pieces

As I sat around the table, the people around me held out pieces of me. Pieces I had not seen in a while. And it felt so good.

Those pieces are always with me, living inside of me. Sometimes I just forget about them. I live disconnected from them.

My life has moved on from when we were together, these friends and I. Marriage, babies, therapy, life. And it’s good. Moving forward, growth, change. All of those things are good.

And at the same time, sometimes I can forget that the college student me is still in there too. Along with the mom me and the wife me and the almost 40 year old me (ugh, really?).

But I am fortunate enough to still have friends from way back when. We were all on staff at camp together. And camp bonds people in a mysterious way. I have yet to experience it elsewhere. It could be the dirt, the camp food, or any number of the only-appropriate-at-camp conversations surrounding bodily functions.

I think it is all those things plus a whole lot more.

There is a sacredness about it, about the fact that we hold pieces of one another’s history. These people know a side of me that my friends today have only caught glimpses of, if that.

For a while, a few years ago, I felt in between. My friends where I live didn’t know my history but my friends from my past didn’t know the richness of my present. And I had this weird, awkward urge to prove myself to all of them.

But something must have settled in me. Made peace with the fact that the only one who knows me my whole life is me. I am the only one who holds all the pieces.

And occasionally that can feel like too much to hold. Sometimes I forget about the pieces that aren’t necessary right now. But they are still in there. They are who I was which is a part of who I am.

And it was whole-making, to have these people who are dear to me stir some of those piece to the foreground. To the surface.

They had not forgotten those pieces. They loved them. They kept them safe. They saw beauty in them. They remembered them. And being together reminded me of them too.

And it was…..settling, calming, restoring…..for me to be reminded that all of those me’s are really just parts of the same whole.

concussion

All of us together laughed with that deep, hearty, from-the-gut kind of laugh. I am pretty sure my youngest didn’t know what he was laughing at and my laughter might have been extra hard due to exhaustion. But does it matter?

Laughter is good for the soul.

Let me just start by saying that after reading this some of you may think that I have terrible manners and that I am raising savages. Let me also disclaim that when living with all males I may get desensitized to a certain amount of discussion surrounding bodily functions.

Apologies in advance.

Raising three boys I have found that there are certain conveniences to the male anatomy. Particularly in the area of relieving oneself.

In the potty training process, my kids would often announce, “I HAVE TO PEE!!!” Because when a child is just learning, peeing is a desperate and immediate need.

As a parent, a certain level of panic would proceed to wash through my body accompanied by a horrifying question. Will we make it in time?

Back in the day when we were out and about in a parking lot or such where who knows where the nearest bathroom is and the need to pee was made known, I would scan for the nearest bush in hope of avoiding the dreaded accident. Advantage: boys.

And when we would be playing outside, in the comfort and safety of our own backyard and the trumpets would sound with the grand proclamation, my response was often, “Go in the calla lily.” Made life easier and less panic ridden for all of us.

Which worked very well for me until we were at someone’s backyard birthday party and my boys both relieved themselves in the nearest calla lily.

I turned fifty shades of red. I am going to need to make some clarifications about when it’s okay to pee outside. 

Fast forward to present day.

After a night out, the boys and I head to the car to go home. Earlier in the day my youngest son had clunked his head at preschool (ironically after they had a rousing discussion about concussions).

As we approach the car, my oldest son asks if he can pee in the bushes with a tone that said I can hold it if I need to but it would be really nice if you would just let me take care of this here.

No one was around. Clarification must have sunk in, good to know. I concede.

When he gets back in the car he says, “I have a confession.” Oh dear.

I didn’t wash my hands.”

I died. I love good wit. Even infused with boy humor.

Then, as we are all laughing away, my four-year-old chimes in. “I have a concussion!” And we barely hear him confess his lack of hand washing because we were laughing so hard at his mimicked version of his brother.

This – moments like this – are what I love about family.

her vs me

Why do I do this to myself? This is one of the more prickly things I do to myself.

I am pitting her against me (in my head of course) and telling myself all the reasons why I am the loser. Why she is better, prettier, more together, more successful…..you get the idea.

Then there is the subsequent battle about why she is really terrible after all. Because I might just feel a tinge better about the fact that I am losing this battle in my brain if the truth turns out to be that she is terrible.

Then I tell myself all the reasons why her happiness and success in life came so easily. Anyone could do what she has done if they had as much money as her. If they had as much beauty as she does. If they had as much influence as she has been given.

And it all swirls together up there and becomes a disgusting mess. And I kind of want to throw up all over myself.

At about that moment, a light dawns in. I don’t know where it came from. I’m just thankful.

Wait. Stop. Think.

Do you really want her life so badly? So what if she has 20 million gazillion readers who email and facebook and tweet all of her great writing to all of their 100 million gazillion friends.

If you had her life, you wouldn’t have yours.

So instead of thinking about how valuable her life is, I start to think about the value in mine. My kids. My husband. My friends. My writing. My journey.

And I realize I really like my life. Comparing myself to someone else is maybe not the best thing for me. Because I have not been given her life. I have been given mine.

love less

Did she really just say what I think she said? I know she meant a different sentiment than what came out. She feels protective. She doesn’t want to see me get hurt. That was what she was trying to communicate.

But the message that came through was more like, “I wish you wouldn’t love so much.”

Honestly, I understand the instinct.

I am a tenderhearted person. I have struggled with this and against this for much of my life. But thankfully I can say I have never been able to shake it.

I grew up thinking there was something wrong with me, that I was too sensitive. I had too many emotions. I was exhausting to those around me.

Sometimes I have wondered if this quality is really just foolishness. Naivety that has never grown up. A Pollyanna everyone puts up with and then laughs at and makes fun of when I am out of earshot.

So my friend wants me to do what I have been tempted to do many times. Pull back. Build up some walls of protection. Wise up and realize people hurt one another. The world is a dangerous place to live.

And there is nothing wrong with using discernment. But I don’t think I serve myself or anyone else well by closing up. Because in my opinion, what the world does NOT need is more closed, hardened people.

But the innate reflex to protect oneself is there nonetheless. And my friend wants to protect me, too. And I understand that.

Because love is foolish and free. In any form.

And watching me love foolishly and freely, and then get hurt because other people are imperfect human beings (it has been known to happen) can make others uncomfortable, make them squirm. “Protect yourself,” they might like to tell me. “It’s a harsh world out there.”

And they would be right. The world can be an incredibly harsh environment. I would be wise to toughen up a bit. But I would also be less alive. Less connected to myself and others. I would be controlled and conformed and twisted to hardness. And I would lose who I am. My heart and my soul.

(You guys know I have been tying up loose ends from last year. Posts that got started and maybe even finished but never posted. This one is from last summer after a visit from an out of town friend. Ironically, last night I went to a Brene Brown workshop called Hustle for Worthiness at Potentia Therapy that completely affirms this post. Timely to wrap up this loose end now.)

out of africa

Am I making a fool of myself? The question frequently haunts me when I am writing or talking with people.

But my belief in the beautiful, mysterious good that happens when people are vulnerable with one another always wins over my need to save face.

So I jumped off the cliff and dove headlong into the conversation.

Even still, this felt riskier than usual. I wasn’t just sharing my feelings or my experiences. In fact, I was completely void of experience in this area. And they were drenched in it.

The girls I was talking to were from Malawi, Africa. They were here on an internship with an organization I am a part of.

Confession time. I long to go to Africa someday. Badly. In a way that tells me I will go to Africa. But I hardly ever talk about it. I don’t know the how or the when but my gut tells me it will come about in just the right way, at just the right time.

Can they tell how much I want to know them? Can they see how much I long to go to the place where they are from? Can they sense my hope to get just a sliver, a crumb of Africa inside of me through them?

All these questions raced through my head as I chatted with the young women.

I think Africa has something to offer the world. I don’t know what it is exactly, but it is something mysterious and invaluable. And I spilled to these girls what I have believed for a long time but until then had never told a soul.

I believe there is a spirit in Africa. A facet of the Spirit of God uniquely and abundantly thriving in Africa. The spirit of Africa. And I think this spirit gets inside the people who go there. And it changes them. I’ve seen it. 

The girls ask me how this spirit makes people different. I can tell they know what I am talking about but they want to hear me say it. Suddenly I was aware of the throbbing in my chest and the heat of blood in my cheeks.

What if I am getting this all wrong? What if I offend them? This is their homeland I am talking about.

But slowly I find the words. I think this spirit helps people see what is important in life. I think this spirit of Africa frees people. It frees them into life. “Does that make sense?” I ask them. I think I might be speaking gibberish.

Yes. I can feel their hearts affirm with their words. They see it too. I am not crazy. Now I have spoken it and I have seen them agree with it. And now the ache inside of me has grown bigger and stronger and even more painful than before.

gone tomorrow, hair today

I am having an out of body experience. I walk by the shop and a reflection in the window catches my breath.

Who is that girl? The girl with the edgy haircut. She couldn’t possibly be me! I don’t have the guts to get a cut like that. I am not that kind of girl.

I am a color inside the lines kind of girl. A rule follower. A let’s-not-make-waves kind of girl.

The kind of girl who gets that kind of haircut is a girl who is confident. She is comfortable with herself. She gives herself permission to risk.

My sister does it. My friend Linsay does it. My friend Amy who I went to high school with can totally pull it off.

But not me.

If I had that haircut I would feel horridly self-conscious. It would show all over my body. That’s why I don’t get haircuts like that. I stay safe. Attempting to stay current without going too far.

Feeling that uncomfortable all day would not be worth it to me. Especially if it lasted as long as until my hair grows out.

But in another instant, I realize that girl is me. And I like my hair. And it doesn’t even feel gutsy to have it like this. I just like it.

So who climbed into my body when I wasn’t looking?

Some people might not think this cut is all that out there. I understand. It’s not a Mohawk, much to my husband’s relief.

But my hairdresser knows I don’t do short. I may think there are so many cute things you can do with short cuts and I may be a fan of almost all of them. But get too short and I start to panic.

When I was growing up, my hair was short. Like very short. And I got a lot of comments about being “such a cute little boy”. And I might have been scarred for life. Just a little bit.

But clearly I have healed. I didn’t even freak out when I washed my hair the next morning and found out it was all gone.

I must be getting more comfortable with myself. I must not be taking life so seriously. I must be more at ease around risk. Who knew?

And that’s how it happens. Growth and change happens so slowly and seems so small that sometimes we question whether or not it is there. But then something that might have been a big deal in the past…..isn’t. And sometimes, when something is no big deal, that’s a big deal.

The Liebster….continued

leibster-blog-award

As per Liebster…11 Random Things About Me

1. My two oldest boys are born on the same day three years apart. My husband says he should have bought a lottery ticket that day.

2. I have at least two books in me to write.

3. My third child was a bit of a surprise.

4. I’m going to get a bunny rabbit soon. Been dreaming and researching for months.

5. I believe everyone on the planet could benefit greatly from a form of therapy called EMDR (look it up….seriously). I know I have.

6. I used to hate the color pink. Then I had all boys.

7. I believe big over-arching core values are expressed in small, everyday choices.

8. I wish I had a little more of an achiever in me.

9. I don’t like soda or coffee or alcohol. Or juice. Basically I’m a water girl. Not because I have some moral high horse to stand on, I just don’t like them. And I think that makes me kinda boring, but my friends seem to like me anyway.

10. My children currently cross the spectrum of preschool, elementary school, and middle school. Boo-rah!

11. I used to think I had parenting all figured out. Then I became one. For that matter I used to think I had life all figured out. Then I got one.

Questions posed for me on hiddinsight….and my answers

1. What are you getting for your spouse/significant other for Christmas?
Totally not exciting, the years have been lean lately…..khaki’s and a reversible belt.

2. Where is the kinkiest place you have ever had sex?
**blush**

3. What is your biggest regret?
Hmmm, don’t know that I have one. All my choices have lead me to where I am now. And some have provided rich life learning I apparently had to acquire through experiential learning.

4. What is something that you have done to keep the love alive in your marriage?
Work through my own issues (with the help of a therapist). The more whole I am the more capable I am of loving my husband.

5. What is your “fettish”?
Accessories (although not sure if that is what you mean by “fettish” 😉 )

6. Where is your favorite place to shop?
I am actually not a shopper (gasp!). It will be the thrift store once I learn the in’s and out’s of thrift store shopping.

7. What is the difference between living and existing for you?
Great question!!! Freedom to desire (and wisdom to find the desire underneath the desire if you get what I mean).

8. What would you do differently if you knew nobody would judge you?
People are judging me? Danggit.

9. When you are 80 years old, what will matter to you the most?
Same thing that matters the most to me now….people.

10. What makes you smile?
Snuggle time!

11. If not now, when?
Ever since my third son came on the scene unannounced I have learned to roll with what life brings because it will likely be a whole lot better than what I had originally planned.