Archives for January 2013

Becoming whole

I’d love to believe I came out of the womb fully formed, that I existed exactly as I am now, with all my potential wrapped up in strands of double helix DNA. I’d also like to believe these strands required nothing more than the birthing process to produce the finished product. I know it’s not true, that we arrive more like a pattern, a work of art in perpetual progress. And wishful thinking aside, I realize my DNA sits like a canvas on which I paint everything else, until the portrait of a whole person begins to emerge.

The real me exists because of every color I paint on the canvas. I am every person I’ve ever met and every book I’ve ever read. I am every home I’ve ever known and every person I’ve ever nursed back to health. I am the green suburban lawn and the snow-capped peaks. I am every play I’ve ever seen, every person I’ve ever loved, and every prayer my parents ever lifted. I am the meals I have eaten and the slopes I have skied and the cities I have explored.

I am continually knit together in the secret places. I am becoming and someday, I will be made whole.

Things that make me whole right now:

This view:

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This book:

The Aftermath written by my friend Rhidian Brook. I read an advance copy, and stayed up far past my old-lady bedtime so I could turn the very last page with a huge sigh. It releases in May, and you want to put it on your TBR list immediately.

*note: not for grannies, small children, or those who use words like “sugar” and “fudge” when they’d really rather swear

These posts:

I am damaged goods by Sarah Bessey for Deeper Story

Grace for the working mother and her guilt by Lisa-Jo Baker

My praxis of prayer by Kelly Nikondeha for Deeper Story

This scripture:

“I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait on the Lord, be of good courage and He shall strengthen your heart, wait I say, on the Lord.” ~Psalm 27:13-14

This moment:

Just before the sun wakes

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This quote:

To do the useful thing, to say the courageous thing, to contemplate the beautiful thing: that is enough for one man’s life. ~T.S. Eliot

This show:

Downton Abbey and for comic relief after all the drama The Mindy Project

These people:

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What are the colors with which you paint yourself whole? How are you becoming? Link me up!

Compulsory fun and the art of fearlessness

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This winter, I decided to end a tortured relationship with my snowboard. After my first season snowboarding, we moved quickly from a love/hate relationship to a hate/hate relationship. One filled with frustration, borderline rage, and more than a few cuss words. It is a fact:  I am not cut out for winter sport, or so I thought, until my husband got wind of my decision and decided I should switch to skiing. He wants to be one of “those families”, the kind who post cheerful photos of helmet-clad, pink cheeked faces on facebook. I ungraciously agreed, and we entered into a level of pre-skiing grumpiness I never believed possible.

Naturally, I refer to my grumpiness as well as my penchant for disliking any idea that I didn’t come up with first.

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My hang-up appears to stem from forced participation in group lessons with people who, quite obviously, are there to make me look bad. It might also be related to the falling. Good Lord, the falling. And then there’s the t-bar, which I lovingly refer to as the spawn of Satan. I also don’t have a lot of interest in spending my Sabbath taking part in compulsory outdoor fun. It just feels wrong, and I feel pretty confident Jesus agrees.

Yesterday, we had our third lesson and afterwards my husband insisted we give a “small” slope a try as a family. I put small in quotes, because the Swiss don’t do anything small when it comes to mountains. It’s go big or go home, which coincidentally is my man’s life motto. How I wish it was, Go read a book and don’t leave home, but alas it is not. The five of us stood at the top of the hill arguing about who would go first, and who would watch, and why is our thirteen year old whipping out her iPhone when near death is at hand? So, we stood having this discussion when the seven-year old made an executive decision and yells “I’m going!” and I caught the words “Watch me, Mom!” as they drifted by on the wind.

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Two runs later, I am done. We send the two youngest up the lift alone one more time, and I stand at the bottom of the slope wearing white ski boots and a worried expression. I keep asking my husband if they’ll be alright, and he assures me they will and he promptly leaves to retrieve our car. I stand at the bottom, and out of the vast whiteness I hear shrieking. Full on screaming, and I can’t make out if it’s the kind of screaming that sends chills up your spine or the kind that comes with water slides and roller coasters. My girl appears at the crest of the hill, mouth wide open mid-shout, and she is flying. Flying, with no regard for bystanders or mama’s weak heart or fear. My hand flies to my mouth as she sweeps by me, heading straight for the line of cars parked at the edge of the snow, and I give a little yell as I imagine her careening off into them. She shocks me when she pulls up short, and snow flings upwards at the touch of her skis. She gives another shout and raises her arms above her head in victory. And when the blood rushes back to my extremities, I realize–I have so much to learn about trust and fearlessness and wild abandon.

Where are you practicing fearlessness and wild abandon? Maybe you’re not, but you want to. Where might you start?

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Disclaimer: That last photo? We didn’t ski that slope. Only in an alternate universe or my husband’s dreams would a slope such as this happen to me.

Five Minute Friday: Again

Hello, Friends! Welcome back for another Friday spent with Lisa-Jo and the Five-minute crowd. Today, we’re taking five minutes to write on the prompt Again. Do you have five minutes to write, read, or both? Why don’t you join us?


1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community…

Today’s Prompt: Again

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Some things are too tender to write about. They bring back all the feelings in a rush, until you feel as if you must relive each moment all over again.

Some things aren’t meant to be relived. They bruise the soul in such a way as to leave an imprint, one that never entirely fades away. One year later, the soul holds memories of a lifetime along with the shadow of the day you got the news, He’s gone. You try to forget how the words made you feel, how your hands shook when you put the phone down, and how the kids stared at you with wide eyes.

They’ve never seen you like this and you hope they never will again. But, this is life and you wear it fragile and you will receive more calls and bruises on your soul and shadows that never give way to the light.

Some things will never give way to the light until the day comes when all things are made new again. You rest in the knowledge of this and slowly allow yourself to heal.

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This post is for all of us who feel lost in the dark, who mourn, who aren’t ready to put words to the tender feelings just yet. One year ago, we lost my father-in-law unexpectedly to cancer. Today, I mourn with you, as we live in shadows and eagerly await the light.

On waking and breathing

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Last year, my husband saw the Broadway show Once. He came home from New York and raved about it, and I tried not to act annoyed that while he sat in a theater on Broadway, I stood behind an ironing board placed in front of a television that indiscriminately mutes every tenth word. He repeatedly told me how much I need to see it, and I repeatedly told him I’m not a huge fan of musical theater. He insisted and when we visited Manhattan last week, he booked tickets for the show. M has a keen sense for artistic integrity and beauty, and while our taste usually differs a bit, I trust his judgement. We sat in our seats, clutching our playbills, and I waited anxiously for the show to begin because he promised it would not disappoint. I decided if I could hear the majority of the dialogue, I’d consider it a win.

From the very first note, I held my breath and I’m not sure when or how I managed to breathe again, but when I did–oh, glory–I inhaled everything. I sat outside of my skin for two hours, caught up in the tenor and the strings and the expression on the actor’s face as he became someone else right in front of me. I think he might be the luckiest man alive to take part in the act of creation for an audience full of people every night.

During intermission, the set becomes a functioning bar and they invite the audience onto the stage to make a purchase. M pulled me by the hand and took me up on the stage to buy a drink. After we payed, he turned me around to face the seats in the theater and said, Wait just a minute. Enjoy it–when will you ever get to stand on a Broadway stage again? And while I acknowledge I have a dramatic streak the size of Texas, he’s right. We both know I’m not made for the stage. Regardless, I took a breath, turned around, and for just a moment I felt the magic, the wonder, the expectation as the audience waited to breathe deep from each note. Confession: I imagined myself taking a bow.

After the final curtain and the hooting and clapping, I thought about what art can do to a soul. How it grows us ten times larger than before, how it awakens us to beauty and sorrow and glory and wonder. How it holds up a mirror and shows us what we are. Art shows us how a finite body and an infinite spirit can contain the world in a single song, a movement, or a paragraph.

We left the theater, walking past the crowd of people queuing for autographs, and I blinked away tears. I thought I should feel satisfied, but it only made me hungry for more.

When you have to answer yes

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A few nights ago, I ate dinner with a genius, a lawyer, an investor, an astronaut, and a guy who holds more degrees than I have children. I think I understood about half of the conversation, and my contribution to the evening rested solely on my anecdotal knowledge of the Friday Night Lights cast filming their show in Austin, TX–the hometown of one of our dinner mates.

We spent the weekend in New York City, celebrating my husband’s graduation from a very fine school, the kind of school astronauts go to when they’re done circling the earth and want to add more letters to the space after their name. So, I spent quite a few days in the company of a lot of smart, intellectually curious people who asked me questions like “Do you like being a stay at home mom?” and “Can I get you another drink?”. Yes and yes. Make that two drinks–one for me and the other for my inferiority complex.

I’ve read a lot on the internet lately about women feeling inferior to other women they see online, particularly those whose blogs they read or whom they follow on Pinterest. This didn’t make a lot of sense to me, but then again I’m not known for my ability to throw fastidiously planned parties or knit a set of matching sweaters or bake a cake in the shape of a dinosaur. I don’t aspire to live like Martha Stewart, especially after that whole incarceration incident. She is living proof that too much time in the kitchen leads people to engage in criminal behavior.

But, put me in a room of bright, accomplished, educated people and I wear the feeling of not measuring up like an itchy wool sweater. It rubs me raw and suddenly I don’t know what to do with my hands and nothing seems to fit and I have to answer puzzled adults and their easy questions with a quiet yes. I stay at home with my kids. Yes, my vocabulary has regressed to that of a seven-year old. And yes, while one of you hovered like a god over the surface of the earth, I spent hours bribing little people to use the potty with a half-eaten packet of M&M’s.

Yes, I will take that drink.

The desire to do something more, to be more, and to accomplish more is a feeling I know too well. It’s a slow burn–one that should grow  from its close proximity to people of passion rather than be extinguished by them. I don’t have a passion for baked goods or housekeeping or staying in any one place for too long. I don’t want to sit and burn slow while others chase higher learning or exquisite art or the surface of the moon. I want to be aflame, and answer them with a confident yes, I am raising up three incredible human beings and yes, I am pursuing my art and yes, my fingertips will skim the stars, only in a more stay at home mom-ish less astronaut-y kind of way.

How about you? What are you saying yes to these days? How do you feel about Pinterest, or inferiority, or people who carry a Mensa card?