Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Music Dam

I've always been a singer.  I haven't always been a particularly good singer.  I can carry a tune, occasionally sound pretty, but as it goes I'm pretty common.  Regardless, I love to sing and I love songs.

Part of this must come from my mother who loves to sing too.  She is like me, a common singer, but she makes up for it in quantity.  Some of my most precious memories are of her singing lullabies while we rocked in a chair or singing christmas carols as we drove up and down the mountain on Maui.  We sang a lot.  We sang constantly.  We sang with happy abandon.  Life was good when we sang and I treasure that she shared songs with me.  I always imagined that I would do the same with my own children.

The other day I had christmas music on in the car.  I looked back and saw Emily, sitting expectantly in her carseat, on the verge of boredom.  It was the perfect opportunity to burst into song and have her join in.  I could sing the same way my mother sang to me.  We could caterwaul as loud as we wanted and giggle when we were done.  Except I couldn't bring myself to sing at all.  I could tap my foot to the beat, I could recall all the words, but I couldn't make my mouth open and say the words.  Or the notes.  Or even hum.  Somewhere between my brain and my mouth was a giant wall of silence.

That's what postpartum depression has done to me.  It's created a permanent wall of silence.  As a new mother I knew I should be constantly talking to my newborn, getting those language skills started, engaging her with the world - bonding.  But even though I knew I should, knew it would be great for the both of us, I couldn't speak.  I'd gently rock her, I'd kiss her and snuggle her, but I couldn't speak to her.  I had a thousand thoughts to tell her, but nothing would come out of my mouth.

Similarly, I couldn't sing.  I'd start a song, begin the first verse, then all of a sudden I'd fall silent.  I could hear the music in my head.  I had all the words and notes flittering in my brain, but nothing would come out of my mouth.  I don't know how long the silence would be, it would take a long time before I noticed I was silent.  I'd keep dancing with Emily, moving to the music.  But she never heard it.

And last christmas.  There were no carols at all.  Not on the radio, not in my head, not out of my mouth.

This year I'm obviously much better.  Emily and I sing lots of different songs.  I play christmas music and usually I sing along.  Emily sings along too and we both dance as much as we can.  But every so often, like the other day, I lose it.  The wall comes back.  The music is stuck, hidden, dammed up.

I feel like postpartum depression stole this from me.  Something that was so precious to my being, something that made me very me, something that I could have passed on to my own child.  Instead all of the love that comes out in lullabies and songs was hidden.  I've been robbed of the joy that used to come with singing and Emily has been robbed of a joyful mother.  It makes me incredibly sad that it seems to be gone, even as I get better, it's still gone and I wonder if it will ever return.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

No place like home

I am a transplant in my own home.  I grew up in Hawaii, but I grew up on Maui.  I now, after bouncing around, live on Oahu.  People come up to me and ask me where I'm from and are surprised when I say "Here."  But then I have to qualify because while I'm from Hawaii Oahu and Maui are two very different places and you can give me directions based on certain people's houses on my island but on Oahu I need street names (also, I use a GPS...Auwe!).

My being a stranger in a really familiar land gives me an interesting perspective.  I get treated like a visitor and then, in the same breath, a local.  I will speak pidgin at Foodland and midwestern at the Commissary (it helps!)  I can see all the hardships of being a mainlander in Hawaii.  I get how it can be totally frustrating, but I also see all the things that make home home.  Just like in any unique culture there are good and bad.  If you grew up with it the bad is a small price to pay for the feeling of belonging.  If you are new here it takes a lot of patience to see the beauty in our calabash land.

I might take some work too.  Which is why when people talk about my hometown of Maui and only complain about how it's just resorts and boringness it drives me crazy.  I feel like Oahu is just city and hotels myself, but I get out to see the beauty of the island anyway.  A rainbow everyday?  Yes please.  Driving through the Ko'olau's?  Ahhhh.

Maui has the same things and some others.  Pine forests, hunting, snow.  Rainforests, hundreds of waterfalls in one stretch of road, black sand beaches.  All there.  Like warm.  There is a desert!  Like fish, more snorkeling beaches AND a protected atoll (Molokini) only about an hour boat ride away.  You can seriously go from arctic wear to beach wear in just half a day of biking.

In short, I feel like if you don't like Maui you're doing it wrong.  Give me three days.  It's my home and, trust me, there is something to love.

Similarly, Oahu isn't that bad either.  Wait till 9am when the traffic clears up and, trust me, there is something to love.  I'm glad it's my transplant home.

Friday, November 25, 2011


We had a good Thanksgiving.  

I made two turkeys, twelve pounds of cranberry sauce, two pesto-cheese tortas, corn pudding, corn bread, sweet potatoes, stuffing, roasted vegetables, and lobster salad.  There were potatoes and a pineapple casserole that I am still dreaming about.  

I made twenty-two pies: sweet potato, pecan, pumpkin, and apple.

I went to two pre-dinners and one pizza party at Costco.  

I ate some food.  I fed people more food.  I packed a lot of food to give to other people and cooked some more - to give to other people.  

I cleaned the place, top to bottom, multiple times.  Emily made twice the messes as normal.

I am thoroughly exhausted.  Emily is thoroughly exhausted.  D is well stuffed.  

I am so tired that all I want to do is

Go out and get a Christmas Tree!

I love that my holidays are now busy and filled with cheer!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Extended Holidays

We're coming up on Thanksgiving here in the U.S. and soon after it is officially acceptable to put up your Christmas decorations.  At least in our neighborhood.

I've noticed in my adult life that we, as an American society, have a few extra traditions regarding end of the year holidays.  The rehashing of the "War on Christmas" where saying "Happy Holidays" is a sign of our moral decline and being inclusive is, for at least one season, Unamerican and Unchristian.  And then the cries of "Foul" on early Christmas decorations.  Anything earlier than Thanksgiving is decried on Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, and general life.  I even saw a photo floating around of Nordstrom's sign declaring they will not deck their halls early (but it doesn't mean you shouldn't start shopping early).

However, I will not be complaining about these things.  The winter holidays are great.  Really great.  They are built to remind us, in the bleakest part of the year, to be joyful.  To be happy you're surviving winter and to hold people you love close.  Even presents, that gateway to evil commercialism, is an excuse to really think about the people you love and try to understand what they enjoy.  It's an excuse to work for something really pure: a happy smile.  Holidays are great.  Therefore I am happy to extend them.

Growing up, we celebrated Christmas for the whole 12 days.  I loved celebrating from December 1 to January 6.  After most New Year Resolutions end you still have Christmas.  But even that is too short.  I am all for extending before December 1 and keeping it going till February.  Afterall, don't we always say that the charity, love, and goodwill shown at the holidays should be practiced year round?  Well why not practice it with decorations too.

So this year I started watching Hallmark Christmas movies in November.  I spent every night having my heart warmed by sticky sweet stories that ended well and always reminded you that family and love are paramount.  I spent everyday reminded of magic in the world, either by miracle, a elf and sleigh, or pure goodwill.  Every wreath, every decoration, every song about joy and birth, reminded me about my blessings and my ability to offer love to other people.

Now we are coming up on the day where we will eat in abundance.  How lucky that we can do so.  I have been cooking all week.  (I made 22 pies.)  I have braved the supermarkets.  I have cleaned and cleaned.  And because I am filled with the holiday spirit I have done it cheerfully.  (Even with a toddler.)

I love the holidays and I love them long.  All of them from Thanksgiving to Twelfth Night.  From Chanukah to Yule.  I say keep the love going until Valentines and then keep it going some more.

Happy Holidays!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Maybe this time...

I've said it before, I'll say it again:  I want to blog interesting things, but every time my life starts getting interesting I no longer have time to blog.

Instead I'll just try to jump back in after my hiatus of other-than-online business or rather busy-ness.

Or that was my plan.  Then this morning I found out that we are expecting our second child.  Which means life will getting more interesting and far more busy.

But maybe this time I'll get it all balanced out again.

Friday, November 4, 2011


This past week I've bumped into two learning experiences that make me want to reevaluate how I see myself.

Earlier in the week I went on an excursion with two other stay-at-home women.  We enjoyed the company and lamented that it was rather rare for us (as individuals) to get out of the house.  I lamented that I was having trouble finding friends here in Oahu because I was so shy.  Both of them together instantly exclaimed "You're shy?  We never would have guessed that!"


Later in the week I attended a training class for Air Force Key Spouses.  Part of the class was finding your "True Color" which is a very quick and dirty personality identifier.  I fond myself with one other person sitting at the Blue Table.  Blue people are described as:

Your communication style creates peace and harmony.  As a Blue personality you are gifted with tremendous people skills.
You have a strong need to make a difference in the lives of other people. This strength is immediately noticeable in the way you make heart felt connections and bring out the best in those you encounter. People usually feel relaxed and comfortable in your presence.
You love to build self-esteem and make others feel good about who they are. You can easily motivate and inspire people to make changes in their lives and reach their potential.
Along with the above our class leader also mentioned that Blue people tend to be more extroverted.

Hmm.  Again.

I've always seen myself as shy.  It's extremely difficult for me to talk to people or be in a situation where I don't know many people.  I get nervous if I think someone can see me drive.  I often am stumped for things to say and initial conversations usually die awkwardly.  After socializing with lots of people I feel drained.

That being said my desire for human contact trumps my social anxiety.  I would rather feel uncomfortable and weird if it means ending the loneliness.   Now that I've run into more evidence that people see me as extroverted I wonder if it means what I thought it did.  Perhaps extroverts aren't people who easily flow through relationships and conversations as second nature.  Perhaps they all work hard at it, plan it, practice it, until they achieve the look of someone who doesn't get nervous surround by strangers.  Perhaps it's like being brave.  Where you act in spite of your fear rather than because you have no fear.  I am shy, but I put myself out there anyway, in spite of it.  I might be brave.  Or I might be extroverted.

It's times like these that I wish I could listen in to the thoughts of someone else.  I'd love to know if all those people who seems so outgoing to me have the same fears, worries, and doubts I do.  I want to know if they had to spend years practicing how to keep a conversation flowing or how to introduce themselves in an easy and welcoming way.  At the same time as I listen to others thoughts I really want to see myself through their eyes.  Do they see all the hurt, fear, and turmoil I feel?  Am I as transparent as I feel I am?  Or do they think I'm like them.  Outgoing, friendly, the person I really try to be.

Ever asked yourself if maybe you might actually have the thing you really want?  What happens when the answer is yes?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Grandparents are good for...

...lots of things.  Grandparents are good for a lot of things.  But one thing they don't tell you before you have kids is that Grandparents are excellent for your personal hygiene.

Like when they come over for the weekend and Mama gets to take a shower two days in a row.  

Grandparents are good for that.