Category Archives: ponderings

Why #imwithher

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Why #imwithher

The decision who to vote for this election was incredibly hard. There were, however, several deciding items that tipped my decision to Hillary Clinton. 

I realize putting this out will not sway any hearts. And it’s not really intended to. This is so I can go back and reflect on it later. 

On the subject of abortion. I do not believe outlawing it will stop it. There are many reasons a woman would take such a drastic step; none of which will be solved by making it illegal. I have spoken to women who’ve made that terrible choice and not a single one made it lightly.

I also no longer believe Pro Life means anything; it is a device of politics. The same party that rages against women for electing to terminate an unwanted pregnancy, has voted to deny the expansion of Medicaid for low income families and failed to fund early education which is absolutely critical to changing the conversation around success rates for children in poverty. They failed to support efforts to provide safe, inexpensive access to reproductive care and contraception, adequate availability to affordable childcare, and support and resources for women in vulnerable situations. The party that hangs its entire moral outrage on the innocent death of the fetus seems to have no compassion or interest in the quality of life of those children once they leave the womb. 

I think abortion is a heinous act committed against an innocent. I do not support the use of it as anything but a catastrophic intervention to save the life or future reproductive capacity of the mother. 

I also know the phrase “late term abortion” is a political invention to crudely describe an extremely rare procedure that is absolutely never used but in the most dire circumstances. I whole-heartedly agreed with HRC when she said in the last debate that she doesn’t believe the government or politicians are qualified to interfere in a decision that should only ever be between that family and their medical team. 
Regarding immigration: immigration laws have always been intended to keep undesirable people groups out. In our history, that included the Chinese, then unescorted women who were not met by a man, eastern and Southern Europe, etc… We have created a system so cumbersome that poor families in dismal circumstances have little chance of ever getting through the red tape. 

This country has always been a place for a second chance, a fresh start, and boundless opportunity. We must find a way to simplify the process so those who pay taxes and contribute to the betterment of their communities are given the chance to obtain citizenship. Existing immigration laws must be enforced, and penalties for illegally entering this country (only once the process has been simplified) or committing a crime while a guest of the United States must be strengthened. 

In regards to refugees fleeing horrific circumstances: We have been the rescuers, the heroes, and the good guys for generations. To now turn our backs on these people because we don’t like their religion or politics is repellant. To make a blanket judgement because their worship doesn’t look like ours decries the great commission. To close our hearts and refuse to offer aid likens us to the priest in the story of the Good Samaritan. We fail our calling in the name of fake safety. We were never called to be safe. We were called to be instruments in the redeemer’s hands. 

This election has given me reason for grave concern over the health of The Church; that is, the body of people who claim to be Christ-followers. We write a check and put in the envelope and feel good about supporting mission work. Twice a year, we give money or fill backpacks and think we’re changing somebody’s story. And these are worthwhile efforts. But they’re not changing anything. Men, women, and children in our very communities are facing life and death circumstances because they are poor. Or black. Or a child.

HRC has had her share of controversy and, while I believe so much of the furor around her is propaganda, the fact that there are so many circumstances where her family name can somehow be linked to something sketchy is disappointing. I am reminded of the part of the Old Testament when Israel said to Samuel they wanted a king and God warned that to place a man (or woman in this case) in a position of the kind of power is a recipe for disaster. We are broken people. At least HRC acknowledges when she makes mistakes or uses poor judgment. I am willing to extend grace to those who ask for it because I find myself in such desperate need of it every day and I would hope to be shown grace if I asked for it. 

Finally, in regards to LGBT protections under the law. And this is where my heart quakes because this is where I am so at odds with where I am personally. The day we write laws that deny the protections of the constitution because we don’t agree with their morality, our republic is doomed. If the government offers legal provision to the civic contract which is marriage, our government must offer it to any marriage. As the Church, we are called to be in the world; NOT of it. Behind these issues are PEOPLE. It’s so tempting to pick up that rock, stand on our moral high ground, and stone the issue – forgetting there is a flesh and blood heart, a soul on the receiving end of our blows. What kind of witness are we providing when we say Jesus came for all…but not “them?” The only one who should be outraged here is Jesus. Because that’s not what he said. 

Nobody should have the right to persecute, abuse, or discriminate another person – FOR ANY REASON. As believers, we above all others should be the most vocal champions of this; not the loudest opponent. Showing grace and extending a hand of compassion and welcome to ALL is how we demonstrate the love of Christ that we have been shown. “For while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” 
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There is never going to be a perfect candidate or party. And each citizen has a responsibility to make their own EDUCATED decision. 

I have watched the Republican Party tear itself apart in the past year. I have watched a candidate rise who spews filth and stirs up hatred with nearly every address. A candidate comfortable in the use of fear and intimidation. A bully. A man who makes no apologies for his xenophobic rants and his utter lack of self-control. I will not align myself with a party that seems to be run on hate and fear. 

I believe we are better than we have behaved. I choose hope. I choose Her. 

the MOST wonderful time?

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This is the time of year when my favorite music plays on more than half the stations, non-stop.

The time of year when it’s ok to have “one more” cookie, or truffle, or Martha’s rum cake.

The time of year when it’s so easy to get overwhelmed by all the stuff you want to get done.

  • Gifts for the kids’ teachers
  • Cakes for the Athletic Director and Coach’s Assistant Coaches and their families
  • Decorate the house
  • Tell stories
  • Make cookies
  • Church programs
  • Driving around looking at lights
  • Starting a new tradition
  • Elf on the Shelf (don’t hate – it’s fun)
  • Christmas PJs
  • Christmas shopping
  • Wrapping presents
  • Eat cookies and drink milk on the Santa dishes
  • Hit monthly targets with Thirty-One
  • Book January parties
  • Recruit another team member
  • Deliver all those orders!
  • Oh yeah, and all the other stuff that has to happen in a normal house with three young-ish children and a dog
  • And let’s not forget it’s cheer season
  • And soccer season
  • And…

I have a headache just typing all that out.

The time of year when we are reminded of the infant who left Heaven to come and live among us and die for us so we could be saved.

The time of year we think about a teenage girl and her young husband, desperately searching for a place to give birth; picking a barn because there was nowhere else.

The time of year we remember the journey of wise men – across the sands and maybe mountains – to follow a hunch.

The time of year we think of solitary shepherds and how absolutely terrified they had to be when the sky opened up and the glory of God and Heaven was revealed. What it had to have sounded like to hear angel song through human ears.

The sound of an infant cry and how the universe had to sigh at the sound, because they knew, even if we did not, our Savior had finally come.

Oh.

 

 

So much to say

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I love Dave Matthews Band. Well, I used to love their stuff – I have no idea what the new stuff sounds like. *mental note to skim iTunes later* (I kind of lost touch with them after .. well, after.) But Under the Table & Dreaming, Crash, and Before These Crowded Streets are three really awesome albums. So what? I don’t know – it made sense a minute ago.

Oh yes.

My listening to DMB is a handy metaphor for my life right now. One minute, it’s all I listen to. It’s my go-to band. I sing it in the shower, in the car, while I’m cooking, working, whatever. Then, nothing. They are just one more album in my vast iTunes library. In fact, I almost forget about how wonderfully complex the music is – start forgetting those rhythms and lyrics that used to set my entire life to a really great soundtrack.

Like poor DMB, I’m in a moment of forgotten-ness. An afterthought. Not that it’s a bad thing, necessarily, but I suppose I haven’t all together outgrown pouting. And, I don’t feel like being all that grown-up right now. It’s exhausting.

See, I’m rambling again. Where was I?

It’s a vast playlist and I can’t be listened to all the time. Or something. Shoot, I’m not even listening to myself anymore.

 

Finality

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There is something so final to saying I am done having children. In 2 more weeks, The Boy will be a year old and I’ll be out of the baby business. And, while that’s a good thing – I have three beautiful children that are growing and learning more about themselves and their world and one in heaven watching over us – I will never again experience the wonder that are those first flutters. Hiccups in the middle of the night, from the inside out. Heartburn so profound I’m surprised it didn’t melt the enamel off my teeth (ok, I won’t miss that at all). Writing lists of names and arguing with the stubbornest man I’ve ever met until we come to just the right one. Final.

Soon, there will be no more bottles or binkies, formula or diapers. Primary colored blocks and noise-makers will give way to trucks and trains; stuffed teddy bears will give way to Barbie dolls and hair bows. And then, even those will be gone; replaced by laptops and smart phones. The floors will get cleaner and I won’t have to cut grapes in half or clean up the disgusting half-chewed mess that is mealtime with a toddler. And, somewhere deep, I will miss it.

The soft cheeks, the smell of their hair, the sound of them as they sleep. Fighting invisible spiders on the wall (a thumbtack in the ceiling where her butterfly once hung), or tip-toeing ever so quietly by the baby’s room, or smoothing back the hair from the finally still face of the oldest one as she sleeps; the only time of day when she isn’t halfway rolling her eyes at me, “Moooom, I’m SOOOOOOOO busy….”

I worry every day that something will happen. Something bad. Those fears that surely lurk in the back of every parent’s mind; fear that is too horrible to express for fear of breathing truth to it.

I worry over scraped knees and fevers. Bad dreams and math anxiety. Too much time on the computer and not enough time at church. Balancing equipping them to face the realities of the world in which we live and protecting them from as much of it as I can until they are “ready.” Figuring out what the hell ready looks like. Because I certainly am not some days.

 

Parenting is tiny heartbreaks, smoothed over by overflowing joy.

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Miracle

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I looked at a house today. As in, stepped foot in a house I’ve been looking at with curiosity for months. Our budget says we could totally afford a house once we got into it, but GETTING INTO a house seems impossible and unreachable. At least for the foreseeable future. We have three children (almost 12, almost 4, and almost 1) and the prospect of saving for a big down payment any time soon is almost laughable, if it weren’t so depressing. It would take a miracle.

For now, I must be content to be curious.

Furthermore, I don’t know that this was THE house. It would need a lot of work to get it “just right,” but it’s got a HUGE yard with enormous shade trees, all the bedrooms we could possible fill and lots of little surprises to make it charming (like those vintage blue tile bathrooms! le sigh) And it was pretty quiet. I could imagine happy kids running up and down halls, decorating a room they didn’t have to share with older or younger siblings; tromping up and down stairs, Christmas trees for years to come in front of that gigantic bay window in the front, but I also almost immediately noticed the chipped paint EVERYWHERE, the original laminate (hey, I think I know somebody who could do something about that), big patches of bare ground where the St Augustine died in the shade of those enormous trees, and the most gawd-awful looking metal shed (did I say shed? I meant metal eyesore) that would immediately have to be torn down taking up a good 1/5th of the yard.

I’ll know the house and time is right when I get there. I’ll feel that zing in my ears and that tingle in my fingers. The house will speak to me.

Shush. I heard you laugh.

 

Soooo, it’s probably not THE house. But it was fun to look. And imagine. And feed a dream that, maybe, thanks to a lot of hard work (and maybe more than a little miracle) might come true. Someday.

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Made Up Words

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Nirvana. Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. Tolerance.

Increasingly in my life, I believe “tolerance” is a made up word. Cain killed Abel because he was “intolerant” of the way Abel worshiped God. Abel chose a different way and Cain killed him for it.

Having a belief system (whether someone else agrees or not) does not make you intolerant, ignorant OR phobic. A&E has the ultimate right to do as they choose with shows under their umbrella, but I DO believe it was an unwise business decision. A&E cashed in on the Robertson family and their way of life. It is illogical to suddenly have a problem with part of their belief system because a certain part of it isn’t PC. It is illogical to believe a family who has been unapologetic about their faith will suddenly apologize or shy away from talking about what they believe to be truth.

My belief system is this: man without God is a broken thing. Scripture says that with God all things are possible. The reverse, then, is also true. Without God, NOTHING is possible. We are incapable of showing love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness OR self-control without God. Period. The end.

 

PS. For the record: All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away. Isaiah 64:6

I am a broken, disgusting, dead thing. But, because of CHRIST, I have been remade. All of us are broken, disgusting, dead things. My life choices. Your life choices. Broken. Disgusting. Dead. But for Christ. Amen.

The clock ticks

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The clock ticks

I don’t want to be a stay at home mom. I thought I did. I used to be. But I don’t anymore. This is not a post about the pros and/or cons of staying at home. This is about me. Because it’s my blog. LOL

I stayed home with Munchkin until she was two. It was, circumstances aside, Amazing and super rewarding. Being able to watch her develop and learn real-time was incredible. When I went back to work, we both had a very hard transition. Becoming a single parent necessitated going back to work. I will tell you, in our experience, two was too late to introduce daycare. Munchkin suffered terrible separation anxiety and every transition issue you can imagine. This compounded my own personal guilt at not being able to continue the plan of staying home with her until prek; illogical as it would prove to be. I felt like I failed her by not being able to sustain the plan.

Princess Crybaby was a daycare kid from six weeks. She did not experience separation anxiety the same way and she missed a lot of the transition issues her sister went through. She is not a hitter, or a biter, and potty training was a breeze. She gets along well with classmates and is, overall, very accepting of adult caregivers. All of this could be personality and have little to do with early socialization. Certainly well-socialized kids still hit and bite, struggle with potty training and have terrible separation anxiety. Shoot, who knows how The Boy will shake out. (So far so good, though)

As I was pregnant with The Boy, then, scenarios went through my mind of staying home; both with and without some kind of income. I felt some measure of sadness as I accepted the reality that finances and our chosen lifestyle just wouldn’t permit me to stay home without some kind of income, and legitimate work-at-home jobs seem scarce or hard to find.

Once The Boy arrived, it was quite different. I found the long days at home very lonely, blissful as they were, with only The Boy for company. I found myself craving a creative outlet, but felt too tired and attention-torn to focus on anything. I started to feel a little crazy without regular, adult conversation. I started rearranging the house, cleaning and organizing. That makes my husband VERY nervous.

I realized that my wanting to stay at home was less about the kids and more about me.

Now that I’ve gone back to work, albeit only a couple of days back, I find I am happier and more satisfied during the day. Of course I miss the children and can’t wait to see them at the end of the day, but I get that much-needed creative exercise. And, being home with the kids all evening isn’t exhausting, because I haven’t already been with them all day… I can still be a good mom and not be home all day.

I believe God uses our circumstances to gently teach us. I am pretty over the idea of a God who beats us over the head in order to bend us to His will, or employs the “because I said so,” style of leadership; blaring truth through loud speakers. He was gentle (and silent) in this circumstance; allowing me to discover for myself that His plan (going back to work) really is in my best interests.

So if you, Dear Reader, are sitting and watching the clock tick, sit tight. Search your heart for how you feel and where you see God leading. Try not to get too hung up on the why; I think it becomes apparent, but sometimes not until you’ve moved past.

disclaimer: I am a skeptic. I love The Lord with my whole heart, but confess to asking a LOT of questions. I have invested in fleeces, because it seems like I have frequent opportunities to use them. Thankfully, I worship the God of the universe: big enough to put up with all my obnoxious questions, and small enough to take the time to answer them.

Endings & Beginnings

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All things come to an end. Today was the last day of my maternity leave. Ever. I’ll never be pregnant again. Never give birth again. And I’m ok with that. Pregnancy is scary. I can’t un-know all that can go wrong, or how quickly things can go from fine to nightmare.

Endings. How we say goodbye to things is as important as how we say hello. I cried a little today; not out of sorrow, but a sense of finality. I AM getting too old for the bone-grinding exhaustion of a brand new baby; the never-ceasing demands of very small children. While The Boy is small and sweet and oh, so, snuggly now, he is also fragile and very young – when so much is out of your control. That is where prayer comes in. Because rather than hang up on all that COULD happen, I will choose to spend my time being thankful for them, and all the moments that come with them: funny, soft, heart-breaking, and exhausting. The joy, sadness, pain, satisfaction and disappointment that comes from parenting little people who are so like you, but still their own little individuals.

I am not going to lie. In the middle of those not so warm and fuzzy moments, I find myself looking to the heavens, saying, “what, EXACTLY, can I be thankful of here?” More often than not, the heavens are silent. Not because He’s not paying attention, but like every good counselor, He’s waiting on me to figure it out myself.

I’m still learning.

So, tomorrow is a beginning. I pray it will be a blessing and that, in turn I will have an opportunity to bless those around me. I am nervous and excited. I know the skills required and hope to get my sea legs quickly. I go in with eyes wide open that the pace will once again quicken and work will become more demanding, but in a skill set that is more in line with my skills. We shall see.

I’m still learning.

Beginnings and endings. One chapter closes, and another one begins.

The boy who never grew up

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I am reading Peter Pan to the girls at bedtime. I think they are enjoying it – even Princess Crybaby gets mostly still and quiet. Sometimes she will lay her head on my lap and I’ll rub her back while I’m reading. It’s terrific. Munchkin and I read The Secret Garden last year and it was really fun.

peter-pan-15Last night, we were reading the chapter where Wendy decides it’s time to go home. She’s telling the story about the Darlings and how the mother always kept the window open for them to return – never forgetting them. Peter goes on to tell his version of that story, when his own mother “forgot” about him, locked the nursery door and replaced him with another little boy.

Call it runaway pregnancy hormones, but I started to choke up. The girls were absolutely silent too. It was quite the literary moment.

I reassured the girls at the end of the chapter that I would never forget about them if they flew away to Neverland and I would always keep the windows unlocked so they could come home. And then the bedtime rodeo recommenced and the moment passed.

For them.

Peter PanBut, a little while later, I found myself thinking about Peter and his story and I could not help but think of Riley. The temptation to fantasize about our eldest boy being one of the Lost Boys, running wild around Neverland; having adventures with Indians and pirates is an intoxicating thought. And then we get to coming back to the window. Would our little “Peter” (aka Riley) think we’d forgotten him? Would he see the crib and bassinet and a closet full of clothes waiting for The Boy’s imminent arrival, and decide that we must have replaced him?

Yes, I know it’s irrational. Riley is in heaven and has been since that morning in October, four years ago. I have not forgotten or replaced him. In fact, I don’t think a day goes by that my heart does not, in some way, whisper his name.

It’s just a story. And I’m VERY pregnant.

One day, I will read Peter Pan to The Boy and kiss the top of his head for the trillionth time and, yes, think of my own Peter Pan. And, while I am perfectly aware of the fact that this is from the movie Hook and not Peter Pan or any of the original versions, I still love this quote from Tinkerbell:

“You know that place between sleep and awake, that place where you still remember dreaming? That’s where I’ll always love you, Peter Pan. That’s where I’ll be waiting.”

Adventure

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Have I mentioned how much I detest the unknown? Walking down paths unexplored gives me hives. I hate not having a plan. HATE. Like I hate mayonnaise kind of hate. Oh, I’ll eat mayo, but it was almost assuredly a mistake or an accident that lands it on my plate.

And that’s where the adventure part comes in. When my mother uses the word Adventure, I know the wheels have come off and all hell has broken loose. That’s generally how I feel about the unknown. It’s not good. It feels me with no positive feelings. No slight euphoria at the thrill of discovery. Just a dull, sick feeling. As if my body is preparing to be punched in the gut.

Ok, enough with the metaphors.

I am 32 weeks pregnant. A month ago, our doc informs us she’s leaving her current practice and going to work for the big hospital (where we always intended to deliver). We had insurance ($$) all worked out and everything was going according to plan. And then. Well, her move means that insurance estimate is now something we have to mess with. Dealing with insurance people and medical billing people makes me want to puke on the best of days. But having to deal with the unknown of how this change will affect our very carefully balanced finances, as I’m staring at six weeks of maternity leave in a little less than 2 months makes me want to faint every time I think about it. Or cry. And you KNOW how I feel about crying.

Now, let’s add the fun part. When I left the school business, I went to work for a smaller business. While there are many, many ups that have come with the change (uh, the pregnancy being right there at the top of that list), there were some benefit changes that came along with losing the buying power of a large company that I didn’t think about (not that it would have really made that much of a difference), but that are having a very big impact on the bottom line. Thanks to the ridiculous increase in healthcare costs, it makes far more financial sense to drop my coverage on myself and go back on Coach’s insurance with the district as soon as possible. That’ll be effective in a week. That solves several problems; once all the wrinkles are worked out.

So. The fun part comes in this morning. Since my doc is now with the big hospital, all the insurance estimates have to be redone. That part, itself, really isn’t that bad. It’s just numbers. Add on top that I am switching insurance and all the mess they scratched on those papers today will be null and void come Monday. Back to unknown.

Ugh. So, we’re looking at a hospital balance due before the end of September, but we really don’t know how much will be due because the new insurance isn’t effective. It’ll be somewhere in the neighborhood of what we’ve already been estimated, but I HATE not knowing. Bam. Done. Ugh (again).

I know. This too shall pass. (I hope you heard that in the most sarcastic, obnoxious voice you can imagine, because that’s how it sounds in my head.) Platitudes make me almost as sick at the unknown.

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When I can’t see the bottom

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I have this thing about water. If I can’t see to the bottom, I don’t want to put my feet in it. Because who knows what’s down there. In the dark. I know there are living things. Moving things. Biting things. Things that will hurt me. And I don’t want any part of it. I wonder if there is a phobia for “fear of murky water.”

I love the water. I love boats. I love listening to water and wading my toes into the surf at the beach. But IN the water? Um…I think I’ll just sit under the umbrella, with the camera.

I know. I’m weird. Sue me.

ps. this is a metaphor for my fear of the unknown or unexpected; but I don’t want to poke too closely at that this afternoon. I AM really afraid of murky water, but I am also very afraid of the unknown and I HATE surprises. (like something nibbling at my toes or something sharp or squishy on my feet. *grimace*)

Heaven

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In 2005, when I lived a different life, I wrote about my vision of Heaven. It’s changed a bit since then.

white house with green shuttersHeaven still looks like smalltown USA. I can still see my house with the hardwood floors, screen doors and gerber daisies. It’s white, with green shutters. It’s early summer. 

picnicIn my daydream of heaven, the kids are all still kids. They are chasing lightening bugs in the yard (so, I guess there have to be bugs in heaven after all). Riley has just come back from fishing with my grandfather. My great-grandmother, grandmother and mother are showing me (again) how to make peach fritters and the house smells of peaches and summer. Matt is (what else) playing in the yard with Asher and Emory and Madison is reading on the porch swing. Cookie is working on whatever “honey do” list (I’m sure) my mother gave him; smiling all the time (because that’s just who he is. <3) My brother and his family and my sister and her family are there, too, of course. They walked down the road for dinner.

 

Most importantly, we’ll all be together. For always.

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sleep

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24 weeks. The magic point at which, it seems, comfortable is becoming a passing memory; something to think about in the past and look forward to in the future. It’s sometime around 4am and I’ve given up on sleeping any more. Princess Crybaby woke up a little bit ago, asking to go to the bathroom, but she was so sleepy I don’t think it actually occurred to her to go. Then she asked to sleep in our bed. Well, she’s so dadgum snuggly at 4am aaaaaaand I relented. (I have NO willpower at 4am) Well, by the time I settled her back in and got halfway situated myself, I was well and truly awake. Knowing better than to lay there and watch the clock, I got up. And here I am.

I actually don’t mind it. (right now; ask me again this afternoon when I’ve propped my head up with catalogs so I can pretend I have enough batteries to get me through the workday.) The house is still and quiet and it’s still dark enough I can’t see our “happy mess.” *laugh* I have surrendered to all but the basic “necessity” cleaning until the children are old enough that it’s not like watering your yard in a rainstorm. I mean, really – what’s the point? (don’t think that lets Coach off of dishes duty while school is out. I have my limits.)

I think of my sweet sisters and how lovely and clean their house is and I envy them. (and wonder where they get that extra energy and if it something that comes in a pill form.) While some people want to be Martha Stewart, I want to be Molly Weasley. She had a spell to do the dishes for goodness sakes and that beats making crepes and origami christmas ornaments any day of the week.

I console myself with the Joel Olsteen-esque “name it and claim it” platitude (i.e. completely useless, but so warm and fuzzy) that they won’t be little forever and time I “waste” scrubbing floors and sinks and doing laundry is time I could be spending with the kids. Or something like that.

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You know the really funny thing about this picture (and many others just like it)? I don’t think there is a single child within five miles of this room. Low sharp coffee table? White upholstery? Skinny vases three inches from the edge of the table? Open, roaring fire? And, look at the shine on those floors. Are you kidding me?

One day I’ll have a lovely clean house again – probably right around the time I can reach the stuff on the floor (or sometime after Halloween). For now, excuse our mess.

Oh, and if you hear snoring coming from the corner office around 3 today, you’ll know why.

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What do I want? Do I even know? High profile. Meaningful. Change-agent. Small. Low profile. More time for family.

Where am I?

Who am I? Have I become so used to being defined by a title that I don’t know how to be content without one?

Am I really that small?

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I sometimes imagined this blog would serve as a window into my inner thoughts; a transparent view into the trillion or so things that roll through my head on any given day. Ideally, it was to be a humorous outlet for my inner writer. But I find my thoughts so smashed up into each other that it’s hard to tell the beginning from the end. The jagged edges don’t fit into tidy paragraphs; half-formed thoughts, ideas, insecure rants/ramblings seem inappropriate to share when I don’t know what to make of them myself.

As I get older, I am becoming more reclusive with my inner self; more protective of the soft underside. Some might see me as aloof, but the hurts hurt deeper and the joys and celebrations are shared with only my closest circle.

I’ve also noticed my opinions on certain matters becoming more inflexible and less open to discussion or debate.

I envy those writers who are willing to be transparent; to really be honest. It provides such a refreshing bit of encouragement in the noise of so much shallowness (of which, I guess, I should be included).

Let me conclude by saying I’m learning to give myself permission to not try and be perfect all the time, but I’m not at the point of telling you about it. How’s that? So, for a while you might see some password protected posts (I ❤ alliteration), but know that I’m working things out in my own head. Don’t feel bad if I don’t offer up the password, either, friends. It doesn’t mean I don’t love you. It means I’m not ready to say it out loud, but I have to get it out of my head. It might be ugly. It might be emotional (hey, I am pregnant – those hormones are ALL over the place). It might be funny, but not in a “haha, let’s post that to facebook” kind of funny. Just hang in there; I’ll still be around – working on keeping my windows open. Because I truly believe it is very, very good for us not to shut ourselves away. Even if the view into the room on the other side isn’t really ready for visitors.

<3,

fridaynightgirl

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leap

 

This picture showed up on my facebook wall this morning and I thought it incredibly appropriate for the day. You see, friends, my life seems to be about leaping. God stretches my ability to fathom the scary dark that is just around that unturned corner, that seemingly bottomless edge over nothingness and those times in life that deviate from the safe little path I invent in my own imagination.

I’ve joked often enough that I’ve been tossed in the deep end so much of my life, I’d probably drown in shallow water.

Five months ago, I turned the lights out on a job I consider the highlight of my career. It was time to change something. I didn’t know exactly what was causing all the tears, the migraines and the heartache. Changing my work email seemed to be the simplest solution to figuring out this problem. How could I have a job I loved and a family I live for and yet be at constant war with myself over which hat I was wearing at any given moment of the day?

My mother has compared me to a race car. I can go the speed limit and drive around normally with the rest of the cars, but I was really MADE to race. The high octane fuel that powers me demands I be unleashed and allowed to go as fast as I can. To the normal person, I must seem insane to make such demands on myself; to keep the pace I do. But, to me, it just seems like life. Yes, even the best race car driver is going to blow a tire and hit the wall. But that doesn’t mean the race is over. It means the car is out for a while. But the best drivers come back to race on.

So, where does this leave me? I have a job I really like, with people I really have come to love. I’ve figured out (mostly) how to balance work, mommyhood and coach’s wife. So…wanna race?

Talking to Myself

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I’ve decided there are some things I just shouldn’t say until I’ve heard them outside my head first. I think people over-estimate the ability of “professional communicators” to effectively communicate in every situation. There are some situations where I cannot remove my own personal bias. My own personal emotional triggers. But people assume that, because they’ve seen me clearly, calmly and non-emotionally communicate every type of situation for my job, I will also carry that same level of detachment into every conversation. Well, here’s a newsflash. What they see is the FINAL draft. A distilled version of the Real.

The most important part of the process to create authentic communication (in my opinion) is finding a voice that is relatable. Showing enough emotion to demonstrate compassion and empathy without muddying the water. Getting the facts straight is a given. So, what happens when that emotional line is too close to the surface? When I haven’t had enough time to process through my emotions to get to a rational, centered (*cough* level path) response? Or, my systematic beliefs differ from those with whom I’m communicating? That’s where the task of communication becomes drastically more difficult. And I find I’m all out of answers.

*sigh*

That brings me to talking to myself. An English teacher of my youth always advised reading a written thing out loud so you could hear any weird syntax errors or oddly structured sentences/paragraphs. I’ve taken this advice to heart and, to this day, no written communication leaves my desk until it’s been read out loud. Quality control, you might say. That has somehow spilled over into my spoken presentation as well. Sometimes, something sounded good in my head, but once I get it outside I realize how dumb/angry/defensive/flippant/whatever I sound. That is a red flag to change my approach BEFORE I say it in the course of a conversation and hurt somebody’s feelings. Mom says that’s part of growing up. (please don’t remind me that I’m the mom now.)

This brings me to today. I have a conversation planned with a teacher. A friend. An excellent educator. One I hold in the highest esteem. But. (yes, Mom, I know what that means) She’s taken exception to a certain pattern of behavior and I don’t really understand at a level I can intelligently relay back to Munchkin the expectations to achieve a satisfactory “grade.” (Yes, I know it’s February – this just started happening, ok?) So we are meeting this afternoon. [insert ominous music here] The dreaded parent-teacher conference. Not because of any academic reason. But because there seems to be a disconnect in their expectation, my perception and Munchkin’s performance.

I readily admit Munchkin can be a challenge. A bright, shiny, wonderful, exasperating, infuriating, delightfully brilliant challenge. She is my joy and my truest test of patience. I easily identify places where I have not been as consistent, but I also acknowledge never giving up; always admitting my lapse and picking the gauntlet back up and getting back in the fight. Because it’s worth it. She is worth it. Mercy so, but I love her – how could I do anything less? She deserves my absolute best effort. And I think, MOST of the time, that’s what I give her. And, while there are days where I want to rip my hair out or grind my teeth into dust, I see so many flashes of the incredible heart and spirit of that child; I KNOW I am on the right track.

So, how do I effectively advocate for her when I’ve heard one side of the story and taking responsibility for one’s behavior is our current battleground learning opportunity at home? How do I balance needing to give her the benefit of the doubt and partnering with the school in teaching Munchkin to respect the rules set forth by ALL adults; even the rules we (meaning mom) think are stupid/illogical/irrational/impossible? How do I separate my loathing of the Stepford method of classroom management adopted by the District and the need to keep order in a classroom filled with children; some with no sense of discipline at all? How do I keep from coming off as “that Mom” who never thinks her kid does anything wrong; while still raising a red flag and saying, “Come now, let’s reason together?”

I talk to myself. That’s how. I spend a great part of the day practicing how I will communicate that I think asking a child (any child; not just my child) to sit still and quiet and never get up and never blurt out and never talk above a whisper and automatically know (at 10) how to be kind, patient, fair, unselfish and how to NOT be immature or otherwise obnoxious all day, every single day is STUPID, IRRATIONAL and UNREALISTIC. That I think the conduct grade is nothing more than a math formula; lacking any kind of big-picture, whole child LOGIC or COMMON SENSE at all; solely based on a number of “offenses” divided by the number of days in a grading period. 9 marks; regardless of the severity (or lack of) is considered “not satisfactory.” 9 marks in six weeks. That’s one a week, with three exceptions where you get two. I don’t know that I could go five days without somebody telling me (when I was 10) to sit down, Regina; raise your hand, Regina; please let them do their own work, Regina. That’s three in 10 seconds. I’d be branded a trouble-maker too. Shoot, I don’t know if I could do that NOW.

Like I said before, I’m NOT saying she is never difficult. Lord knows that would be laughable. And I’m also not saying I don’t want to know when she’s disrupting instruction with her impulsiveness. I want to know when she fails to be kind, patient, fair and unselfish; or she’s being immature or otherwise obnoxious. That is part training up her character. But talking? Laughing? Being out of her seat? What am I supposed to do with that at 6 o’clock at night; when the offense happened at 10am? Kind of makes you want to throw your hands up, doesn’t it?

I guess I have a little more talking to do. I’m glad this conference isn’t until this afternoon. I’ve got all day to figure it out.cat-lion-mirror-image

Spit and polish…and nothing else?

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Increasingly, I’ve been wondering if national politicians are anything BUT talking heads (and money).

It takes ungodly sums of money to run a national campaign. (Obama’s spent almost $300 MIllion so far, and Romney’s spent a little more than half that). I can’t even imagine what all that money looks like (advertising, mostly). You wonder what they would be capable of if their staff was redirected to raise money for a worthwhile charity; like Habitat for Humanity, United Way or Communities in Schools. Shoot, the total amount raised this year could completely revolutionize education. Can you imagine what school districts could do if they had constituents who could be counted on to give and give and give, like politicians? And, for the love of Mike, isn’t the work schools do far more important than some guy in a suit with an American flag on his lapel, or some sharp-dressed and sharper-tongued woman – promising change we can believe in, or the “right” kind of change or some other promise nobody but the candidates themselves believe will actually come true?

And then there is the talking head. Is there actually any substance to these people? They are surrounded by people telling them the right thing to say and how to say it in a compelling way. People in my field (even though I would be so out of my depth with any of them) make a living “advising” others around us (read=influencing behavior). Those with scruples are working for the best message; one that will clearly explain the heart and soul of an issue. There are many, though, who seem to be motivated by something else. What that something is, exactly, I don’t know – having never been IN that world. It’s so easy to sit back and throw stones. (trust me, I’ve been pelted with rocks by people who don’t know me OR what I do)

My argument that these politicians are all talking heads and they are so message and talking point driven, you can almost see the cards flipping in their eyes when they are asked a question. People (like me) make a living anticipating questions and preparing for interviews. Everything they can think of to keep their candidate from saying something stupid; a monumental task, apparently. This article, from the Chicago Tribune, talks about some of the more memorable gaffes from this campaign (so far).


Two of my favorites, from both sides. *rolling eyes*

It seems to me that, when these guys go “off message,” they can’t stop themselves from saying something stupid. It’s probably the only time we get to see anything resembling the real guy or lady under all that spit and polish.

I’m not saying it’s not a good idea to have people around you who will help you craft a message. (shoot, that would be advocating the end of my career field) I think it’s a great idea to have somebody who makes a living thinking about words and the affect they have on people. But it’s important that the person uttering those words have some input – the words must be their own. Otherwise, you get the talking points and hollow messages that get screwed up the minute the person behind the curtain stops pushing the buttons.

Hm…. Something to think about this voting season. Are you giving money and voting for the guy/gal you like/believe in, or are you voting for the spin doctors behind him/her?

 

Crappy Day

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This day has been a big, smelly, load of gross. Seemingly, everything that COULD go wrong, DID. The only thing I can think of that would have topped off this day is 1. locking my keys in my car or 2. getting pulled over.

Despite great planning and stellar coping skills, there were several technical issues with our parent meeting tonight that caused the wheels to come off in front of 500 parents and, naturally, The Boss.

The car is acting up. Again. The only bright side to this day’s car nonsense is the promise we are going car shopping VERY. SOON.

And I have another day that looks just like this one to look forward to. Joy.

Not for the first time, I wonder if is time to look at another line of work. Not because I don’t love what I do but because there is not enough of me to cover all there is to love. Ever. No matter how hard I work, no matter how much I achieve, there is always more to do/accomplish/overcome. There is never a single moment to reflect. To decompress. To breathe. It is a constant state of hyper-aware.

Like Alice’s White Rabbit, I’m always late. Always just on the verge of panic. Regardless of the reality of my level of preparation (which, most of the time, is pretty damn detailed), I always feel like I’m winging it. I loathe that about myself. I know it is because I am a perfectionist. My problem is that I am the black swan. I hear my darkest fears just over my shoulder (You are inadequate. You are incapable. You are NOT ENOUGH.) and so I rub and polish and worry until I’ve worn away all the shine on something. Even if there was never anything there.

Sinatra would say, “That’s Life,” but I wonder if it really has to be. *sigh*

g’night. I’m giving up on this day.

Why

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It was early. They walked quickly, in hushed tones. It was cool, having rained overnight. Everything was so rushed on the Preparation day, there wasn’t time to properly anoint the body. The women all agreed to meet early the morning after the Sabbath, in order to anoint His body; as was fitting. They wondered aloud if the soldiers would help them with the heavy stone.

Passover was usually a time of rememberance but also of celebration. This time, however, there was no celebration. FOr the first time in their lives, all ritual seemed hollow. Afterall, their Deliverer was dead. For three years, they’d followed this man – the One. All they’d hoped for – gone – in one horrible afternoon. Why, Lord, why?

Mary Magdalene worried a little about how quiet it seemed – her experience with Romans was that they were loud – all the time. And yet, as they approached the tomb she did not hear anything – no voices, no heavy steps – just the quiet of the garden.

Then they saw it. The tomb was open. The guards were gone. What had happened? Surely no-one would have taken the Lord’s body. Why, then was the stone rolled away? Why would the Roman soldiers have unsealed the tomb? Why?

Frightened, they ran to the tomb, but found nothing. Bewildered, they ran outside and were met by two men. How brightly their robes shined! And their voices rang – it was terrible and beautiful, at the same time.

Why do you seek the living among the dead,” one of the men said, “He is risen! Go and tell the others.”

They immediately rushed to tell Peter. “Why don’t you believe us? We’ve seen it for ourselves!” Mary’s heart was heavy – she told herself she believed these men – surely they were messengers, sent to give them the good news. Why, then, couldn’t she rejoice with the others? Why wouldn’t they believe her?

Peter immediately ran for the tomb – going to inspect the now shed graveclothes with bewilderment.

Mary knelt in the cool grass a long time, eyes closed, just listening and praying. When she looked up, she saw a man standing near her. Grief-stricken, she cried, “They’ve taken the Lord away and I don’t know where.”

“Mary,” said the man. It was only then she realized the man standing before her was Jesus. Alive!

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Jesus had to die. God’s perfection demands a sacrifice for sin. It is a death sentence. From the very first rebellion in the garden, God knew we could never be redeemed unless He intervened. From the beginning, to the very last pages of Scripture, we read of God’s plan to redeem us through the death, burial and resurrection of His Son. Jesus had  to die; or we would never truly live.

That’s why.

Gone

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I can’t imagine the stunned shock of the disciples. Even though they’d been told this was coming, how many of them really understood? And now, He was gone. They’d watched their friend and teacher – the Savior – beaten, mocked and, finally, crucified.  They watched, with finality, as the Roman soldiers sealed the tomb with an enormous rock.

Judas had betrayed him to the priests and, now, he was dead. Peter, the Rock, had denied him – three times. Not one of the 12 had come to his aid.

And now, they were in hiding. Afraid for their very lives. I imagine the room where they gathered was as silent as the very grave itself.

They had to be exhausted from their grief and terror. It wouldn’t be until later they would be filled with courage. Today, all was uncertain.

Soylent Green

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Linky Linky to this VERY strange movie

I had an interesting epiphany this morning.  We do not know we are starving until we taste real food again.

For [fill in the blanks], we’ve been “too tired” to go to church. We’ve had too much to do. We’ve been over-extended/-committed/whatever. (and we were) We, legitimately, were running on fumes. Munchkin and I had Oliver! and Coach started soccer season. I had SO many work obligations I brought it home a lot of nights; against my personal commitment not to. Goals made at the new year still hang, unstarted (is that a word?) on the door.

Church was effectively shelved. A two hour commitment, once a week, was crossed off the list, in favor of a little more “rest.”

What we didn’t realize at the time was that we were also shelving two hours of concentrated family time; one of our family goals. Time to pray together – also a goal . A church where we could plug in – another goal. Two hours a week, dedicated to reminding us and reinforcing the kind of family we want to be: friendly, patient, kind, healthy, praying, and on and on. So, by eliminating that two hours a week, we effectivly hobbled our ability to meet almost every one of our family goals and many of our individual goals.  Yes, that two hours were freed up but we were starving our family of fellowship, community, encouragement from the outside, accountability to something bigger than ourselves and a group connection to our Savior.

[Enter the Soylent Green metaphor]

Soylent Green is a movie that came out in the 70s and, according to wikipedia: much of the population survives on processed food rations, including “soylent green”. It’s a weird post-apocalyptic movie that came out in the 70s. People don’t eat real food anymore. They eat this soylent green stuff.  It tastes better than other food rations and is more nutritious.  After a VERY long story line (hello, 1970s, I know all the drugs slowed down your processing speed but it doesn’t translate well to future viewers), Charlton Heston’s character discovers this soylent green is made of PEOPLE.  When people die, their bodies become this processed “food.” People don’t even know what they’re eating. At some point, Heston’s character aquires some steak and it’s like a treasure. It’s so valuable, they hide it until they are ready to eat it.

[return to today]

This morning, for the first time in months, Coach and I went to worship service. At our church. When Brother Andy began to preach, any sense of lingering tiredness fell away and we were just caught up in this sweet fellowship with each other, with the others in the room and with God.

It was during this time I realized I’d been starving for real food. Making myself be content with processed and manufactured rest, over time, my spirit grew quiet as my flesh began to “forget” what real food tasted like. Not that my spirit went away or was less present – I think it just waited for my flesh to get. a. grip.

Suddenly, my attempts to free up our time seemed laughable. Like I could re-create this feeling without spending the time in the pew.  Like I really wanted to. My spirit laughed; not in a mean way, but in a joyful way. Making a joyful noise took on the proportions of the delighted oohs and aahs when Mom presents the family with the Thanksgiving turkey. We feasted on the scripture (Romans 8).

And, not for the first time, I said to God, “God, why did it take me so long to figure that out – the answer was right in front of me the whole time…” And I’m sure God just shrugged His shoulders and said, “I don’t know, but I’m glad you’re back.”

It was good.

We rested in Him.

We were filled.

An Actor’s Wish List

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I don’t know that this is really a bucket list, per se, because some of them are total fantasy but these are the roles I’d love to play. These are not in any order and they are not all musicals/operas – I want to play them ALL! 
  1. Fantine, Les Miserables
  2. Tosca, Tosca
  3. Liu, Turandot
  4. Elphaba, Wicked
  5. Lucy, Jekyll & Hyde
  6. Lucia, Lucia di Lammermore (hahaha – the music would kick my butt but what a fun part to play)
  7. Donna Elvira, Don Giovanni (I was 19 when I played her before; how much heartache had I really experienced? NONE)
  8. The Countess, Marriage of Figaro
  9. Cio-Cio-San (Butterfly),  Madame Butterfly
  10. Lily Craven, Secret Garden
  11. Narrator, Joseph & the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
  12. Mary Poppins, Mary Poppins
  13. Donna OR Tanya, Mamma Mia!
  14. Mimi, La boheme
  15. Lady Macbeth, Macbeth
  16. M’Lynn, Steel Magnolias
  17. Vivi, Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood (younger Vivi)
  18. Grizabella, Cats
  19. Roxie Hart, Chicago
 Oh, I’m sure there are more but this is a good list.  *giggle*

A Great Opinion Post

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Some of my favorite quotes from this great opinion post from Washington Post Opinion Writer Robert J. Samuelson:

  • Our political system prefers rhetorical fairy tales to unpleasant budget realities.
  • There’s no culture of moral accountability.
  • On both left and right, myths persist of painless solutions: “eliminating waste” or “taxing millionaires.”

Sunday night…really?

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Is there an app for another couple of days of weekend?  I didn’t do laundry.  I didn’t scrub floors.  I didn’t … you get the picture. 

I made a little progress on the garage but only enough to create a path through the chaos.  I swept the floors before we had three giggly, wiggly little girls over for Munchkin’s birthday sleepover.  HA.  Sleep.  Puh’Shaw.  At 12:30, I came in and started threatening to put children in the crate with the dog if sudden sleep didn’t overtake them!  *giggle*

Princess Crybaby has been cranky McMuffin all day.  (no, I don’t know why I called her that, Sarah.)  She wouldn’t nap but 30 minutes at a time, wasn’t interested in anything I fed her BUT teddy grahams and mandarin oranges.  She ate about half a bowl of everything else before she started throwing it on the floor.  *sigh*

She scraped her knee yesterday, at Nana’s pool.  I swear, this child is as accident prone as…well, me. 

Coach is making progress with CC boys.  They have a race Friday morning.  The greatest part of this is having him (with the exception of a little while Friday night so he can go shoot volleyball) all. weekend. long.  We may just turn the phones OFF Saturday and spend time together, as a family, in our pj’s. 

Today is the 10th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center, Pentagon and Flight 93’s crash in that Pennsylvania field.  I’ve avoided coverage of the attacks all weekend.  Knowing it was on nearly every channel meant I didn’t watch very much TV this weekend. 

Yes, I remember the exact moment.  I’ve tried (and failed) avoiding re-living it this weekend as my facebook friends go back through the details of those days. 

Ok. Here I go.  *deep breath*

The Ex and I took an annual trip to his parents’ house, in New Jersey.  Historically, we flew because it was faster.  Historically, the first day was getting settled and recovering from the flight.  The second day of our trip, we always went in to New York City because I am a tourist and, dang it, I love that city.  Historically, we took the train from Princeton (I think) into Penn Station.  The last time we were in the City, we decided to start the day downtown, at the World Trade Center, so we could see the financial district and all that stuff down there first; then work our way back uptown. 

Ok, so that gives you the background up to 2001.  That year, we decided to drive – a cross-country road trip.  It was a fun trip.  We stopped in Nashville for a night, then Washington, D.C. (beautiful hotel) then on to NJ.  We were in D.C. on September 9 & 10.  September 9 was a Sunday.  Monday, September 10, we talked about trying to get a room and stay another day and spending a little more time in D.C. because we didn’t have time to really see/do much.  But, wanting to stay on schedule, we decided to go on ahead to NJ.  Traffic was so bad headed north, straight out of the city, we looped around in a big circle around the city, bypassing traffic.  I snapped a shot of the side of the Pentagon as we drove past.  I remember very clearly it was about 9:30 in the morning.

All the way to NJ that day, the Ex was adamant he did NOT want to go into NYC; he was tired of going into the city, it was expensive, boring, etc…  We were already planning to drive to Montreal to meet/see his Canadian relatives and he didn’t want to spend an entire day wearing ourselves out (and spending money) in NYC when we could wait and do the same thing in Montreal.  He wanted to go ahead and go on to Canada Tuesday morning.  I thought he was just being difficult and argumentative so I pouted and bickered. I agreed to let it drop (for the moment). 

Very early Tuesday morning arrives and we are still bickering about NYC.  I finally give in and agree we should go on to Canada; even though that means we won’t make it into NYC at all this trip (dangit – I SO wanted to see Wall Street).  Little did I know all that bickering and finally giving in probably saved our lives. 

We get in the car around 7am Tuesday, September 11 and head north.  Around 8:40am, I am changing CD’s out and we hear (of all people) Howard “I am the Nastiest person ALIVE” Stern sounding VERY grave on the radio.  Immediately sensing something was VERY wrong with this picture, we listen in horror as he recounts how, just two minutes earlier, a plane crashed into the side of the World Trade Center.  Was it an accident?  How had that happened?  We found a roadside gas station a few miles down the road and watched, in HORROR, with the strangers in the gas station as the second plane hit Tower 2.  The Ex and I looked at each other and said, “they are going to close the borders.”  We jumped back in the car and floored it for the Canadian border. 

Sure enough, we were one of the last through the border before the country went on hard lockdown.  We listened in terror as the towers fell, listened to the reports of the plane that smashed into the Pentagon and of the downed plane in the Pennsylvania field. 

We stayed glued the rest of the day to the television, horrified at the pictures of the falling towers, the people jumping to their deaths, the flames and smoke filling the Manhattan skyline, the firefighters rushing in but not coming back out.  It was a horrible day.  The entire world was in shock.  How could something like this happen in America?

Meanwhile, phones were totally useless.  Family here in Texas had no idea where we were.  We couldn’t get through to tell them we weren’t in NYC (remember our history).  They had to wait in horrible suspense for the phone to ring.  When that call finally went through sometime early the next day, I will never forget the sound of my mother’s voice cracking on the phone when she cried in relief we were ok.  I wanted to go home NOW.

The next few days were surreal.  The borders were closed.  We couldn’t leave Canada.  So, for the time being, we were supposed to act like normal tourists, enjoying a visit with family members.  Sometime on that second day, the people around us, seemingly forgetting two AMERICANS were in earshot, started grandstanding that, yes, the attacks were terrible but, by god, this might teach “them” to stay out of everybody else’s business and the deaths of innocent people “could have been avoided” and “maybe we’d listen” now.  I saw red. 

Fast forward to Friday.  The borders were opening but with extensive security in place.  It was quite the experience coming back in the US four days after the attacks – in a Tahoe with Texas plates, no less.  The guards were, understandably, skeptical and asked us to pull “over there” for a more thorough inspection. 

The day before we came home, I had all our pictures developed and, only then, discovered I’d taken a picture of the side of the Pentagon that was hit almost exactly 24 hours before the attack. The gravity of the realization we probably should have been in Tower 2 when the second plane hit hit me square in the face. The Ex’s stubbornness probably saved our lives. 

Driving back along the highway looking across the Hudson at Manhattan was sickening.  Where the two Towers once stood, smouldering black clouds hung.  Entrances to the city were completely blocked off to all but to emergency personnel.  I have a picture from inside the car of the skyline. 

Then, I started noticing something amazing.  Flags.  American Flags.  First, here and there.  Then, in every window.  Every shop, house, car, and flagpole, proudly waved an American flag.  There were MILLIONS of them.   You couldn’t buy a flag. 

We were ready to come home – away from the epicenter.  As we drove farther and farther West, we saw fewer flags and, while still sympathetic, fewer shocked/traumatized faces.  Getting home, it was almost like nothing had happened.  People here were so separated from the events on September 11, it was almost like we were talking about some OTHER country.  Another world away from here. 

Fast forward 10 years to today.  Shock and grief still sucker punch me in the gut when I see images from that awful day.  I can’t watch video of the plane flying into Tower 2 or the towers falling, or smoke pouring from the Pentagon or read about those brave passengers on Flight 93 without feeling those sick feelings of shock and sorrow. 

If the Ex hadn’t been so adamant about not going into NYC that morning, we could have been there.  We could have been injured or killed.  No Munchkin.  No Princess Crybaby.  No second chances.  No TISD.  It would have been over.  We would have been gone. 

*sigh*

I now realize why my grandfather never talked about his service in WWII.  It’s not that he didn’t want us to know about it but that living through it once was awful enough.  He didn’t need to see images of the atrocities of war to relive those things that may have haunted his dreams.  He didn’t want to talk about them because they weren’t just nameless American soldiers in a “conflict” that happened a long time ago in a far away place.  They were his friends.  He could probably see their faces, remember the smells and sounds of battle. 

While I do not know any particular person who died in the attacks, I can remember the smell of the air conditioning in the car.  The hair that stood up on my neck when we realized what was happening, how time stood still as we watched the towers fall.  Smelling the smoke in the air on the drive back into NJ from Canada.  How angry I felt as Canadians bashed MY COUNTRY in her darkest hour. 

It is enough to write it down and know I don’t have to do it again.  The world will let this go a few more years and I can put the memories aside.  Give it a few more years to scab over.  But, like an injury from which you never fully recover, I have a feeling I will always choke up when I watch the towers fall.  Because I was there.  I absorbed the grief of those around me.  And I lived to tell about it. 

For a brief moment, this country was great again.  We put aside politics, agendas, manipulation and exploitation to grieve together.  For the briefest moments, three horrible hours on a Tuesday morning would burn itself into the American psyche and we were united in a resolve to survive. 

Perhaps, we will experience that again – I just hope it doesn’t take another grievous tragedy to bring it about. 

Silent Tribute

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As the scenes of 9/11 are re-lived through television and web news/documentaries and as I take media inquiries on how we are beginning to include lessons about 9/11 into our curriculum, I stop to remember those horrible days 10 years ago. 

How can we objectively present an event that scarred our collective psyche just 10 years ago?  I remember the moment it happened.  I know what I smelled, what I heard, who I was with, where we were going…I remember crying until my eyes were red and swollen.  I remember not being able to get through on the phone to the folks back in Texas (we were on the East Coast), I remember the sick feeling when I realized we should have been in the World Trade Center tower 2 when the plane hit but changed our plans that morning.

Munchkin just turned 9.  Last weekend, there was a host of shows about 9/11 on tv and, naturally, she asked about it.  I got out the newspapers and Time magazine I kept and looked through some of the pictures with her.  I told her about Flight 93 and the courageous passengers who fought to the end.  I told her about driving past the Pentagon just 24 hours before and having no idea what was coming. 

How can I really explain what that day did to us as a nation? 
How can I tell her in a way that honors those who died that day? 

I imagine our grandparents pondering the same things about Pearl Harbor. 

L-O-V-E

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Listen
Overlook
Value
Encourage

  • Listen means turning off the iPad and phone, disconnecting my brain from the temptation to work and really engaging in conversation – investing in friendship.
  • Overlook means keeping the good stuff in focus and it worrying so much about the other stuff.
  • Value means caring enough to be sensitive to needs.  I must communicate and model behavior I hope to see.
  • Encourage is just that. I think I do can do a pretty good job at this but there is always room to improve.

 

Lord, thank you for renewed vision and a willing heart. 

That’s just stupid

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“Yes, someone is making fun of me over this, publicly, and inciting others to make fun of it. What? No, I can’t say anything. Because I have to take the high road. It’s an unwritten code of conduct that I and many of my colleagues cannot stand up for ourselves. We have to remain silent and take it because they have the “right” to publish lies and twisted assumptions about us because we are semi-public figures. If we do say anything, if we ask those people to stop lying, to stop spreading their parasitic negativity, then we are the ones who are wrong.” – dooce.com.

When did it become ok and even expected that people should be allowed to spew slander and attack personal creditability and integrity when something doesn’t go their way?

That’s just stupid. I’m just sayin’.

Epiphany

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Ok, epiphany time…  I find it easier to lose weight when I’m NOT working out but controlling my food intake.  When I work out, I hardly lose anything.  I think it’s because I am still figuring out how to balance the increased calorie needs with the increased calorie burn that comes with working out.  My body goes into starvation mode pretty easily.  Is that because I was always too thin in my teens through the birth of my first child?

When I think back over time, food and my weight has been a touchy subject all my life.  When I get busy, pre-occupied or anxious, I quit eating.  Literally, I forget to be hungry.  Now, that sounds crazy but it really is true.  My mother was forever checking my collar-bones and grilling me about what I’d eaten.  I was always very thin – sometimes to the point of concern.  I never tried to be thin.

Then, somewhere in college, food became something else.  It was almost a weapon I would use against myself if I was unhappy.  (this conclusion was made upon looking back; when I was doing it, I was not aware of what I was doing.)  This, combined with the party lifestyle I adopted, brought my weight to near dangerous levels.  When I moved home to start UMHB, I was a size 4.  I’m nearly six foot tall.  In nobody’s book is that considered healthy.

Then, as tends to happen, my metabolism slowed down in my mid-20s and I began to gain weight.  Since the birth of my first child, I’ve hovered around the same weight.  While I was working at the CAC, the workload, single parenthood and life, in general, triggered that no-eating cycle.  I suffered terrible stomach pain – I thought I might have an ulcer.  Everything I ate (besides ramen or salad) would hurt so I began to eat less and less.  I got down to a 10; the smallest I’d been since college.

I didn’t stay that small, of course.  I started eating again eventually and didn’t work out.  Then, comes the second baby and that brings us to now.

My conclusions:

  • I do not know how to lose weight in a healthy way.
  • I have a love/hate relationship with food.
  • I am not a stress eater.  (thankfully)
  • I am a stress-starver.
  • I have a lot of stress in my life (even good stress is still stress; as my mother says).

What I’d like to do is lose the weight in a way I know how to lose it (control food intake) and then incorporate fitness to keep it off.  But I know all my fitness friends are already shaking their heads and saying, “you must balance fitness and nutrition at the same time in order to achieve long-term goals.”  How I break this cycle and get to the weight I want without starving myself is the question of the year. I haven’t had that epiphany yet. LOL