Dec 20, 2012

Truth to Share

Women and Children.

I know all too well how all the words fall short in the wake of a tragedy.  We are a nation in grief for the little children and their beloved, martyred teachers.   For the parents who bought presents that will go  unopened on Christmas morning.  For the families whose holiday plans have changed from festival to funeral.

We are a nation trudging through, a little slower from the weight of sadness.

There has been some controversy over whether or not to tell young children.  More specifically, whether it is even possible to shield them from something that is so widespread in conversation and media.

I could not shield my child from the news that his sister died.  I could not shield my child from the reality that Daddy moved out.  I didn't mince words.  I explained things in terms he could understand, I left the conversation open, I let my sadness show.  We handled it.

There is room here for any variety of opinions, and I trust each parent to make that decision for their child.

I'm going on record here, as someone who has had experience sharing life's tragic events with my little child, that I see no reason to share what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary with my first-grader.  And for awhile there I didn't think I was going to have a choice.  I was, and am prepared to have any length of discussion with him about it if he hears about it.  I'm not worried about that.

The truth is, no amount of Security or Gun Control can guarantee our safety.  That is the reality.  The awareness, the dwelling on thoughts that horrific things can and did happen to the most innocent people, is not going to benefit Shane in any way.

I appreciate his school so much.  More than before.  And I am  IN LOVE with his teacher.  And I'm glad they will begin lock down drills in January, telling the kids it's to be prepared if a skunk should be running down the hall.  Can we take a moment to appreciate how precious that is?

So glad, and yet I understand that in the event of a real emergency, there may still be casualties.

This morning I told my son all the truth he needs to arm himself in preparation for any catastrophe.  I told him that if he ever needs help and I'm not there, to remember that his angels are always there, and ready to help him.  That he can ask for whatever help he needs.  And that even when I'm not with him, my love is always with him.  And that no matter what happens, he will be great.

Nov 22, 2012


It is usually easy for me to be thankful.  Here in Missouri, with all the cousins, aunts, brothers.  I want to enjoy this.  I'm just feeling sorry for myself.  Everyone else here is a two-parent family.  It's embarrassing to me that my family is incomplete.  It's lonely.  And it makes me feel so angry.  Last year I was single too, not officially just separated, like I am still.  I was so euphoric to be freed from so much ridiculous tension in the house, that somehow it didn't feel this hard.

It has taken a long time for that euphoria to wear off.  And knowing now about the sham, and the fact that I stupidly believed in something that was so obviously not so, makes me want to vomit.  I wish I could go back in time about 13 years, and make better decisions.  I want desperately to move out of this place in my mind.  I'm stuck here.  My mind feels like a caged animal searching furiously for the exit.

I am a sea mammal, living my life in the water, in which I cannot breathe.  I need to swim to the surface, where I can see the horizon, the sun's white light, and take in some air.  I need that moment of surface time, communing with God.  To remember that I am his child, that I am loved, and that there is a beautiful plan and purpose to my life.

Even though in this moment, it looks like I'm the one that got left out of the plan.

Nov 10, 2012

Thankful for It All

Well, I stumbled upon some information this week that I should have been prepared for.  I wasn't surprised, but neither was I prepared.  This information confirmed the status of the relationship between someone who was once my husband and someone who was once my friend, his female roomate. 
Duh, I know.

OK, so, I'm not ready to write this. Check back in a few days.

OK, I'm back.

I am so thankful that the truth is finally in the light. I found out so serendipitously, there is no question that the Angels were involved.

I am angry.  I am hurting.  I thought I had grieved this thing fully already.  Acceptance of this additional tidbit to my life story, is hard.  Accepting this state of affairs brings new pain to my perspective of our marriage and its ending.  I realize how soft I've been, how easily manipulated.  How unfair I've been to myself, you know, because I was concerned about being fair to someone else.  Fair is fair to both parties.  And now that I have more of the facts about what is going on, that's how it will be from now on.

Since Brynn died, I get told a lot about how strong I am. I am kind of tired of everyone talking about how strong I am. I want to be like everyone else, looking at someone else's story thinking how they could never handle it. I don't know how anyone defines strength. I don't think I've ever tried to be strong. I let my tears come. Watching my kids play. While driving. Over green tea at Panera. I don't push the pain out. I feel it, and whisper gentle comforts to myself.

What I do, when my thoughts wander into that house down the street, is gently bring myself back to my own life.  I am in my house, and this story is about me.  Not them.  If my mind keeps sneaking off to wander into someone else's house, then it's being unfaithful to its purpose.  I gently, patiently remind myself, and bring myself back to my highest and best.  It feels like breaking an addiction.  

I know Jesus is quoted as saying "Deny Thyself."  That seems to get confused into "Don't Love Thyself."  Not loving yourself is a much less efficient road, and doesn't lead to good places.  I lovingly, patiently, sweetly deny myself from lingering in the places of my mind that postpone healing.

I am in the business of bringing honor to my sons and daughter, thereby honoring all things. Honor honors everything, and Fair is Fair to everyone. Not everyone chooses this path.

I am glad for all of this crap.  Because you, nor I, know how strong we are until we have to shovel through some of life's crap.  A friend likens all of this crap in life as manuer, which seasons and turns to compost, which nourishes all the growing things in our garden. And the work of grief, like shoveling compost, strengthens us.  And the strength that I've gained affords me a deeper well from which to draw happiness and peace.  My prayer life, I wouldn't trade it for anything. 

I know that you can be just as strong.  I recommend starting by mustering up some love for yourself.

Nov 4, 2012

Politically Speaking

So sick of all the election drama?  I am too.  First of all, I don't understand how people believe any of what either party is saying.  Both sides are willing to go to great lengths to get votes.  It seems like both Mitt and Barack have decided that too much is at stake to publically connect with their core beliefs.  It is far from being that simple.

I don't watch the debates because I don't see how being a good public speaker, or being good at making your oponent look bad, has anything to do with being a good leader.  Charisma is nice, but can be very deceiving.  For that matter, I am not interested in anyone's platforms, or any other style of shoe that may be presented to the voters in order to win them over.  Its all buzz words, one-liners, words that a team of experts craftily string together in order to make the candidate relatable to the majority of voters.  Its amusing how everyone gets so swept up in their own side, without any real understanding.  The purpose of the campaign is not to educate, its to gain votes.  We are responding to propaganda.

Both parties appeal to our fears in order to win. I'm afraid Big Bird will lose his job. I'm also very afraid of losing funding for education. You might be afraid that your hard-earned dollars are being taken to support the lazy lifestyle of someone who should be earning their own money, rather than living off of yours.  Perhaps that lazy person doesn't even legally belong here. I get that.

(that guy offering to help us pack is a Native American, get it?  his headress didn't make the cut-off)

That said, I'd like to share how I survived the last 14 months as a single mom of a baby and little kid.  I am the recipient of Federal Aide.  I am willing and able to work, and I spent months applying for every job I remotely qualified for that would enable me to be relatively close to my babies for the majority of hours in any given day.  That plan has not panned out yet, and I'm cool with that.  I've got angels, and people, and thanks to your tax dollars, my children are clothed, warm at night, and well-fed. 

These funds have kept us physically afloat, and perhaps more importantly, gives me peace. In a confusing, scary, and horribly insecure time in my life, Federal Aide took care of me. Federal Aide was there for me.

Specifically, Obama's Home Affordable Program.  If you don't know about this, it is such a pleasure to introduce you to this brilliant assistance for those of us, and our numbers grow daily, who find it impossible to keep up with our mortgage payment.

If you have had hardship leading to reduced household income, and your mortgage is backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, the Home Affordable Program has options, reducing your mortgage to 2% for the life or the loan.  Contact your lender for more information.

I have personally benefitted from this president's leadership.  And that is real testimony.

Oct 18, 2012


Sometimes I feel an external pressure that I don't make great enough efforts to preserve my child's innocence. 

In some circumstances, like when it comes to TV, I have been conciously making an effort to change the channel before Spongebob ends and Victorious, or any other teen dramedy begins and sucks him into the cool zone.  Yesterday, I made a quick switch from Nickelodeon to National Geographic just in time for Shane to witness the dramatization of a mysterious river monster pulling a bathing toddler under to his demise.

Did you ever notice how much lying is required in order to preserve a child's innocence? Take Santa Claus, for example.  Why do we give all the credit away for our love and creativity, no to mention hard-earned dollars spent?  And don't even get me started on the Elf on the Shelf. 
Too late.  We got one as a gift.  This elf is supposed to move to a different location in the house every night so in the morning your kids think he is returning to the North Pole to report to Santa on their behavior.  First of all, this is psychotic behavior management.  Second of all, who remembers to move this thing every night?

After I put the kids to bed, I can't even remember my name half the time.  I tried to show Shane how they are sold in boxes at Target, asked him how they could be sold at Target if they were magical and from the North Pole.  He has his reasons still, but when it all blows up at least I can say that I tried.

They are all going to realize at some point that its a sham.  What will they think of us then?  How will we explain the great lengths we've gone to convince them of something that we know isn't true?

That, and I'm a bad liar.  And keeping up the charade is not where I want to invest my energy as a parent.

When Shane asks a question, it doesn't occur to me to make up an answer because it may be more age-appropriate than the truth.  And, can I play this card again?  His baby sister died.  I could not protect him from that, or from seeing his mother's pain and despondency.  He witnessed the tension in the home before Dad moved out.  He took it all in while we were elbow-deep in our own egos, fighting over who should make the calzones.

When I got the phone call that I didn't qualify for the home loan modification, I cried, and I didn't lie about why.  I always add that we have plenty of everything we need, and will always.  I don't want to burden him with adult problems.  I just think that I'm kidding myself if I brush him off when its clear that he has already picked up what I've been throwing down.

And now that he is starting first grade,  I am overwhelmed for so many reasons, but I feel like I'm expected to shove my anxieties deep down, to keep a brave face for him.  I do think there is some merit to that logic.  I know kids take their cues from us about whether or not a situation is safe, and I want him to take any confidence he can from my sure countenance.

I just wonder, what if we stopped pretending to have it all together in front of our kids?  What if we admit to ourselves that our kids witness things in our behavior that we'd like to protected them from?

Like, when we completely lose our shit (it happens), we accept this piece of ourselves, apologize, and set an example of how to bounce back from a tantrum?

Maybe if we allowed ourselves the full range of emotions,  instead of protecing children from our feelings, we would show them that it is safe to feel what they are feeling.  Moreso, that paying attention to our feelings can help us solve problems and lead us to better situations.

What if our children didn't feel hushed for their inquiries into territories we deem as inappropriate for them?  My belief is that our children would grow more comfortable in their own skin, more comfortable with us, and more comfortable here on the planet.  Just plain more comfortable.  ok?

The Better Choice

All this election business.  My impression is that many Christians see being Republican as the Christian thing to be.  That the two go together.  I'm going to be honest for awhile here, and it may offend everyone on either side.  Republicans scare me.  I don't like war.  I'm afraid of people that promote it.  I also feel that sharing what you have with those in need versus keeping it all for yourself, is the Godly choice. 

Speaking of Choice. Here goes...

Wait, I'm going to back it up a bit.  Those crazy old men and their definitions of consentual, "easy" rape versus legitimate rape is so infuriating that rather than enter into that discussion, I choose to sit back and enjoy their public embarrassment.  I'm glad they got "caught" by the media.  And I'm glad for the outcry and the conversations that it is starting.

I don't want those old men passing legislation regarding my rights to my own body.  I get that.  Yet, as I sit here, far away from those stupid old guys and their insane beliefs and their legislative power that makes this even more insane, as I sit here with my own body and my own thoughts, I am overcome with dedication to a cause that doesn't feel like a political stance in the least.

Even so, it feels a little uncomfortable to share, in the wake of this media storm, and more importantly to me, in contrast to many of the women that I most closely relate to, that I am pro-life.

I am pro-life because I believe a decision based on love is always better than a decision based on fear.  Love is not convenient, or planned, but I am sure its always the right direction.

The language of pro-life feels more honest to me. Really, an unplanned pregnancy is a growing person.  There may be a tiny little feminist growing inside of you, making every attempt to telepathically communicate to you that she is interested in her own rights to make decisions over the course of her life.  A tiny feminist whose cuteness if you let her grow will change your life forever.

 A Life is so much more than one choice. An unplanned pregnancy maybe a huge bump in the road, careening your life off course.  I've had my share of bumps, and here is the choice by Grace at long last that I have been able to make: To accept the new course. To connect with the blessings of each road bump. To open myself up to each accosting growth opportunity that the unraveling of dreams can present.

I am pro-life because I care more about the baby than I do a mother's freedom to choose.   There is great wisdom in accepting responsibility for consentual participation in the creation of your child.  I believe that there is deep healing when a mother gives herself over to caring for her new life.  I believe that the decision to allow an unplanned pregnancey to fulfill the life that's already begun, is as much a step toward more fully living your own life.  I feel that the decision to terminate a consentually happened-upon pregnancy could be a step away from your highest and best.

I am pro-life because I am for children.  I believe that our children come to heal us, to help us grow, and to deepen our understanding of life.  I believe that a decision to keep a baby is a decision that will always benefit the mother, and so many other lives as well.  I will take your unplanned baby.  Seriously, give them to me.

I don't want to take someone's right to choose.  But in my humble opinion, there is a better choice.  And choosing well will ultimately add joy to the planet.  To infinity.  And beyond :)

I am pro-life because in my life, I know that heaven is waiting to connect with you, and ready to help you.   I am living proof that divine help is ours for the asking. You can choose LIFE. I believe in you. And I'm not the only one.

Aug 24, 2012

For Whatever I'm Worth

Sometimes when I write an entry, I have a hard time making my point.  It might take three or four entries until I see where I've been trying to go.  So, all this talk about faith versus anxieties over income, yada yada (did I spell yada right?), came to a point today:

How I was raised, how many of us were raised, somehow gave us this belief that we have no inherent value.  That we have to work hard to somehow make up for the fact that we exist.  We must perform and be evaluated to determine our worth, if any.

So, now I'm trying to live in the belief that I have inherent worth.  I'm not doing nothing over here, mind you.  I'm doing all the things, morning, noon, and night, to attend to all the needs and many of the whims of my precious children.   I want to enjoy these moments but I often feel blocked by the worry.  Yet, it makes me feel very uncomfortable not to be worrying about increasing my dollar value.  It makes me uncomfortable not to be worrying.  That is some good insight right there.

I am also struggling with the false belief that is the cousin to the previously mentioned false belief:  That I can't get anyone to stay with me.  Everyone, eventually, will smell my disgusting soul stench and abandon me. Geez, that's embarrassing to admit.

So, if my words ever seem over-confident here, understand that I am largely writing to encourage myself up out of the mucky muck.

Here is Big Sister Me's words to Little Sister Me tonight:  You are on a journey.  Have patience, you have plenty of time.  God has not forgotten you.  You attract beings to love and who love you, until the relationship no longer serves your highest good.  As you grow, you attract higher loves, deeper, more capable loves.  Your disgusting soul stench disappears the instant you realize it doesn't exist.

One Kick Butt Summer

Click here to view this photo book larger

I remember signing yearbooks at the end of each school year.  Everyone, every year, wrote the same thing:  "Have a kick ass summer."  Well, I finally did.

We were able to afford to do lots of amazing things, thanks to Living Social deals, coupons, craigslist, and packed lunches.

I wanted to commemorate it. I made this book for Shane to highlight the special events of our amazing summer.  I included (all low quality, I'm afraid) pictures from our Storyland vacation, surfing at Nantasket beach, taking dad on a brunch cruise for Father's Day, and some of my favorite times, just hanging out in our yard.  I made it for free through a promotion by joining The Baby Center, and then Shutterfly offered me Ten bucks to post it to my blog, so here ya go!
Turn your favorite photos into a photo book at


Aug 21, 2012

Lonely on the ark.

"Maybe God wasn't talking about a literal flood.  Maybe he meant a flood of knowledge, or a flood of awareness.."

"If that's true.  I'm going to be so pissed."

I can relate to Evan's sentiment.  Sometimes I feel like the lonely girl, standing around on this crazy boat all by myself, waiting for my miracle. 

I do believe in Jesus. I take the Bible literally.  It feels a little lonely here sometimes.  Sometimes I feel like if someone professes to believe in Jesus,it is assumed that they also shame people of other beliefs, and vote Republican.

More and more people seem to migrate towards the "spiritual but not religious" category.  I know many members of this group were raised in the Church.  Traumatized by their upbringing by Christians, in their families maybe.  Maybe these individuals were disillusioned by the Christian name to the point that they threw the baby Jesus out with the bathwater.  (clever, I know)

A close friend and I were discussing our beliefs.  Paraphrased, she was saying that the Bible is a historical novel, and the problem with taking it literally is that you base your feelings of right and wrong on something that is from an antiquated time period.  Women were property back then, don't you know.  That's a good point.

But I want to believe, I do believe, I'm allowed to believe that all the stories in the Bible are true, and still walk away with a love for Jesus, and gay people, and Jewish people, and even the Republicans ;).  

I don't find anything in the Bible that makes it OK to shame others. Or even ourselves. Pray instead of worry, love love love.  I absolutely don't have all the answers.  I don't even want all the answers.  I just have my Faith.  And I want to live as though my purpose here is to love.  It's a challenge, because I have grown accustomed to other, less lovely feelings.

Aug 18, 2012

Looking at Birds

People are worried.  I'm getting that feeling.  I've alluded to the fact that I haven't made a house payment in over a year.  And I don't have a job.  Friends have been asking, nudging, stating what I could do for work.  I sense that I'm making people nervous. 


My whole life, I have taken on big responsabilities. I gave my all to my employers, I dressed to impress, my numbers were good. I have always been motivated to make the most money for my time. Now that I have small children so much moreso. Now that I engage in the work of creating a healing home environment for myself and said children, my price per hour raises all the more.

I am willing to work.  And I have recently, often, looked for work.  I have feverishly applied for every job on craigslist that I remotely qualify for. I search the new jobs in my area at several times a week.  It occurs to me, as I attach resumes to emails that highlight my marketable skills, that this feels like a stressful waste of energy.  It feels like giving up, and makes me feel nervous, and anxious, and like I am flirting with sacrificing what is best for my family out of fear.

I consider that I would reach my goal faster by sitting in my rocking chair with a cup of tea and remind God of what I need, and remind myself of all the wonderful possibilities.

I know, that me + single motherhood + job stress = more yelling at my children = unhappy life.  So, I need an income-generating activity that not only pays very well per hour but that is also an activity that reduces stress.

Buttttt....  You may say, and there are little voices within me that agree with you, being homeless isn't good for the children either. 

Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, yet your Heavenly Father feeds them.  Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow.  They neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that King Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these...

Are you not of more value than they?  Will he not much more feed and clothe (and house) you?

Why am I not worried?  I am trying out on a new track.  My story is becoming one of the stories that I've heard about, that used to make me feel like I wasn't worthy or good enough, or that I lacked the essential nutrients to make things work out in my life.  I'm trying on a new faith.  My story is one that all works out, because I'm open to miracles.  Because I insist on them.

Therefore do not worry, for your Heavenly Father knows that you need all of these things.  Seek first the kingdom of God and all these things shall be added to you.

Aug 1, 2012

A Very Good Year

I've been a single mom for a year.  This makes me proud, excited, and depressed all at once.  I could wax poetic about it all, but I'm too darn tired.  And that, my friends, about sums it up.

I'm adding on here a few days later because I want to give justice to this hallmark.  I sacrificed a lot in marriage.  As did my husband.  Marriage is a beautiful thing, and it is also an extremely hard thing, from my experience and observation.  There was a time where I would have sacrificed anything to stay married, but I wasn't given that choice.  Now I'm grateful for that fact.  And someday I hope to be partnered up with some amazing spirit that is housed in warm flesh and blood, but for now, I am glad for the break.  Sometimes I even feel sorry for married people.

This past year started in a panicked stream of tears.  August 2, 2011 I felt untethered to the Earth, and not in a good way.  I repeated the phrase "I'm in crisis."  I asked for help.  I cheered myself up by bringing bright, colorful decor into the home. Without asking anyone.  We brought in lots more pets.  We started eating meals at the table.  I gathered around me, and was gathered into circles of friends that inspire me and support me.  I spent evenings reading books filled with wisdom and comfort.  It has been one of the best years of my life.

Jul 29, 2012

Opportunity Awaits

It all began when I shared a link on facebook showing my support for gay marriage.  I paused before I shared it because I knew that it may spawn a debate, and maybe disappoint some people that I care about to reveal the side I'm on. I have a diverse group of facebook friends.  My extended family and friends from my Evangelical private college, and varied other church affliliations, on the whole, don't support the gay lifestyle.  I italicized because I feel that's an absurd word choice, but it reflects the viewpoint of the religious right. (I saw a funny bumper sticker recently: The Religious Right are Neither.)

Most of the fb friends that I've attracted into my life in the last fifteen years are gay-lovers like me.  So, there was a little heated tit for tat happening between a psychologist friend and my beloved Uncle.  We were accused of holding the popular belief, like some flotsam and jetsom floating along wherever the social current takes us.  Well, it got me thinking about my life and views, and now I have something to say.

In my church and youth fellowships, I was taught that gay people were perverse and icky.  In college, I decided that most gay people were victims of childhood sexual abuse.  Because at that time, most of the gay people I knew were victims of childhood sexual abuse.  A disproportionately large percentage from family members who were also church leaders, I'm behooved to add.

I took a graduate class in multicultural counseling, and took on the topic of GLBT youth populations for my 30 page paper.  I had the opportunity to interview the most precious teenagers.  I fell in love with these kids,  recognizing that, at the age of 14, they were already doing the work of embracing who they were in the face of tidalwaves of external and internal opposition.  They had already stopped trying to be who they were not, and bravely listened to and followed their inner compass.  They had something that I wanted, something that alludes so many of us at any age.  Authenticity.

They sure didn't feel popular for their lifestyle choice.

According to google, GLBT youth are five times more likely to commit suicide than are heterosexual youth.  In fact, suicide is the leading cause of death for gay and lesbian youth.

I have friends who love their faith, who have created beautiful families, but are not welcome to worship in their church of choice.

Christians, we have been given the opportunity to support our fellow humans, to love our neighbor, and instead the opportunity is taken to condemn and ostracize.  Fellow lovers of Christ, this is not what we have been called to do. 

I am not interested at all in the argument of what's wrong and what's right.  Could NOT care less.  I keep plenty busy focussing on my own salvation, and on loving my neighbor.  Plenty busy.

Jul 26, 2012

Anxieties, Blessings, Etc

I was with a dear old friend, talking, like I have been to many people lately, about my feelings of anxiety.  As I described things to her, I listened to my own words like an observer, and heard my thoughts say, "No wonder you have anxiety!  How can anyone not have anxiety?"

I am OK.  My daughter is in Heaven and I'm OK.  My marriage is over and I'm OK.

But, getting to OK can HURT.  Even while connecting with all of the blessings that both of these life events provided, I think there are places within me that are highly motivated to avoid these types of pains.  One of those places is my gaspy breath-drawing part.

Furthermore, I spend all of my time with children. 

One is a screamer.  To live your life in a home with a child who is often screaming or shouting, well, it effects the nervous system.

The other one is in a phase of life in which he is a constant danger to himself.  He is also a constant danger to order, cleanliness, and home structure.  He cares not for folded laundry, the white shirt I'm wearing.  In the moment it takes to reach for a diaper, he pees on the couch.  Currently, he climbs to stand on top of the couch's backrest and leans on the window, pushing out the screen.  Constantly!  I have to wrestle him into his highchair and strap him down so I can fix meals.

And, I've said before that there is a nagging feeling that I should be more worried about money.  I think that nagging feeling is the old, unnecessary pattern that I've repeated all of my life, and it wants to stay.  Even though I don't need it anymore.  My God will provide.  I need to repeat that over and over until the worry goes away.

One of the things maybe I didn't do so well in my marriage was to show appreciation, either publicly or privately.  Well, if I tried, it didn't seem to get through.  So, in my new partnership, one of the things I feel like practicing, is showing my gratitude.  Genuinely. 

And, in the spirit of publicly sharing my appreciation, I want to speak plainly that I am a follower of Jesus.  Not a follower of the judgments and condemnations that churches professing to follow Jesus make.  It makes me sad that there is a difference, but its important to me that you know that I don't wish to be associated with any group thats about anything other than loving thy neighbor.  Even a little bit.  And that I can distinguish between the two and so fully and unashamed enter into a loving relationship with Him.  And share my appreciation for Him without fear of judgment.

I feel I have an opportunity here to share my anxieties and hurts and situations because I have absolute faith that my God will provide, and I will share that part of the story too in hopes of encouraging others.

Jul 20, 2012

Enjoying the Ride

I did something I'm really proud of.  I took my boys on a vacation to Story Land in New Hampshire's White Mountain Region, which is like Mecca for New England children.  I planned it, found discount everything and paid for it with money I still had saved from work that ended months ago. And even though I had anxieties about things going wildly wrong, nothing went wrong.  In fact, some things seemed miraculous   We played in the Ellis River, swam in the pool, drove to McDonalds with a playspace, then played in an outdoor playground, got ice cream and walked the quaint shops of North Conway, got in the car and while Noah napped we drove up the white mountains, got a bumper sticker that said This Car Climbed Mt. Washington (I've always wanted this bumper sticker!), then went to Story Land, got pizza for dinner and drove around at twilight on a self-guided Moose Tour, all in ONE day.

As I drove home last night, the kids sleeping, I got a peaceful feeling.  More than peaceful, inspired.  My anxieties were nullified.  As I go along living my life, I often wonder if I'm doing it OK.  You know, "it", as in everything.  I am constantly putting my actions on a scale, rating, wondering how am I doing ...  driving home, I got a break from that self-judgment.  I am satisfied with how I did for these three days.

This all coming together seems really significant to me.  I did this for us.  All by myself.   This was our very first family vacation.

I just reread this.  True there was no other adult in the car or hotel room with us, but I had a partner with me every step of the way, and I owe one sweet Lord some props.  Thank you, to the most sweetest partner.

Jul 15, 2012

What Crazy

So, I have faith.  Since I've been on my own, and, you know, not "working" I have less money, I guess, but because I am in control of it all, it feels like enough.  I can't remember ever feeling that way about money before.

I have faith about money.  But then, sometimes having faith feels like I'm being lazy.  If I'm not obsessing over it, then I'm not doing my part.  So then I feel guilty for being lazy.  I feel my stress level increase because for some reason feeling like I'm being lazy is just, I can't live with it.  I would rather give myself an ulcer because then at least nobody could say I didn't do anything about it. 

My belly increases from the stress hormone.  My clothes don't fit anymore, so that's another thing to be depressed about.

This is what its like to be completely insane.

Jul 13, 2012

Lightening Up

There are worse parents than me.  No doubt there are better parents than me.  But I don't know of any parent who spends more time and energy thinking about parenting than I do.  This is more a confession of psychosis than a one-upmanship.  I'm still surprised, often, at how hard this shit is.  With all my life-long love and dedication to children, with all my advocacy work, with all my education, I find myself at a loss with the job of parenting.  One of my dearest friends is battling breast cancer.  She's handled chemo, double masectomy, and now radiation.  She told me yesterday that parenting is harder than any of it!

I am working on not taking the battle of wills personally.  I engage in almost constant inner-dialogue to this effect.  "Don't take it personally, he doesn't mean it, he's just a kid, breath, take a break... Oh, you just broke his slingshot in a fit of rage... oh, the downward spiral of guilt and blame, ok try breathing again... forget it, you suck at this."

It occurs to me that all this thought and energy on my improved parenting may not be benefitting the kids one iota.  It occurs to me that the part of me so affected by how my child behaves may be my ego.  I believe in parenting with unconditional love, but I may not have the self-confidence to do that quite yet.

Recently I participated in a guided meditation.  I was following along with the imagery of the field, the sun, and the trees when I received a divine message, which I absolutely needed to receive in my life at this moment.  The Heavens had spoken, and in no uncertain terms proclaimeth unto me this lasting truth:  "You have got to lighten up."

Amen.   I spent the rest of the meditation with a huge grin and tears streaming down.

Jul 9, 2012

Partnering Up

So, I've been kind of obsessed with the idea of not being a victim.  I'm still not sure what it looks like, but I'm leaning in the direction of not taking anything personally and forgiving.  Not being a victim as a parent (yes, I have that problem) for me means staying on top of my emotions.  Remembering that although a behavior might be extremely annoying and ruin things that you love, and you may have addressed this behavior hundreds of times already that morning, that maybe the person involved with the behavior is not in fact trying to hurt you by it.  And if they are trying to hurt me, well it is in my highest and best to keep my confidence up, to stay calm, and to resist acting on my impulses.

In a dialogue about loving self-care recently,  my contributions included, "Sometimes I go to the bathroom by myself,"  and "Sometimes while in the bathroom I brush my teeth."  This is actually my strategy for coping when I'm about to lose it.  So, for all you kidless people who go to the bathroom by yourself without feeling like you may be putting a little person in danger by doing so, or that you are making a little person cry by doing so, let me just state the obvious:  parenting is hard.  Especially at bedtime.  At the moment I realize that both kids are asleep and I'm still awake (sort-of), it feels almost level to giving birth.  Ecstactic at the accomplishment, though still feeling a little beat-up by the labor.

Somehow, this all translates inward-style to feeling unsafe...  I gasp alot.  Like, over small things.  Like I've got my finger over the panic button at all times, looking for any reason to use it.

And since I seem to be rambling about things that don't really go together, here's something else:  actually fits in if you follow it through:  I feel like my culture, my country, my people do not support my values.  I am a mature, educated mother doing it alone, and I CHOOSE to be accessible to my children full time.  It feels like too much entitlement for the world.  I feel an external crowd, shouting, "Get off your ass and get a job, lazy!"

But my truth is this: it is an investment in the future of the world to raise up young people to feel whole, and to be compassionate and empathetic and most importantly loved for who they are, and they are most likely not going to get the latter anywhere I could afford to send them as a single working mother paying for childcare.  I believe strongly that it is in the highest and best for my family that I do the work of parenting full-time.  And if I have energy left over that I use it to create a loving home environment, and last but not least spend some quiet moments listening to my inner leadings.

What's ironic is that I'm not really worried about money, I'm worried about the fact that I'm not worried about money, and that is so unlike me.  And, I understand that not paying for my house is not a long-term solution.

As I lay my head down, I ask God to protect us, and I open myself up to heaven's help.  Recently, I have these thoughts:  The work of raising up and supporting a family is a two-person job.  I don't have a partner.  I am so utterly fulfilled by being with my children, that it does not make sense to me to consider doing it another way.

Here's a message I received:

"Let me be your partner.  And, you need to forgive yourself for the breakdown of your marriage.  You need to let go of the responsibility that you feel for that.  You need to let go of the guilt you feel associated with raising up your children in a single-parent household.  You are leading a quality life here.  Let me be your partner.  Leave the finances to me."


Jun 13, 2012

Thou Shalt Not Be a Victim

So, last week's fishy funeral kind of sent me down a spiral.  There's a lot of this phrase being thrown around these days: Don't be a victim.

What does it mean to not be a victim?  What does it look like?  Someone's nipping you to death, someone is killing you, how do you not be a victim?  Sometimes (now) I feel like everyone's victim.  I see myself operating from this wounded place.  So determined was I after my fish died to not be the victim, that I found myself acting defensively all the time.  Yelling at people.  My children.  Their father.  For stupid things, like being loud or asking me a question I didn't think was any of my business anymore.  Things I've seen myself handle way better when I wasn't trying so hard.

Most of the time, I do great, I skip through it all singing Tra la la.  Until something happens that reminds me that this crap is hard.  This happened at a Mother's Day show where mom storytellers shared little glimpses into their experiences.  It was intended to celebrate us.  It was intended to help us all feel less alone.  I let myself see a glimpse of how hard life is, and I start to panic.

How do I use this time wisely?  I pay attention to my thoughts and feelings.  I look behind the panic, the defense.  I see that my energy is running low.  I see that I need to assure myself that I am safe.  That I am doing it.  Even when I feel like I'm not doing it right, I am still doing it well.

Prayer helps. Cutting back the caffeine helps. A nice long break works every time, if you can get one.

Jun 7, 2012

Participating in Natural Selection

Taking a lot of lessons from fish lately.  When Jimmy left, he left two large fish tanks.  I learned how to clean and care for them, and I've made them mine and have added live plants, and gotten new fish to live among them.  Its beautiful, and peaceful, and maybe my favorite thing in the livingroom. 

A few weeks ago while shopping for hamsters in our beloved downtown pet store that was going out of business, I fell in love with a jewel cichlid.  She was pink and orange, with light green sparkles all over her body and fins.  Everything girlish feels like Brynn reaching out to me, reminding me that its awesome to be pink and sparkly.

For some reason, although the tank was full of jewel cichlids, I wanted that one.  She was mine.  I loved a fish.  So much did I love her, that I went back to the pet store as they were moving out, and asked if I could pay cash for one more.  This one was even more colorful, and slightly bigger.  I shall refer to this 2nd fish as "he."

Within a few hours of acclamaiting to his new home, he began chasing our girl jewel cichlid.  Some of this is normal.  But he was really fast.  Faster than any fish we'd had.  And he was relentless. And fast.  I can only imagine how exhausting it is to be pursued so relentlessly at such high speed.  The next morning, it continued, though now my beautiful girl just stayed in a corner.  She stopped trying to get away.  She had given up.  Her fins were tattered from all the nipping.  He swam up to her whenever he felt like it and pushed her up on her side.  He was killing her slowly.  I spent a lot of my time yesterday with the net in the tank, trying to keep him away from her.  I didn't know what else to do.

I'm aware of natural law.  It occurs to me that animals hurt and  kill other animals.  It occurs to me that somebody murdered the turkey I ate on whole grain bread yesterday.  But I felt a flush of rage everytime I looked into the tank.  He could have been her mate.  They could have been partners.

I was not surprised to find her dead this morning.  Heavy hearted that I stood by and let it happen.  Heavy hearted that I witnessed her suffering and didn't save her.  Upset that Shane was witness to any more of nature's cruelty.  Something inside me stirred, I felt overwhelmed by it.  My beautiful girl, though initially remembrant of Brynn, now represented me.  Nipped to death.  Floating alone, letting everyone hurt me.  Mortal victim to a thousand little injustices.  A thousand subtly threatening gestures.  A thousand nuances stored in my memory.  Internalized and multiplied into Millions of anxious and self-deprecating thoughts.  Thoughts that have been running this show for far too long.  It's too late for my sparkly jewel cichlid.  But I'm going to let my anger thrash me free before its too late.  I'm going to bite back.  I'm going to feel safe in my skin.

He was hanging out in the tank now.  We noticed that every so often, he would nip at our other fish, with that same confidence and speed.  Shane and I talked about it.  A decision was made.  We captured him in the net.  We flushed him down the toilet.

May 8, 2012

But Its Hard to Stop Eating Bananas

"You might consider how it can sometimes seem as if a great deal of what it means to be human has been stripped from our daily lives and how something as simple as the way we eat has the potential to restore so much of what we've lost." Ben Hewitt, The Town that Food Saved.

I've been thinking a lot about what it means to be human lately, and I can't stop thinking about this quote from the book I've just finished. Just before that one, I read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. Both teach a lot about farming, and this national food crisis that still too few people care about. What? We're in a national food crisis?

Consider how much irreplaceable fossil fuel is used to bring bananas to every town in America, even during seasons when there is plenty of fresh fruit in a given region, waiting to be picked.  Or how much it costs in today's gas prices, to bring all the produce from California to the Northeast. Consider why it costs so much less to buy that food from California than it does to buy food grown locally at a farmer's market. Who's growing that food in California, and how are they doing it so cheaply? We can thank the families of illegal immigrants who are willing to toil for slave wages, for growing most of the food that America eats. The real crisis, even worse than those things, is that a few giant companies have a monopoly on how crops are grown, and they are overproducing a few crops like corn and soy in a way that ravages the soil, yielding thousands of acres of current farmland to be wasteland in the near future. The solution seems to be for more average, every day people to start growing food.

Sounds good to me. Its interesting that the way we've grown accustomed to getting food now leads us away from the humanity of food. We like the package. We like the price. We like the taste. It seems like we've lost the appreciation that food keeps us alive. That we depend on food, and that food depends on the land, and people to grow it.  The people growing our corn and soy, and raising most of the meat, aren't putting any love in it.  There's a vulnerability there, that's hard to admit. Hunger feels vulnerable.  You and I did not create the giant corporations, or drive the Chiquita truck from El Salvador to Rode Island. But, now that these issues expose themselves to us, lets let them sink in for awhile, gently nudging ourselves back toward a more human existence.

May 7, 2012

The Circle

I'm following this path toward a more fully engaging human experience, and I believe doing so has attracted a circle of women into my life that is so supportive, it makes me feel nervous.  I feel so excited it scares me, like falling in love.  Here's a story about that:

I have a little hernia that I am to have surgery to fix this Friday, May 11.  I asked my parents to come help with the kids, and Jimmy is nearby and willing to give extra help with them as well.  So, since that was all in place, my anxiety should subside.  But I felt so fearful.  I allowed myself a good cry, and spent some time entertaining those nagging feelings.  The truth that came out is that I felt so alone.  Asking for help is hard, and I was already depending on everyone I thought I could depend on, for the kids.

So,  I was stunned when, moments after my good cry, I read a message from a newish friend, asking if she could come with me.  She wanted to insist.  She has small children, but a mutual friend had offered to watch them, to support the first in supporting me.  It may not seem like much.  In my hour of need these offerings literally shocked me. 

A place opened in me that had been closed for some time.  A wounded place.  I was having such a strong reaction.

I'm sitting here, trying to think of words to explain how it feels.  I take care of my boys.  I adore being with them.  I can handle being a single mom all day. And, I know I have friends and family that love me, even though I may go weeks without seeing a friend, and months without seeing my family.  There is an intimacy that I long for.  I can't seem to get there with people, in spite of my best efforts.  I take what I get, and I appreciate it.  And I do understand.  I myself desperately wanted to go with my friend to chemotherapy this past winter.  I would make a plan to go and things on my end fell through every time.  I wanted to show up for her.  I did other things, whatever I could think of to give her a little boost, but I'm just saying, I know as mothers of small children, it can be very difficult to show up for your friends.

But in my quiet, reflective moments, I can admit that sometimes, I could use more care.  And, wouldn't it be nice if, sometimes, I didnt have to seek it out for myself.   I feel like, after getting the kids squared away, I can't afford to have anyone caring for me.  I just don't have enough close people to go around.  That's not the truth, but that's my slanted belief.  My wound.

The sisterhood insisted on supporting me.  I didn't have to ask.  They just showed up for me. It feels vulnerable.  I'm going to sit here with my feelings of vulnerability, and not do anything to relieve this discomfort.  What if we could get used to feeling vulnerable again?  What would that do to our relationships?  Heaven sent me a message, through these women who are amazing vessels of love. 

You are not alone, baby

Apr 23, 2012


My spirit daughter is over two years old. Someone I hadn't seen in longer than that,  delicately asked how all that had been for me.

Looking back, I can quickly admit that I am a happier person because of the perspective I've gained.  I'm happier than I've ever been.  I'm honestly grateful for the experience.  Loving Brynn, and experiencing that deep sorrow, and exposing my most desperate self has softened me. I have been largely freed from worries. I survived what I thought I could never survive.  So I will survive it all, until I don't, and then it won't matter. 

Until Brynn died, I was unsure that people could really communicate with the dead.  But now its undeniable.  She is with me.  I hesitate to talk about it, because its hard to understand until you've experienced it.  Years ago, I would have thought the suggestion to be unchristian.  Here's how I can best describe it.  When Brynn died, the top of my head opened in direct connection with heaven.  I moved closer to heaven, and heaven moved closer to me.  I just know now.

Last night Noah was taking my tea cup to his mouth and making sounds with it, then he'd put it to Shane's mouth, then my mouth, and around again.  I thought about when I bought that mug, an earthy blue, that it reminded me of the baby I carried within, a most serene being.  Its my Noah mug.  I thought about how happy my then me would be to see this sight, the three of us, laughing and playing with it.  My happy, adorable, children with bodies that I can hold, cheeks I can press mine against.  I don't miss one moment like this.  Every moment like this makes me grateful.  This perspective is Brynn's gift to me.

I am an unemployed single mom, with one ghost baby, and I'm completely in love with my life.

Apr 7, 2012

When we See What we See

Weekends can be tough for the single parent.  It feels like everyone else is having family time.  Some days, I want to have something family-fun to do so badly, it gets overwhelming.  And, I really must take care not to add any unnecessary whelm to my already overwhelmed brain.

A few weekends ago I thought of the herring run.  Every spring, adult herring swim from the ocean upstream to make babies in fresh water by the droves.  They often jump out of the water in their enthusiasm for the trip.  It's an event that draws a nature-loving crowd. 

We had been sick.  The swine flu took us down one by one, recovery was sloow.  I was out of work for two weeks, which, indirectly cost me my job.  I did not see that coming.

So there I was on a Saturday morning, having hardly left the house at all for the past month, and really wanting to leave the house.  Someone on facebook mentioned that seagulls were hovering around the watershed in middleboro, hoping to catch some herring, so that was it, we jumped in the Grand Caravan hot on the trail.  By the way, I love that name for a car.  Grand Caravan.  How regal, how caravanny.  How Grand!

Well, we stopped at one place first.  None.  I drove on into Plymouth, I knew the place that never failed to reveal herring.  Fail!  I pushed the sit and stand stroller with my gigantic child and baby the length of the river ( I have a feeling "river" isn't the correct technical term).  Then we returned to the herring hot spot.  We maybe saw a handful of blurred fish parts.  Not enough to impress.  Shane was annoyed. 

I love being in Plymouth, and I was so happy to keep pushing my heavy children up the street to an awesome little coffee shop called Kiskadee for some hot chocolate and pastry, as consolation prize.

The Grist Mill, aka herring run hotspot, was on the way back to the car so we decided to stop one last time.  I was enjoying the pace of the day, and that everyone was still happy just wandering, doing nothing, really.  Nobody was whining or wanting to leave.  This felt so significant to me.  And then, we saw them.  Hundreds. We could suddenly make out that every ripple in the water was actually a fish.  There were so many fish, we had previously seen their outlines as little waves.  Now, I could not find a space in the water without a fish in it.  I was overcome.  There's a lesson here for me.

We see what we see when we're meant to see it.  Could it be that, without a job or its income, there is an overabundance all around, which will make itself available to me in God's time?  Could it be, that through all of the difficult change our family has undergone, I may have failed to notice all the blessings connecting themselves to us?

I recently read to Shane the story of the fishermen whom had been fishing all night and had caught nothing.  Exhausted, they humored a man they had just met named Jesus, who told them to put the nets back in the water.  And they caught so many fish the nets were ripping apart!  I'm on that train.  This is my story.  Wait and see, my friends.

Mar 21, 2012

Wind in the Willows

I was reading to Shane tonight.  By some sweet circumstance, I got Noah to bed earlier and it was just Shane and me.  This fact made me giddy, its far too rare a seen nowadays, and the simplicity of earlier years flooded me with nostalgia.

Before school.  Before I worked.  Before Jimmy's injury or layoffs.  Before a 2nd and 3rd pregnancy, before the death and the birth of a new sibling.  Before our marriage ended.

Shane and I would snuggle in my bed in the middle of the day and I would read him The Wind in the Willows.

He asks me tonight why it has that title.  I read from the last sentance of the first chapter, where Mole was relaxing in his boat, just listening to the wind blowing through the willow trees, sure that he could make out what the wind was whispering.  I explain that it was a simple and peaceful time, when there were no other cares but to listen to the sounds of nature around you. 

I feel a lump in my throat.  We have been through some hard times.  Times that have taken us so far from those innocent days.  Through it all, I kept going, what else can anyone do?  But tonight, maybe mostly for Shane's sake, I feel a sadness wash over me.  And I long for that simple time every once in awhile.  Reading books to Shane under the covers in the middle of the day.

Feb 27, 2012


Yesterday was Forgiveness Sunday in the Orthodox Church.  Its traditional for the entire congregation to form a receiving line, so to speak, each member asking forgiveness in case they've done anything to offend the other.  It is so beautiful, though  I've been too shy to attend one of these services for a long time.

One of the questions that keeps resurfacing for me since the beginning of the end is Whose to blame?  I'm a responsable person.  I like responsability so much, that sometimes I take it all for myself.  Whose to blame? I sit around and think about all the things I could have done differently.
The power of forgiveness, is that when we focus on it, then it doesn't matter at all whose to blame.  We are both forgiven.  I wish I could inject this message into every region of my heart and mind.  I will, eventually.  It is in my highest and best not to blame.  Not my husband, not my parents, not myself.  But to forgive my husband, my parents, myself.

The power of forgiveness is that it grants the freedom to move forward at quantum speed.  I feel weighed down by my inability to forgive myself, just in general, but I will keep my focus there until it is acheived.  Because I can see that being weighed down with blame isn't good as a parent.  I see it affecting my function as a parent.  I see it affecting my child.  And I will not lose one more member of this family. 

So, I will work to forgive as though my life, and stronger still, the lives of my children depend on it.  Because they do.

Feb 23, 2012

The Gift

In his book, The Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz says a lot of crazy things.  Really wise, spiritual things, but so far out, so surreal.  As I read, at times my mind feels lost, but once, my eyes trailed on a group of words that felt like they were just for me.

       If someone is not treating you with love and respect, it is a gift if they walk away from you.  If the person doesn't walk away, you will surely endure many years of suffering with him or her.  Walking away may hurt for awhile, but eventually your heart will heal. .. But if you are truthful with yourself, you will save yourself a lot of emotional pain.

Oh, it hurt for awhile.  I think about some of the phone calls I made over the summer, and I have to laugh.  I was freaking out.  I was sobbing to new friends and old.  In public.  Sometimes it isn't pretty, but, being unashamed of how fallen apart we feel, diving into the wreck, so to speak, speeds up healing. I speak from experience.

I do believe that its all a gift.  Jimmy and I were in love, and we both put a lot of effort into the relationship.  Life threw us a few, more than a few curve balls, and things slowly crumbled.  A choice was made, it wasn't mine.  Even so, I'm grateful for what he was able to give.  I forgive, and I ask his forgiveness.  It stung unbelievably, but my heart is healing.

I went to a birthday party last month. I love the parties that Kerri throws for her girls. The pinatas are something I'll always remember. They are paper grocery bags, stapled together, with a colored print-out of the party theme taped to it. We made musical instruments out of paper towel rolls. Down home. Anyway, I was chatting with a mom whose also one of Kerri's nearest and dearest, assuming she knew about my latest crisis. We talked about having more kids, and somehow it became apparent that she didn't know. After we talked about it for awhile, she said something that I knew to be true as well. She said she could tell I was lighter. I seemed light. I feel light.

Feb 20, 2012

Taken Me a Long Time to Get Back Here

I like confession.  I love it.  It's a useful and beautiful tool we have in the Orthodox church.  There's no penance.  Just, before God, tell me what is on your heart. 

During my most recent confession, my priest told me that this, confession, was actually a requirement for someone in my position, in order to, I don't know how he worded it, but get back "in" because my marriage has ended.  Marriage, he said, is a state of grace, and you are no longer in a state of grace.

Funny, it felt to me like the opposite was true.  In fact, talking to my mom over Christmas, I used that exact phrase to explain why I was doing so well, accomodating, forgiving, forging ahead.  Mom, I'm in a state of grace, I said.

I had gone to confession in April, the day Jimmy told me our marriage was over.  I went to confession as a way of taking full responsibility for my part in the failure, to own up to all that I'd done to drive him away.  In the months that followed, I blubbered, I begged, I took the boys to give him space, time to think, time to miss us.  Nothing changed.

When he moved out in August, I was in crisis.  Overwhelmed by the feeling of rejection, triggering deep insecurities, ones that told me that there was something inherently wrong with me that rendered me unable to love and be loved.  Equally overwhelmed that I had no job, no income, and two little ones to house and feed. 

Thus the healing began.  My home is a more peaceful place, a more beautiful space, and I am thriving.

 I'm going to write about my life here, in this blog named for my daughter.  And it will bring honor to her.  Anything that is pure, from the heart, true, and shares with others so that we all feel a little less alone, honors her.  Honors us all.