Archive for April, 2014


Twelve

In a little over an hour (though this post will appear magically one minute before you were born because technology), you’ll magically be twelve. I’m finding it a little sad tonight, as mommies are prone to do when we sit down and think of our babies and how fast they grow. This time twelve wyes ago, I was being prepped for the emergency c-section that would put you in my arms. I can still remember how cold the operating room was and how very weird it felt to be lain out, crucifixion style on a table, while doctors and nurses gathered around my swollen belly to set you free of the womb you didn’t want to leave.

I remember my first glimpse of you, even as drugged out as I was. Your eyes were my favorite shade of purple and your little ears were at their most elfin in that moment. You were amazing and I couldn’t wait to hold you even as my heart tripped with fear at the thought of someone handing me a little being to care for. I can still catch a hint of that brand new baby smell of you if close my eyes and think hard enough…and sometimes, I can still smell it on you when you’re very tired and need hugs. It could be there or it could be a trick of a Mama’s brain that says “you still need me, baby girl”; either way, it is one of the more magical smells I know.

You constantly amaze me now, even as you did then. I never quite know what to expect from you, and you learn things in such interesting ways sometimes that it certainly leaves me guessing. Sometimes I fret that I’ll never get you past some of your more frustrating tendencies, but most of the time I am able to stop and realize that most of those tendencies are normal and that coaxing and nudging and dragging you along whether you want it or not does eventually make changes. But I also see you put together some of the most mature thoughts in ways I know you’ve not heard either of your mothers say to you and it leaves me almost breathless at the magic of it all. Your brain – a brain that I helped give life to – makes some of the most beautiful connections, and it is a gift to watch you grow and learn, even when you’re being a pain in my tush.

I remember holding you against me when you were a baby and wondering what you would become, what your voice would sound like, what your laughs would sound like. I love to hear you laugh, especially when something strikes you as so genuinely funny you can’t help but to laugh. It is a magical sound and one of my favorites in the world.

I also love your facial expressions. I never imagined you would manage to become so much more expressive as a tween than you were as a toddler, because you made some pretty epic faces then, and yet, you manage to surpass those early facial expressions that could be both comedic and exasperating on an almost daily basis. Your face tells so many stories even without words to go with them and I love that about you.

I love that you still call me “Mommy” and I’ll be okay with it if you want to do that forever. I know that at some point, you’ll likely be too “grown up” for it and I will sigh wistfully and do as other mothers do, but for now? I cherish each “mommy” as special.

I love that you love to learn and I love to watch you and your other Mama go on educational forays on random subjects. You both become so engaged in what you’re doing and I sometimes just sit back and watch, not so much listening to what you’re talking about, but instead focusing on the way you interact with each other with excitement and curiosity. It is incredibly amusing when you both get so excited about a topic that you manage to sound like little kids, eager for more, without either of you realizing you’re doing it. Sometimes, I want to video tape those conversations for you both to see later, but I know that as soon as I pull out the camera, some of the spontaneity and magic will be lost, because you’ll both be adorably self-conscious, so for now, those moments will have to remain mine to cherish and remember without mechanical intervention, because I wouldn’t want to crush that magic for anything.

Eleven has been hard, I know. You had a lot of losses in the last year and it is something that we have all been working on together. Losing people or pets is never easy and losing several in one summer is even harder. I have been so proud of how you have started to embrace the idea of writing things down when you’re upset and how the memory of Lain and Grandpa Dave dying aren’t hitting you near so hard. I know that memories of those gone before us can sneak up on you at the most random times and it can be frustrating and painful. I’m so glad that you come to Rin and I when it happens so we can talk it out and give you hugs and let you know that the world will be okay again.

The light always returns.

I also know that things have been stressful the last few months with so many new health things cropping up for me and with trying to get so many things done at home (for the house and for school). I also know that the beginning of this trip started more stressfully than anyone anticipated and I’ve been so proud of how you’ve handled it, both by offering comfort to Rin in the face of losing her aunt and also in how you’ve shown maturity in the things you’ve written on the other subjects. You keep making me blink a bit owlishly as I wonder where this new level of empathy and understanding are coming from, and yet I marvel at it as well because I know I’ve seen bits and pieces of it before as I watched you work through other things. Those times were all bits and pieces though, so to see the whole picture come together is pretty amazing…and I know it will never stop being amazing to me.

I have no idea what Twelve will bring. I know that in homeschool, the subjects will become more tricky as we work past the basics into more difficult concepts. I know that your independent streak will likely grow and I know that there will be head-butting because of it, for this is the way of parent and child. I know that I can’t wait to find out even as I want to take things so very slowly sometimes.

Eleven had its ups and downs, but it was nice to see you change and grow (though you could slow down a little on the “growing” part, kiddo, cause pants are expensive, ya know) into a new version of you. I’m sure Twelve will be similar (complete with more pants if I have any guesses about how you’ve been eating this week), and I marvel at what new things you’ll do to amaze me this year.

No matter what, no matter how hard things become, no matter how frustrating you become, what I do know for sure is this: I love you a little more everyday and that will never change. You changed my life when you were born kiddo, and I naively thought that would be the only time. Twelve years of you have taught me that you change me on a regular basis. I strive to be a better person for you because I want you to be an awesome person. I strive to be a better person for you because I want to be the me I see in your eyes and I want to be the person you believe I am. You teach me things (sometimes annoying ones, like how creative I have to be to convince you to do your work) constantly and I’m okay with that because learning is good and it means we’re learning together.

Here’s to Twelve. Your Moms are both super proud of you and can’t wait to see what happens next. For now, though, I’m going to give myself a few more minutes to think of the wee baby you were on that oh-so-long night twelve years ago so that when I wake up tomorrow and meet Twelve, I’ll have hopefully gotten most of my stealthy sniffles out.

Hello, Twelve. I love you more than words can say.

As might be obvious in a moment, I started this post on FB, intending to just make a quick, slightly whiny post and go back to what I was doing. It ended up turning (at least somewhat) into a post I’ve been trying to write for a week.

What’s on my mind, FB? Too much to actually process apparently. I keep getting distracted so easily that I can’t even remember what I was doing two minutes ago, which is basically the LAST thing I need tonight. I’m trying to finish getting my things together for this trip of insanity because I keep stopping in the middle of that to help someone else or just to stare at the wall.

While I can objectively step back and realize that the week delay in leaving has been an overall net good (we’ve had more time to get better, we’ve managed to get some of the work done in the house that we’ve not been able to for awhile from a combo of necessity/prednisone/packing chaos, and Rin’s glasses FINALLY came in this morning), it is also a point of frustration because we had a sort-of schedule and it obviously needs changing now. And, objectively, I know that’s okay. The people who that schedule change is going to affect already know and have been in contact and they keep telling us to calm down and not worry so much (which is helpful and more appreciated than they likely know), so basically, fretting over it is a by-product of my brain being unkind to me as opposed to something to truly be concerned about. I also logically know that I’ve known from the minute we started talking about this trip that it was going to have to be approached differently from normal. There were going to have to be allowances made for a body (mine) that is doing new and interesting things in the name of fuckery and I knew that I was going to have to make allowances for the brain changing work I’ve been doing and to remember to be compassionate with myself despite my frustration.

But all of that falls into the “logical” portion of my brain that I can look at from a distance. The “emotional” part of my brain seems to be running around like a three year old in a tantrum, throwing out phrases like, “I can’t do this,” “this is stupid,” and “let’s go hide under the covers; they’ll never find us there.” I’m tired despite having slept for a good chunk of last night and today (not that tired is a new state, because it seems to be the norm). I’m in pain because my joints are are being cranky and *glances at clock* it’s likely time for more medicine and I just want to scream about it but all that would do is make my head hurt and not actually solve any problems. I’m having a night where I want to have a stompy fit and rage about how “unfair” it all is as though somewhere along the way I was promised fairness which is absurd and most of the time that phrase isn’t even one that I tend to think let alone give voice to, because life isn’t fair and everyone should know that. But tonight, apparently, with the worst timing possible, my brain seems to be clinging to the need for fair as though it were an option.

I’ve obviously been pretty quiet the last few months. There’ve been reasons, some better than others. A lot of it has been the simple fact that I’ve not had much energy for dealing outside of my small part of the world. Health issues have been the name of the game since before October when my gallbladder started going rogue and they haven’t slowed down since. Since October, I’ve spent chunks of at least 3 months dealing with medicines that were causing horrible side effects and the withdrawal from those same medicines in the name of finding something that worked better. Two of those were for ADD which was incredibly frustrating because I really just wanted my old medicine back. I’m on a new med for that that is mostly helping so long as I remember to take it super early in the day and understand that it just isn’t as good as Old Medicine was. One of those was me humoring my doctor. Since I was having trouble at the first dose of  New ADD Medicine, and since I have pain issues, she wanted me to try Wellbutrin because it theoretically works well with the other medicine. I hate most medicines in the family that Wellbutrin falls into. I’ve had shitty luck with a lot of them and have managed to not take any of them since I stopped taking them about ten years ago because they just don’t do good things for me. But, time does change things and she put the choice in my hands, from the start of the medicine to the parameters for stopping if necessary, so I agreed to try it. I figure if she’ll work with me, I should work with her.

I tried it.

It was a very failed experiment, one that we didn’t realize all of the repercussions of until after I stopped taking it. It was actually making me sick (like with laryngitis sick), so we figured that some of the side effects the medicine was causing were just me having a cold. A few things culminated in the realization that, no, the medicine was responsible, and also, the utter numb/lack of caring about anything was a HUGE problem. So. I stopped taking it. And had almost a week of withdrawal issues followed by issues that I am STILL sorting back out. You see, one of the things I’ve been doing in therapy is learning how to deal with emotions as they come as opposed to shoving them into boxes either because I don’t want to deal with them/don’t have time to deal with them/can’t deal with them. This involves a new level of vulnerable living that is taking some adjusting to. It means that for the last six months, my emotions have been a bit…raw…at times while trying to sort where some of those bad habits came from and while working with myself to fix them. And in the last three months, I’ve been able to stop and pinpoint exact places where the therapy is working, that the mental ass kicking I’m doing is working, and that this is a Very Good Thing. And that is GREAT. Seriously. But.

But…

The Wellbutrin that I took for ten days turned me into an emotional zombie. I didn’t feel anything, didn’t care about anything, and didn’t really understand how much of a change it was making. I saw that I was having trouble making decisions, that I was having trouble writing, that I was having trouble knitting, and basically, was just Having Trouble. The big moment of “oh shit” came the night before a brain MRI. While I won’t say that I should have been freaking out over it, let’s say there should have been some level of concern and care involved. I didn’t. Rin was able to then realize that I had gotten myself stuck on something that Dr. L had said and had turned it into a Rule That Had to Be Followed. (In this case, she’d wanted me to try the medicine for two weeks, but it was never, “you HAVE to try it for two weeks”.) She took the medicine away and recovery started. Within 16 hours, my voice was almost back to normal. Thirty-six hours later and it was perfect again and ya’ll, I just don’t recover from laryngitis that fast. Within two days, I was so overwhelmed by my own brain that I wasn’t sure what to do and so it went.

Why am I writing all of this? I sure as hell don’t necessarily want to admit all of this. I don’t really want to stand up and say, “Hey, yeah, so I’m incredibly vulnerable right now and I’m learning how to be a better me and that means needing some extra space and care from other people,” because anytime you put a sentence like that out there, there are so many opinions you can get from the absurd (“you just need more self-control”) to the painful where someone sees that admission and decides to run over your boundaries anyway. It means standing up and saying, “I’m delicate” and waiting to see what happens next.

And yet, part of being able to stand up and say that is some of what I’ve been working on. Not hiding everything, not pretending to be something I’m not (which includes pretending to be “okay” when I’m not), not locking everything inside to maybe deal with later is all a part of this process. And some of it I was working on before I walked into therapy. By reading people like Glennon and actually taking the words she writes to heart, I’ve been working on this for months. Therapy is just adding to the groundwork I’ve already started and it has given me tools to build a better foundation. I like words, and that is one of the biggest things that my therapist has given me actual words to combat the things my brain likes to do. Mindfulness is helping me a helluva lot and that is also a good thing. Being able to stop and look at the things in my head and say, ‘Okay, you’re trying this old bad habit but I’m not going to let you” or even, “Okay, I’m going to give you two minutes to be Prophetess of Doom and Gloom, but then you’re going to stop and move on” is a huge help for me.

I just also feel fragile. A lot. Rin has been doing so much to help with all of this. She goes to therapy with me every week so that I can actually walk in the door. She helps me remember things (good and bad) that I forget through the week so that I can tell Kim about it. She helps put me back together when the world is too overwhelming, she drags me out of the house when she realizes I’m just hiding behind fear instead of a legitimate reason, and she basically, all around takes care of me. At varying points in the last six months, both because of my brain chemistry and because of all of the other health problems, she’s basically been supporting me so much that I don’t know what I’d have done without her. She helps me make decisions when I get stuck on little things. Hell, there are days she finds me something to wear when even that seems too overwhelming. (Did I mention just how bad some of the medicine side effects were at varying times?) She helped take care of me post-surgery recovery which I’m sure was a ton of fun, because after four weeks, I got more than a little whiny.

One of the frustrating points in all of this is that it feels as though I’ll find a point of balance and then something else comes and yanks that from under my feet. I’ll find a medicine combo that works and then stops working, so I need something new. Or, my body will do something new and creative (read: generally terrifying) and it’s time to reevaluate again. Her and Kero both are a constant source of help in all of this (though, Kero, obviously is less involved in the exact details of everything going on; she’ll get details like, “Mom’s having a bad reaction to a medicine” but not the specifics of what and why and she also doesn’t know about the quest for MS because she doesn’t need to worry about it; she knows there are tests but not necessarily what they are for and I need it to stay that way). Balance is something I crave which is pretty hilarious to me because a lot of times, I’m just…not great at it. It has been particularly frustrating with some of the new symptoms (or in most cases worsening of other symptoms) because I’ve not been able to pull my magic tricks of “okay, if this happens, then I can do ‘x’ to make it easier” because there’s not a lot you can do about suddenly falling over for no reason and there’s not a lot you can do when your limbs decide to just ignore the fuckin’ signals your brain tries to send to them. You just grit your teeth and get through it, and that sucks because I want a solution.

Kim often tells me that I’m a very logical person and I’ve finally stopped laughing at her. After spending a lot of my life hearing people tell me how illogical I am, it’s nice to see that the things I try to do to cope are actually pretty darn logical after all (even some of the unhelpful ones though obviously, there’s room for improvement). Searching for a new and somewhat terrifying diagnosis isn’t logical. MS is not logical. Part of me wants it to be that, not because I desire to be ill, but because I AM ill and I want an answer. Ten years of “it could be blah” is wearing on a girl and this could be an answer that makes a lot of things make sense. However, it is also terrifying. It means an entirely new playbook and some of the plays in that book are downright frightening. The thought that I’ve built my castle on though is that it either is or it is not; therefore, I keep going. Curling up in the corner in fear won’t change it and if these new symptoms are going to become part of the “normal fuckery”, then there’s nothing to do but learn how to handle them. It just takes time and patience and a lot of grace, and a whole lot of being willing to ask for help. To top all of it off, the neuro I was sent to has basically done everything wrong in terms of helping me sort this out, up to and including CANCELLING the spinal MRI that was on the calendar because they decided they wanted it done somewhere else and failing to call me and telling me that they cancelled it. Needless to say, I need a neuro. At the same time, it also means that some of the things I was expecting to have going into this trip I just don’t have. I don’t have the reassurance of the image of my spine to see what is or is not there. It just couldn’t happen. So, it became one more place that this trip had stressful parts.

Planning was another area that things had to change. So often, I tend to put everyone’s needs ahead of mine during trip scheduling. I try to make sure that everyone gets at least some time and I try to make sure that Rin gets to do the things that she wants to do and that Kero gets to do most of what she wants to do and if there’s time at the end, I do some things I want to do. (Which, for clarity, does not mean that I do not want to do the same things that they do. What it does mean is that while I DO enjoy those things, I also don’t tend to schedule trips/visits that are more for me than for anyone else. It means I make sure that I try to please everyone else without taking time to sort in what I -need- in the middle of it all.) I knew from the start of conversations about “impending GA trip” that I couldn’t do that this time. I couldn’t be the one to make the decisions about who we saw when, when we went where, and how to put it all together. I told Rin and I half begged her to be in charge of the calendar. She’s very magnanimous and simply told people that it was a joint decision, but since I’m already spilling my guts in a vulnerability storm here, I’ll admit that I begged her to do it and to not make me do it unless she absolutely had to.

That change has been amazing. It means that I’ve been able to help plan without worrying about this person’s feelings or that person’s feelings or this person’s schedule or that person’s schedule and could instead focus on the actual goals of the trip. Stepping back from it also gave me the space to say, “There are a couple of things that we’ve put off the last couple of trips and I’d really like to not do that this time, even if it means upsetting someone else.” At least one of those things is on the calendar and the family whose house we are visiting because of that request honestly has NO idea just how over the moon excited I am about that part of the trip; in fact, that visit has been one that I’ve been able to hold onto at the worst moments of “omgicannotdothiswhyamieventryingtodothisicannoticannoticannot”. It has basically taken a ton of responsibility off of my shoulders and has let me be part of the process without being in charge of it and that is amazing. It was also a somewhat risky decision.

Despite eight and a half years together, there are times that people like to discount the relationship that Rin and I have and her role in both my life and in Kerowyn’s life. I weighed the risks and found the benefits far greater. After all, a key part of that sentence is “eight and a half years”. If someone hasn’t come to the conclusion that Rin is my partner and Kero’s second mother, then they likely aren’t going to magically do so now; therefore, the best course of action was not what was good for everyone else, but what was good for us as a family. In fact, many decisions about this trip were made with that exact discussion. Something Kim frequently reminds me of is that I’m not responsible for how anyone else feels or thinks; I can’t make them think a certain way. I CAN present information and give them room to make a choice, but I cannot make them make a choice. The only person whose choices I have complete control over is me and I have to make decisions that I can live with later. Thus, a second layer of decision making for this trip came with conversations about, “what choice will you be able to live with an hour later, a week later, a month later?” It is a question that has come up several times and is one that stays with me because it is important. I can only make decisions for me and I need to be able to look at myself in the mirror at the end of the day.

Does it suck to upset other people? Oh sweet gods, yes.

Do I hate upsetting other people? More than you could possibly realize.

Am I growing up enough to understand that I can’t please everyone, no matter how hard I try? Yeah, I finally am.

I’m basically writing this all as a giant torrent of words as opposed to the organized thing I’d been considering writing before. I even wrote an outline for that complete with a timeline about when meds were wonky and what other things were going on, but every time I tried to write that, I failed. I think, perhaps, I just need to keep going with the giant torrent of words and hope that people will care enough to follow my rambling brain all the way to the end. (With a secondary hope that after I finish this monster post I started an hour ago, I’ll be able to focus more on other things.)

Everybody changes. It is a simple fact of life. Some people change for the better, some for the worse, and frankly, everyone’s opinion about which is which can vary. I’ve been doing a lot of changing in the last few years, but especially in the last few months. In some ways, it is making me a much better me. I’m becoming more forgiving of myself and my flaws, of the “weakness” that I constantly feel because I can’t just “pull myself up by my bootstraps” or “use more self-discipline” to solve my problems. I’ve become better at acknowledging that everyone has feelings, lots and lots of feelings, and that the real difference is simply in how a person lets those feelings work in their life. I’ve always been an emotional person and empathic sometimes beyond desirability; I’ve also spent a large chunk of my life trying to fix everyone else because I thought it made -me- a better person. The reality is that while helping other people is admirable, you can’t fix someone else – they have to do that themselves. Also? At some point, you have to stop trying to fix everyone else and make sure you’re taking care of yourself. Self-care is not my strong suit, but it is something that I am HAVING to become better at because if MS is what I have (and realistically, even just for the diagnoses I already have), I need to practice self-care all the time, not just when it is convenient, even if my need for self-care makes someone else unhappy.

I’m learning how to make boundaries, both for myself and outside of myself. I’m learning how to come to the point that I can see that doing thing in small bits, while annoying, is better long term than simply throwing myself into things. I’m learning to see that if reading an upsetting article or ten is a problem for me on a certain day, I can and need to walk away from them. The world will still have problems whether I read the article or not. I’m learning to say “no.” This one is hard because as people, we don’t want to make others unhappy, and yet, sometimes, ya have to say, “No, I’m sorry, I can’t do that.” Oh man do I have a battle with this one. It’s why a lot of times I depend on Rin to be my second back-up, to be able to say, “No, you’ve done enough” and to also help me realize what I have accomplished when my brain says, “That’s not enough, you need to do more.”

I’m learning to love myself. The real me. The one I live with every day, as opposed to the idea of me that other people want me to be. This is also hard. Gods, is it hard. “Who am I?” is a question I ask often, but the difference is that of late, the question has an answer more often than it doesn’t. Mindfulness therapy is helping me find the things that are important to me and showing me how to make those the things I build my mental and emotional image on instead of building it on some concept of expectation. I can look at my non-traditional family and I have no shame, because there is nothing shameful to be found. There are three consenting adults in this house who keep their private lives private just as most adults do in houses with kids. There is a healthy almost twelve year old who has two moms who love her to pieces and who are doing everything in their power to grow her into a well-rounded person while embracing all of the things that she loves and nurturing those things, offering guidance when she needs it, and who will, hopefully one day, finally convince her to wash dishes correctly. *headdesk* Does my family resemble what some people call traditional? Nah. Am I okay with that? Oh yeah. Why? Because it works for us.

I have more support from my partner in this relationship than I have ever had in any of my “traditional” relationships. Ever. And while I will be the first to tell you that I never thought I’d fall in love with a girl (cause, face it, boys are nice), it doesn’t change the validity nor the strength of love I have for the woman who is both best friend and partner. I also can’t think of anyone else who would be helping me do as good a job raising my kid than Rin does, and Kero tends to be priority number one for me. I also know that a lot of times, I let people brush over our relationship as “less important” for its non-traditional status and I’ve realized how much that has hurt me and my family. Kero, if you ask her what she thinks about having two moms, will tell you that she loves it and has no desire to change it. She oft wonders why anyone would have a problem with it because it doesn’t make sense to her. Don’t believe me? Ask her about it sometime and she’ll tell you she’s happy. Know how I now? Because we talk to her about it and we ask her how she thinks and feels because that’s important.

I understand that there are people who don’t agree with non-traditional relationships and I firmly believe they have the right to that belief. What I do not believe is that their belief has the right to impinge on the validity of my relationship, my expectations for how my partner should be treated, or how I personally feel about my relationship. Everyone has a right to their beliefs, but those rights should stop when they begin to impinge on someone else’s. For the most part, this isn’t a huge issue, but given that it is something that I’ve become more solid on in the last few months, finally not listening to the voices that say, “you’re wrong” and instead listening to the evidence in front of me that says that my family is pretty damn awesome and I’m quite happy even with all of the health chaos, I feel it is worth nothing. Rin is my partner and as such is involved in decisions I make. Period. Rin is Kero’s second parent and is involved in decisions that Kero is a part of. Period. There are no exceptions for this, nor should there be.

Something else that I’ve come to understand about myself is that I’m broken…and I’m okay with that. Glennon at Momastery talks about how brokenness is actually something to cherish because it means living without trying to be perfect and it means accepting all of the pieces of yourself and inside those pieces finding what you can use to make the world a better place. I still struggle with this one sometimes, but most of the time a simple re-direct from Rin helps to ease me back toward my belief that broken is not equal to bad. Sometimes, it takes more than a gentle reminder and she points out how pots are repaired in Japan with gold to show the cracks and how they add to the worth and value of the piece, even when they change it from its original state. Broken is not equal to bad and broken can even be sacred. I’m not going to find a magic cure for ADD or for anxiety or for fibro/CFS or for MS if that is what the eventual diagnosis is. Those are all parts of who I am. I could spend time fighting against them, hoping that they will magically get better, or I can be a realist and understand that this is the way things are and work within those parameters. But to choose to work within those parameters means acknowledging each of those things and making allowances for them, even when they are annoying. It means stepping back and realizing that barreling through something won’t make things better in the long run even if they help in the short term and thus deciding which choices are best at x time. It also means living with the understanding that, now more than even early on in all of this chronic illness bull shit, it changes from day to day and sometimes hour to hour. Right now, I go from “okay” to “oh fuck me now” very quickly. (One example, I’m not tolerating heat at the moment hardly at all. I start to get hot and I have to try to fix it quickly or else it becomes overwhelming and nauseating.) When your body constantly makes you live by the seat of your pants, you have the choice to dance with it or fight upstream against it. Since bouts of fighting upstream haven’t worked so well, and since between some of the writers who have spoken to my soul of late and Kim and especially Rin in her quiet vigilance have helped me to see that I DO have the strength to do more than just swim along, I figure it’s time to change my dancing shoes.

Do I still get frustrated? Oh sweet baby Jesus, yes. Constantly. But instead of letting that frustration eat away at me, I acknowledge it as a thing and then try to move forward. Sometimes, just saying, “okay, I see you” is enough. Sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes I want to throw a full body fucking stompy fit that puts the biggest diva three year old to shame. That’s just part of the dance, I think. So, even on the path toward more enlightened thinking, I still stumble and still need reminders.

Do I fail? Hahahahahahahahahahhahahahahahhhahahahahahahahahahahahhahah

*coughs*

Um, yes. I fail. Sometimes every day. Sometimes multiple times a day. But instead of letting that failure define the rest of the day, I try to only let it define the moments surrounding it. This is another lesson I’ve learned from Glennon (and in case you haven’t figured it out yet, you should totally read Glennon at Momastery because she basically speaks my language so, so much and so many times she writes things that leave me saying, “Omg, yes, I could write that same thing” and while our past backgrounds are much different, the way she thinks about things now is so, so helpful to me some days and yes, she is awesome and you should read her). Anyway, she wrote a post called Don’t Carpe Diem and it sings my language. Instead of trying to seize every moment of every day and make it “good” (whatever the fuck good actually means), she instead encourages people to seize the moments inside the day that help you find peace. For her, it is seizing kairos, or “God’s time” which is basically the time outside of chronus where God shows you He exists. Since my definition of God is a bit broad, I tend to insert “Creator” and move on because it works for me. The goal is basically to stop expecting yourself to make every moment magical because no one can successfully keep up with that and striving to do so just sets you up for failure.

This is an area that Rin and I both have been working on because both of us have had the bad habit of letting one bad thing ruin an entire day, even when that thing was disproportionate to the rest of the day. We were cutting each other to pieces doing this and finally have started to manage not to do so. We’ve managed to work on being able to take things as they come and accepting that shit happens and then moving on. It doesn’t always work, but I can tell you it has dramatically cut down on the number of hurt feelings about one or the other of us inadvertently crushing a day for the other. It also helps keep me sane. Not expecting myself to be perfect and happy and good every single moment has been a huge life saver. It’s been part of accepting feelings as they come and learning how to properly react to them (and “properly” here means “for me” as opposed to necessarily what works for someone else). Carpe Kairos is one of my snippet mottos (I have a list; I’ll share them with you!) that helps me get through days and stressful moments.

Basically, what I’m trying to say is that I’m not the same person I was six months ago, a year ago, ten years ago, twenty years ago. I’ve changed. I am still so very flawed because who is not, but I am working on those flaws and working to have less of them. I’m also working on becoming better at admitting when I’m wrong and being able to apologize and move forward instead of sticking to the unhelpful “but I want to be right” mentality that got me in trouble a lot as a teenager. I’m trying. I’m imperfect and broken and I am sick and there is no denying any of that nor is there really any changing it. I do the best that I can and right now, I am so gods darned fragile that it scares the hell out of me. No, seriously, it does. I want to be “strong” and yet, I really don’t, because the definition that I have of “strong” for myself is flawed. So I’m learning that in being weak, vulnerable, and broken, there is strength. In acknowledging that I can’t do everything, there is strength. In being able to sit and write this out, to admit that I am walking into this trip more vulnerable than I have ever been, there is strength. Inside that admission is a request for gentleness and compassion (but note it is not asking to excuse poor behavior, because if I’m being a whiny punk, I don’t want someone to accept that because #vulnerable) and the understanding that I am trying, some days so hard that I can’t even put the trial into words. Some days, Rin cheers me on when I make it from bed, to the bathroom, to the living room, because some days I need even those absurd baby steps praised. There is also peace in all of this, peace that I’ve not had about this trip since we started talking about it. For the first time in the last two weeks, I’m not dreading leaving the state. (And I don’t want people to read this and think that I didn’t want to see them, because it is pretty much the opposite of that. It’s just that people are hard and feelings are hard and it is totally possible to want to see someone and wish that you could do it from four states away to protect your fragile heart, is what I’m saying.) I am broken and vulnerable and oh, so scared right now. There are so many unanswered questions in the balance and there are still many miles to go before most of those questions are answered. I’ll answer questions that I can, but I ask that you not become upset if I say, “Not right now” or if I direct you to Rin and let her do the explaining (especially since I know for some of you, the potential for me having MS has been a brief note in the middle of two giant notes, one from Rin and this one from me, so I suspect that there are questions). One, she has a short version down that is easier to deal with than me trying to fumble in my brain and two, some days, I just can’t. It’s that simple. I just can’t.

As I begin to run out of steam, I’m starting to wonder if all of this sounds negative and I truly, truly hope that’s not how it’s come across. I can’t begin to tell you how positive some of these changes are, for me and everyone around me. They are helping me to understand more about people and myself. They are helping me to learn to live with who I am not who the world thinks I should be (and in this case, the world includes young me who had dreams that didn’t involve a chronic illness), because that’s the me I get to be. Being more mindful is making me less quick to snark, to judge, and to automatically assume the worst of someone because there aren’t as many negative thoughts running around my own brain to cloud my vision. (Which is not to say that I’m never snarky for anyone who was worried about -that- possibility; it means I am snarky without necessarily being mean and there is a difference.) I am becoming more able to exist in my spoonie skin without constantly being angry at its failings and even when I do become angry with my body, I am able to acknowledge that anger and then find a way to turn it into something productive. You’d be AMAZED at the difference that simply acknowledging emotions that can have “negative” connotations can be for me. It also is involving me learning how to judge myself less (because, face it, I’ve been my worst critic since I was a kid and that’s not necessarily the best thing) and to forgive myself more. This is the one area that I still have a lot of trouble, but thankfully, people help me to remember to forgive myself, too. So, all of this is good, but it is also so utterly terrifying that sometimes it leaves me breathless. To be open and vulnerable requires an entirely new level of courage on my part and even now, I’m becoming pensive about hitting the “publish post” button…and yet, I know I will (at least after Rin reads this for major typos/issues) and I’ll likely even go so far as to tag people in it on facebook just as a “please read this and see the me that is here and not the me I used to be”.

Also, if you made it this far, bless you. I can’t imagine it was easy and gods know it is long as heck. And since it is long, there’s one more thing I’m going to leave (and honestly, it’s just a testament to how stream of thought this has been that it isn’t peppered with more links because there are several things that highlight some of these points so much that I want to share, but I’ll keep it to one more and not be overwhelming) a video here that I watched from another writer who is quickly becoming one of my go-to “go to church” writers, joining Glennon and Jenny. This particular video is by Brene Brown talking about Listening to Shame. I started watching it one day, curious because I’d seen several folks speak highly of her. I had to stop the video about two minutes in to start taking notes for myself because it moved me that much. It is likely because of Brene that I’m actually able to put all of this out there without a panic attack and for that, it is worth sharing.

Love Wins.

We can do hard things.

#omgthisisscary

Honor Among Orcs!

Beauty must save the 

BEAST

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Honor Among Orcs

by Amalia Dillin  
Publication Date: April 1, 2014
Series: Orc Saga, Book One
Genre: New Adult Fantasy/ Romantic Fantasy 



After nearly a decade as the king’s whipping-girl, Princess Arianna has no intention of going quietly into marriage to some treasonous noble, or serving obediently as the king’s spy until her death is more convenient. When she discovers a handsome orc, chained and trapped inside a magic mirror, Arianna cannot help but see a lasting freedom from her father’s abuse.

Left to rot inside a mirror by the king, Bolthorn never imagined his prayers would be answered by a princess. Nor did he ever expect to meet so worthy a woman after knowing her father’s cruelty. He needs her help to escape the mirror before the king marches against the orcs, but all he can offer Arianna is ice and darkness in exchange for her aid. 

If Arianna can free the monster behind the glass, perhaps she might free herself, as well. But once they cross the mountain, there will be no return, and the deadly winter is the least of what threatens them on the other side. Romance blossoms in this gripping fantasy adventure.


Available on
Amazon  |   B&N  |  Goodreads









About the Author


Amalia Dillin began as a Biology major before taking Latin and falling in love with old heroes and older gods. After that, she couldn’t stop writing about them, with the occasional break for more contemporary subjects. She lives in upstate New York with her husband, and dreams of the day when she will own goats–to pull her chariot through the sky, of course. 

Amalia is the author of the Fate of the Gods trilogy from World Weaver Press, and the soon to be released Orc Saga, coming April 1, 2014. You can learn more about her work at www.amaliadillin.com



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My Thoughts on Honor of the Orcs

Things have been quiet around my blog of late (though certainly not quiet outside of it which I’ll talk about later), but today I am pretty excited to be participating in the Book Blast for Amalia Dillin’s newest book, Honor Among Orcs. (Though after a couple of hours of fighting with coding between the book blast codes and wordpress being a pain, I’m questioning my sanity. :P) I have read books in Amalia’s Fate of the Gods series that begins with Forged By Fate that I absolutely adored, so I was pretty excited to hear about the new series. Being able to be a part of the book blast is something new for me, but I’m super happy to help Amalia out because she is an all around awesome person and a kick ass writer.

As much as I enjoyed Forged By Fate, I honestly did not know what to expect with Honor Among Orcs and I am occasionally trepidatious about new worlds (because sometimes I am a dork). It was an entirely different setting with an intriguing concept, so I was certainly game to go exploring. As I eagerly began those first pages, curious to see what wizardy Amalia had worked this time, I had no clue that I would be diving headfirst into a tale that begins with a rush and leaves you wondering just where the next turn of the bend will take you. One of the things I love about Amalia’s writing is her ability to make characters that are incredibly real. As you get the first glimpse of Arianna, you can almost feel the sprightly youth who is stuck trying to conform to her tyrannical father. The first glimpses of King Gunnar, Arianna’s father, almost left me cringing because I felt I could hear the smarmy smugness beneath the clear cruelty he exhibited. Descriptions of Lord Alviss and his actions left my skin crawling more than once, and I held certain rather strong feelings about what I would like to see happen to him. Perhaps most poignant of all was the introduction to Bolthorn, who even in wretched captivity managed to evade strength and safety behind his wary exterior. It was not difficult to get behind Arianna and Bolthorn early in the book and I found them both to be worthy leads to the story. Each had flaws and strengths that played to the other’s in such a way that it wove a clever story without seeming trite and boring.

Arianna and Bolthorn find themselves frequently struggling between worlds, whether it is human and orc, orc and elf, or somewhere in between. There are forces at play that neither of them had ever imagined, and at times, all that keeps them afloat is the assurance that somehow, somewhere, the other is there. I found myself frequently wondering just what could possibly happen next and there were several points and twists I certainly did not see coming which is a credit to the care and detail that Amalia writes with. The world she has begun to build with this book is certainly captivating and there is clearly room for a lot of storytelling within the landscape, and I found myself wanting to know more about so many things and so many places. Sometimes, a lot of room for more stories can make the story you’re reading confusing and in some cases, irritating. In the case of Honor Among Orcs, while I found I had questions and curiosities about other areas, I never felt it was distracting me from the story being told. Instead, it felt like I was catching glimpses of potential in the wilderness that could be seen but not yet touched, promises of a future both for Arianna and Bolthorn as well as members of their worlds past, present, and future.

Despite multiple characters being introduced, the story is easy to follow. At its start, it is a tale of a heroine trying to save a hero and herself, which is compelling enough on its own given how often the reverse is true, but at its heart, Honor is about finding strength in love, finding faith and trust in the most trying of moments, and of finding one’s place in the world. You cannot have the story of Arianna and Bolthorn without also learning of politics amongst orcs and elves and you cannot learn about orcs and elves without realizing that there are other lessons to find in the text. Themes such as questioning beauty (and not taking it at face value) as well as pride in oneself and one’s kith and kin recur within the story and find varying resolutions. The adventure of the story alone makes it a fantastic read, but the depths that Amalia explores inter-race politics, gender roles & expectations, and family dynamics make it something more than a simple adventure-love story.

As much as I love the story, there were a few spots I found it lagging. Some of the miscommunications between Arianna and Bolthorn in the early parts of the book before they reach the mountain pass grew tedious at times. I would have liked to have seen some of that resolved a bit sooner than it was. In my opinion, there were plenty of potential points of tension between them so a bit of the “she couldn’t possibly love me/he couldn’t possibly want me” grated on my nerves and I was definitely glad when that piece was resolved. In fact, this is perhaps the biggest point I had trouble with and had to keep making myself come back to the story without being distracted by other things. I wanted that resolution to happen, I felt that the resolution was going to happen, and for me, it just needed to happen a little sooner. To be clear, I’m not saying I think they should have fallen immediately head over heels for each other, because that is also annoying. I just wish that given the connection that had been forming between them they had managed to get their heads out of their bums and talk to each other just a few pages sooner than they did. Once that resolution happened, I stopped wondering when the story would pick up again and was swept straight back into the tale.

The other point that I wish had been a little more clear were who each of the Vala in the story were and their relationships to other parts of the story. I can’t spell this one out quite as clearly as I’d like without coming close to spoiler territory and I don’t want to do that. I suspect that part of it was I started to confuse some of the “V” names in the explanation part and a more careful reading might have helped me avoid that; however, it is a point that I found slightly frustrating, so I encourage you to read those parts carefully and catch a grasp of who each person is. (There is also a helpful Dramatis Personae at the end of the e-book that I found after the fact, so if you do become confused, I highly recommend jumping to that part and then returning to reading.)

Given that those two points are pretty minor in the grand scheme of book reading and are largely more personal things as opposed to actual writing flaws, I happily give the story five stars. I encourage you to read it and fall in love with the characters and become wrapped up in Amalia’s new world. While I still think I love Forged by Fate better, I’ll be quite eager to read more in Honor’s world as well. I know that Arianna and Bolthorn’s story is far from done and I cannot wait to see what happens next. (Also, I vote for Fossegrim to be a huge part in any other books written in this world because he was, by far, my favorite character. He is clearly a man with stories to tell and he exudes mischief and whimsy even when he is being serious. I loved him pretty much from the second sentence about him and my opinion of him only grew as the story went on. Let me just mention again how much I love Amalia’s ability to write characters and make them real.)

Now, what are you waiting for?! Enter the giveaway and speed off to buy the book! You won’t regret it!

Giveaway!



As a disclaimer, I received my copy of Honor Among Orcs in exchange for giving honest reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. While I certainly love free books, my opinions are based on the work itself and are not biased by the e-arc. I just also pride myself on honesty in reviews and thus felt the note was in order. Free books do not buy good reviews in my world. 🙂