My wonderful husband and I had a date very early on where we visited the beautiful Mecom Fountain. It was lovely and romantic and less than a year later it was also the place he proposed.
Another year later, on the morning after our wedding, we had a lovely breakfast at our hotel’s restaurant and could see the cascading fountain from our table as we sipped coffee and orange juice.
To say that this fountain has played a part in our romance would be an understatement. So when the time came for me to procure a ‘wood’ gift for our 5th Anniversary I decided to paint our beloved fountain on a wooden canvas with the words “I will always say Yes” painted at the bottom. Here was the result:
I mixed glow in the dark paint with the white. Because I’m a grown up. Acrylic on Wood.
The husband had no idea what I was getting him so what do you think he got me? A wooden jack knife easel that he burned our anniversary date and other sweet nothings into. We gave each other complementary anniversary gifts without even realizing it. And in case you’re wondering, yes, yes, we are this lovingly disgusting all the time. 😉
And for those of you looking for a partner to love (not that you need one to be happy or whole or anything in between) here’s some advice I got on my 21st birthday. Take what you like and leave the rest:
This is the fourth installment of the Love Series and it centers around something that, without fail, will lift my spirits: a good cuppa. Whether it is coffee or tea, a good cup of hot liquid is something I truly love and usually features in my self-care days. So make yourself a hot brew and enjoy!
Watercolor and Ink. And yes, I was drinking a cup of tea while I painted this. 😛
What do I have against hard? Ever since my daughter was born, all I’ve been looking for is easy – the path of least resistance. I’ve shunned hard hard. So what is it about hard that I’m so afraid of?
My dear husband makes my life harder in many ways. I’m a neat freak, he’s…not. I love veggies and tofu, he… doesn’t. I’m a saver, he’s…not. But sharing my life with him is so worth the ‘hard.’ There has been so much joy and healing and fun and unconditional love because of him. And it’s only the beginning.
My daughter makes my life harder too. But she is so unbelievably worth it as well. Owning a home makes my life harder but it’s worth it. Being a stay-at-home mom, in many ways, makes my life more difficult, but it’s also worth it. Breastfeeding. Cloth diapers. Co-sleeping. Trying to get my daughter to nap on her own. Cooking unprocessed, whole foods. Eating low sugar. Self-care. Exercising. Meditating. Creating memories. All of these things require substantial effort and make my life ‘harder.’ But they also, in many ways, make it much easier at the same time. And they’re all things that I have chosen consciously and created within my life. And they are all worth it. And somewhere along the lines of exhaustion and fatigue, I’ve forgotten that hard isn’t a bad thing. I’ve forgotten that just because the path is hard doesn’t mean it’s the wrong path for me. If I’m presented with a hard path and an easy path, the universe isn’t telling me to take the easy path just because it’s easier. Giving birth to my daughter was hard but so worth it. So worth it, in fact, it didn’t even register as hard. It registered as a challenge but one I was happy to meet. And somewhere along the line I have stopped being happy to meet these challenges. All I want is easy. All I want is effortless.
Sometimes I think about my life if I had never gotten married and had children, almost as a fantasy. And when I’m in a dark place, so weary, tired and run-down, it seems like a wonderful fantasy. But thinking about it now when I’m only slightly weary and exhausted, it just seems sad and devoid of the chaos and mess of life. This life that I have, that I have chosen for myself and created consciously, it’s hard but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
It is time for me to stop choosing the easy path simply because it is easy. Sometimes that will be all I can do and that’s okay and forgiving myself for that and being gentle with myself will be the hard part. Because even when I take the easy path there is always a hard part that goes with it. So no matter what I choose I’m taking the easy/hard path or the hard/easy path. Writing a book while being a stay-at-home mom to a rambunctious 1 year old who doesn’t seem to want to sleep without her mom next to her will be hard. But it will be so worth it. Unschooling my daughter for the next 17 years will be challenging but it will so be worth it. Making time for my self care is freaking hard but it’s worth it. And making time for dates with my husband is hard but worth it. Making time for friendships and family is hard but worth it. It is time I stopped running away from hard. It’s not something to be afraid of – it is something I have chosen consciously, to create a life full of love, chaos, fun, mess and even challenge. Because an easy life, though seemingly wonderful at times, is boring for me and not the life I will choose for myself. This is the life I choose – time to go live it.
Please forgive the pretentious title, but I sure am proud of my costume for this year’s local Art Car Parade. My friend Sarah Gish has a beautiful art car called Phoenix Rising (which I’ve mentioned before) and she was kind enough to let me skate alongside. Here’s the Phoenix costume I created for the occasion:
The finished product – ready to roll!
I had a freaking blast! The best part definitely had to be the kids’ faces when they’d see me coming and the smiles and waves I got from them as I ‘flew’ by.
If you’re curious how I made my costume, it was heavily influenced by this very impressive Phoenix costume. I didn’t have the time or resources to be quite that elaborate, but I think my thrift store body suit, Amazon Isis wings and $30 Michael’s trip did it justice. Of course, I wasn’t without my share of hiccups:
No mannequin = paint in all sorts of places.
No mannequin means I paint with the body suit on and that fabric paint does not wash off easily.
It’s a good thing she’s a David Bowie fan.
Also, my impatient, walking 10 month old didn’t wait for paint to dry before resting against Mom’s leg.
One last note: we were in a car accident a few weekends ago (a lady ran a red light – we’re all okay). That’s not the exciting part though – the exciting part was that we had to get a new car and we got a fully electric 2013 Nissan Leaf. And it’s WHITE.
Look at the beautiful blank canvas.
Which means it’s just begging to be turned into an art car. Who knows where I’ll be at the next Art Car Parade. 😉
One of my teenage relatives was recently having a rough time of things.
This is what I would say to her (and my high school self).
I’m going to tell you something you don’t want to hear and already know: life isn’t fair. And sometimes, I think, a teen’s life can have extra bits of unfair-ness. First, there is school. Don’t even get me started on school. You can read about why school sucks here, here, and here. Then there is the fact that you’re almost sort-of an adult but not really. You are given tastes of freedom and independence but none of the trust or respect to go with it. “Be an adult. Stop acting childish” but also “Listen to me. Do what I say. You live under my roof, you have no rights.” This is in addition to the pressure and expectations of everyone around you: friends, teachers, parents, relatives, your church, your culture, the media, etc. And as the cherry on top are all of the ‘normal’ things in life that suck: trauma, abuse*, hardship, death, etc. What I’m trying to say here is that, generally, a teen’s life can really suck. And when your life has a tendency to suck, you tend to have a few bad days (or weeks or months or…).
This is for those times. The bad days. First, I’m going to give you some advice my mom gave me (yes, parents do actually know something from time to time): you can’t change anyone but yourself. Another gem from the old lady: what other people think about you is none of your business. And lastly: don’t compare your insides to someone else’s outsides (this includes the crap people post on Facebook). These three statements have profoundly changed the way I look at myself and the world.
MEDITATION : Am I spending enough time alone? Do I make time to deal with my big emotions? Do I make time to get in touch with myself and figure out who I am and what I want? Do I listen to my inner wise voice?
SELF-EXPRESSION : Am I making time to express myself in a way that feels true to my soul? Even if I’m not going to share it with another living person, it still needs to be expressed.
What I’ve just listed is essentially radical self care. And contrary to popular belief, caring for yourself is not selfish. It’s like they say on an airplane: you have to put your oxygen mask on first before you can help anyone else put on theirs. And let me tell you – self care isn’t easy. Change takes time and you will fall off the wagon. Be kind and gentle with yourself and just get back on. And don’t be afraid to ask for help or get creative.
And if all else fails, get some perspective: read a book, make a list of what you’re grateful for, help someone else, give back, focus on what you do have. The world is so much bigger and more beautiful than high school and you are stronger, wiser, braver, and more resilient and powerful than you know. Hang in there – I promise you it will get better.
Oh, and one final thing:
YOU ARE VALUED.
YOU ARE NEEDED.
YOU ARE ENOUGH.
YOU ARE LOVED.
All my love,
*If you are currently in an abusive situation, I urge you to seek help. Please call one of the hotlines on this page. You will get through this. You will survive.
Your dear husband is probably wondering what this ‘self-gift’ is all about so please be sure to read this letter out loud.
This year I am gifting myself the power of “HELP NO.” (Get it, ’cause it sounds like “HELL NO.”) But really it is a two part gift of “HELP” and “NO.”
Let’s start with the gift of “NO.” Too many times you say ‘Yes,’ or more frequently say nothing at all and therefore OK, when you really mean “No.” And the two people who suffer the most because of this are you and Bill. You because you end up doing things you don’t want to because you previously agreed to it and then you’re angry and resentful or depressed. Bill because he is the one you most often say ‘Yes’ to when you really don’t want to because you think it’ll make him happy but you just end up angry and passive-aggressive with him.
So this year it’s time to start saying “No” (including to yourself). Which means you’ll have to start really taking the time to think about things before you respond instead of just saying “Yeah, OK, whatever.” I know! I know what you’re thinking! This requires time: time to put Ellie down, put your to-do list down and get in touch with yourself to know what it is you truly want. This bring me to the next part of the gift: “HELP.”
You need to start asking for help. Help with Ellie, help with the dishes, help with whatever it is you need help with so that you can get these 10 or 20 minutes EVERY DAY. These 20 minutes help you to stay sane and happy and in touch with your truth. And really, 20 minutes a day ain’t a lot to ask. 20 minutes a day for one year is less than 1.5% of the whole year! That’s a helluva deal for increased happiness. And it doesn’t always have to be Bill whom you’re asking for help. In fact, it shouldn’t be. You have wonderful family and friends who would LOVE to watch Ellie for 20 minutes or take her for a 20 minute walk. You are not superwoman and that is perfectly OK. In fact, it’s normal. So this is my gift to you – the power of “NO” and asking for “HELP.” Use it wisely.
All my love,
P.S. Eating better and starting yoga again might help too. <3
Happy Holidays Everyone! May your days be full of love, laughter, and joy! <3