We ended up at the WorkMark in Long Beach on Friday night, by happenstance. IZ’s sister’s brother-in-law rents out several condos every year, and the guests they were expecting couldn’t make it. So we had a chance to stay over night and visit with family. It was a short, but really lovely get away. We were gone just under 24 hours, but it was therapeutic to walk beach and absorb everything the ocean gives. Salt and sand and sound, beyond the alliteration, it’s soothing.
We live so close to the beach, but we don’t go as often as I would like. Time is like that, it gets away from you. And I’m feeling the passage of time keenly these days. Part of it is this new pace of life. Being away from home 10+ hours a day is an adjustment! Part of it is all the changes in the past year and the changes on the horizon. It’s a lot to absorb. A lot to process.
So a getaway, even for a night, is a good reminder that taking some time to unwind is important. Even if just to slow down the pace– not necessary of what must be done, as much as just how I experience it. Breathing is a good thing. Breathing deeply even better.
Sophie died a year ago, on January 23. And when I got home from the beach Saturday afternoon, Facebook had fished up this photo from 6 years ago. We had a habit of going to the beach in January with her if the weather would hold. Less people on the beach meant less dogs for her to get riled up by. And she loved the beach. She was happy there.
This kid took me camping this year! We had a fabulous time–hard to believe he’s almost 18!
Geo picked out our site and even paid for our reservation! When did he get to be such a grown up? We had such a lovely time — it’s become a tradition, this mother/son camping trip. But this had to be our best trip ever. We hiked and cooked over the fire and the weather was absolutely amazing… I don’t think it dropped below 55 degrees, so it was downright balmy.
I’m still this child’s mother and our conversations still have a certain “tone.” But more and more, we’re becoming good friends. I’m so thankful for that we’re paving the road to being fast friends when he is an adult. Which, frankly, feels like it’s right around the corner!
When we came home he hauled all of our equipment down to storage and then put on a load of laundry, “Hey, anything you want me to wash for you while I’m at it?”
I’ve had this post rattling around in my head for the past week. I’ve hesitated to write it — not wanting to put something out there that might not be a benefit. I think we need to be really careful when we start making proclamations in grand sweeps. So, I finally decided to put this disclaimer up first:
This is my list of hurtful words. They might not be your list of words. It’s OK if you don’t see the harm in these words. The words themselves aren’t necessarily bad words–they are just words that have caused me harm. The real point I want to get across, is that whatever your words are–if you’re talking smack to yourself, stop. You’re worth so much more than the tapes, the critics, the know-it-all voices in your head that tell you otherwise. Believe me. You are worthy, you are beautiful.
Words I’ve Stopped Using: Difficult, Poor, Ugly
Truth is, if you’re anything like me, the most harm you do with your words is to your self. I’m careful (usually) with what I say to my son and husband. Sure, I’ve made mistakes and I’ve had to repent and ask forgiveness. But, in general, I’m pretty careful. It doesn’t make me sainted–it makes me wounded. I know what it means to hear constant criticism and the wounds that a person carries from being exposed to such negativity. And I know the voice I’ve fought so hard to gain still competes with the voices in my head–pointing out my deficiencies, my unworthiness, my “difficult-ness”. So, as a parent especially, I’ve been careful: with others. I wish I could say the same about how I talk to myself.
The thing is, the voices in my head no longer belong to critical parents or disapproving family members. I long ago internalized those voices and the critic who stares me down each morning in the mirror shares my reflection. Damage done, right? Time to take responsibility for the nasty things I say to myself–their origin is irrelevant! I’m the voice behind the words now and as I’ve meditated on what it means to use words to uplift and empower others, I’ve realized that my greatest sin is against myself.
So, as I’ve sat with this–I’ve begun to examine the words I speak to myself. I’ve come up with 3, I’m sure there are more, but baby steps right?
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Ephesians 4:29
I was in 4th grade when I had to memorize Ephesians 4:29. The King James version was required so phrases like “corrupt communication” and “to use of edifying” seem to add emphasis, but there’s no escaping this injunction even in a modern translation– your words are dangerous. And you’re responsible to not only to curb your tongue, but to use it for good.
The current verse is on my mind this week, in part because it was text being used for a sermon series Church of the Resurrection is doing this month. IZ and I are between churches (long story, a different post perhaps??) and so we tune in online on Sunday mornings as a way of staying connected before we start the church hunt in September.
This week’s sermon challenged us to do just that: stop and think. To stand with those who have no voice. And to use our words for good.
That latter challenge isn’t an easy task, as we live in a world where words fly. We blog, text, Facebook, tweet… talk, talk, talk and I wonder how often we ask ourselves, “is this helpful?” Long gone are the days where it is impolite to talk about oneself — today we are encouraged to delve deeply into our backstories and histories, our psyches and our impulses and put it all out there. For everyone to see. In triplicate.
The Apostle Paul wasn’t talking about blogging. Or texting or tweeting. His world wasn’t populated by people glued to their cell phones. What he did know, was human nature. Our modes of communication have changed, but humanity hasn’t. If good old Paul was around today I think he’d still admonish us to watch our words… he’d just be clarifying what he means by “out of your mouth…”
I’m not sure that’s a bad thing — all this freedom of expression. But I am certain of one thing, it is increasingly easy to completely disregard the other in our attempt to see ourselves. I’m certainly guilty of it. And while we may overthink our correspondence, or the blogs we write, we may not be asking the right question of the words we write. Not every post is necessary. Not every post is helpful. Not every post is going help build others up.
But there is good news! There are ways to avoid the inevitable. Ways to curb our tongues while still speaking our truths. We can choose to build others up or tear them down. It’s a choice, these words we speak. Will we choose well?
Note to self: Words from the mouth of the wise are gracious, but fools are consumed by their own lips. Ecclesiastes 10:12
Confession: our house is always a mess. Lately, I can’t keep up and frankly, I haven’t even been trying. Sometimes, life is just busy and you don’t get to choose what falls to the wayside.
However, I do hit my limit eventually. And Friday night, as I headed to bed I looked at IZ and said, “I can’t walk tomorrow–this house has to be cleaned.”
I wish I could say I was one of those people who kept up with cleaning on a daily basis. But, other than making sure the dishes are done every night, I’m not. For the most part, I’ve accepted that this isn’t my strong suit. My gifts and graces do not include ” keeping an immaculate house” and I’m ok with that.
What I will tell you, though, is that I adore a clean house. Who doesn’t really? There is something so hopeful about looking around your space and seeing everything, ok mostly everything, in its proper place. Sure, keeping up with these chores daily would mean not spending an entire Saturday to remedy the mess–but, oh is the effort worth it. Even if it’s done all on one exhausting day.
I woke up yesterday to find IZ and Geo watching anime in the living room. As I began to clean, IZ said, “Don’t worry about the kitchen.” And then he booted our son into his room to clean it and began to clean the kitchen. He did all the floors too. Which meant that I actually had enough steam at the end of the day to tackle the laundry in its various stages of undone.
Clean sheets, vacuumed floors, fresh flowers — it doesn’t take much to remind me how much I love living in this house. Despite the unpainted walls and crumbling carpets. But a man who doesn’t let you clean alone, is priceless.
When we were first married IZ worked in downtown Seattle, just moments from Pike’s Place Market. On Fridays, he would swing by the market on his way home from work and bring me an armful of flowers. Usually big bunches of dahlias, but sometimes sunflowers or wildflowers, anything that was in season. It’s such a fond memory.
We had this huge worktable in our kitchen and I would arrange flowers on it, while IZ would make dinner. It was a chance to catch up on his day. He worked a stressful job and I remember those moments of times of just being present. Listening and supporting and hoping for him, all the things he wanted to accomplish. And it wasn’t lost on me then, either, that in the midst of such turmoil at work, he always made time to bring me flowers.
We’ve grown up. And moved too many times. And these days, when I want flowers, I just go get them. The downside, I suppose, of working from home. He doesn’t have a flower stand to swing by on his way home for work.
So, it was a lovely moment this afternoon, when on our way home from his haircut he pulled over to my favorite flower stand and bought me a bouquet. His day, his week has been complicated and stressful and there’s not much I can do to remedy the problems he’s facing right now. But once again, he’s there with flowers reminding me again that the definition of love is putting the other first.
When he got back in the car, he leaned over and gave me a kiss, “Here you go, Friday Flowers.”
What makes a cherry chocolate scone taste sweeter? Giving up sugar 10 days before you eat it!
IZ and I have been off sugar for 10 days. I should clarify, we’ve given up processed/refined sugar. We still eat a wee bit of fruit and there’s the reality there’s sugar in everything– so, we’re aiming to be 95% sugar free this August. (We’re taking it a month at a time!)
But today is Regatta and Regatta typically means eating homemade cherry pie on the porch while watching the fireworks. Plus, one of our lovely neighbors is throwing a party. An Ice Cream Social …. with ice cream. We adore this neighbor (and most of our neighborhood!) and wouldn’t dream of missing her party. But it does create a bit of dilemma: go to the party and not eat ice cream (kinda rude!) or break our sugar fast for the day.
We opted for the latter. I don’t know about you, but I can’t stand to bump into people who give up sugar/chocolate/coffee/dessert for Lent… and then piously tell you all about it. Typically while you’re shoving a piece of said sacrifice into your own face. Yay! My inner snark goes off and I start to not like you them… a little. We didn’t want to be those people at an ice cream party, “Oh, we’re off sugar. But you know, go ahead and enjoy. Don’t mind us.”
So, I completely apologize if you’re reading this while consuming a candy bar. I’m not giving up sugar because I’m holy–if that helps. I’m not even giving it up because I think sugar is toxic (though, it probably is??). I’m giving it up because nothing else is working! IZ and I pound out at least 25 miles a week and have for months, but nothing is budging. Sure, my calves are like stones, but my middle is hanging on to the fat like a toddler with a precious toy.
When you google this charming little fact, Dr. Google suggests that my problem is one of 2 things. 1: Perimenopause, or 2: Too much sugar. There’s no doubt 1 is at hand . . . but I can’t shake the hunch that sugar might be part of the problem as well. (Or the suspicion that it’s going to take more than a month to figure it out!)
So, for the next month (or two or three) no mochas, no chocolate, no refined sugars or processed anything.
Except today–today we’re breaking our fast. We’re 10 days in, so it feels like such a reward! IZ, lover of cherry pie, opted for cherry chocolate scones instead of pie. Less sugar and he knows I will only eat a sliver of pie and he didn’t want to get stuck with the whole thing.
Let me tell you! 10 days without sugar makes everything sweet taste sweeter. I cut back the sugar in these scones (1/4 cup instead of 1/3) and they taste like I added more! We sat out on our porch this morning and savored our little cheat.
We’ll be back on our fast tomorrow, which makes today just a wee bit sweeter.
IZ: Yes. And that’s what happens when you leave me in charge of unloading the groceries.
Me: But where in the fridge? I’m not seeing them in the veggie drawer?
IZ: That’s because they’re not a vegetable. Look in the fruit drawer.
Me: Really? *eyeroll*
IZ: And while we’re on the subject–tomatoes are berries and that’s why I keep them in fruit drawer. Stop moving them.
Me: It’s come to this? Seriously?
IZ: And you know where cucumbers go?
Me: Don’t even do it…
IZ: Next to the melons.
IZ: And you know where melons can go?
Me: I’m leaving now…
IZ: In. My. Hands.
And this, friends, is foreplay. I’m ashamed to say the boy got lucky after that conversation. I’ll insist that it was because he used the vacuum and made dinner that night. But it’s probably because I find his corny sense of humor charming. That and he calls what I have “melons” when clearly, they’re more like grapefruit.