Friday, March 25, 2011

announcing a change

Change is in the air at our house!

Spring.  Pre-adolescence.  Adjusting to new jobs.  New kittens.  New blogs.


Yep.  My little blog is all grown up now.  You can find it at

I hope you enjoy the changes, and while you're there, be sure to check out links to More and The Joy Project.  Exciting goings on around here!

See you there!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Monday, March 21, 2011


By the time I was my daughter's age, I'd been singing in a choir for at least six years. I contemplate this as I watch her make corporate music with her classmates today—praying that similar seeds of interest and affection would likewise get lodged deep within her ready heart and take root.

Their voices are sweet, innocent, self-conscious. How long until she learns to sing with abandon, I wonder? How long until she discovers the thrill of giving herself over to the experience? How long until her joy in the glorious moment overpowers her fear of what other people think?

I flash back to my weekend—singing love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all, with my college choir Saturday night—full heart, full voice, full volume. Complete abandon. Complete accord. Complete joy.

I try to tell Beth about it at breakfast. About how alumni of the Chorale always get to join the choir in the singing of this piece at every concert. About my director and the significant role he played in that very significant time in my life. About how I've never been so happy as when singing with a choir of that caliber. But I can't tell her. Not without tears. Not today.

The Chorale sang—

What can purge my heart
Of the long And the sadness?
What can purge my heart
But the song Of the sadness?
What can purge my heart 

Of the sadness
Of the song?

("Song for Billie Holiday," Poem by Langston Hughes)

This sadness cannot be purged by any other means. Song is the remedy. Song is the therapy. Song is the salvation.

There will come a time when Song will be restored in my life. All is healed, all is health… Hearts all whole. ("Sure on This Shining Night," James Agee) I eagerly await that day—when my heart is once again whole. Until then, I merely listen, missing pieces of that which is most essentially me.

My thoughts come back to the 6th graders before me—fresh-faced, fledgling voices lifted up together in praise. I smile, fighting back tears for the second time today. I pray for their song to purge my sadness. And I listen with eager excitement, awaiting with baited breath the moment when they, too, learn the fullness of joy that comes from abandoning one's self to the music. Until they, too, know what it feels like to be Complete.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

we get by with a little help...

The day spent, we lay in bed, catching up on lost snuggle time—a high priority in our household. Buddy's curls find their way around my nose, tickling me even in their post-shower dampness. I breathe in the smell of shampoo, repositioning my head, and hug him tighter.

"You know what, Buddy?" I say. "I think you're the best boy ever."

He squeezes my arm, wrapped securely around his waist. "And you're the best Momma ever," he replies.

"I mean it, Buddy. I think you are a really neat kid," I tell him, wanting him to get that I'm not just saying this because this is something Momma's say. Wanting him to get that I see him for who he is, and that who he is has value. Wanting him to get that I don't just love him, but I like him, too.

He squeezes again. "I mean it too, Momma," he says. And in a whisper he adds, "You help me when I need help."

You help me when I need help. I am caught off guard by his comment—I smile a "that's an interesting thing to say" smile in the dark. "I'm happy to help you, Buddy. I will always help you when you need help."

It is interesting the things that speak love to a child. So often, they are not the things we think we should be doing. They are the things are children ask for. Snuggling. Praying. Doing something together. Time spent in proximity at the end of a day of separateness. Helping when one needs help. Putting the work aside and playing four square (with two people) when you'd really rather get your work done. I don't do it all perfectly. Some of it I don't even do with mediocrity. But in his world, at the moment, there is a little bit I am doing right.

After my week, I will take it, and rest in that tonight.

Friday, March 18, 2011

on the couch with buddy

Sigh. What is it they say about the best-laid plans?

Today was spent nursing my 8-year-old back to health, rather than taking care of myself. Some days, we just have to do this. God takes our tidy little agenda and tips it upside down like a snow globe, and all the little "appointments" float around like flecks of glitter and fall in entirely different places. My women's group. My quiet time. Blogging. Working on the manuscript. My healing prayer appointment. All up in the air, and then all just gone—buried under a day full of Mike Rowe getting dirty to my son's gleeful delight.

It would be one thing if I did it well—this caretaking thing. I sat on the couch for as long as I could stand it, reading my book in snippets between Mike's bleeps and blunders, and then I was gone. The itch to be productive would not leave me be and I spent the rest of the afternoon at the computer working on blogging issues and research while Buddy sat on the couch watching Mike alone with his fever and his chicken soup.

I wrestle with this parenting thing. With this working full time/writing part time/parenting full time/exercising part time/dieting full time/socializing part time/taxi-driving full time/repeating sixth grade part time schedule I keep. There is not enough time to do it all, let alone do it well. There is fatigue. There is frustration. There is worry. And there is guilt. There is a LOT of guilt. I worry I've not done this mothering thing well. Not really well. And it grieves me. Because I wanted to do it well.

But there is, occasionally, a light that glimmers like a crystal catching the light of the sun at just the right angle. It reflects back to me something of glory. I sit back, my breath caught, and I just look. That glimmer is hope. And the sun is reflecting more and more of it lately. The hope that God will equip. Will restore. Will sustain. Will guide. If only I will listen and follow. If only…

My devotional for today reads:
Trust me one day at a time. This keeps you close to me, responsive to my will. Trust is not a natural response, especially for those who have been deeply wounded. My Spirit within you is your resident tutor, helping you in this supernatural endeavor. Yield to his gentle touch; be sensitive to his prompting. (Jesus Calling, March 18)

Yield to his gentle touch, sensitive to his prompting. I wonder how different today might have looked had I done that. I can't undo it now, so I will not dwell there in regret, but move forward in resolve.

Tomorrow, the snow globe gets re-shaken, and the glitter falls where it may. I can only take it one day at a time. Tomorrow is a new opportunity. To listen. To yield. To follow.

To trust.

To take care.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

standing strong when the winds blow

"Momma, they're kissing on the LIPS," my sixth grader tells me, distraught. "And their parents don't KNOW."

A wide range of thoughts and emotions churn in the back of my head making a sound similar to the whirring and grinding my computer does when its busy thinking. I am confused—when on earth did this happen? I am concerned—why is this issue coming up so frequently already? I am relieved—my daughter obviously thinks this is a significant problem. I turn cartwheels quietly in my head at the reassurance she does not think this is appropriate. I am alarmed—how do the parents not know? What's going on? I am apprehensive—do I need to tell them? How do I go about doing that? And how do I protect my daughter, the bearer of information, in the process?

She goes on and on in her concern. For several days. DAYS. She talks to me. She talks to teachers. She cries on their shoulder. She cries on mine. So much drama for such a tender little heart. So much confusion and chaos for such a young spirit. It consumes her life for several days. And, therefore, it consumes mine, as well.

The proverbial winds of change are blowing with a gale force this March. Boys and girls kissing. Friendships shifting. Homework increasing. Expectations increasing. And that's just at school. An exit from the gym. An entrance into physical therapy. An increase in my hours. A change in my husband's employment. Her life is in flux. Flux is not fun.

She tells me in bed last night that she's worried. She sees herself in a row of dominoes. She fears that the choices her friends make will affect her. She frets that if one domino falls, they eventually all fall. I give her a different picture. I encourage her to see herself as a column. A pillar. Tall and strong and rooted in the ground. A domino cannot topple a column. "I like that, Momma. That's a good picture," she tells me, nestling into my shoulder.

Innocence is already beginning to slip away, and my daughter is not yet even twelve. I take a deep breath, and I pull her close, and I pray like crazy for wisdom, for guidance, for her protection. I pray that God will show her in a multitude of ways that he is in control, and he's got this situation in his hands. After amen, I go downstairs, and I look up pillar on, and this is what I find:

Then our sons in their youth will be like well-nurtured plants, and our daughters will be like pillars carved to adorn a palace. Ps 144:12

Our daughters will be like pillars.

He is showing me, in a multitude of ways, that he is in control. He's got my daughter in his hands. I can rest assured.

I can rest, assured.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

tackling the tenacious ten

I've started a new series on my other blog, within which I will chronicle my last-ditch, desperate attempt to take off this BLASTED ten pounds I re-gained TWO YEARS AGO. You can link to it here, if you are so inclined.

I've revised the URL to better suit the title and purpose of the blog, and am moving in a bit of a new direction with it. You can now find it at, but the title remains the same!

Happy reading!

Friday, March 11, 2011

variations on a common theme

The purpose of life is to live it,
to taste experience to the utmost,
to reach out eagerly and without fear
for newer and richer experience.

Eleanor Roosevelt

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

spinning versus setting

So, I'm thinking that perhaps the next time it's 5:00 PM and I still have a couple hours of clients to go and I'm getting sleepy, I maybe ought to try the ice water route, instead. Maybe. No reason... (Blink. Blink. Blink. Why am I not asleep yet? Hmmm....)

After an hour spent catching up with emails (after a 12 hour day of clients), an hour spent blog-surfing, and half of an hour spent playing mahjong on my two inch by three inch phone screen, my brain just won't shut off. Or shut up. Which is leaving my husband wondering when I'm going to shut off the light and let him sleep.

It all began with an email from Anne Marie, a very cool and very sweet mom I met this year through my son's class at school. (Interestingly enough, her name is a combination of my and my daughter's middle names. But that's only interesting because it's 1:02 AM and I'm wide awake. But I digress...) After corresponding several times over a project we were working on together for our kiddos' teacher, we'd begun corresponding about blogs and website design, because I'd spent some time poking around her very fun and creative graphic design portfolio.

The topic turned to writing, and that's when this whole mind-spinning-not-sleeping thing began in earnest. Anne Marie told me about a friend of hers, Marla, a local woman who had "authored a few books." My eyebrows raised. I have one of her books. My sister-in-law, who was likewise friends with Marla, had given one to me when she had finished it. Years ago. How ironic was that? I read on, and my eyebrows went up even higher, as Anne Marie recommended to me Ann Voskamp's blog, a holy experience, based on her book One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are. Which, of course, was the third time this week someone had recommended her blog to me, and guess what? Yep. I already have the book. ?!?!?

What ensued from there was an hour or more of reading and exploring these women's blogs, and the blogs they were linked to, and the blogs those were linked to, and... you get the idea. 1:25 AM, and still not sleeping.

Here's the thing. Normally, that would have frightened me. Discouraged me. Disenheartened me, if that's a word. (At 1:28 AM, it's a word if I say it's a word.) Normally. But things are not normal around here, anymore. Now, I'm thinking things like, Why not me? Why not now? Why not all the way? Which is really, really cool.

Unless, of course, you're trying to go to sleep.

I'm not any different than any of these women. There is no reason I could not do this, short of just choosing not to try. Out of fear. Out of self-consciousness. Out of complacency.

The truth of the matter is that I have done hard, uncomfortable things before. Many of them were not my idea, but I did them nonetheless, and I lived to tell about them. Obviously. Not one but two master's degrees. (Don't ask. Long, annoying story.) Natural childbirth. (After four hours on Pitocin. Nothing natural about it.) Running a half-marathon, having never run more than a mile before in my life. (Ouch. That's all I have to say about that.) I can do hard things. I just have to set my mind to it.

I am setting my mind. I am pulling it off of its spinning, aimless trajectory, and I am setting it on this path, and I am not letting fear "grab me by the tail and shake me," as my friend Kim quoted to me earlier this week. There is no good reason why, in five years, another woman could not be sitting up at 1:37 AM writing about having been on my blog, not able to sleep because of what it stirred up in her. No good reason.

I'm still not ready to turn out the light, but I'm ready to power down for the night. Six hours of editing await me tomorrow, and you'd better believe the beverage of choice will be caffeinated come morning.

I'll be sure to stop by 3:00PM. Or earlier. Or, perhaps, not...

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

not broken

The good news is, the back is not broken.

The bad news is, we don't know why it still hurts after almost three months.

Physical therapy resumes tomorrow, after three weeks off to be certain therapy was not aggravating a stress fracture. We are relieved, but in a really bittersweet, I-hate-physical-therapy-and-can't-believe-we're-back-here-again kind of way.

I am not entirely certain, yet, that she's okay. Her grades are slipping. For the first time. Ever. She's unhappy at school. Could be hormones. Could be more. I just don't know.

When you take a kid who is used to nine hours of intense physical activity every week, on top of her normal screwing around, and tell her she has to BE STILL, I've got to think that takes a toll. I've got to think she has to miss it. I've got to think she looks at her trophies and her medals and her pictures and feels a loss, if nothing else. I sure do. But if she does, she doesn't mention it.

So, for the moment, she does not appear to be broken--body, mind, nor spirit. Time will tell if the diagnosis is sound. And time will hopefully, as they say, heal all wounds. ALL wounds.

She is not broken. My mother-heart can rest in peace tonight. Tonight...

Tomorrow is a new day. We shall see what prognosis physical therapy holds, and how quickly they can put her back together again.


Sunday, March 06, 2011

colla voce—revisiting the title

Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with their song still in them.

Henry David Thoreau

As part of my attempt to determine where I am going from here, I have been looking back over the past five years I have spent writing on this blog. When I began writing for it in 2005, I was still grieving having stepped away from singing professionally. I titled the blog "Finding My Voice" because I saw it as an attempt to replace what I believed was lost. It did not take long, however, for me to discover that this new "voice" fit me well, and I changed the title to reflect that change in perspective.

As I contemplate what writing will look like for me now and in the future, and as I particularly contemplate what role this blog will play in that, I have again been thinking about the title, and continue to find it relevant. Colla voce is a musical term which instructs the accompanist to follow the soloist in a particular passage, giving the soloist the freedom to create their own tempo as they interpret the lyrics or the mood of the piece. The soloist is released to hasten or linger as they see fit, allowing themselves to surrender to the creative force within them, unconstrained by the limits of someone else's tempo and pacing.

In order to sing colla voce, the vocalist must have a certain degree of confidence. The vocalist doesn't follow the accompanist, the accompanist follows the vocalist. Rather than following, the voice is now allowed to lead, which requires both a willingness and an ability to do so. The vocalist must step out and sing with authority—they must command the piece, they must be able to be followed. Once that confidence is acquired, they are free to take the piece where they want it to go, in the manner in which they desire.

My daughter is a beginning vocalist. She is timid. She follows the piano—even if the piano is off, unfortunately. She is young, yet—lacking the self-confidence to be in control, too self-conscious to sing out, to create her own tempo, to take the lead. For too long, I've lived my life in this manner—afraid of getting it wrong. Afraid of being laughed at. Afraid of standing out. For too long, I've blended in the background, following someone else's tempo, singing someone else's song. Not any longer.

Our college director used to tell us, when we were learning a new piece, that if we were going to make a mistake, to make a LOUD one. This was the only way, he explained, for him to know what he needed to correct and be able to correct it early before we learned it wrong. I am forty years old now. I am not in sixth grade any longer. Such self-consciousness is not becoming. I must own my voice. My mistakes. My successes. I must take a deep breath and sing out, lest I waste away in quiet desperation, my song dying within me without ever having been heard.

I have a song to sing. A story to tell. A life to live. I will sing it, tell it, live it. I will take command of this composition, and I confidently will set my own tempo, interpreting these passages of life as I see fit within the grander scope of the style of the piece. I will make my mistakes, and I will no doubt make them loudly. But I will keep on making music out of my life, because, in the end, that is what I am called to do. To let no song be left unsung.

This blog will be where I continue to allow myself to "hasten or linger as I see fit," writing about the topics that are important to me in a way that is meaningful to me. If you find meaning in them, as well, please continue to join me. And in the future, keep an eye out for additional venues to appear, as I continue to hone my voice and search for my unique little space in this vast universe of the written word.

Here's to singing out, and seeing where the voice leads!

Monday, February 28, 2011

too late to take it back…

I was all the way out the front door to head to school when the panic hit. What in the world did I just do?!?! What on EARTH was I thinking?

I wasn't thinking. That was the problem. I was reading. I was listening. I was responding. Now, I'm wishing I'd been thinking.

But if I'd thought about it, truth be told, I wouldn't have done it. I wouldn't have set the goals to finish not only my rough draft but THREE formal book proposals by the end of the year. I wouldn't have made the commitment to treat this like a part time job and give it 15 hours per week, minimum. And I wouldn't have taken Chris Guillebeau's advice to "amass a small army" and broadcast it to over thirty of my friends and family for prayer and support. Because NOW that I'm thinking about it, that is CRAZY. And I'm wondering if I can do it. And why on earth I thought I could.

Something got stirred up over these last few weeks and I stepped out in faith and put things "out there" and now I'm wishing a little that they were still the tidy, quiet little pipe dreams inside of my head that a few people knew I entertained but didn't know to what extent my mind went with them. I want to push the little blue "undo" button and have the words disappear and with them my newly-voiced intentions. But it's too late. And that is both a good thing and a bad thing.

It's too late. I've put it out there. You've read it. You know the secret desires and fears of my heart. And you will know whether or not I achieve them. And that is a fearful, vulnerable thing. But I'm tired of living in fear and life-sucking comfort. I'm uncomfortable now. And that will be a good thing, if I live to tell about it.

Of course this is crazy. And impossible. And improbable. And thousands of people do it every year. Why the heck can't I be one of them?

All things are possible with God. Stepping out. Taking risks. Getting uncomfortable. Fighting back against fear and doubt. Putting words on a page. Turning pages into chapters. Turning chapters into books. It is possible.

But not if I don't try.

What in the world did I just do? I thumbed my nose at fear and pushed comfort out of my chair at the computer. I put words down on a page, which is all I am able to do. And as for the rest of it that is out of my hands, I asked for a little bit of help and a whole lot of prayer. Which seemed like a good idea at the time.

And still is now.

Friday, February 25, 2011

master orange belt

Scenes from Buddy's Taekwondo belt test tonight.

Sparring with a black belt. Nice shot.

And taking one down to the ground!

Breaking his board on the first try!

Way to go, Buddy!

raising a glass...

There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who, when presented with a glass that is exactly half-full, say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half-empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!

Terry Pratchett

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Today is a writing day. Which explains why I've been blog surfing. If you write too, you know what I mean.

Surfing, today, took me back to Jeanette Fulda's blog, where I'd not been for a while. (Truth be told, I've not been anywhere in blogsphere for a while.) I don't know Jeanette personally, but I was drawn to her blog two years ago after reading her weight loss memoir, Half-Assed (which has to be, I must say, one of the greatest titles EVER). She is a delightful writer, with a clear, witty voice, and I was both delighted and slightly jealous to see that TODAY was the release date of her second book, Chocolate And Vicodin: My Quest for Relief From the Headache That Wouldn't Go Away. As a chronic headache sufferer of the 40 year variety, I had to smile and shake my head. (Not at her pain, mind you. That would be bad karma. If you believed in karma.) No, I smiled at her inventiveness and success at writing a book about it. And then, I smiled even bigger.

Why? Because usually this kind of thing would have sent me into despair. What I am thinking? How could I possibly think I could do this? Everything I have to say has already been said. No one wants to hear from me. I'm wasting my time. And so on, ad nauseum. But interestingly enough, not today.

Today, I thought, I could really do this. There's NO REASON on earth why I couldn't do this. This woman lost around two hundred pounds. She wrote and published a book about it. She got a headache. She wrote and published a book about it. If she can do this, you can do this. What on earth are you waiting for?

What on earth am I waiting for? Nothing. At least not today.

I chalk part of the change in my attitude up to having been reading The Art of Non-Conformity by Chris Guillebeau for the last several nights. (The rest I chalk up to a greater work of God within me that I'm not ready to talk about just yet, but which probably includes said book.) I'm half way through the book, and I've already used up half a pad of sticky notes. This is a hearty endorsement. Believe me.One of the very first things Chris urges you to get clear about is determining what are your core life values. I think I could say pretty clearly, without hesitation, that I value adventure, freedom (not of the "you-can't-tell-me-what-to-do-I'm-the-boss-of-me" variety, but of the "I'm-no-longer-bound-and-able-to-choose-what-I-do-from-here" variety), true intimacy, and hope. These are values, among others, that stir within me, creating discontent and sometimes even motivation. But.

But there's a problem. When I look realistically at my life, and the way I LIVE my life, you will see that I clearly value other things more. Comfort. Security. Ease. Protection. Self. Keeping up with the Jonses. I can see it. Can you? You can be honest. It's okay. Because I know you do. And it's time I do something about it. Because it's no wonder there is discontent. That doesn't take a brain surgeon to figure it out. I'm living in a way that is contrary to what I say I truly value and desire. I'm going to need to make some changes.

And I'm going to need to take some risks. Hence this post. I am taking a leap. I am through looking at and treating my writing as a hobby. It is now a part-time job. (With any luck and a lot of prayer, perhaps it will even follow the path of my other "part-time" job which is growing so steadily I cannot contain it.) My goal is to start at a commitment of 15 hours a week spent writing, researching, planning, and/or reading, all directed toward the projects I am currently working on, with the hope of moving it to 20. I don't know HOW I am going to do this. That's two hours per day to start with, increasing to three. And did I mention I have school-aged children, who will be out for the summer. But no worries. Because that is where YOU come in!

I plan to create a weekly email list of prayer support people who are willing to lift up the needs I am experiencing that week. I also plan to post once a week my progress. I'm creating accountability AND an army, all at the same time! If you don't receive the email and would like to be on the list, please leave a comment and let me know, and I will include you happily.

Exhale. Wow. I just said it. I've put it out there.

I've put it out there. I will keep it out there. And I will wait, expectantly, to see what comes back.

Feel free to be expectant with me!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

hearing is believing

I'd been told they were there. Indeed, I'd even been told exactly where to look. Take the boardwalk trail to the right, into the woods, and follow it around to the back. That was the best place to find them. And this, in its beautifully stark bareness, was the best time of year to try to get a peek. At least two had been spotted together on more than one occasion, I'd heard. I was hopeful that perhaps with a brief prayer of favor from above, I would catch at least a glimpse

And so it was that I drug my whiney, ill-tempered family out on a cold, damp, gray February afternoon to the very back of Innis Woods Metropark in my excited search for pileated woodpeckers. Ignoring their protests and complaints, I plunged forward into the forest with all three of them in tow, my eyes scanning the tops of deadwood trees, my ears pealed for the familiar cry or the rat-a-tat-tat-tat-tat-tat that would give them away. I was certain we would see something. Or at least I was hopeful.

Pileated woodpeckers (think Woody the Woodpecker from an age of kindler, gentler television), for those who are not familiar, are the largest of the North American head-banging, wood-pecking family. Over a foot and a half tall on average, with a wingspan of over two feet, this is not the average downy that comes to rest on your backyard feeder. Not by a long shot.

They differ from the downy, and many other smaller varieties as well, in the fact that they are a bit more reclusive in nature. While the average hiker might see several downys or red-heads or red-bellies on a marginally attentive walk through the woods, it's not often you see one of these really huge, really funny-looking, really cool birds. In fact, I've only seen them once in my 40 years (an event which greatly amused Tom's Aunt Rhoda on one of our trips to the beach, who could not figure out what on EARTH I was so excited about!), hence my anticipation once I learned of their easily observed presence nearby.

We searched for about an hour, making our way slowly and deliberately around the half-mile loop, but in the end it was to no avail. While we saw several other varieties and sizes flitting about and banging their heads, Woody eluded us, all but for his distinct call and his thunderous tapping. Hunger and spitting rain overruled my desire for a second time around the trail, and we headed home having heard but not seen what I'd gone out in search of.

As we stood in the back of the woods, hands cold and binoculars fogging over, scanning the treetops in the direction of the insistent tapping, it occurred to me the metaphorical nature of this quest. Much of this past year has been spent pursuing, looking for, that which I had heard of and could hear in the distance but could not see for myself. Now here I stood, literally looking for that which I could hear and had heard of, but remained unable to see it, despite my patience and best efforts. The irony was not lost on me. I began to question just what it was, exactly, I was supposed to see here.

Normally, this event would have left me disappointed, as many events do—particularly those that do not turn out according to my expectations. (Which would be, of course, most events, given my tendency to expect too much…) But in that quiet space, punctuated by their percussive interludes, I attempted within my heart to try on a different response for size.

The reality was the pileated woodpeckers were there. Of that, there was no doubt. I could hear them clearly, and I could distinguish their calls from all the others. The evidence of their presence was apparent. I could hear it. Just as I at times hear evidence of God, even when I don't catch a glimpse of it. I could choose to be disappointed that I did not see them (or Him), or I could choose to be content with knowing their presence was there and we heard it, and with knowing that if I am persistent, perhaps one day I will be rewarded with a glimpse.

It is hard sometimes to reconcile a belief system that maintains we "live by faith but not by sight" with a Savior who placed so much emphasis on seeing, both physically and spiritually. I have struggled in guilt for 40 years over my desire to see, to experience, that which I hear and hear of, fearing this was evidence my faith was lacking. In the end, I've concluded I don't think it's wrong to want to see, but more importantly I've concluded I can't devalue the hearing simply because it is not sight, nor can I say that His presence isn't there simply because I can only hear but not see. It is a perspective I can make fit, at least for today.

In the end, I did not see what I came in search of, but I did find it. Perhaps this shift is significant. Perhaps I can learn to value that hearing is experiencing. And perhaps, if I am persistent, I will come, in time, to experience fully the measure of all the fullness of God, and my faith and my sight will be one and the same.

Friday, February 18, 2011

moderation, my fanny

I almost didn't do it. I had been avoiding it lately--afraid of what I'd find and what I'd do once I found it. And so I went for three weeks maintaining total abstinence, in complete ignorant bliss, not knowing what the scale had to say about what my body was or wasn't doing. I'd tell you it was a peaceful, serene three weeks without this constant, subjective feedback, but that would be a lie. Feedback, alas, comes in many forms...

Read more at More...

Monday, February 14, 2011

catching my breath

Finally a moment to sit down at my keyboard, and I am without my manuscript and cannot think of a darn thing to write about. Panera is hoppin’ and my meal is finished and my lunchtime-rush limited 30 minutes of free wifi are quickly ticking away, but nothing comes to mind as my body slowly digests the renegade carbohydrates I just scarfed down in order to have time to write. All that blood in my stomach, I suppose. Isn’t that what they say?

A timer goes ignored in the kitchen and a baby screams somewhere across the way and the 20-somethings at the table next to me complain about their boss in hushed but animated tones. Patrons around me come and go, and I put my feet up and settle down into my seat and plan to be here for a while. A chill from the door begins to settle in, and I wish I were closer to the fire. Of course, were I closer to the fire, I would be wishing I were elsewhere. That seems to be the way it goes.

Perhaps it is not so much that I cannot think of anything to write about as it is that I cannot narrow it down. My plate, as usual, is full here as of late. We are back in the physical therapy routine—figuring out school schedules and transportation and what to do for an hour 2-3 times/week while they work at healing the newest debilitating injury. Doctors visits and x-rays and MRIs and massage therapy—there is no shortage of things to write about. Then there was the throwing up second-grader the night before the Valentine party, the weekend spent snorting Lysol and praying none of the rest of us would fall victim to the same vile plague, the upper respiratory crud that has grabbed several of us by the chest and won’t let us breathe. But it’s winter. Everyone is sick. And we, in particular, are always sick. What on earth is interesting about that?

Then again, perhaps it is not so much that I cannot think of anything to write about as it is that there are things on my mind I cannot write about, things I can’t put into words, things that aren’t fit for public consumption. I consider what I could possibly consider as I sit here nursing my luke-warm tea, and I come up with nothing I would possibly feel comfortable exploring in the comfort of my cozy but very public mini-booth at Panera. The tables around the fire are all open now, and I consider moving. An attempt to distract myself, I suppose, from thinking about that which I don’t want to think about, much less write about. I stay put, pulling my sweater around my legs and shrinking and inch or two further away from the radius of the door. Wrapped up and secluded, both inside and out.

The 20-somethings have gone back to work and the baby has fallen asleep and the timer has long since been silenced. But my thoughts are still just as scattered as they were when I first put my fingers to the keys. I consider reaching in my bag for a book, but feel compelled to write since it is the first chance I’ve had in over a week to do so. The urge won’t leave me alone—not now, not ever. It is always there, nagging at me, trying to pull me from whatever it is I am doing at the time. I need to listen to it. I need to give in to it. I need to shut it up, even if just for a few short minutes here at Panera.

My tea is almost drained and my eyelids are getting heavy. Another hour until I pick the injured one up early from school and take her to a new doctor, hoping to find out why the back won’t stop hurting, and what to do in order to fix that. I watch people come and go, and I consider getting up and joining them. I am undecided as of yet, but of this I am certain—I’ve written just about all I can write for today.

Friday, February 11, 2011

ode to lysol

Gold colored can of foul floral scent,

blast through the air and make your descent—

on pillows, on blankets, on bears and on beds,

cover them all until all germs are dead.

Hover and linger, alive in the air,

gobbling it all until nothing is there.

Ridding my home with your magical power

of this plague that makes everyone puke on the hour.

Scour and scourge until all trace is gone,

restoring our health by the breaking of dawn—

Cleanse us of sickness, we humbly pray,

for I MUST be to work on the very next day.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

breaking up is hard to do

My Bub, winning her third straight title as Beam State Champion. Words cannot express how proud I am of the things my daughter has accomplished in the last three years, the overwhelming majority of which don't come with a title or a medal.

We made the tough decision tonight to pull Bub from the team early. We'd planned already for this to be her last season. Competing interests have become a strain. The cost has become a strain. The schedule and transportation have become a strain. But we hadn't planned for this.

A back injury one week after winter States has not healed. And, in fact, it has gotten worse. The doctor has ordered 4-6 weeks out of the gym. Spring States are in nine. That doesn't seem feasible. And so we've done the difficult thing.

After coming back from a broken upper arm and several months of PT her first season to win the All-Around State Champion Title last spring, we were pretty psyched to see what she could do entering the season on a more even playing field. In her first five meets, she made one of the top two spots on the podium for all-around four times. To say that we are disappointed is an understatement. But.

But. We believe that this doorway closing paves the way for other doors to open. And she is fortunate that there are several other doors awaiting her. While this is not how we wanted this to end for her, we are thankful she is in agreement with our decision and, as she has learned how to do throughout these past three years, is taking it in stride. That, to me, is the attitude of a champion.

Not all victories come with trophies. Nor do they always feel victorious at the time. But they are victories, nonetheless.

Monday, January 24, 2011

ready to break free

This is the most terrifying prospect a human being can face...the Fear That We Will Succeed.

We fear discovering that we are more than we think we are. More than our parents/children/teachers think we are. We fear that we actually possess the talent that our still, small voice tells us. That we actually have the guts, the perseverance, the capacity. We fear that we truly can steer our ship, plant our flag, reach our Promised Land. We fear this because, if it's true, then we become estranged from all we know.

The War of Art
Steven Pressfield

I want to make your life a glorious adventure, but you must seek to know me in greater depth and breadth instead of striving for a safe lifestyle. I know how ambivalent your heart is in all of this: You long for the adventure that a life abandoned to me can be, and at the same time, you cling to old ways because change frightens you. Though you feel safest when your life is predictable and things seem to be under control, I want you to break free and discover the adventures I have planned for you.

Jesus Lives
Sarah Young

Read these both today for the first time. Coincidence? I don't think so.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

for my firework... she tries to sleep after we've just talked about the possibility that we might be ending gymnastics sooner than we planned...

(Katy Perry)

Do you ever feel like a plastic bag
Drifting through the wind
Wanting to start again

Do you ever feel, feel so paper thin
Like a house of cards
One blow from caving in

Do you ever feel already buried deep
Six feet under scream
But no one seems to hear a thing

Do you know that there's still a chance for you
Cause there's a spark in you

You just gotta ignite the light
And let it shine
Just own the night
Like the Fourth of July

Cause baby you're a firework
Come on show 'em what your worth
Make 'em go "Oh, oh, oh!"
As you shoot across the sky-y-y

Baby you're a firework
Come on let your colors burst
Make 'em go "Oh, oh, oh!"
You're gunna leave 'em fallin' down-own-own

You don't have to feel like a waste of space
You're original, cannot be replaced
If you only knew what the future holds
After a hurricane comes a rainbow

Maybe your reason why all the doors are closed
So you can open one that leads you to the perfect road
Like a lightning bolt, your heart will blow
And when it's time, you'll know

You just gotta ignite the light
And let it shine
Just own the night
Like the Fourth of July

Cause baby you're a firework
Come on show 'em what your worth
Make 'em go "Oh, oh, oh!"
As you shoot across the sky-y-y

Baby you're a firework
Come on let your colors burst
Make 'em go "Oh, oh, oh!"
You're gunna leave 'em fallin' down-own-own

Boom, boom, boom
Even brighter than the moon, moon, moon
It's always been inside of you, you, you
And now it's time to let it through

Cause baby you're a firework
Come on show 'em what your worth
Make 'em go "Oh, oh, oh!"
As you shoot across the sky-y-y

Baby you're a firework
Come on let your colors burst
Make 'em go "Oh, oh, oh!"
You're gunna leave 'em goin "Oh, oh, oh!"

Boom, boom, boom
Even brighter than the moon, moon, moon
Boom, boom, boom
Even brighter than the moon, moon, moon

I love you, Bub. You're still gonna shine.

You're still gonna shine.

Friday, January 21, 2011


Cris texts me. "Rds r clr...just cold as i dont know what."

I text her back. "Keep us posted. Haven't left yet. There by dinner."

I text April. "What time r u leaving? We're l8r than we hoped."

"We are trying to get out of the house too. Our goal was 2."

"Ours, too. Will prob b 2:15-2:30. Cu u there--wanna get dinner 2gether?"

"That sounds good! As long as not too fancy. Im in comfy clothes."

"U got it!" We agree to connect once we settle in the hotel. I continue getting ready.

"7.65 on bars," Cris updates. "Second highest in grps so far." I tell my daughter. She whoops.

"Tell her that's awesome!"

"Keira says AWESOME!"

April texts. "On the rd."

"On our way 2 get bagels then will be 2."

Another update. "9.1 beam." I tell Bub. Another whoop.

"Keira says NICE!"

We hit the road for The Big Meet. Will will be spectating this go round, but it is what it is.

"8.3 on floor. fell on front tuck."

"She okay?"

I don't hear back. We wait for the report.

I like these people, I think to myself. This is fun. I'm going to miss this when we're done.

"Champps or Buca's?" I text April.

"Buca's," she replies. So much for my low carb diet. That' okay. The company is more important.

I love this little community we've found ourselves in by virtue of our daughters' mutual interests. I love feeling a part of something outside of myself, even if it's just gymnastics.

"We're at mile marker 101."

"No way! We just passed 106!" We're a caravan and we didn't even know it.

An update from Cris. "Vault 9.325."

Jasmyne is finished. We'll await her all-around score and placement as we continue our way into Indy. Tomorrow the updates will come from April, as Iris competes with the group Bub would have been in. As Bub will be there watching, there will be no whoops, no one for me to report it to as they come in.

But that's okay. Because I want to know.

We're in this together.

And I really, really like that.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

"the magic of making a start"

When we conceive an enterprise and commit to it in the face of our fears, something wonderful happens... Angel midwives congregate around us; they assist as we give birth to ourselves, to that person we were born to be, to the one whose destiny was encoded in our soul...

The War of Art

Monday, January 17, 2011

another go-round with the big “d”

"My back hurts, Momma," my daughter moans for the umpteenth time. "It really hurts." I remind her to take some ibuprofen, to lay on her heating pad, to hang in there until we see the doctor tomorrow. She sighs a heavy sigh—not the "you are such an unbelievable idiot of a parent and I can't believe you are making me/won't let me do that" sigh I have grown accustomed to as of late, but a deeper, weightier "I'm tired and I'm in pain and it won't stop and I'm so very, very disappointed sigh" that can just about break a parent's heart.

It is certainly breaking mine.

A few too many standing front tucks appear to be the evil culprit, executed a week or two before Christmas. With state championships out of the way, her coaches were working up new skills, much to my daughter's delight. The tucks themselves felt fine, but shortly thereafter she began to notice her back was sore. Within a day or two, the muscles surrounding her spine in her lower back had contracted so tightly she looked like she had small loaves of bread under her skin.

Certain it was muscular, we took a heat/stretch/massage approach to healing, which seemed, at first, to be working. A night of playing tag with friends on New Year's Eve, however, caused them to seize right back up and we were faced with the question of what to do next. Massage therapy ensued with a local therapist who specializes in working with gymnasts. We were encouraged and hopeful.

We knew Bub would likely miss her first meet of the new year, and that proved to be true. But our hopes were that a little rest and a lot of prescribed stretching, combined with a couple visits to Jan, would have her back up and running by The Big Meet this coming weekend. Our hopes are proving to be mis-placed.

The new season had started off so well—after coming from behind last year to win the all-around title at the spring state championships, we were very excited to see what this year would hold. In her first four meets, she took one of the top two spots every time. We were thrilled—what a good experience for her, I thought. It will be great for her to see how well she can excel when given the opportunity. We went in to fall states with great expectations.

A rough vault (we could not for the life of us understand her score, though I will admit scoring for the vault appears to involve a lot of complex calculations and the correct alignment of the heavenly bodies) knocked her down to 4th place overall, but a spectacular beam routine gave her a third beam state championship in a row. She was disappointed, but she took it in stride. I was disappointed, but I did not.

We shook the dust off of states our feet and set our sights on the future. The Big Meet, an invitation-only select team event which Bub had made for the first time, was coming in January, and then the Buckeye Classic, and then States again. Plenty more opportunities to show 'em what she's got.

Or not, as it turns out.

Turns out, my daughter will display another set of skills at The Big Meet this weekend—a set of skills she has, unfortunately, had her fair share of opportunities to develop and hone.

To say it is a difficult thing to watch your child face disappointment is beyond understatement. As parents, we want so much for them to have the big win, the personal best, the positive experience. We want for them to know that "thrill of victory" and to spare them "the agony of defeat." If only we could. For our own sake, if nothing else.

I have wrestled for a month with my emotions over the outcome of states, over the back injury, over the probability that this may be her last season. I want so desperately for her to end on a high note, if ending is what proves to be necessary. I want for her to feel good about what she's accomplished, to have pride in her efforts, to know this time has been worth it. Sometimes, more often than I would like to admit, it is hard to remember that winning is not a necessary ingredient in the making of such an outcome.

This weekend, my daughter will show people what she's made of internally. She will attend The Big Meet and she will cheer her heart out for her friends. She will continue to rest and heat and stretch and will tell herself that every athlete has to overcome physical adversity, that every top gymnast has had to sit out for a season. She will handle her disappointment (because rest assured, she will be disappointed) with a grace and maturity that has been hard-won. And she will cultivate a deeper sense of who she is and what she's capable of in the process.

My daughter is learning what it means to persevere, to endure, to overcome.

And that, I remind myself, is worth infinitely more than winning.

a measure of trust

A lifetime of experience with scales and diets and fat wardrobes and thin wardrobes and IBS and chronic pain and healing prayer and hoping-wishing-praying for freedom has left me feeling a little anxious that there is a staircase out there somewhere, and the only way is down. I can tell myself I can trust the diet, but that has not been my experience. I can tell myself I can trust the process, but that has not been my experience. I can tell myself that I can trust my body, but that has not been my experience. I can tell myself that I can trust The God of the Universe, but that has not always been my experience, either...

Read more at more...

rockin' the new look

This summer Bub joined Mid-Day Son, a band created by a group of her friends at school. Here they are leading worship last night for a middle school lock-in.

Sorry for the onslaught of pictures. Have to keep the family happy.

I hope to post WORDS very soon!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

child swap

Traded my daughter in this weekend for a straight-haired model. What do you think?

(I think she looks like Shawn Johnson, personally!)

Friday, January 14, 2011

this one's for mom

My Bub's new haircut.

Lest there be any doubt about who's child she is...

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

recipe for a snow day

1. Take two of your mother's good spoons, and hide them under your pillow. (Be sure to forget they are there, so your mother goes insane trying to figure out what happened to all of her spoons.) Take care to use REAL spoons, as plastic spoons "are only good for delays."

2. Put your pajamas on. Inside out. And backwards. Wear them to bed this way, with the collar all scruntched up under your chin so that you get drool all over it.

3. Take one ice cube per person and flush them down the toilet. (Be sure to pick small ones, as rumor has it ice cubes can clog toilets which makes fathers very agitated.)

4. Pray. "Dear God. Let's hope we have a snow day tomorrow. Amen."

5. Go to sleep (as if) and let the effects marinate for a full eight hours.

6. Wake up at 1:17, 2:30, 3:46, 4:15, 5:37, and 6:54 to see if it's snowing.

7. Awaken your mother (if she's managed to sleep through all the snow-checking) to see if there is a message from the school.

8. Enjoy the fruits of your labor.

Monday, January 10, 2011

one word

I'm not really a copy cat. Really. And, truly, I can't in good conscience be called a copy cat because it's too late to really do the thing right, anyway. So I'm not copying my friend Cindy, who did this really cool Reverb10 thing in December, because it's not December any longer, and I'm not really doing it. Really.

But here's the thing.

I've been looking for this very thing. I just didn't find it in time. I've been in my "it's the end of the year and I need to reflect and regroup" place (though, admittedly, I get in that place several times a year—"It's my birthday, so I need to reflect and regroup... It's the end of the school year, so I need to reflect and regroup…It's Wednesday, so I need…") so when I was looking at Cindy's kick-butt photography (click on her name above to be amazed) and came across her entries for Reverb10, I just about hyperventilated. This was just the springboard I needed. Short, concise prompts, no big book to read, lots to think about. I can do this. Though I won't do one a day, I won't probably even complete them all, and I won't, obviously, get them done in time for them to serve the purpose the creators intended. But I'm good with that. Because they will serve my meager little purpose just fine. And that way, I can't be called a copy cat. (Especially because worrying that y'all would THINK I'm a copy cat would be a form of resistance, and I'm making a new practice of resisting resistance. For today, at any rate…)

SO. Prompt number one: One Word. Encapsulate the year 2010 in one word. Explain why you're choosing that word. Now imagine it's one year from today. What would you like the word to be that captures 2011 for you?

One Word


My word for 2010 is bittersweet. Bitter. Sharp and disagreeable, causing or showing sorrow or discomfort, characterized by strong feelings of resentment or cynicism—there are things from this past year that have left an unpleasant taste in my mouth. Like Naomi changing her name to Mara, I have cried out to God about losses it feels I cannot bear, burdens placed on me I don't wish to carry any further, dreams and plans that didn't turned out the way I dreamt and planned them. I don't wish to live in this land any longer.

Sweet. Agreeable and pleasant, friendly and pleasing, characterized by kindliness and gentleness—there have also been moments that have been gratifying, sentimental, even delightful at times, though that last one might be pushing it a bit. Celebratory moments. Adventurous moments. Hilarious moments. Intimate moments. Bright spots like stars against the backdrop of night. I want to live in this place more often.

Bittersweet captures, for me, the juxtaposition within which I often find myself, despite my best efforts toward contentment and peace. Pleasure mixed with overtones of sadness. You take the bitter with the sweet. Certain things come at the cost of others. This has been the theme of this last year.

I'm pretty over it.


My word for 2011 is audacity. Intrepidly daring and adventurous, recklessly bold, marked by originality and verve—contemptuous of law, religiosity, or decorum. In 2011, I want to have the audacity to finish my manuscript, to love well, to say no when I need to. I want to have the audacity to live authentically, to create courageously, to follow obediently. I want to have the audacity to pursue dreams and passions and not just talk about it, to experience life and not just read about it, to connect intimately and not just dream about it. I don't just want to be courageous. I want to be audacious.

This is what I want to project into 2011.

Audacity. Intrepid boldness. Bold or arrogant disregard of normal restraints.

Behold, I am doing a new thing. See how it rises up.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

big as a barn

One and a half weeks into this diet and I feel as big as a barn. One of those big red ones. Someone could paint "Ohio: The Heart of it All" across my backside and put me along I-71 north and someone would come and take my picture with some very nice cows and a split rail fence and put it in Midwest Living or something...

More at More...

Saturday, January 08, 2011

burnin' down the house

My hubby and the kiddos decided to implement a new post-Christmas tradition this year. Behold The Annual Torching of the Gingerbread Houses.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

cats can't write...

...and they don't want you to, either.

i'm pretty sure kittens are a form of resistance.

six months

Six months ago yesterday, Latté crawled out from under our deck and decided our house was as good as any so he could be convinced to stay and oblige us with his presence. That first week brought with it a lot of lap sitting, a lot of soft talking, and a lot of patient waiting for him to warm up to us. I was thrilled to have found (as if we found him) a lap kitty, and was eager to see how things would continue to unfold.

As is usual, things unfolded quite differently as was expected. Once Latté wasn't starving any longer, he was not as keen to be held or to sit on laps. In fact, he didn't like it AT ALL. I was a little taken aback by this sudden change of character, and set off on my quest to get this suddenly stand-offish cat back in my lap.

A fellow cat lover then let me in on a very important scoop. Apparently, it takes six months for a cat to adjust to a new owner and for their true nature to then finally come out. Sure enough, when they got a new kitty, six months on the dot that kitty relaxed and warmed up to them immensely. Well, whew! This meant there was still hope for the lap-plan.

I have been very familiar with this type of hope. I clearly recall, almost twelve years ago now, sitting in my kitchen with my midwife (who back then did house calls to help with lactation issues) and a bright red, squalling infant, saying "I can't wait until we get this feeding thing all straightened out, so we can see what her real temperament is going to be like." Bridget smiled that patient, "oh, you're so naïve" smile and reached over and patted my arm. "Oh, Sweetie," she said. "You're looking at it."

This did not, unfortunately, deter me from trying to figure it all out and turn the "strong, passionate, creative, independent" young woman that I prayed for into someone more docile and, well, quiet. If you know my daughter, you know beyond a shadow of a doubt I fortunately did not succeed. But that does not keep me from still hoping…

The next two months of Latté's residence with us were spent in the utmost patience. He began to quietly unfold. He would lay at the foot of our bed. He would lay on the hassock by our feet when we watched movies. He would allow you to hold him for a full 30 seconds if you were very still and stroked him in just the right way. And best of all, he would chase his tail in great earnest for a good five minutes or more, which was a great delight to the whole family.

Then I got the brilliant idea he needed a playmate. We are gone quite a bit, and I didn't want Latté to get lonely. So we brought home a kitten and slowly introduced them to one another. It seemed like a good idea at the time…

I've questioned, ever since then, if the six month marker gets reset if you do something stupid like bring an insane kitten into the mix when the first cat is still adjusting to you. Or even increased. A year? Six years? How long does it take until I get my lap kitty? The questions and concerns run on a constant feedback loop. Would he be sleeping with us by now if I hadn't gotten the kitten? Would he be more inclined to be held? Would he play with his tail again if he were the only one chasing it? Is he happy here? Did I do the right thing?

I know what you're thinking. If she's this neurotic about her cats, heaven help her poor children. I will receive that prayer with gratitude. Because it's true. Only heaven can help them all now.

The obvious reality is that Latté is being fed and groomed and loved on and sleeps 23 hours of the day. He is deliriously happy. He even purrs sometimes, but you have to put your head right up to his chest to hear it. And better yet, he will actually walk through the living room calling for Zipper, which completely cracks me up. He's not at the foot of our bed as often, but truth be told, Zipper is a bit of an energetic "sleeper" (I've taken to calling him The Tambourine in the middle of the night) and so I wouldn't want to stay there with him, either. And he doesn't chase his tail, but, as previously mentioned, he now has someone to do that for him on a full time basis. He is as happy here as he can be, and adjusting just fine. I am the one with the problem.

I am the one with the preconceived notion (based on having spent the last 18 years living with The Best Cats Ever) about what things should look like. Big surprise that I would have expectations. Big surprise that I would be disappointed.

I am trying, however. I am trying to learn to let Latté be who Latté will be. I am trying to woo rather than force and influence rather than impose. I am trying to accept that he may never be a lap kitty, and I just may have to wait until the next go-round in another 18 years until I have that joy again. I am trying to loosen my claspy, sweaty grip on all ways I think things should be and just let them be how they are. I am trying.

I'll let you know in another six months how that seems to be working out. For both of us.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

kill me now

I was informed tonight, in her very delicate, demure manner, that I am apparently the ONLY parent who pays any attention to my child's grades on the WHOLE ENTIRE PLANET. This was news to me. Which is why I laughed out loud in her face when she said it. That probably wasn't the best tactical move. But it followed so quickly on the heels of being informed that it was ALL MY FAULT my daughter has NO TIME TO DO ANYTHING because I MAKE her do senseless extra work like correcting her math papers in order to regain some of the credit she lost, that I just couldn't contain myself. It just kind of bubbled out. It was also made clear, in a similar tone, that I DON'T CARE about her because I EXPECT HER TO BE PERFECT and INSIST ON CHECKING EVERY LITTLE CRAPPIN' THINK SHE DOES. I agreed with her. That is most definitely a sign of NOT CARING. In fact, I must absolutely HATE HER.

Which is why I've spent eleven years cultivating a relationship with this child that I pray will withstand all the storms that are a-brewin' in our neck of the woods. Which is why I sacrifice my time, my energy, my money, my freedom, my dreams and desires so that SHE can do what she desires. Which is why I lose sleep at night thinking about things like not being able to afford another year of gymnastics and the conflict that's going on in her little universe and how to speak to matters of the heart when all she wants is to do whatever she wants. It's all because I really, truly, don't give a rip. Really.


Somewhere along the line some ugly little hormones have reared their ugly little heads and turned my daughter, for brief periods of time, into an ugly little snot. I don't like it. The tone of voice. The lack of patience. The outbursts of anger with not even a cursory nod toward the pretense of self control. And the lack of remorse or responsibility for any of it. To her, the eye-rolling, book-throwing, pencil-breaking, yelling-screaming-crying-threatening-stomping-off is all completely justified. Which is possibly what concerns me most.

This is not a child I was permissive with. Nor is this a child I controlled and micro-managed. This was your normal, every-day girl-next-door who was obedient and cheerful and occasionally a pain in the fanny but usually felt pretty convicted about it later. I wonder if she is still that child. I want to believe she is. I want to believe this is just hormonal and nothing evil and sinister is lurking beneath the surface. But I can't know that. And it can scare the crap out of me if I let it.

When I got home tonight, her face lit up and she hugged me and followed me around as I got my dinner, babbling like a brook about her day. When I kissed her goodnight, she wouldn't even speak to me, because I am apparently the MEANEST PARENT IN THE WORLD. I know not to take it personally, and so I don't. I know not to freak out and lecture her, and so I don't. I know not to worry about it because it's normal, but I do anyway. Because I feel icy, cold fingers wrapping themselves around the part of my heart engraved with her name, and I'm chilled to the bone to consider the possibilities of what could await me as we move full force into this new stage of life.

May heaven either help me, or kill me now.

Monday, January 03, 2011

all’s fair in love and war

Having received duplicates of a book I asked for this Christmas, I returned one and grabbed another book that has been on my list since my writing retreat last May, The War of Art, by Steven Pressfield. An easy (though convicting) read, I am already half-way through it and I began it yesterday. As I've not really had any time to read, I'm not sure how that happened.

It is one of those books that one should read several times, digesting bits and pieces in bite-size morsels, letting them swish around in your mouth a bit as you linger over the sensation. It is that good. As I am a compulsive eater, however, I tend to read in the same compulsive manner. I am gulping this book down in one fail swoop, and will consider it further much later as it digests.

A question arose, however, as I was reading, that I could just not leave alone, especially given my post from New Year's Morning. As Mr. Pressfield discussed the perils of resistance, with which I have been very familiar this past year, he lighted on a topic that jabbed a stick right into the very place I've been trying to reach. Unfortunately, he does not adequately scratch my itch.Mr. Pressfield is discussing the role of rationalization in resistance, and does, I might add, a very convincing job of it. Because resistance can't show itself in its true form (because we would recognize fear as resistance and thereby feel shamed into action), it must be crafty. Rationalization is one of its tools of the trade. "Resistance presents us with a series of plausible, rational justifications for why we shouldn't do our work." I buy this. Completely. I have even been caught by it, hook, line, and sinker. BUT.

Here is where I get a little conflicty.

What's particularly insidious about the rationalizations that Resistance presents to us is that a lot of them are true. They're legitimate… What resistance leaves out, of course, is that all this means diddly. Tolstoy had thirteen kids and wrote War and Peace. Lance Armstrong had cancer and won the Tour de France three years and counting.

Great. Swell. Despite having children, they accomplished great feats. That's all well and good. BUT WHAT KIND OF FATHERS WERE THEY? (And, for that matter, didn't their children have MOTHERS to look after them? Not to mention probably nursemaids?!?!?)

THAT is the question penned below that last line on page 56 of The War of Art. THAT begs the question I cannot seem to answer for myself. THAT is what causes my spirit to churn and gurgle like an upset stomach when I'm faced with another afternoon of doing everything that must be done for everyone else. I can do what it takes to be a writer of the variety I would like to become. Certainly I know without a doubt I am capable. But at what cost? And to whom?

This is my issue. Competing desires. I want to be a good mother. I want to invest significantly and meaningfully into my children's lives. I want to be fully present and accounted for. AND.

I want to write. I want to go on another retreat and do nothing but write for six days on end. I want to write daily. I want to create and, in turn, be recreated. I want to live in this passion and be true to that which is within me. When I get up in the morning, when I go about my day, when I retire in the evening, THIS is what is on my mind: I want to write-sing-paint-draw-sew-bead-sculpt-meld-CREATE.

And I am having a bit of trouble trying to figure out a way to do BOTH without feeling I am failing woefully at it ALL.

if you're up for more...

...just wanted to let you know I've begun blogging again on my other blog, more. For those of you just dying to read more about my endless struggle with food, weight, and the perils of carbohydrates (all three of you), you're in luck. You can visit it here.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

a brief but important memo

To: Zipper

RE: Please note that despite its pronunciation, toilet paper is NOT a toy.

We ask that you would please refrain, therefore, from shredding the roll every time the door to the bathroom gets left open.

And in case there be any doubt, attacking smaller wads of toilet paper in the midst of being prepared for use is strictly verboten.

Thank you.

The Management

Saturday, January 01, 2011

our holidays

Click on the image above to see it enlarged. Happy New Year!

snuggling and sacrifice

It is nearly 11:00 AM on this temperate but grayish and wet New Year's Day, and, oddly enough, I am the only one up. The hubby who stayed up reading after we returned home from our holiday revelry is cozied up in bed next to the seven-year-old, who desperately but unsuccessfully tried to keep up with the almost-twelve-year-olds who intended to stay up ALL night but were found, true to my prediction, sacked out on the couch this morning, unknowingly succumbing to sleep somewhere after movie three. It was a valiant effort, nonetheless.

To say it is unusual that I am the only one up would be a gross understatement. When left to my own devices and not bound by the constrictions of four different calendars, it is quite the norm to find me still in bed while all the rest of my household starves for lack of an ability to get their own bowl out of the cabinet and pour their own milk and cereal. Occasionally the almost-twelve-year-old gives me a run for my money as her body shifts to its adolescent time table, but I can still easily beat her in a sleep-in-off hand's down just about any morning I am given the opportunity.

That is, until Buddy comes and crawls in bed.

Both of my children, I should clarify, are avid snugglers. They love to come into our bedroom after they've awakened and basically make sure that I am awake, too, which is very kind of them, if not entirely misguided. They pull back the covers and burrow through them until they've found my warm body, and then adhere themselves to me in whatever fashion they are able as warranted by my position in the bed. This has been our morning ritual since they were old enough to get out of bed--indeed, Bub even has gone as far as to set her alarm to be sure she gets snuggle time before she has to get ready for school. It is as much of our family's genetic code as ice cream and game nights and hiking adventures and leaving the new toilet paper roll on top of the toilet paper roll holder.

Sometimes, when they've shuffled in with a groggy step and fallen into the bed half-aware, I am blessed with another bit of sleep as their breathing falls mercifully into a deep, deliberate pattern and their bodies are gloriously still. I may not be able to breath or move myself, wedged as I am into the double bed I grew up sleeping in alone and now am forced to share with not one but two to three people and as many cats, but at least they are not moving and if I breathe deeply myself and try to visualize pleasant, spacious places, I can get very close to falling back asleep, myself. Almost.

But I am not always so fortunate. Buddy, who is the true cling-on of the pair, is also a bit, um, shall we say, squirrely, and I know as soon as I hear distinct, rapid footsteps scampering from the bathroom that my evening's repose has expired. No longer drowsy, all hope is gone of his body again becoming static, and I am up for a morning of elbows and knees and whispers and wiggles and sighs and desperate, futile pleas for him to please be still.

They tell me I will miss this.

Truth be told, I tell myself this, as well. It is the only reason I do not lock and bar my bedroom door on a nightly basis. I know I will miss this. Desperately. And so I endure it. And I only groan inwardly as soon as I hear Buster Brown descend from his top bunk across the hall, so that he will not ever know I am not as thrilled as he that he is awake and ready to snuggle. But it is a bittersweet snuggle, as I once again, for the first time of many that day, sacrifice that which I desire for the ever more important desires of my children.

We are nearing 11:30 and there is still no sound from upstairs. Apparently starting a movie at 2:00 AM was enough to keep Buddy quiet for his father this morning, and they are still warm and cozy in MY bed that I could no longer lay still in for lack of space and breathing room. (Literally.) Rather than fight for cramped, sweaty, broken sleep this morning, I have done a new thing in this new year. I have arisen before my entire family and come down to the kitchen and sat my butt in front of the computer and I've done something I WANTED TO DO. For once. Perhaps this bodes well for the new year. Perhaps this is an omen. Or perhaps this is just a fluke. After all, it is much easier to rise before everyone else when I am rising at 10:00 in the morning. Which is just about right for me...

Parenting and writing do not flow easily for me out of the same space. Somewhere between all the work of taking care of people, which is done both professionally and personally, I fear I have lost my creative self. The writer. The musician. The artist. I know intellectually they are truly not lost--just hibernating, perhaps, not enjoying the cold, gray winters of Ohio any more than I do. But I miss them. Desperately. And I feel incomplete without them. And I've still, after almost twelve years, not yet determined how to balance that which I need with the needs of my children. And I've yet to comprehend, in my own life and beyond, where the mystery of death to self and the reality of taking care of one's self intersect.

For a fleeting moment I hear a bird singing outside my window, and just as quickly as it came, it is gone. Thank God for temperate, unseasonable days that bring us out of hibernation and restore to us that which we were created to do. Even if only for one, quiet, up-before-everyone-else morning.