Blank spaces

Jul 20, 2017

I have a ten year journal. My husband has a five year journal. It’s really the format that makes it different. Each day of the year has a page that’s blocked out with different sections dedicated to each year. The idea is you that you write approximately five lines each day and, as you fill in the years, you can look back and see what was happening on the same day, but several years ago. So all on the same page for July 20, I have short entries for 2010, 2011, 2012, all the way up through 2017. 

So as I wrote in my journal tonight I could see that a few years ago we spent the evening playing games with our friends and eating pazookies, which is fun enough to remember, but all the more poinient now that they have two kids and couldn’t come over to play games in the evenings anymore, especially considering both they and we have since moved to different states. 

It’s fun to look back and see what we were doing in years past. Sometimes it’s sad to remember hard things that were going on. But perhaps the most striking entries in my ten year journal are the days left blank. 

Usually if I miss a day from being tired or lazy or on vacation and don’t want to lug my big journal with me, I’ll go back the next day and fill it in. I don’t do it very often, but it happens sometimes. It’s not a big deal. In fact, it happened yesterday/today. I opened up my journal to write today and realized I accidentally skipped yesterday. I must have gotten on here to write my post last night and then forgot to write in my journal. So after writing for today I went back and wrote for yesterday too. No biggie. It wasn’t like anything monumental happened yesterday. Just regular stuff. 

But the blank spots. Those were not just regular days. Sure, there may be a few scattered blank spots where I just plain forgot to go back and fill in what I’d missed, but the longest blank stretch I remember was from one of the hardest times in recent years. 

At the time, I first stopped writing because there was so much going on I was too panicked and exhausted to sit down and write. And because we moved in a hurry and everything was in boxes and all over in scattered places and I don’t know if I even knew where my journal was for several of those days. And when I found it and things calmed down, I found I just didn’t want to record that time. I didn’t want to write it down and relive it year after year as those days cycled back around. So I left them blank. Moved on. 

But of course the great irony is that the blank spaces themselves have come to represent so much about what was going on at that time. Those empty lines say so much more than I ever could have written about those dark days. 

Thank goodness for all the boring, ordinary filled-in pages that have filled up all the months and years since. 

And so, I carry on

Jul 19, 2017

It is entirely possible that the lesson I learn most from committing to write here every day this year is that committing to write daily can produce some really terrible writing. Or at least in my case it has. 

It’d be one thing if it was just personal journaling. I do that daily and it’s certainly no Shakespear, but it serves its purpose. 

But this was never intended to be a journal where I’m cataloging my daily activities, mostly because that’d be super boring to read. (Hmm, much like this post, you say?) Indeed, this post is the perfect example of what I’m talking about and I didn’t even intend for that to happen. 

No, what I had intended when I set out on this writing goal was to make writing a priority and, therefore, produce lots of great writing. Sadly, the result has just been that I’ve produced a lot of writing, probably not any of it great, most of it not even passable as mediocre. 

I confess I wonder daily if I ought to quit or plow ahead. But then it haunts me happily, this notion that I may yet produce some piece of writing worth reading and remembering this year. 

And so, I carry on. 

Creative time

Jul 18, 2017

Maybe it’s silly that it’s only just occurred to me to do it this way, but lately I’ve been trying to think more consciously about what I wish our days at home together looked like and then work backward from there to make it happen. 

I’ve been focusing especially lately on doing more art/creative projects with the kids. Both Olivia and Felix love painting and drawing and other creative outlets, so aside from it just being better than television (which, let’s be honest, we still watch a lot of), time spent being creative is also quality time spent together, helping them grow and develop their talents and filling their little emotional buckets. 

It turns out that no amount of art will make me a perfect mother, but it sure has been a force for good in our days lately. Today I was cranky and harsh with a certain oldest child about the daily evils of Chewing With One’s Mouth Open and the ever-prevalent Hair In The Face, but I was also surprisingly plesant and patient while we sewed a little drawstring bag for the memory set she drew all by herself. 

Anyway, parenting isn’t measured on a scoreboard and thank goodness for that. But in terms of rating my own days lately, I’d say they’ve been bettered by the endeavor to add in a little more sunshine and joy for my children. It’s amazing how the effort–whether it’s for ten minutes or a whole hour–colors the entire rest of the day and, I both suspect and dread, our entire relationships. 

Making and doing 

Jul 15, 2017

We did a lot of making today and it was good for my soul. 

This morning while Bryan was at work I loaded up the kids and drove the 45 minutes to my favorite local sewing and knitting supply shop to take advantage of some good sales they were having. Specifically, I was hoping to get some help picking out a simple knitting pattern and the yarn and other things I’d need to complete it. Thankfully one of the employees who knew about knitting was able to help me with just that. With her help I chose a great book with lots of good, classic (and hopefully simple) projects, soft yarn to make a baby bonnet, and the needles and stitch markers to knit it with. 

At home later I started the grueling process of working through the knitting pattern in the book with another book from the library that’s a visual knitting dictionary of sorts. Even doing my very best to follow along, I still struggled and had to unravel my project several times. I’m probably about 1/5 or 1/6 of my way through finishing the hat and I’m still mostly working on faith. Ha! But I’m having a great time doing it. 

After sitting idle for so long in the rocking chair as I feed our sweet new baby, it just feels so good to finally have something to do. That feeling of accomplishment, of trying something new, learning a new skill, struggling and perservering–it just can’t be beat. I woke up so grumpy this morning and I’m going to bed in such a better mood. Creating and learning and growing and doing will do that to you. 

In addition to all this, we also had some great family art time today. I cut up some paper and we glued mosaic-type pictures together. It was an open-ended project, just for fun, and it was perfect. So fun. Later Bryan and the kids also worked on a puppet theater and paper puppets for it while I read Harry Potter aloud and nursed the baby. Afterward the kids put on a short puppet show with their new creations and it was so fun to watch it all come to life–the kids themselves most especially. 

Today was a reminder all over again of truths I’ve learned before, but keep forgetting. The way trying something new and having something to do will lift spirits far more genuinely than even a fun outing or dessert. How we all need and want and love having time to just enjoy our company and be creative. And also the way just spending time together is good for all our relationships. 

Today was a good day. Trying to mentally file away all the reasons why so I can remember the next time I get in a funk. 

So far today

Jul 14, 2017

  • Woke up and rushed off with all three kids to an early morning weight check for the baby (all is well)
  • Wanted donuts but came straight home (because: crazy heat + humidity, and also: getting kids in and out of the car) 
  • Hour+ nap on the couch
  • Feeling dumb about yesterday’s post, but I guess the honesty (followed by self-inflicted humility) is all just part of being human
  • Ordered the complete set of Harry Potter books to start reading aloud with the kids
  • Watched the BYU tv special on Joan of Arc while I fed the baby (Olivia was surprisingly enthralled) 

Not quite

Jul 13, 2017

What I really want to say doesn’t sound that great out loud or on paper, but I’m too tired from caring for a newborn all day and now into the night to bother saying otherwise. The truth is, I feel small. 

Or maybe just not like the small business success I once was. And I honestly don’t even expect to be as instantly successful as I had been, but there’s no going back from tangible success. Once you know what it is to have the masses rush for what you’re offering, it will never not feel at least a little bit pathetic to try again and have it not be the same. Even if a smaller scale is what you planned for–what you want–there’s just no way not to remember what it felt like before. To be wanted, on a professional level. Of your own merits. To be in so much demand you can’t even keep up. And then, another day, not. 

I don’t want this to sound pitiful or pitiable. The changes I’m experiencing now are direct results of choices I made. Choices I stand by. To do my best even when no one would have cared or known or expected it. To seek out a right choice that I knew would bring hard change. 

Anyway, it’s been on my mind today. Not in a bad way. Just there. Just present. A reminder that I’m still the same me, still moving in this same body, but living out a different path than I used to be on. Same me, different experiences. 

I’m falling asleep as I write this and it’s time to go to bed. But I wanted to take the time to write this down. To be honest. And to hopefully look back on someday as an in-between place. An on-the-way. Part of the story to a better end or another path or some kind of even-better, made sweeter when I get there because of the honest humility I faced along the way. 

Nevermind the kitchen floor though 

Jul 12, 2017

It’s one of those times in life when I feel acutely proud of myself for doing things like folding the laundry and getting it out away, or running an errand to the grocery store, especially on my own with all three kids. I did both today and, aside from leaving my rather sweaty after bringing in the small load of groceries in the heat, it also left me feeling like quite the hero. 

Another time these accomplishments might seem small and insignificant, but when you’ve just thrown another ball into the regular juggling routine, any semblance of normalcy feels like a great feat. 

I’ve been more aware and appreciative, this time, of the season of life we’re in. Perhaps with some practice I’m just better learning the language of passing time. The precious and fleeting weeks with a fresh little newborn. The way the older children just keep on becoming themselves in spite of everything else going on. The familiarity of same old things like work and dirty dishes.

And even as we ease into the new, things continue to change. Kids never seem to stay the same age, even as babies. So I’m trying more purposefully, more patiently, more happily, to jump in and just enjoy it while I can. 

Good things about today

Jul 11, 2017

  • Play date with the kids at our good friend’s house
  • Seeing the kids dressed up as little cows
  • Free chick-fil-a
  • Newborn baby snuggles
  • Clean laundry 
  • Fresh sheets
  • Staying up way too late with Bryan to finally finish the final season of The Office