A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.
It was Field Day week for us last week. Lots of running and playing and fun was had by all. These photos seemed appropriate for today. Thanks Eric for taking so many fantastic photos of Willow’s Field Day while I was busy trying to keep all the kindergarteners running in the right directions!
I don’t know exactly when or why it happened, but something has shifted inside of me. I have been making personal changes right and left in recent days. It’s a little crazy really, but I am feeling amazing, so naturally, I had to come here and share them with you!
I spontaneously decided I needed to become a morning person and say good-bye to my night owl ways. I naturally tend to stay up until 1 or 2am then find myself forever dragging the next day. While in the thick of my struggle with Lyme Disease I tried to let myself sleep whenever I was tired, and developed the oh, so unproductive habit of a completely unregulated sleep pattern. One day last week I woke (late) and wondered, while I was rushing around trying to get the kids off to school on time, why the heck I was doing what I was doing. Frankly, I got fed up of missing out on life with my kids – I don’t want them to remember me as the mom who slept all the time. My Lyme is manageable at this moment in time so I have no excuse. I found myself setting my alarm for 5:30. AM. I was shocked when I found myself shutting it off and sitting up to start the day instead of rolling over and going back to sleep. It just felt like the right thing to do.
The first few days I could not, for the life of me, fall asleep early enough to get a full night of rest before that ugly alarm went off again, but I knew that eventually my body would stop compensating and start sleeping when it should. I just had to keep pulling myself out of bed at the same time every morning and keep the napping to a single twenty minute power nap when I need a quick recharge. It’s working! I fell asleep last night by 10pm without a problem and greeted the day easily when that alarm sounded. Yay!
I didn’t announce my intentions to my family before I started this new routine because I didn’t want them to be disappointed in me if I couldn’t do it. Let’s just say they have all been pleasantly surprised to find Mama up before the sun happily packing their lunches and stirring their oatmeal when they find their way to the kitchen first thing in the morning. I love that the tone of our day is set with calm and laughter instead of the rushing and yelling that used to populate our mornings. I’m also treasuring the extra time my early rising allows with my big kids before they head off into their days. Kissing my hubby good-bye isn’t so bad either!
I tend to bite life off in big chunks, so it should come as no surprise that I also decided to establish a few other new habits while I was at it. I now stop eating after 7pm so my digestive track can have a decent rest each night. I like to snack late into the evening but inevitably end up with reflux and discomfort all night and still feel full in the morning. It’s such an unhealthy cycle to get caught in, especially with a sensitive system like mine. The change I have felt has been remarkable! I wake up feeling hungry and ready for my day instead of full and sluggish and yucky. Such a simple thing – a nightly fast – has completely eliminated some of the lingering digestive issues I have struggled with for years.
I’m also finding time, with all of these extra hours my day, to start working on getting my fitness groove back. Once upon a time I ran, I rock climbed, I did yoga. There was hardly a day that went by that I didn’t do something active. Again, it was easy to rationalize some bad habits over the years – I had kids, a whole bunch of kids – and a serious health issue. Now, all of my kids are old enough to keep themselves occupied for an hour and while my health isn’t perfect, I am definitely well enough to do some regular exercise. I know in the long run I will feel better both physically and mentally if I work to stay strong and vital. So far I have been doing whatever sounds like fun each day – some yoga, some pilates. Today I even popped in my husband’s Insanity workout (on the computer – remember, no TV) and worked up a serious sweat.
As if that wasn’t enough change, I’m also trying to finally, finally, release the hold that sugar has on me. My intake of sugar has a huge impact on the inflammation I feel from my Lyme Disease. It’s a simple equation, the more sugar I eat the more pain I feel. So, “Bye-bye sugar!” I am even trying to limit the amount of sugar I am eating from fruit. Dates taste like candy bars now, so it’s easy to satisfy my sweet tooth without going overboard. The lingering pain I have in my facial nerve is lessening and I’m hoping this sugar detox continues to increase my feeling of health and wellness. I refuse to let Lyme limit me anymore.
I am feeling more and more like myself again after this most recent relapse of Lyme. That shift I have experienced feels very profound and still a bit hard to articulate, but at the same time it feels very certain. It feels like I have been able to grab the reigns back from the nebulous uncertainty that has been driving my life. I feel like, for the first time in a very long time, I am leading the way and directing the flow of my precious life energy. Lyme be damned.
With our family determined to move against the strong tide of mediocrity, I need to be prepared both mentally and physically for the journey. I need to be able to lead the way with strength and consistency. I know that I tend to be let things ebb and flow in my life, so I am determined this time to make these changes part of our new simple lifestyle.
Sleep well, eat well, care for my body – that’s my new personal rally cry.
I want to set an admirable example for my children by maintaining my value as an individual within this family unit of ours. I need to value not only my creative spirit, but the body that acts as its home. This is not a brand new idea to me, rather a renewed intention and a call to action. I deserve to feel well and so do you!
Who’s up to joining me with this rally cry? I would love to hear how you make yourself – your body and your wellness – a priority within your busy family/life. Let’s share and support each other!
Before we even wiped the sleep from our eyes this morning the sun called to us. It rose feeling hot, but still gentle, in the uniquely special way it does time of year. This time of not quite summer, but most decidedly not spring. This between the seasons time. I sliced up a luscious watermelon, juicy and red and ripe, chilled almost ice cold, and lured my family outside to our back deck without a spoken invitation. The the energy of the morning light and the taste of the sweet fruit was invitation enough. As our bodies began to wake, we eased into our day with laughter and slurping and silliness. Such simple pleasures – family and fruit and sunshine.
I hope that you, too, are able to soak in a bit of sun and sweetness during this long holiday weekend.
Much love from us to you!
I love seeing the world through a child’s eyes. Their perspective is so different from mine. They notice beauty in the most unlikely of places and see things I would never even notice. Every once in a while, I’ll place my camera in the small hands of one of my children so that they can capture images of the world as they see it. I want them to experience the altered perspective that happens when you are looking through a camera lens. I have found it to be comforting to focus my attention through that little viewfinder – using my artistic eye, my creative brain. Well, all of that, and when you are at a playdate in the park, thoroughly engaged in an exciting and meaningful conversation with someone brand new who doesn’t think you are bonkers for talking about homeschooling or self-identity or art spaces, handing them the camera just keeps them occupied for a while.
The pictures above were actually snapped by one of Jarl’s best friends (age ten) on a recent sunny Sunday afternoon. I was surprised to find pictures of Jarl on the camera at all when I went through the images from that day. He is turning into quite a little shutter bug – I hadn’t expected him to relinquish the camera. Instead of finding a collection of silly pictures of his friend, I found these telling pictures of him. I found it so interesting to get a glimpse of how his friend sees him.
Jarl does things, like handing over the camera to his friend, that surprise me all the time. He’s just such an old soul kind of kid – older than me in a lot of ways, I think. He has an awful lot figured out already. I’m still working on so much.
Jarl and I sat down this evening to catch-up. We do that sometimes, a check-in. I feel like these conversations are of special importance now, as our family identity is shifting and so many changes are happening in our lives. Jarl acts as my canary in our proverbial coal mine, sensing first when something is off in our tight little tribe. I trust his judgement, I always have. Tonight we curled up on my bed, I asked him a few questions and he answered in his old soul, little boy kind of way. The following is what transpired. Oh my, do I have a lot to process.
(Jarl’s words are used with permission, of course.)
How would you describe yourself?
Hmmm. I don’t know. I’m pretty smart and sometimes I talk too much. If there is something I want to get done I can usually do it pretty easily. I am responsible. Sometimes I’m not, like when I’m goofing off with my friends, but that’s not very much.
What are some of your favorite things?
I like reading a good book. I can read for hours to finish it, just stopping for snacks. I really like manga, otherwise known as graphic novels. I like eating good, tasty food. I like playing with my friends outside and building with my Legos. I like bugging you (silly grin) and snuggling with you too.
What are some things you don’t like?
Homework, except for reading. I don’t like rudeness, like when my sister spoils my jokes. I don’t like wars, they are interesting – the weapons and stuff, but I don’t like the actual wars. I dislike getting injuries.
What changes have you noticed in our family lately?
We changed around the bedrooms. I’m being allowed to get things I wouldn’t have been able to a year ago, like my hatchet. We are going outside more. You have been very absorbed in your blog.
What do you think about my blog?
Sometimes it bugs me because you can’t do much else. Other times I like it because you are so happy and you can talk to other people. It is a good way to share your thoughts and ideas and I like that you are feeling successful.
What do you think about the other changes in our house?
I’m still getting used to your room being my sister’s room. Sometimes I walk the wrong way. My room is a little different now because we reorganized it, but it isn’t too different. I like it. I don’t get to use the computer very much anymore.
You didn’t even mention that we got rid of the TV.
Oh, I’ve just gotten used to it. I don’t even really miss it anymore. Not whatsoever. I guess it was fun to watch, but books are much better. They can be longer than movies and the thing about books is that you need your eyes and your mind and your hands to enjoy them. All you do with TV is sit. With books, you sit too, but kids my age read stuff like Harry Potter and Hatchet, which are great books. Some of the best books aren’t movies, or they are made into terrible movies that ruin the story. The book is always better than the movie.
On a tangent, he continues…
I’m not becoming a man or a teenager, but I am getting bigger so I can have more responsibilities and I am able to be trusted more. The reason I think this is because you are letting me start fires in the fireplace and I’m getting to chop wood with my hatchet. It’s uncommon for kids to have a hatchet.
What are your dreams for your future?
I haven’t really decided on a whole lot. But, I’m thinking I might get into martial arts, that seems like a fun profession. One of the things that I want to happen is to be really rich. I doubt that would really happen, but it would be really nice.
Why do you want to be rich?
My parents and siblings wouldn’t have to work as much. I would definitely share it, even with my sisters, depending on how much money I have. Let’s see… If I was rich, like Bill Gates, I could collect a ton of cool ninja stuff – a whole room full.
What else would you do with all that money?
Buy good food.
What are your dreams for our family?
I hope my dad gets promoted and that he always likes his job. I hope that my sisters find something that they like to do. I imagine us in the future living out in the country, with some pets or livestock. Not for eating, just for things like eggs. I want us to live near each other or together when we are grown-up. Y’know, close.
Is there anything else that you want to tell me or the people that will read this?
Let me think… How about, re-read this interview and think about how you might answer the questions. Are your answers similar to mine? Follow your dreams, that’s a good thing to do. That’s all.
Oh, and one more thing… Ninjas are awesome!
Jarl is very excited to learn what you might say if you were to answer some of these questions for yourself. He would treasure any and all comments!
My son, Jarl, is a Cub Scout. There was much debate in our house about whether or not this was a good idea. We live in a fairly conservative area with a hefty amount of competitiveness, both values we do not want our children to identify with. We also strongly support gay marriage and alternative family structures – in our world it is simply love that makes a family. After hearing some disturbing news coverage regarding their policies on gay leadership and religion, let’s just say we were more than a little uneasy about letting him join. When he came home from school, information in hand, we filed it away hoping he would forget about the whole thing. He didn’t. Not even close. He asked us every day for weeks if we had made a decision about him joining. He really, really wanted to be a Cub Scout.
We finally acquiesced after deciding on three things. First, if he ever encountered people who’s values didn’t jibe with ours, he should tell us right away. Secondly, Eric would volunteer to be the leader so he could set the tone for the den. Lastly, we realized that Jarl is strong enough to speak from his heart should he feel called to do so. I know, we probably over-thought the whole thing, but it’s what we do. As it turns out, Jarl’s den is small, with just three boys total and the meetings happen at our house, in the art space. It’s a silly group of misfits, the boys bond over manga and math and Legos. It’s hilarious to listen to what they talk about. They are all the quiet kids in class, the bookish ones who don’t play sports. It’s perfect that they have found each other.
This past week was a flurry of activity in preparation for their pinewood derby. Most of the boys had never used any sort of tool before, so there were late night cram sessions to finish getting their cars cut, sanded, painted and ready to race. Eric insisted that the boys do the majority of the work themselves so they could take ownership of their accomplishment. They built their cars. All by themselves. In Jarl’s little den it wasn’t about who would be the fastest, or who’s car had the best paint job, it was about making something from beginning to end with their own two hands. They focused not on the outcome, but on the process itself.
Jarl told me on our way to register his car the night before the race that,
I might not win, Mama, but my car is just the way I wanted it to be.
I’m so proud of this boy.
He spent race day cheering for his friends and laughing with his sisters. He would never say so, but I think he was happy that they were there. Three rowdy red-heads make a fantastically loud cheering section. He didn’t win, but he didn’t loose either. He was blissfully unaware of the more serious competitors and even hugged me in public. The whole experience was loud and crazy and pretty darn fun. I savored watching him just be a happy little boy, knowing these precious days are numbered. He’ll be a teenager in the blink of an eye.
From left to right in the front row are, The Phoenix Express, The Silver Sharingan and The Car of Art, all proud creations of Den 10.