And it continues to beat around in my head as I resume the role of head chef. And of dishwasher. The volume gets turned up as my half unpacked suitcase stares at me with its content of clothes begging to be put back in their rightful place.
It gets even louder as I walk past the piles of laundry in the hallway that somehow seem to have taken on yeast like qualities because they keep rising and rising, even as we speak.
Holiday Decoration Etiquette: It is perfectly acceptable to still have Christmas decorations on display up to a month after the blessed day. If of course you spent the last three weeks far, far away from your home.
I'm running on a caffeine IV pumping through my vein. And wishing I could get me one of these to fight the evil ways of the jet lag.
Dirty caramel chai latte with extra foam made by my fave local coffee shop, Ike's. I pretty much lived there in college. That's some good stuff right there.
Not so good stuff? Having to leave my Dad the other morning.
We had red eyes and tear stained faces so we weren't lookin' our finest, but we captured the moment nevertheless because it was precious.
Why must the time always go by so fast??? It was a thousand times harder leaving this time than it was when I left for college. Or when I moved to another state for work. Or even when I moved away to Germany.
Usually I am ready to get back to the normalcy of the life that Luis and I have been blessed to establish here. I absolutely love, love love going home. I love the time with my family. Catching up with old friends. Shopping at Target. Eating at all my favorite places. Loading up my suitcase with as much stuff that I miss as possible to get me through to our next visit.
(Read: pita chips, make up, gum, cooking mags, this special granola from Safeway that Luis loves, and so much more.)
But usually by the end, I'm exhausted from all the excitement and am ready for the mundane.
There's something to be said for routine, for the regular ol' every day life. The familiar is a welcomed friend after whirlwind trips home.
But this time, that desire for calm was replaced with the regret that I don't allow for more calm when I'm home.
If there's anything that my eyes have been open to this past year it's that I need to do a better job of savoring every minute of life.
To breathe in the beauty that surrounds me.
The beauty of family, who drops everything they are doing and drives a whole bunch of miles to be there, together, when the unexpected moments of life alter the paths we so carefully mapped out for our lives.
And of a husband who, even though he seems to always make weird faces in our family pics, he fills my life with so much joy I fear sometimes I might burst.
Of parents who are still so, so in love and committed to serving one another, for better for worse, in sickness and in health.
Of a sister who extends me grace each and every day for all the times that I was not the kindest or the most loving to her growing up.
Of friends who I have had the gift of knowing since we were much, much younger than we are now, and the joy of getting to see their own lives unfold into the adventures of Italian pastry schools and the beauty of motherhood.
Of amazing Arizona skies painted with vibrant colors that I took for granted for so long until I realized, not everyone in the world got to grow up underneath a canopy of endless deep blue, 350 days of sunshine and purple and orange sunsets. Now I soak every ray of sun I can and stand amazed every time I walk outside at the beauty of the desert.
Cancer, (read here and here if you're wondering why I'm suddenly talkin' 'bout cancer) as ugly as it is, has a way of gently reminding one to savor every minute of life, because each minute we have is a gift, not a guarantee.
And while I, yet again, left home with the feeling that I spent more time running from place to place, thinking of all that I had yet to do, people I had yet to see, things I had to yet to buy that I can't get in Germany and just can't seem to do without (no, I cannot live without chocolate chips, it just can't be done), rather than living in the moment, savoring the here and now, I'm committed to change it with each opportunity I'm given.
And I can start by implementing it now, amidst the piles of laundry invading our home and all the other "to dos" that I have allowed to sit comfortably atop my priority list, surpassing the things that really do deserve to consume my time and my thoughts: God, Luis, family, friends, people.
And so, I'm on the hunt for ways I can better manage the "have tos", so that I can better enjoy and savor the "want tos".
Here are some ideas I have so far:
- Less loads of laundry done on more days of the week--instead of allowing the giant monster pile to eat up an entire day, I'm gonna work to do a load every few days to free up time and eliminate stress. (Okay, I stole this idea from this gorgeous gal over here.)
- More freezer meals! Devote one day a month to massive amounts of cooking so that on busier days I can just pop something out to thaw rather than worry about getting to the grocery store, getting a meal on the table and then facing the sink of dishes afterwards.
- Declutter, declutter, declutter. This one will be hard for me. Ask my mother. I killed her with my clutter growing up. :)
- When things don't get done, don't stress. Plain and simple. I'm not superwoman, nor will I ever be. I can only do the best I can, with the time I have and I need to learn to be content with that.
And add this "have to" to your list today: have a great rest of the weekend!