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.

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my minivan and me

Is this as good as I get?

As a vibrant, young bride-to-be, this question unexpectedly nagged my psyche. I had always dreamed of looking my “best ever” on my wedding day. But as the day drew near, I began to think about the days after I was a blushing bride.

Would it be all downhill from there?

Fortunately, that question disappeared as I walked around in my white dress next to the man I love, surrounded by all the people we cherish, brilliant colors bursting from the flowers and delighting my eyes wherever they looked.

And then yesterday when I was vacuuming out my minivan, the answer came to me.

We call her our “silver bullet”, and I will never forget the day my husband came home with her. His chest swelled with pride as though he had just hunted us down the biggest, fattest pig ever that was going to keep us fed for years to come.

I was so grateful. She sparkled with her shiny paint and fancy sliding doors. She was a dream come true. And she has proved particularly helpful considering more of her seats are filled now than we originally aniticipated!

I have to confess; she’s a mom car. She gets beaten up a bit. And neglected. All for the greater good, but still. The past few weeks (okay, maybe months) I have noticed she needs a vacuum taken to her insides as the stray animal crackers, cheese-it crumbs, and general grime have been accumulating to epic proportions.

But I kept putting it off thinking, “What’s a few crumbs mixed in with all the stains?” Because vacuuming will only get her so clean. She’s got a plethora of permanent scars now. (Note the picture of the floor mat as only one example.)

And as I finally took the time to clean her up I smiled to myself. Those stains have come from holding a lot of life in her seats. My van may not sparkle like she did the day we got her, but she has served us faithfully and valiantly. And I find her even more beautiful now than I did then.

She and I may have more in common than I want to admit. Perhaps I was a blushing bride on our wedding day, but the truth is I have sustained some damage over the years as well.

Stretch marks. Bulging veins. Hands that have aged from endless washings after diaper changes, cleaning toilets, and cooking countless dinners. And now the wrinkles are setting in. Oh the wrinkles.

I have to admit, I am not too thrilled about all of it. But I’m not ashamed of it either.

Raising a family with the man that I love is has required more from me than I ever thought it would. And it is worth every ounce, every “stain” I acquired along the way.

Funny how a definition of beauty can change over time.

naked

Today is not this day. Today I have my makeup on, a bright purple ruffle-y scarf around my neck with a cute pink necklace peeking out underneath, copious amounts of bracelets clanging around my wrist, a fun new pair of knee-highs, and of course the boots I feel so sassy in. And it’s fun.

Most of the time I like putting my best foot forward in the day even if that day involves dropping off and picking up children, doing dishes, folding laundry, and cooking dinner. Because although I graduated from UC Santa Cruz, fashion and makeup are fun for me.

But not yesterday. I didn’t have a best foot to put forward yesterday. All I had was a foot. And I didn’t feel like pretending or working my way out of it either. So although I showered, I left the makeup off.

The freckles that have taken over my face in a way that by this time in my life is probably called aging showed in all their glory.

My eyelashes remained invisible.

The wrinkles that have started to emerge were not minimized by foundation.

And my nose that likes to turn red was one that even Rudolf would have been proud of.

I have these days from time to time. I think everyone does. Days when the fun of getting dressed up isn’t fun. Days when sadness seems to loom over my head and sorting it out to get better and move through it feels overwhelming. Days when the wounds of life catch up and I just need to take a moment and let it be so.

And on days like that I leave the makeup in the medicine cabinet and let the people in my world see that I do not have it all together, that I am not indestructible, that I am not super-human. Because I think the people in my world need to know all of that. Including me.

We often think everyone else has life all-together, knows what they are doing, never has bad days.

We tend to feel alone in our struggles. In our humanity.

And it’s just not true.

And that is why I left my makeup off and took this picture and wrote this post. I needed the honesty of someone standing naked in the middle of the rush hour of life shouting, “I can’t do it all!” Even if it was me. Maybe especially if it was me.