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.


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.


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.