I woke up this morning from a sad dream. I’ll take those over nightmares any day but they are not my favourite kind of dream. I think the absolutely absurd ones are my favourite. Do you have a favourite kind of dream? Weird question, I know!
Anyway, back to my feelings! I felt sad and discouraged. It felt like my world was weighing so heavy on me.
I couldn’t easily shake the heaviness so I got up and got ready for the day. I grabbed a coffee and headed out to my garden. I watered a few plants, checked on my seedlings and then felt frustrated.
I was frustrated because I want them to be grown and mature plants producing beauty and nourishment.
I looked at my garden and felt irritated. You see, right now it’s in the beginning stages of growth. It looks an awful lot like “dirt”. The seeds are hidden and even the young plants are pretty sparse and gangly looking.
I know what it going’s to look like in a month from now. I planted healthy flower and vegetable seeds and it’s a certainty that at least some of them will grow. I also planted some more mature seedlings and provided that I tend to them and give them what they need, my backyard is going to be full of gorgeous greenery, flowers, veggies and herbs. There are going to be butterflies and bees flying around pollinating. Dragonflies will be zipping around and the ladybugs will be everywhere.
In less than a month, I’ll be harvesting salad and adding in herbs to my food. In 2 months, it will be even more stunning. I’ll have plants that reach over 6 feet tall and some that spread wide and it’s literally going to look like a garden oasis.
I can see it in my mind. I can picture myself drinking coffee in the morning or a glass of wine in the evening while I water plants or sit and relax.
But I’m impatient and I want it now. This all ties back to my dream. There are things I’m working toward and hope for that I don’t see the full fruition of and it’s easy to get discouraged if I get stuck in the here and now.
But I can trust that if I’m planting good seeds and tending to them; that the laws of sowing and reaping are as certain as the changing seasons. Even if I don’t know exactly how long the growth process is, I can trust and believe that at the right time, it will happen.
That’s easier said than done but I will keep reminding myself of this when I feel discouraged or frustrated. And I’ll try to remember that no amount of wishing or hoping or dreaming can make things happen any faster than they are supposed to.
Plant the seeds, nurture and tend to them until you see a harvest. It will happen.
We woke up this morning expecting a thunderstorm to blow through during the day and sure enough, the sky was grey and cloudy.
We moved a lot slower in the morning than I had expected. Siah really enjoyed the spicy Jimmy Dean sausage that we had at Xani’s and we had bought some more. Jon made eggs and sausage for us, for breakfast.
Siah was pretty happy and really, it was pretty delicious.
We tidied up and headed into New Orleans and down to the French Quarter. It’s just about an hour away from Bay St. Louis.
We drove across Lake Ponchartrain and planned to come back over the Ponchartrain Causeway. It was pretty grey and definitely felt like it was gonna rain although it was holding off.
Driving into New Orleans was fun as Jon shared memories of where they lived when Pastor Charles Green brought them back from Indonesia and pointed out where the church was.
Driving down into the French Quarter was amazing. The trees hanging way out over the roads and the colourful houses with their offsetting colourful window shutters. The wrought iron balconies are gorgeous too. There is stunning graffiti art all over and it’s just a riot of color and creativity.
We found a parking spot right on Decatur Street about a block away from the Cafe Du Monde.
The boys were a little overwhelmed with the smells and sounds and the sheer number of people around; but it sounded and felt like excitement and anticipation and creativity to me. Smelled like weed and BO!
We found the line up for the sit down part of the Cafe and it wasn’t very long at all. So we queued up.
Jude is happier then he looks, I promise. It’s hard to catch a smiling picture of him. He pointed out this artist sitting on the bench beside us. Look at the saturation of color on his pages. It’s incredible.
While we waited a few light drops of rain started to fall and Jon ran back to the truck to grab an umbrella. He came back just before they seated us.
There was an incredible busker serenading the line up with his Karoke machine. He was joined by a gentleman dancing along. The dancer definitely looked down on his luck but he had the kindest smile and eyes!
We were seated in the cafe and our waiter came over to get our order.
We ordered 3 orders of Beignets, 2 Cafe au Lait and 2 Sprites. As soon as we ordered, the heavens opened up and the floods came.
The Thunderstorm that we had been expecting arrived with a bang. A lot of bangs. There was thunder and lightening and SO MUCH RAIN. It was awesome!
You can see the sheets of rain in the above video. And even though it’s pouring and storming, it’s warm. When the rain started all the people that had been in the streets and parks moved into the covered sidewalks and it got even more crowded, loud and pungent. The beignets and cafe au lait was delicious and the boys would have ordered another 3 orders if we said yes.
We stopped in a few of the stores along the way back to the truck. We had planned to walk through the Market but when we got back to our truck, the boys were done and just wanted to head back to the trailer.
Our boys do so well travelling but we must adjust our wants to accommodate their needs and that often means cutting our plans short. So we hold plans loosely so as not to be disappointed and even then, it can be frustrating and disappointing to want to see or do something and not get to but going to an emotional breaking point is not worth any “attempt” to “make a memory”.
We headed back to Bay St Louis and seeing as both boys were on the edge of meltdowns we didn’t go over the Ponchartrain Causeway as it added an extra hour to the trip. We also did not communicate that well enough and the lack of communication did trigger a meltdown. That’s hard. It’s really hard. It was just the last straw that an “already at his breaking point” kid reached!
Part of the stress was mounting internal pressure of undone schoolwork, so we found a McDonalds with wifi and the boys did some school while I shopped at Walmart for a few groceries for the trailer.
The battery in Siah’s computer died and the Walmart McDonald’s didn’t have plugs available for customers. He wasn’t quite finished so I finished shopping quickly and we headed to a different McDonald’s that did have outlets.
We headed back to the trailer and the storm had settled some.
Siah wanted to go back in the water. Jude wanted to try fishing again and I wanted to tidy the trailer and take a shower if possible.
So Siah went in the water. It was quite a bit colder than the previous day, thanks to the storm so that didn’t last long and he was actually the first to try out the shower!
Jon took Jude to a pier down the road to try and catch a fish one last time. They had no luck but it’s still fun though.
They came back to the trailer and Jon and I both made it through the shower although it’s more of a bird bath situation and less of a luxurious relaxing experience but clean hair and parts are worth it.
After showers, we made hot chocolate for the boys and I had a tea.
There are times when things feel more peaceful and normal and other times when it just feels more chaotic than anything. I really love peace and calm.
The boys chattered and played together before bed and Jon chilled and it was such a nice evening. We are up bright and early tomorrow headed to Texas to see family and friends. It gonna be another great day of travel and I’m so thankful that we had this special time to see where Jon grew up and to see first hand things, places and people that he’s talked about for years.
We have talked about doing a road trip for a while and in the last week, we managed to pull it all together and we are on the road.
We bought a trailer on Monday, packed like coked out squirrels on Tuesday and actually managed to get on the road around 5pm. We had booked a space in Birch Bay for our first night and wonder of all wonders, we managed to arrive around 7pm which is when I had guesstimated that we’d show up. We unhooked, set up and settled in for the night.
The boys were in bed and down for the count before 9pm. Which, if I’m being honest, freaked me out a little because they are both night owls
Jude drew a mushroom – which was the daily prompt. I started and gave up because I was also too tired. Jon and I read for a bit before turning the light out.
Our mattress is spectacular and by spectacular, I mean that even with 2 fluffy blankets under the fitted sheet you can still feel the springs. I’m thinking we will probably need a mattress topper of some sort. It was an experience, that’s for sure!
Jude was awake for the day at 5am. The rest of us started the day around 7:30am.
Jon made our first pot of percolator coffee and it was amazing! There was a quick game of Spot it! to start the day and then we packed up and headed into Bellingham.
We stopped at T-Mobile and grabbed new SIM cards for the month and now we are headed to Oregon.
Weight has felt like an issue to me for most of my adult life.
I don’t know if it started with a modelling agent slapping a chocolate bar out of my hand when I was 13/14 and telling me I wasn’t allowed to eat it.
I don’t know if it was hearing about how hard my mother and grandmother and great grandmother were always fighting to lose weight.
I don’t know if it was the fact that I towered over most of my friends, both male and female, in height and stature.
I don’t know if it’s the fact that at 16 (and so thin) that I outweighed my peers by at least 20 lbs.
I don’t know.
What I do know is that food and I have had a crappy relationship. I have eaten to feel better. I have eaten to avoid and escape. I have eaten to reward. I haven’t necessarily eaten to nourish myself; to show love and respect to myself.
In August of this year, I asked my Doctor for a referral to an Obesity Clinic.
He was reluctant to refer because they have “strict criteria”. When I explained that I definitely fit their expected criteria, he took me for a height and weight check because he didn’t believe me. I don’t have high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, heart problems or any of the other comorbidities of obesity. But, at 243lbs and 5’7” – my BMI was 38 and I was definitely considered obese.
If proving my need for a referral wasn’t difficult enough; there were communication issues between my Drs. Office and the Obesity Clinic and it took a month and me personally chasing down the referral for the process to actually get started.
If I’m being honest, I really don’t even know what I’m getting into other than I’m overweight and overwhelmed and I want and need something to change.
I’ve “been apart of the program” since September. It’s a process. It’s a slow process.
I had it in my mind that “something” would change. Something would be different. Something would be life changing.
And you know what, I think it is. But it’s also a process. I’ve spent probably 30+ years making decisions that have gotten me here and a few weeks won’t undo or reverse those decisions.
I have my third “group session” on Tuesday and I’m dreading it and looking forward to it. Both sessions 1 and 2 have had meaningful – to me – aspects and I’m sure this session will be the same.
Shame tells me that someone’s gonna call me out or tell me I’m doing something wrong or that I’m bad. (We’re starting the nutrition section of the core sessions; and food and I have such a complicated and complex relationship.)
Experience tells me that these people are lovely and supportive and want to help.
Fear whispers that I’m not going to be able to do this.
Courage calmly states that I can.
And so, I make little changes. I take small steps. I summon courage and make the best decisions that I can for today, for this meal, for this moment. I trust that I can learn new skills. I believe that I can make significant and impacting life changes that will benefit me now and in the future. I recognize that this is a long game.
If weight management was as simple as, just do it. Just try harder! Then I wouldn’t be here. But for me, this is more complicated than that. And while I wish I wasn’t in this position. I’m so thankful that I’m healthy and that I’m receiving help and support so I can be even healthier for longer.
I mentioned previously that I’ve had an on-again/off-again relationship with running since I was a teenager.
Over the years, I have spent way more time in the “off-again” than I ever have in the “on-again” aspect of running.
I’ve also had self esteem issues, body issues, worth issues……let’s just leave it at “I have a lot of issues and my therapist need never worry about a lack of issues to work on.“
The last time I spent any amount of time running was in 2013. We were on the tail end of the “Cancer Years” and I’d just had a miscarriage for a completely unplanned pregnancy. This happened shortly after I was diagnosed with Anxiety and started on meds. The meds I was on were not optimal for early fetal development and so I quit……cold turkey.
I was in rough shape, physically, mentally, emotionally. I was in really rough shape. In an effort to run away from my problems or maybe to run towards my feelings……I started running “again”.
It was HELL.
I had no reserves to bring with me and while the running provided me with some short term endorphins. It just couldn’t sustain it.
Fast forward to 2017…..that was a year of trauma. It felt like all of my kids had HUGE issues all at the same time and I was drowning under the weight of it all.
My only instinct was to survive. I made it through 2017 and 2018. I have a lot of clarity now about the pressures we place on ourselves and how unkind we are to ourselves. But those are posts for another day.
At the end of January of 2019 – this wasn’t a New Years Resolution– I was in rough shape. I’d been extremely sedentary. I was crazy busy but a large part of my life was sitting. I didn’t exercise and it felt like my heart was going nuts. It would race and slow down and skip beats and basically just make me feel horrible and totally paranoid.
I decided to start walking. At first, a slow walk for a short period of time destroyed me. I was so frustrated because I knew where I had been and this was not even half of what I had been capable of doing. But I was determined to get healthier; so I kept going. I tried to walk at least every other day. It was slow going but I started to see improvement.
I wasn’t as sore after I walked. I wasn’t as out of breath after I walked. My heart rate wasn’t through the roof and it was steadily lowering. I was able to walk faster and for longer distances.
One day in March, I decided to run for a moment and just like that, I felt like I was back at the end of January, just about dying from the effort of it all.
I wish I written down my thoughts from the beginning of the year until now because it’s been quite a journey. But I’d rather start now, and be able to look back in a year and be so excited at the progress.
I want to lose weight because I’m larger than what I should be for optimal health. BUT health is my goal…..not skinny. I ran for 20 mins without stopping on Tuesday. Okay! I was slow as a turtle but you try schlepping 225lbs around for 20 mins and report back.
I ran again today. I have these delusions that I’m going to be able to just break my previous distance and time easily. Uh ya…..that’s not my reality.
While I did go a little further today, a little faster……it was minuscule compared to what my goal is.
I was talking down to myself and feeling bummed out and then I said to myself.
“This is a win. You went for a run. You were a little bit faster and you went a little bit further but regardless, you did it! And that’s a huge win.”
I’m trying to be gracious with myself. I’m trying to change the way I talk to myself and about myself. I would never talk to anyone or about anyone the way that I do to myself. It’s just not cool and I’m working on loving and championing myself; because I’m worth it.
You know, I never thought that signing up for a race would make a difference BUT….having a goal makes a HUGE difference. Why would I think I was any different than anyone else? Goals are amazing and incredible to have.
Knowing that I have the race, pushes me to stay consistent with my practice. It pushes me out of my comfort zone, in an effort to achieve more. It forces me to dream and plan and hope for what I want. It requires me to be accountable not out of shame but out of determination.
When the voices of fear whisper “What if you fail?“
I respond, “There is no failure; only a beginning.“
I got a message today that someone wanted to buy dinner for us. It was totally unexpected and such a blessing.
We LOVE sushi and our “dinner angels” blessed us with sushi delivered to our door. It was extravagant and made us feel SO VERY SPECIAL!
Today I am thankful for unexpected blessings, for not having to cook dinner, for not having to clean up dinner mess, for sushi and especially for our “dinner angels”. It was such a lovely blessing and we feel so very special!
More often than not, I’m musing about how I parent and why I parent the way I do. I think about how I can connect with my kids on a deeper level. I often wonder how I can communicate in ways that are meaningful to them and that really make positive ideals and beliefs come alive in their lives.
On good days, I feel like Parenting is my “calling” and on bad days, I just want to give up, crawl into bed and play 1000 levels of Candy Crush. I’ve known since I was a teenager that I wanted to be a parent; in my naivety, I didn’t realize that life was a crapshoot and that there are no guarantees. The dreams I had for my future never included autism, ADHD, anxiety, cancer, loss, trauma, etc; but as I say to my children,
“Life is not fair; but you do get to choose how you act and react to the challenges (and gifts) that come into your life.”
In saying that life is a crapshoot, I’m not hating on my life, at all! My life is filled with beauty and wonder. Yes, I am often exhausted, but I choose to see the beauty and the wonder, and to accept the joy in the sorrow and the struggle. I believe we have seen our share of sorrow and struggle; but I also feel that to the immense depth of grief and sorrow that we allow ourselves to feel, we also get to experience the equivocal amount of joy.
“The walls we build around us to keep out sadness also keep out the joy.” Jim Rohn
This little one has had such huge struggles with anxiety. To see glimpses of him unencumbered by fear brings me SO JOY.
One thing that I think has really helped me, and it’s not limited to parenting, is to identify my goals.
My supreme goal as a parent, is to raise these children into respectful, hard working , compassionate, members of society. I want them to be confident in who they are, to know that they have a voice. It’s important to me that they know the importance of boundaries; and that they know how to set, enforce and protect their boundaries. I want them to think critically. I want them to be able to make choices, weigh the consequences; and, be willing to accept the consequences, regardless of whether they are positive or negative.
Having a clear goal, makes it easier to weigh in on what’s important, what’s unimportant and what’s detrimental. It also challenges me to ask how any particular issue applies to the goals that I’m working towards.
My parenting goals are generalized goals that give me a framework to help both me and my children. Each of my children are so unique and I’m not trying to raise carbon copy robots; but I am hoping to raise decent human beings that are courageous, respectful, compassionate, industrious, rational, creative dreamers. I don’t believe that this is too much to ask.
The practical application of this, looks different for each child, but the overall goal is the same.
So, how does this help me?
If I had to narrow it all down and choose one key word or goal, it would be respect.
If my children grow up to be respectful adults, all the supporting goals should fall in line. In my mind, being respectful of yourself, to others, to the world around you, and to those in authority over or under you, will set you up for success. I come back to the virtue of respect, daily.
I believe that one of the biggest ways that children learn is by watching and modelling.
Any parent of a 2 year old knows that you’ve got to watch what you say in front of your kids, because they will parrot back what they hear. We are our kids biggest role models and influencers. They are learning from us.
They are listening to what we say.
They are listening to HOW we say it, even more so.
They are watching how we act and react…..and not only with the world but with them.
From our interactions with them, they are learning how to interact with people who have authority and with people who are under authority.
The way I see it, if my goal is to raise respectful human beings, then I must also model respect. Not just in front of them, but to them.
The lessons they will learn from how I act and communicate with them, have a life long impact.
I don’t believe that my role in my children’s life is to force them to follow rules, or to bend or break their spirit.
I do believe that you can be respectful and communicate needs, desires, and differing opinions.
I do believe you can train and guide while showing respect.
I do believe that children are as deserving of respect as adults are.
I do believe that children need MANY opportunities to practice being respectful, with the onus on us as adults, to understand that it’s going to take years to master the skill.
I do believe that children, like adults, want to do their best in most situations. In tough situations, what we often deem as “not enough”, may be, in fact “their best” at that moment. Respecting where they are at, allows them safe space and an opportunity to be self aware and vulnerable without shame…..all these things are important for self-respect to grow.
The link above is to another post I wrote on authority and respect.
I haven’t always parented based on respect, or been clear on what my goals were. It’s taken me 20+ years of parenting to get here and I, by no means, am perfect at this “practise.” I will say that having a goal and a clear focus makes it easier to parent, especially in the “heat of the moment”.
Daily, purposeful practise of the virtue of respect allows it to become second nature for both us and our children. There is no “losing” in being respectful…….only gaining.
Respect for ourselves guides our morals, Respect for others guides our manners.
It’s been a rough go for our family over the past year……over the past decade.
I’ve come to terms with the fact that I will never “get back to who I was”. I will never “recover” in that sense of the word.
I vaguely remember last summer….not the details but the overwhelming feeling of dread, exhaustion and horror that I felt. I could hardly crawl out of bed in the mornings. Choosing to comfort myself by saying that I was teaching my children to be independent and get their own breakfast. Usually a fight would require that I get up and mediate. I was ever so thankful to have help last summer. I remember thinking that I couldn’t wait for September when things would “go back to normal” and I’d be able to accomplish something……anything.
September rolled around and everything really fell apart.
Living with the challenges of special needs is not something that affects only the children or their parents. The entire family is impacted. Some of the impact is amazing and incredible…..things like knowledge and understanding(of diverse abilities) , compassion and grace (for all). Those things that may be need to taught to people who don’t live with differences are just apart of our lives. But along with that, can also come trauma.
Listening to older sibling melting down for hours, is wearing. Witnessing the chaos that a meltdown may bring and being forced into a secondary position while a parent attempts to regulate an extremely un-regulatable situation is traumatizing. Even if it’s all you know, it wears you down.
This past school year, we spent the entire year dealing with the effects of trauma within our youngest. Within the final months of the school year we saw the pendulum shift. I started to see glimpses of joy and peace and happiness where there had been only anger and fear and control.
I have help again this summer and it’s incredible. I’ve beat myself up for needing help. Felt guilty for taking time for myself. And come around to the understanding that, I need restoration. For me to heal is critical. Just like we prepare time and space for our children to heal and grow……taking time for myself to heal and grow is also critical.
So this summer, I will sit in the sun and I will float in my pool. I will drink a glass of wine on my deck and enjoy those moments where everyone is playing nicely (because they are actually happening this summer). I will take care of myself, my husband, my family and my house. I will let go of all of those things that weigh me down (this will probably have to happen hourly because I am an expert at self doubt, guilt and overthinking) even though I will probably pick them back up, too many times.
My future feels a little uncertain because I don’t know what it looks like; but I do feel that I am healing and that I am being restored and this is a good thing……a very good thing.
This is my “before.” I want to write about “the before” because I know I will appreciate it, so much more “after”.
It’s been a tough couple of days.
It’s hard to believe that it’s only a month ago that I hit publish and sent out an invitation to my Handmade Holiday Open House.
Oh, I LOVE to create! But selling…..selling is just not my forte. Promoting, marketing, cajoling, putting myself out there……it’s hard for me.
Anxiety whispers at me incessantly. Telling me that no one cares. Whispering lies about my talents and abilities. Mocking my desire to create. Belittling my ideas.
And for the most part, I fight back. I counter the lies with truths that I don’t quite believe. I try to ignore the whispers. I choose to believe that my desire to create has a bigger purpose than what I may feel or see, in the moment.
But as this weekend approaches, it’s gets harder and harder to fight. It’s the nature of the beast. You fight so hard, for so long, to stay afloat. To not succumb to the waves of anxiety crashing over you and at some point, your strength begins to wane . It becomes harder to stand strong and those voices seem to gain strength, as you weaken.
This week has been tough. It didn’t help much that I fell down the back stairs at the kids school on Tuesday. I’m still physically sore and I belive that’s robbed me of some energy that I could have used for this mental gong show inside my head. ( On a side note, my butt’s a pretty shade of purple and blue.)
I cling to the edge of the cliff. The fingers of Darkness and Despair curl around my ankles, weighing me down. The continual rain soaks my clothing, adding to the weight; it makes it harder to hold on.
I dread the end of summer. Even as the days shorten and cool, I feel myself starting to wither…..just like my garden.
I could really use the sunshine and a beach, right about now.
It’s hard. I’m exhausted. My boys are incredibly difficult right now. We’re long beyond the October crash……this must be the November burn. Crash and Burn!
I’m sick of saying, “It’s hard. I’m exhausted.” I want desperately to connect and yet…I have nothing. I have zero energy to attempt connection. But without connection, I’m alone. So which is it…… it’s a losing battle.
Sometimes I feel that if I could explain what my life is like that you might get it…..But I’m realizing that unless you live it, you won’t fully understand it. I share bits and pieces but never the whole….it would be too much to handle. I know this because it’s too much to handle.
There is a certain amount of grieving. Grieving normalcy…..But mostly there is just soul crushing exhaustion. It’s like a cloud of nothingness with vague wisps of sadness and loneliness woven throughout.
I love my children and I hate how difficult they are.
Autism, ADHD, Anxiety…..Even though they are labels given to two of my boys, our entire family is deeply effected.
There is so much chaos. I feel like I’m constantly drowning. I manage to grab small breaths of air….never enough to breathe deeply and the waves crash consistently enough that I’m left in a constant state of panic.
There’s only so much space for panic and my two boys seem to have the corner on that market. Too often when I feel the panic rising, I stuff it back down with a shallow breath. As if I could control it….
There is so much guilt and shame and yet…..that’s one good thing about exhaustion…..somehow you can’t muster the energy to hold onto the guilt and shame. You feel it and it makes you feel dirty and worthless; but it’s too heavy to carry and there’s too much to be done….
So you drop it like most of the other balls you drop on a daily basis…..
You cling to the edge of the cliff and hope……you hope that you make it through another day. You hope that tomorrow will be better. You cling to the hope that seasons change and that this dark and gloomy season will once again give way to sunshine. You pray for wisdom, strength, and patience.
You pray for your kids to just hurry up and fall asleep so you can have a moment to breathe…..then you feel guilty….then you remember how much work there still is to do tonight and you drop the guilt as exhaustion takes over once again.