#Microblog Mondays 2: Quiet Happy.

Microblog_Mondays

(Not sure what #MicroblogMondays is? Read the inaugural post which explains the idea and how you can participate too.)

I have been getting up a half hour earlier every day to write in my journal – even if it’s just a word or two – for a month now. Even on the days where it feels like I have little to say, the experience of it has been so good for me.

In the years of fertility treatments, where we were hoping against all odds to have a baby, the silence of my house mocked me; a reminder of how much I longed to be a parent and how scared I was that it wouldn’t happen. I avoided it at all costs; listened to music, talked over it, moved through it too quickly.

Now, my favorite part of journaling in the early mornings is that stillness. On most days, it infuses in me a quiet happy which I can use as an antidote to the stress of the day.

I love starting out my day communing with quiet words, coffee, and the sunrise.

#Microblog Mondays 1: The Boy Who Loved Nonfiction.

 

Microblog_Mondays

(Want to know what #Microblog Mondays is? Click here)

My son treats the library as his own personal learning experience; he spends all his time in the kids room in the Early Reader Nonfiction section with the books on emergency vehicles – Fireboats, Ambulances, Fire Trucks – construction vehicles, and thankfully has moved on to natural sciences like the book on the lifecycle of a frog and salmon and bee.

It’s a hard sell for me to get him to agree to a book with a Story, but I keep trying. Because *I* need a book with a story sometimes. Took me three tries, but he agreed to Charlotte’s Web, which he thankfully enjoyed.

I recently convinced him to try Charlie and the Chocolate Factory this last trip to the library, and so the book came home with us. He wouldn’t read it right away. And when I was out one night, Jeff asked Owen if he wanted to read that it.

Oh, that book, Owen said.

Mom made me get that one.

(Someday. I still have hope.)

Thestrals and the Holidays.

I loved the Harry Potter books. I ALWAYS pre-ordered the next in the series, and every year, I’d “prepare” for the next book by re-reading the prior version at the beach down the Cape, where my aunt and uncle, my godparents, used to vacation.

It was one of my favorite traditions.

Books are my escape. When I read a good work of fiction, I’m am never aware of reading the words. I see it happen, in my head. Coming out of a book for me is akin to being woken up from a deep dream; it takes me a lot of time to shake off the experience of the book and come back into my real life.

Getting unbroken time to read, these days, is rare.

So I have such fond memories being on the beach, with the white noise of the waves, the salty tang of the ocean on my tongue, immersed in a whole other world – it was one of my favorite places to be.

And it was where I read in horror as Cedric Diggory died.

And then, a summer later, Harry could suddenly see the creatures that pulled the carriages from the train station to Hogwarts.

Thestrals, Luna Lovegood tells him. He’s not crazy – only people who have seen death can see them.*

* * * * * *

I started my first blog in 2006, and I found a community of women out there who were just like me. Back then it felt like we were all connected; I met some of the people who have become my soul sisters.

And I KNOW things change, but lately I feel like everything you put online has to be perfect; the perfect recipe, the perfect Elf on the Shelf setup, the perfectly staged selfie.**

There’s so many voices out there, so many people showing off how perfect their efforts are… it can be so isolating to be surrounded by Perfect sometimes.

* * * * * *

For a lot of years, I justified not allowing myself to grieve over my cousin’s suicide. Because, I intellectualized, my grief wasn’t as valid as my aunt’s, or my cousins’ – they lost a daughter, a sister. I felt like I didn’t have any right to attach myself to her death because my pain was nowhere CLOSE to theirs.

I played the pain olympics a lot, too, when we were trying to have a baby. At first, I’d say, at least we hadn’t been trying for 2 years – wow, that’s a long time! And then, when we were going on year three, I’d tell myself we had it good because at least I didn’t lose babies. And then, when I lost babies, I told myself that at least we had Owen, because wow, there were so many people who wanted a baby and didn’t get one.

It’s taken me a really long time – a lot of pain, a lot of struggle, and finally a lot of accepting the validity of my emotions – to realize this.

Death and loss comes in all different forms.

Not just losing people to death – like Harry did with Cedric, or my aunt and cousins did with their daughter and sister, or I did with pregnancies.

Loss can be also about the death of your dreams, too. Losing the dream of getting married, or being a mom someday, or having as many children as you dreamed of, or saving the world, or making a difference in someone’s life, or playing basketball for Duke, or being rich and famous… it’s loss, no matter what the dream is.

Loss is loss. Period.

* * * * * *

Christmas is supposed to be the best wonderful time of the year – the songs say so. The pictures on Facebook say so. The stores tell you buying more, more, MORE will make Christmas the best time of the year. I feel like I’m surrounded by all this noise – perfect people doing perfect things and having perfect Christmases.

I should be, too.

And, of course, I AM enjoying my Christmas season. I love writing my cards out, listening to holiday music, relaxing in front of the tree with eggnog, playing Santa, seeing family and friends and spreading the proverbial Christmas cheer. I found the VERY BEST version of a Christmas song (which: I didn’t actually like this song until I listened to these guys do it. Go check it out – seriously amazing. I’ve been listening this on repeat on a daily basis).

But it’s NOT perfect. There’s also loss in there, too. I miss my aunt, and I grieve that it’s been almost 20 years since we lost Amy, and I feel the sting of broken dreams when I hang up three stockings on our bannister, instead of the four we had hoped for.

So for me, what I see on social media perpetuates this idea that maybe I am the only one who feels this way. Because around me so many people are baking cookies, decorating gingerbread houses, and playing Santa far better than I am. Happy, HAPPY! my Facebook feed screams at me when I log in. HAPPPPPPPYYYYYYYYYY!!! NOW WITH EXTRA SMILEY FACE EMOTICONS!

It’s not until I have conversations with people or read blogs that I hear about the loss, too. The friend who is still mourning the loss of his mother. The friend living childfree who is reminded at Christmas that she wanted a very different experience. The friend with a newborn who is mourning that nursing didn’t go the way she had wanted. The friend dealing with uncertainty of an IVF cycle and whether she’ll make her son a sibling. The friend who struggles every year with buying presents because money is hard to come by. The acquaintance whose 5 year old daughter with cancer doesn’t have much time left with them. The parents who lost their children a year ago to devastating violence at the elementary school. The victims of the Boston marathon bombings, who lost their old way of life and are having to forge a new life for themselves.

It’s not just me.

Loss is everywhere.

And that’s what we need this Christmas – a reminder.

We’re all in this Being Human thing together. What we see on social media is life PR – life the way we WANT it to be. But real life is messy and chaotic and full of complications like loss and grief.

So for those of you who are struggling with this holiday season – for whatever reason – and feel like you’re alone?

You’re not crazy.

I see the thestrals too.

*I never understood this. Didn’t Harry see his mom die in front of him when he was a baby? So why couldn’t he ALWAYS see the thestrals? Probably me taking things too literally – and yes, I’m aware that it is a work of fiction that has to do with wizards and witches, so there IS some relinquishing of reality which must go on. But still.

**My good friend Mel wrote about this too. Worth a read.

Liebster Award

Good grief, it’s been too long since I wrote last. Too many work hours, too little sleep, lots of running and juggling and tasks and stress in between.

My marathon is Sunday, and I have a goal to write every day – either here or in my journal – in November. So hopefully you’ll hear from me soon.

In the meantime,  I need to start somewhere – I feel like the spigots of my writing ideas has rusted shut. I need to wrest them open and let the words flow to clean it all out.

And luckily, my good friend Mel nominated me for a Liebster Award. So here are my responses. And there will be something of substance soon – at the very least, a race write up. 🙂

Longest you’ve ever gone without a shower.
I generally don’t go very long between showers; I hate the feeling of being gross and greasy and oily. And add the running into the mix – it’s not really that great for me to go without a shower.

I used to backpack, though – many many moons ago. I think I went for a 5 day trip where I didn’t shower, though I did bring wet naps I used to freshen up here on a daily basis.

Tell us about a recent disappointment.

I had intended on taking the latter half of September and all of October off of work. To that end, I spent three weeks working every day. I pretty much did nothing BUT work. I was looking forward to my time off, catching up on sleep, spending quality time with Owen and Jeff, cooking, organizing, etc.

But the woman for whom I worked called me – on a day where my alarm rang at 3:51 so I could be at work at 5am – and said she had another client who needed me right away, and I wouldn’t be able to take time off.

And instead of saying no, I agreed to it.

I cannot tell you how disappointed I was in myself. Balance will not come by itself, it takes work. And the ability to say no.

And I, apparently, cannot say no to more work.

Tell us the person you’d most like in the car with you for a road trip.

You know, I don’t know. My favorite traveling companion is Jeff, but we don’t do a lot of car trips. Overseas, flights, exploring cities by foot – that’s what we do really well together.

A roadtrip, I think, is different. Jeff and I are similar in that we value efficiency, and on a roadtrip some of the best moments and experiences is when you DON’T follow the interstate – veer off here and there.

So I think I’d pick one of my best girlfriends for a roadtrip. We’d go off the beaten path just so we can eat at a hole in the wall diner which has amazing burgers. We’d stop to take pictures at kitschy road stand, and sing at the top of our lungs. It would be fun.

Which do you like better: goats or sheep?

Goats freak me out. They eat ANYTHING. They will head butt you at a moment’s notice.

Sheep, on the other hand, are fuzzy and chill. They’re like wooly cows – will just stand there and look at you. And really, is there anything cuter then a lamb?

Do you like to watch scary movies?

Hell no. I was the kid that had nightmares from ET. (In my defense, the people in the suits were scary!!) Gremlins terrified me.  The Blair Witch Project made me motion sick, but despite the fact that I never actually WATCHED the entirety of the movie because it was going to make me puke, the next camping trip I was terrified the Blair Witch was going to show up.

The most recent – within the past decade, that is – scary movie I watched was The Ring. Not only did it give me nightmares for weeks, even nearly TEN FREAKING YEARS LATER I CANNOT SEE A CAPPED WELL WITHOUT FREAKING OUT.

And no, I’m not kidding.

But I’m also the chick that won’t go into my basement at night because that’s where the bogeyman lives. 🙂

What do you call yourself when you’re talking to yourself inside your head?

Depends on my mood, but in all honesty I am not very nice to myself inside my head.

If I’m pissed off, the Inner Critic will call me a moron, or an idiot. As in “seriously, you did WHAT? Are you a complete moron?”

If I’m in a good mood, I’ll often refer myself as bitch. As in, “Come on, bitch – get this mile. You GOT this!”

Name someone from your kindergarten class that you wonder about to this day.

I went to a catholic school for kindergarten, since I missed the cutoff in the public schools.

And in Ms Gabriel’s kindergarten class, I got married to a boy named Donald. I don’t remember much about him other than his name and the fact that we shared a table just the two of us while the other kids sat 3-4 kids per table. I think that’s why we got married, because we sat together. And therefore, our marriage was short lived, because I transferred to the public school for first grade.

Anyway, I wonder about him now. I have no visual of him, and I am always curious as to what he’s up to.

What is the best song for picking up your mood?

Right now it’s Mahler’s fourth symphony. I cannot tell you how good it is for calming anxiety and stress, how well it works to help me BREATHE.

But if I need a good, pump me up song, ANYTHING by Mumford and Sons makes me happy.

How do you organize your socks?

Running socks are placed flat together. My compression running socks are folded once over. They both go in my running clothes drawer (yes, I have a whole drawer of running-only clothes). Other socks are nested together in a separate drawer which includes my belts and trouser socks too.

When no one is home, do you close the bathroom door?

I don’t actually close doors in my house. The only exception is Owen’s door when he’s in bed for the night. We sleep with the door open, I usually have the bathroom door open whenever I’m in there – unless it’s winter and I’m showering, because opening the door makes the room frigid when I get out.

So it’s safe to say if no one’s home I don’t bother closing the bathroom doors.

Well, unless I’m showering and it’s cold. I need my hot hot hot shower. 🙂

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The rules are that I should tag another blogger and ask them 10 questions.  But I’m a rule breaker. Instead, put a comment below and answer one of the above questions yourself! 🙂

To Kill A Mockingbird : A GRAB(ook) review.

I joined an online book club a little while back, led by one of my good friends. And I was really excited to get the next assignment. To Kill A Mockingbird was one of my favorite reads from my English undergraduate degree. In college, I was drawn to Scout, who reminded me of myself when I was young.

(Man, college was a looooooooong time ago.)

When I read it again a few weeks ago, I was struck by this idea that repeats itself throughout the book:

You never really know someone until you stand in his shoes and walk around in them.

What would life be like if we all did this? If, instead of judging moms for their parenting choices, perpetuating the so-called mommy wars because someone made different choices than we did, we agree instead that parenting is a really tough job?

What if, instead of telling a child he shouldn’t be angry over some minor issue, we instead look it things from his perspective and acknowledge his frustration?

What if we cultivated compassion and understanding of religions we didn’t understand, of people we didn’t understand, of circumstances we thought maybe were all their fault?

What would our world look like?

After you answer my question, please click over to read the rest of the book club questions for To Kill a Mockingbird.  You can get your own copy of To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee at bookstores including Amazon.

Just Do It.

Wow, how is it August already?

My lack of posting isn’t because I have nothing going on. On the contrary. I’ve started up my half training for the fall, after slacking a bit with my running in June and early July. It’s hard getting back into it, but I’m into week three and am feeling it come back, slowly. I’m still low on endurance, but I’m getting there.

Yesterday I had lunch with an old high school friend; someone I haven’t seen in at least 15 years, maybe more.

And over the course of our lunch, she mentioned that she wanted to write but was finding it hard to find the time.

I wholly, completely, one thousand percent identify with her.

And then we talked about how hard it is to find time, and she showed me her journal, where she keeps her ideas for writing. How she heard a perfect writing prompt in an airport one time (seriously, it’s a PERFECT prompt: someone on the loudspeaker announced: The Cowboy is down. That is inspiration for a story right there.)

We talked about how hard it is, though, to find the energy at the end of a long day to put words to paper, unless there’s a burning idea for a story. (And even then it’s nearly impossible.)

I often have stories in bullet form point – where if I just had the TIME, I could nuture the sentence or bullet into something beautiful.

Ah, but there’s no time.

Something about me: I am an accountant who probably should have never been an accountant. It was a practical choice, of course. I was driven by indecision – not knowing WHAT I really wanted to do – and coupled with a burning desire never to be out of work.

And it worked out for me – since becoming a CPA in 2003 I have never been out of work, without it being my choice.

But, by gawd, it’s soul-sucking. There are days when I feel so far removed from the girl who spent her summers writing ridiculous “novels” – wandery love stories with very little plot. (aka: girl meets boy, they fall in love, they get married and have kids. Yawn.)

I used to dream about starring in a Broadway play. I wanted to dance and sing and write and play my clarinet.

I sing in my car, and dancing has been replaced with running. I haven’t played my clarinet since I was pregnant with Owen.

And I’m currently writing about my client’s monthly deferred revenue reconciliation process.

Whee.

Thing is, I know that girl is in here somewhere. And if I could carve out just a LITTLE more time to make it happen, maybe I could find her again.

Except. My alarm rang this morning at 4:21am (so, you know, I can get a snooze in before I have to get up), and I’ve been in Boston at my client since 6. I’ll leave here at 3(ish) today so I can pick up Owen and bring him to his own race tonight – he and Jeff are running the Beverly Yankee Homecoming race at 5:30 and 6 tonight, respectively.

Then we’ll go home and I’ll figure out how to work in dinner for Jeff and I, a 4 mile run, packing for our weekend trip to Boothbay Maine, and maybe some additional work tonight, depending on my client deadline.

Where will I get the time?

Oh. Right now. On this blog.

This is writing, too.

It’s time I just DO it.

So here goes. 15 minutes a day. Here, maybe. Maybe in a journal if my thoughts are not fit for human consumption. (Yes, that happens.)

But here’s where I say this:

I want to write. And I am just going to do it.