Archives for February 2014

February in review

February sunset via kimberlyanncoyle.com

Every month, I want to join the “What I’m into” online crowd. Or the “Things I like now” club or the “My latest finds” group. Whatever you want to call it, I want to be a part. Then I remember that I have three children in three schools with a ridiculous number of extra-curricular activities, and the only thing I’m “into”, is staying sane. Occasionally, I might manage to do that with a good book. I feel jealous when I read these posts on someone’s latest musical finds or the ten books they read this month or the twenty posts they curated for our reading pleasure. Where do they find the time? I keep people clothed and mostly fed. End of story.

However, I do love a good list, and I like to reflect on the minutiae of my life every so often. It reminds me that most of life takes place in the mundane details, not in the deeper thoughts rattling around in my head. This month, I’m linking up with Emily and friends to share the “fascinating, ridiculous, sacred, or small” for the month of February.

Here’s what I learned this month:

1. After many years of trying unsuccessfully to replicate the French “r” sound, (I either sounded like I was speaking in German or like I was hacking up phlegm. Which, ahem, is the same thing.) I found an instructor who taught me how to create the sound. It’s a vibration, not a rolling of the tongue like the Spanish, or a guttural noise like in German. I get it right about half the time, which is 50% more than before.

2. When the physical therapist says, “Your pain is our pleasure” he isn’t kidding. And also, after giving birth three times, there is almost no position too awkward if it promises relief from the never-ending pain in my arse.

3. When the physical therapist suggested I may have a hip impingement, a stress fracture, or oddly enough, an allergy to gluten, I balked at the idea of allergy testing. Apparently, I’d rather have a fissure in my bone than give up the cookies.

4. I experienced a new low when I went to the grocery store in sweatpants this month. This is the one thing I swore I would never do. When I told my friends, one of them confessed she left the house in sweatpants sans bra that morning. At least I wore my undergarments, and what with all the physical therapy and awkward positions, I consider myself winning in this situation.

5. I’m a little bit obsessed with the Enneagram, and thanks to Leigh’s post this week, I have confirmed I am a four. Living with me is a real walk in the park. Said my husband never. If you know your number, share it in the comments!

6. The song “Let It Go” from Frozen? Tears, every time. And now I know why.

7. Winter sunsets. I can’t get enough of them.

Strong language or how to let it go

london street via kimberlyanncoyle.com

My daughter told me they talked about “strong language” in literacy group the other day. When I got over my first impression of third graders reading rap lyrics by Eminem, I asked my girl what she meant. She said story tellers use strong language to tell a better story; they use words that make you feel. When the teacher used the term “strong language” and began to explain it, my daughter began to tear up. When they read a sad story as an example, my girl allowed two fat tears to roll from her cheeks to her chin. She said, “I couldn’t stop them, Mom.”

Before I began writing, I spent much of my life trying to stop the tears and the feelings that accompanied them. My inner life was very rich. It was a colorful chaos I hid beneath a highly controlled exterior.  I hadn’t yet found the outer language I needed to express the fullness of my inner life. I saw a counselor a number of years ago, and it surprised him to discover that I never suffered from an eating disorder or an addiction of any kind. What did I do with all the feelings, he wondered? I buried them. And when I thought no one could hear me, I cried them out in the shower.

Yesterday, our school’s fifth grade chorus performed the song “Let It Go” from Frozen on national television. As I watched them on the screen closing their eyes, singing and swaying to the lyrics, I cried. Big fat tears, cheeks to chin. Call me cheesy or childish or silly, but the lyrics of this song speak the truth I lived for too long.

“Don’t let them in, don’t let them see

Be the good girl you always have to be 

Conceal, don’t feel, don’t let them know

Well now they know

Let it go, let it go”

For me, writing is an exercise in letting go. The colorful chaos of my inner life rises to the surface, breaking through the controlled façade, revealing the life pulsing below. I’m learning how to harness the power of strong language, while the fearful and false me falls away in a string of words.

I have learned to let her go.

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 What are you letting go of today? How do you go about releasing it?

A many layered thing

ireland via kimberlyanncoyle.com

I had someone ask me in conversation, “Are you the kind of person who…?” and she proceeded to say something that I didn’t find particularly flattering. Having known this person for no more than thirty minutes, I dismissed it with a shrug. But, as I raced through the rest of my day, her question returned to my thoughts.

“Am I the kind of person who…”

When I thought about what prompted her to ask the question, I realized that our conversation leading up to it could easily have led her to believe that I am, indeed, that kind of person. Without further context, without history or mutual friends or any kind of connection, I understand her conclusion.

Recently, a good friend of ten years, told me he never realized I was born (and spent many subsequent summers) down south. He didn’t know the rich history of my childhood, of hazy Louisiana days spent slapping the bugs away by the edge of the lake. Another friend, on seeing a few of my photographs hanging around my house, mentioned that he didn’t realize I was so “artsy”.  Another told me she didn’t realize I used to work as a nurse.

Taken separately, I wouldn’t think anything of these incidents. Layered on top of one another, it caused me to wonder how much of the strata of my life goes undetected. It piles up in thick layers beneath my everyday façade, and even the friends who know me best, don’t always see deep down to the foundation. Some of it is simply forgetfulness, but it also reflects on how adept I’ve become at smoothing over these funky seams. The layers don’t line up nice and pretty, like a victoria sponge cake. They’re craggy, jagged earth, with some unaccountable gaps in-between.

I’ve learned to love my time-worn edges and my weird gaps and the crumbly layers that make up the whole of me. They are my story, my physical history written deep down into the landscape. I love when people share their history with me, perhaps it’s time I remember to do the same. I could do with fewer awkward conversations that leave one or both of us wondering, “Are you the kind of person who…?”

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Enough about me! I want to get to know you better too. To start why don’t you finish this sentence in the comments:  “I’m the kind of person who…”

Five-Minute Friday: Small

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 Small. 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: Small

my boy via kimberlyanncoyle.com

He sat at the counter on the lone stool, his back a small curve above the wood seat. He bent over his bowl of cereal, and I stood looking at the curve of him. I remember the day he was born, on a sunny spring morning, right there on the bedroom floor. I had no idea when his tiny body slid from mine, the ways he would grow in greatness. His spirit is huge, he is an almost-man, housed in a little boy body.

I am small, child-sized, really. But, these tiny bones house something bigger, something like the weight of the world I sometimes carry in my chest. We never know how much a body can contain, or how capable we are–housing enormous spirits, big love, and sometimes even bigger regrets.

As I watch his shoulders rise and fall, I imagine what greatness, what goodness he might contain. I hope his body is a willing vessel, although I know from experience, our flesh can hide a universe from the seeing world. We hide the ugly, but we also hide the good. We are all capable of birthing something small, housing within it, the potential for something far greater.

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I’m so glad you stopped by today. I hope your weekend is filled with wonderful things, both great and small.

Come let us mourn together

sunset via kimberlyanncoyle.com

A friend and I started a mother/daughter movie night with our biggest girls. We thought it was time to introduce them to the world of chick flicks, the classics, if you will. One afternoon, as I emptied the dishwasher, I told my daughter we chose Steel Magnolias as our first selection. She replied, “What is that? Like, a movie about superheroes?” I stood there, fistful of forks suspended in mid-air, stunned into silence.

Clearly, I have been remiss. It’s time she had a proper education.

We ate nachos and red velvet cupcakes, while the girls giggled under a blanket together. My friend and I sat with tissues at the ready, crying through the most emotional scenes, laughing through others.  I couldn’t stop the flow of tears during the scene at Shelby’s graveside, where Ouiser, Clairee, and Truvy surround Shelby’s mother, M’Lynn, as she openly grieves. They listen, they say stupid things, they laugh and cry and mourn together.

I looked at my daughter, who averted her eyes as she let out an uncomfortable giggle. I wanted to shout and point at the screen and say, “Yes, you were right! Do you see? They are superheroes!” Instead, I looked away and wiped my cheeks with my bare fingers. She will learn, the way all women do, that our capacity for love is discovered only when we realize just how many holes need filling.

A few weeks later, my little one’s teacher lost her twenty-four year old son. As one of the classroom moms, I attended the family’s open visitation. She stood in the receiving line wearing a black dress I’ve seen her wear in the classroom, and the sight of that familiar black dress and her question to me, ” How are my kids?” shred my heart into a million little pieces. I imagined her standing in front of her closet that morning, pulling out the dress she wore to teach my daughter on an ordinary day, knowing there is no more ordinary. Her days have a gaping wound ripped right through them.

She is back in the classroom, and she is giving me and every mother out there a real life education. She shows up in her everyday clothes, but I know beneath them she hides her superhero status. The big red S covers a heart with a hole in need of filling. Sometimes I want to avert my eyes, because it’s painful to watch loss unfold. But, I keep watching and waiting for the day when our own Savior gathers these mother heroes to his breast. Until then, we mourn together for a world spinning upside down on its axis. Nothing is as it should be when mothers bury their children.