Sunday, November 23, 2014

A New Normal














The other day, through tears, I said to my husband, "I just miss feeling normal." He said: "There's going to be a new normal. Life will never be the same again, just like after we lost our first baby. But there will be a new normal."

Isn't he so right about that? 

Sometimes, things happen in our lives that change everything. They change the way you feel about yourself, and the way you see your life. Game-changers, I guess. At first you are ripped apart, and floating in darkness. You feel alone in your grief. You start to believe that this is all you will ever feel. Then days pass, and despite what people say, the pain doesn't lessen...but it does becomes familiar. You learn to live with it. 

The other day I realized that, from now on, whenever I meet someone new, and they ask about my parents, I will have to say, "My Dad lives in Germany, and my Mom died." This is now a piece of my story, and it's a part I cannot change. 

Rafael asks a lot about death. It has become a permanent part of the landscape of his childhood. This is another thing I cannot change. 

It means so much more than anything I can write here. The loss of my mother, the her-not-being-here, the no-more-letters-or-emails, the fact that her voice is only something I hear in my head. It has so much more weight than I can explain. It is woven throughout my days and nights. I think about it all the time. 

This lump in my throat, and the hot tears that spill. They are a part of my new normal. This missing. The terrible moment when I wake in the morning and remember that she is gone. Her final hours in the hospital, swollen, black and blue...and then seeing her lifeless, her body growing cold. It plays like a film in my mind every day. 

All a part of my new normal.

It's not that there wasn't beauty to be found in her death. Surrounded by loved ones! How many are so fortunate?

And it's not that there isn't beauty in my life. Just look at these photos. So much beauty indeed. 

But for now, it feels somehow separate from me. I laugh and smile, I play with my silly boy, and revel in his perfect face. I smooth his hair, put my face to his head and breath in his scent. I cook good meals, meet good friends. Talk about all the hundreds of things there are to talk about. 

But always, just beneath the surface, like a fine, lavender fog-colored layer that only I can see, right there, like a layer of second skin...there is that sadness. Always that sadness.

So the new normal is still settling in. I am still learning what it all means. 

xoxoxoxo







Sunday, November 2, 2014

A Perfect Autumn Walk







Hope you are all having a beautiful Autumn.

Thank you all so much for your kind words regarding the loss of my mother.

xoxoxo Dawn

Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Day My Mom Died









These pictures were taken just outside of San Francisco on the morning of August 25th. Later that day, my Mom died. She had been ill for a long time without knowing it, and once she found out, it went fast. We flew to her and spent her final days together. I was there, holding her foot, when she passed. 

Her illness was one of the reasons I stopped writing here. I found it hard to concentrate, hard to write about the beauty in each day. 

I don't know if I will continue this blog. Lately I find it hard to share personal things. 

I can tell you this: Rafael is blossoming, healthy, hilarious, and the most amazing person I've ever met. He is doing very well. 

The woods are still my sanctuary, the dogs are still my comfort, and my husband is still my best friend. 

I miss my Mom every day. It is unfair, and cruel, that she is gone. The past couple of years have been difficult, and I have had to be very strong. 

Fortunately, my life is also sparkling with blessings, wonders, and miracles.

Love, Dawn




Saturday, February 22, 2014

January and February






The first month of the year came and went in the blink of an eye. So many changes and new routines. Rafael began going to daycare two mornings a week and is getting settled in. I started waking up while it was still dark and the icy streets were empty to jog with the dogs. My husband's work year started up once again. Things felt fresh and full of good intentions.

My birthday was celebrated with a small but spectacular chocolate cake. I asked my husband to bring home flowers to decorate it, and he brought a big bouquet of roses. I ended up putting them in a vase and only using a cloud of baby breath on top of the frosting. I loved the simple look, paired with tall, thin candles. Friends and family came for the afternoon, it was a noisy bunch, toddlers running in and out of rooms, laughter and conversation. A friend made me a lovely little paintbrush organizer. My husband gave me a new wide lens for my camera. 

A couple of weeks ago Rafael got sick and I spent one of those terrible weeks stuck indoors with him. We watched lots of dvds, read hundreds of books, rolled out play-doh and lay out train tracks. He got amazingly good at doing puzzles. There were of course nice moments, but I have to admit that when he is sick I get depressed and my nerves are frazzled. Our whole rhythm is destroyed, and we are trapped inside these rooms with no break for days on end. I dream of going back to our regular daily routine, meeting with friends, going into the woods, even just going to the grocery store. In the end Rafael always seems a bit taller, and wiser. And I always think, "Why can't I just be more patient and serene?" 

Lately, when I get angry, and then Rafael and I make up again, he asks, "Are we best friends again?" And I melt and say, "Of course, we are always best friends, even when I'm angry." 

In my spare time I have been organizing my photographs and designing a logo and blog for my future small photography business. I will be offering child, family, and adult portraits. I'm feeling excited, mixed with fear and insecurity....can I do this? Will I be good at this? Will customers be satisfied? Am I capable of making smart business decisions? I try to put these questions in the back of my mind and don't let them slow me down.

Another important thing going on in my life right now is that, 11 days ago, I began Jamie Eason's LiveFit 12 week trainer program, and I'm already seeing and feeling results. It's mostly a mental challenge for me, sticking to the diet and getting my exhausted self to the gym. But the positive benefits are keeping me motivated. I don't want to look at old photos of the great figure I used to have with a sad feeling anymore...I want to look in the mirror and feel great about what I see. I also want to prove to myself that I can do this. It's not easy...if it was easy, everyone would do it. Sometimes I think, "What am I doing? Every-day-stuff is hard enough without adding all this meal preparation and training to the picture. Who cares if I'm out of shape. I'm a mom." My body is much stronger than my mind. My body if capable of so much. It's my mind that causes problems! I can't tell you how often I go on Instagram and look at motivating photos of fit moms, just to get myself to put on my gym clothes and go there. 

So that's what's been going on around here. I hope to blog again soon!

xoxoxo

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Christmas




I hope you're all enjoying the holidays. 

Things are very different with my husband home. Rafael is so excited to play and spend time with his father, and he usually pushes me away when I want to join saying, "No Mama, not you. Go away." I don't take it personal, or at least I try not to. I know he is making up for all the many many days his father was away or distracted this past year. Those two have a lot of catching up and bonding to do. 

This was the first Christmas where Rafael was aware of what was going on, so it was a lot of fun to get into all the magic making. Putting out cookies and a letter for Santa, wondering with Raffi what he would get, then clapping and saying 'Hurrah!' when there were gifts under the tree Christmas morning. Santa brought Raffi a big wooden Noah's Ark, and he has been playing with it for hours every day since, putting the animals in and out, and looking for the Mamas of the baby animals, reuniting them. "Where are you Mama Sheep? There is your Mama, little baby sheep. Now you can go in the boat with her."

I do sense that Rafael is going through a difficult period. He is very whiny and resistant to almost everything. He hates going on morning walks, which means that every day begins with a struggle. We try to mix things up, bring toys and tools along, go on new paths, pack a picnic. But he's not having it. He gets specific ideas in his head and when they don't happen he has major melt downs. We are doing that balancing act of trying to avoid freak-outs, but also trying to avoid raising a tyrant. It's tough. 

Still, at the end of the day, with our feet up on the coffe table and our nerves slowly easing, we look at each other and say, "Now that he's sleeping, I miss him." "He's so incredibly cute." "Remember when he said this and and did that?" 

Thanks for all of your input regarding my inner dialogue about parenting and the future. I really appreciate it.

xoxoxo




Friday, December 20, 2013

Questions















Although there is no snow, everything is gilded with ice. The frozen ground crunches under foot and the tree tops are frosted white.

I took my camera on a walk along my favorite new forest path, which leads to a grassy open area, all the shades of camel, sand, chestnut, and pale wheat. It is so beautiful there right now. Tranquil, completely silent except for the chirping of birds who swoop from branch to blackberry cane. The mist is so heavy that it is hard to tell where the trees end and the sky begins. I couldn't stop taking photographs.

I wanted to tell you about the combination of things which have made daily living in it's current state a bit difficult: since winter is here, and it is bitterly cold, Rafael doesn't want to stay in the forest very long in the mornings. He also has stopped taking naps at midday. And he also has found it hard lately to play on his own, which he used to do for long periods of time. This means that we have a ton of time indoors where he is dissatisfied. His friends are all in daycare or kindergarten, and he is starting to get antsy and bored with me as a play mate. I am really beginning to realize how unnatural it is for a child and a mother to be alone for such long periods of time. I don't think it is good for him, or for me. He needs the company of other children. And I need to talk about something other than firemen, and need to do something other than desperately try to come up with something to keep my son busy and happy. 

My husband's work year has come to a close and it has been refreshing to have more time for myself while he goes on little day trips to the zoo or museums with Rafael. While they strengthen their bond, I am quieting down and getting to know myself as a whole person, aside from my role as a mother. These quiet hours to myself, either at home or in the woods, give me the possibility to reflect on what I want. What is working in my life, and what could use improvement. Which areas need a little fixing, and which areas need a big renovation.

Questions I am asking myself lately: When this new year begins, what do I want to change about our daily rhythm? Should Rafael spend more time with other children in a childcare setting? Would it be better for him, and for myself, to have some space, and to have experiences with other children and people? Am I holding him back by keeping him at home? Or am I pushing him to early if I send him to daycare or kindergarten? If Rafael starts going to kindergarten or daycare a few mornings a week, how am I going to use my time alone? Should I do something creative? Something that earns money? Something creative that earns money would be great...but is that realistic? Should I instead use the time alone to get housework done so I can focus on Raffi when he's home? Or....should he stay home longer, as originally planned, and I just need to structure our at-home time better, and begin teaching him things at home myself? Will staying home make me bitter? Or do I just need a different approach?

I still have not found the answers to these questions. I am hoping things will evolve and form naturally, that answers will present themselves, that things will flow easily and I will make changes and decisions lovingly and with a happy heart. 

What I know for sure is that I must make some changes.

I feel pressure, in the time I have to myself, to be especially productive; to do or make something creative. I ask myself: is there really room, time, space, for me to just be for a little bit? Can I allow myself that? Today I finally let myself sit in bed for a while, looking out the window at bare branches and sky, even dozing off. I am so used to functioning day in and day out, and using every spare minute productively. After all, friends and family ask: "So, what did you do with your free time?" I always feel like I should have these great things to report. 

Just being along, doing nothing for a little while, felt like the biggest luxury imaginable. 

xoxoxo




Saturday, December 14, 2013

To be so strong







“Promise Yourself

To be so strong that nothing
can disturb your peace of mind.
To talk health, happiness, and prosperity
to every person you meet.

To make all your friends feel
that there is something in them
To look at the sunny side of everything
and make your optimism come true.

To think only the best, to work only for the best,
and to expect only the best.
To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others
as you are about your own.

To forget the mistakes of the past
and press on to the greater achievements of the future.
To wear a cheerful countenance at all times
and give every living creature you meet a smile.

To give so much time to the improvement of yourself
that you have no time to criticize others.
To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear,
and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.

To think well of yourself and to proclaim this fact to the world,
not in loud words but great deeds.
To live in faith that the whole world is on your side
so long as you are true to the best that is in you.” 

-Christian D. Larson Your Forces and How to Use Them

Maybe these words will enfold you in their warmth. When I read them I was filled with inspiration, and the strong desire to be true to the best that is in me.

The photos were taken at Annahof, an organic farm we like to visit whenever we get a chance. 

xoxoxo





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