Limiting our Limitlessness

Hi.

Let’s talk a little this morning on how we limit ourselves. We all do it. Whether we are limiting our food portions, our snack options, our children from activities, ourselves from being who we are–we limit ourselves.

Here is a song that talks about being limited from the first line:

Now, I agree with speed limits (usually) and age limits (at least I do now, as a teen, I wasn’t too keen on them), and sometimes a good time limit serves a purpose (like when my children need to do their chores or eat a serving of unfavorite veggies off a plate). But, what I want to talk about is how we limit ourselves.

Have you ever said one of these phrases?

  • I can’t do that.
  • I can’t do that (because you are so good at it).
  • I can’t pull that off.
  • I could never _____________.
  • I could never do what you are doing.
  • I didn’t get enough sleep to do that.
  • I can’t deal with that today (or any day).
  • I’m done.

I’m totally guilty of the last one. I say it often…but thankfully not as often as I once did. If you are saying one or more of these phrases, will you stop? Do you know how to stop? Do you want to stop? Can you fill your mind with positive, “I can” statements?

Many of you know that I have half-a-dozen children. I do. They are really cool, and I don’t exactly take credit for them. People sometimes ooooo and ahhhh over my abilities. But they didn’t come into my home all at once. (Two of them came together–and that was one of the most difficult experiences of my life, but that’s another story.) As I had one–or two–at a time, my capacity increased to be able to take care of my children. I was blessed with more insight and patience.

I am undertaking another stretching and creative experience right now. This experience, along with trying to manage my family’s increasingly hectic schedule, has been difficult. But, I have also been blessed to grow and learn with each new undertaking. With the traumas we experienced last fall, my capacities grew again. Right now, I’m working on community outreach with a Writing for Wellness program. With each new endeavor, I learn and grow and become more developed as a human than I was yesterday, or last week, or two months ago.

Certainly, life calls for times of rest and recuperation. Sometimes we are stretched beyond what we are able and we need to ask for help or let some less important tasks go. (Don’t ask me how clean my house is or when the last time I folded laundry was….) But sometimes we need to say YES to stretching ourselves beyond our current abilities. Once we decide to do this, we will have people and opportunities placed in our path where we can work “For Good.”

Will you do it?

It’s the Hard Knock Life

I always thought the song was called, “It’s a Hard Knock Life.” Google it. I promise–it’s “the”–not “a.”

And, now, just so you can sing along with me:

On a more serious note, I have been in the midst of trauma and turmoil for the last couple of months. While I won’t go into details (we all have our sad, dark, difficult moments), I would like to share with you a small bit of wisdom I have learned.

Life is hard.

Sometimes it’s harder than hard. And sometimes it just plain sucks.

Wait–let me backtrack a bit. I was a teenager once. Were you? Did we know each other? Maybe you will remember as I do that I wasn’t the happiest person. My favorite shirt had Eeyore (from Winnie the Pooh) on the front–you know, the character that is associated with lines like, “Tut, tut. Looks like rain”–that was me.


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I loved the rain. (Isn’t it romantic, and sad?) I loved nothing more than to turn on “Pictures of You” by The Cure or “Everybody Hurts” by R.E.M. and watch the rain fall.

Then, I grew up a little, got a little less teen angsty, and decided that life was better in the sunshine. I worked hours on retraining the default settings of my brain to reflect on positive aspects of life. I began to count blessings instead of troubles. And I chose happiness.

(That’s probably the hardest part right now. Happiness evades me daily. I want it back, and I’m trying each moment of each day to choose it–but I get tired of walking down the staircase and reliving my baby’s fall, my legs shaking so much on the ambulance drive with him, thinking of myself in the front seat pleading with the driver to tell me about himself as a distraction from my little guy lying on a backboard while three EMTs tended to him, the sleepless days and nights in ICU that followed, and the fear of coming home and seeing it all happen again.)

Trauma is real. And I pray, but it’s still there. I read and study, but the pain aches in my chest, my head, my heart. I smile, and every once in a while, the smile feels sincere.

And even though we’ve had so many gifts and blessings (and he is healing), I pull my knees to my chest and cry–more often than I did as a fifteen-year-old.

And I am grateful. And I am smiling, softly, not with my lips but with my eyes, thinking of each of you–your friendship, support, and love.

And someday, when I tell myself that “everything will be okay,” the phrase will stop feeling like a lie. And everything will be okay (even though life will still be hard).

At least I’m learning, right?

A Week of Years – prose poem or flash fiction?

Thanks for all the feedback and love from yesterday. Finishing April (National Poetry Month) with one more:

A Week of Years

I don’t care if I have any sweat left inside me. My body feels wet and dry, hot and cold, purple and pale.

I can’t do this.

After being up through the night with contractions, I’m repeating that phrase.

I can’t do this.

I want it to be over, but I don’t even know what “it” is.

A nurse dabs perspiration from my forehead with an already-moist washcloth, and I try again.

Push.

I can’t.

You can, the doctor says. But I don’t believe him. You can. Push.

The white ceiling tiles with little black specks resemble a reverse sky. If I could push though the floors above me, I could see real stars, celestial bodies to comfort my own trembling.

I tighten my core, encapsulating him into a cocoon-hug, but the baby I’m supposed to be delivering isn’t little and isn’t moving. Fatigue is taking over and I want to give in to sleep. To drift away into nothingness—a subconscious world of flying clocks and living in houses that are prettier than my own. But I am back in this room, this bed, feet pulled toward my chest and a baby crowning between my legs.

Push. Push. I don’t remember how to pull strength from somewhere. Bare walls, shined floor, a bright light replacing one ceiling tile all remind me that I’m still here.

Push. Push. Push.

I can’t hear him. He’s not crying. I can see his blue body in the doctor’s arms, and I feel like it’s over.

I want to rewind the last minutes, hours, days, to when he kicked under my ribs, when he pressed his foot against my stomach and I rubbed the heel through layers of skin, uterus, and amniotic fluid. When he was alive and we worked together. When we felt like one.

Then, his cry slices through the room, a sound sweeter than anything I’ve ever tasted.

Questions My Children Ask – a prose poem

Since April is National Poetry Month, I couldn’t let the month pass without sharing one of my new creations and loves–a prose poem. Here is one I wrote this spring:

Questions My Children Ask

When can I have an allowance? Will you unlock the computer so I can play? How come you get to be on your phone whenever you want but I have a timer on the iPad? Do you listen to me when I talk to you? What did I just say?

Can we get clothes from a real store and not a thrift shop? How do these jeans look? Are my thighs too big? Should I wear my cream Uggs or my black Converse? Or could you get me some Dr. Martens? Can I cut my hair? Highlight it? Dye it purple?

Why do you make this gross food for dinner? Don’t you know we hate lasagna? Asparagus, again? What is this green stuff? Peas or peppers? Why is it good for me to eat food I don’t like? I’m going to go play with Cain, okay?

Can we have a dance party? A game night? A movie night with popcorn? Will you make French fries again? Sweet chicky nuggets? Cheese pizza?

Will you read Corduroy to me? Skippyjon Jones? Tuck me in? Kiss me goodnight? Can we cuddle? Will you stay with me? What does “especially” mean?

Why do I feel like this —blech one moment, ecstatic the next? Am I just hormonal? Did you feel like this when you were my age?

Is this normal? Am I normal? What does sex feel like?

Why did you marry Dad? Do you still love him, even when you fight?

They cut her whole breast off? What does she look like now? Will she lose her hair? Will she die?

Will you die? Will I?

How do you know everything will be okay?

The Glory of Music

Over break, I needed to connect. I needed to connect with my children, with my husband, with family, with friends, and with my past. I introduced my children to the charming, music-filled drama, Beaches, which was my go-to movie when I needed a good cry at age thirteen (and it still works even though I’m now in my thirties).

I found myself singing along throughout the auditions, the rehearsals, the shows, and I was reminded how much I adore the soundtrack.

About a week later, kiddos had gone back to school, and no one had said much about the film or soundtrack until my little guy walked into our living room belting out, “That’s the glory of love!”

I did a double-take (especially since he fell asleep during the movie and didn’t even hear Bette Midler’s reprise of the song before the credits ran. I asked my older daughter if she had been singing it, but she hadn’t been. It was simply the power of music.

While looking for photos for another blog post, I happened on this article from Scientific American regarding music and training and the brain, which is a long-time interest of mine. Though I received limited piano, violin, bass, and vocal training, I am grateful for the brain connections I have because of music and for the love of music my parents, friends, and family share with me. There is glory in music and in love.

Love Changes Everything

This morning, when the house was quiet and I was doing some research online, my husband switched on the white-noised vacuum. It interrupted my thoughts. As he approached our computer area, he asked me to move. I pulled my chair away, and the vacuum sucked up the dirt, dust, and crumbs under the computer desk. In an instant, he kissed my forehead as I scooted my chair back into its home…and I beamed. (I think I am still smiling.)

A young boy, a little hesitant, entered a classroom with walls plastered in bright colors. He didn’t know what he would find inside the doors. A teacher greeted him with outstretched arms and a welcoming smile, an opposite experience from his past year. Happiness followed.

A little girl looked up at her mother with uneasy eyes. She knew she had made another mistake to add to her already-too-long-to-enumerate list of mistakes. Instead of a forming a frown, her mother swept the girl into her long arms, encompassing a little body filled with worry and a little heart filled with sorrow. Her mother whispered into her ear, “I love everything about you.” The little girl’s furrowed brow released its hold as if her brain and heart were releasing fear, worry, and regret. Vector-Valentine-Heart-of-Hearts-10-by-DragonArt

photo credit

Love changes everything.

Ode to the Washing Machine

I’m sad to let you go…

We’ve seen hours of work together, you and I
I count you among my closest friends

You came into my life when I was expecting my first child
Since then, we’ve worked together, preparing and cleaning clothing for
Many who followed.

You’ve seen me through infant twins
(and all their laundry).

You’ve been strong through it all
Stalwart, faithful

(Except for the time you broke, and then broke again)
YouTube was our lifesaver, yours and
Mine

I couldn’t count the loads we’ve carried
Together.

Now, as we part ways, I feel sadness
Mixing with gratitude

Your replacement is new and shiny, with fancy
Lights and buttons, innovative settings and a computer chip

But I will miss you.

Thank you.