Thursday, October 30, 2014

My Carpet of Gold

I love the sound of leaves crunching under my feet. I love to feel them up against my legs as I walk through a pile of them. I prefer to have socks on to avoid as much itchiness as possible . . . but some days, unplanned walks in the woods are the very best thing for the soul.

I've mentioned before how blessed I am to live where we live - not only because we are in the Midwest (which welcomes the seasons of winter, spring, summer and fall with open arms), but because we are just minutes away from a most lovely nature forest preserve.

It is heavenly.

I find myself taking a drive through it weekly . . . just turning down the street that leads straight into the path of peace . . . more often than not. Mostly without even realizing what I am doing. During many of these afternoon drives, I pull over and step out into the quiet for a quick walk, to just . . . breath.

Sometimes I get my best deep breaths of air - in those woods.

It's kind of like my heaven on earth.

It's quiet there. No phones ringing, no commotion, no one asking me where I am going, where I have been, what I am doing. No canvases to paint. No dinners to cook. No ornaments to make. No laundry to fold. No jobs to search for, or money to worry about. Just me, the trees, and the air. And an occasional squirrel.

Sometimes I close my eyes and listen to the sounds around me. Sometimes I look at the shapes of leaves and branches up close - to study their lines and wonder and their structure. Sometimes I look for birds or any sign of wildlife. Sometimes I pray - short little sentences of gratitude for the day and for my life. But every time I am there, I breath in and out. Deep long breaths. And I often feel as if the toxins of life leave me each exhale.

The air.

It's healing.

Katie and I drove through a few weeks ago. The trees were still packed with just turned leaves, and the sounds of them dancing around on their branches greeted us.

Today, a carpet of freshly laid gold was waiting for me . . . it was beautiful.

Standing there, it was as if the season was changing before my eyes, as more and more leaves fell off their branches and found their final resting place on my feet. 

I can't believe how fast the days are passing. It's so cliché - to mention how quickly time is moving - isn't it? So I won't . . . I won't mention it any longer. 

I will say, however, that this is truly my favorite time of year. I love the feelings of comfort that come over me as fall arrives. When the smell of a pumpkin spice candle lingers in the air at home, and the evening chill brings frost on our lawn each morning.

I'm most grateful that I am focusing on these little moments this year. The leaves at my feet. The frost on our lawn. And writing. I am so glad to be writing more again. I seem to be ending this month with 8 new blog posts (yay!), which is the most I have written since January. And I feel like I am finding my voice again. 

Tomorrow, the peaceful moment of today will be long gone, as we are hosting a Halloween Party at home full of great food, fun relatives and friends, and lots of fun. But it's all good . . . all of the chaos and craziness is worth every single moment. 

Because I know . . . next week . . . I can come right back here.

To my Carpet of Gold.

For a little bit longer, at least.

Wishing you wonderful golden carpet moments, my friends.

And lots of peace.


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Sometimes . . . I forget

It's been a busy, and chaotic couple of days here in our house. 

Busy with school activities, Girl Scouts, swimming, broken lawn mowers, doctor visits for coughs that just won't quite, business trips for daddy, art classes for mommy, and a whole bunch of other things that I have already filed in that 'short term memory' box days ago. 

In the midst of all of that, I've been trying my best to be a good mom. You know, the kind who stops what she is focused on when she has a moody 6th grader who needs some love. Or the kind who stops cooking dinner and plays school with her 2nd grader when she needs to. 

You know, that good kind of mom. 

I am not always that kind of mom, though. Because sometimes . . . I just . . . forget. 

I forget that it is hard to be 11 and 7.

It really, really is.

It's hard when your body is changing, when your emotions are going up and down and you can't even begin to understand why you feel this way - like no one understands you. It is hard when you feel like you don't have a friend in the world, and when you feel like you have no one to tell your secrets to. (We all need someone to tell our secrets to.)  It's hard when you feel so overwhelmed by band and swimming and math and religious ed and all the other school work and responsibilities. Or when your sister just doesn't want to play with you when you want to play with her. So instead of playing, you do whatever you can to PRESS her buttons - because you know just what to do to make her mad. It's hard when you are being told to do this, or do that, but really don't want to do any of it. When all of a sudden you are expected to act like such a grown up and have good grades and go to practice and be nice to your sister . . . when inside you want to just want to be a kid - like, a little little kid - and not have to do any of it. When you just want to color, or watch Dora, or crawl up on your moms lap, like you used to a few years ago. Yes, that is what you really want. Although right now, you are almost too big to crawl in moms lap . . . and sometimes that makes you sad. Yes. It is hard. And sometimes . . . I forget.

The age of 11 and 7. 

Yes, I forget that. 

So these days, I am trying to remember. Trying to stop my head from constantly thinking about all the 'life happenings' on our family plate, and just focus on my daughters. 

I've been spending a lot of time thinking about the kind of mom I want to be to them - not only now, but when they are older. The kind that believes in them, that encourages a life of adventure and independence. One that will provide guidance, but will do my very best to support their choices - because it is, after all, their choices. I will never make either of them responsible for me or Phil - never. I will be a parent that will constantly remind them of the things that matter in this life (love, health, faith, dreams) and try to discourage them from what doesn't matter (materialism, anger, gossip.) One that will cheer them on where ever they are, when ever they need it, and hold them up when they fall. We are human. We all fall, at one time or another. And they will fall. But I will be there. Yes, that is the type of parent I want to be. One like that. 

Katie already talks about college - can you believe it? (And this is strictly her own doing.) She dreams, already, of attending the University of Arizona (she fell in love with Arizona when we vacationed there, and knows her auntie and uncle plan to retire there - so she hopes to school there and be near them when she is older.) I encourage her to go . . . to fly where ever the wind takes her . . . to follow her dreams whatever they may be.  While I don't wish for them to grow quickly . . . I can not WAIT to see where they go in this life, these girls of mine. I can't wait to watch them blossom into beautiful adults, because right now - they are pretty amazing children. 

And now . . . right now . . . I am trying to remember what they need today.  Lots of encouragement, inspiration, feelings of protection, support, and most importantly, love.  

Yes, sometimes, I forget. But I am so grateful when I remember.

Wishing you peace, my friends . . . and times of 'forget' and 'remember'. Because they are both, equally, wonderful. 


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Anatomy of a Refrigerator Door

I have never been one of those "blank" refrigerator door people - no matter how much I want to be, and no matter how much I try to be. There is always something that needs to be there . . . even if it is just one little magnet or piece of life that I want to remember.

But the thing is . . . for me, it is never just one little magnet.

Right now, it's about 18 little magnets. Give or take a few.

I took a look at my chaotic and quite cluttered fridge door the other day, and decided it was time to clean it up.

The only problem . . . was that I couldn't remove thing. Not one single thing.

Because, believe it or not, each and every part of that door means something special. Truly.

So, I decided I should share the Anatomy of my Refrigerator Door with you, my beloved blog friends. Because it is silly, and so something I would do - to "air the dirty laundry" . . . or in this case, "air the fridge door".  Here it is - 1 to 18 - and the meaning behind it all:

  1. Silly Comics . . . given to us by Phil's Aunt Rose, who I absolutely ADORE! The comics are Starbucks related, and since Aunt Rose knows us so well, she knew we would get a kick out of them. She is right! And every time I read them, I laugh. 
  2. Keep Calm and Drink Wine . . . because it is SO us! Saw them up at the dollar section of Target a while ago, and they just had to come home with me. 
  3. Leg Lamp Magnet . . . got this one during a family vacation to Cleveland when we visited the actual "christmas story" house. It is holding up a piece of paper that Aunt Rose gave Katie and Ella that reads "Open Another Door". Not sure what that means, but it made my kids so happy when they received it, that I had to hold on to it. 
  4. Cathy Thorne Magnet . . . absolutely love cartoonist Cathy Thorne (click her name to link to her website) and her Everyday People cartoons. If I could fill my whole refrigerator door with her work, I would. They are adorable and oh-so true! 
  5. Aunt Rose, Phil and Lill . . . photo from a trip to Canada Phil took with his mom and his aunt this year. It makes me happy to see him with these two ladies. They mean so very much to him. 
  6. Frank Lloyd Wright Magnet . . . a little remembrance from a trip Phil and I took to the Arizona Biltmore Hotel in Phoenix years ago. Was a wonderful weekend away!
  7. I Love Lucy! . . . because I DO LOVE Lucy! Can't remember where I ever got it (probably from Phil or my sister), but I LOVE IT! 
  8. LIFE . . . truly, one of the best reminders I have ever read about doing with you love in your life. I read it often. My favorite line in it : LIVE YOUR DREAM. 
  9. One of my Magnets . . . to remind myself of what I am capable of. 
  10. Katie's "Rock Star" Magnet . . . that she bought herself during a trip to Six Flags a few years ago. I leave it there to remind her that she IS a Rock Star! 
  11. Fan Magnet . . . from the Impressionists exhibit at the Art Institute a few years ago. Loved the exhibit and this little reminder makes me smile. 
  12. Ella's Seasonal Artwork . . . this time, it's fall leaves. I love to see her little drawings on there. She is so sweet, my Ella bella. 
  13. Kelly Rae magnet . . . reminds me of what I can be. 
  14. Isabel Eaton magnet . . . from my dear friend, the artist Isabel Eaton. I won this when she was having a give away years ago, and it is so precious to me . . . I will always have it on my fridge! 
  15. Aquarium Photo . . . taken in February 2010, when Ella was 3 years old. This was the day when we lost Ella in the Aquarium. Yep. We did. For a few minutes. But it was a day I will never forget. And this photo will be on every fridge I own for as long as I can have it. . . (you can read about the story that day at this old blog post here.) 
  16. Chocolate Magnet . . . because it reminds me of the day I met a real-life Willie Wonka!!! (Or, someone as close to the real-life Willie Wonka.) It also reminds me of the day when I took candy from a stranger. Yes, you can read about this story at this old blog post, if you'd like. 
  17. Clip . . . because there is always something that needs to be hanging from the fridge. Always. 
  18. New York Subway Magnet . . . specifically one that leads to Little Italy. Because Little Italy is beyond special to Phil and I (and the exact place we went to for dinner the night we got engaged in New York - those many years ago). 
So that is it, my friends. the Anatomy of Our Refrigerator Door. It's been fun looking at each piece and reminding myself of the story behind it - and fun to go back through some old blog posts to see what I wrote about. Warms the heart, for sure. 

I wonder if this is what the story of your refrigerator door is, because I am sure many of you have stories - just like mine. 

Next time you grab something from the fridge, take a look at the door and think about what you keep on it. It's kind of fun to remember what makes each of them so special to you.

Wishing you happy memories, dear friends.


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