On the irony of life

It is Fall break and I'm taking the time to write the musings of my heart and mind on our life here, reflecting with gratitude and to be honest, a sense of melancholy. More than anything, I am embracing contentment, and that is because BJ and the girls are so happy, and I'm happy to be content.

We are loving our home, and the functionality and beauty is thanks to Naida who shared her time and talents with us to help design it from layout to colors.

 We invited them over as our first dinner  guests, and Molly Mae helped me decorate with flowers from Nana's garden. Watching her make beautiful designs from God's natural beauty was nothing short of spiritual.
Before dinner, we finally drank a special bottle of wine gifted to us by our friends Susan and Dan, who gave it to us as a a special memento in the spring of 2016 since we were going to Paris. Susan told us to enjoy it together either before or after we went, and we meant to drink this after we came back, but our life fell apart then, and it just never felt like the right time. I found it fitting to share with  Naida who helped bring beauty back into our lives in our home. 

We are slowly working on the outside...my contribution is buying mums and BJ is putting his agriculture experience to use with some landscaping.


BJ is loving our life in Centerville. He has chickens and we are getting goats after we return from Fall break. He is being a great stay-at-home Dad and our life is actually much better than I ever remember it before his diagnosis of Parkinson's Disease. 

The reduced stress is good for his health,  and I imagine for mine too. 

He fishes most days and on Sundays he takes the girls. I definitely think that fishing has contributed to his health. He says, and my Dad corroborates, that when BJ creek fishes, it is a work out, but the girls and I like the pond for the beautiful setting and easy catches. 

Molly seems to love school and I love getting some stories about her from friends who work at her school. She is so proud that she is reading chapter books. Molly and her cousin Kitty, although in different classes, have figured out a way to sit near each other in lunchroom and play together at recess, and get to see each other twice a week for enrichment.  They play on the same soccer team, and want to be together all the time, even though they fight like sisters.  (This is at our friend's, Charlie and Naida's home.)

Anna Cate loves 6th grade, mostly the social aspect of it; we are thankful she has met some really sweet girls and having some great "middle school" experiences.  She is entering the academic time where I can be of use to her education since I know the curriculum. I'm not so sure how she feels about that. Anna Cate is not driven for personal success, and as BJ and I were discussing the other night, he said, "she is wired like my mom; she is motivated to do things for others." It is a gift, but I would like to see her work hard for herself. Interesting times ahead I'm sure. So far she still seems to want to be with us and I'm so grateful for her kind heart. It is never very far away from my mind where we were this time last year in such a state of desperation over her health. 

She ran cross country, because I made her, and even though she doesn't enjoy the competitive aspect of it, she sure loves the relationships. My Dad made me run starting at age 9, and  I'd like to think I'm less autocratic about it. . . I'd also like to think she will develop a life-long love of the practice I find so good for the body and soul. 

We are enjoying life in a small town. One Sunday when Kitty stayed over, we all walked to church. 
 And then enjoyed celebrating my brother's birthday.
It is so nice to be around for family celebrations, both little and big. We were here for Tallulah's first birthday and she was absolutely precious and knew the get-together was about her. She is such a sweet, affectionate, personable baby and I'm so thankful we get to be around. 

We have Vanderbilt season tickets, and Molly thinks that tailgating is the best part.

Anna Cate is up for anything fun, and has enjoys going to cheer the team on as they come into the stadium at home games. She high fives the coach and Mr. Commodore. 
We had planned to spend the weekend with our friends Jim and Laurie after the Alabama game, but Molly got strep, so I stayed home with her.  Laurie and Jim drove to Centerville and it was so special to be together, even if it made me miss her more. 
Molly told me when she was sick, "It is not fun being sick, but it has been nice to have the day together."  Lately, this exact sentiment mirrors the introspection. 

My musing on the joy and melancholy:

I am working in Dickson, a town 40 minutes away, and am so fulfilled, challenged and thankful to be teaching the subject I'm so passionate about to an age I love -- World History to 7th graders. I feel appreciated and am thinking working in one small town and living in another is a good idea for a middle school teacher and mom who sometimes struggles to keep my mouth shut about the ways schools do things.  Teaching in Dickson has given me the chance to renew myself in an unfamiliar setting in the midst of our family moving back to the comfort of home. I took an interim position and really hope to be there again next year. BUT, I do miss being around for the family happenings during the week, and to be honest, my ego is a little bruised that I'm not serving in my home town. This is the example of the absurdity that is either life or my mind -- the very thing that makes me so happy, teaching in Dickson, also makes me sad.  I just notice my feelings and am trying not to attach. I rejoice in my fulfillment in my job satisfaction, and tell the girls I am sorry to not be around as much as I would like.  Last week, when exhaustion left me on the couch, I took in this scene: Anna Cate, reading a history novel to me and Molly, meditating and practicing yoga. A gift from the universe that my influence might not be diminished because my physical presence is. 

"You can have it all in life. . . just not at the same time." --Allahna Brathwaite

I think about all we experienced in the past year, and I know I could not have gotten through it without the support of family and friends on the outside, and the slow steady practice of running and yoga for work on my inside.  Being in a state to reflect gives me peace, and while we don't have easy "Target runs"  I am so thankful to be surrounded by such beauty for my actual runs.  I don't take that for granted as I reflect on our life, BJ's health, the girls school, happiness, my job, our situation. 

I think about how stunning and sad it is that BJ has Parkinson's. I wonder what our girls will remember when they think about our move here. Will it pierce their heart like it does mine, when I say why we moved, "my husband has Parkinson's and we wanted a slower, cheaper pace of life." Because I may say that but in the abyss of my subconscious, I'm also thinking: we don't know what life has in store for his health, and I want him to be happy and healthy.  We want to spend as much time together as a family as we can. And last year, I saw that we need my family. Parkinson's is a progressive disease and I am scared so I'm willing to be exhausted and sad a little so that he can be happy. Actually only sometimes, that's true. . I'm quite a selfish person, and even though he is the one that is sick, it is me that gets taken care of. I still make sure I am fulfilled, which is why I feel so selfish by being so happy teaching in Dickson. I probably am a slacker of a mother, actually. But the crazy thing in this whole weird thing when my young husband gets this horrible disease and has brain surgery that we thought that would make our life go back to normal, but instead meant he couldn't work and rocked our world is that we are happy now! We are having a better life than when he worked 65 hours a week and we fought over who takes off when a kid get sick, and we sat in traffic trying to keep our kids in activities.  Could it be this is a blessing? The very thing, a Parkinson's Disease diagnosis at 36, that is heart breaking to happen to such a good person has been an invocation of presence, love and light for our family.  Because my goodness, I miss my friends and my church, and my yoga studio, but I love getting to see my family almost daily, and we are having a good life. My kids are growing up in walking distance of their grandparents and cousins. And BJ is good, and the girls are happy. 

Of course, I don't say all those things, but with a drive to and from work and the chance to run on country roads, I'm reflecting with awareness of the good and rough  times. 

“If your mind carries a heavy burden of past, you will experience more of the same. The past perpetuates itself through lack of presence. The quality of your consciousness at this moment is what shapes the future.” ― Eckhart TolleThe Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment

I know  it will sustain me when they commence again. Truth is -- struggles can be ahead for everyone; we just have an inkling what ours will be.  I can't say "God does things for a reason" because I think that is a shallow, broken theology, but I can embraces the words from Paul my grandmother used to quote. 

Now I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have revived your concern for me. . . . I am not saying this out of need, for I have learned to be content regardless of my  circumstances. I know how to live humbly, and I know how to abound. I am accustomed to any and every situation—to being filled and being hungry, to having plenty and having need. I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.

It reflects this notion that missing part of my life in Fredericksburg doesn't mean I'm sad to be here, that being happy in Dickson does have its cost, and that maybe a devastating diagnosis has helped us create a better life.    


Jean Thompson said…
Sarah, you have a remarkable outlook on the curves life can throw you! I'm so glad you've found a place where you can enjoy life as a family!!! (Although "retired" from Hickman County, I work as a consultant now with Dickson County...our paths may yet cross again!!!)
Much love!!!
Mary Bates said…
Sarah, Another beautifully written blog!!! I am so grateful for the " precious present" in your life right now and pray that the thoughts of those future struggles that you so eloquently describe, will not take one iota of joy from your days now. You are teaching me and I am reading about living in the present. THANK YOU and I love you so dearly, Mom
Mary Bates said…
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