June 30, 2017

Dealing with Grief as a Mom

I stood frozen in my living room shocked to hear that a student I loved was being taken off life support. I was stunned and heartbroken. I could not pull it together. I cried in front of all three of my kids throughout the day. It felt as if I was coming apart at the seams and I hated it ~ even felt guilty for it.

As I apologized for my tears, my kids asked me why I was apologizing. It's normal to cry when you lose someone, they reminded me. 

1. Our children need to see our tears, it lets them know crying is normal.

They were right but I wrestled with feeling ridiculous, narcissistic and weak. Tracing it back, I found somewhere along my life I'd picked up the belief that mothers shouldn't cry in front of their children. When I examined that thought, I realized I didn't want to hang onto it. I wouldn't expect that from any of my friends so why was I telling myself that lie?

2. We need others to help us process; we shouldn't do it alone.

Sharing tears with my kids and telling them some of my hurt felt healthy; but I didn't want to burden them too much with the full heaviness of my grief. So when my husband came home, I asked him to listen while I talked about my student and what she meant to me. He took my hand and listened. As I poured out stories about her, fluctuating between laughing and sobbing, I felt relief. Something inside lightened a bit.

A few days later, she died. My best friend called and asked me to come for coffee. She knew I was struggling and that it would be difficult. We sat and talked for hours about how we'd miss this young girl. I felt a bit lighter. I wasn't carrying the burden alone.

3. Be honest about what you need.

I ended up speaking at the funeral, giving a few remembrances. It was emotional but good. I felt empowered to be able to share stories and thoughts about this beautiful girl.

But afterwards, I was exhausted and hungry. I didn't really want to go home yet. My son was with me, a high-schooler, and I felt a bit silly asking, but knew I should be honest about what I needed. So I asked if he'd be willing to go eat with me at a place my student had told me to try. It was a place with vegan options and she was sure I'd love it. My son agreed and we went. Sitting in that restaurant felt like a connection with her, eating the food she knew I'd like and making her a part my life. It was beautiful closure on a difficult day.

Doing these three simple things allowed me to process grief in a way my children and others could help me with. Grief is part of life and our kids will know it soon enough. Letting them see how we deal with it can paint a picture for them of how they can deal with it too.

How have you dealt with grief in front of your children or others?

June 28, 2017

Travel: Staycation Airbnb

We stayed at this adorable airbnb downtown to celebrate our kids being out of school and the beginning of summer. It was the weekend of Mayfest, an art festival in Tulsa every year, and we decided to do a staycation rather than travel. We love doing this periodically to explore our city. Staying somewhere new helps us feel "away" enough to enjoy our vacation, but less expensive and time consuming than leaving town.

(I love the peeling wallpaper in the bathroom! But if I tried that, it would just look unfinished. How do they make it look so good?!)

The first night it rained really hard so we weren't able to make the festival, but we stayed indoors playing cards and snacking. The living room had a record player with local artists on vinyl that we really enjoyed! It encouraged impromptu dance parties. Sometimes a rainy night spend indoors is the best connector for a family of five.

Saturday we spent our day at the festival drooling over beautiful art and eating horrible but delicious festival food.

It was a great start to summer break!

Have you ever stayed at an airbnb? Do you like stay-cations?

June 26, 2017

July Challenge: Get Up, Move!

Who's up for a new challenge? I love a good one. There's something invigorating about choosing an experiment with a time limit and stretching myself to complete it. It's usually in the nerd category (read 52 books in a year) or a minimalist one (wear only 10 items). But lately I've been seeing a need to push myself physically. I am not gifted with athletic abilities; at least I don't think so, but I've never worked too hard to find out.

I'd like to take the summer to incorporate more movement in my day. I'm not going to marathon level, but just more consistent exercise. Less sitting, more moving!

I've found that my favorite forms of exercise are yoga, walking and hiking. While hiking only happens occasionally, yoga and/or walking could be pursued daily.

So here's the plan, if you wanna join in, I'm going to do this 30 Day Yoga Challenge with Adriene from YouTube starting July 1st. Yes, I know that's a Saturday, but I think it's good to start on a slow day.

That may not sound like much to you exercise gurus out there, but for us couch potatoes, this is big! I believe in starting small so I can succeed. It will encourage me to continue adding more healthy habits to my routine with a few successes under my belt.

I plan to combine exercising with something that's already in my routine. For me, that helps it morph into a habit. I'm thinking I'll do it while my coffee is brewing. Starting the coffee pot is a pretty solid habit, so it'd just be redirecting myself to the yoga mat instead of sitting down browsing Instagram.

How do you fit movement into your day? Do you prefer it to be solitary or a social? Do you want to do the challenge with me? 

I'll be posting my progress along the way on Instagram under the hashtag #GetUpMove2017, join me there if you like and we can encourage each other! I'll also be posting about my progress here weekly.

June 19, 2017

What I Want My Children to Know

I want my children to know that they are:

1. Worthy ~ whatever the world says, I want you to know you are always worthy. Your worth doesn't lie in what others say about you or what they do. It lies in being human. You're worthy because you exist.

2. Capable ~ whether you feel it or not, you are capable. You are capable of adapting, of learning of doing new things, and of changing.

3. Inventive ~ you may not feel it sometimes, but you are inventive. You have billions of ideas and endless solutions hidden in your mind waiting to be uncovered.

4. Leaders ~ quietly or loudly, you are leaders. You have a troupe who learn from you and follow you. I want you to be brave enough to step up and lean into your leadership.

5. World changers ~ you already have a global prospective that I never had at your age and your compassion for others moves me. You have the ability to change things about the way you live, how you educate others and become activists to change the world.

6. Adaptable ~ sometimes life changes or we change and it may seem that changing is hard, but I want you to know you are adaptable. You will be able to change with change, regardless of how difficult it may be at the time. You will learn to adapt and with that, grow.

7. Growing ~ you have the ability to be ever growing in your love of others, your knowledge, your strength and your compassion. Don't stop. Push yourself in this area because it will season you and better your entire life.

8. Imaginative ~ you are bursting with creativity. I've seen it alive and blooming. Don't let it die. Add a little sprinkle of imagination in all you do, whether it's thinking outside the box at work or adding art and music to the world.

9. Beautiful ~ you are beautiful inside and out. Don't anyone or any social construct determine how you feel about yourself. Know that true beauty reaches farther than skin deep. Embrace the strengths you have and enjoy them.

10. Brilliant ~ no matter what grades you make/made or what judgement others pass on you, you are brilliant. I've seen your brilliance and can attest to it. You come up with solutions when none are there, you reach the inner pain of someone when no one else can, and you find laughter in the midst of sorrow. You are brilliant, use that brilliance to help others.

What would you add? What do you want the kids of this generation to know?

June 14, 2017

There's Comfort in Uncertainty

Feeling certain has it's perks. It's safe. It's familiar. You know what you're getting. I'm the type of person that dives head first into certainty and often has to back up. It just feels so good to be certain of something.

The problem is, in reality there is very little certainty.

I found this out through an unusual path. It wasn't a death or tragedy that disrupted my belief in certainty. It was through books; through my love of learning and reading that I began to uncover the awful truth that:

Certainty is rare.

Deeply held beliefs of mine were suddenly called into question. I began to examine them from an outsider's view and they no longer made any sense. I'll be honest, I was crushed. I cried every night for months. Sometimes tears would appear in the middle of the day and surprise me.

I began to wonder if I would ever feel safe again. Would I be able to live in a world where things are so unsettled? So uncertain?

I realize this shows how unconnected I was with the world around me. There are many people who have no choice but to see through the lens of terrible uncertainty. Admitting my surprise of it only demonstrates how privileged a life I've lived. Frankly, it's embarrassing how long it took me to see it.

But I'm awake now.

And slowly, I've learned to find a weird kind of comfort in uncertainty. There is a beauty in not knowing something. It gives room for wonder and mystery. In the past, I only enjoyed mystery when the answers would be forthcoming. But now, I'm learning to embrace mystery as it is, no limits or ending.

Uncertainty has brought me to a place of listening better. Being uncertain of my stance, I find myself learning from others and their opinions. I'm no longer the one with the answers. I am a student of new ideas and different perspectives.

I'll admit, I still look back longingly at the days of certainty and wish for that world. But I'm learning to accept this one and find comfort in the beauty of uncertainty.

June 12, 2017

5 Happy Goals

5 Happy Goals

Setting goals can be a joy and a curse. The planning stage is bliss, full of possibilities and wonder. But once the pursuit begins, it can feel like an obligation. Our family has had lots of changes this year, nothing bad, just busy and I've found myself feeling anxious. So I felt it was time to create some goals for myself to get my mind occupied. But the thought of having to accomplish a bunch of things didn't sound too calming either. So I decided to start with Happy Goals instead. Goals just for fun's sake ~ goals to make me happy! If I like it, I may do it monthly. Feel free to join in and make your own happy goals. We can cheer each other on!

1.  Blog more.  I love blogging. It seems that anytime life pulls me away from it, I end up returning in the long run. There is something invigorating about creating a post and putting out there for the world to see.

2.  Paint two abstracts. Painting is the most calming experience for me. It allows me to process things I have trouble thinking through while also allowing me to play with color and beauty.

3.  Go swimming. This sounds like a no-brainer for summer. But now that my kids are older, they don't need me with them at the pool so I don't go much. And I LOVE swimming! We have a neighborhood pool literally down our street. I even got a new swimsuit this year that I actually like! There really is no excuse, this one needs to be crossed off ASAP.

4.  See a movie at the drive-in. I noticed Wonder Woman is playing there this week! How cool would that be? The only drawback was it was paired with Baywatch . . . ew, what were they thinking?

5. Get a sno-cone at Josh's Sno Shack. There are so many flavors and it just sounds refreshing. (Watermelon is the best!) Now I'm just making myself thirsty.

Okay those are my happy goals for this month! I'll let you know how many I manage to cross off. If you do it too; I'd love to see your list!