With a cherry on top…

Last week, in a post, I mentioned living at the fake ocean. A few people emailed, either chastising or seeking clarification. It’s funny because the people in our everyday lives know that I have called this sweet little cottage home my fake ocean beach house since we moved here last fall. Sure, the technical term for that would be LAKE HOUSE. I know, I know…

Back in the early days of marriage with Chw, we would play this fun little game where we’d go on and on about how we’d spend our lotto winnings. Of course, we didn’t really play the lottery because we were young and poor. Even so, we’d dream up all of the things we’d buy, the donations we’d make, the people we’d “take care of”, and the places we would go.

Being young and a little dumb, I said all of the right things that I imagined I was supposed to say like- A greenhouse, I’d build a greenhouse… (Why in the world would I want a greenhouse?) That novelty eventually wore off, as did a lot of the other sillier things I was so sure I’d want. (No, I don’t want a butler, unless it’s Carson, and he’s not real so no- no butler thank you!)

Eventually the conversations faded, but before they did, I grew into my heart. A beach house… I would buy a simple, cozy beach house. Also, I wanted a cherry tree, high to the sky and filled to the brim with cherries… Even though the lottery day dreaming had mostly gone to rest with our youth, these two things remained front and center as my biggest “someday” dreams.

When we learned of our move to the coast of Lake Erie, my husband joked that he’d finally fill-filled my dream of a beach house. Hardy-Har-Har, and actually the joke was on him because though we can see the great lake from our home, we aren’t actually ON the lake. If you’ve been to a great lake then you understand how it can be seen as a “fake ocean”. It looks close, but it’s just not the same. It was a fun little, ironic joke, for awhile.

An added bonus to our new little home was the giant cherry tree in our back yard, though to keep with the theme of “close but not quite the same” was that due to a neighbors garage blocking the sun, the giant tree only produces fruit about 2+ stories in the air. Instead of an abundance of the beautify cherries, we had rotten, partially squirrel eaten ones raining down when the winds kicked up. It is the perfect anecdote to the old warning of Be careful what you wish for, but mostly both things really make me smile. Are they what I always imagined? No. The humor of the realities though, feel perfectly in sync with this season in our lives. The tree is gorgeous, the lake is simply stunning (even in the dead of winter) and I am grateful.

Someday, a real beach house, preferably on the Pacific ocean. Someday, a huge, unobstructed cherry tree- but today, today this is home and I know I am exactly where I am meant to be.

 

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.

Grace and Forgiveness…

The Easter season has always been a personal time of reflection for me. While I may evaluate my life and own action/choices, I try to focus more on the condition of my heart.

How is my compassion? My empathy? My grace for others? Am I harboring resentments? Sometimes I may not love the answers I find, but as essential as healthy diet, rest and self-care are to our quality of life- heart tune ups are vital too. I don’t often talk about my faith in this space because unfortunately there are Christians who have sullied shared faith with judgement, exclusion and bigotry. I hope that anyone who reads in this space knows my heart is love– Period. In this season of reflection though, I can’t help but consider the final words that Jesus breathed, as he hanged there aching, broken and fading from this life: Father, forgive them, for they known not what they do. (Luke 23:34)

I want to take that loving grace and wrap it snug around myself, Warm, like a freshly scented blanket from the dryer, safe and comforting. Thank you, Jesus, for understanding ME always… Which, isn’t a bad attitude to master, really. I honestly don’t always accept that as reality though, and I certainly struggle giving myself much grace at all. I can reflect on my journey as a wife of 25 years, as an adoptive parent, and as a daughter of broken and damaged people- and I can think of these words there. Within this passage in Luke there is such deep, uncomfortable and hard to grasp truth. They don’t know what they are doing. Hurt people, hurt people. Broken people break. I can’t change how the ones I love the most will react, receive or choose- but I can keep myself in check. When I get wounded by the shards of their moment- can I give them grace? Can I remember that though I FEEL like they should know better, they truly may not?

Men beat, bloodied, relentlessly mocked and then crucified Jesus. Surely they knew it was inhumane and so wrong to take such satisfaction and pleasure from these things, and yet… And yet Jesus himself empathized and showered them with grace and, dare I say it, understanding

Have you been watching the History Channel series “Jesus: His Life”?

“Jesus: His Life” explores the story of Jesus Christ through a unique lens: the people in his life who were closest to him. Each of the eight chapters is told from the perspective of different biblical figures, all of whom played a pivotal role in Jesus’ life including Joseph, John the Baptist, Mary Mother of Jesus, Caiaphas, Judas Iscariot, Pontius Pilate, Mary Magdalene and Peter.

 

Each figure takes a turn guiding viewers through the emotional and epic story of the most famous man in history, through his birth, death and resurrection, all conveyed through a combination of scripted drama and interviews with prominent religious and historical experts. Utilizing some of the world’s most respected Biblical scholars, historians, faith leaders and theologians, the series weaves together the canonical Gospels, historical sources and cultural context to create a complete portrait of Jesus – the man and the Messiah.  The series finale airs this Monday, April 15 on The History Channel at 8pm ET/PT.

Don’t just fly…

When I was a little girl I was enamored by Dumbo. My mother loved this movie, and became a sobbing mess at the Baby Mine scene every single time she watched the VHS.

I too loved it, at first, because she loved it. I love it now for my own reasons, and admittedly I also tear up during the traumatizing melody. I know why this song pin-pricks my heart, and find myself wishing I knew why exactly that it affected hers so much…

She was not a mother, by nature.

What if, like Dumbo and Jumbo, we had lived in the Circus? What role would I play? What role would she?

She would love the animals, true. Anyone who knows her would say that immediately… However, she wouldn’t take care of them at all, really only coddle them for her own emotional fulfillment. That job wouldn’t do. No, I imagine her (though if I could ask her, she would disagree) as something between showgirl and clown. Clown Showgirl? Would that even be a thing? She would be the ever committed guys-girl, ensuing laughter with one outlandishly ridiculous performance after another. Once the night lights were dim, however, she would cast herself as a real guys-girl in other ways… Among the circus family she would be both the most loved and hated woman around.

I know this is all true.

At first I struggled to see myself…

Dirty, neglected child of a performer? Hiding with the animals, where I made friends and found solace? I imagine a childhood of days passing without seeing my mother, and seeing more her flashes of anger and belittling than the joy inducing woman seen by others, in the ring.

I know all of this is true, as well. Strip away the tent, the spotlights and the tigers and I can honestly say I have lived this childhood. A version of it, anyway.

I cannot think of Dumbo and circus life, imagining what role (within the circus) I might play, without considering my mother. It is an emotional DNA impossibility. That being said, one day the little girl would be a grown woman. She would stay with the circus long after her mother was gone because, in ways her mother never did, the girl valued family, even when family did not value her. She would care for the animals and love them as deeply as she could love anyone. She might fall madly in love with a behind the scenes designer and life would be hard, because- well, it is life- but also, circus life is hard, and this life was all she had ever known.

As time passed, she would give of herself, enabling other performers to be their very best. She would dive in and make herself needed, focussing on her ability to create, design and grow the gifts that this show could give to their audience. She would, eyes twinkling, find her most soul filling moments were when she secretly watched the children drink in the magic of human ability, animal and wonder unfolding before them.

Probably this girl would pass away in her sleep one day, an old woman, eternally unappreciated and alone. I’d like to think that it wouldn’t matter though, because she would carry the happiness she helped others find, and that she’d found joy in this too…

(Something nags at me that this post went too dark and too deep, considering it’s about a children’s movie. If you know Dumbo, and the story, it is a deep and often dark telling of so many hard to digest topics. Just like all escapes, we see only what we choose to. It is in the acceptance of the darkest parts that we find the ability to truly love ourselves completely, which is what we’re longing for others to do anyway, isn’t it?)

My birthday is on Thursday, and I will be front and center at the first local showing of Dumbo. I know it will be amazing and I cannot wait. This gift Disney has given to me, (let a girl pretend a little) is the perfect way to usher in a new life year.

Did you ever dream of joining the Circus?

What would you have done?

Are you anticipating this movie too? Here’s the trailer to hold our excitement for a few more days!

 

From Disney and visionary director Tim Burton, “Dumbo” expands on the beloved classic story where differences are celebrated, family is cherished and dreams take flight.   Circus owner Max Medici (Danny DeVito) enlists former star Holt Farrier (Colin Farrell) and his children Milly (Nico Parker) and Joe (Finley Hobbins) to care for a newborn elephant whose oversized ears make him a laughingstock in an already struggling circus. But when they discover that Dumbo can fly, the circus makes an incredible comeback, attracting persuasive entrepreneur V.A. Vandevere (Michael Keaton), who recruits the peculiar pachyderm for his newest, larger-than-life entertainment venture, Dreamland. Dumbo soars to new heights alongside a charming and spectacular aerial artist, Colette Marchant (Eva Green), until Holt learns that beneath its shiny veneer, Dreamland is full of dark secrets.  “Dumbo” soars into theaters on March 29.

 

Website: https://disney.com/dumbo

To Build…

It is Friday and that means I am again linking up with several lovely writers over at Kate’s Five Minute Friday spot!

(If you aren’t familiar, every friday we free-write for just FIVE minutes, prompted by one word. This week’s word is BUILD.)

~

The foundation was shaky, shattered, torn.

I was broken, this I knew.

My heart lived, aimed, at the idea of a family and a home. My seventeen year old daydreams saw myself with a faceless husband doing household chores in a sleeveless t-shirt, laughing with a laugh which melted my heart. I imagined no lavish excess, just a simple roof over our heads and three beautiful faceless children. I knew they were two girls and one boy, and I knew that although I could not see their faces, this feeling they pricked deep within my core was the motivation for everything.

I sat, in a breakdown. Devastated, exhausted and so damaged from break-on-top-of-break, of my scarred girl heart. That dream propelled me forward, daring to believe there had to be something more than abandonment and loss.

And there was.

It may not have been how I had thought it would be, and it certainly was not all roses and sunset kisses, once I got there, but I did build a life, despite that terrible foundation. I learned the pain, and the redemption, in tearing out that foundation and laying a new, truth-bricked one in its place.

Together, that man (whose laugh I had dreamed up at seventeen) and I built a home. It was not composed of roof tiles and painted walls, but rather a space that moved wherever we did, warmth and rich in unconditional love, support and the freedom to grow as we needed.

This home was everything neither of us had known, as children, and just what we had needed.

~

(My inspiration for this piece is the song To Build a Home by The Cinematic Orchestra. It is beautiful and it deserves a listen.)