Tag Archives: happiness

Surrender

Surrender. Just surrender to it all. Even if it is hard. Even if it feels like quitting. Just take a big, deep breath and let it all go.

This is a lesson that keeps reappearing in my life and one I have to relearn or re-remember continuously. I’m not sure why, but my go-to move is to cling to goals and ideas and plans even when they are not working or making everyone miserable. Even when it’s causing the internal twining and winding of my guts and resulting in anxiety. I’m telling you right now: It’s better sometimes to just surrender and stop trying to force things. To let go of thinking you have control. To give up on being “right” or the way you are “supposed” to be or on fighting your own nature.

My latest reminder came this morning from Tiny-Small’s preschool teacher. Let me back up a bit here and give you some history. Tiny-Small started going to a preschool part time. Usually two days a week, from 9am to 3pm. Sometimes she would go three days, but rarely. She also sometimes goes to a home daycare provider, someone she has been going to since she was two. She started attending the preschool in September of this year. At first she loved it and we were all excited. Eventually, though, the long days made her tired. Then she started getting bullied a bit by an older boy at the school. She complained about him off and on. Then she stopped wanting to go all together. By the end of October she was going sporadically at best. It was a fight every morning on the days she was scheduled to go and some days she was so distraught we decided not to take her. There were days she cried until she vomited. I was very concerned. She truly did not want to be there.

When Jim’s mom passed away at the beginning of November we kind of went into survival mode. We made plans to go to California and I knew that we would be getting home right before Thanksgiving so I called the school and said Tiny-Small wouldn’t be there for the entire month.  I just knew it wasn’t going to happen. We were under a lot of stress and dealing with grief and just trying to maintain some level of calm and organization. Plus the school was going to be closed the week before Thanksgiving anyway.

Surrender
The most calming image I could find.

We brought Tiny-Small back to school on December first. To our surprise she actually wanted to go. She was genuinely excited that morning as we dropped her off, but when she came home that afternoon she said she didn’t want to go back. She only wanted to go to the home daycare from now on.

I understood. She’d been through a lot of change and has endured a lot of stressful moments lately. Our schedule has been messy and now the holidays are making it difficult to return to a familiar routine. She likes the comfort of the home daycare. She knows everyone there. She’s accepted and happy there. It’s her safe place. Still, I didn’t want to give up on the preschool. I figured maybe if she just went more, or more consistently, or if we worked out what was upsetting her so much she’d like it better. I argued with Jim that he needed to get her there on time and pick her up on time because he is always late…ALWAYS late, but he’s doing his best. The ADHD sometimes gets in the way. Still, the being late does not make Tiny-Small popular with the teachers or the students. I figured it was likely contributing to her discomfort at school. But that wasn’t all of it, it was also a long day and the kids were often running wild and unsupervised. Not to mention the grades range from pre-k to high school. That’s a lot of age groups all in one place. Maybe it was all too much for her to navigate or take in at the age of four. Maybe she couldn’t handle so many people. She seems to prefer small groups like I do. Maybe she needs more structure and clear boundaries to feel successful and secure and maybe she’s just not mature enough to understand the dynamics and relationships 7 and 8-year-old kids have with each other.  There were many factors to consider. Then, of course,  there was the boy she kept talking about who seemed to really bother her and make her not want to be there. Still, I was sure these were all obstacle we could overcome with perseverance and more effort.

So, we fought about preschool for three more days. Tiny-Small didn’t want to go. Jim resented having to get her there at nine. I struggled with enforcing good attitudes and schedules.

Anyway, with all of this running through my mind this morning her teacher pulled me aside when I dropped her off. He wanted to know if she was going to start coming more consistently or on scheduled days. It was obvious he was annoyed with our seemingly cavalier approach toward school attendance and  I couldn’t blame him. Her sporadic attendance was interfering with his lesson plans and he never knew if he needed more or fewer materials. He thought the fact that she wasn’t there consistently made it hard for her to get past her shyness with the other kids (another thing that baffled Jim and I because she is not typically a shy person in any other setting). I understood the teachers dilemma and irritation. I also felt like a terrible parent. I told him she didn’t want to come and I didn’t know why and I felt bad making her go. I explained that my husband struggled to get her there on time and when he was running really late thought it was better not to take her and disrupt the class. I told him I had been trying to create a more compatible schedule, but that it never seemed to work out. Then he asked, “Doesn’t she go to another school sometimes?” I said she went to a home daycare. Then he asked me, “Well, is that working well?” I said it was. Then he just stared at me. I was saved by another parent interrupting to ask a question. The teacher smiled at me and said, “Well, do what you can.”

As I drove off I started thinking about that one question, “…is that working well?” I know he was insinuating that maybe I should just stick with home daycare if we couldn’t conform to the preschool schedule. But, for me, it became a bigger question…if something isn’t working why do I keep trying to force it to? I started wondering why I was trying to contort myself, our life, and my daughter to fit into a place we so clearly did not belong. She didn’t want to be there. I dreaded taking her there. Jim couldn’t pick her up or drop her off on time. The schedule was not working with our schedule or our life. It was just making us all miserable. Still, admitting that felt like quitting or giving up. I felt like a failure as a mom and even as a human being. I couldn’t even get my daughter to school consistently. How would she ever grow up to be a productive member of society?

Then I cried all the way home.

I told Jim what had happened and we talked it over. We decided this would be her last day at the preschool. An hour or so later I felt like a great weight had been lifted. I breathed a sigh of relief. This was the best decision for our family even if it didn’t seem like the “right” one. Even if it was giving up.

I could beat myself up for hours and days about how I failed or about how we aren’t giving Tiny-Small a head start by sending her to a preschool, or about how ADHD sometimes gets the better of us, but I’m not going to. Instead I am going to surrender to the realities and challenges we live with. Instead I am going to do the best I can with what we have to work with and let go of the things that are only adding stress and no real benefit to the life we are trying to build. Instead I am going to listen to my daughter, accept our circumstances, and let go of the image I am holding in my mind about how things are “supposed” to be. Today I am surrendering and my soul is better for it.

I can breathe again.

I am wondering how long it is going to take me to learn this lesson. When will I be able to say no, to surrender to reality, or to accept my limitations and the limitations of my family with more grace?

Painting Pet Portraits For Bloggers Brings Me Joy

Painting pet portraits for bloggers is so much fun. I mean, bloggers have a sense of humor unparalleled to people in any other kind of profession, except maybe actual comedians. There are many setbacks and failures associated with blogging and I won’t even get started on the competition factor, so, to keep at it, you have to be able to laugh at adversity and be a little silly. I mean, you can’t take it all so seriously or you’ll drive yourself completely crazy.

Remember when I painted these guinea pigs for my blogger friend Not Blessed Mama?

Guinea-Pig-Art-Paining
Guinea Pig Art

I had so much fun because she wanted rainbows. I mean, guinea pigs and rainbows are kind of funny, right? We talked about it a lot on Twitter. Funny tweets about unicorns and rainbows and guinea pigs was bantered back and forth. Until, one day, it all cemented into place and became a real thing. A real painting.

I am writing about this again because Not Blessed Mama has her guinea pig painting at home now and she wrote about it on her blog. She even has pictures of her guinea pigs looking at their own portraits which is humorous and a bit surreal. I swear one of them is trying to eat the grass right out of the painting. I found it so funny and so endearing.

Not Blessed Mama also made me blush with her flattering words about my art and about me as a person. It’s nice to have such good friends. I hope you will take a moment to go check out her blog post I Commissioned A Painting Of My Guinea Pigs because she is really funny and the pictures she posts with it are too.

Selling a painting is always a good thing, but selling one to a blogger brings me joy. I think that’s because they like to tell stories and when I get to hear the stories revolving around my painting it adds a new dimension to my creation. When I read about kids tearing the package open in excitement, or I get an email with two little girls holding the portrait I painted of them it just makes me happy. When I see the framing someone picked out and they share the conversations they had (and have) with their spouse about the painting, it just makes me feel like my painting has a life of its own.

I believe strongly that all paintings tell a story, usually more than one. Those stories create connections between people. They inspire people. I think, for me, that is what art is all about.

 

 

 

I Come Down With Spring Fever And A Case Of Debilitating Happiness

I haven’t written in a while. I think I have Spring fever, writer’s block or I-just-don’t-want-to-do-it-itus. I’ve started three different blog posts (one is a review of the Toxic People seminar I attended), but just can’t seem to finish them. I stare at the computer screen and my eyes wander towards the window, out into the yard and to the garden. I just can’t bear to sit in a chair, inside, and write about my mundane life. It seems a bit mundane because outside seems spectacular with all of the warm weather, blue sky, billowing, white clouds, and humming birds to admire. Plus, nothing all that funny, frustrating, or interesting has happened in the last week.

Beets (With A Side Of Weeds) In The Garden

Well, that’s probably not entirely true, but I don’t seem to care enough to actually sit here and write about it. I’ve had a couple of emails inquiring about my health and if, in fact, I was actually still alive. I suppose my silence is a bit uncomfortable since I am usually droning on and on about something. It’s unusual for me to have so very little to say. I am usually complaining about something, making fun of myself, or putting a magnifying glass to the circumstances of my life, even as mundane as those circumstances often are on most days.

I am writing this to prove that I am still alive, I haven’t abandoned the blog, and that I did survive the toxic people seminar. I think the seminar impacted me in a positive yet negative way. I am trying to take better care of my self. This, according to the instructor, is the best defense for encountering toxic people ( I have oh so very many in my life) and for not developing into a toxic person oneself. This means going to bed on time, eating actual meals, living in the moment, and doing things that put me into the “zone” which shuts off my worrying brain for a while (the best remedy for worry -for me- is deep, intense concentration). These are all positive things, but the one negative is I am not staying up half the night to write the blog, anticipating what I want to write for the blog or snapping photographs for the blog. My new found self-care approach to life has not exactly been great for the blog. I am too busy preparing healthy meals, getting to bed at a reasonable time, and focusing on what is actually in front of me instead of planning what I want to write about in the future. It’s hard to be a blogger while living in the moment (at least for me). In short, I have come down with a case of debilitating happiness and job-threatening contentment. I mean, if I actually got paid to write this blog, I’d probably have to go on disability just to make ends meet, or something.

What Life Usually Feels Like
What Life Has Felt Like Lately

I am sure this will wear off as soon as I go back to being a cranky, sleep deprived mom, it starts raining again, or I start skipping breakfast on a regular basis. Nothing fuels my writing quite like irritation and too much caffeine. I am quite certain my new good habits will wear themselves out soon enough, just like house guests. I mean, who can keep up with the pace a healthy lifestyle requires? I know one day of chocolate binging and facebook can be a slippery slope that lands me back in the up all night, eating junk food, complaining about my life (in a very public way) phase. I am just postponing the inevitable for as long as possible. I am enjoying the break extra sleep, real food, and outdoors time can bring.

Also, there aren’t too many dull moments around here so I have learned to take advantage of them when they come along. There aren’t any major problems to solve, nobody is sick, the neighbor’s aren’t complaining about anything and we have everything we need. It’s a moment to pause, sigh, catch my breath and be grateful. I know it won’t last forever, but it’s happening right now and I don’t want to miss it!