Monday, November 19, 2012

Thanks moment

What kind of non-writer would I be, during a holiday week, if I didn't not-write pertaining to the holiday? Being Thanksgiving week, I feel it only appropriate (and somewhat obligatory) to do a "thanks" piece. After all, with the exorbitant amount of change to have taken place this past year, it's only fitting that I find the joy and happiness in both past, present and future. I do have a lot to be thankful for, and as a rule, I am a truly and genuinely grateful person. However, I don't think I've ever formally pronounced my thanks. I'm quick to thank, but not to stop and praise, not to truly think about why I'm thankful.

Pink Elephant Thai Restaurant Swords, Dublin Ireland
To be honest, Thanksgiving has never been one of my favorite holidays. I love food, family and a warm home on a cold November day, but it has always seemed so much like a much-ado-about-nothing kind of day for me. I do not begrudge those around me a festive Thanksgiving, but I feel (as with so many holidays) that the point is so lost in the hubbub. I would be just as happy having everyone together with culinary endeavors even if the plates were paper.  Until recently, my favorite holiday was the one in 2002 that David and I spent in a Thai restaurant in Ireland. Despite the fact that both of us are at least moderately intelligent people (most of the time), we hadn't put it together that the Irish didn't celebrate Thanksgiving... it was just another day. Regardless, we called our families that day from another country to let them know we were thankful for them, thereby honoring the true meaning of the holiday.  This year we are gathering with a new group of people, but that doesn't mean that the spirit of Thankgivings past is not with us. That's the point- to hold onto the memories and be thankful for them.

My dining room last Thanksgiving 2011

More than anything, the people in our lives help us to become who we are, but I also feel that our life experiences shape us and are something to be thankful for. Our personal goals and qualities contribute to what we present to others and how we affect their lives. It's important to reflect and be grateful for all that has helped to mold us, who we are now, and what we are to become. 

This year I feel blessed because we have begun a new adventure and the path set before us is full of great opportunities.
I am thankful for the Colorado sun, Rocky Mountains and Illinois Rivers and forests.
I am thankful for getting to be greeted every morning by an original masterpiece in the sky, and welcomed home by the same.
I am thankful for the ability to forge new relationships, and the courage it takes to do so.
I am thankful for my husband... but everyone already knows that.
I am thankful for the Princess Pop Star in the backseat, and the Preschool Picasso.
I am thankful for their sets of matching sapphire eyes.
I am thankful for the stories they tell and the laughter they bring.
I am thankful for the dreams we have yet to live and the moments we are living right now.
I am thankful for waking up every morning and feeling progress.
I am thankful for the family that we're loving more every day and the friends that we love so deeply it hurts.
I am thankful for the freedom to change and the willingness it takes to do so.
I am thankful for warmth.
I am thankful for patience, which takes everything I have.
I am thankful for the moral code that I live by, and that it seems to be working.
I am thankful for my demeanor because it hurts too much to be mean or angry.
I am thankful for love and the universe's manifestation of that in my life.
I am thankful for inspiration, and hope that by being grateful for it I'll be rewarded with a constant flow.
I am thankful for ambition, and my ability to moderate it.
I am thankful for the strength to make hard choices that I believe in even if no one else understands.
I am thankful for conviction because it helps define my purpose.
I am thankful for ALL of my family who helped shape who I am, taught me right and wrong and how to love. We are all over the country, but we are bound.
I am thankful for my closest friend whose support is undying and everlasting even when I make her crazy.
I am thankful for knowing what it's like to have incredible neighbors and even more incredible friends.
I am thankful for being able to laugh easily. Finding joy in everything makes life more pleasant to live.
I am thankful for having a different definition of life than others and the fortitude to live it.
I am thankful for fluidity.
I am thankful that my little unit of four has such a strong and charismatic dynamic.
I am thankful for the perpetual music in our lives no matter where we are.
I am thankful for learning and life lessons and character building.
I am thankful for everything done in my life up to this moment.
I am thankful for the tears expended which have hastened my grow.
I am thankful for higher education and the enormous impact it's having on my present.
I am thankful for my healthy fear of mortality which keeps me cherishing every minute of life.
I am thankful for the future and the us to be created that we have yet to share with the world.
I am thankful for moments of design and being able to share them with the world if for no reason other than exposing them makes them seem more genuine and real.
I am thankful for every day. Even if that's cliche.

Moment of Design Captured...

Friday, November 16, 2012

Balance moment

In the car every morning, as I coffee treat the sleep out of my eyes and traverse the hour long journey toward the grade school and college, my sidekick and travel buddy greets me with the following statement, "Hey Mom! Can I sing you a song?" I turn off the NPR story that I've just settled in to and listen quietly as she sets up her act. "Ahem ahem" *throat clear* "You are listening to 'Rocky' (that's her stage name apparently) on 93.3 (our second favorite local station after NPR of course)" Then I hear a series of doo-doo-doos and she launches into a string of "baby I love you", "baby you make my heart feel like it's on fire", "baby you really hurt me but I still like you", and my personal favorite "baby we can do this, we can make it till the end of the world." Every once in a while, she'll change it up with a western ditty about riding on the range under the stars. After one especially thought provoking rendition of "baby we can do this, we can make it till the end of the world" she described a scene in a dark room with two people in love holding hands as the flame of a candle went out...

She then explained to me that when the candle went out the world ended. My mind went in many different directions after that one. Is she contemplating death? Does she worry about the end of the world? Is this an audible manifestation of a dark rooted fear? In other words, my mind went ridiculous. I projected some adult representation onto my seven year old's clearly descriptive and over dramatic image from some creative place in her head. She doesn't feel dark as dark yet. Depression in 2nd grade? I'm not saying it's unheard of or unrealistic, but it is highly unlikely for my child given the fact that the root of my fear for her feelings and darkness tendencies came on the tail end of about a hundred "baby I love you's". She is so deep. Funny with all the pop star imagery, but it's true. It sounds ludicrous, I know, but some of the things this kid says are so super serious and she thinks at a level that I no longer think even I am capable of tapping into. I'm not afraid of darkness, and I truly know she's prone to it. I just want her to harness it and use it for good.

It's humorous to me how I naturally assume she understands adult ideology with relation to the things she divulges and says without even knowing I'm listening. We were riding home one evening and she was pretending to have a conversation on her fake cell phone with a "partner" of hers who had just lost his job. She told her "partner" that he could go out and get another one- maybe one that was less expensive so he wouldn't have to give it up. As I stifled the hysterical laughter so as not to let her know I was listening it occurred to me that her impression of what "choosing" a profession was is how you would choose anything else. You carefully select one you like and can afford. I know we've let her know how it works, but she couldn't wrap her head around someone giving YOU money to do something you like. It was priceless.

It also made me realize how carefully she's listening and absorbing the things around her, in particular the very adult things.

With regard to occupation, I do want her to feel like she can choose, and should choose something she loves. I do not want her to strictly put financial emphasis on it, but I don't want her to devalue the idea of creating a comfortable life for yourself while doing something you love. It's possible, and though David and I have gone about it in a roundabout way, we continue to strive for that. We do what we love, but not to the detriment of the family unit, and instead to benefit it. Evelyn wants to be a pop star, which of course I'll support, but it's going to pain me to level the dream with some inevitable reality. She also laid out her plan for buying up every abandoned restaurant along our drive, rehabilitating it with immense amounts of sparkly things and renaming them all simply "Glow". (If I ever had a doubt she was still a 7 year old girl, right?) Regardless, I'll buy into that dream, too... once she shows me her business plan.

With regard to love, I know we're on the right path to leading that example. It's amazing to hear her depiction of the perfect relationship (which I have to hear every morning beginning at approximately 7:15 a.m.). I  am pleased that we are the model she chooses to emulate. No matter which scenario she spins, she explains that love is hard work, but they can do anything. I only know it's her father and I because she told me. "You and Daddy love each other no matter what. Even when you're both sad you still smile at each other." It broke my heart... in a good I'm-doing-something-right type of way.

With regard to darkness, I fell in love with a dark man, and had more than one child with him... it's inevitable. I am drawn to it. I actually prefer that she's not all rainbows and butterflies. I want her to be open about her thoughts about things that are different from "the norm". When she draws me a picture of gloom with her words, I only ask her to balance the gloom with a bit of light. I don't know if it's the right thing, but I only know that with most things balance is key. I struggle with balance constantly, and I expect that my progeny will do the same. I have to remember that it's possible for her to feel things bigger than herself, and it will take the balance to keep her from being swallowed by it.

My relationship with my daughter has always been one of challenge, breakthroughs, intensity and the deepest love you can feel for another human being.  I find moments of relief in our humorous times and moments of sorrow when we don't understand one another. Realizing that she is still a baby at times, who feels things with such depth is the key to finding balance with Evelyn.  My introspection for the past few weeks has definitely wrapped itself around the enigma that is my eldest, as she has helped me create so many defining moments. It's amazing when you become a parent- there is an immense amount of pressure to create these thriving and productive creatures of society, but as cliche as it sounds, they create us. We are left to strike the balance.

Moment of Design Captured...

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Expectations Moment

What has exceeded your expectations lately? What do you do to exceed expectations? I have been contemplating this for nearly a week and have discovered that expectations are changeable and relative. Expectations are completely contingent upon standards and past experiences. I believe that disappointment is a natural part of life, and can help to shape expectations, as well as form standards. Expecting the worst can ensure that expectations are exceeded, but it's pessimistic and unrealistic and not my style.  It's also very hard to live always expecting the worst. The best experiences have been the ones entered into with no true concept of what's to come.

Earlier this week, we went to a performance by Evelyn's school at the Civic Center in Greeley. Every year they put together a themed exhibition for friends, family and the open public. This year it was the 3rd, 4th & 5th graders along with the staff, singing, dancing and doing a 10 year review called "Chappelow Goes to Pieces". We went to support the school as well as to get an idea of what it would be like for her in the near future. We had very little idea of what it was like and no interest in setting expectations. The Civic Center was so full when we got there that we had to sit in the balcony section and situated ourselves toward the stage, hoping to see anything.  As the lights went down and the curtain went up, we could see enough, but it was what we heard. It was so quality. It started with Rock 'n Roll, showcased Motown, and even did a tribute to the Godfather. Not only was the music well orchestrated, but Chappelow has a phenomenal Deaf and Hard of Hearing program that blew us away. The interpreters were as spirited as the child performers. The staff, including the principal, did a Broadway medley, with choreography. They call themselves the Off-Keys, but they were far from it. We were floored. It felt great when we left the show, validated that we had made the right choice by switching Evelyn's school. We began with no expectations.

Entering into any situation expecting perfection guarantees disappointment, as expectations will never be met. Nothing will ever meet the standards set by perfection. I have begun taking in every situation with no other intention than to get the most out of it, good or bad.  When you put pressure on life experiences to live up to inflated expectations, resentment and discontent breeds. We choose the perception of the situation and can change the outcome based on what we need it to be. We don't have a choice in what others do or how they present, but we choose how to view it and how to feel about it.

When I try a new recipe, I look at the ingredients individually and assess how they might work together, but I have no idea what to truly expect. I find that expecting each recipe, just by sizing up the ingredients, to be incredible, I am often let down. My favorite recipes are the simplest, that are attempted under no duress. Each ingredient works together to create the experience by reacting to the others in its way. Some ingredients are unpredictable and can alter the experience. Once it becomes a past experience, the expectations will be more realistic.

When we visit a place for the first time, it's difficult not to have preconceived notions. Often we are attending because of a recommendation, or a review that struck an interest. It is difficult to remove the emotional response based on expectations and standards. It's a tough practice to walk in and just see without needing the environment to answer some unspoken question. We went to a trail head last weekend and it was difficult for me to remove the disappointment I felt about what we encountered. The place itself was pleasant, quiet and interesting, but I needed it to be something more, which I couldn't describe. It took my daughter's enthusiasm about how much her expectations were being exceeded to snap me out of my disenchantment. It ended up being lovely once I lowered my expectations.

I will never achieve perfection, a fact that I am very comfortable with. You are what you make yourself, and I realized that I have no interest in being perfect. I cannot live up to that expectation and I don't want to be experienced as disappointing. On the other side of that coin, I do not strive to set myself at a low standard either.  I am comfortable with who I am inherently, and in being so, it is easier to try to exceed others' expectations. I know what the expectations of me are, so I can be better than that often. It's easy to give a little extra when you know where you stand. I will never be less kind, diligent or ambitious. I will never give my family less than all, and I am always trying to better myself.

My children are consistently exceeding my expectations because I don't need them to be much. I definitely have high standards for their behavior, but they surprise and inspire me with their constant over achieving. I have never sat and poured over letters, but they both read before preschool. I have never drilled numbers, but they play their games involving math. I expect them to be interested, but I never expect them to be as in tuned with the universe as they are. 

As we create who we are, we have the choice to set the standard of living. Other people will undeniably have their expectations of who we are, but we have the option of proving them right or wrong. I'm not advocating for low standards, but I am a proponent of just "being" and letting life exceed expectations.  I wouldn't encourage being a stunted personality, but leave room for surprising people. Experiences are shaped by standards and expectations, meaning that we have control over how we perceive what happens in our lives. It is none of our business how others view us, but we can create how we want to be viewed. I choose to exceed expectations.

Moment of Design Captured...

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Simple Moment

It was easy for me to see today how simple we really are.  Every time we have an occasion or an event, we try to make some grandiose and unnecessary happening out of it because we think that's what we're supposed to do. Today I really realized how little it actually takes to make us happy.  I don't think it was a moment of, "it took me this long to realize it" or a moment of, "NOW, I decide we don't need much" but instead a moment of affirmation of what I already really knew. I get so irritated by stuff...things...junk. I hate the spending pain of commercialism and the culmination of things that never have a home in my home. Shopping has never been an enjoyable activity and I truly never analyzed just why that is. It's easy to identify things that you like to look at, or that would make your life more convenient, but it's hard to identify why they don't actually make you happy. There are immaterial simplicities that we cannot live without.  When you have a day full of those simple things, it's apparent that it's what you need.

We need music. For so long, we have always just taken music for granted. It's just a natural and assumed part of our every day. We talk about it regularly, look for new artists and celebrate old, but every once in a while we have a moment where we realize how fundamentally important it is to our life. I was always so proud that my parents listened to modern music and also shared the music from their childhoods, including what their parents listened to. We had the most diverse and interesting music library.  Today at lunch, Evelyn started singing a Foo Fighters song. I beamed. She is also incredibly excited that her school will be performing a reenactment (elementary school style) of "Thriller" on Halloween. She has been thirsting for Michael Jackson songs for days.  Ronan, throughout the day, alternately sang Muse and the White Stripes. They also very much favor the Beatles.  They know all of the words to Cat Steven's "Moonshadow." Music is the only thing that can take my wound up children and bring them to some semblance of normalcy.  Every time I catch one of them humming a tune, I am certain that we're doing something right.  Music, for us (and probably a lot of people), can take a normal moment and make it extraordinary, and often does.

We need good food.  NOT complicated food, just good food. Quality barbecue, pasta sauce that has simple flavors, but takes tending and time, foods that shows that someone cares.  We always prefer dishes with simple ingredients, and hate fussy. We also love craft beer and simple wine. We don't need much, but to indulge once in a while to remind us that we prefer simpler things.  Our children eat candy when we let them, but they prefer fruit.  We choose farmers' markets over shopping centers.  It's enlightening to try things that people have made and it makes us feel more alive to support their work as we enjoy it. It's essential to our happiness and reminds us that we are given the gift of discretion.

We need outside.  The simple act of walking outside can completely reset my whole state of mind.  When we are looking for something to do to bring us closer together, my little unit will find a new trail and go for a walk.  Our daughter gets so excited in nature that it's contagious. Our son identifies outside as adventure. Both have a budding love for geology and botany. The air and the sun and just being in the presence of trees elevates us.  Today we found a trail in the town that we're moving to, that despite it not being the most scenic we've ever been to, left us hand-in-hand proclaiming that we are the coolest and happiest family ever. That happened. We actually announced it.  David rolled his eyes a little, but we know he thinks it's true.

We need us. For the last 3 years I have worked every Friday and Saturday. I did it for the greater good, and at the time I defended it as the best option, but it wasn't until I regained my weekends that I realized how much I had missed. Our Saturdays are so important. We wake up together, have coffee (not the kids), talk about the week and choose our own adventure for the day.  When we have our activity planned, we all motivate together and find the joy in each moment. Even the days that we stay in are an adventure. We play, cook, sing, and remember why we work so well.  When you don't have the time to be together, you realize how much you really need it.  For the first time in a very long time, we have a schedule that is conducive to being together.

There was a very literal moment today when I stopped in my tracks and realized that we were happy.  It was a moment when I realized how little it took to make that happen.  There is hope for us yet. It was so simple. Today.

Moment of Design Captured...

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Eleven year moment

I have been trying to write for days. Under no circumstance do I believe that I am "blocked" because I refuse to see my self as a "writer" but I feel like there was some stifled creativity, certainly. I had a whole concept laid out, beginning with "I hate Chick flicks" but it went no where, short of a rant that I wasn't proud of. I do hate chick flicks, but it didn't feel organic or authentic.  In fact, I felt like I was forcing an irrelevant issue.  There is so much to feel. Lately my empathy has been on overdrive and my brain is impossible to quiet.

I was quieted this morning, and finally inspired.

I have made so many life altering choices, as have most people in their early 30s, but none have changed my life so much as the one I made eleven years ago today. It was the only one I've made that has impacted every facet of my life, every moment of every day. What's even more impacting is the fact that I have never second guessed the decision or looked for opportunities, but instead I feel better and more certain about it as time goes by.

Eleven years ago me was very young, very independent and very impulsive. I'm still two out of three.
I was stubborn, strong, and clueless... debatable today.
I was free to do anything, but felt encumbered by the freedom.
I was a dreamer with plans of grandeur.
I was selfish and drfiting.
I wanted to build a foundation, but wasn't sure how. So I did what I knew.
I explored every weekend, spending most evenings in martini clubs, irish pubs or jazz bars, and most mornings with bloody marys.
I didn't want children or a house.
I wanted what I still want today for our future.
I was not alone. I had chosen a partner who walked the wreckless and youthful path with me step by step. We created something untouchable.

Eleven years ago him was dark and charming. He is still two out of two.
He was stubborn, strong and clueless...
He was creative and recreating himself. No, he was finding himself.
He found a side of himself that had yet to be tapped into. So he did what he knew.
He made friends, adventured beside me and located the next situation for our latest endeavor.
He brought me bloody marys.
He didn't want children or a house.
He wanted a future for us, but did not know what.
He was a partner who appreciated our life and complemented my every move. We were in unison.

Today me is a lot like me of eleven years ago, but nothing like her as well.
Parenting is a craft and a priority.
Foundation is foremost.
Now I am finding myself.
I find joy in the smallest things and don't drink martinis quite as often.
I still want what I wanted then.
I don't subscribe to feminism because bras are expensive to burn and I think women should put the toilet seat down.
I feel less independent, but yearn for it everyday.
I would never throw a big wedding.
I need adventure but also security.
I am fighting to become the person I want to be.
I am, because of my partner more stubborn, strong, young, free and defined. I don't ever feel alone.

Today him is nothing like he was and also very similar.
He is more compassionate, but can be less tolerant.
He works to use the empathy within him.
He wants a foundation.
He is loving and strong and free.
He thinks chicks who like hot wings and beer make the best wives.
He is a phenomenal father who strives to perfect his methods and craft.
He likes adventure, but prefers stability.
He is comfortable being the person he wants to be.
He bakes the most incredible signature banana bread.
He is open to my schemes, and a willing participant, but keeps me grounded.
He is love. He is driven by it, and it makes him eloquent.

For thirteen years, married for eleven, we have been falling in love with each other every day. He reminds me of that often. We realize that it takes effort to be married, but we have never felt the effort. He is my biggest moment of design, beginning with the day he proved to me how important accountability is.  It was just a moment ago that we were in our new twenties, sitting on the edge of the dock at my grandmother's cabin and he said for God and the world what I knew from the first moment. Those were the words of eleven years ago.

This morning I was awoken with these words, "I know we are fated to be together, loving you is a choice, but falling in love with you again is out of my control."

Moment of Design Captured...

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Scheming Moment

Often as a child, we used to drive to Joliet, IL, the town next to us, regularly to visit my Grandfather's warehouse and construction business.  On the road we drove along the I&M Canal where we had always seen a myriad of water vehicles and other vessels docked along the way.  Each one was part of the ordinary, and none of that scene had ever resonated as noteworthy. However, when I was 10, there was a houseboat. It was large, white..ish, and abandoned. We had seen it many times, and I had noticed it, but it wasn't until I saw the "For Sale" sign that it had firmly implanted itself in my heart.  It was right then and there that I started scheming.  I did what I usually do when I'm scheming, I got a notebook.  I had a large collection of notebooks... and I still do.  This particular notebook contained my 10 year old perception of what it would cost to buy and renovate a houseboat.  I would give anything to have that notebook right now.  I still remember that I believed it would cost $10,000 to purchase the boat.  It WAS very run down, after all, and surely they wouldn't want much more than that.  My actual rationale for this pricing structure was that $10,000 would be a reasonable offer for anything and then it wouldn't just sit there abandoned as an eye sore.  I was going to save it, so how could they resist my offer?

Not the actual boat of my affection... but you get the idea.
I had outlined how I was going to save it, beginning with my plan for doing chores and odd jobs until I had saved $10,000.  Proving how clueless I was, I pitched the idea to my parents, who tried desperately not to laugh, then gently told me it would be years and years before I saved that much doing chores.  I told them it wouldn't matter, because a 10 year old can't drive a houseboat anyway. The only catch was that I was so worried that someone was going to snatch up my great find and sputter it down the I&M before I had saved enough. My brainstorming about this predicament led me to one conclusion: I was going to have to borrow the money from someone, and soon.  But in order to do that, I'd have to be persuasive and have a detailed plan of attack.  I started with aesthetics. I had color schemes, materials, layouts(even though I had never seen the inside of the area) and furniture choices. Of course, I never really took into account the fact that the thing might not run at all. I just knew I wanted to make it beautiful again. Long story short, I did not save $10,000, did not find an investor, and I am not sailing the I&M Canal (which is so gross, by the way) in a fancy remodeled houseboat. But for a whole year, that boat was the object of my affection, and it didn't even know I intended to save it from it's destiny as a ruined relic of the canal.

I come from a long line of emotionally driven "savers". My maternal Grandfather, who owned the afore mentioned warehouse, was legendary in Joliet for his kindness and his saving.  He used to employ the homeless folks that resided around the warehouse property, giving them odd jobs, some that he would create on the spot, just to get them out of the cold. He would handout Government issued cheese to the local people in the neighborhood around the warehouse. The warehouse itself was a save. He took a decrepit, old, and very large building and turned it into a flourishing family business. We walked around the place like royalty. I can still remember every corner.  When they tore it down, we each got a brick. It was a palace...

My mother used to take in every friend of ours, friend of theirs, or friend of a friend of a friend who needed help. It didn't matter the background or circumstance, she just wanted to help in any small way, to help themselves make a better life.  We spent years with an aunt, uncle or other relation in or around the house who needed refuge.  Saving didn't just extend to people, either. Every house we ever looked or lived in at had a better house inside of it just waiting for my parents to chisel away at the issues to set it free.

I caught the gene... OK, inherited the gene. Sometimes it is not a blessing, but only because it pains me to let things not be saved. When we look at a gorgeous old Italianate style house with a crumbling exterior, some see dollar signs a exorbitant amounts of work, I see the house it its glory days, then try to find a way to relive them. When David and I decided to house hunt for the first time, the first house we looked at was 150 years old, gutted and incredible. I thought it was the most amazing thing I had ever seen, and to this day I see the enormous arched pocket doors, marble floors that were preserved and the bathroom that was the size of my whole house marching randomly through my daydreams.  It had been purchased by a man who couldn't finish the challenge and it truly only needed aesthetic finishes. It was still too much for David. No love lost, we kept it simple. However, I was stunned at how the notebooks came out, the scheming started and nothing had changed in 20 years. I was 10 years old, trying to find a way to save $10,000 for a houseboat.

We really don't change deep down from what we are inherently as children. I still get nervous when I face the thought of sitting in the cafeteria by myself, I get anxious about asking people to be my "friends" on Facebook or otherwise for fear of rejection, and I scheme constantly. I can vividly remember all of these associations as a child. All that has changed are my motives.

Recently, I had an idea that I feel so strongly about, I started a notebook. It is a raw and vague idea about arts and underprivileged teens, but it lit something, nonetheless. I realize that there are a million reasons why it is not a good idea to scheme about anything new right now... we have enough new... but I feel so compelled to this idea that I had to take a step back and examine my motives. Which I would NOT have done as a child, of course. My motives aren't selfishly motivated, such as the glory of driving a beautiful houseboat down the canal. I felt a very organic pull toward bettering a community, or at the very least, offering something of myself to help. My best friend, Mindy, always says that she believes her calling in life is "See a need, fill a need" (yes, that is a Robots reference- if you caught that). I guess it wasn't until I had the moment of realization that I was scheming to fill a need that I truly understood what she felt. My passion for the arts and a growing need to leave my mark in a community that needs growth and development spurred a scheme, rather than just a need to save beautiful landmark.  I had never really thought of my schemes as filling a need, but I suppose they always have been in one way or another. The brainstorming has begun, but the biggest difference is that I'm not in a hurry like I was as a child. The schemes are bigger, more involved and incredibly complicated, requiring more patience, and even if they never come to fruition, the scheme itself was good for the soul.

As soon as the notebook came out, I realized what I was doing, and vowed that I would never stop.

Moment of Design Captured...

Monday, October 1, 2012

Detour Moment

I have a 45 minute commute home after I leave my fantastic job. I'm a wind-up/wind-down kind of girl, so the drive has never bothered me.  The quiet time in the car to prep my mind for the day, and then at the end of it, to calm my mind before changing gears to be mom and wife has been welcome and pleasant. I don't feel anxious when I drive and even when I take the same roads I find something new every day to take notice of. 

I was tired and slightly worn today. I wasn't in a hurry to get home, but I felt fatigued by the second half of my drive.  The road seemed eerily clear in a place where congestion is standard.  I take rural, two lane highways, and I'm not an aggressive passer, so usually I just accept that the speed limit is unattainable.  Today I was cruising along and felt that my time to travel home was coming to a close.  Out of nowhere, the traffic in front of me came to a screeching halt.  Though it was several miles before it was revealed, there was a horrendous accident ahead, with no casualties, as I was told by the civilian gentleman helping to direct traffic.  When I felt the relief of knowing that no one was seriously injured, I went about my way.  Unfortunately, I am new to the area and had no idea how to go about my way...

Yes, I was hungry and felt the weight of the day, but I don't usually feel inconvenienced by a detour.  At first my little inner voice said, "Damn, my family is waiting for me" but then I realized that it was not me in the accident ahead of me, and what was the big deal about a few extra miles anyway?  Well... it ended up being a bit more than a few miles.  I have a great sense of direction, not to mention that I live in the Front Range of Northern Colorado, so I know all I need to know is that the mountains are west, but I had no control over where the roads just... stopped.  I took a few more turns than I probably needed to, but just as I was beginning to feel a little agitation I turned down the most beautiful country road. I wound through green fields (in a drought that is a rare sighting) and pastures with horses literally galloping through it together. I felt like I was in a movie, or at least a car commercial. The sun was setting over the mountains, which I was facing, because I knew I needed to go west, and the silhouette of the range was breathtaking.  Every few hundred feet, another beautifully manicured, but rustic homestead would surface in my peripheral vision.  It was surreal.

I would never have seen that road if I hadn't had to turn around and veer off my course.  I know that this reference is cliche, but I really did need this moment to realize something very true about and very signature to my personality.  I turn detours into adventures.  I am happier when I can see a fork in the path as a quest, not a set back. Once I was captivated by the newness of the picturesque scenery, I didn't feel the pressure to get directly to my destination.  That calm allows for better judgment calls and a lesson in what it feels like to employ patience.

Evie's a pro, Grandma's discouraged
I was never the child who asked if we were "there yet" and as an adult, I feel that it's counter-intuitive to the course of life to try to get to the end without appreciating the drive.  Again, cliche, but it's truly amazing how often we do that.  My affection for detours and journeys translates into a multitude of other moments.  A couple of weeks ago, we had been asked to join a couple that we hadn't been out with before to go gold panning in the mountains.  We are always up for a new experience, so we went willingly, hauling gear and armed with food and cameras.  The site was gorgeous. We had a shallow embankment on the side of a river in Golden, Colorado.  It was not a remote area, but we had the shore to ourselves and set up a little home base for our gold panning excursion.  We rolled up our pant legs, collected our tools and waded into the icy water.  The temperature was warm that day, with a light breeze and the sun shining off of the water. I was captivated by the scene.  The couple we were with did a tutorial on the technique of gold panning and gave us tips for methodology.  It was awkward at first, but we got the hang of the the movement and eventually the anticipation of finding a flake of gold was all encompassing.  Even Evie was getting into it, and was a natural at finding the elusive black sand where the gold hung out.

We spent several hours in the water, sitting on the boulders and sifting through river sand. Our companions began to get discouraged and impatient with the lack of gold findings, but all I could think was,"This moment is so unique and memorable."  I loved the process. I had absolutely no expectations. I loved the excitement my children felt at doing something brand new and unusual. I just smiled every time a disparaging comment was made, reminded my family that it was about the experience and didn't allow myself to be influenced to get to the end.

It's hard not to feel happy here.

I find that when I go against my instinct to enjoy the ride I am not as happy, and I don't appreciate the destination as much. Our experiences help shape who we are and I believe that every detour is a moment of design.  I've read that people who spend their money on experiences rather than things are happier overall.  I believe that. I try to document as many new big moments, but the small moments of detour through the country are just as important.  I want to always be able to look out the window and see the journey, and not just ask if we're there yet.

Moment of design captured...

Friday, September 28, 2012

The Giving Tree Moment

The first thing I noticed when I pulled in the driveway of the offset country home on Stony Point Road was the archway of ash trees that lined the entrance way. It was not a long driveway, and the canopy was warm and inviting. There were a multitude of other things to notice about this particular home from the long row of rhubarb plants, to the (what used to be a) strawberry patch and most notably the tree that had been "repaired" and lovingly named "Frankentree".  More than anything I just remember the feeling I that took over when I pulled in under the ash trees. It was safe.

The home belongs to the family of my closest friend, and is worth note because it has long been a place of haven and solace for her, and anyone who she graces with the opportunity to share it with her.  As is true with any childhood homestead, she holds on to the moments and memories that she had there, and she also stands to inherit the place someday.  We have been on many adventures on Stony Point Road; walking the grounds as she told tales of the landmarks, harvesting the fruit and vegetables, and taking family pictures by the most scenic areas. The ash trees that line the driveway were hand dug by her father and lovingly planted to represent each member of the family.  Her brother's tree has required a constant hand and diligent care, but it is thriving and symbolic. Trees provide a certain majesty which, when in our lives over time, we take for granted.

She recently discovered that the Emerald Ash Borer has made it's way to their town and has been found at the property directly next to the family home. It is devastating. The insect's presence is an inevitable doom to these statuesque arboreal beauties. She told me in our chat last night and we cried.  She sobbed.  I knew that it was so much more than the trees. She loves trees, has a degree in forestry and sits on her town's tree commission, but it's so much more than the trees.  "Frankentree" exists because this family can't bring themselves to remove anything of value from the property.  It's the helplessness that she feels at having to watch a symbol of her youth and memory of her childhood disappear. Trees represent a strong and unwavering hope, but are also just as vulnerable as hope.

My only words to her were to take as many pictures as she could, with and without members of the family and create a plan for planting new.  It'll be a difficult thing for her family and the transition will be painful, but facing the inevitability of it head on and making positive moments will allow her some closure.

There aren't many things that hold that level of value in my heart. My loved ones, of course, occupy that space, but there are no trees. There are landmarks of my childhood, stories that endure and pictures of places that hold meaning. I don't feel like I've missed out on something, but there is a part of me that wants the trees.  And not just for me.  It's so rare that families are still in the same home they grew up in.  It's even more rare that it has been passed down for generations.  My children may never have the quintessential "childhood home" because it is no longer the norm and our choices have led us down a different path.  Sometimes I feel like I want to give them that, but I'm not sure that's who we are.  I think planting roots is admirable and steadfast. It takes a commitment level that our parents' parents had. I love the possibility and ideology of settling down but I am also self aware enough to know that if opportunity presents itself and will enable my family more of anything, I usually weigh the options. I feel that it's important to stay fluid, at least for now. I'm willing to change as our needs, wants and ideals do. I love tradition, and will continue to create and establish them for our little unit. Our challenge is accepting that we do not fit the mold of stationary life while surrounded by stationary life.

Trees are stationary and look like pillars of security, but they are just as susceptible to extraneous circumstances as we are.  I feel that there is a lesson in my friend's loss. The association of this experience to my own introspection feels slightly narcissistic, but I was deeply moved by her plight. I have a strong sense of empathy and it hurt to hear her so sad. I thought about how hard it would be to lose something like that after so long.  I'm not trying to avoid hurt or loss, but it made me realize that investing in something so fragile can be precarious.  More importantly, I realized that I invest in precarious every day.  Love is precarious, change is precarious, life is precarious. I put myself out there every day, and I experience so much new that if I was going to be majorly derailed, it may have already happened.  I am not afraid of precarious, vulnerable or stationary.  I'm afraid of making choices that aren't right for my family, and ultimately for me. A deep part of me longs to plant the roots of a giving tree, but I needed the clarity to see that the roots that I plant are intangible. The friend that is losing the forest of ash trees is my ash tree.  My husband is my ash tree. My children are my ash tree. My family, though far away, are a canopy of ash trees.  Hopefully, I am theirs. I have deep roots already, and they are stationary.

Moment of design captured...

Monday, September 24, 2012

Come What May Moment

Sitting in the stone pergola, sipping on an ice water and admiring the grapevines and wood fire pizza oven, I sat with my children and took a moment to talk about our days.  It was a beautiful 75 degree day, sunny and breezy.  I have come to really enjoy the calm few moment when I first get home from work, right before the storm of evening. Evelyn told me a story about how a little girl that she goes to school with, and has been playing with was making bad choices. This little girl is so much trouble that I went against my philosophy of "not telling your children who they can be friends with" and told her to disassociate with this child.  It's one thing to not like your kid's friends, it is quite another to teach them about the power of association.  I do not want my daughter to spend anymore time with a 7-year-old who calls her "friend" a bitch.  SO...I told her she wasn't allowed to play with her anymore and let her know how to handle it at school. The hard part is, Evelyn's heart is like mine, and she wants so badly to avoid hurting anyone's feelings, that she would rather passively bow out than tell her the truth.  I told her that it was alright to feel that way, but that she needed to let this girl know that she did not like the way she was acting and that she didn't want to be part of it.  She was nervous at the idea of hurting this little girl's feelings.  I felt as she did, it was a true empathetic moment. 

Ronan listened with interest and patience as he awaited his turn to tell me about his day.  He stated so simply, "Evie, you aren't mean. Why is your friend mean?" And she got it.  "I don't want to be friends with a mean girl, and I don't want people to think I'm mean." I decided that Ronan gets to teach the life lessons from now on. Especially since not two minutes later, the heavens opened up out of nowhere and it began to rain.  My immediate reaction was to go inside, but the children looked at me and Ronan just said, "Why, Mom, it's just water from the sky?"  Two in a row, Son... you win.  We sat, with warm end-of-summer rain coming down on us, and tried to catch the drops.  I reveled in a still peace as we felt the breeze pick up and a raindrop fell onto Evie's eyelash.  I love the rain. I have always loved the rain. As a teenager, my sister and I used to dance in the rain with our friends and in one wonderful instance had even gone so far as to stand in a down pour to shampoo our hair... no joke.  I don't know when the moment came that rain became something to avoid.  After all, it's just water from the sky.  I let it happen.  I didn't lament my hair style, I didn't squirm because I felt damp.  My daughter stood up and let the hard moment of a friendship lesson wash away as she stood with her arms outstretched and her eyes closed.  It was the way it should be.  Sitting in the gentle rain and teaching my children that it's ok to just let go once in a while.  They were thrilled.  We did a rain dance and continued to talk about our days.

Later on, as I put Ronan to bed, he begged for a story, but not one from a book.  He asked that I tell him one, "Just from your voice". My automatic response is to say no because it's time for bed.  It was, after all, 10 minutes past his bedtime already.  I thought of the moment in the rain, and how happy we were, so I let go.  Out of nowhere came a story of a purple hippo named Cletus who asked all of the other animals on the savannah to teach him how to fly.  It was a ridiculously cute story and we laughed hysterically at the end of the "just my voice" tale when Cletus put on his "wings" and flew.  It felt so amazing. It was as if I had allowed myself some rare freedom.

The clarity of those moments came to me in a flash.  The reason that I felt so happy in those instances is because they were examples of how it feels to be the person I WANT to be.  I don't have any intention upon changing who I am fundamentally, but there are always things to improve upon.  Everyone wants to be more of something, everyone sees that they have potential to be more, feel more, do more. I have the potential to just let go.  I've always wanted to feel a bit more spontaneous.  Don't get me wrong, I will always have a multitude of lists and itineraries, but I need to be resolved to the idea of letting things go.  It is absolutely liberating, even in the tiny difference between saying No and Yes.  How much, ultimately, would it have changed the outcome of my life to have gone in the house when the rain started? I'll never know, but I gave myself the freedom to say yes after years of avoiding activities if there was going to be water falling from the sky. I make the choice between making that moment an adventure or an inconvenience.

I brought a purple hippo named Cletus to life for my son.  I can do that. I want to be the person that does that.  I want to be able to take things in a little easier stride, and I proved to myself today that not only am I capable of doing that, but it makes me happy to do that. 

When David and I started dating, we realized early on that we are not an ordinary couple.  We make choices that other people don't make, and we handle things that other people don't handle in a way that they don't handle it.  We like who we are and we are constantly focusing on the life that we are creating for ourselves.  We work together as a team very well because no matter what life throws at us, we put our heads together and find a positive way to make things better.  Our motto is "Come what may", and has been for 13 years. Until now, I didn't realize how much that can be applied to everything I do.  It's not just about our home life, it's about our way of life.  Instead of being fixated on how things should be, we need to be more fluid about how things are.  Change is necessary and life throws punches.  I like the way I feel when I don't try to force things my way and instead allow life it's flow and just go with it. Even if it just begins with a dance in the rain.

Moment of Design captured...

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Nesting Moment

So... over the last couple of days, there have been numerous little references to my childhood. On Friday, I had a conversation with my student employee, who is not a too much younger than I, about our respective childhoods. I tried to relate to her recount of the misgivings of her childhood, but it was an awkward, round about, not-really-relating-at-all kind of relating. As she spoke of her tumultuous relationship with her mother, all I could think about was how difficult it is to be a mother.  My attempt to relate to her was to say that parents work very hard to do the right thing by their children and don't even realize that they're working so hard to do it, or that it's not working at all.  The only tools a parent is given is what they've experienced from their own parents, parents they've associated with and natural instinct. That's a pretty primitive set of tools. From that perspective, I suddenly had so much clarity about my own parents.

When my sisters and I were growing up, we didn't realize our parents were "parenting" at all, and we NEVER felt them struggle.  We recognized only things like; Mom worked a lot in the house and liked things very clean, Dad worked a lot and was very tired, we eat a lot of spaghetti and canned green beans and our aunts and uncle are around a lot.  What we didn't see was; Mom is constantly picking up after us, sewing us clothes and running an in-home daycare, Dad works construction and is tired because he works overtime to make the house payment, we eat spaghetti because noodles are inexpensive and our family is always around because Mom and Dad are the ones that everyone goes to for everything.  The only things we new for sure were that we were loved and happy. The truth is, I don't even think my parents recognized the truth until much later in life. They didn't know that they were "working" to make everything seamless and comfortable for us, they just did it. They always did right by us, and we didn't know they were trying. Ultimately a great deal of sacrifice was made to create that environment, but at the time, I don't believe any of us knew that.

Recently, a song came on the radio that threw me back to one of the true and original moments of design from an early age. There is no way to properly narrate the feeling, so I will generalize the scene. Every Friday and/or Saturday night as I was growing up, my mom and dad and their brothers and sisters would get together and play music.  I remember it in the depths of my heart as if it were yesterday.  After begrudgingly being tucked into bed, we would crack our bedroom door and listen to my mother's beautiful strong singing voice, my father's soft baritone and a chorus of background singers and acoustic guitars playing rhythm to a huge range of genres.  My uncles kept time with my dad as he lead and my Aunt Dani would laugh and sing her few silly songs. Some nights, as we got older, we would get to stay up and sat silently to listen, or sing along to ourselves with the favorites.  Eventually, we sang with the aunts & uncles, who we adored and even made our own requests.  There was always music. 

Then tonight something amazing happened to finally seal that this was indeed a moment of design to hang on to.  For dinner we were having cube steaks, mashed potatoes and corn. I know this seems irrelevant, but hang on... My children were not complaining about it by any means, but they were just not into it.  David and I are exhausted of the perpetual dinner time battle of keeping them on task long enough to get through a meal in a timely and positive fashion.  Out of nowhere I made little "nests" out of the mashed potatoes, put corn in the middle and cut up the cube steak very small so they could eat it all together.  I have never done this for them and I don't know why because EVERY time we had that exact dinner as a child, my mother would make us "nests" out of the mashed potatoes, put corn in the middle and had named it a "West Virginia birdsnest". Which is spurred no doubt by some creative genius she came up with to get us to eat.  Dad's from West Virginia... that's the only explanation I have for the name of the creative genius. Honestly, I never asked her why she called it that, because I had kind of forgotten it.  But I'll ask now. My kids laughed and made their own "nests" and ate that dinner like they were starving.  It was a beautiful thing.

So how do all of these moments connect? They caused me to have the most startling and enlightening revelation that my childhood was an incredible, irrevocable success.  Granted, I never, ever felt that I had a bad or less-than childhood, but it wasn't until noticing these little moments, and comparing them to experiences of other people, as well as looking at my own parenting style that I realized how good it truly was. We never knew the pain that our parents felt. We never knew that they struggled constantly to provide a good life for us.  We never thought that they were anything less than wonderful.

But not being aware isn't what made our childhood successful, it was that the moments of good seemed to come so easily, and so frequently. It wasn't that our parents were perfect that made our childhood so good, it was that they weren't. They were just so real. I think it's very important to be imperfect as a parent.  You never want to be put on a pedestal of perfection because the first time you aren't perfect it's devastating to the child and to yourself.  I want them to know that I'm human, flawed and always trying to be the best version of myself, which is always a work in progress. It's nice to know, looking back, that my parents were OK with being wrong. They did their best to be right, but were also willing to be flawed. The important thing was that they always fixed what was broken to the best of their ability. They always worked to make things happy for us.  I remember feeling happy. However, I think the most important thing was that we always felt so much love. I never doubted that we were loved, and that we were always sure of the difference between right and wrong.  They taught us to be just and open minded and independent.  We were set up with a very efficient set of tools.

I took this revelation and analysis and applied it to my own parenting style.  It's very different, of course.  The world is different, my husband is more like my mother and I am my father.  We have a very different and interesting set of circumstances with which we live. So there's that. I am constantly evaluating myself as a parent and looking for ways to stay me and improve our lives at the same time.  I thought about how happy my children were with their "West Virginia bird's nests" and vowed to do more of the same in different scenarios and realms of involvement.  I tried to recall the way I felt as a child and then reverse engineered how to make my family life feel that way.  In short, we need to have more fun. I need to harness the inborn, as well as nurtured, gifts that I was given and use them to my advantage. This realization is a game-changer.  The simple things that it took to make us happy as children stemmed from the fact that our life was simple. It doesn't take change, or therapy or... effort.  Little things like more music, silly food names and making a walk down the street the most important time in the world will redirect our course toward greater happiness.  I proved it today, and once I realized what I was doing, I tried more.  We had the most peaceful and argument free evening that we've had in a very long time.  This new awareness made me realize that there's hope for me yet.

Moment of Design captured...

Friday, September 21, 2012

Inside-out Moment

On campus we have been interviewing candidates, one of which will become my boss, over the last couple of days. This experience, along with being enlightening about Higher Ed has brought about a considerable amount of introspection, which I didn't expect.  The interviews are done in a panel setting with the various groups with whom the candidate will interact.  I love the idea of the panel interview for this reason, but it definitely intimidates me on a very deep level.  One of the candidates in particular stood out to me for a myriad of reasons, particularly that he was a self-proclaimed, "huge geeky nerd" and also and introvert. 

I am both of those things, and have always been proud of those things.  However, the topic of his introversion came up when reviewing the candidates with the panel the next morning, and the perception of these self proclamations was not favorable.  I was a little surprised... a precious little... that even in higher ed the world views introversion as an unfavorable trait. In a highly extroverted world, the subject of introvert continues to hold a negative connotation.  I needed internal clarity about my status. So I took an introverted moment.

We are the contemplative wall flowers. I am not an outward wall flower, but I cling to the outskirts of any situation that is a large group, or even unfamiliar.  I just do it with a learned grace.  We are the collaborators.  I am not usually quick or eloquent in a large unfamiliar group, but if we are face to face I can help solve the world's problems.  We are the thinkers.  I am not the first one to dive right in and attack something, but I can help reason a way in and out of it, if given time.  We are the strong.  It takes a great deal of energy, effort, and an incredible tool set developed over time to thrive in an extroverted world. And so, we are the reason peace and quiet was created... OK, that might be a stretch.

Just because we are introverts doesn't mean we aren't personable or approachable.  In fact, it's usually exactly the opposite. We might derive our energy from our reflective alone time, but that helps us be with people with a calm and collected perspective.  Just because we don't get our charge from being with people all of the time doesn't mean we can't lead a large group or be good leaders. This attitude that I'd witnessed, be it ever so small, led me to consider leadership as well; the things I truly value in a leader, and attributes I hope to possess as I lead.  Among the qualities I valued most high was, aside from my ever-present  passion for accountability, approachability. I consider myself to be highly approachable and value that as a strength. For my introversion, being approachable is a learned behavior. Those acting classes didn't hurt, either.

I think I'm a pretty good time in most situations... it takes a lot of mental prep work, but once I've deployed my parachute of learned behaviors (that now come naturally), I float gently into the party and fight my magnet to the wall.  I do have a passion for entertaining and hospitality, but I want to do it on my terms.  It's all about learning, creating and using tools.

I will be interested to see if either of my children gravitate toward the introverted side.  Right now, there's a whole group of people-people living in this environment, and it seems that the children feed off of that.  I think Ronan is exhibiting signs of needing his "recharge" time, which, of course, I am sensitive to. I have noted that it's worth noting... I like notes- and I'm fairly certain extroverts do, too.

It resonated with me that the candidate volunteered this information because I felt like I could relate to him, and I thought it took a lot of strength to vocalize this fact. I am happy to be the way I am. I find my energy in a quiet moment. I constantly look for ways to improve my people skills. In my efforts to recharge, I have found self awareness.  I feel good being by myself.  It's important to know that you're alright on your own.  So many people aren't, and can't find peace.  I take comfort that I was born with personality traits that are contrary to society's "norm" which enable me to find quiet in a very loud world.

Moment of Design captured....   

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Enchanted moment

The moment began like this...I listened to my 4-year-old son, Ronan read me a story that he had written.

Ruby was a husky horse. He lived with me, Ronan. Ronan fed her hay. Ruby liked to climb on the mountains with me. One day a squid fly (don't ask, I have no idea what this is) found them. The squid fly took Ruby and Ronan to his house. His house had a triangle roof and lots of bricks. He trapped 
them in a cage. They used a key they found on the floor to get out. They ran away to New Mexico where the squid fly couldn't find them. New Mexico is very far and it has peace and quiet. Ruby and Ronan lived happily ever after. 
The End

I realized as he wrapped up his mini-fairytale that he is as prone to enchantment as I am. I am not only prone to it, but drawn to it.  I am captured by it and I seek it out. There is nothing wrong with enchantment. That moment that you feel yourself calm and focused and lifted to another place.  That moment when you see possibilities. It's being a dreamer, but it's more than that.

Ronan's story clearly shows some creativity. Predominantly, it shows the detail of a 4-year-old mind. It has a basic plot and hollow characters. It is cute (especially the squid fly?). But then he states, New Mexico is very far and it has peace and quiet. I was a bit stunned. I knew that David and I had felt that way about New Mexico when we were there recently, but we had not been vocal about it. It was peaceful, and it was quiet, and we were in a state of calm for most of the trip. Clearly, it translated. That wasn't the part that got me, though. It was the fact that he VALUED peace and quiet.  He was enchanted enough by the idea of peace and quiet that he made it his escape destination in a fairy tale.

I realize that it is important to be pragmatic, and that society doesn't believe that we cloudy-headed, unfocused dreamer-folk can make rational leadership-worthy decisions. There always needs to be balance.  There is always pressure to make concrete, logical decisions and stick by them.  Even if they're wrong. Emotion is the enemy, and dreams are worthless. I can't live like that. I believe that my indecision, mistakes and enchantment enable me to have an interesting and full life.  I will never have a picture perfect, by-the-book lifestyle because it is not who we are...

Both of our children are dreamers. They are happy as long as they are weaving a tale and entrenched in their environment. Our world is full of music, color and story. We will, of course, teach them to balance enchantment with logic, but I am proud of our cloudy headed, unfocused dreamer-ness.  We are the people who find beauty in anything and solutions from nothing. We truly need very little.  One of the things I am learning about myself is that I do better with less. Simplicity has been more and more attractive and we are finding that our children do better with a simpler life as well.

I find that I am moved by simple statements of peace and the fostering of creativity. We toured a school for Evelyn the other day and I was taken by the amount of care that went into the atmosphere. It was not, by any means, a wealthy, shiny computer lab, modern fixutres and latest & greatest school.  In fact, the district is not well off at all. However, this particular school has chosen to stay small and dedicate its energy toward developing a warm, inviting, and artistic culture.  David and I both felt at home and welcome. It was enchanting. I love those moments when I feel like I'm on the right path. It is usually when I allow my subconscious true creative control and choose to feel the freedom that we are all born with.

Peace and Quiet in the Land of Enchantment
My challenge is that there are two sides to everything. We need structure to exist in society, so it is the weight that I carry to strike that balance between structure and enchantment and solidify those practices with my family. When I recognize qualities of strength in either structure or dreaming I will focus and nurture them.

We hold onto these fantastic pictures of the future that are enchanted visions of the life we long to lead, peppered with reality and experience. However, I do not believe that life exists only in the future.We find our enchanted moments of reality in the present and hold on, knowing that they will help us form the pictures to come.

Moment of Design captured...

Monday, September 17, 2012

Hot-head Megan, full of grace moment

Today, I took a deep breath. Then another. I am accountable to the choices and mistakes that I make, because I believe that growth is not possible without mistakes, failure and the lesson.  I cannot change or control anything but myself.  These are things I believe to be truth, but not everyone does.  I have a universal goal for most interactions with people: Stay positive. Listen. Find a solution if that is necessary.

I find it easy to be kind. I like to laugh, and smiling sets people at ease.  I am not a merry-sunshine-rainbows-and-unicorns-are-awesome kind of person, but I do believe that good is better than bad, nice is better than mean, and anger accomplishes nothing. I struggle with anger just like anyone else, and I feel frustration when communication has not been productive.  Today I decided to breathe.  I defined myself years ago as a professional, and that takes practice, but to truly handle things outside of your control takes grace.

Grace is one of my favorite words.  It's simple, and beautiful, and conjures images of flight, flow and strength. It has long been a dream of mine embody more grace.  I am a klutz, by nature.  If there is a hole to fall in I've fallen, if there is a sign to run into, I have letters imprinted in the limb that hit first. My husband David and I have wrecked every small motorized vehicle used for recreation that can be ridden in tandem. Often I've picked myself up and vowed to try to be more graceful.  Over the years I've discovered that grace is not a physical capability, but a state of mind.  It takes more fortitude than a headstrong 20-something can muster, unless naturally inclined... which, clearly, I am not.

My moment of design came with an exercise in grace.
Grace is tolerance.
Grace is patience.
Grace is keeping your mouth shut.
Grace is ignoring panic and breathing through frustration.
Grace is patience (yeah... I need to remind myself of that one repeatedly).
Grace is humility.
Grace is strength and openness.
Grace is peace.

Every day is a lesson in grace, but it is not recognized. The most important thing about this design element is the effect it has on people around me.  If I can possess grace, my surroundings stay peaceful, and then in turn I am happy.

Moment of design captured...

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Blog post anxiety moment

I am making an assumption that every beginning blogger feels exactly the same anxiety at this moment.  It's a blank page, that will soon be public, so it'd better be good. Or at the very least entertaining. I mean,who's going to read this anyway? I'm working on that confidence thing... it's all part of the plan.

Life is full of opportunity. I have been living proof of that, and also of what happens when you seize it. Among those opportunities are little moments that define and design who we are and who we become.  I have begun to notice and identify those moments of design and I find them fascinating. I believe that we are forever incomplete for a reason.  It keeps the canvas open for more possibility. We make a million little choices which ultimately shape who we are. I am trying to capture mine.  Even a few of them.

One of today's defining moments is this post.  I have always wanted to start a blog.  I am not a classically trained, dedicated writer.  I do not have ambitions of being a stellar and world famous novelist.  I do not pine away hours attempting to come up with topics that move or change the world.  I just like writing. It makes me happy.  And that is the theme of my latest design.

I am a relatively happy person, but I feel that more could be done to solidify a stable happiness quotient. Unfortunately, as a mother and wife, I have the role of setting the tone for the household.  It is not a role I relish, but one that I accept.  In turn, I have decided that it is important to focus on what matters, whether trivial or monumental, because that will increase the level of happiness felt by all around me.

I remember turning 30 and a friend of mine told me that you really start to evaluate significance of people and decisions in your life.  Suddenly you are real adult (don't ask me why, when not in your 20s the world takes you more seriously) and the choices made now weigh heavily.  I have honestly felt that, though part of me wonders if it isn't the power of suggestion and a little self-fulfilling prophecy that has made this real. As I redefine and design the person I want to be, I notice more of these little moments.  

Wouldn't you choose to be with them, always?
Aside from truly beginning my blog, my moment of design for today was stepping out of my comfort zone to accept an invitation from new people. I have recently relocated far from everything comfortable that once defined my life, and I've struggled with the idea of "starting over" in the human relations realm. I have very real and definable limitations, which I vacillate between embracing and trying to conquer. In order to form new friendships I feel I owe it to all involved to be the best version of myself. A blatant openness is the only way I can come up with to accomplish this.  When accepting the invitation to go gold panning with the youth pastors from a church we rarely attend I defined my boundaries up front, explaining that we do everything with our children, so I hoped it would be alright that we make kid friendly concessions.  They were understanding, welcoming of the idea and even complimentary that we had chosen that path.

Moment of Design captured...