Thursday, July 29, 2010

Coming back

These past few months have really been tough.  They have been filled with self-doubt, and even peppered with self-loathing.

I've hated it.

But a desire to feel better and to be better has spurred me on.  It's amazing that at a time when I am trying to finally step into myself, into who I am meant to be, I have hit my lowest.  And it's been awful, but I have at least tried to refuse to stay there.

Nights have been filled with tearful conversations, over and over, with Matt.  (Without whom, I would have to say, I would be nothing.)  Days have been filled, again and again, with a prayerful attempt to go just one more step with a smile on my face.

And somehow, I can feel something changing inside me.

I am beginning to see a light ahead.

Today, during morning yoga time, my camera-happy daughter was having fun taking pictures of everything.  :)  She snapped a picture of me and when I saw it (excusing the lack of makeup that exists on my face 99% of the time...), I felt something deeper.

It was a look at myself from the outside, rather than the inner doubt and turmoil that I've been fighting through. 

Pushing upward as strong as I can, and reaching for more...for light.

Determined.

Somehow, when I see this picture, "au naturale" as it may be, I feel hope.  Like somehow, the woman in this picture will succeed, somehow, if she keeps reaching.

Have faith.  Have faith in yourself, and in God.  As hard as it has been, the past few months have been such a testament to His constancy.  Each time I have hit a low point, someone...one of you, has been there.  Somehow you knew to be there.  I love you for it.  Each of you have played some role.


"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."
-Marianne Williamson

We are all meant to shine...who are you not to?  Have faith in yourself.


(And yes, sometimes we do yoga in a dress. Because that's the way we roll.) :)

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Outside yourself

I used to lie in bed at night as a little girl, crying about the injustices of the world.  I used to range between terrible sorrow and burning anger.  I felt helpless and powerless, and that used to make me very unhappy.

Those feelings stayed with me, particularly in the nights.  I hated that I felt so sad about so many things and couldn't do anything about them. 

But something changed a couple of years ago.  I finally realized that the world is what we make of it, and that there is always something we can do.

We've all heard the Africa stories.  They're shocking and surreal, and most of us don't really believe them, because believing them would hurt too much.  It's easier to dismiss them as exaggerations or as cultural issues.

But something in me has changed, and I found I couldn't dismiss it any more.  I realized that I couldn't change what had already happened, but maybe I could be a healing influence to someone who was hurting.

I am really shy by nature.  I don't like to stand out, and I don't enjoy a great deal of attention.  I was always embarrassed in gym class.  I hated to run or do anything physical in front of other people.

But when I learned there was a Run for Congo Women in Colorado last fall, I decided to sign up.  I worked as hard as I could.  Every morning I woke up early and went out running in the thin mountain air, gasping and in pain, and embarrassed by all of the cars driving by.  I thought I looked like an idiot.  But I did it for them.

When I showed up for the run, I was sick to my stomach with nervousness.  I had worked so hard to learn how to run for the first time in my life.  But I was so out of my comfort zone.  I mean, I was in Colorado, of all places.  The healthiest, most running-est state in the country.  How embarrassing! 

Or so I thought.


Instead of being surrounded by people who I had imagined would judge me and think I ran funny, I was surrounded by other people who also loved the Congolese women.  I was surrounded by people who cared.  Some were amazing runners.  Others were worse than me (if that was possible).  But it didn't matter.  What mattered was the fact that we all cared.  We all hurt for the suffering women and children of the Congo.  And we ran together to help them.


The love was amazing.  And summoning up the courage to finally just run in front of other people for the first time since sixth grade?



Life changing. 

I will never be the same.

Here's something I wrote that day:
It isn't easy to put yourself out there, to do something that is really hard for you. It isn't easy to keep going, when everything around seems to push you down. It isn't easy to keep climbing the rocky hills, but you have to if you ever want to get to the downward slopes. Helping other people is never going to be easy to do. But it is worth every single struggling step, because then you are becoming your best self, because you are living outside of yourself.
This year, I am planning Yoga for Congo Women.  And if you think this is in my comfort zone....  It's not.   It's been exhausting, and I have struggled through a humiliating lack of self-confidence and more self-doubt in the past few months than I have experienced in my entire life.

So why do it?  Because I love them.   Because I hurt for them.  Because they should never have to go through what they are going through, and yet they still are.  Because I want them to know that they are not alone, and they they are loved and worth something.  Because what is happening to them is real, and they are real people.  Because I believe in hope.

A lot of people I have talked to about coming to Yoga for Congo Women have expressed fear, anxiousness, or nervousness.  It's not in their comfort zone, and they feel embarrassed, so they're apprehensive about registering.  I just want to say that I do understand.  I felt that way about running.  I feel that way about leading the YFCW event. 

But I also promise you that you will never be the same.  Putting yourself out there for someone else is life changing.  You won't walk out of there the same person.

So please, if you're in Colorado, and you've been nervous to come, just come.  I understand how you feel.  I won't be including any advanced poses or tricky stuff.  Just come.  Come change a life.  Come save someone you love.  Come step outside of yourself for one morning.  Come be with other people who care.  You'll be brave, and you'll never be the same again.

And I am thrilled to announce, that if you aren't in Colorado, you can participate online now, and for only $10!  So anyone can participate in this event!  So get registered, get some friends together, and change your life by saving another.  I will be so proud of you, because I understand.

(I'm really excited to announce, also, that The Sleepy Time Gal interviewed me on her blog on Friday.  She has been amazing in her inspiration, and has really taken up the battle cry for the women of the Congo.  She is organizing some exciting giveaways for those who register for the event, so be watching her blog.  I love her!)

Thanks for reading.  I love you.  Please think about joining me?  I promise, you will never be the same.  :)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

At the end of the day

A few days ago, an acquaintance of mine had "found out" I was homeschooling, and in her shock, she said, "Well that's crazy.  It's just CRAZY."  I smiled it off as I always do, knowing as I do that yes, it's crazy, wonderfully, wonderfully crazy to love every minute of being with my children all day.  Visions of the grand things I dream of teaching them and doing for their lives flashed through my mind.  I smiled a polite, yet self-confident smile.

Today, though, her words sting my ears.  You see, today IS crazy.  No matter what I clean, the kids are one step behind me (no wait, they're flanking me on every side!!) turning everything into an absolute disaster.  One of them woke up literally screaming because she doesn't feel well.  Her cries from the bathroom have pierced every moment of the day.  Cereal was everywhere.  A potty-training 2-year old wets everywhere just because she can today.  The dishes are mounting and the laundry is multiplying like rabbits.  And in between reading lessons and spelling time, constant (and I do mean constant) cries from the bathroom remind me to keep running back to my other child, trying to be patient and reassuring.  In the meantime, I am trying to plan a large charity event in the fall that is taking an enormous amount of my time and thought (which I love), and trying to start a new venture in our lives at the same time (I'll tell you more about that at another time).  But the new venture is incredibly time consuming, energy-draining, and demanding.  I start piano lessons with the girls, and as I lead a lesson with doughy fingers (you see, I'm kneading pizza dough as we proceed), I mentally calculate all that is left to do as I finish preparing a dinner for 35 people by 5 pm.  I think of the girls later sitting in a car for two hours with their daddy while I leave them to go to try to comfort and help women who are hurting.  Meanwhile, I am trying to convince another child to make a decision that she has to make.  Oh, how I would love to force her.  But I can't.  The wait time is agonizing on all of us, and is affecting us all negatively today.

I stop for one second and looked at the chaos around me.  I had since stuck "sick" child in the bath and she keeps getting out and running naked and wet around the house.  Helpful sisters dumped practically the entire toy box into the bath.  Other children had transformed the school room into a type of camping ground with sheets and upended desks.  I pass a mirror and see my wild hair and greasy face and wonder when the last time I had a shower was.  And the baby wakes up...

I could go on.  But really, I think you get the picture.  Are you crying yet?  I am.  :)

As I paused, I wondered what in the world I am doing.  What in the world I am teaching them.  What they will have learned by the end of the day.  I silently said what must have been the 50th prayer of the day.


And then, suddenly, a breakthrough.  The child I was waiting on made a good choice.  All by herself.  Without me forcing her.  And we celebrated.  We danced and laughed in our messy house and cheered for a sister who did a good thing.  We even broke out the otter pops. 

As I ponder the rest of the day ahead of us, and the craziness it will probably (who I am kidding? I mean definitely) hold, and as the two-year-old drips colored sticky juice all over the floor, I think again about what they will have learned by the end of the day.

At the end of the day, I hope they learned to be strong women who make their own choices.  I hope they learned that I do care, so much, about how they feel.  I hope they learned to share what they have, no matter how little it is.  I hope they learned to celebrate the little moments.  I hope they learned to pray.  I hope they learned that prayers are answered.  I hope they learned to put their arms around someone who is hurting.  I hope they learned to care about others and be compassionate.  I hope they learned to try to help each other, and to use their imaginations.  I hope they learned that life can be messy, and it's okay.  I hope they learned to live

I am crazy?  Yep.  But I wouldn't have it any other way.  :)

Monday, July 19, 2010

Motherhood

Many of you may not share my exact beliefs, but I do believe that Mothers are divine, and that they have help.  They are doing the best work there is.  :)  So here's for you moms today. :)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Four Months

I think the thing that amazes me most, ever since I became a mother, is how much faster time seems to go.

Equally amazing is how my entire heart can be stolen, again and again. :)

Can she really be four months old already?




I am so blessed.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Future

Sometimes I look at my babies and wonder what the future will hold for them.  That can be a scary enough thought for any mom.

There is plenty of fear and negativity to go around, and I feel sick at times thinking about it.  As they get older, they have to stare it in the face more and more.  I hate that.  But I know it's something we all have to face, every day.  I wish it didn't have to be so, for their sakes.

One of my daughters had a difficult experience this week.  She's barely seven.  And yet there are already so many negative things to battle.  It is amazing how a mother can tell you every day of your life that you are beautiful and lovely, and all it takes is one peer to bring doubt to your mind. 

So on Saturday, we found a skirt of mine that she's always loved and wanted to wear, and we worked together to make her a new dress out of it.  The experience was special and unique, as is the new dress.  She felt lovely and wonderful again, and so did I.  :)



(And hey, I even remembered that I can sew.)

I think that's why we're all here in families, and not alone.  Families ground us to truth and goodness, if we work to make them that way.  Families make the future one of hope and brightness.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Answers

I've been praying a lot.  I always want to be better and to do more with myself and my life.  It seems that lately, though, the more I pray to be better, the harder and harder things become.  This week, everything has just mounted, almost to a point where I have felt completely sad and overwhelmed.  (Almost.)

But this morning, interestingly, as I was once again praying, for the same good things to do and be, a light came on in my mind.  Could it be that the majority of the challenges I have been facing have been a direct answer to the prayers I have expressed?

Some might argue that an increase of challenges in the face of fervent prayer is direct proof that there is nothing out there.

I disagree.  It seems that, in my life, the challenges are the proof that there is Someone there, and that He cares about who I want to be and about helping me.

So, I'll keep trying to get through it.  In the meantime, though, there is her:

A miracle in my life, in every sense of the word.  She is pure light and love in our home.  To think that without a very divine hand, I would never have had her. 

She is a quiet and profound reminder, each time I hold her, that I am loved, and that there is so much more to it all than I can see in the moment. 

I can't look in those deep, perfect eyes without seeing evidence of the Divine.  Without knowing that there is help and happiness ahead.  Without feeling that I am loved beyond comprehension.

I can just see in her eyes that there is more to life than I what I can see right now. 

And that's reason enough to keep trying. :)

Monday, July 5, 2010

My little Loves

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blessed am I.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Summer

Summer means friends.


Summer means Kool-aid mustaches.


Summer means water balloons.  (All the better with friends.)





(This summer means I have my first thumb sucker out of five children...)


Today we spent the afternoon saying good-bye to some really great friends.  I may have cried a few tears tonight.  Sometimes, people come into your life just when you need them.  I will miss them.  :)