I want her to love her sprinkling of freckles. Enjoy her wisps of red hair. Have pride in her inherited tall stature. 

The first step is with me. But I can do it. Simply because I refuse not to.

I've only got one me. I best enjoy, and reflect, my bounty. 

Monday, 26 May 2014

I Don't Like My Friends

When I was younger I really struggled with relationships. I was so self conscious and apprehensive that I never felt anyone was really there for me. I worried about trivial things. Like, how should I act around this person? And, if I talk to this person, what will other people think? In my insecurity I picked up and dropped friends easily. I was so self absorbed that I never thought how it would feel to the others involved.

Friendships are a struggle for many people. It is natural to question whether it would be easier to just be free of them. They seem so much work and they are never guaranteed to go the way we want.  (Um, well, they usually don't follow your intentions.) They are a risky, time consuming investment.

The idea of letting someone see your faults. The act of accepting the shortcomings of another. And then pushing through your differences. Relationships can be painful. They can be tough. They can be stressful. Keeping them may require some clarifying questions. Some blind trusting. Some forgiving. Some letting go. 

Now that I am older, I have many long standing friendships. We have constant misunderstandings. We clash. We lose touch momentarily. We forget birthdays and anniversaries. We get too self involved at times to see the need in the other. We are imperfect people walking through life together. 

I don't like my friends. They push me out of my comfort zone. They test my patience and my ability to forgive. They make me question my beliefs. They examine my empathy. My motives. My commitment. My perseverance. They hinder my steps at times and change my direction at others. 

I don't like my friends. I  love them.  

They expand my horizons. Enrich my memories. Awaken my passion. Establish my character. Lesson my sorrow. Solidify my stance. Bring out my strengths. Sharpen my edges. They help me grow. 

Friday, 23 May 2014

Unimaginable Love

I love my husband. Dearly. Even on frustrating days he'll move a way that makes me adore him. He'll say something that makes me smile. Or he'll bring up a fond memory of our travels and discoveries together.

There are many people in love in this world. But there is a love even greater than that love that made the heart pitter patter. Stronger than that love that keeps people together through trials and diversity. There is a love even greater than that coveted and poetic bond between two adults. 

The unimaginable love between a mother and child. 

I thought the feelings of affection had culminated into something unsurpassable as I held my new born child in my arms. I had made this adorable bundle. She was an amalgamation of my handsome husband, my beloved brother, my own parents. An obvious union of our lines of lineage and the compounded love deposited into her fragile little form.

And then she moved. She cooed. She learned. She grew. She amazed. 

If I thought my heart would burst in those first few months, even as I stressed over how to do this all right, even though I struggled with doubts and fears, and even though I was exhausted beyond reason, how much more did my heart beat with devotedness and attachment each passing day.

Her first steps. The advancement in her coordination day to day. The first furrow of her brow with empathetic concern. The way she sticks her tongue out in concentration. The excitement in her eyes as she discovers life. Her very being fosters overwhelming pride and joy before she even tries to please me. 

I knew love before her. But I never knew the depth its hearty roots could reach. I never knew the protective inclinations that could arise daily. I never knew the risks and sacrifices I would be willing to take. I never knew how strong the cord could be between me and another astounding, yet imperfect, human being.

I am sure love is a very limiting term that is expressed by many different words in other languages. Because I love my husband, but my affection toward my daughter is distinctive in its feelings. The matriarchal power that it evokes cannot be rivaled by any other individual or motivation. 

I now truly know what it means to say that she is my everything. To think about her day and night. To believe that she could do no wrong. To never stop worrying about her safety and future. 

She is the most magnificent gift I have ever received. 

With grateful love, I thank my husband for  this treasure. 

Friday, 11 April 2014

Committed To Making It

What a day! It began no where near exemplary as I failed to pay attention to the jacuzzi filling and the hot water tank was emptied and poured cold water into my bath. (Am I allowed to complain when the topic is my spacious jacuzzi tub?) Then work was hectic as there were repair men there all day for what should have only taken a few hours. I didn't have transportation to get my daughter from day care. I came home to dog puke (and more after I cleaned it up). Then I took my daughter's pants off so she could try the potty and she climbed onto the bed and peed. Then, she curiously dropped a battery operated toy into the toilet and covered it with half a roll of toilet paper. 

There's much more. But I think I will refrain from continuing. Today was a test of something that has been on my mind lately. I've been thinking about capacity. Some people have so much go wrong, but they never complain. Some people have tremendous stress loading them down, but they still continuously have hope and vitality to share with others. Some people have lived through hurt after hurt, but they still love and trust. 

I would fancy those strengths. I've spent too much time whining and complaining. I've wasted too many opportunities making excuses. I've put up too many walls and then regretted the consequences. 

Where does that capacity come from?

Can you have none to start with and then experience the stretching of growth? Definitely yes, but what are the factors that push someone from simply buckling under the pressure, to the better result of developing strength to overcome the hardship?

Life produced in me shyness and anger and illness and shame. Many people live their lives struggling with these things. But if asked how I found freedom, what could I answer? If I knew the answer I could apply it to the rest of my issues. I could stop worrying what people think. I could stop procrastinating when a task seems overwhelming. I could stop stressing.

Whatever had the biggest influence, whether it be declaring the positive, going to church, praying, forgiving, talking, exercising, or letting go, I think all aspects of the healing journey come down to just one word. 


Content people are committed to seeing the positive when life is full of negative. Successful marriages have spouses committed to each other through ups and downs, misunderstandings and compromises, tests and battles. Flourishing businesses have members committed to the vision through trial and error. Careers come from being committed to doing what is necessary even when it takes time and energy and finances. 

I beat fibromyalgia and headaches and exhaustion by being committed to working out my weak body even when I had to push through pain after pain. I gained patience by being committed to my family and church even when walking away would have been an easier option. I overcame anger by being committed to retraining my thoughts even though it took so long and so many people were being outright stupid and giving me a very good reason to be mad. 

And now, when I have a totally crappy day like today I can look back and instead of seeing the frustration and unfairness, I can smile at the fact that I pushed through. I still had a bath, even though I could have pouted that I only like hot baths. I still did my job and smiled at my customers. I still treated my dogs well, even though they drove me crazy. I still made a healthy dinner, even though we were home late. I didn't get mad at my toddler for being a toddler, and we still read her favorite I SPY book for half an hour like she wants to every single night.

I was committed to positively making it through the day, just somewhat better than how I've made it through before, and that is what will make it easier to make it through the next rough day. 

Sunday, 6 April 2014

The Year I Finally Became An Adult

I've been an adult for a while. For close to half my life, I guess I should admit. Technically, adulthood occurs at 18 or 19, but we all know it takes a while to catch up with us. Some take longer than others. For a few, or a few too many, maturity never occurs.

As a child, all adults look like adults. They are taller, wiser (in some ways), and their skin gets saggier and saggier. But when you first get there yourself, you can't believe it has happened. I don't mean denial. It just really can't be. You are still clueless. You are still trying to figure out what you want. You have tasks you perform daily that an adult would certainly do with more confidence and surety. Right?! 

Though life became more about grudgingly paying bills and continuously cleaning and determining priorities, it always felt like I was still this teenager with an aging body. I never felt like I could put myself together right. I never felt like I could ever be looked up to as an elder. 

This continued through all the tumultuous milestones that add to being a responsible adult. Went on missions trips. Still felt like a child. Went to post-secondary and got a career. Still felt like a child. Volunteered. Still felt like a child. Found a mate and got married. Still felt like a child. Cooked and cleaned and cooked and cleaned. Still felt like a child. Had a baby. More than ever, still felt like a child. Floundering through life. Struggling to figure out my unique place. 

As the age spots developed, the bladder weakened, the eye brows thinned, and the feet struggled to keep up, I figured the time would soon be coming. And then, bam, at the age of 36, just before 37, it finally happened. After a tough year financially and in other ways I will not get into, and the impact on my intellectual and spiritual growth, it seemed that with just a blink of an eye, it shifted overnight.

I'm an adult

There are two major changes that give me this brand new, undeniable feeling. Two changes stronger than the occassional hair suddenly growing from my chin or the inability to cope any longer with consistent lack of sleep. Stronger than being available every waking moment for another helpless human being. The first is coming to terms with the reality that the got-it-all-together goal is, in all honesty, unachievable. The second is a shift in the view of where my career fits into the big picture of my life.

I've always struggled with what kind of message I wanted to convey. I longed to look like I knew who I was and I knew what I wanted. I wanted to confidently act and dress that part no matter what the situation. But how could I be a model of a type if I couldn't singly classify what that type was for me? And what if, to my horror, someone important to me didn't understand or agree?

My life was a wish-washy act of trying to be someone who would fit in and be accepted. But in all the effort, I wasn't able to have the freedom to concentrate on the things that really mattered. Motherhood really helped me to break down many walls and let go of things. It wasn't that previously I was being dishonest with everyone else. I needed to figure out how to be honest with myself. I needed to be able to admit I didn't know how to do a task, or that something was not actually my priority, or that things were just not working out the way I was doing them. 

I haven't figured out anything. And admitting that is the epiphany of figuring it out. 

Which probably helped lead to the change with work. I love my job. But it was alway just a means of an income. It was what helped me be able to do the things that I wanted to do and concentrate on all that was actually filling my mind. I always wanted to be a full time mom and I imagined life as just a few hours work and all my time and energy devoted to family. I felt this equation was the only acceptable option. But, unfortunately, for most of us it just can not work that way. 

So, if we are going to spend so much of our lives earning a dollar, shouldn't we be doing something that somehow makes us feel fulfilled? My job never actually altered after I came to this change of heart. But my opinion of my job evolved. And as a result, my focus changed. And, most importantly, my view of where it would go in the future widened.

Previously, I had no desire to progress. No more responsibility. No more tasks. I just want to come, put in my time, and go. Don't get me wrong. I think I am a hard worker and dedicated employee. But now I figure if I'm going to be there a long time, I actually would love to learn and to be more valuable in my position. And, since I've finally grown up, maybe I can handle a little more responsibility. 

I still want to be a mom first. But seeing a hard working mom is going to speak wonders to her work ethic and her opinion of her own future. I want to be next to her most of all, but with the time I am with her she will know I love her and, because I'm concentrating on who I am outside of her, she will know I love myself. 

And maybe that's the biggest part of growing up. Learning to love who we are. Being comfortable in our own skin. Our imperfect, sagging, wrinkling, thinning skin.

I'm an adult now. And I'm going to like living as one. Does it mean I'll know what I'm doing? No. Does it mean I won't ever worry what others think? No. Does it mean the balance between parenting and a career will be simple? No. It might not mean anything at all, actually. Just that I feel grown up in spite of it all. 

I'll always be a child at heart. But, at 36 years old, the next stage in my life is just beginning. 

Monday, 10 March 2014

Just a Touch of a Button

Yesterday, as my daughter was playing next to me, she held up a toy. "Look, Mommy, I am going to buy it," she informed me. Then she ran over to the wall to push buttons. "Beep, beep, beep." She declared happily, "There!" It was as simple as that.

I grew up with money (not an abundance, but money is what bought things). We would take some coins to the store to purchase a treat. Now, I pull out a card. The direct payment system that we so regularly depend on came into use around 1994. I was almost done high school by that time. I don't recall my first place of employment using any electronic devices for collecting money.

Every generation enlightens the next with stories of how things were different when they were children. As I watch my daughter explore her world and express her understanding of it through play, the changes between my childhood and her childhood are sometimes astounding. Especially in the realm of technology.

Though my daughter has seen coins and bills, we barely hold money in our hand. She knows the little toy dispensers in the front of the grocery store take quarters. And we acquire paper money to take to a garage sale or the farmer's market. But we still quickly stop at a "machine" to do our withdrawal. Her visual of the process involved in paying to get something is incomparable to mine as a child. 

I also did not grow up with the internet. I couldn't watch any video I wanted by request on You Tube. My parents couldn't look up lyrics to random songs. They couldn't make anything they wanted for breakfast by simply searching a recipe online. If they knew, they knew. If they didn't, too bad.

My television only had a few channels, and shows geared to me usually only played one day a week. Now, there are whole channels devoted to my daughter's learning or entertainment, if we so desired.

My camera took pictures, but I couldn't look at them until they were printed. And I most definitely was limited on how many I could take because of the price. Now, my daughter regularly scrolls through the many pictures and videos taken of her playing and eating and posing and laughing. In my childhood home, we didn't even have any way to take videos.

I couldn't Face Time family. Even talking to relatives long distance was a treat due to the cost. Now, my daughter can know the voices and faces of her loved ones, and they can watch her grow up with our videos. That is, if they have the technology themselves.

It is a different world. I am living in it with her, but I can't empathize with what is going on in her head. I am unable to truly see it from her eyes. I can just enjoy her observations. I can just limit her use of handheld devices, which she would have all day at two years old if I gave her permission. I can just enable her love of the outdoors, books, cooking, and being active. 

And I am completely unable to imagine the world in which she will be raising her children. 

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Pocket Of Love

My life has been hectic with more work hours and therefore I am in want of writing and singing time. (And I'm behind on housework, but oh well.) I often would just stay up late to accommodate these things as, really, who needs sleep? But lately I have usually been getting adequate sleep. Having a cuddly toddler that I know is growing fast may be a contributing factor. I'll have a workout planned or some housework, but she falls asleep on me and I just don't want to let go. Oh, I cherish having her close. 

While contemplating writing during lunch today, I remembered my old poetry, and thought I would take a look. I found a poem on Love that I wrote sixteen years ago. Sixteen years ago would have been when I struggled to feel. When I felt invisible. When I was full of fear and nerves. When I was terribly insecure and lacked the trust to let anyone in. When I honestly wondered if I could ever be close to anyone. 

They say you write out of what you hope for in life. That's why our culture is full of love songs. I hoped for the ability to genuinely care for another and believe the sentiment was reciprocal. I know many out there question if it will ever be, and I pray they experience a turn-around comparable to the one met by my heart. Involvement. Tenderness. Devotion. Unconditional love.

Now I have more than was even conjecturable in my hopes back then. 

Pocket of Love

Every night when I climb into bed
And I am warm and content and comfy 
I pray quietly to the Lord above 
That He helps me spread the Love that is in me 

I pray that He gives me the strength 
To ignore those who try to give me pain 
And to retaliate with a kind word 
To those insisting on doing it again 

I pray that a smile will remember to occur 
During every single occasion appropriate 
And a laugh will brightly escape my lungs 
Whenever there is any room for it 

I pray that when the sky is gray 
And when my heart is suffering in sorrow 
That Love will come and heal my wounds 
And help me make it to tomorrow 

I pray that I will succeed greatly 
In giving Love to those I hold dear 
And when all seems to be a fight 
This Love will never disappear 

I pray that I will never cease 
To be open minded, to forgive and forget 
And all of those who cross my path 
Will desire to keep the Love they just met 

And when the day has come to an end 
And I thank the Lord above 
My wealth will still have more to give 
From my bottomless pocket of Love