Weekend Breadcrumbs

Posted on April 10, 2015

Rumor has it the weekend is supposed to be glorious and you may rush to be out in the fresh air, but in the even that April gives a capricious wink and conjures up winds and rains, you can tuck into your coziest spot, with a well-loved blanket and mug of whatever flips your switch, and ingest these gorgeous words.

AprilMusings

Gratitude and awareness of blessings is a hard thing to teach, particularly when I still struggle with it myself. I love this essay from Rudri Bhatt Patel, which demonstrates so beautifully how we should never deny our kids an experience because we think it might be beyond their ability to comprehend. I want to follow her lead and do this.

Let me know what you think.

 

This exquisite choreography of emotion and language is from a new-to-me-voice, Jena Schwartz. I can only say go, read it, inhale it, feel the truth envelope you.

 

I think a lot of raising daughters. I have no idea what I’d do with boys. I am so grateful to women like Kim Simon, who are honestly and deliberately raising their sons to know love and respect the big, amazing thing that sex can be. She also deftly addresses responsibility for both partners and parents. I am just in awe of this and really hope that I can do as well with my three.

 

I discovered this next one from Kelly Hoey, a person I follow on professional level for her insight and confidence related to building connections and moving toward goals. The post is about millennial women needing to speak up for themselves. Millennial is a word that gets a lot of my play in my industry, but it has become more real as I have worked with millennials. They are people and, though they aren’t yet as experienced or worldly as we are, their views are every bit as important. I am grateful for Kate’s. When Kelly linked to this post I immediately hoped that it would be received by the women it’s meant for as a gesture of reaching out a hand and saying, “You are important and I want to hear more of what you have to say.”

 

Speaking of women, of all ages, I wrote this post over on Medium to work through some of the feelings I am having of the cyclical waves of fights between women that are sparked by campaigns and headlines. It’s rarely women who pick these fights. I do believe that ultimately we all just want to be happy and even have a genuine hope for others being happy too. I don’t mean to attack companies, I simply want to try and generate the waves we need to attack divisiveness and that there is only so much of a thing—that only certain people can be happy or sexy, that only ________ is real or healthy or sexy.

 

Have you read something amazing? Will you share it in the comments? I am always on the hunt for new writers.

 

April’s Power is Unpredictability

Posted on April 9, 2015

It has been a winter. The freezing temperatures, the pervasiveness of national and global tragedies, and the relentlessness of trying to stay positive. Yesterday I drove my sister to the airport. She had joked during her visit that she brought the sun. She wasn’t wrong, it was gorgeous during her stay. We walked together nearly every day and the trips to the playground with the girls were epic.

Play ground Fun!

 

SunAb

 

Then, after I headed back north, it began to snow—she’d taken the nice weather with her, it wold seem. I was incredulous. Ave was quiet beside me, engrossed in a game of Minecraft. I watched the flakes fall, some easily as big as half dollars. I drove twenty miles through the flurries and then they disappeared as if I’d driven through a tunnel. Later that day I ran to the grocery store and on my way home it snowed again.

 

Snow

 

I couldn’t help laughing as the flakes hit my face so hard they were almost audible. I marveled at how much it had shifted since that morning when we’d been trekking up the mountain just after dawn. I didn’t get mad, not because I am more calm or accepting than anyone else, but because April reminds me of myself.

Hike

 

April is supposed to be the start of spring; winter is behind us and it isn’t unreasonable to pull out the warmer clothing boxes that we stored so many months ago. Here I am, a few months shy of 42. I have a daughter with whom I am more and more frequently discussing menstruation and mood swings and a face that stares back at me in the mirror that is a medley of who I was and who I am becoming.

I carry a grudge and I let things go. I aspire for great things and make peace with certain inevitability. I belt along to some pop songs and others make me fear for our society.

I don’t want to be a clear summer day or a snowy winter morning, I want to live inside the wilds of April, one minute a whoosh of hope and possibility, the next a clash that reminds you how little we all are.

I should think that the month of April behaving would be a very sad thing indeed. She is the month that reminds us that we live within a crucible of easy and hard, and that in weathering the contradiction we discover the irresistible, smooth waves that can only come from extremes.

I am as excited as the next person about the days when the sun’s kiss is so potent it chases us to shade, but I’m ok with a few more trips to the garage for firewood and a few more turns in the night sidled up close to Sean to draw warmth from his body.

It’s April and what happens next is anyone’s guess.

 

What I Learned From a Bag of Pizza Dough

Posted on April 3, 2015

Sometimes we make pizza for dinner. I don’t go so far as to make the dough, because I think, from my very non-baker vantage, that would require a level of skill far beyond what I currently have. Instead I buy these cute little bags of dough that are sold next to the refrigerated humus, salsa, and noodles at the grocery store. It is a part of my ever evolving internal battle with wholesome vs manageable and quality vs enjoyment.

 

The dough comes in garlic, basil, wheat, and white. I’ve tried them all and the girls and Sean prefer the white, rather than thinking wheat is healthier or more virtuous, I snag the white thinking, “They will enjoy this.” I keep the bags in the freezer, usually taking two out per dinner. Sean and I like arugula and a bit of spicy heat, the girls tend to stick to broccoli, cheese, and a bit of ham or chicken.

 

I usually take the bags out around the time I come home to meet the buses, which is to say, not nearly soon enough. I plunge them in pots of hot or cold water, set them in swaths of sunlight or place them on the stove next to a warm kettle. My thinking being that I can accelerate the time it takes them to thaw. Nope.

 

The dough does soften, sometimes it even thaws completely, but what it never does is achieve the supple, pliable state that it needs to spread out on the pan and cook evenly. Inevitably there are very chewy parts, super thin, brittle areas in the crust, and spots where it is undercooked or overcooked. It gets eaten, enjoyed even, but it isn’t as easy as I’d like.

 

The other day I took the dough out in the morning and forgot about it. When it came time to make dinner the girls passed on helping me roll out the dough. It might have been the movie they were watching, more likely it was that the last time we made pizza it was messy, sticky, the dough wouldn’t cooperate, and I was snappish that made them decline to help.

 

I shrugged and let them watch their movie. I took the dough from the plastic and got ready to tug and pull to make it stretch over the pan. As I lifted the dough I felt it extend with no threat of breaking. It was like a morning stretch, long and slow, that eases you into the day and gently gets rid of aches or kinks.

Pizza Dough

I turned it in my hands once and then laid it on the sheet. The dough spanned the entire length and width of the pan. It was even and light, the sauce spilling across it evenly. As I sprinkled cheese and arugula, I marveled at how there were no bumps and the dough didn’t slingshot back toward the middle in a misshapen mess.

 

I kneeled at the oven, my hand on the door handle, head resting on my arm. I watched it bake evenly, the cheese melting and bubbling. Instead of pooling in deep pockets, it spread in a uniform layer. The arugula leaves curled and I removed it from the oven.

 

The knife moved through the crust with ease. I dished two pieces per plate and sliced cucumbers to arrange on the side. I gave each girl a plate and paper towel and let them eat in front of the movie.

 

I sat on the counter in the kitchen watching them. They were silent, happily munching away on the pizza. The pieces didn’t fall apart in their hands and they ate the crust.

 

It got me thinking how the simple addition of time made everything easier. No fancy ingredients, no extraordinary measures, just a little bit of time. I know this applies to more than just pizza dough. It’s doing my hair, folding laundry, getting to school, bedtime. Everything just needs a little more breathing room.

 

I realize that time is in short supply, but maybe one thing goes away and frees up twenty minutes, to make five other things incredible. Give up the ghost of whole wheat and frizz free hair, and embrace the sweet bite of plain white dough and a low pony tail.

 

Oversimplifying too much? Or maybe that’s everything, simplifying.

 

Wishing you a weekend with extra moments that allow your dough and spirit to rise.

LakeGoergeNorth

 

 

Yes, you. Always you.

Posted on March 28, 2015

Sometimes it surprises me to realize that we have started traditions, little things that “we always do,” the girls and I. One of my favorites is to smile at the girls until we laugh, in my head my smile is communicating how much I love them, that it is literally spilling out of me in the form of a smile. I don’t know if that’s what they feel now, I hope that they do one day.

 

I posted a picture of Finley on Instagram the other day. It was taken a few years ago as we watched big, puffy snowflakes fall outside the cabin we’d rented in Lake Placid. She was entranced, smiling and making faces at the dancing snow. I couldn’t look away.

 

IMG_9456

 

That’s been a bit of a theme in motherhood for me. Not to say that I don’t do other things, I go to work, hit the gym, spend time writing, but there is a watching them that I do that is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. It feels selfish and selfless at the same time; understanding I would lay down my life for them, but also wanting to devour and possess every moment I can with them. I am torn between wanting to be inside of their circle and wanting to stand guard outside of it.

Morning

 

Yesterday we were headed for a retreat in Brant Lake, but on the way to school Finley got sick. We weren’t sure what to do—cancel the trip or take her with us. She blinked with glassy eyes and pale skin, “Please bring me with you. I can do it.”

 

We listened to her and I climbed in the backseat with her. We held hands and rubbed shoulders. I kissed her forehead and showered her with “You oks?” She would nod each time, then, as the day wore on, she perked up and scampered around the lake house.

 

I found myself watching her, a weight against my chest at how fragile everything is—our plans, our lives, the ability to fix or forecast. All we can do is move to the rhythm of the days.

 

Brim

 

 

Today I was thanking her for being Finley. “Thank you for being Finley? What does that mean?” She asked laughing.

 

“It means that you are so exactly yourself that you make me smile until I laugh and love until I pop.”

 

“You pop? And smiling at me can make you laugh?” her eyes danced.

 

“Well, it’s not you that makes me laugh, it’s the feelings inside of me. You too.”

 

“Me too what?” she asked expectantly.

 

“You too laughing,” I said.

 

“Show me.”

 

I did. We laughed and loved and popped from the feeling of being us.

 

 

 

Squeeze

 

Go smile at someone ’til you pop, or allow yourself to be smiled at in that way.

%d bloggers like this: