I'm on vacation with my girlies while Oliver is at a Local Government leadership summit (his name was on it's own banner downtown--"surreal" he said--still getting used to this wonderful work he's doing, I think).
Right now it's raining, and it's supposed to rain for the next three days, so instead of the great hike on the dunes, the island galavanting, the beaching, and all around big time play, we're sitting in our room surrounded by the craft supplies we acquired on an early morning Jo-ann's run.
Yesterday, as we were road-tripping here, I was a grumpy mess. "Pms" I kept saying while Oliver shot concerned glances at me and I tried to stuff all the anxiety I was feeling back down to where it came from.
What I didn't realize until just now, though, was where the anxiety was coming from. See, when I was young, my parents took us on amazing, and amazingly scheduled vacations. Just the thought of them make me quake with the inferiority I feel when compared to the "vacations" I take with my family.
My girls are beyond happy to be watching cartoons and coloring in giant coloring books on the floor on a rainy day. My parents, come hell or high water, would have braved the day and taken us to museum after museum, theme park after theme park, National forest after...you get the picture. We would have posed in front of every statue and,
There it is,
pounding heart, smothering guilt.
Why am I not better at this? Why would I rather go to a yarn store and buy (a-n-o-t-h-e-r) H crochet hook and (more) yarn than see the sights!?
I should have them at the children's museum, even if it did look like a shack...and I should take them to the opera house, even if Jules would make a scene.
I should have stayed at the lakeside playground longer this morning, and why didn't I just go to the Pirate Cove, even in the downpour, like the other families that looked miserable standing next to the closed down rides with their mini-golf clubs.
WHY didn't I plan better and then stick to those plans...hell or high water?
Get the picture?
Truth is, I appreciate all I saw and learned because of my parents. It is one of my deepest gratitudes.
Truth is, my children have plenty of time to see sights, to learn, to explore.
Truth is, they won't remember this trip anyway. I barely recollect Disney World at 6.
Truth is, this is about so much more than feeling like an inadequate trip planner.
It's about all those feelings of just not being good enough; at parenting, at planning, at follow through.
It's about feeling like less than enough.
It's about that feeling of not accomplishing enough.
I'm pretty sure we all feel these things sometimes, especially we perfectionists in the midst, and I'm no stranger to them.
This time, instead of analysis, I will trust my body and my heart to gently remove anxiety's grip on my wrists.
I'll let fun and creativity and snuggles do the work of processing.
This time, instead of pushing to be better, I'll trust that I am already okay, that this too shall pass, and that what feels perfect to us right now is exactly what we need.
Hoping your day is filled with what feels perfect to you and nothing else.
I feel like I want to write something beautiful today; to dredge up golden, sunlit memories. I think they will surface soon. I've been spending so much time with the ugliest memories that were stored away in my brain. Writing them, reliving them.
The time for that remembering is passing quickly. So much processing has come out of the compiling of my memories, and I am grateful for it. The most valuable lesson I've learned through it, though, has been in the art of self-care.
Nurturing myself through these past months has been the best gift I've ever given myself, and I intend to continue it. This coming new moon feels significant. Like a clean slate for the mid-year. Like a shift from the deep dark inner work I've been doing toward something that feels better.
This last moon has felt like a great rest, somehow. I wasn't moved to be terribly productive, and yet I got a lot done. Mindful activity is coming back now, and a persistent realization of the necessity of making plans and digging in to the physical manifestation of things long held in my head is walking into my life with the assurance of a wild woman.
This moon I am setting the intentions of fiercely mindful and intuitive living, and of living toward my purpose without wavering. No different in words than my intentions last month, but much different in nature.
Tomorrow is my baby girl's third birthday. Three years. She's changing a lot, and the next few years will bring about so much change that at the end of them we'll leave behind the "little years" altogether. Even with that, I no longer have a baby to care for and in less than two months I'll have a space of time each week all to myself at home to work toward my dreams and my calling.
It's funny how our children's birthdays can bring up so much. Sometimes I think we forget how important our children's birthdays are to our own life's story. Of course we acknowledge that we were blessed with a wonderful gift, but we don't always acknowledge our own process in birthing that child, the marking of the time span of our motherhood that it lends us, and all that we have grown through because we have taken on the role of the nurturing mother.
To me each birthday that my little Jules celebrates is a marking of both her independence and mine expanding little by little until she's ready to cut the tether. Her birthday is a celebration of the beautiful gifts she brings to the world and to our family, and also of having one more year under my belt. One more year of experience, of memories, of growth. One year closer to the completion of these demanding years of mothering.
Stitching together each moment of stillness I can gather today. Watching, feeling, the moon wane. Marveling at little Jules and at the wonder of it all.
Wondering.... What's it all for?
Deciding.... It doesn't really matter.
The living is what matters.
It was my first semester of college. I'd moved into a sweet little apartment with two dear, childhood friends. We were playing house and spreading our wings...my feet were still swinging from a cloud somewhere and it was just as it should have been.
Kendra was crocheting a blanket for her mom, I think, and suddenly, the lessons I'd received from my Aunt when I was 8, and all the attempts I'd made to make things with a hook and some yarn over the years came together. With a little coaching from Kendra, I was off. It's been a love affair ever since.
It started with afghans...I wish I had pictures! I've lost count of how many afghans I've made in the past 8 years, but it's in the thirties somewhere. I made hats for my nieces and nephews, then sweaters and booties and blankets for my first little babe. I caught the amigurumi wave, sold on etsy, made sweet little booties for a baby we were never to meet that hang with the photos of our girls beside my mirror, and made nearly everything we used for our littlest baby. By then, I was also knitting, but when I picked up a crochet hook I could cruise through a project without ever glimpsing at a pattern.
With hook and yarn in hand, over a 5 year period, I explored creativity in a way I'd been, literally, terrified of before. My creative nature was a source of fear for one particular person from my childhood, who told me that it could be dangerous, and that I should capitalize on my intelligence instead. I should do something practical.
I tried. I really, really tried. It was abysmal. Truly. All the way around.
By the time I was 21, I was so lost I didn't know what to do with myself. With a baby on the way and little money, I picked up the hook and knocked on the locked door of my creativity without even knowing it, out of sheer necessity.
As I began to realize how not dangerous my creativity was, I started tiptoeing around my other fears, poking them with my hook, testing them, wondering why I'd been taught to be so afraid. Wrapped in the warmth of the blanket I'd just finished off, I'd crack a book I'd never have dreamed of reading before. I'd paint, and explore. It was the beginning of my religious and spiritual transformation which took me from a path of fear, to a path of creativity, boldness, true faith and humility, and grounded awareness.
I can see why people are afraid of creativity, intrigue, curiosity. I can see why were taught not to ask certain questions, befriend certain people, or explore different ideas. Once I did, it was like a house of cards fell down all around me. The only thing I lost, though, was a fear based tradition. I gained all the real stuff I'd been hoping for all along.
It makes me wonder, what are the things I continue to fear? How can I approach them in a way that might lead to more freedom and deeper understanding?
As I've sat with that question for the past several weeks, I've come to the conclusion that there is still a lot to wade through, but my approach has changed. It's less abrasive, more curious, and I am more invested in being gentle with myself. I have better tools to address the remaining issues with than the steel wool I was using to scrub my Self with, and I have a new point of view from which I can view and then dismiss those issues that need a fond, but firm farewell. It still gets painful, but in a different, more productive than destructive way.
And what fuels this walk? Humility....faith. I am being made keenly aware of my humanity. It feels so good, embracing the fact that I am a human-being and releasing the rest...
It's like being at home with myself. In my hooked and needled nest.
Anna Turner is the woman behind Little Hearth. She's an ordained interfaith minister, a writer, a believer in purposeful living and healing, a perpetual student, and a full time feminist mother.