Trading Fears

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I leave home this Friday for my first residency at Graduate school. As if starting a new job wasn’t enough change for my husband and kids to adjust to, I’m also beginning a two-year MFA program at the same time. Friends and family ask if I’m excited and I always reply yes, if excited means the same thing as stomach-churningly nervous. Excuse me while I hyperventilate in a corner. Sometimes excitement and nervousness feel like a similar emotion. This is not one of those times.

Over the years, I’ve learned to embrace change. I genuinely look forward to something new and novel in my life. If you scratch the surface hard enough, right beneath my suburban mama exterior, you’ll find someone terribly afraid of living an ordinary life. I often wonder if I’m simply trade one fear for another.

Here’s the thing about grad school. I’m dubious about whether or not I belong there. I still wonder if the acceptance letter was a hoax, if the scholarship money they awarded me was intended for someone else, if somehow this is one giant mix-up. I began reading one of the poetry books assigned for our required reading, and I literally had to google one obscure reference, if not three, in each ten line poem. What the what? What is this man saying to me? What the heck is “unteachable rain”?

Friends, I’m in trouble.

There will be more to say on this topic, but I’ll sign off with this for now–I don’t think I belong, but that’s kind of the point. Trying new things, stepping out into the unknown, trading normal for nervous pleasure–this is what makes change so appealing and why  it’s important to add a little into your life every now and again. The search for “unteachable rain” makes life more interesting.

Home Is a Warm Welcome

I grew up in a family of introverts who pretended to be extroverts for much of the week, while pastoring a small suburban church. On evenings and Saturdays, my family returned to the natural order of the introvert: quiet, calm, with no excessive talking. While my parents filled their days with church members seeking counseling, phone calls, drop-ins, and members simply wanting to chat—at home, they needed time to recharge. They filled their free time with, well…nothing.

I remember my childhood home as one of varying degrees of peace and quiet. For a bookish girl like myself, this fit me perfectly.When my husband and I began dating, I entered into a family of extroverts of the intense variety…

To read the rest of the story, please join me at (in)courage, one of my favorite spaces filled with my favorite people on the internet. Want to see less competition and more women encouraging other women? Sign up here to receive daily posts from the writers of (in)courage, right in your inbox. 

A Bit of News

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After fourteen years out of the workforce, I started a new job a few weeks ago. I haven’t written about it because the change is so new, I wanted to be sure I stuck with it. I habitually quit things—historically, much to my husband’s chagrin, I quit jobs.

My feelings about it lie fresh on the surface, like a new layer of skin after a sunburn peels away. On any given day, I gently inspect tender pink feelings of working-mother guilt, sadness over the delay of my full-time writing dream, and elation over the fact that people actually pay me to leave my house wearing real clothes a few times a week…

Today, I’m honored to write at my friend, Michelle DeRusha’s place. To read the rest of this post, please join me there. As always, thanks for reading.

A Nooks and Crannies Kind of Life

DSC_7684 via kimberlyanncoyle.com

How quiet it’s been here this month! I wish real life were this silent in the summer. I feel as if I handed in my ticket to ride the tilt-a-whirl, and some bored teen with their eyes glued to the control board won’t stop the whirl and let me off. At first, it’s fun to watch the world flash by in a blur of color, until the vertigo sets in, and you realize what you’re missing.

I’m missing long, quiet mornings accompanied by the soft hum of the air conditioner before the kids wake up. I’m missing lazy days. I’m missing time to think. This is what I crave most–a Thotful Spot–like one you might find under a wooden sign in the Hundred Acre Wood.

Recently, a number of writer friends have talked of how they’ve given over the sweet freedom of their summer hours to work on  bigger projects (code words for: book). This news always leaves me a particular shade of green. How I wish I filled my hours with my laptop and my thoughts. I wish I crammed my day full of words. However, I find myself fitting them very occasionally into the nooks and crannies of my everyday, the English Muffin of my life.

I find myself wondering where you are, dear reader, and what you’re doing this summer? How do you fill your days? What do your hands hold? Where is your Thotful Spot? Mine is on a one mile loop of concrete through a circle of green at the local park. I haven’t been there in weeks.

I do hope that whatever your hands find to hold this summer, whatever your mind wanders to most, will bring you joy in the nooks and crannies. I pray you find moments of serendipity where you reach out into the colorful blur and you grasp something lovely.

What would it look like if you captured it?

……….

Stay tuned for more words later this week. I’ll break my streak of posting once a week, and guest post in a few special places. Plus, I’ll share a bit of news.

Now and Forever

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“Forever is composed of nows” ~Emily Dickinson

I find myself quoting Emily often these days. By most accounts, she was a woman who lived a small, secluded life, and yet through her words we see a universe unfolding inside of her. I imagine she spent most of her time sweeping the same floors, greeting the same people, reading the same, worn pages of familiar books. We don’t have much in common in this sense. While I often feel small, my life appears dauntingly complex by Emily’s standards. Living in the information age sucks the ability to listen–to create entire worlds within myself–right out of me.

Last week, we visited five universities in the Boston area with our oldest girl. I felt the walls of every vaulted arch whisper Emily’s truth–forever really is composed of nows. The now of wiping bottoms. The now of kissing away tears. The now of correction and discipline and setting our little birds free to falter and fly. Forever is composed of late night conversations and crying tears of our own. It’s created from every first step leading to that final leap.

Forever is built on every small thing, every whispered or shouted word. Every time we tuck the covers in a little tighter, we add another note, another line to hum. I wish so much for my girl to feel her own universe unfold inside of her, but I don’t know that I’ve shown her how to shut out the noise of the world and revel in the small and the sameness of it. Her world is grand, limitless, and growing ever larger.

As my own world continues to expand in new ways, as I take on new challenges and new roles, I’m beginning to see how much I need to embrace the small. My inner world becomes easily overwhelmed by the noise and the complexity of my outer one. As my daughter’s outer world grows ever larger, I want her to cultivate the richness of her own inner universe. To revel in the moments of ordinary and everyday and small.

I want us to embrace the tiny nows because they lead to the grand forevers.