Magic

Fireworks_070417“It looks magical!” exclaimed my 10 year old friend, a recent immigrant from Rwanda, as we sat next to each other on a blanket, watching fireworks paint bright streaks across the black sky. It was another “first” for her in her new life in America. Nearby, her one year old brother and my 5 year old son sat unnaturally still, entranced (as we all were) by the sight, while rainbows of color danced in their sparkling eyes. As long as I can remember, Independence Day and fireworks have always gone hand-in-hand, precluded by a full day of fun and feasting with beloved friends and family. The formula doesn’t alter much from year to year, and yet it is one of those iconic American traditions that never gets old. At any other time of year, the list of things to be checked off and hassles to be endured might have seemed like more of an inconvenience than a pleasure – cleaning, shopping, cooking, packing, crowds, noise, heat, traffic, unpacking, more cleaning – but as my young friend alluded, there is something inherently magical about days with so much “living” packed into them that by the time you fall into bed, once you finally make it back home, you are wobbly from contented exhaustion.

Today has been the opposite of yesterday in nearly every way. Yesterday, I never stopped moving (and never minded). But today, I’m not ashamed to admit that I didn’t crawl out of bed until long past “normal” breakfast time and I’ve barely moved from my favorite chair, except to refill my coffee cup and snack on yesterday’s abundant leftovers. As I sit on my “island” surveying the aftermath of a dozen warm bodies moving in, out & about my house, instead of compiling yet another To Do list, my mind keeps calling up grainy images from my memory – bits & pieces from party games that have yet to find their way back into the correct boxes recall bursts of uproarious laughter around the dining table; red cups & star-shapped straws dotting the landscape recall kitchen countertops groaning under the weight of so much food & conversations mingling in the air along with mouthwatering aromas; pint-sized wet clothing draped over the rim of the tub recalls squeals of laughter from children running through the sprinkler in the sunshine; the half-smeared remnant of a “dinosaur eye” painted on my son’s face recalls him sitting with barely-controlled patience for the artist to finish her work so he could get back to bouncing his way through all the inflatables; and the subtle soreness of my muscles recalls the movement of my body as I performed with pleasure the duties of a hostess, ensuring the comfort & enjoyment of those whom I most love in the world and then, as the day drew to a close, finally letting go of all responsibility and allowing myself to bounce and sway however I pleased to the rhythm of live music at a riverfront festival.

Magic. Yes, indeed, there is something magical about a day that can make you completely forget everything that normally occupies the most space in your subconscious mind. The itinerary of next week’s work & school schedule, bills to be paid, household renovations to be completed, political shennanigans to fret over, crises big & small – my own as well as others’ – crying out for attention. Where did they go?

In the soft, orange light of the setting sun, last night I laid down on a blanket with my hands under my head and stared up at the swirling clouds – pure summer bliss. Presently, a few drops of rain made cool spots on my face & arms, but I didn’t care. There was nothing I needed to do and no one who needed my help. In that moment, I simply existed. I cannot remember the last time I felt so gloriously free. But a day devoted to the celebration of freedom reminded me that there is so much more to life then the acrobatics required to get through modern adulthood. We experience life at its fullest when we engage all five senses, and yesterday was a colorful kaleidoscope of opportunities to do just that. Tomorrow, I must return to being a “grownup”. But I intend to make a little more room, going forward, for embracing fun & creativity in my regular routine. Making magic wherever I can.

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What Deserves Your Energy?

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Another good one from @itscatharriss on Instagram. I have to say, the closer I get to 40 (still have a few years to go), the easier this gets. Partly because I don’t suffer from the same insecurities I once did, but more so because I am acutely aware with each passing day, just how few things in life really, truly matter. And those that DO deserve all the energy I can give them. What DESERVES (not just demands) your energy?

Never Stop Learning

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Allow yourself the freedom to have your perspective altered by new people and experiences. Feed your mind – you will be richer, wiser and happier because the human brain’s capacity to learn is unlimited. Don’t ever forget that.

Collect Moments Not Things Inspirational Quote

Collect Moments Not Things Quote by @itscathariss on Instagram. Live in the moment. Daily encouragement. Inspirational, motivational quote.

Beautiful thought from @itscatharriss on Instagram I had to share. The only things that last forever are our memories. Take some time out from the whirlwind of activity to just be and to savor every precious moment with your loved ones. For me this week, it was being asked to dance by my 4 year old son when Michael Buble singing White Christmas came on Pandora…as we slow danced together around the living room, all I could think about was how no present in the world would never mean as much to me as that oh so special moment.

Kindness = Happiness

Martin Luther King Jr. quote about finding happiness in helping others. Inspirational, motivational & positive encouragement for daily life.

This pic from@quote.nicheĀ on Instagram really struck a chord with me today…one of those days when you feel like it’s taking all of your energy to keep your head above water, meanwhile the waves just keep coming…how do you keep up the positive, ‘can do’ attitude, you will need to survive the trials ahead? I don’t have all the answers (which is one of the reasons I like to collect quotes), but I do know from experience that whenever I’ve felt the most downhearted, the one thing that lifted me out of my funk faster than anything else was to do something kind for someone else. So, that’s what I’m going to do. And if you’re feeling a little blue, I encourage you to try it too. Let’s make the world a better place together.

Pumpkins in July?

Hanging paper lanterns in summer graphic illustration by Shalom Schultz Designs. Life and Liberty. 4th of July. Independence Day. 2015 calendar artwork.

Are you making the most of YOUR summer? I can’t believe it’s already half over – there’s still so many things I want to do.Meanwhile over on Pinterest my newsfeed has suddenly become flooded with pumpkin recipes…ha ha, not so fast! I intend to keep basking in the season of flip flops, flower gardens, fireflies & fruity drinks for wee bit longer.
(Artwork from my 2015 calendar)

Why You Should Never Ask Mothers Of Young Children What They Do All Day

A brief glimpse into my glamorous life as a stay-at-home mom. More humorous in retrospect than it was at the time…

Yesterday afternoon I decided to hem a new pair of pants to better fit my short legs. While my 3-year-old son was busy eating lunch, I managed to get them pinned up without incident. By the time I was ready to sew, he was done eating, so I set him up with some fresh-out-the box colored pens & markers and a stack of paper. He was thrilled. I only needed 10 minutes to complete the job. Piece of Cake.

Attempt #1: I pressed the foot pedal to make the machine go. Instantly, there was a loud SNAP and the top half of the needle flew out & landed in my lap (I still have no idea what happened to the bottom half…). I’d seen my son under my sewing table the day before playing with the unplugged machine, but it never occurred to me to check to make sure he hadn’t loosened the screw that held the needle in place. Whoops.

Attempt #2: 30 minutes later, I finally located my spare sewing machine needle (after dejectedly sorting through about 1000 other varieties) at the bottom of a bin I hadn’t rifled through in years. I sat back down, inserted the needle into the machine, pressed the foot pedal, and…CRASH! I whipped around to discover that my son had managed to knock over a large picture frame (which I’d had propped against the wall until I could find the time to hang it up) shattering the glass.

Attempt #3: 20 minutes later, glass shards having been removed and the picture frame relocated, I sat back down again and pressed the foot pedal…’HELP!’ I turned my head to see that my son (who had decided he was done coloring) had somehow gotten his foot stuck in the back of the folding chair while trying to get down.

Attempt #4: 10 minutes later, after rescuing my son from his predicament and helping him locate all of the marker caps, I sat back down and pressed the foot pedal…and 10 minutes later I was done. Hooray! It may have taken me 7x longer than I’d planned to complete the job, but, hey, at least I accomplished something.

Still Figuring Out Who I Want To Be When I Grow Up

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In many ways, I believe this is the main lesson I was meant to take away from my 30s. So many things that I once considered ‘concrete’ aspects of my life have either dissolved, been turned upside down or I am simply seeing them with wiser eyes & evaluating their worth differently now. I heard someone say recently that you spend much of your 30s ‘editing’ (physically & figuratively) all the stuff you collected in your 20s & when I heard that it just clicked with me. Some of the changes & decisions have been more difficult to accept than others, but I’m learning to appreciate the difference between quantity & quality. In this case, less is definitely more.