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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Amidst the Bustle

I love decorating for Christmas. When I was a kid, one of my favorite things to do was to "remove" a few of the more interesting ornaments, lie under the tree and play for hours. Every ornament had a backstory.  As a grown-up, I most treasure those decorations with backstory--and if there isn't one then of course  I make one up!

Here's a glimpse of what it looks like around here:
These two trees are gifts from the Grinch.  He'd stolen them from Whoville and had meant to give them back, but forgot when he took a nap after eating all of that Roast Beast.  When he discovered his mistake, he couldn't find a graceful way to return them without having everyone think he was being "Grinchy" again, so he stashed them here. I didn't mind too much.

This is Dude.  He is from Hawaii. He is very cool--though not very happy about the hat. 

Sean gave me the Santa Brothers for Christmas years ago. Now they have a little puppy whose name changes every year.  It's not because I forget what I named him every year...not at all.
Oh, and next to them is Baby Noel.  My daughter got her for her first Christmas.  She used to hang from the tree, but somehow dropped and has a small crack now, so the Santa Brothers watch  over her.  Kind of like Three Men and a Baby, but with two Santas...and a really GIANT baby.

I have many Nativity scenes, but this is one of my favorites. Someone small in the house was playing and lost the Baby Jesus, so they substituted a Fairy Winkle (remember those?) thinking I wouldn't notice.  Well, I noticed, but I rather like it.

Made by my Great-Grandmother on my Dad's side YEARS ago.  It was my favorite thing in her house.  I am so lucky to have it.

LOOK AT THE VINTAGE JEWELRY!

No, your eyes are not deceiving you. I HAVE TWO OF THE VINTAGE JEWELRY CHRISTMAS TREES!! The bottom one was made by my great-uncle on my mom's side.  He must have read the same craft magazine as my great-grandmother did because they BOTH made one of these YEARS before the families were related by the marriage of my parents. SO WEIRD!! But awesome that I have them both.
Oh, and yes, those are my dogs in holiday sweaters.  In California where it is 70 degrees.  What can I say--my 15 year-old did it!



Tree-topper:  A star from a paper shop in Albuquerque and a picture of Trinket. When Noel first saw the cover for The Seven Tales of Trinket, she said it looked a bit like a Byzantine Baby Jesus.  I thought she was right. When I look up at the top of the tree, I am reminded that you can see holiness everywhere, if only you are willing to look.
(Oh, if you look above the tree, you can see a glimpse of a few of the members of my own personal Action League.  They are on the highest shelf and watch over Christmas to make sure things stay on track.  You can see Sun Kachina to the right (Made by my daughter from a tp roll,) and the Good Knight, and to the left, there is a likeness of a stature of Moses by Michealangelo backed up by Robot.  Not pictured:  Lego Indiana Jones, Irish Penguin, Chicken Wizard, Lego Han Solo.)

So, Merry Christmas to all!  May your holiday be filled with stories!

xo--

hrh

Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Illusion of Balance

Probably the question people ask me the most is How do you do it?  How do you balance everything? How can you be both a teacher and a writer?

And even though I've answered this question hundreds (yes) of times, my answer really isn't that good.  I don't actually know how to do it all.  Most of the time, I struggle.

I love being a teacher. There is something so incredible about living a life dedicated to the future of our world. Everyday, I get to see evidence that what I do is making a difference in the lives of children.  It's just...wow.

And I love being a writer.  Being able to conjure something in my imagination, being able to put it into words and having those words be the right words is a puzzle that I can't stop playing with. Knowing that the stories I write are read by children in schools or to children as they lie in bed each night makes my heart soar.

But these two endeavors take time.  And we all get the same amount of time. I don't get more time than anyone else, so I struggle with how to stretch my time to accommodate my two passions. And with that stretching comes the understanding that sometimes (most of the time) I have to let other things go.

I've been deep into drafting a new novel.  I thought the last novel I wrote (SECRETS OF SELKIE BAY in case you were wondering) was HARD, but this new one, this strange sci-fi story that eleven year-old me won't give up on, is HARDER. I started it in 2013. I wrote 10 pages and stopped, then revisited in May of 2014 and have been deep into it since. But pouring so much of my soul into getting these words right means there is less of that soul left for other things. One of those things that I've had to give up a bit is my blog.  Aauugghh. It makes me so sad when I open my blog (which is where I always click onto my twitter) and see that I've not posted in weeks.  And although I really appreciate it when people read my blog (THANK YOU!!), my blog's true purpose is for self-reflection.  It is a web-log of my journey, both as a writer and as a teacher.

I hate when I have to let that kind of think-time go. It makes my head jumbly and forgetful.

But, as I said, there is only so much time.

And if you are wondering if my house is messy, it is.  Dinners are MUCH simpler right now. If it weren't for crock-pot Mondays and salad Wednesdays, we'd probably starve.  

This time of year it gets extra tricky because of Christmas (which I love). I have decorated, but with a lighter hand this year. I had to cut myself some slack.

I think that is probably what I am trying to get at here, what I am trying to reflect on more for myself so that I can understand and embrace it.  There is not enough time to do it ALL. There just isn't.

So I have to cut myself slack.

There is so much more I want to say about this, about how I basically get to watch NO TV, how reading is the most luxurious treat--but only if I finish my daily word count, how I have actually hit my head on my desk falling asleep trying to write more (but the next day finding out it was jibberish anyway), but I am running out of time. Again. This post was supposed to be filled with advice about how to manage a life such as this. Obviously I am in no position to give advice. Ha.

I guess all I can say is, when you are trying to balance your life, cut yourself some slack.

That is how I balance my life.  With slack. (How do YOU manage it?)

xo-

hrh