In the moments…

I had a conversation, earlier this week, about routines.

I used to be the queen of routine. My mornings went just so. My evenings and bed times went as they should have. I fell asleep to the same thing, every night. I had a prep day, every monday, where I diced and chopped, whipped and baked. My family ate well and all of the delectable and home-made things were at their disposal. I dabbled in sewing creatively. I wrote just under 30 hours a week. I took photos, thousands of them. I preserved engagement and family photos for clients and seldom felt overwhelmed or stressed.

I am not going to lie, there was a sense of security within those predictables. I knew what was coming and when, often how. Was I happy? Sure. How could an anal, organization freak not find happiness within the confines of such a life? That life, and those impressive time management skills feel about a dozen lifetimes ago.

When we moved back to Michigan, in 2013, my routines went out the window. I tried to reestablish them, but this was a lost cause. As a wife and mother, my world was known to gravitate around the lives of my husband and kids. With my son and older daughter so far away, with my approaching high school youngest being unpredictable and struggling, and a husband whose schedule (and geographical location) changed from day-to-day, I flailed…

Prep days, for example,  quickly became moldy bread (thanks, midwest humidity) and stale cookies, (thanks, crazy schedule.),diced vegetables became uneaten bags of smelly mush. Loneliness moved in. I missed my friends, I missed my sister. I missed my nieces and nephews, but more than that, I missed my life. My marriage, my family and the way we all functioned so well within the confines of those routines. My husband often refers to the big change (which became a big change in all of us, in negative ways) with regret for taking me away from my life. What he fails to see, no matter what explain, is that it wasn’t the place that made the life, but us and our intentions.

Four years later, I am in an entirely different frame of mind and approaching an all new stage of life. (Empty nest!) There has been a lot of storms and turmoil to navigate over these four years. It has been hard. No, that’s not true, hard doesn’t crack the surface.

I am different.

I am more free than that queen of routine. Chained and shackled, then, within the perimeters of a false sense of structure and security. Anyone familiar with routine is forced to come face to face, at some point, with how easy it is to hide (and often times, disappear completely) within them.

I lack routine now, and though I love my freedom, this is a struggle I am really avoiding confronting, and it is time to change this. Now I throw together the occasional minimal prep day, simply for my ease of mind as our rental kitchen is about the size of a shoebox. We no longer eat bread or cookies, so that saves the future science project scene. I do have a fairly consistent skin care routine, so at least all hope is not lost. The personal, quiet time, though… And the writing… and the adventures in life through the lens of a camera… and the reading, even the picking up of a book… These are the areas I struggle. The solace in a cup of tea is something I’ve gravitated towards, recently. Piece by piece I am emerging from a four-year cocoon into the sunlight of a life that has possibility.

Now I simply need to learn to design the routine around where I am, who I am and what I need- and not anyone else. I ache for a life of beautiful, hand crafted moments. Today’s new routine attempt is to remember that I am the one in charge of creating those.


My red dot…

Today has already held a beautiful morning walk, two cups of rich, hazelnut coffee and a good chunk of time playing with the dogs, in the grass, while soaking in some sun. Emma found a baby turtle, which my daughter and husband are fighting tooth and nail to keep and raise as our own. (meanwhile, I am advocating to return him to his natural life)

Outside was fresh and spring-like, blossoms blowing in the breeze, swirling about us. Puppy paws and denim bottoms are slightly grass stained in that glorious way. Inside, green furry feet nap while sounds of Bach swirl about, in the air. Gen is attending a class online and I am stepping through the tasks and minutes, striving to pause and ground myself in gratitude. This isn’t always easy.

Sometimes paychecks seem smaller than we’d like, but I have to remind myself that they are exactly what we need.

Sometimes disrespect is hurled at us and we have to remember, amidst our frustration and exhaustion that there are mothers who have lost their children and this moment is but a blip on the timeline of a life.

Sometimes the puppy has an accident in the house. Sometimes you get sick and you’re exhausted and feel entirely alone. While all of these things are real, and valid, and current in this house, these are not ALL times, but sometimes. The true value is in the perspective.

Sometimes your husband buys you a bunch of flowers, with his last few dollars, because he knows you love them. Eventually they sit, sad looking, but still feet away from wherever you are because, if you are like me, they bring you such joy.  Life is made of the sometimes, both the bad ones and the good.

Life today is thin, grey curtains blowing in the breeze, the air filled with cello sounds and clean, spring smells. Today is the kettle boiling, soon to become a pot of tea. Today is as peaceful and poignant as I choose to make it, and whatever happens, I choose to make it real…

I am here.