the season

Our little family has been in a season of change. In the past four months the last of our kids started school, ending my thirteen years of having a little person at home with me all day...I realized unexpectedly I was pregnant...I found out the unexpected but much-wanted baby died...and Anthony transitioned out of his job of the last eleven years. A quarter of our 2014 has been about adjusting to new realities, and not without a touch of whiplash.

It's interesting to me how it has all coincided with this year's transition from summer to fall. Summertime has a feel of brightness and care-freedom and the unscheduled. Then comes autumn where calendars fill back in, all the colors refashion, growing things have to be harvested before they decline, and leaves show their truest colors just before they fall. Our summer seemed to end abruptly and our autumn came fast. I didn't know it would be so. But just weeks before I remember having the thought of how "comfortable" our life was...and it unsettled me.

When had we last dared greatly for something? What was the last thing we had outrageously hoped for? Where had we put the courage to risk an adventure or push towards a dream?

Summertime, with its long days and warm sun and challenge to stay cool, had bemused us into forgetfulness. We'd forgotten what we had planted. We hadn't remembered that time advances - as it should - to the place of allowing our children to learn giving and receiving within community around them; that we can't just hold them to ourselves. We'd tuned out the whisper of always wanting a fourth child because years have passed since our last baby and our lives are so full of the three we have. We'd blocked out how unavoidable grief is, how undeniably a part of life and of loving it is, that it must be gone through. We'd become inattentive to the throb of dreams and passions that still pound within us, and settled for a lot of what-is instead of risking what-could-be.

We'd overlooked that life is all about seasons, and not one of them is here to stay. I imagine in the ground where roots have grown down and become established, nutrients have been gathered, and life has been sustained is probably a pretty warm and comfortable place. But still, there's a choice that must be made in this season: wither and rot or be harvested.

I see through a glass darkly about a lot of life. I don't have answers in the place of so many of my questions, and some days I'd rather that I did. But on this fall day I'm settled into the realities of change, the absolute imperative of it. There's a time for alteration in the landscape, and a necessity to move into the stage of harvesting what's been planted in the garden beds. I turn myself over like a leaf and am thankful that the season-shifting has brought to light our truest colors, even that which has been hard to look at. Because of the season change, where we've been lackadaisical we'd now rather dare. When it would be safer to not take a chance we'd now rather hope. And even if we have to unearth it from down deep we'd rather risk courage.

We can't be afraid of the unknown of what a season will bring. Well, we can be afraid, but we should walk through it anyway, stooping to pick up remembrances - a leaf, a rock, a blade of grass - at every place of discovery. Before we know it, our body temperature has adjusted and we've acclimated to the change. Then we may even realize there's a lot to behold in wonder about the new realities.

And likely just in time for a new season to begin its unfolding...
Thanks, BS.


moving ahead

I've been thinking about what's next for me as I try to build healthy personal and family habits with balance. Since last June I've been making changes and there's definitely desire in me to keep forward momentum. The other day I caught myself looking up a trending "healthy eating plan" (I'm pretty sure we used to call those "diets"). Looking over what I could find out about it (without having to buy the book), my head started to spin and my eyes started to bulge seeing the new language I would have to learn, the new math I would need to cipher with, and the litany of guidelines I'd have to shift into living within. It felt like one giant step into a sort of bondage and away from the freedom I've felt through the process of the last twelve months. Thankfully I had a moment of sobriety and remembered I've made seriously good strides in my eating habits - mostly in learning to really listen to my body and crowd out the junk and replace it with better, both thought and food - and don't feel like I need another "plan" to follow.

So what next, then? What's a forward step? Anthony and I took a bike ride yesterday morning which rounded out thirty miles of biking for me in the last three weeks. (Mostly) I didn't hate it and enjoyed those miles. Thinking on that brought me the spark of inspiration to realize that for this year ahead of healthy-habit-building (which runs from June to June for me), I want to start moving my body (I think we used to call that "exercise"). In the same ways I learned about a healthier way of eating, how my body responds, what it craves, and all of the thought patterns associated with it I want to learn myself as a mover. I have always been sedentary as habit. I mean I'm tough and I'm strong and I don't shy away from hard work, but there's this deeply ingrained aversion to exercise. Maybe it's the chubby girl in me from grade school that huffed and puffed behind almost everyone else running laps in gym class that still hangs out in my head and equates all exercise as being that kind of experience. Whatever it is, I want this year to find ways I like to move (I think that's crucial...if I don't like it, I ain't gonna do it), and then carve out a place for it in my thinking, intentions, and schedule.

I'm asking myself some questions and trying to build a plan on the "right now" answers. I've lived enough life to know change happens and answers to questions we ask ourselves can begin to shift. But how I answer in the now is what I'm basing the NOW plan on:
-What exercise do I already know I like to do? (riding bikes, Wii Fit, dancing with the kids)
-What exercise do I already know I DON'T like to do? (running, walking anywhere without a destination)
-What exercise am I genuinely interested in trying? (yoga, weight training)
-Do I like people to be with me? Or do I prefer to be alone?
-When are realistic times of the week that I will exercise?
-What do I need to move or shift over in my schedule to make the space for it to happen?

We are these amazing creations; spirit, body, mind, and soul. Our whole integrated self needs care. It would be so nice if there were one or two things we could do that cures what ails us, but that's never so. I'd love it if all I needed for health and wellness could be reduced to whether I ate a carrot or a doughnut today, but it can't be. So I'm going to give it the ol' college try of adding consistent exercise into my life these next eleven months. Some days I'll love it. I've loved riding bikes. Some days I'll hate it. Even yesterday, biking the same route for the third time in three weeks, it was HARD for me, like I hadn't done it at all before. But I can do hard things. I can build consistency. Heck, I'm consistently a lot of things I don't necessarily prefer. Now I know, though, that I can also make changes, that I can change.

We'll see what happens.


learning rest

We're learning to rest. Yes we are. That's not the same as the natural function of sleeping, so you have to learn it. It's not automatic, and even less so these days in this world and culture. It's also not escapism. It isn't Candy Crush-ing, Netflix-watching, or facebook-scrolling withdrawal from reality we're practicing. We're learning to rest, to be rest-ored; or to be re-stored, having the most valuable depleted stock on our shelves replenished.

Seriously. We're learning. It's important enough a lesson that we are finally willing to practice it and carve out entire days for it, grasp it, cling onto it; like something of life depends on it.

Some days have looked like us going nowhere, seeing no one, turning nothing but music on and a lamp at dusk. It has looked like sleeping-in, books read and games played, like braided hair and whispered dreams, like prayers uttered and worries put off. It has meant a post-it note left out so that distracting thoughts of to-dos can be thrown down in a drive-by fashion and left for later, out-of-sight-out-of-mind for at least This Day. It's entailed nearly effortless foods so that even meals require little labor. It's meant late-night emptying of the sink and straightening of the living room Yesterday so Today the spaces are inviting and wooing us towards rest.

Everyday that we attempt rest means we willfully stay in Today, don't stew over Yesterday or borrow from Tomorrow. We're resting. We're learning how.

Sometimes the rest keeps us locked in and the world locked out. But sometimes we find it on the outside of our doors. It looks like secret spots and flowing water. It's hidden in shoals and slides made of slippery rock and imaginary miniature worlds built of moss and stone.

In or out, we're learning to rest. In and out, we rest.

We're learning.