Friday, July 27, 2012

New Year's Resolutions...Part Two

In case you missed my last blog post (cue gasps of incredulous disbelief from my legions of adoring fans Mom), please read here. For those of you brave souls following along, let's move on to the next item.

Be Intelligent
I’m not just talking about intellectual intelligence; today you can Google just about any topic and become an expert within the hour. Even so, learn from others – be hungry for knowledge. That way you’ll have information in your own head, so you can make good choices in the moment. When presented with a difficult decision that you need to make in a split second, God help you if you have to search the Internet for a solution. Be in the position where you can search your own brain. When it comes to intelligence, I’m also talking about emotional intelligence…having the ability to sense when those around you need help, a hug, or a shoulder to lean on. Be interested in others, for every person has a story. Be intelligent in your choices; this life of yours isn’t a practice round. Be intelligent with your words; people may not remember exactly what you said or did, but they will always remember how you made them feel. Be intelligent through your actions, because they speak volumes about the stuff you’re made of. And when someone says, “You’ll regret this...”, chances are fairly high you will. Especially if you're under the age of 25. There are certain parts of your brain that won’t fully develop until you’re in your twenties, especially that little thing called foresight. So, sometimes it’s OK to rely on those who have it. And no matter how old you are, when your parents start a sentence with, “If I were you….” they actually aren’t trying to make you gag. Rather, they probably just want you to avoid making the same mistakes they did.

Foresight allows you to always picture the next scene – whether it be driving too fast down a gravel road or not treating your loved ones with respect when you open your mouth and let fly. After it’s all said and done, you can never take it back. Simply put, once you’re in the ditch, you’re in it. And since I’ve spent the occasional stint in the odd ditch, I can tell you without hesitation there are much better ways to spend your time.

In my mind's eye, I'm floating down a river.
I feel the sun on my face, 
the gentle swell of the water carrying me,
holding me, encasing me.
There's no particular destination.
I'm not in a hurry.
I notice everything around me.
I'm at peace with where I'm heading,
even though I can't see beyond the bend.
I spread light and joy to those I encounter.
Something happens...
It shakes me.
I lose sight of the sun.
The water's choppy,
I feel cold and alone.
I'm nervous, anxious, frightened, afraid.
I tremble,
I thrash,
desperate to grab hold,
get a grip...
but my grasp is too tight.
The water's having none of it.
I'm drowning.
Everything's dark.
In an instant I want foresight,
I want to see my future, 
I'm fucking desperate to know what's around the bend.
It's clarity I seek.
But there's no controlling a river.
You can't stop the swells.
And in that moment...
that exact moment when you feel you've used up all your air,
and you can't seem to find your breath,
just when you think you're going under,
that's exactly when you need to let go....
free fall into your faith,
be engulfed by His grace.
it's where faith and intelligence converge...
you need to remember,
always know,
you're not the one in charge. 
You'll never own the river.
After all, it's not yours to have. 
And holding on tighter won't make it stop flowing. 
You simply need to let it be.
Just be.
And you might just be surprised at what you can hold with your arms wide open.

To be continued...

Monday, July 16, 2012

New Year's Resolutions...Part One

Some resolutions should never be made – they’re conceived in the shadows of excessive wine consumption and cherry cigar smoke, laced with general stupidity and an inflated dominion of possibilities. After reviewing my lists in years gone by, I’ve made a new resolution: “Don’t. Drink. Cooking. Wine. When. Making. Lists.” Hence my disenchantment in the early days of January, when I find myself staring at a list of ridiculous resolutions scribbled on a cigarette carton in a black, highly-sniffable (Is that a word? If not, it should be...) jiffy marker (Guess what my first two resolutions were? Hint: they involve no sniffing or inhaling..), almost as though the thick ink strokes were mocking my lack of will-power.

So this past January, rather than wallowing in pity at my remarkable lack of focus, I decided to turn my attention to the bigger things, like how I want to live my life, and in doing so, the lessons I want to pass on to my children. Consider this my midyear check-in on my top ten resolutions - I’ll share with you what I know, or what I think I know, most of which has been passed down to me from my parents and siblings, who have in one way or another, taught me all of the important lessons in life. And please, even though I sound all wise and shit, don't confuse me with Jesus. I’m pretty certain he’s got my back, but I’m also fairly certain he doesn’t want to be held responsible for a majority of the crap that flies out of my mouth. So here goes. Part One. I’ve broken it down for you…life’s basic instructions, according to Janita. And if that doesn’t scare you into reading this, then I’m not sure what would.

Have faith 
In today’s world, it’s so easy to get deflated and feel like we’re not good enough. There’s always something that seems just out of our reach, and we think to ourselves, “Oh, if only I had that. Then I would really be happy. Oh, if only I could get that done. Then I'd be caught up.” Says who? Likely that pesky, warty troll inside your head telling you to work harder, get more, be more, get rid of that paunch, do something, anything, about those wrinkles, be craftier, have more energy and be just a little bit nicer, particularly to a 2-year old (or coworker with similar mentality) who throws temper tantrums that would knock the snakes off Medusa’s head.

Here's what I need to realize...right here, right now, I am GOOD ENOUGH. To be honest, I'm having a tough go of it; I have a hard time being patient with myself and being happy with what's right in front of me. I always want to be doing more. I'm always beating myself up for what's not getting done, rather than focusing on what is. The tiny act of arriving at work in one piece by 8:00 every morning is a small act of heroism. Getting up every morning at 6:30 and getting three kids out of the house by 7:15 -  fed, clothed (sometimes) and wiped down - is a shit show of epic proportion, magnitude 7.3 on any Richter scale. But in my mind, that doesn't even count as getting something done. That's just survival mode. And here's the thing: no matter how full my days are at work, how much I want to give of myself and do something of worth, I still need to pick up the kids every night and be my best self, STARTING at 5:30. And here's where the guilt sets in...most nights when I get home with the kids, I want to scream. Most nights I want to curl up in a ball and suck my thumb. This coincides closely with when the chorus of cries begin for supper, for cuddles, for attention, for playing soldier, for "come wipe my bum", for cleaning spills on the carpet, for reading the same book 47 times...I'd go on, but I'm boring myself, never mind you.

And you know what? There are days when I dream of snapping my fingers and having a different life. One where I live in a small coastal village, where the days are long and the breeze always warm...somewhere by the water...I'd order coffee every morning and then sit down and write. I'd write and write and write, not giving a damn if anyone would ever read it. I'd just have the time to write down all of the things I dream about, think about, wonder about, and love about this world. I imagine little to no distractions, no screaming, whining, multiple demands, dirty fingers, or other bums requiring wiping. No, in my dream, it's just me. This dream doesn't last long though, because sooner rather than later, I can't imagine my life without them. Or him. If given the chance of a do-over, I'd still say yes. And I'd still have them. Now that they're here, it seems impossible to imagine it any other way. That's faith, isn't it? It's a belief not based on any proof. They are like the gift you can't imagine getting, until you get it. You open the present, and whisper, "Oh my...there you are. There you are. There you are." It's almost like someone delivered a piece of your soul back to you, one you had no idea was missing.

What do I want to teach my children about faith? I know this...they’ll look anywhere for guidance and advice - clues as to how to act, what’s acceptable, what’s not - so we need to provide them with a solid footing to cling to throughout the trials in their life, which are bound to come. As parents, we want to shelter them from teasing, bullying, from getting their hearts broken, when really, we can’t stop that from happening. Heck, I think it needs to happen to some extent. Standing up to tyrants and dealing with crap is exactly what builds the character you need to get through this life. What we can give them though, is the gift of faith, a foundation, to help make those inevitable heartaches a little more bearable. The world is full of people eager to knock them down, to tell them they’re not good enough, so there’s no need for them to do it to themselves. They need confidence and faith to know that they are here for a reason. They need to know that they are loved, no matter what. And that their best will always be enough.

To be continued…

p.s. My princess turned three today...I'll leave you with a few photos of her big day.
p.p.s To the makers of Barbie makeup for kids: feel free to hop on over here and kiss my ass. Left unsupervised for three minutes, I walked back into the living room to find Isla looking like she had drank oil-based paint. Now had you actually packaged oil-based paint and sold it as "lip gloss", this would have been better, as I would have simply driven to the local gas station and hosed her down with gas. This shit, though? No. It's much tougher to remove than oil-based paint. I had to resort to a combo of nail polish remover and salts from the Dead Sea. Thank you, dear developers over at Barbie, makeup division. My daugther thanks you. She'd appreciate if her next kit includes a new layer of epidermis. You dicks.

The boys, doing some pre-party planning...
This unsupervised moment brought to you by Barbie...bitches.

 Smile if you've been drinking oil-based paint...

Lip gloss removal, scrub one...

Scrub two...James was like, "Dude. You still look like a giant bottle of Peptol."

James so frightened after scrub three, he attempts to bail...

 Our babe's turned three...

 Be still my beating heart.

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