Three Mornings

The thermometer in my car has not read higher than 8 degrees since Sunday. My mornings have been consumed by weather in ways I can’t remember acknowledging before. Typically I get ready for work and leave my house with few moments of staying present. I am quick to dress and pour coffee in my to-go cup. I am quick to strap up my boots and get to my car. I am quick to turn off lights and lock the door behind me. Everything about my mornings is centered on quickness. But this week has been abnormal. The cold weather has found me procrastinating what I should be focused on, looking for excuses to stay inside. Three consecutive mornings I found myself on the couch with my coffee, savoring a few moments of morning silence. Once I caught myself looking at my boots on the rug, thinking that the salt stains add a chapter of intimacy to their story; the weather they have encountered has heightened their awareness of inner-strength. I have slowed my morning routine just enough to notice my mother’s reflection in my eyes as I’m applying make-up.  I have also recognized it is a personal challenge to slow my pace. My natural speed is not lackadaisical. But in taking hold of these small moments to shift from drive to neutral, I have discovered another layer of my day I didn’t have before. A sweet and salty layer that belongs to only me.  winter bootsBlue chair and mughouse plants 1

 

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Michigan Women

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It is bitter weather today. Walking outside reminds me instantly that winter life in Michigan is not for the weak. There is a woman who lives across the road from us, who, each day starts her snow blower and clears her driveway. Her daughter stands on the porch, a pair of eyes peaking from her neck warmer and hat, watching her mother, amazed. I look at the two of them and think, women in the Midwest are pretty amazing. We possess a strength that is inherited from watching the women before us survive. We learn to take care of ourselves and our families without complaining. We survive together with knit mittens and knee high boots.   We are a community that will not give up. We are strong. And when I think of Michigan in this way, my story becomes more than bitter weather and snow blower fumes.  My story comes alive; and I am no longer tired. I am ready.

Memories of the Sun on a Cloudy Day

It’s hard in the winter. You start to go a little nuts. You start to think Michigan is a terrible place. The only thoughts that consume you are negative. But that’s not good for the spirit. And it’s also not entirely true. The reality is that what is NOW, will not always be. So we have to hold on to hope and try to make the best of it. There is sunshine in people and conversations, warm soup and dark beer, in a Christmas tree still decorated for the season and lingering traces of wrapping paper beneath. There is sunshine in coffee and friendships, and sunshine in pictures, too, that hold the memories of a season long past. So we hold on here in Michigan and we love a little extra, because more than anything else, there is sunshine in our love.  She Knew Right Away

Not So Wordless Wednesday.

On day we looked at our new house, Sean and I came home feeling lot’s of emotions. The biggest was a shared need for escape from the city. The sun had been tucked behind clouds for days, and suddenly seeing it in the sky we had to grab our coats and hats, and go play under it! So where do we go when things get tough and need fresh perspective? Pickerel Lake, of course.

I have never hiked hiked the lake in the fall before. And this time, instead of taking the path that winds around the lake, we went higher into the woods, where I quickly learned that Sean’s long legged pace leaves me gasping for air and running to catch up. The entire time we hiked we talked about the house we had just seen. We talked it about like it was already ours. I said to Sean that we should be careful about getting our hopes up like it already happened. And Sean told me to think positively and send our confidence into the world through our speech habits. I smiled, remembering how we had met in a literature class, and how this part of our beings will always find a way into our lives. Even in conversations about houses there is language to discuss.

Leaving Pickerel Lake we felt content. We had found the peace we were seeking. And the next day, we got the house.
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Thoughts on Our Sudden Move

My lull in writing in this blog can be attributed to life becoming unexpectedly busy. Sean called me some afternoons ago mentioning a house for rent. While we had briefly discussed the idea of moving from our complex, it wasn’t an idea I was actively pursuing. However, tired of the neighbors upstairs and weary from crating groceries as Sean was, and fueled from hearing my complaints of a laundry-machine-less home, Sean, unbeknownst to me, had been scouring rentals for some weeks. So, when he called about a home for rent, I was instantly surprised and super curious. Sean is certainly a doer and he certainly never says anything without strong intention. Knowing this, I took his interest to heart and said, “yeah, sure. Let’s drive by.” Which, we did later that night. And after seeing and loving, we expedited our opportunities by nagging the rental placement agency until they promised to allow us to be the first to look at it. Which was all it took: that one look inside, for us to know that we had to have this house to grow in our first years of marriage.

I believe in feelings and first glances. That is, after all, how I knew Sean was the one for me. Why would our first little home be any different?

We spent last week moving and unpacking, and now with only my wedding dress, a tall plant, and some various boxes waiting to be moved from our old apartment, I can say with certainty that this new house already feels like home. Tonight, Sean and I will head to our apartment to clean and gather our lingering possessions. It will be sad to walk out. I always think about the last episode of Mary Tyler Moore when they close the lights on the newsroom. Moves always feel that way to me: sad, but thoughtful. I know I’ll get sentimental about our first apartment in the city, that’s just who I am. It was the place Sean came back to me after a long summer abroad. It was the place we had our first disagreement. It was the place Sean played his guitar late into the evening each night. It was the place I hosted parties and showers for my best friends. It was the place we learned patience, where we grew fresh tomatoes, where we sat for dinner each night. It was the place I found peace in the quiet mornings. It was the place we came to after our proposal. It was our place. But I will be ready, when the lights turn off in our apartment, to head home to our cute new home. Because we have a new place now, for new memories and room for growth.

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Spaces::: The Blue Chair and Morning Coffee

This entry was written on Sunday, but posted on a Thursday. Some weeks are like that.

There is a blue car that sits in the corner of our apartment. I bought it one rainy morning, on a whim, when my friend, Tracy and I were wandering World Market. We had to have a man help us put it in her car, but he wasn’t listening and said it couldn’t be done. We decided to just put it in ourselves. Yes folks, it could be done. And so after shoving it in the car, we brought it home. I remember it was the first bigger, more expensive item I had purchased since Sean and I had moved in together. I was kind of afraid he would be mad at me for buying it. But he wasn’t. He silently got his tool kit from the closet and started putting it together. Now, some days when I come home he is sitting in it, reading or playing his guitar, and it makes me very happy, to see this item a staple in our home, to see all the random things we’ve purchased, all coming together to make our home.

This blue chair is the best place to sit and drink coffee. But I don’t always have the opportunity to appreciate it like I wish. So when I do come to this chair, on Sundays normally, I come quietly, before Sean has risen, while the heaters hum and clank, and I simply sit. On this particular Sunday the sun has come out for the first time in almost a week. It comes pouring into our space, and I look at the streaks on our wood floors realizing I should probably sweep. But it seems there is always something to do, something to finish, something to clean. And this morning I am at peace. I don’t have time for worry; I’m too busy drinking coffee. 220 221 222It’s almost the weekend…I think I can, I think I can, I think I can….

This Fall I Am…

This Fall, I Am….223224120226Abiding strictly to our Dave Ramsey financial plan
And repeating this money-saving mantra over and over again: “it will be worth it, it will be worth it, it will be worth it.” 
Sipping tea, and lots of it!
Impatiently waiting for my favorite fall boots to be fixed.
Creating our wedding stationary(!!!!)
Struggling with the late darkness of morning.
Counting down the days until out trip West.
Obsessing over The Tudors series.
Crafting each night.
Crocheting again.
Reading.

Loving all this wedding planning.
Simmering many soups.
Celebrating friends and marriages.

Life in this Place

When I walked in the door on Wednesday there was a note from Sean. It said that he had made me some soup, and then in bold letters it told me to “take it easy”. I knew what he meant. I knew he was telling me to lay down and not do anything. I knew he was worried I would begin cleaning up behind myself; clearing up the messes I’ve been too sick to take care of all week. I knew he meant I was not supposed to worry about my dirty soup bowl. I knew he would be mad at me and call me a control freak if I did any of these things, and I knew why. I needed a night of silence to myself; to lay on the futon and watch Mad Men, to take a hot shower and rinse the migraine from my body, to rest my feverish bones. So, I curled beneath my red fleece blanket, a gift from the woman whose children I cared for in Georgia, and followed his instructions. The week came and went with synchronized naps with the twins’ nap times, early bedtimes and plenty of reading a great new book in bed.

These past two weeks have the busiest of the year yet! And probably all of that busy is the reason for my poor health.   Many early mornings last week were consumed with coffee and finishing our save the dates, which I can’t wait to share once they’re in the mailbox.  Friday was dedicated entirely to planning and decorating for the bachelorette party. We had a friend staying with us two nights, followed by another visitor over the weekend. I wanted to pull my hair out on Thursday, but the power went out in our apartment. Despite the fact that I had a million things to do that night, I decided to let it go. There are some things you can’t control and this was one of them.  So I took as a sign from the heavens to relax. We found some candles deep in our junk drawer, poured some wine and played Rummikub by candle light. It was the calm I needed in the storm. But as busy as last week was, I feel accomplished looking back. It’s a good feeling to see the results of all your work.  But for now, I’ll head back to the couch for an afternoon of watching The Tutors and eating leftover soup. I’m milking Sean’s advice for as long as I can. 

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^^^This guy still thinks it’s party time ^^^DSCF8176DSCF8178

October::: Time

Phew! And just like that we blink and October is almost half-way through. How did that happen?  Last year, at this time, I was getting ready for my sister’s wedding. I remember thinking, how is my sister getting married? How? And now, one year later, I am addressing my own save-the-dates. I would not have guessed that for myself last year! No way.

Last year, at this time, I was still adjusting to the newness that follows moving in with your partner. This year, our lifestyle and patterns are defined. We know our bad habits and can work through the messes. We still eat dinners together each night. We are very happy being a family of two in our apartment in the city (well, maybe we have a slight itch to start looking for a new place, but that’s okay). Last year, I was thinking all about the number three, but this year, I am thinking two is just right. Two is me and Sean and that is enough right now.

Last year, the twins were sleeping two hours in the afternoon and there were toys strewn form here to there that they couldn’t and wouldn’t pick up on their own. This year, there is pre-school in the mornings, an hour nap in the afternoon and fun, pick-up your toy songs to inspire them to help a poor nanny out! Last year, they were adorable. This year, they still are. Last year, I was thinking, how could I live without seeing these faces everyday? This year, I still ask myself that same question, every single day. This year, I am still happy to be a full-time Nanny. I couldn’t imagine my days any other way.

Last year, I was only an auntie to two sweet little nieces. But, secretly, I was taking phone calls from both of my sisters who had little ones growing deep inside, stretching and taking form in their bellies. We weren’t telling people though, it was a secret that was growing deep inside of me, KILLING ME! This year, I have three beautiful nieces, one hilarious nephew, a cuddly little god-daughter and a new dog-niece out West. This is probably the coolest difference between this year and last. I love seeing my family grow around me. This baby boom of a year was beyond incredible.

Last year, I was wondering what was ahead of me. I was thinking, what will this year bring? And how will Sean & I progress? Where will we will live and how will we change? This year, I don’t have any questions. I know dates and times we have big occasions. But mostly, I know Sean & I will be together through it all, good bad & ugly, and that is enough for me. This year, like last, I was very, very happy. Before falling asleep last night Sean said, “Life is so good, Danielle. We are so lucky.” I can’t help but agree.

I love October. Every year.
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Life in that Moment

It had been a long time since I had seen my friend, Kate. Too long, if you had asked either of us. For years after I graduated high school I had kept in touch with my french teacher. I had found her inspiring all of those awkward years. Often the class she taught was the only one I could manage through. And even though I struggled in French, there was comfort in learning when she was the teacher. And then, graduation came and time passed and we would get together often on breaks. In this passing time, as I developed into my own, our relationship transitioned into a friendship. A very good friendship at that. So when she invited me last Friday to have a dinner celebration with her friends, I knew I would go no matter what plans had to be re-arranged. Sitting around a table with seven women, I was floored by each of them. Despite the paths we were each on, there were seven women coming together, bonding, laughing, challenging and wondering together. It was a powerful night for me to look at these faces and to feel nothing but content. Life was so good in that moment, sitting around a table with seven women.

Saturday morning came with a wake up from my sweet baby niece. My twin sister and I sat on the couch, drinking coffee and catching up. Then, a call from my mom encouraged us to get up, get dressed and get out the door! We had things to do! Off to the farmers market we went, sleeping baby in stroller to collect apples. Together we went to my grandma’s house to make applesauce. We had done this many years before, and the prospect of doing it again excited me. Looking around her kitchen at the generations surrounding me, I was floored by each of them. Despite the path we were each on, there were five women, coming together, bonding, laughing, challenging and wondering together. It was a powerful day for me to look at these faces and feel nothing but content. Life was so good in that moment, working in a kitchen with five women.

It was raining when I left my parents house on Saturday night. My little niece, Sloane, was snuggled in her car seat behind my driver’s seat, already in her pajamas for the night. I turned on a slow-paced, peaceful song from my i-pod and listened as her breaths slowed, fading in to the rain on my windshield, drip drip drip. Looking out to where my headlights ended in front of me, all I could think of was how small she seemed in this moment, of how dependent me she was, of how much love I had for her. It was just she and I in that moment. Looking in the rearview mirror, at the small lady behind me, I was floored by her. Despite the path that she will take in life, I will continue to do things for her intentionally to bring us together, so that we may bond, laugh, challenge and wonder together. It was a powerful night for me to look at her face and feel nothing but content. Life was so good in that moment, driving home with that one little lady.

On Sunday, I volunteered to spend the afternoon with my brother’s daughters. Five and three years old, they are growing all too quickly for their Aunt D’s liking. But each time I see them, they run to me with hugs and love (and if they don’t I force them to anyway). Once their parents were out the door, I cranked the volume on the CD player and the wild rumpus began. We latched hands and spun in a circle, giggling and falling to the floor. Laying on the floor, heads touching, I was floored by the two of them. Despite the path that I have been on these past few years, they have have always been there for me. Always we come together, bonding, laughing, challenging and wondering together. It was a powerful day for me to look at their sweet faces and feel nothing but content. Life was so good in that moment, laying on the living room floor with these little pumpkins.

My weekend home was amazing. And not because of anything I necessarily did but because of who I did it with. What would I do without all of these women in my life. Damn, I am lucky.