I didn’t always know it was possible to love a mountain. This one is the one that gets to me… Half Dome in Yosemite. It used to have trees, but now it doesn’t, I can only imagine it with trees. As you go up you sometimes pass by eagles flying below you. That’s wonderful.
One thing about eagles is that they never look up, other birds like hawks do, because they get eaten by eagles, or finches get eaten by hawks, but eagles don’t look up, such is their confidence in themselves.
The first time I heard that, it reminded me of being young. I was kind of a falcon who imagined there were no eagles.
Anyways, things feel like they are lightening up in the world. Like the sun coming back to my hemisphere bit by bit each day, life seems like it will be easier this year (I hope).
I’m doing little things to change my attitude and environment to a new year: changed my wallpapers to the above image, changed my passwords, changed my “color or the year” to red (pink was last year).
Changing from pink to red represents to me, really diving deep into the fundamentals of life, I’ve been very ungrounded for a long time and I’m starting to keep a new agenda, make 1-3-5 priorities, get a bit organized, check in on Coach.me again, make goals again, try to feel like an adult again.
Basically I want to live an INTENTIONAL LIFE, rather than a reactive one, I want to feel like I’m the captain of my soul, instead of saying it, but not feeling it, I want to feel ahead of or in the moment instead of a week or two behind…
I signed up for a cool “stop negative self-talk” presentation that I’m struggling to get through, the kids enrichment actives and daily routines are pretty scattered and chaotic, the family meetings have been abandoned for a few weeks, and I have a (free) workshop about life purpose (ikegai) coming up Thursday that I already felt guilty for missing, because I thought it was two Saturdays ago.
So my life feels a bit too chaotic to me right now, I’ve been trying to take breaks for over a year and it didn’t work out YET.
I recently watched “Less is Now” on Netflix, about Minimalism, it gave a metric for thinking about items, “what is necessary?”, “what is essential?”, “what adds value to my life?”
As opposed to “what sparks joy?” provided by Marie Kondo.
It’s useful to find what sparks joy, but I found I needed more, most of my stuff doesn’t spark joy.
I wanted to take more notes from the movie, but it’s going to take awhile.
An educational game I was playing today about building Rome (Cesar 3) said on level 2, if there is a problem, pay attention to it and fix it, there is no warfare in this area so your success will depend entirely on your management skills.
This is pretty true of my life in general… but there was the feeling of synchronicity that the presentation was saying the same thing.
It was nice that Heather kept talking about the feeling of the problem being the problem more than the event, I often act like it’s stupid what my kids are crying about, because it is usually stupid. Ex my son wants to throw rocks at me and I gently hold his hand and don’t let him… It’s a bit stupid to cry for that, but whatever he feels, betrayal, powerlessness is just as valid as any betrayal or powerlessness that I’ve ever felt on its own. Feelings are valid, but actions can be restricted. Kids can’t be controlled, but they can be guided. There are very fine lines that are tricky and I appreciate Heather telling me about what really works and what doesn’t.
Heather does something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time in finding where neuroscience of the amygdala taking over the mind meets ethics and stoic philosophy.
Ethics being that mom lives matter, that I don’t have to find solutions for my kids problems (though I can try to help them build tools to generate them).
Stoic philosophy being that you “paint your own cloth” (found a great article about that and the pandemic on Daily Stoic today)
A wise man dyes events with his own color.
Heather mentioned a more modern take:
It’s the way we react to circumstances that determines our feelings, not the circumstances themselves.
– Dale Carnegie
What if being stuck isn’t a problem, what if it’s how the problem is perceived that is the problem?
Our kids get stuck when they think they should be something that they are not. Or that life should be different than it is.
– Heather Davis
So, Heather mentions a lot of things I’ve heard before, such as “the obstacle is the way”, “problems are opportunities”, but she really wraps it up tighter with action plans such as the above redirect your mind slides that I was working with earlier.
I want to help my kids make their own charts to redirect their behavior, but I felt I really had to make my own first and really own it, really walk the walk. And that got my mind spinning as to what am I doing now? What did I used to do when things were worse? What did and didn’t work?
The reason I had never redirected their behavior is that I didn’t want to distract or invalidate their feelings, but sometimes they get stuck, so sometimes you let them vent, they vent, it’s over, but other times it becomes more than it has to… sometimes they handle their own feelings, sometimes I try to “name it to tame it” and validate and verbally label what they feel (but it doesn’t work well in our family as of now), I think that you could say “you are feeling bad, it’s okay, but here are some options to try to shift your mind if you want/when you are ready”… I didn’t think of a way that said your feelings are okay and valid, but we could try to shift them if you want.
Which looking back seems silly, but that’s what kept me from trying before, I thought it would somehow invalidate the feeling and be disrespectful, which I think I picked up from RIE parenting, which says don’t jump in all the time, it didn’t say none of the time, but somehow that’s the message I got. RIE is all about “your child is a whole person, they are capable of handling more than you think” but I think I push my little ones too hard like the story of the lion who throws the cub down the mountain to teach them the strength to climb up… sometimes I think I don’t guide them because I don’t know how or how much to guide them.
I’ll mention one last thing she said, because it was helpful for me as a person, she mentioned the skill of “Flexible Habit of Mind” understanding it’s okay to be stuck, it’s not about “them” (you), it’s about having the right “tools” or “strategies”. That was exactly what I was pondering in my last post and I find it interesting for it to resurface exactly at the right time for me to pick it up. Kind of “when the student is ready the teacher appears”-ish.
So, I’ll try to end this extra windy post, but I’ll end with a metaphor I always think about. When I hiked Half Dome, the first time snow stopped me, the second time I was alone and it was a thunderstorm, the third time with my husband, each time it was a special hike. One special thing about that particular 14 mile hike is you have a hard hike to the hike, there is a small but super steep trail that takes you from the nearest parking lot to the start of the hike. The prehike is harder in a way than what follows. Another interesting thing is that the forest is so thick for a long way you can’t see any progress, you move along seeing similar pines and flowers until suddenly it’s almost over when you reach the rock. The rock section has a metal ladder that was put there from the first climbers, which is what made it possible for a novice climber like me to easily get to the top (you don’t have to be a climber at all, it’s a hike with handrails basically).
It’s all very metaphorical for my learning process, the very beginning is the hardest struggle, like the initial decision to try something or drop a bad habit is the hardest part for me, I always feel like I’m not improving as I’m improving (I’m blind to progress), and through the shared work of others greater than myself I am able to do things that otherwise I never would be able to do.
The chickens we eat are therapods, descended from the same family as T-Rex. When times get tough someone who needs “a lot” struggles and someone who needs less suddenly thrives, or at least survives.
In life, the moments we expect to be great, graduations, careers, weddings, births, parties, often let us down, they are often unexpectedly of small significance to our life overall. Whereas the small moments are sometimes the great ones that stay in our hearts like treasures.
My wedding was not the biggest, but it was a lot of planning and stress and some money, conversely, there was a day my husband and I took our dog to a golf course and let her run free and played with her, she ran in wild circles, happy as a bird on the wing. I wouldn’t trade my memory of being free and relaxed and happy with my husband (when we took the dog to play) for anything, but I wouldn’t mind forgetting our actual wedding day…
Real life is a mystery and real people behind the mask become interesting and subtly unique.
I’ve been wanting to live an intentional life this year, been wanting to clear my head, ground myself in the Earth, in the vast universe, in the beautiful ancient starlight that bathes the plants at night, but I haven’t really.
My head is just clearing again, not the clearest, but at least with some amount of clarity above 0%.
What I intended to do was review the same stoic quotes I did last year, one each week.
But I couldn’t even. I didn’t forget, I just couldn’t even.
But it’s not horrible, because I didn’t do what I wanted because I was giving the mental energy and time I had to a worthy cause.
Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.
– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Yeah, realistically sometimes what doesn’t matter more comes first, yet since reading this, the words give me power to try harder to get my priorities correct for me and live by my own values.
That’s one thing Martin Luther King Jr and I have in common, he lived by his values everyday, his were not mine, and I am not him. But I also do my best to LIVE my values not just TALK or THINK about them. It’s not always a huge event, but internally it makes a huge difference to me.
I’m always exploring new values, because my values are not static, I learn about life, I try something new, it works or it doesn’t. It’s a free life, it’s expansive, but it’s also turbulent and draining. Not having a pattern to sew a dress or pants usually means wasting a lot of fabric and I waste/use a lot of effort compared to other people who are more “set in their ways” but I’m also happier with a really low amount of anxiety on average. Because I “lay off” a lot of things that cause anxiety when I can as soon as I can (sometimes I can’t, but often I can).
In an ideal year I would have reflected on these four quotes already, maybe talked about them with my kids already brainstorming how to explain them to a 1 and 5 year old, preferably with visual or kinetic examples…
But in real life I’m starting where I wanted to be mentally 17 days late.
Because I wanted to get my daughter some treatment for her neurological condition and that took so much energy it’s not easy to explain, time wise it didn’t affect us so much, but getting and meeting a new doctor, exploring 9 different options, going over her life with a fine toothed comb to help determine what is going on, getting a diagnosis I had never heard of before (sensory processing disorder), adjusting myself to knowing what to expect and what my daughter goes through, adjusting myself to the rest of the family, trying to fill them in on what I know without them having had physiology or any neurology background, trying to make life work with 2 kids who want more than I can give in a burnt out state… I protected what mattered to me, for once my priorities were straight, and even though exhausted, it’s a triumphant kind of exhausted, even though burnt out it’s a hopeful for the future kind of burnt out…
I’m not perfect, I won’t be EVER, learning this at a visceral level has set part of my soul free.
I also want to set the past on fire and forget it, but I don’t know if it’s true the past has important lessons or if it’s just a weight that holds me underwater? I don’t know my own answer about that yet.
1. “While we are postponing, life speeds by. Nothing … is ours, except time.”
– Seneca (the Senator Philosopher)
2. “You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.”
– Marcus Aurelius (the Emperor Philosopher)
3. “Happiness and freedom begin with a clear understanding of one principle. Some things are within your control. And some things are not.”
– Epictetus (the Slave Philosopher)
4. “Nothing, to my way of thinking, is a better proof of a well ordered mind than a man’s ability to stop just where he is and pass some time in his own company.”
– Seneca (the Senator Philosopher)
1. “While we are postponing, life speeds by. Nothing … is ours, except time.” – Seneca
The first quote is a good fit for New Years, sometimes one can rush through life feeling like our jobs or someone else owns our time (in my case it feels like my kids own it, since I spend it choosing to care for them).
Sometimes it feels like we don’t have time, but “time is all we have” in that we can’t buy things with money without spending the time to browse and buy, we can’t use the things we own simply because we own them, without having the “free time” off of work and then using the time to use those things. Time is a key that all things are accessed with, it’s like insulin that allows sugar into our cells to feed us. To buy we need money and time both, to dance we need energy and time both. Time is kind of the most precious thing we will ever have, but it’s so overwhelming to live with that gravity that it’s easier to turn away from that truth and think either we have all the time in the world or no time at all, both of which are wrong. Those of us living still have 24 hours each day. Not 0, not a life time. Each day we have 24 cubes of time. Our body needs most of it back, sleeping takes a third more or less, working takes a third more or less, of the last third eating and washing, laundry and dishes take some, what is left becomes scarce… different than money, because it isn’t interchangeable. No one can loan you time to live in a normal scenario and you can’t gift someone else time to live in a normal scenario. Do parents give life to children or does God? That I’m not sure. Because some people want children so much and never have them… it seems outside the hands of parents, but I’m not sure. As a parent it felt like it wasn’t me giving anything, but more of being a witness to a miracle that is pretty far from being fully described as of now by science.
I probably needed that lesson, but reviewing it today was the best I could do this year. I’ve been missing things left and right and forgetting things and avoiding making a new set of daily habits for quite sometime. Sometimes parenting gets harder and I take 2 steps back, other times it gets easier and I load up so many “enrichment” activities that when it gets harder again, I can’t bear the same load.
Anyways, summary of quote 1, “in one sense, time is ALL you ever really have.”
January Week 1 in Summary:
2. “You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.” – Marcus Aurelius
This quote was meant for the second week 1-3 to 1-9, it has been the overarching source of emotional strength I turn to when things go wrong. When a family member takes something the wrong way and sulks, when I cut my finger in the beginning of the day, when my kids tell me to die if I can’t get them a pet golden dragon (which I can’t), when a boisterous lady feels like cursing at me while my child has a fit downtown when the baby dragon toy she wanted to buy is gone… and I have to carry her out screaming and kicking and I’m telling her to stop, because it is more than enough for me and I have the parental choice of saying stop or sitting in the middle of the sidewalk and trying to talk someone through a melt down that has never and may never respond like some street lady expects her to respond. The misunderstandings, small cuts, annoying “townies”, childhood meltdowns, culture clashes, the stress of my husband moving, the stress of social distancing, those things are out of my hands. What I have power over is if I take a moment to see how I feel (using Bitmoji to journal it easily), if I beat myself up for not being what I or other people want me to be, if I make a healthy metric for what I can even really do in a given day with two kids (yes some other mom can do X with 2 kids, but what I can do is not necessarily what she can do).
I have power over, if I’m on my side, if I take a moment to see how I feel so I can at least monitor burn out since I was too late to prevent it, if I enjoy the small enjoyable moments that pepper most days despite the winter or despite the drama of politics in my country being a bit “extra” right now.
I was thinking when I was a kid I would have loved to get an ocarina and play it, now we have one, and I don’t play it. I still didn’t, I wasn’t in the mood, didn’t have the energy, but I got thinking about doing it, about doing the things right in my own home that I want to, but don’t do.
I would have liked to remember to check into this quote, but it wasn’t vital, because it never leaves me, this one has gotten down to my bones sometime in the past 5 years that I’ve been reviewing the stoic quotes often.
Quote 2 Summary: Knowing what is out of your hands leaves you the strength to care for what IS in your hands.
January Week 2 in Summary:
So starting week 2, I felt so weak, I looked for strength in music, in nature, and I found it instead in my own attitude towards life, and I didn’t communicate kindly, but I did communicate effectively at least, I returned a lot of baggage my father had put on me throughout the years back to him, it was ugly in the way it aged him so much in an instant, but actually it was uglier for him to expect me as a child and adult to somehow soothe his anxiety rather than him getting professional help or taking action such as meditation or yoga or just facing harsh truths and making changes to his life. Really that was uglier. It’s hard enough to be a child without your parents asking you to do their homework on top of yours.
3. “Happiness and freedom begin with a clear understanding of one principle. Some things are within your control. And some things are not.” – Epictetus
This quote was meant for 1-10 to 1-16, this seems really similar to quote 2, but it isn’t really the same. Quote 2 talks of strength to do things in your own mind and own life, power, quote 3 talks about happiness and freedom. Strength lies directly within knowing you have power over some things and not others, the martial art of jiu jitsu is almost entirely a meditation on that fact, it relies on leverage and torque ie changing what you can (your position) and not what you can’t (the strength of the opponent). Happiness and freedom are not found from this understanding, but instead understanding proactivity is the beginning towards them, a foundation to build upon. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey is very much a longer meditation of the same theme of building happiness on a foundation of proactivity. That book was life changing for me because it gives a breakdown of how to stop being reactive to life that I needed to be able to apply some of the advice (from Never Get Angry Again by David J. Lieberman) that was right, but above my proactivity pay grade at the time.
Quote 3 Summary: Happiness is surrendering what you can’t hold and freedom is owning what is truly yours.
January Week 3 in Summary:
4. “Nothing, to my way of thinking, is a better proof of a well ordered mind than a man’s ability to stop just where he is and pass some time in his own company.” – Seneca
This is the quote for today and the upcoming week, so now I am “synced” between where I wanted to be and where I am, which is nice. It’s okay to be late, but it’s nice to be on time once in awhile.
Challenges I faced while writing just this article remind me why I haven’t finished a book yet, an article is a bit of a river raft and a book is a ship for sea…
Not being able to install a night light app into the new Linux even though I tried… having to decide to risk getting wired at bedtime due to blue light vs red light on the screen.
Worried the typing would wake my kids. But it didn’t.
Gnawingly uncertain as always that it doesn’t matter what I write, so why write at all rather than read or take a break or play a game.
You, the reader, it’s inspiring to write in today’s world, where maybe what I wrote was meaningful or helpful or uplifting or helped someone remember a word they were thinking of to someone out there.
My persistent readers, having so many cool writers that read and comment (and also kind individuals) is very uplifting. It inspires me to write freely, this or maybe someday a book, and also to be more kind. Receiving kindness seems to give me a little more patience, in a way that simply being commanded to be more kind never replicated.
My sister, she worked really hard fixing this computer on January 2nd, without her, I wouldn’t have most of the problems solved I have solved because she is an excellent problem solver.
The Gallium OS team, they are Linux, which supports my Chromebook which is so old it’s operating system is no longer supported, meaning it was abandoned by Google and Chrome OS, but that Linux team supported it so that I can use my same physical computer as a new computer instead of scraping it.
David Attenborough, he made a new show in 2020 at 94… so kind of shamed my unproductivity, but at the same time comforted me to see his new documentary “A Life on Our Planet” (on Netflix right now).
Jean Craighead George author of Julie of the Wolves and The Talking Earth. (from 1972)
Laura Ingalls Wilder of the Little House books. (from 1871)
Scott O’ Dell author of Island of the Blue Dolphins. (from 1960)
Marcus Aurelius author of Meditations. (from 180)
Rachel Macy Stafford, an author, but kind of a blogger first in a way. She runs Hands Free Mama she kept going throughout her tough times and is very honest and open and it inspires me that it’s possible to do all those things.
Actually many more bloggers, Lovie Price, Mark Manson, Nomzamo Madide and Thomas “the Happiness Nerd”. Lovie because she has really interesting insights into everyday life I haven’t seen anywhere else, she also always inspires me to take action towards change.
Mark because he covers intellectual debates and philosophy in a current way and covers a lot of habit change and values based living struggle points.
Nomzamo because her writing opens my eyes to a different level of reflection and social responsibility that widens my horizons externally and internally.
Thomas because he gives me so many suggestions that I eventually try and enjoy, so many solutions to adding mindfulness, or simple joy or shifting perspective to enjoy life more that I always end up with a few that work for me.
I wanted to explore what I love about the authors that inspire me, not as a compliment primarily, but because it tells me a lot about myself, what I like to explore and what matters to me as a reader is not exactly who I am as a writer, but it gives me some clues about perhaps where I am headed.
I guess when support outweighs challenges something difficult like writing/publishing becomes enjoyable and possible and perhaps instead of beating myself up that I haven’t finished something major like a book, I can instead wonder how much support I need to find and accept before I have the capacity to do that, and also be grateful for the time to meditate on where I fit in the world without rushing into a project that turns something I love (writing) into a 9-5 kind of job that leeches the passion out of what I once enjoyed?
I read an article today, by Lindsay Tigar, I want to share.
It was about this major shift in my mind where I just don’t care at all about the struggles of others. I’m so emotionally tired, even though I’m not physically tired. I can’t pretend to care, which is always hard for me, but today I CAN’T.
It was scary, because I was at my normal level, maybe 38% or at best 68%, but today 0%… It was scary, because it was like a light switch going out. I was one way, then I didn’t down spiral, I snapped.
I have been feeling like I don’t have enough support for my kids, husband and extended family for a long time, since last March at least… but now it’s worse, a whole level worse.
On the outside it doesn’t look much different, I did music lessons for my son, I always shower, I took both kids out to play, I cuddled my daughter, it wouldn’t look so wrong from the outside, but from the inside it’s terrifying to know the cupboard is now empty, I’m not being grumpy or worried it will be, it is already empty.
I’ve never felt like this before, so I was worried about what it was.
I read an article that called it “compassion fatigue” and it helped me to have a name for it, know it is “normal” and know it’s probably not permanent.
2. You don’t feel compassion for others.
You used to have empathy for the colleague who always arrived late to Zooms because they were juggling a toddler and school-aged kid while working. Or, you may have gone easy on the recent hire who needed everything explained to them not once, not twice, but three times. But now that you’re eight months (and counting) into a state of lockdown, your emotional tolerance could be waning. According to licensed marriage and family therapist Laura Rhodes-Levin, this is a key signifier of mental fatigue, since meeting the needs of others requires forethought, energy, and consideration.
When you don’t have enough motivation to do routine tasks, giving extra to those around you is all but impossible. “Compassion fatigue is the sense that you just don’t care enough to make this much-needed exchange,” she says. “Sometimes it feels like you are zoned out completely and feel numb and disconnected.” This doesn’t make you a bad person. It just signals that perhaps you need more self-care periods within your week.
One thing that is scary is that it’s energizing to not give a damn about anyone else. If I don’t care 2,000+ people died today it’s a lot easier to get the floors cleaned today, and they look great!
I did care, I felt bad for each family loosing someone, the ill (like my aunt), and suddenly I don’t care.
People thought I didn’t care because I didn’t fear getting sick, that’s two different things completely. I did care. But I don’t. The part of me that did care basically got broken. Someday I’m sure I’ll care, but it’s been 3 or 4 days and a good night’s sleep didn’t fix it and I don’t know if I will care again. Because caring doesn’t help much, it drains me and it saves no one, so why even care and be exhausted by it?
I also stopped drinking coffee and eating oatmeal so that in 2021 my life will be a little different than in 2020. Now I eat potatoes and drink black, green and lavender tea. I really needed 2021 to be different… because I could feel myself at the breaking point mentally.
Until I went past that.
It took three traumatic incidents with my daughter, two with my dad and a small argument over white lies, I think that small argument was the final straw and I went off on my dad for the first time in my life, over everything. I felt better, he felt worse, I felt intellectually guilty, but honestly justified. Lies are easier often, but you pay for that someday, it comes back more often than not.
People can apologize when something is over, that doesn’t repair the damage in and of itself, a good start and a bad finish.
All the messes in 2020 got left as is to be dealt with “when the pandemic is over” my mind didn’t make it that far. Christmas made things worse for me as always.
It’s scary not caring, because I don’t look different, but I DON’T CARE. So all the people I thought cared about me in my life, maybe they did, and maybe they didn’t. It’s hard to know.
But it doesn’t feel like enlightenment, it feels like I’m a psychopath who could wipe out a small nation to raise my internet loading time to read my ebooks with less delay. It feels both wrong and good. It feels like I can breathe again, like I can dance again, even upon the graves of others.
I’m so much less tired. I feel vigorous, but then when my kids cry, I hate them. And I didn’t before. I didn’t hate my kids for crying. I’m not hitting them, I’m tending them, but I do not empathize with their pain, I want them to grow the fuck and shut the fuck up. My kids have been so needy.
So it’s like okay the world is all fucked up, have to deal with that, then my husband has extreme political views and I don’t, so have to deal with that… then I have to explain to my kid why the world is noticeably all fucked up and also seems pretty conflicted in general. I was trying to be nice, trying to make it seem very okay, but it’s not super okay, it’s very almost not okay. It’s like a powder keg, nothing too not okay has happened, but it feels like it’s about to like the end of a Dragon Ball Z episode, every single episode feels like almost a fight will start, but then it doesn’t, but it feels like “any time now”…
Day by day the stress slowly broke my mind until it was broken in the compassion department at least, it worried me, but having a name for it made it seem much more “fine”.
So… I hope someone else suffering from compassion fatigue will feel better about being human or maybe other readers will just know why some workers are so much less nice than normal.
This year my computer is running Galliumos OS, which is an upgrade of the same system.
My husband decided to move out of the house where both my children were born, financially and logistically smart, but emotionally it’s different never returning there again in the same way.
I am living in Hawaii rather than back and forth because it’s in better shape than the area in California where we did live back and forth.
The kids are apart from their dad more, but it’s a better school system, child support system, life style overall.
Looking at my journal from last year it’s easy to see a huge difference in life style,in 2020 on the 1st I was looking at things I wanted to write and reflect on, the 4th I went to the mall (now closed) for $6 dresses I loved, I went to RIE a class for babies to play with other babies for my son (now closed), I went to the Discovery Cube Science Center for my daughter, two floors of fun science displays and toys to play with for kids (now closed), I went to a personal favorite place the Ikea restaurant (now closed), and I taught MMA (now over).
All that in the first 5 days of the year. And this year… none of those things are back, some will never be back for me. I didn’t grieve them, because I thought it was a pause, but the pause became a death or so it seems, a long cryo sleep possibly? More than a hibernation, because it’s been almost four seasons, much more than one.
Civilization the way I knew it is on break.
It’s hard to know if it will come back the same way.
In Long Beach there was once a half circle shaped pier, there was once a roller coaster, constant live music, before I was born. I was born in Long Beach, much later. If I hadn’t read the signs I wouldn’t have known what the city once had been like.
I don’t think life will spring back into the shape it was only a year ago, I don’t know if that is good or bad, or mistaken, but I don’t think it will unpause, I think changes are happening more than a break.
What hurts the most is the martial art’s class I taught gone, that gave me a lot of meaning, a purpose beyond childcare, which I crave so much. Caring for kids is kind of a gift, but it’s not fulfilling in a total way for me doing 1 thing I did before kids made life fuller because it kept alive the spirit of who I was and who I wanted to do and the dreams I hold as an individual separate from my family.
It wasn’t a big class, but it was very cherished, it was the shining part of the week for me to look forward to during all the days and enjoy once a week. Now I’m starting to doubt I will have the courage to restart that, it took a lot to get started, and I don’t know that I will really have the mental audacity left to rebuild from scratch. I really don’t think I will.
Things are so different this year and last year. Last year I was with my husband, this year we are still married, but we live apart.
Last year we had the same home we had since I was pregnant with my daughter, now my husband is moving to his mom’s garage and saving for a new home.
For our family things are very different, but not bad. I’m grateful we are doing reasonably well financially, emotionally, physically. It’s still stressful not knowing when and if we won’t need a mask to go out, if we will be quarantined again by the new president, if places will open, in our area many places look like they won’t reopen… the restaurants, the food trucks, the golf course my dad built his house near to be able to use it all seem like they won’t reopen.
The stress is about half as bad as the food shortages, but it’s still at least twice what a normal year is like. I haven’t been able to maintain all the good habits we once have, but I forgive myself that, I know I did my best considering the stress of being with two small kids during what was quite a tumultuous year.
It may sound the same as when I was examining myself before, but it isn’t. Now I feel strong enough for some changes. The New Year has mentally refreshed me. So before I was taking stock of life to understand it, notice it, integrate it, but now I’m taking a look at what I have and where I am to get ready for changes.
I guess I buried last year in last year, I still bear some scars of it, but no more wounds.
I’m ready to go forward right now, maybe not without a break, or not forever, or not in a way I have a grand plan and concrete steps with real dates of when things can and may happen, but at least in some way I’m ready to go forward. There really is no rush, but I feel invigorated by the New Year.
Recently some black mold started growing on the ceiling of my shower, I grew up in a very moldy home. Mold is political. Some families clean it and other don’t. Mine was a house where no one cleaned. So I had asthma and allergies and generally didn’t like it, but I didn’t know how to clean. Neither of my parents cleaned, I learned the first glimmer of how to do it at work when I was 14. A lady named Ida had rags, she bleached them everyday in a bowl, they looked so nice, they cleaned very well, it wasn’t hard, but it was something never done in my house.
My mom didn’t clean the counters but if she would have she would have used paper towels. She would leave most of the mess behind or smear it around or knock it from the top of the counter to the floor, if she even bothered.
My dad didn’t clean much either, I don’t know if he thought it was women’s work or he just didn’t want to, but he cleans the garage, cars and outside of the house with no problem and shies away from cleaning living spaces inside.
So it was filthy, hoarders filthy, and I suffered health problems absolutely related to it. When we cleaned up the apartment for my dad to move to a new house there were mice crushed to death in boxes, it was too dirty for us to have mice. There were cockroaches crawling under most large things. It’s always been pretty far past a jacket on the edge of a sofa rather than hung up…
And I hated it, but nor did I know much about how to keep up with housework. It was quite awhile before I could contribute to “be the change you want to see”.
Now my sister, my father and I keep a much cleaner home, same people, but better habits.
It’s not perfect, but it’s a crazy improvement. If we were capable of living in a normal range of dirty it makes me feel a bit sad and angry that we lived in extreme filth for so long.
I do more cleaning once a week and just a few basic things everyday and with the same three family member who none of which (including myself) like to clean it’s regular/cluttered instead of condemn-able/extremely cluttered. The clutter is so much of a problem towards cleaning. If a counter has nothing on it I may clean it once a day, if I have to move a bunch of junk it will be once a week or less. I have limited time and energy so I’m not really going to move someone else’s soy sauce bottle to clean a common space, I’m not. Baskets and “launch pads” are invaluable in that regard. My sister has a trey with “stuff” a fish tank with no fish, ext, so I can clean around the trey easily. I’m not going to be emotionally responsible for reminding or encouraging others to declutter, I just get there stuff respectfully out of the way of things that are communal such as cooking areas and worry about my own clutter.
I get really grumpy with a lot of clutter so I hate the Christmas gifts people send the kids that I’m sure are sent with good intentions, but rarely enhance my life quality and not even often the kids. We get duplicates balls when we have balls, cars when we have cars, dinos when we have dinos, we get things that are too advanced or don’t suit their taste, we get a large volume of crap with a small amount of gems. Then I feel either guilty to throw out stuff and hateful to live with it, everyone I offer it too offers me twice as much, somewhere someone would like it, but it’s so far that sending it costs more than buying new stuff, so eventually it becomes part of the pacific trash gyre after I’ve lived with it more than I wanted to until the guilt/hate ratio shifts far enough into hate. I’ve asked two years in a row for “no gifts” the amount my husband’s family respects my boundaries is pretty damn low though, which is both irritating and empowering. It’s irritating because they tell me they respect my wishes and then with their actions they don’t. It’s empowering because I don’t have to treat them with consideration after being treated with disrespect (I still MAY, but I don’t OWE them that).
Went to the beach today, the kids swam in the ocean, my daughter without a floating vest, a year ago she couldn’t swim and was a bit afraid, this year she is a strong swimmer and a happy one. There were sea turtles, including a little one, a rainbow, it was nice. I baked my first bread, it was thick and poor, but not burnt or horribly wrong. The kids made clay, they went to preschool on Zoom for the first time. It’s a good life, but an exhausting one.
I restarted finding one bitmoji image for the day, it’s a way to see how I feel, but it also becomes validating that it’s okay to feel that way and helps me notice my feelings change, I don’t always feel stuck, though I sometimes do.
So goodbye 2020 coronavirus and 2020 pandemic life, but hello 2021 with a full raging pandemic, rather than expect it will be over any day I’m going to assume it will mar most of the year, if not the whole year, and I’ll be pleased to be wrong instead of sad and angry how long it lasted during 2020.
I just finished a book by John Holt (“Learning All the Time”), he was dead when it was published. It was the first book I read by a dead author, dead at the time of first publication. I loved the book, it had a better way to do education, it was 1985 when it came out, the year I was born. None of his advice was taken in the US, but it’s interesting to know solutions were there then.
Perhaps there are also solutions to the pandemic already that just don’t correspond to the decisions the people with power choose to make? If not I’m sure there will some day be solutions. Will they happen? That I don’t know. Will there be solutions, I think so.
The world is filled with bright minds, minds brighter than mine, but so often society punishes those people for being abnormal, it doesn’t matter if you are abnormally above or abnormally below the average, the society I live in venerates the average in almost every way, with the exception of sports and some other things it’s constantly encouraged to be average in a world of natural diversity.
The roman gardens were very straight and controlled, I think in the US every attempt has been made to keep the minds of children and then the adults they become like that, in line, dull, coordinated…
My mind is more like an English garden, ramshackle, with lilacs spilling way over where they were “meant to be,” for so long I tried to prune myself into the average I was told to be and it was a large and painful chore to me.
But I’m done with that.
Kwanzaa was a good vehicle for me to reflect on who I am, who I want to be.
Part of Kwanzaa is the “Tamshi La Tambiko” as we are very mixed I adapted it last year, we are African, but also mixed, I feel strongly that Kwanzaa still exists for us and was unintentionally meant for all of us as we are truly African Diaspora.
THE ORIGINAL TAMSHI LA TAMBIKO: Our fathers and mothers came here, lived, loved, struggled and built here. At this place, their love and labor rose like the sun and gave strength and meaning to the day. For them, then, who gave so much we give in return. On this same soil we will sow our seeds, and liberation and a higher level of human life. May our eyes be the eagle, our strength be the elephant, and the boldness of our life be like the lion. And may we remember and honor our ancestors and the legacy they left for as long as the sun shines and the waters flow. For our people everywhere then:For Shaka, Samory, and Nzingha and all the others known and unknown who defended our ancestral land, history and humanity from alien invaders; For Garvey, Muhammad, Malcolm, and King; Harriet, Fannie Lou, Sojourner, Bethune, and Nat Turner and all the others who dared to define, defend, and develop our interests as a people; For our children and the fuller and freer lives they will live because we struggles; For Kawaida and the Nguzo Saba, the new system of views and values which gives identity, purpose, and direction to our lives; For the new world we struggle to build; And for the continuing struggle through which we will inevitably rescue and reconstruct our history and humanity in our own image and according to our own needs.
– Maulana Karenga
OUR FAMILIES TAMSHI LA TAMBIKO
Out of Africa our first mother and father lived and died, their lives are a mystery to us, but without them we would not be here and their blood runs through our veins and their DNA builds our bodies and powers our cells with energy from mitochondria past directly from our shared mother. Over time we traveled far and wide, from the east country of the rising sun, the middle kingdom, the cold mountains, the islands of endless summer, the country of corn, and the country of the eagle and the snake.
Our fathers and mothers came here, lived, loved, struggled and built here. At this place, their love and labor rose like the sun and gave strength and meaning to their days. For them, then, who gave so much we give in return. On this same Earth we will raise our children in tenderness and patience, seeking a higher level of human awareness and unity intil someday world peace is possible. Our eyes are the eagle, our strength is the elephant, and tour courage is the lion. We remember and honor our ancestors and the legacy they left for as long as we have air in our lungs and love in our hearts.
For our people everywhere then: for all the just defenders of virtue of all times and races, for all those who spoke and speak for human rights and harmony with nature; for our children and the fuller and freer lives they will live because we struggle; for Kawaida and the Nguzo Saba, who founded Kwanzaa, for Mamoe Tanaoe who founded our family, for our own soul which revels to use our views and values which gives identity, purpose, and direction to our lives; for the new lives we struggle to build; And for the continuing struggle through which we all go to live our best lives possible according to our own needs, courage and wisdom.
– Maulana Karenga adapted by Sakura Mendoza (November 6th, 2019)
The reflections for January 1st: “Who am I?” “Am I really who I say I am?” “Am I doing all I could be?”
A note on faith from the past: “Living fully means… tuning into the small, still voice of belief, even when doubt is loud and obnoxious.“
The last day of Kwanzaa is about Imani, faith, for me that’s faith in myself.
So it begs the question who am I?
I don’t fully know that, but I know I don’t like owning dogs and cats, that’s a start. I guess I’m a book and people person, I’m a coffee person, I have kids, but I’m not a kid person… I’m a music person, an idea person, an action person. An honest person.
In this cartoon from the Daft Punks there are blue musicians from another world painted peach and enslaved on Earth:
I guess I’m still unpainting myself, a lot of times when I do find who I am, I don’t like what I find, because when I find doesn’t fit with the life I have, so finding out who I am means work of change and sometimes that’s too much for the energy I really have in the moment.
I’d like to start this year in gratitude, five things that are good right now, 1. My son and I connecting over colors, numbers and letters he is authentically interested. 2. Leaving behind the habit of trying to teach my daughter more than she wants to know now that she knows basic reading, writing and math. 3. That I am much more able to forgive myself and others than I was before. 4. Balloons, we blew up balloons for my sister’s birthday and I just still love balloons. 5. Steam from tea cups, it never gets old to me, the simple things make the day wonderful or bearable, if I don’t let myself enjoy them, there isn’t much to enjoy then.
Inspiration vs excitement, it’s something I’ve been thinking about for almost a year.
Excitement seems to drive many people to do things, try things, accomplish things, buy things, but not me, not that much.
So the question became what does drive me?
One of the things is truth, I’m haunted by truth, I’m bound to it.
If I had the most attractive, easiest to live with husband in the world, and I knew it wasn’t real love, because he was gay, or loved another person, or perhaps no one else, but not me, it wouldn’t be anything to me. I’m sure I have inconsistencies and mistakes in my knowledge, but I just can’t overlook the elephant in the room the way many of my close family or friends seem to be able to do.
I don’t have autism, although one of types causes inability to lie as normal (Asperger’s), I can lie if I needed to do so to save my life, but I hate it, it drains me, it weighs on me.
My daughter was diagnosed today with sensory processing disorder, and I don’t know too much about it, the doctor did explain, but I had never heard of it before so it will be a bit longer until I understand it at a deep level.
My resolution for 2021 is to get a CES machine that can stimulate her vegus nerve to help her calm down. It’s a very specific resolution this year to get and use a CES (Cranial Electrotherapy Stimulation) machine.
I was crying myself to sleep earlier tonight, and for some reason I thought I’ll write, just in case anyone else was crying themselves to sleep on New Year’s Eve, they may someday know they were not alone in that.
I was crying because while my five year old daughter was trying to kick my father, he tripped her and she fell on the floor. She should not be kicking anyone, but she can’t act properly, her brain is a bit stunted. Her prefrontal cortex shuts down, her executive center is approximately like a two year old, even though she is five.
Her father was working at her age, I was attending public school, and my daughter can’t get through 1 week without hitting or kicking a family member.
But she isn’t at the level of a normal person. Maybe someday she will be, probably so, but not yet.
I want to always keep my daughter safe, but she is so annoying she isn’t safe with her father, my father, my sister, and barely me sometimes. I don’t really blame anyone, if you haven’t been with her for 3 hours or more you really would have no idea someone like her existed, unless you have a relative like that, then you know…
The reality is that she shouldn’t have been kicking anyone, the reality is that adults should walk away or put the kids away rather than hurting them, but the reality is that it doesn’t always happen like that either, adults hurt kids, kids hurt adults, families are super messy microcosms.
I really hate that, I love order, I love serenity, I love justice, and families are such gray areas, such disordered meshes of varieties of ethics, personalities, preferences and hobbies, families are ripe with small, medium and large injustice that go unchecked, unexamined and uncorrected.
I’ve lived alone, I’ve lived with family, I won’t deny they both have advantages, but I wouldn’t say family is better than no family, it’s close to even, lots of benefits, lots of costs. In my life, family member were the ones who hit from you, lie to you and steal from you more, not less, but they also cook for you, support you, and keep you alive.
If I didn’t live with my dad currently, my daughter may not have been knocked down with her head hitting the floor. I consoled her about the event, she feels better, she will probably heal physically and mentally, but possibly not, she says she wanted to die because of it, very dramatic, but possibly how she actually feels, who would know better than her how she feels. I worry for her emotions, I worry for her brain, but I already have a doctor for her, I have a treatment plan, we go, we try, it’s not “perfect” but it’s not an emergency in that it isn’t emergent meaning “new”. Modern brain research is that the brain is incredibly fragile physically, a small bump causes micro bleeds, they typically heal well, but each time they possibly won’t heal well. The brain isn’t tough. So I don’t like the whole damn thing, I get it, it happens, in real life it happens, but I hate it.
My father apologized, my daughter apologized, will the brain bleeds mend properly, maybe so, maybe not.
It’s painful because 1. It’s painful to know that I can’t really take a break and have my kids be 100% safe, when they are not with me they are not 100% safe (even when they are with me they aren’t). 2. It’s painful to know I don’t have the family I would like to have where we would protect each other from violence not engage in it. 3. It’s painful for me because my daughter’s brain is already not 100% and getting knocked on the back of the head isn’t the best for improving it. I’m trying to go the other way. 4. It’s painful for me because it’s my sister’s birthday and I wanted the day to be without drama, fighting, emotionally trauma/neediness/counseling my daughter which I hate to do and am not good at.
But I look at the truths, 1. My kids are not ever going to be 100% safe, that’s out of my hands, they get hurt in front of me all the time, 2. I’ve never had a family life I liked, ever, the fact I’m still trying at least says something for tenacity and optimism (I come from a broken family, I hate passive aggressive comments and our beliefs vary so widely that there is more tension than I enjoy), 3. Accidents have, do and will continue to happen, dealing with them is better as a strategy than fearing them, 4. I can want the day to be without drama as much as I want to, but odds are it will have drama. Perhaps someday I will look back and miss the kids, but I very much doubt I will miss the drama, it’s not something I like.
So life isn’t perfect, I’m not perfect, my family isn’t perfect, 2020 wasn’t perfect, but it won’t be perfect in 2021 or ever, I won’t be, my family won’t be, but I’ll do my best, I’ll give my kids the best effort I can. I’ll try not to wallow in negativity, but I don’t turn away from it either, it shows me who I am.
I read many quotes that hate is bad, poison ext.
But one day I found the idea that it protects us from evil, by showing us what isn’t good for us that we are in the presence of evil.
I believe that.
I believe hating my family hurting one another is correct for me, that it will focus me to find solutions of conflict management of adults needing breaks, of safe spaces for children.
Hate drives me to work into the night, to ask an expert, to pay an expert, to not let things stand indefinably that should not be let to stand.
Some hate is silly, some hate is destructive, some hate is not worth it, but I don’t believe the world is a good enough place that it’s not a valid tool to have in my tool box. I still unfortunately find a place for it, if people are stoned to death for silly things like made up adultery ext, that is and does quality as evil to me and I hate it, I realize the whole world isn’t falling apart at all times, but I know there are still evils in the world that I don’t feel the need to forget, overlook, or embrace as if they are not evils.
I don’t have all the answers about myself, about how to live with my family well, but what I find surprising is how much what works for someone else won’t work for me, what works for other children, won’t fit my daughter, how distinct people can be on the inside seems to be so much a vaster range then the outside. I wonder if someday we will have an easy way to see ourselves and one another as we are rather than to seldom find out about anyone else apart from best friends and spouses?
So kind of a dark post, but I wanted anyone else in the darkness to know they aren’t there alone.
Sometimes it seems counter intuitive to name the ugly things in life, and it doesn’t have to be public, but it should be done, to not name them prevents the dissolution of the victim-hood that corresponds to them, when you don’t name them you are tightly bound together, that makes it harder to walk away and not walking away makes it harder to more forward. We are the captains of our souls, but not the captains of the planet, one of the hardest things is to know how much we can do to change our lives and our world and another is how much we struggle to let go of what we can never change in our lives and our world, but there’s always tomorrow to work on that.
Sometimes in our lives, we all have pain. We all have sorrow, but if we are wise, we know that there’s always tomorrow.
– Bill Withers (Lean on Me)
This is the first New Year’s Eve I’m away from my husband in a long time, since we met… but in my heart I’m with him. I wonder if he will notice? Because I don’t know if there is something real that connects people in love or just something imaginary, even after thinking it’s real, I know that I don’t really know.
I don’t know why people from the same families can be so different, why it’s so difficult for people in general to get along and what motivates me to do the things that I actually do vs the things I think I would like to be doing. The world is a mystery, other people are a mystery to me and I am a mystery to myself still at 35.
But I have some peace in my heart because I have hope for the future, hope to do well for those I love who need me, gratitude to those who help me like the neurology team and the makers of the CES, hope that people are generally good and usually do over time find solutions to large and small problems. I have a lot of hope that things will get better and everything will be all right, although largely imperfect if not next year, then the next and if not next generation, then the next, eventually…
The issues my daughter have have been in recorded history for over 3000 years, the treatment has been around for 6 years. For some people this is the best time to have ever been alive, it’s easy to forget that.
20 things I learned from or during being a parent:
Development is uneven, my 5 year old walked on all fours around the national park yesterday. I thought if I let her do it she would get it out of her system, I was surprised at how long she enjoyed walking on all fours. It made me wonder what the other people thought as we walked by, but somehow knowing she is in the middle of an autism evaluation made it okay to me. She has been walking since a little past age 1, but she missed some crawling and felt like going back. For me, I was an extremely entitled person in my early 20s and I am aware that my own development was uneven, though in a more discrete way.
I can’t stand my own kids 24/7 forever, being a stay at home parent doesn’t mean you don’t need time apart, then if the whole world shuts down and you can’t really get decent time apart, I will be grumpy, it’s okay.
Verbal abuse is all to easy to fall into. I of course never wanted to be verbally abusive, I started a bit in my second pregnancy and it took about 2 years to stop. It’s kind of amazing how what you would never say becomes what you said, becomes what you say, becomes what you think is okay. It’s easy to justify things after you do them that you could never justify before you do.
The way you say something is more important that what you even say. I love my kids, but in some moments I don’t. When I’m getting head butted, ext. Everything I say at the time comes across as I hate you, it’s best to just take a moment of a few minutes. All the negativity passes in about 2 minutes for me, but pretty much all my life I’ve been afraid to take 2 minutes. It’s something I’ve heard about and never done. My mom yelled at you NOW, she never talked to you LATER. Now and later are a bit different. I just played dreidel for the first time, one of the four sides (נ, ג, ה, ש) is “nun” (נ) do nothing, it’s very unnatural, but kind of powerful. We often do nothing in life, but it’s not often we decide to actively do nothing.
It’s impossible for me to be a good parent tired. We survive when I’m tired, other people may do well, but I don’t, life goes on but I don’t thrive that way, there isn’t coming back from two days with no sleep and one day with no sleep isn’t the same as a day with sleep. My cup is empty and I’m not magic.
Everything gets repainted and resold. I thought my Ninja Turtles were a brand new concept, they are the Greek four humors. I thought my transformers were gone, they came back. People are so lazy to make up new things old things are forever recycled.
The world of children and the world of adults are subtlety different. I didn’t notice myself moving into the world of children, because I don’t stay up late and watch regular movies, because I don’t make time for myself to read non parenting books because I’ve been trying to put out verbal abuse and disobedience fires for so long this year, because I don’t make time or space for myself. I had forgotten that there was a world outside of baby signing time, melt downs, fits, sibling rivalry, potty training, sleep training, reading, math, science, painting, music ext. I don’t lie to my kids about anything, not Santa, not tooth fairy, nothing, but there world still lacks thousands of units of bullshit from the adult world, it lacks a depth of jadedness, like an inflatable tank the US Army used to make itself look together it lacks substance behind what seems to be the same topic. It’s a bit hollow. My kids know about genocide, about racism, police corruption, but very lightly, they know it can and does happen, but that most people are good and stability reins on an average day. What I didn’t know was how much I mentally moved into that world with them. I leave a lot of myself behind in the conversations I have with my kids and I never make time to talk to my friends, I’m almost forgetting how to speak “adult” or what it was like living in that country.
The world has always been crazy. It seems like things are tense now, but this is no dark ages, no black plague, it doesn’t take much history to get to a worse place, the American Great Depression was worse, the 60s Civil Rights Movement had bleach thrown in people’s eyes and police beating masses of people not a handful. The world has always been crazy, it was a huge lava chunk, the moon was a separate planet that came and collided with it, nearly everything alive has suddenly perished in mass extinctions many times, a meteor bigger than Everest hit Mexico. Romans hung people up on crosses and pulled out their intestines bit by bit to make people behave, those same Romans converted to Christianity and started Christmas in 336 AD. My father was raised Buddhist, but converted with his mom later and wonders why I don’t celebrate that holiday that has nothing to do with my faith nor preferences nor values.
Boundaries are very important. People will take all your time, money and energy and not really care about your well being if you don’t learn “no thanks”. I like to pay myself last and then I find I don’t have anything left. It’s the I didn’t put my oxygen mask on first problem, but I haven’t fixed it all year. I’ve noticed the problem, but I haven’t really fixed it, each break I take (not many) is bailing a spoonful of water out of a sinking boat still.
Priorities are more important than values. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: “Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.” The best boundaries are pointless when they protect the wrong things. Even though I haven’t been perfect the year was a win, only because I kept my priorities straight, that’s the only thing that made a difference between winning and loosing the year. I’m not stronger, I’m not better functioning, not smarter, but focusing on what matters mentally gave me the smallest edge to me of the past and made a big difference. Shifting my mind and attitude had a bigger change on my mental state than the pandemic, almost twice as much. Not that I wasn’t affected at all, but focusing on what I could change and what was out of my hands (despite the stupid commercials telling me my outings made an impact of who lives and dies) made the chaos and stupidity bearable and I focused on the chaos and stupidity of my own life.
Most parenting advice is wrong just as the average prescription glasses don’t work for any given individual. When it doesn’t work it’s not only wrong, but kept in place can be damaging. That doesn’t mean never try, but when something doesn’t work you don’t have to keep it going as long as the person selling it says to do it…
Failing is natural and fine, but parents sometimes instill fear to it that doesn’t need to be there. My son falls all over the place, gets up, runs again. My dad hates it, not because it causes my son pain, but because it makes him uncomfortable. Failure isn’t the opposite of success, it’s a necessary part of it, to fear failing becomes a fear of trying, a impediment to success a fear or really living at all. It was helpful watching it because now I know why I am afraid of each small decision and step, not only of failure but possible failure, which means fear of doing anything at all new or difficult. Possible failure is the only way forward.
Fear is difficult to approach. Fear especially seems to shut of math skills, there is a slug borne killer parasite in my area that I’m afraid of, it pretty much is always fatal to kids and I have two kids, and the slugs come onto my porch. All I have to do is not let the kids eat them, but the fear is real since there is no treatment, if they do eat them, they will probably die due to unstoppable brain inflammation. Before I was sanitizing the potential slime, but the numbers of parasites in the slime is really low as compared to eating their bodies. So it makes me wonder is it worth it to play outside, is it worth it to grow veggies to eat? Everyone has their own fears, it’s kind of impossible to be rational about your own fears, but it’s easy to expect other people to be rational about their fears. I don’t have an answer about how to help my daughter or myself with fear, but I’m just noticing the magnitude that it shifts your reasoning abilities to be afraid.
I moderately hate parenting. I 40% hate kids stuff, loud running steps in the house, theft of ear buds due to curiosity ext, repeated explanations that don’t make sense. I don’t hate all kid stuff, for some reason I’m fine with poop, farting, vomit, but I don’t like the “roaring,” “elephant trumpet impersonation” ext that fills most of my days. I didn’t know before I had kids I wouldn’t just start being all into annoying stuff like people said I would, I actually don’t like being bitten by my kids because they are “my kids”. I don’t uber hate kids either, I’m just a lot more honest than most parents about hating the stuff most of us hate.
It’s okay to hate parenting. All feelings are valid, that’s how I feel, it’s valid, it won’t automatically mess up my kids, if it does, IT DOES, because I can’t turn my feelings on a dime to fit other people’s expectations and I shouldn’t have to if I could. Mom lives matter.
No one makes your life matter except you. No one can hand you that because no one knows your values and needs other than you. People can try to help or try to keep you down, or keep you down trying to help or help by trying to keep you down, but some things no one can do FOR you.
Weird isn’t always stupid or worse, it’s different. A lot of what we have always done was stupid or worse than now, but it’s all too new too fast. I don’t like these masks, but I didn’t really like spreading and receiving air borne germs either.
Social distancing diminishes life quality. I’m not saying I wouldn’t do it, but I noticed a big drop in life quality. In the Blue Zones, a book about health social connection was shown by research to cause health and lack of it illness. We all lost something this year, maybe worth it, maybe not, but we all lost something vital and difficult to describe.
One of the hardest things for me is admitting when something does not work. Bad things go on for a long time until I realize they are bad things, they may sound pretty, everyone else may like them, experts may recommend them, but eventually it becomes clear when something is bad in my life.
I’m worn too thin as a human, as a mother, I’ve given up as a spouse, as a writer, because I’m too worn as a human being. This year I knew I needed more breaks, then what really happened was a lot less, nothing open I wanted to do, everyone who helps me stressed from the pandemic, my kids super needy in the middle of the stress of everyone around them. I wish it was a time people came together with dignity, where humanity prepared for the next one that possibly is deadlier and kills everyone, but instead we didn’t. So, the vaccines are made, who knows how long that will take to distribute, but it seems as if it didn’t bring us together much, instead my husband and many people just ignored any responsibility to stop spreading germs and other people tried to, but using methods that seem to have a hole in actual effectiveness. The pandemic has pushes me away from the people I love, I suppose I will always hate it for that, it has also tired me out.
I wrote this in the morning, I can’t remember if it was today or yesterday, but this afternoon I set a 1 hour timer and played cello for an hour. It was great, it was fantastic.
I’m just learning to play cello, but Youtube has really helpful videos. I broke my A string, the 1st string, but I still had C, G and D.
I was hoping to learn to play Bach’s Prelude, my favorite song this year, but at least I’ve picked up the cello now. Breaking the string was helpful too in a way, somehow it took the edge off using a new instrument, like the first dent of a car.
I’ll never forget the day I was in school and the orchestra musicians came to show the students the possible instruments, it was magical, I only liked the cello. I don’t know why. I had already a piano and I already liked the low notes, but I especially enjoy the cello. I like the bass already, that’s why it’s a bit easier to play cello, I have played beginning bass for quite awhile.
I’ve been inspired by Yo-Yo Ma when I heard his position about playing to express your soul not to play perfectly. It’s the opposite of how I was raised and that is probably the more important part of the exercise for me.
Holding the cello, it’s so magical for me, it just feels so right in a life where everything that society tells me should feel right doesn’t.
This 1 hour break I took today to learn cello was the first one I had this year that I can remember. It’s really hard to take a break, my daughter is really… high needs, so it’s not any one that wants to watch her for an hour, my son is pretty easy, but for me to take a break someone has to be watching my daughter, that’s the way she is.
My daughter is being screening for autism, the second meeting will be December 31st, I don’t know what to expect, I have always thought my daughter was uncomfortably on the line and perhaps the doctors think so to, because the first session they said absolutely nothing to say yes she is or no she isn’t…
No matter what they say, she will always be different, perhaps not autistic, perhaps autistic, but she is a dragon of a girl. I give her everything I have to give, but it’s not enough for her… someday I’ll turn her loose and I don’t know if the world will be enough for her either or if she will Elon Musk her way to Mars or somewhere farther and bigger. It hurts to fail, but it’s small comfort to know I’m doing my honest best.
One thing I’ve done wrong is not take breaks and do self care. I read about it, like a wood cutter chopping with a dull saw, who won’t take a break to sharpen the saw. The oxygen mask, you need to put your own mask on first… but I just don’t. This was the first 1 hour break I’ve taken all year long.
It was amazing.
I felt like a person.
I’m supposed to be a person, show my kids how to do that, do it just for me anyways.
But no one wants to do the work I usually do for an hour.
I know now since I took the hour off, my daughter called me, I told her about my timer and she got it. She didn’t like it, but she got it. My sister didn’t really like dealing with my misbehaving daughter for an hour, but she did, which was great. It was great.
I don’t want a special needs kid. I want an easy kid. I can’t just return my older kid, but I’m not the kind of person that sees it as a wonderful life lesson, I didn’t want that challenge in my life.
But here I am, it’s becoming clear that although I’m not the perfect parent, my older child is some kind of special and my life with her won’t be easy, it won’t be picture perfect, it may not even ever be remotely normal, we are fighting for a C grade when I’m used to an A.
It was so nice having a break today. It makes me want more.
I don’t know if I will be able to learn Prelude this year, it’s something some 8 year olds play, but I haven’t played cello before.
It’s a dream that has been stuck in my soul since I was 5 or 6. I can’t believe I never let it go.
I’ve miscarried many dreams, so many dreams, but this one I held it without choosing to.
I think someone asked us, which instrument we wanted to play, and I didn’t know I wouldn’t be able to, in the moment, it seemed like I could. The way they said it, it seemed like a small thing, for many people it is a small thing to have an instrument, have lessons, have a stable family.
But I didn’t always have a phone line, a home, dinner, let alone a cello.
I grew up sometimes poor, intermittently, because my mom was bipolar and a drug addict. We weren’t always poor, but often.
I think if all our priorities were clear and organized we could have paid to rent a cello, but that’s not what my parents felt like doing. They put me in choir instead of band, then my school refused to enter me late start, so I thought I would just never learn cello.
I’m 35 this year. It’s been 30 years. I never thought I would pick up an instrument at 35, if I did, I could imagine it mattering. But it does, at some level, it really does.
I started celebrating Kwanzaa last year, I love it. Each of the 7 days has a value, reflections, meditations, for me lost wisdom.
The first day of Kwanzaa’s principle is Umoja, unity, I think of my connection with the first mother in Africa and all of you, my distant cousins, and my very distant cousins the trees and all Earth life. I feel so much of my truths reflected in the connection we all share with our bloody and tumultuous past. I have a warrior spirit in a computer engineering world and it’s easy to forget why, forget the past.
The second day of Kwanzaa’s principle is Kujichagulia, self-determination, something I never knew about most my life.
Out of the night that covers me, Black as the pit from pole to pole, I thank whatever gods may be For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance I have not winced nor cried aloud. Under the bludgeonings of chance My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears Looms but the Horror of the shade, And yet the menace of the years Finds and shall find me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate, How charged with punishments the scroll, I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.
– William Ernest Henley
I’ve always kept my chin up, but yet gone where I was directed to go, it’s the first year I’ve ever actively been the captain of my soul. It’s new for me. Having Kwanzaa really helped me solidify that. I don’t have so much leadership skills, but I haven’t ever tried much either, I somehow didn’t even know how much I was living tied down by social expectations.
The third day of Kwanzaa’s principle is Ujima, collective work and responsibility, is what motherhood fulfills for me, it has never filled my whole mind and soul, I do it the best I can, but it’s not my everything and I don’t think it ever could be.
The fourth day of Kwanzaa’s principle is Ujamaa, cooperative economics, I don’t have a lot going related to that but I do know it’s the secret to success that many Asian families in the US leveraged and a reason behind a lot of successful individuals I know personally, it’s a hard world when you try to do everything alone.
The fifth day of Kwanzaa’s principle is Nia, that is the most difficult day for me. I don’t know my purpose in life and I like not knowing, but I feel so lost about my purpose I don’t know if purposes are a real thing or not. I hope they are.
The sixth day of Kwanzaa is Kuumba, creativity, I am from a family that makes things. My dad and his dad do wood working, my sister does jewelry, sewing, painting, drawing, crafting, sculpting, writing, poetry, I do some art (a lot less crafting), writing and music. We are very strong in “Kuumba” more than cooperative economics or purpose or faith, that’s the easy one for us. It’s also how I first started connecting spiritually to Kwanzaa. Creativity has kept me sane during life’s low points. When the music hits me I feel no pain is a real thing for me, dance through the pain is a real thing for me. When I first casually looked into Kwanzaa and I found Kuumba, something clicked and I knew it was the right spiritual journey for me at the time.
The seventh day of Kwanzaa is Imani, faith, that’s a hard day for me. I’m not religious, so I could still have faith in myself, but I don’t. I spent most of my life going to go to medical school, then didn’t, so I was trying to make money, and instead I made debt, I was trying to live a stable traditional life style when I had kids, and I failed to… so I don’t trust me. But maybe over time I’ll learn to have faith in myself, I know I “could” but somehow I can’t. Somehow I want proof from me before I trust me again, a lot of proof or at least something.
20 Things I’d Like to Do with My Life:
I’d like to finish a good book, or at least a book (writing).
I’d like to oil paint again. For fun, like Bob Ross.
I’d like to make a lego “The Wave”.
I’d like to make a lego “Great Wall”.
I’d like to make a lego waterfall.
6. I’d like an entire year with no kids crying.
7. I’d like to have a pet rat when I have time to train it and put a chef hat on it and take a picture.
8. I’d like to go to Tree House Point in Seattle.
9. I’d like to play Moonlight Sonata on the piano.
10. I’d like to learn Bach’s Prelude on Cello.
11. I’d like to eat a steak dinner with my husband on Isla de Los Mujeres without being interrupted by my daughter.
12. I’d like to go back to Cuba.
13. I’d like to bonfire all the kid’s drawings my daughter instructed me to treasure forever.
14. I’d like to have a lychee shave ice with my grand kids, assuming I have grand kids someday.
15. I’d like to get two pies and eat them alone, blueberry and strawberry and a ton of coffee and no judgement.
16. I’d like to have my hair purple again.
17. I’d like to get another motorcycle when the kids are at least 18 already.
18. I’d like to go back to learning martial arts.
19. I’d like to go back to teaching martial arts.
20. I’d like to watch the clouds on a sunny day, without anyone asking me to get them water/food/juice/a movie ext.
So, it was a hard year, I’ve learned a lot, grown a lot, but not in a nice way, it was a heavy burden to bear the stress of the world and tell my kids what is happening without letting the panic vibe through. I loved the year because it was the first full year my son was alive, I hated the year because I didn’t get to Hawaii for the summer where I get help with my kids, I hated this year, because I tried so hard not to hate it. I loved it because it was full of wonderful things, beautiful moments, good people, yet I couldn’t adjust to the restrictions as fast as they were happening, I was always emotionally off balance and one step behind.
It totally sucked having young kids during the pandemic, you didn’t want them to miss the park, friends, birthdays, everything that is special during childhood… but they did. You didn’t have a break at all, it wasn’t fun adult movies with stressed kids stuck with you and education kind of went to hell. It was the worst parenting situation, worse than potty training, worse than childbirth, worse than sleep training.
If I could have had my kids before or after, I would have, I completely hated explaining to my 4 year old what was happening, hated telling her to keep her mask on for a 6 hour flight, hated every time she had to wear a mask, hated my mask, hated the fake news, the panic news, hated the election drama, the post election drama, hated swabbing my 4 year old for the COVID test for the flight, and again at the airport when we landed, hated her saying it hurt and not having a choice. I want to leave the hate in 2020, I hope I do.
I wish the vaccine was already available, going into 2021 it’s not clear if this gloomy stuff will linger on all 2021 or be over really soon. It’s very unclear still, though supplies seem okay, the economy surprisingly seems okay, in general things seem okay despite a lot of “talking heads”.
I tried so hard to be unaffected, and I failed, I tried to not give up on goals, and I failed, but I never lost my spirit of wanting to try and perhaps that’s what matters most.
Never give in. Never, never, never, never–in nothing, great or small, large or petty–never give in, except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.
– Winston Churchill
I like to play a game with my daughter, The Sims 4, it’s like a computer doll house, we just loaded it today for the first time in almost a year. She got what she wanted, a dragon pet. We changed her hair to short like it is now. Her brother grew from a baby to a toddler, which he did do. I changed my hair shorter and more edgy. My husband and I parted states (though we are not having problems in marriage, it so my daughter can go to a better school and I can have help with my two young kids instead of no help). The chairs in the living room moved, my dad moved his desk to the living room, we all switched our rooms around by moving our beds (we made our beds and now we lie in them). Another thing is each person has a life aspiration, I changed mine from “Successful Lineage” to “Hope VS Order”.
It’s really reflective of the change in me this year, I don’t look at my kids like they need to learn everything just to outperform other kids, or even behave so I can enjoy them, I don’t look them like they have to “anything” anymore. I hope they get basic skills, I hope we can work as a functional team, but I defused from them, they aren’t me, I’m not them. I’m here to help them, but I’m also so in need of my own life however simple or short. I really need to let go of them to even be human for them, I’m kind of worn down from this year.
It was really fun watching my game me be tired feeding my game son at 4 AM, and even watching my game daughter keep making messes on purpose for fun, it’s fun thinking for a minute that the best I was able to do was reasonable and that it’s the whole system of 1 primary parent doing everything that’s broken, it was fun to feel okay about not doing better for a second, when most of the time I replay life in my head looking for a way that I could have done everything wonderful everyday.
I don’t fully know what “Hope VS Order” means on the Sims 4 game, but it kind of sums up the year for me. Hope, like the Black Lives Matter movement refusing to stay silent for forever because never is when the system really wanted to hear them and Order like a vaccine for COVID or maybe everyone just not freaking out about what is actually not that deadly of disease in historical context? One or the other would be nice, or both… in my personal life hope is of communicating in a loving way rather than a grumpy/abusive way and order is finding out what is driving my daughter’s excessive disobedience and treating what had become an intolerable amount of hitting, hurtful speech, stealing, lying ext ext.
I don’t fully know what hope vs order means for the game, for me, for the world, but I think Hope and Order is my goal going into next year. It’s so uncertain right now, if I can fly with my son who will be 2 and required to wear a mask, but not able to, it’s uncertain if the school for my daughter will open by next fall, if she will be accepted to go there, when my husband will buy a home, where he will buy a home, when if ever we will live together again, when or what I will do for work when the kids are bigger, what I’m supposed to do, if anything, with my life, it’s very uncertain still when things will be “back to normal”.
But I can hope to go to the fair and have cotton candy someday with the kids, with no God Damn Masks. I can hope my daughter can play within 6 feet of other kids at the park again, that the zoo will open and we can see the tigers with my son.
I can enjoy the idea of the world returning to “order” even though I don’t know when it will be or what it will be like. I always have wished for world peace this time of year when we sang “Dona nobis pacem” in choir. This year is similar in that the world is still at war in places, but we are also at war with public health, with internal policies, in my family, in my country, in the Earth, but hopefully not forever.
In the bottom of pandora’s box is some left over hope, I will eat that instead of cooking for the rest of the year and enjoy my second Kwanzaa in a peaceful way where for the first time I’m not overwhelmed by other people around me offering my Christmas more than I want it.
I don’t know if I’ll make it to Prelude, but I hope so, it would be a nice gift from the 2020 me to the 2021 me, a nice baton pass into the future.
May hope and order find you in the way you enjoy readers, thank you for inspiring me this year, Lovie and Thomas and Nomzamo and everyone, I don’t always comment, but often your posts help me push through the low moments. I especially like the one about the joy of water and the present moment. It’s been helpful to feel connected here on WordPress as in person friends were moved to an arms length and then 6 feet and then thousands of miles away, it’s an honor and a joy to know other people take the time to write what I say as imperfect as it is. Wishing you all some hope and order for this year, because there is some life in it still, I hope we find some further beauty in this chaotic year, a silver lining for each cloud, rainbow for each storm or phoenix for each dragon.
If it all falls apart, I will know deep in my heart, The only dream that mattered had come true. In this life, I was loved by you.
– Bette Midler
I guess I’m not a good “adjuster” overall. Adaptability is supposed to be the hallmark of the human species… but not so much for me. I got married, did adapt after about five years, had a daughter, did adapt after about five years, had a son (the love of my life no offense to my husband or daughter, my son just gets me, he stares into my eyes and all the troubles in my heart melt away), still not adapted to that yet after two years, and then the pandemic, Covidy, tried to adapt but it just keeps changing too fast for me to keep up with the fall mask styles.
Since I have a 1 year old and a 5 year old and because I am a “trier” I tried not to fall apart, but like the egg my daughter cracked for the brownies I burnt, which she couldn’t have, because she threw a tantrum about something minor, yet again… I eventually cracked after repeated soft blows.
I think I was 28 when my therapist told me feelings like anger and sadness are good (they keep her in business right, a little biased? Just kidding, kind of…). Rebecca, I liked her. I wanted to never be angry, I thought it was something for inferior, juvenile, retarded-ish people. She said feelings were waves carrying messages, that once you listen to the message they go away instead of intensifying. She advised me to try to know how I feel, something I had always done the opposite of. I tried to stifle my own feelings, suck it up and finish the fight or think of others and smile through the pain of life. But it wasn’t great living that way. So I started on a new journey, walking exactly 180° the opposite direction I had been going before. I didn’t look at it as daunting, because I was just toying with the notion that I could even walk.
I think I was 28 then, maybe not though? Maybe 25?
So assuming I walk as fast as before, I should be as bad at feelings as a baby is by the time I’m 50 in 15 years… then as good as a 5 year old in 20 years.
That’s assuming that I can learn as well as a baby, which is deeply flawed.
It sounds pessimistic, but it helps me feel less guilty about being bad with dealing with emotions still.
I would rather not deal with emotions when I’m not at my best, or always, but people, like my family, are just walking zip lock bags of emotion more or less.
My daughter is throwing a fit right now about Meerkat Manor. She is being really rude to her grandfather, she only wants her aunt… it’s pretty asinine. I’m pretty sure her tablet ran out of batteries, so she is crying like an entitled brat, even though we have three tablets, she could just ask like a normal child, but the fact that what she wanted was interrupted for any amount of time is intolerable to her so she is going to be mean, be loud, scream and cry over it and everything else… I have a really bratty daughter, but I can’t recall spoiling her, I’ve had her clean, had her face consequences of behavior and save for items, I haven’t been overly strict nor overly lavish, but somehow I raised a huge brat.
It pains me that that is how I see her, but that is how I see her, that is who she has become for now. Perhaps behind that facade is fear or pain, but I would much rather deal with it without the brat facade that my daughter prefers to wear. I suspect something is behind it, but I don’t know what. I’m not trained in child education, not trained in child psychology, I don’t know anything about what lies behind her ugly behavior.
It helps to know most other families with young kids have a kid flipping out, but it makes me curious why it’s usually just 1 of the kids. Most kids aren’t thrilled with Covidy, but some are really pissed and others are mildly perturbed.
My daughter fell apart, I tried not to, but I’ve taken a knee. My son is counting on me, I’ve never been able to pay even 1 full day of attention to him, but I can do my best to give him the small amount of attention he is used to.
I knew I had fallen apart when I started being short with my “good” child, who didn’t deserve it at all.
During the begging I was just confused, then angry, then productive to compensate, then tired, then bitterly angry, then I was too exhausted, now I’m unsure of exactly how to crawl out of the well I find myself inside of.
Its not even depression, it’s more a loss of knowing about the world, a sense of aloneness, knowing exactly how thin the bonds of my family and friends are, knowing how little cohesion my country has (it’s not a group of people who share values, just a group of people who share zip codes). I would say that Covidy and the election didn’t rip people apart it showed the naked truth that we were always apart, that the average person doesn’t really care about the poor beyond talk, that the average American wants what they want more than they want democracy of the populations desires to lead.
I’ve never been as close to nihilism as now, but I still don’t believe in it. I’ve seen too much good in people to believe that mankind is worse than it is decent. I’ve eaten a few sour apples, but the average apple was quite sweet.
I was planning to get back on my feet emotionally before writing, but I decided to write while I’m getting back on my feet and maybe share some of the things that are working for me.
I really liked the Zazzle Customized Business Cards just as art therapy, I didn’t print them since it was way too time sensitive.
So today I made more, just for me (I decided to write about it after I realized it had helped me process life so much).
Gratitude is the pry bar I always need when my soul gets all gummed to the bottom of a barrel of sludge.
I say thank you much more than I complain, but my family remembers the complaints x100… I do as well, its hard to make gratitude speak louder, because it’s quiet like a whisper in a loud world.
This little card gives the good things that happened a cage to be noticed, it connects me to those moments more powerfully than just writing a list. It’s not an original, just something I pressed customize on, but it made the process easy enough for me to do it right now that I’m “not together”. It’s beautiful to me, it’s a happy moment memorialized instead of forgotten or dismissed. It’s me validating my own feelings of joy, they aren’t the same moments that sound impressive to others, but they were little moments when the world was alright with me.
This is different, the same card, but a different perspective. This time I think about gratitude, it’s only been about a year since I even knew how to be sincerely grateful at all. Only because of one article I read that I even started trying. It was September 29th, 2019, the day I first really felt gratitude, interesting to know thanks to blogging. I wrote a post called “the Challenge of Gratitude.” It was an homage to the Four Weeks of Consistent Gratitude Challenge by Nomzamo Madide and also to an awesome book The Pain of Challenges by Steven Turikunkiko. Steven was an orphan of the Rwanda Genocides… so a book about his gratitude and forgiveness was particularly inspiring and interesting.
So looking back on 1985 (when I was born) to 2018, I had never really know what gratitude felt like. But I hadn’t felt love either, until 2011. I think many parents who love their kids wonder if they do enough, it’s a lot, if you make someone feel loved it’s a lot already. Life kind of starts in a new way when you know someone loves you. Anyone can say it, but to mean it, it’s a whole different animal.
I’m kind of proud of myself, I’ve not been a cheery rock during this past year, but I’ve been mostly solid and consistent and striving to do just a little bit better today for tomorrow. Cooking more at home (by choice and circumstance) and trying to have less of a shitty attitude in general.
I’m not the person right now I wish I was, I would still like to be more patient with my kids, more able to let them know how much I love them when I’m angry and tired, more able to know what the right thing to do with them is and when good things are too much anyways. I still want more from myself, but I’ve got the gratitude duck more in a row than ever before.
I may be crazy, but I’m saner than ever! Ha…
I guess you don’t have to be a nut to write a blog, but it helps… I never run out of things to write about. But the things that I find the most important that I’ve written about remain not my own writing. For example this piece by Nomzano Madide was really helpful to me, but it only grew more helpful over time:
Plant yourself so deeply in gratitude that even the greatest landslides cannot shake your peace – Unknown
Covid-19 has really turned our lives upside down but when you consciously plant yourself in gratitude you gradually shift your focus away from everything going wrong and place you in a space of positivity and hopefulness. When you live in a space of gratitude, you show the universe that you appreciate what you have and are ready for more – because this too shall pass and our lives will need to move on so we need to be ready for all that we want and need post this pandemic. – Nomzamo Madide
Please remember that beautiful things can bloom from the seeds of your most difficult times.
This is something I work on, feeling like what I did was enough. Because I don’t. I hate myself when everything isn’t clean, and it never is. I hate myself when the kids didn’t finish all the homework, and they never do… so I tend to hate myself, but I fight it by noticing I actually do a lot, everyday. I did so much that I would hate myself for expecting more than that, so somehow the hate does cancel out the hate…
Hey, even though you are not who you want to be as yet neither are you where you want to be as yet, but you are becoming and have achieved so much. You are here. Right now that is enough and that is worth celebrating.”
– Nomzamo Madide
I kept going back to that article over and over and over, it was kind of the push I needed to start celebrating myself of the present day, which is an essential part to living by values on a daily basis (1. Pick, 2. Plan, 3. Do, 4. Celebrate, 5. Learn). Without celebrating our flawed attempt, the path to growth becomes blocked, but really celebrating everyday life was something I was not taught and had to learn over the past year.
What I wanted from today was exercise, not burning the brownies, no fits from the kids, my husband here instead of working out of state, world peace, a perfectly clean house, but the reality shows me what my real priorities really are. My kids over my husband and relaxing, cleaning for my health over fun, trying to teach the kids over getting my mind straight (maybe not a good thing). I get tired of having my kids, and especially fits after fits after fits, but I guess I love them or I would just hand them an iphone each with kids YouTube all day and have an easy life. I guess I’m doing my best, I don’t know if it’s making everyone’s life worse, but there is some inherent value in trying your best (I have to believe that Daniel Tiger said so…).
So then I felt the need to make a COVID is Okay because list, recently on veterans day I re-watched Ted Burns “The War” about WW2 and it makes me realized how much it sucked in America almost always and how pampered we have become. It wears off, but for a little while watching the depression or WW2 history makes me feel like Covidy is a slap on the wrist and not a belt beating… This is the point I made friends with the Covid situation, though I don’t like it, sometimes you have friends you don’t like, because they are around or they are friends with your friends, or you have poor boundaries. So I call it Covidy now, since we are friends kind of.
Over the past few weeks I haven’t written much, because I don’t know who I am. I feel like I am a skipped cell between two movie frames. I know who I was and I have dreams of who I will be, but I no longer know who I am. I know I am different than I was, but not exactly what.
I started thinking this is good, I had a dream that the job I was saying I wanted on a mandatory form at the library was “a writer” but the real truth is “martial art’s teacher”. Teaching martial arts has been by far the most joy I’ve had in anything that seems like work. I don’t not like writing, but teaching martial arts is like a symphony of I like that and writing is like a piano solo of I like that… I finally had the noodle dream. Now I don’t know how or when I’ll restart that journey to opening a door with 10,000 ninjas training in synchrony, but someday, something like that, or just 1 student, but on a mountain, or a few students, but panda students… I don’t know yet, but it really feels right.
So after the positiveness, there was some negativity, and to not give it a place to be expressed, that just makes me more and more bitter, when I went to a marriage councilor alone (since my husband wouldn’t go) he said that not expressing resentment isn’t healthy. I really enjoyed my councilor Owen Williams author of The Relationship Revolution: Are You Part of the Movement or Part of the Resistance? Interestingly enough my marital resentment was all fixed by a single email that said, “I’m sorry.” It was about four years late in coming (for my taste), but a sincere apology is magical.
So gratitude led me to get unstuck, to accept who I am, accept the progress I’ve made in life (slow thought it has been), led me to accept the world as it is, hope for what is to be in the future, let off steam before it builds into something worse and make a plan for what is most important in my small world in the moment.
I couldn’t have processed my priorities without unloading all the emotions I was holding back, my mind and soul were paper jammed with back ordered reflections and life lessons.
Looking at this list I see I have all the same problems internally that I had last year, and this year has been, challenging, but I’m still in better place to deal with the problems of last year now than I was last year. I’m beginning to see three problems tangled up that when untangled may be solvable, 1. I hate emotions, especially fits, I don’t create a healthy place for them enough in myself or for my kids, 2. My daughter likes being inappropriate and may always like that, I can set limits, but I will not be getting her to “please and thank you” with the same quick tips that really do work for other kids, 3. There is no way to create more time for attention for two kids, they just really don’t get as much as they or I want, they won’t, no solution, hard fact, we have to chew on that instead of pretending I can be more than one person divided by three people’s needs. My son will never have me alone, my daughter will feel disenfranchised, things will be different now, the life before my son was born is gone (happy for me, bitterly for my daughter). So problem three becomes more of a problem because of problem 1. Problem 2 becomes more of a problem because of problem 1. Problem 1 may be the biggest trouble code of being human, or at least of being me.
But if you are like me, customizing business cards on Zazzle.com will help you sort through your life, emotions or problems and move on to whatever the future holds in a semi-sane way.
In a semi-mad world, only the semi-mad are semi-sane. – Bubble Gum Monkey 🐒🎈
I just read “Misconceptions About Relationships” by one of my favorite authors, Nomzamo Madide, about relationships. I’ve been in a few relationships and avoided reflecting on them, for whatever reason it’s something I really don’t like to reflect on, perhaps I think of relationships as carnal and beneath philosophy, or perhaps I just am a train wreck with relationships, but I haven’t thought about it much thanks to a lot of intentional avoidance.
I got married in 2015, so I’m five years in at this point, I thought it might be interesting to see the same points covered from a different point in time.
1. [Debunking that] Sharing everything on social media is important. Honestly, the more you keep your relationship private, the better.
– Nomzamo Madide
I couldn’t agree more, something about sharing the details of our lives that were special makes them less special to me. Perhaps that’s why I don’t write more about love? Say for instance if I get a gift for my husband and take a picture and post somewhere about it, it feels kind of wrong to do. It seems weird to put intimate things in a public space. Not like hiding the fact I am married, but the less I disclose personal information about my husband that isn’t relevant to what I am saying it feels respectful and loyal to me. Sure from time to time I mention him, as he pertains to my life, but it’s not the same as narrating our private relationship publicly in detail or cataloging each fun outing we ever do together. Taking those kind of pictures, for others to see, it feels different than the ones that are just for us to remember and taking any pictures at all takes away whatever moment we otherwise would have experienced with the world. We never adjusted to taking pictures everywhere we go, no offense to people that do, it just detracts more than it adds for us. It’s nice that we both don’t like to take pictures so at least that is one point of non-argument.
2. [Debunking that] Relationships should be a fairytale. Every couple has to face its reality: career, family, and obstacles play a huge role in the dynamic of your relationship. Relationships are not what we see in Disney movies, they take both parties putting in the work and trust me no relationship is perfect but you make it work.
– Nomzamo Madide
It’s really hard to let go of the idea of the fairy tale romance for me, because I’m a romantic at heart. I would say fairies exist, but they are actually mosquitoes… everything behind the fairy tale romance has some basis in reality so it’s easy to be tricked. My husband and I were very much in love, he denies anything has changed to avoid doing any work to rekindle some of what we did have, but it’s obvious, though it’s alright as well. When he used to come home he would stare at me very happy, he described it as I was his new toy then. Now he is like that with our kids and barely notices me, because now they are the new toys and I’m the old toy. It’s a bit like Toy Story, I was Woody the cowboy, then my first child was Buzz Light Year the astronaut, then my second child became the new puppy that displaced both of them. So I guess love is a Disney movie after all, but in my case it’s not Snow White or Cinderella, it’s Toy Story.
3. [Debunking that] Love is enough in relationships. No. No, no and no. Love is not enough at all, mutual understanding and trust is just as essential. Let’s be honest with each other, for a relationship to flourish, it needs more than that too. It also needs money.
– Nomzamo Madide
This idea was part of what broke up my parents marriage, my dad worked a lot to make money for my mom, who liked to spend a lot, but she resented that he worked a lot. It was a vicious cycle. If she spent a lot, he would take more over time work, she would get more angry and decide to spend more. She didn’t understand that being working class people he would just have to be gone at work, it could be 40 hours or it could be more, but it couldn’t really be much less. In my marriage money is less a big issue, but our issue is trust and respect. We understand each other very well, we just don’t always like each other. We both have a bad habit of rudeness and disrespect to each other and over time it’s hard to like someone who repeatedly disrespects you. We have love, but our marriage is kind of rocky, so it’s very clear to me that love is not enough to make a highly functional team.
4. [Debunking that] Possessiveness and jealousy are normal. As human beings we make this mistake of thinking that just because I am in a relationship with someone, that we are in love with each other, that we own each other. That person is not your possession, that person belongs to themselves and not to you. By choosing to be in a relationship with them, you are both just allowing each other to be a part of each others lives. Jealousy kills the relationship, to say the least.
– Nomzamo Madide
I didn’t want to admit when I was jealous, and therefore didn’t mention it before it festered, it would have been better to admit the jealousy than to let it turn to anger and distance over time, but it’s a very difficult conversation for me. Knowing it would be better, and resolving the issue are two different things. Right now we have a loose mouse in our house, we are trying to trap it, almost did with peanut butter, but the trap didn’t close because the spring broke… so like that actual mouse being caught, there is a difference between the attempt and the success of dealing with these issues.
5. [Debunking that] If you are truly happy with your partner, you should not need to be with anyone else. This may be true if you are both massively co-dependent but even that is not something I would think to be normal. I believe that for a relationship to be healthy and to grow, both parties need lives outside of their relationship. I think it is important to give your partner space to miss you, for them to be alone, to come home to themselves. Our basic psychological need for friendship and community needs to be fulfilled.
– Nomzamo Madide
I wanted to comment on this as an introvert, we need our lives outside the relationship very much, but it may not be outside the house or with people, the way we need space is different. My husband likes to go out with friends and he wants me to go out with my friends too, I can’t always, or sometimes don’t want to, it’s not that I don’t need my own life, it’s that my life won’t look like his. My own life is having time to reflect deeply and slowly about what I think about something, without being pressed for an immediate answer, perhaps walking along the town with no particular destination, perhaps reading a book on the patio. My husband wants to watch the kids while I have a girls night out, I’ve never had and probably don’t want to ever have a girl’s night out. I would appreciate if he watched them while I did my writing, but he doesn’t, I keep saying to him the things I want to do are at home and he keeps not understanding. Maybe someday he will and maybe someday he still won’t, but when I fully accepted myself it stopped hurting me that he doesn’t understand, I understand myself, I’m at peace with myself, I’ll keep looking for a way to show him, but if he never gets it, it will be okay, because I’m okay with they way I am.
6. [Debunking that] Perfect relationships exist. Lies. There is no such thing as a perfect relationship, on social media we see what they want us to see. We will obviously not see the fights, the hurt and pain that goes into it. Every relationship goes through its ups and downs, lows and highs.
– Nomzamo Madide
Sometimes relationships feel perfect, but they don’t always. My first wedding anniversary we went to Seattle, it felt perfect to me, but perhaps not to my husband. Our second we went out to eat, I got my husband the same gift as the first year, for he had lost it, he didn’t so much as say happy anniversary or give me a hug. The third, he didn’t say anything, but I wasn’t hurt having been through it already. The fourth and fifth nothing good and nothing bad, no affection, no tension. I read a book with the idea that love has seasons, like spring and summer being pleasant, fall building tension and winter distance. That book helped me deal with the reality of being either irrelevant or disdained by my husband, who also provides for me and is sometimes kind or supporting to me.
In closing, love is a beautiful thing. One should not allow fear or misconceptions of love to make you miss out on love and pursuing relationships. Life is so much better with someone to share it with.
– Nomzamo Madide
I think love may or may not be a beautiful thing, that it varies a lot. I don’t think love is the most important thing in life, what it gives one person it seems to cost the other. Like a nice car, I think it’s perhaps the right thing for some people and perhaps not worth the cost for others. Love surprisingly, wasn’t something I sought, I thought I would have an easy time with a successful career and struggle to, or never marry, but life happened the opposite way for me. I am more happy to be married in terms of having my two kids, than in what it has done for me as far as making life better, it did make life better in some ways, but also worse in other ways. To me it’s a lot like becoming conjoined twins on purpose, it limits you to both going the same way sometimes, not all the time, but sometimes. Love comes with a high cost and high benefits, but I can’t say that my life married is better than what I expect my life would be like unmarried. I can’t say that. It’s not worse, but I don’t think it’s better. I wasn’t lonely single, but I felt free to be myself, to be unjudged in my own home, to do what I wanted that day, that year, in my life time, to have strange hair if I wanted to, I gave up a lot when I married. I don’t know if I had to, or if I did wrong in doing so, but I did, and although I gained a lot in marriage, I lost a lot too, so the unromantic truth is it isn’t clear if it’s worth it or not overall. Maybe it is?
See the stone set in your eyes, See the thorn twist in your side, I’ll wait for you, Sleight of hand and twist of fate, On a bed of nails, she makes me wait, And I wait without you.
With or without you, With or without you.
Through the storm, we reach the shore, You give it all but I want more, And I’m waiting for you.
With or without you, With or without you, ah, ah, I can‘t live, With or without you.
And you give yourself away (complain about my cooking), And you give yourself away (complain about my style), And you give (complain), And you give (complain), And you give yourself away (undermine my goals).
My hands are tied, My body bruised, she got me with, Nothing to win and, Nothing left to lose.
And you give yourself away (leave your dirty socks everywhere), And you give yourself away (don’t bring back the Tupperware), And you give (insult me in front of the kids), And you give (make passive aggressive comments instead of being direct), And you give yourself away (expect me to clean your broken egg in the fridge).
With or without you, With or without you, oh, I can‘t live, With or without you, Oh, oh, Oh, oh.
With or without you, With or without you, oh, I can’t live, With or without you.
With or without you…
– Paul David Hewson (Bubble Gum Monkey Version)
Wouldn’t it be funny if modern marriage was a way to trick women to provide free labor after that? Dressing up a life of servitude with a fancy party and important sounding title. It would be a little funny.
to subject to incapacitating emotional or mental stress
2. to cover with a flood
I was surprised to read the second, I always heard and used inundated for covered with water before, but I like it. I covers how I feel.
I was actually much worse last week, the metric for worse being overwhelmed, and I’m better, but still overwhelmed.
I would prefer a God who wouldn’t overwhelm people, who would give people a letter in a colored envelope with gold foil, letting you know what problems you were getting 1 week in advanced in a neat and brief list.
No matter what the card said, having a card from God would be nice, knowing what was coming would be nice, I would like it.
But either there isn’t a God, or the one there is believes in reserving the right to overwhelm people or perhaps there is a God who is a bit hands off and we have created this overwhelming modern life style ourselves like Darth Vader messed up his relationship with his wife without Obi-Wan doing anything to cause problems.
So no card this week.
I could make my own, but it wouldn’t come a week early… so then no advanced notice… so I’m just responding to problems rather than preventing them, which is messy and frantic. Yuck.
My son knocked all the toothbrushes into the diaper pail today… I took care of it and well, but I wish I didn’t have to, I just want to be sick like I was before having kids. I’m so jealous of childless me right now.
I am going to Hawaii, hopefully next Sunday, but that means I have to pass the COVID test on Friday, I did make an appointment today, it’s wasn’t easy. Hawaii approved some test sites, but not all, two out of three options immediately fell through, but Walgreens seems hopeful. If I can’t go, I don’t think I’ll try again until my normal time in the summer. I’ve been trying since May, 6 months… it’s an inconvenience I can’t even describe yet. Yes, thankfully not dead, but the life style switch wasn’t the old one plus a bunch of Netflix and popcorn, like the commercials indicate.
So I’m loopy since I was sick with some kind of cold and cough, and I’m about to travel (I hope) and small pinworm changes in place (such as morning showers, I guess I’ll call it code white).
But aside from listing those things, which is something I do to de-overwhelm myself, that works very well, I have a decently happy mood.
Which is interesting to me, I’ve been upset and overwhelmed, I’ve been happy and not-overwhelmed, but this is the first time I’ve ever been happy and overwhelmed at the same time.
I have a large degree of serenity many things are out of my hands, a large degree of self compassion that I could have done many things, but not everything, so I think that’s where the happiness comes from…
Actually I think happiness is just normally generated, but things can dim it and take away from it.
So for example being ashamed of the pinworm in the past, which I didn’t bring into our home anyways, took my happiness away for about 2 years. I let it. I lost 2 years of wanting to go out, and even after it was over, I kind of enjoyed taking the kids to play dates less, because it’s just more pinworm waiting to happen 1/3 kids there age always infected.
I’m someone who pays attention to food handling, sanitation, hand washing, but my kids aren’t, and may never be, my husband really isn’t… so the first time I caught pinworm from my daughter I confronted with:
My lack of control over my body.
My lack of control over my home.
My lack of control over my kids washing hands behind closed doors or choosing not to or forgetting to do so.
The idea and truth that we are dirty people at least somewhat.
The idea other people can get us sick again without knowing it.
The idea other people will pretty much for sure give us worms or something like a flu again.
The idea we may be the guilty germ givers someday.
The truth that we get better when we get better not when I want us to do so.
The truth that it takes multiple does to get better and I thus don’t know the exact time line.
Parasites were my number 2 fear in life, so dealing with it wasn’t nice or easy, but in hindsight some of the mental truths I had to face bypassed the pandemic mental truths that others, like my dad, would become mired in fearing.
So I was bitter, but not afraid and bitter during this pandemic, thanks to 2 years of pinworm-demic…
It’s funny how I was so embarrassed before, and now I’m ready to make a custom shirt that says “ask me about my worms”… ha…
I’m still the person I was, who if I lost my coffee mug I would be wondering where it was all day, and now I have more important things, like the lives of three people (two kids and me) to take care of, I’m still that person who can’t handle the mug being lost… ha.
Many people told me I would change when I had kids, I didn’t, not in “that way” of knowing what to do or being able to multitask.
Sure somethings changed, but not because I had kids, because of the events that transpired since then.
I am reconnecting to my own identity, hopes and dreams after years of sleep deprived wandering, but I find it hard to marry the two major aspects of my life, me the adult who likes intellectual pursuits, writing and philosophy, and me the adult with small children, who would like to be watched and played with, and whom I would like to wash and teach.
If it’s hard to find the placement for those puzzle pieces, it’s even worse to fit my husband in, he is a hindrance more than a help, that’s an unpleasant truth I noticed today. A month ago I was going to clean the shower, but my husband said he would, so I didn’t, until today. It’s easier to do everything, than to work as a team with him, it’s easier to do things without him than with him, he nags, questions, undermines, he does provide for us and shop, I do like that, but perhaps in the future I could form a better team if I was honest about didn’t work, if I was less afraid of the truth of the things that don’t work.
The sink has been backing up every night when we brush our teeth, it’s disgusting, I fixed it yesterday, but I hadn’t for so long, because I thought he would… so that’s how things are in general, we work better apart than together, that’s sad, but it won’t get better without the truth being faced.
As I wrote this I realized that it was partially diffusion of responsibility that causes a lot of our problems. I alone or he alone would have taken responsibility and acted, but us as a team… we tend to avoid saying anything needs to be done, because we know we probably won’t agree about what to do. We have trouble communicating, that’s something to work on in the future. I have trouble saying what I want or need because I think it will cause trouble between us, and I don’t like trouble, but the longer I wait, the more angry I get and it just causes more trouble anyways. My husband wants what I say to be nice, and so often I don’t have any way to phrase a not nice thing into a nice sounding thing, perhaps I should just accept that he won’t always like what I have to say and just say it, knowing waiting usually makes it worse not better?
My husband and I work worse together as a team than we do as two individuals, I know because we live apart half the year. I hope that we are able to change that next year, but if not I’ll set the best protective barriers I can to do the best I can for myself and the kids while we are together. It wasn’t a fun truth, but truth precedes treatment most always.
That would be nice, if God sent me a card each week for the next week. I would appreciate it. Even if it said die, or get cancer, bury husband, it would still be nice to have the week to prepare instead of living behind.
It’s nice imagining that my priorities are not all wrong, if I had them done for me, I wouldn’t find out later that they were horribly wrong and misguided…
If I vote Thursday, then test Friday, pack Saturday, I should be all set for the flight Sunday, only number four makes the other three so hard… that one might as well be in bold. The biggest challenge, the biggest opportunity, other people.
Making the card helps.
Perhaps I can make another one to deal with fits.
I like the cards, if only the cards came in the morning and I could anticipate what would go wrong and steel myself for it… maybe if I track the parts of life I hate I’ll notice a trend I can improve?