Growing up

I have this gut feeling that some intensely real part of me has been hibernating for years and like a baby bear coming out of a dark cave,  it’s beginning to awaken.  2019 will be my last year of grad school.  Working full time, momming, daughtering, schooling, working, interning….blah, blah, blah.  It’s going to be a whirlwind of a year!  I am amazed when I look back and see how far I’ve come (and I am overwhelmed when I see how far I have to go!)  

We humans are ever-evolving, exploring creatures.  I am in awe of our capacity for resilience and growth.  That capacity gives me hope for us all.  It especially gives me hope for myself because I dream of the day I am all grown up in the ways that matter.

Here’s what I am trying to grasp about being a grown up:

  1. Truly, other people’s opinions of me are none of my business.  I spend a great deal of energy trying to ensure that other people are happy and content.  Sometimes, I catch myself putting more energy into their well-being than they do.  Guess who pays the highest price?  
  2. Self-compassion and self-care isn’t all about bubble baths, long walks, journaling and time for me.  It also looks like the icky stuff; hard conversations that need to be had, sticking to a budget, asking for help, making the choices that don’t feel good in the moment but have a tremendous pay-off later.  That stuff counts for loving myself well too.
  3. Structure and routine are not dirty words.  I have to learn this somehow.  I hate being put in anyone’s box, including my own and find myself easily resisting what is best for me because of that.
  4. I am a grown up woman, I was made a sexual being, and that is okay.  Actually, it’s far better than okay, it is magnificently wonderful.  Labels, shame, guilt and not allowing myself to be who I was made to be is nonsense.  
  5. There are people who have wiped my tears away in the most gentle and intimate manner.  There are others who squirm away from emotion because it is uncomfortable for them.  On the lines of people….some will see my scars as beautiful as they kiss them lovingly and see the miracle of life.  Some will see those same scars as a marring of my physical body and they might say less than stellar things.  Some will see my stretch marks and mom tummy as unattractive and displeasing; some will see these things as real and soft and safe.  Some people might not see them at all.  Guess what?  Their thoughts ALWAYS have more to do with them and often nothing to do with me.  That’s a hard one to swallow when one is a master at ugly self talk, but this is truth. 
  6. My God loves me deeper, wider, bigger than I could ever imagine. I have atheist friends who think my God is a made up guy in the sky to serve no purpose but being a crutch.  I have friends who have what I consider to be rigid beliefs, as well as everyone in between.  I love them all and I hope they love me too.  We are all searching and searching is key.  Whether your answer is in logic or faith or anywhere else, it’s your journey.  This is my journey.  
  7. ALL of the stuff ALL of the stuff ALL of the stuff is made to take us to a higher level.  Someday I will learn to surrender to that, trust myself, trust my God and trust the process.  Until then, I’ll keep doing my best.  Mostly.  Sometimes I will screw up in the biggest of ways.
  8. Love Wins.  Every freaking time.  Unless we choose hate.  Ick.
  9. It’s the small things that are really biggest in life.  Some of my favorite small things…When my Momma is proud of me (I know, I’m 46, but still, she’s my Mom!), when my kids surprise me with an unexpected hug, sunsets and sunrises, feeling the breeze on my bare skin, sweet kisses, coffee, yummy smells (of course)….
  10. Gratitude brightens even the darkest, dreariest days.  Drop the mask, feel what you feel…but keep the gratitude going.
  11. Be kind, gracious, loving, tender, merciful and forgiving.  At the same time, remember that boundaries are a beautiful thing and that boundaries and walls are not the same, ever.
  12. I will be unapologetically, unequivocally  me, even when it makes me squirm.  Especially when it makes me squirm.  Simply because I am uniquely, beautifully made and there is only one of me.  I love that quote, “Be you, everyone else is already taken.”  That’s so right!

The magic is in the mercy.  The gift is in the grace.  Over and over and over I fail.  Over and over and over I receive these compassions.  I am surrounded with grace giving, magic mercy making,  lovers of my heart and I am intensely blessed.

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Scattered Mercy

Oh mercy.  Mercy, mercy, mercy, freaking mercy….I give.  

Tonight has been unpretty.  My beautiful daughter and I had an ugly word explosion in the car and in this moment, we are in our separate rooms working through our own muck.  I hate it.  i hate the separateness from my precious child.  Speaking of ugly word explosions, they have become common between my beloved son and I.  We seem to be constantly jolted by one another, and not in a positive way.  Distance reigns.  I want desperately to regain our closeness.  

I don’t share any of this to “out” my children.  They are teenagers and going through their own stuff.  The abundance of pressures on them from their social networks, hormones, temptations and more are weighty on my 46 year old shoulders.  God bless it….teenagering is just as tough as parenting sometimes. It’s a difficult season for all of us. They have been through alot and truly are amazing young people.  I wonder how often I get caught up in their errors and forget what’s truly important.  Considering the ease I have in getting absorbed in my own guilt, shame and errors…I’m guessing I do it with them all too often.

I get stuck thinking that the kids Dad and I have failed them.  We divorced…not in the plan.  We kinda quit raising them in church…not in the plan.  I struggle financially….not in the plan.  They are faced with all of the things I can’t protect them from….kind of not in the plan and if it was I was going to have prepared them better.  I am sometimes so scattered and that can’t feel super safe to a kiddo who is searching for solidarity….not in the plan.  It’s easy to feel like one big oops.  

Are we suffering?  Not in comparison to many.  Are we operating out of hurt?…too often, yes.

And so it is….here we are with our growing pains.  I heard a sermon in which the preacher spoke about tomatoes and the yummy, delightful, ripe juiciness they provide us after growing all summer on a vine.  His point was that this little tomato made huge progress while it was only a tiny little seed in the dark.  It was in fertile soil and when that tiny little seed had so much pressure from growing it burst…but the bursting led to the root and vine growth and eventually to that delectable tomato.

Right now, I can’t see everything on the outside and the inside feels horribly painful, sometimes I want to throw my hands in the air and say F it all.  But…there is this tiny little part of me that knows better.  Trying to hang on and maintain control, keeping us afloat…I guess that’s a decent option.  Throwing my hands in the air and releasing this gob of goo that I’m holding onto so tightly would be best for us all. 

“Give it to God”, they say.  “Lean into it”, they say.  “You are enough”, they say. 

I’m trying to find my trust, It’s just super hard.  Endless unknowns.  Can I trust the outcome even though I’m walking in the dark?  I pray His mercies are as abundant as my scattered spirit.

My kiddos and I ….just tiny little seeds going through some growing pains.  We are gonna be alright.

Whole Family

Personally, this is something I’m super sensitive about.

I will explain one time that it was she plus 4, PLUS he plus 2 and then along came me.

To be nice, I will honor the need of someone to define the “steps” and “halves” ONE time. I will satisfy their need to tell me that i don’t have any “whole” siblings. ((🤔🤔they seem pretty whole to me)

Then I will graciously explain that these are my sisters and brothers…this is our family…the end. And I will ask with a heart full of seriousness and respect…can you please not use the above lingo again?

This is my original sense of belonging, these are my people and I thank God every day for them.

Also…I have the dearest sister’s sister (my sister) in the entire universe.

#foreverblessed

#pleaseremovemefromyourbox

Ephiphany

Numb to the weary woman and her pain. Numb to the inner child who sees the world is insane.

Oblivious to the wounds she carries around…to the screaming cries that come minus sound.

Dismissive of her desires to be the center of your universe, drown her slowly in your perverse.

Serve her in abundance with bittersweet memories, make sure later there will be no remedies.

Sanity and safety slowly slip away. Mold and shape her…she’s nothing more than clay.

Stab her in the back as she rests her head on your shoulder, knock her down like an out of control boulder.

Use her. Abuse her. Leave breadcrumbs on your path. Whatever, you do…she’ll clean the aftermath.

She’s come back once, she’ll come back now. She’s yours forever, she made the vow.

Days have passed…she’s still not returned, now begins the scorching burn.

Listen close, what’s that sound? Still, small and mighty, her voice has finally been found.



Hang in…

“Rough times”, she said before she took a deep breath and told herself this was just a season.

My heart has been hurting far more than I realized. My actions haven’t been super congruent with who I am.

This morning, I had a beautifully hard conversation with a dear friend who has proven to be a soft and safe place to land. I am thankful for everyone (and I mean everyone) God puts in my path. I keep getting opportunities to choose what is best for me and somehow, I keep veering toward what is the least good option for me.

My stomach has been churning for days….a favorite thing of mine to do when I’m feeling anxious. A good cure for that..hot tea for breakfast, bone broth for lunch, a BIG ugly cry with a trusted friend and having that same person care enough to not judge and pray with you. Then, a visit with a client who is deeply grateful and a whole lot less ‘fortunate’ than me.

So…another deep breath. Gratitude for all the moments and for my very real faith. Prayers for courage to keep on keeping on, wisdom and a spirit that yields to a purpose much bigger than one of my own creation.

Struggling

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”

― Rainer Maria Rilke

Oh geez louise.  If there is a mistake to be made lately, I am making it.  The struggles are real.  I’m trying to comfort myself by reminding myself, ‘this too shall pass’, ‘in everything there is a lesson to be learned’, ‘find the value’ and ‘God’s got me’.  Truthfully…I wonder if these things are true.  What if this is as good as it gets and nothing is going to ‘pass’?  How come I keep getting the same lessons, what am I missing?  Am I figuring out who I have always been or am I living out the years I never got to live out (adolescence)?

I bet parenting me is much like parenting a wild 17 year old who is determined to find her own way without undertaking any advisement.  So be it, I guess.  It’s where I am and I am so entirely sick of fighting with myself that I’m trying to just be.  Be me.  The challenge…I’m not entirely sure who I am.  One day I’m full of maturity, light and goodness…the next day I am determined to be as naughty as can be, wanting nothing or no one to constrain my freedom.  But you see…I’m not even sure what freedom means to me.

Forgive my scatteredness, and be thankful I took time to write in my journal before this post in order to ‘sort’ my everrunning thoughts. 

I spent time with a fabulous new friend last night, who happens among other several things to be an atheist.   I am very much a lover of Jesus and a hater of rules, and I greatly enjoy discussions with those of different belief systems.  As long as we can agree to disagree, I find great value in hearing another’s perspective and in sharing mine.  I am open to both their story and to telling mine.   We are all connected, there is value in each of our stories.  This is why I have difficulty when someone is closed to these interactions.  Like…what’ so scary about hearing another person’s view?   There’s no need to have a change of heart or mind just because there is a different perspective and if a change results…whatever.

I also have a dear, dear friend who happens to be more devoted to his Catholicism than anyone Catholic person I’ve ever known.  We have strikingly different views and we’ve had some terrifically difficult conversations.  That said, I have the utmost respect for his beliefs and I feel valued when I share with him.  I am thankful for that give and take. 

On the same token, another one of my dearest friends is an atheist.  It’s the same kind of give and take in our relationship and we actually learn a lot from our open heartedness toward each other. We ask each other super tough questions and continue to challenge one another to grow through these fittings together of our puzzles.  I guess I can surmise from this that when a person is valued over the need to be right, a very different relationship emerges.

Furthermore, I have many friends who don’t fall into an extreme end of the spectrum but somewhere in the middle.  They might be sure of their faith, they may be doubting and searching or they might just be numb and oblivious.  There isn’t one of them that doesn’t offer value to my life with where they are and I hope I do the same for them.

So…back to last night with my new friend….  I was very curious about their reasons they hold so tight to their beliefs.  They shared  and so much of it made  complete logical sense to me.  During our conversation, I tried to share just the little bit that I could about my faith.  It was hard.  I am deeply searching and trying to understand the foundations of my beliefs.  The faith part is so much easier for me to share.  Just like my own life, I’m so much more assured of how to share my feelings than my thoughts, and as a Christian, my feelings are more cemented and easier to share than my logic.

I explained that it was exceptionally difficult for me to understand how I was alive.  I made it through an open heart surgery at 9 months of age that was supposed to be done in two parts.  As I understand it, they came out in the middle of my first surgery and told my parents that they had to do the rest then or I would ‘be a vegetable’.  My Momma tells me that this was the first time she really knew she had faith because she never doubted that I wouldn’t be just fine. 

To give a little picture of the weight of the circumstances, I was more tubes than baby, and was one of the youngest babies to ever have this complete correction at such a young age.  It was a significant deal.  The doctors told my family it was a 50/50 chance of success but not doing it would mean bad things.  They did it and I’m obviously here to tell about it.  So, why, oh why are there babies with a lesser degree of the same defect that die today still?  Why am I alive?  Why doesn’t everyone get their miracle?

Then…a pretty healthy life.  Fast forward to that big ole stroke when I was 37.  That one that ‘should’ve killed me’ and that one where I had to learn to walk again…like an infant.  Again…why am I here?  So many are not.

So…my new friend asks me what kind of God would let little bitty babies die and me live?  An extremely fair question and one I have often wrestled with.  Tonight, I wrestle extra hard because the best answer I have is that I’m not God and I have to trust that He has a panoramic view and I have a snapshot.  Sometimes I believe this a thousand times over, other times, I doubt everything.  

I sure don’t know why God has me here and I’m really wondering how my life is one he’d be proud of right now.  I mess up.  Alot and quite intentionally.  I can be obstinate and determined to create my own path, hurting others along the way of my learning.  I can be unfocused and lackadaisical.  I am a bundle of pure messiness.  It is what it is. I am so deeply grateful for every moment.

A bit weary and overwhelmed, I am searching too often in others and not often enough in my own heart. It’s all okay. I’ve finally found peace with trusting that God not only accepts my doubts, He welcomes them.  For when I doubt, I am searching for his majesty when I am so small.  I am searching for His peace amidst my chaos.  

I am struggling, 100% with the dawning of these new lights…and that’s perfectly okay.

🤭😳🤔

It’s quite possible that if I don’t make it through grad school (I will…just what iffing), I will follow my dreams and get a job naming nail polish colors.

Seriously, spend time looking at the names of existing colors…quite entertaining! Actually, I could use my own internal struggles as inspiration!

A few of mine might be:

Freedom frenzy 🎉

I’m not really an angel 😇

Wild thang 😜

Unconscious drives 🚘

Good girl always ❤️

Just keep swimming 🏊‍♂️

Pixie dust 🧚‍♀️

This is my brain on joy 🥰

Oh! Alice! 🎩 🐰

And saving the best for last….

Freudian slip 🤭😳🤔🤦‍♀️

T.H.A.N.K.S.G.I.V.I.N.G

Happiest Thanksgiving everyone! As I was mixing my banana pudding ingredients this morning, one of my beaters broke in half and flew across the room…no joke. That is such a mirror to my life right now…things that aren’t supposed to (according to my plans) are unexpectedly flying apart. I can’t help but continue to giggle at the irony of life. My siblings, Momma and I all shared a Happy Thanksgiving love you text this morning and my Momma added…”There’s not an ugly one in the bunch!” My heart smiled so big…this is what my Daddy always said. My heart feels his physical absence super strong this particular holiday season. I have a dear friend in the hospital, two parents I read about just lost their son, my own heart is struggling and I just want my Daddy to hold me tight and let me know everything is going to be alright. So…as I sit in my warm home waiting for the sweet potatoes to be done baking, I sit and write and cry some big ole tears. I contemplate all that I am grateful for. I’m contemplating gratitude not to distract myself from the hurt but to remind myself of the joy in the journey. Again, pain and joy coincide. My God who loves me bigger, wider and deeper than I can comprehend and the faith I have that he is tangible and real in my life, and holds me as I cry. I hurt, but I am certain I am not a Fatherless child in any way. John and Stella and their sweet Daddy, Nathan. They are the hearts that exist outside of my body and within my own heart always. Looking at them consistently reminds me that I’m not in control, even of ‘my’ most prized and cherished treasures. They stretch me in every way, challenge me to be my best and if ever I forget gratitude, I need to do no more than remember I thought a child would never come from my own body. My family. There really isn’t an ugly one in the bunch. I’m talking the inside and the outside. The hearts in this bunch are gloriously beautiful, extravagantly loving and the best shelter a girl could ever have. My friends. We wrap each other in encouragement and love and sometimes we annoy the crap out of each other. Wouldn’t want to do life without them. Healing hearts. The journey of life. Letting go of my attachment to the outcome and learning to just trust the process. Seriously. Christmas music, cooking, warm toes, yummy smelling candles, new experiences, coffee, fur babies, poetry, writing, the ability to contemplate and choose, growth, openness, trust, laughter and tears, prayer, the knowing that despite all of our differences, we are all the same, worship, compassion, tenderness, kissing, kissing, kissing, hugs, kissing, love, snuggles, opportunities, crispy fall leaves (especially heart shaped ones), walking in the sunshine, rainy days, catching snowflakes on my tongue, being a woman and enjoying my feminine self, tolerance, perspective, pennies from Heaven, baby goats, chickens, the bestest cohort ever in the whole wide world, lipstick, perfume, learning that presence is really is the most significant present, connection, conversations, the gift of angels unaware……I could go on for eons. Strange that my heart is so much more peaceful than it was 20 minutes ago. I am held, always, no matter what. So are you. Somehow, everything is going to be alright. No matter where you are in life right now, I pray that peace , hope, health and joy encompass you in the most unexpected ways. Happiest Thanksgiving dear ones.

Reminder to be grateful

I had no scheduled meetings and no court dates on my calendar today. This was my first clue that it was going to be a crazy day! Certainly crazy and I am certainly pooped.
There’s just too much hurting going on. Two things that I see too often as a culprit of elder abuse are drugs (not marijuana), and a sense of entitlement combine with a greedy heart. Elder abuse and domestic violence are everywhere. If you believe these things aren’t in your neighborhood or nearby…I’d encourage you to wise up. We must, if we want to bring change.
One person in particular is on my heart and in my prayers tonight. I got to spend the better part of my day with them in the emergency room. When you are elderly, transgender, schizophrenic and homeless…the world is a particularly rough place. Please keep your opinions on sexual orientation and alternative lifestyles kindly to yourself, because that is not this post.
This person matters to me and they ought matter to you. They are a soulful being just like the rest of us….traveling their journey in the best way they know how. Love, love, love your neighbor. They are our neighbor.
“Mental illness is a walk in the park”, said no one ever. I’m imagining that being homeless pretty much stinks. I know statistically speaking and from personal observations, the elderly and the transgender population are at higher risk of harm and particularly vulnerable on the streets and in shelters…so it’s tough to decide where the best ‘placement’ would be. Additionally, all the local shelters are at maximum capacity…so there’s that.
So…all of that said. Let’s pray for my new friend as they struggle through this cold night. Pray for their protection and safety, wellness, wisdom and for a glimmer of hope to enter their tired heart. Pray for them and for the countless others among us.
If you have a roof over your head, warmth in your environment, clothing and dinner tonight, remember yourself privileged and blessed. We are so blessed, don’t ever forget that.

Random blitherings

This isn’t my normal writing…it’s just my heart poured out along with the ramblings of my mind.  It’s a heavy kind of night…one of those nights that one thing that is bothersome leads to another thing and before long, my insides are all helter skelter willy nilly.

There is an underlying edge of melancholy trying to set in as I attempt to avoid ruminating over ickies.  At times,  I feel sad about the countless changes in my little family and I miss my Daddy so much it hurts.  Christmas and Thanksgiving are looking super different this year and if I’m honest, I’d have to say I’m struggling a bit more than slightly.

As I write tonight, these tears just keep pouring out of me.  I tell myself that it’s okay that things have changed.  It is okay, I know this is true.  It doesn’t change that it hurts.  I think of my dear friends who lost their momma this year.  I think of my sisters who lost their momma a few years ago.  Loss, loss, loss.  Everywhere there is loss.  That is the story my mind is telling me right now.  Ugh.

I hate that I was unable to give my children the traditional family that I longed to give them since before they were ever brought into existence.  I don’t care to share them over the holidays.  I will, because they are deeply loved by both their Father and I and they deserve our genuinely compassionate, loving, tender cooperation.  There are a few moments though, that I am pouting about it all.  There are also moments that I am overcome with gratitude because I know that the divorce set me free from some things I needed to be set free from.  This gratitude for myself is always connected with guilt that my babies didn’t get what I wanted them to have.  I wanted.  I wanted.  Trying to appreciate once more that God has a panoramic view and I only have a snapshot.

As the 9th anniversary of the big ole’ stroke nears, I am reminded of a wee bit of loss and far more of extraordinary gain.  That stroke was the turning point for God and I.  (probably more of my turning point, He was there all along).  This thought reminds me of how thankful I am for the very breath He gives me.  I made a short, silly video recently talking about how very grateful I am for the undeserved miracles I have had in my life.  It is good for my soul to think on those things.  In my changed relationship with God, I realized that I can share anything with God…whether I’m angry, sad, jealous, resentful or joyful, grateful, blessed, kind, etc.  Whatever I am feeling I can tell him.  So tonight, I am thanking Him for life and also telling him that my heart is aching.

I have visited with three dear friends this week….all men who have been considering suicide.  I pray that they know they are loved and cared for.  I pray they choose life because even in the midst of this loss, chaos and pain; life is beautiful and life is worth living well.

In the scheme of it all, we are each so very small.  I adore sunsets, sunrises, and the sky in general.  I could lie for hours and stare at the stars.  It all just reminds me, in a comforting way, we are miracles in the midst of it all.  Life is beautiful.  Isn’t it ironic?  Sometimes the most beauty arises from incredibly significant pain.  No matter what…seek the beauty and live life well.

God Bless and Sweet Dreams.