Five Project

Five Project

I’m going to try something new.

As you probably know, my Baby Bee is growing up way too frickin’ fast. As in….he’ll be a KINDERGARTNER IN A MONTH!¬†I’m struggling with this (obviously) but think I have found a way to help me cope. A photography project. I’ve always had fun playing around with taking photos, and have been told I have a natural eye for good angles & lighting. I’ve never taken courses or even considered myself a photographer, but it’s something I love doing. My parents just recently sent me a bad ass Nikon to replace the one that broke…oh, 7 or so years ago, and I’ve had a blast learning it and experimenting. Of course my favorite subject is my boy, and the Fat Cat. This gave me the idea of the Five Project. I will be snapping photos of Baby Bee’s fifth year of life, and sharing on here. Five is a big year, and I feel big things are going to happen for us this year. It is the end of his “toddlerhood” and the beginning of the “school-age years” and I need a way to capture this transition.

All of his other major transitions happened in a really dark time of my life thick with grief, anger, and extreme sleep deprivation. As a result, I remember very little of his first two and half years. I don’t want that to happen this time. I want to be present and active and in the middle, seeing everything he’s becoming. So I will share an image or two, here on a regular basis, to document his journey to becoming a big boy. Five year olds are odd, magical creatures; on the brink of greatness, but not willing to let go of their babyhood securities. He’s only been five for two months, and it’s been quite a trip already!

The photographs aren’t going to be perfect, magazine quality. I probably will edit very little, if at all. But the images will convey a certain moment, or emotion that I felt needed to be captured at that exact moment. I want this project to represent him and his journey from being a BABY to a BOY. So here we go:

BATH TIMEDSC_0023DSC_0027

I snapped these on his first night back from visitation with the Drone. I love watching his imagination grow, and his pretend play get more intricate and detailed. He’s a very serious and focused player. He plays to process his life: always airplanes especially immediately after or before a trip. If we see an accident on the way home from school, he pulls out the toy ambulances and police cars and sets up an “emergency.” He’s so very aware of the world around him. And that cowlick in the top photo slays me, every.single.time. I pray he never loses it.

You can take the girl outta the country…

As much as my high school self cringes to hear this, I really am a country girl. For the majority of my childhood we lived on acreage and in my teen years we had a horse, goats, chickens and a duck or two. I learned how to drive barefoot on curvy back roads. And hell, I lived in a neighborhood called “Backwoods Estates.” So, yeah I guess I’m a country girl. I never realized HOW MUCH of one I was until I moved to the city. Traffic absolutely blew my mind. How could so many people be on the road at the same time!? And why can NONE OF THEM DRIVE!? Sirens 24/7 took a long time to get used to. Even after five years, I still have an experience, every now and then,  that makes me think “wow, I really don’t do well in the city.” Last night, I had my first taxi experience. And though brief, it was pretty humorous (to me), so I thought I’d share.

My flight was delayed (as usual) so I landed way later than the original 8:15pm. According to the website though, my hotel had a shuttle service until 11. I still had plenty of time so I made my way down and outside to the pick up area. After standing in terrible humidity and heat for 20 minutes, I called the hotel. “Oh our shuttle service ended at 9:50 tonight so you’ll have to take a cab.”

I panicked. A cab!? But don’t people get mugged in those things!? What if I get kidnapped!? Do they take credit cards? How expensive is this going to be!? How do I even go about calling a cab!? So I did what I normally do in a crisis situation; I called my mom. She laughed gently, and calmed me down and said that all cabs take credit cards, but usually have a set rate from the airport. There was a line of taxis at the curb and I asked my dad (a frequent traveler) if those were for anybody. He told me yes, get in one. So I hung up and asked the cabbie if he was waiting for someone. He said no, get in. So I did. And silently freaked out for the next 3 minutes.

“Am I supposed to buckle up? Well I’m not going to in case I have to bail out of this death trap. Fuck it’s freezing in here. How has the ticker gone up 50 cents already, we’re not even out of the airport yet!? This is gonna be expensive. Why is there no music playing? Am I supposed to be talking? I’m gonna buckle up, this seems wrong. No! What if he turns around with a gun and demands my money? If I’m buckled I won’t be able to escape! I should have listened to C and brought my gun! Oh my gosh we almost got hit! Was it his fault or the other drivers? Oh thank God there’s the hotel. $10.80 ok not too bad. Will he take my debit? Nevermind I’ll use my credit card to earn miles. How much of a tip should I leave? 10% maybe? Ok why is this taking forever, is my card not working? Oh they MAKE you leave a tip! 45%?! I don’t think so! 30%? Nah, I’ll chose 25% it wasn’t that long of a drive. Ugh that’s up to like $13-14 now. Oh well better than being stranded. Thanks have a good night! He sounded so angry when I shut the door. Was he mad about the tip? He probably thinks I’m another stingy American. But I’m not! I’m just broke, dude!”

My first taxi ride was literally 3-5 minutes long. But my brain is obviously an overachiever and can pack a whole bunch of anxiety into a small amount of time. I did not once feel worldly, or sophisticated or cool in the back of a taxi. I was a sweaty, panicky, lost little girl needing a damn drink.

Ah, city life. How glamorous! 

Lessons From the Yoga Mat

Lessons From the Yoga Mat

I’ve been doing yoga off and on since childhood. Mostly at home, but have taken classes in a studio here and there as well. The past few months, though, have been a brand new chapter in this drawn out story of my yoga journey. I’ve been practicing (nearly) every day for the past three months. I don’t have time or money right now for classes in a studio, so I’ve been practicing at home in the rare moments of quiet….early morning or late at night. With the help of the DownDog app, Pinterest, and my mama, I’ve expanded my asana repertoire way past what I’ve ever known. In the midst of all that, I have found the true purpose of yoga: to get to know yourself. It helps to calm my insanely LOUD mind. It brings me back down to earth and calms me enough to find a solution to whatever I’m struggling with. My anxiety has lessened, my pent up anger is definitely subsiding and I’m sleeping better. I find I can step back from the insanity no matter where I am, re-center with a few deep breaths, and then step back into the fray with more solid legs. This I know is all thanks to yoga. Despite what some think about yoga as a religion, I feel closer to God on the mat than I do anywhere else (aside from the ocean). This is where I can hear his gentle whispers that I’ve been blocking out during the day. Yoga is a time I can settle into myself and start acknowledging emotions and thoughts that I have been reluctant to listen to. My yoga mat is where I am finding myself, buried under years of doubt, pain, fear and struggle.

Aside from the mental, spiritual, and emotional growth I’ve experienced, I have also been excited to see the PHYSICAL changes. My body is stronger, more tone. My balance is getting better (which was SO NEEDED), my aches and pains are less. I’ve been able to stretch and hold my body in ways I haven’t been able to in years. Some of my favorite moments on the mat are looking at a pose and thinking “oh no way in hell” only to try and realize with a little bit of focus, I CAN do it! There is nothing more satisfying than nailing a difficult asana, or feeling myself sink deeper into a familiar one that used to give me trouble. I usually end a session feeling all sparkly and ready to take on the world.

Today after work I was feeling pent up and restless and exhausted…the perfect storm. Just for fun, I decided to try a “beginner” headstand. I’ve been working on shoulder stands and arm balances so I thought it would be fun to see if I could step it up a bit. I got through the first two steps, but when it came to stretching my legs out above my head, my core muscles just couldn’t get the job done. I collapsed with a giggle and a shrug and figured I’d come back to it. I dove into a kick ass 45 minutes session that left me sweaty and shaky & feeling accomplished. As I settled into savasana (also known as the main reason I do yoga), my perfectionism started to creep into my quiet mind and nitpick at all the spots I had problems in. “You were really shaky in Warrior III today. Why couldn’t you do side-plank? That used to be no problem! Your forward fold wasn’t deep enough.”¬†Then I thought about the hilariously failed headstand attempt and started feeling stubborn. “I’m gonna try it again. I know I can do it! I was almost there!”¬†And then a quiet voice from the back of my mind came forward and said, “listen to your body. You are not ready for a headstand. Keep working towards it, and come back to it later. If you force it, you will get hurt. Just be patient.”¬†Grudgingly, I acknowledged I needed to calm the f*** down and work on perfecting some other asanas first. As I sat up and started coming out of my meditation, I had an epiphany: that same line of thought could be, and SHOULD be, applied to the rest of my life.

The number one rule in yoga is to listen to your body. That’s not to say, don’t challenge yourself, don’t push yourself a little bit. But you need to listen to what it’s telling you. If a certain pose hurts too bad, release and try something else. Focus on the muscles that need help the most, and listen when your body is saying “ENOUGH!” Yoga is not to meant to hurt. It’s meant to bend, stretch and challenge, but never injure. As I pushed aside my ego and perfectionism this afternoon, I realized I needed to apply that rule to my life off the mat. I need to stop rushing every
thing and trust the process that is my life. Obviously, I will continue  to work towards goals, continue to push f
or a higher education, better health, happier mental state. I will not¬†settle but I also will not keep forcing things that aren’t ready to happen it. The more I push, the less I listen, and the more likely I am to end up hurt in a pile on the floor. Things only happen when the time is right. I will be married when the time is right. We’ll have a baby when the universe says we will. I will find the perfect job when I’m supposed to. Our first house will come to us when it’s time. I just need to keep on finding a way to better myself, and everything else will fall into place. WHEN THE UNIVERSE/GOD WANTS IT TO, NOT WHEN I WANT IT TO.IMG_1805

How’s that for a lesson in ego and perfectionism? I am not a patient person. When I decide I want something, I get pretty upset when it doesn’t happen exactly when I want it to. I plan things out and then get completely disheartened when that plan falls to shit….and it always falls to shit. I obsess about things until I convince myself it will never happen and i spiral down into a depression. I’m kind of a toddler, if we’re honest here. One of the few Bible verses that I remember is from a Psalm (I don’t remember which one) and it simply says: Be still and know that I am God. It’s plain but powerful. Basically He’s saying, do what you’re supposed to, SHUT UP and just trust Me. Being still has never been my strong suit…unless I’m napping. Being patient has never been my strong suit either. But hard work definitely is, so I will keep on my path and just wait for things to fall into place. I’ll keep working on my balance and core muscles too, and one day I’ll get my ass in the air.

To help with this whole being-patient-and-still shit, I’m stepping back from Facebook for awhile. It’s hard to focus on all the positive in my life when there is nothing but negative shit on my feed. It’s hard to hear my inner voice when I’m nose deep in my phone. And yes, honestly, it’s almost impossible to be content in my life, when I’m getting snippets of everybody else’s “perfect” ¬†life. I rejoice full heartedly for friends and family who announce engagements, babies, new houses etc. I love looking a pictures of vacations and adventures. But, being human, I find myself comparing and despairing and maybe even getting a little jealous. I don’t like that about myself. I have a great life, and I am thankful and happy. But there are huge gaps that I am working on filling, and I don’t need a constant barrage of outside influence. So for my sanity, I’m breaking up with Facebook for a bit. I will spend the extra time working on me, spending time with my rapidly growing child, and strengthening my relationship. I need a little bit more silence in my life, and less negativity. Less competition.

You can contact me in the “old fashioned” ways via cellphone and email. I’ll still be on Instagram, and hopefully writing here much more frequently.

Namaste.

Loaded Question

Loaded Question

“Where are you from?”

Usually, a simple, straightforward question innocently asked by someone trying to get to know you. Unless you are a military child, and then it’s a loaded, complicated question. In the past, I’ve answered “nowhere” or “everywhere” and then patiently explained that I was an Army Brat. We moved around a lot yada yada yada. That eventually got too tiresome so I usually just say Tennessee. Because out of all the places I’ve lived, Tennessee has been the one place I lived the longest. But I never felt like I belonged there, always felt like I stood out like a sore thumb. Just didn’t fit. When I moved away to Oregon, I felt, and still feel, more at home than any place I have ever lived. It’s okay to be weird and quirky and whatever you are here. The beauty is astounding, no matter how many times you see it. I feel the history of my family here, remember childhoods filled with love and wonder. But still a part of me is connected to Tennessee. I tell people I’m from there. That I grew up there because really, I did. I graduated high school and college there. My biggest and hardest life lessons were learned in the backwoods of that state. Some of my lowest and highest of times were spent under the kudzo and hickory trees.  So many good memories have sunk into the clay, but all the awful things I went through after Baby Bee was born have overshadowed the life before. All the fear and threats and insecurity still haunt me. I get physically ill every time I have to come here to bring my son home. I plan my flights so I spend as less time as possible in the town I’ve grown to dread. I have family here. I have friends and acquaintances and beloved professors still here that I’d love to see. But my anxiety and my confusion and the out right FEAR I have associated with this place prevent me from enjoying my visits. Sometimes I just fork out money and stay in a hotel in Nashville in order to avoid the feels. 

Today I landed a little after four in the afternoon and had my brother pick me up. As we were driving down I-24 I was struck by the beauty of a Southern spring. It’s different than the rugged, awe-inspiring spectacle that is the Northwest. Oregon’s air is sharp and pure, the trees a jagged deep green you can feel in your bones. The mountains and river are so drastic they slap you in the face. Tennessee’s beauty is gentle…rolling like the hills and slow like the old rivers. The green of the trees is soft, the air is soft & heavy. The beauty whispers to you and runs its fingers through your hair. I forgot that this state could be a sweet, gentle friend. It was a dictator to me for so long, I forgot how to love it. Today I’m remembering how. I sat on the banks of a (non-snow melt) river and drank my favorite peach wine from a local winery while laughing with my little brother about crazy shit we did growing up. I heard my father in his words, and our mother in my voice. I longed for my son and boyfriend to share this homecoming with me. For once I didn’t feel like running away. I wanted to feel the embrace of Tennessee again, to be flooded by good memories instead of bad ones. I still haven’t been back to our old house, or anywhere near it. I probably never will make it back. There are some things better left buried deep in the ground. This town has changed so much I barely recognize it, and that’s okay. It makes it less painful that way I think. I can pretend I’m in a foreign city and not one painfully familiar.

I’m ready to go home now. Home to Oregon where I’ve made a life for myself untainted by lies and manipulation with a man who would never dream of saying or doing things to me that were done to me before. A man who treats me and Baby Bee like people and not pawns to play in his game. Home to the life I’ve carefully and exhaustedly built to protect us and set my son up for a good life. Home to Oregon. To the sharp piney air and hypothermic rivers. To the slow left-lane drivers and silly hippies. Where I belong. And though I’ll be relieved when our plane takes off and points west tomorrow, I will leave a piece of my heart in the red Tennessee clay. Because no matter how hard I ignore it, or deny, or pretend it’s not there, this place will always be in my soul. I’m at once a southern girl and a northwest hippie and I can’t change that. So when people ask me where I’m from, I will probably continue to answer “Tennessee.” Or maybe I’ll revert back to my fail safe “everywhere.”

Heart Less

Heart Less

My boy is 2,000 miles away with a person I don’t trust. Every instinct in my body is screaming “WRONG! THIS IS ALL WRONG!” But it’s a court order. I have no choice. I trudge through two weeks every couple of months like I’m dead. I am not myself when he’s gone. I feel like a shell of a person…I do what I need to do but it’s like autopilot. My heart is gone, my soul in hibernation. The world stops until I get that fuzz head back in my arms after 14 days of agony. We try to keep busy and do fun couple things, but it’s always tainted. There’s a shadow following us, reminding us that the world is not right without a chattering four year old tagging along behind. 

This visitation schedules suck. Everything about it sucks. All I can do is drink heavily, snuggle C, and wait for my chance to change this. To fight for my son yet again. Four years and it hasn’t gotten easier. It probably never will. But we cope. We adjust, we survive, we make the best of things. And I buy mass quantities of wine and pay my Netflix subscription and count down the days until the world gets back on its axis.

Dear Baby I May Never Have…

Dear Baby I May Never Have…

(Art by Ferenc Pinter)

Dearest Little One,
I am in love with you, and I have not even conceived you yet. I may never get to and that is something I am trying to come to terms with. I long for you nearly every minute of every day. My womb feels empty as I watch my “baby” learn new big boy things like riding a bike and his ABC’s and preparing for Kindergarten. My heart aches at the sight of infant clothing and my hands often wander down to my flat(ish) stomach yearning to feel life in there again. I love you. I want you desperately. But now is not the time. It is in fact, a terrible time for a new baby. Money is tight (though much better than what it was when I was pregnant before), things are awfully hard and confusing with my only child, and I am stuck at a crossroads in life, trying to figure out what I want to be when I’m grown up. Although at 28, I should have figured this out by now. So as you can see, Dear Baby I May Never Have, my life is not ready for you. But oh, my heart sure is. Our arms have plenty of room for a baby and a kindergartner. My brain knows, that if I think things are hard NOW, adding an infant to the mix will most definitely make life a thousand times more difficult. But my heart counter-argues that it would also make life a million times more beautiful.Full of brand new firsts, and gummy smiles, and impossibly adorable accessories in the miniature. Our lives would be filled with boundless love and wonder. Baby Bee would be a fantastic big brother and experience the joys of being a sibling. He would (eventually) have a 24/7 playmate, someone to go on adventures with and play pranks on and to help him drive mommy crazy.

But it won’t happen right now. Hopefully, hopefully, one day down the road, this ache in my heart will be replaced by the blooming love only an expectant mother knows. One day my empty uterus will explode into life again and give me a do over on pregnancy and infancy. You see, I never really got to enjoy my first and only pregnancy. Things were even worse then, I wasn’t as careful, and a miracle happened. I was in a bad spot, and all the bad things overshadowed the holy things that were happening in my body. I think that is part of the reason I am feeling so desperate for you. My baby is almost five, and soon won’t need me. I remember very little of his first 2 years and as time goes on, the few memories I have are fading more and more. There was so much I didn’t get to do with him that I hope I  can do with another one. To make up for it all. To prove that I am capable and loving and not just a big fluke. And to bring the inexplicable joy of parenthood to My Love. He doesn’t say it much, but I know he’s wanting you too.

It’s indescribable, this love and longing I have for a being who isn’t anything more than a wish. It’s maddening, waiting for the time to be just right when time is actually AGAINST me and my ability to have you. It’s heartbreaking, the possibility that I will never see you Earthside. One that haunts my dreams and follows me around all day, dodging in and out of shadows. So, my dearest Baby I May Never Have, please be patient with me. With us. With the world. Please wait in your sacred place until it is time to come to me. Don’t give up hope. Don’t abandon our dream. Know that I am dreaming of you, I am wanting you and I love you. Already. Forever and ever. Amen.

Roller Coaster Ride

Roller Coaster Ride

Baby Bee had a very rough day at school yesterday. For whatever reason, he was mad at the world and the littlest thing set him into a huge meltdown. Complete with blood-curdling screams, SWEARING,¬†and disrespectful words to both his teacher and his mama. So as a consequence he lost every toy except books and puzzles, T.V. and movie privileges for yesterday and today, and a long list of chores to earn back some toys. So today, instead of enjoying the lovely spring day on the golf course with C, Baby Bee and I are at home checking things off our chore list. But as much as this is a lesson in consequences for him, it’s also a lesson in patience for me. Having a four year old “help” with chores is literally the most nerve-wracking, tongue-biting, deep-breathing thing on the planet.

Instead of stacking the tupperware neatly with like sized containers, he just shoved. Instead of nice back and forth motions with the mop, he zig and zagged and flopped and even tried to mop the ceiling. Why? God only knows. He was so eager to help and actually¬†enjoyed¬†the chores that were supposed to be punishment. But my not so inner control freak was…well freaking out. I’ve been sick for about 4 weeks in a row, so I’m already cranky and have very little patience left. Add to that the fact that I’m missing out on a fun sun-soaked day because my child lost his ever-lovin’ mind at school and I’m still trying to be firm and let him know he’s in trouble but he keeps being so sweet and cute and DAMMIT I’M READY TO START DRINKING BECAUSE THAT’S NOT HOW WE PUT CLOTHES IN OUR DRESSER!!!!!

This child. I don’t know how to handle him most days. He leads me to the edge of my sanity and right before I’m about to jump off in despair, he grabs my hand and does something so sweet and hysterical that I snap out of it and back away from the edge. I have never been so in love, so mad, so exhausted, so in awe and so utterly at a fucking loss than I have been while raising this wild man for the past 4 1/2 years. Every day brings about a hundred different emotions and at least one “what the fuck?”¬†muttered, thought, or sometimes yelled into a pillow or the shower.

Take yesterday for instance. He got up without much complaint, ate breakfast and got ready for school without a single fuss. The drop off went okay and then about an hour later…shit hit the fan. The rest of the morning was him screaming, swearing and losing his shit over one thing and another. After being pulled into the office and calmed down, he came back to my class (where I was crying and cleaning up the lunch mess from 8 toddlers) with the sweetest grin and gave me a big hug. Like he hadn’t just been screaming profanities so fiercely his eye was twitching. Like I hadn’t been questioning my parenting skills and every decision I had ever made in the past 5 years. The rest of the afternoon went fine until we got home and he realized all of his toys were being taken out of his room. Then another meltdown ensued while I drank a beer on the deck trying to not meltdown myself. C came home, talked to G and we started dinner. Since Baby Bee was told to stay in his room all night, I poked my head in to check on him. There he was, sitting butt ass naked in the middle of his room working on puzzles. Happy as a damn clam. He ate dinner quietly, but still made silly faces at me trying desperately to get attention. He returned to his room to clean up and get pajamas on. He came running out with a t-shirt as pants and pants as a hat and said “look mama I’m an elf!”IMG_0575

How can you go from a complete and utter¬†demon child¬†to the most hysterical and cheekiest little person in a day?! Hell, sometimes it’s within an hour. I have a baby Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde on my hands, I think. Or maybe just a little boy with a big heart, smart brain and too big feels in his tiny, energetic body. Honestly, I have no idea. But I¬†DO¬†know that this parenthood gig is a crazy roller coaster ride that I am never prepared for. I prefer calm, smooth seas but my child is a raging typhoon. Every day is a lesson in patience and letting go for me. I just need to remember to breathe, and pick my battles. But have you ever watched a four year old sweep!? Oh the agony.