Monday, January 7, 2013

We're Settling

We're officially living in Seattle. We have an address. The post office knows we live here, I have a mommy group I go to on Thursdays, Chris has his daily commute, and the kids are making friends. Our house is quickly becoming a home - pictures up on the walls, craft corners waiting to create new things, kitchen slowly filling with yummy food, freezer slowly filling with a hearty stock of what I like to call "bad day back ups". The smell of obligatory new paint is wearing off, the neighbors now wave instead of stare, and the back yard is scattered with miscellaneous balls, rakes, and buckets as the kids make their own little mark.

It's not hard for me to make a place a home - goodness knows I've had plenty of practice. Sure, I still get lost when I'm driving, I still don't have a plan for tomorrow (as in literally tomorrow, not metaphorically speaking), and we've only just begun to scratch the surface of all the amazing things there are to do in this city. Still, it's beginning to look like home.

As I sit here in our cozy living room, on my pea green chair from Goodwill (ye afraid of bedbugs, pretend you didn't read that),  with a cup of Earl Gray perched beside me, listening to Chris play his guitar, knowing the babies are tucked warmly in bed, I pause for a moment - calling my soul to  breathe deeply once again. It's easy to breathe deeply of the big moments, the striking moments, even the difficult moments - but it's restorative to breathe deeply of the peaceful ones.

It's the time of year when people talk about Resolutions, when they discuss what thing they're going to do or not do - I see it in advertisements, hear it in church sermons, read it in fashion magazines. And I think it's a beautiful idea - I blogged last year about how much Kenyans love the New Year for the immense hope it brings. I think Americans feel the same - perhaps not only hope, but more of a strong motivation catalyzed by our public recognition of time progressing in it's ever consistent linear fashion. Motivated by time slipping away, and somehow still rising up in front of us - at least for now.

I think resolutions are wonderful - here are mine:
* vegetarian dinner once a week
* salad dinner once a week (and this doesn't count as the vegetarian one)
* one homemade snack a week (banana bread, granola bars, yogurt, etc)
* grow a garden/get involved in a community garden
* have daily devotions
* work out 5 times a week
* do a craft or activity with the kids every day
* go camping at least once a month
* go to some event in Seattle once a month
* get involved in a Church
* get involved in a mommy group
* read more
* swear less (this may need to influence my choices for the prior list item)
* send cards for anniversaries and birthdays
* respond to emails within a week of getting them
* get to know our neighbors
* finish my half started sewing projects, start new ones
* successfully start a financialyl viable hobby of refinishing furniture

I could keep going. At about 'work out 5 times a week', we all probably realized I'm absolutely unrealistic in this endeavor - that while my intentions are good, the time in my day is simply not enough to accomplish all these goals. And a quick scan of my goals reveal some gaping holes...what's his name? that husband of mine? Oh yeah, he should probably be on here somewhere...I could be a better wife.  (Somedays I have it pretty nailed, though...)

In all seriousness - I do have goals in mind, and we'll see how well I do. But I have no anticipation of accomplishing all of them. And as I look at this list, and recognize the immense amount of time and energy it would take to even accomplish half of them, I find myself asking another question.

What are the things I learned last year, the ways I grew last year, the habits I formed last year that are worth consciously keeping?

Life often pushes us to the limit - and we form a habitual response to whatever stressors or comforts we're currently facing; some good, some not so great. And I think it's easy, when those stressors or comforts dissipate, when the trigger is gone - to lose not only the bad formed responses, but also the good.

When we were living in Nairobi, I often forced myself to take mental steps backwards from my life, to implement a habit of internal thankfulness for the dozens of tiny 'goods' in every day. I don't do that as much here - a quick prayer of thanks for the big basics, and I'm ready to keep going. But attention to the minutia proved to be character changing, and it's a forced response I would do well to consciously continue pursuing.

People talk a lot about not living in the past, and I agree - the New Year is an excellent time to look forward, to dream big, to enjoy now and trust tomorrow will be even better. But tomorrow brought us here - whether by gentleness or force, and as simplistic as it may seem, is worth a pause to remember. And maybe, if we've done it right (at least a bit of it), worth building on.


 

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