Maybe a run-on sentence. Maybe a cloud of images to bring you up to date.
Or maybe I start right where I am. Hmn. Decisions.
Right now: Hair wet from the river, where I floated with my littlest girl. Kitten (on loan) in my lap. Strawberry banana smoothie at my side. Happy Feet, for weekly movie night, playing on the small screen we pull out of the closet. Two wettish dogs passed out at my feet. Summer simmering outside the window.
Last week: Cherries, salads, and peaches, at every turn, as well as 5 huge yogurt tubs full of blackberries from Emily's own alley. Sister talk for days straight, while enjoying top-rate bluegrass and a view of Mount Hood, and while selling killer Filly dresses and Fairy Food to happy beautiful people. Two trips to a naked beach on the river where our girls ran, threw mud, danced, and laughed themselves silly. Late night talks and giggles with perhaps my three favorite people on the face of the planet, including a wild square dance jag where I laughed so hard I thought I might turn inside out, or fall. Kombucha on tap and served by really stoned guys that liked to fill up our 32 ounce jars for just three bucks. Sisters running wild and dirty and falling into sleeping bags like crumpled, and again dirty rag dolls. A horse who let me rub it's neck and ears so thoroughly that it's eyes bugged out and it released several very unhorse-like groans. Smiles and twinkly eyes from my partner. Very aunt-like antics (morning biscuit buying, talk about boys, hula hoop tricks, and gifts) from my sister that elevated her, if it's even possible, ever higher in my girls' esteem. And if that weren't stupendous enough, brace yourselves ladies... my sister, the clothing designer of incredibly comfortable and flattering clothes, said these words: Hey Nat. Since we have time, I want to go through my clothes and see if there is anything I am done wearing to see if you want it. And then she piled a tall stack of clothes into my arms that all fit and are all extra cute.
It's really been a series of rad days after another I swear. Partly it's summer, partly it's my fortune in the company I get to keep, and partly I just have been seeing things that way lately, through the lens of abundance and gratitude, and thus everything spins itself into radness.
I know it's cliche to say that we all choose our happiness (or unhappiness), that no matter the circumstances we can simply choose to feel good. Maybe it's not cliche, maybe it's just easy to apply when things are going well, but difficult to apply when things aren't. But I just keep noticing that it's true. The better I feel, the better things turn out for me.
While at the music festival I lost the van key. Gulp. A single key, not on a key chain. A new-fangled electronic type, not just the call-the-locksmith kind of key. And then? I lost the OTHER van key. It slipped from it's "safe" holding spot in my pocket through a hole in the bottom. Oops. It happened while on the way back from the van, which was parked in a far field, across the entire festival. An entire meadow (and then some) of dry summer grass. I have to say that the phrase "a needle in a haystack" did come to mind. I cried. And I looked. And I checked the lost and found. And I cried. And I walked back and forth and back and forth in the hot sun looking at dry grass and hoping for a little black key.
Oh, and I looked at all the happy people swaying to the tunes and thought "those people have their car keys. No wonder they're happy." Oh, and I also imagined spending all of the money I was earning at the festival on a tow truck or a fancy locksmith, or both.
In other words I was working myself into a pretty sad dither of victim-hood and misery. Do I have to say that I didn't find the key while in that state?
At some point, much too far along in my pity party I hate to admit, I realized that I was strolling. On a farm of pristine beauty. By myself. No kids chattering, no heavy bags on my shoulder. No tasks at hand. (What? I thought I was in the pits of misery? What is this new perspective?) If you took a snapshot of my actual reality it was pretty fucking good. Even with the missing key. So I returned to our booth/tent/hangout headquarters and I changed my clothes. I took off the pants with the infamous hole and I slipped on a white dress and little shoes and I drank water and I put lotion on and took a moment to love myself and see where I was. I simply made a choice to think and feel differently.
The key was still missing but I wasn't.
Then, from a giggly moment with my sister and sun on my neck I decided that I would simply check the lost and found again, but that this time I would find the key.
And I did.
I don't mean to get too harpy about this line of thinking but, good golly, the benefits are enormous.
I can even apply it to my children. There were times this past week when I was super fucking pissed with Echo because she kept hitting her sisters and deliberately messing up their scene. She did it again and again and again and just kept doing it no matter what anyone did or said. I wanted to lament and complain and point out her lameness with Nathan and Emily. I wanted to roll my eyes or pin her down or throw some kind of consequence at her. But I didn't.
Instead I turned away.
I turned away and I remembered the scent of her hair. And the squeeze of her little arms. And how cute she is running with a towel flapping behind her. And how smart she is and the clever things she says and her way-beyond-her-age theories. I remembered how kind and gentle she is and how much she adores her sisters. I remembered that she just learned to color for real and likes the combo of dark pink and turquoise.
And she was different. I saw her differently and she was different from that view. She still demanded to have her feet right in the middle of the book Bella was at that very moment reading. And she still launched her body on Xi while Xi was eating dinner. But not as much. And in any case I was coming from a different place and that place allowed for more patience, more ingenuity and more energy no matter what Echo came up with.
I would say that most of our parenting happens when we are not actually parenting. All of the millions of thoughts that go through our minds - about ourselves, our thigh size, our paycheck, our latest irritating conversation with a friend, our fears, our failures- factor in. Those thoughts are right there when our kids do something. We think it is the something that is bothering us, or the particular terrible age of our child, or the child itself. But that is bullshit.
Imagine how you would parent in any given moment if the thoughts you were having leading up to that moment were friendly.
It is actually possible to feel better, to feel good, happy, fulfilled no matter how many van keys are missing or how lame your child is acting. My happiness can actually be independent of these things, even independent of even worse things.
So that's the down-low from my brain. Fruit, beloved folk, summer, and a positive perspective.
ps. The other van key? When I got up the next morning I stood and stretched before leaving the tent and my big toe rounded over a small lump. Pinned between the tent and the ground tarp. The other key. Two needles in an enormous haystack.