Saturday, November 30, 2013

Two Families

I saw a family photo with a mother's two living children and a picture of her first baby who died. I loved the idea, but when I think about doing something similar with my kids, I feel awkward about it. It's like I have had two separate families; two separate lives. I don't even have a family picture of SB, N, J, the King, and me because we thought we had lots of time. We didn't know that it would only be 29 days before SB died. I still grieve the loss of my first set of kids, even as I rejoice over the precious lives of  Raccoon and Kitty. I still look at my two sometimes and can't believe that they're here to stay.

November 30, 2008, was the last day that N and J were mine. I am thankful that they went somewhere they were dearly loved and taken care of well. I miss them still and as always, I hope some day to hear how they are doing. Maybe this Christmas, my wish will come true.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Book Notes & DEAR Day: His Majesty's Dragon

The most recent thing I have read for pure enjoyment was the Temeraire series by Naomi Novik. There are 7 in the series and more to come. In general, I like book series because I can quickly go from one to the next and not agonize in the library aisles as I try to choose between unknown books. I also found it heartening for my own prospects as a someday-wannabe-writer that she was able to successfully write yet another dragon series. If I ever do write, I realized that I don't have to start out with a completely new idea as long as I have something interesting to offer.

I like how she starts the series off with known history and adds a twist, then deviates completely to her own alternate history as the series progresses. She also developed the dragons as other-than-human, with different concerns and rules, which interested me. And I think most people enjoy the theme of "underdog turns out to be key player."

* My high school English teacher, mentor, and friend has started a movement called DEAR (drop everything and read) on the final Friday of each month to encourage people to "set aside other pursuits to read for enjoyment and growth." As far as I'm concerned, every day is a DEAR day in my house, but I would like to do a special post to support this idea.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

A Family Thanksgiving

We did it! This morning every piece of furniture I own was in my living room, beds and bureaus included (the church housing we're living in is being remodeled). After some cleaning and moving, we now have a bedroom again. I can't even put into words how thankful I am about that.

This afternoon we celebrated with my brother and his family, my parents, and my brother's mother-in-law. There were 14 of us and it was a noisy, beautiful mess. It was everything I'd hoped and prayed for when I invited everyone to my place.

But I also said a prayer for the elderly, the homeless, the addicted, the lonely, the families in mourning, and the people who have given up. I know how some of these things feel and I know what it is like to be without my family on the holidays. May the special grace of Jesus touch all of our lives today.

My favorite thankful comment at our table? My 11 year old niece who said, "I'm thankful for oxygen."

This is a fitting T-day quote:

"People can live off everything from whale blubber to seeds and grasses. You want to know what the ideal human diet consists of? Everything. Humans can and will eat everything, and we are remarkably successful not in spite of this fact, but because of it. Our adaptability is the hallmark of the human species. We’re not called omnivores for nothing.” - Dr. Britta Hoyes

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

On Failure

"From failure you learn. From successs, not so much."

"I propose a toast to Lewis and his brilliant failure."

- Meet the Robinsons

I have been thinking about failure and how much it bothers me. And being an introvert, public failure is the worst. I didn't realize how much of a problem this was for me until I saw Raccoon mirroring my behavior. Somehow he's picked up the message that he needs to be perfect and cannot fail. He even told the King that I was perfect, which is why he gets so mad when I forget things. Sweet but wrong. I had a long talk with him about that.  

At the heart of this lie is fear, as with most lies, because in my head there is this equation:
Failure = Rejection (Loss of Belonging)

I like the movie, Meet the Robinsons, because the little boy, Lewis, feels like he needs to succeed at his inventions to have a family and be happy.

In our family, it is not exactly the failure that I want to celebrate, but the trying. 

So I will continue with a pet project of mine that seems a little ridiculous at this point, but perhaps will turn into something better with each attempt.

And speaking of failure, I haven't really gotten any of my draft posts published like I'd hoped, so here's to NaBloPoMo and my failure!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Dear 2018 Self,

Your son should be 9 and your daughter almost 6, depending on when you read this. As Raccoon enters preadolescence, his close friendship with Kitty* may become more distant. You should talk to her about this, prepare her for it. Help her find her own interests and hobbies. Help them to still play together peacefully (or at least with adequate arbitration/intervention). Don't let the relationship be lost.

I see this in my now 9 and 6 nephew and niece and I feel her confusion. Where did her best friend go? Who is this cranky stranger? I also think that it was about this time that my brother and I began to struggle to find things in common. He remembers it differently, but it was painful for me.

So, besides that, I hope that you're happily settled into some sort of school (home or other) with your elementary kids. You'd better be sleeping peacefully through the night! Maybe you're writing regularly? I hope so. Please be wiser and perhaps pursuing a God-given dream. I'll be watching you. Ha ha.

All my love,
Your 2013 Self

*previously Robin, I changed it to suit her more now that she's one.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Taught and Caught

This doesn't relate to the sermon, but it was a freeing experience for me.

Backstory: Last night I posted something on a forum that made sense to me, but apparently to no one else. When I discovered that this morning, I felt ashamed. Whenever I have a strong negative reaction, I ask Jesus to show me the lie behind the shaming. In this case, I felt afraid that the other members would think that I was ignorant or ridiculous and didn't belong there. This is at the heart of one of my deepest fears, that I don't belong. I watch closely and hope to fit in wherever I go, trying to figuring out how the group works so I can blend in. I realized this morning that I am worried about being exposed as a fraud, cast out, or rejected. (Like my forum question, this post may not make sense to anyone else, but it did to me.)

Fast forward: I'm sitting in church listening to the completely unrelated sermon on financial giving when a thought pops into my head. "It's not that you're not ______ (ignorant, ridiculous, or whatever other imperfection I have when compared to God), but that you are and it doesn't matter. You still belong." We sang a worship song with the phrase "I am His portion" and I realized that He's not complaining. To Him, I am enough. He's not going to leave me as is, but He does love, accept, and like me right now.

And some thoughts from the sermon:

"Here's what God has done for you - He has set you free."

"You can't outgive God because He's given you everything."

"How can I continue to grow in this area?" (aw shucks, I'm never going to arrive... to be able to check something off the list and say phew, done with that! Patience. Check. Ha ha ha.)

"Trust that everything has passed through His hands before it got to you." (This wasn't exactly from the sermon but a paraphrase of something I read somewhere else.)

"All suffering is a surrendering of our own will." (Not from the sermon, it's from here, but it also stuck in my head. I would change it to: we suffer until we surrender our own will. I think that once we have surrendered, the circumstances might not change, but the mental anguish should give way to His peace.)

"We don't want God to love us more, but less." C.S. Lewis in the Problem of Pain

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Book Notes: MotherStyles

"Using Personality Type to Discover Your Parenting Strengths"
by Janet P. Penley with Dianne Eble

"Mothering calls upon such a vast and conflicting set of skills that everyone will struggle with parts of it." (p.40)

I would just like to say how liberating this book is for every mother. "...perhaps the most important factor in choosing Jung/Myers-Briggs personality type theory as the basis for my work with mothers was how positive and affirming it is. It is one of the few psychological assessments developed for use with healthy, normal people. It isn't designed to measure pathology, and all personality types are considered equally valuable." (xvi)

This book is soooooo illuminating (extra o's for emphasis). When I was folding down every page corner, I basically just decided that I needed my own copy. I had so many AHA! moments as I looked at my family of origin, my husband's family, and our core family. If you've never dived into type talk (or here) and you are a mom, this book is 100% the best place to start. Or if you're just having one of those days where you wonder if you're doing anything right, this book will give you a great pick-me-up.

Favorite Quotes:

"I've gone from comparing myself in a defensive way with other mothers, to using them as role models for how to incorporate their gifts into my own style. I've always felt that the best thing about psychological type is that it makes human goodness easier to understand, which makes it easier to imitate."

"In a sense, a child with different type preference represents the undeveloped or untrustworthy parts of our selves. Because their way wouldn't work for us, we think it isn't likely to work for them either." (Love this!!!)

"The stronger you are in your own self-valuing and self-acceptance, ...the less you feel that someone being different is a negation of you..."

"Limitations are... not necessarily flaws." (p. 53)

"At the tip of the pyramid is mindfulness of the whole family's dynamics: family culture, strengths and blind spots, differing needs for togetherness/autonomy, odd man out/special affinities, and cooperative parenting." (Penley's Parenting Pyramid - top Whole Family Dynamics, middle Person-to-Person Connection with Each Child, bottom - Parents' Self-Knowledge)

"My mother told me, "If you are a soldier, you will become a general. If you are a monk, you will become the Pope." Instead, I was a painter, and became Picasso."

"Ultimately, you want to be Judging enough to keep your children safe and Perceiving enough to be open to who your children are. And, I believe, knowing when to take control and when to let go is the cutting edge of maturity and wisdom."

Type Talk:

I am an INFP with close kinship to the INTP and ISFP types. (How do I know I share ISFP tendencies, because the author actually recommends that this type hire a housekeeper, yes!) I'm very intuitive (N), but have learned some complementary behaviors from my strongly sensing (S) mother. My Introvert tendencies are very strong, along with my Perceiving, but my Sensing/Intuitive and Feeling/Thinking are much closer to the middle.

My husband is an ENTJ. I thought we were complete opposites, but finding out that we both are intuitive helped me focus on our common ground. Our living preferences, IP vs EJ explain why we enjoyed dating more than living together. Allowing each of us to have our personal space in the house has been helpful with this. Our personality cores are similar as we are both flexible with our F/T, so as a couple we tend to be NT. We get along very well, we just struggle to live in the same space.

Struggles of the Perceiving Mother (p. 87)
      * Keeping your household organized and in order; doing chores on a regular basis.
     * Keeping yourself and your children on task and on time.
     * Not leaving things until the last minute or letting things go too far.
     * Not taking on way too much.

This sums up well why I often feel like a failure as a mom. "Our societal standard for productivity is tangible outcomes, not pleasure in the process, so the Perceiving mother may feel out of step at times." When I tell myself that I should be a better mom, what I mean is a more organized one.

"Finding meaning is very important for Intuitive types." (p. 52) This explains why I struggle to do things if I cannot see the point or find a deeper meaning. For motivation, I tell myself that cleaning is a way of blessing my family.

Intuitive moms over- and underestimate how long things are going to take. We try to fit too much in, or avoid something because it seems like too much. This is so me. I feel like making pizza will take forever so I don't do it (actually 20 min) but I'll check out 20 books from the library thinking I'll have time  read all of them.

Advice for Intuitive moms - focus on moderate refinements vs. sweeping improvements (hard to sustain). Do a little rather than nothing. This is definitely an area of weakness for me, sustaining change.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Ok, Never Mind

How long do I have to write for it to actually be considered a post? And do things change in other people's lives as much as in mine? So maybe we're not leaving when we thought, and maybe we are. I give up and just want to enjoy Thanksgiving and December.

I have now lived in one room of my house with two small children for 8 days. I am an introvert and I have nowhere to hide. This situation is not sustainable. We are in survival mode and every coherent thought is gasping for air. Hopefully things will be better after this weekend when a crew comes in to put things back together.

This post (here Mommy) has been (here Mommy) written like (here Mommy) this.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Depart! Depart!

I am feeling sad tonight and cannot write, much. We have a leaving date and Christmas will be bittersweet since it's passing will bring goodbyes. Tonight I feel keenly how quickly happy time passes.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Pondering: White's Illusion

White's Illusion (the gray blocks are actually the same but look different)

"Our perception of an area's lightness is influenced by the part of the surroundings to which the area appears to belong."

I think we all look different when we're in a place where we belong.

Monday, November 18, 2013

On A Lot Going On

"While the study confirms that recovery from a lousy childhood is possible, memories of a happy childhood are a lifelong source of strength." From here (the Grant Study)

This past week has been really tough. Colds, croup, husband travelling (back tomorrow!!!), facing fears, revisiting childhood things, squishing everything into one room so that a remodel can go on all around us, lots of crankiness and little sleep (kids and me), a lot of uncertainty about the immediate future and one mommy who just wants some space to breathe before I dive back into the fray.

A happy childhood? Not feeling so successful at that. Raccoon hid under a blanket today and said, "You're being mean to me." I'm sorry, little one. Sometimes I forget that we all feel the strain. The dishes can wait (they've been sitting there for days, one more won't matter) and we're taking time for some cuddles. And maybe another try at the puzzle that we gave up on.

Oh, and teething, I forgot to mention that. And my baby girl said Mama for the first time today. You know, the first time it means "Get over here right now and pick me up!"

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Taught and Caught

Some snippets from the last few Sundays...

"Kid's don't care about the thing, what they care about is the togetherness." - Me

The pastor was talking about how much his son loves watching football, and I thought back to how much I loved Christmas as a child. I think we hang onto what created the moments when all was well, whether it's sports or holidays or something else.

On the story of Gideon - "We can only win in circumstances that clearly show God's glory. This doesn't mean that Gideon did nothing. But when all was said and done, the only conclusion could be that God had done it." - D.U.

"We need to be connected to God in every area and season of life. Israel walked away in the everyday. When the enemy showed up and the crisis was there, God's power was gone." - D.U.

"I'm here for every need." - God

Saturday, November 16, 2013

I Missed this One

I was so sure that I'd scheduled a post every day while my husband was gone, but I missed this one. I struggle with perfectionism, as do many people up and down my family tree. But this week many people have seen me fall apart, and you know what? It's okay. Sometimes, it's okay to change the rules. So I'm backdating for Nablopomo. As I tell my son when he's freaking out, it's not a big deal. Hugs for me.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Book Notes: Project-Based Homeschooling

Mentoring Self-Directed Learners
by Lori Pickert

Favorite quote:

"If your child deserves to learn at his own pace and have his own ideas, so do you. Whatever you champion for your child, make sure you also give to yourself: the right to follow your own path, work at your own pace, follow your own interests, make mistakes, and try again. Whatever you want for your children, you are far more likely to help them achieve it if you live it yourself."

My take-away thoughts from this book were two: the idea of real work for kids based on their interests and parental involvement. The great thing is that it is inherently motivating and rewarding, so the parent does not have to force it to take place. The parent does, however, have to provide scaffolding around the work, such as helping the child stay organized (what supplies do you need? brainstorming), documenting the process (what was done, what was tried, what worked or failed), and encouraging progress (what was your goal? what could you do next? how could you share this with someone else?)

I talk a lot about projects, which Raccoon already loves doing, and other learning ideas over on our homeschool blog, The Imaginary Country of Celosia.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Book Notes: Created for Work

by Bob Schultz

Favorite take-away idea (paraphrased): I am the president of the country of Self, and need to make sure each department is running well.

Note to self, the current U.S. departments are: agriculture, commerce, defense, education, energy, health, security, housing, interior, justice, labor, state, transportation, treasury, and veterans.

Favorite quotes:

"Frequently God disguises Himself as trouble, problems, and difficulty. The wise look past those costumes and see provision, growth, and a good education."

"The faithful thank God and overcome."

"I do have an exit strategy for my marriage.

"Well, at lest I still own something.
What's that?
A good attitude."

"Limit your possessions to what you can keep in a reasonable condition. Plan time to enjoy and maintain what you have before spending time and money to get more."

"The question isn't "Does God speak?" but "Will I listen?""

"Your life may seem as small as a matchbox. Who cares? The size of your box does not limit what Jesus might create in it... Yield to Him and you'll be amazed at His imagination and creativity." This made me think of the intricacies of the atom.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Self-Portraits

I mentioned here how Raccoon likes to take my camera and snap a series of pictures. He often ends his photographic spree with a self-portrait. Here are a few of the surprises I've found.

May 29, 2013

May 29, 2013

July 7, 2013

September 12, 2013

September 14, 2013

August 5, 2013 
(I took this one, but it's so him right now)

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Missing My Girls

At the darkest moment in your life, you need to see that God is always in charge. He never loses control of the situation. He is always working behind the scene carrying out His plan. - Michael Youssef

I have to hold onto this and remember that I have not failed more than God is able to redeem.

It's November and my heart is
sore remembering
I have not seen them
I cannot see them
They are stuck in my eye
Five and three
Mommy, can we come home now, you are all alone.

I could not keep you
and yet I
cannot let you go.

Monday, November 11, 2013

On Words, especially Obsolete

I found this on an old bookshelf in what used to be a schoolroom and is now my kitchen. Just think of all the possibilities. 

In case you can't tell from the picture, it's a Webster's Dictionary, Unabridged.

This was the first page I flipped open to...

The last word on page 777 is: "gloppen: to be terrified or distressed. Obsolete."

I think gloppen should be revived as a word used for sensory-overload in special kiddos. I need a word like this. Think how much shorter it would be to say "I'm sorry he screamed at you, he was feeling gloppen" instead of "he was feeling terrified and distressed by too much sensory input and since his brain was flooded he could not remember the appropriate response to create some space to stop all the stimuli."

Unfortunately, I don't think this will happen since Gloppen is also a place in Norway and a last name, according to Google.

But I have more than a thousand pages, so I'm sure I will eventually discover something. I am a verbivore, I need words as much as I need food. This is why I cannot actually do a "Wordless Wednesday" post. :)

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Book Notes: The Cure

by Bill Thrall, Bruce McNicol, and John S. Lynch

My paraphrase of their ideas: When we turn to other things instead of to God, we are telling the world that new life in Christ doesn't really work, and believing the ultimate lie, that God can't satisfy me as much as _____.

I know that lie. We have been frenemies for a long time, but thanks to The Cure, I am free at last. As someone I know said, "I'm already an apple tree." Except in the book's example, it was a butterfly. I'm sorry but that isn't going to make much sense until you read the book.

This book kick-started my pondering on idolatry

Favorite quote:

"They are waiting more than living, often missing the destiny already being offered day by day."

Saturday, November 9, 2013

On My Sensory Son

Do you see the four spoons and the cup wrapped in a napkin sitting in a mug? That is how we eat ice cream around here because it's sticky, the cup sweats and the ice cream melts too quickly. I don't really mind accommodating my son's sensory issues as long as I find something that consistently works, which is often a moving target. Just when I find a groove that seems to keep us all happy, or at least the meltdowns to a minimum, everything changes.

What I work on the most is helping him to express what he does not like, because then we can fix it. Temperature? Texture? Appearance? Sound? Smell? He is getting better at telling me what's wrong, and he trusts me to fix it. He told me he doesn't like people coming over when he's watching a show because they are too loud and he can't hear his iPad. He doesn't like some people because of the way they smell. He is beginning to tell us what he's afraid of or what he doesn't like when he's anxious in social situations. He wore headphones during a family worship night at our church; my heart almost burst with pride. There he was, joining in with other kids, having a good time. As a baby, we couldn't even take him to church. This doesn't make his sensory needs go away, but it lets us form a plan. Once he knows he can do something about it, control some of it, he feels powerful, successful, less confused and overwhelmed. Slowly, slowly, we are learning about and teaching each other.

I call his extra-sensitive-senses his superpowers, which helps me to reframe them into something positive, for both of us. My heart was glad the day I overheard him telling someone, "I am a really good smeller." 

There are a lot of tough days, but then there are beautiful, amazing moments that we both savor, which only happen because he does notice and feel everything so intensely. A blessing and a curse.

Friday, November 8, 2013

On Blogging and Belonging

Neither my life nor my blog have a specific theme. Motherhood yes, but loss too. Loss by death (SB), loss somewhat by choice (N&J), like a birth mother who gives up her children hoping it's best for them, but it breaks her heart all the same, except I was the foster mother.

Moments of grace like my pregnancies with Raccoon and Robin. Grateful for Raccoon. Grateful for Robin. Sad for what might have been and never was. Struggles, loss of dreams, of hope. Miracles. Living each day with paradox, choosing joy.

I am always looking to belong in a community. For awhile, I read a lot of infertility and adoption blogs, but even though I share some of the feelings, I don't really fit in those worlds. Today, I feel like a community of one.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

My Never Bucket List

Last year during Nablopomo, I posted a bucket list. This summer, I saw an I'll-never-do-that list over at Laughing at Chaos, and I thought, "I could never do that because I never say never." (I don't need to tempt fate, I've already got enough to deal with. You know how it is with the missionary who says she will never go to Africa, right? I heard that story in Sunday School and have not said I'll never do anything since. Until now.)

But here is my list of I-think-it's-safe-to-say-that-I'll-never...

* go sky diving
* climb Mount Everest (or anything that requires camping in the snow)
* be fluent in Russian, Chinese, German, French, or any other well-known language
* have an immaculate house (sorry, honey!)
* wax anything (again)
* sail around the world
* watch (another) horror movie
* be a professional athlete
* have a perfume named after me
* be paid to sing (or any type of performance, come to think of it)

This list is of things that I-can't-say-never-but-it's-highly-unlikely-that-I'll-ever...

* hold a public office
* live in Europe
* have more children
* shave my head
* sleep alone on an island
* meet anyone famous
* visit outer space

This list is my not-looking-good-but-still-hoping-I-may...

* play an instrument in a ensemble
* pick up a hobby (besides blogging)
* write a book
* travel the world
* attend conferences on topics of interest to me
* choose camping as my ideal vacation
* go back to college
* make a significant discovery (like a cure for cancer type thing, not just, whoa, I'm an INFP, which is significant to me, but not to anyone else, YKWIM?)

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: My Grampie

My Grampie George has been the love of my life since I was a baby. He and my Grammie Joyce were always my favorites and now he is my last living grandparent. Raccoon calls him Great-Grandpa-George. We recently talked on Skype, thanks to my brother, and Grampie George "met" Robin. He struggles with his memory, but he knew who I was, and he remembered that Raccoon has a sensitive stomach. He said Robin looks like me. I love you, Grampie, and wish you were here, or I was there for one last hug.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

On Letting Go

"I have learned to take pleasure in pain because it is simply a signal that a truth is stirring and I must wake up to find it. And usually for me waking up means letting go of a belief." - Jada Pinkett Smith, The Trials of a Fatherless daughter (facebook post, January 23, 2013)

The last few months have been as close to perfect as life on earth can be, for me. Lots of time spent with family, nature, and space to just breathe and be. Not every day has been great, there are still struggles, but we have been unhurried, with commitments to no one but ourselves.

"God creates and enjoys the process of life... The opposite of going too fast is going too slow. Process assumes a change... Beware of trying to get things done too fast and watch out for hanging onto things too long." - Bob Schultz in his book Created for Work

Part of wisdom is knowing when it's time to let go and of what to let go. I am not good at this. I hold on, linger. Try to keep too much.

"There's a sweetness to owning your dreams so tightly and vividly that you can taste them while they're still just dreams. And in the very next heartbeat, there's a certain bitter in loosening your hold on what could've been. What I've decided... is that it's okay (Good even?) to plant your feet right into that saltiness. To let yourself feel that sadness and that letting go. 

In fact, it might be the only way to take that step forward." 

Making decisions is bittersweet because it sends us down a certain path. As C.S. Lewis said, "Choices are real but not infinite." Saying yes is also saying no.
Why am I so torn up about this? Because I will never live close to everyone I love. 

For a time, we were not sure if we'd be heading back to South America. I love it there and I love what we do, so when I looked at what was really holding me back, it was fear. And fear is not from God. Peace is. If I take fear out of the picture, then going back is the clear choice, this time. 

This also means saying goodbye to family, again. The leaving gets harder and harder. Our time here on earth is also finite. How many more visits will we have? Will our moments together be enough to fill the gaping hole made when we fly away. I mourn, I grieve. My heart wants to live in this moment of togetherness and not see past it. 

But even if we stayed, I would have to let go at some point to live my life. This idle idyll could not last. Instead, I will drink it to the last drop, and keep the cup, and a picture of the cup, and the napkin the cup sat on, and the box the cup came in...

Monday, November 4, 2013

On My Faults and My Mini-Me-Mirror

I tell Raccoon that we are like two peas in a pod, he and I, which is why we drive each other crazy sometimes. We also love each other ferociously. He and I are the two negative charges and the King and Robin are the positive ones. Their energy is soothing to us and keeps our family balanced. They are a mellow balm to our intensities.

From the beginning with Raccoon, my husband would exclaim in exasperation after an hour of demanding play that inevitably ended in baby tears of frustration, "He is just like you!" At first, I thought this was highly unfair, but as time went on, I began to see the truth in it. There's a reason that I call my faults blind spots; they are glaringly obvious to everyone else except me.

Raccoon is my mini-me-mirror, or magnifying glass. The things that I yell at him for most are the very things that I don't like about myself. What I criticize in others is exactly what I don't like about myself. "You spot it, you got it," said Gretchen Rubin, but Jesus knew this truth first. "Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye." Matthew 7:1-5

You should try catching yourself sometime, it's veeeeeery eye-opening, once you get past the denial of course. I'm not like that! Some people never get past that stage. How many times have I thought, "She doesn't like him/her because they are the same!"

Another wise man said, "But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was." (James 1:22-24) Or as King David wrote, "Who can understand his errors? Cleanse me from secret faults." (Psalm 19:12)

So in the interest of taking the beam out of my own eye before I try to pick out the speck in Raccoon's, here are some things that I struggle with, as shown to me by my mini-me-mirror. I don't like it, but I accept it as truth. If I didn't struggle with these things, then they wouldn't bother me as much in Raccoon:

Never satisfied
Act without thinking of the consequences for others
Hard to sidetrack from what I want
Don't take responsibility, think that everything is someone else's fault.
Take things too much to heart

Ugh. Not a pretty picture. With other adults, the things I criticize the most are being manipulative (always having an agenda) and being a know-it-all. Ouch. This is the bad news.

The good news is that this hypersensitivity is also like a superpower. My husband frequently points out particular faults in others that I do not see. I've learned to trust him since he has been inevitably right. And if I sense my faults in others, I now pay attention. If you listen to other people's criticism, then you are given the keys to their struggles (I can't stand him, he's so _______!) I find this useful because I like knowing what makes people tick, and getting to the heart of the matter.

I tell you this to be used in a merciful way, not to deal others the ultimate low-blow in their area of particular weakness. Be kind, we are all struggling. I am learning to accept this truth and try to use it for good, seeing the faults in myself and also trusting my instincts about others. As much as I hate my faults, I do like having a superpower.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

On Not Writing

Walker Evans (photographer) said, "I wanted so much to write that I couldn't write a word."

Yes. That sums up why I'm giving up, three days in (not on the daily post, but on actually finishing anything I have pending in my drafts that requires time and effort and more than 10 minutes of coherent thought). 

Now that I've lowered your expectations here's what I do have for today. I just finished watching Monster University

I have a 4 year old, so I've seen most (every?) major child's movie released in the last ten years. Pixar's movies are by far my favorites. I like Mike Wazowski's story, how he wasn't afraid to work hard for his dream despite its improbability. And I liked Pixar's take, that we do have to adapt to certain circumstances.

When it comes to big dreams, the more I want something, the more it seems to actually be wrong for me. I certainly didn't choose my first dream all that suitably. I'm thinking that my second choice, writing, might not be it for me either, although I think it's something I'll always enjoy as a hobby. I am afraid that I have a knack for this instead - choosing the wrong dreams. Hopefully, along the way I'll stumble into something I'm good at that's good for me too.

What's next? I don't know. But my 2014 word of the year is DREAM. And to just go where the river takes me (while staying sane at home all day with my adorable and more-persistant-than-a-wave-of-zombies children, whom I love). (Hello Raccoon and Robin if you ever read this someday. I know I seem old to you today, but someday you'll think 31 is young. XOXO, Mom).

P.S. i forgot that the King is taking our laptop on a trip for ten days right in the middle of Nablopomo. Things are about to get hairy. Writing deep, thought-provoking posts on my son's iPad, even if I do manage to wrestle it away from him? Proooooooooobably not going to happen. But in honor of modified dreams everywhere, I'm still going to give it a go.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

On Mysteries

When I read articles about the discoveries of early human skeletons, like this or that, I always wonder what the full story is? Maybe Noah had flared cheekbones. I'm curious how all the pieces fit together.

I also love stories about animal discoveries, like this one about a giant manta and some others I've seen recently along the lines of "We thought this was extinct but it's not." It makes me wonder, what is still out there in our world? Sometimes it seems like we know everything, but I'm glad that actually, we don't.

The common goldfish is the only animal that can see both infrared and ultraviolet light. - Wikipedia

Friday, November 1, 2013

On Tasks and Time

I sat down tonight to write out my first post for Nablopomo, and I told myself, "I'll take an hour, jot down a few thoughts, then take a few minutes to edit them into something understandable. I can do this." Two hours later, I now have two pages of jumbled thoughts and no coherent post at all. 30 decent essays with maybe a few good ones and perhaps a brilliant one somewhere in there during the month of November? Not going to happen.

My imagination frequently clashes with reality, especially in my perception of time and how long things take. I am usually overly optimistic (I can whip out a great post from scratch in an hour on a topic that I've been thinking about for months), but there are also certain tasks that I avoid because I feel like they'll "take forever." These might be the dishes, cooking, housework, or any disagreeable task. It was almost a revelation when I discovered that it only actually took me 20 minutes to make homemade pizza for my son.

It's probably not surprising that I rarely arrive anywhere on time. I am usually either just early or late enough for it to be embarrassing. My husband manages time so well that he makes the day cry for mercy. I've known people who have broken down into tears after just following him around all day; it's like completing a marathon. Getting things done seems so easy for him. I can't even seem to sort the mail without an existential crisis.

I am also optimistic about how much time I need to sleep, "I'll feel great with six hours." I've had trouble with that one since middle school, as soon as my parents stopped putting me to bed. Family life does not generally cater to the night owl. I spend most of the day trying to wake up my brain, then when it is finally awake, it is time to sleep and I have to work at shutting it off.

I feel like I haven't emptied my brain in so long, the circuits are all clogged. Hopefully I will be able to get some things off my mind this month. At least I have started. That is how I deal with most tasks, just get started and the time will come.