The Bluestocking @ Home

Musings and Reflections


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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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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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One Foggy Morning

On mornings when I wake to a veil of thick mist sitting heavy on the landscape my heart skips and I feel that for a brief moment there is room to be still.  Like a warm embrace, fog reminds us to slow down, to pause, to savour.

Soon enough, the sun will rise and its warmth will lift this veil, pulling it higher and higher to the tree tops until at last the final wisps will float away like faint clouds on morning breezes.  And the bustle of the day will once again sweep us away and carry us onward.  Our pace will quicken, cars will speed past us just that little bit quicker, children will spill out of buildings to run and play and their laughter and voices will carry in the wind.

But in those early morning moments, when you can hardly see but a few feet in front of you there is little choice but to move through the landscape with more care and heightened intention.

One Foggy Morning  I  :: Magdalena Altnau Photography :: The BlueStocking At Home :: 2015

Fog is often synonymous with confusion and lack of clarity.  And yet, fog sharpens the eye.  You must be intentional about your steps, you must walk with eyes open.  Fog is illuminating.  Fog casts the world through entirely new eyes and in a new light; its details softened and highlighted in the same stroke.

Through my lens I am always seeking the light, chasing it, hoping to capture it just so.  Fog filters the light in new ways and draws the eye to unnoticed corners.  It may obscure, but that which it illuminates it does with subtly and grace.  Though we yearn for the bright rising sun it can cast a harsh glare and blind.  Chasing light is a delicate dance and more light does not always ensure clearer vision.

One Foggy Morning  II :: Magdalena Altnau Photography :: The BlueStocking At Home :: 2015

In the fog, senses are honed.  Lack of vision tunes the ear, it heightens intuition.  Rushing will only disorient and confuse.

I eagerly pursue the fog.  Some mornings that means the frantic grabbing of camera and lenses in the hope of capturing those moments before it lifts.  But most often it means a time for reflection.  A moment for the mind to be still.  For the chatter to subside and for the spirit to gather inspiration and to rest.  A time to be present and to just be.  The urge to be in constant motion is silenced, hastiness must be checked.  There is wisdom in the slowing.

Fog & The Rising Sun I :: Magdalena Altnau Photography :: The BlueStocking At Home :: 2015

And as sure as the rising sun, the veil of mist and fog never fails to lift.  But cherished are the lessons learned in the stillness.  There will always be rushing, the hours and days will slip through our fingers, the years will grow in number.  May they be best counted through the moments we chose to savour.

Fog & The Rising Sun II :: Magdalena Altnau Photography :: The BlueStocking At Home :: 2015

Be still and know that I am God.
Be still and know that I am.
Be still and know.
Be still.
Be.

~ St. Patrick

With Love,

Magdalena