"Carrying body and soul and embracing the one, can you avoid separation? Attending fully and becoming supple, can you be as a newborn babe? Washing and cleansing the primal vision, can you be without stain? Loving all men and ruling the country, can you be without cleverness? Opening and closing the gates of heaven, can you play the role of woman? Understanding and being open to all things, are you able to do nothing?
Giving birth and nourishing, bearing but not possessing, working yet not taking credit, leading yet not dominating, this is the Primal Virtue." --Tao Te Ching; Lao Tzu
This month, I've found myself folding within while expanding to do all that needs to be done. Always, May is hectic and wild with school ending and the transition to summer, the disruption of the routine, and the scramble to tie up loose ends. It's also the time to venture outdoors and begin thinking again about what will grow and how to grow it... diving back into projects that were put on pause when fall turned to winter and things were left undone. This month has been particularly chaotic, testing me and my limits or maybe measuring just how far I can stretch. As I've gotten older, I've settled into a place of being that is very centrist. I try to stay in the middle and not allow external forces to swing my emotions wildly either to anger or elation. I am constantly feeling along to stay balanced on the wide stretch of centered, but I am just a person and do slowly grow to anger.
My usual 3+ hours in the car a day had bumped to 5+ hours and that is a huge chunk of time to be ripped from the day when all else still needs to be done. I think that stress was just enough to tip the scales that were already precariously balanced. My gran's health is deteriorating rapidly and even though I'm not her point person, the events unfolding through my mother's perspective have, of course taken their toll. But, there is always growth to be made. Every experience is an opportunity. Every conflict, every relationship, every day gives the gift of learning about oneself. Something I've been turning over and working out for the past few years is my relationship with the root problem humanity faces - to me the problem being, we're animals with engorged egos. Surrendering to the animal and returning to the core nature of mother helps me find my footing when I begin feeling overwhelmed and the nagging questions about balancing my needs with the children's are barking in my skull. And ironically, the concept of Mother's Day is usually a catalyst for feelings of doubt about my parenting and grace when dealing with the rearing of children. I have a far away friend that was once a blog friend when blogging was much more a part of our long distance connections that wrote about the balance between serving and being a servant. Dedicating our lives to our children, the most natural thing, is delicate because woman are not naturally born to bend, to yield, constantly to another's will. I think about her often as our children are becoming more self-sufficient and how that service doesn't end, it only changes and grows into something new.
Another mother nestled in and flexed her power this month. The battle began with a screeching bark, our lady dog, frantic at 3am. I was working on things for the kids, for the bills, managing the mundane tasks late into the night, then collapsed into bed. When Mar woke me up, I didn't have a startling fright of intuition, I just told her to kindly shut the fuck up. She didn't, and after a few minutes I got up to let her out. It was then that I noticed the hen house door standing wide open like the mouth of a cave. I ran out in nothing but a jacket and boots, legs bare against the chilly, wet air to count the chickens. Three missing. I stood and turned on my axis, surveying the yard with the flood lights casting long shadows. Suddenly I noticed Violet standing next to me, mirroring my stillness, a grey little statue frozen under the blackness. I asked, "Violet, are you okay?" And with that she squawked and bolted in a winding way with feathers streaming behind her. She stopped at the far fence line and tucked her head into the ground. I looked around for the other two and found one, my beloved Chunk, lifeless at the back fence, but the other was gone without a trace. I went back to Violet and placed my hand on her back. She didn't move. She was stiff and still and I thought the fright killed her. I as texting hubs who was just wrapping up at work and he told me to take Violet into the house. I got a towel and went back to get her. I draped the towel over her and she didn't move. I began lifting and she squawked again, flapping violently, and took off, hiding under the hen house. Hubs moved Chunk to the fill yard and we discovered the mounds of feathers, connecting the dots of the story. The next day, mama came back. Mama fox spent a week patrolling my yard - front, back, sides. And each night we saw her babies in the yard behind us and they would come out from their hiding place to look at us looking at them. I cried and first, poured into hub's chest when he got home, but soon came to appreciate the fact that mama fox has babe's to feed, too. Us mamas, just doing our best.
I finally started my audible The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck and even though I'm still a few minutes shy of finishing chapter 1, I know this is going to be killer. From what I've gathered in my small glimpse is that this book sings my heart song. I am a broken record ticking on about choosing battles and letting go of the little shit. I drive hubs crazy with my empathetic views on people driving too fast or too slow and asking what could be going on for them to be blocking or jockeying. It is so my nature to not give a fuck, but it's a skill I've been practicing, not one I've mastered. I'm really looking forward to having a bit of quiet time (when will I have a bit of quiet time exactly? You should see my calendar right now.) to put in the headphones, listen to a guy read a book about not giving a fuck, and finish up the last samples and patterns for the book.
And so, as stagnant as April was, May made up for it tenfold. I watched a new Netflix documentary called End Game which was a poignant film as we're talking about hospice in regard to my gran now, and quality of life in those final days has been at the forefront of my mind. It's funny how Spring paradoxically makes me think of the death that the world is being resurrected from and how wholly beautiful it is. The cycle is really deep for me right now and I'm feeling it.
The end of the month has shown us that true spring won't be had this year though. Heat set in quickly and we seemed to have missed the usual tornado season that rips through this middle part of the state. I actually sort of missed the wetness, the sirens, the threats of power outages... and watering the garden doesn't seem enough. The plants are just sort of listlessly standing there, too hot to create new cells, so I have rather low hopes for the garden. I think I've finally named my predominant attitude toward all things (thanks for reminding me, low hopes!) If I was one of those self-help types that have word wells that never seem to run dry, I would write a book with the title: Pessimistic Pep-Talk. I gave hubs one of those the other day. I said, you are always pissed off because you're in an endless cycle of disappointment. You need to lower your standards and expectations. Why do you think I can be rather content with my life, and you're all still alive? It's because I expect the worst all the time. He thought this was totally pessimistic and had a knee jerk reaction to the idea.
See, I used to be the one working full-time and he was home with the kids. I know we're really living the Leave it to Beaver dream now (wink), but it wasn't always that way. Anywhoooo, I would get off work after another crap day and sit in traffic for ages while the sun vanished and night settled in, and while creeping along the road with the masses, I would hope that for once the house would be picked up, the dishes wouldn't be piled up in every room, the floor would be swept, maybe even dinner was started!? Wouldn't that just be amazing? And you know what? None of those things ever happened. My husband is the most shit housewife ever. I would be so pissed every single night because once again, all of my expectations were being stomped. One night I had a new mantra: The house is going to look like a bomb went off and the three little assholes waiting for me are all going to say the same thing when the door swings open - "what's for dinner" - because that's what they do. And when I got home, it looked like a bomb went off and they all just looked at me and asked, "what's for dinner?" and it didn't phase me because I lowered my expectations so low I couldn't be disappointed. I know that this probably sounds crazy, and that family arrangement was clearly not working for us! And so even though we did eventually get to a point where we could change all of that and hubs could go back to school and get a job that pays as much in a day as that crappy job paid in a week.... and I could stay home and do things like pick up the house, do the dishes, sweep, and cook... expecting the worst literally saved my marriage.
But, there are things that grate about his job, and it's always the same story. So, I was like, how about you try to just expect the worst? Expect that the schedule is going to be changed for loads or that someone is going to show up and throw the system out of whack? The worst that can happen is that those things do happen and you'll be ready. The benefit is that if those things don't happen, it'll be a nice surprise.
So, ya, that's how I don't murder my family or loose my mind on a daily basis because life is full of opportunities for disappointment. And that, my friends, is a pessimistic pep-talk.
The on-going saga with my body care continues (something I'm trying to give less of a fuck about)... I've made some changes though that have been extremely beneficial. First, I swapped the baking soda-based deodorant with Little Seed Farms Deodorant Cream which I may have mentioned before... but I am still using and loving it. My mama picked some up also but was a little put off by how liquid it became as the house has warmed in this surprisingly hot May weather. I quite like how it melted down. I just use the little stick that came with the jar to mix and apply it as if I'm waxing, then I gently smooth it around with my fingers. Done and done!
My hair routine, too has changed. It was becoming very dry and dull so I tried mixing up some coconut oil and essential oils, working it into my hair, and rinsing with hot water. This is a bit tricky because a tad too much and it just looks like you have greasy hair again! I found that just a teaspoon for all of my waist-length, moderately thick, coarse hair is plenty. I work it into my hair, then brush thoroughly so that the oil is evenly distributed, then rinse very well in the shower with warm water. My hair suddenly has shine again and the frizz is cut way back. I'm 100% sure Argan oil would probably work better than coconut, but until I get some, I'm just using what's on hand.
My very small circle of ladies (and by that, I mean my one friend, Tina, and my mom) have been swapping around Fire Cider recipes lately and I think I struck gold with the Foodie with Family (recipe HERE). The first batch was a hit and with the changing season, everyone was teetering on the edge of unwell. My oldest had a persistent, wet, nasty cough that cleared up in a few days after taking 2 tbs of this recipe daily. The flavor is not as intense as some other recipes that are sort of a punch in the face, but I think it comes down to two very small details. The cider and the peppers. I used the cider with mother which seems to have a ... smoother? flavor. And the habaneros bring the heat but in a slow, rolling way that is pleasurable if not addictive. Of course, the citrus adds a freshness to the cider, too. My first batch was made when Meyer lemons were in season so the cider had a natural sweetness to it. I'm on my second and third batches of it already and using regular old lemons *insert sad face*.
See y'all in June - hopefully I won't be melted and I'll have some funny stories about Maela's first year at sleep-away camp!