Wednesday, March 27, 2013

One Hundred Days


We leave for England in 100 days.

By "we" I mean just Tim and I. It will be our first time away from the boys since Moses was born. And while I know I'm going to miss them (probably more than I realize) I know I'm also going to treasure my one on one time with Tim, which probably won't come again until, well, a long time from now. It's not everyday one of your best friends gets married in England and your parents offer to cover the cost of the flights (God bless them).

There's a part of me that never wants the day to come, so that I always have the joy of anticipating it's arrival. In the past - during the summers I was in college - I always returned with nervous excitement. I was single and free and there was nothing I wanted more than England. I graduated from college a year early to get there faster. At one point, England was all there was. That was the plan. It was the plan I had 7 years ago - visa in hand, job interview at the other end of the line. But of course, here I am. With a totally different story to tell. I never returned because God redirected my path and thank goodness He did because it led me to Tim and to two little boys who wouldn't be here otherwise.

But there is and always will be, I think, a little piece of my heart that stays on the other side of the Atlantic. England is like a first love that I can never forget nor can I help but be drawn to. And to come face to face with it again, after all these years, knowing full well that when those ten days are up I will have to say goodbye again breaks my heart a little.  Knowing that I will have to come home with my heart fresh and vulnerable. I think I'm making this sound all very over dramatic, but in my head it makes sense. I'm sure some of you are saying "Lady, just take your trip to England, appreciate it for the amazing opportunity that it is and stop finding reasons to complain" and to that I say - Amen.

It doesn't change the fact that for me this is more than a vacation. It's a return to a place and a dream that I put away a few years ago when I knew if I kept on yearning for it the way that I did that it would kill me. I'm scared to have to say goodbye all over again. To go through a period of longing to be back. I want to go and see and love and dream and then come home and love my kids and be happy to be home. Best case scenario. I have faith that God knows all these things and will keep my heart safe with Himself.

Below are snippets from a post I wrote while I lived in England in 2006. It is a piece of a day I hold close to my heart and my 22 year old self does a much better job of encapsulating the deep connection I feel to this place. Because of course, she was there. In the present and loving every minute of it:

Rewind to Saturday - approximately 12:40 in the afternoon. It's going to be a hot day. I'm on my way to Milton Keynes Central station with 9 minutes to spare before my train leaves the platform for London... I pass the time to Euston station by reading my book and listening to music as the scenery to my left blends into lines of green and blue. I'll never tire of watching this country from the vantage point of a passenger en route.  My favorite is from the clouds. There's nothing quite so captivating as observing England from a bird's eye view. The countryside becomes a patchwork of rolling fields and meadows, divided into lopsided squares by hedges and ambling lanes, and polka-dotted by sheep and cows and little houses and ponds. Sometimes I wonder if I come here just for that....just for those few minutes of all-seeing splendor; when it's all a silent masterpiece promising to offer me something it knows I may never find. That image, that aerial view that keeps me disconnected but filled with anticipation of touching down, is what I hold on to when I feel the dream slipping away.

"...Somewhere between Warren Street and Green Park, I begin to daydream and realize two minutes too late that I've missed my stop. Circling back, I finally arrive at Waterloo and as it's one of the National Rail connection points, it's much grander than your typical London underground station. I step into the heart of a thousand paths crossing all at once, and it looks like life in fast forward. It’s almost heavenly here, with the sun streaming through the glass ceiling into this wide open white space. But time is ever the burden and there’s art to be seen so I move out onto the street, only vaguely aware of the direction I need to head in. A crowd of boisterous males temporarily clogs the flow of pedestrians, drunk on beer and England's win against Paraguay in the World Cup match of the day. I'm still warming up to the excitement surrounding the tournament. At the moment, all I'm focused on is getting back to Oxford Circus before the shops close. 

...I pause outside Westminster station to take in the greatness of Big Ben - once again thrilled by the closeness and tangibility of it all. Moments later I'm plunged back into the belly of London's underground, hundreds of feet below the city streets. Here, everything moves in fast, parallel lines all headed up or down or sideways or backways. Passenger tunnels branch out in every which way, like a maze of rabbit holes, each leading to a new destination. Platforms are the only places where bodies stand still, if only in wait for the next journey onwards. The walls are peppered with brightly colored floor-to-ceiling adverts, while the train tunnels straddled at either end are a deep, smoky black abyss. Sometimes, if your eyes are quick enough, you can spy a mouse scurrying along the track line making its way, perhaps, to Paddington Station. 

...Back at Euston station, I settle into my seat on the 7:54 train to North Hampton. The journey home is cast in fading sunlight, and once more I abandon my book for the beauty outside my window. From a still, small place in the back of my mind, I carefully take out the plans that sit on the edge of December and slowly weigh the options in both hands. As always, I'm left with vague impressions. But for now, in this quiet moment of solitude, all that matters is that I'm here, now, witnessing life unfolding itself before me - and there's nowhere else I'd rather be."

- June 9, 2006

Saturday, March 23, 2013

On Smart Phones

I held off as long as possible, but it was only a matter of time before I succumbed to getting a smart phone. They are a complete and utter time-suck, not to mention expensive. But after both of our phones stopped being able to receive texts from people with iPhones, it got to be annoying and we knew it was time to upgrade. So after much research we settled on the Droid 2. Is it just me or does the name Droid conjure up thoughts of all those robot movies where they develop a will of their own and annihilate civilization?

Anyways, I was just thankful that we got to keep our no-contract plan with PagePlus Cellular (only $60 a month total for both of us!) and that the phones themselves were reasonably priced considering phones out of contract can cost around $300-400 on average.

Naturally, the best part about a smart phone is the apps. Including.. Instagram. The same Instagram I referenced in my last post. And this even better picture app called Aviary. Ok, I promise I won't take pictures of my nicely folded laundry and make you think that my day is going way better than yours. But I do love to use it to take pictures of the boys:

And in the true spirit of keeping things in perspective, here's what else happened behind the scenes of these serene moments:

Jack and Moses both keep pooping. I mean, like all day. Just pooping. At one point, a turd fell out of Moses's diaper, down the leg of his pants and onto the dining room floor. I didn't see it happening in real time, but I knew right away what I was looking at when I spotted something on the floor from across the room. We're thinking the influx of feces was caused by swallowing some pool water yesterday when we were swimming. Whatever the reason, it's gross and messy. And while it's convenient Jack is potty trained (less diapers to change) Tim said he almost barfed when he had to..... ok, I'm sure you get the picture. Yesterday and today have been good days, but there's also been lots of poop.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

On True Life

Hi. I'm back. I don't know why I'm so uninspired to write these days. I think the challenge with blogs is the want to post about all the pleasantries of life (complete with lots of professional looking photographs) but there is a need for posts about what's really going on behind the scenes. Especially as a mom. It's easy to believe that many are living this really rosy, hipster-chic drinking iced tea from a Mason jar and eating organic yogurt with homemade granola from this bowl I carved with the knife I got in Europe while I watch the sunset over the pond by my cabin in the woods kind of life. And MAN would I love for that to be my reality all the time, but it simply isn't. It's natural to want to share pictures or posts of the happy, beautiful moments in your life - like the one above! With Instagram you can even make folding laundry look like the best moment of your day. And there's nothing wrong with that. But when that's primarily what everyone else is doing as well, it can easily make me feel like my life is dull or boring or hard. There's whole studies done on this topic:

Utah Valley University conducted research last year which indicated that people are becoming depressed after viewing Facebook. A sample of 425 undergraduate students was surveyed and for those who spent the most amount of time on Facebook, depression was more likely. Why? Those student perceived that others were happier and had a better life than they do. This phenomenon is known as “Facebook depression". (source)

Similar outcomes were found in a study done by Standford University:

By showcasing the most witty, joyful, bullet-pointed versions of people's lives, and inviting constant comparisons in which we tend to see ourselves as the losers, Facebook appears to exploit an Achilles' heel of human nature. And women—an especially unhappy bunch of late—may be especially vulnerable to keeping up with what they imagine is the happiness of the Joneses.

Facebook is, after all, characterized by the very public curation of one's assets in the form of friends, photos, biographical data, accomplishments, pithy observations, even the books we say we like. Look, we have baked beautiful cookies. We are playing with a new puppy. We are smiling in pictures (or, if we are moody, we are artfully moody.) Blandness will not do, and with some exceptions, sad stuff doesn't make the cut, either.

I think this can ring true for blogs as well. Don't get me wrong - I'm not trying to say people are lying, or that there's anything wrong with sharing pictures of the happy, beautiful moments in life. But it can make me feel alone in my struggles.  I've been reading this great book called Desperate: Hope For the Mom Who Needs to Breathe and I relate so much to what Sarah Mae, one of the co-authors, shares:

"The days became long and impossible. Taking care of my children was too hard. Being a good wife was too hard. Cleaning, creating life, living...was just too hard"     - Sarah Mae

"I've lain in bed too scared to get up and ruin another day - ruin my kids"    - Ann Voskamp (forward)

There's a lot I've found encouraging too, especially their perspective on what motherhood is supposed to be like rather than how we've been taught to approach it - primarily alone:

"Motherhood was meant to be experienced with other mothers, aunts, grandmothers, and a community of women sharing the load. Please do not attempt this alone!...Going at it alone is, without a doubt, one of those most common and effective strategies Satan uses to discourage moms...We are living in an isolationist culture today and have become accustomed to lonely living that God never intended us to experience. ..God made us for community and accountability and close friendship..Young moms were never meant to be without the advice and care of multiple women assisting them and advising them in their lives"      - Sally Clarkson (co-author)

To all these things I say "Yes!" and yet, it is so easy for all of us, no matter what our situation to feel ashamed to confess that we are struggling and need help. It's never easy to be vulnerable. And yet it's exactly what we need. Of course, we also need moments and memories that are joyful and photogenic because they remind us that there is always beauty to balance out the mess.

The point here is: Life's highlights are only highlights because of the shadows cast by our low points. It is right and good to celebrate eachother's highs, including our own. But it is seems to me that relationship and soul-bonding is almost always most deeply felt when we are willing to be vulnerable and relate to one another's lows.

So let's do that.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...