To Fresh Starts, Again!


Hello, friends! Sarah and I met up over the holidays when our paths happened to veer close enough to go to breakfast. We stayed hours (our poor, patient waiter: "are you sure there's not anything else I can get you?" = are you sure you're still going to sit here and talk endlessly?) and yet we just scratched the surface, catching up and making plans. And (once again, predictably) forgot to take a selfie to document it.

One thing that emerged from our chat: we are excited to revive Nest & Launch with regular posts, new features, and reconnecting with all of you. We have a lot of thoughts about nests and launches and what's next for those of us in the middle of both. 

I'll admit 2017 was a quiet year for me--was it for you, too? I think part of it was a lingering funk over current events and the bleak political/public/social landscape. I was also trying to find my feet beneath me and adjust to alllll the changes life brought this past year: a move, a new job, launching Sam on his mission, and an emptying nest (cue Fleetwood Mac's The Landslide). 

So it was a fallow season of turning inward, thinking more than talking, reading more than writing, homebody-ing more than adventuring.  And it's been good--a cocoon was exactly what I needed to process and adjust and gear up for this next chapter we're in. 

Happily, the arrival of 2018 has me feeling like I've finally emerged and found my equilibrium--maybe even my long-lost verve. I'm keen to get back to all the things I put on hold during my lovely hibernation.  Here's to us all looking ahead to a verve-filled year!

. . .
Making me happy lately:

  • do you follow The Home Edit on Instagram? Sure, they post glorious, inspiring posts of their work color-coding and organizing beautiful homes to their feed and that's great but the best part is their HILARIOUS Instastories documenting their adventures, phobias, and friendship in an Ab-Fab, Laverne and Shirley kind of way. Find Clea and Joanna on Instagram @thehomeedit. p.s. While you're at it, follow us @nestandlaunch for some additional windows into our days and hijinks.
  • G. You know how last year we worked in different cities during the week? I definitely do not take for granted how key he is to my happy life. I'm grateful for his sacrifices over the last year to help me move ahead with my dreams; we're tinkering with our arrangements to maximize our time together this year even as his travel schedule picks up. More about all that in an upcoming post but G is definitely someone who lights my world, still and always.
  • Trader Joe's Everything but the Bagel seasoning. I've gone through FOUR bottles of this stuff since I started using it in July. Try it on cottage cheese, avocado toast, veggies. I (obviously, embarrassingly, truly, madly, deeply) can't get enough.
  • Just started listening to the Audible book format of Kelly Corrigan's Tell Me More, just released today. We have been outspoken Kelly Corrigan fans since day one and nothing beats listening to her read her own writing. Such a treat. I nominate her as the patron saint of Nesters & Launchers. (And, I just saw when I added that link, I already said that patron saint comment in another earlier post about her almost five years ago. Must be true, then!)

Getting back to it

Today was the first day of school here. We're down to just one back-to-school kid at our house but it still seems just as much of a turning point to the year. Goodbye lax summer schedule, hello routine and early mornings and (dare I say it?) productivity. 

Of course I had to take the obligatory back-to-school photo.  I've grown accustomed to seeing everyone in shorts and knee socks but I know it takes some getting used to at first (someone commented on Instagram that it looked like a teenage Christopher Robin and that's about right).  For half the year the boys wear summer uniform (which is this one, below) and the other half they wear winter uniform, which is a blazer, shirt, tie and slacks. As a new Year 11, Sam switches to black shoes rather than brown (kind of weird with the shorts in my opinion but whatever) and in the winter to blue slacks instead of tan. 

Maddy managed to photobomb this one with some big sister love

Maddy managed to photobomb this one with some big sister love

I'm feeling the need to buckle down, too. Summer has spoiled me and I'm in need of a self-discipline intervention, transplant, something, stat! I made goals in January but it was more like pulling the starter on the lawnmower over and over without any turnover. February is the month I'm going to get serious about them. 

1. Write and/or research every day. Show up, give it my best focus, then get up and do other things. [edited in April to say: I've been doing this! Mostly. I've scheduled a dissertation defense in mid June so the adrenaline is kicking in and I HAVE to do this. It feels really good...and is a big reason why I haven't been able to write blog posts lately. I'm spent!]

2. Walk/hike 1500 kilometers in 2015 (this works out to about 28 k or 17.5 a week).  We've got some ambitious plans for doing some family hiking trips and I want to get some mileage in so I know I can keep up. Plus it just does me a world of good to do it. [edited in April to say: really really didn't happen but I'm going to do my best to get back on track.]

3. Have more fun. [True sign you're taking your life too seriously: having fun is a resolution. But Fun and I are going to tango this year. In a good way.]

"How shall this be?"

Happy Boxing Day, web-world! We're still enjoying the season's abundance and togetherness around here but the empty boxes, the carpet of crumpled wrapping paper, and the perpetual snack grazing are all starting to feel past ripe. I'm fighting the need to gather up all the holiday over-the-top-ness and revel in the stark simplicity of starting over. (Just me?) Anyway, one last holidayish post before we head into the flurry of the New Year.

Annuniciation, Dante Rossetti

Annuniciation, Dante Rossetti

She cowers on the bed as a young girl would, introduced--by an angel, no less--
to an overwhelming assignment/challenge/blessing.  I feel for this Mary, the initial weight of the impossible evident in her slouch and gaze. 

Moments later she straightens her posture and says “be it unto me” and “behold” but I love that the artist* paints this humanness of Mary’s initial “how shall this be?”

Every year I find something different in the nativity passages of the New Testament to identify with: the seeking wise men, the dazed shepherds, the distracted inn keepers. This year I’ve lingered over the figure of that young Mary and her “how shall this be?” keeps ringing in my ears.

I have had several “how shall this be?” moments in my life.  They happen (for me) in that margin between the advent and the acceptance of a challenge or opportunity, especially when things don't go according to plan. Part wonder and part panic, these thoughts are evidence of the gap between my faith and knowledge, the difference in perspective between the microscopic view and the vast one. 

There are times when I simply can’t see how shall this be.  And really, doesn't being a parent sometimes feel like one big universal how shall this be proposition, from the moment the little quick pregnancy test stick says "+" to beyond those moments when our kids pack up their things, wave goodbye, and transition into their adult lives? Every day is a how shall this be?

Each holiday season nudges me to learn it again. That’s why I love this young, pausing Mary—she’s at the brink of realizing how wonderful and weighty it really shall be.  It's the just-right bridge for me between Christmas and New Year's Day for me, too, as I turn my thoughts to possibility, change, and the hopeful audacity of resolutions. [Finish dissertation? How shall this be?] 

.  .  .

*By the way, the artist Dante Rossetti used his sister Christina as the model for the painting of Mary above. And Christina Rossetti was a writer in her own right and wrote In the Bleak Midwinter.