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July 25, 2013

Resurfacing


Metaphors. I love them. This one sums up what I am feeling right now. It's like I recently went for a deep dive into the bottom of a murky lake and although not "bad" in reality because all things work out for greater good, it was hard to see down there. I was probably scared of the unknowns and knew it would take some work to get back up from the depths of that place. Also, if you were swimming  back up to shore in your own lake, running low on oxygen, you would stop at nothing to get back to the top, to resurface into the place where the sun shines and life keeps moving on. Stay stuck at the bottom of that lake and sooner or later the world goes on without you.
 
 

 
I feel free when I am behind my camera. All of a sudden things are brighter and you take a closer look as your brain captures the moment first in your mind and then *snap*, the moment is trapped in time. It's the way the lens transforms the rippling waves of a lake into the rippling waves of a still photo; or the way a child swings high into blue sky and then her hair is forever stopped just so with the wind twirling it. It's the way you see the details so clearly when you're focusing with the camera and how it slowly focuses the moment in real life into something magical. Something that is a gift already but now it has a treasure to show for it.
 

 
I go back over the photos and I look at them, I zoom in on my children's eyes or the way my youngest smiles with his lip curled under, and I laugh because somehow I miss that way too much in the speeding moments of the day.
 
 

 
I know this is my answer. Use whatever tools you need to find the beauty. And when the beauty is found then so is the grace.

Life is hard; it's so cliché but true. Yet life is full of so many exquisite moments; these amazing moments that are waiting to be captured. Sunsets and sunrises that happen every morning and every night. How often do we wake up early enough to witness such beauty? A free gift for the taking. Birds flying by, children skipping stones into shallow water, the way their faces look when you tell them a joke, how their hair, full of electricity, sticks up on all ends as they slide down the slide.  How many times have I watched my boys slide down slides in almost seven years? Too many to count. But how many times did I really see them?? How many times did I capture that moment in my mind? Not nearly enough.



 
It's very late and I can hear the train's whistle, just down the street, alerting the sleeping town of its transient presence. I find comfort in this sound, it's been a constant companion to me in each home I have ever lived in. But this train sounds different tonight. It's passing by to remind me to stay awake. Life is like that train; just passing by. There are plenty of whistles to alert us that it's here right now, steadily moving forward on the track, but just how often do we stop to listen?

And another metaphor. Sweet dreams.
 
 

July 21, 2013

Lessons


I figured out why I have been struggling a lot lately and why my thoughts have been so negative. It's been kind of a big realization. It's one of those wake-up calls where every message that comes your way backs up the big "a-ha" and you're left with the evidence of why it is you are suffering. But now the question is, what do I do with the knowledge I have been given? How do I move forward? I trust that just like today, when I was given the final proof and have reached the conclusion, I will find the strength and knowledge on how to keep putting one foot in front of the other while utilizing this wisdom as gain. I will be given the know how.

The big mystery solved, the answer to the "what is going on" and "why do I get to this place time and time again in my life" is that for the majority of my existence I have based my identity on things outside of myself. I have sought my self worth in the opinions of others and have always looked to the wrong things for approval. I believe that I am a kind and caring person worthy of love and acceptance, but I also think I have very low self esteem because I have been looking not to God and the Holy Spirit within me for my acceptance, but to the world's fumbling view.
 
I made a commitment last week, one in which I have not mastered by any means but which at the very least helped wake me up to all the ways that I distract myself and numb myself so as to keep me from staying present. I committed to stop yelling at my boys. I yell a lot and most of the time it has nothing to do with them. I realized I yell when I am distracting myself from them. My boys are noise makers and constant doers where as I am a quiet seeker and get stuck a lot. I have constant activity in my brain and if I stay focused on what's going on in between my two ears, then everything else, even my children I am utterly ashamed to admit, become the distractions. 
 
I distract myself  through my use of Internet. I spend a lot of time searching for answers, and I think the Internet is invaluable for knowledge gain, but it can be so overwhelmingly disruptive to the flow of the day. I look to social media for my self worth, there is no doubt about that. What exactly is social media? It's just people trying to have a relationship behind a screen. It is challenging to do that for someone like myself because you cannot tell if a short response was really intended to be quick and cutting, you cannot distinguish who somebody is from the pictures or status updates they post. Not only that, but for me it was the thing that allowed me to be an impostor and hide behind a facade.
 
And here's the thing, I can't really be present in life if I am stuck pretending I'm something I'm not. Facebook is a poor substitute for connections, and connections are the number one thing that I struggle with because I have spent my whole life trying to discover who I am in what others think of me that I tend to run away from the people that are really there. The people who probably don't judge me the way I think they do and who just want to love me and see me blossom. I have done it all my life, run away from the people I love. I don't really know why, maybe I am scared that they will be disappointed in me. My perfectionist attitude of all or nothing often crushes any real ability to stay connected. At some point in time I tend to decide I am not wanted or good enough or not like all the others, and I just can't live up to that expectation.  And I wonder if to them it looks like I just check out. I regret that this happens, I have lost so many important people because of this.
 
Here is the thing I have discovered. I have been living this  crazy illusion. It's not real, it's all in my head. Because when I am rooted in what matters, all the other labels are just pretend. "Good mom" "bad mom" "better mom" "I bet she never yells at her kids" "I bet she thinks I am terrible person for yelling at my kids" "If I am discovered for who I am and not who I pretend to be, nobody will want me". So many of these feelings started when I was really young. I felt tossed along in childhood and adolescence just wondering "Who am I?" I wanted people to like me, but deep inside I felt that they never would. It just sucks to feel this way. It really does.

I lost sight of what was important in my spiritual journey and that is the hardest part of all of this. Yesterday there was an important message for me to hear and it finally sunk in. I felt the truth to the depths of my very soul and I cried all day. I am loved. And if I look to the One who created me and put me here for a specific purpose, then I can never lose my identity. I have so much beauty inside of me, I have the ability to be everything I know I can be because with God's help I can overcome these character flaws. I am not destined to yell until I die. I just don't believe that I will stay stuck like this forever. The last time I felt this depressed was after my son was born. Then I had the biggest break through of my life right after that. I went to counseling, learned about cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and realized that our thoughts are the only thing we can control. We cannot control the circumstances that we are faced with or what people think about us, but we can control what thoughts we give power to. I am rereading all of the old books that helped me through back in the old "CBT boot camp" days. I also discovered my soul's purpose and embarked on a spiritual journey as well during that time. Before that I was sixteen and so worn down, I just didn't know how I would go on with life. I was lost back then. But then I had a very big break through after that as well. And all along the way I have had people in my life to teach me important things and I have been a teacher, too. Right now I am sharing all of this for someone out there who needs to hear the truth. It is really hard to be vulnerable and it is scary, but truth telling is good because it allows others to know they are not alone.

My identity is not in what others say I am or think I am. It does not matter what people think about me. It's none of my business. It can be spun the other way around as well. It doesn't matter what I think about others, my thoughts about them in no way change who they are. I will never succeed at becoming all that I can be if I stay stuck living in fear that I am not good enough. I have to stop listening to the lies that float around my head. Also pain, this feeling of being so uncomfortable in my own skin that I just want to claw my brain out because the thoughts won't stop; well, that has been really helpful in spite of the irritating and stifling feeling. You cannot run from this, believe me I tried. You can't numb it, hide from it, stomp on it, push it away. You cannot will it to leave or pretend it isn't there. You can only face it. This goes for any and all pain and grief that we walk through. It is hard and it does not feel good. Feeling alone is the worst possible feeling in the whole world. But we are never really alone. And we are loved. That gives me just enough hope to lift my weary head and begin again; and again.

"Courage, not compromise, brings the smile of God's approval." -Thomas Monson

“Breath by breath, let go of fear, expectation, anger, regret, cravings, frustration, fatigue. Let go of the need for approval. Let go of old judgments and opinions. Die to all that, and fly free. Soar in the freedom of desirelessness. Let go. Let Be. See through everything and be free, complete, luminous, at home --at ease.” -Lama Das
 
“Most people think everybody feels about them much more violently than they actually do; they think other people's opinions of them swing through great arcs of approval or disapproval.” -F. Scott Fitzgerald 
 
 “To the degree that we embrace the truth that our identity is not rooted in our success, power, or popularity, but in God's infinite love, to that degree can we let go of our need to judge.” -Nouwen






Who are you? When I ask you that question, what thoughts come to your mind?
 
 
 
 

July 18, 2013

Bucket List


I am trying something new today and I am looking forward to seeing how this helps my emotional state. Since I have been feeling so down lately, letting my emotions get the best of me, and because I refuse to sit around wallowing in self pity, I have decided that starting today and every day for the rest of the summer, I am determined to check one thing off of our summer bucket list and document along side my gratitude journal which I have neglected for too long. I hope this will help bring me back to the clarity I seem to have lost about my purpose, not only as a mother but as a human being.
 
Feeling alone, sad and down right moody is not a fun place to be in during the summer. There are only so many days of sunshine and warm weather, and I have an imagination full of ideas that have been floating restlessly around in my head, weighed down by a body that just couldn't get motivated to get out and make the fun happen. Fun is something you create; it's an attitude aimed at success and not at failure. I know inside I have the ability to find joy in whatever situation I am in, regardless of circumstances. I am strong and capable and have succeeded many times in overcoming this uphill battle. I am tired of believing that I cannot do it again. So I will succeed, I just need to admit that I need help in doing it. The important lesson I am learning in all of this is  that I need to be willing to accept the help in whatever form it comes to me and not have expectations on what it should look like. Friendship, opportunity and happiness come in so many different disguises. If I can open my heart wider than I normally do, then I will be pulled out of my glass house and into the village of houses filled with love. I can't wait to discover these love houses. :)
 
So without further ado, our summer bucket list:
 
Make fried chicken and lemonade and pack it up for a picnic.  Checked box symbol

 
 Take the boys to a movie and let them have popcorn AND candy.  Checked box symbol
 
Spend an evening watching planes take off at the airport.
 
Treasure hunt hike at a local metro park.  Checked box symbol


 
 Meet daddy for lunch and eat at a local food truck.

A visit to the state fair!  Checked box symbol
 

Make at least one new friend. Schedule a play date.
 
Spend time with old friends that I haven't seen in awhile. **Today I was able to have a lunch date with one of my best friends from college. She and her beautiful daughter came over and the boys loved spending time with such a sweet little 6-month old!

 
Catch fireflies with the boys. Checked box symbol
 
More bowling. Checked box symbol

 
Take the boys to play mini golf and to the batting cages.
 
Sunset walk at our special sunset spot.
 
Catch the sunrise.
 
Paint art work. **Here is a picture I created the other night. It didn't take very much time and it has inspired me to keep creating!
 

Go thrifting! Checked box symbol

Join a reading program at the library. (Already done. Caden is rocking out his summer reading!)  Checked box symbol
 
Get a massage. I'll take a hubby massage, too! Checked box symbol My hubby should really be a massage therapist, he worked out some major kinks in my back this week!!
 
Have a date night with each of my boys separately.
 
Have a date night with my hubby!

Visit a spray park. Checked box symbol


 
 
Tell myself something great about me every day. Checked box symbol **Getting pretty good at this, and pursuing help when I need the extra affirmation.
 
Go to more farmer's markets and Friday night family nights.
 
Try new summer recipes with delicious summer produce.
 
Take more photographs. Checked box symbol ** I definitely have been snapping away, pretty much every day! Love it!
 

Ride my bike more! Checked box symbol
 
 
 

Blog at least once per week. I really missed writing and it's therapeutic. Checked box symbol **Blogging is going well!
 
Have a camp out//movie night on the sectional.
 
Roast marshmallows on the fire pit. Checked box symbol


 
BBQ ribs on the new grill.
 
Go on an adventure. Checked box symbol

** We went to an underground cavern and mined for gems!


 
 Make up a board game.
 
Go to "dirt beach". Checked box symbol

 
 Pick blueberries and make blueberry pie.
 
Write a story with Caden. (We are working on our story but here is a song we wrote together!)

 
 Baseball game!  Checked box symbol

 


Those are just a few of my ideas. What's on your summer bucket list and what have you already accomplished?
  

July 16, 2013

Glass House


Depression. It has plagued me for as long as I can remember. I can't even think of myself as a child really happy all the time, it was tinged by sadness and confusion. I know that there were moments when I felt carefree but I also worried even as a four year old. I stayed up late at night, after everyone was asleep, worrying that a robber would break in, or that our house would catch on fire, or that my parents didn't really love me and would leave me. I remember hearing voices as a child calling my name. When this occurred again in adulthood after the birth of my second son, I was told that the inner voice, my inner dialog, was very high, that I was hypersensitive and hence suffered from post-partum psychosis which landed me in the mental hospital. I have struggled since my teenage years with hormone imbalance and mood swings. The thing is, I desperately want to be happy and most people would say that I am. Except I spend a lot of time lying.
 
I told my husband that I feel like I live in a glass house. I feel like everyone can see in; see my flaws and how I yell at my kids for making messes. See how I hide in the corner of my bedroom in a ball of tears, willing the ramble of negative thoughts away. How I look outside at the sun shining and wonder what all my friends are doing to enjoy this day while I sit in my glass house alone. I go to bed most nights feeling guilty, like I'm a bad mom and a bad wife. I feel insecure and lost and desperately alone. I can't reach out. I can't call people and ask them to come over. I feel like they are looking in but don't know how to help me. I don't know how either.
 
I have spent years on medication, anti-everythings, to take this darkness away. I realize that medication doesn't take it away. It is always there, this sadness. I am trying to change the way I think. I try not to dwell on these terrible lies when they enter my head. I spend time praying, meditating, reading scripture, reading books on how to be happy or books about world travels. I do these things everyday. I pray and ask for wisdom on how to handle all of this, but the thorn is always there. I listen to my husband when he gives me advice, and tells me how silly it is that I feel like nobody cares about me. I go out into the world and take my kids fun places, I put my emotions aside most days to be the best mom I can be, but it never feels like enough. I am plagued by days of sadness and I can't really explain why I feel that way. But I do. It feels like a part of who I am, this feeling of misunderstanding and being misunderstood. I do realize this is no one's burden to carry but mine. I do realize that if I embraced the divine spirit of Love, I could transform this sadness into something that could help others break down their own glass houses. But I just can't seem to get to that point right now. So I settle in with this feeling for another day and say my prayers, and spill out my trust that in spite of this pain, I am loved even if I cannot really know it.

“Every man has his secret sorrows which the world knows not; and often times we call a man cold when he is only sad.” -Longfellow


 
Photo taken in 2008 after my son was born. I titled this "Warrior Mama"

July 13, 2013

Wishes



♥ ♥  Sweet children, the ones who are here to love and be loved, I wish for you these things..

Dreams that carry you through your days and nights.

At least one friend to talk to when things feel weighty on your shoulders.

Roads that travel ever winding, full of promise and wisdom.

Waking up with your heart singing praises.

Music, the kind you get lost in, that fills you up inside.

Someone to tell you that you are beautiful and valuable each and every day, even if it is  you  who says it.

Hope in God. There is always more beauty and there is always more love. Go find it.

Passion.

Compassion.

Confidence in yourself, enough to walk with your head held high, because you never forget to remember how loved you are.

Acceptance of yourself as you are, your flaws, your passions and your uniqueness.

The ability to say "No, Thank You."

World adventures and traveling, even if it involves a library book and your imagination.

Hard hugs.

Beautiful sunny days and some gray rainy ones, too, so that you will really know how special the sunny ones are.

I wish for each of you a love that takes your breath away. Someone to hold you when you are at your worst and encourage you to be your best. And when you find that love, make sure to never let it go.

Patience and acceptance. You are a beautiful stone flowing through life's great river; have faith that you are exactly where you need to be.

Gratitude through the valleys  and  up on the mountaintops.

Each other, always.

Mostly I wish for you both to know how much I love you. I will always be your biggest fan, cheering from the sidelines at every Big Game. And someday when you look into your own child's eyes, you will really know just how lucky I feel to have you.  ♥ ♥