Sunday, June 9, 2013

Therapeutic Gardening

The soft breeze caressing my shoulders, warm with the sun. Rich, loamy soil coating my fingertips. Small moments of care that magically turn into sustenance.

I find myself turning to my garden more and more as this crazy season unfolds. Each day, I return from the office, head spinning with the busy-ness, the politics, the technical details. Each day, I head for my garden and spend a moment surveying the progress, pulling a weed or two, giving water, saying hello. Sometimes, I run for Mr. T. and make him look, too.

This spring at Shangri La House has been so lovely, watching the landscape reveal itself to us. Each week, something different has been in bloom, each taking the spotlight and then bowing out for the next performer.

First it was my favorite, the lilacs. They filled my yard with their lush fragrance and taunted the patrons of the park behind us not to steal over in the dark to snip a few branches from the other side of my fence.

Next was the honeysuckle with it's potent pink buds.

One of the more lovely surprises was the purple iris.

Right now I have these lovelies that I have yet to identify. They don't have as much fragrance but they are lovely to look at.

And this enormous rose bush is in full bloom. It hadn't been cut back properly in the fall and so is immensely overgrown. I had to tie it up with twine to make it look so shapely.

This space is magic for me. To hear the birds in the trees and know they don't worry. To know that sunshine and rain are needed for growth. To feel connected to our little spot of the earth.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

It Is Well With My Soul or Keep Calm and Carry On

A bazillion years ago, I sang my first solo at First Church of God in Oak Lawn. It was "It Is Well With My Soul" and it became a calming mantra that I hum under my breath on scary days like today.

"When peace like a river
Decendeth my way.
When sorrows like sea billows blow.
Whatever my lot, thou has taught me to say 'It is well, it is well with my soul!'" Translated to the current lexicon, it would be something like "Keep Calm and Carry On, Cause Everything's Cool."

Horatio Spafford wrote this after his wife and daughters were killed in a shipwreck while traveling to America from England.
I was taken by this story, and have often reminded myself of it when hosting a one woman pity party.

Everyone faces scary things. It's a sign of life. Add the complexities of the new normal blended family and they grow exponentially. That's precisely why I need to remind myself to "Keep Calm and Carry On."

All of this will pass. The good days. The bad days. The dark days. They all pass. And quickly, too.

It is well with my soul.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

What to Do When There is a Possibility That Flaming Poop May Fall on Your Head

"I think I'm losing my mind this time.
This time I'm losing my mind, that's right."

Maybe not.

One of the things that I love about having this family is the look of surprise on people's faces when I answer the inevitable question, "How many kids do you have?" 

"FIVE?! What are their ages?"

"Nine, nine, twelve, fourteen and fourteen"


This is the point where I explain that we are a blended family and that I do not, in fact, look amazing for having had five children, but thank you. I think. 

"So you chose this?"

"Yes, yes I did."

Or maybe, really, it's that this chose me. I remember the moment I met my three step-kids just as clearly as I remember the moment I met the Scientist and Triple Threat at the moment of their birth. Instant love. An immediate connaissance. Gong.

"How do you keep it all together?"

"Very carefully"

To be fair, my step-kids' mom is their primary caregiver, residential parent and advocate. The kids are with her during the week and with us every weekend and as much as possible on vacations and holidays. She is fiercely protective of her kids and takes care of their day to day needs, doctor appointments, IEP's at the school, the bulk of the responsibility. I am fortunate for this, as are they.

Still, though, there is a lot on my plate. Sometimes it gets heavy. Sometimes I get down about it.

I once was trying to work on "branding" myself. Not for a business, really, but just to have my own mental logo of myself. I kept coming back to the idea of a juggling octopus, keeping dozens of balls in the air at once. Some days those balls are on fire, too.  And some days those balls are made of poop. Flaming poop.

On those days, there are three things a girl can do. Smile. Make someone else smile. Turn up the Beastie Boys.

And if a ball of flaming poop threatens to fall on your head, duck.