My New Home

Welcome to my new home!

Sometimes one change can catalyze renewal and rejuvenation. Opportunities happen. Doors begin to open. I hope turns to I will. And there’s nothing like feeling the texture of a new beginning.

I’m excited to debut my new site today. The fabulous Sarah Fite of Momalom built this awesome site for me. I’m grateful for her insight and creative inspiration.

In many ways, writing in this space offers refuge. A place I call mine, where I muse about my life.

And now for the technical stuff: If you subscribed to my site via email, you will have to do it again at the new place. Thanks so much for your lovely support. It means more to me than you will ever know.

Join me, won’t you? A home always feels more welcome with friends.

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On Mothers and Meaning

My daughter decided to give me her Mother’s Day Gift on Tuesday. When I picked her up from school, she hopped into the car with a stapled white bag. As soon as she buckled her seat belt, she said, “Momma, Happy Mother’s Day!” I tried to tell her Mother’s Day is Sunday, not today, but she insisted I open her gift. I asked her a few questions about Mother’s Day and what she thought it meant, and she said, “My teacher told us that our mothers work hard for us and so we should work hard and do something nice for them.”

I smiled as she said this. As I opened the bag, I saw her eyes get wider and wider. I reached into the bag and pulled out a pink construction paper card, with a big heart, and inside I saw the words, “Happy Mother’s Day! I love you.”  Inside there was a box that had a heart, that said “I Love You Mom!” with blue and pink sparkles on it. On the back of it, there was a pin. She crafted a heart brooch.

“Look Mommy, it’s a pin. You can wear it. Wear it now!” she commanded me to put in on and of course, there was no hesitation on my part. I slipped it on and for the remainder of the day, my daughter kept asking, “Do you love your gift, Momma ?”  I told her this little heart made me so happy and I gave her two kisses on each cheek and held her close.

I’m wondering if I will remember this exchange twenty years from now. This thought comes to mind because my own mother asked me the other day if her own life has meaning. My mom never worked outside of the house and has spent most of her life caring for others. She does what she can, but sometimes I’m not appreciative of all of the good aspects of who she is. I am a constant critic and more than once I’ve been hard on my mom. Since she lives with us, sometimes my words speak of frustration. I take her for granted. I know that. But I want her to know that she, her presence has meaning. That she shouldn’t underestimate the value of motherhood.

I will always remember her asking me if I’ve eaten, if I’ve gotten enough sleep and in unexpected moments, she tells me, she is proud of me. There are times those eating and sleep questions annoy me, but in reality, my mother is the only one who will ask those questions of me. And when her voice isn’t part of my day to day life, I will miss it. I anticipate that a dull ache will be forever a part of my life.

Mom, I love you. I want you to remember all of the crafts, pictures and gifts both R and I have given you. Because as much as you may have forget those moments, they have meaning. And so does your presence, even though I may not always acknowledge it.

Happy Mother’s Day to my mom, who in her own way gives my life meaning.

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The Goodness of Stick Figures

She draws without any reservation. Her bucket is filled to the top with crayons named Cerulean and Tickle Me PInk. In the corner of our living room, she carves out a space, where comfort exists in a piece of paper, her colors, and imagination. The blank page fails to intimidate her. She craves to fill it up. With tenderness. With love. With stick figures.

It was midafternoon on Monday, the markers of ordinary life littered our home. Dishes in the sink, laundry lazing around in the basket, and bills screaming to be paid.  My monotony was interrupted by my daughter’s voice, the pull of her tone, urged me to stop and listen to what she had to say. Her hands held two pictures she drew, one of me and her father, the other of our house, sitting under a rainbow.

A blur took over as I sensed the wetness forming in corner of my eyes. My emotions mimicked the rainbow in her drawing, sunshine and rain melting together. And within these two emotions, a burst of goodness filled my body. It came at the exact right time. My heart angled toward my daughter, as she explained to me, that her Momma and Daddy and her house make her happy.

This moment was something I wanted to hold on to. Everyday she draws at least five pictures for me. They all are in folder near my desk. Everytime she gives me a new picture, I want to preserve that innocence and love in a jar. There will be a day when she tires of this act. I know it. It will be replaced by filling the page, but probably to notes to friends, letters to boyfriends, or her own journal entries.

The colors will be donated and the space in the corner will be a memory I can only recall. But  when I see those stick figures years from now, I’ll be reminded of that burst of goodness that struck me on an otherwise ordinary Monday afternoon.

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Do you have these bursts of goodness? Does your child draw regularly? Are your surprised by what they see? Do their drawings give you comfort? 

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Surrendering To Uncertainty

When it happened, I felt a little embarassed that she caught me.

On Saturday morning, I drove to the local gym for my weight lifting class.  In the middle of an hour session, the instructor asked us to add more weight to our barbell. Instead of listening and paying attention to the task at hand, my right arm reached for my purse, pulled out my phone, and checked my email and text messages.

While I checked my “important” messages, I heard a voice in surround sound bellow, “Oh, I love it. Multi-tasking at its best. Checking your phone in between lifting weights.” I look up, knowing the instructor’s sarcastic comments were directed toward me.  The echo of her words prompted me to put my phone away and pretend like she wasn’t talking about me.

For most of the weekend, I pondered  her comment and wondered why it had such an affect on me. I’ve noticed a trend in my own behavior especially when it comes to my phone. I have this constant need to check it at all times of the day. Sometimes I check the news, other times it’s my email or my google reader or my blog stats or to make certain I’m not missing a “important” phone call message.

It reeks of addiction, but that seems like too easy of an explanation for my taste. I’ve realized that I’m unable to cope with uncertainty. I’ve always craved to be in the know. I’m tuned into CNN or MSNBC, making certain that I don’t miss an important headline. When the information wasn’t readily accessible with the advent of phones and computers, I recall watching the nightly news or fetching the paper. If I’ve sent an email or text, I want to be aware of a possible response the moment it arrives. Why the need for this, I’m not quite sure. And why I need all of this sometimes extraneous information is still is a mystery to me.

I attribute part of this need to be plugged in as a reluctance to surrender to uncertainty. It’s why I don’t like to fly. Or why I need to have printed and emailed directions when I am going to a new place. When my husband has a date night planned, I need to know where we are going and what we are doing. I am uncomfortable with uncertainty although I recognize intellectually that there are very few things that I can control.

It’s the need to busy myself at all times so I don’t have the luxury of thinking about the future. Because thinking about five years or ten years from now, makes me feel anxious and nervous. It’s the ultimate monster of uncertainty.

But I’m looking at the gym embarassment as a wake-up call. I won’t be bringing in my phone to my workouts anymore. I’m going to try to be uncertain for at least one hour of everyday. No checking phones or computers or turning on the news.

It’s a small leap, but I am going to try to surrender to the uncertainty.

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Are you constantly plugged in to your phone? Are you comfortable with uncertainty? How do you cope with not being in the know? 

Image by Horia Varlan

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I Am Growing Up

Yesterday my daughter slipped down from the couch and jumped in the middle of the living room and said, “Momma, guess what? Do you know I am growing up?” Her smile was vibrant, her eyes sparkled with a sense of accomplishment. I didn’t answer her question because by saying yes, I’d have to acknowledge that time is moving forward.

I still remember her kicking me inside of my belly. She danced in there, especially on my road trips between Waco to Dallas. I would sing to music to make the highway drive go faster and I could tell that she rocked it out in my stomach by all of the flip-flops I felt inside me.

Those days are a memory. Now I watch her dance. In the last few weeks, I’ve caught her meshing together moves with her feet and arms, and I watch as a carefree energy envelops her. And I’ve witnessed other grown-up actions. She picks out her own clothes. She combs her own hair. She brushes her teeth. She puts her plate and glass in the kitchen sink when her breakfast is finished. She says words like transportation and fragile and skills.

It sometimes sends me into panic mode, watching her evolve into a young little girl. So many times I want to say stop. Let us linger in this moment, where you still may need me. Where you still want to kiss my cheek and give me impromptu hugs. Where the space that feels the most comfortable to you is the one that has me in it.

It’s not stopping. I know it. As she went to bed yesterday, she told me, “Momma, I know that unicorns aren’t real.”

I wanted to say. Yes, honey, I know they aren’t real too.

But I said nothing. My sigh held back my tears. I said under my breath, she is growing up.

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When did you realize that your child was growing up? Are you comforted or distressed by the passing of time? What will you miss the most when your child does grow up?

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Sliding Into Happiness

                                                            

                                                           If you want to be happy, be.  ~Leo Tolstoy

White baby powder made the surface slick, so that the discs could glide against the lacquered plywood. On weekend nights, in my childhood home, my family and I made a ritual of playing the Indian game Carrom, a type of table shuffleboard. My Mom and Dad would team up against my sister and me. We would laugh as each of us tried to out maneuver the other. In the background, music would play on the stereo, everything from Michael Jackson songs to the hits of Bollywood India. There would be popcorn, Sour Patch Kids, and Coca-Cola on ice. It wasn’t about playing the game, but spending time in our living room, being together and enjoying how we all slid into the moment.

I didn’t think it would be possible to replicate that slide, until one summer night in 2008. My husband, my daughter, and my sister decided that we would spend the night at my parent’s house. As we were finishing dinner, my sister grabbed the Carrom board out of the garage and announced, “I think it’s time we introduce your husband and daughter to the greatness of Carrom.”  I laughed as we all filed into the living room. I felt a tiny burst inside of me, curious as to how they would feel about this game.

We all sat down, crossing our legs on the floor, the smell of the familiar baby powder grazed my nose. At one point, my husband was teasing my mom about how she maneuvered the disk onto the board and snorted a quick laugh as she missed. My daughter would try to distract us by scooping the discs on the board, as we yelled, “Don’t touch that.”  My father smiled, coaxing his granddaughter to play, even though she understood no rules of game.

As I reflect on this now, I pause, replaying that moment in my mind. There were smiles on everyone’s faces, as each of us were immersed in the moment. I wasn’t chasing anything. All of the people who loved me and who I have loved were contained in my space at the same time. It was the perfect way of being.

And that is why I recognize this as ultimate happiness.

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Is just being enough to fulfill the definition of happiness? Do any particular board games offer feelings of nostalgia and happiness? Why do we struggle to just be?

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Life Goes On

  In three words I can sum up everything I have learned about life: It goes on. — Robert Frost

This week, my entire family fell like dominoes. My daughter and I started feeling sick, aches, sniffles and fever persisted for a few days for both of us. While we were recovering, my mom and my husband succumbed to the same virus. At one point, each one of us, laid in bed, unable to move because we were too sick to do anything.

The entire house was quiet. But the noise of the outside world creeped on. I heard cars moving about on the streets, people slamming doors, and the cries of children coming home from school. Noticing the forced quiet in our house, while contrasting it with the noise from outside, I was struck by this single thought: life goes on. Our cars stayed in the garage, the front door didn’t open or close, and our home phone probably rang once during the week. But the rest of the world, it was moving on, with or without us.

My daughter missed four days of school, but the classroom still carried on without her. The same moms who climbed in and out of there cars waved to each other, even though I wasn’t there. Runners lined the street in the morning jogging on the gravel, even though I wasn’t there to run behind them.

I realize what we were feeling was temporary. We eventually would be able to participate in our normal life soon. But  it really made me think how all of us carry on, despite what happens in and around and to us.

I thought of Robert Frost and why he articulated the words, that “it goes on.” In his life, he was plagued by extreme grief and loss.When Frost was only eleven, he lost his father and his family had only eight dollars to their name. Years later, at age twenty-six, he lost his mother to cancer. His sister also was committed to a mental hospital where he witnessed her death at a young age. Robert Frost and his wife Elinor endured tragic deaths of their children: his son Elliot died of cholera at age eight; his daughter Carol committed suicide at age thirty-eight;  and his daughters Marjorie and Elinor both died young. Later in life, his wife was stricken with breast cancer and also died.

Whether trivial or tragic, there are no exceptions. Life goes on.

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Do you sometimes wonder how people carry on despite what they experience? How does life go on for you? Why do you believe life goes on? 

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