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.

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10.11.12

I could cry. I could sit down as I write and weep with gratitude.

My marriage is far from idyllic. My husband and I are two flawed people. Each of us has a ton of issues on our own that we have acquired through the course of our lives. And fourteen years ago today we decided to bring our brokenness together. For life.

Sometimes I wonder if there is a link between being in love and being insane.

He married a cheerleader. I only wore the uniform for a year in jr. high and a year in high school, but it’s more who I am than what I wear. I encourage. I cheer.

But something happened after we got married. All of the sudden, my husband became an extension of me. I think it’s pretty common. And while I cheered everyone else on, I picked myself apart. I focused on my imperfections and criticized. So I started to do that to him, too.

I didn’t mean to. I was just working out my issues. And unfortunately he paid the price. I don’t think he could have put into words what was happening, but I know he (and our marriage) felt the effects.

But he was patient with me. He hung in there with me. He gave me time. He gave me space. He gave me love. It didn’t always look pretty, but that was in fact what happened. He stayed with me.

And a few years ago, when I really broke down, there wasn’t much he could do to help me. But he gave me understanding and compassion. He gave me time and resources and support to get myself the help I needed.

And I am so humbled to have chosen him fourteen years ago when I was insane with being in love.

Don’t get me wrong; he’s had his own demons to fight along the way, too. No one is perfect. Happily ever after doesn’t exist.

But to have been given the gift of commitment is immense. A gift of an imperfect marriage that has space and room and freedom for each of us to grow and change. Together.

I still remember my wedding day. It could not have been better. I stood there in my beautiful white dress next to my handsome knight in shining armor with people saying, “Congratulations!” And I also remember saying, “Today is the easy part. Congratulate us 50 years from now. Then we will have done something special.”

Fourteen is a far cry from fifty, but we are making our way there. We are growing. We are changing. We are learning how to be a team. We are doing the impossible job of raising a family together.

And I can sit down and weep. Because the hard and the pain and the joy and the imperfect come together with love and commitment to make something so incredibly beautiful that I stand back and shed tear after tear after tear of gratitude for this man and all he has given me.

what’s worth got to do with it?

I am a little late to the party. Brene Brown’s videos have been creating quite a buzz, but I only recently watched her most well known one, The Power of Vulnerability. Really phenomenal stuff. I am a fan.

I laugh at her humor and marvel at her succinct articulation of things I have intuitively believed but still questioned all my life. And I feel completely validated by the fact that all of what she says is backed by research.

There is only one thing that I have trouble with. It’s not the validity of the research or the conclusions she makes based on them. It is what those things confirm to me about how the world views love. And I simply wish we saw things differently.

In The Power of Vulnerability, Brene talks about people she calls “whole-hearted”. Basically these are people who live full and satisfying lives with deep, connected relationships. She says that what sets this group apart is a belief that they are worthy of love. Those not in this group, those living disconnected and unfulfilled in their relationships, seem to have a belief that they are not worthy of love.

(There’s more to it than that, but if you are not going to watch the video linked to the blue words above – which you totally should, just hover and click and it will take you there – that summary will have to do.)

I believe I fall in both of these groups at different times and moments in my life. I believe the truth of what Brene proposes that this basic self-assessment has a dramatic affect on our lives.

I just don’t like it.

Because while believing we are worthy or unworthy of love may impact our lives in magnanimous ways, either way we are viewing love as something to be earned. And that is the problem I see in the world, the problem I see in myself.

A misunderstanding of love. 

Love does not account for worth. Love is a gift. Truly, no one is “worthy” of it. It cannot be earned. It is not a commodity to be traded for inherent value.

Don’t get me wrong; I think that every human being does have inherent value and worth. I think every human being desires to be loved and needs to be loved and should be loved and is loved.

But that love is not earned by value or worth. In fact, love is distinctly given in spite of those things. That is what makes it love.

Believing we are worthy might help us in life, but it perpetuates a misunderstanding of love. I think the trick is to let ourselves receive love – truly take it in and accept it – regardless of our worthiness of it.

 

(Normally I would stop here because I have a short attention span as a reader so I try to keep my posts under 500 words. So I promise not to hold it against you if you stop reading here. But I just can’t leave this next part out.)

For me it comes down to moments like this: picture a moment of marital friction. I am furious about something. I want to be right. I am stomping around and screaming because I want my way. And then I realize I am acting like an idiot. And I am sick with myself about it. But I want my way anyway. And I know that in this moment I am unlovablly human.

But my husband comes close to me and touches me tenderly on the shoulders anyway. He tries to pull me in for a hug.

In that moment, what do I do?

Sometimes I push him away because I am so furious and confused and pissey and weak and human and unworthy of love that I refuse to accept it. I only want the love that I think I have earned.

And sometimes, due to some intangible miracle, I let his touch soften me. I let it break me. I let it in past my will and my need to be right and my need to control. And I know I am not worthy of it. But that’s okay. It’s love. I can let it in anyway.

So the question for me is not so much if I believe I am worthy of love, but will I let love in even though I am not worthy of it? Because that’s what love is.

control freaks

The discomfort is seeping out of my pores. I tried to find anything else ready to post. I like to have things more thought out. More refined. More controlled. This one feels more like a zit I can’t stop myself from popping.

Lately, I have been watching and listening to both my self and the people around me, and the theme of control seems to be slapping me in the face everywhere I turn.

I think we as humans grab for control. But I don’t think that is truly what we want. I believe that what each human being truly desires more than anything else in this world is love.

But, as I have mentioned before, love is inherently uncontrolled. Unearned. Unpredictable.

And that makes most of us quite uncomfortable. Including me.

So when we want to show love to someone, we often try to control that person and make that person do what we think is good for him or her. But that is not really love at all.

When we want to be loved, to have someone else show love to us, we also try to control others. Manipulation comes into the mix and things get messy fast. Because we as humans seem to feel loved when we get what we want. But that’s not really love either.

And all the while, during this time when we are grasping for control, trying to make people do what we want them to do or be who we want them to be, we miss the fact that what we are given to control is ourselves.

We ignore that truth and try and control other people instead. Because they seem so much easier to fix. Because taking an honest look in the mirror and dealing with our own stuff is hard. One of the hardest things I have ever done or continue to attempt to do.

However, my hope in doing so is that my haunting need to control lessens and I become more capable of giving love. Freely. 

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.

mysterious middle child

I find him the greatest mystery of the three of them. He is both the most like me and the least like me all at once. One of our friends (who relates to him and seems to “get him” in a way that I long to) told me he is probably a mystery to himself right now, too.

He feels things deeply. And a lot. And he doesn’t quite know what to do with it all. And neither have I. Who grows up in a family that deals well with emotion? No one that I know.

But I have been learning about my own emotions and how to handle them and not to fear them, and – of course – that helps me with his emotions too. And we have been working together on our feelings and accepting them and making space for them and communicating them.

It is incredibly difficult work.

For an eight year old and a thirty-eight year old.

But there is this song by Jason Mraz, who was already a favorite at Chez Koo, and it came on right after the board break that took all of who my son was. Of course. The song is called, “I won’t give up”.

And so this has become his song, and it helps me understand him better. Every time I hear it my soul belts out every word. Because it seems like our song, too. He is my son, so I love him more deeply than I ever knew I could. Deeper than I even understand.

At the crescendo of the song, the words hold so much more than what they say. “I had to learn what I’ve got, and what I’m not, and who I am.” I think those are words of life. My life. And my life with my mysteriously beautiful and wonderful son. Without understanding it all the time, we are becoming. Together.

So give the song a listen. After all, I figured out how to put it here for you (which you should be highly impressed by even though it is not centered, considering I am the world’s largest tech-no-it-all 🙂 ). You won’t regret it. Maybe it will become your song, too.

nothing else was on……i swear!

I saw myself in her. Truth is, I saw all of humanity in her. Tears streaming down her face in classic Bachelor style, she was a picture of brokenness.

“What did I do wrong?” rejected Nikki asked bachelor Ben Flajnick on the secluded Puerto Rican beach. Isn’t that what they all ask the cameras during their tearful exit interviews when they fail to receive the coveted rose? Is that what I would ask?

I am a little embarrassed to admit I watch this show from time to time. Every few seasons I will catch more episodes than I miss. I confess, mostly that has to do with if I can find anything more entertaining to watch at the slated time.

Mostly I don’t like the show because it puts all of the worst of the female nature on display for the world to shake their heads at. But last night I was struck by the words of this girl and how they revealed a piece of me.

In asking what she did wrong, she is revealing a belief that somehow love can be earned. That if she just did something different, then she would have received her payment in Ben’s love.

I know that on The Bachelor we are talking about romantic love…..being “in love”. But I think the concept applies no matter what kind of love we talk about. Not long ago I became painfully aware that I held this same belief.

I was moving through life trying to earn love. It seems natural in a way. Most everything in this world has to be earned, why not love? And to be honest, (because we live on this planet with a bunch of humans) much of the time we do have to earn love. But when we earn it, is it still considered love?

It would be nice if I could earn love because then I could have some control over the whole thing. And I like control. But love is a gift. And inherent in the concept is the lack of ability to earn it.

So I am left wondering what this girl’s interview would have sounded like if she didn’t believe that love could be earned. And I wonder what my life would look like if I understood the same thing.