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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Simplicity

The latestAmazon package came in the mail. A lamp. In a giant box with lots of air bubbly wasteful packaging material. While dh excitedly sliced into the box to put together said lighting fixture, kitty could not wait to jump onto the empty box and thrash through the packaging waste. Blissfully ignoring any of the fancy cat toys we purchased over the past year

Likewise as I am  On the floor with my son, surrounded by his choice of toys with blinking lights, music, colors and textures, he shows mild interst in any of them until I break out 2 basic kitchen utensils of black measuring spoons and a whisk. Now he is happy and laughing uncontrollably

And while there are tons of movies, tv shows, amusement parks, concerts, hip clubs and other fun and enticing opportunities to do, I find myself happiest watching my kitty jump in and out of a box, watching my son shake a whisk and my hubby putting a lamp together

I must slow down and remind myself of the pure joy in the simplicity of everyday life

Thursday, September 20, 2012

music and fear

In another life, I would have been a musician. if I were more secure, more confidant, more willing to take big risks and chances.

Alas I am not.

I do play music. I play guitar. Sing. "songwrite" Once upon a time I played clarinet. I Make a valiant effort to sort of play piano enough to trick the untrained ear. I am the kind of "musician" who drives real muscians crazy. I don't practice much. I don't read music well. I play in chords.  But its enough to get by. And enough to teach beginners.

But I do love music so much.

Every so often I get asked to share my music at various events. My favorites are at fundraisers and public awareness events.

I have the opportunity to play at 2 events in the next few months. The first is in a few weeks. I work for "A Safe Place". a domestic violence organization. THey are having their yearly public awareness event and I have been asked again to provide some music. Its usually a very casual affair and its with people I know and generally like. And it means something. Its not just to show off, but to connect to a message. to inspire hope and courage. SOmething I wish I had more of myself.

Maybe I do these events 50% for myself. I need the positive direction, reminder and message myself.

THe second is for the Illinois COunseling Association yearly conference. One of my former professors I still keep in touch with loves my music for some reason. We worked together on creating music and a creative atmosphere for the National Career Development Associations National convention in 2005; and it was fun. And encouraging. And inspiring. it was an honor to be a part of. As the upcoming conference will be as well.

I used to lead worship at my old church. Man, I loved that. But it was something I was asked and invited to be a part of. But I can't seem to get my current youth group to do it. I jsut haven't even tired really. I'm kind of scared actually to make it a part of the group.

I think I just got it.

Man, I hate imposing myself on people. And music is such a part of self. If someone asks me, invites me. Awesome. I'm all in.

When it comes to initiative. I have zero buy in to myself.  ok, maybe not zero, but its low. If I have to ask/invite/impose my music or services on you, its almost apologetic. and I make sure to give you an out so you don't feel bad saying "no"

I know I do this with relationships too. *sigh* I wish you knew how much it takes for me to invite anyone to do ANYTHING. I never want to force someone to be with me. So i rarely ask. If you invite me, I'm all in. I will try most anything to make it work. its kind of sad. Its part of this social awkwardness. And yet I think I am fun and interesting and have a lot to offer frienships/relationships.

And here it comes out in music. Something that I think I am actually pretty good at. A gift I have been given. But I won't put it out there on my own accord. I squander it. I'm too afraid.

How many of us have this fear that keeps us from being real. From enjoyment. Being proud of ourselves. From laughter and care and wonder and empowerment and being challenged.

Fear is such bondage.


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

my 9/11

I remember my mom telling many stories about social experiences growing up that were particular to her era. One was where she was and what she was doing when Kennedy was assassinated. She was at school and described how they were told and how devastated everyone felt. How people who weren't even friends cried together. It seems everyone from her generation has a story about whet they were doing/where they were when they got the news.

Fast forward to today. It seems that 9/11 is that story of this generation. The tragedy that happened where everyone knows and has a story about what they were doing/where they were when 911 happened. How surreal and unbelievable it was that not only did it happen, but parts of it right in front of our eyes, and the sheer volume of human human lives that were taken and affected was insurmountable.

Its hard to believe that was 11 years ago. 11 years. And yet we can recall those feelings like it was yesterday.

I can't decide if this is a post about where 11 years went or what 9/11 means now. Perhaps a bit of both as it was such a marker in human and personal history.

I know where I was. I was working as a secretary  of development at Wheaton College. Tuesday morning meeting and devotional was interrupted by someone running into the meeting room, which was where the only tv was, and turning it on and demanding that everyone watch what was happening. I remember not believing my own eyes. Not only in processing that there were people in a building that a plane crashed into, but watching the second one go in. ANd trying to figure out in my brain what they heck was happening and why.

The entire workday was spend staring at the computer, looking for any updates on the story. Fielding phone calls from donors and alumni and people associated with the college. Todd Beemer was an alumni and I fielded that call.

Going "home" and processing it alone was not on my priority list, luckily I had planned to go to a volleyball game with Ang R. , but that game was cancelled so I just hung out at her home for hours glued to the news.

I look back and think about what a fragile time it was for me personally. At such a crossroad. I was at a job I hated and was not good at. (I was a secretary; anyone who knows me knows I have the administrative and organizational skills of a monkey). For a school with a lot of money when I could not afford to finish my own education. I had such a fragile ego, faith, sense of worth, purpose, etc. Yet I knew that there was more and I knew hard work and I loved God.  And that was enough for then. Because it carried me to the next steps.

At that time I never would have guessed I would be where I am at right now. In so many ways.  THe way I see the world has changed (I think 9/11 did that to everyone), my place in life has far exceeded my expectations (God has a way of doing that), I have a sense of personal peace,  a beautiful family, an education I fought for (BA and MA), a job I love, a sense of hope and purpose, a healthy skeptecism, a knowing of who I am and where I came from, my politics have changed, and so much more.

My faith in humanity. While one cannot help but wonder what drives people to such horrible acts, I have a basic belief in people. Whereas I did not used to have that. After such a horrible incident, people came together. All of the sudden America was United. No left or right. rich or poor. black or white. Just hurting people who were trying to make sense of a horrible incident. (unfortunately our Muslim brothers and sisters became targets of our anger).

I have a need to believe in hope amidst tragedy. Light in the darkest hour. I have always had a peculiar fascination with tragedies such as the Holocaust. Not so much that it happened, because unfortunately tragedies happen, but the stories of hope and triumph that came out of such a dark place. A flower amongst the ashes. I have to believe that that exists. (please...you don't want my discourse as to where that need comes from)

I suppose my hope, is that in remembering 9/11, that for at least myself, that I remember that hope. That even though a nightmarish incident happened, that we can survive. That while we grieve, and have scars, that we can be ok. That life can be good. That people can come together and support and love and make something good out of something bad. Triumph over the darkness. Even if its painful. And horrific. No matter what that dark is. Personal loss. A recession.  A hurt. A violation.

The terrorists hurt and terribly violated the nation, individuals, families, our sense of security.  But we still live. We still love. We still succeed. We still triumph. That is my inspiration. And that is the victory.

favorite blogs

I only recently started reading other peoples blogs. But I have to say that there are a few that I enjoy immensely. So I would like to share some of my favorites for your enjoyment:

http://www.thisbeautifulstruggle.com/  I went to Tentmaker youth ministry training with her 9+ years ago.

http://cheandfidel.blogspot.com/  very whimsical

http://tomakeanest.blogspot.com/  I personally blame her for getting me into cloth diapering. our little ones are 2 days apart. She was in the youth group I volunteered with 10+ years ago

http://www.jenhatmaker.com/blog.htm  Jen Hatmaker. I've never met her but desperately want to be her best friend

http://kateandre.com/blog/  Kate McDonald

what are yours?

Saturday, September 8, 2012

baby weight

I received a text today from someone I haven't spoken to in close to 2 years. I explained that I "just had a baby"...and they were truly excited for me, and then asked when...I said 6 months ago. Then I thought...wait, when is the line drawn to saying I "just had a baby"

I have been using this line in my head for many things. Excuses. Rationales. whatever. Its true, having a baby makes many things that you used to do and still kind of want to pretty challenging. Such as what this person called me for...can I exercise her horses. My first impulse is "yes!"...then the logistics set in. How? When? Do I need a babysitter? will it need to be an evening or weekends? When does it become ok to take a child to a barn? bah! I don't know the answers to thus yet.

The main "I just had a baby" excuse has been in the time honored mothering tradition of losing g the baby weight.

Its the very thing that scared me the most of motherhood before I ever git pregnant. And here I am, 6 months post-partum, still nursing, still out of my happy weight range. Not terribly far away. But there is no obsession, which may seem like nothing to you, it is to me. I just want to be my happiest and healthiest me.

Time has changed my mindset and so has my son. Now that I am feeding him solids a bit, my choices for him come from what is "most nutritious". And when I am focusing on that for him, its easier to focus on that for me as well. For example, I made several sweet potatoes last night, 2 were for his food supply, another was for our dinner. Nothing added. Just nutritious.

Because I am also still nursing, I can't go crazy. I need to maintain a healthy supply for my son. So its got to be little by little. Eat well. Exercise. Calories in/calories out. Slow and steady wins the race. Although seeing progress is pretty motivating.

So no more excuses. I am back on a plan. The same plan that had me at one of my healthiest places right before I got pregnant, (which is probably what helped me get pregnant). I use a site called "my fitness pal"

www.myfitnesspal.com Its a lot like weight watchers (which I have tried) but completely free and completely customizable. I can eat whatever i want. Just need to track it and not go nuts. Tracking is key. it has quite an extensive food and excercise database to pull from. You want to lose a half a pound a week? 2 pounds a week? you just put in what kind of progress you want to make. You want to track fiber? ok...well then just say so! How active are you during the day? And exercise is a bonus. If I work out, then I just get to eat more to make up the calories. And really, that has been one of my biggest motivating factors to working out (not my only), is so I can eat more.

 Yes, yes, it also feels good to work out.

So I am on track to lose 1/2 a pound per week. So far so good. I am down 3 pounds. And feel great.

Perhaps I'll be back just in time to conceive baby #2.

Friday, September 7, 2012

cat lady


I never intended to be one of those crazy cat people.

I mean, I kind of used to be, over 10 years ago my last cat died. crazy story, maybe one day I'll tell you about it. But she was "Satan" to everyone else, "Patches" to us. I loved her.

Its literally been over 10 years since I've had a pet of any kind. Me, who grew up with almost any kind of pet or animal you can imagine. Minus a cow or iguana. Or did we have a lizard of somesort at one time? Sisters-imput?

So here I am. With a cat. And I am kind of excited to call this her birthday weekend. Does that make me a little crazy cat-lady-ish? maybe.

We never intended to keep her. We found her last year on labor weekend. Recovering from the madness of Maxwell Street Days ( flea market we do a booth at once a year as an entire family to sell our crap).At the in-laws. A lone tiny kitten who had been abandoned in the barn. No other kitties around. Not too far away was a mess of dead kittens. Could have been her litter; she could have been from a different litter. Maybe 2 weeks old. Maybe. We couldn't just leave her there. We even went through a whole ordeal to try to reunite her with her momma kitty, whoever she be.

But she remained unclaimed. So Bill and I took her home to give her a fighting chance. We got her a box, kitten milk, blankets, towels to wrap up in. We fed her from an eye-dropper, we litter trained her, etc. He always intended to take her back to the farm.

Then winter came and she was still so little. We'd keep her till the spring. So she could survive the winter.

Spring came. And it was over. We fell head over heels. Annie- who we now call "kitty"- is our kitty.

I worry about leaving her overnight with no one to play with her. I am ok with her sleeping at the foot of our bed. I love to cuddle her and chase her. Bill, too, even. I felt guilty getting her spayed.

She gave me a little bit of practice in caring for a helpless baby and a little bit of confidance in the human baby that was to come. She waits at the door for us when we come home. She gives us unconditional love. She brings life to the house. SHe is entertainment for the baby to watch.

She is part of the family.

Please dont' judge if she is in our Christmas photo.