The Force

As mentioned in my previous post, I have been visited by my bitter sweet friend, Nostalgia this holiday season. Well folks, it’s safe to say she’s overstaying her welcome in a big way. She was front and center with Harrison and I as we went to see the latest Star Wars movie, The Last Jedi. (Warning: there is spoiler information about the movie if you continue reading)

Harrison and I have always been huge Star Wars fans and I’ve done my best to educate him on all things; Luke, Han, Yoda, Vader and The Force. To give you a little background, I’m a 47-year-old woman that grew up in the era of the original movie trilogy: Star Wars, Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. If I’m honest, my love of sci-fi and all things Star Wars was influenced by my oldest brother, Trainor. When the original Star Wars was released in 1980, my family saw the movie at-least to ten times to appease my brother. It was no joke, in my childhood home saying, “May the force be with you” was matched only by “Live long and prosper”. Suffice to say, we were official sci-fi junkies.

As I entered the theatre I could feel the nostalgic pangs begin, she was right there next to me wistfully pulling me into the comfort of the past. Yet, as the movie begins I realize we are in for something different. The Last Jedi starts out where The Force Awakens left off- Rey finds Luke cloaked and disheveled on a deserted island – she gallantly hands him his mythic light saber only to see him dismissively toss it away as if he were ridding himself of any remaining memories of his past. It’s here when it hit me. This movie will not be about remaining in the comfort and safety of the past; it’s about embracing the uncertainty of the future. Hmm… this seems to be my theme of late.

Letting go of the past is in fact the major theme of the movie, and this series is following suit by shifting focus to the new generation and encouraging older fans (me) to let go and embrace what’s next. I have to admit as a Star Wars junkie I’m conflicted. I tend to get hung up on the earlier characters, symbols and story lines. I find myself wanting more of my old friends – R2-D2, Chewie, Yoda, Luke etc… Who wouldn’t? It feels comforting, safe, familiar. I’m still not fully recovered from the fictional death of Han Solo in The Force Awakens, nor can I wrap my heart and brain around the tragic real-life loss of Carrie Fisher. As I watched her perform her final appearance as Princess Leia, I fought back tears fully aware of the fragility of life and nothing truly lasts forever. And, to make matters worse, as soon as the movie delivered the nostalgia I was so longing for, it would cruelly yank it back as if to say, ‘Elaine, stay focused on what lies ahead’. The Yoda scene, for example, nimbly side-steps the nostalgia swamp by having Yoda advocate for moving on from the past. “We are,” he says, “what they grow beyond.” He might as well have been an older Star Wars fan talking about the new. After that scene, Harrison looked over at me as if to know I would be emotional. A Yoda appearance is almost too much to bear. Tears were shed as I started to truly get the message.

Yet, while it’s always tough putting away the old toys, the thing is, the new ones are pretty cool, too. As we watch our children’s shelves fill up with the new faces of Rey, Finn and BB-8 we can find comfort in knowing Leia, Han and Luke sparked their creation. The movie was a gateway for me- it’s propelling me forward into 2018 with a new sense of what must happen. It allowed me to grieve the past, grieve change, grieve the idea that things don’t and most certainly won’t stay the same, yet it inspired me too. Just as Harrison must embark on his new life journey of entering college, I too must embrace what’s next for me. When we view nostalgia as something we can shape or renew, we’re empowered to evolve the past into something richer, something that invites us to embrace the creativity and innovation of what’s next.

Goodbye Nostalgia… I’ll look forward to our next visit. Next time let’s not spend too much time fretting over days past, for it’s in the present where we can become safely lost in a galaxy far, far away…

May the force be with you in 2018.

XOXO,

Elaine

The Holiday Guest.

We have a new guest staying with us for the holiday this year. Her name is Nostalgia and she is making quite the impression on my family. With my son in his senior year of high school, we are experiencing a year of lasts when it seems our year of firsts was not that long ago. We’ve unboxed a Christmas tree and delicate glass ornaments with kids for seventeen years but this time each ornament we pulled out felt heavier and heavier. Laden with emotion and memories, these delicate ornaments sprinkled around our tree felt like a time capsule that I wasn’t quite ready to open.

The last few years feel like they have been spent with our gear stuck in warp speed. Like most people, we are just trying to keep up with the crazy life that we have built. So much so, that the last handful of holidays have slipped right by. We have had a few holidays over the last several years where I couldn’t even commit to fully decorating our home. The Snow Village stayed in a box in the garage, and we hung just enough ornaments to keep our tree from looking like an overgrown house plant. But this year is different, and not just for me.

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As we were pulling out the boxes of Christmas decorations that we have accumulated over the years of turning our house into a Turner Winter Wonderland, Harrison seemed to be the most helpful- the most engaged in decorating our home. Anyone with a seventeen year old boy knows if he is taking time away from his friends, girlfriend, (and let’s be honest) Whataburger that this is something he truly cares about. He dusted off the Snow Village box and took the time to precisely place each piece to create the most magical scene.

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I watched Harrison all afternoon as we decorated, and with everything he picked up he spent a few extra moments looking at it as if he was wistfully remembering something. Every ornament was hung with precise movement and care. The memories collected over the years were hanging off delicate limbs and glowing with the warmth of twinkle lights. We all stood back as a family and looked at a tree that represents so much more this holiday; it represents a life that we have built together, moments shared as a family of four. It represents cherished places, sports teams, and the little hands of homemade masterpieces. It represents magic.

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This might be our most emotional Christmas yet. Putting away the decorations will be a teary eyed task, but I’m reminding myself that while this might be a year of lasts, there is a wave of firsts on the horizon. Our family dynamic may change as Harrison packs his bags and heads off to college, but the heart of our family is only growing.

Next year we will have a new ornament hanging from our tree- Harrison’s college team. And, I can’t wait for him to come home in December and be the one who hangs it.

 

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I wish you peace and happiness this holiday season. I hope it’s a time of embracing the blessings of the present, wistfully reminiscing in the meaningful moments of the past, and keeping your eyes and heart on the hope of what’s yet to come.

 

XOXO,

Elaine

(See some of my favorite memories below!)

An Inspired Holiday.

 

As any of my friends and family might tell you, I’m not a chef, nor do I have the desire to be one. With that said, I wholeheartedly love Thanksgiving. I love the warmth that comes with the holiday, and the spirit behind spending the day together. I love pulling out my favorite china and indulging in a lengthy meal. I love creating a space for my family to come together and enjoy the blessings we have. While I might only bring a cheese ball to the table, I bring a lot to the atmosphere.

 

With so much noise and chaos this year, I wanted to keep the atmosphere crisp and simple. Black, white and gold with fresh touches of green and orange define the space with a Hollywood Regency flair. I also wanted the space to be interactive and playful, so I set out a chalkboard runner and place cards for taking note of our thanks.

 

As much as I love design for the aesthetic appeal, I truly believe that design plays a role in our lives and can speak a message that you might not have the words for. After mulling over this year’s holiday inspiration, I’ve come to realize my heart is seeking to simplify my life and let the people around me add color. We so often take moments with our loved ones for granted, especially the small moments.  My son is going off to college next year and while I’ve joked about wanting to push him out of the nest, the truth is, these moments together are fleeting. The week night conversations about school, the group of 30 kids staggered across my lawn taking homecoming pictures, the lacrosse games- they all seem to be moving at lightning speed. I wish I could bottle these moments like lightening bugs and keep them on my shelf to pull down whenever I want- but I can’t. Time will continue to pass and my son’s graduation will approach without so much as a warning. So, this year I’m thankful for moments of mindfulness. Humble moments and monumental moments- I’m thankful for them all.

I’ll leave you with one of my favorite poems, from John O’Donohue:

Awaken to the mystery of being here
and enter the quiet immensity of your own
presence.

Have joy and peace in the temple of your
senses.

Receive encouragement when new frontiers
beckon.

Respond to the call of your gift and the
courage to follow it’s path.

Let the flame of anger free you of all falsity.

May warmth of heart keep your presence aflame.

May anxiety never linger about you.

May your outer dignity mirror an inner dignty of soul.

Take time to celebrate the quiete miracles
that seek not attention.

Be consoled in the secret symmetry of your soul.

May you experience each day as a sacred gift
woven
around the heart of wonder.

Happy Thanksgiving!

XO, Elaine