core story

What central story is at the core of you, and how do you share it with the world? (Bonus: Consider your reflections from this month. Look through them to discover a thread you may not have noticed until today.)
prompt by Molly O’Neill

The last couple of days I have been considering my reflections with this #reverb10 exercise as well as the previous 30 days of truth...that has been a lot of self-reflection and navel gazing going on here…how in the world did you stand me, much less last this long? Well, I must thank you all for your morbid curiosity of my delving into my mad mind and the digging out of all of the lint and hubris that is in there.  I can’t promise you that there will no longer be self-absorbed musings, after all this is MY blog. But I can promise you that at least for now there will not be any 30 day exercises of reflective pondering.

After all this, I am exhausted as I imagine are you.

I didn’t really see the core thread in  this month-long exercise or even in myself until in the wee small hours of the other night in the NICU. During my downtime I have been enjoying my latest read, Alexa Stevenson’s Half Baked.

sidebar: OMG, read this book! No, I’m not just saying that because as a mommy of a 24 weeker with an equally dramatic NICU course as Alexa’s gorgeous Simone, I get the worry, the fear, the anger, the dark (but much needed) humor. No, I am recommending this book because this writer’s voice captivates you, draws you in and entertains the hell out of you while making you appreciate the hell and heaven that is the rabbit hole of parenting a micro-preemie.

I came across this passage during my downtime of caring for and chasing after two wildly apneic two pound babies on opposite ends of the room in the NICU and suddenly I got it.

“Progress in the NICU isn’t linear.” Wendy said to me once.
“Simone will get better, and then she’ll get worse, or have a setback. But then she’ll get better again. And that will repeat, over and over, but she’ll start covering more ground going uphill than she loses slipping back.”…”She will make progress, but slowly.”
This may be the Zen of Neonatology. At the time, I was very focused on the logistics:how many steps back, exactly, would there be? When would we start to gain momentum? Was there some sort of benchmark I could use? I expected the back and forth to end, but now it seems obvious that this shuffling, dance-like process is everywhere, even outside the NICU, though generally it occurs over longer periods of time. You stumble, recover, and hopefully, keep moving forward. Really, what more can you ask?

And suddenly, for me, there it was!

What?

You don’t see it?

The dance…the NICU two-step that I have known for over the last twenty years of my nursing career and as the mommy of a former 1lb 6 oz micropreemie is life…it is life in general. In the NICU it is closely watched over, weighed and measured down to the last gram and milliliter and every single breath taken. But outside the NICU, we are just living it, just dancing. Sometimes we dance well and celebrate the lightness of our step and the giddiness and joy of it all. Other times we shuffle and trip, and stumble a little, and a lot. But, hopefully, we do keep moving forward. And might I suggest that, hopefully, we still can laugh…even just a little.

This last year there has been much shuffling and stumbling, two steps forward and one step back, and sometimes just swaying side to side. There has been much stress and worry, anger and frustration, tears and fears. But there has been moments of laughter, of joy, of exhilarating triumph and of blissful peace. But moving forward we seem to have managed…even if it is only a few steps. That is my core story, my central theme for 2010…as it has been for the years past and, I imagine, the years to come.

Thank god I still can laugh.

Really, what more can I ask?

gift

This month, gifts and gift-giving can seem inescapable. What’s the most memorable gift, tangible or emotional, you received this year?
prompt by Holly Root

I’m a mom. Mommies always say that the best gifts that they receive are the ones that they receive from their children be they hand made, store bought or even school projects. Mommies do not say this because they have to because they are mommies. No, they say it because it is true.

Being blessed with five gorgeous children and one delicious grandchild (and counting…) I can attest that I received many gifts throughout the year…delightful, precious, perfect, simple gifts.

Best. Gifts. Ever.

defining moment

Describe a defining moment or series of events that has affected your life this year.
prompt by Kathryn Fitzmaurice

At the risk of being accused of redundancy…

The running!

The running of that very first half marathon and then all the other half marathons and endurance runs that followed this year.

OMG!

It was like the first time I ever birthed a baby. Yes, I acted like I was the only one who had ever enjoyed an unmedicated, vaginal delivery and birthed the most amazing baby just like I seem to have acted like I was the only one to have ever run a half marathon…five half marathons in a calendar year.

How boorish can I be?

But again, experiencing the awesomeness of my own physical self that can move well…okay, move fairly well and endure so many miles and still manage to allow me to walk the next day. It is absolutely amazing. Time marches on and there is no way that I can stop it yet I have proven to myself that in spite of the fact that myself is fast approaching the next decade…the (GULP) fifties, I can and do move like I am ten, even fifteen years younger.

I took a quiz in this month’s Women’s Health Magazine that confirms this.

No, I am not intending, nor planning on stopping the hands of time. I have earned every single laugh line, every wrinkle the lies alongside my latest middle-aged acne breakout. But just like what I see when I step on a scale, it is just a number and a number that represents my weight or my age does not define me. Who I am, inside and out and what I can do is what defines me.

I am fan-fucking-tastic!!!

 

achieve

What’s the thing you most want to achieve next year? How do you imagine you’ll feel when you get it? Free? Happy? Complete? Blissful? Write that feeling down. Then, brainstorm 10 things you can do, or 10 new thoughts you can think, in order to experience that feeling today.
prompt by Tara Sophia Mohr

I won’t lie; reading the first part of this prompt made me NOT want to answer it. It sounds too much like what are my resolutions for 2011…achievements…goals…resolutions…goals…achievements. They are virtually interchangeable to me. Look up one of these words in a thesaurus and you will find the other two words listed. As a rule, I do not make resolutions. For me annual resolutions for the New year only set me up for potential failure of meeting those goals followed by self-loathing, weeping, gnashing of teeth and the wearing of ashes and sack cloth.

I don’t need this, I tell myself.

So for the last day or so, I ignored the prompt.

Stupid prompt.

Nope.

I’m not answering this one.

But it still remained in my drafts waiting for me to open it up and write…write out my goals, that which I hope to achieve in 2011.

Fine then!

Much of this past year has been filled to the brim with a general feeling of unhappiness…and with good reason too…
unemployment and under employment which has led to mounting bills, depleted savings, raided retirement nest eggs and college funds…
not to mention stress, frustration, anger, depression…
and the ever looming reality that we are THISCLOSE to losing the Big Top to foreclosure.

…there has been much good…a lot of good in our lives this year but it has been laborious at times to see it all. focus on it and give thanks.

If pressed I would suggest that my planned achievement is to focus on my happiness. It’s there, this rich field of joy. I just need to tap into it more deeply and frequently.

I’ll start here:

  • Simple pleasures, no matter how simple or small, I will enjoy and reflect on the daily pleasures…even if I have to list them daily.
  • End the comparisons. I am good at this with my running. I am quite content to run at my happy, granny pace and let others run on ahead and often beat themselves up for not hitting their intended mark. I need to extend this to the rest of my life.
  • Hang out with happy people. Misery loves company and recalling many bitch sessions I have engaged in this past year I have been in some pretty crowded, dark, miserable corners. I need to strike out and mingle more in the bright sun-shiny places with the happy people.

Three things…three simple things. I know, the prompt asks for ten things but I need to start small, simple and small. So it will be three things. It’s doubtful that they will solve the big problems going on right now…they won’t get my husband a permanent job or prompt our mortgage lender to stop dicking around with us to suddenly become more gracious and patient and FINALLY process our loan modification papers. But these three things will improve my mood, soothe the anger, decrease the stress and sharpen my vision to see that no matter what happens in the short term I remain very blessed and so damn lucky.

ordinary joy

Our most profound joy is often experienced during ordinary moments. What was one of your most joyful ordinary moments this year?
prompt by Brené Brown

Too many to recall especially thanks to this most extraordinary child of mine. His Aunt Toni and I were just discussing this truth about Daniel just the other day. He is uniquely gifted in warming people’s hearts with just his smile or his sweet laughter. The most ordinary of moments are exquisite and joy-filled and you just want them to go one and on and on and never, ever end.

Christmas Day morning I watched him as he passed out the gifts to his sisters and began opening his own. The gifts this year were few but to witness his excitement and joy one might imagine we were celebrating the excesses of Christmases past. Daniel’s joy, his simple, ordinary, child-like joy filled us all that morning in such a way that our hearts grew three sizes that day. My son’s ordinary joy reminded us of the truth that we already knew in our minds but not so sincerely in our hearts; that Christmas perhaps doesn’t come from a store…Christmas… means a little bit more!

Every day, every single day this year and every year of this child’s life I am so damn lucky to experience, to live such profound joy. Thank goodness, too! I swear it’s like he was created for this amazing-ness. And me, well, I try to always appreciate him, my own angel of ordinary, profound joy.