A Word and a Winner

Happy New Year’s everyone, and yes, I’ll get to the “word” portion of this post, but first – a winner for my first ever giveaway!

Completely random fishbowl drawing.

Completely random fishbowl drawing.

Kath from the fabulous blog, Minuscule Moments of Inspiration, is the lucky recipient of our random drawing for the book, Gluten-Free Me! A book about celiac for kids, which I reviewed the other week.

Gotta love the mismatched Hello Kitty pjs.

Gotta love the mismatched Hello Kitty pjs.

Please try not to notice how I misspelled my abbreviation of "minuscule."

Please try not to notice my misspelled abbreviation. Handwriting doesn’t come with spellcheck, unfortunately.

Congrats to Kath, but also a huge and genuine THANK YOU to all who entered. After reading everyone’s comments, I really wanted to give everyone a copy. Hopefully, I’ll be able to do more reviews and giveaways in the future. Stay tuned.

Now, for the word… Or rather, many words leading up to the word…

Last year I decided instead of making a resolution I’d chose one word (inspired by this blog) to define and inspire my new year. The word I picked was, nurture. When I was first thinking about this post, it didn’t seem like I had made much of a dent in my goal. After all, one salon hair cut, a handful of manicures, and one Sephora.com make up order didn’t seem like much. But when I gave it more thought, I realized I had done a better job than I gave myself credit for. (Typical.)

What had initially come to mind was the superficial kind of nurture (not that there’s anything wrong with that), but I also made time to nurture my dreams and goals. For example, in the fall of 2013 I attended a writer’s conference where I didn’t know a single person and spent two days immersing myself into a world I had been afraid to reenter.

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I spoke with literary agents about my novel manuscript (hiding in a safe, oh the irony!) for over five years and even read the first page of it during a panel. I was absolutely taken aback when I received some positive comments. And later, after an agent gave me her card I went into a bathroom stall and did a silent scream/happy dance. When I got home, I felt giddy, invigorated, determined, scared, and excited. I pulled out the manuscript and read it through for the first time.

I read Dani Shspiro’s inspiring book, Still Writing (I can’t recommend this enough) and felt like she was speaking to me. There is a passage in the book about procrastination, ah you old false friend, that hit a nerve for me. I didn’t want to procrastinate anymore. I started to feel an urgency that had escaped me before. Time was passing by and if I didn’t start taking my writing life seriously now, when would I?

During this time I decided to work with a life coach – something I never thought I’d do, but I’m so glad I did. Brainstorming ways to improve ME.

If all that isn’t the definition of nurture I don’t know what is.

So, what could be my word for 2014? I thought about balance because I’m struggling to find that right now between mothering and writing. But balance didn’t feel quite right. That word evoked a scale, a shifting of weights, an unevenness, the impossible task of making everything come out even. But most times in life it doesn’t. One side will always tip higher or lower. Since I’ve never been good at multi-tasking, I started to feel anxious. How could I do both? But then I realized something obvious and freeing: I can do both – just not at the same time.

As Kath wrote in her poignant New Year’s post, I See You, I’m a mother first and a creative second. I can’t afford to be lost in my head thinking of plot points or researching dialogue techniques while my children vie for my attention. Both of us lose if I try to multi-task. I’m resentful for being interrupted and my children are resentful at being seen as interruptions.

What Bunky and I can do when I'm present.

What Bunky and I can do when I’m present.

I just read Joan Didion’s wrenching memoir, Blue Nights, a follow up to her equally gutting and flawless, The Year of Magical Thinking. Spoiler alert – kind of, while the first book is about the sudden death of her husband and the illness of her daughter, the second is about her daughter’s death and Didion’s own mortality. She spends much of the book in the past, exploring and dissecting memories of her daughter, Quintana. Part of her wonder and pain revolves around how much time she spent working (i.e. writing) during her daughter’s young life. It’s not so much about regret, but about lost chances. The lost chances of not having been as present as she might have liked for her daughter. Here’s a quote from the book that struck me (italics are hers):

Brush your teeth, brush your hair, shush I’m working.

I get it. I do it. I want to think about my writing, I want to jot down some notes. And sometimes I do. But often at a cost.

What a tug of war us mothers go through.

All this aside, what about the word? I considered perseverance, which is something I will need to finish the edit of my novel and keep writing. But again, no. Too cumbersome, too bulky in the mouth, in my mind. I know, I’m nuts. It’s an English major thing.

Then while helping Little Guy go down for a nap, a time when I’m alone with my thoughts (unless I reach for my cell phone) I figured it out.

open

I imagined what my word should look like, and I saw myself standing with my arms wide open, reaching as if to embrace my children, reaching for the sky. I want to be open to being a present mother, to being a present writer, open to all the possibilities of life.

What do you think your word might be? What does it look like to you?

Top 5 Posts of 2012

For my blog, 2012 didn’t really begin until May when my infant son turned 6 months old. That’s when I managed to pull my head out from under a mound of diapers to try to find myself amid the rubble of having a second kid.

I never would have thought that the second post I wrote after a half year hiatus (and before that, only a handful of sporadic posts) would be the #1 most popular post on my blog…

1. One Year Anniversary

This post was emotional for me to write (and read) since it really brought me back to my daughter’s celiac diagnosis that came just days after she turned three. Now we are only four months away from her 5th birthday. What a transformation in my girl, and in our lives.

On Christmas morning, thrilled with her new gift.

2. First Week of School Lunches Gluten Free

Who can forget my obsessive documentation of Bunky’s first week of school lunches? Um, probably most normal people, but here it is in case you’re curious. I may look through it for inspiration since we are in a total food rut. Shocking, I know.

First day of school pose.

Awesome first day of school pose.

3. When Your Kid Gets Glutened

Another tear jerker for me. I don’t think I have ever seen my daughter more terrified than when she realized the cupcake she was eating was full of gluten. Our lives are still effected by what happened at that birthday party. Bunky refuses to eat anything that other people prepare for her. In some ways I feel like it broke a piece of her trust with me, since I was the one who gave her the go-ahead to eat that crappy cupcake. Yes, mistakes happen, I know. But they still suck.

4. Cranberry Orange Muffins

On a lighter note, my husband had his GF baking dream come true (not counting croissants) when I made him these. I think it’s pretty funny (and great) that one of top ways people found my site was by searching for cranberry orange muffins. Who knew they were so sought after? Well, I guess my husband did. But don’t go telling him that.

Yes, he was that excited.

5. Pumpkin Addiction: A Round-up plus a Recipe

I’m not surprised that this one was popular. I just made pumpkin muffins this morning, so clearly my addiction is still on. Though it was temporarily surpassed by peppermint bark. If you want a flashback to when pumpkin was splattered all over the internet, check it out. There’s also an awesome recipe for pumpkin chai oatmeal cookies by my super talented baker/seamstress cousin Peeps.

pumpkin-cookies-1Now it’s time for a rather belated but completely genuine and heartfelt THANK YOU to you for reading my posts. Seriously. For a while there I felt like I was writing to myself, and that was okay, but writing to actual human beings is way better. So thank you again.

Happy (almost) New Year! Hope to see you all lots in 2013.

-Dana (mom to Bunky, the Celiac Kiddo, and not-so-new arrival Little Guy + wife to my husband, and beyond all that, an actual human being who loves to write)

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