Monday, April 30, 2018

A few of the things I'm loving, learning, or changing this spring

I love home, homes. I love walking my neighborhood of homes built in the forties, all of these decades of coming home. My favorite are the kitchens. I'd trade an entire subdivision for one kitchen table with a light over it, the muffled clatter of dishes, chairs pushed back, over and over and over again. I have more hope in kitchen tables than just about anything, I believe they are the one thing keeping us afloat, holding us together. When despair for the world grows in me . . . I heat up a pan, chop an onion, I set the table. 
"After the resurrection, Jesus didn’t show up at the temple, but around the dinner table." (Leonard Sweet)

A page of my bullet journal contains four lists: things I'm learning, small things I'm loving, my frustrating moments, and what is saving my life right now.

The idea of recording frustrations came from Modern Mrs. Darcy (here). It is surprisingly helpful to actually write down your frustrating moments, even the small things. When I name it, I can begin finding ways to change it rather than endure it, rather than repeating it over and over. 

Here are some of the things that I've been learning, loving, or frustrating things I'm working on changing this spring:


I made this chocolate cake with chocolate frosting from Julia Turshen's Small Victories for Josie's birthday, and it will become my standard chocolate cake recipe

I re-read Daring Greatly for book club, and I really need to re-read it every year or so.
Vulnerability is life's great dare. Are you all in?
Shame heals best between people.

Who Thought This Was a Good Idea? by Alyssa Mastromonaco was hilarious and a super interesting behind-the-scenes look at the White House. (Let's be friends on Goodreads; I track my reading and write reviews there). One takeaway: She says she succeeded by focusing on the next five steps. You can't become an expert on everything, but you can prepare for your next five steps. I'm learning to prepare for the next five things right in front of me rather than looking too far down the road.

Dream More, by Dolly Parton
I would not have picked this up on my own, but I heard it recommended three times within the course of a week. Don't read the book, everyone said, you have to listen to her read the audio. It is a quick book, only three cds, and it is delightful. I love her.
It’s been my experience that happiness begets happiness. You have to work hard at being happy, just like you have to work hard at being miserable. I wake up every day expecting all to be good and right. And if it’s not, I set my mind to making it so by the end of the day. You just have to figure out where the unhappiness is coming from and then set about fixing it . . . I learned early on that if you can just get started at doing something positive, somehow you are starting on the downhill side of your problem. When big things in your life get messy, you need to get up and get out. I make a point to appreciate all the little things in my life. I do out and smell the air after a good, hard rain. I re-read passages from favorite books. I hold the little treasures that somebody special gave me. These small actions help remind me that there are so many great, glorious pieces of good in the world.

Small choices have more power than big. I'm learning this from the Lazy Genius, How to Set Goals Like a Normal Person and The Universal Path to Life-Giving Routine. Both are super practical and thoughtful. I'm loving everything The Lazy Genius (Kendra) writes or says right now.

Rethinking School by SusanWise Bauer
The way we do school is entirely unnatural. If you are a parent, read this book. It's not about homeschool, but about taking charge of your child's education- which is the job of the parent regardless of your school choice.

A few quick tips: 
Don't ask kids what they want to be, but who they want to be.

Help kids to pay attention to their emotions and feelings, look for patterns. Be aware of the things you love. Have them keep lists; when are they confused/interested; frustrated/happy; things I love/places I love. Ask; If you could have a perfect day, what would it be? Take all of the Self-knowledge tests you can get your hands on.

I attended the Midwest Great Homeschool Convention in April. I wish there were a Great Parenting Convention for all of my friends who don't homeschool, as every year I come away encouraged and better equipped in my parenting. A few quick takes because I have pages and pages of notes which I will spare you  . . .

Education is virtue. Your child's teacher should be the most virtuous person you can find. I must be the most virtuous parent I can be. (Andrew Kern)

Parenting: "Let there be a tree of no in a garden of yes." Our orientation toward the world should be positive. We are heirs. We don't lack." (S.D.Smith)

Writing: "Words are not abstract. They make you feel, they get in your head. Writing is a craft. It's physical, you're shaping and creating something. . . Don't try writing massive novels; write one brick, perfectly. If you can make one perfect brick, you can make another perfect brick, you can make a million perfect bricks, you can build a cathedral." (N.D.Wilson)

Little Things I'm Loving:

Tea time. Joy Clarkson's podcast is so great, and A Philosophy of Tea convinced me to adopt a daily tea time. I am surprised by the way a set time for tea actually brings a kind of order to my day.

We toured Chagrin Valley Soap and Salve with our homeschool. The company began in their mother's kitchen, and while it has expanded their process remains the same. They continue to make small batches of soaps and lotions, with few ingredients, on a stovetop. I've switched from a more expensive moisturizer to their whipped face cream and Pomegranate Argan Oil and I love them.

Taking a quarterly day every three months to review life, set new goals, trouble-shoot my frustrating moments. I'm finding quarterly goals are much more successful than grand New Year's resolutions.

Frustrating Moments/ Changes

My art space is in my basement laundry room, and every time I walk by with a load of laundry it sits there mocking me. I am frustrated that I'm not making art, frustrated at my unfinished pieces. My solution: inspired by the Lazy Genius'  #the100dayproject watercolors, I'm starting a forty day project in May. Quick, simple, daily art. 

Somewhere I heard the idea (I believe it was Erwin McManus) that I cannot measure my own success by anything but that I gave my ALL. This changes everything. The question isn't what should I be doing, but What can I give my whole heart to right now? In each situation, however large or small the question is, How can I give my whole heart to this situation?

Saving My Life Right Now . . . 

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.
Denounce the government and embrace
the flag. Hope to live in that free
republic for which it stands.
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias. 
(Read the rest here)
There are other things I'm loving and learning, other frustrating moments, and this is the wonder, that all things are ours, all of God's wide world, and all of the books and people to meet, all of the frustrating moments and cups of tea and chocolate cake; all of life and death and the present and future- all are yours, and you are Christ's, and Christ is God's. We will never run out of things to learn and ways to grow and love. Today, we pour tea and set the table and plant Sequoias. The wonder of it.


Aunt Sharman said...

How I appreciate the wise wisdom from a young woman I have known all of her life. Thanks for the spring dusting of my still cloudy mind. Will listen to Dolly!

Misha said...

I am so glad you continue to write (and curate)... thank you! xox