motivation.

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I never used to be motivated by images or by other people being active. I immediately converted that into comparison and shame. I could feel disordered thinking and negative self talk get wrapped right up into my view, as quick as my eyes can snag the image I have made it inextricably linked to “I am not good enough”.

It’s bizarre. We, as a culture, and especially as women, are often fed the idea that shame is a good motivator. That I will do the extra squat if I imagine how jeans shopping will feel.

That I will wake up early to dedicate time to a workout I hate because I need to earn that pizza I ate with my husband the night before.

It’s insidious. It’s in the names of products, and  ‘bikini boot camp’ classes, and on all our lips and brains as we imbibe in more and more fitness media everyday. Someone selling you something to give you a “beach body” or something to fix your flawed self by screaming that “it works!” instead of you “hey! You already work!”.

And, it works, for a bit. Shame can get you out there once, twice, maybe a few months or so if you are really low. But does it satisfy? Never.

Every time I have ventured into health because of shame I lose steam. Or, I reach my goal and set a new one because the old one suddenly isn’t enough, my brain still sad. I meet a weight goal and am still not enough… because I never would be, no matter how small I got, because I am doing it all as a mean of satisfying a cruel voice of shame. So no number on the scale will feel like enough.

This past year+ has been the first where self care has trumped weight loss for me. Using whole foods to heal, and the real key: allowing myself to take days off, choose a bath, choose TV with Charlie, choose rock climbing or hiking or yoga over calorie blasting cardio… choosing whatever speaks to the health of my Whole Body.

I’m still learning this. It’s really really slow and forward/backward work. But I am moving forward. Mostly in a self love drenched fashion.

It’s given me an interesting shift in how I see images. The women I follow on instagram don’t make me feel bad. I don’t compare. I am stopping any negative thoughts in their tracks or {this is important!} unfollowing when I feel that I am unhealthy viewing these people. Lately, I can scroll my feed and feel inspired by head and handstands that I have on my goals, I can see sweaty workouts and heavy weights lifted and think “yeah! get it!” because that is awesome. Regardless of their bodies, that are by and large a good 50 pounds smaller than mine! I’m slowly curbing my comparisons and instead growing my sisterhood. Seeing women not as shame vehicles or a competition that I am failing. 

It’s helping. It’s showing me more concrete ways for Me to be motivated. To see pictures and be inspired, to see them and get up and try that pose! To want to wake early because the ball is rolling and I can feel how strong momentum is. It feels so good to be in control of my thoughts more.

My thoughts love grace, love thanks, love strong women, and love to be inspired. Those are my motivations. Is what I am doing, now, making me feel better, loved, grace filled, inspired? If not, then change something. Delete something. Journal something.

And, to be clear, sometimes what I am doing is nothing. Because sometimes, doing nothing is exactly the kind of ‘better’ I need to be feeling.

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dreaming.

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Motherhood is my calling. What I wanted to be, what I dreamt about, what I played as a kid. I enjoyed college and it gave me my love of writing; but finding out I was pregnant before I graduated wasn’t heart breaking, it was exciting. The confirmation that this was what I wanted to be only grew with each month of being a mama.

In these past six years have felt more myself, known, at home, and sure than ever before. I have also, obviously, questioned everything so many times, but my main feelings since having Nolie have been of such content.

Motherhood gave me myself. A clear image of my skills, my talents, and just how deep and wide my empathy and patience really run. Being a Mama has made me more secure in being me. The deepest joy I could have ever asked for, and the biggest gift I would ever receive.

As the girls grow and my time grows I’ve written a few times about feeling adrift… what next? what happens when they’re older? And that feeling has been sailing about in my heart for the past several months.

Till fairly recently I haven’t had an answer. I’ve been trying to find myself in homeschooling. But it’s just not there. {I love homeschooling, but it’s not a passion, it’s a project and a job and a necessity for our family. Thankfully, there is zero shortage of motherhood wrapped up tight with homeschooling, and it’s working well for me.}

But I’ve found something different. Or, rather, it found me, again. Where I have found relief, answers, calm, and myself whenever the storm picks up, is Yoga. My heart is starting to dream of what this is, could be, and what I could do with this passion. But it’s all wild dreaming for now. I’m researching and spending late nights practicing and googling. Searching some more.

For now, all I’ve got is dreams. But they feel so indulgent and magic and full right now. I could burst.

(bitter)sweet 6

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She was my cozy, cozy, baby. She and I logged endless hours of rocking and nursing, cuddling and bouncing. Those first two years she rarely left the Ergo. As she grew it was obvious what an incredible gift she was. She played, she imagined, babbled, and chatted. She included whoever was near her, her arms outstretched to the world to know everything there was and to welcome it in.

As she grew up her hands just reached out further. Knowledge, curiosity, questions, and ability grow, grow, growing. Her words and vocabulary sky high, her gentleness and love unending, and her ability to include her sister, enjoy her deeply, and play without ceasing… was beyond anything I ever knew.

At around 4.5 she weaned, but her snuggling never left. She cuddled and chose to start sleeping in our bed around that time. She found connection wherever possible and whenever needed. She has always known her needs, asked for them to be met, and generously met others without hesitation.

Nolie is magic.

Knowing her is a gift, my closest friends will all agree. She’s different.

At five she was textbook exuberance! Newfound kid-hood was exploding and with it was so much joy. New experiences. New confidence. And it was all so beautiful and exciting. I rejoiced with her as she found her footing in dance classes, and drop off playdates. As she sounded out words and and wrote first poems. Her songs unending as life opera spilled from her lips whenever she began to imagine deeply. She and her sister grew from siblings to best friends. Paramount to each others’ play, worlds, and imaginary worlds alike. She grew up, a little.

And now six. It’s all still there. The light behind her eyes, the hands outstretched, the unapologetic curiosity, quick grin and the brain that never stops. But there are new shadows. She’s aging, she’s on the cusp, she’s emotional, and deep. Her feelings growing more complex by the day. Her need for me changing. Her world exploding as she sees that there are doors, and experiences, worlds outside of her own. How she needs me is deepening in many ways but becoming lighter and lighter in the most tangible ways. I don’t often carry  her. I don’t often buckle her in. I don’t always make her food. I don’t hold her to sleep often. I don’t get up with her. I don’t nurse her. I don’t give my body to her.

I give my head. Her questions still run the gamut of “why is air invisible?” but now also are more …thoughtful “why do some kids not like me?” or “why are adults mean to kids sometimes?” “are there homeless babies?” “how can we give away more?”…. it’s changing.

She’s emerging. She might be an introvert? Craving time alone, all alone, to just stare into space “and day dream” and recharge. She is asserting herself. She’s choosing her friends, activities, everything with strength. When kids say “let’s not tell our Moms” she easily turns it around and suggests a new game. She’s so incredibly strong in heart. Her bravery deepening and her compass always pointing true North.

I read this post on Humans of New York today… and it summed up everything that’s been hitting me so hard. “…there is an unexpected sadness to getting your life back. Like you’re getting laid of slowly from an equally grueling but joy filled job…”

I often find myself with an hour here and there, where I am untouched and unneeded. Hours where the only sound is two little voices narrating amazing play. And I should use it, feel freedom, all the rest… but I feel sadness. Deep, deep, mourning for the years that are past.

Oh Noele Grace, you made me a Mama, you took my heart and cracked it wide open for me to learn to love and embrace. You did it all. You saved my life. I would live your baby years over again and again and again till my arms couldn’t carry you. You’ve been nothing but a gift my girl. And I am excited, but slow embracing, this new you. 6 is so little. So, so little. And so big. Slow down, my baby. Slow down.

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schoolie.

When Nolie was about 2.5 she started talking about “Porcupine School”. It was a fictional school where she learned about… everything! Adventurous field trips, explorations, and vacations to Seattle were all mentioned. Writing, reading, and story telling were heavily relied upon, and art was unending. It was all in her pretend world, but each of us slowly got pulled in.

She’d request an “art history day!” and then Porcupine School would come to life on my table top, with me… as a Teacher.

I am not a teacher.

I am a mother. A reader. A thinker. A life long learner. But… a teacher?

We sat at the table, hands on butcher block, turning page and pulling brush strokes. Reading aloud about Rembrandt and the Mona Lisa. Her giant eyes wide and absorbing. Her work slow and thoughtful. And her observations, nothing short of genius. I sat there. Teaching?

I feel strongly that play is learning. That the outdoors are our teachers. That birth to age five is that ripe sponge time for me to facilitate play and environments free of “educational TV” or screens, or junky food, or punky kids and instead keep her in museums, and play spaces, and outside in the fresh air, in collecting on nature walks, making worm homes, hugging freely and often, dancing to ballets and learning about the Four Seasons (Spring is her favorite Vivaldi). And, for the most part, I’ve done alright. She’s mind blowing, inquisitive, “advanced”, and just about the most wonderful little person I could ever fathom walking the earth (okay, maaaybe I’m a bit biased).

But now we are here. The end of her preschool career ticking away quickly. Her age and “readiness” for kindy meaning we are getting paperwork from public school arriving at our door, I’m scheduling tours with the two closest elementary schools, and she’s asking where her desk will be. . . and I am seeing the reality knocking, hard. 30 hours a week. That’s the kindergarten load. That is also a job. Basically a full time job… for a five year old? Nope.

I can’t get behind those hours. I cannot fathom she or I being ready to be apart from each other for 6+ hours a day, I cannot see her ready to leave us or her sister for that duration. When we talk about it she says “yeah, till nap time? then I’ll come home. What would you do during nap time without me?” and “but if I feel sad they’ll call? I’ll just come home. I might feel ready to come home.”  and then she usually ends with “maybe just a half day. Maybe just as long as preschool?” (that’s a whoppping 6 hours a week, btw). So despite the information in my inbox piling up from her local elementary school… I’m back to researching.

Homeschooling. It’s just such a huge world. A quick google and facebook search brings me endless groups/information/co-ops/everything. But what will be the right thing for us? For Nolie. For my girl?

Thankfully I have a few months. I have a lot of ideas (registering as a part-time public schooler and just pulling her out early to make the hours work for us?) and a lot of feelers out there for different ideas. Nolie is school hungry, and I don’t want to and never will deny her that experience in some capacity.

But now the hunt is on… to find her a(nother?) teacher. And to gain some new understanding and confidence in my own skills. And, probably time for me to get myself to some school of my own. . . Thank God for this girl who is just learning and exploding in her abilities each day. Seems porcupine school has been ongoing, whether I’ve been in attendance or not. 10456815_10101235612559580_4923051585297061023_n

clinging to the door frame.

Evers birth was fast and beautiful. My body opened wide and she slid out scowly and cuddly and the joy filled exclamation mark of our family. With her birth the door swung wide. Wide to body acceptance, birth culture, mother of multiple children, and the onset of her sister being a full fledged preschooler who was ready for learning/growing/changing/pushing/everything, our world bubble burst with Evers arrival.

Her babyhood has been long, and a blink. At 2.5 Nolie became a sister (and aged enormously overnight) and a role model. She slowed her nursing, potty learned,  night weaned, began to to most things for herself, and self identified as a “big kid”. And we were all ecstatic at her every  new stage, because there was a still a baby nursing around the clock, forever in our ergo, always toddling about.  Ever has done similar, at 2(.75 wah!) she is strong and independent, plays on her own, dresses herself and chooses her own outfits, decides what she wants to eat and when, climbs and jumps and swings a “a big tid fwing!” at the park. She is slowing her nursing during the day, playing with other kids and has been independent with the bathroom for over a year now. But… she still says “I not a big tid. I a little girl. Mamas little girl.”

I think she and I are both feeling that door of babyhood closing. And we are both holding tighter to the frames and savoring each last little milestone. She adores being the baby. She will always be my baby. But with her third birthday looming, her independence exploding, and her ability level blowing us both away. . . it’s becoming clearer and clearer that the door that flung wide at birth is closing and we are standing in the fresh air all looking around thinking. Dazzled. Sun drunk. What comes next?

This little girl, this little family, this “Ever Harbor Joy!” is growing up. And the adventures just beyond this step feel limitless. This Noele Grace, role model, Sister, is on the cusp of reading and writing, expressing huge and deep emotions and ready for all the one-on-one I can manage.On the edge of journaling, schooling, and is forever asking questionsquestionsquestions, and daily stumping me and leading me to old books, and new articles, and youtube videos of weather and dance moves and science experiments.

I’m not quite ready to step into the bright sun. And thankfully here on the threshold my baby stays in my arms. Nursing. Eyes bright and icy as always. The end is close, the steps are hovering, and the new chapter waiting. But we’re pausing a moment longer, and it’s beautiful and full, the wait is worth it. And the heaviness of the door is acute today. IMG_2924

Bright, 2015

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{Every New Years we burn our Christmas Tree and make our new year wishes. This year it burned high and bright and quick.}

It has taken me a solid week to really be *in* the new year. I just put the last of the Christmas decorations and new years sparkles away. And I am closing in on a week of no Facebook (today!), and day four of my Whole30 (I’ll be sharing more about that soon!). I am one an odd duck. I am a slow mover, slow processor, and talk talk talk it out person… till I am not. And then I just leap. For example, I hemmed and hawed over a Facebook break for months and month (how ridiculous) and then I just pulled the trigger and full on ‘deactivated’ on January 1.

I will be, embarrassingly, honest. The first four days were really hard for me. I couldn’t really even be on my desk top because the urge to just “check” was too strong. I started to feel really weird and paranoid, I can hardly explain it. But I started to feel like my friends were happy I was “gone” and were talking about me (but, I mean, who cares if they are? were? The ones who matter have my phone number and have been texting me their amazing and hard and hilarious life updates… you know, like friends!). It was weird. And almost paralyzing to not “know” what was going on in the Facebook world. But after those four days it started to feel amazing. My brain feels calmer, less hectic (could be the sugar detox I’m on thanks to the Whole30 too), and I don’t feel so frustrated all the time. See, I have this awful habit of reading stuff on Facebook that makes me feel awful (parenting debates that just eat me up, heartbreaking articles, or obnoxious posts that rile me up) and then I would stew on it all.day.long. It was so pointless! It didn’t do anything but feed some heartbreak in me, and cause me to be a big downer to my kids. Such a worthless thing to spend my time on. Now that I’ve cut that out I am shocked at how much less annoyed and frustrated I feel! I smile more (and, I smiled a lot before! So it’s kinda crazy.) and feel like I can listen better (to my kids, to Charlie, and myself too!) . I had forgotten how GOOD it is to feel bored. To have your brain wander, quietly, and think of beautiful things  to create, or words to write, or songs to sing, or just about how the trees look all empty of leaves and full of spring promise (it’s coming early here! 45 and bright today!). I actually picked up a pen and wrote on paper till my hand cramped! I am not sure how or in what capacity I’ll rejoin Facebook come February, but this break is already proving fruitful and it’s only been seven days.

Some of the stuff I am doing/thinking about lately:

Wanting to run a Sweater Drive in February in honor of Mr.Rogers! But I need to find a place that needs some cozy sweaters.

Writing! What do I want to do with this blog? with my heart for writing? and with my need to grow my skills. . . .

Playing. How to play? Why does it seem like it’s hard for so many new parents? And how to help parents learn to really just play.

More on the stuff my book dreams are made of. How to have a deeply respectful and loving marriage while still attachment/unconditional parenting young children.

What life will look like this time next year, what decisions we will make regarding schooling for Nolie and how I can fulfill all these rolls and meet her needs best.

Buying heavier plates for our weight lifting, because I am out growing the ones we have (BA!BAM!)

Signing up for another half marathon and getting on that Training Fun again!

How to parent Ever through what seems to be her most tumultuous life phase to date (oh the fits, guys, they’re big!) and come out the other end with more love, closeness, and emotional maturity for us both!

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I’m pretty excited to see what my brain and body do with this next week of whole eating and Facebook free living. I feel like I’m on the edge of something, something big and bright and light. 2014 was amazing and weighty with decisions and intense growth. This year feels Bright and Joy filled already. 2015, lets grow!

Stepping Back.

10429209_10101122013722560_2169916304490994767_nI’ve been feeling the bug to write again. And with that I’ve been reveling in my growing up kids. You know, the times where they play on their own for hours or are immersed, with me, in art that fills us three mutually. It’s… amazing. And with it, the motivation and the glimmers of space, has come the desire to tend that fire more thoughtfully for a bit.

I’m going to be stepping away from my personal Facebook (that I am wholly addicted to) for January. Because it feels… weird. I’ve always loved and appreciated ‘Facebook groups’ (and, trust me, I know how heartily embarrassing it is to be writing a post about Facebook, but… here I am. Shame and all.) and have found a lot of closeness/friends/camraderie/answers/support in them. But, lately, I’m getting onto that ‘dark side’ of it. Knowing about groups created just to mock other groups, knowing about elite groups I can’t be in, being in groups where the words turn vicious and scary, and how overwhelming our own big group can be some days. All of that. All of the weirdness of the internet. And, it’s always been there, but I have always been able to bump over those parts to see the friendship and connection (I’ve been able to find) in the other groups I love.

I think maybe it is related to feeling empowered to write again. Whenever that happens there is some vulnerability and, admittedly, more hyper-sensitivity tied to that. So the stuff that usually rolls off my back as “uhg, whelp, thats Facebook for ya!” is sitting in my heart for longer… and longer… and just sad feeling.

So, consequently, I am attempting to make a healthier choice and click that little red (circle) X for a month and see how I feel.

Just a ramble. . . but, on  my heart. Anyone else ever do a media reset in January? I feel like it could be a good tradition for me. My nose has been in my phone way more than in a book lately, and that needs to change.

My ‘un-homemade’ holiday.

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This is a bustling season in our home, more bustling this year than ever before. The local Giving Tree I help head up is endeavoring to care for 250 kids this Holiday season, the girls are busting at the seams for all things Christmas (light displays, shopping, baby Jesus arranging, and caroling all day long, cold weather hiking, Light Parades, alluvit), and I’m in the deep spot of dark days and hard decisions (just family stuff, nothing terrible, just big heart stuff) and bright spots and falling deep for our growing-up family.

Consequently, our typical M.O. of all homemade has been replaced. The girls each asked for one thing “a makeup set” and “a baby set” (one guess who asked for what one?). Neither is really makeable, and both are cheap (or, at least, the way I am doing it is, sorry girls.)

I was feeling bad about it. Feeling down about how little we spend on our kids for the Holidays. Feeling bummed I didn’t hot glue that whatever or sew that whose-it-whats-it, or bake enough cookies for the neighborhood/teachers/friends/everyoneintown. But then I dropped that.

I dropped advent. Because it’s only good and working (and filled with that deep anticipation of The Day that I want to convey), if it’s fun and exciting and not filled with money sucks and stress about “OMG WE HAVE TO GET TO THE DONUT PLACE TO SING BECAUSE IT IS SING AT THE DONUT PLACE DAY!”

So, instead, I dropped it all.

We have a few homemade gifts, a few bought gifts, and a lot of “I love you. Lets just buy each other something in February.” between Charlie and I. And guess what? My store-bought (goodwill!) stockings are mismatched and wonky, and just fine. My cookies made from a mix? taste great. And my second hand ballet slipper purchases are going to blow the girls out of the water on Christmas morning.

Today I’m drinking cinnamon coffee, contemplating healthy choices in body and heart, and feeling good about getting on track. It is merry and bright indeed.

Also, we had our first family game night. And it was amazing. Ever totally “got it” and shocked us all with her Go-Fish prowess!

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limbo

Ever is in that in-between age, not quite preschool/kid and decidedly (by her) not baby. It’s a tough spot that is amazing, new, beautiful, challenging, loud, hilarious, and feels long and short all at once. Her eyes are quick and bright and the wheels behind them are forever turning. Her hair is wild and her smile is quick. She’s the fire of our family; one moment we’re all cuddling in close to get as much of her warmth as possible and the next we are all looking at each other wondering how to tame this wild and huge flame that we can’t quite contain. I adore her, and this age, but partially because I know it will pass and I’ll miss all the “isms” that we get from her right now. That baby words/real words, jumping without leaving the ground, and flying high with Charlie tossing her is as real as flying ever was for any fairy or sprite. She’s living Magic.

Nolie is five. FIVE. “My friends haven’t met five year old Nolie! I’m so new!” The bigness of this birthday and her age hasn’t been lost on this soul. She’s proclaiming all the ways she’s grown, all the new decisions she is going to make, and all the excitement of being “school aged”. It’s been much too fast for my liking and if possible I’d like to live in this age with her forever. Full of innocence and brilliance all riled up into one always moving, ever singing, effervescent moment.

Charlie is hard at work. He just came off of our vacation time (the beach! and Thanksgiving) and is working hard to get everything turning at the Church (it’s kinda a busy season there 😉 ) and has some late nights ahead of him. Thankfully that doesn’t detract from his energy at home. Bunk beds being made, doll houses popping up everywhere, endless books being read, and so much jumping and mattress fort making.

I’m in the middle of Holiday Happiness. With seemingly every friend ever announcing pregnancies I am feeling good to rub their bellies and keep sitting on my own decision making for a season longer. The Christmas lights are twinkly, the tinsel is in abundance, and all the cookies are coming out of the oven.

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3?

Scooping handfuls of hot water onto my face, again and again, baths are where I process. Scooping moments of blur, no thought, calm, hot water.

I am great at decision making in our home. Dinner; Bam! I’ll decide after one quick look in the fridge. Paint? It has never taken me more than five minutes to pick a wall color. I don’t vacillate, I know what I want my end result to be and look like, and choosing the color just makes me feel more sure. I don’t really paint “test” areas, I just paint walls.

In parenthood it’s felt about the same. Being a gentle/attached parent has been a no brainer that has been affirmed time and time again from counseling, my (really fabulous) parents, the results in our kids, science (again and again disproving stuff that has always “felt wrong” to me), and following the gut pull. It hasn’t been a huge choice.

But… family size? I’m struggling.

The pro and con list feels endless. The pragmatic and smart choices feel somewhat obvious, the heart ones feel… much less. I don’t have any of the “tell tale” signs of not being done. I don’t look around and see a lack in our family at all. I feel full and overfull in love with these girls. I love their differences and the sibling relationship they share is a magic one that is untouchable. There isn’t the “someone missing at the table” feeling. But. . .

a baby.

And in my heart, and my endless tears at all babies, births, pregnant women, bands of three siblings cuddled up, I feel it. My hope for them as adults, having close siblings to share their growing up experience with. To have someone to fall back on in hard times, heartache, and once we are old and grey and they need support. Then it feels all muddy again.

Being done. Moving only forward. Toward time away at a couple. Toward sleeping at night. Toward body autonomy and weaning. Toward school, soccer practices. . . so appealing. But, a whole other person. Another little soul in our family to be loved and love. Another body full of spunk, heart, lessons, and camaraderie. . . that feels worth waiting a few more years to move forward. Maybe?

Charlie is in the same back and forth boat as me. Each day more prayers, more conversations, and more thankfulness for the girls we have. We are adoring the phases they are in, and so blown away by their love and change every day. Adding to that feels so big and amazing, and scary and possibly wrong.

The girls however? beg for a sibling each and every day. It’s darling. And, as much as I adore them and take their words to heart. I won’t have a baby for my children, I’ll only have a baby if I feel capable of loving, lovingly parenting, and caring for that baby (if I don’t, we’ll get them a dog instead 😉 ).

 

Anyhow. Thats part of my radio silence. We are living life big and full lately. Adventures, rain walks, leaf collecting, hiking new trails, reading endless books, dressing up and cozying in. Celebrating holidays in all the biggest ways we can. And just. . . going! And, thinking. Taking long baths, praying longer prayers, and waiting patiently for some clarity.

Sorry for all the hazy muddy ramblings. I think I need another bath. I’m sure I’ll be back with some DIY projects (we’ve been doing a lot!), a new hair style, or some weird kiddo quotes. But, for now, we’re thinking a lot and living even more.

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