Day #28

We decided to walk in silence tonight. It was dark and Christmas lights glowed. The silence felt like the blue lights on one of the first houses we walked by; muted but glowing.

Silence became my heart beat, my breath, my boots hitting concrete. It was silent giggles at pretending to ski downhill and screaming muscles at the trudge back uphill. Silence was the pressure of his hand in mine. The steadiness of his breathing beside me.

Tonight, silence felt like cold air on my cheeks. Barking dogs in the distance. The sound of wind in my ears.

We walked silently and carefully. It was mind clearing and beautiful. It was connection to both earth and Love. It was thoughts observed and let go. It was knotted anxiety I had been carrying for others, released.

Tonight, silence was the loudest I had ever heard it. A tiny Christmas tree.

Day #15

An led Christmas light display in the figure of a Poinsettia flower.It was dark when we got to the park. The air was crisp but refreshing. The lights were glorious and all around.

There was only one problem… a terrorist was following me around. She was female, long blond hair, about four feet tall. And she calls me, “Mama.”

Most days I love that title as it rolls off her tongue and straight to my heart. But today, right now, it came only with demands.
“Mama, fix my gloves.”
“Mama, I’m hungry.”
“Mama, follow me now.”
“Mama, stay behind me, I said!”

And this was after her complaints about the new jacket (too puffy), the new gloves (too hard to hold things), and new hat (honestly, I’m not really sure why she won’t wear the hat–I don’t think she even knows!) had all been voiced all the way here.
Inwardly, I cringed at her attitude, her tone, her words.
I tried ignoring. I tried stern talking. I tried distraction. I tried playful interaction to lighten her mood. None of it phased her for long and she was back to “terrorist” status.

I struggle in these moments. I believe strongly in healthy attachments. I recently read an article about doing “time ins” rather than time outs so you don’t teach a child that they are only acceptable as people when they are happy and perfect. I see this as a vital concept. I also believe children need their parents to help them organize and regulate especially when upset. I don’t generally agree with leaving a child who is spiraling out of control in a room alone. As a counselor, I rarely see good come from this scenario.

But damn it’s hard to connect with and support a child who is acting hateful.

We get home from our “fun” Christmas-lights walk. Dinner, PJs, a show, and brushed teeth later, she is flat out refusing to go to bed. I have had enough. But thanks to my meditative, although un-peaceful walk, I am prepared to discipline and not punish.

“You’re going to bed without me tonight because I am not going to reward your disobedience.”

Wailing, crying, yelling, tears, pleading, and sniffling later, she finally falls asleep.
I left the door open, I left her lamp on, I checked on her every 5-7 minutes. I kissed her, wiped away tears, and tucked her in. But I did not sit down, rub her back, or read her a story.

She knew that she was loved but also learned that it’s okay to be alone with unsettling feelings. It’s a lesson most adults are still learning…A young girl standing mezmorized inside a tunnel of dancing lights.

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