Little Moments

Things that have made me smile today:

  • Dropping my son off at pre-school for his second day in the three-year-old class, knowing that he will have fun and that he is in such good hands with teachers that will love him and take good care of him.
  • Driving alone in my car, listening to the radio a little too loudly.
  • Getting my first Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte of the season today from baristas that know my name, ask about my little boy, and know my order.
  • Sitting on my back deck feeling the beautiful breeze as it floats the scent of the “Autumn Festival” Yankee Candle I have burning beside me into the air.
  • Surrounding myself with silence, typing, tastes and scents that relax me.
  • Taking the time to ignore the chores and choosing to listen to life’s little pleasures.
  • Remembering that before there were days of mommyhood, there were days of me.
  • Giving thanks for this life, this house, this moment, and all of the blessings that have gotten me to this day, this time, this now.

My perfect fall morning.

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Writing Woes

So I have this writing problem.

I love writing. I think it heals me.

It allows me to process, to vent, to understand. It allows me to explore humor and candor, reality and dreams, and all of the pieces that fit together to make a whole me.

It gives me an opportunity to recognize myself.

There are times when the words form together in my mind and pieces compose themselves. I don’t have to think, I just have to listen to myself and urge my fingers to catch up to my mind.

Often, this happens late at night, when I am lying in bed.

If I am really feverish to document these musings, I reach for my phone on my nightstand. I open the “memo” section and text like a mad woman.

And then I am relieved. I am saved from the burning emotions brewing in me. Once I have released them into print I feel more calm, and can drift to sleep.

When the morning arrives, and my day becomes busy with getting the toddler dressed and making breakfast and trying to go somewhere so we don’t go stir crazy in the middle of this heat wave, the thoughts I composed the previous evening remain unshared in my phone.

And so my phone holds multiple posts, holding onto words and emotions that were once so prevalent they were all I could think about; but not being shared in the one community in which I could openly disclose them.

My phone hides all of my secrets.

(Yes, I am in BIG trouble if I ever lose that thing.)

So, in an attempt to re-connect with the blogging world and do what I came here to do in the first place, share myself, I will have to purge into the depths of my phone.

I am really not even sure of what is on there.

Some memos are just lists of what to get at Target. (Ok, a lot of them. Target is like my second home.)

But some memos are pieces of my heart.

So I will challenge myself and this blog (and my phone) to reveal more of the pieces of me.

And I will try really, really hard to be more present here.

On that note, does anyone know where the toddler hid my phone?

Why I Write

It’s dark here, as the light of the moon casts shadows over the bed.

Toddler breathing and cat purrs form the soundtrack for this particular scene of my life.

It’s a nightly occurrence, the glow of the moon through white cotton curtains, the steady breath of my beautiful boy, and the contented purrs of a cat beside me.

The clock ticks, warning me of the dangerous hour it is approaching and my impending duties of mommy in the morning that will be made so much harder if I don’t surrender to sleep.

But it is here, always here, that my mind becomes alive.

I remember my past, present and future as they all intertwine into a current conversation lulling me away from rest and restoration and into questionings and ponderings.

Sometimes, I revel in this time. This time of me. Sometimes, I dread it. Often, I feel alone.

One night, in this time of me, I stumbled upon a blog. I read posts by a woman who had struggled with her birth experience. For the very first time, I knew I wasn’t the only woman who felt this way.

I spent that night, and many more, pouring over her words and allowing tears to stream down my face as I motionlessly jumped up and down and silently screamed, “I am not alone.”

So I started writing. Writing thoughts more composed than just scribbles in notebooks or notes in the memo section of my phone. I started putting thoughts on paper and screen instead of just narrating them in my mind. I started to open my heart to the vulnerability and bravery that comes with hitting the publish button.

Sometimes, I write stories about my son. I try to capture memories that I want to hold on to forever. I would like for my son to read those one day. I hope they will mean as much to him as they do to me.

But mostly, I write to sort out the collisions of past, present and future that occur at my most fragile time; when I am in the midst of myself.

One day, maybe someone will read these words and they will mean something to them. Maybe one day I will understand them all myself.

And so I write for my vulnerability, my process of grief and self discovery, and my hope that one day these words resonate with someone so that they might say, “I am not alone.”

I started writing to find myself. I continue writing to find you.

Today, I link up with the lovely Galit and Nicole as they ask the question, “Who do you speak for?”

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An Hour Alone

I used to be a scheduled person. I used to be a Kindergarten teacher, so my day was divided into 20 minute segments of learning, teaching, organizing, writing lessons, entering student progress, and even squeezing in lunch and a bathroom break in a 20 minute time frame.

Then I became a stay-at-home Mommy. I was on baby time. I slept when the baby slept. I nursed when he wanted to nurse. I ate however much I wanted whenever I was hungry. I enjoyed trash daytime television. I reveled in the lack of schedule.

I have not had a schedule for nearly three years now. And I adore it. I adore staying up late when I need to and sleeping in when the toddler allows it. I adore taking leisurely walks with my toddler and marveling at things like flowers growing because we have nothing else to do. I love not having a schedule.

My life is not always as lovely as described above. My days are filled with laundry and dishes and cleaning and bottom wiping and trying to keep up with the needs of an ever-demanding and incessant talking toddler. But I don’t have a time frame to complete all of my to-do list.

So today, I am linking up with Stacey of Mothering Moment’s great listicles idea. It’s an interesting task; describe an hour in your day.

Today, I’m going to share a very rare hour with you. An hour of alone.

4:00 PM – Toddler and husband are upstairs for a nap. House is quiet. Cat sits in my lap and purrs as I sit at the computer reading and commenting on other’s blogs.

4:20 PM – Decide to get a snack. Go for a diet coke and some Cheez-Its. This is my time, remember? No one said it had to be healthy.

4:25 PM – Really wish we had cupcakes or something in said quiet house. Search kitchen. We do not.

4:32 PM – Turn on TV to TBS where Friends re-runs are on . Enjoy the banter between Rachel, Ross, Phoebe, Monica, Chandler and Joey.  Hope turning on TV does not wake sleeping boys upstairs.

4:34 PM – Sit back down at computer in guest room/office/playroom downstairs. Position chair to see TV in living room. Enjoy background noise of Friends and the clicking of the keyboard.

4:35 PM – Wonder what will happen next so I can finish this post.

4:38 PM – Stuff face with Cheez-Its and diet coke. Delicious.

4:39 PM – Check bank account balance to see if we have enough disposable money for me to order take out tonight while the hubs goes back to work on the night shift. Frown at the questionable outcome.

4:42 PM – Cat comes back into my lap and makes herself comfortable. She is soft and warm and I think we both enjoy this quiet company away from the toddler pulling her tail and demanding my attention.

4:51 PM – Hear husband’s alarm going off upstairs. It’s almost time for him to wake up for the night shift. The toddler will be awake soon, too.

4:56 PM – Realize it’s time to wrap up post. Spell check. Remain in awe that I got a whole hour alone to engage in junk food and blog activity.

4:58 PM – Hear husband walking around upstairs and start shower. Consider going up there. Remember we are not in college anymore and typing with a cat in my lap is actually much more appealing than joining husband in shower. I am getting old.

5:00 PM – Gently place cat on floor. My time is up. But what a wonderful time it has been.

It’s safe to assume that the rest of my day was a constant task of toddler wrangling, bottom wiping, dishes, laundry, cleaning, and blogging catch up. But this hour, was for me. Thank goodness for blogging, Friends, diet coke, and Cheez-Its.

Join me on staceysmotheringmoments.com

Over The Moon

Over the moon might not even fully express how excited I am today, but it’s pretty close.

When I started blogging, I thought I’d try it out, see how it went, and give it a go. In all honesty, I didn’t think anybody would read it. It would just be my own little place of rambling, and if I got really lucky, I might meet some online friends.

I have gained so much more. I have met some amazing writers, found writing communities that stun me with their talent, and delighted in the joy of online communication with wonderful people.

And the weird part? People are not just reading this blog, they actually seem to like it! I am giddy with excitement. This blog thing? Might actually work out.

I am honored to share with you two blogs that have featured some amazing writers this week, and am beyond excited to say that I am mentioned! Twice!

I found Jennifer through the Yeah Write community. I have been so thrilled with the talent there, and love Jen’s contributions. She just posted April’s Best, a collection of wonderful writers and posts that will make you think and laugh. Here, she mentions my post Get Over It. Head on over to check out this collection of bloggers. They are all worth a read.

I’m not sure exactly how I came across Kristen of What She Said, but I am oh so glad I did. Fellow Richmond dwellers with toddlers, we live in similar worlds. I love her humor and honesty, and she made me a life long fan with her post The Road to One and Done. I have also loved following her on Twitter and getting to know her as a “real” person. Her words of encouragement have been so inspirational to me, and it was by her reassurance that I thought, “maybe I really could be good at this blog thing.” I am truly touched by the sweet comments she made about me in her post Friday Tapas: The Lite Edition, and her mention of my recent post, Life Lessons From the Toddler. Head on over and get to know the fabulous Kristin!

And just for a little more shameless self promotion, I wanted to let you know that I finally jumped on the bandwagon and made a Facebook page for Elated Exhaustion. Come on over and “like” it. You would make my day. http://www.facebook.com/elatedexhaustion I even updated my social media buttons so you can get to the page from there, too.

Thank you all for your support. I am so honored.

Have a great weekend!

~Julia

Inspired

I tentatively placed my hands on the keyboard and willed myself to let go of the story that had been hiding in the recluse of my mind for months.

I watched as the letters under my fingers transformed into words on my screen, pouring out thoughts and telling a story I had never before shared.

I dared, much like I am now, to let the story unfold on its own, and present itself in its own way. Even I was not fully aware what direction it was taking.

I edited slightly, because when my mind speaks is doesn’t always remember to spell.

I published. I linked. I waited.

I held expectations no higher than a hope that this would be a prequel to my whole story and that it might allow me to connect with more readers in this wonderful blogging world.

And then it came. The brave. The transparent. The inspiring. The different perspectives. The outpouring of responses on a story I thought was my own.

I was amazed and humbled to discover that this story is not just my story. Parts of this reality had been experienced and felt and endured and coped with by many. People shared pieces of their own times of loss, their own times of difficulty, their own perspectives. People came here, to this small little corner of the internet, and shared their hearts.

To say I am honored is an understatement. I never knew that a simple post with a picture of a pumpkin would open the amazing dialogue created on that page. I cherish these bits of your lives you so generously intertwined with mine and savor them as though they are a decadent dessert. (Of chocolate, of course.)

This blogging world is still new to me. I am not even aware of all the things I do not know, as I have just started to climb this ladder and do not have the vision to see more than the next step in front of me. I am in awe of this community.

I have been lucky enough to find bloggers whose words float over the screen like a melody, whose descriptions entrance me, whose honesty both surprises and compels me. I have been lucky enough to read stories of people who break down the barriers of convention and instead allow the private of their lives to dance freely into the public. I have been lucky enough to find bloggers whose kindness surpasses many of those I know in “real life.”

Everyone has a story. It is what makes life so tragically beautiful. There is such artistry here in the intertwining of these hearts and voices. I see slivers and pieces of diverse stories slowly thread over each other as they weave their way into a part of the tapestry of shared experiences.

One of the reasons I started a blog was to finally share the birth story that I have never told, in full, to anyone in the past two and a half years since it happened. I have carried it, mostly alone, as I have walked this path of new motherhood. I started a blog to find you. To hear these stories. To know that I am not alone.

And to tell you that you are not alone either.

Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to share a brief overview and summary of my story. Thank you for not making me feel like I am crazy to have these musings. Thank you for giving me the courage to begin to share my birth story. I will tell you all of it one day.

Thank you for making me feel inspired.

Unexpected Gifts

Sometimes the thoughts in my mind are so intense and feverish and many that they threaten to trample over each other until they erupt from my fingertips onto the page.

Sometimes the darkness in my mind contrasts so sharply with the bright white of the screen that I can not organize a thought.

Sometimes the blank canvas in my mind so is so accurately reflected in the blank canvas of the screen that I hate to dirty it with the stain of intimate thoughts.

But always, I find this space to be calming. Always waiting for me to come back and fill it. Always there to let me explore the collage of thoughts floating in my mind, tearing through to the surface, gasping for the first breath of life, when I type them here and give them a voice.

Always, here, I find myself at peace. In the solitude of writing, in the solitude of self exploration, where I allow my world to be quiet and listen to myself. Always, here, I find a new piece of me. Always, here, I discover inspiration.

I listen to myself most often at night, when the house is dark except for the faint light coming in through the window. When the world is quiet except for the sounds of my husband and my son breathing next to me in bed. Where my cat curls up at my feet and my breath falls in tune with the people I cherish. It is then that I can stop, and listen, and learn things that I already knew, but never took the time to process. In these moments I am at peace. And in these moments I can reflect here.

This blog is my place of peace for my thoughts and my inner stillness. Listening to the words that so desperately accumulate in my mind and then pour onto this page has inspired me. Giving myself this place of solitude to write and reflect and grow has turned into an unexpected gift.

Have you given yourself an unexpected gift?

Blogging Is Hard…..But I’ll Figure It Out

So, this blogging thing is a little harder and more time consuming than I anticipated. I just discovered blogging a few months ago….(I know, where have I BEEN??) Oh that’s right, I’ve been in a mommy-hood immersion. Now that I am ending my sentence of baby-house-arrest, I have discovered the blogging community. Which lead me to discover that I would like to be a part of the blogging community. Which lead me to discover that…this is hard work!

I got the whole start-a-blog thing. WordPress made that part pretty easy. Then I wrote a few posts. Then I decided I needed a nice look to go along with my nice blog. I found a new theme and spent a while setting it up the way I wanted. Then I had to figure out a design and header for my blog. This took me forever. Much to my husband’s dismay I spent most of last weekend trying to get my design just right. Then I discovered that a lot of bloggers have button things on their blog. There went another day and a half of my life, trying to figure out how to make a blog button. And then, after wasting a day and a half of life on a tiny button, I discovered this handy tool. Thank you!!(But I made it. You can get it. Just go over there and grab it. Please. I worked really hard on it for you…)

Now I really like my blog’s look. It has a design I like. It has a custom header and button. It has ways you can contact me and a picture of my son and I. It feels good and it makes me happy. (And it looks pretty.)

Mostly it’s hard, because every time I try to sit down and dedicate some time to a post, I get interrupted by a tiny voice. “Mommy! I need choc-it mik! I need watch Ciff-urd big red ruff ruff! Mommy!!!” This post has been in progress for a while.

Now (in theory) I get to do the part of blogging that I came here to do in the first place; write. I often have many thoughts on my mind, and have been searching for a venue in which to explore them. I think this blogging thing could be really great for me, and I hope for you too. I hope that you find this blog, and that it is meaningful or relate-able to you. I hope this little corner of the internet brings you some little piece of joy, like I have found in so many of your blogs. Thank you for reading and thank you for letting me figure this blog thing out…a little at a time.

I don’t do New Year Resolutions, but apparently I have a lot of Personal Goals

I am not good with the whole New Year’s Resolution thing. In the past, I would make them and not follow through, so it really was a mute tradition. Finally I learned that about myself and stopped making them. My new plan for New Year’s Resolutions? No New Year’s Resolutions! Success! I was excellent on following through on nothing. Goooo me!

I followed the don’t-make-a-resolution plan for the past few years. This year, since our son is two and he can kind of start to understand some traditions (Christmas this year was so. much. fun!) we decided to talk about New Year’s Resolutions. I asked my husband what his resolution was, and he said he wanted to start eating healthier. I laughed at him and told him that was stupid. You know, because I’m a supportive wife like that. I mean, isn’t that the most over used resolution? I think I accidentally hurt his feelings, because he didn’t seem very excited about asking me what mine was. I think I had a luke warm premonition to start blogging.

New Year’s passed, no big changes were made at our house, and life went on. Then, at the end of January, I discovered that I’m a little bit fat. And I started to so something about it. So maybe my husband’s idea wasn’t really so bad after all. And this blogging thing? I’m totally doing that, too! I still have a lot to learn, but I am working on it almost every day.

The hubs and I have also set some financial goals for ourselves. The hope is to be in a much better financial place next year, and we are actively working towards that. For him, that means pulling some over time at work, and for me that means checking the bank account daily and not going on that Starbucks run or buying the little guy that super cute shirt at Target. I have to admit, it’s a little bit hard.

For someone who doesn’t believe in the whole New Year’s Resolution thing, I sure do have a lot of long-term goals lined up in front of me.  But they are goals I am excited about, and that help me become a better person physically, emotionally, and financially. And they are realistic things that I can do in baby steps. Maybe for this year’s New Year Resolution, I will try to remember not to laugh at my husband and tell him his ideas are stupid. Or something like that. I have to leave some room for improvement, right?