Sunday, July 17, 2016

Dreaming with my Mom

This is my mom...

From time to time, when I need a good chat, she meets me at the Starbucks and for a couple of hours, we solve the problems of the world and by the time she walks out the door, I always, always feel better.

On the docket today was reinvention.  She asked what I planned to do in a few short weeks when all of my kids start back to school and I asked her what she planned to do in a few short years when retirement becomes a reality.

I want to learn a language or two.  I'd love to live in France and Hawaii.  I want to be there for families experiencing Alzheimers.  Of course, I want to spend crazy amounts of time with all of the grandchildren.  I want to dance and sing and eat chocolate and maintain an active yoga practice.  And love...I want to love lots in the world.

I want to run and sleep and eat sushi for breakfast and drink wine after my coffee.  I want to have long conversations helping someone, somewhere feel better about the spot they find themselves in.  I want to not worry anymore and to trust.  I want to write....lots of words that add up to something beautiful in the world.

Sucking down our respective caffeine selections, we promised the following:

I may not know what the future has in store, but I will always meet you for coffee and remind you that anything is possible, the world is full of second chances, you are extraordinary (because you are my mother and you are my daughter) and no matter where you go, I will carry you forever in my heart.

Monday, July 11, 2016

The Hot Run

I'm not sure when it happened, and looking back, I'm thankful that I didn't realize it was transpiring, or I would have been devastated.

But somewhere in the mix of celebrating an avid, daily running regimen, I withered on the vine and my go-to practice fizzled into an occasional 2 or 3-mile jaunt, small potatoes for my repertoire.

Sick of feeling in a rut, I re-worked my play list, grabbed a loud running skirt, stupidly neglected to bring water and headed out for 6 miles in the hot sun and the high humidity.

I will grant you that there are insane mother fuckers out there who thrive on running in the heat and do quite well, that is definitively not me.  Resolute that I would not make my come back on a treadmill and resigned that it's just as hot at 7am as it is any other time of the day, I sucked it up and went out.

At first, this happened...envision being in a sauna where you keep looking down at your toes, sweat drips into your eyeballs and you just can't get a good breath.  Then, going up my first hill, I panicked, thinking, I'm going to get dehydrated (which upon reflection was probably a smart piece of intuition), but nonetheless, I was committed.

Three miles in, I sunk into the reality of the fight. The hot run is an official bitch baby.  And then this song came on...

 And I just kept pushing and believing and hoping and praying and wondering...who am I?

What can I do in this life?  Who do I want to be?

I hallucinated back to a podcast exploring the difference between knowing and following your curiosity.  We live our lives thinking that we should know exactly what makes our heart song complete with the ability to claim our passions and live our lives linearly.

When the truth is, particularly if you're middle aged, like me (God damn it, that's still so weird to write), you recognize that life is finite and guaranteed to no one and that it's okay to change course, try something new, get busy getting interested in something that sparks wonderment or intrigue.

Aside from running, writing, moving a small business forward and familying...I'm still trying to stay open to what lies on the horizon for me.  What makes me trepidatious (in a good way)?  What do I wish to infuse into my being?  Where do I crave to spend more of my time?  What if I hate it?  How will I know?

By the time I explored these topics, I was drenched.  Ridiculously so.  But I had completed the mileage and made it back to my front door, barely.

It seems to me, that curiosity is where it's at and that knowing is for the birds.  Passion is powerful...but it's often singular.  The world affords so much to sink feel, to know, to incorporate, to's to wonderment...but maybe with a little less humidity.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Ode to Kate on Your Ninth Birthday

My Dearest Kate,

Oh my goodness!  You're nine! 

A bonafide ballet twirling, piano playing, Roald Dahl reading, canvas painting, fruit and veggie eating, bird admiring, advocate for every soul under the sun.

There are no words to say how much I love you and how excited I am for where you are, smack dab in the middle of such a beautiful life.

I can't quite explain it, but from the moment of your birth, you have been elated with the world.  Happy to greet everyone you meet with a sense of wonder, purpose, hope, and giddyness for the possibilities that abound.  You have served as the inspiration for our family to live in the center of the moment, and to gobble up all of the beauty and joy that God has blessed upon us.

A few weeks ago, we took a family vacation to northern California and you took your iPad primarily to take pictures of everything that made your heart sing.  I watched you focus in on seagulls in San Francisco, Redwoods outside of Eureka, ruins in Alcatraz and interesting smiles of passer-byers. You are a natural observer, documenter and lover of the beauty in the world.

It is extraordinary to watch you read voraciously and fall in love with the characters and language as much as I did when I was your age.  Consumed in tales like The BFG, Matilda, Harry Potter, Story Thieves, The War that Saved My Life and so many others, it is a delight to compare notes and to watch you write and illustrate your own rags about dragons, heroes and girls who save the day (always, the heroines).  And now, you've embarked upon building and painting your own Free Little Library with your dad so that you can share your love of literacy with our neighborhood. 

One of my favorite projects you crafted was during the Lenten season when you decided to paint "Rocks for the Poor."  You and your sister spent hours finding the perfect stones and then carefully adorning them with color and symbols in the hopes that people would buy them as desk decoration.  In turn, you took the money and gave it to those in need because according to you, "We have so much and it's not right that others have so little."

In the fall, you are headed into fourth grade, a time that I vividly remember.  So, as you embark upon your ninth year, I want to leave you with this... the greatest gift that you can give to another is kindness and you are filled to the brim with it.  Let it pour out of you and shower upon the new girl you meet in class, the one who stumbles on the street, the friend who's not quite sure that they're doing it right, the stranger in the store or on the playground.  Because while we live in a country that seems to be monetarily wealthy, we are vastly deficient in our ability to love one another for exactly who we are without judgement or fear.

Try not to be afraid.  Be wild, free and alive.  Every moment is a new opportunity to feel, to believe, to try again, to experience all that this crazy time and space has to offer.  Never doubt that you are both able and extraordinary beyond all measure.  You have the power and the fortitude to do so, so very much.  But it's more fun and vastly more enjoyable when you take a friend along the journey.  Share your success.  Be humble in your winnings.  And know that all goodness and grace comes from God.

Forgive me if this is how I see you...

I'm not sure how we got to here...

But I do know that I'll always be right here, cheering you on as you explore, wonder, hope, imagine
and create a more beautiful and loving world.

To the moon and back, sunshine...

Happy Birthday, Kate....

Love always, Mama

Friday, July 1, 2016

Taking the Long Way Around

Our family is blessed to experience 12 full weeks of summer. 

As much as I lament the incessant fighting, diminished personal time and formidable temps...I am grateful that no one has to get up early, everyone can burn the midnight oil watching movies, reading novels or building Legos, the pool is a given, iced coffee is plentiful and Wednesday feels no different than Saturday.

It's a beautiful break not to have to supervise homework, chauffeur to and from ballet and football, make certain that uniforms are clean and ready, keep track of volunteer commitments or stay on top of field trips and special projects.  Instead, we paint, eat grilled cheese, watch the tomatoes grow, build our Free Little Library, run through the sprinkler, try to be kind to each other and count down the weeks of freedom.

Today, marks five weeks of completed summer.  We have seven left to go.

And already, I feel a shift in my children.  All three now ride their bikes or scooters together to the park and rage epic Nerf gun battles.  They can walk into a grocery store and with a mini list, along with a kids cart, grab their assigned, designated items.  They know how to operate the dishwasher and the older ones can wash their clothes.  They understand that when I yell and use certain words that the shit has officially hit the fan and they need to back the fuck down.  I can take them anywhere, including an upcoming solo-8-hour road trip, and trust that with a book and headphones, they'll do just fine. 

They are growing up.

And while they are maturing and finding their way in the world, I am wishing that the next 7-weeks would slow down, because at the end of that time, I will be a mother to an 11-year old, 6th grader, a 9-year old, 4th grader and a 5-year old, kindergartner that will be in school all day long.  And undoubtedly, I will transform.

But into what?

Do we have to cultivate change by taking on a new job?  Moving into a new house?  Going on an international vacation?  Or, could it be by carving out big blocks of time to simply "be" with me...rearranging the furniture, writing in the office, taking the extra long way around the park, writing a paper letter to a friend who I miss, cleaning the closets, sitting with my thoughts, being quiet.

I feel like any change worth its' weight comes from intentionally slowing down and making decisions based in knowing instead of reacting.  And to that end, I am grateful that the wise ones around me, have encouraged to tread lightly in this time and to not jump, but rather to be still and to listen, maybe for the first time, in a long time, to what makes my heart happy.

Their counsel is no different than what I've been doing for the last 11 years with my children, being patient as they shift knowingly and unknowingly, becoming the amazing people they are...trusting that they will jump when it's time without force, pressure or the need to have all of the answers.

Here's to taking the long way around...