Archive for the ‘This Life’ Category
It’s Thanksgiving here in the US. And I should probably say something profound or meaningful. But it’s too late, the Prosecco is already open, so instead I’ll just share the really silly things we’ve said today during Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
“No, really, Sophie, we’re not going upstairs to the office.” (after she stood on the couch for 30 minutes trying to convince us that we really shouldn’t be downstairs watching tv at 9 am.)
GEO: “I think the whole Miss Universe thing is egotistical — we’re not the ONLY Planet in the Universe.”
Me: “THAT is your only objection to The Miss Universe pageant?!”
IZ: “He’s a boy.”
Geo: “Well, I’ve never watched it, so I don’t know what there is to object to.”
IZ: “He’s a boy AND a nerd.”
Me: “It’s official, I’m old. I have no idea who any of these people singing are.”
IZ: “What, your cutting edge radio station hasn’t informed you?”
Me: “My cutting edge radio station plays Miley Cyrus’ ‘Wrecking Ball’ every time I get in the car. I’m starting to get a complex.”
IZ: “You probably think that song is about you.”
Geo: “I’ve never really shared this before, but, baking soda can be activated with heat.”
Me: “Thank you for sharing”
IZ: “My life is now complete.”
Me: “Ok, can we all just admit that Joan Jett is a badass.”
IZ: “Who is she?
Me: “Smart ass…”
IZ: “No, really, who is she?”
“Spider pig, spider pig. Does whatever a spider pig does. . . ”
“We totally have to play Cat Monopoly… here, Snickers…”
Ok… we’re off to cook and watch the dog show. I hope however you spend this day, you are surrounded by love. Blessings! ~Wende
The dress code was “business casual” so of course I interpreted that to mean, artsy casual…
IZ, my husband who already works ridiculous hours, was invited to be on the board of a local charity. They’re looking for good people. He’s good people. And he has mad skills they can really use, so he said yes.
In theory I championed this idea (he comes home from board meetings with wine and donuts, what’s not to love) but it did bring up a few worries. Mostly around his work hours. He’s so busy. Really folks, the man goes constantly. And with our work at church and the 4th Sunday ministry, he really doesn’t have a free moment.
But then there is that perennial worry (because I’m vain, dontcha know) — what am I going to wear? Oh yeah, did I fail to mention that this charity puts on a HUGE musical festival in the area and there are events to attend?
Oh my goodness… I love writing that.
IZ sees these events as a chance to go on romantic dates. He’s right: but it’s not without a wee bit of angst. In my case, I’ve been super lazy about buying new shoes. Living here on the edge, it’s always about shoes that can live up to the wind and the rain. Sure, it’s nice if they’re cute shoes, but really–you want shoes that will keep you protected in the weather. I have a great pair of boots that meet this description. And, they’re even cute boots; but I’ve been wearing them with jeans and sweaters. That’s hardly the attire you wear to a private concert of Schubert Lieder.
And you guessed it, I don’t have dress shoes that work with clothes you would wear to such an event.
Like I said, I’ve been lazy. Additionally, this is major role reversal stuff. Since he’s worked from home, I haven’t had to be his “wife” in public for ages. He’s spent years supporting me in all my ministry related fiascos, er, events. . . but it’s been ages since I’ve played the supportive wife role. Frankly, I’m out of practice!
So, my little dilemma begged the question: do I buy something that works with the boots? Or do I try to find a pair of shoes that will work with something in my closet? I don’t know, but the answer is always Goodwill.
I’ll cut to the chase, as this is really a post about nothing: other than I’m gloating. Hello $5 dress at Goodwill to the rescue. That looked great with my boots. (and, of course I layered a Mireio slip beneath it and tied it all together with colored tights! I’m loving THAT trend!) Girl has suitably artsy casual attire to attend an afternoon of opera and champagne.
That no bank was broken to clad my artsy self, well that’s just bonus material.
So, we went on our date on Saturday. It was lovely, lovely, lovely. For a few hours, I sat next to this man I adore, who works too hard, and we soaked in the beauty that is Schubert together.
In a week where we focus on all the things we’re thankful for: I’m thankful for Goodwill. I know, that’s crazy talk. But sometimes, Goodwill really is my Anthropologie.
So cute, right? I thought so.
I do not want another baby. I’m cruising toward 44 (that number seems like magic!) and the next chapter of our life story is keenly on my mind. Our son is nearly out the door and I’m thinking about what comes next for me. Because despite the writing and the day job and all the creating on Mireio, my calling for the past 17 years has been “Mom.”
And I’d like to think that I’ve been good at being a mom.
That isn’t going to stop, but it’s evolving. My role in his life is changing: I’m now a sounding board on social situations and an in-house college advisor. But, he’s also starting to consider his next chapter (His mother has odds on the Mathematics department FTW) and he needs me less. IZ and I know, it’s just a matter of time. And as we walk closer to the edge of an empty nest, the old wounds find their way to the surface.
Not in the claustrophobic way they once suffocated my day. I no longer yearn or dream or pine. I’m long past being angry about our fertility issues. Instead, our conversations drift to, “I wonder what it would have been like. . . ” And providing cautionary tales to my Youth Group on loving your sibling, because not everyone gets a sibling.
But if someone handed me a child tomorrow, I would give up sleep and food and sanity to do it all over again. Because I will forever mourn the loss of what could have been. What was rightfully my dream.
Unlike people who choose “Oh, no, we only want two, three, four…” I didn’t make that choice. My body did. And while it is a bitter truth, there is also the grace of the reverse: it is a miracle I ever carried any child to term. That I survived the process is also the result of prayer.
But I am human. And I am greedy. And I wanted desperately to defy my odds and I tried and tired and tried, until the untold losses were just too much to bear.
Somewhere in the process of letting go, I placed my hopes and dreams on becoming an auntie. I didn’t do it consciously… it just happened. A way of making myself feel a little bit better about the loss of a dream. But it is too much of a burden to put on the shoulders of one baby nephew. And as it turned out, he wasn’t to be mine either. So, the losses are greater than anticipated.
This is life. We cannot always dodge the trauma. Nor can we expect others to understand. Sometimes, we must mourn our losses. And then pick ourselves up and move forward. Not on. Never on. Just forward.
So, I coo over babies I meet, I dote on other people’s children, I whisper into the ear of my own child, “No pressure, but 4 grandbabies would be nice.” I make promises to myself and Geo about who I will be as a grandmother. And I recite the names that were not: Henri, Francois, Jean-Phillippe. (Henry, Frank, and Jack to join our Geroges) Remember, remember, remember.
Somewhere in a parallel universe I am a mother surrounded by all of her children: no losses in sight. I’m probably sleep deprived and harried and not nearly as organized as I would imagine.
In this universe, I am gently holding my memories of what could have been.
A bit like this. . .
This tray sits in the “pink” room’s window. I can see it from the hallway when I walk past, and the light pouring through it is so beautiful. I keep trying to capture it, but I either end up with an overexposed photo (see above) or I miss the moment altogether.
I’m feeling a little like this photo. I always do when I start writing what’s really running in loops in my head. I suspect we all feel a bit exposed whenever we put ourselves out there. And it’s never fun to be reminded that we are not universally loved or cherished. The world can get… petty.
That pettiness crashed into my world, this week. I thought I had all the hatches proverbially battened down, but I missed one. The temptation to draw back into my head to nurse the hurtful things said in my own private misery is pretty alluring. So is the desire to “set the record straight”. Some people are fabulists and it’s hard when they start fibbing about you. Directly to you, as if you don’t know who you are and don’t remember what happened. I’ve bounced between both of these “reactions” all week.
But I’ve come to the conclusion that fading away won’t make me feel less exposed. A less negative way to see that exposure is to see it as vulnerability. Vulnerability and authenticity are good things. Sure, it’s hard, but most worthwhile things are. So, I keep writing my truth.
I’ve also come to realize that “setting the record straight” isn’t necessary either. Letting other people be wrong about you is a difficult thing to do: but unless you’re in politics, it won’t kill you.
It really won’t.
And here’s the thing, as much it might be therapeutic to disabuse your abuser of their misinterpretations, it really falls on deaf ears. It’s been a liberating realization to discover that, despite my own personal code of ethics, some things just don’t need a response. And some people don’t deserve a response.
But you do.
So, I’m going to stand here, back-lit a little more than I like (did I remember to wear a slip with this dress??) and tell YOU my truth. And if that gets uncomfortable or hard or difficult, you can look away. It’s OK. I’m already about as vulnerable as I can be, I don’t think I can get any more naked.
Thought for the day… or question: “Why do we judge each other?”
Especially women judging other women. I get not liking someone. I get not liking what they do, or how they do it. When that happens, we should take my 80 year old friend’s suggestion, right? And just ignore and move on. But, we often don’t. Instead, we go all judgey judgey let’s totally tear them down because they’re not. like. me. We label, call names, pick, pick, pick.
–Imagined slight: She’s a ________________ (fill in the blank)
–Didn’t live up to my expectations: She’s a ___________________.
–Dared to do something I don’t think she should: Call all my friends “OH NO SHE DIDN’T”
I don’t get it.
And yet, I do it.
I don’t get why I do it. So, I’m working on it.
But I’d love to know: why do you think women pick on other women?
New Rules: Let’s get each other’s back. And if we can’t: Let’s Zip Our Lips.
This child. Is not a child any longer. Shh… don’t tell his mother.
This child is driving me crazy. By all accounts, anyone as disorganized as he is should be failing out of college. A point I make. Often. He is excelling, which is annoying. And who does that? Succeeds at Calculus and Physics straight out of the gate? Annoying.
But it all came to a head on Monday morning. 1:30 AM to be exact. After a long weekend, he was “working” on a calculus problem he said was “due” the next day. Um, that he “forgot” about until he “remembered” at 12:45.
I stood in his pitiful room. Looked at all the mounds of clothes and papers and cat hair covered things and my head exploded. Read the rest of this entry »
All over social media today. Anyone know the original source? I’d love to credit the artist.
Tonight I found myself on a milk run. (Why are we always out of milk?) It was one of those “days” and I needed a bit of time with my thoughts, so I told the college student “No, you cannot come with me and study in the car.” That’s his new thing. But that’s a different post.
So, while I’m driving to the store, I pass this woman walking a St. Bernard near the park. Something in the park had the dog’s attention, because his person could barely contain him. His person was petite and she was giving it her best, trying very hard to keep her dog under control. But as I pulled out of sight, it’s anyone’s guess if she managed to keep him from breaking free and tracking down his prey in the park.
A quarter mile later, I witnessed another dog “walking” a person. This time, no potential vermin at play: just a very strong sense of will. Pulling his person forward and up one of the steepest inclines in town. His head down, her arm extended and threatening to detach.
“It must be the national walk your unruly dog day, ” I thought as I drove. But then I found myself in Safeway, with a wayward cart that would only turn left– and I knew, the Universe was trying to tell me something.
It’s funny, it would be easier to put the cart back and get one that will actually go where I need it to go. It’s as if I take this test of wills with an inanimate object personally. I will over-come. I will succeed in bending it to my plan. I WILL make it turn right even if I wrench a muscle or two to do it.
No, easy is never an option. Instead I fight the cart that only wants to turn left– completely through the store. Twice. Because I couldn’t find something and the store has a whole new layout. Let’s call that a work-out.
One of the upsides to attending a church where the majority of the congregants are well past 70 is that there is a lot of life experience in the room. It’s not to say young people don’t have wisdom to offer, but even if you’re young and wise — you still haven’t lived as long as they have. Not even at 40. At the Bazaar on Saturday, a bundle of this experience (all 80 years of her) sat down at our table and began to talk. I’m not sure how we fell on the subject but at one point, she said to us, “My life is too short for negative thoughts. I don’t have time for them. In fact, if I don’t like a person, well, they just cease to exist for me. I don’t give them a second thought.”
She’s 80. She’s entitled. And while most of us mean that metaphorically, at 80 she’s not kidding around about the time.
We chatted some more, and as I started to tell her that life has been difficult for us lately, she stopped me to say, “But you’re young. Of course things are difficult, these are growing pains. Everything will work out.”
You see, because she doesn’t make room for negative thoughts. And she has the life experience to back that up. I shut up and really listened.
Because she is right. Wayward dogs, unruly carts, and negative thoughts are a work-out. In the case of my obsessions, exhausting. Who has time for that? Who has time to obsess over the negative noise that surrounds you daily?
I’m not advocating ignoring the injustices of the world or living with a head buried in sand. I’m talking about actively ignoring the petty comments, the gossip, the nastiness of others when it’s directed at you. Participation is optional, remember that. I’m talking about excising the toxic people in your life and not “giving them a second thought.” I’m talking about telling that voice in your head that says you’re not good enough or things are just going to get worse… telling it to SHUT. UP.
Life really is too short. Whether you’re 18 or 45 or 80. . . life is limited. At some point, choosing to disregard the noise for the beauty that remains is a choice worth making.
So next time, maybe put the wayward cart back and choose one that won’t yank your arm out of its socket.
via Pascale de Groof on pinterest
I’ve been sitting with this idea for awhile. It’s one of those thoughts that is both profoundly obvious and deeply challenging. On both sides of the coin, people are not who you think they are.
But in my case, I’ve been holding this thought in terms of the woman who married my brother. Because, I don’t think good things about her, if I’m honest. I’ve not been given cause to.
Five years ago, my brother stopped talking to me. When I heard through the grapevine that they were pregnant and no-one told me (not my mother, not my brother) I was heartbroken. I have longed to be an Aunt — it’s one of those life long dreams. But when I found out that being excluded was payback. A way of getting even for the wrongs my brother felt I had committed against him: I became resolved.
So, I severed ties with my family. There were lots of reasons to do so. But, my main reason was that after long, painful conversations with our son (who didn’t understand why he was being ignored and left out of things) it became clear that I needed to take responsibility and protect my child. He didn’t deserve to get sucked into a toxic situation. He needed ME to make the hard decision: so that he didn’t have to!
Since my brother wasn’t talking to me — I wrote a letter to my mother. And that led to an avalanche of hate speech from the woman who married my brother. I expected it. I didn’t lash back. I get that, from the outside looking in, I seem like a complete bitch. A selfish person. In her eyes, I’ve committed untold sins against her. And, who knows, maybe I have! But to hear her tell it, I’m simply not worth the air I breathe. She’s a therapist: she would know.
But, if my friends were to read her description of me — they wouldn’t recognize me. Nor would the people at my church or any of the other circles of people I relate to on a daily basis. Why? Because I’m not who she thinks I am.
And she is not who I think she is.
Sure, lately, I haven’t had anything positive to reflect on. But I am certain that she is making a difference in her world. In the lives of the people who love her. In the life of her precious child. She is not who I think she is either.
This is the test, friends — the real test of the gospel. Can we call ourselves followers of Jesus but refuse to see others as Christ sees them?
I don’t think so.
So, I’m a failed human being — doing the best that I can. And all I can do, in this situation, is protect myself from the things that are hurtful (I don’t read her blog or twitter any more) and pray. I don’t expect that will solve things. I mean, I don’t even know what “solved” looks like. And I don’t think it will “mend” things either. Prayer doesn’t change other people, it changes you. No, I don’t want her in my life after the things she has said to me. But, that doesn’t mean she is worthless. It means I have to work harder to see her as Christ does.
She is not who I think she is. So I pray.
I pray that she will love every moment of mothering the child (ren??) she is blessed with. I pray that she and my brother will know a deep and genuine love for each other –that only grows with time. And I pray that she finds within herself the true and abiding knowledge that she is beloved of God: and THAT is enough.
I am not perfect. I am not there yet. But I am trying to remember: that even as people strike out at in fear and pain and anger and hate, they are not the sum of those actions. Ultimately, none of us can be boiled down to just one thing. Just one moment in time. Just one mistake or even just one success. We are so much more than that, we are children of God.
And, so this is what I’m working on these days. The soul work I’m doing. I can only hope that eventually God will make perfect, in all things, that which is broken.
This is the problem with making proclamations.
I kinda jinxed myself, right? I’ll confess, I’m finding it hard to keep up with all my obligations. There is so much to do — gardening, blogging, and laundry (oh my) end up on the floor.
I’d tell you that I’m going to be better: but we saw what happened last month. So, let’s just move forward, shall we?