The Rooster

It was the rooster, then

Calling me awake

Staying up too late

Planting the seeds of our best dreams

In the clouds

And we would wonder why they fell.

I didn’t speak that tongue well,

But I learned all of the music,

I figured I could probably use it,

Worked the rhythm with my hands

And everyone was moved.

I knew that I was soothing

And I could carry all that brooding

For a time.

I could make rhymes out of our story,

Make it sound like wonder, glory,

Build us up so strong and tall.

And when you fall,

When the wind is just a bit too rough,

When the drugs have messed your balance up,

When you crash into a wall

Then you will know just how I folded,

How I sank down to my knees

And found support

Only at the stone cold bottom of an empty well

Where I fed myself on wishes

And reviewed all of my lists

Of all the signs that I had missed

And there was nothing left to do

But take apart the world I’d woven,

Criticize the words I’d carefully chosen

And warm up the parts of me I’d frozen

And I looked myself right in the eye.

And I know, now,

That the desperation that I felt,

My dedication to giving help,

Was my desire to be desired

By the parts of him

That reminded me of myself.

I know now,

That the rooster taught me in his way

Many things that shaped who I am today

And I can now look back and say

I wouldn’t change a thing.

But I know, now

Not to go wishing

On shooting stars

With broken wings.

No matter what they sing.

Out of Control

So, I’m about 37 and a half weeks pregnant. Third child… So this is not completely new to me, but since I first learned I was pregnant I’ve been worried about stacking more and more on top of the struggles I’m still having in adjustment to becoming a parent to each of my first two children.

I have learned a lot. So much. And that list is growing all the time, still. My first opened up a lot of lessons about trust – in myself, in her, in the world around us. My second has compounded that with lessons in patience. Both of them together teach me so much about surrender and initiative, communication and support.

And there is still so much I don’t know, so much I don’t have figured out. And I expect that is the way it is meant to be,  in parenting and in life. It just seems the lessons and the challenges come packed so much closer together in the early childhood years, with so much on the line and so little time to adapt.

But I have grown a lot, too. I think the greatest thing I’ve noticed lately is that I am growing into the uncertainty and lack of control that I must allow at times. And I don’t welcome it very often still, but I’m learning to recognize that it’s unavoidable, and I’m learning more about all the parts of myself that still want to resist. And one at a time or sometimes in many ways at once I am learning to heal, to tame and to teach those parts how to deal.

But here I am, nearing the end of my third pregnancy. Thought I had finally reached the plateau after a long climb towards discipline in routines and housekeeping, clearing space so that I could do the work required each day to keep from drowning under half finished chores, neglected personal projects and plentiful requests for help and attention.

But now I’m tired. And just today, I feel my body has stretched past it’s threshold for this extra weight and the work I was trying to do with it. And my back is starting to hurt, and my legs and my feet have been so stiff and my body doesn’t want to do the work anymore.

And this could mean that labor is imminent.  I feared it was coming last week, but I’ve been hoping for it any day now. Or it could mean that I have a few weeks to spend not being able to bend over to pick up the toys and the clutter, or load the dishwasher, or pick up little bodies wanting to feel close…

And if that is the case, I’ll be in for many days of watching rather helplessly as all the work I’ve put in to make my house feel tidy enough for my mental well being is undone. Watching things pile up again, falling behind after finally crawling out of that place of feeling like I was perpetually catching up, but never quite getting there.

And there is something poetic about that for me, that as I grew more worried about how I was going to physically keep up with the tangible work that needed to be done, that I will be forced to surrender to complete inaction and just have to deal with it that way. That makes sense. I know that’s one way that I can be forced to make peace when I’ve been fighting with myself.

But it doesn’t seem fair, at all. Because I do think I was stressing just a bit too much, but I’ve really needed the discipline and the results that I was pushing for. I really needed to know that I could keep things up. I really needed that much clear space and order to make myself feel like I could handle this, like I am indeed cut out for the life that I have taken on.

I really need the energy and drive to get my kids to bed at a decent time when I start to burn out at the end of the day. I really need to know that I can have some time to reconnect and decompress at the end of the day, without staying up into the wee hours of the morning and wearing myself down.

I really need the ability and the will to finish things that I start, to clear things up when I am done with them to avoid intimidating, stress triggering piles of “how will I ever get through that?” so I don’t have to worry so much about the necessary messes of play and of life.

And I really need the patience and the presence of mind to clear up the extra at the end of the day so we can have a fresh start each morning. To notice what is working and what isn’t so I can respond accordingly and keep everyone’s needs met and everyone feeling taken care of and loved.

I didn’t really know how to achieve all of that without pushing so hard.

And all the things I now suspect I am being asked to let go of, are all things I thought were really important to help me get through this next challenge of keeping on top of everything I was before with yet another little person in the mix.

And it just doesn’t seem fair.

And now I wonder just what lessons this little one will lead me to, as I think of all I’ve learned and worked on in preparation for her arrival already.

This next part might be very hard, before she even comes. Her early days might be a relief or they might be the thing that breaks me right down. I’m not so sure those hard breaks are such a bad thing, now…

Because apparently I don’t really know yet how to pace myself, when to let go and how to prioritize. I know I’ve made leaps and bounds with that just recently, but…

Here I am now, very pregnant, tired and sore and feeling quite helpless and frustrated. And life just goes along anyway. Somehow we eat and play and fight and make up and love and go to sleep anyway.

I guess I can relax into that for now, but I really hope that I have truly learned from the work I’ve been recently practicing, and that it won’t be that hard to pick up again once my body and my mind have recovered.

And I hope that letting things spiral just a little out of control in the meantime won’t make me feel like a failure anymore.

Grace

Studying the magic of compassion,

I grant myself grace

And I keep all of my worries

In a secret hiding place

But sometimes, they build up a bit too much

And I must sort through

And weigh each mix of feelings

And sift out illusion from the truth.

I’ve been parenting myself so much,

My kids can benefit, too.

I’ve mastered cleaning up after myself,

But still there’s more to do.

I’m trying to stay aware of what’s most pressing,

Make the most of time,

And trust that my best is enough

To sail through snags and come out fine.

And I have found some new success

With things I once did struggle with,

But still a fear clings deep inside

That if I stumble or I slip,

Or if I rest a bit too long

Or cut myself too much slack,

That all I’ve built will tumble down

And knock me off my fresh laid track.

And it’s easy to feel lonely, now,

Or like I haven’t time for much,

But I feel a growing urge deep down

To soothe myself and keep in touch.

So much pressure I’ve applied,

Such a fire I’ve lit under me,

I’m not sure what will be left

If I’m not pushing myself forcefully.

But I’ve been studying compassion,

And I grant myself grace.

And I’ve completed much already,

And this was never meant to be a race.

Mabon 2017

I’ve spent a lot of time feeling like I was catching up with myself, and I feel so much closer now, like I have it at times.

But it still takes a big push here and there, and periods of climbing and climbing, balancing, juggling. Layering each accomplishment on top of another there and trying not to let them all fall, because the work I am doing now is training new habits, new routines, new rituals.

I’ve never accomplished much with spring cleaning. Sometimes I feel the urge a bit, but after a long winter, when the air grows warm and I can see green again I just want to go outside and play.

But the fall is another story.

Before I settle in for winter I do a lot of space clearing, in preparation for being nestled in with nowhere else to go for months and months.

Now on Mabon, on this Autumn Equinox, I am seven months pregnant, in the thick of a magical undertaking and some personal transformations, and I am following the seasons so much more closely.

And leading up to this day I’ve spent a lot of time and energy pushing to get to the bottom of the clutter in the house. Pushing to get to the bottom of my reluctance to wash the dishes and fold the clothes. Pushing to find my balance between time and space for myself and serving the people I love, and myself, with actions of home making full of care and attention.

I’ve gotten so much done, compared to the mayhem that used to creep in whenever I let my guard down months, years past, I now feel like I do not have much more catching up to do. I can maintain while I finish the last little details. And I really feel like I can keep it up this time.

But I am so tired. So worn down, I’ve worked so hard. And while I appreciate the result of my efforts in the state of my home at least, on this day of thankfulness I found myself feeling a lot of lack that surprised me.

I realize I have not tended my friendships like I used to, perhaps before I had kids, and I have difficulty now reaching out to others when I need them, or having them serendipitously show up at the right time. It’s a bit like we’re all a little distracted by our own whirlwinds.

And I haven’t been the most patient, the most encouraging with my kids lately, pushing them to just fall in line with what is easier for me, and I felt the fallout from that today, too.

I was so excited to celebrate my own harvest, to share the merriment with my family and friends. But I noticed a lot of what I didn’t do instead.

And I suppose along with counting my blessings, which I still intend to do as I think it is so important and I know they are many, I need to listen to all that is creeping out of my shadows to be heard. As the days grow shorter than the nights from here on, I need to work with the hidden and hurt parts of myself, my fears and my failures, just as much as I need to bask in my achievements and the luck I’ve had.

So that’s my wish for myself tonight, and for you too should you want it – that we may find the balance between the pleasures and the pain in our lives. That we may see the value in the challenges and mistakes as well as in the success and the comforts. That we may recognize and accept both sides as they appear to us, without undue judgement or avoidance.

I wish that we may be open to the wonder that is there for us to enjoy, and that we be open to experiencing our sorrows as well, without getting stuck there.

I wish you all the best as you turn into your own cozy dens of winter, and I so look forward to emerging refreshed and inspired once again in the spring.

Blessed be!

Filled

From where does this new tenderness creep,

As the air outside grows colder?

As I count the treasures I intend to keep,

And cast a glance over my shoulder…

What has cut me open so wide and deep;

What hopes to step inside?

What whispers to me as I sleep

That by daylight still does hide?

As I recount now what I’ve seen,

What I’ve gathered and have earned,

I wonder just what I can make,

And how far my wheel has turned.

I see now what I’ve left behind,

And know what I hope will stay.

Now, I wonder what will fill the space

Of what I dug out and burned away…

As the nights grow long and cold

I hope we’ll have warmth to share.

And when the days are short and lonely,

I hope we’ll find new ways to care.

As I look forward to the slowing down,

Time of stillness and retreat –

As I sense the stirring deep inside

Of the parts of myself I’ve yet to meet –

I’m grateful for all that has passed

And for what is coming still,

And I start to taste what I’ve been brewing

And look forward to being filled.

 

Decluttering Challenge #5: the Craft Room, Play Room, Office!

After a long break I dug into the biggest, most mixed up mess of all. I was actually hoping to put this one off until close to last, but it seemed like things that should have had a place to be tucked away in here were spilling out all over the house.

I must confess I still have some things to do in here although I am calling completion on at least getting all the little random piles and things out of control and organizing the closet. I think I’ll continue to pull out more to get rid of as I am able.

So this is a multi purpose room and the closet especially had become a place where any random old thing was stuffed when it didn’t fit anywhere else. And with the kids toys and crafty things in here, it turns into a mess very easily.

My goals here were:

-organize craft supplies

-organize board games, video games and accessories

-tidy and file or recycle papers

-toss any broken junk and take out anything for donation

Here it is before:

The kids play area was a bit of a disaster, probably worse than the blurry picture there shows. And the closet and desk were overflowing with clutter and the closet was a mess.

So! I went through my craft drawers at the bottom first. I set aside some supplies I really don’t need or want, boxed up some of my messier things I use less often to get them out of reach of toddler hands, recycled some scraps of paper and made room in the drawers for things that really needed to be stored.

I went through the rest of the closet and found two bags and a box of yarn and string that was meant to be passed to a friend ages ago.

I pulled out dozens of kids drawings and paintings, piles and piles of them, and found a couple worth keeping and recycled the mass of them.

I used some empty boxes to store some more of the games and some of the magic cards so things fit on the upper shelves a little better.

I went through all the little random things lying around and put them where they needed to go.

I went through the drawers in the desk and rearranged some things so they made more sense.

I put some of the kids toys where they belong.

I had to pause to go to sleep last night, this is what it looked like partway through:

So this morning I went back in and finished filing a few papers, took out the garbage off the floors and swept and finished putting the toys and such away.

And I took the last few little things out of the closet so everything in there has a place.

Again, it’s not perfect, but so much more manageable now!

Here it is after:

So that’s that!

I think I might actually get more done in the living room and bathrooms today so I might have more very soon!

I felt like slowing down after the first few areas, but now that it is getting colder here I really want to get through this before it starts to feel like winter!

And I wanna get the clutter clear so I can work some more good feelings into our decor and arrangements!

Stay tuned for more!

To Bend or Break: a Pause

Greetings to you strange friends and friendly strangers! I took a bit of a break from my decluttering extravaganza. I spent some days catching up on other things that needed my attention and tried to include myself in that!

I feel like I have been through a bit of a whirlwind. Time is passing quickly. I still sometimes feel like I have so far to go, so much to do, but I can see more tangibly now what I have accomplished in even a short time lately, and that feels so good.

We’ve been working on establishing a bona fide bedtime routine, and we’re not quite at the sleep time I would most appreciate, but it is so much better than it was and still seems to be shifting earlier, ever so slowly. Without much strain I guess, now that the kids are usually asleep before I get too burnt out.

There are times when I decide something is really important and I just put all of my energy into it, even when it doesn’t come naturally or when it seems like a big effort. I just give it everything I have and try to make it happen. Go through the motions and strain myself to get as close to the mark as I can. And when I’m doing that and I experience any set back, any delay or any complication, it feels so awful.

And I’ve had some nights lately where I sat in the dark for over an hour waiting for a child to stop squirming and fall asleep. Nights when I didn’t want to read any stories by the time we started. Nights where I didn’t want to nurse at all, but tried to offer it as long as I could possibly stand to buy an easier transition into sleep, to be able to walk away a little sooner. Nights where I was hoping to catch up on the dishes, on my studies, on some quiet project or another after the kids were asleep, but found myself so exhausted by that time that I couldn’t do anything meaningful at all.

It’s part of that perpetual cycle I find myself in, always feeling like I am catching up or making up for something, never quite finished. Wanting to focus on one thing at a time, but feeling unable to prioritize. Because when I am going through clothes to donate, the dishes pile up. When I’m cleaning up the kitchen, toys and books are getting dumped out. When I’m cleaning up the play areas, a wall somewhere is getting colored on. When I’m working away at something stained or broken, the kids get too hungry and start fighting. When I’m making lunch, they want my attention. When they have my attention, the laundry piles up.

And there is this dance to it all, sometimes I’m paying attention to what is right in front of me and I take the right steps, things fall into place as well as they can and things are taken care of in time.

But sometimes, often really, the scope of it all is so overwhelming that I try to force things at the wrong time, or just can’t get moving on anything at all.

Management of our entire household is so full of details and nuances. I’ve been thinking a lot about the mental load of it lately. All that invisible work of noticing, analyzing, organizing, preparing, delegating. And there is so much to keep track of.

I haven’t felt particularly talented when it comes to rhythm and structure and getting chores done. I seem to have a lot of trouble finding the right way to schedule things for myself so there is time for everything. And I’ve largely been making up for this deficit I feel by focusing more and more on simplifying our lives. Trying to have less things, less demands so it is easier to get to the bottoms of every pile.

But the funny thing about simplifying, that is a task, too. That can be a chore. That can be a whole category of chores. A new set of tasks to check off, projects to manage.

This time around, as I’m decluttering I have noticed more regular tasks falling to the wayside and a bit of mess piling up. But it hasn’t been as bad as I might have feared. I do feel now that I am starting to see some actual space cleared, some actual relief of needless tension, and the feeling of being a little closer to being caught up with myself.

In taking a few days here to get some other cleaning done, I’m actually starting to feel happy and content about my house, my life again.

And with a trip planned this weekend, I’m not sure how fast I’ll get through the rest of the decluttering challenges. But I’ve made a big push and I can see that we are moving! I should be able to keep this all up over this next month as things slow down a bit for us again.

I do have another area half done to post soon upon completion! But I don’t feel like I need to pressure myself to push, push, push until all those rocks are over the mountain anymore. I have a lot more faith now that we can take care of everything in time! And that is such a relief.

I hope you are all well and feeling capable and comfortable out there! At least some of the time!

Decluttering Challenge #4: the Kitchen!

So this was a big one! I actually meant to save it for later on in this venture, but I felt compelled to get started yesterday. This one took two days! I feel like some more things might shift here still, but I found places for a lot of things that were scattered about and got rid of some extras and some garbage, and dealt with the counter sprawl.

So! Again I didn’t approach most of the deeper cleaning just yet. My main goals in the kitchen were:

-clear off the pile of stuff on the counter, including papers to be filed and basket of random junk

-find homes for or get rid of various glass jars and plant pots that were covering the tops of the counters

-go through the cupboards and drawers and make more sense of them – food and dishes

I also intended to go through the pantry closet which is mostly filled with small appliances and recycling containers, but after getting through everything else it doesn’t seem very necessary – it just needs a bit of a clean and that can wait!

I’m going to post the pictures by area because there is a lot here.

Starting with the food cupboards!

Here is the first one before:

I pulled a surprising amount of egg cartons out which were picked up promptly after posting them on the local for free page. I cleared out some other things to recycle and put our massive cereal collection and bags of chips and other pantry things back in.

Here it is after:

Very full, but everything is lined up nicely and accessible.

Next one before:

Way too much stuff was crammed in here! With the cereal out of the way I was able to arrange the rest much better. I tossed a couple old and stale things. Here it is after:

So much easier to find things! Especially all the teas.

And the baking and pasta stuff here, before:

Again just so much stuff. I tossed a few things and put everything back more orderly. Here it is after:

I feel like our baking ingredients are always a bit much, but I really like to have things on hand for spontaneous treat making so I make it work!

Here’s another before:

All our food storage containers plus chips. With the food out of the way, I organized the lids and containers and added the jars I wanted to keep, and other containers taken out of other areas. Doesn’t look quite so tidy after, but everything is easy to find and organized in a way that makes sense to me. Here it is:

So that brings me to the place those jars came from, before:

The top of my cupboard was covered!

But I thought I had room for the plant pots in here…

So that turned into this:

Got the plant stuff in here and my watering can off the counter, and arranged what else needed to be up here more tidily.

So with the jars and pots out of the way, the top of the cupboards are clear!

And the counter top sprawl here…

I decided to actually move our little filing system out here. Not the totally clear counter I was hoping for, but way more convenient for actually putting papers away instead of letting them pile up. I went through the random junk, tossed a bit and moved a lot to the craft room where it can be put away properly when I tackle that space.

So after all that, here is the whole spread now:

And a couple other little things, some dishes and things before:

Not too much work with these, took out a couple broken or needless things, rearranged the rest better and ended up with:

And that’s about it! That’s not every bit of storage space in the kitchen, but that’s where most of the work was done. I’m sure I missed describing some things, but I hope the photos at least give you an idea of the transformation here. I am really happy with with. And now I am set to take it easy for the rest of the day!

Stay tuned for the next area to be posted! And thanks to everyone who’s been doing their own work and sharing with me on the Facebook page! It keeps me motivated to keep going, too!

Decluttering Challenge #3: the Hall Closet!

After a little break after the weekend I am back in action! This time I wanted to tackle the hall closet. We don’t have a lot of spare linens or anything, so this is a big mix of cleaning supplies, towels and random household things that haven’t found room anywhere else.

So my goals here were:

– make some space for extra toiletries and first aid stuff

-organize cleaning supplies

-take out any extra garbage or unneeded things and put away things that don’t need to be there

-make some space for the breastpump and anything else that had been shoved unceremoniously

So here is the before picture:

This one was pretty easy to get through as well.

I took the diaper box at the bottom (full if random things for this next baby) and brought it to my own closet where the other box of baby clothes is and left them together, to be gone through more thoroughly when we’ve gathered more baby supplies.

I went through the top shelf and carefully folded the table cloth and a couple extra pillowcases and took out an old, cheap humidifier that I am quite sure is full of mildew inside. That’s waiting to either be cleaned or tossed now.

I went through the cleaning supplies, tossed and recycled empty containers and dried out old wipes, and arranged everything left in a way that made more sense.

This left more space on that same shelf for the first aid and body care stuff.

I arranged the top and bottom shelves so there is some empty space as well as room for a few little boxes and the cleaning bucket and such.

And made everything else fit nicely!

That’s about it. Most of what came out of here was just garbage and it is so much easier to get to everything now. I think I actually added in more than I took out, but it looks emptier now.

Here is the after shot:

And a closer look:

Next I think I’ll work on the bathrooms before moving on to the fuller, busier rooms!

Thanks for following along, please feel free to share your own progress! Watch for the next post soon!

Decluttering Challenge #2: Kids Room!

Onto the next room! This one was a lot less work than I thought it might be. Again I skipped the cleaning stuff for now, just to focus on getting things organized and tidy.

Here is what I focused on in the kids room:

– Rounding up misc. things under the bed and in the junk bed drawers and putting them in their place.

– Properly organize the dress up stuff.

– Toss (or take aside to fix) ripped or broken things.

– Go through clothes to take out things that don’t fit or aren’t worn and organize what is left.

– Organize toys and games in the closet, purge if necessary, and see if there are any books to be donated.

Here’s a shot of the closet before, this was my main focus:

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