Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Brain freeze...

If you're Kim Possible's Rufus the Naked Mole Rat (seen above with a real NMR at the National Zoo), brain freeze is due to chugging super-large colas on the fly. Although I have been known to accomplish the same thing with fresh-from-the-fridge soy milk, my current brain freeze is due to multiple factors. The result is that I haven't felt much like writing for a couple weeks... :(

Brain freeze cause #1 was transitioning from Japan back to home. I never before realised that speaking (imperfectly at best) a different language for 3 weeks actually reconditions the brain (or, at least, my 49-year-old brain), so that it took over a week for me to remember to speak english to people outside my family, & then caused my brain's language-central to kind of shut down for a while. I'm better now :) Brendan didn't seem to have this difficulty, but he wasn't trying to talk as much as I was, & he's 11, for goodness sake (flexible brain). We've started japanese lessons again with our new teacher, Shizuka, & it's going really well. For the first couple of lessons I was still in brain freeze, but Shizuka was very patient & slowly she got an idea of what we knew & where we wanted to go. The part of the lesson with Brendan is mainly playing games (in japanese, of course) & reading some of the kids' books we bought in Japan, which he's enjoying. She's witnessed one meltdown (one of only 2 since we got home from Japan, & not at all related to our lesson) & it didn't faze her a bit. Hooray! :) It's really good to get back to it & also to chat about things we saw & learned in Japan, getting more understanding & insight into Japanese culture. I'm going to ask her to help me write an email to Nobuko-san soon, too (Tomoko's mom, whom we stayed with for part of our trip) since I'd love to see how she's doing & thank her again for all she did for us.

Brain freeze cause number 2 is more personal, & the main reason (I think) that I haven't been able to write. Some long-time misunderstandings between myself & Charlie's family have come to a critical point in the past few months & I've been doing a great deal of "work" on this stuff with my therapist. Sigh. There's no real win-win in the situation I'm in, so I've really been stretching myself to figure out how to make things livable, & to minimise the effects on my husband & kid. Charlie's been supportive & patient, & is the main reason I'm still sane. Dealing with this has sapped a lot of my energy & so Brendan's borne the brunt of a lot of this in the form of lack of patience & understanding, but things are getting back to normal & we all seem to be intact. Whew.

Brain freeze causation #3 is more elusive, but appears to be a lack of creative direction that has had me pretty miserable. Before we left for Japan I finished up a lot of projects- left few things unfinished, few threads hanging. Not good. There wasn't anything to just dive into when I got home, to rev-up the creative juices. To be honest, for the first few weeks I was just too tired & disoriented to do much, which always makes me very uncomfortable. I am never comfortable when I don't have lots of projects to do, lots of pots boiling, so to speak. On top of this, with my low-energy state of being, it's been really easy to let go of the usual summer projects that Brendan & I do together. He's been having a blast with "Camp Ck" on Tuesdays & Thursdays, & the other days of the week have been full of appointments & other busy stuff. We've talked about doing some things, but I just haven't had the energy to push it. Finally, though, I seem to be finding direction. At the indigo workshop we visited in Kyoto I found inspiration to try some new things with natural dyes, & for the past week or so I've been starting the process of exploring some of that inspiration. I got my natural dye book out & discovered some dye plants I never tried to use before that grow in my own yard (birch leaves & bark! coreopsis! elder leaves!) so I've widened my scope & now the house is full of yarn (& silk scarves!) in various stages of the dyeing process & the freezer is full of dye plants waiting for the pot. My next-door neighbour has been sharing plants from her yard, too, & it's been really fun to share my ideas with her. It's really nice to have the creative spark back. It's also given me the energy to begin the yearly project of knitting 6 pairs of socks for Brendan- woolies for the winter. Last year we reached the milestone of Brendan's socks being the same size as mine (& I didn't have to knit all 6 pairs, since I could give him a couple of mine, too :). This year his feet are between my & Charlie's sizes- it boggles my mind. I'm nearly done with 3 pair, & hope to finish the job before it becomes a "job", if you know what I mean :)

One of the reasons I'm happiest to be recovering from brain freeze is that I'm getting my energy back for Brendan. His work on the OCD anxiety has been so dynamic this summer that I need to be on my toes & ready for the times he needs some facilitation. It's awesome to observe & participate in this work of his. (Yeah, it's sometimes annoying too- like when he yells "fleas" in a panic, from another room, & I think he's yelling "please!" & have no clue what he's talking about/asking for... sigh.) We've started talking about the return to school & how to manage things that were at the top of his anxiety list at the end of 5th grade. He's now much more receptive to thinking about his human "fleas" (what he calls the OCD thoughts these days) as human beings with feelings, & let his own feelings of compassion balance the "fleas" he has about them. We've been talking about different ways to set "ki" barriers & the different ways he can protect himself from anxiety attacks, like carrying "omamori" (Japanese-style good luck charms), burning incense to purify "flea"-infested things, & shoring-up his energies so that he's not as vulnerable. We've talked about making our own omamori by sewing little pouches & putting crystals & herbs in them. I'm finding a strong sensory component in many of the things that are helping him- smell & touch helps him feel more secure, so we've been talking about that, too. His ability to analyse his anxiety is amazing these days. It's a lot more fun/interesting for me to be a partner in this enterprise, rather than the one seeking & providing what help I can. The flip side to the new maturity is that we're getting some "teen attitude", too. He can be really touchy if I appear skeptical of things he says, or doubt his judgement. We've always sorted things out afterwards, but I know this is just the tip of the adolescent iceberg. I've explained to him that questioning his judgement is just plain going to happen, given that he's still growing & learning what he needs to make good judgements. I have shared some indelible childhood moments of my own where bad judgement wreaked havoc, but have also explained to him that it's a natural part of his growing to resent my trying to intervene/protect him. I hope as long as we can maintain respect for each other we'll be able to get past the resentments to come...

So... that's where we are right now. Not quite ready for school (I don't even know what day he starts- we've got a few more weeks!), but definitely in end-of-summer mode. We've been enjoying japanese food (home-cooked & at our fave restaurant) & have found we can practise what we learned in Japan with some of the waitresses :) & getting to know our new japanese teacher. I finally found a positive way to encourage Brendan to practice the Dragon voice-activated software this summer, by allowing him to earn bionicles for time spent Dragoning... so he's been emailing grandparents & writing poems & stories, & 6 Toa Mahri later is defiinitely more proficient with the software (yay!). He was also psyched when I mentioned that the school district will be giving him a laptop with Dragon on it to use at school this year, which encouraged the practising, too :) We've been walking around the block every morning & after he finished "Deathly Hallows" he developed an interest in collecting wood from different trees to make wands, so we got out the tree identifier (& our neighbour very kindly gave him a lovely tree book) & found twigs from 8 different varieties of tree on just one circle around the block! He's in the process of stripping, sanding, & tung-oiling the wands. Brendan got the chance to spend time with his best buddy yesterday, too, (& just as importantly, I got to spend chat-time with his mom & dad :) & that was just lovely. Tomorrow I hope we'll begin the omamori-making. Should be interesting... :)

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At 5:18 PM, Blogger Natalia said...

http://www.craftzine.com/ the latest issue has a thing about natural dyeing. i recognize stuff my mother was trying in the 70's... but why not have loads of new people rediscovering that, right?!

PS: the word-verification is mujjjin (sounds almost like someone from samurai champloo...)

At 10:32 AM, Anonymous mcewen said...

We have a few weeks too. I think that for the summer I've just taken a back seat. Hopefully by the time September rolls around we'll all feel renewed, energized and ready to let those creative juices flow again.
Best wishes

At 5:33 AM, Blogger Sharon said...

Hi Lisa
I've been wondering how you are recently. I'm hoping you just don't feel like blogging right now, but everything is going well anyway. I'd like to get in touch, so I'd be grateful if you could e-mail me at thefamilyvoyage at yahoo dot ie.

At 9:10 PM, Blogger S.L. said...

Hi Lisa,

You had visited my blog (was Me By The Sea, now it's Stop.Think.Autism.) while I was "on hiatus" & I just checked yours out. I love it...we are big Star Wars fans here (my daughter has a t-shirt & some figures too!). Anyway, I'm looking forward to reading your blog & hope all is well. Take care!


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