She will be bold

She will be bold, this woman inside of me who feels the pressure from her tasks, all the peas beneath her pile of mattresses, the tests of her mettle and the the strength of her heart. 

She will be bold when she brandishes her sword,  and when she unleashes her smile. Her tears are her diamonds and her words carry her truth. This woman has wisdom and flawed though she is, her wisdom endures. She speaks her heart without fear, and her mind without apologizing for having the audacity to have thoughts and opinions of her own. She speaks. 

And she will be bold.

Questionable choices

8 schools. 8 schools visited in a single afternoon, in raw, rainy weather. My shoes are soaked through and my feet are cold and wet. I’m damp in places I forgot could get damp. I honestly can’t tell if I’ve peed myself, or just dripping from the sideways wind blown drops and careless cars passing me next to puddles. To be frank, I don’t even care at this point. I just want to crawl into a hot cup of tea and stuff my face with bad decisions. 

The only problem is that I forgot which side of the last school I parked on. I’ve circled the building twice now and I’ve attempted to gain entry to three different like colored vans. I’ve made friends. I feel like we’re really gonna stay in touch after everything we’ve been through in that second lap we took together around the school, looking for my car. I’ll cheer them on at games and spelling bees, and they’ll mention their undying admiration for me in their valedictory addresses, and Nobel prize acceptance speeches. It will be epic. For now, I just want to find my damn car. 

A long days journey into night, happy puppies, and doing the dying to pee dance


Some days it’s the journey, some days it’s the destination. My journey through today included being 15 minutes late to work because the dress I wanted to wear had me trapped half in, half out with a jammed zipper that took an army of curse words to free me from.  The end resulting outfit had me feeling fabulous however. So I held my head high and smiled generously at the world.
 The next passage of my day had my face enthusiastically embracing the edge of the large metal cart filled with books that I was wheeling onto the floor. A kiss I shan’t soon forget since my top lip has a pretty blue splotchy bruise on the right. Why can bruised lips never look like a Kardashians?


That much fun could only mean more guaranteed to come and I was not disappointed when a regular, and very friendly customer asked me eagerly when my baby was due. WHEN MY BABY WAS DUE. 

WHEN MY BABY WAS DUE. 
For the record: I am NOT pregnant. Not even a teensy bit. Five is my limit. The bakery is closed. No more buns in this oven, so help me God.
Also people, there isn’t a non pregnant woman ALIVE who wants to be asked when her baby is due, so unless a woman is wearing a hat with a flag that reads “ASK ME WHEN MY BABY IS DUE!”
DON’T. 

Don’t ask. 

Not ever. Not even if you’re a delivery attendant at the actual birth of that child. Just DON’T.


I will spare you the details of his voluntary disembowelment. Suffice it to say that I appreciated the gesture, but bore the sting for the remainder of my shift until such a time as I could swap out my dress for yoga pants, an oversized sweatshirt, thick socks, and then bury my face in a bucket of ice cream.
I continued my personal oddesy by taxiing my offspring, shopping for groceries and sucking down water like it was my JOB. It’s important to stay hydrated at all times, especially when going about your daily grind. A hydrated mind is a FOCUSED mind! It soon leads to a desperately over hydrated bladder. At my age, my bladder and my will power are no longer talking to each other. They’re barely even friends. It can get dicey. 


By the time I got home I was in dire straights, fumbling with my keys, fighting back a waterfall and mentally running through the likely obstacles between me and the bathroom. The pups went crazy upon my entrance to the house, happily racing around, jumping and trying to kiss me. I love that by the way. I feel like I’ve just won the lottery every time I walk through the door, but I was dying to pee so I ran past them and yanked up my dress, frantically whipping down my controltops. They were not to be deterred. Before I could stop them they’d knocked me on my ass (thank god on the toilet) and jumped into my lap, puppy kissing my face relentlessly as the flood gates gave way. A less dignified activity escaped my imaginings as I sat there evaluating my life choices and receiving the dogs well intentioned affections.  
But the evening has come and I am curled up with a book, trying to read past a very knocked out, floppy eared, warm bodied dog who has decided that being stacked belly and paws up to the sky directly on top of me and just under my chin is the only place that will do. It is lovely and relaxing. My blood pressure must be barely perceptible. I really do love cuddles….
So the end justifies the means today. The destination was definitely worth the journey đŸ™‚
 

The gift


 I want to tell you a story about an amazing, gifted woman who was an angel for my son when he was struggling to connect to his world through autism. This woman was one of his teachers. She loved him and saw all of the brilliance contained in his mind, the endless possibilities captured in his heart and she nurtured him. 
 All that year she drew him out through her many gifts, the greatest of which was her love. He blossomed. He grew. He learned in small ways to connect with others, and he loved going to school. It wasn’t just the thrill of learning to decode the strange symbols that let him understand his world, the structured interactions with other children that had easy to interpret rules of exchange, and the “everyone gets to play” teams, it was that there was this person, this woman, this gatekeeper who made sure he was ushered in and made a part of it all. He loved it and he loved her. She made it clear to him in the most uncomplicated way that she loved him. 


When you have children, you discover that you must learn to live the rest of your life with your own heart beating outside of your chest, carried around in a careless and beautiful and painful world by your child. Like a balloon filled with helium slipping though your fingers on a windy day, so fast and so high and so far will that balloon be carried away. Your outstretched arm, fingers straining futiliy towards the bright, small, delicate burst of color and chasing after it endlessly even though you know you will never get it back. God help the branch, the bird, the storm,the hail, or any other thing with the potential to pop your ballooon, for there is nothing so fierce as a parents love. 


When you have a child who, through no fault and no option to exchange them, has challenges that place them at a distinct disadvantage because the rules of the world they must live in, and the instructions manual for navigating that complex world are coded in a strange and different language that you aren’t able to speak, you find yourself thrust into the role of ardent advocate. You  encourage and educate and hold to task those charged with his care. You find allies everywhere and adversity in equal measure. You have a child who has their own amazing gifts and a language that is as foreign to the world as the world is to your child. There are people who will never understand this no matter how many ways you try to explain things. It can feel so overwhelming. Thank God for the angels around us. The ones who’s love softens the sharp edges of the days.
He is many years older now and several feet taller than that small, sweet, energetic, deeply complicated young boy, the one entirely swept up in pirate lore and real dragons. The one who believed he could fly.


The imp with the boundless energy and swiftly shifting intense emotions. The little guy who vibrated when he tried to stand still. The one who struggled with the agonizing discomfort of looking you in the eye for longer than a few seconds before needing to run off the electrical current that seemed to surge through his whole body all the time. The child who stammered into silence when his racing and brilliant mind out paced his tongue. 
He grew. He thrived on the love. The open and easy celebration of his uniqueness. 


That boy grew. He went on to become an altar server, a CCD teacher to a 4th grade class, Senior Patrol leader for the local Boy scout troop, a trumpet player in the band, a singer in the a capella group, an honors student, and an Eagle Scout. He went off to college. 
He is a young man who manages to look you in the eye and genuinely smile. Because someone really looked at him and really saw him, not just for the challenges he struggled with. Because they looked at him and could see the whole person in front of them. The bright, shining light inside. Out in that amazing and terrifying world there are special teachers, and angels like them, who every day make a difference.  When you worry and wonder whether you will be enough, remember that love is the most powerful force. Your child’s greatest strength and gift is you.


The gift
*For Deb , Vickie, Stephanie, and countless other teachers who came into my life through my child, each a gift beyond measure. This story happens to be Stephanie’s story, and to my child she was “Mrs. Magical” because that’s how he pronounced her name. And truly, she is. Magical. In fact, they all are.*

Into the desert 


Into the desert I go for fourty days and fourty nights. For fourty days and fourty nights I will detox my attachment to social media, to the bread and circus, to the distractions from being truly present. I will seek stillness. I will seek that still, small voice of my soul, the voice that is often shouted over and down in the chaos of everyday living, and the realities of the world. 

It’s not easy to step away like this. Not when I have such a love affair with the fast paced, sensory overloaded, 24/7 lifestyle of this life. Somewhere there is a part of me that needs to constantly connect, a part of me that seems to think it is I who spins the world and if I step back, if I stop then the world will stop spinning too. The problems I might help with will crop up, the fires I put out every day will rage and burn until everything stands in ashes. This is hubris, I know. This tiny part of me that constantly worries that on some level, if I let go of the controls, things will crash. 

Conflictingly there exists with in me an anxiety that I am invisible. That the world doesn’t need me at all. The world and all of the people I know and love will carry on without me and like a student returning from a study semester abroad, relationship circles will have closed up and moved on in fast forward, leaving me calling after them soundlessly into the distance. 

This is precisely why it is time to enter my own desert. It is time once again for me to try to let go of my attachments and addictions, and to feel that hunger for the things of substance that truly matter.  Lent is my time to separate from the world; to remember that  faith is not just a feel-good, self-help distraction but a path that answers the deepest questions of life and eternity. Those who journey through their own deserts accept the challenge to face their struggle. 

The truth is that It’s not so much about giving up the stuff you enjoy, although that’s a common misconception, even among Catholics. It’s about pairing things down, taking a break from over scheduling our lives and over filling our thoughts with busyness, to creating spiritual space to focus inwardly with out as many distractions and to allow yourself to listen to your heart speaking. It’s about removing barriers to self reflection, leaning into the discomfort of extended “silences”, both literal and figurative, being willing to look at the real reasons we are uncomfortable with our selves and what we want, truly want to reflect back into the world. It’s about scaling back enough on the excesses in order to feel the hunger for growth. When you know you will be having an amazing feast you don’t continue to stuff yourself all day. You want to come hungry. You want to taste every bite of those unique dishes and to appreciate the flavors and the textures and the way they satisfy you.  
Scaling back, suspending some things allows for a little hunger to grow, a desire for something satisfying and inspiring, and the discovery along the way, of the things you want most to occupy space in your heart. 

Like everyone, I struggle. I struggle with the world, I struggle with my frailties, I struggle with myself. I struggle a lot. My goal is to honestly examine my life in light of God’s goodness and to renew my commitment to change in any areas I have struggled with. Truthfully this is always my goal, but day to day living just has this way of constantly nudging me way off course. And so into my desert I go, to quiet my mind, to simplify my path, to face myself. Into my desert I go to listen to the still, small voice of my soul. I will meet you on the other side in peace.

*Lent is an important annual practice in the 40 days leading up to Easter Sunday. For Christians, it is a time of self-restraint from food and celebrations. It is a period of self-examination and prayer, and generally following the example of Jesus as he spent 40 days and nights alone in the desert prior to his crucifixion.

Gentle yourself in stillness for there is much work to be done


I will gentle myself in stillness that though the storm around me might still rage and howl, my spirit shall settle. There is work to be done. Important work for us all. Historic work, critical work, the work of peacemakers and truth tellers. 
I will gentle myself in stillness that the passions inside me may settle for this moment and allow for clarity and good judgment. Around me the storm rages and howls and makes it hard to hear each voice crying out, and those voices must be heard. 
I will gentle myself in stillness for there is much work to be done and I will need to bring everything I have within me into this storm to help birth this change in the world. 

That thing with feathers


Yes. Yes I DID wear a tiara to work today. It’s my birthday and, while I wanted to wear the really BIG tiara (the gorgeous, flashy one that makes me look like a beautiful and terrible ice queen), I decided in favor of the understated elegance and subtlety of the smaller one. One does want to maintain a certain sense of decorum after all. 
It’s a book store and book people are notoriously understated, elegant people. Except for the ones that are really out there and have a hard time adulting (these are actually MY people) despite their parents best efforts at raising them to be upstanding members of society. A miserably failed endeavor resulting is a deliciously complex soup of delightful and slightly unbalanced, dangerous characters (like me) wandering about the planet. 
Today is most assuredly going down in the history books for reasons I do not care to give any more ink and ether to at this moment. I refuse to be stripped of hope and optimism when I can see so many amazingly unique and differently minded people side by side in this place, a book store filled with the full spectrum of thought and ideology. 
Strangers, talking easily, passionately, peacefully about their different points of view, and parting with their own choices and smiles. There is hope in conversation. There is hope in actions that lead to understanding, or at the very least clarity. There is hope in people expanding their paradigms, exploring new places in their minds and their hearts. There is hope.  


Today is so many things. Heartbreaking and beautiful things. Emily Dickinson spoke of it in my favorite poem

“Hope is the thing with feathers  

That perches in the soul,  

And sings the tune without the words,  

And never stops at all,  

   

And sweetest in the gale is heard;          

And sore must be the storm  

That could abash the little bird  

That kept so many warm.  

   

I’ve heard it in the chillest land,  

And on the strangest sea;         

Yet, never, in extremity,  

It asked a crumb of me.”

In the darkest part of this day I will close my eyes for the briefest of moments, lean towards the candles on my cake and make my wish. I’ll think of Eleanor Roosevelt and her boldness “I would rather light a candle than curse the dark”. I’ll blow out my candles and light another against the dark. Because there is always hope just as long as there is someone willing to light a candle, and sing the tune without the words and never stop at all.