these ordinary things: vacation

“Because being a homemaker isn’t about being extraordinary.  It’s about seeing the ordinary in a conscious way.  A way that leads to gratitude, joy and understanding.  A way that helps me create an environment in which my family can become more human everyday.  If you are moved, I invite you to share your ordinary things by replying below or leaving a link.”

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John and I gave ourselves the gift of a short vacation last week: three nights on the Pacific shores of La Jolla, California.  Two days to vacate the course of our regular lives.  To forget the housework and papers in need of correcting and be free of the questioning and self-doubt that are destiny’s best friends.   Two days for new parts of the world to awaken in us what we hadn’t realized had fallen asleep.

We were lucky to do it there, where saltwater, earth and tides come together to make a place for pelicans and sea lions, palm trees and scurrying crabs.  Where arid plains and sky piercing rock are nowhere in sight.  And then, not even one full day into our trip, the report from home was dismal.  One very sick kiddo, another two close on his heals, and us 1000 miles away.  In seconds we were whisked away from this coastal haven.  Sucked right back into the questioning and self-doubt.

There are magical far away places that allow us a respite, it’s true.  But as far away as we go,  the course of our lives persistently knocks on the window of the rental car.  So we make a choice.  Pause, take a deep breath, be present.  Notice the way the surf sprays over the rocks and the sand–once shells– beneath our feet.  Or, we follow the sucking force, the anxieties of feverish children in need of a Mama or  Papa at their bedside, and we allow ourselves to be not quite transported but stuck in between where we are and where we want to be.

It’s that choice that allows us a vacation, be it miles from home, or standing at our own kitchen sinks, elbow deep in dishwater.  The choice to turn off the voice that wants us to believe that there is so much more to get done, to worry about or brood over.  Not enough hours in a day.  But there is, lots of them.  So many to fill that, sooner or later, we all need a vacation.

(Kiddos are all on the mend, as well as hard working grandparents.  Now all that’s left is to get Mama back on her feet.)

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abundance

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John and I just returned from a weekend getaway at Devil’s Thumb Ranch in Tabernash.  We take a few days every year to escape to this Eco-friendly resort nestled in a valley of the Rockies, with views of the Continental Divide.  Even during the off season (the few weeks when warm weather activities are out, the leaves are off the trees, and there is no snow to shepherd in the winter sports) the Rockies tower over you with some mix of magnificence and severity.  A friend of mine who lived at the base of Pike’s Peak for many years, once told me that she felt the mountain “knew her.”  I find this an apt description.  There is something active in these mountains, as if they not only pull us toward them with their force and upheaval, but also gaze down upon us, keeping their tallies.

DSC00448DSC00399  DSC00451It is only a few days, an hour and a half drive, but it feels like a big step away from everyday life of work and students, of home and children.  I managed to fit in quite a few things from my single stolen day list (I did spare the other guests the baroque arias), while John wrote poetry, of course.  Over delicious food and hiking and hot tub soaks, I was able to catch up, really, it cannot be said any other way, with my best friend.  “So, how’ve you been?!”  We can’t help but look at each other and realize with full clarity why and when and how it all began.  And be grateful.  For the space to leave it behind, and the joy that we carry when we return.

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We receive these few days at the Ranch every year from the owners, whose children are students of John.  I am to this day amazed at their generosity–they offer this gift to all the teachers who have loved their children.  But, I got to thinking on the drive up that maybe it’s not so generous after all.  Relax.  Hear me out.  It is, of course, deeply generous, but I doubt it makes a noticeable dent in their business.  In other words, if we gave this gift to someone else, it would be crippling to our household economy.  The owners of Devil’s Thumb, however, have an abundance of a resource that most of us do not.  And so a tiny thing to them, becomes a huge thing to us–I venture they have no idea how huge.  After a weekend at the Ranch, we take our renewed energy, restored inspiration and quieted hearts back to our everyday lives, and the effects ripple beyond us to our children, our colleagues, our friends and family.  All because someone gave a little bit of their extra to another human being, who could not have given it to themselves.

What if we all gave something of our own extra to others?  What if we all spent a little less time focused on getting what we don’t have, or being resentful of those who do, and put our abundance, whatever it might be, to work?

I for one, would feel a little more confident about facing those tallies the mountains are keeping.