Early fall days

The first true cold snap of the season has brought us interesting times.

Little monster was sick for his 15 month appointment. Therefore, the 2 year wellness check included catch up shots and the first part of his flu shot.

Bear cub has been bored with siblings feeling blah, weather changes and mom being exhausted. He is binge watching Hilda and cooking shows.

Princess superhero is sick. She is trying to convince me she can go to school tomorrow. Nope, you are working hard on getting full blown larangytis.

Freyrson has been traveling every week since mid August. His body finally had enough and his back gave. He is recouperating slowly.

Me. I am exhausted. everyone has managed to bump or hit where I got my flu shot. Add in our furnace went and after months of single parenting my plate is now over full. Thankfully, we had expected it to go and have a home warranty. Because I knew this was going to happen it hasn’t pushed me over the limit. We also have 2 space heaters from our old house and great insulation. Sadly, I hadn’t gotten our chimney cleaned and inspected yet.

All in all not too bad. I am exhausted but everything is fixable. We have a roof over our head and food in our bellies. Most importantly we are together.

A day of cuddles, bonding and leftovers. My neighbor brought us bread pudding. I am turning yesterday’s pot roast and root vegetables into shredded meat with gravy, vegetables and noodles. Later the leftover pasta and meatballs will be added to zucchini, onions and sauce.

Happy Fall!

Irisa

Self Expression, Chances and Consequences

We express ourselves in a variety of ways: art, music, literature, gaming, cosplay, reenactments, physical activity, and personal connections are some examples of what we do. These activities are chosen because we have needs. A need to feel alive, to be heard, to make a difference, to express our emotions, share ideas, etc. These activities express our needs.

To find things that make us feel something becomes harder as the world becomes bigger and expectations become more materialistic. As a kid we are promised the golden life if we simply follow (insert magical path here). Life is not that simple. Choices have consequences. Common ones are college or not college. Go to college for the dream job and spend your life paying an impossible amount of debt that keeps you from your true dream of owning a home or travelling or raising a family. Don’t go to college and struggle for a decent job because you don’t have a piece of paper that says you can work in this non-specialty field.

Follow your passion is another dream we are told to follow; often up until we reach an age of double digits. Then we are told to be practical. What if the practical and the passion don’t match? Do you spend a lifetime reconciling those sides of yourself or spend a lifetime sacrificing one part for another? Who or what do you make happy? Yourself? Your bank account? Your family? Your friends? Each choice has a consequence.

Consequences don’t have to be negative or dire. However, they must be understood. Also, choices are rarely unchangeable. Just because you can change something doesn’t mean you should be careless with the big stuff. Conversely, because there are consequences doesn’t mean you should be afraid of choices and chances.

I suffered in silence for decades. Living the life I was supposed to live. The life everyone told me would make me happy. The life that was the ideal I was supposed to want. I was miserable and sick. I dealt with depression because I felt ungrateful that I didn’t want what “normal” people wanted.

My reality was that I gave up my passion for a when I had time hobby; in exchange for a decent paying job that sucked the life out of me. Literally, I had migraines, got sick constantly, became suicidal and was self destructive.  But my family and friends were proud of me. Everyone thought I was living a dream. Perhaps I was, but it was not my dream.

I tried to go to college to make my parents happy. I hated it. I didn’t want to go. I wanted to run away from home, so I did by doing what they wanted. In the end I burned out, made inexperienced life choices, trusted the wrong people, and ended up with a huge financial burden and no college degree.

I was dating someone who moved in with me. My family hated it because I wasn’t married. We got engaged and the night before my wedding I sat in my apartment throwing up. I knew this wasn’t what I wanted and felt ungrateful because I had someone who wanted to marry me and a decent job and I was miserable. I wanted to pack my bag and take off for the mountains. So, I said I do. Later I learned he had his own doubts and we spent years making each other miserable before I got the courage to leave.

I tried to find myself in shopping malls, silk suits and well-paying corporate jobs. Every credit card bill, fluorescent light and expected social gathering left a part of my mind shrieking in pain and a false smile on my lips. I was embarrassed by social connections and cringed when praised for those connections.
On weekends I drowned myself in whiskey and frivolity. The more uncomfortable I was, the more I drank and shopped. Looking for answers in dulled senses and esoteric items. But my mind drifted to the lake and the woods. The smell of campfire and crunch of dirt and gravel under a tire as you drive into the woods losing cell and radio signal.

One day I snapped. I no longer cared if I was alone or disappointing everyone. I saw happiness and I ran towards it, never looking back. Seven years ago, I emptied my bank account and retired from a 20 year career. I had no plan other than to follow my heart. It was the biggest leap of faith I had ever taken as I was in my 30’s and starting over. I may not have a retirement plan and life is a lot more day-to-day, but I have traded one set of values and ideals for another that is in line with my heart and my head. Not other people’s expectations.

There isn’t much I miss about my old life. This life brings me closer to bliss described in the fairy tales I read growing up.  Being truly content and happy terrifies me half the time. I have a circle of friends that I consider family. Three amazing humans that call me mommy and a best friend to share this craziness with. I may not live on a mountain, but I have trees, space to garden and a creek with an active ecosystem and wildlife. I find myself more comfortable in my own skin than I ever thought possible.

We have options in our lives. We are not trapped by choices of our youth. Life is precious and we need to balance financial needs with emotional needs. Find a path that gives you that balance. Balance isn’t the same for each person. Nor does balance stay the same throughout our life.

Stay true to yourself and those in your care. Find your personal balance. Weave your magic. Magic is what we make.

Magic is what we live and weave each moment of each day.
Blessings,
Irisa MacKenzie
Sassy Viking Mama

Urban sanctuary

I invite you to make the time to slow down and find a spot in nature. A place where the surroundings call to your soul; calming you in a way you have not felt since innocence. Just breathe and listen. Close your eyes and feel the elements against your skin. Open your eyes and see what is around … not critically, but curiously. The wonder of a child finding their place in this world.

This morning I drank a cup of coffee from my porch and watched the storm clouds rolling past …. fat, gray and searching for a place to release their storms. My sanctuary is just a few blocks from a city street. The sounds of an urban neighborhood mixing with the call of the birds and sting of mosquito.

We moved at the beginning of the month. For the first time in years I feel like I can breathe. The call of the sun and moon is not being drowned out by anxiety. All of us are lighter. Watching the kids dig thru the garden for bugs. Learning ebb and flow as the creek rises and swells during the Summer storms, then returns to normal.

Nature gives many opportunities to learn and teach. The creek that runs through our property is one such lesson. The first time she swelled with the storms I had to discuss the dangers during this time with them. A fine line between scaring them and being honest if they fell in.

My middle child is four and his response to the conversation was to make offerings to Thor for protection. The second time storms rolled thru and the creek began to swell the six and four year old double checked the doors were safety locked so their baby brother couldn’t get to the yard. Then they asked to do offerings.

Each day we are finding our place in a new city. Our house becoming a home. Becoming in tune to the rhythms of our place in the world. Each of us growing tall and becoming rooted.

How can you blossom were you are currently planted?

Irisa MacKenzie

New Adventures on the Horizon

It has been too long since I have sat down to write. My mind feels a clogged mess as the words attempt to find a way out. Chaos feels as though it is pressing down as I struggle to keep my logical mind focused on the current goal.

My words have been silent but my actions have been in overdrive. The beginning of April our family embarked on the adventure of searching for a new home. Tomorrow, we close on a house. I am beyond excited and stressed about getting the remaining packing done in time.

Our kids are excited. While they had fun looking at all the houses; they were also very glad when we were done. Packing with three children under the age of six is an adventure. I am including them in most of it and when they tire of the work we find ways for them to decompress. Usually through neighborhood friends or tablet time. The one year old is being very clingy right now; it is nice to be his safe space. All in all the kids are handling this very well.

My partner is working an enormous amount of hours for a work project, so I am pretty solo on this side of the adventure. I have watched the video that I took of the house a lot to help keep my sanity right now.

This is all good stress, but it is stressful nonetheless. This time next week I will be having coffee in my own little sanctuary. I will have several writing nooks, a shared office on the first floor (our current office is in a basement) and a property that is small but inspiring.

Honestly, I cannot wait to put a chair by the creek and write. To sit and be with our little piece of nature a stone’s throw away from downtown. A place to set our own roots, create and replenish our soul’s.

Blessings,

Irisa

Notable – daily challenge

There is a dream deep within my soul that I have carried with me from an early age. Am I worthy of this dream? Do I deserve the success of this dream? Those are the questions that plague me. I have no doubts that I can achieve that dream. Fear keeps me from being the notable person that I wish to be.

I was told as a child that all the problems in the world of adults around me was my fault. This left me convinced that I was worthless and undeserving. The fear that this is true keeps my from my deepest dream. The one I know that I can succeed at if I can get out of my own way. The one that will let me leave my mark and make my life notable.

Each word I write in public and private. Each connection I make with another human brings me closer to believing I deserve the success and opportunity of my dream. I have no doubts in my abilities. I doubt my worth.

In response to these doubts I have pledged this be the year that I face the fears that feed my self-doubt and destroy my self-confidence. I write, connect and share. I practice kindness and compassion on myself as well as forgiveness. I embrace the love that I believe in. All in an effort to be the notable person I wish to be.

Carpe Diem

Irisa MacKenzie

Recovering Human

Fear, anxiety, depression. They are very real issues that prevent so many of us from living. These issues prevent us from being our authentic selves. Questions that go round and round in our minds.

How do you love when you were raised that love is a lie?

How do you parent when the parents you had were cruel?

How do you form healthy relationships when all you have known are toxic ones?

How do you love when you don’t understand what love is?

How do you have friendships when you feel you are worthless and nothing to give?

How do you create when the fear is choking you?

To these questions (and more) I say:

I find and embrace the warrior within. The warrior within is the part of me that hasn’t been broken. It is the part of me that wants to eradicate the fear, anxiety and depression. As long as one cell within my body wants to fight, then I have a warrior within that can shine through.

I will use the warrior within to create.

I will use the warrior within to break through my fear.

I will use the warrior within to turn the internal screaming into art and beauty.

I will use my pain, fear and insecurity to create; to be productive; to succeeed. I will dream of love and trust and live my life as though the dreams are real. I will make that type of love real. I will accept that I am loved. I will not let the people in my past destroy the love I have now. Because if I do, I will never feel his arms around me. I will miss the small smiles, tiny hands, big hearts as they show me who they are.

I do not need or want anxiety in my life. I will fight each day to silence your voice. The cruelty you share and play in my mind. The fears you plant in my Soul. The lies you whisper in my ear. I no longer give you harbor in my body, mind or spirit. I will not respond to your call.

I will only listen and answer to love and creativity. I cannot do this any other way because I will drown in your siren’s call if I do not find the warrior strength within. Those that believe in me deserve the best of me.

Now, when the anxiety and fear are in control, I am not the best of me. I am raw. I am honest. I am strong. I am weak. I am broken. I am whole. At this moment I am a contradiction of healing and healed. I am a recovering human.

Recovering from the faults of humanity. Recovering from lies and deceit. Recovering from the weakness of others and the weakness within. Recovering from choices and consequences. I am human who will use her ability to love and create to fill her cracks with gold. To create a new standard of beauty and wholeness. To be real and authentic without apology. I am a recovering human.

I embrace my role as a recovering human and begin the journey of uncovering, discovering and sharing my authentic self.

Irisa MacKenzie

Giving a Fuck

I was reading an article this morning on Scary Mommy. The author discusses the changes that she had to make once she had a third child. I relate to so many of the comments she made. Parenting three kids is a juggling act. Someone is always waiting for your time and attention.

My youngest is a year and half old. Since my pregnancy we have all been making adjustments. From the slowing down as I got big enough to need my own zip code to preparing the kids for another sibling to making peace with the necessary changes in my parenting. Slowly, I have been finding my way to not giving a fuck.

The biggest realization came recently when my anxiety and exhaustion caused a full breakdown in front of my family. Tears and crying that there was not enough of me to go around for all of them. That I felt I was failing them. The most amazing thing happened. Instead of them validating my fears, I received unconditional love and support.

My middle child (age 4) gave me magic kisses and hugs. Squeezing me tight saying “my hugs are magic and will make you better, right?” … always baby, always. The oldest (age 6) gave me a kiss on forehead, told me it would be okay and then went and got my childhood teddy bear. The youngest laid his head on my lap and patted me. In that moment I realized I wasn’t a total failure as a parent. These kids learned unconditional love and support from their dad and I.

The other realization to my anxiety trigger came from my husband. He pointed out that I wasn’t failing anyone. Our life was not filled with the hard deadlines I was used to from my career and past relationships. Things were fluid here with different priorities than I was used to. We discussed that a bit more.

This moment has been playing over in my mind and my heart. It summarizes the internal struggle I have been having. As a child and young adult I struggled between my wild self and doing as I was told so my parents would love me. This behavior translated into my teen and young adulthood, shaping how I had my first adult relationships.

On a professional level, I learned how to play the corporate games. How to act in that environment so I would get the right review and pay increase. Inside I was drowning. Twisted in anxiety and depression because my true self was being smothered every moment of every day with other people’s deadlines and agendas. All for the pretense of love and acceptance.

On the surface I had a wonderful career and family. Inside I was dying and it made me a person I disliked. Looking in the mirror was painful because the image reflected back was one of self loathing. The more I told my now ex-husband how unhappy I was, the more ungrateful and impossible to please he told me I was. This spiraled for almost two decades until it exploded.

The explosion brought with it much happiness and the life I wanted. But the anxiety haunts me. I have spent so much of my life being what everyone else wants I cannot shake the feeling that I am a fraud. The hardest expectation I have ever had is the one my current husband has for me, to be myself. He likes who I am. Something I am not used to as I was raised that wild, passionate, outspoken, clumsy person is something to be ashamed of.

Today, I have no deadlines to change my personal behavior or habits if I want love. The love is simply there. There are no expectations to have the house and kids look a certain way when he comes home. Alive and hopefully happy (they are toddlers) is enough. It reminds me that even my approach to a more organic and fluid life has been a structured plan in my head with timeframes to accomplish certain changes. The opposite of organic and fluid.

In my own way I have been working towards not giving a fuck what others think of me or what they feel the agenda for my life is for many years. Those that have been close to me over the years have not understood why this was so hard. It was impossibly hard because it was tied into being loved, accepted and valued. Until I learned the true meaning of that I could not move forward.

Each day I get to decide what is important and whether or not I give a fuck. Love is wonderful and messy, not a Hollywood production with music, perfect light, and often unlimited funds. True acceptance is filled with flaws, communication, raw honesty and love. Those are the things worth giving a fuck about.

Irisa MacKenzie

5 April 2018

Emotional Churn

Anxiety and depression cause the ebb and flow of emotions to churn on a consistent basis. A roller coaster is not an adequate analogy, but the ocean is. One moment stormy seas and the next moment calm waters. Never knowing when the tides would change in response to darkening skies.

I have lived with anxiety and depression my entire life. THis is what sent me on the road to spirituality and holistic living. There was no desire to spend my life on pharmaceuticals that made me sick. Medication has its place and should be used when needed, however if I can achieve the same results without pharmacology then I choose to do that.

Practicing my religion, meditation and writing have always given me solace. Feeling the ground beneath my feet, the breeze on my skin and the warmth of the sun comfort and strength. My hands in the dirt release and peace.

The emotional churn these last few years has been horrid. Death, divorce, miscarriages, adoption, pregnancy, birth, losing my land… so many changes in 6 years. Most of the time I haven’t felt that I can catch my breath before the next wave of emotional circumstances set in.

The emotional churn pulled me in for a long time. Deep into myself and my head. I analyze everything for long periods of time. Now that I am once again focused on my spiritual practices and not merely surviving, I feel as though I can breathe. There is a lot to digest about the past several years and the anxiety monster needs tamed once again, but I finally have the strength to care for myself not just my family.

My well is finally full enough to move forward. Each day I regain more for my well and that gives me more for my family as well. The emotional churn of anxiety may never fully leave me. PTSD may not allow for that, but I know it can get better. It has before and it will again.

Explore – daily challenge

I am at the point in my motherhood journey that I need to explore who I am. The last six years has been focused on infants, diapers, sleep, teething, adoption and pregnancy. As my youngest has fully entered the toddler stage I now need to explore where my life is and what these next chapters hold for all of us. They will always be my primary focus however as their needs shift and change I can begin to shift and change with them.

Our life is in an ebb and flow as the ocean to the moon. It is a dance of beauty and joy; ranging from wild to destructive to calm. As we explore the full depths of our personalities as individuals and a family our lives become richer by the moment. These moments are colored with joy, frustration, laughter and tears. Nothing can make you crazier than your children and you will never love anything more than those wild exuberant beings.

They have taught me more about myself in the last 6 years than I learned in the prior three decades. I know what I firmly want to remove from my personality, what I resent from my childhood and the loving kindness that I cannot live without. As I push them to stretch, dream and explore what their passions are I am reminded that I am turning a corner in motherhood. My days are coming out of the stretch of completely sleepless nights and survival mode of small children and entering a new phase of exploration and creativity.

There has been so much the last six years have taught me about relationships, boundaries, slowing down and myself. I am fortunate that most of my dreams have been fulfilled and I have a partner who is supporting me as I work on the rest. I have learned so much about my body and gentleness. In pregnancy I learned more about the mind, body, spirit journey than I did in decades of spiritual and holistic study. The lesson of being gentle took new meaning as I held my oldest in my arms for the first time. When my second child was born I stared at him in the nursery amazed at how tiny he was and terrified to hold him. When I carried my last child in my body I was in awe of the raw power of him inside me. Each child has changed me and for that I am grateful.

But now is the time for me to explore who I am at this point in my life. Where have the tides taken me? My first love was writing and it still is. I am out of practice and shy about it these days, but it is still the one thing that excites me and makes me feel completely alive. In fact, learning to write on the computer has been a challenge for me. I love the feel of pen and paper, but pregnancy carpal tunnel made that near impossible. So today, I begin to explore my love and depth of writing once again. To find my voice and to break free from the fear and share.

Explore your life, Find your Passion and live it!

Irisa MacKenzie

Uno Card Game as Pre-School Mathematics

As a stay at home parent who does not send their child to pre-school I am always looking for ways to teach my child that will not drive me crazy. Today’s focus was on mathematics. I intensely dislike math from my own school days. As such it is imperative that I find ways to make it as fun as possible for both our sake.

Some time ago I realized that Uno is a wonderful tool for pre-school math. It teaches colors, matching, numbers and addition. As he masters these basics we can increase his awareness to the concept of logic and strategy in gameplay. We started playing when my son was three and it is one of his favorite games.

As he is little and needs help, we play with our cards face up on the table. With each hand we need to say the color of the card and number or wording on the card. Typically, we play for 20 minutes or so at a time. Basically, the time it takes for the one year old to eat a snack. Also, I have found 20 minutes to be a good time limit for me as breaking down the games and keeping the pre-schooler focused can be exhausting.

Learning can be unconventional if you simply take the time to think about the games you enjoy and the foundation skills children need to succeed. Add in a bit of creativity and patience and the unconventional can be fun for all!

Happy Learning!

Irisa