Tuesday, December 16, 2014

My Brave Year: #reverb14 Day 13

Step one: set the timer for 5 minutes and write down as many answers as you can think of to the question: 'When and how was I brave in 2014?' Note: remember the private, intimate and small ways in which you were brave as well as the big public ways.

  • On a stormy summer night I looked up at a 19 year old almost man yet who is still my baby, who is taller than me and bigger than me, and said "you will get in this car."
  • I watched as an ER nurse took this almost man/still my baby from me and said "You can't come back here with him."
  • I sat most of the night in the ER staring at the door that my almost man/still my baby was behind. I waited for the nurse to come back and tell me what's going on. I waited all night.
  • I drove home from the ER early the next morning. Alone.
  • Two weeks later I rushed back to the hospital and caught this almost man/still my baby in my arms as he broke down sobbing. I allowed myself to cry with him.
  • I stood up to those who have hurt him/ hurt us and said no more. You will not hurt him/hurt us anymore.

Step two: Choose one of more of those moments of bravery and write a letter yourself back at the beginning of 2014, letting you know how brave you are going to be that year.

Hey, remember those dark and scary nights from 2012 when you thought your life was over? Yeah, well, get ready because you are about to have some dark and scary nights again. Except this time you won't be in fear for your own life. No. This is worse. You will be in fear for your child's life.

But it's OK. Two years ago prepared you. You know how to fight. You know that nothing and no one will stop you from fighting for what you believe in. Or for who you believe in. You know now who to trust and who to confide in. More importantly, you know now who you can never trust. You know who is poison and you are prepared to do what it takes to keep the poison from infecting your family any longer.

Step three: Write yourself a short reminder to tuck into your wallet or post above your desk of just how brave you can and will be in 2015.

YOU GOT THIS. Don't let yourself forget that. Ever. 

This post is part of #reverb14, a series of daily writing prompts to explore the year passed and to manifest the year ahead. This prompt was found at Kat McNally Words To Soothe The Weary Soul.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Ritual & Routine: #reverb14 Day 11

What tiny rituals: signal that your day is starting; help you ease into a creative project; give you closure from an intensive task; or mark other significant milestones in your day? What new rituals would you like to create in the new year?

I am a creature of habit.

I eat the same things. I go to the same few places. I wear the same clothes.

Each day is basically the same as the day before. Rise, work, eat, work, prepare for the next day, sleep. And repeat. It's my own version of Groundhog Day.

Routine is a necessity with a large family. There's no way six kids could get out the door in the morning without a set routine that can not be deviated. Daily chores are assigned to everyone. They know who is expected to do what and when it is to be done.

For some reason though my kids will sometimes ask "what are we doing tomorrow?" My answer is always the same. "Well I'm going to work and you're going to school." Even they realize that the routine is a bit too much like Groundhog Day.

Because the routine is so structured and so necessary, there is very little room for ritual. At this point a ritual seems a bit extravagant. There's not much time for anything beyond what must be done.

The rituals I have attempted, and enjoyed, come and go based on life circumstances.  I used to be an almost regular at morning meditation. But now I'm too tired to get out of bed early.  For a few months I had a ritual of taking Sunday mornings for myself. But the cost of gas combined with the cost of yoga quickly became financially prohibitive. I'm not a coffee drinker so I don't have that ritual of enjoying the first morning cup like so many others I know. I do enjoy my weekly Friday afternoon 30 minute round trip drive alone into town to deposit my check and pick up an iced tea at Starbucks. I suppose that has become a ritual. Yet even that is a ritual with a purpose - deposit the check to pay the bills.

I think the lack of personal ritual in my life is because I'm so focused on getting things done that I don't take the time to enjoy the process along the way.

This post is part of #reverb14, a series of daily writing prompts to explore the year passed and to manifest the year ahead. This prompt was found at Kat McNally Words To Soothe The Weary Soul.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Generosity: #reverb14 Day 10

Look back at the last year and consider: how did generosity open your heart? How can you cultivate generosity in the coming year?

Generosity. I've been very fortunate that so many people have been generous with me and my kids. And I'm forever grateful for that.

I am surrounded by people who are having financial struggles right now. Medical bills, car repairs and legal issues have hit most of my small circle this year. We are all struggling. But we are all struggling together.

This past year I've seen items that could have been sold given away to someone who needed them. I've witnessed offers of not just helping someone move, but actually offering to drive the 18 hours to get them to their new home. When one of our group used her savings to help a family member in legal trouble, the rest quickly huddled together to figure out a way to make sure she still had a little something for herself too.

This year I have witnessed first hand that those who have the least tend to give the most.

This post is part of #reverb14, a series of daily writing prompts to explore the year passed and to manifest the year ahead. This prompt was found at Kat McNally Words To Soothe The Weary Soul.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Shades of Grey: #reverb14 Day 9

As you enter into the new year, what would you like to do/make/have/be more often? 

Laugh more. Love more. Travel more. Relax more. Stress less. Doubt less.

How will you bear witness and celebrate the tiny milestones? 

I will stop playing small. Stop saying 'it's no big deal'. Acknowledge that every accomplishment, no matter how small, is still an accomplishment. 

How will you respond on the occasions when your intentions do not come to pass?

I will remind myself that very little is truly black or white. Motives count. Losing weight, writing a book, finding a job, financial stability, etc aren't accomplished in one dramatic action. It's small incremental steps over the long haul. One bad day doesn't make the goal a failure. One bad day (or even too many bad days stringed together) doesn't make me a failure.

This post is part of #reverb14, a series of daily writing prompts to explore the year passed and to manifest the year ahead. This prompt was found at Kat McNally Words To Soothe The Weary Soul.

Connections: #reverb14 Day 8

How have you created and/or sustained connections in your life this year?

I am overly connected in my life. Yesterday I intentionally put my phone out of reach for 2 hours. When I went back to get it, I had 22 text messages. Twenty-two messages in two hours. Crazy! I am always just a text message away from my kids and my coworkers. Sometimes that gets stifling.

I've been told I am very available to my kids. It's been said in one of those "oh it's a good thing but kind of a bad thing too" kind of way. Yes, if my kids call or text, I will answer. Deal with it.

This summer, what could have been a tragedy, turned out to be an opportunity to reconnect with Kid 1.  For a few years now I've felt him slipping away from me. I don't mean in the usual just getting older kind of way. I mean this kid is checking out. He's not just pulling away from me, he's pulling away from the world.

It scared me. But I couldn't reach him.

In hindsight, I'm thankful everything came crashing in on him this summer. It shocked him back to the world and to the help he needed. Even though for weeks we were separated from each other, we were constantly connected. Twenty-four hours a day that phone was next to me and I answered no matter where I was or what I was doing.

And it was me that he called. No one else. He wanted to connect with me.

Since he's been home, we are re-learning how to connect with each other. At 20 years old he is but a man child. I have learned to sit back and watch him learn to navigate his way to adulthood. And to be available when he needs help.

I don't think I even realized how much he had slipped away. Now that he's back I'm sometimes surprised when he interacts with the family. I always knew he was smart and funny. But now he lets everyone see that. It makes my mom heart happy when I see him reconnecting with his brothers. He makes an effort now to be involved in their life as well. The siblings had distanced themselves from him for many years. They also are learning reconnect with him.

I believe that Kid 1 now sees the importance of staying connected. He has forged a bond with a new group of people that want him to succeed. Recently, he admitted he felt himself having the potential to slip down but instead he reached out and connected with a member of his group.

It was just a phone call. But it was the connection he needed to let him know he's not alone, he's worth fighting for and to make the decision to keep moving forward.

This post is part of #reverb13, a series of daily writing prompts to explore the year passed and to manifest the year ahead. This prompt was found at Kat McNally Words To Soothe The Weary Soul. 

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Selfie: #reverb14 Day 7

Please post your favourite picture of yourself from 2014, self-portrait or otherwise

After a day of biking through
New York City
Time for the annual selfie round up. This is actually a fun post to write because it's light hearted and reminds me there were many good times this year.

As I scrolled through my phone looking for which picture to use, one thing jumped out at me. All these pictures were taken when I was happy. The kind of living in the moment, fully present, no holding myself back, letting myself be happy kind of happy.

Black Light 5K
I need more of that kind of happiness in my life.

I need to let myself have more of that kind of happiness in my life.

My chiropractor says I should
lay off TRX training for a bit
because it's causing some shoulder issues.
Ha! My chiro thinks she's funny.
Another interesting thing I noticed is that in all of these happy picture times, I'm being physically active.

There is a scientifically proven link between being physically active and staying mentally healthy. I don't need the science to prove it. I know that when I am more physically active I am better equipped to keep depression away. When I'm physically strong I'm mentally strong.

And it's not even a vanity thing. If I take the time to sweat it out in the gym or flow through yoga, I'm more confident in all areas
of my life. I'm better equipped to handle the stress and uncertainty of being a single mom working two jobs.

Hiking the waterfalls in
Columbia River Gorge
Other happy times are when I take a break from being the working too much, financially stressed single mom and get away for a bit. This year I was lucky enough to take a trip out to Portland. A week of sleeping, yoga, biking, hiking, eating healthy food, laughing and being pampered was what I needed to return refreshed and ready to continue on.

I don't get to travel as much now that my life is different than it was a few years ago. But the desire to travel is still there and still a priority. And one I plan on holding on to no matter what.

Finally, my favorite group selfie this year. It's another time I let myself forget the worries and just have some fun. I saved and scraped for a couple months to take me and the kids to the fair. At $10 per person just to walk in the gate and $20 per person to ride the rides, yes the fair involves pre-planning and saving.

As the Tilt-A-Whirl was spinning at dizzying speeds Kid 4 said 'hey give me your phone' and snapped this picture. I'll eventually be getting this enlarged and hung on our family wall in the living room.

Selfie on the Tilt-A-Whirl
Looking back, my iPhone captured quite a bit of happiness this year.

This post is part of #reverb14, a series of daily writing prompts to explore the year passed and to manifest the year ahead. This prompt was found at Kat McNally Words To Soothe The Weary Soul.

Biting Back: #reverb14 Day 6

Despite our usually sunny dispositions and dedication to the practice of “assuming positive intent,” we all occasionally find ourselves having to deal with an incredibly unpleasant individual.
While I’m sure you always handle it with the tact and finesse for which you’ve become so well known, I’m going to ask you to step outside yourself for just a moment.
Think back to such a situation: if the gloves were off, how you really would have liked to have dealt with them?

I'm not much of a fighter. Oh I've had daydreams of getting even with those who have done me wrong. I may have even googled a few ideas.

But I have learned that, in the end, it's just not worth it.

Those who do wrong know they are wrong. The time will come when they're alone with no one but their own thoughts. When that time comes, they will have to admit to themselves that they have done wrong. Or,  they will choose to lie to themselves that they haven't done wrong.  Both options are heavy for the soul. Either option is one I don't envy.

However, if I weren't striving to live a life of zen compassion and search for enlightenment, I might, perhaps, take a different approach. I might take the bullshit thrown at me, go to google, place an order,  and throw a nice big pile of poop right back at them. 

I have never ordered from the website in the link. But I do have it saved in my favorites folder. Just in case.

This post is part of #reverb14, a series of daily writing prompts to explore the year passed and to manifest the year ahead. This prompt was found at Kat McNally Words to Soothe The Weary Soul.