Serenity of the Heart

The beauty of Land, Sea and Sky can be found during any season. The following was written after shoveling in 17 degree weather; huddled around a cup of tea.

The snow is absolutely beautiful. It is a bright white fluffy snow unbroken by footprints. The creek covered by a thin layer of ice looks like a dark onyx surrounded by glistening moonstone.

Ice encases the trees in a serenity that protects their hearts until the warmth of spring penetrates their branches, illuminating their soul until their joy bursts forth as blossoms. Spring breezes carrying their songs of joy as scents in the air.

Blessings,

Irisa MacKenzie

Passionate Commitment

We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out. ~ Ray Bradbury

Bradbury once told me that the way to let the good stuff out was to write every day. Allow the words to pour out of yourself onto the paper. Some will be rubbish, some will be good. So I committed to writing each day. Eventually, well-meaning advice, life, and non-believers beat me down until I stepped back from my passion.

Now, I am re-committed to my passion. I will write each day. I will share writings. Some will be good, some will be bad. I won’t worry about formulas, themes etc. I will develop my passion and see where it’s love takes me.

What passionate journey do you embark upon?

Blessings,

Irisa

Why my 7 year old does her own laundry …

One of the many battles I had this summer was with my two older kids regarding laundry. I wash and fold, they are supposed to put away. A day later no one has clothing. How??

I have come to find they would either put it right back in with the dirty clothing, shove it under furniture or hide it in toy boxes. It was a mess of explaining, punishing, yelling, frustration and blech all summer. Last week mom snapped.

I explained to my children that me doing their laundry is a privilege. We have front load machines and they are old enough to do this chore. If they cannot respect the work I am doing for them, they can do their own work.

My 7 year old is now entirely responsible for her own laundry and the 4 year old is on warning. She has a laundry basked in her closet. When it gets full she must bring it down and ask mom or dad to show her how to run the washer.

Here are the rules:

  • You cannot go to school in dirty clothing
  • You cannot be late for anything because you waited to wash your clothes
  • No whining to me that your favorite whatever is dirty
  • No getting your brother or anyone else to do this

This weekend she received the full experience. I reminded her to check her basket. It was full so she brought it downstairs and asked for help. We got everything in the wash, then dryer. She brought her clothing int to he living room to fold. I went back to cleaning the kitchen.

A short time later she came to me in frustration, near tears, because her 2 year old brother was unfolding her clothing and throwing it around the living room. Her 4 year old brother was refusing to help her and playing with the 2 year old.

I calmly looked at her and let her know that this is exactly what I have to deal with every time I fold a load of laundry for the last 6 years. She needs to take a breathe and figure out how she wants to handle this situation, but this is her situation to handle. A few minutes later I poked my head in the living room and reminded the 4 year old to not give his sister a hard time because his laundry privileges were also on the line.

By the time I was done my chores things were progressing peacefully. I asked her if she had a better understanding of why I was getting so upset this summer about the laundry. My daughter proceeded to tell me that doing this work with the boys was really hard.

Sometimes, experience really is the best teacher. She is still responsible for her own laundry. Honestly, I do not see any reason to take this chore back from her at this time. As her school responsibilities increase she may get extra help from me, but for now we will continue with her laundry being her sole responsibility.

Sassy Viking Mama

Irisa

Goodbye Judgement and Toxicity

As your family grows you need to grow. This includes your parenting style and how you relate to your children. I am constantly re-evaluating our families needs and interactions and adjusting as best I can. This was a hard summer for me. There were a lot of adjustments and things to be dealt with.

Due to my husbands work schedule I did a lot of solo parenting which left me pretty exhausted and stretched thin. I started to hate who I had become, which was a short tempered and burnt out mom. This isn’t what I wanted for myself or my family.

The additional pressure of information overload and judgement on parenting did not help. I have found there to be very little to no support for parents but miles of judgement. I am tired of being made to feel constantly shamed and criticized for my choices. There are lots of voices for that but miles of empty fields when you reach out for help and support.

This became abundantly clear to me when I moved to this city. Suddenly, I lived near and developed new support. I have more support now than I ever have before. People willing to give their time and lend a hand. Something as simple as the neighbor popping in for coffee and to sit with the youngest while he naps and I run over to the school for my oldest has made a world of difference.

I am done with the judgements and focusing on what we want and need as a family. I am done with toxic parenting. For me that means those who judge parents but never offer help. Who offer no empathy and support only criticism. I have cut other toxic relationships out of my life, now it is time to dispose of the toxic parent judges.

I am an unusual mix of strict and lenient with my kids. I want my children to have manners and be respectful. However, they can do that without cutting their personal boundaries. We love video games, board games, tabletop games, movies and YouTube. I encourage questions, self expression and emotions.

Do you need to throw a temper tantrum? Go ahead, in your room scream, yell and cry. Then come back down and we can work thru this together. Need to get out aggression? We have foam swords and shields, gardening and yard work. Emotions but no ideas? We have art, cooking and a million other creative things. Express yourself, then we come come around and work through it.

I am working with what works for the 5 of us and I am done apologizing for it.

Finding Strength every day.

Your Sassy Viking Mama

Irisa

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