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Reverb 2010

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Reverb 10 Prompt 31: Core story

I am participating in the Reverb 10 project. You can read my first post here.

Prompt for December 31: Core story. What central story is at the core of you, and how do you share it with the world? (Bonus: Consider your reflections from this month. Look through them to discover a thread you may not have noticed until today.)

I cannot believe I made it through the entire month and answered every Reverb 10 prompt. I thought I would run out of steam. But, it turns out that writing begets writing – the more I wrote, the more I could write. Plus, the prompts were pretty awesome. Anyway, on to the last day of Reverb 10…

I lived through a series of eventful years. My friend, Marie, remarked that every summer since 2006, Dan and I underwent a major transition. We graduated from U.Va the summer of 2006, got engaged the summer of 2007, married the summer of 2008, bought a house the summer of 2009, and had a baby the summer of 2010. Lo and behold, she is right. And I am ready to put a stop to Major Life Transitions right about now.

But I also think that the idea of constant evolution is my core story. As my Reverb 10 posts showed, much of 2010 was an evolution – both physically, emotionally, and mentally. I had a job and quit a job. My body transformed before my eyes into a baby-carrying vessel. A family of two became a family of three. Plans were made and plans were discarded. We thought we would parent one way and ended up changing courses.

Ebb and flow. Change.

As much as I love life changes and seem to have been a master of major life transitions, until this year, I did not savor them as much as I could have. Always looking a couple steps ahead, I wish I had taken more time to appreciate whatever season of life I found myself in. But, I believe it is never too late to begin again or re-route. And Kate’s birth in 2010 forced me to take the time to witness the Here and Now.

A varied life is good. And sometime change for change’s sake is good. But capturing the time is equally important. So while I know I will be who I have always been – a future-focused life transition maker – I can also work on being the rememberer of This Moment.

Reverb 10 Prompt 30: Gift

I am participating in the Reverb 10 project. You can read my first post here.

Prompt for December 30: Gift. This month, gifts and gift-giving can seem inescapable. What’s the most memorable gift, tangible or emotional, you received this year?

When I was a little girl, I used to put out beer and cookies for Santa. Because my parents said Santa could probably use a cold one after traveling such distances dragging around a giant bagged filled with Polly Pockets. Obviously, I wanted to please Santa, so I obliged. Only now looking back do I see the humor of this ritual.

Anyway, my parents always put together an awesome Christmas. SO MANY GIFTS. I recall Barbies galore, a bike with a built in radio, American Girl dolls, my first film camera and later my first digital camera. Each Christmas featured a sweet surprise gift neither my sister nor I expected.

Christmastime between the ages of 5 and 12 is totally awesome. The stuff you want is reatively inexpensive, easy to get, and provides maximum excitement. Plus, shopping for this set is totally fun. The gifts make music, feature bright lights and colors, and provide endless hours of entertainment.

But once you get older, well, your gifts get lamer. In the teenage years, desired gifts are often expensive and hard to come by. So those are the years I rememeber getting underwear and socks. It was a tough go, those teenager years, after coming off of the high and excitment of Christmases as an elementary school kid.

So from then on Christmas became more of a get-what-you-need day, which I did not understand the beauty of until recently. As a young married couple, Dan and I started out with little in the way of Living Supplies like baking sheets and more than two bath towels. But due to the generosity of both sets of parents, we are set up with everything we need.

And Christmas became more about the traditions and the cookie making and the time spent together. Much richer a holiday experience. And being a parent at Christmas might even rival being a child at Christmas. Christmas with Kate this year made everything more sparkly. Because even though she will not remember posing under the Christmas Tree in her snowman PJs, Dan and I will.

Enjoying my family and finally getting the chance to make our own traditions and celebrate the holidays in our own way was my gift to myself. We don’t do crazy gifts, we don’t require several course meals, we don’t hinge huge expectations on one another. We are each other’s gift.

Reverb 10 Prompt 29: Defining moment

I am participating in the Reverb 10 project. You can read my first post here.

Prompt for December 29: Defining Moment. Describe a defining moment or series of events that has affected your life this year.

I was scheduled to be induced on a Monday. As a life-longer planner, I was totally psyched about this idea. Everything was set. The hospital was expecting me. Our parents had been informed. I knew which OB was going to deliver me. And, most importantly, Dan and I had one last weekend as a childless couple. We were going to have one last date. I was promised Cheesecake Factory.

Then late Wednesday night, the contractions started. And kept going right into Thursday morning. And by Thursday afternoon, I was on a train to Parent Land and there was no getting off. I remember thinking, “but I was supposed to have one more weekend. I was promised Cheesecake Factory. This is going to have to wait a couple of more days.”

Turns out, once you get into that Labor and Delivery room, well, those hospital folks expect you to Labor and Deliver. And no one cares that this was all supposed to happen on Monday, not in the wee hours of Friday morning, right before my last weekend as a childless person.

It was then I realized life no longer marched to the beat of Sarah Time. I can plan and arrange and try my darnest to keep to Sarah Schedule, but, it seems things have a funny way of working out on a different time frame. And while that time frame probably will not be Sarah Time, the chips fall as they will and it is really not so bad.

Kate decided to arrive on her own time, in her own manner, and on her on schedule. And she will crawl when she is ready and talk when she is ready and walk when she is ready and not a moment sooner.

And so it goes. Since that moment at Fairfax Hospital when the sweet Labor and Delivery nurse told me that come hell or high water, this baby was coming TONIGHT, I realized that, try as I might, some things are just out of my control. But maybe, just maybe, in 2011 I can still get to Cheesecake Factory.

Reverb 10 Prompt 28: Achieve

I am participating in the Reverb 10 project. You can read my first post here.

Prompt for December 28: Achieve. What’s the thing you most want to achieve next year? How do you imagine you’ll feel when you get it? Free? Happy? Complete? Blissful? Write that feeling down. Then, brainstorm 10 things you can do, or 10 new thoughts you can think, in order to experience that feeling today.

I talk non stop about Gretchen Rubin and her Happiness Project. Almost every night at dinner, I am “Gretchen this” and “Happiness Project that.” I think Dan is just about ready to ban any more talk of The Happiness Project and my love affair with Gretchen Rubin.

I have a serious thing for Gretchen. I just know if we met, we would be best friends. Like her, I love reading and writing, take notes for no reason, get cranky if I am too cold or hungry, and love to exercise in the morning. Oh how I wish I could meet Gretchen for coffee. I so admire her.

Of course I decided in 2011, I, too would have my own Happiness Project. Like Gretchen, I have a chart for each of the 12 months with a “resolution” per month and eight mini-resolutions aimed at achieving the main resolution. If you like, you can email her and ask for a copy of her chart, so you can make your own. I kept some of her resolutions, tweaked some, and others I changed completely. And I am so jazzed to get started.

I plan on sharing my chart in a post on January 1, so stay tuned to see what it is I hope to achieve. Are you going to do a Happiness Project? What do you want to achieve? Have you ever met Gretchen? I would be totally jealous.

Reverb 10 Prompt 27: Ordinary joy

I am participating in the Reverb 10 project. You can read my first post here.

Prompt for December 27: Ordinary Joy. Our most profound joy is often experienced during ordinary moments. What was one of your most joyful ordinary moments this year?

Morning people get a bad rap. It is as if they are a misfit group that no one really understands. When I tell people how early I like to get up, they recoil in shock. Like something must be wrong with me. The idea of sleeping in makes my skin crawl. The morning is such a precious time, I would just hate to waste it away.

I have always been an early riser. Even as a teenager, it would be rare for me to sleep in past 7 a.m. I love getting up early. To me, the earlier the better. In the early morning, the phone is not ringing, no one is bothering me. Quiet. The day holds so much potential. I rise early to attend my 6 a.m. gym class, get back to sip my coffee, read my emails, watch the Today Show, have breakfast, write my blog posts. Calm.

After Kate was born, I quickly devised a way to incorporate her into my morning ritual so that I could still keep it my time while also entertain Kate. Turns out, she is a good morning person, too. She sits at the table with me while I eat my breakfast, we watch the Today Show, look over the morning paper. She plays in her exersaucer while I get ready for the day.

I go to sleep at night looking forward to the next morning. I am truly at my best in the A.M. There is nothing special about what I do. It is just an ordinary morning which will start an ordinary day. But to me, it is the best part of the day. When I do my best thinking, when everything that plagued me the night before seems much clearer.

My morning rituals are sacred. It is my alone time, when I plan out my day. In the morning I take my time to sort myself out. Mornings make me so energized that I feel like I can accomplish anything. Mornings are my ordinary joy.

Reverb 10 Prompt 26: Soul food

I am participating in the Reverb 10 project. You can read my first post here.

Prompt for December 26: Soul Food. What did you eat this year that you will never forget? What went into your mouth & touched your soul?

When I was little, I was a super picky eater. Super picky. And I required ketchup on just about any meat before I would eat it. I would not touch a salad and the idea of eating onions turned my stomach. I would not try anything, so I often ended up with my own meal of several mixed together cereals.

I suppose my extreme pickiness is what prevented me from really caring about the idea of a meal. If my mom or dad was working late or there just wasn’t any time to get anything together, we often had Make Your Own dinner night – my favorite night. Then I could just eat a bowl of cereal or come crackers and cheese or an apple with peanut butter. And that was my meal. I never really felt like I needed or wanted more than just that. I was a nibbler anyway.

Not my sister. Oh, no. Girlfriend wanted a MEAL. She is a chicken and potatoes and rice and bread kind of girl. She wanted a real dinner, a hot meal. So I suppose that is why she can cook and I can’t. She would actually make herself something – mac and cheese or nachos or quesadilla – while I munched on a bowl of Grapenuts and raisins.

Since I showed no interest in needing a real meal, I never had any interest in cooking. I would prefer to nibble on this and that, assembling my food rather than cooking something that required more than three ingredients and a cooking apparatus.

So this prompt is hard for me because, really, I am not so much into cooking or meals. But I am into baking. Baking to me is so much more rewarding than cooking. Everyone wants leftover baked goods. And I made so many yummy ones this year, that it is hard to pick just one. I suppose my two favorites are both Barefoot Contessa recipes – the Outrageous Brownies and the Aunt Beatty’s Chocolate Cake. Both of those recipes are requested often, and they both turn out perfectly every time.

I often thought I should try to cook. Maybe I could learn to like cooking. Or maybe I will just stick with cereal.