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?

When willing…

On Fridays Kate, over at Five Minute Friday, hosts a fun writing prompt and link up. Over the summer I’ve been so busy, that I haven’t been great about joining in, but I’m back to day. (ready and… Willing! ha!)

Basically, we free write for five minutes, using the prompt… And here, I go-

Last night my husband and I were driving home when we nearly hit a dog. Reluctantly, at my insistence, my husband pulled the car over and I jumped out. The beautiful, and obviously very brave, German Shepherd came straight to me. He was so sweet, and also traveling with an adorable Pit Bull friend. They were both so loving, and one had a limp. They’d come running from the parking lot of an animal hospital, so my first thought was that this was all somehow connected.

There were people to call, weren’t there?

Hours later, as it turns out, there were not.

Thanks to a trusting stranger, we met in the dead of night, we followed a (cold) digital trail and eventually found the owner. Success! (despite a frustrated and tired husband, who easily could have just gone home without stopping, and was pretty determined that these sweet boys living their best lives, in our back seat, would not be sleeping over.)

This morning, my husband was putting gas in his car on the way to work, (something we were going to do last night, just before I decided to play Snow White, and rescue all of the animals) when a woman frantically approached him begging for money, for gas, because she was stranded. We seldom carry cash, so he decided instead to put $10 worth of fuel, in her car. Once their interaction was done, he witnessed her hit up several other people for cigarettes and cash, before he drove off to work, feeling like a fool.

Sometimes stepping up is hard, and ALWAYS stepping up will require sacrifice. Whether it’s money, time or a missed opportunity, something will be lost in exchange for the effort. In the end, it doesn’t matter if they were deserving. (the dogs were! The dogs were so sweet and I wanted to keep them forever, but I wanted to keep my husband more!) What matters is that we were willing to do it at all…

What did you believe?

What were the beliefs you shaped, as you celebrated birthdays inching closer and closer to forty? Are you still on that journey, dreading those four decades of candles? Does that dread stem from reasons you possibly don’t really understand?

Growing up in America, I experienced the message of 40’s wickedness coming at me from many angles. Media, film, print, and the women I knew who crossed that threshold before me. At some point, around 32, I began to hear women whispering revolt to these society driven ideas, sharing about how their lives began at 40, or were simply better at 40. I allowed a fragment of hope, but also, I noticed these thoughts came after the dreaded age, and perhaps this was spoken within the context of “those lies we tell ourselves”.

My truth is that this past March I turned 43.

Three years ago, when I turned 40, I had- HANDS DOWN- the very worst birthday imaginable. (for anyone keeping score, it’s true- I’m prone to “bad” birthdays) This years celebratory event reminded me that life’s circumstances, as well as the actions of other people, aren’t really the things which should be defining our lives. The past few years have absolutely been among the most hurtful and challenging that I have known. That the fact though, life happens… Yours, mine, bad seasons, beautiful seasons and a whole gaggle of mediocre in-betweens. I’ve been frank, but the question remains: Is life better in my 40s?

It is.

Obviously there is no magical age which stops all of the out-of-our-control elements. It isn’t that I’m “living my best life” now, but it is true that I AM DIFFERENT. I care more, (and more intentionally) about the important things. I don’t care about the toxicity, the drama or the elements that simply aren’t worth my energy any longer…

Stemming from a brief social media exchange about this very topic, I invited my new friend Ritu to be a guest on The Collective Podcast. You guys, this lady is PURE light- and not because, now that she’s 40, she has it all figured out… She’s just lovely, and her life of experience (good and bad, just exactly like the rest of us!) has led her to this beautiful point in life. She’s working on a novel, that I personally can’t wait for, but her poetry book Poetic RITUals is available now! Come listen to Episode 40, and if you haven’t already, please subscribe!

Are you heading to 40, and worried? Are you past that point, and different?

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…

the b word…

There are fewer, (non-vulgar) words that cause such angst and division among women like the “B word”.

Not THAT one… Bikini.

Half of women love them and can’t wait for sunshine and waves to don theirs. Some women, (fictitious, maybe?) solidify their bathing suit/bikini shopping as a true summer milestone adventure. The other half of us, don’t. Trying bathing suits on can be super depressing, but when you add in the idea of a bikini…

And it is an even harder thing because, though sometimes we women really feed our insecurities by the negative and mean things we are so certain the world around us is saying- when it comes to swimwear people do have opinions. Strong opinions…

Have you ever encountered one of those overly concerned types, who are so worried about your health/heart/lifespan/__________ that they just feel they must discuss your weight (or someone else’s) ? Maybe you are one of those people, feeling validated in your certainty that a person is overweight because they make terrible choices, are lazy, and you magically have just the right words to turn this all around for them? If this feels familiar, please enunciate the following words as you read them:

You do not know what you are talking about and need to zip it. Period. (if you’re like me, and you aren’t one of those “joy spreaders”, then soak in those words too, except replace YOU with THEY.) Why should you do this? Because it is true.

I’m not going to dive into statistics because we are all capable of googling and finding our own fact based research, but a few fun facts:

  • a seemingly fit, size four woman is absolutely capable of having raging cholesterol issues and developing type 2 diabetes.
  • If being overweight, (let’s all stop referring to people as FAT. no one IS fat, they have fat. We all HAVE FAT, and if you don’t, then rush to the doctor immediately because something is seriously wrong with you. Also, if you are a woman, read the book Why Women Need Fat, because it is both scientific and enlightening…) were an immediate death sentence, there wouldn’t be so many people who are overweight. Why? There would be a lot more funerals.
  • There are genetics, environmental conditions, hormones, stresses, economic issues and several other factors that play into what a person weighs.
  • It is ignorant to assume someone sits around watching soap operas and eating twinkies.

Ok, I’m stepping off of my soapbox, because none of that is the point. What is the point? you may ask.

Let’s stop looking at other people through the lens of what we imagine (or know) their BMI is. Let’s stop looking at other people through the lens of our discomfort over their skin color, size, disabilities, sexuality, gender, etc.

Behind all of those things that we allow to cloud our vision exists a person. A lung breathing, heart beating human being with their own stories, their own triumphs and their overwhelming struggles. Let’s start seeing the people. Size does not matter, color does not matter.

Let’s just love. Let’s act in love. Let’s move, and think and see love.

Love.

In this weeks episode (39) of the Collective Podcast, Myself, Maggie, Jennie and Marion are chatting about why the Disney Princesses may not be so bad, we’re talking bikinis, self love, accepting things about ourselves that we don’t love and what exactly Body Positivity is… It’s a great chat and we hope you’ll join us!