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Yarralumla
Australia

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Drops of marvelous

Anne Waddoups

Hi there, intrepid readers. (I'm imagining that if you are reading this it's because you've been hanging in there with me for a long time. I love you for that.) It's been a while since I really nestled in here on ye olde Basic Joy but recently I find myself longing for it more and more. I'm emerging from what I can only describe as a long winter's nap that extended for several seasons, a lengthy case of the dark brown doldrums that have had me feeling both adrift and dampened. I'll write more about that another time but suffice it to say that I'm beginning to see the world sparkle again and feel like I've had my inner windows cleaned and my voice re-tuned.

And, oh, I'm in love with blogging again. Still.  I spent last night wandering through many of my favorite spots in the blogging neighborhood, savoring and grinning at the posts of so many exquisite writers I have come to know and love through this medium. This isn't to say I haven't been blogging; I've been staying (relatively) regular in posting over on Nest & Launch with Sarah and I love it there. (Do come see us!) I just want to say I'm back in the game over here, too. And it feels good.

A couple of I'm-back party favors to send you off into your life today:

- First, you might already know that I am such a Maira Kalman fan. Her creative good humor and delight with the world consistently inspire me to abandon the judgy, perfectionist little gremlins that look over my shoulder and lounge in my head making snide comments at my creative attempts. Off with you, sneering gremlins. You're welcome round here no more. More Maira Kalman, please.

Pull up a chair and enjoy a little Maira. It's on the house.

How much do I wish I had been able to see her in that Mizrahi production of Peter & the Wolf last December at the Guggenheim in NYC?! So much. I die.

- This next one I found by clicking a post and falling down the Facebook rabbit hole. It's the mission farewell talk of (I think) the niece of someone G knew on his mission (Hi Kirsti!)  I was terrifically impressed with her thoughts; she's my kind of gal. The first thing I want to do when that happens is share it. I sent it along to Lauren on her mission but maybe you'll love it, too:

The Gospel of Abundance: Home, Church, and Global Siblinghood 

Year 10 Expedition

Anne Waddoups

S's school (and, really, very many of the schools here in Australia) has a terrific outdoor/leadership education component. Each year from Year Five to Ten the students take increasingly rigorous (and increasingly longer-away-from-home) camping expeditions with their class, culminating in Year 10 with a 10-day trek into the bush for some camping, caving, hiking, river crossing, kayaking, rappelling, and a fair dose of team building/leadership exercises. Here's a little glimpse of Sam's expedition this year from back in May, our mid-autumn. If you're watching carefully you can spy him a few times throughout and at one very obvious spot towards the end.

Sunshine Coast

Anne Waddoups

Four days for winter school holidays in Noosa, Sunshine Coast

- Noosa National Park, Coastal Track hike

- Modern cottage in the treetops in Noosa: "The Shack" (Rental info here.)

We had a bit of an adventure when we accidentally hiked onto a secluded nude beach for our picnic lunch (apparently exclusively for very old very tan old hippy men.) Oh well--it was a wildlife preserve, after all. They might've been a bit more forthcoming in the pamphlet, though.

Also: we star gazed, ate good food, hiked a lot, and slept in. G got up and brought us bakery breakfasts in the mornings. We watched the World Cup and Master Chef and read books every evening with the gas fireplace going strong.

For later

Anne Waddoups

Last week we watched Mr. Holland's Opus together as a family. We are gradually making our way through a long list of movies we want to show the kids--feel good family films, heavy thinky classics and everything in between. (I think you know which end of the spectrum Mr. Holland and his opus sits, good though it is.) 

Anyway, in the movie Mr. Holland attends the funeral of one of his students who has been killed in the Vietnam War.

Maddy: "You know what I want at my funeral? A flag draped on my coffin." 

[We watch a little more.}

"Oh, wow. Wouldn't it be amazing to have a seven gun salute. It's so patriotic." 

[We discuss various ways that one can have a flag-draped coffin and a seven gun salute at your funeral. Military service. Politics. Foreign service, maybe?]

After a couple of beats, Maddy pipes up again: "Of course this is all after someone sings "I Will Always Love You" at the funeral."

. . .

All righty, then. So noted.

Everything's hard until it becomes easy

Anne Waddoups

Hello, anybody there? I've been lax in my posting here lately and I miss it! I always enjoyed my friend Michelle's posts to her missionary son so I think I'll do a bit of that here occasionally, hoping to keep up with a record of our doings and thoughts and not forget our days here. 

Dear Lauren girl,

Hi! How are you? Did you finally get our Valentine package(s)? I kept getting notifications that the things were shipping separately and then delayed because of the weather. I was thinking it was going to be the most anti-climatic experience opening an Amazon box and revealing....just a Reese's chocolate heart inside, haha. But hopefully you got everything and had a lovely week. I saw that you (or at least the state of Georgia) had snow and ice and earthquakes (oh, my!) this week. You're in quite the hot spot! 

I'm sure you're feeling a different kind of L O V E this Valentines week and understanding it in new ways. I think I mentioned I've been really trying to use love as a very real solution to little things (and big); when I'm irritated or afraid or down, trying to identify the reason, trying to actually and physically soften my heart, and then replacing those negative feelings with love is so powerful. Really really difficult but powerful. And I've noticed how many of those irritations come from my own insecurity and fear. (How fascinating! as dad would say.)

For instance, we did New Beginnings combined with another ward this year. Before I left for Christmas, we exchanged emails about possible ideas for themes for the night and then agreed to get together to plan it out when we all got back from holiday. When I was on my layover flying back, I got an email from the other ward: they had met and decided our theme! My first reaction was irritation--um what about the plan?! Was I going to be left utterly out of decision making?! (And you probably know I really like plans and control, haha). But I couldn't email back right then so I had the long plane ride to think about it. By the time I got to Australia, I decided to try to switch out my negative response with love.

First of all, they had done a lot of work. They didn't mean to step on any toes; they were trying to help and were probably feeling the crunch of time while I was out of town enjoying the holidays. Also this really wasn't about me (though admittedly my initial response was only about me)--this was about putting together a lovely evening for the girls. And--bonus--now we didn't have to worry about that first decision and we could go on to the next stage of prep. I saw that I could decide to love them for all of that and forget about the irritation. [And let me be clear, the irritation was my business, not their fault! They had done the right thing, I just needed to catch up to understanding that.] As it eventually unfolded, the NB night went really, really well. I'm glad I didn't email back right away with righteous indignation because it would have really colored the way we worked together for the rest of it. A totally silly example but it's all in the small moments where I'm getting practice with this love experiment. 

We had a good week here. I had a really productive phone meeting with two of my dissertation advisors and am feeling so on track and excited to keep going. I will need to fly to Boston at the end of March to have an in-person meeting with my committee and then do a whole lot more work--coding and writing-- but I'm trying to treat it like a semi-full-time job and just put in the time every day. Some days it works better than others but you know how that goes.

We had stake conference to re-organize the stake.  It was all good but I especially LOVED Saturday's session of stake conference; the talks were really fantastic and motivating. I love those kind of spiritual vitamin boosts. One visiting leader talked about missionary work and this statement stuck with me: "I know it's hard. But everything's hard until it becomes easy." I'm hoping you're beginning to see some of the easy(easier) side of things. 

Maddy went to Melbourne over the weekend (she'll probably tell you about that herself) for a youth leadership conference for an anti-poverty advocacy group. (It'll be part of her IB community service project and you know how Maddy loves a good civic leadership cause.) She flew there with one of her friends from school and the conference put everyone up in a hostel during the three-day training bootcamp. She had a grand time. We were driving home from the airport and noticed this fantastic combined rainbow and sunset so I had to pull over to take a picture (of course). It really deserved a standing ovation, don't you think?

sunset rainbow.jpg

Things I love right now: love, YOU, Dad, Maddy, Sam, all-other-family-members, blue sky, bright pink lipstick, dresses, air conditioning, yellow flowers on my desk, reading, edamame (for snacking), sparkling water with lime (gave up diet coke, mostly), blue and white together, goofy kangaroos boxing each other, morning sunrise walks, Sam's very deep voice (he spoke in church last week and it struck me (a) how low his voice is and (b) that he has a bit of an Aussie lilt in his public speaking), creative + authentic people.

Love you dearly,
Mom