Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Half Full

If you've been visiting this space for awhile, you'll notice the blog has had a bit of a makeover. A little lighter. A little more simple. And a little ditty on the side about how I'm trying to live my life. It's new, and I'm still getting used to it (the ditty, that is) because I'll be honest: I do not come by this whole "choosing joy in every moment" idea naturally. Truth is, I have a tendency to swing into darker places, to stew over little messes, to be stormy and passionate-- sometimes in the not-so-nice ways. My 30 years have been spent swinging in the extremes of emotion. Balance is not a word often used to describe my life.

And that's okay.

Because right now, I am typing while my daughter sleeps on my arm.

She's breathing in a rhythm that makes me realize we are moving toward summer; her inhales and exhales flowing slow and clear, the result of spending an entire day outdoors. It is this baby, along with the two boys breathing in similar candence in their beds a floor above us, that helps me understand the importance of choosing gratitude over anything else.

As a poet, I've always chalked bouts of dark and stormy (or weepy and aimlessness) on my craft. Occupational hazard of sorts. It almost seems attractive-- and certainly has its elements of romance-- to be a creative soul that bleeds emotions in words and sponges the essence of loss as much as love from the world all around. I know. It sounds pretty stupid when I actually type it.

The older I get, the more I realize how brief this time in life really is. I look at my children and find myself totally awed-- when I take the time to slow down and notice-- how quickly they grow and change.

The Noah who woke up this morning was not quite the same Noah whose hair, damp with sweat, I tucked behind freckled ears as he slept tonight. Experiences, moments, discoveries; these things happen to him all day. And he changes.

It is the same with Max and Elizabeth.

Each moment is part of their story. I think I got tired of being caught up in anything and everything that got in the way of the opportunity to watch these stories unfold. And so, I made a decision to choose joy in every moment. And I'm not looking back.

Don't get me wrong: there is very little joy in unclogging the toilet every other day, even when my four-year old is prancing around yelling "I'm the best toilet clogger in the universe!" It isn't easy to feel grateful when my daughter gets up a thousand times a night or when Noah is crying because some bully called him an "A-hole" and he feels like he is swearing by even saying A. Hole. I have plenty of melting moments around 6:45 p.m. (exactly) when the wear-and-tear of the day just feels like too much and I want to pee alone or curl up on the coach or sew or anything besides what I'm doing. My breath gets shorter. My back tenses up and I feel antsy and agitated and unable to settle. And that's okay too-- because it is my body's way of calling me back to the present. Maybe I need to step outside or slide out for a walk. Maybe I need to go grab a book and curl up on the couch and let the dishes wait in the sink. Learning to give myself a break-- this is a big part of living joyfully. In these moments, however, more than anything else, I need to stop and ask one question: am I, despite all the junk, still very blessed? I've never, ever been able to say no. And somehow, I swear, it changes everything.

One glance as photos like these, and I realize, my life is full.

So very full in all the best ways. What are some ways you remind yourself to choose gratitude?

I'm also so very grateful that I'm learning to sew, because now I can whip out fantastic little projects like this sandwhich/snack bag.

You can check out the tutorial on Cluck and Tweet.


Casey said...

This is inspiring, friend... I totally "feel ya" about the ups and downs and the bouts of "dark stuff" and imbalance and so on. I've only had one mystical experience in my life (more than most!) and what it taught me was that we can choose to be happy. Of course, if a psychologist had seen me in that state, she would've dragged me into a ward and called it a manic episode... but what you say seems really true to me. You should write a book.

suesueb said...

thanks for the visit and the comment! you will so love sewing for her-i know i'm lucky i can sew for my granddaughter now and it's been so much fun. i also enjoyed reading all your stories, even the teary ones. i think all these "obstacles" through our lives help us forward toward our better selves. thanks for sharing!!

Brooke G. said...

The best toilet clogger in the world!!! HA HA HA -now that is definately something to be proud of!!! Oh, do I love/need a good laugh every so often. Thanks for your honesty in this post. I might be rereading it everyday!!!! Sometimes we all need reminding to count our blessings!! LOVE IT!!!

Jane said...

Wow. This is inspiring and true and hard to ignore. I'll be back for more mama thoughts to ponder...peace.

Nadia said...

Thank you for the visit and comment. It is hard sometimes to see the joy in things and to really live in the moment. With all the day to day activities, thoughts and pressures of day to day life. I wrote about this very thing a few days ago.

Isn't sewing wonderful! I took it up last year and have been making sweet dresses for my girls. I'm off now to check out your tutorial.

Mel said...

Hey there Kate. I just found your blog via your comment on soulemama about your sewing. I too have just sat down at the machine again after a twenty year gap and am finding it exhilarating if not a bit frustrating at times (trying to remind myself to take baby steps!)

And I am so with you on 6:45pm - I am officially out of steam by then but am constantly amazed by how a five minute 'sit' can revive me enough to get me through till bedtimes!

Muslim Hippie said...

Hey I didn't know you're a poet! No wonder you're such a great writer. I'm loving your blog. Peace.

Woman in a Window said...

I like the look of your new site. Yes, clean and simple and right.

Your words strike a chord with me and I'm glad to see that all is not perfect but even in that topsy turvy of 6:45(?) and for us 5:30, the goodness percolates upwards.

Lora said...

I'm so glad you found my blog so I could find yours. I'm absolutely loving it! I got your comment via email on my Blackberry this morning, and spent about an hour reading your posts on my phone before getting out of bed this morning!

I'm subscribing to your feed as soon as this comment posts

Sus said...

No kidding, Kate, YOU and this place are some of the ways I remind myself to be grateful.

And I love your skirt, peeking out by the wine. If you lived next door, I'd borrow it unashamedly.

A Little Gnocchi said...

Sus may take the skirt, but I can I join you with a glass of wine? Love the sentiment behind the post. Happy Mother's Day.

Rebekah said...

Today my 7 week old baby was screaming with no reason I could determine (and she refused to tell me). My husband took her for a walk and I opened your blog, because you're writing makes me feel like you're a friend I've known a long time. And you did it again with this post. I read it and immediately went out to find my husband and beautiful baby - and the joy in that moment. Currently she is asleep on me and I'm reminded again how blessed I am. Thanks for your great blog.