Friday, May 9, 2014

"Just because you're struggling, doesn't mean you're failing."

I have been feeling a little regretful lately, which is an emotion I don't often feel.  I began a new job a few months ago, which while I love, is not free from it's challenges.

I expected to be challenged, that is one reason I decided to leave the job I had for nearly 8 years, was to break out of the norm and try something new.  I haven't felt very successful since I left, which ironically is one reason I left my previous job.  I was incredibly overwhelmed, and wanted desperately to do a good job, but each day I went home feeling like I just couldn't do the things I wanted to do, thus feeling unsuccessful and exhausted.

I craved the feeling of doing something really, really well.  Or at least feeling like I was.

So as one might expect, it takes time to learn a new job.  It's been about 3.5 months, and I understand it can take up to a year to really become acclimated.  I need to be patient with myself.

I noticed myself displaying familiar behaviors recently.  Feeling overwhelmed.  Procrastinating because I didn't know where to start.  I began to wonder not only if I never should have left, but if I would ever really find what I want to do with my life.  It's felt a bit like what a mid-life crisis might feel like.

So earlier this week, I picked up a book that I started to read months ago and put down (a notorious thing that I do when it comes to books) and as I sat at my kitchen table ready to read the rest of this book.  At the same time I peered over the pages and watched my little LBZ play in the great room.  I read words I needed to hear, and watched as this little boy simply played.  He had no direction.  No one to tell him how to do it.  Yet he created what he wanted, and enjoyed it.  Then, I read this:

"We may wish that we were three inches taller, or had an extra $4500 in our pocket.  Or maybe we would have preferred that our sister didn't die of cancer, or that our marriage could have worked out.  But in the end, when we are willing to be alone, we have to admit that
"This is it...the waiting is over."
When we have the courage to acknowledge and embrace the simple fact that there is nowhere else to go and no one else to become, we discover how to be friendly toward ourselves and toward the present moment.  Traditionally, such an attitude is called Paklang- which in Tibetan means "childlike carefreeness"- utterly loose and liberated.
~Michael Carroll, from his book Fearless at Work (pages 163-164)

I read this and watched and admired my sweet 2.5 year old playing with such a gentle and natural approach.  A carefree demeanor that I longed for...and then I got it.  It clicked with me.  So that is how I am choosing to feel, and it is, in fact, quite liberating.  I have a new sense of peace with where I am.  I am reminded that I followed this path because I was curious where it might lead.  I was reminded that I can choose to be happy in my present situation.  I will continue to have struggles, but that is to be expected. 

Then I was pointed toward yet another thing I needed to hear. "Just because you're struggling, doesn't mean you're failing." Read the whole thing here. That about sums it up. I felt like I was failing at this job. I was, and continue to, struggle to learn all of the pieces of the puzzle, but I am not failing. I have a lot more to learn.  What my manager wants.  How to work with my team.  How I want to run my department.  But struggling to do these things? That is not failure. It is part of the path. I get it now.

Peace in the present moment, my friends.  It's the only one we can be sure we have :)

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

"When we are not trying to capture anything we become like a child of illusion." ~Pema Chodron


I've been doing a lot of reading lately. Anyone who knows me knows that I'm not a reader, but I have been drawn to writings of mindfulness lately, especially as it relates to work, and the below excerpt seems to capture why I haven't blogged in a long while.
"Take the whole teatime just to drink your tea. I started doing this in airports. Instead of reading, I sit there and look at everything, and appreciate it. Even if you don’t feel appreciation, just look. Feel what you feel; take an interest and be curious. Write less; don’t try to capture it all on paper. Sometimes writing, instead of being a fresh take, is like trying to catch something and nail it down. This capturing blinds us, and there’s no fresh outlook, no wide-open eyes, no curiosity. When we are not trying to capture anything we become like a child of illusion."
 ~ Pema Chodron
I do have so much to write, but I began to feel like I was taking away from simply living by trying to capture it. I suppose even Pema found time, and importance, in writing some of the time. So perhaps there is a balance.
So much had happened. I've changed jobs. BBZ is registered for kindergarten. I've fallen in love with running. LBZ is growing so fast. Nate and I are simply loving each other and trying to raise our boys well.
I think I'll be back again soon. I really did miss this little blogging place of mine.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

She let Go.





She Let Go
Without a thought or a word, she let go.
She let go of fear.
She let go of judgments.
She let go of the confluence of opinions swarming around her head.
She let go of the committee of indecision within her.
She let go of all the ‘right’ reasons.
Wholly and completely, without hesitation or worry, she just let go.
She didn’t ask anyone for advice.
She didn’t read a book on how to let go.
She just let go.
She let go of all the memories that held her back.
She let go of all of the anxiety that kept her from moving forward.
She let go of the planning and all of the calculations about how to do it just right.
She didn’t promise to let go.
She didn’t journal about it.
She didn’t write the projected date in her Day-Timer.
She made no public announcement.
She didn’t check the weather report or read her daily horoscope.
She just let go.
She didn’t analyze whether she should let go.
She didn’t call her friends to discuss the matter.
She didn’t utter one word.
She just let go.
No one was around when it happened.
There was no applause or congratulations.
No one thanked her or praised her.
No one noticed a thing.
Like a leaf falling from a tree, she just let go.
There was no effort. There was no struggle.
It wasn’t good. It wasn’t bad. It was what it was, and it is just that.
In the space of letting go, she let it all be.
A small smile came over her face.
A light breeze blew through her.
And the sun and the moon shone forevermore.
Here’s to giving ourselves the gift of letting go…There’s only one of you.
~Rev Safie Rose

Like a breath of fresh air on a cool fall day.
Peace, friends.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Five.

Today, my sweet BBZ, you are five.

Five.

I don't think I could even imagine you as a five-year-old when you were born, and here you are.  Five.

While I sometimes miss when you were little, it isn't anywhere close to how much I enjoy watching the new things you learn to do.  You are growing into such a wonderful young man.  Look at all the letters you can write!  I'm such a proud mama.


You watch our for your brother, and have moved into your role as big brother very well..  You stand up for him, and make sure he is taken care of.  It's so fun watching you guys play and interact together.  I sure hope you will always be friends.  Or at least friendly to each other :)

 
You still love everything Lego.  You eat a variety of foods, you love fruit and cold veggies with dip.  You speak your mind and stand up for yourself.  You love superheroes and like to play Legos downstairs.  You like bath time because you can wear your goggles and pretend to swim.  You like Tae Kwon Do ok, but would prefer to play without anyone telling you what to do.  You are your own person, that's for sure.
 
You love your computer class and tell us you don't want to go to college.  We ask what you do plan to do, and you're not sure.  You don't miss a thing and ask 100s of questions.  I like it.  It's like a peek into your curious little mind.
 
I think we might be past the worst of your toddler behavior {knock on wood}.  You still get angry at times, but you are becoming much more skilled at managing your own emotions.  Listening to directions from us is a struggle, but we are working on it.
 
You now keep your bed dry almost every single night.  We have to go in and get you up after you've been in bed for an hour, but it works.  It's funny because you are often so out of it that you don't remember us getting you up!
 
 
 
You bring so much joy to our lives, sweet BBZ.  You made me a mommy five years ago, and we've been in this together ever since.  We challenge each other and help each other grow.  I know I am learning so much about the person I want to be from you, I can only hope that I am doing the same for you.
 
I love you, BBZ.
 
Love,
Mommy

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Two.

Today, my sweet littlest boy, you are two.


I'm not sure where these two years went, but I do know that I have loved (almost) every minute of it!

When I talk about you, I describe you as a little bundle of blonde sunshine that walks around and lights up every thing around you.  It is truly wonderful to be your mommy.  I cannot believe I get to have that job.

You are so sweet and sensitive.  Your feelings get hurt so easily.  I struggle with finding the balance between helping you learn that the world isn't really the happiest place you believe it is, and wanting to help you hold on to that reality for as long as you possibly can.

One of your teachers called you inspiring.  She said that she isn't sure if she wants children, but being around you makes her want to.  It was such a meaningful compliment she gave you.  You are kind and generous to other kids, and adults.  When you hear someone cry you talk about then feeling sad and ask if they want a hug.  You have such a sweet nature.

One thing that surprised me so much about you is how independent you are when going to bed.  You occasionally let me rock you still, but when you are ready for bed you just wave and say "bye-bye mommy".  That is not what I am used to!  You recently moved into a big boy bed, and it is going so well.  You usually stay in your bed until someone comes in, in the morning.  You'll wake up and lay in your bed and just sing and sing...it is such a lovely sound to wake up to.

You do have your moments of unhappiness, but they are very, very rare.  It almost always happens at night. You cry at night sometimes and we just bring you to bed with us.  You tend to sleep horizontally across the top of the bed though, which makes it hard to share our bed with you.  We make it work when we need to though.


Some other things about you:
You love trains.
You love to sing the ABCs.
Your favorite letter is W.
You can count to eleven. 
You repeat absolutely everything. 
You say, "come on, guys!" A lot. And can do "fums up, guys!" while holding two thumbs up.
You have a huge sweet tooth and love "fweezer pops".
You love to talk about papa and meme, as well as gramma di-di and papa z
You say "thank you mommy you're welcome"
On the way home from school today you said "look mommy, I see moon outside my window."
You often say "hmm, lets see" with your hand holding your chin as you make a decision.
You sing in your bed for up to 45 minutes before falling asleep and in the morning when you wake up.  You are so content to just entertain yourself, especially in bed.
You call your brother "I-Zat" and you sure do love him a whole lot.
You love to cause trouble at the dinner table.  Especially since refusing to sit in a high chair.


You have a big heart, my sweet Lu-Lu.  Watching you and your brother grow brings your daddy and me such joy.  We just smile along with you and are trying hard to raise you well.  I worry about you and your kind heart, but I know that the world needs more people like you and your brother.  I'm watching the baby years melt off of you as you become more and more the little boy you are destined to become.

My heart is happy, sweet LBZ.  I love you so much.

Love,
Mommy

Monday, August 12, 2013

More than just a weekend away.

It was more like a cleansing for my soul.
 
A few months ago, my sister invited me to join her on a trip to Chicago.  She wrote a play a few years ago for one of her college classes.  She submitted the script to a theater festival and it was picked up by the theater and was to be showcased in Chicago!  She was so excited.  She lives in the far north and I’m about 5 hours away from Chicago, so we planned to just meet there and make a girl’s weekend out of it.

I’m not going to lie, I had a lot of anxiety about the trip.  Do I drive? Then I have to park and find my way around the city.  Do I fly?  Then I have to ride public transportation.  Like, a real subway.  That’s kind of scary, too.  My fear of this unknown trip almost caused me to not go.  I wanted to see my sister’s play, and I didn’t want her to have to go alone, so I booked the flight and set up things to find my own way around Chi-town.  All alone.

Now I'm no stranger to an unfamiliar city.  N and I have traveled all over the place for concerts and shows, etc.  But, he is the navigator.  He books the room and sets up the trip.  He figures out how we will get there, the safe place to stay, whether we'll have to walk or drive, etc.  He does it all.  I would be all on my own for this one.

We looked around at hotels and they price range was all over the place.  Some of the cheaper places seemed scary, because why were they so cheap?  The expensive places would have blown our whole budget out the window.  We were struggling to find an in-between.

Finally, we came across a hostel.  It was a really fun idea, had great reviews, and was much more affordable than the other places we found.  My sis booked it and we were set!

On Thursday before we left, I finally sat down and started seeing how the heck I was going to get from the airport to the hostel.  The hostel website made it sound incredibly easy.  Follow the signs in the airport to “Chicago Trains” or CTA.  Take the orange line to the Roosevelt exit.  At Roosevelt, take the red line to Fullerton.  From Fullerton walk east, turn left on Orchard, right on Arlington, and the hostel will be on the left.  Sounds perfect to me.

So I printed out various maps and felt ready.  At home I packed and got things ready for the boys, who were going to have a crazy weekend bounced between N, his parents, and his sister’s family because he had a few commitments planned for the weekend, too.
On Friday I dropped the boys off and gave them extra hugs since I wouldn’t see them until Sunday.  BBZ’s teacher asked where I was going and I explained that this was my first trip in years without anyone and all on my own to get around the city.  BBZ overheard me and asked if I was scared.  Playing it cool I said of course not and asked why she thought that.  He said I sounded scared, and I assured him I wasn’t and that I loved him and I would see him on Sunday.
Truth be told, I was scared.  I don’t know how aware I was of that fact, but I was definitely afraid of what could happen to me in the big, bad, unfamiliar city.
After all, these days even if we don’t have direct experience with something, our minds and opinions of it are shaped by television and news.  The news highlights bad things that happen to people on busses or trains, and I overgeneralize that to be the constant truth.  The truth is though, 1000s of people ride those same busses and trains without incident every single day.  Those instances are not news or story worthy though, so they are not the ones people hear.
So I couldn’t help the fear I felt, but I ignored it and tried to focus on the trip.  And it was fabulous.  I found my way fairly easily to the hostel, which was in one of the most beautiful little neighborhoods I have ever seen.  I arrived about 6 hours before my sister would, so I got to know the hostel and wandered around town a bit.
The area felt very much like my old neighborhood, the St. Louis Loop.  It was such a happy and exciting part of town.  I felt a great vibe while there.
As I walked along and shopped and poked around, I continued to feel this sense of needing my phone.  I kept checking it and finally it hit me, that no one in the world needed anything from me.  My boys were away and settled.  N had everything covered.  No one from work would call me.  It was an overwhelming sense of freedom, and peace.  It was just me.  Alone.  I could do whatever I wanted.  It was an amazing sense of understanding when I could turn off my connections to the world.  That it was safe to do so.
I also felt very confident about my ability to navigate my way to the hostel and around the city.  I was facing something that scared me and showing myself it was ok.  That is exactly what builds confidence.  Facing a fear, and surviving it.  I felt really prepared to do some more exploring.
Once my sis got there we really started to explore.  It was so nice to spend some time with her.  We walked on Friday and had some wine and some pizza and a pizza bar.  It was the coolest concept.  I hope they bring the idea to the Lou.



Saturday we went out early and walked and walked and walked.  We walked to the lake, which looks like the ocean.  We did some shopping and explored the neighborhood.  In the afternoon we went to another part of town at the theater.  We watched some music and some shows and watched them perform her show.  It was so cool!  The show was great, but the best part is that it was HER show.  They were performing HER show!  That she wrote!  It was awesome.
Her name was on the website, and the phone app, and the program…it was so cool.  I am so happy for her!  She is thinking of expanding the show to a full play, so we talked a bit about what that could be like.  It’s just a one-act play now.
We noticed as we started to explore that part of toen looking for a dinner spot that it had a very different vibe.  We weren’t scared, but we both had the same sense and decided to go back to where the hostel was.  We knew of some dinner places around there we wanted to try.
After dinner we went along with a group from the hostel that was doing a pub crawl.  It was a great way to see some of the smaller parts of the neighborhood that were off the beaten path.  We went to 2 bars with the group and gave up after that and headed back.  We were so tired from our busy day!  We did meet a mailman from Sweden and a research biologist from France, who was originally from Austria. 
The best thing about our trip was probably where we chose to stay. We met so many young people who were explorers and adventurers.  So many of them were visiting from other countries, and here to get an idea of what life is like outside of their country.
Sunday was just a day of travel.  I felt like a mastered the L train and knew just where to go and what to expect as I made my way back to the airport.
As our plane began to lift off from the city, I realized something that I only see when I fly.  Exactly how small I really am.  I spent the hour-long trip home realizing this.  It was a beautiful clear day, so I saw fields of emptiness sprinkled with towns and cities.  I daydreamed about how communities were build way back when and how people stay in the little town , or big city, that they know and understand.  I got a bird’s eye view of what the world really looks like.
As we began our decent to land, we circled around my hometown, which isn’t far from where I live now.  I saw how tiny homes make one big community. I saw our plane get closer, and closer until we were on the ground again, and I saw my world grow to the huge place I sense it is, but with the understanding of how small we really are. It was an amazing sensation.  It felt as though the world made sense.  Stresses began to lift off of me.  I exhaled and felt a relief.  I don’t think I understood how much I was holding in until it all seemed to be breathed away.
I don’t know if I can accurately explain this.  All I know is that I hope it stays with me for a while.  I have had this realization before after plane rides.  I see where I and my family and my little life fit into the big world and the big picture, but it is so easy to get wrapped up in the day-to-day business.  To think that no one knows how hard it is to work full-time and juggle kids and keep the house clean and exercise and eat well and teach my boys about the world and keep it all afloat.
But the truth is it will all be fine.  All of it.  Every single bit of it.  No matter what is to be, it will be.  And what is happening with me in my little life right now, while not exactly the same, is also happening to families in all of those little towns between here and Chicago, as well as in Sweden and France and Austria.  People just living our lives.  Hoping for the best of the future.  Learning and growing as human beings.  Existing in this world together.   
I feel so cleansed.  I feel open and free.  I feel a new sense of what I want in this life of mine and what I hope to teach my boys about the world.  I feel awakened and with a new understanding.  I just hope it stays with me for a while.  I also know that I need to plan trips like this on a regular basis to help me keep this perception.  Maybe my next trip will be out of the country, which is something I have also felt quite a bit of anxiety about.  The man from France I spoke to told me that until I go to a country where people don’t speak my language and I can’t just fit right in, it doesn’t really count.  I don't think I'd do that without my N, though.  If I feel this amazing after a trip only 300 miles away, imagine how far my mind and soul would reach if I really stretch outside of my comfort zone.  Only more soul cleansing and understanding, I am sure. 

Sunday, July 21, 2013

I'm going to regret this.

And I don't mean this actual post. I'm not about to say something I'm going to regret.

What the title means is that I am going to regret this time that I am not blogging. 

These boys are growing up right in front of me. And while I really have been focusing on just being present with them rather than recording Every. Single. Thing. that we do, I am thinking about how much I love reading back to BBZ's youngest years, and I don't want to forget these sweet times that are so incredibly precious to me. 

I mean seriously, look at this picture. Can't you just imagine these young boys as teenagers on some camping trip? Posting this exact photo to their own page? It is simply a few short years away, and I will surely blink and see these boys off to college. 


Oh how I love them so. They are beginning to play together. Like, really play together. BBZ sets the scene and little bro follows right along. Some of the things BBZ says has us laughing for days.

He told N the other day that his head hurt not because he was sick (which he was) but rather because he was smart. He said that his brain thinks too hard and hurts itself. He went on to say that he better get used to his head hurting because he is going to be smart for eighty hundred years. Man, I sure do love that boy. 

LBZ speaks in 3-4 word sentences, loves pretending to sneeze, likes tv more than I would have guessed, ends up in our bed at 3am every other night, loves to draw, loves to swim, and doesn't take a bottle at all anymore. 

While I haven't been blogging much, we have been busy. Working, living our lives, loving our boys, watching them grow, teaching them about the world, and basically spending our days doing our best to love each other as well as we can. 

Life is great. I hope reading this in 5 years is a good enough reminder if how things are/were. They are pretty fantastic :)