Wednesday, September 17, 2014

This Picture Makes Me Happier Than The Story Behind The Picture

It's a pretty normal, almost boring, picture. Kid 4 and Kid 5 in the backseat of my car reading. But this picture just makes my heart swell with happiness.

You see a couple years ago I did this little thing and I committed to writing a book. Then the divorce drama happened and I shelved the book. Well to be honest I didn't shelf it. I actually picked it up, walked to the trash can and threw it away.

Not my smartest decision I know. But fortunately I wasn't thinking clearly enough at the time to delete it off my hard drive as well so I did still have a copy.

Last year I decided to take a look and see how bad it was. To my surprise there really wasn't much I felt I needed to change. And then, once again, life drama got in the way and I shoved the project aside.

Earlier this year I decided this was it. Pull the darn thing out and just get it finished! It felt like the time was meant to be when a wonderful woman, and a legitimate professional editor, entered my life and offered to take a look at it for me. Like, she's a real editor. For real authors. And she not only was looking at my book but she liked my book!

Since she is a professional editor she works much faster and more efficiently than I do. She sent her edits within a month. Everything she suggested was completely spot on. I went through and made the changes she suggested and...

The shit hit the fan again.

This was a tough summer for my family. As tough, if not more so, than the summer my ex-husband walked out on us. I haven't written about it and I'm not sure I will. I had a major kid crisis and my kids are off limits. So that story will have to wait a little bit.

But, it leads back to the picture above. As I lay awake on yet another sleepless night, not even thinking about the book, it popped into my head what I needed to write. What I needed to write about the kid crisis and what I needed to write to complete the book.

Just a couple short weeks later I was standing in the printers office waiting my turn to pick up a package. The kids were bugging me asking why we were there and what was so important. As the clerk handed me the package, the kids looked at what I was holding. Their eyes got big, their smiles got bigger and they practically shouted "You got your book!"

Yes, the book is complete. I have two galley copies of Creating A Joyful Life: The Lessons I Learned From Yoga and My Mom

As we walked to the car Kid 4 got a gleam in her eye and offered to carry the galleys for me. I knew right away what she was up to.

As she got in the car she handed the second copy to her brother and they both immediately started reading. They don't care so much about the content of the book, they were just reading to find their names. They were very excited when they found them.

What you can just barely see in the picture is Kid 6 in the back seat trying to find out if her name is in the book too. It is.

There are still a few edits to be done. And I need to find someone to help me format it properly for publishing. But, the writing is complete.

One galley copy is in the hands of a trusted friend/professional to read and hopefully write a good review for the back cover. The second copy is sitting on my dresser. Each day I see it and I smile.

Who knows how long it will be until, if ever, it's actually in print and available for purchase. I'm almost OK if it stays for my eyes only and never gets out there to the publishing world. Almost.

I set out to write a book. And I did.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

I'm On Fire. Until I'm Not.

Day 6: on fire
What are the signs that you are on fire?
What I mean to say is: I mean to say, how does it feel in your body when something really gets you going?

Day 7: roadblocks or just detours?
What tends to trip you up?
What is your kryptonite? Ask yourself in the most compassionate of ways.

Times I feel on fire are often the times I'm pursuing my passions; writing, exercise and being creative.   Some nights I can't not write. A good sweaty gym session makes me feel strong.  When I'm on fire I feel healthy. I feel happy. And I do the types of self-care things necessary to keep that momentum going - eating healthy, getting enough sleep, quiet time and exercise. 

I am well aware that when I allow myself to take care of myself, not only does my creativity flourish but I am better able to handle the big and small crisis that life throws at me. 

When I'm on fire I feel confident. 

Yet, it's my own self doubt that too often wipes out that confidence. My kryptonite is me.

I'm not really sure why I allow self doubt to be such big part of my life. I know that the voices in my head are liars. I know that it's vital to my physical, mental and emotional health that I keep those negative voices silenced. 

The way to keep the voices away is by taking care of myself: eating healthy, exercise and rest. I know this. I have studied this. I teach this.

Yet I constantly struggle with it.

The voices tell me I'm not a size 2 and never will be so just eat the ice cream because no one likes me if I'm not that size 2. It doesn't matter that size 2 isn't even realistic for my 5' 9" frame.  Everyone probably thinks I'm fat.

The voices tell me that my writing is stupid and self indulgent. No one wants to read what I write. A real writer would have published her book. A real writer spends her days drinking tea, reading, writing and sitting in the sun. A wanna-be spends her days working two jobs, taking care of kids and feeling guilty for not taking more time to write.

I am my own worst critic. There's no need for anyone else to put me down, I can do a pretty good job of that on my own.

I'm aware of my triggers. I'm usually aware when I'm spiraling down to a bad place again. Although I still struggle with the contentment and depression cycle, I do believe the cycles are getting shorter. 

I am more determined, dare I say confident, to stop the low points immediately and to continue on with the self care I know to be necessary to handle the struggles of being a controlling person in a very out of control life.

This post is part of #AugustMoon, a series of daily writing prompts found at Kat McNally Words To Soothe The Weary Soul.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Perfect Work & A Perfect Reminder

Day 5: Perfect Work

What would your perfect work day be like?

My perfect work day would be a day where I don't feel like I didn't get enough done and I didn't let anyone down. The perfect work day is where when I'm at work I am fully present at work. When I leave work I actually come home to spend quality time with my family, rather than rush off to job number two. And when I'm at home, I am fully present and in the moment at home.

As I read today's #AugustMoon14 writing prompt I thought yeah right, I haven't had a perfect day in what feels like forever. So I figured why even bother trying to write tonight.

As I perused through Facebook I had a notification from an app called God Wants You To Know. Now I could, and should, write a post just about this app and how I have no idea how it got on my Facebook and some of the notifications I've had from it. But tonight, this is what it said:

Today, Jennifer, we believe God wants you to know that ...
you can give yourself more credit.
Are you juggling too much? Sometimes you don't give yourself enough credit for what you do get done in a day. Today, celebrate your accomplishments.

Well that's just apropos for tonight isn't it?

And I actually did have a couple work accomplishments this week. Also,it's the first full week back to school and back to a four night per week dance schedule and so far the kids have had lunches packed and up for school and out the door without any issues. That's a win. I've managed to keep up my personal workouts this week. And I made three blog entries! 

So as I spend the end of my night preparing for tomorrow, I think for tonight I will cut myself some slack and acknowledge that although today wasn't perfect, it wasn't a fail.

This post is part of #AugustMoon, a series of daily writing prompts found at Kat McNally Words To Soothe The Weary Soul.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Right Now, For Now

What is it that you do now? Today, we’re going to look at where we are, exactly as we are, right now. Grab a pen and a piece of paper; sit down in front of a screen with a keyboard; or dictate into one of those fancy smart phone apps!Tell us what fills your weeks, days and hours.

Right now I'm not at work. That's unusual for a Monday evening and feels very weird. Right now I'm also not at dance. Kid 4 has back-to-back dance classes tonight for four hours. It feels even weirder that I'm not at the dance school.

I am constantly struggling to find the balance between work/life/kids/myself. And I mostly fail.

At the beginning of this dance year I committed to only 2 nights per week to teach yoga/pilates and to help at the front desk. Of course I still have my full-time day job as well. Last year working full time days and four nights per week was just too much and my non-dancing kids got unintentionally ignored. As a single mom I'm working multiple jobs out of necessity, but that doesn't make it any easier on the kids who feel that I'm not giving them enough time. 

Since I work at a fitness center I fortunately can build exercise into my day. I go through spurts where I'm good about staying active and spurts where I'm not so active. Not coincidentally I feel better, more creative and am better able to keep the depression at bay when I'm moving and sweating more.

I also haven't been reading and writing as much as I would like to. I have been spending too much time laying in bed in front of reality TV at night. Mostly because I've been working too much, fighting depression and plain old exhausted.

Yes, I'm well aware that working too much and lack of self care are paths leading directly into depression for me. It's that whole struggle with balance thing I've got going on. It's just where I'm at right now.

For now. 

This post is part of #AugustMoon, a series of daily writing prompts found at Kat McNally Words To Soothe The Weary Soul.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Exhausted, Scared and (Not Really) Alone

My conversation last night: 

Concerned friend:  You need to write a blog post.
Me:  I don't even know how anymore.
Concerned friend:  Yes you do.

And so here I am.  My first post in four months. I've thought about writing a few times. Many times I sat down to write and nothing would come out. It hasn't been the best of summers. Single mom stress and an unexpected kid crisis have gotten the best of me.

I've spent the past few weeks once again not sleeping well, chronic headaches, nauseous and constantly on the verge of tears. With all my years of yoga, health & fitness training and my time spent in self study and working with life coaches you'd think by now I'd have quite a toolbox of healthy stress relief measures at my disposal.

And I do. I just don't use them.

Instead I retreat into my shell. It's just me against the world. And since I don't know who I can trust I choose to trust no one.  Daily I'm reminded, and more often I remind myself, how scared and alone I am through it all.

Like a caged animal huddling in the corner I lash out and attack anyone who tries to help and comfort me. 

A few weeks ago a coworker returned from her vacation and gifted me with a jeweled anchor necklace. She told me she saw the anchor and thought of me because I'm the one that always anchors everyone together both at work and at home. I mean it when I tell her she's beautiful, the necklace is beautiful and the thought is beautiful.

But what I'm really thinking are anchors are the ones drowning on the bottom trying to keep everyone else afloat. I feel like I'm drowning here. I almost can't breathe I'm dropping so far down.

Who is going to save me? Oh yeah, no one.

Yet I continue on. Get up each morning, put a smile on my face, resist the urge to punch those who tell me how tired I look, try and make ends meet, and do what needs to be done to make sure everyone else is safe and healthy. 

Then this week two different people reminded me that I'm not alone and I need to take care of myself too. One was very nice and made me cry. The other yelled at me and made me cry. Since I didn't quite hear the message the first time I admit I needed the second one too.

One of my personal training clients is moving out of state. She has some unusual health issues that made her the kind of personal training client the other trainers didn't want and were afraid to train. But I love those challenges and we hit it off immediately. She made amazing progress and I'm crazy proud of her.

Before she left for her new home, she came in to the gym one last time. She had a box in her hand and she explained to me that during her time with the fire department she was part of a tradition. She
explained that fire fighters and other first responders will present one another with a gift to thank them for having their back in an emergency. 

When I opened the box I saw a shiny rescue knife. As I took it out of the box she told me, "you've had my back all this time. I want you to remember someone will always have your back too."

Someone will have my back? Really? I wonder who.

Then the phone call yesterday. Those closest to me know when something is wrong. They know when I'm struggling and when I'm not asking for help. They also know I sometimes need tough love. Some words were exchanged. I cried.  I finally admitted I'm exhausted and afraid. 

And here I am now. I've spent most of the day feeling sick. But I think it's more just wore out than regular sickness. 

As directed by my friend I finally wrote a blog post. And tomorrow if I feel better I will go to my first led yoga class in a couple months. It's entirely possible I'll spend most of the class in child's pose crying. And that's OK.

I've been receiving email reminders for a couple weeks now asking me to once again participate in a series of writing prompts that my fellow writer friends use to keep up with their daily writing practice. Day One's prompt is Set An Intention.

So here I go. My intention, no my need, is to stop drowning myself. To remember I have those willing to help if I would just ask. And to recognize those who do love and care about me and stop pushing them away, but rather hold on to them and not let go.

This post is part of #AugustMoon, a series of daily writing prompts found at Kat McNally Words To Soothe The Weary Soul.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Buy A Book To Help A Student

My friend and fellow blogger Rick Watson has written another book. Titled Remembering Big, Rick is doing more than just promoting his book, he's doing something really cool instead. Rick is donating 100% of the proceeds from Remembering Big to the Dora High School scholarship fund. Dora High is a small school with few resources in Alabama where Rick and his wife Jilda live. Jilda is also a blogger and fellow yoga teacher.

I tried to find my review of Rick's first book Life Happens, but apparently I'm not a very good friend and I never got around to writing a review of it. So I'll tell you now that Life Happens is a collection stories of life in rural Alabama that you don't have to be from the South to enjoy. Rick's writing on both his blog and his book are very relatable and down to earth. Life Happens kept me interested and entertained on a red eye flight all the way home from Los Angeles.

One of the things I love most about Rick and Jilda is how humble they are. Not only are they writers and a yoga teacher but they also are song writers. Like legit song writers with songs on the radio. Yet when I was still in shock over my husband walking out on his family, Jilda offered her home to me and my 6 kids as a place to escape and begin to recover. That is compassion in action.

Rick and Jilda don't just talk the talk, they walk the walk as well. I don't know too many others who would put the effort required into writing and publishing a book just to give all the proceeds away. But, Rick sees this as a chance to give a kid in a disadvantaged area the chance to succeed.

You can purchase Remembering Big here.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

A Weird Afternoon Between Mom, Daughter and (Dead) Grandmother

I don't often feel my mom's presence around me. But this afternoon she came through loud and clear.

Me and the kids had spent the afternoon out with friends, and during dinner kid #4's behavior was really disappointing to me. All I could think about was my mom would never have allowed this.

I admit I may have over-reacted a little to the situation. Partly because I was shocked at the way my daughter was acting, but also too because if my mom would not approve of this behavior then she wouldn't approve of me as the mother in this situation.

Even when things calmed down I said a couple times to my daughter "Mimi would be so disappointed."

As I sit here now I wonder who she would be more disappointed in? Me or my daughter?

Kid 4 is a 12, almost 13, year old girl and with it has the typical pre-teen attitude thing going on. Although not enjoyable, it is typical age appropriate behavior. But as I sat there and observed the situation this afternoon, I realized kid 4 hasn't had the same opportunities and experiences that her older siblings have had because of where we now live.

She doesn't know how to appropriately handle herself in certain situations and that is my fault.

I know this post is really rambling tonight.

I'm still a little confused how I feel about it all.