How to fall in love with me, for me

To fall in love with me
is to say I love you and I see you to every piece of me.
I will never leave you,
you’re my priority.
It means fresh flowers around the house;

anything the color green.
Lots of trees.
With anxiety; unending compassion and reassurance.
With anger; validation and love.
With excitement; permission.
Go easy on me when the laundry piles up.
Time to read.
Time to write.
Time to play barefoot outside.
Connect with people I feel connected to.
Push me to walk when I want to run;
and the opposite too.
Pray unceasingly.
Enjoy Ryan-love, family-laughs and kid-kisses in the magical now.
This is a falling-in-love list for me.
How do you fall in love with you?

 

*Jordan and I came up with this fun idea when we were working through The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron.

This Father’s Day

We went through your old things;
report cards, photo books, trophies, letters.
When you were 19 you noted that having an exciting life was a 1 of importance to you (18 being the least). I’d say it definitely wasn’t boring.
Did you have any big ragrets?
Not even a single letter?

The back house smells of 24 and World Cup parties.
We’re not with you, but here with all of your things. What stories did you have to add? What happened with Lisa from sophomore year? Did you in fact have a bitchen summer?
This Father’s Day felt a little lighter. Family felt a little stronger. Your memories felt a little happier.
Though grief doesn’t really know the calendar. I wonder if tomorrow I’ll feel desperately sad.

I wanted more of you and couldn’t stop standing in the back house trying to feel and hear you. True father-daughter love is keeping my Cinque Terre painting on the wall all those years.
Mom was about to say something inappropriate at Papa’s house and I smacked her leg under the table and she yelped, “Okay Jeff!!!”
Honoring you at home and at bat. Remember how every time we missed the ball you’d say, “My bad that was a bad pitch.”
Thank you for holding our hearts and characters with unconditional positive regard (Cheryl Strayed’s phrase). I hope my kids see me the way I see you. I hope they feel as safe with me as I did with you.

We’re older now. Grief and motherhood haven’t exactly been anti-aging for me. Maisley just turned 16 and Coura walks, talks and surprise, surprise is a strong willed wildling.
What hasn’t changed – the love I carry for you in every cell of my body. The way missing you has become a way of life. How I still lean into your affirming side hugs. I’d truly give up everything I own to spend a minute with you on your worst day.

I love you Dadio. I hope it feels like glass on Bass Lake every day where you are.

Group Projects

Don’t you know how hard I’ve been worrying on this project?
I worry so hard.
I worry overtime.
Late at night, in the morning, sometimes all through the day.
I’m worrying so much harder than all of you.
Where is my praise?
Where is my validation and compensation for all of the worry I’ve been doing?
I have an inkling that my worry isn’t appreciated here.
Fine by me.
I’m just going to stop worrying. 

Gardening

I ask God to pull out the roots of anxiety in my mind and body.

When I close my eyes,
I envision God
taking the deep-seated roots,
transforming the pain, fear and grief
– into love –
and planting a garden.

A garden
of vibrant color,
warm sunshine,
easy, deep breaths and
nourishing beauty.

A garden,
ever-green
and eternal.

Two for One

It seems
that

deeply 
and compassionately
falling in love
with myself
– every layer –
feels a lot like
finding
God.
Or is it the
other
way around?

In Quarantine

Ryan sweeps the side yard every evening before dinner.
We watch Shrek for the first time.
We watch Shrek 10 more times.
Coura asks to get tozy (cozy). 
The girls make mud soup for lunch.
Ryan and I fight about him telling me too much of the news.
Ryan and I fight about spending all this time together and not feeling connected.
We make up quicker than usual.
I am obsessed with trees; touching them, learning about them, talking to them. 
Coura learns how to scooter.
Sammie goes on walks.
I bake homemade sourdough bread, feeling mad at first about having to try something new, and then reinvigorated in my love for baking.
We watch Tiger King.
I have dreams that the Tiger King is after me.
The bed of Freddy (the F150) is the girls’ favorite place to be.
I am a laundry machine.

Ryan inquires about my 3pm pajama wearing.
When I say “I trust you” to God and myself, I can feel it to be true deep in my body.
I go in the mud pit, too.
I feel oddly at peace with a slower lifestyle. 
Ryan comes home from the grocery store and I ask him if they had eggs and milk in stock.
Small rocks are painted like hamburgers and sandals at our neighbor’s house.
I dance to classic rock bbq on pandora most mornings (and sometimes end up punching the bed and crying into a pillow by the end).
We watch church in our pajamas on the couch with a candle lit.  
We watch a movie every afternoon.
Ryan is a master chef in the kitchen, with a dish towel over his shoulder and reggae music playing.
We misplace our minds and find them buried outside in the dirt with Coura’s 25 missing pacifiers.
Maisley sneaks Easter candy into nap time. Ryan is proud of her.
We look at our kids in absolute awe and also wonder how long we will send them to grandparent summer camp.
We meet my mom and sisters for “truck dinners” and I spray hand sanitizer at them like pepper spray.
Maisley and Coura are always naked and over-use the nature potty.
I feel more anxious about it being over than being in it.
I do therapy in my car over the phone.
I dream about buying a house on Orcas Island surrounded by thousands of giant trees.
I purposely slow down or speed up my walk to “run into” neighbors.
Maisley says, “It’s all about the germs and the worms”.
I wonder about what we’ll take with us when it’s all over.

My Heart

Maiz: “Mommy, how do you take your heart out?”

Me: “You don’t bug, it’s something that stays right there in your body.”

Maiz: “But how do you take it out?”

Me: “You don’t sweetheart. It’s inside you and it’s what keeps you going.”

Maiz: “But how do you take your heart out and give it to Jesus? How do all the kids take their hearts out and give them to Jesus?”

Me (dying inside, but playing it cool): “Oh Maiz, that’s so sweet. You give your heart to Jesus by praying and loving him, it’s more of a feeling than something you physically do.”

Maiz: “So do you go in through your stomach and take it out that way?”

Thoughts from Inside

Right after my dad died I wanted the world to stop. For everything to be put on hold and for everyone to feel what I was feeling. Breaking News on every channel of the TV: My dad died.

1.5 years later, the world seems to be slowing to a halt. That fictitious thought I had now coming dangerously close to reality with the COVID-19 pandemic.

We are all in this collective experience together (though greatly varying degrees), sharing similar emotions of sadness, fear, anxiety and pain.

And while we’ve never seen this pandemic before, these feelings we are experiencing are ones we have lived over and over. With experience we know that fear, anxiety and pain are companions of love, kindness and gratitude.

Nasdaq is plummeting, but compassion is skyrocketing with daily reminders that steady mental health, weekly grocery store runs, physical and emotional comfort, and quality medical care are absolute luxuries.

Parents are always talking about the rapid speed at which our kids grow and the clocks tick. We are living in a rare blip of history where time is all we’ve got on our hands right now (and excessive amounts of craft particles).

We raced a leaf boat down the gutter in the rain yesterday. Maiz introduced me to “Cousin David”, the plant on our side yard. And a bird flew into the house just as the girls went to bed.

Surely someone’s flying over the cuckoo’s nest around here.

It’s March 18, 2020, another day and a new opportunity to practice living with uncertainty of the future, finding safety in ourselves despite a lack of control, letting anxiety move through us, and revealing that seed of calm within amidst the storm.

(Please seek God for more information on how).

The world is turned upside down, but we’ve seen her underbelly before and we know we will get to the other side.

First Impressions

When I first saw her she was all stick and bones.
Her thin trunk, merely the keeper of weathered branches.
Had she just lost everything or was she just about to bloom?
I couldn’t see her whole story, I just knew she had one.
She didn’t seem worried, confident it was just a season; fruitful days ahead.
Unattached to what she had lost or what was to come.
Rooted in abundance.
When I first saw her I longed for greenery to cover her naked limbs.
Then a bright yellow finch stopped by to relax on her narrow branch.
Stubbornly alive and whole she was.
And always is.
Nothing is wasted in the resting place.