Once Upon a November

This is my second year to not do NaBloPoMo. I'd done it for maybe a decade before that, never creating anything worth reading but reliably and consistently producing post after post of content each November.

I love November - it's my birthday month and the weather is most conducive - plenty of cool, breezy days, maybe a few non-threatening rainstorms mixed in. But there can be some warmth and sunshine now and again. 

It's Thanksgiving week. We're at the beach, meeting the in-laws and so the girls can have some nice relaxation time. I have worked from here - the remote work is fine but the set up in the extra bedroom of the beach house has really jacked up my back. And I am feeling all kinds of guilt about not being in the office, although I'm plenty productive and doing the things asked of me.

A lot of things about going back to work are startling to me -- both the things I'm learning about myself and the things I'm realizing about other people -- as professionals and just people in general. I know who I am and what matters, my girls, Shawn, my family, and so I've made the right calls of prioritizing time with them over what might feel "right" for the job, and it's good to make that choice and prioritization even through the discomfort.

I also deserve rest of my own. Even though I've "only" been working full-time for a few months. Even though I should be able to handle it all -- the mothering, the professionalism, the juggling of calendars and wanting to be in two places at the same time.

In my writers group, where I'm not writing much at all, someone mentioned a three-item daily gratitude list as a way to keep yourself writing. Yes, gratitude and thankfulness are important, especially as we head to Thanksgiving and the end of the year. I want to infuse my life with thanksgiving. To be truly satisfied. I'm not so much experiencing that, at least in part because of my tendency to see the bad, what's not working, the glaring obvious inefficiencies that then grate at me and worry me, giving me no peace.

So perhaps a three-item gratitude list wouldn't be the worst thing. But I haven't brought myself to do it even once really. My three things are Shawn, Jane and Livia. I'd like to be my best self for them, and that means not being great or perfect at anything. Muddling through where I can. Remembering what really matters and who I really am.

I haven't taken the time to write about it, to journal, to anything. And I process a lot of things through writing. Email drafts are too long. Emotions get wrung out in scribbled pages. Type type type type here on this blog. None of that has been happening (although a few emails -- I'm getting better at writing and deleting them at least). So there's some feeling adrift without the writing. 

An Email Request - Black Lives Matter

I very rarely get emails about something seen on my blog making someone think I'd be good to feature their product or service here. I recently got one because I wrote the words Black Lives Matter in 2018. Normally I delete any marketing request like that, both for the sake of me and the person hoping my traffic can help theirs. But Black Lives Matter, so I have no problem providing this link to the article.

Supporting BLM is crucial to help people in our society. This is the resource I was asked to link to, a detailed article on why we need to support the Black Lives Matter movement and how to get involved: https://www.dnaweekly.com/blog/support-black-lives-matter-reasons/

Read: What Is God Like?

What Is God Like?What Is God Like? by Rachel Held Evans
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What is God Like? God is Love. This beautifully illustrated book shares the heart of the late Rachel Held Evans and provides the basis of her faith in a way that's accessible to young readers and reinforces the beautiful gospel truth for all ages. I loved reading a digital NetGalley advanced reader copy, and I'm looking forward to holding the hard copy in my hands and sharing it with my daughters. Grateful that Matthew Paul Turner was able to see Rachel's vision through, and this book's beautiful prose will touch many children across the years.

View all my reviews

Enneagram One Memes to Save

I made this one in Canva after listening to this Unsolicited Advice for Ones episode of the Enneagram & Coffee podcast:

Then these are just ones that I've screen-shot from Instagram primarily, and in a very non-One way, I'm not going to try to link or find original sources (although I'd be happy to add links or take something down if any of this is your content):

Even before I knew Enneagram I had "You are doing great!" as my message in my Start Menu - I am my own best hype man!

Be Kind to Yourself

 I've been part of an Enneagram study with my church -- all on Zoom of course. It's through Life in the Trinity Ministries, a video course via Vimeo rather than DVDs or anything. Pretty expensive (each person had to pay for their access to the videos separately rather than just buying the DVD once that we'd all be able to watch together), but most people have seemed to enjoy it and get a lot out of it. My favorite part has been community building with my sub-group of friends. But the whole thing is tiresome especially during pandemic and when I've been very busy and pulled and stretched in different places and different ways.

This was a video that was recommended for my number (I am a 1) - by another participant. I just want to be able to find it later.

I've exhausted my core small group with my writing about my 1-ness. I can't identify "growing edges," and even Shawn is tired of hearing about it. I know I'm capable of change, but I can't even see what that change might look like.

Edit to add one more video, also 1-focused:

Psalm 64:1

They have changed the back-end editor for Blogger and so far I hate it. I can't adjust how the graphic appears -- text wrapping I mean, and I don't really want to break out my HTML skills for blogging.

Internal Weather Check: Raging Storms

Official artwork of this time
*I love my initials*
Housekeeping: I reverted the design of this blog back to "simply classic" or whatever the basic Blogger theme is. I liked the option of the other, but I couldn't get the older post/newer post scroll to work, and that's how I like to look at my blog, so the new theme wasn't working. I've still got it on mariwalker.com, and I'm trying to decide what to do with that site. Possibly a professional WordPress site would be better, as I am still creating content in other places and want to have a record. I'm not sure what's worth the effort (or expense beyond the simple domains).

I haven't written here since the pandemic, social distancing and stay-at-home orders. I've written elsewhere, of course, and at night while I'm trying to sleep I write like a demon in my mind. It's weird, when I am in front of a blank Google document or blog window the words don't flow like they do when I'm working things out before resting in the dark quiet of my room with the hum of a fan and Shawn's sleeping presence.

Everything is different. And yet a lot is the same. Some of that I can explore and unpack in a post for the magazine, since that's parenting-related. But some things are emotional and messy and more ME, and I decided this is the place to write and keep those memories. Or at least attempt that.

On a Zoom meeting yesterday (church staff meeting, of which I'm not on staff but my volunteer presence has expanded exponentially during this time ... another experience to unpack that's appropriate for here or as a faith story but another post entirely -- for a time such as this), our pastor asked for an internal weather check. Similar to John Wesley's "how is it with your soul" but with the prompt to respond with weather metaphors. I get a constricted heart and panic when asked the soul question. I'm not in tune enough to have a good answer, perhaps? It's also general anxiety of sharing with people that pre-dates the pandemic. But I experienced it anew in this virtual experience. I have answered the question more honestly on previous calls because the answer was clearer (mostly cloudy, anxious, maybe a little windy from the swings up and down). Yesterday I just said "fair" because in the moment it was just OK -- my kids were fine in the other room doing their Kindles, I could focus on whatever the call was going to be about. The reality of my internal weather, however, is volatile and there is not a constant weather pattern to be sure.

While trying to sleep last night what kept coming to mind was RAGING STORMS of anger. I am furious at the lack of federal leadership. This type of situation was what entered my mind and filled my being with terror on November 9, 2016. When this jerk and the establishment that enabled and supports him ruins everything my fears included: How will I get contacts? Will I have enough pens and paper and eyeliner? (Good grief.) How will I take care of my kids, and how can people who love them deeply do this to them? And those fears are more real than ever in this time.

Currently I'm furious with the notion that we can get back to "normal" any time soon, even as tens of thousands of Americans have died from this. How many deaths were preventable if adequate personal protective equipment were available? If the pandemic team hadn't been fired years ago? If shut downs and shelter-in-place orders had been issued across the country (you know, at a federal level)?

So I can push those storms down temporarily, and focus on my own little world and my little work. Parenting my two girls through this. Supporting Shawn and his research work. Keeping our church family connected through online offerings and other support. But when the rages surface they are engulfing. And the storms and anger can absolutely spill over into these other areas of my life. I speak unkindly, overstep my bounds and even break things (RIP two pairs of headphones so far).

The raging serves no constructive purpose, but neither can I change that about myself. I hope by recognizing it, marking it down and sharing it I can step toward peace or some semblance of it.


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