Reframing Life: A Meditation On The Home

My two-year-old sincerely loves all things musical – Recently we’ve discovered that this includes The Lawrence Welk Show.

My husband took this photo yesterday as we were working on getting dinner on the table. He had been about to shut off the TV after playing the toddler Pandora station for awhile and it landed on The Lawrence Welk Show on PBS.

Sebastian saw the horn, looked up and him and said, “I love it, daddy! I love this show!”

We sat back amused and allowed our kid be exposed to the music of another era, while daddy made dinner and mommy worked on her blog.

Sebastian Watches Lawrence Welk

I love this picture because my husband took it and there is not one thing I would change about the composition – which, I must admit, is rare.

For once I can’t say, “Next time try not to get the counter top full of clutter right behind his head.” Or, “It’s better if the light is behind you.” Or, “See how the light fixture looks like it’s sprouting out of his head.” (I got this photo pickiness from my mother, in case you were wondering why I should be such a nag.)

The timing was perfect, too. How awesome is that Geritol ad at the top of the screen?!!!

Here is a rare snap-shot of a day in our lives in which I feel that we really do live that unattainable, magazine-perfect life. Outside of the shot, the rest of the house is steeped in the clutter of the weekend, and of my recent trip to Target to get toilet paper, diapers, and La Croix sparkling water.

But in this photo, I’m not bothered by the out of place kids toys, the old Turkish rug that doesn’t match anything, the crumby blanket that covers our crappy couch, the new curtains that still have creases in them from the package, and that I hate but we can’t return. Etc, etc, etc.

In this photo I see our house as an outsider might see it. A comfortable place to be at home with family. Watching Larence Welk to boot!

This photo has been a reminder for me to be truly grateful for life and the home that we share together as a family.

I love it because it’s aesthetically pleasing to me: I love, love, love the composition. It stands on it’s own as a photograph. (Old-school photography, before digital cameras, was the first art form I fell in love with.)

I love it because it was such an amusing moment in our lives. A moment that made my husband and me smile together and appreciate the wonder that is our son. That despite us being sleep deprived, him being on-call all weekend and trying to get dinner on the table, and me feeling uncomfortable and swollen with pregnancy, allowed us to step into another frame of mind and enjoy our family time.

I’m planning to use this whenever I need a lift and a smile this week.

My new meditation on the home:

As I look around my house this week I’m looking through the eyes of the photograph. Our house – even with the bits of clutter that I’m always battling on the counter tops, with all toys and books and things that the two-year-old tornado is always depositing all over the floors in all of the walkways, with all the clutter that gets shuffled from place to place because it doesn’t yet have a home – even with all this stuff, our house is still a comfortable, happy home when you step back and look at it from the right point of view.

This week I will look at our home from the frame of mind of love, comfort,  togetherness, and amusement,  not with that critical eye that infects my everyday battle with domestic chores.

Choose Your Mood

Yesterday I took my lemons and I made some lemonade.

I did a little thought experiment that allowed me to have a better day than I would have otherwise, having gotten up on as wrong a side of the bed as possible.

I’ve written about my troubles getting enough sleep before. The first struggle is getting to sleep on time. The second struggle is staying asleep. Insomnia runs in my family. My mother, my aunt, and I all deal with it.

Now that I’m five months pregnant, I’ve got the old pregnancy insomnia.

Some people do fine on very little sleep. I do not. It makes me feel emotional and depressed.

The other night I got to bed relatively late again. Then my son woke me up crying at 3:30 and I could not for the life of me get back to sleep. Just when I felt I was finally dozing off again, and indeed dreaming, my husband’s alarm went off.

Now I felt like crying.

When I told him I’d been awake for hours he kindly got out of bed without pressing snooze (he’s an incorrigible snoozer) but it was too late. I wasn’t going to get that last half hour of sleep either.

This was my day to get things done while my son was at school! He goes to preschool two days a week and I had already spent most of Tuesday resting because I was just feeling completely wiped out that day – a sort of five-months-pregnant-sick-day.

I couldn’t bear to waste another day that I could be catching up on blogging and housework and dreaming big dreams for my self.

I felt the familiar tug. The depressed feeling. The negative spiral of thoughts. I felt like I might just cry all day long. Like I’d never make it through the day doing anything of value.

And then I stopped myself. I took a deep breath and I decided to be positive.

I thought, What about those times in your life when something really exciting is happening (like you have house guests you haven’t seen in years or you are going on a trip) and you pop out of bed despite being tired?

Couldn’t I just pretend it was one of those days?

What if I just got up today and enjoyed being alive?

What if I was excited to watch my son wake up and say his first adorable words of the day?

What if I was excited about catching my gym class after dropping him off at school?

It didn’t go of completely without a hitch. Right before I got out of bed my husband was tiptoeing out of the room to go on his morning run and I rolled over and complained to him,

“Sebby woke me up at 3:30 and I just couldn’t get back to sleep after that.”

“Aw. Sorry babe. Maybe you can take a nap today.”

(Here is where I lost it for a second – let’s blame the pregnancy hormones shall we?)

“Sure, because that’s how I love to spend my whole day!” I said as the tears welled in my eyes and my face began to crumple up in the cry-face.

I threw the sheet over my head.

“I know. I know it’s hard when you’re tired, but you will feel better if you exercise.” (I had already mentioned when the alarm went off that I didn’t know if I could go to the gym like I always do on Friday.)

I nodded, we said our “I love yous,” and he left for his run.

And I continued with my plan. I got straight out of bed, put on my gym clothes and got Sebby dressed, fed, and to school, and was five minutes early to my gym class.

And the class was awesome! Some days I feel pretty tired when I’m in class, given my condition, but yesterday I dug in and it just felt GOOD. Afterward I ran into a friend and I was able to help her out with her audition video to be a spin instructor at the gym – that never would have happened if I’d stayed home.

The rest of the day was pretty good. I felt much better than I had on Tuesday. I stayed positive. I did some organizing that needed to be done and set some goals.

Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t super-productive. My head was a little foggy and blank all day.

But I just went with the flow of the day I was given by circumstance. I accomplished what I could, I let go of the rest till another day, and I stayed in a pretty good mood all day.

I chose my mood. 

Have any of you ever had an experience like this? Do you think some people just do this naturally, without giving it a second thought?

 

 

Stuff My Husband Cooks

I think I’m going to have to rename my blog Stuff My Husband Cooks!

Fruit Salad with Lemon and Mint

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to have a foodie for a husband?

Well, I recently realized that my husband has in effect disabled me in the kitchen! It is ridiculous how little I cook these days. I would like to take steps to change that…. Basically, I’ve lost my confidence because I want simple, simple, simple, easy, quick meals, and his style is always, “Well, we could add this, and we could whip that up in the food processor…”

The pic above is a beautiful fruit salad he made with the pears (that I thought were rotting),  apples, strawberries, and raspberries that we had on hand, plus lemon juice and fresh mint from his herb garden. We whipped this up when we had his parents and another couple, their good friends visiting from Iowa, over for breakfast last weekend. He also made scrambled eggs with fried onions on the side (which only the two of us ate on top of our eggs, along with hot sauce) and English muffins. His parents brought over bacon and I ate veggie breakfast sausage.

Below is the pasta he made tonight for dinner, Cacio e Pepe, which he had recently seen in the New York Times.

Cacio e Pepe

For this cheesy, peppery pasta, he used freshly grated Romano and Parmesan cheeses, fresh chives from his garden, frozen peas, and frozen edamame because he couldn’t find fava or lima beans at the market. On the side he made a salad of sliced kohlrabi with olive oil, fresh mustard, salt and pepper.

Oh! And I cannot forget to tell you about the pan bagnet!

It was such a production that I feel guilty that I did not document the process and devote a whole post to it. Apparently, he’s been wanting to make this sandwich for a couple of years and he was inspired by yet another recent New York Times food article. He made such a fuss about this sandwich for two days before he made it. He used leftover salmon that he had grilled when his parents were here. I wasn’t excited about it because I had just had the revelation that I do not want to eat fish again for a long, long time and now he wanted me to eat the leftovers.

 Pan Bagnat, a French picnic sandwich

He wrapped the sandwiches up in saran wrap and waxed poetic about how traditionally you would have someone like your children sit on them to press them. He took one to work and left one for me to eat while I was at home writing. He texted me to remind me to take it out of the fridge and let it get to room temp before I ate it.

And it was pretty awesome.

I enjoyed it with my espresso and a piece of chocolate afterwards and pretended I was at a cafe. All in all, I cannot complain about having a foodie for a husband. ;)

However, I’d like to someday be an adult myself, and cook for my family more…. We’ll see how that goes.

 

 

 

How Exercise Pulled Me Out of Another Season of Depression

It happened again.

I had another several weeks of depression. It always seems to come around a time when I had hoped to start blogging again. So I don’t, because it’s just going to be day after day of the same thing.

  • I’m extremely overwhelmed by everyday tasks.
  • I find basic housework dreadful and energy sapping. It is a gigantic weight on my shoulders.
  • It seems like clutter is piling and piling and it is severely oppressing me. (Though in reality it’s being managed – it isn’t growing.)
  • I cry every day.
  • My brain is in a continual fog and I cannot write.
  • I can’t imagine ever accomplishing anything creative and “meaningful” with my life.
  • I’m short tempered with my husband, my mother, and my toddler.
  • I cry more because I feel like a terrible mother. (And daughter; and wife…. And sister; and friend.)

But I’ve continued to exercise a few days a week despite this and I’ve learned that that is the most essential piece to my mental health.

At my lowest these past several weeks, exercise didn’t make me feel any better and just sapped my energy. But I did it anyway.

Most of the time though, it makes my entire day better.

  • I’ve started to feel those endorphins that my husband is always talking about.
  • I think it helps with the insomnia and with quieting my intrusive negative thoughts.
  • It makes me feel more relaxed and less overwhelmed about the chores and the clutter.
  • I am able to adopt that healing attitude that life is not a race.
  • I accept that my life is not currently designed around deadlines and social engagements.
  • It doesn’t matter if I finally get the Christmas decorations that are sitting in a pile in my office put away downstairs this week or next week – or here is a crazy though – ever.

It doesn’t matter.

Exercise makes me more confident. I feel more secure about the state of my home – take me as I am world! I feel more at home in my own body. I feel better about my creative ideas. I feel like there will be time to make my ideas come to life. My thoughts aren’t such a jumble that I feel hopeless that I will ever accomplish anything creative or fulfilling again.

Because of exercise I believe I can weather this storm and arrive again in another season of creating, growing, and improving my life.

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Oh, in case you are wondering, the reason I am even able to fit exercise into my life at all with winter weather and a toddler, is the new Gold’s Gym in town. Like the Stroller Fitness class I was invited to when Sebastian was 10 weeks old, and where I met my best friend in town, it has saved me.

I love the classes! I love the protein shakes! I love the childcare room!

I love meeting my good friend there and working hard together while our children play together. I love running into just about everyone I know there. I was never a big “gym” person until I tried this one. No joke, I thank the universe for bringing a Gold’s Gym to my small town.