Spring came and went, and summer vacation is here.
Here in Minnesota, the temps reached 91 degrees Fahrenheit today, which certainly made it feel like summer.
Earlier this week the girls and I visited the scultpure garden (photo below). That day also happened to be my 41st birthday.
A short while back, Alan surprised us with a picnic to Carver Park on an idyllic spring day, and that’s the next photo. Sometime in May, Anna had her spring ballet showcase. Other memorable events from this spring are visiting my parents a couple of times, babysitting a dog, and spending a day at the landscape arboretum. Alan and I went to a lecture on sustainable lawns and are inspired to convert our lawn into a low-mow, bee friendly lawn. We considered this a date, and I realize now how nerdy that sounds.
Anna and Mia celebrated their last day of 4th and 9th grades today. In her homeschool journal entry today, Mia wrote:
“This year I learned that happiness is one lifestyle change away.”
Meaning, switching to homeschool from public school was the change that made the difference. She is happy. Anna is happy.
Pisces birthday month is in full swing! Anna turned ten on the 14th and Alan turns 41 today. Happy birthday to Allison and Ocean and all the other March birthdays out there, too.
We’re in the middle of a Mercury retrograde period in Pisces, which has made for some emotionally draining events for some of us. But in the midst of that, there has been loveliness, too.
We revealed to Anna her birthday surprise: a ballet studio in the downstairs spare bedroom. Alan worked very hard on making it happen, and it looks so great. We received help from our families to pull it together, and we are grateful for that. Alan had a challenging month at work on top of being sick and rushing to get the room finished in time for Anna’s birthday. He did it all with the easygoing attitude and loving nature that he always has.
Anna has been exploring spirituality and healing. She is interested in learning “space clearing”, so for her birthday, we gave her an old cigar box filled with space cleaning items like essential oils, incense, lemon grass, and smudge sticks. She was very happy about it and we fully expect to have our home cleared of negative energies on a regular basis 😉
Instead of making a photo book for 2018 (I’ve been trying to catch up on the 10+ years of not making any albums), this mom figured out how to use iMovie and make a little film about our family life in 2018.
Today, my mom and dad came over for a few hours to spend time with my girls. I had a couple of hours off in the middle of the day, so I dropped by home to spend time with all of them. My mom had baked a cake with Anna, the recipe shown below, and it was so good that I ate three pieces in a row!
My mom showed me the recipe they used for the cake and explained that I’d made this same cake back in August of 1994 as a surprise for the family. What? That 15-year-old insecure girl who couldn’t seem to do much right with her life made a CAKE? I remember those days painfully clearly, but no matter how hard I try, I cannot remember this cake-making that evidently occurred. As you can see by the recipe below, my mom takes very good notes! That makes them extra fun to read 25 years later.
Learning about my teenage cake-making episode transpired just at the right time–as these things often do. Recently I’ve been processing my long-held belief that “I am a bad person.” Memories of my mistakes and all of the bad things I have done are plentiful and easily accessible in my busy, ruminating mind. Not so accessible, however, are the things I did that were NOT bad. Like baking.
Back in August 1994, I was the age that Mia is now. Through Mia and with the help of this new cake-making information, there is a surge of compassion and love for my younger self. It’s like water is flowing into an empty cavern, filling it with life. The cavern has been dry for a long time.
Mia is wise beyond her years, a kind and genuine soul–which perhaps I was not. But, like Mia, I was trying to figure things out and doing the best I could. Figuring things out when you’re 15 years old is not an easy feat. I gossiped about people. I talked behind people’s backs. I went along with teasing a girl for being fat. I cheated on tests. I complained and was ungrateful, and the list goes on. But, was I really as bad as I’ve been telling myself? Look, I made this cake. For my family, as a surprise that made them happy. That is pretty sweet. That sweetness came from me.
Today, this was an epiphany: I am not an all-bad person.
With just two days left of this year, my heart is contemplative and nostalgic. 2018 was a year of change and challenge for me and probably many others in the world.
I wonder what 2019 will bring for the world, for our country, for my family, for myself. We can never know, and this terrifies me a bit. And then I remember that the best we can do is to surrender to the unknown–to God’s will.
This year the realization of my mortality and the mortality of those I love weighed heavily on my heart. I take with me into 2019 my fear of dying young and of leaving my children motherless–and perhaps will find peace with this fear in the coming year. I also take with me the dreadful knowing that if I do not die young, I will lose my parents someday, and that day looms closer and closer.
The real work of my life seems to be this inner work that I constantly feel driven by. In recent years, this inner work has been more rewarding than burdensome and I’ve begun to embrace it more. Themes from this year’s inner work that will lead me into the new year: unconditional love, forgiveness of self and others, loyalty, generosity, the courage to be myself.
I am indebted to so many. I have taken more than I have given in my life so far, or maybe just broken even. I want to pay it back, pay it forward. I want to give more than I take.
That said, I am grateful. Grateful for the hardships and the lessons as well as the many joys. It is all a part of life, of our common, shared, brief existence on this earth.
November is almost done and here are some things I’d like to remember:
Both girls are playing guitar and enjoying their lessons with their teacher, Will King, who has been teaching Mia since she was eight years old and is truly the best teacher we we could ask for. Mia has been playing piano and writing songs with piano accompaniment. She fills the house with her beautiful music.
Mia finished her fall term of Acting I at the Children’s Theatre Company (she loved it!) and Anna took (and loved!) ballet and modern dance at her new ballet company. Saturday mornings during Mia’s acting class, Alan and I had special date time with Anna. We usually ended up going to the Wedge for groceries or the Wedge table to hang out with a chai and a treat. Anna dances ballet beautifully and with ease. It is a joy to watch her.
Alan went hunting two weekends this month with his brother at their family cabin. Luckily he did not kill anything but he did have a nice time out in the woods. On one of those weekends, my two sisters came over for a night of karaoke and other fun things (adult-sized sleeper pajamas included). Over another weekend, I attended a silent retreat–the same that I attended last year. It was restorative and gave me some space to process some inner turmoil I’ve been carrying around for a while.
I added more clients to my caseload to increase my income and this has me working 3 solid days per week. Though I was skeptical about how this would work, Mia and Anna have been very happy with their lack of supervision.
Both sets of grandparents are enjoying visiting Mia and Anna when Alan and I are at work, and this has become a special bonding time for all of them. It’s incredibly wonderful to witness the relationships between all of them. We are so grateful.
We’re working on finding a recording studio for Mia to record an album of her songs and hope to start this in the new year. We’re super excited about this.
We celebrated Thanksgiving with my family this year in my hometown. It was extra special because of my dad’s journey this past year. We are thankful for each day we have my special dad in this world–and of course, thankful for all of our family and friends, too.