Friday, December 23, 2011

holiday message

i saw i actually titled a post in 2008 as holiday message. as though i had so many messages that year, i should go ahead an dedicate one as my holiday message. how cool.

but this year? i don't have so many messages. since my youngest was born, i just haven't had a lot of time to blog...and my thoughts haven't been too, uhm, write-able either.

but here are some things i've learned this year...

people are amazing. maybe it's just the ones i know, but really, people are pretty incredible in lots and lots of ways.

sometimes things have to break before they can be fixed.

some things never get fixed...

sometimes you think you can't do something, or you just don't fucking care, but with time, you realize you can and you do and you should try not to fuck things up too badly in the between time.

faith in god means faith in people. i just don't think there's any getting around that. (and i have tried...and tried...)

showing up is, in fact, the secret to life. or at least thus far. but seriously.

and last, but certainly not is totally okay to fuck up. really. i'm serious.

and that is it.

my family is sick. and that's been kind of sweet and cool (as well as crappy and snotty). whatever i didn't get done, well, it won't get done. and it's going to be great anyway. hope your holidays rock.


Thursday, November 17, 2011

where am i again?

when my family and i left our hometown so my dh could start medical school, i had been working at my children's school. a really cool private school that included kids from 18 months to first grade. it was such a great place to send my kids, that i really, really wanted to work there. the staff was, well, awesome. they were sad to see us go. and one of them gave me a card that i said, "sooner or later, we must realize there is no station, no one place to arrive at once and for all. the true joy of life is in the trip." (robert j. hastings) i knew this would be a theme of the next eight years. (i also knew "i can do all things through christ who strengthens me" would be a theme...but we'll save that for another blog...)

there is no one station to arrive at once and for all...i have learned this...i think. or at least, i've begun to understand it. there a baz luhrmann song called "everybody should wear sunscreen" of the lines says "the race is long...and in the end, it's with yourself." and it doesn't end until we die. and even then, i'm not so sure it ends, but i'm pretty sure it changes, so we can definitely say it ends as we know it. lol. anyway. the road goes on forever, and the party never ends. (that's a robert earl keen line...why am i suddenly channeling all of these musicians?) i'm starting to "get" that every time i think i've made it through one challenge, another comes. that life doesn't really go back and forth, like i used to visualize it. it is always forward. just side to side, so to speak. like kids, life vacillates back and forth between equilibrium and disequilibrium. (and let me tell you, sometimes it can almost fall the hell off the charts, it gets so far off on the disequilibrium side...)

the true joy of life is in the trip. this is easier for me to understand. we're a road tripping family. we road trip well. we know what you need (beef jerky and comfortable pillows...and small electronics with extra batteries). we know how to enjoy each other when we're confined in the small space of our car. and we know how to shut up when we're getting annoyed. we like similar music, so we can fill irritating silence with tunes that bring us back together. we enjoy the same books on tape, so there's that. and we all seem to have about the same sized bladder. we are one perfect road tripping family, the more i think about it... so yes, we have had our vacations where one of the best parts was the drive. and i get that. i really do.

but i like consistency and predictability. and i think one of the hardest things about life for me is that it is not very rhythmic. at least not when you're wishing it would get somewhere, get to a place and stay that way. now, i've definitely had my times where i think to myself, "oh dear god, PLEASE, don't let it stay here...whatever i have to do, PLEASE don't let it stay this way." but i admit, i would like life to get good and stay good. is that so much to ask? as i sat outside last night, a cold front was still blowing in. the most wonderful breeze would blow and knock a few leaves down. it occurred to me that even if winter blows in somewhat predictably each year, that you could never predict the patterns that the leaves would fall down in....that it is unique each year. and for some reason, that just cracked open this whole realization that we have to change...that the very nature of life is change...and that part of my problem, my BIGGEST problem, is fighting that change. (no WONDER i'm so damned tired and overwhelmed and stressed's like i've been trying to make the world turn in the opposite direction using my BARE HANDS...doh!)

so i'm just going to sit with this realization for a bit...let it do its work...because while i know a new day of understanding is dawning, i also know there are more days to come i want to give myself a chance to absorb this, lay a good foundation. i guess when you realize how much longer the race truly is, that there is no end in sight, have to pace yourself differently. so that's what i'm going to work on...finding a more natural pace.

(as well as realizing i do not have to run or be propelled from good to bad or happy to sad...that this journey all moves forward...that really helps me, you know what direction i'm traveling...)


Friday, November 11, 2011

ask, even when you don't know you're asking, and ye shall receive

last night, i was pretty wrung out...feeling emotionally drained, like really. emotionally. drained. in a way i haven't been that i can recall. and it made me defensive...and suspicious. i don't know that defensive leads to suspiciousness...i just know that when i feel defensive to the bone (yes, it usually comes with weariness)...i also start finding suspect the motives of all around me. it's a vicious, awful cycle. and that pretty much sums up my last night. the hubs was not my friend. the teens were extra selfish. even the baby didn't love me much, to be honest.

but i made it through the night (and i must admit here that it is really only recently that i've learned to have faith that i will, indeed, make it through these evenings of intense negative emotions). the kids eventually got their homework done and their teeth brushed (it was a late night due to piano recitals and visiting cousins) and the baby eventually reliquished the "boo" and drifted off into sleep. and i sat down with my book (the one i was doing really well and actually looked like i might finish...but then it sat untouched for a month...sigh). and here are a few excerpts from what i read...

"Do you ever think about dying? Whenever I am confronted with the reality and inevitability of death it heightens my awareness of how brief and precious my time here on earth is. Sometimes it is the death of a friend, at other times it is a news story, or perhaps it is just a bumpy ride on a plane. These events help me to treasure my own life more and more with each passing day. But they also challenge me to reassess the way I am spending the time, effort, and energies that are my life. I am more intimately aware than ever before that we all waste life. We waste it one day at a time--a day here and a day there--or an hour at a time. We waste time drowning in unforgiveness. We waste time immersed in frivolous or irresponsible activities. We waste time being lazy and procrastinating. We waste time. Life is passing us by."

and there was this one, one of my absolute favorites...i've used it in a talk and i'm going to put it up in my kids' is a marianne williamson quote...

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually, Who are you not to be? You are a child of God. your playing small doesn't serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us, it is in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."

it occurs to me as i type this that often my defensiveness does beget defensiveness in others. so i guess it can work both ways. it also occurs to me that beauty companies really want our population to believe only a handful of them will be glorious. the knowledge of how amazing each person is would devastate their profit margins.

and the last passage, words of john henry newman (no, i really don't know who he, here i come...)...

"God has created me to do him some definite service. He has committed some work to me which he has not committed to another. I have my missions. I may never know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next. I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons. He has not created me for naught. I shall do good--I shall do his work. I shall be an angel of peace, a preacher of truth in my own place while not intending it, if I do but keep his commandments. Therefore I will trust him, whatever I am, I can never be thrown away. If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve him. In perplexity, my perplexity may serve him. If I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve him. He may take away my friends. He may throw me among strangers. He may make me feel desolate, make my spirits sink, hide my future from me--still, HE KNOWS WHAT HE IS ABOUT."

and since it's from the same book, much further back that the stuff i just posted, but because it so eloquently states how i feel about being catholic. and because i've been writing more from that part of my life...i just wanted to share this quote from mother teresa, who is a person who inspires me deeply....

"Religion is not something that you or I can touch. Religion is the worship of God--therefore a matter of conscience. I alone must decide for myself and you for yourself, what we choose. For me, the religion I live and use to worship God is the Catholic religion. For me, this is my very life, my joy, and the greatest gift of God in his love for me. He could have given me no greater gift."

i know some people have had the experience of being around christians who tell them the state of others' souls based on how they are living. (ie..."if you don't believe x, then you're going to hell.") but i've been reading the bible lately (yeah...i'm really going there...and yeah...i've really never gone there before), and i am pretty sure that the bible is a self help book, and only a self help book. it is about how to make your soul right. there is not a lot about how to judge others' souls. as a matter of fact, i came across this verse last night, warning against living to follow the law instead (and the false sense of holiness that comes with that) of being lead by the law to live in faith for the soul...

You are separated from Christ, you who are trying to be justified by the law; you have fallen from grace. --Galatians 5: 4

i was so consumed by the end of last night by the negativity of this one agent i have had to work with on buying what i am pretty sure is going to be our dream home. i will permit myself a moment to dwell on that is just a beautiful, beautiful place...wild and open and lots of room to explore and breathe and run and get your hands in the earth and feel the sun and wind...and a lake, too...if this works out, i will cry at amazement of our good fortune. but i guess the road to eden must have some brambles to keep us humble? because this one woman's personality has enough brambles to humble a small army. she has shaken my faith in people, in myself so many times. but, there are other folks that have come into my path that have given us comfort, given us counsel, helped us find our confidence and our faith again. and for those people, i so, so grateful and amazed at our good fortune already.

anyway...i was feeling pretty lousy and these are the things i read. because that's how god rolls.


ps--for the sake of full disclosure (have you ever bought a house? were you so sick of the word "disclosure" by the end? this deal has been like that...times ten...), the book i'm still reading is "rediscover catholicism" by matthew kelly.

Friday, November 4, 2011

stay on target...

geez i have such a hard time focusing these days! (example: i originally typed "geez i have fuch" brain was already jumping ahead to focusing, i think)

buying a house that you intend to do a whole lot of renovation to requires nerves of steal and the patience of job. and some faith. as well as a general lack of concern with how your actions are received by the sellers and their agents. it is ridiculously difficult. i have never second and third and fourth and fifth guessed myself so much in my life. my emotions have stretched so much from one direction to the next that now they are a huge pizza dough of emotions, not a perfect circle or anything, but coating everything in every direction in a sticky, heavy, gooey, doughy mess. or something like that. god willing, it will be over and decided by the end of the year...that's what i'm telling myself today.

i was reading about wisdom today. (yes, awfully ambitious of someone so emotionally spread out, huh? but seriously, i needed something besides these crazy emotions to guide me...and you know what they say about the truth will set you free? first it will piss you off?...anyway...)

"But the wisdom from above is first of all pure, then peaceable, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, without inconstancy or insincerity." james 3:17

just writing that made my tension headache relax.


Thursday, November 3, 2011

sitting and remembering

this is kind of cheesy after that last post i made...but whatever...when have i ever let that stop me?

there is this step stool i have. it was my grandmother's. i think she bought it with these stamps they used to give out at the local grocery store...for every increment dollar amount you'd spend, you'd get a stamp...collect them in books and redeem them for stuff. i also think this is how she got her china set that my mother just gave me. she was one thrifty grandma. so this step's carpet covered. and it has four legs...which, by the way, makes it a horribly unstable step stool. but it's a good little sitting stool. which is what i used it for. lots. i watched so many cartoons sitting on that stool at my grandmother's. so i asked for it at some point, and everyone gave it to me. (i am good at asking for things that no one else's a specialty of mine...haha)

so this morning, after scrambled eggs and piano and playing, my littlest asks for blues clues and settles herself on that sitting stool, ready to watch...just like me so many years before.

it has been a really hard time adjusting to a daughter that is so very different from me. there have certainly been lots and lots of other challenging things going on around the development of this new relationship...and i'm not even going to list any of them. but i just feel like she and i are so different...she is so much pushier, more assertive, LOUDER, not afraid of rocking the damned boat...hell, she'll flip it if that'll get her what she wants.

but this morning, when she looked up at me, smiling, waiting for blues clues, sitting, it was like looking into a mirror...a mirror that links exact images from the past and present. the girl she is and the girl i was...we aren't SO different, i guess... it was profoundly sweet.

as i type this, she is dancing to the blues clues song, doing the motions so earnestly, it's cracking me up...and she's just fallen off of the stool. i guess it's not necessarily stable for all sitters, either.



i read this to my family two nights ago...

"The most powerful and influential position in any society is that of the storyteller. Storytellers are not just the mythical cultural icons who dress up on Thursday afternoons and read stories to your children in local libraries and bookstores. Musicians are storytellers; politicians are storytellers. Screenplay writers and business leaders are storytellers. Teachers, preachers, nurses, lawyers, priests, scientists, salespeople, artists, mothers, fathers, poets, philosophers, brothers, sisters, babysitters, grandparents...we are all storytellers.

The future belongs to the storytellers and it belongs to us. What will it be like? Well, that depends very much on the stories we tell, the stories we listen to, and the stories we live."
(from Rediscover Catholicism, p. 136)

there was more, but that's the gist of it. and it's something i've been thinking a lot about the last couple of days.

yesterday, in my religious ed class, my thirdborn wrote this on a piece of paper he put on a poster for the souls we were remembering on all souls' day..."jeanni...she died of cancer, surrounded by friends and family." i often feel that emotionally, i have gone over to the dark side. or if that's too dramatic, i've definitely gone over to the whiny, self-centered side. but somehow he learned that story. the picture he drew was sad but peaceful. sad faces, but a slight smile on jeanni's face. it was kind of crazy. like i was looking at a picture from a story that was so beautiful. and then i was like, "hey! that's me in that story...i remember..." a couple of the kids in my class stated that they couldn't participate because no one had ever died in their families. after pointing out that yes, someone has died unless their family has the secret to eternal life on earth, they clarified that they'd never KNOWN anyone who died. and i was surprised that they hadn't heard any stories of those they didn't know...those who went before them. my oldest son loves to tell his younger brothers about an uncle he knew that they were too young to remember. i can tell it makes him feel connected to the past in a way he doesn't understand but still feels compelled by. i tell them stories of my grandmother that helped raise me. i caught myself telling them a story about a grandfather that died when i was five months i was handing down a story i'd been told because i never knew him either.

anyway, this is what's been on my mind lately...well, when it's not screaming in frustration, anger, exhaustion...but that's a story for another day.


Sunday, October 30, 2011

what to write about?

what do you write about? when you've finished four years of med school, four years of residency, had two more babies, lost one of your best friends to cancer, started a homeschool co-op, run a couple of half marathons, had countless moments of "i do not think i can do this" answered with "oh, but you can...just not the way you thought you were going to"...when you realize you made it through some pretty big challenges...that life isn't easy street from here on out, but that you do have different choices to make and your resources are different and your needs have shifted and you've made it through some tough stuff, so your skill set has changed and your confidence is some places humbled and in some places much stronger. it's weird. it's hard to explain.

last night i was thinking about how many different, tiny things influence how i feel by the end of the day. there was a time where i could name the important things influencing me, that i was working through in my mind, working through emotionally, that needed to be addressed and how. but last night, it occurred to me that my "sight" has changed. that i see lots and lots of things...and i know that they are affecting me...i just don't always know how. i have a lot of faith, so this doesn't bother me too much...i believe they're affecting me to become a better person. and i have to let go of steering myself so much...allow myself to be lead...and after these last eight years, i am finding this really hard to do. my spirit may be willing, but my mind and especially my body are finding the idea of surrendering difficult. i realize the tension in my neck is pretty habitual. i can't consciously address unconscious habits. well, i can. i can be aware of the habits. but i have to turn my consciousness over into a realm i am not consciously in control of to let my body work through some of the negative habits i've developed through these last few years. i don't think my words can capture it any better than that.

i was in a pretty pissy mood yesterday. it was a good day, for the most part, but tension was there...and i wasn't even resisting it...which i think was progress, to be honest. i think i have so many layers of tension and denial layered, that i won't ever be able to consciously address all of it, hence my surrender to faith that it can be resolved without my mind sifting through each loose end and tying it up. there are just so many things i am ready for...more room, more organization, more time, more leisure, more fun, more togetherness...less stress, less loneliness, less anxiety, less haphazard, less mess, less work toward just surviving. but i do not know how that looks or if that's really what's coming or if i'm missing the real opportunity by wishing what i think the gifts would be on this leg of the journey. so i am trying to stay open. but i have so many habits that keep me closed, protected, focused, productive, is challenging to stay open. i am afraid of being hurt if i am open. and when i am hurt, it's hard to get over it, because in my mind, i am chastising and blaming myself for getting hurt because i was so open. it is a vicious cycle that has lead to me being clammed up tight to everyone but maybe my sister and my friend lana. poor sister and lana. well, there was also the therapist i've been seeing for almost four years (gulp...did i really just type that?) and my husband.

anyway, i guess this is what you write about at a time like this. something like this.


Saturday, October 29, 2011

small update

i just feel like i have to come back and post that the mama at the hospital in my previous post? the one my spouse was losing hope that she would avoid cesaerean as her labor dragged on and she fatigued? she delivered vaginally. healthy baby, despite a long, long, long hard labor. happy dance...


Thursday, October 27, 2011

smiles and some faith

this is the picture i have as my wallpaper on my computer. my youngest child, my daughter, is such a beautiful child. all my kids are beautiful...even the teenagers. :) she looks a lot like her brothers at this age. the way she has changed our lives...the way she has changed her brothers''s a miracle. what annie would call a brown paper bag miracle. nothing extravagant or flashy. not even monumental in a given moment. but when you stand back and look at the whole picture, it is amazing. her oldest brother, who held her and rocked her when she was a newborn and infant, is now running seventy-nine yard touchdowns on an eighty yard field (after a month or so of some very intense soul searching and heavy angst-ing as we can only really do as teens...that angst-ing that immobilizes us at a time when we are, truly, only responsible for the small, albeit overwhelming, responsibilities that center on us). her other brothers, so accustomed to being lead by the oldest, have built a net around her as they've figured out what to do with themselves with their oldest brother gone at school most of the day. our whole family has figured out how to function in such a different capacity in the last year...a school schedule not our own (yes, that typical school schedule us homeschoolers are so relieved to not be subjected to? that one...), a baby that no longer sleeps and eats and poops...she has such a strong will and now has the words to boss us around (albeit very charmingly), a dad who has to find his way as an independent ob/gyn...searching for the balance of time and responsibility in his new job...all of his ideals colliding with the reality of the institution he practices medicine in...the truth of his habits and his needs and where they match up and oh yes, my personal favorite, where they don't...a mom worn out by the demands of so many things changing...trying to support everyone but not doing a great job of it...confronting that familiar demon of the pride that says she should be able to do it herself and the exhaustion that says oh no, you can't...another teen who has grown to be tallest, although he is, in fact, the second born...and all of his responsibilities that have shifted as a result of the oldest being gone and his own life moving forward, the third preteen (this year, anyway)...growing into his body that is now on the puberty train...the delight he's finding in more school work and his younger siblings and his friends, and my youngest son...always so pleasant and willing to go along with whatever the day brings...filling quiet moments with searching, delightful questions like "what was your favorite part of today, mom?" and "what were you good at when you were my age?" and "what's your favorite thing to cook?"...and i know he will ask me to cook my favorite thing to's who he is. each of these children is so changed by each other. like the buddhist's say about rocks polishing each other.

we are looking at buying a house. THE house, it could be. or not. it is exhausting to think about and consider and weigh and contemplate. it is a wonderful opportunity, and i am grateful. and it is a huge responsibility to consider, and i am sobered. it is the end of a long day, and i am worn the heck out. but this picture made me smile. on a night where i am missing my husband so much...he is at the hospital...he's been there waiting on a mama whose labor stalled...but right as they were getting ready to call for a c-section, her cervix started changing. so he climbed aboard the "let's wait and see what nature can do" train...and missed that seventy-nine yard touchdown that his oldest will probably be riding the high of for weeks...and will probably end up doing the c-section anyway because that mama's body is worn out and while he's going to sleep at the hospital to give her more time, he's not feeling hopeful that they're going to avoid the o.r. he doesn't mind. it's the job he signed up for. and he'll have enough congratulations and hugs to share once he's home and awake that the teenager probably won't even remember that his dad missed his biggest moment this season. but i will. and myhusband will. and a part of us will tear up. because while people make easy assumptions about doctors and ob/gyns...their haste and what motivates it...their short-sightedness and how it hurts others...their financial comfort and the apathy it cultivates...we're living the life. it may not be the life every ob/gyn lives...but it is, in fact, the authentic life of an ob/gyn and the family who loves him.

i have a good friend who is facing some changes in the life she and her family are living...changes that are wonderful and nerve-wrecking. she posted today that she was holding tight to her husband's hand and taking a leap of faith. it made me tear up to read that. i know exactly what she means. if i had to say what a leap of faith looked like, tonight...i'd say it looks a lot like the picture i just posted.


Thursday, September 15, 2011

twice in one week!

i met my cce class last night. sixth graders. i was a little intimidated. but i shouldn't have been. they were great. i think we'll learn a lot together.

speaking of learning...i've been reading a book called "rediscovering catholicism." i felt, when i first bought it, like a cheater of sort. i wasn't born catholic, so i didn't know that i could actually claim to be REdiscovering catholicism. i always feel like i'm just discovering it in the first place. but it turns out that this is a pretty perfect book for me. i am enjoying it very much.

so here are a couple of quotes i harvested from part 1...

"The cause of much of this confusion is the unprecedented proliferation of words, symbols, images, and every manner of communication in the latter part of the twentieth century. People are tired; they are worn out, overloaded with information, and overwhelmed with the social, political, and economic climate. They are not striving to thrive; they are merely trying to survive. This is a tired culture." (p31)

"Love is the core of Jesus' philosophy. But in order to love you must be free. For to love is to give your self freely and without reservation. Yet, to give your self--to another person, to an endeavor, or to God--you must first possess your self. This possession of self is freedom. It is a prerequisite for love, and is attained only through discipline." (p45)

i also really liked that the author divided our legitimate needs into four categories: physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual. it really meant something to me so actually read emotional needs as a legitimate need.

oh, i also really liked this quote..."Freedom is not the ability to do whatever you want. Freedom is the strength of character and the self-possession to do what is good, true, noble, and right. Therefore, freedom without discipline is impossible. Strength of character is not stumbled upon in life's moments of need and temptation. Character is built little by little, over days, weeks, months, and years, with thousands of small and seemingly insignificant acts of discipline. Self-possession is not an unearned right; it is the privilege of the few who build it, defend it, and celebrate it by disciplining themselves." (p44)

i guess these quotes alone sound really a drill sergeant or something. but the book is really full of a lot of hope and inspiration.

i guess these quotes just stood out to me because i do feel worn out and conflicted and sad about modern culture. not because i think we're all headed to hell in a hand basket because i don't believe that. but because of what that first quote talks about...the surge of communication...and for me, when i look at this culture, particularly the advertising. so much of the communication seen today, by adults and children, is put out there by someone trying to make a profit off of the emotions they're able to appeal to. and while i don't think that's particularly wrong, i do think it can be dangerous. especially when children today often can't tell the difference between a commercial and fact. i know some adults who can't, myself included. and i don't believe it's a question of intelligence. daily, i work through things i've believed that weren't true...things i "bought" from some company who wanted my money. i don't believe those companies ever meant to influence who i am at my core. but because the communication is so pervasive...because we are surrounded by those messages...some of those messages reach further than our pocketbooks.

i know i have referred to my brain before as a spider monkey on speed. so trying to wrestle with it as it flits around all of these images and messages...trying to find some way to control it rather than just deal with the fall out of all that jumping around and sampling and tasting and trying on...that's where this book is helping me. i don't have all the answers yet...or even a couple of them. but i'll sit and read, i'll pray, i'll exercise, and i'll love. i may never be an extremely learned or accomplished woman, but i will master the basics.


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

small check in of sorts

i wish i had time to write the blogs that come to me at night. but i am just too tired on most nights. tonight i am tired. but i am up because my husband went to the hospital for the delivery of a mama who ended up having a successful vbac. now he's waiting on another mama who's at 6cms and plus 1. he'll catch up on dictations and sleep at the hospital until she's ready to have a baby "in her own time"...those were his words. and i respect him so much for saying that. believe me, as the wife at home, with the five kids, who's not seen much of him in the last 24 hours, i can't help but think about all those things that doctors use to augment labors...speed 'em up, make 'em stronger. as a woman, a mother, a birther...i generally find those things suspect. but as the stance doesn't really change. but i'd lie if i didn't say it weakened for about 45 seconds tonight. ultimately, i'm glad my husband is the kind of ob/gyn he is. and i'm thankful for the faith we god, in life, and in childbirth. oh, and marriage, too...i'm glad for the faith we share in marriage.

i taught philosophy today. for the first time in three years. and i totally over shot the kids' ages. went completely over their heads. but luckily, they are pretty good-natured kids and they went along with me. also luckily, i am a fairly flexible educator who is not so proud that i can't admit i did a pretty crappy job of sharing the journey of philosophizing with these kiddos. but we did read emily dickinson together, so i won't call it a complete wash. i am looking forward to next week and laying it out a little differently...i think we will all enjoy it more.

my kids had a great time at co-op today, though. all four of them. (sniff, sniff...i will admit here that it does make me a little sad that my oldest isn't there. i know we all made the right choice in changing his educational path. listening to him talk about the things that he does in a day, the decisions he faces, the opportunities he's been given since last spring...and hearing him say that even though these things stretch him, that he feels like he's gaining discipline...i know it was the right choice. even though i still miss all of us learning and living together.) i have to say, i think the youngest had the best time of all. she loved playing on the playground, she loved singing songs time, she loved snack, and when it was just playtime and mama had to go teach, she kissed me "bye" and kept playing. she was also pretty darned cute before we even got there, all dressed for her day at co-op, sitting at the table eating her oatmeal. and she fell asleep before we were even home. (and proceeded to pop wide awake when we got home...i guess she wanted to be sure we didn't bring home more co-op and risk missing it?...) it was a good day.

also, my oldest has been going through some things in his personal life. that place we all visit sometimes where we are so over scheduled with things that mean so much to us individually, but sometimes pile up and we can't even remember why the hell we signed up for so much anymore. plus a girlfriend. who is in a similar place. (make a this just first month of school is behind us and the newness has worn off and reality is settling in? must watch for this next year...) but he really opened up through a lot of this. young relationships are so interesting. i've learned so much being able to watch his from this perspective in years. remembered things from when i was a teen. realized things that impacted my reality that i had absolutely no awareness of at the time. and craziness of all craziness, he's actually wanted to hear some of my thoughts. (i guess when we're down, we'll take anything that someone might offer?

i also wanted to write down that yesterday was september 11th. we went to church. the readings yesterday were all about forgiveness...pretty challenging readings about forgiveness. and our new priest, who i have so much respect for, didn't back down from the message of the day. it was challenging and powerful. i wanted to post the readings, but i'm not organized enough for that. but i will say that fr. james talked about how the church didn't choose the readings for that day. how our readings are laid out in a three year cycle. he said how some people may say that those particular readings falling on september 11th was coincidental. but he said it was providential. i am grateful fr. james has come to our church. i see every member listening to what he has to say as he speaks. it is awesome to have a leader we are all following. but he always reminds us that we are journeying with him and we have a responsibility to him as he does to us. it's been a powerful two and a half months that he's been with us. i hope he stays for awhile.

and that's about it. i mean, there's more. but it's late. later than i've been up in awhile. and i still have to bring my dogs in. and tomorrow is a new day.


Thursday, September 8, 2011


the winters where i'm living now have made me realize how hungry i get for green by the end of them. we don't have particularly harsh winters...a lot of people vacation here for winters. but the grass gets brown, the leaves fall off the trees, and it gets pretty desolate if you're looking for some green.

i guess the green means life to me. lush. wet. succulent, even. it smells good. it blows in the breeze. and during the winter, when i run on my treadmill and look out my window, i am thirsty for green.

but this summer, we've been in one of the worst droughts in our history. it's so dry, we've had wildfires burning acres of land, houses. there is not a whole lot of green outside right now. there are still leaves on trees, and they blow in the breeze that often feels like a blow drier on its hot setting. but there have been trees whose leaves are wilting...trees dying because it is so, so dry.

so while i thought i had learned to appreciate the winter as a fallow time, a time that made me treasure the not-winter time (come on, this is texas...two seasons and all that jazz), this year has been just a fallow year for the most part. there have been some small oases of coolness...we're in one right now. and those days almost make my toes curl with joy at how pleasant it is to be outside.

but i have to say, the weather has made me (as most things do) reflect on life. my life, since it's the handiest and the one i have the most experience with. it's been some dry times around here...emotionally, financially, emotionally. but during this time, i have to say, i have found a faith that has sustained me. not a faith that has made things the cool breeze that blows in the morning and night right now. but a faith that has simply sustained me. it didn't keep me from being irritable. it didn't keep me from saying and doing things i have to make amends for, regain the ground i lost during, find a new rhythm because i completely lost mine. but it kept me grounded. and it has kept me centered to the point that i feel like i can keep going. (and believe me, the beer i was using for awhile to make it through the fallow was not leaving me feeling much like i could keep going. the anger and frustration and blame i was leaning didn't leave much light at the end of my tunnels either.)

so while i don't believe the weather was constructed just for me to learn this lesson...i'll take what i've been given...the light...the peace...the love...and the breeze, oh, the breeze...


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

we interrupt your regularly scheduled programming...

this has been a really, really crappy hellishly crappy. but i got a package in the mail today. from a friend who sews. and she sews really, really cute stuff. so i bought something for a really cute little girl who happens to live at my house...

(never mind that she makes me want to drink vodka straight from the bottle...that's really not that important...)

she couldn't decide if she liked it more as a skirt or as a top. thanks ya.


Tuesday, August 2, 2011


i miss blogging. i have a few entries i've written but not posted. when i read them they feel contrived, like i'm trying too hard. that's how i feel like i'm living at times, to be honest.

but i've been running. well, not as regularly as i was, but i've managed to keep from taking any months long breaks. five days here...four there. but i manage to get myself back up on the treadmill. partly because i know it's good for me. but also because it just makes my head a better place to does so much for me to burn that energy, sweat that sweat, breathe that pace. i think i've called it an energy enema. it's also good for my mind because i'm practicing clearing it...not making lists or working through stuff, but just letting it be clear while i run. i admit there are days part of me wants to just drink a beer instead of running. but i've refrained lately.

i registered for the austin livestrong half marathon next year. the fact that it's a livestrong event this time, and not a rock-n-roll event (although i LOVED running austin when it was a r-n-r event) is significant to me after losing two friends close to my age to cancer in the last year. i feel those women running with me, weird as it sounds. i know they are cheering me on. my friend patsy is also talking about running with me, as well as my sister, and i've asked my friend lana if she's interested. love my thirteen mile parties...

yesterday was my friend jeanni's birthday. i've been a little low lately...not necessarily down or sad, just working through some stuff..."doing my work" as jeanni would call it. when faced with the "run or drink a beer?" question last night, i ran. two miles. one for jeanni and one for me. happy birthday, mama jeanni. sometimes i feel you closer than i ever have. other times i am emptied by your loss. i hope you had one heck of a birthday party.


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

brain taffy

because, you know, it's a little more work for the brain than just, say, normal candy...

a good, good friend sent me this quote...

"If you feel no sense of God's presence within you when you pray, why worry? There is no precise dividing-line between emptiness and fullness, any more than between doubt and faith, or fear and love."

i love this.


Monday, May 9, 2011

mother's day and stuff

here's a picture of my oldest and me. this is the night of his first prom. he's a sophomore. there had been some drama with his girlfriend in the week leading up to prom, but he is a wise one, and he'd decided to let that go and enjoy this event. i think he had a blast. i wasn't sure if it was inappropriate to ask if i could take a picture with him before his date had even seen him yet (hey, i'm working out the boundaries on this "having a young adult for your child" deal...). anyway, he assured me that it was absolutely fine. he looks a lot like his dad. i sent my mom a picture of him and his date and she said it reminded her of when my spouse and i used to hang out in high school (but we never dated in high school...).

mother's day was good. all those years i told my spouse that he didn't really have to get me anything?'s a lot more fun when they get you something. and if you can get them all to go to church with you and then out to dinner, it's most excellent.

but i have a sick one at home. and life has settled some. so i am looking forward to the week.

peace out

Thursday, May 5, 2011


i was telling my sister and my friend lana (and my husband....i know the list seems long, but really, it stops at three) that i was trying something new this week. it started last weekend...i really don't remember how exactly it was born in my brain anymore...but i just thought to myself, "i need to stop TRYING so hard. i am making myself miserable. i need to just LET IT BE. quit TRYING."

now, there had been a fight with my husband last weekend...over travel plans and his need to make them at that exact moment and not be able to understand why i couldn't go along (which was because i wanted to wait a day or two to know exactly what my sister's plans were...obviously...). anyway...he wanted me to be one way, i needed to be another. and this, alone, does not create misery. misery comes, for me, when i want to be the person he wants me to be and have a hard time letting myself be the person i need to be. so maybe that's where i decided to quit trying. or maybe it had to do with my inability to stay on top of laundry folding. i have no idea, really.

but my mantra this week has been, "wait a minute....are you TRYING again? stop trying." and i admit that i do not always understand the relevance of that phrase to every situation that has brought it into my mind....but it's working for me.

oh, you know what? another incarnation of this phrase came into my mind at church on i remember! well, i was technically outside the church with a baby girl who no longer feels the need to nurse quietly or play quietly or sit quietly or do anything quietly when church is going on. and it's okay during the singing parts, which thankfully, our mass has a lot of. but, as it is church, there are still parts where they read from the bible and talk about those readings. and those talking parts? well, it would be nice if everyone else would be silent. even the cute little girl the whole congregation has watched grow into this loud, boisterous toddler. so we were outside. and i was cataloguing all of my failures...all of my shortcomings...all of the reasons that i am unhappy and must stand outside with a frustrated baby and her frustrated mommy (oh wait, i am the frustrated mommy...) anyway, i was contemplating "what i have done, and what i have failed to do" and all that jazz. i was not born catholic. but i have the guilt of a natural catholic. only oddly, it's my catholic faith that's allowed me to let go of some of that guilt and self-loathing that come so naturally to me. but i digress... as i was walking my baby girl outside, thinking about how i didn't even DESERVE to sit in the church because i could not get my schedule right so that my baby would be tired and therefore just be quiet during mass (and can i just say how odd it is to me that i want to be in mass?...i mean, it's another post altogether, but i used to think screaming kids were the perfect excuse to get out of mass...), it occurred to me that god loves me already, loud baby, mean voices in my head, bad relationships, messy-ass house, too-much-television-watching kids, and all.

anne lamott has this passage in grace (eventually), in a story called nudges...

"Jealousy always has been my cross, the weakness and woundedness in me that has most often caused me to feel ugly and unlovable, like the Bad Seed. I've had many years of recovery and therapy, years filled with intimate and devoted friendships, yet I still struggle. I know that when someone gets a big slice of pie, it doesn't mean there's less for me. In fact, I know that there isn't even a pie, that there's plenty to go around, enough food and love and air.

But I don't believe it for a second.

I secretly believe there's a pie. I will go to my grave brandishing a fork."

and man, can i ever relate to that. so maybe "stop trying" is my way of stopping myself from trying to earn that slice of pie that i don't even need...because there's already one on my plate (and i've probably already had ten or twelve slices already, to boot).

i do tend to eat as though i don't think there will be enough. last night, i had been all over the place emotionally. my sil had called to give me some great news about some progress she was making in her who are angry but won't talk...she'd gotten them to talk. there were lots of "fuck"s thrown in there, but they were also talking, and she and i giggled and clucked with wonder and gratitude and though we had babies who'd just taken steps (it was seriously exciting stuff). then i started working over some things for a local gig i do, the dynamics, processing what has been done, bla bla bla. and somewhere in there, i remembered to "stop trying." and the sense of urgency, the anxiety, what anne calls "the jungle drums" calmed. then i sent sick kids to piano. that felt guilty. but then they came back with medals and we went to sonic's happy hour and got tanked on slushies and diet dr. pepper. happy times. then i went to church and that was awesome...prayed a rosary with my kids' cce class, had ice cream, then went with the high schoolers and heard a speaker on prayer and had some adoration time. i felt pretty zen after that. came home to find an email from my sister...when her foster childrens' parents had their rights terminated, a distant uncle came forward to attempt to adopt the kids. they've never met him. he"s never met them. but the child protective services in their area places reunification with family as a priority. so he began the process. people "in the know" seemed to feel it would take too long for him to be approved...that the kids would already by adopted by my sister and her partner by the time he was through the paper work. but we found out last night that he's been approved. and my sister is scared. and oh, oh did i want to TRY...zen moment was gone...i wanted to try to make it better, try to fix it, try to DO SOMETHING. but i remembered, "don't try." and i lit my candle. and i prayed. and then i told my sister it was going to be okay. because i believe that. (now my sister, she's still maybe she's got a better relationship with trying...and i'd be okay with that...most days.). anyway, after all of that up and down, i just started shoving food into my mouth, bite after bite, barely chewing between. it was kind of sad actually. especially since i'd already finished dinner (and i'd already had seconds at dinner, you know?). but then i stopped trying...stopped trying to numb it, feed it, dull it, fill it, change it. (i did, in the interest of full disclosure, have a beer at that point) but i stopped trying and i still managed to make it through to today. amazing, huh?

but maybe not everyone gets that neck-clawing, desperate feeling like SOMETHING has to change before you DIE. maybe that's just me. but relieving myself of responsibility for changing the situation, allowing myself to accept it, watch it from outside the situation, not be defined by the lets me breathe. and we all know our brains work better when they're well oxygenated.

so that whole "if at first you don't succeed, try and try again"?...well, i've amended it. my version goes "if at first you don't succeed, take a breather...ask yourself why you feel the need to succeed at this and whether accomplishing this is really the kind of success you'll know what to do once you've given yourself a chance to think about it."


ps--i know this one's a tad bit random and disjointed and that it rambles on for awhile...but, well, you know what i'm going to say, right? yeah. not trying.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

life goes on...

another friend of mine died today. a mother of three...her children are gorgeous. married...her husband isn't too shabby either. daughter, sister, friend...all those things. beautiful, funny, caring, strong, smart, compassionate...pretty much your standard amazing woman. much like jeanni.

it is hard to face the sunshine of the day when you know someone amazing has died. but as anne lamott says, we're all terminal on this bus. and i know that. there are amazing people who die everyday. probably every minute. maybe even every second.

but i think about those kids without a mama. a big blank spot where their biggest cheerleader, support, lover, critic, mender, driver, teacher, nurse maid is supposed to be. and i ache.

i'm not sure exactly why i ache though. i mean yes, it is hard to imagine not having my mother...or my stepmother. they're both kind of crazy and nutty...neither of them is a perfect fulfillment of all of those things i just listed. i'm not a perfect fulfillment either. i carry around equal parts determination to be the person i have envisioned in my head and guilt because i'm not. so maybe i ache because i know that in the end, being imperfect is what what we (as mothers) have to offer and what we (as children) need. so why do i ache?

i know that there are other people who will love my friend's children in her absence. she, like jeanni, was one of those women who taught you things about life that prepared you for her death...that didn't allow you to wallow in despair or do so only ended up making you feel kind of stupid in the presence of someone with so much vitality and determination and spirit. maybe it was because she had already beaten hodgkin's lymphoma...which she delayed treatment of so she could progress with her first pregnancy and carry her oldest to term. maybe because she'd been a bone marrow donor when her second born was only four months her sister, who had leukemia...and sent that disease into remission. maybe it was because of events i never got to hear the stories of, never got to watch her face while she told them. i don't know. but she made life seem like something great and wonderful and fulfilling...something that even though we never seemed to get quite right, wasn't it delightful trying?...

and a person like that attracts other people like that. when i would visit her facebook page, i would be overwhelmed by the force of the people supporting her. the kind of people who would organize galas or direct girls' schools. they organized and directed prayers for her, good wishes to her, telling her to rest, put her faith in god, everyone to pray. and i did. i still am. i'm sure anyone who read those words did as those women directed. it was good medicine.

and she died today. just like jeanni died in december.

it is humbling to realize that my prayers didn't keep these women alive. it is flat out frightening to realize that their incredible spirits, their intelligence, their beauty, their amazing kids and spouses and lives...that those things didn't keep them alive either. well, i should clarify...didn't keep them alive in body. because i KNOW that they are alive in spirit. in a way i never felt when they were still housed by their bodies. (although, make no mistake, i miss the friends i had here on earth in these women...)

and maybe that's why i ache. because i know we don't have to be here to be here. but we are stuck here...until we're set free to go there...and we always leave part of us anywhere anyone we've loved is. and this is scary. and mixes things up inside of me...things i believe...things i don't realize i believe...things i'm not ready to confront...things i'm comfortable in...things, things, things.

this is definitely one of those times when words fail...when it's better to let things change before i try to identify them, capture them, control them with words.

but i know i love being a mother. and one of the hardest parts of being a mother is raising my kids not to need me, to go on without me, because i know my presence in their lives will always change until eventually i die. and experiencing the death of two wonderful mothers makes the certainty and uncertainty of that truth real in a way that hurts inside.

i love those women...then and now. it is strange to me how much love i feel from them after their deaths. i didn't expect it. part of me feels afraid to allow life to go on as though they haven't left...or as though they were never can we possibly go on without them? but another part of me knows that my understanding of life and what it is is changing...and while it is scary to let go of what i thought i would be a damned shame to not be changed by the lives and deaths of these two amazing women.

so i will keep going...watching and waiting...


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

growing up

"Age itself is weird. Everything gets solidified and liquefied at the same time." (anne lamott, of course)

yep. this is what i was noticing...


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

self righteousness you could crack walnuts on

i love that line. but i'm getting ahead of myself...

i've had a crappy couple of days. that difference in management paradigms and philosophies of life that i mentioned in the last blog? there is a friendship here that spills over into many parts of my's a small town. and i have been really hurt by this person (who, as things usually seem to go, also feels upset by me...or, well...she that she's gotten it all off of her chest, maybe she feels better...i don't know...). anyway...i often feel torn in these situations. i want to fire back the ways that she's hurt me, betrayed my trust, wrecked my peace. (i am laughing as i type this...i swear, i am so melodramatic...) but i do really feel hurt. and i do really want to tell her. but i am too angry right now. so i will wait. until i can be honest and state how i feel without inserting some passive aggressive bullshit that will only make things worse. (not that how i honestly feel is guaranteed to improve the situation, but sometimes we must take that step forward in faith....right?........right?!?!)

anyway, i've been working on cooling down. for almost two full days now. it's hard...cooling down. and like some folks who offer up their prayer and then find a random passage in the bible and see how it speaks to them...sometimes, on really bad nights, i offer up my horrible insides and find a random anne lamott essay and see what it has to tell me. now, i've read anne lamott's books many times. so it is not unusual for me to be familiar with whatever essay i randomly choose. last night, the essay i randomly chose was called "the carpet guy"...and yes, i was familiar with this essay. like that feeling when you know you're going to hear a story from your mother...a story you've heard again and again...and you know it's lesson...and you also know it's relevance to whatever has prompted your mother to tell it this time...but you also know you're going to have to listen to the whole story and let the lesson unfold word by word, pause by pause... that's how i felt when i saw the essay was "the carpet guy." but, like a good girl who always eventually takes her medicine when she's told, i read the essay.

i have to admit, when i got to the line that said "you could have cracked walnuts with my self-righteousness," i knew i was in the right place. the fact that the author can admit this about herself makes it so much easier to confront the same truth in me. i mean truly, i was pretty worked up when i sat down to read...ranting in my head...indignant about the responsibility for her hurt feelings laid at my feet while my feelings went trampled or ignored...i may have even been heaping on other times i felt similarly that didn't have all that much to do with the present know, like when my mom accused me of saving my lunch money to buy joints with, only i thought drugs cost thousands of dollars...i might've thrown on a few unrelated injustices...i mean, maybe...

but then the essay went on to say,

"Jesus doesn't hold this against a person. His message is that we're all sort of nuts and suspicious and petty and full of crazy hungers, and everything feels awful a lot of the time, but even so--one's behavior needs to be better. One needs to be decent. So I would try."

can i just say that sometimes it annoys the hell out of me how anne does that? reels you in with a perfectly good line about cracking walnuts on one's self-righteousness, and then clobbers you with some sense of sisterhood and a personal commitment to try harder. it's enough to make me drink gin. (ha!)

anyway...that last part i made me cry. because i could relate to it. and i so badly wanted the message to be that this other person's behavior needed to be better. (oh how i wanted to MAKE her behave better...really, it's awful stuff that comes out me sometimes.) but i knew it was my behavior that needed to be better. and it made me cry. because i knew i could do better.

by the way, this essay is in a book called grace (eventually). when you open my book, which anne signed right in front of me (i'dliketomention), you find this inscription...

February 16, 2008
You gave this book to yourself the evening before you ran the Austin Half Marathon. May you keep meeting challenges with grace, humor, and faith.

yeah...what i said.


Friday, April 15, 2011

my best pair of comfortable jeans

i talked to an old friend the other i hadn't spoken to in years. when we were talking, she mentioned she'd been reading anne lamott, and i said, "yeah, she's still like my best pair of comfy jeans." (i'm sure anne would shiver with flattery at that compliment...)

anyway, yesterday kind of sucked. combine too little sleep, with the first day of your period, and throw in some clash of management and basic philosophies of life in a capacity that feels very close to your heart, and you get a pretty sucky day by most standards (which is my way of saying, "i don't think i was being overly sensitive on this one") so at the end of the day, when i was drunk with exhaustion (and not the kind of drunk that makes dancing on the table to your new favorite song sound exciting), i grabbed my best pair of comfy jeans. i opened to an essay called "dear old friend," which seemed strangely appropriate. here's the first paragraph of anne's essay...

"We turn toward love like sunflowers to the sun, and then the human parts kick in. This seems to me the only real problem, the human parts--the body, for instance, and the mind. Also, the knowledge that every person you've loved will die---many badly, and too young--doesn't really help things. My friend Marianne once said that Jesus has everything we have, but he doesn't have all the other stuff, too. And the other stuff leaves you shaking your sunflower head your whole life through."

amen to that, sister.


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

a prayer

i'm reading this book called "reading between the lines: the hidden wisdom of women in the gospels." someone was saying the other day how people often perceive the catholic church to be anti-women...but how women are the only ones who look good in the new all the disciples are bumbling, backstabbing, pathetic guys and the women are all faithful and observant and understanding. it made me remember this book i bought a long time ago, and i dug it out of the "stacks of books i am going to read some day" and started reading it that night. and this seemed appropriate as it is lent. and while i'd been listening to christian radio this lent, i have to admit, i was getting a little bored of the same forty songs or this book was a welcomed new avenue for expanding my knowledge, understanding, and, always ultimately, faith.

it has been a slow, deliberate-feeling kind of lent. not that all of my actions have been deliberate...i'm pretty much still flying along at my normal pace, only able to give my normal amount of consideration to the things i pass (and normal is kind of, well, notsofabulous). but it sure feels like the world around me is working in a deliberate way. it's a longer lent than usual...46 least that's what my kids tell me...and i believe they're least it feels that way.

i don't usually share a lot about my faith. christians have gotten sort of a bad rap (and hey, i know it was deserved in a number of instances). and i'm not trying to force my faith on anyone...i believe choice is important. but i do want to share my faith so people can maybe see there are christians who just want to love you, not change know? anyway, i thought this was a beautiful prayer, so i'm going to put it here....(it's from the book i mentioned...)

"Jesus, even before you were born, you revealed the Father's love to the poor and simple. You revealed that you are present in our ordinary life, and you are present when we help and love one another. True worship has become the gift of self to others in humble service to the God of love, present in every human being. You have come close, so close to us, closer than we are to ourselves. Open our eyes to your hidden presence in the least of our brothers and sisters. Help us to see that others bring you to us. Give us the joy to reign with you by serving others, especially through the service of forgiveness. Let us bring your understanding and compassionate love to all who are burdened, especially to those burdened by guilt. Let us bring your hope to all who feel that you are distant or, worse yet, nonexistent."

one of my nephews is one of my daughter's godfathers. (his brother is her other godfather, but i'm not looking to talk about him right now.) my dh and i chose this particular nephew because the week before he was going to be confirmed as a catholic, i was chatting with him on facebook and i asked him if he was ready. he asked me if he had a choice and i told him oh yes, you always have a choice. and he laughed (i tell my nephews and my kids that a lot...that they always have a choice...good choices, bad's up to them) and said yes, he was ready. i asked him why he was choosing to be catholic, what it meant to him...and he said, to him, being catholic meant serving others. and right then and there, all this confusion and conflict within me about my faith and religion and where the two meet just settled down and made sense. the path became lit by this one simple light. all the doubts and the pride and the fears fell into the shadows.

the catholic faith is not perfect. the sex scandals of ten years ago are not nearly as great as the scandals and corruption of previous centuries. but just as people do not want to be defined by their mistakes...but they can be changed so positively by terrible mistakes...mistakes that hurt people and change lives...yet still great things can result from i believe the church grows. and she's so can you not feel a little bit of affection for her? (don't answer that...i know how a lot of people cannot feel one iota of affection for the catholic was rhetorical, i swear...)

anyway, i'm going to go watch them crucify my son tonight. we're walking the stations of the cross and my second born is playing jesus. it makes me feel a little wobbly in my stomach (i know, i know...roll your eyes at my melodrama). i told my second born that it made me nervous to think they'd be "crucifying" him and he looked at me like i was speaking a different language (which is unusual for my second born...he's usually pretty in tune with other's feelings). i explained i'd have a little better understanding of mary...hoping he'd "get" what i was saying...and he still looked so confused. so i said, "look, we all know how to the story die!" and he just looked at me and said, "no mom, resurrection."

thank god i have these smart kids to teach me stuff.


Thursday, April 7, 2011

words, words, words

can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em...

i used to think that writing helped me to organize my thoughts...calm my thoughts...kind of help them get into the habit of getting into a line and proceeding orderly through my mouth, or my fingers, or at any rate, my head.

now i'm not so sure. maybe it's only when i'm able to think calmly (somewhat), orderly (sort of)...when my mind is still (so to speak) and peaceful (you know, moreso than the kindergarten room)...that i'm able to write.

i notice lately that i think in pictures. i don't think i used to do that. and sometimes, i think in great, whirling stretches of nothingness...but believe me, there are big things going on in that nothingness. it's like when you're at the beach and a giant cloud passes over your's not that there's nothing behind the cloud...and the cloud contains many things...but the cloud isn't, say, a bird, or a ray or sunlight, or any of the other things you're used to seeing in the sky over the beach. or something like that.

anyway...i miss writing. i miss that affirmation that my mind is working, that i can still put words together and make sentences. talking can be so tiring. and sometimes, i talk too much or too loud or too fast. (maybe that's why it's tiring?) and writing is just so soothing.

but lately, when i sit here and look at my little blog (when i'm putting my runs in my run tracker), either i can't think of a single thing to write or, i find myself wanting to write something, but then, as i think about what i want to write, i begin to provide all of this context, background info, explanation, asides about how i feel about it, tangents...and before one word gets typed, there's already a traffic jam in my head and i can't even remember what my original thought was.

there have been a few nights that i've composed blogs in my head that i actually wished i had typed up on my blog. but i'm so tired these days and sleep usually wins out over trying to recover the feeling and train of thought that was what started the whole piece.

i should say...i like the silence. i do. there's a suzanne vega song that says, "if language were liquid, it would be rushing in. instead here we are in a silence more eloquent than any word could ever be." i used to like that song a lot. but it occurs to me that the song is about a shared silence, between to people (hence the word "we," right?). and what i've learned to appreciate is the silence in me...alone. i mean hey, it is not a place i want to live forever and ever amen. i don't plan on moving my underwear in the top drawer here or anything. but it's okay to visit...i'm actually quite comfortable here.

(but it makes for a crappy blog, doesn't it? lol)


Thursday, January 27, 2011

what works

my friend jeanni, who is often in my thoughts, used to tell me we all had to do our work. i spend a lot of time thinking about my work...doing my work. i spend a lot of time talking to my friend lana as we plan out how to accomplish and balance our work...our successes, our failures, our feelings of being overwhelmed or under appreciated, our moments of humility and empowerment, being tired or feeling frighteningly capable. my work for the last number of years has been managing a family while my spouse goes to medical school and completes a residency. i have homeschooled our four when we started and now five children. i have moved to two different houses. i have started a homeschooling co-op, run two half marathons, worked with high schoolers at my new church, helped out and coached robotics teams, paid bills, hosted birthday parties, managed doctor appointments, attended dinners, funerals, weddings, birthday parties, taken the car in when it needed, bought all or most of the christmas gifts, tried to stay within my budget, made arrangements for when i didn't, joined a book club, sent out christmas cards, transported a high schooler to and from a technical college for a semester, made that high schooler a transcript and gotten him into high school when he was ready, taught many different classes at the co-op i started, made it through the first year with a new baby, made it to park days and play dates and other social functions for my kids...i have done a lot. yet somehow, i manage to feel, on most days, like i haven't gotten much of anything accomplished. this is something i am determined to work on...because yesterday, i ran across one of my many notebooks i use for list making. and as i looked through this notebook, i realized...i had, indeed, accomplished almost everything on those lists. and i realized that while i try to manage my life, i am often looking at what i need to do, and rarely at what i have done. and so i carry around that feeling of not getting much done and rarely the feeling of satisfaction at what i have done.

tonight, i went to book club. it was the first time in many months that i had actually read the book. and we discussed it. and talked. and visited. and it occurred to me tonight that i have been a part of this book club, a part of this group of women, for almost four years. i realized when i got home that i have spent four years getting to know these women, sharing space and life with them. i still go to book club feeling like the newbie...and i am still the newest person there. but i have been there for four years! i don't know why that surprised me so much. but maybe, after typing the first paragraph, i'm starting to understand it.

my spouse finishes his residency in five months. five more months, and then he begins a job. a job that doesn't require us to move. a job that will allow us to begin paying off the considerable debt we've acquired on this leg of the trip. a job that will give him regular hours, allowing us to begin to settle into a routine. not that we haven't had routines in the last number of years. we've had dozens of dozens of routines. we've been flexible and adaptable and, more often than not, accepting and maybe even positive. but we've always been looking to the next step of it, preparing for the next move, open to the next round of interviews and opportunities and situations.

so tonight, i am learning to take what works. accept it. let it be. do it. it doesn't sound nearly as monumentally relieving as it surrender a bit. but it was. at night, i usually make plans for what i need to get done the next day. last night, i prepared myself for dropping off the high schooler and then taking our seven year old to the eye doctor. i worked through my anxieties...or acknowledged them at least...and mentally prepared myself for what i needed to get done, my appointments and what they required for me, and made note of the time frame i needed to work in. we made it there. we made it through. lana and my sister were there for me to work through the information from the eye doctor, the plans to be made for the next steps, treatments, my feelings, etc. i am forever grateful to them for their patience and love. tonight though, when i began to make my plans for tomorrow, i made plans i have not made, consciously, in what feels like a really long time. tomorrow, i am going to spend time with my kids. my thirteen year old has some stuff to do for co-op. my other guys, i'll play with and maybe even read to. i don't know. it's open. but i will spend time with my kids. these beautiful people who have traveled along this very intense time with me. who have taught me to keep loving, forgiving, and enjoying the good moments as they come. i can't even describe how right it feels. this doing what works. i am grateful.


Thursday, January 20, 2011

the race

"For I am already being poured out like a libation, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith. From now on the crown of righteousness awaits me, which the Lord, the just judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me, but to all who have longed for his appearance."

2Timothy 4:6-8

my aunt asked me to do a reading at my grandfather's funeral tuesday. i said i would, but i had a lot of anxiety about it for some reason, and really didn't want to do it. i knew i would. i knew i probably wouldn't stumble. but i just had some hesitation...a lot of it. not enough to say no, but enough to make me regret saying yes. anyway...this is the reading i did. this also happens to be the reading the minister chose to speak of at my friend jeanni's memorial service, just a few weeks ago. it was one of those world-quieting, god-magic moments when i realized i was being asked to do this very reading that made it feel like jeanni was there at her own memorial though she'd picked that reading. but then maybe it also appealed to me so much because i run. and jeanni ran. so it just seemed so very relevant and appropriate and right.

one other thing i want to write about...even though it feels weird. the week i knew jeanni had gone on hospice, there was a night...a night that i had a little time or whatever, and so the whole "my friend is on hospice" kind of washed over me. i went outside for a bit so i could cry. jeanni taught me that crying is a great way to release energy. so i did. i cried really hard. because i knew she'd die. but most of all, i knew she knew. and that just did me in far more than any idea i might have on my own in the matter. and i knew that it would all be alright, but it just sucked so profoundly....all i could do was bawl. and then i felt jeanni standing right next to me. it was like i could see her through my tightly crying eyes, looking at me, almost smiling...and it really kind of freaked me out. she put her hand on my shoulder and said "it's going to be ok." to which i replied, in my head, "i know...but it sucks." and she just kept kind of smiling...and i felt weird to feel her so close to me. i worried that maybe she'd already died or something...but she told me again, "it's going to be ok. don't cry." to which i responded, again in my head, "i know it's going to be ok, but it's just really fucking sad right now, so can it on the 'don't cry' shit." she smiled for real and hugged me. and it was over.

at jeanni's memorial service, her sister shared that jeanni told her toward the end of her life that however things went, she was ok with it. and that things would be ok. and it felt really right to hear that. like i already knew, but it was still a gift to hear that story.

and i know it will be ok. there are a lot of times already that it is ok. but there are still times that it is not ok. and also times that it is deeply, deeply not ok. but i suppose, in the end, that is ok, too. i am getting a lot of practice at not judging things. i often think "i'm good" or "i'm not good" or "i'm tired" or "i'm whatever fill in the blank..." lately, i've just been thinking "i am." and that feels so true.

my friend jeanni taught me a lot of things that have helped me work through her death. and probably one of the most powerful things is just to let what i'm feeling work on me...not to fight it, not to avoid it, not to dull it...just to let it be, get through it, let it teach me what i need to know. it doesn't make her absence any less painful. but it does call me to be present and not hide from or in that pain. and i admit, some days i don't feel like being accountable for the light she shared. but i do the best i's all i can do.


Thursday, January 13, 2011


i used to have this shirt that said "play" in rainbow stripes on it. i don't know what i did with it. it was a really cool shirt.

today i played with my two youngest kids. oldest is in school now (i know, haven't written about that either). two middle guys were at robotics and a field trip. so the youngest boy and baby girl and i played. we laced things. i laced in my typical "whip stitch" fashion. my son admired it, but then showed me his favorite way to do things, and i must admit, it was cooler. so i tried that out. baby girl was a little peeved at first to not be the center of it all, but i think after awhile, even she felt the benefit of a better balance. we also read books. "i love you, stinky face" was a hit. he smiled in that way that makes you promise you're going to do this more often and you know you're going to keep that promise. it was good. very good.

my house is trashed tonight. so. totally. trashed. laundry to be folded. floor to be swept/mopped/vacuumed/pick your poison. cupcakes to be made...four dozen of them. dishes to be done. and can we just not even talk about christmas decorations? (at least i unplugged the lights today...i think the neighbors were grateful.) i need to say that it feels totally different to have a trashed house after a day of playing. like "well, sorry it's a mess, but i had important things to do...priorities, you know?" i only wish i felt like i had the energy to take care of all the stuff that needs to be done...but i'll get there. you take a step in the right direction and that gets you closer, right? although if the journey is the destination, i guess i should rethink this. i've got a number of things to rethink lately. but not this play thing. i'm pretty sure i'm right on with that.


Monday, January 10, 2011

my papa

my grandfather died today. my friend jeanni died less than a month ago. i haven't been able to write about jeanni. yet. and i don't exactly know what to say about papa. my mom loved him so much...said she always wanted to marry him when she was a little girl. i always thought that was really special. i loved papa, too. i was proud that he had been a policeman for 32 years, although i don't ever remember him in a uniform. my mom actually has a picture of him shaking hands with jfk. i guess i really knew him best during his retirement years. he made candle holders out of blocks of wood. he loved camping. he was kind. he seemed really gentle. i felt safe with him. i always felt like he was one of the good guys, and there were times in my younger years that i didn't feel like there were many good guys out there. he was pretty religious in his older years. he taught me how to use a concordance in a bible. he was proud when i went on retreat. he was proud of my family. then he developed dementia, and he faded. he'd grip his coffee mug almost as though he knew he'd lost his mind and just couldn't remember where he'd left it. i remember a time before he was fading where we all went to my uncle's for the fourth of july. i had three kids then. our WHOLE family was it was amazing. and papa (and yang-yang...yes, this is what we called my's ok, you can laugh) just sat there smiling and proud of the whole crazy lot of us. (and while i realize all families are crazy, i can't help but feel like my own is a special brand of crazy...) the last time he was at my house, my parents and sister brought both of my grandparents. they stopped here on the way to my uncle's. i fed them lunch. my grandmother introduced me to her husband, as though he wasn't my grandfather. really, it was cute. but my grandfather drank coffee with a tight grip. he couldn't remember my name. and he seemed kind of tense about it. like he should. like he should remember a lot of things he didn't. i played a song on my blog after that visit...the one by the dixie chicks...silent house...about a grandmother with alzheimer's, which my grandmother had. but tonight, i'll play a song my mother has always played for her father. rest in peace, papa. see you on the other side.