You cannot value wisdom without equally valuing mistakes.
What you think someone else is thinking is still just what you think until you verify.
Like I love Idaho’s mountains and lakes, like I love the white sand and blue-green waters of Pensacola Beach, so have I come to love the dark forests teeming with life and long, wild winters of Massachusetts.
Shifting gears again, not quite, but almost back up to speed.
I’m beginning to understand how much death is part of the rhythm of life. I’m not okay with it and my losses hurt no less, but I see the wisdom in getting to know Grief–who will visit me many times and again should I live long enough and keep on falling in love with people and animals and life as it is in a given moment that cannot stay.
Like their Lego towers and magnet block houses, my children break my heart and put it back together over and over and over again.
My husband bought me fifteen shades of lipstick for Christmas. FIFTEEN SHADES. Just opening the box gave me such a rush of happiness and inspiration!
Some of you may remember an old blog series I started and let languish almost ten years ago. It was about beauty and confidence and the things we think about ourselves that we come to realize aren’t true. It was based on how badly I wanted to be a woman who could wear red lipstick. I’d tried a few different shades but it always looked terrible and I was sure it was because my lips were too small or the wrong shape or that I just didn’t have the personality to carry it off.
Thankfully, I mentioned it to my best friend from high school who also happened to be a brilliant make-up artist for M.A.C. A few weeks later, I went to visit her and she surprised me with an amazing bagful of lipstick, gloss, and liner in every shade you can imagine! But, best of all, she took the time to teach me how to apply it. This is a photo I took on my birthday that same year:
Turns out, I was always a woman who could wear red lipstick. And I love this photo because you can literally see my newfound confidence shining in my expression.
Anyway, that was then and this is now and these fifteen shades of opportunity are calling me to do something fun. Over the past five years I’ve struggled with so much loss, grief, and depression on top of new babies and a pandemic, its been a challenge finding the time and energy to work through the losses and all the shifts in my identity. I initially intended to revive the Lipstick Letters as they were and write about body image as a mother of three, but nothing sounded right so I held off.
Then, I had an enlightening moment while scrolling through Instagram, where several of my incredibly talented friends were doing their thing and sharing the results. There were home-cooked meals with food they grew themselves, woven rugs, quilts in progress, redecorated rooms, you name it! And as I scrolled, a feeling of envy grew and grew until I realized it, set my phone down, and asked myself what that was all about. After a short moment of reflection, I had to laugh; I wasn’t jealous of WHAT these lovely humans were doing, I was jealous THAT they were doing at all! Successfully devoting a portion of their time and resources to things that are important to them.
My jealousy evaporated in an instant and, in it’s place, I found new curiosity and determination. Aside from being a mama and a wife, what am I doing? It’s been several dark and busy years since I felt it last, but I still recognize this particular kind of restlessness–it’s boredom. God love my beautiful, amazing children who are so fun and satisfying to raise; they absolutely do not challenge and fulfill every element of my being. Nor should they.
So I’m setting only one rule for this reboot: I can’t write about my kids here. This series is about me taking an intentional step outside my beloved role as mama to delve into other much-loved and missed parts of who I am. We’re going further than skin deep where it’s less about the lipstick on my lips (though there will still be plenty of that) and more about what puts lipstick on my soul. Many thanks to Scarlet for that perfect turn of phrase.
Going forward, each new post will feature a different shade, but for this first one, here I am in my messy living room with no make up at all. Just me, feeling hopeful about life, and excited to drag all of you along with me while I figure out what to do with myself.
I really don’t like conflict. I like for everyone to feel good and be comfortable. So much so that I’ve had my head in a hole for months to avoid the anxiety of sorting through the logistics of relationships in a particularly controversial time. Now, I’ve put on my big girl pants and I’m dusting off my copy of Difficult Conversations.
That said, I plan to continue keeping my social media mostly all about kids, dogs, horses, writing, and all that brings me peace or joy. That’s the best reflection of me and I prefer to scream into the actual void over the electronic one.
I am deeply skeptical of being on a team when it comes to politics and I’ve never been more confident in my choice to be a registered independent.
I will never choose politics over the people I care about.
This doesn’t mean I don’t have opinions or that I’m unwilling to discuss them.
Whenever there are millions on both sides of a given issue, the term “sheep” doesn’t really fit, does it? Or perhaps it fits everyone, just with different shepherds?
I wish I still didn’t know how many people in my life and the world at large think I’m stupid, naive, content to be ruled by my government overlords, and happy to throw away my own and others’ freedom.
I imagine there are lots of other people wishing they didn’t know how many people in their lives and in the world at large think they’re stupid, racist, fascist, and happy to murder their countrymen.
I still believe that most of us are pretty much the same–just acting and speaking on differently prioritized fears. Which is not a reason to ignore issues or quit fighting for what you believe in, but might be a better place to start.
There’s always a way forward and you can’t legislate a person’s heart.
There has been so much to write, but since my dog passed away in late April I haven’t had the heart to write any of it. A little list will have to do for the moment.
I’m spending part of my morning looking at door knobs and enjoying it way more than I feel like I should. One of my favorite things about having our own home is choosing just what we want to put in it.
Things are changing at Mac n’ Cheese Manor! Exciting, wonderful, lovely things! More to come on that in the next few weeks. : )
We started our seeds a bit late but they are thriving in their little plastic trays! I’m excited and terrified as I do NOT have a good track record with plants. And by “not good” I mean I have literally never managed to keep a plant alive in my life and not for lack of trying.
My sweet Sunshine is getting so big and has so much to say and I simply cannot (even as I perfectly can) remember how small she was or imagine how she will grow.
Our cat got a mouse last night!!!! He really is the very best of cats, my sweet, salty Morris.
Time ticks onward, even without my Why?lee, and I’m grateful that spring is busy on a farm, even a very small one.
Big changes coming for Mac n’ Cheese Manor!!! We are working with the Get the Lead Out program to certify our house as lead free which will include: new windows, siding, doors (inside and out), and trim. We’re working with MassSave to insulate! It will likely be a few months yet, but the contractors who will bid on the work have been here to look around and after months of paperwork and phone calls, I feel like we’re finally moving forward!
I have never had a garden and know nothing about growing things, but we’re going to give a small garden a try this year. Wish me luck, I’m going to need it, or rather, our poor plants are going to need it! On a similar but different note, we are also planning to build a chicken coop! I mean, can we really call it a farm, even a little one, if there’s no garden or chickens?
On the battle front, we continue to lose to the squirrels. We have four traps (three live/one kill) and every day the bait is gone but the traps are empty. We’ll be welcoming two cats to our home as soon as the construction work is complete and hopefully they can succeed where we are failing.
I stopped using shampoo about a month ago and I’m never going back!!! I’ve started using New Wash which is completely fantastic, but is also quite expensive. So when I run out, I’m going to try the curly girl method and see if that works for me as well. I have a friend who does it and her hair looks great so I’m crossing my fingers!
As it relates to writing, I’ve changed my mind about rewrites. As I’ve gone through it, I find that most of what I wrote doesn’t want to be rewritten; It was what it was at the time and looks too different in hindsight for me to even know where to begin. I’m still going to fill out the rest of my Cancer Files, but by adding to them, not rewriting them. Everything else I’m leaving be. There are so many new chapters to write!
It’s been a lovely and difficult winter for me. It is so beautiful here. I haven’t loved snow like this since I was a child. I fall more in love with our creaky, old, farmhouse and rambling eight or so acres every day. We’ve made wonderful new friends, and I love being home with my Sunshine. And yet, when the anniversary of my mid-December move arrived, I felt so sad for all we’re missing by not living closer to our families and friends back West. There is a certain kind of loneliness for much-loved people and places that is unbearably bittersweet.
2018 is just going to be a big and busy year for us. Between repairs to the house, additions to the farm, and our wild baby, we’re going to be hopping and that’s not a bad thing. I feel like I need to be this kind of busy right now. Lots to do, but not sooooo much to do that I can’t sneak in a momosa and some writing time here and there. : )
Can a farmhouse also be a beach house? I feel like this is the question my Pinterest is asking . . .
I love the feeling of satisfaction I get after putting everything in the crock pot that dinner is done and it’s only 10am.
I buy birdseed now. Just one more, small step toward becoming my mother. : )
Lacing up my Kodiaks with a smile on this ten degree morning to let my horses out, haul water buckets, throw hay, and walk my dogs and baby; I am so happy to be living this life, no matter all it took to get here.
Rereading the poetry and writing of my twenties–my shame, my cancer, my life before I understood what I had already been taught about value, love, and happiness has been at times difficult, but mostly an exquisite and tender opportunity to love myself as I was then in a way that I couldn’t as I was then.
Also, even when writing about the past, my words have always carried me forward.
Well, my hour for coffee and writing is up; the messy kitchen is calling . . .
When we finally arrived at our new life, I found the person I had packed up would not do at all. Four boxes of clothing and only two pairs of Levi’s?
Who have I become?
I went back to open that dark door again,
but found only a small, bright window where it used to be.
And what should I make of that?
It’s been over a year and I just switched my focus forward from all I left behind. Had I waited a moment longer, I might have fallen right over the edge of my life.
Motherhood broke my heart and I can’t keep anyone out anymore.
I’m going back to ugly places, where there are beautiful lines, poorly housed in shanty poems. And when I get there, I’ll be kind to the girl who wrote all that falling down poetry. Even if she’s a stranger now, I walked here in her shoes.
He understands and gave me books to read and time alone for Christmas.
I’m not sure why now, I just know that my thirties feel complicated but without all the fire and fear of my twenties. It’s as if I could write it all again, only thicker this time, with more satisfaction and less splattering.
I kicked jealousy out of my bed for hogging all the covers and my toes are finally warm. My writing is much improved without the distraction of freezing toes.
This old house invites me to sit while she holds us all safe within and let my mind wander out past the field stone walls. She seems to understand so well, I am clearly not the first writer to live here.
My daydreams are clearer, my fingers slower, my desire steadier, and my thoughts more complete than they have ever been.
Outside, the wind is swirling so many autumn leaves so high, it’s like living in a fall snow globe.
It feels like I have a place in this lovely, little town; I’m just not sure where it is yet.
To love and care for my old dog, who loved and cared for me so very well in his prime, has been one of the greatest honors of my life.
Don’t tell my husband or my mother in law, but my daughter is reminding me of everything I ever loved about Christmas before working in retail destroyed that love. At least I thought it was destroyed . . .
We were going to call our little farm Boldlygo, but just the other day, my sweet Sunshine brought me a book off of her shelf and we read it together. It was a long-forgotten favorite of mine and fits too perfectly to pass up naming our place The Tomten Farm.
As it always does, fall is pulling me into myself where all the winter words are, and though it hasn’t always been a pleasant journey, I find myself looking forward to writing from that dark, silent space.
I don’t know how he is always the man of my dreams when my dreams are always changing. I just know that every day I wake up and it’s still him.
I’d tell it to go away, but it’s just too beautiful. I love the way it rains here: big, cold drops that soak everything, a fine mist hanging in the air like we live in a cloud, and the world is all in shades of blue.
I have made so much bread this past month that my favorite, base recipe is memorized and I’ve gone through almost twenty pounds of flour!
Last week, while unpacking and going through my clothes, I found all my work slacks and blouses and had the surreal feeling that I was unpacking, shaking out, folding, and repacking a whole different person. One year seems like a lifetime ago.
I don’t think I’ve ever taken so long to try at putting a new life together. I could tell you it’s because I was so tired and so busy with new motherhood or I could tell you the truth; I didn’t want to move so, in my stubborn way, I did, but I also didn’t. I’m incredibly grateful we happened upon this crazy, lovely house in this tiny, lovely town. We have been welcomed so warmly, I’ve found it impossible to hold on to my anger and depression.
There’s a patch of blue sky getting bigger outside my kitchen window and the weather app says we’re heading for over 70 degrees . . . I think I’m going to pack up my sweet Sunshine when she’s done napping and find some water today. : )