I haven’t been reading much for pleasure this summer.  (Although I HAVE been finding much pleasure in the books I’ve been reading for grad. school!)  But I snuck in the excellent novel, Orphan Train a few weeks ago.  There was a concept that was key to the story, something I have heard about before but struck me with new significance at this different place I’m at right now in my life.  This concept was called portaging.  Imagine you are on a canoe trip where the river dries up or becomes so low that it’s necessary to carry your canoe along the bank until the next river begins, or the current river reaches a level you can once again properly navigate your canoe. You would need to pack light, carrying only the essentials, otherwise the canoe would be too loaded down and you would be unable to move along to the next point of your journey.

2014 has been a year of portage for me.  This year of transition has been a time where I am sifting through my collection of thoughts, lessons, and experiences from the last 14 years, deciding what the essentials are that I’m going to carry with me as I prepare for the next leg of my journey.  I’m sure as I paddle into this new adventure, I will continue to realize essential items I will need to hold close, but here is the list as it stands right now.

1.  Creativity.  I didn’t realize how fundamental a need this is for me – and I would say, for all of us.  This looks different for me every single day, but it’s such a soul-engaging NEED that it makes the top of this list.  I need to do something creative nearly every single day.  Painting a bookshelf, baking brownies, weeding my garden, moving furniture, writing a blog, etc.  It is a discipline to allow myself to be creative.  It is a way to connect with who I am created to be.  It fulfills a need within me that then allows me to be a better wife and mother ~ and person.

2.  Bittersweetness.  I stand rooted in hope and grief.  Like a flower that emerges stronger because of those creatures who gave their lives to feed the soil I’m planted within, I carry with me the yin and yang of this life.  As I proudly watch my children mature, I weep with the loss of their childhood.  Though I mourn my sweet girl, I am thankful for lessons learned in the wake of that tragedy.  Like the seasons that change, I too am evolving and learning to recognize these changes as opportunities for growth or rest.

Kate's Lily

Kate’s Lily

3.  Honoring the moment.  Not typically one to plan, I usually live for the moment.  Learning to HONOR the moment, however, is a different, crucial element.  When I can let go of expectations and rest in the present moment, I fully engage and experience the sacredness within that moment.  Whether I’m teaching my boys how to brush their teeth (again), listening to my girls complain about one another (again), folding laundry (again), or laughing during a family dinner, if I am concentrating on those people in that moment instead of the thousand other things that may need to be addressed, then I am honoring that moment ~ that relationship.

4.  “I’m tired” can be translated in a variety of ways.  I say this a lot.  Too much.  It is usually true, but there’s often an undercurrent that lies just beneath this surface, beckoning me deeper.  Sometimes “I’m tired” means “I need to talk.”  Sometimes it means “I’m feeling sad.”  Sometimes it means “I just need some time to myself.”  I have learned that I am so quick to dismiss my feelings that I often fail to even recognize or name them.  When I hear myself saying, “I’m tired,” I’m learning to pay attention.

5.  Coffee.  Goodness gracious, however did I live without this beverage?  I started drinking coconut frappachinos and now drink it black, although I appreciate its multitude of subtleties and uses.  Though coffee is indeed important, it also serves as a metaphor to me that sometimes I need help making it through my day.  My first inclination is to muscle through any situation by myself, but in reality I am better served (and a better servant to others!) when I admit that I need help.

Just one more cup...

Just one more cup…

6.  Less of me leaves more room for Him.  Perspective is powerful.  When I enter into a situation with my own prejudices, my own preconceived notions, I influence and manipulate that situation often without even realizing it.  If my goal is to be a vessel for divine love to be shared with others, I need to ask for help to make it not about me, but about using my life and experiences to serve a greater good.  This is something I need to ask not just daily, but in every waking moment, so that it becomes as natural as breathing.

It is too difficult to sum up 14 years of stay-at-home-motherhood in one blog post.  But as I portage to this next stage, I carry with me essential, valuable components that will help guide me through this next passage.  It’s an interesting question, isn’t it?  What essentials are you carrying with you throughout your travels?


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