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. 

Monday, April 15, 2013

A Heavy Heart

My beloved city.
My home for 10 incredible years.
I no longer live in you, but you will always live in me.
My heart aches for you today.
Patriot's Day 

Powerful Serendipity

Serendipity fills me with awe. It's a split-second in time when I can sense the order in the Universe. When all the stars are aligned and I feel that we are all connected. That everything is and always has been ok. That love is all there is.

I had a serendipitous event last week. It was so powerful, I had to share it with you, my dear readers.  

Last week I headed to a follow up appointment for my recent mouth surgeries. The first floor of the parking lot (where I always park) was completely full, so I parked on a higher level and took the stairs. In the stairwell was a mama of a newborn. She was lugging him down the stairs in his carseat, quite a few steps ahead of me. 

For some reason, I felt drawn to them. When close enough to get a peek, I noticed her baby had a double cleft lip. It was not yet repaired. I'd never seen someone without the repair. (In fact, it was only a few years ago that I first saw my newborn photo. I was moved to tears, seeing myself before my lip was sewn together. Somewhere in my kid brain, I thought my parents were embarrassed by my birth defect so they didn't have any pre-surgery photos.)

I called down the stairs and asked how old he was.

"Nine days," she replied.

He looked at me so sweetly from under his pale blue beanie. He was blissfully unaware of the long road of surgeries, dental issues, possible speech therapy, tears, and insecurity that can come from having a facial birth defect. His mama, however, had a troubled look.

"He's going to be okay," I told his mama. "I too have a cleft lip."

She stopped walking and leaned toward me to inspect my face. "Yeah," she said, "Your repair looks really good."

"It will make him a stronger person," I said, as goosebumps covered my whole body.

"Thank you, thank you for that," she said with a smile. She seemed genuinely grateful for my remarks.

And then we parted. It was a brief moment in time. One that I feel will stick with me for a long while. I even have goosebumps now, as I type this.

God put us on that stairwell at exactly the same time. I am sure of it. 

Of course, I didn't tell her that I was on my way in to see the doctor because at 38, I am still dealing with issues because of my cleft palate. Hopefully, with medical advancements in the treatment of cleft palates, his journey to healing will be much shorter than mine. 

At first I thought our paths crossed because she needed to hear that her precious baby was going to be ok. Upon further reflection, I realized I needed to see him too. I thought of that baby boy when I was at my doctor appointment and thought, Be strong for him, Kathianne. It doesn't make any sense, really, but it did give me strength. And perspective. 

This little guy is just starting on his path to healing. And after 38 years, I am (hopefully) near completion. 

Dear readers, please join me in sending out healing thoughts to this anonymous little boy.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Cut and Paste Therapy

Readers, get out your glue sticks. 

It's time for some therapy.

I've written about the meditative benefits of coloring in the past, 
and making collages works just as well. 

Creating in my art journal is an important part of Operation Reclaim sPaRkLe
So after I put my daughter to bed, I grab my glue, plop down on the floor, and get busy.

These are the collages I created this week using only a glue stick, 
Anthropologie catalogs, and my church program. 

Many of you told me you need to reclaim your sparkle too.
So now it's your turn. 
Go ahead, Readers. There's no shame. Get into therapy!

Special thanks to Artsyville, for inspiring me to dig out my glue sticks and go for it.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Confessions from an Adoptive Mother

Thank you, Dear Readers, for the outpouring of support I received for my last post, Time to Confess. Your blog comments, Facebook comments, and emails reminded me that I have a "virtual village." I am honored you shared my words with your friends. I am grateful you took a moment out of your busy day to write a comment.

So, while I'm at it, I have some more confessions to share.

Once a month, I get angry at The Powers that Be. I'm working on letting go of my anger, because I know it only hurts myself. Anger is a stage in the grief process, and it's the emotion I feel every month when I am suffering from severe menstrual cramps.

Many years ago, when I was complaining to my sister, she comforted me by saying how cramps are the body's way of preparing the uterus for childbirth. So, for a few years there, her words provided a teeny bit of comfort. I felt like my pain had a purpose and one day, when I experienced the miracle of childbirth, it would all be worthwhile.

But I am not destined to be a biological mama. And each month for the past 25 years, I've been experiencing one to three days of severe cramps and/or associated PMS. It just makes me, well, a bit pissed off. Because, what is the point?!?!? Each month now, the physical pain triggers a deep, deep psychological pain. It is a reminder of what I will never experience. I will never carry a life in my womb. I will never feel a baby kick from the inside. I will never have a child with my legs or my husbands eyes. My genetic line (and I can trace my ancestry back at least four generations with photos) dies with me.

I'm still mourning the death of my dream. I sometimes wonder if I will ever stop mourning. The wound will heal, but will the scar remain or fade away?

Ironically, adoption was always a part of my parenting plan. I used to tell people that I just wanted to have one of my own first because I wanted to experience the miracle of pregnancy. I wanted to create life. I dreamed of witnessing my baby's first breath; of feeling overwhelmed with love when I held my seconds-old baby.

Adoption is a miracle. No less of a miracle than biological childbirth. I tell my daughter she is my miracle. Because of all the mamas and all the babies in the whole wide world, we found each other. I tell her mommy waited and waited and waited for her spirit to come to us and she was worth the wait. I tell her she is my wish come true and she made me a mama, something I always dreamed of. I'll tell her that for some reason, she didn't come through me, but she was always meant to be mine. A fellow adoptive mother once told me we adoptive mamas are the space holders. We are an open space for babies who need a home. Maybe this is the reason.

But I am dreading the day she realizes she did not come from us but instead grew in another woman's belly. We've never made her adoption a secret, it's just that now she's too young to understand what it all means. It pains me that she could feel a lifelong sense of loss because her birthmother chose to give her away. One adopted woman told me no matter how good she had it in her adopted family, she always felt a sense of loss because she was given away. I plan to tell my child she was always destined to be my daughter. We don't have a genetic connection, but we have a spiritual one. And that is the one that counts. That one is even thicker than blood.

Hours after she was born, her birthmother asked us to love her baby like she was our own. This now seems odd to me, because SHE IS OUR OWN. I can't imagine loving her anymore. I'm almost positive that could not even be possible. (Although, how would I know for sure? Sometimes I wonder, which is ridiculous, because why does it even matter?)

But here's another confession: it saddens me that I am not my child's ONLY mama. I know this is selfish. If a mother can love more than one child, I'm sure a child can love more than one mother. So I tell myself that she will experience more love. I should be happy about that. It's just that I have this fear that when she chooses to track down her biological family (if she does), that I'll be replaced. That she will want to spend holidays with them. It's not a huge fear, but it's still there.

Sometimes I forget she is adopted. But sometimes I'm painfully reminded. Once at Gymboree, a nanny asked me if she was my child. "Yes," I replied. "Are you sure?" she said, "She doesn't look anything like you." WTF!?! Of course, I started crying. People say the rudest things. Several people have asked me about her "real" mother. I now reply that I am her real mother. I'm the one who checks her in the middle of the night to make sure she is still breathing; the one that wipes her tears and kisses her boo-boos. I have been there for her since she was ten minutes old. (I wanted to be there sooner, but legally she wasn't ours then and it wasn't my decision. So I missed her entry into the world. When she took her first breath, I was feeling helpless from the waiting room. I heard a cry (hers?) and my arms longed to comfort her. "She needs me," I sobbed into my husband's arms. Although, to be honest with myself, it was me who needed her.)

So, maybe you can understand my feelings a little better now. My journey to motherhood was complicated. Just like all the other really great things in life, it was joy and sorrow, love and loss, pain and sheer bliss all rolled up in one. Because I am immensely grateful that my daughter is healthy, and beautiful, and exactly as she is. I honestly wouldn't change how she came to us. Because then she wouldn't be her. I am a better person because of my journey. I am for sure a better mother too. Infertilty and adoption were a challenge for our marriage, but my husband and I have grown closer as well.

I will never take being a mama for granted. I want to always remember how much I loved and longed for my baby before she even was conceived (in a state far away, in a different woman's body, just waiting to reunite with me, her own, real mama.)

It's just that, even while somewhere in me I knew otherwise, I was still kinda hoping maybe I would get pregnant too. Deep down I was hoping that my parenting plan was just reversed. I was hoping maybe the pregnancy would come after the adoption.

But that won't happen. Last month I decided to go back on The Pill. After almost five years off of it, I can't take the pain anymore. By choosing to take it, I am completely closing the door on my dream of a biological baby. While I'm pretty sure the door was closed already, my hope had kept it just a teeny bit ajar. I visualize that hope as a light seeping out from the edge of the door. But now, that light has gone out.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Time to Confess

Dear Readers, 
I have a confession to make. 

I have not been nourishing myself properly. 
I have not been creating to the extent I need to, in order to feel like myself. 
As a result, I have not been blooming. 
I feel like I've lost my sparkle.

This parenting gig is hard. Harder than I anticipated and I feel like it's kicking my ass. The first year of my daughter's life I was high from the euphoria of finally becoming a mama. Toddlerhood is a different story. My little one is spirited. A climber. Fearless. Fast. And Loud. 

She might end up being an only child.

I now know why "it takes a village." The problem is we don't have a village here in Dallas and minimal traveling familial help. My hubby works at least 60 hours a week and often travels. Almost all the other mamas in my moms group are preggers or just had a baby and I am thinking: how the hell does anyone have more than one child? 

Don't get me wrong. I LOVE my daughter. She is my glitter. My heart and soul. My joy. My snuggle. 

She is also the cause of my sleep deprivation (anyone who knows me knows I need a lot of sleep to function) and the cause of my new white hairs (still so few I can pluck them, thank goodness.) 

I've lost balance. When she first clung to my leg, my heart melted. Now, I would just like to walk unencumbered. 

Yes, I can hire help. But now that I'm a parent, I finally understand what mommy guilt is. I don't want to stick her with an anonymous sitter.

There is more of me (I gained a few pounds) and less of me (mojo, where did you go?). Is the creative, hip woman I used to be inside this mama who wears yoga pants everyday? On the positive side, I've also gained insight and empathy for all who are in a similar situation. Caregiving is tough. Caregiving with limited support is extremely tough. 

Sometimes I cry to my husband, "I feel like a failure! How is everyone else doing this?" He says, "Look at her! She is thriving!" And it's true, she is. But look at me. I need to find some middle ground before she sucks me dry.

I don't want to model self-neglect to my daughter. 

I want to be a mama who sparkles.

So, in December, I made a choice to focus on my own care. I'm fighting the mommy guilt head on. And it is not easy, folks. I joined a new gym (the last one kept kicking her out of the day care for crying too long) and I've set monthly goals for myself that I'm tracking in a fabulous Wizard of Oz datebook that my mother-in-law gave me. At first, I was also recording everything I did that nourished my body and soul (crafty time, writing time, baths, etc.) I've had 2 set backs, but each time I got back up, and that's all that counts. And I'm now taking my own professional advice on balance (which I took pre-baby, back when it was easier.) Preschool a few days a week has also turned out to be life-changing.

So, I'm not going to pretend that I am a mama who has it all together. My hope is that my confession helps me stay on the path back to myself. I also hope it helps you as much as it helps me. Maybe you need a bit of a kick in the butt too to start making your health and happiness a priority.

So, tell me, dear readers: What are your struggles and what are your goals? How are you making your wellness a priority, or how are you going to do so moving forward? Please share your insights here to help others. Or share your struggles and seek support. Or share your plans: how are you going to nourish your sparkle?

Monday, January 21, 2013

Four Years Ago Today

Today as I watched the inauguration of President Obama, (on the exact day we celebrate MLK!), I am reminded of this same ceremony four years ago. At that time, while feeling the magic of history unfolding, I penned the following words to my unborn biracial child:

Tuesday, January 20th, 2009
As I write this you have not even been conceived, although I am hoping and praying it will be soon. I am watching the inauguration of Barak Obama and I am filled with such excitement for your future. History is unfolding in a huge way and the implications for you and other children of color around the world are profound. You will never know a world in which only white men ruled this great country. You will be born into a new era-- one filled with hope and the promise of a new day. I have wanted you for so long and have cried many tears during the long wait. But I can now see, this is the year of your arrival.

Well, I was wrong about that last line. I shed many more tears in the twenty three long months between writing the above letter and our child's arrival. As you may know, our precious baby girl came to us via the miracle of adoption in the last month of 2010. 

This year I watched the inauguration ceremony after I put her to bed. (Unfortunately, I was watching Yo Gabba Gabba during the live television coverage.) Typing my 2009 words into this blog post reminded me of the excitement, the national pride, and the severe longing I was then feeling. It makes my chest feel tight and almost brings me to tears. But it doesn't. Because in the next room, my beautiful little mocha latte girl is now sleeping. I look forward to teaching her about President Obama and Martin Luther King, Jr. I also look forward to sharing this letter with her. But most of all, I look forward to telling her how much she was loved and longed for, years before she was even conceived.

Dreams can come true.