I know I told you I was seeking space for quiet contemplation and soul-serenity this January, but last week I did the opposite of that: I went on vacation with my family. As in, Stephen and I took all three of our kids on an airplane, and we flew to Wisconsin for a long weekend with my family to meet my newborn nephew. It was not restful, but it was loads of fun! And it gave me new appreciation for our balmy Texas weather and for the convenience of a single-story home. (Seriously. Just putting up with the cold is one thing. But the gear! Keeping up with all those hats and gloves and boots would make me lose my ever-loving mind. Hats off–or on– to you insane people who live in places with more than three days of winter!)
But did I mention we had a great time? The kids played in the snow, danced to live polka music at a restaurant, took in the kid-friendly signs of Milwaukee, and doted on their little cousins. I soaked up time with my family together; as more kids come along, it’s harder for us all to get together, and even keeping up by chatting on the phone is challenging. (Does anyone else have this trouble? How do people keep in touch??)
We’re in the final-weeks countdown of waiting for Caboose. This has so many implications for me right now, it’s hard to wrap my mind around it all, but here is one: I feel exhausted and whiny all the time. Here is my best defense against being a completely useless blob on the couch: Dress in real clothes. Feeling especially tired or listless? Dress up even more (leggings and dresses or skirts look great and are as comfortable as pajamas). Every day, without fail, I put on fresh clothes (jeans or dresses–not yoga pants, at least not for me), and put on makeup and jewelry. This sends a very powerful signal to my body and my brain that this is a day to be a person, not a potato.
Not only does this simple practice guarantee an improved mental state for myself, it sends a nice message of respect and kindness to the people who have to look at me all day. I have never, ever forgotten this story I read years ago in Almost French (a highly recommended memoir):
Rushing to the bakery to get a baguette and croissants, I chuck on an old, shapeless jumper and my warmup pants, which I’d rediscovered at the bottom of a wardrobe when we were packing up our place at Levallois. Catching sight of me, Frederic was appalled.
“Warmup pants?” He’s never seen me wearing them before.
“What’s wrong with that? I’m only going to the bakery.”
There is a second’s pause. Frederic’s eyes implore me. Finally, he manages to speak. “But it’s not nice for the baker!”
I know that many, many people can pull off athleisure apparel and a great mental attitude at the same time. Carry on, friends! But if you struggle with feeling dumpy and unmotivated, you might give jeans and lipstick a try.
Here’s a little snapshot of some other pertinent trivia:
What I’m reading: The Ballad of the Whiskey Robber: A True Story of Bank Heists, Ice Hockey, Transylvanian Pelt Smuggling, Moonlighting Detectives, and Broken Hearts by Julian Rubinstein. I’m literally on page one, so I can’t say much about it except that with a title like that, how can it NOT be amazing?
The Glory of Christ by John Owen. Full confession: I am reading a revised and abridged version and it’s still plenty challenging for me.
(ICYMI, bookish friends, Leslie and I have slowed down with posting on our book blog, but we’ve kept our Instagram account hopping! Check us out @windowsandmirrorsblog if you like to talk books!)
What I’m watching: Stephen and I are watching The West Wing while we fold laundry at nights these days. We’re only in season one, but we’re hooked! It’s unashamedly partisan, but if you can get past that, the story and characters are interesting.
My kids are drifting aimlessly in their TV watching now that Jake and the Neverland Pirates has been taken off of Netflix. TBD on where they’ll land next, although I’ve nixed several of their suggestions.
What I’m listening to: My non-contemplative home leaves me on sensory overload most of the time, and I’ve found that most music only adds to the noise for me. I’m gravitating toward very simple instrumental arrangements, which fortunately I can find in pretty good quantity on Amazon music.
Just in the past few days I’ve enjoyed a few episodes of the podcast Off Camera, which I’ve heard recommended a number of times. They are long, in-depth interviews with celebrities. Quite interesting, although your kids might learn some new words if they happen into the kitchen at the wrong moment.
I’m trying to listen to Daily Audio Psalm every morning. I’ve tried lots of daily Bible podcasts, and so far none have stuck. There are several things I like about this one, but the host/reader closes out every episode by saying “I love you.” I haven’t decided if I can live with that or not.
And, of course, I remain a devoted consumer of anything produced by or featuring Anne Bogel of Modern Mrs. Darcy.
What have YOU been up to, lately?