Archives for December 2013

2013 Year in Photos Slideshow

This is my favourite post of the year. It’s one that I would do, no matter what, purely because I love it. It gives me a chance to reflect and wax nostalgic, and record my life in a unique way. This post contains my annual slideshow, chronicling my family’s year in photos. It’s my sixth such slideshow, and looking back over the other ones I can immediately see how my children have grown. I remember things I’d forgotten. I laugh, and of course, I cry. I’m not sure if anyone else loves my slideshows, but if one of the big benefits of blogging is having a record of your family life, then this slideshow is the pinnacle post each year for me.

2013 was actually a really great year for me. Looking back over the year’s photos, I see evidence of how much more I can do with my kids now that they’re a little bigger. They’re not babies anymore. This makes me a little wistful, but it also means they’re more independent, and less prone to cry in public. We’ve gone a lot more places and done a lot more things this year, because my kids are getting older. Here’s the photographic evidence set to music:

If you’d like to take a walk down memory lane with me, here are my past slideshows:
2008 in Photos | 2009 in Photos | 2010 in Photos | 2011 in Photos | 2012 in Photos

I’ve spent plenty of time talking about my family and myself – and not just in this post. I’ve had a whole year to write in this space, and I’ve done it. Now I’d like to turn the tables back on you. What was 2013 like for you? When you consider this year, what images will stand out in your mind? And what are you looking forward to in 2014? I’d love to hear.

Happy New Year!

Developing a Sense of Perspective

It’s Forgiveness Friday here at Strocel.com, which means that once again I’m thinking about forgiveness. You can find my other posts on forgiveness by checking out the Forgiveness Friday tag.

I got some iTunes gift cards for Christmas, and I used them (in part) to buy some books on forgiveness. My reading list so far consists of:

Aside – Enright is the same person I quoted last week in Fairness and Forgiveness.

the sunflower simon wiesenthal bookI’ve started reading The Sunflower, and so far I’m about 40% of the way through. It’s an interesting book. Simon Wiesenthal is a concentration camp survivor. During his years as a prisoner he was assigned to a work party at his former high school, which had been converted to a hospital. While he was there, a nurse pulled him aside to speak to a dying member of the SS, who wanted absolution from a Jew for war crimes he had committed. Wiesenthal shares his story, then 53 luminaries weigh in with their opinions on what he should or should not have said to the SS man, and what it means to forgive.

There is a lot of material in the book about the finer points of forgiveness, absolution and reconciliation, and their significance both to individuals and to groups. There is a lot of room here for theologians, academics and deep thinkers to weigh in and share a very meaty discussion. I’m enjoying it a lot. At the same time, as I read, I can’t help but feel a little uneasy in myself. That uneasiness comes out of the stark contrast between the petty nature of the affronts in my life and the large crimes experienced by Wiesenthal and many of the other contributors to the book.

What can I, as a middle-class, white, Canadian woman, really understand of profound suffering? I have never been beaten. I have never actually been hungry. I have never been deprived of my liberty. If I hold grudges over the small bumps and inconveniences of my daily life, what does that say about me? And what can I learn about forgiveness by examining a situation that is on an entirely different scale?

So far my best answer to my questions is that, by considering my relative good fortune, I can develop a sense of perspective. That is to say, I can understand that maybe it’s not worth hanging on to all of the little misdeeds that I have committed, or that others have committed against me. Hanging on to them doesn’t make me happy. It doesn’t change the fact that they happened. It only amounts to so much baggage that I have to carry around with me, weighing me down. As I compare the weight of my baggage to the true suffering of others, I can see that there’s no value in clinging to old emotions.

Even so, I want to be clear about something. I am not saying that I don’t have a right to feel sad, or hurt, or angry when I have negative experiences. Certainly, this is a normal and human way to respond when bad things happen to us, even relatively minor bad things. If someone cuts me off in traffic my anxiety response allows me to react quickly and avoid an accident. It serves a very useful purpose. Being angry about that incident all the way home, ranting through dinner and staying awake tossing and turning over it doesn’t serve a useful purpose, on the other hand.

I am coming to understand that forgiveness is not about always being happy, or excusing people when they act carelessly or unkindly. Rather, it’s about framing a conscious response in my mind after the fact. This last bit is something I’m not terribly good at, and that will ultimately be my biggest challenge as I seek to learn how to forgive myself and others. I can say already, though, that developing a sense of perspective definitely helps in the process. When I have perspective, I can see what’s useful to hang on to, and what isn’t serving me. That can only be a good thing.

I wonder about your experiences when it comes to forgiveness and perspective. Do you find that hearing, seeing or reading stories of other people’s suffering helps to put your own into perspective? And if so, does that make it easier for you to forgive? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Crying at Christmas Concerts

school christmas concert holiday

My children go to a large school. To make the annual holiday concert a little more manageable, they divide the school in half and perform two separate shows, one on Wednesday and one on Thursday. It works well, as each show lasts only about 45 minutes, meaning no one has to sit still for that long. There are downsides, though, and I experienced one this year. As luck would have it, in the first year my little ones were at the same school, their classes ended up performing on different days. This means that I got the full hour-and-a-half long show, just in two installments.

As any parent can tell you, the holiday concert is a bit of a mixed bag. It combines unintentional humour, extreme earnestness, boredom and nostalgia, delivered by performers of varying talent levels. However, the truth is that you’re not there for the show, you’re there for your child. You file into an overcrowded elementary school gymnasium, which is either stifling hot or freezing cold, and sit on an uncomfortable folding chair behind someone who almost immediately blocks your view by holding up their iPad to take video. You do it for that moment when your kid catches sight of you as they wait to perform, and flashes a million-dollar grin. And for that moment, later, when they talk about the performance and you say, “I saw you, baby. I was there. I saw you, and I had such a good time.”

I guess you could say that you do it for the children. Think of the children.

Even still, every year without fail I find myself wiping tears out of my eyes at least once. That mix of warm holiday feeling and nostalgia creeps across my consciousness almost unnoticed, until it starts spilling out of my eyes in fat drops. In that moment when I try to unobtrusively wipe my tears away I’m thinking about my own childhood, and what it felt like to be a kid at Christmas. I’m also thinking about my babies, and how fast they’ve grown, and how very soon all of this will be over. How very soon I’ll be all finished with elementary school holiday concerts. And how, when it’s over, I’ll actually miss it.

This year my tears came while I was watching a group of first graders sing. Neither of my own children were in the group – my kids are in grade three and kindergarten. I didn’t actually recognize a single child as they stood on risers in front of me, wearing pajamas and Santa hats, some singing exuberantly, some half-mumbling the words while they shifted from foot to foot impatiently. I recognized the song, though. It was “Old Toy Trains” and it triggered a memory from my own childhood, when I was one of those kids on risers singing my heart out for the parents. The bittersweet pain of it all filled me in that moment, and I started to cry.

At Christmastime, more than any other time, the past mingles with the present for me. This is a time of tradition and ritual. A time of remembering what was, and seeing it happen again in this new generation. It’s a time of mystery, wonder and goodwill (at least when I’m not looking for a parking space at the mall, anyway). As I see it through the eyes of my children, and the eyes of the little children singing at the school concert, I can’t help but be overcome by the emotion of it all.

I don’t know what will make me cry at next year’s Christmas concert, but I have no doubt that something will. At this point it’s become a holiday tradition for me, like setting up the Christmas tree or wrapping the presents. It’s how I express all of the emotions I feel at this time of year, when they’re too big to be contained by my body. All the little miracles of the season, filling me up until tears run down my face.

Fairness and Forgiveness

forgiveness friday fairness snow day

We woke up to a winter wonderland in my neighbourhood this morning. As I type right now, big, fluffy snowflakes are continuing to fall. It’s the last day of class before winter break for my kids, so this morning I thanked my lucky stars that we’re able to walk to school.

Driving in the snow in Vancouver is a real nightmare. Very few people have snow tires, let alone any other equipment to make driving in the snow easier. There are very few snowplows so if you’re not travelling on a major route (and sometimes even if you are) you can expect that the streets won’t be cleared. The temperature hovers around freezing, so the snow melts during the day and freezes into slick sheets of ice overnight. Add in the fact that few of us have any real experience driving in the snow and you can see why it’s best to stay out of your car if you can avoid it.

My children’s school is at the top of a hill on the side of a mountain. While my street is flat, the ground starts to rise steeply a couple of blocks from my house. In front of the school the street is slightly curved and very steep. On snowy days in the past I have seen some pretty scary things, like cars sliding backwards on to the sidewalk as they attempted to climb the hill. This morning, with fresh snow on the ground and no snowplows in sight I saw a car sliding slowly down the hill, horn blaring, as the driver attempted to stop and failed. He eventually managed it, however as I made my way home I saw evidence that another driver wasn’t so lucky. The result was a four car collision at the bottom of the hill.

While I picked my way carefully down the sidewalk, I heard somebody talking to a friend about the accident. I don’t know if he was involved himself or not, however he was relaying an argument he’d had with someone else. He said that he’d told this other person that there was no point in lying, as he had his phone and he could just snap a picture of exactly what had happened. He knew he was in the right, and he had the evidence to prove it.

I myself have been involved in a couple of minor car accidents, from both sides of the equation. Fortunately, when my car was hit while I was stopped at a stop sign one snowy day years ago, the person who hit me was honest and upfront and took responsibility. When I tapped the back of another car at an intersection I took responsibility, as well. I can’t speak for the other parties, but for myself, I felt the outcome was fair and reasonable in both cases. I’m glad, because I know it isn’t always so, as the conversation I overheard this morning shows.

As I left the accident behind me and walked home through the beautiful-yet-treacherous streets, I started to think about fairness and forgiveness. It’s timely, since as I explained last week I’m launching a new “Forgiveness Fridays” blog series. As I thought, it occurred to me that one of the big reasons that people aren’t able to forgive is that they don’t feel a situation has been resolved fairly. They don’t feel as if they’ve been heard. They haven’t had the chance to make their case clearly. Their needs and emotions haven’t been honoured.

We’ve all been there. We all know how bad that feels. We also know, as adults, that life isn’t always fair. In fact, it’s very frequently unfair.

I will never have a chance to speak with the man who swore at me and gave me the finger in a bank parking lot when my son Jacob was three months old and crying in the back of my car, and his big sister Hannah was asking me question after question after question about what happens when you die. I will never be able to explain how frazzled and stressed out I was, how long I had been putting off running that errand because I was frankly afraid to leave the house with my kids, how what I needed most in the world at that moment was a little bit of understanding, how I still remember how badly my hands shook as I pulled up to the automatic teller.

At the same time, that man will never have the chance to tell me about the terrible day he’d been having. How late he was running. How the fact that I didn’t pull up far enough for him to pass me when he clearly felt I could have impacted him. We will never be able to have a reasonable conversation, explain our feelings, or apologize for our respective infractions.

This leaves the question: when we’ve been wronged in some way, and life is unfair, what do we do with that? While I pondered this, I came across an interview with Robert D. Enright, author of The Forgiving Life. This quote from the interview stood out for me:

People … think that when they forgive they are excusing what the other person did, saying, “It’s okay.” Forgiveness is stronger than that. Forgiveness stands on the truth that what happened to me was unfair, it is unfair, and it will always be unfair, but I will have a new response to it.

This actually ties in to what I found last week in the Wikipedia article on forgiveness, which distinguishes between forgiveness and excusing, as well as forgiveness and condoning, pardoning, forgetting and reconciling. Dr. Enright says that forgiveness is about practicing goodness towards others who have been unfair to us, even as we seek justice. So, if we go back to the car accident this morning, I think it means being kind, and extending courtesy towards the other party, even as you advocate for yourself and your view of the events that happened. When we practice goodness towards ourselves and others we feel better, even if nothing else has really changed.

It’s not easy, though.

I’m going to be thinking about this a lot more, and I’m also going to be making up a reading list for myself. I’d like to check out some books on forgiveness. I’ll be adding The Forgiving Life to that list, but if you have any other recommendations, please pass them along. I’d also like to hear your thoughts on forgiveness and fairness. How do you let go of anger when life has been unfair? How do you forgive and move on, without excusing? Please share!

One Step at a Time

I’ve been going through a spot of writer’s block. When you add that to the general holiday frenzy, the result is that I’m not writing as much in this space as I would like. Today, as I struggled to come up with something clever or funny or meaningful or at least mildly noteworthy, I decided that there was only thing to do: just write. And so here I sit, hoping that the more I type, the more words will come, and that in the process I’ll create a blog post worthy of hitting the “Publish” button for.

A few things have been on my mind lately, and I suppose that’s a good place to start. The first is my decision to go back to school starting in January. I’ve been up to the campus a couple of times in the past two weeks. I reactivated my admission at the same school I graduated from almost a decade and a half ago, so they still had all of the information I gave them when I applied as a fresh-faced 17-year-old. This meant I needed to change the name I was registered under. I don’t have my old student card anymore, and in order to get a new one I need photo ID. I don’t have any current photo ID with my unmarried name on it, so I had to dig out my marriage certificate. Then, after making the drive up and showing them my marriage certificate I had to wait 24 hours for the changes to take effect before I could get a student card.

Technology may change, but bureaucracy never does.

There have been some good parts of going back to school, though. I’m genuinely excited to take my classes, and exercise parts of my brain that have been dormant for ages. I picked up the lab materials for the kinesiology course I’m taking by correspondence and they include a stethoscope and blood pressure cuff. How fun is that? I also bought myself a new backpack, notebook, pens and pencils and all that fun stuff. I even splurged on a new pencil case, covered with an illustration of the mad tea party from Alice in Wonderland. New school supplies are even more fun when they’re for me instead of my kids.

school supplies pencil case alice in wonderland

All of the little details of handling bureaucracy, buying supplies, getting a parking pass, purchasing my textbooks and so on are really minor, though. The biggest questions that are weighing on my mind are:

  1. Can I actually do this? Am I overdoing by taking three university-level classes while also parenting and working part-time?
  2. Should I actually do this? Just because I can probably pull off the classes (I’m really good at school … or at least I was) doesn’t mean that this is the right choice for me, professionally or personally.

I’ve had many people come up to me and say things like, “You’re going to be a teacher!” They’ve told me how great this is, or that I’ll be really good at it, or that they’ve been considering something similar for themselves. I really appreciate the enthusiasm and encouragement. It’s amazing to know that other people are pulling for me. However, I really don’t want to put the cart before the horse.

I think that maybe I would like to be a teacher. I am going to try taking some classes – and most especially an education class – and see how that goes. If that goes well, I am going to try volunteering in a classroom that neither of my kids are in, and see how that goes. I am going to take it step by step, and if at any point I realize this is not right for me, I am going to give myself the freedom to let it go. In the process, I will have had new experiences, learned new lessons, and gained an important piece of information about myself.

If it is right for me, then maybe I will have found something that fulfills me, and allows me to give back. That would be fabulous. For the moment, I’m remaining open to both possibilities. When I went to engineering school, I remained committed because I felt that quitting would be the wrong thing to do. I don’t want to fall into the trap of being the good student who finishes what she starts no matter what for a second time. Now that I’m a grown-up I know that sometimes you need to say good-bye to one thing so that you can welcome something else into your life.

This is why, today, I am taking things one step at a time. I am handling one piece of bureaucracy, buying one thing I need, entering one commitment into my calendar, bit by bit by bit. I am cautiously optimistic, guardedly hopeful and contemplative all at the same time. Oh, and while I do all that, I’m also suffering from the sticker-shock of my tuition bill.

Ouch.

I have learned one thing today, however, and that is that I’m still a writer no matter what. I know this, because sitting down in this chair and writing my thoughts out has really helped. In clarifying them for the Internet at large, I’ve clarified them for myself. It’s a good thing. I guess sometimes I really do need to just write.

Thinking About Forgiveness

It’s been a while since we had music in our house. We used to have a surround sound system for our TV – a relic of my husband Jon’s single days. It was hooked up to our CD player and computer network as well, so we could listen to our music on it. However, between spending two years TV-free, kids yanking on the speakers, our switch from CDs to iPhones, and on and on, we decided to get rid of the system. The result is that we haven’t had much music in our house for years.

Not long ago I bought a cheap little pair of speakers to listen to music on while I cleaned. While quiet may be conducive to working for me, it doesn’t really help me get moving when my kitchen is dirty. Jon couldn’t stand the way the music sounded on those speakers, though. He wanted better sound quality so he invested in a Sonos system. For about a month now we’ve had the speaker in our kitchen, which combined with an Rdio subscription means we can listen to pretty much whatever we want. I’ve been building playlists, and one day when I was looking for a different song I stumbled across “Beautiful Day” by Joshua Radin. I’ve been listening to Joshua’s music a lot since, but this first song I discovered is still my favourite:

(Side note – I also love Parenthood, the show it was featured on, but somehow I didn’t make the connection between the two until I found this YouTube video.)

One of the song’s verses contains these lyrics:

Gonna turn my enemies into friends
What’s broken gets stronger when it mends
When we all come together this song we’ll play
We’ll sing it’s a beautiful day.

I was standing in my kitchen one sunny morning about a week ago, having just dropped the kids off at school, and I turned the song on to get me in a good frame of mind for the day. As I sang along with that verse, I found myself choking up and crying. Something about those ideas, at that moment, on that day, just spoke to me on a deeper level. The theme of forgiveness was calling to me.

The truth is that I’m not a terribly forgiving person. I can let little infractions slide, and shrug off little annoyances … but only for so long. When those little things add up over time, or when someone does something that really hurts me, I have a hard time letting it go. And, unsurprisingly, the person I am hardest on is myself. I hang out with myself all the time. I have way more opportunities to annoy myself, get in my own way, or hurt myself than pretty much anyone else.

I’m reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin right now, and I’d been thinking of doing my own happiness project in 2014. That morning in my kitchen, however, what I realized is that what I really need more of in my life is forgiveness. However, I honestly had no idea where to start. I wasn’t even sure I knew what forgiveness means. I decided to start by checking out the Wikipedia entry on forgiveness. It says this:

Forgiveness is the intentional and voluntary process by which a victim undergoes a change in feelings and attitude regarding an offense, lets go of negative emotions such as revenge, with an increased ability to wish the offender well. Forgiveness is different from condoning (failing to see the action as wrong and in need of forgiveness), excusing (not holding the offender as responsible for the action), pardoning (granted by a representative of society, such as a judge), forgetting (removing awareness of the offence from consciousness), and reconciliation (restoration of a relationship).

crafting my life forgiveness friday heart flower

I’ve read it over and over, and the truth is I’m still at a bit of a loss. I think you could say that what I generally do is excuse someone until I just can’t anymore, and then I hold a grudge. Oh boy, can I hold a grudge. I have a very good memory, so I can recall each and every transgression in very good detail, even decades later. I sometimes beat myself up over stupid things I did in high school, or even in elementary school. The fact that I wouldn’t hold my own eight-year-old responsible for her actions in the same way that I hold my own eight-year-old self responsible doesn’t really sway me.

I’ve found a bunch of documents online about what forgiveness is, and how to do it. I’ve found scholarly articles about self-forgiveness and its pitfalls. I’ve found spiritual articles about forgiveness, repentance and absolution. There’s no shortage of things to read that can help me. It’s a big task, though, and I think it’s going to take a long time.

It’s been a while since I’ve had a blog theme I’ve stuck with for a while. I had Mat Leave Mondays for a long time, and then I moved to Crafting my Life Thursdays, which became Enviro-Mama Thursdays. While I still care about all of those things, and I absolutely still write about green living because it’s important to me, I’m ready to embrace a new theme. This time it will be Forgiveness Fridays.

I need help in getting started. I’m hoping you’ll share your thoughts about forgiveness. Are you good at it – and can you offer me any ideas to get me started? Have you read any books or found any resources that were helpful? Do you find it harder to forgive yourself than to forgive others, like I do? What benefits do you feel when you forgive? I want to hear it all. Please leave a comment and let me know what you think!

Mature Student

I was inspired to write this post for the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month’s topic is The More Things Change … and it really resonated with me. Big things are ahead for me, but you’ll have to read on to find out what!

university school teacher student crafting my life

In late November I did something that I haven’t done in approximately 14 years – I registered for university classes. It was surprisingly easy. As a past student I was able to fill out a one-page form and re-activate my admission. When I attended the first time around I had to wake up at 5:00am to register by telephone, but this time around I registered at 2:30pm over the web. Even parking is easier. In the 90s there was a highly-competitive parking lottery, and people went years without securing a spot. That has all changed, and now I just have to show up at the office and pay.

In spite of the relative ease, I am still struggling. This is a big step for me, and it represents a new direction in my life. It’s yet another change of course, and I’m filled with trepidation about what it holds.

When I first attended university I chose engineering school because it felt solid and practical and potentially lucrative. I was good at math and science, and I felt I should capitalize on that. The truth is that while there were many things I enjoyed about engineering, and a whole lot of fantastic people I met along the way, it was never something that fed my soul in a meaningful way. I worked with people who were so energized by solving complex technical problems. Over lunch, they would debate the best way to build a dog trailer for a bicycle, or whether or not a Star Trek-style teleporter was scientifically possible. They loved it. I liked it well enough.

If you’ve been following my blog this isn’t news to you. You’ll know that I finished engineering school and worked as a programmer for 10 years. You’ll also know that during my second maternity leave my position was downsized, and I seized the opportunity to create a different sort of life for myself. This time around, I decided, I would be a writer.

As a writer I held a few freelance jobs, and enjoyed myself. I worked on this blog, attended conferences, and became active on social media. It’s work that has energized me in ways that engineering didn’t. Eventually I became the editor at VancouverMom.ca, an online magazine for moms. I’ve learned a lot, interviewed amazing and inspiring people, discovered my love for podcasting, visited places I never would have seen otherwise, and connected with my community in new ways. When I was talking to my husband this summer about what I wanted to do next, I told him that I was really loving where I was right now. It was true. I was pretty freaking happy.

Two things happened this fall that shifted my perspective. The first thing is that my son Jacob started full-day kindergarten. While this didn’t really net me oceans of free time, it did change my outlook. I am no longer the parent of preschool-aged children. My kids are moving out into the world on their own, and the reality is making me re-examine where I am in my life, and where I want to go next.

The second thing that happened seems much more innocuous at first blush: I was invited to an open house put on by a group that encourages young girls to explore math and science. They wrote about the importance of exposing our daughters to STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, math), and I agreed. While a career in engineering wasn’t right for me, ultimately, the truth is that I don’t regret pursuing it for a minute. It opened a lot of doors for me, taught me a lot, and provided me with skills and ideas that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. I started considering how I could share my love for math and science with my own kids, and with other kids. As I did, a long-buried dream surfaced from the depths of my psyche.

I could teach math and science. I could be a teacher.

I did some reading online, and one day in late October I headed up to the university campus for an information session at the Faculty of Education. Being on campus felt familiar in many ways. After all, I did spend six years of my life there. When I graduated, originally, I was happy to be done, and had no urge to return. That day, however, I felt energized to be sitting in a classroom. I left the information session with a better picture of what I would have to do if I pursued this route, and a determination to take the next steps.

Before I actually go any further, I need to take some more classes. I don’t have all of the necessary prerequisites to pursue my teaching degree, so I’m taking three classes in January, and continuing my other work. I want to take my time with this, and make sure this is actually what I want to do.

I don’t know what it will be like to balance school and parenting. I don’t know if I would actually be a good teaching candidate. I don’t know how long this will take, or what it will feel like to sit in class beside people half my age. All I know right now is that my first career dream as a child was teaching. I also know that I have volunteered with kids, even before I had kids of my own, because I love hanging out with them. Right now, I want to follow through on it, and see where it takes me.

Going back to school feels like a big change in direction, but it also feels like coming home. I guess that the more things change, the more they really do stay the same.

***

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

  • Mature StudentAmber Strocel is embarking on a new adventure in 2014, by returning to a space in her life she thought she’d left behind – that of being a university student.
  • And then there were four — Jillian at Mommyhood learned how quickly love can grow when welcoming a second child to the family.
  • Handling Change As A Mother (And Why That Takes Things To A Different Level) — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares how she helps her young daughter navigate change and why it is so important, as a mother, to gauge her own reactions to change.
  • Without Dad-One Year Later — Erica at ChildOrganics shares how her life has changed one year after losing her husband suddenly.
  • Family Ties — Lori at TEACH through Love realized that her most significant, most painful wound paved the way for her to share her greatest gift.
  • Rootless — After Dionna @ Code Name: Mama‘s parents packed up their home and moved to Florida this fall, she is feeling rootless and restless.
  • A Letter to My Mama Self in the Swirl of Change — Sheila Pai of A Living Family shares a letter she wrote to herself to capture and remember the incredible changes from the year, and invites you to do the same and share!
  • Junctionssustainablemum explains how her family has dealt with a complete change of direction this year.
  • Planning, Parenting, and Perfection — Becca at The Earthling’s Handbook explains how most of the plans she made for her adult life have worked out differently than she planned, but she’s ended up getting a lot of what she really wanted.
  • Why First Grade Means Growing Up… for Both Me and My Daughter — Donna at Eco-Mothering discovers that her daughter’s transition into first grade is harder as a parent.
  • First Year of Mothering — Mercedes at Project Procrastinot reflects on the quiet change that took her by surprise this year.
  • Building the Community YOu Desire — A recent move has Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children working toward setting up a new support network.
  • Slowing down in 2013 — A car fire and a surprise diagnosis of Down syndrome made 2013 a very different year than the one Crunchy Con Mommy and family were expecting!
  • The Seven Year Cycle — After 7 intense years of baking, birthing and breastfeeding 6 kids, Zoie at TouchstoneZ wonders, “Will I be enough for what comes next?”
  • Rebirth — Kellie of Our Mindful Life has found that each of her births leaves her a different person.
  • When a Hobby Becomes a Business — This year, new doors opened for That Mama Gretchen‘s hobby of writing and blogging – it has turned into a side business. She’s sharing a bit about her journey and some helpful tips in case you’re interested in following the same path.
  • 5 Tips for Embracing a Big Change in Your Family — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now tells about a big change in her family and shares tips that have always helped her family embrace changes.
  • Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes — Ana at Panda & Ananaso ruminates on how having a child changed her priorities.
  • Homeostasis — Lauren at Hobo Mama is finding that even as elements shift in her life — in cosleeping, homeschooling, breastfeeding, & more — they mostly remain very familiar.
  • Sally go round the sun — A new baby brings joy and unexpected sadness for Douglas at Friendly Encounters, as she is diagnosed with a rare genetic condition.
  • Embrace it — Laura from Pug in the Kitchen muses about the changes in her family this year and how she can embrace them . . . as best she can anyway.
  • Big Change; Seamless but Big — Jorje of Momma Jorje shares how one of the biggest changes of her life was also a seamless transition.
  • Celebrating Change — Change feeds Jaye Anne at Wide Awake, Half Asleep‘s soul. And all the work that seemed like monotonous nothingness finally pays off in a clear way.
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