Under the Embers


I Felt Like Telling A Story
April 3, 2010, 12:29 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Still the same, though not the same

At my center, even as a very young child, I knew. I have a strong constitution, though my personality may be malleable and my zodiac sign mutable, I have a very cardinal sense of Self. I am dynamic, highly empathic, and often in love with Change. But I suffer no seek of identity. I know who I am.

I am a storyteller to myself.

I used to be the Master of Rapids; life without preoccupation with topic, direction, intention, or presentation. Impulsive thinking and actions, running without stopping, smashing though walls instead of into them, and creating magic in the dust trails I left behind. I am concerned, sometimes, that I have tried on too many peoples’ eyes… Too much editing, and now presentation and tact serve where creativity and power used to rule.

The balance of this, however, is feeling like I am more refined. I have practice, my boots are worn in a bit, and I know the path without stumbling. Intuition and experience are my staff and shield. My movements are more precise without as much waisted energy. I suffer far fewer “emotional hangovers”. I have less to apologize for, fewer to apologize to, and I am frequently proud of both my effort and my accomplishments. I am careful, but I am not dull. I am intentional and accountable and I am strong.

With Windows operating system, you can do a System Restore. You can go back to a point in the past. You can intentionally leave markers, if you want to, as your System Restore Points. It is time travel. Many times I have wished that my human memory held that function. I could make moments for myself, and when thought upon, I could return to that point in time whenever I desired.

I am almost embarrassed to say that I have tried to do exactly that a few times, as a child and as an adult. I have paused and taken inventory of my surrounding. I focused on everything around me; objects, weather, fragrances both pleasing and horrible. Sometimes I would think of a word, object, or even silly message, to give to myself in the future. I tried to take it all in and “memorize” it.

Later, I sat in still and quiet, and with eyes closed, I tried to conjure up those moments. With vivid clarity, I could recall many things. It may not be time travel, but it was a fun mental exercise.  Like the effect Morning has on Dreams, a haze settles eventually. I can still visit my System Restore memories whenever I wish, but all I have done is enhance my awareness and focus. My life is not a point-by-point linear adventure, but rather a woven tapestry of both the amazing and the mundane. I skip from memory to memory with huge gaps in between. It is only fair that my mind not keep every little step, breath, and trip to the bathroom cashed. But there is so much life in between my memories. That time is lost, but what I have is honest and important. Those are the  stories I tell myself.

Sora, 3 seconds old

My memory of the births of my children is beautiful. If it were art, it would be my Museum Art with the rest of my life as Fridge Art. My memory of both births includes vivid and clear points that will be with me forever. I would time-travel back again and again if I could. I love Sora’s story. It was 20 minutes from “my tummy feels weird, I wonder if this will turn into labor” to having her in my arms. It was an intense, nearly painless, overwhelming, and amazing experience. I felt so in love; with my baby, with my partner, and with my body. I have a quiet story, too. The story of what went on inside of my mind and deep down in my primal spirit. But I am also grateful that with Sora, I have a video of part of it. I wish that I had more; the 5 extra minutes of labor before the recording started, the 5 minutes afterwards. What I do have is wonderful and precious. The little folder on my hard drive of pictures from that day is so important to me.

I grieve that I do not have these things for Zion. I do not have a video, photos of the birth, belly cast, or witnesses. What I do have is a story.

The story of my labor is memorized like a favorite move re-watched so many times. I sat with it alone and in quiet. I breathed in and out, slowly, with excitement and joy. I made myself a System Restore Point. As I sat there on the dingy white armchair, alone that early morning out in the country, I put to memory my experience.

I remember the exact shade of ivory that the walls were painted. I remember the first time that I heard the word “ivory” used to describe a specific shade of white. I was 9, and I was going along with my mother as she looked at wedding dresses. Some of the “whites” were yellowy or blueish, but she was looking at one that was ivory. I was sitting on the floor, playing with a plastic tag and a black clip, listening.

I remember the smell of the room, because I had made soup the night before, and the kitchen was still very messy. The room smelled like soup, Nag Champa incense, and Simple Green.

The sun was coming up and breaking through the fog. It cascaded through the window behind me, and I could watch the light increase on my hands… Hands that were flat, palm down, on my legs. I would close my eyes, take a deep breath, and feel a wave come over me. In each wave, I talked to my baby. I asked Baby if it was ready, and I let Baby know that I was so happy. Several waves came and went, with my eyes closed. It was a rocking, like the ocean. Zion, an hour oldAfter a while, the waves were crashing into me, and I was a bit shaken. I opened my eyes and the light on my hands was glowing bright. The whole room was on fire with sun and reflection. I realized that I was in very intense labor, and that Baby was indeed ready. I stood to move to the bath tub. When I stood up, the waves that I experienced before turned suddenly into an intense, never ending, waterfall. I walked slowly with a waterfall inside of me, and started the tub. The warm bath took away my intense waterfall, and I relaxed. A few deep breaths and one really intense push later, Zion was born. Right into my hands, in my bath tub, into his life, my baby.

I was calm. I was giddy and calm. I sang and sang and Zion looked deep into my eyes for a better part of an hour. We sat together in the tub for nearly an hour, him nursing, and our eyes never looking away.

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Birdhouse in Your Soul
January 4, 2010, 6:04 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

What Other People Think of Me…

none of this.

… is none of my business. It is liberating to remember. I chronically struggle in this preoccupation, like having seasonal allergies. When afflicted, it pendulums between a persistent dull discomfort to a more severe agony. Other times, I am free of this concern completely, and feel a sense of abundance. I can attribute my troubles to many things; a lonely and invalidating childhood, poor choices in friendships, lack of stability, DHS PTSD*, being an intense person (etc, etc, etc). However, when I am centered and confident, these things don’t get me down. I tend not to dwell, and I am at peace. When I am happy, I feel on top of the world, and to that end I am grateful that I am often a very happy person!


Just Because it is True…

… doesn’t necessarily mean it is applicable. I am sensitive and aware of people and patterns. I easily tune in, and I have a strong memory. I notice trends, and I often can see or feel certain things both intuitively and using basic logic. And I am happiest when I take note and move along. I have no interest in being other adults’ emotional babysitters; it is not my responsibility. If I feel like there is more to the story, there probably is. If I sense that people are talking about me behind my back, they probably are. If I notice change and inconsistency and resentment, then I have strong observational skills.

I do not have to act on any of these, base my assessment of my value on it, or change. My condition does not have to match the opinions of those around me. My experiences do not have to be shaped by opinion. I have the power of choice. I am a consenting and aware adult. If I don’t like the song on the radio, I have every right to change it. Or I can shut up and deal until it changes on its own. I certainly have no excuse for feeling victimized.

Have I Mentioned…

I need to pause when I feel agitated!

… how empowering it is to have boundaries? I am reminded of middle school English class: use active voice, not passive voice. When I exercise good boundaries, I do not feel passive. If I am swinging on my pendulum, it is a fair guess that I need to review my boundaries. When I respect myself, I tend to feel respected and valued. The easiest way to feel respect for myself it to honor my boundaries.

I think of a washer machine: Pause when agitated.

Just pause. Then rinse. Let it spin dry before calling it clean. Trust that the dryer will catch the fuzz and lint.

If I feel like I must act, it is usually time to be still. If I want to balk and avoid, there are things that I need to do. When I am still, I am listening to myself and honoring my needs. If I remember to do that first, my footwork can take me further. When I feel stuck, it is time to move forward by simply doing the next right thing, again and again. “Baby steps, Bob.”

Oh Duh:


I realized recently, that if I am feeling lonely, it makes more sense to reach out than to sulk. I know, right?

Blue Hair:

Zion really wants to dye his hair again. Blue (again). I have no problem with this, really. It is easy to do, it does not damage his hair, it will eventually wash out completely, and it looks pretty neato. I find myself (irrationally?) anxious about helping him have radically vibrant hair right as he is starting a brand new school… in the middle of the year… with a well-established community that all know each other. This is more alternatively-slanted charter school. I am sure that it will be no problem. But I just want my kid to be liked. And for no one to speculate that I am in some way a bad mother*.

I’m going to let him do it, of course. I think that he will have his mohawk touched up soon, too. I stand by my feelings that hair is such an available and harmless personal medium for expression, design, and play.

Song of the Day:

Construct a miniature aviary domicile in your metaphysical theory of spiritual consciousness.

* A scrambled brain concerning past and current affairs involving my biological siblings and family composition.



Family, examined.
December 31, 2009, 7:25 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Danger, baby

Danger, danger! High voltage!

What is it about power cords that captures Sora’s undivided focus? I have “High Voltage” (by Electric 6) running through my head within ten minutes of getting up in the morning. Before we experienced the end of her 4th month, Sora was crawling. Her movement was motivated by a simple drive; to get to the power cords. This unfortunate obsession is creating a frustration dynamic.

Poor Sora, plopped down in the middle of the room with all of the wonders Little People and Melissa and Doug can provide, is instantly in motion, over and around her toys and darts at breakneck crawling speeds right to the closest outlet. The result is predictable; she is thwarted, softly scooped up, kissed, commented on, and set back down again with her toys. At first, she just changed directions and headed for new and exciting electricity allure. Recently, however, the calm waters of this Cancer have become stirred, and the result is remarkable. She will see me walking towards her, and she will crawl faster, and start to protest my predictable swooping arms by screeching. Regardless of how I try to soften my approach with smiles, song, announcement of my intentions, or efforts to distract, she is enraged. Sora contorts her body into a lower-case “n” with her back arched, head thrown, and arms flailed. Then she hits me in the face, over and over, because I am obviously too dumb to understand her clear communication. Stupid mommy.

Sora: "I am surrounded by IDIOTS"

Today I am going to try again to come up with a solution that helps limit Danger Baby’s tragic frustration. The easiest solution is to keep the cords off the floor. But with network cables essential, power cables dangle, and outlets accessible, this is a task easier said than done.

We have some objects that are cordy and pluggy that she can play with. So far, the outcome is a mixed success; she does enjoy the provide cordy-pluggy “toys” and focus plays for a while, but the enchantent of the more forbidden objects wins over the allowance of the un-deadly. She eventually abandons her safe objects and crawls quickly back to the outlets. Progress, not perfection, hah!

Burning Up:

There are times when I feel like my heart may just burn up with love. My children and my partner* amaze me daily, and the love that I feel for them triumphs time and time again over even the meanest anxieties, self-doubt, momma guilt, and even sorrow. Love is powerful. When I love, I am not in fear. The sounds of play are a panacea.

Two beautiful dudes.

TJ** makes me laugh. Several times a day I am overtaken by glorious fits of belly-gripping, side-stretching, face-paining laughter. I have never before in my life felt as loved, respected, and collected as I do with him. This is not a relationship that formed easily, under typical circumstance, or with smooth development. But we are strong together. We have worked through so much and we are strong together. I am hit with waves, daily, of love so intense that it makes me light headed.

It is not always easy, usually because we have a hard time with simplicity. TJ and I can, at times, take each other on lavish emotional benders, no expense withheld. We can be very, very immature and let our natural tendency towards antagonism turn into malice. We have many tools, and we add new ones to our collection frequently, but there are times when struggle, strife, and conflict ambush our happy little bases. Pain is the corner stone to spiritual growth, right? One day, we will be spiritual giants! It is during times of fear, pain, and stress that we have learned to come together, not pull apart. When we connect, it is a powerful and positive union. When we remember to un-complicate things and take simple bite-sized efforts, our partnership is highly functional and very supportive.

During times of play and peace, we are a blast. When it does not come easily on its own, we try to manufacture this time. It reinforces our relationship, adding strength when we feel weak.

A reasonably happy guy, most of the time

Wes is a sweet big brother. I feel honored when I can sit back and observe him shining in a mentor roll. On a particularly rainy day recently, he sat for an hour reading with Zion. They each had a book, and Wes stopped frequently to teach Zion tricks and tips about sounding out words. Later, Wes took him step by step through the process of making nachos, complete with key things to remember (“the goal is to make each platter the best nachos you have ever made, that way they always get better and turn out delicious!”) Zion has since made himself nachos several times.

I adore how Sora calls out Wes’ softest side. He is often heard cooing and singing to her. Regardless of where we are or if he is around his peers, Wes will sing to and baby talk with Sora. More than once she has interrupted a teenage thunderstorm mood by simply catching his eye from across the room and beaming a huge open-mouth baby smile his direction.

Wes is the Worker of Lighters when there are firecrackers to be enjoyed. He is the Reacher of Heights when there are things to be explored, and the Keeper of the Pocket Change when there is a walk to Taco Bell to be traversed. He is the Gate Keeper into the appealing and confusing world of “big kid”, and to Zion, he is the coolest person alive.

An amazing connection

Zion and Sora have a connection that is almost unreal. I am in awe. “I am going to be a perfect big brother, just like Connor”, says Zion. Wes smiles and says, “You know, Connor is like a big brother to me, too.” Zion really is a wonderful brother to his baby sister. I was curious if they would have a make believe land together, or if age would exclude them from some of that shared magic. I am warmed to watch Zion and Sora play together throughout each day.

When Sora is distressed, nothing reassures her effectively as Zion. They squeak to each other, and laugh. I listen to Zion, and I hear bits of myself, splashes of Wes, and echoes of generations of mommas and siblings singing and soothing their babies. He is so intentional, connected, and intuitive. I am aware that this is largely a result of modeling and example, but some of it I attribute to his constitution, to Zion’s very nature. In this way, he is of myself. In this way, he is of Connor. In this way, he is also unique; sometimes he is my mentor.

Raven: the perfect mixture of Soft and Strong!

If you ever need a baby to let go of the fight and take the needed nap, hand that bundle of fussy cuteness to Raven. She has the rock. She has the sway. She has the right whisper, too. Raven: expert fort maker, supreme dishwasher unloader, and the only 13 year old ever to have her head straight.

Topic- Influenced Tangent:

It is still surreal; a Raven without a Tavvi (like a Wes without a Connor). Having Raven over is natural and an embraced family composition, but even still, everything reminds us of Tavvi. I can only hope that she knows that she is loved. Since it is a new year, I find myself with hope on the magic of transition that this year will see a reunion with Connor and Tavvi. I could have made this my Rant*** for the day, but I am trying to be more positive about this than ranty (at least right now). Things are warm and filled with love and light… I tend to want to lean towards the power and productivity of anger**** more than the sharp reality of sorrow, but I don’t want to be mad right now. I guess that there is power in embracing feelings for what they are, too. Right now, everything is okay, I am just sad. I miss Connor and Tavvi so much.

A Word On Forts:

Sometimes my initial response to any request is “no”.

This is a red flag to myself that I should hang an “out of order” sign around my neck and figure out what is buggin’ before I do much else. Maybe I just need to put down my coffee cup and make a sandwich, or maybe I need to examine a trigger for anxiety and delve. Sometimes simply taking a few deep breaths and becoming willing to be flexible can elicit a more calm and playful part of my parental MO.

This is fun, not stressful (my mantra)

For whatever reason (mess) I find that something (mess) about forts (MESS) stresses me out (it is the mess). I have discovered that forts are magical to children. And I don’t hate magic or children. I actually love constructive play. LOVE focus non- INEEDYOU activities. I like Imagination Land, picnics, and spontaneous child napping; all things engendered by forts.

I have decided that I can have boundaries without being a bitch, and that kids can play without me, well, being a bitch! No, you cannot take down the tapestries from the wall, but yes, you can use the chairs. No, thumbtacks cannot be part of this, but do whatever you want with your toys. Make a mess, just clean it up when you are done (WHY did this take so long for me to master?). Here is my favorite one: do it in your room so that I don’t feel tempted to micromanage, and you can be free of the oppressing energy of my own mess PTSD. And here is where the older girl energy rocks! I know that Raven will help Zion and other children clean up. I know that she will supervise all variety of fort shenanigans. And really, it helps me be off the hook because I don’t want to be part of the construction crew.

Forts are cool. I forgot this somehow. I am glad that the kids reminded me.

Hah!:

I remember hearing this on Doctor Demento, and since then, I cannot help but say the words of the song in that particular voice. “Galoshes!”

* not a woman.

** not a woman

*** I decided about two weeks ago that I would do exclusively positive, or at least matter of fact, status updates on Facebook. Light and fluffy, optimistic, or out-right happy. I noticed that I had developed an unattractive trend of whining. I could feel happy and content with my day, and then hop on Facebook and vent about that one little itch… The scratchy tag on an otherwise comfortable and beautiful blouse. But true to my approach of parenting my children, I am parenting myself kindly. If I take away, I must balance and provide. Thus, I can have a ranty space in my blog.

**** “… a dubious pleasure better left to someone more qualified”. My brainwashing has left me feeling Zestfully clean!



Partitioned Day
December 29, 2009, 7:29 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

First Half of the Day:

I find that blogging is best done either in the middle of the day, as I sit inside of my whirling-swirling life, or at the end of the day as a “pause and reflect”. Presently, it is neither. I have that itching stream-of-consciousness feeling right now, though… Or maybe it is procrastination. Either way, when the compulsion hits to sit and write something slightly more substantial than a one or two lined Facebook update, I think that I should roll with it, regardless of the time of the day.

A lack of feeling profound has been the single strongest setback for me, when it comes to blogging or doing anything that feels like I may be exposed or vulnerable in my creativity. “Your art is pretty, but I am the better writer between us. You should stick to art and I will do all of the writing” – said to me by my ex. He was confused as to why I didn’t understand his “good intentions” when I expressed distress. Before and after, I have received many flattering compliments on my writing (more before than after, as that comment did influence a decline in putting pen to paper, or rather, fingers to keys as times being what they are). I have, in my life, received a lot of positive responses to my creative efforts, but it is that one sentence that pops up when I scroll over the topic of “writing”. I need a good pop up blocker. Confidence has been recommended.

yeah, its kinda like that.

“You don’t think I seek external validation too much, do you?”

Impressive, ingenious, remarkable, meaningful; these are all words that I enjoy having attributed to my efforts. I am a byproduct of an Alfie Kohn nightmare. Someone, for the love of god, say “good job” already! When I feel this familiar restless angst, I have learned to ask myself, “Who is your audience?”… it is a humbling question with very humbling answers.

I am just trying to do the next right thing, over and over. “Acting my way into new thinking works much better than thinking my way into new actions.” I typed this out once already today, and it just popped into mind again. I must be tracing familiar paths down that neuron trail of my brain.

My children must get it from me; it is so easy to get “stuck”. I catch myself squinting sometimes, when I am re-thinking something over and over again, or especially when I am trying to move past a fret that I am powerless over. Some people avoid triggers, but every little thing of every little day can be triggering for me. I just try to run my Thinking past someone else before I let it turn into Acting. It is humorous how many times I realize, mid-sentence, how stuck I really am or how insane my thinking is, as I talk it out. I guess it is true enough, that you cannot really think about more than one thing at a time, but if you write it out or process it with someone else, it is much easier to see connections and patterns (related links, heh!).

Some days the path is clear to me, and I intuitively handle situations that used to baffle me. There are many days where I can feel myself moving forward, making changes that support my best image of myself and my intentions and goals. There are so many days where I feel like I have a clue.

Then there are days like today. The “don’t have a clue” days. My vision is foggy, my intuition blurry, and my motivation slumpy. Some days have clarity, but these Stuck days are like trying to see through cardboard. These are the days that matter even more, sometimes. My triumphs include dishes and laundry, not social justice or communicating progressive truth. I feel good about myself that I am parenting intentionally and speaking with love, even through I feel impulsive and temperamental. To quote my recent Facebook status update*:

Some days it is a serious struggle to stay positive, centered, and simple. But when it is achieved, it is these same days that feel the most successful.

Second Half of the Day:

What the heck is that song…? Zion hums and whistles it all the time. It is a guy and a girl singing, there is whistling.. it is popular and new (released sometime this year, as it is heard often on the radio). Zion loves this song. I have grown accustomed to having it stuck in my head. But we don’t know any of the lyrics. I can hear it in my mind, just fine… but I cannot make out any of the words. It has been months and months since I heard it, as we stopped listening to the radio once I stopped driving the van.

UPDATE!:

I asked Raven, again today, if she knew this song. She shared in our misery, because she could not remember the name or the band, either. I begged her to remember any of the lyrics and she says, “I don’t know… something like ‘no, we don’t care about the…” and started giggling. Well, I took exactly that, her piecemeal lyrics, and plopped em into Google, and guess what? Vola! The very first response tells me that our beloved mystery song is Young Folks, by Peter Bjorn and John. And that, folks, is a very elaborate segue into…

Song of the Day:

Out of Context Quote:

“I did that to her and she didn’t even blink… but that is because her eyes are broken” – Wes

Evening:

Wes, Raven, and Zion are all outside in the snow. There are groups of neighborhood kids collecting around them. It is earlier than it feels, because it is dark out. I should not be concerned about kids playing outside at 4:30pm, but it feels dangerous when it is getting dark. I regain comfort when I remember that I can see them from the balcony, and remember that a 13 and a 15 year old should be able to handle playing in the snow with their little dude. But snow makes me feel uneasy. I can say that I am excited for the kids… they are having a great time together. Next will be my favorite part of snow; cookies and hot chocolate in front of the fire. I can get behind that.

Sora loves her daddy so much. She calls him “Bap”. She calls to him, “Bap, Bap, Bap!” Her Bap and her Brothers are her world. It is beautiful.

Rant:

There was court today, in Virginia. I imagine that I am not supposed to know about this. Not because it is a secret, but because no one was going to inform us intentionally. There was a foster care review. We were not provided notice of this, and were thus unable to participate. Again and again we are told that if we really care, we should participate in court. Time and time again the court dates pass, and we never receive any notification or updates. I get sick to my stomach with injustice. Wes gets so upset and feels invalidated. Allegations and speculations are presented, are completely unfounded, but influence decisions made about our lives. It is SO HARD to still be okay. I actually went back a few minutes ago and re-read part of what I wrote earlier in this blog, looking to feel centered again. My mind is heavy and has a soggy feeling. My heart hurts. I am thrilled that my mother is now legally divorced and can pursue freedom. I keep thinking to this to help pull me out of a funk, and it is helping.

In Other News:

The new Doctor Who Christmas Special (part one, of course) is just intense.

We get to see Donna Noble again, Wilfred Mott joins up with The Doctor, and we are chilled to our core when the Master returns. And Time Lords and Ood Sphere and the gearing up for a regeneration. Epic.

Preview for part two…

*Shutup, I can totally do that.



Nerf and Nachos.
December 28, 2009, 6:32 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Happy Dance:

I am sitting aside from the kids*. I suppose you could say that I am “parallel playing”; no one needs me, my attention, or my interaction. I am careful not to accidentally mess up their dynamics together by interjecting or interacting.

Sora is focusing on her toys, putting things in and out. She pauses to watch the other kids each time their voices raise or they hit a new level of social animation. She crawls from wall to wall, collecting Nerf darts. The other kids are in the kitchen making customized platters of nachos and finishing off the fudge. This is just a short hiatus from the Epic Nerf Wars,** several hours in. The Nerfing has an ebb and flow; the kids step outside of the make believe for essentials like cold orange juice, texting their friends, and using my fancy sipping chocolate to make mochas that they will not finish. In a short time, they are back to War. This is Play that is vivid. They are in it 100%, mind and magic.

Things you may never hear again: “Careful not to drop guns on the baby, ok?”

So much giggling. Not manic “someone is going to have a melt down” giggling, but centered and content kid giggling. Needs are met. Expectations exceeded. And I have nothing to do with it.

Out of Context:

“Moral of the story, Alex, you mess up toilets and ruin pie.” – Wes

Rant:

Well, I am not feeling very ranty today, so do not expect too much out of this!

The maintenance crew has not made it over to fix the hinges on Wes’ door (the doors came installed with screws that are very short and come out over not-much time). Oh, my cell phone does not get very good coverage in my house, and since that is my only phone service, I find this to be major lame.

Clear said that they would refund us for the cost of the products and service once we return the modem, etc. So, they emailed us a pre-paid postage to print off. Our printer does not work. INCONVENIENCED!

Today’s Song:

I have “Too Fake” (by Hockey) stuck in my head. While it may not be anything to write home about, I like the song a lot. 🙂

* Today this means Sora, Zion, Wes, Raven, and Neighbor Kid Alex

** The neighbor kid, Alex, is a Nerf fanatic. He carries a small briefcase containing a variety of Nerf ammunition. He has sparked an obsession, and now Raven, Wes, and Zion are armed and foam-dangerous. Sora is chasing darts at breakneck crawling speeds.