It’s that time of year again, the whole resolution thing, but I do better with words. Specifically, One word…
Check out my word of the year over at my new blog, Writing at the Table.
Hope to see you there!
Bunky graduated from kindergarten. I can’t believe it. I feel like we just took this picture of her before the first day, all of us so nervous and excited.
And then, bam. The year’s over. Here she is in her 1950s inspired graduation outfit: a kinda lame homemade poodle skirt, my shirt, a cute scarf from Target.
Graduation, or any public performance, is really hard on our girl. She has debilitating anxiety about being in front of an audience, which is heartbreaking since she loves singing and dancing. (When she got home, she sang me the entire graduation song, “Count on Me” by Bruno Mars, which makes me cry every time I hear it since it was also her preK grad song.) But she made it on stage for her graduation, in front of an enormous room of beaming adults. She ducked down, hiding between the rows of kids, but when I gestured to her from the sidelines, she wouldn’t come to me, and I’m really proud of her for that. My tender, sensitive girl. I hope her anxieties lessen over the years.
After grad, my husband escaped, I mean went to work, and I took the kids to a sprinkler playground. On the way back, Little Guy wriggled out of the stroller so he could walk with his big sister. It’s not the best picture, but it captures a little slice of our city life.
Which I’m rather devastated to say, we will be LEAVING in a matter of weeks.
Yes, that’s right, we’re joining the ranks of city deserters and moving out of Brooklyn. I know it’s the right thing for our family – we need more space, inside and out, and city life is funneling away all our funds, but I have to say I’m really struggling with this upcoming change.
My husband will still be commuting to Brooklyn for his job, so in a way he is only half leaving, but I will be living full time in a town where I know not a soul, in a geography that will be entirely new to navigate. To a woman who craves routine and familiarity (even when it has long stopped serving its purpose) this is HUGE.
I’m excited, too, because the area we’re moving to, New Hope, Pennsylvania, feels like it could very well live up to its name, and we already ate some fantastic gluten free pizza in nearby Doylestown, which may be where we end up, but my heart is already aching for Brooklyn.
Part of this is just my personality, all my Cancer crab homebody tendencies. I like to hunker down, I prefer the comfort of my comfort zone. It also makes sense because Brooklyn is not simply a place, but my past. It’s where I spent the careless carefree days of my youth, where I met my husband. It’s where I’ve been raising my children.
Saying goodbye to Brooklyn is, in a way, like saying goodbye to a part of my life, it’s like saying goodbye to a piece of me.
I did some math recently (crazy, I know) and realized I’ve spent over 13 years living in Brooklyn, the same amount of time I spent in my childhood home from the age of 5 to 18 when I left for college. No wonder this impending move feels so significant.
This isn’t the first time we’ve left Brooklyn. A year after Bunky was born we moved in with my dad in New Jersey to regroup. As hard as it was for us to leave back then, we knew that we were coming back. But this time, we’re not.
I’m starting to feel a sense of urgency and panic, as if I somehow have to squeeze in all the things I haven’t done yet or recently, before we go. I’m feeling guilty, too, for not taking full advantage of living alongside Manhattan, and for neglecting the wonders Brooklyn has to offer beyond my neighborhood.
I can hear the clock ticking. Time is running out. Our apartment is in contract (holy crap!) and we haven’t yet found a new place to live (cue hyperventilation here). There are so many logistics to work out when it comes to moving a family – finding doctors, registering for school, sniffing out gluten free grocery stores, seeking out playgrounds, pools, parks, and of course, new friends.
[Pausing here to breath inside a paper bag.]
It will all “work out” as my husband and my brain keeps telling me, but I’m person who shrinks with fear at change, who shudders at novelty, to whom the term limbo is not merely a game to avoid at parties, but a place I try never to visit. Yet here I am LIVING INSIDE IT.
Which is probably good for me, right? To venture outside my comfort zone, to be uncomfortable. Because growth hurts. Kids know this, as their bodies expand at alarming rates, but adults often forget. I’m holding on so tightly right now to everything that I think I need, when maybe what I need to do is simply let go, and see what happens.
Recently, I read this wonderful post over at The Gift of Writing about how to maintain positive change, and when she referenced her one word for the year, I realized, with great embarrassment, that I completely forgot about my word for 2014, which was open.
As in, opening up. To possibilities, wonder, vulnerability, presence, heartache, joy. And change.
I feel like the message is clear. I need to stop worrying, struggling, fighting with the invisible demons that perch on my shoulder and whisper sly lies in my ear about how this move is a huge mistake, and that we’d better to stay put, not move at all, because staying perfectly still keeps you safe.
Which is one of the biggest lies you can tell yourself.
Leaving Brooklyn is an end, but I’ll keep reminding myself that it’s also a beginning.
I’ll keep you posted on our progress/pilgrimage, but if I go dark for a little while this summer you’ll know why. Until then, please share any moving moving stories you have! (No pressure, but happy endings preferred, ha.)
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
It’s hard to believe I’ve hit the milestone of 50 posts. With two kids, minimal sleep, and a barely any babysitting hours, it’s no short of a miracle, really.
So, what to write for this post? Should I talk about preparing Bunky for the next time she (inevitably) gets glutened? Hmm, that’s kind of a downer. How about something more upbeat, like a review of Better Batter’s awesome brownie mix? We ate nearly the whole pan in one day. (And would’ve finished it if I hadn’t hidden the last few pieces.)
I think for the 50th post something a little more personal is in order.
Recently I came across a blog called One Word, and the idea is to pick one word and live with it for a year. Meditate on it, journal about it, whatever. Basically let the word and its many meanings sink into your life, and perhaps change it.
As a writer and a word lover, this intrigued me. But I felt like it would be impossible to choose one word out of millions. Then it came to me.
And in a way, it actually fits with the original theme of this blog, which was to nourish Bunky back to health. I began writing about celiac and the challenges it posed for my family because that’s how I deal with stuff. I write. Before I had kids I was a writer. I got my MFA in Creative Fiction. I wrote a novel for my thesis, but short stories were my mainstay. Then I had kids, and well, I stopped.
When I started this blog, I sometimes wondered if I should have been using all those stolen minutes to work on my fiction instead. Why was I spending my super limited time writing about what I was living and breathing (sometimes ad nauseum) every day? But over time I realized that the blog was actually nourishing me. I was not only finding support and friends, but I started feeling like a writer again.
So this year, if I manage to stick with this One Word plan, I would like to continue nourishing my children, finding nourishment from this space, but also extend the definition further. I’d like to make a concerted effort to carve out babysitting time to work on my fiction, not just run errands and bake gluten free muffins.
Basically, it’s time for me to nourish the crap out of myself. And my husband, too, poor guy.
What word would you pick for yourself this year?