A dear friend has given me permission to simply admit that in this season, life is not easy. I share my emotional and physical burdens, and she is the one who takes the liberty of saying it for me… “Sister, your life is not easy right now.” For a few weeks I’ve feared that admitting this somehow means I am ungrateful, when really, there is not a day that goes by that I am not grateful. Even in the trenches, I love my life. And then sometimes I feel silly thinking those words, not easy, when I am aware that my struggles are relative to my culture of convenience, and circumstances. I may not have a car, a washer and dryer or dishwasher, but as sure as do have a roof over my head, food in belly, and an incredible husband and daughter. And while I can’t say the same about a dishwasher or washer/dryer, I really do love living without a car. Sometimes it is just really damn hard, and being pregnant, heading into winter, we are in the thick of it. It’s no longer some cute casual affair, it is to the very core, who we are. It’s one thing to ride your bike for exercise or while wearing braids and a cute dress. It is another to gain 15 pounds, and pedal a 75 lb. bike, with a 26 lb. pound baby, with $150 worth of groceries, in 35 degrees, with 40 mile hour winds. I absolutely stand by our choice, and think it is one of the best decisions we have ever made together, but it is just not always easy. The practical challenges of the present are easier to talk about, but really they just skim the surface of the emotional growing pains that stir inside our walls. There is a lot of love, and there is a lot of heartache. This is our season.
I find comfort in the inevitable. I find comfort knowing that nothing ever stays the same. Whether we change or not, seasons and circumstances will. This may be one of the few things I know, and so I hold on to this truth tight, keeping it in the most sacred and quiet place I can find.
I keep on pedaling, because it is the only choice I have. After hundreds of rotations, something in me stirs, something in me shifts. The tight space inside my chest opens with ease, and I let myself drown in the smell of burning firewood. This smell is so wonderful that it brings me to tears. Five miles later, I arrive at the grocery store, out of breath, and a little more content. A woman and her two children stop to tell me how brave I am. Me, brave? I couldn’t respond, I just stared back confused. How did she know I needed to hear that, how did she know that in that moment, I might just actually believe her? Am I really brave?
I keep washing each and every dish, because if I don’t we will not have dishes to eat with. I ponder just letting things hit rock bottom. What does a kitchen that has not been cleaned for 48 hours really look like? My curiosity begs me to just give it a shot, but I decide it’s best to just keep washing. Something in me stirs, and something in me shifts. I arrive to my last dish, smitten and pleased. We are going to be okay. All of four of us. Maybe not today or next week, but in time, we will be more than okay. This is just another truth, I bury deep inside and save for when my emotions get the best of me.
Baked Berry Oatmeal
Slightly adapted from Super Natural Every Day
2 cups rolled oats
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/3 cup dark brown sugar or maple syrup*
1/4 cup flax seeds
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1 cup blueberries
1 cup blackberries
2 cups whole milk or milk of choice
3 tbsp. melted butter
2 tsp. vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 375. In a large bowl combine oats, walnuts, flax seeds, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, baking powder. Mix well. Add berries. Put all dry ingredients in an oiled 8×8 pan. Melt butter in a small saucepan. Remove from heat. Whisk together milk, egg, vanilla, into the sauce pan with melted butter. Slowly and evenly pour liquid mixture over oats in than pan. Bake for 35-40 minutes.
*If using maple syrup, you will not mix that in with the dry ingredients, like you do with brown sugar. Rather, whisk syrup in with the wet ingredients. Both brown sugar and maple syrup taste great, and maple syrup is a healthier option, it is usually just a matter of what is on hand.