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Reverb 2011

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Reverb 11 | Prompt 31 | Fresh slate

Prompt for December 31: Fresh slate. Tomorrow is a new year. What do you want to do with your fresh slate?

I’m a firm believer that you can have a fresh start anytime you want. It doesn’t matter if it’s New Year’s Day, the first day of any given month, your birthday. Anytime is a good time to start anew.

I like to give myself a lot of chances to do things better. My quest for a new and improved Sarah is an everyday challenge.

Which is why I’m so stuck on what exactly I want to do with my fresh slate. There’s certainly a never ending To Do and To Be list. But I also like this idea of keeping my options open.

But since I’m a goal-oriented girl, I can’t go a year without any goals. I’m a planner at heart. So I’m thinking I’ll think about plans and goals and resolutions in a different way. Not that I need to accomplish these things because I’m a terrible person in need of constant improvement. But rather because I’m interested in evolving, learning, taking risks, being open to opportunities.

Rather than resolution, I’m thinking about intentions, what’s possible, breathing life into my personal purpose.

Reverb 11 | Prompt 30 | Identity

Prompt for December 30: Identity. How did you identity yourself in 2011? Did it change? How will you identify yourself in 2012?

I’ve struggled with identity crises at various times in my life. It usually rears it’s ugly head during a time of transition. When the course of life changes, it causes ripple effects along the way.

The length of the identity crisis depends on the major change going on in my life. Graduating college, starting my first job, getting engaged, getting married, buying a house, pregnancy, quitting my job, motherhood.

Of all the identity changes I’ve encountered, motherhood impacted who I thought I was in the most profound way. The combination of leaving my job and becoming Kate’s primary caregiver created the most major identity crisis.

Before Kate, I either tied myself to school or my job. After I finished graduate school and lost half of my identity equation, I hung onto my work identity with all my might. It didn’t matter if I actually liked what I was doing. Heck, most of the time I didn’t like my job. It wasn’t as if I held the job of my dreams. I wasn’t even sure I was in the right field for my skills and talents.

But for whatever reason, I believed that one’s job is the most important thing one can do. Jobs result in paychecks, which are arguably pretty important. Going to a job means you are doing something and keeping busy, also good. Performing work means you are working towards some greater good, with is awesome.

So, since I am not part of the workforce, I’m not earning money, must be lazy, and obviously not working towards any greater good. And I don’t have any field to hang my hat.

As a stay at home mom, I’m the dirty diaper changer, dinner maker, trash taker-outer, laundress, toilet cleaner, grocery shopper, organizer, toddler wrangler, driver, errand runner.

Definitely not a glamorous job. And my duties leave me feeling that the only reason I’m here, on this Earth, is to clean house for my family. And I’m not even that good at it! Clearly this identity of housewife isn’t working for me.

Feeling frustrated with my lack of identity, I almost let myself get all down and in despair. But I thought I’d try an exercise. I thought about Dan and his identity. How would I identify Dan? What words would I use to describe him? Who is he? What attributes make up Dan?

A father, son, son-in-law, brother, husband, friend. He can build anything. And is currently take orders for custom poker tables. He’s a reader. Loves the Internet and all things computers. Enjoys biking. Can problem solve like no one’s business. The best listener.

Of course, I can go on and on. But then I realized something striking. Never once did I think of worker or employee. What he does for a living, his profession, never entered my thought process. It isn’t how I’d identify him.

I went on to think of the identities of my close friends. Again, things like baker, crafter, exercise enthusiast came to mind. Never once did any one’s profession come into play.

So if I don’t identify people by their careers – or their lack there of – why does work play such a role when I think of my identity?

Maybe whatever job I do – or don’t do – isn’t really part of my identity. Perhaps jobs, work, professions, don’t have anything to do with who I am at my core.

My identity is something I define myself – not something defined for me.

Reverb 11 | Prompt 29 | Home

Prompt for December 29: Home. How did you make your house a home in 2011? Did you move? Repaint? Redecorate? How do you want to change your home in 2012?

Dan and I spend a lot of time at home. He works for home. I work from home. We spend approximately 20 hours a day at home. That’s probably quadruple the amount of time other people spend at home.

We’re home a lot.

So we get bored of how our house looks and feels. And with a toddler, we’re constantly moving stuff around. Stuff we did not know to be hazardous turned out to be Super Dangerous in the hands of an 18 month old.

Along with moving around shelves and pictures and the like, we like to take on big home improvment projects together. We are at our best when we are both working together to tackle a household project that gives us a sense of accomplishment.

In fact, we are working a big project right now. For the past couple days, we’ve been repainting our family room, hallway, eating area, and kitchen. And not just a white wash everywhere. Color. And two accent walls.

It’s pretty dramatic.

In January, I will post before and after pictures, some of our painting tips and tricks, and how we came up with the color scheme. Prepare to be amazed!

Reverb 11 | Prompt 28 | I wish

Prompt for December 28: I wish. What do you wish for in 2012? How will you make it come true?

I loved wishing as a kid. Wish upon a star. Wish upon fallen eyelashes. I took blowing out birthday candles as a very important time to make a big wish.

But now wishing seems silly to me. Is it really wishing or wishful thinking? How important is it to wish? Does wishing set you up for disappointment? Or does it fuel your fire?

Maybe I’m afraid to wish big. Perhaps because I am a cautious heart, fearing that be careful what you wish for lest it come true sentiment.

Something about the idea of wishing brings to mind both something magical and something potentially damning. Like once you say your wish, it gains some sort of strength of it’s own and shoots off in an unanticipated direction.

So.

Wish.

In 2012, I don’t have any wishes. My soul sister, Kat, inspired me to instead keep my wishes open to possibilities. So here’s to desires I don’t yet know I have, longings for whatever comes around, and my wants for whatever it is I already have.

Reverb 11 | Prompt 27 | Love

Prompt for December 27: Love. How did you feel loved in 2011? How did you give love?

One of my most memorable moments from my wedding was my Dad’s speech.

He spoke about how, as time passed and our family grew through marriages, births, our love grew. And grew. And grew. With each new addition to our family, our collective love enlarged to embrace that new person.

There’s always room for one more, he said.

I carry those words in my heart everyday, especially this year. Before becoming a mother, I couldn’t fathom just how much love I had in my heart. And my love grew towards my parents, watching them become grandma and grandpa. And my love grew towards Dan as I watch how he cuddles Kate at bed time and reads her just one more book. And my love grew for my in-laws as they became not just Dan’s parents but Kate’s grandparents.

There’s a lot of love here. It grows and changes and moves to embraces each of us when we need it most. And there’s always room in our hearts for one more.

Reverb 11 | Prompt 26 | Advice

Prompt for December 26: Advice. What was the best piece of advice you received in 2012? Does that advice still ring true for you?

When Kate got her first tooth last January, she howled and fussed and cried for what seemed like weeks. I’d had it. Then one of my mommy friends said, don’t worry, it will pass.

And it did. Then Kate learned to crawl and walk but was still too young to voice what she wanted. So frustrated that her mind and body weren’t in sync, she’d throw all out tantrums with full on feet kicking and fist pounding. I thought she’d never grow out of it and would be this wailing, incorrehent 22 pound ball of furry for the rest of my life. And my mommy friends said, don’t worry, it’s only temporary.

She was right. Now Kate, walks, runs, and never stops talking. She learns new words and phrases everyday to add to her growing aresenal of vocabulary. So now she can tell me she wants “gulk” (a.k.a. milk), cracker, monkey, park, etc… But while she can express her preferences, she is still too young to understand that mommy’s busy right now, so we can’t play right this very second. This, if not struck down immediately with top-notch distraction techniques results in full on Todder Rage.

Oh, the Toddler Rage, a stage I’d like to move through as quickly as possible as patience is running thin around here.

I called my mom after a particularly awful tantrum filled day. I told her it felt like this stage in Kate’s life would last forever. It was never going to end. She was going to yell demands at me in her toddler language and proceed to launch a full scale meltdown when her demands are not met for the foreseable future.

My mom laughed. And said it sounded liked Kate is behaving just as she should. Normal toddler. That everything is as it should be.

At the time, I didn’t want to hear that. I wanted an end date to this Toddler Rage. How long until she speaks in full paragraphs, understands the concept of patience, and dresses herself?

It took some time to accept, but, sure enough, everyday is an improvement. Just a few minutes ago, I asked her to “please wait” and then I would get her some Cheerios. And she repeated back to me “wait wait.” And then she actually waited. Improvement!

Temporary. Fleeting.

I am exactly where I am supposed to be. Right now, I am a mother to a toddler. And all the toddler triumphs and challenges are part and parcel to this period of my life.

And so it goes, ebbing and flowing. When I feel frustration setting in, I imagine the word temporary, hanging out there is space in front of me, reminding me not to despair because behind every tantrum and every seeminly forever situation, the tide is changing, and something new is on the horizon.