The Night Before

I almost cannot stand the excitement.

I always love the night before a big event.  Often, I actually like it more than the actual event.  I usually like rehearsal dinners better than most weddings, and Christmas Eve, while not quite as great as Christmas, comes in a pretty close second.

I guess I just love the anticipation.  Once the day is here, the excitement often takes over, and we are left inebriated in an excitement-filled haze.

Today is no exception.  The girls’ excitement was nearly palpable.  All day long Magoo kept telling me that she wanted it to be nighttime so she could go to bed and wait for the Easter Bunny.  Goosie has no real idea of what is going on, but she knows it’s exciting, and she upped her energy level to match that excitement.  Mae unfortunately is a bit under the weather, but she still managed to get in some grins.

We were sitting around the dinner table tonight, and before we said “Grace” we decided to all say what we are grateful for. Magoo said the poor because she always says the poor — whether we are praying in petition or in gratitude, it’s always, always the poor.  Goosie said she is grateful for Easter.  And when it came to me, I had to pass because I was all choked up.  I couldn’t get the words out.

What I wanted to say was “THIS.”  This is what I am and will forever be grateful for.  The noise and the chaos and the overstimulation and the exhaustion and the frustration and the very, very large personalities that fill up every corner of our poor little house.

I flashed back ten years.  I flashed back to wanting to have children so desperately and never knowing if we would ever experience have them.  Never knowing if parenthood would ever come to us.  And now the experience is just so much.  So much joy and love and laughter and promise and comfort and… life.  Just so much life goes on within these four walls of our home.

And so tonight, my gratitude goes out for tonight and for all the other nights that have allowed me to live my dream.  I hope that you are living yours as well.

God bless you all and have a great Easter.

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On Lent

The way I see it, there are two types of people in this world.

There are the people who know their truth.  They study it; they learn it; they proclaim it.  Very, very loudly they proclaim it.  They are so very certain in their truth that they spread it to the world in a loud and forceful manner.  They attempt to save the world through their proclamations.  They consider it their duty to instruct through their words.  They believe passionately, and they speak passionately.  Certainty is their right hand.

Then there are the other people.  They study their truth, and they learn it.  In every way they can manage, they attempt to be more fully clothed in the truth.  And then they live it.  Very, very loudly they live it.  If presented, they will defend their beliefs and they will share them.  They will instruct.  They will always stand up for what they believe in.  But they consider it their duty to live their truth.  Passionately.  Their mouths may sometimes be silent, but always they are speaking their truth.

Unfortunately, for many years I found myself drawn to the first.  I listened to the proclamations.  I listened to the verdicts.  I listened to the overwhelming quantity and volume of the words, and because of it, I found myself doubting Catholicism.  I had spent my life in the Catholic Church.  I had seventeen years of Catholic education.  But I found myself listening to voices that were contrary to what I had always been led to believe.  In contrast with a discerning spirit and a ear for truth, I found myself blindly following the loud outspoken words, and I began to believe there was no place for me in the church that I considered home.  And I left for quite a few years.

This was all on my mind tonight while Magoo and I sat at the Good Friday service this evening.

I was thinking about two things, seemingly unrelated, that happened to me this week.

1.  I learned that not all Christians celebrate Lent and the Holy Triduum.

2.  My pastor sent out an email equating his joy with Holy Week to that of a kid at Disney World.

The first was surprising to me.  I guess being a cradle Catholic and going to Catholic school for all of those years kept me pretty much entrenched in a world of Catholicism.  Looking at a sampling of my friends to this day will confirm that — the overwhelming majority of them are Catholic.  But with this newfound knowledge, a brief wave of jealousy washed over me.  I already knew that not all denominations gave up meat on Fridays, but now I was learning that they didn’t all celebrate Lent or give things up for Lent.  Yea, the petty worldly side of me reacted like a 16 year old kid, and I found myself feeling a bit put out.  Luckily though, the grown up part of my brain took over again and I started to think about Easter without Lent.

See growing up, we used to go to church on Holy Thursday and Good Friday.  I believe we started when I was in junior high or high school.  I remember those masses very clearly.  I remember the church with its stained glass windows darkened from the night outside.  I remember the somber hymns and the silence through which the bells rang.  I looked forward to those nights.  It felt intimate and familiar and comforting.

Easters, however, I don’t remember so much.  Actually, I can’t really remember a single Easter mass growing up.

But sitting in church tonight with Magoo, I found that familiar feeling wash over me again.  I felt the comfort.  I felt the presence of people that I fill the pews with every Sunday throughout the year.  I saw Magoo’s classmates who she spends her days with.  I saw the priests and the deacons who lead us in mass and Baptize my daughters and instruct Magoo in school, all standing around the alter in quiet homage to the holiness of the hour, their familiar smiles and laughs silenced by the seriousness of the moment.

And I started to realize that without Lent, what is Easter?

I remember some youth ministry masses from when I was a teenager.  I was a part of a Catholic youth group with kids from my school and other area Catholic schools.  We always felt that the masses were so much deeper, for lack of a better word, than the traditional Sunday masses.  They spoke to us.  The songs were popular songs about friendship and caring. It was centered around community.  We spoke of Jesus as Him who comes to save us and comfort us and bring us through trial.  It was about us and what God can do for us.

And so is Easter.  Yes, Easter is about the triumphant victory of God over death.  It’s about glory and salvation and eternity.   It’s the most glorious day of the year.  It’s the celebration of the victory.  But if we don’t count the cost, if we don’t venerate the sacrifice, if we don’t live in the passion, can we fully rejoice in the redemption?

And so that brought me back to my second point above.  Holy week as equivalent to Disney World.  Speaking purely theologically, this now makes sense to me.  This week of sacrifice and honor and mourning is IT.  It is what gives our lives meaning.  It’s what we can unite our sacrifices with.  It’s the remembrance of the great price that was paid for our greatest victory.

Just like childbirth is great pain culminating in a much greater joy, so too are the events that led up to that first Easter.  The point is the reward.  The promise is the victory.  But without the pain, the reward isn’t quite as sweet, isn’t quite as lived.  We become without ever going through the rite of becoming.

I am most definitely not a Catholic theologian.  Half the questions Magoo asks me, I have to send her back to her teacher, and half the questions I have, she can answer.  But what I do know is that we can go to mass on Easter, and we can sing loudly.  We can walk around the streets in our fanciest Easter dresses, and we can proclaim to anyone who can hear the glory of the season.

Or we can kneel down in the dark on Holy Thursday in front of the Sacrament.  We can pray in thanksgiving and in gratitude and in awe and in petition.  We can take the sacrifice of the Lenten season and allow it to transform us and teach us of our weakness.  We can show up on Easter Sunday and we can sing loudly and proudly.  And in our hearts, we can be absolutely still and sing out praise and thanksgiving from the recesses of our hearts.

Some people like the loud.  Some people prefer the quiet.  But the ones who speak most loudly to me are the ones who never open their mouths at all.

For me, it’s through walking the path to salvation that I am able to find the peace that will allow my mouth to be still while my actions speak the words.  It’s what allows me to find the humility to receive the reward.  It’s what teaches me that the pain must come before the victory and that there is a God out there who is willing to endure that pain to allow my redemption.

The One that Rambles A LOT

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Being an adult can be difficult.  There are responsibilities and deadlines and lot of stuff to do that just isn’t so much fun.  But very, very rarely do I ever wish to be any time or any place other than where I am right at this moment.  Because for all it’s busy and crazy and ridiculousness, my hours are punctuated with moments that are so full of absolute joy that they make my heart sing.  Momastery calls them Kairos moments.  I couldn’t say it better myself.

But every now and again, I’ll get a longing so intense for a previous time or place that my heart actually hurts for it.  Lost in the joy of the present, I’ll find myself grieving for a past that will never come again.

One such moment was this weekend.

I was killing time Saturday morning when I came across a YouTube video of the song “Dust in the Wind” by Kansas.  There’s no real reason that song should remind me of college.  It was out two decades before I reached Milwaukee and its lyrics don’t represent a single feeling I had during that time, but instantly it brought me to the streets of Milwaukee, surrounded by all the buildings and people and possibility. It just sounded like that place and that time.

The first time I heard a song that sounded like Milwaukee was during my freshman year at Marquette.  I was working in the annual fund office one Friday afternoon all by myself, my desk overlooking downtown as I stuffed envelopes to be sent to alumni.  And a song came on – “Rainy Days and Mondays”.  I remember feeling it inside of me.  I remember feeling the melancholy and the soul of the city deep within me.  It just felt like a fit.  Closing my eyes and letting the melody flow over me was like walking the streets of Wisconsin Avenue.  You can call me crazy.  I probably am.  But some songs just feel like Milwaukee.

Milwaukee is more than a city to me.  To me it represents who I was at the very time I was starting to become.  It was my first steps towards my future.  It’s where I first allowed my soul to be who I wanted to become. It’s one time I felt like I knew who I was.  And I had plenty of time to be me.  I was in college.  What else did I have to do?

And surely I would never choose to go back to that time for very long.  As much as my memories are rosy and golden hued,  it wasn’t perfect.  I was constantly afraid.  Afraid of who I was, afraid of where my future might lead, afraid of making mistakes, absolutely terrified of being alone.

But all of that is a part of me.  I’m no longer the silly little girl who always wore her hair pulled back and a turtle neck because she thought it was romantic.  I’m no loner the girl who wore all grey half the time because it reminded her of the city she fell in love with as she discovered herself.  I no longer cry at the first snow flakes of winter and rarely do I squeal with joy.

But oh how so badly I want to be some days.

These days I’m busy and frenzied and haggard.  Oftentimes I more feel like I’m filling a role than living a life.  Who I am gets lost in the shuffle of all I have to do and accomplish.  But that silly little overly emotional girl is in there still and sometimes she wants to get free.

And perhaps that’s one of the great journies we go through in life – trying to reconcile who we once were with who we are and who we want to become all the while trying to reconcile all of our responsibilities with our soul’s desire to be free.

I’ve decided that I’m not saying goodby to that girl.  To do so would be to say goodbye forever to me, to fully allow myself to be overtaken by my roles and responsibilities.

No.  What that moment reminded me was that what I need to allow myself more of is time to be me.  I need time to strip away the roles and throw off the hats.  I need time to myself when I’m not so exhausted that all I can do is flip on Dancing with the Stars.

Never again will I be as free as I was during those four years, and never again do I have to be.  I have found who I am.  I don’t need endless hours searching and I surely don’t need endless Happy Hours and After Hours.  All I need is just a few moments to sit and breathe.  To be.  To be me.

 

Mama Mess Up

“Mama, I scared [of] you.”

Those were the words my Goosie sobbed in my ear today after I yelled at her.

To be fair, I only yelled two sentences, “Goose! What are you doing?! Now it’s time out!” after I caught her pulling half the leaves off of Magoo’s shamrock plant after I had specifically told her not to touch it. And I think she was more startled than scared because if she were really scared OF me, she wouldn’t have ran into my arms for comfort.

But still…

My baby. The little girl I love and cherish and comfort and protect said those words.

I don’t shy away from disciplining the girls when they need it. My primary purpose it to help them grow up to be women of integrity. But I don’t believe in compliance through fear. I’m curt and short out of frustration, but I can count maybe one or two times I have yelled at any of them. With the curtness or the yelling, I apologize to them. I tell them that we all have a right to our anger but that no one, even mommies, has a right to act with disrespect.

I want them to trust and respect authority. I want them to trust and respect themselves.

My Goosie is a sensory kid. She likes to cuddle and experience things through her senses. She gets overwhelmed and tired sometimes from her passionate little life, and when that’s the case, she grabs her blanket and cuddles into me. For whatever reason, perhaps because I think in many ways we are so alike, we share a wavelength. Very few things in my life have calmed my heart rate like wearing her as a baby in a carrier, and the same is true for her. And today I feel as if perhaps I have fractured, if ever so slightly and reparably, that trust.

A mom is supposed to be an authority, a guide, a shelter, and a home. But today, if even for the briefest of seconds, I failed in that. I created fear instead of redemption. I scared her instead of instructed her. I helped her learn retribution rather than empathy.

And for that, many hours later, my heart is still heavy.

Please don’t get me wrong. I understand the need for boundaries and limits, but when we react in anger to those souls with whom we have been entrusted, we overstep our own boundaries and limits.

Tomorrow will be better. I’m sure of it. But tonight, I’ll lay my head and search for redemption.

No one is perfect. Especially us mamas. But how I so wish that weren’t true.

“Been Done” Lists

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I’ve decided today that instead of “To Do” lists, I should write “Been Done” lists.

It has been a fairly good day today.  No huge tantrums.  No last minute running around before school looking for a uniform or a folder or a person.  All in all, thus far I would chalk today up as a happy day.

But still I was very frustrated.  My goal since Monday has been to get our house clean.  Sounds simple enough.  We don’t have a huge house; it wasn’t trashed in the first place; I was going to be home most of the week.  But as we get farther and farther from Monday, I’m getting more and more frustrated that I am running around the entire day and yet at the end of a good day, it looks the same as it did when we woke up.  On a bad day… well, you can probably guess.

And I started beating myself up, wondering why I simply could not get it done.  After all, this moment right now is the first since I woke up at 7:15 this morning that I have been sitting down.  And then I remembered my word of the year — progress — and I started to think more about what I did today.

I looked all around, and I saw crap still on the counter, I saw new Easter dresses on the table, I saw books absolutely everywhere.  I saw laundry waiting to be laundered and another pile waiting to be folded.  The floors needed vacuuming (as they do every day,) and the little pieces of clutter that seem to accumulate everywhere needed to be purged.

What had I done all day?

But then I decided to answer that question.  I had Magoo finish her homework.  I drove her to and from school.  I read with Mae.  I played with Goosie.  I drove about 40 minutes round trip signing Magoo up for tee ball.  I answered 754 “why” questions.  I stopped Mae from eating the dog food, splashing in the toilet, running up the stairs, and eating power cords at least two dozen times.  I made her laugh.  A lot.  I got the girls set up with finishing an Easter craft, and I hung it up.  I scoured my sinks.  I picked up some toys.  I got them all down for a nap.  I made breakfast.  I gave them snacks.  I changed five diapers.  I cleaned off part of the counter.  And I made myself a cup of tea.

So yea.  I did stuff today.

Maybe some of you are awesome at goal setting.  Maybe you have realistic goals and then you work methodically to achieve them.  That’s not me.  I set absolutely unrealistic goals and then I work frantically to achieve them and then I wail on myself recklessly for falling short.

So I have recommitted myself to forgetting perfection.  I’ve decided that within five and a half hours, I cannot be the mom I want to be and still get a massive amount of cleaning done.  I can still have a nice house.  It just needs to be done at different times, and it needs to get done slowly.

And most importantly I have remembered that progress is really all any of us can hope for.

How about you?  What would be on your “Been Done” list today?

Thank You for the Chaos

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Thank you, God.

Thank you for my daughter’s thirty minute temper tanrum.

Thank you for the potty training stains I have to clean off of the carpet.

Thank you for the sisterly fights I have to break up.

Thank you for the sticky hands all over my walls and the crackers stuck in the crevices of my couch.

Thank you for the toys I have to clean up night after night after night after night.

And thank you for the nasty half full milk bottles I find under the seats in the back of the van.

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Mothering can be hard.  I never really understood that until I had kids.  I never realized that it is occasionally intellectually challenging, it’s occasionally physically challenging, but mainly it’s emotionally challenging.  It requires patience that some of us (ME!) honestly just were not born with.  It requires a calm temper, an ability to handle chaos, an ability to be spontaneous.

But these problems — these dirty floors and cars and emotions — those are problems of the lucky ones.

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Parents with babies in hospitals and moms and dads with pint sized angels in Heaven don’t worry about these things.  They come home to clean houses and quiet houses.  They have all the time in the world to watch television and take up hobbies.  They can sleep through the night.

And what separates them from us?  What twist of fate allows us the opportunity to pull all nighters with teething infants as they must sleep silent in houses that are much too quiet?

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I can’t think about these things too often.  None of us can.  If we come too close to the realization of our powerlessness, it could consume us.  It would be hard to function.

But some days we do come close to it.  We see it in another’s eyes or hear it in another’s story.

I get that parenthood can’t be complete bliss.  I understand that we cannot go around treasuring every single moment.  But man… if those moments were gone.

So from every single cell of my being, thank you Lord for the stress of today.  The tears and the tantrums and the whines and the messy house.  If even for just one brief moment in all of this chaos, I stand humbled by all that I have.

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So perhaps we can all just say a quick prayer for all the mamas and daddies out there with empty arms.  It’s a small gesture, but sometimes it’s the only one we have.  Today was stressful for me.  For some, it was much worse.

For the Creators

So Hunter Hayes performed his song “Invisible” on the ACM Awards last night.  Did you see it?

I can’t say that I’m a huge Hayes fan.  I just haven’t heard much of his work, but this performance last night had me enraptured.  There was something about the way the lyrics mixed with the instruments and the artist and the setting and the audience.  To me, it felt like magic.  So many people and so many experiences and talents had to all come together in one place to create this moment that we could all get lost into and relate to.

And it made me think.

It’s hard to create.  It’s hard to write or draw or sing or paint or sculpt or I imagine do pretty much any creating.  It’s scary.  It’s a risk.  Putting yourself out there.  Finding your truth.  Facing your truth.  And then taking your individual, personal truth and turning it into art that makes it everyone’s truth.

The thing is that we are all given stories.  Some we relish and some we just try to breathe through.  It’s these stories that help turn us into who we are.  And some people are given the ability to tell their stories in ways that speak to us and touch us, in ways that bypass the walls that separate us so that the communication doesn’t happen between two people but rather between two souls.

It’s these creators who take their stories and mold them and shape them and hand them over to us, vulnerable and open, who help turn us into who we are.  Their risks are our rewards.  Their blessings bless us and their pain makes us into better, more human people.  Because the truths in their stories can be found within us all.  They just show us theirs and in turn help us find our own.

And so to all the creators out there who speak to my soul — the artists and the musicians and the writers and the lyricists and the storytellers and the cultivators — thank you.

I mentioned in yesterday’s post that I was taking part in Momastery’s Beautiful Messy Warrior Project.  I’ve spent the day reading through many of the other submissions, and they are truly remarkable.  Consider heading over there and spending some time with these women.  You’ll be glad you did.

Obsessions and Compulsions — My Messy Beautiful

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We human beings were created for touch.  We were created to touch and to be touched.  We were created for communion with each other, for relationship, for sisterhood and for brotherhood. Every single one of us ill prepared to travel this Earth alone.

So when something in us refuses to allow us to touch the world, to let it in or to let us out, the pain is deeper than emotional.  It touches our souls.  It stifles the journey we were created for.  It can break us.

I don’t remember when my obsessive compulsive tendencies started.  I don’t have typical hand-washing ocd, so that answer is likely lost in the confusing world of non-typical anxiety disorders.  But I do surely remember obsessive tendencies as much as I remember anything from years past.

I remember the fears lurking in the back of my head, and I remember the intense desire to rid myself of them.  The compulsions would sneak up on me, urging me to just check just one last time, to ask just one last question, to consider just one last scenario.  Always promising that “one more time” would ease the anxiety and yet always finding that “just one more time” was never enough.  I guess one more time is the biggest lie obsessive compulsive disorder has to offer us.

These anxieties created the most unusual backdrop to my life.  I had a very happy, blessed, and loved existence.  I didn’t want for much, least of all affection or support.  But deep within the recesses of my own mind, I found demons that thirty-some years into my journey I still haven’t figured out how to completely tame.

I remember the first intrusive thought I had as an adult.  And then the second and the third.  I remember wondering why these thoughts popped into my head.  I remember trying to get rid of them, but instead that only made them worse.  And I remember the conclusion my mind came to.

I don’t want these thoughts.  These are bad thoughts.  I don’t purposefully think these thoughts.  I don’t seek them out.  So if they are there…

I must be broken.

I must be evil.

There must be a part of me very deep down that is so broken that it manifests itself in these horrible thoughts.

And if that was the case, well what if it got out?  How can I be trusted?

The weird thing about OCD is that we know it’s weird.  I know I’ve never lost touch with reality.  I know I have never, for a single moment in my life, wished harm on someone.  I know I would rather hurt myself in a million different ways than hurt another person in even one.

But OCD doesn’t listen to the truth.  It doesn’t need to.  It gets all the sustenance it needs from our fears.  It has a hearty appetite.

And so I retreated.  Very, very deep inside of myself.  I decided that I would sacrifice myself for the safety of others.  I would live a life without ever actually really touching the world.  I would keep the malignancy in.

And the way I attempted to do this was by filling my brain with everything I possibly could, never allowing myself a moment’s rest.  Instead of compulsively needing to check and recheck things, I began to compulsively need people around.  Noise.  Chaos.  Commotion.  Stimulation.  Work or play, recreation or labor, it didn’t matter.  I just needed the noises outside to be louder than the ones inside.  I needed to dull myself; I needed to escape into a world that was bigger than I was.

Except when I couldn’t.  Some days there just wasn’t enough noise.  There wasn’t enough stimulation.  Some days a hundred worlds wouldn’t be big enough to fill the terrifying space inside my head.  And some days even if I could find enough to fill those holes, I was still too afraid to touch the world.  And on those days, I did everything in my power to numb myself.  To stop my brain.  To allow absolutely nothing in, in an attempt to stop my brain from creating fear.  I would turn out the lights.  Close the shades.  Keep off the television and the radio.  Close the books.  Close the world.  If I couldn’t fill up my brain, then I would empty it.  I would live in a vacuum of my own creating, trying to deny the one truly inalienable right we all have — the right to hear our own soul.

And as you can probably tell, this was all fairly pointless. For as much as we do and don’t understand about the mind, we know that it exists and that when we try to run from it, inevitably it will find us.  At least it always found me.

For me, I spent years trying to hide from the world.  I wasn’t afraid of touching people physically like many people with OCD are.  I was afraid of touching them metaphysically.  I worried that every part of me could hurt every part of them.  I worried my words would be wrong and my actions could harm.  Eventually it got to the point where I feared my very thoughts, stuck in an illogical world where I feared that harm could be brought about simply by random, intrusive thoughts that would pop into my head.

I loved so deeply, and because of that, I feared so very deeply.  Always afraid to touch, always afraid my touch would create a ripple that could tear apart worlds.

But here’s the silly thing about love.  No matter how much we fear it, and no matter how much we might push it away or deem ourselves unworthy of it, it doesn’t go away.  We may convince ourselves that we are not up to the task of being loved, but it’s much, much harder to allow ourselves to live without giving our love.

And that’s what finally got through to me.

It was love that eventually broke those chains for me.  It was love for those around me, for those who supported me, for those I cared about the most that eventually coerced me into getting help.  I didn’t want my fear and my obsessions and my terror to keep me from experiencing all of the love and the hope that this world has to offer, and I surely didn’t want it to keep me from giving the love that I felt others so deeply deserved.

And so ever so cautiously I reached a hand out into the darkness, and by the grace and mercy of God, there was a hand at the other end that was willing to slowly help me let it all go.

I broke free.  It was difficult, and terrifying, and raw, and tumultuous, but I kept my sight on love and hope and acceptance.  And with that, because of that, I pulled myself, grudgingly, out of that hole.  I pulled myself up and out and into the sunlight.  It took determination and grit, unceasing support, perseverance, and no small amount of antidepressants and anxiety medication, but I did it.  I started to let it go.

I would love to say that the writing of this story marks my happy ending.  But there’s a reason that fairy tales are the only stories that end in happily ever after — it’s because life doesn’t work that way.  We don’t face our demons, knock them out, and move on to clearer pastures.

No.  In this life, we gather our strength.  We face our demons.  We push them down.  We walk forward.  And then we face them again.  And again.  And again.  And then again and again and again we stand back up and we fight our best fight.  Because in the end, we know it’s really the only option that we have.

And that brings me to where I am today.  These stories aren’t easy for me to share.  It’s hard to send my words out into the world when I know they will reach it before I do.  It’s hard to sit here on my couch, in the comfort of my home, safe and secure, knowing that while I sit in here, a part of my soul is going out there.  Into the world.  Who will receive it?  Will they be gentle?  Will they be kind?

But the farther I get from those darkest of times and the more secure I get in my being, the more I feel compelled to share myself and my story.  I hid who I was for so long and what I wanted for so long, afraid to touch the world, afraid to make a mark, that now I want to loudly and boldly claim what it is that I am and what it is that I have to offer.

I want to stand on my mountain, yelling out to the world, “This is me!  I am messy.  I am beautiful.  I am okay.”  As perfect as the veneers can often seem, something tells me that the messy in me matches the messy in others more accurately than the clean and tidy ever could.

Life can be brutal.  Our fight can leave us broken and bloody and scarred and very unattractive.  But here I am.  And here you are.  With life and with the messy, we can take it or leave it, hate it or love it.  But this is me and that is you, and in all of our broken glory, our lives are our messages to the world.  A billboard connecting one soul to another, the touch that reminds us that we are here and real and alive and worthy.

Sometimes I think loud and brave is the only way any of us can really thrive anyway.  We can’t wait to share ourselves until we are perfect.  Until we are beautiful.  Until we believe we are worth it.  Because life isn’t beautiful.  It’s brutiful.  And the most remarkable thing about it all is that when we reach out a hand into that darkness, someone will meet us.  That is God’s grace.  It’s what pulls us through.  It’s what keeps us together.  It’s what makes this whole journey possible.

It’s our rainbow.  It’s our brutiful.  It’s our truth.

This essay and I are part of the Messy, Beautiful Warrior Project — To learn more and join us, CLICK HERE! And to learn about the New York Times Bestselling Memoir Carry On Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life, just released in paperback, CLICK HERE!

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My Little Singer/Songwriter

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TJ brought out the old karaoke machine yesterday.

I think this quote explains perfectly how it is going.

Magoo: “Mommy.  We don’t need any other toys in the whole world because all we are going to play with all day, every day is the microphone.”

I think I should offer a formal apology to my neighborhood.

When I was little, I used to write songs all the time.  My classic lyric was “The grass is green/ the sky is blue/but nothing is as beautiful as I love you.”  Yea… I’m shocked Nashville never picked it up.  Their loss I guess.

Anyway, considering my long history with childhood songwriting, I thought it was really cute when I saw Magoo doing the same thing.

She gave me permission to post the lyrics here.

You Have to Love to Be Able to Go to Heaven

By Magoo

With the power of love

You may go to Heaven

You have to love to go to Heaven

If you love you may go to Heaven

 

With all your love

With all your follow*

With all your soul

You can go to Heaven

 

With all your love

This is the power

You have to go to Heaven

Follow the Ten Commandments

With all your love

With all your follow

 

If you die, you are still alive

With all your love

You are in Heaven

If you died and if you are dead

You are still alive in Heaven

You have a new life in Heaven

With all your love

With all your soul

With all your follow.

* I’m not exactly sure what a follow is.

Now just imagine this being belted out five feet from you over and over again for about half an hour from a microphone on “loud.”  I guess it’s my payback for the hundreds of hours I spent doing the same.

And I guess I should put a caveat here that I just banged my head against the wall so hard that it rebounded forward, and everyone, including Goosie, stopped in their tracts because of the noise the bang created.  So I very well may have been hallucinating all of this.  This possibility became even more plausible to me as I found myself listening to Magoo getting upset when she found out that her song lyrics, when posted, would only be available in English and thus people all over the world might not be able to read them.

I think it’s time to go lie down now.

And yea, perhaps this makes me a horrible mom for posting my daughter’s words on the internet.  I try to never post anything specific about them.  I figure permission cannot really be granted by a five year old.  I made an exception here because the song was the moment and the moment was spectacular, and sometimes rules just need to be broken in the name of preserving what makes life so special.  She can sue me when she gets older for breach of privacy.  Although all of our money goes to her and her sisters, so I’m afraid she will be tapping a dry well.

 

Sisters

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They don’t know this now, but they won’t always be like this.

Young.

Wild.

Free.

Together.

They won’t always wake up together every morning and fall asleep together every night.  They won’t always share their every meal and their every  thought.

She won’t always look up to her older sister with eyes of awe.  She won’t always laugh at her every joke.  She won’t always want to emulate her every move.

And she won’t always want to teach her little sister everything she knows.  She won’t always have her as her closest confidante.  Her partner in crime.  Her constant and unceasing right arm.

No.  One day they will grow up and move out and move on.  One day they will have arguments than run deeper than whose turn it is to play with the Barbie.  One day they will disagree and disappoint.  One day they might even look over their shoulder to see the other’s back turned.  Running in the opposite direction.  Away.  Off in the distance.

But what they won’t know then, what perhaps they won’t even believe then, is that those bonds from these early years, all those shared jokes and whispered secrets, all the planning and the strategizing and the laughter, will be enough to fill in those gaps.  It will be enough to mend broken fences and weave back together the fabric of their relationship.  Because it was probably never really even broken in the first place but was merely stretched and misshapen and ill for the growth.

One day, they will look around their lives and at all of their most important memories, ones of weddings and graduations and babies and birthdays, and they will in no small part be made up of each other.  They as much a part of the other as two people really could be.

They are first friends.  And because of that, because of this foundation, one day far into the future they might claim each other as their last friends and permanent friends and forever friends.  Each shared experience building a foundation that will be strong enough to last through the years and through the decades, through the triumphs and the trials.

Because no one else in all the world will know what it is like to grow up here.  With us.  At this time.

They are sisters.  And in the end, between them, that may be all that matters.

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