Free Counselling…

This week has been full of it, full of free counselling. Man I missed this part of it all… I missed seeing my friends and stopping by to drop something off only to stay and have your kids swim a ghetto in their clothes and eat chocolate oatmeal bars. I miss going to my YMCA and running and coming back in for coffee with my ladies. Those ladies are some of the best counselling there is, and they will cheer you up if you are low (even if you don’t want to be lifted). Welcome back normal… welcome back Erin in Stay at Home Mama mode… I have missed you so.

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This week I got several counselling sessions sans copay (I love my counsellor and NEED to see her and give her a copay soon but this is good for now). Yesterday while my kiddos jumped in a lovely and fancy pool (in their clothes) my amazing and mellow friend and I hang out and ate cookies and talked life and veggie garden. It cleaned some brain and I felt a bit like old Erin. Old Erin and old Musto girls were often at friends for playdates and life… enjoying and laughing. On hard days we lifted our friends and sometimes they lifted us up, all this while playing and snacking on treats.

The girls got to go to camp today, not just any camp but this awesome camp that is like an overnight camp that is just days. It is a-m-a-z-i-n-g. So I dropped them off this morning, hung out for a big, ate a bagel (seriously I fail eating well every.single.day) and headed to my car. I started talking to another momma with a crazy cancer kid journey. Her lovely is doing great- rockin’ her scars and living well. She is a 3 year old on a mission to run as much as possible… she is a momma who needed the few hours of camp to hit up Target and organize life… and to breathe. We got chatting and talking and laughing… we each talked about the challenges and the amazing in this hard journey. She sees the awesome in it all… I love those connections. I love those families… It was an awesome hour of free counselling. I only wish we had a comfy chair and coffee instead of standing in a parking lot for an hour. Finally we left and I felt lighter… I know she did as well. I felt connected and familiar and my soul felt lighter. I have missed these connections lately. This crazy schedule of life, baseball, school, events, best days ever… sometimes keeps me from some of my old connections. It is a blessing when I get to have that part again and feel that comfortable connection.

Zip, zip, zip… from that free counselling session I was off to the next. Honestly if these ladies charged my insurance would have quit on me long ago… I met a friend for a run. I love that best, 4 miles of the good stuff. Of the brutal and the funny. We talked ½ marathon training, dehydration… goals to not get all icky and old like some of the people we see in life… we talked about our lovelies, vacation and lots. 4 miles is only enough to cover soooo much… I can’t wait to run longer with her. Honestly, I learned more about myself and my best ladies in that 9-13 mile range. If you can run 18 miles with a friend you have crossed into a really special place. Those sessions of counselling are kind of free… in money… but really the copay is a sore body, hangry stomach and smelly smelly hugs goodbye. The work you do in you brain, heart and soal in those hours of running are NECESSARY though. They are for me. They are for others in my herd…

This week and all this free counselling is showing me a bit of Erin from previous summers and life. It is reminding me to bug my counsellor more, I miss her. It is reassuring me how much I love staying home with my girls and how I appreciate the support I have always had in that role. It is a different life, but it has been a favorite messy journey for me. It is reminding me how I need people, they need me. I need be connected and I need to connect to others. It solidifies how important the connections He send my way are. How the threads are all sewn and woven just for me… and those threads are there for connections. To talk, run, laugh, move, live, eat, grow, swim, watch… whatever it may be. He is in those threads. All of the free counselling sessions happened with just the right people at just the right time. He knows that, He planned it. I love that about Him. I am grateful for the net of love He has wrapped around my girls and I. I am grateful that the right people are right there… I just need to connect. I am grateful to see my chickens grow and be healthy and kind and loved. I am blessed to know I am loved. I am enjoying the journey… I am thankful for the extra support when I need it and I know my friends are grateful when they need it.

So… back to the normal it is. Time for me to enjoy my time with my girls and friends and connections. Back to the running and boot camping and training… playdates and days together. Back to some of the old normal… old routine. <insert a sign of relief and rest>

Welcome back free counselling…

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Seeing Beauty in the Midst of Anger

Something I wrote a while ago… and wanted to put out there.  This year the yard doesn’t look so awesome, but we are getting there…

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There is something amazing in putting all of your mad into something and seeing it look lovely after. It is the gift of hard work, I guess. Putting our negative energy into something else, something like mulching, planting and weeding is an instant turn around.

In May of 2014 I was struggling, hurting and broken. I had just found out many untruths about my now ex-husband and marriage. These were deep and hurtful betrayals. I still can’t believe that people can make choices so selfishly. After many conversations with my amazing counsellor and work inside myself I realized that I can not understand being unfaithful, being dishonest or being selfish because it isn’t me. My marriage was ending after many affairs, most of which involved people who were very close to me.

That May, I found myself in a new normal a single mom-ish with a house, my girls, my dog and an ex-husband. I was faced with a hot mess yard that needed raking and mulching and planting and mowing. It was overwhelming. I started that Memorial Day Weekend, with a goal of getting a tan and seeing progress. This was the first holiday that included sharing my girl’s custody with their dad, it was strange and lonely. I was mad and confused and tired… but I worked. I shoveled and loosened the mulch in the pile from the previous year. I filled my wheel barrel in the back yard and hauled it to the front yard to dump it over and over and over… weeding what I missed as I kept moving, kept transforming.

I started that weekend overwhelmed with an ugly yard, tired from a nasty and confusing life and angry about the disgusting state of my divorce. I was hurt by the people who betrayed me. I was mad that they COULD do these things. I was broken from all of the losses. I felt like I lost the ability to be naïve and young… like these actions made me much older. I would pull into my driveway and cringe at all the drab and icky grass and yard. Over that Memorial Day Weekend, last year, I used my shovel on that pile of mulch to let go of some of those things. Every single wheel barrel full of mulch was a step to something beautiful. Every time I wheeled the barrel back to the back yard I grabbed my shovel and put all of my mad into that mulch. I would slam my shovel into that pile and spout a bad word with one of the women that did this. I would empty my shovel and dig it right back in with a BAM… a bam of mad at my ex-husband for putting me in this sad spot. I would yell and wish those people crappy holidays or just that they someday said “I am sorry” and I would know they meant it. I would scoop up another shovelful and put all my might and mind into that scoop… like every shovelful was a moment I got to yell at them, that they were accountable for the pain I was stuck carrying. Every lift was a mad word or thought that I put into that bit of work. I dropped a lot of very.unkind.cuss.words that weekend, all.by.myself in my back yard… just letting it out.   I was emptying an area in my yard so I could grow some veggies and be a little more independent…. I like to feel and know I can do these thing ALL.BY.MYSELF. It has helped to build me… to be more me.

So I filled my weekend with work and beautifying and changing… and after swearing tons and working and sweating… the front was mulched. I planted lovely plants, I brought out the bright yard decorations. Suddenly my garden had pink and teapots and flags and painted rocks my girls decorated. In a way- what started as an angry and painful weekend, a weekend of missing my lovely ladies… a weekend of being very cognizant of all of my losses, betrayals and hurts and things that make me mad… turned into a weekend that I saw progress. I saw my ugly yard transform into a little oasis, mulched and decorated and comfortable. I saw myself become a little more independent with veggies to grow and enjoy with my girls. I saw my heart feel lighter… so much of my mad went into that mulch and planting and decorating and mowing and weeding… that ugly mad I carried was IN something that was so beautiful and real. It was a cleansing experience. Imagine if we could start putting our hard and mad into something that turns beautiful and simple… something that grows and changes. I have found an amazing way to find beauty and relief in the really hard stuff that life hands us… to create something that we can love and enjoy and relax in using energy that is so negative… creating beauty and life in the hard, mad and broken. I look back and see growth in that time, I see change- growth in my lovely yard and in myself… and growth is the key to healthy humans and plants.

 

The start of summer the end of …

… And so the end begins again.

School is about to be over and thank heavens summer vacation starts. We Musto girls need some get up with no alarm clock days –STAT. What a different year having all of my girls at one school… gone are the days of Preschool party, field trip, mixed with Moving up and end of the year nights… welcome to baseball practice and Meet the instrument night, field days and lots of work coming home from the whole year. It is hard to believe that preschool days are so far behind us…

Today was the Moving Up ceremony for the Nursery School I have been subbing at. Those 3 year olds will be heading to 4’s next September… and the cycle of growing continues. Back in the day I couldn’t see life with no preschool. It was mine and the girl’s life for a LONG time, a good life. We had awesome teachers, a great program and wonderful friends. It was home. For 5 years it was home… and then last summer came and Lucy entered Kindergarten… and we said ‘goodbye’ to those teachers and friends. I think the year flew by and until today I didn’t let myself think about how much I missed those teachers and those days… how I missed the projects still wet with glitter, the handprint crafts and the HUGE hug I got when I kneeled down to pick up each one of the girls. I thought about the afternoons we got to hang out and play, the playdates and the adventures that fit better into time. Today I felt a bit ot sad for those days… I missed preschool. I was standing with a pile of other kiddos, excited to move up with their families… missing when my chicks were that little.

Funny how they just keep growing, isn’t it? One time I told Lucy- ‘Stop growing.’… she told me ‘I can’t God just keeps giving me one more day’… and I am always reminded He is. She gets one more day to grow and do her job… just like I do, and you do to. We can’t hold back time, it just keeps moving. Moving is a good place to be, but sometimes reflecting and missing is a great place to be. I do love that my brain has taken lots of snapshots of moments, with stories or silly words, and it keeps it in there. They pop out sometimes.

Today I woke up really cranky, and I was mad at myself for being cranky. I had no reason for crankiness, I had slept well, I woke up to my girls being silly, we weren’t late yet… and I was still cranky. I preapologized to the girls and worked not to be edgy to them. I could not pin the cranky. Then all day I went through moments that I missed, as I have often this week. Preschool graduations, moms crying for their little 4 years olds last day of preschool, getting big knock me over hugs from little ones and hearing my kids excited for the summer, talking about Madeline’s birthday and the lake with their cousins. These days cost a lot, in energy and mood. I just move and live and watch and enjoy and clap and cheer… and then I realize where we are and what is missing. Sometimes it costs a lot to be okay. As I pushed as hard as I could, for the only ½ hour I could squeeze in at the gym…. It dawned on me what my cranky was. It was a combination of missing and moving away and growing up… hurting and healing… smiles and pain. I was sure my cranky had to do with bad dreams or something, but alas I think it was just this time and this reflecting that my insides are doing. Those darn insides forget to tell the outsides…

So, since the end is near all the good stuff comes home. The girls both brought home their writing journals… full of good stuff from this year. It is my favorite thing to decipher Lucy’s words, blows my mind that she can sound spell so well. I love Amelia’s neat and detailed writing. So I was going though it all and reading and laughing at some and reflecting on others. It was hard to read Amelia’s Meet the Author… did you know that she lives with her mom and her sister Lucy. What a tiny family that is. When did it get so small? All those missing names…

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Did you know that Amelia’s funest day (story) was as simple as a trip to the hot tub together and then a storm… I forgot to put the cover on and the water splashed out… so after the storm we went back to swim and there was no water. FUNEST day ever… note to self: little things=big things. I am Lucy’s biggest fan. <3. I am glad they know that… I stinkin’ love them. I probably hug them, nibble them and smell their hair wayyyyyy too much. I am very thankful that they never refuse that, unless it is Lucy and she doesn’t want lipstick on her. Writing, as per normal, changes me. Today it was my chicklet’s words that were written that changed my heart. Their writing helped guide my brain and heart to a better place…

Crazy how life keeps moving. The beginnings start and turn to endings over and over again, in most stories. Every beginning has its hard and every ending does as well… life’s about all the parts of those. As much I miss some things, I love the now. The reflection of preschool and how far we are from it hurts and feels good… sometimes it is bittersweet that ‘God just keeps giving us one more day’… I guess we should use it well.

Yearbooks and breakdowns…

Madeline would be 9 years old this June, 9 years ago I became a mom. I can almost think of what I was doing 9 years ago each of these days… the days leading up to her coming. She was really due on June 15… and took her sweet time and grew really big for an extra 10 days… OUCH. I remember I used to work in a clean room and had to redress in a special uniform and go in through an air shower. Our uniforms were sterilized and smooshed into little labeled bags… I went from a normal size of Large to maybe a 2XL for belly space. My ankles really never got unswollen and I drank a few Nalgene bottles of water on a shift. I remember having a huge fight with my mom on Memorial Day weekend and that it was VERY hot. Matt and I went for a long hike and up to Thatcher Park in those late days… trying to get labor going. I remember most about that hike- seeing a picture of me from behind and missing my normal butt. I remember sitting in the glider in Madeline’s room, not know if she was a girl or a boy, and just putting my feet up and wondering. I remember sitting in the clean room grinding pins (a very very boring job)… just trying not to be home thinking about the fact that Madeline was wicked late. Everyday my work was waiting for a phone call… instead I would show up. Finally labor started… and the rest is pretty much the normal stuff. Those last few weeks of not being a mom I can remember more than many of the feelings I had after… and after and after. I must have been very well rested and thinking a lot back then.

Madeline grew and changed like a normal awesome kid, my normal awesome kid. There were really hard parts and really easy parts, but I remember and know how much I loved her anyway. I am pretty sure if she were here, she would love me anyway for all of my cranky days. All the milestones and growth… friendships and experiences were part of this grand plan, this journey. She was happy nad vibrant and content and simple and lovable and compassionate… not how you would describe most 5 year olds. She loved school and learning. I loved that about her, I loved school and still do. I loved seeing her flourish and become herself. Kindergarten was the place for Madeline to be… she entered her class with no friends from preschool. She was less nervous than me, I was scared to meet new moms and new friends. I instantly loved her teacher, with her flower in her hair and coordinated accessories. She was warm and creative and calm. I knew it was the very spot Madeline should be. So we entered Kindergarten. I got to see Madeline’s friends and hear stories about them. She would come home and we would snuggle and watch Ellen and I would hear about her day and her friends. I can’t recall it all anymore… but there are bits. It has helped me to really get to know her teacher and some of her classmates. I remember her telling me and our family meeting one little girl, who liked to run really fast with Madeline around the playground. I remember the first day of school there was a little one who when asked to color her name asked “Can I use every color?” and I knew she and Mads would hit it off. There are 2 girls who stand out, who are now in 3rd grade, that honor and remember Madeline regularly. I know she works though them, I think she might even grow along with them. Those girls go visit Madeline at her spot and bring her gifts and read her books… how mature and kind for a 3rd grader. Those lovelies will hopefully never understand what it means to me…

At the end of Madeline’s Kindergarten year her class prepped a teeshirt for her and released balloons to remember her. I received a lot of things from her teacher, memories and things. It still means a lot… in fact I might go through it all tonight. To read the thoughts and memories of a kindergartener about their friend is very hard and reminds me that she is remembered. Many of those kiddos will grow and change and move and learn and travel and compete… they will become 7th graders and seniors and go on to college… and they may not bring Madeline. Her death might be too much… for them right now. My girls have a different life, different experiences and different hard stuff… so Madeline’s death is part of them forever. Others… move away from hard stuff and keep chuggin’ in their own lives. I understand, but love the ones who bring her along.

This morning, as I was driving to work, a song popped on that made me cry. It isn’t even one that I really listen to or think about. I think I was just in a spot, I had just dropped the girls off and was free for the first moment in many hours. I think a bit of this caught up with me…

Yesterday the girls came home with their yearbooks. I opened it up, right to the 3rd grade section and started to look at the kids. I read their names and tried to match faces. There were a few that really popped out to me and I thought about how they are and what it was like to know them now. I thought about the colors and the running… about the growing and changing. I thought about how Madeline should be at the intermediate school now and prepping Amelia for her transition. I thought about how I have yet to see a field days event or to go to the intermediate school to mystery read… can you even mystery read in 3rd grade or is it not cool? Do I have to stop being right there for all of my kids things next year? Will it still be cool to eat lunch with my 3rd grader? Will Amelia insist we shop at Justice for sparkly stuff to fit it???? What is this next stage like…

I let my brain keep thinking and feeling sad. Then I put it away and talked to the girls and let Amelia show me her crush. “Mom, he is so cute. Look at his fuzzy hair and big smile. He is funny and kind and has big front teeth”… Lucy wondered why her friends were going to write in her yearbook… and we put them away and did homework- breakdown averted.

I guess I put it away and it popped out. Would you believe it popped out again while I was writing this? Some parts of this really suck. I don’t even wish I had someone else’s… I just have to sit and recognize sometimes that this really can suck. It is really hard to see a bunch of 3rd graders, but also good. I love them. I think sometimes how, just because something is hard or it hurts doesn’t make it bad. It isn’t bad that they are all growing, it is just hard to know that it still happens without yours. I know that she is ok, but I miss her. I can’t believe life goes on, yet it does and has. It should… life is pretty amazing and full even when it is missing things.

So… yearbooks are away for now. That is until the day the chicken’s bring them for autographs. Then to the shelf…

It will forever hurt to see where Madeline isn’t, but there is something powerful in knowing right where she is. Maybe she doesn’t grow, maybe she doesn’t graduate… but she is right where she needs to be.

Moving forward… weddings are no longer dreaded

Last year I was really extremely glad that I had to weddings to attend or be in. I probably would have found a way out anyway. Weddings, to a person going through a divorce, are a little like attending birthdays for children who are as old as your child who died should be. It stings and feels like something is missing. In the wedding situation it also feels like a way to listen to all that you failed at doing. The words and vows that are spoken by the pastor are words and vows I took with my ex-husband. Those promises were made then, and are now broken and legally corrected to the new state of life – divorce.

Do not get me wrong, I like this new state. There is not a molecule in me that wants to go back, not even a little. I like my life and my freedom. I like my friendships and connections… and I love my lessons in this. Weddings, though, are still hard… or I guess they would have been very hard a short time ago. I am glad that I can feel the happy and excitement over the feeling of loss in those vows. Marriage is a big deal. I still see married people and respect their bond and trust and love. I see their friendship. I love it. I love seeing people share each other like that. This is a big step from the Erin of last year. That one didn’t want to see those things in life or relationships. Who knows, maybe I couldn’t see them. Maybe, just maybe it would have broken me to open and feel that then. I don’t know.

In recent weeks I have been to two weddings, two awesome and simple and real weddings. I have loved all the minutes and moments in each. Those weddings were both so different, yet were full of people who loved being there to surround a couple who is going to rock forever. In early May I was privileged to attend a wedding for a new friend who is light and kind and amazing, and also has given me much hope and love for the life to come. She married her second husband… and it was awesome. They just are so light and honest and respectful… they are so happy. I loved it. She gives me laughs and hope and friendship… her experiences have helped me understand and move and live and chug through some really hard stuff. It was an awesome night and…. There was a martini bar. My feet hurt for a long time after that night and my smile never faded…

This weekend my girls and friend and I attended a wedding for Madeline’s Godmother. It was not only a pristine place to be married, on a spectacular day… but it was refreshing to feel the forever in two people. For a long time I heard love songs and was bitter about them… but seeing this connection helps me to know that the part that hurt is softer now. It was a special day. I was extremely honored to be the Maid of Honor and tried to really do my job, right down to fixing the bustle at the last second and hopefully helping the bride with details. I was also pretty stoked to be back to a Maid of Honor… this one time a long time ago I was a Matron of Honor… <3. The bride and groom were nervous, but I know it was not for the marriage but instead the details of the wedding. I think it can possibly be stressful to feed over 225 people. I felt a lot of relief when I saw them just dance and enjoy their moments together. I felt a real solid happy for them, for their future. I love that feeling. Sometimes I feel that with my girls, a real solid piece of happy. It is almost a tangible feeling.

So, I guess weddings are not so dreaded… but instead I am starting to love seeing love. I am starting to feel happier with my now, for my future. Marriage is a big deal… I have known and believed that for a long time. I am starting to believe again, to know that real and honest exists. I look forward to the next wedding, maybe a cousin or cool friend could go all destination wedding… come on????