Wednesday, February 19, 2014

I've Been Busy

It's been a long while since my last post. I'm still working on balancing time between the demands of motherhood, quality time with my husband, traveling to see family and friends, and my wellness, creative, and personal pursuits (of which blogging is one.) My blog ends up on the bottom of the list. And for some crazy reason, I even feel a bit guilty about my lack of blog posts. But why, I ask myself? No one is paying me to post. And while many people have commented that they enjoy reading my blog, I don't think anyone is anxiously awaiting the next NCB update. 
(But if you are, please let me know!) 

Since I haven't been blogging as much, I'll fill you in on some of my activities for the past few months. I've been focusing on some important things in my daughter's life. Things that are here today, but gone tomorrow. And I've been quite busy….

clearing traffic jams,

 attempting potty training,

pimping my child's ride,

mastering architecture and castle construction,

(and I'm actually quite proud of these),

building a sled MacGyver-style from a diaper box, packing tape, and belt, 

(and then letting go of the reign),

encouraging self-expression,

exploring our city,

giving Elmo dreadlocks and then supervising his haircut,

and driving a rocketship-sized cart throughout Whole Foods 
while navigating wild animals and an "I want this!" meltdown. 
(In full disclosure, this might have been the first time I didn't run into an aisle. 
These carts are huge. And tricky, my friend.)

Thanks for your patience between my posts. And thank you for following Nourish. Create. Bloom, 
my Dear Readers.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Glittering Thanks

A Very Happy Thanksgiving 2013

Here's how we give glitter thanks at our house.
Turkey Craft Number 1: Glam Gobbler
Clockwise from top left:
1. We found the inspiration for our turkey on a window at Beni's preschool.
2. I'm teaching her early- you can NEVER add too much sparkle.
3. Turkey in progress…


And here is our Glam Gobbler making his internet debut:


We were both so happy with how he turned out. He's a keeper for sure.
Turkey Craft Number 2: Sending Gratitude
Clockwise from top left:
1. and 2. Making handprint turkeys with paint and glitter.
3. The finished product says: We are thankful for you.
4. Sending our love to Godparents, grandparents, and beloved aunts and uncles.



Celebrating Thanksgiving at Preschool
Clockwise from top left: 

1. Beni-Bird modeling her Native American headband.
2. The Williams family feather: what we are thankful for.
3. Side view of previously mentioned fashionable headdress.
4. A huge turkey of thanks at Beni's school (one feather contributed by each family.)


Thanksgiving Day Traditions

Clockwise from top left:

1. and 3. Watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
2. Our vegetarian meal.
4. One dessert for each of us. 


A Night of Thanks

Clockwise from top left:
1. Gratitude-themed books.
2. Sitting by the fire for story time.
3. My art journal entry for 11-28-2013.
4. I've been recording blessings in my gratitude journal since 2002.


And one more thing I'm so grateful for…..
 you, Dear Reader.

***
PS: Please forgive the funky formatting and the extra spaces. I swear, it doesn't look like this on my end. I spent over an hour trying to fix it and then decided to publish "as is" before I lose my good feelings of gratitude. What a relief it is to let go of "perfection"!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Oh My, Lucky Star!

Last March my spirited friend, Kristen Roedner (who's been rumored to poop rainbows), told me about a whole living art camp I just *had* to attend. Since I have the utmost confidence in her creative recommendations, I immediately signed up.

Now, fast forward to early this October when Kristen picked me up at the San Antonio airport in her pink flying pig. 



The two of us headed off on the backroads of the Texas Hill Country with the sun shining, top down, hats on, and me feeling like Thelma. Or Louise. Our destination: Lucky Start Art Camp. 


Lucky Star was a Texas-sized experience. I could write several blog posts about it, but since I've been a bit lax on the blogging lately, I'm going to cram it all into this one. I hope the magical essence of the experience shines through my words and photos. 


Look at this place! Lucky Star Art Camp was held at Waldemar, an all-girl's camp in continuous operation since 1926. 

I'm pretty sure my Waldemar cabin was built (and possibly decorated) in 1926. How I wish I had taken photos to show you! There was a kitschy Western cowboy mural on the wall over the fireplace. And kitschy Western cowboy comforters on the bunks. And kitschy Western cowboy curtains over the windows. I loved it all! Everyday as I stepped into my cowboy boots, this East Coast girl felt like a real Texan. (For the the first time, even though we moved to Dallas three years ago.)



While there were a variety of lodging options, I went for the full-camp experience and bunked with Kristen and four strangers, who I came to adore.  My cabinmates were an incredible mix of women: the famous novelist, the intuitive healer, the hilarious Jersey girl who once kissed Bradley Cooper, the super sweet and quiet Houston stay-at-home mama, Kristen, and me. Six of us in a small rustic cabin with one bathroom and four bunk beds. It could have been a disaster, but it was magic. We laughed, we cried, we stayed up late to talk. I felt like I was back in my sorority house. My cabinmates and the other women I met at camp were remarkable, creative, generous spirits who made my experience sparkle.



A wide array of classes were offered at camp: quilting, jewelry making, sewing, canning and preserving, cheese-making, photography, apothocary, intuitive healing, painting, creative writing, and more. It was hard to narrow down my choices, but I finally selected:


1. Happy Painting with Juliette Crane (held on the banks of the Guadalupe River!)

2. Dreambook by Shawn Stratmann, and 


3. How to Write a Children's Story by Katherine Center.
(BTW, I just finished her latest novel, The Lost Husband, and I highly recommend it.)

Besides our classes, we could hike and explore, paddleboard or canoe, swim, do yoga, or horseback riding. And the food! Fresh and local and healthy. But most of all, yummy.  We had incredible evening programs about slow family living, eating well for the planet, and dream setting. After evening program, we sat around the campfire and listened to Mandy Rowden sing and play her guitar. All that was missing was a round of kumbaya.


I really shouldn't complain about anything. Except that I'm a nature lover who would prefer to never see creepy crawlies. And two cabins down a tarantula was found outside. And scorpions frequent this part of Texas. And a frog got into our cabin one night. I am big-time bug phobic and would also prefer frogs stayed outside. Good thing I didn't see any of them, so I was still able to sleep. Braving the wild creatures of Texas was worth it, and I'm already signed up for Lucky Star next year.

***

And don't worry, Dear Reader, I know you want to hear more about my friend, Kristen, so a whole post on her is coming soon.)

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

My Mom and Alzheimer's- Forever Grateful for Just ONE Moment

Me and my mama, Jacqueline Joslin Sellers.
In this photo, my mom is 39, the age I am now.

I had a "normal" mother for the first 30 years of my life. But by my wedding date, she was no longer the mom I knew.

My mother has Alzheimer's Disease.

When I finally became a mother at the age of 36, the "loss" of my own mother became more apparent. Strands of this deep loss are woven into my extreme joy. I see how my friends' mothers interact with their grandchildren and I feel sad. Sad that my daughter, my mother, and I were all robbed of generational experiences that I now long for. 

My mother will never know my daughter. My daughter will know of her maternal grandmother, but she will never know her. Not on this Earth, or in this lifetime anyway. I am comforted by a vivid dream my sister, Marilee, recently shared with me. In it, my mother told Marilee that when she wasn't here (mentally present), she was with God and it was beautiful. Marilee said my mother radiated peace and that Mom was the happiest and most beautiful she'd ever seen her.

I'm embarrassed and saddened to admit I never truly appreciated my mother until I became a mother myself. Until then, I focused on her flaws and her parenting faults. But now I want to ask her how she did it. How did she manage birthing and caring for my four brothers all by the age of 26? How and why did she manage to have six children when I find one overwhelming? How did she sacrifice so much to raise us all? How did she not seem to be tired, stressed, or depleted? These are questions that will go unanswered.

At the end of September, my little girl (I call her Beni-Bird) and I flew from Texas to the east coast to visit my family. We made an overnight trip to my hometown and got a chance to see my mom. 

My brother, Paul, and Marilee tried to prepare me as I hadn't seen her for two years. Mom is now in a wheelchair, they said, and sometimes she is unresponsive. Paul said he stayed only three minutes last time because it was just too painful to see her in that state. 

As fate would have it, when I saw Mom it was a "good day" for her. She was awake, and alert, and in a pleasant mood. I knew Mom wouldn't know who we were. But still I was unprepared when my brother, Mark, introduced my sister and I and she asked, "But where are the real ones?" 

My active two and 1/2-year-old seemed to sense the seriousness of the moment. She was very still as I introduced her. "Beni, this is my mama, your grandmother."

At the end of our visit, we all wheeled Mom back into the dining room of the Alzheimer's unit. We put her at the table amid the other unit residents, some who needed to be fed by an aide because they had forgotten how to feed themselves. Mom asked us not to leave her because then, "Who will I talk to?" 

I put Beni in front of her and once again told Mom this was my daughter, her granddaughter. Mom just kept repeating, "she's so beautiful, she's so beautiful" and even got teary as she said it. This was my ONE moment. My mother acknowledged my daughter on an emotional (and dare I say spiritual) level. 

Then, with tears streaming down my face, I knelt down by my mother's side and told her she was a good mother. I told her I loved her very much and I gave her a hug. And then I got a second gift- she told me she loved me. 

There is a lot my family lost to Alzheimer's disease. But on that visit, I was given one precious moment of my mother, myself, and my daughter all together; and my mom was as aware as she could possibly be. She was moved to tears by my child, and it was a beautiful ONE moment. That moment is all I will likely ever have. So I will hold onto it. And repeat it often to my daughter. And forever be grateful. Forever grateful for ONE moment.

***

Dear Reader, please take note:

November is the month to celebrate gratitude. It also happens to be my mom's birthday month and National Alzheimer's Awareness Month. For all of these reasons, I dedicate this post to my loving mother, Jacqueline Joslin Sellers.

Several years ago I wrote a post about my mom's Alzheimer's called Reflections from the Old Folk's Home. This was before her mental state deteriorated so much that she needed to be moved away from my father's care and into full-time care in the Alzheimer's unit.

A version of this current post first appeared on Voices from the 'Ville.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Mama's Back-to-School Routine




Back-to-school prep means getting your little one(s) ready for a new academic year; buying backbacks, notebooks, and number two pencils. It's a time of excitement, new beginnings, and brand-new shoes. 

Take advantage of this fresh start! Reassess your personal or family goals and then plan action steps. You can do it! 

For example, here are my goals for the upcoming semester:

1. Continue to exercise 2-5x a week.

2. Carve out designated writing times 2 or more times a week.

And here's my action plan:

1. Check out the yoga and Zumba schedule at my gym and add classes into my Google calendar each week. 

2. Schedule at least two weekly sessions of writing time. 

3. Invite girlfriends for gym, walking, or writing/work dates. 

4. Track my weekly progress in my goal notebook.

My big plan is to head to the gym right after preschool drop off (before I get side-tracked with other to-dos), work out, and then meet a girlfriend in the cafe for a "work" date. By putting these appointments on my calendar, I'm honoring my stated priorities. But I took a second step as well- writing down my goals and putting them on my bathroom mirror. I figured a motivational quote and some glitter couldn't hurt either. Now I have a gentle (and sparkly) reminder of my intentions that I'll see several times a day.

So, Dear Reader, what are your personal or family goals for the next semester? Take a moment to write them down and plan action steps. Put them in your calender, make a sign for extra motivation, and then look ahead for the rewards.

***

Take Note: A version of this post was previously published on Voices from the Ville.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

10 Easy Steps to Regain Your Sparkle

I'm taking a brief break from the Women to Admire series, to bring you the following Public Sparkle Annoucement:


Several posts ago, I wrote about how the demands of motherhood dulled my sparkle as I put my self-care on the back seat. Since then, I've tackled the mama guilt head-on and I've been taking better care of myself. Operation Reclaim sPaRkLe is in full swing! And these suggestions can help you even if you don't have little energy suckers darling little children. So read on, my Sparkle Sisters, read on.

Here are ten quick and easy steps you can take to aid in your very own Operation Reclaim sPaRkLe.

1. Record the Happiest Moment of Your Day.
Keep a journal on your bedside table. Before turning out the lights, take 1-2 minutes to jot down your happiest moment of the day. You will end your day on a positive note and will soon have an incredible written record of what actually makes you happy. This can be an invaluable tool for future life planning!

2. Take a Bath.
It's good for the spirit and for an aching mama's body. Epsom salts, dead sea salts, and a few drops of essential oils can work magic.

3. Meditate While You Wait.
The next time you are waiting (in line, in traffic, or for someone) turn your attention to your breath. On your inhale say to yourself: receive. On your exhale, say: relaxation. Even a few breaths can make you feel more centered and relaxed.

4. Go For a Walk.
Take a walk outside. Exercise and nature are both powerful rejuvenators and sparkle generators.

5. Clear Clutter.
Clean out one drawer a day (or a week.) Too many things can be a drain on your energy. Let go of some clutter and clear up some space inside your home (and your head.) Sparkle space.

6. Send Some Love.
Write a postcard or a letter to someone you love, a "just because note." The sparkle you send out will come back to you. I promise.

7. Catch more ZZZ's.
Forget the laundry and the dishes and take a nap when your child naps. When my daughter refuses to nap, I have been known to lie on the floor and play "night night mama" while she puts a blanket on me over and over. If a nap isn't possible, go to bed earlier than usual. Sufficient sleep is critical for emotional and physical health.

8. Start with Intention.
Consider starting your day by setting an intention. (For example: Today I am going to focus my attention on how I spend my time. Throughout the day I will ask myself, is this activity adding to my sparkle or taking away from it?) A pack of affirmation cards or an inspirational quote book can be helpful starting points.

9. Add color.
Go buy yourself an adult coloring book and some new colored pencils. Yes, I'm serious. Creating is therapeutic and coloring is an act of meditation. I know I've said it before, but it's worth repeating.


10. Paint on Your Sparkle.
If all else fails, paint your toenails in pink sparkle polish. See if that doesn't make you smile. (I even painted my toddler's toes. Now she keeps asking for more "fockle polish." Hey, you have to teach them early about the importance of sparkling.) Everytime you see your fun toes, you will be reminded of the above nine steps and your own Operation Reclaim sPaRkLe goals.


***

Dear Readers, Please Take Note:
The above post was originally posted here on the Voices from the Ville blog. I wrote it in response to my previous post there- Commit to Sparkle this Month- Saying No to Self-Neglect. I'm super honored to be writing on this national parenting blog. Several of you have asked me for mommy blog recommendations. Well, I highly recomend this one. After all, they had the good judgement to include me on their list of esteemed writers. (Smile, I'm joking. Sorta.)

PS: I know sorta isn't a "real" word.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A Woman To Admire: Kristen Leigh

This is the second post in the Women to Admire Series. Many of you wrote to tell me how you were impressed with courageous Laura. I knew you would find her admiration-worthy.

Without further ado, here is another gutsy woman whose actions inspire me.

Readers, meet my friend Kristen Leigh, who recently took the trip of a lifetime. Alone. For 23 (!!!) weeks. Without an itinerary. Alone. (I need to say that twice.) I am in awe.

Kristen in Barcelona
Kristen sold most of her belongings, put the rest in a 5' x 10' storage space (with room to spare), found substitute teachers for her private yoga clients, and then hopped on a plane.

Who here among us hasn't dreamt of boxing up your life and hitting the open road? I frequently experience wanderlust. But while many of us fantasize about it, very few of us have the moxie to actually do it.

Kristen visited Cleveland, Detroit, and Chicago before crossing the Atlantic Ocean for the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Greece, and Italy. Her trip then ended on a high, by visiting me in Dallas, Texas. (Insert smile here, Reader.)

Kristen in Malaga, Spain
We all have our own excuses as to why we don't hit the open road, but as Kristen proved, finances need not be one. She brought her laptop and worked in coffee shops (as a graphic designer) throughout her whole trip, and saved money by using Airbnb for almost all of her lodging.

Kristen posted this definition on her blog, and I love it so much, I am passing it along to inspire you.


vagabonding (n.) 
(1) the act of leaving behind the orderly world in order to travel independently for an extended period of time. (2) a privately meaningful manner of travel that emphasizes creativity, adventure, awareness, simplicity, discovery, independence, realism, self-reliance, and the growth of the spirit. (3) a deliberate way of living that makes freedom to travel possible. - Rolf Potts, author of Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-term World Travel

Be sure to check out Escape Artist Blog, for upcoming posts about her adventure!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

A Woman to Admire: Laura Scholz

Dear Readers, 
This summer I will be writing a short series of posts entitled Women to Admire. Here is the first one:



I am incredibly honored to introduce you to my friend, Laura Scholz. While I admire Laura for many reasons, here are just a few:

1. She started her own company, Scholz Communications. (It takes big ovaries to leave a reliable income for the uncertainty of entrepreneurship! Sisters, give the girl some snaps.)

2. While successfully managing her biz, she decided to follow her passion and get certified to teach Pilates. Anyone who follows her passions, is a winner in my book. And so is anyone who is working towards balance. And, while I'm at it, so is anyone who pieces together an income doing too many things to count.

3. Laura gives back. She's run approximately 7,000 miles for charity (in under 6 years!), earning money to further worthwhile causes. She's also speedy, frequently placing in the top three of her age group at local races.

*4. Most of all, I admire how she wears her heart on her sleeve. Read her vulnerable blog post Rape is Rape. Period. It's raw. It's powerful. And it's an important read. After you read it, I dare you to tell me you don't admire her too. 


*


Stay tuned for the next post, when I profile another inspirational and couragous woman. Until then, please tell me: Who do you admire and why?





Thursday, April 25, 2013

Remarkable Responses


Some people think I am brave for sharing my personal story and struggles on my blog. I'm sure others think I'm crazy. And I have to admit, sometimes I wonder: who am I to write a blog? Who am I to write a book? Who wants to hear what I have to say?

And then I get comments like the ones below and I remember why. These weren't public comments. They were shared with me privately in response to Confessions from an Adoptive Mother.

The messages in these comments are so beautiful, powerful, and affirming, I wanted to share them with you. (Of course, I first asked them for permission. They encouraged me to use their words as source of comfort to others.) I am not sharing these comments to toot my own horn, but rather to add to the collective understanding. I desire my blog to be a resource for people to learn, heal, and help one another. It is in this spirit that I post today. If you are affected by infertility, know that you are not alone. If you are are not personally dealing with fertility issues or adoption, the odds are great that you know at least one person who is. 

(Please note: I used XXXXX below to protect the privacy of one commenter's name and also the name of my daughter. My daughter's name is very unique, and we are not ready for her birthparents to be able to google it.)

Comment #1: I gasped as I read these words, perhaps because of the source. They are from Kathy, a woman who made the courageous choice to put her first born child up for adoption. This comment changed something inside me. They were words I needed to hear, but I didn't know it until I read them.
Kathianne, these are the most beautiful poignant words I have ever read. As a "biological" mother, all I ever wished for my first born is what you have given your daughter. And although I gave birth to her, I know in my heart and soul that the woman who raised her is her real mom. Your child is so lucky to have you for her mom.
Comment # 2: A line in the comment below, "I'll never be called Mom," has haunted me ever since I read it.
So much of what you wrote speaks directly into the depths of my heart and I can relate to the psychological pain. God's plan is really wonderful and I trust him completely but that doesn't mean I'm not occassionally deeply sad. As a stepmom, the only thing I would add is that parents take for granted the amazing gift of being called "Mom" (or "Dad"). For me, I'll never be called "Mom" and that's an ache in my heart. But I am so blessed with my stepdaughters and I take pride in being "their XXXXX" (her first name). Again, your words found a place in a part of my heart that feels pretty lonely and I thank you for that!
Please keep writing! You are truly entering the hearts of others and it is very comforting because it can be very lonely. The honesty of your thoughts and feelings are things that many of us just hold so close and don't share because people who aren't in our shoes might not understand-- so to see someone else put it out there makes me at least feel less "crazy" and alone. It also allows others to see a glimpse into our hearts. I especially like your ability to express your gratitude and JOY for your life while expressing the depth of emotion you're also feeling-- it's not all consuming pain but it is part of who you are. So I encourage you to wholeheartedly keep putting pen to paper!
Comment #3: This comment was initially shared with my sister.
Thank you for sharing this. Your sister is amazing. She's brave. She's opening up about such personal subjects, and expressing feelings that at times are impossible to put into words. Infertility and adoption have to be two of the hardest things to ever talk about-- and she does so in such a beautiful way. I could hear my own voice in my head when reading some of her thoughts. It was incredibly powerful.
She's also strong. She's making decisions and taking control of something that is incredibly hard to do. It's a bit of a juxtaposition-- she's taking control and letting go at the same time. The worst feeling when dealing with infertility is just feeling like you just have no control over your own body-- that you can't figure out why it's not doing what you think God designed it to do. That leaves you feeling damaged, helpless and pissed. The fact that she's saying enough is enough-- that she's taking control of things-- takes so much strength. She'll grieve, probably for the rest of her life. But now she's back in charge, and with that comes renewed energy and purpose.
And she's spiritual. Her words about adoption were so powerful. Adoption is a miracle. Out of all the families, that baby was destined to be yours. It's divined-- plan and simple.
Comment #4: My big brother, Paul, emailed me this last comment. I'm incredibly lucky to have him for a lifetime of wisdom and support.
Dear Sis,That was a very moving piece of prose that you just shared with the world in hopes that it may benefit at least one person out there in cyber space..... I want to let you know of a few thoughts that entered my head as I was reading your passage. "Pain is the difference between what is and what I want it to be." -Spencer Johnson. I must have read this passage at least a dozen times over the years until I finally think that I grasped its meaning. I am a slow learner. 
Another thought that came to me is that everything that happens to me each day is happening exactly as it is supposed to happen in order to teach me while I am attending this "Earth School," this time around. I don't know for certain, but I believe that you and (XXXXX) and everyone else for that matter agreed before you were born to help your soul in this lifetime in ways that you cannot conceive of at this point in time. However, you will come to understand them over time....Whether you know it or not, (XXXXX) knows it because she is only recently removed from the Source. She is at peace and living in the "now" moment. Learn from her as I learn from my children. 
I wish you well today and everyday. Allow yourself to relish in the present moment the apparently good and apparently bad. When you have learned how to do this, please share the secret with me. :) 
I love you, Kats, and I am sure that you are my kid sister for a good reason.Namaste', Paul
Dear readers, your blog comments fill my world with gratitude. Please continue to share your thoughts with me on the blog (so others can benefit from them), or privately, if that's how you roll. (I just ask that if you know my daughter's name, you kindly not post it in your comment. At some point we may feel comfortable with that, but we aren't quite there yet.)

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Sending Love to Boston



Boston has a special place in my heart


It's the city that brought me together with my BFF, and where we both trained to be dietitians. It's where I first hailed a cab, rode a subway, and lived completely on my own. It's where I learned to love Grey Goose dirty martinis and public transportation; where I learned to say "wicked pissa."


It's where I met my husband, where we got engaged, and where we spent the first several years of our marriage. When the Red Sox broke the 86-year-old curse and won the 2004 World Series, we lived three blocks away from the ball park.



I moved to Boston three times! Just when I thought I had escaped the long, dark New England winters, my love for the city called me back. That, and the incredible friends that I had (and still have) there.


Today, while I watched the interfaith prayer service to honor the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing, I created this to express a bit of what I was feeling. I am sending love, peace, healing, hope, and light to the people of Boston.

Boston will always be in my heart. I lived there for ten magical years. 


Maybe someday I will move back for a fourth time. I would do it in a heartbeat (as long as we could live in a warmer city during the six-month Boston winter.) 


But for now I'm stuck in Dallas. So I'll just have to send my love. 

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