The languid sounds of old school jazz float over the dinner table. Soft golden rays of light filter in the windows on this night that finally feels like the beginning of summer. The conversation at the table is lively as our older children, Nick and his girlfriend Erin, are visiting for the week.
Bodhi, our 7 year old, is gleefully tucking into the first, sweet, butter-slathered corn on the cob of the year when he bursts out, “Life is full of butter!” His enthusiasm is pure and is received with a hearty burst of laughter.
Life is full of butter.
Butter (at least before we all became so fat conscious) evokes syrup-coated pancakes, gooey chocolate chip cookies, holiday meals and the perfect coating to many a vegetable dish. Slather it on toast, and it goes from dry to divine. Bo’s comment, “Life is full of butter!” captured the essence of the sweetness in the moment: family, a summer about to begin, laughter, wholesome yummy goodness.
The phrase rattled around my head all night and then it dawned on me. To make butter, you have to churn cream. And to create the moment we were experiencing at dinnertime, there has certainly been churning in our lives.
In the past year, we left a community we loved, moved to another state leaving our older children behind to finish college, closed a business, sold a home and many possessions, had a baby, and lost a parent. We settled into a slower lifestyle in the mountains and a new school for Bodhi. We explored new jobs, new careers, new businesses – with a lot of lack of steady income.
Gone is the big stately home in a wealthy seaside community with major expenses, packed schedules, high stakes and high stress, never ending workweeks, playdates, classes, and bustle.
Yet those outer changes are merely symptoms of the churning transformation within. We’ve also redefined what we value, how much we spend, what our roles are. Both of us now care for the children, prepare the meals, tend to the house, earn money. We speak to each other more honestly, which has been both brutal and freeing. We put on false masks less and less, no longer hiding behind the charming, successful “mayor” of our small town or a cute suburban housewife.
I no longer try to please everyone around me at my own expense. I’m becoming okay with disappointing others. I speak up more. I no longer try to harmonize and stabilize the emotional quality within our home – everyone gets to feel their own feelings, including the uncomfortable ones. I’ve fired myself as the peacekeeper. I do less, be present more. I’m not striving and pushing to will my life to happen. There’s more accepting and allowing. More hard won (and sometimes shaky) faith. I’m trusting life/source more. Living from my heart, not my head. Less projecting onto the future. Less interest in idealistic visions of what my life ‘should’ look like and more accepting the beautiful messy reality of how it is, now.
While I used to profess that I accepted all emotion, in truth I vastly preferred only the happy ones. I wanted to move past any discomfort as quickly as possible, so I could live in a state of bubbly contentment. I strived to have perfect harmony, more abundance, a gorgeous home, a wildly sweet romantic relationship and a booming business.
Now? Life is full of butter – sweet, salty, agitated, creamy. I’m making room for it all, and yes, that’s taken a lot of churning.
(Butter must be in the collective consciousness as the day after this blog was published, Time Magazine cover professed “Eat Butter. Scientists labeled fat the enemy. Why they were wrong.” Go Bo for being tapped in!)