Peering into the closet

Sometimes we need to dig into the closet. What is in there that scares us?

I’ve read that the Chinese New Year’s FIRE ROOSTER brings with it the energy of tidying up, letting go, and being fastidious. 

Recently I fully embraced the rooster energy and decided to spontaneously empty and organize our walk-in closet. To the untrained eye the room was full of assorted piles of crap. Not so! I had fastidiously sorted each and every last content into items in need of repair (buttons sewn on, stains removed); items to donate–with sub-categories including the items to take to the domestic violence shelter thrift store (clothes mostly) and items to donate to a home for young mothers in foster care (for them, only the nicest household items, some children’s clothes and toys and don’t ask why those things were even in my closet in the first place.). And then was the pile of trash. The pile of random mementos that needed to put tucked away. The pile of clothes that no longer fit but maybe if I lose those last ten pounds? The pile of office supplies (why were they in there….?) You get the idea.

SO. MANY. PILES.

A week later and the project is complete, including the addition of a new plush rug inside the closet that my daughter and I gleefully rolled around on, all the while absorbing the beauty of the clean and orderly closet! 

I thought my Fire Rooster energy had run its course. It turns out, no so fast.

Alas, it seems there were other dark spaces that had slow and steadily collected items out of view. Left in the dark but ready for light to be shined upon them. 

You may have noticed I haven’t been posting as much recently. Mostly this is because I have been doing a lot of artwork, and also keeping busy with my little project #100daysofhope (mostly on instagram).

You could say I’ve been consumed by my art. Every spare moment I seem to be in front of the watercolors. I’ve been posting them on Instagram…and then something started to happen.

Within the span of days several people asked to purchase prints I had made. Did I have a store?

I think the best way to describe what happened next would be paralysis. 

I know, it makes zero sense. This is awesome, people want to buy my artwork! How wonderful!

Yes, yes yes. But it meant getting my act together. It meant collecting and properly scanning and uploading and editing and printing and….and….all the excuses you can imagine. Know what it really meant?

It meant shining a light on my creative work. IT MEANT VULNERABILITY.

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Image found online
The universe was giving me so many nudges, it was ridiculous. And then my sister called. She urged me for the thousandth time to setup a damn online shop. And after I told her about the inquiries she jokingly and lovingly scolded me, WHAT? Sarah get your butt in gear!

I was a tad defensive. Do you know how busy I am? Blah blah blah. Well, in talking to her, I decided to cut work early yesterday and at least get started on the project. 

So yesterday afternoon, dragging my feet still, I slowly assembled the artwork until every last piece was laying on my bed.

My jaw dropped. There was SO MUCH ARTWORK. I had created all this? All this time it had been tucked away in the dark, in need of fastidious sorting and cataloguing.

And it needed light.

At this point in the afternoon I realized I needed to make a call. I left a message for my sister and I told her she would not believe how much artwork it turns out that I had! (Oh, I think she knew.) I thanked her for the nudge. The loving nudge to push the baby bird out of the nest. The bird who was more than ready to fly.

I’m sorting, scanning and fastidiously editing and preparing to print the artwork. I will gleefully-and fearfully-share with you when they are posted online for sale. And if I drag my heals, you officially have permission to nudge this baby bird once again.

What about you? What is hiding in your closet, in the dark, in need of light and air? Are there things you need to let go of? Are there things that need to be seen? Who can hold you accountable and gently push you out of the nest? The fire rooster calls!


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Welcome to Humans Anonymous!

I have a confession.

It turns out i am a human. Who is flawed. And (gulp) imperfect.

There’s something about the holidays that just leaves me feeling raw and vulnerable. I am sure I am alone in this. I am sure no other flawed, imperfect human struggles this time of year!

Let me tell you about my judgment spiral. Wait, let me back up. I need you to know first of all that I am INFJ. That is a meyers-briggs personality assessment because I freaking love any time of psychology/self-help/woo-woo assessment.

You will notice there is a J at the end. J is for judgment. As in, I am a judge-y Judy. My husband-the-scientist is an INFP–“P”  stands for perceiving. Which means conversations like this occur (as it did last night):

Me: It isn’t always bad to be judge-y. Sometimes you need to make a judgement about something!

Husband: Do you?

Me: (Horrified) You are joking when you say that right? YOU HAVE TO BE KIDDING ME!

Husband: No I am not joking. [editor’s note: He wasn’t joking. I KNOW RIGHT??]

Me: Oh, I just judged you for NOT JUDGING. Damnit I have a problem!

Now let’s back up one week. Let me set the scene.

Our babysitter was here watching our kiddo during the final week of the world’s longest break because I had to work (for real) and my husband had to work or else he would go certified stir-crazy (also true).

The sitter came and watched our kid in our house. Our messy, grimy, needs-deep-cleaning-so-bad-I-can-taste-it house. Our sitter–a self-professed “OCD neat freak” — was likely breaking out in hives all week after being forced to be in the grime. Of course that was what I was imagining.

Every morning before she came I cleaned like a madwoman, cursed about whoever didn’t put their shoes away, decided my husband and child were the World’s Messiest Human Beings, and generally felt my stress level go up ten notches.

Dear people, this was because I was worried about what my 22-year-old babysitter thought of my messy house. Yes. A young woman who has no children, no spouse, no full-time job. WHAT THE ACTUAL :!@#IE?! 

Oh, might I add that I assumed she was judging me. It is also possible she showed up, shrugged her shoulders, and carried on without a thought. Either way, why do I care?

Well, I care because at the end of the day I am ashamed of my dirty house. ASHAMED. I mean that is a powerful word right? And why am I ashamed? Because my dear, loving mother kept the most immaculate, clean, neat, tidy house you can imagine. My dear mother who would care for everyone in our house from the moment she arose to the end of the day, 11pm at night, sitting and folding laundry while finally doing something for herself: watching some tv. WHILE FOLDING LAUNDRY.

Guess what I do. Are you ready for this? I work all day, and after putting my kid to bed, sit and watch tv. WITHOUT FOLDING LAUNDRY. I let it pile up like nobody’s business. Or, I sit and write (like now!) rather than clean, or I sit and paint rather than clean.

As I type this I hear my mom in my ear. Tears well in my eyes as I type this: Sarah, you are being so hard on yourself. She also adds, with a chuckle, that housekeeping has never exactly been my strong suit. (She would also be correct.  I have always preferred writing, painting, and day-dreaming to sock-matching . My daughter, who very much likes her socks to match, will sometimes come over and say quite-seriously: “Mommy, good job! Your socks match today!”)

Yeah, I might have a self-compassion problem.  In fact, I do, according to self-compassion.org! (An actual website with an actual quiz.) Yes, it turns out there is a quiz for it. Because the universe has impeccable timing, Brené Brown’s “The Gifts of Imperfection” arrived yesterday, and I flipped directly to the self-compassion chapter which had a link to that website listed.

http://self-compassion.org/. Drum roll for the results….

compassion

Yeah…I’d say that maybe the word for 2017 will be self-compassion.

Me: HI, MY NAME IS SARAH.

Everyone else: HI SARAH!

Me: I AM A HUMAN! I AM IMPERFECT, LIKE ALL THE OTHER HUMANS!

Everyone else: WELCOME TO HUMANS-ANONYMOUS, SARAH!


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Frog-Swimming 

I have written a few times about how it feels like things are moving at glacial speed in my life. That the universe is testing my ability to be patient. To trust. And also, I think, to simply experience joy in the meantime.

It seems I am frog-swimming through life.

That is what I realized yesterday as I dipped into the swimming pool and effortlessly started moving with frog kicks. I was doing the breast-stroke I suppose, but slower. And did I mention effortlessly! I did this nearly the entire half-hour until the last five minutes of my workout when I suddenly decided I wanted to be on my back. So I flipped over and began doing the backstroke.

As I flipped from facing down to being outstretched on my back, gazing into clouds, it reminded me of yoga. Where you have poses that curl you up, surrendering…and then standing with shoulders back….heart open to receive.

Surrender. Receive. Repeat. 

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Image copyright of Lori Portka.
Earlier this summer I started swimming regularly. I remember telling my therapist about this new routine, and I was a little embarrassed. I explained to her how rough I have it– you know, having to walk past a total of four houses to get to a large community pool. And to arrive only to discover that I have the pool all to myself. I know–I told her–I am a bit spoiled.

Her response: Isn’t it wonderful to be spoiled?  

Her words took me aback. Actually it IS nice to be spoiled. How often can I claim to have felt spoiled by anything? Especially in these last few challenging years.

I’ve held tight to her words as I have floated on my back in the cool water watching clouds move above me. As I’ve seen my leg kicks move from weak and disjointed to strong and in sync. As I have danced giddily under water like a mermaid. 

Frog-swimming through life right now. Surrendering and receiving.

Surrender. Receive. Repeat. 

 


Are you frog-swimming too? Share your experiences!

 

Whirling Dervishes

At last. At long last. Sitting in front of my computer with a coffee (and my beloved skunk ape mug to boot!) and well-rested and content and ahhhhhhhh….

This week has been like a topsy-turvey, off-balance, whirling dervish act. While blind-folded. And sleep-deprived.

This week has been like taking a big bit of mac n cheese expecting bacon topping and getting cinnamon. (Yes it happened. Thank the three-year old.)

Exhale.

I won’t explain all the mundane reasons why the week has been so chaotic. Okay maybe I will. There was the incident where I stepped on a shell my daughter had left on the floor, which caused the shell to slide against wall thereby making a tiny “clink” noise…which then managed to WAKE my almost-asleep daughter and cause a cascade of events resulting in her taking another 1.5 hours to get to sleep.

If wordpress had emojis I would insert that yellow dude with the huge eyes that seem to say say “WHAT THE HECK!” (or insert something spicier). Doesn’t matter. Today is a new day. I am refreshed! I am writing! My daughter is refreshed! The Shells are put away! The whirling dervish act has been retired for the time being.

Exhale.

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Image source.

Peach Fuzz

 

I sometimes forget just how new my three-year-old is to this world.

This morning she asked if she could eat a peach whole. I happily obliged and realized it was the first time she’s ever cradled one in her hands and bit into it like an apple. She’s had sliced peaches, canned peaches, but I am pretty sure this was her first one eaten whole.

She bit into it the peach leaving sweet little tiny bite marks. But after a few minutes she stomped over to me demanding a new peach.

I asked her what was wrong.

“This one has little hairs on it, Mommy! All over it!”

Oh my goodness, she was talking about peach fuzz

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CC license. Photo source.

To be fully present to life and all of its details!

Today I am sniffing and rubbing a peach on my cheek, a reminder from my three-year-old that all details of this life contain wonder if we let them.

(Although let’s be honest: nothing about this peach is magical to her. She came back a few minutes later demanding a peach without the red parts. You know, the part of the peach nearest to the pit. If my daughter had her way, she’d be genetically engineering fuzz-less peaches without red bits in the middle.)

Wait, did I just describe a nectarine? Yes, I think I did. 


Has your young child shared an observation with their fresh little eyes that made you go wow!? Share below, and thanks for reading! ~ Sarah

 

 

How do you solve a problem like more loss? PART II of the healing journey! (With Sound of Music gifs!)

It is DAY TWO of the blogging series about my healing journey – can you handle the excitement?! Do you have your coffee ready?!

I will recap yesterday’s post. The start of the journey, if you will, in one long run-on sentence:

My mom dies in 2013, I am very very sad (as one would be), a year later I try to get pregnant but can’t, I go to the acupuncturist, the energy gates open and I grieve every loss I have ever had (a lot of loss), I am on a road to healing…and BUM BUM BUM.

(Oh, and there is a flow chart! And Sound of Music gifs! Really you should take a look!)

That takes us to part two: we pick up at the bum, bum bum!

We are still at the top of the flow chart (<–here in full). BUT now we are gonna move to that section labeled SUFFERING. Hold on to your hats folks.

It is January, precisely two years, four months after my mom died. I am still feeling a lot of grief but it is flowing through me. This is good. But also, my husband has been witnessing the grief flow through me for, oh, two and a half years. That is a hard thing to do, to witness our loved ones in pain. (Psst, this bit is some foreshadowing, wink wink.)

As you may recall I was seeing an acupuncturist in the hopes of getting pregnant. I was starting to see shifts in my body, and I was also taking Chinese herbs and such.

And then in mid-January, I noticed all the signs I had noticed when I was pregnant with my daughter. I took a pregnancy test and I was pregnant.

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Sing it Maria! Tumblr.

Everything about this pregnancy felt miraculous. It is hard to explain. It felt like it came out of nowhere. I didn’t think my body was fully ready for pregnancy so I was a bit stunned.

I did the online calculator of when I was due: It was the date my mother died, September 18th.

To the day.

Now, I know due dates are estimations, but I got goosebumps. I mean really, how does that happen?

This feeling of disbelief–but also of something not being right, of it all being too easy, and not quite real–was with me from the start.

Seven weeks into my pregnancy I had a dream. It was a beautiful dream of huge cranes flying away into the night. I can still close my eyes and feel its beauty. But I awoke with a huge amount of despair and grief. I could not figure it out. I honored the grief -I figured it was new grief surfacing about how my mom would never meet this child, or something like that. I was so very sad though. I remember taking a day off of work, that was how much I was grieving.

Two weeks later I sat in an ultrasound room and saw there was no heartbeat. I had started bleeding the day prior. I knew that I had lost the baby, but I was not really ready to face it until sitting in that room. My husband’s eyes welled with tears and I sat numb. I knew it already on some level. But I hadn’t been ready to really know it, you know?

It appeared the baby had stopped growing two weeks prior – the day of my dream, I am nearly certain. 

This loss, this loss of a child that was supposed to enter our world on the date I lost my mom, it was the icing on the cake of so. much. loss. It was the tipping point. I had suffered up until this point, yes, but I was able to see light at the end, to which I was headed.

This loss was different.

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Maria understands. source.

Are you still with me? I now it is so sad but I will promise you, this big story ends well. It ends with love and connection. I think we need a reminder from Maria that it is going to be ok in the end:

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From TUMBLR of course!

But yes, what came next was suffering.

We have all suffered so what I will share I am sure you can relate to: I felt like I was being punished. (“Why me?”) I felt as though maybe it was true that bad things happen to bad people. (A favorite ethos of our culture. Not true however!) I felt isolated and alone in my grief, that there was NO way ANYONE could EVER relate to MY PAIN because it was SO UNIQUE. (Also not true.) I felt bitter and angry.

Remember my husband? Well, we both took it hard. And I wanted someone to blame and while it makes zero sense, I remember constantly being upset with him because he just couldn’t understand, he wasn’t being patient in my healing…and later, in therapy, I realized that really I just wanted HIM to make it better. Somehow. I didn’t realize it at the time but suffering does weird things to us doesn’t it?

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More gifs from here.

So, not only was I suffering from the miscarriage, I was feeling angry and bitter in my marriage…a bit of projection, if you will. Well that just creates more stress. A sh*tstorm of stress, really.

And then it all shifted.

If you were to ask me the turning point in my healing, if I could identify one moment in time, I can tell you. It was early March. I was talking to my sister on the phone. I can even picture the corner of my couch I was sitting on when I spoke to her.

My sister is often able to connect spiritually with my mother in intense ways that I am not able to. You know what she told me as we spoke on the phone that day in March? She said mom saw my intense suffering. And she said, “Mom wants you to be happy…to be able to enjoy your husband and daughter. She doesn’t want you to suffer any more.”

That, my friends, was the turning point.

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Tumblr.

I felt those words in my heart. I felt my mother with me, and I felt her pain at seeing me in pain.

It was like a light bulb went off. I thought, I do not have to choose suffering. Yes, I didn’t ask be dealt these cards. But I can choose how I respond. 

I surrendered to the pain. I didn’t blame, I didn’t fight, I simply saw that it was part of my story at this point, and that I could choose to embrace this or I could angrily fight against it. The fighting-against-it-trope was not going well for me, my husband or my family.

If you want the truth, it was my mother’s love that made me see. My mother continues to mother me from beyond the veil. Is that not incredible? 

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Hooray for a mother’s love! From source.

I TOLD YOU IT WOULD END WELL! But there is more…

TOMORROW – PART 3: How I chose love and connection over fear, anger, and suffering. (PLUS more gifs!)


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Therapy for you! Therapy for you! Therapy for everryyyyonnnne!

Top of the morning! This post is going to be a practice in flash blogging. (Is that a thing? Like #flashfiction only blogging. I will make it a thing.) The reason? Today I see my theraaaaaaapisttttt! (That’s me saying it in my inner Oprah-voice.) And therapy day is a great and wonderful day, but it means a hastier morning routine…hence #flashblogging. Seriously I’m gonna make that a thing.

In the midst of writing this, my wonderful therapist called me. She had a logistical snafu come up and needs to delay our appointment until later. As she said, ‘Shit happens!’

Oh boy doesn’t it.

Sometimes I am amazed at how much I can process simply by sitting and unloading for an hour. (Us people who see therapists, we like to use words like “process.”) Why, just by holding space for me to speak and speak and speak and be heard I can discover so much about myself and my situation. It’s hard to do this with our loved ones. They are too wrapped up in our outcomes. Oh they are so eager to see us just be OK AND WELL! But our therapist can just chillax and let it be.

Huh. Let it be. Hold space. Interesting because now that I think about it that is what I have been struggling with lately. Perhaps this is a better way for me to think about the perceived “inaction” in my life: maybe the universe is building in a pause period for me to figure some more stuff out. To untangle the Christmas lights a little more so the lights can shine through clearer.

This sh*t right here y’all, this is why I love writing. And therapy! This is why I love therapy!  These periods of pause might be challenging for me, but maybe I just needed a new perspective. The quiet pause might be viewed as an extension of what I experience in therapy: moments of being that will help me bring further clarity before taking action. (Or maybe it is simply a pregnant pause (ha! Pun intended) to savor the gifts in my life before I build another robot.)

Huh. That makes a lot of sense. This is what we call in therapy lingo, an “a-ha!” moment.

Because shit happens but then we talk about it for fifty minutes and we figure stuff out. We hold space to be so we may see.

Hallelujah, how I love therapy day.

(And seriously, may we all have someone to do this with! If I was Oprah, I’d totally make that happen…”A therapist for you! A therapist for you! Therapists for EVERYONNNNE!!!!”)


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You can’t manifest a robot in only one month.

Good morning my loves! Sarah here, with coffee and writing. (No cheese today. Just a medley of Life cereal mixed with Cheerios courtesy of the child. Mmm. A little sweet, a little oat.)

Mooooo. (c)mourning dove motherhood

I am proud to announce that last night, while watching Veep and eating my popcorn, I was so tempted to zone out to Selena Miller interspersed with Facebook scrolling. But then I was like, oh sh*t, I just told the dozens of lovelies who read my blog that I was going to do art at night time. This is good, you are holding me accountable. So I did some sketching…of COWS! Cows with cattle egrets. I am noodling around with the idea of a children’s book involving a cow and an egret who are friends. As part of my Wikipedia browsing  important literary research I discovered that cattle egrets are fierce little dudes. They apparently sometimes eat OTHER BIRDS. They think they are owls or something. Anyway, more to come on the cow and the egret.

What’s on my mind today is MANIFESTATION. I am talking about seeing something in your mind’s eye and making it a reality. I have always been pretty good at manifesting. I’m not a wizard* or anything. But I take leaps and follow my heart and probably most importantly, listen to my intuition. Now don’t get me wrong this quality in me isn’t always pretty. I once followed my intuition and dated a guy…who braided his beard. (And yes he worked at a food co-op. You guys, I can’t make this stuff up.)

So I have this manifestation thing down but what I struggle with is simply BEING. For a long time I thought the opposite of manifesting something was inaction. I am slowly realizing that no, it is important sometimes to simply be. I have had all sorts of random assorted messages that have made me aware that I am starting to tap into feminine energies more.  Feminine energy holds space for something and masculine energy is action. But that both are needed to manifest something. Or so I have deduced from others who are wiser about this stuff than I am.

Right now my heart (and a snail) are telling me that the flow for me right now is being. It isn’t time for action yet. This IS SO HARD FOR ME Y’ALL. I want action! Boom shacka lacka I want to get stuff done. I get antsy when I feel like I am not doing doing enough even when my heart tells me, slow down, poco a poco, you will get there.

Yesterday I was talking to my sister. I was lamenting about how hard it was for me to be patient in certain matters which I want to see results now damn it! I was talking about one personal thing that I will speak in code about. The conversation went something like this:

Her: Be patient with yourself. Think of all your body has been through over the last three years, and especially in the last several months. I have no doubt you will be holding a robot in your arms soon.

Me: I know. I want to build a robot now but I just need to be patient.

Her: You know, there are doctors that help people build robots. And sometimes medicines.

Me: Yes, I know, but I haven’t taken that step yet. I mean it is has only been one month since I started trying to build a robot again.

Her: *silence followed by laughter.* HOLD THE FRONT DOOR. You have only been trying to build a robot for one month?!

Me: Huh, now that I say that out loud, that is absurd that I am fretting about building a robot when I literally have only tried for ONE MONTH TO BUILD A ROBOT.

Yes, that is me in a nutshell. I decide I am ready to build robots and then see it in my mind’s eye and I am like, ok let’s do this. Let’s manifest some robots. And then when they don’t manifest in a month I am like, why is the universe broken??

Holding space. Simply being. All robots will be built in due time.  You know, perhaps in longer than one month. 

 

*Speaking of wizards, yesterday I saw a man in a long black cloak walking a dog. My first thought was, wow is that Professor Snape? Then I noticed the white collar. He was a priest. You can tell you have pretty much shaken your Catholic roots when your mind immediately goes to Harry Potter before thinking man of the cloth.

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