Thursday, June 30, 2016

Beauty in the Ordinary

I mowed the lawn today.  It's a small thing, but I'm absurdly proud of it.  Last year, I was recovering from surgery and for several years prior to that, I was too sick to be able to work much in the garden.  But not this year.  This year, I start most days working outside. 

It's a small victory, but I celebrate it. 

Living with a chronic illness and with special needs children teaches you that our lives are made up of the small moments we normally ignore.  Moments like mowing the lawn.  Or weeding the garden. 

As a child, I read a lot of science fiction and fantasy.  I loved big stories set in unfamiliar places (and I still do).  So when I started writing, I assumed I would write novels of magic and battles between good and evil.  But those stories never got off the ground.  I read and loved other people's science fiction and fantasy, but I couldn't write my own. 

Then I became a mother.  And I got sick.  And I adopted five special needs children from China.  My epic battles were not against evil, but against the seizures that shook my daughter or the isolation my son felt as he sat in his wheelchair watching other children run through the grass.   

I found myself writing about mothers and children.  About families and the small moments in our lives.  It's these small times when we're just sitting on the porch with our children, listening to the birds sing in the maple trees, that are the beautiful times in our lives.  As a writer, I want to capture those moments. 

I've spent a lot of time in the ICU.  My family has been told to come in and say goodbye to me several times.  I know what you think about when you're about to die. 

It's the people in your life.  Your spouse.  Your children.  Your parents.  The people you love.  That's what makes up a life. 

I'm lucky in that I get to write for a living.  Books were my first love and publishing a novel has been a dream come true.  I remember sitting in Arby's with my husband (who was then just my boyfriend), when we were both 18 and telling him I wanted to be a writer. I'll be 46 when my book hits the shelf.  That's a long time to wait for a dream to come true. 

But at no point during my stays in the ICU was I worrying that my dream of being a writer wouldn't come true.  Instead, I was thinking of the people I would leave behind.  I was missing them.  Not the things I wanted to accomplish in my life. 

And it was in those moments, that time in the ICU and during the other hard times in my life, that I found my voice as a writer.  I'm a writer of small things.  A writer of small novels with big hearts. 

As a culture, we're always looking for the Next Big Thing.  But I think we're missing out.  By always looking for something else, we miss what's happening in front of us right now.  It's those moments I hope to capture.  Our lives are so short and so unbelievably beautiful.  We just need to slow down and notice it. 



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