This just in! A new interview is up over at the Get Inspired! Project.
And now, today's entry ~
I feel like I am waking up from a period of hibernation, easing back into the world slowly, mindfully, and with an awareness of how easy it is for me to slide into a mindset of trying to do and be so much to so many people that, before I know it, I have migraines every week. It took me many months and many migraines before I realized, "Hey, this is a migraine!", all the while thinking it was just a "really bad headache". I am now grateful for those migraines, grateful for the message they gave me. The message was simple: Too much going out, not enough going in.
Thanksgiving weekend around here was an exuberantly quiet affair. My husband and I broke tradition, and instead of letting it be known that our table had room for everyone, we closed our doors. Every year our Thanksgiving plans have come together last minute, where the week before we're not sure who will be with us, but by the day before we have a guest list of at least ten. It's always festive, loud, cozy and fun. Candles, turkey, stuffing - the works. This year we knew weeks ago what we would be doing: Nothing. We enjoyed our Thanksgiving dinner the night before at one of our favorite restaurants, and the next day, when so many kitchens were a flurry of activity, we went on a bicycle ride, read our books, played music and enjoyed a succulent, mouth-watering pizza. We felt giddy, like we were two rebellious teenagers, like we were playing hooky from adulthood.
Every year my husband writes me a letter for my birthday. This idea was mine, and I always have to remind him to do it, but I love them all the same - single page capsules of a year of our life. This year my husband wrote about the main story lines we have written together over the past twelve months, and it is quite a list. The one that stood out for me is the one I have chronicled most right here in this blog - the story of our home, and how many people have set up camp here since last spring. I do not look back at any of those experiences with any regret, and I know ours will always be a house of activity - of family and friends, of gatherings and dinner parties. It is who we are, it is what we are good at, and we get a lot of joy out of providing a safe haven for those we love. This will not ever go away, and I would not want it to.
I don't want to follow those statements up with a "but", so I will say this - that as much as our social proclivities make up the fabric of who we are, we learned this year that we have to be careful to take care of ourselves - of our marriage - in the same way we strive to take care of those we love. It was so easy to lose ourselves in the midst of friends needing a home or a place to stay and events like a wedding, all on top of our own work and personal responsibilities. It wasn't until our house cleared out and we stood facing each other that we realized our relationship was in desperate need of the care and attention we had given so many others over the past many months, and this was why we kept our entire Thanksgiving weekend to ourselves. We had to get to know each other again; in a way, I felt like we were dating.
One repeating cycle of our weekend - of our every day, in fact - that has been bringing all of this into sharp focus has been our morning routine. I come downstairs, fill the kettle with water and occupy myself with various mundane tasks as it heats up for a french press I fill with fresh coffee. I empty the dishwasher, get the newspapers from out front, grab dishes we might have left in our family room the night before and hang up coats. It is the time of year when the sun streams through two of our kitchen windows with special intensity, so when my husband sits down at our kitchen table it casts a bright, golden glow on his face. The water boils, I fill the coffee pot, a few minutes later I pour him a cup of coffee and heat up a small pot of milk for mine. When I sit down, we read the paper quietly, sharing articles and editorials of interest, enjoying the silence, the sun, and each other. We begin our day quietly, and it looks pretty much the same every morning, but over the past few weeks I have been taking a moment to stand still and soak it all in, to enjoy the sight of my husband at our table, to be grateful that we found each other and now share a beautiful home that has so much love in every crack and crevice.
So I am waking up right now to a different approach, a slightly adjusted mindset that understands while there is no limit to the love I can let into my life, there are limits to time and energy, and I will be in the best service of that love if I do a better job at balancing what I send outward with what I pull inward. It has been a slightly uncomfortable experience to sit still with no big goals, projects or trips to focus on. It has been a challenge to wake up each day and create the smallest to do list as possible rather than the most ambitious, the most comprehensive. My life has become an exercise in doing less, in simplifying in every possible place, in taking care of myself as well as I strive to take care of so many others. And in the midst of all that, there are my mornings, where there are no requirements beyond making coffee, feeling the warmth of the sun through my windows, and telling my husband I love him.