Rather than make resolutions, in this house we make wishes and promises. I'm not sure what the inspiration was, but four years ago, I got out a jar, scraps of paper, and some birthday candles for our new tradition. Z was 3 and X was 1, so I must have thought this would be best explained in terms of birthdays--it was the new year's birthday, so we made ice cream with sprinkles and whipped cream with a candle on top. Before blowing out the candles, we make a wish and a promise, rather than trying to explain what a resolution is. After these are written on the scraps and put in the jar, the kids blow out the year's birthday candles, and we wait to see what happens next year.
This is the best part--seeing what came true of previous years. Last year, Z wished for a pink and purple sparkly bike which appeared on her birthday. X promised not to wear pull-ups to bed anymore which I had completely forgotten was only a year ago. Many of our own wishes and promises have come true as well like our Disneyland trip and building the shop. The magic of our little tradition is they are put in the jar, with the candles for next year, and they are largely forgotten. Yet each New Year's Eve we open the jar and lo and behold, our wishes came true, our promises were kept. They don't loom like some resolution never to be kept. The tradition of resolutions has been around since ancient Babylonia in their March planting ritual, but it wasn't until Julius Caesar that we began to make them in January, named for the two-faced god Janus who looked back at the past and forward to the future. Maybe it's his two-faced nature that makes resolutions impossible to keep; we can't be constantly stuck in the past if we want the future to be different. Instead we make ourselves and loved ones a promise, we wish for what we dream of most, and put it out there with the child-like innocence that knows they will come true.
There's something haunting our history, and it comes round but once a year. As the days grow darker, we dress up our children and send them forth to trick or treat with little reasoning. As we are farther removed from whence we came in both time and space, it's easy to accept that what we do out of tradition is just for fun, but it's also illuminating to know the why. Along with Halloween, quickly follows el día de los muertos, but its past has not been forgotten; a day to remember the dead and keep them close to our hearts, celebrated with beauty, brightness, food, and love reminds us all of our mortality and that without death, there would be no life as shown when the seasons turn.
These juxtapositions are who we are as humans and rather than hide in the shadows, we should bring them to light. According to History, "[Halloween] originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off ghosts...Celts believed that on the night before the new year [Oct. 31], the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred," much like el día de los muertos. No doubt these are deeply rooted in the changing of the seasons, the darker days and longer nights that follow summer into fall.
Over time All Hallow's Eve lost its history and became the watered-down version of Halloween, easily swallowed but with little sustenance. As Z&X prepare to carve pumpkins rather than turnips, we'll do it just for fun, and they'll dress up and trick or treat too; you can even dress up your dog! We'll spend some time, though, remembering our loved ones because those lines still blur for us. Our past doesn't have to haunt us, if we look our ghosts in the face and remember to carry our own little light through the darkness of the days that follow.
We all have dreams of what life will become. We set out to accomplish those dreams which are forever changing as we go along. Some dreams are simple, straightforward, while others are complex, complicated. Sometimes it seems life just gets in the way of what we want, and that we'll never see our dreams come to fruition, but once in awhile we do. We found our dream house, minus the shop, and it had been a goal to build it since we bought the house, then a goal to put in a floor.
These things take time, and money, and we have been patient and saved. Once accomplished, it seems like we're always ready to move on to the next dream and the next, as if the one completed didn't really matter, but it was this that made me realize, they're all really one and the same. Whether it be our next remodel project, or Z getting the kitten she couldn't have until the shop was done, it's just our collective dream.
When it's all said and done, there will be remnants of what we created for awhile, but those too will fade, what won't though was the support we found in each other: the eager hope of it and the utter joy of it. That will be ours while we're here, what makes our dream house, home, imbued with our energy even when, a hundred years from now, left empty. It makes me so grateful for the family we've created and those we came from who gave us the gifts of who we are, so we can pass that on to our little ones because this life, this dream, is worth it.
Some call this Divine Providence, The Law of Attraction, or even The Secret. Last night I was looking at a rather nebulous thought on writing what it means to be creative and a mother--wisps of ideas like: it is not binary or dual, they go hand-in-hand, and others floated by. The most cumulous one involved something about how they are both influenced by the need you had to create before babies and what that looked like. Regardless, I let the ideas float away until this morning, right now, on a chilly gray September morning where an article from The Atlantic offers an explanation of "How Motherhood Affects Creativity."
Like the water cycle the drops of evaporation rise and the cloud returns, dripping on my head like persistent raindrops until I write it down or get out an umbrella and let it slip away. This is what my creativity has always looked like--an inkling, an inspiration that drives me to do, to make, to write, unless I don't. My art isn't driven by what I should do but by how powerful the urge is to do it.
After Z & X were born, I wrote two of my favorite pieces, but they are so precious to me, I don't know when or if I will ever share them. Z's I wrote while rocking and nursing her. X's I wrote in the wee hours of some sleepless night. But, as I read this article it seems artists get shamed by the art world while mother's get shamed by the mother world. All I can imagine is Frida Kahlo's Henry Ford Hospital and Pablo Picasso's Maternity and where their inspirations for these works came from. Anna Abraham a professor who studies the neuroscience of creativity, "Knows that fostering creativity often involves changing how you look at the world." Becoming a parent, or not, does that. Either way, your life is different than it was before whether you had the choice or not.
Absolutely being a mother influences my creativity, and admittedly, I criticize myself that perhaps my themes seem simple in comparison with those I read, but for now these are my droplets and the pools they become. So, Z & X, I want you to know as I watch your own inspiration come in fort improvisations or artistic representations, creativity, in whatever form, is nothing more than one's perspective frozen for others to observe, and they will always look into that icy globe from their own place. Don't let the world define you--fill your hands and pour them out again when they overflow, but don't forget to just keep some for yourself to hydrate the moments that mysterious universe has sent your way.
I'm struggling to let go of summer, of the days with nothing to do, the days with too much to do, and just the days full of possibilities. It's never long enough, and this year it seems a bit more poignantly concluded with both kids off to school. This was their last summer to be 6&4 or 5&3 or 4&2, and somehow next summer as 7&5 already seems different. To alter my thinking, I've decided to accept and embrace autumn and all it entails by creating our fall bucket list together. They are already excited to fill their jar with kindness to get to have these adventures!
Go to the fair (and eat something ridiculous)
Make Baked Potato Soup
Make Oatmeal Butterscotch Cookies
Make Lentil Chili and Cinnamon Rolls
Have an Apple Cider (+Fireball for mama and daddy) picnic
Have a costume photo shoot when the leaves turn
Jump in the leaves at Get's
Go to a football game
Go to a volleyball game
Pick the last of the garden goodies
Have a bonfire and roast marshmallows
Make cars from boxes and have a drive-in movie
Watch Harry Potter and The Sorcerer's Stone
Make popcorn balls
Take Great Grandpa's boat out fishing
Go to a pumpkin patch
Carve pumpkins at Cissy's
Start the fire at home on a rainy day, snuggle, and read together
Make stew and cornbread
Go Trick or Treating at Great Grandma and Grandpa's
Go to the lake and take a RZR ride
Go with Grandpa to take the boat out for the winter.
Go fishing with Papa and stay in the "living van"
Try to enjoy each moment as it comes before it goes
No doubt there will be this and more, but now we're all excited for the next season.
If we could learn every life lesson from books, I would have learned these much sooner. But, like most things, we have to learn them ourselves. These are for you Z & X, with the hope that you can learn some of them from me, but understand that I am still learning some of them, and some of them will just have to be learned the hard way. Forgive yourself your mistakes, let others make theirs, and learn from both.
1. People, like books, shouldn't be judged by their covers, and have multiple interpretations.
2. Spend time with people who make you think, and laugh.
3. Real friends are hard to come by; keep them once you find them.
4. True love takes hard work whether it is love at first sight or not.
5. Value and support are reciprocal.
6. Kindness is not the same as being nice.
7. You can only change yourself.
8. Our humanity is enough to respect one another.
9. Get out of the box you make for yourself.
10. Change is scary and painful, but from it comes something worthy of the hardship.
11. Being a parent means letting go, not holding on.
12. Grief changes the color of your heart; you get to choose which color.
13. Sometimes there are not words.
14. Being an adult isn't a noun, it's a verb; practice adulting only when necessary.
15. Your innocence is still there; look through it once in awhile.
16. If you make a mistake, fess up and accept the consequences.
17. Keeping your mistakes to yourself means accepting the guilt instead.
18. Be wary but don't judge.
19. With any privilege comes the challenge to recognize it and pass it on.
20. Keep secrets given to you and promises you make.
21. Ask if it's wanted before giving advice.
22. Use your body while you can to dance, to get outside, and to see the world.
23. Eat fruits and vegetables and grow them in your own spot of dirt.
24. Enjoy your treats.
25. Confidence is true beauty gained through accepting your unique self.
26. Although words can hurt, you can choose whether or not to believe them.
27. Anger and hate in the moment destroy possibility and love in the future.
28. Know the meaning of integrity and live with it.
29. Life is a complex balance of what to accept and what to let go.
30. Fails offer the best lessons even if they're the hardest to learn.
31. Real-life heroes never get the recognition they deserve, so thank them.
32. One of a group, does not represent all--read beyond the lines of the "single story."
33. Never hide from empathy either in giving or taking.
34. Sit still in solitude and do nothing.
35. Build your home of love and shenanigans not objects and expectations.
36. Be as considerate to those you live with as those you don't.
37. Live your passion to change the world for the better.
38. Know that you will never know it all--keep learning.
"If I am worth anything later, I am worth something now. For wheat is wheat even if people think it is a grass in the beginning." ~Vincent Van Gogh
There are a few aspects of identity I am intrinsically tied to and harvest is one of them. From the time I could drive, until before I had Z, I spent almost every summer in a grain truck. Sharing and passing on the task to DW who still takes his turn. Now, it's been six years since I have done that, and my heart hungers for it. Not the sweat and dirt of it, but the efficient engine of it--the whirling, cutting, shifting tick of it that makes it speed by like the years I haven't been a part of it.
The acreage we used to farm dwindles as my dad moves toward a hard-earned retirement, but I struggle to let it go. I didn't become a farmer, but I am one. I want my children to know the rhythm of the land, so we go for our day during harvest. They are quiet as they watch the swish of the header and woosh of the auger. They are in awe, and it is awesome. But, it is with a forward-facing nostalgia I watch the wheels turn knowing that forever isn't always and for them these are just fond memories while for me this is where I'll always be.
A farm girl, a lake girl, a nature girl raising sweet babies to be kind humans takes a lot of patience. Writing about the day-to-day brings the clarity it takes. This is that. Share your story if you can relate.
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