Thursday, May 26, 2016

Cheer...


"Er - shall I make a cup of tea?" said Ron.
Harry stared at him.
"It's what my mum does whenever someone's upset," Ron muttered, shrugging.
{from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by JK Rowling}

Tea is my comfort food. It warms me from the inside out when I'm cold - washes down stress and sorrow - nourishes my need for ritual - forces me to slow down as I wait for water to boil and leaves to steep - gives me an excuse to invite a friend over - and something to do when there's an awkward lull in a conversation.

There's so much lore and history, art and science, surrounding it - no matter the mood or situation, a cup of tea is always appropriate (to me). I put a lot of effort into constructing a "tea station" in our new house, practically framing it with a bright yellowy green wall, because something so important to my heart deserves a special place in my home.

So as I write, I sip, feeling the bite of tannins on my tongue and the weight of great literature in the dregs that swirl in the bottom of my mug. The warmth of inspiration trickles through me as the caffeine alerts my mind to endless possibilities - all from a cup of cheer.

It's Five Minute Friday! Each week a flashmob of bloggers gather, internet wide, to write for five minutes (no stopping, no editing) on a prompt provided by sweet Kate, then link up and share a little comment love. For more info, more posts, and/or to join in, head here!

Looking Out, Looking In


I have thing about being up high. Maybe it's something to do with the elevation I was born at (in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado), or just an general preference, but living at the very edge of a tiny mountain ridge near a vast spread of rice fields is not really my happy place. Thankfully, I don't care how I get up high, so being in a tall building works, too. I enjoyed living on the second floor in our apartment (also, bugs were less of an issue...) but living in a one story house is taking some adjusting.

To compensate, I hung the engineer print Mum got me for my birthday last year above my desk - it's a photo I took looking out the window of the 13th floor office that I worked in in New York. I love that there aren't any definable landmarks so only I know that it's Manhattan, and I love the sensation of looking down from a high place that it gives me.


I wonder, too, if my love of heights has something to do with feeling safe - like I'm out of reach of danger. It suits my squirrelish nature of loving to curl up with a soft blanket, some fuzzy knitting or an engaging book, and a cup of tea. Then from up high, I can keep an eye on the exits while still feeling cozy and comfortable.

Or it could be the Adventurous Introvert - wanting to Go Forth and Explore, but also have a safe place to return to at the end of the day. Maybe that's how the British were able to plant their flag around the world - by never exploring or conquering with so great an urgency that they were forced to abandon their rituals and comforts in the pursuit.


Comfort gets such a bad rap sometimes, like it's a crutch that's holding us back. But I love JRR Tolkien's hobbits - while the elves and men and dwarves and orcs were destroying each other (and themselves) with imbalanced pursuit of knowledge and wealth and property and power, the hobbits had quietly accepted where they were and how it was. They planted and ate, worked and celebrated, and in the end they were the stronger for it.

Because it's harder to say no than to say yes. It's harder to maintain boundaries than it is to be a human doormat. It's harder to recognize and admit your weaknesses than it is to work until you collapse. In a culture where Busy and Stress are worn like badges of honor, Space and Quiet have to be fought for - but the return is worth the effort.


So while I recognize that there are times for adventures (and that adventures are not all pony rides in May sunshine), I embrace the flowered chair, beloved journal, and hot cup of tea that await me at the end of them. Because opening our arms to what brings us joy - a window view, a favorite seat, a new candle - isn't weakness. It takes a brazen sort of courage, in itself.

Gifts...
2717. Engineer prints
2718. Running into some neighbors from our apartment at Target
2719. Eating cookies in the car
2720. A whole jammy day
2721. Getting all the boxes out of Tobin's room
2722. Staying up way too late knitting and watching a movie

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

In Progress



The full weight of possibility that a house carries has slowly begun to sink in. I realized last week that I can paint, so I went to Lowes and found a magnificent shade of yellowy green called "alchemist" (which is how I knew it was the right color) and painted an accent wall in the dining area. It's the color of the little spore shoots moss sends up, and I'd like to find a giant paper lantern in a recently-rained-on mossy green to replace the somewhat boring light fixture that currently hangs over the table.


I'm discovering that I love color. There are a few that are particular favorites, but simply being surrounded by lots of colors brings me joy. Flirty pinks - passionate reds - confident oranges - sassy yellows - earthy greens - calm blues - elegant purples... They all have a place and purpose (not to mention the possibility of accenting with metallics ;)


With that said, I am over unpacking. Decorating is fun - putting things away is okay, while I'm still doing the things with defined purposes and clear spaces - but now I'm down to the things that we never unpacked after our last move and I'm running out of space. I got everything condensed down to a corner of the garage (and fit my car in!) but in the process I found several huge [dead] spiders that really concerned me. I should probably empty the remaining boxes quickly - if I open something and find one of those in it, alive, it's going straight to the curb.

Gifts...
2702. Mum coming to visit
2703. Being able to get everything I needed at one grocery store
2704. Drinking tea and discussing gallery walls
2705. Help taking down a TV wall mount, which turned into somewhat of a production and would have been disastrous had I tried it alone
2706. Finding out where the ants are coming from
2707. Having the perfect picture for an engineer print (yay for inexpensive, personal, giant art!)
2708. One more week until Adam comes home
2709. That Local Lime does carry out (that may turn out to be a dangerous discovery, but it was really morale-boosting in the moment)
2710. Finding the printer cord (and making Brooklyn's birthday invitations!)
2711. An excellent sermon
2712. Grocery shopping with no tears or trauma
2713. A quiet afternoon
2714. A jammy morning
2715. Space to write
2716. Escaping the back yard after the gate latched behind me

Friday, May 20, 2016

Expect...


I half expected something to happen. I set my cup of tea on the table and turned my back, just for a moment - then whirled back around after a crash and a burst of sobbing. The preschooler sat at the table, crying, and the toddler lay on the floor, tea-drenched and surrounded by the shards of my pretty peacock mug. She had climbed up to take a sip, he had tried to take it from her, and in the ensuing tug-of-war it got dropped. I cleaned it up, consoled them both, and assured Brooklyn that it wasn't anyone's fault, that no one was in trouble, and that accidents happen. (And then my sweet Mum came to visit and brought a replacement, since she was the one who gave it to me for Christmas 5 years ago).

But it got me thinking... I generally only expect negative things. I expect to need gas when it's cold and/or raining, I expect family emergencies when there's a fun outing planned, I expect there to be meltdowns right when I need to start dinner. Then that's what happens, so I sigh and mutter to myself a weary I told you so.

Why I don't I wake up expecting to have a good day? Going forth with optimism, anticipating delightful adventure around every corner instead of cautiously bracing for an unpleasant surprise. Between the thought I give it beforehand, the attention I afford it during, and the angst I levy at it afterwards, I spend a lot more energy on the negative things - which makes them seem bigger than they actually are.

I'd like to start expecting great things. Expecting God's mercies to be new every morning (because they are), expecting to awe-struck by His wonders (because they're everywhere), expecting to experience His grace and His love (because that is something worth anticipating, embracing, and pondering!)

It's Five Minute Fruday! Each week a flashmob of bloggers, internet wide, gather to write for five minutes (no stopping, no editing) on a prompt provided by sweet Kate, then link up and share a little comment love. For more info, more posts, and/or to join in, head here!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Wordsmith


There's a tension in my neck that's been building for days. It starts in my shoulder and creeps up toward my ear, and every so often it twists a little tighter and clouds my mind a little more. Even though this happens periodically, it's so insidious that it always take me a little while to identify the cause.


First I examine the physical. Am I tired? hungry? experiencing caffeine withdrawal? (Yes, I have an addiction, no, I don't have a problem with that fact.) Do I need fresh air? How long has it been since I took a shower, just standing there and letting the hot water wash over me?

Then, I question my emotions. Am I anxious about anything? neglecting my quiet time? lonely? Have I knitted today? (While knitting brings me joy, its absence is usually indicative of a deeper problem, more than a problem in itself.) And with that last question, I draw closer to the root.


Because when I'm enveloped in a lethargy, not only of body, but also of mind - when I forget everything I try to remember, and wonder why I'm getting out of bed in the morning - when I am consumed with consuming, and haven't spotted a creative tiger to catch by the tail for days --- then I slowly realize, through the haze, that I've been neglecting the passion that keeps my fires burning, and I'm about to go out.

So I open a blank page - crisp and smooth and lined, or a white box with a blinking cursor - and I write.


You don't have anything to write about my inner dialogue scolds. But I have to write I reply. And so I do. And with every stroke of the pen or click of the keys, the tension releases a little more. And I begin to remember the forgotten things - the joy of adventure, the wonder of beauty, and the way I was made; a wordsmith with a writer's cramp that can only be gotten rid of by working through it.

Gifts...
2696. No one being hurt by a dropped mug
2697. Walking to the library
2698. A storm blowing in to clear my head as I cleared the kitchen
2699. Finding the perfect paint color for an accent wall
2700! The paint guys' kind words and thoughtfulness
2701. Free queso

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Fairy Farm


I've been slowly unpacking and getting things put together this week (slowly in part because Adam is out of town, and in part because I am done with packing, but the packing isn't done). I'm also trying not to rush things - to take my time and get things exactly how I'd like them. I bought myself the Nester's Cozy Minimalist course and I've really been enjoying working through that (although, it's also slowed me down a little, because she says to do rugs and curtains before art because you may find that you need less art).


I've also discovered (or perhaps remembered) how much I love painting. Adam's mom gave us a cabinet that was her dad's - it's good, sturdy wood with laminate over, cute plastic "glass" panels, and darling mid-century legs on the bottom part - and the perfect place for all of our board games. I found some paint/primer in the garage that the previous homeowners left for us (that turned out to be a sample of what they painted the walls with) and painted the two pieces, used leftover paint from the front door to break up the expanse of the bottom doors, and finally had an excuse to get knobs at Anthropologie (every time I go in there - which is not often - I see the cute knobs but I've never needed any until now). I couldn't decide so I got two different ones - the bottom ones are crackled pottery that made me squeak aloud, and the top ones dangle adorably. My next painting project is an accent wall - pictures soon!


Since all of her clothes are in her dresser, I made Brooklyn's closet into a book nook (which is something that I always wanted as a kid). She was very pleased with it - the bottom shelf is stocked with board and picture books, the upper shelves with books saved from own childhood (the Anne of Green Gables books, all things horse by Marguerite Henry, all things dog by Jim Kjelgaard) that she can read once she learns to read on her own. Every so often she'll be playing the living room and say "I'll be right back, I just need to be in my book nook," and disappear for a little while.


It aligns well with our house philosophy. We haven't gotten around to writing a purpose statement yet (although, we plan to) but we do have a tagline of sorts, which has been a great filter even for decorating: cultivate wonder. That's our goal for ourselves and for everyone who walks through our door - to experience the wonder of God's grace and love and generosity and beauty. In keeping with that, the house has also been named (I hereby issue an apology to anyone I've ever mentally criticized for naming their home) - Fairy Farm. Let this be where magic happens, and adventure lurks around every corner!

Gifts...
2681. Loblolly for all at a nearby food truck rally (Adam's idea! I'm rubbing off!)
2682. Him putting together a dear little cabinet for our mugs
2683. Sitting at my desk and writing (I got it cleared off and organized)
2684. UPS leaving a package by the garage when I didn't get to the door in time, instead of just leaving a note
2685. Painting cabinets
2686. Listing gifts in a pretty chair under a fuzzy blanket
2687. A gorgeous day to spend at the zoo
2688. The way that Brooklyn says "capybara" (correctly and beautifully, in her little voice)
2689. Spending a few hours visiting with a friend from Fayetteville
2690. Going to church (I've really missed being there the past few weeks!)
2691. Painting and listening to podcasts
2692. Brooklyn liking fruit-and-veggie popsicles
2693. Everyone waking up happy
2694. Turning Brooklyn's closet into a book nook
2695. Tobin sitting in my lap and having me read him an animal alphabet book over and over and over

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Grow...


I'm more of a goer than a grower. While Adam has been plotting mowing and weeding and sod, I've been organizing books by the author's country of origin and painting All The Things, and going on lots of errands and adventures ('tis the season for food truck rallies!).

It's my tendency to think that moving forward is the path to improvement, but lately I've been realizing that in order to put down roots, I have to hold still for awhile. The tiny rootlets a seedling produces are wispy at first, and won't ever get bigger, deeper, or stronger if they keep getting broken off during repeated transplants.

So I'm learning to be still - mentally, and physically. The anxiety that causes tells me that I've developed a sort of addiction to always going, always moving - but I know that a deeper peace lies on the other side of the cleanse, along with deeper roots. And a momentary cessation of motion is not the end of progress. I can still "look at God all day and lift my leafy arms to pray" while allowing the moss to grow.

It's Five Minute Friday! Each week a flashmob of bloggers gather, internet-wide, to write for five minutes (no stopping, no editing) on a prompt provided by sweet Kate, then link up and share a little comment love. For more info, more posts, and/or to join in, head here!