Even a spandex bodysuit couldn’t fix this

I am not Wonder Woman.

During the summer, when I am sleeping enough and eating well and have much different kind of time, it becomes easy for me to believe that I can do all the things I need and want to do.  It feels so possible.

And then I slam into the reality of September, with its 17+ hour-days–each hour filled with work, parenting, and housekeeping.

This week I came undone when I came home to dog mess.  It wasn’t the mess, it was that once again my efforts to get some exercise were thwarted.  Instead of going for the walk I’d planned, I was cleaning up someone else’s shit.  Literally.

And it wasn’t even really that.  It was the realization that these days in which I cannot attend to anything but other beings–all day and night long–are the rule, not the exception.  It was seeing that the extra day off each week (thank you, crappy economy) is not an 8 hours I am going to be able to use for a whole bunch of new creative projects.  It’s 8 hours I am going to use toward maintaining my health (which is generally in a sorry state by the time I get to that Friday off).

My purpose here is not to whine.  (But yes, I know I am a bit.)  I know that everyone gets the same 24 hours, and we all have to make choices about how we use them.  I could make different choices.  But I choose not to.  I choose to mother the way I do.  I choose to work the way I do.  I choose to have a romantic relationship.  I choose all the things I have in my life.  (Yeah, I didn’t necessarily know what I was getting into when I made some of the choices, and no, some of them could not be easily undone.  But I’d choose them again.  All of them.)

The simple truth is:  I cannot do all the things I want to do.  Probably no one can.  While this blog is one of the things I want to do, I can’t do it and some other things I want to do more.  At least right now.  I’ve been dropping hints about another blog that’s been in the works since last spring.  I want to launch it more than I want to keep writing posts here.

A gratitude practice is essential to my well-being.  Blogging might be, too.  Writing posts here is good for me because the act of polishing the writing for others forces me to dig deeper into my thinking that I otherwise would.  Connecting with those of you who write back to me is also essential to my well-being.  Because my life is so full, it is hard to connect face-to-face, and my electronic connections mean a great deal to me.  When I took a break earlier this year, I really missed you.

But I have to make a choice.  One great thing about getting older and having some experience behind me is knowing that choices can always be changed.  (What a revelation it was to learn that.  Thank you, Sharon.)  Today, I am choosing to suspend my writing here so that I can write something else.  I need to give the new blog some focused, dedicated attention or it will never be born.  I’m hoping that those of you who read this blog will follow me to that one.  It will contain much of what this one does, plus more.

So, this is not good-bye.  It is see you later.  I’ll miss you while I’m gone.

UPDATE (6.7.12):  If you’d like to check out the new blog, hope you’ll click over to This (sorta) Old Life–our life/home improvement blog focused on restoring, renewing, revising, and re-doing. We like fixing up all kinds of junk.

Image credit

Thousand words gratitude

Today I am absolutely NOT grateful for the mess the dogs created for me while I was at work.  It was pretty much the canine equivalent of diaper explosion, which I could barely stomach when said diapers were wrapped around the sweet posteriors of babies I was swooningly in love with. I’ll spare you a detailed compare/contrast on the two experiences.

So, I’m in need of some deliberate, conscious gratitude.  (Because right now I’m pretty fed up, grossed out, and way beyond cranky.)  Today, I’m just going to offer up something I’ve been thinking might be a regular feature.  (Well, as regular as anything in this blog, which means:  Something I might do whenever I feel like it.)  I’m calling it “Thousand Words Gratitude.”  And it goes like this:

The idea is that a picture is worth a thousand of my words of gratitude.

For example, in this picture there’s much for which I’m grateful:

  • My daughter’s health
  • Her friends
  • An activity that’s good for her
  • Her intensity and focus
  • Her long-legged loveliness
  • Her coach, from whom she’s learning all kinds of things
  • Her regular, run-of-the-mill, all-American life that allows her to take all kinds of things for granted

I know this feature will be better if I don’t need any words to explain the gratitude in the image.  I’ll work on that for next time…

All in one place: Confessions of a hermit

The summer before my 8th grade year, I found myself running with other neighborhood kids, for the first time in my life.  I don’t remember how it happened, that I came to spend most of every day hanging out with Sandi, Kevin, Todd, and Becky, but it was a brand-new thing for me, and a wondrous one.

“How come you never used to come out of your house?” one of them asked one day.  “Yeah,” another one said.  “We used to call you The Hermit.”

I didn’t know why.  I still don’t, really.  I think partly I didn’t know what I was missing and partly I didn’t feel I was missing anything.  I had been perfectly content with the company I usually kept:  There was Anne (with an “e”), a hot-headed red-head who lived up in Canada; and Beany Malone, youngest of a large family living through the years after WWII; and Jane, that brave young woman just trying to get by in the world and living in that horrible place with her creepy boss; and Jo, who I both loved and wanted to be; and, of course, the other Anne–the one hiding from the Nazis in an attic in Amsterdam with her family.

When I was in 6th grade, we were allowed to read books of our choice during reading time.  When we finished them, we’d sign up for a conference with our teacher, Mr. Buer, who would flip through the book and ask a few questions about it.

I had a lot of conferences with Mr. Buer, especially at the beginning of each week.  That was the year I went to the Burien Library every Saturday to check out a stack of books.  6th grade was a hard time for me (is it an easy time for anyone?), and I much preferred living in the worlds of other people than in my own.

One Saturday I made my way to the counter with my usual stack of books, a pile that stretched from my extended hand to my chin.  Something happened, and I tripped, and the books and I went sprawling everywhere.  The librarian smiled as she helped me pick them up, saying, “You know, Rita, we have a rule that you can only check out as many as you can carry.”

I was mortified.  “Really?” I asked, anxious that they wouldn’t let me take home all the ones I’d chosen.  I needed them all, every one of them.

Some things haven’t changed much since 6th grade.  I no longer get to spend whole days lost in the pages of a book–but I wish I did.  I no longer check out huge stacks of books from the library–but I would if I had time to read them.  (I regularly check out books I have to take back before even cracking the covers.)  I miss the kind of friends I used to make curled up in a corner of the couch or perched in the limbs of the neighbor’s plum tree or hidden away on the floor of my closet.

That’s why today I am grateful for my reunion with old friends this week.  On Friday, this is what my new bookshelf looked like:

This is what it looks like today:

Our long, hot day of moving back in August was remarkably tension-free until our last stop at the storage unit I’d been using since cleaning out the house to stage it for potential buyers.  As we unloaded the unit, I noticed that Cane was losing his usual easiness.  That he was starting to shove boxes at me with something that felt like annoyance.  A lot of annoyance.  I didn’t say anything at the time (I’ve learned a few things over the years), but when I asked him about it later he said, “You’ve just got so many boxes of books.  Do you really need all those books?”

Yes, I do.

I did not realize how much I missed my old friends until I began releasing them from their boxes this weekend.  It doesn’t matter that many of them haven’t been read in years.  It doesn’t matter that some of them will never be read again.  There’s just something about having them physically present with me that brings me deep pleasure.  I have missed Mary Oliver, and Billy Collins, and Ivan Doig, and Barbara Kingsolver, and Anne Lamott, and Tracy Kidder, and Madeleine L’Engle, and E.B. White, and Jacqueline Jackson, and Beverly Cleary, and Alfie Kohn, and so many others.  I need them in the room with me, just like I need the people I love.

It took so long to unpack them because I’ve been waiting on the bookshelf you see above.  I bought it in August, from our local Border’s as it was going out of business.  I had to wait until the doors were actually closing to pick it up.

Such mixed feelings I had about buying it.  Trolling through the aisles of what was our city’s only real source of new books (the paltry book section at Fred Meyer does not count!), I felt like a vulture picking over a carcass.  But part of me really wanted a piece of that place.  It’s not hard to see that book publishers are an endangered species–the kind who publish books on paper, anyway.  And book sellers, too.  I have a hard time believing that print books will go away entirely, but I can believe that they will become rare, something that might be considered a luxury (because they’ll be so expensive).  I like the idea of keeping my treasures on an artifact of something that is, if not dying, surely being transformed.

Today, as I sit next to my full bookshelf writing these words, I am grateful for so many things:

I am grateful to have had parents who took me to the library all the time when I was growing up, and a family who regularly bought me books.

I am grateful for libraries.  I could never have bought all the books I’ve read, all those words that have kept me company and shown me the way through all kinds of things–love, death, divorce, and puberty, to name a few.

I am grateful to have lived in (and been formed by) the age of books.  While I’ve been all about reducing possessions and clutter for more than a year (and I did recycle a lot of books that didn’t mean much to me), there is something about having the physical object that matters to me.  Just like having prints of photos does something for me that a digital image can’t.

I am grateful for my bookshelf, and for the books that sit on it.  Today our house feels more like home than it did on Thursday.

And I am grateful that just down the hall from the bookshelf, there is right now a sleeping man who may not fully understand why I needed to move all those boxes of books, but who understands that I did, and that I need places to keep them.  (And who will likely help me move in another bookcase soon, because this one isn’t big enough to hold them all.)  After the summer of Sandi and Kevin and Becky and Todd I knew I needed people as much as books; I’m grateful that I’m not The Hermit anymore, and that my life is full of both virtual and visceral pleasures, all in one place.

Lucky me

This week, Grace was chosen for the “A” team on her volleyball squad, one of only 6 girls who get a spot on the top tier.  Last weekend, Will caught several long passes at his football team, moving the ball to within yards of the end zone and moving the fans to something near frenzy.   It was great to hear cheers and applause.  Lots of other parents didn’t get a similar pleasure.

I’ve gotten to experience many such moments since becoming a parent.  I am able to take many things for granted.  While we’ve lived through some real and difficult challenges at school because of their intellectual abilities (yes, TAG kids can have a legitimately hard time in school), I’ve never had to worry about their capacity for learning or the kinds of struggles that come with a learning disability.  Although they were born two months early and Grace once sustained a serious injury that required nearly a week of hospitalization, I’ve never really worried about their health.  Both kids have always had friends and been generally happy, so I’ve never had to worry much about their social or emotional well-being.

We are lucky.  It is easy for me to forget this.

While I’ve written before about rejecting a deficit model of gratitude–one in which we are supposed to find gratitude in not having something as bad as someone else–I was thinking earlier this week that perhaps sometimes looking at what others don’t have can help us find gratitude for what we do.

I became quite frustrated with one of my children on Tuesday.  I was trying to build understanding about Ella’s difficulties in the hope that greater understanding could lead to greater compassion.  It wasn’t working.  The child could only see the difficulties Ella creates, not the ones she endures.

“You know, you just don’t know how lucky you are,” I said in frustration.  “You are smart, and athletic, and good-looking, and healthy.  You’ve never had to struggle like so many other people do.  I wish you could just try to see how hard it is to be her right now.”

It was the wrong thing to say, probably.  The face in front of me turned blank and flat and hard as a brick wall.  The conversation was over.

My words, however, kept repeating in my head.  They are just spoiled, I thought.  I’ve raised spoiled children who can’t see past their own pain to someone else’s larger pain.   It took me awhile to realize that my words apply to me as much as to them.  We are spoiled.  While I’ve handled my share of parenting challenges, I’ve never faced any real hardship as a parent.  None of us realize how lucky we’ve been.

Earlier that day, Cane had sent me something he found online, one Aspergian man’s account of what happens to him when he’s experiencing a meltdown:

When I have a meltdown I feel like I’m in some kind of a shock. I start crying and shaking and feel a strange feeling in my head and in my body. I start feeling exhausted and overwhelmed, emotionally, mentally and physically. During a meltdown I cannot talk and I don’t notice my environment much. I usually think a lot about whatever caused my meltdown (which is always a series of things) and I can’t think about anything else at the moment and can’t stop crying. I need time to get better after a meltdown, so I always go close myself somewhere, like in a bathroom or some place where I can have some privacy, but usually I will feel strange for the rest of the day.

Meltdowns are caused by a cumulation of many irritations. I feel those irritations cumulating inside me and I feel how I become increasingly stressed with each irritation, but I have no way of getting it out of my system. I’m trying to hold things in, trying not to explode. Then something happens that causes me to just not be able to take it anymore. The last straw… and I have a meltdown.

I can usually feel a meltdown coming in some advance. For example, I might know that I’m about to reach the limit of how many irritations I can take without bursting. At such times, I try to avoid stressful situations that might trigger a meltdown if possible. However, much of the time there is really no way out of the stressful situation, so inevitably I have a meltdown in the end.

Sunday night, the end of another long weekend with Ella, as we attempted to process what’s happening, Cane said:

“I guess I need to accept that this is the new normal with Ella.  And I need to figure out what to do for the girl she is now, not the one I remember.

But how can I do that?  To accept who she is now, it feels like I have to let go of who she was.  How can I do that?”

I thought I understood how it is for him.  I thought he was trying to accept the change in her, and the grief he feels at the loss of who she was and what we all used to have.

But somehow, reading the words above and sitting across a table from my own child that night, it hit me differently.  I think he meant what I thought he did, but I think he also meant this:

How can I let go of the idea that I can expect for Ella what most parents expect for their children?

I sat across the table from my lucky child and although I was frustrated and angry and wishing the child was different in that moment, I suddenly understood how much I have to be grateful for.

I do not have to worry that my children, on a daily basis, are fighting feelings of being emotionally, mentally, and physically overwhelmed.  I don’t have to worry that my children will spend much of many days feeling strange and exhausted.  I don’t have to worry that my children have to try every day not to explode. I don’t  have to worry that my children live with the knowledge that some days, their inability to manage the world is going to create an unavoidable explosion–and there will be real fallout from that, damage to their relationships, their work, all the things they care most about.

I don’t have to worry that my children will grow up and be unable to take care of themselves in this world.  I don’t worry about their ability to create for themselves a healthy and generally happy life.

And suddenly, my own pain and frustration and anger over our situation shifted.  Cane and Ella’s came to the forefront, and what I felt more than anything is compassion and empathy.  I felt all kinds of things inside soften.

Ella came the next night for her mid-week overnight visit.  And, for one of the few times since we moved, we had a good night with all three kids.  It wasn’t a perfect night, but there was no full-blown meltdown.  Everyone seemed a little easier, somehow.

Now, from the view at the end of this week, I realize that today’s gratitude isn’t coming from my good fortune, the jackpot my turn at the parenting roulette wheel produced.  It is coming from an internal shift, not from some external situation.  My gratitude does not come from the fact that I have some things better than other parents–but that realization created a change in me, and that’s what I’m really grateful for.

During that conversation that went nowhere, the child said:

“What difference does it make if I have greater understanding?  It’s not going to change Ella.  She’s still going to throw things at me.”

Yes, she’s right:  For now, we can probably expect that Ella will continue to throw things, and sometimes she’ll throw things at us.  We can hope that will change (and I do), but I’m realizing that my happiness (gratitude) can’t come from realization of that hope.

If our goal is only to change others or to change a situation that can’t be changed (or might never change), we are doomed to bitterness and anger and disappointment.  I think we can only pin our happiness on our own changes.  Today I’m grateful that this week I was able to change, just a little bit, and for the reminder that I’m only going to find peace through my own changes, not from anyone else’s.

And, for some hope that Ghandi’s idea is correct, that we have to be the change we want to see in the world.  Was our good night this week the result of change in me?  I don’t know.  All I know is that I felt more peaceful, and there was more peace in my family, in our home.

I’m going to run with that, as far as I can take it.

Happy new year!

While January is the typical time many of us look back at where we’ve been and set goals for moving forward, every person I know who lives by the school calendar feels that September is really the start of a new year.  And I am a person who lives by the school calendar.

I started this post back when I realized that it actually was September (a few days into the month) and that not only was our new year starting, but also that we’d been in our new house for just about one month.  (That I’m not finishing the post until now tells you something else about how September is for me.)

Back around the 2nd of September, I realized that it could be easy for me to look around the house and get discouraged.  As we were moving in, we said things like:

Before we go back to school, I’d really like to get the living room and kitchen walls painted.

I really want to be able to park both cars in the garage by the time we go back to school.

I just want to have everything we really need for every-day functioning organized by the time we go back to school.

Well, the walls still look like this:

Yes, that would be: Exactly how they looked the day we moved in...

And the garage looks like this:

Yes, it used to look much worse. But it's still a no-parking zone.

And this is our oh-so-(NOT)-organized place to put bills and other important paperwork that we need to deal with:

Yep, treating those like the important papers they are.

What else did I want to have done by now?  I’ve been working on a revamp of this blog, which I really hoped to unveil on its one-year anniversary (come and gone).  And Cane and I wanted to launch a new blog that we’ve been picking away at since last May.  Oh, and I also really wanted to be all ready to go for the 4-hour staff development session I needed to put on last week.  (I wasn’t.)

So, what have we been doing?

Well, working on new blogs and staff development sessions and other, smaller stuff.  We haven’t had time to take on such big things as stripping the walls of their lovely paper.  We’re waiting on many of those boxes in the garage because I need to get a bookshelf that will store my books.  We have made some progress on the paper chase (see the photo below of the cool credenza we scored at City Liquidators), but we’re just not done yet.

Although there's been no progress on the walls, we did get the new cork floor put in.

That doesn’t mean there’s been no progress.  It’s just been small, baby steps–and it hasn’t always been the things we thought we’d do.

My friend Molly offered me a large, free ficus tree, which required a trip to Home Depot for a new pot, which got me thinking about plants and the desire to commit to caring for living things, which then got me to dig out old planters and fill them with new plants.  That took an afternoon:

The kids have been fighting over a particular pillow, which prompted me to take a trip to Pier 1 to get more of the same kind–which took awhile because once there it seemed like it would be a good idea to buy some other new ones, too (one of which has already been destroyed by the dog who is compelled to disembowel anything that appears to be a stuffed animal), which couldn’t happen without first thinking about (and looking at) rugs, which then led to…

One day I came home from back-to-school shopping with Grace to find that Cane had taken his saw to the large Japanese Maple that looked like a cancerous growth in our front yard.  Which was great–except we’ve now got some bare spots that seem to really need filling, which is how we ended up spending a whole afternoon at a local nursery, where we didn’t buy anything because we found ourselves wondering what color we really want to paint the house and in what order all our projects should be done.

And so on.  For many days now, I’ve been feeling as if we’re making no progress.  I haven’t unpacked a box in almost three weeks.  And yet, when I look back and then look around, I can see it.  Here’s the living room on the day we moved in:

And here it was a few weeks ago, right after we put in the new floors:

And here it is now:

Small changes, made consistently, over time.  All transformation happens that way, doesn’t it?

Four years ago at this time, I had just made the decision to leave my marriage.  But I was still in it, still living in the house that was two homes ago, with no idea of how to get out or where to go.

“You don’t have to have it all figured out,” a good friend told me.  “Just figure out the next right thing you need to do.  After you do that, figure out another one.”

One step at a time, one day at a time.  That’s all we can really do, isn’t it?

Three years ago at this time I was about to start another year of teaching, in a different high school than I now work in, with no idea that it would be my last year of doing that kind of work in that particular place.  One year ago I was trying to figure out how to make my life on the mountain more manageable so I could keep living there for six more years (the amount of time I was sure I’d be there); the idea of living anywhere else was so far off my list of possibilities that I refinanced my mortgage that month.

If you had asked me on September 12th in 2007 where and how I’d like to be living in 2011, I would never have said that I’d like to be living in a 70’s split level in Gresham with Cane and all our kids and putting on staff development sessions for teachers at a large urban high school.  I could not have imagined it, so I couldn’t have said it.  But here I am.

For those who live by the school calendar, this is a great time for making plans.  This is when all things feel possible, when everything is fresh and new.  It can also, by the end of the month, when we realize that we are still the teachers we were in June and the kids are still the same kids, be a time when discouragement sets in.  I think we have to remember that real change rarely happens in a moment.  In September we are pretty much the same teachers we were the previous June.  But by next June, we’ll likely be different–especially if we’ve decided we want to be.

Today I am grateful for our new home, which reminds me that all significant change takes time, and it generally happens in small steps, taken consistently, over the course of many days.  I’m more grateful for the reminder that plans (dreams) are great, but we need to be open to all things that present themselves.  We need to try not to be so fixed on where we think we need to go that we lose sight of where we actually are.

If I had a new year’s resolution it would be this:  To keep my eyes open and my feet moving and to put more stock in where I am than in where I think I should be.  What would yours be?

Day 1, Grade 8

Today is the first day of school for my kids:

Some of us are more excited about that than others of us:

As we approached the school for this morning’s drop off, I saw a mom walking a small little girl down the sidewalk.

“Seems like it was just a little while ago I was taking you guys to kindergarten,” I said.  The girl’s backpack looked huge.  I remember how big my kids’ backpacks used to look.  I remember how hard it was to leave them at school that first year.

“I cried after I dropped you off.”

“Are you serious?” one child asked, incredulous.

“Awww, Mommy cried,” the other added, not sympathetically.

I just love my middle-schoolers.

The first day is always a little bittersweet for me, a marker of time passing.  One less year left.  Today is their last first day of middle school.  I can hardly wrap my head around the fact that just two short years ago, our first day looked like this:

Bittersweet as it is, today I am grateful for so many things.  I am grateful that my children have a safe school to attend, with teachers who care and work hard for them.  I am grateful that my children are healthy and have every reason to expect that this year will be a good one.  And I am grateful for the reality check of annual photos, a tradition that reminds me how fleeting this time is, how the children who stand in front of my front door today will only be these particular children for a very short time.

I’m grateful for the reminder to notice and savor who they are every day, because tomorrow they will have changed, just a little bit more, into the people they are becoming.  And while I will love those new people just as much as I love the ones I’ll go home to later today,  I will always miss the children I used to have–my shy kindergarten girl who wore bows in her hair, my grinning, gap-toothed 3rd grade boy, my just-about-to-sprout 6th graders.

I’m sure that two years from now, when they are sophomores who know everything, I will be just as nostalgic for my my goofy, moody, often-sarcastic 8th graders.

Happy new year, everyone.

Getting over the back to school blues

I returned to work this week, something I’ve been feeling less than great about.  I’ve been feeling bugged and bummed because I didn’t get the summer I’d hoped for–something I normally would admit to no one but a fellow teacher (or my mother).

I know that no one other than an educator (or my mother) would sympathize or understand how I could be feeling anything but grateful to have had such a lengthy break from work and a good job to return to.  Nonetheless, bugged, bummed and less than great is exactly how I’ve been feeling.

As I explained whined to my parents in an email earlier this week, the last five or so summers have just been one kind of hard or another.  None has been the rejuvenating break I’d hoped for.  Each has left me feeling more wiped out than revved up and ready to go for another school year.  I’m tired.

But, as I ruminated about all of this (as I’m so often wont to do), it occurred to me that perhaps it is not summer (or my life) that is the problem, but my stance toward it.  My expectations.  It occurred to me that perhaps the summers that live in my memory are not exactly true representations of summers past.

In my memory, summer has been a time of long days filled with slow hours.  Leisurely mornings and afternoons filled with time to read books, cook real meals, complete projects, sleep.  That’s not what my summers have been looking like these past few years.  Yes, books have been read, meals have been cooked, projects have been completed, and naps have been taken–but the pace has not felt slow or leisurely, and there have not been enough books, meals, projects, or naps.  Not enough for me to feel filled up and rested, anyway.

But I started to wonder if those summers I think I remember were ever really that way.  Or, even if they were, if it’s just unrealistic to expect that they will be at this stage of my life.  I’ve got two teen-agers, a romantic partner (who comes with a daughter), parents, extended family, and friends.  Almost everything that’s filled my summer days has been someone/something I love having in my life or something in service to someone/something I love.

Yes, I’m tired.  But I’m also really frickin’ fortunate.  I’m tired because my life is so full of so many good things (along with the usual mundane/irritating/difficult things that we all have).  And what I’ve realized, as I returned to work this week and the prospect of even fewer books, meals, projects, and naps, is how futile it is to think I can somehow squeeze all the things I really love/want into the two fleeting months that is summer break.

I realized that in my way, I’m not so different from those people who live their lives waiting for someday.  Someday, when I get a really good job/my kids are in school/my kids are grown/I can move/I can retire/, then I’ll really be able to live the way I want to.

I’ve just been doing it on a shorter scale:  In June, I’ll be able to… .

Problem is, that kind of stance is just as problematic for me as it is for anyone else who thinks life will be perfect if they can only get to this one thing.   Life is still going to happen–and life always has lots of what we don’t want. 

Today, I’m grateful for my job not only because it’s good work that provides so many things I want/need, but also because returning to it has helped me see that I need to keep working at making changes in my life that will help me be healthy and feel good all year round.  I don’t want to live my life feeling that only one season of every year is really good time for me–and then feeling discouraged and disappointed when it doesn’t live up to my hopes and expectations.

I’m grateful for the reminder that most of the time, it’s not our situation that needs to change for us to be happier.  It is ourselves.

Yep, it was a hard summer in some ways.  Lots of change and transition and unwelcome challenges and not as much time to rest and recuperate from the school year as I’d like.   But there were some sweet moments in there, too–many of which I’ve already shared through this blog:

Grace floating through an afternoon at the Rim pool.

Cane giving me a photography lesson at the Japanese Garden.

Giving Will a hug before he left for a week in DC with my parents.

A summer evening scooter ride up Lolo Pass to watch the sunset.

Playing at the river with the dogs and kids.

Both kids not only getting along, but reading. For fun, on their own.

First day in our new house.

Ella cooling off after a long day of house projects.

Cane refurbishing the old art classroom cabinet we scored at City Liquidators.

Grace putting on the Cabbage Patch Kid face--our idea of the new owling.

There were  hard days, and probably hard moments in every day, but it was a good summer.  A good life.  I’m grateful for all of it–and for return to doing good work with good people I’ve missed during these weeks away.

I’m grateful that the coming months are not ones I’m hoping to simply endure until I can get to the good times again–and for the ways in which returning to work has been catalyst for the change within I needed to be able to feel that way.