A Whole Hour @ My Desk By the Teal Wall

I packed a backpack yesterday. I love my winter bag, with its beads and detail but the reality of 7 round trips to schools not only put some snags in the bag’s future but the time in the car meant – well, that I needed some gear.

I started writing a devotion series this week. I invited two friends to invest some time (3 come February) in learning alongside me as I study the planets and apply ancient text to their meaning. I chose to start off with “Generous Jupiter” and already am having some fun finding insights into Jupiter’s placement in my natal chart, the way generosity jives and does not jive in my life, and related scripture.

In yoga, there is this term for self study and for study of ancient text, “Svādhyāya”. That’s basically what this is.

I started out this post with a whole hour to write when a girlfriend of mine called me up. She is one of my oldest adult friends (about 15 years running). She moved away a couple of years ago and our Tuesday nights (when I went to her house after yoga, hung with her and her husband and kids, helped clean up kitchen, processed life, had a good time) came to an end and – with that – we stopped talking as much. Naturally, I stopped what I was doing to hear her voice and laugh about whatever BS was going on.

We talked a little bit about looking like our moms and our grandmothers and how it was both terrifying and sweet at the same time.

I shared with her about a story I wrote yesterday about two flowers: one ancient and leathery and eternal, growing more flexible with time and the other young, perky and fierce, growing stronger each day.

The ancient flower grows more flexible with each storm or beating from the sun, learning to fold and tuck and curl. The younger flower grows stronger with each storm or beating; muscling the sun and water into stem and learning to use its roots.

In the story, there are two passersby and the ancient flower hears the one passerby say to the other, “look at that young flower, doesn’t it look like that ancient one?”

In hearing this, the ancient flower folds and bows is reverence; humbled and moved in the heart. See, the ancient flower adored the young one, marveled at its youth and just thought it was absolutely beautiful. To hear somebody think that the young flower looked like it, was one of the purest deepest compliments it had ever received.

I shared with my friend that it was a story I wrote in reflecting on my own awe of my daughter, Lucy. Sometimes I look at her and am amazed at her beauty and the brightness of her smile. I am blown away by it. When I hear people say, “she looks like you” I feel so deeply complimented and, in some ways – in most ways – I do not believe it.

I told my friend I wanted to capture this somehow in a story. The fascinating honor to have your beautiful children be called to look like you. Even for people like my sister, whose daughter is adopted, right? See? It’s something in the weathering… in the expression… its an element in and of itself.

“Wow, dude, that’s deep”, she chuckled.

I sent a call to voicemail while on with her so, naturally, checked for that after we hung up.

The missed call was from a Webster friend dropping off a wedding gift and “something I found in my basement that made me think of you”.

We chatted briefly on my front porch, next to the twenty some odd odds and ends that are being held there while life inside gets sorted out. The thing in her basement was a fountain, which the cats will love. I shared with about the Jupiter devotions and she gave me my favorite of her “that sure is something” looks. “Yeah man,” she said, “you know, you’re my most out there friend. Like you’re not like scientologist out there, but – for sure – you’re pretty out there.” I smiled.

If only people knew half of everything I have in my brain. David is at like 1/3 of knowing what’s going on in there… he calls me “special”.

So – here we are now – that whole hour is past but somehow I still got what I wanted into this post: the flower story I wrote yesterday and start a little thing about my backpack. More on that another time….

In closing, these two interactions with friends are very cooly connected with how I feel having heard from a co-worker from Enterprise yesterday. She reached out, left a voicemail and then texted again and I’m SO glad she did. I was busy (911 call on Monday night, shower wouldn’t turn off yesterday, the driving… the driving… ) and her reaching out a couple times kept her top of mind.

We exchanged today and it was really nice. She shared a picture of her cactus and work space. We texted easily and naturally, though never having connected via that medium before. It reminded me of a woman named Lisa from my work that wanted to stay in touch… “need more strong women in my life” she said.

In writing this all now, it is reminding me of my last week at work. As folks said goodbye and asked to stay in touch “about yoga”… “about God”… “I like this spiritual Erin I did not know you were”… “let’s write”…. “let’s hike”…. “would love to talk about kids”…. “curious your recipes, can’t wait to share mine”… I remember feeling like OH YEAH I TALK ABOUT OTHER THINGS WITH THESE PEOPLE.

I remember feeling like FOR SURE these people I enjoy at work are people I would enjoy outside of work.

The richness of friendship is where I love to give my energy: in relationships, in conversation, in experience.

So, that’s a neat “first real week after retiring and the holidays” gusto. I don’t know if my old co-worker who texted me about gardening, betta fish and cacti realized that she did the Lord’s work in reaching out. But she did. She helped connect the dots.

And now, on to my Adobe Procreate online tutorial on animation. Fingers crossed that my flower / plant story is a little Apple Tree Magic video soon…. Man, I want to know how to animate SO BAD.

More on that and my backpack again soon….

The end. Enjoy one of my favorite pictures of Lucy. Flying back from LA after her 10 y/o “mom and me” birthday trip.

Oatmeal @ Clean Bedroom – Webster

This morning I overheard a conversation in the other room about the annoyance and inconvenience of maple and brown sugar oatmeal.

Of all the oatmeal flavors: apple cinnamon, bananas and cream, blueberries and cream, etc, maple and brown sugar oatmeal is not only less preferable but it actually causes offense. Serving this flavor to a child will bring scorn on your household.

Thing is, depending on where I order groceries from, the Fruit and Cream only pack may not be available. Added to that, given the fact that we could survive a small developed country for a year on the amount of oatmeal consumed in our household in a month, I kind of assume that the worst thing that could happen if we have a few of these MBS packets laying around is that a teenager will shrug their shoulders and eat them sometime between 2a and 3a in the morning when they reached the end of TikTok.

Try as I might, as I have been cleaning today, I cannot shake “the inconvenience of maple and brown sugar”. The call for action to ban MBS oatmeal in the household had a gravitas to it and it just got in my head. All morning as I have been cleaning, I found myself thinking “this is so inconvenient”.

Caked mud in my rug? Inconvenient.

Printer paper removed and not replaced? Inconvenient.

8 cereal bowls when 3 people ate? Inconvenient. The fact that two of them had almost entire portions of strawberries and cream oatmeal sitting in them for me to scrape out? Comedic and inconvenient.

Squashed blueberry in between the floor boards? Inconvenient.

Clean laundry heaped in a laundry basket? Inconvenient.

But more inconvenient than any of that was the fact that I was thinking this and my Monday morning groove with the tunes and the caring for the house was tainted by a pervasive voice in my head marching a rebellion of spirit. And I didn’t want that. I don’t want that.

“How disgusting to have maple and brown sugar oatmeal in the house. How offensive.” I kept thinking as I wiped down the toilet seats or as I scraped out caked applesauce with my thumbnail.

As I was putting the plants back in the south side window, I realized maybe I was grieving.

Maybe the sting of what came across as an insult resulted in me grieving the purpose I felt in my work. It’s not that the purpose I felt in my work is something I lost when I retired from corporate life. Purpose was something I hoped to reignite when I took a leap of faith on a new job in February and it just did not happen.

I let myself explore this for a little bit and found myself replaying some thoughts I had last night about work.

When I was falling asleep last night, I wondered if something had come up in the past couple of weeks that would have been “a job for Erin”. These days, the satisfaction of the perfect Excel filter is rivaled by the satisfaction of vacuuming up this one particularly popular corner in the kitchen and so today? I found myself wanting to be the smart person.

I found myself missing that feeling of showing up to a meeting and hearing, “oh good – you’re here”.

I miss the importance I allowed myself to feel when preparing for a meeting and having what I thought were the key questions to get answered so I could jump on and then jump off to a different collaboration I knew I was going to play an active part on.

My purpose felt reduced to the right flavors of oatmeal. Ah, yes, that is the emotional crux I dealt with this morning.

And the thing about it is that I know what I need to do. I need to finish up the odds and ends to button up my Monday cleaning and get to my notebooks. I have a self set deadline to send the content for the writing project I am working on to Delene (editor) this Thursday. I need to follow up with the publishing team at Village books. I need to get down in my creative hole.

I need to binge a show while I put together Christmas gifts and enjoy my creativity.

I need to align with my real, real purpose: giving, creating, serving.

It can be so hard to zoom out though, can’t it? I’m getting there. The brain is an interesting thing. Writing helped. :)

The Work of Not Working @ Bedtime

All 5 kids are home. Lucy came back around dinner time and I heard Elle come in towards the end of the yoga class I was teaching out of my bedroom.

There is a group of about six 40+ year old women I teach to twice a month. I started praying over them at the start and end of class. We have grown into a little community. It’s a sweet, kind hobby.

I cleaned the house from top to bottom today. I think Mondays are my cleaning days now. I feel like I need to dislike Mondays just like everybody else. It just doesn’t seem fair if everybody is going to work and to school and I’m like “k gonna pack your lunch and read a book”. I want to stay relevant, you know. So I deep clean on Mondays.

Side note – Happy to report that my latest towel strategy (delivering a fresh towel on the bed, every three days) is keeping the conundrum to a minimum.

Today was grueling because I was tired but it had lots of sweet moments. I gave Kara an old black blazer from my junior career days. Ellen and Lucy never wanted it but I hung on to it bc it’s a great blazer. (I just had eventually upgraded to J Crew ya know)

Anyway – She has been wearing it since the moment I gave it to her – it looks awesome. You can tell she loves it.

Lucy got her cast off. Not sure if I ever wrote about that but she fell and broke her wrist back four weeks ago. So she got a yellow cast for Christmas :) we took care of that this morning. I put on heels and jeans bc I was leaving the house. It was interesting. :)

When Ellen got home, Maddox was all about her. Fred the elf has been visiting (and writing) every day. Karma got me for never doing elf on la shelf for Ellen and Lucy and now I have an 8 year old who has “researched elves” and is really (super) into it. Not going to lie, my elf game is pretty strong. I’ll share more sometime.

I had a meeting this afternoon with a designer, Beth – a friend of mine from church who is crazy talented. I’m doing some inquiring about getting professional help for the look and feel of my books.

The appointment was at 2:30pm. And pretty sure it was the highlight of my day.

I was tired this morning from binge watching Emily in Paris yesterday. My eyes were burning at the cast appointment. Once I got home, cleaning made me crabby bc fatigue makes me take everything personally.

After meeting with Beth, I shared what I learned with David and he said his heart felt full bc of how lit up I was about it.

Every day I allow myself to recognize myself as an artist, I become more of an artist. I grow a deeper happiness and into a more true nature.

Which is great but more importantly I need to keep David’s heart full bc I accidentally forgot to put the guard on the buzzer yesterday and legit buzzed a line at a 0 (bald) down the right side of the back of his head.

The laughter that pours out of me related to my humiliation, how extreme of a mistake I made and how kind he was about it simply makes me belly laugh. It has been my ab work out.

We did have an agreement that there may be a mistake I learn from before I embarked on cutting his hair, so that worked in my favor. I feel so bad. I’m fascinated by how bad I feel and how that feeling makes me laugh. What is that? So curious.

I just had to capture this full full day. I feel like I barely scratched the surface. Going to attempt some home made granola tomorrow and make Instagram videos of my facial reaction while I check each of the kids grades and missing assignments.

The work of not working is truly in being yourself. I have been thinking a lot lately about how many artists and writers and musicians are in 9-5 jobs for health insurance. I wonder how much better our culture would be if we had universal health care (with a private option of course) so we could have more artists creating art.

Ok – here are some pics :)

Ellen and Maddox
When I teach and they go into resting pose it just looks like I’m monitoring nest cams or something
Magic tricks in new blazer