She lives!

Yes, I am still among the living. But a few days ago I didn’t feel that way after a strange GI bug took a hold of me and turned me inside out quite literally. This was like the Master Cleanse times 1,000. Not that I’ve ever tried any sort of cleanse. The good news is no one else in my house fell prey to the bug despite me having visible symptoms for almost five days. So it’s all good, and my stomach is getting there, too.

A few random things…

First, I read this quote a few days ago:

It seems to me that since I’ve had children, I’ve grown richer and deeper. They may have slowed down my writing for a while, but when I did write, I had more of a self to speak from.

- Anne Tyler

(HT: Literary Mama)

I feel the same way. I don’t write nearly as much these days but when I do, the words are often more emotionally layered and perhaps a bit wiser, too.

Lately, every time I do try to write something happens to interrupt the flow of words. My baby-turned-toddler wakes up at a time when he never wakes up. Our Internet goes down. The colorful, spinning wheel of death (you know the one I mean) pops up on my usually reliable Mac. A child must right this very minute show me a photo of an atlas moth (just happened). And I’m left wondering if these are all signs that writing just isn’t supposed to be a big part of this season in my life. I do have two big speeches I must sit down and write, so I’ll just have to figure out a way to make time to squeeze some words out of me for those.

In other news, I wanted to express my gratitude to Mommy Page for the generous write-up. If I’d known they planned on headlining my interview with “fun spring activities,” I would have tried to come up with something a little more creative and original than outdoor read-a-thons and puddle jumping. Then again, nothing really beats old-fashioned mud-sloshing as these blast-from-the-past photos I recently stumbled across reminded me:

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 They also reminded me of three other things. First, I’ve got to start taking more photos again. Poor Thomas (our fourth) is such a cliche because he has no baby book and not nearly as many photos documenting his every move and milestone. I have several thousand of my firstborn just sleeping! For the record, little man, the dearth of fancy scrapbooks and photographs is in no way indicative of our love for you or how animated and full of wonder you are. My goodness, you’re fun to watch and so expressive and happy, too.

Second, I want be that carefree mom who let her kids get their dresses dirty for an afternoon of fun. I love having a bigger brood, but I have noticed that too often I’m so busy just making sure everyone is fed and where they need to be that I’m not always as fun as I might have once been. Maybe that’s what I really should be doing this Lent is not just trying to pray more and better (my prayer life has sucked lately for lack of a better word) but also to just have fun with my kids.

Because, and this is the third thing seeing these old photos did for me, these kids are growing up so quickly. I honestly didn’t remember that Rachel, who is now approaching the six-year mark, was not so long ago so round-faced resembling more of a baby than the little girl she is today.

Well, I’d planned on writing a bit more, but Thomas is reaching up saying, “Maaaw milk.” (Translation: Mama’s Milk.)

Upcoming Gigs (and some randomness)

This Thursday, January 31st, I’ll be chatting with Sean Herriott on Relevant Radio’s Morning Air show at 8:40 a.m. EST. We’ll be discussing what it means to be pro-life and how to champion the cause all yearlong in the first segment. We’ll then switch gears and talk about how to beat the wintertime blahs. Anyone else feeling like they’re stuck in the doldrums?

Then next Friday I head to South Bend, Indiana where I’ll be speaking at the  Edith Stein Conference. The conference is a part of the Identity Project at Notre Dame, which works to promote the understanding of the dignity of man and women. This year’s theme is “Modern Beauty: Unveiling the Mystery,” a topic I’m just a wee bit passionate about.

Edith Stein Logo Upcoming Gigs (and some randomness)Flower Upcoming Gigs (and some randomness)

 

I’m going to freeze my Southern tail off, but I’m super excited about the event and the chance to hear some encouraging talks. My wonderful husband and grandparents have made this opportunity possible.

In between these gigs, I continue to be the much sought after expert hazardous waste removal in our home. Big boy Thomas has just made a big boy stinky, in fact, and my 8-year-old refuses to work on her math until the diaper has been cleared. “I’m going to suffocate,” she says.

I’m so lucky to have these gigs, even the smelly ones.

Speaking of gigs, I was a writer even long before I got paid to write anything (it all started in the second grade when I snagged my first byline writing a gripping tale called The Plaque Detective; I must have just visited the dentist or something), and this cartoon I saw on Facebook sums me up frighteningly well. (Credit: Drawings: Ted McCagg)14948 10151218326858085 100074923 n 1 Upcoming Gigs (and some randomness)

 

Accountability

{Remember to enter to win a copy of Cravings: A Catholic Wrestles with Food, Self-Image, and God Accountability by leaving a comment after this post. Contest closes tonight 8 p.m. EST.}

I’ve obviously fallen off the blogging bandwagon. This dearth of posting has mostly been a fruitful experience. I was flipping through a magazine the other day that revealed survey results showing just how much time the women surveyed spent dabbling in social media each day. The results seemed shocking to me because I could not remember the last time I’d popped in on Facebook. I recently did post a few shots of my little man because who could resist sharing this bookish look with friends?

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(Since a few people asked, those are just doll glasses my dad slipped on him. He loved wearing them though.)

I also caught up with a few friends and their growing and changing babies. I spent about 30 minutes perusing photos and status updates before logging off. It showed me the good that can be found in social media: how we can quickly spread prayer requests or disseminate photos of our children to loved ones near and far.

Yet, I also know that not so long ago I was spending too much time online – whether I was blogging, on Twitter, or engaged in some other social media outlet. When I talk about my need to cut back, I do not intend to make others feel guilty. We all have different sleep needs, temperaments, working arrangements, husbands, and children. All of this comes in to play when we’re discerning how much is too much. I have my own personal litmus test when it comes to gauging whether or not I should be logging in more or less time online. When I find myself getting twitchy or anxious or when I realized that I was, however innocuously, gently or absentmindedly, shooing a child away while I wrote something to encourage other moms to savor motherhood and their little ones (irony!), I knew it was time to take a step back. I’d also been experiencing some severe symptoms of burnout. I still am in many ways and sometimes wonder how I had ever time to write as much as I used to since I’m an effective time manager and still have trouble keeping up with laundry, controlling clutter, and homeschooling. I’m still trying to figure out what has to give or what I need to do to get through each day (more prayer, more peace, less stress!). Finally, as I continue to discern our homeschooling future, I knew I never would want to stop homeschooling so I could write or blog more. First things first.

But last night I realized I’d overlooked a benefit that blogging in particular offered me. I was enjoying my monthly book club soiree where there’s more wine-swilling and girl-talking than erudite book talk. This month’s selection, The Light Between Oceans, was beautifully-written and a definite tear-jerker. Read it, weep, and drown your sorrows and contemplations in that glass of vino.

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I was yammering on about some of my latest insecurities, which, sadly, includes the size of my bum. (Curse my vain wretchedness now, o faithful remnant!) I’ve been back to running for months now and have been frequently logging in 20-plus miles a week while also keeping up with my strength training routine; yet, the scale has not budged. My weight has not fluctuated at all; it goes neither up or down. I have literally weighed the same amount with a .2 pounds attached to it for over a month now. I only weigh myself once a week, and I probably should ditch the scale altogether as I did in my eating disorder recovery days. However, I’ve been reluctant because I really am trying to focus on health. But that’s the thing. I am healthy. So what if my body is holding onto those last seven pounds? I counsel people over and over to stop thinking that losing those last [insert your own magical number] of pounds will somehow make you happier, better, or more in control. It’s a blasted mirage! I know this, so why am I having trouble getting over it? Why are these relics from my eating disordered past haunting me?

I feel great running again. My mood has definitely experienced a boost, although I still have my anxious, insecure moments that make me feel like a teenager again. Lately it’s been a battle against my bum and me. I had a fleeting moment of derrière security when one of husband’s female colleague complimented me. I shared this with my wonderful girlfriends, who don’t judge me, and immediately regretted sharing it and then joked, “Don’t tell my secret. I’ll never make peace with my body or anything.”

I don’t want to be one of those obnoxious girls that is blessed beyond measure who always has something to lament about or has to tell “glowing” stories to make her look better (or thinner or whatever). Nor do I want to be mired in hypocrisy. I feel called to help women reclaim the beauty of creation and to help moms ditch the attempts to be the perfect mom and just enjoy their children and motherhood. I need to try to live that way most of the time, then.

Although my “making peace” reference was meant to be funny and we laughed, later that night I considered that the image I portray online, while mostly authentic (no one is going to air all their dirty laundry, not even self-deprecating me), also holds me accountable. When I write about what I’m trying to do, it gives me the incentive to keep trying to do just that. My blog covers myriad topics but at its heart it’s about finding God in the trenches of motherhood as well as working through your spiritual doubts, being a “good enough” mom, seeking a perfect union with Him rather than trying to be perfect in everything you do, keeping a sense of humor, and, yes, making peace with my body and all of those parts of me I wish I could change or have not respected or accepted as I should.

We all need personal accountability. My blog “personality” offers me this. In a similar way, I recently felt sheepish after honking at someone who cut me off since he very well could have seen my “Choose Life” license plate before he whipped in front of me since he had been closely tailgating me. I should have turned the other cheek. That “Choose Life” license plate isn’t just about my pro-life views. It’s about the woman I am called to be.

The same is true about this blog. I’ve always wanted to be honest here – to admit I have tough, downright disastrous days. Yet, I’ve also always tried to use my words (and the lessons learned from my own stumbles and struggles) to encourage and edify. I’ve been dumping on friends a lot more lately. I’m so grateful to have finally found some real, treasured, genuine good friends here. But I need not overwhelm them with my impassioned speeches or melancholic leanings. Lately, I tell the same stories over and over. I expose myself and make myself vulnerable by sharing my own insecurities. This is sometimes a good thing, but they don’t need to be the depository for every whim and emotion I experience.

Writing is strong catharsis for me. It’s cheaper than therapy. It keeps things in perspective. And it holds me accountable, especially when it’s shared in the public forum rather than in the innermost pages of my journal. It reminds me I have to live up to this Catholic woman image who believes in the dignity of herself and everyone she meets. It means I ought not to incessantly complain or vent about my real or perceived imperfections. Likewise, it demands I don’t share unnecessary anecdotes or stories about myself or my children just to make it seem like I’m doing a “good enough” job. The words I weave together, the conversations that flow from my mouth cannot just be about me. First, I need to reciprocate, especially with those in-the-flesh conversations. Talk less, listen more. Don’t be afraid of silence. Don’t fill the air in an attempt to come off as the girl who knows it all. Second, I must strive to share about the life I’m called to live as well as live it. And if writing in this space about the person I want to be when I grow up helps keep me on track, then it’s worth carving out a bit more time for it.

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