Last weekend I felt great, really great. Self-assured. Focused and funny – able to concentrate and crack jokes with equal ease. Confident. I had my shit together. And it felt good.
I was in Memphis, playing concerts with an orchestra that I’ve been playing with since 2007. The people, place, and routine of rehearsals and performances are like home to me.
But this time was different from my last several trips South. This time was the first time in three years that I was there alone, without any kids.
I really enjoyed the conversations I had. I felt present, able to focus on what people said. Conversations that were casual-but-not-superficial flowed naturally. I didn’t think I knew how to do that anymore.
I enjoyed the playing. I had prepared well, but, moreover, I was able to play well in the moment. Rehearsals and performances were not a complicated array of insecurity and self-assurance and nostalgia – a frequent feeling in recent years – but instead a wonderful combination of ease and enjoyment. Continue reading
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They had a dog. A big, beautiful, wonderfully calm, long-haired golden retriever. And sitting on the floor with him — stroking his silky hair and listening to his contented breathing — was possibly the most peaceful thing about my life in 2003-2005.
Sometimes, I even got to walk him.
They also had what felt like a home. They had two kids – teenagers – and their dog and their life and their friends and their work. She talked to her mom on the phone every couple of days (I remember her answering it often when I was there – an old, hanging-on-the-wall phone) and they went for long morning walks along the river. They got the newspaper. They always had a pot of coffee on. I guess I felt like that’s what it was to be an adult. To have a home, and a routine, and a family, and a rich life woven together.
Their home was like a refuge to me – a haven of security and stability during wandering college and post-college years, when I was living with countless roommates, with haphazard furniture and random posters tacked onto the walls, eating Trader Joe’s frozen burritos for dinner. When I visited their home, I wanted to spend hours there (and often did) – learning from them and absorbing their life. I wanted to be transformed by their (seemingly) calm, collected, stable selves. Continue reading
I had a couple of really hard days with my three-year-old son Jacob last week. Like, really hard. Friends had warned me that the “terrible two’s” were mostly a myth and it was really three that was horrendous.
They were right.
I was entirely at the end of my rope by 1:30pm, when I put Jacob down for his nap and called one of my best friends, a seasoned mother of four. And the youngest two of her four are currently three.
“Oh Leah!” she said when she answered (I had already texted her the summary of our difficulties). And then she said two things that I haven’t stopped thinking about since.
“Know that you are just going to screw up,” she said. “No one is expecting you to be perfect, and no one is expecting you to parent perfectly.” Continue reading
So it’s a new year! And, with the New Year, a new post, and also a new purpose for this space. I recently read that famous passage Christians like to quote about how “we have this treasure in jars of clay.” We carry around a treasure – and this treasure is found in a jar made of clay. It’s not necessarily a beautiful, glazed, perfected jar, but a clay jar. It’s probably a simple jar. An unimpressive jar. Possibly even a broken jar. But it’s not the jar that is important – isn’t that the idea? It’s the treasure inside.
This got me thinking: what is my treasure? Continue reading
I had an incredible run today. It was incredible not because of the dirt roads or the farmland, not because of the breathtaking views or scenic waterways, not because of the cool breeze blowing my hair or the cacophony of bird noises filling my ears. It was incredible because of the way I witnessed and relived my own story of coming into adulthood in New York City.
Today I started out at the home that my husband and I own in upper Manhattan (well, technically the bank still owns most of it), the home where we are raising our two kiddos and figuring out what it is to be a family of four, living in THE City. I headed north, passing the playground where we took Jacob the day Hannah Grace was born and the swings that I rocked gently on that morning, wondering if that day would be the day that our lives would be forever changed – again. I turned around at the lighthouse that was my first “big destination” when I started running again after Hannah Grace was born, and ran beneath “our bridge,” as our toddler calls the GW.
Heading south, I entered such familiar territory. The miles I ran during our early marriage, sometimes staring blindly out at the water, wondering what I had gotten myself into as I tried to figure out how to bend my life to meet and embrace someone else’s. The miles I ran the morning I found out we were expecting Jacob, plotting how to tell Harrison and practically sprinting the entire distance in elated joy. The miles I walked when eight months pregnant with Jacob and I could run no more, and the loops I ran with our stroller when I first started running again after he was born. Continue reading
Well, we’re a traveling family this summer, and our itinerant lifestyle + lack of babysitters has left little time for writing. But despite cooking on a hot plate for a family of four; saving every leftover container, piece of tin foil, and produce bag for re-use; and traveling with an almost unimaginable amount of stuff (two pack-and-plays, high chair, toddler potty, stroller, scooter, suitcase of toys, bag of books, huge duffel of pots and pans and plates and bibs and cutting boards, violin, viola, bassoon, mandolin, sheets, fans, towels, etc) –
life has actually been surprisingly, refreshingly simple.
[That’s the trunk of our car, folks. And I AM sorry that I haven’t had any time at all to write. I’ve saved up so many ideas and “written” so many posts while running…but there has not been a minute to actually write. I’m running a marathon in November and taking an audition in September, and so literally every minute that the kids are asleep – before their days begin, during their mid-day naps, and after their days end – has essentially been devoted to viola. Or running. Or taking care of other necessary things since no babysitters on the road has meant there’s truly NO time.]
I had expected that spending a total of eight weeks outside of the city and away from our “normal” routine (in quotes since our schedule is rarely the same for more than a week – let alone an entire month) would be difficult, at best. I had worried about activities and isolation and logistics and dozens of other things. But, surprisingly, it has been wonderful.
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:21
My sweet baby girl —
It’s been a hard year, hasn’t it?
You experienced so much change and you had to learn so much. In fact, you learned more in this first year of your life than perhaps you will in any other single year moving forward (!). And the change you experienced – it was unimaginable, too. You went from having every single need met so perfectly that you had never even experienced need – to a world in which you experienced every basic need and more – hunger, exhaustion, frustration, anger, fear, sadness – sometimes all in one day or even one hour. I’m so sorry, sweet baby girl of mine, that it’s been so hard.
And yet – you amaze me. Despite all these hard things, you grew and thrived. You learned to roll over, sit, crawl, stand, start to walk. You learned to drink and eat (and boy do you love food!), to smile and laugh and start to talk. I am so proud of you, already, for your persistence, for your feisty spirit, for all the many things you have learned and accomplished in this short year. Today, you are ONE.
My sweet baby girl, it’s been a hard year for your Mama, too. Continue reading
Filed under blogging, children, contentment, depression, family, god & faith, identity, motherhood, parenting, prayer, sensory overload
Happy First Birthday to grace in the darkness! A year ago today, you made your way into cyberspace after many months of gestation (months which I spent researching and planning and writing and designing) and, like any birth, that day was filled with many hopes and dreams, much excitement, and certainly some nerves. It’s hard to believe it’s been this long already — and that some of you are still reading my words after 365 days.
Mostly, it’s hard to believe because it’s so easy to wish that I’d done more. Written more posts, taken more beautiful photos, facilitated more guest authors. Also, I’d hoped for more success. I wish I had acquired more followers, seen more readership growth, been offered more book deals (ha!). I’d hoped for more.
However, despite not being more, it’s been a good, full year. A hard year, certainly, but what year isn’t? As I was preparing to write this post, and thinking about the past year, I revisited many posts from the last twelve months (of course). I revisited the dark places and the questions, the favorite quotes, the letters to my son and daughter, the post about learning to love our family of four and the posts exploring Ed Welch’s book about faith and depression that I found so useful. I remembered my struggles with finding community in New York and applauded my efforts at starting to run again. And you know what? It’s not more, and it’s not the best, but it is good. Continue reading
Filed under blogging, career, children, community, depression, family, god & faith, identity, motherhood, prayer, Uncategorized, writing
So it’s finally spring in New York, and let me tell you, it almost makes up for how awful and long and hard and cold winter was. Almost.
But it is an interesting phenomenon. The temperature rises, the trees start to bloom, and everything feels better. I am happier and feel more capable of doing anything – traipsing about with my kids, making friends, attending events, brainstorming new ideas, reaching out. Life not only seems bearable, but wonderful and filled with possibility. I go on runs and smile at the people I pass and love waking up to the light-filled mornings as the sun creeps up earlier and earlier each day.
And there’s something about making it through the winter that makes the spring so much sweeter. You’ve conquered yet another challenging season, one filled with darkness and snowdrifts and icy roads, freezing temps and even colder wind chills, days of being cooped up inside and mornings of slipping your way to the subway. And now you’re on the other side – stronger and braver for enduring the hardship.
But the thing about the spring – it always comes. We never have endless winter. Even when the cold seems to last forever, even on the shortest, darkest days – the spring always comes. Why is it to hard to trust the truth that we know? Continue reading
Motherhood is filled with hard choices. Lately, I’m constantly deciding which of my children comes first.
Maaaaamaaaaaa! Jacob hollers, banging his hands on the sides of his crib insistently with all the power and energy of a two-year-old.
Wake-up time!!!!!!! he calls, as though there was any chance I could have slept through his yelling. Nouk! Bum! Peatut burr!!!!” His way of demanding his daily breakfast: milk, banana, and peanut butter.
I glance at the clock, bleary-eyed. 6:34. At least it’s later than yesterday. I’m nursing his baby sister in my bedroom, hoping that she’ll get a halfway decent feed. The day before I’d gotten them out of bed together and she was distracted by his antics as he danced around with his milk while I tried to nurse her. I’d chosen to feed them together.
This morning, I’m choosing her. He has to wait. Continue reading