Saturday, March 27, 2010

Things I am Loving This Week

It's been a good week. It's been a good couple of weeks, even. Some things stand out.

Things I am Loving This Week Month

Dancing and moving within the dance/pattern of the community. Abandoning myself to the joy in the dance.

Smiling so much my face muscles hurt almost as as my feet.

Pale purple hyacinths, luxurious color, luxurious scent.

Being reminded of Mary Oliver poems.

A blustery hour when the chill wind contrasts with the warmth that has come before.

Cadbury milk chocolate Easter eggs.

Watching the little girl decide to try eating things like carrots and yellow squash, bok choy, even, for heaven sakes!

The sound the little girl makes when she's engaged with something she finds delightful - scrambled egg, soft fuzzy teddy bear, the cat's tail brushing by.

And a few more to keep up my morale while I recover from an injury.

Little girl Summer shirts.

Meeting hip neighbors in unexpected places.

Flannel pants in irresistibly cozy-cheerful prints.

Seeing slivers of baby molar break through.

Stealing "couple time" in the evening.

Vermont "roots" music and old-English harmonies.

Baby learning to make animal noises. Hoo!hoo! Oo-oo-oo-ah! Bzz! Muuuh.

Flamboyantly wine-colored sugar berry blossoms.

Seeing friends after a long time without contact: Out-of-state friend blowing into town for an evening. Comfortably hanging out with college friend and her family, playing with the kids. Dance friends including us in a pizza run for food, conversation and silliness.

House renovations creating views of space and light.

Humorous commiseration with Mom friend about ummm, life after baby. :)

Singing Here Comes The Sun as the morning light gets into our eyes.

Blowsy trees blooming pink and white, blowing petals across the yard in a rain storm.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Learning How to Chastise Cats

We have squirt bottles stashed all around the house in case of cat misbehavior. Since the cats engage in all sorts of neurotic and passive-aggressive behavior when I am nursing or otherwise engaged with the little girl, she gets to see and hear a lot of cat chastisement. "Bacio, no!" "Stop, cat!" "Ouuut!" "Nooooo." Sometimes, "What a sweet boy he is, yes he is." but more often, "Stop, you blankity, blank!" (No, I don't actually say that one, but I think it a lot.)

This week, we've caught the baby playing with the squirt bottle several times. The little girl can't actually get her hands around the handle to manipulate the lever, but she does hold it up by the handle and say, "sst! sst!" Why yes, honey, that's exactly how you do it. lol!

We nearly fell out laughing the first time we saw this. I supposed I should be grateful that she hasn't learned to say, "G-d-D-mn Cat!" Shhhh. I'm keeping my mouth shut.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Perfectionism and Reclaiming The Doing

Peculiar Momma aka Shaletann wrote an especially pertinent post about perfectionism recently, and boy, did I really need to read it today. She gave me much to think about.

Sometimes I get so jealous of people who accomplish great & beautiful things. Sometimes I'm more sad than jealous because I am not accomplishing those things. I'm not as wonderful/confident/accomplished... blahblahblah.

I "do" a lot of things, but as she said, I don't always feel I can "claim" them. As if we can't use the noun to describe what we are verbing?

I must be a cook because I DO COOK, but my standards of what I should be to claim it are absurd. I am a photographer, but I don't have a "serious" camera or sell prints or have won fame and acclaim. I still call myself a photographer. I heartily resist being shoehorned into someone else's ideal of what a label means.

Now, my own ideals are harder to live with. I am cursed with high standards. And of course, I can never live up to my high aspirations because there is always a higher ideal. All I can do is follow my joys and desires and Do The Thing, whatever that is.

Some of the things I actually DO:

Photograph, See, Capture


Keep track of my schedule

Find new ways to organize

Write, Read, Edit & Shape





Console, Welcome & Inspire

Think, Dream, Envision, Problem-solve







Notice & Identify Wildflowers & Wildbirds

Play, Breathe, Smile, Dance

I notice that some (but not all) people are contributing to the curse. If you say you are a ____ (fill in the blank), others may start asking if you have accomplished this or that to test you. And if you don't measure up to their standards, they ask you how you can be a _____.

They sometimes even get offended that you claim the label. "How can you be a ___? You don't even ___!" Perhaps we have even spent our formative years being told, "You are not a ___. Don't think you are so special." Holy cow, what does that say to a person's self?!

Listen, I don't say I do all of these things well, I just say I do them. As long as I write, I am a writer, no matter how purple the ink might get.

I'd like to be good at them, these lovely ideals, but why should I justify what (or for that matter, why) I do?

It's sad, though, that of my whole list above, only a few items are immune to my feeling the need to qualify or justify myself. I've been retraining myself to avoid my habitual self-deprecation, You fraud, you!. Now stop it, I tell myself. You are too!

I remind myself that the Doing is more important than the ideal. The doing justifies that I am Someone Who Does The Thing, yes? Even if I don't it well!

I love this quote from Shaletann :
This imperfect blanket is perfect for keeping my lap warm on chilly nights. Just as my messy house is a perfect shield against the rain and wind. Smooshed cupcakes still taste delectable and my scuffed shoes still protect my feet.

Why should our lives and our Doing be trapped in a cage of perfectionistic standards? That is not real life. Even nature's kernels of perfection are wrapped in chaos. We can spend our life's energy making beauty and striving towards perfection, and that is inspiring, but any so-called "perfection" is wrapped in a lot of imperfect Doing.

Shaletann points out that Perfection Doesn't [really] Exist. I would add, At least outside of our own heads. The inner perfectionist is all too ready to pounce on an imperfectly achieved doing. I'm already grumbling to myself about restructuring this post. And yet, and yet...

There is joy in the Doing. There is joy in the Having Done. There is joy in claiming that you are One Who Does. Thank you to Shaletann for reminding me.

And I am so happy to do the things I do. I am a photographer, a writer, a cook, a performer, a caring friend. Doing is delectable even if a little smooshed. Yum. What a delicious life!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Things I'm Loving This Weekend

Several jars of homemade lentil stew all put away in the fridge.

Freshly washed hair in a loosely confined tousle at my neck.

A brisk sunny evening walk down the street.

Shalet's blog Peculiar Momma and her "for the love of color" posts.

Writing down all expenditures in approximately neat categories in the budget book.

Smells like Spring, somehow. Mud, mud, glorious mud!

Incremental kitchen rearranging.

My in-laws telling DH to encourage me to "keep taking pictures." Considering the source, that's as huge an acknowledgement as you could imagine. (heh. As if he could stop me.)

Anticipation of listening to a new music CD.

Victorian murder mysteries featuring Oscar Wilde,"playwright, poet, wit, raconteur, detective...," and choc full of plot, personality, and real/fake bon mots, not to mention the flamboyantly designed covers.


Writer-gardener Frank Hyman's latest essay, Happiness is a Glass of Water, and this quote: "...a good portion of one's daily happiness can be derived from the small domestic pleasures of life."

A little girl who has learned to put herself back to sleep.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Shifting Underfoot

Sometimes things change, and it may be so gradual and subtle that it takes a while for the shift to register. Maybe they are not so much changes as shifts. It's a good word.

A few new shifts becoming apparent recently:

My pants are getting a little looser. I know there is something going on when I'm constantly having to hitch up my best reliable pair of jeans. Not so reliable now. I think this means I may have to find another pair of reliable pants. But I'm okay with that because...

Ever so slightly, I'm losing weight. I had been eating more vegetables and good food, but I hadn't been able to break below a certain postpartum poundage. Now suddenly, it's dropped a few pounds and stayed there. My husband tells me he's noticed me looking slimmer, too.

I'm cooking more. Not only am I cooking more dinners, for goodness sake, but I'm cooking lunches as well. What has come over me? I'm not complaining. It gives me something healthier to feed the little girl when she demands that I feed her food off my plate. Two theories: I'm inspired by Smitten Kitchen's ability to whip up wonderful food in her minuscule Brooklyn kitchen space. And now that the rest of my kitchen cabinets/counter spaces have been installed, I have a nicer, larger, more efficient kitchen space to work with, even without permanent counter tops. I'm getting used to not having to constantly walk to the other end of the room. Instead, it's all in front of me or close at hand. Makes it easier to get right to it. It's niiiice.

The light is shifting in the sky. Spring is inching closer. I'm repeatedly surprised and delighted by finding sunlight falling on new places within the house. It's letting me know that it's March now and I'd better start some more seedlings.

My hair at my hairline continues to grow in in short wavy curls. This is a mystery. I don't think I singed off my hairline or suffered any other trauma. Maybe I get bonus hair as I age?

I'm embracing my parenting routine. Nurse, play, read, kitchen chores, nurse, nap, read, lunch! We work in a lot of reading and playing and goofing off, and it's all learning too. I wanted to be a parent, but I did not expect to be getting so much out of my daily routine. Introducing new parts of the body, reinforcing vocabulary and signs, reinforcing limits with love, reinforcing our lovey connection, singing songs, narrating the world. Wow. It really is a cool life.

My feet really hurt at times. I didn't used to be so tender. I put a lot of stress on them dancing. I am reminded yet again - Ah yes - I need new dance shoes.

I have seen the return of my menses. Apparently, it does show up at some point even when one is still nursing. I'm disappointed that it didn't hold off even longer, but it's just a new shift to deal with. Reminds me that my body continues to adjust and readjust to having given birth and to continuing nursing, but maybe not as consistently or as much as before.

The little girl's awareness is ever expanding. She watches me prime the breast before nursing, and then when I say "okay," she deliberately lunges forward to latch. She notices crows flying high up in the sky. She notices when and what I eat. She notices when we say, "stop right there!" and knows when she chooses to obey or ignore us. She notices the sirens going down the street. She notices when I say, "crap!" and tries to imitate me. Oops! She responds when she sees a car moving or a dog or a cat or a horse in person. "Aooh!" she says, and her whole body jerks with her enthusiasm. Whoa!!! Did you see that??!!! Boy, do I ever. No more wailing like a high-pitched teakettle or grunting like a Wookie. Our little Wookie is ever so slowly growing up.

The yard is getting overgrown and a little shabby. Not much time for upkeep these days. I garden and tweak in five-minute intervals when I can.

The chickadees have returned to check out the feeders, although there hasn't been any seed there for at least two years. Smart bird. I feel badly that I haven't been able to keep up with feeding the birds this year. It's both happy and sad that they remember my stopping point. Smart bird has moved on to other venues. I hope he'll come back when I get my yard act together again.

Some friends have grown more distant. Two friends haven't returned emails in months. Note: I'm not talking about you! :) One is engrossed in supporting her aging mother. The other, who knows? She's not interested in meeting for lunch or talking about her life, so it's hard to tell. But I have other friends who consistently pop up every so often and again. I'm in a new stage of life myself, so maybe my focus is shifting. Maybe some friends are feeling distantly out of my circle. And some friends are evergreen with fresh, periodic contact. Everything is shifting, and I have control over only so much of it.

I'm having parental bonding moments with other parents. I am very surprised. I take the little girl to the park, and other parents strike up conversations. We learn ages and children's names first. We chat about development and encourage our baby to be social or to slide down the slide or to wave or say "thank you." I've not encountered much annoying competitiveness yet. Often, I'll be going through a local store, and my and my little girl's attention will be grabbed by another small child and her parents. We tell our child, "see the baby?" and covertly peek at each other. The parents smile and beam at the other baby, then make eye contact with the other parents if they seem inclined. The babies wave or stare solemnly or smile or try to kiss the other one. The parents encourage or discourage the contact, depending. Little girl mostly stares at anyone- adult or child - trying to be friendly. She can't quite figure it out how to respond. She's not ready to be wholeheartedly open to anyone she meets and so she just LOOKS at them with solemn big eyes. I enjoy being friendly if the parents are not standoffish. I'm still negotiating this whole Parent Conversation thing. It can be fun. I did not see that coming.

I think my sleep cycle is shifting. I'm often feeling ready for bed by eight in the evening, whereas I used to be ready to go dancing at that time. How did that happen?! My husband is very happy that my sleep cycle is apparently - cough, cough - shifting, because I've been a night owl most of the years he has known me, and our differing awake-times sometimes cause conflict. But not so much any more. Except, you know, when I catch a second wind and stay up late writing. Heh.

Life changes don't always come about in a big wave. Often they evidence as little shifts. Interesting, that.