The magic of finding flow and dropping struggle in parenthood

I’m done with pushing. I don’t like it, I don’t want it, you can have it back thank you very much.

I’m talking about the energetic pushing. (Not the physical pushing – though definitely not into that at all!) The powering through, or powering over, a situation. Not my jam anymore. The results of this shift into flow and out of struggle have been pretty awesome too. Like for example, our struggles with THE READING LADY. (YES ALL CAPS.)

The reading lady might as well be THE CHURCH LADY

My daughter recently started seeing a speech therapist for reading challenges. We were referred to a woman by an Occupational Therapist my daughter loved. But from the get-go the speech therapist rubbed me the wrong way. It’s the kind of thing that you can’t exactly pinpoint though now I can see it: she was a pusher! She was someone who embodied powering through and over challenges. (Plus, she just wasn’t nice!)

So of course since I’m working on finding flow and not PUSHING I instantly decided not to see this woman again and found someone else, right? Oh no, of course not.

Yes, for several weeks we got up SUPER early for a butt-crack of dawn appointment with this woman, who pursed her lips when my child dared to let her eyes wander off the written page, and gave warnings when my daughter played with the shaving cream a little too long as they practiced making letters.

It’s no surprise to hear my daughter started to push back against going to these early morning, super-not-fun sessions! I couldn’t blame her. I didn’t like the lady either! So why exactly were we there??

And then I remember I’m done pushing and forcing. As fate would have it our reading lady was gone on vacation for a bit. During that time I found a new therapist. I ignored the part of me that said “oh but why can’t you be grateful for the person you found” or “yes she is grumbly but she knows her stuff!” or “What if you can’t find someone as good? What if you end up with someone worse?” and alllll that nonsense we tell ourselves. As soon as I shifted my focus asking for divine assistance to help me connect with someone who would serve the highest good in this situation, friends provided not one but two recommendations for therapists who were closer, kinder, and weren’t described as being at all like Dana Carvey’s church lady.

Fast forward to today: we LOVE our new therapist. My daughter looks forward to her appointment! And interestingly enough, the new therapist did mention that she observed my daughter doesn’t always keep her eyes on her, but that she also observed that she is retaining the information even though she appears distracted. The therapist was fine with this but wanted to let us know in case a teacher complains that my daughter isn’t paying attention in class. Fascinating difference right?!

OH, and my daughter is soaring with her reading.

No pushing! Finding balance and flow!

Now it’s time to graduate from kindergarten so to speak and apply this concept to the mother of all struggles we’re currently facing: bedtime routine. (DUN DUN DUN!!!)

Have you found the flow and dropped the struggle in any area of your life? How’s it going?

Just Follow the Joy on Facebook & Instagram for more joy and inspiration!

She’s got the moves like Jagger (or maybe not . . .)

I’d like to think that the truck full of young males headed to a landscaping job, sitting idle next to me at a stoplight, were cracking up at my dance moves because they were wowed by them and impressed by this forty-something’s swagger.

But I’m pretty sure they thought I looked like Elaine from Seinfeld.

“Mom, this is why I ask you not to dance.” Thanks a lot, peanut gallery!

My postcards are here!

Yes, that’s right, I’ve begun penning my note to Marco Rubio. I’ve got lots to say.

What’s this all about you ask?

I make art and I decided I wanted to give it away AND help shine light on the horrific child separation policy. Here is my plan: I’ll send you five free cards in the mail in return that you use them to advocate to end the child separation policy. Send a note to an elected official, the media, friends, whomever. We will nudge each other to raise our voices and send disillusionment to the curb. AND if you are still on the fence about doing this–when you sign up you will be entered to win a tote bag or a print too!!! Because why not spread even more love?

It’s that easy!

Here’s the tote. Oooo! Ahhhh!

Here is the full print (pardon the shadowy picture, better picture to come soon):

You can sign up for your free postcards here. Whaddya say. Let’s shine some light into the darkness.

A pool float that plays sea chanteys?

That’s what my five-year old wanted to get my hubby for Father’s Day. Sadly no such thing exists (that I’m aware of) BUT if one gift ever summed up her dear-dad’s personality that would be it!

He settled for a sentimental photo gift and a book about octopuses but who knows. Maybe by the time his birthday rolls around we can pull together a custom sea-chantey-swan-float.

Yo ho ho, I raise a glass of grog in honor of all ye dads out there! Happy Father’s Day, mateys!

Two weeks into Artist’s Way: big shifts and a return to 1980s crafting heaven

I just completed week two of the 12 week Artist’s Way program for recovering your creative self.  I need to put to page (er, screen) some of the shifts I have already seen in this short time. And I of course want to share with my readers because I know so many of you are artists, creatives, writers, spiritual seekers, and dreamers like myself.download

Here are what I’ve seen so far as being some of the biggest shifts and interesting outcomes thus far:

  1. A wonderfully delicious morning routine. Long ago I had a fabulous morning routine that involved waking at 6am, writing on this blog nearly daily, and gulping down copious amounts of cuban coffee. This routine ended up unraveling. The kid’s sleep routine changed and everything fell off the rails. The Artist’s Way has me back on track with waking early again (6am) and writing my morning pages. (Freestyle, stream-of-consciousness writing/journaling, for my eyes only.) It is awesome. I’m once again leaping out of bed, excited each morning for my time alone with a cup of chai and time to write.
  2. Unexpected creative bursts and ideas. One of the week 2 exercises was to list all sorts of activities you love and the last time you did them. My list included a lot of things that I hadn’t experienced since the late 1980s or early 90s. As I brainstormed, all sorts of related but unexpected things came to mind. Like, oh I remember making friendship bracelets and loving it. Wait, that reminds me, didn’t I used to make things with beads? What did I make? In my mind’s eye I could picture the tiny beads and remembered the feel of holding them in my hands. So, “bead making” went on the list. And this led to the next discovery….
  3. Unexpected parenting wins. Guess who would like to do 90% of the things on my list that I did when I was a kid? Why, my own kid! In fact, I shared the list with her and she was beyond ecstatic. I suddenly had a partner in crime. I went to the craft store without a plan, only following my whims (WOAH so right-brained of me!) and came home with bracelet making supplies.

    It turns out I like making beaded bracelets. What the what?!

  4. I made a bracelet! My daughter did some beading and actually was pretty amazing at working with the tiny beads (which I thought would be too difficult for her five-year-old motor skills. I was wrong.) Overall, I’m becoming a more playful parent and I’m also doing a lot more creative stuff with my daughter. Y’all I bought puffy paints and did them with my daughter. We are having a blast! WIN-WIN. But not everything is fun and games…
  5. ANGER. AND. FRUSTRATION!  Guess what. When you have a lovely morning routine and your child suddenly realizes you are waking an hour earlier and wants to join you, you get really sad and annoyed. I know it’s not her fault that she wants to hang out with me – I am pretty awesome with the beads and puffy paints after all. BUT. . .my morning routine! My precious, precious morning routine. I did not like this disruption at all. Which is why it was no surprise that when I turned the book pages to read about WEEK THREE, it was all about…
  6. Gaining Power and setting Boundaries. I laughed when I opened the chapter. OH. SO I AM RIGHT ON TRACK HUH? Because it turns out when you start having the creative bursts and experiencing the joy of creativity again, guess what? You don’t want that time taken away from you! But instead of becoming resentful or cranky (not that I was either of those things…never, not me!), Cameron writes how you can–guess what–address the boundary violations and fix them.

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    The morning sunrise view from my writing spot. Oh, so glorious!!

  7. I’m still figuring out the morning routine. Today I had my time to myself, but I decided if my daughter does wake really early on future days, I will swap the morning routine – get her ready for preschool, take her to school, and then return home for the writing pages time alone. It isn’t ideal (because frankly there is something quite magical about sitting with my journal watching the sun rise…ahhhh) but I also need to find solutions that ditch the resentment and allow for flexibility when parenthood throws me a curve ball.

My mother’s day, as told with Leslie Knope gifs

It’s been almost five years since I lost my mom and just when I think, mother’s day – it’s all good, I’m cool! Totally got this!…well, you can probably guess where this is going.

Let me walk you through all the feels this weekend, assisted with the imagery of Leslie Knope of Parks and Rec. (Gosh I miss that show!)

Me at 8pm Saturday, Mother’s Day Eve, if you will:

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Me at 9pm on Saturday (after seeing the first sprinklings of mother’s day posts on social media)

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Me Sunday Morning:

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Happy and grateful that my mom was my mom. Tears of joy at the love she gave and continues to give me. Tears of sadness that she isn’t with me other than in spirit. Tears of gratitude for my daughter and for being a mom. Tears for losing a pregnancy and struggling with infertility. Like I said, ALL THE FEELS.

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Sunday progressed and was good. It turns out that once you face the 5,000 pound grieving elephant in the room you feel much better.

Sunday night arrived. Was I ready to look at social media?

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You guys, I did okay. It was all good.

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Like I said, no big deal!

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(Yeah this one doesn’t have to do with anything…just couldn’t resist some awesome Leslie Knope wisdom.)

Hope the day landed gently for those who were struggling with loss. (Also hope all you moms were able to treat yo’self! Literally treat yo’self. Okay I’ll stop now.)

The Girl Who Sat in Trees

Before there were synced calendars and day planners and even before there were trapper keepers, there was a little girl who sat in trees. She sat in the trees for what felt like hours, though it might have been mere minutes. She dreamed, journal-ed and sketched. She transported to a place of joy and bliss, cradled in the crooks of maples and oaks, conversing with imaginary beings.

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Creative Commons license “CentreOfAttention” .

Eventually the little girl grew up and as happens, she stopped sitting in trees. She loved her art and writing and singing, but she was so very good at accomplishing what was asked of her –grades, scores certificates and awards–that little by little the doing and achieving overtook the being and dreaming. Sure, there were times she held on tightly; she traded calculus for art class, she filled nearly three dozen personal journals, and she took an art class here or there even as an adult. But no doubt, over time she shifted. She was a girl with goals and one day even the art was remembered as the silly musings of a child; the dreaming became purely the intellectual kind.

Nobody told her to put down the paint brush. They didn’t need to. She was a good rule-follower and she understood the unspoken rules of a world that stood in direct opposition to the place in the trees.

And so it was that decades later she found herself at the finish line all burned out and dried up. Even then she didn’t understand why. She was doing her very best to practice self-care and find balance within the system. She followed her heart within this system. She defied norms within this very system! So why wasn’t it working? What she didn’t know then is that no system–even this artificial world dominated by deadlines, goals and outputs, where rest was seen as a means to at some point get more done–did not exist outside the laws of nature. As far removed as she was from those trees of her childhood, the moon still waxed and waned above her. The seasons turned. The oak rested in winter and sprouted leaves in spring. Try as she might to will herself to make it work–to power through as she had always done–simply no longer worked because the answers would never be found in the wasteland.

Vitality is Your Birthright

I was going to write about the wasteland, but first I need to tell you about vitality and joy. That they are your birthright. You were born to be a wellspring of creation as part of nature, not separate. You were born to bear fruit and yes, also turn fallow when the seasons turn. But all part of a rhythm and cycle of life. Not distorted or shuttered, not churning out products like a machine or lying withered–no, simply part ongoing cycle of birth, death, regeneration and rest.

Yes, vitality is your birthright. Let that sink in. It took me until my fortieth orbit around the sun to re-remember this truth.

To accept vitality as your birthright means to accept that these states of being matter in the first place. That joy matters. That how you are is as important as what you do.

Like most people I didn’t arrive to these lessons through sitting in the light. No, I was awoken by despair. By the creeping realization that my infertility was a symptom of a larger imbalance, including decades of small choices that placed priorities of doing over being. Choices that sucked away my vitality and juiciness, for lack of a better word. Painful lessons that being tapped out, dried up and exhausted wasn’t a state of being I had to simply grin and bear.

I no longer accept that my reality has to include certain compromises. It took sitting in a chair with a crappy ovulation report (“you have low fertility for someone your age – who let’s be honest, tends to have low fertility to begin with!” (I paraphrase)) to finally accept something I knew deep down, which was of course my body was sucked dry. Of course I could not longer dictate my body perform magic (creating a human for crying out loud!) with a snap of fingers. The well had run dry and the pied piper was coming to collect its dues. This wasn’t personal. It simply was what happens when nature is in imbalance. Too many years of drought? Well, you won’t see a good crop for some time. My body was no different.

And what of our great mother earth? As I frittered away in my own world, despairing about the state of my body, my family fled our home because of mother nature’s massive hurricane, category five, whose eye touched kissed the ground near our home, causing “once every-two-hundred-years” flooding. Mother nature is out of balance too. Too much has been demanded of her for too long.

Where does this leave me? Demanding vitality as my own birthright–and mother earth’s, too. 

I’ve resisted writing about this because of an inner critic that tells me the story is cliche, predictable and trite. (Which basically means there’s a part of me that still believes it is all of those things.) But forget that. Too many women have been too silent for too long and that’s what got us into this mess. I write to silence my own inner critic but also to show my daughter how to cherish her vitality and joy. To fight for it tooth and nail the moment she sees it slipping away or being stolen from her in the name of progress.

Rules for a sisters-only getaway

1. Stay up late ranking the names of Kim Kardashian’s children, from least awful to most awful. (In case you are curious: North (but go by Nori, obv), Saint, and poor lil’ Chicago is last.)

2. Sleep in late and eat kettle corn and coffee for breakfast. (Doubles as a colon cleanse?! Lol)

3. Chuckle to yourself every time your spouse calls to say how much he appreciates you.

4. Buy four kinds of chocolate candy and share amongst yourselves.

5. Wear your new silk pajama pants you got on clearance from Target.com and slide around the bed laughing so hard you nearly pee yourself while your sister jokes about your Bangkok-inspired sleepwear choices. (They were a steal at TEN DOLLARS and worth every silky penny!)

This is definitely the first annual sister-getaway of many many more to come. So gimme the scoop ladies—any fun sister getaway traditions you can share?

. . .Oh, and we MIGHT go parasailing. We’ll see.