Monday, January 23, 2012


For about four years now I have been thinking about contentment and what that looks like and what that costs us and how we can achieve it, and I've come to the conclusion that I'm not very darn good at it. I guess the first rule of contentment is ix-naying all comparison between what you have and what you wish you had. This is very tricky. Very tricky indeed. For some people it's a matter of being happy with what you have, instead of longing for what you have never had. Maybe you dream of living in a warm climate, or being a world-class weight-lifter (two hyphens!) or, let's face it, being rich. But for some people, it's a matter of not comparing what they currently have with what they used to have. This is more the camp I find myself in. Both, I suppose, are wishing for what is not, instead of appreciating what is. I find this a very slippery slope to try and exist on. Sometimes I wonder if it's even possible. I wonder if we don't need to kind of sever our past sometimes to be able to fully live in our present. Maybe this sounds elementary, but bear with me as I hash this out on paper, wink. I have a somewhat unique circumstance in that I am married to a foreigner..a non-American. (Hehe, that makes me laugh, as if everything that's not American is foreign). Simply, I live on a different continent than the one I grew up on with a man who grew up on a different continent than I did. Unlike some of my friends and family, I always loved my hometown. Somehow I always knew I would leave, but it was not something I looked forward to. What I mean is, there was expectancy or excitement about what lay ahead, but I was never like, ''I can't wait to get out of here.'' Almost my whole entire family lives in Missoula, Montana, so that certainly plays a huge role in the missing and the longing I regularly feel. But there's also the town itself. The rivers, the cafes, the dives, the trails, the churches. The autumns, the endless summer nights, the quirky shops, the community. I remember talking once to a very wise Polish transplant and she told me something like this, ''Your new home will never be your old home. The sooner you get rid of this idea, the better your life will be.'' And I really needed to hear that, and I really took the advice to heart, but I don't really know how to go about doing that. Before I go on, let me just clarify one thing; my life in Slovakia is wonderful. I have so many things here that I never had back home. It goes without saying that I have a first-class husband and the best baby anyone could ever ask for, but I also have the givingest, helpingest mother-in-law this world has ever seen. I have a full range of organic fruits and vegetables (fresh and canned) brought to my front door a minimum of twice a week for free. I have three grocery stores, the furthest of which is five minute's walk from our flat. I have a greater feeling of safety as I walk the streets (and I felt pretty safe in Missoula). I have a skill which is in high demand, affording me work basically at all times, anywhere I go. I have this walk five minutes from my front door, (the front door of which belongs to a beautiful flat, which we are well on our way to owning outright). I could go on. 
(Whew, after writing all that I almost feel silly continuing with what I was about to say). Nevertheless, my friend was right. My new home is not my old home. My new friends are not my old friends. They can be good, but they will never be the same. Tomáš will never wander around Tesco with me just to see what's there. He will never share my insatiable drive for thrifting and refurbishing old furniture. I will probably never again take a 3 a.m. summer bike ride. I'll never have another yard sale, go Christmas caroling or take Lily trick-or-treating. No one may ever laugh at my pop-culture references or word-nerd jokes. But! (And it's a big but : ) If I can learn to remember those times, treasure them, but not cling to them, to realize that without change I would not have the apples of my eye that I have now, maybe I can learn true contentment. I recently re-read this blog post, and I was so thankful I had written it because it contained a truth I had wanted to remember. I was up at a retreat in Glacier National Park and was hiking to the breathtaking Avalanche Lake, all the while wondering what everyone else was doing, what I was missing out on. Meanwhile one of my dearest friends was running up and down the trail exclaiming, ''oh sweet moss!'' every time he saw a lot of it on a tree or a rock, because he loved and was fascinated by it. I realized that he had such childlike joy, and mine was being stolen through the cancer of comparison. I was in one of the most beautiful places on this earth and all I could think of was everything else. Everyone else. So, how can I learn true contentment? Try to be present in all I do. (I hate this buzzword, but it's true). Focus on what I do have. Whom I do have. Talk about it, think about it, write about it. I can see that it's helping already. So, here are a few things that have me content lately:   

Diaper heads


Babies in parkas


and afters

New book shelves

being put to use
Immunizations with no crying
Heart-shaped potatoes
Tights on heads
Friends' visits

Creamy red bean soup
And these two

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Favorites, 2011

Ok, I've tried. Lord knows I have. But I just couldn't seem to narrow it down to one favorite picture of Lily a month. There were some months that were favorite-rich and others that were a little threadbare, so to heck with it! (Gosh darn it!) You're just gonna have to put up with 54. Without further ado, in chronological order, I give you Lily, from baldy to a little less bald, 2011:
Learning to hold her head up

This wouldn't rotate for some reason

Wearing the hat ''Auntie'' Rachael made her

Practicing sitting up

Thumbs up for summer

My toybox just exploded


It's a dog! With BUNNY EARS!!

New-found freedom

Chew toy

Starting to stand

You come here often?


Cruising the neighborhood

In a previous post I mentioned that she was sick, but that you wouldn't know it. I have learned my lesson in saying such things. Poor little angel got sick sick. Then Tomáš and now me. But she taught me one thing, though, that it truly is possible to have joy in all circumstances. From her stuffy breathing, snotty upper lip, jangly cough and sweaty little head she was still smiling. And laughing. And trying to make us laugh. And seeking adventure in the doctor's office, as well as with the door-to-door salesman who came to our house. I will do well to think of that as my sickness sets in and all I feel like doing is whining and complaining.
Oh yeah, which picture is your favorite? I definitely have one, can you guess which?