i don’t often encounter an opportunity to quote the rolling stones and c.s. lewis at the same time, but the stones’ lyrics have been running through my head for the last few months and lewis always has a way of injecting Truth into my perspective.
i recently arrived at the revelation that almost all of my moments of misery in recent years have stemmed from the same source: a desire for something i can’t have. i’m not talking about wishing for material things or a more adventurous life or exceptional talents–while those feelings do arise from time to time, they never stick around long enough to make me discontent. i either decide to work for those wants, or determine they’re not worth sacrificing what i already have.
no, what i’m referring to is a longing for something that is an absolute, definite impossibility. i want a future that will never be. one in which my child(ren) and my mom have the kind of special relationship i had with my mother’s mother. one where i can seek my mom’s advice on everything from fashion and decor to parenting and leadership. a future where she and dad grow old together, and live out the dreams and plans they began building in their teens.
when we lost mom, i assumed that i would go through life missing her and occasionally (or frequently) feeling sad that she was taken from us way too soon. eventually i reached the point where i could accept and acknowledge those emotions as they came and continue to function “normally.” but this mindset of allowing (not suppressing) those moments started to seep out at the edges. all of a sudden, i had given myself permission to entertain extended bouts of gloominess from dwelling on the unfairness of being stripped of “what could have (should have) been.”
recognizing this (and facing it) has been transformational in both my daily mood and long-term healing process. now i see that this attitude of regret has been holding me back from embracing my actual future. not that i won’t still have moments that beg for her presence and stir up thoughts of what-if, but i’m done craning my neck to wistfully lookey-loo at the alternate reality i wish were true. i want to look backward with deep gratitude for the treasured memories and forward with anticipation and appreciation for the good things that continue to come our way. because good things are happening.
on new year’s eve, my father married a wonderful woman in a special and celebratory event. for many reasons i don’t have time to enumerate here, it seems evident that God brought them together. loosening my grip on the what-if mentality has allowed me to see that this new relationship is absolutely the right step for my dad, and our family. when they sealed their vows with a kiss at midnight, the happiness i felt was full, genuine, and free of the reserved and awkward and melancholy feelings i had been battling for months. (okay, it was a little awkward to see my father kiss another woman, but, ya know, baby steps.)
now, you’ll probably never convince me that the version of the future without my mom could ever be as ideal as the version with her in it, but given the available options, i want to choose to celebrate the best possible revision of our story. i can see God rewriting the pages into something joyful and restorative.
…but if you try sometimes, well, you might find you get what you need.
a whole week of the new year swept past me while i was distracted with a wedding, family, and a sick baby , but i’ve known my one word for the coming 12 months since the end of november. as usual, it just became clear without much thought. this will only be the third year that i’ve participated with the one word 365 community, but i’ve been pleased–and a little surprised–at how my previous focus words truly became an inspiring guide that didn’t fade (much) over the course of the year.
In 2012, share helped me restore the participatory part of me that withdrew when mom died. and last year’s word, grace, proved to be more useful than i could have known. when i predicted i would need to “adapt to what will surely be a year of rapid changes and unexpected detours,” i was thinking of my newly acquired role of mommy. i had no idea how many unexpected changes i was in for.
this year, i want to start connecting the detached phases of my life and pick a single word that will steer me toward reflection on the whole.
my one word for 2014 is STORY.
at first i was unsure about choosing a word that is not a verb. a motivating word should imply action, no? but this word was so insistent on being my one word for 2014 that i could not refuse.
we all know that a story is made up of many plot developments, big and small. some seem insignificant, but turn out to be pivotal. some seem monumental, but quickly fade into irrelevance. and some are exactly what they seem. but they are each an irreplaceable part of the narrative. without any one moment or event, the story would be…a different story.
if i can view each day–and whatever it brings–as a part of a greater storyline, i think it will color my response to whatever i encounter. fleeting frustrations can be easily excused when i can see that they are nothing in the grand scheme. small pleasures might be more meaningful if i view them in light of the story they are building. big setbacks will become mere hurdles along the scenic path, and i won’t have to hold so tightly to the glorious good times as they glide further into the past, because they are still an integral part of the whole plot.
as i write all this out, i am realizing that i’ve heard the advice to “look at the big picture” a zillion times before, and this all sounds very derivative. but in my mind, this idea of story is different. even if i can’t quite explain the subtle shift in my brain, i know that this approach is more than just a measure to help me not sweat the small stuff or prioritize the important things in life. it’s about crafting a legacy.
it’s also about more than my personal story–it’s about how the panels on my storyboard intersect with those of my family, friends, and anyone else i interact with. it’s about how my days appear in The Story God has been writing since the beginning of time. right now i need the daily reminder that i’m not just drifting; i want the gentle nudge to be more observant.
my hope is that filtering everything through this lens will challenge me to live my life with purpose and perspective, and make me a better contributor to the narrative. 2014 is the year i think broader, in an effort to affect in each small decision. it’s time to really recognize the story i am living.
photo via http://jakebova.files.wordpress.com
yesterday the Hollywood Housewife hosted a second (annual) Instagram event to capture a single day in snapshots. One Day is about stopping to notice all the small moments that don’t typically get attention. fantastic idea. i truly treasure memories caught in photos, videos, journals, and stories (i think it is so important to record and preserve personal and family histories), so obviously i was totally on board.
the day was an exercise in being present and aware of your own context, but also a fascinating glimpse into the hidden lives of others. in browsing the thousands of photos that were posted throughout the day, common threads between storylines were clear, but so was the vast variety of fun and frustrations a day can bring.
you would think the internet would already be at capacity when it comes to “what i had for breakfast” status updates. but somehow, among the all duties and diversions posted, this project prompted people share the mundane with more of a why than a what. instead of becoming just a tiresome tracking device for every tedious movement, it was more like a collection of the scenes that characterize daily life in this season. because we all know how quickly things can change.
often my life feels like a neverending “groundhog day” cycle. i’m sure i’m not the only one who felt like a sampling of my day would just be a parade of cooking and cleaning and feeding and errands (or for some, emails and meetings and reports and phone calls). but when i stepped back and viewed my hamster wheel through the camera lens, i was pleasantly surprised to discover how un-boring my e’ery day, e’ery day activities really are.
the best thing this project gave me is a refreshed outlook on the routines in my life that i tend to dread, but should really savor. most days, the evening hours find me just gritting my teeth and counting down the chores left until i can fall into bed. but family meals and bedtime rituals and the untidy aftermath of the day are all indications of a full and fortunate life.
it will be fun to look back on today and remember surprises happen every day, too.
as i brushed my teeth i kept thinking about the moments i had failed to snap: the baby petting (smacking) the dogs, the leftover (umpteenth) moving box in the office that i attempted to unpack, the before shot of the messy (very) kitchen…
and also the moments that are part of a typical day that just didn’t happen: trips to the store, a visit from grandpa, responding to emails…
but this wasn’t meant to be comprehensive. that’s not what a “snapshot” is.
i can say that yesterday’s experiment has affected my attention to detail throughout today, too. hopefully i can continue to be intentional about noticing the bits and pieces that make up my unique narrative. thanks for the motivation, laura!
one of the best things about being someone’s mom is the fact that kids automatically make every celebration more fun. little ones have a way of participating in holidays and events in a way that adults either outgrow, or feel they should, until you can use your child as an excuse to jump in again. cheesy valentines in the spring, colorful sparklers in the summer, and crazy costumes in the fall all feel more appropriate when you are enjoying them alongside your kiddo’s delight. and the Christmas season is taken to a whole new level!
now, at graham’s age, any childlike glee is obviously driven more by mom than baby, but i don’t need much nudging to get back in the game. since graham was barely alive last halloween, this was the first real chance for him to “be” something for all the fall parties.
it’s no secret that i love children’s literature, and plan to brainwash my kid into loving books, too. the first step in my not-so-sneaky plot was to decorate his nursery in a storybook theme. isn’t the next logical step to help him channel a classic storybook character?
harold, and his creative adventure with his crayon, has always been one of my favorites. graham sort of resembles the bald little boy, so it was an easy choice for me. plus, his costume couldn’t have been any easier.
but what is harold without the world he draws around himself? so i chose a page from the book for my costume and set about recreating it. this mama does not sew, but i wanted the “ink” from the drawing to actually connect to harold’s perpetually-drawing crayon, so fabric glue was my friend.
making lee’s costume as the book cover was a cinch: i just sent the image to a local store to make the heat transfer, then took it down the street for the tee company to apply it. the whole outing took 15 minutes. (yeah, we live in a small town, now.)
and we have great friends in this town who throw cute toddler parties complete with hayrides and pumpkin painting, and a fantastic church family that knows how to deck out a festive “trunk or treat,” so graham officially had more fun this year than he will ever remember.
last week we celebrated one year of life with graham. the party was so fun and we were honored to share this milestone with so many of the special people in graham’s life. i’ve finally combed through the tons of photos that thoughtful friends and family took with my camera, and picked out the best ones to share here. (let’s be honest, i only filtered out a few duplicates and misfires.)
so, i’ve give you a mostly wordless (gasp!) okieOLIO post, because all we really care about in these instances are the pics, right?