Just listening

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Thank to Stoonn and freedigitalphotos.net for the image

Can we be honest here?

I’m not sure what the hell I’m supposed to be doing.

While I’ve had (what I’ve felt over the course of several years) was a calling from God to write, I’m not so sure anymore. There have been things that have developed (now that I can clearly see with two undistracted eyes) that need some addressing and taking care of, now. More immediate than the lifelong dream of being considered a “writer.”

Nothing bad, no, and thanks for asking.

But I’m seeing things and behaviors in my family unit that I just accepted because well, I was too busy to address, and here’s the frightening thing: even notice.

Too busy to even notice.

From me, the Always Constant Noticer, the One Who Remembers, or so I’ve been called (and have recognized that tendency in myself ), this is terrifying.

Too busy to notice. Which is heartbreaking to me because it begs the question: What else have I missed?

What else has sailed on right past me because I was too busy building my career, focusing on me, wondering, just when in the hell, I could have a writing career of my own?

Please hear me: ambition, work, not bad things in life. Good things, actually.

But when you realize you perhaps, have a problem with ambition, in that it drives you to see only you and how things might work out for you, I think you have a problem. I’m using the word you, of course, meaning me.

What other things will I find under this big heavy rock of selfishness, I wonder lately.

And each time I wonder, more worms. More selfishness. More, sigh, dirt.

My husband reminds me that I’m changing too, a transformation of my own, and to not be so hard on myself.

But still I wonder what more I’ll uncover, hesitant. Though ironically knowing that what I discover about myself (negative or otherwise) is really, truly an opportunity.

An opportunity, yes. Even if it feels a little bit (I won’t lie: a lot) like pain and something I don’t want to have to deal with.

It’s like what they say about sickness and also well, my personal thoughts about clutter/cleaning up: it always gets worse (or seems worse) before it gets better.

So, that’s what I’m reminding myself now. To holding on. To hold on and know deeply that all the things and relationships I had in a certain arrangement in my previous life are transforming, changing, shifting. Just like me.

And through it all, remembering to listen to God. Because if He’s changing me, the dreams I’ve held for several years may also need a bit dusting off too.

All I can do is wait. And listen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I miss brunch

I miss brunch

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Thanks to Cornelia Rammler and Freeimages.com for the use of the image

Of all the things parent and young family related, there are quite a few that warriors called parents and/or guardians give up from our previous “life” that we let go of for our family without a problem.

For you and me, I imagine that list may look somewhat the same, somewhat different. But since we’re all sharing, here’s my list of my things I haven’t minded giving up on behalf of my children:

-Most nights, late dinners (hangry is a real problem for me)

-Swimming parties/pool parties

-Late nights (meaning, out past ahem, 8 pm.)

-Hanging out by the pool all day or at the beach all day (and cue Alanis – because guess where I grew up? The beach. Isn’t it ironic…)

-Days of silence, without chortles or giggles, or before, when I was single, days without kisses

-To some degree, the whole gym scene

-A predictable bedtime routine with responsibility for only putting myself to bed

For the most part, I don’t miss those things at all.

Especially the early-to-mid twenties pool parties that seemed to be prevalent in my day, where I felt uncomfortable hanging out in the middle of the day (I am nothing if not  productive and/or a napaholic. Plus, the idea of “working a room” poolside makes me take deep gulps of air to calm down.) And then, at a pool party there’s the whole other level of discomfort – doing above uncomfortable activities in a bikini. Lots of panic at the disco for me.

And yes, I know – I must be a thrill to be around.

So, when we had kids, thankfully a lot of the things I found not so enjoyable went away as a matter of nature by the routines of having small children entail, and a lot of great things came as a matter of course. And yes, we had kids for a reason…and we wanted them and clearly, wanted to add more joy and a whole lot more chaos and mess into our lives.

But I will say – I do miss brunch. Or at least, the idea of brunch.

And sure – maybe you don’t, maybe you can still do brunch (you have a newborn, or a kid who doesn’t fall apart completely with late naps, or maybe you birthed an angel) but, as a young family who is so close to being able to withstand a late breakfast/earlyish lunch affair, I sure do miss them.

And yes – I’ve heard the flack about it – it’s the previous week’s leftovers, sometimes. The champagne isn’t that great. It can be loud and it can be packed but man oh man – a couple of hours to eat and chat and drink coffee into the early afternoon and maybe look at a newspaper in peace…would be nice. Brunch, in my opinion, is spectacular. It’s a mini Sunday (peace, relaxation, rest) all squished together with yummy foods and hot coffee brought to you by a lovely stranger, all within a span of two hours.

Last year about this time, I had brunch in Paris, at a nice little café with co-workers and friends on a business trip and it was lovely, I won’t deny it. A Parisian omelet (the real deal, in my opinion) and nectar of the gods coffee that was sweet and deep and warm and filled all the holes in me that an 8 hour flight poked in on the night before. So…perhaps this is where this little brunch craving is coming into play.

Or, perhaps, the fact that I’ve just done a total 180 with my life and priorities and it’s naturally affected how much time I have with my husband and myself makes brunch suddenly sexy. And glamorous. And wonderful. Just like how M&Ms look when I’m on a no-sugar spree.

It’s a very familiar feeling for me and perhaps you too – the crazymaking of being this close to Major Goal (whatever that may be – retirement, the big 4-0 or 5-0, New Baby or the next level on Candy Crush) that you almost just can’t stand it. The closeness of it (much like how I feel about brunch, and potentially, writing a book proposal) is making you crazy. Absolutely crazy, due to it’s nearness. It was so much easier to be mannerly and patient, and well, sane when the goal wasn’t so close.

Which, is not unlike the last four days of my first pregnancy. The last four days were harder than all of the other pregnancy days added up together. I could so closely see the chalk on the finish line that I about whimpered all the way up until the end.

Anyways.

And I imagine, not so different than my recent brunch obsession. So close I can taste the eggs and peace.

But, until then, we’re all hanging out in what I’m calling this Wild Middle. The Wild Middle where you’re waiting for things to happen. Also known as Life. And, as we all sagely know, it’s a Whole New World when we get there.

But until we get there, I’ll heat up the coffee.

 

Before and After

Before and After

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Thanks to jk1991 and freedigitalphotos.net for the use of this image.

Before:

Lots of high-octane caffeine – started at 4:30a until around 4p.

Most taken leisurely at the office, and at least 2 cups there with creamer and light, adult conversation.

After:

Lots of high-octane caffeine – started at 4:30a until at least 7p. Most taken black now, out of sheer need, and black, yes, just like the psychopaths drink. Aren’t we so glad I’m home now with the children?

Before:

Goal of 10K steps a day started when I awoke; it was a good day was when I was able to work in a couple of walks during the day and hit 10K by 9p.

After:

I hit 10K by noon usually, and the average is around 15K steps. Which, yes, motherhood and chasing around children. But – also leads me to believe that perhaps I need to re-organize the house, as I’m not doing anything monumental here, and B) maybe we should work on ahem, remembering to put things away.

Before:

Evenings: Rushing around and doing laundry amongst last-minute runs to the dry cleaners to make sure I had enough work clothes for the week, and the rest of the crew at least had clean underwear. Frequently, I’d start loads at 11p at night before crashing.

Mornings: A whirlwind of trying to make sure everything was ironed, stain-free, and matching. Looking like I was a knowledgeable human being in my field was a bonus.

After:

Doing laundry, trying to keep up, wondering how I managed before. Also, it seems to keep growing and merging – last I looked it was a foot high and that was after I folded and put away this morning, and was impressed/proud of myself by getting the pile less than a foot high.

Before:

Call with Germany or France (or both!) at 8a about elaborate, complex, nuanced topics – not a problem, just give me coffee.

After:

Breakfast with a little one demanding a red cup and/or yellow plate and “marshmallows for breakfast” – wears me out completely, even though I’ve had 3 cups of coffee at this point. I would be lying if I said that sometimes I daydream a little about perhaps a pinch of Bailey’s in the coffee, just to lessen the intensity of the yellow plate/red cup “negotiations.”

Before:

At the store, all the time. It was my hobby, seems like – shopping for whatever we were out of that week.

After:

Trying to taking stock of what we really need.  Which, beyond the basics includes close to a flatbed’s worth of diapers, paper towels, and wine. Patience also is on the shopping list, if only one could buy it in bulk.

But seriously – learning some good things here, about myself (Oh boy! And some things perhaps I didn’t want to learn, like how selfish I can be!) And most notably, though I swore I knew it before – how much I love my free, only-me time.

I appreciate my family deeply, who are helping me to keep it real, keeping me humble and laughing most of the day, which I have to say, is not a bad way to spend a life.

Right now

Right now

Right now, I am really trying to avoid writing (though yes, I do love it) since I’d like to do some more of the fun stuff for myself, which includes meal planning and then, THEN, reading some books on the habit of creativity.

I know. I’m a thrill a minute! Can you imagine?

So, here I am thinking about dinners, and my son currently is in there, trying to take his you-know-what, and is laughing to himself, he’s so tired.

Laughing! Making his own self laugh!

He’s like me in that when he’s Tired with yes, a capital T, he gets delirious.

Delirious – and just like me, anything and everything’s funny, so funny, of course, that you almost start crying it’s so hilarious. As cool as you think that might be in terms of an indicator of a Very Tired Place, it’s also a difficult slippery slope – the next minute you can be sobbing. Or, at least in my case. He hasn’t presented that yet, so let’s hope he’s just all laughs.

When I’m feeling exhausted, I deliriously laugh, but for the record – haven’t been able to make my own self crack up like he can do. Kids – what a delight and joy.

Until of course, he giggles so much he doesn’t nap. Then the words “joy” and “delight” are far, far from the words I’d use to describe him then.

Oh, the daily life of being a parent – so much wonder, delight, frustration and confusion.

In the meantime, just thinking about if (the magic if) I’ll be able to pull off the magic trick that is getting my family to eat broccoli cheese soup. The person who wrote this particular recipe said it was created around the idea that the cheese is the vehicle to get veggies into tiny tummies, so that’s something I can get behind.

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Thanks to Serge Bertasuis Photography and freedigitalphotos.net for the imagery

My daughter, however…just about faints at any mention of the V-word.

In fact, the other day, we had a full-blown tantrum from just the sheer thought of having to eat green beans AGAIN. On the floor sort of feelings about this.

I love her dearly, but don’t mind me – just snickering in the corner.

Hoping your day is going well, and that your plans for the weekend include whatever version of happiness my meal planning extravaganza and exciting quiet book reading activity makes me.

 

Day 1

new habits, new writing commitment

Well!

Here I am, day 1 of a new habit – writing during nap time in attempt to take this whole writing thing seriously, build a career out of it, perhaps, despite the fact that I am at home with someone who still naps.

Writing, perhaps, is one of the few “jobs” where you can create amidst the very real chaos, that any sort of professional work you produce is literally bumping up next a laundry pile and perhaps, a mound of chopped celery.

Not that I would know anything about that.

But – it’s the truth, really, for artists. For anyone who creates – chaos is part of it – the chaos of the mess it takes to create (think about painters, I think also about my non-edited first drafts) anything, really, that takes creation takes a mess to make, including beautiful cakes. There are egg yolks and runny cake batter sitting around in a sink somewhere.

I don’t know why you create (oil paintings, babies, dinner, a carburetor) but for me, it’s order, it’s to make order and sense out of something as flotsam and random and full of odd-shaped puzzle pieces that the magic and confusion we call life.

It’s to make sense of it, to try and figure it out.

It’s to taste life twice, to not only understand the set of unique experiences I’ve had, but to understand others, to build empathy, and to, somedays, to create whole worlds for my children while I silently pray in my head that they go to sleep soon.

My art is writing.

And it’s not to be lofty, it’s not to isolate myself, and I wish I could say I took up writing out of boredom, but no, it’s not.

Writing has chased me nearly all my life, with something to say, something to tell.

And now, finally, it’s time I sit and listen to the story.