Choices

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I’m beginning my year by finishing some of my projects from the end of the last one. Right before Thanksgiving, I made my final list for the things that needed to get done  for the next three holidays and the end of the year: Gifts to buy, gifts to wrap, teachers’ gifts, mail carrier, hairdresser, my priest, baking, Thanksgiving dinner, Chanukah, latkes, Christmas dinner, Christmas Masses, school responsibilities, holiday cards, clean the house, grocery shopping, and oh yeah, I’ve got that retreat at the Dominican Center exactly between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Too many things to do. Something had to give. I needed this retreat. It was not only spiritual, it was a writing retreat. It was the very things I needed at this time of year, my everything, but did I really have the time for it?

Baking. I decided quite dramatically to skip baking this year. How would the holiday season go on without home baked goods for the teachers and Fr. J and F and the kids?

And then something happened.

It wasn’t that I didn’t care anymore, but…

I. Didn’t. Care. Anymore.

In a good way.

I tried it on for size a couple of times, and made sure that my family knew my intentions. I would not be baking. Except…except for Santa; no cookies, no breads, no nuts, and no caramel. And believe it or not, I was okay with it. I really was.

Not only was this writing retreat exactly what I needed and wanted and longed for, I got more out of it than I expected or could have hoped for.

The quiet inspiration of the poem that prompted us. The prayers. The new friend(s). The peace. There was not a moment all weekend that did not speak to me and reward me for making this choice.

Over the weekend, I was introduced to an inspirational speaker, Rob Bell. His videos are very inspirational and thought-provoking and thoughtful. So much to think about and meditate on. One of those videos was Shells. Please follow the link – it is well worth your ten minutes.

Spoilers to follow: Listening to him talk about the shells and his son’s frustration at not being able to grasp the starfish because his hands were full of shells – well, that moment was like a hammer to my head. My eyes welled up with tears with the pronouncement, no the admission to myself that you can’t do everything. Even if you want to do it or it’s the good thing that you’ve been waiting to do, you can’t do it all.

Choices must be made, and the realization that my no baking mantra of the previous two weeks was more than selfish, it was more than for me, it was important. The revelation that I had made the right choice, and that I could do it again was overwhelming and freeing.

Double Digit Birthday

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Sleeping Selfie

My baby hit double digits today.

Parents look at their kids and see themselves; or at least parts of themselves. They have Grandma’s eyes and Papa’s name and the quirks and the mannerisms. My boys have these things – little things that used to belong to me, but now belong to them. Like my oldest son’s finger tapping when he’s losing his patience and trying not to get angry. Or my middle son’s stomach knots when he’s excited or worried, even when he knows the outcome already. His love of good food and his hysterical laugh.

But my daughter….she’s all her own. She’s got the DNA; she looks just like me and could be her cousin’s twin. Her personality, though is all her own. Her love of fashion and clothes, her wild nail polish and her amazing hair styles. I don’t know where she gets that from. I can’t do my own hair let alone hers.

She loves herself. She has the confidence of ten people. She’s in chorus and she sings and does the hand gestures and she loves it.

She picked out her birthday outfit. (Not surprising since she’s been choosing her clothes and dressing herself since before she was two.) The funny thing this morning, however is that my Kindle does this thing where it shows and highlights the pictures from one year ago today. It turned out that she picked the exact same dress. She’s taller and her hair is longer, and it all works perfectly.

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My baby at ten

She also picked out her birthday cake last night and watched as the bakery clerk wrote her name in pink frosting across the whipped white base. She knows what she wants for dinner, and she’s going to absolutely love her two presents. I can hear her squeal of delight in my head right now, and she’s not even here.

It’s not that she’s the best of me, she’s the best of her and she makes me want to be the best of me too.

New Year, Not So New Me

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Plans, resolutions, goals, intentions, lists, stuff, things. They all need to be made and to be got done. Today is the first day of the first full week of 2016, and lucky for me I didn’t make any tangible resolutions other than to be more thoughtful and meditate on what I want this year to be and to bring and what I want to bring to it. I’ll set the tangibles a few more weeks into the calendar.

Christmas was quite lovely in that dull normalcy that we both crave and wish would be more exciting. I loved it. The kids were home, enjoying home and hearth and gifts by the tree. One son working, one son building Lego, my daughter rearranging her room and making her bed. Everyone in their own little worlds, but joining in the bigger world of our family for movies and food.

I was up early today, but then a second wind of tired blew in, and I laid down for just a minute. An hour later and it was snowing and my whole day melted away. I stayed in bed.

I can feel the sun trying to peek out, but the roads are still snow covered. I need a birthday snack for my daughter’s classroom for tomorrow plus a birthday cake for home. Plus tonight’s dinner. There goes the snowplow. That means more snow than it looks from my snow speckled, cozy window. I don’t want to go out in the snow!

My new me of getting up early, planning my writing calendar, and setting up my new blog format will come. After all, this first full week has just begun, and I have plenty of time to catch up.

Let the lists begin and the dressing commence.

My baby hits double digits tomorrow. Maybe that’s what I’m really avoiding. No, no; the library book is calling me. I’m sure that’s it.

Happy New Year to all whatever it may bring; or what we may bring to it.