Truth teller, 14 years and forever

 

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Dear Readers Friends:

Fourteen years ago today I took this little dream of mine to write a blog and made it real.

Fourteen. Years, people!

I went from writing posts like the first one in the shallow end: To blog or not to blog to my most recent bottom of my heart: Is my bulimia showing?

You guys reading my Nathalie’s Notes and coming along bearing witness to my memoir writing in real time have helped me grow as a writer, and a person.

Every time one of you wrote to share something I wrote resonated or made a difference or inspired you to do something different or see something in a new lens, I was reminded I am solidly on my right path.

Thank you!

So about that twisty, turny path … I’ve gotten a few texts and emails from long-time readers and friends wondering “what the hell is up with all the God stuff lately?”

And I answer: “I know, right?!”

Because … well … I’m the least likely person in my own mind to be writing about faith and God stuff. Partly because I’m more comfortable calling it “God stuff” than using other, more formal Jesusy language.

In fact, I barely speaka de Jesus and find it off-putting sometimes when others do. I think it’s because while it’s obvious when people are authentic in saying things like “Lean on the Lord, He’ll show you the way” but it’s also obvious when people speaka de Jesus to be exclusive and as mark of belonging to a club they aren’t sure you are worthy of, and I don’t have to be a biblical scholar to know Jesus ain’t down with that.

So back to the original question: What’s with all the God stuff?

Here’s the thing… When I started writing Nathalie’s Notes I promised to tell as much of the truth, my truth (and that gets tricky to sort out from the tangled truth of other people in my life) as possible … and right now God’s been up in my grill to go a little deeper with that truth telling and to include my faith in it. So I am.

But first I pushed back, hard. As in: “So heeeey, God, that’s really not my thing. There are other people who write so eloquently about you and they use all the right churchy phrases and I just think maybe you should help some of their posts go viral and leave me out of it.”

But then God was all pushy about it and insisting on me doing it in my own way, in my own words, just like always.

Okay, that I could do. I feel like my goal is kinda bridging the middle ground between my friends who are Praising the Lord right now and those who are rolling their eyes. Because I love all of them. Because I understand where all of them are coming from and because I judge none of them. At least not about that, I’m no saint you guys.

Some people are under the impression that because I am being more open about all this God business that it’s new for me. Not exactly.

conversion for me

The writing of this post near and dear to my heart is interrupted by small people who woke up too early and “too hungry to watch a show” while I complete my train of thought.

So, to be continued … it’s hard to say when, they eat all the time and I’m not the extra casserole in the freezer kinda girl. So, tomorrow? Next week? But for sure.

Wishing each of you reading this one of those days were random good things happen AND you have the presence of mind to notice, and embrace, them.

xo,

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Also … let me know if you have any to add to this little list of questions I’m working on answering in the upcoming  weeks.

Nathalie’s Notes FAQ’s*:

What the hell is up with all the God stuff lately?

What are you doing now “that you have more time” :

What do your parents think of your blog:

Does Matt read your blog?

What will your kids think of you sharing all this stuff?

*And by Frequently Asked Questions I actually mean “A few of you have wondered”  but AFOYHW doesn’t really have a ring to it.

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On word counts and deadlines

BREAKING NEWS: I submitted a column three days early.

Mostly because I had two due on the same day and needed to knock one out, but still. In the past I’ve waited until the very. last. minute.

Sometimes, usually when I’m right up on one, I lament my deadlines but then I remember hey! I have a deadline. That means someone is paying me to write, so there’s that.

Also, perhaps more key, without those deadlines there is no way I would have six years of columns to be shaping into a book this fall. Nope. I’d still be waiting for “someday when I have more time.” So, three cheers for deadlines!

In other business, I just send a note to my editor with the subject line: “Oops, I did it again.”

(Though I think I forgot the comma).

Because, alas, I am once again over my column word count. Six hundred words is a challenge for someone like me who can’t Tweet effectively due to the platform’s strict 140 word limit. (One hundred forty?! Come. On!)

But, in my defense I squeezed in a dash of depression, a spoonful of suicide and a sprinkle of God stuff, oh also a titch of volunteerism, all under 1,000 words.

(I started at 2,700 words, so … )

Some people would suggest not trying to get all of that into one column. Those people would struggle less on deadline than I do probably.

Luckily, I have awesome editors who understand we writers each bring our own blend of awesome and annoying to the table.

I happen to have super understanding editors who happen to be less attached to my writing and are able to cut and chop when needed.

One of my favorite graph’s from this new column is:

What does all this have to do with a column about parenting? Well, I'm glad you asked.

One concept I'm trying to consciously impart on my boys is the habit of identifying a need, and then meeting it.

In other words, don't be the guy standing there with his hands in his pockets. Don't be the guy sitting on the couch asking "What can I do to help?" Instead, figure it out. And then go do it.

We’ll see if it makes the cut!

Depression statistics infographic

healthline.com

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Beyond the bon-bons

Beyond the bon-bons

By NATHALIE HARDY | July, 2014

Published in the Yamhill-Valley News-Register

It should surprise very few to learn that since I switched from working outside the home full time to stay-at-home momming full time, there’s been a little, uh, shall we say, “relationship recalibration” around here.

While we aren’t breaking any new ground with the whole “who does what around here” argument, I figured it would be worth dedicating at least one column to this futile fight so the rest of you who might be having it know you are not alone.

Honestly, my first draft was an angry journal entry. I considered not submitting the final version because I don’t want to pick on my husband. After all, I love the guy.

But I am committed to reality and honesty. And I believe an authentic column about parenting, running as long as this has without at least some mention of that classic argument, would be neither realistic nor honest.

It turns out, my husband is genuinely baffled about why I don’t get more done during the day. Probably more puzzling is the lack of bon-bon containers in the bathroom, fancy nails and spa appointments.

For us, the issue came to a head last weekend when both of us were both trying to get major projects done while our 6- and 4-year-olds entertained themselves in the backyard. But that only worked for about an hour.

I suggested he finish his, then give me some time in the evenings to do mine.

“But you have all day, every day,” he said, incredulous. I stared back at him, equally incredulous.

Do I? Because it doesn’t feel like that at all.

“You’re the boss, you can do whatever you want,” he said.

I’d prefer to report that comment was met with silence. Alas, it was not.

His is not an uncommon misunderstanding of what it’s like at home with little ones. The truth is, my days actually seem to be run more by the boys’ bowel and bladder needs, and cleaning up after said needs, than a list of tasks to be accomplished by day’s end.

Oh, I make lists. It’s just hard to factor in all the little ways things go sideways.

Water spills. It gets cleaned up. Food spills. Floor gets mopped. Someone cuts foot, leaving trail of blood and dirt on freshly mopped floor. And so it goes.

Or, how about simple things like going to the grocery store.

Do you have any idea how long it takes to get two children through Fred Meyer to buy bananas, bread, spinach and tortillas? Forty five minutes, people.

Why? Well, because they wanted to help, or didn’t want to help. Because they never have to go to the bathroom at the same time, but do both need to go at some point. Yes, even though they went at home before we left.

This is a familiar fight, even to me, because it surfaced every so often during round one of my being home with the boys. You’d think we’d have learned. And actually, to some extent, we have.

My husband is learning to keep some of his observations to himself, and conversely to make an effort to notice what I actually do get accomplished.

As for me, I’ve learned that it doesn’t matter so much if everyone doesn’t get it. I really don’t have to defend myself for being the kind of mom who would rather let the boys play peek-a-boo with squirrels on a very long walk home from school than worry if the floors are clean enough to eat off.

Who eats off the floor, anyway? Besides kids, I mean.

The first time around, I was intent on making sure people knew how hard it was to be home with little ones. I wanted it understood it really is work, no matter how good the cause. So I wound up doing a lot of what sounded like complaining instead of being grateful for the time with them.

When my now 6-year-old was a toddler, I overheard a woman sounding much like I probably did as she lamented all there was to do to care for her children. She made them sound like such a burden, and they were within earshot.

She was likely just venting to a friend. But I realized in that moment that I never wanted to make the boys feel like burdens.

This time around, I’m mindful to avoid giving them the impression they are “work.” I am trying to balance that with getting their cooperation on lessening the load around here so there’s more time to read, snuggle and play together.

Did you know that to do something fun, crafty and hands-on, like making play-dough, it takes 20 minutes to set up before and 15 to clean up after in return for 30 minutes of actual play time? Call me crazy, but I think it’s worth every minute. To the kids, it’s pure joy.

So when people ask me what I do all day, exactly, I struggle. I once came up with a detailed list of how my typical day went, but I haven’t managed to pull that off again.

Annie Dillard said, “How you spend your days is, of course, how you spend your life.”

I hope to spend my days focusing on the magic before the mess and on making the people who matter most to me feel cherished, loved and safe — even if they also happen to be the messiest people I know. 

Contact Nathalie Hardy at nathalie@nathaliesnotes.com.


A day in the life

A day in the life

By NATHALIE HARDY | July, 2014

Published in the Yamhill-Valley News-Register

When my boys were 3 and 1, I actually took the time to note what, exactly, I did during a typical day.

Of course, this is just a snapshot, as each day has its own rhythm. But I think it makes the point, probably by the time it reaches noon.

I haven’t made the time to do a similar exercise since, and some of the details have changed. But I’m basically still on the same merry-go-round of mess, clean up and repeat. So, for those who asked, here is a sample day in the life of this stay-at-home mom:

Between 5 and 7:30 in the morning: Wake up to sounds of my husband trying to be quiet. Marvel that my children slept through the night and pray for another hour of quiet before the party starts. Write, prep breakfast, put in a load of laundry and empty dishwasher as quietly as possible. 

Head back upstairs, where Sam finds me stretching in my room. Work in a little yoga with him before his brother wakes.

Sam is the loudest little yogi ever, so Jake is up before long and hits the ground running. Then he falls, hitting his knee on an unidentified object. I don’t know what happened, since I was being so negligent as to pay the bathroom a momentary visit.

7:45 a.m. Bring some first-aid stuff upstairs to deal with the scrape. Sam insists his brother wants a boo-boo pack and hurries downstairs to get it. On the way, he falls, too. So there we are, the three of us on the stairs, two-thirds of us in tears.

I suggest we start the day over. We get dressed and come down for breakfast.

8:05 a.m. Notice the box of Band-Aids is suspiciously empty. Find them stuck all over Sam’s door. Scrape them off as he explains he was “just decorating.”

8:10 a.m. Notice the Neosporin cap is missing. Spend the next 15 minutes hunting for it before Jake finds it and nearly chokes to death.

Change Jake’s diaper, but not quickly enough. In the 12 elapsed seconds, he manages to pee all over his beloved stuffed Zebra. Lucky I have a spare.

8:25 a.m. The water I’d set to boil for our oatmeal has evaporated. I switch my sights to almond butter toast with honey.

8:20-8:30 a.m. Have to manage Sam’s meltdown over not being allowed to watch “Bob the Builder.”

8:32 a.m. Breakfast on the table. Bags packed the night before await, so we can be on time today.

Except I didn’t read Sam’s mind, thus “messed up” his toast.

8:33 a.m. Have to manage another meltdown because I cut Sam’s toast into rectangles instead of his “favorite shape, triangles.” FYI: Yesterday, the request was for rectangles.

Jake, on the other hand, loves toast. He doesn’t care about the shape. Either way, he thinks it makes a lovely hat.

8:40 a.m. Eat my toast standing up, while combing almond butter out of Jake’s hair.

8:55-9 a.m. Clean up, by which I mean the kids, not the breakfast dishes. On a good day, those get thrown into the sink, and on a bad day, not.

Wrangle kids into shoes and car seats. Catch a whiff of stinky realization that I need to change Jake’s diaper.

Stupidly smell his pants to see if he needs new ones. He does.

9 a.m. Load boys up for day care and proceed to lock myself out. Have to break into the house. Contemplate how I will explain to my husband that I still haven’t gotten around to making a spare key, all while singing “Wheels on the Bus” all the way.

9:30 a.m. Arrive at day care, breathless after carrying 30-pound Jake from the back-40 while trying to keep up with Sam, who can’t wait to play trains. As I sign in, I can’t resist bragging a little about actually arriving at the appointed time — 9:30. Sadly, I’m informed that I had actually signed up for a 9 a.m. drop-off.

9:45 a.m. Determined to work out — and let’s be honest, take a shower all by myself — I head for the gym.

Mission accomplished. Squeeze in workout, shower and some writing time in my remote office, aka the locker room.

A few people have asked me why I go through the trouble of going to the gym, when I could just go for a walk with “one of those kid-pusher things.” For those who don’t know, that would be a stroller.

I suppose it’s possible someone who’s never pushed one with two siblings in it wouldn’t understand that is an exercise in both patience and futility, but not so much it fitness. That’s because you’re always having to stop to give someone his bottle back or pick up the blanket that you just ran over and will now have to wash before bedtime.

11 a.m. Pick up the kids and drop by the “Tractor Park” on the way home to supervise a play and sharing practice. Watch in awe as other parents are able to relax and read as their children fling sand into my kids’ faces.

11:30 a.m. Bribe the kids back to the car with the promise of lunch and an episode of “Caillou.” Yes, even if it’s sunny.

People treat use of television as a babysitter like it’s a bad thing. I’m more of a “most things in moderation” kind of mom. Ad-lib “Wheels on the Bus” all the way home, in order to include all of the “Sweet Pickles” characters.

Since I’m already over my word count, you’ll just have to trust me. The afternoon was a blur of crafty activities, clean up, sharing practice, explaining why it’s not OK to tow each other by the neck, hunting down remaining strangulation hazards, trying to keep one kid relatively quiet while the other naps, prepping dinner, bum-wiping, re-wrapping the toilet paper on the roll, Googling contents of Sam’s giraffe and ideas for how to fix his tail, doing the laundry. The list goes on.

Flash forward to the chaos of the day fading into dinner negotiations, bath time fun and subsequent tsunami zone, then stories, songs, bedtime. I SAID BEDTIME!!!

Then I clock out.

Just kidding, of course.

At bedtime, Jake is crying for Zebra. Oh, did I forget to mention that he decided to toss Zebra in as I was filling the tub, soaking it? Remember this morning, when he peed on the other one and I was glad I had a spare?

Oops. Didn’t get Zebra No. 1 washed and dried in time.

Motherhood is full of dilemmas. Do I give him the zebra that’s soaking wet or the one reeking of pee?

I’ll leave you on that note.

I know there are many things I missed. I’m sure you can help me fill in the blanks. Hopefully, this is enough to demonstrate what a mad-awesome gig this is.


Writer at work

Writer at work - process

It’s about to get really random up in here. As part of Mission: Organize Everything which is key to finishing my books*, I’ve collected all the random pieces of paper, sticky notes, index cards, napkins, etc. with my notes, quotes and ideas that were spread throughout my house in piles, bins and drawers. Now, I am finally going to sort them and give them permanent homes.

I am betting a lot of these midnight musings and ideas that came at inconvenient times (that’s life, right?) are destined for the recycling bin. But some of them are going to find homes in scrapbooks, stories and posts.

This is a huge project for me and I can’t communicate to you the randomness of this collection without sharing a few off the top of the pile.

So here we have a list of questions I asked the pediatrician when one of my boys was a baby. I would like to have been the one mom on the planet that this doesn’t happen to but six years into it, my memories are mushy. Good thing I took notes. Too bad I didn’t date them all.

process

  • Torn from a little notebook is this list of questions checked off as I asked the fabulous (and patient) Dr. K: Pinkish red diaper rash? Circ? hygiene/infection prevention | Umbilical cord | sleep in bed | diaper rash? Vaseline? | Hep B vaccine autism/vaccines/ … on second thought this has to be Sam. I didn’t worry as much about hygiene with Jake. True story. The umbilical cord freaked me out still though.

*Note to self: for the love of all that is Holy, date these scraps, your memory sucks.

process2

  • A sticky note: “Embrace the elephant in the room. Or, stab it with a fork. Turns out it was full of hot air. (Okay that doesn’t even make sense. I’m sure it felt brilliant in the moment.)
  • Another sticky note: That awkward moment when you realize you were trying to right something that wasn't wrong. (Yes! This. Except it’s not really a moment for me. More like, 15 years of my life.)

process3

  • On a note ripped out from the notes I took at a land use hearing I was covering for the paper: The irony of X. asking Y., who is deaf, if he is concerned about noise. X: Are you concerned about noise? Y: What?

(That’s the stuff I kept because I knew I had to work it into Coming Clean. I can’t make that stuff up.)

Sam arthur - notecard

  • On a 3x4 scrapbook card for reasons unclear to me, is a note loving my pressure cooker a.k.a. “crockpot on crack” which is followed by a grocery list in the margins of notes for a scene in Coming Clean where eleven-year-old Izzy is wondering where, exactly, is “out of wedlock.”

Even the grocery list is super random: gf noodles, almond butter, gummy vitamins, garbage bags, adobo, meatballs.

Ani sees Ginny and Nick, first meeting and is confused by it. Ginny said Eliza is late in life baby. Oh, I know about those, so was Isabella, my mom said.

I liked the idea of being a surprise. Or at least until I saw mom mime putting a gun in her mouth and pulling the trigger. Peals of laughter were punctuated by the clinking of glasses. I liked that mom had a friend but … they forgot I was there a lot. I listened for awhile as they talked about the baby Mia was having.
“Where is out of wedlock?” I asked. They just started at me so I assumed I should keep going. The cracks in their lips were stained purple. Their smiles did not look happy.

(So, to anyone still reading who cares about process, I added to this note because I can’t help myself. That seems to be how I’m writing this book. It comes in pieces and I weave them together. Hopefully into something coherent.)

Sam arthur

Thank you Marc Brown for teaching my kid how you draw your characters in your awesome Arthur series. The idea to use the Sharpie and write directly on my desk? That was totally inspired by Sam.

*I’ve been asked a few times why I keep saying “my books” when it’s probably a better idea to write one at a time – totally agree! But that’s just not how this is happening. More on this soon. It’s the writer’s version of carrying multiple babies … I did not plan it this way but am grateful for what’s working out!


Behind the picket fence: My Messy Beautiful

So I came out in my blog this week as a 12-stepper*, which is something I’ve been wanting to share with you for a long time now.

I was waiting to get “all better” before I mentioned the thing that was helping me so much in my journey to “better.”

And then I had this little trip back down the rabbit hole recently and realized “better” isn’t a place I’m going as much as it is a way of being.

When I started my conscious recovery, something I’d been seeking in multiple ways over decades, I initially felt very, very sorry for myself that I “had to go to these meetings.”

But then after about six weeks, I started to feel sorry for everyone else who doesn’t get to go to them.  That’s about when I wanted to start sharing all the awesomeness with you guys but it was all still kind of raw and I wasn’t ready.

I’m still a little like “whaaat am I doing” but if I can spare one person the angst anguish hell of my darkness by shining a little light on it, perfect.

I’ve been praying a lot about what I’m meant to do next with my work and I know this kind of stuff is what I’m supposed to be writing about even though it feels all vulnerable and awkward and like I’m totally unqualified to be talking about stuff like God since I also still say things like “shit” and “damn.” A lot.

So this happened:

me + a book + kids playing happily in the pool = bliss for like 20 entire, uninterrupted minutes.

Twenty of them.

You guys?

It.

Was.

Awesome.

I have dreamed of this day. In fact, “reading poolside” is a joke I have with a few girlfriends, sort of our version eating bonbons, which isn’t even a thing by the way. You know that right? Bonbons are a joke, so is reading poolside for mothers with young children.

Except for these twenty minutes. Those were no joke. Those were the kind of minutes I will remember for eternity. Just like I remember this one nap I had in the summer of 2011 when Matt had Sam and I snuggled with Baby Jake for a couple hours of uninterrupted sleep.

And I savor these blissful moments as reminders to enjoy them when I get them and to trust that more will come.

But then, you know, this happened too:

party pooper

After the bliss, the poo … or something like that.

All I could think as we were evacuated was thank God it wasn’t my kid. Anyway, the moral is: Every party has a pooper.

Pure bliss punctuated by poo in the pool … isn’t that perfect you guys? I mean, really. That’s the deal right there.

And it’s such a perfect introduction to what happened next. So you might have noticed the book I was blissing out on was “Carry on, Warrior. Thoughts on Life Unarmed.”

The author, Glennon Melton Doyle is the founder of the awesomeness that is Momastary for Truth Tellers and Hope Spreaders.

Glennon is in what my friend and writer coach Christina Katz refers to as my “tribe.”

Glennon is “my people.” I’ve never met her, but I know we belong to each other, and she knows it too. All of us belong to each other. In fact she’s made it her mission to connect like-hearted spirits and this Messy Beautiful blog post project is an example of how she connects people in genuine, inspired ways.

Shortly after the poo-in-the-pool sitch we got back to my parents’ house and I had an email from Glennon inviting me to participate as one of the Messy Beautiful writers. I responded to the initial call awhile back and didn’t expect to get picked so it was pretty cool to get that “Yes.”

Especially because it was bigger than her yes. I had just that morning asked God for some specific direction about my writing to make sure the vision coming up in my head and heart was really a good idea because it kind of freaks me out.

I’ve always been about honesty here and I’ve struggled with that because like I said the other day, our stories are interwoven and while my stories belong to me, they are tangled with the threads of others and I want to be respectful of that while honoring what I came here to do which I think is to be one of the truth tellers. To live out loud, on paper … to be vulnerable in a way that encourages others to be their most authentic, favorite selves … is there anything else worth being?

So, with my heart’s calling and with the invitation to participate in this project – I am leaving the gate propped open, it’s broken in real life actually, to share more from behind my white picket fence.

All is not as it appears, and some days that’s a really, really good thing. Others, not so much. Either way, it’s my messy, beautiful life – welcome.

MBW-285

 

This essay and I are part of the Messy, Beautiful Warrior Project — To learn more and join us, CLICK HERE! And to learn about the New York Times Bestselling Memoir Carry On Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life, just released in paperback, CLICK HERE!

*I know the specifics are important to some of you, and we can talk about that if you ask but really, it doesn’t actually matter. It's an al-anon program to work through old, messy stuff ... I’m working on it and growing into the best and healthiest version of myself as I do.

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T is for Transition

Screenshot_2014-04-12-07-18-49

While the screen capture shows I am no longer a reporter at the News-Register, it turns out I am a very slow leaver.

Let me preface this by saying I did this to myself because I have boundary issues and also letting go issues, as evidenced by the fact that I am donating four stories to the paper’s campaign coverage because I wanted to help and because it seemed like a good idea at the time.

At what time? Well at the time I had an office, and childcare of course.

Now I have the contents of my former cubicle spread throughout my dining room and bedroom as I attempt to carve out a space of my own while we attempt to figure out what this new life of ours looks like.

This is what transition looks like. It can be messy, confusing and a little unsettling.

Also, it is freeing, exciting and an opportunity to create more of what we want as we weed out what no longer serves us – things like rushing.

2014-04-07 07.09.34 - Copy

One of my favorite quotes from this week is Sam saying his favorite thing about my being home with him is “not rushing all the time.” Agreed.

As per usual, last week did not match the image in my head of what coming back home would be like.

In addition to not being all the way done at work, there was some unexpected drama on both a personal and professional front immediately following my handing over my keys at work.

The two were totally unrelated, one stemmed from some misunderstanding about a column I wrote which turned into hours of discussion and sleepless nights as I wrestled with my role in the problem, which in the end I determined did not belong to me. I do however regret that I wrote something that caused any angst, and I learned from the experience so there’s that.

The personal one is trickier to summarize because I strive to walk the messy line between my personal information and that of others in my life, (past/present/future) without crossing it.

That said, here’s what I am ready to say: I’ve been 12-steppin’ it* for some time now to deal with some long, long standing unhealthy thinking and behaving on my part and after finally losing track of my days in recovery, I derailed myself over the weekend by leaning in to some drama that did not belong to me.

A series of bad decisions lead to ugly consequences and I am still kind of bewildered by and recovering from that trip to Crazy Town.

Note to self: Until I just wrote the above summaries I didn’t see the connection between the two energy-sucking situations … at the outset of eachdrama I didn’t ask myself: is this my problem? 

**I know the specifics are important to some of you, and we can talk about that if you ask but really, it doesn’t actually matter. It's an al-anon program to work through old, messy stuff ... I’m working on it and growing into the best and healthiest version of myself as I do.

There really is a lot to that one day at a time business and I thankful to have the opportunity to embrace this one.

With my people.

Thank you for checking in, for caring and for being my people Smile 

Speaking of which, my pint-sized peeps are paging me … something about needing to eat. Again.


When living the dream is no longer reality

By Nathalie Hardy | March 14, 2014 | News-Register

It’s with mixed feelings I write this column, announcing another life change for the Hardy family. I’m throwing in the towel on this whole reporter-mama business.

Don’t get me wrong. Being a fulltime reporter on the county beat, while raising two youngsters, can be done. Just not by me.

My husband and I worked over our budget. Bottom line, it’s just not penciling out for me to keep working, whether I want to or not.

It’s no secret: Journalism is a field you enter because you love the work more than the money.

Plus, if you haven’t priced daycare lately, for two full-day kids, it rivals a mortgage payment.

Who can argue with that, though? If I can’t be with them during the day, I want the best in the business keeping my boys’ minds busy and hearts happy. We were lucky to have that with our providers, Creative Kidz.

Then there are associated costs that can’t be measured. For me, one of those was being out of alignment with my core values.

In addition to dreaming about being a reporter, I always pictured myself as the kind of mom who was home after school. I imagined being able to walk my kids home, stopping to point things out along the way as we debriefed about the day.

With my job, my boss is as flexible as possible. But that flexibility is a two-way street.

I am often up way too late, or way too early, juggling calls and interviews while packing sandwiches and throwing the boys treats’ down the stairs or over the backseat in the car to keep them quiet. And all for just one, more, minute!

After nearly two years of doing my best at both, it turns out I’m not doing either one well enough to meet my own standards. So it came time to make a choice.

Going over the budget made it an easier call. Still, it’s hard to realize what you thought you wanted maybe wasn’t the best fit in the end.

A friend recently expressed disappointment in my decision. Not everyone gets what they want, she pointed out. And feminists fought for us so we didn’t have to choose between career and family.

To her first point, I say: Life doesn’t always turn out the way you pictured it, but that doesn’t mean you stop trying to create the life you want. To the second, I say: Feminists fought for a woman’s right to chose, despite the consequences of disappointing someone.

And that’s what I am doing. I am choosing to come back home to be with my boys. I plan to meet my goal of being home with them as long as I can while meeting my goal of publishing a book or two.

I recognize the first will delay the latter, but recently I realized neither will happen as long as I keep trying to maintain balance at the expense of my health and sanity.

I found an exception to George Eliot’s saying, “It’s never too late to be what you might have been.”

My boys are only going to be this age once. If I want to be a stay-at-home mom, writing in the margins, the time for that is now.

Life requires hard choices, and my decision to leave this post to be home with my boys was not made lightly.

Not quite two years ago, I embraced an opportunity to return to the newsroom, a place I loved, to work with people I adore in a job I’d dreamed of having since I was 10 years old.

Then came that awkward moment when my dream job morphed into more of a nightmare, as I tried to balance it with my new reality with two kids, no family nearby and a husband with an equally demanding but significantly higher paying job.

I reached my breaking point on a recent snow day, one of approximately five my kids figure to have in their lifetime. Some friends stopped by as I was trying to work on a breaking story with two cagey kids in the house.

Stories will always break on snow days. It’s the nature of the job.

As much as I wanted to be able to celebrate surprise snow days with my kids, I knew my boss also needed stories done well and on time.

I realized in that moment that I too often felt my biggest blessings were a burden. I had lost the little bit of balance I had left.

“But I always wanted to be a reporter,” I whined. I was crying, the kind where there’s snot and tears.

“So, you were literally living the dream, huh?” my friend said.

Well, when you put it like that, I guess I was. And it it was as clear as the ice on the eaves that my dreams had changed with the reality.

While I’ve loved most of my time back in the newsroom, I’m at peace with my decision.

I make no guarantees, though, that the aforementioned towels are going to be fluffed and folded once I resume my stay-at-home mom status. After all, I will have to leave some margins open for writing this column, which will continue running, in addition to keeping up on my long-neglected blog at www.nathaliesnotes.com and embarking on a book project.

Contact Nathalie Hardy at nathalie@nathaliesnotes.com.


Reporter’s Notebook: forget fresh starts

journal spotlight

I’ve been considering making this a regular feature as enough of you have asked for a peek at what my journal entries really look and sound like.

So, we’ll see how it goes, it feels sort of awkward to share but if I could convert even one of you into a person who journals as a form of self-preservation it will be worth the trepidation I feel before sharing this post and with it my intention to make a habit of posting a randomly opened journal page.

As I flipped open this recent journal and landed on this page I thought perhaps it was a sign that this was the right direction to go.

You can click on the picture above to see what it says or, read below:

Sam and I say “I love you to Pluto and back” but last night he was mad at me and said “I love you to the planet before Pluto.”

10/19

am coming face to face with how much of the novel – my novel -  I lost in the computer crash. Not to mention {pictures of}the first four months of Jakey’s life.

am also feeling resolved to move forward anyway.

maybe it’s not about fresh starts, but just starting again.

and again.

until you’re done.


When God gets in my grill

Screenshot_2013-05-06-20-25-58

“Don’t let perfection be the enemy of the good.”

- Voltaire

God’s been all up in my grill with flashing this particular quote at me in all kinds of ways.

And, then because practice makes perfect good, I’m getting lots of opportunities to apply the principle to real life.

Turns out this little saying applies to pretty much everything.

That Voltaire … what a smarty pants. And then there’s God with the whole “Hey, turn down the volume and tune in” thing.

Which is totally not what I meant to write at midnight on a work night. I just miss writing here and while I’ve been applying the aforementioned philosophy effectively in other areas I haven’t done it with blogging yet. (Will I ever learn to like that word?!)

Tonight, I just wanted to hop on here and share how much I am loving learning more about the awesomeness that is modern technology.

I always wait until a better time to Skype with my parents and surprise, surprise it never comes. So tonight I sat outside after I came home from a meeting that ended blessedly early and we chatted for a bit and I was so grateful for the technology to do that from my little phone!

And then it got even better! I saw earlier from a blog I follow The Mom Creative that a book I was interested in reading was available for free on Kindle. Too bad I don’t have that.

Oh, but wait! I do! On my phone. Which I found out super randomly when I was checking to see if the screenshot I took while Skyping turned out. There was a message informing me my Kindle update was complete.

It gets cooler. So then I download the book which has some impressive author blurbs from the likes of Ree Drummond, Ann Voskamp and Beth Moore.

And then I Google “Sparkly Green Earrings” and find this blog post in which the message I was meant to get tonight in answer to a specific question I never asked out loud was clearly sent.

And received.

In this post by Melanie Shankle --who is about to have her first book released --writes:

“As much as it all still doesn’t seem real, I look at Sparkly Green Earrings sitting on my bookshelf and it’s a reminder that God sees us. He sees the little dreams we have that we’re scared to voice out loud but whisper as a prayer in the dark. And then he works all things together for his good and puts pieces together in ways we never could have imagined.”

So when Sam asks me how it is I know for sure that God answers my prayers I can say because I am listening for them … when I tune in, that is.

By the way, when readers subscribe to my blog it’s like getting a high five in my inbox. Of course when they unsubscribe I get all self-conscious. Thanks for signing up to get these free updates from Nathalie’s Notes.

 

 

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