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As you know, we’ve been dealing with the flu here in Lovey-dovey-land, CO. We’re finally starting to feel better, so my daughter Becca and I decided to do a girl’s afternoon out. We started at Starbuck’s, where we had some coffee (me) and a “cake pop” (Becca). From there, we went to Macy’s, where Becca was lucky enough to get a “makeover” (a little lip gloss, eye shadow and blush) courtesy of the Estee Lauder counter – they’re wonderful people there! 🙂 She was quick to remind me that, “we girls have to moisturize, Mama” – my little girly-girl! (She picks up on this beauty stuff like a sponge – I don’t know where she gets it, because I hardly wear makeup at all!)

Ok – I worked my tail end off yesterday – syllabus for the class I’ll be teaching this fall (Developmental Psychology), Designing my business cards and brochures, meeting with people about office space…it was a busy, busy day. So, I’m taking a break today.

When I work with clients, I’m always encouraging people to be gentle with themselves. That doesn’t mean not being accountable for your actions, by the way – it does mean if you have to take yourself to task you can do it in a way that’s kind and gentle.

One of my friends recently about how the Golden Rule also means treating yourself the way you’d want to be treated. If you’ll notice, the Golden Rule doesn’t say, “Treat others as you treat yourself,” but rather “as you’d want to be treated.” So, why do we have so much trouble treating OURSELVES the way we’d want to be treated?

How often do we find ourselves chronically putting our needs last? Or ignoring our bodies’ needs for rest and relaxation? How often do we take care of everyone else, leaving no time to do so for ourselves? For women, especially, it’s a chronic issue.

When I work with people who chronically ignore or negate their own needs I used what I call “Healthy Selfishness.” I use this temr for a couple of reasons. One is that “selfishness” has been a label thrown at us likely since we were children, and it has such a negative connotation that reclaiming the word in a different way helps people see that it’s NOT a bad thing to take care of themselves. That’s the “Healthy” piece. It’s healthy to care for ourselves, and to let ourselves enjoy life and things we enjoy.

So, today I’m going to play. I’m getting out my kid’s easel, and we’re going to paint on the porch with bright tempera paint and great, big, chunky kids’ brushes. We’re going to splash in the wading pool, and we may go to the library as well. The point is, I’m going to let me kids teach me to play again.

Somewhere along the way to being a “responsible adult,” I lost that. I was always the “responsible child” so losing play happened pretty early for me. Today, I find myself yearning to let go, to play, to let loose – and I don’t know how. So…I’m going to the best teachers I know – my children.

I do have things I “should” do – I should work more on the development psychology class, I should work more on the paperwork for my private practice…but I also should relax, take care of myself and treat myself the way I’d want to be treated. I should also not judge myself as harshly and punitively as I do. I should treat myself gently, respectfully, and lovingly. And that means paying attention to my need to relax, play, and cut loose a little.

So, this is my attempt to work on those things. I’ll post pictures here next time of our painting adventures – all of us. 🙂

Pine Cone Spiral - copyright 2009 by Laura Burlingame-Lee

Pine Cone Spiral - copyright 2009 by Laura Burlingame-Lee

Hearing my kidlets laugh and playing with them
Helping others
The ocean, the shore, and Connecticut
Beachcombing
Listening to the sound of ocean waves
Traveling to new places
Adventures
Bright, sunny days and cool rainy days
Autumn
Spring
Sun sparkling on untouched snow
The smell of fallen leaves and ripe fruits
The smell of bread baking
Soft blankets and warm quilts
Hot cups of tea
A really good, engrossing book
A clean home
Good humor and jokes
Teaching
Learning – always, always learning!
Working for peace, unity and justice
Playing with art and office supplies
Knitting
Making Art
Photography
Writing and Journaling
Watching football all snuggled up
Swimming
Snuggling!
My spirituality
Learning about new religions and faith traditions
Quiet time
Good music
Appreciating art
Singing
Found and spontaneous art – chalk, PostSecret, guerilla art
Being creative in any way

What makes YOU happy?

Roses from Grandma's Garden - copyright 2009 by Laura Burlingame-Lee

Roses from Grandma's Garden - copyright 2009 by Laura Burlingame-Lee

1) Kids, cars, and hours do not mix well
2) Shake well and serve does NOT work in cars!
3) Your brand new mini-van becomes a “family car” in about 5 minutes
4) French fries find their way into crevices that you never knew existed
5) New crevices are invented the longer you’re on the road.
6) When the kids say, “Are we there yet?” and you haven’t even left the driveway, you know it’s going to be a long day.
7) There really is such a thing as purple dirt
8 ) It’s great to promise kids that we’ll go in the hotel swimming pool – until the weather changes
9) Do NOT allow noise-making toys to come in the car with you. You will lose your sanity within 2 1/2 minutes.
10) Sugar is NOT your friend.
11) Never take toddlers on long trips until they’re completely potty-trained.
12) Even when you leave space for more crap, the crap you get STILL ends up taking more space than you have.
13) When the water coming out of the hotel faucet is brown…worry. Worry a lot.
14) Little kids tag team to annoy, and the sum of the volume of their voices is greater than each one could possibly be alone.
15) Tinkerbell is NOT cute after the DVD has been played over 20 times. In one trip.
16) Your significant other will invariably pack more than s/he will ever use and will insist that it’s all necessary. (Sorry, Matt…)
17) Schedules are made to be broken.
18) Construction delays always occur when your kids are at their crabbiest.
19) The food you ate that morning will inevitably visit again by noon.
20) You will always be one diaper short. Always.
21) Family is…family. ‘Nuff said.
22) Kids always have to go to the bathroom immediately AFTER you pass the rest stop.
23) There is always another souvenir.
24) When going uphill, you’re always behind the truck.
25) You’ll never have enough time or money while on vacation – and they both go too fast.
26) Someone, somewhere WILL throw-up. Usually either in the middle of nowhere in the car or in the hotel room where you can’t escape it. Sigh…

Any more you all want to add? Let’s see what we can come up with?

Aidan and Becca, June 2009, Loveland CO

Aidan and Becca, June 2009, Loveland CO

After about a week and a half of weird, volatile weather, we finally have a typical sunny Colorado day. The temperature is 77 – just about perfect for being outside, and the around here to be able to just relax and enjoy the day; usually someone has to be somewhere and we’re rushing here and running there. Today is a wonderful exception to that rule.

We started our day by going to the park and playground. Loveland has some great parks and one of our favorites is Dwayne Webster Veteran’s Park, on Lake Loveland. The munchkins were able to run around and climb, swing, and slide to their hearts’ content, and I grabbed a table in one of the shelters and worked on some art ideas and wrote. There was a group of older adults from an assisted living facility having a picnic in the same shelter, too – I again realized how much I enjoy talking to people and hearing their stories. Some of the people obviously had Alzheimer’s or another sort of dementia, but it was so nice to talk about our kids, show pictures and listen. Two gentlemen were veterans of World War II, and we shared stories – my father was also a veteran of that war. The ladies were thrilled with Aidan and Rebecca, and my little princess-diva was captivated by all the attention. Aidan, as usual, simply took it in stride and looked for red balls.

After playing, we rediscovered the joy of Dairy Queen…is there anything more indicative of summer than seeing children eating ice-cream cones? I love seeing their little faces covered with ice-cream as they dive in and not just eat, but savor the cone with all their senses. Aidan especially loves to do this – he’ll talk about the taste and color of the ice-cream, how the cone has squares on it, and how the paper around the cone sticks to it and is blue. We enjoy these on the patio tables by the street, and he comments on the cars and trucks going by, and wonders where the nearest red balls are. Becca, meanwhile, just sticks her face in the cone and laps it up doggy-style.

Now home, we are outside and I’m on the porch writing while they splash in the kiddy-pool on the front courtyard. We live in a townhouse, with no yard, and I really miss having the expanse of green on which to play and run. Anyway, we have the kiddy pool set up on the flagstones, and they splash around having a good ol’ time. The latest bit of fun is filling cups with rocks and pouring water over them – making fountains. That’s Aidan’s idea, and it’s so nice to see him be a normal kid. (Except when he has to line up the rocks on the porch and freaks out when anyone touches them … sigh.) Even so, he’s engaging and playing and enjoying, and that’s wonderful to see. Little bit by little bit, we are unlocking Aidan, and he’s coming out more and more into the wider world we share.

The Tooth Fairy visited our house recently too – my little boy is growing up, and it’s bittersweet. The sweet part – as you might guess – is that he’s FINALLY potty-training. Big boy pants have been popular around here lately! He wants a guitar when he’s a big boy – and we’ve agreed. He thinks that he’ll get to be on “Jonas” when he gets it, and that Becca can be Hannah Montana. Who says autistic kids are completely in their own world? Higher functioning kiddos like Aidan very definitely notice and interpret the wider world. Getting them to stay there and interact with it is the challenge, and day by day, we’re still unlocking Aidan.

Summer…well, life is good, popsicles are sweet and cold, and the water from the hose is refreshing. Slides are slick, swings rush, and green grass grows, as do our kids – every day.

This is cross-posted from my professional blog, The Other Side of the Couch. I’m interested in what you all have to say, too!

I’m thinking of planning a retreat. I know, I’m probably nuts, but I figure if I need it, a lot of other people do as well. With my values being what they are, I’d love to make it free of cost, but reality dictates that I probably should charge to cover rental space, materials, food, speaker/teacher fees, etc. So, I have some questions for you all: If I were going to do this, what are the kinds of things you’d like to see? I have some ideas, too – I’d like to blend creative expression in some form with self-esteem, empowerment, relaxation, and healthy interactions.

I’m envisioning a day to start with people being able to choose/sign up for 4-5 one hour “experiences”. I would probably do a group breakfast, all together with fruit, pastries, tea/coffee, juice, along with a keynote/introductory address. Then, have people split up to do their “classes” with a 1/2 hour break in between for mingling and sharing experiences, and then wrap up with a brief talk about taking it home and living it in your life.

Here are the topics I’d like to see – PLEASE feel free to add your own! If I do this, I’d want it to appeal to as many people as possible, and would consider anything you suggest. Here’s my list:

Welcome, Introductions, and Orientation:

Workshops:
1) Setting Boundaries
2) Affirmations and Individualizing: How to honor and love yourself, and how to move away from letting others define who you are
3) Healing through Spiritual Practices: Meditation, Creative Visualizations, Ritualizing/Making the Sacred
4) Creating Balance in an Unbalanced World: Nurturing and caring for yourself while also meeting work and family obligations, realizing the importance of caring for and nurturing yourself and building it into your daily routine
5) Empowerment – Identifying and using your strengths
6) Writing Your Own Path – identifying archetypes that speak to you, and writing your own myth with you as the hero/ine.

Lunch – boxed lunches, catered; juice, water, iced tea

7) Finding Your Inner Artist – Finger painting and intuitive painting
8 ) Body Work – Intuitive Free Dancing to a variety of music
9) Body and Self-Acceptance – Learning how to “love the skin that you’re in”
10) Barriers to Achieving What You Want to Do With Your Life: Identifying what you want to do, and what the barriers to doing it are, collectively brainstorm steps to take to being overcoming these
11) Becoming the Person You Want to be: Taking stock of where you are in your life, and discovering who you want to be; celebrating the parts of you where you have reached this goal, and creating a plan to help you get to who you want to be – All Together

Wrap-Up, Thank-you’s to speakers/presenters, Evaluations and Suggestions.

I also envision having some vendors there making available relevant and inspiring products – humorous items, journals, inspirational works of art, gift baskets…I’d love to be able to offer a gift basket as a door prize/raffle/auction item. Another idea would be to have participants bring in creative pieces for a silent auction to benefit a local cause. What else can you all think of?

How does this sound to you all? Please let me know your suggestions – I’d love and would really appreciate what you’ve got to say. Thanks, so much! 🙂

I don’t know about you all, but to me the idea of a “retreat” sounds pretty wonderful right now. (A Caribbean vacation does, too – but hey, I’m trying to think realistically!). A friend of mine in Connecticut, Corinne “CoCo” Melvin is hosting a women’s retreat with the theme “Realize, Release, and ReFire” in Westport, CT. (Not to mention that face that being in CT in and of itself is a retreat for me!)

I admit it – I’m jealous! Frankly, I would love to ease back, and enjoy a retreat…I’d have hot teas (herbal, decaf, and regular), and yummy foods: fruit, cheese,crackers – and of course, chocolate! Soft relaxation music playing… I envision a group of about 20-30 women, interested in empowering themselves, living fully, and realizing the power of each other by learning about themselves and each other over the course of a day…a place where we can come together, and know that we’re not alone in all this. We are not alone – powerful words, again.

I’d have journaling workshops with all kind of creative materials, a stretching or yoga class, a meditation class, or creative visualization. I’d do a session on developing and writing your own personal myth – YOUR story, and where you want it to go, as well as do something where people could develop and create a personal symbol for them – to symbolize their growth, their self-love, and their connection to what’s important to them. I would hope to find something where people could connect with their dreams, and the person who gets lost in the day-to-day hassles of everyday living – and be able to take home that symbol as a reminder that this person is STILL there.

I would love to finish the day with a meal – literally, break bread with each other, and end with a releasing and celebration service or ritual, in the outside world…a park or yard, some outside space whereever we’d be.

As women, we often have the sense that we have to go it alone, that we have to be perfect and never show any weaknesses. We feel so isolated, even around people, because it’s so hard to let our authentic selves out. We feel vulnerable, judged, possibly rejected because we may or may not fit in, or we may not fit what we thing others want us to be. We are so alone, and lonely sometimes…I would love to have this retreat as a way to connect with each other, to say “you’re NOT alone” and “I understand”…”WE understand.” “You really CAN be who you are here, it’s ok.”

Anyway, that’s my dream retreat. I hope someday soon, I can make it happen. Until then…I’m dreaming, too – and working to make that dream a reality.

This is cross-posted from my other blog, “The Other Side of the Couch” where I discuss more psychological and professional issues.

Letters from the “Desperate Tubbywives”…

Does anyone know how little kids seem to KNOW when their parents are the most exhausted? They pick THAT time to stay up late, get hyperactive and into everything… What I would give for a good, long, restful night’s sleep. And a day without those frakkin’ Teletubbies! I think I need a vacation; I’m imagining all sorts of weird/naughty Teletubby movies/shows: Teletubbies do Dallas, or Nightmare on Tubby Street, or even Law & Order: Tubbyland. How about Tubbystar Galactica? Or Cops: Live in Tubbyland? I wish…And honestly…how may times can one person watch “Tinkerbell” and NOT explode??? At least with the Baby Einstein DVDs the music is good.

Early summer has come to Colorado. We are officially out of the drought now, and we’ve had temperatures in the 60’s for the last week, and the air smells fresh, new, and full of sunshine. (At least when it’s not raining and thundering and smelling of the dairy farm down the road!) It’s so nice to see grass, new green leaves, and even some brave lilies birthing their way through the heavy, wet soil and blossoming in the sun. The sun is hot already, foreshadowing a broiling summer, but for now, it feels wonderful. The little people have been itching to get outside and play, and I think they feel the change in their blood and bones. Aidan in particular seems to know that spring is here. “Mama, I want to go outside NOW!” He lives for being in the sunshine, and loves the world outside our walls. Becca sees how excited her brother gets – and, in her mind, if he wants it or has it, she should too. And she wants to be out in the sunshine playing too.

I was looking back over old pictures and found some from when Becca took her first steps; it’s funny how quickly you forget how tenuous and shaky those first steps into the unknown are. May your steps always be sure, and the ground firm under your feet, little princess. She runs and climbs now, and has such a look of triumph and pride on her little face, as well as sheer joy every time she tries and does something new. I feel so privileged to share in these moments.

Matthew (Capt. Obvious) is done with school for the summer…boy, is he in for a shock coming up. He thinks that he and his girlfriend and another couple they know are all going to move out to Greeley and live together. Problem is, he has no job, no car, no driver’s license, no money, etc. He says he going to transfer from CSU to UNC, but has not done anything to start that process. He sits and watches TV shows and movies on his computer all day…I think he’s in for a pretty big surprise when his friends expect him to pay rent, contribute to the housekeeping, and pay his way in other areas. As much as I hate to say this, I think (given his attitude and level of stubborness on this) that this is a time when I have to exercise “tough love” and let him sink or swim. And, of course, be able to come back to dry land (home) if it doesn’t work.

I’m itching to be outside and moving, too…I want to take my sketchbook and watercolors and try to catch a little of the world as it explodes into and Becca, and I love to see them express themselves creatively. They both are such incredible inspirations – full of life and love, likes and dislikes, piss and vinegar, too…I want to go play with them! I want to swing and slide and run and jump like I used to when I was a little girl. I want that little girl inside to finally feel safe and protected enough to let loose and just…well, play.

On that note, is there anything more fun that brand-new art supplies? I’m sure there are lots of things that are, but opening and using new watercolors, brushes, pastels, etc. is one of the most enjoyable things I can do. A while ago, while Aidan and Becca played in our small courtyard, I sat on the porch and drew/painted one of my neighbor’s townhouses. I’m still figuring out the color mixes in this new set of watercolors, but that was one of the most satisfying afternoons I’ve spent in a while. My drawing isn’t wonderful, but I was happy. If I can get my scanner working with the new computer, I may upload it to my page…we’ll see if my ego can take it.

Last spring and summer, I spent some time going around our neighborhood photographing the flowers and parks. I’m hoping to draw and paint from my photos and get some time in the sun, sketching and painting from life as well. At some time, I’d like to take some art classes too…just for the fun of it. It’s kinda like being a kid again, with a little more freedom. I’d love to take Aidan and Becca out with their crayons and paper too, and see if they’d spend some time drawing with me. (Matthew’s “too cool” to do this kind of stuff anymore with his mom…)

Another thing I’d to get into is digital art, especially combined with collage and book art. I spent a year and a half in book arts class while at my undergrad college, and I really miss it. Space is a consideration, as are materials, though these are obstacles that can be overcome. I dream of having real studio space…

My big dream would be to open a wellness center that includes massage therapy, traditional psychotherapy, art classes (especially but not necessarily tied in with art therapy), dance and music. I’d love to have an emphasis on growth and enjoying life and relationships. I’d love to have meditation groups, women’s groups, spirituality groups, as well as more traditional therapy groups such as DBT skills training, process groups, and stress management/coping. In this era of managed care, though, it’s hard to get funding for these type of endeavors, and there aren’t too many people willing to pay out of pocket for services like these. Still, it’s fun to dream…

I honestly don’t remember being able to simply play freely all that often when I was kid. The best times I remember were when I could escape my family and go off on my own…I would sit under this huge old oak tree in our back yard, and pretend that there were elves that lived in the tree…there was a door in the trunk with a spiral staircase that led up to the top and down to the underground home below, and if I looked hard enough, I would find it. I never did, but I also never stopped trying. There was also a willow tree further back, that had a perfect spread of branches for sitting, hiding, and reading. It was one of my favorite, most peaceful spots in the world.

When my sisters and I went back to Ohio when my father was dying, we went by our old house, and asked the current owners if we could look around. They had cut down the oak, saying that it was waving in the heavy winds (which it did) and they were afraid it would fall on the house. I think I grieved the loss of that tree almost as much as the loss of my father…it was 200 years old, and at least 150 feet high. I remember listening to the branches creaking and swaying in the wind, and though it was a comforting sound. I guess we each interpret our worlds in different ways, based on our experiences and lives to that point. I wish I could find a spot/tree/place like that out here. Colorado is beautiful, but has never felt like home. Walla Walla, WA did, but I doubt I’ll ever get back there.

It’s funny…of all the places I’ve lived, very few have felt like “home,” and none of them were places where I could stay permanently. The places where I’ve ended up settling (Boise, ID and Loveland, CO) don’t feel like home to me. I think that probably says more about me, than it does about the places I’ve lived. If I could live anywhere, it would be near the ocean. Barring that, someplace with history, and trees. Places where you can lose yourself in the beauty, wildness, and growth. Maybe someday…

Amazing how true this still is…still working in the nursery, Laundry Mountain has been repeatedly torn down and rebuilt – but is still there, and I’m still wanting more adventure in my life. The more things change, the more they stay the same 🙂

Feelin’ out o’ sorts…
Category: Goals, Plans, Hopes

Wow…what a day. I work in our church nursery, where I am a temporary “cuddle mama” to all the kids whose parents drop them off. It was nuts today, and I was exhausted and cranky by the end of the day. There are some days where I look at my life and think, “is this all there is?” Don’t get me wrong – I love my kids, with all my heart, and I wouldn’t want to be with anyone other than my husband. There are days, though, where the sheer ordinariness and predictability of my life gets to me.

I want to have adventure – I want to hop on a plane and fly to some place exotic and new…Marrakesh, Bombay, London, Cairo, Rio…anywhere so long as it’s not ordinary-somewhere-in-Colorado. I want to sit on the beach and sip Mai-Tais, go beachcombing and drawing/painting…explore little-known alleys of far-off bazaars…sail on a glass-bottom boat or learn to snorkel or scuba dive (do they even let large women do that?)

I’ve been reading Danny Gregory’s “Everyday Matters,” and I feel somewhat guilty about feeling this way. After all, my world could be turned upside down so easily, as was his. Reading this, though, did get me starting to notice all the little things that make my life unique – Laundry Mountain, The Kitchen Slough, and the Dirt-eating Carpet Monster…Aidan running around the house yelling, “Red Balls, Red Balls!” (something for another entry…:), Rebecca calling, “Mam! MAMMAM!”…There ARE many things to be grateful for.

Still…I wish I had more time for my art, and for my knitting. My UFO, the evil cardigan, weighs more mentally than it ever will physically, and I have so many projects I WANT to do…like make up my collage “Thank you” notes, work on David’s project (my FIL), etc., etc. And they all seem to weigh more heavily each day, as does the uncleaned house, the unwashed clothes, and unwritten notes. (And so what am I doing? Blogging…;P ) I guess I need to reconcile that the choices I make don’t always line up with what I think I want…sometimes life just takes over and I go on autopilot. And, at the rate I’m going, I’ll be lucky if Laundry Mountain doesn’t petrify soon…Move over Petrified Forest, make room for the petrified Socks of Doom…

Reflections of Reflections…

Other Facets of the Mirror