"What is that nifty little thing? Did you make it?"
"I did indeed," replied Charlotte in a weak voice.
"Is it a plaything?"
"Plaything? I should say not. It is my egg sac, my magnum opus."
"I don't know what a magnum opus is," said Wilbur.
"That's Latin," explained Charlotte. "It means 'great work.' This egg sac is my great work- the finest thing I have ever made."
-- Charlotte's Web, E.B. White
There once was a wise, gentle spider who did great things. Miraculous things, like spinning pronouns into a web, eventually bringing great notoriety to her barnyard and saving her friend from becoming bacon. Funny thing is, by the end of this children's classic dedicated to Charlotte's magical feat that no spider has ever done before and will probably never do in the future, she admits she has created a work of art even greater. Her magnum opus: her children.
I guess you could say I've spun words into webs myself, given my profession. Probably no life-saving miracle words like Charlotte, but I suppose not the kind of garbage Templeton rips from a box of soap flakes, either. And like that sweet spider, the finest things I have ever made are my two daughters.
Art takes many forms -- sculpture, architecture, music, fashion. Not all great creators will paint on the canvas of parenthood. And plenty of geniuses (Michelangelo, da Vinci, Picasso) have made masterpieces across multiple disciplines. It's just, for me, motherhood is my medium of choice.
Simply, I love being a mom. In The Success Principles: How to Get From Where You Are to Where You Want to Be, inspirational author Jack Canfield guides people to fulfilling their destiny, using the stories of those who have made millions of dollars or landed their dream home or finally bought a yacht or lost double-digit pounds. As I read it now, all I can think about is how my great dream, where I really want to be, the picture of my ultimate life, my grandest achievement, is standing beside -- no, embracing -- a beautiful, wholesome, smart, happy, unified, strong family. That's my vision of success.
After all, in the Passion chapter, Canfield says: "No doubt you know or have met people who are passionate about life and enthusiastic about their work. They can't wait to get up in the morning and get started. They are eager and energetic. They are filled with purpose and totally committed to their mission. This kind of passion comes from loving and enjoying your work. It comes from doing what you were born to do. It comes from following your heart and trusting joy as a guide. Enthusiasm and passion come as a result of caring about what you do. If you love your work, if you enjoy it, you're already a success."
I'm committed to being an elite network news producer. I aim to be a great friend, a fine designer, an exceptional sister and a decent baker. By admitting motherhood is my most beautiful work, I'm not suggesting other areas of my life are not important, too. Motherhood is not a distraction; it is like a highlighter to the pages of my biography, adding color and brightness to all I do.
Laundry is lame, ear infections are evil, and grocery store tantrums stink. so. super. bad. I have hard days. I've been exhausted for nearly six years straight. Still, watching my children master a new skill or demonstrate kindness even when it is difficult or ask to read the same book over and over at bedtime -- those are like beautiful brush strokes to me.
I may not master my craft. I doubt I'll win a special award at the county fair. There's no gallery in Manhattan that will hang my work on a blank white wall. But maybe, hopefully, a few people will see that I have discovered what I love, followed my passion and created something I am proud of.
Wednesday, January 4, 2012
The tradition of celebrating the New Year at the cabin has become pretty tender to us. We love "escaping" to the quiet simplicity of nature in the wintertime. As in years past, the girls spent much of their free time being free -- playing out in the snow, building puzzles, watching old Disney flicks, playing kitchen, working on craft projects. Michael built a fire every day. I practiced new recipes.
We intended on a brief trip, but discovered a leak that required a full day's work from Michael and a long drive to the nearest town for hardware supplies, so we were stuck an extra day and night and portion of the following day. We made the most of our trek to town; I made an irreverent obstacle course of construction cones for the girls in Lowe's while Daddy hunted in the plumbing aisle, and we purchased a sled. On the winding roads back to the cabin, we stopped to snap a real live bald eagle not twenty yards from us.
We made a simple little party of New Year's Eve (note to self: next year, remember the sparkling cider and party hats/blowers), eating homemade cheese pizza while we each recorded 3 goals and 3 predictions for 2012 and reflected on the goals and predictions of previous years. This has become a routine we really look forward to.
With the three goals, I usually choose one New Year's Resolution as my focus. I keep this resolution simple, with a delicate balance of intense personal stretching and the potential that I might actually do it. I also want it to become a life habit, not just a year-long affair that gets dumped when Dick Clark's next broadcast comes back around. Last year's goal to ride in Little Red was completely thwarted because the race sold out in moments, so I'm bummed about that one, but that was out of my human control.
A few months ago, inspired to learn more from the man who married us, Elder Joe J. Christensen, I came upon one of his BYU addresses called Resolutions. Wow, so good. I have read it about eight times. I'm also re-reading The Success Principles by Jack Canfield, and though it has one or two suggestions that don't fit with my personality, nearly every page has some choice ideas for improving myself and my station for the most noble of purposes.
This year, I chose as a New Year's Resolution to adopt an old adage. Seriously considered "An Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away," but finally committed to:
Early to bed and early to rise makes a (wo)man healthy, wealthy and wise.
By someone's calculations on the almighty Facebook, if I wake up just a half hour earlier each day, I'll have 7 1/2 extra waking days in 2012. I'm willing to give that a shot. I figure with better sleep, I'll be more productive, organized and fit. Happy, too. Well, not at the moment my new alarm goes off. After that.