Choices

As I approach the dashboard of my blog to write this Monday morning, my heart is (honestly) a little heavy.  I know I can sit here and recount the conversations of the weekend and how we are all really no less safe than we were four days ago…but we may feel like we are.  I know I can ignore what I am feeling, as well, and get lost in some editing or fiction writing or a book or movie.  I also know that I can take my advice from Friday (which I posted before the news hit) and count my blessings.  I think I will choose the last.

(I would be dishonest to say that I didn’t hug my little ones a little tighter before they left my door this morning, though.)

I am so very blessed in my life.  Currently, I live in a more-than-ample house with a kitchen I adore using.  I have beautiful, insightful children who impart wisdom to me daily.  I have a handsome husband who loves me in spite of my multitude of flaws, shortcomings, and occasional sadness over situations I cannot control.  I was raised by good parents.  I have amazing friends and family members.  I can rock heels.  (And, last week, I even found brown boots…but that is another story!)

Somehow choosing to focus on the vast blessings before me helps my heart feel a little lighter.  I will try to choose happiness instead of feeding the negative feelings bouncing around my head of fear and uncertainty.  I will count a few more blessings along my path today…and among them will be you, my dear readers.  🙂

Thanks for listening…and reading.  I appreciate you more than you know.

gifts…and happy weekend wishes to you!

One morning recently, during our daily reading and study as a family, we talked to our children about recognizing and realizing the gifts they have been given.  Not the physical gifts, mind you…we were asking them to figure out what gifts they have been given naturally or that need to be recognized and developed to come to greater fruition to help them and others throughout this journey we call life.

Now that I’m blogging, I am reminded of a book entitled The Twelve Gifts of Birth, which my mother found when I was a teenager and read to me then.  I haven’t read it often to my children, but I would like for them to realize the concept.

I find that when I am looking to recognize my gifts that I also work to recognize the gifts in others…which produces positivity and happiness within me and love for those around me as I see them in a new light.  I see within them the potential for greatness.

What gifts have you been given?  And what are you doing to develop those gifts more fully?

I’ve given my children the assignment to ponder over the coming days with the goal to reconvene to discuss our findings…and my husband and I are working on the challenge with them.  Will you join us?  We can adopt each other as family for the week and think of what talents, gifts, and light we have been given…and seek inspiration on what we can do to magnify these gifts in our lives.  🙂  I’m interested to see what we discover about ourselves and others in the process!

Who Are You?

As I’ve been connecting through blogs and Twitter with many new and wonderous people lately (yes, I’m talking about YOU!), I’ve been reading several lines regarding what each person says “About” himself or herself…and I’ve been delighted to feel a little better acquainted with each of you!  Still, this experience of seeing what you write about yourselves (and pondering also what I have written about myself) has produced some thoughts upon which I would like to expound this lovely Thursday….

Who are you, really?  (And what are the first thoughts that come to mind when that question is posed?)  If you asked me that question, I might start by listing my roles in life (mother, daughter, sister, wife, friend, neighbor, etc.), or my interests (“I like to write, paint, cook, read to my kiddos…”), or I might even define myself by my appearance (“I am about six-feet-tall, caucasian, hazel-eyed and have long dark hair”)…but does that really answer the question?

Some of us define ourselves through our experiences (“I am a widower,” or “I am a cancer-survivor”), while some others of us use our religions (Catholic, Mormon, Muslim, Presbyterian, Baptist, Methodist, Hindu, Buddhist…) to describe ourselves.  At times, (like during this last US election), people present political party platforms (how’s that for alliteration?) as part of their identities (though I would propose that quite a few Americans do not believe in the entire platform of a single party).  Some define self through a list of achievements (“I’m a straight-A student” or “I’ve published seven best-sellers”), while others cite their origins of life (“I’m adopted” or “I was an accident”) as part of who they are.  Some people define themselves by their sexuality (“I’m gay, lesbian, straight, bisexual, hormonal, sex-addicted”).  Some use their careers as a definition of self (“I’m an engineer, radiologist, writer, nurse, cashier, toll-booth attendant, farmer, manager…”).  And let’s not forget the describing words regarding learning styles or brain capacity (such as I.Q., dyslexia, slow-learners, visual, auditory, kinesthetic).  Each of these labels come complete with social connotations and repercussions, but do any of they define who we really are?  I propose that they do not.

When my husband and I brought children into this world, I felt a desire to teach them to look at individuals in a holistic manner and not to piece them apart with labels.  All people in this world have varied experiences and belief systems, but–on the basis that we all share this planet together–I wanted to help my children respect the diversity of each person’s experience and not pre-judge an individual on the basis of skin color, religion, achievement, family situation, or any other label.

And don’t get me started on the use of labels to excuse behavior.  I know have been guilty of that in the past, but–in my current quest to live the best I can and live a life with no excuses–I am trying to do better.  I have heard people say, “Oh, that person is [or was] ____________; he’s [or she’s] just like that.”  When we accept a label to define our present circumstances, we often close the door on inviting ourselves or others to change for the better.

So, here’s a two-fold invitation I am willing to accept today (and I hope that we can be in this together):  first, examine the labels with which I define myself, and, second, examine the labels I use for others.  Am I projecting a negative or fear-filled belief from my past toward myself or this person?

For example, I have a wonderful, long-time friend who practices the religion of Islam.  She and I have discussed religion since we were in grade school, and I find her to be one of the most peace-loving people I know.  When the attacks on 9-11 (2001) came, several people spoke out against her religion while I defended it, knowing that true followers of Islam do not believe in violent behavior.  But, I know that people have given her upsetting looks since that time, simply because of the fear-filled belief surrounding that event over eleven years ago.  Are you hanging on to something like that which holds you back from being a better version of who you are?  I’m ready for some self-reflection–and I’m ready for this post to be over now!  🙂

As always, I invite you to share your thoughts here in the comments or here on my Facebook page.  Hugs!!!

NaNoWriMo

Have you heard of NaNoWriMo? Well, it is upon us!!! November 1st through 30th…! Will you be participating?

I’ve always been enamoured of the concept…a book in a month…but I try not to force too much creativity…I’m more of a free-spirit/let-the-creative-flow-happen-for-itself kinda gal. I still have a few hours left to decide if I’m in or not. 🙂

But I’m afraid my kiddos and house and marriage might all suffer from the neglect. Maybe next year, when the preschooler isn’t a preschooler anymore….

What do you think? Should I throw caution to the wind (along with fear of not accomplishing, fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of laundry piles higher than my twelve-foot ceilings…among other things)?

Upon Waking

In my dream two nights ago, I was preparing for a severe storm.  Apparently, we lived in a ginormous house, and I was on the telephone and iPad (coordinating with people who may need to come visit and stay in the basement of said ginormous house) when I received a phone call from my sister. We chatted while I worked; then, suddenly, alarm filled her voice as she said, “Your little guy is choking!” (He was staying with her for some reason, I’m guessing.) We got off the phone, and I continued my preparations for the storm. I was trying to get a weather report on the iPad (but was having connection trouble) when my phone rang again.  My sister’s voice on the other end simply said, “He’s dead.”

In that moment, (trying to assure her…or maybe even myself…?) I said, “It’s okay. I just spent the most wonderful day with him yesterday.” My mind flashed back to moments of cuddles and stories and laughter and happiness of the prior day, and I truly did feel relief that, were he dead, he died knowing his mother loved him and had done all she knew to care for him.

Upon waking, of course a bit of alarm set in, and I removed my covers as my feet carried me, almost without thinking, to his room. I reached for the spot on his back where his Batman pajama shirt had lifted and exposed a tiny stripe of skin above his waistline. I touched it and waited for my hand to rise and fall with his breath. As my hand moved up and down in time with his diaphragm’s expansion and contraction, I took a breath myself for the first time in several moments.

I proceeded to find all of my little people, alive and well, breathing the slow, heavy breath of sleep, of dreams. I fell to my knees in the last one’s room to offer up thanks for sparing their lives each day so that I can have the privilege of more sweet moments with them.

My feet then returned me toward my bedroom. As I walked through the kitchen, the microwave clock read a scarlet 2:38. Lifting my covers, I returned to bed but not to sleep. I lay pondering the day, wondering that if–or when–that phone call ever came to me, would I be able to respond with the same feeling of relief embodied in my dream–that our last moments together were blissful, peaceful, loving, happy? Would my children leave this frail existence knowing that their mother loved them? I was determined to work on sharing the love of my heart with them more readily and worry less about the little irritations and fatigue that so easily beset me. I was determined to complain less and love more, to fuss less and laugh more, to worry less and sing more.

Will you join me?

🙂

Livin’ the Dream

Several weeks ago, I had occasion to speak to a gentleman with whom I was not well acquainted.  He kindly inquired about the activities of my days, and I responded with the usual, “Well, I am home with our preschooler…we bake cookies and build trains and read stories….”  My voice tapered off as I wondered in a way what my days contained, searching for some type of meaning in the repetition.  My mind raced to pull out from somewhere, “Well, I write, when I have time,” or “I’m thinking about going back to school,” but nothing rendered satisfactory.

In the instant of my deflating thoughts, he looked into my eyes and said, “Well, you’re living the dream, aren’t you?”

I stared incredulously back toward him, startled, and thought, Whose dream am I living?

I thought back to college and dreams of being a writer or a professor of English lit or comp or even creative writing…I thought of high school, when I wanted to move far, far away (Paris, maybe? or at least Provo) and study interior design or something artistic…I thought back to junior high, when I had dreams of being a dermatologist…I thought back to grade school, and I couldn’t even remember what I wanted to be then.  But the dream that was consistent throughout those other dreams which have come and gone over the years was the dream of being married and having children.

Throughout the next several days, kneeling over train tracks and stirring flour, eggs and vanilla into sugar and butter, his words continued to echo in my ears.  As I’ve meandered through memories of holding hair back for my daughter who was throwing up, or my husband pulling back my own hair through morning sickness, I’ve wandered through laughter and leaf fights, through rolling down hills and rolling through years; I’ve walked paths of sorrow and paths of joy…days when I couldn’t walk another step and someone lifted my burden.  I know life hasn’t been picture-perfect (no one’s is), but it has been mine.  And as I strolled on through more memories than I can share, I felt his words, “You’re living the dream.”

My husband reached over for my hand this morning, and my little one climbed onto my lap for a cuddle.  “You’re beautiful,” his tiny voice and big eyes said to me as he rested against my thin frame.  In that moment, I knew the answer to my question.

Whose dream am I living…?

Mine.

(Image Copyright Sarah Knight Photography)

Sometimes…

Sometimes I find myself mourning for the loss of one of my former selves…like I miss that girl in college, wet behind the ears, caring with an eagerness unknown to deliver what professors wanted (perfectly edited writing, organized statistics assignments, practiced music for piano and voice…what time is my jury?) along with what other students needed (support, acceptance, “When’s our Shakespeare paper due again?“).  Sometimes I miss her.

Other days, though, I find myself mourning that young mother, with three little ones.  You know the one I’m talking about…before the twins came?  That woman who woke with tired vigor after night nursing and read myriad picture books and rolled the enormous red ball with the toddlers,…the one who cradled that new little baby #3.  She was such a conscientious mother, seeking to still help others with so much on her plate already.

And still, I find myself wishing I could recapture that vigor of running home after school, slinging books on the table, grabbing whatever was left in the Cheez Doodle bag and then dashing out the door again to play football with friends down the street, the “younger” guy that I liked in 9th grade among them.  Where is she now?

Then sometimes I listen to Matchbox Twenty (they are on my playlist now), and I think about how far I’ve come…wondering if all the deaths of former selves are worth mourning over after all….  They have changed and created something more:  wisdom, experience, love.  I used to think I was most beautiful as a twenty-something bride, dressed in a long, white gown and my husband equally groomed in his tux (no pun intended), but that’s not who I am anymore, either.

I’m hoping this aging thing that’s happening to me looks a little more like beauty than society would think.

Well, I can smell the cake in the oven.  Must be about ready.  I’ll have to leave the mourning for another day.  The preschooler has been asking for an Iron Man cake since he woke me up at 5:17 this morning, so I’m off to mixing butter, powdered sugar, milk, vanilla, and food dye (& probably a little bit of shortening if I can rationalize it) into red and gold frosting.

Till next time,

The Me I Am Today 🙂

Image Copyright Sarah Knight Photography