February 25, 2015

The Eighty Twenty


I was very honored to be asked to contribute to the first issue of the new The Eighty Twenty magazine. The publication is available for digital download and hard copy (long live print!)--click through here to order this beautiful publication and peruse a few pages of my ramblings on how motherhood is cleanliness. Yes, really!

February 5, 2015

On the Other Side


I love flying.

[I do not actually love flying, but] I love the perspective and clarity of being up high above the world. And last week, all of the East was blanketed in crisp, new, unspoilt snow so that as the plane burst through the heavy clouds, below were layers and layers of white--clean.

It's a funny thing when you leave a cloudy day behind you and once you climb out, it's a sunny day. Maybe that's why United flies the "friendly skies?" It's always bright and cheery everywhere up there? But my favorite days to fly are the clearer ones, where you can see straight to the earth and even get that little tingle in the bottom of your feet if you think about it too long. Once New York was behind me, this was my view of the Midwest, territory that is as familiar to me as anything with its quilt-work spread of cornfields and grazing pastures dotted with circles of cookie cutter subdivisions, all full of wonderful, wholesome people with wonderful, wholesome hearts. 

We passed over one of these neighborhoods and between the plane and the houses was one little puff of cloud. It was the whispiest thing, a whisper of vapor and cotton; yet it darkened the whole subdivision below it. I thought how all those wonderful, wholesome-hearted people might have been sitting over their cereals and coffees, sad to see a gloomy day ahead of them. From those seats in breakfast nooks in matching houses, everything beyond looked dark and heavy.

But see, I could see where the cloud ended and the light began. It was just on the other side of the neighborhood, just out the front gates practically. And I wished so much that I could call down to them, "It's sunny on the other side."

Perspective makes all the difference. 

January 22, 2015

Productivity


If at the beginning of December my mind was a flat slab of dirt and pretty much devoid of anything else, today that flat slab has been worn into a trench ringed around a massive pile of thoughts. Hello, my name is Sarah, and I am an mental pacer.

I can't say what particularly I've been encircling. I suppose I could pick each thought off the pile and study it and name it; but mostly it's all blurred into one mountain rather than individual pieces. There are the starts of thoughts and the ends of thoughts and thoughts that repeat in some annoying pattern, though each recurring version looking a bit more tattered since it has been mulled over again and again.

This is a certain kind of block--writerly, yes, and also, just a human kind. I'm sure there's work to be done on the mountain, and I'm sure there isn't. So while I'm terribly annoyed that the pacing hasn't been productive, I figure, at least it's exercise. 

January has been busy and terribly lazy. It's been full of good news and frustration. There are nine days left and I'm tired, but my heart is full. Next year, just remind me that this is how I feel every January. 

December 30, 2014

2015


As big as 2014 was, I can say with all honesty that I will end it with little reflection. The events of this year have been so big, maybe they speak for themselves. Then again, in many ways, it's been months of transition and adjustment. And while I'm so looking forward to the fresh start that first page of a new calendar brings, I'm also fine with today too. Maybe that's the single reflection: I'm good with today. Yesterday was unbelievable, tomorrow is exciting. Today is good. 

With that in mind, and with simply calling this year at face value, I recognize this shift in myself too. I'm not so concerned with the girl I used to be; and while I have dreams for the future, the present will do. I feel like an adult living her adult life. It doesn't eliminate the need or desire for self-study, but changes the means by which I conduct such a review. My thoughts and observations are free to float in and out, and the real ones get stuck in my heart. Those are the mighty and familiar ones, like parts of me rather than notions I better get down to organize and nurture. 

2015 presents itself less like THE YEAR OF SOMETHING and instead, just a year. It is another stretch of time as this person I am in this life I am living. I have things I hope to accomplish, places I wish to see, and, yes, of course, resolutions I hope to make a part of my daily life. Such is human nature. But the pressure is off. Whether or not those things get done or those destinations are visited or if I drink enough water each day, I am feeling comfortable in my skin and called to such a time as this.

As it turns out, contentedness feels a lot less complacent than I had once feared it might. A few weeks ago, I sorted through old photos to put into an album (I've been cataloging prints from each year since we were married--a collection that will be special to me, but I think will be even more special to the girls). I studied a photo of me and Iris for a good long while. It was a candid shot: Me, very pregnant with Edith, and Iris donning her once trademark pigtails and sparkly gold Oxfords. Now that seems so long ago it's like it was barely real. And though I know I was struggling with career choices or financial concerns or troubles in a personal relationship at the time, all that was captured in that shady light was perfect happiness. It occurred to me that, if we let it, life simply is like the photographs. We store up snapshots of these simple, serene moments, that maybe when we're in them mean almost nothing, but down the road they mean everything. 

So now I know, whether 2015 is like this last year, full of incredible and big life changes, or if it's simply a whisper, it will be important. It will be full. It will make a mark with its own album of silly prints and called as joyful as all the others. This is the grace I hope to extend to the year, the grace I hope to extend to others, the grace I hope to give myself. 

If 2015 must be THE YEAR OF SOMETHING, let it be the year of grace. Let it be the year we learned to be gracious and the year we learned to be graceful. Grace is what turns nothing to SOMETHING. 

December 16, 2014

It's Christmas Time in the City

*Brief notes to The New York record, because the city is full of new life now that it's Christmas, and we've been running all over the place trying to soak it up!



Swedish Cottage, Central Park
We took a field trip with Iris's school to the Swedish Cottage Marionette Theater in Central Park. We'd had the chance to see one of the company's productions during their mobile Brooklyn shows this summer; but going to the cottage and watching with several dozen other mesmerized kids was the best. Sure, marionettes can be basically creepy; but the cottage is kitchy and whimsical, and the holiday production really was brilliant. Afterward, the puppeteers showed the kids how the puppets work, which was really interesting too.


FAO Schwartz
LaTonya texted me last minute one day and asked if we wanted to go to FAO Schwartz. And I said, "Why not?!" because FAO Schwartz is not the kind of trip you make on your own with two kids; but if you go with your kids and the greatest of friends and her kids, then it's the best day. The best day at FAO Schwartz is basically just Christmas spirit incarnate--posing with the tin soldier guys, playing the giant piano like you're showing Tom Hanks what's up, stopping for treats on the way home. We hit the place during the week in the middle of the day, and I think that was wise. I imagine the crowd during peak hours is too thick to push a stroller through.


5th Avenue Shops
Our Advent calendars have always included car trips to see the lights (the downtown Denver displays were always over the top). We went back and forth this year: Should we drive? Should we walk? One night when we were all too exhausted to do anything else, we pushed up our drive night and hopped in the car with no real plan. The girls are just as excited about a single strand of twinkle lights carelessly draped over a deli awning as they are anything. But we head for the city and found ourselves cruising 5th Avenue with the masses, and it was so amazing. We couldn't have timed it better for the lights show in front of Saks, and I love nothing more than peeping windows like a spy (except not really a spy since looking in these windows is the entire point). I'm hoping we find time to walk by the shop windows for a closer look!







Macy's Santaland
If you know me well enough to know how embarrassingly obsessed I am with Miracle on 34th Street (1994 version, guys! I know!), then you know what a dream this is for me. I've spent the greater chunk of my life imagining an old-fashioned Christmas in the city, and now here I am and I'm dragging my kids through every fantasy I ever had about it. BUT! Macy's Santaland is so, so very worth it. (Early on a weekday is the way to go, if you can swing it.) The setup is breathtaking and fascinating and magical! We all loved it (and especially me)!