Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Mississippi Delta

It never fails - as I drive the last curved lap of the hills heading down into the Mississippi delta, my first glance of the flat, beautiful land that stretches as far as the eye can see gives my heart a big tug.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

I Write to Find My Way

Last spring, I went through some dark months.  I trudged through it, and found a happier way to be.  I started writing again, and discovered truths that, apparently for me, could only be discovered by writing, and digging deeper.  
I found some online friends that probably didn’t know how much they helped carry me through that time. I wasn’t able to talk to anyone in my real life for several reasons.  One of the reasons was that I couldn’t even identify what was wrong.  I was fighting ghosts.  These ladies helped me identify some things, and I felt a little more anchored by seeking out their writings.  (This is my first holiday season "knowing" these ladies.  In this week of gratitude, I am thankful for Lindsey, Pamela, Christa, and Christine. Thank you, thank you for your help this year.)
After a couple of months of focusing on myself, I expanded the circle to my family.  I created the Take Back My Family initiative, which, like life, morphed into something different than I expected, bringing unexpected peace, with a less tangible explanation. My initiative started with very specific guidelines, like eliminating most extra curricular activities and cleaning out our house.  
Roughly three months into Take Back My Family, and six months into my own journey, we are absolutely reaping the benefits.  It is far from perfect, as I’ve learned to accept most things are. We are happier than we have been in a long time.
I have long said that I hope no one finds all my writing when I die, because they will think I lived the most miserable life ever.  I have learned, mostly in the last couple of months, that I write more when I am not well.  Perhaps I write first to release, but secondly I write to find my way.  
I have blazed trails before, and it is hard work.  Sometimes I go through with a machete like tool and hack at the easier stuff, as a first go through.  Some trees have to be cut, and thrown aside.  Some take heavy lifting.  Some things grow back quickly and have to be taken care of for a second time.  Some have to be removed from their roots.  
When I write, especially this last year, I find things that I didn’t know were there.  It may appear to be painful writing, and undoubtedly it was excruciating at times. I have never (intentionally) shared my release writing, but have posted here much of my writing that helped me find my way.  
The past couple of months I haven’t written as much.  I have been living.  I have been very happily involved in some activities at my kids’ school.  I have been working on our house.  (ie: trying to ensure we don’t end up on Hoarders, the show I have never watched.) I have been slowing down.  I have been working on homework with the kids, and spending much time navigating their  learning disabilities.  I have been learning new ways to eat, much easier with more time at home.  I have been watching the kids build forts in our woods.  We built some fires at the fire pit this fall on Friday nights, and have already had many fires inside this fall.  I have watched my three dyslexic children develop confidence in their reading skills, and actually enjoy reading some books. I have lessened, if not eliminated, social obligations that weren’t fulfilling.  I have played many games of Uno and Mario Kart.  I have even read books that were not self help or memoirs.  Mindless murder mysteries just for fun.  And I finally had a birthday party for my daughter.... who turned six last May.  
I am enjoying my family and my life.  I am not in a rush to work on my book, or really in a rush to do anything.  When I start to breathe fast and worry that I am not doing enough, I take a deep breath.  I wanted to do more family excursions, but we are home most of the time.  We are nesting, I guess.  We are enjoying peace, and embracing change.  

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Just Write (from yesterday)

This morning, I woke up and all the kids were awake.  The little ones were working on a project for Santa.  They were using green and red duct tape to make giant letters that said, To Santa. They started this project last night and were excited to finish it this morning.  My oldest daughter was sitting close to them and chatting with them, while she was chatting on skype with a friend.  
This juxtaposition, for me, exemplifies the tween stage.  Being close to her siblings, but not working with them, while I am in bed four feet away on the other side of the wall.  Having the stability and comfort of family, while venturing out into the world.  This feels perfect to me - healthy growth and expansion, yet still close and safe and protectable by me.  
The light was shining bright and made the room feel warm and cozy.  It was the perfect kind of warm.  The kind you appreciate.  The light’s trick - making us think it was warmer outside than it really was.  
There was, unbelievably, no quarreling, no fighting, no teasing, no aggravating.  I’ve heard these are normal, but I honestly believe this stuff is worse in our house than most.  The attention deficit disorderd kids just move their bodies and mouths twice as fast and twice as loud as most.  Not today.  The little ones were working together as if world peace might be just within grasp.  
They went to get dressed and gather their things for school.  I made them toast and a smoothie and fried eggs because they were being so delightful.  
Sally said her feelings were hurt because her big brother didn’t say hi to her when he passed her at school.  He tried to make excuses, but I know how he gets caught up and likes his own life at school.  We talked about how close these two are, and how family will always be there for us, even when friends aren’t.  He said, “I’m sorry, Sally,  Next time I will say hi.” She nodded, silently communicating that that would make her feel more secure in this world.  
We sang together on the drive to school, and Chaucer helped Sally read a book.  I was so lonely when I dropped them at school.  I wanted them to stay.  I wanted it to last.  

I wrote this as part of Heather at The Extraordinary-Ordinary’s Just Write exercise. Head on over if you want to learn and read more.

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Good 'Ole Days

Children accumulate multitudes.  I intentionally and with restraint rarely buy my kids toys.  First of all, they have plenty.  They have always received many gifts from many people and are the recipients of many second hand toys of friends and relatives.  Somehow, we are still bulging at the seams. 
Then there is the paper and art work and books.  I am a book lover and have not cleaned out their books EVER.  My oldest is eleven.  Thats eleven years worth of accumulating children’s books.  I always said that we were saving them for the youngest.  I would not let them get rid of any books, even if all the pop ups were torn out, some pages ripped, bindings falling apart.  I don’t have any of my childhood favorite books, and I wanted to make sure theirs were saved.  
So, last weekend I cleaned out shelves and shelves and boxes and closets of all of our children’s books.  I threw away (horrors!) the books whose bindings were done and that were falling apart.  I saved a few of the baby/toddler favorite books for each child.  (Honestly, sadly, I can’t remember any many of my third child’s favorites, so I made up some that were her favorites.)  We saved a bag of good ones for the new nephew/niece coming in March.  We fixed up their bookshelves with favorite sections - Diary of a Wimpy Kid, American Girl Series, World’s Record Book, Captain Underpants, and Baby Mouse.  And I made sections for two of them with “just right” reading books that they could turn to when needed.  And I have about 10 bags of books to donate. 
Guess what happened?  They want to read all the time.  They love how neat the shelves are, and now the shelves seem like they are for them, not a bunch of younger kids. 
You see, I was holding on to a time and years that have passed.  I thought I could stop time by keeping these favorites around. Some of the ones that I really liked didn’t become their favorites.  I held on to the hope that they could love what I loved.  While doing this, I was holding them back from finding their passions.  
We are still Taking Back the Family.  We are cleaning, purging, making room for who we are now, not the family we were several years ago.  We are making spaces and steps for growth for all of us.  Even if their childhood looks different from the way mine was or what I had pictured for them. 
I wished I had read more to them.  We read all the time, every night at least.  Often several times a day.  I loved reading to them and wanted more of that time back.  
Now they read things that I don’t read and it is hard to find a book that all four of us want to read.  It is also hard to find time for all of us to read together - with homework and even the limited activities we have now. 
Since the purge, my little ones have been asking for story books that we can read in one sitting again.  Sometimes they let me read, but often they want to read.  The cool nights have come and we are spending many nights reading by the fire before bed.  
These are, still, the good ‘ole days.