graham

Sixteen

Graham-100.jpg

Here we are...sweet sixteen.

I'm not sure it feels as sweet from this end.  No longer my snuggly little boy. Not yet a full independent man. But you are well on your way. It's inevitable. The clock just ticks along...and with each passing day, change is eminent.

You tower over me now. At 6'1", you are man-sized. But its your spirit that remains so sweet. It's still got the innocence of you when you were a toddler waking up from a nap – bleary-eyed and drunk with thoughts of dreams that made you full of wonder and curiosity. Sometimes, it makes it hard for me to see you as the man you are becoming.

This past year was hard. It was a year of growth. A year of hurdles. You gave up a little, and then you gave it all you had. You learned such big lessons about life. You know when to ask for help and where to look for it. You know what struggle looks like and how it feels to be hopeless. More importantly, you know how it feels to be empowered. Strong. Capable. And in control. You know how to change the story with mindset, grit and grace.

The year ahead will be something you remember forever. I often reflect on my 16 year-old self and what she did. The mistakes she made and the trails she faced. So this is my advice to you: Make good choices.  You are ready for the year ahead, but the world will test you - pushing back like a the bully it can be. That's how it works. Stand resilient in it's face. Just keep remembering who you are.

You are good.

You are kind.

You are strong.

You are smart.

You are talented beyond your years.

You are gracious.

And yes, you are beautiful. Full of heart. Full of soul. And full of wonder.

 

You are wonder-full.

I love you, sweet Graham. Happy Birthday.

 

Messy rooms.

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Some days, I wake up and look at my son's room and sigh. It's always a mess. Carpet tiles askew. Bed never made. Clothes strewn about the room. I turn the other way as much as I can. But honestly, some days it gets to me. The mess feels chaotic - like loud music with a lot of dischord.

Lately, though I have been leaning into the mess. I walk by the room and smile a little. Nothing has changed except, perhaps, for my outlook on it. He's growing up. In 2 years he will be gone, walking across the stage in a cap and gown, a sea of opportunity in front of him. After that, his little room that he has know since he was 2 will be tidy, quiet, and organized. But it won't have him in it.

So today, I sat in here for a few minute. I admired the spots and stains on his white carpet tiles from the juice he spilled when he was sick. I traced the tiny, dirty hand prints on the wall that he outgrew so quickly. I picked up a little matchbox car he has on his bedside table and remember all of it... flood of memories I can't quite contain before they come spilling out around me, messy and chaotic...just like his room.

I guess the moral of the story is that life is messy when we have more in it. Soon enough, his sheets will be tucked in, dresser dusted, and life will be tidied up. For now though, I will hang on to the mess. It reminds me of how much I have to hold on to.

Wild love.

boy and his dogs

"Sometime's hope will look a lot like you." Unknown

It's Christmas.

I didn't do a card this year. In the past, we have had some winners. The first one was you as a naked baby sitting on a stool with little, white, drawn-on angel wings attached to you. That's where we started. And truth be told, we are still there. I could draw wings on you in this photo and it would be very fitting. You amaze me still...every day and in every way. Your heart is kind and full and ready to give. Your soul is like gold. To me, you look a lot like hope.

But we are at 15 now. It's been a tough year for you so far. Fifteen is hard. Between hormones and high school, you have been battled, beaten and worn down. But you just keep getting back up, facing it every day in the only ways you know how at 15. By flying with those wings.

I have admittedly been worried about you lately. It's what parents do. I know you feel it, too. The future is looming. There is so much pressure to Be and Do and Achieve. The expectations that life puts on you at this age are unfair. I don't buy into them. And yet, I still fret. I worry because I am unsure of what life holds - not only for you, but for me. I am unsure of how much to push, force, or encourage you to do things like study for an English exam or practice guitar. The doubt and pressure you are feeling are most certainly trickling down from me standing on a little shaky ground of my own.  Some of it matters. And some of it just doesn't. It's a fine line that is a unclear to a lot of people.

I saw a video the other day. It said something I was so sure of and I will never forget. It said "The world is desperate now. It is desperate for unconditional, wild, defiant love. Be that love."

I may be unclear about many things, but if there is one thing I am sure of it's this...we need love. Wild love. Unconditional love. Defiant love. So stay on your path...this path of kindness, empathy, caring. It's in you.  Be brave with your self because your self is beautiful. Spread it around like confetti. It may hurt sometimes, but I know one thing: the world needs more of you.

Merry Christmas, my wild love. You are all I could ever hope for in this world.

Cultivating Kindness

tomato

Today has been an awfully hard day. The biggest mass shooting in American history just happened. It seems a little disingenuous of me not to mention that out of the gate. People are hurting and in pain. Even the ones not related to the shooting or the victims are carrying a burden today.

And yet...

And yet, all I can think of – all I can muster up the strength for today - is love and kindness. All I know how to do is to give love somehow. All I can say to everyone I know - whether I know them or not - is that I love them. I love them DESPITE our difference of opinion in gun control. I love them DESPITE the fact that we grew up so very differently. I love them DESPITE the fact that I don't know them.

I find that, generally speaking, this is all we ever need: someone to love us, to hear us, to see us. Right where we are in the present moment. And that requires us to get up close and personal with each other. It requires us to get to know one another on a fundamental level. Moreover, it requires us to get to know ourselves on a fundamental level. Live with our truths and speak them. It requires that we live with them, side by side, day in and day out, and accept them for what they are.

I struggle with stating my truth sometimes. Like many of us, I suffer with I-wonder-what-they-will-think-of-me-itis. Will I offend them? Will they "unfriend" me? Will my business suffer because of this? I become the Switzerland of social media. Not commenting. Not voicing what I feel in my bones. Perhaps my silence is not a sign of passivity. Maybe it's not because I feel powerless around you, but more because I feel the visceral contempt you have for my political beliefs is the opposite of that which I seek: LOVE. TRUTH. BEAUTY.  KINDNESS. COMPASSION.

So now each day, I start there. I start with Kindness. I begin with compassion. I seek out love and belonging. And then I let it take fire. I spread it around however I can. Is it perfect? No. But it's a place to begin... a place to breathe into.

_________________________

I woke up this morning feeling helpless for the world. People were already arguing on Facebook about our President reacting or not reacting. They were already slinging insults over their rights for guns and their panic over gun control as they watched their kids walk into school, some wondering if they were safe today. Was it going to be their baby next? Their concert going teenager? The conversation was already heavy. And I hadn't even had a cup of coffee.

As I sat in traffic after dropping my tired and grumpy teenager off at school, I took a giant deep breath into my heart and I let it go. I envisioned micro packets of love and kindness riding dancing around like little dandelion seeds. They circled me, my car, and swirled around outside of me into the universe, dropping microdrops of love everywhere. Maybe they landed on the grass, or a windshield, or just floated aimlessly up into the sky. Dancing freely, looking for something to plant themselves into...looking for fertile ground to take root.

 

Fifteen.

Fifteen.

How did we get here?

You are now well into in high school. A full-blown teenager. A rising sophomore. You are a rugby player and really close to becoming a full blown adult black belt – a true testimony to your grit. You are almost driving now - which scares the heck out of me. You are 6 feet tall (or more) and truly more beautiful than anyone I know - inside and out. You are kind and compassionate. You are braver and far more daring than most people I know. You are more patient than anyone I know - despite what your last name indicates. And you are so gentle and sweet with animals that it truly melts me.

I can't believe what an amazing human being you are. As much as I hate the passage of time and mourn that little baby that grew up way too fast, I am inspired and full of awe at who you are becoming. It's such an incredible thing to witness from this side of life.

I don't worry now about the the things that regular parents think about – the trouble you'll get into and the mistakes you'll make. That's how we learn, grow, evolve and become. What keeps me up at night now is whether this world will break you. I worry that it will convince you to be something you are not, or stifle that which you are. Because what you are is truly one of the most beautiful spectacles I have ever witnessed.

Your gifts are great, Graham. Your heart is huge. On your birthday this year, all I wish for as you blow out the candles is that you keep that with you forever. Don't let this world break you. Don't let them take you over. Own YOU... because what you are is a beautiful soul.

Fifteen is big. Take precious care of this age. But mostly, enjoy every last second.

Love,
Momma

 

Summer Benchmarks

sleep

It's always been strange to me that we live in a world that values busyness over self care. We boast about work hours, job accomplishments and GPAs only to ignore the fact that we are simply undernourished and exhausted.

For me, summertime is the best time to actually allow yourself to unplug. It's the perfect time to let your body wake up when it needs to, eat what you hunger for, and really get some good quality soul time in. It's a perfect time to reset your self care routine and start fresh. Take a vacation. Start an exercise program. Cook fresh foods. Read a new book. And, of course, sleep in until mid morning (or, as in the example above, very late morning).

For me, summer is about changing those benchmarks you have been trying to accomplish. It's not about hours worked or grades made....it's about how you feel. Are you recharged? Rested? Refreshed? Do you feel healthy? Did you exercise you mind, body and soul today? These are my benchmarks of successful summer.

And by the looks of things, I think we are well on our way there!

 

Precipice

precipice

We are on the precipice of something big. Standing on a cliff, ready to fall into the gusty winds.

Change is headed our way - with or without me being prepared. It's coming regardless of whether we are all perfectly ready and in balance for it's arrival. Change is on my doorstep, whether I want it to or not.

High school looms on the horizon now and I can't believe it's here. I can't believe the time ticks away so fast or that the little boy who held my hand as we crossed the street to go to preschool is now taller than me and taking on this world little by little... one day at a time.

I guess that's how it all really happens, too. Day by day. Minute by minute. Without us even knowing. Until one day - one scary, big, confusing day - they walk across that stage to receive a little 8th grade diploma and stretch their wings as they stand on the edge of that cliff.

And I will whisper into the sky (just low enough for only him to hear), "Not yet peanut...not just yet. I still need to teach you to fly."

 

Throwback

beach boy

I took this photo towards the beginning of the summer. My son came with me on a family shoot I had scheduled weeks prior and the weather was too nice to leave him at home - even though he wasn't super interested in coming with me.

I love stumbling across photos you forgot about...old ones and new ones. It sharpens the memories a little more so they aren't lost in the back of my mind as I shop for groceries or schedule vet appointments. These overlooked little gems are like tiny diamonds, once again cutting open that forgotten pathway to my heart.

Looking back at this photo, I can almost smell the ocean. I can feel the humid evening wind as it gently tousles his hair to and fro. I can remember the milky light that evening and the warmth of the sea. It all just comes back - melting into one memory and sealing it's way into my heart once again.

 

Thirteen

thirteen

Here we are again...another year has gone, tucked away into our memories now. Hidden behind Christmases, vacations and birthdays and beachtrips. These days that pass often seem so long when we are in the middle of them while life steals precious seconds away from us. But our years together seem much too short for my aching heart as I watch you change overnight these days.

You are 13 now. Thirteen. Well on your way to becoming a man. No longer the little baby I held so close all those terribly short and fleeting years.

Where did it all go? It slipped by us in a flash, didn't it?  Karate lessons, school projects and carpool have given way to the young man I am looking at everyday now. Years slip by too quickly. But they have yielded a lovely and empathetic boy who is growing and already taller than me. It doesn't seem possible. This is never what I imagined. Yet, here we are. At thirteen.

I am not sure where we go from here. I am not sure what the next years look like. I fear the speed will start to pick up at a pace I cannot keep up with. Soon, college will be looming and I will not know what happened to these sweet, long days filled with cartoons and and too many screens. I will wonder why I didn't drag you kicking and screaming to the beach to watch more sunsets and let the warm waves wash over us. I will wonder how I have known you for so long, yet is seems like yesterday they handed me the chunky little baby who didn't look at all like a newborn in that hospital room all those years ago. Thirteen years ago.

Thirteen is new territory. It marks a definite change in things...in you. No longer a little boy. But yet not quite grown up. I stand here clinging to the past, yet so excited to see what the future holds for you. I know it will be filled with love and joy and strength - just as you are.

I hope this world doesn't change you too much. I hope you remember to stay as you are -  strong yet soft, curious and cautious, big with the knowledge of how small you really are in the grand scheme of it all. Mostly, I hope you remember all these wonderful gifts you have carried since birth. You have so many gifts - and they are far too big for wrappings and bows. They are real. They are what counts.

Today, I wish for you to blow out the candles on your cake and dream big. Make it count. And don't let anyone tell you that you can't have those dreams - not even me. Especially not me! I am sure I will do it. We parents make silly mistakes. We have our fears and beliefs. And we try to protect you from them as well. But those dreams are yours. Own them! They are real. Today is the day to start believing that. Today is the day to start believing in yourself even more than you ever have before. Because you are going to do great things. You are capable of anything.

Remember that I love you. There are 13 years between us on this planet, but an endless amount of years I have known you in my heart. And everyday, that love grows impossibly and exponentially bigger.

Happy Birthday, Graham. I am looking forward to every single long day and short year ahead.