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.

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}

32 flavors of grace.

word of the year:

grace (noun).

  1. elegance or beauty of form, manner, motion, or action:
  2. a pleasing or attractive quality or endowment:
  3. favor or goodwill.
  4. mercy; clemency; pardon:
  5. moral strength:

my year started in a flood of beginnings. not just your typical new year’s resolutions but a divorce, a new job, and a new(ish) relationship all at once. pile that on to my existing mama life schedule and my forever attempt to maintain balance. to say I was overwhelmed, would be a gigantic understatement. being on the precipice of change can be the most exciting but I believe it’s how you hold it together while these changes unfold that says the most about you.

I think winter may be the best time for such things, honestly. the harshness of the cold is a reminder that it takes work to thrive. we can sit in our times of dormancy and allow the growth to stir below the surface but we cannot forget to thaw and bloom. it is easy to allow the ground to hold a grudge against the sun for all those grey days. so, I chose GRACE as my word of the year, hoping that Spring would arrive in abundance and summer and I would have a good laugh about all that wind and rain. surely, with many definitions to choose from, Grace, would be fitting for all the seasons had to offer me.

without diving too far into any one of my big life changes, I will say I have learned a lot:

a lot about taking up space & taking my time.

about asking for what I need and being open to actually receiving those things.

about how I wish to curate my life.

as a mama, I have three sets of eyes on all choices I make. I had somehow convinced myself that it was better to be content with what I had than to fail at reaching for better, for demanding better. I had not allowed myself the grace in failing. moving through these new things in my life, I’ve had to start paying attention to my phraseology. self-talk can be a mortifying mirror with which our kids reflect back how we feel about ourselves. I made a conscious effort to speak to myself the way I speak to them- with trust, honesty, and a realistic expectation of our capabilities. I watched my kids talk gentler with me as I became more open with them about how our future would be playing out. it’s always humbling to watch them learn the lessons alongside me.

I have also tried my best to invest the same communication with my partner, my friends, and all the other grown humans I encounter. the sooner we are all on the same page, the sooner we can move forward with positive energy. but you cannot force it. adults…it’s gonna be a struggle. Grace is not a luxury we often grant ourselves which projects into something we are not able to grant others. and, at the end of the day, you can only do that for yourself. it’s up to everyone else to perceive and reciprocate. once it’s tossed into the universe, you have to let it play out. which has been another lesson for me this year. I am not always at fault for how things come back to me. there are far too many factors involved. this is the grace of movement, of allowing things to come and go. I know I do not always make this easy, for myself or for others. not everyone gets the same dose of grace. but it has been a new practice of mine to apologize to all of us, where I otherwise would have retreated.

as summer ends and fall arrives to lay down all the “stuff” of this year, I can honestly say it’s sorting itself out. the divorce is final and my brand new, chosen last name (see first blog post) is an actual legal thing. (screams internally) the job is a most perfect fit for our family even when the schedule and work drives me insane. and the relationship is pleasantly private and managing to survive the twists and turns even when it has done the most evolving. I have seen how these changes were meant for me to endure concurrently. it was less about the what of the chaos and more about remaining who I am despite it.

I am not without failure. the lessons are still pouring in. my story still holds a lot of forgiveness.

and this year was hard. real hard. but I think I’m ready for the harsher seasons and the promise of another year to grow, fuller and wilder.

gracefully,

Eliot.

mama, do my thighs touch?

the first time I questioned the validity of my body, of the space it took up, I was in middle school. a boy told my best friend that she had nice legs. he said not a word to me. I sat back down at my desk watching the way my pale skin spread and covered the chair. took inventory of the other preteen legs and how they held shape, looked more tan, and had Less. with this simple situation the fascination began with my need to be less as a way to be more. at 32, I, of course, know better that to blame the boy for triggering this mental and emotional pattern that would continue my whole life.

this morning I sent my middle little girl off to sixth grade. clothed in enthusiasm and pride in her outfit choice. a girl prepared to take on middle school. she is strong and smart and funny. her love of herself extends just as far as her love of her friends and family. I admire and envy this quality in my sweet girl. but, do I fear that the end of her self-love is near? honestly… yea. it has me dissecting their conversations and paying special attention to how I talk about myself in front of them.

I over heard my youngest ask her sister if a pair of her shorts were too short the other day. the dress code for school was on the brain as we rapidly approached the end of their summer wardrobe freedom. I let them wear whatever they want, for the most part, and feel that school policies are antiquated and sexist. but, that’s a story for another day. as they rifled through their closet putting nothing back where they found it and executing the highest pitch excitement two girls can muster, I crept nearer hoping they wanted my advice. instead, my 9 year old spun around in her cartoon underwear atop a pile of discarded selections and asked, “mama, do my thighs touch when I stand like this? maybe that’s why I only like leggings and not jeans mom.”

now, let’s pretend that I had a reasonable response. that I was able to correct her for even asking because she’s beautiful and perfect in this body of hers. that I hugged her and reminded her how loving herself is a harder lesson to relearn as an adult so this negative talk had better get squashed. but, I sat on her bed and folded up clothes and asked her who told her that it mattered. I knew the answer. she had heard me on vacation complaining about my “bikini body” and how my thighs used to touch when I was fit and how I was thankful that being “thick & healthy” was in style now because these thighs of mine are blah, blah, blah.

having to answer for my bad habits at the cost of my girl’s is a game changer.

I have always talked very openly about my eating disorder recovery. doing a yearly check-in where I purge my thoughts and feelings on this self-propelled process of calling a thing what it is and making it better. this works for me. I know that I have to come home to myself so it’s best that I keep it tidy and treat it with care. up thirty pounds (give or take) from my smallest adult weight, I posted a transformation photo a last year. I had done a few modeling spots and was feeling confident in my curves and the new found sexiness that I could own. tucked away were the less present obsessive behaviors. diverted were times when I would restrict or limit. for the most part I was in control. I counted last year a success. enough to say I was moving through the disease as a battle and into it as a place of progress.

deep sigh. this is recovery.

being better has meant coming to terms with ED as an evolving disease. as it has morphed and disguised itself into healthy habits and #treatyourself and indulging in a society of often misguided self-care. I am starting to recognize that my behaviors have shifted from actual addictive behavior to an addiction to recovery. whoa, sounds weird, but in a social media climate that shoves natural lifestyle and acceptance down your throat it is easier to keep up the facade of recovery, even when I am not feeling at home in my skin. the mom community is perhaps the worst place for it, in my opinion. the life we live becomes only a small sliver of the life we curate for others to admire, criticize, and emulate. as if raising little humans isn’t hard enough, we also have to be picture perfect mamas with organic meals and eco friendly homes and little humans clad in conscious clothing. in reality, it has been a way for me use my disease as fashion, as trend. it demands to be stated that this is my experience only. truth- as hard as I am still working to maintain it is a bit discouraging to admit that I would love to lose weight if it weren’t so damn cool to be happy with who you are.

ultimately, I really am okay with where I am at with my body. I practice taking up space. the language in which I speak to myself is dramatically different, not perfect, but better. I keep myself, my home tidy.

call my current place in recovery regression, if I must, but I also call it awareness and grace. because I’m choosing to see the slip ups as an opportunity to change the way my girls will learn to love themselves. stopping to check myself because it is clear that I am already passing along some negative habits. by honoring the bad with the good and knowing which wins.