Hello, friends! It’s been a minute. How are you? All things are well and dandy over here! I meant to check in a few days ago, but I tucked my computer away instead, and traded it for some new books I picked up at the library on one of our weekly jaunts. I am currently bouncing back and forth between herbal homemaking and the gardening history of the Shakers – both fascinating things to learn about in the middle of the frozen tundra we are experiencing right now! Warm up Kansas City!
Along with reading more, I’ve been spending a good chuck of my day immersed in essay writing, something I’ve decided over the past few months needs to be a part of my book. I love reading essays myself, particularly when they lend themselves to ordinary arts, such as cooking, crafting, organizing, and gardening etc. Anyways, that’s been sweeping me away for several hours at a time, and I’ve been really enjoying the messy process.
Let’s see, what else is new? I’ve been consistently working out! As in 4 times a week. This is big. I don’t know if you know this about me, but I love sleep and will use it an an excuse to get out of just about anything, working out being at the top of that ridiculously long and embarrassing list. And you know what, it’s paying off. My pants had been rather tight around the bum since the end of summer, and I just wasn’t feeling like my usual self. Low energy, belly bloat, yada yada. And now I am fitting into my regular jeans and have so much more energy to boot. Andrew and I decided to limit drinking alcohol (a lot) and have focused on making clean meals together instead. Last night we made Chinese Beef Broccoli from scratch and it was heaven. And I don’t even care for Chinese food. I have also been having him meal plan with me on Sundays and that has been helping us eat so much healthier because I haven’t been stuck planning all the meals myself. Here’s a stack of my favorite cookbooks, Andrew. Now, chop chop! He usually picks things I never would and I’ve been better for it. This has been a treat for our marriage and the little shake up we needed this season.
We have also been doing this new thing now, going on three weeks, where we’ll pick one night a week and have an indoor date night. Last night was our third. We’ll make an early meal for the kids, something really simple that they love like pasta or quesadillas, and it’s an early bed night for all three bubs. Whatever day we choose to be our indoor date night is also a screen-free day, too. The kids have surprisingly been more than alright with this, and they know that they can choose to play in their room until they are ready for bed if they want. I have been pulling out the puzzles for these nights and other hands-on games to keep them entertained in lieu of a screen. It works! I put a bunch of things in a big tub a while back and get it out then, and they think it’s so special. To do this weekend: make a screen-free tub. You should try it. Andrew and I then make a meal together, something we’ve never made before, and chat over a mocktail in the kitchen sans kids – last night’s was cucumber soda with lavender simple syrup and lemon slices. I also threw some fresh rosemary in there too because if I have fresh rosemary on hand I throw it in everything.
Then as for the rest of the evening, we’ll either watch a new movie together (because we older folk get to bend the rules), or play a board game or cards, chat over music, or read aloud. I know that last one sounds kind of odd, but it’s fun! I picked up an old, dusty copy of Leaves of Grass up on our second indoor date, and Andrew selected Walden, and we popcorn read like back in middle school next to the roaring fire. I hadn’t read either of those since my college courses and it was really a hoot taking turns reading and discussing, sometimes in accents, like our very own romantical Dead Poets Society, but with food! Good stuff if you ask me.
I know it’s the 25th and this month is almost over, but I don’t want it to be. This time has been a gift, a treasure, and I want to keep hold of it’s magic for as long as I can. I want to keep waking up with the sun, saying yes to building castles with Alfie, making messes in the kitchen with Andrew, helping Stella read in bed, and reading to Theodore about Dinosaurs. Did you know birds are the closest living descendants of dinosaurs? T and I learned this a few days ago. This was new to me, and now every time I see a bird my eyes widen and I find myself marveling. If your kids like dinosaurs, check out the Usborne books. They are great.
There have also been little changes inside of the bigger changes that have been bringing me a lot of inner peace this month. For whatever reason, I have been really caught up on house chores this month. Our home has remained fairly tidy, and that’s given me so much more time to read and write. And the interesting thing is, is that we all have been so much more creative too! Lots more making going on over here, but not as much mess. Hmmm. I like it. I have realized that those minutes spent scrolling really added up, making simple tasks such as throwing in a load of laundry while coffee is brewing feel bigger than they really are.
I’ve found myself mediating more too, not formally in a lotus position on my yoga mat whilst chanting over billowing clouds of incense, but in everyday things, as in simple matters of the home. When I am doing dishes, for example, I’ll be aware of my breathing, as well as the warm water on my hands, and the gift that is having warm water to wash our dirty dishes in the first place. As I breathe in I’ll say an object, like “I am water.” And as I breathe out I’ll say an intention, like “I am flowing.” Or “I am calm.” It has been helping me a lot, and I have been feeling so much more in control of my anxiety. Seeds of gratitude are planted every time I take the time slow down and pay attention, and mindfully washing dishes is just one of the ways I do this.
Oh, I almost forgot! I have been taking bubble baths! When was the last time you dunked yourself in a tub just for the hell of it? Here’s what I do before sliding in…I’ll set up my little spa with the following: a mug of herbal tea, a scented soy candle, something delicious to read, and oatmeal bath salts infused with lavender and geranium. It’s divine. I’ll get the water piping hot and glide in like a seal, letting the steamy water blanket my body as the winter wind hits the window panes over my head. The juxtaposition between the hot and cold makes it even more healing than your average soak, I think. I’ve taught Stella the art of bathing too, and she’ll pull out a candle of her own, Pete the Cat, and mist her face with rose water while she gets good and pruny. It’s the cutest thing.
What I suppose this all boils down to, is that there is time for these things. Time for waking before the sun. Time for working out regularly. Time for making meals with a husband who doesn’t know how to cook, but is learning. Time for indoor date nights. Time to learn about dinosaurs at age 31. Time to do things that give life rather than take it away. More time. I didn’t think there was or could be. But there is. Time is all we really have, and it’s all about how we measure and make use of it that matters.
I should tell you that I don’t tend to spent a lot of time doing a majority of these things I’ve mentioned above, but because I do them slowly with care, it feels like it’s deep in the marrow of my being. A beautiful 15 minute bath is often times the inward breath I need to take the kids to the indoor gym or the park for well over three hours. A 10 minute dish scrub while watching the birds (that I now know are dino cousins! just wild.) outside the big window that frames our sink in the kitchen, offers me patience to get Theodore yet another snack and give Alfie a long back rub each night before bed. These little pauses to turn inward and become aware of my body and my breath, are what have been carrying me forward with patience and grace, and it is this that I want to honor and carry forward myself as we leap into February.
I do not want to get back on social media right now. And I am okay with that. No decisions need to be made today, it’s only the 25th. We’ve got time. It’s all we’ve got, indeed.