Day #85: Childhood-Wild and Free

I was sitting on this bench waiting for Adalie to come out of her school. First, I heard a mother scolding her child for honking her horn. Then I hear a daycare teacher hushing a group while she was waiting on the rest of the children. Finally, a little boy runs up to my bench, climbs up it, jumps off, and rolls down the hill in the grass. His mother, close behind, immediately starts in on him. Now he’s dirty, now he’ll get her car dirty, now she’ll have to wash his jacket.

And it all made me realize how hard we work to contain children. The wild, raw energy that’s so curious and uninhibited. Such beauty in their excited voices, their wild eyes, their never ending flow of body, and their wide, wide smiles.

I watched her later that evening, dancing around the living room in her sequins and wild colors. Her body vibrant with movement, her checks flushed, and her voice strong.

And I thought about what all we do to quiet that voice in a child. In the hallways and the lunchrooms, in the night hours and church services. We “shh” their comments and frown at their inquiries. I send her nonverbal cues that her continuous talking annoys me.

I didn’t want to run today. I’m still just so tired. But I got out there and I chose to do it, it wasn’t even too bad. But I thought as I ran about how life can feel like this run, obligated, serious, and necessary, but not fun. I vowed to enjoy my ball of fun as much as I could tonight with her loud ways, her literal comments, and her ever-changing moods. I vowed to enjoy her sparkles and laughter, her stories and energy. I vowed to love her tonight with as little control as necessary. Because we are given the freedom to be and express ourselves–why shouldn’t a child?

Young blonde girl with flushed cheeks asleep on a colorful blanket.

Day #78: Marriage, Love, and Abiding Joy

We drove and drove and drove today. We went from Arkansas to Santa Fe, New Mexico. We sang and danced. We played games. We jammed to music. We ate. We listened to TED Talks. We answered “love questions.” We talked about everything and nothing. We sat quietly holding hands.

We laughed and we loved and we never once grew tired of each other. The thing is… we never do.

And twelve hours later, I was in New Mexico getting ready to embark on a new adventure with my best friend. And I couldn’t be happier…

Day #76: Time, Changes, and New Perceptions

We ran our 3.75 miles today outside because the weather was in our favor. The sun was out and the wind felt good the more sweat-soaked I became. As I ran, I thought about how when we first started running, our goal was a 5K… 3.10 miles… and it felt like SO much. Now we are cranking out 3 miles all the time but they seem so small compared to the 13.1 half-marathon we plan to run in May. It’s funny how time changes perspective…

I thought of this again as I sat cuddling my girl before bed. Tomorrow she will go to her dad’s house because I have class and then we are taking a weekend trip to go skiing. Five days without her voice, her humor, her literal brain, and her beautiful smile. It makes me sad now, but by six years old, we understand we can live without each other for a week. When she was a baby, it would have devastated us both… it’s such a trick that time plays with us…

But still, I sat there soaking in the cuddles and thinking about what six more years might do to our perceptions of who we are as individuals and as mother/daughter. Who knows really? But for today with tears threatening to spill at the thought of who we have been and who we will be, I squeeze every ounce of joy out of who we are today.

Mand women smiling wide, soaked in sweat and flush from running.

Day #74

I watched her get all her My Little Ponies™ toys out and set them up on the blanket on the floor. I sat at the table painting for fun and enjoying every moment of it. My Love was a room away working on this blog.

We all spun in our worlds of creativity and it was a lovely moment. There is a lot of power in creation. In watching what you are doing come to life.

A blonde girl playing with pony figurines on a coloful blanket. I listened to her play. It’s one of my favorite things to do. To listen to her imagination come to life through plastic ponies and dolls. To see her breathe life into her toys and watch where they may go. Today it was a fancy ball thrown by none other than Princess Celestia of course.

My Love calls me into the office. He requests my input about colors and formatting. His eyes lit up as he shows me how he edited a few of our pictures this week.

I study my silly bee that I painted. It’s so little; it’s so trivial. But I painted it… I chose colors and brushes… I worked hard to carefully merge the colors together and add details. and in doing so, I made it mine. I created it.

It was beautiful to watch us all create in our own way. To paint our day, our project, our world as we desired… there truly is so much energy in being creative and so much joy in living a life you have created.

Blonde girl playing with her toys spread out upon a colorful blanket.

Day #59

We went to Lee Creek Reservoir with our two sweet dogs, amazing daughter, and beautiful friends. It was unseasonably warm in the low 60s and sunny.

It is like the sun nourishes is my soul. I love the warmth of it on my shoulders, my neck, my face. It is joy materialized.

I watched the girls run ahead, giggling, telling secrets, and breathless. And I loved that moment.adalie-and-taytum-talking-in-the-woods

We stopped to sit for a bit on the top of the rock for a snack and some pictures. I observed families, attachments, and so many, many years of bonding in our circle. And I sat in awe of the work we had all done to be together as family. The odds we’ve overcome, physically and emotionally, to just be present together in that place. And I loved that moment too.

Man with a dog touching a large old tree named the devil tree becuase of its sinister appearance. And I watched my nature-loving husband caress an old tree with reverence. And I could feel him in my core. His thoughts, his feelings, his heart beat with mine as we stood connected by something so much bigger than us. And it reminded me that no matter what … I am him and he is me because we are one. And, you guessed it, I loved that moment most.

Days to wander and observe and be are so rare for me. I try to soak them all in like the sun on my skin. They nourish my soul.

Today I am glowing with soul health

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 #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