December?

Whoops.

I think I accidentally fast forwarded to December.

Allow me to explain: it’s the first snow of the season up here in Gray Duck country. End of explanation. It all spiraled from there.

Last night, in anticipation of the snow (and just the general transition to frigid temperatures), we (I) decided it was time to move the porch furniture inside for the season. That involved shifting a lot of furniture throughout the whole house. But I was determined to get it done because once everything was in its winter position, I could set up the newest addition to our Christmas decorations out on the porch: a giant (fake, obviously) Christmas tree!

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(Our last surviving pumpkin is sitting proudly next to the tree!)

This morning I woke up to snow flurries. The ground was still green, but the snow continued to pick up. It just started to taper now about 6 hours later. We now have a few inches of snow piled up on our deck!

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I wasn’t expecting to be so excited about it! Usually the first snow of the season is kind of depressing. Here we go again. But not this time! This time I was listening to Christmas music while getting ready, thinking about Christmas movies, Christmas cookies, Christmas cards, end of the year calendars, presents for the kidlets. And then I remembered it’s not even Halloween yet.

I don’t even care! I just went for a walk through the gorgeousness, again listening to Christmas music (what up, Mr. Bublé?!), and actually teared up at how incredible it all was.

My parents have been telling me that they’ve noticed something changing in me lately. They’ve seen how thankful I am for everything and how much I appreciate my life. That really struck me today. It’s been a perfect day so far, but it hasn’t been out of the ordinary at all. We usually have the kids on Fridays, but we got today off so I’ve been taking advantage of the free day.

I’ve been able to find something to be grateful for in every situation. And when I’m in that place, I feel it. Deeply.

Isn’t that what I said December (and Christmas) was all about?

But, wait. It’s still October! Happy Halloween, Happy Thanksgiving, and then Merry Christmas!

Screw it!

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

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Extraordinaries

The past 30 or so hours have felt different than what I’ve accepted as normal lately. It’s not that everything has gone perfectly and lived up to every unrealistic expectation I might have. In fact, I think most things have deviated from the “plan.”

But I’ve noticed every single little beauty and blessing.

That tends to happen to me a lot at this time of year. Everything is so gorgeous with the leaves changing color and dropping, so cozy with the cooling temperatures and return of the blankets, so delicious with more apple flavored treats than I ever imagined and so exciting with the growing number of birthdays and the anticipation of the holidays.

This year has been extra special for me, not only with the addition of my nephew, but with the quality of my time spent with family and friends (with a few exceptions).

It got to the point yesterday where I actually thought, “How did I get so lucky to have such an extraordinary life when so many people live such ordinary lives?” But I know that my life looks pretty ordinary to a lot of people, too. I guess that’s the secret, though. You have to recognize all of the extraordinaries in your life, no matter how big or small. They add up fast!

My dad and I were walking around soaking in all of the fall colors last night and our conversation turned toward an old, ailing tree that I’ve always called The Tree of Life. It sits alone on top of the highest hill on our property and our most beloved pets are buried beneath it. We were trying to figure out what we want to replace it with when it inevitably dies. I kept suggesting a tree that would either flower in the spring or change colors in the fall. While my dad agreed, he pointed out that those trees don’t grow very fast.

As we wandered, we pointed out all of the trees that could work. At some point my dad suggested an Oak. Oaks are pretty much his favorite trees. He went through a period where he saved every little Oak seedling because there weren’t many trees around. Now he has forests of towering Oaks. Because of the number of Oaks we already had, I immediately dismissed that idea. But as we made our way around the property for the second time, I noticed that there weren’t nearly as many Oaks on the back half as there were on the front half.

And then I thought: If I’m going to continue to call the tree on the hill–whatever it may be–The Tree of Life, what better tree is there to represent our family? Oaks are big, strong, sturdy, stable trees. That’s how I think of my dad, the leader of our family, the one who created such an amazing life for his family. We already have so many memories planted on that hill, why not go all the way?

That’s kind of when it hit me. That’s the moment that all of those little extraordinaries provided me with that overwhelming sense of gratitude.

I don’t know how to carry this with me throughout the rest of the year, but I’m so incredibly grateful for the little glimpses this season has provided.

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Mind Games

I don’t know what’s going on in my head…I’m so uninterested in everything. Life has been crazy busy lately and I hate it. I mean, I like it in the moment because every minute has a purpose, but when it all stops, like today, all the emotions just overwhelm me.

Right now I’m feeling all of the little snubs and judgments from my mom, all of the nights I didn’t want to fall asleep, all of the innocent but hurtful comments and questions from one of the kids I nanny, all of the unanswered texts, all of the situations where I feel I embarrassed myself, the disappointment that my mom is actually retired, the heartbreak of saying goodbye to our llama and the fear that this is it for me.

I went through a period this spring where I really felt like I was supported by the adults in my life. Everyone I told about nannying would praise me for being resilient enough to handle that all the time. But now I’m feeling the opposite. I seem to be encountering more people now who expect a lot more of me. And I just can’t handle the emotion that comes with that. Because, I think, on some level I know they’re right. It’s like when people say it’s easier to believe the negative opinions of you than the positive.

I want to love what I’m doing and I know that this is what I want to be doing, but I just can’t seem to ignore everyone else’s opinions. I feel like they need me to move on and challenge myself, but I feel like I’m already challenging myself by sticking with this. It’s really hard to basically want to just be a 50s housewife in an era of female empowerment. I respect all of the women who truly do want to go out into the workforce and make a difference and “have it all.” But I’m not one of them. And I just wish that people would respect that.

My mom was truly a trailblazer. She was one of a handful of women in her class at dental school in the early to mid 70s. That’s a lot to live up to. Because of her persistence and determination, I feel like the people who have known her the longest expect similar from me. I don’t want to disappoint anyone, but I also need to do what I want to do.

I know, I know. As long as I am truly happy with my life, they will be too.

But my mind likes to play games.

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P.S. I hope to post a bathroom update soon! It’s looking incredible!

Summer of Change

There are lot of changes happening this summer.

My parents are currently at my mom’s retirement dinner with her coworkers. She has one more day of work left, next Tuesday, followed by a few weeks of moving everything out and then she’s done. It’s very exciting for her, but a little scary for my dad and I. We have no idea how she’s going to fill her time–she’s starting to show signs of maybe being ready to slow down a bit, but she’s always been a very busy and involved person. We’ve learned how to keep the house running without her around and, honestly, really like it that way.

We are also in the midst of a bathroom renovation that rapidly grew to include siding, trim, carpet and other odd jobs around the house. My dad and I spent a good portion of Mother’s Day moving everything from my room and bathroom down to the guest bedroom and bathroom. (We let my mom do whatever she wanted; she chose gardening.) We didn’t realize how bad the bathroom looked until it was all emptied out!

Since I moved downstairs, we’ve discovered more and more things to improve in that bathroom. We’re replacing just about everything that doesn’t require more than a drill or a wrench to remove.

 

My bathroom is getting a little more work done…

I was really dreading the first day of demo. I thought I would really miss my space, but now that it’s all torn apart I’m just really excited for the finished product, which should be stunning! They’re putting up drywall next week, so things will really start taking shape!

On the less exciting end of the spectrum, my parents think they’ve found a new home for our last llama, Rosie. The process really sped up after a visit from one of my uncles. He tends to make things happen and straight up asked my dad why we still had Rosie. He hadn’t even been in the house five minutes when he called up a llama farm in eastern Wisconsin. That didn’t pan out, but he was applying some pressure and my dad finally decided to look into it seriously. They found a petting zoo about 90 minutes south of here that’s interested.

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I’m having trouble adjusting to the thought of not having any llamas. I was only two when my parents got the first two, which means that we’ve had them for 20 years. And Rosie was the only one who was born here. She’s never known anything different and now they’re going to send her to a petting zoo? She still seems to be pretty happy here, even if she doesn’t have any other llamas to socialize with. And I can’t imagine not having llamas around for my niece and nephew. My dad can understand that. Which is why he’s agreed to having chicks, ducks or pheasants every spring. Birds fly away before winter! So we now have four chicks.

So, yeah. Lots of changes. This will be an interesting summer.

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Stop Wishing; Take Action

I wasn’t planning on writing again so soon, but something miraculous just happened and I need to write about it while all of the emotions are still fresh.

I’ve slowly but surely been watching every movie Emma Stone has appeared in and last night it was time for Irrational Man. Surprisingly, I really liked it (I haven’t liked Woody Allen in the past). One of the main points of the movie is that you can’t just wish for something to happen; you have to take action.

So with that in the back of my mind, I sat down this afternoon and wrote the most heartfelt and honest letter of my life. I was only half serious about sending it. Until Facebook automatically sent it after I selected it from my files.

The purpose of this letter was to explain why I’ve approached a certain friendship the way I have for so long. I had wanted to explain this face to face for about 6 years, but the opportunity (and courage) never arose.

During those 6 years I had fantasized about how it would all go down. Next time we hang out, I’m just going to come right out and say it as soon as we get in the car (so I don’t lose my nerve). And after every outing, I would return home disappointed in myself for not bringing it up. But I would keep wishing that maybe it would come up organically. Maybe it would just come up in conversation during one of our 2 outings a year. Maybe she would text me one day and it would just feel like the right time to share.

But today, I stopped wishing and took action.

I don’t even remember how that blank page got opened and how I started spilling my guts. All of a sudden, I just was. And just as quickly, it was sent.

I was, of course, hoping for the best case scenario, but steeling myself for no response.

I left my phone in the kitchen and went to my room to distract myself. That alone was strange. I never leave my phone in another room, especially when there’s a chance that I could be getting a text or call.

10 minutes later, I returned to the kitchen and glanced at my phone–the blue light wasn’t blinking, which meant no response. But I noticed an extra icon below the time.

It was the Messenger icon.

She responded.

I unlocked my phone and, in no big hurry, checked my messages, like this was just my dad saying he was on his way home.

I couldn’t even comprehend what I was reading. I think I got half way through before I realized this was the best case scenario. It happened.

I literally fell to the floor and just started sobbing. I couldn’t believe that what I had wished for for so long was finally coming true.

All I could muster for a response was “Oh my god, you have no idea–I’m literally sobbing right now! THANK YOU SO MUCH!” I felt like a blubbering idiot.

But I did it. I stopped wishing, took action and got exactly what I wanted.

I feel invigorated and motivated! I can get whatever I want if I do something instead of relying on wishing.

That’s all!

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Story Time

I don’t know why, but it feels weird to be writing in this space again.

I’ve been writing a lot lately in more of a story format. I use what I’m experiencing in the moment (sights, sounds, feelings, etc.) and create what I imagine would be background for characters in a story. The thing that bothers me is that there’s really only one character: me. Because I’m using everything around me, I decided to just let it fly and embrace the fact that it’s extremely personal. So far, I haven’t changed any details. I am literally just writing my life in a book format.

That terrifies me a little bit, because I feel like if I continue with it and it evolves into some kind of narrative, I’m going to be too attached to change things around and make it less personal. But at the same time, I would never let anyone read it the way it is because it is so personal.

It also terrifies me because it’s making me think a lot. And I don’t have a great history with thinking a lot. It feels like something that could lead me down a rabbit hole. But it also feels like something that could help me uncover my potential.

So, as I mentioned, I’ve decided to just embrace it and cherish it as something just for me.

I realized that I really like writing in that format, though. And if nothing else, it’s good practice.

There are so many other things going on right now, and I would love to catch you up, but I just felt like this was important to get out of the way first. I hope that in the coming weeks I will be able to find some time and motivation to tell you about everything!

But if not, Happy Spring, Happy Earth Day, Happy April, Happy May, and Happy Friday!

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(P.S. La La Land comes out on DVD next week! I’ve been abstaining (from watching the movie/clips–can’t give up the music), so, hopefully, when I watch it again on Tuesday it will be just as magical as the first time! #morethananobsession)

Remembering a Dream

You know that feeling when you’re trying to remember a really good dream after you wake up? That’s how I’ve been feeling lately when I listen to La La Land. I feel like it’s supposed to inspire me somehow. But I can never quite grasp it.

If I’m being honest, I was starting to get a little sick of the music. Then one day last week I stopped singing along and just listened.

That is so much more powerful.

It moved me.

I feel inspired to do something–I just don’t know what it is I’m supposed to do.

It calms me, which is actually enough right now. It centers me.

My life has been a lot more hectic since we got back from Hawaii. Next week will be the first really normal week, schedule-wise.

So I suppose I’ve needed that one steady thing to bring me back from the craziness.

I think I’m in for a year of self-discovery.