carpe diem & seize the (every)day

In my delusional dream world, I would accomplish the following in one day, yet with slow and calm intentionality.

  • run or do pilates (gets the shaft most often)
  • find quiet time alone (I haven’t seen my Bible or journal for a week)
  • cook fresh, healthy meals (this one Frans and I tag team)
  • develop my freelance biz (freelance = initiative-taking/flying solo…still learning)
  • blog (also quite often gets the shaft, as you might have noticed)
  • keep up with housework (currently coveting a dishwasher and dryer, which we don’t have)
  • cultivate beauty in my house (keep the clutter down and keep it fresh…I’m thinking occasional bouquets of flowers)
  • keep my Dutch fresh (of anyone, I spend the most time with Estella…lucky me! But I also speak to her in English. Since I finished language school my Dutch has plateaued.)
  • socialize (I love people. I miss people. Thank God for the elderly and playground mothers.)
  • maintain all forms of social networking (key when you live far away from everybody you’ve ever known in your first thirty-one years).
  • give generously (time, dinners, gifts, moving, babysitting, volunteering…Frans and I try to be generous here, it’s a shared priority…but not always easy to make space for) now is a time more than ever when we’re trying to figure out how we can give to the refugees flooding into Europe, besides financially.
  • practice hospitality (our door is open, people. unless Frans and I haven’t seen each other all week or we haven’t had a family day in like, forever…which sometimes happens. Then we’re not good for anybody).
  • sleep
  • oh, and then that little thing involving showering and hair and clothing. self care.

But what about the ‘how’ when it comes to the heart?

A typical day, for example. Estella wakes us up with shouts from her crib at 7:15am. Frans, bless him, gets up and gets her milk and brings her into bed with us. She greets me with a chirpy ‘hi!’ We have a sweet ‘family bed’ moment. And then Estella, finished with her milk, is ready for the day and begins doing things like walking across our faces and pretending we are trampolines. Amazingly, we ignore this behavior until it becomes very clear that we are no longer getting rest and coffee becomes more attractive.

Frans dresses in like two seconds (it’s seriously like a magic trick) and is in the kitchen making coffee. I gather Estella and change the diaper that is sagging between her knees.

She wants to push her babies in her wagon back in forth in our small space, and I supervise this while trying to make breakfast (usually soft-boiled eggs and toast or oatmeal and smoothie). I’m lucky if I drink half my coffee. We say goodbye to Papa and I sometimes secretly envy him as he skips away, coffee in hand, to jump in the car and join the world.

I dress without the magic trick Frans uses (takes me all of 10 minutes), clean up breakfast, the small Hiroshima of food destruction under Estella’s high chair, do some dishes, and start or fold a load of laundry, all with E getting into things or underfoot. So it takes me three times the normal speed.

Finally at some point we are dressed and out the door if the weather is fine (about half the time). Always with layers. Always. Even in summer, people. The wind here is just…chilly. 98.567% of the year. We either jump on my fiets (Estella has a her own seat and windshield), or I make two trips to carry the stroller down the stairs and then Estella. Lately, she’s been into walking her babies, which I encourage and love, since it’s walking practice and great exercise. Plus it is the cutest thing ever. So by now, it’s like 9:30am and I can’t believe that I’m already tired.

By all respects I have a glorious life…husband, kid, city, food, roof, luxuries. Yet most mornings I fight off the temptation to imagine living with wild abandon (hair flying behind me as I head on my bicycle to my adventurous job to do creative things with a supportive team) and have a choice to make: to seize the day and enjoy my daughter, despite what I’m not getting done or how much I (already) miss adult conversation. Heart. Attitude.

Today we seized the day. We filled her push wagon with her babies, an umbrella, and ergo carrier, for when she got tired. We walked the ten minutes to the closest bakery (one of the perks of living in the city) and ordered crossaints. And then because they did not have high chairs, we took the crossaints across the street to where they did have a high chair and ordered a cappuccino and enjoyed watching pedestrians pass as we sat outside and chatted.

We chatted with…a homeless lesbian heroin addict (we’ve seen her several times…she’s told us her story and it’s written on her arms as well), lots of elderly folk (all with a dog), and a smiling young man (with a baseball cap and cool sneaks). I made some wisecrack in Dutch, and he laughed. I called it a win, and Estella and I made our slow boat to China way home, victorious.

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