Gentle Warrior

Oh, friends. I have been feeling so HARD lately. When I look at my country, when I look out at the world, the surface of my skin turns to rock, and I am hard. In every direction I turn, I can feel it: that brittle, rough and steely surface forming and forming fast. It is wrapping me up, and I am wrapping myself up in it. And, oh my goodness. It is not the way.

Listen, if I have learned anything from moving slowly and hardly at all last year, it is this: Gentle is the way.

What I learned (and forgot, so thanks for that shame spiral) was that gentle is also STRONG, because it can FEEL without immediately walling off, without ultimately shutting down. Gentle is open, while hard is closed. Gentle is deliberate. Rough is reactionary.

It isn’t just the world, either, that’s turning me to stone, lately. It’s my personal life. It’s that I’ve grown and changed, but then, I still have more growing and more changing to do. It’s that I’m awake to what works, and I can’t be asleep to what doesn’t. It’s that finding myself doesn’t mean that I figured everything else out. It’s that raising small kids can be relentless, and marriage is work, and I want to lie down and rest.

Rather than let myself lie down and rest, I’ve been pushing onward, steeling my face and my senses and my nerves against the wind, and barreling on like some kind of stoic soldier. This is a fool’s errand, because friends, of all the things I am in this world, I am farthest from being an actual, successful stoic soldier. I am literally a photo of an antonym to a stoic soldier- all warm hugs and tears at commercials and poetry over punishment. No, friends. The way for me is GENTLE. It is touching down and lifting up.

The voice was nagging at me this morning, and I realized I hadn’t heard from her in a while, so I shut up. And, I listened. Here’s what she said:

Do you know why you are angry? Because you’re being too hard. On everything. On everyone. On yourself, most of all. Do you know why you feel squeezed? Because you’re squeezing. Everything. Everyone. Yourself, most of all. Do you know why you’re squeezing? Because you are tired. Afraid. In need of rest over answers. Do not continue this search you’re on for the culpable party in every room. Doing hard things doesn’t mean YOU have to be hard. Doing hard things isn’t someone’s fault. Put down your sword and your shield. Walk over to that open window, climb through and walk into the light for a moment. There, there. Gentle, isn’t it? That’s your way, little one. Now, lie down. Take a rest.

Since the voice gave me a tender talking to, I have decided to hit a reset button on myself. I am going to unplug and restart, and while my data reloads, I am taking a nice, peaceful breather. I am going to plan a night away from my family, all by myself. I am going to take a morning and write and read and listen to music and not rush about. I am going to remove the finish line from my hip recovery. I am going to remove the scoreboard from parenting. I am going to let a few things figure themselves out without me doing all of the figuring. I am going to let the world be a mess. I am going to let my country be in upheaval.

I am going to clear the sweat from my brown, wipe the mud from my boots and cultivate a quieter, less resistant frame of mind. This is what I need right now. TO BE GENTLE.

Also, while taking this time to reboot Mira, I have considered loving and embracing all of these things I have felt steeled against. I have an inkling that if I can let be for a moment, then I can bring back my connection to what is broken without all of the baggage of immediate solutions and constant fear over what may be and what must be changed immediately. Patience, child, is what the voice says. You are not a stoic soldier.

No, I’m not. I am a gentle warrior. A fighter who cries. A woman who cannot do life like a rock. Back to it. <3

Onward,

M

What You Do Right Now is What Matters

I’ve been reading and following the teachings of Pema Chodron for roughly 12 years now. While I’m not a Buddhist, I do feel a subtle connection to Buddhist philosophy, and when it comes to Pema, well, her teaching nails me every time.

This morning, I awoke to this in my email inbox, as part of her weekly Heart Advice:

“The key instruction is to stay in the present. Don’t get caught up in hopes of what you’ll achieve and how good your situation will be some day in the future. What you do right now is what matters.”

It felt (and feels) like a good place to start, and to start over.

For the last week, I’ve been snowed in at home, unable to do my routine and my schedule in any normal pattern. I really rubbed up against being “stuck” at home, with nowhere to go, in the cold, surrounded by snow (cold + wet = huh?). I love my kids and love time with them, but being stuck indoors with them day in and day out felt like an imposition. I missed quiet and space to do my work, to show up here and just to be alone.

Also, I’ve been having a setback in my hip recovery, and I have been having ALL of the roller coaster feelings about it. Maybe it’s because the setback coincided with the holidays or with cold winter or with the new year or with the impending inauguration or with a snowstorm, but somewhere in there, I began to give the setback more control over me than I had over it. The setback started to MEAN something, and whatever it meant was BAD. I felt like I needed to ACT and CHANGE and DO SOMETHING, and then 7 inches of snow in southeastern Virginia and the world ground to a screeching halt, and say what?

Gang, I got SO swept up in this experience of wanting everything to be other than it was, in wanting to DEAL WITH THE SETBACK and HAVE MY PERSONAL SPACE and ADJUST WEATHER CONDITIONS and MOVE FORWARD AT ALL COSTS. I worked myself into such a tizzy, spinning a maze of a web around myself and almost, ALMOST missed the point, and the point is:

Right now.

Allow me to elaborate. All of my stories about what was or will be or ought to be are just actually, really and truly STORIES. Guys, I’m crying while I write this, because I mean this, and I know it’s true. Stories don’t matter. What was, was. What will be, will be. I can’t control a zillion things, and when I try to, I kill myself. What matters is RIGHT NOW. It’s a cliche you’d read on a bumper sticker and barely notice, but it is the way: What I do right now (in the present) is of most and highest importance. Always.

I just spent 2 weeks having an out of body because I’m afraid I’m never going to walk again. But, I missed something, and that something is WHAT IS ACTUALLY HAPPENING: I’m just having a setback. It is so simple and tender and normal. It’s just the progression of healing. Go forward, go forward fast, go forward faster-bump. Step back, get back up again. KEEP GOING.

I just spent 5 days worrying that I’ll never have a normal week again or get anything done again or breathe without locking myself in my bathroom again, but I missed something: It’s time for quiet and down time with my family. It’s time for reconnecting with them without a schedule. Even with my angst and anxiety, somehow, we managed to do that. Today, on day 5, I could feel that the kids and I had a renewed closeness. Usually, we are together every day before and after preschool (which is only half a day), but we’re always hustling to the playground or to appointments or to playdates or even just home. Without anywhere to go or anything to do, we could count on each other to just sort of be around. And, I think I needed that as much as my kids did.

Today, while doing my PT exercises, I noticed that I feel okay. I don’t feel bad. I’m not in alarming pain, and my discomfort is not through the roof. I am okay. I’m not moving quite as quickly and as well as I was a few weeks ago, but I’m moving okay. It is not the end. I do not have to throw in the towel.

All of this just reminds me to ask myself ever so gently to please slow down, and take a breath and be easy. I am not running a race or hosting a bake off. I am doing magical life experiences that are as basic as stringing bead necklaces with my children after lunch. I am doing an incredibly dynamic healing process that has been in the works for a particularly long time. I am a woman relearning her capacity, a mother first learning her ability. I am not up to the fast checkout lane. I am up to what I am doing right now. I am up to what matters.

It’s so easy to slide away from what is in favor of what could or would or should be, and I succumb to this tendency every time life shakes my personal snow globe, a little bit. Instead, reality. Right now: It is my work to bring my hands back together at my heart and refocus the lens on my eyes so that I can take in exactly what is around me while staying close to what is inside me.

Period.

Feels good to be back,

M

Start, Again.

I don’t often blather on about my walking status, because 1)it’s been such a winding experience and 2)I cannot afford to be “down” about it.

After all, I’ve been in and out of injuries for a few years now, gang. It’s not new to me, and I have grown used to some level of discomfort, for better or for worse.  I have done the thing where I drown in the challenges and the hard times and the difficulty. I know that when the swell of emotions associated with chronic pain and constant limitations and overwhelming financial commitments (medical care costs ALL the money) set in, I have to ride the wave. But, then. I have to do something else.

I have to get up and keep going. I have to trust. I have to try. And, when things that I’m trying prove unsuccessful, I have to try something else. I have to be resourceful. I have to put a lot of time and energy into being focused on where I am, and where I am headed. I have to leave out how I feel about it, and leave in what I am able to do about it.

Because, let’s face it. We have all got our shit storms, and from time to time, they make land. And, when they do, we all have to deal with what we have to deal with. I am one person dealing with my things, but I’m not alone or special in it.

The difference with my issue is that I wear it on the outside. You can’t miss my mess. I can’t cover it up with flattering clothing, or smear a wod of foundation across it. I can’t stuff it into too tight jeans or wrap it in a bright scarf and call it PERFECT, DAAAALING. I am here. Hobbling along. Stuck on my crutch. Not sure where the finish line is. Not yet, anyway.

Lately, I’ve been up and down about my leg. I’ve been frustrated and emotional and upset and angry. Again, I want this process to reach its completion. I have this urge toward a more “normal” life, where I can move around more comfortably, run after my kids without pain and wander the aisles of Target pushing a cart (I know, I have big plans for my life). Anyway, where I am isn’t always an easy place to be. I search myself for solutions, and I still come up needing a lot of help and guidance and support. Even then, I get on my way, but I go slow.

I get impatient with the slow pace. I get irritable with the one day at a time routine. I get pissed at the present moment. I get fed up with where I am.

Fortunately, when I begin to go to those places, a light bulb starts to flicker on, and I remember what to do next:

Stop. Deep breath. Touch down. Hold close. EXHALE. Start again.

The thing about hard things is they’re often a marathon. We don’t grow or learn or get strong by taking a one hour, online course in tough shit. Life doesn’t show us what we’re made of by sending us a pamphlet and scheduling a 30 minute telecon, so we can phone it in. It’s daily trudging through trenches that makes the journey worth the while, and every time I forget this, the universe conspires to remind me.

I’m not up to fast fix-its and overnight healing over here, although, if I could wave a wand and make it so, believe me, I would. Every time I want to give up and throw my crutch and beat the ground and throw up my middle fingers toward the sky, that is the time I MOST need to:

Stop. DEEP BREATH. Touch down. Hold close. EXHALE. Start again.

This is a basic pattern for operating all of life’s most difficult equipment, and some day, I’m going to be really grateful that I learned it. Even today, when I’m feeling so overwhelmed by the work still waiting for me, I have an inkling of that gratitude. Because, I CHOOSE this kind of journey. I CHOOSE this marathon. I WANT to be a person who is fully awake. And that means being awake in the light AND in the dark. I don’t get to cherry pick the experiences I must face along a road that I have already chosen and begun to walk along.

After all, this road has freed me from wasting time and energy on things that didn’t feed me, and I TRUST this freedom. I believe in it. And, believing in it means believing in me, and I do. I believe in me (cue the choir, please?).

I’m not okay, every day. I miss out on things, and I miss the more mobile me, something awful. Sometimes, I see other mothers or fathers doing things with their kids that I can’t do, and I feel sad for myself or, worse, sad for my kids. But then, I think about the other things I’m giving them, like ME- a mother who shows up for her hard things, every single day. I don’t give up, and I don’t back down. I struggle, but I always show up. They’ll never have to wonder if we can do tough shit together, because we’ve certainly proven that WE CAN. My kids don’t always see me as the most physical person, but they feel my presence, and they know I am right here. And, that’s because, even though I am limited, I am SO HERE. In the present, telling the truth, showing up no matter what.

I don’t talk about being hobbled because in so many ways, I don’t feel hobbled. I’m right here, showing up every day, and when I forget what I am up to, it’s as simple as:

Stop. DEEP BREATH. Touch down. Hold close. EXHALE. Start again.

And, I am back. Back to showing up, back to trust, back to believing in this and, above all things, BELIEVING IN ME.

xo,

M

Help V. Desperation

Guys,

I’m going to try to be brief today (WHO AM I KIDDING), because this day is chasing me down like a something or other. Here’s what I need you to know:

I had a capital bad news bears day. First of all, I was running late to PT, and then my door handle on my car stopped working. Guys, I got stuck inside my car in broad daylight. With the damn crutch. I’m losing my mind trying to figure out how to get out, before giving up and crawling (more like scrambling) over to the passenger seat (with the crutch, I mean-JESUS) and getting out the passenger side. I was verklempt, but I was getting over it.

Then, bad news about medical insurance. I’m going to leave out details here, but let’s just assume that whenever the healthcare industry is involved, excessive inefficiency and SOME CRAZY ASS BULLSHIT is involved. Anyway, so some bad news. I have to make a million phone calls, and spend a lot of time back and forth between providers and insurance and do I have time for this? Does that matter? Did I just escape my car in tears with a crutch out of the side door?

Moving on. I was upset. I had work to do, so I did it. I picked up my kids from preschool and we came home and spent the afternoon avoiding a full out pre-k toddler brawl. No one napped. Everyone was fidgety. We needed something, and we didn’t know what. One child tried to assault the other, and the other, in retaliation, stole the other’s calico critter car and ran away into hiding. It was just ENOUGH.

Anywho, these were not life threatening emergencies going down, but let’s call them stressful situations. And, in the midst of that stress, I started to feel an old, hairy feeling (cue loud booming sounds and high-pitched wailing now, please?):

DESPERATION.

Do you know desperation? No, problem. I DO! Desperation and I date back to EARLY DAYS IN LIFE, and when desperation comes calling, I know what he wants:

TO STEAL ALL HOPE AND COURAGE AND SANITY.

He’s kind of a dick (there, I said it). Anywho, Desperation set in, and I began to FORGET all of the things that I have worked very hard to know and trust and rely on. I began to REMEMBER what I do with Desperation, and I began to behave in an old-fashioned, desperate sort of way. I got scared. I thought the worst. I reached out in wrong directions.

Fortunately, life is a spiral (we’ll unpack this another day), and I get to keep facing the same things on repeat (great), so I was familiar with the WRONG things. I was well-acquainted with Desperation’s cronies. I got halfway to the dark side before I REMEMBERED:

Not you, sister. This is not your cross to carry, anymore.

So, guys. EXHALE, okay. Because I put my hands around Desperation, and I held him close and I told him that I appreciate him for showing up and not leaving me here all by myself, but no thank you. Also, LEAVE, BITCH.

And, it took a minute, but I figured out that:

I just really do need the help of all kinds of different people in my life, right now. I kind of rely on that help. This is a vulnerable and scary place to be. I NEED people, and when that need feels threatened, old man Desperation comes a calling. He means well, but I need something else.

I need to take a deep breath. Pull back. Sit up straight. Ask for help.

So, in my case, that asking for helping part is going to be more complicated and inconvenient. It means that I have to make a million phone calls, and talk to all the people and complete paperwork, take my car to the shop, etcetera, etcetera. It’s not ideal, but it’s the way to help, so I will not complain. After all, these are irritating things to deal with, but they are NOT the end.

And, that reminds me: Desperation shows up because, for a very long time, I thought that when things got hard, IT WAS THE END. Something scared and small and primal and dependent in me shot up like a firecracker and exploded into survival tactics and complete and utter chaos. Something broken and fragile and not enough and unable in me rolled out and spread out into whimpering and worrying and wondering.

What I needed then, is what I need now: Help. Plain. Simple. Period.

What I couldn’t always get my hands on then, is what is readily accessible to me now: Help. Plain. Simple. Period.

I’m starting over tomorrow. All the phone calls. All of the focus. All of the things. I am a grown ass woman, after all, and I can DEAL with inconvenient, difficult times. Yes, I can!

Also, I am going to ask YOU for help. Right here, right now, TONIGHT. Because I could use your wishes and faith and belief. I could use your wish for me to feel STRENGTH through this process (would one of you mind sending me that wish?). I could use your wish for me to feel SAFE through this process (somebody else, can you send me that prayer?). I could use your FAITH IN ME, right now (I’m gonna ask 3 of you to send that, because, you know?).

I am NOT DESPERATE, after all. I am just a little bit afraid and a little bit overwhelmed. Nothing new! Been here, done that, have the mug (maybe have two-let’s be real!).

THANK YOU.

xo,

M

What I Leave Behind

Listen, I know last year was a doozy. I know few people who aren’t reeling from one event or another, whether it be political or personal. It’s just been A YEAR for gut checks and reality checks and bounced checks, and I know I have spent many days on my knees asking for relief.

BUT.

As this year is finally coming to a calendar close, I feel different. I feel grateful. I feel trusting. I feel worthy. I feel capable. I don’t feel bowled over by the challenges and the work ahead. The idea of what I face as a person, as a woman, as a mother, as a member of my community, my state, my country and my world-it doesn’t feel too big for me. I feel sized just right to take on what comes.

That’s because 2016 gave me many things, including and especially my WHOLE SELF. I am not a fragment awaiting completion. I am not a victim awaiting a savior. I can be annihilated and still do things. I can be unable to do things and still be enough. I am not intimidated by harsh reality. In fact, I am driven directly toward it. Last year, I asked 2016 to bring it on, without realizing how unprepared I was to face hard things. I had to work hard, and 2016 gave me that opportunity. Thank goodness!

Now, I have more work to do, but I’m in better fighting shape. I know what I am bringing to the table, and I know that I have so much still to learn. So, I’m stepping into the new year filled with curiosity and anchored in trust that life will show me the way (it always does!).

There are a few things I need to leave behind in 2016, though. Because they no longer fit my life. When I put Whole Mira back together this year, a few pieces just didn’t make sense anymore. They stuck out or looked wrong or just weren’t part of my makeup anymore. Today, it’s a good day to say thank you, and buy-bye. Because what I do not need, I will not lug behind me. Not anymore.

You know what I’m leaving behind in 2016?

Toxic people. Listen, I have worked way too hard to be dragged down by those who haven’t done their work. The best way I can lift others up, is by focusing on my work, and I can’t focus on my work when I’m bogged down with baggage that doesn’t belong to me. I’m going to stand for you by refusing to shrink or whittle or wilt to make anyone feel more comfortable or more secure. I’m going to be brave for you by continuing to rise up with my voice and speak the truth. No matter what.

Self-Doubt. Okay, so I’m not going to be able to wave a wand and magically eliminate self-doubt from my life, but I am leaving behind it’s control over me. I’m saying GOOD RIDDANCE to self-doubt riding shotgun in my life. Like I’ve said before, the voice inside me told me I have work to do, and I can’t do this work if I’m always giving up on it because I think I can’t. I have no idea how things will turn out, and I know that sometimes, I will fail. I have to stick to the voice, at all costs, and that means that self-doubt can come, but its power stays behind.

The Drive to Harmonize. Guys, I am an empath, and that means that I FEEL deeply. I pick up on the people around me. I feel you guys so hard, and I don’t want to change a thing about that. What I do want to change is my tendency to exploit my own empathy for the sake of making everyone feel better. It is not my job to make you feel better. I want WHOLE YOU, but I’ll never give you the chance to get there if I’m lining all of our interactions in velvet and cashmere. The stakes are too high in our world, and I HAVE WORK TO DO. I need to stare back at things that don’t FEEL GOOD, like the REAL WORLD (including, misogyny, systemic racism, patriarchy, poverty and war), and then I need to tell the truth.

Worry About What Other People Think. Oh, darlings. I care so much about the people in my life, and every one of you. But, I can’t sit around worrying about what or how you think I am. Your ideas are your own, and they have nothing to do with me. They aren’t my business. They aren’t my work! You see, I am WHOLE MIRA. You are WHOLE YOU. I get to write my story, and you get to write yours. Isn’t that wonderful? Liberating? Frightening? But, so special and magical and original? We’re up to creating, you and I. I am leaving your story to you, and I thank you for leaving my story with me.

Placing My Value Outside. 2016 gets to keep the last pieces of me that thought I wasn’t enough, UNLESS. That I wasn’t worth it, UNTIL. I was waiting in vain until this year, babies! The train had already pulled into the station, and I was right here. All along! Hot damn! Hello, 2017. I am ENOUGH.

I am lighter this way, and I can go distances this way, and I was meant for distances, so I know this is the way.

 

xo,

M

The Paradox of Pain

Here is what I know about rising and falling: They belong to each other.

I really had to take a nose dive this week, and because I don’t do anything “small,” when I dove, I dove all the way. I took a good 2 days to sink, and I allowed the weight of things to carry me down. Once I got good and down to the depths of myself, I took my time. I let in whatever showed up. I did not run. I did not rise.

After 2 days, something shook my leg, cut the cord around my ankle and pushed me up. Before I was aware of what was happening, I was rising up-head back above water. Taking in air. Eyes searching for the shore.

“Time to get back to work,” said the small voice inside me.

The paradox of pain is that once you let yourself feel it fully, it loosens its grip. It lets go. It says, thank you for being with me. Now, up you go. Pain won’t necessarily disappear just because you decide to show up and drop into it, but it WILL CHANGE. Because your relationship to pain will change. Because you will change.

This week, I said yes to my pain. I dropped in, looked at it with shaky eyes and said: Okay. Let’s do this. You and me, baby.

And, pain, the sweet sister to brother comfort said, “Thank you for being with me.” We spent a couple of days together, and she filled me with the sorrow and the shakiness I’d been holding back. She rocked and she rolled me in my fear, she held me in my grief and in my loss, she listened while I sang to her about being scared and sad and wounded and alone and angry. She waited with me until every wince and ouch and sting and burn and spasm and weakness and tightness had worked its way through me. Then, she looked back at me and said, “Up, you go.” And, she let me go.

What I’m saying here is that pain is complicated, but WORTH IT. We live in a world that applauds confidence and go-getters and glossy pictures and shiny filters and airbrushed and contoured and looking good and always can-do attitudes, but WE ARE SO MUCH MORE. The only way I have ever learned to do hard things is BY DOING THEM. By falling down, and getting up. The only way I grow closer to myself is by embracing EVERY PART OF ME. Including the wounded places, the sharp edges and the parts that just ACHE. This is the only way I know how to be a whole person, and guys, I AM A WHOLE PERSON. Why be anything else? What else is there to be, anyway?

I promised you and me both that I would show up-whether I am on the other side of the finish line, or melting down in the middle of the race. Rising, or falling.

And now, back to work. I’ve got my head above water. Eyes on the shore. Off, we go.

xo,

M

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Next Right Thing

Oh, friends. I started to write you yesterday and today about the stress and the pace of the holidays. The way the spending always gives me the heebee jeebies. How tired I am. How so very overwhelmed this time of year can often feel for me.

But, as I wrote and I kvetched and complained, something else showed up for me. And, it was this:

I am just really struggling, right now.

I really want to walk. I want my feet and my legs to work right. I want to get up and go. I want to stand up and move. The demands of the holidays are one big, fat reminder of how limited I am. Of how crippled I feel. I am myself, but I don’t move like me. I know something bigger is at play here, but I tell you what: I can’t see it right now.

I can’t see it at all, today.

What I can see is everything that I really want to create in my life. I can see it CRYSTAL CLEAR. And, being benched and riding the sidelines with that vision just dangling in front of me, HURTS. I keep telling myself to be patient. I keep willing myself to have faith. I keep touching the wounded place with my gentlest touch. But, today, I can also see that I have a long way to go.

Somehow, I really need to bridge that gap. Today. Because, I have searched myself, and I have determined that there are a variety of ways to deal with my current emotional and physical state, and none of them feel as right as this:

I need to give myself the gift of knowing what I know. Right now, that means knowing my goals. Even if I don’t know how the hell I am going to get there. Somehow, if this vision is what I can see through the clouds, then THIS is what I will focus on right now. Even if it hurts and feels like a promise I don’t know how to keep.

Either way, I have learned that there are days when I can only do the next right thing, and today is that day. Telling you what I want to create for my life, what I see for myself, is the only right thing:

I want to walk in the sand beside the ocean.

I want to swim in the ocean.

I want to play with my kids in a green field.

I want to walk for 30 minutes without stopping.

I want to write about what I want to write about.

I want to volunteer for the Up Center and Planned Parenthood.

I want to pick up my daughter.

I want to run with my son.

I want to ride bikes with my children.

I want to pay off my hospital bill.

I want to get rid of my couch (okay, maybe burn it, but that seems dramatic, so I will stay medium on that).

I want to wear sandals.

I want strong legs.

I want comfortable feet.

I want more than all of the baby steps that I have been living on. You know I have supreme gratitude for my health and the health of my children and our family. I know I am LUCKY. I also know that I see more. Reconciling  those two feelings can feel like an awkward battle between two well-meaning friends that really just want some kind of goddamn harmony. So, I say, maybe harmony tomorrow. For today, a struggle.

I gave a dear friend advice the other night, and it seems relevant for me, today:

“You don’t have to feel better, right now. You just have to keep moving.”

Thanks for moving with me, gang. Needed that.

xo,

M

Bye, 2016 (Also, THANK YOU)

Guys,

My famous last words from last New Year’s Eve were: Bring it, 2016. I don’t know why I felt the need to taunt this year and it’s precise blend of RAGE AGAINST ALL OF HUMANITY, but I do know that 2016 went ahead and BROUGHT THE NOISE as soon as I decided to raise my hand and ask for it (for so many of us, so I know I’m not alone in this). Convenient. Classy. Anyway, thank you!

After all, WHAT A YEAR this has been. I want to call it bad names and curse it or shame it, but I KNOW BETTER when it comes to 2016. That chic is a straight up beast with a bad attitude and a generally terrible disposition to boot. I’m not fighting her anymore (the more I fight her, the scrappier and dirtier she fights). I have learned, so nope. I’m doing something else, instead. I am doing a new thing!

I am saying THANK YOU. I am shaking her hand. I am giving her a solid nod and a wink and acknowledging that SHE HAD TO COME INTO MY LIFE. There was never any other way. Blessing, curse…what’s the difference anymore? Stick me with all good things or stick me with shit, but the question still remains:

What am I gonna do about it? In this case, I decided to learn.

Because, 2016, in her volatile, violent and disturbing way, taught me. And, before I can wave goodbye to that mangy, beady-eyed bitch for once and for all, I just know that I have to look back and reflect on the things she gave and the (many) things she took away. I’m not sorry she came and did her deed. I’m not sorry I had to struggle. I respect this cranky brat for who she is, and I AM ON HER TEAM. 2016 giveth, and 2016 taketh away.

So, without further ado. I write to you directly, 2016.  THANK YOU, you bloody something or other, THANKS. Because of you, I grieved and changed and grew and tapped in and tuned out and got back on track. I don’t know that I’m about to change the world, but I know I am changing somebody, and that somebody is MOI. Peace, sister. Because of you, this:

I remember myself
When you want to create change, there’s no better way to do it than to take a bat to the essential areas of one’s life, and 2016 bought her batting arm to mine. After shattering all the things that matter, 2016 left me to pick up the pieces and put them back together (BITCH). BUT. She didn’t leave me alone. She sent all the right people into my life to keep me company, so that I could speak and write and cry and hug my way through, telling the truth the WHOLE DAMN TIME. Somewhere, in that process, I remembered myself. I remembered my strength (it looks totally different now that I have put me back together). I remembered my courage, and I remembered my purpose: To connectTo tell the truth.

Needed that, so, thanks 2016.

I woke the F up about my impact in this world
I really thought that I was doing enough by being “aware” of issues that were obvious and in my line of vision (I know, I know). I thought that systemic racism wasn’t an URGENT problem for ALL OF MY COUNTRY, and I thought that patriarchy wasn’t actually RUINING IT for all of humanity (politics, women, families, everything). I thought that equality was closer than it was, I thought that I was evolved and a part of change and I thought I was doing enough (I was so not doing enough). 2016 said, WOMAN, YOU ARE ASLEEP. She lumbered into my room, grabbed my sleeping head and dunked it into a toilet filled with REALITY and URGENCY. She pulled me up for a quick breath of air, and she said one thing only: We need you. Now, wake the F up.

Needed that, too. So, thanks 2016.

She filled me with love
This one is tricky, because 2016 is an ass backward kind of gal, and she did not come at me with rose petals and tender love songs. 2016 operates on TOUGH LOVE ONLY, and she delivered like the soldier that she is. She hammered at me in my most vulnerable places. She discovered every hole in my sad story about not being ENOUGH of a mother, woman, wife, human, and she drove whole mack trucks through them (that hurt, 2016!). It was hard to hear and hard to accept and I fought her for a long time. I kept telling her to get off my back and leave me alone and stop riding my ass, but she is a relentless something or other, and she held on until I CRACKED. I cracked WIDE OPEN. And, when I did? She filled me right up. She brought a magic mirror and she held it in front of my face and I had to look (because, what else?) and when I looked: ENOUGH. A human shaped vessel filled to the brim with ENOUGH. Tiny, floating particles of ENOUGH just swirling and whirling around inside my now see-through skin, because underneath, 2016 said, YOU ARE LOVE.

Damn, 2016. REALLY NEEDED THAT ONE. Thanks, boo.

She gave me faith
When things fall apart, I don’t know what other people do, but I turned to just about everything first, before I turned to faith. I decided it was good to drink more wine at night, or be angry more, or spend more time on social media, or cut off relationships, or just generally rage in the direction of God. It took me a minute, but when I finally broke down and chose faith, I found the ground again. And, the ground felt good. I’m still at work here, because faith is a big part of my life’s journey. My relationship to God is always evolving, but this year, I remembered how IMPORTANT that relationship is, and how much value I place on my connection to God (the universe, the mother, spirit, whatever you call it). Faith tells me to PAY ATTENTION and to TRUST what lands in my path. Faith turns all circumstances into a process, an adventure, something meaningful and also simple work that must be done. It is bare bones. It is rainbow colored unicorn feathers. This year, faith reminded me to show up and tell the truth. As soon as I trusted that message, THE GROUND (exhale).

Thank you, 2016. I so needed that.

Girl, you’ve been an angry, old, itchy cat on a warpath, but you have been hard at work and up to big business, so I forgive you. In fact, I honor you. I bow to you. Please forgive me for being such an unruly and unfriendly pupil for so long. Smooches to you, you mean, old hornet.

Now, let’s do a new thing, and call it 2017. Pass the baton. Onward and upward. And most of all, thank you.

xo,

M

 

 

Somebody, Somebody

Okay, so more housekeeping, because I learn as I go, and I go as I learn. I am not going to be publishing my writing every single day. I have learned that, in my particular circumstances, THAT IS MADNESS. I am writing every day, but some days, I need to chew the fat and put words on a page without having to share them with all of the internet. I went into this knowing that I don’t have all the hours in the day to put into this, and I still committed to doing what I can with what I have, EVERY DAY.

This means that yesterday I somehow woke up having nothing to say. So, I had to write for a while until I landed on something that felt like it needed unpacking. Right about the time I started unpacking it, bam! All the family was home and ready to party (and I want to be with those people and party), so I had to leave the work where it was. And, where it was, was so NOT finished.

Since I am a stickler for some things, like finishing what I’ve started, it feels unfair to my ideas and my time and my work and even to you, to have to force this process. What I came here to do was to write every day. To tell the truth. To have fun. To do what I love, every single day.

And, hey! I’ve been doing that! For over two weeks! Look at me!

What I’m saying is, let us continue down this path with continually more “down to earth” expectations (read: medium level performance) knowing that I will always show up, but you may have to wait a day or two to see me.

On another note, the holidays are KICKING MY ASS TO THE CURB. I am drowning in this pace, and I am fully swept up in my children’s straight up “Santa for President” style. I know things will slow down again in January, but for now, I just need to keep making space and room and wider and opener so that I can catch my breath and have a damn minute. THANK GOD I CHOSE TO START THIS PROJECT RIGHT NOW, also: WHAT WAS I THINKING STARTING THIS PROJECT RIGHT NOW?

Life, you know?

Love you guys. Mean it.

xo,
M

Way-Finding

I took my nearly 3 year old daughter to see Moana in the movie theater yesterday. I cried 3 (maybe 4) times, and just NEEDED THAT MOVIE SO HARD. Yes, crying IS my love language, and when in doubt? I cry (crying is the original “cleanse,” I’ll have you know).

Anyway, this movie is about a brave, climbing, running, quick-thinking girl, born to her village’s chief and living on an island somewhere in the Pacific. As a toddler, Moana begins to feel “called” to the ocean. Even as her father pushes her to stay away from the “dangerous” ocean and to stay within the limits of her island’s lagoon, she never quite can shake her innate connection. She is destined for something (she can feel it). She doesn’t know who she is, but she knows that it’s likely to be found in that deep water stretching just beyond a place her eyes can see.

It takes her beloved grandmother’s dying words, a wild, adventurous trek across the ocean with a so-called demi-God named Maui and a whole lot of facing fear head on, again and again, for Moana to see who she is: An explorer. A way-finder.

YOU GUYS.

I only cried two of the several (cough) times because of the actual movie. The rest of the time, it was something else. It was my daughter beside me. It was me inside me. It was the persevering way-finder in me. It was the fierce explorer in her. It was this:

We will never find ourselves by staying safe on our tiny, private islands. We don’t find “the way” by never leaving what is comfortable.

When we refuse to hear our call, to listen to the small voice inside, when we shut down to ourselves and turn on to everything else, we die a little bit. When we decide that there is an US and there is a THEM, when we start building walls around ourselves, when we hold back and sit down and shrink up, we become blind. We believe we aren’t possible, we believe we are insignificant and have no agency and no power to chase our destiny.

If I wanted to, I could look back and forward and feel pissed or frightened. I could lock down, and choose comfortable and quiet. After all, I still don’t walk well (I’m still using a crutch), and I do not move fast. There are whole loads of activities that I simply can’t do. Then, there are many activities that I can do, but I get a lot of stares and pity. If I wanted to, I could be annoyed by these circumstances. I could be envious of what other mothers are physically able to get up to. I could wish to run and move fast and chase my kids all over tarnation. OR. I could choose something else, because:

I was living on a tiny, private island of discomfort, rage and isolation. Then, life brought wind and rain and disease to my village. The plants started to dry up and the fish began to die. I knew that I wouldn’t survive if I stayed. As coincidence would have it, I discovered a boat that had always been there, and I struck out on the ocean. Something told me to go. Something said NOW.

Once out on the great, wide sea, I found my sea legs. The voice grew louder and it became familiar (I know this woman, I discovered!) and it told me the truth: I AM SO MUCH MORE than anything I can see. I stretch far beyond the horizon and I reach beyond the depths of the sea. I am not only a woman, a mother, a spouse, a friend, a daughter, a neighbor, a cousin, an aunt, a niece. I AM A WAY-FINDER. I was born to explore, to search out new islands, to strike out when the voice tells me to, to do things that bring me closer to myself and closer to my world.

I wasn’t designed to keep up with appearances or trends or whole groups of people. I am always made for my OWN journey, in my OWN time, in my very OWN way. It seems backwards, I know, but by belonging to myself first, I become more deeply connected to the world around me.

My circumstances FREED me from that tiny island I was living on. When I can’t walk, I have to sit still, and when I have to sit still I have to listen closely. When I listened very closely this year, I heard my own voice for the first time in a long time. It told me about my worth and my value, and it reminded me that the way is always inside me. Even when the sea is raging, and I’m caught up in a storm I don’t know how to navigate, there is the voice (YOU ARE ENOUGH, WOMAN). And, when the voice disappears, and I’m sitting in silence, not sure what to do, something else happens. I call on my way-finding skills, and I strike out on my own. When the way won’t find me, I find it. 

It has me thinking that I can’t possibly be the only way-finder out there. There must be zillions like me, just waiting to strike out and take off on their own adventures with voices waiting to be heard, telling them to leave their tiny, private islands and EXPAND. Voices telling them, just as I’ve been told, to go to great lengths and to have infinite trust and to pay attention and to CHOOSE the journey over the finish line. Because:

If you CHOOSE to bring magic into your life, don’t be surprised when your life becomes MAGICAL.

Way-finding is my calling, and I don’t have to heed the call, but I WANT TO. Not just for me, but for my daughter and my son (also, born explorers). Whenever I worry that I won’t know how to teach them how to see their power and their possibility in this big, broken ass, busted up world, I just have to remember to stick to way-finding. The way will find us, and when it won’t? We will find the way.

xo,
M

 

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