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.
Mia turned fifteen. We had a wonderful day of celebrating. Here is our joyful, loving, lovely girl, and behind her are photos of her when she was a wee one.
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.
Love, peace, and happy new year to all.
We had our first family trip on an airplane and spent a week in Texas. The first three days we were in Dallas for Alan’s educators conference and the last three days we stayed in Fort Worth.
The highlight of our trip was a visit to the Forth Worth Stockyards. The Stockyards is a historic part of town with cobblestone streets, horses, daily cattle drives, and more steakhouses, cowboy boots, and saloons than you’ve ever seen in a two-block radius.
Our favorite part of the day was watching the cattle drive. Texas longhorns are an amazing sight! We thought they were so sweet and cute, with their big brown eyes and their super long horns. Each animal has horns that are a different shape and length. Some of the horns are so big that it’s hard to believe the animal can hold up its head! Sometimes the horns are asymmetrical, which was especially cute. They are gentle giants that move slowly and have a peacefulness about them.
We had rain the last two days of our trip, including our day at the Stockyards. Luckily there was plenty of opportunity for shelter and we still managed to have a great time.
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.
Winter at St. John’s University
Me at silent retreat
Mia on the piano
We have had a beautiful October here in Minnesota with mild temperatures, just enough rain, and fall colors that will spill into November. We even had our first snowfall. Our homeschooling has settled into its own rhythm, which involves far less structure and direction than originally planned for. This is good. It is ok. We’re back to a sort of “unschooling” theme, with a little direction and suggestion here and there.
We celebrated my sisters’ birthdays, visited my parents, went to a lovely apple orchard, stayed in a cozy and warm camper cabin at Afton State Park during the peak weekend for fall colors, and of course, along with the rest of the country, we celebrated Halloween with pumpkin carving, costumes, and trick-or-treating in our neighborhood. Mia was a “flapper” from the 20’s and Anna was a snail.
I read this book over our cabin camping weekend and it changed my life a little. It changed the course of my children’s lives even more because it helped me relax and trust them more. They have been very happy since this change occurred, and I am reminded once again how things fall into place when the time is right.
Another wonderful thing is that my dad finishes radiation treatment tomorrow. The maintenance part of his treatment begins now and continues for the rest of his life. I learned that although I was told that his cancer was stage 4 in the beginning, this was not accurate. I do not know why the misinformation happened. He is doing much better now.
Fall greetings to my dear blog readers. I hope this finds you happy and well.