Writing: The Art of Romanticizing Life

I’ll be the first to admit that my life is, by no means, glamorous. I am in, in no way, the best at anything. I have many talents but am a master of none, as the saying goes.

But when I tell people stories of my life, they listen. Or they read, because I am a writer and all. I lived a life that was very clumsy, but for that I have stories to tell. I did not live them so that I could make a profit or for the attention. Many of the stories I have to tell about my life, I truly wish I could take back and never live through again.

But why do you even bring them up, if you wished they never happened?

I am who I am today, because of those events. Because of my mistakes. While there is a teeny bit of satisfaction from people being interested in what I have to say, I honestly want people to learn from my life.

How do you get people to listen?

As a writer, stories are told in a way that place people in the moment. I put them there with me in the emergency room in Baghdad, in the concrete shelter of a bunker in Talil, in a helicopter over Mosul, on the seas of the Persian Gulf.  They listen as if they were on the receiving end of the phone call, the bad news, the heartbreak, the fear. Things that they have felt before but claim “I can’t even begin to imagine.”

Oh, but you can. And I will help you.

Writing is taking my day, mundane and routine, giving the details of what would normally go unnoticed, and changing the perspective of the person reading (or listening. I tell a lot of stories, too).

Writers church up the details, regardless of their intent. We make things darker, bolder, sexier, more precious. We put makeup on the pig, and fool them all.

This is kind of embarrassing but I’ll admit to it:

I have a habit of commentating my life as I go through my day. It makes me more conscious of my emotions, easier to control because I imagine people are listening to my thoughts and watching me throughout my day. This exercise also helps me to search out those romantic details of my day, and explore them.

Disclaimer: By romance, I am not referring to any type of relationship with people. I am referring to the ability to make something ordinary or otherwise a footnote and showing it in a light that makes it appear desirable.

Example: I have recently resigned from my job. I will, more or less, be a stay at home mom. For those who live there, they know it’s not as exciting as it sounds. But the writer in me divulges more, because heaven forbid anyone think my life is boring or mundane. I’m quitting my job to write full time and focus on my children. My book is finally finished and I have begun seeking representation. I should be published by the summer of 2018.

See how romantic that sounds? Not once did I mention dirty dishes or poopy diapers. Scrubbing the toilet or folding an endless pile of laundry. My hope was that you would imagine me, in my business casual, typing in my home office while my children play quietly on the floor in their clean day clothes (I just laughed so hard I snorted).

So you, writer, can you “church up” your day to day? Can you paint a sexy picture of your #bedhairdontcare? Can you fool us into believing Beyonce ACTUALLY woke up like that? That is my challenge for you today. Tweet it, FaceBook it, Instagram it.

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#myromanticlife

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Not me. Not this time.

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I have never been the one to mess with. I have either always knew the rule or researched it enough to know whether my stance on the matter was right or wrong. Health/ dental insurance don’t mess with me.  I know my contract in and out. I know what I am “entitled to”.

“But Dacia, you’re a millennial, you’re not entitled to anything!

I am a ten year Army veteran. I have earned my health and dental plans. (But really they are my husband’s work’s so shut up. Yes I have ‘earned’ them)

So let me tell you women something. You do not have to agree with what they tell you.

You don’t have to go along because you don’t know any better

You can learn negative and detrimental things of you own past that bring to light something you held at high regard.

You can learn that ‘”protection” might not have actually saved you from the danger of your own family.

You can learn that after 32 years of existence, what you thought you had built your own foundation  on was a lie or was kept a secret from you, in hopes that it would go away.

I feel ashamed and defensive. I feel like I am owed the truth on the matter before I go chiseling at the details.

I feel that being so comfortably removed from the situation has, yes, saved me from the physical hurt that others have experienced but also left the remaining victims silent in their recovery, personal remorse, and unable to anonymously share their side of the story.

Ladies- You are not alone. Many have felt this pain. It is not my story to tell, but if you can help others by stepping up, then maybe it’s worth it.

It is time that you have felt this validation. That YOU know that you are loved despite the things that happened to you.

I grew up so far removed. My memories are locked in the photos I own. I try to apply principles to my own little family that has very different dynamics.

If you can please help me to understand why women lay so vulnerable to men;   not allowing their own voices to be heard. Why do you place your husband above the love of your children? Then I may be able to sleep tonight.

Three Underrated Baby Items Mama Doesn’t know She Needs

As I sit in my garage selling things my family has grown out of, I can’t help but to reflect on some items that have saved my sanity the past 8 months. Things that before my second child, I had no idea existed. It would be a terrible injustice not to share them with everyone.

  1. The Silicone Breast Pump.

I bought this little doo-hicky on Amazon for about $15. Basically it’s a suction cup that catches your let down milk on the side that you are not nursing. I hated wasting this liquid gold into a nursing pad. It was also helpful in draining after babe was finished nursing if I was not completely empty. This device helped me extend my BF journey 4 more months.

2. The Infant Positioner.

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They recommend this gadget for safely side-sleeping your infant with reflux or flat head. I used this nice little cushioned divider for co-sleeping. It kept her pretty contained for the first few months and offered a snug and comfy portable sleeping mat that I literally could take anywhere. Napping in strange places or friend’s homes was so easy. And to think I paid $3 on a yard sale page for this.. (She was only asking for $1. I left her $3)

UPDATE: While this product was helpful for me and my family, studies show that anything in an infant’s crib is a potential suffocation hazard. The FDA urges to not use infant positioners because of the risk of SIDS. This was ideal for our family, but please be diligent in choosing any item for your child.

3. DIAPER STRAPS!!!!!

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If I were to get a new mama a gift, it would be about 4 of these bad boys. A local woman sells these on her Etsy page, in which I will shamelessly tag now. Sew Darn Cute where my friend Molly sells some pretty awesome mom things like door silencers and crinkle paper teething toys (which is my chunky monkey’s favorite toy). But all joking aside, these straps keep my diaper bag together and organized. I don’t have to search for a burp clothe, socks, and I don’t have diapers just floating willy-nilly in the bottomless pit of diaper bag. A good friend of mine is having triplets… I bought her 10 of these. She’s gonna need em!

 

I’m sure other items saved my life but these are just the immediate ones I can think really made a difference. What was your saving grace??

A Snap Shot of Life on the Extra Board.

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Photo Credit: Ales Krivec

This super-short is in response to a writing prompt that is very dear to my heart. You can find the original post at What Inspires Your Writing?

Twelve hours had come way too slow. He had been stopped in the middle of nowhere with no one else but the engineer for ten hours of the day. Not moving. Just waiting for dispatch to give them a green light. Instead they will deadhead in a van with a sketchy driver to their destination: a dirty hotel without consistent wifi. Bored and tired, he was ready for the day to be over.

Ten hours had come way too fast. She really felt she could use a few more hours in the day. By the time dinner for the kids was finished, hers was cold. She did the dishes while she ate, with the baby chatting in her high chair and son playing Mouse Trap upstairs. Bottles washed, diaper bag and back pack ready for the next day. Her own lunch prepped and ready to grab for the morning, she takes a few more minutes to clean up the living room before scooping up the baby and carrying dirty clothes with her upstairs. Then baths, PJs, teeth brushed, stories told, milk refilled, bedtime snack given, cuddling the babe back to sleep, more milk, and finally she is able to take off her shoes and work clothes. Laying in bed, she keeps the TV on for light and mindlessly looks at her phone until sleep arrives. She can hardly make it to 9pm, exhausted. 12am a little boy appears and snuggles until she is able to wake up enough to return him to bed and fulfill his requests. 2am a sleepy girl cries for milk. Twenty minutes to satisfy her hunger and then back to bed. She glances at the clock. 3 more hours until her alarm goes off. She doesn’t even know what day it is.

 

 

The Up Hill

 

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The thing about depression is there is no black and white. No yes or no. It’s a journey. Some days the going is hard and other days just treading water is a success.

5 days shy of 8 months and I finally feel like things are on the up for me. You see, getting better does not really start at getting help. Some times it gets significantly worse after that. Getting help is like clawing at the sides of the hole you are in to slow down the rate at which you are falling. You are either going find something that saves you, or you’ll hit the bottom. And for some, that is the only time they are able to climb out.

For me, I did not quite get to the bottom. I am adult enough to know that things could have been far worse. For me, reaching out meant a small dose of medication, counseling and a ton of support from the people around me. I am not embarrassed about postpartum depression. I have a ton of friends that are pregnant. If they start having symptoms, they know exactly who to talk to.

My PPD was not a disconnect from my children. It was different. It was not even triggered by pregnancy and birth, but exasperated due to the hormone changes that go along with it. I’m depressed because I hate the way I look after these beautiful creations clawed their way out of me like Ace Ventura out of a rhino butt..

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I am sad because I will never be 20 again. I will probably NEVER fit any of those jeans in the blue tote in my basement. And I will NEVER reach my fitness goal of wearing my old bras again either.. I have so many cute ones, this in itself is depressing. You can tell me I am ridiculous and to go easy on myself because I just had a baby. But when have you ever known me to go easy on myself? It’s one of my quirks and everyone secretly loves me for it. If I was not so hard on myself, people would not get paid, and my son would smell like farts. All.The.Time. So you are welcome for me holding myself to high standards.

Back to what I was saying. I am glad you think I am beautiful. My husband is still attracted to me after this transformation, but I am not attracted to me. Nope. I struggle with the state of things. I know how to fix them, but I have not been able to sleep because babe wakes up at least every two hours to nurse, I work full time and I solo parent a lot of the time.

And I have been so tired that I would cry when my alarm went off. It was bad.

This week has actually felt like I consistently kept my head above water. I was even faced with something that would have completely derailed me, but it did not. In the past and with everything I have been through, I thought I was pretty resilient, and I guess I still am. I did not stop fighting to be happy. I knew that if I was unhappy, my children would be effected. My marriage had already taken a huge hit. But I made it through. We made it through. I could not have done it with out them.

But you know what the big turning point was? Moving the baby to her own room and sleep training. I stopped nursing in the middle of the night. She protests adamantly in the beginning but no more than an hour of crying and falling asleep and crying again cycle. After one week, I am a brand new person. I could, and plan to, conquer the world. Now I can enjoy my coffee instead of survive on it. Maybe it is selfish of me not to want my baby close at night, and I have noticed that as I get older, I am less and less willing to compromise on things like sleep. Selfish? Fine. I will own that. But I am also getting back to a personal state of better health. Which is far more important to both of my children at this point.

So thank you darling. I know when you grow up and read what your mama wrote about you, you might not like it. But if we could help others by sharing our experiences, then I’d say we’re already a pretty darn good team.

 

via Daily Prompt: Better

Teething: The Cold Hard Truth

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Imagine, if you will, an ache. A small swollen pain that is constant and further irritated by doing the one thing that soothes you. Then remove your ability to fix it, or even articulate your need for assistance aside from screaming bloody murder and thrashing around. You have become a miniature angry octopus-banshee creature that is utterly inconsolable. This is my child.

You have become a miniature angry octopus-banshee creature that is utterly inconsolable.

No, I did not get lip injections, I was somehow kicked in the face multiple times. While I tried to pretend  it was a massage, my muscles were not fooled. Yes I did shower today in a desperate attempt to wake up, however this hair style is called the my-eyes-were-still-closed bun. If I had not set my kids clothes out last night, they would be wearing pajamas to the sitter. I also sincerely apologize to the gentleman that I MIGHT have cut off today on the highway. Your middle finger was very much warranted. Thank you for not retaliating in any other way like tailgating, honking or the like.

Normally I am that annoyingly chipper morning person, so I’m just guessing this is Karma coming back at me. Well played, life. Well played. I am far too nice to not smile back at everyone I see, but it is seriously exhausting to do so.

I cannot taste my coffee. It is having zero effect. I desperately wish it was Friday instead of Wednesday but it is feeling so much like the third Monday of the week. Oddly enough I will probably be far more productive today in attempts to compensate for my lack of motivation.

But after such a torturous night, waking up to happy kids puts a nice buffer on the rest of the day. Pulling myself out of bed after only hitting snooze once, made for an easier morning and less rushing.

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It is amazing what an hour nap does for a baby. I love you, Pumpkin, but you have made Mommy’s day suck really bad. And there does not seem to be an end in sight. I’m scared to google “how long does teething last” because my four year old now has molars coming through. Heaven help me.

 

Just Jump

There was one time, I jumped out of an airplane. I had been on many before, even over a war zone when the turbulence was questionable to the pilot’s skill and flares shot out the back to ward off enemy fire. I would sometimes ask my fellow passengers if they would jump. Some looked at me wide-eyed and green-faced and shook their head no. Others would consider the question and without too much thought claim they would. I, however, had spend some time mulling the question over. I decided that if some one shoved a parachute in my arms, and had full confidence that I would live through the experience, I would absolutely do it. I think this is pretty consistent with most things in my life, though only a few where failure would mean certain death.

There is never a perfect time to have kids, buy a house, change jobs, get married. I mean sure, looking back everything fell into place, but at the time it was hard work and incredibly scary. I struggled and got hurt along the way, but every single thing in my life has placed my in the seat I am in (attached to this damn pump). Through all of these changes, one thing has remained consistent: my resilience. I never stopped looking up. I never kept trying for inner peace in the situation. I never let things consume me. And when it was hard to do on my own, I got help. I have been through some of the most horrible things. But I still smile and play with my baby girl when she wakes up, I still hug my son and tell him how handsome he is before school. I tell my husband how much I love him every single day. I come to work and put pride in every thing I do.

The other day I watched a video about Will Smith describing the time he jumped out of a plane. He said something like how complete and utter fear precedes unimaginable bliss. If you have children, those moments before that little person arrive are riddled with fear and anxiety. But the moment you hear that perfect sound of their cry, nothing ever comes close to the happiness and relief of that moment. Separated by milliseconds. Sometimes they are even all smashed together into one.

If this does not personify my message today, I don’t know what would. Thank you Kellie for letting me share this moment.

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This photo was taken by Jennifer Mason of Jennifer Mason Photography. The photo is of my friend Kellie and her brand new babe. (So many feels)

So if you’re on the fence of something incredibly scary and life changing I encourage you to take a chance for the better. (If you are on a literal fence and it’s a long way down, maybe you should reach out for some help like I did). Either way, change might be scary, but I think living the same day over and over is far worse.