Thyme in a Bottle

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Since my last post I have been working really hard to keep up with my daily tasks and routines. I’ve followed through to the best of my ability, which fluctuates from day to day. But everyday I give conscious effort to do the best I can with what I’ve got.

That means remembering who I am and what makes my life feel “good” and “on track”.
The crazy thing is that I haven’t even beat myself up for not accomplishing everything on my “list of the day” and that in itself is a major triumph.

When I woke up this morning, before I even got out of bed I asked myself a simple question; How will I choose to spend my time today? And the question didn’t make me anxious.

I say this because two weeks ago, time management was difficult. At the end of a day where all those things on my list seemed to remain one step ahead of me, I was mentally, physically and emotionally exhausted. I ended up being a crabby bitch when I started thinking about all the things I didn’t get done. I felt like I just couldn’t keep up with life.

So I took 3 cleansing breaths and wrote out the bare bones of this spell, which in part was a letter to myself, (but really, aren’t most spells merely letters to that aspect of ourselves that we are trying to connect with?) and then had a heart-to-heart talk with the Goddess.

Thyme Management Spell

Gather your items:

Your three minute egg timer
1 orange candle
1 small bottle
3 drops patchouli oil
3 drops cinnamon leaf oil
3 drops orange oil
30 drops sweet almond or mineral oil
A pinch of thyme (go ahead and make it a big pinch)
A piece of paper and your pretty purple pen that makes you happy.

Remember your simple altar setup. K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Stupid). You know that during this time in your life simplicity avoids confusion and saves time!

So set it up and quit over-thinking, because I know you will want to. You just love second-guessing yourself. Keep acting that way and all the thyme in the world will not be enough.

Cleanse, cast, and invoke. Then move forward.

Prepare the oil in the bottle with a dropper, add the thyme, cap and shake to mix well. Imagine that while you are shaking the oil that you are also dislodging any negativity or frustration that comes with simply trying to keep up with life. But be careful not to break the bottle with your built up ick, because then you’ll have to start all over again, thus wasting more time.

On the piece of paper write your petition to the Goddess, feeling your deep personal need for successful time management. And remember, K.I.S.S.

I wrote to Her during my ritual, expressing my longing for less chaos and more peace throughout my days. I didn’t want to feel rushed, and I didn’t want to be angry at myself anymore because anger physically hurts me. I wanted her to know that I was willing to keep my priorities in focus, and to take charge of my actions, as each one leads to the other, and so on.

I folded the letter and held it in my hands feeling my fingers tingle with energy. When it felt right, I placed the piece of paper under the timer. Then I dabbed a small amount of the prepared oil to my wrists and rubbed them together.

I lit the orange candle and started the timer.

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I gazed into the candle flame and pictured myself going through a typical day at a calm even pace. Things were running smoothly. Appointments were remembered and household duties were under control. My mind wandered into the darkness a few times but I reigned it back in.

When the timer had sounded, I extinguished the flame and went on about my day. When that feeling of tension began bubbling up, I would bring back into focus the orange candle’s flame and feel the loving support from Her. I was then able to trust in my ability to take back control of my day.

I did this every morning for 3 days, and every other day since. I read the letter, dab on the oil, light the candle, start the timer, and then visualize a smooth sailing day. It only takes a few minutes, and within those first 3 days I began to see a noticeable difference in how I reacted to situations, and how I made better choices in managing my time.

I’m going to do this as often as I need, (replacing the candle when needed) but I choose not to waste my time obsessing about it! I will do it and then go on about my day.

The best part about this daily “blessing” is that I’m finding that if my day didn’t go exactly as planned, I don’t beat myself up about it. One of the things I’ve learned since starting this is that successful time management is the ability to take on unforeseen challenges without causing negativity to creep in and slow me down.

 

Many Blessings on Your Journey )O(

To Start Where I Am

Since chronic pain came into my life 9 years ago, I’ve been trying to deal with a new way of living and with it a whole new way of thinking. And I’ve done a lot of thinking in the past few weeks as I’ve hit some highs and then some low-down lows.There were times in the past week and a half that I couldn’t get out of bed. There have been days in the past week where light and sound were excruciating to my senses. Two days ago I dropped a dinner plate when my hand spasmed and all I could do was helplessly look at the shattered pieces on the floor.

The feeling of helplessness just builds up…and up…and up….

When I’m having a really bad episode and all I can do is lie in bed and stare at the ceiling, I notice a cobweb in the corner. I’ll turn my head and see an empty water glass that needs to be washed. When I turn the other way I see that my closet is messy. For days, sometimes weeks, (at one point about five years ago it had been almost 6 months) my eyes and mind will focus on all the imperfections in my home and see it as a reflection of me as a person. Me as a wife and mother and how I cannot care for those I love the most.

Then when I begin the upswing of good days, I can’t simply snap my fingers and make all the stress disappear. I fill up with anxiety every time I see my overloaded inbox, the empty refrigerator, and the giant piles of laundry. Then I’m like a lot of chronic pain sufferers in that when I have one decent feeling day, I will run around frantically trying to catch up. I’ll clean like a maniac in hopes I can get it all done before the pain returns. And it always does, and at that point it’s usually pissed.

Even after all these years, I’ve yet to fully come to terms with my illness and pain. I’ve read countless books on my conditions and have seen the top specialists. I’ve been coaxed into getting reacquainted with my body (a body that seemed to no longer like me) in order to be more in tune to our (its) rhythm. I’ve learned about energy management and how to create a schedule that works for me. I have seen the need to pattern my week so that I have active days followed by more restful days. I know I have to to do a little bit at a time to prepare for holidays, vacations, or long, hectic days. (I’m eternally grateful that things were good for the California trip) I’ve been schooled in the ways of expressing what my needs are and how to drop my pride when I have to ask for help.

Easier said than done.

I readily grasped the idea to make an outline for my life. I’m excellent at brainstorming ideas and making plans and schedules, but I’m absolutely terrible at following through. You see, I’m a list-maker. I LOVE to make lists. I have a list for nearly everything. Things I need to do, things I want to do, things I need help with, menu planning lists, shopping lists, need to follow-up on lists, home project lists, and on and on it goes.

During the bad times I’ll have short-term memory issues and terrible brain fog, getting easily confused (especially with dates and phone numbers). So I have spiral bound notebooks in every corner of the house (and in my project studio, but let’s not even go there) so that I can jot down ideas and plans as they come to me. Then when I get too many of these ideas and lists and sketches scattered about, I will tear them out and slip them into clear sheet protectors and then place them in the correct three-ring binder, complete with labeled tabs.

Then after I have everything in order, I don’t know where to begin. Which binder was the kids’ back to school supply list in? Where was the list for treatment plans? Where was the mind-map for my dream week? This eventually leads me to the fact that the current organizational system isn’t working.

So I’ll spend time flipping through the shiny plastic coated papers and sort them into new categories. Then I’ll begin to rearrange the tabs, like I’d like to rearrange my life.

I know what you’re probably thinking. That I’m a control freak. Anal. OCD. Manic. Micro-manager. Perfectionist. Hypercritical. Persnickety. Wonder Woman Wannabe.

I raise my hand in surrender. I’m all of the above…most of the time.

So here I go again. I have pared down to one small binder and I’ve put the other binders away. I am back to the basics with my original, simple day to day plan. I know it works because some of my best months in the past few years have been when I followed it. The problem has always been easing back into the routine after being out of commission for more than a few days. The perfectionist in me doesn’t want to just jump in where I am. I want to start with a clean, perfect house. I’m even sure there is such a thing. Or I think it’ll be best if I start at the beginning of the month. Or after ___________.

Well it’s Monday. I suppose it’s as good a day as any to start. I got out of bed and showered. I even followed my ‘routine’ for the day. I’ll be honest. I had a little bit of difficulty following my plan today. It wasn’t hard remembering what needed to be done, but hard to pace myself. To not panic. To not work ahead. To make myself stop between things. To not do two things at once. To have realistic expectations. And to celebrate the small successes as long as I was making progress.

Today wasn’t perfect, but I think I can call it a success.

Many Blessings on your Journey )O(

The Swamp Thing; Sweat, Tears, and Triumph

I think back to my sappy post from a few weeks ago and am amazed at what all happened between then and now.

I will admit that yes, my husband is sweet and caring and thoughtful and good in bed. And yes he missed us like crazy while he was gone. Yet I found myself rolling my eyes when I saw the fourth text from him within an hour. Wasn’t he supposed to be busy doing all that fancy biomedical training?

He left us with big hugs and kisses and even the sweet little journals, but he also left the pool looking like shit. I mean Swamp Shit. I asked him for weeks if he could get the pool up and running before he left on his trip. I never really paid much attention to what he was actually doing, just that he was working on the pool. Besides, he knew what he was doing. And what a relief, because it was going to be getting hot and the kids were going to want to swim. Come to find out after he left (he was lucky he had already left the state of Oregon) he actually filled it with water after almost a year of non-use. My only guess was that he thought he could do shock treatments daily and the pool fairy would come in the middle of the night and voila! (I’m sure there is a pool fairy, but she’s probably a smart, sassy undine who didn’t want to help him anyway). He had to have been hoping I didn’t go and look over his shoulder or check on the progress he wasn’t making. Honestly, I don’t know what he was thinking, but I sure as hell know what I was thinking.

It was very warm that first week, and the kids were wanting to swim so badly. But after one look at that nasty water I knew I wasn’t letting them so much as dip their big toe in that pool.

So I did what any crazy Mother Bear with fibromyalgia, CFS, ruptured discs, spine hardware, and an “I’ll show him”attitude would do and spent the day draining the pool. Early the next morning I scrubbed and shop vac’d as much and as fast as I could because I desperately needed to refill it before the plastic hardened (the temperature was going to reach the high 90’s that day). I refilled it, scrubbed and rinsed both the filter and the pump and sprayed out the skimmer. For the next several days I spent hours using the broom and net. I checked the chlorine and pH, and added more chlorine. The levels were fine but there was still some debris floating in the water. The skimmer wasn’t doing as good a job as I had hoped. It was also still a bit cloudy. So I gave it a dose of shock treatment and by the next morning the water was clear but all the the debris had sunk to the bottom forming a gross sludge.

Here I was at the end of week one and also at my wit’s end. But I wasn’t about to give up. I began rigging a pool vac. I had no idea what I was doing other than slowly morphing into an absolute lunatic; but I was cleaning that pool even if it killed me. I had wielded my nightmare into becoming my quest and I spent 5 hours, a ton of duct tape, an extra garden hose, pool hose, and shop vac hose…. and after a ton of trial (the original pool vac was completely useless by the way) and error, cuss words, and more trial and error, I must say I’m proud of the crazy looking thing I thought up. With a good siphon trick, (with a little added suction boost from the pool fairy who had been watching all of my hard work and was obviously now on my side) I was well on my way to victory. I was going to conquer the monster from the bottom of the pool and the demon within.

Towards the end I felt a burst of much needed energy as I pictured my significant other sleeping at the Marriott getting fresh towels daily and his bed made for him. I was sure he had already swam plenty of times while I had been here working my butt off so that our kids could get the chance to. He was fed meals during his classes and given a $27.00 per night dinner allowance while I was too tired and in pain to cook, doling out freezer meals to the kids that I had warmed in the microwave.

Several hours after I had finally finished the pool my husband called. He asked why I hadn’t answered any of his texts. I curtly responded that I hadn’t had much of a chance to look at my phone. Without much pause he told me about his Sunday afternoon. He went for a walk to the city center where he decided to watch the new Star Trek movie and then wandered around the mall for a while. Then on his leisurely stroll back he sent me pictures of the scenery, the park, the neat statues, etc. He then made an offhand comment about me sending him some pictures of myself later on.

That was it. I felt like an enraged cartoon character (think Tom the blue cat or Wile E. Coyote) red with anger, whistling like a steaming hot tea kettle about to blow. I had held it together, kept my complaints to a minimum, was supportive of him. But now all bets were off. I spoke through a clenched jaw to keep my voice down as I explained to him what kind of Hell I had been living in. My fingers were cracked and raw from all the stupid tape and I had a horrific sunburn. And on and on went my tirade. I felt so much better afterwards and had a good cry. All while he was still on the phone.

I had done one of my crash and burn cycles plenty of times before, and I spent the next 7 days recovering from the pain flare that I caused myself. The kids did get to swim a lot the next few days while I lounged in the adirondack watching them splash each other and play “shark”. All I needed then was a cute straw hat and an ice cold lemonade.

And as much as I hated to admit it, I also felt a deep need for my husband. Maybe it was my triumph. Maybe I was proud to prove to him I could do it. Perhaps it was because I realized I had the strength to do something so physically challenging by myself. Or quite possibly it was after faithful daily Qigong practices of the 8 Brocades, some heartfelt journaling, meditation, a myofascial release massage, and extra helpings of pain medication and supplements. Maybe a combination of all those things. All I knew was that I actually missed the lazy ass.

Many Blessings on Your Journeys of Triumph )O(

Day by Day

My husband went away on business today. He’ll be gone for two weeks; same as last year. That first time was pretty rough because we had never spent more than two nights apart in 14 years. It was really strange having him gone so long. He will be in intensive training all day, every day and then there’s 2-3 hours of homework every night plus projects on the weekends. Quite frankly we won’t be talking a whole lot. I’ll miss his calls and texts. But I’ll really just miss him. His soft kisses and big strong bear hugs.

He warmed our hearts today (mine actually melted) when after giving us goodbye hugs and kisses, he handed each of us a small notebook. These little notebooks had handwritten messages for each day. We were told not to look ahead, just read each entry for that day and then do our part. I was good, I only looked through the kid’s books because he whispered in my ear that I could, but he stressed the fact that I was not to look all the way through mine. “Day by Day” he says, “and when I read them when I get home I will savor your responses just as much as your curiosity tempts you to look ahead.” Then he kissed me again; a long languorous kiss that sealed the deal. I swooned over my big, burly, Irish Druid. And said goodbye.

He wrote personal little messages for each day he’ll be gone. For the kid’s books, he created tasks for them to complete and sometimes asks them questions about their day. For example, a couple of our daughter’s things to do is, “If you could be any animal real or mythical what would you be? Write me a story about a banana eating a monkey.”

For our son, “Draw your favorite food being eaten by a bug; Tell me a story about a boy that couldn’t stop farting… And then he threw in a few math problems for the both of them; what a meanie, right?

My notebook’s first task was to listen to a song that reminded me of him and then text him the song. What a brilliant way to check and make sure I was doing my mini journal. He’s smart like that. I’m so glad I didn’t forget to look at my notebook!

So I’m alone. Sort of. I’ve got my kids and dog so I’m doing okay tonight. In fact, I will be fine for the first 3 or 4 days before those pesky little pangs of loneliness and longing start creeping their way in. I plan on being busy doing activities with the kids to make the time go by faster. A trip to the science museum, see a movie, visit the library, go to the pool, and then the yogurt shop where we can create our own frozen yogurt with mountains of toppings….

As much as I will miss my husband, there’s also a few advantages to my alone time too. I’ll get to stay up as late as I want reading a book. I’ll have Alexa all to myself (Amazon Echo was my birthday gift last week) and I’ll be tempted to eat cookies in bed and allow the crumbs to fall on his side….just tempted though because I know I’ll probably end up over there in the scratchy crumbs at some point. So I shall save my wild woman ways for the upcoming weekend….

Which brings me to something fun for just me. I’ll be kid-less this weekend thanks to my mom and dad and I’ll be spending the Lammas weekend away in the forest with my Sisters in Spirit. And oh my, will I ever be a wild woman wandering through the trees, luxuriating in the beauty of nature and reveling in the powerful magick of the old growth forest. My feet will be dirty, my hair tangled, and I will be wearing a big smile on my face.

Those are the things that will get me through the first week. The second week is still a blank page full of magickal possibilities.

Many Blessings on your Journey )O(

Bonfires & Cake Pops

 

Ahhhh… The New Moon in Cancer, my beloved Sun Sign. I just can’t shake it. The New Moon has always pulled at me more than the Full Moon. I naturally become more “Witchy” during this time. I gather herbs, (yesterday I began drying a new batch of lavender buds, rose petals, and tons of rosemary). I write a lot more, I cook like crazy (my daughter and I made cake pops today for the New Moon Fire tonight at a friend’s house) and I nurture, nurture, nurture until I drive people crazy.

It’s a time when I need to restore balance to my working area, my personal altar, and the family hearth altar. I dust, tidy up, rearrange, change the intentions, etc.

Since it’s a time for new beginnings, I give myself one task for the upcoming Waxing phase. Just one though, because I can’t handle any more than that. If I happen to do more, great, but my main focus is to stick to just the ONE. If I don’t stick to just the ONE I become scattered and unfocused and easily give up or put off until later. Several years ago I was diagnosed with ADHD, but I think some of it has to do with the medication I take for the nerve damage. But then again, maybe it’s why I’ve always been horrible at math and had a problem with focusing since I can remember. I hate excuses, but they are sometimes a necessary evil.

So just the ONE Thing.

The New Moon technically isn’t until about 4 a.m. PST. My HOPE is to have a little solitary in-my-shell-leave-me-alone ritual before my daughter and I head out to the bonfire around 8:00. I think it’s doable.

Maybe that’ll be my One Task.

Or maybe I was thinking way ahead and it’s the cake pops (just kidding!)

Many Blessings on your Journey )O(

The to Return to Reality; A Family Affair

So much has happened since we left for our vacation. Good things happened in our little bubble and bad things happened on a global level. For purposes of this blog and my topsy-turvy emotional state, I’m going to stick to my little “bubble”for the most part.

Sigh.

Our week at Disneyland was all in all a success. It wasn’t perfect, it was really hot and crowded. The kids weren’t perfect. My husband wasn’t perfect. And I know for damn sure I wasn’t perfect. But those little imperfections were so small and short-lived that they were easily forgotten about. So basically we had an amazing adventure.

And I was scared.

Scared of a panic attack on the plane because of my claustrophobia. Scared that the kids were going to fall out of a ride. Scared I would be in so much pain I’d have to spend a lot of time in the hotel room alone. I was scared of being scared of the crowds. Scared the kids would drown in the hotel swimming pool. Scared of forgetting my fentanyl patches. Scared of a crazed gunman running loose….the list could go on and on but you get my point. Catastrophizing is something I’m really good at and I do it with great clarity and knack for detail.

No wonder I don’t ever like leaving the house.

But once we boarded the plane, cramped as it was, the kids’ excitement was contagious. It was not only their first flight, but their first trip to Disneyland. We met the pilots who handed out stickers and trading cards (I have no idea who you trade Alaska Airlines cards with, but hey, it’s the thought that counts).

The four of us were pretty much inseparable for the week except for on two occasions. One was when I took a few hours to myself at the resort spa getting a massage, using the sauna and steam room, and then their amazing shower with its expensive shampoo and body wash. While my hair was drying I drank every variety of tea they had while wandering around naked underneath a fluffy white bathrobe and spa slippers.

It was pure bliss.

The other time was when we dropped the kids off at “Pinocchio’s Workshop” (the only prerequisites were that they were “potty-trained” and “played well with others”) to be watched properly while my husband and I took a couple of hours to ourselves in the hotel room. Alone at last, we ordered room service, fooled around and then took a nap while our 9 & 10 year-olds ate Mickey Mouse shaped chicken nuggets and apple sauce under harsh fluorescent lighting amongst much younger kids. I figured at least they had each other. After being “rescued” we took them over to Downtown Disney for a big waffle cone to help make-up for it. For the most part it worked.

The thing I was surprised about was my lack of homesickness. I still get weepy just thinking about how much we enjoyed each other (kind of sad, I know). The day after we got home my husband started talking “reality”. We had to go over bills and discuss his upcoming two week trip for work. I actually started to cry. I didn’t want all that reality crap. Give me Cinderella and the dumb light parade. I want to watch fireworks while standing in line for a ride. I want to complain about how much my feet hurt, and by how hot it was so it must be time to get another frozen lemonade.

Coming home meant I was no longer sheltered from the big wide world. I was ripped from the clutches of Fantasyland where there was no bad news except that maybe the carousel was down for the day. We never once turned on the t.v. in the hotel room, never saw the news or read the paper. I left my laptop at home and the only apps we used were the ones for the Fastpass and other related “necessary” updates. We were constantly busy at the park or at the swimming pool (where I rode the giant waterslide with the kids more than once).

So the reality of the world hit me harder than I could have ever imagined. It was time to return to dealing with laundry and dentist appointments, and hearing about what’s going on in the “real world”. How fortunate we were to have the luxury of even being able to seclude ourselves in non-reality, turning a blind eye to even Tomorrowland’s foibles. Most of the world has no such luxury. I’m daydreaming of frozen lemonade while over 600 million people lack access to clean drinking water. The children in war-torn countries have no idea what it’s like to stand in line to go on a thrill-seeking ride. Thinking of these things can really put things back into perspective, depressingly so. I have been working hard not to feel horribly guilty for indulging in a family vacation that we had been saving up for years to take. Knowing these things makes it all that more special; that we were blessed with a reprieve, and that we took joy in just being together.

Over the past few days we have looked through the many photos and laughed about the ridiculousness of some of the rides and I am able to smile. As far as reality goes, that’s the reality of our Summer Vacation and I will treasure it always.

Many Blessings on your Journey )O(

Cheers to Summer Solstice and Happy Places

 

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Many Blessings to You and Yours Today, On This Summer Solstice & Full Strawberry Moon!

We leave tomorrow for Disneyland, “The Happiest Place on Earth”, I should probably be happier than I am, right? I’m truly excited to go as a family especially since these youngest two have never been. But I am too stressed at the moment to enjoy the preparations. As I’ve mentioned, I am from Southern California and lived 20 minutes away from the Magical Kingdom. Our family went 2-3 times a year, but I haven’t been in at least 15. So I know that although a lot has stayed the same, I also know that a lot has changed and I am looking forward to what’s in store.

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Except this stress! I have to make sure the flight stuff is in order and that we arrive at the airport on time. I have to drop the dog off with the boarders and then to the doctor’s office to have my daughter’s stitches taken out. I also need to give the boys haircuts tonight. I’ve made reservations for all the cool places to eat at the Park (Rainforest Cafe, Blue Bayou in the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, and brunch with the Disney characters) but there is still so much left to do and if I don’t slow down, I’m going to forget something important; like one of the kids. (I’m joking!)

We are doing a simple family Summer Solstice observance tonight. It’s going to be hard to get the excited kids in bed at a reasonable time, but we have to get up early in the morning and head out to the airport. Nevertheless, today is a special turning point in the Wheel so we are having a small bonfire in our fire pit and do a little bit of drumming. Our outdoor altar has been set up for a few days now and we’ve enjoyed it while sitting on the porch swing listening to the rain. I am definitely going to set aside some time tonight for my personal Summer Solstice ritual and much needed meditation/downtime.

It’s recently been raining here with highs in 50’s-60’s. It feels more like April than the first day of Summer, even the nearby mountains have received several inches of snow in the past week. It’s supposed to be 108 degrees F in Anaheim today but is supposed to cool down a bit tomorrow. It’s going to be a bit of a temperature shock as we aren’t acclimated. We’ll be drinking Lots and Lots of water and spending the heat of the day in the hotel swimming pool before heading back in at night. Nighttime at Disneyland is the best because the crowds have thinned out and the lights are beautiful.

There has been a slight issue with my son being afraid to fly. His sister is excited as hell. I just want them both to enjoy their first flight. We aren’t able to sit together as a family because the seats are in rows of three. So there will be three of us together on one side of the aisle and one of us across the aisle. I told my husband that I would prefer to sit across the aisle and that I’d like to request a window seat. That may sound selfish, but I know the kids will feel safer next to their dad and I can be looking out the window as the plane taxis, speeds up, and eventually leaves the ground, watching the earth pull away in that strangely soft way, feeling a slight dip here and there as the aircraft gains altitude.

And I want to be far enough away from the kids so they don’t see me if possibly panic. For the first time ever, I’m apprehensive to fly. The last time I flew wasn’t a very good experience. It was a flight home from Alaska on a small, wobbly prop plane that felt like it had a hard time staying aloft. I knew it was silly, but it was still a very stressful experience. The only other reasons I can put together are that since that last flight 12 years ago I have had a few surgeries (one major) and I have developed claustrophobia and social anxiety disorder. Add to that I’ve been having to reassure my 8 year-old son several times a day that the plane will not crash and that no, the pilot won’t be drunk (I hope he’s not, but I will more than likely be).

I’ve already got my headphones and IPod in my purse with my most recent calming addition of “Drift” by Tonia Rose for the flight. All in all I know I’ll get a grip on things, especially the stress. To slightly paraphrase a quote from the Seven Dwarfs, …..”it’s off to work I go” so that I may relax and enjoy the experience through the eyes of my children.

Many Blessings on Your Journey )O(

Vanity and the Choice of Ego; Careful, You Just Might Get Burned

We fly out in less than a week. I haven’t been back to Southern California in almost 13 years. I was born and raised in sunny Southern California but it’s hard to call it my “hometown” or “where I’m from” anymore. It feels like a lifetime ago.

I most certainly don’t feel Californian anymore, but apparently when I’m angry, tired, hurt, or frustrated I’ll react in unflattering ways (like a toddler, now that I think about it). When this happens, my husband will simply fold his arms and give me a wry smile and call me his “Cute Little Valley Girl.” He has also become quite good at mimicking my squinted-eye glare. Sometimes to my horror, I still give him the satisfaction of an involuntary hair-flip.

I really need a new shtick.

So when he called me on my immaturity today, I became embarrassed rather than angry. But you see, I need a new bathing suit because the one I have is literally 11 years old. Granted, swimsuit season is pretty short where I am now, meaning my old swimsuit could easily live to see another 8 years. “But dammit”, my ego tells me, “you deserve a nice bathing suit. Just think about all that time you’ll have to hang out at the hotel pool with the kids…with your husband…with lots of other women who will be in bikinis and look waaaayyy better than you.” (granted, it’s the Disneyland Hotel, not a Laguna Beach resort).

I decided to go to the specialty swimsuit store in Portland. If their clientele was just as ego-driven as I was, consisting of beyond pale moms who were insecure with their bodies, I would surely fit in.

This was a smart store, (brilliant really) where the dressing rooms had lighting that flattered, a salesperson who acted genuinely interested in what a bathing suit could do for my boobs as well as my gave birth to 4 kids tummy. They even served free beer. I accepted it (there were cup holders inside the dressing rooms). The fact that they knew I was going to need alcohol in order to take my clothes off in front of a complete stranger was not lost on me but I recovered quickly thanks to the amber colored beverage that snaked its way down into my belly.

Finally, after trying on 8 swimsuits, I found the perfect one. Except when I turned around. Wow, I was pale. Very pale. I’ve been trying to be good and haven’t laid out in the sun for the sheer purpose of a tan for well over a decade. But truth be told, I’ll sometimes look back on those California days of built-in swimming pools in my backyard that resulted in deep, golden tans. Back in the day when my teeth were a dazzling white and I didn’t need beer in order to take my clothes off in front of a stranger. I turned to the side and sucked in my belly. I stuck out my chest. If I just had a little bit of sun on my legs, just enough to take away some of the glare….maybe some of the dimples…

Besides, whoever said Witches can’t have a tan? When did that become the rule? I’ve done the pale Stevie Nicks thing long enough, and in my defense, I’m very deficient in vitamin D. I mean, isn’t that what happens when there’s not a lot of sun? I think so.

My next stop was the tanning salon. This is coming from someone who just a few months prior looked at herself in the mirror, completely naked and admired her female body and all its flaws. But the salon smelled like pina-colada. The bubbly girl behind the counter explained all the package deals and as a lightly bronzed woman was leaving, she was asked how her session went. She answered with, “it felt amazing, as usual.” So I did what any nonsensical witch would do, I signed the release, consenting to new wrinkles and further skin damage. All in the name of ego.

I went the full 10 minutes in the “platinum” bed because I needed a tan real quick.

Of course I didn’t tan, I burned. No, I fried. I should have known better. I did know better. I could have simply painted my toenails. I could have remembered the way I lovingly saw my body, with all its honest flaws. I could have remembered what truly mattered; We were taking the kids on their first plane ride, on their first trip to California, to spend a week at Disneyland, “The Happiest Place on Earth” for their first time.

And here I was thinking about how myself and how I would look to others. That night as my husband was smearing aloe-vera gel on my back, I felt ashamed at my selfishness. I had gotten caught up in my own petty self-consciousness because I was comparing myself to a body from a lifetime ago and worried how I would stack up to others. Anxious about how others would see me. I spent far too much money on a bathing suit that I’ll hardly ever wear because I was burnt to a crisp. Instead, I would have to be covered up and wear a sunhat.

All in the name of Ego.

I knew better, and now I realize how much more I liked myself before I allowed my ego to get the best of me. Before I got burned. Just Live, Learn, and Love your Body.

Many Blessings on Your Journey )O(

The Accidental Marvel

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My youngest daughter fell off the bike at school yesterday. The class was riding on a gravel path and she rode down the hill way too fast, didn’t see the big rock coming right towards her, and…well….the result was a big, deep hole in her knee. She’s now got plenty of stitches and I must say she was pretty brave. Me, not so much. Now I’ve seen a lot of things over the years being a mom of 6, but when they started scrubbing with wadded up gauze and saline….well…they scoured her wound like I would scour my bathtub. It wasn’t a pretty sight.
On our way home from Urgent Care we stopped by and picked up her very first pair of glasses. I had gotten a phone call last Friday letting me know they were ready but I didn’t feel like I had the time to drive into town to get them. Besides, what was a few more days? She’s come this far without glasses, so what difference did it make?
Maybe the fact that she (perhaps) would have been able to actually see the rock up ahead in plenty of time.
I have felt guilty watching her limp around on a stiff leg while wearing her new glasses and then bumping into walls because her depth perception is off. It’s a good thing she has a sense of humor, otherwise I would have had a hard time keeping my laughter in-check. Shame on me, I know. But like most parents, I’ve learned to at least try and make light of minor yet unfortunate events; for the sake of all concerned, whether guilt ridden or not.

But hey, let’s not stop there. (yes, there’s more!) To help heap on the guilt, her class is heading out on an end of the school year field trip tomorrow that she has been excited about for months. The doctor wasn’t very helpful by way of opinion and told me to use my own discretion on whether or not she should go. I guess I wanted a green light. However, it’s a two hour hike including some switchbacks. I didn’t think the field trip was going to happen for her now. In fact, it was pretty obvious, I just needed to find a way to tell her that.
And there, in the midst of my dilemma, a touching moment occurred that made me take pause. While eating her cereal my daughter looked thoughtfully out the window (she had put her glasses on first thing this morning) and she said, “Momma, I never knew leaves looked like that. They are so…so vibrant!” Her statement, though a tad bittersweet, made me smile. She continued looking out the window, pointing out birds in the distance, the defined puffiness of the clouds and their trailing wisps….and on and on she went, not caring that her cereal was getting soggy.
With her big, beautiful gray eyes, she gazed upon the world with new-found wonder and curiosity. She explained to me how excited she was to see everything in a new light. To really see. She couldn’t believe how different things looked now that they were more clear. Such surprise in how blurry things were before. She just never knew.

I didn’t want to tell her the field trip was off.
My daughter’s fascination with how clearly she now saw the world reminded me of a moment we had when she was two years-old. I was holding her on my hip and we were both watching the big snowflakes land in her bare hand and I vividly remembered the way she would marvel at the sight of them melting before her very eyes. This memory made me pause. If she only knew the significance of her words. How often am I just going through the motions, not really looking at my life as I live it. The only way I really know how far my mindfulness has wandered is when I pause to refocus. To actually look in order to be aware.

I stopped emptying the dishwasher and went over and sat down next to her at the table. She came over and sat on my knee and together we looked out the window and watched the world happen. She took a big sigh and said, “I know I can’t go tomorrow, but it’s okay. I shouldn’t have gone down the hill so fast.”

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My little girl (who’s not so little anymore) has no idea how much she continues to prompt me to open my eyes and marvel at my surroundings, which at the moment included her. To see clearly not just with my eyes but with all of my senses. If I can find the patience to pause and take in all that surrounds me then the better my chances are of finding the strength to pull back on the force of my whirling world; a world that can all too easily become a blur. To remember that ‘shit happens’ but you learn from it in order to move on to the next marvel.

Many Blessing on your Journey )O(