Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A Whole Lotta Reverbing

Reverb10 has been prompting us to reflect on the past year. Here are some quick responses to prompts in the last week.

December 21 – Future Self (Author: Jenny Blake)

Imagine yourself five years from now. What advice would you give your current self for the year ahead? (Bonus: Write a note to yourself 10 years ago. What would you tell your younger self?)

Your daughter's childhood is going by so fast. Enjoy it all! Don't worry too much about your career path. You'll have time to work on that later. Just make sure you are ready to jump on that horse when the opportunity arises. Your life is right in front of you right now, so enjoy the heck out of it!

Also, get your finance in order! It doesn't have to be perfect, just legible.

Bonus note to my past self:
Don't wait to do things with people you admire and like. Sometimes people get taken away from you by sheer random circumstances, so appreciate everyone in your life right now.

December 22 – Travel (Author: Tara Hunt)

How did you travel in 2010? How and/or where would you like to travel next year?

I traveled to the coast to enjoy the New Year with friends. I traveled several times for calling gigs. I traveled several times (including once solo with my daughter) to see various family and cousins. It was fun. Next year, we are taking a 12 hour trip to see one cousin I haven't seen in nearly a decade.

I'd like to do more short vacation travels to both the coast and the mountains. I'd like to get back to calling more in the region.

December 23 – New Name (Author: Becca Wilcott)

Let’s meet again, for the first time. If you could introduce yourself to strangers by another name for just one day, what would it be and why?

When I was in high school, I accidentally reversed my first and middle names on the reference cards our teacher asked us to fill out. For the first couple weeks, my teacher called me by my middle name. It was a very odd, yet liberating experience. I could be this new person! I could be anyone! I already use my grandmother's name as a handle around the internet.

But I don't think I'd change my name. I own it pretty well.

December 24 – Everything’s OK (Author: Kate Inglis)

What was the best moment that could serve as proof that everything is going to be alright? And how will you incorporate that discovery into the year ahead?

When my daughter actually put herself to sleep, and it was early enough so that my husband and I could sit on the couch together in the evening. That had been an impossibility before. We looked at each other and said "Wowww, isn't this nice?" then collapsed in giggles. We realized that we were going to get our relationship back despite the demands of parenting. We still have that awareness of our intimate companionship.

December 25 – Photo – a present to yourself (Author: Tracey Clark)

Sift through all the photos of you from the past year. Choose one that best captures you; either who you are, or who you strive to be. Find the shot of you that is worth a thousand words. Share the image, who shot it, where, and what it best reveals about you.

Oct2010 Saturday morning_0638

My husband took this of me and my daughter in our front yard.

I like that it shows me in one of my favorite new skirts with leggings because I have hope that I can find my fashion sense after decades in jeans and chinos.

I also like that it shows me in my everyday life as a mother. I'm loving and attentive. I like to share my appreciation of the world with my daughter.

December 26 – Soul Food (Author: Elise Marie Collins)

What did you eat this year that you will never forget? What went into your mouth & touched your soul?

A roasted vegetable stew. Fall root veggies roasted with garlic, rosemary and salt, then stewed and mashed. It spoke of a hearty harvest and of feeding my family with food both delicious and nutritious.

December 27 – Ordinary Joy (Author: Brené Brown)

Our most profound joy is often experienced during ordinary moments. What was one of your most joyful ordinary moments this year?

When my daughter decided she'd rather sit in the booster seat for meals, we really enjoyed sitting at the table as a family.

December 28 – Achieve (Author: Tara Sophia Mohr)

What’s the thing you most want to achieve next year? How do you imagine you’ll feel when you get it? Free? Happy? Complete? Blissful? Write that feeling down.

Clearing space in the house.

I already cleared significant space in the living room for Christmas. We all felt the lightness and joy that comes from having clear space to play in. It made me want to get rid of or pack away even more of my possessions and/or clutter. I imagine I'll feel even happier and more energetic with less stuff weighing us down.

Then, brainstorm 10 things you can do, or 10 new thoughts you can think, in order to experience that feeling today.

10 things to do/thoughts to think to have more clear space:

1. Pack away things we are not using much.
2. Sweep the floor frequently.
3. Donate some books.
4. Shred some paper.
5. Clear clutter piles off all chairs.
6. Put some bigger unused baby gear up for sale on Craigslist.
7. Take tools from renovation back into the basement.
8. Throw out old receipts and utility statements that are past usefulness (that's virtually all of them!).
9. Pack up old baby clothes and get them out of the house!
10. Don't buy anything new in January (except house renovations).

Bonus 11: Notice how happy and energetic clear space makes me feel.

Okay, that's it for now! Happy Christmas week!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

5 Minutes of What I'd Want to Remember from 2010

Another reflective prompt from reverb10.

December 15 – 5 Minutes
Imagine you will completely lose your memory of 2010 in five minutes. Set an alarm for five minutes and capture the things you most want to remember about 2010.

Okay, timer started. I'd like to remember:

My daughter going strawberry picking for the first time and devouring a huge berry fresh from the plant.

Going camping with the three of us at a dance weekend. Hanging out with the community. The baby learned to give high fives. DH and I get to dance together for the first time in two years! A romanic, heartfelt waltz.

Calling to some of my favorite dance communities. Calling a dance I wrote at some friends' wedding, and they really liked it!

The baby when she first learned to walk - running back and forth between us, so excited and proud of herself.

Seeing a friend after more than 15 years on different continents! Warm and comfortable conversation.

Visiting another college friend and her family - hanging out, talking, noshing on dessert, and playing with toys.

The little girl getting taller and taller, and her delight at climbing and sliding and dancing and bouncing and talkingtalkingtalking. All the funny things she says. The way she comes running into our arms for a hug. She requests "sing barefeet" or "ead Orax." "Where 'Cuzi go? I go find 'Cuzi." " Ah heah Daddy peeling carrots!" "Ah make a big noise!"

Conversations with my husband in the middle of the night about our daughter and about life. We're tired, but it's so nice. Giggling at silly things.

Cooking projects - yummy! Making corn chowder and lasagna and peppermint bark. Crazy!

Tracking my Dad's progress as he ran the NYC marathon, and calling him moments after he crossed the finish line.

Hanging out with my cousins. Comfortable conversations about our parents and our children and our house projects.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Dazzled With Decorations

The tree glimmers in the dim room. I am up late drinking tea and nursing a head cold, but the sight of the tree lifts me past my discomfort.

This must be the best tree I've ever decorated in my life. Shiny colored balls of every size and hue dot the branches, concentrated in the top half, while other ornaments dangle or nestle throughout. Strings of lights wind around from the top of the high central spike down the slender shape, flashing out or peeking from behind ornaments ranging from straw stars tied with red thread and hand-pressed paper angels, to glue-and-glitter sweet gum balls from twenty years ago and my baby's hand print made just last year. And the gold foil and glitter wrapped star I made years ago presides over it all. Yes, this is the best one. Because my daughter is here to see it.

We went tree shopping earlier this week, in the middle of a bitter cold of course, because most of our tree shopping incites strange weather - last year, it was sleet-snowing on us - and after it was erected properly and the lower branches soaped (to deter cats from taking ill-advised bites out of it), we let it drink and rest.

A day later followed the wrapping of the lights. I wait to see my daughter's reaction. Kissme ites! My daughter says. Mommy made it! Yes, Mommy put the lights up. More drinks for the tree, more resting.

Today during nap time, I strung antique bulbs along the mantle and started unloading ornaments onto the upper half of the tree. First, some of my favorite glass bulbs, then certain special ornaments I want featured prominently, then the red bulbs, and the gold ones, and the old-fashioned molded glass from India, and oh yes, the set of blues and greens I picked up from the thrift shop, and oh yes! the new box of miniature reds. I leave a few of them within reach. It's not too early to learn how to treat a glass bulb gently, and if a couple of them break, oh well, they are not the special ones.

I save several boxes for my daughter to help with. I'm waiting for her to wake up and exclaim over the tree, and she does. Decor-Ay-shuns! she calls them. And I show her how to open the loop of string and place it over a branch, preferably one that does not droop, and how to hook a piece of wire onto a likely spot. She doesn't have much patience for the particulars, but she exclaims over the snowflakes, the stars, the birds, and other cunning designs of color and shape. She handles the fake cardinals with wires sticking out of their feet, the be-glittered sweet gum balls (practically antiques), the striped elfs from my husband's childhood. She rings a finger on the painted steel bell ornament from my grandfather's farm. She pokes into the bag of ornament hooks.

Bah-ohs, she keeps saying as she fondles yet another globe. Oh! Anah-oh bah-oh! I keep waiting for the balls to spring back from her hand and hurl themselves to the hearth, but they stay stuck fast to their branches.

The birds, the stars, the snowmen, all familiar characters. Angels and soldiers are a new one. She's convinced the little mouse in walnut shell is a cat. She runs away with one angel chime figure, clutching it her chest while she climbs into the recliner. We give the tree another drink. Ahter for uh tree!she says.

The rest of the evening, she's drawn back to the tree again and again to hold and inspect ornaments within reach. The colors, the shapes, the lights. It's utterly fantastic and normal, both, just like in all the books we've ever read. Iss nice, she declares. And we haven't even gotten to the icicles yet. I'm telling you; best tree ever.

Friday, December 10, 2010

So Beautifully Different - Whoo!

Reverb10 has a cool series of writing prompts to prompt reflection at the end of the year. I'm behind - this one is from two days ago.

December 8 – Beautifully Different
Think about what makes you different and what you do that lights people up. Reflect on all the things that make you different – you’ll find they’re what make you beautiful. (Karen Walrond)

This is an especially interesting exercise to me, because even though I've felt different since I was a child, I've never been able to really figure out HOW I am different, or WHY.

When I was younger, I think it was mostly because I noticed many things, and I reacted in unusual ways, and other people often treated me as if I were different (and reacted well or badly according to some mysterious algorithm). Yet I could never figure out why that was, or what, exactly, it was, much less what I was supposed to do to "fix" it to be more like other people.

In my adult life, I've come to know a variety of people who appreciate my differences and quirks. Sometimes I will get comments about my "great energy," but I'm still a little mystified.

And now as I try to think about what makes me different (and beautiful), I keep feeling that I am somehow letting my ego run away with me. Look at me! How wonderful I am! Har.

1. I have a way of taking people into an inclusive circle, especially when I am speaking publically. My husband calls this speaking as if I were "addressing each person personally." Not that this manifests in all areas of my life, but I do have the knack, and I have a hard time leaving someone out, so it often comes out in my tone.

2. Making quirky, wryly humorous remarks. Some people might say that was an aggravating flaw, but you can't deny that it sticks out. In a public role, it tends to entertain people.

3. I am easily moved. I typically get all choked up when someone graduates, sings, or crosses a finish line against all odds. Certain music brings me to weeping. I suppose I am still sensitive to the beauty in the world, including the beauty of beating out odds and throwing oneself against a noble task.

4. I am self-deprecating as all get-out. Another item that could be placed in the annoying category. Sorry, sorry.

5. I see beauty in mundane things. This is one of the reasons that I couldn't give up photography even when painting wasn't working for me; I need to capture what I am seeing. I cherish nearly everything. One of the biggest compliments that I ever got was from one of my students after she saw my Flickr site - "It's as if you appreciate ... everything!" Yes, it's true.

6. I have a glowing smile, apparently. I have a hard time judging this for myself, but I do feel a heady joy at times. I do light up. Sometimes I like to go by Joy! It's how I prefer to live life when I am not bitching and complaining.

7. I have a subtle and literate sense of humor. Can you tell? I am always delighted when I meet someone of a similar bent. Okay, okay, sometimes it is very punny too.

8. I was raised to exercise my artistic creativity and out of mainstream culture. When I say mainstream, I'm talking about middle class America values. My parents didn't want us to live with a tv in the house. They thought we should be free to exercise our creativity without resorting to pre-defined parameters. So no coloring books, just lots of blank paper. No tv, but lots of books and stories. Lot of outdoor playing in the yard and dead-end street. I guess it gave me an appreciation for thinking out of the lines.

9. I don't like tv as a daily part of my consciousness. I enjoy pop culture in moderation, and I like a good story, but I can't stand the tv culture of sound bite journalism and fast flashy cuts. Too much of it makes me feel a little ill. I'd rather be out walking, or dancing, or reading, or writingpaintingthinkingcookingcreating. I've seen maybe a third of an episode of the series Friends and none of any reality show, and I so don't care. Yes, I am odd.

10. I'm enthusiastic. I know it's considered uncool to show any enthusiasm about anything, but I really don't care. If I like something or find it worthy of interest, I'll point it out, rave about it, savor it. Life is good. Enthusiasm rocks! Whoo!

'Tis The Season

'Tis the season for relentless ads and desperately enticing sales. 'Tis the season for tinny schlocky music drifting or blaring out of any sound system. 'Tis the season for expectations of gifts and I-Deserve-This and I've-Been-Very-Good.

'Tis the season for extra calories and red-and green-wrapped or candy-striped goodies of dubious merit. 'Tis the season of lights and candles. 'Tis the season of shopping among the over-heated press of other shoppers.

'Tis the season for want and guilt and desperation and exasperation. 'Tis the season for bills and budgets and spending over one's means. 'Tis the season for fearing to disappoint.

'Tis the season of hand-made decorations and piping children's voices. 'Tis the season for snuggling and and hot chocolate or tea. 'Tis the season for singing the old tunes, the old lyrics, the ancient pagan celebration married to an old story.

'Tis the season for rhymes and stories, verses and readings. 'Tis the season for making cookies with children, of smearing the frosting and spilling the sprinkles.

'Tis the season for raising a toast and getting tipsy on mulled wine or eggnog with rum. 'Tis the season for friends and parties, plays and concerts, pageants and silent meditations.

'Tis the season for ethereal choruses and arrangements of strings and horns. 'Tis the season for Gramma-Got-Run-Over-By-A-Reindeer.

'Tis the season for remembering our losses, remembering those in need. 'Tis the season for wrapping paper and icicles. 'Tis the season for oh-g-d-isn't-it-here/over-yet?

'Tis the season for imperfect manifestations of the heart's yearnings and the light's wanings. Hang in there; Solstice is only eleven days away.