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Saturday, June 30, 2012

Currently


Loving: The summer. It is abnormally hot right now, but I love this time of year regardless. Also, loving big cuddly Jasper dog. He is such a normal and sweet canine. For instance, when he is scared he comes to me to cuddle, when I am crying or he can tell I am sad he comes to me to provide comfort. I really love this dog.

Reading: So many things. Just finished The Leftovers (Interesting and well written, but just hard for me to get into for some reason, I Smile Back (eh, take it or leave it), Overexposed (this was a fun and light read, great for relaxed summer reading). Just started Imperfect Birds last night and am so thrilled. Anne Lamott is my favorite author as I can really connect with her style and can easily become absorbed in her writing. I casually glanced around the "L" section in the library last week and saw this title I hadn't yet read and was pleasantly surprised to find familiar characters inside. If you are an avid reader I'm sure you understand what a treat that can be.

Watching: Last night E and I watched Running the Sahara and I would highly recommend it to everybody. The film follows three men who decide to come together to do a through-run of the Sahara, running the equivalent of a couple marathons a day for over 100 days straight, in the desert. Inspiration can definitely be found in this film and the ability to see small glimpses of a different culture is also a nice treat.

Anticipating: E's finishing laying the new wood floor in baby girls room as we speak. I'm anticipating it's completion so we can begin decorating, placing her things in their places and generally begin preparing even more for her arrival. 

Listening to: Lots and lots of nailing and air compressor churning as E nails the floor. 

Planning: A new schedule for myself that involves plenty of writing, drawing, crafting, photographing and home preparing. 

Working on: My creative pursuits. I am lucky to have a bit of time to myself before baby girl comes along and I want to take advantage of this time to tap back into the things that I love and that I feel are most important to me. 

Wishing: For a big ol' pot of gold, but more seriously that everything continues to go smooth with my pregnancy and we are able to have the birth we desire when the time comes. 

Sara

Inspired by Danielle.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Letting Go and Loving Me?


I have been trying to spend a little time each day with my personal journal and a little book that is good for those of us who need a bit of help battling our demons. That little yellow book sounds a little hokey to many, of that I am sure, but it has helped me put pen to paper many times, releasing things that are troubling my soul. While this kind of work is therapeutic and necessary on many a level it can also leave a gal feeling drained. Drudging up the past and putting it down in ink is one of the hardest things I make myself do. I cannot deny how immensely helpful this practice is and while I know I will continue, it can also leave me feeling pretty down. After an especially hard session I knew some counter-combat was in order, in the form of a list titled, "What do I love about me?", which reads as follows:

  • I love that I am creative.
  • I love that I have compassion for people and animals alike.
  • I love that I have allowed myself to love.
  • I love my dimples.
  • I love that I spent many childhood moments in the country and how it shaped me.
  • I love my interests in nature, simplicity, and things with a story and history.
  • I love my ability to connect with young children.
  • I love my decorating and aesthetic sense.
  • I love that I am allowing myself to become a mother and fulfilling that dream.
  • I love that I have put in hard work to get where I am over the past six or so years.

Writing that list was hard for me, but it did the trick of turning my mood around a bit and getting me focused on the positive. I hope one day to not have to dig so deeply when making such a list and to be able to rattle off a list ten times this size in a tenth of the time, but this is a start, and it feels good. I encourage you to do the same if you need to shift your mood and if you share it please do let me know. Otherwise, if you don't mind saying, what is one thing you love about you?

Sara

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Trying Not to Worry and Failing


My sister used to have a t-shirt, well, she had lots of t-shirts, but this particular one was from a trip to Disney World with our Dad, which I later came to think of as his last hooray with us before going away for a spell. The shirt had a character, I'm pretty sure it was Eeyore, and read, "Why worry? If you've done the very best you can, worrying won't make it any better". As a nine year old who already worried more than most forty year olds, well, that shirt struck a chord with me. I would borrow it any chance I got, but mostly I would just think about it and hope the constant repetition of that single quote would somehow help me to stop worrying, stop trying to fix things, and allow me to begin realizing it was all beyond my control.

Well, there's that word, control. The constant struggle for a sense of control is what has brought me down the curviest of roads I have traveled. Control and worry have been constant companions. While I logically know that over-thinking an interaction, a phrase uttered, or an action taken will not alter how things went down or change things for the better, it sure is a fine one to busy my mind with that old wrinkly pal named Worry. And control? Well, counting calories, creating strict schedules, having never-ending to-do lists, those things won't really give me any control where I really wish for it, but they have definitely stepped in as distractions at different points along the way. 

So why talk about worry now? Why focus on something that has already stolen so much of my brain space and caused me to waste away my days? Why? Because it's back that worry and I don't believe it has ever really gone away. I cling to these quotes and phrases, like the one in the shared image, "Worrying will never change the outcome" and I know they are true, but with a baby due in a matter of months, no job in my clutches, and new bills coming in from insurance and student loans, well, how can one not worry? I became a worrier by necessity, as a mode of survival, and when things get tough I can't help but backtrack. Do I know that it will all work out and that we will do what we need to do to make things okay? Yes, but after a lifetime of struggle I can't help but to worry. The only difference now is that I do have some control. For once, I can help direct the outcome if I can only find a way. So, what do I do now? I make phone calls where phone calls are needed. I cut corners or take short-cuts where I can find them in order to whittle our expenses. I focus on the things I love and hope for some answers as to how they can help us. 

This is not all to say that we are in trouble or a cry of desperation in hopes that an answer will magically appear. It is just to say that worry is not such an easy friend to break-up with and that sometimes things get harder before they get better. And the hardness isn't so much financial. Yes, things are a little too tight to fit into the mold we currently possess, but like I said, I know we will figure it out. The hardness more comes in the pressures I put on myself. Being home with endless hours before me and without a baby yet to care for, well, that may be many people's dream come true, but for me, for right now, it's hard. Wanting to contribute more and being unable has taken a blow to my self-worth. My partner in crime is nothing but supportive, but I can't help but hear those voices echoing from my past, causing me to feel like a failure. For a gal like me all of these open hours only leaves room for an idle brain that when idle begins to dig up the less pleasant of memories and thoughts and invites those old ghosts back to play. Without much interests in being a host for these ghosts, the only thing I can do is place them into stories and trap them down on paper, hoping those actions will give me some control and perhaps a bit more perspective on where to go from here.

Sara

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Just Be: Learning to Enjoy Myself Again


Last week I shared this picture of Leroy on Facebook with a caption saying something like, "Leroy reminds me to not take life too seriously". While the truth is that the moment I saw the picture I'd captured of this silly little guy I couldn't help but laugh and let loose, the other truth is that I have a terribly hard time doing so. Without even realizing it I find myself tight wound and hardened and then a picture like this comes along and makes me realize just how hardened I have really become. I relish in the idea of living life in a laid back way, of doing what makes me happy and not worrying about how that fits in to the rest of the world, of not worrying so much about every little thing, yet I often live a life far from what I imagine for myself. A lifetime of never measuring up has made me hard, has made me close myself off to the joy that surrounds me. From a young age I became a perfectionist, meaning not that I was ever perfect or even claimed to be, but that I was always unable to let myself go and not worry about doing things just right or making the right decisions, this inability to ever really be perfect often crippling me and keeping me from trying at all while other times just confirming to myself my lack of worth when I would try and then fail. And really the hard-to-swallow truth of the matter is that it didn't matter one way or another whether I failed or was top of my class, it wouldn't bring my father back, wouldn't keep my step-father from devaluing me, wouldn't make my mother truly happy. No matter how hard I tried it would never make things normal or create the stability, comfort, and happy family that I craved. All this perfectionism would do was keep me busy, give me a reason for feeling worthless when I failed, and make me strive even harder when I succeeded. I often wonder where I could have gone or what I could have become if I were ever nurtured in the way I needed. We were all fighting our own demons and I will never point any fingers, for we were all getting by and making it through the only ways we knew how, but I still can't help but wonder. Had someone taken real interest in my artwork or my stories would I have believed in myself enough to make something of them? Had I realized that flag corps, track, softball, that none of them would make anyone love me any more would I have continued to do them? None of my questions have answers, for things have happened and time has passed and there is no real way to know what could have been, but I do know one thing, I do know that I no longer have to treat myself the way I have learned to. While I love and nurture others without much struggle, finding love in my heart for myself is something that takes time, something I have been working on for years and work that will continue in those to come. I need to realize that who I am is enough. What I am doing with my life and how I am doing it is enough. Yes, it is okay to want to change and to want to continue to evolve and grow, but who I am today is beautiful and wonderful as is. Those are hard words to type because I don't always believe it, but I am trying and myself is not someone I will ever give up on again. I need to relieve myself of the pressures I have placed on myself, the pressures of needing to do more, do better, do perfectly and to dive in. Stop not doing things for fear they won't be good enough, but rather, start doing them and see what can happen and what I am capable of. I must realize that life is different now. I am an adult and am creating a family of my own. My actions don't need to move mountains or change any lives other than my own. What I do with my days doesn't need to have value to anyone but me, my husband, and our children-to-be. No, sorting yarn and paper all day may not bring my dad back, but it will make me feel accomplished and organized. Crafting a quilt won't make up for years of devaluing or erase the pain, but it will give me satisfaction each time I see it wrapped around my baby girl. I'm realizing more and more how imperative it is that I choose happiness, that I don't worry about how my story works into the stories of others, but focus more on doing whatever will bring life back to my face and lighten the load from my soul. Each stitch, drawing, or project I complete may not put my family back together, but they will move me ever closer to creating the family of my future, one with a mom who is truly happy, for that is all I really need.

Sara

linking up with just write

Monday, June 25, 2012

Wedding Details: Our Vows

For our ceremony we wanted something that reflected who myself and E are individually, to each other, and as a partnership. We had one of my long-time friends officiate the ceremony and worked with her to create something that would be personal, non-religious, and with a focus on friendship. We each chose a reading in place of repeating standard vows or writing our own. The readings we found and chose to have as part of our ceremony were the perfect fit and now hold a very special place in both of our hearts. I've transcribed them both below.

A large serving platter with a portion of our vows, created together the day after our wedding.

From Me to E - words by Roy Croft
I love you not only for what you are, but for who I am when I am with you.
I love you not only for what you have made of yourself ,but for what you are making of me. I love you for the part of me that you bring out;
I love you for putting your hand into my heaped-up heart
And passing over all the foolish, weak things that you can’t help dimly seeing there
And drawing out into the light all the beautiful belongings
That no one else had looked quite far enough to find.
I love you because you are helping me to make of the lumber of my life 
not a tavern but a temple.
Out of the works of my every day not a reproach but a song.
I love you because you have done more than any creed could have done to make me good. And more than any fate could have done to make me happy.
You have done it without a touch, without a word, without a sign.
You have done it by being yourself.

From E to Me - words by Bob Dylan
Ever since you walked right in, the circle’s been complete.
I’ve said goodbye to haunted rooms and faces in the street.
To the courtyard of the jester which is hidden from the sun
I love you more than ever and I haven’t yet begun.
You breathed on me and made my life a richer one to live.
When I was deep in poverty you taught me how to give.
Dried the tears up from my dreams and pulled me from the hole.
Quenched my thirst and satisfied the burning in my soul.
I love you more than ever, more than time and more than love.
I love you more than money and more than the stars above.
Love you more than madness, more than waves upon the sea.
Love you more than life itself, you mean that much to me.

E somehow made it through without crying, but this emotional lady just couldn't do it and apparently caused a domino effect of crying throughout many of the guests. What can I say, already emotional gal + pregnancy = almost guaranteed tears during such a special time and when reading something so meaningful and true to my love.

Sara

Friday, June 22, 2012

Five Sources of Joy

 (1) Being married to this guy, the best fella I know, and one who is always up for just about anything.

(2) Butterflies that look like owls. We saw this one during our post-wedding trip to The Butterfly House. 

(3) Cornmeal waffles during Sunday breakfast and my first time making waffles independently. Recipe for these guys can be found in Vegan Brunch

(4) Creating something special with my love to commemorate our marriage.

(5) New old toys for baby girl and new old canisters for her mama.

What has brought you joy this week? Feel free to share with me in the comments.

Sara

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Basil: Harvesting and Preserving our Bounty

This is the post where I gush about my love of a simple little herb called basil. If that's not your style you may want to just skip along because my love for this little green leaf runs pretty deep and that may lead to rambling.

You see, one day a couple years back E found this giant steel washtub on the side of the road, in somebody's garbage. I don't know what kind of mental instability it takes to throw out such a treasure, but I'm sure glad it was the case. Since it's arrival it has been my go-to herb growing container and this year I decided basil would rule the palace and keep all acreage to herself. I assure you this was one of my wisest decisions yet, for look at the bounty.


After only harvesting these plants a few weeks ago I was once again left with an enormous amount of leaves and stems this time around. An entire four-quart mixing bowl full in fact.


In order to try and stretch our bounty out to last the whole year through I used this batch to begin my preservation efforts. I hung two hefty bunches in the kitchen window where they will be left to dry. After a couple of weeks, or however long they take to get sufficiently crisp, I will remove the leaves one by one and store them in a large glass jar to be crumbled into soups, pastas, and various other culinary delights throughout the year. I'm sure we will add more and more leaves too as our harvests continue.


The remaining leaves were tossed into our large food processor and whirred around with olive oil until they made a paste, being transferred into an ice-cube tray and popped into the freezer after that. I had heard about this method many times, but had yet to try it, and am still uncertain how I feel about all this, although I am sure I'll be glad to have one or two of these to toss into a dish when there's snow on the ground this winter.


Now it is back to waiting for the next harvest time and dreaming of the basil lemonade to come, as I forgot to save any back during this go-round. Oh, and rest assured this isn't the last you will hear of from the garden, for there are some monstrous cucumber plants overtaking their trellis and it looks as if their blossoms will be turning to fruit before we know what hit us. With the amount of seeds I have sown you better bet I'll be in a pickle and relish making frenzy before too long.

Are you growing or preserving anything this season?

Sara

linking up with frugal-days-sustainable-ways

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Post-Wedding Adventures: Museum of Transportation

With baby girl on the way and being a bit tighter on finances my fella and I weren't able to get out of town for our week of post-wedding fun, but E did take the week off work for us to spend together on local adventures, hanging out with our furry kiddos, and stocking up on snuggle time. 

One day of our week E led the way with a trip to the Museum of Transportation. This is not the kind of place I would typically pick, but that is one more thing I love about E. We are so alike on the big things that matter most, but also each have a number of our own interests which allows for plenty of adventures the other would not have experienced if we did not have each other. 










The displays were mostly of trains and while I am not that into engineering I still found a lot of the exhibits to be interesting and educational and am glad we made it there. Plus, I love admiring all of the old train signage and watching E take everything in. I can also appreciate the fact that E's desires next led us to a lunch of veggie sushi at our favorite little spot where we proceeded to devour our weight in sweet potato tempura rolls, edamame, and plenty of ice water for me. 

Not a bad way to spend the day with my new husband.

Have you been on any fun adventures so far this summer?

Sara

Monday, June 18, 2012

Love and Marriage

Here I am, married, well-rested, and incredibly happy. We are back to the every day, but thankful to be here and to have this life to live and are looking forward to continuing on our journey together. My partner-in-crime is the best one I could have asked for and although saying vows, brandishing a ring, and sharing a meal with our loved ones doesn't make our love any more real or any more significant than it already was, it does feel good to now be husband and wife to one another and to have had such a special day to celebrate the love we have had, do have, and will continue to nurture into the future. 

(Preview from our wonderful photographer and human being Virginia.)

When we chose to move our wedding date up to the spring we also chose to keep things simple. We wanted to just have our immediate family (parents, siblings, grandparent) and a few close friends present, adding up to just around two dozen of our nearest and dearest. We also chose to have a simple dinner at one of our favorite spots, with everything tying up around seven p.m. While it was not an easy decision to make, that of keeping things small or trying to be all-inclusive, we are so pleased with how everything turned out and have no regrets. By keeping things small we were able to focus on each other and the real meaning of what was happening and that meant the world to us both.


Now we are continuing on in the life we have been living for over four years, building the future we want for ourselves and for our little gal. I couldn't be more happy to call E my husband. He is the kindest and silliest and most loving fella I could ever wish for and I am humbled by his patience, understanding, and love each and every day.


I will wear my little bird and branches as a reminder of our love of each other, of nature, of life and of our growing family and will look forward to seeing where this journey continues to take us.

Sara

Monday, June 11, 2012

Marriage

(Rings from here, here, and here)

As of Sunday we are officially hitched! In order to fully take in this time of our lives we are tucking away the computers, breaking out our adventure shoes, and focusing fully on each other. I will be back next Monday with more stories to share.

Sara

Friday, June 8, 2012

Five Sources of Joy

(1) Simple tasty lunches that leave me feeling satisfied. 

(2) Cucumbers grown from seed that are now ready to grasp on to the first leg of their trellis. 

(3) Leaving surprise love notes for each other. Something we do rather sporadically, but that brings a smile to the face of it's receiver each and every time. 

(4) Crafting projects for our wedding. The costs are not always that much lower than buying something pre-made, but the benefits of personalization and satisfaction for having created it ourselves are priceless. 

(5) Waffles. E bought us a maker earlier this year and I think we will have to break it out again during our post-wedding week of adventures.

Sara

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Love Will Take You Far

October 30, 2007 was the first time I saw him, this scruffy looking fella in a red North Face jacket sitting across from me in a dim little restaurant called Riddles. My night/week/month/year was not off to a good start as I was questioning my decision to pass up a dream job in upstate New York and was working through the loss of my grandmother and return of my father. It was obvious to me that I was in no position for welcoming anyone else into my life, yet there he was, a guy I had never seen before, but who was there to celebrate the birthday of a shared friend. We didn't cross paths again until New Years Eve and by then I was still working through my troubles, showing up on my bike to a friends party already three beers in and with a case of pbr in my backpack, continuing on to dialing up someone else's number at midnight. I was very much aware of him, but not in a state to really feel it mattered or that anything would come of it. 

Waking up to a new year I dug deep into myself and found more stable footing. I began working on myself with trips to the gym to chase down endorphins, making myself branch out through meet-ups and dates, and doing some good old fashioned soul searching. Looking back now I can see how this was all preparing me for welcoming this wonderful man into my life. Without that work and preparation there is no way I would have let him in, but because of it, I was made ready. 

He started popping up here and there and started becoming a fixture at dollar pbr night that my friends and I frequented at a little middle eastern place called Saleems. I quickly became smitten and once when he didn't come due to illness I snagged his number from a friend and sent a concerned, yet flirty text message his way, saving his number into my phone as Eric Cute-Pants, as it still remains. From there things moved rather quickly, and while we never dated in a typical fashion, we began spending more time together. One of the first times we spent any one-on-one time together, E accompanied me to a grocery store, and looking back that's where he said he fell for me - those must be some impressive food picking skills I possess. We talked early of a life spent together and connected on our love of nature, of animals, and outdoor adventures, later finding all of the connections that ran deeper and which really keep two people together.

We quickly became attached and made things official on March 10, 2008. In June my lease was running out and E owned a house with his brother (the home we now own and share today) so we decided on my moving in with him even though we had only been together a few months. There were rocky patches and near collapses as we both moved through our past and worked toward our future, but over time we found our rhythm and our balance in each other and on Sunday I will marry that fella in the red North Face jacket, the one who was only wishful thinking that day over four years ago, but is now my reality. 


Sara

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Thoughts On Graduation


On May 12th I graduated from University. This time in my life is a happy one, one full of wonderful changes and a wide open future that I can shape as I wish. That should all be inspiring and fill me with hope, and as much as it does, it is also quite daunting.

Now, rather than having any structure to my days, having a never-ending to-do list of assignments, readings, papers and projects, I have endlessly open and empty days to fill. At first this seems like a dream come true, and in many ways it is lovely, but at the same time, I crave a bit of structure, crave a bit of routine, and crave feeling useful and fulfilled.

I realize all of these cravings can be fulfilled, but also must admit it is quite a hard puzzle to crack.  With our small wedding being only five days away I have been able to fill my mind and hands with preparing for Sunday, but what happens when the dust settles, when I am left alone at home, waiting for baby to arrive and with months full of unstructured days staring me down? 

I don't think I will solve this puzzle in a week, a month, or even a longer stretch of time, but I do think it is possible to find a new routine which can provide the fulfillment, joy, and routine I am craving.


This process will take time and energy and an ability for me to face down my own insecurities, doubts and feelings of not being good enough, the ability to face them head on, being willing to fail and finding motivation enough to keep on going even when things do not go as planned, for as we all know they so often do not.


Thankfully I have the finest fella to stand by my side and help me along this new journey. We are heading into uncharted territory hand in hand, becoming parents, a one-income family, and ever-closer friends as we go. When I am feeling down or unable to find what I am looking for he helps to shed some much needed light onto the situation and into my soul. For him, I am thankful, and while I know this post-graduation journey has a lot in store for me, I know I can handle it with him by my side.

Sara

Monday, June 4, 2012

Moment of Truth: Happiness and Sorrow

Excerpts from my personal journals.

"Today I am nearly six months pregnant, carrying mine and Eric's daughter, and it is such a wild thing to imagine we are bringing another generation into the world. During this time of joy I cannot help but let sadness creep in from time to time, times such as those when I am driving the back way home and pass through farm fields and by lots full of tractors. My thoughts quickly find their way to a little cemetery near a one room church, just off the side of a small gravel road and nestled near the boot heal of Missouri. Beneath the rich country soil three generations of my own family can be found: my father, his mother, and her mother and father too, these people making up life as I once knew it and will never know it again. My heart and soul has been dissected into pieces and placed deep into that very soil, but the home I once had there is gone. My daughter will never know what it is like to catch tadpoles and crawdads in Castor River, will never sit on the boulder beneath our Mimosa tree - breathing in the sweet aroma while watching the cows peeking over from Uncle John's pasture, will never collect black eyed susan's from the road side before stealing a sip of Grandma Dorothy's sweet tea. I know she will have other experiences and will build homes of her own, yet the pieces of my own heart which have been left behind, they continue to pulse beneath the soil, begging me to find my way home."

Sara  

Friday, June 1, 2012

Five Sources of Joy

 (1) Fresh bouquets of flowers to brighten up my home.

(2) Warm platters of chocolate chip cookies to satisfy the sweet tooth's of those who pass through. 

(3) Moments spent with a little gal who reminds me of how simple life should be and who can make me laugh and smile in three seconds flat. 

(4) Sharing our home with four furry critters and having an especially big lug who enjoys stealing our seats while also dishing out the sweetest kind of canine-specific love. 

(5) Looking forward to those many more happy years to come.

Sara