Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Brit & Alex's Wedding

Shot my cousin's Alex's wedding this weekend, very sweet and pretty. Such a perfect day for a celebration. And in a most beautiful setting, ideal for photography purposes. Sadly, (as I do shoot a lot of them) weddings leave me feeling a little bitter lately, and apparently I looked sulky/disgruntled/heartbroken for most of the reception, (which I didn't realize until I was told afterward) but none-the-less, it was a happy day for two people who were most definitely in love, and I enjoyed capturing it for them.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Mowing Through The Anger Stage

I volunteered to mow the lawn this morning for several reasons, one: because my therapist had given me an new assignment I wanted to think about, and I do my best thinking while mowing, and two: because my dad was stalking around behind the push mower looking vaguely irritated. Also, because it's a chore I don't mind in the least, in fact, I love mowing, always have...and mowing my parent's lawn is no big deal, the grass can hardly be called grass, it's just sparse blades that poke up through the dusty, gravely, wicked flat lawn. Of course the lawn has some areas that are more lush than others, but for the most part, the mower is probably bored silly. State soil my ass. (Bet you didn't know, along with a State Bird and State Flower and all the jazz, Vermont has a "State Soil". And it's TUNBRIDGE soil. Actually, I wouldn't know it either if my Grampa Sheehan wasn't a soil scientist. Our town's soil is supposed to be the richest, loamiest soil around. But, our yard must not have gotten this particular memo.) OK, point is: I was mowing, or really, simply pushing a bored mower around, skirting a dismantled bulldozer and it's rusting tracks a few feet away, just thinking. Dad had stuck some of those earmuff things on me saying: "Let's save whatever hearing you have left". (I, of course yelled the predictable "What?" and laughed like a dope. I tend to use a lot of second grade humor. It's a gift I have.) I'm glad he did, it's easier to think when you can't hear anything but your own heartbeat, and only the distant hum of the motor. It's interesting, how your brain starts to search itself when you have nothing else to distract you. When I mow, I zone out. Which I need to do sometimes. That's when my true thinking happens - when I get in a safe, monotonous groove. My mind is usually racing every second I'm awake, which is not the same as true thinking. During true, calm, thinking-times, I have ideas and breakthroughs and epiphanies. When RACING, it simply means my brain is on autopilot. Survival mode. Unfortunately, when I zone out, relax, and find my groove, I lose touch with reality ALONG with gaining some profound thoughts...so I'm like Einstein...on crack. For instance, I saw a big, grey toad head for cover under a dead snow-mobile...the toad was WALKING, not hopping, it was raised up high on all it's legs, with it's front toad hands sort of fist-punching the ground as it moved along. (I've never seen a toad do that, maybe it had rabies, I don't know.) Anyhow, something about the way looked while it was doing this, made me recognize it NOT as a toad, but as a very tiny monkey, muscling it's way through a miniature jungle. And I was momentarily thrilled to discover such a small monkey. Like super excited. In the three seconds that this trick-of-the mind lasted, I frantically shouted to the kids, and then had to say "Oh, come see this...ummm...really neat, big toad" as my brain returned to the real world, a world in which I was mowing a boney, scrabbly lawn inhabited by ordinary toads. The therapist has asked me to write down every time I think something bad about myself. And to examine WHY I think it about myself. Following this experience, I immediately called myself an idiot for supposing a toad could possibly be a monkey, even for a moment. I didn't just laugh and say "Wow, creepy...that toad really looked like a little monkey." (Because IT DID, People.) Or I could say "Since Eli's a monkey in the school play, I must have monkeys on the brain!" But no, my thought process told me that I was the stupidest person alive for being fooled, and that's weird, isn't it? You know what? Initially I thought this little therapy task would be a piece of cake..."Hey great, a writing assignment! Easy peasy!" But it's not. I gathered I would just jot down a few things that make me unhappy about myself, like my nose, and the fact that I'm always interrupting people, and I'm lazy about doing dishes, add a humorous twist just for fun, and hand it in next Friday while my therapist chuckled and said "There's nothing wrong with YOU, nothing at all." But now, imagining writing down every time I think I'm at fault, or stupid, or ugly, or worthless, I would have to have a notebook tied around my neck all day long, and I guess I never noticed that everything I do is punctuated with negativity towards myself. Everything. It's for real, it's hard to write down. And it's not funny. I'm afraid to even start, because it would be too much. Why do therapists have to be so damn smart? In the grieving process, you go through an Anger Stage. Divorce combines grieving with EXTRA anger. Like grief with a poison cherry on top, basically. With my issues, the anger tends to be towards myself, because somehow, somewhere along the line, I was taught that it's all my fault. The refrain that I hear inside, no matter what situation I'm in, hissing over and over, is: "It's all your fault, Emily. Your fault. Your fault." It occasionally blows up in fury that I'm NOT GOOD ENOUGH. I just spent the last sixteen years having that drilled into my head, it's time to release the blame and learn to love myself. Lately, I'm constantly needing affirmation that it's NOT my fault, that I AM a good person, that I'm pretty, hardworking, smart, talented, loved, special, worth it, and why? Because I don't think so, that's why. My job now is to embrace my inner monkey. Or...you know what I mean...love myself. Even if I HATE writing that. It feels embarrassing since I always thought loving myself was selfish...vain...that's why you need others to do it for you, right? Wrong. No one can like you, until YOU do. So, here I go, starting over. Again, and again, and again, as many times as I need, until I rise like the cliche'd Phoenix from the ashes and declare victory. And the victory will be an enormous, obnoxious, invisible banner, flying high, saying: "I 'heart' myself!" (Or at least an ultra tacky, invisible, bumper sticker if I can't quite pull off a full scale banner.) I know I'm going to get better. Of course I am, I was not meant for this. But I do have these days... If I was going to take out a personal add right now, it would read something like this: Single mother of two, struggling and desperately needing help. Nothing to offer. Does, in fact, like long walks on the beach and yadda, yadda, yadda, but has no time for such foolishness. Candidate must be willing to take on half the responsibilities of a family he didn't make, and put up with a cranky woman who dislikes herself, but was once, and will perhaps be again, somewhat cool and fun. One plus: she will happily mow your lawn.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Easy Reader

I'm incredibly excited that Eli has finally learned to read, just like WHAM, he figured it all out, and now almost overnight he can read anything! I was worried for a bit, to get on board with the whole Waldorf theory about not starting until the second grade, because I was SUCH a huge reader as a kid. Being home-schooled, books and my sisters were my only friends. It almost pained me to think that Eli wouldn't read practically from the womb. But suddenly, he's a fantastic reader! He read his little brother a bedtime story tonight, like a pro. Ira fell asleep listening to him. I'm a very proud mama today. And every day.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Barnard General Store

After putting the kids to bed tonight, I sat down to my sad dinner-for-one (bowl of cereal.... hey, it's got calories) and turned on the computer for company. Browsing the news, I was shocked to see that my beloved Barnard General Store would be closing next week. I was JUST there, literally just DAYS ago, and I was munching a delicious lunch (which awesomely came in record time, even though I was starved, normally that's when your food takes FOREVER) and it hit the spot perfectly. I proclaimed, in absolute rapture: "This is my favorite restaurant on earth." And I think it actually might be. Wicked hungry or not. I love the mismatched tables and the big wood-stove, I love the old fashioned ice cream counter, complete with those swiveling chrome stools, which more often than not, have an ancient Golden Retriever snoring beneath them. I love the rusty cowbell over the door. I love the food. "Best food served on a paper plate" their menu reads. True. Many's the milkshake I've scarfed down in the company of good friends inside those four walls. Apparently a poor ski season and the flood last fall was more than they could handle. So, that's the other sad thing tonight. Another change. Seems changes come faster and faster as time goes by.

How's Your News?

Watch this documentary. Seriously. Even if you're not a documentary person. I loved it. I don't know if you can get it through Netflix or not...there's also a television show, but I'd recommend the film. The directors choose five people with various mental disabilities to travel together across the country in an ratty RV, interviewing people about random things for their news program. "What's your name? What do you do? Are you having fun in Venice Beach? Do you like fried chicken?" Find it, watch it. You won't be sorry. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iRtl1dZHpWo


(Written three Mondays ago, my cranky internet doesn't let me post things sometimes.)

It was a cram-packed weekend, and I had the classic now-that-it's-finally-spring-here's-the-worst-cold-ever going on, which made everything feel even more cram-packed than it already was, including my head.

When divorcing, if you have young children, the Court orders you to take a workshop teaching you how to help you and your kids cope. (It's actually called simply "COPE".) I had been ordered to take one at the end of June, but I figured I didn't really want to wait until June to know how to better help my kids and myself COPE, so I signed up for an earlier date, which happened to be Friday.

It was a pretty emotional day since I went straight from my therapist to this four hour workshop. They warned us ahead of time that some of the material would be heavy and hard to handle, I thought for sure I'd be The Sobbing Queen through the entire thing, especially after I saw them place Kleenex boxes between all the chairs before we started, but oddly, the older, white-haired gentleman sitting next to me took that honor. I started crying just watching HIM cry. Not that I probably wouldn't have in any case since I had just come from the counselor's office and was primed for crying already, but he was so completely heartbroken, I could hardly stand it, on top of my own feelings. The day was one big sniff and hiccup fest.

The good news is: I'm not doing everything wrong. And the fact that the kids sometimes act out in anger doesn't mean they hate me, or I'm parenting badly, but that they trust me to love them no matter how they act, and they are comfortable showing me how they feel. I found the workshop to be very helpful, even if it WAS brimful of raw emotion. In a way, it was nice to have a whole day where I could just be honest, sad and afraid, not pretend to be strong and confident. A day where I could ask questions and be told I'm a great mom even when I'm scared I can't do it by myself.

And then last night, I was invited to present in a photo slide-show at a friend's house. A sort of Who's Who of area photographers. I haven't done a darn thing with my photography in ages, so it was cool to put together a little photo show and talk. Fun. Something I haven't had in a while. I tend to push aside the things I enjoy lately in favor of the necessary. But I guess sometimes it's necessary to enjoy things too, or you just crack up. And I won't get into how hard it is to even think the word "fun" when you have zero money, zero time, zero energy and you generally just feel BITTER. Some feeling good about myself and FUN is healing.

So, that was my weekend. Ira and I are sitting out on the porch right now. It's nice and hot out today and we just had some lemonade and read 'Dinosaurs Divorce' for the millionth time. There is a deranged woodpecker drilling away on the barn roof and Ira thinks it's the funniest thing in the world. Today is our easy day, our down day, our mostly-at-home-day until pick-up time for Eli and Zumba tonight...then the week gets crazy with work, and babysitting, and grocery shopping, and appointments, and work, and meeting with wedding clients, and riding lessons, and the kid's therapy, and more work. It's been a lifesaver to get the positions in the Tunbridge and Sharon Academy schools teaching dance, but man-oh-man, does it wear me out. I probably eat twice as much as I used to, and I'm on the road every minute. Sometimes I wish I just had a regular job, where I sat at a desk or at least stayed in the same place for more than a couple hours, but...ah well...I'm blessed to have the work. And I'll COPE with whatever I have to.