2017. reflection and redefining

I just put the girls in bed, poured a glass of red, turned on the weepies and let my heart ruminate... 

Tonight we watched Moana and Octave noticed how they make everything from nature, and she asked me if people still live this way. I told her yes, in some parts of the world they do, and she told me that is how she wishes she could live. Even if it meant she couldn't bring her things with her, she still would want to. The timing was rather ironic because I've done little more than quarrel over the way we live. I often feel like I am fighting an internal battle that most people around me have not ever thought twice about. Our culture often feels foreign to me, in every way. From school, to parenting, to how we live in boxes and transport ourselves in boxes to get to more boxes. This is only the beginning. It doesn't feel real. This is why I was so excited to try living without a car, and why almost six years later, I still think showing up places soggy is worth it. Comfort and convenience can't buy satisfaction and meaning, and I want both. For months my head and heart have been on to something, I just haven't felt the pressing desire to put it to paper. But it's almost the new year and this is without a doubt my favorite holiday or time or year and despite still not feeling like I've sorted my thoughts out well enough to share, it feels like maybe if I don't, I never will. 

While the world has felt like it is falling apart, for my family and I 2017 was probably the best year to date. I refuse to feel guilty about that because I've learned that my heart is capable of feeling more than one emotion deeply. In fact it's perfected the art of holding two opposing feelings or realities and sitting with them deeply. It's because of this, I don't feel the need to dwell or share all the ache that weaved in and around all of our lives. The news has done it's job. But for the four of us, it was monumental. We left survival mode and started to find who we are as a family of four. We started to thrive. Hubs and I fell in like and love with each other all over again. How two people can go through such deep and profound changes and still be compatitable is mind boggling, but it is us, and I am beyond grateful. I've started to see that our love for each other is inconsequential to the space we leave, or make for each other. Or maybe, this is love. The space to grow and evolve, even if we don't resonate or understand, although luckily for us, usually we do. This might just be our recipe for success, along with the realization that we are each our own person. We belong to ourselves first, and before anything we have to be someone that we can love and live with. Only then can we leave space for another and not make our own shit about the other. I know a lot of couples who love each other deeply, but I have yet to meet two humans who can share as openly about thoughts and ideas that would makes others run for the hills. I say this not to brag, but because I want it documented somewhere. Not for me, but my daughters. I want them to know that we have this. We can turn the world upside down, and still find truth. We can still find each other. 

And these two incredible humans that we made, they have filled us with so much joy this year. After years of practically mothering alone and in the trenches I arrived at this time and space where motherhood finally felt and looked the way I used to dream about. I started to become the mother I wanted to be. I not only love my daughters but I like them, and I can admit without pride or guilt that yes, I am a good mama. I also started to become comfortable with the fact that Christopher and I are not always going to parent the same way, and this is ok. In fact it might even be a gift. We don't have to agree on everything and we don't need to convince our girls that we do either. They can learn nuance from an early age, and we ourselves can model respect for someone who has a different opinion, in our very own home. The belief system that both parents have to be a team, no matter what, has some unrealistic and unhealthy flaws. We can invite them into this. The problem is not two people disagreeing, the problem is lack of respect, and two people undermining each other. The problem is one person having to be right. But in our home there is no right, there is only, another way, a different perspective. 

This year I started to dance and perform again. I started to pursue photography. I tried to write more consistently. I read books.  A lot of books (for a mama.) I started to say no to things that don't bring me life. I learned to say no so I could say yes, or even better, just be. I attempted to grow out my arm pit hair because I have no idea if I like it or I shave it because I was taught that is what you do. I only made it 4 weeks in before the itchiness got the best of me. It turns out I like shaved arm pits. Check. Now I know. This year I found my voice in a brand new way. I still can't quite articulate this, but I know it and feel it, and suppose this is the most important. 

This year brought me back home. But in the last month there has been a dull buzzing that hums  beneath my chest. There is an acknowledgment that I've done good work, but there is this silent alarm asking more of me. No one can hear it but it keeps me up at night. It kind of pisses me off.  I was hoping to ride this scenic view a little while longer. But it's ok because I have always been the one to see the silver lining, and I'm not afraid of hard work. I just keep getting this sense that after a year of sitting pretty, it's now the time and place to dive deep and create the life we always dreamed of. This sounds glamorous... the life we always dreamed of. But for me, and maybe we all feel this way, but it usually means paving a brand new way, one that others will detest and misunderstand. I don't want the American dream. I want what Octave wants. I want a world made with nature. I want real things. I want meaning. I want a world without my cell phone. And yet I am a city girl and I come alive here. I don't think they are mutually exclusive. While I often dream or joke or running away to the jungle with my babies, I don't actually want that. Well, maybe for a month or two, but I love our life. I love the city. I just don't love what my cell phone has become. In fact this is a source of anxiety for me. It's made it nearly impossible to take in the world around me, process and then create. I must make and create. But if there is no empty space to take in the world how can I ever create? Sure, there is self control and there are limits I could make for myself and I do. The struggle is that I want to be a present mama. I don't want my kids to see me mindlessly on my phone. So, I don't check my phone throughout the day(mostly.) Or when I am away from them doing something inspiring I feel the need to take care of the unanswered messages on my phone so when I am with them I can truly be with them. But when am I just with myself? So I save this time for after they are in bed, or nap time, but then this looks like me giving a half assed attempt to clean up our home (sigh) before I finally sit down and look at my phone. I respond to my messages (or if you know me well enough) maybe I don't. I respond to email, try to organize our calendar and then check my Instagram. Thank God I just have instagram. BUT STILL...This can take up to an hour. And then there is the rabbit hole of inspiration/confusion I often find myself in. By this time I don't feel ready to create. I feel ready for bed. I find myself in this conundrum and I know I am not alone, I just don't know what I am supposed to do about it. It feels pressing, like never before, like I MUST make a change. And yet I don't want to always be that person who has to go against the grain. Living without a car already makes us different. Living without a cellphone? Just call us Amish. I don't mind the label, I just want to make sure whatever I choose is life-giving and just like with the car, we had no idea what it would actually look like. Will living without a cell phone create more peace or more chaos? Will I miss social media? Yeah, I think I would, because despite it's flaws it is equally redemptive. But I will I miss it more than the feelings of unrest and inability to be in my own life? That I don't know. I'm even annoyed that I am writing these words. It feels so insignificant and meaningless, so empty and almost embarrassing, and yet it is relevant. 

As I am wrapping up or maybe just beginning (?) Octave runs into my bed because she is tired of being in her room. The weepies are still playing and she is settling into the sounds and giving into slumber. I am reminded of the first time I met her. When I held her in my arms and was scared shitless that maybe she knew something I didn't. Typically the roles are reversed, but why? I've always looked at her like that, with fervent curiosity, ready to learn, like maybe I had so little to teach her, but she had everything to teach me. And tonight was no exception. It was rather simple. Moana was the catalyst for something stirring beneath our bones. Her and I, we love who we are and what we have, and yet we yearn for more, or maybe just something different. Also, 2017, you have my heart. Forever.