6 things I learned this fall

1. Sometimes going on a hunch really pays off.

I thought that buckling Cody into the front seat would be hilarious. Hypothesis confirmed.

Cody in the front seat.JPG

2. I love to be funny, and I tend to think poorly of myself when I don’t feel like being funny.

This fall has been full of dramatic ups and downs. My mom unexpectedly lost her job of 13 years, and then she unexpectedly got a new one. We got our first foster placement of a very young infant, under dramatic circumstances which I’ll talk about some other time, and then a week later the court ordered the baby into the care of someone else. There have been moments of joy and moments of deep sorrow.

But always, I’ve been happy. Sometimes comedy isn’t hilarious.

3. I should take myself more seriously. (Which is maybe why I feel bad when I don’t feel funny.)

I left salaried work almost 7 years ago and it’s taken me this long to begin to understand the kind of work I want to produce myself. For some people, working itself is important. For me, it isn’t. It’s the content of the work.

I’m not disparaging folks for whom the act of working is essential. I needed to work after Ethan was first born; I needed to have a time away from home, being an adult, responsible for things other than the baby. But after a while, I didn’t need that anymore. I still don’t.

What I need now is meaningful creative work. And being “just a mom” is a mental trap I shouldn’t fall into. Parenting is meaningful work. Having focused on that for a few years doesn’t negate my capacity for creative work, which I now have the mental and physical space to pursue.

4. There’s a difference between planning and intentionality.

Lack of planning drives me crazy. But too much detail in the planning stresses me out.

For instance, I love the idea of an advent calendar. I tried one a couple years ago, but then if something came up and we couldn’t do whatever activity was planned, I ended up feeling worse than if I hadn’t tried to Do Meaningful Holiday Things at all.

If my parents ever tried to orchestrate a detailed calendar of effortless holiday fun, I sure don’t remember it. So this year I’m focusing on being present and noticing all the little holiday moments, which are the things I remember from childhood. Example: This year we laughed as Ethan hung up the popcorn-cranberry “bracelet” we made in a failed garland experiment of Pinterestmas Past.

5. Less is definitely more.

A couple years ago we pared down our decorations to only our favorites. Consequently, we’ve got more time for reminiscing over the ornaments and watching Christmas movies.

holiday mantel.JPG
Watching a Christmas movie!

Watching a Christmas movie!

It's endearing that Noah puts this photo of me as a 14-year-old out on his nightstand every year.

It's endearing that Noah puts this photo of me as a 14-year-old out on his nightstand every year.

Which is another thing:  we have a bunch of Christmas movies we want to watch every year and holding out for the perfect viewing experience 15 times this month is a ridiculous unicorn to chase. This year, I decided to be less particular about it.

We’re just throwing on the movies and eating dinner in front of the TV. I’m not getting uptight if we’re not all snuggled up, wholly rapt in the magic of the silver screen. It’s better this way, and we may actually get to watch them all.

Tonight we ordered cheese pizza in honor of Kevin while we “watched” Home Alone. Basically, we ate, drank tea and ate Aldi Belgian holiday chocolates, told everyone to settle down every fifteen seconds, and laughed through the 20 minutes of booby traps that made the movie famous. (And can I just say, Katherine O’Hara deserves a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her performance as Kevin’s mom. For realsies.)

6. Google Photos is awesome.

And it makes great gifs all by itself. 

I'm linking up with Emily Freeman's quarterly "What I learned" post. I love reading all the random, funny, poignant and practical things my friends have been sharing. Melissa's and Marian's are favorites.