This morning was an exceptionally beautiful morning.
Last night, I came upon a blog post that made me feel sheepish.
These two things combined = this post!
#2 above is a post from just over four years ago, when I had come back to the blog, head hanging, after failing spectacularly to complete 100 Happy Days. I had good reasons for not having finished, and I forgave myself… but then I blithely said I would fill in the rest over the next (maybe) year or so. I’m pretty sure I never completed a single other 100 Happy Days post. So much for taking this blogger at her word.
Then, this morning, I had outdoor supervision prior to the first bell. I had been rushing around with the kids, as I always do on the early-duty mornings, and then once I got to school it took me a few minutes of walking around to settle down and look around me.
We had a dusting of snow in the night, so on this windless morning, there were sparkles on everything. (The photos do not do justice to the sparkles, I’m afraid. They were dazzling.) It was cold enough to see my breath, but the sun felt actually, truly warm, after a long icy winter. The birds were singing and there were geese arriving home and the kids were sliding around on the remaining bits of ice. The snow was already beginning to melt by the time the bell rang – this magical combination of elements is inevitably ephemeral – and I felt so fortunate to have had this moment of awe to start my school day.
The Spring Equinox and March’s full moon both happen tomorrow. Seems magical, n’est-ce pas?
It feels weird, but REALLY good, to be writing this, after falling off that wagon three weeks ago and then skulking around the wagon trail pretending I might get back on at any moment but knowing in my heart that I’d never make it up into the jockey box with a heavy rucksack weighing me down.
The rucksack, if you haven’t guessed already, is “100 Happy Days.”
I love the idea of sharing images of the things – usually simple and ordinary – that give you a smile or a thrill in a day. I have loved seeing the things that my friends have posted as their photos for 100 Happy Days. But as of this writing, the last happy day I ostensibly had was Day 39, twenty-four days ago.
Which is part of why it’s taken me so long to get typing. It’s kinda embarrassing. I never would have pictured myself as someone who couldn’t hack one happy picture per day for three months… One of those quitters they talk about on the 100 Happy Days website who just can’t find the time to log my happiness.
Though, to be honest, the attitude on that website bugs me. The idea that the people who didn’t complete the challenge “didn’t have time to be happy” is inappropriately smug, and also, I suspect, bullsh*t.
It wasn’t true in my case. I have always been a person who deliberately savours things and moments and images. Sometimes you want to take a picture, and sometimes you want to just enjoy. Sometimes you’re smiling because of words or fragrances or endorphins that are not photographable. And sometimes you look at the curve of your child’s cheek and know you could take a thousand pictures and still never capture the bliss of it.
A few things I realized while NOT blogging:
An early setback really takes the wind out of the sails. I mean, duh, of course it does. But the thing about me is, the longer I work at something, the more stubborn I get about finishing. If I could have used my initial momentum to get the first thirty days legitimately done, then I would probably have kicked into stubborn mode and made it a lot further. But with my technical difficulties early on, and being behind before I really got started, the momentum and inspiration just ebbed away. Sigh.
It’s confirmed: I don’t blog to post. I blog to write. If I’m not carefully selecting and kneading and relishing the words, at least to some extent, then I’m not invested. While I love seeing other bloggers’ photos and photo-based posts, posting photos myself does not motivate me. (Clearly.)
Those seemingly simple photo posts took up just enough time each day that I never felt I could spare more for the wordier posts I wanted to write.
All those pent-up words I wasn’t writing were getting very antsy in my brain.
The longer I spent not writing or posting at all, the more upsetting it was to remind myself of my neglected blog. Where would I even start, after disappointing myself so, and subconsciously saying “screw it” to the whole process?
Well, that’s what the New Year is for.
Here’s my plan. For those of you who would like to see the happy photos I continued to take even though I wasn’t posting them, I will back-publish them in chunks. When I have time.
And just to appease the (large, insistent) part of me that hates quitting, I will say that my 100 Happy Days can happen whenever. I will post a happy photo and add it to the list when it makes sense to do so. My 100 days might take all year; so be it.
To you lovely di-hards who nudged me, letting me know you missed my posts, thank you. It means a lot to me that you noticed and cared.
And to you lovely di-hards who noticed and cared but didn’t mention it, thank you also – I appreciate that too. Since the person who nags me the most about this compulsive hobby is actually me.
To sum up: it’s 2015. This year it’s all gonna happen. Time to get over myself, stop being annoyed/guilty/self-critical and be awesome instead.
Remember how play forts were the best thing in the world? Even I, a confirmed claustrophobe, loved small private (or semi-private) spaces as a child. Taking out the drawers from the bottom bunk and hanging out under the bed with my older sister Emily, or later on when I changed roommates, walling off the corner bunk with sheets and conducting secret business (of some kind) with my younger sister Beth.
And it’s best if you find or create it yourself. E and AB have an Ikea circus tent that makes a lovely fort, and a big sturdy cardboard box with “windows” for another one, but they scoped out these storage shelves themselves, so they’re automatically a cooler fort. Like a bear cave or a forest nook, self-discovered. Plus: two storeys, below-shelf and above-shelf.
A month or so ago, I read an article from the New York Times called “Kissing Your Socks Goodbye.” It discusses the book – and process – of one Marie Kondo, who helps people de-clutter, re-organize, and make more lovely their homes.
I think I’d like to read her book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing,” but in the meantime I latched onto the roll-folding idea (a space-saver!) and the idea of only having items in your closet that “spark joy.”
I am naturally a pack rat. I always think things will be useful later. (Occasionally, they are.) But I am slowly getting better at being realistic about whether I actually use the things I have, especially in my closet.
I hadn’t planned to re-organize on this day, but somehow I started and then just went with it. I wish I had a “Before” picture – my closet shelf especially tends to be a place of tipping-over piles where T-shirts can get lost for months. Now look!
It is always a relief to have organized… but it never lasts as long as it should. Now I’m just hoping that this system will be easier to maintain.
This year, we are marking the days of advent LIKE A BOSS. Like a whole FAMILY O’ BOSSES.
That is to say, E still has Auntie Beth’s gorgeous creation which we fill day by day with tiny nifty things. (Except for yesterday, when I broke E’s heart by not having it secretly filled by the instant he woke up, and he cried and insisted, “It gets filled at night! Now it’ll never work again!!!” But then, it magically did work, while he was at school.)
Then, Grandma J got the kids each a classic Santa Claus advent calendar with teeny stamped chocolates for each day – because who doesn’t love a teeny chocolate first thing in the morning? Sean gets all nostalgic about his own advent-chocolate exploits of childhood. And AB was pretty screechy-happy when she found out what was behind those windows.
And this year, I finally ordered “traditional” advent calendars for E and AB – the kind with little pictures behind each window, like I had when I was a kid. Because I love-love-loved my own advent calendar and wanted them to have something similar.
And then Grammie sent animated virtual advent calendars from (by Jacquie Lawson), and they are very spiffy. Games and puzzles and tree-decorating and pets that follow you around, and new things to explore each day. (My favourite thing so far is the snowflake designing tool, where the six-way symmetry turns whatever you make into a gorgeous snowflake.)
To sum up: with this much counting down, there’s no excuse for not being absolutely ready for Christmas this year! Unless the excuse is that we were having too much fun with our advent calendars to do anything else.
This morning after taking E to the bus with me, AB thought she’d visit our neighbour’s driveway. She even ventured all the way to his front steps. I asked if she was going to come inside with me or go live with Steve.
She said nonchalantly, “Yep. I’m gonna go live with Steve.”
After a few minutes, she changed her mind, claiming “Steve is a monster.” (Monsters are on her mind a lot right now, though seemingly not in a very scary way.) I assured her that Steve is actually a nice guy, but she opted to have breakfast with me anyway.
I love her in this poofy powder-pink snowsuit. She also has a brown coat with leopard-spotted lining, which I have to admit is edgier… but gosh. I like the pink in spite of myself.
Auntie Emi is a knitter. Today she made me and AB all excited by showing us the dozen different balls of washable wool she’d just ordered from KnitPicks. They emerged from her bag one by one, each colour more splendid than the last.
Even though I’m not a knitter or a crocheter, yarn makes me happy. And you already know that I deeply love rainbows, so I had to put them in order. Ahhhh. SO SATISFYING.