Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Step away; come closer.

While I was in Lancaster with Calvin last weekend, I took notes.

Of course she did! You’re probably saying.  And you might be inclined to ask, Why?

My answer is that it is my way.  It is the practice of a deep thinker, of a writer, to note what’s around her in hopes of it somehow weaving together on the page to form some kind of story that is something.  A story that really tells, really shows.

One of the most important notes I took on this trip was about the importance of breaking routine and providing experiences outside the norm for Angus and I as individuals and together as a couple and family.  It was really fitting when this thought came to me as I navigated the country roads of my childhood because the theme of our past few weeks has been one riddled with stress and anxiety, a battle for inner balance.  We have fallen into a sort of "grind,” a place I vowed a long time ago I would try to avoid.   Angus and I have had many discussions about how our lives have changed since having children.  We have been trying to renegotiate a life that is adventurous while still managing to be stable and predictable for the kids; we have been working hard to create something that fulfills everyone.  We've shared about what experiences we want to have, and while the talk has been great, there’s only so much I can talk about without doing.  The trip I took with Calvin was one of the first steps in our plan to “do,” and while I’m not saying traveling to Eastern PA/Amish country is an outrageous adventure, it did something to jolt me out of my funk and shed light on the fact that anything (well, almost anything) is possible.  I loved the entire, sometimes stressful, process of airport travel and revisiting special places of my past with a 4-year-old’s constant commentary.  It was simple stuff, but it was empowering.  It created a place inside me that felt completely alive and not the least bit like going-through-the-motions.  In moving away from our routine, I grew closer to an awake state of being.  Awake to my surroundings, to each moment, to my hopes and dreams.

Things I once considered unrealistic or ideas to save for later are starting to look possible, and my excitement has grown tremendously.  Some of the experiences on my own list, I’ve spent years talking about but have never scheduled.  Now, I am taking action, and have booked a weekend yoga retreat, signed up for a stand-up paddle board lesson, and bought a kit to learn how to create body henna.  The experiences on Angus’s list, one as simple as making more time for friends, are beginning to take shape, and I notice a visible difference in his mood when he comes home from these outings.  He is connecting in ways outside of work and our family, which is so important and often gets lost in the shuffle of life.  Some of the experiences we want for our family seem crazy to tackle with two kids under five.  We’ve been talked to about the horrors of camping and warned about taking toddlers to Europe.  But we are feeling optimistic and are in the mode of figuring out what we want to do and how to make it happen.  If it’s a time issue, we will wait.  If it’s a money issue, we will save.  But the issues aren’t stopping us from making plans, and even that feels more like true living than the grind.

It is amazing what a small break in the routine can make us realize about our lives and what experiences we want to provide for our families and ourselves.  Aside from the new understandings about what we want, what I love most about breaking the routine is that once you come back to it, it feels better.  It feels right.  Upon returning, I felt completely different – more present and open to receiving the pleasure of the day-to-day with two kids.  (OK, so it didn't last long, but I actually found Kyle's ear-piercing shrieks cute.)  Overall, I found that seeking a little something different helped me appreciate the same. 

The notes I take aren’t earth-shattering and may seem like little bits of insanity to another’s eye, but they matter.  They are little pieces of me, a way to speak the whole truth, to make observations, to document my journey.  They are notes about driving in storms and how the lightening flashed capturing a photograph of white knuckles and wheels on water.  They are summaries of weird recurring dreams where I lose someone or something and beg for its return.  They are jottings of travel bits like “download more to iPad” and “get a new car seat roller – one that doesn’t bruise my leg.”  They are notes about my soul’s connection to the country, to the endless rows of corn, towering trees, and open land.  They are documentations of Calvin’s new phrases like, “What are you laughing about, ladies?”  Woven together they are the song of an experience, a little gem of a ditty that just might change a life. 

Break the routine – you will love that you did.