Day #10

An inflatible Christmas decoration which says the word Joy.Some days are fantastic–like birthdays and Christmas, vacation days and Saturdays, and then every once in while a fantastical day just sneaks up on you.

Today was one of those days:

  • Plans changed for the better, twice.
  • It was double-punch Tuesday so I got my coffee for free.
  • Lunch with my Love.
  • Appointments cancelled, which gave me free time to get caught up on paperwork.

… home cooked dinner, silly shows, a happy girl who went to bed without a fuss…

Yes, some days it just all seems to come together. It’s like the universe hands you a gift…

As we walked this evening, I thought cheerfully about the warmth of the day. But I also noticed an unconscious thought lurking in the corner of my mind–a small doubt and reservation about good days–and how even at the highest of highs it’s like we are waiting for it to vanish at best, trample us at worst. It makes it hard to really enjoy life when paranoia sets in.

“I’m eating healthy and clean.” But I’ll probably still die of some disease.

“I made some extra money.” But something will probably break down soon.

“He is such a gentleman.” But once he knows me it probably won’t last.

We generally set everything up to fail. We forget to ride the high, enjoy the joy, celebrate the happiness. It’s like we’re afraid that by wallowing in it we invite it to be taken away.

A yard filled with inflatible Christmas decorationsWe walked down a street and made it to the most crowded, silliest, over-the-top Christmas decorated yard I have ever seen. Front to back with blow-up decorations, lights, signs, and toys. And I thought, “This is what it looks like to hoard joy.” People don’t understand it; it costs too much, it’s potentially dangerous, it even seems a little crazy. The longer I stood there mesmerized by each Santa and snowman, reindeer and elf, the larger my smile grew. Joy abandon looks ridiculous, I think, because it embraces the good without tempering it with doubt.

I have no idea what will happen tomorrow or five years down the road, but I know my joy in today and today I’m hoarding joy.

Day #9

“Too much burden will halt your progress. Loosen up so that you can be swift.” –

Alissa Reddy, The Art of Mindfulness for Children

I watched her eyes well up with tears because Mistletoe did not come back this year… he sent a girl elf on the shelf instead. She had been begging for a “girl elf” for two Christmases.

The pain of letting go…

I watched her panic searching for her phone, her clipboard, her anything to take to her after school program as we are walking out the door for school. I encouraged her to breathe, to be creative, to think outside the box about what she could do this afternoon, instead.

The pain of letting go…

I watched her fall to pieces over the realization that her lunchbox sat happily at home on the couch. Even as I assured her I would go back and get it. Even as she nodded in agreement that it wasn’t a big deal.

She cried. Nothing about this morning had gone according to plan.

The pain of letting go…

It was wet and cold so I needed a new walking plan. Instead of my usual scenic route, I headed to the mall to do a lap. It was noisy and distracting and not at all my norm but I rolled with it. And as I did, I thought about my girl-baby and hoped her day was going better. I thought about her rigidness and anxiety that often flairs into panic and irritability. I have been reading a book about mindfulness for children and one of the goals taught is the art of “letting go” as defined by the author Alissa Reddy:

“Letting go entails leaving situations as they are and allowing events to unfold as they are supposed to.”

My beautiful strong princess is not good at this, but I wondered as I walked if I was so much better. Expectations often give way to disappointment, schedule often becomes law, and roles often box people in until they have no room to be themselves. I watch myself take life so seriously-over and over. There are chores to be done, mouths to be fed, money to be earned. I spin plates and plates until it is comical that I think it is achievable. Then, always, one little thing breaks or bobs or goes off kilter, and it all comes crashing down around me.

The pain of letting go…a child sleeping with a stuffed owl

Day #8

two people walking down a streetIt was 80 degrees today. They said we broke a record. The last day of November, the first day of Christmas decorations and it feels like Spring. It was so off…

She came home at 3pm. Five days later and she finally came home. She hid behind her dad’s legs. She refused to look at me. She came in her own home begrudgingly.

I knew it would happen; it happens every time, especially when it’s not her usual weekend only visit. I try to prepare myself before she gets here; protect myself emotionally. But it just feels wrong…

We walk, me and my family, to my mom’s around the corner. She talks and skips and dances. My Love and I hold hands. And although the edge is still on her voice and the uncertainty stays etched in her face, I feel the world righting itself again. My baby is home and a cold front is coming…

Day #7

Today I was asked to help start a group.

A good and helpful endeavor with pleasant people that would benefit a number of others. And I cringed inside. This project is much like two other projects I helped with in my twenties. They ate me alive both times. They were all-consuming and always took more than I wanted to give… more money, more time, more resources. But I was devoted and it was for the good of all. Except for the good of me–but really, who’s counting.

As I walked today I felt stressed. I had just spent six hours cleaning the living room… one room!! I had so many more things to check off. The rest of the house needs to shine, work and grades will not get done without me, I have lists to make (elf on the shelf, Grinchmas Party next weekend, groceries for the week), and then there is the putting-away of Thanksgiving and the beauty of Christmas to display.

I walked hunched with mind racing and anxiety turning in my stomach. But I chose to walk, and as always, it worked it’s calming magic (sure there is a lot of science about wautum-colored leaveshy this helps but I prefer magic).

Day #6

Life is too short to be too serious.

Sometimes you gotta let your hair down and dance.

image of shot glass on tableI lived so much of my life focused on the future. Everything for the eternal reward, the appearance of evil, the belief of everlasting. And I missed so much Joy in the process of serious living. Last night we walked downtown after having a few drinks at dinner with family. It was loud and bright and busy and fun. We experimented with flavors and types of beers (they had local brews and such). But we needed to walk before heading home so we enjoyed festive lights, cold breezes, pavement and old store fronts instead of our usual scenic nature walk. We joked and laughed and acted silly and danced.

It was fun.

Of all weakness, seriousness is mine. I tend to over-think, over-do, over-achieve. I like deep conversations, intellect, and meaning. But sometimes there is no meaning, no point to make, and honestly every achievement in my life has been a double-edged sword. We tend to sacrifice so much in the present for the hope of future reward. And that actually turns out to be pretty counterproductive in most instances.

In my first marriage, I feel this was my greatest downfall. I focused so much on the future and setting us up for success — 10, 20, 50 years down the road. But I mostly forgot to love that day with him. My focus was ministry, career, school, and even marriage but I was so worried about doing everything “right” that I forgot to enjoy the doing at all. And I learned that lesson when my marriage crumbled and the smoke and mirrors of my identity were torn away.

And when I got the opportunity to be with my Love (now husband), I repeated two mantras to myself:

1. Don’t worry about tomorrow with him; enjoy today and trust the process.

2. Always choose to move toward him… physically, emotionally, etc.

Almost three years in, this has worked so much better… we have goals and hopes and plans but we don’t get hung up on them. And man do we have fun… every single day… and this is the best gift I have ever given myself.

I live one hundred pounds lighter, one thousand times brighter, and with every part of me. I want to never chose not to be all of me again. To only have a fraction of myself thriving was unacceptable.

I promise myself as I walk amongst the Christmas lights: “I will always choose my brightest.” large lighted christmas tree

Day #5

Today was busy.

The hustle and bustle of family and food. Macy’s Thanksgiving parade to watch. Pies to cook. Places to be. And oh the roles we play. Wife, sister-in-law, daughter-in-law, daughter, sister, niece, cousin, aunt, mother, friend were just a few of mine today.

We talked and shared, laughed and cried. We ate and then ate more. We connected in superficial ways and meaningful ways, and all the ways in between. We drank wine and dissected ads and solved all the worlds problem. Family togetherness…fleeting but beautiful in all its bursts of color.

And then the Love and I came home. It was already dark and cold outside.

“I didn’t get to walk today,” I said.

“Well, let’s go.”

And we changed shoes, bundled up, and walked. Not long and not too far-but enough. The dark and quiet after such a full day was enormous in my head. The moon and the stars twinkled at me and the cold chill made my skin come alive. As I walked, I thought about a piece of advice recently shared with me.

She said:

“Imagine you are sitting on a bench holding balloons of all that labels what you are: mother, wife, friend, worker, etc. Now imagine letting go of each balloon until they are gone. What are you left with?”

Just me,” I had whispered then.

A couple's shadows cast upon the pavement.And “Just me” I whisper now. I look at our shadows, long in street lights. I see the most stark version of myself staring back at me. The version without color, accomplishments, superego, or beliefs. It’s just me. I am grateful to be at a place in my life where I can finally enjoy just me in just this moment.

Happy Thanksgiving, my gentle readers…

Day #4

gray-boots-in-leavesHe came and took her away from me today.

Granted, “he” is her father and this is “his” holiday per standard visitation. But it felt like he took a part of me and drove it six hours away.  I love my current life. I am a happier, freer, and more loving person since my divorce from man and establishment.

But some days…

Some days I feel heavy with losing out on so much of her childhood. Some days I hate that I miss any holidays with the child I grew to spend holidays with…

So I walk solemnly…

at first…

but before long…

the leaves tickle my toes, the sunset catches my imagination, and the playful animals scurrying about make me giggle. We have real, adult conversation, and we stroll. There are no mouths to feed, no schedules to keep, and no agenda but my own. And the road just keeps walking us along.

A lot like life…

Day #3

heart-shaped-rockLove.

It’s the one thing that when all else is stripped away, I still believe. And I know it comes in all different shapes, sizes, and colors. I’ve witnessed the beautiful, the magical and the absurd. And love has found its way to me… it came unexpected and surprised this broken heart.

But that has been some time ago and as I walk hand-in-hand with my Love today, I ask him: “Well it’s almost Thanksgiving, what are you thankful for?” He looks at me sideways and grins, “Well, you, of course.” And I know he’s teasing but I also know he is speaking complete truth because he tells me every day in a thousand different ways. He loves so hard and thoroughly and playfully. I never go one day without laughing, smiling, blushing, and feeling certain my heart will burst with joy.

Seriously, everyday.

We continue walking and I push a little harder (because it’s what I do),”Why are you thankful for me?” He walked in silence hand still tight on mine. “Because I can just be me with you.” And isn’t that all we really ever want?  I feel inexplicable happiness with this statement because it means I am his soft-and-safe place. To be silly or to cry or to be angry about the cards that have been dealt… it doesn’t matter because he knows I have the empathy and the courage to stare all of him in the face and just love.

And love is all I know for certain, so it’s what I choose… every time.

Day #2

ducksI ponder friendship as I walk.

My friendship skills have seem to decline as the years have passed. It was just so EASY when were younger. Our friends were essentially picked for us; they are our mom’s friend’s kid, or the other girl in the class that likes green instead of pink, or whatever. And time… you have all the time in the world to devote to these beautiful connections. No pesky jobs,  or needy kids, or significant others to prioritize. And although I seem to have outgrown friends, I have not outgrown the need.

Therefore, I bumble through.

I have friends… kind of… I have those that find me when they need to vent or dump. I have those that spend time when time is easy but never when it needs to be made. I have those that surface love me but cannot dig too deep, and finally, I have those that just have too much on their shoulders without adding me. And these lovely souls waft in and out of my life–enriching experiences–but never devoted.

I once asked my husband why he didn’t need friends. He said, “People are just so damn fickle.” And I am inclined to agree. Friends of decades-and-the-most-intimate-moments turned a silent shoulder to me when I made one decision for myself that they could not understand. Friends of deepest-darkest-secrets disappear because another one has stolen their heart. Friends of good-times-and-bad-times lose their way to my door when my door is no longer their need.

And a part of me feels betrayed… angered… shamed… but more of me feels sad.

As I walked today, I became mindful to these things.

And I noticed: leaves whirling in tornadoes together, turtles sunbathing in a pack, geese talking amongst themselves, ducks huddling together to stay warm against the wind, families playing together at the park… and roots.

Everywhere roots!

I once read that dying trees will send energy out through their roots to other trees. There is a massive root system under the ground that connects trees and if we could see the root system we would not be able to distinguish one tree from the next. I feel we, as a human race, are like this; all connected but separate. We look different, we bloom different, we need different but fundamentally we are the same and intertwined. I know this because … empathy.

At times, and especially with those close to me, I cannot always separate their feelings from my own. They weep, their heart is broken, they hurt and my soul carries that burden. They celebrate, enjoy one of life’s gifts, they smile and my soul soars on dancing clouds.

Connective-ness is not always fair or pleasurable–but it is the essence. The thread that interweaves itself through the tapestry of our lives , holding us together and ripping us apart. But it keeps us warm at night… you know?

Day #1

puppies in truck

As we walked with leashes in hand and dogs excitedly sniffing each new trail, I thought about present living. It seems to be everywhere right now for me. I’m reading a book about mindfulness in play therapy. I’ve had friends post about it on their Facebook pages. I keep running across quotes on Pinterest. Articles keep finding there way to me. I was at a conference this week where intentional living was the key note address.

This is a topic that enthralls me because I am by nature a doer. I love the experience, live for the next adventure, and enjoy trying anything new at least once. I’m one of the rare birds who actually enjoys change. I get bored easily and find it difficult to sit still. But in all that living, I often forget to weigh down those moments with my own presence. My brain is often on to the next thing before this experience is completed.

So, as I walked today, I tried to just “be.”

Instead of letting my mind organize the rest of the day or obsess over my 10-year-plan, I looked around and allowed my senses to do my thinking for me. It is late November, so the backdrop of all the world seems brown: dead trees, dead leaves on the ground, mud everywhere due to recent rain. The sky was overcast and the gray hung like a blanket tucking in all the brown. But it’s funny when you look … you notice. The shock of white mushrooms, the delicate purple berries, and the dancing green bushes in the breeze. The weather was mild and humid with just enough breeze to kiss the skin with coolness. The birds singing, my puppies panting, my sweet husband’s voice. All brought peace and joy to my heart.

The earth was grounding under my feet, the pressure of my husband’s hand holding mine was intimate and complete. And when I let my senses do the “thinking,” I let go and, for a while, truly lived.

In the past few past few years of my adult life, I have unlearned so much (another story for another day). At this point, about all I know for certain is that I’ll die one day. I’m not afraid of dying; I’ve made peace with it being inescapable; however, I want to live. Truly live. Every day.

So my challenge to myself is to walk every day for the next 365 days with the intent to be present. My hope is that quiet time with body moving surrounded by nature will produce insightful thoughts that lead to intentional living.

I suppose I will write these down … let’s see gentle reader, where life takes us ….