"It doesn't happen all at once. You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand." - Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit
I spend a lot of time thinking about "becoming." Becoming a better daughter, girlfriend, sister, friend. Becoming a better cook, writer, blogger. Becoming something more, something better, something that will make me look back and think, "I'm glad that stage is over." This can be a blessing and a curse - lots of big dreams, but not always the ability to live in the moment and appreciate the in between. And this life, really? It's all about the in between.
I don't have a lot of things figured out. My "career plan" changes on a weekly basis. There never seems to be enough time to spend each day doing things that make me happy. I often plan out my days so that it is impossible to finish everything I set out to accomplish, and then I beat myself up for not doing it all. I procrastinate, at work and at home, and end up paying for it later.
But I'm working on it. Working on being gentle with myself. On looking around in my life, my world, and appreciating all of those who are in it. Because this life is something else. It is nothing to be taken lightly. Living in the moment (or trying to) brings it all into focus. I started taking "gratitude walks" every day (going on three days strong, thanks for the idea, Jenn!) and have allowed myself to wander around, with Percy and sometimes Ryan, and just be in awe of everything around me. It has been adding so much value to my day, so much good, quality time. Sure, I have had to sacrifice other areas, but that is something I was willing to do to start feeling this way again.
I read this quote recently. It went something like, "You can live your life as if nothing is a miracle, or you can live your life as if everything is a miracle." I don't know about you, but a world full of miracles sounds like a place I want to be.
An example of a little thing that has been brightening my days recently: Rhubarb-Mint Iced Tea. Oh my word, this is a good thing. I made a double batch of Ashley Rodriguez's rhubarb syrup a couple weeks ago, and needed to use up the rest of it. I was about to make a batch of regular iced tea when the thought of rhubarb-flavored tea popped into my head. With lemons! And fresh mint leaves! This just has to end well.
And it did. I made a large batch of this (3 quarts), because I am somewhat of an iced tea fanatic. There was never a time growing up when we didn't have a pitcher of freshly-brewed iced tea at the ready. It's something that my high school friends still request from my mom every time I come home to visit. (Speaking of mom's, Happy Mother's Day to all of you mothers out there! Especially mine - I'm biased, but I have never known a more generous, loving, caring, hilarious, and all-around lovely woman.)
Rhubarb-Mint Iced Tea
3 large tea bags (I used this version, but you use however many you need to make 3 quarts)
6 cups water
1 cup rhubarb syrup
6 cups ice cubes
2 lemons, plus more for garnish
Handful fresh mint leaves, plus more for garnish
Bring the 6 cups of water to a boil. Place tea bags in a large pitcher, and pour hot water over them. Steep for 3-5 minutes. Remove and discard tea bags. Stir in the rhubarb syrup. Add ice cubes, and the juice of both lemons. Add the mint leaves, and stir, making sure to grind the mint leaves up against the side of the pitcher, releasing more of the flavor.
Serve over ice with a lemon wedge and a few mint leaves.