Wednesday, August 29, 2012

a hopeful heart and a song

This morning I walked by the beach

and although I am better for the most part today I wasn't, quite. Today, I walked by the beach and I started with fear held close to my chest and some tears might have come and I walked and thought, When will the walking work? When will the sea come and pluck the worry from my ribs? When will I make like the sun and rise determinedly from out of the water? When will my skin notice the light and drink it in?

I walked and walked and kicked the sand hard down with my feet and I thought,

It's not working and it'll never work and I could feel my chest aching and at some point I looked up and looked around, as my body kept moving forward and forward.

At some point I saw the beach pool and the blue water inside it and outside it

and at some point I noticed the tide was really low and I saw how the rocks were exposed and mossy-green.

And at some point, I don't know when,

maybe when I stopped watching my fear like it was a trapped bird,

I began to see rocks in the sand. And they were smooth and flat and round and perfect

for skipping.

At some point, I reached the part of the beach where I needed to turn around and head home

to my children and my husband and the day

and I had all these rocks in my hands.

Perfect for skipping.

I stood by the water's edge and I waited 'til that moment between waves when the sea

was calmest.

And I spun those rocks in.

And the rocks danced on the water.

One caught air so big, I couldn't help myself.

I whooped out loud with joy.

Tonight, I thought of this song.

It's not about rocks or skipping or the sea or even about how walking lifts me always. It simply makes me happy…which is a small, good thing, don't you think? 

Monday, August 27, 2012

fear held and let go, held and let go


When I am quiet on here, I'm usually busily working stuff out. Thinking and thinking and thinking.

Well, I should say, When I'm quiet in general, I'm working stuff out! In real life, I sometimes start twiddling my hair, gazing off into space, and thinking deep thoughts. My husband always notices, always asks what I'm thinking. Sometimes I can tell him, sometimes, I haven't figured out what exactly I'm thinking, just that I am! My thoughts come in all these colours, kind of like drifting into a cloud made of paint bubbles, as well as snatches of music, books I've read, photos I've taken, moments I've lived, and fears and joys I've felt and carried about with me like trinkets.

It's busy in this mind of mine. Busy good, busy sad, busy afraid, busy planning, busy dreaming, busy hoping, busy taking it all in, this extraordinary life.

We're flying to Perth for a big family holiday in three weeks today. If you've read my blog for a while, you might know I have a fear of flying. But I don't know if I've been that clear about this fear, certainly not recently: my fear has been profound and debilitating, and in January, when I tried to plan a trip to the US, it was the main thing that brought me down.

If you don't have a fear like this, it must be hard to believe. This crazy fear—it's been like the monster in my closet, and whenever I look at it and give it energy, it comes roaring into my bed, sits on my blankets, curls up inside my chest and sings terrible songs that keep me awake for days.

So I've been working with a counsellor for 8 months to deal with it, and with all the related monsters and monster babies that come along with something like this. Because the fear feeds other fears, unsurprisingly, and brings up all sorts of memories. The fear lives inside my history and who I am. I've been trying to figure it all out. Try and accept the fear and move on, have a life that isn't pinned down by it.

I'm doing really, really well. This flight is our test run, and from there, I'm hoping I can get on a plane to visit my husband's family in the US. We have friends and family over the sea, such dear, dear people, and I want to see them.

One of the things I've said over and over is how important I think it is to be up front about my issues with depression and anxiety, so that it isn't a hidden illness, something to be ashamed of, so that anyone with a history with this illness might feel less alone.

But I write that I am afraid of flying and I feel a bit silly. Like, I've been working with a counsellor for this long about something this safe? Really?

I'm not afraid of heights, but some people are. It's hard for me to imagine how that might feel. I'm not afraid of small enclosed spaces, or sharks, or dogs, but some people are. I don't feel their fear, but I get it. Some fears seem to come and swallow you whole. You can't explain it. You just try your best to live.

Sometimes it doesn't work so well. But sometimes, with hard work and words spoken and thoughts thought and with lots of writing and looking for beauty and checking in and having the best mental safety net in place, it does start to work. It starts to get better. The fear loses its strangle hold.

The last three weeks have been crazy busy with amazing, wonderful, happy things.

At the same time, since the beginning of August, I've been getting this wild panicky feeling in my chest. It hit me around about then, in this, Oh Wow, way. Oh. I'm getting on a plane. Wow. I am getting on a plane. And if I give any space or air to the feeling, up comes the wild fire of fear. What if? What if? What if?

I feel like a motorcycle daredevil then. I'm heading towards the burning hoop. I am going so fast. I have done this before, I am in my flame-retardant suit, there are people standing by with fire extinguishers, the crowd is moving me forward with goodwill and prayers, my family is standing by, my children are hopping up and down with excitement. It should be okay, but you never know for sure. All you can do, is let go. Surrender to the movement of the bike, of your path forward and through.

And when I surrender—because I really want to jump; I want to leap through that hoop—I suddenly see.

There is no burning. There are no flames. The fear makes pictures only I can see.

There is so much beauty. Beauty on this side of the hoop and on the other. I am pointed at the hoop, moving forward, surrendering, accepting. Letting go.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

small good things: writer girl

My daughter finished her stint as a Youngzine Young Editor a few days ago. She sent in her last essay, attaching it with a smiley face, as she always does. I am so proud of her. And she is so proud of herself!

The last essay, her sixth, was a hard one—she had already written 5 articles in 6 weeks and was pooped. Full-up with words, and all out of words, at the same time. She's only 9 after all—5 essays is a lot of work for a kid!

But we talked about it, and talked some more. Was it worth sticking it out to finish what she'd set out to do? This was the last week and it was only one more essay. We talked about commitments and obligations. Could she do it? If she wanted, she had the choice to write to them and pull out a week early. She did want to, but she didn't at the same time. There were long talks, hours spent researching the final essay and some writing…then more long talks, more researching, and tears. It was so tough, but she was so close.

So she stuck it out.

On Sunday morning (this being the third weekend in a row spent writing articles!) she finished her draft. She was 150 words short. I sat with her and gave her feedback. I asked questions and showed her areas that could use more detail. We looked at sources together. We sat so close on the couch, just two writer girls, working. And at lunchtime…she was done. Done! Wow. She wrote her last email, attached the article, and sent it off.

Huge smile!

We high-fived, and we hugged, and I thought, "How cool is this kid?" The work was as hard as high school, maybe even university. To meet a deadline every week for seven weeks but one—that's a pretty big deal for anyone. And she wrote her butt off, every single time. Worked so hard, learned so much, was so focussed, and she persevered to the end. What an amazing girl. What an inspirational human bean.

Here are my girl's articles. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I do!

(All photos are courtesy of Youngzine. I really, really like this magazine. It's wonderful, and an awesome resource. Not only are the editors kind, generous and helpful, but at the magazine's heart is the education and empowerment of kids. All of my favourite things!)

Friday, August 3, 2012

small good things: juggling boy

I've had two nights where I've turned off my brain early and prioritised going to bed before midnight. Even though the computer and my ideas and the books have all said, "But please don't go! We'll eat you up, we love you so!" I've made myself get into my jammies, crawl into bed, turn off the light, and go to sleep.

Which, now I'm much better and I'm not coughing 'til dawn, has meant whole nights of great sleep, solid sleep, sleep filled with dreams
 (including one where I actually dreamed I was sorting out my garage/playroom box by box! And no, it wasn't a nightmare where the boxes kept multiplying and repacking themselves…But maybe I woke up before that part happened…)

I've had some time to think about this month and whether I wanted there to be a focus or a "theme." I really, really (really!) loved my month of beauty. So today I thought, well, why not give another theme a try?

So this August, I dedicate my posts to all the small, good things.

Something small that made me smile or I want to share. Something simple (or simply lovely) I've enjoyed. Something Just Plain Good.

Here's my boy. He's juggling. Cool, huh?