Saturday, August 23, 2014

There Is Only One Of Us Here

There is this idea of a thing called the "Collective Unconscious", which was introduced by a psychiatrist named Carl Jung in the early 1900's. I find it fascinating. He proposes that there is this idea of a personal unconscious, which is a sort of reservoir of experience that is unique to each individual. It's that weird, underlying place in your brain that is responsible for things like dreams and deja vu and those gut reactions that who knows where they come from. Then, he says, there is also a collective unconscious, which is NOT unique to individuals but is inherent in all of us and is, at it's base level, universally the same in all of us. So he's saying that for all people (or things with souls, if you want to go there), there is a collective sameness in our psyches...that maybe, underneath our individuality and all the nuances that make us unique people, we've all got the same baseline thoughts and motivations and survival strategies. It's like a giant invisible cord or web that connects every person on the planet. I love it. I love individuality and I love diversity and I love that all humans are made of basically all the same parts...2 eyes, 2 ears, a nose, a neck, two legs....but the subtle differences in the way those things are put together make us all look completely different. I find that amazingly beautiful. So different and so much the same.

Then some spiritual teachers go even further than the idea that we're all linked by a similar nature. They go to the point of saying that at the most basic part, we are all exactly the same. Seven billion people. We are all exactly the same. There is only one of us here on this planet.

I have no idea if I agree with that idea or not. I don't need to agree or disagree but I think it's a beautiful concept. To be able to look at another person and instead of focusing on the things that are different about us, the things that we disagree on, to decide that in fact, you are not separate from me. That would make all the difference....for all of us, I think.

In her book, My Stroke of Insight, Jill Bolte Taylor writes about her experience having a stroke and describes what it was like to be functioning with only the right hemisphere of her brain. And she was a neuroscientist, so she has a really interesting perspective. Anyway, in the book she says this, "As members of the same human species, you and I share all but one hundredth of one percent of identical genetic sequences. So biologically, as a species, you and I are virtually identical to one another at the level of our genes. And there's only one hundredth of one percent difference, and that is what makes all the difference." That emphasis is mine but SERIOUSLY PEOPLE, all we can focus on are the minuscule things that make us different?

I've been going through some massive life changes lately. I'm learning about a billion new lessons daily, and I honestly realize the older I get, the less I really know. And that makes me a much better person. Some lessons come the hard way and some of them float nicely into my consciousness without too much struggle. But I'll tell ya what, the process of becoming a more authentic version of oneself is a painful process. Showing up and being real and allowing myself to be seen, really seen by people feels terrifyingly brave on a minute by minute basis. But it is necessary in order to have life, to be fully alive, to be LIVING instead of just NOT DYING. But it's raw and it's scary and to everyone else, a person being more authentic can just look different. You're acting differently, you're speaking differently, you're existing differently. And those things are scary because most of us surround ourselves with people who are mostly the same as we are. There's comfort in that, and it's not only societal, it's human nature.

I certainly have no answer for how to solve this problem. I'm not even sure that I'm suggesting it IS a's just how things are. But here's what I am suggesting: Love covers differences. Love stands in the gaps; those minuscule gaps that we train ourselves and our kids to see and to enlarge into barriers. And I'm not talking about love that floats out in space as this happy little conceptual idea. That kind of love says "Sure, I love you, as a feeling or a thought, but I don't really know how to love you, how to speak to you, how to show up, so I'm going to keep a safe distance". That doesn't cover differences, it's a response to differences and there's not a lot of vulnerability there. I'm talking about hands-on, feet in the trenches, dirty face, actual, practical, active love. That kind of love says, "I will do life with you. I will hear you out and I won't judge. Instead I'll use my energy to show compassion and meet your needs". And I think that's the only way we'll ever be able to know the hearts of the people who look or behave or believe differently than us. This is not a new or earth-shattering idea. I'm not that smart. It's been around for thousands of years and brilliant people have been teaching it since teaching was a thing. Buddha wasn't a Buddhist. Jesus wasn't a Christian. Muhammad wasn't a Muslim. They were teachers who taught love.


Love was their religion.

And if those three met each other today, I think they'd sit down together at a rustic farm table, pour out some Guiness or some fair trade tea, and notice each others differences. They would notice, they would respect, and they would love. Hell, they might even TALK OPENLY about their differences. Horror of horrors. Love would stand in the gaps. What an outrage. And that would be their common ground...outraging those around them by having the audacity to actively love people who are different. Gosh I want to be their friend.

This feet-in-the-trenches love is something that I've never been good at. Like I said, it requires vulnerability and that's not something that I've ever been comfortable with but I'm trying it out for the first time. And guess what? It's not killing me! It's opening me up and I'm grateful for that. I'm grateful for the discovery that hey, there's only one of us here. There is no separation between you and I. We're the same. We're a couple of spirits trying to navigate our way through a rough world and we're both just doing our best. Cheers to that. To individuality and to the blessed sameness.

Ps...I'm also grateful for the bravery of these girls and their words. Crushing the differences and robbing stereotypes of their power. Amen.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Life lessons from swings and dark places

     I had a conversation with my four-year-old daughter the other day that was so enlightening to me. I had been at work during the day and I came home while my mom was playing outside with the kids. The boys were filthy and happy and bopping around the back yard but I could see that Ella was upset about something. She came and sat next to me while I tried to comfort her and to understand what was wrong. We were sitting close to my mom who explained to me that Ella had taken a sort of nasty fall off of her swing just a minute before I pulled in the driveway. Ella continued not to talk so I just assumed that she was embarrassed because of falling and I snuggled her a little bit and then let it go. About an hour later, after my mom had left and things were calm Ella climbed into my lap and said she was ready to tell me why she had been in a funk earlier. She said, "I fell off my swing and I fell right down onto my face and it really hurt."
     "Ok", I said. "I bet that did hurt and I'm so sorry about that. But Grandma asked you what was wrong and you wouldn't tell her. And I asked you what was wrong and you wouldn't tell me either. You need to use words to explain to us what's going on so that we can help you."
     "I just didn't want Grandma to worry about me," she said. I paused to try to understand why that mattered to her.
     "Well honey, people only worry about you because they care about you. How would you feel if you told Grandma that you got hurt and she said she didn't care? When someone loves you they never want to see you hurt or upset. It's hard for them."
     And then she kicked my ass.
     "But I just wanted her to let me be hurt and upset."

     Yes. I got it.
     Don't we all? Don't we all need that from the people we love sometimes? For them to just allow us to feel the hurt that we feel without trying to make it better, without the bright side, without us having to worry about what our own feelings will do to theirs? We don't need our people to be "strong" enough to handle us and handle our low points. We just need them to be ok enough and human enough to sit in our dark places with us and not be afraid and not scurry around to turn on the light because it feels safer that way. Please don't try to pick me up. Just lay down next to me and remind me that I'm not alone. Love me in this place the same way you loved me when I was feeling more whole, when I was a little easier to love. Lay down next to me...maybe not forever, but maybe just for as long as it takes me to learn to love myself in this place, to love myself through this trial.

     Sometimes, there are trials through which we simply cannot love the people we should or wish we could. I have had to let go of my own father because his level of toxicity was too much for me to bear and it began to rob me of my own health. It is the great sadness of my life that I don't really have a dad even though he's alive and we live in the same city, but what's more, that I couldn't find a way to love him in his dark place. And this has become a learned behavior for me. I am a person who can sense a needy person from four thousand miles away. I have sensors for this that have become hardwired into my nerve endings. If you begin to expect and demand too much from me, more than I think I can give, my red flags are ding, ding, dinging up ALL over the place. And then I will cut you off, freeze you out, and shut myself down just to protect my own well-being.

     I know now, that that only happens because I have a terribly hard time loving myself. I don't care if that sounds cliche, it is the absolute truth. And if you're nodding your head right now, it's likely that it is the truth for you as well. Some of us, if we were not loved well growing up, have not learned to love ourselves well in adulthood. There is always a little something inside us that tells us we are (for some unknown but deeply understood reason) unworthy of love and belonging. I am like a starving child over there in the corner and if you come at me asking me to share my lunch with you, an abundance which I certainly do not have to give (I can't even feed myself), I will cut you off, freeze you out, and shut myself down because can't you see I'm starving over here??

     This past year, I have taken a trip to hell and back...actually I'm not sure if I'm back yet but I am definitely stumbling along the rugged path. And it wasn't until I was in the place where I was asking my people to share their lunch with me, to love me in my dark place, that I learned how to give that love as others AND to myself. I fell off my swing and slammed into the ground face-first and I needed to just sit with someone who would allow me to to be hurt and upset. And some of my people couldn't do it. I understand why because I have been that person and I have felt those red flags. But some people have absolutely blown me away with their ability to show love and compassion and to keep showing up even when I don't seem to be getting better. They have taught me how to love others and to love myself and I am so deeply and wholly thankful for those people that I don't even know what to do with it all.

     The thing is, I'll always be a some form or another. That's just me and that's ok. The closet of self-improvement is a lonely place to be. I'm done with that. I'm just loving myself right here right now and showing up for life AS IS. And then, miraculously, that is the place where self-improvement happens. Who knew??

     I'm so grateful to be learning this lesson. I'm so grateful that I can be the kind of mom who allows my kids to be hurt and upset and struggling and confidently tell them that that's ok baby, I love you right here. Your confusion doesn't scare me, your mistakes don't make me uncomfortable, our disagreement on this subject doesn't negate my love for you one bit. I'm in it with you and FOR you no matter what knee you scrape or what your life ends up looking like. It is such a gift to be able to love myself this way and love my kids and other people this way. I've had some excellent teachers. None of them are perfect, they're all human and stumbling along their own rugged paths. And this is what I hope to show my kids. I want them to say, "she was human and she let it show and she never withheld love when I was human too."

     Thanks Ella, for showing me that it's ok to face-plant and to feel hurt for as long as necessary until I'm ready to get back on my swing again. The swing is worth it.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Life is Brutiful

I read a book a while ago called "Carry On, Warrior" by a woman named Glennon Doyle Melton. She also has a blog that's fantastic. If you are a human being and you find yourself having a hard time adjusting to life on this planet, do yourself a favor and read her stuff. She's one of the brilliant people I've found this past year who is helping me to get healthy in my head. And if you know me, you know that's one hell of an expedition.

So Glennon, she writes a lot about living in the "and/both". She says that a lot of people believe very deeply that things have to be "either/or", black or white, right or wrong, good or bad. But sometimes, LOTS of times, life and people are just so AND/BOTH. Yesterday was a glaring example that this is my truth. I am and/both.

I was at the hospital for a birth from noon on Monday to 2pm on Tuesday. This is and/both. I was very excited that one of my clients was going to be welcoming her baby into the world a few weeks early and I was elated to be able to be there with her and to support her. But by 3am, I'd say  both of our excitement was waning. She was strong and steadfast...I was exhausted. But I rallied and she was amazing and she birthed a beautiful baby boy the next day around 1pm. Being a doula is exceptionally gratifying AND very difficult. I mean, come on. I get to see people welcome their babies into the world. My job is to literally witness miracles. And people PAY me for it! That is ridiculous. I KNOW that I am doing what I'm supposed to be doing with my life because I come alive when I do it. Also, it's rough. It can be really physically demanding...during any given birth, I am often doing some form of rubbing, holding, pressing, lifting, jamming, shoving, or bending any part or whole of a woman. It's emotionally demanding...I respond to very different individuals in their most vulnerable moments with whatever they need most at that time. I may have to be comforting or stern, respectful but blatant, or reassuring, or soothing, or calming, or encouraging, or confident, or ALL of the above within the span of a few hours depending on what the situation demands. It's hard on my schedule because it's totally unpredictable. When I say goodbye to my kids, I have no idea how long it will be until I see them again. It's sometimes hard to piece together childcare. It's hard to have more than one glass of wine at any given dinner if I have a client on the calendar for any time that month. I mean come on, you gonna mess with my wine? You BETTER be having a baby. And it is tiring. I'm up for days at a time sometimes with a laboring mama and the difference between her and I (well, one of many) is that I don't have any awesome hormones coursing through my body enabling me to do hard work. But I've got love, and I've got a responsibility to a woman, and I've got determination not to let her down. My work is AND/BOTH. I love it deeply, AND it's rough at 3am. I am weary and drained of all my physical and emotional reserves AND in that moment I get to watch a woman hold her new born baby to her chest and they look at one another like they know each other so well and are still quite fascinated to be finally meeting. Both of those things peacefully coexist in the same space.

So yesterday after I left the hospital, I went home to relieve my mom from watching my kids. My plan was to let them watch TV until their brains completely rotted through so that I could sleep on the couch because I hadn't slept since the previous night. And about one minute into executing my awesome plan, I remembered that I had signed the twins up for a gymnastics class and their first class was happening in like an hour. Lawd have mercy. Ok. "Get you head in the game, Sam", I said to myself. I convinced myself to rally once again and get the kids ready and out the door to a full-filled new experience. Because my brain was at the point where it was figuratively shitting the bed, I had forgotten that new experiences are NEVER fun-filled for my kids. Maybe it's because I'm kind of a coddler or because they've never done daycare, or just due to their personalities, but they FREAK out when trying new things. So I totally forgot to dread this new experience and I got everyone into athletic clothes and out the door. When we got to gymnastics, I stopped into the office to let them know it was our first class and we were clueless. The office person told us we'd be with Miss Katie, or whatever her name was. She seemed adorably sweet so I reassured the kids that she would take good care of them and we got their coats and boots off and ready for class. They were both tentative but because I had zero compassion coursing through my veins at that moment, I told them to get THEIR heads in the game and get onto the floor. They each were crying as they walked out to do some stretching on a carpet square and I quietly asked if the universe could just do me a solid here and please help keep them calm. And THEN the adorably sweet teacher girl stood up and EXITED the floor and was replaced by a muscular, stern-faced, middle-aged MAN who began showing stretches to the kids and my kids LOST. IT. The other children in the class were unfazed as they pointed and flexed their little toes but both my kids turned around and ran out to me literally screaming and crying. As if he had just walked out there and bashed each of their heads with a baseball bat. They gripped my legs and clung to me as if their lives depended on it. And this scene was witnessed by no less than 50 other moms. I had no patience. I had no grace. I told them to stop their crying and get back out there. This was one of those times that I definitely should have said ANYTHING other than what I really thought but I just had no filter. They cried uncontrollably and I just sat there watching them and telling them I didn't feel bad, there was nothing wrong, and cry me a river, whatever, but get back out there! Not my best parenting moment. And I knew in my mind that ALL those other sweet, calm, moms were watching me and cringing at my lack of any human emotion and totally judging me and feeling sad for my kids that they had such a tyrant of a woman as their mother. And I seriously did not even care. A real low point. I sat there while they cried the kind of cries where they cannot even catch their breath and I just wagged my finger in their faces telling them to get over it and I thought I would have to either carry them out there by the scruffs of their necks, or completely fail and just take them home. But then came my second miracle of the day. One of the moms went out to the gym floor, fetched her son, brought him back to where I was angrily sitting with my wailing children, and helped him to ask Brett and Ella if they would like to go with him to bounce on the trampoline. Then the heavens parted and the angels sang, and B & E each wiped away their own tears and nodded a tentative yes to this kind little boy. And off they went to be with their class.  I looked at that mom from my spot on the floor with Levi still clinging to me and I dropped one dramatic tear and mouthed "thank you" from the bottom of my weary busted heart.

I mean this woman was thin and well-dressed and she was perfectly type cast for my brain-story of all the perfect, snotty, judgey moms throwing stones around me. I raggedly told her about how this is the third sport we've tried and I can't get my kids to stop crying through everything and I'm so tired of being the coddling mom and I'm so TIRED because I haven't slept in two days and I'm just not sure I'm doing anything right as a mother. And she hugged me and looked me in the eye and told me she had been there and was still often there. Then every other mom of every other kid in their class reassured me that they knew how I felt and that we are all positive that we're failing as parents. Seriously, it came right out of a Hallmark movie, people I cannot make this stuff up. Just when I was sure that I was awful and so were the people around me, they had compassion and came to my rescue. Yes, I was kind of rotten to my kids. Yes, I'm so freekin sick of them being scared of everything. I'm so freekin sick of ME being scared of everything. And yes, people can be mean and nasty but people are more often kind and caring and helpful and beautiful. And that was a really good reminder for me.  Brett and Ella never looked back at me for the whole class. They bounced, they flipped, they hung and spun and jumped and smiled for the entirety of the hour. THIS is and/both.

Gosh it was a really exhausting day. But I'm learning that you can only win when you are vulnerable. You've got to fall in order to prove that you can get back up. You've got to care for others and you've got to sometimes let yourself be cared for. I'm tired because I felt dogged and ragged and rescued and rejuvenated. I'm tired because it takes a lot of energy to be emptied out and then filled back up again. But this is life. It's not either/or.

Life is Brutal.  And life is beautiful. Life is brutiful.

Thank you, Glennon for teaching me that that's ok.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Good Riddance, 2013. Don't let the door hit ya.

It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.

I couldn't think of anything original to explain that 2013 has been both the best and (among a few others, the) worst year of my life. Holy crap, I cannot wait to bid good riddance to this year. And I also cannot wait to continue the momentum of this year. I've been living in a massive dichotomy of being and I'm just so ready to stabilize. But maybe that's a pipe dream.

I haven't blogged in forever because it's basically just RUDE to blog from the depths of hell. Ain't nobody in a good mood down there, least of all me. And even though writing is a therapeutic release for me, blogging is entirely too public of an avenue to take when a journal will suffice and will never judge or disagree with me. Plus this year I've been focusing much more on intake than on output. So I read a lot. And a I write a little. But I've decided to return to my keyboard because I am finally lacking one key ingredient that has kept me away: fear. And oh I am a million times lighter without it.

This year began ugly. It's like when the ball dropped for 2013, they dropped it out of the ugly tree and it hit every branch on the way down and then it rolled into my living room and ran me over with all its ugly. And then from there, it got uglier.

I've had two entities basically rule over my whole life so far: fear and self-doubt. Every single decision I've ever made, every direction I've ever gone, every thought I've believed have been filtered through fear and through the assumption that I totally suck. There are one hundred thousand different factors that have influenced that behavior in me, none of which I'm going to drag you through, but it has been a vicious, vicious cycle. It goes around and around and it always ends up in the same place...more fear and self-doubt, self-loathing even, if I may be so dramatic. Twenty thirteen began in that very place.

And it's a little ironic that finally, oh sweet heavens FINALLY, I learned to just stop hating myself right in the midst of the ugliest I had ever been. For once, for the first time, I actually believed that there is NOTHING WRONG WITH ME. I mean, don't get me wrong...there are lots of things wrong with me. So. Many. Things. BUT...that's ok! I actually (through so many books, and journaling, and meditating, and introspection, and UNlearning a ton of what I had always been taught) believed that I'm alright. I mean...I didn't decide to ACT like I believed it, I didn't believe it in hopes that it would actually HAPPEN, I mean I wholeheartedly discovered that it is truth and it is a fact that I am good. I am enough. Just me. Right now. Just the way I am. It's not that I'll be good if I get my patience level up to a certain standard, or if I fit into a smaller size jeans, or if I pray an increased number of times per day, or if I bite the bullet and switch to organic chicken already. It's that I'm good now, today, here, just like this. I'm good with the mistakes I made today that I swore yesterday I wouldn't make again. I'm good with split ends. I'm good with feeding my kids boxed macaroni and cheese. I'm good with a house full of furniture from craigslist. I'm good even if I have to ignore my kids every once in a while to hide in a closet to play Ruzzle when I've hit my limit of how many times I can watch them jump off the couch and act like it was awesome before I LOSE MY GOURD.  I don't need to gain or change or achieve anything to finally be worth something.


I am not under the impression that I'm perfect. It's very much the opposite. I feel totally comfortable with my imperfections...well, ok, not ALL of them. I've got some couple thousand stretch marks that I'm not comfortable with. But I'm getting better. And...AND...I can finally stop holding every other person up to the same unachievable standard to which I held myself. And holy crow, nothing has been more liberating to me than that. And I have learned and practiced and loved the art of human connection...more on becoming a Doula later :)

So in that sense, it's been the best of times.

It's also been the worst of times, and I'm not going to write about that specifically. That's a story that needs to die. It's one of those things that probably doesn't have a silver lining. It won't be worked out for good. And I will say this, the idea that God won't give us anything we can't handle is total crap. Here is a great article for more on that. But truly, there are so many things in life that are beyond our ability to handle...or at least beyond our ability to handle with any sort of grace. And that's where I've a graceless pile of crap. And trying to get out of that has been, well, trying. It's been exhausting, soul-sucking, frustrating, infuriating, and at times debilitating. But having to spend time debunking the myths in my life has also been freeing, enlightening, and life-giving. And I haven't quite landed yet. I'm still very much in process but I'm loving the direction in which I'm headed. And I love the people I'm headed there with. Being in the deep-dark can tend to be a serious sifting tool for the people in your life. It's been amazing to me to find who has stuck with me through my weird time in my ugly little chrysalis. I will be forever grateful to and forever in love with the friends who have stuck by me and supported me.

So come on 2013, just go away, I'm so over you. Let me start new and fresh and whole and accepted. Twenty-fourteen may be better or it may not, but I am better. Joseph Campbell says, "The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are". Now that I have finally allowed myself to be who I am, I'm looking forward to the privilege of my life, no matter what it brings. But it would be super awesome if it could drop just a little bit prettier ball into this year.

And surely you'll buy your pint cup.
And surely I'll buy mine.
And we'll take a cup o'kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

Monday, August 27, 2012

When God answers your prayers, you might want to jack someone up.

Some friends and I are just finishing up a bible study by Beth Moore called "Stepping Up". It's a study on the Psalms of Ascent. Specifically they are Psalms 120-134 and they are the words that the Hebrews sang as they made their way to Jerusalem to worship at the Temple. As a group, these Psalms are about becoming closer to God (as the pilgrims got closer to the Temple). Psalm 120 starts in a place of darkness, of "woe is me". And Psalm 134 ends in a place of praise and looking toward heaven.

In the study, at the conclusion of each Psalm, Beth (we're on a first name basis, she and I) encourages the reader to pull out the one most meaningful part of the Psalm and rewrite it in a personal way. About 10 weeks ago as I began the study, I rewrote part of Psalm 120 as a personal prayer. I asked God to deliver me from solitude.

This may seem like an odd prayer because I am married (to the most social human being on the planet), I spend my days caring for my MSC (many small children), and I have some great friends. I mean, I am almost NEVER alone. So deliverance from solitude seems like a peculiar thing to pray for but here's what I meant: I have two things working hard against me when it comes to relationships -

1) I am by nature (or nurture?) a non-communicator
2) I am exceptionally adept at the art of self-preservation

These things do not lend themselves to the ease of interpersonal relationships. I don't make friends terribly easily. I don't maintain them easily. It takes a lot of work and intentionality for me to feel like I've contributed a normal amount to someone.  And once I have gotten to the point that I feel close with a person, I will usually spend the rest of my days wondering when that person will finally run for the hills because of something I've said or done wrong. I feel like I'm constantly on the defense and guarding my heart juuuust enough so that I am not totally broken when the moment finally comes that someone I care about will inevitably give up on me. Let's not go into all the twisted reasons that I think like this...I pay someone top dollar to sit in a room with me and hash that crap out. POINT BEING...I feel that I am often in solitude because I'm rarely totally involved or totally vulnerable to others, so I feel kind of alone a good chunk of the time.

And the beauty of that sad situation is that I serve a God who is not scared of my heavy. He hates that I preserve myself because he's the author and empower-er of vulnerability. He created us to need him and to need one another. So I know that when I ask him to deliver me from solitude, I can EXPECT him to come through on that. He is happy to oblige. And he is strong enough to pull me up out of it. He is absolutely bringing me victory. I expected him to...I just didn't know it would have to involve so much more heavy.

I don't really have a ton of friends. I have a handful of girls that I am absolutely head over heels for and I am honored to call them my besties. Ok, I never actually say the word "besties", but I am honored that they ever choose to spend time with me. And lately it seems like almost every one of them is going through something SO heavy and so heart-wrenching and so life-changing. Ya know those people who say "don't sweat the small stuff"? And that it's really all just "small stuff"? I'm in a season of life where I am ready to jack those idiots up.

I have a friend who has fought with everything she has in her for SO long now just to save her father's life and to hopefully have him show her love the way a father should. No little girl should ever have to fight for her daddy to love her. Or ever have to fail.

I have a friend who has had a deep desire to be a mama for her whole life and she just had to look at her fourteenth negative pregnancy test.

I have a friend who remembers her youngest child by looking at two tiny ink footprints on a piece of paper that the hospital gave to her.

I have a friend who just brought home two sweet children from Ethiopia to be part of their family. Those kids are showing signs of so much hurt and brokenness in the deepest parts of their souls and there are no quick answers on how to help heal them.

It's not all small stuff.

Sometimes it's huge. Sometimes it's heavy. And sometimes it happens to all the people you love all at the same time.

These are certainly not my stories to tell. It's not happening to me and it's not my  heavy. But oh my word, I cannot believe how heavy it feels. I've spent most of this afternoon in tears over all the things that are having to be endured by the people I love. There is no separation happening here. Is this what vulnerability feels like? Is this the byproduct of a lack of preservation? It's hard. I get why I haven't really done it for almost 30 years. But I get that the Lord is teaching me something. If one is going to come out of solitude, one will have to bear their wounds and be willing to help suture the wounds of others.

I feel so so blessed in my life for the friends that I have. I am awful at expressing that to them, but I'm pretty convinced that I have stumbled onto the best group of girls on the planet. They are each a specific answer to prayer for me. And Jesus is teaching me how to love them. He's showing me a tiny fraction of what it feels like to carry the burdens of others. It's painful. It's messy. It begs my tears and robs my sleep. But what a lesson to learn from the One who carried the heavy for all of us. He literally wrote the book on it.

I'm so thankful for this lesson. Although I ache so badly for the ache in the hearts of others. I know my God does too. I don't know why he allows these things to happen. But I know that he is good in the face of it all. My prayer is that this season of "woe is me" will give way to a season of praise. It may be a long journey but I have faith that God will hold our hands up those steps if we're brave enough to put one foot in front of the other.

"Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning." -Psalm 30:5

That's a promise, friends. Joy cometh.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Mama's got a brand new bag

I gained 75 lbs. when I was pregnant with the twins.

Let me repeat that.

SEVENTY FIVE POUNDS! That is a TEENAGER. I could have strapped a teenage girl to my person and walked around for months. It probably would have been much more attractive than what was actually going on anyway.

So this pregnancy was a little easier on me, I only gained 50 lbs. Moderate. And now I have 30 left of those to lose. I know this information is really nobody's business but I'm about to lose it...the weight, not my mind. And I figure that if I throw it out there to blogger who-knows-how-many-people-may-be-reading-this land, then I'll have a little extra accountability because I'll be mortified if I say I'm going to lose it and then I don't. I had to wait for two things in order for the weight loss to commence. The first was that I had to stop, uh, how shall I say this?...the continuing effects of giving birth. And the second was that we had to be back in the place where I was making all of our meals. There were so many wonderful, generous people bringing us meals after Levi was born and I appreciated it so much, but if my thighs had endure one more pot pie, things were gonna get ugly. So both of those things have, in fact, come to an end and I am now ready to roll.

So I officially signed up for Weight Watchers again today. I was so completely irritated inspired by Jennifer Hudson strutting her skinny swag all over the walls of the place. She looked so happy to have lost her teenage girl. So I'm on board. Great. Say goodbye to a lot of money per month and and say hello to so much brussel sprouts.

The other thing I'm doing is a "Couch to 5K" running program. This is totally miserable for me. It's great exercise and it's like running for dummies but I'll tell you what...for a person who HATES running with the passion of a thousand fiery demons, this ain't easy.  I mean, my newborn is not really on a nap schedule yet and the twins only nap once a day for an hour and half. So in order for all three of my kids to be sleeping at the same time, all the cosmos and the stars need to align and God himself must bestow his favor upon my day. And when that happens, I have one gojillion things to do that I can choose from like, oh I don't know:
throw in a load of laundry
catch up on Glee or Idol or DWTS
clean up after breakfast/lunch/dinner from the night before
read a book
So why, why, WHY would I throw all of those options aside and instead VOLUNTARILY enter into CARDIAC ARREST?? I mean really I'm not being modest when I say that I'm not a good runner. But so help me, if I have to listen to this song on repeat in my ear buds until I reach my goal I WILL do it. I'm going to run a lovely 5k at Sodus Point in July. There, I said it. Now hold me to it. I'm begging you to ridicule me if I don't do it. Unless I go into actual cardiac arrest. Then please just shut up and send flowers. Thanks.

So there it is, my own little mommy makeover. Now with my spirits rising, let's hope my weight shall be plummeting and all shall be well again. Wish me luck and cheer me from the sidelines.

But not like this.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

I am clearly a bad ass punk

Let me tell you a little story.

About three years ago, Lara and a few other girls invited me to go to Buffalo with them for a little weekend away. Not sure why Buffalo was the destination but it didn't matter because I didn't have any kids or any reason not to take a weekend for shopping and eating out and putzing around and doing whatever we felt like. So we did that for a day and then we got a little bored and decided we should all get tattoos as a great way to pass the time. We talked about what we wanted, made decisions, searched the yellow pages for a tattoo parlor in Buffalo, and went on our way. We pulled into the parking lot and there stood a group of guys with probably thousands of tattoos and piercings between them, with their tight pants sagging, chains hanging, using curse words and smoking probably thousands of cigarettes. It was a petrifying sight to my suburban eyes. So like a spring-loaded knee-jerk reaction, I threw my body down onto the back seat of the car so as not to be seen by the hoodlums and shouted "Oh my God there's bad ass punks!". I was serious. Lara laughed a lot at me for that and hasn't stopped for 3 years.

Well yesterday, we WERE the bad ass punks. I don't believe that I cursed at all (if you don't count all the times I said "bad ass") and I know I didn't smoke any cigarettes but for some reason we felt like total punks, like some little suburban girls should be really scared of us this time.

Listen, just let me exist in my fantasy world, would you?

Anyway, both of our tattoos are deeply meaningful to us in our lives right now and I will let Lara blog about her own story if she wants (which you could catch over here). But seriously, I mean what punks:

Having just come out of a fairly long season of depression in my life, I'm realizing now more than ever just how important it is to be thankful for exactly what God has given me, whether I enjoy it or not. I wrote this post about my journey being fully present, living in the moment, and having gratitude for whatever that moment brings. Although with small children it's nearly impossible to ENJOY the things that happen to me every single minute (as clearly depicted by this fabulous blog post, which you should find hilarious if you have any sort of decent sense of humor), I am trying very hard to not be the one who decides what is "good" and what is "bad"'s just all God-given and it's all for a reason. And there were so many times during my pregnancy when I could not get through the cloud of "bad" that lived in my head. I couldn't get any dialogue going between God and I because I just didn't even have anything to say. Depression is like that, it just sucks all your energy away. No energy to be happy or playful or talkative or much of anything. And when I had no words to say to God, nothing to ask him for or talk with Him about, I often found that all I could say was "Thank you." It was the only prayer I could muster up. I didn't even say what I was thankful for because I probably had no idea. But I knew that "thank you" was worship and it was enough.

Yeah, it hurt. For only like 5 minutes though and not that bad because remember how I gave birth to a child 3 weeks ago? But please do still consider me bad-ass.

So I will continue to give thanks. I figure that if I have to be reminded of one thing every single day for the rest of my life it should be to live with gratitude and to continually thank the Giver of all good things. Because I very much believe that one cannot live without hope, and cannot thrive without gratitude. I'm going for more than just life. I'm going for life to the full. Isn't that why Jesus came in the first place? I think I'll take Him up on that :)