Movies At Midnight: Lessons For Lily

We don’t sleep much around here. My daughter has never slept well. The night she was born I started walking the floor. Between the hours of 4 p.m. and 2 a.m. she cried, and cried, and cried, and wouldn’t sleep. Every. Single. Night. We would take shifts. I would walk her, and sing in the evening until her dad got home at 10 and took over. We have been lucky on the nights she sleeps through. As if getting to sleep wasn’t bad enough, she also can’t stay asleep. Several sleep studies, medications, and every wives tale you could think of, and still it’s a difficult thing for her.

I understand. I am fairly nocturnal, although not as much as I used to be. I would stay up until early morning hours to read, write, clean, or work. These days I try to be a little more careful with my body. But it was no surprise that my girl turned out just like me. Every night we take our pills, fill our water, and then she goes to bed, and I work a few hours more. She is usually still up a few hours, but thankfully has gotten better at staying in her bed and winding down.

Tonight she couldn’t get herself to turn off. I always send her back to bed and firmly tell her to try again. I don’t know why this night was different. I don’t know why I needed her to have some good memories of not sleeping. I just kept thinking that if she looks back on her childhood, and all the times she got up, and I just got irritated would be sad.

Why couldn’t I make a few good memories for her too? Why when she looks back does all she have to see is me being firm? There really was no reason whatsoever. If I was firm, and sent her back to bed then she would always remember that. But, I wanted her to be able to someday tell the story about how I gave her a little fun.

So I stopped working. We gathered up all the pillows in the house. We crawled into bed, and put on a movie, and snuggled up. I’m telling you, she was asleep in less than an hour. That’s a pretty good amount of time for us. She calmed down, and closed her eyes, and sleep wasn’t far behind.

She was thrilled when I told her what we were doing. She was so happy that I put her before working. She was happy when I let her watch a movie at midnight, and she is now peacefully asleep.

The memories we make with our kids are often worth more than we know. As adults we get busy, we work a lot, we balance all the balls, and we do so much out of obligation. We often forget to stop, and actually see the tiny humans we are surrounded by. They are learning from us. Their worth, and safety, and perspective are all tied up in what we portray to them in their younger years. If we put everything else before them, we teach them that they aren’t worth as much as work, or obligations. If we push them without any time to be a kid at play or resting, we teach them an unbalanced life that could lead to many health problems. So much of what we do teaches them how to do life. Are we teaching them in a way that we will be okay with later in life?

I wanted to teach my girl tonight that she is worth more to me than work. That she can come to me when things aren’t going the way they should. That sleep, and rest are important, and perhaps not always easy to come by. I wanted to teach her that sometimes it’s okay to have fun, and do something that makes you happy no matter what time it is.

I wanted her to have the memory of movies at midnight.

Retrain Your Brain: Battling The Insecurity In Your Mind

My biggest battles happen in my mind. As a person with anxiety my thought life can be challenging. But, throw in leftover insecurity from a lifetime of feeling like I’m not good enough, and I’m a mess. Add being a single mom to a high needs kiddo, and put all of your financial dependence on weather or not your business succeeds. It all throws some pretty heavy punches toward my thought life.

I spent most of my childhood, and teenage years feeling like I was never good enough. I was the oldest in a large family, and through some very religious years I was overwhelmed with never measuring up. This brought about a strong reaction of anger toward everyone, especially myself.

As a early 20 something I had nothing holding me back. I was happy, in love, and confident that I could accomplish everything I dreamed of. It is the only time in my entire life that I can remember not feeling negatively about myself. A brief calm in the middle of a stormy thought life.

Fast forward a decade, and I was again full of insecurity. My confidence was crushed long before I realized it. I questioned myself constantly. I tried to please others, and felt like a failure if I didn’t seem to measure up. I couldn’t accept anything good from anyone. I was broken down, and couldn’t seem to get back up. It’s taken me years to even start to undo the damage that had been done, by myself, and other people.

Part of being confident is feeling comfortable in the body you are in. I had gained a lot of weight, and gone through some pretty serious health problems. I was not comfortable in my body anymore. It has taken years of careful eating, movement, supplements, and challenging my thinking to even feel okay in my own body. It’s definitely not a daily occurrence. Occasionally though, I will get dressed, put a little effort into my hair and makeup, and feel like a rock star.

The biggest thing about building confidence is changing your thinking. It’s also the hardest thing to do. I felt worthless for a long time, and I still struggle with it today. I let my value be wrapped up in other human’s ever changing opinions of me. It was the worst thing I could have done to myself.

A few nights ago, my daughter had some girls over to paint nails, and watch movies. I overheard one statement that amazed me. It wasn’t said to be applied to life, but it works!

She declared “You are entitled to your opinion, but it doesn’t matter to me. I’m going to do what I want!”

Imagine, if we responded to other’s opinions of us with this statement? How free could we be if we were willing to dismiss someone else’s opinion as just that, their opinion. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t consider what others have to say, but we don’t have to let it effect us to the degree that most of us do. We have enough of our own thoughts to worry about without adding others thoughts to it.

But, how do we take control of our own thoughts? It takes a lot of redirecting your negative thoughts to more productive ones. It’s not easy. It takes time, work, self control, and a whole new set of statements to change the way you think about yourself.

I’m not one to tape up encouraging post-it notes, or hang fluffy sayings on my wall. But, I do love lists. Making a list of lies vs. truth is part of what keeps my thoughts focused in the right direction. Having a friend to talk through the thoughts when they hit me, and journaling with the intention of getting out the crap, and seeing the truth are also helpful.

Retraining you brain is a lifelong venture. We can’t expect to change our thoughts all at once, or to stay in a good head space once we are there. Work is always required to build a healthy mind, and to keep it that way. The internet is full of hundreds of ways to do that. I encourage you to spend a few minutes to find things that work for you.

The Pain No One Talks About

Today would have been our 15 year anniversary, if we had stayed married.

Our divorce was final 10 months ago. I didn’t want to divorce. I still loved my husband. I thought we would always be together. I was shattered. Almost a year later it still crushes me.

When you get divorced there is this expectation that you are happy to be “free”, or at least that you wanted it. I didn’t. When you get divorced people expect you to move on in a few months. I didn’t. When you get divorced people expect you to put up walls, and stop talking to your ex, and look at building a new future with someone else. I didn’t.

I don’t know that divorce is as cookie cutter as many people make it sound, but I also know that I don’t fit the stereotypical idea of a divorced woman. I have several friends that got divorced around the same time I did. They have all reacted in fairly the same way. I have reacted in the opposite. They have gotten new friends, new clothes, new men, new attitudes about men, and a new lease on life. I didn’t.

I’m okay with responding differently. I am still strong. I am still smart. I am still a hard worker. I am still capable, and resourceful, and creative. I didn’t discover a whole new me, I found the old me. I still have a lot of hangups that need work, and I don’t need to pile on new stuff that might get in the way. I just need to make it through days like this.

Today, on what should have been our anniversary, I have teared up at least a dozen times. I thought about the day we got married. I thought about our song. I thought the night we got together, and many other moments that we had in out years together. I was sad, and angry, and it hurt so much I could feel it physically. I thought about ignoring him all day. I thought about so many things that made up our marriage, and divorce. It was a hard day.

There is nothing that can make this day better. I had to go through it. I couldn’t numb the day away. I couldn’t act like it was just another Wednesday. I had to feel it, so I can move on. The moving on is hard too. But, it starts with letting myself go through the hurtful, hard things to get there.

Maybe you aren’t divorced. Maybe you have something else today that is hard, and painful, and that you really didn’t want to happen. Go through it. Feel it. It won’t kill you, it only feels like it should, then little by little you can let it go. It’s the only way. You can’t reach the other side without letting go. You can’t carry everything with you, it will weigh you down, and you will get stuck. I know, because I still try to get out of the mess without letting go. It doesn’t work. It won’t work unless you let your self feel it so you can put it down. It won’t all happen in one day, or week, or month even.

But, hopefully, some day soon, it won’t hurt as much either.

Steps To A Simpler Life

Building a life of simplicity isn’t easy. It’s hard to say no when you need space. It’s hard to get rid of things that you have accumulated. It’s hard to simplify your wardrobe, and diet, and space. It is also worth it.

It has taken me years to build a simple life, and I am no where near done. But I have learned a few things that bring simplicity in the busyness.

  1. Keep your meals similar. I have a list of a few things that I keep on hand, and if I don’t know to make, rather than reaching for something quick, and not so healthy I can reach for one of these. Eggs, Oatmeal, and Protein shakes are all kept for quick breakfast/lunch options. I also keep gluten free waffles, some sort of meat, veggies, fruit, and rice or potatoes on hand. If you have these things you are never at loss for a simple, healthy meal.
  2. I schedule our weekly appointments on the same days every week. We know that we will be gone on Tuesdays, and Thursdays for appointments. We know that every Monday night we will go do laundry. That means we also know what days we have at home every week too. It keeps our life in a simple rotation, and not stressed out everyday with a changing schedule.
  3. I work several jobs. I also home school my daughter. We often use block scheduling to stay on top of all that needs done. We will work on one subject, or job for an hour or two then switch to the next. It ensures that all of our work gets done without becoming overwhelming.
  4. I do not have a capsule wardrobe, yet. But I do a few things to keep my choices simple. I buy my clothes in the same colors. Blue jeans, black pants, gray and black shirts. It keeps the decision making down. I always know that what I am wearing will fit, match, and look good. It also frees me from having to find clothes every morning. The few items that I do have with color were also bought with the knowledge that they would match anything I have in my closet. I do the same with my daughters clothes.
  5. I don’t have a lot of clutter around my house. But books, and laundry can pile up. It doesn’t take long to put them away. I have bookcases, containers, and space in the closets for everything. Nothing comes into my house without having a space to go when it’s not being used. This makes our home simple to clean, and gives us space to live in without distractions.

Implementing any of these steps in your life will encourage simplicity. These steps keep me moving in the direction of living a minimalist lifestyle. They support my values that include being healthy, making time for my daughter, and keeping stress low by eliminating unnecessary choices. It also helps keep spending under control.

Weather you already live a simple life, or want to move in that direction, consider using these steps as a guide to help you achieve your goals, and bring simplicity to your life.

Remembering My Son

How many times can the heart break, and still work? I don’t know. I’m pretty sure it’s my mission to find out though. It’s been six months since my son died. There was a festival to honor him, and raise money for a cause he cared about. It was so hard to be there. To see his friends, and not him. There was nothing I could say that seemed to make sense. I mostly sat there trying not to cry, or be angry.

My daughter misses her brother so much. She made him a card to take out to the crash site. She got his football number painted on her face. I have it tattooed on my arm. We bought tshirts at the festival, and came home and watched Batman. He loved Batman. We try to do things to keep him with us. My daughter is afraid she will forget him. For me, he is always on my mind.

A few days ago I was in one of the stores that he shopped in a lot. I browsed, and picked up a few things. At the register there are a lot of different colognes, and perfumes. I was starting at one, and the girl asked if I wanted any. I simply said “No, my son wore that.” She responded with “ I know. He wore the Black. I remember you shopping here for his funeral.” It was sweet of her, and it sad. I teared up, and tried to hide it. I walked out feeling like I was overrun by emotions, and could lose it at any minute.

That is kind of the life you live when your child is dead. You walk this line of being in control, and losing your mind. I can be calm, and think before I speak, and have restraint. But then one thing will happen. One thing will be said, and I’m gone. There is overwhelming emotion. Sometimes I have words, and sometimes I need to take action.

They say grief comes in waves. Some are small, and you can withstand them. Then some are big, and they knock you right over. They crash into you again, and again. It’s true. There is no clear cut plan with grief. You get hit at odd times. You cry when you don’t want to, and laugh when you probably shouldn’t. You forget, and then feel guilty, or you constantly remember, and can’t focus on anything else.

You find ways to cope. You seclude yourself when you need space. You go out, and you don’t care that you look like an extra in a zombie movie, because at least you made it out. You hold close those you trust, and let everyone else fall away. And you find ways to keep your brain from imploding.

It’s a process. One that I am no where near done with yet.

So in this moment, I’m just going to cry. Because all I want right now is to hug my son. To listen to him talk about girl trouble, while he eats all my strawberries, and to watch a movie with him. Because it’s the little things with him that I loved and miss.

Show Her How To Be Fierce

My daughter fights me every day. School is difficult for her, and she would rather not do it. Of course this isn’t an option. But she is like every other struggling child, she is determined that she doesn’t need school, and so she attempts to refuse. She pushes against me so hard.

I have tried, what feels like, hundreds of different things to get through to her, but nothing ever seems to work. She is home schooled because the school couldn’t make it connect either. I try to make it fun for her, or at least interesting. But there are really only so many things you can do with long multiplication. So we keep going. I keep pushing, she keeps yelling, and I don’t let her give up.

That’s really the point isn’t it? Life is hard. Sometimes we don’t want to do things. Sometimes the things we have to do seem bigger than us. But, we can not give up. I know it would be easier to curl up on the couch with a movie, or book, and ignore the world, but that is no way to live. I want to see my daughter become someone who wants to live her life to the fullest. I want to be that person too, but it doesn’t come without work.

People go through hard things every day. I want to teach my daughter to become a warrior in whatever she is dealt. I want her to learn how to push through, and come out stronger, and braver, and ready for adventure. I am learning that the only way to do this is to be that woman myself. There are a lot of great role models in the world. There are a lot of great women who could inspire my girl to be strong, and brave, and kind, and totally aware of herself. But, ultimately she looks at me. It doesn’t matter how many great women I put in her path, she will always look at me first. Knowing this is both inspiring, and terrifying. I know I will fail. I know I will have bad days, or weeks, or months, and it will effect her. That is also when I know that I have to keep going. I have to try harder. I have to think about what I am doing, and course correct if necessary.

I am becoming more aware of the fact that if I want my daughter to be a warrior, aware of her needs, limitations, and dreams, I must first become that woman. Daughters follow in their mother’s footsteps, no matter how hard they try not too. Being a mother worth following is not easy, but I have no doubt that it is so worth it. To one day see my girl living her fullest will be amazing, and worth the struggle that it is to be the best me.

Raising daughters means raising mothers. We are rarely confident, natural mothers. We have to learn right along with our girls. We have to put so much work into becoming the kind of mothers that inspire our daughters. We have to give ourselves grace right along with them. We will make mistakes, and make memories, and learn things at the same time they do.

Also, dear women who do not have daughters, you are not off the hook either. You are aunts, friends, sisters, and mentors to the young girls in your life. You are also being watched, and followed, and taught, and are teaching. Do not dismiss the example you set with excuses. You are what they see, and hope to someday be.

Be aware, beautiful women, as we raise the next generation, who you are influences who they become. So let’s be the fierce, and amazing creatures we want them to be.

Devouring Books

I need books. Books are the friends in the night that comfort me when I can’t sleep. They are the distractions I need when my mind won’t settle. They are the advice that I seek when I’m hurting or scared.

Books are our friends.

I have told my daughter this since she was young. Be good to the books, they are our friends. The older I get the more this holds true. When I say hurtful things, and I don’t want to forgive myself, books soothe my aching soul. When I’m alone, and loveless, and sad, books are the love that I crawl into bed with. When I am tired, and life is too hard, and I can’t get on my feet, books are the life that I need to escape a while, and then start again.

I have a fairly large collection of books, and they range far and wide in genre. Books on life, on health, on sickness, on the heart, on the mind, and the soul fill my shelves. Alongside them are books about detectives, and love lost at sea, and wars that were won and lost so many years ago. I may be a minimalist, but my books challenge my thinking. I got rid of many when I cleaned out my tiny apartment, but still several bookcases remain.

I have always turned to books. As a child, and teen I climbed up the tree and read. I hid in the bathroom in the middle of the night so I wouldn’t wake anyone when I read. Then in desperate times I would read in a corner by a tiny nightlight, which I now think is probably a large contributor to my very poor eyesight.

I’ve had bifocals since I was 30, and it is one part of aging that I have never tried to hide. I see it as a sign of the many books I have read. The many worlds I have visited on the many pages I have held.

I rarely read one book at a time, although I wonder if it might be more efficient if I did. I just can’t seem to stop myself from grabbing as many as I can. My library bag is always full of more words than I could possibly read in the amount of time I have. But I check them out anyway. I try to devour them as I hit renew, and grab more.

I had hoped that my daughter would love books as much as I do. She doesn’t. But I still hold hope for her.

I was emotional tonight. I felt things that I keep trying to push aside. I said things that I have never said, or even admitted to myself. I can’t sleep. It’s 1:21 am, and here I am wide awake. So I reach for my books again. I hope that I find something in the pages to heal the hurt I am feeling. I don’t go to bed alone tonight, the books go with me. Words of wisdom, peace, other places, and other lives, and hopefully just enough distraction to put me to sleep.