Friday, July 1, 2016

Digging Myself Out

It's been an interesting year for so many reasons, but one of the catalysts this past year has been going to counseling. I will continue going to counseling for the rest of my life, it has been that beneficial to me. I am ready, I think, to put a little more time between visits, but for me, it will be a thing to keep checking in with.

I have always felt I am a very transparent person. I connect well with people and don't really find it hard to make friends with people. I can talk surface, I can talk deep (my preference). I love finding out who people are, what makes them tick, why they do the things they do. I believe I am full of empathy, and I struggle sometimes because I can always see BOTH sides and *FEEEEEEEL* both sides. People that aren't like me interpret that as me being ambivalent about truth. I'm not. I do think that people generally, with a lot of exceptions obviously, aren't out to be assholes. They are that way or said that thing or behaved that way for a REASON. I feel pretty skilled intuitively and usually can figure out the WHY.

So here's the thing.

Knowing WHY doesn't make it okay.

That's what I have been wrestling with. That's what I had to pay someone to tell me. ha. I try so hard to understand other people, that I actually am NOT being transparent with my own self. When I feel angry about something, my first response is, WHY did they do that? Well, that's why they did that and I would feel that way too if that was why I did it too. So I get it. They just need more grace, I can't be mad. It is what it is. Everyone's doing their best.

I'm working really hard to make room for my own emotions in all of this. And it's been a life changer. Do you know what has happened? The more I dig out my own self, the more art is coming out. It's crazy to me, but it really shouldn't be all that surprising.

I used to paint all. the. time. I would sketch and draw and paint and fiddle around with anything that was in that creative realm. When life got hard, I put it aside because it took so much mental and emotional energy to deal with life. I shouldn't have done that. If I had only turned to it, maybe my recovery journey would have been easier? I remember doing a painting for my sister. I spent hours on it--when Ryan was working, when the kids were in bed, when the house was cleaned, when the laundry was done. (Want to guess how long it took me to finish when those were the requirements to even pick up the brush?) Every time I would hit... that point--which I have since realized is called "flow" by some people... I would cry until it was time to put it all away for the night. I didn't get it, but it felt good. Even afterward, when I would think about those moments painting, I would cry talking about it. It was embarrassing. I didn't get it.

Now I get it. I can't paint unless I'm tapping into my emotions. When I cover them up, when I deny they exist, when I pretend they are something other than what they are, it takes so much emotional and mental energy to manage ... I have nothing left.

So, I am not picking up where I left off. I am picking it back up as a more mature person. I'm picking it up as someone who understands why they need it, not just dabbling because it's fun. I get it now. It's how I cope with the world. It's how I find the good, the true, and the beautiful. It's how I contemplate the glory of God. It's how I process and make room for myself in my own life. This time, I know that I cannot wait until the time is right and the conditions are perfect. I realize I can lose it, so this time I can cherish it and feed it so it grows.

And this all sounds so melodramatic, but I mean every word of it.

Friday, May 20, 2016

The Mystery Handful

Sometimes I get scared digging through my purse looking for something specific. There is always this curiosity, bordering on fear, of what will be found on accident in the bottom of the abyss. I just tried to find my pencil. Instead, I found:

  • 1 knitting needle end stopper thingy
  • 1 small purple rubbery 25 cent machine toy--I cannot figure out what this is
  • 1 lone earring
  • 2 empty gum wrappers
  • 1 traveling hair brush that should really be cleaned out
  • 1 dental floss pick thing
  • 1 glow stick (who doesn't need a glow stick in their purse??)
  • 1 rat-tail comb
  • 1 brochure for a kids' soccer camp
  • 1 small book on OCD (I do not qualify for OCD. . . I'm not sure why I have this)
  • 1 completely empty packet of gum
  • 1 completely empty plastic container for dramamine
Then there is the stuff I WANT to be in my purse
  • 1 pen
  • 1 wallet--not as full as I would like
  • 1 thing of sticky notes--just in case
  • 1 journal
  • 1 book (I never go anywhere without a book. EVER. Except when I do. Then I feel lost.)
Guess what I didn't find? My pencil.

This is a fun game. A couple weeks ago, I reached in to grab my wallet at a checkout... and pulled out a pair of kid undies. Yep. That happened.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Bursting at the Seams

Sunday we were exposed to hand, foot, and mouth. We skipped church. We skipped soccer and all the other activities, just waiting for the other shoe to drop. You are contagious before you even show symptoms. You are contagious for *one whole month* afterward. I take my responsibility to my fellow mothers in the trenches very seriously. Do No Harm.

Finally, last night I let Moo go to ballet. While she was there, Ash, Aayla, and I went to the park. Nope, we didn't get HFM. We got the stomach flu!

Aayla had just wrapped up her successful negotiation asking for money for having well aimed vomit explosions. I realized I was going to go broke pretty quickly; except when they were really tiny, they have never missed the barf bucket. Roughly 15 minutes later, I tried to give her some medicine, but she projectile vomited... right on to Ameira. It was on her face, arm, shirt, pants, and bare feet. It landed on the blanket that was on me, but other than that, I escaped unscathed.

I must say, while I'm feeling a little horrified and queasy for Ameira's sake, I'm pretty much just elated that it wasn't me. I also wish I'd have had Ameira's reaction on video.

I am the world's worst mother. I'm okay with that. My punishment shall be to shampoo the rug and the couch and wash the blankets.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

A Love Letter

My Grandpa's house went on the market last week. He had sold it back in 2003, and the subsequent owners lost it in foreclosure. Before they left it, they damaged it it so badly that the value of the house plummeted. They took out all the beautiful, but admittedly dated, landscaping--replacing it with nothing. They put holes in the walls. They tore down a shed and ripped out trees but left the stumps all around. It was painful to see. This is a letter I wrote for my sister as she was trying to buy my Grandparent's house. There was a bidding war on it, but she faithfully submitted her offer, even though it was below asking price. I am proud that this little letter delayed their decision by a few hours after the time they committed to announcing it. She didn't get the house, but it was a great effort. This letter poured from my heart--I mean every word of it, and I know she feels the same way, which is why I could have signed either of our names.

Dear Owners of ---------,
We love this house. You are probably wondering how we could possibly love this house when we have not been through it. This house is love to me. It is summers at Grandma’s pool, with Schwan Man’s push pops on the sun-warmed, sharp rock patio. This house is sliding on the wooden floors in the upstairs bedroom, like my own mother had done, during cousin sleepovers; we’d quickly pretend to be asleep, but not very well, when Grandpa came stomping up the stairs, trying to sound mad, telling us he really meant it this time and that we really needed to be quiet and just go to sleep. This house is playing in the downstairs playroom and daring each other to see how long we could stay in the dark basement before freaking out and coming back to the safety of the bright lights. This house is the mourning doves cooing on the power lines. This house is hide-and-go-seek in the bushes. This house is the house I want my babies to grow up in. This house is love to me.
This house was a love gift to my Grandma on the day she brought home her first baby, my mother, from the hospital in 1950. It went from a run down, dilapidated house that everyone said should be torn down to a home of love and great care. My Grandparents bought this property for $4,200 and made monthly payments of $28 until it was paid off. They bought it because it was a 20 acre lot adjacent to his own childhood home on 80 acres. His children could run to Grandma’s house. They planted the orchards, they planted grapes, they planted vegetables, they grew chickens, and they grew up six children. All were tended with love. Grandpa gave parts of his land to his children, where they raised their own children close by. I am one of them. This house is that kind of commitment to love for the long haul.
This house was the setting of Grandpa’s beautiful commitment to love my Grandmother through the dark days of Alzheimer's. He spent their meticulously planned retirement money on caring for her at home instead of putting her in a facility. She passed away in 2001. He had to make a new plan for the rest of his life, and sadly, that saw him parceling off the front orchard for housing lots, and selling off his back fields and orchards. This house is love and sacrifice to me.
This house played such a big part in my own childhood. This is the place I learned to swim, had my first friends in my Grandparents and cousins, and rode bikes. I learned to drive on the orchard lanes. I learned to roller skate in the church parking lot next door. This house is even part of Christmas to me. We went to the church service at ---------- Baptist, Julotta, every Christmas morning, and then walked next door for a Swedish breakfast of cardamom bread and an egg dish, called stroda. This house is part of Easter to me because, after church, we would come to Grandma’s house to spend time with all 16 cousins hunting for eggs. This house is family. This house is love.
Our hearts broke after Grandpa needed to sell the house. We understood, but it was a heartbreak. It was a long time before we could even drive down Grange after the next owners let the house fall into such a horrible state. I honestly don’t think it was until you guys moved in and loved it again that my sister Nancy was able to drive past it.
This house is not just a house to cover our heads or a means to an end to me--this house is a family member. It has left a mark on my heart, as I have left a mark on it; my hand print is one of the handprints in the cement. I want this house to be back in my family. I want this house to be my future. I have three small children. I want them to grow up on land that their grandmother and mother tromped through. I want my babies to have this house to explore, and to be able to run through the woods, through their two Great-Aunts’ properties, through their own Aunt’s property, all the way to Grandma’s house. I want the safety of family land for my children to have a place to roam and explore; to make mistakes and experiment just to see what will happen.
I am a better person because of this house. I believe my children will be better people for living in this house. I want them to hear stories about their godly heritage and have something to touch that is symbolic of values I want them to internalize: commitment, unconditional love, valuing people and relationships over things or money, and that family is and always will be a priority.
Please consider our offer, and know that we are grateful you rescued this house-- restoring it to a condition which will allow someone to be willing to take the chance to love it again. I hope we get to take that chance.

With great hope and anticipation,
Alissa ---------

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The Right to Draw

"Too much have we emphasized drawing as an art; it may be an art, if the one who draws is an artist; but if he is not an artist, he still has the right to draw if it pleases him to do so. We might as well declare that a child should not speak unless he put it into poetry, as to declare that he should not draw because his drawings are not artistic."--Anna Botsford Comstock, Handbook of Nature Study. Pg 17

Friday, April 15, 2016

I'm I.

I love people. I love how everyone is so different, yet there are these threads that are so completely the same. I think the only people I really have a hard time being around or liking are the people that refuse to see the value in their polar opposites. We need both groups; we need the super flexible people and the super rigid people. We need the people who could give a crap what others think and the people that make sure that everyone's happy. We need both groups because we need balance.

My family is balanced because I am overly idealistic and Ryan is overly realistic. My children, as a group, seem balanced because Aayla's rules balance Asher's logic which balances Moo's love which balances Aayla's administration which balances Asher's ingenuity which balances Aayla's safety and Moo's reluctance to be vulnerable... and on and on and on. As a group, they can accomplish so much. My rule follower isn't better than my risk taker. My leader isn't better than my pack follower. None of them is better than another because without each other they are overly... something. Asher is overly aggressive without Ameira. Ameira is overly melodramatic without his logic. Aayla is overly bossy without Asher's constant challenging. It just is.

I love that my sister, I have finally discovered, is an ESTP. She is an extrovert, although for a while I was convinced she wasn't. She tested herself and answered all the questions as she wanted to be... and was exactly what Alissa and I tested as, ENFPs. She is so uniquely different, I really didn't feel she was the same as us at all. It's true. She, despite being the youngest, was always the one to bravely face whatever fearful thing it was we needed to do. Alissa wilted like a spinach leaf when it came to handling a naughty horse. Bree took that horse by the lead rope, jerked it, and commanded the horse to obey. Her very presence, so confident and self-assured, convinced the horses that despite her being 1/3 of their height (it seemed), she sounded like she could ruin their lives if they even thought cross-eyed. I believe the stories go that this behavior began when Bree was four. When stuff happens to Bree, she needs time to process it alone, then she's ready to talk about it. It's just what she does. When she gets a crazy idea, it's pedal to the metal, so get out of her way. I love that her husband is, what I believe to be, an ESFJ. From what I'm reading those two personalities are soul mates. I laugh at that because each of them drive each other bananas because they approach life so differently, yet they are so perfect for each other. Jeff can't jump on a project and just go for it to save his life (Hi, Jeff! I appreciate you, don't be mad!). Bree gets so excited and bops between a gazillion projects while they are fun; she would rather blaze through and blow the whole place up rather than drag it out and do things slowly. Jeff said he is the reins and she is the horse. They are balance together.

Ryan and I are so very, very different. As I have said, I am overly idealistic. Ryan is overly realistic. You're probably saying, Seriously? Is there such a thing as too realistic? Well, to an idealist, absolutely there is. I say, really? Is there such a thing as overly idealistic? I only qualify idealistic because I know Ryan would. It's a concession I give. I am an ENFP. Ryan is an INTJ. I love that man more than anyone else in the entire world. I'd pick him again, even though in the past I have sometimes wondered if I really would. I've settled on a solid HELL YES, rich or poor, sickness or health, idiocy or brilliance, selfless or selfish, fit or fat, saved me the last coke or drank the last two by himself, farts in my bed or farts in my bed and throws the covers over my head, better or worse... this man is mine. He's the string to my balloon. Sometimes he needs to be carried into the clouds. Sometimes I need to be secured to the ground. We are balance together. He's not a risk taker or a fast mover (in a different way than Jeff). Sometimes I go too idealistic and dreamy and he builds a foundation for my castle in the sky. But we dream together. My dreams are what if's and somedays. His dreams are when and soon. Neither of us do things because thats the way they should be done. I reject the notion that because something has been done or should be done to be a part of polite society, then that needs to be a priority. Shenanigans. I want nothing to do with it. Neither does he. We are balance together. I would probably want to shoot myself if I was married to an SJ--I cannot stomach being micromanaged... and all those rules! and traditions! and This-Is-THE-Right-Way! yikes. I couldn't be married to an SP because their adaptability sometimes seems inauthentic to me. Do I love people who are SJ or SP, yes. I am thankful for all the S friends I have. I find it hilarious that of the ten or so friends I consider my closest, share-my-life-with-them friends, most of them are ISFJs. Fascinating huh? I just couldn't be *married* to them. ENFP + INTJ = SOULMATES.

Now, Alissa... she's an ENFP. She married an ESTP. They find balance together because she's an exceptionally cautious ENFP. His crazy, risky, wild soul balances her fears (balances, not soothes) and caution.

I just love people. I love figuring out how their brains think. I think it's endlessly fascinating and worthwhile. If I could sit and people watch all day, I would.

Now I've written myself tired, so that's a wrap.


Thursday, January 7, 2016

Wild Game

Before my man went off to save the city from fire on his night off, Ryan took the kiddos out hunting squirrels. My ESTJ child double checked that he had the appropriate licenses before she agreed to go with. The INFP child made sure that her camo matched. The littlest child, who has not been labeled with a personality as of yet... well, his farewell to me concluded with these words, "Bye, mama. Protect yourself. If you need to, use the gun." I love that kid.

Why were they hunting squirrels? Obviously because they are going to make Wild Game Gumbo. The first time he made it he neglected to tell me there was squirrel in it. I assumed it was chicken. I really did think it was delicious. He used up his ducks, geese, some venison, a rabbit, and the "chicken." He also threw some andouille sausage in it. The goose is a bit dark for me and I get nervous about breaking a tooth on an AWOL beebee. I really believe that if he's going to hunt it, we have to eat it. Sometimes, I get a little nervous about our family's collective sanity. He guts the game with the kids, so I guess that counts as science.

And hey, he took the kids out for a couple house and he's cooking. I'm not going to complain about anything.