This Mother’s Day will be my first one without having any offspring living at home!
That in and of itself it a strange thing to even contemplate.
I could stay home and lament, that I miss my kiddos, but instead, my SweetHeart and I are headed to a Massage Retreat in Ashland where I plan to relax and enjoy celebrating that I raised some awesome young adults.
In the parenting world, we talk a lot about raising kids, but the real goal is to raise grown ups. It helps, if we ourselves know how to be grownups in the process, but that's not always the case.
Holidays like Mother’s Day can open up all kinds of stuff, getting us thinking about and over evaluating how we were mothered and how we mothered our own kids.
Sometimes, there’s this sense of idolatry, especially when our mother’s are no longer with us, as though she was the Saintly Mother Mary whose every act was of charity and love.
Sometimes, families are estranged and there’s deep sadness and grief if we didn’t get what we felt we needed.
The thing that bugs me most, is that often, there’s this glorification of martyrdom coupled with a ridiculously high expectation of perfection when it comes to Motherhood.
I just have to laugh at that craziness.
Mother’s are humans, for the love of God. Where did we get the idea they’re supposed to be perfect?
Maybe the best Mother’s Day gift we could universally give each other is a break?
The one thing that I think is true, no matter what, is that we all mess up to some degree, at least some of the time.
Some are more patient, (not so much me) some are more nurturing (eh, sort of, maybe, sometimes) and some bring glittery crafts or carry healthy snacks (heck yeah! That's me!)
Sadly, some really didn’t really have the skills they needed to mother in the first place and so sometimes other people have to step in and other times people will have to figure out how to mother themselves in some ways because no one ever did.
I believe most of us are genuinely trying though, but none of us is going to be perfect.
If we’re going to be honest, all our moms messed up in some ways, and we messed up in others and if our kids become parents, well... they’ll likely do a bit of messing up as well.
Hopefully, we keep learning and growing as a species and are able to objectively look at what worked and didn’t work for us, and try to do better with that knowledge.
Hopefully, we can acknowledge our mess ups and say sorry.
And hopefully, we can forgive~ ourselves and our moms too.
Mostly, I hope we can say thanks to whoever helped mother us. If you haven't already, and you're able, just go hug your mom!
I hope your heart is full, the appreciation for you is abundant and someone brings you flowers and good food, and best yet, cleans up all the messes for you this weekend!
Happy Mother’s Day!
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Did I mention that while I was on my social media sabbatical, my Boy Child turned 19?!?!
He’s giant and funny and kind and running at life full speed ahead. He’s chasing all kinds of dreams, some of which make no sense to me at all, and I’m a super proud mama.
He came home at the last minute for his birthday, and it was great to hear him laughing and being a goof. My only complaint was that he (or one of his friends) put a Sprite bottle in the trash instead of the recycling. I mean, what were they, raised by beasts?
Kids these days….
Do they not know the plight of overburdened waste facilities and the awful mess made of God’s Green Earth by the last few generations of throw away consumer culture?!?!
Oh, they also left a cap off one of my Micron art pens. Sheesh…
As I capped my half dried out pen, I laughed and laughed like a madwoman. The lesson here is to count your blessings, my friend!
And also, if you're anything like me, you might occasionally need to laugh at yourself, pull the stick out of your butt, and quit rolling your snooty eyeballs.
If the only blatant misdoings of a 19 year old celebrating his birthday was a recycling faux pax and a dried out pen, I think things are going to be OK.
If any other mischief ensued, it was kept on the down low- making my life really easy, which I really appreciate. (But, of course, I'm sure the angelic youngsters did nothing)
Mostly, I appreciate these kids (even if they forgot to put the obviously recyclable bottle in the equally obvious recycling crate.)
I’m grateful that they like to come home and for mature conversations and late night laughter.
And I’m thankful that I get to see them head out to make their ways in the world while I cheer them on, offer flax seed infused brownies (because fiber is important and their colons will thank me later) and shout for all to hear “Make good choices!!!”
Earth Day came and went while I was on my Social Media Sabbatical for Lent, but I wanted to share some thoughts before the month is completely over.
The shirt on your back may not seem to be connected to the state of the planet, but really it is. I’m wearing a Wonder Woman pajama top as I type this, and as cute as it is, the process of getting it made and to a store where I could buy it for less than $15 probably wasn’t a good or healthy one for the people involved or God’s Green Earth as a whole.
Fashion is more than a way to express yourself or a way to try to fit in. It’s not typically thought of as something serious, but it’s actually a powerful economic force that has generated more money than top automakers some years.
It’s also, unfortunately, a major source of pollution, waste and human rights abuses. Cheap clothing that’s made by exploited people and falls apart is the norm, and when you stop to think about it, well, it feels kind of gross.
Check out this for a glimpse of the True Cost
I’m happy to say that there are people and companies who are trying to shift the polluted tides on the fashion industry and even if they’re baby steps, they have potential to grow into greater change for good.
Since I’m all about trying to focus my choices on how they make me feel, I’m looking for better options than the cheap, albeit cute, crap, which isn’t the easiest thing for a bargain hunter like me.
I don’t have a complete solution, but am definitely trying to be more conscious about where and how I spend my money because that after all is a vote. The more I’ve been open and paying attention, the more cool things I’ve discovered.
For the last 2 years, I've helped coordinate and hosted an Eco Fashion Show at the Whole Earth and Watershed Festival in Redding, California. We showcase both students and professionals designs including:
Trashion (making wearable art from things that were used and headed into a waste bin)
Upcycling (creating new one of a kind pieces using parts from existing used garments) and
Sustainable Fashion (made with fabrics, dyes or processes that are easier on the earth)
It’s both a lot of work and a really rewarding opportunity to share creativity and ingenuity in the community. People come up with and create so many fun things!
This year, I got more than I bargained for in terms of responsibility, and we had lots of last-minute issues, dropouts, weather forecasts threatening thunderstorms on our outdoor show and more. In all honesty, this led to a few minor meltdowns at home complete with wailing and gnashing of teeth and a desire to run off and call the whole thing quits.
Fortunately, the director of the entire festival is an awesome woman who doesn’t really let you bail on your responsibilities. I pulled myself together before going public, put on a big “on with the show” smile and managed to fool the people who participated into actually thinking I was calm and organized! Ha!
Seriously, the show was great in the end, and I appreciated all the contributions, from the hardworking kids and their parents, to the last minute models and designers who jumped in and shined.
Hopefully, we opened a few eyeballs and minds to considering different ways of creatively re-using things, avoiding fast fashion and supporting local artists. I know we had some proud and inspired kids, so that made all the work worth it.
It’s also great to see other companies (fashion and otherwise) making choices to do business in cleaner and less destructive ways.
Like this Dutch company that has come up with a way to dye fabrics without using water which could save millions of gallons of water and a whole lotta energy each year.
There’s also more technology being developed to recycle used fabrics in new ways~ like this project in Australia that repurposes used commercial textiles giving new life to old hotel sheets, towels and more by reducing them to their raw components and making them into new fabrics.
Zero Waste Daniel is a designer who makes one of a kind pieces using scraps from factories that would otherwise end up in the dump.
I also found this awesome creative re-use store in a rural Northern California town that is inspiring creativity and has diverted over 17 tons of usable materials from the waste stream last year! 17 tons!!!! That’s crazy huge! It's also a lot of fun, and I found goodies for hatmaking, trims and all kinds of fun stuff there for my own studio.
They’re all inspirational and the best part is, there’s so many more ideas, people and companies who’ve realized we don’t have to be so destructive just to get dressed.
I hope you’ll check them out and find a few things you can implement into your life. Whether you let your kids make costumes from your old clothes, shop at a thrift store, make yourself new skirt from an old tablecloth, buy something from a small handmade sewer, or, just buy less altogether, it all adds up, and it all feels pretty good too.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments below, and as always, please share with a friend!
Hope you had a Happy Earth Month. Until next time~
Wondering what six weeks off of social media feels like? Fan-freaking-tastic, that’s what.
If you happened to have noticed that I’ve been pretty quiet and absent for the last bit, that’s also why- I’ve been on a very satisfying social media sabbatical.
Every year, I’m in the practice of giving up something for Lent, and this year, it was going to be my habit of being judgy. While that’s a noble idea, and I could probably benefit from some variation, a few days before the season began, I started feeling like my judgy-ness is actually handy and useful for me in some ways right now.
At the same time, I started noticing that my tendency to check social media was feeling habitual and rarely if ever leaving me feeling happier or more productive.
One day, I’d popped on Facebook for “just a minute” as I was getting ready, and whoopsie- TWENTY SIX MINUTES LATER I noticed the time! I had to rush like a madwoman and found myself needing right about a half hour more time to do what I actually needed to do, but I had unfortunately wasted it on Facebook.
And it wasn’t even the least bit satisfying.
In fact, it was mostly annoying as I there was so much stuff that really didn’t matter to me in the least bit, yet I’d been somehow sucked in.
That was frustrating for sure, but then came the creepiness.
I was up late one night talking to someone about some relationship issues they were having. THE NEXT DAY, there was an ad in my Facebook feed about a program to help with relationship issues.
Hmmmm...I hadn’t done any searches on the topic, nor was I actually using my phone or laptop during the conversation, so this seemed a little weird, but I figured it could also have been coincidental.
Most people have relationship problems at some point or another, so it’s not like the topic was all that specific towards me. It felt “off” but I didn’t want to go all full force conspiracy theory about it.
A few weeks later though, I’m in the bath, and my SweetHeart brings me a glass of wine, and we chit chat a bit. He tells me about a really unusual medical condition affecting a kid we know. This isn’t your everyday run of the mill condition, but one I’ve never actually known anyone in my 47 years on the planet to have. I’ve only read about it in a novel once, And, my phone was IN THE NEXT ROOM.
So, the next morning, I’m scrolling through Instagram and bam, there’s an ad “Does your child have “Fill in the blank with the exact freaking unusual condition we had been talking about the night before?””
Coincidence? No freaking way. It was way too specific, and also way too creepy.
So, without even realizing it was the day before Lent began and without really telling anyone aside from a few close friends, I deleted the social media apps off my phone.
And so began my six-week sabbatical from social media.
I realized quickly that almost everyone I know over the age of 25 seems to have some sort of love/hate relationship with social media. Sometimes, it’s more of a hate/hate relationship, yet still, most of us still use it.
For the younger ones, many don’t even know a time without that dopamine hit of seeing who liked your selfie and some aren’t even the least bit creeped out by being listened to.
The first part makes me sad and concerned about what that does to the brain, communication skills, and relationships.
The second makes me wonder if they’ve never read or watched any futuristic sci-fi books or movies and how they could possibly NOT think this handy technology can and likely will be used against us?
This makes me want to yell “Resistance is NOT futile!!!!!” and to force a mass binge watching of the kind of movies that will activate the paranoid parts of their brains.
But, since that’s probably illegal, and makes me sound crazy, I’m focusing on my own relationship with technology first before I go freaking out on everyone else.
I am, however, immensely grateful that my kids grew up on the cusp of the smartphone era and got to be little kids and play with toys and run around and have a childhood of their own before the world came at them on a tiny screen in their teen years. It’s whole different world for younger kids and my hat’s off to the parents navigating how to use the technology wisely.
What I noticed myself right away in my time off social media was how often I would unconsciously pick up my phone on autopilot in the first few days and look for those little icons. But they were gone. My twitchy fingers and ping pong brain had to find something else to do. I was actually a little shocked and how much I distracted myself.
Standing in line, I was forced to just wait, or I could text a friend, or get out a notebook and make a random list or if I was really bored, I could talk to strangers. Eventually, I quit picking up my phone so often.
It reminded me of something my Girl Child observed on her gap year in Ecuador. Her iPhone was stolen fairly shortly into the trip and she didn’t have an international data plan anyway, so she was left to use a flip phone for emergencies. This forced her to go old school on her hour-long bus rides and just stare out the window. She commented more than once on how nice it was to just zone out AND how rarely that happened back in the US.
For me, having more time with my own thoughts rather than the random ramblings of everyone else was like an exhale. I felt less anxious and less rushed. Even though my responsibilities and routine hadn’t been reduced at all, I felt more peaceful.
Freeing up my brain space to focus on what I was actually wanting to accomplish was like some flashback to an earlier time, and I really liked it.
During the time, I took 3 coastal trips, and read books and wrote at night. I stared at the ocean and big trees rather than my phone. I did a lot of thinking, started a couple of new projects and did a whole lotta work on others. I also communicated directly with people a lot.
The downside was that also during the time, I was coordinating an event and 2 workshops leading up to it- you know....the kind of things that get promoted on social media. I did pop in 2 times to post a link and sent some messages to people I thought might be interested, but otherwise, I just left it up to others involved to get the word out.
That felt a bit weird and detached, but since my exodus wasn’t really planned out in advance, it was the best I could do. And in the end, it was enough. The show went on and was a success.
I did keep the messenger app as it’s the primary way I communicate with a few people, so the creepy mic listening has probably continued, but at least I wasn’t seeing ads targeted towards my conversations.
The evening of Easter came and went and even though Lent was over and so was my sabbatical, I found that I wasn’t really feeling that interested in social media. I opened Facebook and scrolled for about a minute, and found, for the most part, I just didn’t care.
Yes, it was nice to see a few faces I hadn’t seen in a while and to smile at their happy pictures and cute kids and vacations. Other things, like what people were having for lunch was still as uninteresting as it had been before and the bombarding of ads had a new feeling to it. Less frustration, and more, no thanks. I don’t need to scroll through all that. I don’t want to spend my life there.
I’m not under any illusion that I’ll be off social media for life because I do miss the sharing and connecting possibilities that can come through it. I’ll just be finding my way to get what I want and leave the rest behind so that I’m using the technology rather than it using me. I’m not sure what that means exactly, but I do know I like the feel of my own thoughts.
How about you? How do you feel about your relationship with social media? Do you love it? Hate it? And how do you navigate it with your kids? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
If you liked this essay, please share it using the very social media that I just took a break from! Ha!
And in whatever capacity works for you, I’d encourage more time in real life and less on screens.
Enjoy the day!
It’s the last day of January and I’m finally feeling ready to jump into 2019. My free trial month is over, so I guess it’s time to commit.
Yesterday, I finished the last bit of work on my Command Central Wall Planner and picked her up at the printers.
Isn’t she lovely?
I started this idea of making a full year at a glance wall planner a few years ago based on something I saw Jennifer Lee of Right Brain Business Plan did. She had this whole wall full of sticky notes where she could lay out everything and see the big picture of what was going on in her business and life.
As a woman with 3000 notebooks and sticky notes all over the place, I loved this concept. (Thanks Jen!)
I’ve been making myself some sort of big giant wall planner ever since and lemme tell ya~ the ability to see the whole year at once is brilliant when it comes to dreaming and scheming.
Being able to spread out for a big overview shows me when I have gaps or am overcrowding, and just all around helps me figure out how to keep this ship afloat.
My SweetHeart started calling it Command Central, and since it was pretty much a perfect name, I kept it.
Yes, I have a digital calendar too, and it’s wonderful for reminding me of appointments and meetings I might otherwise forget. But, I have to stare at screens a lot for my paid work and I like the hands-on feel and look of “real” things whenever possible.
Since I don’t want to add my to-do list to a screen, I have a paper planner that is great for daily and weekly stuff, and to some degree for months as well.
But Command Central is where I can figure out the whole big shebang~ and I love it.
Seeing it all in one shot helps me tell if I’m actually doing what's important to me versus just being busy.
Am I seeing my friends in real life? Having regular adventures with my Love and my Kids? Learning and Exploring?
Am I doing too much and going to lose my shizzle sticks?
Every year, my wall planner artwork has a different theme, depending on my mood, and since I’m making it all up as I go along, every year has been a learning experience.
So far, I haven’t managed to plan ahead enough to actually have my full year planner done by January 1st, but I’m more of an ease into the new year kinda gal anyway. Maybe someday I’ll manage, but today, I’m just happy to have it up now.
Isn’t she pretty? Did I ask that already? She takes up a lotta wall space, but I'm liking how she fits on the closet doors of my new studio.
Truth be told, I wasn’t crazy about some of the paintings, but I just let that go because time isn’t going to stop while I improve my skills, and in this case, done is better than perfect.
My goal was to just try to paint 12 different watercolor flowers, and I did. I scanned them in, added a grid, text, and numbers (which Good Lord, I hope I got them all right…) and sent them off to be printed.
She was up in her polished and new state for a very short few hours before I started filling her in.
It makes me happy to see my year unfolding and feel good about my chances of prioritizing what's really important to me.
To spread the joy, I was thinking about offering this years’ planner in PDF form as a free download, and if there’s interest, I’m happy to do it.
It’s easy to get printed (or print yourself) in color on cardstock (each month is standard 8 ½ x 11”) and you can get your own command central going too.
If you’ve got wall space and are inclined, let me know in the comments below if you’d like one for yourself. I’d be glad to put it together to share.
I’d also love to hear how you’re planning for an awesome 2019? Paper? Digital? Or just keeping it all in the noggin?
Hope it’s great, however you go about it.
As for me, I’m off to plot….let me know if you want a pdf!
Until Next Time~
If all goes right in your parenting journey, there will come a day when your offspring will spread their wings and fly out into the great big world.
That time came for my happy household last year, and in the most cliche of ways, it all happened much sooner than I expected.
The good news is that our kids all headed out in ways that are moving them towards new and exciting things, even if I didn’t see those things coming quite so soon.
That’s the thing about raising children to believe in chasing their dreams~ they grow up and do just that~ and perhaps sooner than you think.
Which is exactly what our kids are off doing, leaving my SweetHeart and me with what the world refers to as “an empty nest.”
The term seems to conjure up two distinct images. Either he parental units are wailing and weeping, no longer having a life purpose, or they’re whooping it up and grateful to finally have those pesky kids gone.
For me, it’s not really either. Although there might have been wee moments of both.
For the most part, we’re still getting used to the idea that kids don’t live here, and actually, there’ve been assortments of our kids and their friends visiting multiple times in those few months.
So, even though the house has had lots of kids here, technically, none of them actually live here now.
And with that, everyone seems to be asking me just what I’m going to do with my empty nest.
We’ve just started to ponder this new phase, and it’s such a ginormous and crazy change that it's strange to even wrap my head around.
But, when I’m posed with the question of what I’ll do, the first thing that comes to mind is….
“Whatever the heck I want!!!!!!
Because I’m a grown up and no longer responsible for other people!
I can eat cake for breakfast now and I’m not even being a bad example to anyone and come to think of it, I don’t even have to wear pants at home anymore if I don’t want to!”
The response, along with the following “Bwahahahaha!” type maniacal laughter usually only happens in my head..(thank goodness for that)
In real life, I don’t actually know what to say.
It’s a strange time, and while I miss connecting with my kids on the daily, I’m also really excited for them AND me.
Since daily momming has been my job for over 20 years, there’s a bit to process and figure out, but I realized there are few distinct things I found that are really helping me in the transition.
If you have kids flying the coop soon too, maybe these will be helpful for you as well.
I feel like I can breathe this huge sigh of relief because I raised competent people that I actually enjoy!
For 2 decades, I’ve been responsible for the daily food, shelter and upbringing of other humans!!
And now I'm not....
AND they’re not just OK, they’re pretty awesome!
“Momming” is pretty much embedded in my DNA at this point, and I'll admit that it’s really weird to not have it as a part of my daily rhythm. I find myself talking to the dogs and asking how their day went more often than I should admit.
Thankfully, I haven’t resorted to giving unsolicited advice and healthy snacks to random teenagers on the street, even though I know it would be helpful. (But, be warned, I may on occasion do this to kids I actually do know)
I’m just grateful that my kids are happy and kind people with strong connections to other good people.
They’re mostly able to figure out and deal with the stuff of life (and they know they can call or text if they need help.)
Of course, I still worry sometimes, but for the most part, when they’re big and need to be making their own decisions, if you don’t have to see every single choice they’re making, it’s a heck of a lot more relaxing.
Does that mean they’re doing everything exactly the way I think they should?
They’re living their lives and they’re making choices for themselves. They’re doing their research and they’re figuring it out as they go.
And I can take a deep breath and let it go. And celebrate and give thanks, because I did it!
And now, without those 3 extra full-sized humans in the house, I have sooooooo much extra time and space to relax into~ which brings me to the next step.
The mass exodus of teens leaves a lot of openings. There’s both physical space and chunks of time that I’ve never actually had all to myself before in this way.
I do miss their laughter and comradery, but I'm also really enjoying figuring out what to do with what I have in front of me.
The best part is that I get to do it creatively and consciously.
I know some people leave shrines in their kids’ rooms for years after they move out~ but, uh...not me.
No offense kids, but that’s valuable real estate.. and I’m paying for it, so I want to use it!
At some point towards the end of the year, I realized that with all of the transitions in our home, there had been both furniture as well as people moving in our house for half of 2018!
It didn’t just feel like a year of disarray~ It actually was.
Now that the teens are off, I’ve been clearing and cleaning, restructuring and decluttering to try to make this space work the best it can for where we are now in life.
I’ve worked at home for 20 years and had my workspace in some open to everyone space the whole time. Now that the kids are gone, I’ve taken over the biggest of their rooms for my studio and office.
I’m ridiculously giddy about my new space, with its VERY OWN DOOR! And it shuts! The concept of a room of one’s own has been one that has intrigued and eluded me since I first read Virginia Wolff’s words about it decades ago.
And now, here I have it! I have to lean back and sigh every time I think of how wonderful that concept is.
We still have a guest room and a couple of futons for the kiddos to sleep on when they visit, but I’m expanding all over and claiming the good space for me to use daily.
And that brings me to the next step.
I am seriously enjoying so many little things~ like the ability to leave out good chocolate and margaritas right out in the open…..and I don’t even have to consider if they’ll be there when I return.
It’s a wonderful life, indeed.
One blessing I’m needing to learn to navigate is that there’s food galore in this house!
Seriously~ So. Much. Food.
I found myself eating all the time in the first months of the transition.
I don’t want to talk about whether or not I need bigger pants as a result, but I will say. I do need to figure out buying and cooking for just 2 people.
There are some real perks with the abundant food scene though, like being able to enjoy my own leftovers from a nice dinner out, and the ability to sometimes get the super delightful kind of treats which I would have felt were way too expensive to feed so many people (especially when some of those people wouldn’t even appreciate the delicacies they were inhaling any more than they would some cheap sugar fix.)
But now I can buy good ice cream! And I actually get to eat it myself!
And as I mentioned~ I can leave my treats out~ like right out in the open!
And if I leave and come back, they’ll still be there for me to enjoy!
So, I'm celebrating that I don't have to inhale or hide my Really Good Goodies by enjoying lots of them.
And they’re all right out in the open baby!
Again, bigger pants may be in my future, and I'm actually curious as to whether or not I'll feel less inclined to drink margaritas now that I'm only responsible for myself, but have no idea how that will pan out....
Anyhoo, raising humans has been an amazing journey and a heck of a lotta fun~ along with a whole lotta very worthwhile work.
So, now, I feel like my job is to ENJOY.
Are things I wish I’d done differently?
Things I wish I'd done better, more of, or sooner?
Things I wish I’d never done at all?
Of course! Like a bazillion!
But I know I did my best with the tools and resources I had. I also tried to say sorry and learn from times when I blew it, just like I'd want them to do.
And now, they're on the own paths. Some things they talk about, some things they ask about, and some things they just want to figure out on their own.
Of course, I can freak out about that at times, but mostly, it makes more sense to trust the people I've raised, to let them live their lives, and use some of that energy on my own life.
So, I’m not feeling sad about this empty nest. I'm more curious and open to what’s next.
That brings me to #4 on my list:
It’s a big and beautiful world and I’ve always been a fan of exploring as much as I can. For years, the majority of that exploring was done with my kids~ through our homeschooling and life learning adventures.
While I know we’ll still do family adventures, the reality for a few years has been that when everyone is on a different schedule, it’s not easy to coordinate such things. So, my explorations as an individual have been growing slowly for some time.
I’ve always had my own interests and passions that I follow on the side, and now I feel really open up to the possibilities of what else I can learn, do, see and explore.
So far, this empty nest life has been pretty full. Travel, creating, work, play. Good Stuff.
And I know that there’s lots more where that came from.
I’ve said before that of all the jobs I’ve ever done (and there have been quite a few) raising humans has by far been the most meaningful. I’ve gained skills and learned lessons that will serve me always. I’ve done a lotta things and gone a lotta places with them in the process, and most importantly, I’ve had a heck of a lotta fun.
I’m proud and I’m relieved, and now, I’m ready to explore for myself what else I can find in that great big world out there.
If you enjoyed this post please give it a like on facebook and share it with a friend. If you’d like to read more of my ramblings on life, sign up for my semi-monthly ish newsletter.
And, if you have any thoughts or ideas to share on the post parenting life journey, please do so in the comments below. I love to hear what my readers are thinking.
Until next time~ Enjoy the day!
I’m always a fan of dreaming and scheming, but the clean slate of a brand new year seems to offer an even more magical time for plotting what’s next.
As much as I like to plan my possibilities, I’m not much for New Years Resolutions though.
I do enjoy a healthy self-imposed challenge, but full on winter just doesn’t seem like a very good time to start something that requires a lot of effort.
I mean, come on….it’s the coldest and darkest season of the whole year.
After all the celebrations and excess of the holidays, my body and mind would rather be curled up in a cozy cocoon and recovering after all the weeks of gluttony.
All these ads are telling me it’s time to be a skinnier, healthier, more productive, all improved New Me, but honestly, I just don’t have the desire or fortitude to go barreling full force towards some lofty fitness or lifestyle goals right now.
It just doesn’t seem natural for me to go high speed in winter. So, I'm not.
If you’re not feeling like taking on extreme sports style resolutions either, but you still want to get in on the New Year energy, consider joining me in a little season of relaxed dream incubating.
You don’t need to go as far as to shut yourself in a cave for months to hibernate, but it is nice to go with the flow of nature and get under some blankets with a cup of tea, light a candle and go inward to think about what you really want and need (not necessarily what’s being sold to you).
Before the planning starts, I always like to do some reflection~ you know, looking back before looking ahead.
I had all intentions of doing this on December 31st with my SweetHeart so we’d start the New Year ready.
But, as life would have it, I got sidetracked all day and used up all of my available brain space on other tasks. Then, by the time we were ready to get around to it, I didn’t have the energy or mental capacity to do it anymore.
So, when I woke up on New Years Day without having done any reflecting or planning or anything towards moving ahead, I started to get really bummed at myself for “being behind” already when the new year just started (New Year, Same Old Me, indeed)
But then it occurred to me that the whole calendar thing is just a man made invention and it really didn’t matter to me exactly what day these things happened on~ as long as they actually happened.
So, when a few days later I found myself feeling rather ill and needing to be in bed, which as I indicated, happens to be a perfect place for contemplating. And, when I found myself bored in between shivers and pains and bouts of nausea, that’s exactly what I did.
I started looking back and contemplating.
2018 was honestly a really hard year for a lot of people around me. We had some of the worst wildfires in the history of California and my area of the state quite frankly got its arse kicked.
I would have thought a person might meet one family who’s had their house burn down in the course of a lifetime, but within a few days, at least 9 families we know personally lost their homes due to fire. There were also thousands we don’t know left homeless.
Then more fires came, bringing even more devastation and loss.
While my family and home were safe, and I’m grateful for that, it was a lot of tragedy to take in.
Aside from Mother Nature’s fury, there were also some very unpleasant political situations and a rather terrifying health crisis in a close family member.
But the big thing I noticed, was that as awful and sucky as all that was, still, 2018 was overall a pretty great year for me.
There were lots of trips and adventures, growth in personal and professional endeavors and milestones for the offspring.
By far, the strangest thing that has happened to me, not just in the last year, but since I began the parenting journey 21 years ago happened this year in that ALL of the kids we had living at home spread their wings and flew out into the world.
Within a few months, we went from 3 kids living here to none.
And with that, in the blink of an eye, I said goodbye to momming on the daily.
What world even is this?
My in and out everyday role for the last 21 years suddenly shifted to a super part-time, telecommuting consultant gig on an as needed basis.
The full-sized humans that I raised and love to offer helpful advice to aren’t here to try to pretend they don’t hear it.
It’s the kind of thing that requires waaaay more than I can say sum up this moment, but obviously, it’s a game changer.
For now, I’ll just say that it’s quiet, and there’s so much food and did I mention that it’s really, really weird?
But it’s also wonderful and really feels expansive. And I’m really freaking proud.
To be honest, we’ve actually had various assortments of our offspring and their friends visiting and staying for a good deal of the time since everyone flew the coop, so it hasn’t exactly been empty full time, but it has given me and my SweetHeart a lot more space and time to think.
The day after my sick in bed day, my SweetHeart was home. It was raining and cold and I was on the mend, but still recovering. It was also a new moon and we decided that all of those things were good reasons for an all-day lounge fest.
We stayed in PJs, gathered the biggest pile of fuzzy blankets (which are still everywhere from kids being home for the holidays) on the couch and made a cozy fire with the help of Netflix. We made tea and lit candles and dreamed and schemed all day.
We shared our reflections of 2018~ wins and losses, what worked, what didn’t and lessons learned.
Over the course of the day, between reading and writing and random things online, we talked about what we want more of and less of in life, what we want to take forward into the New Year and what we want to leave behind.
We both scribbled lists in various notebooks and discussed possibilities. We bounced around ideas and options for where we each might want to go in life.
Such big-picture scheming is the kind of thing I’ve always done by myself or sometimes with my kids, but usually based on a specific thing like a trip or adventure or an area of education, rather than all-out life.
Doing this type of widespread overview of curating the future with my partner felt really grounding and supportive.
Despite the fact that I’m a strong-willed woman with equally strong opinions and voice, who sometimes gets excited and has trouble remembering to take turns when speaking, it was actually a relaxing and positive day for us both.
Maybe the fact that I was recovering from a near vomiting illness, not really drinking coffee and moving a good deal more slowly than usual helped?
Either way, we both shared our thoughts and hopes and encouraged each other as friends and partners. No, we don’t have our whole year or even this whole month all lined out, but we have shared goals together and individuals goals that we shared.
Most of all, we ended the day feeling positive and pointed in the same direction.
And that’s what a partnership is all about.
If you’ve got someone that you’re going through life or even just a certain project with, it just makes good sense to spend some time reflecting, dreaming and scheming together.
As for us, we’re in a whole new season where parenting isn’t on the forefront of our every day, and that’s an exciting time to plan.
In respect of the rhythm of winter and sanity, I’m not plowing full speed ahead but will be taking baby steps and doing research. Some ideas need to germinate and get evaluated while new questions arise and we find answers.
It may not have the pizzazz of a big shiny resolution, but I think that using the season to plan and map out will increase the likelihood that we’ll actually find the paths to where we want to be.
Warmly saying my goodbyes to 2018 and enthusiastically welcoming in 2019 with my cozy yoga pants and an assortment of journals and colored pens ~ that feels exactly like where I need to be right now.
How about you? How do you like to dream and scheme for the New Year?
Please share in the comments below, and if you enjoyed this post, please share it with a friend!
Happy New Year!
Friday afternoon found me in a huge funk~ you might even call it a state of despair.
I tried sitting in the sun and watching my chickens and dogs and eventually resorted to stuffing Almond Roca in my face. But I still felt dismal in a way I couldn’t quite find the words for.
So, I looked up antonyms to “hopeful” because the opposite of hope was pretty much what I was feeling.
A good many of the 270 words I found, courtesy of Power Thesaurus, were really good matches to my mood. But, reading them wasn’t helping improve it at all.
The reason I was feeling so bleak?
Because no one seems to care.
If they do care, it’s not enough to actually do anything about it.
When I was young and learning about atrocities throughout history, I would always wonder how things like that could happen. I mean, how could NO ONE say anything? How could everyone just seem to go along with things that we all look back on in horror?
I never could figure it out, so I just chalked it up to some old fashioned hesitance to question authority or something. But it still bothered and baffled me.
Well, in the last couple of years, I feel like I’m seeing how exactly a society can become that way.
When people who do participate get so caught up in taking sides and attacking their perceived enemy but never stopping to hold their own side accountable, they start letting things slide.
Things that they know are wrong, but they’re too busy being defensive to look in the mirror and tell their people to get their act together and quit acting like idiots.
Watching all the mud slinging leaves a lot of people disenchanted and cynical with the whole thing.
And, maybe because they’re busy trying to figure out their own lives, they don’t have the energy to participate in what feels like a stupid and pointless fight?
I’m guessing, because I’m a voter and I’ve always been a voter.
I may not believe in the whole thing in the way I once did, and I’m certainly disenchanted, but it’s the best and only shot we have to use our voice and have a say in the future of the part of the world we live in.
Politics are ugly, but they affect us all. And really, the reason they’re so ugly is because we’re letting them be.
We’re gobbling up all the divisive and angry rhetoric we can eat.
We’re allowing our leaders to act in ways that most of us would reprimand our children for when we should be holding them accountable~ ESPECIALLY if we voted for them.
A vote or a party affiliation shouldn’t be a free pass for a lifetime of unquestioning loyalty.
People in leadership positions should be representing us in ways we respect, and if they’re not, we should be calling them out, not blindly going along because they’re on our team.
That just leaves us with a couple of awful teams. And how do we explain that to our kids~ especially if we’re NOT DOING ANYTHING ABOUT IT?
I love my kids more than anything, but if they were misbehaving, you know they’d be hearing about it.
And if they tried some lame line about how the other side was behaving, I might agree that it sucked, but I’d still hold them accountable for their own actions.
Why are we letting our leaders act worse than children?
Politicians aren’t our kids, but we still have a responsibility in what we allow them to do. They make rules, but we pay them a lot of money, so we get to hold them accountable. Why aren’t we doing it?
They work for us, so why are we allowing this mass of embarrassingly bad behavior? And why are we trying to defend them by deflecting to what the other side is doing?
We all need to look in the mirror and be willing to tell our own people to do better.
And if we don’t have a side and find the whole thing confusing, we should at least find the things that we do believe in and speak up.
That means voting, because just saying things on the internet doesn’t change laws.
The things you vote for won’t always win, but if you don’t even try, then there’s really no hope. It feels like just handing the future over to a bunch of greedy people who don’t care and act horribly.
We’re all appalled when we hear of places and people who don’t get to use their voices or have any choices, so why on earth wouldn’t we use the one thing we have?
So, the other day, when someone close to me, who I have a lot of respect for, and has a huge heart and big mind seemed like they were NOT going to vote in the upcoming election, I just about lost all hope in humanity altogether.
I felt discouraged and grim.
I don’t think I’m being dramatic when I say that it’s getting uglier and worse all the time.
Good people who actually have a lot in common are acting terribly to one another in the name of political affiliation.
No one is stopping and looking at their neighbor, thinking that these are all real people, most of whom have families and people they love. They’re resorting to thinking in black and white and not as one human to another.
A future like this feels ominous and foreboding at worst, and just plain depressing at best.
I'm going to try to hold out hope that we won't let that happen.
Today is the last day to register to vote in California for the midterm election, so please, please, please use your mind and your heart and your voice and VOTE.
Lord Have Mercy!!! (as my Grandma would say) Here it is, actually autumn~and I’m realizing that I’ve been absent (at least with writing and sharing online) for most of the entire summer.
If you happened to notice, have no fear~ I’m still here, and doing well. I’m missing the rhythm of regular writing, and connecting.
But as the season is shifting, and I’m feeling called back.
This summer has been full of mostly amazing and a few really awful things. I feel like I want to write to tell you about each of them, but it's so much.
So, for now, I'm mostly sharing pictures and a few words. You know I'll be back with more words later, because I have a lot of them, but for now....
The best parts of my summer have been the adventures galore~ Like Costa Rica with my kids~
I've always loved travelling with these 2 and this was a great "last trip" before they flew the coop. We were soooooo grateful to my Pop for inviting us for a family visit to paradise.
We were home for just a few days and the Boy Child launched himself into the world and headed to the Big(ger) City to chase basketball and college dreams with friends.
Then I went to Denver to attend the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market Show for work.
So much cool stuff and such a fun city! The whole thing was inspirational and I ate enough good for for 14 people. The street art scene is also fantastic!
While I was there, my hometown caught on fire, which was awful and scary and traumatizing.
The weeks of toxic smoke in the air, the loss of so many beautiful places and the feeling of communal shock were awful..
Thankfully our home was fine, but that wasn't the case for about 1000 other houses that burned.
But soon, it was time to help the Girl Child launch into her next college chapter in sunny So Cal. That Girl is gonna fly!
Then, this magical thing happened...
To celebrate life and Love, my SweetHeart and I went to London and Paris~ which was the most romantic and wonderful and amazing adventure. It was the first trip to Europe for both of us, and I'm so glad we got to go together. I LOVE adventuring with this guy!
Last, but not least, I decided to participate as a designer in Redding Fashion Week.
That was a great creative challenge filled with lots of learning and just as much seam ripping along with a few hot glue burns as I attempted to teach myself hatmaking~ which is the most fun ever! (The hatmaking, not the burns..)
In the end, I loved the collection I created, and my models ROCKED the vintage look.
So, that's been what I've been up to this summer, which may explain why I took some time off writing.
But, autumn is here and as I move into finding my new rhythm for the season, writing and connecting with my people are high up on my list of important things. I've missed it, and I'm back!
What was your summer like? Hopefully full of good things! Let me know in the comments below~ and if you're not already on my newsletter list, sign up now!
Facebook is great at a lot of things, but reliably sharing isn't one of them, and I'd like to make sure we can actually connect directly.
Until Next Time~ Lots of Love ~ Talk to you Soon!
I had big plans for this blog and this summer~ I was going to share travel posts galore, albeit some recycled from travels past, it was still going to be a theme of adventuring with your kids, and enjoying the journey.
But, I’ll have to write about those things another day, because today my mind and spirit just needs to breathe and process.
I won’t be taking too deep of literal breaths though, because the normally blue skies and fresh air of Northern California are currently brown and orange and constricting my asthmatic lungs.
I was in Denver when the fire started burning up the shoreline of the lake near my hometown~ 1200 miles away from home and my return flight was days away.
My heart hurt to hear the trees that shade the beautiful places that making living here tolerable in the summer were being blackened, but there was nothing I could do.
I was physically far from the flames~ but emotionally so near to the mess at the same time~ it was burning up the lakes and mountains where my kids grew up, where my family plays, the places we treasure and love. Our home town.
The fire grew miles every day, hot and fast and humongous. It didn’t stay in the forest, like you might think wildfires are supposed to~ It raged its way into town, crossing concrete and roads and roaring through neighborhoods and subdivisions where this kind of thing doesn’t happen.
But, it does. And it did. It came through burning and exploding and randomly picking which homes would stand and which would be ash.
We started getting word of people losing their homes~ but they weren’t just people you see on the news. These were people we knew in real life, friends, people who had taught my kid or worked with me, or sat in a women’s circle~ and they were all suddenly homeless.
Homes that my kids had played hours of games in and we shared dreams and plans in were all destroyed.
My own home wasn’t in the path of the fire, but as it grew and moved wildly, no one really seemed to know what would be burning next.
My Girl Child was home at the time, with our pets. She packed a fire box, grabbed important documents and some photos, the pet food and leashes and was ready to go if need be. Thankfully, she is a smart and logical one, but that’s still a lot of pressure for a kid.
As I was on my train to the airport, the news starting get worse~ the fire was growing and moving towards us.
I’m not normally a weepy person, but everything I was seeing made me want to break down.
The lines to get through airport security were huge, hot and crowded, and I’m glad I had the forethought to not look at news while in them. My anxiety was bad enough without seeing more of the endless images of flames and destruction.
I knew our little town had made national news when I heard other people at the airport looking at their phones and talking about the tragic fires in Northern California. I resisted the urge to grab them and shout “That’s My Home!”
My flight was delayed, and I made the mistake of looking at my own phone. Everything I saw was awful.
I didn’t cross the line into public wailing, but I did make a few random people regret asking “How are you today?” by responding with an intense teary eyed stare and saying “My hometown is on fire. Everything beautiful is burning up right now.”
By the time we got on the plane, put devices in airport mode, flew to California and landed, things seemed to be improving. Or maybe I had just had a chance to calm down.
I was still a 5 hour drive from home, but I was at least in the same state. The relief was short lived as the news started showing the fire gaining ground and moving closer to our home, and I began to see panicked messages on social media about evacuations getting too close for comfort.
I needed to be with my kid and my pets and to deal with whatever came our way and to see where we could help in the meantime.
Finally, finally, finally, I walked in my own door. It was such a relief to finally get home, to have a home.
In retrospect, I realized that some of the panicked posts on social media were misunderstandings, and while that was annoying, we were safe.
There’s an ongoing sadness as we hear more and more stories of loss, as we’re bombarded with a continual slideshow of pictures of fire, posts about fire, loss, recovery after the fire, donations for the fire, so much burning, burning, burning~ overwhelming destruction, smoke, ash.
I began to feel so weary and overwhelmed, rotating between grief and gratitude, the damage was so massive, but the support and love in the community was equally gigantic.
This rollercoaster has started to take its’ toll, and I’ve begun to feel like a bit of a wimp for being overwhelmed by fire when I’m safe, my family and my home and my pets are safe.
And so many people aren’t.
But I can feel in my bones that I need to take breaks from the intensity of this fire.
I don’t mean taking breaks from helping. Washing dirty linens and walking dogs at the evacuated pet shelter is tiring and sad and smells awful, but it is helping, and that I can do.
What I can’t do is to keep scrolling through my social media barrage of the same awful images and stories over and over to the point where I can feel my nerve endings constrict as soon as I open the apps on my phone.
So, I took a day off social media altogether and I could feel a positive difference by noon. Clearly, some ongoing boundaries are in order for my sanity.
For now, I’ve rambled long enough. There’s still work to be done.
The fires are still burning. Lots of people are getting to go back to their homes but at least 1000 families don’t have homes to go to. And other homes in nearby communities are still in the path as the fire rages on.
People are trying to get back to normal life, but it still feels a little surreal. And no matter how much we try, we all know it’s not over till it’s over.
I hope to be back to writing about cheerier things soon, but I never really know what’s going come out until I start typing.
For now, hug your people and your pets, and if you’re prone to sending out prayers or positive thoughts, the people of nor cal could sure use them. And if you need a break yourself, please take one.
Writer, Artist, Empowered Living Advocate, Wanna-be Organic Gardening Foodie, Travel Loving Life Explorer, FunSchooling Facilitator / Former Goat-Herding HeadMistress for our Mostly Happy Homeschool, Semi-Crazy Chicken Lady and Mamacita Extraordinaire to a couple of Cage Free Kids.