Day Off

It’s 5 P.M. and I have decided I’m taking the day off, today.  Between the Kindergartener crying before school, the toddler’s epic battle at nap time and the almost 4 year-old locking us all out of the bathroom, I’m declaring myself done for the day.

My patience level is at a negative zero and I’m tired of expecting myself to somehow dig out another ounce.  Today, I just want to go back to being me before children.  It’s impossible I know, and not something I’m going to want once I see them all sleeping peacefully on the baby monitor later, but right now, I just want to pretend that I don’t have to always think about my actions all of the time.

I don’t want to set any more examples today of how to keep your cool when you really want to blow your lid.  I don’t want to care about many bites of healthy food they eat, how much screen time they are getting, or the size of their poop in the potty.

I’m dreaming of binge-watching my favorite TV shows, of long, uninterrupted phone conversations, and eating junk food without having to hide it.  I’m going to imagine myself sleeping until it gets boring, reading until I get a headache, and shopping in a speciality boutique store just because I can.

Tomorrow, I’ll grab my coffee and get back on the parent horse- making sure my kids eat their protein for breakfast, clean up after themselves, and behave like good citizens.  But today, I’m giving myself a break.  I’ll go through the motions tonight to feed them and get them to bed, but if all hell breaks loose, I. don’t. care. because. I’m. done. today.  Join Me!

62091_829193168159_1166235_n.jpg
Pre-Baby Days

My Children, My Teachers

“Honour thy father and thy mother.” One of the 10 Commandments. Most of us were raised to regard our parents as our superiors.  “Because I said so” is an oh-so familiar phrase in most households. We consider our children OURS. They belong to us. It is our job to guide them.

But what if we, instead, regard our children as our teachers?

I’ve been reading a great deal of parenting books this summer: The Conscious Parent and The Awakened Family both by Dr. Shefali, The Whole Brain Child by Drs. Siegel and Bryson are just a few. Very honestly, I typically feel resistant to pick them up and read them. I fight a feeling of eye-rolling, as if to say “Don’t I do enough, already? I hardly have time to read as it is, do I really want to spend my time thinking more about my children?” And yet, I am left with a sense of clarity after every page. A tiny shift in perspective that feels like a fresh breath of air.

Instead of only focusing on the wisdom we have to bestow on our offspring, what if we opened our heart to the lessons they are teaching us every day? For instance, patience. Slowing down so they can keep up when we walk, slowing down our speech so they can understand, slowing down our schedules so that we have time to marvel at their magnificence. Slowing down when we rush them to get their shoes, jackets and seatbelt on. Witnessing them learn. Viewing the wonder of the world from their eyes.

Or how about our capacity to love? Our hearts have never experienced a love this fierce. We love them so much that when they disappoint us we feel it personally within our own hearts, as if it is a reflection of us. Perhaps it is. Perhaps rather than focusing our anger on them, we could open our hearts to the lesson it has taught us on how to be a better parent. Perhaps we could learn to love ourselves as much as we love them.

Forgiveness. Murderers have parents who still love them, in spite of their evildoings. Maybe we can learn to forgive others or even ourselves with the grace we give our own children.

When we start to witness our children as our teachers, we release the pressure of parenting perfectly. We wait, we watch, we consider and we enjoy.  We grow as they grow and love them not only for who they are, but also for all they have taught us.

YR8A6466-cvaughan.jpg

Pruning

13502134_10103049610088809_1890814083196956111_n.jpg

Pruning- “Trim by cutting away dead or overgrown branches or stems, especially to increase fruitfulness and growth.”*

Pruning is a task that is not fun to do and yet is so fun to watch the effect of having done so. A flowering bush once weighed down with too many blossoms, some way past their prime, returns to its glory with new buds, intoxicating the surrounding air with its fresh fragrance.

We know this to be true of plants, so why is it so hard for us to prune the rest of our life?

Old relationships that we’ve dragged along, just because we’ve always done so.

Extra-curriculars that helped us at one time but now seem to be an extra burden.

We add and add to our plate without ever taking-away and we find ourselves drowning.

Perhaps it is because we are afraid.  What if we need that dead blossom one day?  What will our life look like without it?

We will never know until we let go.

We must take the chance of channeling our energy into that which is thriving- new buds, new life that bring with it the sweetest of fragrances and the relief that we are truly focusing on that which is growing, not that which is past its time.

Grab your shears.  Take a look at your life as a whole.  Where do you want to focus your energy and growth?  What do you need to let go of?

Make the cut and feel the sweet relief of pruning.

 

*Oxford University Press. The Oxford American College Dictionary. Published G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2002.

 

Harmony

Is it just me or is your mind running?

Can’t sleep, can’t stop thinking about that thing that keeps you tossing and turning.

What to do?  What to say?  How to react?

I don’t know about you, but for me, I’m always seeking peace and harmony.

And what I’ve learned is that you *cannot* control the other person or party.

You have power in your words and actions.

So I send love, peace and harmony.

And expect nothing in return.

Because it’s not about that.  It’s about what I have to give.

And at the end of the day, I choose what I receive.

Love, Peace, and Harmony.

YR8A4950-cvaughan.jpg
Camille Vaughan Photography 

 

 

Hibernation

It happens, often following a tumultuous period. The retreat. The silence and solace in solitude. Time to hide and heal. Time to regroup and regain strength. Time to hibernate.

Time passes and slowly, we peek our heads out from our shells. Testing the waters, finding our groove.

Timid at first but eventually, we find the energy to overcome and return.

To the sunlight. The fresh air. The breeze. The journey.

Take your time, unapologetically, and in time, you will resurface.  Born again.

YR8A5583-cvaughan 4.15.51 PM.jpg

 

Camille Vaughan Photography 

The Comfort of Wrinkles

I wish my mind could draw a picture for you, of the hand that is so familiar to me.  It’s feminine, thin, elderly, bony.

I asked her if my hands would look like that if I kept playing the piano and she laughed.  But here’s the secret:  I wanted them.

Those hands represented practice.  They represented wisdom.  They sounded like soulful music and felt like velvet.

Mary Brooke taught me piano for 5 years but her wisdom endures.

Age is beauty.  It is fortune.  It is wealth.

Mature hands represent years lived.  Years practiced.

Wrinkles are beautiful.  Wrinkles are comfortable.

image1.JPG
My inspiration, my dad! 

The Includer

1931068_1068135343251_7397_n.jpg

An outsider.  A wannabe.  A poser.  Me, ages 8-15.  A tattletale.  A teacher’s pet.  A follower.

They called me “mosquito bites” for my budding breasts and wrote L.D. on my shoes before I even knew what “learning disabled” meant.

I befriended some of the bullies in later years and they asked why I always brought up the past- I didn’t have an answer then but now I know.  While my past does not define me today, it shaped the person I have become: an includer.

It’s understandable why someone might rather forget the painful things that happened to them in the past; however, it is by working through these memories, we are better able to understand the lessons they have taught us.  If we focus solely on our anger, regret, or sadness, we miss the phoenix that rose from the ashes- we fail to recognize ourselves as survivors with the ability to overcome and become better because of it.

But not all of us do- it is only by conscious choice.  By remembering.  By observing our behaviors since.  How did those things affect the way we speak and act now, even subconsciously?

I didn’t have an answer for the person who teased me, then, but I have an answer now.

I bring up those painful memories because I realize that the loneliness I felt when I was in middle school is something I never want anyone else to ever feel.  I relive the tears spilled in an effort to empathize with the blackest sheep in the room.  I find some way to welcome them- some common ground.  I want them to know they are not ignored, they are noticed and they matter.  They are important to someone.

Five years out of teaching, I can now say I think that is why my students loved me.   Because I loved them.  I met them where they were and I celebrated them for who they were and wanted to become, regardless of how vastly it differed from me.

And I wouldn’t have been able to do that if it hadn’t been for my miserable formative years.

I am no longer an outsider.

I am an includer.

Abandoned

YR8A6936-Edit-cvaughan.jpgConfused.  Devastated.  Lost.  Like a family dog, unexpectedly dropped off on the side of the road, I have felt abandoned.  Have you?

Miscommunications, misunderstandings or obstacles too difficult to overcome for the other party to continue a relationship- all circumstances that lead to a burned bridge.

It’s tragic.  It leaves you grasping for answers.

In an effort to empathize with the other person, I work hard to understand it from their point-of-view.  Why did they feel the need to cut ties?  What responsibility do I have in their decision?

Sometimes I am able to find fault in myself and other times I am left utterly perplexed and sad.

Which begs the question- what comes next?  What do we do with our abandonment?

We can wallow, we can point fingers, we can get angry, we can get back.  Or . . . we can lick our wounds and move on.

Our hearts are broken- the wound so fresh, so deep it seems unimaginable that it could ever heal.

But we patch it by surrounding ourselves with those who do love us.  Those who do support us.  We ask God for forgiveness and we wish those who abandoned us all the best.  We seek grace.

We take time.  We guard our hearts a little more.  For a time, we feel fragile but eventually, we fortify it with love- from others and for others.

I am hurting.  Deeply.

I will take time to mourn this loss.

And then I will look to you, my friends, my family, my supporters, to help me heal with your love, laughter and your openness to let me do the same for you.

To anyone that is hurting too:

I am holding your hand.  You are loved. You are supported.  You matter.

 

Camille Vaughan Photography

 

Comfort in the Calm

Like every good book, every great show, and every epic movie, we seek the DRAMA and resolution.  Nobody wants to read or watch a flat plot-line, which begs the question . . . can you find comfort in the calm?

Lately, on a weekly basis, I say to my husband (around dinner time), “There are just so many of them!”  I’m referring to my helpless children.  They can’t dress themselves, squeeze ketchup, or pour their own drink without help.  In my mind, I can’t wait for them to be able to do for themselves.  But as that time draws closer for my oldest, I recognize the empty feeling I will have, as a result.  Am I ready for that?

We are natural problem solvers- some of us better than others.  Some of us thrive on the drama – others run away as fast as we can.  But all of us have an innate desire to feel wanted, accepted, needed.  Partners, children, pets- they all fill that void.

When things are busy and tough, we feel exhausted and yet . . .useful.

When things are gravy we initially feel rested and peaceful and then . . . unsettled?

Why is that?  Isn’t this what we’ve been working towards?

An Age.

A status.

A promotion.

A retirement.

Why can we not find peace within the calm?

Every good story has a climax and a resolution.

Each of us has a different story, some more dramatic than others.

And if you look hard enough, we’ve all had our share of drama.  So the real quest becomes, finding the peace, the joy and the comfort in the calm after the storm.

I’ve been a stay-at-home-mom for five-years and I’d be lying if I didn’t admit I’m  scared shitless once the youngest goes to school, goes to college, gets married, has her own babies.

But the reality is, deep down, we are always hoping for a happy ending- EVEN IF, it doesn’t turn out as expected.  At the very least, we want a lesson, and at most, our dreams come true.

So when we have it in our grasp- our great relationship, our healthy family, our fabulous co-workers or dream job- we owe it to ourselves to appreciate the moment.  The Calm.

yr8a7053-cvaughan
Camille Vaughan Photography

Reading the Signposts

1923444_531654038959_5239_n.jpg

Nearly a decade ago, my husband and I hiked ten miles down to the bottom of the Grand Canyon to visit Havasu Falls.  This is an incredibly vast and remote stretch of desert; a place people have died after taking the wrong turn.  Needless to say, we made sure to keep our eyes open for the trail markers to lead us down the right path.

Continue reading