The Bluestocking @ Home

Musings and Reflections


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Bound in the Light

Bound in the Light

Some places become a part of who you are. They become like second homes; places that when you walk through their doors, you feel that breath that you didn’t realize you were holding release, your shoulders relax, the stresses of your day, your week, month, or even year, dissipate and the burden of them lessen. Sometimes they are grand places, and sometimes humble and simple. Sometimes they have deep history, and sometimes they shiny and new. But they are places where your heart feels rest and your spirit is renewed.

This space, these pews, walking through these doors, this is one of those spaces for me. In a rush between responsibilities on Sunday morning, I caught a glimpse of the sun hitting the pews and it stopped me in my tracks, as it often does. Oh, the ways that the sun and those old stained-glass windows merge to create the loveliest of visions of colour and light, in and out of days, moving and changing with the seasons!

Stained-glass windows have for centuries told the story of the faith, they have told the stories that weren’t always accessible through the written word. Today, they continue to inspire as only art can, though we rely on them less to weave the story of who we are, and where we have come from.

And even though the scene is moving to me, even though it has been a place of solace and inspiration, it isn’t the stained glass, or the aesthetics of this place that make it home. When these pews are filled, it is the people in them that make this home. So many stories, so many relationships, so many deep journeys. Even though none of us are perfect, and at times we stretch, challenge, irritate, and upset one another, the very act of growing together and learning to soften our hearts towards one another, in love and in grace, is what makes this ground so sacred. And not because of the work that we do on our own, but rather because of the work that God does in us. Because without the way that he works on and in our hearts, we wouldn’t still be here. We wouldn’t be able to grow, to forgive, and to love one another, to share in both the joys and the sorrows.

Here we are, stepping into the Advent season, and some truths never change. Emmanuel, God with Us. He remains the glue that holds us together. The essence of a people bound to disappoint one another but blessed deeply by a grace that helps us work through our disagreements, our differences, and our hardships. And the difficult parts of the journey of community and in community are also the very things that make the joys we get to share all that much sweeter. When you’ve been through the trenches with someone, when you’ve helped carry their sorrows and their grief, when you’ve worked through misunderstandings, and differences, the joys become more sacred and carry great meaning.

But community is hard. It is hard work. Everything is easier and more picture-perfect until the pews start filling up. But we too are so much like those stained-glass windows; like broken pieces of glass, molded and fit together into a mosaic that through the changing of the seasons, in the morning and in the evening light, paints beautiful visions of colour dancing across the walls of our joint history. Without each of those unique pieces, those odd shapes, those different colours, the final assembly wouldn’t be the same and our stories wouldn’t be nearly as rich. And yet, a stained-glass window needs one key element to serve its purpose fully … it needs light.

In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” John 1:4-5

It is the light of Christ shining through us that fulfills the story of our lives knit and molded together. Some seasons feel darker than others. Advent reminds us of the waiting, the waiting for the light. But the joy that we have on this side of the cross, is that the light is what binds us both individually and collectively. And the light shining through us reflects both to us and to the world the glory of him who is in us. It is he who changes and molds our hearts, it is his love and his grace that when flowing through us gives us the strength, the patience, and the endurance to grow together as one body.

After all, “in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” Romans 12:5.

This first week of Advent we light the candle of hope. A hope for the future and a hope for the goodness that is to come. When we invite the Christ light to shine through us and to shape us, I am confident that the future is bright. Bright not because of all that we can work to accomplish, though there is much work to be done, but bright because of the grace and mercy of a loving God who knows how to take amazing groups of “misfits” and do beautiful things through them. Bound in the light, and with his help, a vision of hope for others who have yet to feel the warmth of that deep and abiding love.

Oh, and you … you, looking over at all us of dressed in our Sunday best, walking through these doors, or other similar doors, wondering how you could ever fit in here, thinking that the people entering this space couldn’t possibly make room for you or understand you .. you’re just the piece we need, perfectly loved and wanted. We are all still stumbling along trying to make sense of this life and the hardships that find their ways into all our lives, no matter what our outsides look like. But in his light, and in community with one another, the burden of it all is so much lighter. In fact, we need each other because in the sharing of these mysteries together “our joy may be complete.” (1 John 1: 4)

Warmly,
Magdalena

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Nurturing Rituals

Relishing and indulging in some cozy moments, and delving into one of my fall reads; these moments are not only an integral part of my self care, but of continual growth and brain food. Before I was a mom, and a homeschooling mom at that, I was a comparative literature major. And even now as a mom and homeschool mom, I am still a writer, a photographer, and a creative.

Years ago when I started my first blog, simply called The Bluestocking, it was because even after finishing my academic career, I still felt the yearning towards academic thought, having rich and deep conversations with people about literature, art, creativity, and also about the ideas and experiences. Later when I became a mom, not surprisingly, those desires didn’t dwindle, rather they grew. And for a season it was so hard to juggle all the things, but it never stopped me from carving out little moments here and there for my loves.

Later when I relaunched my blog, it felt like it was time for a slight revisiting and revisioning of what being a Bluestocking meant to me after kids, as a homeschool mom. The desires were the same but they now existed in a different framework. Most of my days are here at home. Which suites me just fine, because I am such a homebody! And so I write, photograph, create, cook, imagine, ponder, and dream here. And so I became The Bluestocking At Home.

I used to think that wasn’t enough. I used to think that I needed to make my mark somewhere physically outside these walls to be validated. But as it turns out, I don’t want to and I don’t think that I need to. Though that doesn’t mean that I don’t invite all kinds of good and worthy things into this sacred space. It doesn’t even mean that I won’t move into and through different spheres at different times in my life and in different seasons.

But making time to nurture and feed my mind and my spirit, to pursue my art, to hone the writing that I can release to the world, those things are all vital to the work that I do here with my children. The decision to homeschool wasn’t simply about schooling at home, but about this passion I have for seeing our entire lives as opportunities for growth and learning. Those moments aren’t solely defined by certain hours and years, spent in certain buildings, culminating in pieces of papers telling us who we are. Rather, the goal has always been to encourage each of us to see every day as an opportunity to ponder new ideas, be moved by beautiful art, discover new talents, and never lose our sense of wonder.

As a result, I’ve stopped seeing my pursuits of reading and art as extra moments of frivolous self care, but rather vital components and building blocks to helping foster a love of learning and chasing dreams in my own children. These pursuits keep me balanced and centred, and they ultimately enrich our lives as a whole. Making them a regular part of my life also combats feelings of discontent or doubts about vocation. I’m not stuffing my dreams deep down somewhere for “when the kids are grown”, rather I’m choosing to show my children that being a whole parent is possible. That you can love your kids and be a person too. In fact, that moms are very much people with dreams, goals, and ambitions.

And I realize that for those moms who work outside the home, this might be more pronounced and tangible. But for us stay at home, and stay at home, homeschooling moms, those lines can get a little blurry, making it all the more key to allow our kids to see that a mother is just as complex a being as anyone else they might meet.

And so I read, and I write. I run around with my camera and am forever scribbling in notebooks, coming up with crazy new ideas of things I’d like to try out and create.

What about you? How are you feeding your mind and spirit? What nurturing habits breathe life into your dreams?

Warmly,

Magdalena


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Halloween 2018|Part II|Hermione Granger

I know I say this every year but this girl of mine, she is fierce and brave, kind and smart as all get out! So I was thrilled when she asked to be Hermione Granger for Halloween this year. I think she nailed it … sass, bossiness, and spunk included!  I love her spirit, her confidence, and how comfortable she with who she is.

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Hope you all had a lovely Halloween!

Warmly,

Magdalena


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Halloween 2018|Part I|Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

Happy Halloween! Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

My son and I had such a wonderful time with this costume this year.  Mr. Rogers was such a influential figure in my own childhood and I have nothing but fond memories of his programs.  My children have only had a taste, but my husband and I have both spent so much time talking about our fond memories of Mr. Rogers and finding old episodes to show our children that they know and appreciate who he was and what he represented as well.

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Last night, when very few people recognized his costume at a party that we attended, Yuri was little disappointed.  We came home and washed away any of those feeling by watching the deeply moving “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” documentary about Mr. Rogers.  Despite this being my second viewing, I bawled my eyes out again.  If you haven’t seen this phenomenal film, I emphatically encourage you to see it. It will move you and inspire you.  It will remind you of the power and simplicity of love, the far reaching effects of empathy, the simple act of kindness and how deeply they can affect a generation … and the generation after that and onward.

 

This boy of mine, he knows how to show empathy, patience and kindness with younger children, and has a heart of gold. If he’s going to emulate anyone, I can’t think of a better role model than the likes of Mr. Rogers. Watching him grow and change and become the wonderful young man that he is today is one of the greatest joys of my life.

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Stay tuned for our Halloween Part II with our sweet girl!

Warmly,

Magdalena


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On Writing, Intentions & Liturgy

While my current writing project isn’t fiction, I find this beautiful liturgy a wonderful opportunity for the setting of intentions and for grounding myself in my craft. It reminds me of how strongly I feel about the importance of partnering in the creation of art with my creator from whom all blessing flow.

It reminds me of my deep desire to surrender as a creative to bold and authentic art, to the cultivation of beauty, to the wrestling with of thoughts and questions in my own heart and mind. Whether religious in nature or not, I pray that I and other creatives alongside me are bravely surrender ourselves to the deep well of inspiration that overflows in abundance all around us.

How often have I heard authors say, “this character or these characters, they just walked into my head and wouldn’t leave”? It only reaffirms my belief that art connects us to something greater than ourselves and outside of ourselves.

We stand as vessels, filled with the experiences of our lives, the observations of the seemingly ordinary, and the dream of worlds that were, that could be, or that perhaps should be. We stand before the page, affected by the stories of our own lives, by our own memories, by the hopes we carry deep within our hearts, by the scars that have shaped us and the joys that have lifted us.

And sometimes it feels like too much or not enough, and yet, when we surrender the perceived shortcomings, when we leave our floundering (or possibly inflated) egos at the door, beautiful things can happen and we, as vessels, become infused with a strength, wisdom, and grace previously unknown to us.

A splendid partnership of the human and the divine. One that humbles the heart and mind, while simultaneously causing the spirit to sore. It is a partnership that once tasted is craved for a lifetime. Perhaps that is what makes moments of writer’s block or seeming stagnation seem unbearable because we are yearning to return to that sacred communion that causes our hearts to spill out onto the page.

So I humbly surrender my craft and utter the words of this liturgy, “Lord, take these my small offering and shape me by these labors.”

Warmly,

Magdalena

P.S. The gorgeous liturgy in the picture that helped prompt this post is from the truly inspired book, Every Moment Holy by Douglas Kaine McKelvy. You can click the book title to take you to learn more about this very special book.


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Settled Into The Bone

October 15th is the feast day of Teresa of Ávila, a saint whose words have often spoken to my heart. On the days when we feel oh so weary, so very bone weary, this imagery of allowing God’s presence to settle in our bones and the releasing of ourselves to sing and dance and praise, and love, it is like a balm and healing ointment.

Not all days feel like days to sing and dance. Not all days feel like days to praise. Some days are heavy laden with memories, with hurts, and sorrows. Some days the sorrow reaches the bone and it aches deeply and you are short of breath, spiritual breath, emotional breath, mental breath.

But then a thing happens. Slowly, the breaks begin to heal. The sorrow, enveloped by time, cradled by love, nurtured in patience, begins to make way for new beginnings. The scars, not always visible, will remain, but life invites us to try again, to welcome the new day with a new hope.

October 15 is also Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. This past September marked ten years since my traumatic miscarriage at 16 weeks. That day, a decade ago, I lost my son. His name is Luca Olivier. He was my second, his big brother was so excited for his arrival, my husband and I were so excited to see our family grow.

I held him in my hands for a brief moment. A moment so brief that even a decade later it hurts to know that it wasn’t nearly long enough. For so many years, I was haunted by the trauma of that day, by the things that felt like they were my fault, by the moments that that couldn’t be undone, by the heart crushing sorrow that penetrated every cell of my body and settled deeply in the depths of my soul as they took his tiny body from me. It was one of the darkest moments in my life.

The seasons that followed were not linear. There were highs and lows, there was much healing, and yet there were moments that felt as though I was being pulled back to the earliest days. After a decade I am in a completely different space with my grief. I have been able to hold the hand of others who have experienced loss, I have told my story, and I continue to speak about Luca, because he existed and he was mine and I am grateful for even those brief months we spent sharing this body of mine. I have organized prayer services, I have written about loss, I have raised awareness. Through it, and in the midst of it, there has been healing.

And then, last year, on the anniversary of the day I lost him, the day came and went and I forgot that it was the day. And this year, it wasn’t until the day after that I remembered. And I was consumed by shame, by guilt, and by a different kind of grief.

But then I realized that sometimes healing means no longer needing to relive the pain in the same ways. And in some ways the pain has morphed into an honouring memory rather than a gut wrenching experience. I will never forget the way I was treated in that hospital that day, it traumatized me deeply and still makes it hard for me to walk into a hospital without anxiety, I will never forget the pain of labour, the utter distress of having my water broken by the doctor and knowing that there would be no turning back and that everything about that pregnancy was over in that moment.

I don’t want every memory that I have of this sweet boy of mine to be marred by the darkness of that day. From the moment I knew I was carrying his life within my womb, there was pure joy and wonderful anticipation. There were dreams of family and there was the excitement of a little boy who would talk to my belly so excited to be a big brother. There was love, so much love. There is love … deep and abiding and it has not ceased.

And so when faced with guilt or shame, I also realized that the darkest parts of my sorrow have had a chance to heal. I can think of Luca now without the very raw feelings of those early days and years. I would not begrudge my body when bones and muscles and joints heal in the aftermath of an injury. I would rejoice in the moments when I no longer needed crutches or a cast, or the day when I realized that I was no longer limping but walking at full strength again.

It has to be okay to walk again. It doesn’t mean that you didn’t love enough, or hurt enough, or that it wasn’t a big deal. It means that healing has taken place. It means that the sorrow has made way for hope, for joy, for new beginnings and for more love. It means that you have taken the pain and allowed the presence and peace of God settle deep into your bones, and hold you when you thought you couldn’t carry yourself any longer. And in the surrender of the pain and the sorrow a new road has emerged. It doesn’t erase the one that brought us here, it simply offers a new way. And along this path you may find others who need you to walk alongside them so that they too can walk towards their own healing. May we always be open to that journey, for the road of grief is to often lonely and overwhelming, but the yoke when shared makes such a difference.

Luca, sweetheart, mommy and daddy love you dearly as do your big brother and little sister. Thank you for touching our lives so deeply even in your brief time in our lives.

Warmly and with Love,

Magdalena


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Small Treasures

This special surprise greeted me in the kitchen this morning!! My kid is amazing! Not just because he made this, which is super cool! But because he has this heart of gold! It is so very much the little things you all! He probably couldn’t have imagined how much seeing that he made this for me touched my heart. It is not a special day, it is just Friday.

I cherish so much that he knows how to express love and that he loves to make things. He is constantly carving, constructing, reverse engineering and making things. Some days the glue gun and popsicle sticks and carving wood, the paper and the electrical tape, oh heavens the electrical tape, the crazy glue, the bits of straws and half used cardboard boxes that I’m forbidden to get rid of, strewn in all corners of my house and especially my kitchen drive me crazy!

But this morning this little gift not only stopped me in my tracks because of its love and kindness, but because it reminded me that all these “messes”, they are so important. They are the building blocks of creativity, of problem solving, of trial and error and trying again. They are the very sacred messes of childhood, and of the journey to adulthood, and of being a way-maker and a problem solver, a creator, and an innovator. And that mingled in the passion for creativity is the desire to share that joy with those you love. As I hold this keychain in my hand today, I am humbled yet again that I get to be his mom, and that I have the joy and honour of seeing him daily grow into a fine young man. Yes, dear friends, it is so very much the little things.

Warmly,

Magdalena