The Wonders of this Week 14/52

Hello Friends,

I am borrowing a format from an artist to use here.  Blue Bird Baby is a fantastic blog. Simple. Lovely. Soulful. Inspiring. She uses a weekly format to document. I like this method of tracking the days and the process. I have modified her approach a bit.  Every week you document and you note by the week.  She documents her darling daughter’s life in a really lovely way.  Go check it out.

This week I am:

Writing

Thank you notes. Have you ever received a thank you note that made you frown? I doubt it. Yeah, thank you notes are cool, mannerly, and, most important of all, full of love and gratitude. Send one today to someone you love.

Watching

This.

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/91678581″>Stop Telling Women To Smile</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/petersoncinema”>Dean Peterson</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Reading

It is our Sunday ritual. Marc walks down the driveway and picks up the large plastic bag that holds our reading for the day. The Sunday New York Times. He makes a pot of strong, dark coffee and brings us two steaming cups heavy with fresh cream. I meanwhile fluff the pillows and open the curtains. We both get back into bed, readers perched at the end of our noses and we work our way through the paper. We share stories and fight over the editorials. He always reads the Sports section first and me? I go right for the Book Review and then the Travel section. We are all creatures of habit and this habit is one of the golden parts of our life together.

Listening

The Civil Wars. You know how you forget about music sometimes? You get in  your rut and then somewhere it comes up. I think it was Farmgirl Paints who mentioned The Civil Wars on her Instagram account and I just about died. I had forgotten how much I love them. So here I sit at the computer listening to all my favorite songs by them.

Thinking

About joy and loss and compassion and patience.

Wanting

To find a bit of land that I can call my own in this area. I grew up here and I want to go home again. As in, I want to buy a bit of land, plant some trees, clear for a garden, and build a little cottage. A place to rest and write.

NSJ Sign

Needing

I need to go back to work. I need to find a teaching position again. I miss it too much to stay away. I have not taught in two years and it is time to go back.

Coveting

This.

via tiny houses

via tiny houses

Wearing

I have been making my own body products for a bit now and I am in love with them! I have always had really dry skin and the concoctions I am making now are really helping. Who knew I could create my own body products?!? I especially love my sugar body scrub. Totally glorious stuff…

Eating

Lots of homemade salad dressings with all our fresh from the garden salad greens. Yum!

via Mother Earth Living

via Mother Earth Living

Drinking

This loveliness. A dear friend brought over a bottle for us to share on a sunny afternoon and it was lovely. Our favorite wine guy at Trader Joes suggested it. It. Is. Good.

via ABC Wines

via ABC Wines

I hope your week is good. I wish for you a week of gratitude, compassion, and love.

Love,
S

L is for Loss

Hello Friends,

Choosing loss as my topic for this post was easy. Sitting down to write about loss is a wholly uncomfortable prospect. I sit here, looking out my window watching the gold finches and American blue birds flit through our oak trees, landing in the bird bath to splash water all over the baby tears growing beneath and I cry my own tears.

Loss.

Who amongst us has not experienced loss? Who has not felt that punch to the gut, to the heart, to the soul that loss delivers to us no holds barred?

Loss.

I don’t even need to think about it to know what losses are there. Loss is a catalog of pain and heartbreak. We all have a list written in invisible ink on a scrap of paper we carry around in our chest pockets. The slightest little whiff of memory can send tears down on that scrap exposing our list of losses. Exposing for all to see that we are brought low in pain with our loss.

Loss leaves us heavy on the floor. Deeply connected to the earth. I can feel my connection in the world, to the world, to the earth and all its inhabitants through my loss. No one is immune. No one gets out of jail free around here.

Loss.

I had a brother. He was fifteen when he hung himself in my mother’s garage on a snowy morning just three days away from Valentine’s Day.

Loss.

I was twenty-one at the time with a newborn baby. At the funeral my family was trying to keep it together. We were stoic. Waspy as ever. Standing tall in our going-to-church clothes. I held my newborn baby girl in my arms. I could bury my face in her blanket as I hid my tears. It was embarrassing to cry in public and it certainly was not the thing to do.
The church was filled with family and friends. Many of whom were friends with my brother. It felt like everyone’s eyes were on us and it was hard to stay controlled.

As the service began, my sweet baby girl, Chloe, started crying. Her fussiness led to wails. I tried to calm her, but she would not calm. I tried to soothe her, but she would not be soothed. My discomfort, my sorrow, my inability to soothe my baby or myself was becoming overwhelming when my step-father leaned over and whispered in my ear, “Let her cry Sara. Let her cry.”

She wailed. She cried. She sobbed.

Her little lungs filled with the sad air all around us and she spoke for all of us with each wail. What we could not share publicly, she did for us. Chloe was our talisman. Our mouthpiece. As she sobbed and wailed, we all silently sobbed and wailed with her.

Loss.

Love,

S

Week 13/52

Hello Friends,

I am borrowing a format from an artist to use here.  Blue Bird Baby is a fantastic blog. Simple. Lovely. Soulful. Inspiring. She uses a weekly format to document. I like this method of tracking the days and the process. I have modified her approach a bit.  Every week you document and you note by the week.  She documents her darling daughter’s life in a really lovely way.  Go check it out.

This week I am:

Writing

Many entries for the A to Z Challenge. It is great fun and I have met some terrific people so far.

A2Z-BADGE-0002014-small_zps8300775c
Reading

I am reading a great deal about blogging. I want to improve my site and so research is called for, but I am still reading many other things too. This week I am getting near the end of this delight:

Notes From A Blue Bike

Blue Bike

Watching

This lovely youngest daughter of mine grow up. Trying to pay attention to every moment.

September 2013 043

Listening

Vance Joy, Riptide

Thinking

About my research road trip this summer. Looking forward to days and nights in many places.

nsjmasn

Wanting

A little bit of this loveliness in my own garden. Isn’t this beautiful?

via Jeffrey Gardens

via Jeffrey Gardens

Needing

Way more sleep. My husband has been sick and not sleeping well so he gets up in the middle of the night. I struggle to get back to sleep. Too much on my mind. I need more sleep…

via Special-ism.com

via Special-ism.com

Coveting

A little cabin. A place where I can write and just be.

cabin

Wearing

More eye cream than I usually do. Where are these wrinkles coming from… Frown.

eye cream

Eating

These bits of amazingness! You can count on Sprouted Kitchen to always get it right with savory foods. I was not expecting these to be that amazing, but they are. . . God save me from the remaining dozen or so lurking in my cookie jar.

via Sprouted Kitchen

via Sprouted Kitchen

Drinking

This lovely and amazing stuff. Just on its own with a bit of ice. So refreshing. . .

 086-2eat2drink-fever-tree-p

I hope your week is good. I wish for you a week of love.

Love,
S

G is For the Garden of My Dreams

Hello Friends,
It is that time of year when the garden wakes up and starts flirting with us all. The promise of great harvests both floral and food.

All the hard work of last year starts to pay off this year as our perennials assert themselves after a long winter’s sleep.

The vegetable beds are full of starts and sprouting seeds. Shallots. Carrots. Red bell peppers. Tomatoes. Twelve varieties. Lemon cucumbers. Yellow patty pan squash. Asparagus. Snow peas. Snap peas. Arugula. Kale. Oak leaf lettuce. Butter lettuce. Mustard greens. Spinach. Red Sail lettuce. Green leaf lettuce. Broccoli Raab. Fingerling potatoes. Yukon Gold potatoes. Shishito peppers. Basil. Rosemary. Chives and more chives. Mint. Oregano. Marjoram. Thyme. Italian flat leaf parsley. Meyer lemons. Five trees because I love them so. Lime Trees. Blueberries. Six varieties. Strawberries and more strawberries. Raspberries.

Roses are blooming.

2014-04-05 15.59.17

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Calla lilies are standing tall and pure.

Lemon trees are blossoming with the promise of hot tea on a cold winter afternoons.

2014-04-05 15.59.43
 

 

 

 

 

Little strawberries are turning rosy in the sun.
Raspberry canes are struggling to free themselves from their enclosure.
Asparagus spears poke their tips up through the soil, reaching for the sky.
Lettuces, wet with morning dew lean against each other in support. Safety in numbers.

2014-04-05 15.54.28

 

 

 

 

 

Lavender blooms vigorously knowing its season end is fast approaching.

2014-04-05 15.57.29

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oleander dances together on the hillside, branches waving to some hidden rhythm.

This is my garden. This is where I find my pride. This is where all things are possible and they show their various vibrant colors in support of the common goal. Let us all nourish each other with love, tenderness, hard work, and consistent devotion.
Love,
S

Raising Girls to Own Their World

Hello Friends,

“This is their world and they own it.” Yes, they do. Keep doing what you are doing mama. You are raising them up beautifully. As a mother of three daughters ages 28, 16, and 14, I can tell you it is a glorious and beautiful thing to watch our children grow and find their place in this world, this world that is theirs.

The quote above is the comment I left in response to a post Rebecca Woolf wrote on her blog,Girls Gone Child This is a fantastic blog. I have followed this blog since her older daughter, Fable, was a baby. It is the place I go when I want to feel good about my parenting and the parenting that others are doing. Her children are lovely. Her approach to parenting is so good and full of love and truth. Her photographs are to be gazed on with joy and pleasure. Her posts are well-written and truly insightful, whether she is talking about the Bronie phenomenon, marriage, or vacations.
GGC

Go read her now, but start with this post. This is where she talks about girls and beauty and society and power. Start here for she has written what I wanted to write and she has written it for all of us. So, let’s cut to the chase, shall we?

Love,

S

Joy

Hello Friends,

I choose joy.
I choose laughter.
I choose happiness.
I choose guffaws.
I choose giggles.
I choose smiles on rainy days.
I choose joy.
I choose love that arrives in the middle of the night.
I choose the sunrise and the sunset and all the moments in between.
I choose kisses that leave me breathless and hugs that make me swoon.
I choose unbridled enthusiasm.
I choose positive energy and heartfelt prayers.
I choose joy.
I choose corny jokes, and raunchy jokes and funny jokes and jokes that aren’t really that funny.
I choose cheering for those we love.
I choose spreading love.
I choose non-judgment.
I choose joy.
I choose the half-full over the half-empty.
I choose the land of good intent and the Church of Everlasting Hope.
I choose flowers, strong coffee, champagne, and linen.
I choose springtime and planting flowers.
I choose visits to art galleries and museums.
I choose road trips.
I choose good books, big beds, and snuggles.
I choose joy.

Love,
S

Lisa Jo Baker has an interesting task every Friday. She calls it Five Minute Friday and it is a writing exercise posited around a particular prompt. You write to the prompt for a total of five minutes, uninterrupted, unedited, and then you link your writing to her site. As well, you go back and read two entries and comment on them.
She has, in effect, created a writer’s workshop. I love this and find it fun to participate in whether or not I had a blog. It is about the writing after all.

Courage, Dear Heart…

Dear Friends,

“Courage, dear heart.” C.S. Lewis wrote this line in a book I read so many years ago. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. It is a more loving way to say my own mantra which is “Be brave.” The more I thought about these two phrases the more I realized that they really are very different. And I may have been misleading all my students every day that I taught as I dismissed from our classroom with the saying, “Be brave. Be strong.”
What is it about courage and bravery that seem to be the defining elements in the land for men alone? If men are not brave and courageous somehow they are seen as lesser. Boys are encouraged to be brave all the time. And we cannot have a brave boy that cries.

Buck up son.

Stop crying, brave boys don’t cry.

Don’t be a sissy.

Stand strong.

Show your bravery.

Where are your balls, son?

vietnam-war-pictures-rare-unseen-photos-history-images-002

My Pakistan

In so many ways we demean the vulnerability in men that somehow is completely acceptable in women. As if women do not have the fortitude to be brave. But our sons. What of our sons? So I say to my son, “Be brave.” Am I shutting off the option to be vulnerable? Am I setting him up to think that bravery is valued over vulnerability? I surely don’t want my son to be a fortress of strength that no one can breach the walls of. I want him to be able to be vulnerable and feel safe in the thought that he is allowed to be vulnerable. There is no shame in tears. There is no shame in showing who you really are. So, why is the land of courage solely the men’s domain? Where do men get to embrace their vulnerability?

What does it look like for men to be vulnerable? For boys to see how to be vulnerable? How does my son learn to be vulnerable or courageous? I am his mother and I want him to be both things, but what can I really teach him about such things? I am a woman. He looks to the men in his life for this lesson, for the way. The way of the man. The way of the boy. They are linked by eons of experience, trial and error. Men have learned to be brave, courageous for that has been the most successful way to survive. But we want more for our men. We want them to thrive. We want our boys to thrive. We want our men to thrive. We want our families to thrive.

Tattooeddad

Tattooed Men Holding Babies

We know that boys need good role models.  We know that boys need a rich range of experiences to develop their character and their masculine and feminine sides. We find these role models in a variety of places. Movies. Music. Books. Teachers. Coaches. Pastors. Uncles. Granddads. Fathers. Peers. Popular culture.

coach

The Sports Doc

Some of these can be positive experiences. Some can be negative. We learn as much if not more from the negative experiences. Sometimes what we see someone do is the exact opposite of what we should do. How many times has this happened to our sons as they watch our mistakes? As they emotionally coil away from the put down from the coach, teacher, or father?

At some point all our men, all those men in our metaphorical village, must learn how to be men. They must come to an understanding about what it means to be men. For many it is really aobut being strong. Strong enough to get up every day and go to work, doing a job they do not like in order to support their families. For some it means hitting that baseball the furthest. For some it means climbing every great peak in the world. For others it means developing a good and healthy relationship with their own sons, and with their own fathers.

As I watch my sixteen year old son learn from his mistakes and from his father’s mistakes, I see a boy who will be a great man. If that means being sensitive, kind, helpful, confident, and brave. For many of his male family members he may be too gentle for their comfort level. But his ability to be gentle is what I think makes him strong.  We all have chinks in our armor – the more aware we are of those “chinks” (as if that somehow means they are bad), those vulnerabilities, the stronger we really are. For our vulnerability helps us build resilience and flexibility. It is what makes men men and women, women.

Love,

S