I Am a Fixer

wp-1365255523453Or at least I want to be.  My first impulse on seeing any problem is to fix it.

Got a knitting problem? I’ll fix it. Electricity doesn’t work right? I’ll fix it. (Note the lack of “call someone to” in front of that.) Someone is in relationship trouble? I’ll fix it. Sick kids? I’ll fix it.

I hate it when I can’t fix it. There are also plenty of times I really shouldn’t fix it. I can be so good as so many things, sometimes it’s hard to remember that I can’t be good at everything, nor do I need to, and it’s okay to let someone else fix it. Sometimes somebody wants to fix it themselves, and just wants me to tell them how, but if they don’t say that specifically, I just fix it first and then realize I shouldn’t have later. (This happens with knitting stuff a lot.)

Sometimes I try to fix it, but make it worse instead. That’s even harder than not being able to fix it at all, because then I want to fix what I broke, and I still want to fix the original problem, and then I feel bad for causing trouble and for not being able to fix it.

I have little sleep and a long day and weekend ahead, and now the word fix looks funny and has lost all meaning, so I should stop there.

I Am a Truthspeaker

truthSure, everybody tells lies now and then.  Nobody is perfect.

What I mean is that I tend to call the world as I see it.  I am not good at fudging, glossing over, or being politically correct.  I hate being politically correct.  I try to be polite. I really don’t ever set out to hurt anybody.

I am getting better at keeping my mouth shut as I get older.  I’ve learned that my mouth gets me in trouble, so often it’s easier to just back into a corner and observe, rather than speak up and risk alienating myself. I’m pretty sure that my insistence on speaking up and making sure my voice was heard in every conversation, on not backing down, was a primary reason I kept getting kicked out of groups when the triplets were babies.  I’ve gotten better, but I still don’t trust myself enough to, for example, go into court in support of a friend, because I’d likely just end up in jail for contempt or something.

I have a big mouth with a small filter.  Yet another reason why it’s easier to just be a wallflower.  I tend to think it and say it without considering whether or not I should, so if I just tell myself not to say anything at all, I can stay out of trouble.  I also have a hard time considering my audience.  I’m pretty sure my mother-in-law still thinks of me as inappropriate and disrespectful, although I do try not to be.  I tend to see the humour even in the dark side of life, and I know that offends her.  I can’t imagine what she thought when Brian and I were making jokes while Kender was in his first surgery and we were waiting waiting waiting. Yes, I make jokes in the hospital.  Funerals are worse.  I like wakes better.  It’s been really, really hard to keep my mouth shut during funerals.

I am quick to point out faults.  It’s very hard for me to ignore something that is wrong.  My daughter will bring me this awesome drawing, and I’ll say, “Oooh, that’s fantastic!  So pretty!  That right leg is just a little off, though.”  I feel like, if I don’t say it when I see it, she’ll think it’s okay and just keep doing it wrong.  That’s my thinking behind most criticism.  I don’t want to encourage faults by ignoring them.  I try to ignore them if I haven’t been asked to comment or look at something, and I’m getting better at that.  But if I’m teaching somebody to knit, for example, I’m going to point out every mistake they make.  I’ll tell them if they’re doing well, too, if they’re going fast or keeping good tension or showing good dexterity.  I know my daughter wants to be an artist, so I’m going to point out areas that she needs to work on, so she can continue to improve.

I am not unreasonable or immune to education.  If I say something factually wrong, and somebody points it out, I am perfectly willing to concede.  I don’t like political correctness, but if somebody tells me that something specific offends them, I will do my best to watch my language in the future. On the flip side, there is that need to point out faults, to correct inaccuracies.  If I see somebody else saying something I know or believe to be false, or being inconsistent, I’m going to say it.  I can respect the opinions of others, and I really enjoy good discussions and debates with people on all sides, but I dislike hypocrisy and ignorance.

I want to speak out, to educate people.  I want to share what I know.  People often don’t like that.  I make people uncomfortable. I don’t like to push things under the rug, to pretend things didn’t happen.  I’m not good at keeping secrets.

I speak the truth as I see it.

I Am Not a Team Player

I have trust issues. I have perfection issues. I have communication issues. None of those things goes along well with working together with other people.

I can do it if there is a clear outline of tasks and responsibilities, and if I feel I can count on the others to do their part.  But collaboration? No. Joint effort on a single task? No.

This is a stumbling block, to be sure.

I am studying to be a priestess, to hopefully lead my own church someday. How can I do that without being able to surrender to teamwork in the circle? On the one hand, surrender sounds like the wrong word, but that’s what it feels like to me. It involves surrendering control, surrendering total responsibility (good or bad) over the outcome.

Surrender. Bending with the wind. Going with the flow. I think those are the keys.

I don’t have a lot of words today. Just a simple recognition that I have a hard time surrendering. It is something that I would like to be different. It is a skill that I can learn, and I will work on that.

I am Pansexual

poly-panToday I will dig up a part of myself that generally gets tucked away politely in a drawer, and I will shake it out and hang it up.

I am both pansexual and poly.  And I suppose I am still more in the closet about that than not. I already know I’m not going to publish this post as widely as my others.  I am still afraid of the backlash.  I fear bringing this out, because I still worry about what people think.  I worry about my husband’s job.  I worry about my children losing friends because their parents don’t approve of me.  All those reasons to stay tucked away in the closet, to suppress my true self and go along with the rest of society.  I’m pretty sure I do, in fact, have friends that would virtually stop speaking to us if they knew.

I grew up in a small town in Texas.  I lived a fairly sheltered life.  I learned to go along as best I could.  I think it is because of this lack of exposure to other ideas and concepts that I did not identify myself as poly until I was nearly an adult, and not bisexual until even later.  Pansexual is a term I only recently found out about.  When I found out about new terms, they always opened up new doors, gave me “Aha!” moments that let me identify a part of myself that was previously confused and unsure.

I found out about polyamory first.  My reaction to the concept was, “Duh! Why not?” I’ve never truly understood jealousy and possessiveness, not as I see them everywhere in our culture.  What difference would it make to me if my husband had a girlfriend? He’d still be my husband, he’d still sleep with me and support me and our children.  His going out on a date with somebody doesn’t take anything more away from me than his going out for a beer with friends.  Never having felt all that connected to Christianity, I certainly don’t have any connection to Christian values on this.  I don’t see any mystical significance personally to sex, monogamy, chastity, etc.  Faithfulness I would define as fulfilling obligations, to not abandoning somebody when times get tough.

I didn’t find out about the concept of bisexuality until after I was an adult.  I knew I enjoyed looking at women and finding them beautiful, but the “Aha!” moment happened when I was out on a first date. (Only date, really. He was skeeved at the thought of being a secondary.) We were sitting in Denny’s, waiting for a table, and a cute girl walked by.  We both watched her.  Then he watched me, watching her, and said, “I take it you swing the same way I do.” I had no idea what he was talking about, and he had to explain.  There it was: bisexual, an explanation and an open door.  I’m finding it so incredibly hard to put this into words, but it truly was a part of me that was there, but didn’t even know expression was even an option.

I’ve had a few girlfriends since then, but since having kids, it seems all those opportunities vanished.  A lot of that is me, going back into the closet to protect my family. Because I worry about offending people and disrupting our social circles, I keep everything inside.  If I think somebody looks or smells good, I hide it, I bury it and stomp on it, because I’m afraid to express it.  It’s like walking on eggshells, because what I really want to do is hold hands, give hugs, kiss and be cuddly and friendly when the impulse strikes.  Since I can never tell when that will be okay, I never do it.  Somebody has to hit me over the head to convince me that they’re flirting, and even then I don’t know how to open up. So I wander through life treating everybody like they’re the local Bible study group leader.

It’s not like I have time in my life right now for a full-on relationship, even a secondary.  It would just be nice not to be stifling myself quite so much, if I could conquer that fear and find a way.

I Am Not an Athlete

wp-1364915721052I have no idea how this comes across to various people I know.  Maybe it’s obvious, maybe not.  But I am definitely not an athlete.

I know I have tried pretty hard over the past years.  I tried pretty hard sometimes as a kid, too.  I learned figure skating.  I took gymnastics for a couple of years.  I took ballet classes, until they told me that my body type would never be able to go en pointe safely.  I rode my bike everywhere, although I never learned how to push myself hard enough to keep up with my aunt, the bicycle lady.  I did summer swim team for a couple of years.  I took tap and belly dancing classes as an adult.  I learned how to ski, amazingly well for never having more than one week every couple of years. I took up roller-skating, learned to step-skate with the local masters.  Finally, for the last two years or so, I’ve been a runner, and I’ve been doing strength training for the first time in my life.

But I am not an athlete.  And I never will be.  And that’s okay.

I certainly have a degree of talent.  Just like I am good with my hands, I am good with the rest of my body when it involves coordination and dexterity.  I learned to ski so quickly, I was on blue slopes and running away from my classes after only a day or two.  I got onto skates, and I was stepping out in the middle with the experts as fast as I could build the muscles and stamina.  I love dancing; I still wish I had a partner to go out ballroom dancing with, since my husband can’t. (Any takers?)

My body also has an amazingly ability to build strength and endurance.  I didn’t know this, really, until I started running and strength training.  I had never in my life been able to run a single lap, doing a single push up or sit up.  Now I can run for hours and do thirty push-ups and sit-ups a day.  These are things that I never thought I would be able to do.  I am very proud that my body has these abilities after all, and that I learned how to uncover them.

But I am not an athlete, and I never will be.

I have an image, a belief, that was pounded into my head during my years of government education.  It is not a true belief, but one that was reinforced by so much punishment and abuse that it will be very difficult to root out of my subconscious.  That belief is that what I think of as the Beautiful People, the thin, athletic people, the jocks and cheerleaders, the popular ones…they were the Right Way to Be.  And I am not worthwhile unless I at least try to be like them. Gym class is graven into my memory, in particular one time in fifth or sixth grade when I was literally pushed around the track by the guys in the class because I was too slow, and they couldn’t go in until I was finished.

Ultimately, it was to be like them and my father that I took up running.  The idea that it was possible came with my discovery of the whole Couch to 5K movement, but I had given it a try before, when I was younger.  It was not truly a desire to do it for myself.  The image in my mind was of crossing the finish line and finally being accepted, being okay, being worthwhile.

It was rather devastating when I called my father after my first 5K race, to tell him what I had done, and got a response that seemed more suited to telling him I had cooked a nice dinner.

So I need to do better, right?  So I looked at all these other newbie runners online, and decided I, too, could suddenly be a marathoner.  Because if running a 5K didn’t get me approval, then that would.  Then I would be okay.  Then I could sit at the table with the other guys and be an equal.

But I am not an athlete.  And I never will be.

My body made this abundantly clear to me this year.  The closer I got to the big race, the harder my training got, the more my body tried to make me stop.  Pain, pain, pain.  I kept going, because it’s only fibro, and that’s what athletes do, right? Too much pain, so I stopped, regrouped, rested, and then took off again.  The last few weeks, it wasn’t just pain anymore.  It was actual overtraining.  I lost my stride, my good form.  I started getting slower and slower, even as my heart rate was climbing and my effort seemed monumental.  I finally realized that I had to stop, that I was no longer doing anything healthy, but my brain continued to try and find a way around it, find a way to get back into the race.

But now I know.  I am not an athlete.  And I never will be.

I need to find a way to accept that it’s okay.  I need to convince my inner child that They were wrong, that it’s okay not to be one of the Beautiful People, that it’s okay not to be an athlete, that maybe my daddy loves me anyway.

I won’t stop entirely.  I do enjoy moving my body in intricate ways, just like I enjoy complicated knitting.  It’s a skill, and I love using it.  (I was serious about needing a dance partner, or a skating partner!) I will still train for a Warrior Dash this summer, after taking a month or two off to recover.  I enjoy having the ability to run, I enjoy having muscles and strength.  I don’t know that I will try to tackle anything longer or harder, though.  Because I don’t need to.

I am not an athlete.

I Am a Maker

IMG_20130401_095233I love to make things.  I’ve made things since before I can remember.  One of my earliest memories was working on a ladybug latchhook rug when I was about three years old.  I remember not being able to follow a straight line at that age, even though now that seems impossible. (This gives me a leetle bit of tolerance for what can look like laziness or incompetence in children.)  I also remember having a ball of candy-cane striped yarn that I used for knitting.  I’d knit a while, then unravel, then knit again, and unravel again.

My mother and grandmother never could tell me who taught me to knit and crochet.  I don’t remember learning, I just remember being able to do, although it took until I was nearly grown before I ever managed to finish anything!  I think my mother tried to teach me embroidery.  I remember having a few projects that I worked on at a very young age, 7 or 8.  I never liked it though.  Cross stitch was better, and I worked on that myself and actually finished a piece in my early teens.  I taught myself tatting at around the same time.  I also did a lot of ceramics painting growing up, since my grandmother owned a shop and my mother had her own set of molds and a kiln.  Shortly after I got married, I learned hardanger, the closest thing to an ancestral craft for me that I’ve found.

I dabble in other kinds of making as well.  I aced shop class in junior high, one of only two girls in the class (girls in shop, like boys in home ec, was still very, very rare and strange when and where I did it). I like to build Lego sets.  Whenever we get anything marked “some assembly required”, I secretly rejoice and scheme to make sure I get to do all the building.

I don’t like to sit still, and I don’t take notes well.  I learned in college that intricate doodles could contain information for me that I was listening to at the time of drawing.  Over the last 10 years, I’ve grown the confidence to take that into knitting and crochet, which is why you’ll usually see me doing that in any given class or lecture.  It’s how I pay attention now.

I like to make things.  I like to make complex, intricate things.  I’ve done giant filet crochet pieces, crochet lace-weight bedspreads, prize-winning hardanger doilies, stranded knit sweaters, socks and mittens and hats oh my!  And I’m good at it.  I know this.  There are not many skills involving dexterity that I cannot quickly and easily learn.  I can usually pick up something new just by watching somebody do it for a while.  I could probably say that making things brings me the highest level of pleasure, joy, accomplishment, competence, and appreciation of any activity I do.

The only thing that would make me happier would be to be able to make money by making things, preferably by making things out of string, thread, or yarn.  (I can sew, and I can do it well, but I don’t enjoy it nearly as much.)  That’s why I’ve been working so hard this past year to learn production styles of knitting, doing things the old-fashioned way.  Some of those knitters who relied on it for a living were amazingly fast!  If I could get to be that fast, I could use it.  That would be lovely.

Regardless…I am a Maker.

I Lack Follow-Through

wp-1364743007161I lack follow-through. There are many reasons for this. Some are out of my control.  Some are not.

First off, I am very very busy.  Sometimes I don’t like to admit how busy, but just my primary job of children, school, and house could keep me working hard for 17 hours a day, 7 days a week, if I wanted to be perfect at it. There is the job of homeschooling times six. There is the job of cooking and cleaning for eight, combined with training new people to be subordinates in this job.  There is the job of fundraising for Kender’s dog, now, on top of the job of keeping him safe without the dog when he is determined not to be. There is the job of generally managing the health and finances of eight people, some of whom have special needs, coordinating medications, doctors and hospitals, treatments and therapies.  There is the job of learning the skills of blindness myself, better than just being acquainted with them as the wife of a blind man, well enough to teach them to my son.

That’s just the bare bones.  Nevermind the extras, things just for me, like studying for priesthood, learning to knit at production speeds, reading books, keeping my body strong.

Every day, I struggle with priorities.  What job do I focus on, and what is going to slide because of it?  If I work on Kender’s fundraising, school and chores are going to fall behind. If I focus on training my subordinates, school and fundraising will fall behind.  No matter what I choose, every day something on my essential list is going undone.

With that lack of follow-through seemingly built into my life, is it any wonder that I feel trouble following through on additional ideas and commitments?

I’ve been working on learning to say no.  Sometimes I want to help somebody else, but I will wait (see I Am Lazy) for somebody else to step up first, because I fear my ability to follow through once I commit to help.  Sometimes I just say no up front.  I am learning, slowly, that I can’t do everything.

I have lots of ideas.  I wish I had my own army of minions, and when I have a great idea, something that would work beautifully and might even help me personally, but that I don’t have the time to focus on, then my minions could take over, take my idea and put it into action, consulting me for direction but getting it done themselves.  That would be nice.  I’d like to have SpiralScouts around for my children to participate, but I don’t have the time to deal with it myself. I’d like to bring in more income through my skills, like sewing and such, but again, there’s the lack of time, and spoons.

I wish I could find a way to manage my life just so that I could get the basics done, with a little time for myself.  I have tried every schedule, time manager, task system, etc., that I can find.  The problem seems to be that there is just too much.  I don’t know how to get everything taken care of, and neither does anybody else.  I can’t just cut out enough things to make it work, because too much is essential.  I need to find a way to recapture follow-though in my own life, though.  Without follow-through in my everyday life, how can I expect to have it available for anything or anybody else?

I Am a Mother

Back to the easy stuff for today. It counts, too!

I was the smart kid growing up, and I know my dad wanted so much out of me. I was supposed to go to college, a really fancy college, and get a really fancy degree, and work in a really fancy career, like neurosurgeon or rocket scientist. All of that sounded fun, and it still does, and those things still interest me and lead me to further self-education.

What I dreamed about, though, was being a mother. I was fascinated at an early age by the whole birthing process, something that seemed like a huge secret the whole world was conspiring to keep quiet. I used to daydream about having kids, babies, even twins sometimes. I fantasized about being a teen mother, even though I knew that practically speaking it was a very bad idea, but I was so anxious to get on with it.

Once I got to it, I was happy with it. I didn’t end up with an easy path, to be sure. Triplets aren’t a walk in the park no matter how much you love babies! But it was where I was supposed to be. I’ve evolved in my parenting over the last fourteen years, changed some things, improved on some things. We all do. I have always been more confident in my choices as a mother, though, than in almost anything else I do.

I love motherhood. I love growing and birthing babies, especially once I had the chance to “do it right.” I love nursing babies, sleeping with babies, watching babies grow. I’m not very good at playing with babies and toddlers, I never have been, but I’m good at caring for them, teaching them, and giving them what they need. As they grow older, I love watching the light in their eyes as they learn about the world. I love seeing them turn into people of their own, with their own thoughts, ideas, beliefs, and aspirations. I love having conversations with them, answering questions, getting questions that are hard and make me think.

I’ll miss the baby part, even though right now I’d really like to be done with diapers already. But I’m not done being a mother yet, and I’m doing a job I was meant to do.

I am a mother.

I Am Lazy

Finding myself can’t be all goodness and light.  Otherwise, what’s the point?

I am lazy. If something is not causing me physical discomfort or personal danger, I tend not to want to bother with it.  If there is something that needs attention or doing, I will sit and wait to see if anybody else is going to deal with it first, so I won’t have to.  The more competent people there are in the immediate vicinity, the worse it gets.  It’s infectious, too, hence our answering machine message, which says something like, “Everybody at this number is currently standing around looking at each other and waiting for somebody else to pick up the phone.”  That really happens.  It also happens when somebody knocks on the door, when something gets spilled, when there is yelling or hollering, etc.  Even if I might disagree with the way somebody else handles a situation, I tend to prefer them handling it over me handling it.  At a party or ritual, I will wait until the last possible minute to start clean up and tear down, in the hopes that somebody will do some of it first.

I can be obnoxious about it, too.  For example, I’ll wait until the last half hour before lunch, and then start doing all the morning chores, while muttering under my breath about how nobody else is doing them and how much I hurt today.

Pain can make anybody bitchy.  But an explanation is not an excuse.

I wonder how much of that is pain, and how much is not. If it is from pain, does that make it a true part of me, or not?

It’s a part of life that I have recognized and despaired over recently, my large quantities of inertia. But when I think back on it, it’s on the days when I feel remarkably pain-free that I actually do get up and bounce around the house, getting chores done quickly, answering the door and the phone, taking care of business. I’ll clear off the tables and sew, I’ll cook something nice without turning into a puddle when I’m done.

Am I being too hard on myself when I say I am lazy? How much am I supposed to fight? How much can I expect grace for my situation, versus pity or worse for being too weak?

Right now, I have a headache that has been here for almost a week, and I haven’t been able to run in nearly two and my feet still hurt, and both of those reflect into the general pain level. Which probably makes it a better time for examination than when I am pain-free, because then I tend to look back and wonder what I was complaining about. The memory of pain is always less. It’s a bad time for examination, too, because my brain is foggy and my thinking murky.

Do I want to be the person who fights every day to pretend nothing is wrong? Or can I accept “laziness” in order to save my strength for more important work than putting on a good show? What happens when this touches on my self-identity as a housewife, teacher, and mother, the Maureen Smith ideal I’ve always worked towards?

I Am a Reader

According to my parents, I cracked the code of the written word when I was just two years old. I have not slowed down since. I was reading Roald Dahl in kindergarten. My teacher then didn’t believe me and had me read aloud to her to prove I was really reading…at which point I got put in the first grade reading class. I read everything I could get my hands on as a kid. When my mom went shopping at the mall, I would ask to be left at the bookstore, and I’d just sit and read a book in the back, carefully not cracking the spine, until she came to get me. If I hadn’t finished, and I liked it, I’d ask her to buy it on the way out.

By sixth grade, I was already reading juvenile “romance” novels, the sort with the heroine who has two boyfriends, a good guy and a “bad” guy, and oh my gosh who can I choose?!? That didn’t last long. I was sneaking in and “borrowing” my mother’s V.C. Andrews books in junior high, as well as reading my dad’s science fiction. I bought Eon by Greg Bear in 7th or 8th grade, I don’t remember which. That was probably my first really truly “this is grown up stuff” reading material. When I was 13, I got bored on vacation and picked up To Sail Beyond the Sunset at a gift shop, and I was fully into adult reading material. That book purchase is memorable to me because it was the first Heinlein I ever read, the last book Heinlein ever wrote before dying, and I loved it so much I was constantly making my poor (probably embarrassed!) parents listen to me read the funny bits.

There’s not much I won’t read. There are things that I won’t necessarily pick up of my own volition (most popular women’s fiction comes under this heading), but if somebody told me to or asked me to, I would. In fact, if I found it in a waiting room or bathroom or someplace else and I didn’t already have a book of my own in my hands, I’d pick it up and read it. I read a few post-WWIII books that way, because I’d find them in my in-laws’ bathroom.

Leave me in front of words, or even in the general vicinity, and I’ll read them. I read all the signs that are posted on the wall, most of the magazines in the rack, every fine print warning. I read the ingredients, I read the safety warnings on the cans of air freshener and toilet cleaner in the bathrooms, I read all the words scrolling at the bottom of the news screen. I read all your pages and subpages. If I subscribe to a feed, I read every post. It’s compulsive. It’s like an addiction. A new book can keep me up all night, or sitting in a chair all day while my kids whine about lunch and dinner. All your text are belong to my eyes.

I don’t have a photographic or encyclopedic memory, although I can often remember the shape of information on a page, like the fact I’m looking for is in the upper right corner of a right-hand page facing a large graph on the left page. Everything I read gets stored in memory, especially non-fiction, research, medical reports, political papers, legislation, etc. However, going after that information is a little more like scrying than like pulling it back out of a reference book. I’ll bring the right facts back out, but I won’t always remember where exactly they came from, or how to cite them. My brain puts all that information into a big pile, and then waits for chemical reactions to take place linking different facts together.

I read myself to sleep at night. I read when I get up in the morning. I read while I’m eating; even when there are people with me, I have words ready to place in front of my eyes just in case the conversation lulls.

I love words. I am a Reader.