Hibernation

Since having kids I feel at times as though my brain has gone into hibernation. It’s resting up for when more than just the routine motions of feeding/comforting/playing/and putting to sleep are required.

me-and-roCase-in-point, I’ve been desperate to write a book for years. I’ve started on numerous projects, only to have them fizzle away. It’s not because the story simply isn’t there. It’s because I don’t have the brain capacity to pull anything from my head except for a beginning. But let me tell you, those beginnings are all really great, because I’ve edited them until they’re practically unrecognizable.

My process is this: I start to write, or draw, because lately I’ve been on a children’s book kick. But I feel like I have the attention span of a toddler. Literally something can pop in the house and suddenly I’m reminded that I need to go fold the clothes I left in a pile on the couch. Actually, to be honest I’m suddenly reminded that I need a spoon of peanut butter, and on my way to the pantry I catch site of the book I randomly put down on the kitchen counter three days ago, so I read standing up for awhile before the need for coffee kicks in.

The point is, I feel like no real work can be done, because my brain simply shuts down after a few minutes of work.

I thought this “mommy fog” was only supposed to happen when you had a newborn. Or am I doomed to a life of haphazard wandering around my house?

Present over Shopping

Here’s a fact about me. I’m always on the hunt for something. I love to research, whether it be our next vacation, an updated leather jacket, or a new home. And all that researching usually amounts to absolutely nothing.

Most of the time, I can spend hours scrolling the internet, walking up and down aisles, or driving down neighborhood streets, and I don’t make a single decision. I’ve just wasted time.

I’ve been reading a lot of nonfiction lately, though. Specifically, memoirs by authors like Glennon Doyle Melton and Shauna Niequist, two people with wonderful – albeit very different – writing styles. But the common denominator of both is this: As women we must learn to be fully present where we are, how we are created.

love-warrior

Something I’ve realized through all this nonfiction therapy is that my researching is an addiction. An addiction wrapped in the guise of shopping, or planning, or bettering my family. Especially in the last few weeks, I’ve even felt the binge and purge as it’s happening. While looking for a new pair of boots online I spent hours and placed numerous shoes in my shopping cart (the binge). Then they just sat there without ever purchasing (the purge). I would wander into a store with the intention of finding a gift for someone else, and then I get this manic feeling, like I’m running out of time or someone is going to take everything away from me before I can get to it.

I need these things. I deserve to have this. This is what would complete my closet.

This is the binge. The purge is that I buy it and then return it the next day. Or I keep it but purge by vomiting my guilt out to my husband as I tally up what I’ve spent.

present-over-perfect

But this is in no way limited to shopping for clothes. I binge looking at vacations rentals. I binge birthday party ideas for my children. I binge on researching what book I’ll read next. And sometimes I either forget to purge, or think I can handle all this consumption. This is when I become sick.

When I become sick, the binging no longer works. I can tell I’m spending too much time looking up information or cities or black jeans because I’m doing it while nursing my son, or feeding breakfast to the kids. I feel a thrill when I begin a new hunt, and then get an anxious feeling moments later; a nauseous feeling like I’m doing something I shouldn’t be.

That nausea is the holy spirit, gently guiding me back to the present. I have to learn to be in the here and now – not planning the future, or my wardrobe. The spirit has me lay down my phone and look into the eyes of my baby. The spirit asks me to enjoy my coffee while the children giggle about milk mustaches and jelly kisses. The spirit guides me to meditation instead of spending nap times searching for the perfect Halloween costumes.

Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is Freedom.

That nausea is my invitation to a better way. It’s a wake-up call to get out of my head and back to what makes me truly come alive.

Today I’ve come up with a new plan for my life. When I find myself slipping into research mode – whether that be shopping for kids costumes or vacation homes – I will either read or write. If the children are present, I can either read to them, or we can play a game.

There’s no room in my life right now for anything other than today.

Preschool Has Begun, and So Has My Writing

My tiny little baby started Preschool yesterday. I am so in love with this school, and I think Finn will be, as well!

photo 5For him, this is a time to learn how to play with children, become comfortable with adults other than family members, and explore. The Montessori curriculum is so amazing at fostering independence – even on the first day of school he was setting out his own dishes, being assisted with pouring water, and sitting at a children’s table with others as everyone had a meal.

photo 1

photo 3What this means for me is time to work on my grad school thesis, as well as do a bit of writing for myself! Ah, the freedom of listening to a podcast while writing these words.

Friends, I want to apologize for not making time in this last season. We all get busy, but for me, this is not only a personal journal mixed with a bit of therapy; it’s my creative outlet. It’s also something I need to hold myself accountable for, because I have started projects (such as the 52 project) and then fail to see it through to the end. I refuse to be a person that doesn’t finish the things they start – even if it’s a project on my own blog.

So expect more from me, and more pictures courtesy of his wonderful teacher!

NaNoWriMo! I Hope

ReadingThis time next week (at midnight, to be precise) NaNoWriMo officially begins. In case you aren’t familiar with it, this stands for National Novel Writing Month. Hundreds of thousands of people have already signed up for the challenge this year! It’s an amazing way to band together as a group of writers and accomplish something practically impossible – writing an entire book in one month.

Not just any month, either. November is full of holidays, family coming in from out of town, and in my family’s case, Griffin’s one year birthday. That’s alot to cram into one month, let alone adding school work and the possibility of writing an entire book from scratch.

But I’ve told my professor about it, so we are going to combine this with some of the assignments she gives me. I will be working towards the NaNoWriMo goal, while also getting graded for it – sounds like a decent plan to me!

I have some ideas floating around in my head, taking up space in the far back corners – the spaces not crammed with household chores and progressing my child in all the right ways. I’ve created a Pinboard on Pinterest dedicated to some of the images that come to mind when I think of this writing project. Take a look if you’d like; it’s what my daydreams are made of.

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It’s the Wonders I’m After

Three weeks into my class this semester, and I am already feeling hopelessly behind. Not because of the workload my professor has placed on me, though. It’s completely my fault. I simply want to read everything ever written on the subject.

The class is a Folklore and Fairy Tale Survey. As soon as I read the first book, I knew I was done for. Now, after meeting privately with the professor and discussing where I would like to see this class take me, I’ve purchased everything I can find on the subject. Amazon boxes are being shipped to my house in twos and threes each day. I truly cannot get enough – so much so, that I am seriously contemplating a doctorate in this particular field.

Chapter 1There is something about folklore that resonates with me. Perhaps the stories are in my blood, passed down from generation to generation and still echoing as I read them from a book. My ancestors most likely sat around a fire, telling each other these exact same stories. Who am I not to give them the respect they deserve? They will most certainly outlive me.

FairylandAs for the class, we are also reading some modern day fairy tales – current books written for adolescents with a modern day twist. The Sisters Grimm is a great example, with girl detectives as the protagonists. Currently I am tearing through the pages of Catherynne Valente’s The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In a Ship of Her Own Making. A lengthy title, yes, but a deep read, as well. When first opening the cover I had no idea that I would be rereading certain passages just to take in their full meaning:

There must be blood, the girl thought. There must always be blood….It will be hard and bloody, but there will be wonders, too, or else why bring me here at all? And it’s the wonders I’m after, even if I have to bleed for them.

I had to put the book down at this point last night. That passage rocked me to sleep and gave me dreams of the wonders I’m after in my own life. Parenthood is one of those wonders, certainly. And there is blood on a daily basis. My heart bleeds as I love more fiercely than I thought possible. It gets ripped in two when my little boy hurts from bumping his head. I bleed and constantly take a beating, but all the good things in life will cause this.

Fairyland2To live a life that full of passion, people will inevitably wonder what form of crazy you may have. Why you would choose to bleed for a cause, a lifestyle, or a goal most wouldn’t ever think of attaining. That’s what motherhood has been like thus far. That’s what Christianity is supposed to be like, as well.

I am far from where I need to be in either of these aspects of my life, but it’s the wonders I’m after, so I’ll keep striving and fighting.

I have a feeling this course is going to change my path. Perhaps it will lead me to that doctorate. Maybe it will only allow me to see things with fresh eyes. Either way, I am so thankful to be allowed to take this journey, no matter how hard and bloody.

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On Writing

Henry Miller’s 11 Commandments of Writing were constructed when he was working on what would become one of his greatest novels – Tropics of Cancer. This list is certainly something every writer should take into account when going about the day-in, day-out mechanics of the process.

  1. Work on one thing at a time until finished.
  2. Start no more new books, add no more new material to “Black Spring.”
  3. Don’t be nervous. Work calmly, joyously, recklessly on whatever is in hand.
  4. Work according to Program and not according to mood. Stop at the appointed time!
  5. When you can’t create you can work.
  6. Cement a little every day, rather than add new fertilizers.
  7. Keep human! See people, go places, drink if you feel like it.
  8. Don’t be a draught-horse! Work with pleasure only.
  9. Discard the Program when you feel like it—but go back to it next day. ConcentrateNarrow downExclude.
  10. Forget the books you want to write. Think only of the book you are writing.
  11. Write first and always. Painting, music, friends, cinema, all these come afterwards.