Tuesday, January 28, 2014

My View, 6

Something new in my view: the puppy sprawled out on the floor, scratching and licking himself, happily in a restful state for for a while. He was 11 lbs at eight-week old when we brought him home, now he's over 50. He's growing fast, faster even than my girls who continue to amaze me. How are they five and three?

I sit here a lot again in the evening, enjoying the warmth from the wood stove, keeping tabs on the puppy who has been known to chew toys, try to dig into the couch, and chew up sticks until the carpet looks like a forest floor. I sit in the comfort of the living room, no longer feeling like I should hole up in my office to churn through a chapter for work, because I no longer have an office. I dismantled it to make space for a play room. I have no regrets—just piles of stuff still, six months later, seeking a new home. 

My old toy box sits next to me—in the spot once occupied by the baby swing—housing dress up clothes. A small bin and crate contain a jumble of hats and jewels a dance shoes and bags.

I'm constantly moving toys, getting new bins to sort them. Packing things up and putting them away for a while. I had just gotten things situated, and we had a birthday party for the girls. Now there are piles of new toys waiting for a home. I can't keep up. I think we should get rid of some, but the girls love some and I love others (and I don't ever really have the time to go through them to figure out what we're done with).

Sitting down in my chair earlier, I noticed where the fabric is starting to wear on the top of cushion and where a hole has already formed on the side. One arm is speckled with grungy black. Mildew? Oils from resting my arm there? I don't know. I've had this chair for almost seven years. It's younger than the hand-me down chair Brian sits in or our third-hand couch. It's seen a lot, and it's still comfortable, and knowing me and my struggles to get rid of things even when they aren't tied to memories, I suspect this chair will be here for a good long while yet.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014


"Are you listening to me?"

One or both of my kids has been known to ask this in a slightly petulant or demanding tone, especially if my laptop is open in front of me. Sometimes I am listening, sometimes I'm waiting for them to say what they want to say, and sometimes, often maybe, I'm distracted. Sometimes, the distraction is warranted—the file I'm trying to send to meet a deadline just crashed, a client needs a quick response to an email, I'm looking for the recipe I need to get dinner going—but more often I'm catching up on Facebook or reading an article that I may or may not really be interested in or writing a more involved message that I could write after they go to bed.

I do listen to my kids. I believe that I should get some time during the day when I can pay attention to something else, but sometimes I need to listen more and make sure they know I'm doing it.

I chose listen as my word of 2014.

Cutting back on distractions is a piece of it, being more present and aware, but I chose the word—or it chose me—in December when I found myself really listening to Kathleen's responses as I was trying to sort out her birthday party. Instead of half listening while I tried to sort out my own expectations, I finally heard what she expected and her party and December were simplified.

I need to listen to my body too. I know that when I listen to what my body needs and respond to it, I feel healthier than when I don't. Here's where 2014's listen meets 2013's enough. Sometimes my body is going to tell me, "I need a run," but it will be so cold I can't breathe or I'll have a deadline for work or I won't have enough time before Brian needs to leave for work. I want to hear the need for a run, and instead of choosing coffee and one (or five) cookies because I can't, I'll offer up to myself a walk or dance party with the kids. I'll choose the alternative that isn't quite what I want, but that gets me closer to what I need. My body also tells me sometimes that I've had too much caffeine or sugar. It tells me I need to go to bed even though I want to do so many other things. It tells me I need to stretch instead of sitting hunched over that laptop again. I need to start to listen again. I won't make a resolution to eat better or exercise more or lose weight. I won't even set goals to run so many miles or so many times a week. Instead I'm going to try to listen and respond to my body.

I'm not quite sure where else listen will take me, but it's where I'm starting this new year.

Do you have a word this year? Tell me about it. I'll listen.