these days…

This has been the first summer that we have lived in our little nearly-lake side cottage. We piled our boxes and possessions in during the sticky post-summer remnants of last fall. In these summer months I have walked the tightrope stance of being annoyed that early mornings were so bright, and wishing I could bring myself to wake up earlier. Isn’t that funny? There I am, sleeping away (and I’ve never been a great sleeper anyway,) when the beautiful sunrise comes peaking in and I grumpily shade my eyes only to later wish something (anything) could help me wake up earlier. How often are we guilty of begging for an answer, when the solution is right before our eyes?

Well, 4 a.m. yesterday and 4:30 a.m. today have me (reluctantly) up and facing the day. Yesterday it occurred to me that a few weeks ago, the sun would have been right on my tale, but this day it seems, doesn’t have its rising scheduled until pretty much 6 a.m.

The days are getting shorter…

And truthfully, I am sad about this.

The longer summer evenings have, for the first time that I remember, caused their own set of issues. My husband’s hours, for work, had him heading to bed long before it had even considered setting, and so I would struggle. While I should retire, as well, it was full sun outside. The result was, almost always, me up past 1 a.m. because this night owl knows how to self sabotage, apparently… (I hear you saying well no wonder you were struggling with the 4:30 rising sun! I know, I know…)

Complications aside, I love a long evening. I love the breezes as they chase away the heat of a day, as the sun sets late. All too soon it will be pitch black at four in the afternoon and the sun won’t be rising until hours after our early work day has began.

I am sad because shorter days mean that we are on the downslope of this year. This year who, for its first half felt unfairly brutal and stripping, and then suddenly I’m left whiplashed and wondering where it has gone.

As we age, this passing of time happens at lightening speed. It may also be fair to point out that my crotchety regards to early sunrises and late sunsets can also apply (a bit) to older age as well. I could remark about how I can’t win, but the common denominator here in all of these ill-fated trains of thought is simply me.

Last night I had a video call with my sister, who was buying school supplies. I felt a mix if things. I had noticed their appearance, in our local Target, last week. I had avoided them, an act pretty unlike me, as I love school supplies. I guess I wasn’t quite ready to embrace the impending change of season, not quite willing to surrender my grasp on summer.

But still, these days are getting shorter.

Last night, around the time of the video call, my husband and I were at an outdoor blues concert. It was amazing and lovely, peacefully and summery, when all at once two things occurred…

One, I looked up at a girl’s t-shirt which read class of 2024. I scoffed and made some low-breathed remark like yeah right, she looks a little tall to be a kindergartener. Here we are, on the literal cusp of 2020, and I sat clothed in full denial because how? (seriously though, how is this even possible? And is asking this a sign of old age?)

Two, halfway through the show, as the sun was beginning its descent, people started packing up their chairs and picnic remains. The slowly fading sun had escorted in the bugs, ready to have their evening feast on all of us.

The days are getting shorter.

Also, next Monday’s show will be seven days worse…

Do you love the late summer sunsets or prefer the cooler, early evenings of Autumn?

Sisterwives and weeds…

One evening last week I found myself sitting in a cluster of tables with several other women. They were all new to me, and I was not alone in that. We sat nibbling on cookies, chewing on Starbursts and getting to know each other. It was really nice. We chatted about babies, and real life stuff, our jobs, some dreams (both fulfilled and unfulfilled) and eventually the conversation gravitated to the message (from the Sunday before) that some of us had heard at church.

The story had been about faith, and had centered around Hannah’s story, in the book of 1st Samuel. (If you aren’t familiar, it’s ok. This isn’t actually a post about anything church or Christianity related, so sit tight…) Hannah wanted desperately to have a baby with her husband, but despite her prayers (spanning years) she hadn’t been able to get pregnant. Reading this, as we do with most character stories, one can get swept up in Hannah’s ache, especially if you’ve shared in that same ache in any way. Hannah’s husband had two wives, and his other wife Peninnah, does not share this problem. (of course she doesn’t, because anyone who has struggled with infertility knows- the infertile bring imaginary fertility luck to those women around them!) side note- having lived the life of miscarriage and infertility, I can only imagine how painful Peninnah’s pregnancies and childbirths were for Hannah…

The book is clear to point out that, not only was Peninnah continually giving their husband children, but she was also an absolute nightmare to Hannah. She treated her like absolute garbage. We humans love a good villain story, and so with the tale of Peninnah and Hannah, we cast Peninnah as the villian.

Which sets the foundation for the path that will lead us to my actual point: I have been thinking a lot about Peninnah. This woman from thousands of years ago has been heavy on my heart. At some point in our lives, every woman has been her own version of Hannah- desperately aching for something. What we are less likely to admit to ourselves, or talk about is the seasons of life where we’ve been our own versions of Peninnah. We LOVE to talk about how society or culture have made women catty, petty and manipulative. While these contributing factors haven’t helped, they merely magnify issues women struggle with anyway. At the root of Peininnah’s complete and utter bitchiness towards her sister wife, we have a woman. Period.

Peninnah was someone’s baby, she was a young girl playing with siblings and friends. She had a giggle unique to her, and had cried her fair share of guttural sobs over her own aching life hole. This woman had painful menstrual cramps, likely suffered headaches, seasonal allergies and took pride in the special way she did something. She probably spent many a night watching the stars, her arms wrapped tightly around herself. She may have spent monotonous chores imagining her life differently. This assumed villain is merely an insecure and (at least partly) broken woman. She probably woke up in the mornings feeling like shed never be enough…

She is us. Every single one of us.

Circumstances (being a husband, culture, security and comparison) created division between these two women. When a deep sisterhood and kinship could have been a beautiful thing, that is not what happened. We each have lived that story as well. Sometimes it’s about a man, a friend, a job, an ex, a law, a religion, a life choice- we still allow reasons to divide us from other women. Rather than allow ourselves to be splayed raw, and vulnerable simply for the purpose of comforting and lifting another woman from a dark and shattered place, we stay “safe” behind our walls. This may look like ignoring her, or it may look like tearing her down even more. We fear our vulnerability being wounded so deeply, sometimes, that we wound instead.

In a podcast episode I listened to, last week, with Melinda Gates, she talked quite a bit about how- when you want to bring change to an underprivileged area, you reach out to the women. We women are capable of being beautiful, unending sources of nurture and empowerment to those around us… This is nature, it is how we are designed. When we fail to embrace this, we instead fill that drive within us with negative emotions and comparisons towards other women. Peninnah and Hannah deserved better, they needed better. While the support of their husband, and his sensitivity towards Hannah’s infertility were likely comforting- had Hannah had Peninnah there to grieve with her, every single woman reading this KNOWS that would have been significantly more impactful.

Weeds and flowers are capable of residing in the same garden, but we all know that weeds are far more aggressive and will eventually choke out the healthy growth if they are allowed to remain. We are responsible for what we allow to grow in our hearts, in our minds, and what we allow to consume our thoughts…

This is kind of a jumbled mess of thoughts, but I hope, if you’ve stuck it out this long, you’re with me. Let’s make the world of womanhood be the one these two women deserved, a world we each deserve. None of us are exempt from a deep soul ache, just as not one of us is without a smudge of bad behavior towards another woman. Imagine the incredible that lives just beyond those walls of self protection, if we’d just allow ourselves exposure to soul-connect with other women.

THIS, this is what would change the world…

A Mermaid Princess…

Little girls dream and act out their fantasies of being mermaids and princesses. I know many of my fond childhood memories involved splashing around in my neighbors pool with my friends Melanie and Monique. We’d act out movies we’d seen, dance horribly to music on the radio and pretend we were mermaids almost constantly.

This was raw mermaid imagination at play, well before Ariel or the mermaid trend of these days took center stage. When I look back, the only Mermaid pop-culture references I can think of were in the cartoon of Peter Pan and the Tom Hank’s movie Splash… The mermaids we became were nothing at all like those adaptations so I’m not sure what inspired us- other than the water.

I don’t recall ever pretending to be a princess, but my youngest daughter definitely did. Her imagination was princess rich, and I loved every second of it. Up until recently, society has loudly delivered the message that such aspirations belong in childhood daydreams and deserve no place in grown-up lives. This is a truly sad thing, don’t you think? I’ll admit, as a parent, I too fell into the whole dream crushing mentality of frankly selling “reality”, responsibility and that most dreams simply don’t pay the bills… And, I mean, it’s true- most dreams don’t pay the bills. That doesn’t mean we have to stop dreaming them though. (lesson learned unideally late.)

This week’s podcast guest, Jessica is all grown up. She’s a single mom. She is a first generation daughter, whose father came from the Dominican Republic. She has grown up learning to work hard and pursue relentlessly. She has responsibilities, hardships and the many  other things we all have. What sets Jessica apart is that she also has dreams, and she fully embraces them. Jessica dreams of owning her own Pastalito food truck. Jessica also dreams of being a mermaid princess. Full of so much energy, life, light and motivation Jessica is pursuing both dreams equally, in her own ways. Check out  episode {37} by following this link to our various listening platforms. As you hear her incredible story, I hope you can find a glimmer of courage to go after your own dreams too…

What’s in a name…

It has been a hot minute since I’ve participated in a FMF writing prompt, but when the mind finds itself wide awake at 2:30 a.m. on a Friday, I have to guess it really wants to… (You can join in and link up here, or just check out the other writers who are participating!)

There are relationships in our lives where, to the other person, we often become less of an individual and more merely a title of how they feel to call us. No longer do our identities belong to those pieces of life which make us. Instead we grow, within their heads, to the villainous character they desperately need for us to be, validating their own inadequacies.

We all have the possibility of such construction, no one is except from the label creations or the being created non-consensually. Suddenly, beyond a beating heart, a mind and a flawed human being, we simply become the whatever.

This insult.

The bitch.

The whore.

The parent.

The wife.

The bad guy.

the liar.

The one.

The blame.

The name…

Often we fail to comprehend the damage we can cause by giving name to a negative thought regarding someone. To anyone really, including ourselves. Negative thoughts happen, we’re human- it’s life… But once we allow ourselves to give birth to reducing an entire person into a neatly labeled, ugly little box, things change. Toxicity sets in and decay is inevitable. Perceptions change, our ability to dwell in reality changes. We change…

Sometimes life is hard. (most times, actually) There are days we wake up ready to run the race, face the music, suit up for the fight of it- other times we don’t. These are the moments we are most at risk of ourselves, these are the times when we need to embrace the courage to process through a moment, through a thought, through a feeling and then be completely honest with ourselves. Avoid the naming, avoid the box. While it’s easy to embrace the name-game today because it balms our spirit for a moment- the grave reality is far darker, later on.

It is so much harder to undo something that never had to be done.

Hello, Summer…

It has been ages since I’ve sat down and really focussed on an intentional post within this space, so I’m just going to pretend we’re in the middle of an exchange, okay?

Sure, summer is technically 20+ days away, but we who live within the confines of an Americanized calendar operate under the summer system of Memorial Day to Labor Day, and truthfully I’m a fan of this practice. The bright blue sky outside hardly screams SPRING, and with my freshly summer pedicured toes red and ready for sandy beaches and flip flops- I am more than happy to stand up and say what we’re all thinking: Helloooo, Summer!

For the 4000 Jurassic years that I have existed within adulthood, (for the Ross Gellar’s out there pointing out the flaws in my wording, I’m pretty sure you caught my drift so, as far as I’m concerned, mission accomplished! XO) I  have had specific practices that summertime has held:

Fresh squeezed lemonaide, BBQs with friends/family, swimming, my grandma’s cobbler, warm jars of sun tea, red toenails, fireflies, long summer evenings the highest SPF of sunscreen allowed (I’m irish, after all), drive in movies and dreaming of real beach time- these made up the bulk of said summer lists…

As summer draws near, in between adulthood stresses of work and life, I have been plotting my summer reading plans. We have gotten our sunroom all ready and have been enjoying early morning cups of coffee, fresh fruit snacks and conversation in its breezes. The smell of fresh cut grass wafts through my window screens and there are cubes of cold watermelon in my fridge. Our summer plans are casual, yet carved out. (these may or may not read like this: grilled tacos, beach, grilled fajitas, beach, margaritas on the patio, hiking, beach, farmers market, beach, drive in movies, tacos, tacos, tacos…)

The really fun thing about our new home, and this being our first summer here, is that it is a SUMMER DESTINATION. Life amps up and, from what we can tell, the party gets started right about now, and wraps up around snowfall. Friends have told us all about all of the “musts”, and we are ready!

The not-so-fun, but still kinda-fun thing about our new home is that while we live at a truly beautiful beach, it isn’t the ocean. I know my heart will still long for a true sea coast, but also, I’m feeling really blessed to have this beach too.

in ALL of my adult summers, I have spent weekends at the Farmer’s Market and kept beautiful, fresh flowers in my home. Whatever we may, or may not have taken on that summer, these two things were SOLID. This is where the truly odd thing about our new home comes in-

NO FARMER’S MARKETS

NO FRESH CUT FLOWERS

Sure, re: the later, grocery stores have some. Honestly though, it’s the worst selection I’ve ever seen and they are 3-4 times the normal price. Re: the first absense- what the actual heck? Truthfully, I cannot wrap my brain around it. We are surrounded by farms. SURROUNDED. Word on the street (iow: the World Wide Web) is that there is a decent market about 90 minutes away. NINETY MINUTES. (While my heart wants to take a moment to whine about my grandma’s cobbler recipe, our summer-staple homemade ice creams, and my end of summer (most delicious ever) jam, the reality is our grocery stores do an amazing job of stocking local, organic produce. While it’s a bit spendier than the average Farmer’s Market, I am still really grateful for this so I simply can’t actually complain about it.) I just really love the experience of the market, with the community, farmers and artisans coming together… (plus then our local taco truck could set up somewhere other than a pub or brewery…)

For all the terribleness of these two things, I’ve still mustered up excitement at summer in our new city. There are a few road trips planned, lots of adventure and exploring, and both my patio & sunroom are prepared to be well lived/loved… Probably (tragically) my house is going to stay fairly flowerless, with my treasured Kate Spade vase feeling alone- but my toes plan on being sandy and my taco-loving-tummy happy, so it feels like a win for me.

What do you love about summer? Where are your favorite places to summer?