Saturday, May 24, 2014

Happiness is...

Happiness is...

...watching Steve rototill all the weeds in the garden, so my wild jungle plot is magically transformed into a Martha Stewart type garden (for at least a week)...

Happiness is...

...biking with Steve up, up, up Cascade River Road, where we had a killer view and got to consume lots of chocolate, since we burnt so many calories on the way up...

Happiness is...

...weeding blueberries with my boys, without them whining, not even once.  Miracles do happen...

Happiness is...

...planting beans in the garden, since the soil is FINALLY warm enough to do so!  It's nice to observe all the bounty we already receive from this year's garden while sowing beans...

Happiness is...

...snuggling with my loved ones, even if one particular loved one squirms and wiggles while the other loved one is trying to take a photo...

Happiness is...

...playing with goats, of course.  What can be funner than watching these goofballs doing their crazy tricks?

"No, don't brush me!  Please don't brush me!!!"

Happiness is...

....squirting piglets with the water gun, or attempting to do such a thing, until your mother yells at you to stop it.

Happiness is...

...watching Steve teach archery to nine young boys.  He is so courageous, that man.  Taking on nine exuberant kids with bows and arrows... Wow.  He had three friends help him out with supervision, so the adult-to-kid-ratio was super safe!

Happiness is...

...sitting by the creek knitting, by myself... Ahhhh, heaven....

Happiness is...

...sticking my nose into any flowers that are exploding and bursting forth in my garden!

Where are you finding happiness these days?

Friday, May 16, 2014

Disasters strike at my time away

You know about living what one preaches? After my sermon here I decided (and was urged by my husband) to take three days off over Mother's Day. Little did I know that by the end of the trip, disaster would strike.
I drove the RV West to Deception Pass State Park in torrential rain, and once I claimed my spot at the campground, I commenced to seriously relax. The rest of the first (rainy) day, I blissfully read a whole book and went for a lazy walk on the beach.  On the way, I saw a pair of geese with their fluffball babies, which made me tear up because I missed my kids.

The next day, I woke up to the RV toilet overflowing. The entire bathroom floor was soaked and soggy.  Also, Steve called to tell me two of our ducks had gotten killed by a racoon in the night.  Not to worry, though, because I was on vacation and determined to stay in a go-with-the-flow mood. No pun intended. 
That day, I rode my bicycle up Mount Erie, a ride considered a “leg shredder” by the hardcore macho guys who wrote the bicycle route book I like. And wouldn't you know it – they were right. By the time I huffed and puffed up this seriously steep mountain, my legs felt quite shredded. But good! And the view! There's nothing like endorphins and pride in a goal accomplished! And people incredulously staring at your sweaty self once you make it to the top. (Yes, I'm a show off. I know).

On the way into Anacortes, my tire went flat, making me almost crash. I keep thinking: if the tire had gotten flat on the super fast descent down Mount Erie, I might not be alive. Maybe. Luckily, I knew a bike shop close by, and the folks there changed the tire in no time flat. (What is it with the puns today?)
Back at the RV, Steve called me.
“I know what you mean now!” my husband, who never complains, sighed.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“Being with the kids all day...”, he said. “It's intense.”
I was floored, and very, very touched. Steve is a hands-on Dad who spends more time with his kids than almost any other man I know. For him to validate my burnt out state felt like the best gift ever. I so very much adore my children and my life, and at the same time, it's the hardest job I have ever done. Sometimes, when too many things have built up, I get emotionally and physically depleted with taking care of them in a conscious way, homeschooling them, taking care of the homestead, and running several businesses at the same time. Mea culpa, my choice, I know. I like being challenged, and I make the choices I make for a reason. This is why self-care and time away is so important for me.
And boy, did I take advantage of this time away! My last vacation day found me hiking at Bowman Bay, one of my favorite places on earth. The park got more crowded as the day went on (since it was a sunny Mother's Day), but I found a far away bluff with not many people, where I sat and stared into the blue water and knitted.

Then it was time to head home. And this is where disaster struck. I had an uneasy feeling, an ominous intuition the whole way back. First, the CD player stopped. Then, the mph gauge failed. And soon after, in the middle of a busy roundabout in Sedro Woolley (an hour away from home), the RV died on me. It just stopped, in the middle of traffic, with people honking at me, while all the relaxation from the past days drained away from me. I frantically dialed 911 first, then a tow truck company.
The very short story is that two police officers showed up. They were incredibly kind, and the older one kept saying, “We'll take care of you. It's mother's day, after all.” I couldn't believe it. They jumped the RV four times, so I could drive it to a nearby shop and save hundreds of dollars in towing fees. They escorted me with police lights and all! It was so exciting!
And the best part: The older cop drove me all the way up to Concrete, half an hour away, so Steve could meet me there to take me home. And the other best part: All the RV needed was an alternator belt. And the other best part: The kids and the citizens of Concrete saw me get out of a police car. I made sure to hug the officer so people wouldn't think I had gotten arrested. And because he had been so kind.

It all ended well!  Happy Mother's Day to me! And you, too!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Every day is Mother's Day

The weather vacillates between gorgeous summery days spent in the pond, and dark, gloomy, rain-so-hard-it-makes-bubbles-in-the-puddles kind of days. Many of us Pacific Northwesteners feel similarly bipolar. When the sun is out, we feel blissful - life is easy and doable. When it rains all day for days, we feel like we might need to be on medication after all.
For me, spring is always very intense. The work load is relentless and never, ever done. I desperately try to create balance in my life, and sometimes it works, but sometimes I fail miserably. I have learned over the years that when I hit the lowest low, it's time for radical self care. I used to believe that I have to martyr myself for my children, and I put myself last for years. Self care didn't exist in my vocabulary. I used to think I had to give my kids my ALL – my love, my attention, my life energy. When I couldn't do that, I felt guilty.

I now have three children, a farm, and several businesses, and I am finally over that concept of coming last in the equation. If I am exhausted, depleted, grumpy and depressed, I am no good to anyone. So last week, I took a 24 hour time-out. Just me, my bicycle, the RV, books, chocolate and nature. And wouldn't you know it? When Steve met me at the state park where I camped the next morning, I felt recharged and normal again, ready to be a loving mother and decent wife.

That's bliss, right there.  My bike, the river, sun, a good book in the saddlebag, and chocolate, of course.
Eva joined me the next day, while her brothers went on a playdate with a friend down valley.
A silly selfie.

So dear mothers?  I have talked with many of you - as friends, or as coaching clients.  I know that many of you feel like I used to: you don't deserve time off, you are selfish for even thinking about needing a break, you can't justify spending money or time on yourself.  Your partners or husbands might not understand how hard the job of mothering can be.  I am lucky with my husband, because he gets it.  But many men don't.  
I encourage you to be visible!  Admit your feelings to yourself when you are burnt out. Then do something to feel better.  Take time off.  Do something nice for yourself.  What would you tell a friend in your situation?  Many of us wouldn't treat a friend the way we treat ourselves.  Be nice to yourself!  Stop with the %^@*ing guilt!  You will fee so much more balanced when you get a little time to yourself.
Take it from a recovering guilty-beat-herself-up mother: You deserve to take care of yourself - and not just on Mother's day!
In the meantime, here's what happened when I was away: The garden and critters kept growing.  Garlic, asparagus, my little carrots, the pesky little goats, the adorable piglets...

This little beauty is not thinking outside the box.

Neighbor Rich feeding the piglets.  Or trying to.

Remember what I said in the beginning of this post?  About spending our days in the pond?  It turns out, my kids are half cold blooded.  The pond water is freezing, and yet they insist on swimming in it.  I let them.  After all, it's probably good for the circulation.  And the play in the water lets them explore and observe its habitat, which counts as homeschooling, yes?

Checking out aquatic life.

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