Kinda pissed…

A fun little image from 10 Little Rules for Your Creative Soul author Rita Long. Thanks, Rita, you made our day!

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Smells like PSL

Smells like PSL

It’s the FINAL COUNT DOWN, do do do doooooo… do do dododooooooooo!

I have new school clothes on order, I have backpacks in the process of being washed to a like-new state, I have lunch ideas being saved on Pintrest. You know, those meals that Hank won’t eat? Those would be the ones. BUT, I will not feel bad, I am feeling high on life. WHY? Because we’re in the final count down for the new school year.

I love this time of year. I can almost smell the black leggings and feel those cozy pumpkin spice lattes on my legs. Wait. Reverse that. Or not, hell, I don’t care. I’m just too excited!

It isn’t that I don’t love summer. I mean, I don’t, but I don’t hate it. I am an introvert. BIG TIME. So during summer, these kids get a whole bunch of me and not a whole bunch of planned activities. Last summer, I decided that the kid fighting had to stop and that “Next year, they will go to a camp”. So, this summer, they did!

There is a local summer camp that looked like a lot of fun. Mud pits, soccer, animal learning centers, building; you name it, they have it. I was determined that each kid would be signed up so that they get a break this summer and the chance to have fun outside of the home. Bonus to me, it would be at a place where I don’t have to make small talk with other parents.

I signed Dave up for Soccer. He was such a fan for the game BEFORE he went for a week, running, maybe getting the ball and not being the player that he thought he would be … never having played before. He has asked to go back next year, and named three other camps within this one that he would like to do. Done. No prob, Dave. We’ll camp it up.

Hank got a week of animal adventure camp. We received a day-to-day (almost) weather report as to whether he was having fun.

First Day After Camp!

Monday: Mom! It was so cool! I know someone from my school!

Tuesday: *before camp* I don’t want to go. Don’t make me go.

*After camp* It was ok, I guess. Do I have to go back?

Wednesday: MOM! LOOK AT WHAT THEY GAVE ME! *He came running out with a white shirt waving over his head like a flag. Before we even got to the truck, little dude has his shirt off and it stuffing his noggin through the neck hole of the camp shirt. *

Thursday: *Before camp: small, angry camper who doesn’t understand why he can’t wear his new camp shirt to camp. I explain that he wore it half a day, spilled lunch/dinner on it and then refused to take it off for bed. He changes*

*After camp* Tired. Ran a bunch. Saved some imaginary animals. Hungry.

Friday: *After camp* MOM! There was a hotdog eating contest and I won! (no, he didn’t. The camp councilors had a competition and it was amazing to watch)

I personally liked the camp. They checked all ingredients for food activities and rather than making him an odd man out when it was determined that he was allergic, they moved him in with another group and he got to experience more of the camp than he would have. Imagine that. He went to a camp and didn’t feel left out. He actually felt like he had an advantage over the other kids in his group. My goodness. That was an amazing feeling. It was an amazing experience.

So, I’ll say it again. Next year, these kids are going to camp. Only this time, they are going for longer and maybe at the same time. AT THE SAME TIME. Nerf camp, animal camp, maybe building camp is in their future. Pedicures and coffee for me. Coffee. Maybe a cup of that Pumpkin Spice that smells so good.

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The ego, the soul and the social stream

The ego, the soul and the social stream

Social media.

Love it, hate it, need it, avoid it — we are all on there for various personal, social and professional reasons. And yeah, it’s got its challenges.

Making peace with this reality is neither easy nor quick, and lately it’s been top of mind for me as I go through my work day.

A couple days ago I made a comment on a friend’s post. He was really upset about something going on in the “larger” world — I could tell because of the giant black letters against a blood red background. I may not catch every nuance, but this one was pretty unmistakable.

And I believed he was wrong in how he was looking at the issue. I posted a civil response with my point of view, coming from my 20 years in the online publishing industry.

He deleted the comment, and made a comment about his right to do so. Okay.

At first my ego said “Ha! He knows I’m right; that’s why he deleted my comment.” Then I backed away, gave my ego a gentle but firm hug, and whispered “time out” in her ear.

I browsed through his timeline, reading some of the news sources he shared, trying to gain an understanding of where he was coming from with his opinions. Gradually I began to see what scared him — I could see where the fears were, and how they were being amplified. And I began to realize that his fears — loss of freedom, control, livelihood, ideals — aren’t that far from mine. In fact, they come down to fairly common fears and anxieties we all experience on one level or another.

The only apparent difference? The reasons — the people and policies that are exacerbating these fears in each of us.

In the larger dialogue, these differences can seem vast and insurmountable. But in that personal moment, the commonality of our human anxiety was what struck home. From that point of view, our differences didn’t seem that far off at all.

We all have a circle of immediate influence — in that circle, we can do good, do harm, make change or support the status quo. And then there’s the larger circle, in which we have a voice, sometimes a powerful voice, but changes comes more slowly.

And then there’s the social circle, in which we all have a voice but it often does little to advance our own intentions. It’s just adding noise.

Beyond making our own voice heard, however, is another powerful agent for change. Listening. Trying to truly discover where the other person is coming from, their fears, their motivations and intentions. It’s not easy to go there; but it’s critical if we expect to find long-lasting solutions to the problems that plague us.

 

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Mom! Are you awake?

Mom! Are you awake?

“Let’s talk about sleep, baby. Let’s talk about you and me. Let’s talk about all the good dreams and the good Z’s that we need. Let’s talk about sleep. Come On!”
Please tell me that you read that to Salt N Pepper’s Lets ‘Talk about Sex’.  Even if you didn’t, PLEASE tell me that you did.

 

Seriously, let’s talk about this elusive thing called sleep. I remember it. It was 10 odd years ago when I had my last real restful sleep.

When I was pregnant with Dave, I kept thinking that in just a few months, I’d be able to sleep again. Without the bulbous tummy that I was working against.

Then, when Dave was 6 months old, I thought: Ok, just a few more months and then I can have sleep. He was getting up super early and falling asleep at about 9pm. Surely, that couldn’t last. Right?

But when he was older, we had our fears confirmed. Dave was an early riser. A VERY early, 4 or 5am, early riser. The hubs and I never have been early birds. Nope, we are night owls. It HURTS to get up before the sun. We learned that if we tried to sleep in a bit, something always happens. And not a good thing. Like the one morning, we woke, to find a grinning Dave sitting in the hallway. The walls, carpet, doors, dog and Dave were covered in the yummy scents of fancy soap. Soap that was set aside for a holiday gift.

But it is ok, there are nap times. Right?  ”Nap when the baby naps!” Right? Yeah. No. We woke one nap time to the doorbell. The little thief had gone through my purse, gotten my car keys, went out the garage door and into my car, where there was a new toy. It was waiting for the afternoon. Sadly, the garage door locked behind him and he couldn’t figure out the house keys. It was winter. He was in jammies and no shoes.

And this is my easy child.

Hank, however, does not sleep. Like, ever. He comes down nearly every night just after bedtime. His tummy hurts. His tummy says that it is hungry. He saw a spider, maybe. He heard a noise. He saw a light. He can’t sleep. He doesn’t think that it is bedtime because it is still light. His tummy needs something.

Even if he doesn’t come down minutes after bed, chances are, 3am, we see him. At this hour, it is all about his tummy, his throat or he just needs a drink and a cuddle.

During a flare up, there is no sleep. Sure, maybe 10 minutes here and there. Or even a half hour. But for days – sometimes up to a week – there is no sleep for Hank and I. Sometimes, we even get the hubs up with us, but that is reserved for when I am covered in vomit. Though, this happens a lot more than I will even hint at.

Hank’s first year of school was hard. Very hard. Earlier, I wrote about the germ factory, getting sick and having a flare up at the same time made it really hard. Weeks and weeks of no sleep. Weeks and weeks of vomit. Weeks and weeks of middle of the night crying, both babe and me.

The non-sleeping kid does have the occasional benefits. I won’t be telling this to Hank, but I love mornings when I wake up to him snuggled in with me. His soft snoring, his tiny Hank feet wedged into my back or belly. It is seriously a wonderful snuggle. It is also a snuggle that I’m trying to break him of. He already sleeps mainly in his chair, should he need a bed, he has one. But, man. Those snugs.

As I am typing this, I actually got a fairly decent night sleep. Well. Without kid interruption. At 1:30 this morning, our new dog, Libby snored so loud that she startled herself awake and covered up her embarrassment by pretending to protect the house. With barking.

As Hank gets older, he may be able to wake, get his food/drink or whatever, but it looks like I have doomed myself to 15+ years of waking for Libby. Someday, sleep will come back to me. When it does, I’ll sleep through the alarm clock.

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Building Your House, Building Your Life…

Building Your House, Building Your Life…

A long-time friend is going through a rough time in her life right now.  Changes,  decisions and questions have surfaced and are demanding answers.  In my attempt to help, I always ended with the question:  “What do you want?  What do you really, really want?  What do you really, really, really, really want?”  Somehow saying “really” four times gets down to the heart of the matter.

She was not amused or pleased with the question.  Most of us aren’t.  We feel the pain and seem to follow that pain into what we don’t want and why we can’t get it.  It’s like walking down a dark alley even after we see the dead end sign before we begin.   Why is it so hard for us to focus on what we want rather than what we don’t have or have been told we can’t get?

I’ve never built a house before.  A real house, from concept to design, from foundation to roof.  I find it to be truly exhilarating and freeing.  Yet dozens have warned me of what a long and arduous process it is going to be and the toll it will take on me.  Before we sat down with the builder and the architect, we prepared a list of general ideas, questions, variations and open-end options.

At the very  top of the page was our “What We Want” list.  It was not an easy, quick list we jotted down light-heartedly.   It was the result of many hours of thinking about and talking about what we do, what we like, what is important to us and how we want to feel when we get into our new home.  We reviewed many blueprints…many, many blueprints.  We feel in love with one and yet we still have to make adjustments based on our wants and desires and values.  My hubby wants his work bench and home theatre.  I want my studio and a kitchen that makes me feel yummy every time I go in there to cook.  We both want our lake view to be the star and focus of our new home…relaxed, comfortable and warm.

So – life is a lot like building a house.  

Must Have:  No compromises.

Want:             Some concessions may be needed.

Like:                If possible

No Way!         If it’s not a yes, it’s a hell no!  (10 Little Rules for Your Creative Soul)

Start living a yummy life – stand up tall and strong and know what you truly want.  Go deep.

That home on the water you dream about is more than a home on the water.  Is it the peace and quiet of nature?  Is it the ability to ski and tube and party with like-minded people?  Is it the privacy and inspiration of the ever-changing view each day?   Build your life around that.

The only answer that matters is your answer and that fact that you have uncovered what it is you really, really, really, really want in life.    

Artfully inspired, Rita

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Do Your Best and Have a Banana

Do Your Best and Have a Banana

“Always do your best.”

It’s one of the Four Agreements, the seemingly simple yet profound book on Toltec wisdom by Don Miguel Ruiz. The idea is that, no matter what you’re doing, do it to the best of your ability. No half-assing it, no sweeping the dirt under the rug, that sort of thing.

But there’s a critical part to understanding this. We are human, and some days our best is not quite what it is on another day. When we are tired, or stressed, or anxious, or sick, or in the middle of chaos, our “best” might just look like survival.

That doesn’t mean we get a free pass; bliss comes at the other end of doing what you’re doing with presence and intention, immersing yourself in the moment. And sometimes, that means we have to care for ourselves, with the same commitment and passion we put into taking care of others, taking care of business.

Some days I’m a tornado of productivity. Other days, like today, it’s all I can do to keep my eyes open at the keyboard. So I must intentionally decide — is my “best” right now pushing this next piece, even if my creative energies are waning? Or would doing my best look like taking a little time off, maybe a nap, or a long walk, or a hot shower?

There’s a trap in this. It’s too easy to take the easy route, putting off what truly needs doing for the sake of “self-care” or even indulgence. The solution for me lies in listening to that still, quiet voice. It knows if I’m phoning it in, or not engaging as well as I should. It calls me back to the task to bang out the blog post or finish that client proposal, no excuses. And then, job well done, it knows when I should back off, rest and recharge.

It all comes back to listening. Be attentive to what your instincts are saying. And learn to separate those gut feelings from the tapes in your head that might say you’re not being successful enough, or working hard enough, generally in comparison to others. Doing your best compared to what? Your best days? Or somebody’s else’s idea of what your best should look like?

Today i’m not sure. Nap? Keep going on work? Something else? Maybe I’ll take hubby’s lead who says, quite simply, “I’m having a banana.”

Maybe for today’s that the best I got. <3

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Fix Her Crown

Fix Her Crown

When I ran across this image in my feed the other day, I shared it without hesitation.

With all the negativity in the world, we need more focus on the positive, the lifting up, the heartfelt good.

Later the next day, I found my self scrolling the #PermitPatty feed on Twitter, seeing all the nasty things being said about the white woman who called the cops because a young girl of color was selling water to raise money for a trip.

I wrote — then deleted — at least five different tweets offering my snark to the mix. I never posted any of them. Not because I support what she did — I certainly do not. FFS I was selling handmade tissue paper flowers on the side of the road alongside my lemonade stand before this woman was even born. Let the kid sell and don’t be a jerk.

Regardless, I resisted the temptation to chime in and add my voice to the drubbing. Then I started thinking about this image again. Breaking it down, a simple platitude with many layers of meaning.

First — be the one who lifts people up. This is always good advice. Yet there’s a sad blow back to doing this in our current climate, where it seems everyone assumes you’re on one side or the other based on one comment. If I said something as simple as “we don’t know the whole story,” (which, face it, we NEVER do unless we are personally and directly involved, and even then, it’s sketchy), I’d be labeled a supporter of her ugly behavior.

Seems we are only “allowed” to lift someone up when we agree with their political/social/whatever view … or risk alienating others or being labelled incorrectly. Gross.

Second — don’t tell the world her tiara was crooked. This is for the ego. Lifting up for love’s sake, not for that “I did a good thing” moment. This is an eternal struggle, isn’t it? This woman clearly had her crown on too tight or something — does she have someone in her life to help her adjust? I sure hope so, or else all the hate flowing her way is only going to solidify her fears and support harsher actions.

Our crowns slip occasionally. Our tiaras get dusty. I’m grateful for my friends who quietly help me set things right.

 

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On Rituals … and the Value of Temporary Chaos

On Rituals … and the Value of Temporary Chaos

Rule #9 in 10 Little Rules for a Blissy Life is “Make Life a Ritual.”

There is a certain comfort in routine. The morning cup of coffee is a perfect example. While some view it as a chore or a necessity, I see it as a way to reconnect to the waking world.

So much of our lives rush by in a blur. We find ourselves doing the same things over and over again, like dropping the kids off at school, or tossing a load of laundry into the washer, dashing off emails to the clients, or paying the bills. It’s too easy to become automated, almost unthinking, as we scurry through our lives.

One way to bring more connection into my life has been through rituals. Growing up Catholic, we had plenty of proscribed rituals. Tuna noodle casserole became a Friday staple during lent. Even stopping for donuts after Sunday Mass, which explains my ongoing craving for a good jelly bismark one day a week.

I have found new joy in recognizing and celebrating the rituals in my life. Making the bed is now an opportunity to bring my bedroom back to a state of beauty, and prepare the space for another restful night. Checking the mail is gives me just a minute or two to think of someone I’d like to hear from, and plan to write or email them. Cooking dinner goes from being a chore to celebrating a healthy offering for my body.

But what happens when change interrupts our rituals?

The last two weeks have been all about chaos — sorting, packing, storing, selling our home and moving in with a friend while our new home is under construction. The comforting rituals are turned on their heads. And with it, my sense of balance. It’s no wonder I’ve had vertigo in the mornings, as my physical body expresses what’s in my heart and mind.

Yet overturning the familiar is where we find new joy. Creating new order out of the chaos — even though I know this too is temporary — restores my balance while allowing me to be open to new experiences.

My latest ritual? Morning coffee on the dock, feeding the baby turtles at my friend Melissa’s beautiful home. Who knew watching tiny little shell kids bob for food could be such bliss?

I may be out of my element, but that’s no reason to be out of my mind.

 

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