When I think about stories to tell from the decade that was my 20’s, I get lost in a sea of emotions but have a hard time coming up with relevant specifics. It’s almost like my early childhood, where I have hazy recollections of actual events but vivid memories of colors and moments. Not that I could sum it up in two words or ten, but in my heart I carry a tone of that time.
My high school and college years are clearer, those formative relationships and transitions, I can remember more about that stretch of my life than almost any other. But even in the jumble of best friends and broken hearts and the cheerleading bus and fraternity hall parties, I could paint that picture in just a few strokes. The colors, they are the same. Primary reds in some areas, darker, so much darker, in certain corners. Bright afternoon sunlight on the Oklahoma campus, faded yellow of my childhood home.
As an adult, I drown in the details more than I used to. I’m always learning that not everything has to be handled with white gloves, not every moment a memory. I don’t want to skate through the year, but it’s terribly exhausting to seize, seize, seize, the day every day all day. Like it or not, most people’s week has a healthy dose of laundry and errands. So when I look back at the bigger picture, at my children’s earliest memories and this journey of my 30’s, what do I want it to look like? What will I want the colors to be?
Well, right now it would look like a lot of time at the kitchen table feeding people, and a lot of time in front of the computer, and more time than I could possibly imagine on an airplane. Of course there’s a lot of stuff in between. We play outside and have dinner with friends, and the stuff of life fills twenty-four increments pretty quickly. But when I close my eyes I see a black and white floor and patterned wallpaper and my kids with big smiles and my daughter in a tutu and my son crawling down the hall. I also see facebook and the interior of my car, because these are things my eyeballs see every day.
Are these the images my mind will conjure when I look back from a greater distance? I’m not sure, one can never have a true perspective of these things when you’re in it. But I know enough about life now to know that when you look back on seasons, there is a tone. There is a vibe, there are colors, there is a prevailing sense of what it was, and I think that on some level you can control it.
From this blog to my daily life, I want to create the colors of my life. I want to set the tone for our family memories. Sometimes this might mean I gotta fake it ‘til I make it. But I don’t think it’s inauthentic to set up an atmosphere for my kids to have the healthiest recollection possible. I don’t think it’s inauthentic to decide my grumpy mood will not dictate this family vacation. As a mom, I set the tone for my family. As a writer, I set the tone for my stories.
Walking through my life, I will be aware of the wave that I am making. There’s only so much I can paint, but I want those things to be meaningful. I believe in being who you are, but more strongly I believe in being the best of who you are. In 2013, I am setting the tone for my family, my home, my memories, my life. It’s pink and gold and sort of bokeh-y. At least for now.
In 2012, my theme for the year was Start Where You Are. In my year-end recap, I asked, "Now that we've started, where are we going?" These thoughts have been bumbling around in my brain for a couple of months now, and Set the Tone felt like a natural progression for 2013. I'm excited to see where it leads.
photo by the enormously talented Kelly Sauer