The Missing App

A stolen moment of freedom spent on the porcelain throne.
“Hey babe, can you watch the kids? I’ll be back in a ‘minute’ ”.
I take off down the habitual rabbit hole of time well wasted; checking in on that complete stranger to see if she had her baby yet.
Gmail →  Instagram → Facebook.
Something’s missing.
Where’s that app I really need.
The one that guides and predicts my day:

For dinner tonight cook this.
Here are directions to the path of least resistance;
to the path of most enjoyment.
Reminder: don’t pick that battle.
Coura needs to be held 20% more today.
A weird rash analysis.
Toddler not listening? Say this instead of that.

An app that knows for sure: everything is going to be okay today.
So I can let go of my worries and find joy without hesitation. 
Check in to my abundant reality.

I guess I don’t need an app for that.
Time to shit or get off the pot.

Borrowed Time

In talking with a friend about her friend’s near death experience, I asked, with a misplaced chip on my shoulder, “I wonder what he plans to do with his borrowed time?”

The words left my lips and immediately made a swift u-turn, staring at me blankly in the face.  

Ah, right.

We’re all on borrowed time. We’re all on God’s schedule, lucky to even have these thoughts and breathe this breath. 

Even distant stories of death or illness have a way of slamming us into our shoes of the present moment with a clear map for how to live. This phenomenon gives way to a little dance I’m always practicing – finding the balance between carpe diem and everyday to-dos. Acknowledging death and feeling safe in the world.  Loving myself, my daughters, my husband and my family with a whole heart of love, rather than a heart motivated by fear. Holding death at the forefront, not as a stressor, but as a way to stay in alignment with priorities and timetables.

As a mom, I often forget that having fun and leading with happiness is a serious option for how to live my life. Choosing fear and anxiety can feel safer, but it’s merely a facade for my misguided mind. With every moment of practice and intention, my armor of lighthearted joy is getting stronger; a much better fit. 

So the question is: what am I doing with my borrowed time?

More of these things: boogie board, forgive, feel my daughter’s cheek on mine, pay attention, listen to what feels true to me.

And less of these things: hold resentments, judge, feed anxious thoughts, listen to what I’m “supposed to be doing”. 

 

The Summer Day by Mary Oliver

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean–
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down —
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
With your one wild and precious life?

What I Used to Think

“You can turn over every stone on Earth and still not find what you’re looking for.” 

I used to think I’d find myself in the color of my hair, or the clothes I’d wear; the number of piercings in my ear. 

The friends I’d make, the boys I’d kiss, the jobs I’d win; how fast I’d fly down the track. 

“Just be yourself!” they’d say. 

I looked everywhere; couldn’t seem to find her anywhere. 

Until these days, when what I used to think isn’t working out so well for me anymore. 

If someone asked me now, I’d say:

I’ll find myself right where I’m standing, in whatever shoes I’m wearing, in the voice I hear that’s both mine and the Divine. 

In the sea and the trees, a deep breath of love, in things that glitter on the inside. 

A me that doesn’t don’t fade, leave or scar; whole without even trying. 

I’ll still turn over every stone and travel the Earth, but seek only accessories to the real me.

Triggers

I drove to Creative Mornings with mascara on, feeling brave and un-smudgeable. I met my friend and creative dreaming partner, Suzanne, coincidently twinning in a golden shirt, jeans and brown sandals. It was her birthday and the day before Coura’s birthday. I was feeling excited to hear some inspiring words on creativity.

Five minutes into the presentation, the speaker started talking about her childhood. Mostly, all about her dad, photos in a slideshow of her dad, her relationship with her dad. More about her dad. And then, a tape recording of her as a kid talking with her dad.

That’s when I lost it. I became unhinged in every sense of the word and started uncontrollably sobbing in a silent auditorium of 200 people. I ran out as fast I could, my tears fleeing my eyes at the same pace.  It was the most blindsiding, unexpected wave of grief yet.

Triggered.

Who knew? What are the rules on big, flashing trigger-warning signs?

DAD TALK COMING. ALERT. AVERT. PREPARE. TAKE A DEEP BREATH. TURN AROUND. RUN HOME AND CRAWL INTO BED.

Some triggers are obvious like going to my parents house, the spot of the phone call, a photo. Other triggers are more camouflaged, hidden inside innocent keynote speakers or coffee shop playlists.

Thank God for Suzanne who knows dark humor and what it means to cry in public. It helps to be surrounded by people who know how to position your arms so that air can flow into your lungs.

As uncomfortable as that was, I would take a public cry over holding that gigantic ball of energy in my body to wreak havoc on me in some other way. I’m slowly learning, that if I face my grief head-on with honor and kindness, it actually releases it’s death-grip and even lends a reward of peace on the other side.  In kid terms: It’s less like an annoying house guest who never leaves and more like Tom the mailman, just dropping in with a quick message and then on his way.

I wonder if other people wanted to cry that morning. I wonder who else has been hurting when I’m sitting in beautiful oblivion. 

One of the many gifts of grief: compassion.

Triggers I want more of: sprinklers on a hot summer day.

Word Preferences

Unhelpful Helpful
Settling down Putting down roots
I’m unraveling I’m untangling
Everything happens for a reason Everything happens
I’m so sorry Thank you for understanding
I’m such an idiot I made a mistake
I really want to go for a walk I’m out the door! See you in a bit
I’ve always wanted to go to… I just booked a flight to…
She really needs to work on being more present I really need to work on being more present
Take a deep breath Breathe into your back, expanding your lungs like you’re filling up a CamelBak (tip from Zen Golf via Ryan Nienhuis)
You are not your thoughts

Close your eyes and turn toward an anxious or scary thought in your mind, sit with it and eventually it will just dissolve

Life is short Not one second of your life is wasted
Accept it Allow it

A Second Chance

A babbling brook of whys and what ifs.
Where’s his second chance? His saving grace?
That miracle lying in wait.

So tied to our illusion of control,
we beg and plead:
he’s one of the good ones,
please use it on him.

In a single moment,
our road map diverged from His.
Propelling us off course,
no turn-by-turn directions home.

Eight months later,
some footing found.
Hints of knowing,
silver linings and signs of God all around.

And still, some days, anger interrupts again:
why didn’t he get a second chance?
This time,
A quick and knowing all-heart reply:

His first chance taken,
a life well lived.
A family, his humble heart,
full to the brim.

Why didn’t he get a second chance?
Because he didn’t need one.

One Year With Coura

For my sweet Coura Joanies:

As I attempt to color your beautiful world with words, I have to start with the truth. Your first year of life was the most challenging of mine. A transition into a whole new existence that neither of us saw coming. And yet, you never left my side through it all – our bright light behind the dark clouds. From the day you were born, you’ve been my teacher.  You make me want to be present in the moment, stepping outside of my chatty brain to enter your world of endless possibilities. 

Thank God for your deep belly laughs, your big cheesy grin and the way you liked to speed-crawl across the hardwood floor with your head down. You are coordinated, determined and always in motion. Climbing is first nature for you, which goes hand-in-hand with your rock-solid glutes. You are a lover of fine foods with a special palette for noodles and raspberries. Anytime music comes on, you stop in your tracks for a signature move: a unique mix of the booty bounce and a side-to-side sway. 

Your sister’s scooter is the current object of your affection. Scratch that: you love riding on, sitting on, chewing on or being near anything that is Maisley’s, including the legend herself. I love seeing you two together. You make Maisley brave and she does the same for you, and my sisters do the same for me. You will always be your own person with your own preferences, but her steady influence will also be your guide. Someone to test the waters so you can later jump in with ease.

One day, at any moment, you will enter toddler-hood. I now know what that means – for better, for worse – but until then, your sweet self can do no wrong. I wish I could wrap you up in a baby carrier onto my heart forever, tied just as you are now so that I can come here anytime I need to feel your silky smooth skin, thick auburn hair, determination, goofy-loving heart and life-giving courage.

Poppi didn’t cry often, but he got choked up when he first heard your beautiful name. You were named after Grandma Joan, his mom. She was a loud-whistlin’, fun-lovin’ lady who made a mean broccoli chicken casserole, hosted the best parties and always had a trick up her sleeve. She was a bright light, just like you are. In addition to loving your name, Poppi loved holding you in his arms any chance he got, soaking up your calming, Heaven-sent presence. Even though you only knew him for a short time, he is a part of you and forever your trusted angel advisor.

Just like we all the know the story about Aunt Linny eating a cigarette butt when she was little, you will reluctantly grow up hearing about the time you ate dog poop. Though, I hope the stories you hold onto at your core are the ones about how you didn’t stop laughing and smiling from the day you learned how. I hope you see photos of your baby self that reflect your patience and optimism. I hope you hold onto the moments where you gave me strength when I didn’t think I had anything left. I hope you have beautiful babies when you grow up and understand how much bigger the love is than any frustration or moments of sadness.

Thank you for all that you are. We love you forever and ever my sweet baby Jo. 

Xoxo
Mama