Day #60

“Wait for me!” I yelled to my small child’s back.

We were walking home from Mimi’s house and she had decided to run. I wanted to run but had a bag, a purse, and pants that wouldn’t stay up.

So I walked, hoping she wouldn’t get hit by a car.

And I thought, this is very symbolic of how I feel about my life lately … bogged down with stuff, ill-equipped for the moment, and half a mile behind — always.

But you know what I figured out today, dear readers?

You get there anyway. In your own time, with strong legs, and no need to struggle to breathe … you get there — and everything is just fine when you do.

Day #50

The day was long and extremely hectic. I worked all day then taught a 4 hour class an hour-and-a-half away. I felt stressed about trying to get a walk in. In the midst of the day, I was texting with a friend and we were discussing self-nurture. How we live in a world with so many rules and with superegos yelling too many shoulds in our own heads.

I am an overachiever by nature. In 10 years, I’ve always had more than one job. I was the first in my family to graduate and the only one thus far to also complete a masters degree. I have a full time job and still make a point to take my daughter to dance class, help with every school party, and attend all parent-teacher conferences. I do not feel pride about these things, it just is me.

I am a multi-tasker by first nature. One of my biggest self-“projects” is to slow down and enjoy my life, to live presently without the to-do list running a marathon in my brain.

So I said to her, my friend:

“Absolutely … the way I think about things is not what is right or wrong but what brings me to my healthiest state emotionally, physically, spiritually, etc. Because me being my healthiest puts me in the best place to flow with others. And it changes everyday for me … sometimes it’s choosing dinner with a friend, sometimes a bubble bath, other times I want to work so I don’t feel stressed about falling behind.”

And it dawned on me, gentle readers, that a walk every day is not serving me if it is constantly stressing me. Most days it is the healthy choice for me because it moves my body, clears my mind, grounds my soul. But on the days it is not, I will not allow myself to feel guilty or “less than” because of this blog.

But I will be authentic with you in this journey, and will learn to be real with myself in that process.

A headshot of Rachel Olienyk with brunette hear and wearing a pearl necklace.

Day #30

Adalie walked with me today while my Love was away Christmas shopping. I watched in half-amusement, half-exasperation as she tried to master the art of the scooter. She would get going and then lose her footing, and then get going and lose direction, and then get going and panic because she was going too fast, and lose her courage. It made me think of all the mental and physical energy that goes into learning a new skill.

Red and white for-sale sign in a front yard. I have many friends right now who seem to be in transition. Newly divorced, newly parented, newly moved, newly reformed. As I walked, I noticed signs of change as well… a “for sale” sign in the yard, new construction in the back… life is forever changing. Some for the good, some for the bad, and really it is only our perception that categorizes them.
But as I walked, I thought not so much about the change. Whatever it may be, the decision is often easily, if not hastily, made.

It’s creating the new normal that exhausts a soul.

Becoming a family of three with the birth of a new baby, re-identifying as a “single” after being coupled for a decade, recreating a life after a big move or loss. We often look much like Adalie on that scooter… fumbling for direction, shaky at best, and just hoping the courage does not fail us.

But something else I’ve seen over and over in my life… resilience. As we rounded the corner, she took off. Still unsteady, but confident and free… hair wild in the breeze, smile on her face, and playful squealing at the top of her voice. The mama in me wanted to call after her, “Be careful!

But I stopped myself, because life does not usually afford us that luxury, and her normal was coming along just fine…

Blonde-haired girl riding a pink-wheeled scooter in a the last light of dusk.

Day #21

It’s an odd feeling to observe your child on “the outside.” I know exactly how she will react to things almost every single time at home. The dynamics are set, the routine is steady, and the rules stay the same. But last night and today I was merely present with her at two different parties and the behavior was fascinating. To see her interact with other children, try new things, and observe and adapt her own behavior based on those around her, made me realize a few¬†things:

  • I way underestimate her and I have much to be proud of in her. She went out of her way to be kind and make others (especially younger or shy) feel comfortable.
  • She went out in a crowd of perfect strangers and skated her heart out while singing despite her uncertainty on skates.
  • She continually put herself out there at a birthday party where she didn’t know anyone but the birthday girl… introducing herself, giggling, and talking with everyone at the table.

Blonde child skating with assistance in a purple and red rink.It also made me realize the importance of adaptability and resiliency. And I may not get it all right on this parenting venture; however, this weekend watching my girl, I know I’m not getting it all wrong either. This leads to a deep sigh of relief and about 7 seconds of not worrying about her.

In the spirit of change, we drove instead of walked tonight. We packed the dogs in the crew cab, stuck Adalie in the front between us, and with hot chocolate and Christmas-light-scavenger-hunt-list in hand, went for a long drive. We oohed and wowed at lights and music and decorations. Until two tired puppies and one sweet girl whined to go home.

He came around to my door to help me with a sleeping Adalie.

“This has been the happiest year of my life,” he whispered, taking her to her bed.

I teared up… Adaptability and resiliency win again.young-girl-sleeping

Day #17

Relief is a beautiful feeling. A stomach un-knotted. Shoulders lightened. An unexpected moment to breathe.

Today has been laced, sweetly and simply, with relief. And it brought a smile every time…

Medical tests results that were good after years of uncertainty.
Extra time to get caught up at work ended with an empty “to do” list.
Paid leave so a fella could give his body rest when it needs it most.
Dinner cooked when arriving home from work after 6:00pm.
Tickles, giggles, kisses, and joy together before bed time with no attitude or arguing.

Relief… one of the simplest pleasures life has to offer, if we take notice.

My final moment of relief was upon having such a crazy, busy day–my Love walked a mile in my shoes (figuratively), and will share his thoughts with you tonight.

Click or Tap to read his post.

As I sit here now: pjs, hot tea, and good book in hand, I wish you all a good night my gentle readers… I wish you all blissful relief.A green tea cup with panda bears perched on a lap with a backdrop of pin-striped pajamas.

Day #15

An led Christmas light display in the figure of a Poinsettia flower.It was dark when we got to the park. The air was crisp but refreshing. The lights were glorious and all around.

There was only one problem… a terrorist was following me around. She was female, long blond hair, about four feet tall. And she calls me, “Mama.”

Most days I love that title as it rolls off her tongue and straight to my heart. But today, right now, it came only with demands.
“Mama, fix my gloves.”
“Mama, I’m hungry.”
“Mama, follow me now.”
“Mama, stay behind me, I said!”

And this was after her complaints about the new jacket (too puffy), the new gloves (too hard to hold things), and new hat (honestly, I’m not really sure why she won’t wear the hat–I don’t think she even knows!) had all been voiced all the way here.
Inwardly, I cringed at her attitude, her tone, her words.
I tried ignoring. I tried stern talking. I tried distraction. I tried playful interaction to lighten her mood. None of it phased her for long and she was back to “terrorist” status.

I struggle in these moments. I believe strongly in healthy attachments. I recently read an article about doing “time ins” rather than time outs so you don’t teach a child that they are only acceptable as people when they are happy and perfect. I see this as a vital concept. I also believe children need their parents to help them organize and regulate especially when upset. I don’t generally agree with leaving a child who is spiraling out of control in a room alone. As a counselor, I rarely see good come from this scenario.

But damn it’s hard to connect with and support a child who is acting hateful.

We get home from our “fun” Christmas-lights walk. Dinner, PJs, a show, and brushed teeth later, she is flat out refusing to go to bed. I have had enough. But thanks to my meditative, although un-peaceful walk, I am prepared to discipline and not punish.

“You’re going to bed without me tonight because I am not going to reward your disobedience.”

Wailing, crying, yelling, tears, pleading, and sniffling later, she finally falls asleep.
I left the door open, I left her lamp on, I checked on her every 5-7 minutes. I kissed her, wiped away tears, and tucked her in. But I did not sit down, rub her back, or read her a story.

She knew that she was loved but also learned that it’s okay to be alone with unsettling feelings. It’s a lesson most adults are still learning…A young girl standing mezmorized inside a tunnel of dancing lights.

Day #8

two people walking down a streetIt was 80 degrees today. They said we broke a record. The last day of November, the first day of Christmas decorations and it feels like Spring. It was so off…

She came home at 3pm. Five days later and she finally came home. She hid behind her dad’s legs. She refused to look at me. She came in her own home begrudgingly.

I knew it would happen; it happens every time, especially when it’s not her usual weekend only visit. I try to prepare myself before she gets here; protect myself emotionally. But it just feels wrong…

We walk, me and my family, to my mom’s around the corner. She talks and skips and dances. My Love and I hold hands. And although the edge is still on her voice and the uncertainty stays etched in her face, I feel the world righting itself again. My baby is home and a cold front is coming…

Day #4

gray-boots-in-leavesHe came and took her away from me today.

Granted, “he” is her father and this is “his” holiday per standard visitation. But it felt like he took a part of me and drove it six hours away.¬† I love my current life. I am a happier, freer, and more loving person since my divorce from man and establishment.

But some days…

Some days I feel heavy with losing out on so much of her childhood. Some days I hate that I miss any holidays with the child I grew to spend holidays with…

So I walk solemnly…

at first…

but before long…

the leaves tickle my toes, the sunset catches my imagination, and the playful animals scurrying about make me giggle. We have real, adult conversation, and we stroll. There are no mouths to feed, no schedules to keep, and no agenda but my own. And the road just keeps walking us along.

A lot like life…