Saturday, September 29, 2012

Happiness Task for Oct - Variety

I'm officially ready to assign myself my first Happiness task.  (If you missed my post on how to be happy, you can find it here.)

I am going to focus on one task from this list each month, hopefully making each practice a habit, so that I can build layer upon layer as the year goes on.  By next summer, I am going to be practiced at being happy.  I am going to be happy.

I created a chart, which is hilarious because I'm not a chart person.  I still balance our budget every month via a torn a tattered little notebook with a pen shoved into the spiral binding.  So, my chart has a list of all the months with an empty space next to it for my monthly assignment, and another space next to the that for ideas about how to enact my assignment.

I have a loosely formed method.  For example, I wanted to start with something fun, so that this happiness thing didn't become another one of my things I am going to start doing only they're so boring that I can't possibly continue for more than a few days before giving up.  I also figure that I should assign myself something fun for the months of January and February, since that is the time I am usually steeping in a mild pool of depression.  Outdoor related tasks I reserved for months when the weather will be nice enough to actually leave the house.

For the month of October, I am going to be focusing on varying the things I do.

We're funny little animals who are delighted when things are a surprise.  Novelty is important to us.  It is why we like holidays and traveling and deciding at the last minute not to go to work and sneaking to the museum and movies, instead. 

It is SO EASY to do the same thing every day.  Especially when you have children, who need routine to feel safe and in control.  It is also so easy to see how doing the same things every day quickly turns you into a robot with more than a few crisscrossed wires. 

So, there's my assignment.  Every day, I am going to do something new or different from what I usually do.

I've already gotten started.  I went to a new coffee shop.  I got Thai food for movie night.  I decided to skip working one night and went to a movie by myself, for the first time ever, and it was so fun.  I always thought that sitting alone for two hours would be weird or uncomfortable, but it wasn't.  It was relaxing.  I even bought a fancy chocolate bar for a snack.

Are you working on getting happy with me?  Keep me updated about how you've varying your routine, and how it's working for you. 


Thursday, September 27, 2012

Rain drops

I took the girls out in the rain, just to get wet.  Just to get out of this house.  The baby has a cold and she's been crying because her puzzle pieces don't fit right.  She jams them against their spaces and cries to me, "Mommy, it's locked!"

We needed a walk in the rain.

I let them wander together, holding hands.  Little sisters; there is a universe of love between them.  We stopped every few feet to watch an ant traversing the sidewalk, to smell a drooping flower, wilting under the weight of the raindrops.

My girl filled her back pack with nuts from the neighbor's yard.  We showed them to her teacher.  They are called buckeyes, she said.  You can't eat them, she said.

My brother got married this past weekend.  His wedding was small and thrown together and everything was beautiful.  I feel as though I was made for weddings.  For first dances and drunk aunts with red cheeks, for sitting at a table in the corner where someone is smoking a cigar and laughing at the long road of marriage.

My sister's marriage is over.  I am sorry for her pain, but I am happy, too.  It is time to step out into the rain, just to get wet.  Just to get out of that thing that's been sticking to her like a grey film of grease for years.  I am happy that she's moving to be near to me, that I can take her out for Thai food and gather her little duckling near to me, let him hunt for worms and through roots and stems with my own little ones.

My tomatoes are finished growing for the year.  It's been raining for days and they're all splitting themselves at the seams.  They're all vomiting their guts into the soil, and so am I.  We're ready for colder things; slowing down.  Moving like statues in dreams.  For roasting in the oven, pumpkin pudding and salted caramel.  We are ready, the little red darlings and I, for inverted poses and hoods pulled up around our faces.  I am ready to till everything under and add feathers to my nest.  I am ready to work at being happy.  I am ready to be happy.


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I linked up with Heather of the Extraordinary Ordinary's Just Write, today.  Do you have a moment to free write about your day?  Click here to link up, and find some beautiful writers.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The boy is fine - Writing Challenge Piece

Elliott’s mother fell asleep in the bathtub.  She spent days in bed without eating.  When Elliott’s father returned from a trip, however; she came alive in a cloud of perfume and lipstick.

She grabbed a jacket and turned to leave, only something about Elliott’s appearance alarmed her.  “What’s the matter?” she asked.

Elliott glanced at his father, who was standing under the kitchen light, watching his wife and son carefully.  “Nothing, mom,” he said.  He wanted to ask whether she really had to go. He didn’t want to be alone with his father, or forced outside with only a blind chance of finding somewhere to stay warm.

“You're sick,” she said, cupping his chin in the palm of her hand.

“No, I’m not,” he said, jerking his face away.

“You're so pale,” she said.

His father laughed. 

“I’m fine,” Elliott said, staring at the tile between his mother’s feet.  She brushed his hair away from his forehead. 

“Do you need me?” she asked, wrapping her arms around him.  He thought he might suffocate in the smell of perfumed honeysuckle and vanilla.  It wasn’t an entirely unpleasant thought, dying that way. 

His father would be hating this.  He would be burning up with jealousy.  Elliott wondered if his mother did this on purpose.  The truth was, though, that she behaved this way every time she was relatively sober, even when his dad was away.  She probably noticed, in these moments, what she wasn’t seeing most of the time: that her son was deeply and undeniably unhappy.

“Look at him,” she said, guiding Elliott by the arm into the light of the kitchen.  “Doesn’t he look pale?”

“The boy is fine,” his father said. “Let him go, for fuck's sake."

Elliott felt like saying, “I'm not.  I'm not fine.”

Enough,” he said, instead. 

“Okay,” she whispered. There were tears in her eyes.  Everything was still and quiet, except for the beating of Elliott's heart.



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This piece is an entry in the Trifecta Writing Challenge.  This week we had to write 33-333 words using the 3rd definition of the word, blind.


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Monday, September 24, 2012

How to be happy - An overview

I've been looking in to happiness, recently.  Maybe because I write health articles, I've started to see happiness as a formula... that I can look at research about what makes a person happy, and about the things happy people do vs. unhappy people, and apply the research to my own life.  If you want to know the truth, I'm bored with being a malcontent.  I'm sick of complaining and of being unhappy.


I read Gretchen Rubin's The Happiness Project a few years ago, and was really intrigued by the idea that a person could take a systemic approach to happiness, and through applying planned out strategies, could make themselves happier.  I thought about trying a Happiness Project of my own, but I felt lost.  I focused too much on things I thought might make me happy, like having a cleaner house, writing more and getting in better shape.  In the end, all these pursuits did was make me feel tired and disengaged with the idea of choosing to be happy, like it was something elusive that wasn't meant for me.  After all, if I could just magically choose to have a clean house, why didn't I choose it already?

So, I'm going to try again, taking a different approach, this time.  Instead of coming up with my own ideas about what might make me happier, I am going to stick to the research about what makes a person happy.


Here's an overview of the data I've gathered from reading books and watching documentaries:

We are born with a general "set point" for happiness that makes up about 50% of our happiness level.  This means that, once our basic needs are met, it doesn't matter what happens to us or what we achieve... we'll always kind of return to this general set point of happiness.  It's probably genetic and related to our developmental experiences.

About 10% of our happiness is determined by the things that happen in our lives.  Death of a loved one, illness, winning the lottery, getting a new job, etc -- these things affect our happiness levels by about 10% -- which seems surprising at first, but probably makes sense.  This is why you felt like you'd never get over something, and then you did.

That leaves 40% of our happiness that is up to us, and can be changed based on our choices.

I will argue that my "set point" of happiness isn't outrageously high.  I will also argue that my 10% might be pretty good.  I have everything I need.  I haven't experienced an obscene amount of tragedy.  I'd say that the 10% circumstantial variable is on my side.  That means that, through manipulating the remaining 40%, I could be at least a mostly happy person.



So, researchers have studied the happiest people on earth, and here's what they've found.

Happy People...

... Vary the things they do.  They change little and big things about their every day lives, so that they aren't doing the same things all the time.  As human animals, we love novelty.  That's why traveling and holidays are so wonderful.  Varying our lives could be as simple as rearranging furniture, changing a daily routine or switching up our running route.  It could be as huge and complex as quitting a job, moving to a new city or ending a relationship.

... Have a relationship with nature and the land.  They garden and grow things.  They eat the vegetables and fruits they grow themselves.  They appreciate wildlife and landscapes.  They don't view the environment as something to exploit and use.

... Seek intrinsic goals like personal growth, cultivating talents, kindness, self-acceptance, relationships and community.  They also actively reject extrinsic goals like appearance, status, monetary and business success and owning and possessing things.  Intrinsic goals are in direct opposition to extrinsic goals -- so, that means if you're obsessed with having a smaller butt, you aren't overly concerned with being a cultivated, whole-hearted person.  Happy people have dreams about who they want to be, and their pursuits are in alignment with their values.

... Are compassionate.  They meditate on compassion and seek to treat other people and the world around them with acceptance and kindness.  They cooperate with other people; help people less fortunate than they are.  Compassion allows us to focus on something other than our own thoughts and feelings and desires, making us less selfish and ego-driven. 

... Have close friends and family.  They keep friendships alive with constant contact.  They gather together, share what they have, offer love and support, eat together and value their relationships.  All happy people, without exception, spend a lot of time with people they love, and they love a lot of people.

... Are physically active, especially in novel ways.  Exercise promotes dopamine production and is a wonderful way to feel good.  When you change up the way you exercise, especially doing it outside in nature, you get an extra big dopamine burst.  Think about things like the color runs and zombie runs.  They are a good example of novel exercise.

... Say no. They aren’t occupied with productivity and efficiency.  They don’t overextend themselves.  They don’t exhaust themselves.  They understand and respect their limitations.  They share responsibility and accept help.  Happy people don't seek to be good workers to the exclusion of being good people.

...  Appreciate what they have.  They aren't drowning in stuff.  They are surrounded by meaningful and beautiful things.  They don't focus on how their house is too small or their car is too old.  They are happy to have a house and a car.

... Listen to music, appreciate art and literature, create art and practice imaginative creativity.  They probably also dance.

... Do things that put them in the zone.  They do challenging things for no other reason than they they love doing them.  They experience Flow, which is what happens when you do something well
that occupies you entirely, makes it so that nothing else matters.  Flow helps us to forget ego, and gives a sense that life is worth living.  (Some examples of in the zone activities might be: surfing, mountain climbing, playing a musical instrument, writing, cooking, painting.  Whatever gets your motor running.)

... Go towards conflict and problems, instead of seeking to avoid them.  They don't avoid negative feelings. They recover from adversity better, more quickly and more thoroughly, by acknowledging and working through the bad things that happen, instead of shutting down, shutting off and refusing to do the uncomfortable work needed to recover.

... Aren't uptight, especially about health.  They understand that "taking care of oneself" means allowing oneself to experience pleasure without guilt, and to experience it often.  They eat cake at parties.  They have a drink in the evening or smoke a pipe or whatever it is that allows them to "let loose." They are more concerned with being happy and whole than they are about carbs and calories.  They understand that attention to mental and emotional health is just as important as attention to physical health.

...Meditate.  Meditation changes the brain, reducing stress and promoting happiness.  They meditate on compassion, specifically and especially.

... Are grateful.  They have long lists of things they are grateful for, and they acknowledge these lists every day.  They contemplate their blessings.  Their self-talk involves how lucky they are.

... Don't procrastinate.  They do things themselves, instead of waiting for someone else to handle it.  They don't put things off.  They recognize that they are capable of getting things done, even intimidating things.

... Practice concrete acts of kindness -- like shoveling a neighbor's walk, baking someone cookies, helping with a project, offering to babysit for a friend, visiting people in the hospital or retirement homes.




So, this is what it takes to be happy.  The research says so.  What I want to do is divide these characteristics and activities up and implement them into my life, a few at a time, over the course of the next year, or so, building as I go.  I want to kind of go in through the back door and behave my way to happiness.  Stay tuned for my assignments for October.  Let me know if you want to work on this happiness project with me!  Maybe we could work on this together?




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Friday, September 21, 2012

I feel happy... which is a big deal... for me.

Whew.

This week, I did some minor alterations on my wedding dress, so that my brand new sister-in-law can wear it this weekend.

I scrubbed marks out of the train of the dress.

I baked a cake, which is supposed to be a surprise. It was this one, except you better believe I made that sucker from scratch, and used Trader Joe's cookies and whipped topping, which has no hydrogenated oils.

We made three ghosts for our party.

I finally got around to planting my fall kale seeds, and little baby sprouts are showing their faces to the world.

I feel like I have a total handle on things, at the moment.  I can say this, because a few few months ago, I felt like I was totally losing it, at all times.  I feel good.  Well, I feel as good as I can, which is probably pretty good, in a global sense.


Maybe it's just because it's the end of summer and everything is beautiful.  The sky is otherworldly with it's clear, clear blue, the leaves are changing and creepy witches, skeletons and ghosts are popping up everywhere.  Maybe it's because we saw a pile of pumpkins, each one weighing more than my children combined.  Maybe it's the bumpy little gourd that Louise has adopted as her baby, even taking it to bed with her at night.

School is back in session.  Our days have a semblance of scheduling and purpose.  It's not one hundred degrees outside.  My sister and nephew are moving to the city to be near us.  I'm starting to think about Christmas.

I don't know what is different, or if anything is different.  I think that getting off of Zoloft after taking it for two years kind of knocked me down into a ditch.  I also think that my girls are just growing up, and as much as I coo over tiny babies, as much as I feel like I'm glimpsing god when I look into the face of a newborn... the truth is that having a small baby makes me kind of nuts.  It makes everybody nuts, but it makes me really fucking like... over the moon, balls out crazy to be run ragged, that way.

Louise is two, and Scouty is five, and they are so amazing together.  They play for hours and hours, and they're so sweet and funny and kind to one another.  We're potty training and doing homework and making art projects together, just the three of us.  They are both hilarious and easy to be around, even when I can't find somebody's other shoe, or Louisey pees her pants right as we were headed out the door.  It just isn't like... that big of a deal, anymore.  I think that I can probably see the end of it, and that makes a lot of different.

The hardest time of my life was having my first baby, being sleepless and sore and old and worn out, and having NO IDEA if parenting ever got easier.  I panicked all the time, and felt like my life would be nothing but panic for the rest of our lives together.  Now that I know that things change, I can see them changing.  Especially right this moment.  My baby is becoming a kid.  She's funny and smart and she has things that she likes and doesn't like.  She makes little squeaky voices for her stuffed animals and wants to be just like her big sister.  She's not a baby, anymore.  I can take my eyes off of her for more than a second.


That's probably a big relief, don't you think?

Things are going okay.  I've been writing about teenagers and love.  We took a walk today and found some chestnuts.  We're going to another wedding this weekend.  I have some cute little pie pumpkins sitting on my counter top.  Everything has been really, very nice.

How's that, coming from me?




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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Daring Greatly - A BlogHer Book Club Review

Some of the things Brene Brown talked about in Daring Greatly really got to me.

Dr. Brown described our ideas about betrayal like a big jar full of marbles. (There was context, so stick with the metaphor for a moment.)  When we think of losing trust in a friend or loved one, we tend to picture big, jar shattering moments, like the time our boyfriend cheated or a friend aired our embarrassing secrets, and that's that.  That's how we lose trust in people, by having somebody smash apart well of love and companionship and beautiful moments between us that collectively made up our trust in that person, right?

She pointed out that a much more common kind of betrayal, and one that is certainly more difficult to handle is the kind that happens slowly over time, where kindness, togetherness, trust and affection are slowly withdrawn, bit by bit.

Maybe you don't sleep in bed together, anymore.  Maybe you don't go out of your way to make sure your partner is accommodated.  Maybe you don't sit together and watch movies or touch each other very often.  Maybe your sex life got shifted way down the priority ladder.  Maybe you spend all of your time working or caring for your children not because those things need ALL of your attention.  Maybe you do it because you've slowly lost your ability to be vulnerable with your partner, maybe you trust them not to steal from you or cheat, but you don't necessarily trust them, on a base level... that they idolize you, revere you and seek your happiness along with their own.


This kind of betrayal doesn't get our blood boiling.  It isn't so easy as the time your dad didn't show up at your wedding.  You might not even feel mad about the slow kind of betrayal.  You might feel nothing at all.  You might just realize, one day, that you haven't experienced a genuine moment with your partner in a long, long time.  That you feel prickly when you're supposed to feel at ease.  And, how can you address what is wrong, if it feels like nothing?

Brene Brown defined love this way:

"We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known, and when we honor the spiritual connection that grows from that offering with trust, respect, kindness and affection.
Love is not something we give or get; it is something that we nurture and grow, a connection that can only be cultivated between two people when it exists between each one of them- we can only love others as much as we love ourselves.
Shame, blame, disrespect, betrayal, and the withholding of affection damage the roots from which love grows.  Love can only survive these injuries if they are acknowledged, healed and rare."



I love this.

I loved reading this book.

It got me thinking a lot about self-acceptance, trust, being enough, parenting with an open heart and purposefully allowing myself to be vulnerable, so that my socially constructed and defensively developed ideas about myself don't get in the way of the happiness of my family and loved ones, or in the way of our love and connection together.

At first I thought it was going to be like... a self-help book, and I'm not into that.  So, if that's how I've made it sound, it's not true.  It's actually a book full of education and research into the topic of vulnerability, in women, in men, parents, partners, as artists and professionals... it is about how the extensive and impressive research done by Dr. Brown is easily and profoundly applicable in life.  It was really kind of enlightening to read.

Oh, and also, Dr. Brown is totally likeable and not research doctory to read, at all.  She's kind of adorkable, if you want to know the truth.

Lots of times I feel like I am comfortable with being vulnerable or "putting myself out there," but reading Daring Greatly made me realize how all of these nagging, seemingly unsolvable problems in my life, are actually related to my fear of being vulnerable in certain circumstances.  How my ability to be "for real" in my art, might even be kind of making up for places where I'm lacking in being authentic and for real in other parts of my life.

I don't know.  I have plans to come back to this all later.

To find out what the other BlogHer Book Club bloggers thought of Daring Greatly and to learn more about Brene Brown Ph. D., LMSW and her extraordinary research on shame and vulnerability, click here.



I was compensated for this review.  These opinions are totally my own.


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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

At home & A Bags of Love Review


I have a long history of not really being a homebody type of person.  Some of Scouty's first words were, "Where are we going next?"  It drove my mom crazy.  She always talked about how Scouty went more places before she turned two than my mom had been in her lifetime.

As a young person, I was always, "out."  Even when I got my first apartment, I only used it as a place to drop all of my stuff before I ran out, again.

I don't know if I'm getting old, or if having two kids is finally slowing me down, but I've been getting into the idea of a home, lately.


My newest favorite thing is this print from Bags of Love, of Scouty staring out at the ocean from the magical Elizabethan gardens of Roanoke Island.

This was one of the most beautiful days of my life.  I had just driven for 13 hours, alone with the girls.  We slept in a rundown motel on the shore, and in the morning, we visited one of my favorite places on Earth.  Everything was silent.  A cold wind came off of the water.  Thank you, Bags of Love, for capturing the moment perfectly, and for helping me make my home a place I love to be.

We are very into projects, lately.  We're making terribly spooky ghosts, right now.

I love my little helpers.  We are going to have the creepiest Halloween party, ever.

mine


This morning, I set my cup of tea on the windowsill, and Scouty climbed up to watch it bloom.  I loved her stillness and beauty against the sunlight through the window. She said, "This is beautiful. You should take a picture." 



We've also been dancing our afternoons away at living room dance parties.
 
 
This has been something, you guys.  I'm learning to be still, to let things be what they will.  I'm learning how to be a person, how to have a home.  I don't feel like I'm running, so much, anymore...because running around all the time was really running from stillness.  I'm not so afraid of what I am that I can't sit still with myself and lay down roots and make a home.  I'm not so afraid of that.
 
 Also, here is where I disclose. Bags of Love asked me if I'd like to pick something from their site.  I picked this beautiful canvas print.  It is so beautiful, in fact, that Kurt called me when he got home from work and saw it for the first time and said, "Where did you get this picture?  It is outrageously beautiful."  I feel like every time I look at it, I get all choked up and lonesome for the ocean.  That's why I didn't write a cardboard review and put it on my reviews blog.  It's a part of my home, and I love it.  Those are my own feelings.  So, honestly and purely, thank you, Bags of Love.


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Monday, September 17, 2012

I am enough. I have enough. I am enough.

I've been thinking a lot about failure, and about being enough.

It's helpful to say to myself, "You got enough sleep, you have enough energy, you have everything you need to get through this day, you are everything you need to get through this day."

If I'm not careful, my first thoughts upon waking up go something like this:

"No.  This isn't happening.  I am not being woken up to clean poop off the toilet seat.  This isn't fair.  I need more sleep.  I need so much sleep that it would take years to sleep it all.

Okay.  I am sitting up.  This is okay.  I am sitting up and I didn't shower yesterday, fuck.  Showering is a must, so it will hang over my head all morning, making me feel rushed and like I don't have enough time.  I never have enough time.

I will make breakfast for the kids, but I'll hold off until lunch time and have a brunch kind of meal.  That way, I hopefully won't need to eat lunch, too, because I'm too fat.  I looked in the mirror while I brushed my teeth, and I totally can't remember ever seeing anybody attractive or successful who is also this fat.  I'm not attractive enough.

Time to get dressed.  I'll carefully pick out the girls' clothes with pleasure, because they are beautiful and they deserve to wear things that they love and feel good about.  It doesn't matter what I wear because... what's the point of trying, anyway?  Am I trying to impress the moms at school drop off?  Well, too bad because I fail automatically with this hair and these old clothes and this big body.  I'm not winning any awards, anyway, so fuck it.  I am not woman enough.

I have to get work done while Louisey naps.  I have no other choice, even though today is Monday and I can't actually think of anything pressing that absolutely needs to be done today.  I always have too much to do and too little time.  I am afraid that I am not capable of getting everything done.  I feel like there isn't enough of me.  It has become a pathology.  I get everything done, but only barely, or at least it feels that way.   I feel pressured to get things done even when everything has been finished.  I am not successful enough.

Goddamn, my house is a mess.  I need to clean it all, right this second, or else I am a huge failure at being a woman inside of a house.  Nothing is ever organized enough or clean enough, because I'm me and I suck at those things.

I'm going to work on some writing because I love to write, even though, as evidenced by shopping my book around to agents, I don't have enough talent, marketability, or drive.  My writing isn't good enough.  I only write about teenagers and love and dying.  Nobody wants to read what I write, because I'm not smart or talented enough, but I'll just keep plugging along, because... I mean, what can you do?  I haven't accomplished enough.

It's time for bed, and I'm too tired to make it to the top of the stairs.  I don't believe I'll have enough energy to brush my teeth and take out my contacts.  It's going to suck washing my face because I'm just too tired to move the soap around on my stupid cheeks, and leaning over to rinse it off?  Ugh.  My husband better not EVEN be thinking about having sex, because I'm too tired to even stand up and walk towards the bedroom, let alone all of that nonsense.

Okay, what the fuck is that sound outside?  Are they like, drilling to the earth's core, starting in the street in front of my house?  I'm never going to be able to get enough sleep, and I have tons of shit to do tomorrow.  I need to also do my upper body and go grocery shopping.  It's going to be rushed, because I'm not enough and I don't have enough."

And that's me.

It sucks.

I've been grinding myself down to an ineffectual little nub of a person by all of my feelings of not being enough.

If I think about it with my brain, and not my horribly defective personality, I am capable of understanding that I have enough of everything.  I have everything I need to be happy and successful.  I am plenty talented and smart and attractive enough to be the person I want to be.  I get plenty of sleep.  I get everything done in plenty of time, and with plenty of energy to spare.  I always manage to brush my teeth and wash my face at night, even when I feel like I can't get up from where I'm lying on the floor in front of the tv.  I have friends.  We do things together.  I have beautiful children and a fine, clean enough house.  People ask my advice about things, sometimes.  There is food in our cabinets.  I am handling this.  I am doing perfectly awesome, at life.

The only thing that sucks about being me is that I'm too much of a bully to allow myself to feel good.  I am constantly drilling this message of not having and being enough.

But, why?  It's so fucking stupid.  It's probably because of commercials or the emails I get from clothing stores telling me that everything is 30% off TODAY ONLY, like it's never going to happen again.  It's probably because I buy into idea about myself that have been constructed by companies who are trying to sell me something.  It's because I'm not above the things I could be above, if I was enough.

Well, I've started saying to myself in the mornings, "You got eight solid hours of sleep, sister.  You're ready to get up out of this comfy bitch."

When I sit down to get some work done, instead of feeling like, oh my god, I have to get this finished in the next hour or I won't have time and that is so overwhelming and impossible... I have started saying, "Time to get some work done.  It might be boring, but you can totally do this.  You've done it a million times before.  You've seriously never failed at this."

When it's time for breakfast, I say to myself, "You are educated beyond belief about nutrition and health.  Go ahead and trust yourself to eat the right amount of the right thing."

When it's time to write... well, I still feel like everything that comes out of me is like... totally not good enough, but when I go back and read it again, it's always good, or at the very least, it's a good place to start working.  I wouldn't even be writing for hours every day if I wasn't good enough to be a writer.  I've already overcome the actual obstacle.  I just need to keep being awesome.

I am enough.  Seriously.  I totally understand that.  I'm smart, attractive, healthy, hard working, well meaning enough.  I get enough to eat and I get enough sleep.  My house is big enough and clean enough.  I can do this.  I do this every day, and I don't fail at things.  I can't even remember that last time I outright failed at something, so why do I wake up every day feeling like I am on the verge of failure at the outset of literally everything I do, from waking up in the morning to eating to working to being a person?  Every time I am about to begin something, I say to myself, "You aren't enough to do this," not matter what it is.  I'm always not enough.  I can't even get out bed ENOUGH.

It's exhausting.  I'm tired of it.

I am enough.  I have enough.  I am enough.

This will be an ongoing project, sorting through years and years of negative self-talk.  Maybe it's impossible, but I'm not going to fall back on that old line.  It must be possible, because I am enough.


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Sunday, September 16, 2012

Weddings, my brother and my dress...

My brother is getting married on Saturday.

I just want to say how much I love his bride to be.

She is kind and authentic and ever since the first second I met her, I haven't sensed a single moment where she wasn't absolutely, one hundred percent, being herself.  She's smart and she reads more books than I do.  She works hard and she's responsible.  Mostly, she and my brother are disgustingly, eyerollingly, gag me with a spoonly, In Love.

I love weddings.  I cry at weddings even when I barely know the people getting married.  I cry at weddings even when I don't particularly like the people getting married.  I teared up a little bit during Bella and Edward's wedding in the most recent Twilight movie.  (Goodbye, followers.  I didn't need you anyway, if you can't love me for I am.  And who I am is one of THOSE moms who read all four twilight books in the course of like... 4 hours.)  (But, eff you anyway.  I got my undergrad in English Literature.  I've put in my time with Absalom, Absalom! and William Golding's The Spire and Mrs. Dalloway.  If I want to read juvenile, anti-feminist fiction about totally doing it with hot, teenage vampires, I've earned it.)

Anyway.  What?

I love weddings.  I love cookie tables and first dances and crappy rigatoni vegetarian dinners.  I love flowers and music and handwritten vows.  I love the kiss and the champagne and how brides are always pretty, because they're happy.

I've cried over the beauty of brides in glittering ballrooms, in a field full of sunlight and green grass, in a tiny courthouse room in a town in the middle of nowhere.  I've cried at big weddings with towering cakes and chocolate fountains, and I've cried at impromptu weddings wearing a nursing tank top under my dress.

I can't get enough of it; a love that feels like it's ready to be forever.

And so, I'm extra happy for my littlest brother, who is not only ready to make his love forever, but who is doing it with a wonderful person who obviously loves and respects him.

She's even wearing my wedding dress!

I can't tell you how happy this makes me.

Kurt and I first started planning a wedding in 2006, but then I got pregnant, and our plans kind of fizzled out.

So, then, we started planning a wedding in 2009, but then I got pregnant AGAIN.  Instead of throwing in the towel and putting it off for another few years, we decided to just move forward, even though I'd be 37 weeks pregnant by the time the actual wedding date came.  Even though we had a three year old, we were broke and unwilling to go into ANY debt, paying for our wedding.

We made everything ourselves.  We got married on an overlook on Mt. Washington; the city of Pittsburgh sprawling beneath us.  We hung tissue paper flowers and vellum mobiles that I worked my swollen, pregnant ass off to finish.

The most magical thing, by far, for me, was the blessing of my dress.

I didn't have a dress until a few weeks before the wedding.  I decided to just wear a white sun dress, which, as time and my pregnancy went on, was becoming less and less flattering.  I tried it on, one day, just to get an idea of what I was working with, and I just BAWLED in front of the mirror.  It was awful.  All hiked up in the front and unflattering, I hated that I was going to be a bride feeling so round and ungainly and unattractive.  Hated it.

That's when my friend Avy messaged me from Philadelphia.  She had gotten married the summer before, and she asked me if I wanted her dress.  Her beautiful, sparkly dress with a train and little white glittery beads embroidered all over it.  She sent it to me and I tore into the box like a mad woman.  I scooped it up in a big ball of crinoline and ribbons and tried it on in the middle of Scouty's bedroom.

I totally BAWLED again, but this time because I felt so beautiful.

What Avy did for me, by sending me her dress, was a more amazing thing that I can even convey.

I'm so happy that this dress is getting passed on, again.  It's going to make another beautiful bride.  It's going to carry on a little bit of the love from our wedding day, from my friends' wedding day, and you better believe that it's going to make me bawl, again.





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Thursday, September 13, 2012

What I'm grateful for - mommy edition

I am grateful that my kids live the sort of life where they believe the world is a good place, full of people who love each other.

I'm grateful that they know and love people from many different circumstances, and of many different demographics, and that they wouldn't dream of judging someone based on anything other than the amount of good they do, or don't do, in the lives of the people who love them.

I am grateful that my girls have me.  I'm grateful that they're growing up with me for a role model.  Does that sound outrageous?  I guess what I'm really saying is that, I'm proud of who I am, as a mom and I'm just so happy that we all have each other.

I'm grateful that my daughter loves school, and that she thinks her teacher is WAY smarter and funnier than I am.

I am grateful for mornings when I wake up with a sleeping little girl in my bed, even though I'm not supposed to approve of it, when she crawls into bed with me at night.

I'm grateful for movie night, for snuggling up with my big girl and having her so still and perfect next to me.

I'm grateful for my gaggle of mamas, for sitting in the sunlight with babies crawling all over us, trying to carry out a conversation while watching our kids run and play and do dangerous things like climbing across the monkey bars and jumping from the top of the brick wall that surrounds that park.

I am grateful that, so far, neither one of my girls has ever really been injured, and for the help that is always available, if they should get hurt.

I'm grateful for their little friendships and all the complications, love and honesty contained therein.

I feel grateful every time my two year old says, "I love you, Sissy."  Every time they hug and kiss, for all the time they spend playing happily together.  They are best friends, and kind to one another.  I am grateful for that.





Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Things I am grateful - Daddy edition

Undoubtedly this will humiliate him, which is just one of the many reasons I am grateful for daddy.

(Can I admit something to you?  Lots of times, when bloggers post pictures of their husbands, I feel like, "Woah, wait a minute.  THAT is her husband?"  I don't know if men don't come through well in pictures or something, but I always feel like random husbands on the internet look a little... well, weird.  Oh, and also when I go to a school function, and I'm used to interacting with all of these adorable, stylish women, who I assume are married to adorable, stylish husbands.  When I meet their husbands, it's always just, kind of like, woah.  ...Anyway.  That was a total side note.) 

There are cute husbands out there.  Like yours, I'm sure.

My husband is one of the stylish, cute ones, even though his face flushes red every time I post a picture of him here, because he has trouble seeing himself that way.  (Which is just another reason to love him.)

I am officially, terribly, disgustingly grateful for my husband.  

Here are some reasons why...


1. He writes me love letters.


2. He gives the girls a bath every night.


3. He believes that women are people, and he's a wonderful, feminist male role model for our girls.


4. He's soft spoken.


5. He has a (mostly) good taste in music.  (cough, radiohead, cough)


6. He's fun to watch TV with.


8. He lets me sleep in on the weekends.


 7. He lets me drive.

 
8.  He would do anything to make the girls happy.  Including letting Scouty paint his toenails.


9.  He's a total mathelete.


10. He's low maintenance.


11.  He pretended to be a doctor while we were waiting for Louisey to be born.


12.  He's super funny and says the funniest jokes in the world, all the time.


13. He never has anything bad to say, even when I get into a mood and end up shaving off all of my hair.

Also, he never spends money, like at all.

He looks like Elliott Smith sometimes in pictures.

He's sensible.

He is the total opposite of dramatic.

He keeps his sports liking to extra hours after I have gone to bed, even when he's so excited about the first football game of the season that I come home to find him wearing a Steelers jersey and swinging a yellow towel above his head.

He will go down the scary water slides, with enough prodding.

He dresses well.

He read the Harry Potter books even though it was like, against his religion. 

He always agrees with me when I start ranting about something.

Because he's smart.

And he's cute.

He can't sing, though.


The End.


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