Beautiful Mess!

A baby is the best decoration for any room…and makes even a pile of clean laundry into a throne from which to beam at the world!

I’ve been in bed with a sore throat reading Jennifer Fulwiler’s hilarious, inspirational book “One Beautiful Dream: The rollicking tale of family chaos, personal passions, and saying yes to them both.” It’s amazing…I can so relate the struggle and beauty of a writer mom with a large young family trying to be present to her kids while digging deep to pursue her “blue flame”…her passion for writing. I love how she’s integrates them both with such honesty and humour…and leads you along her journey of discovering that perhaps a loud house full of little people is a place of inspiration and growth, rather than just distraction from her craft. If you ever wonder if only your house with kids is a little crazy…I highly recommend it!! I laughed and cried and shouted…you might, too! 😉

Anyway, she inspired me to share this moment from our own beautiful chaos…

Evening Glory

Tonight I had a mom’s night out with other mom bloggers in a beautiful venue. We all dressed up and chatted and had fun. Besides the sweet baby whom I brought along to charm everyone, the kids stayed home and had banana splits and played games and did crafts with their babysitter and had a great time instead of just watching a “boring movie.” Then they even went to bed for her nicely! Glorious!

It felt like a double miracle: one, that we busy moms made time to get out and be together (looking quite fabulous with not one pair of pjs or yoga pants in sight) and two, that many of us are writers…that we find that time to nourish our creative spirits and connect with other people…to reach out and share our stories and do good by supporting each other.

Of course the number of children people have came up in small talk, and I’m happy to report that while queries of my family size (8 kids) did cause several near heart attacks, there were no fatalities! 😉

Rock on moms, it’s an amazing full time job to give someone else life, whether it’s one kid or ten…may you be showered with blessings for all the generous, sweet things you do to serve your family and by extension your community each day!

The Persistant Insomniac

Late at night

her eyes are wide open

as two full moons

beaming out in the dark.

Inside fires burn

flames flicker and refuse

the stillness of sleep.

 

She gets up

grabs her book

a sweater

a snack

and keeps a late night kitchen vigil

with insomnia…

–this date with quiet–

delicious silent solitude.

 

She feeds her soul

with bread and words,

then rubs her fingers together,

lights the surrounding gloom with sparks

and writes fire!

Summer in Crazy Land


How I have missed blogging much this summer! I’m bursting with ideas but haven’t found enough quiet moments between camping, swimming, visiting friends, researching new homeschool programs for the fall and editing my new poetry book, unexpected blossoming: a journey of grief and hope. This has been a really good process, and quite time-consuming…going over each poem with a fine toothed comb and, on the advice of my big sister (beautiful poet and editor Dymphny Dronyk), making sure that each word, each line break, each bit of punctuation or lack thereof is intentional. The poems were written more as passionate cries from the heart, but it’s been good to read them slowly and try to make sure they express my feelings in the clearest way. 

I’m excited to say that that process is just about finalized and I’m going to place my first bulk order in a day or two. I have been telling lots of people about my book and already have about 125 pre-orders, which means that another 125 will also be ordered and donated to bereaved moms, hospitals, midwife or doctor’s offices, or any other place where families suffering from miscarriage, stillbirth or infant loss could benefit from my poems. I’m also getting my Blurb bookshop set up for online orders, and hope that women around the world will be able to benefit from knowing they are not alone in their grief after losing a baby. 


On top of all this, my little Mr. Baby has combined late night teething and his newfound mobility to keep me on my toes night and day, and my trusted iPad mini conked out for a few weeks—leaving me a strange internet-less vacuum. Happily my sweet techie husband managed to restore it to life by cleaning up the excessive digital load it was storing…kind of like the Internet version of a home rescue. I had 1100 emails (combining inbox, sent, drafts, trash etc) and 1300 photos!! My iPad mini just couldn’t handle this kind of clutter—poor little beast! After loading the pics onto our Mac instead and deleting the insane amount of emails (gah, remind me to stop signing up for things online!), my iPad is purring away again, much to my relief. As my friend Julia put it when I told her it was out of commission: “What!? That’s your life!” 

Does make you wonder though…why this need to keep everything? To read everything? To document everything? To be present everywhere (omnipresent) and to know everything (omniscient)…doesn’t that sound like Someone else’s job? Reflecting on this makes me want to strive for more simplicity. To be fully present where I am, right now, and not feel the need to hang on to old things from the past. I’m just one tiny part of this vast creation, and all I need to do is play my little part with all my heart. The rest will be taken care of by Someone much wiser than me, who doesn’t get overwhelmed by trying to fit so much into one little head!


So I hope you’ll be hearing from me more often as we settle into school this fall…wrapping ourselves in cosy scarves and sweaters and sipping cinnamon dolce latté’s as we watch the scarlet leaves tumbling against steely grey skies…oh, dear, sorry…slipping off into fantasy land! I meant as I juggle 4 homeschoolers and the baby chews my face while my toddler climbs the furniture…

Anyway,  here are a few posts I hope to write soon: 

  1. How to support a bereaved spouse
  2. Baby Burpin’Blues (a bluegrass poem)
  3. Scene Players: making hours of fun games out of stickers and junk mail 
  4. Things you don’t need to bring when camping with kids
  5. Teamwork, happiness and household chores 
  6. Online educational programs I’m excited about this fall

Any votes for which one to write first? Let me know! A huge hug to you all from us here in Crazy Land, and best wishes for a beautiful year of learning ahead!

    Alluring Emptiness

    The alluring emptiness of a white page 

    free from clutter and electronic distraction,

    the peacefulness of a smooth sheet

    waiting for my words to gently rest on it…

    Oh, how it calls me

    in the midst of noise and business!

    There, in the silent gaze of the white page,

    my soul is free to unfurl its wings

    and write with feathered quills

    the thoughts that have distilled inside it. 

    Oh blessed quiet 

    in which to hear the silent whispers of my heart,

    to set free the poems

    that have been clinging to my fingertips

    like small birds awaiting flight.

    When you’re a busy mom of seven,

    a quiet moment at the bus-stop 

    with no wifi 

    and only the baby 

    becomes rather more entrancing than it used to be…

    Hey, I’ll take what I can get! 

      

    Monique Les, “The Hard of Hearing Mommy” creates a community of understanding through writing.

      

    Here is an interview with fellow Love Rebel: Reclaiming Motherhood author Monique Les. Monique shares with joyful candour her journey of becoming a mom, and overcoming her insecurities about parenting as a person with hearing loss. I am so happy to share this with you today, and to have had the chance to get to know her better.

    Please tell us a bit about yourself…

    I’ll start by saying that I am the type of person that values spending time with people, learning new things, new ideas, and drawing inspiration from the simple things in life. My parents -immigrants from Hong Kong, brought me up to be Catholic, but it wasn’t until my University years when I became involved with Catholic Christian Outreach (CCO) that I really started to fall in love with the Catholic Faith. Since then, I’ve never looked back

    In addition, I have a profound hearing loss and affectionately call myself a HoH (Hard of Hearing)! Combined with a good sense of humour, a passion for travel and a positive attitude, I can say that I truly have an awesome life.

    Why do you love to write? How does it help you be more yourself?

    Shortly after becoming a mom, I felt trapped in the four walls of my house. It was a particularly alienating experience for me, given that I like to socialize quite a bit! Prior to becoming a mom, I worked on high level research and writing projects, and when that phase of my life was over, boredom set in. With that boredom, came a sense of loss of personhood (in my case anyway!). Writing has become a cathartic exercise for me to channel all the frustrations, joys, challenges and whatever comes to mind. I chose to share all these stories with the public because there is always someone who might be going through the same experiences – whether it’s being a mom, hard of hearing, or both. In truth, my goal was to create a community of understanding, support and a diary of sorts for my daughter (and future children) to read when she’s older.

     What made you want to be part of this project? Why do you think it’s important? 

    I’ll be honest with you, being the last person to be invited to this project – I felt overwhelmed! Initially, I took it as another awesome opportunity to get into writing again, as my blog started only a few months prior. During my time in developing articles and reading the other articles, I realized that motherhood itself is a community that needs to be nurtured, supported, and encouraged. In all the jobs that I’ve held, motherhood has to be the most challenging one – and to be a part of a book that goes against conventional society’s idea of motherhood fit with my Catholic values. So… in a nutshell, moms rock this world and this book affirms it!

      
     What benefits do you think people will gain from this book? Could it be used in a mom’s discussion group or book club?

    I can’t speak for other people, but I have gained so much from this book already! As a first-time mom, I felt a sense of camaraderie from other moms – even though I’m only reading their stories. That kinship gave me the assurance that I was doing everything “right”, and that my heart was in the right place where frustrations are concerned. To be honest, I feel my pieces are mediocre compared to the other stories provided! Being a hard of hearing mom meant that I had to overlook some of my personal shortcomings (i.e. feeling guilty for not being able to hear my baby), and that could be a good topic for moms or book clubs to discuss how their shortcomings aren’t actually shortcomings at all. They’re just little puddles to muck through. To date, I’ve learned that focusing on my faith and positivity makes me a stronger mom.

     Why is friendship with other moms so important? Is there a friend who has made a big difference in your journey as a mom?

    In the beginning, when my daughter was first born I went through periods of mummy tummy. I didn’t know if I was doing anything right or wrong, or both! Having friendships with other moms helps to reassure me that I’m not about to ‘mess’ up my child. In fact, they’ve told me that as long as my daughter is happy, then I’m doing something right. Simple, and yet much needed advice to hear in the early days! My mom is the one friend who has made a difference in my journey. She’s supported me through the thick and thin, the times when I was absolutely sleep deprived, or when I didn’t know what to do. I no longer think of my mom as just “mom”, but someone that I can go to for counsel. She was there when I had my meltdowns, the moments when I had sheer awe that I had a baby, and even the mundane times.

     Tell is a bit about your pieces in the book…what is your main message, or best piece of advice for moms?

    Never give up hope. My message is that obstacles can be overcome, no matter how insignificant they may seem to others (or to yourself) or how big they are. I had to get over the obstacle of insecurity. Having a hearing loss tends to test my self esteem often, and that was a hurdle I had to get over in order to be the best mom for my daughter. The best piece of advice I can give at this point is to have a great sense of humour! Poop happens, and if we take it seriously all the time, then life becomes less fulfilling.

     Who was your favourite author growing up? Was there someone in literature who modelled for you how to be a woman or mother?

    That’s a loaded question ha! Wow. I seriously don’t know where to start. The most obvious answer would be Our Lady and my mom! I would also say that Kimberly Hahn is a great example. I’m currently reading her book, Graced and Gifted: Biblical Wisdom for the Homemaker’s Heart; she has helped me embrace the extraordinary within the ordinary confines of daily life. I no longer see my chores as ‘chores’, but rather a gift of self-service through God’s calling. This is all very recent, mind you!

     Can you tell us a little about your blog?

    Oh, it has a bit of everything! From parenting, to humorous stories about what it’s like to be a hard of hearing mommy, to my plain frustrations laid out for the rest of the world to read. I do focus on the hard of hearing things, because that’s the stuff that makes the blog unique. There are moments when I wonder if parents with hard of hearing children wonder if their children will ever grow up to have families of their own, or if hard of hearing people wonder what it’s like to be a parent. It covers hearing loss from a social perspective. Our world is so social, and hearing loss really cuts off that experience. My husband knows this all too well, and our daughter is (thankfully) not going to have to experience that same isolation. I get emails from friends of friends who have recently found out that their children have been diagnosed with a hearing loss, and it’s a devastating time for them. Through faith and support, the blog gives them some encouragement that it’s not the end of the world!

      

    A big thank you to Monique for sharing her experience with us all!  Visit Monique and read more of her humorous and encouraging posts at:

    The Hard of Hearing Mommy

    Exactly As You Are: Loving Your Spouse Unconditionally 

    Yesterday I wrote a guest post for my friend Bonnie Way on her blog The Koala Mom called “Exactly as you are: Loving your spouse unconditionally.”

    Here is her intro and the link in case you’d like to check it out!

    Today, contributing writer Anna Eastland is sharing what she learned in a late-night chat with her husband about loving your spouse unconditionally.

    No matter how well you know your spouse, every now and then you learn something new, like a new skylight opened and illumined a corner of their soul you hadn’t seen before. You have one of those unexpected midnight conversations where you are allowed to enter an unexplored recess of their heart. How do you respond to this intimate revelation? With love.

    Loving Your Spouse Unconditionally
      

    Why motherhood, insomnia and writing are perfect bedfellows

    1. As a mom you have tons of inspiration and new material every day: kids are so creative and unafraid to be original. Only a five year old making spanakopita with her mom would imagine that leaving the thicker stems on the fresh dill in the recipe might lead to jail time. 

    If we leave the hard bits the people at the potluck will say “Ugh! Gross!” And then they might put you in jail. But I’d be sad cause I like you. But then we’d say it was an accident and we tried to take them off, and then they’d let you out again.

    Whew! Who knew making spinach pie was so dangerous!

    2. You might think moms get no “me time” to do quiet things like writing, but that problem is easily solved by insomnia. It’s very quiet at 1:30 am. Perfect for writing! After all, you can’t wash dishes or do laundry at this hour, so you may as well do something creative! 

    3. If you don’t have insomnia, don’t worry: third trimester pregnancy will solve that for you! Between heartburn, baby kicks, and Braxton Hicks contractions you’ll be all set!

    So you see, motherhood, insomnia and writing are perfect bedfellows! Just forget about the sleeping part…and rejoice in being a mom blogger!  

    Why Posting an Imperfect Post is an Act of Freedom

    Lately my husband and I have been on a theology kick and read to each other before bed…until we get totally confused, inspired or one of us ends up drooling on the pillow (usually me!)…It’s been really interesting, and definitely gives us something new to talk about beyond how’s work and what did the kids do at school today.

    Tonight we were reading about freedom, and it made me ponder what it really means to make a free choice, and how it relates to the stifling danger of perfectionism in writing…as perfectionism leads to the inability to make definitive choices and complete things. (Yes, being writing-obsessed, I manage to relate pretty much everything back to blogging…just ask my husband).

    Anyway, the author described the misconception of freedom as the ability to make an endless succession of choices, without any of them ever being permanent and definitive. The idea that having options equals freedom, and the more options, the more free you are. “But why not?” you might ask…”Doesn’t that sound good?” The thing is to apply this idea and see where it leads. Here are some examples of how it changes, sometimes subconsciously, how we make decisions:

    “I’m not going to choose what to study, because that way I can choose to study anything at all. I’m keeping my career options open.” Yes, and your empty wallet…Being open to the possibility of all jobs but having no job = unemployment, not freedom.

    “I’m not going to choose someone to marry, because that way I can marry anyone at all…I’ll be so free.” Or so lonely and jaded, because it takes one real heart to love you and keep you warm at night, not several billion theoretical ones.

    “I’m not going to post anything on my blog (ah, finally, blogging!) until I have something perfect. As long as it’s in my draft box, I have the freedom to keep changing it. It won’t be permanent.” Ah, yes, that horrific word….permanent! We are so afraid of it. It implies commitment, confidence, strength, endurance…yikes!

    But tell me, is having a draft box full of unexplored possibilities really freedom?  Nothing wrong with drafts, but to really mean something and come alive they need to be released, imperfections and all, into the world. You need to say as a writer (or painter, photographer, chef, etc), “This isn’t perfect and I’m ok with that. It’s not perfect but it’s mine and I stand by it. This is me.”

    That one irrevocable act of posting your little poem, photo, story or ponderings is a greater expression of true freedom and honesty than that of hoarding your drafts like treasures, choosing to hide them away lest they not shine as brightly in the light of day as you’d like. I think it was Julia Cameron who said that you need to be willing to be a crappy artist in order to become a great one. So be yourself, stand by your work, make a permanent choice to share your work and in that way really own it. Post that thing you’ve been hiding away so jealousy. Chances are what’s closest to your heart will resound in the hearts of others as well.