Shonda Rhimes can keep her Year of YES. 2017 was my year of NO!

This past year was like the cleanup after a hurricane. (Which incidentally I also lived through.) If 2016 was the hurricane, 2017 the now what? after the hurricane.

After the real hurricane–Irma–I was surrounded by so many blessings. I saw them everywhere I looked. My house was still standing! The flood waters stopped short of entering my front door! (Barely.) The palm tree went down, sure, but it missed hitting our roof! And electricity, blessed electricity I so-take-for-granted–it eventually came back on!

That’s the thing about living through a hurricane. If you survive it mostly intact, it has a way of distilling what matters. For instance, living in a home with more than one room becomes a wonderful gift. (My daughter still to this day wants to play “hotel” because nothing was as amazing as having her mom and dad with her 24 HOURS A DAY, EVERY DAY, DAY AFTER DAY AFTER DAY AFTER DAY, IN THE SHARED SPACE OF ONE HOTEL ROOM. She’s most definitely not an introvert like her mother, who to this day does not know how she survived the experience without totally losing her ish.)

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The year 2016: when I finally got tired of my own bullshit.

If 2017 was cleaning up after a hurricane, the year 2016  was the hurricane. I could say it was a year of deep surrender, unveiling of truths, healing wounds and rediscovering joy.  But really it was the year I owned my bullshit. (See Elizabeth Gilbert quote.) After that epic year of owning my shit, in 2017 it became very clear to me that experiencing joy was not compatible with duties that sucked the joy from my life. Shonda Rhimes may have had her year of yes, but 2017 was my year of no.

Yes, this past year was all about Does it bring me joy? No? GOODBYE FELICIA. Does it take time away from my ability to experience joy? SO LONG, WON’T CATCH YA LATER. Are my choices leading to burnout and fatigue, therefore limiting my energy to create art and experience joy? DON’T LET THE DOOR HIT YOU ON THE WAY OUT.

This of course was more complicated than I’m making it sound. In one stretch of weeks this past fall I remember collapsing while sick (likely due to lack of sleep) and crying in a puddle of tears. I CAN’T DO IT ALL, WOE IS MEEEEEEE! Well of course you can’t do it all, foolish woman! I had the startling realization that there was still a LOT more no to be said. I faced some major Catholic guilt…”but i promised these people I would volunteer with this project! I can’t possibly quit!” Yes you did, and now you must pay the piper and admit you over-committed. Suck it up buttercup! Time to say no!

I said no. . .and I survived. It felt good actually. I nurtured my yin — the feminine energy fueled by rest, introspection, creativity, and deep glorious sleep. I asked for a sleep mask for Christmas and I wear it with glee. I go to bed early, really early. I even (GASP) went off coffee for a long while so I could rid myself of the addiction to caffeine. It wasn’t needed now that I wasn’t trying to do more in a day than was humanly possible! Such joy and freedom in saying NO. For calling bullshit on the inner dialog that said “this is how it is, I work fulltime and have a child and blah blah blah here are alllll my excuses for why I should be permanently frazzled and fatigued.” Facing the truth–that my time is precious indeed, so how can I use it to fuel joy?–was LIBERATING and EMPOWERING.

Where does this leave me as I say goodbye to 2017? The trash has been taken out. The roles and responsibilities have been winnowed down to essentials only. Now I need to step into my truth. No more excuses. No more distractions. 2018 is where it becomes manifest. Ultimately it will mean living my truth. Time to take the plunge, baby. 

Are you ready? I am. Well, mostly. I’m sipping a coffee as I write this (some habits are hard to break) BUT I did sleep soundly for eight hours with my beloved sleep mask. No more excuses, no more hiding. Let’s do this.

Florida-girl sees snow for the first time. (Age 5.)

“I bet the lake is frozen and the alligators are all at the bottom wrapped in blankets!”

There aren’t any alligators in Michigan. It’s too cold!

“I bet the alligators all got on a plane and said, let’s go to Florida!”

Indeed!

“Are there penguins in Michigan?”

No. It’s cold but not that cold.

Upon seeing snow outside the airport, before grabbing a handful to make a snowball: “Are there any snakes in the snow?”

Thank goodness no! [YOU MIGHT HAVE GROWN UP IN FLORIDA IF YOU CHECK FOR SNAKES BEFORE PLUNGING YOUR HAND IN WATERY SUBSTANCES.]

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p.s. My website was down recently because it is December and my mind is all about making cookies and buying gifts before I have to upgrade to expedited shipping.  Oops. We are now back up at www.mourningdovemotherhood.com 😀 Thanks for your patience!

Be here now (no, really!)

What does it look like to be here now?*

(*I started reading Be Here Now, the classic Harvard-prof-drops-acid-expands-mind-seeks-enlightenment-goes-to-India-discovers-guru-but-guess-what-the-guru-is-in-us-all book. It’s awesome. I can’t put it down.)

Let me back up and first say that I used to believe be here now was a way of escaping reality. What do you mean, be here now? I need to think about next week’s fall festival at my daughter’s pre-school which means making a “princess-witch” costume (which is not a thing but my daughter has envisioned it so we will make it a thing). And I need to think about the mortgage payment next week, and blah blah blah blah blah.

I’m starting to really get that being in the here and now is not escaping all of that, no, but in many ways is RECKONING with all of it. Let me give you an example. 

In the here and now I realized that my life was out of balance. In the here and now I realized I was experiencing stress–because all those worries about all the stuff I had to do came bubbling up in the here and now–and by sitting and staring at it in the face I reckoned with it. And in the next here and now (which is not this here and now) I made some hard choices about volunteer gigs I had promised and realized I’d overextended myself (something I do) and in the here and now I said, I cannot do this, something’s gotta give. And in the here and now I cancelled commitments I very much feared cancelling for fear of letting others down, and I faced some shame, gave some love to the shame, and reckoned with it all. Stuff that if I’d pushed away and pushed away would have likely bubbled up in more dramatic ways down the road.

In the here and now I reckon with the fact that I drank too many margaritas with my husband on date night (ok and ate too many chips and salsa too) and saw my weight loss successes diminish. (OUCH.) In the here and now I see that it was easier to blame my husband for the morning’s snafu trying to get our daughter out the door rather than facing the hard reality that she simply struggles with separation anxiety and it is what it whether I like it or not! In the here and now I look at all the laundry, so much laundry, a lot of clean (YAY) but not put away, some if it dirty (sigh) and I think, yikes why can’t I get it together. In the here and now I respond to that critical voice with, hey Sarah I love you doing the best you can juggling the mess of life.

There is no escape in the here and now. There is no hiding in the here and now. Here and now is HARD. It is hard with marriage and a kid. It is hard with the stuff we don’t want to see. But when we see it and face and and release it…wow it transforms.

How can you sit in the here and now? What might you reckon with if you do so? I’m cheering you on. You got this.

~Sarah

Without you . . .

This blog wouldn’t have happened. Healing would not have taken place. And the art that came after all the loss — well, that would not have flourished. Your love and encouragement is what propelled me forward on the darkest, hardest days. Thank you.

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My new etsy shop, The Joyful Hummingbird. A labor of love! 

With sweaty palms and joy, I’m excited to announce that I’m finally launching my etsy shop! You are the first to know–not because I am trying to sell you anything (and I truly am not, and I also promise not to use this blog to promote the shop beyond sharing today’s news!)–but because this is as much yours to celebrate as mine. I firmly believe that nothing creative, healing, or heart-driven can be done in isolation. This community has been everything to me.

Thank you, dear readers, and people who click “like” and people who post notes of encouragement! Every single darn one of you is part of this becoming manifest.

xoxo,

Sarah

P.s. If you *would* like to be in the loop about the Etsy store, text JOYFULART to 2393-03-4330. (You will get a special thank you and will be notified of other special promotions! But not more than twice a month, if that. Pinkie swear.)  This has been a promotional message. This is the last of the promotional messages. Thank you for your cooperation as these will no longer interrupt your Mourning Dove Motherhood blog reading experience. 😀

 

Where’s Sarah?

Has she fled to Canada?

Is she wandering the woods of Chappaqua? 

Is she holed up with Richard Simmons?

No, no, and *shudder* thank God no!

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Yes, I managed to find the time to photoshop my head onto a waldo illustration. I DON’T WANT TO LIVE IN A WORLD WHERE THERE ISN’T TIME FOR THAT!

No, rather she is KNEE DEEP in envelope samples, logo designs, print runs, branded stickers, merchandise photography . . .

It’s full-blown ETSY SHOP SETUP over here!

Nearly seven weeks ago (!!) I wrote about how I was reluctantly going to setup a shop to sell my bird prints and such.

Wow, a lot can change in seven weeks.

If you had told me that by April 1st I’d eagerly be entering data into a PROFIT AND LOSS spreadsheet I would have laughed out loud. Truly.

And yet here I am. Not just casually getting a few prints made (which would be fine) and slapping a few up on Etsy. No, I have fully immersed myself in the venture. 

Branding! Product! Profit Margins! Search Engine Optimization! Suppliers!

It is nothing short of delightful. I never knew that I had this entrepreneur energy within. I spend every spare moment working on this (hence the lack of blogging).

Yes, it has truly been a year full of continual unfolding that surprises and delights.

I look back to where I was a year ago: broken-hearted, cying-while-I-sang-in-the-church-choir, painting birds. Hot damn that was a tough year–but all that hard inner-work is finally bearing fruit. Who knows what the next year will bring.

So yes, the answer to Where is Sarah?  is that she blissfully creating and ever-so-eager to launch her Etsy shop.  I cannot wait to share this with you all very soon!

Until then, if you’ll excuse me, those profit-loss spreadsheets won’t calculate themselves.

Yours,

Waldo-Sarah

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See you soon–promise! 

Give light and People will Find the Way.

“On Friday we wept, on Saturday we marched, on Sunday we rested. Today we get to work. What will you do today?” – Valerie Kaur

I live in the very, very Southwest corner of Florida. Not near Miami, or Orlando, or Tampa, where you might find some blue dots in our red state. No. I live where it is not weird at all to see a dude driving his pickup around a parking lot with a shirtless dude in back waving a flag larger than my garage that says “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN.” Totally normal. Totally happened in my local Ace Hardware parking lot.

Because of this lack of blue dots in a very, very red area of the state, I almost didn’t attend my nearest sister march for the women’s march. I was certain that it was going to be me and the usual twenty aging white hippies who usually show up at these things.

Illustration based on a photo posted on Facebook by the baby’s mom Jenny Sowry. This is #wokebaby. Marched in Charlotte, NC on Saturday with her crayon-scribbled sign. Can you handle the cuteness? (Follow my instagram @100daysofhope for daily art like this.)
I WAS WRONG.

As I approached the march location there was a fair amount of traffic. There were tons and tons of cars parked on lawns illegally. There was no way this was because of the march, I thought. Not in this long-established republican stronghold where the last democrat to win the county was Adlaid Stevenson II in 1952.  (Source: Wikipedia.)

It turns out the crowd, the traffic, it was in fact all for the march.The organizers expected 300: At least 2,500 people showed up.  

YES, that is right. Over two-thousand people in our sleepy little vacation town showed up to march. Thousands of people marched and chanted past the tony vacation homes and high-end boutiques. The retirees in sports cars gawked. The passer-bys on their way to brunch bristled.

It. Was. Amazing. 

There were elderly marchers being pushed in wheelchairs, young marchers being pulled in wagons. Families, singletons, teens, twenty-somethings. Men! Women! And yes, a lot of white sixty-something women. But not just the aging hippy-sisters-who-paved-the-way oh-so long ago. We couldn’t have been here without them, but we need more than just them to move forward.

The best part was that the tone of the crowd wasn’t angry (though we were angry, yes); it wasn’t sad, or defeated or gloom and doom. No, it was…joyful. Jubilant even. It was downright spiritual: we were transmuting our pain with art, with dancing, with music. And levity! (The signs were hilarious, no?)

(And in case you missed it, the baby marcher with her crayoned-protest-sign. THIS. This is what we need.)

Let’s keep doing it. Let’s keep showing up for each other. Let’s keep giving light so others will find the way. And let’s do it with much rejoicing.

Did you march, sisters? (And brothers!) Tell me your stories! 

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Whatever makes your heart sing

I’m feeling a little rusty. It has been a long slog of a month, and quite a while since I’ve found myself in my most favorite of places: in front of my computer ready to write with coffee by my side (Cuban, my favorite) while my daughter hangs with Curious George cartoons.

Nothing like a disruption to routine and upheavals in your household to make you grateful for the little pleasures of life.

My wish for you today: a version of coffee+computer+cartoons. Whatever makes your heart sing.

 

Be like the Painted Bunting

When a male painted bunting feels threatened it sings out a loud, clear, beautiful song from its perch, all the while dazzling in a bold palette of red, blue, green and yellow.

You can do this too. When facing darkness and fear, dare to show your bold colors and sing your beautiful song. Sing it into the void. Pierce the darkness. Display your beauty in an act of radical love and joy.

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Male painted bunting. https://flic.kr/p/jdsVky “Painted Bunting” by Andy Morrfew is licensed under CC BY 2.0

*A female and male bunting have been visiting my feeder this week. Highly unusual for my location in Florida. They aren’t even scared away by my loud three year old or my barking beagles. Can you believe it? It all defies logic and makes my heart sing. These birds fill me with such joy and hope!