i wrote a revealing post on here a couple of weeks ago.  it was easy to do, in the moment, and hard to do, afterwards.

i haven’t really been able to write anything since.
i closed right up.

life is beautiful and it’s also really sad, sometimes.  i’m sad for so much that has happened to me, and for so much that has happened to others.

as a child, i looked in my mother’s eyes and asked this question in a shaky, quiet, terrified voice:  if you and dad love each other, then why do you fight so much?

here’s what i *wanted* her to say:   we don’t really fight!  that’s all made up! the love is real, the hurt is not.  i take it all back, sweetie – all that pain and fear.  from now on you only have to see us love.

but instead i got an answer like this: it’s complicated, baby.  but we both love you so much.

this question to my mother was my own prayer to god that when i was a mother, i wouldn’t have to say those words to my children – that my children would never have to ask me that question, in a shaky, quiet, terrified voice.

that they would only have to see their parents love.

and because of what i talked about in that revealing post –

because of what happened in dallas, i am as certain as i can be that this deep prayer of mine was answered.

i am as certain as i can be that my children will never have to ask me that question.

i am as certain as i can be that pat and i were healed, and sealed, through that monstrous time.

i’m practicing.  i’m trying on how it feels to say something honest, and also maintain a boundary.  i’m working on remaining vulnerable, without shutting down.

i do hope, whoever you are, that you will keep meeting me where i am.

i do hope, whoever you are, that you see that life is beautiful.  and that sadness, sometimes –

is prayer.

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*photo taken by the one and only iaiv photography*

 

 

 

 

this year.

this year, at the time of thanksgiving, i am thankful for my smiling, creative, helpful, spirited children.

i am thankful for the practice of yoga, which continues to challenge, inspire, frustrate, and heal my body & soul.

i am thankful for pat, and for my marriage. my union with him is sacred, real, romantic, and deep down. he is supportive, hilarious, intelligent, and hot af.

and, i am thankful for this blog, this writing space, this place i can keep coming back to. i am thankful to the readers and friends who have shown such support, warmth, and love to me through this medium. i have sometimes felt so vulnerable, exposed, slutty. i have also felt strong, empowered, and secure. this blog is a true reflection, an honest account.

thank you for being a part of that.

we are off to my farm for the weekend, and then we will be hosting friends in austin next week.

wherever you are, however you feel, whoever you’re next to: give thanks.

when you take in the deep breath of thanks, you fill up with the life all around.

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my mental health story.

i think we can both agree my full mental health story cannot fit into a blog post, or even two blog posts, or even three.  (maybe four?; ))  my complete story needs context, time.  several hundred pages in a book.  so, this is not that.

what this is are some general specifics about my relationship with my therapy, and a birds eye view of my personal recovery.

blaming both my mother and my father for much of my plight is something i still love to do, and for that reason i will start by saying i was raised by parents who were both unavailable to me – both of them swimming in addiction and mental health sicknesses of their own.  the neglect i suffered was the core of my subsequent depression, and it is still the wiring i fight the most – the wiring that believes i am not safe, i am not being taken care of, and i must assume evil will sneak up and grab me.

when i was eighteen, i asked, for the first time on my own, to see a therapist.  i recognized i was unhappy and not at all functioning.  i had spent most of my senior year in high school alone, living in an apartment my dad rented for me and my younger brother, and i was a total mess.  i was skipping school, ditching friends, and vanishing into a relationship with my boyfriend, a boyfriend i wanted to be my father, mother, lover, friend, and savior.  i ultimately cheated on him to get myself out of it (cheating: my preferred way of trying to escape whatever undesirable situation i find myself in.)

somehow, i got myself to a doctor.  he told me i was 100% depressed and needed medication right away, so, naturally, i stopped going.  i never wanted meds; medication felt like one giant cop out.  i needed someone to actually DEAL with me.  i needed to actually figure my shit out, and i knew medication was a distraction from that process.

(please do not misunderstand: while i have never taken antidepressant medication myself, i am absolutely glad it is available to the people it does serve.)

after my senior year, i didn’t sit in a therapist’s office until i was pregnant with edith.

and that is the therapist i still work with today.

motherhood was my catalyst – all of a sudden, i had two reasons to sort through my life and confront what i was so afraid to admit: there were problems i could not manage on my own, and my mental health was poor.

i met that therapist (we will call her j) and slowly, we began a relationship.  i began to establish trust, and explore truth, and i showed up as best i could.  i didn’t have a ton of breakthough work in that first year, but my sessions with her were helping me feel taken care of, and they kept me out of the deep fog.  my work with her continued with regularity until it abruptly ended when we moved to dallas.

what’s funny is that i knew, on some level, ending this relationship with therapy was dangerous.  i said it out loud.  i said to pat: what about j?  

but we moved anyway, and i never found anyone in dallas.

when my life imploded, when my mental health got away from me, when i cheated, lied, coveted, and entered again into a deep fog, i called j.  i asked her if she may be willing to work with me over the phone.  i told her i trusted her, i told her i needed someone who already knew me, who knew my background, who could meet me where i was.

also, i knew she cared about me.

and so, we started doing our work over the phone.  for a while, during that summer and through the fall, it was twice a week, every week.  slowly, it changed.  once a week, once every other week.  we sometimes took breaks for periods of time.

right now we talk roughly once a month – this is mainantence, upkeep, and yet, there are still new and deep wounds being explored.

all of this matters to some degree, but here is what matters the most:

therapy saved my life.

and yes, i did it.  i saved my own life – but, therapy is what i used.  and there were a lot of supporting actors and spaces – other people who were critical.  but the therapeutic relationship with j – the one i held on to and used to find truth – this was necessary.

therapy is what makes me available, it is how i am functional, happy.  the tools i have found, learned, stumbled upon – the love i have tapped in to – that love for myself – it was all formed in those sessions.

if you are struggling, if you are suffering, if you are in a deep fog, if you find yourself angry at everyone including yourself.  if you are addicted, if you are constantly defending yourself (i find that when i get into a space where i am constantly defending myself, it usually means the problem is me) – if any of those things feels true for you:

you can help yourself.

it is hard.  it can take years.  it can stop and start.

it can hurt.

you may keep shutting down and drawing back.

but faith in the process – this is all you need.

mental health is the most important thing we can give ourselves, our children, our families, our workplace, our communities.

our world.

this is only my story.

but, possibly, it can also be yours.

full hands.

i recently finished the book hourglass by dani shapiro, a wonderful memoir that i read effortlessly over the course of a week or two.  i was struck by many of shapiro’s words, but this passage pierced me in a deep, knowing way – and i have found myself rereading it these past few weeks as the fall season continues to whizz by.

how do you suppose time works?  a slippery succession of long hours adding up to ever-shorter days and years that disappear like falling dominoes?…the decades that separate that young mother making her lists from the middle-aged woman discovering them feel like the membrane of a giant floating bubble.  a pinprick and i’m back there.  but is she here?  how can i tell her that her lists will not protect her?

i easily fall into this mentality – this list-making mentality.  parent/teacher conference times and donations to finley’s classroom.  target runs, meal planning and thank you notes to send out from edith’s birthday.  spirit week for finley’s kindergarten, a field trip, soccer games on saturday mornings.  and is there a yoga class i can get to somewhere in there? time to write?  a date with pat?

when i am out somewhere on my own with all three, i get this comment (every time): you sure have your hands full.  and do you know what i say back? (every time):  yep, thank goodness i do.

full hands.

thank GOODNESS! 

i sometimes get very tired, and i sometimes worry very much about how time moves so quickly by.  but i am finding that it doesn’t take much to whip me back into energy, light, presence.  it doesn’t take much at all.  it takes sitting for a moment, on the sofa, and looking out, looking up, looking around.   looking at the life, all around me.

the morning light casting sharp shadows in the playroom; the breeze making leaves in my backyard dance all around.  three kids, two dogs, six chicks.    (oh yeah, we now have chicks, because, of course we do.)

and yes, i make lists.
and yes, my hands are full.

and i know which one protects me. 9EC74206-7150-4DAC-AD9F-AE2F54C0832C80B7039B-D3AF-43AA-B228-CB3096435360372C9EFC-FE1A-44BF-A983-D60354C0CCC7D484D80F-2CBE-4FF2-99A7-42544FF3688B

 

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me too.

this summer, in the late afternoon, in a sunny backyard, in front of family and my own children, someone i had just met came to hug me goodbye and put his hand up my shorts to grope my ass.

my stomach fell to my feet.

the thing about these dipshits is they know what they’re doing – no one else is ever looking in that exact moment- that moment that is both subtle and pungent, that moment that makes you feel hazy.   did it even happen?

it happened.  we are hazy because we are stunned.

i have three daughters –  so pure, still, and little but big.  they are children, unaware of the ugliness this world has to offer.  what do i do, as their mother?  how do i raise girls who will know what to do, if and when their stomach drops to their feet after a man has had his way?

i wish i could love them hard enough to create a permanent bubble of protection.

i cannot.

i can only fill their days with as much space and opportunity for voicing their opinion, expressing their identity, and understanding their worth.

maybe if my girls trust their source, and serve their life with authenticity, they can say out loud: this is wrong, and the wrong is not me.  they can disarm the villain of assault with words and truth.

i told pat right after that man did that.  i told a couple of other people a few days later. and the world did not change, but here is what did:

the wrong-doing was no longer a secret; the secret couldn’t stay inside me gathering shame dust.  through telling, it became something separate, that i could hold out for others to see.

this is what voice does – this is what using your voice does: it makes what you say community property, it fills the air.  it becomes not mine, but ours.

our voices hold us accountable.

my daughters will encounter offense, misconduct, transgression.

i hope they know, feel, and say:   no.  do better.  look.  someone!  over here.  let’s fix this, let’s acknowledge this.  let’s not accept that which makes us hazy.  

let’s be very clear.

 

 

edith young is four.

eda:

you and your sister like to hear the stories of when you were born.  we tell you all the time, especially around the time of your birthday.  a few days ago, as i was recounting the story, i added in a part i have never told you before – i added in something from the afternoon, when you were a few hours old.  i said, “edith, the afternoon you were born, dad went home to check on finley.  and it was just you and me at the hospital for a couple of hours.  i laid you right next to me on the bed, and i remember feeling like… she is my buddy. and i haven’t stopped feeling that way about you.  you are like my buddy, who i always want around me, hanging out and doing things with me.”

i could tell as i was telling you this part that you were really listening, and taking it in.

and then a couple days later, sitting on the counter in the kitchen, you said: mom, i will always be your buddy.  you are my favorite person in the whole universe.

this is it, edith.  this is just it.  we are aligned in this way – where, we mesh.  we hang out.  you sit on the counter while i cook, while i make grocery lists, while i wipe the counters.  you watch what i’m doing, you talk to me about it, you offer to help.  if i don’t have something specific going on, you will say “mom, can we do something together?”  

and i say, sure baby!  what should we do? (and then you usually say: i don’t know! tell me the options!)

edith, you are by far the most observant child we’ve ever known.  EVERYONE knows this about you – it is fascinating.  you see EVERYTHING.  and you listen, too.  we will drive by something once, and then you will see it WEEKS later and go, “this is where we were when we went to that park that day.”  or, “this is the street where that mailbox is.”  or, “the person over there just dropped her keys.”

you watch everything.
you notice.

and sometimes you don’t report it.

what i like about you edith is that you know how to be quiet in your own mind.  you know how to sit with yourself.

you know how to not give everything away – because you know how to give to yourself.

edith, on that day you were born, that afternoon, that first afternoon of so many afternoons of us hanging out, i had an overwhelming sense of peace.  i felt at peace with you, and i felt at peace knowing you were in the world.

you were always meant to be our middle child – our middle daughter who can play both sides, who can tow the line, who can observe us all and love us through it.

i live for your sparkling eyes and your watchful soul.

and i hold you dear, forever.

happy birthday, my darling girl.CDD4D802-44BE-447C-AE0A-D0B469A8F804

james taylor, 1.

edith caught finley’s virus – her fever keeps spiking and she can’t seem to feel better. plum and i are both teetering with it, and i’m tired.

it’s a change of seasons, tom petty died, and the deadliest massacre in recent us history just occurred.

i wrote a post this morning discussing my feelings regarding gun violence in this country, but it’s a little too raw and unedited to share yet.  i’m going to sit with it and then circle back.

but i want to keep my heart open.

when i’m tired, and my spirit is sore, and my head is achy, music does this for me – keeps my heart open.  you know, music.  songs.  the ones that carry something spiritual and infuse you.

your songs may be different from my songs.

i invite you to explore yours – open hearts are the way to heal and change a hurting family; open hearts are the way in.

a while back i wrote a little post about things i hated that you loved.  james taylor happened to be on this list.

this has been my steady m.o.-  hating james taylor.  who am i if i don’t scoff at his songs?

but you know what?  we can change.

or, rather, we can wake up to what was already there.

remember that.

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thanks james! & please forgive me.  this song of yours is everything for me right now.

a 3 girls check-in

hey peep chickens.

  1. finley came down with a horrible virus late tuesday night, and so the past few days have seen me, at home, diffusing oils and making wellness concoctions and watching trolls, moana, AND frozen.  phewf.  it’s bizarre having finley be sick because she’s usually the biggest chatterbox ever, so for the house to be this quiet when she is home is…weird!  but of course, i am secretly loving having her home with me, and all the sweet cuddles on the sofa and extra snacks we get to eat.IMG_7252
  2. plum is now climbing our staircase. i call this phase of parenting: make sure your baby doesn’t fall down the stairs//choke on tiny things they pick up all over the house.  that’s about all i do with plum now, those two things.  here’s a sample:

  3. i’ve still been recording all the HILARIOUSNESS edith will not stop saying.  it is just so good!  i feel like sharing it will be a pick-me-up on this slightly blah/gray week:

 

e: mom, have you ever kissed a moose?  because i have.
me: down by the bay?
e: no, at the beach.  it was a swimming moose.
me: so you were swimming?
e: no.  i was on the sand, he came up to me and became a walking moose.  it was a magic beach.

e: swings are actually monsters because if you go higher and higher you crash.

me (watching edith swing really high): edith you’re a wild woman!
e: well plum is a wild woman baby.

e: mom, i have a story i want you to write and i’ll tell you what to write.
me: okay, what’s the name of the story?
e: the family walk.
me: cool name!  okay now tell me the story.
e: once there was a family that walked. they saw a bouncy head going by and they stopped because they didn’t know where they were. and then they picked it up, it was real.  and then they turned it into a bouncy ball and they played with it and then it came back to real life.
me: wow, that was a fantastic story.
e: i have one more.
me: what’s the name of this one?
e: a pirate and a princess walked to the mountains.
me: okay tell me.
e: once there was another family that walked on the mountains and they saw something and it was a bear he was a boy and he was nice and stopped because he didn’t know who was in the mountains.  then it turned into a bad bad BAD monster that was healed by the princess who had short hair.

the princess who had short hair.

of course.

okay bye!

plum is one.

i have this strong memory of being pregnant with plum, and throwing up in a drive thru line.  it is indelible because 1. we all seem to remember when we vomit, and 2. it was the first time i felt her personality reveal itself.

i was about 10-11 weeks pregnant.  i dropped finley off at school, and i drove to a coffee shop to get a pastry for edith.  i had woken up that morning and eaten dry cereal in bed, in an effort to curb the blinding nausea i woke up with morning after morning.  of all the constant nausea i had with all three pregnancies, plum’s was the worst.  that girl had it out for me.  i was so sick, fatigued, and bloated that i couldn’t eat, sleep, or act like a decent human being.  i tried to take the meds my doctor prescribed, but they only made me pass out in a hazy fog – a fog from which i could not adequately care for two young children, so i would only take half a pill at night to let me sleep for a few hours.

anyways, this day.

this day as i left school drop off and drove to the coffee shop and was waiting in the line of cars before the pick up window, i thought: fuck.  this feels different.  i started shaking my legs in the driver’s seat.  patting my hands on the steering wheel.  i texted pat: i may need you to come get me. and then, i opened my door, and threw up everywhere.  again and again.  i moved my car through the entire line this way.  opening and closing the door.

edith was crying, and i was playing music LOUDLY to cover the noise.  the only words i could get out were: i’m okay sweetie, it’s okay.

 mom!  stop frowing up!  

i’m okay, sweetie.  it’s okay. 

after the first trimester sickness settled down, i was diagnosed with gestational diabetes.  i was on a strict diet, and i had to prick my finger and test my blood two hours after eating anything.  i did this for weeks and weeks.

i remember those first few times pricking my finger, i would make a really loud noise to get myself through it.  like i would just start going AAAAHHHH and then: prick!

by the end i was pricking and squeezing blood literally inside my purse as i was shopping at the grocery store, barely noticing what i was doing, operating on autopilot.

you may wonder where all of this is going.

you may wonder why i am choosing to write about blood and diabetes and vomit on my youngest daughter’s first birthday.

because this is why:

plum is a thing of beauty.  she is pure, simple delight.  she is feisty as fuck and demands she takes part in life.  she looks at all of us like she knows.  what does she know?  i don’t know…all of it.

she just stares at us like: yeah, i know.

she is the common thread; we all adore her, dote on her, baby her, love her madly.

there was some ugliness there, for a second.  there is ugliness all around us.  it is sometimes so horrendous that we look away, or we attempt to distract ourselves, or we go ahead and make our own mess.

but sometimes we fight back.  sometimes something is ugly, or it doesn’t feel good, or it’s uncomfortable, but we show up anyway.  we love anyway – and our love becomes strengthened by the trials it was built upon.

loving plum is easy; she is woven into my heart, deep down in there, as she has always been.

plum is the only one of the three who rose from the ashes; of a marriage in trouble, and of a pregnancy that fucking sucked.

plum fought back.

she spoke out.

she showed up.

it’s not that the troubled marriage and hard pregnancy didn’t matter,

it’s that, they did.

it’s that, they mattered a whole lot.

plum, happy birthday to you, my gem of a child.
the rubble made you shine.IMG_6533

 

 

a birthday.

for the longest time, i have hated my birthday.  i had one party with a rainbow pony in my backyard when i was three, and after that it’s pretty much been all doom and gloom.

i would say this peaked around my 21st birthday when i decided to get obliteratingly drunk and had to be driven to the er where i spent the night in a gown against the wall of a hallway.  i then woke up, (22!), dry heaved, and walked the three city blocks home with my high heels in a plastic bag, gray, padded socks on my feet.

listen, if i have to feed a story of my birthday being terrible, i’m gonna do it right, okay? an overintoxication hospitalization was me seriously nailing marytrdom on the head.  because, believe me, hating your birthday is total marytdom.  LOOK AT ME! i’m so pitiful and sad I CAN’T EVEN LIKE MY BIRTHDAY! everyone rally around and try harder.

soon after this particular display, i got some boyfriend named pat who presented a real challenge to hating my birthday.  because here was someone who was willing to love me and shower me with affection in real time – and like, not just on my birthday, but like, all the time. consistently.  this threw my martyrdom shtick for a loop, but i was persistent, and i kept feeding the story.

pat! i told you! i  don’t like my birthday!  i would yell at him every year.  seriously!  just accept this about me. enough with the plans, enough with the gifts.  no fancy dinner.  none of that! 

predictably, this was a damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don’t scenario.  he would do nothing and i would sulk.  he would do something and i would sulk.  the common thread of much of my twenties: callie, sulking.

then at 29 i threw all the pieces of my life into the air so i could watch them all drop.  and oddly, something miraculous happened: i got my birthday back.  it landed right in my hand.

30 was still somewhat shitty, for reasons a bit complicated to explain here.  but it was also a turning point, because i knew i was in there somewhere.  i knew i was to be cared for.

i knew my life was precious.

and then at 31 i was big pregnant with plum, and i felt adored by my family and maybe also a tiny bit adored by myself as well.  i was tucked away in a safe haven in dallas where i could love on my belly and prepare for all the big good changes i felt coming.

and now we are here, at 32.  those changes have come – plum, austin, and the deeper, more sustainable self-love i have found and cultivated.

and suddenly, this very evening, on the eve of 32, i have a party hat hanging from my computer screen.  when i tip-toe down tomorrow morning to write in the wee hours before dawn, before anyone has had time to tell me anything, i will put on my hat and i will pray – i will thank god for this gift:

that i am here.  i am worthy of celebration.  life is mine for the taking.

i am happy, present, lovely, smart, talented, funny, silly, patient, and successful.

i am beginning to trust the process.  i trust myself.

i am surrounded by light and love.

i have regret, fear, and shame.
but regret, fear, and shame is not what i am.

and that, is worth celebrating.