When I was a little girl I was afraid of my own voice. I was afraid that if the time came when I really needed to make myself heard, to cry out for help, no sound would come out. No help would come to the voiceless.
Silence was also comforting to me. Keeping painful things away from the spoken word meant I could cocoon myself with my memories and seal them away from the rest of the world. Allowing them to break into sound on my tongue, to let them live in the ears and the air around me just could not be allowed to happen.
My own mother has a powerful voice. She never hesitated to express what she was feeling or thinking and encouraged me constantly to know my own worth. Still, I struggled.
While my mother lived life out loud, I lived my own in my head and I worried about how I could possibly bring the world inside myself into harmony with the world outside.
I was painfully shy and only managed to emerge from my shell when I could pull on a character and slip onto a stage, free to be as loud as that version of me could be.
It was empowering. To stand on a stage, to inhabit someone else’s skin.
I could say and do and be anything I could dream of. I wanted that feeling to last forever, but always the moment I stepped into the wings, my voice became strangled and afraid and my world seemed confined to those anxieties. I lived there such a very long time. The world I could never escape.
It was a child, the heartbeat of a child, actually, that pushed me to start peeling back the layers of my cocoon, to shake and spread my damp wings for the sunlight. It took motherhood to tap into a power inside myself I never knew I had.
With each child that came into my life, a fierce determination came with it. A determination to instill self love, pride, and a courage to fly as far as their dreams dared them to go.
I started running after the birth of my 5th child, just telephone pole to telephone pole, adding another each time. It was embarrassing and hard and I felt foolish. I’m a slow runner, but I never give up.
I just wanted to be able to run a few miles in the sunshine, to feel freedom and strength. I wanted to experience that release. What was so unattainable started to move closer to me.
I decided to force myself to aim for something so big and wide it couldn’t help but grow me in its pursuit. A half marathon. It was something I never in a million years thought I could do as I ran telephone pole to telephone pole to 5k and then further.
I ran in silence. I ran in tears. I ran face to face with my thoughts, and I ran into and out of their path as my feet found the earth.
I ran that half marathon and it was just the beginning. It was time to break free from that cocoon of silence and let my heart speak too.
It was agonizing. It stretched me. It gave me the space to howl and cry out and even to scream. And then I spoke. I spoke my truth out loud. I found my own voice and with it the power to move mountains. And I found someone buried deep inside myself and aching to breathe free. I found a girl who knows her worth.
I swear to god I’m my own worst enemy but this takes the cake. On my way to the gym I noticed a potted (long dead) plant in the middle of our driveway nudged/nibbled there by my goat. Hand to god. Without a thought I went to kick it over into the yard with my slipper clad foot (yes, slipper clad. I keep my sneakers in the gym bag and you all remember yesterday’s plumbing disaster, so slippers were as dressed up as I cared to get. Judge if you must).
Turns out a dead potted plant in 14 degree weather makes it equivalent to kicking a large rock of equivalent size. My big toe is twice the size of its twin on the other foot, a few different colors, and twenty times angrier. It hurts like a motherf’cker if I even breathe on it.
Still hopped to the gym (because I’m not about to let myself off that easy) and managed 30 minutes on the elliptical Hell machine. I’m too tired to shower, grumpy and still chubbier than seems fair after the last 24 hours. My foot is now up, big toe on ice, middle finger extended to the universe. Future me is laughing. I hope like hell future me gets a great blog out of this, but now me is writing this up as is.
Red nose because it’s damn cold in this house, dark circles because why sleep when your brain wants to spend the night thinking about the plumber, the burst pipe, the drenched and mushy fallen ceiling tiles filling totes around the Christmas tree downstairs and creative ways to pay for all of it. No make up because why bother today, and two large chai lattes with double shots of espresso because a momma soldiers on. Bring on the day!
I had a good day, no a GREAT day. It was busy and long but I hustled and flowed with my work peeps like a finely tuned machine.
I was tired but made the extra stop to grab things for dinner since kid #5 was still at play rehearsal, and kid #4 was with hubby out of town for a late central district rehearsal, not due home until 10pm.
Got home late from work to find that a pipe upstairs burst, part of the ceiling over the Christmas tree in the living room fallen in (yes, that’s still up because clearly I do not have my shit together), large totes placed to catch the dripping water and falling tiles, and the house cold AF because the oil ran out. Don’t know what “AF” stands for? Google it. It fits. And it doesn’t stand for awesomesauce.
Son number three and I stood with our coats on eating dinner in the kitchen like it was Passover, then I grabbed my keys, my phone, called for the dogs and patted son #3 on the shoulder and said “well I’m gonna go sit in a warm car with three dogs outside of the high school to wait for your sister. Have fun pouring diesel into the side of the house, Don’t forget to bleed the line,and feed the chickens. Later babe.”
An hour later kid #5 and I stared tired and cold at the mess. Kid #3 was plugged in to a video game and chatting remotely with kid #2 but took time to call over his shoulder “The plumber is coming “some time tomorrow”.
I could not think of a better motivation to turn around and go to the gym for a run. It certainly warmed me up and calmed me down.
*sigh…at this rate I’ll be trading hand jobs and hard labor to cover the repairs. At my age I don’t think my street value will make this a quick exchange of goods and I’m pretty sure it will knock me out of the running for sainthood. I’m also pretty sure that ship sailed years ago but still, it would have been nice to make it to the finals. Screw it. The degenerates always have the best stories to tell anyways.
Our sweet uni-horn goat, Gideon, wasn’t doing well so we brought him inside to nurse him in the hopes that he would pull through but it was just his time.
He was this beautiful, very fuzzy kitty size baby when Lucy, spotted him squeezing under the fences and following her happily around as she trailed bits of corn from her pockets. She was six years old at the time and running around wildly at a friend’s birthday party at Marshall Farm, adoring everything in sight.
It was instant love and she wouldn’t leave that critters side. I snapped a picture of the two of them and sent it to her daddy with a teasing caption “PLEEEEEEEASE can we bring him home?”
Less than an hour later, Dale rumbled up in his dad’s old truck, hopped out and headed for the barn. It turned out that the owner at the time was a guy he was friendly with, a regular where he worked, and within 20 minutes he strode over, kissed us and left.
I dragged a very reluctant and weepy Lucy home, goatless, and set about dinner. Dale left to “run a quick errand” and returned a short time later with not one, but TWO baby goats, Gideon and Gabriel. We baby-gated them in the kitchen until we could build a small enclosure for our newest additions.
Gideon broke the same horn so many times getting into hijinks with Gabriel that the vet couldn’t set it anymore and finally had to cut it off, leaving him with only one mighty and proud horn. Our very own magical uni-horn.
Like most of our life’s adventures, this one didn’t have a plan at the start, or even a vague notion of which way we were headed, but we were all in, all the way. The rest, as they say, is history.
Over a decade later, our tiny, chaotic, completely unplanned, lovely farm has grown to include many chickens, ducks, bunnies and dogs, each one an odd member of our own chaotic, completely unplanned, lovely family.
I’m curled up under blankets and puppies in a quiet, darkened room adjacent to the kitchen and no one has needed me for almost 37 minutes.
I read the transcript from the prime time address from the Oval Office last night so I know that Hell is truly freezing over and that we now live in a parallel universe where up is down, but to be left alone to rest at dinner time?
This has to be some kind of trick..probably there are illegal field mice crossing the basement border to deal drugs to the squirrels in our attic.
This alone time must be a distraction technique. Get me all up in my head over this alone time thing, while those furry bastards are just pouring through the chinks in the fieldstone walls. That means it’s a conspiracy and those liberal snowflake offspring of mine are complicit. I knew I should have built that wall across the house and deported my kids.
I love what I do. In one capacity or another I found myself doing it. As a mother, as an education coordinator, as a community development outreach liaison I’ve worked with kids. Through surprising twists I came to work in a hospital on the pediatric unit.
I work with some of the most beautiful kids in one of the toughest places to be in their lives, in one of the most challenging environments to work with them. Daily in the most humbling moments these children walk through fires together, cheering each other on, picking each other up.
The human spirit never ceases to amaze and inspire me. So much that even at the end of a very long day during a busy holiday, I feel contented and peaceful in my heart. I get to walk with them, to love them when they can’t see their own worth, to nurture them and to guide them and to keep them safe for a brief space of time in a storm between storms.
I get to see them leave, and when they do, my heart both constricts and expands with the love I have for them, hoping they won’t need to come back. I watch them go with the hope and worry of my mother’s heart. I watch them smile and hug and wave goodbyes.
Michael Himes, a philosopher I am such a big fan of, said that there are three questions a person should answer when considering the direction of their life in order to live a fulfilling and meaningful life.
Ask yourself what do I love to do? Am I any good at it? Will someone pay me to do it?
It took time and interesting turns before I found myself where I am today. It’s hard work. It takes every ounce of emotional strength every single day. It pushes me constantly to be stronger, softer, better as a person. I get home exhausted and happy. Sometimes I’m exhausted and weeping. But what I have, It’s rare. I know what I love to do. I am good at it. I am fortunate to be paid to do what I love with all my heart. Three questions.A contented heart. A life with meaning.