Gratitude 2

  1. I am grateful for finding when I seek.  The internet is full of beautiful souls pouring themselves out for us to soak up and I am grateful for being able to follow one link after another and find balm for my soul, kindred spirits I may never meet or ever read again, for that matter, but for that moment, we’re one in the same, in the same place.  I’m overwhelmed by the wealth of Lenten posts, such as this one from A Holy Experience.
  2. I am grateful for my extended family.  I was able to see my Gran (dad’s mom), Aunt Annelle (dad’s sister), Uncle Johnny, cousins Charlotte Anne and Huston and Huston’s girlfriend this evening at the farm.  Nora loves going out there and loves hanging out with her relatives.  She’s very into the interconnectedness of it all and likes to have the relationships described several times so she can fully understand and repeat who is connected to who in what way.  We are lucky.  Driving home last night, I was listening to Kenny Loggins’ Danny’s Song.  It’s one of my favorites, especially since my pregnancy with Nora. Now I see a family where there once was none, we’ve just begun, now we’re gonna fly to the sun…
  3. I am grateful for Fridays.  I know these are my Thursday gratitudes, but I felt like it was Friday all day and it wasn’t… So instead of being upset about the unfairness of it all (it is totally unfair), I will be thankful for Fridays in general.  Hopefully the weather will be nice and we go for walks.  Nora is begging to go on a walk and play outside, she is so her father’s daughter.  I like to look at outside from a window or sit in the sun and read a book… She is full speed ahead doing ALL THE THINGS all the time.  Love it, love it, love it.
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Gratitude 1

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I wasn’t sure what facial expression to attempt… I think I was going for penitent nonchalance?  The dead-in-the-eyes look may be because I am still recovering from having my eyes dilated this afternoon…  Taking two small children to a church service a couple hours post-dilation was probably not my finest moment.  When I came home, I told Ben that, fun fact, the ashes are the ashes of the palm fronds from last year’s Palm Sunday.  He said, “Well, I like that they recycle.”  Okay, on to gratitude.  Looking at the Momastery guidelines, apparently the idea is write three in a personal journal and share one, but nah.  I’m sharing it all.

  1. I’m grateful that my child is inquisitive about the faith process.  We’ve had several discussions about church since we’ve been going regularly, and, while I’m not sure my answers are always satisfactory to the three year old mind, I’m glad to have the conversations.  I treasure her.  The first Sunday we went to First Presbyterian, she asked me where the dead person was.  After the service tonight, Nora asked Andrew, the pastor, if he and mommy put tattoos on our heads in church  We’ve come a long way in a couple months.
  2. I’m grateful that my husband decided to put on a Hugh Grant movie just to make me smile.  I’m pretty sure I could give three gratitudes a day every day solely focused on that guy… But I’ll try to spare you the mush.
  3. I am grateful for the ability to write.  Figuring out how to get these thoughts out of my head and into a format I can share that will maybe help someone else feel a little less isolated makes me so happy.  It’s a joy for sure.

Aaaaaaaaand done!

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Lent

From the Momastery Facebook page:

Lent starts tomorrow. Traditionally this is the time that Christians “give up” something for 40 days in order to prepare for Easter. I’d like to invite everybody- Christian or not- to give up something with me this year. Together – let’s try to give up ingratitude.
I have a hunch that gratitude is the key to peace. I’m not sure we need to change our circumstances, but I think we might need to change the way we SEE our circumstances.
So here’s what I’m going to do: I’m going to open this little journal I’ve been holding onto, and each night of lent -before I go to bed, I’m going to write down three things for which I felt especially grateful that day. Anybody want to join me? 40 days is a spiritually important amount of time for experiments – and not surprisingly, it’s the amount of time many psychologists suggest that it takes to form a new habit.
I want to wander out of the desert of ingratitude and into the paradise of gratitude. Anybody want to join me? Maybe we could meet here each night at nine. I’ll post something on my list and you can list one of yours on the thread. We’ll create a nightly waterfall of gratitude for forty night and then expect miracles.
Join me?
#carryonwarrior

So, I’m in.  I haven’t done much in the Lenten tradition in quite a few years… I was thinking about it and I think the last time I may have made a pledge to give something up for Lent was in 2004 when I gave up boys.  I was seventeen and decided that my life should focus on more who I wanted to be than who I wanted to date.  For those of you who knew me then, you’ll know this was more of a mental sacrifice as I didn’t date much at all, but at that age it seemed very important.  Easter than year was Sunday, April 11th, and Ben and I started dating less than two weeks after that… So I haven’t really had to focus on the whole “finding a romantic partner” thing again.  Maybe I’ll kick ingratitude’s ass for good this year… It’s good to have aspirations, anyway, right?  I haven’t decided if I’ll post my gratitudes daily or save them and post a week at a time, but I’m going to try REALLY HARD to make it through forty days.  I have been reading that apparently Sundays don’t count, so that’s good to know.  Okay, I am officially starting tonight… I feel like end of the day is best, yeah?  Yeah. 

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Pocket of Peace

It’s been a crazy week. It’s been a week of stress and anger and loss and so many other emotions. With the girls in the picture, every week also has a good dose of joy, but it’s easy to discount that as even their most joyful moments are sokinetic. Very little of what they do is passive in any way.

This week has been Emeline’s first week in a new situation. Instead of having someone come to our house to care for her, she is spending her work day with a stay-at-home mama and her little girl. It’s been wonderful, everything seems to be working out well. All that to say that I have a little bit of a drive in the mornings that I’ve not had for awhile. For those of you who may not know, from my house to my office is approximately a four minute drive. Nora’s school is a couple minutes further, but still on the edges of downtown. Emeline’s new sitter is probably closer to 10 minutes… Still not far, but to me it seems like forever!

It rained this morning. When I left the house, there was still a light mist falling and a bit of a hush over the world. I love the clean feeling after a light rain. Emeline and I got in the car and I put on the new Band of Horses acoustic album. After a bit, she started quietly singing along to the music in her adorable infant voice. I needed that moment of just pause and listen, that tiny little pocket of peace before the day began in earnest, to just let music and her tiny little voice wash over me.

I’ll marry my lover in a place to admire
I don’t have to even ask her I can look in her eyes
And thank God that I am forgiven
I thank all my friends
To say I’ve been truer or they forgotten

-Band of Horses, Marry Song

As I was hanging in my peaceful moment, something that happened this morning returned to me. Nora and I were brushing her hair (it apparently takes both of us), and were discussing her shirt. It is a shirt designed by a dear friend of mine for her own little company, Be Tees. I write this in hopes of snapping a decent picture of her wearing it to attach, but it is white and she is at school… So I’ve swiped a stock photo with permission. Here’s the shirt:

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Adorable and inspirational, right? Talented lady, that Jackie. Anyway, Nora was chattering about her shirt, pointing out the clouds and telling me they were sheep clouds because they’re fluffy, and talking about how big the mountain looks… Then this.

Me: Do you know what the shirt says? Would you like me to read it to you?Nora: Sure!
Me: It says, “Be Brave!” See the little person on top? That person climbed the whole mountain and is standing at the tippy top and that person is so proud!
Nora: Umm, mama? I’m not brave.
Me: Nora, you’re one of the bravest people I know!
Nora: Mommy, I’m just not brave enough.
Me: Brave enough for what?
Nora: Well, I’m not brave. I can’t climb a whole mountain!
Me: Hmm. Well, you might not be able to climb a whole mountain by yourself, but I bet if daddy helped you, you could climb all the way up something pretty tall, huh? That’s still pretty brave! Being brave doesn’t mean you can’t have the help of people who love you.
Nora: Yeah, okay! I’m brave! Let’s climb a mountain!
Me: Well, you have to go to school today, instead.

She teaches me. I love being her mom.

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Title (optional)

So, I am trying to be more consistent with this blogging thing.  I think I’ve said that probably 50 or so times so far in this blog.  Also, I need to redesign the look with new pictures, new… Stuff?  I don’t know.  Links and whatnot?  I want it to just automatically reflect me but I don’t want to have to actually do the work.  It’s one of those things that wears me out just thinking about it.  I can be fully of energy, looking for a project to tackle, start to browse through blog layouts and…. BOOM. WALL.  NAP TIME.

Things that keep me up at night (or wake me up at night, as I can crash out like nobody’s business these days) include, but are definitely not limited to:

  1. My need to revamp my blog;
  2. The fact that I don’t understand or really want to understand tags and classifications for posts on my blog;
  3. How much I hate titling things;
  4. The potential that #2 is keeping me from being a world famous blogger (I don’t think that’s even a thing);
  5. How I’m potentially screwing up my kids by writing about them here and on Facebook and on Instagram and sharing every ADORABLE, yet potentially embarrassing moment;
  6. How I’m potentially screwing up my dogs and cats by not posting about them enough.  I think they can sense it, even if they can’t read;
  7. The reality that I am probably screwing up the dogs more by not spending my time walking them rather than worrying about their sense of social media importance, and lastly
  8. What if Ben runs for office larger than City Council and someone actually reads all the ridiculousness I write?  Hmm.  He’s a Democrat, so that’s not likely, but hmm.

Obviously this is only the blog related category and the actual list is about a mile and a half long, but you get my drift.  Maybe there’s someone I could pay to fix up my blog, categorize everything, and filter everything I write and ALSO filter everything I SAY and everything I eat and buy and… Yeah, probably not. 

I think I can fix my main worry (screwing up my kids) by ensuring that they are strong, secure ladies who own their super cute childhood and all the awkwardness I’m sure to share throughout their growing up.  Is there a magic way to do that?  Now that I think of it, that is pretty much my singular, double-edged parenting goal: Raising women who know their worth, own their past, are ready for their futures, and are also deeply humble about the things they have, treasure the people who love and support them… Yeah, impossible, but it’s what I’m shooting for.

This morning as I was bucking Nora into her car seat, I looked at her and told her how sweet she is and how much I adore her and how much I like her owl shirt.  She looked at me and said, “Mom, I love you too, but you put this shirt on me!”  I’m pretty sure that says something about life.  Side note: She’s started calling me “mom” instead of “mommy” or “mama,” especially in public, and I do not care for it, not one bit, but I appreciate the strong show of independence it indicates.  Double-edged swords all over the place.

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Authenticity

I have a really bad habit of storing stories and blog posts in my mind and never actually, you know, typing them. I also have several draft posts with a paragraph that was apparently supposed to jog my memory to let out the rest of the thought. That doesn’t necessarily work if you don’t return to it for a month or so… I feel such a sense of accomplishment and relief when I actually finish a post, followed almost immediately by a wave of panic and self-doubt. What if I overshared? (I almost certainly did) What if no one reads it? (I write mostly for me, but… I am publishing it on the world wide web, ya know) What if TOO MANY people read it? (PANIC) What if I’m not a good enough writer? What if my stories and made up insights aren’t good enough? What if I left out the punch line?? You get my drift.

Eh. I’m trying not to care. I am on a quest for authenticity. I am challenging myself to be my most authentic me. This has two parts, really: 1) Trying my hardest to live honestly, to show who is inside on my outside, answer questions truthfully, face my fears and doubts and joys and triumphs head on. 2) Attempting to change my inside to match what I want to show outside. This tends to be equally hard or harder than the first part. I’m a work in progress.

On this note, I’ve started attending church and I’m actually really enjoying it. I don’t mean to sound so surprised… But it has been a long time since I’ve actually felt like I was on the right spiritual track. I have dabbled in church, but haven’t really made the adult choice (as I have been putting off for awhile admitting that I am an adult and need to make that choice) to find a church home. Don’t get me wrong, I worship in my way on my own, and I’ve never felt far from God or doubted there is a God or really had an existential crisis in that vein, other than the normal existential crisis of WHY and HOW and WHAT DOES IT MEAN NOW, which I think is kind of essential to faith and life and the human experience. I was talking to Ben about my need to find a church with like-minded people, or, rather, open-minded people who are seeking to live in communion with the world, in communion with belief, and not at the expense of social justice and equality, as I know there are few, if any, people in the world who share my exact brand of faith, as we all approach it in our own way. That sounds awkward and lofty, but whatever. Point is, I asked Ben to help me with my “crisis of faith” and he scoffed at me and said, “It’s not a crisis of faith, it’s a crisis of practice at most.” He can be awfully profound when he wants to be. I ended up at First Presbyterian Church here in Enid, and I’m loving it. It seems like each week there’s a part of the sermon that sticks in my head and I find myself mulling it over and over (as I’m sure is the intention). The pastor (pastor? reverend? something. The guy at the front. Presbyterian speak is new to me.) has been going through The Sermon on the Mount in Matthew, Chapter 5. This week what’s stuck in my head is Matthew 5:37a “But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’” Seems easy enough, but too often it’s a “Yes, but…” or a “Yes, unless…” So, with that in mind, I am trying to fulfill my obligations in a timely manner, letting my yes be YES and not yes, unless I forget or yes, but you have to remind me ten times to actually get me to follow through. I’d like to be the kind of person that when I give my word, that’s that. No qualifiers necessary.

So, here we are! It’s February. My tiniest is almost seven months old and she can do very exciting things like clap and crawl backwards in short spurts. She has a tooth!!!!!!!! This is very exciting as Nora had zero teeth until after her first birthday. Nora is awesome, got her first hair cut, and tells me wonderful stories every day. I need to write more of them down. She is a spitfire, though I guess that’s what I ordered when I decided to combine my DNA with the husBen’s… I love her spark, I love her creativity, and I love her kindness.

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They always look sweeter either asleep or near sleep…

Here’s the part about my grieving process, because I don’t feel right leaving something that’s such a large part of my life out of this post. It’s been six months (yesterday) since my brother passed away. I miss him every day. I still feel entirely robbed of a lifetime of his recovery and it seems like everywhere I turn there is someone going on about how great it is to have a brother and I want to punch them a little, but also I want to hug them and tell them I hope they never have to truly feel how important that relationship is… Because I think you only truly feel it when it’s a hole in your heart. I’ve been having these dreams where he’s there and he’s whole and he’s truly himself. I’m loving it, I’m so happy, then I realize… He shouldn’t be. I’m the only one who figures it out, everyone else is just going on like nothing is amiss. I pull my mom to the side and tell her how great it is that he’s back, but… How? What’s going on? Then I realize that it’s a dream and it will never be real and I will the ocean (which is always just outside wherever we are, somehow) to swallow us all up together so I don’t have to see anyone else realize what I’ve realized and my dream versions of them can just be happy, and the ocean obliges, and that’s that.

Okay, that was depressing. I’ll leave you with a little Nora story. So, as I said, the girls and I recently started attending church. Nora’s new to this whole thing and she and I are sorting out what that means for her together. She’s enjoyed it on the whole; she likes hanging out in the service at the beginning, and children’s time at the altar is her favorite, followed by the nursery, where she claims to have goldfish parties. This past Sunday during the children’s time, there was a little discussion of the weather, of whether the kids had a chance to play outside and such. My child, of course, waits until everyone is done talking and says, “Hey! I went on a walk with my mommy and my daddy and my sister outside. AND I have a new stroller and I can stand on it!” True, we did go for a walk that morning, even though she told everyone it was the day before… So then the pastor goes on with the story of the boy who cried wolf, finishing by saying his parents told him that story many times, to which my child replies, “My parents never told me that story! My mommy did not tell me that story!” and she stands up, makes her most judgmental face, and sends eye daggers to my seat in the back of the sanctuary. Oh, that child… Apparently I need to tell her more stories!

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Growth

So, I am not a fan of resolutions.  I’ve read a lot of blogs about not being a fan of resolutions this year, actually.  Being in the majority this year is somehow annoying to me… I figure why not dive on in with the other somewhat annoying trend I’ve seen this year, which is choosing a word for the year.  My word is Growth.

My babies are growing at a ridiculous rate.  Yet again, I am reminded that I really, truly need to sit down and actually replace the pictures on this site, because Nora is the size in the profile picture that Emeline is now.  Yikes.  How is that possible?  I’ve had a whole other KID since then- a whole other life has entered our family.  Family growth by numbers is at a standstill, at least for my immediate family.  The husBen and I are agreed (at least at the moment… Any potential surprise future children who feel the need to stalk my old blog posts, please be assured that we probably like you and want you and all that, if you exist) that the child to adult ratio being even is a good stopping point.

Where do I want to be in a year?  Here.  We’ve carved out our little piece of the earth and I’m happy with it, most days.  Our house in our little forest is just about perfect, Ben loves working with his dad, my job is going well, Nora has a school she loves, I love all the organizations that small city life allows me to be a part of, and I am just generally content.  My parents are here, my sister is close, my brother’s grave is here, my in-laws are here… You get the drift.  So, where do we go from here?

Deeper.  My goal this year is to deepen my roots and lengthen my reach.  What the hell does that mean?  Let’s give it a year and find out together, shall we?

Maybe my goal should be more attainable, like finishing things.   Now THAT is a lofty goal.  I’ve had this sitting around, waiting to add adorable pictures of my babies… Eh, there will be other posts for that.  Onward and upward!

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NaNoWriMo: Beginning

WriMo update day one: I dreamt my computer was falling apart and I had to pull off pieces and keep writing on the remainder. Also, got a fun idea at 6 am, but I was trapped under the babies and couldn’t figure out google drive on my phone, so I wrote one sentence at 7. Still… I started and I’m pretty psyched!!

Well, at the prompting of a good friend after my last post, I’m going to attempt National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  30 days, 50,000 or more words, plus it’s the month of Thanksgiving and my eldest child’s third birthday on the same day.  I don’t know how often I will be blogging about it or about anything during this month… In fact, why am I wasting my word count here?!

Wish me luck!  If you’re participating, add me.  Username: sezzell

Okay, wait, one more thing about life.  If your kid’s birthday falls on a holiday like Nora’s does this year, what’s the best way to make sure she still gets her full birthday experience and keep the turkey from stealing her thunder??

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To Write…

I feel like I need to write, but I’m not sure what I need to write about.  This is not a new feeling for me, but acting on it is a relatively recent development.  I have been an avid reader from a young age, mostly of fiction, but for awhile it was pretty much anything I could get my hands on.  I didn’t have a ton of friends growing up, and I lived out in the country from the ages of eight to eighteen, so I found friends in my siblings and in books.  Books were preferred to siblings quite often.  In my ninth grade year, I read a book ever 1-3 days.  The older I get, the more demands I have on my time and the less time I have to just read an entire book, but it’s still one of my favorite things in the world.  Our world today is so full of clips and short articles and a multitude of other things that call for a very small piece of our time each, which ends up sucking hours of our lives.

Since books were are such a huge part of my life, I have developed quite the internal monologue.  This is especially prominent when I don’t have much else to occupy myself.  Since the majority of my workday is spent in data entry in an eerily quiet office, I find myself mentally writing quite a bit.  Lately, I have been trying to understand something that seems to be pretty evident, but never fully clicked for me… Those people (authors) are just people who write down the things they think in some kind of logical order (some notably more logical than others), and either people want to read it or they don’t.  I think this realization goes hand in hand with my post about how we grow older but we’re still just… Us.  We don’t magically morph into “author,” “entrepreneur,” “athlete,” “artist,” or whatever.  Life is a gradual process.  There’s no deadline for the answer to the “What do you want to be when you grow up” question to be realized.

I took an AP Literature class in high school my senior year and it was wonderful. Not to toot my own horn, but I did make a 4 on the AP test…  Anyway, in this class, I was introduced to or delved further into quite a few different literary concepts that fascinated me.  One that sticks with me and I think about quite often is the idea of stream of consciousness writing, specifically the writing of William Faulkner.  It’s hard to put description of that fascination in words…  The concept is just mind-blowing to me.  It seems to be such an insight into the author’s mind in more ways than standard prose.  Reading The Sound and the Fury  or As I Lay Dying (the latter being the subject of my final project for the AP class) made me feel like I was inside the mind of Faulkner, like I was part of what could have been going through his mind and transferred directly to paper, without the benefit or detriment of the outline, that little structure that seems to remove the person from the work itself.  I’d like to think that these masterful works were just the kind of thing a literary genius of today has floating through his or her mind while completing page after page of data entry…

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Noraisms

Nora: “Mommy, I don’t want to be late!”
Me: “Late for what?”
Nora: “For ice cream!”
Me: “You have an ice cream appointment?”
Nora: “Remember that time two months ago that I went to get ice cream with Cheri and grandpa and we had a pointment? And we weren’t late? And that was really good for me and Cheri and grandpa!”

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How you know that your child has grown up without regular tv…

Watching Hulu and a commercial comes on.
Nora: “Mommy! Quick! Fix it! This isn’t the movie you wanted!!!”

Nora: “Let’s watch Despicable Me! Come on!”
Me: “Nora, we aren’t watching that right now.”
Nora: “Okay… We are going to watch Despicable Me or we aren’t? Or we’re going to watch nothing? Those can be your choices, mommy.”

More on words she hears and doesn’t understand…

Nora, with supreme pout face: “Mommy, it’s not fair!”
Me: “What’s not fair, baby girl?”
Nora: “It just isn’t!”
Me: “What isn’t?”
Nora: “Isn’t fair!”
Me: “Nora, what is it you think isn’t fair?”
Nora: “Um… The trash can!”

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Me: “Nora, you might get to see Aunt Mary tomorrow…”
Nora: “I wanna see LOTS of Marys!!!”
Me: “Nora, she’s just one person.”
Nora, heartbroken: “Why can’t she be LOTS of Marys?!”

Nora: “Mommy, is that stupid?”
Me: “Is what stupid?”
Nora: “Just that.”
Me: “Nora, that’s not really a good word to use.”
Nora: BIG SIGH, “I just need SOMETHING to be stupid!”

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Dudes. She’s awesome, she’s fearless, she’s a huge mess, and she will be THREE next month. This is, of course, just a small sampling of life with my wonderful child. Wouldn’t trade her for the world.

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