Holding down the fort…

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It is challenging to run a household while having a partner, now all on my own it has gone from challenging to just beyond.  Some days I simply want to disappear, and wish that there were not so many tasks on my to do list.  The new year has been off to a start that I truly cannot complain in most respects, I simply wish I had a helping hand, or someone to tell me it will be ok.  Since all of the holiday separation, I have been feeling as though Julia and I have not been connecting in the way I would like, our communication not as friendly, I am sensitive and she is very direct.  I wonder if all my mothering guilt allows for my children to be in charge. That coupled with feeling overwhelmed by keeping it all together makes for a frustration that needs to be redirected, because after all this is what would usually send me to belly up at the bar.

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Our Sunday last week was one that we were together, with a lazy morning, we both do enjoy a cozy room and a movie.  I just knew that I needed to get out and move, breathe fresh air, and my frustrations needed to be directed into positive energy… so to the garden I went.  Physically challenging and mentally calming, it was the best place to be.  Unfortunately Julia does not like the garden, though neither did I as a child, maybe she to will change her ways as I have when she becomes an adult.  Much was accomplished, very tired and sore muscles, and a peaceful evening ensued, as we had a wonderful Sunday supper together.  It was no day in the park, but ended on a wonderful note.  Leaving  more than one task marked off the list of all to keep this home afloat.

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And so it begins… With an apology

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The new year has begun, out with the old, in with the new as they say. In my time of peace and solitude during Julia’s absence through the holiday, first with her father and then off to spend time with her friends, I was able to look ahead at what I hope to accomplish to continue this journey of finding who I am as an individual. I made it through my Whole 30 and feeling wonderful, continuing with eating Paleo, with a few allowances on days off, continuing with exercise and mediation, now left to wonder can I do this forever? Or am I capable of only powering through the 30 days alone. The diet and exercise are in check, I would like to continue further with the meditation to gain more self awareness.  And as of last week I had successfully been able to have a glass of wine socially, and not let it get too far out of hand.  Unfortunately, I was not able to do so this week, a beautiful dinner, then ended up moving to the bar, and for me the exact same thing happened as it always does. I simply cannot have one cocktail, and ultimately my sadness, and feeling of out of control take over and culminates into an anger that pushes all who care for me, away.  Thus, I am not able to have just one, not be in that atmosphere, I am kidding myself if I thought that I would be able to.  So an entire day of regret, dissapointment and sadness consumed me, not allowing me to be productive, nor enjoy the gift of waking up to a beautiful world.  Including some mending of relationships, apologies necessary.  The thing with apologies, is that unless there is change, or progress without a repeat of the behavior, the apology is meaningless.  I must make this apology count, for if I do not I will forever be living in this cycle of regret and sadness, never to live a happy life.

My my most happy place, is my bed and bedroom, it is peaceful, it is serene and holds me in as if I were on a cloud. Here I am myself, here I feel safe and see all my own beauty and abilities., unlike when I step outside my bedroom door.

Julia was tired from such a long socially packed calendar to start the day off, I was regrettably hung over, it was a chilly Sunday, and I cannot think of a time of day that breakfast in bed wouldn’t sound amazing.   So we laid  in bed, having breakfast in the afternoon watching a movie and just relaxing.   Peaceful, not too much in the way of conversation, just being close and next to one another.  Sometimes simply being in the presence of the ones we love, in absolute silence can be just as a beautiful connection,  and on this Sunday it was all that We needed.  So now I will push on, not looking at my faults and allowing them to take me back to self loathing, but to know I learned something about myself, accepting my own apology.

Holiday’s are made for relaxation and reflection

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This photo sums up how I spent my holiday week.  I worked my normal schedule, even working Christmas Eve and day, happily so.  My job is very rewarding and it made me happy to be there.  With an empty house, no school or dance to drive to, the extra time in my day allowed for me to have much more leisure time than I am used to.  I watched movies, read a little, created some new recipes, did a lot of cooking, and some walking as well.  All the while realizing how many things I have to be grateful for.  My beautiful home and community in which I live, healthy children, life itself.  I had been worried that the holidays would hit and I would have a breakdown, being that this is the first holiday season that I have ever spent alone in all my years.  The largest revelation that came to me during this time of reflection is that in my solitude I am not lonely, I felt more lonely in my marriage.  That loneliness perpetuated my solitary cocktails that were necessary to bring a haze that allowed me to muddle through my sadness, and lack of self-love.

I completed my Whole 30 on Christmas day, and the desire for a celebratory cocktail was not there as it had been after the completion of my first time on this program.  Though I stayed busy, and enjoyed the peace and quiet, by Sunday I was beginning to feel a bit lonely.  I called a friend and we got together for a glass of wine, and this is fine I think for me, the battle begins when we finish the bottle and I want more.  This is my struggle.

Julia finally returned home today and we had a wonderful time.  Lunch, conversation, a little fashion show, and even some snuggle time.  We both recapped our week for one another,  and she shared that she is not concerned with me having wine with a friend, proceeding to let me know all that does cause her worry.  Our continued open, honest conversations only strengthen our bond.  As the Holiday season comes to a close, I welcome the new year with optimism, and love, looking forward for our picnics to resume, truly spending our Sunday in the park! Here is my beauty, en pointe…

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Iron skies

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“But no one, No nobody, Can give you the power…” This lyric alone from the beautiful song Iron Sky of Paolo Nutini speaks to me, as I continue on my journey of self-reliance, self discovery, and path to loving myself.  All that is necessary to allow my ability to become a strong independent woman who can inspire my daughter to be all that she desires to be in life.  The song itself is political with a message of independence, hearing the speech from Charlie Chaplin’s THE GREAT DICTATOR, a movie I was introduced to in a philosophy class.  Hearing “we are not machines” reminds me that my life does not need to reflect any other.

In Life we cross paths with so many individuals, some who give and some who take, as we do the same.  I truly believe that whomever we encounter is for a reason, in the end to teach us who we can be.  This song was introduced to me by someone who I may never actually meet in person, someone who has been a great support through this choice to become sober.  This chance introduction is what can be so powerful about how small our world has become.

As  tomorrow is already another Sunday, the days pass so quickly it seems one day it will just pass me by.  I honestly do not know how the day will play out.  We had made specific plans, and as life goes… obstacles arise, only to throw us off, this is when I truly need that flexibility in order to roll with the punches.  I am learning to not invest too much into looking forward to far, so I do not feel disappointment.  That may not be the best way to exist, but for now it is a protection from feeling as though I have failed in some way, a major trigger for my need to get lost.

My reason not to get lost… Julia, and her need for me.

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Flexibility…

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The single most fleeting attribute I have always lacked through my life is flexibility. Until very recently I have been unable to implement this concept into my life.  While my oldest children were young my way of thinking and parenting was so set, just as the bedtime hour, now as I look back and reflect I see how it created unwanted chaos in our home and in my marriage.  The convergence of two individuals, who had in our case been raised so differently, now forming an alliance to raise humans so they become strong and ready for the world we live in.  In our case add the fact that the oldest is my step daughter, though to this day I truly feel she is just the luckiest of them all to say she simply has two loving mothers.  I came into the relationship pregnant, with another mans child, my husband standing with me from four months of my pregnancy on, always being a father to our son, something most men could not do. Finally adding in our youngest Julia the family became complete.  For many just the idea of accepting these obstacles may seem as though flexibility was there from the start, but really I know we both felt that we were one another’s soul mate, we were meant to be.

Our Sunday this week needed flexibility, for many reasons.  I awoke early and had many household chores to complete, as well as wanting to take my walk.  Julia was a typical teenager, wanting to lay in bed and simply do nothing, not that I can blame her!  When I came home from my seven mile walk/ jog I was pretty tired. Julia was not up to going outside for a picnic as the clouds had moved in.  So I prepared lunch, and a picnic for us this Sunday was sitting together in the living room.  This movement is to enhance the bond between Julia and myself, keeping the commitment of spending the day together is at the forefront not necessarily the location.  We went to the movies in the afternoon, finishing off with a bite to eat.  This is when again we revisited, on Julia’s behest, if  I would begin drinking again when I am done with my whole 30 as I had done before.  To give a definitive yes or no is not a possibility for me right now, but what I do know is that I am not missing drinking like I thought I would at this point, nor do I see myself saying that I will not ever enjoy libations in a responsible manner amongst friends.  With this she was satisfied, letting me know that she is clear on what is acceptable to her, this honesty makes my Sundays worth looking forward to.

Learning balance, even in moments of challenge

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As the nights come too soon in these winter months, the days do not last long enough, this is when my strength is most challenged.  I have always found the five o’clock hour to be the time that all of my stresses of the day need to be calmed, the way I had always fulfilled the much needed moment of ahhhh, has always been a drink.  I am on a program called the Whole 30, where alcohol is prohibited, as are many dietary restrictions, I have chosen this plan, because it is a challenge, and for me to just say that I wasn’t going to drink was not an option, I know I would never make the changes necessary for my future or health.  As the holiday season is upon us, I thought this is a telling time, because it is a season of eating, drinking and being merry!  The perfect time for a true challenge.  This is the second round for me, the first I completed 36 days, feeling amazing at the end.  I have kept up with the eating plan, a Paleo way of eating, with a bit of cheating on my days off, for this my body has thanked me, energy and weight wise.  Unfortunately I had brought alcohol back in, and for me I didn’t waste time with a few leisurely cocktails with friends on an occasional basis, instead diving right into a bottle of vodka.  A mostly functioning working single mother, with a not so secret habit for some of my friends and neighbors, and definitely not my children.  For most that I encounter on a daily basis, I really don’t know if they could recognize what has been my existence since March, with that small exception of 36 days.  And so again I am on the Whole 30, day seventeen, still the most difficult restriction is having no alcohol, yet I am doing it, and this time around I am learning to cope in new ways with, jogging, yoga, meditation, reading, writing, so much cooking, are all challenges for me, yet the kind that are fulfilling, as well as good for my body and mind.

As we look toward this coming Sunday, the weather shall be our guide, so many beautiful places to visit and enjoy in our area, though a picnic in the rain doesn’t sound like the most fun way to spend the day.  So we will keep it open, awake hoping for sunny weather, if it is not, the challenge of finding the perfect spot for a Sunday in the park will be one I can conquer.

Catching the sun…

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It started out as a gloomy morning, I went for a walk with a friend before preparing for our weekly picnic.  Julia had stayed overnight with her friend, so she wasn’t able to help with preparation, though she gave me her input of what she craved.  I am doing what is called the Whole 30, for a multitude of reasons, as well as I have been eating Paleo-ish since summertime, so the way I eat has become mostly the way of the household.  All except for Julia’s beloved lavash wraps, she is not able to let go, nor should she feel the need to comply to what I have found works best for me.  I made a salad, vegetables and fruit to round out a light satisfying picnic. I found my actual picnic basket as I cleaned in the garage, in it I found some linen that had belonged to beautiful grandmother who initiated my love for cooking.  We used them as our tablecloths, for me those linens made me feel her presence bringing me a warmth, with her memory.

Julia’s friend joined us for the day, to see them interact and be content with the simplicity I offer of just a picnic lunch filled with what was a very telling conversation made me pleased with who my daughter is becoming, and her choice of company.  As we enjoyed lunch we were fortunate to catch the sunlight of the day, as if it was just meant to be.  We chose Nojoqui Falls Park, a beautiful local park that I have spent so many days over the years, yet haven’t been there for so long.  Unfortunately the falls were closed because from our last rain, though we were able to walk around the park and be silly, producing many funny pictures.

From the park we took the lovely drive to Solvang to gather some small gifts for exchange at Julia’s dance studio.  As we window shopped and the girls tasted fudge, the weather changed and the clouds moved in, signaling an end to the day.

To finish off our Sunday we had a wonderful supper at home, just the two of us.  And here is where a conversation of heft came to the forefront, my sobriety.  My concerns, and more importantly Julia’s concerns that weigh heavily on her mind.  This is a difficult topic, especially for me to even acknowledge, but for a truly open and honest relationship with my daughter it is a must.  She told me she feels that there is nothing she cannot share with me, this was golden, and because of her, because of just that we were able to have a frank conversation of what sobriety means to our life together, and with my older children as well. It is not that I won’t ever enjoy a glass of wine with friends, but no longer can I hide my depression with solitary cocktails in my room at night, or foolish times out at the bars, I need to, for her sake and my health re-establish an appropriate relationship with alcohol.  These reasons and conversations are all part of why I have begun this journey, and commitment for Sundays in the park.

Our traditions evolve

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Year after year as a family moves through life, new homes, kids growing, I have found that traditions can change as time passes.  Sometimes our traditions have changed based on circumstance, events or what ties us down, bringing a new spin on how we spend our holidays.  We have never been a traditional family per say, a very blended family, with all involved in many years of celebration.  We also made the determination that spending time as a family on a vacation, or little getaway was worth more than purchasing gifts that were forgotten by springtime, or sooner.  Some of our winter vacations are my most fond memories of what was our family.

I love to cook, I enjoy eating with family and friends, though there were many holidays I was in the kitchen and never even had a chance to enjoy the food I had prepared, or the company that we had in our home.  For a few years we owned a restaurant, and together my husband and I would cook six nights a week, so on a holiday we chose to be taken care of.  This year is the first I will be alone in all of my life, no one to take care of, no one home.  I am choosing to work and leave my evenings unplanned.  The idea of spending my Sundays with my beautiful daughter spending the day together, exploring and enjoying lunch becomes even more important.  Once again tradition shifts, to do something special does not require a holiday, just our love and ability to nurture our relationship in our own way.

Holiday weekends…

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As the holiday season begins, the first as a single mother, after 18 years of marriage, I am unsure how to feel about the loneliness in my home.  Luckily surrounded by my loving dogs, that at times drive me crazy as they are always underfoot, I feel love.  This Sunday Julia will still be with her father, our arrangement is left to her, she decides when and who she wants to be with.  She is the most mature thirteen year old I have ever encountered.  We have always treated her as a person, not as a child, nor have we put restrictions that would impede her ability to make her own choices.  Thus, she is honest about her feelings and expectations of both her father and myself, and ours are clear for her.

This Sunday will still be a picnic day, but for myself to enjoy some solitary time to reflect on my goals as a mother, and as a woman who is looking towards a new future.  I have made many steps forward, and many more steps back in the past nine months.  Now I am left wanting to throw out the restrictions that I have set upon myself, and all of the lack of believing in my abilities to become independent individual.  Each Sunday is new…

Picnic at the zoo

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We live in such a beautiful place, filled with amazing sights and weather.  Spending the day with both of my girls and Julia’s friend was the best way to enjoy a Sunday.  We had a picnic lunch of tea sandwiches with many accompaniments, as we soaked in the sun and enjoyed one another’s company.  Later in the day walking along State Street creating our wish lists for the holidays.

In the past few months, as I have been trying to gain my footing in my unexpected life as I know it, I have spent far too many Sundays distant and selfishly seeking an altered reality.  Friends and good times have a time and a place, though Sundays should be reserved for those who are most important, my children.  The reason I have started this movement for myself is to keep focused on what I know to be the most fulfilling way to live my life, focused on being a mother.  I will never be able to take back my mistakes, or change who I have been, though I can better my choices and path day by day, loving myself and my beautiful children.