here's to 2010

A little recap, Natalie style.

January 2010 - month of the bread pudding.

February 2010 - month of the never ending single digit weather.

March 2010 - month that Scott begins to play banjo, bringing music into our home.

April 2010 - month of weather warm enough to dry clothes on the line. And green grass!

May 2010 - month that I graduate, and go on a retreat with some favorite women.

June 2010 - month that Evelyn Jane is born.

July 2010 - month of much outside time and nakedness. Also, packing up to move.

August 2010 - month of moving from Missouri to Tennessee. And month of unpacking.

September 2010 - month of long lasting hot days finished off with easy dinners and beer.

October 2010 - month of bonfires, friends, and neighbors.

November 2010 - month of cuteness. Getting settled in and enjoying family time.

December 2010 - month of icy rain. And a beautiful Christmas tree.

Here's to 2010 - filled with much joy and much sadness. Joy and sadness are the storms that course through me, but I hope to continue to seek the stillness within, and to see each moment clearly and with gratitude.

putting the day behind me

Ever have a day when you hate yourself, your life, and you just want to drink yourself to bed? Luckily, those don't come often for me, but today I was gifted with this sort of day. And to my credit, I only had one glass of wine, though to tell the truth, that's all that was left in the bottle.

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What could be so terrible? Well, I perpetually overspend on my grocery budget, I cannot for the life of me get/keep this house clean, and today my kid pooped on the floor and refused to nap. I was so mean to him, and I saw it happening. I tried the nice-mom thing, I really did. I laid in his single bed next to him and closed my eyes, showing him how a person takes a nap properly. But he didn't catch the drift. After some cuddling he began to clobber me with his stuffed cat, so I promptly left the room, slamming the door shut to show how frustrated I was. I heard him immediately jump out of his bed. I told myself to be calm and figure out a way to deal with his non-napping, and instead I stormed back into his room and told him to get in that bed and stay in that bed! For unknown reasons, this demand did not make him feel any more inclined to sleep.
It was my fault, I over-shot the opportune nap window and he was past tired and unable to sleep. I feel guilty and ashamed with myself for the tantrums I subjected him to this afternoon. And it was my fault he pooped in his room, because I shut him in there. Now wait, before you call child services on me, he was not asking to get out of his room, he was happily playing by himself until he yelled out "Big poop, mama!" at which point I opened the door to learn that he was right, there was indeed a big poop. Right there, on the floor.

I know how trivial it all is in light of the world's problems. I know that I live in privilege that I have not earned. But dammit, I had a hard day. So I gave myself some grace, and let the kid watch much more Go, Diego, Go! than would normally fly around here. I also let myself run late on making dinner so that I could take that over-tired toddler to a playground and go crazy.
I am reading a book titled "Self Esteem" (go ahead, make jokes, I do it every time I pick it up to read it) and I am learning that we all have an "inner critic". That's the voice that says "you are stupid! why did you do that? stop acting like an idiot" etc. I am learning to catch the critic in the act, and to be prepared to disarm that critic by saying more reasonable things in response. Basically the book is teaching me to talk to myself, making me perhaps more crazy than I already am, but I will say this - it's helping. Today when I was all out of patience and kindness and I was crying in my bed, hiding from my kids, my inner critic pounced on me with all sorts of labels and demeaning language. Instead of completely believing the critic, I fought back, and I started to feel better. By 5pm I was enjoying a glass of wine and making dinner, and putting the day behind me.

Are you able to have grace with yourself when you're having a hard day? What helps you cope?


ten minutes to writing

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"Finally, one just has to shut up, sit down, and write." I did just that.
I am reading "Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within" by Natalie Goldberg. It is not the first time I've read a book on writing, but it is the first time I've taken the exercises seriously. I am reading this book as if it were my class, and I am doing the homework. Natalie talks about the discipline of writing, and how it feels like a battle. She says you can just give ten minutes to writing, but you have to do it fully. You sit down with pen and paper, you set the timer for ten minutes, and you go. You write. This is the scary part. You just write, that's it. That is so frightening! I am scaring myself silly writing those words. Why is it so hard to write? I must be scared of something else, because writing isn't scary, is it? It is. I have things inside me that are ugly. They are not politically correct, they are not kind, and they are not quiet. They are impolite, they have terrible table manners, and they hate your outfit. These are the things I am afraid of, because they are unpredictable. They might barge out with all their rudeness and off-putting looks, and they might be seen. You might see them and not like me. Heck, I might see them and not like me.
Well, I read her words on writing and I got real scared. Then I sat down and wrote. And bad things didn't come out! That doesn't mean they aren't in there, because I can assure you that they are in there, but at least today they are behaving and letting out things that are a little nicer. I won't share what I wrote here, because it's not good and I'm just doing it for me, but I will share with you that I was frightened. But I did it. And that feels like a major accomplishment.


slow foods to ease sadness

A best friend of mine and her boyfriend came to visit over the weekend. I have had such a hard time since moving here 4 months ago, and they knew I needed cheering up, so they drove on over. It's close to a 10 hour drive, so they took Friday and Monday off for traveling, and graced me and my family with their presence for the entire weekend.
We talked and talked and talked. We played Scrabble and drank an enormous amount of tea. We cooked meals and played with my kids. I didn't take a single picture, but I was trying to drink in every moment as best as I could, because I knew that on Monday morning when they departed, sadness would overcome me again. And it did. Just as my dear friend Natalie is experiencing a difficult season of life, so am I. I am sad more often than not, and I am even angry sometimes. Moving to a new place completely uprooted me. I miss my community of friends and neighbors more than I could have imagined. And if that town weren't so transitory, I might wish to move back.
However I know this season will pass. Something that helps with the grief I feel is to cook. I'm not sure why it feels so soothing. Perhaps because I can completely involve myself in something else for awhile, and forget everything. When my friends left on Monday morning I spent the rest of the day cooking slow foods to ease sadness. I put the black beans in the crockpot and checked them occasionally. I made two loaves of whole wheat bread. I cooked my very first from-scratch chicken stock. I made a big batch of brown rice for the week.
Because my mood had not improved my Tuesday morning, I kept cooking. First thing in the morning, before I had even eaten breakfast, I made two loaves of pumpkin bread. In the afternoon I made black bean soup for later in the week. And for dinner I made chicken and biscuits.
I will keep cooking, and hopefully the grief of so much change will fade away.

How do you ease your sadness?