Category Archives: beginning

Week’s End

Dewey captures perfectly the way I feel at the close of this week. As I write he sprawls on the floor, moving only to change lounging positions.

This week has been full of beginning and ending and celebrating which all adds up to exhaustion. If I were a dog, I would have the answers to life’s complexities. Just sprawl out and sleep.

Steve began his new job and the kids entered their last week of school. We adjusted the routine that had served us well all year. I am grateful it was only one week of adjusting. That was disruptive enough!

In the fall when we begin again, things will look different. I keep reminding myself that it will not always be this way. It will not always be my husband’s first week at a new job and my kids last week at school.

There will not always be the transition of an adult moving out while the youngest excitedly anticipates her double digit birthday. I will probably always dread my birthday, somewhat, though. And life will always be full.

Much fullness converged this week in the form of awards assemblies and final projects for my school-age kids. The youngest was home with me as we tried to find some sort of a groove while preparing for our shared birthday.

My husband began a new work schedule which left me in the role of solo home front manager getting kids to and from school. We were reminded of the need to communicate better, as the old morning routine we had settled into no longer served us well.

I was reminded of how I always think I will find the magic solution to make all of life feel wonderful when in reality I have to learn to live in the tension. That is a constant process.

I need to learn to bask in the patch of sunlight even if everything around me is a mess. Dewey illustrates this so well on the floor of my room moving from place to place and hunkering down.

This is the last morning before summer break officially begins when I pick up the kids from school at noon. It finds me in the aftermath of a birthday celebration and a day full of goodness and surprises.

It also finds me in a bit of chaos. My temptation is to try to do everything to fix it all immediately which is unrealistic. So instead of doing all of the things, I am sitting and writing, inspired by a small dog who is now curled into a ball close to his grandpa’s flip-flops.

Week’s end reminds me of all of the grace that gone before and behind and surrounded me during this transition. There is much more to write, but for now I will say, Happy Weekend! Enjoy the start of Summer Break!

Hello, New Beginning

May I use the picture if I write a blog post today?

Yep

Our text exchange took place at 6:20, after my man left for his first day at the new job. He is excited. I am anxious. Change is exciting. Change is scary. Change is here.

I thought he had already left when I woke at 6:00. Monday mornings are early ones for him now, and, kindly, this is the last Monday of the school year. A decent morning school day routine has evolved over the past nine months, and I still had a few minutes in my room alone before engaging the morning, solo.

A tapping at the door startled me as I was making up the bed. Opening it a crack, anticipating one of the kids entering, I saw the mug of coffee before the arm carrying it.

I thought you had already left!

I grabbed my phone to snap a picture as he said, Take a picture of me.

So here it is. The first day picture.

Movement towards this new beginning had been difficult and kind and has taken years of preparation. Small steps have gotten us ready for larger ones. Sitting in this space of writing and reflecting, I am aware that the anxiety I feel comes from a younger place inside of me.

Just as I took my 19 year old self to Certificate 2 training last month, my 20 year old self is in there, newly married, newly pregnant, newly graduated from college. Changes on the horizon felt big and scary to her and choices made during that summer season affected the next 25 years of her life.

This new beginning is a gift. It is a gift to be aware of the root of my (seemingly irrational) fear and over-responsibility surrounding my husband’s new job. It is his, not mine, and he will be great at it. I do not have to walk in fear over how his day is going.

This is another season of growth for me. It feels embarrassing to admit the places where I am developmentally behind. In this case, it is in stepping out into the unknown and trusting that things will work out. It is watching my husband do something completely unrelated to what I know and bearing witness to his growth and success. It is finding my own places to grow and succeed.

It is celebrating all of the goodness that the past 25 years has brought to us and looking ahead to the next 25 with eagerness about what will come. We do not know what tomorrow holds, but for today, there is a new beginning.

In Between

I am in the middle of the in between. It is a week I have referenced and talked about for two months in various conversations. Now it is here.

Friday was the final day of my husband’s (and if we are totally honest here, mine, as well) 25 year career. No, I was not in attendance all of those days, but I was present for many. I offered behind-the-scenes support. I was affected by early-morning and late-night calls and texts. We were both all in.

Now we are both all in between.

On June 4 Steve begins his new job. Many have asked what’s next?  He will be a salesman with Valley RoofingWhat about me? I still do not know, though the mothering and home management part of my day take quite a bit of time and energy.

I am confident that the right paying job will present. For now it is summer, school is out, and the best way for me to help with making money is not to spend it. That is easier said than done.

This entire transition has been a complete walk of faith. The past 25 years have been a walk of faith, as well, but stepping out into the unknown in this stage of life has taken courage. It is a decision not made easily or lightly, but it was time.

There was much behind-the-scenes work leading up to this in between place. Many conversations, feelings, lists. When my two cons were fear of the unknown and finances, I knew it was not enough to stay with the status quo.

The ending has been kind, the in between a gift. Walking the dog together this morning, we reflected on the fact that we have never had a season of just us. It has always been us plus all of the responsibilities. 

We have accepted that we will never escape responsibility. We have grieved the loss of our youth. Watching our young adults navigate their individual worlds has given us perspective and more words for what we did not have at their ages. These days together this week have given hope for what is possible. For what we do have.

We have a rich life.

This week we savor a space that is not completely ours. It has never been. Little Mae finished school last Friday, and our 19 year old moves out next week. We laughed that we have the youngest of each bunch of babies home with us.

We also have the dog and cat. We are never alone.

I will hold these final in between days as the gift that they are. I will embrace the laughter and tears that spontaneously erupt and slow down to walk to the ducks or watch a movie together at a completely irresponsible time of day. I will celebrate what was and what is to come, rejoicing in the great faithfulness that has brought us to this place.

In between.

Begin Again

Today finds me preparing to leave for Training Certificate, Level 2 which begins Thursday morning at 8:00 check-in. The road to this next step has not been without its bumps, and many are surprised to hear that I am doing this.

I didn’t know you were planning to do Level 2. 

Wow! That came up fast!

What are you doing again?

I was more vocal about my goal two years ago, when I applied for Level 1 and began the process. Stepping into the unknown, many stepped in with me, and the support was tangible and felt. I was, and still am, so grateful for that.

When I began this work, I was not aware of more, and at the time, there was not more.  Isn’t there always more, though? In this case, more looks like being in the second cohort to do this continued training in trauma narrative story work.

The opportunity presented when enrollment opened last fall, and I applied. That led to next, which I wrote about here.

Meanwhile there are the logistics. There has been such kind provision for this next step. I had a little over $800 left in my education fund after last year’s work. I used $500 to apply and then had a remainder of $1,800 left to pay in two installments. The first was due at the beginning of January.

I took the $300 that was left and rolled the dimes. That gave me $370. There was a $27 purchase I had made of something unnecessary that I returned, bringing the total to $397. Then, unexpectedly, I was given a check for $500. This gave me $897. I felt overwhelmed and content with *almost* enough, when that afternoon my daughter asked if I could do something for her, and she would pay me $5.

By the end of the day I had $902.  Just enough. A little extra.

As I embark on my journey tomorrow, I know that there is enough for this session, and there will be enough for the next. I just have to take one step at a time.

This time looks like driving instead of flying, while staying overnight on the way there and back with a friend to break up the drive. The training takes place outside of Chicago, so it’s not as far to travel. An unexpected change in lodging plans happened when I woke Saturday morning to the news that my Air BnB host had unexpectedly died, cancelling my reservation.

Thankfully, I was able to book another place that looks equally nice, or nicer, and it didn’t happen while I was a guest!

Preparation looks like leaving meals planned out and groceries in the house. It’s making sure everyone knows where they will be and when. It’s packing my suitcase and finishing my reading and printing out the story I plan to take.

Thank you for your thoughts and prayers as I embark on this week. It will be an adventure, for sure! I look forward to learning more about engaging stories and about road-tripping solo.

In no particular order.

Resisting Routine

I am pondering and exploring my struggle with routine, namely, my resistance to it. I know that if I were teaching right now I would be reading to my students as they ate a snack. We would then pack up and spend fifteen minutes preparing for the school day to officially begin. From there the day would roll on in blocks of time, each with a specified task, until the end.

I am good with an others-imposed work routine. I know the benefits of following a plan to accomplish the things. It allows you to focus on what is being done in the present with the assurance that the next things will get done in their time. This saves physical and mental energy.

The struggle is with self-structure. I am a finite person with limited resources and must choose the best way to use them when there are so many good ways. And there are teachers. I am abundantly familiar with online and print teachers and coaches who encourage the use of personal routines.

The challenge is in the doing and the practice.

As I type the above sentence, I am struck with what I lack, and that is practice. Much of my life has been spent in overdrive, rushing from thing to thing with little intentionality. When others-imposed requirements are in place, I can follow those. If they are required to collect a paycheck, all the better.

When it comes to ordering my personal time or working on things to benefit myself, plans become muddled. This keeps me frozen and stuck and often at the mercy of others and their routines.

Once upon a time I stood in the kitchen of a new friend with my seven children scattered around. I felt like the biggest poser as she asked me questions about homeschooling (I didn’t) and home management (What’s that?).

At the time I was in a stay at home season. I had discovered Flylady somewhere online, and she rang familiar from my childhood with a mom who was a self-proclaimed SHE. I mentioned Flylady to my friend, most likely to have some sort of answer for her. As much as I tried to keep my home, there were more pressing matters like lots of children to keep.

Years passed.

Last fall we sat together in my living room, reconnecting intentionally to catch up. She had big changes on the horizon. During the course of our conversation she mentioned Flylady in a laughing way, something or another about not keeping up.

She reminded me that I was the one who had told her about Flylady. This reminded me about the whole others bearing witness to our lives thing (just now I typed withness and find that slip interesting.) I felt a mixture of shame and embarrassment at the woman I was who felt a need to share a system with someone rather than be okay with not knowing what I was doing or how I was doing it.

Maybe that is at the root of my resistance. Systems. For years in the midst of my overwhelm and wandering, the answer was always to find a system. The right chore charts, vitamin regimen, exercise plan, date night, home organization system was the answer. These treated symptoms but not root causes.

Having spent years addressing root causes and sorting through the beautiful disruption, it is time to rebuild. I am facing honestly my need for some sort of a routine, no matter how I may resist. I have come to the place where I know it is not the answer but a tool I am ready to learn to use.

So this new year finds me trying to imagine what a consistent daily and weekly routine might look like, with the understanding that even the best laid plans need room for flexibility. What about you, Dear Reader? Do you follow a set routine or plan? What inspires you to stay focused? What gets you off track? I am pondering these thoughts more as I continue moving forward in this new season of life. I would love to hear what works for you! Or not!

Staying Connected

As 2017 winds down and I ponder changes on the horizon, one of the biggest is finding and working out a balance between virtual and real life connection. On the one hand, the blog’s link to social media offers a broad base of connection with readers. It gives opportunity for liking and sharing. On the other, it provides too many windows for me to look through, inviting much distraction.

Many times I have considered deactivating my personal Facebook account but then hesitated due to the prospect of losing that connection with readers. There is some tidying I plan to do in the new year, but I am not sure exactly how it will look. I am fairly confident it will involve rearranging social media.

That said, if you wish to stay in the blog loop and have not done so already, please consider signing up to receive email notifications of new posts. Should I do some deleting and shifting and moving, I would love to have you along for the ride. I at least want to have given you fair warning.

This April will mark five years since the beginning. My blog, like other parts of my story, is evolving and finding its place in the world. I am looking at where it has been and where it is to see where it might be going.

I feel grateful for those of you who already faithfully read and encourage me to keep writing. I am grateful to those of you who like and follow the Facebook Page. From the beginning, I have wanted this to be a place where people choose to come and read and be met right where they are.

I am thankful for all of you who have done just that.

So as you read and engage and ponder your own changes coming into the new year, consider how you may want to stay connected, and know that I value each of you and what you bring to my cyber, and real, life.

Blessings, Friends!

Midweek Musings

It is day three of my new normal. The kids are in school for a few more hours. The house is silent. I am shifting and settling into something that might eventually resemble a routine, just not yet.

When I was teaching, I would give myself three weeks to a month before making a judgment on whether the year was working or not. It always ended up working just the way it was supposed to. Adjusting takes time.

I am adjusting.

Rising early to get the day started with the family, without the added pressure of getting myself somewhere on time has been a pleasant adjustment. Learning the new kitchen dance of school mornings, without the demand of getting everyone out the door like a well-oiled machine, has made things more calm and less chaotic.

This year we are in three different schools, down from our record of five. We drop off and pick up this batch of kids, the ones who were babies when their elder siblings were riding buses. While you cannot do over, you can choose to do differently. You can also have conversations about how others were affected by the choices you made.

Lots of those hard conversations are happening now that I have more unstructured time. No two, or eight, children grow up in the same family. I am adjusting to hearing truth and experiences shared with me from all of the perspectives, as the next generation steps up into the shoes of the first, and the first navigates adulthood. It looks a lot different this go around, especially as there are no infants, toddlers, and preschoolers in the equation.

The first two hours of my day focus on getting people fed and where they belong. When I arrive home after the final drop-off, Dewey eagerly runs to his leash, ready for a morning walk. This has become the beginning of a routine for us, as I walk him and think about the day. Sometimes a sister calls, or I call a sister (or daughter).

I am working out the time at home between drop-off and pick-up. I still have a brain racing to think of all of the things, when it really needs to slow down. I am practicing slow. I am not getting to all of the things. I get to some. I am learning things about myself that cannot be learned at breakneck speed.

This is where I am. I am grateful for the space to figure out what is next and the gift of learning to be more present in what is now.

How about you, Dear Readers? Where does this start of the new school season find you?

Silence and Stirring

As 2016 wound down, I waited for 2017’s word to come. And waited. And wondered.

What will this year’s focus be?

There was no clear-cut text or email message sent forth to reveal like last year. Only silence and stirring.

As thoughts and words and themes emerged, I wrote them down. I journaled and read and re-read and prayed.

God, what do you have for me this year? This is hard! I am so tired.

That is the thing. This year of restore looked and felt nothing like what I thought it would. To restore a piece of wooden furniture, you first strip it down. Using chemicals or sand paper, old finishes are scraped off and removed. Old fabric is torn off of upholstered furniture that is being restored.

Scraping, removing, tearing.

This year has taken me and my heart to this place. The scraping, removing, tearing off part of restoration.

What now?

A list began to emerge. Words. Themes.


grace
stay
trust
no
be
continue


Each of these felt valid and good, yet still not the word I was trying to find.

More waiting. More themes.

Continue resonated deepest. In a practical sense, I am halfway through the certificate program and need to continue the work there. Celebrating a milestone marriage marker next week reminded me to continue on the journey with my spouse, even through the difficult seasons of struggle. Parenting four children, still. Enough said.

continue ~ persist in an activity or process

Synonyms include ongoing, continuous, sustained, persistent, steady, relentless, rolling, uninterrupted, unabating, unremitting, unrelieved, unceasing. All relate to how life feels these days.

Another word, one not on the original list came into focus.

persist ~ continue firmly or obstinately in an opinion or a course of action in spite of difficulty, opposition, or failure

Synonyms include continue, hold, carry on, last, keep on, keep up, remain, linger, stay, endure

I found my word. I knew it would come, and it did.

This is my year to persist.

How about you, Dear Readers? What is your focus this year?

Whatever it is, Happy New Year! May you persist in the work God is calling you to and find joy on this leg of your journey.

Scenes From Seattle, part 1

Because I have used up my 1,000 words, here are some pictures.

welcomeNothing says Welcome like chocolate. And an owl lamp.

restMy cozy resting place. I slept like a baby. Or maybe like a 2 year old. Either way, it was lovely.

img_5323The laptop I barely opened in the corner I loved.

img_5324Redemption truly does come in the strangest of places.

morning walkWalking to school.

The Seattle SchoolMy place.

coloringSo glad I decided to forgo packing all of the books and brought the colored pencils instead.

attachmentTaking notes in blue.

groupWhat I can share about group.

img_5340The ferry that I didn’t ride but watched come and go.

RestaurantChowder.

img_5347The precious people who loved me so very well all weekend. I love them.

img_5348Now I see my children not only in baristas, servers, and valets but also in street musicians. Of course I put money in the can in exchange for the picture!

Before

It’s the last night before. Tomorrow begins the first leg of the journey to after.

It seems that I should have really profound posts written and scheduled, but I just don’t. I have a suitcase almost packed and a satchel almost packed and a stack of cards and thoughtful gifts left by dear ones walking this road with me.

There are memories, so many, being made with the people in this house who need me more than cyberspace needs me. So instead of writing I drive through DQ and McD’s and take Dewey on an extra-long, three squat walk with the littlest girls.

I walk our downtown streets at sunset with a son who towers over me, a bag of Windy City Mix popcorn shared between us. We talk and reminisce of how this journey began to come into focus for me, and his key role, because he had one. His excitement for me offers courage to my fainting heart. His upcoming travels around the world remind me that I can do these trips across the country.

Messages come in from children and friends on social media sites. People remember that this is the first trip, and they care.

I am shocked and overwhelmed by care.

So many people are loving, praying, encouraging.

It is so humbling.

I am so blessed.

So I hit publish on this to give you a quick glimpse into before before spending time with my favorite. He is the one I will miss the most, who is working so hard and doing so much to support me and make this year of training happen.

Did I say how blessed I am?