It’s time for us to leave that safe nest in which we’ve healed, and facing that reality is causing fears and darkness to percolate from the dust of the temporary calm. Terrible, stultifying fears— things that terrify and leave my heart raw and vulnerable. I tell myself I’m brave, and that’s usually true; even when it’s not, I pick myself up anyway. But these… these are different.

These are the fears that run through my brain like black horses on a moonless night, leaving reflective crescents of blood in their wake. These fears I don’t speak of, even in hushed whispers, for fear of waking their restless sleep, causing ears to perk in the inky night from a called name. They snort and huff to life, pawing the soft ground, muscles tensing, ready to run. pleasegodno

Ignoring such power does nothing. Ignoring such ferocious need only forces it into distorted and warped curves, starved for light and acknowledgment. Crumbed in the corner watching them stir to life and stretch, I am never so powerless. When I fight them, try and slam the doors shut on their lithe, dark muscles and the electricity pulsing through them…I fail. The trick is treading tenderly, carefully, and with love; it’s counterintuitive but it’s the only truth. There is power in the darkness of fear; harnessing it, taming it, loving it for what it is is the great alchemy.

Counting and naming fears shine a ray of light into the darkness. If I can name something, see it, even if only peripherally like the Pleiades before dawn, it becomes both more and less at once. A fear named loses some of its terrifying power, and begins the transformation into an integrated, acknowledged and loved part of your soul. Without exception, my fears are a stable of things of which I lack understanding.

Mine have names that have frightened humanity since we clicked the garden gate closed behind us. By far the largest, deepest prints in the stable belong to the finely shod hooves of Trust. Trust is followed closely by Doubt, and the two of them can make short work of my heart and mind, leaving me with webs of tears drying on my cheeks and struggling to remember how to breathe. It’s not that I don’t have good reason to feel that way- I surely do- it’s that I forget why they are there.

I have the keys to the stable. Trust and Doubt earned their place, but I forget I need not saddle-up and tear across the soft fields of my new life each time one of them wants to be let out. I am the rider— I hold the reins, even when I’m terrified— if I manage to remember, over the thick, distorting pound of my heart when I hear the restless pawing, perhaps can finally free us. Trust and Doubt, allowed to serve, not cripple, letting the tension and power exchange damning pain with inherent strength.

Perhpas… pleasegodplease… let me trust and not doubt.

The Paper

So this paper I’ve been killing myself to write… I should clarify a little bit, so it will make sense why I am so utterly tapped out.  The last two days I haven’t even mustered the energy to do more than pretty much wallow. Sunday morning I got up to get ready for church, got the kids up, and sat down for what I thought was a moment, and four hours later I opened my eyes again. That’s how tired I was. Wrung. Out.

So I signed up for this program when I decided to go back to school. When I heard about it, I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why more people didn’t sign up to do it. Now I get it. It’s hard. But this program is also why I have finished a four-year degree in two and a half years. (Well, this, plus overloading myself to the point of insanity each term.) Here’s the deal…

In this program, I basically have to write a book. The task is to document your lifelong learning trajectory, with a critical eye towards university level skills, and document the whole arc of your life. There must be two volumes. The first volume contains your Curriculum Vitae, your resume, your VITA, your graduate plans, your mission and goal statement, your academic transcripts, your graduate school applications, and then 80-100 written pages (my 43 become 80 when ds and formatted) detailing your career and life experience.  The second volume contains all supporting documents for the first volume. Both volumes must be perfect bound, two copies of each, and submitted to the committee for your department. In my case, that’s communications.

You then go before a review board, and you defend you work. If you defend well, you are given 40 full credits. Basically, an entire year of school in one massive paper.

And this is what I’ve been doing. While also trying to take my last math class and three other classes. And prepare for a cross country move, find a place to live, find a job, organize a move, deal with a flooded garage (oh, and they found asbestos in the roof- the hazmat guys were all over the place yesterday) and the loss of personal property. Somewhere in there are three kids, too. And Abby’s birthday is tomorrow.

I don’t tell you all that to whine. It’s done. My advisor accepted my draft and told me to proceed with the binding and submission. I should defend sometime in May. And the rest of it will get done. It always does, one way or another.

The boys helped me decorate for Abby’s birthday, and  I have a lab and a class tomorrow before I have to run to her school with cupcakes (they will be store bought, I’m not insane) and put on my mom hat. I can do this. I just may collapse every now and then. And sleep for four hours when I should be at church. I’m pretty confident God understands, though.

Edit: p.s. There are some of you who have sent me very nice cards, letters and even some lovely small gifts. I am lagging tremendously in getting out my thank-yous, but I don’t want you to think I’ve forgotten. I’m just overwhelmed. I fall on my sword and beg your patience. I am grateful. And I promise to acknowledge that soon.

Capstone: Fin

13, 822 words, forty-three pages, and my capstone is done. I submitted my draft to my advisor and if he approves it, I get to assemble, and send to the bindery. Finished. Done. Voila. Fin.

The relief isn’t palpable yet, but it’s close enough that I can taste it. And, if I do say so myself, it’s a damn decent piece of writing. It also makes me think… hmmm… maybe I could write a book.

Stay tuned, the adventure continues…

Random Crap: Ray of Sunshine

I’m writing my capstone right now, and can barely muster the strength to string together two extra coherent thoughts. I have three other classes besides that one, though, and a midterm today. One again, dig deep and just do it. Yep…

The following conversation took place tonight post-bath. I was handing Jeffrey a pair of clean boxer shorts and said “Here’re your clean drawers.” He look at me and said “Why do you call them ‘drawers’, Mom?”, I thought for  second and told him my grandma had always said that, but I didn’t know why. He was shrugging them on and said “Maybe it’s because that’s where we keep our junk.” Not even kidding.

Hey, it’s the middle of April and my garage is still flooded and it’s pouring. I’m not going to miss this about Washington state one single bit. 43 degrees. Yep.

I think there is a plan coming together for my move in June. I don’t want to temp the fates and say that too loud, but it’s looking like this may actually work. Why it takes every ounce of energy and stress hormone in my body, I still don’t know, but there it is.

Abby turns six on Wednesday. Can you believe it? Anyone remember when she was born besides me? She’s lost two teeth and has another one wiggly and loose. She starts first grade in the fall. Good heavens, how’d that happen?

You think maybe there’s something to the whole vitamin D and sunlight thing effecting brain chemistry? All of you all sitting in Texas or Florida or California reading this are probably wondering wtf is up with my sucky attitude. I’ll tell you! It’s been winter here since October! And it’s practically the end of April! I’m so sick of flannel and boots. Get me out of here!

I need a job! At least part time, I need to work to pay my rent in Virginia. Anyone with any brilliant ideas or friends looking for employees, give a holler. I’ll have a communications degree in a few weeks, and I can write my way out of a paper bag. I’m kind of creative too. Sometimes.

You would not believe the yard sale I’m going to have. Old typewriters, sewing machines, furniture, possibly the piano, ten years of fabric accumulation, kids clothes and shoes are going to massively purged, kitchen crap, toys… I think I’m even going to sell Fakey Fakerson. Turning over some new needles. Or something.

I was going to get rid of all our baby toys, but shhh…. I went to do it, and instead I ended up tenderly packing a box of my very favorite toys from my kids’ babyhood. I have no idea what I’m going to do with them, but what’s one small box? Don’t tell anyone.

The other day I sat down with my ex-husband and talked about the move, and the kids, and changes coming at me and the kids- most of them welcome and exciting. It was a hard talk- or at least I had been anticipating it being hard. Instead, I was reminded of the graceful human he can be, and the man he was before addiction destroyed our lives.  As hard as it is to remember sometimes, this hurt everyone, not just me and the kids. Stay away from teh drugs, kiddos.

Mo is coming over to see me (and steal some furniture) in a couple weeks. She wants my green desk chair. Should I give it to her? A great deal of this blog was written from that apple-green chair…

I’m already worrying about what the humidity in Virginia is going to do to my hair. Heather O. says to just give it up now. I’m so afraid.

Some happy things: Uniform-sized boxes. Highlights done at home. Draw Something. Bean eating Cheerios. Abby writing short stories. Jeffrey making himself a necklace. WD40. Clinique Happy. Melatonin. Clean laundry. Tape guns and Sharpies. Yard sales. Downsizing. Rosebud Mint lipbalm. L’Occitane hand cream. Wooden baby rattle. My iPod.  Cell phones. Believing in love.

Clearly I was wrong about not being able to write anything else… now if it’s coherent or not is another discussion entirely.

I can’t really remember what the sun looks like, but I know it’s out there somewhere, and I have faith that I’ll feel its warmth again.

Bowing Out of the Debate

I tried to write a post on motherhood and how all this spin in the news makes me feel, but I just felt myself winding up and getting angry. I seldom write well when I’m angry, and scrapped the eight paragraph rant. You’re welcome.

I’ll sum it up as briefly as I can: I’ve been on both sides of this mess. I’ve been the SAHM mom with the husband and the nice house in the suburbs. I’ve also now been the single mom raising three kids alone and going to school full time with no visible means of support. Trust me when I say, no matter how hard raising kids is— and it is, no matter who you are— One of these ways is much, much, much easier.

Resume the mudslinging and name calling now. I’m out.

Anyone Along the Way…?

So it looks like this is the most likely route… Holy crap that’s a long way to drive!! Anyone with any tips or travel pointers, feel free to weigh in. I’m starting to get very excited, even though I’m overwhelmed too. Perhaps it’s because I got nearly fourteen pages written this weekend on my capstone- over half done, folks! Hooray! I have two more weeks to fine tune and write the rest, and I feel pretty confident that it’s going well. But that’s also why I haven’t been writing here. My fingers hurt.

Anyone else driven across the country before? I rode on a motorcycle from San Francisco to Sturgis one summer long ago when I was young and stupid, but I’ve never driven east of Iowa. I really think this is going to be a grand adventure. This girl is going east!

From the Mouth of Bean

One never knows what will come next from the mouth of Bean. From the last few days alone, here’s a sampling:

“MOM! Meteorologists call big clumps of air “masses” or “fronts” and today the warm front is winning. I’m going to go outside until the cold front moves in when the sun sets!”

“MOM! Its nice the people at Target leave crawling holes in the stacks of paper towels. They must have autistic kids who like to hide, too!”

“MOM! Did you know the sun rises in the east EVERY SINGLE DAY!!?”

“MOM! Abby actually thinks there is a fairy who comes and takes her teeth.Can you believe that?  I told her that was illogical and she’s dumb.”

“MOM! Sometimes I like to use my imagination, but Abby doesn’t do it right.”

“MOM! Look! I made a bracelet out of explosive caps from my cap-gun. I’m wearing it to church in in case I hate the songs in Primary.”

“MOM! I think I’ll eat toast now instead of English muffins. See, I do like new food!”

“MOM! I need a new hammock so I can watch the sunset properly.”

“MOM! Did you know that cuttlefish are by far the smartest invertebrates? Octopus like to think they are, but they’re wrong. It’s cuttlefish.”

“MOM! When we move to Virginia, I’m going to ride the metro to the Air and Space museum all by myself. I googled the map already.”

“MOM! My swim teacher won’t let me do a belly flop into the pool, but it’s the only way I can get my body to do what I want it to do. I just can’t swim unless I do a belly flop.”

Sometimes I feel like Calvin’s mom. 

Week One Down

Checking in from my life of leisure. It appears I made it through the first week- but I’m still shell-shocked. Eleven weeks to go. I got absolutely ZERO pages written on my capstone- which means I now have to produce 3-4 pages a day for the rest of the month. Easy, right?! Two of my classes should be relatively simple, two of them are killers. I guess I should be grateful. Had my first algebra tutoring session yesterday- two hours of brain-bending madness, but I can do it. I forgot it’s Easter until late last night, then fell asleep instead of running to Voldemart like I intended. I think there’s an Easter egg hunt today, and my math tutor is coming over again. Tomorrow is church, and Monday it all starts again. BUT THE KIDS ARE BACK IN SCHOOL!!! Oh, and I woke up to yellow sunlight for the first time in weeks and weeks and weeks. This part of Washington? Not gonna miss it. Bite me, incessant dreary rain!

Sending Up the Bat-Signal

Last night, in the middle of the wee small hours, when the demons like to crawl out from under the bed and from the corners of my mind, it dawned on me that I only have eleven and a half weeks before it’s time to move. I knew this logically, but it emotionally settled like a weight over me at 3 am when I was powerless to do a damn thing. Of course.

That’s just shy of three months to finish school— seventeen units this quarter— pack up a house, plan the logistics of such a move, figure out what to do with the kids, have a moving sale, find a place to live in the DC area, find a job and oh yeah, graduate. Middle of the night panic attacks are so much fun…

So many of you have asked what you can do, and I think its time I have to ask for some help. I need some leads on jobs, and on somewhere to live. My program at GW is at night, and I will have to work at least part time to keep us afloat. I’ve been twelve years out of the professional field, but I have a ton of skills and any company would be lucky to get me- I just need a crack int he door to pursue. Design, technical writing, purchasing, creative work, illustration, and management are all hats I’ve worn. Before I stopped working to be a full-time mom, I was the head of the purchasing and importing arm of a Silicon Valley company. I’ve got skills…

As far as a place to live, I’m disheartened by Craigslist. Almost all the listings for NoVA are massive complexes, and I don’t think this is the solution for us- we don’t need fancy. I can’t shake the feeling that the answer lies in a private person who has a rental property they’re looking for a good family to take. If you know anyone, or can think of anything, please keep me and my kids in mind. Obviously wards and schools are important to me, but I also know I have to be flexible. A single mama grad student doesn’t have the luxury of cherry-picking.

I’d like a place with some sort of outside access- Bean really needs it. Three bedrooms would be best, but we could make two work. We’re not necessarily quiet (three kids, come on!) but we’re good people, and I can provide references and anyone who wants to vet me can do so in a hundred ways.

So folks, I’m wide open. Give me your suggestions, your ideas, or just say hi. One way or another this is gonna happen, and I’m trying to be excited for the adventure awaiting, and not paralyzed with fear. The best way I know to do that is to take action.

I guess I need a Batman shirt to match my Superman one. I do prefer my red cape though…