Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Expecting to be a Grandmother

Who, ME?  Of course me!  It has been two years since my eldest and his wife married; he is in a good, steady job, they have their own place, so why not?  A few short weeks ago Matt and Jeanette gave us the news we had been waiting to her- they were expecting a child.  We are joyous.

Little Nugget, I think about you often, already.  You are yet so tiny, and there is so much about you we don't yet know.  I pray every day that God will sustain your life and give your Momma health and strength to grow you well and safely.

I think about what the sound of your voice will be like, what things you will love, whether you will have blond hair like your mother or curly hair like your father...or both.  I already pray that you will come to know Christ at an early age, and that you will be a loving and conscientious human.

Your parents are so smart and capable;  I think your mother has loved you before she even knew you.  They will be good parents.  Not perfect, but you must remember, Nugget, that no parent is perfect but most kids grow up to be good adults anyway.  They will do the absolute best they know how.

Now, focus....relax in the safety of your ocean-like world and grow big and strong...we can't wait to meet you.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Tinkling in the New Year

I have never been one to make a big deal about the New Year.  I hate resolutions; they are just one more way for me to fail.  I don't think January 1, the beginning of a new calendar cycle, is a good opportunity to start all fresh and new; I believe EVERY day is exactly that.  I hate loud noisy parties with a lot of people.  I choose not to drink until drunk.  I seldom stay awake long enough to watch the clock tick over.

Nevertheless, the very end of 2012 brought some significant changes to our life and the lives of our children, and it is worth noting to myself that the upcoming year will be a very interesting one.

Matt and Jeanette finally got to move into their very own apartment, which doesn't really affect us much, since they were already moved out of this home, but we did help them move and are very happy for them to finally have their own space.  And, about a week after they moved in they discovered they were expecting a baby!  Wahoo!  Yes, it is their child, but it really is a family celebration.  So this year we will watch our daughter-in-law grow her child and this child will be born into this world if all goes well.  No small potatoes in my book.

The end of 2012 also brought the official moving-out of our younger son Phil, making us true empty-nesters. He first moved into a flat with several other guys and no guarantee of his own bed, and soon after decided to take a place closer to his two jobs and have his own room, own bed, and one roommate.  The first move was harder for me, sending my "child" off into the mean world, but the second move made us proud of him and excited for him.  He is considering the military, so this year could also see him join up, graduate basic and head to training.

So, yeah.  New Years come and New Years go; so goeth New Years.  But this time it truly will be interesting to see what this next year will bring.

Monday, December 10, 2012

On a warm-ish day in December Tuesday and I plodded around the pasture together.  She practiced stretching her stride and I practiced staying on.  As we walked along the fence-line separating us from the grasslands the wind combed through the baptisia skeletons knocked from their dried moorings and blown into the fence like midwestern tumbleweeds.  The sound of their pods clattering together was like the ghost of native american ceremonial rattles and we paused and were still for a moment, just listening.  It was a bumper crop of baptisia this year.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Learning as Therapy

The day before classes were to begin I finally decided to attend the Master naturalist training through the University of Illinois extension office.  A very sweet friend, who was very determined to see me join, informed me that it was being offered through Ogle County, which is sooo much closer than, well, anywhere else.  I hemmed and hawed about the cost, but kept coming back to the fact that I was not working, was wasting away creatively and really had no other excuse not to.

I joined, I rushed to the first class and got there late because of an earlier appointment, and have not looked backward since.  I am an amateur naturalist; like I have written before I have my dear friend Laura to thank for that.  I have also been through the Master Gardener training so was no stranger to the general format of classes and certification.  In fact, the MG training was what really sparked my fire to get back to school and study horticulture, which eventually led to a pair of two-year degrees.  But imagine my delight at discovering that the majority of our training would take place in the field, on the spot, hands-on.  Yessss.  My kinda learning.  I also was given to understand on that very first evening that there was going to be some repetition in learning, for me, but that there was so much still to learn.  We will cover subjects that have intrigued me for years, and not being near a university that offers classes such as these toward a degree, I am eager to take advantage of the opportunity.

Really, I have said all of the above to say this:  these classes are coming along at a critical time for me, and I can already see how the program will benefit my state of mind.  The first night were all given "phenology" journals, with which we are to observe and record natural occurrences.  In the strictest sense of the word this would be things such as temperature, humidity, moon phase, rainfall, etc.  Our director, however, felt that term to me too restricting; what she wants from us is to really look at our personal outdoor environments.  What is happening with the flora and fauna?  What do we wonder about the situations?  How do they fit into the grand scheme of things?  And WHY?  I love it.  I have journaled in the past, and a blog is but a semi-private journal, right?  I love to be given the assignment to journal.  LOVE it.  It gives me purpose, and it also makes me accountable to look around, even when I am not journaling at the moment.

Observation, meditation, awareness, appreciation; what's not healing in these things?  My dark spell has left me atrophied on a number of levels, but the way I see it I have nowhere to go but up by getting back to studying the natural world..

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


In one sense of the word, identity is easy:  who are we?  Mother, niece, friend, female, male, son, etc.  I think most people would also agree that identity is closely associated with what we do, and that is not so easily defined OR maintained.

Empty nest.  I saw this coming a LONG way off, and have been preparing for it for years.  I recognize that it is Good and Right that our children grow up and move on with their lives; it is what we have been training them to do their whole lives.  That does not change the fact, however, that when I am done with my stage of active mothering I am stepping out of a major phase of identity:  "I am a stay-at-home-mom and homemaker."  I also saw this off in the distance, and got my schooling finished, some occupational training under my belt and started my own business.  I was also planting my veggie garden, nurturing my flock of pullets and waiting for the arrival of my first eggs. My own life was rolling right along into the next phase, too, and I was busy enough to be distracted from my sense of loss as the kids started trickling away.

Then, BAM!  What started as a wonderful, busy Spring and lots of great jobs turned into nothing, nada, zip, zilch, zippo.  A couple small things here and there, and now a couple more small things on the horizon, but it really slapped me hard in the face.  "Wait.  If I am not mothering anymore, and I have no work, what exactly am I supposed to be doing, here?"  My crisis was made much the worse for a depressive reversion.  Those who have walked in the shadow of depression know that it is not as simple as "getting over it" or "finding something to do."  At times it is, literally, the valley of the shadow of death; it is suffering and oppression.  The things you most enjoy doing are meaningless, pointless and joyless.  Oh, I am a gardener?  I couldn't really care any less about my gardens right now, and let them go to weeds.  Sometimes it is all you can do just to take care of your charges but because they would DIE otherwise.  It is not a good place to be, and it can be a hard place out of which to climb.  Physical and spiritual issues can also play a significant role, so we go back to a holistic examination of one's life, like I alluded to in earlier posts.

My backwards crash was not a conscious one; I crashed and was taken aback by what was happening to me.  After all, I was in counselling, taking anti-depressants, improving my diet, losing weight, enjoying fellowship with God.

Retrospective examination brought all this unbeknownst angst to the surface, where, fortunately, it can be dealt with.  As my counsellor so aptly put it, the muck in a glass of water can settle out to the bottom but if you jostle that glass the much gets stirred up- a perfect time to skim it off.  Hooray for skimming!

So, as I feel the oppression begin to lift, and my eyes start to drift back upward, I breathe in deeply, and think about the idea of identity a little more clearly.  I am still mother, wife, female, etc.  What I DO will look different, of course, now that I am not actively mothering.  But our sermon last Sunday was so perfectly timed that I cannot help but thank God for reminding me that He is there, walking through the muck with me.

Who am I?  I am a human being living on this world we called earth.  I am a Child of God, created to glorify Him.  My suffering has been great, but nothing compared to what He endured on the cross for my sake, and if I hold tight to the reminder that He walks with me and will use my suffering for His glory I will do it again.

"Whom have I in heaven but Thee?  And there is nothing on earth I desire 
besides Thee.  My flesh and my heart may fail, 
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever."

                                                                                                      -Psalm 73:25-36

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Old Pleasures

I am writing again.  A wee, little bit.  It has been a long, long time since I put proverbial pen to paper and laid fiction on the page, and I am unsure why I am revisiting old words.  Maybe I needed time and distance; maybe I am lazy and unmotivated.  What is un-changed in all this time is the characters that live in my head, clamoring for their story to be told.  I think they are frustrated by my just not getting it right, that I just don't know them well enough.  Hmmm.

It has been a bit of a desert for me, creatively speaking.  I have no design work, and no budget to do any designing at my own home.  I painted and re-arranged furniture, that lasted me well for about a week.  I miss the intellectual stimulation I got at school and when I was at The Clearing.  Maybe I need to take another class.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Pacing Myself

Focus.  That's what I need.  Every day, sure, but especially those days, like today, when my energy level is up, I am feeling super-motivated, and start thinking about all the fifty gabillion things I need to do and the myriad projects I can start.  My appetite for productivity is making my metaphoric eyes larger than my proverbial stomach.

First things first:  what are the things I absolutely MUST accomplish TODAY?  Start there.  If I get finished, move on down the list of importance.

Focus.  And don't burn myself out.