Pages

12.09.2020

"I'm Leaking", said the Grinch. Mine was more of a drowning.

It was a very, very bad day. The kind that swells to tsunami level with no warning. My soul, mind, body and spirit careened recklessly with the brake wires clipped. With no berm to skid to a stop, I sobbed most of the day. By the next morning my face appeared to have been filled with all the fluid I had cried out. I looked like the shit I felt inside.

Some say crying can be a good thing, a cleansing that needs to occur. Maybe. Sometimes, possibly. This though wasn't one of those cries. This particular soul weeping left me feeling beat up, drained and defeated. Evidently, extended hard crying physically inflames the tissues in your face and under your eyes. At least that's what the mirror and Google told me.

Watching someone sob with great intensity and duration is tough to be a spectator for. There are no words that can remotely cause a cessation of the sobs. Reason cannot be received. It cannot penetrate that level of emotional intensity. All one can do is be present to let it run its course. The ministry of presence and silence is a big gift.

I was feeling the magnitude of distance, separation and isolation which was highlighted by my dad's 80th birthday. We all only have so many birthdays and I was missing precious time with him! It was as well the first year of not having a holiday baking day with my daughter. I was missing her and my granddaughter who, until I moved away from her, had spent constant time at my house. The bigness of a house remodel we had underestimated the amount of work that needed to be done had gone on for too long. I was missing my old job and boss. I was longing for life back home with the people and culture I love. I was isolated by the distance home (and a pandemic), a culture that didn't invite inclusiveness and life being universally pandemic-ally suspended everywhere presently. I felt burdened for the world and COVID, my family members that worked in healthcare and my own tenuous health amidst a pandemic. My health had taken a toll as well since moving here. It collided to a wall that crushed me.

My family refers to that level of sobbing as "the shovels". It's crying of such magnitude that your body sucks in air and shakes. Not a dainty or pretty crying at all but rather snot dripping, unaware of your surroundings, disconnected from all that is present sort of crying. The only thing you see or feel is waves of crying sobs. An emotional seasickness. It's a piece of grief expressing itself.

Why was the spontaneous reaction to things that were not new so great. I both tried to dissect my excessive crying and not put it into precise reasons or files. Loss has no real 3 step solution, though I wanted it to. The best I could give myself was just some acceptance and a scoop of hope for the future to be better than the present. But mostly, I needed grace to live in a space that isn't what I wanted without the things/people that I so desperately wanted.

I called my sisters a few days later. One of them reminded me that God says he holds our tears in a bottle. My bottle, I told my sister, was probably one of the bigger ones he has for tears. Her laughter at my response was what I needed to hear too.

God saving our tears in a bottle is a very intensely intimate picture of the intricate listening, value, care and wild all out love God has for us. For me. Nothing is not noticed by Him. Nothing. Even our tears mean something to Him. It seems odd to me though, as tears usually aren't totally coherent  nor orderly. I know mine were not that day. The thought of my jar of tears, "Nancy's tears", being held by God made me feel hopeful and much less alone.

9.04.2020

Word Arrows

That is quite a statement to make, Nancy...What I can't resolve is your actions of evidently being a complete fake, someone who must have "played a part" as a pastor's wife.  

name withheld to give them grace


Words are like arrows. And those were a direct hit. I re-stumbled across her harsh message while cleaning out notes on my phone. It fell between a note to remember an awesome Mark Twain quote and my Netflix password. It was date stamped 7/14/2014.  More than six years had come and gone since this former parishioner messaged me those words 4 years post divorce. I had well gotten on with my life by then. Today as well.

The sting hit me again. The statement she was referring to was the earlier part of her written dialogue with me and my response that she did not know the truth of 25 years of our marriage or divorce. The harsh reality was I would not fling dirt, nor would I convince someone of truth. You cannot get in a peeing contest with a cow my oldest brother-in-law says. He is correct indeed. I marveled yet again at the fact she felt she had a right, with very limited information or even remotely correct information, to weigh into something that was long over and not done to her. 

A few years after our divorce, I asked to meet my ex husband to get some things off my chest. I discussed this one sided church blame game with my ex husband and asked why he did not correct people's mistruths and the damage that had done to me. He said he didn't say anything bad about me. I said that was the problem, you didn't say anything in response to those close to you and their obvious assumptions that were not at all true so you could look good. I went into that meeting not needing him to resolve or own it, but to let it loose out of me. My mom had set me free from it the night before when she said, "Go give him hell honey!" Her affirmation cleansed me from needing anything from him. I love her for that more than she probably knows.

Reading those words again, I wanted to scream the truth all these years later, to exonerate myself adequately.  I though never have felt those details should be or need to be healthily shared. Perfect I am not for sure, but I was not fake in that world. It wasn't what she thought that mattered, what ricocheted in my heart was she made my life appear null and void because of divorce - of which the real dirt she had no clue about.

Blame is funny. There must be something in our minds that does not easily allow us to hold something that we cannot concisely categorize or understand as right or wrong, black or white, honest or a lie, real or fake.  And because we are wired to need to know and understand, we will make up what we need to get us to that place of filing it succinctly away. It's what we do both consciously and subconsciously as humans.

I have lived two totally  and radically different lives. Whether it is divorce, illness, or tragedy that someone is in the midst of, they are still that same person inside. I hope those in 25 pastoral years were encouraged and cheered on by me in their journeys, that they felt loved by me no matter what was happening in their lives. Though it appears by her harsh words, judgement and ownership of something that is not hers to own, I failed to saturate the lesson of love overrides it all to the church.  If our response to one of our own is that harsh, what are we as people who say we love God painting the world with?

I am still Nancy, even in my radically different life. The difference is I can now be fully me - something I was never able to do in that other life. Being fully loved by your mate makes a world of difference. Being loved by someone who loves you fully for who you are, the way you are and how you maneuver in life is akin to living in blue skied sunshine at 70 degrees everyday.  One can flourish.



9.03.2020

Margins


Do you know why there are margins on printed paper, books and even in digital print? It's fascinating, really. You may even want to jot down a note or two in the margin!

Dating back to when important things were contextualized on scrolls, space was allotted between the rolls/sections to show a pause, a new thought, and even just to create protection between scrolls. Margins carried onward when the printing press was invented around 1436. Mass printing utilized margins for a myriad of reasons including; greater ease of reading, space for scribbling notes, a place for hands to hold and not cover the text and not the least, protection against critters [more prevalent in a considerably more rodent filled societal way of life] that might chew the edges. 

Jump to the the digital print era. You will still see margins around digital print to enhance brain and eye communication. It seems white space allows our brain to process things faster. I'm married to a marketing guru who would say that white space accentuates the text clearer and with great stand outability. White space is used in all digital print and advertising - a visual margin of sorts designed to help you gulp down faster, entice you to buy a product, return to a web page, etc.

I am far better when I live a life with margins. Far better!! To do so goes against the chaos of our fast society, how our synapses are bombarded daily, and my constantly shove ahead Enneagram 8 Type A personality. Regularly, and relatively easily, without my margin in place, I can feel like I didn't get enough accomplished. But, if I redesign my pages with margins I can more clearly view the frenzied accomplishing hamster wheel with accurate disdain and perspective. Developing margins makes me healther on so many levels! They develop the environment to a temperature that grows a more sustainable existence of peace and right priorities. Without margins, I feel like I'm running with scissors. Our health also takes a hit in a life without margins. All things connect.

I am a hare by nature - constantly restless and a bit unrelenting. Those form the basis for my operating system. I have come to know I need margins in life even more critically just to combat myself! No matter your operating system, we all need to develop margins in life . . . Enough money saved that if we had a car accident, a tragedy, lost a job we would be ok until we could find life's rhythm again. Enough time built into our day to spend time daily with God/meditating/praying or just in solitude, free thinking not on a timetable, to at times just me, exercising our body with some sort of movement and creating clean meals that feed us well. 

We also need margins to make room for unforeseeable interactions with people - surprise people moments. Far too often I can view those as inconvenient blips that suck time from my frenzied schedule or checklist living. Giving someone our present self instead of brushing them off, being open to the universe as people flow to you is part of how we connect with all of humanity. It is no doubt part of what is missing greatly in our culture.

Margins also create space between things in our schedules as a buffer zone. None of us like to go to a doctor's appointment only to find they have not allowed space for running behind. Stuff always takes longer than we think. My husband is notorious for saying a small home improvement fix will take "10 minutes". Never ever ever is that accurate. Without margins we set ourselves up to feel rushed when things don't go as planned. Margins allow breath, stillness, realistic expectations and responses. Life does not need to be gulped and sprinted though I do more times than I don't. My sisters still call me guzzler:)

I explained to my five year old granddaughter recently, in reference to her being in kindergarten, there is never a day that you quit learning stuff - learning is part of life like breathing. I told her that her Nana constantly learns new things. Margins allow for notes - the space to constantly learn and reflect, to not rush, be present, and create. She has a current love affair with three ring binders, which by the way need margins to work well.

9.01.2020

Go Down Hard vs Do It With Grace

I couldn't contain my inward thoughts much longer. Though I was listening to every word she was saying, my internal monologue was firing. [What in the world!  How is she 63? There is not one wrinkle on her forehead, her skin is smooth. That seems to be a Botox texture forehead, but who the hell cares - I would take that forehead in a heart beat. It does look a little like Joe Biden's forehead in the first Democratic debate earlier this year. She must have a tanning bed as her skin is the crayon color woodland brown. My skin is sun kissed for sure, but her tan is a quasi not natural color enhanced by some chemical. Oh how is it she looks better than me and she's 10 years older!  Can I evoke the powers of Dolly Pardon?!]

We were waist deep in conversation about COVID 19, the state of race, the prognosis of humanity, the goodness of God, you know all the big issues currently swirling when, in mid societal issue, I blurted out, "What the hell! You have no wrinkles on your forehead and virtually none on your face! What are you using and can I get a 50 gallon drum to dip myself in?!".  She smiled, without a facial line on her forehead and said, "Botox, right here", pointing to the space between your brows where nearly all of us should have furrow lines by a certain age. 

Speaking frankly to the tenth power, I do not like what age does to my body - this massive gravitational decline of all cellular activity and a cease and desist order on the production of all youthful buoyancy. I much prefer what aging does to our spirit, mind and heart. Our culture, and my own thoughts, are far too centered on the seen and less on the unseen. 

What is it that makes coming to grips with the changes in my body and face so difficult? I definitely do not want to be held captive by my own constant negative or overly consumed thoughts. Over the years I have asked lots of women, ahead of me in the gravitational pull line, if they reached a point in their lives where they stopped thinking about age or their looks. Though there have been a myriad of different responses, there were several overlapping and constant undertones.

I was too critical of my younger self. I thought I was too fat when, looking back, I looked great but didn't even know it! They voiced regret over not enjoying what they had before it wasn't anymore! They voiced a sense of irony that there is an allusiveness to not loving ourselves wherever we are at that is an unquenchable monster.

The mirror betrays me but doesn't show how I actually feel  inside - still young and with many of the same thoughts I had at age 19. They reminded me that looking in a mirror as we age can startle us, but also highlight though outwardly we change and weather, we are still ourselves inside!

I made as much peace as can be made with the changes in my looks and age when I embraced that all of it is by design.  They said a light bulb slowly brightened helping them to see we are all mortal and finite. We are given a life that includes both youth and old age.  It is unchangeable, and though we can fuss and fight and be negative, it is reckoning in its cycle.  Move on to things that don't fade.

Life moves faster the older we get.  They realized less is before them than is behind so they wanted to enjoy and be content with what they have and even, what they didn't have.

I was there. Fighting over unchangeables. Getting frustrated that all the things I used to do to get a result just couldn't keep up with the natural process of aging like they once did.  Unless I wanted to spend tons of money for a temporary never ending chase that still would take me to the same place one day, I needed to find gratefulness in it all. 

Age is God's constant reminder to me that I am not in control. And, since I easily think I am the great Oz, I need the curtain pulled back to see I am not. Often I say to my sisters, youth is wasted on the young!  It is true indeed as you do not even have even the slightest awareness of that gift while you have it.  

My sisters always told me growing up that I would be a horrible old person and would go down fighting. They were right, I am horrible at being old ER. It's not a war I can win though. There is possibly a need on my part for a white flag surrender or, at the very least, an armistice.



6.12.2020

"Spiders so large they appear to be wearing the pelts of small animals." - Dave Barry



Through my living room window I can see the world's longest spider web thread that runs from my clematis vine diagonally upward across the landscaping to the corner eave of my house. Now in spider steps that seems much like the expanse of the Bay Bridge in Maryland or the Mackinaw Bridge in Northern Michigan. Occasionally a slight breeze, combined with the right angle of the sun, illuminates its entire strand span. Impressive to say the least! Though I am neither a spider fan or crippled by fear, I marvel at their web skills, architectural displays of brilliant originality and a sort of Evel Knievel defiance of the laws of building.

I kill spiders. Sorry to those out there that relocate them away from their house when found.Though they are a great part of the Eco system both as predators and food for other predators, I do not want to them to get in my house. Period. It could be that they are sneaky and I don't much care for the sneaky, easily hidden insects. It could be that I was bitten by a brown recluse once and don't care to repeat that ordeal! I've had too many spider experiences in houses I've owned over the years - much too many indeed! My sisters tell me I am a creature attractor for all the insects and animals I have been witness to.

Tarantula - WikipediaWe lived in Arizona at one point, home of the magnificent tarantula.  To see them up close in nature is a wonder! My husband's employer had a loading dock in the back of the building that bordered the desert. Every morning the back dock area would be riddled with dozens of dead tarantulas. They eat insects [that's why they came to the dock area at night to eat the bevy of insects that the overhead light pole drew], but will eat frogs, bats, small rodents and snakes. Though they have a hearty appetite, they rarely bite humans, and if they do it's said their bite is no worse than a bee sting typically. Typically leaves room for exceptions so that leaves me out in holding one!

Black and Yellow Garden Spiders On her web facing toward ground  as a means of protectionThese once terrified me - big black and yellow garden spiders that like to build webs in and near plants. Their girthy size and brilliant color is alarming but they don't hurt humans. You will know one when you see their elaborate web that has a zig zag thread in it. They can build an elaborate web in a night.Talk about Extreme Makeover Home Edition! Anything that gets caught in their web they will mercilessly eat. If they feel threatened they may get aggressive which usually means they drop quickly to the ground. Their venom is not poisonous to humans but you may die of fright if one got on you! Adults can live several years but die at the first hard frost if you live in a cold weather climate zone. 

My daughter has been terrified of spiders since she was a small child. She used to lay, paralyzed in her bed or whatever position she was in when she spotted a spider, screaming for me to come kill it. There was no reasoning with fear, though I tried with her spider phobia. Fear is totally unreasonable and usually significantly off in reality. 

I had a friend years ago who was bitten by a recluse spider and eventually had to have her leg amputated due to complications of that bite. When I was bitten by that same type of spider, I took a pic of my leg and texted it to my doctor who said, "get in the car and get here as soon as you can." Between his antibiotic specific for spider bites and my concoction paste of activated charcoal and baking soda, I didn't have any lasting or adverse problems.They are not good at all to humans. Do not re-habitat them!

Image courtesy of gdaywa.comI saw one of the biggest daddy long leg spiders ever yesterday perched on my office window screen. I felt extra benevolent and let him live. Daddy long leg spiders are known to be fairly slow moving, docile and do not bite humans. They do eat other spiders that are poisonous and other insects as well.They live, without being killed or eaten, huddled in a corner somewhere about 2 years.

And finally, do we really eat 8 spiders in our sleep a year? Fiction is the biggest consensus. It sort of flies against what we know about spider and human biology. That myth was probably made up by an older brother to prey on his younger sister's fear of spiders. 8 is such an arbitrary number anyway. That scenario only further fuels my current insomnia.


6.05.2020

7.8 billion

We all love different things.  And, we love those things in differing degrees and intensities. It's both enlightening and mysterious to see what people gravitate toward - activities, products, choices, energy output, passions, addictions and even relationships. Something in our coding lends proclivity to this or that style, purchase, drink, food, house, hobby, vacation, friend, church, vocation, way of communicating, and even our choice of words. Variety is the spice of life, it's often said anyway. 

There have been lots of studies regarding genetics or environmental influences on people. I find those topics riveting. I gulp that genre of books and information down like a bag of M&Ms. That interest is merely a result of paragraph one - we are all different. It's why I love memoirs and autobiographies. It's also why I love to observe people operating fully as themselves with all their nuances, quirks, choices and bents. Many say one of my gifts is allowing people to be fully themselves in my presence without an expectation to perform, or hide parts of themselves - they let down. I hope I truly do that for others.

It's fascinating we can share sameness in the large pool of  human beings but have so many individual variances. What an absolutely beautiful fully stocked crayon box of even idiosyncrasies to color the world. Ever look at clothes in a store and say to yourself over much of it, "who would buy that!". The answer is someone or the store wouldn't stock even what you find ugly. Amazing:) 


To my butterfly loving friend Dorothy
The trick, the zen place to get to is to be more than tolerant of those differences. We need to celebrate and affirm each difference as a piece in the beautiful mural of humanity. We are a quilt garden, a 7.8 billion piece puzzle, a divine 8th wonder of the world.

During this pandemic of 2020 the only puzzle I could find in the store was something outside of my liking - totally not into butterflies and bright colors. There was obviously a run on puzzles in my town, but my mind needed a distraction despite the ugliness of the puzzle left on the shelf! When I got to the last couple pieces of that gaudy puzzle, it was missing the corner piece. Though there were hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of other pieces all in place, it felt incomplete without that one piece.

I am my own piece, different than yours.
 Without me, without you, there would be a hole somewhere in the puzzle.

6.04.2020

BLACK WAS CREATED BY GOD, and so were the principals of love, kindness and grace

I live in a woods teeming with creatures of all kinds; turkeys, fox, deer, bunnies, gray squirrels, skink lizards, wood roaches, every kind of bird I know and some I don't, snakes, eagles, coyotes, big turtles, Blue Heron, all sorts of insects including deer flies, and the most dreaded of all - the horse fly.  Teeming is an accurate word and so is plague - think biblical proportions if you can! 

The horse flies chase and bite in swarms due to the heavy foliage and nearby water. On the Eastern shore horse flies have a huge presence and long season of bullying from the end of July through September. They drive people indoors, relentlessly and viciously chase both people and cars, and loiter their biting presence all over my porch. I hate them. Greatly. They almost make me forget the beauty that is still present when they invade. What an odd dichotomy.

History shows us that same picture over and over. The darkness always seeks to destroy the beauty, the light, the good - to extinguish pure love. It's been its mode of operation since the Garden of Eden. It's not new at all in the scenery of humanity. It is none-the-less soul disappointing. Its wake is like a tornado touch down leaving ugly disfigurement all around. It feels unchangeable, insurmountable and despairing to all. Yet here we are again with another reprehensible injustice, actually several all rolled up into one.

This I do know, every person is created by God. That literally means, EVERY BLACK SKINNED PERSON! [I have always gotten lost in how we say white or black or brown when it is just a piece of who anyone is - a color of skin! No one should be defined solely by a color. It should be a descriptive adjective without emotional connotation, negative reaction, judgement or unequal treatment! Our country should be far past this short of treatment of black people! I am grieved over the continuing reality around me that shows some are not! We also then, in our support of the injustice, get miffed off criticizing words from people who support equality and black people because they didn't say it exactly right or support the right phraseology! Let's take that down a notch as well. I would surmise that some of those that say All Lives Matter do NOT mean it to avert the spotlight from the struggle of black people presently, but to say IT MOST DEFINITELY IS BLACK PEOPLE THAT MATTER and their mistreatment shows a HUGE CULTURAL PROBLEM. We fail to even give grace when support is not given as we think it should be given.If their lack of eloquence pisses you off either keep your energy focused on the bigger problem at large or just be kinder in general, please!] 

God is called Creator for a reason.  He formed us individually. Like a Picasso painting, we are His masterpiece both individually and collectively. God knew us BEFORE we were born. He called each of us by name and holds our tears in a bowl. He knows the number of hairs on each of our heads and dwells all around us. That is a vivid picture of God's sacred, intimate, respectful and deep love for for each of us - for black people. God's purposeful, creative creation of me shows how He places value, worth and importance on me, on you, on George Floyd and like it or not, those four police officers. We are not better than the least of us nor are we worse than the best of us.   

There is dignity and sanctity to every life. Usurping care and value of others, the person before us that God also created, named, called by name and holds their tears, is an offense against the Creator of us all. I wondered out loud this week how much God's heart was breaking by humanity's care of others' bodies, belongings, livelihoods, and spirits - the horror of the dismantling of empathy and respect for all things living. My heart felt that way too - heavy.

Like you, I cannot grasp or process this continued abhorration of grace, kindness and basic civility. It's too big to make a concise statement, a synopsis, to wrap it up neatly or to legislate it away. Even with a band-aid the wound is too big to be covered presently. Empathy moves us to inclusion which stems from love.  Love is respect, dignity, equality, value and care. 

Evil takes all avenues at its disposal to divide, destroy, grow and infiltrate. It uses all vehicles that can kill love, empathy, ethics, equality, and morality. Evil has a knack of taking simple things and making them complicated. It all feels huge, unstoppable at times and makes me very sangry (combo of deep sadness and anger). This I know, life was created by God.  And LIVES matter greatly.  Period.  

In my anger, outrage and great sadness over George Floyd's murder, I also need to be reminded that evil can be redeemed - it's destruction can be repurposed.That is where grace enters most elegantly, at the point of worse to make it right. 

5.13.2020

Diane Sawyer, Emily Dickinson and St. Francis of Assisi


Little kids are beautifully lacking the misnomer know of the constraints of time, societal norms, a narrow view of themselves and small thinking. I absolutely love that about little kids!! I am envious of their minds, open creativity and wild exploration of all things. When I ask my granddaughter (age 4) what she wants to do when she grows up, I get a myriad of responses; veterinarian, explorer, worker, inventor - just to name a few.  She also tells me she wants to be married and be a mom.

When the grown up Nancy was a kid there was only two things I ever thought about wanting to be. I never dreamed of a wedding or kids as a small child - only when I fell deeply in love as a teenager. Even then, it wasn't a wedding or a house but being with that person my soul connected to. All I wanted to do was be a newscaster (yes, sit at a  TV news desk and only see my top half-there's a joke there but I'll leave it be) or a writer.  It makes perfect sense through my adult lens looking back - I wanted to know things and I loved thoughts and words. Both are restless things though which match the restlessness of spirit I continue to have. I'm growing to understand that's just who I am, to embrace it and quit trying to quell something that is unrelenting. 


At age 30 I had a deep desire to go to seminary - a hunger to study philosophy, psychology and theology. I wanted to know, to get inner knowledge, to connect the pieces, to set free the crap that was meaningless in my soul. Philosophy and stoicism hold great wide open fields of discovery for me. But, life took a different turn. 

Now at age 53, I add to my list of things to be - a cook at a monastery. The quiet simple expression of cooking, creating, serving/ministering to others, embracing minimalism in an environment that fosters being emptied of the nonsensical-ness of our culture seems intriguingly enticing to me! But, since I am neither Catholic nor a monk, that's probably not in the cards although I do so love the color brown.

I tell my granddaughter she can be more than one thing at a time, and that over the course of her whole life she is free to change. Her mom, my daughter, wanted to be a cardiologist and a sign language teacher as a kid.  She did neither of those things but grew to know her bent and went the way of the creative fields. We all evolve - just like all things around us.


My favorite people are those who have personal renaissances later in life - they awaken to who they are over the course of their lifetime and do not adhere to dogma! One of the avenues to eternal youthfulness is constantly learning who we are and moving toward a more richer version of ourselves. My favorite old people are people who, as they are living each stage, have cultivated their kid spirit to continually be open minded, wide spirited and big visioned. I want to be like that when I am fully grown:)


All sorts of people came into their stride when they were older. In fact, many became the best version of themselves past the mid point of life. Peter Thorate invented the thesaurus at age 72 (I love the thesaurus). Momofuku Ando invented Ramen Cup Noodles at age 60 (college student cheer goes here). Nelson Mandella was elected President of South Africa at 75. Christopher Plummer won his first Oscar at 82. Julia Child started her cooking show on PBS at age 51. Laura Ingalls Wilder didn't publish her first book until age 65 (hope for me). Ed Whitlock, at 69, became the 1st regular marathoner to run a marathon (26.2 miles - his per mile time was just over 6 and 1/2 minutes per mile) in under 3 hours.



I can start and become anything at anytime. I am the only one to hold me back.

5.11.2020

A Backward Movement Sort Of Day

dedicated to my sisters


I listened to my sister lament through a few tears her frustration about having a day that feels like backward movement. How many times, I thought to myself, had I too found myself in a day or middle of the night gripping trepidations or lily pad chaotic thoughts when I had been on the conquering side of them for a spell. How many times had I, to that same sister, cried on her shoulder when I found myself in a backward movement day. 


A good pandemic will do that to us all, like it or not. There is a psychological response to loss of forward movement. Really anything that is unknown or seemingly out of our control will do that - disease diagnosis, death of a loved one, loss of a job, the rebellion or waywardness of destructive behavior in our kids.  None of us like to not see past the next curve and feel stalled.  Nor do we like it when what we want to change seems not to! 

As I talked to my sister on my walk, I observed nature. It was morphing daily to the next bit of its life cycle. I just couldn't always visibly see the movement, only the result eventually. But it WAS moving. I ask my 4 year old granddaughter some mornings if she grew like a stalk of corn overnight. She replies that she doesn't know she was sleeping. I tell her that the field of corn by Mammer and Pappy's house literally grows right before our eyes, but we just can't see it growing and moving.  She laughs and then replies, "Nana, I'm not corn!". 

It's hard to undo our humanness sometimes. We are culturally patterned to a way of life, a path of thinking based on what we believe and have experienced. That kind of goes out the window faced with the enormousness of a pandemic or whatever the myriad of not chosen circumstances of shitty unknowns we might find ourselves mired in. Sometimes life takes us to a whisper, to a place of unrelenting non-movement of the situation. It's there we can find our shout, our pulse and our life force.

"God, is this the week of movement?", I said in my head like I always seemed to say on Mondays after 10 months of seemingly little movement. I said it to reaffirm my thoughts to beliefs that God IS moving, to remind myself corn grows though I cannot visibly see the movement of its growth. There is a miracle in movement. Movement comes in many forms though; in discovery, introspection, and while in recovery.  All those things produce growth though I can't always see the movement right away. How many things do I not see but know they are still there working! I cannot see air and oxygen, but they are still moving and working all around me.  I do not see gravity, but it is still in motion.


I tried to reassure my sister, as she does for me so very often, that my humanity likes to t-bone my spirituality from time to time in varying degrees. We crave movement, but get angry with ourselves if we have a day of worry or despair - a backward movement day I like to call it.  Honestly, I think it's all part of the bigger collective thing of movement forward.  Corn does need rain.


5.10.2020

And She Called Me Mommala

I started far too young in the marriage and children categories.  I walked the church aisle the first time at age eighteen and three-quarters. The picture of me on my dad's arm clearly shows my dad's face etched with internal trepidation of marrying off his youngest daughter at such a young age.  Now standing in my fifties, I sigh a bit over my choices made at far too young an age. I could not, at that age, fully grasp the enormous consequences of my decision that were to come.

I gave birth to my only child at a mere 2 weeks short of age 21. Motherhood would prove to be THE wildest, deepest love I would ever know and, Hannah was her name.    

Motherhood does not make me special. It doesn't mean I know more than others [actually it accentuates that I pretty much know nothing] or that you cannot be whole without children. Both of those are plainly and hugely false.  Mothers are mothers from all different entry points. Being a mother is simply choosing to love a child no matter the avenue of entry into your life. 

Mom love is a whole different breed of fierce, untamed love. It is a moving target kind of love as both child and parent are on their own linear growth lines. There is no manual to being a parent, or for that matter, to just being human. There are not enough annals to hold the bigness of this a-river-runs through it kind of love. It creates deep chiseled rivers that leave an empty cavern when a parent loses a child or a child loses a parent in death - inconceivably, magnitude-ally, uncontainable deep consuming grief. That is the result of love in its richest form.  

Loving a child is a weird combination of a deep corner post hole of cement and sand being pulled from underneath your feet at the very edge of the ocean.  It's this solid, never gonna stop, fierce as a lion love. Yet, a mother is loving a rapidly moving target, a transforming person - watching a butterfly emerge from a cocoon. My almost 5 year old granddaughter tells me all the time that she can't stop turning five, though her dad wants her to stay 4.  She is right. A mother's love is not meant to be contained but to be carried to our kids as they grow and eventually, go the way of their own lives.   

My daughter has made me better than I would have been without being HER mom.  All kids have the power to do that - to grow and change us.  I have loved all her phases, fades and paths to growth. She is a constant masterpiece of art being made, both seen and unseen. Being her mom far surpasses any successes, victories, defeats, failures and sorrows I've experienced. In our children we see both the best of ourselves and all our frailties converging. We carry the hope they will do better than we did with knowing themselves and living out their design.
//

I opened up the mail today which held yet again another Amazon package - what had I ordered this time!  A book tumbled out, The Road Back to You, An Enneagram Journey To Self-Discovery with a gift note, "Happy Mother's Day, Mom!  I'm not sure if you'll be here in Indiana for Mother's Day or not so I figured I'd send your gift now.  Love you so much!  You're my favorite mom:)"    

My daughter is very different than me in many regards and yet, eerily similar in a few.  She's the Yin to my Yang. She tells me she's an Enneagram 7 and I am an 8. She knows I think big, deep thoughts, feel too much, and that I absorb nature and the energy and emotions around me. Her gift was reflective of her know of me and made me feel loved.

The greatest joy I have is watching her journey as a woman, wife, mother, and creative entrepreneur as she progresses on her own linear line of life. I have been blessed, despite myself and my youthful choices, to have been given the gift of being Hannah's mom.

4.27.2020

Oprah Laughs Like My Aunt Lois

Silence.  That's where I've been residing.  Not that I didn't want to write or hadn't missed it.  There was just an empty hush to be quiet, to not expound, pontificate or even create.  I didn't fight it really.  Other things just seemed to take precedence.  

Slipping into silence came really without warning.  It too left about the same way it came - like a switch. 

Words came back and my mind screen fired up. It rebooted I guess. The first thing I remember thinking again creatively and having the burning compulsion to write down was, "Oprah laughs just like my Aunt Lois!".  What an odd thought to bring me back from my writing coma.  I stopped on my walk while listening to Oprah's podcast, "Super Soul Conversations", to type that phrase into my phone.  It was followed by my own incredulous laugh at what marked my inaugural re-entry of writing thoughts on paper.

Just like that I was back inside myself once again. The silence scattered like fog exposed to sun. Words came alive in my head without warning, conjure or knowing exactly how they magically reappeared. My creative soul returned.

I had forgotten the sweet and magical feeling of words to paper that resurrect from a spark of a thought, a smell, a feeling, a memory, an internal battle being waged, or sometimes, from thin air.  Mostly though, I had forgotten the call deep in my soul that was there from my earliest memories.  That call we all carry to be who we were designed and created to be - the space that we flourish in.  Doing that thing is like oxygen to our spirit. It's like wind atop a mountain.  And, not doing it, feels like changing a tire in the rain, touching a baby chick with latex gloves on. It leaves us parched, disconnected and clunky.

I had no desire to feel parched, disconnected or clunky.  It didn't matter if I made the New York Times bestseller list, or if Oprah discovered my written treasures.  I just needed to be the person in the space I was designed to be.  Writing was that space.  What comes out is just a propelling need to empty on paper the dark places with some irreverence, and a hope that calls others to feel loved and free.  That last part though was also part of my calling, my imprint to bring to the world.  I needed to write to connect people to who they are, to their humanity, to find freedom, to give words their own hidden thoughts, and to see the light that is bigger than themselves.

After that moment, the thoughts came more and more.  My walks and runs were riddled with explosive thoughts, stops to write them down, joy they were returning, and perplexity about how to corral them into something readable and tangible.  Did I want buck shot writing -  so much to say about so many things but no real concentration on any one thing?  I felt like I was about to explode with all the trains of thoughts and where they could take me on paper.  

I had already done the exercise of writing every day for about 5 years, practicing a skill while getting out random thoughts and subjects.  Some writings were better than others.  A few were brilliant and poignant.  And more times than not, they were stagnant. Which I suppose mirrored how life is as well!

My pseudo monk non-writing silence jag had been filled with a lot of journey into the deep parts of me.  If writers write from a pure sense of needing to get the thing out, whether read by others or not, then what did I need to start with getting out?  What had I learned in my monkish hiatus? What did I need to say that resonates with the sometimes inarticulate parts in all of us?

When I was a kid, my only point of reference for what occurred in my head - in my thinking, was myself.  That is a good marker, and ultimately the one we need to be ok with it - ourselves and our own path.  But, it creates a tilted view of how others operate and assumes that everyone has the same experience in their head that you're having. I've since learned, after asking my two older sisters if that was how it was for them, thinking excessively, that it was not.  

Research experts estimate that the mind thinks between 60,000-80,000 thoughts a day. That’s an average of 2,500-3,300 thoughts per hour.  That just sounds exhausting.  Those stats show how hard it is to "turn off" our minds as well, a practice I was presently working on.  Now those 60,000-80,000 thoughts a day aren't necessarily Nobel Peace or Pulitzer Prize winning thoughts, but minutia like; isn't that cool my light on my desk turns on with almost no hand pressure, I don't like that color, listen to the birds, I gotta get the dry cleaning, slow driver, Oprah laughs like my Aunt Lois!  They happen rapid fire, both consciously and unconsciously.

My guess is I exceed that average.  Which to create an average someone has to exceed the average to create the average to begin with. 

And honestly, Oprah really does laugh like my Aunt Lois. 


4.24.2020

A Step Back From Chaos

Inside me resides a handful of chronic health conditions, some of which date back to childhood. There is a bigness, scariness and ever present-ness to unwelcome things that take up residence in your life and don't leave. There’s a balance, a tight rope walk of a life like that. The responsibility I hold in managing those conditions daily can feel daunting. Realizing I’m not in control of anything, while fostering I’m more than these conditions, can be tricky at times. I have found myself there over the years as I’ve not always been on the winning side of the mental and emotional part of chronic health issues. 

The current COVID 19 pandemic has reached a point where we are consumed by it. Indeed we all have a responsibility to be wise, informed, empathetic of others pain, mindful of its spread, and offensive in our fight against it. There is though, a saturation tipping point we have reached with thoughts, life, conversations and news. Disruptions, grief and fear flood our worlds holding us hostage, mentally and emotionally paralyzed and swirling with negativity inside and out. 

It is definitely negative. None of us would ever think a pandemic virus is a positive. Knowing that, negative energy can sustain and grow a life of tentacles all on its own. You are more than this horrific virus, we are more than it, your life and family are more than it. There is a grave somberness in the death, pain and havoc it has brought to people, communities, states, countries, and ultimately the entire world. Life indeed has been draped in a cloak of heaviness, defeat, sorrow, despair, blame and fear for the future.  There is though something that though unseen, lies parallel.

Opposites have co-existed in our world since creation; light and darkness, good and evil, birth and death, sorrow and joy, pain and pleasure. It is possible to have two distinct lines in our lives; chaos and peace, despair and hope, fear and hope, loss and growth, scarcity and abundance. We are called and designed to keep living, seeking the opposite of those negatives. They need no fertilizer as they as spread and grow exponentially unless we choose to halt them and contrast them against their opposite.  

Living cannot be done perpetually in a state of panic, fear, and never ending grief. In never abating chronic illness one has to eventually forge a new way, to dig deeper to a purposeful reinvention of yourself on a solid new base of faith, hope and joy. Beautiful gems lie on that cathartic path to who we are really ordained to be.  

We don’t control much in life, though we choose to live through a false belief that we do. We can though be the kingpin, the czar of our own thoughts, beliefs and emotions. That's all we hold sway over. When we look to someone, something beyond what we can control, we take back and hold captive beliefs and thoughts that do not serve to create a flourish in our souls and spirits.  

God, in His great love for us in our creation, knew our heart tendency to micro focus on the big, the scary, the uncontrollable.  He made a decree that He is I Am.  It is not COVID 19, chronic illness, the loss of a job, failed relationships.  God is bigger than all things seen and unseen, all things in our control or out of it. He is the positive to our negative charge. 

All of creation is a crazy swirl of chaos and order.  Our human life mirrors that at times. There is something special to be found in living just one day at a time without leaving its boundaries to make up the fearful future or to be in sorrow for the past.  For those that find themselves here with me, think of what you know to be good, true and excellent.  Ponder them daily and how much Jesus loves every piece of who you are.  And, if you don't know those things, the God who made you exactly you wants to be in your world, heart and mind.