That's so selfing!

I learned a new word last night:

Selfing. The act of taking care of oneself.

You'd think with two therapists in the family, years of counseling myself, watching Dr. Phil religiously, and after all the journal-writing/journal therapy books I've read I would have come across this term before. I have the concept down pat: arrange for a babysitter so you can have a girl's night out, eat the organic, full-grain oatmeal you just made for the kids instead of inhaling a piece of stale birthday cake on the way to work, get a massage, don't wear booty-sagging sweats, put on some make up, lock yourself in the bathroom so you can drink your coffee while it's still hot. Oh, believe me, I know what I'm supposed to do - doing it is a completely different load of laundry.

After a bedtime "routine" that has ended with more water on the floor than in the tub and your ear-drums ringing with screams of "NO! That's mine!," the ice-cream calls equally loudly. When a babysitter costs $20 you don't really have to spare, another evening in front of the tube becomes the norm. When there are more dishes in the sink than in the cupboard, sitting quietly to read or write is just irresponsible. Right?

"The act of taking care of oneself"... I had to make up that definition. Merriam-Webster did not recognize "Selfing," and Google found only this: Self-fertilization of an organism.

Well, OK. I'll go with that.

Fertilization is a process by which a organism is reproduced, regenerated, created. To fertilize is to nourish and feed.

Self-fertilization would be, therefore, the process of being regenerated without the help of anyone else. Your own pollen. Your own flower. Fertilizing yourself, for your own re-growth. Nourishing yourself.

Of course, as a mother, I am a gardener who lovingly tends to my little seedlings. I must ensure that with well-nourished leaves and sturdy roots they will reach for the sun. My children will be less likely to reach their potential if I am unable to guide and nurture them. This in itself requires a certain amount... who am I kidding? It requires a HUGE amount of selflessness.

But above all, I am a woman and as such I must be my own gardener - providing myself with fresh water and nutritious food, polishing my leaves, and turning my face to the sun. No flower can survive by hiding in the dark. And I myself must be healthy in order to provide for my family to the best of my ability.

Personally, I know I need quiet time, writing time, and coffee time (preferably all at the same time). But I also know I need, but hardly ever (or never) give myself, reading time, hubby time, spa time, girlfriend time, and silly time.

What do you want/need?

In order to practice Selfing, you must think of a child - your inner child:

Love yourself as you love your child (would you deny your child the care you deny yourself?)
Learn to play/dance/laugh/love like a child.
Dream big.
Sleep long and deep.
Do what you love (the money will come).
Eat your veggies before dessert.
Remember you are your own parent (as well as your child's) and as such you HAVE to keep yourself in the best mental, emotional and physical health possible.

What selfing thing will you do today?

Stumble Upon Toolbar


Standing on the edge

Ever feel like you are on the precipice of your dream?

I use the word "precipice" deliberately. My stomach is churning, I feel shaky, I might throw up. I am about to hurl myself into the unknown - pushed by forces stronger than me. I see my dream out there - can touch it even - but the initial leap is terrifying. Funny how getting what you want can be so frightening. Someone wrote once (Sarah Ban Breathnach, I think) that success is often scarier than failure.

But I must have faith that once I jump I will not crash on the rocks of failure below.

No, I know, once I gather my nerves and strap them to my back they will miraculously transform into creative energy. Passion. The universe/spirit will then acknowledge my confidence, my belief in myself. It will lift me and I will soar.

Stumble Upon Toolbar


Grade: E (for Ennoying)

This is a from a note that came home from playschool today:

In addition to finishing our planting theme we focused on the colors red, white and blue this week in celebration of Memorial Day;
OK, so far. But then...
Also stars and stripes, in which our American flag is decorated with.
I'd rather you squirt some lemon juice in my eye than have to read that. There is so much wrong with that sentence that I don't even know where to start (other than the fact that it isn't a sentence).

I try not to be a holier than thou-er but I this kind of thing drives me 'round the bend.

"Your going to the beach this weekend? Your what is going?"
"Toy's for sale" "The toy's what is for sale?"

And you know what scares me the most? People, like my husband, who aren't writers, think I'm an intellectual snob for even noticing. He laughs at me when I get so incensed over business mail or newsletters that read as if my six-year old wrote them. I was at my daughter's elementary school the other day and up on the wall were the words, "Your the best!" At a school! Heaven help us!

Am I wrong to be so picky? NO! I am a writer and as such I have deemed myself responsible for the correct propagation (is that the right word?) of the English language. I am the first to admit I am bad with grammar - semi-colons and I aren't on the best of terms - but I do know where my apostrophes belong and the sentence, "Their keys? They're over there," is not a problem for me. Is that because I was educated in England or because I have a natural aptitude for words? I don't know, but I do know that our children have no respect for language - kwim (lol)? And apparently our schools are not bridging the gap, and haven't been for a while, judging on the ability of their parents.

Yes, I'm a snob and I plan to stay that way, nose held high and apostrophes well-placed.

Your welcome.

Stumble Upon Toolbar


Let's Talk About Me

I had no patience with the children's antics tonight, and while I would like to turn to a glass of wine for solace, the bottle is dry. So, here I am hunkered over my laptop instead. Writing is my drug of choice and thankfully I don't have to put on a bra to go out to get it.

But, unfortunately, my bottle is also dry and I need to borrow a blog topic. This one is from Noble Savage: visit her - she's a working/writing mother who is intelligent, opinionated, and funny.

Here goes...

15 years ago today I would have been:

  • Finishing up my thesis for my History Honors Degree (comparing the fashions of Renaissance and Victorian Europe... don't ask when I thought I would use that in real life.)
  • Living at home.
  • Driving around in a 1984 Subaru (the first car I purchased with my own money) with the license plate "Yeovil."

10 years ago today I would have been:

  • Suffering through the death throes of a seriously wounded relationship.
  • Living in a large house with two exotic dancers (not by choice).
  • Working in the Trust Department of a bank but actively searching for something less boooorING.

5 years ago today I would have been:

  • Fighting off fire ants and casserole-bearing church ladies in Mississippi after moving there a month earlier.
  • Loving being a stay-at-home mom to 15-month Little Lady after leaving the Youth Orchestra where I had worked as Marketing Assistant for the last five years.
  • Wondering what the hell I was doing 1,500 miles away from my parents and four seasons.

1 year ago today I would have been:

  • Celebrating the first anniversary of being back in Vermont and two months in our own home.
  • Walking from home to the coffee shop, library, book store, and park.
  • Finishing a course in Children's Literature.
  • Beginning a instructor-certification course in Journal-Writing.
  • Laying out a program for a local theatre group.
  • Starting Tator in playschool for two mornings a week so I could write...(ha! laundry had a way of ruining that plan.)
  • In disbelief that Little Lady was finishing pre-school and headed to Kindergarten in a few months.

This year I am:

  • A certified instructor of Journal to the Self through the Center for Journal Therapy.
  • A published writer... finally!
  • Working part-time in a 45-female-only gossip tank (there are two males but they sit there quietly enduring the catty-ness) and wondering every day if I'm crazy not to leave well enough alone.
  • Writing whenever, whatever I can and trying to make (and stick to) writing goals.
  • Attempting to overcome my "impostor syndrome" and schedule journal-writing workshops.

Today I:

  • Actually got up early enough to write in my journal before the kids woke up.
  • Walked to work.
  • Endured another (extra) gossipy-catty-entitled-employee day at work (and I admit I was part of it).
  • Did a Walmart diaper run (why are boys so hard to potty-train?).
  • Talked to/got emails from three people interested in my workshop.
  • Am watching American Idol (Adam, that should have been you!).

Next year I hope:

  • Not to be working outside the home.
  • To have a regularly-scheduled workshops and plenty of word-of-mouth advertising.
  • To be more comfortable with submitting essays and queries.
  • To have time to write (and actually using it to write).
  • To have more readers on my blog (and maybe making money off it).
  • That Hubby is settled in a job he really loves (and that we don't have to move because of it).
  • To be balancing motherhood and me-hood better than I am now.
  • Have the money to re-do our kitchen, build a sunroom, and fix up the "guest house" (converted garage) to make it "The Writer's Retreat" (and pigs might fly).

In five years I hope:

  • To be Joanna: Freelance Writer and Certified Journal Therapist.
  • To have a real group of friends.
  • To be a (contributing) part of this community.
  • That both kids are happy in school (but not participating in every extra-curricular activity).
  • That I don't have three children.
  • That I'm aging graciously and that my 40s are the new... ME!

Stumble Upon Toolbar


It's 3:28AM

I have returned Tator Tot to his bed 3 times and been kicked in the back one too many. The rain is tap-tapping on the carport beneath the bedroom window. I roll onto this side, and on the other. No good. Brain has kicked in. Three blog posts have visited me. I have to give in and get up.

Something beckons from the other room. My beloved laptop. And silence.

I love sleep. The soft enveloping weight of my duvet and the cool of a freshly washed pillow case... ahhhh. But in the middle of the night when I can't sleep, it is writing that pulls me from my nest. Usually on nights like this it is my journal that gets my attention and because my analytical brain is still curled up on that pillow I can write for many a page - from a deeper place.

But tonight this blog called me. I'm not sure what it is I am aiming to say but I wanted to feel the satisfying tap dance of fingers on keys. It calms me to write. Even if I am writing for me alone, watching my words steadily fill a page/screen helps me feel alive. If someone reads it and relates then even better, but not necessary.

My bed is calling me again but this short sojourn into the pre-dawn silence has been enough to fulfill my need for a moment with me. My eyes are straining with the brightness of the screen. I know it would probably have been a better choice to fill the pages of the thick-paper journal that sits by my bed. But I believe I am here babbling about nothing for a reason - to avoid going to that deeper place only my journal can take me. I went to bed sad, maybe even angry. I do not know why - but my journal does - but I am not ready to talk.

When we avoid something there is usually a reason, and for that very reason we must push past our fear. Being afraid to hear what your soul, you higher self, your intuition has to say is a clear indication that that is exactly what you need to hear.

We have all the answers. We have all the resources we will ever need to heal ourselves. They are locked inside. It is our job to find the key. For some it might be meditation, art, dance, prayer. For me it is writing.

So here I sit at 4:06AM - weary and written-out (for the moment), having solved nothing. Except I now know for sure I need to sit down and have a little chat with myself.


Stumble Upon Toolbar


Silly Mommy, trips are for kids!

Funny how memory works. We swear we will never take both kids to the grocery store right after school, then we do again... and again. Flying with the children is an absolute No-No until they have full responsibility over their own bodily functions and can run the length of Detroit's Terminal C on their own two legs. But then we book that flight. Road trips and hotels were off the list too, but...

We packed the car and headed for a lovely weekend in Maine. But after we had stopped for the 6th bathroom/poopy diaper break in two hours and the Laughing Game ensued (which would be more aptly called the "Let's See How Many Times We Can Say The Word Poop and Scream With Laughter Game"), I began to realize our mistake. This was no vacation, this was the trip to hell.

What I learned this weekend:

a) You don't need to buy a jungle gym or trampoline when you can just book a hotel room.
b) The number of times a child can ask if she can go swimming increases in direct relation to the lateness of the hour.
c) If there is an alarm clock in your hotel room, it is best to unplug it before bed because it has undoubtedly been messed with by little hands and set to blast you awake at 12:00AM. In the ensuing hitting of said clock you will inadvertently turn the radio on, set to the loudest, heaviest metal available to the listening public.
d) Once you have just drifted off to sleep again, your child will awake just enough to discover "Pappi-dog" has wandered off and alert you at the top of his lungs of this emergency.
e) The air-conditioner will whir loudly back to life the moment you have entered dream-land again.
f) The fact that hotel bed bouncing did not end until after 10PM, 5:30AM is a perfectly acceptable time of day to wake your mother by placing your mouth directly by her ear and announcing you're bored and need to go swimming NOW!
g) No matter how many outfits you pack, they will all get wet, sandy and/or ketchup-stained and you will have to buy something extra.
h) On the journey home you will be so exhausted you won't realize you drove north instead of south until you are arriving in downtown Portland.
i) There is not enough Dunkin' Donuts iced-coffee in the world to make the drive home (which is now an hour longer) go by fast enough.
j) Home and your own bed are the best places on earth.
k) Happy, sand-encrusted, swam-out kids make it all worthwhile... maybe.

Stumble Upon Toolbar


OK, Universe, I hear you

If you have been reading lately, you'll know that I have been questioning and questioning. My job, career, life... all under diagnosis. I am truly torn over my job - it has some good things going for it (and for me) and some damn annoying things. Some days I come home wondering how the place will keep its doors open one more minute. But then I'll have a gab with the CEO and be reminded why she is where she is and how we keep on ticking.

After my rants I came to a momentous decision: to not make a decision. Yeah, a bit of a cop out, but this has been my mother's wise mantra for many years - when you can't make a decision, don't.

Well, it worked. Over the course of 12 hours I was handed my answer, literally.

My husband - a psychotherapist - came home and handed me a brochure that had been mailed to his supervisor. It was for a seminar in Journal Therapy being offered two hours away and taught by none other than the director of the Center of Journal Therapy through which I am certified as an instructor. Kay Adams personally approved my application, made notes in my course workbook, and emailed me to tell me I had passed the course. I immediately registered for the seminar, knowing (hoping) I would find the money and a babysitter. Although I am not qualified to offer journal therapy at this point, learning and practicing more techniques can do nothing but help my workshops, not to mention the benefit of networking with therapists and social workers. But most of all, I am excited to group journal with Kay as our moderator.

At work today I mentioned this seminar to my boss. She offered to pay for it through my training allowance! (See, told you I'd find the money.) She wants me to teach the workshops as an additional component of the educational program our organization provides to teen parents. As our grant writer I am the one who has to find the money to pay myself for this!

Later in the day, I was on a follow-up grant call and realized mid-conversation that this person could be a valuable resource for me and my workshops. I later emailed her telling her what I do... laying out a fleece.

I believe Serendipity has paid me a visit. This has all made me realize is that, even though I will have bad days at a struggling nonprofit, I was given this job for a reason. Even though it may seem like it is blocking the path towards my real career, it may actually be the path.

I just have to make sure I keep walking on that path.

Stumble Upon Toolbar


My Lazy Ass

OK, I admit it - I'm lazy.

Lazy, lazy, lazy.

If it wasn't for the 68 things I cram into my seven hour day off (the one with only one child at my ankles), I would be sitting on the couch. Oh yea, I'd be lounging with my coffee watching Tyra and Rachel and Whoopi and, you know what, even Martha, because I'm that lazy.

If it wasn't for the inner drive pushing me to take classes and then actually want to put them to use, I'd be still be a bank teller wearing sweaty, organ-restricting nylons and closed-toed shoes and offering extra services to customers who don't want or need them. I'd be miserable but what can you expect when you're lazy?

If it wasn't for the DJ who suddenly blurts out of my radio at 6:10AM reminding me not so subtly to get my lazy ass out of bed, I'd still be there, right now. Snoring. Happily. If a sleep-saturated toddler snuggled under my chin at 3AM every night and who, when the snuggling turns to pro-wrestling, I heft back to his own bed, maybe then I'd have an excuse to hit "snooze" one more time but no, I'm just lazy.

If it wasn't for the eight sheets of paper and four crafts that come home in my daughter's folder every single day, I would never have a mountain of dead trees sliding all across the kitchen counter, but I do because, yes, I'm lazy.

If the dust-bunnies would quit having dust-bunny sex and multiplying like, well, dust-bunnies, I'd have a perfectly clean floor and my broom wouldn't look like a member of ZZ Top, but I don't and it does - lazy is as lazy does.

If I wasn't so damn lazy this post would be longer and better written but, ya know what.... Whatever.

Stumble Upon Toolbar


And then I started thinking...

I wrote last time about needing to leave my job. I was ready to walk into my boss's office and give the word. So ready. But then Ding Dong! this annoying little thing called Responsibility rang the door bell.

  • The CEO created my position especially for me.
  • I told my boss I was committed (should be committed??)
  • No one else (with my qualifications) would work for so little pay.
  • No other boss would be so incredibly flexible with my hours.
  • I get discounted child care.
  • I can teach my journal workshops through them.
  • I can network within the human services/non-profit world for my own purposes through them.
  • I am learning a valuable skill.
  • I get to gossip with all the "girls" over coffee and free donuts.
  • I have a reason to put on make up and wear something other than jeans.
  • It gets me out of the house and away from Facebook.
  • I can justify buying another pair of shoes because I earned it.
  • With two days off and most of the summer free, I have NO excuse not to keep my house clean, write or market the journal workshops.
Responsibility? Egoism? No-brainer? Dream-sabotage?

They don't NEED me, I'm not irreplaceable. But she gave me a chance when I needed a job - is it now fair to run out just because I don't need them? Am I wasting precious energy that could be spent pursuing my personal goals? I like being needed. Do I also "like" having an excuse for not succeeding in other areas of my life???

Damn. I need to give this some more thought.

Stumble Upon Toolbar


Weekend or End of Rope?

Good bye! Have a good time at C's house!

Thank god, I mumble as I turn back to the house and my family drives off. Oh, come off it, don't judge me, you'd be happy too.

I look around my kitchen: the counters are scattered with dirty dishes, the floor sticky, soggy cereal in a bright orange bowl on the table. The toy room.... don't even look in there. Papers are piled on the den table and various toys and inside-out clothes are on the floor and couch. Winter coats, yet to be put away for the season (you never know when you are going to need them around these parts) are filling and falling off the pegs in the hallway, while boots, skates, gloves, and hats overflow from the bin, which, in a fit of organization I had put there to contain the winter necessities. Clothes in various stages of clean are busting out of the laundry room while the washer and dryer continue to chug away at their endless duty. The kids' room looks like a library and teddy bear factory collided, and the office (MY writing room) has more baskets of laundry than this blog has complaints. My desk has pans of sprouting seeds in the place where my laptop should sitting sprouting words instead.

Later today, I have to work - yes, on a Saturday - at a fundraiser. Last night I made a casserole (and I hate to cook) and ran to the grocery store for emergency vittles for said fundraiser. All I want to do is stay in the house and make it habitable again. Then I want to sit here and WRITE.

I think I ran out of hours at, "I have to work."

I can't do this anymore. My job, although I have cut my hours, is sucking the life out of me. I am not meant to be sitting behind someone else's desk listening to a co-worker barking orders and opinions to anyone who will listen. My "job" is to be everything that I have the potential to be. I am wasting my time for a lousy paycheck when I could be using those hours to pursue and excel at a writing and journal therapy career. Every minute that I spend eating donuts at a 5-hour management team meeting is a minute I could be spending on something that brings me joy and fulfillment.

When you consider buying masks to cover your children's faces for fear of pig-sty flu, it might be time to dedicate more time to cleaning. When your blog visits you in the night begging to be paid attention, it might be time to say no, I will not work this weekend. And when you are crying because that essay idea you had has vanished along with the 4th cup of cold coffee drunk while madly filling the dishwasher in the 2 seconds left before you have to leave for work, it might just be time to slow down, take a breath and say, "what the hell am I doing?"

And when someone at work decides you no longer need your own desk because you only work 18 hours, it might be a clue that it is time to leave all together.

If I am going to listen to my own advice about manifesting dreams and thinking positively I must do what I love. Magic happens when you pursue your dreams. Ignore them and you will not be happy.

Now, that I have gotten that off my chest, I must be back to sweeping up cat litter and stuffing four people's worth of snow attire into an already bulging closet.

P.S. I have so much more to write about the trip to England... please, stay tuned... and thank you, "Followers" for following!

Stumble Upon Toolbar