Advent Week 1 from Sarah Ann Noel on Vimeo.
December 9, 2013
I went for a walk the other Sunday, just by myself.
It was the perfect kind of walk, for me at least, mostly because it was cold outside (but also for other reasons). I just love a walk when it's cold outside, and your cheeks start stinging and you can feel the air bite your lungs a bit with each heavy inhale. I like the way my legs start to tingle and burn and how I can tell I'm working but I'm not really uncomfortable.
Everything about a walk in the cold seems so sharp, and so I think that includes a sharpening of the mind. It just takes some good music and a sidewalk that might lead to nowhere; then suddenly your brain is moving faster than your feet. You'll glance up at the street sign and realize that you've walked blocks further than you would have guessed.
That was the case for me, and so I figured, why not go the distance, you know? I pushed another mile in so I could visit my favorite house and take in the park. That push, which I barely noticed really, pushed my imagination too. It was like another click past moving fast on to real thinking.
I walked far and let my mind wander further. All at once, I no longer knew where to walk and it seemed I was out of ideas too. So I head for home, since we all need a place to return to.
Which is when I saw this tree.
Just when you think you're out of ideas, you realize how much good and hope and inspiration there is in the world.
December 6, 2013
I've been willing myself to be conscious of the important moments. I was sneaking an email during Sesame Street the other morning, the house quiet save for Elmo chirping in the background, when a little voice says, "Can I sit on your lap mommy?"
Of course. Absolutely. Nothing could be more important than that.
My car died a few weeks ago. The battery just went, without warning; and the crisis of it all was that we'd already left the house. Somehow I made it to the post office, but things gave out, apparently, during the five minutes it took to buy stamps.
Trevor was in the mountains with a customer, and though he could be reached, he was an hour away. So I called my parents. Could they please come help? And with a quick call, they were on their way.
Of course. Absolutely. Nothing could be more important than that.
This all had me musing on the eternity of parenthood. Nothing stops you from being a parent. It's a roll you assume, ready or not, and then you are that for the rest of your being. Beyond, really. You're immortalized as "mom," still "mom" even after your gone. And while some may preserve the name but not the duties, I think most parents feel ever concerned, ever attached, ever responsible for their children.
I was talking to Ruby the other day, my neighbor. She and her husband have lived in their house since the 1950s. They built it when they were young; they raised four children there; they grew old together. Ruby's children have long since left their home for other adult things. Ruby hasn't been a mother in terms of day-to-day responsibility for a long time.
She's still a mother, of course.
She caught us on our way home from the library that day. The girls and I like to walk to our neighborhood branch, and even though the weather was almost blustery, the outing had done us good. We were rosy-cheeked and happy and ready for some lunch.
"I used to do the same thing with my kids," Ruby said, eyes far off. "You've got to read to your kids, you know. People complain about their kids. Read to them. Be with them. We'd go to the library and we'd check out so many books and then we'd come home and I'd read every single one of them."
Naturally, that's not advice I'd not heard before, and it's advice I agree with. I love to read to my girls. I don't think that was really the point though. To Ruby, that simple act, a neighborhood outing, had made all the difference in her children's lives. They were set up for success and well-mannered and educated because of her efforts, her choice to be a good parent. Her kids were her life's work.
We had some friends over for dinner last Sunday, and they asked us what we thought of parenthood thus far. Trevor and I laughed and talked through the general ups and downs of being a parent, chuckling over how our lives have changed--less rest, but much richer.
And Lauren said, "I just think no matter what, it must be so fulfilling."
I smiled at her because it is. In an effort to preserve myself and dreams and goals, I think sometimes I say "I'm a writer and a mother." It's not wrong. It's completely true. I am both of those things. But I know now, when I look back on my life, when I think of the things I'm leaving to the world, no matter how many words I've written, they will never be my life's work.
My calling and my contribution, my meaning for life and my self-definition, it's all wrapped up in what I do for these little lives, how I use the moments I have now, how I use the moments even after it seems said and done. I'm a mother forever, ever concerned, ever attached, ever in love with darling babies who changed my life and my destiny forever.
P.S. If you'd like a sneak peek at our full Advent calendar, my latest post for And Then We Saved is a compilation of 24 Free (or Super Cheap) Christmas Activities, mostly from this year's activity calendar!
December 4, 2013
To me, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are like these brief moments carved out of regular time. They stand alone from the rest of the world and we--our little families, sometimes friends--savor the magic of that timeless spot. They are days that don't feel like days, rather like spaces, and we fill those spaces with traditions found only once a year.
It's funny to think that real life happens on Christmas. There are many people in the world making it tick and function, keeping things safe, leaving the on lights to a shop in case you run out of milk. There are people who, for whatever reason, sacrifice their space in the magic so that the rest of us can have it.
As someone who so deeply values the tradition and specialness of a holiday, I consider this an immense sacrifice. And so, to #ServeDenver during Advent season, my first thought was to consider those who serve us. Day Three on our Advent calendar was also our first chance to participate in Denver Rescue Mission's admonition to serve our community this Christmas. We wrote letters to the servicemen and servicewomen who will give up their special day to keep us safe throughout the holiday.
I am so grateful for what these people do, and I'm incredibly guilty of failing to express appropriate appreciation. We are so thankful for the policemen, firemen, and other servants of our community who willingly forgo the timelessness of a few designated days to ensure that we can enjoy them without worry or fear.
This month, I will be teaming up with Denver Rescue Mission and other bloggers to #ServeDenver. Each Wednesday in December, let us know what you are doing to serve your community. Big or small--it doesn't matter! The spirit is found in the heart, and there are many ways to serve. Hashtag your posts and social media #ServeDenver and read about all the wonderful ways that others are reaching out in their neighborhoods. And if possible, check out how you can be involved with Denver Rescue Mission through the holidays and beyond.
December 3, 2013
I have decided recently that I am not very brave. I submit this as a statement of fact, not as a request for reassurance. To clarify, I will admit to adventurousness. I am an adventurous person.
But adventurousness and bravery are very different things and this is why: Adventurers will try new things and explore the vastness of life and the world and they will challenge themselves. But typically, adventurers are supported. People really like to root for the general spreading of wings, and so adventurers they can get on board with. Adventurers will see much in life, maybe do much in life; but they will do so with a mound of feel-goodness under their butts to get them moving.
But the brave simply act. They move outside of means and ends. They know themselves--or maybe they don't, but they have a sense of something. And so they go. Brave people might be hurtful people because they don't much consider others. Their greatest strength shares rank as their greatest fault, as is usually the case. So often without awareness of how many ripples they create, they function and act and leap and fly whether or not they are lifted up by millions or none.
And while people can get on board with adventurers, it is bravery that they absolutely love, even if it hurts them. Want to know why? Because so few of us have it. I mean, really have it.
I like to imagine I do, albeit locked away deep inside of me. Don't you? If I do have it in there somewhere, I suck at unleashing it. I can hope that I am actually brave, but in the face of something, I normally cannot disappoint others.
I can't really decide if this is a good thing or a bad thing or both. And I can't really decide if I'm capable of conjuring it up, dragging it out of me. I can live adventurously and admire the brave who live fearlessly; but that leaves me to wonder what might happen if I could just cross that line.