Well, it's a pretty complicated question. If you would have asked me last week, I'd have a completely different answer than today.
Here's the story...
My whole adult life, I've been driven. I never enjoyed being in the present moment - to me, it was uncomfortable. I had SO many things to look forward to!
Then, Ella was born. I wanted to stay in the present moment constantly, but with so many years of intense goal-planning and accomplishing, I couldn't.
My dad suggested meditation. I thought I could never do it, because my mind moves a trillion miles a minute. It made me nervous, because being still made me uncomfortable.
Are you seeing a pattern?
So, two years ago, I went on a yoga and meditation retreat. For the first time in my life, I truly meditated. I also truly relaxed. I wrote at least 40 pages in my journal that weekend and vowed that I would change my ways. Well, I did...for about 3 months. Then, I slowly stopped meditating (except for maybe once a month). I was just too busy.
I had lost it. . . or so I thought.
I went to the same retreat last weekend. By the halfway point, I was nervous. I had 0 pages of journal writing and it wasn't having the effect it did on me the first time. "Was this a waste of time and money?" I asked myself.
Then, we had an exercise. You had to draw a piece of paper out of a basket and reflect on it for 15 minutes and then share your reflections with a partner. I didn't choose this question...it chose me.
It hit me...hard. I realized why the retreat wasn't having the same effect on me. I thought I had failed the lessons from the last retreat, but I was just working on them in my own way.
This blog is one of those ways. I'm trying to appreciate every minute of life - good or bad, not say "Yes" to things I want to say "No" to, be a positive force in other people's lives, be a patient mom and just generally breathe in life.
I had an emotional conversation with the retreat leader. She wouldn't take credit, because without the work I'd done, I wouldn't be where I am. But, without her, I wouldn't have known what to work on.
Most importantly, I had an answer to that question I pulled out of the basket: I am becoming the woman I hoped to become two years earlier.
I didn't seen it happening, but it did. I enjoy life now, I slow down and I'm happy. Couldn't ask for much more...
We're getting a reputation. Kids are wanting to come to our house and sleep over. Parents are wanting recipes.
Yeah, it has nothing to do with us. Just our pretzels.
We love making pretzels.
I always know when life is getting to hectic: When we haven't made pretzels in awhile. They are a little labor intensive, but they are SO worth it.
We made some recently on a perfectly lovely Saturday night with nothing else to do. We made pretzels and played a game of Life.
It's a great process...You make the dough and let it rise. Then, we get to shape them. Always fun!! Ella loves this part....who wouldn't?
Then, you boil them in water with baking soda and bake them. See what I mean? Labor intensive...
Here's what they look like:
Sorry, I can't resist the close-up...I love these things.
Once they come out of the oven, you can dress them any way you'd like.
Our favorite ways:
I have a new goal: More pretzels nights!
Dear Easter Bunny,
In case you read my blog, I need to tell you that I have a very concerned little girl on my hands.
She's 7 1/2. She's getting to that age....you know the age I'm talking about. She's very worried about Easter.
I'm sure you know this, but every year, she leaves you carrots. She was shocked last year when you left pieces of the carrots that led her right to her basket. By the way, next time please make sure you close the door - we actually had a snow drift IN our dining room when we woke up.
But, this isn't about the snow drift in my dining room (on my hardwood floors!!). No, it's about Ella.
You see, we will not be at home on Easter morning. We will be up North in Presque Isle, where Ella's grandpa lives. She is very concerned that you won't know this.
She is going to leave you a map, but I thought I better put it here too....just in case.
So, if you could, please make sure you hop on up to Presque Isle this Easter. It just might make me happier than her, but she'll never know it.
"Mom, whenever you want to run, just tell me and I'll be into it." That is a direct quote.
So, one day, I took her up on it.
Greg came with us to watch and walk Mojo (who wasn't allowed on the track).
This is a great picture, because it showed about the only time we actually ran together. It was about a 3 minute span. I couldn't keep up with Ella. She ran SO fast and then had to walk. So, I'd follow her, then pass her; follow her, then pass her. Then, she got bored and started running in circles, backwards, zig-zag...you name it.
But, we were doing it together and we had fun.
I knew we wouldn't be compatible runners. I've been training since December for a half marathon and just ran 7 miles the weekend before. Ella's been participating in a walking-running club at lunch, but hasn't quite built up endurance yet. I decided I'd run slow with her, then she left me in her dust!
So, I told her, "Ella, if you ever want to go running again, just let me know and I'll be into it."
Ugh. Another cleaning job. You know I don't like to clean. But, I have a room to create in and I might as well keep it clean. It's also my meditation room, so if it's not clean, it's annoying. Ok, I'm going in.
As I dusted and organized, I found so many things I wanted to work on! There were so many unfinished projects!
There were things to paint...
Things to fold and cut and make pretty...
And things to crochet...
Oohhh the tools I have to inspire me! Paint brushes...
And... the very center of my craft-room universe! My sewing machine.
Oh my! What's this? I forgot about this fabric! I bought this with the hopes of sewing a purse. Hmmmm.....you'll be seeing this fabric again soon, but it will be looking different!
Cleaning sure stinks, but the inspiration was worth it!
Thanks to my brother and sister-in-law, Ella is a techno-kid. She always has the latest gadgets and gizmos.
We were watching a movie the other night, when we realized that she became very quiet. Too quiet. What is she up to?
She was still in the room, but she wasn't watching the TV.
She was just sitting there listening to her ipod.
Before, if she was bored, she'd start asking us to play a game or make her a snack. It was actually a little annoying, because the movies she was bored watching were ones we really liked. They were also dialog-rich movies, and playing the game of LIFE didn't lend itself to getting emotionally lost in a movie.
But...not now. Now, she sits there quietly. I'm impressed that she still wants to hang out with us, even if she isn't into what we were doing.
I'm also impressed at how she picks up technology. I have an ipod too, and she's teaching me how to use it.
I'm not kidding.
I'd never know how to do this with my ipod:
I'm glad she's willing to share her knowledge!
To me the most rewarding part of parenting is learning from my daughter. She has so much to teach me, and I have so much to learn. It goes both ways...I guess that's why we like hanging out with each other so much.
Whenever Ella has a friend over for dinner, it always catches me off guard. I mean, I can handle feeding another kid, but it's the emotional kick in the gut I don't expect.
When Greg and I met and fell in love, we both knew how many kids we wanted - three. It seemed like the perfect number.
We waited to have kids until we were both educated and employed. Ready, set.....wait.
It didn't turn out as planned. We tried. We lost. We tried again. We lost again. We tried yet again and lost yet again.
Then, we had Ella. Wonderful Ella.
We even lost one more after Ella.
So, every night I set the table for three. It's been almost 8 years now that our table has been set for three, and I feel lucky and blessed.
It's just funny how it all comes back when I set it for four. It makes me wonder what it would have been like setting it for four or five every night these past several years.
It's also funny how at the end of the meal I'm usually happy we only have Ella! The last time she had a friend over for dinner, the friend smelled her dinner and said, "This smells weird." Nice.
So, things turn out as they are supposed to turn out. I always think of the Cheryl Crow song that says, "It's not having what you want, it's wanting what you've got."
I'll leave it at that today.
I was told from a very young age that I am an 'old soul.' I've also heard since Ella could talk that she is also an 'old soul.'
We recently had a talk about what that means.
Ella had a friend over for dinner who proceeded to list her friends in order of favorites...Ella's name never came up. As i watched Ella's face drop into sadness, I could tell that the friend had no idea what she was doing.
That night, I explained that she sees things other kids don't see, because she's an old soul. She thinks about things differently and processes things differently.
She sort-of understood, but not completely. She felt proud of it, because it made her different.
I explained that I thought it added tremendously to my life, but it also brought on increased heartache. You feel positive things intensely, but you also feel sad things intensely.
We didn't talk about it again until Ella wrote this card for one of her friends:
If you can't read it, it says (I fixed the spelling below):
"Happy B-day Clara. My little angel has actually turned 7. I do not believe it, you are growing like crazy!! Love, Ella"
Now, maybe it's common for kids to write this kind of thing to other kids, but Ella has never received a card like this.
She explained to me how she liked to write something sentimental in the card so that her friend would know how special she is to Ella. "That," I said, "Is what an old soul would do."
The first day of Spring....we've been looking forward to it.
We woke up to birds singing and animals at the feeders.
Lilies are emerging from the ground...
Buds are on all the branches...
And the picnic necessities are ready to go...
Ok, so Winter is not going down without a fight. That's alright. This little winter storm wannabe isn't getting me down. I know how to go to weather.com. I can see 50's in my future. Regardless of this little covering of white, HAPPY SPRING!!
I didn't have many expectations for guinea-pig ownership.
It's pretty much the same routine every day: Fresh veggies and hay in the morning, fresh veggies, pellets and hay in the evening, clean the cage once a week.
We call 'Her Royal Highness Princess Cinnamon' the Pig for short. Similar, right?
One rule when Ella got the Pig, we told her that she'd have to take her out of the cage at least once a day for 15 minutes. The Pig is not a run-around Pig. She just wants to be held.
A living, breathing creature that just wants to be held? Could be the perfect little creature for me.
When I hold the Pig, I'm relaxed. She just likes to hang out. I thought of those studies that showed owning a cat can lower your blood pressure. I bet that would apply to guinea pigs too. Well, at least our Pig.
Another great thing about our Pig, is that she has the best manners. She's never done her 'business' on us (if you get what I'm sayin'), she's never bitten us and she never tries to run away.
Quite a lovely Pig indeed. Maybe it's her royal name? She really is a princess.