April 10, 2014

Daily Bread

 "The best things are nearest: breath in your nostrils, light in your eyes, flowers at your feet, duties at your hand, the path of God just before you. Then do not grasp at the stars, but do life's plain common work as it comes, certain that daily duties and daily bread are the sweetest things of life." 

The laundry is tumbling in the dryer- his just-washed uniform, her little pink nightgown with the teddy bear print, and baby pajamas that still have breakfast stains down the front. The scent of cooling cherry bars on the stovetop circles around our apartment, mingling with the chilly breeze blowing through the screen door. The little ones are asleep. He is at drill.

And about five hundred times in the moments between waking and closing my eyes again, I look around at this house. At the Legos covering every inch of our living room floor. At the dishes I need to wash by hand. At the grocery list that needs to be written, and the beds that need to be made, too. At the bits of cereal still stuck to his tiny cheek, or the hair clip that threatens to fall from her hair. So much to do every day. All of it undone.

Five hundred times, I look at it all, and want to forget about it for a little while. Five hundred sighs.
And five hundred times more, I whisper a 'thank you' underneath my breath, raising my hands in thankfulness that these tasks were meant for me.

March 31, 2014

The Silence Between

"The music is not in the notes,
but in the silence between." 
— Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Open Blogger. Watch the line blink at me. Type out of order notes on posts I'll get to later. Close Blogger.

This is all I've accomplished with blogging for two weeks now. It's an eternity in blog land (because heaven forbid we mess up virtual stats in some far away virtual world). Some readers probably wondered if I was still alive. Or if I was about to write the ominous post that announced I was quitting blogging forever.

I have things I want to say. But lately, I don't have the words to say them. There are stories in my heart that I want to tell you, and yet, I can't seem to gather them together and put them on this page. And to be truthful, I have been thinking a lot about giving blogging up for good. Some people- many people- blog long after the words have run dry, and I don't want to be that girl.

But I know myself this much: that I will need a moment to be still. To live life without any thought of blogging it later. To step back and choose my words intentionally and deliberately. To savor the way that they taste in my mouth, the way they feel in my hand, the way they appear in tiny black lines and curves. Give me this time- this night, or these few days, or another week.

And then, I will need to write again. Because to announce that I will not write is to announce that I will not breathe anymore. I started with pink journals, the kind with the tiny locks on them to hold in all the secrets, when I was nine years old. I wrote in them for years, and then began writing poetry. And I've blogged before it was ever socially acceptable to admit that I had a blog. Writing is a compulsion, not a hobby.

Until then, as Will Rogers said- "Never miss a good chance to shut up."

March 17, 2014

Come Soon

Soil, ready for tiny seedlings and sprouts, for tall green stocks and fluttering leaves.
Skies, hopeful for clouds to fill with rain and then to shatter, for rays of sun that gingerly reach for the ground.
Me, longing to be enveloped in the buzz of brand new. Ready to be surrounded in warmth and blue robin eggs tucked away in nests, fitted in high branches of a flowering tree.

Come soon, spring. Come soon.

March 15, 2014

A Visit

"Mama's love had always been the kind that acted itself out with soup pot and sewing basket. " 

 My mama was here this week, visiting from Oregon. She read a million stories, morning, noon, and night.

She read them to fairies or princesses, and little boys with chubby hands.

She rocked and soothed, hugged and snuggled.

She baked a cake and cooked homemade spaghetti sauce, as only she can.

She gave more than one tea party, with tiny china cups and important conversations.

And she brushed teeth, said prayers, and tucked in for the night.

My life as a mother matters so greatly.
I know this without a doubt,
because this lady who gave me my name matters so greatly to me.

And I know it all the more because of how much I am missing her tonight.

March 1, 2014

Pink Carnations

"Be of good cheer. 
Do not think of today's failures, but of the success that may come tomorrow. 
You have set yourselves a difficult task, but you will succeed if you persevere; 
and you will find a joy in overcoming obstacles. 
Remember, no effort that we make to attain something beautiful is ever lost." 

On Thursday, I bought pink carnations.

As Millie and I passed the display of four dollar bouquets at the grocery store, I suddenly found myself reaching towards the rows of flowers. Normally, I would feel guilty spending money on something unnecessary, but on a Thursday morning before a snowstorm, they felt necessary. I pulled out two choices- creamy, white daisies with bright yellow centers, or the carnations, and Millie's heart was set on pink. She carried them carefully in her small hands. We found a blue Mason jar for the kitchen table, and a tiny vase for her room, and filled them both with the bright buds. I explained to Millie that it would take a few days for some of them to open. Then, I leaned back against the wall, feeling like I had accomplished something just by snipping the green stems and dipping them into the water.

I am trying to consciously, intentionally make an effort to be more focused on joy. Both giving it and receiving it. Creating it and resting in it. I want to make good things a priority. I want to celebrate beauty and minimize the negative.

Until recently, joy has always felt frivolous to me. I can't quite pinpoint why, to tell you the truth. But it's been a long winter. I've found myself wanting color, pining for good things. Green, growing things. Newness and life and hope, instead of snow covered and forgotten. I want to place more value on the condition of my heart and the well being of my spirit. I want to make the place I'm in a better one, for myself and for those who are a part of my life, even in small ways. It should matter. It does matter.

And I bought pink carnations.

And life was beautiful.

And this was supposed to be the end of the blog post. Neat and tidy, wrapped up and simple.

But then, I lost my temper with Millie. More than once and over things I didn't know how to fix. Walter was clingy, which is normally quite nice, but not convenient when I'm also battling a three year old. I dropped things. I hadn't been able to reach Sky when I had hoped. I didn't feel like cooking, and after I did, Millie had a wild melt down in the middle of her grilled cheese sandwich, even though it's her favorite.

I looked at the flowers as if they were to blame, frustrated thoughts running through my mind. "I don't even know why I bother. Flowers are stupid. This day is stupid. And it's a good thing I'm only thinking this stuff, because Millie would grab a hold of the word 'stupid' and I'd never hear an end to it and that's the last thing I need right now." I was reduced to blaming flowers. Blaming everything.

Beauty doesn't happen overnight. The blossoms happened on my table as soon as I gathered them into that glass, but before that, they were grown. And it happened over time.

I can't turn on a switch and make my life a dreamy, sunlit landscape with no problems. But I can buy a bouquet of pink carnations. I can pause before I speak. I can find joy in small things. I can mail a surprise to a friend. I can write when I need to and be silent when I don't. I can light a candle in the evening and use a favorite mug in the morning. I can make spaghetti for dinner and use extra Parmesan. I can take a breath after I stop two babies from crying and be thankful, even then, that they are healthy and they are (usually) sweet and they are mine.

That is beauty. That is joy. A process. A quest. Carnations bloom slowly, and so do most good things. The time, in fact, is part of what makes it so beautiful. That it took a while. That it wasn't a snap of the fingers. That it required many things, and patience most of all.

Flowers are never necessary. Except maybe they are. Especially pink carnations. So I will take the joy they give, and the joy I will work to create, and slowly, daily, it will grow.