So much happened in the world while I was away from my family last week. I tried not to see or read about all the death piling up on various continents because I felt naked and small without the comfort of my children’s faces in my Paraguayan hotel room.
But I knew.
I’m home now and I’m sad and grateful. Sad that so many will never hold their children again in this life and grateful that today I am holding mine.
Life is short and I’m choosing to be thankful for what is in front of me for as long as I have today.
It’s possible (normal?) to be both sad and thankful, I’m finding out. Maybe the sadness makes the thanksgiving realer, somehow. All I know is, I still have Hope. And that He is good even when life is devastating.
I’m leaving the country tomorrow (for the third time this year) and it’s the same old thing: the scrambling to get things done while feeling a familiar tightening of chest muscles, the failure to match nouns with verbs.
It’s a privilege to go. I’m aware of that. And I’ll get on board, literally and figuratively, in about 30 hours. Until then, I think about my kids and how they’ll get along while I’m gone. I think about my husband. Will he secretly watch new episodes of The Blacklist without me? I probably would if I were him. And will someone think to put the pink coat on our dachshund, Amy, if the weather gets colder next week? She needs that coat.
Amy (left) and her husband, Frodo.
I studied in Vienna when I was in college. I remember feeling trepidation when I boarded the plane to head overseas with a fellow American student from my university. But it wasn’t because of all I was leaving behind. It was because of the future.
That was years ago. Since then I’ve traveled to five different continents (and lived on three), so I don’t feel those travel butterflies quite like I used to. Now I head into the air trying to send one more I love you text to the people who are holding my heart until I come back home again.
In the wee hours of the morning, I dreamed a recurring scene: I was supposed to write a magazine article about parents setting goals in front of their children so they can show them how to do it in their own lives. I planned to use the (somewhat silly) example of growing out my hair–as my daughter watched me doggedly struggle through bad hair days and awkward seasons–until I got my hair the way I wanted it.
My sisters and me (left), playing around with our mother’s monstrous stash of wigs.
So far, so good. (?)
But in my dream, every time I wrote a couple of paragraphs, the computer screen ate them and I was left with nothing. Then I grabbed a notebook and rewrote them, but I couldn’t read my own handwriting. Back to the computer.
The clock kept ticking, and I was aware that I had fifteen minutes until my article was due. This scenario replayed itself in my dream like a wretched little GIF until I woke up, cranky and stressed.
After the kids and I ate breakfast and fed the dogs, I headed to my bedroom to write. I told them that I needed some time to work because I’ve given myself a deadline to finish a first draft of my second novel before I leave the country next week (it doesn’t look like I’ll meet this goal, but I’ll probably come close).
I still felt the cloud of that anxious dream hanging over me and I wondered if my kids will think I’m crazy someday. But then I consoled myself with this thought: They’re seeing me work towards little and big goals every day, and, crazy or not, I’m showing them how to keep going.
I tell myself that’s got to count for something.
Moral of the story: Don’t use over-the-counter sleep aids unless you’re prepared to dream in GIFs .
Because sometimes it’s just good to be silly.
I love reading new thoughts, especially if they pertain to the creative arts. My favorite websites are those that cause me to think about books–and ideas in books–in deeper ways, and, by extension, to think about life.
That’s probably why I rarely finish reading Maria Popova’s famed Brain Pickings without having received some serious inspiration. Popova’s a literary ideas curator, you might say, and while that sounds highfalutin, it really isn’t. It just means she combs the Internet for important things so I don’t have to. Mmmm, yes, please.
In celebration of nine years of Brain Pickings (a very long time, indeed, in Internet Land), she offers 9 Learnings from 9 Years of Brain Pickings. Several pieces of advice in this short read are spot on. A couple of them I need to take to heart right this minute. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.
What do you need most?
Have you asked yourself that lately?
Would your answer change if your spouse were the one asking? A friend? A travel agent? Your mom?
It’s worth thinking (and maybe writing) about.
The answer might free you if you’re brave enough to tell the truth.