They Even Have a Sandbox

So today was a pretty exciting day for the Noodle (my nick name for my three-and-a-half year old son) and I. He had been looking forward to this day for months, in a way that surprised me – I didn’t know a kid that age could track time this way. Today was kindergarten orientation. He caught a glimpse of the excitement waiting for him in September, and I caught a glimpse of just how many boxes of tissue it was going to take to get through the first day of school.

They Even Have a Sandbox

The kindergarten classroom was everything I wanted it to be: clean, bright, filled with natural materials, lots of hands-on play opportunities, a solid house corner, water table, and as Noodle breathlessly declared “They even have a sandbox!”. To him, it was a little dude paradise. The teachers seemed lovely, and switched on to the importance of things like one-on-one attention, affection, and outdoor play time. Noodle even had a pair of his buddies from daycare to bond with. The highlight however was the practice bus ride. Oh my heart.

Watching how his big head and little body bounced and lurched on the bus made me realize just how little an almost-four-year-old still is. Sure, he’ll be on that bus with his ten and nearly thirteen-year-old sisters. Sure he’s beyond thrilled about the whole thing. Still, I saw The Sweet Hereafter, well before I had kids, and the idea of a little body on a huge school bus simply makes me want to barf. I kept my cool though. I know it’s dumb to download those illogical anxieties on your kids. The world’s his oyster, and I want him to feel that way just as long as he can.

But here’s thing…No matter how vast the universe of possibility and opportunity I want for him, it aches deep down into my very atoms (another Sweet Hereafter reference?) when I think of him growing up. Obviously I want him to grow and thrive, but there’s always going to be a part of me that wants to keep him as close as I can. Like, on a cellular level. I guess that’s what you get for growing a person in your body. Though hell, I get those pangs for my non-bio daughters too, and I didn’t even get to meet them until they were three and five.

Watching my twelve-year-old’s sharp angles slowly morph into softer curves is the sweetest form of heartbreak. I know she’s going to blow minds and take names, but I also know that the sweet little bubble we have built up around our tadpoles, with spit and love and tenacity won’t hold forever. Eventually it will burst because the world is just like that. It’s a bubble bursting, bubble blowing party.

And as long as they aren’t dating, playing injury-causing team sports, blowing auditions, taking school buses, having adventures without us, basically, we get to keep that bubble in tact. Kind of. Not really. Sigh.

The greater your love, the greater your fear of loss. The greater your loss, the greater your fear of love. I can’t shut it down, no matter which end I tackle. I feel the magnitude of my fear just as deeply as I’m filled with the depth of all this love in my heart.

So, I’ll keep my shit together on that first day of school until he’s safely inside his classroom. (Because I’m driving him there on the first day. The bus will have to wait until day two, damn it) Then, after I get into my mom-mobile I will shed those tears and say goodbye to the sweet stickiness of the toddler years. Goodbye to our carefree Fridays off, playing zoo and enjoying day trips together. It won’t be as bad as the first day of daycare. I know this, because leaving him sobbing in the arms of a stranger was the worst parenting experience I’ve had thus far. He’s excited about Kindergarten (or JK/SK as he calls it) in a way that he never was about daycare. Maybe he had a premonition of all of the colds he would be destined to bring home from such an unsophisticated place. Or, maybe even he knows he’s growing up and hitting the big leagues. Even he knows this is a great big deal in the department of milestones.

Thrive on little man. Play with all of the plastic animals. Sift your pudgy fingers through all the sand. Make all the macaroni art. I’ll spare you my tears, just know that I want you to drink up every moment that JK/SK lays at your feet. And please, for the love of God, be careful.

 

 

Tasting My Own Medicine

You know how I’m always saying how important our passions are, and how we all deserve to make more time for them in our lives? Well, I’ve kind of been a jerk about this in my own world. It’s a kind of ‘do as I say’ situation around here right now, but I think I may have had a break through this weekend in tasting my own medicine.
Tasting My Own Medicine PIN

On Friday I packed up my computer, my huge printed copy of my manuscript, and very little else and drove about four hours north of where I live for my first ever writing retreat experience. It was a a small gathering of totally inspiring, encouraging super women and I felt so very lucky that this opportunity kind of fell in my lap.

You’ll notice I haven’t written much lately. I did that thing again, where I decide that money-earning work is more important than soul-satisfying work, and while sometimes they are the same, the two don’t always co-exist. My writing found its way onto the chopping block again. No blog posts. No novel revisions.

At this retreat, I had a LOT of silent time to work on my revisions, and I ate it all up. I skipped out on swimming in the lake despite the gorgeous weather. I only indulged in one short walk. If you tried to find me, I would nearly always be on the screened porch, overlooking the water and the trees, typing FURIOUSLY. It just didn’t feel like enough time.

We broke the day up with delicious meals we prepared for each other and with thoughtful and beautifully facilitated writing workshops. These were amazing, but I found there was an angry beast inside me that just wanted to keep pounding away at the novel, so painfully aware that there was a real risk it would start collecting dust again as soon as I made it back to the city. I felt guilty, because I wasn’t totally present for the other stuff, even though it was important, and fun. I was a bit singular in my focus and I fear that I came off disinterested and detached. Maybe the other stuff helped feed the monster inside me who just couldn’t stop writing? The beautiful little sign beside my bed let me know every night that ‘there is no wrong way to do this’.

Never mind that guilt business. I don’t want that feeling to be my takeaway, not when there were so many other feels: inspiration, admiration, love, peace, purpose, excitement, wonder, fear. My goal was accomplished. I got to revise about nine chapters, which feels good. I also created two new scenes. And, most importantly, I woke up an hour early this morning to keep the momentum going. I need to write. Every day. Or else all of the other ducks in my life start to quack out of their rows. Or else I’m not living the life I want myself to live.

Beyond the still silence of the lake, the chilling morning call of the loons and the musky/damp riches of the trees, one of the stand out impressions from my weekend were the forget-me-nots. Their cheery little periwinkle heads popped up everywhere, lining every path, arranged with little fern fronds for dinner table decor. It was a constant reminder to myself of how important this kind of space is.

Here’s a little sample of my workshop writing. It’s not from my novel, just a little poetry exercise. It’s rough, but I wanted to share a little bit from the weekend.

 

I wanted love.

I got more than I could ever imagine.

I wanted a family.

I found one ready-made, and made just for me.

I wanted to experience the heights and depths of life.

Then I looked at death as many times as it takes

to touch the finger tips on both of my hands.

 

I wanted to create life.

First I created worlds,

then I created an institution.

Now I’m creating a tiny legacy with words.

 

I wanted a child,

And three humbling wonders reached

for my unworthy hands with sticky digits

They showed me that I knew exactly nothing about myself.

 

Now all I want is to deserve it all.

To show up for it over and over again.

Open, unafraid of my newly discovered softness,

Yielding to the splendor of just simply being here

With my heart in my sometimes steady hands.

Sometimes Bad Things Are Good

Exactly one week ago, I thought my world had collapsed. I made a discovery that blew the roof off the mausoleum where I thought I had laid my trust issues to rest. There they were, alive and well, dancing before me and taunting me with the prospect that I would never be good enough to land the kind of life that I dream of. The secure, happy kind where home is the safest place you can know. It was a shitty way to start the week, but sometimes bad things are good.

Sometimes Bad Things Are GoodPIN

Now, I’m looking out at my garden and the sun is shining on a perfect spring day. Fresh air and breathing space have changed my perspective enough to realize that I don’t have to run for the hills. I can stay in this and see how it plays out. I’ve never really been good at that sticking around stuff. It’s amazing what having kids will do. And therapy. We can’t forget to respect those years of therapy.

Even the people you choose to honor with your trust make mistakes. It’s inevitable that these mistakes will hurt you the most, and sometimes these mistakes feel pretty fucking personal. This doesn’t mean your people don’t love you, or can’t love you the way you need to be loved. In my case, I’m not sure what it means yet. What I did realize, drifting through this latest storm, was that I just had to make sure I was safe. I can’t control other people, but I can control me. I can make myself secure. Nobody else should be tasked with that. That’s just asking for trouble.

Even the people you choose to honor with your trust make mistakes. Click To Tweet

So now, mama needs to get paid. My time has to be spent making money, first and foremost. It’s no coincidence that all of this personal stuff happened at a “what am I doing with my life” kind of moment.  I hadn’t been blogging here because I was feeling discouraged about this blog, about my book, about writing in general. I took a lot of other stuff on, half of which wasn’t paying me any more money than my writing has (which is basically nothing). Writing can happen in the spaces left after the bills are paid. Isn’t that what writers do anyway? If I want this writer’s life bad enough, I will make it happen.

And so Universe, I’ve taken my power back. I’m open to new opportunity, especially the money-generating kind. I want to be self-sufficient and I want to earn the money I’m worth. Money is such a big, crazy energy, and I’m making all kinds of peace with it. Every time I take it for granted, or ignore it, that money energy bites me in the ass.

Don’t we all need to talk about this money stuff more? With each other? With our kids? Why is it so private? Why are we so ashamed when we ‘get it wrong’? Aren’t most of us getting it wrong, most of the time? It’s exhausting, isn’t it?

I have money shit. I’m owning it. If you have money shit, I won’t judge you. If you want to talk about it, I’m listening. Empower yourself, even if you aren’t in it alone. Learn everything you can. Get good advice. Follow it. Rely on yourself to clean up the money shit, because nobody else will do it for you.

Last week I thought I’d have to start over. This week, I’m staying and I’m taking a new and proactive approach to MY life. Sometimes bad things are good.

 

Sometimes I’m Too Scared

I know what I look like to you. Believe me, I spend time every day thinking about what I look like to you. Sometimes it’s exactly how I look to me, but most of the time, the way I appear and the way I feel are different. I’m great at wearing masks, and right now I’m too scared to keep wearing the “I know exactly what I’m doing face.” Warning: the rest of this post is pretty grim, it’s not a cry for help, I just need to do this sometimes because it’s cathartic as hell. Quit reading if you need to, I don’t mind.

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I Published a Book, and It’s Just For You

Those of you who’ve been here before know that I spend a lot of time talking about how important it is to follow you passions. What kind of a hypocrite would I be if I wasn’t following my own advice? I’ve wanted to create books since I was nine years old, and today is the very first day I can check that off the list because today the e-book is live. I published a book, it’s awesome, and I want you to read it right now. Here’s how you can help me, and help yourself at the same time.

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