[Short Post]Can’t Feel Accomplished for More than a Minute

Photo: Richard! You fool! Get down from there! (Seriously, I forgot to move the damn doll already! Had to throw him up there while the boys were still doing their get-up routine. Thank goodness I remembered!

 

The Christmas letter is written. The Christmas cards arrived yesterday afternoon (special shout out to the postal worker who left the Snapfish box out in the soaking rain!). You’d think that would signify a doneness… but you’d be wrong, Dear Reader! This is only the beginning. Now is the time for hunting down the addresses of people who have moved, creating the mail merge, getting the stamps, writing the little notes at the end of all the letters, and getting everything all stuffed and ready to go.

None of that is gonna happen tonight. I’m spent. I’ve climbed my mountain . It’s been a long day. One last thing to do today: this blog post.

Just as I was setting up to get down to business on today’s post, my husband came downstairs to remind me that Major’s birthday is in January.

So desu ne,” I replied with a sigh.

The Husband has made it fairly clear that I will not be getting away with the anti-birthday-bash coup that I pulled last year. Kids get parties. Even kids born in January. So I’ve been told. I’ve gotta look into booking a place. Just another task to add to the growing list. I’m thinkin’ bowling. That’s a good kindergarten birthday party, right? I mean, he’s never been, so… that might be awkward… or maybe awesome?

Maybe we could just take a beach vacation? Wouldn’t it be better to spend our money on that? He sorta likes the sand!

I’m going to bed.

See you Friday for Quiet Thoughts

 

 

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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.

What My Kindergartner is Learning

Photo: Minor came home with this beautiful work of art today. It’s remarkable enough to put on the blog because it’s the first work of art I’ve seen from him that didn’t have a speck of yellow on it. This child has always found a way to put in yellow (or simply not do the work). I’m not a big hearts sort of girl. I prefer other shapes. But these two hearts are gonna get hung somewhere before the end of the week!

 

Two stories from my kindergartener today. One good, one bad. The world is always in balance. Even this world, which is full of bad news of late. Something is coming. Good will return.

I’ll start with the dark and then end with the light.

Ursa Major got off the bus today and said the following sentence:

“Today, we had a drill at school for if there is an active shooter at my school.”

What the hell do you say to your child in response to that?

They’d sent a letter about this. I didn’t object to the idea that children should learn how to seek safety in the case of emergency. However, I object to the language. I really have a problem with the fact that Major knows what an “active shooter” is. I’m not convinced that it’s age appropriate. I also don’t feel very well equipped to explain any of this to him.

The fact that my child said the term “active shooter” to me without a question or without reaction tells me that he probably doesn’t fully understand what the term means. I’m not sure if this is a mercy or if this is a problem. Here we are, with this language, this big concept, just floating in his head, with nothing concrete to anchor it, nothing for him to grasp onto. I don’t understand. Why introduce the idea at all then?

They then followed up with a bus drill in case of fire. “We got to go out the back of the bus!”

“I want you to know that it’s very unlikely that any of those bad things will happen to you. You are safe at school and you are safe on the bus. You know that, right?” I felt obligated to say this before we walked in the house. It seemed really important to reiterate. I said it for myself, too–who the hell needs this right now? I can’t really think about this, too.

My child nodded. I couldn’t really read him. He was simply quiet and nodded, gave a little “uh huh.” I can’t tell if he was dismissing me, like “yes, I know.” Or if he was contemplative, like “why would you say that?”

He seems far less upset about it than I am. What a sad, sad state of affairs. My kindergartener knows what an active shooter is.

I was a freshman at high school with Columbine happened. I remember watching those students go out of the building with their hands up on our classroom television. I can remember it so clearly: I was sitting in a science lab at the very end of the school day, backpack ready to go, twitchy as I waited for the bell to ring so I could bolt out to catch my bus home. The idea of it–a peer walking into school with a gun and the intention of mass murder–was as foreign of a concept to me then as it is to my son right now. I don’t remember fear. I remember distance, so many reasons why such a thing could never happen in my school. I went home, did my homework, went to bed and got up the next morning. I had many worries about school: being safe while in the building wasn’t one of them.

So many lifetimes ago.  I have a kindergartener now. He has used the term “active shooter” in a complete sentence. This is the world we live in.

My son surprised me again during dinner (welcome to the lighter story).

We were all enjoying too many tacos and were wrapping things up (the boys were starting to get silly). I was just about to excuse the two from the table, when Major had a moment. His eyes opened wide and he sat up full and straight. “Oh! I have to tell you something! Something about school!”

I was worried (because of the earlier story. I didn’t want him to tell Minor about it), but I told him to tell us.

“We are going to write our own storybooks!” Major announced. “They are going to be real books that we really get to write!”

We were all impressed.

“And I am writing about you, Mommy!”

Uh, ok…

“I’m writing about when you got the big cut on your skin,” Major said.

The Husband and I exchanged looks. Really? “Uh oh.”

“I told [my teacher] about how you got this big long cut on your tummy,” he said, as he pointed to his chest. He pointed to the part of his chest where I have my (still ugly, very visible) scar. “And I told her how you had all sorts of things taken out of your tummy and they are all bad.”

I smacked my head. The Husband chuckled.

Major looked at us and chuckled too, trying to be in on the joke.

“Baby, this is my chest,” I said, pointing to my scar.

Ohh, right! Your chest!”

Uh huh. “And I didn’t have a lot of stuff taken out. I had a small piece of fat called a lipoma removed. It was not a big deal.”

He chewed on that lipoma word. We’ve used it before. Matter of fact, the boys have gone around and around this surgery thing. They’ve checked up on the scar, have asked a few questions over and over… I didn’t realize how much impact it would have on them.

“I think I’m going to have to make some changes at school tomorrow.”

You think!?

I wonder what the teachers think happened to me!?

So… I’m writing a quick email after I write this post.

It is Monday. The world is still turning, the sun is still rising. The moon is, in fact, super. Surely there is meaning in this life. We’re going to find our way.

I’m grateful for your presence, Dear Reader. Let’s have a productive week.

Until Wednesday, take care.

Not Ready for the Chill

Photo: Joy is needle and thread and a little bit of time, resulting in a warm feeling of accomplishment when it all comes together. Yes, these guys will be “colored in” but not until after I get all of the elements of the pillow outlined. What a delightful distraction.

 

It was 28 degrees outside this morning. 28.

I’m not ready.

Cold means stuff and a different level of organization than I’ve had to have during these warm seasons because there are extra layers that need to be put on, and cold comes with tiny pieces akin to the lego sets I keep stepping on around here. Hats, gloves (“no, I don’t want the gloves, I want the mittens”), mittens (“He has the mittens, so I want mittens, too”), boots (“they are two small. My feet hurt!”) and, eventually, snow pants. Of course, boys have to zip up before walking out to the car (“How many times do I have to tell you to zip before you put on your gloves?” “They aren’t gloves! They’re mittens!”), so that takes longer. And did you know that it is recommended that kids take off their puffy coats and stuff before being strapped into their car seat? Yup. So, we struggle here in the house and then we struggle out there in the van.

Lordy.

The van and the new commute complicate things. The biggest thing that the van complicates is the preheating process: those big-ass side doors let all of the warm air out in a big, instant, giant whoosh ! I get it, the sliding doors are incredibly convenient, and I would even go so far as to say that I love them, but… I don’t know what I’m going to do about that. I think tomorrow we’re going to have a drill: open the door, get into the van and then press the button before the door opens all the way. That’s gonna be a disaster. I don’t even know why I’m bothering. Bet you they’re experts by the first below-zero day, though!

Here in the farmhouse, the radiators are back in service. I love their banging and clanging, their wonderful hissing. I’m very proud to say that we have yet to have our first oil delivery of the season! Our good fortune will not last much longer. I don’t even want to know what the first tank will cost us (last year, it was in the $400 range… maybe even closer to $500, but that was for filling it up when it was practically empty). Last year, the guy warned us that we are going to have to replace our tank soon. I’m dreading what he’s going to say this year. If we could get this tank to last us one more year, that would be idea. But, as you know, now that I’ve typed it, everything is going to go sideways at the first fill up!

I’m going to stop complaining. The change of the seasons is inevitable, the autumn turned out to be spectacularly beautiful, and my January child loves the snow. You know what he asked me for over the weekend? Ski lessons! Ski lessons, Dear Reader! Who asks for that!? Who wants to strap sticks to their legs and go down steep hills? Who?? And doesn’t he have enough, what with his very expensive guitar lessons? These children expect the world!

I told him I’d look into it. That was good enough for now, but he’ll be back again. There isn’t even snow on the ground, yet!

I know that this post has been about nothing, essentially, but I hope that it has distracted you from the insanity of our country at the moment. I’m exhausted from all of the work I’ve done today, but if I weren’t typing this post, I’d be debating with people on Facebook or refreshing the Washington Post over and over again to try to find the poll I like most that validates my desires and opinions. So if you, even for a moment, thought about a chilly New England morning instead of a candidate, or you imagined Ursa Major as the new skiing champion of the world, then I have done my job and this little nothing post is actually more powerful than I can appreciate. It certainly eased away the knot in the pit of my stomach, at least for a little while.

If you are American, please exercise your right and vote tomorrow. It’s obvious who I support, but I think it’s a sacred privilege to choose who you want to vote for. I won’t tell you to vote for my candidate, but I will hope and pray that you choose her.

No matter what, I’m baking bread on Wednesday morning and I’m writing a post. The sun will rise and the world will spin no matter the outcome.

Until Wednesday, Dear Reader, go vote and then take care.

What I Totally Didn’t Need

Photo: My absolute favorite Fall treat, by far, is pan-roasted pumpkin seeds. Olive oil, salt and pepper, clean pumpkin seeds and a cast iron skillet is all it takes to make this awesome, awesome snack. Deciding to have pumpkin-baked oatmeal this morning, the bonus was these seeds to snack on all day! Yay Fall!

 

The two little boys think it is hilarious to wrestle in the living room. Still a little overwhelmed, I’ve been letting the boys veg out to Nick Jr while I make dinner. Major, especially, is pretty grateful for the opportunity to decompress. Minor, on the other hand, is jazzed because big brother is home. All he wants to do is play.

So, inevitably, one child crosses the room to jump on the other and the match is on! I’m whisking something in a skillet and I hear the laughter, followed shortly by shrieks of joy, followed very shortly after by shrieks of pain and anger. Next thing I know, I’m stepping into the living room to see one shoving the other (at best) or one punching the other (at worst).

Every night for the last handful of nights, I’ve made it clear: “We’re not wrestling and if you want to play rough and noisy, go to the playroom, please!”

They say, “ok,” and then they go to the playroom. Temporarily. It never takes more than 10 minutes for them to return to the living room, shrieking and jumping and being ridiculous.

Well, somewhere around 6:30 yesterday, I’d had it. “Mommy shouldn’t have to repeat the same three sentences over and over and over again! Why does it have to be this way every night!?”

They shrugged and said nothing.

“You say you don’t like it when I yell at you! But then you do what I ask you not to do multiple times a day!”

Tears from the babies. Little balled fists. Mean Mommy… I’m always the mean one.

Finally, Major points a little precious finger at me. “Well, you make me sad all the time! You are the reason why I’m angry and sad!”

Wow… really? “How am I making you angry by asking you over and over again not to do something? I didn’t say that you can’t be noisy when you play. I’m just asking that you be noisy in the playroom, the room that is dedicated just to you and your stuff!”

“Well, you’re being mean! And you’re yelling! And I don’t like it when you yell! You’re mean, and you are why I’m sad and mad all the time.”

Minor wasn’t totally complicit with this. Matter of fact, he wandered away, making his way to the dinner table. Major dropped his bombs and then jutted out his cleft chin at me. “Can I have some dinner now?”

“If you are going to say those bold statements to me, then you need to back them up. You need to prove what you’ve said. Tell me, was I mean when I drove you to school this morning?”

“No.”

“When I did your laundry?”

“No.”

I went through the entire list of things I’d done for that child, just on that day, a good eight direct services I’d done for that child. He said I wasn’t mean when I was doing those things.

“But when I ask you, for the fifth time tonight, to be in the playroom instead of wrestling and fighting in the living room, and I yell because I’m frustrated, I’m being mean?”

“Yes. And I’m mad and I’m sad all the time.”

I don’t know why it hurt my feelings so much. He’s 5 and we know that he has had the ability to weaponize his language for a while now. Yet still, it hurt. Maybe because it’s so freaking unfair–Motherhood is so damn thankless. Especially now as the three men in my life enjoy the fruits of all my labors while simultaneously enjoying their own accomplishments: crafted lunches every morning, lots of carting around to different activities, lots of parties and playdates, oh, and not to mention my new gig as Classroom Parent in Major’s class (“I’m planning and coordinating the big Halloween party for your class on Monday! But I’m still mean!?” “Yes.”). It’s an unnamable (yet challenging) feeling watching them thrive thanks to your hard work, as you struggle to find any sort of traction in your own projects and pursuits (why yes, I did get another literary rejection yesterday afternoon).

Anyway, I say all this to say, this is totally not what I need right now.

And yeah, I brought it on myself. I should have stopped asking questions. He’d firmly stated his position and there wasn’t anything I was going to do to change it. He’s five. He’s stubborn as hell. And yeah, he’s a little bit mean. I should have walked away from him. It was my ego that got in the way–I just wanted to be right. I wanted him to know why he was laying blame at the wrong feet.

The Husband scolded them, eventually put them to bed, gave me a kiss on the forehead. “Tomorrow will be a better day,” he reminded me. He was right, of course. Both boys apologized this morning. We were off to the races, as ever.

This, too, shall pass. All of it.

See you Friday for Quiet Thoughts, Dear Reader. Stay safe and warm out there.

Finding My Feet

Photo: It is slack-jaw gorgeous here in MetroWest right now. Peak color, active falling of leaves, a gentle breeze to keep things in motion. The eye doesn’t know where to focus, because everything is too beautiful for words. Sunny day or gray like yesterday, it doesn’t matter. It’s undeniably beautiful.

 

I am a little amazed by what I’ve managed to accomplish. That’s not me trying to brag. Actually, that’s me feeling a little bit ashamed of myself. The drumbeat of home is steady, with the boys needing a lot at any given moment and the schedule always very full and very tight. There are things that have to happen. I feel like I’m hearing a voice that says constantly, “you just can’t stop. You don’t have time to stop.” And it’s true: there is always a new thing to take up, something dropped that must be picked up right now. I’ve received plenty of advice: “You don’t have to do everything. You can say ‘no’ to things.” Yet, that feels very untrue. I made commitments before everything went up in the air, and now they are all coming up due. I signed up to be Classroom Mom for Major’s class and the Halloween party is in two weeks. I was asked to help with church stewardship again this year, so I helped re-write the brochure and letter to the congregation. I have three freelance clients who politely let me disappear for a week, but now the deadlines are looming…

And yeah, I’m getting it all done. I don’t really have a choice. I don’t want to disappoint and, besides, I want to be busy. Maybe not this busy, but it’s a wonderful distraction. Hello Denial Stage of grieving. I know I’m just running away from it. Grief is still with me.

I think the most surprising thing I’ve encountered so far is the physical pain of grieving. Last week, it was a two-day headache that I couldn’t shake. Over the weekend, it was a full-body ache that wouldn’t let me be comfortable during the long ride back here. Today, it’s sciatic pain that rivals that of  my pregnancies. The pain in my lower back is incredible, and it shoots up and down my left leg in a way it has never done before.

There is no running, no hiding. There is pain, and you have to deal with it.

But I’ve got things to do.

So, that is where the shame comes in: I’m sitting here with a full understanding of what’s going on, yet I am foolishly ignoring it instead of dealing with it. The shame comes from knowing that I’m not heeding the advice of everyone who has lovingly given it to me, each of them telling me to take it easy, let this first week come and go. Surely I should know better than to not listen to everybody. Then again, there is this sense of anger: what the hell else am I supposed to do? Maybe if I didn’t have two boys, I could curl up in a ball and let the world pass by me for a few days. But they are counting on me to get up every single day, to be at my best. To be better than my best.

We were just starting to find some sort of routine with this crazy new school year. I was taking on new things because I had a handle on the new schedule I knew what I was capable of producing in a day. I was starting to find the necessary life-hacks and strategies necessary to get ahead. It’s frustrating to be back at square one.

I am reminded that Square One is, essentially, tabula rosa. There are opportunities here to seize moments and climb out of this. It’s hard, but I’m trying to grasp for the moments of inspiration and strength, climbing out of this hole and into a better place. Maybe my goal for the week should have simply been survival rather than seeking a “new normal.” Maybe I was a fool for thinking I could control what a “new normal” can look like. I don’t know what else to do, Dear Reader. I don’t know what approach I should take other than the one I am.

And so, it’s a warm Wednesday night, I’m exhausted and in pain. Despite my efforts, my task list doesn’t feel any shorter, and a new day comes before I know it. I’ll greet it as best I can, optimistic that I’ll accomplish something and find my feet again soon.

See you Friday for Quiet Thoughts.

 

 

[Quiet Thoughts] Mommy’s Book of Morals

Photo: Major’s first elementary school field trip ever was, of course, to an apple orchard. There is nothing more New England than an orchard and, I must say, this is probably my favorite orchard ever. Not wanting to show other people’s children on the interwebs, this is the only one I can show from my chaperoning.

 

Major lied to me this week.

It was a little lie, a silly one. Evidence of his marvelous brain working, him flexing his muscles of language and persuasion. Lying has only recently emerged–it was going to happen eventually, so I’m not terribly surprised. Yet, here I was with no time yesterday morning, having to face my 5-year-old, his lie, and all the consequences.

“Why is Mommy angry?” I asked my son. This is a question I ask often.

“Because I [did something I asked him not to, resulting in a mess and a significant delay in our morning routine]?”

I did a nodding-shake of my head. That yes/no shake. “Yes, that’s true. I’m angry about that. But why else am I angry?”

“Because I didn’t tell you the truth.”

“And did you know you weren’t telling me the truth?”

“Yes.”

“You have to understand that this was a silly lie. It was pretty obvious what was going on. But you still wasted 10 minutes of my time telling me that silly story. It’s a big waste.”

I have to give him credit: he was wide-eyed, laser focused. He was yawning, as it was morning and we’d had a late night, but he was with me.

“It’s important that you understand that you are a big boy and I expect a lot out of you. Big Boys tell the truth, even when it’s hard. Big Boys tell the truth, even when they think Mommy is going to be angry.”

And my Quiet Thoughts this week come from that moment. At what point do we become the arbiters of the Big Book of Morals? How do we, somehow, end up saying the same things our parents said to us to our own children? I could hear my mother’s voice, see her face, as I was saying the words.

“You have to tell the truth, even when it hurts. You have to do the right thing, even when you think no one is looking,” I said. “You have to choose the right thing, even when it’s not easy.”

He listened, nodded his head. I asked him to repeat what I told him, and he did so dutifully. These are lessons that will need to be taught over and over again, expanded and refined as he grows older. They are rules that I understand aren’t hard and fast, but he can’t know that yet. (I’m a fool. He already has an idea that breaking them without ending the world is possible.)

Truth be told, my Quiet Thoughts come from my guilt about it afterward. Long after I dropped him off for school and went on about my insane day, I wondered if I’d been too hard on him. I wondered if I was being too old-school, too strict. Who am I to be dictating such edicts and dictums? I break rules all the time! Often with a smile!

There is also an understanding that a new chapter in parenting is beginning for us. My role shifts and changes as his needs do. Here I am, teaching again, but these lessons are forever. Am I really the right person to teach these lessons? I know that I have to be, but that doesn’t mean that I am. Time will tell. You never stop wondering if you are royally screwing this up.

The heat is on in the farmhouse tonight. The Husband made it so. I was holding out until October 1st, but he caved last night when it got down to 62 in the living room. We could have snuggled! Whatever. I’m grateful for oil in tank, cider donuts in the kitchen, the opportunity to sleep in and then catch up. Drought-cutting rain is supposed to fall this weekend. A blessing… even if our garden is already on its way out. The best part of all? there are many apples in the house! Over a half-bushel! So, I must make apple butter this weekend. This house is going to smell awesome. I can’t wait to fill up a few little jars and send them off to dear friends.

I send to you, on this last Friday of September, a little bit of warmth, a little bit of light. Dear Reader, this world feels deeply dark, sometimes intensely scary, and  very often isolating and uncaring. So I wish you an outstretched hand, a welcoming smile, a warm moment with another person who sincerely cares about you. I wish you food that feeds your body well, preferably with all these wonderful foods from the harvest–tomato, leek, potato, fennel, beets. I hope that food feeds your soul, too, bringing you memories of happy times in happy places. I wish you moments alone with your thoughts and your desires, a time to reconnect with what you want and how you want to achieve it. I wish you moments of laughter with favorite people. I wish you two kisses on the cheek and a tight squeeze of a hug, someone looking into your eyes and seeing far beyond the shield you put up for yourself. When was the last time someone saw you, fully? When was the last time you took a moment to see a friend?

Above all, I want you to remember how loved and admired you are. Remember how much your story means to the people who care about you. Remember that who you are and what you do has consequence in this world. Choose to be kind, choose to reach out, and always know that what you put out into the world will come back to you twice fold.

Until Monday, Dear Reader, be bold, love fearlessly, take a positive risk, roar with laughter, and take care.