Tuesday, August 19, 2008

my not-so-crappy list

Everyday, I try to do something that brings me and the kids joy. I don't feel the need to 'tell' anyone that I am not mainly negative lately....but I thought it may do ME some good to take a little inventory of the little things that make me smile lately... There are two little faces that shine at me every morning and all through the day that offer me the possibility of hope. Their presence is comforting and amusing and I feel so very, very blessed to them with me. They make me laugh often.
I am finding that photography has been a huge help in forcing me to find beauty around us. I am always on the hunt for colour, texture and sweet little faces. It makes me see the 'good' around me rather than miring myself in grief.

I love to hula hoop. It sounds ridiculous but I bought myself an adult sized hula hoop and haven't looked back since. Liv and I do it together. She can hula with four hoops, run while hooping and do it up her neck and down to her knees! I can do two at a time and can only walk like I am simultaneously hooping and having a seizure but I do enjoy it. Often, when the kids go to bed, I talk on the phone or watch a movie while hula hooping. It makes me laugh and have exercise at the same time. I love my list. I have a white board with all the tasks that I forget on it. It gives me IMMENSE satisfaction to wipe a line off.
I love getting the needed tasks around the house finished...especially when it is something that has needed fixing for awhile and involves power tools. It just seems to much more ....satisfying if I get to use something that could remove a body part and yet come out unscathed. I feel like I can take on anything and survive.
Chopping wood gives me the same sort of satisfaction...so much so that I needed to put it in again. I feel capable swinging an axe and ensuring that we'll be warm this winter. Preparing. Protecting.
I was asked the other day, though, how much wood we go through in a winter. I didn't know. Jeff knew. I would chop and stack with him. But he'd get the wood. He knew how much we went through. I guess I'll have to learn.
I LOVE berries. I love picking them and eating them and cooking with them and freezing them. I have begun my late summer hoard of the little balls of deliciousness.
I really enjoy getting mail. Unfortunately, most of the mail I get lately is either bills or involves the copious amounts of paperwork involving Jeff's death and the closure of his business...But I love 'happy mail' when it comes.
I also really love getting the comments on the blog. It is comforting to know that their are some people out there who listen to me. Who may not know me but will be a shoulder and hear me. Thank you. Your words of encouragement are heard and treasured.
I love our chickens. I find it comforting and cathartic to watch the birds wander around and peck or investigate their surroundings. Their lives must be so relaxing...other than worrying about Freckles, they just hang out and eat.
I have not mentioned all the poultry happenings as of late as I have been nervous about introducing anyone only to have them be a doggy treat. BUT I think I have it down to a science now. Anyhow, we have two of the original chicks (Lucy and a spazzy rooster - the rooster will be headed to Penny's soon. He doesn't make any noise but he really has a healthy.....sexual appetite and poor Lucy is not happy with his constant affections). We have two smallish pullets that Liv caught at Penny's and two turkeys, Pilgrim and Noel. We, also, *big gulp* have an incubator full of duck eggs again. Before you call PETA, please know that I have moved the incubator into the garage, far from Freckles waiting jaws. I am at a loss as to why I didn't think of it earlier.
My veggie garden brings me joy as well. Although it isn't nearly the garden it has been in previous years, it is still providing some food for our table and a feeling of satisfaction for me. I wish I had been more interested in it earlier this year as I now feel capable enough to care for it...but there is always next year.
Anyhow, I find small pockets of pleasure in these little things. To me, at times, it is a miracle that I can find joy. But other times, when I see those giggling faces or feel sticky little fingers wound around mine, I can't imagine not seeing it.


Kathryn said...


I think of you every time I pass the local Waldorf school where I live.

You seem like such a cool Mom to me. And not one of those Moms that tries to be hip and cool- you just are naturally so. Someone who takes tons of beautiful pictures, can do the hoola hoop (I've never been able to do that!), makes fresh jam for the kids, loves animals and probably doesn't run screaming if she sees a big spider (yes, I do that).

I so enjoy reading your blog and seeing your pics. Eventhough you may not see yourself as a strong person right now, I think it's pretty evident to your readers.
Keep on hoola hooping and wood chopping!

13mimosa said...

I never thought you were too negative, given the givens, but it is nice to take stock. I don't know why but I think it's woman or mother nature that we downplay all we achieve in our busy days - you achieve more than most and those gorgeous kids of yours (Liv especially) they look like they're getting plenty of your love.

Anonymous said...

what a sweet list. i don't know how you can even hula two hoops at once or 4 and walk?! that's just madness! whatever it is i'm glad it brings you joy.
you really take some wonderful pics (not just on this post, but overall).i especially like the dandelion one today.
hope the day treats you well and gives you all the smiles you deserve or better yet when you need them most. :)


Kate said...

I find lists very comforting. I always thought that wa sa touch of OCD, but who knows? Seeing those chickens makes me think of my childhood. We always had chickens and it was my job to feed them. I would complain, but now I sort of miss it. I really enjoy your photos and I'm glad you are feeling better.

IamDerby said...

ok, call me stupid (its ok) but I totally thought those mailboxes were chicken cages before I scrolled down!! I guess I am just a city girl!

Sol from Argentina said...

HOLA Jackie!
It was NICE to read that you are having some GOOD DAYS!..Keep on keep on!
You and your kids deserve the BEST!
Take care

Anonymous said...

The fact that you find snippets of joy so early on in this mourning process is huge.

Please just keep doing what you're doing Jackie, there are no 'rules' and nobody that's worthy of your respect would consider dictating what/how you should be dealing with this loss.

Every time one of these negative souls trys to project their unhappiness on you...you're mantra should be, f-u-c-k y-o-u.

Huge hugs, sweetie!


PS...you've had such a positive influence on me and my battle with breast cancer. Thank you!

Krista said...

That's a huge list of happy things, Jackie. Great job of taking stock. I wish I could have lingered and taken all your words in but Sammy sits beside me and insists that I scroll back up to see 'Wia' and her shining face as soon as I try to read down.

He loves him some Wia.


Eilie said...

Hell yah crossing stuff off of a list! I'm with ya there.

You are one amazing woman. I don't know many who could do as much as you do .. chop wood, hula hoop, garden, craft, find beauty in so many things, and be so honest with your feelings and emotions for anyone to read. I don't know how people can accuse you of being too negative ... I think you're being pretty fucking incredible about it all.

Rock on and namaste.

D said...

I'm smiling thinking about you hula hooping - because while I loved it as a child - I would be quite the site doing it now! I'm glad you are finding the positives in your day - We all need to do that more - but when you are having trouble finding those - know that there are many many many of us who are thinking of you and will lift you up any way that we can! Take Care of you and those sweet sweet little ones!
xoxo - Darcie in the MN

Kellie said...

This is a great post. I've been reading your blog for a little while now (linked to it from Matt's page). I have never thought of you as too depressing. I'd like those who complained to you that you were too down to try to live in your shoes for just one day. To all of them just say "screw em"! They don't know you and haven't experienced what you are going thru. You are doing as well as can be expected and I think you are a great inspiration to a lot of people out there dealing w/ different forms of grief. Hang in there!

Chris said...

What great photos. So glad that taking pics is helping you out. Plus you have such great subjects to photograph.

Your hula hooping seizure story cracked me up. I have never been able to hula - one of the least coordinated people i know. My luck I would end up breaking something.


Elfie33 said...

I love your list. Sometimes we all need to step back and see how blessed we are.

TheSingingBird said...

Go, Jackie, go! I love picturing you hula hoopin' and giggling with your little ones with the chickens running around every which way! :)

Kelsey said...

Liv's smiles is so beautiful and happy and so much like Jeff's in all the pictures you have shared of him.

Cadi said...

Sending you oodles of love! :-)

Your children are beautiful. You are beautiful, amazing, inspiring, talented... You're an awesome Mama, even if you have days where you may think you are not! You do so, so much! It's okay to have ups and downs. I wish everyone in your life would see that!


CrackerJacks said...

Your photos are just great. You seem to find beauty in the simplest of things. I love the chick pics!

Now, as for Hula Hooping...I'd hurt myself! I haven't hula hooped in years!

tanis said...

Clarissa Pinkola Estes says in "Women Who Run With The Wolves": 'A collective is often thought of as a culture that surrounds an individual.
Our challenge on behalf of the wild soul and our creative spirit is to NOT merge with any collective, but to distinguish ourselves from those who surround us, building bridges back to them as we choose.
We decide which bridges will become strong and well travelled, and which will remain sketchy and empty, and the collectives we favor with relationship will be those that offer the most support for our soul and creative life.'

Jackie, I met you just before Jeff died. My bridge to your Blog has been traveled often, ever since.
xo, Tanis

Anonymous said...

Another Matt Creeper here... your list is great and I think you're doing an amazingly bang-up job getting through each new day you face!

I love your hula-hoop story. My family just got the Wii Fit and we crack each other up doing our "virtual" hula-hooping exercises on there. It's hysterical to watch someone who isn't wearing a hula hoop go through the motions lest they drop it from their hips and fail the game!!
Cheers to you & the kids -- Have a great day.

Lori said...

I just want you to know that your list made me happy today and take stock of what I hold dear and what makes me happy. Your children look vibrant and to me that shows that your doing a fine job. I learned I like to mow-- along the lines of the chopping firewood. Maybe you can ask a friend with a house almost the same size as yours how much they go through and get a good guess. Or maybe the delivery guy has records of how much your husband ordered in the past.
Before I get back to work, just know that your strength and ability to keep on keeping on inspires me to push myself a little harder.

leigh in the sav said...

pleased to see a list of the pleasantries, but i certainly think it is ok to list, discuss, bemoan, or even flat-out-whine about the unpleasantries you wade through. either way you're addressing what is in front of you, figuring it out and moving through it.

although i will say that i bet it is really, really hard to complain and hula hoop at the same time. (never tried it because i suck at hula hooping, but i just bet...)

your family is in the thoughts of many - and we are all rooting for you.

Marissa said...

Once my family moves from this over-indulgent large house in the 'burbs, we're moving onto our 9.5 acres & plan to homestead a bit. I'm going to come back to you & ask you chicken questions, so learn all that you can now...for me! ;)

We're going to have goats too - what do you think about them? Ever tried to raise any?

Your hoola hoop, my pogo stick. Together we'd rock. Or just look really funny together. :D

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to say that you make me laugh, smile, sometime tear up a bit, and you make me stronger. Thank you for sharing your life with us, your journey... the good and the bad... I'll always be thinking of you.

Crash Course Widow said...

Gosh--hula hoops?!? No wonder you lost 40 pounds! ;) (Just teasing, btw.)

Good for you for having a not-so-unhappy list, and for posting it on your blog too. I hope it was intending partly to thumb your nose at whoever it was who said you were too negative.

Speaking as a widow 3 years out, it's really good to have the written record of the good AND the bad things in early grief. I remember writing in my journal about one GOOD day I had, about 4 months or so after Charley died. Most of my written record that early on was only about the pain, about my absolute shock and endless attempts to make sense of something, so it was nice to have a tangible reminder that there were some good moments too.

I'm glad to hear you're retaining some of your prior interests and feeling pride and accomplishment in your tasks. I think I did a better job in the first year of holding onto things like that than I did in year 2 or 3, and I certainly suffered for their absence and am doing much better now that I've "rediscovered" the job in those interests again.

Hang in there, Jackie...minute by minute, blackberry by blackberry, egg by egg....


Crash Course Widow said...

Oops, I meant: "'rediscovering' the *JOY* in those interests again.
Not *job*.


[Note to self: Learn to proofread before clicking "Publish comment," Candice....] [Rolling my eyes at myself]

Anonymous said...


I love your writing style and have been so caught up in reading your story these past few weeks. I have to say I really liked this post and read it several times. It is magical to find the snippets of beauty in the tiny moments of our lives. This is after all what life is all about.....each moment.....such treasures. It's amazing how you have captured these treasured moments digitally. You are a very creative photographer and an amazing woman. Your children are so beautiful. Liv looks so much like her Daddy with her beautiful expressive eyes, and Briar is such a handsome little boy. Such fun ages they are for sure! Keep enjoying the moments that you can and hold them close. They grow up way too fast! Hang in there Jackie, you are doing a GREAT job. I'd say you are doing the job of at least five people with all your parenting, wood chopping, gardening, hula hooping, animal care, and all the things that come along with that.

We are off to pick little balls of deliciousness on Saturday. My daughter's 18th birthday is Monday and she chose to have a party/picnic with friends and family at the orchard and pick raspberries. Funny how childhood memories stick with you and then you want to share those experiences with your teenage friends. I'll be thinking of you while picking raspberries on Saturday. When my girls were your children's ages we used to take the big wagon with us picking. That way we could drag snacks and drinks around with us. Ahhhhh.....the memories of when the girls were little, such special times : )


Matt's sorta cousin Barb

Anonymous said...

You rock; I am amazed at all you do for yourself. I agree; it is such a satisfying feeling to know that you are doing what is needed to provide for your family. Those are the times when you feel like The Greatest Mom in the World!

And ditto about lists...is there ANYTHING more satisying that crossing something off...?

You are doing great. We are so proud of you!


Anonymous said...

We would all benefit in making a "not-so-crappy" list.