creative, depression, family, fibro, food, friendship, gifts, gratitude, holiday, home, journey, list, marriage, self care, travel

Octobers are my favorite…

I love the beautiful simplicity of this photo. It isn’t mine, it isn’t us. There is something so beautiful about clasped hands, held together, skin-tight, love all that will fit in the between. After yesterday’s post, I wanted to take a little time before posted something far less significant. At the same time, however, looking over my list really allowed me the opportunity to be intentional about the 30 days still to loom ahead, within the month…

Home:

  • decorate for Autumn
  • more candlelit evenings
  • donate 31 things to charity
  • make candied apples
  • make my Grandmother’s apple butter

Create:

  • paper crafting projects
  • pull out the knitting needles
  • experiment more with essential oils and ways to help others with them

Relate:

  • spend time with my BFF, for the almost-week she’s visiting
  • apple picking and making memories
  • welcome my husband home and connect with him in all of the ways, before life takes us on legs of our own journeys again
  • speaking of journeys- fly to Seattle to spend time loving on my beautiful little granddaughter
  • dates with my mom
  • actively displaying gratitude and support to the staff in the nursing home
  • reaching out to connect with other women in life affirming ways

Personal:

  • (finally) meet with personal trainer
  • stick to a schedule for writing, and progress.
  • continued work with my chiropractor and kinesiology
  • hot baths, yoga and self-care

Read/Watch:

  • American Made. (dying to see this movie, even though I know it was technically as September release.)
  • The Mountain Between Us
  • Goodbye Christopher Robin 
  • Reread Alice in Wonderland
  • Braving the Wilderness 

 

What about you? What are you looking forward to, in these growing and cooling evenings? What things do you look forward to the most? Life is hard and heavy, but we still have the responsibility to love the lives we’re living and try to breathe life and beautiful in the brutal… Some days that may be all we’ve got.

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adoption, beautiful, birthday, confession, family, gifts, gratitude, holiday, infertility, journey, marriage, parenting

17/14 vision…

Seventeen years ago, three very fragile and amazingly resilient children asked me to be their mother. Being a lover of birthdays, I remember this clearly, in that mildew scented cafeteria, because it was my grandmother’s birthday. I am also, I’ll admit, a sucker for symbolism. After seven miscarriages and a failed adoption, wasn’t the very fact that it was ON my grandmother’s birthday exact proof that this was a good sign?

I know, I know. At 24, I should have been much wiser than that. The thing was, however, I loved those kids incredibly. I had not taken the job in that group home in an effort to shop for children. (A phrase my older daughter, at least, will find bitter twinged amusement in.) I had accepted the position because I needed to stand on my own and because I loved kids and was really great at my job.

I had developed various sorts of close relationships with various kids who were growing up there. Some souls simply click, but with these three it was different. The first confirmation, of the miraculous element, for me had been when I developed special relationships and felt drawn to each of them before I was really aware that they were actual siblings. The three were not particularly close to each other, and in settings like that you often have kids refer to other kids as siblings, when they aren’t. When I learned, a couple of weeks in to my tenure, that they were biological siblings I realized that pull had made divine sense.

I had not been expecting the request, when they came together to ask it of me. I was, at 24, far too immature to understand the gravity of how difficult that must have been for them, considering their journey thus far, in life. My co-worker was sitting with me and she squealed a little and remarked “this is perfect! You and those three are a beautiful combination and seeing you all together makes life make sense!”

That journey towards them was not an easy one. There was much standing in the way and honestly, at 24, if I had known exactly what the heart fight would look like, I might have run away screaming. Thank God, I didn’t. I was witness to very abusive manipulations, over the years, and a control battle over those precious spirits, that still (in recollection) makes my skin crawl. Though our journey as a family has not been at all how I would have designed it, the outcome is a familial connection that I would not trade for the world. The journey was long, and eventually one of the three found parents who were closer and a better fit. I always understood, and grieved, and in the end came to peace with the fact that I love her just the same, no matter what…

~~~

Fourteen years ago, I was approached to be the mother of a broken little four-year old girl. It was a decision that we made within a few hours, even though I found myself weather worn from my other mother-journal-struggle. (which at this point, was still going strong) My fear was that we would grow to love this tender little child and then lose her, down the road. The once-again-symbolism of my grandmother’s birthday being near, and what the journey with those three beautiful kids had been like, were not lost on me.

You see, the feared possibility was not completely unfounded. We had been the soon-to-be adoptive parents of twin girls, once upon a time. Our ten months with them were that sort of chapter where every day felt a little like this is what my soul has been waiting for, finally I am complete. Then, due to a technicality regarding a gun, an arrest method and a court loophole, they were returned to the stranger that was their mother, leaving my arms empty and my heart officially shattered…

Two days after being asked, we drove out to pick up our daughter. It was a sunny September Sunday afternoon, and I had made sure to call my grandmother, on the way over, to wish her a happy birthday. The sunshine easily acted like a promise that this time, this time motherhood might not hurt as bad, and may not end with empty arms. This little girl was a gift, but she was also a daily reminder that there were no guarantees. For a very long time I walked the tightrope of guarding my heart and that same heart diving headfirst into the sea of her child-spirit. Tens upon tens of thousands of dollars later, (and sadly a nine-year court battle which always seemed to play out more uphill than down, until we one day found it over) she was legally ours. Throughout this time, there were sadly moments when this growing girl would be used, as a pawn, to hurt our older kids. It was a sick and a meant-for-tragedy thing, and miraculously it never worked. Seeds meant to sow resentment, simply sowed love.

~~~

My beautiful, (now in heaven) grandmother’s birthday has born to me, motherhood. She was such a strong woman who held a family together in ways which I could never replicate, all the while her birthday knit together another branch of her own. My motherhood journey has been anything but traditional. Just the same, I am the mom to some of the most extraordinary humans I have ever known.

For the first time since that timid little seventeen year old request for my motherhood was asked, I am spending this day alone. In the past I have either been with my husband, visiting my kids, becoming a mom again, just with one kid, two kids, or the best of times- all three. One year we were recovering from the wedding, the day before, of my older daughter. One year we went to the Lion King on Broadway, on other we sat around eating chocolate fondue and making silly home movies for my husband because he couldn’t be with us. Somehow the day has always been special, playing out as its own sort of character within our family and lives. (fun bonus fact, my son married a beautiful girl, whom I adore, whose birthday is the day AFTER this little anniversary of ours. Attraction truly is a spiritual thing.)

This year my husband is 8,000 miles and 16 hours away. My son is in the far corners of the country doing his part to keep our nation safe. My older daughter on her own motherhood journey, waking from ringing in her own anniversary- marriage. My younger daughter, the sweet little four-year old of fourteen years ago, is on a dark and prodigal journey that this mmama heart of mine hopes will not last forever, but worries about the consequential scarring that may happen along the way. My family is a lesson to me that fighting for those whom your soul loves, is primal at best and always vital. The journey will never be scripted the way that your heart hopes, but the outcome of love will always be worth it- even when things don’t go your way.

Happy birthday, Grandma…

beautiful, chronic illness, confession, creative, depression, fibro, friendship, gifts, gratitude, journey, Lately, list, marriage, parenting, self care

the wonder…

Over the weekend I went to Toledo to attend a Beth Moore conference. Of the pages and pages of notes I penned, there is one particular thing Beth said which I have not been able to shake. Don’t misunderstand- She said a lot of truly incredible things. Magnificent and wise things which had my hand, at times, scribbling a million miles a minute just to capture a small fraction of what she shared. This one thing, however, this one particular thing split me wide open and has clung to my spirit…

When you are unable to see the Wonder (of God) anywhere in your life, that’s when it might be time to realize you are the wonder.

I mean seriously- BOOM.

There are times in my life when I have seen the hand of God all over the place, and other times when I would have to simply reassure myself by acknowledging the very miraculous wonder of my journey to motherhood, because nothing else came to mind. As bold and big as that part of my story will always be, there was never a moment when I flirted with considering my own life (or self) as any sort of wonder.

Self care is at the heart of everything I say, anymore, and yet, ironic isn’t it, that I would point to my kids, my spouse and many of my friends as the miraculous wonders of someone Holy, while ignoring the mirrored reflection I posses completely?

No, not me. I have a lazy eye. My hair gets frizzy. I screw up way too much. No one cares about what I have to say. The list can be long and go on, and on, and on.

When I want to be, I can be pretty skilled at finding joy and awe in the moment by moment “small” things. I have journals chronicling my gifts in the ordinary and often pain filled moments. I get it… But what about looking a little differently at these things? It is totally ok for me to see Elenor as a gift, my kids as gifts, my marriage, money, friends, etc… It is an endless list when heading in that direction, but if I reverse it back, it pretty much stops where it began. Am I possibly a gift? Could I be? Could I ever see myself as such a thing, and should I? This goes beyond feeling grateful that, when fibro sore legs throb, at least I have two legs to carry me. This goes beyond when an eye strain headache deblitates me, at least I have eyes to see, to read. But me? I’ll have to question and meditate on such things, but for now I have decided to challenge myself to look a little deeper.

Where is the wonder today?

Today I will photograph.

Today I will write.

Today I will capture.

Today I will create.

Today I will be still.

Today I will bridge a gap and connect.

Today I will…

And maybe it will simply be one capture, one snap shot or one written word. Perhaps my stillness will last three blissful minutes before life sets it. It does not matter the volume, only the intent motivating it. It is in these intentional acts, as well as outside of them, that I will see the wonder.

Some wonder.

Wonder…

chronic illness, confession, depression, fibro, gratitude, journey, marriage

one, two, three, one…

The mornings are cold, the dogs sneeze around bites of breakfast and I want to stress to them the importance of bundling up and cuddling but they just don’t get it. Emma, the older and grumpier of the pair, (and I say pair, but really, but they are never together and don’t like each other) would pose a threat to my life if I were to attempt a cuddle. Elenor, on the other hand, may be as shivery and sleepy as can be, and the second I attempt to snuggle she becomes a playful and ferocious beast, all teeth and wagging tail.

My husband is getting ready to say goodbye to today, as he is on the other side of the world and it is very nearly tomorrow, there. As he spends this time in the future, I find myself much more aware the time, time zones, timing. Time is a funny thing, at times it crawls, as I fear these next weeks will do. Other times it speeds by so fast, I am left dizzy and altered.

This morning I am pondering hurricane damage, flood and fire brokenness and how, though I may not love Michigan, I am very lucky to be here. So many people I love have experienced such fear and loss these weeks of calamity. The worst thing I’ve had to face, other than my husband’s departure to Australia, is a small cold and a 36 hour migraine. In the grand scheme of things, it’s a whole lot of nothing major.

Here in Michigan it did seem like Fall came out of nowhere. All of a sudden I needed to pull sweaters out of storage, and keep the kettle plugged in for cups of tea throughout the day. Don’t get me wrong, I am not at all complaining. Autumn is my favorite, but I am giving pause. With the arrival of Autumn, (after such a strange summer) i am forced to confront that winter is not far behind.

Over these next few weeks I am focussing on small things. Small goals, moving towards a healthier me, place and perspective. Today I am taking small steps towards those bullseye destinations…  Everyone knows about that one quick way to shed a few pounds, or change-up a routine, or make you an instant morning person, and that is so great. What I’m looking for however are those small things which pave the way to the bigger picture lifestyle of healthy all around. For me, this morning, that looks like an early morning walk, a smoothie for breakfast, and RX bar for snack and a reconnection with my quiet time.

For the week I aim to take in a yoga class, practice tai chi, read a book and write a letter.

Small, attainable, intentional…

beautiful, chronic illness, confession, family, fibro, gifts, gratitude, home, journey, Lately, marriage, parenting

In the dark & quiet…

Ten Fifty-Four has found me sitting, legs tucked deep, on this grey velvet couch in darkness. It is quiet, minus the hum of the air conditioner. The cable knit throw spread across my lap has been my friend today. It isn’t that I am feeling sick, or down, or sad, or tired- more or less that I seem to be a rubber-band-ball of feeling and not feeling and everything which radio signals in between. My mind, these days, sits like a dump truck carrying fifty ton loads of encyclopedia volume life-junk. As soon as I muster the bravery to dump one load, another is air dropped inside and I carry it around awhile.

We all do this, I am certainly not special.

This season I walk, barefoot, through milestones and measure-stones and sleeplessly dark evenings. I sip wine, I sip coke (zero sugar because all good things come to an end and I should stop drinking soda ((again)) all together but unfortunately there’s no room in my dump truck for such a task right now.) I sip and I ponder. I think on things, remember things, worry some, plan some, and practice letting go, letting go, letting go.

It is amazing how one Monday can flow into being, on the waves of hope and sunlight only to be followed by a new Monday bobbing along in the stormy seas of drowning agony and chaos. Such is life. Such is Parenthood. Such is home. Such is American.

America.

I saw a t-shirt the other day apologizing to the rest of the world for our president. I get it, honest. But why not toss the shirt and become an example of gracefully loving the people around us? If 100 of us did that, in just one day, we would make the world better for a minimum of one thousand people. It’s a small number within the grand scheme of America, but it’s a start. If they spread, and it grew, then we would not feel the need to apologize about anything because would actively be making the world a better place rather than spotlighting the ways in which it isn’t.

I also so a post on Instagram comparing our American and World society during the last solar eclipse verses this one. I am so sad that we as a people spotlight and high light the negative. I get it, I do. We don’t want to naively ignore reality for the escapism of nauseating cheerfulness. Totally. But say I have a mug of boiling water. I have options. I can throw the boiling water on the nearest body… I can whine about how the water is so hot, and I didn’t put the water in my mug so it isn’t my fault, and who wants a mug of water anyway when it’s early and coffee sounds better… I can steep some tea. (but what if one doesn’t like tea? Well then, I could steep some tea and share it with someone who does.) My point is, there isn’t anyone in the world who doesn’t realize what a cluster-mess the state of things are, at this given time. We all know, so why keep highlighting it, spotlighting it and throwing the boiling water on the people paying attention. Let’s close our lips and take some action.

Regarding the state of things and the world we live in…

  • Families traveled in car loads to stare at the Eclipse together. It became vacation worthy, something to meet up on the path of totality with other family members from other parts of the country. Neighbors and strangers chatted and shared in something truly extraordinary.
  • Somewhere out there someone became a widow, has a terminally ill child or is facing a terrifying operation and strangers banded together to raise money and send so much love. At no other time in history did acts like these occur at such volumes.
  • Random Acts of Kindness spread like wildfire. They are contagious, and it is not uncommon to know of someone who has done one (or ten,) or been a recipient, on any given day.
  • Flowers are still blooming, the sun still rises and sets and nature still looks as beautiful as it did then, only we have better ways of recording the proof and memory.

This is just the tip, for perspective. Yes, there is bad, ugly and worse. Let’s stop focusing on the gigantic zit on our chin, (I use that metaphorically, as well as literally, because I in fact have a giant zit on my chin.) because no matter how huge that pimple is, it is but a fraction of the rest of our appearance. Gratitude changes lives, positivity changes hearts and both lead to action. Action changes everything…

Today I did not watch the eclipse. I did not wash the dishes. I did not do a face mask. I did not read a book. I did not practice a thousand daily tasks which I probably should have done. The good news is that all of them, minus the Eclipse, will still be there tomorrow. Hopefully the things I did do today count for something, and if not, well, I will shoot for that again tomorrow too.

This night I sip my Coca Cola and squint against the harsh light beaming from this laptop screen. Not too far from my feet sits a wicker basket piled high with neatly folded towels. On the other side of the wall at my back, lay my handsome husband breathing soundly. The air conditioner is still singing, which tells me two things. One, it must be fairly dense and humid out despite the wind rustling the trees. Two, my power company is loving me.

Within this dark evening, wrapped in this blanket, I have nothing really vital to say. I simply have observations. Lots of nonsense, I am sure. My dump truck has a lot of room.