Lately I've been finding inspiration in places I didn't expect. I love when that happens. For the longest time I have been seeking some inspiration and I just wasn't finding it. I don't know exactly what I was looking for, but I needed something. Anything. I just needed to be inspired. Perhaps I thought inspiration would show itself to me in a certain way, and when I wasn't seeing it, I didn't recognize it when it did come. Perhaps it is like the saying goes, that when you stop looking for something, it's then that you find it. Either way, it feels good to be inspired.
For many years I've had a strong interest in baking, gardening, sewing, crafting and making things by hand. It wasn't until recently when these things started becoming a passion for me, especially as I was learning about the homesteading (or back-to-the-land) movement and how many people were making changes to embrace a simpler life, one that resembled a lot what our Grandparents or Great-Grandparents lives may have looked like, and one that was self sufficient. Slowly I've been making small changes and doing things like composting, growing a few veggies, living frugally, and not driving as much in an effort to be kinder to the planet. It wasn't until I started reading up on homesteading that I realized it was that lifestyle I was really after. It had a name. And I wanted in.
I didn't grow up living in a house filled with family members happily baking alongside each other in the kitchen. My Mom and Step-Dad both worked full time outside of our home and weren't around all that much. We didn't grow our own food. All we grew were flowers, and not even edible ones. The only time we used our wood-burning fireplace was once in awhile for special occasions. The norm for our house was to retreat to our respective bedrooms and watch TV. As was the norm for most other homes I visited, whether they were friends or family. The only real exposure I got to baking was in home economics class in highschool, and on the occasion that my Mom wasn't too tired and felt like baking, us kids got to watch. When I had my children the same patterns began repeating themselves. Traditions were never passed down to me so that I could pass them on to my children, and skills were never carried down the generational line. Or so I thought.
In sort of a haunting way, I've been thinking a lot about my Grandparents on my Father's side, who have both passed away. I typically only got to see them once in awhile when my Father had visitation of me and if we went to visit them. As a child, those visits were precious and I loved my Grandparents dearly. They were the type of Grandparents I would have dreamed of having if they weren't mine. They were sweet, soft-spoken, old-fashioned and lovely. And they loved me like crazy. As I got older, the visits slowed, and when I became a Mom myself with all of it's busyness, I no longer made time for them. I know I took them for granted, foolishly thinking they would be around for a long time. Now that they are gone, so is my opportunity to nourish that relationship. They have been gone for some time now, but for whatever reason, I've been plagued with vivid memories of the time I spent with them, which almost always leaves me sobbing into my pillow at night over how much I miss them, and how much I missed out on. Memories that I had forgotten all about, now play over and over again in my mind as clear as day. I remember the way my Grandma dressed, always in skirts no shorter than her knees and beautiful blouses tucked in and buttoned up to her neck. She always had her snow white hair pulled up into a bun. I remember only ever seeing her with her hair down once, during a sleepover at her house and she was getting ready for bed. Her hair flowed down past her waist, and I remember how beautiful I thought she looked. My Grandpa loved to show me his garden. They lived in a beautiful mobile home in a sweet little mobile home park. Their backyard was small, but they made room to grow quite a bit of food next to their umbrella clothesline. Grandpa would always take me out back and show me how well his radishes were doing, or he would sneak a strawberry off the plant for me to eat while Grandma was inside cooking dinner. It was always our little secret. Grandma's dinners were always unbelievably delicious, with as much of it made from scratch as possible. You could taste the love in her meals, and dinner at their house was something I always looked forward to. Following dinner we almost always played some sort of game. Our favorites were usually Skip-Bo, Uno, Cribbage, or Tiddley Winks. They had a TV, but didn't watch it much. From time to time Grandpa would watch bowling or a golf game, but usually he would be found napping on the couch in the afternoon, or puttering in the garden or in his shed. Grandma spent her free time reading her Bible, usually in the morning before anyone else awoke. When I would wake in the morning I would come out to the table and be greeted with toast and juice, and Grandma's Bible would be open on the table. On Sundays she attended a home church near by, but never preached to me. Not even once. She lived out her faith everyday, which looking back on now spoke much louder than words ever could have. My Grandpa taught me how to swim in the mobile park's pool and afterward we would walk back to their home to do a puzzle together. He loved his puzzles. Grandma taught me to knit and crochet, and instilled in me a love for crafting, and for old-fashioned/vintage decor. Their house had doilies and lace curtains, gorgeous (and tasteful) shag carpet, an arborite table in their dining room, pantings and house plants everywhere, two china cabinets and a spoon collection, and just about every other currently collectible item circa the 1950's that you could ask for. She also had a sewing room that dreams were made of. Their life was simple, and they were more than willing to share it with whoever wanted to be a part of it. They didn't live a self-sufficient lifestyle, but they introduced me to what was possible by living simply. They taught me skills that I can pass down to my children, and my children's children. They taught me to slow down and take time to enjoy the beauty of nature, to enjoy the closeness of family, to deepen my faith. Because of their willingness to share it, they planted deep within me a desire to do the same. Most imporantly I think, is that they taught me a different side to the life I was accustomed to, and showed me a better way of doing things. Growing up I took these lessons for granted, and forgot most of them. Now, these lessons have flooded back and no longer will I take them for granted. Instead, I will run with them. I will pass on the traditions they left with me.
I never thought inspiration would find me in the form of memories, but it did. Out of the blue, and completely unexpected. What a blessing my Grandparents were, and continue to be, in my life. What an inspiration.