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Saturday, April 30, 2016

Motivation Kickstarter Day 8: My Struggle

As part of my quest to find my motivation, I've accepted the 30 Day Writing Challenge.  Each post will be added to the main post HERE.

With What Do I Struggle?

How do I begin to answer this?  I mean, it's not like I have just one struggle.  Who does?  Do I just pick one?  Do I try to identify the biggest?  Oh, whatever, I'm just choosing.

With what do I struggle?  Being my husband's wife.

I am a far better mother than I am a wife.  Specifically, I struggle being the wife of my husband.  He has borderline personality disorder and a hearing impairment.  Anyone familiar with borderline personality disorder knows how much of a struggle personal relationships can be, in part due to communication issues, so add in a hearing impairment and communication can sometimes feel impossible. Years of that has worn down my patience and tolerance, qualities never too fat in me anyway.  

My husband's reality and my reality can often be world's apart, neither understanding the other's.  I too often focus on those differences rather than on our similarities and love.  It can be so easy to hone in on the negative and forget the positive.  When I'm not mindful, that happens all to frequently and easily.  

Momming is much easier for me.  I think part of it is that I have a finite amount of patience and tolerance to give out every day (spoons, if you will) and they go first to my son before they go to anyone else.  If he's required more of me that day, I may have nothing left to give to my husband.  If he's going through a growth spurt or particularly difficult developmental phase, he's likely to use up all I have and dip into my reserves as well, so my husband finds himself out of luck in the wife department.  

As you can imagine, my husband requires a fair amount of spoons from me himself, so unless I'm flush with those offerings on any given day, something has to give and that something is a something between us.  I do love him, though, and the struggle is worth it, so we continue to fight through (sometimes literally, most times figuratively).  And I continue to struggle.

Motivation Kickstarter Day 7: My 10 Favorite Photos

As part of my quest to find my motivation, I've accepted the 30 Day Writing Challenge.  Each post will be added to the main post HERE.

My 10 Favorite Photos

Originally, this post was supposed to be about the five song's I'm loving right now.  The problem is, I don't listen to anything other than my son's iPod playlist and I'm totally not feeling those songs anymore.  You know the feeling.  And today's my birthday, so I get to do what I want and what I want is to look through some pictures and post that goodness instead.  So there.

Now, the problem is choosing just ten.  I don't get sentimental about most things, but pictures are the exception.  The walls in my home are covered in photos.  Covered.  I don't collect tchotchkes and I don't have much in my house that doesn't serve a practical purpose.  Photographic memories are the exception.  I still take pictures with an actual camera, print them all out, and put them in albums, frames, and photo boxes.  Suffice it to say, I don't have 10 favorites, but I had to choose, so I went with a nice sampling.  

My son in my dad's Sheriff uniform.  Perla Farias Photography.

Four generations of Blain women.

Meeting my first nephew just minutes after he was born.

My dad and grandmother having what my son would call "bed" and my dad's cousin looking on curiously.

Just the two of us on a beach under a pair of cypress trees and a double-rainbow.


My loves.  (And yes, this was before we knew better.)

Interlacing our fingers as we often did while breastfeeding.

I love our love.

Proud of himself, which makes me swoon.

*I took a risk by not watermarking all of these.  Please don't take advantage of that.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Motivation Kickstarter Day 6: Five Ways to Win My Heart

As part of my quest to find my motivation, I've accepted the 30 Day Writing Challenge.  Each post will be added to the main post HERE.

Five Ways to Win My Heart

1. Win my son's heart.  If my son loves you, I love you.  He's not an easy sell, so you have to be pretty neat to worm your way into his heart, but if you can make it, you've successfully wormed your way into mine, as well.  Conversely, though, if you hurt my son, you're done for with me.  

2. Give me space.  Neediness is a turn-off for me in all relationships.  This wasn't always the case.  In fact, I think I was the needy one in my early 20s, a time of great insecurity for me.  Now, though, I am at a point in my life where I know me, I like me, I enjoy me - that includes enjoying time with myself.  I recently had a friend who just would not let go.  It ruined us.  I kept telling her I needed space, she kept telling me that if I was a good friend, I would give her all of my time and energy, because that's what she needed.  It's OK to have your own needs and it's OK for me to have mine.  When those needs don't mesh, we can't have a relationship.  That's OK, too.  For me, space is key.

3. Consistently read my blog.  Recent lack of motivation aside, I put a lot of time, effort, and thought, a lot of myself into my blog.  If you want to know me, my blog is a good place to start, especially since I am far more open there than I am elsewhere.  So, to take the time to read it feels, to me, that you're taking the time to get to know me, which feels good.  It tells me you care about more than my more surface-level Facebook statuses, that you care about my heart and what makes me tick.  

4. Support my endeavors.  I opened a small business quite recently and am pleased with how it is coming along.  However, when I see my family sharing every cousin's school or sport team fundraiser but not even giving my page a simple like, it hurts my feelings, especially since I started this business out of necessity after my husband lost his job.  One needn't be a Harry Potter fan to support Potter Alma Mater, just an Amy fan to support me.  Like my blog, my business is a part of me.  Same goes for my book.  I have exactly one family member who actively supports my book.  I come from a very large family.  You do the math.  

5. Notice and appreciate the little, unique things.  I once had a boyfriend compliment my symmetry.  Another once giggled and commented on my cuteness when I purse my lips as I rock out to my jams.  One thought I was badass for the way I handled a screaming woman while on a call during my days in the Sheriff's Department.  These are the things that make me swoon.  I don't care for "you look nice" or other such vagueness and generalities.  I don't even care much for compliments on looks at all really.  Pay attention to the little things that make me me, though, and you'll have my heart forever.  My son is excellent at doing this.  It's just one of the infinite number of things I adore about him. 

(Potter Alma Mater: maker of fine Hogwarts gear can be found on Etsy and Facebook.)

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Motivation Kickstarter Day 5: Five Places I Want to Visit

As part of my quest to find my motivation, I've accepted the 30 Day Writing Challenge.  Each post will be added to the main post HERE

5 Places I Want to Visit

It's worth noting that all of these places shall be visited with my son and husband, because there's nothing worth experiencing if not experienced with them.

Backpacking through Europe, 2006
1. All towns and villages called Bray in Europe - Bray is my maiden name.  (The name I should've never given up, but that's for another post.)  We're mainly from western Europe and I'd love to go visit my roots and research them a little more deeply.

2. All 50 states in the U.S. - This has been a forever goal of mine and I refuse to die until I meet it.  

3. Every continent - I'd love to visit every country, but I don't think that's doable on a single teacher's salary, so I'll settle for every continent.

4. Japan - I'm completely fascinated by their beautiful landscapes.  I have no desire to see the cities, but the countryside sets my heart aflutter even from afar.

5. The Netherlands - Copy and paste everything I just wrote about Japan.  

Basically, I just want to travel.  I want to continue seeing how the rest of the world lives.  The more I experience, the more I learn.  The more I learn, the more I grow.  The more I toot, the better I feel, so let's eat b.......

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Motivation Kickstarter Day 4: Someone Who Inspires Me

As part of my quest to find my motivation, I've accepted the 30 Day Writing Challenge.  Each post will be added to the main post HERE.

Someone Who Inspires Me

There is no one who inspires me more than my son.  He makes me want to be a better person, most of what I create is for or because of him, and he evokes emotion in me like no other.  

Before I became a parent, I knew I'd love my child, but there was no way for me to know all he'd do for and to me.  He has created a whole new me just by being who he is.  He has deepened and broadened my understanding of myself, others, and the world around me just by being who he is.  And I want to do more.  I want to keep growing, keep learning, keep changing, keep acting for him.  

My son is ever-present in my consciousness.  Everything I say, think, do is always preceded by the thought of "how will this affect him?"  

I'm not a perfect person.  I'm not even a great one.  I do my best to do what's right, not what's easy, though, and living life alongside my son has taught me more and more about what right really means and has inspired me to do that right always.

Motivation Kickstarter Day 3: Pet Peeves

As part of my quest to find my motivation, I've accepted the 30 Day Writing Challenge.  Each post will be added to the main post HERE.

My Top Three Pet Peeves

I can be pretty peevish if I'm not careful, so it's hard for me to pick my top three.  I kind of have to be in the moment to even realize what peeves me.  Since I'm not feeling at all peevish right now, I'm just going to have to do my best.  

1. Whining.  Give me a good tantrum any day, but the sound of whining sends me over the edge.  It's even worse when it's an adult.  And yes, I've certainly been guilty of this myself.  

2. Indirect communication.  Aargh!  Just say what you mean!

3. Half-assing.  Throwing dirty shorts on the floor right by the hamper instead of in it, wiping up half the honey you dripped on the counter instead of looking for all that you may have spilled, not looking beyond the tip of your nose when searching for the sour cream in the fridge, and so on is virtually guaranteed to get an eye-roll from me.  If you "do" the work and then I have to go back and do it again, we're going to have a talk.

I wasn't feeling peevish before writing this, but, I'll admit, after thinking of these things, I am a little now.  Hrmph.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Motivation Kickstarter Day 2: Something Someone Told Me About Myself That Stuck With Me

As part of my quest to find my motivation, I've accepted the 30 Day Writing Challenge.  Each post will be added to the main post HERE.

Something Someone Told Me About Myself That Stuck

My knee-jerk reaction was to write about the negative (below).  It's what stuck.  Then I thought, "You know what, they don't deserve all that time and energy.  I'm going to write the positive thing, too, damn it!"  So I am.  Prompt be damned.  

Negative: "You talk too much."

When I was a kid, one of my aunts, my dad, and a couple other family members used to tell me regularly that I talked too much.  It always shut me right up.  It always humiliated me.  It always hurt my feelings.  But they didn't care about the latter two outcomes, just the former.  

It affected me forever.  Now, I don't talk about myself unless I'm asked a direct question.  I'll ask questions, I listen to what others have to say, and I'll discuss all of that, but I won't offer up anything about me unless it's pried out of me.  As such, I don't have many people who know me well (or as well as they think they do).  

I once had a wonderful conversation with a friend, but upon reflection later on in the evening, I worried that I had talked too much.  I immediately wrote to her to apologize for monopolizing the conversation, for talking too much about myself.  Her response was, "Huh, that's weird, I thought it was a really good talk.  I enjoyed it!"  I don't have a good barometer for such things and it's a direct result of being told this over and over in my youth.  

Kids listen.  Kids internalize.  Kids are affected by what you say and do to them.  Kids deserve better than your negativity.

Positive: "If you can sing like that, why do you teach?"

When I was a kid, I said I wanted voice lessons.  I was laughed at.  I never asked again.  It wasn't until I was in my mid-twenties that I got up the nerve to bust out some karaoke.  Even then, I was terrified of being judged, being laughed at.  Turns out, though, I was good.  I am good.
Unless I was in a huge crowd of strangers, virtually anonymous, I still never sang in front of anyone.  Nobody I knew ever heard me sing.  Ever.

Thanks to a little liquid courage at a end-of-the-school-year party, though, I busted out a song in front of my coworkers one night.  My boss, a man who used to call me a "natural teacher," approached me afterward with a stunned, but serious look on his face and asked, "If you can sing like that, why do you teach?  I mean, seriously!"  I'm a good teacher.  I'm a really good teacher.  I know it and he told me so.  So, for him to say that was a touching compliment that I've never forgotten.  

I still don't sing much except for in front of my son, who I know would never judge me, who asks me to sing along to his favorite songs, but there's a part of me that knows I'm good enough to sing for others.  Still, though, there was that one time with the laughing...

Kids listen.  Kids internalize.  Kids are affected by what you say and do to them.  Kids deserve better than your negativity.  

Motivation Kickstarter Day 1: 10 Things That Make Me Happy

As part of my quest to find my motivation, I've accepted the 30 Day Writing Challenge.  Each post will be added to the main post HERE.

10 Things That Make Me Happy

1. Watching my son test his self-imposed limits.  He's a cautious, careful kid.  I know the feeling.  Pain sounds like a bad idea to him, so he's not too apt to do something he thinks might get him hurt.  I don't have to remind him to wear his helmet when riding his bike.  He's all about the padding when he rides his scooter.  Nobody has to tell him to zip up the screen around the trampoline.  That's all great with me.  However, I am slightly saddened when I see him give up on something because he's once been hurt.  After his first bicycle fall, he didn't ride again for weeks.  Sad.  I mean, I get it, but still...  Like I said, he's cautious.  So, when I watch him riding along lifting his fingers off the handlebar, then momentarily lifting his whole hand, until he finally takes one hand off his handlebar all the while talking to himself quietly about what he's doing and how cool it is, my heart soars.  It's little, I know, but it's joyous.  He's gaining confidence in himself, breaking free of the shackles he's put upon himself, growing right before my eyes.  It's glorious and it makes me endlessly happy.

2. Making things.  Sewing, crochet, woodworking, building any number of goodies small and large - it all just makes me happy.  I love creating.  I love most creating things for others.  

3. Fixing things.  Self-sufficiency and independence are qualities I value highly.  Why have someone else do it for you when you can do it yourself?  And that sense of accomplishment when you do it is magnificent!  There's a whole learning process that goes into this that I find supremely satisfying.  I didn't know how to change a tire until I did it.  I didn't know how to change my oil until I did it.  I didn't know how to rewire and install lamps until I did.  I was born as ignorant as the next person, but I have spent my life curious, open to trying, and willing to fail and that has made all the difference.

4. Watching my son have fun.  Right now, he plays tennis.  He loves it.  I'm not sure which one of us looks forward to Wednesdays more: me or him.  He gets to play the sport he enjoys.  I get to watch him play the sport he enjoys.  It doesn't get much better.

5. Travel.  It's been on hold lately, because funds are tight, but I do so love to explore new places and experience new cultures.  I'm not big on traveling to the bigger, more popular tourist areas.  I prefer to wander off the beaten path and see the world as it really is.  One of my goals in life is to travel to every continent with my son and husband and share the world with them.

6. The sound of my son's laughter.  Kid cracks me up when he cracks up.  His laugh is the ultimate in ultimates.  I'll do most anything to help create that beautiful sound.

7. A clean house.  I get a sense of peace when my surroundings are clean, tidy, and organized.  The opposite gives me genuine anxiety.  My husband is, well, to put it mildly, a slob.  My son is a 5-year-old, so I'll leave that to your imagination.  When I can wade through all of that to give myself a nice little area all seems right with the world.

8. Watching my students grow.  I got another college graduation announcement today from one of my former high school students.  It was heavenly.  I keep in touch with many on Facebook, so I get to watch them learn, grow, fall, and get back up.  It's tremendous.  Watching as they develop greater understandings of the world, learn to see shades of gray instead of the adolescent black-and-white, follow their dreams, deal with fall-backs.  It is remarkable.  I am forever proud of who they were, who they are, and who they are becoming.

9. The happiness of those about whom I care.  An ex-boyfriend who I loved very deeply recently became a dad via adoption.  I'm so thrilled for him and his wife!  An old friend and her husband are finally pregnant after struggling through several IVF cycles.  Spectacular news!  Two husbands of friends have recently gotten promoted.  How fantastic for their families!  I read these studies about social media depressing people, because they see the highlight reels of their friends and I simply cannot relate.  If I care about someone, I hurt for their hurts and I am genuinely happy for their happiness.

10. Conversing with my son.  My best friend is a 5-year-old.  We talk about everything.  I don't just mean he talks and I listen, because that's all he's capable of understanding.  No, we both talk.  We converse with each other.  We listen, we connect, we engage.  It doesn't get much better.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Missing: My Motivation

No, no, I don't.
I've been searching for it for weeks, probably months.  It must be around here somewhere.  I simply cannot find my motivation to blog.  I'm feeling like there's nothing I haven't already said and no new way to say it  Besides that, Facebook's distribution of my stuff is just asinine, so I get discouraged even when my motivation does drop by for a brief visit. Oh, my word, I'm grossing myself out just writing this, so I'll move onto the purpose for this written whine.

I have been waiting for my motivation to reappear, but have come to the realization that it's just not going to happen that way.  Instead, I almost have to fake it until I make it.  So, I turned to online writing challenges for inspiration.  This is what I've decided on and, hopefully, just hopefully, it'll give me the kick in the butt I've been needing.  

The 30 Day Writing Challenge

Day 25: What's going right in life right now?
Day 26: Five things that make you laugh out loud
Day 27: The one that got away
Day 28: Your family
Day 29: Goals for the next 30 days
Day 30: Highs and lows for the next month

As I write each day, I'll insert the link to each blog post above.  Come back regularly to see how it's shaping up.  Wish me luck!

(Inspired by Adventures of a Bibliophile.)