Did you know children are so over-scheduled that many doctors are prescribing play? We are actually being told to allow our children to play? How weird is that? When I was a kid, “go play” was a command I heard almost every day and thank goodness for it.
Today it seems so much of children’s play is scheduled and planned, and supervised to a degree that leaves even many homeschooled children without time to simply do their own thing.
On any given day, my daughter is told to just go play, or just go chill. I give her ample time to simply do whatever he wants to do. Sometimes she chooses to play video games. Other days, I challenge her to get more creative by telling her no devices are allowed. She generally complains at first, but then I find her completely focused on creating something, riding her bike, or playing with her dolls in her room.
I love those moments. I love watching her navigate a project, or playing out an elaborate storyline with her dolls. It intrigues me to get inside her head a little without her even knowing I’m nearby. Occasionally, I can snap a quick picture of her to help me cherish the moment.
It’s in the play that they get to practice and manage real world situations in a way that feels safe for them. They get to exercise their imagination muscle too and the world definitely needs more of that! It seems creativity is going down the tubes as “the tube” has become handheld.
We don’t learn when we constantly get things right. We learn when we mess up. We learn when we get it wrong. We learn when the result isn’t what we expected. We learn when we fall down and get back up and try something different. Children need to the freedom and the opportunities to be able to experience mistakes without punishment.
Children are constantly presented with new information and new experiences and they need time to process. When we are constantly rushing to the next play date, or rushing to the next extra-curricular activity, or rushing from one lesson to the next, they aren’t given the time they need to process, question, and truly store the information they’re being exposed to. Like my daughter said, “I’m a kid, not a machine.” Truer words were never spoken regarding education.
As many of you know, we have a very loose home school philosophy around here. I do not have a rigid schedule for our daughter and I never plan to. She has only three things she must do most days at this point and she gets to decide what this looks like.
The way I see it, as long as she can read and do math, she can figure out anything. I like for her to do projects or activities because they cover team work, time management, and taking an idea and running with it. These are all excellent skills in our modern world.
Other than that, we make good use of downtime in our home school. That’s when she gets to use the information she’s gathered in her learning. That’s when she gets to have fun and be more creative, relax, and otherwise be who she is. I think this is vital to her development and I guard this time fiercely.
Of course things may change as she gets older and her interests grow and deepen in certain areas and that’s absolutely fine and expected, but what will never change is my encouraging her to take time to relax, process, and tune in. The way I see it, if Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg, two of the most successful business men in America today emphasize this, why shouldn’t I emphasize this in my daughter’s homeschool?
Have you ever bought a car and then suddenly you start seeing that car everywhere? You never really noticed it before, until you brought it into your life and then it seems you see that car more than any other. This is how life seems to work. Our reality is what we make it, to a great extent, and what we focus on manifests into our reality. When I’m down, I tend to notice all the negative things in my life. A friend who needs to cancel is suddenly “mad at me.” If I make a mistake, I’m replaying the old record of how I’m not enough, how I’m too irresponsible to be trusted, how I’m absent-minded and stupid.
When I’m feeling good, the record is different. It’s one of thanksgiving and gratitude.
My husband was reading a book by Tony Robbins last week and he asked me to read a chapter. The book was about financial freedom and the last chapter, the one my husband said I should read, was about the fact that financial freedom is nice, but no amount of money on earth can make us happy, if we don’t find happiness where we are right now.
We can choose to vibe higher, in what Mr. Robbins refers to as a “beautiful state,” or we can choose to vibe lower. The fact is, regardless of circumstances, we choose how we’re going to react and our thoughts and actions determine what we bring into our lives.
Just like the new car you suddenly see everywhere, our thoughts manifest our reality.
I think one of the things that brings negativity into my life is comparison. For me, it is the great thief of joy and it’s a liar. Comparison whispers in our ears, “I am better’ and ‘they are better.” Neither of which is true.
This morning, I opened my Bible to read, as I have been doing for a good while now and I came upon Psalms 123. In this psalm, verse four stood out to me, “Our soul is exceedingly filled with scorning of those that are at ease, and with the contempt of the proud.” Prior to that, you read a plead to God for mercy. “As the eyes of servants look to unto the hand of their masters, and as the eyes of a maiden unto the hand of her mistress, our eyes wait upon the Lord our God, until that he have mercy upon us.”
As I read that, I think of how I have sometimes looked to others and felt a great sense of lack in my own life. I’ve been here so many times in my life and social media tends to exacerbate it. I log in to see the beautiful pictures of vacations and fashion, and happy families, and moms who seem to wake up all put together in their beautiful showcase homes, while I’m waking up bleary-eyed, in a home that’s caught in a state of perpetual renovation. I become filled with scorn of those that are at ease and I feel contempt of the proud.
We think, they have it so easy….their children are so well-behaved….they have the money to do that…it must be nice…and it’s from a false place of lack that negativity creeps into our souls. This is what Mr. Robbins would refer to as vibing pretty darn low. When we think this way, we are certainly not in the beautiful state. We think there’s not enough to go around. We fill up with jealousy and envy and pointless competitions that will never fulfill us, and because we are starving for love we will continue to grasp for these straws that lie to us and tell us if only we had [insert whatever you choose] we’ll be happy. We cry out for happiness and fulfillment as a servant does to a master, but we fail to realize that the key to our happiness is within each of us.
I’m reading a book entitled One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp right now, and she brings up the idea of living fully right here, right now. This idea struck me years ago, when I read a book by Thich Nhat Hanh entitled Be Free Where You Are. Both authors remind us that freedom isn’t an elusive thing out there to be had, or learned, or bought, but rather something we cultivate in our lives ourselves. Hanh and Voskamp say that we find our freedom in the mundane moments of our every day lives. There, in the thick of it – the runny noses, the middle-of-the-night illnesses, the arguments, the deaths, the boring endless days, the broken down cars, the feeling of abandonment, and everything else we all experience in our lives – is where the magic is. It’s there where all of our gifts are, if we only take a moment to notice.
It sounds so simple, right? Just take a few moments our of your day to be grateful. I’ve started so many gratitude lists in various journals over the years and I have noticed a trend: when I’m making lists of the amazing gifts in my life each day, I’m happier overall. I open my arms to possibilities and I find even more in my life to be grateful for.
And while this has happened every single time I’ve begun taking time to be grateful, I still forget to do this and the next thing you know, I’m filled with contempt of those who live at ease. I become envious, or jealous, and I suddenly need to go shopping, or I want to drink more wine, or I feel the need to just run away – ANYWHERE.
I forget that this life I’m living is THE GIFT. Even when it sucks.
Recently, I was really sick and awoke in the night feeling absolutely horrible. As I sat on the toilet, almost in tears because I felt like, well, shit, I took a moment to thank God for that time with him. Even while I was feeling horrible, I noticed how quiet the house was. I noticed the sweet cat at my feet, and I recognized that while I was ill, I’d get better and everything would be okay again.
I’d never have felt that if I hadn’t already been working on a mindset of gratitude. I’d have simply been miserable and alone.
I’m not saying I walk around feeling super happy all the time. I don’t always feel like smiling and I don’t always feel grateful for this life and that’s okay. I’m human. However, I’ve learned that being vulnerable and honest shows my inner strength more than putting on a smile and pretending I’m okay for everyone else’s sake (or my pride, if I’m being honest). I just want to keep it real. I give myself a reality check through the practice of gratitude, because when I do this I remind myself how beautiful this life really is. I can climb out of my hole of self-loathing and self-indulgence and be genuinely grateful for this life experience and all of the thousands of precious fleeting moments that might otherwise be overlooked. When I do this the beauty of this precious life grows.
“Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Matthew 6:21
What are you grateful for today?
Take a moment to jot a short list, if you like, or just take a moment to say it out loud to the universe and see what happens.
A few years ago, I was in a car accident that totaled our two-month old Impala and left me with bad neck pain and car anxiety that makes my husband crazy. I can’t decide if his driving was always so erratic, if he always hit the brakes so late and seemed otherwise preoccupied before my accident, or if it really is just the residual fear from the wreck.
I remember clearly driving around the bend on the interstate, going about 55 miles per hour, and seeing a maroon car a couple of lanes to the right spin out across the lanes, and into mine. I hit the brakes, but there was no way to avoid her. Luckily, I had the wherewithal to hit the back rear panel of her car, rather than the passenger door, or it’s possible she may not have left the accident uninjured. I don’t know.
Thank goodness none of us were injured. My two-year old, asleep in the backseat, awoke screaming in terror. Even our Pointer Bulldog mix, who slammed into the back of my seat upon impact, walked away only a bit shaken up and without a scratch on him. No one in the other cars were injured either.
When I’d tell people about the accident, they’d so often reply with, “God was looking out for you, girl!”
It was really hard for me not to roll my eyes when I heard that, and I’d reply, “Isn’t He always?” I mean, if I had died in that accident, would we suddenly assume God was asleep on the job? Or maybe He was too busy checking Twitter to pay attention to me?
I don’t think so.
At that time, I wasn’t even kind of into God, except that I believed God is everywhere and “he’s” an all-encompassing Universal Energy (I still believe this, actually), but for some reason, I had to take a stand for God, even back then. God always has my back and always will.
I can’t stand when people act like God only watches over us when things go our way.
I’ve always been of the mind the She’s always watching over us, regardless of outcome and the problem is not and has never been Her, but Us, the lowly humans who are too wrapped up in this moment, this body, this scary situation, or whatever, to trust and have faith.
I recently watched a great show that starred Bill Murray, a man I hope to meet one day while strolling down the streets in Charleston, SC – I plan to photobomb him photobombing someone else. That’s my daydream…call me weird. Anyway, on that show, he begged the question: What is good?
When something happens that we hope will happen, we consider it good, but if we don’t get our way, we consider it bad. I guess it makes sense. Even toddlers grasp this idea. However, there are so many times that things have gone my way and later I realized maybe it wasn’t so good. Other times, things have been seriously shitty and eventually, a lot of excellent things came into my life as a result.
What is good and why do we assume we know what God has in store for us when He clearly states that his ways are not our ways?
Isaiah 55:8: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, saith The Lord.” KJV
Who are we to think we know what the big plan is? And why do we insist on needing to know? Is it simply our human fear that makes us feel this way. I think it is for me. When things are going nuts in my life, or at least they seem to be going nuts to me, I feel the need to control things around me. I frantically clean my house from top to bottom. In the car, I white knuckle the Oh Shit Bar, as if this is going to help me in the event of an accident. I threaten my daughter with groundings when she’s going off the wall.
All of these are vain attempts to control something that feels out of control to me. I can’t trust and have faith that things are happening exactly as they are meant to. I can’t trust that there is something bigger coming. I can’t trust that the world crumbling around me might be making way for something bigger in my life.
I’m learning that God is always looking out for us. He’s looking out for me and damn if I know why. I am the last person I’d honestly expect him to pay attention to. While I’ve always proclaimed a love of Jesus, all the other stuff just seemed like crap to me, not going to lie. And nothing made me run from God more than the church, let me tell you…the very people telling me that God was looking out for me during my accident.
Yea. Sure he was.
He always is.
It’s amazing how that comment surprised so many Christians. I didn’t understand it, but it seems the more I learn and the more I read my Bible, the more I get where they’re coming from. There seems to be this culture of prosperity happening in churches and while I’m not against prosperity, I think it’s a slippery slope to be on, because there’s a fine line between Faith and entitlement.
Recently, I was reading something someone posted to Facebook and it said something like, “That medical diagnosis? God’s got it,” and I wondered about the woman reading it who’s daughter may have cancer and I hoped that she wouldn’t lose faith if the outcome wasn’t what she expected. I hoped that when she read that she’d simply trust that God has it taken care of, no matter what. I also hope that she believes that her faith can heal her daughter.
Oh Lord, so many of you all are going to let me have it over this one. I can feel it already, whether you comment or not. You’re going to declare: Only in Jesus’ name! GOD heals, not us!
And I’d say…that’s not what I’m reading. In Matthew, Jesus told the disciples they could heal others by their faith. He told them over and over that one day he’d not be here on earth to heal the sick that they had to do it by their faith. It was their unbelief that prevented them from performing the miracles he authorized them to perform. They were mere humans, just like you and me. Shaky in their faith, even when The Son was standing right in front of them. I can relate to them so much.
Once, they were asked to help heal a young boy and couldn’t and they went to Jesus anxiously and begged him to help them.
Matthew 17: 19-20: “Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out? And Jesus said unto them, Because of you unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.” KJV
Some will then say: The mountain is metaphorical. And that may be true and we can only take from the Bible and other religious works what we are ready to hear and learn.
I don’t think it really matters. If it’s a metaphorical mountain, there are definitely times in my life when I get so caught up in the situation that I can’t see past it. I wander around lost in the dark and worry about what I should do, when all I need to do is have faith and keep working and keep moving forward and trust that God’s got it.
Otherwise, I am sure to fall prostrate to the challenge and perhaps never get up again.
I still struggle with riding in a car, but I’m okay with driving. Again, it’s that control thing. I’m still a slave to that moment – that few seconds of terror on the interstate that day. It grips me very much the same way it did at that moment, albeit a little more loosely. I’m still working on myself and trust that one day, I’ll not feel that fear anymore. I remind myself that my perspective isn’t necessarily Truth. It’s a memory and all memories are false to an extent. We see life as we want to see it. Here’s an example…
Right after the wreck a light drizzle started. I was holding my daughter in my arms and she pointed off to the horizon and said, “Look, a rainbow, Mommy!” And sure enough, in the sky, a rainbow had formed.
Her version of the story is this: “Mommy, remember that time we spun around in the car really fast and then we saw a rainbow?”
Same incident; different perspective. Each as close to the truth as the other.
We see the world as we want to see it. We can either have faith that everything is working out, regardless of the outcome, even as we hold loosely to our plans, or we can tighten our grip on an idea we think is good and thus miss out on the rainbow that’s waiting to greet us after the storm.
Either way, I believe God has our backs. She’s watching over us.
And everything is going to be alright, as long as we believe.
At the coffee shop, she walked in behind me, the mother of the little girl my daughter runs to at class. Our daughters smile at each other and embrace. I say hello to the mom, who doesn’t respond and perhaps she didn’t hear. I seem to have a voice that doesn’t carry well. She also seemed preoccupied. I smile, longing to embrace her, as our daughter’s did; if not physically, at least emotionally.
I see you. I think.
But I feel unseen, overlooked.
I don’t feel lonely though, which is new. Normally loneliness is a constant companion, but not today. Today I carried my latte out into the little garden outside the coffee shop and watched cars go by. After that, I pulled my camera from my backpack and photographed the Ginko Biloba leaves that blanketed the street, leaving only two cleared paths just wide enough for tires to travel. On the sidewalk, I noticed a large patch of green Ginko leaves, then a large patch of yellow.
The same, but different, not touching, not embracing. The green ones gathered with the green ones. The yellow with the yellow.
Like those leaves, the moms dropping their children off to class remained separate.
Perhaps longing to embrace? Or perhaps not. If one looks online, most moms say they wish for other mom friends, but in reality it seems the opposite.
Are we all too shy or insecure? Are we sizing each other up to figure out who would make a possible pal?
I sip the latte I got at the coffee shop, made perfectly by the lady I secretly named Greta, because she looks so much like my good friend who passed away. Greta, I want to say, I miss you. I miss your laugh and your husky voice. This gal makes great coffee, but that’s her only place in my life. I miss your friendship. I miss you. I appreciate the Coffee Shop Greta though. She has a nice smile and an open demeanor that I admire. We talked about the earrings I bought for my daughter-in-law – another woman I long to know and understand.
We women are complicated, beautiful beings longing for connection and pulling away as soon as someone reaches out to us. We shy away into our books, or our phones; the safe places that hole us up and keep us from becoming whole and wholly loved.
I’ve hurt so many women in my life.
I’ve hurt and have been hurt and maybe I’m tired of hurting and hurting. Maybe I’m nearing the ready to embrace the ugly side of me and to feel the pain, move through it, and find my healing inside wounds so deep I forgot how it feels to live without them.
I sit in the garden where my daughter takes classes and big, brown oak leaves fall all around me, dancing their way to the ground below the canopy of the great tall trees that know so much and cannot speak. A squirrel picks in the grasses near where I sit, completely unconcerned with me and I write this, out in the open, in the sun – exposed. And for once, I am unconcerned with how I look to others, not even the construction workers who pass by. I simply write, because I must write, and it’s all that matters to me now.
I feel my observations are not solely my own, but rather the voices of thousands of women who have reached the point where we realize nothing outside ourselves can heal us. We must crack ourselves wide open and take inventory of what’s there. We must sit there with the stink of our experiences, until we love ourselves regardless of it, or in spite of it. Because that stink isn’t who we are.
I am not my pain.
I am not my insecurities.
I am not my teeth or skin.
I am not what I think I am when I look in the mirror.
What I AM is a spiritual being longing to be close with God. Longing to be one there, full of hope and love and peace, even when the inevitable storm arises and I brace myself against a relentless wind that threatens to blow me over and away.
This body…this vessel…this great physical distraction keeps me from opening myself up to let the Love of God pour in, to fill me up and set me free.
I’m not sure, but I think I’m not alone in this. I think a lot of women feel this way. We shy away from each other because we’re not sure we’re worthy, or interesting, or cool enough to burden others with our presence. We assume everyone else is happily busy and engaged, when most of us feel lonely and a little broken inside. Maybe this is why we wrongfully believe we’re burdens.
To the moms longing to embrace a fellow sister, keep trying. Keep smiling. Keep saying hello, no matter how many times you’re overlooked, or not heard. You may find me there one day, with a big smile on my face, ready to run to you as the little girls did today, to embrace you in a big hug, eager to hear all about what you’re up to and what sets your soul on fire.
Be relentlessly forgiving. (Matthew 18:22)
Oh boy, what a message, right?! Be relentlessly forgiving. That’s a tough one for me, especially if I see people hurt people I love. I tend to find it easier to forgive those who have hurt me, but mess with my children, or my mom, or my husband and it’s on! My anger will surge to the forefront faster than you can turn around and let me tell you, I’m not one to mince words. I’m very forthcoming and not afraid to stand up for others.
That said, it’s not in my nature to hold grudges. I prefer to be happy. I prefer to see others happy and regardless of the offense, I truly believe each of us is capable of goodness and I try hard to see that goodness in people I meet.
I also do believe there is a time to let go and even Jesus says so in Matthew 18: 15-17. He says we should talk with the person one on one and if they don’t listen, bring in witnesses. If he still doesn’t listen, bring in the church. If he doesn’t listen then, to let him go. I think what this means is we can only do so much to make things right between others and ourselves. However, the circumstance has nothing to do with whether or not we forgive the person.
We can forgive them and still let them go.
I know I have had a hard time with this. I tend to think of my children as MY children. My mother as MY mother. My friend as MY friend. This labeling of people as mine sometimes spreads from a simple identifier to almost like a sense of ownership. Like a two-year old with a stuffed bear, I am screaming MINE, MINE, MINE! I think this clingy behavior stems from a fear of abandonment and a lack of a solid spiritual foundation.
The fact is, none of our loved ones are OURS, not even the ones we squeeze out of our own bodies. Each of us belongs to God and sometimes we can let that false sense of control create unnecessary tension in our relationships. I know I have. I have felt jealous when a friend has canceled with me to spend time with someone else. I have felt lonely when I’ve had a rare free day and no one has time to get together. I have felt ignored and unworthy when my hard work has not been acknowledged. I’ve felt FOMO for sure, more times than I can count.
The bottom line is this: I have forgotten that I am loved.
By nature, humans are social creatures and because of this, we long for social interactions with others. We are also very territorial. Even as people are protesting a wall in America, they build fences and lock their front doors, and roll up their windows as they drive to the corner where the homeless man holds up his cardboard sign. We say, “This is my space in the world and I choose who I want to share it with.” We long to control this physical world we live in and while this is fine, we sometimes forget that there is more to us than that. We attempt to control what’s around us in an attempt to console what’s going on inside us.
We are like the disciples who couldn’t heal the little child, because of their lack of faith. We know we’re spiritual beings. We know there is more to us than what we look like, who we know, what we do for a living, and what we own, but we lack the faith of our convictions and so we cling to the ephemeral. We attempt to control others and struggle to maintain our relationships with unintended manipulation, because we lack faith.
I’m learning that I’m better off to be relentlessly forgiving. It removes the weight I have to carry in this world. It frees others of the weight I put on them and it frees space for Love to come in and heal my heart.
Forgiveness makes room for Jesus, who tells us quite simply: Trust & have faith.
There are times when forgiveness is really hard for me. I’ve been hurt many times and very deeply, to be honest. I can’t count the number of nights I’ve cried myself to sleep over past hurts. At times like this, I remember what Thich Nhat Hanh said about forgiveness. He basically said that hurt people, hurt people. If we consider the hurt person’s life from a beautiful, innocent child, through all her hurts, it’s easier to understand, empathize, and thus forgive her. No one is born hurting others. We may be born selfish (This is MY stuffed bear!), but if you watch children, they are generally very kind and empathetic to one another. We learn to be cruel. We learn to hurt people when we are hurt by people. When we consider this, it makes forgiveness easier. I think Jesus was easily able to see this in others and thus He was able to be relentlessly forgiving.
Does this mean it’s okay for others to hurt us simply because they hurt? No. But I no longer see this as my weight to carry. That’s their business. My business is my own heart and I prefer the freedom of forgiveness over the prison of bitterness. For today, I choose to be relentlessly forgiving.
While I’ve been exposed to Christianity various times and in various ways in my life, I happily and heartily embraced Paganism throughout my adulthood. I never really got into the whole God and Jesus and church thing. It just never appealed to me.
To say the least, I’m weirded the hell out about it.
From a deep sleep, I was awaken at 4:30 one morning with terrible past experiences on my mind, things I have already apologized for numerous times. I tossed and turned and cursed under my breath, but sleep eluded me. Finally, I gave up and made my way down the creaky wooden steps to the kitchen, and I flipped on the coffee maker, which puttered to life with about as much enthusiasm as I felt at that hour. And I sat at the big farmhouse table in the kitchen with a cup of coffee and the Bible.
You all, I never saw this coming. I never imagined I’d be a woman who’d wake up and read the Bible. I further never thought I’d be a women who not only read the Bible, but who also cried big, ugly tears while praying to God about past hurts I could not forgive myself for.
And yet that’s exactly what I found myself doing in the wee hours of the morning.
Sometimes the weight gets too heavy. Sometimes we’re carrying around a load from decades ago that we’ve folded and unfolded and heaved from one shoulder to another, stooping lower and lower under its weight until one day, it’s just too damned heavy to carry anymore. One day it happens that it’s now or never to take a leap and either put it down and breathe forgiveness into our lives and our Spirits, or just succumb beneath it all.
That’s where I was.
I have no idea where this is going. I wonder if this will be just another ridiculous interest in my life. Maybe the placebo effect of surprisingly good spiritual music I happened upon recently. I also wonder — and this is a tiny, hopeful part of me — if maybe this is IT. Maybe this time, I’m doing the very right thing for myself.
Maybe this is my chance to really grow more generous, kind, and gracious.
I don’t want to preach to people about God or Jesus, or any of that, as I believe our spiritual journey is personal and we must come to the place we need to be, in our own time and in our own way.
What I do want to share is the sweet relief I felt when I finally put all that past shit down at Jesus’ feet and asked for forgiveness and, more importantly, asked for help in forgiving myself for what I did so many years ago.
I don’t like to think of myself as broken. However, I seem to have broken bits floating around inside myself and like a chipped elbow bone that makes itself suddenly known when I move a certain way, these broken bits occasionally send searing pain through my Spirit.
This time, I just couldn’t go through it anymore. I didn’t have the strength.
I like to think of myself as strong, but I am not that strong. I have limits and I feel good having finally honored them by saying, “Please, God, take this from me. I don’t want it anymore. I can’t carry it anymore.”
I am grateful that he listened.
I don’t know, maybe someone out there is carrying a heavy load right now and maybe you’ve been carrying it for a really long time. Maybe you’ve gone over and over it in your mind – things you could have done differently, or maybe it replays in your mind like a broken record – and maybe you aren’t sure if you deserve to put it down. Maybe you feel so terrible for what you did that you feel you deserve the pain that the memory brings to your life.
I have been there. In a lot of ways, I’m still there. I’m still a crazy misfit who doesn’t know anything. All I know is the profound sense of relief I felt.
I think the devil is in our minds and I think reliving past hurts and being consumed with guilt is the devil’s way of keeping us down, making us believe that we’re too fucked up to be helped.
It’s all a lie.
We can let that lie go and we can stand up in our faith and release whatever has a hold on us. When we do this, we give others permission to do the same and we create this ripple of beautiful love that can touch so many.
All it takes is the courage and the humility to let go and I don’t know about you, but letting go is really hard for me. I don’t like to give up. I don’t like to be vulnerable and while I have shared a lot in my life, I never really allowed myself to be vulnerable until this past year.
This year has been transformative for me. Hard as hell, but transformative.
I have fallen and I’m going to keep on falling because, you guys, I’m a mess, but I feel like something big is happening in my life and for once, I am opening my heart, my arms, and my life to it.
Come what may.
Who’s with me?
I’m currently reading a memoir entitled The Glass Castle, by Jeanette Walls that my amazing friend sent to me with a bit of fabric I purchased from her. Seriously, my friend, Jenniffer is one of those rare gems of a human being who lights up this world. I bought $13.00 worth of fabric from her and she sent a big box full of goodies, from a quilt top (and extra fabric to finish it) for Kat, books for me, and a set of Dahl books for Kat as well. I mean…she’s platinum, you guys. Absolutely precious and wonderful and I’m blessed beyond measure to know her. The crazy thing is, I’ve never met her in person. I met her via Instagram, because of our love for quilting and supporting others.
When I started a group to make fleece blankets for a local homeless shelter, she jumped right in and gathered others from around the country and turned my tiny, insignificant “group” (me) into a real group, with so much love intertwined. For the blanket drive, she sent not just a blanket, but a BOX OF BLANKETS. I cried when I opened it, just like I cried when I opened the box with the books and the fabric, and the quilt.
I’m not used to people doing nice things like that for me. It’s usually the opposite. That sounded so pathetic. I’m not complaining. I do what I do. It’s not about receiving anything back. If it was, none of what I’ve ever done would have been done from the heart, right? Besides, I’ve been blessed in many other ways and it all evens out. I’m just making gan observation.
Anyway, I’m reading this book and it’s insane how much I can relate to every single person in this memoir. I won’t give anything away and I do encourage you to read it if you haven’t already, because it’s beautifully written, but I have to chat a little about it. One thing that stands out to me is this: even as a dysfunctional family, one thing they had was togetherness. I think as long as a family is close knit and supportive of one another, the individuals can overcome huge obstacles. This family is crazy to put it mildly, but I love every single one of them, even the drunk father and the head-in-the-clouds mother, who I hate to admit, reminds me a lot of myself.
I remember when I moved my sons into the old log cabin that had no indoor plumbing or heat and I said, “It’ll be an adventure! It’ll be like camping all year long! It’ll be fun.” It was fun, most of the time, but it was also hard and downright uncomfortable at times. My sons had a freedom most children do not get to experience these days, but they also took baths in cold creek water and I distinctly remember a rat or two pilfering thought the kitchen some evenings. Did I mention it was hard at times?
I can also relate to the author and how she and her siblings had to protect each other from so many evils in the world. I remember having an argument with one of our babysitters, who called my little sister a “lying little bitch.” My sister was five years old. I remember holding a stick as big as me over my head and chasing a boy down the street because he was picking a fight with my brother. Yet again, I remember hitting a fourth grader in the face with my loaded book bag for bullying my six-year old brother.
They did similar things for me. Maybe that was just the usual thing back then, when kids didn’t have helicopter parents lording over every little thing their children did, like so many parents do today. Back then, kids got into mischief and even danger and relied on each other to get out of it.
We also played outside – all day long. We played games like the kids in the book did – kick-the-can, King of the Mountain, and we rode bikes all over town, even on the back roads we weren’t supposed to be on because we might get hit by a car.
My childhood was great.
Sometimes it was hard. Sometimes it was very terrifying, like times when dad got real mad at us for laughing before we went to sleep. He really didn’t like that and when he said, “be quiet and go to sleep,” we’d better damn-well do it. On the whole though, I wouldn’t trade my parents or my childhood for anything and this memoir by Walls has cemented that even more in my mind.
This book is beautiful. It’s also a great example of how we can look at our lives and boo-hoo our way through, carrying that weight for forty or more years, or we can put it down in the past, and live the best life we possibly can. We can realize that nothing is wasted, not even the crappy times or the terrifying times, or the traumatizing times, because they taught us something about us, about the world, and about how hurt people hurt people.
None of it is wasted, unless we declare it to be so.
None of it is wasted unless we hold it in and let that poison kill us slowly each and every day of our precious lives.
I’m not all about “thinking positive” and stuffing down our real emotions. I’m not all about clearing our minds of negative thoughts in favor of a slew of affirmations. I am for acknowledging our emotions and understanding that they are valid and that they were valid then, and also realizing that our memories are no longer our reality. We are different people. We are no longer five years old or eleven years old. We’re grown and we can use our experiences to support others.
An exercise that has helped me when I have gotten a little lost in the past is to feel that emotion and then ask the Universe to take it from me and transform it into something beautiful. I imagine it floating up into the universe and changing into stars and then I imagine the light sprinkling down upon the earth. It helps.
Maybe it will help someone reading this today. I do hope so.
With that, I wish you a beautiful day.
If you’re interested in the book, find it here.