fits and starts.

“…do this with humility & discipline.

not in fits & starts,

but steadily, pouring yourselves out for each other in acts of love.” ephesians 4:1-6

 

alright, so this message has a bigger purpose BUT what if the acts of love you need to show are for yourself. and also if maybe, just maybe, a call to kindness and service would be amplified in effectiveness if I started at home; home being myself.

today, I updated the Pursuit of Joy Project post with moments 50 & 51. halfway through. and, to be honest, I’m surprised I have been able to keep up with it. sticking to something isn’t a quality I would list for myself. I guess I get excited about too many things or I hit a roadblock and reevaluate or the enthusiasm dissipates. it’s not that I have trouble committing, it’s that I can’t seem to allow myself the follow through. forever a work in progress. but joy, gladness not based on circumstance (peter 1:8-9), is a full-hearted intention. even if I update a few days late or a few days at a time, instead of posting on a regular schedule. 51 moments of joy in 59 days. i’ll take it.

in typical-of-me fashion, I find that I am subconsciously sorting these moments to make sure I have given everything in my life it’s proper attention. compartmentalizing and balancing are qualities I would list for myself. motherhood moments. friend & partner moments. work or family moments. I am still working on the lack of attachment to circumstance. rather, the lack of attachment to my joy having to belong to others as well as myself; that my happiness should be mutually beneficial. this is a multi-layered realization. at the root, I am grateful to be at a place in my life where I have enough to offer. for many years I did not. but as it extends, I am still not always comfortable giving myself the love I give to others. that’s where I reach too far for the idea of  happiness. it can create resentment and selfishness that are hard to shake.

we/I do this in all sorts of ways. staying busy, being materialistic, seeking companionship/attention (ahem, social media), or competitiveness. it seeps in all the time. and while I think I’ve done a pretty good job of removing most of the exterior negative from my life, the hardest work is still looming.

these shared moments are not any less joyful or appreciated. I don’t think that’s what is being said but I do think that the combination of joy, humility, and discipline is a life goal hat trick achieved by few. so, I set out a new project within a project for myself this week. live more simply and find the magic in that. I want to see what I can cultivate by stripping happiness down to it’s very basic form. to hopefully find a bit more of it. to hopefully find a way to keep sharing it. moments of joy brought to AND from yours truly. this will be an extra challenge with Halloween this week so a few little human moments might trickle in but…

I’ll be back next Monday morning with the results of my week or they can be found on the original post linked above- moments 52-58.

 

warmly,

Eliot.

 

hand me another lemon.

hey life, hand me another lemon.

I dare you.

I’m not really sure if I’m being prepared for the life of an expert lemonade maker or if the universe is so full of sour that we all have to take on this much. but what I want to dive right into this week is how I have been feeling in this culture of “check in on your strong friend.” what I see a lot are the people in our lives who are the first to say how awful *insert struggle/crisis/trauma/grief* is. they offer advice and the occasional, “you’re so tough, this is only preparing you for something better.” I generally, and in the realm of faith, believe them as I am also reminded that this path was designed for me. I am never alone in my struggle; as I can, alternatively, always share in my joy. which brings me to the other people- the ones who cheer and congratulate how far you have come and how big the odds were once you have beat them. a friend who celebrates at the finish line. all these humans, full of kind words and support are necessary. but I’m wondering about the people in the kitchen helping you cut lemons. how very few times I am asked how I am WHILE I am doing the work, processing the feelings, or sitting alone wondering how I will make it all happen. now, don’t get me wrong, I have these humans for which I am grateful that ask me how my heart is and listen and show up. it is the casualness with which we tend only to validate the struggle and the victory that leaves me feeling pretty blah with interacting, most of the time. because no one wants to be uncomfortable or to hear a response loftier than fine.

social media has been an interesting place to observe the lack of appreciation for just being okay when okay is not your norm.

so last week, I took a break from sharing. I wanted to fully enjoy my evenings at home since work has been a huge tornado of 9am- 4pm intensive training days and problem solving meetings. I felt like I was playing catch-up all week. but I also needed a break from social media in general. I’d found an article about self care and shared, alongside it, some tips for friends of people with atypical mental health. I got a whole lot of friends asking if I was okay. I was. but very, very few of those people have ever asked me this before. they needed a flare gun to go off before initiating their kindness. most of the time, that’s gonna be too late. especially when the internet is your highlight reel. I ended up taking the story down. it made me feel guilty or like people assumed my happiness wasn’t real because I was also sad or that they somehow had an open door with which to discuss my stability.

the whole situation gave me weird feels because for me personally, this harvest season has brought with it a crop of highs and lows. in recent days, more external lows and internal highs, thankfully. but I am not one to hide that, even online. it’s sad that I regretted my vulnerability because I have been feeling more comfortable with myself. feeling secure in my ability to thrive not just survive. and with that comes less of a need to reach for validation. not that using social media always implies this, it’s just that I have often found myself aimlessly scrolling looking for the thing that will make me feel included or a page that justifies my thinking. I doubt I’m alone in this mechanism.

reflection is truly a humbling tool. one that I use to break my cycle of comparison. it helps me re-pattern my brain to be able to see beyond immediate obstacles. I want to be able to curate the landscape of my attitude. it is important to me that I honor the duality of each day and pay attention to my emotional response to each situation. this can be a struggle for the bipolar brain- keeping all the wires running and free of unnecessary kinks. documenting moments of my choosing helps to create a way for me to ease through irrational thought processing before it becomes a heightened reaction. this is how I have learned to balance my capabilities with my circumstances.

which is why I started The Pursuit of Joy Project at the beginning of last month. the list has made it to over 25 and I spent the better part of my free time away from social media reading over the moments I selected. (you can find them here) mostly, because I needed to find a clearer head space as I navigate through a couple life situations with inevitably difficult futures. (we are all fine but this mama heart is tired) I am finally finding an emotional place where I’m able to let my shoulders roll back and breathe through each moment for what it is. such a relief it has been to spend less & less time recovering from the lows and more & more time being present with my happiness. it’s nice to be able to share all of it with my humans even on the days I shut down and don’t want to.

takeaway from this week’s post- check on your friends, period.

be the friend that shows up for the in between. know that I ( and those in your life with mental health variances) will probably get by without you. they are filled with so much joy when they don’t have to. I have no idea what I would do without my people. I hope you have people too. if you don’t, you know where to find me. if you have the wrong people, the ones who only show up for the before & after to drink your delicious lemonade… reconsider your energy allotment. just sayin’.

candidly,

eliot.

*note- this is, in essence, my journal. you volunteered to read this. thank you for that. I have no intentions of ranting or educating about mental health. I’m just sharing my experience. not sure why I feel like all my posts need a disclaimer, but here we are.

the laws of harvest.

do you remember the first time you failed at something?

how about the first time you had to live with the consequences of that failure?

when I was kindergarten, I made a parachute out of craft paper & yarn to assist in the free-fall of my twin sister from our playhouse. thought out, to the best of my 6 year old knowledge, I was proud of my contributions to amateur flight and even more proud of my sister’s fearlessness for being the one to jump.

to the surprise of everyone reading, she hit the ground with a thud. our mom was probably mad. the parachute was torn. and my sister was a little banged up; the extent, I cannot recall. but, the potential danger and fear of failing again were scary enough that our first try was also our last. as a memory, the details are fuzzy, but that feeling is not. life often writes the lesson before we believe we are ready.

the contraption failed. we failed. I failed. nothing about humans will ever be as predictable as gravity. but fear of failure swells up in all of us.

the laws of harvest. you will reap what you have sewn. your choices accumulate and cause a ripple effect that can be absorbed by everyone you encounter. this is, obviously, good and bad concurrently as we walk our paths imperfectly. continual works in progress. it’s all about choices, right? choosing to avoid the possibility of failure is also a choice. it says that your faith, faith in all capacities, does not supersede your ego, comfort, or fear. these traits are inherited and shared and adopted. and most importantly, not without consequence.

let me direct this thought on a personal level.

the three littles are now in 7th, 6th, and 4th grade. both girls are in ap classes and the boy says that this year is “way tougher” than last. they have all entered a whole new responsibility tier when it comes to school. I watch my three very different children ride the wave of failure and cope in entirely different ways…

my son is an avoider. a bad test score snowballs into a missing homework assignment because he doesn’t want another bad grade. in his fear, he is unable to see the compacted issue. he uses the mask of indifference and shrinks into a smaller, less capable version of himself to avoid failing again. sigh, my sweet boy.

my middle daughter is the most type-A of the littles but has seemingly learned early on how to be cognoscente of her capabilities. she continues to try harder and is able to brush off a less than ideal grade because she knows in her heart that she did her best. this is equal parts perseverance and, dare I say, ego.

my littlest lady is a true empath. she fears that others failure is also hers, just as she praises their successes with the same passion as she celebrates her own. a feeling that is true but no less cumbersome. she is hard on herself and cautious about failure in a way that is entirely opposite of the rest of her personality.

through them I see my own failures. I see the ways I have chosen stay quiet or rise above or put others first. they are a reflection of the behaviors they see, as am I. so, when I say we are raising each other, I mean it whole-heartedly.

most of parenting has been a big, gigantic mirror in my face. sometimes it isn’t pretty but it is always real. I am trying to teach my littles that their fears are their own to hold on to but that it is a choice to do so. choice comes with responsibility and consequence and can also be shed at any time. even if we baby step into our fears, we are still going in the right direction.

I am also learning that we do not all reap in the same season. results are not immediate. our standards are not universal. someone else’s fear and failure can be manifested in an entirely different way. I can still admit to seeing others’ successes/failures and feeling some sort of way about them. do I always think beyond my expectations? nope.

I’d like to share this as an intention that I’ve set and recently stumbled on. as a reminder to be patient with people but take no shit. because there will continue to be droughts but there will also be harvests bigger than we believe we deserve. and I am no less responsible when I let my fear become habit.

love & light,

eliot.

check in/check out.

I didn’t really have a specific topic to discuss this week. in fact, I almost skipped this week entirely because we have been so damn busy over here. I have an exciting poetry reading this Friday that is occupying most of my free/creative time when we aren’t going from afterschool activities straight to bedtime. but I made a commitment to myself that I would produce content and speak out on whatever was in my heart, at least once a week. so, forgive me if this is a bit disjointed…

about this poetry reading- I do not enjoy public speaking or performing, at all. the element of catharsis is missing for me. but here I am, gearing up for probably the biggest event I’ve spoken at. it’s a lady-centric festival downtown with a stellar lineup of bands, artists, and performers. I’m nervous. I literally wrote my piece this week; a patchwork poem built almost entirely of captions pulled from my instagram over the last year. it is also the first piece I’m attempting to memorize and not read from a notebook with my forehead to the crowd. really nervous. butterflies have been going strong since I started recording my read throughs, which I usually do for creating pauses and emphasis and timing (if you’re curious). anyway, it’s going to be fine. this is the year of big things.

I don’t love performing, why do I do it? that’s been on my mind a lot lately. I think it’s simple- my desire to grow outweighs my fear 2:1 which I really enjoy about myself. maybe it’s a trait I haven’t admired about myself enough. and if I bomb, it was one moment and it’s over. a lesson that preparedness and passion get you to the edge and even if you never jump, the view is usually pretty decent.

along the lines of great views, we are sort of last minute planning a trip for fall break. leaf season in Asheville has been on my bucket list, directly behind blue firefly season in Asheville, for a while. we stopped through on our way to savannah last year and couldn’t wait any longer to go back. this trip is all about relaxing and navigating the forest so I won’t be creating any excel spreadsheets or making a budget. I’m going to see if I can actually enjoy vacation without micromanaging it. wish me luck. my only requests are a hot tub, the infamous Dolly Party mural, and some good food. open to suggestions on the last one so just drop your favorites in the comments.

i’ll wrap this week’s post up with a bit about my ongoing Pursuit of Joy Project. it’s been eye opening how much negative misses you when you open your eyes to finding the joy in other things. sometimes shit just sucks and you have to move past it. thankfully, there have been plenty of moments to jot down. but to be real, it hasn’t been without its trials either. a dear friend lost someone close to her and though it made for unexpected time with her, my heart was heavy with empathy/sympathy/understanding. I’ve also been wrestling a lot with letting go of things that don’t serve me but aren’t outwardly bad- friendships, habits, etc. it can be easier to walk away than to communicate the why’s and learn from them. I am grateful that I’ve grown into a person who can acknowledge the value of both, joy and trial, and I’ve learned how to use my voice effectively. so far September has been kind to me.

like I said in a previous post, this time of year is good for shedding. so I choose to let it and have faith that what is mine will stay.

as it is written, let it be done,

eliot.

part time parent. full time mom.

what do I mean when I say, a part time parent but a full time mom.

my littles are with me sunday evening through friday at 6:30 pm- unless there is no school on Friday. in which case,  they are home sunday evening through friday at 9:00am, per our agreement. it’s not ideal and would never be my preference but allowing them time their other parent comes with sacrifice. and now we are back in school, too. meaning that not only are they with their dad every single weekend but they are gone over 8 hours a day. our quality time is further divided into homework, dinner, bath time, and bed time.

this schedule and the perceived notion that I must have it easier because they aren’t with me everyday has me feelin’ some sort of way .

I know that there are many spaces to be grateful in our situation. they have loving parents who, mostly, agree on the when/what/where’s of their life. I work a flexible job that closes for holidays and gives me time off or at home when I need it. the littles get to do all sorts of fun things with their dad. and it allows for healthy balance in my life that most single parents are not afforded. we are lucky.

BUT, I want to do fun things with them too. sleep in and make pancakes on saturdays. go to festivals and birthday parties. the sorts of activities that can’t be crammed in to the 4 hours I am home between getting off work and sending them to bed.  I do make the most of my weekends but have guilt for doing activities that they could be joining in on.  I try to stay busy and work a second job because it’s too quiet at home when they are gone. every weekend I avoid the internet because I scroll through all the photographic reminders of  things I am missing out on with them. and I even text them an annoying amount to see what they are up to. they really are my best friends and it’s hard to feel as though I never get to actually relax and enjoy seeing how they function as people for a full day at a time.

from an outsider’s thumbnail view, I’m sure it seems as though I live it up while kid free. or that I choose to do things that don’t involve them. maybe it appears to be a rather carefree set up. maybe this blog post is a response to a recent “well-intended” acquaintance who’s kind words left me feeling more sad that anything. I have worked very hard to not care what other people’s opinions of my parenting are or how things look to those outsiders. and to rid myself of the guilt of it all. because it does grant me a lot of free time. and I am grateful for all the cool things I get to do that would otherwise be very difficult. being a single mama is hard work and I am fortunate to be able to balance it with work and friends and leisure. but that does not mean that I wouldn’t drop everything for the chance to have them 7 days a week.

I guess what I’m getting at with all this is that it’s easy to think you see all of what others are doing or that you can ever be in a place to judge the way they do it. I notice the friends and moms who only like the few photos I post of my littles but pay no mind to the other beautiful and creative ways I choose to express myself, as if they are rewarding me for finally showing up. I see you and it’s alright, trust me. even when I do photograph my kids, I choose to put the photos on a more private platform, or omit their real name, because the things I cherish most I elect to do more privately. we tend to make it harder on others as a reflection of our own feelings so I won’t pretend to know why someone gets to decide if I parent enough to be a good mom. but I will say that the time we spend together is not wasted, I just wish there were more of it. I also wish that the mom community were a safer space for those who don’t fit the “happy family” mold. and I know there are lots of other single parents out there who will understand as we navigate the tricky waters of co-parenting. even yet, there are parents who do it completely alone and have no idea what this free time is that I speak of. we are all just trying to get by (my motto, seemingly) and raise good, kind humans. even if we do it part time.

peace & progress,

Eliot.

100 joyful moments.

they say that bad things come in threes. that when it rains it pours. or that you will never be given more than you can handle, even when it feels like you’re drowning. I get frustrated and distracted and even detached. sometimes I feel like it’s 11pm before I get to sit down and everything out of my mouth is negative and covered in thorns. my littles have had to make their own Pb & J for dinner while I take a grown up time out, to salvage what small amount of my sanity still exists. my friends and partner know that I sometimes shut down completely regardless of how good things are around me. and there are more than a few memories that aren’t so sweet.

but, at the end of the day, I hope that I am still able to hold on to at least one moment where love won out over everything else. I’ve decided to share, over the next six months or so, at least 100 of those moments of joy. the simple, the adventurous, the completely silly. inspired by the pursuit of joy project. to hold myself accountable for my own happiness and to cultivate as much of it as possible by calling it when I feel it…

  1. unexpected evenings off, dodging rain, and patio weather {09.01.2018}

2. fireworks {09.02.2018}

3. a full day spent with different groups of friends {09.03.2018}

4. sleeping in on a work day… thanks little humans {09.05.2018}

5. diy spa night with Kiwi & Cookie {09.06.2018}

6. a rainy night in {09.07.2018}

7. surprise lunch & coffee with babe {09.08.2018}

8. all our friends & family together for cookie’s birthday party {09.09.2018}

9. froyo with the littles {09.11.2018}

10. flexing my skills on a new task at work {09.12.2018}

11. a room full of sweet friends supporting my art. {09.14.2018}

12. spending time with a friend who was in town from Chicago {09.15.2018}

13. sunflower fields {09.17.2018}

14. warm brownies. compliments of Chef Kiwi. {09.18.2018}

15. starting a new book {09.19.2018}

16. being in pajamas by 6pm {09.20.2018}

17. half days at home that include finding a new bakery & farmers market hopping {09.21.2018}

18. watching babe DJ the biggest show of her career- also my first big EDM show {09.22.2018}

19. super quick snuggles with Freya & chats with my fav couple ( thegemcitymama.com ) at Oktoberfest {09.23.2018}

20. coffee deliveries & love notes {09.25.2018}

21. playing games with the littles {09.26.2018}

22. grey’s season premiere {09.27.2018}

23. watching kiwi conquer a tough skill at gymnastics {09.28.2018}

24. a full day of adventures with babe including making homemade ravioli and eating dessert on the couch {09.29.2018}

25. taking a selfie that made me feel pretty {09.30.2018}

26. this is us {10.02.2018}

27. getting a comment from a sweet Instagram friend on my blog post {10.03.2018}

28. first attempt at caramel apples with the littles and babe {10.04.2018}

29. meeting new friends while celebrating a new baby {10.06.2018}

30. lunch with my dad, a good hike, and s’mores! full day. {10.07.2018}

31. paid holiday off {10.08.2018}

32. Carillon Park adventure day for fall break {10.09.2018}

33. baking bread in my pajamas. soundtrack by Joni Mitchell {10.10.2018}

34. keeping up with traditions at Kleather’s Pumpkin Patch {10.11.2018}

35. pen pal letters {10.12.2018}

36. Fearfest with the twin & besties {10.13.2018}

37. a Sunday of rest {10.14.2018}

38. little human chats over ice cream sandwiches {10.15.2018}

39. the sunset & james brown {10.16.2018}

40. listening to my friend Tino on WYSO. so cool! {10.17.2018}

41. taking the boy human to his first basketball practice, even though he wouldn’t let me stay and watch. {10.18.2018}

42. getting a shiny new button with kiwi’s gymnastics photo on it (embarrassing mom here I come) {10.19.2018}

43. finally dressing as the Sanderson Sisters with family for my niece’s Hocus Pocus 6th birthday party {10.20.2018}

44. girls day at Kings Island {10.21.2018}

45. making bone broth with my mama {10.22.2018}

46. hugging my sweet little one after our car accident {10.23.2018}

47. reading kind words and prayers from our friends {10.24.2018}

48. sunrise {10.25.2018}

49. volunteering at cookie’s book fair and bringing her lunch to school {10.26.2018}

50. cooking for my friends {10.27.2018}

51. the sun peaking out for our trip to the Renaissance Faire with the littles {10.28.2018}

52. alone time outside before bed {10.29.2018}

53. letting go of a conflict so I could find peace with it instead {10.30.2018}

54. trick or treating! {10.31.2018}

55. morning meditation {11.01.2018}

56. choosing family over everything {11.02.2018}

57. nature therapy {11.03.2018}

58. expressing contentment with an uncertain future {11.04.2018}

59. taking time to stay organized so I don’t get anxious {11.05.2018}

60. rockin’ the vote! {11.06.2018}

61. sleeping a full 8 {11.07.2018}

62. leaving work stress at work and coming home to my own space {11.09.2018}

63. sushi and Netflix in bed {11.10.2018}

64. the littles coming home early {11.11.2018}

65. braving a big family decision/purchase on my own. the adultiest {11.12.2018}

66. getting up 20 minutes earlier than the littles to a quiet house and coffee, even if it was to work extra {11.14.2018}

vive l’avocat.

as if I needed another reason to love avocados.

here’s a bare minimum, crash course on the botanical/plant dyeing trend…

now, I firmly believe that crafting is equal parts perseverance & blind luck. so, despite the fact that every tutorial I read was thick with fancy jargon like molecular structure and ph balance, and had a laundry list of supplies, I embarked on this journey equipped with only six things: avocado skins & pits, filtered water, white vinegar, a (enamel coated) stock pot, my trusty wooden spoon, and some white clothing items I couldn’t bare to toss out.

I have been saving up the pits and any salvageable skins, making sure to scrub each clean. then left them in the windowsill to dry until I had 8 pits and a fair amount of skins. it is said that you should freeze them but I did not.

it is also said that pure, organic materials dye best. which is probably true. but I used what I had, which was a 55% linen- 45% rayon blend tunic that had many a coffee stain on it and a cheap cotton tank I got on clearance at target. since this blog is about personal experience and is, by no means, an education on plant dyeing, I’m gonna go ahead and recommend that you try it with whatever you got and hope for the best. there are also plenty of legit spots on the internet that will recommend pre-treating the fabric and testing the dye with ph strips, but you came here, and I found it to be unnecessary. to each their own.

the quantity of items you are dyeing and how many avocados you have accessible are going to change the variables quite a bit from here, but again, I’ll throw at you what I did and let y’all run with it.

I filled my stock pot about a third of the way up with filtered water and tossed in the avocado scraps. this needs to come to a boil and simmer for at least an hour with the lid on. you will be able to see the color turn from a latte/tan to pink fairly quickly. the intensity of the color will deepen if you’re lucky to a beet pink/purple. that will get you to the bright blush color that I achieved. if you want a lighter tone, shorten the soaking time or use less pits. darker colors can be reached with an overnight soak and/or super saturated dye. trial and error, of course. at this point, you can add in your fabrics of choice, making sure they are covered by enough liquid. I added in two more cups of water as some had evaporated out. stir it around every 30 minutes for the next two hours on a low simmer. the linen fabric was thicker and partially synthetic- in hindsight, I would have let this item marinate a bit longer bc the color took really well but washed out a bit more in the rinse step.

I made several laps of excitement around the kitchen and shouted several proclamations of magic while these colors developed.

nature is pretty cool.

remove the pot from the stove and let it cool down just a bit. a half hour maybe, before adding in the vinegar. I did a 4:1 water to vinegar combo. this will help set the color just like when dyeing easter eggs. give it another good stir and then leave it be. it was a sunny day that allowed for an additional two hours of soaking time on my deck. you can also just set the pot aside anywhere convenient and allow it to cool and soak for as long as you’d like. trial and error, of course. my rule of thumb would be to let it do its thing until the fabric is a few shades darker than what you want the final outcome to be.

for extra fun… while it all rested outside, I grabbed a few mason jars that I had saved from our easter egg plant dye experiment in the spring. just to see what we could make happen. I didn’t put these on the stove at all, sun bath only. and the results were mixed. I’d say the heat is a must going forward. anyway, here are some other good options for dyeing that I’ve tried and tested myself …

  • turmeric and curry- bright yellow
  • coffee and cayenne- rust orange to brown
  • onion skins- range from yellow to brown to orange
  • dried chamomile flowers- a very pale green/grey
  • red/purple cabbage leaves- bright blue
  • cocoa powder- a mauve brown
  • spinach leaves- pale yellow
  • hibiscus petals- bright pink

now, here are some untested ingredients that the fancy bloggers say will work: beets, black beans, almost any berry, cosmos flowers, goldenrod, dandelion roots, or onion skins.

Godspeed, but you’re on your own with these for now.

the last steps are to rinse with cool (not cold OR lukewarm) water until the excess runs clear and most of the vinegar smell is gone. I’d suggest air drying at least part of the way. I put mine on the drying rack outside in the shade but you can toss it in the dryer if you must.

after care tips- hand wash gently in cold water. air dry or toss on low heat.

see, that was pretty simple. I did this whole process while taking small breaks on a work from home day. it could have been even less hands on if I weren’t so fascinated by the whole thing. it has opened up a whole new world of dyeing possibilities, especially with spill-prone little humans. (and spill-prone adult humans too, for that matter)

I may never look at white fabric the same again!

 

À plus,

Eliot.