The Casual Beauty of Everyday Life

I’m sitting at my desk, staring at a blank document (is there anything more thrilling/terrifying to a writer than that blinking cursor and that vast white plain of possibility that follows?). Took is tucked into the cupboard under my desk a la Harry Potter (her favorite snuggle place) watching a show about adventure and friendship on her iPad.

And I have so many things I want to say.

I could tell you about my life. Took has enough hijinx in a single day to fill a book and then some. I have hobbies (gardening, reading, art) and pets (ShaferHaus a zoo!) and thoughts (they tangle up with each other like colorful, vibrant spools of yarn) and feelings (so. many. feelings). And even though all that has been done a thousand times before, nobody has done it or thought it just like me (or just like you, for that matter).

I could tell you about my work. I could tell you that the hiatus from book-writing has been hard, but so worth it to spend quality time with Took during her last year at home. I could tell you that I struggle to find things to blog about, but that the process of forcing myself to put words on a page is satisfying and worthy. I could tell you that I secretly worry that I’m putting my small band of readers to sleep, but that I console myself that everybody needs a nap every now and then, so even if that’s the case, I’m still doing some good.

I could tell you about my hopes and dreams—and they are so much like yours. I hope for more money in the bank account than we need. I hope for relevance in my work. I hope to keep healthy. I hope for a tight-knit family with kids that grow up to be contributing members of society. I hope for family vacations, and late nights spent laughing with each other. I hope for love that endures a lifetime.

I could tell you about the weather. It’s windy out (it’s Kansas, so it’s always windy), and warm. Spring is here. The squirrels are getting ready for their babies, and my garden is being prepped to plant. Everything smells different–like the natural world is waking up from a long, refreshing sleep.

I could tell you all this, but you already know it in your life, in your own personal way.

There’s nothing new under the sun, and that is so comforting. Our desires (though the nuances may be as different as a speck of dust is from a boulder) are all so similar, are all made up of the same stuff. We want security. We want love. We want freedom and laughter. We want significance.

And that is so grand—that the casual beauty of my everyday life, my ups and downs and laughter and tears and victories and fears harmonize with yours. And that together, all of humanity is participating in this great chorus of life by simply existing and desiring a life that is good.

We are meant for good. To be good and to have good and to live good and love good.

Go forth, friends, and do good today.

teal

Nail Biting and Banana Shopping

I bite my nails.

I don’t just bite my nails. I chew on my cuticles. I gnaw on the callous on the middle finger of my right hand. A callous earned by hours and hours spent with a pen in hand, trying to get the words out.

That callous is like my lucky stone. I rub it when I am nervous. I rub it when I am excited. I rub it while I am thinking.

That callous belongs to the finger I broke in the seventh grade. We were learning self-defense in gym class and the girl I was paired with flipped me over her back. The finger broke at the knuckle and still has a funny angle to the right. Every now and then it aches.

That finger belongs to my right hand. My dominant hand. For a time, while that finger was healing, my left hand became my dominant hand. I learned how to write with it (if not prettily, at least legibly). I practiced piano with it. I learned there was something to ambidextrous repetition thanks to that injury, and incorporated it into the next few years of intensive striving to improve at my instrument. But eventually the right middle finger healed and I quit writing with my left hand. I can barely scrawl my name with it now.

My right hand belongs to my right arm. The arm I carried my babies in. The arm I use to haul the laundry basket upstairs. The arm I curl under my pillow at night.

That arm belongs to my right shoulder. A shoulder that carries half the weight of my breasts. A shoulder that in public is thrown back in proud, confident posture. A shoulder that, right now as I write, is slumped in uncertainty. The task of writing does that to me—it burdens me, makes me question my convictions, my abilities, my worthiness. But the after-glow of having written and shared is freeing. When my words are sent into the ether of the world wide web and I don’t die from whatever criticism they might garner (or bloat up from occasional praise), it’s freeing. Because that’s what happens when you’re brave—even if it is just in small ways. It frees you from the invisible doubts and fears and worries that act like chains in your life. One small act of courage might not free a person from all their chains, but it’s a start that gives one the strength to try again.

And so, today,

after I’ve shut off my computer,

and strode confidently through the grocery (I need bananas),

and curled my arm under my pillow,

I will sleep.

And then, tomorrow,

I will sit here in my black chair,

and I will look at words as they appear on the screen,

and I will bite my nails.

teal

Texting Teenager

It’s been quiet around here, my blogging home. I’m knee-deep in my year off from writing, chilling out with my youngest as we enjoy her last year at home before she starts school. It’s good. Hard, at times, to see my writing space and miss my lovely lifestyle of make-believe (although I do get make-believe time of another sort with my mini-me), but God–what a blessing to be able to do this! To take a full year and invest it in this little lovely Took.

It’s good. Raising kids is good. Loving them is good. Laughing with (sometimes at) them is good. Teenagers are even good, contrary to the common opinion. Check out this text exchange I had with my oldest kid a couple days ago:

texting-with-liam

Kids, right? Mine are the best (yours probably are, too, if you have ’em).

I hope you’re feeling full of love and light this holiday season. Thanks for checking in.

As always, loads of love,

teal