Wednesday, May 26, 2010

30 Days to Graduation...

And so I will now be counting down (rather than counting up)...not because I'm anxious to finish this chapter, but because I feel like I need to have an awareness of how much time I have left so that I might savor each day. Despite my best efforts to keep it at an arms length, the franticness of ending has settled into my stomach. Not sure if that's where it tends to settle for others, but it is most certainly the place in my body where franticness tends to reside and there are always interesting side effects as a result.

It is so interesting that at the near half way point of this mission to care better for myself I discovered that I needed to complete another 100 hours at my internship in order to fulfill the prerequisite for Colorado licensure. Figuring out how to keep my head above water in the midst of this chaos has been a challenge. But somehow learning to let certain things go (like blogging every night) and choosing to hold onto other things (like going outside in the afternoons with the girls whenever we can) has been my saving grace. And the crazy thing is that once you have a taste of what it's like to not have your world spinning off it's axis, even if it's only for a few weeks, is enough to make you realize you never want to let things get that out of balance again. I am falling in love with the peacefulness that only seems possible if I am intentional about being attuned to my own needs in the midst of providing for others. I am learning how to mother myself...and how to find the mothering I still need from those around me (but more on that little bit later).

Monday, May 24, 2010

blogger break

I was in need of one. I'll be back tomorrow. But for now I thought I'd share a sweet dance video.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Day #30...

A few days ago I was overjoyed to share a meal in honor of one of my professors. She was my first-year practicum leader. My fellow MHGSers know something of the uniqueness of this kind of relationship. But for those of you need some further explanation let me simply say this - she walked beside a small group of us as we began the process of growing a mind to see ourselves and the world around us in new and sometimes painful ways. She is a woman who is often referred to as the "good enough mother" of MHGS. To me, she is one of the only women in my life who call forth the little girl in me. When she simply looks into my eyes I am aware of longing to curl up in her lap to cry and to rage at the lack of nurturance, love, acceptance and connection that has marked so many lives. At this special lunch, my professor (a.k.a. my psychological mother) reminded us (her psychological daughters) of the fact that we all need mothers...or mothering throughout our lives...and that perhaps the most difficult task is to mother ourselves.

I have been in need of much mothering in the past week. And I'm feeling this need more acutely today. I'm trying to learn what it means to clean up my own vomit (as I had to do for Krisalyn yesterday) - to comfort and soothe myself while something inside is making me feel sick and uncomfortable. I need someone to see past my foul mood and the way it is being projected onto everyone and everything else so that someone can help me make sense of why I feel the way I do right now (something I've attempted to help Faith with tonight). I am longing for someone to hold me and to tell me that though the world around me feels like it's chaotically and uncontrollably shifting that the love they have for me is constant, stable, unconditional and accessible.

Learning how to mother and care for others has always been a passion in my life. It's mothering myself that feels like the much more difficult task.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Day #26...

dancing. laughter. silliness. playfulness.

It was a long week...but ending it by joining others in celebrating the school year at our annual MHGS Spring Banquet was a delight. I'm not gonna lie...I was a bit sentimental tonight as I allowed myself to acknowledge that when I leave this place there are aspects of this experience that no one else will understand or fully know. There is a kind of knowing that can only be felt with this particular community as a result of our shared experience. And I am so thankful for what I have been able to be a part of these past few years.

And the silliness continues.

Look up "swagger" in Webster's and you'll see this photo. Where my mother-fathers at?

then again...maybe we are not quite as cool as we think we are.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Day #25...

Haven't stopped going since 6:30 this morning. And it's going to be a long night. Hoping that there will be time to recover at some point this weekend. wow. rest...I need rest. If this is what the next 6 weeks are going to look like, I'm going to need at least a month to recover after graduation!

Day #25 = F in self care.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Day #23...

There are some days that are harder to redeem than others. Today was one of those days. I discovered some discouraging news this morning that put me in a funk all day long. Tears were never far from my eyes. There isn't much room for sadness or disappointment in our evening routine. But today was an especially rough day on just about everyone in the Gauthier Clan. Today was a day that couldn't be rescued by a run, some time in the sun, a glass of red wine, or a long bath. In fact, after all of these efforts at self-soothing I found myself stuck in a place I don't like to visit very often. I was troubled by the sense that things often feel difficult in my life.

There never seems to be an easy road...and even if there was, I never seem capable of taking it. And I'm not sure if this all-too-familiar place I get stuck in occasionally is best described as self-pity or simply honest reflection. I'm painfully aware of the fact that many have lived ridiculously more difficult lives than I have up until this point in time which is why I want to shut the door to this darker cavern of my heart as soon as I sense that I'm approaching it's entrance. But a part of me wonders if minimizing my own struggles is really the answer.

As I was still desperately seeking some soothing tonight, I immersed myself in another Narnia book titled The Horse and His Boy. One of the characters, Shasta, a young boy, was feeling rather down about his own circumstances in his life and began to describe his woes to Aslan upon their first official meeting. Aslan responds in a way that reveals his presence throughout the boys entire journey:

"I was the lion who forced you to join with Aravis. I was the cat who comforted you among the houses of the dead. I was the lion who drove the jackals from you while you slept. I was the lion who gave the Horses the new strength of fear for the last mile so that you should reach King Lune in time. And I was the lion you do not remember who pushed the boat in which you lay, a child near death, so that it came to shore where a man sat, wakeful at midnight to receive you."

These days I find myself skeptical of a theology that identifies God as an abuser or inflictor of pain for the process of spiritual maturation, but I do take comfort in the idea that in the middle of the abuse, the pain, the struggles, God is there with us - guiding, comforting and attempting to soothe and develop us through it all.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Day #22...

I awoke this morning with a sense of nostalgia. Not sure what it was connected to...until I took a shower and used my new bottle of Exotic Coconut Shower Gel from Bath & Body Works. Immediately upon the release of the strong coconut scent I was back in our over-sized (which we affectionately refer to as family-sized) shower in tiny Kampala Cottage. It was how we ended almost every day when we were living overseas. I worked most mornings from the comfort of my back patio. I'd pick Krisalyn up from preschool three days a week around lunch time. We'd play and have a bit of time to ourselves before we'd head over to grab the other blonde-haired bundles of energy. Bri would prep his class for the next day of school and then we'd all head over to the gym and swimming pool. I'd usually hit up the treadmill for a run (it was where I first discovered that I was actually capable of running for an extended period of time) or a spinning class before joining the girls in the sun-heated pool for a bit of family fun. As the day began to make friends with the evening we would head back to our cottage and still dripping the pool water from our bathing suits we'd all jump in the shower together for a quick wash up.

It sounds luxurious doesn't it? It was...sort of. There was something beautiful about the space (or perhaps it was the "pace") we allowed ourselves during that difficult season. To be completely honest, it was one of the most difficult experiences of our lives. We were alone for most of the time we lived out there. We had departed from the only world we had ever really known together- a world that offered us a sense of belonging, purpose, consistency and stability. In Uganda our world was opened up in remarkable ways and in really painful ways. Brian and I were forced to see each other outside of the realm that had provided us with a sense of identity. We were forced to see the world-at-large...thoughts on poverty were no longer faceless. I was able to finally begin to face what it means to be a woman and to live in this world.

Strangely...or perhaps was in that season of our lives that we were kindest to ourselves in our day-to-day living. I lost a total of 17 pounds while we were there and not because I was trying to lose weight, but because I was eating fresh fruits and simple grains for most meals and because I was longing to reconnect with my own body in a way I had never desired to previously. We took time each day to play in the water with these girls that have offered us far more life than we have provided by simply birthing them. We read books. We began drinking (again for me...but a first for Brian). We spent time talking...a lot. Especially after the little ones with the most distinct swim-suit lines one could possibly imagine were tuckered out and on their way to the land of African dreams. We lived life in a very different way then.

So honor of a scent-inspired memory we played in the water (actually it was in the rain).

Sunday, May 9, 2010

I used to watch this kid dance when he was 15. My mom took classes from his mother's studio and they also leased our church facility for their recitals (since we had one of the best dance stages in the area). There are no words to describe the way an amazing dancer gets under your skin and marries the rhythm of your own heart beat as you sit mesmerized by the movement that they live into. This kid is up there in my book. He reminds me of Wade Robson a bit...but with his own unique Russian flare. Maybe I'll rent the Michael Jackson dvd after all.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Day #20...

wow. First week of the final chapter of my schooling at MHGS...and I am dragging already. This undeniable lethargy could be related to the fact that we were busy with some activity or another nearly every evening this week. Last night, after spending some quality time with my little ladies at our most-frequented park, Faith collapsed on the floor and said, "I am so tired I just feel like crying for some reason!" I couldn't have summed it up any better.

I didn't completely lose sight of being kind to myself...I actually ended up excusing myself from a couple of other commitments this weekend. My hope, though, is that at some point I begin to recognize my limits and live within them...rather than disregard them until I can no longer turn a blind eye. Learning my limits will keep me from having to go back and say "no" where I have already said "yes".

Sleep. That's what took precedence the last couple of nights. And it is beckoning me once again...

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Day #17...

One of my favorite family rituals is climbing into bed for a few minutes with each of the girls at night before they sink into their dreamland. It's a sacred time actually. Many profound and wonderful conversations are held in those moments. Many tickles and giggles and animal kisses accompany the bedtime snuggles as well. Magic happens in these moments of connection when I can look into the face of each of these girls and marvel at the miracle of their lives and our lives being interconnected, interwoven, intermingled. Tonight Faith asked me a series of questions starting with "Mommy, why is it okay to see each other naked when you're married?" And then a few minutes later she asked, "Why do people have to die?" And finally, "Why doesn't God just tell us everything about everything?...I wish I could just understand everything."

As crazy as it might sound, I absolutely love her questions. And Bailey and Krisalyn have plenty as well. Faith actually mentioned tonight that she thinks that she and her sisters are the most curious girls she's ever met. The questions don't frighten me. Often they echo the questions of my own heart. Imagine that. My little girls' hearts echo my own.

Staring into their little faces each night is one of the greatest gifts of my life.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Day #16...

When I showed up at our little clubhouse here at the Lodge (our current apartment complex) for my afternoon workout I was greeted with the sound-blasting news report of a woman recently murdered in the area. Instinctually I glanced up at the TV set to see her photo as the news reporter rattled off the detail that this woman has two surviving teenage children. My headphones were in my ears and my music was already playing, but it wasn't loud enough (apparently there was a hard-of-hearing resident in the workout area who needed the volume to be at its maximum capacity) to drown out the reporting of this tragedy. I turned my ipod up in an effort to wage war with the bombardment of more bad news...but the words kept seeping through. bomb...trial...and each time I would feel this gravitational pull to look up at the bad-news-bearing-screen.

I had to run hard today. I had to run hard so that I could stop thinking about the tragedies. I had to run hard so that I was forced to focus on one thing - placing one foot in front of the other on that freaking treadmill. When I've pushed myself to run hard in the past, more often than not it was a form of self-punishment. Not today. Today it was being kind to myself to run until it hurt and I could simply be in my body and not in my head. Self care came in the form of running my ass off today. Literally.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Day #15...

yes...I have shortened the title to this post. I'm just bored with the long title.

Just a little thought for the night. I've learned that self care necessitates that I spend at least some portion of the day or of my week being alone (a difficult task for a wife and mother of three). The fascinating thing I'm discovering, though, is that when I give myself this space and time to be alone, to check-in with myself, to sort of test my own temperature to assess the needs consistently, then I find that I am much more grateful for the time that I have with others. I'm not resentful towards them for being a part of the busyness that consumes my life. I'm not dissociating while i'm with them thinking of all the other things I should or could be doing. I'm not feeling hopeless and depleted because I have nothing left to give. Instead, I feel the honor of being able to come to a place where I can offer who I am to the relationship and can wait expectantly for the other to show up as well. A well-rested soul is a soul alive and ready to engage.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Mission: Care for Self Day #13

Totally skipped a post yesterday. Thought about it at 11 pm and decided the comfort of my bed was more appealing. Everything is about to start up again and then it will be a sprint to the finish line. I'm hoping that the last two weeks have prepared me well for the effort I'll need to exert in order to stick with this commitment in the thick of the chaos. We mapped out our lives for the next two months and discovered that there is something on the calendar for nearly every single day until we drive off in a big yellow Penske truck once again. Ready or we go.