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.  

Pink Rose Blushing

This Sunday I saw a rose so lovely one could get lost in it’s petals, contemplating beauty while the blossom blushes sweetly. It had the rich scent of a real rose, the kind you want to just drink in again and again…the kind that makes you think of romantic English gardens and quaint little thatched cottages.

Thinking back, it was a funny little gift to see it growing there, just outside the church, where moments before I had been talking with my friend Sherri, and joking that all the pretty women were wearing roses that day. She had a beautiful white dress covered in red roses, and I had a rose pattern white t-shirt. She told me she wanted to dress up extra today, on the feast of Pentecost, for the Holy Spirit, with whom she has such a love affair. “He just always takes such good care of me,” she smiled.

“Today is my 10 year anniversary of baptism,” I told her, “10 years since I joined the church.” For her it had been almost 16. I remembered rubbing my belly with childlike excitement in the days leading up to my baptism…God Himself was coming to dwell in my soul! We marvelled at how lucky we felt, knowing God’s love, His desire to be close to each and every person, to bring depth and meaning to our lives.

So who is this person Sherri and I are enamoured with, who inflames and guides our hearts? Isn’t going to church just for stodgy old ladies…people who recite pious prayers but aren’t really spiritual? As a convert, I haven’t found this old stereotype to hold water, nor have I found the supposed opposition between being religious and being spiritual.

For me, finding the faith helped me begin a very intimate and interior journey, one of growing closer to God while at the same time becoming more free to truly be myself…learning to trust the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit, the one who nudges me to grow, to give, to respond to His creative impulses, to be optimistic and ready to dream aloud. To trust in something bigger than myself. To be willing to take creative risks.

Growing in my spiritual life has been essential to my growth as a writer. I find there is such a direct link between prayer and creativity, because prayer helps me be aware of the beauty around me, and to be still enough to let it enter my heart. Then it’s just a matter of sharing what’s inside. I once compared writing poetry to sitting still enough for a butterfly to land on you, a matter of receiving an inspiration and sharing it, a little gift

So if I haven’t been blogging much at times, you can guess I’ve been letting myself get too busy, and you can write me a comment and say, “Anna, stop running around… sit still and pray more; we want some poetry! ”

When I don’t take time to pray, to be still, to talk to God about my life and especially to listen, my creative well runs dry. I run like a little hamster in a wheel, very busy but very superficial. It is exhausting and empty, and I think our souls need to love deeper…ha, that was a typo but still true: we need to live deeper and to love deeper. This is what helps us see the beauty in life, despite suffering; this is what helps us live for something bigger than ourselves, and in the process become more the people we are meant to be.

Maybe I’ll write more about this soon, but as we’re all busy people I’ll let you go for now. I hope you’ll find a little time to seek out that special stillness in which God whispers to our hearts and inspires us to help Him create a more wonderful world.

Beware the Silver Soup Pot and Other Nonsense

Because of recent reports of a serious shortage of ridiculous nonsense on my blog, and lest you think it’s all doom and gloom in Crazy Land, I thought I would remedy the situation by telling you about all the silly posts I’ve thought about writing lately, but haven’t yet.

I thought about telling you many silly things, like how my house looks like a band of roving toddlers frequently celebrates raves in it, or that Santa crashed into it, with his entire sleigh of presents, and then left (not “Nice!”). But then I though I’d better clean up the mess instead of drawing cartoons of it.

One of my cartoons was going to be of me homeschooling the kids in the midst of the chaos. My husband would walk in the door and look a little stunned. Then my speech bubble would say, “Clean? Who me? I’m just the tutor!”

But I tried to make the right choice (at least a few times.) Scrubbing floor vs blogging. Ugh. Dirty floor, here we come. Hmmm, sometimes it’s no fun to be responsible. But don’t worry, I won’t let it happen too often!

I also thought about telling you about the incident with the soup pot. Sounds very innocent, doesn’t it? A pretty shiny silver soup pot. But you’ll see. It’s awful.

We walked in the door from an outing to be hit by a terrible stench. “Oh, yuck, I should’ve taken out the garbage with diapers,” I thought. So I did. No better. Must be something in the sink. Did dishes. No better. What is it?!

Then I checked the silver soup pot which had been sitting, looking pretty, on my stove all week, or possible since the Stone Age, I couldn’t be sure. Aaack! Broccoli from outer space with mossy tentacles , growing rapidly and certainly soon to be developing artificial intelligence, nourished by the primordial sludge of aqueous goop it sat in.

THE WORST SMELL EVER!!!

And I’m a mom, so I’m an expert in stinkage. I even feel sorry for the other nasty compost I rapidly dumped it on. It could be used as a deterrent for robbers. Just leave an open pot in front of your door. If the stench doesn’t stop them, they’ll trip on the pot, slip in the goop, and meet a ghastly demise in your entranceway.

…I think I may have watched “Home Alone” a few times too many as a kid. Possibly only beaten by “Ernest Goes to Camp” and “The Princess Bride.” All of which explains my highly refined sense of humour (i.e. the stupider, the better)…

So beware the covered silver pots sitting on your stoves. You never know what might be lurking within their deceptively shiny walls. And while we’re on the topic of animate kitchen utensils, you’d better watch this fabulous musical kitchen jam by the Muppets’ very own Swedish chef. Crank it up, and don’t forget to dance! 😉 It’s a very effective cure for moodiness known as “Muppet-Therapy.” But more about that another time…

The Muppets: Pöpcørn – YouTube

5 Reasons Why Stay-At-Home Parenting = Writing Success

Here is one more awesome post from Kate from Australia, whose blog I love. Her “Fail” posts are ridiculously funny. I wish she could come over for tea. We could sort socks together (ha!). She’s a fellow crazy mom blogger, and here’s her promised post on why writing at home works so well. Enjoy!

Laptop on the Ironing Board

I used to think I would have to wait for my children to grow up a bit before thinking about becoming a writer, but now I realize I’m exactly where I need to be. Here’s why:

1. You will be desperate for a creative outlet

odd socks

There are only so many lullabies you can sing and pretend cappuccinos you can sip before you start craving a use for your brain.  Harness this hunger and write!

2.  It’s the ideal set-up

"The Frenzy": a cartoon depicting chaos surrounding an oblivious Kate who is writing furiously. Annie empties cornflakes onto the table, Harry is watering the television and the other two have kindled a small fire on the table and are roasting marshmallows

If you were trying to write on weekends whilst working full-time, you might struggle to get yourself into the right frame of mind.  If you took time off work to focus on your writing, you would have to face the unbearable pressure of producing something good and printable to validate your choice.  When you’re a stay-at-home-parent, you have the luxury of writing for fun.  If you ever get to the point…

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The Mystery of Losing a Little One

Today I want to share with you an article I recently wrote about losing my little Josephine during labour. I’ve had a hard time doing much narrative about this event, and have mostly blogged poetry since it occurred, as it felt like a safer way to express myself somehow.

But I really felt called to share my experience and to reach out to other bereaved parents, so I was very pleased when the paper accepted my article. I’m posting the link to it in honour of a dear friend who lost her baby son three years ago today. Perhaps you can all send a little extra prayer her way. The pain of losing a little one comes and goes in waves, and I imagine it might be stronger again today. Honouring this in some way is part of healing.

The Mystery of Losing a Little One

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So to all bereaved parents, I send you my deepest condolences, and stand with you in your pain. May you know that your children are still an amazing gift, and that you have been for them not so much a place of death, as a gate to Heaven.

May our little stars shine forth with their pure, sweet light and ever guide us home.