Please. Do not tell me what self-care is and what it is not.

There are a few posts going around that have inevitably infiltrated my social media newsfeed, seemingly dozens of times over. They all talk about how going to the grocery store or target, by yourself doesn’t count as “Self-Care.”And I tried to get on board with it. I did. But something just didn’t sit right with me.

And I figured out why…Because it does count. If you want it to, it does. If it makes you feel good and rejuvenated….It does. Stop telling me it doesn’t. Stop forcing the idea that it isn’t enough. Stop telling me that I’m not doing “self-care” right.

With that being said, I’m not you. Everyone is different. Everyone has different needs to be fulfilled. None more or less valid than the other. So, if it doesn’t do it for you; bring you peace contentment..than by all means, pursue other endeavors. No judgement. You do you. But leave me out of it.

Now, the basis of the posts I’ve read is that these tasks are chores. And performing a chore for your family doesn’t count. And if you do take time for yourself you feel guilty for leaving your family.

I feel guilt for everything. I say “I’m sorry” more often than your average Canadian. And I’ve closely, introspectively thought about this for days. And when I think of the “guilt” they are referencing, in context, to me, it more closely resembles empathy. It is a weird, cross-breed of two traits that humans can possess. And it deserves a word in and of itself. We’ll it guiltathy.

I don’t feel guilt for leaving my children to be by myself for a little while, necessarily. I more so feel empathy for the person watching my children. Not that they are a couple of heathens, but watching children is hard. Two kids, ages 2 and 5 months is tricky. I know! I’ve been there. Every day. And that’s where the empathy comes from, right? You pray that they are good. You hope that they take their naps. And use their nice words and listening ears. You will them to be the little angels you know they are when you’re not around. Because you know how hard it is when they aren’t.

The other day, both kids went to daycare for the first time. We just started sending our 5 month old a couple of days a week. After dropping them off I came home sat down, enjoyed a cup of coffee and watched the Today show. I then had the most leisurely shower I have taken in, perhaps a year. And it was incredible. I came out feeling like a new woman. It may have been the fact that I shaved my legs unhurriedly and didn’t miss nearly as many spots as I normally do. It may have been the fact that I was able to think up some creative writing things that had been floating around my head. It may have been the loud singing echoing through the upstairs. It was me.. I was singing… It doesn’t matter what it was, all that matters is that it was enough. For me.

And perhaps tomorrow it won’t be. And I’ll have to find something new. Maybe I’ll come back to those posts and try and get some ideas. Regardless of how this parenting/self-care thing pans out, I don’t think mothers should be told “you’re doing it wrong” right now. We’re all trying our damnedest here.

A call to action lends itself to tough conversations

I don’t usually comment on issues such as the ones plaguing our country lately. However, the above image called to me so furiously, I simply have to.

When I watched the video of George Floyd being murdered, my eyes filled with tears. I shook my head, and silently begged for the cop to take his knee of Mr. Floyds neck. Even though I knew the outcome. The headline said it all. But when he cried out “Mama,” my heart imploded. The tears came and didn’t stop. It was my call to action.

I am a white woman from Calais, Maine. The second whitest state in our nation and the 9th whitest city in that state. When I say, I know not of what I speak, that is an understatement. I have no idea how Black people feel right now. I couldn’t begin to fathom. But I do know how I feel. And that feeling compels something in me that I have never experienced with such urgency. I must start speaking up.

I did yesterday. For the first time, with someone I love very much. Someone who I don’t talk about things like this with. Our views differ greatly on most hot button issues. When I called, this person was upset. While it wasn’t about George Floyds death; somehow, the conversation digressed. I remained calm and quiet for a long time. I listened to them go on a diatribe filled with ignorance and hate. And while they were unraveling, I took a moment to plot. Plot the absolute best way to rebuke their sentiments.

Throughout my life I’ve always taken great pride in my ability to connect with people. I don’t know a lot about many things, but I know enough about enough things that I’m able to talk with just about anyone. I’ve always found that speaking to a subject that resonates with someone creates a bond. A lasting connection that will carry through to whatever type of relationship becomes of it. I’ve also found that it may be the best way to have people hear what you’re saying when differences in opinion occur.

So, when they were finished, I told this person that they were one of the most compassionate people I knew. Something I knew they are proud of. But the feelings that they had just expressed didn’t reflect that. I reminded them of the conversation we had the other day about how lucky we were to be born in such a beautiful state. And then I brought them into the present. I said that that when god was handing out straws the day we were born, we drew the long one. We were born white Americans. And if it hadn’t gone in our favor. If we had drawn the short straw. Been born a minority, or in a war-torn country; that I knew they would’ve done whatever it takes for their family to feel safe. To know that they were equal. To not have to live in fear. Things got quiet after that. I don’t know if what I said had an impact. I suspect it did a little. But I do know that I will continue to speak up. To whomever may be challenging me.

With all that being said; the most difficult conversation I had, was the one with myself. Telling myself that it was time to start talking. That being silent and not standing up for what was right was just as bad as the racist population. As I mentioned at the beginning, I don’t talk about these sorts of things often. And that is simply because of ignorance on my part. I worry that the words I use to articulate these thoughts and feelings may not be right or respectful. I do not know any black people well. And I am ashamed of that. If you are a POC and are reading this; I truly welcome any and all feedback. More than anything these events have taught me that I need to educate myself better. Please feel free to reach out to me in any way.

Toddlers are the ultimate influencers

While their audience is small it is a captivated one. Parents, day care providers, immediate family. “He loves trucks” I’ll say, and without hesitation, a new truck will promptly find its way into our home.

We are left hanging on their every like and more often than not, dislike. Their trends tend to be fleeting and impulsive. Sometimes lasting no more than a week. We are held captive by their giggles of delight or their screams of displeasure.

My husband and I are lucky though. We have yet to hit the stage where a trip to the store results in a meltdown over an unpurchased toy. Currently his most passionate trends tend to be of the edible nature. He is food motivated. Consistently in the 97th percentile for height and weight. He just wants a banana when we go to the grocery store. But we know it’s coming. We catch glimpses of it from time to time. Usually when a nap is missed.

Its inevitable. The LEGO trend, or Minecraft, or whatever the commercials are hocking. Whatever the other kids have (see? Influencers…) We’ll cross that miserable bridge when we get to it. Like so many before us. And with just as much grace. Absolutely none.

Anticipation.

What an odd thing, antipacation. It has so many different connotations. The anticipation of Christmas morning as a kid, and even now as a parent. It evokes a sense of excitement, something magical. But anticipating news from a doctor’s office comes with a certain sense of dread. It can be good or bad, and either way it feels just about the same physically. But no matter what, I can’t say the word without hearing Carly Simon’s voice. Antici -pay -ay -tion.

My husband and I are expecting our second child in May. Our first son, Nikola, was 5 weeks early. And because he was so early he had a mandatory stay in the NICU. Couple that experience with a tough couple of days in the maternity unit and it has led to an unexpected reaction on my part.

This second pregnancy wasn’t planned necessarily. While my husband and I wanted a second child, this one came a bit sooner than we had discussed. And at the first hint of those telling symptoms, I started to feel something emotionally that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. At first, I was in denial. I didn’t take a pregnancy test for days even though it was clear I was expecting. That should’ve been my first clue that something was up. Eventually I did, and while there was certainly excitement, it came with an overwhelming sense of trepidation.

Every mother has a birth story. And most love to tell theirs. I do not. If I try, I leave parts out. Either because of modesty, or because I’m already crying too hard. At our first doctors appointment, I cried hysterically. And then at our second, and third. I tried so hard to communicate to my doctor what I was feeling. He would try to assure me that it wouldn’t be the same this time. But to no avail. My crying continued far beyond the doctors appointment. It was every night, and throughout most days. People would want to talk about the baby, and I’d stop them. Just the thought of going through what we did last time overwhelmed me more than I could have ever fathomed. The anticipation of it all….

And so that’s where I’ve been mentally. Trying to turn the anticipation of this momentous event that will forever change and shape our lives, from bad to good. It’s been a long road, 6 months to be exact, but I think I am almost there. And because of that, the fog I’ve been walking in has seemingly cleared, and I was able to do this post. It’s incredible how much weight an emotion like that can carry. And you only truly realize it once its lifted.

When is an appropriate time to call yourself a writer?

Hi, my name is Darci and I’m a ___

When someone asks what you do, what do you say? Your profession, I assume. But, what if your chosen profession doesn’t entirely encompass ALL that you do?

I love my dayjob. At this point, I am quite content in saying that it is my career. Can I be two things? Can I be a Client Service Associate for a wonderful company in the Wealth Management industry and a writer? If that is in fact, what I am; A writer. Of course! But when is it prudent to declare it?

Where does the title of writer, or blogger, or whatever you love doing come into play? Is that reserved for only when someone asks you about your hobbies?

Do you get to lay claim to the title of your choosing when you make money from it? I suspect that most people would say that seems like an appropriate time. But, if that’s the case then does the $.37 I’ve made from advertisements on this blog count? Probably not….

So where does that leave me. Little, old, self-centered me. I’m not selling anything. My following, while they are some of the most lovely people I’ve never met, is moderate, at best. I have no discernible talent or skill I can offer to anyone as a training tool. I am nothing short of me. Someone who enjoys writing, sharing stories, and of course, blogging. This is what I do, for now. And for some weird, inexplicable reason; I want people to know I do it. It gives me a sense of pride and accomplishment. And more than anything, I love it.

I know that nobody has the answers for the questions above. It is a personal decision. It’s whatever I feel comfortable with. And maybe what this all boils down to – Being uncomfortable. And I’m uncomfortable because I doubt myself. I doubt that what I do justifies me proclaiming myself to be a blogger. Or a writer, or whatever it is that I am. I have doubts in my ability. Doubt in my tenacity to do or be something better. Doubt will eat you alive if you let it. It will keep you from being who you are, or who you’re meant to become. But most importantly, it will keep you from achieving your goals. And I for one, resolve to not let that happen. So.

Hi, my name is Darci and I write a blog.

The Ebb and Flow of Blogging

I can not possibly write one more post about not knowing what to write. I can’t. I mustn’t. But the words keep coming. And this post keeps taking it’s inevitable shape.

Then comes the wishful thinking: Will this be the start of a blogging spree? Will this post send me into a frenzy of creative inspiration, the likes of which my little page has yet to see? With these questions; a glimmer of hope.

Writing to write, they say, is one of the best ways to combat the blank head space that can happen in the world of creative writing. Start with a sentence. Just one. And it will take off. That’s what they say anyway…

Creatively speaking, I’ve been riding the coattails of my last post. It was a personal one about the loss of a loved one. I posted it to my Facebook page and was shared by many who knew my step-father. It was heartfelt and honest. And well-received. That was published 29 days ago…. 29 days without post.

Normally, I’d wait for inspiration to strike. That’s my favorite way to write. Feverishly. But today, I HAD to write something. Anything will do. Do you ever have that feeling? In your writing – do you ever feel like you MUST put something down, for your own….I don’t know.. mental health? I don’t know if thats it really. I don’t know what to call it. Do you?

But I feel like something different is afoot. For the first time, maybe ever, it’s not so much about views or likes. This post is purely for the sake of doing something creative. So, I am just going to send it out into the WordPress universe. And I hope that my dear friend, the spark, finds her way home to me. Wish me luck.

Grieving For Two

When you have a child, you think about all the little things that will change. You try and mentally prepare yourself for different situations. Think about how you might handle them. But there are so many to prepare for. You can’t possibly think of them all. And you only realize it when you find yourself faced with one.

We lost a family member yesterday. My step-father. He fought a battle that not many could have endured. But somehow, he did. His desire to keep going was always because of his grandchildren. He had big plans for them. He was going to take them places, or plant a garden, or start an orchard. Something. But thats, without a doubt, why he persevered the way that he did. For as long as he did. He didn’t want to miss an opportunity with any of them. And maybe it’s just me, but he seemed to have a special bond with my son. His pal.

I think that’s why his death is so hard. You never want your loved ones to suffer. You never want them to live a life less than. And as his health declined rapidly over the last few weeks, those around him started the grieving process. But, for me, it was different this time.

Not only am I grieving for myself. For the man I had known all my life. A man who was kind, generous, and a constant dreamer. But I grieving for my son.

Nikola loved his Pa. He loved him so so much. I have never known a baby to sit so contently for hours on someone’s lap, but he did. He loved it. Nikola would sit an listen to his Pa talk about all the adventures they were going to go on since he was born. He would look up at him, eyes wide, and just take it all in. Never wiggling, never crying. Just sitting and watching.

I think that what’s making this so hard. Knowing how much Nikola loved him. And while he is just a baby.- Only 14 months, I know that he knows something is different. We were at my mom’s on Sunday, Barry was already in hospice, and Nikola looked at her and said “Papa.” And he said it again this morning when he was playing with a toy Barry had gotten him. He’s a smart little boy.

And so, this is one of the things. One of the things that is different now. I didn’t see it coming, I didn’t think about it. But, here we are. Barry didn’t want people to be sad. He said many times in the last couple weeks that he had lived an incredible life and did all the things he wanted to do. And I think we can find comfort in that.

Extra-Ordinary Love, part 2

Nikola has always been an affectionate baby but lately he seems to have an agenda when dolling out kisses. He has learned that if he gives you a kiss and then asks or points to something, he’s more apt to get it. Whether it be a set of keys you’re fairly certain he’ll lose or if he wants you to play Baby Shark for the umteenth time. With his chubby little hands, knuckle dimples and all, he’ll grab either side of your face and pull you towards his. His mouth open as wide as a largemouth bass. And then, there it is. The kiss that makes you melt, over and over again.

He knows exactly how to manipulate your heart strings. He is smart and perfectly mischievous in the most adorable way. And it’s one of the things I love most about him.

The most masterful linguist, the most articulate wordsmith, wouldn’t be able to scratch the surface of the feeling that is loving your child. It is indescribable in every way. What it means. How it feels. It’s depth, It’s reach. It’s pull. All of it. It is entirely different from every other kind of love that exists. And I understand how incredibly lucky I am to feel it all day, every day.

You don’t know what unconditional love is. You may say you do, but if you don’t have a child, you don’t know what that is. But when you experience it, it is the most fulfilling ever. ”    Regina King

Beginners Bloggers Block

Originally posted on July 17th, 2017. And as I approach the two year mark of this post, I wanted to share it again. It was, and has continued to be, my most popular. I find myself referring back to it often when I need a little motivation. And I hope it provides the same for you.

I started out strong. Just over eight months ago.  I was blogging often, having a fairly clear, concise point with each post.  The feedback I got was amazing.  People told me that what I was writing was relatable and how they looked forward to my posts. But, as the weeks went on, I found myself blogging less and less and less.  At one point going more than a month without posting a single thing.

I would still go to WordPress almost every day.  Just under the “Reader” tab.  I would scroll through my saved categories, spending a majority of my time under “Blogging”.   A common post I’d see would fall along the lines of “So, I haven’t posted in a while.” or “Things have been really hectic lately and I haven’t logged in”.  Listen, I get it. I do.  Life gets busy and things come up.  But I couldn’t help but wonder…  Were they really too busy for days, weeks, on end or maybe it’s because they didn’t have something to say? Something they were proud of, or inspired by, or excited about. And by no fault of their own necessarily.

It’s so very easy to rely on an excuse, rather than admit that you’ve maybe lost motivation.  Or perhaps, you’ve been looking for inspiration and have come up empty handed.  I find that so many of my posts have come to fruition because I was inspired by something.  Something happened or I read something.  Whatever it was, was so amazing that it just compelled me to write. To tell the WordPress world all about it.

A few weeks ago, I got the blogging itch.  The one where you need to write something down, purely for the sake of writing.  But, I didn’t know what to write about.  I needed inspiration in real bad way.  So I went over to  Dream Big, Dream Often, to see what the author had been up to. He has a fantastic blog.  Every day he publishes posts that are not only thought-provoking, but also entice engagement from a seemingly very diverse audience.  I’m pretty new to this, but even I know that is no small feat.  And as I scrolled and read, there it was. A simple blog post, about nothing really. It was maybe 3 or 4 sentances long.  In the post, he had asked a question about social media usage. I answered, and in my response, I typed the title of this post.  That’s all I needed, I had my inspiration.

When inspiration hits, there’s no other way to describe it other than a spark.  When I have an idea for a post that I’m excited about, there is nothing that will stop me from writing, editing, revising and hitting that beautiful blue “publish” button.  My eyes light up, you can see the wheels turning and from there, my fingers glide over the alphabet keys with the utmost of ease.  You never know where the spark will come from or when it will strike.  But thankfully, inevitably, it does.  Whether it’s slight or fierce, sooner or later, you’ll have a creative urge that will bring you back from that merciless thing called writers block.

What’s your inspiration? Do you have a place you go or something you read? How do you create your spark?

Help or Hindrance? The Enneagram Test

A few years ago, while driving, I came up to an intersection. To my left there were about 10 cop cars, lights swirling and police officers with guns drawn. A man was standing with his hands raised and he was yelling. He said “I have PTSD. Don’t you understand? This is why police are killing so many people, you don’t listen!” It was clearly an intense situation. And in that split second – my first thought was; “I should probably get out to see if I can help”. The thought just washed over me. I couldn’t control it. And thankfully, it went as quickly as it came.

During my lifetime, I have put myself into countless situations I have almost immediately regretted. Because, simply, I can’t help myself. Sometimes my offers of assistance are not well thought out and are more often than not, just instinctual. I want to help. I want to fix it. Whatever it is. And now I know why.

I first heard about the Enneagram Test on the Chelsea Handler podcast “Life will be the death of me.” Her therapist recommended she take it. I’m not one for personality quizzes but the theory behind it sounded interesting. Then, a few days ago when I was checking out some new blogs, there it was again – the test. For it to come up twice in two days was too curious for me to pass up. So, I took it.

The test is a simple one. Its origins date back to the 4th century AD (that’s crazy, eh?) It’s based on the idea that there are 9 basic personality types. The Perfectionist, Helper, Performer, Romantic, Observer, Skeptic, Enthusiast, Challenger, and Mediator. The gives you a series of questions, asking you to rate it mostly true or mostly false. Some questions are easy, and some are more introspective. The real dig-deepers.

You can take the test for yourself HERE

My results are in:

I am Type 2, The Helper – While that sounds like a lovely thing to be; it certainly has its fair (and unflattering) share of “Challenges”. And my god…I have never read anything more accurate.

Type 2 people tend to:

  • Believe that people’s love for them depends on what they do for them and what role they play in their lives
  • Make a huge effort to be an important part of the lives of others
  • Forms social ties easily and enjoys company
  • Will always lend a helping hand
  • Sacrifice himself for others in order to validate self-worth

Type 2 Strengths

  • Caring
  • Helpful
  • Relationship-Oriented
  • Generous
  • Sensitive to others feelings
  • Empathetic
  • Lively

Those are some the nice things. They always start with the nice things.

Type 2 Challenges

  • Won’t communicate needs, expects people to just notice it themselves. And when that doesn’t happen, feels disappointment and resentment.
  • Proud
  • Requires the approval of others
  • Intrusive
  • Demanding
  • Emotional and Hysterical

I have a lot to work on. These are not the personality traits I want to possess. And here’s the kicker: I have had the title of this post saved in my drafts Since January 10th, 2017…. I think, perhaps I’ve always known that this behavior is a problem. And now, I just have the proof.

So, tell me. What is your number? How do you feel about it? Did you think you might be a different number? If so, why?