My Daily Present

Real Talk

36

Every year on my birthday, I try to set intentions for myself. I do my best to get really clear about what I want to accomplish. And then, I try my darndest to “make it happen.”

This is a good practice if you want to think good and hard about priorities or dreams or wishes, but it can lead to disappointment if you don’t make a careful distinction between intentions and expectations (and-cough-I haven’t been doing that, apparently).

Intentions, as it turns out, CAN NEVER be rooted in expectation. They aren’t built that way. They don’t work like that. You can’t set your mind to something and then demand that the universe conform. The universe is older, bigger and way wiser, and no matter how hard one might wish, it isn’t going to change its course. I know this up, down and sideways, because LAST YEAR.

Do you remember? Here’s a brief summary to get us back up to speed:

I took a job that tried to kill me, so I left, but not before the stress had wreaked havoc on my body, by way of tendinitis in my foot, knee pain, neck pain and bursitis in my shoulder. Also, I lost my mind at home. Juggling a full time job (that wasn’t fulfilling), along with my toddlers, their full time childcare and a shaky time in my marriage all sent my central nervous system into a shame spiral. I left the job, cut back on childcare and allowed the story I had told myself about my marriage to unravel. Then, I had hip surgery. That was 6 months ago. I’m still walking with a crutch. Finally, our newly-elected president (and leader) is a xenophobic misogynist who might also be a closet white supremacist. Anyway-NOT THE BANNER YEAR. And not anywhere near to what I intended (or, mistakingly, EXPECTED).

BUT. There was work to do. And, that was the universe’s plan for me. To put me back to work with myself. To take my laser focus and jigger it around a bit and then swing it around and set the lens ON MYSELF. To whisper: Wait, wait. Slow down. Listen. To send me to the water. In my tears, in my body and in my dreams. To drown out the noise of all the shoulds and musts and I need yous with the rhythmic drumming of my own voice. Telling me to REMEMBER. Telling me to HAVE COURAGE. Telling me to get very close and up front and rather personal with GOD.  With FEAR. Also, MYSELF. Because I have learned that I can’t have one without the others.

Also, the voice told me that I have to get back to my words. That I have to write. I have to sit my ass down and share. Not because it’s so earth shattering and life altering, and not because anything I’m saying is brand new or wildly original or so incredibly important. But, because I simply must. Because words bring me to life. And, ladies and gentlemen, if I am on this earth to do any one single thing, I am quite sure it is this:

To be alive.

So, I had big intentions that really smelled a whole stinking lot more like expectations. I wanted to get back to working out, I wanted to work on a daily, spiritual practice, I wanted to travel. I said, now that I want it, I will MAKE IT SO. 2016 said: NOPE.

Now that it’s a new birth year, it’s felt fuzzy to me-this intention setting process. Do I set goals? Do I focus at all? Do I simply pray? Do I do nothing? I have taken time to sit and stand and be distracted while waiting for the right idea to strike me. And, thankfully, it did.

I have to stay creative. Period. The end. Curtain close.

This sounds a little vague, I know. But, in fact, it’s very specific. Because being creative requires a lot of discipline. A lot of willingness. COURAGE, at every pass. It says, BE WHERE YOU ARE, BE WHEN YOU ARE AND, by golly, above all else: BE WHO YOU ARE.

When things go as planned. When they don’t. When things fall apart. When they come back together. When you’ve failed, when you’ve won, when you lose, when you struggle. As Liz Gilbert says, “You can measure your worth by your dedication to your path, not by your successes or failures.”

Be there. Be honest. Make something. Out of whatever it is you have to work with.

Staying creative requires me to stay very close and very connected to myself. In a world that constantly reminds me, as a woman and as a mother, to leave myself and my body, to remain selfless at all costs, to change my looks, my thinking and myself in order to “fit in,” to be anywhere but at home in myself, to be small, to carry the load, to ask for nothing, to stand for things that do not include me: I MUST BE VIGILANT and COMMITTED in order to BE CREATIVE. I have to be DEDICATED to my path, and that means choosing courage and adventure over doubt and expectations, more times than not.

Staying creative doesn’t require the world to do what I want it to do, but it does mean that I get to make something of my own out of it. I get to make choices. Conscious ones, even. Now that I know what fills me up, I don’t want to waste my time and energy on other “stuff.” Certainly, I do have a marriage, a husband and two small, wonderful little children that I love deeply and profoundly. I have these people to care for and tend to, but I’m in there, too. I have a job all of my own to do, right here beside them, and it is this:

Stay Creative.

Now, don’t get your hopes up when you bump into me next. I’m not going to be walking around town with a beret, a portable easel and dark eyeliner, anytime soon. I’m not reworking myself into some master poet or artisanal craftsperson by trade. I’m just working on reorganizing a few of my basic, daily habits to ensure that creativity gets her time, too. So that I can raise my children with more of MYSELF in the room, so that I can walk on this planet with more GRACE and so that I can do another year of what I was born to do:

BE ALIVE.

I am 36. I am so damn dedicated to my path. Feels about right.

xoxo,

M

Enough

The moon pulled at me last night, and it wouldn’t let go until I did.

Every time I unclench my hands, I begin to fill up, to rest, to receive. Even though it is the thing I am meant to do, it is hard to learn to uncurl these fingers. They have been this way since I can remember, and I don’t know what I will do with my hands when they aren’t balled up tight in a fist. What will I protect if not myself?

For most of my life, I was a woman who tried to prove herself. I did it at home, first, but then, I did it in school, with my peers, on and off a stage, in college, at work, with men, with my family, with myself. If you asked me if I was enough, I would have told you, YES! Now, watch me prove it.

On my “bad” days, I thought I had failed at proving myself, and so the shame and the anxiety would swoop in and swallow me up. But, I’d find my way out by telling myself that I “can be better.” By fixing me. By fixing things. By making things look better, so they would feel better, and I would know better. I would prove it.

But, I don’t want to prove it anymore. I don’t want to try to make it obvious. As it turns out, Enough isn’t something you can prove and show, anyway. Only I can feel it for myself, and nobody else can find it or see it or prove it to me. I don’t want to fight for it, or shout for it, or rage for it. I don’t want to search for it, or long for it, or strive for it. It’s a sacred thing I have that I never have to work for, and I just want to sit here with it and wrap myself up in it and say thank you and give nothing in return.

I am enough.

The moon pulled and reached and stretched and grabbed for me, last night. It kept coming back, and pulling harder, and it only let go when I did. There we were, open hands, shining at one another. Me, enough. The moon, my reminder.

You don’t have to prove it. You only have to let it.

I am enough. You are, too.

xo,

~M

WOMAN

Hello, world! I am a woman. I need myself. I need a village. Friends, family, hugs, love, support, laughter. I need lots of trusting, wise, kind and loving people to help me raise my children/myself. I need my health. Physical strength. Vitality to move. I need food, water and shelter. I like to read. I like to cook. I love to be outside. I enjoy time spent with people (but not all the people at once because #introvert). Here’s what I don’t need:

To be constantly sold to
Fulfillment/Happiness that comes from OUTSIDE of myself
Weight loss solutions
Dieting regimes
Skincare regimes
Supplement regimes
REGIMES, IN GENERAL

In fact, I LIKE ME JUST THE WAY I AM. Wrinkles, stretch marks and more. Wide hips, small lips, squinty eyes, yoga pants, ripped t shirt, tennis shoes, unwashed hair. I’m so good with this look! I’m so GOOD with me. I don’t do tight rope walking or strict rules or less than well. You start throwing shoulds and musts and you betters at me, and I get all kinds of pissed off. I do not want your waist trainer, your diet shake or your 21 day master blaster workout routine. I want to live inside this body carefully and consciously, my people. I do not want to shred it or blast it or turn it into a beach body. IT IS OKAY TO PINCH AND PULL SOMETHING FROM MY SIDE, Y’ALL. I have bigger fish to fry!

And those bigger fish are the entire world that is ready and waiting to try to teach my daughter how much she needs to CHANGE and SHRINK and WITTLE and BLAST and SHRED and SMEAR ON or TIGHTEN UP. A whole world of messaging is headed her way and it says: BE MORE, BUT BE SMALL ABOUT IT. DO MORE, BUT DON’T LET ANYONE SEE YOU TRYING. BE QUIET. BE STILL. SIT DOWN. SMILE MORE. MAKE ME COMFORTABLE. ALWAYS BE COMFORTABLE. KEEP TRYING. NEVER GIVE UP. EXCEPT, ON YOURSELF.

Y’all, I’m on a rampage this year, and I should’ve known it was coming because this year felt like shit up until I started asking myself the right question, and that question was not “What is wrong WITH ME?” The right question was: WHAT IS WRONG?

Cliff notes: So many things.

Anywho, I’m just not cool with being a woman and raising a girl in a world that wants to sit me down and shut me up and squeeze me into a pencil skirt. I’m not cool with a world that wants me to spend my money on a diet industry that keeps me SCARED of my body, and AFRAID of myself. I am not down with raising kids in a world that tells me I need to do it all by myself and do it perfectly and never fail and never fuck up, while telling me to somehow make sure to teach my kids to fail and teach my kids to fuck up and teach my kids they don’t have to be perfect. What?

I’ll choose to give to myself, put into myself, teach myself. I’ll choose to be so conscious so that anything I do consume, I consume with my wits and my senses and myself. I’ll teach my kids to fail and fuck up by failing and fucking up. I’ll teach my kids to be enough by learning that I AM ENOUGH. I’ll teach my daughter to love her body by LOVING MY BODY. I will teach my girl to know herself by KNOWING MYSELF. I’m not looking for myself in other things, in other bodies, in other people. I am RIGHT HERE, MY BABIES.

HELLO, WORLD! I did not come to social media to share my perfect pictures, and tell you about my shiny life. I came here to share myself, to be seen and heard and to connect. Mark Zuckerberg did not KNOW what he was getting all of you into.

Do not let anyone tell you what you need, boo. YOU NEED YOU. We all do.

xo,

M

I Just Had to Listen

Oh, I was feeling small and fragile and shaky today. Things felt extra hard. I felt extra incompetent. After a while, I looked at the boys (my husband and son) and asked/begged: PLEASE GO AND LEAVE ME ALONE FOR A WHILE? And, while my daughter slept upstairs, I decided that maybe it would help to come spend a little time with myself.

Oh, I have been working so, so hard, you guys. I have just been working deep and wide and painful and time consuming and rewarding and exhausting and for myself and for my kids and for my marriage and for my family and for my world. I have been working in tedious fashion, pulling tiny specs of dust and dirt off of my heart, whittling away at old, unnecessary ways of doing things and gathering a pile of shit I no longer need and discovering the courage, in small bits and pieces, to throw that shit out and keep going.

Today, I woke up, and everything inside me said, “Stop. Wait. Rest awhile, dear.” The kids were needing me, the day was calling and my husband was waiting. But, my body and my SELF would not be deterred. “SIT DOWN, SISTER,” they begged me. “GO FIND THE QUIET,” they urged. I started crying, for what felt like no reason, and retreated to my bed. My husband wanted to know what was wrong, and the words came from someone, I think me, “I just need space and quiet and away. Please take over?” And, he did.

There was a time in my life when I would have forced myself onward, even when all things inside said, “Stop. Wait. Rest, awhile, dear.” I would have pushed onward for “the sake of” my children, my husband or my career. I would have told myself to shhh, shhh, be quiet. Get up, get going, and you will be fine. Don’t wait. Don’t stay. Don’t listen. Just go.

This year, I have learned that listening to myself is the best and greatest thing I can do for myself and for everyone who knows and loves me. When I listen to myself, I can listen to the people around me. I can hear my children, my husband and my friends. I can be awake, and I can make conscious choices. It’s amazing, actually, what I can see and hear and do when I listen, first, to myself. I never knew how much I was missing when I wasn’t listening to myself. How I was shutting down to so much because I was shut down to myself. Now, the world is NOISIER, but I am clearer. I need this combination of REALITY and SELF, because, for some crazy reason, it grounds me. It anchors me. I can feel my legs again. The shakiness stops. The blood returns to my body. I can breathe.

Today, after listening very carefully, I discovered that I was hungry. So, I made myself this salad.

Not a salad advertisement, but wow-right?

Not a salad advertisement, but wow-right?

After I ate it, I cried. Because I am so proud of myself. I am hobbling around and facing myself and doing the next right thing over and over again. I am showing up when I don’t know what to do or how to do it. I am doing simple, every day things, and big, lifelong lesson-y things.  For more than half my life, I wanted to be this strong. I wanted to be this brave. I wanted to be this creative. And, after all of those years of longing and searching and not listening, HERE I AM. I was always here. I didn’t have to be fancy or shiny or even walking on my own two damn feet. I JUST HAD TO LISTEN.

(Also, I am proud of my salad skills, but we’ll save that celebration for another day, because time and such.)

Oh, thank you world, for letting me share this with you. I am not trying to teach you the lessons of yourself. I am just so grateful because now that I am listening, I also feel courageous and driven to SPEAK. It feels like real life running through these crinkly veins. I needed that. I needed this. I needed me. I needed you.

Love you. Mean it,

M

2016

The universe gave me a HUGE gift this year, and I probably would have noticed it sooner, if I hadn’t been busy being REALLY pissed off about it (typical). Anywho, in this latest episode of What God Gives When He Takes Away, I lost the ability to run/walk, BUT I FOUND MYSELF. Here is the very long-winded story of how that came to be.

This past year, it felt like the bottom dropped out at the same time that the roof blew off. I went back to work full time for all the wrong reasons, and, naturally, it was awful. My kids entered two “challenging” developmental stages AT THE SAME TIME (2 year old hitting me, 3 year old tantrums at all the times). If there was an injury to be had, I was having it, and surgery was in my near future. Finally, my 2 year old was up all night, and so was I. Ultimately, I was tired and in pain and really ready for Calgon to take it all away, and then a crisis occurred in my marriage.

Yes, Jesus, you can take the wheel, because I AM OUT, I thought. I just CANNOT, I believed. I planned for hip surgery, watched my children growing/exploding too fast for me to keep up with, and wondered, seriously, WHERE WAS I IN ALL OF “THIS” ANYMORE?

Spoiler alert: I was lost. And, as soon as I realized I was lost? I got angry.

I got super, duper angry. Like, mad at God and my husband and my parents and my uterus and the weather and the season and the year and THE WORLD (cue Godzilla voice on that last one for effect). Anyway, I was so darn pissed off (thank you, Jesus), that I broke right on through the haze I had been in and I WOKE THE F UP. I looked around me. I was like, WHAT THE WHAT? Nope. Not going out like this, sister.

You know what I have been doing way too much of over the last 4-5 years? BEING SMALL. Really. Like, shrinking to make space for my growing family. Shrinking to make space for my marriage. (Noble effort here, all around, but maybe I overdid it which is totally typical for me). It’s no wonder I was lost, because I had disappeared, shrinking to hide from things that needed me or, worse, that scared me, like:

Being a Mom. Wow, that is some scary business in the beginning for all the days, right? I have been super overwhelmed trying to figure this gig out, and it’s taken me some time to learn that I’m NEVER going “to figure it out,” so better to get back to being MYSELF, and let the rest work its way out. It sounds so simple, but trust that this took me 4 years to discover. Good times!

Being Married. Also, wow. Marriage is about the riskiest business in town, and guess what? I didn’t realize the risk until I was way the F married and trying to balance MYSELF with ANOTHER PERSON and doing ALL OF LIFE’S THINGS in partnership with SOME ENTIRELY DIFFERENT PERSON and NOT JUST ME and OUR KIDS ARE DEPENDING ON US so NO PRESSURE but SMILE FOR THE FAMILY PHOTO!

Let me say, here, that I LOVE my husband. He’s a wonderful guy. Marriage is hard even if you’re both Beyonce, and I’m not going to sugar-coat that for you, friends. We’ve had a long ass learning curve, my hubs and I, and he was not the one who asked me to shrink. I went ahead and did that on my own (it’s my thing).

In fact, I have 35 years of experience shrinking to make room for other people’s needs under my belt, and while I learned this behavior very young and it was the only way to survive back then, I know better now. My kids haven’t taken anything from me and neither has my husband. In fact, they’ve given me so many things, and the first thing on that list of gifts is A REASON TO GROW INTO MY HIGHEST SELF. Never has this been more pronounced than in the last year, when I have regularly found myself stopping and asking, in complete desperation: Who am I going to be for myself and for my family? This year gave me the perfect conditions to go and look for that person, and while I hadn’t planned on doing that search sitting down, I now realize it was exactly the way I had to go.

So, circling back to the point here, by the time the clock struck midnight on good ol’ 2016, I was already profoundly, deeply and painfully lost, and at a time in my life when being lost can easily go unnoticed (read: BUSY AF). I was surviving, hidden underneath all of the work and the issues and the stuff and the fears and the challenges and the everyone else. 2016 showed up and said: WORK. Or, in other words:

The Lord came down and granted me two silver crutches and said, unto me: Go, forth! And, be found, wise woman. Look deep, deep inside yourself while seated on your uncomfortable couch. There, you will find YOUR ANSWER.

Kidding. It way didn’t happen like that, but I did find myself having to spend time WITH MYSELF in a brand new way. At first and for a while, I was mad about it. I cursed the names of all those I loved. But, I came back. And I kept showing up. And doing my work. I’m still doing it, and finding lots of things along the way. I found my voice (EXHALE TIMES 1000 BC THAT WAS ANNOYING). I found my spirit. I found my faith. I found my COURAGE. I’m still scared, but I’m not hiding and I’m not going to be silent. Finding myself hasn’t taken away tough stuff, hard times, bad days and LIFE. But, it is giving me the courage to do the work with strength, with humor and with gusto-three things I hadn’t felt in a long time.

These times of upheaval are so intense and they hurt. It’s hard. It doesn’t make sense. Until you choose to let it. When you do, you have to hang in, and for longer than you may deem acceptable. Then, I promise you, because I’m THERE, DUDE: Something important is coming.

For some of us, we have to get REALLY uncomfortable and LITERALLY IMMOBILE in order to get found. Especially if you’re a high functioning person, like me. Because I tell you, guys, I would have kept myself busy doing all the things for all the others forever, if I hadn’t been stopped. And stuck. And handed these magic crutches.

If you’re in the DUMPS. If you’re L-O-S-T. If you’re feeling small and stuck and shriveling. You may need to sit down and do some searching. I’m no spiritual leader and I am NOT a therapist or even a person you should necessarily trust with your plants and pets, but I am really, truly tuned into myself for the first time in a while. And that feels like the most important thing in the world.

xo,

M

F— This Tree

*BAD LANGUAGE ALERT FOR THOSE WHO THINK FUCK IS BAD LANGUAGE. OOPS*

When my 4 year old is woken up from sleep, he is essentially cray, and the cray-ness can go on FOREVER. No amount of space, hugs, cuddles, bribing, surrender, hiding, etc can make it better. The only thing that works is TIME or EXHAUSTION (whichever comes first). Anywho, we had a doozy of an episode today after coming home, and while trying to get him in the house, I got stuck, by my hair, in the crepe myrtle tree in front of our house. Like, literally, a branch speared my top bun, and I could not go.

Now, y’all know I’m on crutches, but you don’t know that I was also carrying his backpack. And my purse. And his sister’s lunchbox (basically, I am a hobbling NINJA). There I stood. Stuck, stressed and so hangry. So, I did what any sane woman would do. I started crying and yelled, “F— this tree!” And you know what? I took a step/limp forward and my bun popped out, and I was free.

What I’m saying is: It’s okay, people. I cussed/cried in front of my kids in broad daylight while being harpooned in the hair by a flowering tree. You have a bad day, I have a bad day, my kid had a bad day. Get angry. Get into it. Then, get on with being human. No moment is forever, and no shitty episode is your whole story. Get outta that bind, and go write your own ending. Xoxo

#MomOfTheYear #SpearedButNotTaken #CrutchNinja

To My New Mama Sisters

Hey new moms! Are you inundated with unsolicited advice, tips, techniques and “parenting styles?” Great news! I have something to add (I know, right-JUST WHAT YOU NEED).

But, really. Let me say this to you, because I know you are hearing all of this noise from all directions, and I just NEED you to hear this:

Exactly what you are doing and exactly how you are doing it and exactly every single choice you are making is just so darn wonderful. Really. When you cried on the bathroom floor the other day because you were EXHAUSTED and your baby wouldn’t sleep for the zillionth time and you had NO IDEA what to do or if you would ever sleep again, YOU WERE JUST RIGHT.

You know what? Women used to raise their babies in villages with people all around to take and hold and shush and feed and love on the babies AND THE MAMAS, and we don’t have that anymore. Instead, we have books. The internet. That awkward mommy meet up group. And social media-the place where reality goes to get a facelift, a boob job and a “personality adjustment.” Let me tell you, boo. YOU ARE JUST FINE.

Some women will choose a way to do their work, and while it will work for them, it might be heinous-horrible for you. That’s cool! That’s alright. You’re going to find your way to do your work that’s going to work just right for you. Both of your kids are probably going to turn out just fine, and you know why? Because they’re human beings being raised by people who love them. You know what really won’t make a big difference? One size fits all parenting styles (I literally want to throw up in my mouth when people say the word parenting next to the word “style.” Is this a dress I am wearing? No. No, this is a big ass part of my life and I don’t have a style. I HAVE A ME AND MY HUSBAND AND MY CHILDREN. THE END). In other words, mama, when people try to shove their choices down your throat, RUN. Do not look back.

Also, regarding breastfeeding: THERE IS NO SHAME IF YOU DO, OR IF YOU DON’T. If you loved it, or if you hated it. If it worked, or if it didn’t. NO SHAME. Do not listen to the internet.* That is a place where bored people go to exercise their bad moods, and YOUR BLESSED HEART DOES NOT NEED THAT SHIT. One more thing: SLEEP. It’s going to happen. One day. Until it does, I pray you ask for people to come hold and help with your baby so that you can squeeze in what you can. I pray that you ask for help ANYTIME, and I pray you realize that long-term sleep deprivation is a kind of hell that will make you feel like Godzilla with a bad hangover, so however you find sleep, sister-RUN IN THAT DIRECTION.

One final note. I have ZERO tolerance for judgey mama drama. NONE. I have ZERO trust in people who think they have figured this gig out. Not a drop. Anyone who would judge any choice you make is being unkind, and you don’t want your child to grow up around unkind people, so like I stated above: RUN AWAY FROM THOSE PEOPLE. Perfect, shiny mamas are so lovely to look at, but that is not real life. You know what is real life? YOU. YOUR BRAND NEW BABY. Spit up on all the things. Tears. Fear. Uncertainty. Sadness. Primal joy. Boundless love. Fierce protection. Dread. Desperation. Exhaustion. Hope. Elation. More and always LOVE.

I am looking out for you because I have been you, and I keep getting to be you again, because as my children age, it’s always a new thing. And I NEVER know what I’m doing. But the more I do it, the more I realize that my BEST tools are my own intuition and instincts. That’s it! I’m sorry. I know that means you’re right back where you started, so I will remind you of what I said before: YOU ARE DOING THIS JUST RIGHT YOU SMART, BRAVE, BEAUTIFUL, SWEATING, CRYING, SMELLY PERSON. I love you.

Hugs, etc.,

M

*I realize I am being a hypocrite here, so what I’m saying is: Don’t listen to the internet, unless the internet is ME. Hey, I never said I was fair or made all the sense, did I?

Growing Up is Hard to Do

My son turns 4 next month. While he is still small, he seems sort of gigantic to me lately, and these 4 years are a blur. My pregnant and postpartum days are behind me, and it seems like all of a sudden that I’m no longer surrounded by toothless grins and pureed peas and babies slung onto my hip.

Those babies grew teeth and learned to eat their peas whole and now are too big to sit comfortably on my hips. Those days were exhausting and always new (I didn’t know whether I was up or down half the time), and I worked all the time, but without pay or much recognition. Caring for babies can seem like invisible work unless you’re the one doing it (or, perhaps, the one who has done it). But the urgency and the tenderness of the work is energizing in a way that always gave me strength when I most needed it.

Nowadays, I’m spending a lot of time realizing how futile my initial worries as a new mom really were. Breast or bottle? My babies did both, but mainly, they were fed. Cry it out or attachment parenting? Again, I did a bit of both, and eventually, they slept and not one of them better than the other. There’s nothing like having two children to make it glaringly obvious that tools, tips and techniques are only useful in good luck, and that what matters most is the simple act of giving love. Over and over, again and again.

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As I age, and my babies age, I am learning that the only way to give my children the love, empathy and support they need is to first give it to myself. And, this requires a kind of shift that I’d say is pretty difficult to make when you have tiny babies, but not as difficult to make once they’ve grown into mouthy, small children (albeit, CUTE and mouthy small children). Still, it takes real, conscious effort to learn to take the oxygen mask first, again. I still struggle, in my body, to believe that could possibly be the right thing to do. Some kind of person was born along with both of my babies, and that person is me, their mother. Getting to know this new person is no small feat, and I find it even harder to crack her code since she so often turns to her children and seems to identify, primarily, with them.

But, my babies are no longer babies, and their changing needs are changing me. Some days, accepting that I have to put effort, space, time, air and breath back into myself and back into my body in order to give to them feels like a strange punishment, an alien request, an inconvenient truth. The world is rough, and for a while it was made less so because I looked only at those two tiny bodies.
I want to teach them patience, so I must learn it. I want to teach them faith, so I must practice it. I want to teach them compassion, empathy and generosity, so I must discover how worthy of those things I am, myself. When my child cries, I can no longer pick him up to make it stop. I have to teach him to find courage and be vulnerable and feel his feelings-all things I still continue to learn. It’s all new work these days, and the thing is, the work is really all in me.

It’s strange and spiritual and simple how giving birth isn’t just about bringing a baby into the world. Raising children isn’t just about keeping growing bodies out of harm and learning right from wrong. Each year that my child grows, so do I, and this is as terrifying as it is wonderful.

All ye mamas on the brink of having babies, or watching your babies become toddlers and then children, I send you my sweetest, most tender hugs. The road forward is a heartbreaking, soul saving and life-affirming journey into yourself. I’m there, at least that much I know.

xo (here we go),
M

You Matter to Me

Guys,

This weekend, I’m taking a big, heartfelt break from social media/the internet to look my children in their eyes, wrap my arms around my husband and extend kindness and generosity to every human I come into contact with (y’all really need to try to bump into me this weekend). Anyway, I am doing this because I feel just BROKEN by this week. I promise I’m not turning away from the suffering, but I need to grieve and get real and put my feet on the ground and do some old fashioned human connecting.

Today, I rode home from my PT appointment and I rolled right up next to a car with their windows down pumping loud bass that vibrated into my car and into my legs. I looked over at the driver, a black man, and he looked over at me, and we smiled at each other. It wasn’t a big, loving smile, it was more like we accidentally met eyes for just a moment, so we did the instinctive thing. We acknowledged one another. We were kind. We behaved with respect.

We can all do that for each other. Especially right now, because so many are hurt and ANGRY. We know that so much is broken, but here’s something that is NOT: HUMANS. Humans are not broken. We’re confused. We’re scared. We’re hurt. We’re grieving. We’re victimized. We’re traumatized. We’re angry. We’re bitter. We’re fed up. We’re hopeless. We’re helpless. We’re powerless. We’ve got work to do. We can do it. We are not broken.

I want you to know that I have made a personal commitment to stand for black lives because I KNOW that I will never be free when my brothers and sisters are oppressed. I KNOW that my privilege gives me power and I can do something useful with that. I can be willing to talk about things that are uncomfortable. I can listen and hear things that are painful to hear. I can WITNESS the suffering of my black friends. I can witness the suffering of lost lives. I am stronger when I am standing than I am when I am sitting down. Everything I want to change ALWAYS starts with me, and I can start there and I can DO SOMETHING.

So, I’m going to take a couple of days and be gentle and brave and close to myself and to other humans. I encourage you to put your hands on your people, these days. Give and receive love, and be tender and kind and willing. Be held, and hold on. It’s your heart that is broken, not your spirit, not your body and not YOU.

I love you. Your life matters to me.

xo,

M

Trust Your Stuff

I’ve been thinking lately about “circumstances,” and how easy it is to be completely brainwashed by “the way things are going” from day to day or week to week or month to month (and so on and so forth). When things are working out for us, it’s no work at all to assume security, safety and confidence. But, when systems jam. And body parts do funky things. And our plans fall through. And we have to make choices, anyway. Shit gets scary.

Over the last few years, I have really been living into some unplanned circumstances and this has been big work for a control freak (there, I said it) like me (I mean). I like plans. Strategies. Putting all the correct pieces into the correct places.

I have had A LOT of work to do in learning TRUST on the deepest, gnarliest levels. I’m not knocking myself (and if you can relate, I’m not knocking you either), but I was getting in my own way for a LONG time because I really believed that in order to be strong, I could not be weak. In order to be good, I could not be wrong. In order to TRUST life, life needed to be kind and gentle. Maybe I would have gone on like this forever, guys. I could have kept on carving out my circumstances and rounding out all of the edges and just demanding peace and harmony, only.

Except, CHILDREN. And, MARRIAGE.

God, these people teach me so much, and I’ll never be able to thank them properly or allow them to adequately see the inside of my head and my heart and how dramatically things have just SHIFTED because THEY HAD TO.

Some people say God only gives you what you can handle, and if I reworked that, I’d say: TRUST YOUR STUFF.

When it feels too messy and too ugly and too painful. TRUST. When it looks too hairy and too big and too much. TRUST. When it hurts so hard and breaks so bad and feels like no way. TRUST. You’ll probably have to do other things later, and you will need more help and more support and more resources, believe me. But, take it from me, if you can start with TRUST. If you can put down that shit you are carrying with all of your might and just GIVE IT UP FOR A MINUTE. I’m not going to spoil it for you, but here’s a hint:

Relief.

Real life is so incredibly vulnerable. Raising kids is so incredibly vulnerable. Sharing a WHOLE LIFE with another person is so incredibly vulnerable. Writing about it on Facebook is incredibly vulnerable (well, I might as well mention it).

But, I am learning to TRUST my people. And more than that, THEY TRUST ME. And I just CANNOT do this any other way than THE TRUTH.

Trust your stuff. I’m doing it, too. It’s not organized, and just when you think you’ve got a clear picture, things’ll tilt on you again. But there’s magic in this devoted and floppy kind of moving forward. It’s less about getting it right and more about just getting it.

xo,

~M

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