where on earth have I been???

I really thought I would have gotten more done by now. My children have been in school for over a month now. All of them.

Aren’t they so cute on the first day?

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Today I took some time to review my last few posts here. I was reacquainting myself. Reconnecting with that woman who does her best to put her soul into words and claim it by writing on her little corner in cyber space.

That woman has still been musing, still been creating, still been learning and growing. Still writing even. Just less and not on here.

Not because I don’t love what here is, because I do. I am so grateful to have readers who meet me in this place, who see me for what I offer, who peek inside themselves and share with me that I am not alone.

But I also have some safety issues. I’ve alluded to them here and there. They pop their head up every once in a while and prevent me from sharing what I want to share on this particular blog.

My battle with them has been a bit more present than normal the last several months, if that makes sense to any of you. That’s the yuck part.

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The yay! part is that I have also been embarking on new adventures. “Digging in” was the main theme of the summer. The boys and I did not do all that much. We stayed home and were together a lot. We enjoyed a slower pace. We rested. We dug in to time at home. Insert deep breath.

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Mostly I loved it. Sometimes I had to fight the voices that like to tell me my value is in how much I am doing. That I’m “supposed” to live life at a fast pace or I don’t count for squat. I learned that living within my boundaries – not writing on my blog for instance because I simply can’t do it all – takes practice. So staying home might not seem like an adventure, but it was, and I think it was really good for all of us.

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I also dug into our Lego collection. I sorted them. I know. You’re right. I might be a little insane. I can’t really explain it other than I needed to. Sorting Legos was my cathartic way to process the fact that my children are growing up.

And staying home allowed for me to have time for working on my yard. And I actually wanted to, can you believe it? I’ve been working hard. Digging and pulling and clearing and watering and digging and digging. Our yard is a far cry from what it was back on my Insideout post.

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I have decided that pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds are about the MOST exciting thing a new grow-er can plant.

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And I have been dreaming new dreams. I have discovered something in me that needs to be pursued. And that involves grad school.

Yikes.

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thank you :)

leibster-blog-award

I am hiding.

That was the opening line of one of the most recent blog posts I started. I was in a whimsical, carefree mood but I knew he truth of those three words went far beyond what I meant at the time.

The truth is, I have been hiding. Sure, there is the valid business of being the mom of three boys. Of having my husband gone more this last semester. Of having my commitments stack on top of one another in a way I hadn’t anticipated.

But then there is the more real reason.

I’ve been avoiding a truth. I have a block. A writing block.

I know what it is. My voice is a signature issue in my life. There are emotions involved. Old patterns. A voice other than my own that likes to sneak into my head and make me question all of who I think I am. And shake me.

But with the new year and a new laptop I have received just enough encouragement to help me make a go of it anyway. Push through. Keep trying.

And I’m starting by tying up loose ends from last year. I went through Harley (old faithful laptop) and transferred all of my unfinished blog posts to Charlie (new hopeful laptop….and she’s pink). And top of the list is to address the thank you I was avoiding at the end of last year.

I don’t know why I find it so hard to receive a compliment. Maybe it’s because I am usually the compliment giver. So much so that in high school and college I coached most of my friends on how to graciously receive a compliment.

I suppose I got tired of that interesting moment when someone receives a compliment and doesn’t know how to respond. The awkward silence. The down-play. The self-deprecating come back.

So when I sense the other person is flattered, grateful, and awkwardly at a loss of what to say or do in return, I come back with my usual in an attempt to put the other person back at ease.

It’s okay…just smile and say thank you.”

Apparently I should have been listening to myself.

But today, in honor of facing that which I have been avoiding, I say thank you to hiddinsight.

The writer of this blog nominated me for a Leibster award. I have not entirely figured out these blogging awards, but they seem to be given by other bloggers to honor one another and connect us to each other.

I cannot tell you hiddinsight‘s name. All I know is that she is an incredibly honest soul who writes about the process of her marriage recovering from an affair she had. She is brave and beautiful. I highly encourage you to check out her blog. I am honored to be honored by her.

Thank you, hiddinsight. 🙂

Tune in again tomorrow to read my answers to hiddinsight’s 11 questions to her award nominees.

help

I had no idea the help I was about to uncover. I sat down with my husband’s homemade curry (I know right? I am so lucky – thanks Babe!) and my son’s iPod was sitting right there on the couch.

So I turned it on in an attempt to turn myself off. At least a little. Maybe just set myself on autopilot to detox from the post Thanksgiving shopping I braved earlier in the day.

I checked email.

None of my children were bothering me. No one was asking me questions. Sometimes I love technology. I know it is not always the best thing for my boys’ brains. I may simultaneously feel like a bad mom. I may pay the price later with overly-squirrelly boy energy.

But in the moment I feel a profound amount of relief and gratitude.

And because my children were all plugged in for the moment leaving me alone, I had time to chase some rabbit holes on email that mostly I avoid in an effort not to have hours of my time slip away into nothingness in the blink of an eye.

I read an interview that one of my friends did with another friend on their blogs. Leeana (www.gypsyink.com) is a talented author and Tina (www.winsomewren.blogspot.com) is a lifelong artist.

What I found was inspiration. Just enough to help me actually upload my last post. And then sit down to write some more. Sometimes help comes at just the right time, in just the right way.

What I was reminded of is how contagious creativity is. And while part of the reason my posting here has slowed is that life sped up; there is another element at play.

With the speeding up of life, I have found it harder to read my favorite blogs. I feel like I am just barely making enough time to write on my own blog.

And that is no good. Because creativity breeds creativity. If I want to be creative, write creatively, I have to make space to enjoy the creativity of others.

I was so encouraged by Tina’s “about” side bar. She is an advocate for creativity, and I love it. I need reminders of the importance of taking care of myself. Of nurturing the artist within. Of making space in my schedule and my heart for being creative.

I need reminders that it’s okay. That I am better for who I love when I have time doing what I love. And then I need to remind myself not to beat myself up for not having it all figured out.

Because life is often a dance. And when things like this happen – so serendipitous and perfectly timed – I am reminded to trust the dance of life even if I need help remembering the steps. 

lost

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I lost myself that day. I had been shoving aside my creative time week after week making room for the urgent. Life’s urgency can be that way from time to time, can linger longer than I intend.

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There was a school carnival to plan. Then there was the unforeseen enormity of a school carnival wrap up. Then there was Halloween costumes to put together and celebrations to be had. And of course trick or treating with The Grim Reaper, Robin Hood, and Bumblebee the transformer. That cannot be missed.

Then there was a sinus infection to recover from.

And after all of that, I came back to a precious Tuesday. Tuesdays are preschool days. Three hours doesn’t sound like much, but compared to nothing it can be the world.

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That morning my oldest complained that he didn’t feel good and maybe he should stay home. Back off buddy. I have been waiting for this Tuesday for a long time. You don’t have a fever. You’re not throwing up. You are going to school.

I landed at Balboa Park with my camera. I chuckled to myself as the compliments people have given me about the pictures on the blog floated through my mind.

Never in a million years have I thought myself a photographer. I just want readers to have an image with each post as a way to connect. So I try to capture one. Emphasis on try.

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And because I don’t think of my self as a photographer, taking pictures is an easy way for me to let go of the results and immerse myself in the process of being creative. That and the ease and affordability of digital images.

So immerse I did.

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Little did I know my soul was so dehydrated. My logic turned off and I listened to that little intuitive voice I talked about last post.

Go this way. Move in. Try. Try again. Move on. Over here.

Before I knew it, I was lost. Having an experience completely away from my normal life, my normal self. Being satisfied by something I cannot explain.

As I drove back to preschool I realized I was still sort of there, in the creative world. And I loved how it stuck to me and refused to be shaken off.

What was your last experience in the creative world? 

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Where do artists find their bravery? Creative self-expression is incredibly risky business. It involves taking a chunk of your soul and doing the best that you can to put some tangible form to it.

And this world tells us to stuff our souls down and pretend they don’t exist. Souls are an intangible part of us that are not easily explained and therefore make us all a bit uneasy.

But our souls were created to live and thrive and express themselves. I find I am much better off when I live connected to myself, to my soul, and have some way of communicating that. To others, perhaps. But mostly to myself.

And art helps me connect with my soul and remember it is there and it is a part of me, no matter how uncomfortable that may be at times.

I have observed an infectiousness to art. People I don’t know, perhaps hundreds of years ago, perhaps ten minutes ago, wept and laughed and searched and journeyed in an effort to discover their soul.

And after the painfully wonderful process of finding this treasure, they found a very brave piece of themselves and used that to help them express that soul.

Then I or someone else sees it or hears it or reads it.

And somehow, some way, through the mystery of it all, the observer who is open to wonder and beauty and things that don’t make sense (hopefully me!) is touched. And amazingly, this person finds a piece of himself or herself through experiencing the art of another.

So art is a way we find ourselves and find one another.

But there is always a risk. Because not every individual is touched by art. Art is often misunderstood. Misconstrued. Misinterpreted. And so the artist is as well.

Art requires a commitment to bravery all the way through the process, from being willing to discover one’s soul to letting go and seeing where that soul takes us all the while letting go of what others might think of any end result. Including ourselves.

What art has moved you recently?

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He does not perform. The thought occurs to me as I walk by my eight-year-old working diligently on his current project. He is making an Angry Birds Space encyclopedia.

Just before this ah-hah descends on me, I am grumbling in my head. Why doesn’t he work this hard on school projects? This is what I mean when I say give 100%. I know he has it in him, why doesn’t he use this motor more?

Because unlike his mother, my son is NOT a type-A personality. He is a good-enougher. He is an I’m-not-defined-by-my-performance kind of guy. He is someone who enjoys life and doesn’t take himself too seriously.

And I love that about him more than I can say. Even though I go crazy over it from time to time. This beautiful freedom he lives in rubs against my performance-driven, rule-following, live-up-to-all-expectations nature.

And that is SO GOOD for me.

As this new revelation about my son and how he ticks sinks in, I swell with admiration. He puts his heart and soul into the things he determines are worthy of such priceless energy.

Not into what will score points with his teacher, the people around him, or even his mother. He will not do things just to look good in the eyes of another. He will not perform.

He does, however, have much heart and soul to pour into things. And he does use that energy from time to time. On projects that matter to him.

This is all very helpful for me to consider. Because as his mother, I need to help equip him to navigate through this world. And to not loose himself in the process.

There are times when he will have to harness this energy even though he doesn’t want to because that is what his life requires of him at the given moment. But those times are probably fewer and farther between than I as his mother think they are.

Yet at the same time, how wonderful for him to know with such certainty that his life cannot be lived to please others. He must be true to himself. How does he know such a thing at this tender age?

I marvel at moments like these. I think I am helping my children discover pieces of themselves and figure out where they go. And then they hand me pieces of myself that have been missing all my life. 

tension of the sweet spot

Where is that sweet spot? That place that challenges me to stretch farther than I thought I ever would without being so far to break me? I would appreciate if that place was easier to find, to be aware of within myself, to dwell in.

Recently a friend asked me to write a poem for her husband. I know some would argue that all of what I write is poetry, just mostly in the form of prose. But I do not think of myself as a poet.

When I wrote the one poem I have published on this blog, I felt terribly out of my element. Poetry is outside the box and makes me squirm. Very risky business. I don’t think I have that intuitive gut that tells me how the words need to be broken up, where they ebb and flow to make just the right song.

And yet, there is something weighty in the freedom to express something without having to spell it out. To guess my way through something based on hunches and relying on instincts I didn’t think I had.

This was also the first time I tried to write something for someone else. What a privileged challenge to climb inside someone’s soul and try to figure out what is locked in their heart and express it on their behalf. Looking into her words to find what is behind them. Empathy and listening – strengths I live in as easily as I breathe – become a foreign. I am a novice once again. And it feels good to be so green.

She gave me her raw material and I just about died. Her heart of love for her husband, this life they have built together, the respect and honor for this man. This was sacred ground. How could I ever do this justice? I almost broke the entire time, but I also felt like I was flying. How can that be?

I have a draft. She may love it. She may hate it. I hope she feels free to be honest. No matter what the result, I am better for it. I didn’t look for it, I didn’t orchestrate it, but this was that sweet spot, making me wretchedly uncomfortable and wildly energized all at once.