Esperanza Pie

Esperanza. Say it: [es-pay-rahn’-zah]. Feel it. Hope.

I am learning to have hope in all things good. Today was a lesson in hope. A lesson in goodness. A lesson in love and friendship. A day about worthy investments and doing things that matter with the people that matter.

Today I stepped into a space where hope blanketed my soul with her sweet aroma of peace and comfort. Baked at 400 degrees for 50 minutes until golden brown and crisp. Sweet Esperanza Peach Pie!

And I know it wasn’t about the pie. But the symbolism of coming together and creating something meaningful and good. Full of hope and friendship. I am filled. Thank you, my dear friend Cathy!  IMG_8232[1] IMG_8233[1]

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Doing one thing at a time

I hope you enjoy this article about doing one thing at at time like I did. It is definitely food for thought!

http://blogs.hbr.org/schwartz/2012/03/the-magic-of-doing-one-thing-a.html

Perhaps this is my answer to being more productive and focused. This week I will practice doing just one thing at a time and enjoy my down time.

Right now? I think I will go finish one of the six books that is lying neglected on my nightstand!

Follow up on ROOM

I thought I would take a moment and share more of my thoughts about the book I mentioned and finished a few weeks. If you haven’t read it yet, you probably would want to skip out on reading this post, as it may spoil it for you. But maybe not.

I just need to say that it was exactly what I needed to read. I don’t usually read fiction books, so when I picked this one up, it took me by surprise. Still being in a bit of a funk from the previous weeks (of emotional hell!) reading Room took me on a journey of personal introspection. I found myself feeling very connected to the little boy, Jack. The narrative he gave using his juvenile  language, his raw thoughts and bravery felt as if he was me as a child. I identified with his major reality change and the real terrifying feelings that those changes conjured up. But in the end, he was okay. A little scared and probably needing a few years of therapy, but okay. Like me.

He was me. In the 18 years since my reality change as a youth (divorce), I never have been able to voice the pain I felt. Until Jack said it for me. He was taken out of his perfect world where he knew nothing of the outside. To him, the 11×11 room was all he knew. His entire existence had been lived in that small space! So how could he know what he was missing? How could he understand what his mother was feeling, being hidden away and held captive from her world for 7 years? To Jack’s mother that 11×11 space was her death sentence, but to Jack it was his only reality. So imagine being taken out of the only thing that has been constant- now the world becomes Jack’s death sentence, but blissful freedom to his mother.

Room gave me a different perspective of my dear mother. I don’t fully understand everything about why she left, nor do I think it is necessary to really know anymore. The fact is that she felt trapped in her “11×11” space and broke out. Which ripped me from my comfortable, happy and naive existence. It was scary and difficult to adjust without her constant company. It felt like one day she was there, and the next she was gone. She was my 11×11, my safety. Adjusting was difficult, but I made it.

I don’t mean to make this sound like a “woe is me” story- its not. I needed to record my own little “coming to Jesus” feelings as I read Room. I really do feel like it altered my thoughts in such a dramatic way. I feel like I understand myself on a whole new plane. And I am closer to understanding my mother. And that is such good news.

In addition to all of that. I came away from the book with a new compassion for my own children. I must be more respectful of their realities as they grow. Yes, children are resilient, but change is difficult and can be damaging. I am so in love with their little selves. So in love. I am committed to doing all that is in my power to provide them with the continuity they need to grow into a better adult than I am. Preserving innocence, teaching adaptability and a love for people, learning and an understanding of who they really are– these are key components that each and every child needs for living the most peaceful and glorious life. No matter what size of “room” you grow up in.

Room

Looking for a good book to read? One that just may change your life? Do yourself a favor and go get this book by Emma Donoghue.
After seeing it on a friends Goodreads list, (thank you Emily!) I started reading this book last week and couldn’t put it down. If I didn’t have a real life, I would have been able to finish it in one sitting. It was that captivating. I finished it last night and now cannot tell if reading the book was as good as therapy, or if I need therapy now! Either way, my life is forever changed.

That’s all on that for now. Just go read the book if you haven’t. And if you have read it, what did you learn from this book? (No spoilers, please!)

http://www.roomthebook.com/

Breaking up with Facebook

Its been nearly two weeks since I decided to pull the plug on my Facebook account. I am still not 100% clear as to why I left. There are people who leave because of privacy concerns. There are conspiracy theorists like Anonymous and their followers who think FB is going to take over the world or something crazy like that…whatever.
And then there are people like me who for one small reason or another realize that Facebook consumes all together way too much time of my day, my thoughts, and not to mention my picture taking! So, because I am terrible with time management, and I don’t really want to feel like I am being babysat by some program on my computer that regulates my time on FB, or any other site for that matter, I decided to just get rid of it all together. Although perhaps a program like that would work well for others. I’d just reset my time! Extreme? Maybe.

I do miss catching up on people’s lives, seeing pictures of new babies and fun adventures. But I do not miss the wasted time. Not one bit. I hope to direct that time toward my home, my children and to this blog. With Facebook gone, it is now up to me to reach out and create meaningful real relationships. It seemed with Facebook, all I had to do was post a picture or say something clever and, BOOM, I had recognition, debate, praise, “likes”. It was so simple. Yet I could sit in the same room with most of these people and not have a thing to say (unless the conversation began like this: “did you see that post on Facebook?…”) And that’s just too bad.

On the other hand, I do miss the instant communication that was available with my neighbors. “Do you have an egg?” or “I’m selling my office chair.” A phone call a knock on the door, or a late night trip to the store are now my options. And those are fine options, but certainly not as convenient. There are really great things about Facebook. For one, it was the main source of advertisement for this blog! Needless to say, my readership has gone down. I do want readers. I want to be heard. And that was why I did enjoy having Facebook. (Perhaps you’ll share The Sycamore?) People out there “listened”, but I usually have much more to say than what I can post in a Facebook status. Not having that little outlet should bolster my blog writing.  And this kind of writing always feels good to my heart. I am that girl who has 20+ journals on my book shelf from a lifetime of writing. Sadly, filling up my journals has taken a slower pace. My hand starts to hurt after just a few minutes of writing with my trusty old pen. That is really sad!

I go back and forth on my decision to delete. Facebook does not make it easy, or enticing to leave its multi billion member interface.  You can just “deactivate” your account, or you can actually delete it. But if you or one of your devices logs on like you did before, all of your requests are voided and you’ll have to click that delete button again. Before I cut the cord, I downloaded a copy of my entire Facebook existence so I have all of the conversations, all the photos, comments and most importantly, the thread of my son’s home birth. There are 14 days before the account is actually deleted completely. If I log on anytime before the the “scheduled deletion date”, it will not be deleted. They really really don’t want me to go!
I may or may not be back.  I have to laugh because I do have a Twitter account that I have been using a bit more the past few days. (Follow me there @thesycamoregirl) and I’ve been writing here more, which is feels so good!

We’ll see how connected I can become without the aid of Facebook.  I just need to get back to me, void of all the distractions, propaganda and other things that made me compare myself to others in a negative way. Interestingly enough, I once read this on Facebook: “You were born an original.  Don’t die a copy.”  ~John Mason

For me, I was beginning to feel a little like I was just a copy.  It felt like I was losing my authenticity. And that was enough to click delete.

Sitting with Prestige

This past week, my husband’s job took him to Park City where he spent the better part of each day dealing with the AV and other technological needs of a group of Anesthesiologists. This was their annual gathering where doctors from around the world came to listen in on the most recent updates in the anesthesia world. Pretty prestigious if you ask me. I took some time and joined my husband for a few of the last days of the conference. I took advantage of the luxurious amenities at the resort while he worked. Sans kids, it was wonderful!

On the last evening of the conference we attended a very nice dinner party. What follows is what I learned from that evening:

By passing the valet, we walked into an elegant, yet rustic club house.  We were greeted kindly by a gentleman who knew my name, shook hands and exchanged thank you’s  as we meandered into the dining area. As the doctors milled in with their dates and cocktails, I became keenly aware of the insecurity that wells up when you don’t know anyone in the room but your spouse.  My deep introverted tendencies came flooding to the surface, (what? you’ve never seen me be inverted or insecure? its there- I assure you!), and I found myself clinging to the corner of the room where a few other people were waiting around. Part of me said that perhaps I’d feel more comfortable with a wine glass in my hand, while the other part of me felt okay with chilling in the background. But I knew I was missing out on something.

I followed my husband around the room while talking to a few people, making awkward conversation, and then finally we decided to sit down with a group of people he worked closely with every day in the office: two very pleasant gals and a gentleman. We made small talk, joked about how my husband really dislikes  desserts and then the conversation died down. We were left to chat with each other quietly under the loud roar of the other tables gregarious with laughter and gestures. Maybe it was all of the alcohol.

My husband and I looked around and started doing some tallying. It seemed that the average income level at the other tables was between $350,000 and $500,000 (maybe more?) annually, while our little table probably averaged out at about $40,000. Hmm. Now, I do not mean to make this sound shallow and only about money. This isn’t about money. But there was a point in our quiet conversation where we stopped and asked each other, why did we sit here? There were about 5 other tables that we could have sat down at and had the opportunity to mingle with new people, from different places, about different topics that we had never explored before. It would have been perhaps a little uncomfortable, a little strange engaging in unknown conversations, but it would have been challenging in a positive way. I think that learning to be a little uncomfortable is important in the growing process on the way to successfully developing and trying yourself.

Naturally, we took the easy way out and sat with familiar people, familiar, mundane conversation (which, admittedly, was just as much OUR fault as anyone’s!) and the comfort of not having to stretch ourselves socially. We missed out. First, because I didn’t stretch myself and bring up topics of conversation to engage us all. I was lazy.  And secondly, we missed out because I was scared to talk to people who I felt were beyond my social status reach. I missed out on rubbing shoulders with “successful” people that evening. I missed out on making new authentic connections. And I did them the disservice also, by not letting them peer into me for an evening.

The money factor was staring us in the face and since that evening, I have thought about what large amounts of money mean to me. To me, when I meet someone who has done well for themselves, I am automatically full of respect for them. I see their ability to work hard, and smart. I see business-sense, networking and social intelligence. I see someone who is cultured and well-rounded. And I realize that it was not the MONEY that brought those attributes, but it was those wonderful characteristics that helped them expand their earning potential.

These are the people I want to surround my life with. Whether there are large amounts of money involved or not, it is the people who are strong of character, passion, confidence and social finesse that I want to know. For you become most like those you associate with. To me being a successful person is a package deal. It is being able to start and maintain meaningful conversation with a complete stranger. It is helping someone feel comfortable and positive. Success is realizing your talents and utilizing them for the betterment of yourself, others and for the building of a community where you are respected and admired. It is making money with these skills and creating value with that money.

I realize that success is a very subjective term. And I certainly don’t mean to say that the people we mingled with that evening were not successful. I’m sure they have done very well for themselves in many ways. In all actuality,  they were just like us. But if we always associate with people who are just like us, how can we grow?

After that evening, my husband and I made a promise to each other that in future social settings we will do our best to reach out to others around us. We will sit at the table with the highest average “salary” (perhaps literally, perhaps figuratively) and we will do our part to boost the average. We will sit with prestige, so that we will be just that.

The last three days

I’m about done writing about this damn juice fast. I’m so over it.

Only…I’m not.

I’ll be honest, it made me a bit wacky. Like “midlife crisis” wacky. Okay, okay- it wasn’t just the juice fast. It was me. But I’ll tell you, nothing could have prepared me for the emotional junk that just keeps seeping out of me. I haven’t really come back from it all yet…I feel a little on the melancholy side. And I’ve just been letting myself hang out here for a bit. Because maybe I just need to be here and feel. There is something to learn here, and I’ll take what I can get.

I see just how much power over myself I really do have. I have power to decide to eat, or cleanse, or sleep, or exercise, brush my hair, or put on make-up, or smile, or interact with others…or not. Its all up to me. And what I decide has a lot to do with how I feel. Or rather, the things I do have an affect on my emotional state. Duh, right? Ya.

Going on a juice fast has reminded me of this very thing. Let me explain. When we go about our everyday lives, we do so without much thought. We wake up, eat, shower, get dressed…yada yada- we go through our routines as they unfold. We do what works because it always has. And there is little to disrupt that routine (I use “routine” very broadly), unless we decide to change it. Making a calculated change for 10 days (theoretically), even though it was my choice, threw me for a loop. I know, I know- you get it. It was difficult. But really, I don’t think you will understand unless you do this yourselves and realize just how much your being is used to being a certain way. And then, poof! You change your way of being. I think I may now have a greater appreciation for the pain it must be to come off of a drug, or quitting smoking, or overcoming any addiction. Holy moly! I learned compassion for many people I know who have gone through just that. I feel embarrassed for judging.

It is not just food guys. Its a way of being. And choosing that. Yes, the health benefits of doing any type of cleanse are amazing! Detox, weight loss, clearer skin, better hair, clean bowels (I almost wrote clean bowls…and that would also be true, because you don’t use any!). I now realize that a “cleanse” means the Whole Enchilada- your Body, Mind and Spirit. All things physical, emotional and Mental.

So while I’m now enjoying yummy things like this and my amazing veggie tostadas, my Spirit is still on the repair. I’m still sorting and tossing. Still deciding to get back to a better way of being.

It may take me another ten days.

Swimming the River

I never thought that I would be in the category of women who experienced postpartum depression. But I am.

When I had my first child, I was in the blissful land of Motherhood for the first time and I just did not understand how anyone could have any negative feelings during that new sacred time. Cloud Nine was a wonderful place. And then around my daughters first birthday, I finally came down from that euphoric feeling. I experienced a mild sadness in the realization of where I had been emotionally and where I was sinking to. It was like the end of your favorite roller coaster ride. The ride is wild, up and down and fast, but you can’t wipe that silly smile off of your face. And then the ride ends and you are left with a wonderful memory, but you have to get off. And its like, BAM!-over and blah. Such a contrast. Not depressing, just a little bit of a downer.

I thought that would be my bout with postpartum symptoms.

Fast forward two years and enter stage left child number two. The pregnancy was good, the child huge (we’re talking 11lbs huge) the birth plan perfect.  The space was perfect down to the color of paint on my walls and the playlist of music. My home birth unfolded without too much of a hitch. (If you don’t count the size of my baby or the hemorrhaging afterwards…) I had all the wonderful support a mother could want.

But something was just off.

The only way I can describe it is that suddenly I was feeling EVERYTHING. It took me by surprise because I realized that I had gotten pretty good at not feeling things, as a coping mechanism. I was in a state of constant trance-like melancholy. And to be honest, I think I liked it. And all in the same thought I said to myself often: “What is happening to me?”

There is a lot more to my experience going through that time, but my intent here is not to go through that again, but to share with you that if you think you are going through similar things (either BEFORE of AFTER the birth of your baby), there is help. There are resources, forums, -an ENTIRE community of people wholly devoted to getting the word out about Postpartum Depression and helping women in need. I have found peace in just reading the blogs and websites of other women who experienced this, some worse than others.

For me, the key has been to “lean into the discomfort” and work my way through the emotions. Actually letting myself feel when something was welling up helped me explore emotions that I had not experienced in years. In a way, it was refreshing and I found myself feeling like I didn’t ever want to come out of the place I was in. Strange? Maybe.

I learned to respect and protect that sacred postpartum time where I truly was “cycling so close to heaven” (as my loving midwife explained to me). Those first six weeks were difficult for me in so many ways that I just don’t have words for. From my experience, I feel I have gained a greater compassion for new mothers around me. And believe me, I am surrounded by them!

Below are a few wonderful resources that I have skimmed from during the past year as I’ve been swimming to the other side of this river called Postpartum Depression. I hope that if you are experiencing PPD, or know of anyone that is, you will find the support you need. There are so many women who understand. So speak up.

 

 

Postpartum Progress  This site laid out in dimple terms the symptoms of PPD so that I could understand and more easily see that I was indeed experiencing PPD.

Beyond Postpartum is a blog that I have recently stumbled upon. One of my favorite posts is called: “Baby Products that Lead to Unrealistic Expectations in New Moms”. Its so perfect!

Living Self Care. If you are not already a follower of this blog/website, I highly recommend you add your name to the list of readers. While this site is not specifically about PPD, they publish daily essays that help us remember to take care of ourselves so that we can take care of others. I love particularly that the authors are pulled from a wide pool of people, so its not the same person writing all the time. I have a close friend who has an essay published, that is great.

The Healing Group A group of therapists who specialize in Women’s Health. If you live in my area, I highly recommend The Healing Group.

 

The list of resources is endless. You could spend hours just following link after link after link reading of others’ experiences and seeing that you are not alone. For me, doing just that was enough for me to come through it relatively unscathed. But the truth is, I am a changed woman. And I don’t really want to go back to the Me before all of this. I guess this is where Wisdom is grown, through tough experiences like this. Some day. I hope that you, too, will gain wisdom through the madness.

Reflecting

As I sit here eating these, (BEST ever, btw) my niece is sitting on the couch with her friend watching old home videos. I can’t believe it has been (at least) 10 years since we took that camping trip. My niece is sweet and tells me I have not aged one bit! (Actually, the truth is, the girl in those videos was one who was carrying her Freshman Fifteen, and thankfully that has changed.)

Dear niece has been with me since Thursday. Her dad (my brother) has come home from Iraq and right now he is on a little get away with his wife trying to re-group after having been gone for nearly a year. What a year.

And I just cannot help but think: No daughter should have to do this twice. Two deployments. Afghanistan. Iraq. Two divorces. How many times can you “lose” your dad in a lifetime?

Caught between two parents who love her dearly and her own “coming to fruition” of who she is and wants to be- what a ride. I sure love her sass, her independence and her ability to think maturely about her life and all the battles going on in it. She is really on her game, a rock star in so many ways. Beautiful, talented, witty, responsible, funny. And she reminds me of myself in so many ways. We get along.

I cannot help but remember what it was like for me. Caught in the middle.  Divorce is never a pretty scene, even when parents do their best to be civil. And the children are always the ones who get the short end of the stick. Put into that equation the remarrying of parents, and you get a whole new dynamic of emotional roller coasters where you feel like if you could just throw up everything would be better. Only you cannot throw up. You must brace each day and learn new coping skills. You must press on with the faith that the ride will be over soon and you can just get off.

It took more than five years for that roller coaster ride for me to be over. Five years of adolescence Being. Ugh. (Including and not limited to: hormones, zits, bad boyfriends, shallow friendships, terrible grades, even more terrible decisions, depression, rebellion, going through the motions, long days at work on purpose, eating disorders, lying, crying, shutting down, etc…)  Yeah. It was a rough time. But mostly because I made it so. It is so silly in hindsight. I am embarrassed at my behavior. But it was those tumultuous  years that shaped what I have learned and who I have become. It was that time that showed me my strength (which is a grand thing), courage and my ability to be better than I was.

I often wonder, “Was that my trial in life? Being a child of Divorce?” And if not, what else is coming my way? I know we are not all issued just one hardship. I know some people who have gotten two!  But in all seriousness, I am grateful that I went through all of that as a teenager just for the fact that I can relate to my niece who faces much of what I did. We all need someone to relate to. And even though I am 15 years her senior, I feel a closeness and a bond that I treasure. I just hope that she can see it too and believe that despite it all, everything will be alright.

Especially when we decide to make it alright.

*****

Change

Soon after the birth of my son (baby #2), I felt myself being stuck. I was down. Blue. Very melancholy and just all around blah. But the interesting part about it was that I actually liked it. I was experiencing emotions that had been buried for so long- I did not even know what to do with them! My poor husband! On the other hand, that place I was in was a motivating factor for me. I saw where I was and where I wanted to be. In fact, I wrote all about that place here.

During that time, I had an email exchange with a dear friend from high school. She and I have been in touch off and on since we graduated. It is amazing that she and I have chosen much of the same things in the way we choose to live our lives. (Natural living, home birth, reading, spirituality) Although I’d wager that she is more of an Intellectual than I am. And I’m okay with that.

Anyhow, I thought I would share Mel’s words with you because they helped me so much. I hope she doesn’t mind…

*****

Holly –

I’m sorry you’ve been feeling hints of those darn winter/baby blues. Change is challenging and stretching and beautiful and some days downright hard. I think the transition of adding children is particularly multi-faceted. We want to add to our families, we know it will bring unmeasured joy, but this quote has always spoken to the feelings I’ve had moving from one to two and then two to three:

All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another. -Anatole France

There is a loss of what previously was and never again will be. In those moments of frustration, sadness, or whatever the emotion of the moment is, perspective is our salvation. There are so many sweet reminders that the new normal is full of adventure, joy, wonder, and growth. It is the plan of God that we may learn to love as much as our mortal hearts can possibly bear. It is His plan that we learn to sacrifice that which we didn’t think we could – our time, energy, preferences, ideas of things as we think they “should be” etc. And the process is refining, beautiful, and wholly Godlike.

A recent essay in the Chronicle of Higher Education made the following point (ht: Andrew Sullivan):

“I for one am afraid that American culture’s overemphasis on happiness at the expense of sadness might be dangerous, a wanton forgetting of an essential part of a full life. I further am concerned that to desire only happiness in a world undoubtedly tragic is to become inauthentic, to settle for unrealistic abstractions that ignore concrete situations. I am finally fearful of our society’s efforts to expunge melancholia. Without the agitations of the soul, would all of our magnificently yearning towers topple? Would our heart-torn symphonies cease?”

We shun sadness, but yet we worship a weeping God. A God who knows all there is to know of sadness and heartbreak. And we strive to be like Him. That means we strive to feel, experience, and to some extent come to understand and maybe even embrace sadness. And that’s an uncomfortable thought and reality.

Feeling that melancholy is a beautiful process of this mortal experience thing. Love it. And then let it pass by and choose joy.

*****

I have reflected often on these words. About how we must die to one life before we can grow into another and how it is important to feel the Ups and Downs of life. About how dealing with Change is Godly. What a beautiful thing that is. I am grateful for this realization. I should report that since I have been aware of this, things have gotten better. I still have those days. However at times, I enjoy their presence because it reminds me that I am Real. Part of being Real is feeling and changing and being okay with processing all of it.

I don’t really have anything that I can add to what has already been said.

If you have struggled with postpartum emotions or just have a difficult time dealing with Change, I hope that Mel’s words will help you like they have me. I am so grateful for them!