Sorries, Goodbyes and Oatmeal

Dear Friend, I didn’t mean to go away. At the time of my whirlwind of self-involved disappointment, I missed seeing that this would be your last year. When I finally woke up from my frazzle tizzy rat-race life, I was weeks too late. You were already on your way out, one foot out the door. I would never see you again. I didn’t get to say goodbye.

When you told me of your diagnosis my heart wanted to be with you till the very end. But instead I became absent, tied too tightly to a job that demanded too much and gave so little. I let it get in the way of everything, in the way of you. And I’m so sorry.

So I talk to you in my head and I tell you I love you and say I’m sorry over and over. And I try not to be bitter or angry with myself. You were one of the best people I ever knew and I know you would never judge me. But I can’t help but wonder if you noticed my abandonment. If it hurt you. Even though I was assured by your family, I still worry that you never knew how much I loved you.

So I love you. And I will think of you in those times when I wonder about being the best mother to my children and of following my dreams. When trying to be the kindest and most affirming person I can. And, of course, while eating oatmeal.

I just needed to say this tonight before I can sleep. I love you, I love you I love you and I miss you. You are forever in my heart.
grief-art

Want My Bad Day?

Bad Days

I was cruising around Pinterest today and came across this quote,  “There are people who would love to have your bad days.”

Very true, I thought.   People out there would love to have what I consider a bad day. It would be a pain free day, or a day without abuse, a day without fear, a day with loud but living children-a better day than they are capable of having.  Then I felt a little bad about all the times I was frustrated with my day and promised myself I would be more patient and easy going.

But then I thought about the quote just a little further.  I think sentiments like this can cause problems.  See, I think it is important not to invalidate our own troubles because someone out there has it worse. Why can’t we can have perspective that others have it much worse than we do while still having sympathy for our own troubles?

Nothing makes me more irritated than when someone would take my half muttered complaint about being a temporary single parent and compare me to the life of military families. Yeah, they have it a ton worse, but knowing that doesn’t make it easier for me. It will just make me feel guilty for feeling bad about my current struggle (btw, just an example, though that was something that was said when my husband was gone for 6 weeks while I was working full time and taking care of three small children).

I know I’m not alone in this sentiment.  I recall a podcast I listened to by the Mighty Mur Lafferty where she talked about depression.  At one point she said something like “Your amputated leg doesn’t make the knife in my arm hurt any less.” and I wanted to applaud.  And it shouldn’t make us feel better.  Someone having more misery than we do shouldn’t give us comfort, how f-ed up would that be if it did?

It seems like we hear of someone’s troubles and we either have to discount them or compete with them or solve them (I tend to be a solver, I think it irks some of my friends.  But I digress).  We can be so full of judgements and well meaning advice givers that we don’t realize our attempts to give what we consider much needed perspective, just makes the recipient feel all the worse.  I think women sort of feel like shit all the time on our own, we don’t need your two cents to make us feel worse.  We do it well all by ourselves.

So what is the point of this post?  I guess I’m saying – stop judging everyone, stop judging yourself, find some perspective, have sympathy for others and yourself and then go drink some wine and eat chocolate.

Bad day solved.

(disclaimer.  I didn’t have a bad day myself.  I had a tired exhausting day that was irritating at times and great at times.  I’m just ranting about the quote.)

Blankets of Regret

Feeling sadness for my friend who left our world this yesterday.  I’ve been mourning her for two weeks, since I got the call that she was transitioning.  Transitioning.  How I love her and how sad I am for how much time I missed with her this last year.  I thought I’d have more time.  How did I manage to miss it all?

Perspective is so important.  Our life takes over and smothers us under huge blankets of responsibility and obligations.  We occasionally lift a corner to press our lips to the fresh air and draw it in deeply before the too thick blanket of all the things that don’t really matter comes falling back over our face.  Don’t let your life smother you and snuff out all the little joys you used to have time for.  We sacrifice our happiness to all those distractions because, frankly, disappointing ourselves is the least of all evils.  Disappointing others is much more painful.  So we hunker down under that blanket that was once made of tasks and activities but is now knitted pieces of regret and resentment, and we try to remember to breathe and try to forget what it was like not to live under the blanket.

Cast off the blanket! Because no matter what that blanket is made of, if you miss out on one single important moment, it is never going to be worth it.  And if you don’t believe me, take it from the lips of those who are at the end of their life.  This article lists the top regrets of the dying and none of them are about having a bigger house, making more money or disappointing a boss.

Just live.

I will try to honor my friend by having the best life I can and to remember to enjoy the moments, because, you have only that.  Just moments.  Life is short, live it the best you can.  No regrets.

(When I found out my friend had passed, after a tough two weeks for everyone who loved her, I went to the beach and made a little memorial of stacked stones for her.  It seemed the thing to do.  The photo is found below along with the lyrics of one of Amanda Palmer’s songs Lost.  When I learned my friend had days left to live I naturally fell into music.  Music is my way to cope.  Amanda’s music has helped me through tough times before so I went to Twitter and asked her followers tell me which song was the right song for grieving.  Lost was the answer.  Lost is the right answer.  Because, truly, no one is lost forever.  I love you Marcia.  Forever.)

Lost by Amanda Palmer

She is Fierce!

 

This is a photo from our recent family vacation.  It was dusk and the kids were wild so we took them out to the beach to run.  The boys headed into the water to play while my daughter dashed back and forth trying to dodge the crashing waves.

She is a little handful.  She is smart, sassy and regardless of how pretty she is, she gives the best stink-eye ever.  This girl loves to play with her friends and when her friends are not around, she will make friends.  She is not picky.   It can be an old lady, the check-out person at the store or a gaggle of first grade boys.  But more than making friends, I think she is looking for an audience.  Those weeks when she continually gets on the color red, or has the “sad crayon” note come home from school, her teacher shakes her head and with a resigned look she says,  “She’s just going to grow up to be on television, I’m convinced.” she smiles.

The one thing I worry about her is that she is a bit of a chameleon.  If her friend is afraid of water, she will pretend to be afraid of water (if that friend is older or has a bigger personality).  She goes along, picks up on irritating habits from the boys and is all around impressionable.  But she is five.  I guess all kids are impressionable.

I’ve been talking to her about being her own person and I hope that she’ll listen.  Clearly she is a bit too young to really understand, but so long as we keep talking about it, I hope she will take my lesson to heart.  Especially since I’m a self proclaimed “non-conformist” and have been forever, I hoping my daughter will grow to be the same.  It kept me away from drugs, alcohol and most negative influences.  I want her to grow into an independent, smart girl who thinks for herself.

She is my wild crazy fierce little girl and I love her.  I only hope she doesn’t age me too quickly.
littlebutfierce-510x338

Kicking Out Mommy Guilt

perfectmomMommy guilt wasn’t something I often struggled with until recently.  Now I seem to struggle with it all of the time. Having a demanding work schedule along with my responsibility to my photography clients, writing and my role as Municipal Liaison (ML) for my regional NaNoWriMo, has left me with not a lot of quality time.  That is when Mommy Guilt came roaring at me.  And before you say, “But Jacque, just stop doing some of those other things.  Family is first!” Yes, I know this.  My role as ML is only demanding during October and November and, sadly, I turned down a lot of photography jobs because I just didn’t have the time.  It is mostly my work schedule, and that can’t be helped.  Not if I want to do a good job.  But I digress.

Recently, while I was hanging out with Mommy Guilt and berating myself because it seemed like the only time I had with my kids was spent cleaning or cooking or putting them to bed, I had a great idea.  I would make my kids cook and clean and I would take a nap.  HA HA, just kidding.  But I would give them more responsibility in cleaning and taking care of the house through using planners and we would do it together!  We would plan out our week, have chore charts and each kid would help me cook a meal that we could also eat later in the week as leftovers.  It would solve so many problems!  Only I couldn’t find anything online like what I was looking for.  Especially the planner part.  So I made my own planner pages!

Now two weeks into this process, and mission accomplished.   Mommy Guilt has packed her bags and is now chain smoking in a seedy hotel laying in wait for a poor unsuspecting overworked mom to move in with and my house is a little bit cleaner!.  The kids are learning how to clean and we are spending quality time together cooking!  Plus we have healthy meals for the week.  Win win!

I’m adding my planning pages and chore chart to this blog post so you can make use of them.  We put their planner pages and chore charts into a three ring binder, added some binder sleeves to it to throw in their school work and art projects and let them decorate the front.  Initially I only put this together for my eight and ten year old sons, but my five year old daughter jumped on the band wagon and demanded her own planner.  More free labor!  I plan to post my kid tested cooking together recipes later, so stay tuned for those.

Have a great week!

Download from the link below and have fun!

Planner pages in PDF but an editable excel version can be found here

Cleaning checklist 1

Cleaning checklist 2

Cleaning checklist younger child

Photo on 1-25-15 at 10.15 PM

 

Asking for Help

Help-I-need-somebodyDay Three of the Do Over challenge tells you to actually ask for help. I have a lot to post about the topic of asking for help. In fact, one of the few famous people that I would gnaw my arm off to meet wrote an entire book about it. The Art of Asking. I stumbled across a signed copy in our local bookstore and bought one for me, then later got one for my sister-in-law. I haven’t had a chance to begin reading it yet, I will start it after I am done with Stephen King’s writing book. But I’ve seen her Ted Talk on the topic and I can only imagine how good the book is.

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Back to the whole “asking”- I have asked my husband to help cheer for me but have also asked my sister Judi, one of the most goal focused people I know, to help as well. I think she is participating so perhaps we can help each other. I also offered to be a partner to anyone who needs me in the 30 Days of Hustle FB group.

With today being Sunday, I spent most of it being productive for the week.  I braved a snowy blistery day to get groceries, cleaned, even packed lunches for the kids. And now I’m going to take a nice hot bath and read the book Twice Shy, found below.  A friend was reading it and sent me a note to ask me if I had written it and not told her.  Ha ha!  Figured it should be a quick fun read.  I’ll let you know.  I did not sit around and think about writing as an art or ponder needless words, I didn’t have the time.  I also won’t have the time to work on Soulstone, the book I started in November.  But I believe reading fiction counts as my 10 minutes of Do Over stuff because reading other writers is part of learning about writing.  Plus I spent at least 10 minutes typing this.  So there.
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For Want of Time

If you read yesterday’s post you’ll see that I started the10 Day Do Over challenge.  For my challenge I chose to learn more about the art of writing.  Something I’ve been meaning to do and something I wish I had spent more time doing in college.

This morning I grabbed the Do Over workbook and turned the page.. to discover that I hadn’t finished Day 1.  Apparently there were some questions I was supposed to answer that I didn’t.  So here they are.

1. What’s an activity you love doing that you have stopped for some reason?

I put down Acting/Theater.  Something I did through HS and a little in college, but put aside to be “practical” and because I didn’t have time with all the other stuff I was doing.  I haven’t done anything theatrical since my college interpretive reading course.  I miss it. A lot.  I have a FB friend that does Theater and every time he posts something I am so envious.  There is NOTHING like opening night.  That feeling, the excitement.  It is a serious high.  I miss it!

passing-time-2-51854c91a8333_hiresQuestion 2 tied into question 1 for me.  It asked -Have you ever been jealous when you’ve seen someone else doing something?  What was the activity they were doing that you wished you were?

Clearly I just spoke of being envious of a friend in the theater.  But that didn’t end up being what I wrote down.  What I wrote is that I was jealous of the people who seemed to have time.  Time to do anything.  Sitting and having a cup of coffee, getting groceries, writing at the library, anything.  I am jealous of people who have time.  I don’t think I’m alone, in fact I just saw a FB post today from a mom ranting about someone who seemed to have the time to get to the gym in time to get a good parking spot before a class in a very leisurely fashion.  She was lamenting that she couldn’t get in because she got there two minutes late.  But I saw the pain of having not enough time.  And really, I think her post was about time because being turned away from that workout when you aren’t able to make it to many, hurts.  To me it is Time that is the enemy and I completely understood that want need for more time to do what you’d like to do rather than having most of your time taken up with things that you have to do.  Or rather, I understood the part of her message that spoke to me.  I was feeling it.

Question 3. What’s something you’ve always wanted to try?  I said Yoga.  Again, something I haven’t really done because of time. When you don’t have a lot of time, you get very possessive of what time you do have and what you do with it.  Yoga is something I’d like to try, but if I’m working out with my limited time, it’ll be running or the boot camp class with the above mentioned FB friend.  Sadly, I have only gone running a handful of times since taking my new job.  Because, all in all, I am not the master of my own time.  Sure, there may be Free Time skulking around in a dirty back alley somewhere waiting for me to walk by and notice it.  But if I do find it, before I can dig out my $20 for a quickie, I am bombarded by everything else I wouldn’t be doing while having some fun with Free Time.  So really, is free time really free?  You go down that Free Time road and then you find yourself at the free clinic with a strange rash and a tattoo of a monkey on your ass.  Regrets.  Guilt.  Mommy guilt.  Guilt guilt guilt.  And now I’m downward spiraling into the whole Work vs Family vs Self Care balancing act.  I’m not going there.  I’m just saying Time is an elusive whore these days and even if I do have a twenty dollar bill to toss at it, I’ll be paying for it later.


Day 2

On day two, you find a person.  A person that will be your accountability buddy for the next ten days.  Someone to check in with each day.  I’m picking my husband since he is the one that introduced me to this.  And he’s cute.  And he’s nearby so that helps.

It then asked me who the smartest person I know is.  That was a real thought stopper.  I thought about saying my brother, but he’s from a differing political party than I so he doesn’t count.  HA HA!  Just kidding.  I actually put down a few people’s names. But I have no idea how to determine how smart a person is, especially since there are different kinds of smarts.  I feel like I’m people smart, but can’t do math to save my life.  Other’s can ace a calculous test but will back out of their driveway, across the street and into a ditch.  True story.  I know that person.  So I threw down a few names and wrote “SHRUG”.

Finally it asks for a list of people you’d put on your board of directors for a fake company.  That was much easier in my opinion and I finished that up quickly.  I stacked it with people who are smart, honest with a mix of sugar coaters and blunt speakers.  Tell me the truth, I’ll cry, a sugar coater will come around and help me feel better about it and then I’ll watch them fight to the death.  Not really, no. I’d look away.  But seriously.  It’s like with picking Beta Readers.  My husband is always my first reader because he is mostly blind when it comes to me.  He thinks I’m amazingly talented, awesome, beautiful and a whole long list of other complimentary adjectives.  I just think he’s crazy.  So he pumps me up.  Then I pass it along to a few friends that read a lot and will give honest feedback, but tend to be gentle and love me so they are nice.  That helps me polish and fix things before I send it to my friends and acquaintances that write, read and will offer hard criticism.  I need all those people.

Pretend there is a nice transition sentence here… birds.. flowers.. rainbows. BAM!

After I finished Day Two of the Do Over I decided I needed to actually do something toward my chosen Do Over.  So I grabbed my book and spent time cringing through the tales of Stephen King getting his ears drained as a 6 year old…And then the screaming from the basement became too much and I had to stop.  I’ll leave that up to your imagination.

See ya tomorrow!