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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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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Fall-ing Away

I’m finally layering in little touches of fall decor around the house, and taking the time to nurture my home and simultaneously a part of my heart again. It feels like it’s been a spell since I truly nurtured my home, but that can happen when your heart feels overwhelmed and overburdened, so I am both physically and emotionally embracing the gentle falling away of the old and a season of preparation and nurturing for the chapters that lay ahead.

I must be on the right track because even my loves are sensing the shift and are loving the return of the little touches around the home and in our daily rhythm that used to flow so naturally from me, but that seemed to be wilted for a time. And while I have berated myself and bemoaned the off feeling that I had for some time, they have never breathed a word. But I can see their excitement and their genuine pleasure at seeing the return and it makes me so happy.

Fall is a good time of year to let things go, and prepare the ground for something new. What are you letting go? What are you making room for? Is there anything that you are returning to that your heart has really missed? Or is it time for new pursuits all together?

Warmly and With Love,

Magdalena


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Dancing with Daffodils

With all the blooming happening out of doors, it seems the polite and neighbourly thing to do to invite Spring indoors as well!

Some glimpses of the daffodils and spring decor currently brightening things up inside our home!

And then my heart with pleasure fills,

And dances with the daffodils.

William Wordsworth

The afternoon light pours into my dining room in the most beautiful ways! I love my kitchen and back patio in the mornings and my dining room in the afternoons. Always chasing the light, I suppose! And in the glow of the afternoon sun the daffodils really shine.

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She wore her yellow sun-bonnet,

She wore her greenest gown;

She turned to the south wind

And curtsied up and down.

She turned to the sunlight

And shook her yellow head,

And whispered to her neighbor:

“Winter is dead.

A.A. Milne

And yes, what can I say, I love lace and old fashioned linens and dark woods and gold gilded frames! Traditional yet eclectic probably describes my style best. But it makes me happy and feels cozy, and I love cozy best of all!

Happy Spring!

With love,

Magdalena


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Weekend Spring Brunch

Well hello there, March!! Goodness we are glad to see you!

Here in our neck of the woods, visions of spring are bursting everywhere these days! And we are hopeful that our “monsoon” season has passed!

With such beauty and warmth calling our names, and beckoning us to come out and soak it all in, it seemed that an outdoor spring brunch was called for!

It was truly a rare Saturday, where my husband and I were childless and commitment free for the morning and after running some errands we decided that the day called for a real brunch and some slowing down and savouring of the beauty of the day.

Some time ago we discovered a Gordon Ramsey recipe for scrambled eggs, which has since been deemed by the children to be the finest and most delicious way to enjoy a scrambled egg. In fact, on most mornings the request for Ramsey eggs is now par for the course! And of course, I am in full agreement! I’m already an egg lover but these Ramsey eggs have raised the bar!

We paired the eggs with a lovely smoked salmon and probably one of the most flavourful blue cheeses I’ve had in ages, a Kerrygold Cashel Blue. On the side some of my “famous” (at least in this house) Polish potato salad and strawberries. And of course, coffee … in the French Press naturally! I mean if you’re going to go for it, go for it!

So we savoured and talked and laughed and soaked in every minute. And it reminded me of how beautiful it is to watch one season give way to one another. How winter bows out to make way for spring and how much life there is in these simple transitions.

How much joy comes from the savouring of the little changes! The first blossoms and blooms spotted, the first day when windows can be flung open, the first spring walk, where closed toe shoes are optional! Just as in the fall, when we delight in the subtle ways that Autumn begins to paint her vibrant red and gold strokes across the landscape and when Winter blankets us with the glow and sparkle of her first snow, so all these small changes are the beautiful dance, that when savoured, allows us to experience change and growth and loss and release in such profoundly beautiful ways.

And it also reminded me of the Omar Khayyam quote that I love so dearly:

“Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life.”

I hope that if Spring hasn’t yet sprung where you are that you will be basking in the warmth and sunshine soon! And in the meantime, may we all savour the moment in front of us so that when the time comes we are able to make room for the next season with joy and grace and open arms!

With Love,

Magdalena


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Snow Day!

Snow Days, real honest to goodness snow days, with heaps of snow and air so cold you can see your breath, and most of the city shut down (perhaps even most of the State in our case) don’t happen here often.  So when they do, we celebrate them!  And take lots of photos.  In fact, when we weren’t playing outside ourselves, we were relishing and soaking in the photos of all of our friends and loved ones also playing in the snow around town and around Texas.  And indeed, in all the other parts of the South where snow comes knocking only occasionally and is thus met with shouts of rejoicing and the clamoring of children to throw on their coats and boots and hats as quickly as possible at the risk of missing their chance to build snowmen and throw snowballs.

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Snow in Texas has been on the wishlist of probably half the children I know for months and today a good number of them got their wish.  Our two munchkins were no exception!  The anticipation of the snow kept everyone awake way past any decent bedtime, so I let them sleep in and spent some time on my own quietly relishing the beauty of freshly fallen snow on a January morning.  It was absolutely what a snow loving, Texas dwelling Northerner needed today!

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And with this deep arctic chill that we seem to be caught in this year, for the first time that I can remember in my nearly thirteen years in Texas, the snow did not melt away by noon or end of day!  The mercury was decidedly set on not rising above freezing all day and it’s no exaggeration to say, baby it’s cold outside, with temperatures hovering at the 15F (-12C) mark!  Brrrr!!

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This snow day has now manifest into a second “snow day.”  Though without more snow accumulation, it is simply a chance for Texans to let the mess on the streets clear.  With weather events like this one coming rarely, we lack the proper infrastructure for clearing roads like they do in other parts of the country where snow and ice are dealt with swiftly and cold temperatures are no excuse for missing school or work.

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And maybe that’s why we love our snow days so much, because they allow us the room to pause, to play, to relish and soak in the beauty of it all while we can … because believe me by February we will all be plotting out our Spring gardens and no doubt,  back in flipflops and shorts.  Just kidding, there will likely be shorts as of the weekend, short sleeves at the very least!

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In the meantime, snuggle up friends, stay warm, drink hot chocolate or warm tea, eat warm soup or chili or chowder or stew, read good books, play games and cherish the moment!

Warmly,

Magdalena