Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Family Circus

A couple of years ago my husband took the kids and I to our favorite Mexican Restaurant. It was a Friday and no day of special importance. Towards the end of dinner he kept checking his watch. Very seldom can my husband surprise me. It seemed he had something up his sleeve, but he was doing a very good job playing the part of a nonchalant lazy Friday evening. When we left he took a different way home, well the opposite of home he was heading downtown. We lived close to the downtown tourist strip at that time so I was content and thought we were going to take a drive down Broadway. It is fun to drive through the heart of Nashville at night because it is always lit up and music is always flowing loudly downtown. However, he pulled into a parking garage and gave me and the kids one of my favorite surprises he's ever master minded (and he does surprise us a lot). He took us to the circus. At night. With front row seats. To the best most amazing circus act I've ever been to.

Perhaps it was even more magical because I had just previously spent every night the week before cuddled up in my bed enthralled and mystified by this book:

Perhaps it was so great cause I had never seen actual motorcycles in cages!

For him to take me to the circus and seat me on the front row (which I've never sat on at a circus) as a surprise AT NIGHT was the most fun exciting thing I can remember. It was like I finished an amazing book and you book lovers know how that feels and then while I was mourning the loss of being finished with the plot, he took me right inside of that book in real life. I can't even describe how pleasurable, entertaining, and fun that night was.

This story comes to mind as I face my life-A family circus.

Last night reminded me of the old comic strip The Family Circus.

Paul was grilling in the back yard and the steaks caught on fire while he had his tool box laid out in the grass of the backyard fixing W's soccer net and explaining to a very happy W what all the tools were for. Paul was instructing as I was flipping the flaming steaks. Meanwhile M runs out and says there's a strange man at the front door wearing a hat. Paul goes to see what that's about and after a couple of minutes I think maybe I should go check on Paul and the man with the hat in case the man with the hat is a mass murderer.

On my way I pass the oven that I am using to bake sweet potato fries and regular round potato fries and it smells funny. I never make it to check on the mass murderer because when I open the oven I am engulfed in smoke and see actual flames coming from the oven. Hmmmm....that's a first! The olive oil dripped off the edge of the baking sheet and started an actual fire! So I yell, "Paul I need you right now!!!!"

I don't know how he left the mass murderer who was actually a man selling weed and feed for our yard, but he got to the oven and had the flames out in like a second.

Pretty soon we had the window ledge cleared, all the windows open letting the amazing fall breeze in, a fan clearing the room of lingering smoke, and we were around a table eating broccoli, mushrooms, steak, and fries-nothing ended up burnt or ruined!

The funny thing is I actually enjoyed all the chaos. It was one of the best nights of my week. The excitement. The adventure. My family just all together with the windows up and the fall breeze flowing. The 4 of us around the table just laughing and talking and eating.

Honestly, most of the time it's not that easy dealing with the fires of life.

The next time Paul took us to the circus we couldn't afford to splurge on front row seats. It was a completely different act-no motorcycles in cages or bicycles on tightropes over our heads. We sat towards the middle of the huge Bridgestone arena, it wasn't a surprise, and I wasn't reading a magical book about a fantasy night circus.

It was still fun just not the same.

Timing is everything in life isn't it.

I ponder a lot what we have been through as a family of 4 being in this medical whirlwind. Only a couple of friends I am close to truly know what it's been like because they are living it too.

Med school, babies, young husband and wife footing the bill for school. Building a family while Paul studies day after day, year after year for the next test. For boards. For more boards. Moving, not having family with in a 500 mile radius. Moving again, then again. New jobs, new schools, new friends. Trying to keep contact with old friends. Juggling life, finances, debt. Looking forward to "what's next". Wondering "what's next"? Moving again!

It's all our choice and we have no regrets. But it is a lot like a roller coaster ride. When Paul studies, we all feel like we're studying. As he waits to take Boards...we're all waiting in our household. The stress for one is the stress for all. The waiting for one is waiting for us all. When he gets a new job, it feels like we all do.

It is a ride that has taken us to the most amazing places and through awesome experiences. An enjoyable and rewarding ride.

And then a ride that seems too long, too nauseating, too time consuming and leaves me wanting to get off!

I'm the type that likes to add whimsy whenever possible. Fun wherever it can be inserted.

And there are moments that are excruciating to get through. Moments in marriage, motherhood, in life. They're not fun adventures. They require patience. But life is like that. Seasonal.

But that's what makes it exciting. Not boring. And rewarding. The good with the bad. It's all part of the circus. The glamour of the elephants mixed with the smell of......well animals and what comes with them. That's the joy of the county fair. The rides and snow cones and fried oreos.....along with the.....nausea!

You take the highs with the lows of disappointment.

But no matter what. Above all else, you don't quit. Especially on a low. And you stick together. You let no outside forces ever come between what takes decades to build. And what no one can truly know better than those in it. A family.

A family Circus.

And I am buckled in and enjoying the ride. All of it.

Friday, September 19, 2014

The Life You Create

On my desk upstairs that is in the window inset of the playroom that my husband surprised me with for my 35th birthday, I have a little sign that reads:

I truly believe this to the core of my being.

I remember being in high school scrolling through what I wanted to major in and "be" when I grew up. I loved competitive debate so the thrilling need for success part of me wanted to be a lawyer. But more than debate I loved children. So I thought child psychologist. I settled on that a long while and tried for a couple of months to picture me doing that.

Then one day before I started college but very close to starting I changed my mind. I had an epiphany that whatever you do for your job should bring you joy. I imagined all the years as a kid playing school.

I realized I could work and feel like I was playing and that's how I chose education.

I also realize that we are allowed to change our lives at any moment. I've blogged about the moment my kids were 4 and 7 and I realized I wanted to be with them and teach them more than other people's kids! That was the moment I decided to make a huge change that came to fruition 3 years later-which is now-staying at home to be a mom and wife full time.

There are things I do that are by my own accord (accord-give or grant someone power, status, recognition) that bring me insurmountable joy. Insurmountable-too great to overcome.

Yes, I do things that bring me so much joy that nothing can overcome it :) And I grant myself the power to do so....and even more powerful- I do it in Jesus' name because he wants us to live loving joyous lives.

I feel like many times we are too busy comparing ourselves and bathing in the misery of being lesser than to enjoy what exquisite gifts we already have. I imagine this is just what the devil wants. To divert us from our joy to a path of never ending misery.

When I take control of bringing in and keeping my joy and not placing it on the burden of how others treat me, think of me, acknowledge me....I win!

I realize sometimes I get frustrated or angry that my husband doesn't do this or do that or be like this with our kids like I am or I do, but I am realizing just like I am in control of my joy he is in control of his and we cannot expect everyone to experience joy the same way.

This is what brings me joy:

Creating a home that rises up to greet me (as I've heard on Oprah how a home should be!)

There are certain things I put in my home on walls, on the fridge, all around and when I pass them I feel joy. Reminders. Memories of moments. Jokes. Mantras for life. Words :) Flowers. Things that create feelings of comfort in me.

Also magazine and books-everywhere :)

My sister's art. When I see it I see her and everything she is-beautiful, creative, giving, my second mom.

Memories and accomplishments:

Build your house. Create the life you want. I don't get to do this every morning but usually every week or so, I don't have appointments, volunteering, errands and the house is quiet, the weather is cool and fallish and I make myself the same favorite breakfast I love one egg, wheat toast with blackberry preserves my mom got me from the Loveless Cafe.

Today after I ate I was just sitting. It was cool but the sun was out and I was just watching my dog and a butterfly flew right on my shirt and landed on my tray.

It was so pretty I thought it looked like it could have been painted on the tray. That is just joy. It's simple. It's free. It's not work. It's a gift.

The other day after volunteering at W's school I got to go visit a friend and cuddle her 9 month old baby. I got to pick him up straight from his crib and feed him a bottle. Smell the new baby from heaven smell. That is beyond joy for me it's like a miracle on Earth. Then we met up later for pedicures. The friendship is the joy-way better than even a pedicure. But in between that I went to Panera and had a sandwich outside and watched a little brown bird scrounging for crumbs. It was quiet and there was only a few people around in the middle of a weekday. I had been running like crazy all week from appointment to appointment, copying papers, working at W's school, trying to do things for the kids. And here I was at this peaceful breezy outdoor table having a rare moment of solitude.

It cost me a whopping $5....to experience this kind of peace and quiet and a great meal. I decided to put that on my repeat list!

Then there is unexpected joy. It happens like teachable moments for teachers with students. The unplanned but so entertaining. The other day a hummingbird got stuck in our garage that was open. He would not fly out. We tried scaring him out with a broom. Nothing worked. Finally my husband gave it a try after my failed attempts. He made this make shift hummingbird net out of his golfing net and broom. When he got the bird finally it looked like it was nearly dead. Wouldn't move. I realized soon though he was the true meaning of scared to death. When Paul let him go outside of the garage he flew with a burst of energy high up into a tree next-door. I was squealing with delight-He lives he lives! We laughed because we have seen a bunny die right before our very eyes at our other house and thought for a second this could be a repeat-the exact opposite of joy! Haha.

Many times in my life from a very early age I have "learned" depression. I saw the effects of drugs, alcohol, and depression on people I loved. I learned it. I had to Unlearn it. I had to learn joy. Research it. Practice it. Write about it. Seek it.

I truly believe God gives us desires, hobbies, and quirks that bring us each a unique kind of joy, whether it is cooking, working, learning, fishing, painting, singing, nature, fashion. The list is limitless.

Use the desires of your heart that God placed there to embrace and bring joy because as you look around there is a plethora of things that are waiting to bring us joy!

And never never forget-HIS GRACE is new every morning! So if you don't get it right today. Like I usually don't. Try again tomorrow with your new grace :)