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What Was Your Latest Major Accomplishment?

My latest major accomplishment happened just yesterday. I had fought knots in my stomach for the previous month and felt nauseous for the two hours it took for it to be over. I’m going to apologize ahead of time for the pathetic answer to this question.

I renewed my driver’s license.

All by myself.

OK, wait. I wasn’t actually all by myself. I had four young children with me in a very crowded room with at least a hundred other people in a dirty little building.

I intentionally waited to go on a weekday during school hours thinking I could breeze through, get my picture taken, and be out in time to go do something fun with the kids for lunch.

Oh, no. There was no “breezing” happening.

First of all, to get to my nearest Department of Public Safety location, I have to drive half an hour over a highway that scares me to death. I’ve seen more accidents on that one highway than I have in all of my life. It used to be a 2-lane state highway, and as the city expanded, it became the main thoroughfare connecting multiple large suburbs. It’s now a 4-lane highway with no center divider, multiple stoplights, and traffic moving at 70 miles an hour (IF they’re bothering to stick to the 65mph speed limit).

I am not kidding when I say I’ve seen people try to make U-turns in the middle of this highway! I’ve seen small cars T-boned by pickup trucks flying down a hill, and I’ve seen big construction vehicles taking up multiple lanes as they use the entire light cycle to make a left turn. Scary, dangerous, nerve-wracking stuff. I hate this road.

Today it was unavoidable because I needed to get to the DPS quickly before the line backed up. So we took the harrowing highway. I should not have bothered trying to redeem a few extra minutes.

The building was jam-packed when we arrived and squeezed in through the door. According to the clerk behind the desk it had been that way all day and would be that way until 4:00. And it was like that every single day which isn’t much help since after 4pm, you have to battle rush-hour traffic. I picked the lesser of the evils and stuck it out for the hour and a half wait time.

I should mention I have a very large personal bubble. I don’t like people in my space. I don’t even like my own children to invade my personal space most of the time, much less complete strangers who smell of various deodorants and perfumes (among other things). One elderly gentleman left his seat and insisted I take it because it was on the end of a row where I’d have room to park the kids on the floor next to me. Bless him!

We sat and sat and sat. The kids squirmed. I was tempted to leave. But the thought of having to drive thirty minutes home then another thirty minutes there and back the next day… Yeah, that just used up the 90-minute wait time. So we waited. Once I’ve committed to something, I just want to get it over with. The thought of having to do it all again the next day made me feel even more queasy than I was already feeling.

So we sat there through our lunch hour. I tried to corral the kids, but they really didn’t need much of that. Why do they sit still in a place like that but run all over Costco like they own the place?! I was actually really proud of them. For the most part.

Bitty Girl got cranky in the last half an hour. She gets hungry, and when she’s hungry she gets mean. And after she gets mean, she pitches a fit. If she gets to that fit-pitching stage, I know a flood of uncontrollable tears is only a matter of time. So we had to avoid the fit-pitching as long as possible.

That said, if she wanted to pitch a fit, I was totally going to let her. If “they” were going to make it so difficult just to renew a driver’s license, they were going to have to endure some torment just like I did!

I still cannot believe that in a populated area of a several million people they don’t have adequate DPS/DMV locations! I even asked the clerk if there was a better time to come back, and she said the only time when the line starts to think out is after 4:00 in the afternoon. Not much help since after 4pm, you have to drive through rush-hour traffic to get there. I picked the lesser of the evils and stuck it out.

We ended up waiting a little over an hour. Every muscle in my body was tense, and my brain couldn’t focus on anything by the time I got to the counter. The clerk was at least upbeat and smiling when he asked for my license. I was so distracted and mentally exhausted at that point that I didn’t even think to have it out!

I laughed and told him, “I’ve been here so long, I don’t even remember why I’m here!” The license renewal itself was at least a breeze. Read a row of letters, take a hideous picture, sign my name, and voila! We were done.

He had me in and out within 5 minutes, and I marched my four progeny out the entrance door (with permission!) so we didn’t have to parade through a hundred people to get to the opposite side of the building.

Then we sat in the van and ate chocolate-covered dried fruit.

We needed it!

By way of decompressing, we went to a former favorite haunt, the local farm supply store. We used to visit on a regular basis back when we had a dog. They have the best prices on animal food. They also have great toys, bird seed, boots, and clothes, so we used to turn it into a bi-monthly family outing. We are easily entertained!

This trip was to procure food for our feathered friends. Dried meal worms (yummy!), a corn-and-peanut combo that actually sounded tasty at that point in our day, and a suet feeder to hopefully distract that cardinals that like to fling themselves at the windows every winter!

By the time we headed home, I think we were all hungry enough to eat those meal worms! My youngest kiddo had reached her limit and pitched her hunger fit in the store. Yay me. She chilled out once she realized we really were headed home to a bath and food.

Then I took a walk. By myself. Walked away the last of the tension and realized that, even though it’s not a big deal to most people, I felt like I’d tackled a major obstacle and survived.

What is your most recent accomplishment?

 

What is Your Best Memory of Last Year?

My best memory of 2015 is when I finally succeeded in finding a spectacular gift for the love of my life.

I am married to a man whose love language is gifts. He loves planning and hunting for gifts. Lives for the anticipation of giving a gift. Loves giving of his time to procure or create the most unexpected gift he can think of. Birthdays and Christmas are license for him to unload on the people he loves with reckless abandon.

For the past three years he has surprised me on my return from summer vacation with a unique kitchen gadget. Three summers ago gorgeous Le Creuset pots were waiting on my cooktop.

Two summers ago, a touch faucet magically replace my worn-out kitchen faucet (let me tell you, if you ever have the chance to own a touch faucet, do not pass it up. Greatest kitchen improvement ever!).

And this past summer? My kitchen got a color makeover in the form of LED light strips above and below my upper cabinets. I no longer have to debate wall color; a simple coat of white paint creates a blank canvas to project any color I happen to be in the mood for. If I’m feeling really adventurous, I can set them to fade from color to color or strobe for an in-home rave (not that we do that)!

As dominant as my husband’s gift-giving skills are, mine are equivalently inferior.

I’m good at lots of things. Choosing gifts is not always one of them.

Gift shopping turns into a stressful debate as I second-guess everything. Is it going to stand out? Will they love it? Will they use it? Or will they wonder what I was thinking in buying it? By the time I’ve found just the right gift, I have a serious case of decision fatigue.

Shopping for my husband is no different. He is particular about things and has a streamlined list of interests: technology, soccer, and movies. I’m about as far from a pro as anyone could ever be at all three of those things. I don’t even choose my own tech gadets. I just tell my hubby what I need to be able to do, and I let him do the research and tell me what he’s getting for me. Soccer (and all other team sports) still feel like a foreign country to me. And when it comes to movies, the only two genres worthy of any attention are costume/history dramas and romantic comedies. My hubby disagrees.

I’ve been a student of him for fourteen years and still get sweaty palms at the thought of finding the perfect gift for him.

You see, he means the world to me and deserves the best gift ever. Compared to the extraordinary things he surprises me with, my little offerings feel very pathetic. More often than not, gifts are comprised of things he sent me an Amazon link for because I couldn’t think of something unexpected for him.

But 2015 was my year.

He flew to Spain on business at the beginning of the year, and I was the one to pick him up after his long flight home. He was too exhausted even to drive home and one of his comments was that the constant background noise of the airplane made flights overwhelming. Somehow that comment planted a seed in my brain.

When I started teaching sewing lessons a month later, I started a special cash envelope. When a second international trip appeared on his work calendar close to Father’s Day, I was ready. But my low self-esteem in the gifting department kicked into gear again, and I started second-guessing. So I asked him.

“I’ve been saving to either buy something special for you or buy furniture.” And I was even so boring as to tell him what I had in mind for him! Like I said, gifting is not my forte.

“No, save it to get furniture.”

That is always his first instinct; take care of everyone else first. But his answer sealed the deal. I would NOT be buying furniture no matter how badly we need something to organize the disastrous shoe/coat room!

I remember looking at him and saying, “Really? Are you SURE you wouldn’t rather have this?”

He was gracious enough to smile and give me an honest answer, “Well, I’m not going to lie; I would LOVE that, but I don’t need it.”

Done!

The kids and I went on a shopping expedition the very next day and came home with the most expensive headphones I’d ever laid eyes (much less hands) on just in time to send him off to the airport. Noise-canceling headphones. I had no idea such a thing existed! When he had commented on being exhausted, he’d also mentioned a few other passengers who wore their noise-canceling headphones to sleep. That was the tiny seed that sprouted almost immediately.

He texted me as soon as he landed on the other side of the world, “Headphones were awesome!”

For the first time in his life he’d arrived at a destination feeling more or less relaxed despite sitting in cramped quarters for half a day.

He’s endured multiple flights since then and each time he debarks the plane singing the praises of his headphones.

I think I literally smile every time I hear him brag on his headphones. Not in a prideful I-was-so-smart-to-get-those kind of way, but in a very satisfied, contented way because I was finally able to get the man I love a gift that truly makes his life more luxurious.

That is my best memory of 2015.

Do you have a memory from 2015 that stands out above the others?

 

 

Are You Content?

Short answer? Nope.

But my long answer includes a resounding YES.

I am content with my life. I even love my life. I have a family that I wouldn’t trade for anything, and we live in a lovely little house on a quiet street with some of the greatest neighbors ever. We have good healthy food on the table at nearly every meal (we won’t talk about tonight’s canoli’s from the local Italian joint). I can turn the heater or air-conditioner on when the weather outside is inhospitable.I have running water to run a hot bath or shower any time I need to luxuriate. I firmly believe I’m where God wants me right now.

So yes, I am content and quite happy with life : )

When I go deeper into that answer, though, I find alot of discontent. Not a complaining and whining kind of discontent, but a discontent that stems from knowing that all the elements that make up our life could still be improved upon.

We could be more organized.
We could live more simply.
I could cook better meals.
I could read more books aloud and play more games.
The baseboards could be cleaner (for that matter, they could be repainted since I doubt that has been done since the house was built).

Then there is my never-ending list of decorating and organizing dreams that would improve our lifestyle and satisfy my innate desire for a beautiful home. Curtains for my room, a new rug for the living room, more furniture for the bedrooms.

So I am not content because my perfectionist eye will always find a new detail that can be improved to be more useful and beautiful. And that is a good kind of discontent for someone like me who naturally likes to make things more beautiful and peaceful.

Are you content?

 

What Are You Most Grateful For?

Of course this question has to come on a day when I’m feeling snippy and most definitely not grateful…

Our satellite service has been wonky lately and has stopped giving me HGTV in high-def. The Cooking Channel has suffered the same fate. As if watching both of those channels in zero-definition on a half-size window on a big screen isn’t bad enough, our DVR is seemingly incapable of recording any shows on those channels either.

What this means is that for the past several months (I’ve lost count since I’m too busy to watch TV anyway), none of my cooking or real estate shows have been recorded. I don’t have time to watch them live during the day, so it was always nice to be able to sit down when I had some random free time and have a collection of sizzling foods and exotic retreats to indulge in.

Without those visual inspirations, I’ve turned to Pinterest for comfort. Who needs satellite TV when you have the world of Pinterest at your fingertips?

Well, I do.

At least once a year. On January 1.

You see, that is the day every year when HGTV reveals their newest Dream Home. I haven’t missed it in a decade. That is MY day to dream. I set the recording timer myself yesterday so I wouldn’t miss it while the kids and hubby watched their programs. I went to bed last night in anticipation of waking up this morning and reveling, once again, in the dream of what if.

But it was not to be. Once again, our satellite had betrayed me. I could forgive the apparent disregard for Giada’s Everyday Italian and Househunters International. After all, I have Pinterest.

I cannot forgive being stood up for my annual date with HGTV’s Dream Home.

My day went downhill from there.

Playroom disasters with children who have too much stuff and cling to it like the world will end if they let it go.

Frustration at myself for not knowing how to teach them to disconnect from cheap toys that don’t bring joy to their lives.

Lack of storage space to organize the hats and gloves and soccer gear that are strewn around the house.

Chilly temperatures creeping in at the seams of the house while the sun hides behind thick clouds. I am Kryptonian. I need the sun.

Hair that is driving me crazy because it always looking messy and makes me feel anything but pretty.

FIRST. WORLD. PROBLEMS.

As I write this, I am disconnecting myself from “cheap toys.” Why do I cling to such tiny annoyances? Things that, in the grand scope of things, are INSIGNIFICANT. Seriously insignificant. They should be at the bottom– no, in the NEGATIVE on any priorities list. I should not be bothered by these things. There are billions of the people in the world who would gladly step into my shoes and live with my petty peeves.

So why do these things bother me to the point of affecting my whole day?

Because this is my life. I care deeply about my life. Therefore, I want my life to be perfect because it’s me.

I see beauty and potential in everything. I see everything that falls short of being perfect, and I want to fix it. I can’t simply close my eyes or shut a door and ignore it. Some people can do that. I’ve never been blessed with that kind of oblivion.

Somehow, I have to learn to let go. Focus on what I can perfect and let God take care of the rest. Put things into perspective, beautify what I can, and let go of the things I can’t. But most importantly, I must not let those things rule my day. They are unimportant when I have children who need a hug or want to tell me about their latest discovery and show me what they made. Those are the things that are important at the end of the day.

Today I am grateful for first-world problems.

What are you most grateful for?

2016 Goals

I’ve been pinning writing prompts like a crazy lady for the past few days. One of my goals is to rekindle my love affair with writing and refresh my skills using writing assignments conjured up by someone else. My favorites are the journaling prompts.Odd, random questions to stimulate the brain cells to dig deep and excavate opinions I didn’t even know I had!

I’ve always loved writing prompts for that very reason. So you can imagine my annoyance when I excitedly scrolled through my Pinterest Writing board to find the list of January journaling prompts anticipating today’s assignment…

“What is your number one goal this year?”

Really?

That’s the best you could do on a journaling prompt to get the new year off to a glorious start?

Bah, humbug. I abhor unoriginality.

BUT since that was my assignment, I’m going to be cliche and write my goals for the year.

The short list:

Write more.
Tidy more.
Enjoy my life more.

I am not going to start my year off with the goal of losing 30 lbs this year or exercising every single day or waking up every morning with a smile. Nope. I’m done with impossible and unrealistic resolutions for the new year. Everyone knows that the majority of people never make it past the first two weeks anyway.

Then there is the plain and simple fact that I am a mom. Not only am I a mom, I’m a mom times four. There is literally no way of knowing what kind of day I’m going to wake up to until I’m halfway through it. So setting specific goals of exercising for an hour every single day, is about as effective as giving my three-year-old the task of washing and folding all the laundry.

Simply not gonna happen.

So I’m being realistic with my goals this year. I’ve been on a very slow journey for the past year of simplifying my life. In fact, it’s so slow that probably no one but myself has even noticed. At this point, it’s been mostly mental. A shifting mindset interspersed with tirades of decluttering an unused drawer or shelf.

Baby steps.

I crave a simpler life. One that gives me time for the things I love. But life is not simple. Life is complicated and messy and cluttered. There are no extra hours that will magically appear at the end of my day if I’ve gotten everything else crossed off my list. I have to choose what I do with the hours that I have. So I am choosing this year to reclaim some of those hours for myself and the things that I love. The things that make me ME.

Laundry and dishes are not some of those things.

I will write.
I will continue my slow crawl of decluttering my home.
I will be more organized with the daily craziness of life since I’m assuming I can’t just ignore the laundry and dishes, right?

I will not be such a perfectionist about this blog. Sometimes things will make sense and sometimes they won’t. I am merely here to hone my wordsmithing.

Happy New Year!

 

 

 

Summer Diary – Entry #3

I closed my eyes and splashed warm water on my face, breathing in the subtle scent of honey as I washed away the dust and busyness of the day. Several hours in the small kitchen cooking pancakes, blending a smoothie, assembling supper in the crock pot, and scrambling a big lunch together in between a trip to the bustling Farmers’ Market and executing an afternoon excursion had stolen every last bit of energy I had left. I simply wanted to curl up in bed and decompress.

My ears picked up a familiar pattering outside the window.

Probably just my imagination.

I splashed my face one last time luxuriating in a soft towel before stepping across the bathroom to the window.

My ears were not playing tricks on me.

A familiar sound for me, but a displaced sound in this dry California valley: the soft pattering of raindrops!

We’d watched thin clouds float in all day, faintly gray and hinting of hope, though nowhere near as promising as the monster thunderheads that pile up at home before a spring storm. I was skeptical, especially when the forecast only predicted a forty percent chance of falling water.

My two oldest children were still awake, waiting for their piano music on Pandora to lull them to sleep. We’d never seen rain in California before, so I motioned them out of bed to witness the historic phenomenon outside their window. After all, it would probably only last a few minutes, and those precious drops would drizzle away to faint memories.

I tip-toed back to my room, terrifying the cat in the process. I’m sure we confused her, these strangers who invaded her fortress every summer and kept unpredictable hours.

As I pulled the warm duvet over my shoulders, I noticed the gentle dripping was already gone. Only the soothing trickle of the neighbor’s deck fountain remained to keep me company. Just as I had predicted, it was merely a cruel taste of the elusive rain that California is so parched for.

A few hours later the drumming of a downpour on the roof broke through my dreams. My eyes flew open to stare out the window into the semi-darkness. There it was, the glint of a thousand raindrops against a streetlamp. A low rumble of Thunder rolled across the sky.

I love sleeping to the sound of a distant thunderstorm and smiled in the darkness. Bitty Girl was sprawled next to me where she’d settled herself after waking up chilly an hour before. I tucked her back in and relaxed in the rain-washed breeze.

Crash! The sky lit up, and thunder boomed like a roaring giant awakened from hibernation. The rain fell harder and louder. Sensing the inevitable, I slipped out of bed and tip-toed back to my kids’ room. My oldest son whimpered from under his duvet, “I’m scared.”

“Scoop up your blanket and pillow and go crash on the floor in my room.”

He wasted no time and was curled up on my bedroom floor before I finished checking on Missy. She was still sleeping soundly. I decided to leave her as long as she was oblivious.

Just as I drifted back to sleep, another flash of lightening and clap of thunder jolted me awake. I knew that proximity to lightning.

The electricity was doomed.

A second flash confirmed my prediction. The fan fell silent and the world was plunged into blackness.

Through the cracked bedroom door, I watched a dim glow appear, fade, then grow brighter.

The overly-imaginative little girl that lives inside of my brain jumped to the forefront and screeched silently, “someone’s coming in!”

My mommy-brain told her to shush, grabbed my phone and fumbled for the flashlight app as I leaped out of bed to confront whatever horrifying creature was entering my bedroom.

The door slowly opened emitting a soft gust of air.

I shook my head impatiently at my stupidity and calmly stepped into the living room and shined my light around. I smiled at the sight of my father-in-law holding a candle and my mother-in-law right behind him with a handful more.

“Would you like a candle?” He offered me a tiny glowing dish with a cheery smile.

“Sure! Thank you.” There is always something warm and comforting about that little dancing flame.

I carried it to the bathroom counter where it cast a cozy glow that extended into the bedroom.

I traversed the darkness again to check on Missy and smiled to see her peaceful face, eyes still closed in oblivion. I was tempted to wake her up and carry her into the bedroom so I could avoid another trip through the dark house (how many times had I tripped across the Lego bucket in the living room in a single night?), but she showed no signs of being disturbed.

Back in the big bedroom, one son was smoothing his pallet, and the other was nowhere to be seen. Bitty’s faint snores floated from the big bed. I crawled onto Bug’s bed and found his feet, then his head, sprawled width-wise across the mattress with the duvet pulled up over his head. I pulled the cover back, and two big dark eyes stared right into mine. He giggled and sat up.

Both boys were wide awake from the booming thunder, so we curled up on my bed and conversed in hushed tones about the storm. I reminisced about living in a metal-roofed trailer when I was ten and described to my own boys the noise that would ensue every time we’d have a thunderstorm, which happened on a regular basis in southwest Missouri.

They asked about flash floods, and we discussed dams and man-made lakes until I couldn’t keep my eyes open. The noise of the thunder was moving away, and I shooed the boys back to bed to finish out the night.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

My eyes opened lazily in the dim morning light. I could still hear the steady drumming and dripping of rain on the roof and trees and rushing through gutters.

Pans rattled and spoons clanked in the kitchen. Tea time, only this morning it had to be done the old-fashioned way: boiling water on the stove. Thank goodness for a gas cooktop on mornings when the electric kettle is deprived of power.

Now I’m sitting cross-legged in the middle of the floor with my computer perched on my lap and a steaming mug of Chai tea, my fingers keeping time with the dripping rain outside the open window. The light bulbs are all asleep, and the appliances are eerily silent. I anticipate a day of books, games, and tea as the gadgets hibernate, and the rain gauge and creeks fill.

rainyday

I have been writing…

What’s that? You don’t believe me? Well, I guess you wouldn’t, not being privy to my hard drive. Seriously, I have half a dozen essays (or whatever you want to call them) waiting to be published.

But in the midst of shoveling moats on the beach, scrubbing sand out of my pores, painting everyone’s houses (yes, for real! That’s what one does on vacation, right? Paint? …hmmm… Well, I do…), and trying to keep everyone’s insatiable hunger satisfied, I have had zero brain cells left for the techie side of writing. Namely, publishing it for you to read.

Really, it’s not the writing part or even the copy-and-paste process of transferring my scribblings to my blog; it’s that pressure to make it look beautiful while I’m at it. I crave stunning pictures to bring life and color to my words, but my photo-editing skills don’t sync up with the image in my mind of what a published blog post should look like.

I’m not even talking editing colors and adjusting saturation and lighting. I’m talking elementary tasks like cropping an image to blog-friendly size and adding an unimpressive watermark in one corner.

I know how to do those things, but they don’t come naturally to me. So I procrastinate. It’s a bad habit.

I know I shouldn’t let a lack of photo-editing skills prohibit my writing. After all, good writing doesn’t need pictures. Not that I’m claiming to be that great of a writer! I’m just reminding myself that I need to strive for words and descriptions that don’t require photography to make my blog appealing.

But somehow I can never quite grasp the words to describe the emotions of watching waves crash against rocks like a living creature, or capture the joyous shrieks of my children when they time a wave just right and surf to shore on a boogie board.

Some things simply require a picture.

I’ve about exceeded walls to paint in this tiny cottage, so maybe I’ll sift through the hundreds of pictures on my phone and computer. It does seem silly to take as many pictures as I do yet never find the time to share them with anyone. It’s always so easy to snap that shutter button…

Summer Diary – Entry #2

Bitty Girl is humming to herself, the never-ending soundtrack to her little life. Sometimes she throws in a phrase or two when it’s pertinent to her activity, but mostly she hums as deliberately stabs her little pink-handled shovel into the soft gravel. She watches as the smooth rocks cascade to the ground.
Small waves crash a few yards away, casting salty spray against a massive rock that has captivated my husband and three eldest children. I watch them scramble to the top and dash about far too close to the edge for my comfort. I wonder how many mothers have lain right where I am, warmed by the sun above and the soft rocks below, as their progeny stretch their wings on this rocky beach.
Everything about this beach oozes of history.The caverns carved by crashing waves, the rock island in the middle of the cove with time-worn paths made by curious explorers climbing its sides, and the blanket of rocks worn smooth from centuries of tides.
Even the name, Spooners Cove, sparks an imaginative tale of adventure and mystery. How many pirate ships put in here to bury their treasure? Who were they hiding from? What wealth and stories were buried in those heavy chests? Did the Pirates ever return to dig it up, or did someone else find it first? Or better yet, is it still buried somewhere underneath me?
Bitty Girl has graduated to a larger shovel and is peacefully scooping away at the pool her Daddy dug out earlier. Perhaps she’ll uncover a treasure eventually…

Summer Diary

July 5, 2015
A cool breeze rushed in the open van windows as we pulled into the gravel driveway of the cottage. I smiled at the Redwoods whispering in the breeze and the distant cracking and whizzing of fireworks.
A brisk voice floated from the house, “They’re here!”
I collected as many loose items as I could carry, pushed the van door open, and stepped out. Kids eagerly removed headphones and struggled to free themselves from seat belts.

Two days on the road isn’t easy. They were more than happy to pile out and stretch their legs.

“You made it!” A balding man opened the wooden gate and emerged from a tiny backyard to greet us with a smile. I’m sure he had been counting the seconds until his grandchildren would arrive. He had meticulously outfitted the deck with flags that fluttered gallantly in the evening breeze to celebrate our arrival.
Grandma was waiting inside with hugs and laughs to greet each of us as we hauled our belongings through the tiny laundry room entrance.
Not much had changed since last summer. A few pieces of artwork swapped around, and a new coat of white paint in the hallway were the only evidence that any time had passed.
To my overloaded mind, it didn’t seem like a whole year should have passed already. Surely it wasn’t quite time to be back at our summer home. Yet here we were. Another summer adventure waiting to draw us into its grip.

A Promise to Myself

I made myself a promise this summer.

I often make myself grand promises that never come to pass, usually because I make the promise then remember I’m a mom and will never actually have the time to exercise for an hour every day or spend a full weekend in the sewing studio creating something beautiful. Nope. Moms don’t have the luxury of leisure time, not even while on an extended vacation to the coast.

At least I haven’t.

Yet.

But this year I made a promise to myself. A promise to make time for something that used to be second-nature to me.

I promised to spend time, if not daily, at least four times a week, writing.

I was born a writer. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t have a notebook with me for jotting down ideas and making up silly stories. My high-school years were filled with long journaling sessions and hours spent lying in the sun on our trampoline scribbling story ideas. I would save my creative writing lessons for the end of my school day so I didn’t have to put a limit on the time. Being educated at home, that was my prerogative ; )

I still have the stacks of journals and recently discovered my old notebook of story ideas on a bookshelf. As I flipped through the hand-written pages, I realized I haven’t kept a consistent diary in over ten years. That kind of writing is reserved for the rare times when I need to vent a hurt or passion that no one else wants to be privy to.

Nor have I written a story in over a dozen years. Well, not unless I count the long narratives of my life that I e-mail to my mom or sisters.

No, my teenage dream of being a novelist flew out the window when I became a wife and mom and let my time be monopolized by the things that NEED to be done: cooking, cleaning, changing diapers, and running errands. That’s what moms are supposed to do, right? Sacrifice everything for the sake of wifehood and motherhood?

That was the message I heard all of my growing-up years. It was an honor and privilege to give everything up to care for a husband and raise the next generation. To a teen, that sounds like a great calling, worthy of sacrificing every talent and skill to fulfill. Now that I’m on the other side and am living that self-sacrificing life, raising the next generation is significantly less glamorous.

I love my place as a wife and my role as a mother. I wouldn’t exchange it for the world. However, something has been missing from my life. I haven’t been able to put my finger on it for a long time. It has been a simple feeling of unhappiness, dissatisfaction with myself.

I’m a decent wife and a good caregiver to my children, but something has been lacking. I’ve been so sucked into the self-sacrificing-mom mentality that I’ve forgotten that I am a unique individual too, and that motherhood is only a short season of my life. Who will I be when the kids are grown and no longer need four meals a day and can take care of their own laundry? I’ll be so far gone from that girl who dreamed of the fascinating things she was going to be when she grew up.

As an idealistic teen, I could wax poetic for hours on the importance of honing my God-given skills and using them to change the world. As an adult, still idealistic yet saturated with reality, I’ve forgotten that God made me who I am, with skills and passions unique to me, and to ignore that is wasting the life He has given me.

Now, as I’m sitting on the patio soaking up the California sun and listening to the birds singing and the wind rustling the canvas canopy overhead, I hear my children’s voices drifting from the open windows. They are completely engrossed in their play, oblivious to me. They don’t need me right now and probably aren’t even aware that I’m not in the house. I’ve noticed I have random moments such as these more often now that I no longer have a nursing baby or a potty-training toddler.

What should I do in those fleeting moments?

When I’m at home, those moments allow me to fold laundry or get the next meal started or tackle an organization task. On vacation, though, the laundry is minimal, there are two women to prep meals, and there is only so much organizing and purging I can do when I’m in someone else’s house! So while my progeny are lost in a make-believe world built of Legos, I can snatch some quiet moments to re-discover myself and revive long-lost skills that were once second-nature.

I promise to write this summer.

I don’t know what I’ll write about. Maybe it’ll be heartfelt journaling or adventurous narratives, or perhaps I’ll delve into my creative side that once conjured up stories inspired by places and times I wished I could experience.

But I will write.

Crystal