- Leftover blooms reminding me of the kindest weekend with friends and family.
- Sleeping (mostly) through the night and savoring every bit of it.
- Hints of warmer weather which allow for evening walks through the park.
Josh completed his first 100 mile bike ride.
He constantly amazes and surprises me.
While I rested in the company of Mom, Dad, and Millie.
Waiting around for the increasingly frequent baby movements, patching a sacred pair of pants, savoring the language of A Gentleman in Moscow and Millie snuggles, and convincing Mom to play a game of Dutch Blitz each night.
The reality that our next visit to the Vaught home will look a bit different hit me a bit unexpectedly as I drove away on Sunday. Beginnings, no matter how joyful, are always met with endings.
I was brought home from the hospital and spent eighteen years in the same home. My parents live in that home to this day.
College, naturally, brought a move each year.
And in the last almost five years of marriage we have lived in three different homes.
The everyday memories of the years are contained within the home and I do enjoy looking back with gratitude for where we’ve been and what the future might hold.
Our first apartment – all one room with a tiny bedroom on a closed college campus. Within a week of returning from our honeymoon, these two warmed our home with our wedding gifts. We celebrated Thanksgiving 2013 here, with my sister and brother-in-law, parents, and our friend Jacob who lived around the corner. Josh was working at the residential facility which meant he had to work that evening and my family graciously surrounded me with their presence on that holiday.
We spent one of the hardest years (2015) in the Nettleton apartment – many nights and days with the mattress pulled into the living room. Bringing our pup Millie home where she patrolled the apartment by barking at every passerby. Many walks to the snow cone stand down the street, walks around the block in spring weather, and one incident where the bottom of the popcorn popper was completely singed and Josh’s shirt was singed when left alone after gallbladder surgery. Sweetness and sadness will always be intermingled when I think of that apartment.
(Ok, I did make them pose for this picture Monday morning.)
Mom and Dad (and Heather and Timothy) came down for an icy weekend in Springfield. Two trips to our favorite coffee shop within two days, meals made in our kitchen and enjoyed around our table, and naps in the cozy chair.
We moved into the Loren Street house last June. And this June we will be snuggling our baby boy within the walls of this home. I am overwhelmed with gratitude for this life that Josh and I share.
This year was marked by several changes.
(In a way, most years are.)
I stepped back into teaching.
We moved out of our apartment and into the sweetest home.
We celebrated four years of marriage.
(And celebrated a lot of growth independently and together.)
Travelled across the pond.
(This one still makes me giddy!)
I let myself feel joy instead of rehearsing tragedy.
(One of the sweetest gifts.)
And practiced gratitude (imperfectly) instead of believing in scarcity.
While a blog post on the internet cannot hardly contain all of the day-to-day moments (and those too sacred) that make up a year – it’s really special to me to look back and see all the fruit that a year holds.
(And how can you resist a six year streak?)
“Once we make the connection between vulnerability and joy, the answer is pretty straightforward; We’re trying to beat vulnerability to the punch. We don’t want to get blindsided by hurt. We don’t want to be caught off-guard, so we literally practice being devastated or never move from self-elected disappointment. For those of us who rehearse tragedy, there’s a reason those images flood into our mind the second we’re overwhelmed with joy. When we spend our lives (knowingly or unknowingly) pushing away vulnerability, we can’t hold space open for the uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure of joy.”
Eating out was a big deal in my family. My dad worked the evening shift so it was just my mom, sister, and I for weeknight dinners. Even though my mom worked full time she would make dinner at home, around the table every weeknight. Even if it was tuna noodle casserole. Again.
I can vividly remember one of the rare weeknight splurges. We were out later than usual – hanging around with mom at work while she finished up when it was decided that we would pick up food on our way home that night.
My sister and I had differing opinions. I preferred Taco Bell, she wanted a local burger place. I was so excited at the thought of going to Taco Bell that I left the most obnoxious phone message on our answering machine at home revealing my excitement. I couldn’t help it! This was a big deal and I was ready to celebrate.
Although in my mind it was a done deal we did not end up at Taco Bell. Lamenting the whole way home (I’m sure) we ended up at the burger joint.
And when we got home, I hid behind my bed in my room, mortified as they played the phone messages knowing that my overly-excited message would play next.
I was embarrassed.
I had let myself get my hopes up and when it didn’t happen I was crushed.
And for whatever reason, that memory claws its way out when exciting things might happen.
I leave the exclamation point off of events in my calendar just in case things don’t quite work out.
I don’t want to be the girl crossing it off later thinking, “Why did I let myself get so giddy about this? That’s so dumb.”
This happens with little things. And it’s laughable.
Not eating where you want to eat as a ten year old and pouting about it is not really that abnormal.
But I’ve realized that in some ways it’s almost a symptom of a deeper problem.
A vulnerability problem.
I don’t want to be the girl hiding from embarrassment that she was too excited.
I’d rather shake my excitement off.
Pretending to not be.
So that in the end, if it doesn’t work out, I won’t be embarrassed.
There have been a lot of times in my life where life was good.
And I worried.
When will the other shoe drop?
What’s going to happen to my family or to my security or to myself?
This is too good.
And you know what?
I was right.
The other shoe dropped.
And then ten more dropped.
I lost things I wasn’t even preparing myself to lose.
So in my mind I had every right to worry.
I was preparing myself to feel grief.
I was trying to beat vulnerability to the punch.
There’s something deep inside of me that doesn’t like being vulnerable.
So I’m writing a few things with exclamation points.
Letting myself feel joy even when I might be disappointed in the end.
And mostly I’m dwelling on gratitude instead of rehearsing tragedy.
Someone I love says it like this, “Life is full of possibilities, not limitations.”
My mornings with these four have been so sweet.
Plenty of time outside in the sunshine and cool fall-like breezes.
Science experiments and practicing turn-taking.
The good stuff.
“We’re afraid to lose what we love the most, and we hate that there are no guarantees. We think that not being grateful and not feeling joy will make it hurt less. We think if we can beat vulnerability to the punch by imagining loss, we’ll suffer less. We’re wrong. There is one guarantee: If we’re not practicing gratitude and allowing ourselves to know joy, we are missing out on two things that will actually sustain us during the inevitable hard times.” (Yes.)
Road trips bring out the best in us, musically.
What kind of person is it that loves routine but not too much so every two weeks or so I need something to completely wreck my routine so I go back to loving it?
I’m guessing it’s the same type of person that still uses a day planner and asked for a PDA for Christmas as a kid. . .