Becca Wilhite Blog

May 2, 2017

Found

Filed under: emotion,familyness,food,writing — becca @ 10:08 pm

I was looking for a thing in my “writerly things” file. I came across a pile of essays. Here’s one from what must be 8 years ago. There are more. I may unearth another soon.

___

When my kids were small, hours were eternal. And there were so many of them in a day. It was impossible to find an activity that could adequately fill one without driving me to lunacy or complete physical exhaustion.

Years passed, full of those ceaseless, relentless hours.

What happened, then? When did the space-time continuum shift? Why is it that now, hours are scarce, precious, and all too short? Time, that monster that used to hover over me, huffing out the moments like hot breath, has disappeared, been replaced by a frantically-ticking clock, spinning seconds into hours, into weeks and years.

These days, it’s my most important work to wrangle that clock into submission and slow down one hour a day. Keep my finger on the second hand so it won’t get out of control and run away with my family’s moments.

A few minutes of that hour happen in the morning, when groggy, bed-head kids and half-primped teens and at least one sweaty, post-work-out parent (the other parent may have abandoned the work out ritual, again) meet at the kitchen table for scripture study. It’s one time in a day that I’m grateful that school is in session. The forced schedule kick-starts our morning motivation. Even through the yawning, the paper-scorching morning breath, and the zoning out, the words get spoken aloud. And we pray together, and I pray in my heart. I pray for the sinking in. I pray for the application. I pray they’ll remember the sweet moments here, not the other kind.

The rest of the wrangled minutes come at the other end of the day. Back around the table, in what have become “our spots,” we gather for dinner. It’s my one consistent offering. We don’t do fancy. We don’t even always do tasty. I’m no Julia Child. I can’t even spell “gourmet” without looking it up. My kids didn’t know meat came on bones until I accidentally introduced them to KFC. Now they think of The Colonel as a kindly uncle who stops by once a year to clog our arteries.

Dinner is simple around here. I don’t mean easy – give me credit, please. I mean unadorned. And while I try to feed these people healthy meals full of green and growing things, that’s not even the most important part for me. The nourishing I aim for is the other kind. These minutes, the ones carved out of every evening, stolen from work schedules and rehearsals and practices and play time, these minutes hold the moments.

At the table, between passing the white salad dressing to that kid and the pink salad dressing to this kid, we hear the stories that make up the missing hours of the days. We hear the giddy stories about the boy who almost said the most charming thing. We hear the angsty stories about the friend who is, if not actively in trouble, heading that way. We hear the hilarious stories that don’t translate to any place but that table. Sorry. You had to be there. We hear the frustrating, the exciting, the proud-making stories. We hear and we tell the stories of the other parts of our lives.

And in sharing the stories, we recapture a few of those spinning moments. Every day, a few minutes at a time.

 

January 4, 2017

The Importance of Unimportant Things

Filed under: familyness,lists,musings — becca @ 10:50 am

As I approached the end of a couple of weeks of blessed school vacations, when the most I had to accomplish in a day was to drive a kid to the skating rink or wash a load of clothes, I started thinking about what I’d need to do every day once school restarted and I went back to work every day.

It was a lot of thinking.

About a bunch of unimportant things.

So I started listing out, in my mind, what the things were that I absolutely needed to do every day. I was a little surprised at what my mind came up with.

sleep
eat
drink water
exercise
brush and floss
work
make meals
create something
worship
meditate
show love

Really? That’s not too bad.

sleep – I’m acually really good at this one. I feel strongly about it for me and for everyone. I’m a little bossy about it for my kids, and they roll their eyes at me and say, “Yes, Mother.” Then they stay up late and make memories and I am okay with it.
eat – This is a lifelong battle of dependence, desire, and moderation. I’m getting there.
drink water – I’m pretty good at this, too, but teaching puts some limits on when and how often and how much. But I believe in it, and I like it. So I do it.
exercise – If the FitBit doesn’t read 10,000 steps by bedtime, I’m not doing the job so well. But I generally feel the need for more than that. I like it. I like to walk. I feel good about it. I live in the prettiest place ever. And I think it’s time to stop making excuses about my knees and my shape and just go do some more vigorous kinds of working out. It doesn’t have to take a whole lot of time. But I want to be strong.
brush and floss – Right? RIGHT? But hey – it’s minutes out of the day, so it goes on the list.
work – I usually show up at 7 and come home between 3:30 and 4. I do my best to get all the things that need to be done inside work hours. I rarely bring it home. I am well aware that makes me a less amazing teacher than those who spend all the hours doing all the work. I’m okay with that.
make meals – Most of the people in my house are capable of this one, but since I buy the foods, I should be the one to prepare them. It makes sense.
create something – When this one appeared on the list, I felt a little surprise. I kind of love that this dropped into my mind. What shows that my little life is full of meaning? Often it’s the things I create. Even if they disappear right after I make them. Do you know Buddha Board? It’s an exercise in creating and then letting go. Kind of like making dinner. But more beautiful. Sometimes.
worship –  I make time every day for praying and studying. It matters to me. Sometimes as insurance, sometimes as joy-making.
meditate – This is one I am trying to improve. I have a brilliant friend who has a lovely, thorough, and meaningful meditation practice. I want to combine some of that with daily yoga – for balance and strength.
show love – I need time in every day to show the people I love that I value them. I fear this is the one that most likely gets bumped to the last available minutes, when a quick conversation has to replace quality heart-sharing. I don’t want that. I want to do better.

As it turns out, all those seemingly unimportant things are actually pretty crucial parts of my world. I seek to elevate them (yeah, even the flossing) to levels of “This brings me joy and strength.” That’s the plan.

October 12, 2015

Making the Time

Filed under: character,familyness,gratitude,writing — becca @ 6:43 am

I’ve been learning. Studying about creativity at the feet of those who make it their mission to permit the rest of us to drink at the wells of creation. It’s a seriously joyful experience. (Want to try it? Watch Elizabeth Gilbert’s remarkable TED talk, here. Listen to her “Big Magic” podcast. Immerse yourself in all that is Brene Brown.)

Here’s a thing that struck me this week. And I’m paraphrasing – so these are not original thoughts, but they are my words: That painting that astounds me went onto the canvas one brushstroke after another. The book I love was written one hour at a time. The song I can’t get out of my head was composed over a series of stolen hours.

I have hours. Maybe not more than one in a row that I can dedicate to creative pursuits, but one hour at a time, I can write a novel. And I have. And I am. The words don’t pour out of me resulting in a workable draft in a week or two (but hey, if that works for you WAY TO GO). The words trickle. They pile up slowly. But the point is, they do pile up. Day after day, when I give myself permission to sit at my tiny desk and put down three hundred or five hundred or a thousand words, the story grows.

And when I give myself that permission, I find myself unbound from guilt or regret that seems to hound me when I ignore my creative self in favor of more focus on work or cleaner bathrooms. I’m a cooking pot sitting on three stones over the fire – if I remove one of my stones (family or work or creativity) my pot will tumble into the fire, douse the flame, and ruin dinner.

I am learning balance and I really like it.

August 19, 2015

Open Letter to My Little Girl on Starting High School This Week

Filed under: familyness,kids,lists,musings,school — becca @ 5:50 am

You’re doing it. High school. So, natch, I’m doing it – passing out advice. It’s more a list than a letter. Because you’re a busy girl and you’ve got places to go. Here are Things I Know about you starting high school. Ready?

1. Sometimes people are mean.

2. (This is WAY more important than #1) More people will be amazing, kind, and supportive than will be mean. But they might do it more quietly. Look for the amazing. Look for the kind. Point it out (to yourself or to someone else) and it will get louder. Make it louder – make it roar.

3. You are beautiful. This is more a “nice” thing than a “crucial” thing, but it’s something you’ll probably forget, and I don’t want you to forget it.

4. You are good company. People love to be around you.

5. You are capable of doing hard work, and you are capable of succeeding in all your efforts.

6. It was a Very Good Idea to join a team. Join one more. Be part of at least two things. Let those two things be part of you.

7. I pray for you every single day before you get to school. Look around. See those other kids? Someone is praying for them, too, even if it’s only me.

8. Hold on to your confidence. Some days it will get a little raggedy. I can help shine it up for you, but it’s your job to carry it. Always.

9. Never be ashamed of being a nerd.

10. You can have it all. You may not be able to have it all at once, but you can have it.

11. People will look at you. Assume they’re looking because they want to be your friend. This will not always be the case, but it’s okay to be wrong now and then.

12. You won’t regret the things you do that are motivated by kindness and love.

13. You know that we don’t live in a particularly culturally diverse place, but seek out the diversity and celebrate it.

14. You’ll get hurt. (You’ll get better.)

15. Embarrassing things happen. Laughing is first aid for the wounds of embarrassment. It won’t erase the embarrassing thing, but it might save your life.

16. Eye makeup? A little bit goes a long way. You know.

17. Eat breakfast. Eat lunch. Lots of plants. A little protein. Come home and have dinner at the table.

18. Everyone is going through something. Everyone. Imagine that written over every head (kid and adult) in the building and you’ll be more empathetic. It’s always good for us to be more empathetic.

19. It’s Human Teenage Nature to assume the world revolves around you. It’s not accurate, but it’s natural.

20. I will always get excited with you when The Boy asks for your number, or sends you a vague text, or wants you to go to the dance. I will always take your side when The Boy acts like an idiot. But remember the rules. They are your protection.

21. You are stronger than you think you are.

22. Sing something every day. In the shower, in guitar class, somewhere.

23. Keep reading. You have time.

24. I’m right in the middle of the English hall if you need me.

25. There are hundreds (HUNDREDS) of people I love in that building. There is no one I love more than you.

December 26, 2014

Wrapping

Filed under: books,familyness,happiness — becca @ 8:23 am

(As in Wrapping up the Year. I’m not still doing presents the Day After.)

Christmas was lovely and precious and fun and very nearly perfect. After a very not white November and December, we got inches of powdery snow for Christmas morning. Couldn’t have been more pretty. We did happy presents – lots of the Joy of Giving (which translates to lots of the Joy of Getting, too, but the real excitement came for everyone in the presenting of the presents).

The husband and the boy got up early in the dark hours this morning to try the new game: Skiing. The boy’s amazing grandma got him the fifth grade ski passport, which allows him to ski at every Utah resort three times. (!) His dad’s pretty excited to get back in the saddle. (I am pretty sure nobody uses a saddle to ski, but then they might; I’m absolutely not an expert on anything related to skiing.)

I’m writing words (lots of words) (for me), and lying around a great deal, and reading books. I am excited about the books. Unbroken. S. Death Comes to Pemberly. On Writing. Bird by Bird.  So many good words.

December 18, 2014

Family Christmas Letter, The 2014 Version

Filed under: Christmas,familyness,gratitude — becca @ 3:02 pm

Hello, Dear Family and Friends! We have an update on our tiny, happy world:

Jana (19) shows university no mercy. She’s super successful in all her BYU studies, and after earning top marks in her first-year classes was asked to work this year as a TA in the economics department. She’s learning plenty of life lessons by living with roommates, and has found unsurprising personal strength as she faces grown-up challenges and makes adult decisions. When she comes home, everyone is thrilled and delighted. She makes our home happy when she’s there.

Katie (17) is plowing through her senior year in anticipation of her acts of World Domination to come. She excels in her courses (including 3 AP classes and 3 college courses), and anxiously awaits all the college acceptances. As soon as graduation is finished, she’ll throw her mortarboard hat into the air and board a plane for three weeks of European adventure. This she’s funding through her job fiddling on the Heber Valley Historic Railroad and teaching her 13 violin students. She works hard, she plays a little, and she impresses one and all with her wit, her talents, and her general fabulousness.

Ellie (13) rocks the 8th grade. She is an amazing student in all her content areas. One thing she’s loved is learning to play guitar at school. Her teacher occasionally lets her play his electric and his bass. She’s pretty much a rock star. She played goalkeeper for her competition soccer team this year, and has loved that experience – with all the practices, the wins and losses, and the ice cream after matches.

Matthew (11) has taken fifth grade by storm. He’s in a dedicated gifted classroom, and he’s pretty sure he’s the luckiest kid in America. He’s playing club basketball, trumpet, and piano, to all of which he dedicates before-school practice time. He loves to cook, and often spends Sunday afternoons making something delicious. He loves great books, movies and games, his sisters, giving gifts, pretty girls, and expensive cheeses.

Scott has been working most of this year on a super-secret project of his own devising. He’s been doing tons of research, writing, filming, editing, business-developing, networking, and general passion-following. It’s a joy to see him eagerly at work every day, creating and discovering happiness.

I love teaching high school English so much that it constantly surprises me that they pay me for it. I’ve come to grips with the fact that I no longer do anything very well. I do a lot of things not very well. It used to make me sad, but now I’m okay with the not-so-impressive situation at least half the time. I’m surrounded by a healthy, beautiful family. I know I can’t ask for more.

We feel hopeful and glad and grateful about the state of our lives. We live in peace in our home. We love God and are grateful for His Son, the reason for the hope and the gladness. We hope you feel the hope and the gladness, too. Merry Christmas!

Love, the Wilhite Family

March 9, 2014

Sweet News

Filed under: collaboration,cuteness,Dads,familyness — becca @ 10:23 pm

So my Kid 2 is pretty awesome. This is not a surprise to anyone who knows her, or who’s hung around much here. But this week, she even surprised me. See, there’s this club at school, FBLA (which stands for Future Business Leaders of America, as you may know), that she joined in the fall because they had pizza parties and being a member looks good on a resume and a college application. Last week there was a state FBLA competition, and she told me a month ago that she wanted to compete.

I wasn’t sure how much this had to do with the opportunity to compete in a state event and how much it had to do with the opportunity to go away for a few days and stay in a hotel with a room full of friends (but I could guess).

So she made a Public Service Announcement. And she took some exams and she did a few tests at the state competition. And she laughed about the tests on Economics, since she’s never, ever studied anything much related to economics. And she said, “My commercial went pretty well,” about her PSA and presentation. And then her PSA won first place. In the state. Out of all the kids who have made an ad for the competition.

First place.

Want to see it?

The Award-Winning PSA

(Just click on that link. Then type in “katie” as the password. Because [spoiler] Kid 2’s name is Katie.)

(She’s the one on her phone when the starting gun fires.)

(She’s cute, right?)

She wrote, directed, casted, and edited that piece. She chose the music, and she made it happen. Her dad helped by filming, and taught her the editing program (and exercised a lot of patience). We’re all kinds of proud of her around here.

January 11, 2014

Look! IT WORKS.

Filed under: Christmas,familyness,happiness,writing — becca @ 9:38 pm

I’ve had ever so many great ideas of blog posts in the past 3 weeks. And I’ve had an interface problem for each one of them. Boo. But there’s this principle that we mention a whole lot at our house: “Ask for what you want and you might get what you want.” I asked for help, and look. It’s a BLOG. I know, right?

Life is good. Family is great. We had a lovely Christmas break. It was practically perfect. Work is good. It’s been a little snowy. Also, I’ve been writing a little bit every day on THIS:

It’s a 1935 Underwood, which just happens to be JUST LIKE the one my Grandmother-the-published-authoress used many years ago (and she died years before I was born, but I love that we have this thing in common). It’s clacky and noisy and sometimes I pound the keys hard enough to make holes in the “O” letters. There’s no #1. You use the “L”. And the apostrophe is above the 8 key. It’s so cool. I’m truly loving it. My husband gives really good Christmas gifts, you know.

MOVIES. I’ve seen two. I’ll give them their own posts, because I have thoughts.

BOOKS. I’ve ordered a few. And I’m re-reading POISONWOOD BIBLE because it’s been years. I can take as much time as I want to. I can ingest it sips at a time. It’s a beautiful piece of writing.

CLASSES. I finished the English ones I needed to get through this first year of teaching. I got a 96% on my last final. Nailed it. I remembered that I love Miss Emily Dickinson. And discovered Amy Lowell. Lady Poetesses. They’re the Goods.

INCHES of GRADING to ACCOMPLISH. There are about 12. Inches. Of grading to do. This week. All of which I totally asked for. I’m eager to read their journals and book reports (I have the students read a book [generally a novel, but I can be flexible] of their choice and write me a response paper to it. Honors kids have to do that plus another one for a classic, also of their choice [including modern classics]). They impress me, in general. Some of them try to Make Idiotic Choices (like copying paragraphs directly from SparkNotes, when hello? I introduced you to SparkNotes, you silly sophomore), but I try to talk them out of those particular choices.

TRAVEL PLANS. I’m making them. For a city place. And an international place. And I’m excited.

BOOK WRITING. I’m working on it. I’m glad to be doing so.

So I hope I can show up here now and then, and maybe even have something to say once in a while. It may take some work to get back into the groove, but I’m a girl who can do some work.

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