You Cannot Have it All.

And do you want it all? Is that actually the question we should be asking ourselves? All is a lot. How about some, a bit, my bit, the bit I already have; but all?

In my 20s, I followed the popular notion (probably from Sex and the City) that you could not have all three of the key success indicators at the same time: the relationship, the apartment, the job. I used this as my barometer and usually felt like 2 out of 3 meant I was doing pretty well and I didn’t worry about it all that much. I didn’t think I could have it all, the cosmos and the NYC housing and dating markets pretty much determined that, so I went with it.

Enter the age of Pinterest. Where all the people, especially all the women, seem to not only HAVE it all (beautifully decorated nurseries with cribs made from reclaimed barn doors and bento box lunches with 4 varieties of kale) but be able to DO it all. And not one to let a competition go (it IS after all a competition, right?) I dove in head first, especially when my littles were teeny. Birthday parties, crafts, organic lunches, gardening, writing, performing, working, running, weekend excursions, mom’s groups… the list went on. Oh, and I didn’t forget to take pictures of it ALL, so ALL the people knew I had it ALL and can do it ALL. Holy shit was I exhausted.

Enter last week, when I posted this quote on my Facebook group:

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Y’all, you had some FEELINGS about this one! Whoa. And it struck me that I might need to take inventory– cause if I am appearing to be someone who has it all and can do it all, but on the inside am dying 400 tiny deaths a day because I am just so fucking tired and my schtick is truth telling maybe I had a little, ahem, self truth-evaluating to do. Last week alone I: PTA’d, worked full time, took a voice lesson, attended an all morning United Way program review meeting, got published on divorcedmoms.com for the first time, did more kid care than usual cause their Dad had to swap, had strep throat, hung out with my boo (oh hey Nurse Jackie marathon), went to church, volunteered at church group, coached running– and the usual weekly life stuff with kids, a home and pets. That is a WHOLE LOT. And I find JOY in all of it (except the strep part, ick). I am a joy-filled person who just cannot fucking say no to anything or anyone.

People often ask me, how do you do it all? The answer is: coffee, not a lot of sleep, and a small prayer each morning that we’ll make it through it one piece. I really think it’s time to prioritize and the reason that quote struck me so hard is that I immediately said: my heart, my people and my health. Boom. Done. There’s my list. Remember when I went on and on about self-care? Um, yes, those were lovely words. Lovely words that this girl needs to take to heart.

I have to break it to you friends- you cannot have it all. You really, actually cannot. Having it all means a few things: valuing stuff and image over you/your people. Running around til you break down into tiny pieces. Never saying no. Never putting you first. Not a whole lot of self care. I just don’t believe that we were meant to do, be or have it all. I think we are meant to be mostly good, mostly together and mostly well. We are meant to feel our humanity and do good acts for others. Attempting to have it all is really getting us into trouble, or at the very least, stretching us so thin that we’re missing all the actual awesome stuff.

I challenge you to celebrate today by saying no. By drawing a boundary around yourself, your time and your capabilities. In the home, at work, at play. Do you, and do you well.

Just. Say. No.

 

Nostalgia and Carpe’ing those Diems

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It happened again. The older woman meets younger mama at her very wits end about to utterly lose her shit in grocery store aisle; older woman looks longingly at popsicle- and tear-stained small children and says to younger mama “Oh it goes so fast. Enjoy them. They’re precious.” And younger mama (internally) is all “what the actual FUCK lady. I am single parenting this sinking ship and I am one heart palpation away from leaving them in the produce aisle so that some nice person, like you, who clearly raised buttercup baby angels can take them home. My kids are small demons who I actually grew on purpose and who have now rebelled by turning into rabid squirrels who think I’m mean and also left me with stretch marks.” And then (externally) is all “Yes, thank you. That’s what I hear. I hope it goes just a little faster than this moment right here, lolz. But thanks.” Younger mama feels off, icky and slightly shameful. They all carry on, but it’s always a little bit of an odd exchange and one that’s repeated over and over, I would venture to guess, everyday in some mega store over coffee and throw pillows.

This type of interaction actually spurned one of my favorite all time pieces of writing from Glennon Melton- Don’t Carpe Diem— a post that went viral because all of us were like ME FUCKING TOO when she said, nope you don’t have to enjoy every moment. Not at all. It gave us permission to be real, to be out there in all our messed up mommy glory and find other hot mess mamas to commiserate with.

Still. I can’t get the older ladies out of my head. What might they know that we don’t? What might the sweet longing in their eyes be telling us? What stories, with edges softened by time, might they be trying to share with us?

I read an article where a man who had been married for 60 years remarked “40 years were amazing. 20 of those? Meh, not so much.” Which sounds about right to me actually. In his experience about 1/3 of the time sucked, but the rest of it was bliss and when you’re in it that might be a LONG 20 year stretch (or several small sprints of crapiness), but at the end of it, the balance is squarely in the favor of love, honor, & a cherished life lived together. When he stands back and looks at the long path, the winding weird spiral of life that he can trace in the smile lines by her eyes, he sees the larger story. Maybe he sees their common purpose. Maybe he sees perseverance. Maybe he sees daily choices he made to keep showing up and dammit, that’s huge.

As the mama of not-so-tiny littles anymore, I sort of find myself doing this to mamas of teeny babies; wistfully remembering the scent of their heads nestled in my neck, instead of the 20 minutes he’d let me put him down enduring leaky, sore boobs and a two year old climbing on my back. The joy of the first giggle instead of the pain of leaving them at daycare the first time and all of the preparation, gear, planning and 257 loads of laundry it took to make it happen. Peaceful evenings spent in a rocking chair with droopy-eyed boys as they nursed to sleep instead of the pumping (that sound!) in a locked office while answering email and trying not to feel slightly awk that my boobs were out at work.

As with all things, time heals. Time helps us gain the perspective we need to form the softer, glowier memories. As a mama to littles, you earn your stripes in the battlefields of midnight vomit, grocery store meltdowns and the years where all they’ll eat are crackers and fruit snacks while you slave away over child-friendly organic quinoa and kale recipes. If you’re in those trenches right now, oh GIRL do I feel you. But. It was only a couple of years ago and already my scars are fading… and giving way to nostalgia. Somehow and without realizing it, I’ve turned a corner into having Kids instead of Babies. I know there are trenches ahead of me (teenage years with boys, ack) and continued heartache felt in times of powerlessness, especially as they become more and more their own people. But I also know that there will come a time far in the future when I look backward to the fleeting moments of babies and kids– and it will feel like a blink. And I will be an older mama looking at a younger mama wrestling sticky toddlers and it will seem like the sweetest moment of our past came back to visit for a split second. I will probably say something to her about cherishing it, but I will also add “I know this is hard. You are doing a great job mama. Be kind to yourself today.”

 

 

The fierceness of you.

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Gervase Kolmos (shinyhappyhuman.com), Angie Byrd (angiebyrd.com), Me, Amy Brennan (Executive Director, Center for Women)

Hey ladies, yup you. I am talking about how incredibly freaking fierce you are. Listen up sister friends. It’s actually really true what they say about the women who lift each other up; the palpable power of women coming together to learn, grow and share. To wildly tell the truth. It’s actually unstoppable. I am forever grateful for the women from all places and times of my life who have rallied around me, who continue to say things like “Write a book. Your words are like a song I want to hear sung.” 

So, confession- I was a little hesitant and all “oh boy a women’s conference” about speaking at the Charleston Center for Women’s annual conference. At. First. I was dripping with flip-ness (read: self doubt). I was placed with 2 other women on a panel about (gag) PASSION. First, I was like, um, what do I know and/or have to offer to other women about finding their passion? Like, I still don’t actually know what I want to be when I grow up and um, also, did you miss the memo about my ass on the kitchen floor puddled in all my broken pieces– and the yoga pants/pudding pops situation?

Then I remembered. I. Got. Up. And I said all these things to all of you about living with a heart broken wide open and fuck, fine, I’ll go do the thing. So, armored in geeky glasses and my best LulaRoe leggings, I bravely marched into Southend Brewery on a Thursday evening and met my fellow panelists. I was sure they’d be super together, glowy skinned, salad-eating and be all, ya know, well-postured in the I do yoga every day way. Can you hear the story I was telling myself here? Yup, self doubt, shame and what the fuckness ALL OVER the place. Well the truth is that they were 1) eating nachos, 2) also on the kitchen floor at various points in life and 3) well postured and glowy but like NOT in the obnoxious way. In the “oh my god I am already in love with both of you” way. They were amazing and I was hooked and we used words like “picking up your passion” “moving through your feelings” “letting go of self-judgement” and I didn’t want to barf– I wanted to marry them.

Flash forward to last Friday where hundreds of women from all walks of life came together to learn, grow, support one another and take action. The buzz in the room was buoyant and the three of us got up there and turned ourselves inside out, told our truths and helped other women own theirs. It was only 50 minutes, but I could actually feel the room moving together as women said “me too” over and over. ME. TOO. First, it’s sort of amazing what happens when you go after your own passion and you just put your stuff out there. Who the hell knew that my messy stuff could help your messy stuff and in turn we could walk away arm in arm? Second, never, ever underestimate what a woman can do. After our panel I had several women come up to me and tell me about their kitchen floor moments– about the horrible places they had found themselves in and about the choice  they made to get the f up. They talked about that place of “well I could sit here for always OR.” Or. And they all chose the latter. They all chose to move forward. And not only like one foot in front of the other, but actual leaps and bounds into starting non-profits for other women, going back to school, writing books, advocating for victims and telling their stories. And these women, these amazing warriors told me that MY WORDS had helped them that morning.

Jaw. Drop. No. Words.

Moral of this story: gorgeous people of the world– if you have a story, I’m going to need you to tell it. If you feel like there is something creatively buzzing away under your heart, your WACKY SWEET BLESSEDLY BROKEN heart, you have absolutely got to let it out. The world needs you and your story. Our stories, those spaces of “me too” are exactly what we need to heal. Ourselves, our babies, our nation, our collective heart.

Secondary moral of this story: if you are going to go after your passion, if you are trying to figure out what this other writer/speaker/truth teller side of you might be, and it’s gaining momentum– you just might, possibly, want to have business cards. Before you go to a conference. Of women. Looking for connections. Just a thought.

 

 

On love.

9492kpp1.jpgAs it turns out, life is not a fucking fairy tale. WHAT’S THAT YOU SAY? Love. Marriage. Babies. It’s not actually glass slippers, ball gowns and quiet strolls through rolling hills with a coo-ing baby, trailed by blue birds twittering the wedding march?! I’ve written about this before and my own disappointment at the growing-up stories that just didn’t come true. But as the world continues to churn out happy endings and box office dollars, I find myself stuck in the mired muck of working through what I thought was to be my fairy tale ending.

Truth: life and love are not fair, but fair is not the thing (if you’re over 4 years old. Otherwise, carry on, fair is totally the thing). Your heart will not only ever love one person, nor will it love any of the people in the same way. As it turns out, it takes a mergers-and-acquisitions-type-deal with your thinking, decision making brain to get your heart to keep showing up. Yes, yes dear ones, your heart will beat like a thousand butterflies took flight at a clap of thunder– but it will be your brain that says, “keep marching along sweet girl.” Your heart will SIGNAL you to the person. Your whole body in fact will tell you that their smell, sound, taste and soul are worth a second, third, 3000th try… but it’s your brain where you must make the choice to be present, in love. Or, let go, in love. Love, the verb.

Coming off the coattails of an actually perfect valentine’s weekend… I am feeling a little confused. Not about the love part. Not about the relationship I have so sweetly, luckily, and graciously found myself in… but about the odd ways in which I am moving toward the rather adult-feeling of loving the people who have hurt me. In my 20s, I was all about the concept of closure. Like I could fall in love, fall out of love, close up the box, chuck it overboard and be all “dunzo.” I talked to the point of exhaustion over weeknight pitchers of sangria shared with girlfriends about finding closure, the importance of closure, the ritual of closure and the utter necessity of having it before moving on to the next. Like many things in my 20s (see above weeknight pitchers of sangria), I was wrong. I was so sure of my rightness, but actually, I was dead, dead wrong.

Warning, wacky statement: I don’t think closure exists. Or not in the traditional sense. I think that once you’ve given a piece of your heart to someone, they own it for always. It doesn’t mean they own ALL of you, it doesn’t mean they get to have a say in your choices or hurt you further, but it does mean that in those intimate, dark spaces with them, however short or long, you loved them. And love, like energy, doesn’t cease. There’s an action, reaction and the energy must go SOMEwhere. For me, this “somewhere” is a little pocket under my heart; not open, not active, but making up a piece of the strange mosaic that is my odd little heart. It’s the same strange mosaic that I bring to each new relationship, when I choose to love. I can’t chuck that overboard– it is me and I am it.

As we’ve all agreed, adulting is hard. Adulting means putting on your big girl pants and getting on with it, when you just want sweats and pudding pops still the world stops being so loud. Adulting means saying no to your kiddos even when they have those big eyes and you know they’re going to cry, but damn it, it’s the right thing to do. Adulting means loving your ex-spouse in all of his broken and good parts, from a great distance, saying it out loud and getting the fuck on with it. Adulting means choosing to lovingly show up over and over when you are building a relationship with someone new; when that relationship is, at the same time, as easy as breathing and hard as bringing together little people and big under your one mosaic’ish heart. Give me only love that is the result of a choice. Of choosing to engage and lean in to it every single day. Love, the verb. ❤

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Big and Little

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I was tucking the little one in and silently lamenting the frayed edges of his hand-me-down comforter, the worn-in knees of his hand-me-down jammies and the scuffed toes of his gently worn shoe collection. “Poor little guy, he never gets anything new.” But then as I snuggled next to him, I felt how soft and loved his blanket felt. Like those jeans you wore ALL through high school and your mom finally made you wash. It occurred to me that the blanket on his bed was not the only thing with soft edges around it; around him. In fact, his brother has broken in all the hard sided-scratchy-tagged-stiff-heeled-shoes for him; his big brother has made his little world entirely a soft place to land. He’s broken in the parents, taking the brunt of the first-baby-neurosis so his little brother can experience a world that feels only like your favorite pants– cause that’s all he’s ever worn. Big made up songs for him when he was crying as an infant, offers him puzzles and pretend “homework” when there’s frustration that he can’t do big kid work, lets Little fall asleep in his bed, and loyally responds to his incessant cries of “brother, brother, brother!” He has infinite patience for this younger, scrappier, wilier, and louder human that was thrust upon him just 2 years into life– and has paved the way so effortlessly for him, ironing the wrinkles and making sure all the rough tags are cut out.

When I was little I often fantasized, sometimes to the point of lying to an unsuspecting play-date’s Mom, that I had a big brother. I wanted a big brother more than anything in life and I think what really I may have been seeking what just that– the person to smooth out the rough edges. To crawl into bed with when I was a little scared. To do all the firsts that I was too nervous to do. I have always come off as this infinitely confident and cool cucumber, but inside I am a wobbly MESS of a person who is just overly-feelings’ish and completely neurotic.

For those of us who are only (or oldest) this is our cross to bear. Our burden of being is to barrel headlong into the path of on-coming things, terrified and curled in a ball on the inside, headstrong and resilient on the outside. I am pretty sure this is why we (I) tend to like spreadsheets, calendars, bike helmets and Purell so much. We are BIG into prevention, but also BIG in our accomplishments. We do nothing small, lest the younger, wilier, louder ones drown us out. It’s contradictory in nature, but alas, here we are.

One of the best decisions I’ve ever made was to have a second baby (hear ye, hear ye all parents of one kid: that is not a judgement, that is not a message. Your kid is awesome and I love them and you, this is an observation on my own life.) To have this little firecracker of a boy who has no idea what it means to be alone. Ever. To give his big brother a person for life. They belong to each other. They are each other’s for-better-or-for-worse, built in emergency contact, bail money and place to crash. I gave them the thing I so badly wanted as a child. If I do nothing else: I gave them each other. 

So what about me? And the other somewhat-neurotic onlies and oldests? (Sidenote to all of you well-adjusted ones: congrats, please continue to organize the world for us, grow our GDPs, invent our things. Carry on.) I think as we grow we find our people who make the world a softer place for us, if we allow them. I have girlfriends who have been there/done that in their relationships, with their kids, and their faith. Who share a willing “me too” or “expect this next” or “girl, yes you will sit on a floor for a while, but I promise you will get up.” I have a boyfriend who is wonderfully protective and careful with me; who totally lets me be strong and barrel ahead, leading the pack– then quietly picks up the pieces if they need to be gathered and dusted off.

The hard part was letting these people in– the beautiful part is continuing to say yes.

 

 

 

 

My 2016: Self Care

DSCN0092There’s some viral thing going around the interwebs about choosing a word for 2016, versus say, declaring a resolution or a sweeping statement about getting fitter/younger/fancier/cleaner/blah. So, as any good devotee of the interwebs, mommy blogs and artfully filtered photos, I started to think about my word, lest I choose to not jump on a hot trend about self-improvement. And all I could come up with were statements like “be a more patient mother, make sure my boyfriend doesn’t think I’m completely insane, look utterly capable and on top of my shit at work at all times.” Huh. Strangely, those didn’t really seem to be in the vein of what the word-intention movement was about. So, upon digging slightly deeper under my outer layer of sarcastic drip, to the glitter and unicorn deepest mushy-parts, I found this: self care. It’s not one word, but it’s absolutely the thing that I need to focus on for this year, and I am going to hold you, my friends, accountable for keeping me honest. Because, to be a more patient mother, a loving partner and a strong leader at work, guess what? I need to take care of my damn self first. Ye old adage about putting on your own oxygen mask before helping others around you? Yuppers, it’s a thing.

So what does self care look like? And how do I get around the absolute certainty that mommy-guilt and my (slight) propensity toward perfectionism will create a blockade wider than the wall Trump wants to build to keep em out? (‘Murica. I digress… Sorry.) Here’s my first attempt at laying it out.

Self care looks like finding margin for grace. Early last year, I found out that my ex, the father of my children, repeatedly cheated on me. I still need to find room to co-parent with him. I still need to get excited for my kids to have weekends with him and be CRAZY pumped when they are pumped. I need to tell my little one that he has his father’s beautiful brown eyes and watch his face light up. I need to tell the big one that yes, he and his brother are the best thing we ever did. (They are.) I need to do this without one ounce of sarcasm or heaviness. And how? Grace. I have moved to a place of actually understanding that while he made very poor and hurtful choices, he is who he is and likely doing his best based on his own past. I drew my boundary around my own heart and soul when it came to him– he lost those– but I do have space to forgive him and offer him grace. Without that? It would still be eating me alive. Self care.

Self care looks like being fully present to the new love in my life. It is 100% ok to want to spend grown up only time with him. It is 100% awesome to find space in my heart to love again. To laugh. To be silly. To talk until the wee hours. To eat great food and drink bottles of wine. To accept his loving acts of bringing me soup and a milkshake when I am sick. To allow someone into my life who treats me the way I have actually always wanted to be treated. To fulfill a dream I couldn’t admit I had. I don’t think I knew how unhappy I was until I found happiness again. Allowing myself to be giddy like a middle schooler again and just absolutely going for it? Self care.

Self care looks like running, yoga, walks, fresh air and challenging my body. I still maintain that I am not an athlete. After becoming a running coach and completing numerous 5ks, 10ks and even a half marathon. It’s still hard for me to say that I am an athlete, but wow, my body and spirit need movement on the regular. Running is hard shit and it takes me to the brink and back– but the achievement of doing something I never thought possible AND helping other people reach those goals? That is some soul feeding goodness right there. Creating time and handling the logistics involved in making sure I get to exercise this body of mine are a priority and sometimes fodder for the mommy-guilt beasties, but I can say with certainty that I am a MUCH better and more patient mother when I am running and doing yoga regularly. Self care.

It’s not a coincidence (actually, I don’t believe in those anymore) that the day after I found my phrase for 2016 I got horribly sick. Without warning, like honestly fine one day and horrendously sick the next, I had to take 2 actual sick days off of work. Like, I cancelled meetings and laid on the couch. Which is not a thing that I typically do. But I will be so MUCH better, when I am better, if I actually allow myself to get better. Self care.

My resolve to focus on self care as an intention for 2016 means that this is my measuring stick when making decisions. Does it mean I won’t or can’t put other people first? Nope. It means that I am going to do my best to bring my whole self and my best self when my people need me, without apology and without guilt. My priorities around self care will have a trickle down effect. Cause when Mama is happy, centered and healthy, guess what? All Mama’s people are too. It took some serious work (thanks Ruth for the weekly couch sesh) to realize that in fact, when I was basically killing myself (hello thyroid tumor) to put this perfect image out in the world, to keep the armor up at all costs– well, I was bringing the whole ship down with me.

This year? I am sailing away to self care. I deserve to be whole, first, and complete so that I can in turn love all of my people that much more. Self care. ❤

 

Holiday Rollercoaster

1932393_10207494094621866_8386969760476144212_nI just found this (below) in my drafts. I started writing it in the midst and chaos of the run-up to Christmas: that not-so-magical time when the presents weren’t wrapped, the sweets not baked, work not yet done for 2 further weeks, carols not sung, and downtime on couches drinking bloody marys certainly not spent. It’s interesting to look back just a couple of weeks and go “Oh, ha, totally weathered THAT. I had it in the bag all along, what was I so worried about?” But it’s these little snapshots that keep me writing; the temperature reads of the good days and bad are so powerful to look back at. Each a little misshapen stepping stone on my path forward. I can hear the stress and worry in my writing- the jazzed up tone I get when I am losing control but digging in my heels with all I’ve got– I can hear the buzz. Take a look.

December 9, 2015

First of all, I haven’t written a damn blog post in long enough that the actual format of WordPress’s blog writing tool has changed. Like, I wasn’t sure what to click on. So, there’s that. I just. Sometimes. Ok. I have the words and they’re all in up in here and messy and loud but I can’t really bring myself to put them out in the world yet. Cause of all of the judging. And also, Donald Trump. Can we just agree to blame all the totally nuts shit on him? Like, who IS this guy and can we unpack his childhood a bit? Whoever bullied him, please apologize so we can all go back to real life. I digress.

Gah, it’s almost Christmas. And the holidays are so hard. Especially hard when you’ve had the year we’ve had. Anyone else feeling me on this? Anyone else just a little befuddled at how you got where you are, though beautiful and RIGHT the scenery may be? These days, I am constantly “checking” myself to see if what I am about to say/publish/blurt is just a little too wacky or out there. Or just a little too feelings-y, even for me. Which is likely why you haven’t heard from me. Couldn’t possibly be the full time job, single mom-gig, mortgage, PTA board, new relationship… ahem. I do a lot. And I am passionate about even more. I also spent this evening in sparkly reindeer antlers, making small children sort of smile in Santa pictures and mostly giving the Administrative staff at the Primary School so. much. fodder. for laughter over tomorrow morning’s coffee and security-tape-of-the-lobby reviews. Yup.

The truth is that these days I am alternately flying high with happiness, soaring with my new-found love; the utter beauty of my babies and their eyelashes, long legs and wicked little grins; or the gorgeous prose of another strong woman willing me to rise, rise, rise– and then, bam! I am tumbling into a hole of dark, sharpish bits, where really I just want jammies and chocolate and an ugly cry is imminent and I am very sure he’s going to realize that I am actually a little nutso and “wow, back away slowly dude.” But then he says all the absolute right things and I am left with no ammo against myself, which is sort of annoying, if you ask me.

I made the grandiose assumption that healing was linear. I thought that every day I would feel a little better than the day before. Until eventually I met a unicorn and we glitter-glued ornaments together. Certainly. Instead, healing is like an upside-down roller coaster that I only went on to appease my friend, but totally is making me want to barf while I scream/laugh with delight. Messy. Wacky.

And then throw in the holidays and you have got yourself one zinger of a powder keg. A non-linear powder keg. I’m up. I’m down. I’m twirling toward the fun house. And just when I think my stomach can’t drop any further? We ease back into the straight and narrow and I am once again able to delight in glitter beards and stockings hung with care.

I think it boils down to this. I have had way too many run-ins with assholes lately. Cancer is an asshole. Divorce is an asshole.  Trump is an asshole. But. BUT. Always the damn but.

This: God just really gets in there, doesn’t He?

I believe, actually, really truly believe, that the best is yet to come. See, in my darkest moment,  I turned to church and a power greater than myself. Incidentally (not really) this was also when I was able to open myself to a new relationship. I realized that in fact I am not in control of all the things and I had to recuse myself from being general manager of the universe (paraphrasing Pastor Greg Surratt, thank you). I had to realize that service, connection  with other humans and opening myself up to love– both heavenly and earthly– were what actually made sense to me. I could choose to wallow in the crap or I could give this all to God and move the fuck on. Life is indeed too short and I do believe that our Creator has a lot in store for me that doesn’t allow me to sit in solitude, silence, pain or heartbreak. Again, annoying, in His perfection.

So in this most sacred season– this season of anticipation– I am trying to just ride the coaster. To know that the smooth, linear parts will come, even when I am hanging upside-down screaming. I’m going to decorate the cookies, sing the carols, look deeply into my loved ones’ eyes, welcome abundant joy and find the places to express gratitude. I just am.

And let me tell you friends, we so did. WE SO DID. My best people were around me and I felt loved. Kid love, family love, boyfriend love, friend love, pet love, ALL THE LOVES. And Star Wars. Cause Han Solo and Chewie = <3.

 

 

 

 

10 Lessons I Learned Last Year

Screen Shot 2015-11-04 at 5.17.20 PMI have said three times this week “yeah, it’s basically 2016 already.” And then, I realized what I was really saying… and want to say to all of you: HAPPY NEW YEAR! I am done with 2015! See, 2015 was the year in which all the shit ever possible hit the fan, came raining down and then squished itself into my carpet, ever-present and stuck, like glitter, only smelly. And sort of painful. And while I can compare it to the glitter-shit of other folks and say, well it wasn’t all that bad, totally could have been worse, it was my glitter-shit of a year and we all get to feel our feels. It was. That. Bad.

Therefore, I have decided that it is ok to host my own private NYE style ball drop here in quaint Charleston, SC and risk sounding just a little bit like Jessie Pinkman when I say: “Happy New Year Bitches!” Cause it is. It is a new year and one in which I look back at last year and say, wow I learned a lot. And when I learn, I like to share. Cause I’m nice like that.

10 lessons I learned last year:

1. Plans rarely work out the way you think they will, but when you look back, you realize everything was exactly as it needed to be. It’s sometimes ironic. And aggressive in its right-ness. But alas, true.

2. Thyroids are assholes. And they control way more things in your body than you knew. They are important little jerks, so get them checked.

3. People make really big, life altering mistakes and you can still love them. Maybe from a distance. While staying out of the way of their personal hurricane. They are imperfect, but so are you, so give them a teeny bit of slack.

4. But. Personal limits are crucial. You’ll know if someone has crossed yours and it’s fine to just let them go. It’s fine to say “I am better than that. I deserve more. I can make the hard choice.”

5. Families are all beautifully complicated and messed up. And if they look that perfect on Facebook, chances are, they are the most messy at that moment. Just “like” their pic and then privately message to say hi and offer tea.

6. Love blossoms in the most unlikely places and when you are absolutely least expecting it. Just go with it. Need a reason? See #1 up there.

7. Parents are all just doing the best they can and no one actually knows who the fuck is in charge. Like, who ARE these small humans who think I know the answers to things? What? They came from MY uterus? Well, shit.

8. Teachers and OTs are superheroes. They just are. Where would I BE without our team?

9. Faith brings blurred edges into focus. It can also get you through a particularly difficult long-run. God knows you have a sailor-mouth and that it just feels so GOOD to say “fuck” when you still have 5 miles to go– but then pray through each subsequent step. God’s got you.

10. You actually have a deeper well of strength than you ever knew possible. You can do all of these hard things. You will survive, even when it absolutely feels like you will not.

Happy New Year Friends. I now declare it 2016! Here’s to us and new beginnings!

Oh the places you’ll go.

Screen Shot 2015-10-16 at 8.43.54 PMLet’s just start off by stating the obvious. We know that I am NOT in any of the places I anticipated (read: agonized about, planned, journaled, dreamed, obsessed over and tried to control, ahem). I mean, I live in the South (and love it). I have boys. All boys, even the pets. I got married and am now legally separated. I self checked the girls over and over and over and OOPS the tiny cancer was in my NECK (rude, I know). It’s almost like we don’t actually get to control our lives? Like some other force might be at work? Well holy shit.

It became painfully obvious this week, as I sat alone on a bench in the Berkeley County Courthouse that WOW do I not get to write my own ending. But WOW do I also get to have a ton of input on how I approach the getting there part. I get to actually stand up, raise my right hand and swear to tell the truth. To be wholehearted. To be authentic. To love freely and fully. I mean, I wanted to be like “Judge, how much truth are we swearing to right now? Like do you want to know my truthiest bits? Do you want to know what I am excited about? Afraid of? Secretly hoping will happen? About the time I realized that I might just have to make a really hard choice to survive?” Turns out, he just wanted to know the details pertaining to the reams of paperwork in front of him. But I was ready. Just in case.

I was faced with a strange curve-ball moment at a recent doctor appointment when the unsuspecting and kind nurse asked about my “emergency contact.” I was floored. Frozen. Like holy SHIT nobody told me there’d be THESE moments where like I have to tell all the strangers that NOPE, my story is not in fact unfolding as I thought and yes, please take that name off and add my DAD. Good grief.

I have this recurring dream that recently came back to me with such immaculate, vivid clarity about a giant, sprawling house with areas that my family and I just simply didn’t go into. Entire sections of the home that I kept forgetting existed or didn’t want to go into for whatever reason (ahem). One was very old and dreary, but comfortably antique-ish with a huge sweeping staircase and a chandelier covered in a dust cloth, like they do in movies. And the other area was like a bachelor pad in 1972 Miami with hot tubs and gleaming white everything. I never did get a good glimpse of where we ACTUALLY lived, but I knew these “other” areas were off limits and we just kept them shut. SHUT. The meaning is now painfully clear to me and I haven’t had that dream in a while, but at the time, when it was so ever-present, I kept thinking “well that’s strange, who would forget a part of their home even existed?!” Or a part of herself, maybe?

Sweet friends, trust me when I say you will find yourself in many, many places you never thought you’d go. That could be a far reaching actual corner of the earth, or a far reaching dark, soft, jagged corner of your own mind and heart. Each equally foreign, but divinely created so your strange little heart can continue to become who she was truly meant to be. Don’t be afraid to walk into those spaces. Don’t be afraid to stop ignoring the rooms you simply don’t go into. Walk forward. I’ll hold your hand.

xo

Rainy Day Thoughts to Share

Photo on 10-2-15 at 2.41 PM #3Some thoughts that I’ve been ruminating on… I feel a little blocked as a writer these days. Maybe overwhelmed by my own feels. Or just focused on the people and wonder in my life. I feel good. I feel blessed. I feel like I am moving forward. I feel ramble-ish. I feel ready.

I’ve been a little quiet over here for a bit. Not writing. Not really posting on FB or Twitter as much. I’ve been running a lot. I’ve been going to church. I’ve been spending time with new and old friends. And with my baby boys. I feel like I’ve been taking time to really feed my mind, body and soul. And sometimes when I do this, much like a year ago when I got the “c-word” news, I sort of curl into myself, unable to find the words to really explain the metamorphosis taking place. It’s hard to find the energy to share outward when the inward work is so all-consuming. But to be clear, the work is not all sad, heartbroken and jagged; I have so much joy right now and that’s the kicker. I find myself wrestling a lot with “should” at the moment: I should be more broken. I should be a mess. I think this is a reflection of what I assume other people are whispering when I am out of earshot: “is she REALLY that ok?” “oh, she’ll fall apart” or “wow, she must have some serious walls up.”

It’s interesting when you have shame about not feeling enough shame. Not that it’s anyone’s business really, but the answer is that my overwhelming feeling today is relief. I will always care about the father of my children, but in all honesty I am also relieved that we made the decision we did. There is an elephant-sized weight removed from my shoulders and an open world of possibility in front of me; it’s terrifying and exhilarating and most welcome.

And if I am really, brutally honest, I am hiding from the internet. Remember when I said my heart was broken wide open? When I was holding space and just really feeling all the feels for other people? There’s a part of me that’s like, actually nope I changed my mind. World too scary, too much to hold space for. Closed for business. I know: like it’s a choice. School shootings, children with cancer, bigotry, the environment, politicians spewing hatred and society eating it up… it’s a lot for an open heart to take. And bless those of you who are out there taking it on day by day. How do we fight these big battles when the little battles of everyday are so loud (like children putting on their shoes in the morning, all the mornings, a feat great enough to make a grown woman cry)? It’s overwhelming, especially for those of us who are especially feelings-y. Which thing to latch on to? Which thing to fix first? Which is why my instinct is always to turn inward, to me. But.

Warning: about to get into some God-talk. No apology, but I know it’s a sensitive arena for folks.

Lately, I have also been turning upward. To God. To faith. I am moving more deeply and purely to a place where I freely admit that I do not know it all and that there are mysteries in this world that have no other explanation than the beautiful work of God. I am finally comfortable with the notion that I need to have faith in something greater than myself to make it through; faith in a place beyond, where this all makes sense, while trusting and finally listening to the small, still voice that’s been there all along. I would not have been able to walk this walk of the last year alone; run all the miles I have alone; weather all the storms that have (literally and figuratively) come my way, alone. And I am very certain that I have not in fact, been alone. There are many things in this world that I find unfair, hurtful and make me shout WHY, but what dulls the hurt just ever so slightly is giving up the control, giving up my incessant need to be in the driver seat and breathe into my faith. Just leaning on it and allowing myself to be caught when I fall. And knowing that God too is heartbroken for us, more than we can ever know.

What a radical shift indeed. I don’t feel the floodgates of great writing opening, but I feel my heart and soul open, which is really something. I am proud of myself. I am ready.