How about a random update?
This week is a busy one. Loads of homework, playing chauffeur to school and practices, getting my car fixed that decided to go on the fritz, disassembling my old bed, getting a new one set up, coordinating pickups for the things I’ve sold on Craigslist, baking for Little Man’s school Thanksgiving Feast, volunteering at said Feast, writing a research paper, all the while cleaning and prepping my house, packing, and getting ready to leave on a road trip. Oh, and let’s not forget errands, housework, and trying to get a few runs in there.
But even though my days are busy, they are a good busy. An oh-so-blessed busy. I’ve been taking some steps the past month or so to lighten my load, to simplify my life and remove some things that were weighing me down and putting pressure on my mind and heart. This, along with some other shifts in focus, has made me feel freer and more peaceful than I have in a long time. I’m feeling, dare I say, content these days. I don’t have everything figured out; hell, I barely have anything figured out. And for once, that is okay. I’m happy just to be.
This weekend Little Man and I had a special adventure: I took him to his first grown-up concert! The JoyFM is a local(ish) contemporary Christian radio station that has been such a blessing in the past few years. When we aren’t listening to what Little Man calls “Mommy’s songs” or “the kids songs” on the iPhone, we are listening to The JoyFM. Little Man knows all the words and we have some serious singalong jam sessions in the car pretty much daily. :) One of his favorite artists is TobyMac, who sings Little Man’s favorite song ever. So when we heard that his Hits Deep tour was coming nearby, I knew we had to go! The concert was Sunday night and I made a little adventure out of it, staying over in a hotel after (even though we were only an hour or so from home) and playing hooky from school yesterday. Little Man had a BLAST!
The lineup was great: Capital Kings (I definitely have to get more by these newcomers, loved them!), Chris August (He voice is even better live and he is so funny), Colton Dixon (Yes the guy from American Idol, he had great energy), Jamie Grace (She is so down-to-earth and has such talent for 21!), Brandon Heath (He is so amazing live and felt very genuine), Mandisa (Holy wow this woman has some spirit and what.a.voice. No words!), and of course TobyMac. I love what TobyMac did with this tour; he really brought everyone together, with each artist introducing the next and all of them coming on stage at random times to perform some amazing unexpected duets. TobyMac himself is so genuine and has an awesome heart for God with the right attitude about it. I loved him back in his DC Talk days and I just love what he has done with his new direction. There was so much spirit and fun in this concert. And oh man, his Diverse City Band is insane (in a good way).
dreaming of his future on stage
the end of a great night
Even though the concert didn’t get out until nearly 11pm (4 hours past his bedtime), the kiddo was up and dancing the entire time! He told me the next day that he was wishing that TobyMac would see him so he could go on stage too, haha. He had a little fan club in the seats around us, with some of the adults cheering him on. My cheeks hurt from smiling at how he was getting into it, and several people stopped us on the way out to say how much his enthusiasm touched them. I tried to get some of his ‘moves’ on camera:
After crashing late that night, we made a fun day out of our extended weekend the next day. We savored a sugar-laden breakfast, took a trip to the Museum of Science and History, went to the mall for lunch and a stop at the bookstore (and bonus!photobooth fun), and then finished up the afternoon at the movies and Starbucks. It was pretty much awesome, as evidenced by the Little Man’s prompt passing out in his carseat on the way home.
This mini-adventure blessed my heart so much. Having some quality time with my kiddo, letting go and living in the moment, smiling and singing my heart out and acting silly: all of it just added fuel to the ‘happy fire’ that has been growing in my heart, and I am carrying that into my busy week. I am so blessed to have this life, the trick is to have the perspective and ability to see it for what it is. We all struggle, we all have rough patches and pain and sadness and experiences that wreck us. But we also all have something beautiful: this day and a God who loves us. And really, that is all we need.
You know you’re a mom when…
- You find yourself humming the theme songs from Nick Jr. shows while cleaning or showering.
- Baby wipes, toy cars, bandaids, and crumbs have slowly taken over your purse.
- Your hugs can solve any problem.
- “Slow down!”, “Because I said so!”, or “NOW.” come out of your mouth at least once a day.
- A peaceful, sleeping child has brought tears to your eyes.
- You look forward to alone time but then have no clue what to do when you get it.
- Sleeping in means 7 AM.
- You have zero privacy during any activity that occurs in the bathroom.
- ‘Treats’ are a food group.
- You know the excruciating pain of stepping on a Lego or Hot Wheels in the dark.
- A shy smile and wave across the park makes your heart swell.
- You talk about yourself in the third person (‘Mommy said..’).
- Flying to the moon, being chased by a dinosaur, and fighting an evil villain are just part of a normal Tuesday.
- You beam with pride over crayon drawings and words only you can read.
- A blankie-carrying PJ-clad kiddo ends up in your bed at least once a week.
- You’ve used the words “potty”, “boo boo”, or “num nums” to adults.
- Your head snaps up the second you hear a cry of “Mommy!” anywhere.
- You run toward sudden appearances of bodily fluids instead of away from them.
- Holidays are magical again.
- Silence is simultaneously glorious and terrifying.
- You’ve heard your mother’s voice come out of your mouth more than once…
- …and you finally understand she was right.
- More than once a day, you think you are doing it all wrong.
- More than once a day, you’re overwhelmed by how much you could love such a tiny creature.
- You are exhausted, unsure, happy, overjoyed, hopeful, impatient, frustrated, and in love; and you wouldn’t change it for the world.
This post is a response to the weekly Writer’s Workshop over at Mama’s Losin’ It!. Learn more about the ‘pretty much famous’ weekly prompts here. This week I chose: ‘You know you’re a mom when…’
P.S. Have you asked your question yet?? Please do!
Yesterday was November 1, and with that came the start of National Novel Writing Month! National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo, or just NaNo to participants) is ‘a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing. On November 1, participants begin working towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 p.m. on November 30.’ You can’t start before Nov 1, and you can’t edit as you write. It’s very fast-paced, an exciting way to either pound out that novel you’ve always wanted to write or get your creativity flowing stream-of-conciousness style.
I participated in NaNo for the first time in 2007, while we were living in Okinawa. My sister introduced me to it and I loved the idea of a creative challenge. The Hubs picked on me about ‘my novel’ all month; you have no idea how many times I heard various bits from this that November:
But by the end of the month, he (and our friends) were cheering me on and on the last night of November, I surpassed the 50k word goal and won. It was a wonderful feeling of accomplishment, even though I didn’t actually finish the story (an awfully awesome Lifetime-movie-esque love story named ‘Almost November’). I’ve actually never gone back to look at that story until today while writing this blog post, and now I see so many aspects of my life at the time infused in it. Maybe one day I’ll refine and finish. Here’s a little excerpt of that novel:
“Do you see it?” Dave grabbed Bella’s finger and used it to point at the sky. “That cluster of three stars right there.”
“Ohhh, those! Yeah, I see it!”
“That’s Orion’s belt. If you look on either side, see those little stars? Those are his arms, the ones below them are his feet. See him now?”
“Yeah!” Bella laughed with excitement, stretching her arms over her head.
Dave rolled over onto his side and looked at her.
“Hasn’t anyone shown you a constellation before?”
“Nope.” Bella turned and propped her head up on one arm. She picked a blade of grass from the ground beneath them and poked the tip of Dave’s nose with it. “I’m from the city, remember. I was lucky if I saw any stars at all.”
Bella rolled back over onto her back and stretched out on the grass. She gazed up at the stars above where she and Dave lay in the park. The bustling sounds of the village hummed softly in the background and the crickets chirped songs from the lush green surrounding the park. A soft breeze gently blew over them, fluttering a lock of her hair across Dave’s eyes. Bella turned her head toward him and smiled as he picked it up gingerly and played with it.
“Dave,” she said quietly.
“Do you believe in fate?”
Dave brushed her hair across his cheek, like an artist with a paintbrush.
“Yes and no.”
“What do you mean?” Bella asked, staring at the sky.
“I think you decide your own fate. I think there are some things that you can’t control, that life just throws at you. But you have to decide what to do with them. You can control your own direction, you just have to handle what life gives you your way, ya know what I mean?”
Bella scrunched her brow thoughtfully.
Dave released the lock of hair as she turned onto her side again and faced him.
“Sometimes I wonder if I am strong enough to steer things my own way.”
He touched her cheek softly, brushing her skin with his knuckles.
“You have a silent strength that I don’t think you have recognized yet, my Bell. That is one of the things I love about you.”
Bella caught his gaze and stared at him intently, trying to tell him with her eyes everything she couldn’t say.
“And the fact that you see that is one of the things I love about you, Dave.”
Every November since I wrote that story, I have thought about participating again (I even came really close back in 2011) but something has always stopped me. This year, it is finally perfect timing. After feeling creatively blocked and overwhelmed by other things in life, having an open-ended creative challenge like this will give me something to accomplish without too much pressure. And the process may be helpful for me in other ways, since I am writing about a widow. Here is the brief synopsis of the novel (the only plan I have, since I am totally pantsing this), tentatively titled ‘Wanderlust’:
Life as Eloise Barrett knew it died six months ago. After the tragic loss of her husband, Eloise feels trapped in a life she doesn’t understand anymore. So she takes to the road, clothing and memories stuffed into the back of an impulsively-bought Airstream, desperate to discover herself and her new life somewhere along the way.
This is NOT going to be a fictionalized version of my own personal memoir, at all. But I do intend to draw inspiration from my own feelings a widow to fuel the perspective of my main character. I think the process of writing her adventures will help me explore some of my own grief in a rear-view-mirror kind of way. It should be interesting to see what comes of it. And perhaps as I see where her dreams and plans take her as the story develops, I will discover some of my own. I have no expectations for a finished novel at the end of the month, nor do I plan to do anything with the writing when I am done. But who knows, maybe it will turn out to be a gem.
Have you ever heard of NaNo? Are you participating this year? If so, be my writing buddy! I love swapping encouragement. I’ll be posting small excerpts and word counts throughout the month here on the blog too. Here’s to a month of creativity!
Have you ever been curious about loss or life as a widow? Is there anything you’d like to know about the girl behind the blog? Now you can ask anonymously in my first Q&A session.
These are always so fun to participate in on other blogs, so I figured it was time to bring the fun to WSW! Use the poll below to ask me anything — serious questions about love and loss, silly questions about favorites and pet peeves, completely random questions — really anything goes! The survey allows anonymous submissions, so rest assured I will not know who is sending the questions (and neither will anyone else when the answers are posted).
The survey will only be open for a while before I begin compiling answers so if you have a burning question, ask away! :)
(P.S. Remember my sweet friend Brenda’s project? If you haven’t checked out her Kickstarter yet, please do me (and her!) a favor and do so. There are less than 48 hours left in her project and she still needs to raise $513. With Kickstarter, if your full goal isn’t reached you don’t receive ANY of the pledged funds. She’s so close! Please go help and receive some sweet rewards.)
(P.S. Again — She is fully funded! :) )
“Slow down and everything you are chasing will come around and catch you.”
-John De Paola
I’ve been struggling recently. I’m the queen of avoidance, procrastination, and hiding things with a smile, so you probably didn’t know this. Heck, even I didn’t until it smacked me in the face.
As I’ve mentioned before, I tend to keep things inside and shove them away. It’s how I cope, just lock it in a box and go on about my business because either I don’t want to face it, don’t want to bother other people with it, or don’t want to look weak. But that isn’t exactly the healthiest or most productive way of coping.
I’m better about this now than I’ve been in the past, but I still need to try harder to reach out to my friends and family more often when I need help. I also need to get better about not over-committing myself. This is one of my biggest issues; I like to help people, I want to make a difference, I like to be involved in things. So I say yes, dip my toes in a ton of projects, throw myself into multiple areas at once, and suddenly I’m pulled in million different directions and just want to pull the covers over my head and quit everything and sleep all day.
That’s where I’m at right now. Between some personal struggles with the blues and this candle-burnt-at-both-ends feeling, I’ve lost my passion for most everything I’m involved in. I’m seriously questioning the sincerity of my devotion to the project and its place in my life. School feels like an endless tunnel I’ll never get out of and don’t know what to do with when I do. I’m feeling inferior in my volunteer participation. My fitness goals have tanked in the mayhem. …and a bunch more. The only things that feel right to me right now are the positive changes happening in parenting with my kiddo and the positive step I’ve taken by starting counseling.
I know it’s all a part of growing. It’s another one of those shifts, the growing pains that come with making strides in your personal growth. I can feel the significance of this period in my life; I know that one day I will look back on this season and see the positive changes with clarity. But while I’m in it, it’s a struggle. I don’t want to let anyone down, I don’t want to be a quitter.
But I need to slow down. I need to be still, listen to my heart, feel the pulse of life around me, and stop trying so hard. It’s time to let the things I’m meant for find me.
Have you taken the time to slow down recently? How did you lighten your load? Have you had to let go of any commitments lately for your personal happiness? I’d love you to share below.
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