Done being sorry.

Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 7.42.13 AMSomething is rolling around in my ribcage… it’s a strange, sick feeling. Like I should apologize.  Like I did something wrong. Shame. Like I should feel bad or weird about making choices about my own life. Yet, I have no one to answer to but myself, my kids and the people I choose to spend my time with. I choose. It’s my choice. Mine. I thought I didn’t care, or could shake it off, but as it turns out I woke up still kind of ragey about it. Here goes.

I’m really fucking tired of something. (Ok, several things, cause let’s face it, I have a lot going on.) But it occurred to me yesterday that while I have very few fucks left to give– there’s one, one BIG one, that I am not going to let go of.

I am done apologizing for being a strong woman. Done diminishing my own light to make others glow. For trying so desperately to shrink and take up no room so that everyone else gets to be GIANT. Don’t misunderstand me, I will always shine a spotlight made of bright, neon, flashing atomic particles and a billion captive fireflies when I believe in you and love you– I will always LIFT UP MY PEOPLE like a wild woman. That’s my thing and that will not stop. If you’re mine, even just a little, you know this.

But hear this.

As women, we are asked to apologize for absolutely everything. We even start answers to questions, or questions of others with “sorry, I just wanted to ask…” or “sorry I thought it might be good to point out that…” I find myself doing it at work and I can’t help it. I hear younger women doing it and I want to correct them gently, but for some reason stop myself. The hashtag #sorrynotsorry exists because we even need to apologize publicly when we’re NOT SORRY.

Sorry.

I realized today when my own boundaries were being pushed that there was some part of me still apologizing. Saying “please.” Like I needed to use my manners when telling another human to back the fuck up. I laid out a clear boundary and it was being pushed. Over and over. And I felt like I had to be nice.

Sorry.

As a woman, facing aggression is just so woven into the fabric of our experience that we don’t even notice it anymore. Boys will be boys. Mean girls happen. There’s a whole list of transgressions available for our use; bump into these babies and be guaranteed a public shaming. And it’s a tough list to navigate; just when you think you’ve got it down, you walk just a little too far to the right of the line and BAM, you’re into shame-ville.

Be good. Be sexy. Not too sexy. Don’t LIKE sex. Have enough sex so he stays. Leave if he hurts you. Don’t leave too soon cause maybe you could work it out. Discuss marriage and babies cause you should want them. Don’t pressure him too much into marriage and babies or he might leave. Have strong opinions. Don’t share your opinions too often. Be skinny. Oh that’s too skinny, eat a fucking burger. You need to take care of yourself as a mom of small kids. You are spending way too much time away from your kids. Should you be dating? When are you going to get married again? Teach your kids that women are leaders. You’re working a lot of hours lately, aren’t you?

Sorry. 

The worst part? Often, the aggression comes from women. It comes from people who should get it. Which I think is what’s stuck in my ribcage. When did we get permission to engage in shit like this against other women?

Sorry.

I could go on and on about sisterhood and lifting each other up– but I feel like you know all that already and frankly, I’m still a little too pissed off to go there. What I am saying is about me. About my promise to try just a little bit harder to stop apologizing. I will not shrink. I will make decisions about my own life. I’ve spent so many years allowing other people to make those choices… their large and small aggressions shifting my own plans, dreams and hopes. In ways I honestly did not even realize at the time. I want to be a women that other, younger, women look at and go, “oh her, yeah, she’s badass. She’s doing her thing. She’s not afraid.” That’s it. That’s all I want. Cause I am done. Being sorry.

Not sorry. 

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To everything…

13600326_10209025848954767_3537612118165313709_nPardon me while I engage in a little stream of consciousness this evening. I’ve been out of town and off of writing and then I needed to write so badly my head kind of exploded for a minute, so here I am furiously typing, brain faster than fingers, and not entirely sure what to say. These are the ramblings of a me at the end of a few days where I’ve been caught by so many pleasant surprises. I mean, I think I knew what was coming… but I didn’t, til we were right there. Right here. 

To everything, there actually is a season. And sometimes you love it and sometimes you fucking hate it. And sometimes that little sucker just takes you by so much surprise.

Last summer, I was the Fun Fascist. We HAD FUN at ALL COSTS cause dammit your Dad had moved out, and I was calling the shots and we WOULD HAVE ALL THE FUN!

This summer, I feel less like this. I feel more like I personally want to have all the fun and make sure you just get some of the goodness of your mama. The goodness I can offer as I wallow through the final threads of a marriage; one chapter closing. Another opening. The anticipatory relief of reclaiming my original name– getting back to the me I was before there was a we and we were 4, then 3. That me of so long ago. I wouldn’t go fully back to her, but I’d like to get just a little glimmer of that fierce adventurous girl again.

I’ve seen her a few times lately. In saying yes to getting to know a new man-friend (he’d like you to know he has a job and really nice teeth. Both true.). In saying yes to theater. In saying yes to writing. In saying yes to the real me buried beneath all the mommy STUFF that came with tiny babies– as I creep my way back out into the world. As the world keeps saying “yes, you I see you. I get you. I feel you girl. Do you and we’ve got this.”

This summer, we will do fun things and long sandy days at the beach. We’ll eat pizza in our underwear and chase lizards at twilight.

But I will also do me. I will spend lazy afternoons with Netflix and said man-friend. I will go to Vegas with my best girls. I will write and write until it all breaks free. See, I did an audacious thing. I asked for some big time off from work. I asked, and I received. I have the next 6 weeks to just BE.

And I could not be more pleased, terrified, excited and ready.

 

 

 

Empty Nest

Baby birdThey chirped all weekend. There was fluttering and noise; foreshadowing a secret, impending move. I didn’t know. The only clue I had was that one little intrepid baby had hopped out of the confines of the nest; she was loudly balking at her siblings and I said “way to go girl, look at you!” and carried the groceries into the house.

The next morning, the nest was quiet. The nest was empty. 

I didn’t know, until I knew.

I felt some grief at the loss of this little family who had chosen our home to make theirs. I was captivated by the mama and her ability to create this perfect little round space for her babies. And that she just knew how to do it. There was no playbook for her either. I felt a kinship as she worked so hard on the nest, then sat on her eggs, eventually flying back and forth over and over and over with bugs and worms for them. She seemed tireless– and just somehow knew to do the thing they needed. The daddy bird came back once they were born and from what I could tell, mostly squawked and clung to the side of the garage, but that could be my judgement on nature’s decision. I don’t agree with it, but I respect it from a distance. (Get them some damn worms too man!)

That same day, I read this incredible quote that will sit at the beginning of the newest book by one of my faves, Jen Hatmaker, shared on her FB page.

“Many people between the ages of thirty and sixty – whatever their stature in the community and whatever their personal achievements – undergo what can truly be called a second journey. The second journey begins when we cannot live the afternoon of life according to the morning program.” ~ Brennan Manning

Now, when it comes to Carolina Wrens, their morning and afternoon seasons are quick. They live like 2 years, tops, if everything goes according to plan. Their seasons are forever on fast-forward. (Yes, that’s a thing from before when we were young and dinosaurs roamed this great land; it was a called a V-C-R; look it up.) So I get why mama wasted NO TIME; and I get why one day they were there and the very next, gone.

What struck me most about the Manning quote was the “when we cannot“; not when we “choose” or when we “realize” but when something inside of us just simply stops being able to. It’s instinct; it’s evolution; it’s IN us. Like the little wrens and their sudden departure. It wasn’t a choice– they simply could not. They probably could have squeezed their sweet little fluffy butts in that nest for a few more days; enjoying the warmth of the familiar, even if it was growing very uncomfortable. But they could not. So they moved on.

I kept looking for signs of our shared grief. Did she leave a thank you? Will she come back for a night to rest in her nest before moving on? Even the little shells were disposed of. Mama wren apparently knows very well how to draw the line between her morning and afternoon programs. Sister is squarely out into her second journey; and I hope it’s a smooth one.

As for me, I too know, by just knowing, that I am into my second journey. I am not even a little bit who I was before because I am making choices based on my deeply entrenched gut instinct and feeling really confident in that. I cannot live further putting myself last. I cannot live further making myself and my kiddos so BUSY we don’t have time to realize what’s missing. I cannot live further saying it doesn’t hurt that I lost a marriage but gained a me. I cannot live further making a thousand excuses as to why I shouldn’t just write a damn book. I cannot live further without exploring the confines of my heart. I cannot live further without being weird, silly, devoted, sarcastic yet fiercely kind. I cannot live further not being just exactly me.

Good afternoon dear friends.

xo

 

 

 

There’s No Playbook for This. #orlando

13419162_10208818682815743_8640487138148675774_nA year ago this week, I had to sit my baby boys down and explain to them that a bad man with a gun killed people in our home city, in a church, because of the color of their skin.

This morning, I had to sit my baby boys down and explain to them that a bad man with a gun killed people because of who they love.

Here’s how the conversation went. Un-edited. Because there’s no playbook for this.

N: Mommy, what does your shirt say?

Me: “Y’all Means All.”

E: What does that mean?

Me: See the rainbow colors on the “All”? And you know how every year we walk in the rainbow parade?

(Fuck, fuck, fuck, I can’t believe I have to do this.)

E: Yes?

Me: Well, we are a family who believes that any type of love is the right type of love. We believe that God created every human in God’s image. We do what’s in our hearts and what we know is right– which is to accept and love people exactly as they were born. And unfortunately, yesterday, a very bad man killed a group of gay people just because they are gay, which is the worst and most wrong thing he could have done.

E: Mommy, what’s “gay”?

Me: That means that men love and want to marry men, women love and want to marry women, which of course, is totally good and right. Love is love. We have lots of gay people who we love, who are in our family, who are at our church and who are our friends.

N: Guns can be really bad, right mommy?

Me: Yes baby, they can be, especially when used if people are mad.

E: Mommy, but why did God create the bad guy? Like John Wilkes Booth who killed Abraham Lincoln?

(Fuck, you’re so smart for 7. Why indeed baby?)

Me: Well, God also gave humans the ability to make choices. And unfortunately there are people who make the very worst choices. Which is why we need to make bigger and better choices than the bad people.

E: In school, we know where to hide if a bad guy comes.

(Fuck, are you kidding me I am raising babies in a world where they GET this? Where they PRACTICE for this? Where he was able to CONNECT those dots?)

Me: And baby, you do EXACTLY what your teacher tells you to in those drills. Do you promise me?

E: Yes Mommy.

Me: Do you guys have any questions for me? I  know this is really hard and sad stuff to hear and I’m so sad that I have to say this to you.

N: Mommy, did you pack my ninja turtle?

Me: Yes, sweet boy, I packed him.

(Ok, I think we’re done. We made it. Until the next one.)

Show up in love today dear ones. Pray that we are done with these conversations. 

 

Stanford Dad: You are the Helicopter Parent from Hell

Screen Shot 2016-06-06 at 10.47.16 AMSo I had seen everyone posting about it online– saw the headlines as I scrolled past; words like “rape” “drunk” “Stanford” and something about a judge that intervened and made people really, really mad. I just couldn’t. Last week was a big week and I was busy. I knew it would haunt me and I would get really angry, so I didn’t read anything.

(Except that’s kind of the problem– we’re all too busy and really it wasn’t about me even a little bit; except the part of me I could see myself in; that too drunk 20-something. It’s about bearing witness even when it’s hard; we are a society that scrolls past and I hate it. We have a choice to scroll past. The victim did not. This is a tangential digression, but I need to check myself here.)

Then this morning, I finally clicked on it. And read the powerful, important, horrifying and beautiful statement from the victim.

A few minutes later I found myself saying “no you may not have that year old Halloween candy you just found” to my 7-year-old for the 5th time. And then all of a sudden I was saying “When someone says no you STOP. You STOP. Do you hear me? Repeat it back to me. You need to know that you STOP. You ALWAYS STOP at the first no. Without permission, you DON’T DO THE THING. Even if you really, really want to, do you understand???”

I don’t think it was about the candy.

See, the father of the perpetrator, the sexual predator, wrote a statement excusing his boy for his “20 minutes” of bad actions. Now, I am not in your shoes sir, but this is the ultimate act of helicopter parenting. He didn’t mean to. He’s a good boy. He likes to cook and swim and play. This is the grown up, horrifying version of parents on the playground going “Oh he’s sorry, aren’t you baby? He didn’t meant to knock you off the slide and step on your face! He was just being silly.”

Parents, wake the FUCK up. Stop this, stop it right now. Our children need boundaries, they need consequences and they need to know that we do NOT actually have their backs all the time. Let them fall on the playground, let them scrape their knees, let them get a time the FUCK out if they hurt someone. You did not give birth to tiny friends who need you to pat them on the back and give them a trophy everytime they poop; you gave birth to small humans who have NO CLUE how to exist on this planet and need you to show them and then let them try for themselves and FAIL. Let them go through the process of trial and error– and get it WRONG now and then. And when they do, swiftly and lovingly PUNISH THEM.

Hear me boys of mine: I will always love you but I will not always agree with your choices. God forbid I find myself on the receiving end of the news that you violated someone because while I will show up to the courtroom, heartbroken and shattered, everyday, I will also allow you to serve whatever sentence is handed down to you. Because at that point, you better KNOW you should have done better.

I will also do MY PART as your mother now to raise you to be a little scared of doing bad things. I will let you fall, I will let you fight it out sometimes, I will allow you to suffer the consequences of the choices you make. You can cry, scream, kick and hate me– but guess what, that’s my JOB.

There will be haters to this post- have at it- but at the end of the day, this is my plea to parents: stop hovering. Stop bubble-wrapping them. This is up to us. Stop this now.

 

 

It’s the theat-ah dahling.

OliverCastSee that grinning fool up there in the front row/left? Yes, that’d be me. And that look on my face is what theater does to me; when I sit in the audience. When I think about it later. When I finally took the leap and auditioned again. It’s what going after my heart’s true creative passion brings– that look. On my face.

I am one of those people who doesn’t have just one “thing;” I need to try on a variety before I get just the right fit. And in doing so end up being a fierce mama bear who writes, runs, speaks, sings, acts, is passionate about diversity and equity, works full time in education and manages people like they are her very own people. I always joke that I don’t half do anything– and when I crash, I crash HARD.

For the past 2 months I have spent some part of almost every evening with those wonderful, talented, weird theater people in that picture with me, rehearsing for a local production of Oliver!, that opens this week. I have spent countless hours away from my kids, my boyfriend, and my friends; I have not returned calls, gone on a run or made it to the gym. I’ve been truly running on empty– for the sake of that smile on my face. For the sake of doing me. BEING ME. But Kate, didn’t you say that about training for a half marathon? About volunteering abroad? About nurturing your babies? About marching in pride parades and anti-racism protests? God bless woman could you just NOT for a second?

Well, yes. I suppose I could not. But. My son’s teacher gave him the award for “Creativity” for this year in school and my heart soared for him– and then for me. Because of course my kid did, because my kid sees that being creative, weird, artistic and brave brings a smile like that to his mama’s face. My little one told me last week that his favorite weekend recently was when we went to paint the set. And by “paint” I mean they painted styrofoam bits that are now rocks on the walls of the set and then played silly games with some kids in the cast for the majority of the time. But they got to be there. To feel the energy of the stage. To hear the cast singing along to ipods blasting showtunes. To see me– their mama– doing her thing. I cannot wait for them to come this weekend and sit in the magical, expectant theater seats when the band plays, the lights come up and I come out.

A friend recently polled a few of us on “why theater?” and I couldn’t really answer it at the time. But now, as I sit nightly backstage and listen to my cast-mates on stage, as I walk into the bright lights and bring the comedic relief to a somewhat dark show, as I feel the butterflies and the warmth of doing something awesome…? I know the answer. The answer is just: cause theater. Art. Creativity. Light. Doing the thing that lives under your heart and giving it wings to fly free. I am so grateful that I get to do theater again. That I was brave enough to try and the Director met me with a “yes.”

 

 

 

Even Superheroes Need a Rest

ScreenShot2016-04-26at11.38.55AMI called my boyfriend to tell him the great news. “Babe! I got test results back and looking at them it appears that… I am slightly anemic! Isn’t that awesome?!” First, please imagine for a moment what it’s like to date me. Special indeed. Second, he’s all “hey babe, pro tip? Start with ‘everything is totally fine’ and then roll into test results, k?” Good talk.

For the last several weeks I’ve just been feeling BLAH, foggy and sort of not me. I couldn’t put my finger on it entirely but I haven’t felt motivated to run, have had a really hard time concentrating at work, there’s not enough coffee on the planet and I just have not been able to do ANYthing. Except work full time, single parent two kids, have a role in a musical theater production, and contribute weekly’ish to an on-line site for Moms. But not with the same gusto. I am typically the energizer bunny and the past month or so? A sloth. I mean, the cute kind who works at the DMV like in Zootopia, but a sloth nonetheless. I started off with the obvious: my deviant thyroid who is the asshole that keeps on giving. Nope, TSH levels all good. Pregnant? Also in the clear. So, only two obvious remaining choices: 1) I have cancer or 2) I am a failure who cannot handle life. I very effectively talked myself into believing that I had finally reached a point where I’ve given up and there’s just too much wrong with me and my crazy life to make sense anymore. I may as well just throw in the towel, gain 30 pounds and happily eat all the chips and ice cream I’ve said no to for years (ok, that last part is some serious creative license, let’s be real, I’ve never met a pint of the cold stuff I didn’t like). Forget writing, forget performing, forget being supermom, SLOTH it IS!

Hi, you still there? Yup, it’s me Sally Self-loathing. Nice to meet you.

I mean what the actual fuck right?! I went from, potentially clinically ill to, if not that then just MUST NOT BE WORTHY. I went straight into shame-filled failure-mode, where many of us modern moms who try to do/be/have it all just loooove to live. I mean we throw PARTIES in this fun-filled land of not-good-enough! Usually with wine and low-carb snacks. We’re ironic that way.

So when the test results came back (yes, I went back to the doctor because I did have those tiny baby cancer cells in ye olde thyroid last year, so you have to check all the things when you suddenly feel not so great) and it showed a little bit of anemia I was LITERALLY ELATED. Like, pumped. There was an actual reason! It was not me! I was not slipping into a pit of dark stinking failure! Best day ever!

And then I realized the awful self narrative I’d been dancing around. Ugh.

Here’s me on paper: I am currently pursuing dreams I had hung up in a deep, dark closet as a young adult by writing and singing again. I ran a half marathon last year. I am trusting with my whole heart again even after it was shattered to bits. I show up day in and day out for my boys. I manage a team of really successful people at the top ranked company to work for. I have a community of people around me who are so incredible and support me in myriad ways.

Yet. I assumed that when I was feeling tired, I was just actually a failure. That the truth was coming out and my jig was up.

Friend, who are you on paper? Please write it down. Please see the worth in all of the monumental things you are doing every day. Please also take care of yourself when you’re tired and acknowledge that even superheroes need a rest now and then.

I promise to (try to) take my own advice.

And to take my iron and kelp pills. Cause I’m that lady now, with the pill organizer featuring the weird green ones nobody wants to ask about.

xo

 

 

Let it go: Vacation

kidsvacaySo a while back I wrote a thing about my vacation expectations— and how wrong (so wrong, all the wrong) they typically are. This was also during a summer of great personal upheaval and smack in the middle of a transition from family-of-four to family-of-two-homes-and-shared-visitation. Therefore, my desire to control everything and MAKE IT PERFECT at all costs was potentially, marginally, heightened. Enter last week, when we went on one of the very best vacations we’ve been on. What was different? Well, a few things (location, people, timing, age of small humans), but having had some time to really think about it since we got back– I am realizing that mostly what was different was me. That old saying about “if mama ain’t happy ain’t nobody happy”? Truer words have never been meme-a-fied.

I experienced a lot of things in the beautiful mountains of North Carolina last week, but here are my Top 3 Things to Consider When you are a Control Freak on Vacation:

  1. Your people just want time with you- not the beautiful image of vacation you have in your head. Just actual messy, imperfect, wonderful you. Go ahead and make all the lists, plans, and itineraries you want, but when it comes down to it, just be present. One of my favorite things we did was hiking around the Blue Ridge Parkway. This was not on my original plan, nor were we even sure of where we were going. It all seemed too far, the roads too windy for a small human with a tendency toward car sickness, and just too many unknowns for this gal. But we went. Because first, I trusted the Eagle Scout man in my life to just take the lead, with only a small amount of protest from me. Because I let go, we got to go on a serious adventure together– the trailhead we couldn’t find (and are still laughing about), the tunnels where the kids screamed “ECHO!” as we drove through, Little One peeing off the side of a beautiful overlook cliff and the grand finale: the roaring waterfall we hiked to where we just played on the rocks, looked for bugs, and generally just were.
  2. Don’t try so hard to separate grown up activities from kid activities; chances are you’ll all find joy in different ways together. I typically approach vacation as a “the kids will love this” and the “adults will then get to do that.” And this time, I blurred those lines a whole lot. I (mostly) stopped viewing the boys as a commodity to wear out so they’d fall asleep like drunken pirates after a raid (you know that deep, deep post-beach-type slumber…?) at like 7 pm so the grown ups could have their time, but instead loved seeing them experience artists painting, street musicians playing, play areas and gardens at breweries (I know right?!), staying up a little later for a campfire and s’mores, and the be-all-end-all: daily hottub plunge! I got to see so much more of them as people and doing so really required me to just chill the actual F out. Really, it’s possible. Hard. But possible.
  3. I did not care about my clothing, bathing suit or accessory choices. When I usually pack for a vacation (and I swear, this is since childhood), I have envisioned what I would like to look like and how I would like to appear to other people, as I am jaunting, enjoying, exploring, etc. This is TRUTH. It’s nuts, right? I did, as always, overpack, but I did NOT get my nails done before we left. I did NOT spend lots of time changing outfits each morning to get it “right.” I did wear clothes that were functional and cute, but mostly because I felt good in them. I also DID wear a bikini in the hottub everyday. In the spring. After winter. No spray tan. Mom stretch marks. Yup. It was really, actually liberating to just be like “oh clothes? To cover my body so we can go do awesome things?” Instead of this: “An ensemble that exudes the she’s-got-it-all, she’s-so-carefree, her-kids-are-so-perfect, they must eat organic quinoa and bunny shaped avocados everyday” image I have, in the past, so wanted the world to immediately experience when they see me.

The awesome part? When I did these 3 things here’s what I got in return: starry nights in a mountain hottub, brilliant shooting star included. Muddy knees from kneeling in creeks, by firepits and on waterfall rocks. Coffee in bed with morning kid snuggles. Kids gathering kindling on a hike for their s’mores fire later in the day. Memories.

 

Joyful Noise

 

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What do they have to do with anything? Read on.

Re-posted from my DivorcedMoms.com article. This is one of my favorite pieces that I’ve written so far and also wanted to share it here. Oh wait, did I forget to mention that tiny tidbit?! I now have the word “Contributor” next to my name on that site– and two other awesome Mom-focused sites have accepted my work, to go live in April and May. I cannot even. At all. Thank you for all of your support and love friends. 

We had several tense months of continuing to cohabitate after the big news and subsequent decision to split. He was in the guest room, I was in our room and it just felt so icky. It was hard for the kids to understand this new sleeping arrangement– and I constantly listened for his movements around the house. Was he online? Was he on the phone? Was he listening for me too? We communicated only about the essentials and kept all other life business separate. Tense whispered conversations were the norm and chocolate, wine and extra Zumba classes were my happy place.

Then came the rather un-ceremonial day he moved out– it was a Wednesday and happened while I was at work. I came home and he was gone. Obvious missing pieces of our marital puzzle were everywhere; a nightstand, a toothbrush, his sock bin. But something else was missing too. The weight of the tension that had hung over our home for months was gone. There was a palpable shift and I started to get my mojo back. I lit candles and watched a favorite movie; I was fully in control of the remote. It was heaven. What I am discovering is that there are upsides to separation and divorce; bright spots in and among the muck of working through sadness, resentment and paperwork.

Ever disagree with your spouse over where to eat on vacation? For some reason this was a huge issue in my growing up home and my marriage. I don’t know what it is about choosing Luau Bob’s vs. Salty Pete’s but there’s something about the push/pull of marriage that can make decisions like this feel bigger than they should. The first time I went away solo with the kids for a long beach weekend was HEAVEN. I made the choices on where we ate, I set the bedtime routine, I lazed by the pool while they splashed in the kiddie area; it was great to just go with my own flow vs. anticipate the argument and then most likely give in to his plan, as had happened for years of vacations prior.

One of the biggest things I needed to reclaim after our marriage ended was my physical space- namely, the master bedroom. I chose a beautiful, deep purple that was way more feminine than he would have been comfortable with and went to town. I bought matching curtains, rugs, throw pillows and a duvet; investing in decorating was not his thing either, but is so mine. I also hung up my running medals and beautiful quotes that speak to me, painted on canvas by a friend. I made my nightstand a kid-free zone and stacked books from my favorite authors there, inspiration all around from sleeping to waking. Point is, I took back my space by making my preferences a priority.

My closest cousins and I have a thing about ABBA. I don’t know where it came from or why, but we are all big into ABBA dance parties (usually after a serving or two of vino). My husband just didn’t get it. It was a sign of our mismatched relationship that he saw this as more a nuisance than yet another quirky, adorable part of my being; but there we were and my ABBA dance parties were relegated to special occasions or girls-only weekend trips. Once he moved out? You better believe that household chores are performed on the regular to ABBA, with loud singing along included. The kids think it’s hilarious and they now see a sillier side of their mama than before; we dance together and sing like there’s nobody watching; cause nobody but us is.

As I continue to work through where it all went wrong and what I want to learn from the end of my marriage, I am looking for moments of light; joy when we were together and joy now that we’re apart. Darkness and light will always be present and I’m trying to glean wisdom from each in identifying what are the things that make me, me? Dance parties, feeling like my voice and choices are heard, and moments where I can feel like the decision maker, are a good start.

Book Review: Finding God in the Ruins

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I told you I took it everywhere.

Let me get this off my chest and out of the way: first of all, reviewing someone’s book is like them handing you their newborn for the weekend and being all “let me know what you think of their potential as a human and oh, please don’t break them while you’re at it, k?” Like, friend, you wrote a whole BOOK and so automatically I am like “5 stars! Way to adult the hell outta this sucker! You WROTE all this?” Once over that, you immediately selfie-and-post all OVER the place, cause that puppy says “Advanced Ready Copy” on it and you realize you’re a little bit of a big deal. Whatevs. K. Done.

Matt Bays’ book “Finding God in the Ruins” was an unexpected treasure. Several of my other writer friends had already extolled his wisdom, depth of soul and beautiful way of truthfully turning himself inside out in words. I was expecting to love the book, but I wasn’t expecting to be moved, lifted and opened up by the book.

I recently took time to flip back through the book and read (decode) my exclamations and scribble in the margins (which were plenty and filled with stars, arrows, “oh shits” and “what the actual…?” “me too!”).

First, let me say that this book, yes, has the big G in the title and yes is very much a book about faith and relationship with God. I am still walking my path on that journey and it’s not something I typically address too deeply, especially publicly, but whether you are a believer in the typical Judeo/Christian God, the gods of the universe, Mother Earth, or just the rise and swell of the oceans– there is something for you here. I found this book to be so raw and relatable; so truthy and so wise, you will learn, you will relate and you will hear it echo during your day, no matter your starting point.

Some quotes I’d like to point our attention to, mostly because I about stopped breathing upon reading them:

On Truth:

“But the truth is, after a while our untold stories begin telling our deepest secrets without our permission.”

On Telling Our Stories:

“But if you continue turning the pages and inviting others to read along, you will find the grace of God beautifully on display on your “storytold.”

On the Ruins:

“Sometimes it feels as if God has invited himself into my pain, when I had hoped to be invited into his healing.”

Right?!!!

What kept resonating for me as I read about Matt’s struggle with faith and moving through his own “ruins” was that I was simultaneously reminded of Brene Brown’s “arena.” Matt and Brene came to the very same conclusions about people moving through pain as sort of this face-down moment, and then a choice; her through research, him through relationship with God; same ending. You sit in those ruins (face down in the arena) or you start to slowly get. back. up. And the getting back up is where they somewhat differ but really Brene’s rumble and Matt’s “storytold” are like long lost cousins and I wanted to reunite them. Research with thousands upon thousands of participants and deep relationship with God– including a break up with God– brought us to the same point of understanding. Let that sink in for a moment. I was floored.

While both authors “speak” (<–understatement, but there’s not a word grandiose enough to express how they crawl right into my chest and sit there while I work shit out) to me, Matt’s image of the “ruins” felt more authentic to my own experience of loss, and the great crap-storm of ‘15. The pieces were all still there around me, they had just fallen down and I needed to put them back together- absolutely in different form than before it all fell down, but like Matt, through truth, telling my story and relationship with God, I was able to move through (still am), that pain.

Matt’s story is one that needed telling. I am still sitting here flipping through my copy and the exclamations in the margin. If you are in the ruins or feeling yourself about to “rumble” get this book. It will speak to you like “a voice so small it could fit only within the most peculiar crack of [your] heart.”

Want more? Read a excerpt from Finding God in the Ruins on New York Times bestselling author Ann Voskamp’s website: http://bit.ly/1Pa4R7C

(I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my true thoughts about it. <3)