Category Archives: OneWord 2013: Today

Mostly Happily Ever After

Five Minutes Friday

Today’s topic is: AFTER

GO

ever afterOnce upon a time…

Authors, screenwriters, journalists, historians, storytellers of all kinds… we’re all about the “once upon a time” – the big event, the climax of the plot, the exciting/terrifying/shocking turning point. It’s where the glamour and romance live. Boy meets girl. A child is born. With this ring, I thee wed. Rest in peace.

They’re the turning points in our story. They loom large over our Everyday Days. They’re outside normal.

But that’s where most of life is lived. In the happily (or pretty-happily, or kind-of-miserably) Ever After.

I think somewhere along the line I started living for the bigger moments. I thought these were the ones that would change my life. Moving to a new place. Having a baby. Finishing a renovation. Going on a trip. Adopting a child.

Waiting for the next big thing. Counting down days. Dreading it or Dreaming about it. Always looking for what comes next.

And I missed out on Today. The little moments of now. The slow erosions and subtle build ups that make a life. Habits. Rituals. Small triumphs. Minor disappointments. These are the meat and potatoes of life.

Because AFTER they rode off into the sunset… they loaded the dishwasher and brushed their teeth and clipped their toenails. The fair maiden hogged the covers and Prince Charming snored. Building a life happens in a thousand small moments that Disney never immortalized on-screen, but that doesn’t mean it’s not magical.

It’s time to focus my lens on Today.

STOP

So here’s me, living my pretty-happily, so-tired, mostly-content, doing-the-best-I-can, thanking-God-for-everyday Ever After. There’s a lot less sparkle than the fairy tales, but the leading man is pretty great and the little people make me laugh.

after

Joining Lisa-Jo for her Five Minute Friday Challenge again.

Here’s how we do it:

1. Write for 5 minutes flat on the prompt “After” with no editing, tweaking or self critiquing.

2. Link back here and invite others to join in {you can grab the button code in my blog’s footer}.

3. Go and tell the person who linked up before you what their words meant to you. Every writer longs to feel heard.

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When Life Goes into Overload

They call me the “One Trip Wonder.” A shopping bag hanging off of each finger and one wedged beneath my chin. Wrangling uncooperative bags with my hands while body checking the trunk closed. Beckham’s got nothing on me, as I dribble the extra-large package of (extra-large) pull-ups up the driveway with my feet. I bellow through the front door from someone to open up and give me a hand. Not to brag, but opera singers wish they had my lung capacity.

An overflowing cart of groceries carried into the house in ONE LOAD. That’s a crucial 47 seconds in valuable time saved! The crowd goes wild with applause! They’re amazed. They’re impressed. They wish they could be like me.

groceriesThey’re the imaginary audience in my head.

The actual, real people in my life just shrug and ask if I remembered to get crunchy peanut butter this time. They sigh weary sighs when asked to carry the food into the kitchen. They gripe about the broken egg and the misshapen bread.

Nobody appreciates my genius.

I’m Queen of the Grocery Overload!

Unfortunately, I’m not quite as competent when it comes to handling an overloaded schedule. Every once in a while we find ourselves facing a week of extras. Extra challenges. Extra events. Extra work.

Common sense dictates that this is the time to buckle down and plow through.

Deer-in-the-headlights, Overwhelmed, Procastinating Perfectionist suggests curling up into a fetal ball and crying like a baby.

Guess which one I usually choose?

February has had a few days of overload (much like January, and December of course, oh and the whole year before that). We truck along quite happily until a few extras get thrown into the mix. And then it seems like too much. Of course, the worst part isn’t the actual workload. Or the unsettled children. Or the break in routine.

The worst part is the anticipation of busyness beforehand.

When push comes to shove, I take busy and make it my b…. aby. But the pre-show isn’t pretty. Instead of getting MORE done, because life is about to ramp up, I seem to accomplish less than ever. I moan and complain and sit around feeling overwhelmed.

But this year I have a secret weapon.

This year, I’m not responsible for tomorrow or all week long or the rest of the year or however many days I have left on God’s green earth. This year, I’m responsible for TODAY. And the rest I’m leaving in God’s hands.

The days I remember this, it makes all the difference.

So here’s me, and I’ve had a few Overwhelmed Fetal Ball episodes, but remembering my One Word has helped. And this week I am facing a midterm, a school project, a sick child, a visit from in-laws, a family outing, a trip to the States, several meetings, Glen working evenings, baking 6 dozen cupcakes and pulling off a large Gotcha party for our boy and 50+ of our closest friends… but I’m feeling pretty cool, because I can handle TODAY and TODAY alone.

MonthlyOneWord150


Our Very Own Field of Dreams

The boy leads the way. His little legs motoring down the grassy hill, a controlled tumble to the bottom. With a shriek he flaps his arms and lifts his face to the rapidly setting sun. Daddy scoops him up and spins him around. He seems to be tasting the moment with a wide-mouthed, toothy grin. Enthusiasm personified.

His sister runs after him, arms akimbo. Not the most graceful gait, a half prance/half sprint, but joyful… elated to be free. The crunch of the frosty grass beneath her feet competes with her breathless giggles.

A game of tag ensues, although she is much more interested in the “getting” than the “being gotten.” Perpetually “It.” We are her willing quarry.

We’ve abandoned our stroller at the sleek, state-of-the-art play-park long ago. Wilder pursuits beckon. Wide open spaces begging us to stretch our legs.

The little people notice their oversized shadows. Tall gangly silhouettes do silly dances on the sun-kissed grass. The world is a buttery yellow.

baseballWe wander onto the baseball diamond, stirring up clouds of red dust. Daddy demonstrates the Right Way to fake a pitch. The girl “catches.” The boy cheers with gusto. We run the bases. Then again for good measure.

I try to capture a few images on my phone. But they are pale reflections of our unexpected adventure. It’s too precious to hold in my hands.

This.

Here.

Now.

It’s what we were meant for. Somehow a simple walk to the park, as much like worship as any sacred tradition. In the thrill of everyday beauty, I feel God’s pleasure.

So here’s us, where play belongs to all ages.


Starting Over

candycornI blame Chinese food. And Dairy Queen. And the bag of Christmas candy corn I found in my daughters toy box.

Because who can resist the siren song of stale, month-old candy?

Not me apparently. I devoured it like a junkie who happened upon a forgotten stash. It didn’t even taste good.

The only thing worse than stale, month-old Christmas candy corn is the guilt from eating stale, month-old Christmas candy corn.

So much for eating healthy this year.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all failure and embarrassing binges around here. Some days I win. But even then I have to watch myself. It’s stunning how quickly I can move from fatalistic self defeat to overconfident delusions of grandeur.

Case in point, the day I cleaned the house from top to bottom (withOUT eating anything I found along the way) and elypticalled myself to the moon and back. Feeling smug, I spent the rest of the day watching the Food Network while ignoring my children.

I don’t even like to cook.

So much for being a more attentive parent this year.

Soar or stumble – I can twist it into an excuse. To indulge. To give up. To sabotage myself. Time and again, it’s the one task at which I rarely fail.

This year I’m trying to change the game. I will focus only on TODAY. There is no tipping point. There is no pressure to be perfect. There is no tomorrow or next month or the rest of my life resting on what I do right now. There is only TODAY.

Thank you to Melanie at onlyabreath.com for the graphic!

I seem to function better without the weight of all that still-to-come. I still fill in the calendar and keep track of “things to do” and make plans for our family. I’m still mindful of the things I need to do better. But I only hold myself responsible for what I can get done between “Mama… up” (boy-speak for: wake up and pay attention to my cuteness) and “…but I’m almost done this chapter” (preteen-speak for: none of my friends have a bedtime so lights out is lame and besides I’m not even tired yet).

Some days it works. Some days there are temptations and trials and I slip back into worry-pressure-procrastinate-medicate-with-food/tv/Internet-hate-myself-STRESS. But even that isn’t the end of the world.

Every day I am starting over.

It’s only been a few weeks. The jury’s still out on whether I’m doing better or worse at: eating healthy, staying active, decluttering, being spiritually mindful, attentive parenting or solving the problems of the universe via blogging. But I did clean out that one toy box…

What I can say for sure is that I’m enjoying the sweet, fleeting moments of life better. I’m enduring the tough stuff with less angst. And most of all, I’m liking Me a whole lot more.

This is what I chose to focus on for the creative writing DPChallenge on Starting Over.

Hoos ll Family Portraits-41I’m not Who-I-Was.

I’m not Who-I-Will-Be.

I’m not Who-I-Expected.

Or Who-I-Dreamed-I-Would-Be.

I’m Me.

With new insights, and new struggles, and new dreams.

With a best friend who loves Me (better yet, still likes Me) after all these years.

With a heart full of four little people who make Me crazy, and make Me laugh, and make Me a better Me.

Changing and growing and learning and becoming Me.

With a little extra Me around the edges.

And even though those parts are the hardest to accept,

They are part of Me too.

Whatever size or shape or new configuration, I’m still Me.

I’m not Martha Stewart. I’m not Hiedi Klum.

I’m not You. I’m not Who-You-Think-I-Should-Be.

I’m not perfect or easy and I’m not ready to concede.

I’m not finished yet.

But for now, TODAY, I’m content to be Me.

So here’s me. You know that rumor about bloggers being totally self-absorbed… ummm… ya…


One Word to Rule 2013

It must exist. That magical combination of sounds and symbols which will inspire and motivate the new me.

The healthier, skinnier, more organized, kinder, wiser…resolutions list

not to mention hospitable, well-read, well-groomed, attentive…

DAILY: meditating on God’s Word, giving my husband massages, writing my blog and/or novel, doing speech therapy exercises, inspiring good behaviour in pre-teens, reading to and with littles, quizzing spelling words…

cavorting with unicorns, catching a leprechaun, giving up sugar…

the too-good-to-be-real 2013 me.

I was determined that this year’s One Word project would surpass last year. I combed through the words on other blogs and even cracked open the dictionary. I perused the many lists and goals and plans of attack I’d put together in years past. I kicked around words like: “Better” and “Higher” and “More.”

Glen laughed at my ideas of course. “That’s so YOU,” he says, and suggests I might as well pick “Should” or “Guilt” while I’m at it.

By the end of Day 1, I was deeply tired and discouraged. And I hadn’t even started yet!

I used to ride that wave of unrealistic New Year optimism for days, sometimes weeks. This is the time of year I buy my pants two sizes smaller. I stock up on baskets/organizers/folders and hum contentedly at the thought that soon my life will be streamlined and clutter-free. I prepare my answers for the “your kids are so well-behaved… what’s your secret?” conversations that will inevitably follow our newest strategies. I float through January on a cloud of beautiful, beautiful expectations.

But this year the cold, hard grip of reality refuses to let me go.

Stupid reality.

The vast majority of my best intentions come to nothing in the end. I get overwhelmed juggling the needs of others, the tasks of basic survival and my self-improvement projects. Soon I am crushed under a mountain of my own expectations. I focus on me, me, me. I am angry that God doesn’t just swoop in and fix my life already. I am disillusioned.

I reread the purpose of One Word: “One word that sums up who you want to be or how you want to live.”

ow468-look2

I do want to be better, to aim higher, to do more… but the harder I try, the worse I do. And I don’t have enough energy left to try even harder still. And I can’t fool myself any longer that the right plan or strategy or WORD will make all the difference. And I could so easily throw my hands in the air and give up: eat my weight in Christmas candy, scream at my kids until they shut up and stay in bed for the rest of the year.

God help me.

Then it came to me. I don’t need to conquer a lifetime of bad habits or wrestle a year’s worth of problems into submission; I only have to deal with TODAY.

I will live in the precious moments of TODAY. No wasting the now on what-should-be; instead I will live, enjoy, savour. No fighting the flow of turbulent, wonderful, imperfect reality. TODAY is enough.

I will handle the worries of TODAY. No beating myself up about yesterday’s faults and failures; TODAY is a new day. No fretting about tomorrow’s what-ifs and could-bes; I will trust God with my tomorrows. TODAY is enough.

I will do what I can get done TODAY. No pressure to be perfect; I will do my best, no more and no less. No expectation to be anything but what I am. TODAY I am enough.

Thank you to Melanie at onlyabreath.com for the graphic!

Thank you to Melanie at onlyabreath.com for the cool graphic!

Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now,

and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow.

God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.

Matthew 6:34 (MSG)

So here’s me, one day at a time.

Enough about me… what’s your word/resolution for 2013?


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