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Laughing, at the End of the Day

stickers

It was one of those kind of days.

It was the kind of day when you let the almost two year old run around with the permanent markers, caps off, because you’re trying to defrost the the block of ground beef with a metal fork and frying pan while you burn the taco shells and the oldest child yells, “Grab your blankets and start waving them near the vents” as the smoke pours out of the oven.

The kind of day when you wonder whether you should even make goals for yourself if it means  you’ll turn into a super bug-eyed yelling mama when your kids interrupt your efforts for the 43rd time even though no ones bleeding or missing a limb.

It was the kind of day when you’re glad you did decide to start the goal of sneaking off for twenty minutes to exercise in your room(dance and jump to The Kooks) so that when you emerge slightly revitilized you might be able to face the 8 year old who says, “Mommy, do you think we’ll have a better day tomorrow?”

The kind of rare day when your other three children are squared away and just you and your almost two year old head out for a jaunt at Traders Joe’s and you decide she should try out one of those cute little carts and you both squeal all the way through the store as she tries to pile six bags of cheese puffs, dried prunes, and seaweed into the cart.  You realize most people in the store probably think you’re a poor first time mom who isn’t very good at the parenting thing yet and you get a warning from the cashier, “Now you know these Super Chocolate Covered Powdered Berries are adult candy not for children” and you realize he thinks you’ve been slipping them to the pint size person by your side and that’s why she’s been squealing.

It was the kind of day when everything seems funnier, later, after a brownie, and fours hours after the kids have been in bed.

Did you have that kind of day?

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100 Days of Practical Wisdom

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I’ve particularly avoiding reading any posts that start or end with the word Resolutions.  The whole idea leaves me slightly nauseous as I think back to an excerpt from my 5th grade diary.

“Exercise.  Diet.  Lose Weight.”

I was not overweight and I was only 9.

Since finding that excerpt, the whole ritual seems to me it could be equally titled, “Things That I feel Guilty About.  Huge Goals That Will Make Me Feel Like a Failure in a Few Weeks.”  Or, “Things I Think I Should Change Because That’s What My Best Friend is Doing or What the Magazine Article Said.”

Does that mean I should rebel against any changes at all, out of my annoyance at resolutions?

In my pastor’s exhortation for the New Year, he suggested(strongly) that some of the struggles each of us were dealing with might not have a giant, spiritual answer that begins with “Thou art burdened unto death” or some similiar sentiment.  He went on to say that a person might need to sleep 8 hours, eat better food, create and apply a budget.  Not the most popular advice that he gives out in counseling, he admitted.

“But, Pastor, that’s not very spiritual.  I want God to do something great.”

“He will, when you carry out some of the very practical wisdom He placed in his Word.”

Around that same time we chose Proverbs as the next book of study for our children’s daily quiet time.  Five chapters in, we’ve all gotten the theme wonderfully.  “Don’t turn away from God’s wisdom.  Don’t walk in the way of the wicked.  Apply his wisdom everyday.”

When daily issues come up with disrespect, or for a completely hypothetical example, when one sticks staples into one’s mouth, we’ve turned them right back to their verses from the day.  “Did you apply your parent’s wisdom? The Lord and your parents don’t give you wisdom so that you can have a big list of rules to follow.  We want to keep you safe.  We want to give you what’s best. The Lord disciplines those He loves.”

I’ve begun working on a few daily habits, and thinking about a few others.  If I’m trying to make new habits, is that the same thing as those old, guilt rendering new year’s resolutions?  I’m sure they could be, but habits brings out something different in the undertaking.  It doesn’t feel like a giant lunge that will end in a crash.  It’s smaller, it’s daily, it’s forgiving, it’s getting back to the habit again the next day.  It’s an act that will carry out the practical wisdom in my own, personal walk with the Lord.  It’s individual.  It’s based not on guilt, but hope for what life the new habits will bring.

I found myself attracted to the idea of recording these habits when I saw Ann Voskamp’s 100 day Calender.  The same 3 habits recorded and checked off for 100 days.  A habit started, a habit kept.  I’m expecting to leave some boxes unchecked, but just keep going the next day, looking back encouraged by the days before.

Here’s my list.

1)Creative Writing

My blog is most certainly an outlet, but if I were honest with myself, I really want to write a novel, some plays, some stories for my kids.  My friend doesn’t know yet (but this seems like a good way to tell her now) that we’re going to start spending 10 minutes a day writing creatively.  Sending each other prompts, sharing our writing for accountability and inspirations, but not for the sake of criticism or reaching a product.  Practically speaking, if I hope to write any of the projects above, I have to, well, start.

2)Quiet devotion

We pray together as  family, we listen to the girls share their proverbs at night, I read my son’s daily devotion.  My own prayers are caught on the wind as I go about consuming daily tasks.  I’m sure their heard by the Lord amidst the yelling, the school books, the cries for lunch.  But nothing about my spirit is quiet in those times.  I’m hoping for a habit of being still(without a novel with my hands).  Practically speaking, if I want to quiet with the Lord, I have to, well, stop.  Everything.

3)Exer-I mean, 20 Minutes to Get Fit

It was incredibly hard to admit this was on my list after all my complaining up above.  Forever, exercise has been a means to eating.  Like going out the next day after a food hangover to fix my mistake.  I tell the kids it’s about being healthy, but secretly it’s meant being thin.  Last month the Lord gave me the gift of a new habit of sleep.  And now He’s working powerfully in the nighttime eating habits that accompanied my lack of sleep.  I wake up rested.  I wake up, on most days, without the shame of my nocturmal eating actvities.  Now I’ve been grabbing twenty minutes in my room with an exercise routine.  I feel stronger. Literally, measurably, stronger. I’ve gone from one pitful push up to almost 5. Practically speaking, if I want my kids to value moving their bodies, I have to do it myself, daily.

While resolutions always felt connected to the expectations of the world, these habits, in their best form, feel more like an extension of prayer. Practically, speaking.

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Creativity-Lost and Found

I used to be in an Artist’s Club, I just didn’t know it until it was over.  There were no dues or t-shirts, no regular meeting dates, no verbal oath, but we were all members because of our passion for some type of art. We each had an invisible thread leading us to these callings, we were all storytellers using our mediums. We were actors finding a voice, we imagined and built the dream worlds of playwrights, we were instruments tuning our music to the air, and bodies leaning into grace.

I suppose our meeting place could be called Classroom, since this was during my high school and college years, but the action really happened in the constant creative buzz of activity and ideas.  With no orchestration on my part, I  found myself daily discussing a character or play over a bagel, learning a new skill to help someone’s idea move along, and all of this sent me running to my journal to fill it with dreams to bursting.  Every day I created, and took it for granted that I had the time and that I would be with others doing the same thing.

I didn’t realize that the rich creative time and resources at my fingertips were limited.

A few years into marriage and mama-hood, I took a good look around the utterly foreign world that was now mine.  It wasn’t until I was reading through Madeleine L’engle’s  journals that I realized I had left my club behind or even realized there was a club, or how much it had stimulated my creative life. L’engle had an unofficial club too, although hers was quite a bit more elite than my college days.  Her stories are filled with the mythical names of vibrant New York theater, she had dinner parties with names I only knew as legends from classes. Like my group though, hers was in the off and on hours, gathered around a piano in a small apartment, backstage in the theater, in Greenwich Village where dreams were being followed and lost.

At that time I thought of those around me and I couldn’t name one potential member in my little world of mama friends. I’d left them all 12 hours behind. Instead I was the new mom who heard often from friends “Oh you’re so creative.” I didn’t really want that moniker, I wanted to hear “Let me tell you about this idea I had, the movie I saw, this book I want to write.”  I wanted a fellow creator, not a reminder of how alien it felt to be me.

My husband was the only one in my club and thank goodness for him.  A graphic designer, a painter, a drawer, a lover of films, I think I would have continued splicing myself without at least his passion allowing my fire to stay lit.  When I did get ideas, though not nearly as often as before, he said, “Go.”

“Go write, go make frames, go see the play.”

Your ideas are great.  Yes, take photos for money, I’ll watch the kids.  Yes, writing is important let me design your blog.”

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Eventually, L’engle’s dinner parties lingering as a reminder of what was lost, I decided to make something happen.  Mr. Darcy and I put our hand to leading a group through a creative focused Bible study, which lead us to other people who were just as stuck. I found I really didn’t want to lead a group, just be among people who got more excited about creating something from nothing than excel spreadsheets and football(yes, I know there are those of you out there who would be in my club AND breakdown a budget while watching Sunday’s game).

In this lonely time, I found out a few things about myself.  Creativity isn’t a hobby added on, when I’m doing it I feel better fitted into my skin and spirit.  For the longest time I couldn’t figure out how it fit into my “new” life, I couldn’t blend the shades.   I’ve learned to recognize the restlessness when I haven’t done something with my hands or with words, it only takes an hour of writing or making a collage to find order and peace.  I can see why L’engle compared writing to praying.

My world has grown-a little.  I have a close friend who loves to write, who understands the need to create and be a full-time mama at the same time.  I have kids who get out their sketchbooks almost daily.

“Mommy, ask me if I’d rather a)sketch b)eat chocolate or c)play Webkins. A-sketch, I just want to do it all the time!”

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Our walls are adorned with family originals.  They beg me to write stories with them, to create radio dramas.  It’s a gift and an affirmation to have motherhood and artistry naturally blended into a day.

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It’s a small club.  I’d like to see it grow.  I hear about artists who live isolated lives and maybe they don’t need the energy found in shared passions, but as for me, I’ll take the club.  I’m leaving the door open.  T-shirt anyone?

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The Long and the Short of It

Absence
of me,
Here.

A short break broken into a loud, lingering
silence.

Fingers grown accustomed to short bursts of emails, awkwardly pecking to catch up with my thoughts.

No that’s not true.

It’s my thoughts that are awkward, chaotic, jammed like a stuck elevator and cluttered like the laundry on my bed.

Writing for me is a search for order, meaning, to the rapid input/output happening each blink of the day(and night for that matter).  My husband finds order in the beat of music.  If I’m already experiencing high traffic, music just clouds the frequency further.

But writing brings calm.  Also, like tonight, it brings dread at what I’ll find in the chaos, what’s calling out to be sorted.  But there’s a peace, a rightness, in beginning the process.

So I guess I’ll start at the beginning.

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On another day.

Gotcha.

Nice to see so you again.

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