Friday, April 19, 2013


I would not have been able to write this post six months ago - for a lot of reasons. The first reason is that I stopped writing for a few days. In the past, I have stopped writing in a blog, journal or sketch book after a few days, and then feel as if I cannot go back to it because the continuity is broken.
It's one of the changes, the tempering of my self imposed extremism. It's part of the healing process that began when I made the choice to value my own health and well being over the perceptions of others and what I 'aught' to be doing.
Some of that healing has been physical. I sleep again, I eat again. The anxiety that gripped me at literally every moment of the day has abated. The painful heartburn that never ebbed has gradually lessened, and has finally disappeared. I can feel my energy returning, the creativity, the zest that makes life worth living.
Much of the healing has been psychological and emotional. I feel like I have come into a place I've never been in my life. I can look into the mirror and see myself. And I like what I see. Like looking into a rippling pond, the true self that has been just below the surface, waiting, is starting to take shape. The pieces of true self that I've carried around for so long finally have a space to begin to fit together. And I'm welcoming the experience.
Life is opening up for me, fresh and bright. I may still need to explore my options, but at least I can enjoy them, take pleasure in the journey. I may spend my life as a wonderer, proverbially and physically, but if I do, it will be because this is my true nature, not because I am running away from that which I do not wish to see, wish to face.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Guilt and Shame

I ate a sugar cube painted with watercolor in preschool. I still remember the hot shame that washed over me when the teacher saw me and chastised me. In elementary school I got my name on the board because I was looking at a map, trying to find Mackinaw Island (while sharpening my pencil) when the teacher called chair time. I actually cried, but told everyone I just had really bad allergies. These kinds of things stay with me forever. They run through my mind over and over again, for no reason.
Up until recently I would feel that wave of heat and humiliation pressing up and through me. I still occasionally run these episodes through my mind, but the rush of hormones that accompanies it has ebbed. I feel a sense of guilt and shame just thinking about why - for the first time in my adult life, I've chosen to medicate. I feel the guilt that I couldn't just buck up and make these feeling stop, that it took a crashing catastrophe to make me see the need was there. I feel shame that I 'need' to be on meds.
And yet. I feel good. I choose to be on medication. It's an adult choice, and the right one. I needed the help, and I took the steps to get it. As small as it seems, that's a big step for me. This has been the first time in my life that those waves of panic and guilt don't constantly press over me, threatening to sink me to the bottom. Beyond that I can see these patterns, identify that these feelings are irrational, rather than living in them. I can banish them with the emotional healing that has begun.
I have worth. I'm worth a twenty dollar outfit, or a new pair of earrings. I'm deserving of things that have form, not just function. I need not relegate myself to tatty jeans, the same three shirts, and over sized hoodies. I need not feel guilty about the beautiful (and functional!) leather boots that I bought on clearance, even if I spent a lot of money on them. I don't need to feel shame because I want to use make up (But hippies don't do that...). I can own my worth, and begin to hone and focus this new identity - this me.

Monday, April 15, 2013


When I begin a task, I begin it all or nothing. Perhaps this is part of my moderation issue, but I begin these things with singular focus. Some might even call this compulsion or fixation. This has been a blessing and a curse for me. I suppose it depends a lot on the project, and the effect it has on the rest of my life.
There have been many times when I throw myself into a knitting project and I cannot stop, even if it's two in the morning and I'm literally falling asleep at the needles. Times when I don't get up out of the chair to check on my crying child because I'm not at the end of the row, or because I'm just three rows from the end. In cases like this, my focus is actually detrimental to my self and my family, although I do get the knitting project done quickly.
On the other hand, I can also bring my complete focus to playing with my children. In those moments I have eyes for nothing but my children's' joy. I don't see the mess they make, or the dreads in the back of their hair. I don't see the ballpoint pen all over my daughter's legs, or the fact that my son is eating his boogers. I'm completely, single-mindedly focused on the experience of being engaged with them. It's magical.
It's sort of like having a super power, this focus. I just have to use it for good, rather than evil.

Sunday, April 14, 2013


In the past I have considered myself an extrovert. I get charged up around other people, and I enjoy being with them. That's practically the definition of an extrovert, right? It's ben interesting though, to acknowledge the changes I've seen in myself. Perhaps it's because I'm older now, or maybe because I have kids, so my energy is limited. Deeper down, though, I suspect it has to do with the 'masks' I wear when I'm around others, and my need to please.
It took a long time to come to the realization that I don't really enjoy being a frenetic crazy person, despite that being my default mode around those I don't know. That persona just allows me to interact with others on a superficial level so that I don't have to feel anxiety about meeting someone new, or being around a lot of others.
The problem with this persona Band-Aid is that it sets me up for people to assume that I'm always crazy and bubbly-hyper, which I'm often not. I have mellowed out into a relatively quiet, introspective woman. It often means I feel obligated to slip into that high energy place, even when I don't have the energy to spend.
More and more often I find myself coming away from these interactions drained, tired, and sometimes even physically ill. It takes everything out of me to be around so many others, and in particular those I don't know. I hadn't really given it a lot of thought - as I'm sure most people don't when they decide to have children - but I did seek out quiet, alone time with regularity, and I need it.
Children are people, and they require the same interaction, if not a great deal more interaction, than a normal person. Not only that, but they require a lot of physical interaction, a lot of being touched. By the end of the day, how can a person not be exhausted by that?
I'm an introvert, by choice or by design. Coming to terms with that identity and embracing it is a step in the right direction. Scheduling time that I am alone with myself, with nothing to do is a battery recharger, and as I move forward on this journey, I strive to make it a regular part of my self care routine.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Daily Rythm

I have always thought of myself as a free spirit, as someone who thrives in change and flexibility. I've been surprised these last few years (since having children) that, while I am certainly capable of thriving in constant change (and sometimes I crave it), I actually do enjoy having a rhythm to my life. There is comfort in the consistency of daily rhythm and routine. I have noticed, too, that my kids do better when they can dance through the day to the beat of our daily routine.
I never considered myself a creature of habit, but I am. I find myself falling into negative routines when I don't lay out positive ones for myself. It's part of what happened to me during these last few months of school. I had fallen into a routine of getting up, drinking my coffee and eating nothing, or eating perhaps a doughnut, cookie, or brownie. Then I would go the rest of the day marginally attending to my kids, serving them turkey and veggies in front of the TV while I attempted to do homework - and didn't eat anything myself! Then I would spend my evenings drinking more coffee (or sodas) to keep me awake while I did readings or organized the work I had been doing all day. Often I went to sleep at one or two a.m., and even then I tossed around in bed with insomnia for hours.
Now I'm spending time to think about what I want the daily and weekly rhythms of our lives to be. Do I want outside time to be a part of their daily life (yes!), do I want to bake daily? Weekly? As much as my children delight in knowing what comes next in the day, I thrive in the knowledge that our day has an outline. Not a stiff, rigid one, but a general flow that reminds us that today is painting day, or that after lunch is quiet time.
Beyond that, too, instilling an overarching sense of the natural rhythm of nature - now is the time when we will start planting seed, watching spring start to emerge. It's a time for cleaning out, tidying, freshening up the physical as well as the emotional and energetic.
I want there to be a peace in our house - my mother calls it shalom bayit - that fills us all with a sense of wellbeing. I want that peace to be laid into the foundation of our lives so that when they enter their teens and question everything, as I know they will, deep down we will have this sense of rhythm and peace to guide them, a place to return to when they feel unbalanced or confused. Don't we all need that, sometimes?

Friday, April 12, 2013

Creativity and Creative Constipation

When I'm really stressed, or when I have a lot of things to do, I begin to cut the creation out of my life little by little. It begins with letting my knitting slide, or I start knitting something monotonous, something that requires nothing but rote knitting with no purls and no shaping. During this last period of stress, I had been writing a blog, but even that small bit of writing became too much for me. Finally I can feel all of the products of my creative endeavors swirling through my mind, taunting me with their cathartic properties.
Once I finally get over the stressful situation, all the creative things I could have been doing up until that moment come flooding back to me, and I feel compelled to let it out. Writing, sewing, knitting, creating homeschooling curriculum, painting, and baking all pour out of me, sometimes at the expense of my patience. I suppose you could call it creative diarrhea.
Often I have found myself so focused on a project, particularly when the project is for my children, or if the children are somehow involved in the project, that I cannot be bothered to attend to my basic needs (eating, toilet) or the needs of my children. I've learned that I need to have realistic expectations around these creative endeavors. I cannot expect my children to be as excited about these projects as I am, neither can I expect them to follow explicit instructions and create a perfect craft that looks just like the example that I found a picture of online.
I have to give up that control and let them have their own creative moments, for them and for myself. I will only drive myself crazy trying to compare my children's creations to the perfectly centered intensely mother-supervised example photos. Beyond that, the things I make with my children are special precisely because they aren't perfect - they are a perfect representation of my kids' interpretation. In my own projects, I derive a great deal of pleasure from altering patterns to suit my needs - why should I limit my children?
Part of this parenting journey has ben learning to let go of my own preconceptions and expectations. I have to live in the moment with these small people, to see what inspires them - the foundations of unschooling.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Bare Feet

As a child, I always had to wear shoes and socks. Some of this had to do with the fact that I had extremely flat, narrow feet. When I finally grew out of the orthotics and special order shoes I was a teenager. The summer of my 15th year I was allowed a measure of independence with my friends, and so I discovered, pretty much for the first time in my life, the joy of walking barefoot through grass and dirt. It felt like waking up.
I spent that summer tromping around my best friend's yard with dirt blackened feet. I took time, but slowly I developed a resistance to the cool ground and the sharp points of grass and pine needles, hard callouses around my heels and the balls of my feet - I had never had callouses before!
My mother never really understood my fascination with being barefoot outside. We talked about it for the first time in a long while recently, and I tried to explain to her how grounding and tactile it was for me. The sensation of having the earth under my feet, the pulse of the planet flowing up through my toes - it's therapeutic.
Much of my life I have struggled with the sensation that I am not really in my body, or that I am watching things happen to me from a perch on my right shoulder. Part of this journey is creating strategies to keep me grounded inside my own body, and in my own life. It means that when I meditate I purposefully don't pop out of my third eye, or that I put thought into staying in my body even when the emotional or physical sensation is uncomfortable.
So now every day I make an effort to really inhabit my body. I feel the soft skin of my daughter as she curls in my lap, the thick hair on my son's head as it tickles my nose. I feel my husband's five o'clock shadow when he kisses me, and yes, my bare feet on the cool earth.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Adoption Thoughts; Authentic Living

When I was much younger, I came up with a theory. I hypothesized that we all had one key word that summed up the life lesson we had signed up to learn in the current life. I decided, at 20, that my key word was family. I even have a tattoo that symbolizes this key word.
Each of the past few years I've gone through personal crises between my birthday and the anniversary of my adoption. It's taken this most recent life changing event for me to realize the pattern that has emerged in that time frame. I know a little about the details surrounding my being given up for adoption at just over a year old. I know that there were abuse allegations, and I know that the people who knew my birth mother have told my parents that I spent a great deal of time alone in a playpen.
That knowledge has rooted into the soil of my mind, growing there until the blossom of realization appeared recently. That time was earth shattering to me as a child. I was barely a toddler, and I was abandoned my a scared, confused parent. Then I was expected to integrate into a family of strangers less than three months later. Sometimes I just want to scoop up that small big-eyed baby and hug her, let her know that it's going to be okay, that it turns out all right.
How can a person recover from that, really? As good as my life has been because I was placed for adoption with my beautiful, loving family, I have struggled with being able to accept that they love me - really, unconditionally love me. It's as if that tiny blonde child is tugging at my skirt, reminding me - you've been abandoned before, it can happen again. So I've lived my life with the heart of an abandoned child, always fearful that something I said or did would cause everyone, even my most cherished friends and loved ones, to turn away from me.
Everything I've done up until this point has been an exploration of that love. If I move to Florida, will they still love me? If I don't get a degree? If I get this piercing, or that tattoo? Rather than living authentically, being who I am, I have lived with an eye to what others would think of every word, every thought, every action. Today I will live authentically. From this moment onward. If someone doesn't love me because of the color of my hair, or the way I live, they didn't really love me to begin with. I accept the unconditional love that is offered to me with gratitude, and I hope that my tiny sweet toddler self can feel that she is loved unconditionally too, and always has been.

Monday, April 8, 2013


Black and white have always been friends of mine. Even now I struggle with finding happiness in the shades of in between that are moderation and self preservation. I revel in broad, sweeping finalities - I will not cut my hair AT ALL until 6.21.13; I will never go to the dentist again, I will live in a yurt with no power, no running water, and a herd of sheep. These statements are finite limitations that set boundaries around myself, shielding me from my own power. Using softer statements require me to make decisions constantly, even if they are small, seemingly insignificant.
Each of these shaded statements, sketched in with the flat of the pencil instead of pressed in with the fine point, reinforced my personal power, creates options, opens up spaces. I'll cut my hair if I decide I'm unhappy with it; I'll find a dentist that I really connect with, even if it's a mainstream dentist who wants to slather me in fluoride; I'll live in some sort of eco-housing, probably with power and running water, but with a simplicity that I don't currently find in my living arrangements.
Those statements are frightening, in a way. They require so much thought, so much evolution of ideology. Most days I would rather do a complete paradigm shift (I will never drink soda again), then breaking apart the crystalline structure that I've built, parsing it out, examining each structure and support (Soda isn't good for me, but sometimes caffeine has therapeutic value, and it tastes good, as long as I drink it in moderation). That's part of positive change, though. I've spent my life embracing radical, all encompassing change (buzzing my head and dying my hair blue, getting three piercings on my 18th birthday, running away from home at 16). 
It's time now to make one more radical change - shattering my previous patterns and embracing temperance and moderation in my life. Each day is a new day to change one tiny thing, improve myself and my world. I'm ready to take what I need and leave the rest, rather than taking it all, or taking nothing.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Who is Cadence?

Cadence is self aware and confident. She is not beautiful, but she is lovely. She takes each breath, each moment for it's own and cherishes it. She finds joy in others, also in herself. She holds her tongue when she has nothing kind or meaningful to say, and speaks up when her voice needs to be heard. She roots for the underdog, she smiles at strangers and means it.
Cadence is a work in progress - improving, learning, growing each day into a higher self. She conforms only to her own personal sense of passion and compassion, of style and order.
Cadence is not so far away. Sometime soon she will slip into being, growing in the fertile soil of my body and mind, pulling out all the strength, leaving the weakness,  until she blossoms into existence, cracking me open like a terra cotta pot. Then she will shed all those bad habits, all the anxiety, the body consciousness, the doubt, leaving them to be reabsorbed into the earth, rendered harmless.
Someday soon, Cadence will be me.