Where is My Village?

January was a difficult month, there are whole parts of it I don’t remember and I swear it was the 16th just yesterday. You may have been wondering where I was or if I had stopped writing altogether. Never fear, I was only sick and I have no plans to stop writing.

January was a month of learning lessons and feeling isolated. Mid January I got sick, really sick. Some kind of virus set up shop in my body and played havoc with my digestive system and brain. No joke, I swear I heard it laughing inside me. Erie.

It came on fast, and it stayed too long. It drained my body of fluids, and my brain of the ability to think or make good decisions. It pushed me farther than I thought I could go and forced me to make choices I shouldn’t have been making. Seriously, it was a giant slap in the face.

What I realized, while considering my demise, was that those around me are more capable than I gave them credit for, and I am seriously deficient in the number of those around me.  In other words, my 2 and 4 year old children were better at accepting my illness and inability to help them than I thought they would be. They managed to go potty alone and find their own snacks. They played alone in their rooms for significantly more time when I was unable to watch them properly. They never complained. They were tiny rock stars. My husband stepped up and actually went to the grocery store. Sure it took him 4 trips to get everything but he went, he did it well, and he even found some new gluten free things I didn’t know about. Plus, he managed two trips to the urgent care and one trip to the emergency room without succumbing to his germ-aphobic paranoia. Heck, he even managed to enter the same room I was in without holding his breath, and I swear one time he even rubbed my back for a half a second. :)

Bottom line was we needed help, seriously, we needed someone to watch our kids, make sure I was getting rest and fluids, and allow my husband to go to work daily. We didn’t have it. So I learned we can manage, though it was ugly, but we should try to open our village up to new folks so maybe we won’t have to do it alone next time.

Friends and resources are important for so many reasons. We should have had an emergency plan in place and a sitter who had already been to our home and knew the lay of the land. We should find people with similar interests and children the same age as our boys just in case we need last minute support that only more people can provide. Sometimes it does take a village. Not a dysfunctional mess of a village full of idiots, but purposefully selected and competent villagers who care and are kind.

I’m not great at making friends and I’m worse now that I have children. I honestly don’t like many other moms and the way they treat their children is appalling (though I’m sure many of them feel the same about me). Plus, I have significantly reduced my inner circle by removing people who were damaging to me and by having others walk out of my life for no reason I can discern (I guess maybe I was damaging to them?). So I guess I need to make new friends a priority. I guess I need to stuff my superior feelings and just learn to accept others flaws and all and just be glad when those flaws don’t include being hurtful.  While I think people can hurt your happiness, and even intentionally prevent one from attaining true happiness, I now see that the right people can be instrumental in helping you achieve and maintain happiness.

So here is to a future of friends, or at least resources in place to make our next emergency less traumatic. And a big thanks to my family for supporting me in my moment of utter despair. I’m grateful I have such selfless people in my life. I am thankful I have such wonderful, confident, and empathetic children who did their best to help mommy. Kind of a tall order for those under 4, but those two managed that and then some.

I’m not back to full strength; it could be a few more weeks before that happens. But in the mean time I’m just going to take it easy, smile more often, be thankful for great insurance, and rest.

The Best of 2013

I’m not going to lie, 2013 kicked my proverbial ass in many ways. In other ways it was one of the most eye opening and life defining years of my life. Entering into motherhood three years prior had left me feeling like I’d lost myself. Losing my sister three years ago left me feeling broken.  I continued moving forward because that is what life is about, that is how you get unstuck from the muck and that is how you create the life you want, but in many ways it was just me going through the motions as opposed to me really living life. On the outside it looked like I was getting stuff done, sticking to a plan, on the inside it was like watching a movie and wishing it was over so I could sleep. Don’t get me wrong, I love my children, I love my husband, I love my life, but sometimes life knocks you down and makes other plans and you can stop and wallow in that shit or you can give it the middle finger and keep on moving even if you are injured (see that old intentional living I have been going on about for months).

2013 gave me a sick baby and doctors and hospitals and people I wish I had never had the need to meet, but am so grateful I did. It had my family discovering that Celiac Disease is actually a positive thing (when I consider the other potential options). It had me falling in love with my husband all over again by being lucky enough to watch him embrace his life as a responsible adult (something I think men struggle with). 2013 had me reach my pre baby weight but not my pre baby body (I still hope to shock and amaze you with before and after photos one day, maybe a 4 pack at 40 kind of thing by June??) but I learned my ability to be a dude is far more important than a flat stomach.  2013 saw my mother move to our property, my oldest learning how to be a good big brother, and my youngest potty training himself. 2013 let me reconnect with old friends, find my soul sister, and create laughter. But 2013 also brought me something else, this blog.

To some of you that may not even be note worthy. To me it has been a journey, and at times, an eye opening experience as I peruse all things in life looking for a better life, a happier life, a good way to live. By writing about my thoughts, by conveying what I have learned and all I have read I have not only learned much about me, I’ve learned so much about that better life. I am now able to turn off my mind when it tries to harm me with thoughts about my past or future, thoughts I cannot change and events I cannot alter. I have learned how to find happiness in this moment, how to let go of pain, how to manage my finances, how to talk to my husband, how to confront constructively, and how to love more completely. I have far more patience than I did when I started this journey and I can actually see the me I used to be before kids, before loss. There she is, looking at me in that mirror. There she is lounging surrounded by pups. There she is playing games with her kids. She didn’t disappear, she just got a little lost.

I spent a lot of time this year feeling defeated, scared, beaten down, broken, just utterly lost. I was frustrated that life wasn’t what I had been sold, that things could go horribly askew without my consent, and that so many people all over the place, every where I looked, were suffering. Then one day I sat down and I Googled happiness. I Googled, happy life. I Googled Zen. And it changed everything. Something so silly and ridiculous changed everything. So while we are better off financially than we were, our son thankfully does NOT have cancer, and our family life is full of laughter and peace, I know, I know in my heart and my head that I got to this place thru the journey of intentional decisions. Of choosing to shape my future so it would not be defined by my past. Of choosing the identity I wanted instead of the one I had fallen into.

While I think there is value in many of the posts from 2013 (I am bias after all), here are the most popular posts and those YOU found value in. May 2014 be a year where we all continue to make our own destinies and give the middle finger to anything that tries to stop us.

Things Dads Do- Apparently you all love videos, especially if it is a video of my husband doing questionable things with his children.

How to get laid more- Apparently you all love having sex too. I’m shocked by this one. :)

I help you all pick a deodorant- or at least I make you feel less alone picking a deodorant.

3 Songs- I got a lot of feedback on this one that it reminded people to remember what they love about their significant other. It went a way I didn’t expect when I wrote it, I’m glad you all took it another way. I was instantly more grateful.

You and Your Finances- This one made you all feel a little less alone. I know it made me feel less alone and it was the first step, a coming out if you will, that allowed us to get on the road to fixing our finances.

How to Kick Ass at the Gym- Speaks for itself.

and my favorite, not just because it is about me, but because writing it and really considering it,  opened my eyes and reminded me of who I am and why I like that person. About Wendy

Book em Dano! Spoiler alert: This is not about Hawaii 5 O

I once met a man who told me with great pride that he “wasn’t a reader”. He seemd not only proud of this fact, but worried that I might assume he was a reader and therefore judge him harshly. He was about to begin a story about getting spooked after reading a certain book, and he wanted it to be clear that the particular book in question was the ONLY book he’d ever read that wasn’t required for school. It was really hard for me not to give him the polite, yet condescending, golf clap.

There are two things wrong with this man, okay there were way more than two, but for the sake of this post lets go with two. The first was he thought that being viewed as a reader was a bad thing. That being a reader implied something negative about a person and so therefore it must be clear he is not associated with that group. The second was he thought I would understand or even agree with this. He clearly did not know his audience.

I am a reader! I am a proud reader. No seriously. I can remember reading long before starting school. Begging the librarian to let me check out the big kid books in the second grade, and often feeling like the only people who understood me were fictional. I love to read and I can’t understand people who don’t. I just don’t get it. I would never choose television over a good book. If I were trapped on an island I would want there to be books. When I am bored, or even doing other things, I am thinking about books.

It wasn’t until I started this blog that I realized just how much I love them, or how much a part of my life reading is. Don’t get me wrong, I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t “in the middle” of a book. I always have something I’m reading laying around. I buy my next book usually before I finish my last book and ibooks is my new bff (we cuddle at night but don’t tell my husband) But writing this blog every week and posting the what I’m reading at the bottom was sort of an eye opener. I read at least one book a week, sometimes two, this past week three! (It was a great, can’t put it down trilogy. I won’t apologize for my level of nerdom. All hail Veronica Roth!)

Until what I was reading was there every week staring me in the face, forcing me to consider the author and the name, I didn’t realize I actually read that many books a year.  If I keep up my current pace, by the time the blog reaches its one year anniversary I will have read close to 70 books. Seventy!  Even I can’t fathom that, and I am the zealot reading them.

I have been looking for a happier life and a more peaceful way of being. I now realize, through sharing my weekly book choice, that reading is one of the ways I find peace. Call it escaping, letting my imagination run wild, or just plain old entertainment, books are still some of my best friends and I am grateful I get to spend my spare time with them. They never complain about how far away my house is or the dog hair on the couch. They never judge my unbruushed hair or my snack choice. Books just beam happiness that I am reading, the rest doesn’t matter to them.

How we spend our free time says a lot about us, and I think it also determines our happiness, creativity, thoughtfulness, and outside human interactions (wait there are real humans out there?). I work a full time job from home with two children under the age of 4. Its sort of like having 5 jobs and spinning like a top while you balance plates on your nose. It sucks all available time and energy from your body and mind. Sure I am always home and available to do laundry and dishes between tushy wipes and dull government requirement editing, so I don’t have a lot of chores left when the work day is officially over, but I also have little alone time or moments to breathe.

When the work day is over, and I have created a wonderful home cooked gluten free meal for my men, I clean up, give baths, feed dogs, put children to bed and finally crash on the couch. I then spend questionable “quality time” (how can mindless tv be quality?) with my husband while we watch our favorite television shows for about an hour and a half (there are over 200 hundred hours of things stored on the DVR and we will never have enough time to watch them all). Then, when the night is still and my children are done stirring and my husband is snoring, I finally get to read. I only tell you about my day so you don’t tell me you don’t have time to read. If I can eek out even an hour at the end of the day, then I think just about anyone can.  Most people spend three times that watching terrible television. There is no excuse for not reading.

I love my time alone in the dark reading books that make me laugh, make me think, make me fall in love with new people I will never get to meet only to bring me back down when they die. I love that I don’t need anything but a single book to make the world okay, and make my fears and stress disappear.  Reading a book is like escaping to another world where I don’t matter, where no one needs me to feed them, pay bills, or remember to give medicine. Books make me feel alive and whole. Is it any wonder I want to get my own book published? Nothing could be greater in this world than knowing as an author that your words reach thousands of people, inspire them to change, challenge them to think. Wow the power of the written word!

I recently read about people making promises to themselves to run every day from Thanksgiving to New Years. I thought that was pretty cool and maybe I would do that too. Setting goals is a great way to achieve dreams and often times something bigger. Then I remembered I don’t run. The fact that I read this while running on a treadmill is merely ironic and hardly noteworthy. But there are things I do do. And there are goals I can make, that I can achieve, that will make me happier and healthier. And that is, after all, the goal of this blog. Happiness, peace, realization, intentionality, Zen.

So my goal is to read, everyday for at least two hours. This should get me two books a week without much of a problem. The books will be fiction and not about anything that touches my own life. In other words I don’t want to read about motherhood, sick babies, or dysfunctional relatives. I don’t want my mind to linger or stray to real life. I want books that take me somewhere new and make me believe that great things are happening, even if the great thing is just perfect literature. I challenge you to read. I challenge even the “not a readers” out there to pick up a book and just start (and Yes Candace I mean you!). You never know who you will meet, where you will go, or what you will learn. You will never know how great it can be until you do it.

What book will you read?

As a sub goal, I want to write everyday as well. I want to write my ass off. Now who wants to babysit two sweet angelic boys while I do that?

 

What I am reading: The Entire Divergent Series by Veronica Roth. I don’t even know how to gush on about how much I love these books. I’d tell you that if you like the Hunger Games you will like these, but that would be wrong to compare these books to anything else. I just finished the third book last night, and the nerd in me is going to read them again.

What I am listening to: Little Lion Man by Mumford and Sons

Now moment of the week: Hanging Christmas tree lights with my husband. I always wanted outdoor lights as a kid but we never did them. I think my little kid mind felt you had to have a daddy to do them. I used to drive by houses counting which houses had daddies and which did not, like the lights were a badge of identification, honor. I never did them as an adult either. It seemed like a lot of hassle without little kids to be in awe. But this year we did them together, Mommy and Daddy. And we laughed, and it was silly and over too quickly for me. And now I promise you, and the little girl inside me, that we will always have Christmas lights on our house this time of year. (not year round of course, my husband maybe a redneck but I am not, after all I’m a “reader” ;))

Inspirations from the ether: Amazon Prime. I really can’t say too many awesome things about it. I’ve had it a year now and given our gluten free celiac status it makes grocery shopping for specialty items easy and shipping is free. I can read books for free on my kindle and watch tv and movies for free through my Blue ray player. Seriously, I heart Amazon Prime. You complete me Amazon Prime.