I Am An Ocean

There is a thing
about legs.
And, standing your ground, on two feet,
no matter the conditions.

My legs turned into trees,
cut down,
made into lumber,
or paper,
really. They didn’t (or, couldn’t)
work the way they used to.

I had to stop using them
to remember
that they aren’t everything.
They are legs.
I can stand with them, and I can stand
without them.
Which way would I like to stand?
Is the question.

There were stories buried in my hips, locked away
in my pelvis. When I was a girl and was afraid
of falling apart or being seen or being pulled down and broken up
again.
My hips bore my babies, carried me through, surviving storms
and sorrow.
When I did not know how to stand, my hips moved me.
When I could not walk, my legs carried me
for a long time. Until, it was too long
and too much.

Too much, or not enough-the titles to the stories
inside. If it’s too much, it must
shrink.
If it’s not enough, it must
strive.
In the middle, in my pelvis, the truth
was always there-I am neither
too much, or
not enough.

I am beloved.
Perhaps, mighty, and sometimes
very small. I can tower above
a mountain. I can drop like concrete to the
ocean floor.
I can curl into a chrysallis, or explode,
like some brave, new beginning.

Every detail, or complication
is a river that runs through me,
flowing into this body,
this ocean,
this enormous, waving me.

And, I am water, but I am earth,
because I fill and feed the roots that spread out
underneath me. The ground
is there, or it isn’t, but I flow on.

I have walked when I could not stand,
I have stood when I could not walk.
I have fallen, I have risen, I have waited,
I have wanted.

I move like water.

I am water.

I am an ocean,
after all.

Mira.

-Mira Roberts

Listening

It has been hard to find my voice this year. I don’t know if it was being without working legs for so long, or being tired of having not-working legs for so long. I don’t know if it was feeling like I didn’t stack up, like I’d never stacked up, and now, with these non-functioning legs as proof, I DEFINITELY didn’t stack up.

I don’t know. It could be that I still don’t know a lot about what is happening inside me these days, and I really, desperately want to show up in this the world from a place of knowing.

Since I’ve been injured, I have felt like my vulnerabilities are hovering around me like some sizable and rather obvious rain cloud that everyone can see. If I ever worried that I was different, well, on crutches for a year, I most certainly confirmed that point. If I ever tried to do it all alone, then moving with the aid of sticks for 395 days made it particularly obvious that another way was probably necessary. If I’d ever felt afraid to be unsure, or ashamed to be broken, then this year, my body decided it was time to endure with WITNESSES.

I did not want witnesses this year, guys. I wanted everything fixed and back to normal and all better. I wanted my life to look better than it felt, and I wanted my feelings to be easily washed away with a glass of wine or an ultra busy week of over-scheduling or taking on more than I physically could handle. I wanted no one to see me like this, because THIS was actually how I already saw myself. But, that was on the inside. And, I didn’t like living my insides out loud.

This year, the mailman, the cashier at Harris Teeter, every single one of my neighbors, the preschool teachers, ALL OF THE MOMS AND THEIR SQUADS, the teller at the bank, my mother, the kid who lives down the street, my ob gyn, my dentist, the kids’ dentist and EVERY OTHER HUMAN I INTERACTED WITH were MY WITNESSES.

I smiled through it, but god. On the inside, I was sandpaper on a chalkboard.

I had to ask for help, all the time. Every single time I needed help and did not ask, my body broke out into a crazed pain dance, and I became NAILED by my needs. Needs? I didn’t used to have those! This year, they were everywhere and they were MINE.

For a while, this revealed how many relationships I had built around never needing. It showed, right away, who knew how to help and show up. It revealed the people who could not sit with me in the shadows. It also gave me the gift of many people who could. Friends and family members who could sit beside me, heart to heart, and witness without weight. Who could abide my being a whole human. Who could nurture my insides all strewn about on the outside. When you’re hurt or sick or struggling, life drops the ones you need and the ones you don’t like plastic parachute army men all around, and it becomes obvious what is helping and what is hurting.

You have to make choices, and I have had to make mine. But, as my last form of resistance, I decided that I would make the choices, but I didn’t have to like them.

Until, I do like them. After wearing my insides on the outside for 395 days of my life, I now prefer this softer, slower, truer me. Small talk and pretend conversations now feel like sandpaper on a chalkboard, and I am not an always strong person who needs no one and stands alone on two legs for the world to see.

So often last year, I looked out at the world on two legs, and I didn’t measure up. Because I could no longer measure my self worth based on how I made my life look, or on how much I accomplished or achieved or could do. If I wanted to belong, then I had to belong to myself, first. Belonging to myself has meant embracing struggle, softness, slow going, doing nothing and not being in control. In fact, my crutches allowed me to stay true, and they helped me to be whole, even though true and whole have occasionally been terrifying to be.

In the end, I have had a hard time finding my voice, because the voice I’ve been looking for isn’t mine.

My voice is the one that cracks a little when she tells the truth. My voice sounds equally like someone I no longer am, and like someone I am becoming. It isn’t figured out. I don’t know.

I do know that I have to go slow. Listen to my body. Pay attention to pain. Be easy. Move forward with grace. And, stay true, even when it stabs me and scares me and takes my breath away.

xo,

M

There is More to Pain

I know I haven’t learned all that pain is here to teach me, but I have learned a few things. And, one of the most important of those things I’ve learned is that:

There is more to pain than hurting.

I didn’t know this for a very, very long time. In fact, for all of time until recently. I didn’t know because the hurting part of pain has always had a way of stopping me in my tracks. The hurting part of pain triggered self-induced paralysis, so that I would feel the hurt, and immediately shut down. I would cry out to the hurt: Stop it! I would say to myself: I can’t take anymore.

And so began this circular and not terribly productive process:

I try to numb pain. I try to hide pain. I try to hide myself from pain.

I did that, and sometimes still do that, because the hurting part of pain scared me. A small hurt can become a powerful hurt when you add even a dab of fear to it. Since I have always had an open-access pipeline to full-fledged fear at my fingertips, I could really pile it on. Add it in. And, make the hurting part the only thing I could feel or see or taste or touch or believe in.

So, I didn’t know that the hurting part of pain is only the first part, just one part, only one piece among many pieces. I thought that hurting was THE POINT of pain.

But, friends, believe me. There is more.

This Spring, pain moved in on me fast and heavy. It wrapped its arms around me, and before I could even put my arms up to try to stop it or resist it or run away, it was all around me. In my body, in my head, curled around my heart. So, I gave in. I dropped in. I felt the hurting part of pain first, and instead of pushing it away, I touched it gently and said, “Okay.”

And, after being inside that hurting part for several days, I felt something change. The intensity turned down, and pain stopped simply hurting. Something new began to make its way through me, and this new thing was a part of my pain. In fact, my pain started to look, feel and sound like something else entirely. Pain, in my body, said a brand new thing that I had never heard it say before:

I am here to help.

Oh, friends. This is where it gets interesting, because what I know now about pain is that it most certainly is NOT just about being hurt. Pain is also about healing. Pain is about the truth. Pain is the things I have been carrying. Pain is the fear I’ve been harboring. Pain is the story I’ve been clinging to. Pain, as it turns out, doesn’t let go until we do. Pain doesn’t stop on command. Pain has a message, and it is a relentless messenger. It won’t leave until we let it in. It won’t move on until we move through it. It didn’t come here to simply hurt. It came to heal wounds.

Pain is also trying to help.

This is a really important distinction to make, because often, when we talk about healing, we think it’s a feel good process. We think it’s ONLY relief. We think the relief and feeling better parts are the only parts about healing. And, what we miss is that healing hurts. Pain heals. This is a partnership, a package deal. Nobody gets to have only the good times healing, and we can’t remove the hurting part from pain. In fact, maybe nothing is the way we thought it was. Maybe that’s the point. After all.

Pain has been revealing to me over and over and over again (can I get a witness on the way pain will NAG like a BOSS) that what hurts is what needs healing, and what needs healing is painful. It hurts. My pain is NOT my problem. The things I am carrying are my problem. The things I’m holding onto that are no longer serving me are my problem. The places that remain jagged and braced for the worse and afraid to hurt are my problem. Pain is just the messenger. Pain came here to reveal. Pain came to teach, and pain came to help me heal.

So, from here on out, I am going a new way with my pain. And, that way is to trust it’s message rather than to fear it. This new way I’m on scares me, but I finally know that it’s the right way. This way means that I welcome my pain inside, I pour it a cool glass of water and then, with shakiness and with certainty (isn’t it funny how those two so often go together?), I choose to be its student. I ask it to tell me all it knows.

I believe that pain is here to help me heal. I understand that the healing I am up to hurts. For now. There is more to learn, more work to do, but I am not in the position to lead it or teach it. It won’t help if I shut down, numb out or close off. The only sane choice, the way I finally see it, is to let it in. Be a student. Allow the answers. Hurt if it hurts, and then, heal.

There is more to pain than hurting. I promise.

xo,

M

 

 

 

A New Way

Hello, friend.

I know it’s been a while, and that’s my fault. I have been here, with myself, wanting to write. Wanting to share with you. Wanting to have something constructive to say, something valuable to add, something meaningful to contribute.

Except that every time I tried, it was too painful. I would meet myself here, and I would shake hands with myself and say: Self, we can do hard things. I would open up a page, stare back at a cursor and feel a surge of cold, dry, emptiness.

That never felt like the “good” or “right” or “worthy” thing to write through. In fact, it felt scary and dark and lonely and isolated and on pins and needles, so I’d close my computer. Walk into another room. And, tell myself I’d try again another day.

I don’t know how many days went by, but let’s say many, and on one of those days, it occurred to me:

I’m going to need a little help over here.

Lord, I am wonderful at so many things, like making salads and pouring appropriately sized glasses of wine and hugging just right and knowing all the words to all of Disney for all of time. But, I am least skilled at asking for help. If asking for help was a sport, I’d have gotten myself cut on the first round. I don’t know how to play. Are there rules? Hell, I don’t know. That’s why I never make the damn team.

Since I’m terrible at it, I rarely practice or put any energy into learning how. I’m one of those people who is either naturally good at something or entirely lost about it, and this has been a kind of blessing that came with a side of cursed. Mainly because I think I assumed, a very long time ago, that if it doesn’t come naturally, it’s not worth my time. And, that was a mistake.

This year, God has sought to correct that in me. Thankfully. Painfully.

So. I realized I was going to need a little help. I felt a wall inside, and I sat with the wall and I looked at the wall and I tried with the wall, but all the wall said was:

I AM A WALL.

I made myself busy and schemed on every way to avoid facing this reality, because I don’t like walls and, quite frankly, I didn’t know what to do. Like, I said, asking for help is my least exercised muscle. I waited. I carried on. And, then, one day, I felt the wall closing in on me, and I knew. I heard the voice in my head, and she said HELP, and I told myself a very long time ago that I wouldn’t let her down. So, I did it. I asked. For help.

I went to my doctor and I told him that I’m not okay. That I’m strong, but tired. That I’m brave, but so scared. I got really awkward and the opposite of eloquent and mumbled OUT LOUD to someone OTHER THAN MYSELF:

I think I might maybe possibly I don’t know you tell me need some help over here. (God bless this doctor, because I MEAN).

A few things have happened since then, which are wonderful and small and not dramatic, but first of all:

He promised to help. And, guys, there is something about asking for help that I didn’t realize until now, and it is this.

Help is God’s language. Asking for Help is like picking up the red bat phone to the Universe and saying: I am ready.

HOW THE HELL DID I MISS THIS TRICK FOR THESE 36 BLASTED YEARS?

I tell you, the skies do not open up, but the senses do. And, as soon as the words were out of my mouth, I felt my skin settle back onto my tissue and my heart beat in my chest and my stomach let go of its grip and what I’m saying is: Right choice, sister.

Asking for help can be hard, but what I’m learning is that the alternative is a wall. And, the wall is too high and built to last and an optical illusion. Because it tells you that you can get over it if you just try hard enough. And, it looks like it’ll fall down if you just kick hard enough. And, it lurks and it stands and it stays and it doesn’t give or budge or move an inch, and neither do you, and you didn’t bring a ladder but even if you did it isn’t enough. And, the wall likes it that way, because it wants you small and solitary and unprepared and not enough.

Help is something entirely different. Help takes your hand, turns you away from the wall and says, “Let’s go in a different direction.” Help walks you through. Help witnesses. Help will rise up or come down to meet you. Help has a new way.

I want to share this with you, because it has been hard to ask for help this season of my life. I am a mother and a woman who has based so much of my identity on my ability to persevere and pull through and overcome and power on. Having to leave that identity behind and let it go has been so incredibly painful. And, many times, I chose the wall instead of help. Because the wall kept me with myself and let me stay very close to my longtime story about who I am and what I am supposed to be.

It has taken staring directly into my pain long enough for me to see that in order to move through, I am going to need a hand. And, if I’m going to get a hand, I’m going to have to let go of my tired, old, raggedy ass story. And, if I’m going to let go of my story, I might as well be willing to open my hand and be led a new way.

I have decided that in my house, we’re going to all learn God’s sacred language, and not a one of us is going to waste time staring at walls when we could be simply, divinely asking for HELP. I have decided that I’d rather have my hand held than balled up in a fist. I’d rather ask you to meet me where I am than try to imagine where you are and find you there. Someday. If that day ever comes.

I know it has been a while, but I was busy staring at a wall. And, finally, thankfully, mercifully, asking for (and receiving) HELP.

Love you and mean it like crazy.

xo,

M

Unshakeable Love

It has taken me an entire week, 2 tear soaked moments in awkward places and a lot of feeling really, really, really low to finally have a sense of humor about today.

Today is one year since I had surgery on my hip. And, I knew it would be hard, because everything about this surgery has been hard, but I didn’t know it would be THIS hard. And I didn’t know it would be so RELENTLESS. I didn’t know. Which, in and of itself, is hard. Because I like to know. I like to have a plan and have it work out.

If you’ve never had a major injury or chronic pain or illness, all of this talk about the roller coaster and the struggle and the deep, complicated work that a person has to do to live in their body and live in the world when everything hurts, including the body and especially the world, can all seem a bit abstract. It can make you think things like:

Oh, poor thing.
I don’t know how she does it.
God, that’s terrible.

It can even make you feel scared, because you might have an inkling that perhaps this could happen to you. And, it sounds pretty awful. Or, it looks pretty sad.

And, I probably would have thought that way 10 years ago. I think I saw chronic pain or chronic injuries and thought they seemed terrible and complicated and thank goodness not my problem.

But this year, it is my problem. And, OH, what a journey through shit and storm this problem has been! Maybe even more so for me, because I have an irritating and uncanny ability to look IMMEDIATELY for the silver lining in a situation. Even when it is full blown shit sandwiches everywhere, I am just searching for that kernel of hope. I’m like an overgrown, mid-thirties cheerleader without any of the physical prowess or sparkle hair thingies.

Except, this year and this week, especially, I encountered, maybe for the first time in a very long time, what it feels like to really lose hope. And, lord, that has been worse than all of the pain and the medical bills and the conflicting opinions. Worse than the crutches in the rain with my two small kids. Worse than the looks from other parents at the playground. Worse than the laundry list of things I can no longer do. Worse than the time I can never get back or the plans I can never go back and keep.

Losing hope has been the worst.

And, I think I had to go there, and I had to get here, because it feels like the very bottom of a well that I have been slowly but steadily falling down, and I suspect there was no other way. Since, I have done my best and tried my hardest and showed up every step of the way with my head in the game and my game face on, and that has not always worked out the way I planned. So, this week I decided to give up my plan. I decided to give up. I said, Okay. I’m too tired. I decided to let go.

For several days, this really sucked.

Because what next? The part of me that wants to find meaning and find the answer and the solution and fix the problem and make a plan Z and turn it around and put my sparkle hair thingies in is NOT HAVING IT. That part of me sees letting go as DEATH.

In my case, as it turns out, letting go is not death. It is something else.

It is letting go of being in charge. It’s surrender. It’s saying: I do not have this, guys. I don’t have this, God. Jesus, take the wheel (and please take the kids’ bath time while you’re at it because you know how that goes). I don’t want to be a warrior. I don’t want to find the answer. I don’t want to lead my way out of this.

And, when I do that, I can see what is most difficult in this process. And, that is the loss of my identity that I keep reliving every time I tell myself that I’m closer to being where I used to be. More painful than my foot, ankle, hip and leg, is the reality that I can no longer define myself by what I am able to do. And how things were. And who I thought I was. Or, what I thought I was up to.

What is most painful, most difficult and most heartbreaking is that, in order to be led through this time, I must embrace the mystery of life, the miracle of grace and my own inherent, unshakeable value. And this value has no basis in my ability to do or keep up or put on a good face.

I am not in charge.

I don’t have the answers.

I don’t know what is next.

Somehow, the only way to find meaning in this year, in this body, in this world, is for me to stop deciding what I’m up to here, and to let the answers and the way come to me. I like to be a leader, but life wants to lead me. So, today, I am going to take a rest.

Maybe I have had it wrong all along, because I thought that I was good enough because I do good enough. Maybe I had it backward, that if I used my brain and my wits and my heart enough, I would be enough. Maybe I thought that I was getting somewhere because I was moving fast. Maybe I thought that I would get to God by BEING GREAT. Maybe I thought that being great meant looking good. Maybe I thought looking good meant being capable. Maybe I thought being capable meant never struggling in public for too long (I had to qualify that, because y’all know I know how to have a public breakdown).

Maybe it is time to listen more than I talk.

It has been a long year, and it has been a hard year. I knew every step of the way that it could be worse. I did not take my life for granted. But, I missed this piece. This is the piece that is easiest for me to miss. It is hardest for me to keep my eyes on.

This is the piece that says: You were born. You took a breath. You are here. Hallelujah. Carry on.

This love is unshakeable love, that says I can be an enough mother for my kids, even if I am aching and in pain. This love says that the universe really does have my back, that it’s moving me through and I am okay, no matter what life hands me, because I am here. Hallelujah. Carry on.

It has been a long year, and it has been a hard year. But, I was always going to live this year. I was always getting here.

So, I don’t know what’s next. I am not in charge. I have cried the tears and flicked off the sky above me enough to know that I am right where I am supposed to be, and I am going to take a minute and be here. No fighting. No kicking or screaming.

Unshakeable love. Being led to wherever I am next meant to go.

xoxo,

M

Try Again

Because I was sad and going through heartbreak and loss and self-imposed unemployment, when I met my friend Meredith 6.5 years ago, I became instantly connected to her unflappable honesty and courageous vulnerability. Because Meredith is wise and sees beyond the surface of all living things, at that time, she gave me a book by Margaret Wheatly titled Perseverance.

Because, since then, I’ve moved twice, gotten married, pregnant twice and all kinds of other things, the book got shelved upstairs in between a pile of other books that I’d been carrying around with me since college. Forgotten but not lost, it sat there.

Because 6.5 years later today, I was feeling shaky and irritable by my ongoing situation with my injured foot and my forever recovering hip, I started organizing my bookshelf. Because I felt hopeless and sad and somewhat resigned and even a tad victimized, I noticed the title, and remembered brave Meredith. I put the book beside my bed, and told myself I would look at it later.

Because I had a rough night with my kids, with pain in my ankle and with myself, I laid down this evening and let my fears and resignation and sadness out. I cried and considered that I might never be better. I felt like a victim, and as the tears came faster and faster, I allowed myself to believe that I was one. That my chances were gone and my choices were too limited and enough was enough.

About an hour ago, I said: DONE. I don’t even want to try anymore.

But, my daughter wandered into my room to see if I was okay, and as I wiped my tears and sat up, I watched her walk directly to my bedside table and pick up Perseverance.

Because the title struck me again, I opened the book, and flipped through a few pages. Because her name is Eliot and we named her after both T.S. and George, I stopped on a page with a poem written by T.S.

Only Don’t Know

There is only the fight to recover what has been lost
And found and lost again and again: and now, under conditions

That seem unpropitious. But perhaps neither gain nor loss.
For us, there is only the trying. The rest is not our business.

-T.S. Eliot

Because I needed to read those very exact words at that very exact moment, I sucked in a big breath. Hugged my baby girl. Touched a hand to my heart and felt the current washing me back through this year, last year, the year before that and every moment all the way back to that time when Meredith gave me this book.

And, because of this gift that has made its way to me after 6.5 years, 2 moves, 2 children, one husband and all the things, I remembered the one thing that I am best in the world at. And, that is TRYING.

I was never the fastest runner.
Not the top of my class.
I was not the most beautiful.
I have never been perfectly coiffed.
I am not the best cook.
I am not the best writer.
I am often not on time.
I am generally dressed for yoga or cleaning my house or both.
I am not shiny.
I am not new.

But, damn guys, I CAN TRY.

Trying’s the thing I was basically born to do. When I don’t know what to do, I try. When things don’t go my way, I try. When things fall apart, I try. I try and I try and I try. If trying was a sport, I would be an OLYMPIAN.

I am not one to refuse my effort.

I am not going to start tonight.

What I mean to say is that it can be painful the way life will hurl us in the direction of our destiny, even under brutal circumstances and in perfectly awkward and downright uncomfortable positions. It is so easy to feel like we’ve been run over by the Bad Luck Bus, and like we’re never getting up and never going anywhere ever again. Or, at least it feels easy to me.

But, dammit. Life doesn’t want it that way. It wants us good and bloody and tired and staring down our path with haggard breathing, AND YET. Try again. Try some more.

“I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope
For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without
love
For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith
But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.” -T.S. Eliot

Try. Try again. Try some more.

xo,

M

Quiet Time

Gang,

I was thinking about you and about me and about My Daily Present last night, and I was thinking that I just wanted to sit down together and have a heart to heart. Can we do that?

Every. Single. Year. Winter is just THE SEASON for personal work for me. Somehow, I forget this by the time it’s November, and I’m not prepared when it is suddenly January, and I need nothing more than to put down the outside world and turn my focus inward.

Guys, it happens EVERY YEAR. You’d think by now I would be better prepared (I AM NOT). You’d think I would have made a plan. Set up a strategy. Carved out a ritual. NOPE.

What I do is I get hit over the head. Flail around a bit. Stop. Drop. Roll around. Sit up. Face the music. LIGHT BULB. That’s right! It’s that time again. Time for private, personal work.

So, every year (let’s just imagine that phrase in neon blinking lights), by mid-January, I am here, right where I am even today: Needing a lot of private time, a lot of QUIET time to peel away at the layers. To unearth. To drill down.

Right this very minute, I am up to this work, and I wanted you to know. Because it’s the kind of work that I can really, truly do, but it isn’t the kind of work that I really, truly want to share. Not just yet.

This isn’t because I like to keep secrets (we all know I’m terrible at that). It’s more along the lines of my needing to invest a kind of wholehearted devotion to vulnerability, and this vulnerability requires quiet. Respect. Close confidants. It feels most natural to me to act like a mama bear with myself during this time. To nurture and cover and protect this tender work. When old things come bubbling up to the surface, it is my most precious responsibility to move slowly and gently in their direction. I cannot blare the truth from the rooftops right now, because I simply don’t know it. What I know is that THIS is my season for self-care, self-repair, self discovery and personal work.

Doing this work this way is the best and only gift that I can give myself when life hands me LESSONS (looking at you right now, life). It’s the kindest, gentlest, most practical way to work right now.

I’ve learned (FINALLY) that if I don’t stop and step into this time with appropriate attention and care, if I ignore the signs and push myself to pretend or fake it or grin and bare it, then many ailments will follow, including:

  • Sickness
  • Injury
  • Pain
  • Anger/Frustration at all living beings
  • Sadness
  • Stuck-ness
  • Lack of creativity
  • Loss of perspective
  • Loss of connections
  • And more!

Yes, the cost of not hunkering down when hunkering down is in order is just TOO HIGH for ol’ me. I can’t do it anymore. I did it for years. I would skip the process. And, every time! E-V-E-R-Y-T-I-M-E I would get in a pickle.

So, I don’t do that anymore. When winter rolls in and rolls deep, I go ahead and roll with it.

Which brings me back to the point, and that point is this:

I don’t know if you’re like this, or if you can relate. Does your motherboard start to need rejiggering in one particular season each year? Do you start to find yourself hiding or shutting down or feeling insides on the outside kind of exposed? If you do, then I want you to know that I am right there with you. Doing my trenches time. Digging up and rinsing off and laying down and letting it come or go or be.

I want you to know that I know how hard it is to face yourself when things feel complicated. When your idea of how you thought your life would turn out turns caddywompus, when your marriage goes bump, when your work as a mother becomes more challenging than you feel equipped to manage. When relationships fall apart, or you lose your passion for your work or you simply find yourself without purpose, in general.

These times are hard, but I have learned, they are as necessary as a season. They are as usual as the turning of the page on a calendar. And, if you are trudging through some places in yourself that are feeling STICKY AF, then I want you to know that I am, too.

I’m not publishing a bunch this winter-not nearly as much as I had hoped. But, I am writing often and a lot. I am writing my way right through this season and this moment with everything I’ve got. I am just writing and writing and looking and looking and waiting and waiting. I am pushing self-care, I am pushing quiet, I am pushing gentle, I am pushing SLOW. And, I’m trying not to push much else.

Thank you for your patience while I work quietly and precisely in my own personal way. I am so grateful that I chose to reclaim my writing space when I did. I am a writer, and I write to understand myself, the world and pretty much all of the things. Even when I am not publishing, I am up to some kind of curiosity endeavor. I am most certainly here, hard at work beside you.

Let’s do this.

xo,

M

Well, friends. I come to you in confession today, and the truth is this:

Over the last several weeks, I just completely forgot to have even a speck of fun over here. I admit it. I got so caught up and wrapped up and jacked up on politics and being a grown up, and I forgot to kick back and laugh a little and be creative just for the sake of, well…creativity and laughter and kicking it.

Today, the kids and I came home from school and gymnastics, and I asked them to wash their hands immediately, like I do (small people are walking VESSELS OF DISEASE, I tell you). They washed their hands and came into the living room to color and destroy everything within arm’s reach, so I walked to the bathroom to wash my own hands. And, Lord, have mercy.

What were these two miniature people DOING in this bathroom, because couldn’t be simple hand washing! I mean, guys, the soap container was on its side and dried soap was smeared (and strangely, colored blue and purple) all along the sink and the floor and all the things. The hand towel was balled up on its hanger, barely hanging on by a thread and, again, a lot of bizarre blue and purple (was there a marker in the car I hadn’t noticed?). Bubbles in the sink. Bubbles on the floor. Just like blue and purple and bubbles chaos went to a car wash in my bathroom, and oh, my friends, I had a start for a moment, and then.

I had to sit down and laugh. Because chaos is okay. Let’s say that together with feeling, shall we? Chaos is okay!

Yes, it is.

We are full grown men and women. We can do all of these hard times and difficult conversations and frightening moments and unnecessary threats. We’re going to be able to clean up the messes and put things back together. We’re going to be able to stand up for one another and our planet and for those in need and for the oppressed. We’re going to be able to do the things we’re scared of, and try the thing we haven’t tried before and make it through all of the 3 year old tantrums and survive another bloody Valentine’s Day. Yes, we are!

We’re going to be able to do it, because we’re grown ups, and that’s what we are FULLY CAPABLE OF DOING. This is why we’re here, guys. To walk into the exploded, tiny bathrooms of our lives and put things back where they belong. We are so entirely grown and possible and ABLE. And, if we aren’t able, we can remember that we are also RESOURCEFUL. We are overwhelmed, but we are breathing! With eyes wide open! Let’s start there. And, while we’re breathing and looking, maybe we can remember to do all things with some amount of levity. With a sense of humor. With a kind of ease. Oh, we do deserve that, my friends. Certainly, we do.

I don’t know about you, but when I forget to be easy, things stop working right. Things start clamping down. My hands begin to ball up, and my jaw sets itself into place and my legs lock and my brain starts exploding and bubbles start going EVERYWHERE. And, worst of all, I forget to laugh. I forget that I did not come here to be a hard-hearted person with a tough mug. I forget that I came here to live fully and honestly and joyfully.

Now, I just have to stop for a minute and make sure you understand that I’m not suggesting we have to all stop caring or paying attention or standing up for what is right. Finding humor in chaos and messy times doesn’t mean giving up the work at hand. It simply suggests a kind of uncurling of gripped fingers, and allowing for shoulders to drop (dramatically, if they must!). It begs a breath of fresh air and a lighter touch. It simply means: Loosen up, and live into this in a way that won’t suck your soul all the way out of your blessed body.

You feel me?

I really needed this moment today in a most desperate way. Because the world needs me hard, but I cannot sustain generosity and kindness for others when I am a ball of fire and mud. If I’m going to roll up to this circus show and make some noise, then I will have to show up with laughter, with love and with a whole boatload of personal flair. And, none of those things are even remotely accessible when I am heavy. I must, oh I must, I MUST stay light.

Friends and neighbors, I invite you to join me in taking a nice, deep, relaxing breath of bathroom chaos this week, and returning to the work at hand with renewed freedom, lightness and creativity. Laughter. Fun. Play. Bubbles all over. The mess is outside, and the mess in inside. Still, we can do this! We are grown ups. The most fun and wonderful and capable kinds, indeed.

xo,

M

 

The Road

When I found out I was pregnant with my daughter, my son was barely 8 months old. It was spring, and only 9 months before, I had been just myself on the outside. I was still adjusting to being home all day with my baby, even though it had been my choice. The year my son was born, I married my husband, we moved into a new home, my grandmother died and I left my job. I often looked around me and found that I could not look for long. So, I looked at my baby, instead.

After all, my son’s birth had somehow rewired my system. His life had multiplied my own, and given me depth where there had been vacancy. Where there was longing, now there was a tiny, breathing person with constant love and endless tenderness. I felt split open, and being split open felt good.

But, as he grew, and as the focus on my life pulled back, I began to see that I was also fragmented. I didn’t know my husband very well. I knew zilch about marriage, raising children and being a good mother. I had always worked hard, but now I didn’t get paid for my work. My ambition was suddenly measured by tiny developmental milestones, and I was unsure: Is this me in here? Who is doing anything anymore, except a person who is trying very, very hard at things that are very, very important.

God, I was scared. And then, I was pregnant again.

I wasn’t upset about my pregnancy, but I was scared. I already had a baby. My husband and I were so new. I spent most of my time looking at my son, and I could not fathom sharing that vision with another child. We didn’t know what we were doing, but we knew that we were doing it, and so we planned for another baby.

The night I found out I was pregnant, I got into bed and I cried. I cried because I was hopeful, and I cried because I KNEW. I knew that inside my body was my daughter, and I knew that I was in uncharted territory. I look back at me 4 years ago, and I can see myself, so soft and gentle and wanting and willing. I was ready to be everything that everyone needed me to be, even though I had no idea how I would do it. When I look back at me, I just want to hold myself. Tell myself everything I needed to hear. Like:

Baby, you are bigger than everything you have ever imagined. You were built to rise and flow and create and continue. You are made of the truth. You don’t have to strive. You can sometimes wait and listen. You don’t have to worry. You will find the way. You will always find the way. And when you can’t find the way, THE WAY WILL FIND YOU.

This was a long, hard lesson for me to learn, as it turns out. I didn’t grow up with a mom who told me about myself when I forgot. I grew up with my mom on weekends and in the summertime, and even then, she often didn’t know how to talk to me about…me. My mom did the best she could with what she had, but what she had was simply not enough for a girl like me. My mom was busy, tied up working hard on her own life, trying desperately to find her own ground. By the time I arrived in her world, she still had a long road of focus on her own two feet to help me find mine.

For a long time, I tried to help her find her feet. For a long time, I thought that my life was about HER LIFE. I thought that I was supposed to be the kind of person who would make her life easier. It took me a very long time to understand that I was made for something entirely my own.

In fact, if I went back 4 years ago, and got beside myself in that bed, I would also tell me:

You get to be you, now. Yes, baby, just YOU.

And, after 4 years of babies and birth and body and everything and everyone needing me, I am finally here. That was the lesson. This is what I was working on:

I am precisely myself. Precisely who I was meant to be. Enough on the inside, enough on the outside. Precisely my own person. Precisely me.

This hasn’t made life immediately easy. I am not sure of my circumstances at all times. Some things are hard. I still have a new marriage. My babies are still small. I have physical issues, and I must remain very close and very connected to my body. After I had my daughter, I suffered from postpartum anxiety, and I felt drained of energy for an entire year. I made choices out of fear or insecurity, and those choices always caused me varying degrees of discomfort. But, I have stayed on this road. And, on this road, I can always hear the small voice. And, if I can hear the small voice, I know that I am precisely myself.

And, if I am precisely myself, I am whole. And, finally, I just don’t want to be anything else.

You know, life hands us all kinds of choices and events and mistakes and circumstances. Things will always change, but if we’re devoted to ourselves, we are always enough for all of it. I have overcome challenges that would have seemed insurmountable 4 years ago, and that is because there is no limit to personal strength once we allow ourselves to tap into it. We don’t climb the mountain fearlessly, but we climb, all the same. And, if we keep climbing, we always reach the summit. We simply do.

Do not give up on yourself. At any point, or under any circumstances. You’re simply not allowed. If no one ever told you, then let me be the first:

Baby, you are bigger than everything you have ever imagined. You were built to rise and flow and create and continue. You are made of the truth. You don’t have to strive. You can sometimes wait and listen. You don’t have to worry. You will find the way. You will always find the way. And when you can’t find the way, THE WAY WILL FIND YOU.

Trust me on that one, darlings.

xo,

M

Thanks

For over a week, I have worked on the same piece of writing, trying without success to tie it up and have it come together and finish strong, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. A few days ago, I decided to let it lie. I decided it wasn’t working out for a reason, and I figured out that the reason is this:

I’m so swept up in politics that I’m just having a hard time looking away. And, looking at anything else. Even everyday details. Even my kids’ cherubic faces. Even things that are working.

So, I woke up today and decided it is important that I turn my attention, ever so intentionally and briefly, toward the things that are ALRIGHT. That are okay. That are right now. That are rising up. That are progress in the present. It is time for gratitude.

Whenever life is heavy or hard or dark or bleak, I find it is most important to take stock of all things that are light or uncomplicated or bright or possible. It doesn’t take away the work to be done or the pain to be felt or the length of the night, but it certainly is a gateway to RELIEF. An open door onto a solid, steady place to stand and sit or lie down and EXHALE. Gratitude is the pause I need when the pace becomes hectic. It is the space between where we’re headed and where we’ve been. It is a straight shot of RIGHT NOW IS ENOUGH. And, I could go for some of that right about now. You? Here goes…

Oh, Universe. Thank you. Thank you for:

  • My healthy children. They are okay. Eliot fell down our stairs the other night (more like heavy rolled, but SHIT), and I about had a heart attack. She was and is fine, and I thank you for that. These little people are my entire heart, and they just go walking around on this earth, outside of my body, doing all kinds of things and growing up and turning into people that they were meant to be and it’s all a little intense sometimes (INHALE). So, I thank you for at least keeping them safe and healthy and well for one more day. God, I love them deep and wide and hard and strong and forever.
  • My body. My sweet body has really given me more than I ever could have asked for in this life, including my children, good health and a safe place to house my spirit and my voice and my own little piece of God inside. Even when I tried to beat it up with anorexia and bulimia, it forgave. It said, I love you, let me care for you, please do care for me. Even when I over-exercised and pushed it past its edge for years, it never got angry, it kept on going and kept on giving. Even after babies and hip surgeries and so much healing, it just keeps showing up and working hard to do what is necessary. Nowadays, I only want to give this body everything it deserves, including respect, love, appreciation, clean water, fresh plants, delicious food, all the sunshine, good coffee, big hugs and a nice glass of wine. I would not trade this body for the world. I love this vessel, and to this vessel I say: THANK YOU.
  • My good fortune. Even in tough times, I have had good luck. I am able to spend time with my small kids who won’t be small forever. I am able to do work that I enjoy. I am able to buy nutritious food and live in my comfortable house and drive in my comfortable car. We aren’t wealthy. We do not have all the things. But, we have ENOUGH. Especially in these frightening times, when so many have NOTHING, I can never complain about my own lot. We are fortunate, and I won’t take it for granted. Thank you.
  • My sisters. I have been thinking a lot about women these last few weeks. You’ve probably heard at least one woman tell you in her life that she doesn’t trust other women, that girls can be hard, that women can be mean. We have a long way to go to overcome internalized patriarchy and our feelings of scarcity. But, while we’re working on it, I am just so glad that we’re us. That we’re wired the way we are. That we’re all so different. That we’re more than our bodies. That we’re more than our empathy. That we’re more than our biology. That we’re more than mothers. That we’re MORE. In my darkest, hardest times, the people who have understood me and loved me and been with me have been women. My aunts, my best girlfriends, my social media sisters, my co-workers, my kids’ teachers, even the incredibly supportive female security guard at Harris Teeter who never stops telling me how proud of me she is when I come hobbling in with the crutch. What a pack of wholehearted human beings. What a bunch of warriors. What a bunch of big, brave, big, brave, BIG people. I’m so grateful us. Thank you, for my sisters.
  • My husband. Our marriage has never been easy. We got married and pregnant at the same time, and then got pregnant again. We have had 5 years of crash courses in major life choices. We have both had to work very, very hard. We don’t agree on politics at least half of the time, we have entirely different temperaments and we were raised in almost completely different ways. We really do kind of have to anchor everything on our mutual respect and love for one another, and that can be hard to do from time to time. He keeps doing it. I do, too. And, that’s really all it takes, you know? Thank you.
  • Myself. After years of pregnancy, having babies, being consumed with babies and just trying to find my way through motherhood, I finally, actually came up for air this year. I remembered myself. I spotted my hand coming up out of the earth, and I grabbed it and I pulled myself up and through and into the LIGHT. I don’t feel sure of all of the things in the world. I do feel sure that I can do hard things. That I am powerful. That I am enough. That I am exactly the one I have been waiting for. I’m so proud of myself. I worked long and hard to get here. I took every kind of loopty-loo, and I backtracked and had to reroute and then take the same road, over and over and over and over again. I unpacked and repacked and unpacked and repacked and unpacked. And, you know, I still have a lot of unpacking to do, but I just don’t feel nervous about that. I just don’t feel like that’s some big problem. I am just the girl to do the work that I am precisely meant to do. I am ENOUGH. Oh, self, thank you.

It is a wooly world, and we have all got to keep our eyes open and our hearts open and our minds open. This requires so much focus, and it begs for breath. For a break. For a pause. For quiet knowing that the way may be hard, but we’ve got the tools to make it.

Thank you for helping me know that.

xo,

M

 

 

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