Monday, February 25, 2019

Bringing Big-Picture Love to Small-Picture Life

My kids go to a mommy’s day out program twice a week (when they’re not contagious). So like once a month, I pile us into the van and I drop them at this place that loves kids, everyone’s kids, and takes such good care of them and it feels wonderful and relaxing.

Then I either drive around like a crazy person running errands all day, or I drive home and I write, or clean, or eat. Alright I ALWAYS eat.

All the stuff I don’t want to share or can never seem to finish while warm with two babies in the house. Ahhh, the steam rising from my tea mug and the butter melting into the blueberry muffins and the sharp tang of fresh blueberries with a sprinkle of cinnamon? Oh, heaven, there you are.

And then you know what I do? I hang onto my phone and obsess over the pictures they send me of the kids and I marvel at their perfection, at their beautiful, sweet faces and I am amazed I get to be the one who calls them mom. I am so, so lucky and I can feel all the love, a tidal wave of love, crash over me so intensely I finally, finally understand how a mom can lift a car when her child is in danger. What could I not do with this love coursing through me like an overflowing river raging through my heart?

What if I could hold onto that feeling while they’re pulling out each other’s hair over who gets to play with the blue bouncy ball they found under the couch, covered in dog fur and dust?

Well, this is my goal as a mom. Bringing my big-picture love into my small-picture every-day life.

How to do that? Asks every mom, ever, throughout all of time past and future.

I start by letting go of my need to reach this goal. Because being a loving parent starts with knowing it isn’t about perfection. It’s about finding my own space and peace first, getting myself in this aligned state of big-picture love. Everything else flows from that.

I need a little solitude to get into that grateful-love space where I feel I’m the best ‘mom’ I can be, and once I let go of the inner critic that says I shouldn’t need it, I feel great. I feel open and free and ready to be the kind of mom I want to be.

A mom who makes her children feel like they are really seen and understood, and loved so much they could never, ever doubt their own intrinsic value. And I want them to feel that every day, for as long as I am alive and after that too, eh? 

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Turning Your Face To The Sun

I love life. Isn’t it beautiful? Isn’t it amazing and wonderful? Isn’t it surprising and delightful? Isn’t it full of miracles big and small?

Helen Keller said ‘Keep your face to the sun and you will never see the shadows’. And that lady knew a thing or two about shadows. She’s also one of the brightest lights in our Western history.

I decided a long time ago, while in the middle of the biggest, meanest shadow, disease and death; that I was going to turn my face to the sun. No matter what the outcome had been, that was the right choice. If I had two months or two hundred years to live, that is the only way to truly live the way we were supposed to live.

I also learned along the way to prepare for the worst, hope for the best. I prepare quickly, than I don’t look back. I LIVE in the hope. I breathe, eat, drink, and sleep in the hope. We’re not supposed to wallow in the shadows. We’re not supposed to grimly ‘mush-on’ through the pain to get to some sweet future destination.

The journey IS the destination. Look around you now, right now for joy. Start listing all the miracles big and small in your life and once you start it’s hard to stop.

If you can’t find joy look for grateful. If you can’t find grateful look for satisfaction. If you can’t find satisfaction look for solace. If you can’t find solace, look for hope. If you can’t find hope, look to anger. Yeah, I know that sounds counterintuitive.

But when you’re down so low you feel helpless, powerless, and depressed, than anger is a good first step out of the pit. Anger puts the power back in your hands. Anger gets you off your butt and gets you moving. Hopefully not toward anything homicidal…then reach for the next best feeling. And the next.

I’ve found comfort in nature, in the sound of wind chimes and bird songs. In working with deep earth, and warm bread dough. Sometimes, just the thought there’s a God out there who loves me and wants the best for me is what I reach for.

We were created out of a hope so piercing it stitched us from out of time into physical bodies. We were made for joy. We were made for creating and playing and communing with God, with our deepest spiritual natures, and with the frivolous world. We were made for fun. I know we were. We were made to find the humor in our circumstances.

We were made to trust that we are always going to be okay no matter what. That if we turn our faces to the warmth of the sun all we will see will be kissed in sunshine and the dazzling light and energy of hope.

And the shadows we can’t see will have to fade away.

Anyway, much love from me to you, whoever you are, wherever you are in your journey. Turn to the sun; ignore the people trying to point out the shadows. We don’t live there and we don’t see them.

Saturday, February 09, 2019

When the Kettle Quits

I drink a lot of tea. 

Green tea, mostly and all the varieties that come with that. Matcha. Sencha. Gunpowder. Bancha. Even Genmaicha; green tea with bits of puffed rice in it. White tea. Chamomile. Bedtime Tea. Tea for colds, tea for antioxidants. Tea with Kombacha in it. Tea with other kinds of tea in it. Green tea with citrus notes and lemon grass cuttings.

I love the variety, trying new ones, falling back on my old favorites when I need the comfort of a steady flavor.

I know you don’t pour boiling water over the delicate white or green teas; you wait a minute or two until it’s cooled a little. Then you pour it over the bag, the sound of the hot water hitting the bottom of my mug, the swirl of the tea bag in the steaming water. The clink of the electric kettle being set back into its cradle.

It’s a morning ritual I love.

I wring a lot of joy and comfort out of those first few minutes of my morning, usually with the black pre-dawn air pressing in at the windows. Usually with Benji perched on my left hip, my right hand free to click down the button to start the kettle, the very first thing I do. Unlocking the back door for Toby to go do his morning business, turning the porch light on for him so he can see.

The sound of the water beginning to boil - rising in volume as I putter around the kitchen getting Benji his juice, trying not to wake up Ellie.

Today, after we got back from a family outing to the Galleria mall (so exciting, a mall in the big city!) I clicked the kettle on. The familiar red light didn’t shine to me, it’s cheery light letting me know it was working on my water. I clicked a few more times, unplugged it from the wall and plugged it back in.

I let out a thin, wordless cry of disbelief. Click. Click. Nothing. Nooooooooooo.

I heated the water up in a pan this afternoon. I can assure you, it does not taste the same. It’s all tinged with the iron from the pot and I swear I can taste the myriad of flavors from all of the vegetables and pasta we’ve cooked in the pot over the last ten years. Ugh.

It occurred to me the kettle was a good metaphor for life.

Sometimes the things we love the most stop working. Or being. And all of the thousands of moments of comfort we’ve collected over the years from its steady performance feels wasted. What was the point? If the kettle was just going to quit on me?

But then I remembered a beautiful truth. Now I get to buy a NEW ONE! Yippie!!

Did I just devote this entire blog entry to my kettle? Yes, yes I did. May she rest in peace.

I’ll have to break in a new kettle though, that’s never fun. It smells all new and plastic-like from the factory. You have it wash it well, run the water through a few times to get rid of the 'new' taste of it.

The lever you click down to start the water is stiff, unyielding. It takes time for you and your kettle to settle into each other's ways.

Anyway, I guess I just wanted to say, if the kettle quits, just go get a new one, eh? Then drink on my fellow tea-lovers, drink on!

Sunday, February 03, 2019

A Renewed Vigor for Health. Or, Ange, the Almost Saint

Quickly - I just want to say...nothing against the Rams but it should be the Saints tonight - having said that, may the best team win!

Alright, I did miss last weeks blog. For the first time in almost four years of blogging weekly! Wow I'm nerdier than I thought.

Anyhoo - last weekend all heck broke loose inside Angela’s Body. 

Flu, sinus and chest infections and all manner of pestilence and plague descended upon me.

I finally dragged my hippy-I-hate-doctors-offices-butt to the doctor last Friday. Getting me and the kids dressed to go into public took herculean effort.

She gave me about seven prescriptions, one of which was an antibiotic that caused me to throw up anything I’ve ever eaten over the last three years and to be unable to eat at all for the next three days. Now I’m finishing a different antibiotic that may or may not cause me to lose my mind and have hallucinations.

Fun right? Stay tuned!

Meanwhile, Benji and I are potty training. We’re learning together how best to train him, not me, I’ve been potty trained for awhile now, mostly.

So, right after I took the first antibiotic I threw up in spectacular fashion. I won't go into details (so, so much throw-up) then Benji pooped. A big, messy, smelly, mess of a poo and he did not want me to change him. I may have cried. Okay, I cried. I did. Throw-up on the bathroom floor to clean up, smelly poo on a running-away bum to clean up, and all I wanted to do was get horizontal for just three seconds.

So, there is no circle of hell in Dante’s nine circles of hell that include being a sick, stay at home mom of a head-strong potty training baby. But it should. It absolutely should. The tenth level.

I can honestly tell you, while I was scraping poop from underwear (I know, I know, I switched to pull-ups) while trying not to throw up again, snot running down my nose, sore throat, body aching, fever of 101, coughing like a seasoned coal-miner thick with black-lung - I was thinking this all has to be punishment for something. 

And if not, well, then I’ve been cleansed into sainthood. I’m either a terrible person deserving the worst punishment I can think of or I’m a cleansed and cleared Saint. Saint Ange! Whoot!

When Bill finally got home Friday night I collapsed into bed and scrolled through my list of sins from the last week. I didn’t open the door for the mom I saw coming across the parking lot Wednesday. I gave the kids too many snacks before supper, and I shouldn’t have let them have ice cream every night for dessert for the last three nights. What else? Toby should have had a bath two weeks ago. I let them watch Toy Story 3 three times one day last week when I was starting to get sick.

All my sins logged and noted and evaluated. Confirmed. I did nothing to deserve the epic suffering caused by cleaning poop after throwing up while in the middle of the flu and various infections.

Was it a sin to think being a stay at home mom isn’t a real ‘job’, and that anyone can do it? Maybe. Because no sir. No they can’t.

One long-standing, completely false belief obliterated? Check. The cloak of unworthiness ‘no, I don’t work, I’m JUST a stay at home mom’ burned off in the haze of gritting through the days alone with two toddlers while so sick just getting out of bed took so much out of me I had to lay back down on the couch to recover. Who does that? Amazing Amazon stay at home moms, that’s who.

Then both kids got sick.

I’m not throwing up anymore so it’s all ‘might as well wipe two more noses while I wipe mine’ kind of deal. It’s all good. So we all sound like seasoned coal miners with black lung, plus the ‘potty timer’ goes off every 45 minutes to check if Benji needs to potty.

Basically the sound track of my day goes like this:

Ping Ping Ping Ping Ping
Time to go to potty benji
Ping Ping Ping Ping Ping

But you know what? I can eat. And keep the food where it’s supposed to be. And I’ve got a renewed and fierce desire to be healthy. Look out 2019 – I’m eating all my vegetables, drinking lots of water and I’m ready to rumble. And, I’m kind of a saint now, so, there’s that.

The Brothers Cuomo

Recently Governor Andrew Cuomo has said that New York state is a microcosm of America. They’ve got the big city of New York, but also rur...