Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Heartstrings



Loveys, tomorrow Lincoln graduates from preschool. Forever. He moves on to kindergarten and becomes a big kid and then he becomes a teenager and girls will be after that gorgeous brown-eyed boy, then he'll go to college and get married and I'll lose him forever.

Yes. I'm emotional about the whole thing.

I feel like kindergarten was a turning point for Ash. Becoming more independent, going to a bigger school, all that jazz. And I never quite got back that teeny baby girl. She kept right on growing. I know, in and of itself, this is a huge blessing. They're happy and healthy and they're meant to keep on growing. But sometimes, it tugs at your mama heartstrings until you hurt.

Maybe it's different for every mother, but for me, these heartstrings are being pulled tonight. Some stages are tougher than others, but I'm grateful for all of them. And I believe all those parents who have already been through it and tell me it goes by fast.

I went walking with my friend Nancy the other night and we were talking about how fast the school year has gone by. It seems like yesterday we were at Lincoln's orientation and they were talking about the end of the year program and how it would be here before we knew it. Truth. Now we're diving into summer and I know it will fly by. Because winter is long here in Colorado and we all want to squeeze out every drop of summer we can get before cold weather comes back. Today was Ash's last day of school. (Which was a good excuse to get Chinese take-out for dinner.) So it's beginning.

Lately I've been cramming a lot of things into a little amount of time. Do you ever find yourself doing that? On the downside, I'm convinced it makes the time go by even faster. On the flipside, sometimes we just have to.

I will miss these days.

Loveys, on another note, my Lily still has no teeth. What. Is. Going. On. She's more than 14 months old now and she does not have even one tooth. I confess that I am worried. I adore her of course and will forever, but what if the girl doesn't have any teeth? It didn't take this long for my other kids to have teeth come in, and all the other babies we know have lots of teeth. So, yes, I am feeling concerned. Teething is never fun and yet I am SO hopeful we get there soon. What can I do? #prayforbabyteeth









Thursday, May 19, 2016

As School Ends...

Loveys, in about four days, my kids will finish preschool and 2nd grade and I'll have a kindergartner and a 3rd grader. (Pause while I take a breath and try not to cry.) While we're super excited for summer, I've noticed both my kids getting emotional here at the end of school. Ash's teacher will not be back at our school, and one of Ash's best friends is moving this summer. Two major things that make Ash emotional whenever she mentions them. Linc doesn't want school to end. He loves his teacher and I think he's just sad that he won't see his friends every week. I'm ready for school to be out (I also start to twitch, however, when I think about ALL DAY EVERY DAY with the kiddos over here), but the reality that they are growing so much so fast, of course, can make me a little sad.

Time goes fast.

I'm sitting here, blogging, while I wait for friends to come over. Friends from a small group we were part of years ago (pre-kids). A few of us get to see each other this morning and I'm excited about it. But, gosh, it's another reminder of time passing. Life changing. Seasons that come and then move on like leaves in the wind. I'm glad for it--for the years of life and experience. But with that comes some nostalgia and a feeling of getting older.

So in just a few minutes, friends will fill my house and we'll make sandwiches and feed kids and  hear the sounds of yelling and laughing (probably crying and screaming at some point). Lily will throw her lunch on the floor. Kids will come in and out and in and out of the back door. I'll most likely have a second cup of coffee after lunch (and a cookie, despite my diet, sadness). And tonight I'll be tired and Jeff will help clean up. And another day will have passed.

We're right on the brink of summer, which means Texas is in my future in just another month or so. More time with precious family and friends. FOOD--have mercy. China Delight. Margaritas. Catfish. LOTS of heat and humidity.

Bring it.

Bible studies with friends. Laura and Wes coming to visit. VBS. Trips to the mountains. Camping in the backyard. Outlander book club (YES PLEASE) with drinks and appetizers and maybe some chocolate fondue. Then summer will come to an end, and my little blondie will head to 3rd grade. For Linc, we'll make a big deal out of getting ready for kindergarten. He'll go to a much bigger school than he's used to, bonus, he gets to go to school with Ash. It's all very exciting, of course.

What do you want your summer to look like, lovey? I read a really good article about a family that scaled back one summer. Erased all the busy activities from the schedule so there was lots of room for playtime and down time. For the Bruce family, there are experiences and goals I have for summer, but most everything will just flow with us, not the other way around. We'll add in things here and there, but the overall feeling of summer will be laid-back. It's how we roll. Family and friends and playing all day in the backyard (with popsicle breaks)--that's what summer will hopefully look like over here. And when it ends, we'll be sad. But excited for school and fall. All good things.

The next several weeks are busy as we finish school, I finish an editing job and dive into edits and rewrites for my book (the one coming out next summer! Happiness!), then get ready for company and VBS.

Last night, I was cleaning the kitchen, and Jeff and I were talking about the future. Not the immediate future, but a little farther down the road. We can talk and dream together, and we'll see what happens and where God takes us because you just never know. As a girl growing up in Texas, the thought of living in Colorado and working for a decade as a book editor never even entered my mind. But God gives us adventures, and I love it. I love dreaming with Jeff, and falling asleep with a prayer for my kids on my lips. To me, that's everything.

Loveys, summer is just about here for us. I hope it's all you wish it will be.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Writer's Block


I hate writer's block. I hate feeling like I've hit a wall and can't think of a thing to write. I hate opening up a work-in-progress and staring at a blank screen. The thing about writer's block is that you feel . . . lost. You can't find your words. You can't seem to find your way. So you just coast for a while because that's all you can do. (I live there all the time.)

Do you know that feeling, lovey?

There are things you want to do, but at the moment, you don't want to start. There are dreams floating around somewhere, but you'll chase them later.

I think coasting is just fine every now and then. I know for myself, there are times I need to free up my schedule, take a step back, reevaluate what I'm doing and who I'm doing it for.

Sometimes we need to go find inspiration.

Sometimes it finds us. (I especially appreciate this because I'm really too tired to go hunting for inspiration.)

Sometimes I need to throw things away. Sometimes I feel a desperate need to just go buy anything.

We can be crazy people, lovey. (I speak for myself here.)

Do you ever feel like you still need to find yourself? A girlfriend and I were talking about this the other day--how for so many people, they found their niche in their twenties. They came into their own. But for other women, it happens in their thirties. I'm now thinking that this happens every decade. And that can be a good thing. We can rediscover who we are. (Or maybe discover ourselves for the first time.)

Does the same passion we had in our twenties carry over . . . or . . . just maybe . . . are we allowed to find new passions?

So this week, I was looking through an old trunk of mine and I found a journal. I was shocked because I'm terrible at journaling, but apparently I was good at it during one of my college years. I read through the journal, reminiscing. The thing about journaling is that we're usually writing out all our confusion and heartbreak and doubts. And reading it later makes me feel two things: annoyed at how ridiculous it all sounds and annoyed by the fact that some doubts and insecurities never go away.

So I threw it away.

I've done this before. I found some old journals in my closet before I got married. It was the same nonsensical stuff--I read through them, reminisced a little, then threw them away.

We don't live there anymore, lovey.

My mother journals--just a little bit--each day on a calendar. She doesn't write much, obviously, because everything has to fit into one of those tiny squares. I've started doing the same thing on a day planner, and I like that better. I flip back through it and just see snippets of my life--drinks with Nancy on Tuesday. Lunch date with Marianne at Kneaders. Lily started clapping. Baked ziti for dinner. Coffee with Ryanne. Mailed Michelle's birthday card. Game of Thrones on Sunday. Journey group. Teacher Appreciate Week. And so on and so on. I actually like to flip through my mother's calendars and see what she writes. She told me last week that she found a (really) old calendar she'd written in and the snippets looked like this: Sara played at Miriam's house. Miriam played at our house. Church services.

Moments that fill up our lives.

My mom read me some of the things she'd written down and my thought was, Wow! That was a lifetime ago.

And it really was. A different time, a different season. My parents are different now. And yet, my parents are the same.

It's true for us all, lovey. We're different now, but we're the same. As I read through that old journal, I could see myself as clear as day, walking around campus, worrying about finances, trying so hard to find who I was.

I recognize that girl. She's me. But . . . I've changed. Of course I have. It's been years. But some of who she was lingers in me. And that's fine. I look at Ashtyn, who I adore, and I know she'll change as she grows. But who she is, that little girl with a tender heart and a huge imagination, I don't want all of that to vanish as she grows. It'll probably manifest itself in different ways, but as her mom, I hope I can still see it. I hope I can find it in her, and help her find those parts of who she is, if she ever needs me to.

Self-discovery is a process. Sometimes, as time passes, we stumble upon a new career or a new hobby that becomes extremely fulfilling to us. Maybe a woman spends decades raising her kids, then they move away and she finds her niche. Or maybe she had it all along, and squeezed it in among everything else going on. Or maybe she had one career for years, and decides to try something new because why not?

We're free to pursue new passions, lovey. This matters to me. We're free. To shake off any perceptions of us and just be who we are in this moment. To make big changes and small changes. Maybe you need to make a new friend. Maybe you need to give yourself space from someone who isn't a good friend to you.

Here's an idea. When you have the energy, cook something you've never made before. Read a book from a different genre than you normally stick with (make sure there are good reviews for it. And if you get halfway in and you don't like it, it's okay to stop). Change up one room in your house. It can be small, maybe a bathroom or laundry room. Buy new nail polish.
 
I'm in a place in my life that, honestly, feels very monotonous. We're talking wash, dry, repeat. (Laundry is not my favorite, btw.) Breakfast, swim lessons, snack time, lunch time, nap time (which rarely goes as I hope), dinner time, homework, clean up the disaster that occurs at every meal, bedtime.

Repeat.

It can make me a little crazy. But I'm okay with it for the most part . . . because I'm a mother and right now, this is my season.

Still, it's not the complete picture of who I am. And who I am becoming.

Through Facebook, we can see glimpses into people's lives who we've known for years, maybe since high school or even beyond. Do you ever see glimpses of someone you knew years and years ago, and you're amazed by how they've changed? I definitely have. There are people I knew for just one season of their life, and looking at them now, they seem like different people. Their beliefs have changed completely. The things they are so passionate about now were never even mentioned when you knew them.

We change.
 
It's true for nearly all of us, in one way or another. 

It's okay to find a new passion. (I'm talking hobby or career here, lovey! Don't drop the guy! . . . Unless you need to, and only you can know that.) It's okay to dig deep when it comes to faith and find out what you truly believe--apart from how you were raised or what's popular in our culture. It's good to dig deep and find a faith that is your own. It's great to dream of new ideas.

Guess what. You can be a mom (or grandparent!) and still be a dreamer. Finding time and resources to pursue new things can be hard (believe me, I know this), but there's a time for everything.

Be a dreamer.

That is the only antidote I've found for writer's block. Dreaming. Thinking out new scenarios. Playing with characters in my head. Reading something new and fresh. Tasting something different.

So it's fine to be a dreamer. And BE A DOER.

(I still have to do laundry even though it's the worst.)

My friend just turned thirty and we were talking about this next chapter of her life. That got me thinking. I'm sort of smack-dab in my current chapter of kids and toddler-hood. The next big change for me will probably be hitting forty. That's a few years away (thank goodness), but it's on the horizon. Who will I be in my forties? Should I start a new career change? Should I get my master's degree? (If I really ask you this, talk me out of it.) Where should I go? Should we move? (If I ask you this, tell me I'm crazy.)

But really, I want to be open to anything.

Some days are very monotonous. Some days feel like an adventure. If you flip through one of my mom's calendars from when my sisters and I were growing up, you'll see both. I know this is what life is made of.

(Side note: Have you ever seen that movie Chasing Liberty? I LOVE when Mandy Moore says, "I want to find passion!" as she wanders off. Then Ben runs into someone and says, "Sorry. We're just--um--looking for passion." Adorable.)

Loveys, I've had writer's block lately. In writing, in life. It happens. Sometimes we coast. We need to shake off things that aren't working. Sometimes we fly. (Then we get back home post-vacation and collapse.)

Sometimes, we need to go in the bathroom, shut the door, and cry it out.

Then we start dreaming. We start writing again. We keep living. We change and grow along the way. Life looks different season after season. We look different.

Life is all the moments. We can rediscover who we are, who we should be, what we want, what we need, what we can do, how we can help others, how we want to be remembered. We can love the people around us better. We can give up on some things that may need to be released. We can start fresh with others. We can take a day off from regular life and just breathe. We can jump back in and do what we have to.

We can pursue new passions if we want to, lovey.

We really can.