love

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.

 

A Father's Day Tribute

My crazy, mixed up, loving crew.

My crazy, mixed up, loving crew.

By all accounts, this shouldn't work.

We are the most unlikely family, filled to the brim with our own set of colossally hard issues and significant problems. Together, through this thing called parenting, we have raced against a losing current and hurdled over more obstacles than an Olympic horse jumping event. 

Yet, somehow...

Somehow, against all odds, the better advice of therapists, friends and our families, with a lot of time, effort and communication, something sticks us together like bonding glue. Through it all, we have we cobbled together a family and a history that normal people wouldn't stand a chance with. Some days I am surprised we are still standing here in the middle of this life together.

But that's us. Against all odds. Different. Like a mix of ingredients for a dish that sounds really bad on paper... until suddenly you taste it and you are transported to a new world, full of flavor, character and spice. We are an unusual blend of flavors that somehow fits together.

So now we stand, shoulder to shoulder, 15 years into this game changing thing called parenting. It's been back breaking work together and apart. (Or at the very least, wine glass breaking). Some days, I really don't know how we have made it this far.

What I do know is that listening has worked. Hard work has worked. Bloody, sweaty, tear-filled hard work. Gut-wrenching hard work.

But mostly, Love has worked. Unlikely, unconventional, unrelenting Love.

Happy Father's Day.

 

A day off

An iPhone shot of my long day away.

An iPhone shot of my long day away.

This weekend, after working for about 4 weeks with no break, I did something uncharacteristically me. I took a whole day off. No emailing. No photo editing. No picture taking (except with an iphone). Nothing. I needed to get away from social media, email, photoshop and all the things that pull me in a million different directions.

This happened after a bit of a realization on my end on Saturday and something I admitted out loud: I wasn't happy.

Don't get me wrong. I am filled with appreciation and gratitude for everything I DO have in my life. But something wasn't jelling with me. Too much work and stimulation. Not enough downtime. Too much pleasing everyone. Not enough pleasing myself. There have been deadlines and hustling and meetings and computer time. But everything in my life felt a little chaotic.

This was a sign to me that I was overdue some time to decompress. I needed to do something for me. Self care and self preservation is most important. So, I headed to the beach where I always feel like I can breathe again and plopped myself down and decided to just BE.

I talked to a friend. I sat and stared at the waves. I watched my son swim and frolic in the sea. I walked along the edge of the shore. I dug my feet in the sand and let it crumble between my toes. I did all of this, over and over again, until I felt better. I did it until I realized that all the things we feel and see and want are all only dictated by the stories in our head. I did it until i realized what I really wanted was right in front of me, right at that very moment. Peace. Love. Friends. Family. It was all right there.

Often when we go seeking what we want more of, we realize it's been right there with us all along. For me, it's always been helpful to strip away the noise...the cell phones, the computers, the deadlines and the things-to-do lists. I can come back to what's real and what's most important...

For me all it boils down to is love. Pure and simple love.

On feeling safe

I think there is an element to all of us that wants to feel protected, safe and embraced. Somehow, though, the older we get, the harder this is to achieve - or at least admit outloud. We are supposed to protect ourselves and be strong enough to hold ourselves up. We shouldn't need the strong arms of protection wrapped around us at 14 or 44 or 84. There is this unspoken expectation that we should just automatically feel that we can deal with anything life throws at us no matter what.

But life is scary and hard and overwhelming when you go it alone - trust me, I know. And truthfully – on some level – I think we all want to feel safe. So how can we feel safe and embraced and protected where we are? What are the things that ground us into feeling this way? Is it money in the bank? Friends that have your back? A strong family support? Is it love? Does love simply by definition make us feel safe?

The more we talk about this, the easier it seems. Showing vulnerability makes lots of (but not all of) those we love come out and show empathy. We find our tribe when we become vulnerable. We find those that say "me too" and "you've got this" and "I have your back." Perhaps that's all we really need - to feel a sense of belonging in the world. And every so gently, the strong arms that protected us when we were oh so little turn into simple phrases like "I love you." "I am here for you." "I have got your back." "You've got this." 

Love

Love. From the graffiti wall in Austin, TX.

Love. From the graffiti wall in Austin, TX.

I love lots of things. I love colorful, bold, unashamed, standout love. I love dogs and kittens and horses. I love babies and old people and everyone in between. I love you! I love my friends and my family. I love the warm sunshine and the soothing, cool rain. I love the way the world smells in the early summer in Charleston. I love berries and pineapple and home grown tomatoes. I love my home and my pets and travel. I love my son.

There are also things I don't love. I don't love heat or humidity. I don't love raw onions or melons or cucumbers much. I don't love spiders of mosquitoes or cockroaches. I don't love the little gum balls that fall out of the trees in my yard because they are spiny and hurt to step on with bare feet.

But I recognize that each of the things in the world have a place. I recognize that there is a bigger picture other than what I like or want. I know mosquitoes help feed bats. I know those spiny gumballs grow big trees that supply oxygen to the world. I know that some people actually LIKE cucumbers and melon - and that's okay with me!

I don't think about the things I don't love much. But I do spend a lot of time thinking about the things I do love. And under no circumstances do the things that I don't love in this world make me want to hurt someone or something. There has never been an occasion I wanted to kill someone because they thought differently than me. Maybe I have been frustrated by our conversation or differences. But I never want to cause harm or pain. We have enough of that.

I don't know what the answers are right now. But I can't help but think that focusing more on what we love and have in common would be a good place to start.

So let's start here. With Love. Big, colorful, standout, proud love.

Learning to fly

beach boy

I recently posted this photo of my boy on my personal Facebook page. It got some unusual attention from friends and family alike - not because it's a particularly good photograph, but perhaps because of the caption I wrote with it:

"My heart. Just roaming this planet. All exposed to the elements and the cruelty and the joys of life. With no protective gear. Just some love from his momma. I do love him ever so much."

I think this resonates with all of us, doesn't it.

To me, parenting is a lot like watching my heart roam naked around the planet. All the vulnerability we have is exposed to the elements - joy, pain, fear, frustration, love -  walking around with nothing to protect them. That's how it feels to be this person's mother.

When they are little it's easier. They stay closer. And the problems are more clear cut: I'm hungry. I'm tired. I'm wet. I'm frustrated. But as they grow and learn and start to spread their wings and fly, the issues life deals them aren't so black and white. Problems become more complicated. The topography of life changes - the dips in the road, the twists and turns, the mountains to climb...they are all there. And all you can do for them is sit and watch and hope you have done a good job at giving them a half-way decent road map to all of it.

As my son ages, the complexity of parenthood becomes more and more apparent. Gone are the days of kissing boo boos away, wiping the tears and giving him a Popsicle to forget his troubles. There are no more easy distractions from frustrations, pain or hurt. He is just there. Exposed to it all.

And learning to fly on his own.

 

 

 

There is only love.

puddles

Some days I want to jump in and swim to the other side. Float into the land of glee and ease where the clouds are made of cotton candy and the stars twinkle like diamonds in the night sky.

In my mind, the other side is cool and sunny with soft grass beneath your feet. It's filled with music and laughter, with the right amounts of everything. The other side has just enough of everything, but never too much of anything.

On the other side there is no pain or hurt. There is no anger. No frustrations. On the other side, there is only love.

There is only love.

 

Love

love

Let love guide you.

Let it guide every decision you make and every breath you take. Let it wash over you in a way that water does for your thirsty soul. Let it enter every breath you take and every move that happens each day.

Let love show you the way out of the darkness and into the light. Let it show you all the good and all the bad parts of life, even when you aren't ready to see them. Let love shine out of your face and seep from your pores.

Let love be the answer. To everything.

Take care.

Morning rituals - fresh juice and avocado toast on Ezekiel bread. Sunday bacon for the win.

Morning rituals - fresh juice and avocado toast on Ezekiel bread. Sunday bacon for the win.

Take care of yourself. Kindly and with purpose. Gently over breakfast, or fiercely over your morning sweat. Take time for rest. Spend moments on yourself. Eat. Sleep. Play. Work. Find some spiritual center - in God, or on the beach, or a under a leaf. Find a place that you feel really small. Find a place that you feel really big. They are both really important to finding the balance we all strive for.

Just take the time to take the care of you that you deserve. You are worth it.