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Is There a Word for This?

This winter and spring I have been busy making archival family photo yearbooks from 2018 through 2021, and I am just about done proofing them and getting them printed, a feat! And, as a result, I have been revisiting these past years and memories via viewing many photographs. There has been so much change in a relatively short amount of time. This exercise has made it very clear that as you watch your child grow, those past versions of him/her fade away, and that brings a certain heartbreak, I feel. It does not quite feel like nostalgia, but something else, but I am not quite sure of the word to describe this feeling. While we are so fortunate that our little girl is growing up and developing well, each year passing is both a gift and a theft. So we must truly enjoy each day, take nothing for granted, and truly be present in our lives, as the moments are all so fleeting. A few images of our girls together, over the years, are shown below.

The Empty Bucket

I love this passage from Elizabeth Gilbert’s book entitled, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear. It really boils down to feeling your fear and anxiety, while creating your work, and moving forward, anyway. These words really resonated with me.

“Over the years of devotional work, though, I found that if I just stayed with the process and didn’t panic, I could pass safely through each stage of anxiety and on to the next level. I heartened myself with reminders that these fears were completely natural human reactions to interaction with the unknown. If I could convince myself that I was supposed to be there–that we are meant to engage with inspiration and that inspiration wants to work with us–then I could usually get through my emotional minefield without blowing myself up before the project was finished.

At such times, I could almost hear creativity talking to me while I spun off into fear and doubt.

Stay with me, it would say. Come back to me. Trust me.

I decided to trust it.

My single greatest expression of stubborn gladness has been the endurance of that trust.

A particularly elegant commentary on this instinct came from the Nobel laureate Seamus Heaney, who said that–when one is learning how to write poetry–one should not expect it to be immediately good. The aspiring poet is constantly lowering a bucket only halfway down a well, coming up time and again with nothing but empty air. The frustration is immense. But you must keep doing it, anyway.

After many years of practice, Heaney explained, ‘the chain draws unexpectedly tight and you have dipped into waters that will continue to entice you back. You’ll have broken the skin on the pool of yourself.'”

A Silver Lining of the Pandemic

How are you doing these days? The news is heavy.  Reports from Ukraine are horrifying, and the pandemic rages on, while so many people are suffering in this world.

The pandemic has definitely had it challenges, and it has especially had a toll and great impact on parents and children. Despite all of the challenges, I have been fortunate to be able to spend more time with our rescue sheltie, Victory! Victory and I have spent the most time together out of everyone in our little family over these past two plus years, and it has truly been a gift. I never take the time we have with Victory for granted, and it has been so wonderful to have her with me, each day, sitting under my desk while I work, a trusted companion, who is always on the look out for treats. I always look forward to our cuddles during the day! It has also been helpful to be able to walk her and take her potty as many times as she needs, without relying on a neighbor or dog walker, especially since she is prone to urinary tract infections (UTIs). And, since the weather is finally feeling spring like and it is now officially spring, thank goodness, I have been able to take her for rides in her Hound About, and it has been great, she loves it, and I love seeing her big smile!

Being home more, due to the pandemic, I have certainly had my share of cabin fever, especially during the cold winter months, so we are sure to get Victory out and about as much as we can, which she loves! I will always cherish this special time time together. And, as a byproduct of the pandemic, our fur girl, has come out of her shell even more in her senior years, which has been wonderful to witness. Victory has been more flexible, even letting Alex taker her on walks; and Victory is now jumping into Alex’s big girl bed at night for story time, while Doug reads his girls Curious George books! She literally has found her ‘inner-puppy’ later in life! I am so grateful for our beloved and precious fur girl!

Inspiring Kids to Play on Their Own

I have read many articles that say that boredom is good for kids. And I agree — being constantly entertained is not realistic or even fun. When Alex has time on her own, she often falls into a zone that is happy and engaged. But sometimes she still cannot quite get there and seem restless and ends up saying, “Mommy, can I have your phone to watch a song?” or “I’m super hungry.” So, I was grateful to learn this tip…

I always figured that the experts who recommended boredom just let their children loose in their homes and said, “Goodbye and good luck,” and trusted they would find something to play with. Maybe so? But Alex sometimes needs a little help getting started.

Then, recently, I read this article about how to help little ones “enjoy pottering.” I was most interested in how the author suggested putting basic materials around the home to help inspire imaginative play.

Parents do have a role… children need the adults around them to understand that creating their own pastimes requires space, time and the possibility of making a mess (within limits – and to be cleared up afterwards by the children themselves).

They will need some materials too, but these need not be sophisticated – simple things are often more versatile. We’ve all heard of the toddler ignoring the expensive present and playing with the box it came in instead. For older children, a magnifying glass, some planks of wood, a basket of wool, and so on, might be the start of many happily occupied hours…

If a child has run out of ideas, giving them some kind of challenge can prompt them to continue to amuse themselves imaginatively. This could range from asking them to find out what kind of food their toy dinosaurs enjoy in the garden to going off and creating a picture story with some friends and a digital camera.

Nowadays, at home, we try to help Alex by having just a few simple imaginative toys out and visible along with some (washable) art supplies. Alex loves playing vet and dress up! Most all of her patients either have a fever or a broken bone, and she does a good job treating her patients. And, Alex loves making her art, and she usually sings a song while she makes her art, which we proudly display in our home! And she has recently been decorating envelopes and cards to send out, which are decorated with her stamps, stickers, and coloring, and people love getting them in the mail!

What imaginative toys/materials do you like? Legos and Magna-Tiles are a hot ticket in our house these days.

Taking Vows

I really love this passage from Elizabeth Gilbert’s book entitled, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear. The essence of her words encompass doing the work you love regardless of any outcome. Her words, shown below, really resonated with me, and perhaps her words will positively impact you, too.

“When I was about sixteen years old, I took vows to become a writer.

I mean, I literally took vows — the way a young woman of an entirely different nature might take vows to become a nun. Of course, I had to invent my own ceremony around these vows, because there is no official holy Sacrament for a teenager who longs to become a writer, but I used my imagination and my passion and I made it happen. I retreated to my bedroom one night and turned off all the lights. I lit a candle, got down on my honest-to-God knees, and swore my fidelity to writing for the rest of my natural life.

My vows were strangely specific and, I would still argue, pretty realistic. I didn’t make a promise that I would be a successful writer, because I sensed that success was not under my control. Nor did I promise that I would be a great writer, because I didn’t know if I could be great. Nor did I give myself any time limits for the work, like, ‘If I’m not published by the time I’m thirty, I’ll give upon this dream and go find another line of work.’ In fact, I didn’t put any conditions or restrictions on my path at all. My deadline was: never.

Instead, I simply vowed to the universe that I would write forever, regardless of the result. I promised that I would try to be brave about it, and grateful, and as uncomplaining as I could possibly be. I also promised that I would try to be brave about it, and grateful, and as uncomplaining as I could possibly be. I also promised that I would never ask writing to take care of me financially, but that I would always take care of it — meaning that I would always support us both, by any means necessary. I did not ask for any external rewards for devotion; I just wanted to spend my life as near to writing as possible — forever close to that source of all my curiosity and contentment — and so I was willing to make whatever arrangements needed to be made in order to get by.”

Viral Comic About Parenting Double Standards

Graphic designer and mother-of-two Mary Catherine Starr recently posted a comic on Instagram about how differently society views moms versus dads. It went viral and it has been translated into more than 15 languages. The full comic is below…and I am sure many can relate to the this comic, which is so telling!

Image credit: Mary Catherine Starr.

Loving: Winter 2022

Happy Winter!

1. Maid — We finished this series, recently, which was based upon a true story. It was intense to watch, but it was very well done and interesting, and it follows the arc of the hero’s journey.

2. The Lost Daughter — We watched this film recently, and it was well done. Maggie Gyllenhall is the writer and director of this film, pertaining to how events past and present shape our souls and force us to confront our shadow.

3. Bocce’s Crispies Dog Treats — These are some new dog treats we tried with Victory, and she absolutely loves them, they are similar to crispy training treats!

4. Patagonia Jacket Alex loves her winter jacket! It is well-made and keeps her very warm, which is important!

5. Osmo — Alex got an Osmo for Christmas, and she loves it! She loves making creative pieces of art, along with her letters!

6. Vivian Maier, Developed — I recently purchased this book over the Holidays, and it is such a great read. Vivian’s Maier’s work was discovered in a very fascinating way several years ago. Her work has subsequently been acquired by and shown in museums. Very little was known about her at the time her work was discovered; however, Ann Marks does a wonderful job sharing Vivian’s story, in conjunction with her work. I learned a lot about this photographer, and it was inspiring to read as well.

You can view other things I love here!

Happy Heart Day!

We celebrated Valentine’s Day a little early, this weekend with Alex and Victory! They are quite the pair! I am so grateful for our little family.

Happy Heart Day!  I hope you have a great day celebrating with the ones you love.

“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched — they must be felt with the heart.” — Helen Keller

Persistence

I love this passage from Elizabeth Gilbert’s book entitled, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear. It really boils down to how one handles herself during a creative endeavor where there is always much uncertainty, while simultaneously there is great possibility. These words really resonated with me.

“Back in my early twenties, I had a good friend who was an aspiring writer, just like me. I remember how he used to descend into dark funks of depression about his lack of success, about his inability to get published. He would sulk and rage.

‘I don’t just want to be sitting around,’ he would moan. ‘I want this to all add up to something. I want this to become my job!’

Even back then, I thought there was something off about his attitude.

Mind you, I wasn’t being published, either, and I was hungry, too. I would’ve loved to have all the same stuff he wanted — success, reward, affirmation. I was no stranger to disappointment and frustration. But I remember thinking that learning how to endure your disappointment and frustration is part of the job of a creative person. If you want to be an artist of any sort, it seemed to me, then handling your frustration is a fundamental aspect of the work — perhaps the single most fundamental aspect of the work. Frustration is not an interruption of your process; frustration is the process. The fun part (the part where it doesn’t feel like work at all) is when you’re actually creating something wonderful, and everything’s going great, and everyone loves it, and you’re flying high. But such instances are rare. You don’t just get to leap from bright moment to bright moment. How you manage yourself between those bright moments, when things aren’t going so great, is a measure of how devoted you are to your vocation, and how equipped you are for the weird demands of creative living. Holding yourself together though all the phases of creation is where the real work lies.”

Ten Year Blogiversary!

Today is the ten-year Blogiversary of the blog!  I can’t hardly believe it! It is extremely difficult to believe that ten years, a full decade, has already passed by so quickly!  The time moves so quickly, these days, and I often wonder where the time goes? Many things have changed, but some things remain the same, fortunately.  I am grateful for this little space here.

If it were not for our beloved Biscuit, I am not sure I would have ever started blogging and I know that I would not have started my long-term photography project, for which Biscuit and Victory are my inspiration.  Biscuit was such a blessing and gift to us.  Biscuit permanently changed our lives in so many positive ways and he sent us our precious little rescue sheltie, Victory, who we adore and love, shown below!  We have savored our time together with Victory during the pandemic. And, coincidentally, Victory is the same age (we suspect as she is a rescue dog) as the blog!

Thank you for reading this blog for however long or short you have been visiting!  I truly enjoy creating content for the blog to share with all of you, and I hope that you continue to enjoy visiting and reading the blog!

Thank you so very much!