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When things don’t feel quite right, we make adjustments. I have never been a go with the flow kind of gal. I have always wished I were. I get nervous if I feel like I might not reach an event or meeting within plenty of time to get comfortable. So much so, that I am sometimes as much as 20 minutes early for things. When my “routine” is interrupted, and I feel like something is getting left out of my day, I tend to feel dis-ease. When John sits in my seat at the kitchen table, it bugs me to death. I can sit in uncomfortableness and brood, or I can adjust. I have chosen to adjust.
The blue moon of Kentucky is no longer making me blue. I am now getting up at 6:30am to practice yoga and read a little before John and the girls are awake. I am amazed about how much it feels like it adds time to my day. I’ve not been trying to make Ivy nap. She slept about 45 minutes today on her own on the couch. I’m still exhausted, but feeling much more at ease. Waking at 6:30am is very hard for me. Our bed sleeps horribly, and my arms fall asleep at night and I have shoulder pain, so I don’t rest much. However, in a way it makes it easier to get on up. Our rooster is crowing his head off by that time anyway. So much of how we feel/react to things is a decision. I don’t think it is always a conscious one, but nevertheless, it is a decision.
I really think that most often we are hindered by our own blockages or walls. I have never been the mother that could pull out of the moment to figure out a less stressful way to deal with a situation. I’ve always been the mother looking back and hoping that one day I’d be the mindful mother. I think one day I will. One day soon. More often than not.
This here full moon has taken the place of the peace I had found on Thursday. It’s gone and left me blue. When I taught middle school, the teachers would all gather in the halls to discuss the day, and we’d often notice (or at least blame) rowdy behavior on the full moon. Labor and delivery nurses will often do the same when they have a busy ward. Same in the jailhouses and on the beat. Now, that I am a mother, I’m starting to wonder if there might be some truth to it.
Ivy has decided that sleeping is no longer cool. I mean she is a big kid now, being two and all. She is getting in bed around 10pm and waking around 8am. She is not napping most days, and the days that she does, she doesn’t sleep very long. I am missing my nap time, quiet yoga practice. Evening alone time with John, that doesn’t require staying up until midnight. Then, during her waking hours, especially toward evening, she is non-stop and grouchy. Biting Deladis, climbing whatever she can find to climb, turning sommersaults, using the toilet to get high on shelves in the bathroom to find her “lipstick” (chapstick) so she can put it on with her pretty dress and necklace (Where she gets this, I don’t know. I don’t wear jewelry or makeup.), lots of crying when something doesn’t turn out just so, and picking the kitten up by the head. Real nice. Lots of fun for her mama.
Deladis has “gotten a mouth”. She simply tells us “no” when she doesn’t like a request or our plans. I had to chase her all over the playground at the music school on the last day. She was loudly telling me that “no” she was not going home. Plain and simple. Today, during school time, she pretends she doesn’t know things that I know good and well she does. Picking up her toys is also a “no”.
I’m exhausted. I’m on the edge. This is part of motherhood. The times after you think you’ve gotten it under control – after you feel like things are going to be really good for awhile – when you realize that the next stage is just beginning and you will be adjusting all over again. I don’t have it all together. There are times when I feel like what I truly need is a break, and not a short one either. When I feel like I need to completely change our lifestyle because something is not going right at all, it is so tempting to sit and whine. To feel bad. To blame myself. To accuse myself of not being cut out for the job. Then, what good does all that do? Where do you go from here? Parenting books, self-help, religious texts??? Complaining in online mothering forums. Praying or meditating, hoping for some divine intervention. Or waiting. Realizing that there is nothing wrong with the picture. It is what it is. You are who you are, waiting for the full moon to wane.
We see now that we do not live by acquiring, gaining, or achieving. We live by Grace;…
-Joel S. Goldsmith, The Infinite Way
This week I learned some things. I learned that peace starts inside. I learned that once we know better that negative reactions are a choice. Struggle in many ways is also a choice. I don’t know if readers of this blog come here to read about spirituality, yoga, or personal growth. I reckon most of you come here to read about Appalachia and mountain folks (if I go by my search engine hits), or copperhead snakes. But, this blog documents our lives, and at this point it is as much for me and my girls as it is for those reading. I’m putting the truth of our life out there into the regions of cyberspace and that is also a choice. When you visit here you are reading the journey of an Appalachian woman born and raised, whose family has been here for many generations. You are getting true Appalachia, folks. Is it how you thought it would be?
Thursday, I came home from the Cowan Creek Mountain Music School with the girls. Ivy hadn’t had a real nap since Monday. I laid her down since she fell asleep in the truck. I started my yoga practice as Deladis played. I needed this time. About ten minutes in, Ivy wakes up crying every breath. Nothing wrong, just not happy and tired. I try to continue to practice, hoping that she will soon get woke up enough to practice too or play. Then, the power goes out. It has been out so much this week. The wind blows and it is out for hours. 😦 It comes back on, and I restart my DVD. About two minutes later the power is out again. I lay down. Ivy grabs my head and shakes it back and forth. I feel my body tense. I feel myself wanting to cry. I begin to whine – “just a few minutes girls.” I was tired. I was all touched out. I was frustrated.
Inside, a voice spoke to me. STOP. This is not the way. Whatever I was perceiving as a wrong was not a wrong. It wasn’t the end of my world. I could whine and raise my voice, lament my ruined practice, or I could do something else. I called my mother to watch the girls and I went to yoga in town. I ran to yoga.
I met my needs and I met the girls needs with one decision that saved me a whole evening of being disheartened and aggravating to the girls. Five other women were at the studio that evening, each coming with their own reason to practice. Each coming with their own weight of the day, but all with a bit of joy and release in their hearts. It was a beautiful practice. We laughed. We relaxed. We loved. We released. I particularly enjoyed Lord of the Dance asana.
This is not me, but feel like my pose resembled this one. Yoga is not efforting. Yoga is not struggling. It is relying on what you know to free you to take the risk of stepping into the unknown. I can change bad habits. I can change my attitude. I can live with simple means in abundance of Grace. In Luke chapter 15 verse 31, the father of the prodigal son explains to his oldest son who remained with him, “Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine.” God, The Creator, The Universe, The Collective Unconscious, whatever name you have for the Supreme Existence/Being is always with us, even when we choose to separate ourselves. All that is, is ours. Not finite material things, but simple being. Very simple being. And that is enough. That is what is lasting into infinity.
I’m so excited because before I was so out of touch with options that in situations where it seemed that struggle was inevitable, I fell right into that way of being. I became struggle with all my heart and soul. I didn’t hear the Spirit within. I was deaf to the voice. I hear the voice now. Eventhough, it is still easier to fall into old patterns. I hear the voice. I hear it! I’m finding the yoga. The union. The living to the full capacity of who I am. I’m very excited about what that might mean for my life. What miserable ways of being I might be released from. Not that anything is any better, but that I am present.
This week John and I are both working at the Cowan Creek Mountain Music School. I am co-teaching Kids on the Creek, and John is the faculty coordinator. Both of the girls are attending this year, and are with me in Kids on the Creek. It’s a busy and exhausting week. So many personalities in one place, lots of music and dancing, smiling, and fun. It is in its 9th year.
It seems though that our family always has a bit of a crisis during the time of the music school. Last year it was our van breaking down. This year, it is the dogs killing the diddles (chicks). They have killed two, and yesterday, we realized that we had to get the mama and the remaining seven into the old coop for safety. They have been totally free ranging since they were born. We hadn’t been able to touch their mother since she left the coop months ago. I figured I’d have to have John to help me catch all of them. In fact, I wasn’t even going to try without him. His duties keep him at the school from morning until wee morning, and we see him in glimpses. I had resigned to grieve the diddles and resent the dogs.
Deladis on the other hand, resigned to get the chickens into the coop come hell or high water last night. After a thunderstorm that knocked the power out, Deladis chased the diddles all around the yard in the steady rain. Ivy was asleep inside. When I stepped onto the front porch to check on Deladis, I realized she was catching them! She had a diddle in her hands. She handed it off to me and I rushed it to the coop. When I returned, she handed me another diddle. “Get the mama,” I said.
They were all huddled under the front porch, and it takes quite a bit for me to maneuver under there, so I wasn’t too hopeful that Deladis could get her hands on the mama, but I knew that if she were caught, the diddles would be easier. “Oh, she’s pecking me!” I hear. Then, I see my four year old turn around, her arms full of hen. “Hang on!” I say. We rush her to the coop, and proceed to round up the last five diddles.
The proud look on her face said it all. Her eyes round and wide. Her smile open and full. “I did it, Mama,” she said. “Are you happy at me?” She was determined to get those chickens to safety with or without her daddy, and that she did. I was beyond joyful at her accomplishment. She did something I thought wasn’t doable. Something I thought it would take our man to help us with. Deladis taught me something last night.
What/Who am I waiting on? I have been waiting on John to have time for barn repairs for months, so we could move the chickens down there once again. I have been working so hard on advertising my birth work that I have neglected my housekeeping and writing. I have been waiting on acceptance to a known literary journal before sending off the collection of stories to small presses for consideration. I’ve been submitting those stories for two years. I have 25,000 words on a novel that I am waiting for time to finish. There’s no waiting. There is just now. Now. Right now. There is nothing that exists to wait for. All that is, is present now.
Miss Angie, over at The Artist, The Mom, and mine and Deladis’s former Parent/Child (Waldorf) teacher told me once that I was exhibiting some sanguine traits. At the time I thought – no way. But, I couldn’t just put it off. She had really studied the temperaments after all. She gave us an article on parenting and temperaments. I thought – sure, I’ll accept melancholic, even choleric, but sanguine? I had always thought, if only I had some sanguine tendencies. I am not the life of the party by any means. I’m lucky if I can approach you for conversation after knowing you for some time. I’m one of those who gets shy and ducks in and out of store aisles trying to avoid eye contact. Not because I don’t love conversation, or crave it even, but when I’m not prepared for it, it is very hard for me to initiate. I want to be assured that someone wants to talk to me before I approach them. I also remember things, and have been notoriously good and holding grudges (though not any more. What a blessing!). I have strong opinions about a lot of things, but I don’t go declaring most of them everywhere, and in most situations my opinions aren’t such that it makes me dislike anyone or confront anyone.
However, I see what she means in that I have my hands in so much at once. My focus changes so often, I don’t think I give anything time to really be what it is going to be. Just go through this blog and you will see that I have this and that then that and this on my mind. Does it mean that I need to find just one thing? Does it mean that I need to give up my little work for the important work of mother and homemaker, so I can do those better than I am now? I don’t think so. I really don’t.
I think it just means that I need to focus on what needs to be done in any given day. What work do I wake to? What work lends itself well to the feelings of the day – mine and the girls? Does it mean that I will take the conventional approach to things? No, I’ve never been conventional. Does it mean that the path I had set out on will be the one that gets me to where I am going? Nope. In fact, I think it is most doubtful. I need to always consider alternatives. Always consider now.
I wonder if I can do the work down at the barn. I wonder. I wonder how much time and advertising to put into my birth work. I wonder which small press I should query first. I wonder what it will be like to pick up my novel again. I’ve been wanting to switch this blog over to one that will allow me to do the Amazon Affiliates program, and post links to my book when it is published by a small press or myself. I wonder if I’m computer literate enough. I wonder. Deladis didn’t sit and wonder. She just did it because it needed done.
This is our family a little over two years ago the morning after Ivy was born. Right away, when I look at this picture, I notice my swollen, red face, Deladis’s disheveled hair (Aunt Leah hadn’t had a baby yet, and they were up all night.), and my peacefully sleeping, round, new love. Then, I notice John. Loving Deladis whose just welcoming her new sister and unsure of what that means, he looks as tired as I do. Puffy under his eyes, and messy hair. He’s been up with me for almost two days.
Our journey to Ivy’s birth began on April 26th at 5pm when my water broke ceremoniously as we waited for our dinner at Karma Cafe in Louisville, Kentucky. It was like something out of the movies. But, he was calm and unafraid, not embarrassed by a major life event beginning in such a public place. He trusted my body and birth as much as I did and that meant the world to me. He called our midwife to tell her what had happened, with nothing but confidence in his voice. He had been with me for every prenatal appointment. He had went with me through twelve weeks of Bradley childbirth classes and paid for them. John had also paid for me to have a doula and a midwife out of pocket. We can’t afford insurance for the two of us. He had dedicated himself to me and this baby as he had during every other major moment in our lives since we were teenagers.
The journey finally came to an end at 2:12am on April 28th when our 11 pound baby girl greeted us with her cries and eagerness to nurse. During this time, we had went to the grocery, ate our boxed food from the restaurant, waited through a sleepless night, invited women into our home for sagely advice and help, visited the chiropractor, worked on our van that decided to break down on the way home, took many walks, stopped in the middle of busy downtown Louisville for me to get through contractions on the way to the hospital, took many trips to the bathroom, moaned and carried on, made some hard decisions, loved and enjoyed our friends, and ultimately brought forth our baby in safety and love. I would have been so alone without John. Never once did he question me through that process. Never once. In fact, at times when I thought it was no more, he assured me that there was lots more we could do.
I think of those two days quite a bit. How they would have been different without my husband – the daddy – by my side. I’m forever grateful that I found him so early in my life. We’ve grown up together and I think with that comes an understanding of one another that goes beyond adult relationship. We know where we have been first hand. He trusts me. I trust him. As I watch him with our girls – daddy’s girls, I am filled with joy. Being a daddy’s girl myself, I know how crucial a daddy’s love can be in making everything right in the world. I thank him for that. We were married six years before the first was born, and he fell into the role without a blink. John is a real good daddy.
To be an Appalachian is to exist in the midst of stereotype (we aren’t the only people who do). You’ve read me going on about it here before. There’s no escaping it, even in the most unexpected places. I have lived with watching the perception of who I am change for a person as soon as I open my mouth and speak. And as much as that can tick me off, I must admit that I believe most stereotypes are made from the misunderstanding of truth. John believes it too, and it becomes apparent in his paintings. There is a part of us that is prideful of being in that state of misunderstanding – it is comfortable to us. It has been our way of life for generations.
One of the stereotypes that is very prominent in most Appalachians I know – at least in east Kentucky – is our fight. Our clannish ways. Our ability to hold a grudge. Our seeming lack of concern about getting physical if need be. Our willingness to stand up for what is right even when we know good and well it is wrong.
Every trait develops for a reason. We are evolutionary beings. We adapt ourselves to meet the needs of our environment both physical and emotional. Otherwise we’d have all died out long ago. I thank the Creator for that. My people in particular (as with many Appalachians) are Native American and European. In the specific combination of my family, it is Irish and Cherokee most abundantly. My native people were here for thousands of years. Here is there’s. Simply. My European ancestors dared to settle the frontier. They dared to go up in them mountains and stay. They were looking for home in landscape. They were looking for respect. They were looking for freedom to live the life they set out to live by coming to America, when they found in the early cities it was not the promised land and not as welcoming as they had expected.
My people entered the mountains with a fight in them. I will live by the standards I set for myself – and family, God, and myself is the only answering I am obligated to do. A way of life developed. We looked out for one another against those who came in from somewhere else. We fought for what we believed mattered.
In present day, I see our fight regrettably directed at the wrong situations. I see it serving its purpose in truth on rare occasion anymore. It is intolerably sad, so I put that in the back of my mind. But, right now, I am considering my fight. Physically I’ve been in one real fight, and two almost fights. I fought a boy in the fourth grade. My daddy had taught me a trick – see, and I used that trick, so it didn’t last very long. I had a bloody jaw. The almost fights were in 8th grade and college and those were fights for honor. Most of the fighting I did was on the basketball court. Us mountain girls were terrors on the hardwood. Not just for playing good ball, but because you didn’t want to get us too mad. We’d get you out of the way as best we could without a bad call by the ref, but if it couldn’t be avoided, we’d take one.
What normally could be a kind hearted compassionate person woman or man is turned by a speck at the first thought of honor or home being threatened whether it be their own or a family member’s. Gurney Norman read a story Friday night at the Seedtime on the Cumberland Literary Reading that got me to thinking about all this. The family of characters disapprove of their daddy’s/grand-daddy’s new marriage, and when grand-daddy also comes to despise it, his daughter goes to run the woman off in her dress, hat, and nice black pocketbook, threatening to get physical with her. We were all laughing and shaking our heads – get ’em girl. It was hilarious. A truly lovely story.
It is this passion about our right to live the life we choose, where we choose, and how we choose that drives so many of us. A life that is by no means a permanent fixture on this earth or even in our experience – our path. And sometimes it becomes so personal that we forget there is a bigger picture, other experiences and paths. A deep ingrained belief in respect for the “person”. It has most definitely ignited passions in me or at the very least fueled them. But, sometimes, when used in a way that is not appropriate it is more of a detriment than anything else. It’s true for all of us in these hills.
Yesterday, I made a decision. Whether it be a cause I believe in, something I feel I am supposed to be doing for people, or my perceived obligations in life, I’m approaching it differently. What makes me – me? How am I sure I’m doing the right things? It’s one of those things that you can’t really put into words, but, I’m believing it is the difference between fighting through life and flying. There comes a time when old ways of being leaves us stuck. They don’t serve us anymore. Putting them off doesn’t change who we are. There is always our basis – what we know already, and in relying on that most basic of basic we can take the risk, and open ourselves to something new. What we are doing right now is the result of the path we are taking, and how closely we are paying attention to where it leads, our mode of travel, and the true distractions along the way.
“Be the change you want to see in the world.” Ghandi
“And don’t expect it of anyone else…” Kelli (if I might add to Ghandi… :))
And I’m beginning to wonder why…
Why am I wondering why? It has given Lars, our eldest dog of 11 years, a complex. Today, as it has been for the last few days, he has been chasing the diddles, trying to eat them. Add that to Goldie, our pup, chewing everything in site. Add to that, Lars fighting Goldie over both his food and her food. We have a mess on our hands… and we’re adding another baby to the mix in a few days – of the kitten variety.
I’m exhausted today. Above you see Goldie and her mess. She tore up our waders (fortunately they already had holes), the girls’ sidewalk chalk, a toy bunny from the sandbox, and somehow she got the girls’ snow hat from inside and tore it up outside. Oh, and tearing into the food bags. Ugh…
But, you know… I expect that. She’s a pup. They do those things. Lars destroyed our couch and my pewter statue collection when he was a pup. Yes, he chewed up soft metal. What I didn’t expect was Lars to be fine for the first couple of weeks with Goldie around, but now that we have 9 diddles, and they are getting older, he has decided that he is nuts and doesn’t care about the rules. He has turned on Goldie during mealtimes, yelps coming from the front porch as he puts her in her place. And, after the last few days, I’m beginning to wonder if our joy with the diddles (“peeps” as Deladis calls them) will last.
The diddles have a mother. A good mother. She free ranged and set 9 eggs through hatching, and has made it with all 9 babies through a week as of today. They are adorable, and we enjoy them like proud grandparents, giving them back to their mother for the complicated part of rearing. This afternoon, however, as I fell into the peace of yoga, I was interrupted by an upset Deladis. “A peep is under the house and she is stuck!”
“What!” I jumped out of my crescent moon lunge and we were out the door in a second. Then, I see Lars – dirt smeared across his face and I see the evidence of him as the culprit of this mess. Deladis confirmed it, as she had watched it from her swing. The diddle jumped under the house for protection as the hen and the rest of her brood scattered around the side of the cabin. The baby was left under the house without the capability of figuring out how to get back out.
First, I go under the cabin. It’s dark – really dark. Then, I see where the sound of the peeping is coming from, and that the floor joists are so low that I will have to army crawl to get to the diddle. Not to mention the diddle is a black one, and I can’t actually see it, just hear it.
I hunt a flashlight. The only one I find is a toy one of the girls’. Tinker Bell. I go back under and realize that this flashlight won’t cut it. I also realize what I have suspected for some time. I am a little put off by tight squeezes. I go back out and call John for a better light and encoragement. He tells me there are no flashlights within a reasonable proximity to me. The diddle’s cries are louder now, and I know I have to suck it up and save that baby. I take the Tinker Bell flashlight and put Deladis on guard outside one of the vent holes in our cinderblock foundation. I take deep breaths and crawl, only hitting my head once, to the diddle. It jumps and runs to a nearby corner. I catch it between the block and a piece of plastic, pick it gently up, and hand it to Deladis who is still waiting outside the vent hole. She then returns the baby to its mother. We are all pleased after the minor freak out.
Then, I just get plain mad. Lars needs to get over himself! He’s well feed, gets plenty of attention, and has all the room and comfort he needs. He is being a party pooper and is disregarding the rules of this family. I guess he thinks he’s old enough now to do what he wants. Well, you know what happens to grown kids when they get old enough to do what they want… ok, just kidding. I won’t make him get his own place. So, I’m left with having to respect his age and realize we a peers now. And, that leaves me where I started, being mad.