This year, Christmas came and went like a pit-stop for gas on a road trip. Multiple times, I tried to fall into the spirit of things, but it felt as though my mind would retract each time I attempted to hone in on the season. I was antsy and busy thinking of obligations and future meetings that must be had, worrying that my Etsy orders would make it in time for Christmas, and anticipating all that would resume again come Monday, while presenting Christmas to my family the best way I knew how, with cookie plates, Christmas Eve traditions, family time, and well, let's be honest, too many presents. Too many, that it left me feeling like I had totally botched my attempt at balancing Santa and the true meaning of Christmas. It was such a botch that I wonder if Santa will be landing his sleigh on our roof next year, or if he'll be accepting Christmas lists at all. It sounds so dreadful, I know.
Truth be told, I've been feeling a bit blue since, and my mind is still reeling like a movie on repeat. I can't quite pin-point the offness that resides within, or how it managed to nestle itself in for more than a night's stay. Sometimes during the day, like late yesterday afternoon on the way home from the grocery store, the glisten of lights on the houses reminded me of the season and the magic it usually brings. When I returned home, I made it a point to turn the lights back on for these final days of the season and the year, and it helped.
Luckily, with this offness, I haven't felt hopeless, nor has it been pouring over the rest of the family. Over the last few days, I've been struck with creative ideas that excite me plenty, and there is still promise in my work. I've been attempting to write through it, to put words to the feelings so as to pull them back and place them in their blue box, for a different rainy day, but it hasn't yet been completely sorted. It's as though my heart is still trying to recover the inspiration, the happiness, the struggle and the mystery of it all to be able to place it in the appropriate box--because it is all there, and is worth every ounce of feeling.
Maybe I'm learning more than I realize, because as much as I try and divert from such times, I cling to them the same--expecting a rhyme or reason, the opportunity for growth, and ultimately a stronger moving forward. Perfect segue into 2011, no? Maybe it is because I am a planner, or that I'm a creative spirit struggling in a type-A body, that my heart resists the initial thought of such a transitional occurrence. But when it must, it happens to me, and I sit there waiting for it to pass, for the transition to occur, and to find myself on the other side. The hopeful thing about transition is that in hindsight, it usually always makes sense.
Today, I welcome the blues, the agitation that is stirring in my heart and ultimately the transition with open arms. Doing so, has never hindered me before.
So you must not be frightened if a sadness rises up before you larger than any you have ever known, if a restiveness, like light and cloud shadow passes over your hands and over all that you do. You must think that something is happening with you, that life has not forgotten you, that it holds you in its hand; it will not let you fall.
Rainer Maria Rilke (1875 - 1926)
NOTE TO SELF: Now would be a good time to re-read "Letters to a Young Poet."
Last year, our children were too young to care, notice or expect anything from Santa.
It was a good thing, since Husband and I still needed to get our barrings on the whole Santa thing.
Husband doesn't recall much of any Santa while a youngster, and says his family focused on the religious aspect of the holiday. I, on the other hand, wrote lists, prayed lists, made cookies, listened for reindeer, stayed awake, snuck downstairs, and believed in Santa until somewhere near the forth or fifth grade. We, too, focused on the religious aspect of the holiday, but Santa was very much the man of the holiday. My heart ached a bit, realizing that Husband might not want to do any Santa with our kids, since I very much believed all those years, but as an adult, I want to pay credit where credit is due, and make sure the religious meaning is forefront amidst the rest.
Well, we didn't have to make any executive decisions on the Santa issue, because come November, Brooklynn proved she was very much aware of the holiday approaching, and talk of Santa became regular conversation.
First, she brought me a color sheet with a picture of Santa's cookie plate and milk, and explained "this is what we need to do this year."
Then there was talk of presents. Lots and lots of presents, so I decided she had to write her official list, and Asher, too.
Brooklynn 4 1/2
Asher 2 1/2
As if we weren't already bound to Santa by the lists,
Brooklynn brought this home from school:
Did you know there was reindeer food?! Husband and I didn't, either!
Along with the sending of the lists and making cookies for Santa,
we will also be feeding the reindeer this year!
And we are having such a fun time.
Here's to the real meaning of Christmas and a little fun, too!
A year and a half ago, Husband and I splurged on a lovely bed quilt from Anthropologie. Because the quilt itself was a splurge, we didn't buy the rest of the set, and made do with the euro shams that I already had from another quilt set that matched pretty darn good.
But when the heavens open, and you find the rest of your bedding set half-off at Anthro a year and a half later, there is no question in the matter.
Now, may I present to you the Alhambra bedding set in its entirety...
and 50% of what will be wrapped under my tree...
"Spend 1001 nights warmed by fiery medallions amidst lush foliage. Decorative stitching accents and patchwork-striped shams are trimmed with tall tales and perfect patterns."
Some things are worth waiting for,
in the name of a good deal--
especially when it is this lovely.
Merry Christmas to me!
P.S. A handful of the beautiful clothbound penguin classics are on sale!
In years past, I felt my tree was missing a layer. It's needed more love, more texture, and a better garland. I just knew when I saw this idea in Do it Yourself magazine, that I had found my Christmas tree's perfect match. Unfortunately, the magazine vanished and has not been seen in weeks. Very depressing. However, I did find this sweet little blog's diy circle garland post, and found the circle template to be very helpful.
I used two sheets of each five colors of felt. If you make a garland, put on a movie, and/or break it into a couple of days, because it does take some time. What is great, is that I was able to create 20 yards of felt Christmas tree garland for four dollars. You can't beat it, and the intrinsic value of a craft complete and looking pretty, makes me smile.
This morning, while reading my favorite blogs, Husband burst through the door with a huge noble. He was supposedly on his way to the beach to help his dad, but he decided to surprise us with a tree before his departure. You've never seen a tree come barreling through door, thrown to the floor, shortened and up in a tree stand as fast has Husband can do it. He can totally get 'er done, and make a wife happy!
And we're so thankful we don't have to wait till next week to make it merry around here!
I've always found him especially attractive with a tool in hand.
Two and a half weeks ago, I returned home from Seattle, where I took part in four days of Olweus Bully Prevention Program training. In all, I was away for five days, and they were the longest, mentally draining, at times emotionally exhausting days I have experienced since before having children.
While on my train ride to the north, thoughts of what ifs began to unearth from the deepest pits in my mind. Will they ask why I was there, and if so, could I answer effectively without any quiver in my voice? Had I healed enough, and was I ready to teach on this issue that for so many years bound my heart in rivets of lies, and caused me turmoil so great that I was unsure if the depression would ever allow me to be normal again? I wondered if I was qualified to sit in a room with teachers, principals, administrators, even authors and those who follow their names with M. Ed. , Ed. D? Would the emotions heave onto my heart and make speaking unbearable, or would I want to leave all together like I did in college while the other soon-to-be teachers talked frivolously and ignorantly about teens and rights of passage?
Suddenly, I was questioning if my own experience had any merit, if my heart for the kids who deal with such issues matter enough, or if my personal experience is enough to get my foot in the door, and in front of the teachers who may or may not think their school has a problem, or in front of the teachers who really don't get paid enough to act as social workers on top of their long list of other teacherly duties, but who feel it their ethical obligation to know how to intervene when they witness or hear of peer abuse among students.
When I realized what was happening, I consciously pulled myself from the negative self-talk of pre-destined failure and inadequacy, and looked north. I set all the had-beens aside and moved my mind from the realm that I've lived, and away from the feelings that still manage to creep in like the coldest gusts of air that move in from some distant door left ajar, to keep moving; to press on in these moments of not enough answers, and embrace them, and accept them as part of reaching my destination.
God knew I needed some reinforcement, and offered clarity in the softest voice. We had just been shuffled around into new tables of five and were to begin the next exercise. After a few quiet moments of reflection, we were to share any experiences of bullying or being bullied in school, and what it felt like when we were at that age...The table leader shared her most vivid memory and then asked me if anything had come to my mind? For a moment, I floundered. I have stories falling out of my back pockets, the question was really, which one to choose? I grappled for a moment, finally choosing one that would suffice. You'd think I'd be okay with making an example out of myself, especially at a bully prevention training, since I do quite a bit of writing on the subject, but divulging such experiences to strangers, on the spot nonetheless, was quite uncomfortable.
After a short break, the woman who had been sitting next to me returned to the table and said, "I think that was really brave of you to share your experience." I was surprised and caught of guard to be called brave, and thanked her. Then she told me that her son had committed suicide four years before as the result of having been bullied. I was stunned. Her words pierced my ears and heart in an instant, yet she told her truth with such blatant honesty in the softest voice. She continued to talk, and I attempted to add in where I could, to be polite, but really, I felt as though I'd slammed into a wall. You don't know how much you don't know, until someone unexpectedly hands you unfathomable pain, in one sentence. We exchanged a few more words, briefly explaining each our passion on the subject of bully prevention before the session began again.
I was still stunned. After a few more minutes, the reality of the heartache and the loss and the passion that sat next to me, caused my heart to wrench. I wanted to release the emotions that had filled my chest in an ongoing sob. I wanted to make a quick exit and return another time, when the emotions and the reality were detached from the program and the workbooks, but I couldn't. So I gathered myself up with thoughts of her strength.
Meeting Ann, was a blessing, and an undeniable connection was made. Her story and her strength encourage me in my journey and in my passion for bully prevention because it is kids like her Jeremiah that no longer have their voice to stand against bullying, but who deserve to be stood for. It is these kids and those who are currently dealing with peer abuse who make it easier to pray for more courage, confidence, persistence and tirelessness to do this work, to prevent others from having to deal with peer abuse, and make something of the memories that would otherwise remain the colorless time in my life.
It was the perfect holiday weekend to celebrate the season of Thanksgiving and what was fall. It was a pleasant and full day filled with family, a feast, blueberry pie and pumpkin cheesecake, and just as my heart desired, were the dusting of snow across the lawn.
Upon returning home from my in-law's country home, nestled in the trees, Husband and I slipped into bed to watch Eat Pray Love. I'd been wanting to put film to memory since I read the book, but just as many say when comparing books to movies, the book was far more enjoyable. However, Julia still makes me smile on the inside when she grins. This must be the reason that I have a small collection of Julia Roberts movies in VHS in a box somewhere. And while I am on the subject, can I just say how awesome it is to watch her in her element, post babies? It makes a mother feel good, and is quite empowering.
Other than this and a couple of afternoons in my pj's fighting off a cold, while Husband was off helping his Dad harvest his elk meat, the weekend was relatively relaxed. So relaxed, that when today fell upon us, I secretly hoped that I could be on holiday until January!
What was the best part of your holiday weekend? I hope it was enjoyable!
If you've been chosen as a recipient for the friendship relay,
I'd love for you to answer these questions for yourself!
I look forward to reading your responses!
1. What did you first want to be when you grew up?
I was born to sing. I wanted to be a pop star, and I sang everywhere. I even sang while rollerblading around my garage. My parents often had me sing for the guests in the house. I would mic up and belt her out. The memories are slightly embarrassing. I sang in choir all throughout grade school, took voice lessons for four years, sang in various competitive choral groups and a jazz ensemble, and was awarded an alternate position for the Washington State Soprano competition. Unfortunately, I let that passion fade over the years. Mainly, I assume, because of the tremendous insecurity issues that I let get the better of me when I was a teen. It is hard to reckon this ridiculousness.
But today, I am reclaiming that gift. I am self-teaching the guitar and enjoy very much singing loudly in the car. God gave me a voice for singing.
2. Favorite childhood game?
Barbies! I spent many many hours of my younger years playing Barbies.
My friend, Tricia and I owned enough Barbie items to cover my entire pool table. We even extended our surface with a 48x48 inch chalkboard that we'd use as a parking lot and area for shopping. On at least one occasion we took our imaginations to the backyard and played jungle Barbies in the grass. I'm not sure if we even took breaks to eat throughout the day!
3. Most favorite birthday?
The details of my life before my children, are hard to remember. I very much enjoy spending my birthdays today, worry-free, with my family, wearing a cute frock, and indulging in a divine dessert. I am easy to please.
4. Something you've always wanted to do and haven't done yet?
Take a creating course from Sabrina Ward Harrison and/or Christine Mason Miller.
I also have a strong desire to visit Ireland. The desire is so deep, that I have a hard time not feeling as if there is something wonderful that will meet me there~an epiphany of sorts? Do you ever have such feelings that you can't explain?
Another Martina song that I find applicable, is Anyway.
The theme song for my marriage is something along the lines of Trace Adkins, Ladies Love Country Boys. A friend mentioned how appropriate this was for me and Husband, and I had to smile when I heard it.
9. Favorite city to visit?
Portland! How blessed I am to have such a fantastic city just a hop, skip and a jump away.
“You must write every single day of your life... You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads... may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world.” ― Ray Bradbury