Day 22: Describe 7 things you’re awful at.

  1. I’m awful at picking a man that won’t lie to me, cheat on me, steal from me or break my heart. I’ve elevated it to an art form and have ruled them out entirely as a result. Heterosexual men are basic creatures. Much like that lump of a human they hand you when you have a baby, you only need to feed, water and love it for things to be agreeable, right? Wrong. I have an innate ability to pick the absolute worst asshole in the room. Eyes closed, heart open… I lose every damn time.
  2. Thinning root vegetables. Seriously.. someone should take my carrot seeds away. There’s honestly no point in me even planting them because I can’t grow them for shit and who needs 4000 pencil sized baby carrots? Nobody.
  3. Kitchener stitch. It’s some sort of modern day needlework witchcraft. I avoid knitting socks for precisely this reason. I loathe not being able to do something though, so I’ll figure it out eventually or die trying.
  4. Seeing the forest for the trees. I see the potential in everyone- and never stop to consider that some people are self motivated and not looking out for me or my best interests. Some folks are just users and I work overtime to see the goodness a little too much. Some of those frogs aren’t princes. Some of those warty little things are just dirty ass reptiles.
  5. Brownies. I can’t bake brownies to save my life. I don’t know why. I’ve given up trying and just buy them. I’m bitter about it though because I’m a damn domestic goddess and hate that I can’t do something.
  6. Sleep. I am the worst insomniac. I am regularly awake between the hours of 1-5 AM and generally give up and get up by 5:30. I’m painfully tired and all things considered could probably use a week of rest, straight. I won’t get it and it won’t stop me from lying awake all night again tonight… so feel free to give me any suggestions you may have.
  7. I’m awful at shaking this Incredicock nightmare. Hearing one thing and seeing another is the worst form of torture and I was crazy to think that touching him again was a good idea. It wasn’t. You can only be casual about someone you don’t care about… just as you can’t make a ho a housewife, it’s absolutely impossible to make a fuckbuddy out of the guy you’re in love with and I should have learned that painful lesson the first time with him.

I wish I had more of my shit together, but fairy godmothers aren’t real and it involves a shit load of work and time to change these things. I’m still determined, still working hard to be better, do more, live positively and strive for happiness.

I have promises to keep. And miles to go before I sleep… -Robert Frost


Day 19: What do you most wish you were great at?

1. Thinning the carrots in the garden. I suck at ripping 3/4th of them out, so they’re always crowded, too small, misshapen and weird. I grow horrible carrots and it’s my greatest shame as a farm girl. It’s one of those things that is part of my character. I can’t casually throw away something that I made. I give it the benefit of the doubt and even when it clearly looks stunted and in need of discarding… I keep trying to save them all. It’s not a great trait to possess when you’re growing root vegetables (or dating). Bless all my little beets and carrots- I can’t pick one over the other so they’re all going to have a hard time reaching their full potential.

2. Letting go. I worry about people’s feelings more than I should. I overthink everything. I can’t tell you the horrible paths my mind went down today because even I know I’m imagining the worst things at will. I wish I were great at saying “Cest la vie” with a smile and a tip of my champagne glass… but assuming the worst is more my weakness and I make even slightest hiccup into a heart attack. Death is extremely hard for me and I wish I could find the peace and joy in happy memories… but letting go is tantamount to giving up for me, and I fight it tooth and nail.

3. Hunting. Random, I know… but I want to shoot an elk, gut it and chop it up to fill my freezer. I loved dissection in science and I’m not squeamish. I grow a million things, but at the end of the long day and night of weeding, pruning and staking them… all I want is a steak. I have too tender of a heart to grow a cow to eat, but I could joyfully hunt a wild one down. I’m determined to learn.

4. Fishing. Along those same lines… I really want to catch a pike. I’m seeing my friends post pictures of them lately and I want one. I work for an Alaskan based company and I REALLY want to go fishing for salmon, halibut, cod and the rest of their magical assortment of delicious fish. I’d rather go fishing than to a spa… so perhaps I just need to book a trip and go already. Why wait?

5. Laundry. I’m great at washing and drying it… but folding it is right up there with the gynecologist for me. I’d rather die than fold ten loads of laundry and that’s what I face each Saturday. Yes, I know I should get rid of some sheets. Have less dish towels…. etc. I don’t want to. I have more drawers in my kitchen than you can imagine and plenty of space to encourage me to have seasonal linens. I just wish with my whole heart that I loved to fold them when they were hot out of the dryer.

6. Balancing work and home. I’m so damn exhausted on Saturday that I let my Dumpling veg out in front of the TV or electronics. I let her eat popsicles. I’m THAT mom who overcompensates for the mom guilt of school + daycare that puts a 6 year old into a 40 hour work week. It’s shitty and I feed her more corn dogs than her older siblings got to eat. Little Red sees Twinkies in the cupboard and shakes her head at me.

LR: Where did these come from and WHO are you? We were never allowed to have these.

Me- Eat one, they’re gross. You weren’t missing out on anything. It’s just not a battle worth fighting. It’s a mermaid cupcake, not the end of the world. I’m sorry I was so uptight. I’ll buy you some if you want.

LR- Ew… they are kind of gross.

7. Taking time for myself. I need a break so desperately I could cry. Too much work, too much stress, too much heartache, too much of everything frankly- and I wish I were better at insisting on taking a minute to feel better… even if that means drinking a cup of coffee in silence and going to work a half hour later.

I get a lot done in a day… but it’s always nice to have goals too. ♥


Day 14: Discuss your views on religion.

Oy…. I have such a weird relationship with God that I feel like I’d be better at speed dating than I would be at selling my Christianity.

I struggle, (a lot) to embrace the many things that comfort and pacify those of us who grew up believing. I did not. My parents were escapees from devout childhood upbringings that caused more harm than good, forever changing how they approached teaching us about any of it.

My mother was a Mormon and still proudly defends her relationship with Jesus. I just don’t have that conversation with her. One of my little sisters went through a Christian phase in high school that terrified all of us a lot more than drugs and sex.

Mom- I thought it was rough with you, with you climbing out windows and boys sneaking in the basement. This is far worse.

J- Jesus is way more invasive than any of the boys I dated, mom.

My father was an absolute heathen. Card carrying. My beloved stepmom got us up, put us all together to look like the perfect Mormon family and carted us all to three hours of hell, while my dad enjoyed the peace of an empty house.

I knew early on that I was more of a football and beer sort than I would ever be an iron a dress and spend half my day off with people I avoided for the rest of the week, kind of lady. Football is life and beer is delicious. I can’t say the same about sacrement, relief society, etc….

I grew up sleeping in on Sunday and watching my mama love making us a big family dinner. Those are my religious moments. I find the magic in the everyday details that I took for granted for so long.

That’s what I believe in more than anything else.

Then I got pregnant at 18… and had a baby with persistent hyperplastic primary vitreous. Essentially there is a blood vessel that connects the parts of the eye while forming, and when babies are born that vessel dies and a perfect eye is born. If that vessel continues to thrive… you have a baby that’s blind in one eye. They have you bandage the good eye, which causes that same sweet baby to tear violently at their own little face so that they can see. It’s more horrific than I can describe, and I was not at all prepared to deal with it at 18. I did though. I schlepped that sweet boy to and fro, scaring eye surgeons and opthamologists alike. I saw the scariest shit that motherhood has to offer, before I could legally drink a beer.

What could I turn to? What did the world have to offer me?

Prayers. That was it. Science said it was a life sentence of safety glasses and my sweet son never knowing how to ride a bike, play sports or fly a plane.

I realize that last one sounds crazy… but when you’re a baby holding your own newborn, you die inside if anyone limits their potential.

We went to the Casey Eye Institute and saw the best eye surgeon in the world for PHPV. They put the clamp in his two month old eye to hold it open and his screams caused my milk to let down. I’ll never forget standing in the public bathroom of a major medical center, mopping up the breastmilk I couldn’t get to stop while the screams of my baby made me want to pull him out of their hands and and walk home. Some moments stand out in your life when you want them to the least.

Jesus was nowhere to be found and whoever this God guy was that everyone kept telling me had a plan, wasn’t a favorite of mine either.

Something happens to you when the whole world turns sideways and everything you thought you knew your life would be, isn’t. I cried a million tears for the loss of his ability to fly that plane, and then we went to church.

I threw myself into Catholic motherhood and bought all the bibles. I wore a St. Christopher, carried a rosary, taught CCD and Boy Scouts. We made our first communion, gave our first confession and I found my voice in asking for help with my faith.

In the depths of my terrified despair… I found God at the Catholic church down the street. I was so painfully awkward at every other church that I was relieved to find one that didn’t confront us at the front door. The Catholics left us alone to figure it out and find our way. They didn’t comment on our being out of place or unknown, they let me quietly find peace in a pew full of people willing to hold my baby or me if either of us needed love or support.

I found a church family that filled all the weird holes my atheist childhood left, and that’s why it’s always been important to me to take my children to church. Not because I don’t see peace and tranquility outside of organized faith but because I know how hard it is to unearth it when you need it the most and also what a huge burden it lifts just to belong to something.

I love being Catholic and there’s a peace I can’t find outside of Mass. My knees hit the kneeler and I have to fight back tears for all the stuff I need to be grateful for, pray on, hope for and work out. I’m not waiting for the man in the sky to answer me, I’m more humble about having a minute to remind myself what’s important and needs my time and attention, first.

Religion for me is about doing what I know I should. It’s about snuggling and reading more than washing and working. It’s about taking a minute to stop and smell the gardenias.

Mine came from a beautiful boy/man who’s done more with one eye than the rest of us have with two, since the day he was born. He never liked sports anyway, he had no problem learning to ride a bike and is successful enough to buy an airplane ticket.

It all works out, you just have to have a little faith…

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Day 9: What are 5 passions you have?

  1. Truth. I don’t like grey area and I don’t like games. If you want to know how I feel, ask. I’ll tell you. Lying pisses me off more than anything and liars are weeded out of my life like the dandelions in my garden. I have a lot of patience, but I don’t fuck around with lies. Hurt me with the miserable truth and I’ll love and respect you forever, but lie and you’re dead to me.
  2. Knitting. It’s a guilty pleasure because I rarely have the time to turn my yarn into anything but silky soft loops of therapeutic peace on my needles. I have half a toy elephant dress finished and my baby nieces are growing at the speed of light. My Dumpling had to go with her daddy last month and it always makes her a little anxious at first. I knit her a bunny with a tiny heart on it’s chest that we spray with my perfume when she has to go. It’s a snuggly soft reminder that home is just a state of mind, a smell or a person. The bunny goes a long way towards making her feel right at home, right away… with her dad. Knitting is magic at your fingertips, all you need are a few sticks and some string.
  3. Writing. In the last year I’ve written three times as much as before, with most of it private or contracted. The work I’ve turned in professionally has earned me more financially this year as well. That’s not what has stuck with me though. I find it so much more satisfying that I wrote my own self out of feeling like warm trash this year. In yelling at the world through a keyboard, I taught myself to let shit go and move on. I love the entertainment of it all, but the therapy of it all is why I began writing in the first place. Sorry to all of you along for this crazy ride, and thank you for your shared perspective.
  4. Love. I love out loud in ways that make me painfully uncomfortable on occasion. I still wouldn’t have it any other way. I smile at strangers, I help people who are grumpy… it’s just who I am. It comes from my adorably sweet grandma Elaine and my equally spicy red-headed firecracker Grandma Afton, both of whom taught me to love the whole world and everything in it, to my toes. Sure, sometimes it ends badly and I end up hurt again… but at the end of the day, purely because I refused to give up, I like to believe my life will have been full of more love than I knew what to do with because I never let fear stop me from having faith.
  5. Gardening. My beautiful obsession with the dirt has gotten me through things I never thought I would survive. Losing my son, my house going through foreclosure (twice), an epic water leak in the yard, countless cheating boyfriends, 5 years of celibacy, having a baby alone from birth, poverty, depression, etc… You name it, I’ve coped with everything by putting on a headlamp and pulling weeds into the wee hours of the morning. Some of the worst and most insurmountable pain can be soothed by digging potatoes and beets. Some of my greatest heartache has only been kept company by tomato plants in need of staking, peppers in need of picking and long, quiet rows waiting for a fresh blanket of straw. When I’m at my breaking point and in desperate need of a reminder to keep myself grounded… I take my shoes off and stick my bare feet in the dirt.

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What are you passionate about?

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Day 3: Describe 3 legitimate fears you have and how they became fears.

I’m a huge true crime junkie and listen to farrrrrr too much murder for a woman who lives alone. Oddly enough, I don’t worry about being murdered as much as I worry about something happening to someone I love. I’ve read this prompt three times and realized that my fears are basically trivial and not terribly… scary.

This requires a little more soul searching and a little more time spent delving into the scary stuff… those dark areas of my heart that I try not to give much light to.

It’s been a year of loss in my life. I’ve buried too many friends and let some friendships fall by the wayside in being overwhelmingly depressed. I have to admit that my biggest fear is being stuck in this sad place instead of having enough love for myself to want to climb out of the swamp.

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The world lost a truly incredible man this week. Kirk Miller was a beloved member of my community and a dear friend. His son played at my house as a little kid and my heart is in my throat as I realize for the umpteenth time that “I’m sorry for your loss is a hollow sentiment when it feels like your entire universe has imploded. Kirk made the world beautiful, with no expectation of profit or success. He lived a quiet, remarkable life that filled the world with beauty. I spend so much time going through the motions, folding the same laundry, scrubbing the same floors, making the same recipes… etc. Having someone so quietly spectacular leave the world so suddenly, reminds me that I need to light a fire under my own exceptional life. I worry that I waste so much time doing the necessary stuff and focusing on the things that are missing in my life, that I neglect the truly important things I should be more focused on. I absolutely fear the idea of running out of time having wasted all of mine on stupid shit that makes me unhappy.

I worry most about being in a situation where I can’t protect my children. I have two over the age of 18 and I’d bet my life they’ve been in some sketchy situations that would turn my hair grey. I don’t even want to know. I have my own scary list that would send my poor mother to her grave early.  Yesterday was the 8 year anniversary of my stupid ass flying to Puerto Rico for a first date with (surprise!) someone else’s husband.  I’m lucky  my mother didn’t lock me in a box after that and I was in my thirties. I suppose after having put myself in such an awful situation that gave no respect to the hard work she put in to get me to that point, I gained a fresh perspective about the value of my life.  It’s one thing to lay my own neck on the line… it’s quite another to have my children in danger and not be able to help them. I’d rather fly to meet that moron again before watching any of them do something so stupid and reckless. I can hardly stomach the thought of something happening to any of my beloved trio, let alone in my presence.

Then we have the damn vermin. Those awful mice. My biggest childhood fear and the source of all my screaming. I grew up in a 100 year old farm house and the attic was my bedroom. My dad was a chef, not a builder, and his idea of making the attic into bedrooms was nailing some drywall up to the existing lathe and plaster walls. I spent much of my childhood listening to those awful creatures chew on the chalky white drywall, as they tried to get back into the rest of the house. I regularly woke up with mouse turds on my bed in the morning. My sister slept with her mouth open (shudder) and I was forever afraid she was going to have one climb in. Ack. As an adult… I have less patience and more fear than ever. Their shitty little descendants have recently decided to use the ceiling above my bed (my very own attic in my house) to run laps in the night. I haven’t slept well in weeks because I wake up wide eyed, horrified… and contemplating putting the Dumpling in the car with our cats and dogs, lighting a match and burning the whole damn thing down.

I grew up with my mama telling me that many fears were borne of fatigue and loneliness. I have learned a million times over how very right she is. I had a phone call from a beloved friend last night and it broke my heart wide open. She told me about the man she loved, who worked overtime to hurt and disrespect her. He has one foot in her life and one foot in someone else’s, and the saddest thing to hear was how much love and understanding she has to offer someone who can’t be troubled to worry about her feelings or how destructive his selfishness is. With no thought to her own shattered heart, she told me how much she hoped it would work out and how happy she was to see him again. My greatest fear is that I encouraged such lunacy or fed the idea that disinterested men, change. They never do. If he can shit on your heart from the beginning, he will never turn into that guy your friend’s and family hope you’ll have in your life and heart. Nobody ever says “When we met he was a miserable fuckboy but now he’s an incredible husband and father.” As sad as it is and as hard as it is to reconcile that you could possibly love someone who could so flagrantly disregard you… it’s just the way it is.

Fear keeps you in places you shouldn’t stay. Fear borne of hard lessons gives your heart too much fuel to keep fighting losing battles.

I wish all of mine were as easy to deal with as mice.