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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This Day is a Gift

I was in the laundry aisle of Target tonight when the loud screaming of a young child became audible. It was a pitiful sound that made my Momma heart ache; and I immediately began to search out where the noise was originating. It didn’t take but a moment to locate this maybe two year old because of the scene her own Mom was making in the store.

I’m going to attempt to paint the scene of what happened, in an earnest attempt to get across the deep helplessness I felt. This mom was repeatedly squeezing her child’s legs, hard. She would tower over the child (who was buckled into the cart) and yell, “You don’t EVER tell Mommy no, EVER, when I get home I am going to spank you again and again and again!” This child was literally shrinking back and down as far as she could into the cart as tears and snot ran down her face. Granted, I do realize we all parent different yet I am in the practice of respecting and accepting the cultures, belief systems and lifestyles of all people. However, this woman was bordering on abuse. My heart hurt for that little baby as she shrunk back. Everyone around this woman would look at her, then we’d look at each other. There were shrugs, head shakes, even conversations about what to do, but no one (myself included) knew the answer. It was the epitome of social discomfort.

I kept following the woman, at a safe distance. She continued to scream at her child as she walked up and down aisles, she took time every few minutes to text someone. It felt like she was trying to draw attention to herself. She was very well dressed, extremely loud and seemed to put nothing in her cart. The final straw was when I made a moment of eye contact with the little girl which was broken when her mom said, “You know better than to behave like this, you ought be ashamed!” That whole shame phrase cuts me deep. There was an older woman next to me and we made eye contact. She said, “what can you do, I don’t know what to do?” I replied that I didn’t know either.

I knew that I had to do something, I had no idea what. I felt a little afraid that whatever I did, it wouldn’t fare well for this baby girl. I didn’t want this woman to feel judged but I did want her to stop and think. I was praying super hard. I approached the woman and child from behind…”Mam, Mam” No response so I got a little braver and tapped her gently on the arm with a firm, “excuse me, mam” That got her attention.

Me: “I notice you seem a little bit stressed, I wondered if there is anything I can do to help.”

Her: “No, thank you. She (points at child) knows better than to act like this”.

Me: “Gosh, she sure is beautiful with those big brown eyes. How old is she?”

Her: “She just turned two and she knows better than to cry like this.”

Me: “Ah, two is such a tough age, she’s doing just what is developmentally appropriate, but it’s sure hard. What’s her name?”

Her: “Her name is Lilliana (not her real name).

Me: “I love her name!” (I’m talking to child trying to speak soothingly and hoping mom sees that this gets good results bc screaming has turned into hiccup cries} “Thanks so much for stopping and letting me talk, I can’t ever pass up the opportunity to talk to little ones, I miss that age so much.”

Her: Gets a call and waves at me as she exits the store and Lilliana resumes crying.

I wonder what happened as they left that store. I wonder why it didn’t occur to that Momma to pick up her distraught child and love on her. I wonder who didn’t teach her to do that. I am not judging, please know that. I have had (still have) endless hard days with my kiddos where I have reacted rather than responded and I have behaved ugly on more occasions than I care to mention. Something about this just bothered me, deep into my soul.

I don’t know if it’s because a precious family that I love lost their child to cancer today or if it’s because my own precious children are fighting huge battles of their own right now, this just hurt.

I hadn’t planned on leaving a little piece of my heart at Target, but leave a little piece of my heart I did. I’m praying for that baby girl and her Momma tonight that they can connect and that nurturing, peace and love will override all else. I wish I could share this little image of this day being a gift with them.