Wednesday, June 28, 2017

sick day.

Nolan takes longer than usual to go down for his nap, and once he does, I turn on Wild Kratts for Cal and disappear into my book. Once he passes the hour mark that means I have to start feeling guilty, I pause the show and ask him what he wants to do.

"Let's do a project!" he cries which in essence means, "Let's make a huge mess!"

I kneel on the floor and rest my head on the couch, willing myself to be a fun mom. It's day four of this horrible cold and I'm hardly feeling any better. "Mama, are you sleeping?" he asks.

"No, I'm sick," I answer, and Cal creeps away. I hear him rustling around in the kitchen, and I'm afraid to look up and see the havoc his unsupervised project is wreaking. I drift into sleep for a minute or ten, I can't tell.

Little knees wedge themselves under my arms. "Mama, Mama, wake up," Cal says.

"I don't want to, baby," I whine, our roles reversed for a minute. "I'm sick."

Something cold presses against my fingers. "I got you some water, Mama." He sits back and smiles.

I almost start crying at this small act of tenderness by my little boy whose brain is just starting to wire for empathy. "Oh, thank you Cal! That was helping! Thank you!" He nods, pleased with himself. I quickly swallow back the water, get to my feet.

"Okay, Cal. Let's make something."

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Sand castles.

Last weekend, we camped on the Olympic Peninsula. We spent most of our twenty-four hour visit on the beach, searching for sea creatures and running in the waves. 

I stayed up at camp while Nolan napped, then hiked down the bluff to Scott and Cal building a sand castle on the beach. Cal was digging with his fingers in the dirt like a little turtle, making a a moat around his fortress. 

The sand was littered with crab and mussel shells, castoffs from the eagles' and crows' meals that day. As I stood watching the waves (with Nolan clutching on to me like a little koala bear, like always), I decided Cal's mound of dirt needed a little decoration. I started picking up shells and placing them randomly on the sand castle. Soon all four of us were searching for shell fragments and pressing them into the sand. 

The tide was coming in, and soon sea foam was frothing in Cal's little moat. Soon the sand castle would melt back into the sea. The waves would scatter the shells, and they would revert back to carcasses instead of precious decorations. The cynical voice that stows away in the corner of my brain said, "Why do this, when it's just going to disappear? What's the point?" (The Existentialist unit in AP Literature seriously traumatized me). 

Fortunately, the hopeful voice in my heart is better nourished than my inner skeptic these days. We made the sand castle because our spirits yearn to create. We studded it with pearly shells and broken sand dollars because we love beauty, no matter how fleeting, no matter how imperfect. 

All societies make art. It has no clear biological purpose, but it's present throughout history--we walk through museums to wonder at it, turn on music in the car to be immersed in it, read a few words by lamplight before slipping into sleep. Give a family a few hours and some raw materials and we will build a palace; give me an experience and a few raw words and I will try to shape it into a story. 

The waves will erode our creation, but we keep building. I don't know if my words will reach anyone beyond my small circle of influence, or if they will be swallowed by the web of the internet, but I'll keep writing. Even if no one else will see them, I'll keep building sand castles. 

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

100 breaths.

In the creativity course I'm taking, we are focusing on Space this month. Space to create, space to be a woman in addition to a mother, space to breathe.

Unfortunately, space is closing in, rather than opening up. 

Erin Loechner revealed in an interview that she wakes up at 2 am each day (!!), going to bed by 7 pm in order to be well rested. While 2 am is a stretch for me, I think conceivably I could work my way back to 4 am. I tried to be smart about it. Last week, I set my alarm for 5. This week, it's been 4:30. 

I skipped my hour long writing session after dinner Monday night in order to be up by 4:30 on Tuesday. I overslept, and planned to skip cleaning up after dinner--only to receive a phone call from our property manager. The realtors were coming over to take photographs of our house at 11:30, and could I tidy up a bit? 

Insert groan here. 

I was up until 10:30 cleaning, and decided I would grit my teeth and just get up at 4:30 am anyway. I'd just be tired for one day, in order to get myself in this routine (and I have some deadlines that I need to meet). 

Unfortunately, Nolan woke up at 4:29, and refused to go back down in his crib. Rather than wake the whole house and have him be ready for a nap by 9 am, I settled into the rocking chair and tried to get comfortable until everyone else woke up an hour or so later. 

Nolan wasn't having it, though. My Fitbit alarm kept going off, and he was curious about the flashing lights and vibrations coming from my wrist. Then he spent several minutes bemoaning his skinned knee, pointing to the scab, and saying, "Ouch, ouch," mournfully. (It's his first big "owie," and he's been milking it). 

I was getting tense and angry--not the way I wanted to start my morning. I was going to be sleep-deprived and I wasn't getting any writing done, not to mention that if Nolan didn't go to sleep soon, he wasn't going to let me put him down all day long. 

Nolan started poking me in the eye. "Eye!" He grabbed my nose. "Nose!"

I took a deep breath, turned my face from his jabbing fingers, and decided to take one hundred slow breaths. 

The first thing that happened as my body relaxed was that Nolan was able to relax, too. By breath 25 he was nuzzled under my arm, pacifier dropped from his slack mouth. 

Next, I found myself reasoning out how to get through the day. No, it wasn't ideal that I wasn't going to meet my goals for the day, or that I would be tired, but it was one day. I rested my head on Nolan's silky one, smelling his baby shampoo. My impatience ebbed away, replaced with a sense of peace. 

Around breath 99 I started dozing off. I woke up half an hour later and read my scriptures, prayed, read a magazine, and read a chapter of an ebook. 

I hadn't planned on spending two and a half hours trapped in a rocking chair with a sleeping toddler on my chest, but when Cal barreled into the room at 7, Nolan blinked those sleep lashes a few times, exclaimed, "Mama!" and hugged my neck. And I was able to enter the day peacefully and circled by love. 

I know I won't be able to take 100 breaths every time my plans go awry. Lack of flexibility is my downfall, and I'll probably be working on it for the rest of mortality. But today, letting my mind and body slow and rest brought peace to a day I thought would be fraught with stress. I've tried meditation programs with varying degrees of success, but I think this one that came to me in desperation at 4:30 in the morning might be the one I need. 

How do you find calm when you're stressed? 

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

you might be a millennial woman if...


:: you've ever taken a hand-lettering course

:: you've debated the virtues of Instagram stories vs. Snapchat

:: you know what millennial pink is (and it's your favorite color)

:: you own a Letterfolk board

:: you've practiced your cursive on Instagram stories

:: you own at least one piece of hand-stamped jewelry

:: you're more likely to buy something if the company donates a portion of your purchase to a person in need (TOMS, Bombas, Malawi Pizza)

:: you write in a bullet journal

:: you've donated to a Kickstarter or Patreon fund

:: you've done a Whole30

:: you listen to podcasts

:: you've said "hashtag" in a normal sentence

:: you've ever made a live stream video of yourself on social media

:: you buy all your clothes from tiny online boutiques

:: you know what a "Carly" is

:: you've been to more than three LuLaRoe, LipSense, or Usborne Books parties in the last year

(I'm 14/16. HashtagBASIC.)

Saturday, May 6, 2017

guess who's back

Hi, poor abandoned blog. I've never really defined what I want to do with this space--it's always been a catch-all for the random, unedited and unrevised confetti in my brain. I started When Life Gives You Lemmons in the early 2010's, when most of the blogs I read were vehicles for distant family members to keep up with our day-to-day life. It always took a backseat to The Story Girl, my now dormant book blog. When I decided to close The Story Girl, my posting became a little more frequent here, but I've never "branded" or tried to promote myself. I just sort of sit down every few days (or weeks) (or months) and spill my thoughts out, and sometimes people read them (thanks).

These days, my writing energy goes into writing more polished pieces for other spaces. Instead of typing whatever I think and not even rereading before I press publish, I spend hours revising and send them out in the hope that someone likes them. I've become uncertain of what to do with When Life Gives You Lemmons--should I try and write polished essays here? Still use it as a space for my less organized thoughts? Stop pretending I'm a blogger?

What I'd like to do is continue using it as a space for less organized thoughts, but more often. I like Erin Loechner's philosophy of slow blogging--more thought and space between posts vs. more content. I don't want to post just to post, but I do want to be more present here.

So expect to see more of me. :)

Monday, February 6, 2017

a journal entry about balance.

I wrote this in my journal a few days ago, and decided to share.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

I go back and forth between okay and not. This morning, both kids were crying and I though, I absolutely just can't do this. I literally don't have the capacity. But then somehow they calmed down, and we had fun and were happy again. 

I hear women say, "Good thing I love this job," about motherhood. I think I love it -- I definitely want to love it. But I've lost sight of that lately. I've gotten caught up in minutiae and shoulds and forgotten about love and wonder. 

It's the trickiest balance, because the minutiae and shoulds are still important. They still need to happen. But I tend to let them become the most important things, and then everything feels meaningless, because the love and wonder are the entire point of all of it. 

I don't think I'll ever truly get it right. I'll always be standing on a see-saw trying to get things done on one side and surrendering to the present on the other. Some days there will be too much of one, other days it will be too heavy on the other. Even now I hear Nolan cry and I know I won't be meeting all of the goals i had for this nap-time. (illegible scribbles)

I know a lot of women have this "epiphany," if you can call it that, all the time -- there's nothing particularly original in my struggle to balance tasks with presence. But it's where I'm at right now, and the struggle feels particularly poignant these days. I'd love to hear what's worked for you, and how you've made peace with it.

Monday, January 30, 2017

muddlings on politics.

I used to proudly declare myself apolitical. I never read the news, never had a clue what was going on in the world. It just felt depressing to me, and I felt powerless against it.

Lately, that's changed. I've felt like it was important to be informed, that it was selfish of me to not want to be disturbed in my safe living room, surrounded by all my needs and comforts. I've been reading the news. I've been forming opinions. I've been posting haphazardly to Facebook. I've always been transparent; I couldn't hide the way I feel if I wanted to, and I usually don't want to. For a long time, I've preferred to be honest rather than cool. Sometimes that makes things awkward, but usually I feel like the exchange is worth it.

I'm not very good at this politics thing. A lot of my views are half-grown-- I spent so much time trying to avoid thinking about certain issues. I feel like I get on Facebook and start sharing things and then later wonder if it was a mistake. Did I read that thoroughly? Was that an accurate article?

One example is the recent Women's March. There are a lot of things that I identified with in the Women's March. Trump's scandal tapes hit a nerve with me. I've struggled with my weight and body image for my entire life. I've been told by boyfriends that they don't see a future with me because they think I'll be overweight when I'm older. I've been pressured to be more physically affectionate than I was comfortable with by ex-boyfriends. I've walked to my car with my hand on the pepper spray more nights than I can remember. I don't say this for pity -- I know that I'm lucky that those are all I've had to deal with. But it made me angry that people could justify this behavior in a man who is supposed to lead our nation -- a man who is coming into one of the most powerful positions in the world. I'm trying to raise sons who respect women, and I hope my voice is more important to them than those of the outside world, but I know that each time we justify this kind of talk as "just talk" or "boys being boys," we're occasioning more rape culture, more disrespect. I know it happens all the time, but that doesn't make it okay.

There are other elements of the March that I wasn't as on board with. I'm pro-life, and from what I understand the original March organizers didn't want pro-life supporters there. I still supported most of their platform, and as one of my favorite podcasters recently said, check all boxes politics doesn't work. There is no single politician or party that I agree with on every count. I don't support the pro-choice platform for reasons that would take far too long to enumerate here, but that doesn't mean I disagree with other statements made. I will also say that there are aspects of the march's platform that I simply haven't researched enough to form my own opinions yet. Suffice it to say, I thought it was worthy because it showed that we don't believe that hate speech is acceptable. I know there is more to it than that, but that's what it meant to me.

Now with the refugee ban, I am feeling sick at heart. This is one of the political issues I care most about. While I was in Los Angeles, I spent a lot of time with immigrants: making friends, taking care of patients and their families. I hate that people are so afraid, so judgmental, that they would assume everyone from a country or religion is going to commit horrific acts. From what I understand, it takes refugees years to be approved to live here. The immigration process is already difficult and complex. And now we are going to block more people, just tell them that their suffering isn't our problem? It sits like a stone on my heart.

I want to do something to help, but I don't know what. I've made donations in the past. I pray. And I share Facebook articles, because it feels like something, even though it probably only stirs up contention -- has anyone ever changed their mind based on a Facebook article?

I think I need to get off social media.

Right now, I just want to curl up and cry. I know that my day to day life isn't affected by this, and I don't want to make it about me -- oh, I'm so sad, I'm so affected by the state of the world, admire me. It probably partially is about me, this desire to do something. I want to feel better -- I want the sadness of this to dissipate.

I don't want to imagine my children or my friends fleeing bombs. I don't want to picture my siblings or my parents huddled in tents, hoping that they have enough sleeping bags to keep everyone warm.

I don't want a world where people do this to each other.

I know there are arguments for Trump's order, even though I disagree with it and think it does infinitely more harm than good. There are those that say we must protect our own at any cost.

But when we wall up our safe havens, I think we wall up our souls, too.

I don't know a lot. I'm sure lots of you could argue circles around me, and I wouldn't have counter-arguments that held up to your satisfaction. I'm sure there are people that would say, who cares if our world is a little colder? We need to protect ourselves, even if the risk is small. I don't have proof that nothing bad would happen.

All I have is a conscience, and a heart that is hurting from far away and wishing to help. All I have is a belief in One who loved all of God's children, One who spent the early years of his childhood as a refugee in Egypt. He chose to love us all, regardless of the hurts he suffered on our behalf in the Garden. He chose compassion over safety, and they crucified Him.

I can't wash my hands of it. Willful avoidance is complicity.

I don't know what to do, and I'm sure these thoughts don't make much sense. I should have gone to bed an hour ago. I don't know if adding my voice to the chorus will do any good, or if it will only do harm. But for tonight at least, my voice is what I have to work with. So I'll use it to pray for justice and safety for those in danger, and to add my small pleadings on their behalf as a little drop in the ocean of the internet.

And tomorrow, I'll wake up and try to do good.

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