Friday, October 10, 2014

When Windows is your biggest window

The first 8 years of my marriage were lived out in rentals, mostly apartment rentals. There was one little colonial house with a frosty basement and pokey stairs, the kind you trip down when pregnant. Being home with kids in apartments in a one-car family situation, I often felt like a shut-in. It was a good day if I took my tinies to the park, their recreation center classes, or on a nature walk. We did a lot of fun things INSIDE, but my anxiety over handling the dangers of California roads/traffic, strangers, and wild-kids-who-don't-listen often kept me inside.

Feeling cut off from the world by my circumstances, I reached out to the online community to socialize with distant family, stay abreast of the news, and cultivate my writing talent. I found so much support, plenty of avenues for stretching out as a person. I wouldn't say it was a limiting experience, but I wouldn't call it rich, either. Truth be told, I spent too much time on the computer, whether writing, reading for others, blogging, or perusing the news.

When we moved recently and bought our first house, in the country of all places, something changed pretty drastically. I had WINDOWS! Lots of them, facing the light and the mountains and the sight of my kids playing in the backyard! Suddenly I spent less time on the computer. Feeling safer in our little community, I ventured out more, joined a co-op, discovered the library programs, and put my kids in swimming lessons. I talked to people face to face. At first it was scary, coming out of my protective shell. I worried about saying the wrong thing (common for me), losing one of my wayward children, or damaging public property (I have all boys). With some early successes, I felt encouraged, and just plain got out more! About this time, my husband and I got smart phones, which let us have our "Windows away from Windows," so to speak. I could check my email, communicate with distant family, read books via the kindle app, and do flashcards with my kids, all away from the computer. (Of all the inventions that have helped stay-at-home moms--the vacuum, the blender, the crock pot, the sticky note--the smart phone may have been the most liberating for me personally.)

When I approach writing today, as a liberated person, I don't do it feverishly or constantly. I do it purposefully. In fact, everything I do these days is done on purpose. I feel freer to act rather than to be acted upon.

And though I write less than I did before, I believe what I do write has a richness that was missing before. Maybe let's call it SUNLIGHT.

Please share your own experiences in the comments. Each path is so richly different, and this has only been mine.

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