Tuesday, January 27, 2015

songs i never thought i'd like & things i never thought i'd do

Caleb and I have started listening to this song every morning after breakfast. It's not my usual jam, but Cabey nuzzles right into my shoulder and we dance around and it. is. perfect. 

I never knew how much I wanted to be a mom until I became one. It is the very best unexpected gift I've ever been given.

In college, yoga was my saving grace. Escaping the chatter in my mind, shedding my ego-based identity, even if only for a few minutes -- it changed me. It was the closest to a cure for my depression I'd ever come across. Giving that up when I became pregnant was so hard, but between my physical state, our tight budget, and time constraints, it just wasn't as accessible. So, after years of being OK, depression came roaring back in full-force shortly after Caleb was born.

I have never been more suicidal than I was last year. I daydreamed about death regularly, and I tested out what it would be like to asphyxiate myself.

In the back of my head, though, was that still small voice I'd become so accustomed to hearing during years of yoga: This is not who you are. It will be OK. The pain will pass.

Depressed, suicidal behavior is kind of like being drunk: In the back of your mind you know you're about to do something stupid, but you can't seem to stop yourself. You are at your own mercy. The postpartum chemicals raging in my brain took hold, and it required everything I had to cling to the whispered truths of that Still Small Voice.

When depression reared it's head again a few months ago, I took more immediate action, and I found exactly the counselor I needed to help me begin reclaiming my place in the light. 
I'm hesitant to say "it's over," but I've come so stinking far in the past few months. I know how to recognize when the dominoes are starting to topple (my number one sign is not showering). I've started meal planning and created a weekly chore chart for myself. When my energy levels are high, I take steps that will help "depressed Emy" down the road -- I'll make a freezer meal or two and tackle the more labor intensive cleaning projects. Washing out the bathtub is a big one: While a shower feels dang near impossible when I'm in the downward spiral, a hot bath is one of the few things that helps relax my hurting body and mind.

I've come to realize that true marriage and motherhood are Yoga in the School of Life. They are all about surrendering the "self" in the name of Love! In Catholicism we speak of sacrificial love -- well, what exactly are you "sacrificing" but your own selfishness and ego? My EVERYDAY EXISTENCE is a yoga practice. I can take all the tidbits I learned in that incredible hot room and apply them over and over and over again right where I am.

"Live to the point of tears."

This quote, by Albert Camus, is on a magnet I've had since high school. I used to think it was about absorbing the world around you, really being "in" it, and it spoke to my overly-sensitive self. Now I see it differently though. The breathtaking beauty of surrender to a life I never thought I wanted brings me to my knees and cracks me wide open. It is an aching, overwhelming, joyous point-of-tears I never knew existed before.

I am not the same person I was before I became a mother, and you know what? Thank God. 

This is so much better.

Images top to bottom: 1 | 2 | 3

Saturday, January 24, 2015

january bits + pieces

It's been sort of slow going around here. I feel like I have SO MUCH to write about, but I can't quite wrap my brain around all-the-everything yet. Eventually. 

In the meantime, a glimpse of the everyday this & that of our 2015 so far....

We rang in the new year in our PJs...

...while eating pizza. It was the best! Definitely the start of a new tradition.

Cabey learned to drive! ;) 
Cars are definitely high on his list of favorite things.

He also carts his "duggahs" (doggies) everywhere these days and loves to love on them.

Andy: "When does he start his boy band career?"

I celebrated the return of Downton Abbey with some bubbly (but haven't had a drink since--and I feel so much better! Not exactly super well-rested, mind, as I still have to work on getting to bed at a decent time. But better.).

Caleb is suddenly OBSESSED with cleaning supplies.
I think they even surpass his love of cars and dogs these days.

I mean, really.

But I guess he comes by it honestly :)
(I think I'm like one of those cool moms or something?!?!) (Or something.)

Ball pit heaven at the local community center.

Hot tea & a hot bath is good for the soul.

Guard cats.

Saying our bedtime prayers. Rosaries are delicious.

"You are covered in stars."
Late night meditation on Our Lady of Guadelupe, Patroness of the Unborn. 

Excited to begin a small group series for young moms on the Ten Virtues of Mary at a local parish, inspired in part by these gals.

So there you have it. I'm getting my balance back, and it is oh-so-good.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

big & little valentine's day tees

I'd love to get my guys these cheerful t-shirts for my for Valentine's Day. They're festive without being over-the-top.

For Andy: Friday Night Lights quote shirt by Will Bryant [Honestly, I'm inclined to get this for myself too! It's also available as an art print.]

Monday, January 19, 2015

monday's cup, no. 12

“If you can’t feed 100 people, then just feed one.” 
Mother Teresa

Image here

Saturday, January 17, 2015

what i'm reading now

Winter is my favorite time of year to read. As the days grow shorter, the stack on my nightstand gets proportionally taller, and I love it. Here's what I'm working through at the moment:

I picked this up on a whim while out Christmas shopping. Anyone endorsed by Mr. Rogers seems worth a try. Haven't started yet, but I have high hopes.

2 | A Mother's Rule of Life by Holly Pierlot

This book is CHANGING MY LIFE, no joke. Punk rock atheist-turned-homeschooling Catholic mom. Feels like she can't breathe under the weight of her household duties, financial woes, and childrearing. So she creates a way out. (Spoiler: The answer is not running away or selling her children to the gypsies.) Conversion stories/doubters are my favorite these days, and keeping Pierlot's "Five P's" in mind (prayer, person, partner, parenthood, provider - in that order) has already altered the landscape of my marriage & life in beautiful ways. Her "rule" also suits my routine-oriented personality so well. 

3 | A Permeable Life: Poems and Essays by Carrie Newcomer

My godmother gave me this book for Christmas and pointed me in the direction of Newcomer's On Being interview, and I'm officially hooked. So hooked, in fact, that I'll be flying down to Georgia at the end of March to see her perform live, courtesy of the aforementioned (fairy) godmother. Simplicity, gratitude, community... It's all here, and I want to soak up as much as I can.

4 | Jesus: A Pilgrimage by James Martin, SJ

I'll be honest, it's been extremely difficult for me to get down with the whole "Jesus" thing. The call to faith has been unwanted and annoying at times, like a fly buzzing around my ears or a repeated tap on the shoulder that I can no longer brush away or ignore. For many years, I've had a practice of imagining people I don't like or find repulsive as small children, since it is impossible for me not to love and forgive a very young child. At Christmas I had a stupidly huge revelation on the Jesus front: Start with the infant. I do not need to befriend Jesus the man; my path, my way in, is to love Jesus the child. I've had Martin's Pilgrimage on my nightstand since Caleb was born, but I think now I'm finally at a place where I'm open enough to, well, open it.

5 | Modern Calligraphy by Molly Suber Thorpe

Because I've gotta feed my left brain too, you know? Since leaving the classroom to stay home with Caleb, I've had the opportunity to create stationary for several friends and clients. This fall I designed a custom wedding suite, along with day-of paper goods, for two lovebirds. The digital aspect was fun and necessary, but doing the lettering for their place cards reaffirmed for me how much I LOVE and NEED to create with tangible materials and my own two hands. Hoping this book will help me hone my skills. Plus, it's a fantastic way to relax.

Clearly, I'm not so big into fiction at the moment. I think I gravitate towards a juicy story more in the summer, and then I tend to zip through books in a day or two. Winter, on the other hand, lends itself to a slow pace and deep processing. I'm good at that :)

What are you reading these days?

Thursday, January 8, 2015

a bundle of nerves at the foot of the cross

"My dear friends, let us love one another, since love is from God and everyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. Whoever fails to love does not know God, because God is love."
John 4:7-8

. . .

I posted this on Facebook late last night and wanted to share it here as well. It, like me, is imperfect, but it is the song of my heart right now. Love and compassion, in all things, even the smallest stuff. It's not an easy way of life, and we mess it up over and over again, but I still long for a world where it doesn't take such horrific acts of violence to remind us of its necessity. Breathe. Step. Hug. Repeat.

So. Many. Thoughts. 

One week in to 2015, and here it is again: Violence, tragedy, vitriol, all mixed up with support, hope, and courage... It's a lot to take in.

Can we all please remind ourselves that religion is NOT the same thing as fundamentalism? No matter which religion we're talking about. And religion itself is not inherently evil. But it IS made up of HUMAN BEINGS. Flawed bundles of ego and nerves and free will. In this way, we're all very much the same. Evil is so good at whispering in our ears and rationalizing our choices.

Mostly I stick to a policy of one foot in front of the other, hot baths, and doing my duties as a wife and mother to the best of my ability. I am still learning forgiveness, kindness, and to remember to always always ALWAYS ask: "What would love do?" I'm starting with myself, because I'd eventually like to set aside all the navel-gazing and be a presence of mercy and light and goodness. It's hard to do that when you're full of pain and self-loathing.

I'm doing the best I can, where I'm at, with what I've got. Setting the heaviest stuff down at the foot of the cross, wrapping myself in an invisible mantle of stars, and receiving Christ through the Eucharist week after week is changing my life in mind-blowing ways. I've been too shy to actually come right out and say so, but I'm seeing the disgust for what happened in France today morph into a disgust towards religion in general, so here it is: I love my Muslim friends, and I love my Catholic faith. I love the free speech that allows me to say so without any real threat other than my own inhibition and discomfort. Truly living the teachings of the Church is the most profoundly beautiful push outside my comfort zone I've ever experienced. 

Anti-theism will not solve anything.

What would love do?
Art by Lucille Clerc here

Monday, January 5, 2015

monday's cup, no. 11

“And I found that I can do it, if I choose to -- I can stay awake and let the sorrows of the world tear me apart and then allow the joys to put me back together, different from before but whole once again.” 
Oriah Mountain Dreamer

Image via

Friday, January 2, 2015

the big 2-9

In honor of my last year in my twenties, I took these awkward bathroom mirror selfies. And because my word of the year is courage, I'm actually sharing them.

I generally despise having my photo taken, and I only very rarely share pictures of myself here. But I guess today I'm saying: Why not?

So that's almost-29-year-old me up there. Hair and roots both longer than ever, no makeup, in my PJs.  (Although, I actually just had my first haircut since June. I broke down and sprung for highlights, too. Blonde may no longer be my natural color, but it's still my original color. I tried to grow it out, I really did. But I felt like the uncomfortable middle school version of myself -- that's about when my hair went dark -- and I HATED middle school. Even more than getting my picture taken, which is saying something. So, for now, highlights it is!)

In those pictures up there, though? I felt happy. Caleb was fast asleep, I'd just finished cleaning the kitchen, and I caught a glimpse of my curly hair and rosy cheeks in the mirror and thought: Hey, I like that person.

It was kind of a big deal.

The older I get, the more myself I feel. Today I'm taking myself out to wander, and tonight I'm going to dinner with my husband. I'm beyond excited for both. 

I love having a fresh start to a new year, two days in a row. 29, I think we're going to be good friends.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

welcome, new year!

This is my word for 2015. I have a strong mind and a bold heart, and this year I'd like to be brave enough to use them. To let the Holy Spirit work in me and through me, without being embarrassed to let others in on the source of that light.

. . .

"You fearful saints, fresh courage take
The clouds you so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
With blessings on your head."
William Cowper

. . .

"Be strong and stand firm. Be fearless and undaunted, for go where you may, Yahweh your God is with you."
Joshua 1:9