Establishing a Writing Habit (Day 13) ✍️

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Renaming pain does relieve a portion of it for me.

I’ve got an interesting headache just now, lowering the brightness seemed to help. I read a book “The Yellow World” by Albert Espinosa

“Albert Espinosa never wanted to write a book about surviving cancer, so he didn’t. He wrote a book instead about the Yellow World. What is the yellow world? The yellow world is a world that’s within everyone’s reach, a world the colour of the sun. It is the name of a way of living, of seeing life, of nourishing yourself with the lessons that you learn from good moments as well as bad ones. It is the world that makes you happy, the world you like living in. The yellow world has no rules; it is made of discoveries.

In these 23 Discoveries Albert shows us how to connect daily reality with our most distant dreams. He tells us that ‘losses are positive’, ‘the word “pain” doesn’t exist’, and ‘what you hide the most reveals the most about you'”

– Good Reads Review of the Yellow World

This was the only book I’ve read based on the recommendation of a personality quiz by Visual DNA, (I almost said a computer, but that would be wrong, because I sometimes read books recommended by Good Reads which uses other books you like to recommend books that actually worked very well for me).

What I found very interesting was the belief that pain does not exist I don’t agree, but at the same time am a curious open minded person, so I tried his activities out to re-frame pain. They work well, like this head ache, when I think I have pain it hurts more, when I think of it as a “pressure” or “pinching” it hurts less. Each time I wonder “does pain even exist” it seems to drop the pain level, to a point. I don’t know if that point is my limit of controlling my opinion or perhaps pain just really exists, but the interesting thing is that I can drop my pain level some amount.

me plus you for ever
Being a romantic sometimes creates unmet expectations, but it also drives you to keep trying and keep believing it is worth it to keep trying, it’s a trade off, but I think worth it.

When my husband came home I asked him if he had ibuprofen or Excedrin, he didn’t but I asked for a kiss and noticed that dropped the pain about 2%.

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Funny thing, I delivered my son with no medicine and then happened to have a headache and the midwife gave me a Tylenol for that and I just took it.

Right now I find it funny that I’m that analytical that I take note of those things as they happen, but I am and I’m also noticing the humor takes a lot of the pain away.

Of course the pain could also be passing and I am just perceiving it as going away, but I don’t think so, because I’ve had this headache for about four hours and it didn’t shift at all until just now.

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13/14 Days am I a writer yet?

My goal right now is to make peace with all the excuses that I blamed for preventing me from writing in the past, it didn’t start that way, but that is what this habit from day 1 – day 14 of constant writing for an hour has now become for me. So when something “bad” does come up, like Monday I was sick, I in a twisted way am getting all excited over the challenge.

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I was sick, but passionate to challenge myself as planned.

If I hadn’t been sick Monday I wouldn’t know I enjoy writing pretty well when I am sick. If I hadn’t been tired one day I wouldn’t know it’s not too terrible writing when tired, better than driving! If I hadn’t of had brain fog I wouldn’t believe it was possible to write through brain fog. I was also afraid one or two days. Worried about loosing followers if I wrote my honest opinion one. Writing to a screaming baby once, I tried to settle the baby, made sure nothing crazy was going on, like hair tourniquet, the baby was clean, fed, warm, safe, but even being rocked wasn’t helping so there was no point to not writing since my full attention wasn’t helping the baby.

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The way I view myself is changing.

I’ve noticed so many things during the past 12 days, about reasons I thought I had for not writing not actually being able to stop me from writing.

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Past me trying to write (I don’t know when, but recently I stopped expecting myself to be perfect…).

Fears about not knowing what the perfect thing to write were the hardest, wanting a rotating scheme of topics to already be a habit, when they are not was the second hardest, wondering if it mattered at all for me to write in a world with so much great writing already available.

One thing that helped me was how many people live and die each day.

150,000 people die each day, if I like writing why not write?

360,000 people are born each day and roughly 8 billion people are alive (I think some people don’t get counted because like human trafficking ext they wouldn’t be counted). Ok, 7.53 billion, but who know the real number when so many people are being born and dying each day?

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Going to need a lot more cake, happy birthday x 360,000 x 365 days a year!

Anyways, 360,000 people born each day, it doesn’t matter (too much) what I do. I have the freedom to fail, plenty of other people can make up for my failure or possibly my effort will inspire people more than what I am actually working on?

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It’s just very hard to understand such a large number, it helps to imagine 360 giant people who are made of 1,000 people each, or 3.6 extremely huge robots that need 10,000 people to staff each robot.

With nearly 8 billion people, maybe my writing will be just the right thing for one of them, also in the future people have access to the past. I read Marcus Aurelius from ancient Rome as much as anyone modern, I think in the future people will find an interest in knowing about our era, no one knows yet for what the writing we write today will be used. For history, for information, for curiosity, inspiration, humor, to save a life, to improve a life, to torture students with outdated prose (hopefully a joke).

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My writers block looks like: I love the articles and books already out there and there are a ton, so why even try?

I guess I am facing my own biggest writers block, which is that I don’t know what my writing will be used for, if it will be useful at all, if it will be lost with time or saved, if it will have been a waste of my life, if by not doing another line of service or craft the down fall of all sentient beings ensues (kind of a joke).

Too often I put too much pressure on myself to try to use my limited time in the best possible way, that sometimes it doesn’t allow me to move forward in the best possible way.

“One often meets their destiny on the road they take to avoid it.”

– Jean de La Fontaine
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I am a better person because of writing.

Something I will never regret about writing is the way it seems to elevate my thoughts. I always hated writing essays for school because I wasn’t allowed to pick the topic I was passionate about, now that I can pick anything, it’s kind of mentally daunting. I hated how much of school was writing essays, citing information (which almost eliminates and discourages innovate thoughts in my opinion), but now what I enjoy doing is writing essays.

It’s very funny to me.

What I once hated most, became one of the things I love most. But a big difference is choice.

Here in the U.S. some kids cry because they have to go to school and in China some kids cry because they can’t go to school.

Stress is caused by adverse events especially when you lack control and knowledge about when the stress will end (uncertainty).

Getting surprise cookies you can’t control and have no idea when they will end wouldn’t be too stressful (unless you don’t like cookies than it could very well be).

Getting surprise beating you can’t control and have no idea when they will end was really stressful, it happened to me. My mother had untreated bipolar disorder, she beat me seemingly at random vs in response to house rules, my husband’s mother beat him as much or more, but in an understandable pattern. He knew when his beatings would happen and when they would stop, I had no idea. My mom looked fine, her face didn’t redden, I walked in her direction to use the hall on the way for a book or something and suddenly she would block me and punch my face or grab my throat, or not. Most of my life I was very against the idea of using violence to discipline children, but recently I’ve seen there is a big difference between parents who do it like a cue, like a very slight touch to call attention to the situation vs what my sister and I grew up with. I’m not advocating for hitting children, but I’ve very recently seen that reasonable force isn’t always violence.

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I forgive my mom, I know she did her best, I wish her the best, but I don’t want to have her in my life. My husband loves and has an improved relationship with his mom. So if you do beat, beat the kids in a understandable way! (Joke)

Today my daughter head butted my hard three times, the third I pulled her head off mine by her hair, it wasn’t done in anger, it wasn’t done hard, but it didn’t feel good on her end and she sulked. I had already asked her to stop, but sometimes my words seem to fall on deaf ears. It’s not what I wanted to happen, but I don’t think it was unfair, I don’t think it was shameful to not try to be more gentle in moving her and I don’t think it would have taught a beautiful lesson of love to keep letting her head butt me until one or both of us had a slight or moderate concussion. I think unfortunately force sometimes begets force and although I would use restrictive force to respond to violence, I think as a parent you sometimes find these bad situations that hypothetical parenting tips or general philosophy or ethics doesn’t address in a realistic way.

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A lot of parenting advice is horribly unrealistic to actually execute.

We are born with a beautiful soul, but there is a phase of life where kids are dangerous to themselves or each other, validating the potential and wanting to respect them as adults sometimes leads to wanting to be able to give children more respect than they can safely handle.

There is a saying not to cast pearls before swine, I think meaning that the swine would not appreciate them, but it would be worse to cast pearls before toddlers for they would probably choke.

I was told my parents called the fire department for a bead I had stuck up my nose at 2 years old, I can’t recall it.

Some kids are exceptions, but mine were not. They liked to experiment and both wanted to chew electrical cords.

My headache is completely gone now. Somehow it feels like writing soothed it, but who knows when it would have just passed anyways.

So, sometimes treating some one you love with more respect than they deserves is bad for all parties.

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Even when you want to be well, some healing takes time.

I think one case was when my husband went on a bachelors party in Costa Rica two months before our wedding that still needed to be planned. I really wanted him to stay, I was going through some health trouble, was hoping to get a ride to a procedure that required anesthesia with him vs someone else, really wanted to plan our wedding basics that everyone was asking me about before and not after he went. I couldn’t have controlled his decision, but I could have controlled mine. I could have said, if you don’t want to work together with me on this wedding that you asked to have (I had wanted a private wedding with just us two in Yosemite) than I don’t feel comfortable having the wedding. But I didn’t. I hoped he would read my mind, I hoped more than anything that he would decide on his own to support me, and he didn’t. We shopped for my wedding dress two weeks before the wedding (me with a broken ankle), got a color that I didn’t think went well with his suit and over all rushed choices that were not reflective of us being a team or of either of our values or preferences.

As much as I want it to be water under the bridge now, it was the beginning of an uncomfortable acceptance of an unhappy marriage probably for both of us.

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Forgiveness is a step, but it doesn’t fix the damage all by itself.

I love my husband, I loved my husband, I’m grateful to my husband, but if you had a sports team and the team wasn’t performing well together you can say, they aren’t doing so well, it’s okay to say that. We are not doing horrible, but since we had “the magic” for so long in the beginning and since I’ve seen so many old couple’s still in love I know it’s possible. It may not happen again for us, but I know it’s possible because I’ve seen it a few times.

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Some people say romantic love is silly and modern, but without it I wouldn’t do my husband’s laundry for free and sacrifice my career goals when they conflict his!

Yesterday I watched some Ted Talks about relationships (this applies to all relationships I think):

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Perhaps I can learn what I don’t know yet and live a better life. Worth a try.

John Gottman who made the 5:1 rule (5 positive interactions to each negative is enough to buffer the bad and keep a stable relationship). That’s interesting to any math fans because he has data and formula and quadrants and can tell accurately if people will or will not get divorced from many things including stonewalling and how people argue.

 Dr. Andrea & Jonathan Taylor-Cummings covered 4 habits that were helpful and easy to apply:

1. Be curious, not critical.
2. Be careful not crushing.
3. Ask don’t assume.
4. Connect before correcting.

And there was one more that I can’t find that covered “emotional responsiveness,” this was the moment where I found fault with myself.

My husband likes to gossip about work, I hate gossip, so I hit this bad part of the day where he comes home and wants to talk and I don’t want to hear about his coworkers lives. He wants me to want to, I think maybe sometimes I want to want to, but I never want to. I was told it’s not nice to gossip, at some point it became ingrained, I don’t know if it’s a belief I should or shouldn’t keep, but it definitely created a problem in my marriage over time.

My biggest complaint on a daily basis is my husband either being mean or making mean jokes about me and I know his is my lack of enthusiasm for what he wants to talk about (celebrity gossip, work place gossip, political slander based very little on facts).

We love each other, but today was the first day in as long as I can remember that we had a conversation I enjoyed.

I think it’s largely my fault, because I don’t know how to say nicely the problems I have in our team dynamic, it seems taboo to even voice any complaints, but if we were a sports team it would be okay. I could say, hey you could use some time working on defense or free throws or pretty much anything and I could take the critique as well, bring up your speed, work on you left side ext.

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The first rule of marriage fight club is we don’t talk about marriage fight club (joke).

It’s so taboo to me to discuss having problems with my marriage it’s the last thing I wrote about when my ideas were done. But I don’t in any way want to slander my husband, I think we are pretty typical and I wonder how things could be better.

I’m so comfortable talking about habit change in any other realm of life, perhaps the discomfort about talking about relationships is part of the reason I don’t communicate better to my husband directly? I feel like I have and it didn’t work, but usually I don’t let anything stop me so easily from making my life better.

There was a wonderful painting I think called “The Wall Between Us” with a hand reaching through a brick wall with a small hole, I wanted to find it, but I can’t find it tonight… too much U.S. Mexico wall “news,” ironically my husband was born in Mexico and I in California so there was literally a wall between us…

Anyways I am always trying to be a better person and restore to wholeness the broken things in my life, bit by bit, so I am going to try the eight things that I have learned. Calm, trust, commitment form John Gottman, curiosity, being thoughtful of other’s feelings, asking questions, adding more connection and the one I don’t like to do “emotional responsiveness” and see what I can do, if anything, I say that not out of defeatism, but because a marriage like a team is not controllable by one person alone. I can do my part, but I can’t have my way over something bigger than me alone. I’ve gotten marriage counseling without my husband once and worked on all the homework and it didn’t improve the relationship, so that is a reason my normal optimism is a bit tempered in this matter.

Many thanks

To all of you who take the time to read this or any of my writing, thank you so much, if any of you are happily married and have tips I would not mind the advice! And too all of you thank you so much for helping me grow as a writer, I would go on with no one watching, but the support changes the process and gives me a feeling of connection to the world that I’m very grateful for. 💐

Establishing a Writing Habit (Day 12) ✍️

Opportunity cost, something hard to face.

Life is finite, the day is finite, energy is finite, even if we have time, and most people don’t have much free time it seems, then being honest we can only do high quality work a certain extent at a time. We all have our own limits, but we all have limits.

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I can do a lot, but not everything I would like to get done.

That concept is part of economics, I graduated without ever taking economics.

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Maybe that should be a bigger part of the school system, since it’s the basis of our society?

I had no idea economics was the study of choices, I thought it was money (accounting). Which if you know me, wouldn’t have been bad to take either.

But I had no idea economics was the study of everyday people, the choices they make, where they get their income and how they use that and other resources.

Even though I didn’t study economics I have been struggling with the concept of opportunity cost for a very long time. It’s wanting more than you need because of that temptation of what you can’t have ie wanting all the candy at the candy store, when you don’t even enjoy candy. Wanting to date both the cute boys at school, though you actually don’t like either one’s personality.

A few falls ago I was introduced to the idea of mental bias and started logging a mental bias journal. Studying how loss bias, love bias, hate bias, authority bias affected me.

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Thinking about my flawed thinking is liberating, yet consumes time and energy.

I could have gone on, but I felt that to constantly do that is to live a little bit less. I think it’s great to examine your own bias, yet reflection and action seem to cost a lot of energy, so sometimes I choose the one and at other times the other.

When you are buying something a low price is fair, when you are selling a high price is fair, though the item doesn’t change in real value. But because it’s yours you give it more value. Not always, but as a general phenomena. One place that is uncomfortably so is my children, I consider myself more rational than average (as the average person does, ha ha) but I know very well that 1. My children are actually worth the same as any children and 2. I am completely unable to act as if my children are worth the same as any children. Not only I spend more time, effort and love on my children, but also my thoughts, my concerns. I’m going to keep my children out of public school so I won’t be spear heading the check points schools in my areas should probably install to keep students safe from shootings in our very populated area. Some part of me sees the potential in all children, but it would be very hard to deny my children something that in all reality another child deserves more. Hate bias, I couldn’t vote for a racist even knowing they were the best at the job, because I hate that particular message, it goes against my personal values and essentially most of my core ethics at the same time. It’s irrational if I knew that they wouldn’t able to act on the racism and they could do a better job, but I just wouldn’t vote for them even if I didn’t vote for anyone for the position, I couldn’t.

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I know my baby isn’t worth more than any other baby, but I doubt my heart will ever accept that.

Some of our biases are a deep part of us, all could be changed, but at what cost?

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“This is totally fine, as long as it’s what everyone does” (Popularity Bias)

Vegetarianism is a good example for me. My dad is Japanese, they went without meat for hundreds of years because Chinese monks told them it was immoral, then trade opened up and they found the Chinese had been eating meat and fish. In an instant the ethics changed.

I prefer to eat meat. But I know I can survive without it, it’s been done in war time in Europe, all over the world by Buddhists, and by people who can’t afford meat, have allergies or just don’t prefer it.

I was casually discussing deaths from plastic surgery (not hare lip or burns, but improving normal to “let’s say improved”) and I find it sad that people are lost like that. I’ve shadowed a surgeon and seeing the consultations it seems as if the people who get repeated surgery are chasing something they can’t get by surgery with surgery and it seems like an unnecessary loss of life to loose the ones who don’t wake up again.

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I find it sad to loose people who seemed to want validation enough to die trying to get it.

The woman who I was talking with, who I respect and who is a vegetarian, told me she believed everyone just has a time to go and that can’t be changed despite struggle.

Ethos vs Pathos?

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Or is it just in your head? I don’t know.

Struggling against fate vs accepting fate…

I too believe that on a normal day, so it doesn’t make since to be sad about the people lost to plastic surgery if it was their time, and for vegetarians it doesn’t make sense not to eat animals because they are being killed (if you believe in death as a part of fate).

So, possibly I’m wrong or possibly she is wrong, or both of us, but we all function as a collection of mental inconsistencies.

I don’t want to attack her vegetarianism, I don’t think one needs a reason to be vegetarian. I’m more exploring myself about the ethics on my end.

I don’t believe in eating a lot of meat, I almost always eat two meals without and one with some meat, not always a lot. For a very long time we have eaten meat, it’s been a part of humanity, it connects me to the Earth in a spiritual way, I enjoy it better than being vegetarian, which I have done twice for 6 months each time.

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Perhaps we all need a different life to be at our bests?

There are a few body types, I am a mesomorph, the people I know who enjoy being vegetarians have been ectomorphs and endomorphs, other than the body type the gut has different kinds of biomes. I know for me, I have trouble digesting a lot of grains, and I feel fine with meat. I support anyone who feels better or doesn’t want to eat meat to not eat it, but I sometimes feel attacked about eating meat, which works for me physically, mentally, ethically.

I’m not sure if it’s valid, but I remember watching a show about Aboriginal people who were sick with type 2 Diabetes returning to their traditional diet of lizard (Goanna) meat and returning to health faster than other study groups. It’s small scale, so perhaps it’s a fluke, but it rings true to me that different bodies obtain optimal health with different food choices.

I enjoy tofu, just the way it is, not fried, not turned into meat.

I have all my life.

Last year I learned my father went through a food allergy issue like I had, and he had to survive solely off tofu. I went through something similar about four years ago and survived off rice and water for a few months, but it was intensely stressful because I was pregnant so the pressure to eat much more was intense, but impossible anyways.

Elizabeth Pennisi wrote an article explaining how viruses when they don’t become an extreme problem actually reset gut health sometimes in a similar way to friendly bacteria. I have no way of knowing, but I think E. coli food poisoning actually fixed my gut after a few unhappy weeks last year, if so it was worth it in the end.

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But it fixed my horrible allergies, so yay!

Eating tofu was always welcome and special for me, my father just diced it and served a small dish of soy sauce with it, but it counted as a home cooked dish in my mind. I know for many people, it’s gross. But I’ve always loved it. For me hummus is gross (the texture) even though my sister and many other love it. So I could easily be vegetarian, but though I want animals to be treated with respect and given good conditions I still don’t mind the idea of eating them.

Yes their life will end, but also so will mine, maybe with old age, maybe before, but all of us face the end and some plants may be capable of feeling pain, so the question to me is not what I can do to kill nothing, but how I can myself survive in a balanced way with the planet.

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Mortality: this party everyone goes to, but yet it is dead.

Part of the problem I have with vegetarianism is that it isn’t so easy in my area, there are some options of course, it is also not hard, I would say it’s medium, but if I lived somewhere where there were already good vegetarian restaurants and precooked food I would probably just go along with it. When society is changed I will not protest, yet I have other things to champion that actually resonate with my values, so I will not be an enemy, but also not a champion of that movement.

I know the whole world, all eating a lot of meat is bad for the environment, but if a small portion who is healthier that way, eats a little bit, that’s no longer black and white.

I enjoyed the “Don’t Panic – The Truth About Population” documentary with Professor Hans Rosling. I share that same basic belief that the world population will level off when the worlds technology level levels off and that although warming is a reality, I am optimistic we will have ingenuity to cope with it in some way, I hope without catastrophe, but one way or another, necessity is often the mother of invention. Life is always in flux and although serious and real, change is and always has been the hallmark of life on this planet.

Of course I could be wrong on all accounts. But I think if there is fate (and death is part of fate) then not eating meat to prevent the death of the animal is moot. However I have no idea if there is fate or not, it feels that way, but I have a brain that likes to draw connections where there are no real connections. The only way to be however is to draw the connections to the truth as best I can, knowing many will be wrong, but without having any other way to move forward.

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I noticed my internal beliefs don’t match, but I don’t know which are wrong and I think that’s part of being human. 🌦️

There was a time I didn’t want to eat meat, because I was sad about the animals death, but not that they died to be eaten, because they died at all, I can’t stop that. There was a time I didn’t think the sanitation was adequate, but that’s kind of all food, even my own veggies have slugs that have parasites, I wash the veggies twice to avoid the rat lung worm, but if that’s my own garden I know it’s the other veggies too. Life has risks and valid ethical struggles, but one person can only fight a certain amount of battles in a day and for me I would fight for education, for human children, my sister would fight for dogs, I think we all seek to create positive impact and harmony with the Earth in the way that we can connect to with our soul and also our circumstance. 🕊️

Establishing a Writing Habit (Day 11) ✍️

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My daughter learned to read (phonetically) today!

Huge day for me, my daughter has always since two weeks old been reading select sight words by sight, but today she learned phonics.

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I was about to teach her and my sister video called us, I asked for her help and went to the kitchen for a coffee, when I came back she had learned to read by sounding out words.

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An interesting milestone. In China phonics doesn’t usually happen, each word is remembered alone, it’s a hard system, takes a few hundred times to remember each word, brain scans of native speakers show it’s even draining for them to read Chinese. The Phoneticians gave some of the world their alphabet, which my daughter learned the sounds of everyday as I drove home from work I sang the alphabet song phonetically all the way home for an hour. But today while I made a coffee my sister helped my daughter learn to blend the sounds.

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Actually I was making a coffee while it happened… but I helped before and after.

The way I explained it was that letters got married, like “a” and “t” in “at”, then they invited other friends for dinner even if they were single, like “c” in “cat”. We went through a lot of “at” words (cat, fat, bat, sat, pat, vat) as examples, then went through “un” words (fun, sun bun), but for sure no one told her and she hadn’t known “run” she sounded it out herself and it was kind of an emotional moment. My face shows nothing, but inside I was really proud of her. Not because she is early, but because she is growing to a stage that makes since for her life. My family had me reading two years before my daughter, but it was 1. The only thing we learned vs part of many things and 2. Perhaps done in a way that didn’t allow “balanced development” meaning I didn’t mix in playing with other kids or drawing, it was just reading and more reading and more reading. I think in neither case was the reading done to show off, my grandmother wrote children’s books and I think there was just a genuine love of reading books on both sides of my family. I know in my case I didn’t teach reading to my four year old because she would tick a box a year early, she was interested in words and would look or ask, so I don’t see a reason not to explore that interest. Often we would drop it as other things were going on, and when we did study it was brief.

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I’m glad that my daughter is reading, but I would have been fine with it happening later. My sister started at 8, I started at 2, she had a better high school and college GPA than I did and earns more, so really it’s just a tool, that can be wonderful, but isn’t the most important thing in the world.

I love you unconditionally.
Acceptance is more important to me than academics.

That was a good moment, my son learned to walk about a week ago and it was a similar moment, happy to see my kids unfolding like a healthy plant unfolding it’s leaves and stem that were already wrapped up in the seed just waiting to come out.

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But it’s also good seeing potential fulfilled.

We also started some flowers my daughter bought seeds for from Dollar Tree for .25 each, which have their first two leaves today.

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I was surprised my daughter picked seeds over candy, no push from me.

It feels like a really satisfying time as a mother right now, spring flowers blooming, my baby walking, my daughter reading, my husband being thoughtful and considerate lately.

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I’m 34, but this is the “emotional spring” of my life for sure.

Each week we have a “stoic quote” this week’s didn’t match my Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday, but it matches my day today:

“It is in times of security that the spirit should be preparing itself for difficult times; while fortune is bestowing favors on it is then is the time for it to be strengthened against her rebuffs.”

– Seneca
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The bad will come, soak up the good with no shame when it presents itself.

I was sick on Monday and got through the day with some grace, let myself recover Tuesday, took another 5 mile walk with the kids Wednesday, and the old me would have went back to exercise today, but the current me spent the day doing extra reading practice.

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The old me: “I’m missing my streak, noo!”

There is a saying by Magda Gerba about vaulting for diamonds, she imagined someone high vaulting and creating diamonds with the leap of faith.

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Jumping without knowing the consequences. (Usually not something I do.)

I don’t know if I’ve ever done that before, but I did it today with teaching reading.

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Sounded crazy, but it actually came together this time!

I got this feeling that today if we went on from 10-12 practicing instead of 10-11 practicing and then exercise at 11 that my daughter could “get it” understand how the blocks we always casually exposed her to all worked together at a basic level. And it worked. I saw my sister when I said, “we are just going to learn to read today no matter how long it takes” I imagine she thought I was being crazy and uptight, but I didn’t feel like that, I just felt like it was the right time.

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Later that day I did more nerdy stuff, like I do.

Today I looked up a simple preschool curriculum and didn’t hate the one I found first, I am in a “unschooling crowd” but I’m not really an “unschooler”. I didn’t want to base my curriculum on the 27th best country’s (U.S.) ideas, instead I researched Finland, China and Australia a lot and started my curriculum over 4 years ago. It was things like painting, nothing strict or like training seals to honk horns… but now there is “common core standards” meaning the whole country requires some basic concepts to be done at certain ages, like counting to a certain number (100 in kindergarten). I don’t think counting to 100 is the most important thing to learn in kindergarten, I think team work is more important, but I wanted to have a rough idea what the requirements were even as I don’t want to be driven towards them, I am willing to incorporate them into what I do find valuable so that my child has some common knowledge on the same pace with her friends. So, having synced with kindergarten common core, I decided only today to go back and check what other preschools were doing.

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My self made curriculum matched the 27th best country pretty well after all… suprising.

For better or worse it was extremely similar to what we did as well without having read any guides at all. My goal was introduce the world a bit at a time and build the foundation for skills such as drawing, communication, math ext. I used Portland University’s guide and found that we were 73% done with their standards already. What we could keep doing more of is below:

🧮 Identifying and creating patterns (AB, AABB, ABAB, etc.).
📚 Learning to spell and write their name.
📚 Repeat and memorize nursery rhymes and finger plays.
🔬 Exploration with microscopes, magnifying glasses and prisms.
🔬 Watch a plant grow, making a daily picture of how it changes.
🔬 Learn to measure ingredients for a special snack time.
🎭 Learn traditional songs and create hand motions or dance movements to accompany them.
🎭 Explore and use musical instruments like rhythm sticks.
🎭 Find other materials to practice rhythm and having a visual way to see it through scarves or bean bags.
🧑‍🤝‍🧑 Work together on a simple project where each child has a part to accomplish and put together.
🧑‍🤝‍🧑 Be able to express their personal information like school, and where they live by city state and country.
🧑‍🤝‍🧑 Exploring what kinds of people work in their town and what kinds of jobs they have.
🧑‍🤝‍🧑 Identify types of transportation

What we had been doing was biology, the bodies organs, identifying fact vs fiction and learning to identify poems from other writing types.

⭐ Biology: Organs – Fact vs Fiction – Poems

My school’s name is “Polestar Preschool,” it’s philosophy is becoming more refined today, it’s a matter of teaching advanced concepts to create a reason for basic ones and avoid (but not exclude) route memorization.

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I will begin with “why it matters” not “memorize this and this and that.”

Meaning looking forward at biology I can show the pattern of trees that repeats in veins, I can show the cholera outbreaks that match snowy mildew on leafs, I can look for significant patterns to teach and fulfill the way I wanted to teach at the same time as creating a standard knowledge base. I can buy my daughter her name in wood blocks from the $0.98 store as a test of her spelling of her name. I can teach her a play from our heritage with puppets rather than act out something standard. We can visit the Discovery Cube next week to use their microscope instead of buying one we won’t use much yet.

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So much to learn and teach on this beautiful world.

It was pure luck that I looked at preschool and common core backwards, but I like the idea of teaching that way. Using what I think matters to teach what is age appropriate and looking ahead to what’s next whenever my daughter is ahead in certain areas.

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Thank you all so much for sharing my journey tonight!

Lokahi = Restoring Life Balance

I made my own Lokahi triangle finally!
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I’ve been thinking about this for the last six months.

I’ve been thinking about the times I feel at peace, it’s not always because I’m doing more or making less mistakes, it’s when I am living in a balanced way.

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To be human is to err, to be human is to constantly experiment.

I am still making plenty of mistakes, but I face them with love and honesty and I am at peace with the mistakes now.

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When you love your own mistakes, you are never short on love.

I am getting some things done, but I’m very much in the middle between the super clean super moms who work (I don’t) and the moms who can’t create stability due to being burnt out and overwhelmed or lacking tools.

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I cook, nobody “cleans” (much) it works for us.

What I have done successfully lately is balance how much I can do and how much I have to take care of myself, I won’t call it self care because I take care of all of us (my son, daughter and I) together, we eat three meals together, we exercise together, we have some time apart, but actually most of the “care” activities we do together and that has made it easier for me to manage my time. There is a 1 hour breakfast block for everyone’s breakfast to get cooked, eaten, cleaned, this includes me, but not in isolation.

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To make a great life, hack away at the inessential.

What I’ve been finding is many parts of life have a very fine balance, like joy vs meaning, either extreme is less wonderful than a middle ground. Love vs impact, can be spending time with your own family/dog/spouse or helping the community/world. Even significance and truth are in conflict, the truth is we are such a small part of the world, yet in the hearts of those around us we still hold significance, we are nearly insignificant at the same time as we are emotionally someone’s sun, moon or universe.

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Small in the grand scheme, gives me plenty of room for error and joy.

Establishing a Writing Habit (Day 10) ✍️

Today a day of mental flexibility, life balance and putting out fires.

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More than Before = Not that Much

Today was an off day, I like to take walks, but taking walks means that the normal schedule changes.

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I 💖 🚶‍♀️

I leave around 11AM and come home right before 4PM, so it’s 5 hours in the sun. Walking to the park 2.5 miles away, playing at the park, browsing a store of having a picnic, then walking home 2.5 miles with my four year old and 11 month old.

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Spring has come in Southern California!

It’s kind of nice, my son enjoyed the grass, bark, sticks and rocks of the park today and my daughter made a friend and played nicely with someone new (which is what she loves doing).

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Noticed for the first time how soft grass is.

It’s a really enjoyable part of our week, we spend a little at Dollar Tree or on snacks, but not too much.

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$9 for 3 pots (2 self watering), 3 sketch books, a fairy garden animal set, and apple shampoo.

In the morning I woke up before my daughter which was lovely, she usually wakes up first and wakes everyone else up Anna from Frozen style (which is not cute in real life). It was great to wake up simply after having enough rest and have part of a coffee before my high energy child woke up for the first time in as long as I can remember.

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What a beautiful morning to be alive!

Then I started checking on our bills, which is horrible with kids, that’s why I want to do it when my husband is home on the weekend rather than Wednesday the day he gets paid. Sigh. I try to have a good attitude, but failed today. Between proving I am me over and over because my last computer got broken and this is a new one (it feels like it’s always a new one) and finding out something went wrong with auto pay and we had a late fee, which I hate. Well at least I fixed things before our credit score got worse, it’s wonderful, but managing our many open accounts is something I’m not sure is worth it. Two accounts got closed for non-usage, got them reopened, activated the cards, have to log into 11 different accounts, plus the bank, plus the student loan account and having done half took an hour. The kids were good today for the first time ever, but doing the bills when I usually do school time made me feel so guilty. However I don’t have energy to do it at night lately. So, finished paying $2 candy bills on a few accounts, paid the late fee on the failed auto pay account. Checked the two cards that have a little bit of debt from last year and the midwife bill.

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“For your safety please tell my why your first pet died and your oldest uncle’s first pets name, again, and again, then give me the phone confirmation code, followed by the email confirmation code and then maybe you can pay your bill, this time.” – My Credit Card Bank

I keep telling myself and my husband I want him to handle this stuff because he calls the shots of how much to pay and he has a better memory for dates things need to go out, but somehow it always ends up being me.

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Not a Fan of Finances

We paid $7,000 for my son’s midwife I think, so I understand why we have $5,000 left at 0% that we keep moving for a 3-5% fee. Kind of understand. We have savings that could pay our debt, yet my husband is not comfortable without a certain amount of savings so we don’t, therefore it’s a chore to keep track of what is going on with it… because I never did my finances his way, I always paid my debt ASAP. Different people like different things, but I married one and it can really be torturous at times to be married to someone who wants to do B to my A, X to my Y, seemingly every time.

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Isn’t it funny that we have nothing in common but have to deal with each other often?

Today we studied Hawaiian and we watched a legend of Maui capturing the sun, at the end he says to do your everyday work with honor and aloha and again I thought to myself about transforming my mind to enjoy the daily tasks I do.

all my love and support
When you can do your normal street sweeping with all your love and attention you become a real life hero (but I’m not all the way there yet).

Right now I so enjoy my morning hour, my writing hour and my hour watching my son play. I love my daughter, but her special hour she wants us to act like the girls from Frozen or dinosaurs ext and I actually hate that hour more than any other hour of the day. It’s that way between my husband and I as well, the party, restaurant, relative or place the one is craving is almost never the one the other person is craving and we just support one another. I read “Never Split the Difference” and wanted to stop compromising and find things we both enjoy, but it has not become a reality yet. But I’m thinking about “stealing” enjoyment from work by enjoying my work.

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If I can enjoy the laundry, dishes, cleaning, disciplining the kids oh what fun I can have…

Finances, I am so lucky we are okay since we never saved responsibly until after we had kids and I was lucky my husband wanted to pay for midwifes both kids since I prefer that to the hospital setting personally, it was costly for us, but if someday we have money and nothing to spend it on I wouldn’t have been able to go back and have a different birth experience for my kids. Perhaps it was an irresponsible luxury finance wise, but honestly most of our existence had also been that way and at least this was spent on something that mattered to us. I liked the way the babies didn’t have to be taken away from me, I liked not having to leave my home when I was already uncomfortable having a baby, I liked not worrying if the staff was going to mishandle my allergies and accidentally kill me or make me sick on top of the birth process.

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At least my big spending has been in the area I actually care about.

We are not the worst, but also typical in being a little too lazy to track our finances as well as we should with others depending on us.

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Did anyone pay attention to the bills this month or last month? Anyone?

We are not unified in opinion, so I guess that makes things more stressful. My husband would rather take investment “opportunities” that I would avoid, I would rather budget a detailed amount and know my limits for the kids, for total spending, yet my husband has always refused. And who am I to insist at this point that I don’t work? He makes the money, if he handles it his way why worry? Because then he expects me to keep an eye on things.

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Marriage really lets you learn to enjoy making financial decisions with your spouse.

Sigh.

I don’t know why I hate finances so much, but also I don’t like being a supporting player of a team who is run by someone with different values than me, but I married that guy…

So finances, not my favorite thing. I ignore them, stress about them, waste $40 on late fees, do them again, vow to make my husband handle them himself, then repeat the cycle.

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At this point I should remember that I forget and just put a physical note somewhere or something like that.

I could really use some mental redecorating about my bad attitude and some consistency about keeping an eye on the finances.

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Keeping track of money is like my Achilles heel.

I guess that is a great place to start doing my chores with honor and aloha. Going to attempt to track my finances better, and hopefully get more comfortable being the supporting actor in financial decisions.

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I should save now while it’s a good time for us to do so, late is better than never.

Still don’t have a good system, I have Mint, but it had a major melt down when it changed it’s system and our bank also updated. Amazon just shows up as Amazon and that’s a problem, so though I would love to use mint it doesn’t quite function since I can’t split Amazon up the day it is spent since it takes many days to appear. I have a paper planner going, a second paper planner, a digital note and the Mint app, but with everything everywhere nothing is anywhere… so I guess for me:

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Attack Plan

Step 1: Have a better attitude, very grateful we have everything we need and good credit, I should be honored to manage the finances that take care of what my kids and I need.

I appreciate you
I appreciate my bills because they in general pay for the life I enjoy.

Step 2: Have a better system, everything from Amazon or cash spending needs to go on my Google Keep note other things show up okay on Mint and I can add my spending at night when I have my tea.

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You know you won’t remember – me – don’t even try, write it down.

Step 3: Accountability, I need to make sure I do this, because relying on other people isn’t just nor has it worked in the past. Perhaps when I have my morning coffee I can ask myself if I noted my spending.

accurate
I guess this is my responsibility to be in charge of at least my spending and bills.

Not saving when we can’t is fine, but when we can it’s like us stealing from our own future, it’s difficult to retrain myself to focus on money, when I never have (though I should have) but I feel that now as a parent I can no longer go on telling my daughter to think about what she buys because there is an opportunity cost while at the same time paying late fees again and again. In a sense I am buying the luxury of constant forgetfulness rather than a cool Art History text book for my daughter or a sponsorship for an orphan ext. 💸

Actually made a note of my plan with Sketch.Io (Free Online Image Program)

Establishing a Writing Habit (Day 9) ✍️

true story
Writing a fictional story for my daughter tonight.

My daughter has two favorite stuffed dinosaurs, “Mama Blue” and “Little Tree Eater,” this is the beginning of a story for her about those stuffed dinosaurs, it’s pretty passive right now, but I’m just discovering the “made up” world as I write so maybe I will go back and rewrite in a more active tone later or if I don’t enjoy the project maybe I will leave it as is, either way I can illustrate some pictures and produce a photo-book version for my daughter as a gift later.

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Under a red sun, near the star Gliese, is a world of monsters. Forty-two years away from the light of the yellow sun, this world is different than the Earth, different, but also home to life.

Long ago, there were dragons, dragons who traveled through space. These dragons had children who were different than them, babies who became the guardians of their world’s spirits.

The ancestors were known as dragons, and over generations, their children grew different depending upon the world in which they lived. The children had tiny friends with tubes on their faces known to some as water bears. The children are called many things; some people call them the dinosaurs.

Life is abundant in the galaxy, comets with small animals bring them across the worlds, as planets die some are born, and life migrates across the cosmos like a skipping stone across a pond.

It is impossible to know where life first started, but some believe it was on the ocean world orbiting the star Gliese. In a world of mostly water, under thick clouds of steam, under the ocean of hot ice, is a rocky core. Vast fields of underwater plants created pockets of air that get trapped under the ice, the plants for a thick mat that doesn’t absorb the heat well and creates a swampy, yet survivable temperature. Upon those plains of plants are herds of Jobaria.

The Jobarias of this world are much like the Jobaria of Earth, except indigo blue in color. Their darkness dissipates the heat well far under the clouds of steam, far under the ocean of hot ice, deep in the vast Underdark.

Jobarias grow 49,000 lbs and 60 ft tall, they are not great thinkers but are very kind and agile. They visit a tree of wisdom and think together if they feel the need to seek an answer to a question. They spend a lot of time eating from the purple trees, which taste like lavender, and they also sing in low soothing voices. Jobarias don’t like to change, but on one particularly hot year, a tiny six-inch egg hatched a baby girl jobaria who was different than the rest of her heard. When she hatched out of her egg, the baby glowed both gold and silver (like a sea mushroom), but unlike any other jobaria, who had ever been remembered by the herd. She looked like a stary sky, but the jobaria had never seen a stary sky far beneath the sea ice of their planet surrounding Gliese.

Her mother was so surprised about her daughter’s glowing spots, she wondered if the baby was ill and what to do, so she decided that they should seek the tree of wisdom, but that tree was a very long way from where they lived, it lay across an ocean under the island of land where they lived. The mother’s name was “blue,” a name given to the most beautiful Jobaria, meaning that she lived up to an ideal of how she should look. Though she didn’t take pride in being what she had been born to be, Blue didn’t like to complain about her name, so she kept the secret that she would have preferred something that reflected her soul.

After having her baby some people called her Mama Blue, which she actually didn’t care for any more than Blue, since almost every female became a mother, it seemed like it didn’t really differentiate her from anyone else.

Mama Blue was confused about what to name her daughter, who was blue, but also wasn’t blue. She didn’t need to name her right away. First, she watched her baby wondering if she was different in other ways.

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I’m posting publicly for at least 14 days because it helps me be more accountable, thanks for your patience and encouragement!

The time passed quickly tonight, something soothing about writing fiction, maybe that’s why living without fact checking is more enjoyable. 🦕

Establishing a Writing Habit (Day 8) ✍️

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Surprised, a few interruptions from my kids didn’t keep me from the overall goal.

It’s about to be 6PM here, I’m looking forward to writing, it’s become a habit now. A weak habit, yet a habit, I can feel it, settling down with no internal argument, no internal criticism, that feeling of wanting to have a project before starting is gone, that feeling of not knowing what is coming next is gone (even though I still don’t know).

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I like this better than speaking, easier to not be rude, but also to express the soul.

I think it is because I always liked writing and also because I wrote morning pages for a few years that it only took 8 days to build this preliminary habit.

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This was just a habit, not who I am.

So much of who we are and what we are is made of habits.

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Perhaps life would have been different or could be still?

I believe in a soul with certain tendencies, but I think for far too long I put far too much of who I thought I was in the wrong box. Perhaps if I had played with children instead of growing up in the woods I wouldn’t be as introverted, perhaps if my family had meeting I would have been a speaker rather than a writer, or a painter, who knows?

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I would have missed the woods, except how do you miss what you never knew?

Washed my daughter’s dinner plates, table, brushed everyone’s teeth, I have 28 teeth, I had never known that. I had 4 more in the past, but needed them to be removed for lack of space. I always thought it was weird that an average person had too many teeth, it seemed like for all the talk of people being built in God’s image that we would just have teeth that actually fit in our mouth. So either that’s just metaphorical or there is some kind of divine dentist. But why need teeth at all in an afterlife if eating is to survive? Unless there is more eating, and then I feel like I’m going to have to wash dishes there too. Unless dishwashers there don’t need the dishes to be pre-washed. That’s as far as I’ve ever thought about the afterlife.

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Hoping if there is an afterlife it has no laundry to wash.

I was trying to team the kids up together to have more teeth brushed than me, but I accidentally set them up for failure, my daughter has 20 teeth, my son 7, so they couldn’t beat my 28 even as a team.

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Accidentally set up my kids to fail as a team for the first time.

In the past I’ve usually loved writing, I’ve written a few books I’ve discarded. I wrote a decent 240 page book at age 12, but I didn’t have the project management skills to revise it and offer it anywhere.

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What to do with this writing habit?

I’m not interested in publishing so much, more interested in creating books. I could upload my book to the open library.org online once I finish, but finishing is a problem.

I have too many ideas, I start too many projects, last year I wrote half of two books and scrapped both rather than brainstorming what to do and finishing something.

I can be quite passionate and wake hours early to have enough time to write. I can also manage my time well and have an hour everyday and make progress that way, but yet I have never finished a book outside of school.

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In school it was so easy, everyone was assigned to do it, everyone did something, it seemed so possible in those settings. Yet now, there is a fear about doing something worth doing. At least I’ve backed off insane perfection, but even with lower standards there are no guaranties at all.

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Just seeking a shred of certainty in an uncertain world.

Perhaps if I can set the emotional bar at “poor quality or better” than that would let me work with a low enough pressure not to crush my sensitive soul before I even get started. Maybe if I pretend I’m in school and I have to turn in my homework?

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Poor quality or better is good enough for dinner at my house!

I have a problem though, I don’t like to start without knowing why I am starting and I really don’t know why yet. Perhaps to know what it feels like to complete a childhood promise for the first time?

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Limited time, why choose that project?

Last year my sister bought me a cello, it is beautiful, I didn’t have enough time to learn to play it yet, but my father was able to pick it up surprisingly quickly having been a trumpet player it was a surprising jump. There was so much satisfaction of having an opportunity to do something I had always wanted to.

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I wanted to go to band class and learn cello, but didn’t have a cello.

I intend to learn the cello with time, but I think the greatest satisfaction is in the opportunity, that now I can, I won’t really know until I can play and then I will really know, but I can play the piano and strangely there isn’t much satisfaction in that for me.

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Playing for fun can be wonderful, but it isn’t worth hours of practicing for me to be better than a casual musician.

I was taught to play piano to check my singing tune for choir, so I internalized the idea, I’m just playing to be able to check the notes. I’m a decent player, but don’t enjoy it. I much prefer guitar where I am horrible. I like the resonance of the stings under my hands, rather than hidden away.

It’s nice to remember that about myself, or I guess realize it, I never realized what I preferred possibly because I thought it was irrelevant and that I would never find the time.

I’m reading “The Phantom Tollbooth” to my daughter and the copy I have is literally falling apart as we read it. I picked it up from a leave a book, take a book free book library at the nature center, I have no idea what it’s been through, but the chapters are falling off the glue at the back after we turn the pages, there is some majesty and finality to seeing a book die. My grandfather left me a dictionary over 100 years old, that book was not falling apart as badly as this one, I don’t know what happened to this one, but this will clearly be it’s last reading.

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It’s so interesting reading the book as it falls apart…

Maybe I can write a short book for my daughter, to get her interested in reading, that way she has something from me and perhaps also I’ll know if all I wanted was to fulfill the promises of a child to the future.

For some reason my daughter is in love with Jobaria, African long necked dinosaurs. A book about a Jobaria would probably be a good project for now.

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Does anyone have advice on how to pick projects, is it intuitive, is it based on what the world lacks or the zeitgeist of the time? I kind of lost touch with that part of my creative process, once upon a time I just flowed with ideas, but now I feel stuck staring down a cross roads of infinite forks.

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Any tips or ideas on how to decide on a project welcome! 🙋

Establishing a Writing Habit (Day 7) ✍️

I feel nothing
Comfortable with Discomfort

This is the latest I’ve started, I’m a little sleepy, but I don’t feel worried about being sleepy this time.

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Sleepy but Enjoying the Reflective Feeling of Sunday

We had our second family meeting today and it went so much better. My daughter gave a little presentation, we talked about weekly goals, team building ideas, watched a half budgeting video from YouTube and had an open floor for problems, my daughter brought up her friend playing too rough.

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Our Family’s Safe Communication Space is Open for Business

I taught close quarters combat today for martial arts class, we covered heel strikes, elbow strikes (vertical and horizontal), knees, practiced a knife disarm that we knew already in close quarters finishing with a guillotine, we practiced front kicks with an elbow strike in a hallway.

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Writing at Night is Enjoyable in Different Ways

I am surprised at how well I adapted to writing at night. When I started I thought I could never like writing at night as much as the morning, but actually I think I could adapt to either one.

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Learning About Myself, but Have More to Learn Still

So much of who I think I am is just what I’ve already done, when I have to try new things I usually can do them.

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Where am I going?

For awhile I thought I couldn’t make friends, but I just wasn’t meeting the right people. It sounds judgmental, but that isn’t how I mean it. Eventually I met a lot of people who were easy to be friends with, it’s not necessary to have the same preferences to be friends, but if you don’t enjoy each other’s company there isn’t much point to wasting free time.

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With Some People I Don’t Have to “Try” and it Works

I’m thinking about what project is next, if I can keep writing for 14 days I hope to switch from free writing to a particular project, but I don’t have any particular project in mind.

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What do I do with a writing habit when I have one?

I kind of gravitate towards children’s books, but I don’t know, I’m not clearly driven one way or another. I like non-fiction, I like science fiction, I like fantasy. There was an author Joy Wilt-Berry who wrote hundreds of informative books, but in a humors, cartoon style, I perhaps would want to do something similar, but I lack a feeling of providence.

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A lot of ideas, but nothing stands out more than the rest…

I’m not sure that I’ll ever feel a strong pull towards any project, so I feel like just starting with something and getting used to it.

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Always loved martial arts, but does the world need another book?

Perhaps I’ll do something describing martial arts, Bruce Lee was working on a guide to mixed martial art’s techniques when he died. I read the publish notes and have a desire to update and simplify what he wrote. Like Stephen Hawkings, Bruce Lee liked to write about specific information in a way that the common person could understand the content. I really like that.

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With the right imagination, books are worlds that stay with you long after you read them.

I’ve always loved books, but so many books that I am having as much trouble picking one type of topic as I imagine I would to be disciplined to finish a project (or more).

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Maybe I Should Just Read Rather Than Write? I love reading.

Some of the books I enjoyed as a child, “Little House on the Prairie” took me inside other people’s lives and families, others were fantasy but they weren’t pure escape, they were moral and ethical thought experiments like “Tuck Everlasting” about a family that lived forever and the complications of the effect it has on the psyche to watch all your friends and contemporaries pass and live on without knowing your burdens will ever end. Some of the books I enjoyed made me more independent as a female, “Island of the Blue Dolphin,” some made me question society the good and bad sides of it “The Giver,” “Hatchet.” I read zoology, physics, quantum mechanics, chemistry, and plenty of non-fiction. But plenty of fiction as well “The Golden Compass,” “Clone,” “Alien,” “The Color Purple,” “The Color of Distance,” “The Forever War,” “The Princess of Mars.” Some people have a low opinion of fiction, but I always find as much education in fiction as in non-fiction, education about words, ideas, free thinking and humanity.

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Real life can be strange and fiction can have subtle truths.

I became interested in habit change a few years ago, and one thing I noticed was that there is a large disconnect from what we do and want to do and what we think we should do. It isn’t ethical or will power, or not completely, it’s sometimes an lack of surety of how to handle the small details.

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My habits rule most my life.

The interesting thing about books isn’t just the words, the stories, but the ability to try on an experience and also the ability to step outside my normal perspective, sometimes reading leaves me a different person from the person who started reading. Sometimes a better person, but often just subtlety different.

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Is it healthy to seek strength in others vs myself? Unsure.

I think I’ve gathered a lot of courage from reading, seeing people make it through worse experiences than I’ve ever had to go through seems to lend me some strength. I wonder if that’s okay, if my inspiration should be grounded in reality, in myself or if it’s fine to take it from anywhere?

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Each morning I’m grateful for another morning, each week seems to be slightly better than the last week, but I still have an unease about not knowing what the next step will be.

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Ready to take the first step, unsure what direction to head.

I’m just allowing that feeling of unease, I know both that life is sweeter with mystery, that I can’t know the future, that I can only live in the moment, but also that I have a tension of not knowing if I am living up to my potential. I find it impossible to know if I’m living up to my potential without knowing what my real responsibilities are.

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I love my kids, but it feels like they shouldn’t be the entirety of my existence.

I assume it’s taking care of my kids, and I do that as well as I personally can, but it also feels like there is something else I’m meant to do and I’m so unclear about what that is. Over the last two years I’ve become more at peace with the unknown, but the curiosity remains in the back of my mind at some level all the time and some jealousy of the people who seem to know is always there as well.

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It’s nice to have the answers, but some come with time.

I know that mentally, but emotionally I don’t want to wait anymore.

I want to know that I am or am not doing enough, yet there isn’t a loading bar I can see or a swirling circle showing I’m going in the right direction.

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Wish I had a loading bar.

I want some certainty in an uncertain world, some control of the uncontrollable, I want what I don’t have and that is only ever frustrating. But perhaps frustration is good, perhaps it’s a sign of being on the right path, or if not a sign of being alive at least.

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I’ve been getting to know myself more, but I wish to know more that I know (even though I realize that is impossible in the present).

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May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind always be at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face, and rains fall soft upon your fields. 🌞

Establishing a Writing Habit (Day 6) ✍️

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The First 28 Years of Life = Mostly Studying

My life keeps feeling like it won’t stop changing at a frantic pace. Childhood was sometimes unpleasant, yet it had a feeling that things would always be the same, there was a sense of permanence, even though my parents got separated when I was 2 and divorced when I was 8, things felt like they would always be the same until they weren’t. There was a very comfortable illusion.

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I Expected Pregnancy to Be Blissful Time for Reading

I got married at 29, four days later I conceived my daughter and because I had hyperemesis gravidarum (significantly extra vomiting with morning sickness) like my mom did my life changed immediately in the very early weeks of pregnancy. Today is the first day my daughter felt comfortable being away from us, she went with her aunt to hand out and then attend a birthday party. She is four years old now. For the past (2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019) five years she has been ruling my life. Not that I don’t have any boundaries at all, just by her existence my existence is forever changed. It’s very hard to describe someone like her to someone who hasn’t met any one like her, it’s like she is a walking party of 50-100 people, so vibrant, but also so demanding.

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But I Love Her

When she is there it can be draining, but when she isn’t there you wondered if you ever really live when she is not around.

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Hard Not to Love an Easy Tempered Baby

She is the sun of our family and my son is our moon. Both beloved, but my daughter attracts everything she wants as if by magic, the world appears to bend to her gravity. My son is lovely and wonderful, but quietly, he is like “wu wei” effortless motion. He smiles at you and you love him, then he goes back to playing and everything is fine between him and you. My daughter turns, spins, jumps, talks, yells, sings, screams, questions, interrogates, and not just because she is older, but she has always been that non-stop train of adventure and misadventure both.

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I Said I Wanted More Breaks…

Tonight is the first night my daughter and son are not with me, I don’t love or hate the way it feels. Alone time has become so foreign a thing. If I knew I would have an hour everyday I think it would feel great, but if I knew I wouldn’t see my kids again it would feel horrible.

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Not So Into Babies

Before I met my husband eight years ago I didn’t want kids, but somehow meeting him, either knowing or deluding myself he was my soul mate right away, I wanted to give him what he wanted most in life, a daughter. Our first born had a DNA test saying boy, two ultrasounds and there was no update, until we delivered a girl, the test that is right 99% of the time was wrong for us. My husband was so overjoyed to have a girl. I also felt relieved to have given him what he wanted most. Last year in March we had a son, the last child for us. We all loved him immediately. Even his sister struggling through jealousy also felt love.

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Yes, Still Can’t Remember… It’s Gone.

Today is the first time I noticed myself forgetting my daughter’s childhood. We were in my son’s Regional Infant Education class, some babies do like getting changed or don’t mind it (my son) and some of the others dislike it, but I can no longer remember what my daughter was like. I know she liked showers and brushing teeth and disliked car rides for a long time, but I can’t remember if she smiled or fussed for changes. Something about that loss makes me value our time together more.

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The Confidence Gap is an Excellent Guide to Values Based Living (The Name is Misleading)

There was a book “The Confidence Gap,” by Russ Harris, that had a lot of good values exercises, so I was prepared to do a more in-depth value exercise today, but usually, while I write my kids are playing (one in the room with me, the other right on the other side of a wall) today I feel the strangeness of their absence palpably and it’s giving me a feeling I can’t name, a feeling I don’t think I’ve ever had before.

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Enjoy working for years with no pay, sick days, vacation, bathroom breaks and limited sleep!

I always hear that I’m supposed to enjoy the kids before they grow up, I’ve only just started being able to do that very recently.

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They Are Growing Up, Someday They Will Probably Be Gone

I think I feel nostalgic for my kids the way they were. My son will be 1 next month, it doesn’t sound old, but it isn’t anything like a newborn. He played peekaboo with me yesterday and today, he started walking last week, he feeds himself his food, he helps put his arms in his clothes, he simply isn’t a baby the same way he was and for us there won’t be more babies. Our babies are grown in a way. My youngest is almost a toddler, my toddler almost a child. Life is about to get easier, perhaps better, but it’s also changing significantly forever.

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I was “that kids” in the front, raising my hand… now I’m older, where did time go?

There is such a sense of time being fleeting in this moment. Adults change, but at such a different pace then children, it feels like a few months ago I was in my 20s and didn’t even think I would have children, then I changed my mind, had them, struggled to figure out how to be a good mother without having ever seen a good mother, now I’m finally feeling confident with babies and the babies have disappeared leaving behind children in their place.

One thing I learned about life from my daughter is that the babies never completely disappear, in the hearts of children, somewhere their baby self is there, when they get sick or sleepy you can almost see your baby come back to visit.

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Sick People are Like Babies in Adult Disguises

There were so many times I wanted a break, now that I have one, I don’t feel bad, but it isn’t the way I imagine feeling at all.

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I Thought I Would Enjoy This More

Much like my wedding, very stressful, not romantic, not enjoyable, not casual, not 1% like a fantasy of what it would be like at all.

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My Wedding and Wedding Planning

So tonight I started the values worksheets and looking at my life I know I don’t yet take the breaks I think would be good for me to take, I also feel like the time is coming so soon that I won’t have trouble taking them.

2020
Yay, new decade, new me!
throwing out 2019
Did I forget to throw away the broken dreams of the past?

When 2020 started it felt like the birth of a new era for me, but tonight I feel in a way the death of an era passed. Not in a painful way, but in a grave way, not in a hopeless way, but still in a slightly stark way. I told myself many times I wanted to move forward in life, growth, time, but I didn’t prepare myself for the truth that I can never go back. What I did have was special and I won’t be able to remember it all, day by day some of it was lost. At this point, I wish I would have written a little bit more to myself about what life was like when my kids were young.

But it would have been hard, I took my daughter to work after two weeks off and worked full time with her for years, until I was about to have my son. It would have been very hard to juggle my daughter, my work as a caretaker and writing about life. I did write a little, but I didn’t keep the writing, I didn’t see it as valuable. I assumed at the time every mom went through pretty much the same life, every child was pretty much the same, now I miss knowing what my daughter in particular was like.

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I can always get my husband chocolate, he has loved it all his life! (Until now!)

For years my husband loved chocolate, I made him chocolate birthday cake, I got him chocolate for our anniversary and every event. This year all the chocolate is pilled up in his drawer uneaten.

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“Thanks, but no thanks,” – My Husband

It seems like everyone in my family is changing faster than I can keep up with getting to know, that’s an uncomfortable feeling.

At one point I could spin with my daughter and she loved it, more than anything, now she wants to be put down.

At one point my son would laugh every time I clicked at him, now he is into peek-a-boo.

At one point my husband loved chocolate, now he won’t eat it at all.

At one point my father worried if my friends smoked pot, now he smokes it (legally).

At one point my mother-in-law wondered when we were going to put our kids through the Catholic hoops, now she is Christian and wonders when we are going to put our kids through those hoops.

I feel like a relic of the past, like I don’t change, but I must be changing too. I just can’t see it from my reference point.

The more I step outside of my life mentally, then return to it, the more joy, gratitude, respect, flexibility and happiness I have. It sounds weird to step outside and look inward, but remembering childhood there are many moments that allow you to take a measure of your growth that adulthood (for me) seems to lack.

As a child, each summer you are taller, you are better educated, perhaps more attractive, perhaps with new skills, as an adult you are the same height (or shorter), your education has become mildly staggeringly outdated, you are slightly to staggeringly less attractive, your skills are getting rusty though some may increase… but one thing that seems to grow is kindness, another is perspective.

It’s interesting to me that I never felt this way when my daughter grew to walk, to talk, to turn 1, 2, 3 and 4, but knowing my son is my last baby, seeing him walk, seeing him go out with his dad without me, seeing him graduate from his baby socialization class, it gives me a book of my life closing feeling. I thought that the feeling would be either more difficult or more welcome, but it isn’t either.

I keep wanting a break from change, but life keeps giving me change, I sometimes wonder if the rest of my life will be nothing but constant change? Or perhaps when the children are not children anymore I will feel the sweet illusion of stability again? I know someday we all die, but watching the little children presses that truth to my face a bit more closely than I would prefer.

My older child is four, but including the pregnancy, it’s been the last five years. I spend 27/29 years of my life planning to become a doctor, then the last five years learning how to become a mother (and deciding to forgo becoming a doctor to keep my family together since my husband wasn’t willing to relocate where I was able to attend medical school), now I am finally understanding how to be a mother to babies, my babies are not babies anymore. Deep in my heart, I’m very undecided over fate and God vs a random universe, but it seems like the force of the world or whatever is greater than me, (outside circumstance), definitely will bring me an unexpected life.

I am hoping to find a way to love myself, my life and my family members backwards through time, as if I no longer had them, but in a way that isn’t “crazy” or morbid or too existential… I hope that this feeling of emptiness of a chapter of life closed, perhaps wasted a bit by being too busy to stop and enjoy much, I hope I will save this moment in my heart and be able to come back to this day and calm myself down when I get too angry over small mistakes.

I know where I felt this feeling before now this was quoted in “How to Make Friends and Influence People” Dale Carnegie:

FATHER FORGETS
Listen Son, I am saying this as you lie asleep, one little hand crumpled under your cheek and blonde curls sticky over your wet forehead. I have broken into your room alone. Just a few minutes ago, as I sat reading my paper in the library, a stifling wave of remorse swept over me.
Guilty, I came to your bedside. There are things which I am thinking, son; I had been cross to you. I scolded you as you were dressing for school because you gave your face a mere dab with the towel. I took you to task for not cleaning your shoes. I called out angrily when you threw some of your things on the floor. At breakfast, I found fault, too. You spilled things. You gulped down your food. You put your elbows on the table. You spread butter too thick on your bread. As you started off to play and I made for my train, you turned and waved a hand and called, “Goodbye, Daddy!” I frowned, and said in reply, “Hold your shoulders back!”.
Then it began all over again late this afternoon. As I came up the road I spied you, down on your knees, playing marbles. There were holes in your socks. I humiliated you before your friends by marching you ahead of me to the house. Socks were expensive, and if you had to buy
them you would be more careful! Imagine that son, from a father.
Do you remember later, when I was reading in the library, how you came timidly, with sort of a hurt look in your eyes? I glanced up over my paper, impatient at the interruption; you hesitated at the door. “What is it that you want?” I snapped. You said nothing but ran across in one tempestuous plunge, threw your arms around my neck and kissed me, your small arms tightened with affection that God had set blooming in your heart, which even neglect could not wither. Then you were gone, pattering up the stairs. Well, Son, it was shortly afterwards that my paper slipped from my hands and a terrible sickening fear came over me. What has habit been doing to me? The habit of finding fault, or reprimanding; this was my reward to you for being a boy. It was not that I did not love you: it was that I expected too much of you. I was measuring you by the yardstick of my own years. There is so much that was good, fine and true in your character. The little heart of yours was as big as the dawn itself over the hills. This was shown by your spontaneous impulse to rush
in and kiss me good night. Nothing else mattered tonight. Son, I have come to your bedside in the darkness, I have knelt there, ashamed!
It is a feeble atonement; I know that you would not understand these things which I have told you in the waking hours. Tomorrow I will be a real daddy! I will chum with you, suffer when you suffer and laugh when you laugh. I will bite my tongue when impatient words come. I
will keep saying as if it were a ritual: “He is nothing but a boy–a little boy.” I am afraid I have visualized you as a man. Yet as I see you now, Son, crumpled and weary in your bed. I see that you are still a baby. Yesterday you were in your mother’s arms, your head on her shoulder. I have asked too much, too much!

Instead of condemning and criticizing others, perhaps it would be better to try to understand them, to try to figure out why they do what they do. That’s a lot more profitable and intriguing than criticism; and it
breeds sympathy, tolerance and kindness, rather than contempt…!!!

– W. Livingston Larned

I still don’t know what to call the feeling, they said regret, I don’t know. I actually did the very best I could have with my daughter, many mistakes were made, but one thing I know is that all the effort I had in every part of my soul was given to the task, yet it was done so poorly at times. My daughter has brown, hair, but emotionally is so forgiving just like the boy in the story, that story is from almost a hundred years old, but I found myself going through that same cycle over and over. Forgetting my temper, apologizing, repeat, and actually, I always got better, but 1% at a time, so that when my second was born he knew almost a different person in terms of losing my patience. I thought because I was 30 when my daughter was born I wouldn’t be impatient, I was so wrong. I refuse to hate myself for being human, when I would want to, I can’t because I know I did my best every day and it was an imperfect situation that I dealt with the best I could.

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I Approve of Myself Despite my Mistakes

One of the best things to come out of that failure is a forgiveness for my own parents, especially my own mother. My mother who never loved me, she was only 18 when she was pregnant, how little I knew at 30, how much less she knew. Her mom died of brain cancer when I was only 2, how little help she had during those years. She was too depressed to hold me. How difficult it was for me to hold my own baby, but at every turn where my life was outside of what society valued for a baby I tried to use that as a gauge for what I should do, I held my baby with no urge to do so, kissed her a million times hoping she would know the feeling of love I didn’t know until I met my husband at 26. And she did, and we survived, and though it was far from perfect it was so much better than the bar I was raised under.

It was strange to focus most of my life on things largely removed from people skills, then five years ago be trust into an arena where only people skills matter. I gained so much strength during these past five years, I became immune to suffering.

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“Hey my legs are getting pretty toned!”

“Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional” was my mantra when I delivered my daughter without drugs, but it became my daily life over the next five years, “I am loved” was my mantra when I delivered my son also at home, and it too has taken years to become fully true.

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I want to be perfect for you (but perfection is impossible!).

Looking back at life it is so strange and magical it gives me hope for things to come, they will most likely be far beyond my imagination.

I Will Always Love my Babies
But I’m Ready to Update Myself to the Children They are Today

I didn’t expect to write the closest thing to a cohesive narrative of my life as I have today, but I’m glad that I did, because it’s been said that you have to own your own story to be your own person (in the book “T for Transformation” by Shaun Blocker) and after hearing that challenge it felt impossible in that moment that I would be able to sort out what had been important vs all the tiny details of my life time to get a sense of the story of my life thus far. 🕊️

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Thank you for sharing my story tonight! It’s a strange honor for my heart to meet your mind in these words across oceans of space or sands of time. 💞

Establishing a Writing Habit (Day 5) ✍️

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Not Procrastinating Today, Just Started an Hour Later

Today I watched my son play at 5 PM while my daughter watched math videos on her computer while she ate dinner. We have pizza once a week Friday, so it takes much longer to cook than most meals I serve. I cut fresh tomatoes for myself, I like the tomato even though there is already cooked tomato, my daughter does too. We walked 4.6 miles round trip, from 11 AM to 3:30 through the neighborhood stopping to pick up a picnic lunch, browse at dollar tree and play at the park.

I drew out the day into 24 square blocks earlier and colored them in to try to explain that I asked my daughter to focus only for two hours and I gave her five hours everyday to play.

Somehow the square blocks seem to put life in a certain perspective that I’ve never noticed before.

I use Sketchpad.io a free online drawing app to work out basic models and rough sketches digitally, it’s very user friendly for someone who has never used online drawing programs.

Our Typical Week Day

This is my/my kids life right now, the blue is sleep, a lot (but interrupted so…), the red is eating (between cooking – serving – feeding baby – cleaning each meal takes about an hour) and exercise, and bathing – teeth brushing ext. It takes us 15 of our 24 blocks just to serve our body. They yellow is playtime, special play time at 12 (where I do what my daughter wants – kind of bonding) outdoor play time at 2 (supposed to be the very best thing for kid’s brains), crafting play time at 3 (painting or art always seemed to help my daughter with her emotional issues, kind of art therapy more than a class), 5 is bonding time with my son and independent hands free time for my daughter (like Legos in her room, or beads), 6 is electronic play time for my daughter and my son plays independently (in the room with me, but he is happy to play by himself). Green is where I teach school to both kids, but letting my younger son wander to blocks or join us if he wants, pink is the only time my husband joins us on an average work day, it’s really half an hour at 7PM, then he eats, then half an hour at 8PM, then he showers, but it’s pretty much an hour a day that he spends time with us, enjoying the kids, but not actually helping with teeth brushing or anything draining. 8PM we are transitioning to sleep, I do a lot of reading to the kids, teeth brushing ext. What was crazy to me is that I never realized how much time is dedicated to just surviving and staying healthy. 63% for us, I have no real idea how much it is for other people, but that’s what it is for us and it’s actually worse for my husband, since his works feeds us and commute is needed to work his time is spend 92% surviving, 8% free-time.

This is time divided by when I’m serving my body (blue, via sleep, eating, exercise, hygiene) when I feel like I am working (red) and the hours of my life I feel I enjoy. 63% feeding the body – 25% “working” – 12% enjoying life.

In response to reading a comment that life feels meaningless often, no matter my optimism I can’t but completely agree, the green square is the time in my life I “feel” a sense of meaning. 4% of my normal day feels significant to me. It would be so easy to let that time slip away.

This is the same time arranged as a pyramid. Looking at survival, we do what we must: sleep, bathe, eat, exercise and a deep tension exists between work vs enjoyment vs meaning. None of those things are “wrong,” but if you work 8 hours instead of my 6, it’s so possible to imagine enjoyment or meaning being swallowed up, if you commute a long commute… it’s as if your week days are just for survival then.

I know there are the weekends, but I don’t think life is meant to be lived in such a way that the average day of your life isn’t enjoyable or meaningful.

Doing this exercise today was quite mundane, but somehow the visuals, as plain as they are tell me at a really deep level how important this one hour is to me. This is the only time I feel like I make a difference. People would say, and it’s probably true, that I make a difference as a mother in 96% of the day, but the only time I feel a sense of flow, impact, meaning, significance is the 4% that most of my family sees as a waste of time.

It was definitely worth doing this today as a dialogue between myself and myself. Now I can understand both why my husband is so tired on average and also why I need to preserve this time that makes me feel like a human being vs a noble child care robot.

The first thing I thought of is that 4% isn’t enough time, but then I thought, at least I have that 4%. I didn’t always and not everyone does. It was hard won, mostly through better and better time management, which requires better and better boundaries, which is motivated by better and better sense of self, which happened from painful increasing mindfulness and self awareness. I spend a lot of time taking care of my kids, but the ironic thing is that, when I didn’t have them I wasted my time trying to please everyone in my life rather than do what mattered to myself. The kids made me too tired to continue running away from letting others down, then I was broken of the habit, I decided to stop letting myself down and let people find their own way (or not). It sounds cruel, but for an adult it is actually true respect to be given the space to learn to care for yourself. Obviously there is room for teamwork and paying help forward and human kindness, but there should be some limit (a different limit for every relationship, yet always a limit somewhere).

I really enjoyed writing tonight, I think I’ve been afraid my whole life to know who I am, but the more I find myself (nerdy, thoughtful, sensitive) I really don’t hate myself. They call the unknown side the dark side, but for me it’s more like the light side, it’s as if I lost the good of myself, rather than the bad? Hmm.

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A wonderful night or day to you my friends! Or horrible! Life at it’s worst always has a certain value, like coffee, a good coffee is better, but a bad coffee first thing in the morning is still a welcome friend.

Poem for the Road

(It wasn’t rainy here, just have this on my mind tonight, for some reason it always struck me as beautiful. Completely reminds me of Thomas’ wonderful post from last autumn.)

The Rainy Day:

The day is cold, and dark, and dreary;
It rains, and the wind is never weary;
The vine still clings to the mouldering wall,
But at every gust the dead leaves fall,
And the day is dark and dreary.

My life is cold, and dark, and dreary;
It rains, and the wind is never weary;
My thoughts still cling to the mouldering Past,
But the hopes of youth fall thick in the blast,
And the days are dark and dreary.

Be still, sad heart! and cease repining;
Behind the clouds is the sun still shining;
Thy fate is the common fate of all,
Into each life some rain must fall,
Some days must be dark and dreary.

– HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW