Appreciating A Rainstorm

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Today is a wet day. A rainy, misty, soggy, wet day, and I’m thrilled about it. I am not generally someone who likes rainstorms. Unless it’s night time and then I love them because I sleep like a baby.

Wait. Sidebar, you guys. Whoever came up with that saying “sleep like a baby”? Clearly that person never actually MET a baby, amiright?!

Anyways-rain. Like I was saying, I’m not someone who generally likes the rain, but I am a gardener. This is my second year with a vegetable garden and when you have a vegetable garden planted, a rainstorm is like Mother Nature taking over part of your to-do list. I worked today, so it’s not like the rain was impeding any outdoor activity I had planned or anything like that. Instead, it was simply a favor from Mama Nature. No watering can for me tonight!

This morning, as I walked into the office with a co-worker/friend, he was grumbling about the rain. I explained all of this to him and finished by saying “It’s funny how having a garden changes the way you see a rainstorm.” before promptly entering a full on introspective zone out. You see, as these words were escaping my mouth, it occurred to me that the same principle could be applied to how we feel about our mental health and personal growth.

If your mind is your garden, what then would it mean to appreciate a rainstorm?

Just sit with that for a little bit. I have been sitting with it all day and it’s still unfolding for me.

I honestly don’t have anything else to say today. I’m just going to continue meditating on this idea while I cook dinner and then take my family out to the pet store to buy dog supplies because, oh yeah – we adopted a dog and he comes home on Friday!!! (Pictures, I promise.)

So, there you have it friends. A short little post today with some food for thought. Let’s think about it together. I’d love to hear your thoughts and reflections on this idea. Hit me up either here or over on Facebook!

If your mind is your garden, what then would it mean to appreciate a rainstorm?

Peace and love (and vegetables) to you,

Kelly

April Love, Day 2 – Home

Dear Illinois,

You are not where I was born. You are not even where I grew up. And yet, you are home. You are where I have made my home. I met my husband here. I became a mother here. It is here that I have fought the personal battles which have given my soul definition. On this Midwestern soil, I gained my edge.

I’ll admit, I haven’t always thought of you as home. Texas and Oklahoma still feel very much like home to me. My roots began there. However, as time gets on, I learn to appreciate you more and more. I love your rolling pastureland. I love the way Lake Michigan stretches far into the horizon, almost giving one the impression of being at the sea. I love the way you slowly transition from one season to the next, teasing them out in a way that makes me appreciate each one differently. It is so unlike the South, where Spring and Fall last approximately 48 hours each. I love the people here. Kindly Midwesterners remind me very much of kindly Southerners, and I feel right at home. I love your natural beauty. Big skies, vast farmland, rolling meadows, and big rivers which open into fertile river valleys. You are undeniably beautiful. I love the snow. I harbor none of the bitterness of one who was raised here. Every snowfall (even the ones in April, like we had on and off all day today), brings a sense of wonder. Each time I am so grateful for your beauty, for being able to live in such a lovely, friendly place.

With that increasing gratitude, has come an increasing sense of ownership. After 12 years of living here, I am finally ready to claim you as home.

There’s no place like home.

Kelly

Capture Your Grief, Day 20 – Forgiveness + Humanity

What a perfect prompt for the day that registration opens for the 2016 Climb Out Of The Darkness!  Today’s prompt is all about forgiving and finding the best in humanity. I can think of no better way to honor it than this:

Forgiveness

Dear Kelly,

I forgive you.

I forgive you for all the nights spent pacing the living room in tears for no reason other than that you were terrified for, well… no reason.

I forgive you for the times that you resented that sweet baby boy because he was hungry, and you were tired. SO TIRED.

I forgive you for being afraid of walking over concrete surfaces. I’m so sorry that you had to live with the tiny horror movies that played in your mind which caused that fear in the first place. It sucks, but I’m sure glad we can go on sidewalks again.

I forgive you for hiding the fear. I understand that it was a scary thing to experience and an even harder thing to own up to. I know why you hid it for so long. It’s okay.

I forgive you for letting the anxiety build to a point where you were impossible to be around. The tension that seemed to emanate from you was probably the vibe equivalent of smelly lines on a drawing of feet. People weren’t very keen on being around that, and I forgive you for it.

I forgive you for having trouble imagining the future. Anxiety is a thieving scumbag and the first thing it steals from you is hope. We’re going to get there, but it’s okay if the future is kind of scary right now.

I forgive you for sometimes being overprotective with the kids. You have an anxiety disorder, girl, it’s understandable. You usually find a pretty good balance and they are certainly living full and awesome lives. You don’t stifle them, so what if you’re not the parent who can handle them doing physically risky things. Let’s just hope they don’t grow up to be stuntmen.

I forgive you for the OCD ticks you developed. I know it’s embarrassing, but it’s not altogether surprising. Plus, I’m super proud that you didn’t hide that stuff when it started cropping up. The second you realized what was happening, you brought it up in therapy. That took guts, girl. Good for you.

I forgive you for the times you have anxiety about taking anxiety medication. It’s kind of funny if you think about it… but usually only after you’ve taken your medication.

While we’re on that topic, I forgive you for having anxiety about having anxiety. It’s a vicious cycle, but you are putting in the work and I know you can get through this. Hell, you are going way beyond putting in the work, you are straight up noisy about this stuff, and I’m proud of you for it!

I forgive you, for all of it.

Keep climbing.

Kelly

Humanity

To all you Mamas out there who have or have been through a postpartum mood disorder, I’m talking to you.

I see you, and it’s okay.

But don’t take my word for it, take a moment to forgive yourself today. See what comes out.

Once you’ve done that, head on over to Postpartum Progress’ Climb Out of the Darkness page and find a climb near you. On June 18, the longest day of 2016, we will join together to shine light on maternal mental illness. Come out and meet other moms who have walked in your shoes. Let’s continue to drive momentum towards better, more accessible mental health screening and mental healthcare for mothers everywhere. Let’s Climb Out of the Darkness.

If you are in the Chicago area, I will be at my local climb with my family, and I would love to meet you!  I’ll be wearing a Motherhood Misfit t-shirt and would be delighted if you stopped me to say hello!! If you can’t join a hike, but still want to donate to the cause, please use this link to make a donation.

Here’s to you, Mama!  Here’s to Us!

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Capture Your Grief, Day 18 – Seasons + Symbols

Little Moon

Once, I held the moon inside me
In my womb, it grew
Not twinkling stars, nor blazing sun
It was the moon, I knew

A little lunar lovely
To call our very own
But bad news came a-knocking
Into chaos, lives were thrown

I held my moon, my baby
In the quiet of my womb
My arms never knew her
But, in my heart, she has a room

These things, they do happen
And no one can say why
I know one thing for certain, though
The Moon can never die

She was just too big for life on Earth,
As any moon might be
So back into the sky she flew
To shine over you and me

I love you, Little Moon.

 

December Reflections, Day 21 – Solstice Sunset

I am switching today and tomorrow’s prompts. Today was supposed to be “Numbers” and tomorrow “Solstice Sunset”, BUT since I am in the U.S., solstice is technically happening today, on the 21st. So, I’ll be back tomorrow with the “Numbers” prompt. It was a bit difficult to get a snap of today’s sunset, since today is a bit dreary. However, I was thinking about it and decided that it actually seems quite fitting to have a dark sunset on the Winter Solstice, no?

With that, let’s learn about the December Solstice, shall we?

For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, December Solstice marks the longest night of the year and the first day of Winter. This astronomical phenomenon occurs annually, when the North Pole is tilted to it’s furthest degree from the sun, about 23.5 degrees off the vertical axis. This marks the Summer Solstice for our friends in the Southern Hemisphere, where Winter Solstice actually occurs in June. December Solstice happens most frequently on December 21st, but it can happen anywhere between the 20th-23rd. It happens at the same moment for the entire planet. This year, it is happening on December 22nd at 04:49am GMT, which is December 21st at 10:49pm CST (hence the need to switch my prompts)

You will often hear Stonehenge mentioned in conversations about the December Solstice. This is because Stonehenge is mysteriously aligned precisely on the solstice sunset sight line (say that 5 times fast). It is believed that the monument, built somewhere from 3000 BCE to 2000 BCE, was a burial ground and, considering the careful alignment of the stones, that the Winter Solstice must have had some religious significance to the people responsible for its construction.

Solstice is celebrated around the world by many different groups of people, with a wide variety of folklore and beliefs around the event. No matter your cultural ties or religious affiliation, Winter Solstice is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the coming season and the lengthening days.

So, today, I wish you a very happy Solstice, friends. I hope that as the days to follow lengthen, so too does your capacity for joy and peace expand.

The Shortest Day by Susan Cooper

So the shortest day came, and the year died,
And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world
Came people singing, dancing,
To drive the dark away.
They lighted candles in the winter trees;
They hung their homes with evergreen;
They burned beseeching fires all night long
To keep the year alive,
And when the new year’s sunshine blazed awake
They shouted, reveling.
Through all the frosty ages you can hear them
Echoing behind us – Listen!!
All the long echoes sing the same delight,
This shortest day,
As promise wakens in the sleeping land:
They carol, fest, give thanks,
And dearly love their friends,
And hope for peace.
And so do we, here, now,
This year and every year.
Welcome Yule!!

December Reflections, Day Nine – Favorite Picture of 2015

Truthfully, this is not my most favorite picture of 2015. However, my favorite picture of 2015 has both of my children in it, and I have been very careful to not post pictures of my children’s faces on my blog. My Instagram and Facebook accounts are private, but this blog is very much public and, for the time being, I have decided to keep my children’s faces out of this space.

That said, this is my favorite picture of 2015 which does not include my children. I took this picture in a forest preserve not far from our house. My husband and I were out on a morning bike ride with our youngest son. It was my first time being back on my bike after losing Clara. My heart and my body were still healing, but it felt good to be moving. I remember wanting to push myself hard. I wanted to feel. I wanted my legs to burn and my lungs to ache. It was a cool morning, but I warmed as the sun rose and my body worked, shedding my sweater about halfway through our 5 mile ride. We saw 2 furry caterpillars crossing the bike path in different locations and stopped to watch them wriggle, at a surprising clip, to safety in the prairie grass.

The trees were incredible and I kept thinking that it was strange to witness a season changing so dramatically, when everything else in my life seemed to be frozen in time.

December Reflections, Day Two – A Hot Drink

There is a special kind of quiet that exists when you are the first person to awake in a household. It was in this slumbering peacefulness that I stood, near our drafty bedroom window, and pushed back the curtains to reveal a winter landscape that had not been there when I drifted off to sleep. I stayed there for a moment, enjoying the stillness, inspecting the thin blanket of white that had collected while I dreamt, and listened to the gentle wash of my sleeping husband’s breath.

I am a lover of Winter. I grew up in central Texas and, while there are many things to celebrate in Texas’ natural beauty (wildflowers!), seasons are not one of them. Winter may be long in Illinois, but it is also distinct. All the seasons here are distinct, and I love the changing rhythm that comes with moving from one to another.

It is that very shift which I feel now. I am sinking in to Winter, gravitating to warmth. I am filling my hands with wool, pulling on my house socks, and cooking stews that warm from the inside out. I am unfurling, like tea leaves in hot water. I am soaking it all in. I steep.

This is what my soul needs right now, after so much pain and change. My heart needs to soak in life. It is a time for gratitude (isn’t it always?), it is a time to feel and create warmth, it is a time to bring it all in and let it unwind you, slowly.

It is a time for steeping souls.

Be warm, my friends.

 

 

The Tree

Caution – post may inspire unbridled tree-hugging.

I have this thing that I do, whenever I am afraid of dying… I think about a tree.  Any tree, really. Though I am especially drawn to big trees. In George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire novels, he describes a fictional type of coniferous evergreen tree, called a Sentinel. There is a giant sequoia living in Giant Forest Grove in Three Rivers, CA that stands at 257.6 feet tall, measuring 79 feet in circumference. It is named The Sentinel. It is not the largest of the giant sequoias, but I love the name. Both trees, the fictional species and the real life giant sequoia, embody the type of tree that I am drawn to. I believe that trees really are sentinels. They keep watch. Trees endure.

This endurance is part of the reason that thinking about trees calms me. When I think about the inevitability of my own death, I am scared. Scared of what I do not know. Scared that there is nothing I can do to prevent it. However, when I am gone, the trees will remain. This thought comforts me profoundly. It is almost as though the tree serves as a reminder that all of this is not about me. There is a world here, a vast and beautiful world, which will endure long after I am gone.

Trees do more for me than just shed light on a wider perspective, though. Trees inspire strength. After all, the image of a towering tree, reaching into a crisp sky, roots plunged deep into the Earth, is a powerful one indeed. Trees withstand storms, earthquakes, fires. Trees not only survive such hardships, they grow despite them.

The oldest known living tree is Old Tjikko. Located in Sweden, it is believed to be about 9,550 years old. Imagine, for a moment, the vastness of that time period. Imagine the lives that have come and gone, the world which has changed so dramatically, since Old Tjikko first sprouted. Imagine all that has passed since Old Tjikko first began its watch.

Trees are nature’s sentinels. They are the watchers of our planet. Standing proud and strong, they not only outlast trials and the passage of time, but they have the nerve to grow through it.

Trees endure, and there is so much peace and strength in knowing that.