Greg feels I put too many lights on our tree this year. I have never felt so misunderstood as an artist. A Lighting Artist. I worked in the Theater (say it with an overly syrupy British accent: THEE-AH-TAH!). Lighting is EVERYTHING, Dar-ah-ling. Without proper lighting, there is no mood…no ambiance. I used a new lighting method this year (patent pending). I’m calling it the “swamp” method. Supplies needed for a 7 foot tree: 120 feet of lighting. Instructions: Swamp the tree. SWAMP IT DEAR. Commit to the light, or Jesus’ birthday won’t come.
Upon further reflection (pun entirely intended), my first thought was, “Too many lights? Because I’m not sure I can see the lights underneath the ornaments and garland. I can’t even see THE TREE.” And for my inquisitive readers, I can confirm this tree is decorated “in the round”.
Therefore, we have now agreed on the most important piece of Christmas decorating: next year, “we’re going to need a bigger BOAT”.
Tags: The Girls
5-Star attempt to create a costume matching her Kanga. Cat socks, a sweater, and wolf ears. Well-played.
My Dearest Kelly Eleanor,
I do have a sense of urgency when I record you. I have this nagging fear you’ll grow up, ask me what you were like as a child, and I will be speechless. Speechlessness is an accurate estimate, as I cannot categorize you in any way, shape, or form. You are a string of seemingly unrelated, yet equally unusual stories, that leads me to only one conclusion: you are un-label-able (hence the need for a made up word).
Even though I’ve grown somewhat accustomed to your lack of personality permanence, tonight’s activities have thrown me for a loop. You are taking part in a reading study, which requires me to fill out a Behavior Assessment Scale on occasion. Plainly stated, it’s awful. I used it when I worked as a Pediatric Psychiatric Researcher, and I know exactly what these questions are seeking. “Sets fires” makes me cringe, and I can still see those patients in my mind. Others apply to all children at one time or another: “Acts strangely”. OK? Yes? Sometimes? Maybe always? Today you told me you and your best buddy spent 2nd recess trying to recapture all of the evils which were let loose out of Pandora’s box. You used things you found outside to represent the evils, and “jealousy” is a nut. Huh. Now we know. You were rather perturbed that you could not locate “power”, which isn’t an evil from the box, but I had to say…I was pretty impressed at your addition to the list. So is it strange that at the age of 6 you can list the world’s greatest evils? Maybe. It’s maybe a bit more strange that you put “hope” back in the box. That can’t be good. Where is this on the Behavior Assessment Scale? “Interrupts others when they are speaking, and if given the chance, would rip hope away from mankind and seal it in a mythical jar for all of eternity.” And just how would I answer that anyway? Sometimes? Often? Only at 2nd recess when the swings are all taken?
A long-sleeve dress you turned into a tank dress? It was 19 degrees outside, so this seems prudent.
As it turns out, Pandora was just the tip of the iceberg. Tonight, you were overly cantankerous at dinner. Nothing new. You hate any food not resembling cotton candy. Tomorrow night I may serve you butternut squash on a paper cone, just to prove my point. Considering you were already at full-crank, I decided to pick the tooth battle with you. While I can’t label you as consistently this or that, I CAN say with great certainty you fear losing teeth with a Genghis Khan-style wrath. At least one (or several) of your loose teeth are just hanging out of your mouth. You can barely speak, and you’re starting to look and sound like those poor nursing home patients who put in dentures without any bonding liquid. The worst tooth just had to come out. IT GOT UGLY…as in…it took ALL FOUR of us to get it out. Daddy with the gauze, Mommy holding hands, Sara holding the flashlight, and you having a very verbal, and tearful, mental breakdown. After several minutes of pure, unobliterated drama, Daddy asked you to hold the tooth and he bumped your elbow. Ha! He’s a wild genius at just the right moments (and to be fair, at the wrong ones too). Were you happy to have it out? Oh God no. You FREAKED the FREAK out. Put THAT on the Behavior Assessment Scale: “Adjusts well to new teachers and loses baby teeth in a fashion resembling a demon exorcism”.
Remember Kelly-Con? Guess what Goomommy got as a Gag Gift from Daddy this year?! She’s Pinkie Pie!
But girl, I’ll give you this: you regrouped. Well, after a dose of Tylenol, complaints about your sore ear, Sara’s complaints about an itchy butt and a headache, the realization that you’ve both cried yourself from head cold into full-on upper respiratory infections, requests for more heating pads than we own…THEN you regrouped. “Shows feelings that do not fit the situation”. “Only at bedtime” is not a choice on this scale, and now I know why. As I kissed you and Sara’s red, runny noses good night, you both gave it one more shot:
Sara: What does perspicacious mean?
Mommy: Daddy?! What does perspicacious mean? You love that word!
Daddy (calling up the stairs): With penetrating mental discernment!
Mommy: Sara, it means you putting together the Lego Friends Mansion. Your brain on Legos. Perspicacious.
Kelly: Mommy, what does obstreperous mean?
Mommy: Technically it means loud and sassy, so in this case, we’ll say it’s you when we’re pulling your teeth. Kelly, you are dentally obstreperous.
Ha! Dentally obstreperous. And here I thought you couldn’t be labeled. Not to worry, it’s on the Behavior Assessment: “Does the Tooth Fairy visit this child, even when she blabbers like a madman?” Always.
Because we love you. Every last, little, tremendously wacky thing about you.
Love, Giggles, And Quarters Under Your Pillow,
Mommy and Daddy
Tags: The Girls
The U.S. Botanical Gardens
I love the holidays for the mere fact that they warp time in the most interesting of ways. Life is just tripping along, day by day, dishwasher load by dishwasher load, and then WHAP! It’s Thanksgiving. Drop it all people! DROP YOUR LISTS and make a pie! Make 5 pies! Make a turkey! Make ALL the food! New recipes, old recipes….eat until the heartburn stretches from your eyes to your toes! Drive 20 hours round trip for one meal! It’s the most wonderful and delicious kind of madness. I know I joke a lot, but in reality, I adore Thanksgiving. I love a reason to put down my iron-clad schedule and take a little break from my crazy for a different flavor of crazy (especially crazy that tastes like apple pie).
I returned home, wishing there were a maid service who cleaned my house when I leave town…but alas, the amusement ride which is Thanksgiving in Washington DC has come to an end. Did I really leave dirty dishes next to the sink? OH YES. Yes I did. Did I really have an Executive Council PTA Meeting the morning after our return? Uh-huh…I should know. I’m the ding-dong who scheduled it.
And now we have a rather condensed holiday season with Christmas a mere 3.5 weeks away. Gracious! Cards? Nutcracker tickets? Train exhibits? Holiday parties? Dresses to wear to holiday parties?! I don’t even know where to begin. The white load. When in doubt, start with the white load. Someone, somewhere needs clean underwear. That should be on a t-shirt, or emblazoned on the bejeweled pockets of our Mom jeans. Which brings up an important question: why is it the fatter our asses get, the more designs the jean makers put on our pockets? Do they think those glittery studs will be distracting? It’s perplexing how much dia-melles highlight one’s patookus. I think NOT highlighting my badonka-donk is in everyone’s best interest. I’m just saying.
Where was I? Oh yes. Dirty dishes, white loads, and the Christmas countdown. Let’s go with Door #3: What fun things do you have planned this holiday season? And if you plan it, can I join you? Nothing that requires more than fancy jeans, please, because there will be no time for shopping this year. Crap! The shopping! Gotta run…
Tags: The Girls
Tradition can be created and cherished in a million different ways, and one of mine is the Gifts War. It seems silly to some, how devoted I am to a school event, but I don’t have an extensive memory of Christmas. I don’t have a home I return to every year, where I look upon childhood ornaments or relive tales of Christmas past. In many respects, my life began at 29, when I bought my first home, tied my first tree to the roof of my Subaru, and taught myself to bake pies. I was alone in that house, but ridiculously happy, and I began my own holiday traditions which are so dear to me, I cannot imagine a year without them. I can remember standing in my 88 year old kitchen, rolling out noodles with a holiday movie playing in the background and I thought, “OH. Christmas. So this is kind of great.”
And every year for 6 years, I’ve climbed the tall ladder and hung the twinkly lights that rim our school’s holiday shop. I put the batteries in the stacked presents to make the fairies spin on the gift card table. I hang the signs. I set up the wrapping stations. I lay out the holiday themed scissors I bought week after week with JoAnn’s coupons. I greet each volunteer with a joyful “Happy Gifts Galore!”. I tie myself to the Chairman and offer oxygen, assistance, and emergency run-about you-name-it task completion. With over 400 student shoppers, 120 volunteers, and 4000 gifts, it’s a complex event to pull-off, so the Chairmen are great about taking my enthusiasm in stride. I like to say I’m high energy, but low drama. I know it’s nutty that I pull ceiling clips out of a box and say, “Look! The CLIPS! They’re here!”, but hey…it’s my tradition, and I love it with a childlike enthusiasm.
I probably bore people with stories about how the decorations were gathered by dumpster diving at bookstores. How we repainted Nabisco grocery store displays in order to gain extra shelving. I talk about the importance of creating anticipation for the students (which is half the fun), and how each Chairmen has won the War by finding sleds within our very tight budget. Sleds and Barbies…the Holy Grail of the Gifts War.
We live in a world fueled by change, but at the holidays, change takes a vacation. We want to see the familiar decorations go up. We want to see the countdown clock magically appear in the lobby. We love that this event is predictably great, year after year. The music will play overhead. The Dad’s gifts will be in the back right corner, and the candy section will be next to Hanukkah. The stuffed animals will overflow from the fake fireplace. The spinning jewelry tower will be covered in fancy slippers, colorful gloves, and snowflake earrings. We don’t want just any Gifts Galore. We want OUR Gifts Galore.
We want the Bark Cookies I make and package as thank you favors for the volunteers. We want dozens and dozens of my Grandmother’s oatmeal scotchie cookies (oatmeal…it’s like I’m serving a healthy breakfast). We want to send out for sandwiches and wolf them down before the next class comes into shop. We want to marvel at the amazing job gifts found by the parent shopping team. We want to chat at the gift wrapping stations, and get to know the students as we help them shop. We want to be together for just a moment before the real holiday madness begins.
And for 2 days of decorating and 2 days of shopping and wrapping, we are just that. All together, tucked into the Meeting Center, giving our students the experience of gift-giving. We are teaching them to witness someone’s life, and asking them to look through eyes not their own. It’s a gorgeous and tremendous experience.
I never anticipated this season in my life. I couldn’t have guessed it would feel this wonderful. I won’t waste a moment worrying that I’m quirky with my themed apron, or just a little over-the-top with my spirit. I would never treat this blessed time in my life with such disregard. This is a gift. This is my tradition. And while I have many more traditions in our home that play out this holiday season, for me, my holidays begin with the Gifts War. I thank you for witnessing this precious part of my journey, year after year. Godspeed, my friends, and Happy Thanksgiving.
Tags: The Girls
As many of you know, we don’t pay for grades, only for effort, via a system we call “Homework Points”. It’s a chart on the pantry door where the girls rack up stickers which can be traded in for fabulous cash and prizes. Once a month, Vanna White appears in our living room on a rotating, life-size lazy Susan, with each spinning quadrant featuring themed merchandise and trips. Cruises go with luggage, and patio furniture goes with a crystal lady bug pin, etcetera…
WAIT. Hold on a second. I think this virgin Bloody Mary just went to my head, and I blacked out and woke up in 1982. My bad.
Kelly is famous for blowing her points at every opportunity. Sara is our saver, until the Scholastic book flyer comes home, and then that girl can blow the wad. I LOVE how those flyers haven’t changed in 40 years. Do you think Scholastic and Lifetouch Portraits share the same Communications Director? It’s just this 89 year old man in a dusty office using a rotary phone to send down his directives. “You listen here Youngins! I’ve been designing these take home flyers for FIFTY YEARS and you don’t MONKEY with TRADITION!” And I digress YET AGAIN. Damn you V-8. Why don’t they just put the vodka right into the can, thereby negating the problem of running out of vodka? I’ll bet the flyer guy never runs out of vodka. “Holy Shit Margaret, there’s a run on the Junie B. Jones series! Pour me another drink!”
But then one day, Kelly figured out that cotton candy could be made at home. Don’t ask me how; I sure as heck didn’t tell her. She’s only had cotton candy once in her life (at the circus, because you know I’m loyal to themes), and from that point on, she’s been hooked. Every time she begs for it, I ask her, “Do you see a circus anywhere? Why would I want cotton candy without any clowns? It makes no sense.” But as Kelly never backs down from a challenge, she pulled out the big guns, “Momma? Can I use my points and BUY my own cotton candy maker?!” Ah Lawdy, that girl has my number. Those points can’t be taken away, and they are theirs to spend. Short of bringing home a puppy, they are solid gold (not really…they’re worth about 25 cents).
So I did what every reasonable American Mother would do: I set the bar high. 200 Points. She needed to earn the maker, the supplies, and the shipping. There was no way she’d make it…so I thought. When she rounded the 150 points corner, I got a little desperate. I started pointing out stuffed animals in catalogs. I would casually leave Amazon open with a huge elephant in view, and then just nonchalantly walk away.
But here’s the thing about Kelly: she cares deeply about very few things. Most things? Take it or leave it. But when she’s centered, watch out. She’s a Mighty Mount Olympus. I’m certain she will somehow land a career with a sole purpose of eradicating Halloween, and forcing stores to leave their Christmas displays up year around. FOCUSED. Like a tiny, blonde, wickedly shrewd laser. Enjoy your Halloweens now, because when Kelly is in charge of the world, that madness will end, my friends.
The Back To Basic Cotton Candy Maker arrived on our doorstep one day ahead of its promised arrival date, causing 2 young ladies I know to go OUT OF THEIR MINDS with excitement. I have to admit, it’s so easy to use, even I enjoyed it. I couldn’t take pictures of the spinning, because it took both hands, but once I got the hang of it…super easy. We can make grape, cherry, or blue raspberry (and as all Mothers know, those are the exact same flavor…sugar coated sugar), and we have a bajillion cones (Kelly saved for the jumbo pack, because why would you skimp on glory?). Pour a scoop of flossing sugar into the center and it heats up and flies out like a spider web. Those Carnies make it look so magical! It was kind of neat to do it in my kitchen. And…well…yum. Who doesn’t want colored sugar on a stick? FINE. Ms. Healthy Cooker Pants will admit it: I DO.
We’re pretty proud of our little Kel-Kel. That stick-of-a-dietary-nightmare represents a mile-high stack of math worksheets, reading log entries, mad minutes, story problems, and violin practices. She has EARNED this cotton candy. You can’t put a price on the lesson of delaying gratification. However, you can put a blood sugar on it, and I’m guessing it’s about a 20 point spike (stop shaking your head in disgust Dad, I can hear you from 85 miles away). My Father is so horrified at this moment, he’s probably in his greenhouse, ingesting some kind of vegetation/vinegar/bee pollen concoction to get his mind off this travesty. He’s going to print off research, pencil all over it, and then mail it to me. Then he’s going to call me in a few weeks to see if I’ve read it. DAD! It’s been like a month! We’ve already eaten like 20 cones! We’re in a coma! USE YOUR EMAIL, DUDE! And I digress AGAIN.
If someone could please pick up some vodka and insulin, I’ll be in your debt. I can pay you in cotton candy. Wait. Is that counter-intuitive? Do you care? It’s fresh COTTON CANDY guys. Great. Now I have to circus-theme the house to go with it…
*The Back To Basic Cotton Candy Maker company did not pay me for this post, or provide the machine or supplies. In fact, I don’t know who they are. I’m guessing they are located next to the Dilly Dally Dolly Company, which is protected by Scoob and his Gang from inside their Mystery Mobile. I got the maker from Amazon, but they didn’t pay me either, because much like Google, Amazon isn’t REAL. It’s either a robot in a closet in the center of the earth, or it’s a figment of our collective imagination. I can’t decide which. Greg keeps telling me I pay out too many points, and the homework chart isn’t backed by the gold standard. There isn’t real money behind those stickers, and where do I think that money is coming from? And you know what I said? I didn’t say anything. I just shoved a stick of cotton candy in his face, grabbed the car keys, and told him I had to make a vodka run. I haven’t gone home yet, so cover for me if he calls….*
Tags: The Girls
Congratulations Stephanie! You have won the Christmas Drawstring Gift Bag! It’s gorgeous, but its picture cannot be revealed until I deliver its 5 matching bags (they were won as part of a school auction). I spared no thread, this much you’ll see when you receive it.
Anyone who entered Indianapolis Museum of Art and/or 100 Acres and/or the Park of Laments was entered. Park of Lament entries received 2 entries. This picture is the dead give-away to the location, as it includes the entrance, and the hint that this park is elevated above ground. The Indy residents were able to accurately guess, as that’s not exactly a stone wall behind and in front of the girls. It’s actually limestone-filled Gibeon baskets. The entire park is a modern art structure, meant to create a place for “lamenting and purging the global atrocities of the 20th and 21st centuries”. It was designed by artist Alfredo Jaar, and has become a much-loved part of the Indianapolis Museum of Art‘s 100 Acres. 100 Acres is a museum art park which showcases commissioned modern art pieces, which are described as “site-responsive”. I can not create a more apt phrase to describe 100 Acres. You have to see it to understand it, but basically, every piece in the park is meant for interaction, and incorporates the elements surrounding it. It’s ridiculously engrossing.
Chopstick, a 100-ft. Tulip Tree (state tree of Indiana), turned sideways to make swings and tables. Where is the bark? On the concession stand. Love it!
Thank you to everyone who entered. I’m looking forward to sharing many fun and informative pieces with Indy’s Child Magazine, and I hope you’ll join me there for more adventures with Wisdom Comes Suddenly. And congratulations to Stephanie R., an fellow Indy-resident who I know loves this town as much as I do!
*Per FCC blogging disclosure guidelines: The IMA, 100 Acres, nor any artists provided any compensation for this post. The only reason 100 Acres landed here is because the picture made for a fun contest. This disclosure begs the question: what would they provide? 18″ of holiday cotton material from the fabric store? Snowflake buttons? Not admission, because guess what my pals who live in pricey parts of the world? This entire list of Indy attractions is FREE. Totally…completely…without charge. However, I would like to pay them. For more bathrooms please! Talk about “site-responsive”.*
Tags: The Girls
I was so excited to start your Holiday Season with a bang, and tell you we beat our best Gifts War ribbon cutting record by 1 minute. We had an engineering glitch at the outset, and with tornadoes rolling through our area, we stopped more than once to check the weather (Indiana-style: look out the window and listen for anything sounding like a train). At 22 minutes, I was sure we were in the clear for a new record. (You can’t look away from my brand-spanking newly painted walls, trim work, and doors, can you? I know. It’s blinding. Prettiest thing EVER.)
Spirits were high this year. It’s Kelly’s year to add this volunteer effort to her Community Service Log. 1st Grade is INTENSE. 4 hours of Community Service in the holiday season, or you’re OUT. Just kidding. If you do less than 4 hours, the punishment is light. You have to make up that time on trash can duty in the nurse’s station during flu season. SO JOKING.
Sara had a big year too. She got to use a real exacto knife, after officially graduating from scissors. We cut 4000 strands in 20-esque minutes! No one has time for handle-based cutting tools in the Gifts War. Scissors are for suckers.
But our misconfiguration on ribbon length, along with the fear the house would be blown over during the process, means we actually fell behind last year’s time by a full 2 minutes. UGH! 22 minutes to cut the 4000 strands and stuff them into 4 buckets, in preparation for the school’s annual Santa Shop. I thought last year was a 23 minute cut, and I wrote the Chair, all thrilled…mostly about being in a house still standing. Upon review of last year’s post, I realized we fell 2 minutes short.
Can’t win ‘em all. And here’s the thing: this year was our “best time”. In our 5th year of cutting the ribbon, it’s our tradition for starting the holiday season. It’s always a quick job on a Sunday (as you can see, “getting dressed” is not on our priority list on Sundays), and every year the girls are a bigger and bigger help. The cats stay on a tight patrol, in case any ribbon tries to get away (or runs away?). We’ll be decorating by Friday because Hanukkah has an early start this year. Hope you checked your calendars, because it begins Thanksgiving night! I wonder who elected a PTA President who remembered to check all the holiday start dates before scheduling the annual holiday shopping event, thereby making sure all the kids had gifts in time for their celebrations? Hmmm….WHO could be this hyper-organized? OK fine, you guessed it. It was me. And Kelly, who still thinks she’s Jewish. I’m done fighting with a 6 year old about this topic. Mazel tov Kelly.
So let’s just forget the time we made, and remember instead the time we had. Godspeed my friends! Don’t forget to enter the drawing for a holiday-themed gift bag, handmade by me! Entries are due tonight.
A review of our history with the Gifts Galore event, which we have always called “The Gifts War”, as it was mispronounced by the girls when they were toddlers:
The Year It All Began, 2008
The Gifts War, 2009
Ribbon in 2010
Windows in 2011
Ribbon in 2012
Tags: The Girls
I cracked a joke about my life insurance last week, and Greg gently reminded me, “Honey, you don’t have life insurance. You remember, don’t you?” Oh. Right. A couple of run-ins with the gangs we’ll call “skin cancers” means insurance companies see me as a bad influence. Greg, in his relentlessly sunny outlook, reminded me all the money in the world won’t buy what I give to this family. He’s sweet. As tears came out of nowhere, I uttered some disheartening words, “I’m not making any money, dead or alive”.
And on these words my thoughts centered for the rest of the week, which are not new or novel thoughts to Stay At Home Moms. The lingering regrets of paying our way through college, and then dedicating a decade or more to a meaningful career, only to have walked away from it, are hard feelings to swallow. Aside from worrying about our legacies, we worry about the lessons we’re teaching our children, especially daughters.
Rather than whisk these worries away (swimming, just keep swimming), I SAT on them. I really let those feelings live inside my chest, until the answers came. After much reflection as to what my daughters are learning from me, I made a list of “What I’m Teaching My Children”. So, as is my tradition:
Dear Sara and Kelly,
Photo Courtesy of Mark Dickhaus Photography
Be present in your marriage. This simple phrase is so much harder than it sounds. After a full day of wiping butts and noses, stuffing veggies down the throats of ungrateful mac-n-cheese-aholics, saying no to requests for candy, playing Zingo until your brain has frozen into a motionless cube of grey matter, and folding laundry that will re-filth itself in a day…when your husband asks you for anything at all, your first response will invariably be, “MY LORD MAN. You’re an adult. GET IT YOURSELF.” This will be the wrong response. He’s checking to see if he lands anywhere on your map of “things I care about”. Get him the beer and give him the kiss. Again, this is harder than it sounds. I can hear your Father from his office right now, “SHE SCREWS THIS UP ALL THE TIME!” Yes, yes I do. But I do try. And when it’s all said and done, you know he’s my favorite person in the house, which is as it should be.
Be present in the lives of your children. This will also be harder than it sounds. You will fret the little things. You will lose your temper and lose sight of the big things. So when you’re standing at the crossroads of doubt, just STOP…and be PRESENT. Listen to your inner voice, and ask for help. Your children don’t care if you sewed the costume by hand, or bought it online at midnight after an exhausting day. They don’t care if you packed the lunch or bought it. They only care that you know what they want to be for Halloween, and you know what they like to eat at lunch . Little people aren’t so much different than adults in their needs; they need to be known. They long to be understood. They have oddly persistent addictions to cheese covered pasta dishes. You don’t have to be perfect to be the world’s greatest witness. You just have to show up and be emotionally present.
My 40th Birthday, Photo Courtesy of Mark Dickhaus Photography
Feed your friendships. They will sustain you. That’s all I need to say on this topic, because you’re fairly sick of listening to me scream with laughter when I am with my friends. When you grow up, I’ll overhear you telling your kids, “Grandma is hosting another movie night with her gals. We’ll have to call her later. I can’t be certain, but I think she’s worn out 10 copies of Magic Mike by now…just don’t ask.”
Feed your family. In your attempts to do this, “experts” will swirl around you, proclaiming there is a nutritional end game. It will be very confusing, and more than just a little frustrating. I hope if I’ve taught you anything at all, it’s to eat plain, simple, real food and serve it with love. Someone asked me last week after eating my apple pie about my pie-making secrets. “I thought of you, and how grateful I was for you as I baked it. That’s it.” And that’s the God’s-honest truth. My pie recipe is straight out of Betty Crocker, but I’d never attempt one in a bad mood. If I find myself too emotionally exhausted to love cooking for too many days in a row, I know it’s my signal to change the schedule.
Allow your living to renew you. There are things in life that may needlessly drain you (i.e. toxic people). Be determined in getting these things out of your space. There are things that will naturally renew you (hobbies, days to yourself). Bathe in them as much as possible. There are things that ride the fence (Monday night dinner, mopping the floors, running errands). Things that must be done, are good to get done, but feel like chores. On these, just change your perspective. Imagine energy coming up from the earth through your feet as you do them. Allow your soul a chance to speak to you. Sometimes I choose silence, sometimes I do the grocery shopping while listening to my favorite music, sometimes I mop the floor with my favorite movies playing in the background. I thank God for the sun spilling in the windows as much as I thank God for the rainy days which make me feel cozy and reflective. I strike up positive conversations with cashiers. I smile at strangers at the UPS store. I light candles on the dinner table on random week nights. I draw energy from my life, as much as I infuse energy into the world around me.
Be relentless in your lifelong learning. I’m certain Daddy and I taught you “Education” is our family’s top priority. We’ve made sacrifices in almost all other categories in order to put your education first. Always be learning something new, from anywhere you can. The 20 year old neighbor might have the wisdom you need today, or maybe it’s the wise friend who has seen it all. You might learn it in a book. You might watch a tutorial. Take a class. Go to a conference. You might decide to chuck it all and teach yourself. You may not even be on the learning curve and something will fly right at you. Be open to it. Learn the hard things. Learn the easy things. Get up every day, and see what this world has to teach you. The beauty of life is your can never run the learning well dry. It’s such a blessing.
Be as generous as you can with your time, talents, and charitable giving. This will NOT be harder than it sounds. This will be awesome. Find what matters to you, and be its champion. And then zip up your ego, and ask yourself not what you can teach to it, but what it can teach to you. Volunteerism is a 2-way street, and will open up parts of your conscious you didn’t even know were there. If you feel like your life is lacking dimension, look outside of yourself, and what God needs you to do will probably be right in front of you.
After you’ve poured yourself out into the world around you, make sure you’ve saved a little something for yourself. Take care of yourself. You’re no good to anyone broken. Some days this will be effortless. Some days this will require a bit of selfishness. Some days this will feel absolutely impossible. Some days you’ll wake up lost in your own story. Some days, you’ll be found. Be patient with yourself. Be kind to yourself. Laugh and laugh and laugh, and if you can’t laugh, find a friend who can laugh for you. Stop trying to be perfect, or waste time presenting a perfect version of yourself to the world. Ain’t nobody buying that perfection-crap anyway. That being said, if you’re great at something, people may doubt you. Be great anyway. Walk away from other’s insecurities before they pollute your world with their nonsense. You’re going to mess some stuff up. You’re going to beat yourself up. Stop. Now. Learn, try again, or move on…you’re not the first person to fall off the bike of life. I am. I totaled that stupid bike.
I haven’t taught you to be a doctor, a lawyer, a teacher, a scientist…or even a writer. God, I hope I haven’t taught you to be a writer, or if I have, I hope you make more money than I do! I haven’t taught you how to get rich, or to be heavily insured. However, I have taught you how to live, and how to be hard to kill. I’ve taught you how to lean into life, and to love the journey. You know…I think that’s good. I think I’m finally OK with this completely fabricated existential crisis. Wisdom Comes Suddenly.
*This post is dedicated to Amie and Cindy, whose friendships have followed me around the world and back again. These two women have never, not even on my worst days, allowed me to lose sight of why I chose to stay home. Their love clung to me when the Grandmother “who loved me into being” died unexpectedly, leaving me so grief-stricken, I got cancer. Their love brought me back. They are my “colleagues”, my noon-day laughter, and the trusted keepers of my darkest fears. As we choose to live in the light, may God keep us together.*
Tags: The Girls
I’ve got BIG news you’all. Like bumper crop in the apple orchard big. Wisdom Comes Suddenly is now a featured blog at Indy’s Child Magazine, online. You can either go to their main page here, and choose “Wisdom Comes Suddenly” from their blog list, or you can link straight to my pieces here. I won’t duplicate any material; everything you read at Indy’s Child will be new posts and new pictures. There are two new posts out there now, and I do love them so:
The Sweet Spot Summer
Fall 2013, Pinterest Top 10
I will write as me, being me, living the me. I promise, no weird twists or fancy-pants stuff…just the usual Erma Bombeck-esque comedy you’ve come to expect. I will mess up crafts. I will take the long way to the finish line. I will laugh at the high-jinx I get myself into. I will wonder out loud as to why I ever decided to become a Mother, and I will thank the good Lord for seeing fit to make me one.
To celebrate this INDY-riffic achievement, I would like to sponsor a give-away. Indy residents are at a very unfair advantage, but as we’re sending love over to Indy’s Child, it feels right. To enter, leave a comment as to where this picture was taken. Before you say “humph”…LOOK at it. There are clues as to where this was taken. Here is your hint: it is INSIDE Indianapolis. You know me. You’ve read this blog. Enter as many times as you like. Correct guesses will be entered into a random drawing to win a drawstring holiday gift bag, handmade by me. Really, really specific guesses will be entered twice (if you know where this is, the “specific” word will make sense). The bag won’t be the exact replica of last year’s, but you can see an approximation of the bags here. Fill them up with goodies and give it away…you’ll be someone’s favorite gift giver this season.
Entries must be entered by Midnight, Sunday, November 17th, EST.
Thank you for joining my journey. I am so excited to share my work with the larger Indianapolis audience. Let’s welcome them in with a hug!
Tags: The Girls
Slowly, ever so slowly, I am moving through the house. Through the closets, through the rooms, under the beds. Boxing up, giving away, deciding what we can live without (for now, forever), and working towards that ever-elusive HGTV-feel home buyers have come to expect. I feel like quoting Margaret Wise Brown’s “Goodnight Moon” whenever I wrap something, and tuck it away. Goodnight figurines making this mantel look cluttered. Goodnight summer clothes we’ll unpack in a new home.
It finally came time to say goodnight to the yard last Friday. And it’s a good thing I got off my lazy arse and did it, because snow is coming in tonight. You have to love the Midwest; on Friday we were too warm in our sweatshirts while cleaning out the garden, and by morning, we’ll be walking on an inch of snow. Indiana has a surplus of corn, really nice people, car racing, and weather.
The girls were a huge help, sorting through their sand toys and deciding what had seen its last scoop. I think they pulled out 10 pounds of massively stubborn morning glories. And luckily they were busy playing when I knelt by my hydrangeas and had a good cry.
Stupid yard! Why hadn’t it ever learned: I hate yard work! We were never supposed to stay here so long. I never stay anywhere “for long”. Certainly not 9 rose bushes long. Definitely not 12 lavender bushes long. What was I thinking when I put in this vegetable garden? And made it bigger? And bigger? I should have had the foresight to know I would fall in love with the soil I enriched year after painstaking year. And who let these trees get so tall? I thought it was ridiculous to even plant trees in a “temporary” house.
As I wrapped the last rose bush in my tear-stained burlap, I couldn’t help but wonder if I’d be here to wake them up at winter’s end. And whatever will I do about my Grandmother’s Ivy? The painters arrive tomorrow, and by nightfall, the entire first floor will be different. They are colors I’ve long wanted, but I’m bittersweet about them now. They are my goodbye colors….goodnight colors.
Goodnight Yard. Goodnight Air. Goodnight Beautiful Things I Planted Everywhere…
Tags: The Girls