Season of Change

Photo: Oh yes, look at all the beautiful details, the glorious color on the petals… isn’t this just a glorious photo!? 

 

Snow on the car, snow on the barn, snow on the grass this morning… no snow on the pavement, but you know it’s coming! Oh, Dear Reader… somebody stop the winter from coming! I’m not ready!

When I woke the boys up this morning and pulled back the curtain, the reaction was brilliantly mixed. Major, able to fully see out the window from his top bunk perch, gasped with glee as he took in the first glimpse of white. When he breathlessly announced to his brother what had happened, a groan came from the bottom bunk.

“Oh no,” Minor said. “Not the snow!

That child is my child, for sure.

Major started ticking off all of the things he would need for the day:

“I have to find my boots! I have to find my hat! And my gloves, and those snowpants. Mama, do my snowpants fit?”

No, they don’t fit. That’s why, when I got up this morning and saw the damnable snow on the ground, I got right on the internets and ordered another pair. I’m sitting here praying many prayers that his boots do actually fit. That boy needs a new coat (Nana is getting him one for Christmas) and avoiding new boots would be helpful. I know it’s too much to ask for. The child is growing entirely too fast.

With every item listed, Minor let out a grunt or a groan. “I hate boots. I hate hats. I hate gloves. I hate snowpants.”

Yes, baby. I know.

“But why? Don’t you like the snow?” Major asked as he climbed down his ladder.

“No!” Minor barked.

“Awwwwwww,” Major said in the way that children do. It was this sort of mimic of the way I would have said it, yet it still came out as almost a giggle. As if to say, “oh brother, you’re so ridiculous.”

Major practically pranced through the entire “get up, get dressed” routine. It wasn’t until we got downstairs and he got a good look at the snow that he realized we barely got a dusting. The early morning sun was enough to melt it away. I thought he would lose it, but he shrugged instead.

“It’ll be back! We’ll be sledding in no time!”

His brother and I both groaned at the thought.

I was a total baby about it this morning. Put on leggings under my jeans, a thick tunic sweater to put under my peacoat, and wrapped my hair in satin before putting on my thick knitted hat. I was dressed for January, not late November. It really wasn’t that bad out today. But the visual reminder of yes, cold days are coming, yes the warm days are at an end and, yes, snow will be here and will remain for months is… causing preemptive shivering. I can’t wait to snuggle up under my two thick blankets (Husband: “Really? Aren’t you hot under all that?”) and dream about tropical beaches. Yeah… some wonderful life owning a bookstore on a tropical island… wouldn’t that be magical?

Some things just can’t be helped. Change is in the air. I’m just gonna have to get used to it.

Speaking of which, you may have noticed that the featured image is a little more high quality than my other photos. That’s because this mama invested in a big-girl camera! Yaaaaaaaay!!! I purchased a very nice camera and stuff to go with it in the hopes that I will never put another blurry picture on this blog ever again! Furthermore, I hope that I will begin to get more active on Instagram thanks to my new toy. I’m so excited to better share the beauty of the world I know with you in this space.

The camera is just the beginning. As I told you in October, I decided to spend this winter not writing fiction in the hopes of giving my brain a bit of a rest, and also to spend some time learning and growing in other areas. I purchased a few helpful resources to help me with my fiction and I also purchased a very cool bundle of blogging courses/resources, complete with a cool mastermind group filled with weekly seminars and fellowship. I’m learning a lot and I’m excited to apply some of the knowledge that I’m gaining. I hope that you will come along on the journey with me. One of the first things I want to do with this camera is to take pictures of our Thanksgiving Day feast, and maybe even start posting some of my recipes!

That being said, I was wondering if you would do me a favor, Dear Reader. As I explore the potential of what this blog could be, I am trying to keep my focus on what I’ve already created and why you have chosen to read my blog week after week. I’ve noticed that, though my comments and “likes” don’t always reflect it, I have a pretty consistent bunch of readers who come back post after post. I would love to know who you are and what it is about my blog that you love the most. Would you be willing to take a quick 5-question survey to tell me a little bit about yourself? I don’t collect usernames or email addresses, and you don’t have to type anything (there is the opportunity write a comment at the end if you want to, but it is optional). I just want to know more about why you choose to read my words, and what I can do to make your experience better. I want to grow, but only in ways that honor the relationship I have already established with you.

Rather not do the survey? Send me an email! I actually correspond with a few of my readers and I absolutely love it! My email address is wise(dot)kay(dot)c(at)gmail.com

I’ll keep the survey up for a week just to give ample opportunity for ya’ll to find it and respond. No pressure! But it would mean so much to me, and it would really help me better reach my potential. Thank you for your help, Dear Reader. I look forward to your thoughts!

It’s a short week, but that doesn’t mean there is less to get done! Let’s make it happen, Dear Reader.

Until Wednesday, take care.

The Thin Boundary between Everything and Nothing

Photo: I took this picture a long time ago… Ursa Major must have been one when this photo was taken. A year ago, we were just leaving the community when this photo was taken. A year ago. For ya’ll who have been with me for a while, you understand why that’s a little ridiculous. We’ve been through a lot together since this blog has started, haven’t we?

 

I’m sorry again about Monday, dear reader. I’m in a funky headspace… it probably doesn’t help that sleep has suddenly turned into a precious commodity here in the house. The boys are currently in the middle of a 4-day nap boycott, and Ursa Major has decided that it is ok to wake up in the middle of the night and scream for his father because… well, we can’t seem to get him to fully articulate what the hell his problem is.

Finally, at around 1:30 after both of us going in there about 5 times, I laid that child down in the crib, kept his eyes focused on me, and had a pretty epic crazy-mom moment: “Let me be very clear. I am the scariest thing in this house right now and you won’t let me sleep.”

It probably wasn’t the best thing I could have done, but it got the freaking point across. The ridiculousness stopped and he went to sleep.

But now I’m sitting here, yawning, and I’ve got a lot to do. I have a mind to wake that child up and make sure he has a regular schedule (thus taking the much needed nap this afternoon) but the only thing worse than a crying toddler at 12:30 is a cranky little punk toddler at 9:30, you know?

Thank you for the support while I took a bloggy day off. To be honest, there was a part of me on Monday that was going to declare this a bloggy week off. Not because I have no words (though I certainly didn’t on Monday) but because I’m trying to decide where I am with this thing, what I get out of it, what you as a reader get out of it, and what it can and should be. I know that there is a core of regular readers who come here and comment, another outer group who pop in from time to time, and there are people who have found a couple articles of my blog because it would seem that my battles with my in-laws are not that uncommon.

If I’m being completely honest, I think that this blog represents something that scares me. And so does the fiction that I’ve been writing. I feel a lot of momentum, I write just about every day, I’m inspired by something constantly and I see my little moleskine full of scribbled notes and ideas… and I’m starting to get pretty sincere, helpful and hopeful feedback and I’m starting to wonder…

what the hell am I doing here?

I wrote a guest post once on another blog about writing for time. I write because I love it, but I also write because I am desperately looking for a way to contribute financially to my family while staying home with my boys. They represent the chief of my passions and their journeys mean more than the world to me. Where my mother and the rest of my family seem to think I’ve lost my ambitious nature, I’ve simply aligned those ambitions very closely with these two little boys, who they are today and who I’d like them to become tomorrow. I know that I’m walking a line. I’m committed to not become a helicopter mom, not a hands-free mom (for the love of God),  not quite a tiger mom, but something else. I’m something else.

But all of that being said, again, what the hell am I doing here? That’s what I’ve been asking myself, because I don’t know the answer. I’m convinced that I have the potential to write in a way that can produce a small little something that I can stick in our coffers, but I’m not totally convinced that I have the talent for it. I’m not fishing for compliments–I know that I write words and those words turn into something that people enjoy reading, and you’ve told me as much, and I’m grateful. I’m not talking about the composition, I’m talking about the everything else: The branding, the twittering, the pictures and the graphics with the frilly fonts… the banners and the links, the “blog tours” and the guests posts…

I’m a mom-blogger, but I’m not that kind of mom blogger. It’s not that I don’t like to see those things on other blogs that I visit. I just know that I’m not really into representing myself that way. But is that what I have to do, I wonder?

And then there is the fiction, which I really relish. And I’m wondering if the grind of writing short fiction and submitting it, and having it rejected (or getting no comments at all) is really the best use of my time. Especially when my larger project, which I’m having some folk read right now, is getting such great feedback. Am I just better at writing longer works? But then I remember what I wrote in November and how utterly ineditable it was… I want to see this larger project through to the end, and then I have two more really awesome ideas right behind it. But I need stuff to get these things going. There is an infrastructure that I’m missing and I don’t know how to build….

I’m a writer, but can I be an author?

And then there are the other talents. This house that we’re working on… and the gardening I want to do… the sewing that I’m excited about starting, the knitting projects and the cooking and baking. I know I’ll never be Martha… and I don’t have the capital to be that woman out on the pioneer trail… you’re already reading about the crazy Black lady in the Massachusetts farmhouse… but would you be interested in reading more? If I kept the same pace, if I continued to write about the boys and The Husband and the preschool nonsense and all of the things that brought you here and bring you back…if Quiet Thoughts were still on Friday and you’d indulge me, from time to time, in a rant about race in America…if I pepper you with stories about my moronic inlaws… but then if I put up recipes, or sewing projects, or gardening and flower arraigning… if I wrote about the writing I’m doing, putting up an excerpt now and again… would you still come here? Would it change the tone and tenor of what this space is?

I’m a blogger… right?

I’m asking because I want to experiment, but I don’t want to alienate. I started this blog two years ago in response to a challenge from and good and trusted friend, and that challenge has brought me really far. Closer to my goals than I have ever been, even when, at the time, I didn’t know that this is where I wanted to be. I want to make sure that I’m still meeting that challenge–stepping up to high expectations, meeting them and exceeding them whenever possible. And I don’t want to make changes that are weird and inauthentic. I don’t actually want to do a lot of crap for the sake of “traffic” or “building my brand.” I’m not doing this to get rich. I’m doing this because I love it, and because this is one of the best things I’ve ever done. I don’t want to stop, I just want to get better.

I’m standing on the thin boundary between everything and nothing, wondering what the hell to do next.

See you Friday with some Quiet Thoughts.

 

[Quiet Thoughts] Share and Share Alike

Photo: Blessed are the hands that bake the bread… or something? I have made bread all week. This is the brioche that I baked today. We’ll slice it for French Toast tomorrow morning. When I started this blog, I was not a baker. I was challenged to learn and now I love it. I’m grateful for this time that I’ve been given to learn and grow and explore the other facets of my personhood. Part of me wonders how much longer of this I have. Another part of me wonders if I’ve been doing the right thing with my time.

 

My Quiet Thoughts are about sharing, because that was clearly the theme of my week. I started my week by opening up my home to neighbors, family and good friends, and I ended it with phone-calls and impromptu conversations that ended up being a lot more than the usual shallow banter. I’m sitting here right now coming off of a very fascinating discussion about religion and faith with a member of my writing community–I just spent the better part of an hour answering questions and asking some of my own, sharing stories that I’ve told few people. It has been exhilarating and exhausting, terrifying and uplifting.

But when I think about it, it’s more terrifying than anything else. I suppose that it is the introvert in me, but I don’t think of myself as that interesting to begin with, and I firmly believe that most of my thoughts and ideas are fairly foolish. I’m also fairly sure that, especially in person, I’m not terribly articulate at all. So I’ve spent the better part of this week wishing that I could erase the entirety of my Monday, and some parts of my Tuesday and Thursday as well.

I write that and I realize that there is some introvertedness in my words and also some Millennialness in my words. It is so easy to type at this keyboard and fuss with it and censor it to my heart’s content. I don’t spend a lot of time self-censoring, but I do try to erase what seems to be boring or asinine, only putting my moment’s best up on the screen and out into the wide wide internets. As you’ve noticed, there isn’t anything remarkable to see here–I’m a woman and a mother trying to make things work. I woke up yesterday with the grand idea that I was going to delete this blog. “Who wants to read another stupid mommy blog?” I asked myself. “Who are you to write about your life as if you have something to contribute? How large could your ego possibly be?” Indeed, I’ve strayed away from the original purpose of this blog–which was to seek some sort of sisterhood among other suburban Black moms out there. It’s turned into a diary of sorts… which isn’t what I wanted. You all have your own issues, your own diapers to change, your own bills to pay.. right? I have often felt like I’ve written posts that are severely unworthy of your time. When I think about the time that I’ve wasted, I get heart palpitations.

I recognize that there is fear and hurt in the words that I’m typing. As I open up to new people and see to either strengthen existing relationships or create new ones, I remember the ones that I’ve lost or severed over time. The mind wanders to the potential squandered, the intimacies divulged, the vulnerability exploited.

But then again, it feels good to share. It feels good to ask and answer questions, to learn and connect. It feels good to know something unexpected, to be surprised when something comes out of nowhere. I appreciate that I’ve spent my entire week mulling over questions and feeling inspired and yet utterly and terribly inadequate and foolish at the same time. That’s invigorating. (There is the optimism… I knew I’d find it.)

So on this Friday, I’ll share with you, dear reader:

I found a lump in my breast a week after Christmas. While I was sitting in my mother’s house worried over every last other thing in my life, I found it. I sat on it for 2 months, not telling anyone but my husband (and my doctor) because I didn’t want to add to the drama of my life. There were a few times, in the dark moments when I let my mind wander down the rabbit hole, that I thought I’d share on this blog. But I didn’t want to alarm anyone and I didn’t want it to seem like I was looking for attention or unnecessary sympathy. I had an ultrasound last week and they found that there is something there but it is benign. That’s the reason why I posted so late on Friday–I was in and out of 4 doctor’s appointments trying to get everything sorted out. I am relieved and humbled, and evermore cognizant that I have little control over the course of my life. These worries brought renewed urgency to some parts of my life and de-emphasized the urgency in others. To reiterate: I’m fine and grateful to be so.

I’ve been writing this post for the better part of an hour. I’ve written two other things that I thought I would share and have erased them both. It’s funny how we determine what is interesting, what is worthy of being shared. I think that I’ll try to write two “nice” posts this month that share something personal (like what I did when I was on vacation back in September). We give what we get, right? I’ll give a little.

On this and all Fridays, I congratulate you on your accomplishments and wish you the opportunity to indulge in an end-of-the-week ritual. Even if that’s going to be at 9 tonight and sleeping until you can’t sleep anymore. I wish you the song of a returning bird in the trees, or a pop of green in the ground under the melting snow, or even a glimpse of the first buds emerging from awakening trees. I wish you a seat at a sugarhouse, cutting into a stack of buttermilk pancakes and syrup fresh from the maple tap. I wish you the sight of an animal (the foxes just left from under the barn. They are so gorgeous!) and the reminder that we humans weren’t the only ones who suffered this extreme winter. I wish you a smile from across a crowded room, a text from a random friend, a good story from an elder, or a pleasant chat with a friend in a beautiful place. I wish you one good meal prepared by skilled hands and a loving heart. I wish you a moment of feeling foolish and the reminder that you aren’t always the smartest person in the room. I wish you the opportunity to help someone else–to be the hero of a person’s day. I wish you inspiration, great or small, and the exhilaration that goes with it.

Until Monday, stay warm and take care.

Humbled, Bewildered, Thankful

Hello Everyone: New readers, Old Readers, people passing through, people deciding to stay. Hello and welcome, I’m so glad you are here.

I usually only post on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, but I want to take this small moment just to express my gratitude for what has been an incredible 24 hours.

First and foremost, I really must thank Meredith over at Faking Picture Perfect. Meredith was one of my first followers, she has been a regular commenter of my posts and, most importantly, she nominated my post on motherhood and identity to be Freshly Pressed. In essence, none of ya’ll would have found me if it wasn’t for her, and I don’t think that my blog would be the same without her quiet encouragement. So thank you a million times, Meredith.

If you like my blog, you’ll love Meredith’s blog. Please stop by and say hello to her!

I’m overwhelmed by the wonderful comments that I’ve received from you all over these past few days. Thank you for taking the time to read my words, think about them, and comment on them. For those of you who have chosen to read some of my other posts, I’m beyond grateful. While I’m not fool enough to think that all of you will be consistently returning to my blog, I’m hopeful that a few of you have seen something in me that is worthy of your time. I can’t guarantee that I won’t write a shitty boring post now and again, but I can certainly promise that I’ll always write with honesty and maybe a little bit of humor. I started this blog to build a community of thought and discussion, and today I am one step closer to that goal.
Thank you, also, to the Word Press editors who found me worthy. This was an overwhelming and wonderful experience. I hope to do it again sometime!

Bottom line: Welcome. Thank you. You humble me by your presence. I’m grateful that you are here. Please come by early and often and say hello.