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transience

February 7, 2016

Jude lost both of his front teeth in the last week. The first one fell out last weekend when he bit into his sandwich across the table from me. Then he called me on Thursday as I was on my way home from work. “I lost my toof at school today, mama!” I found him in the bathroom that night in front of the mirror, trying to sound out words without the help of his front teeth. Laughing at the sounds coming out.

It’s funny that when kids are babies, you mourn every little change. The day their bony legs begin to unfurl from that newborn fold, every time they grow out of a tiny onesie. The nostalgia on that first birthday was tangible to me. Memories of birth and the early quiet moments I wanted to return to.

It seems like babyhood is particularly transient because it moves so fast, but I think that’s a wrong assumption. It’s all fleeting. The older I get, the more I understand this. Life moves and grows and changes, and you don’t even realize something is new until you look around to see yourself in a different place.

Family Pics 2015

Soon enough, his teeth will grow in. His gummy lisp will disappear. The awkwardness of his smile will be replaced by something else that will grow and change. It’s the way it goes.

And we do it, too. People grow older. People change and leave, and yet others you never expected will enter your life. The secret, I’m learning, is not to cling to every passing phase with white-knuckled panic. It’s hard though – knowing that something is not permanent when you wish it would stay. But it makes the hard stuff easier when you see that it’s just passing through. It makes it all more beautiful when you know that nothing lasts forever.

The past year has felt like a trial by fire for me. It’s strengthened me and molded me when I willed myself to sit still and weather the storm. But I feel like a season of rest is around the corner. Not decadence and luxury and extravagant reward for the ways I’ve grown, but a quiet after the storm. I feel it sometimes when I am alone and in everyday seconds with my kids. A moment to steady my pace and exhale and see the transient gifts that wait for me. Toothless grins, baby doll strollers, ballet tights with wrinkles at her knees, and his little voice slowly sounding its way through books. Quiet nights alone, more time for writing, excursions with friends old and new, and the wide open wonder of a vast blank page in front of me.

Real life is never boring when I remember that these details that are so commonplace now will give me a longing ache when I view them one day through the lens of nostalgia.

boundaries

January 31, 2016

In that famous Pema Chodrom quote that everyone knows, she explains that “nothing ever goes away until it has taught you what you need to know.” And yet so many times in our lives, we tend to wonder why something is happening to us again and again. As though luck throws us the same problems and it’s all due to chance.

Yesterday officially marked the date of one year ago that I signed divorce documents. By the time a judge stamped it, the calendar read April, so I never know which date to recognize. But yesterday marked the signing which seems more official than the state-mandated official date for some reason.

You can look back at this journal and see the ways I have changed, the ways my entire life has changed. I was driving home from the grocery store this weekend and listening to the latest Dear Sugar, and this week’s guest noted a passage from an Edith Wharton letter when she stated that the cure for loneliness is “to make one’s center of life inside oneself, not selfishly or exceedingly, but with a kind of unassailable serenity — to decorate one’s inner house so richly that one is content there, glad to welcome anyone who wants to come and stay, but happy all the same when one is inevitably alone.” It resonated so much that I smiled and laughed in a way that was so genuine and so loud that it would have been embarrassing had someone been in the car with me. That “unassailable serenity” was such a foreign concept to me when I shakily signed those documents a year ago. I get it now.

I am finally at a place when I whisper thank you, thank you, thank you at least once a day for the life I lead. For being alone and free and no longer tied to anyone who does not understand me and see me for who I really am. It took me a really long time – the better part of the past year – to come to terms with this, to be able to say it aloud. You grow so used to how someone treats you, what they do or don’t recognize about you, that you neglect to see the writing on the wall. You don’t even recognize that love isn’t being served at the table anymore until that concept walks through the door in a body ten years younger than yours and leaves with your wedding china.

The universe speaks to us in whispers, and when we don’t listen, we get a scream. If there’s a path you are not meant to be on, God will find a way to place you on another road. Sometimes it just takes a drastic measure to get your attention.

I’m listening now. I see it. I hear it. I’m better for it.

Marriage is a beautiful thing when it is done well and two thinking and feeling people show mutual respect for one another, but as the host on Dear Sugar said last night (even as the happily married man that he is), there is a very small circle drawn around what you can do when you are married, even happily so. I’m finally understanding that circle became even smaller and smaller for me with the passage of time, and it is nothing but relief as I emerge from it a year later. Grateful and hopeful and stronger for the pain.

These simple, obvious things – the freedom to make decisions without consulting anyone, the freedom to take my time as I move forward and choose someone else to spend time with, the freedom to pursue my own interests and not have to explain myself to anyone else – these little things feel so unbelievably cherished and special to me in my present season. Like I can finally breathe after years of swimming underwater.

Still though, there are bits that remain. Lessons that, to reference Chodron’s quote again, just aren’t finished with me yet.

Every week, I flip a new card from my affirmation deck on Sundays and pin it on a board near my bathroom mirror. Sometimes it feels like that particular card found me on that particular day. It often works together with the rest of my life to drive that message in my head so that as I read it each morning, it becomes clearer and clearer.

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We all know the Golden Rule to love one another, but the part we forget is to love ourselves. To treat ourselves how we’d want to be treated. To respect ourselves.

This week that idea was finally a lightbulb moment for me. The simplest of concepts that I should have accepted many years ago, but I am just now figuring it out: You show people how to treat you. If someone repeatedly steps in my personal space or pierces my own sense of worthiness, it is not his responsibility to fix that. It is mine.

As I look back on my life as a married woman, I can now see so clearly that an affair did not come out of nowhere. I taught him how to treat me. Every time we swallow an insult or accept something that bothers our spirit and insults our deepest sensibilities, we tell that person that it’s okay to treat us that way. I’m seeing this now – looking back at the hundreds of times I absorbed something as my lot in life, what I had to accept. When in reality, I didn’t have to accept it, but it was simply laying the groundwork for what was to come. I felt shocked when it all dissolved in such an explosion, but in actuality, it was the most logical next step on the journey. The universe whispered, and I ignored it, but then it screams so loudly that you can’t run the other way.

My therapist has noted (another concept that never dawned on me but is incredibly obvious) that I don’t permit myself to feel anger and I essentially skipped over the anger stage of the grief process in this past year of my life. She’s right. Denial, shock, sadness – I did all of those. Anger? It never emerged. My friends would comment on how they were angrier than I was about it, and they were right. How I never saw I was skipping that and why I never let myself feel it is something I don’t understand.

But I know for certain that the world gives you what you need to learn when you are finally ready to work through it. Anger has a purpose. It puts that fire in your belly that grants you the resolve to demand respect. I think I’m finally there. I’m reaching a place where I can recognize when someone is not respecting me, and I’m finally learning to establish boundaries. “No” is a complete sentence.

It is incredibly hard to teach someone how you can be treated when you accepted something else for a decade. (And this is something that causes the most pain and conflict of anything else in my life – my family hated you for fifteen years, you are selfish, screenshots of my blog with highlighted sections and commentary that I need to “learn how to write.” It’s a continued source of unbelievably difficult conflict, but I’m still working to correct damage resulting from what I accepted for far too long.)

I read once that you really know you have forgiven someone when you can say thank you for the lesson he taught you. I’m not certain that I have arrived at full forgiveness, as expected only one year out. That notion takes years and years to fully develop. But I’m not certain it’s a straight line either because the thank you part is where it begins for me, not where it ends. It’s hard to correct these things after years without boundaries, but it’s easy for me to grasp this moving forward. I can say no without apology now. And most importantly, I can see those red flags now. When I set a boundary or explain that something hurts my feelings and causes me pain and someone disregards that feeling or dismisses it, or worse yet insults it by calling me too sensitive, it is a sign to run the other way.

Why do women forget this? We neglect to realize that we can decide when something is unacceptable – whether that’s in personal or professional life. Our plates are too full and our minds are preoccupied with the thousand ways we should do everything better when in reality the only thing we can do better is to recognize where we end and where another person begins.

 

 

 

 

 

right, left, right, left

January 27, 2016

Monday night I did my usual routine with the kids. Read a couple books, talk a bit, say our “blessings” as we call it, and relax a minute as they drift off. I normally let them drift to sleep and then head back downstairs for a little time on my own – practical things like cleaning the kitchen and packing lunches or necessary things like yoga or writing. But Monday I laid there with them a minute, noticed the clock said 8:20, and then woke up to see 1:40 staring back at me.

I’m not sure how I can feel so exhausted and heavy when I just had a weekend snowed in alone and 48 hours to reset. How does that happen? The energy reserves seem to drain faster than they refill in my life.

There is always something to do. Always. I got a reminder email about a kindergarten reading incentive chart that is due next week, and tonight I managed to look at our bookshelf and scribble in the titles of what we’ve read recently as Jude was bathing and Norah was brushing her teeth. It’s the tiniest thing, just a list of books. But all the little things make your life so crowded. There is always something.

Sometimes I want to know who these moms are with pristine homes and matching clothes and cars that aren’t littered with water bottles and food wrappers. Do they have less on their to-do list than I do? Probably not. But the older I get and the farther I get into parenthood, the less I even strive for that anymore.

My kids are clean! Their lunches are packed, and their bellies are full! We have a house where I can keep all the things we need! And we occasionally have fun! All of these things feel like accomplishments lately. I’m grateful for all of it.

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Right, left, right, left. Just keep walking. They look to me for these million things that have to get checked off the list as we engage in our daily lives. And sometimes that can feel like a thankless task, as any mom will tell you. But the daily grind is where it’s at. I think one day they will see that more clearly. And even now, it’s in between these million busy moments that you can steal seconds of insight. It’s easy to get tired of being the glue that holds together this delicate balance. The chauffeur, the chef, the maid, the tutor, the event planner. So many heavy roles we carry. But without all of these things, I’d have no front row seat to their lives and the million subtle ways they grow and change with every experience.

Now that my two are getting a little older, I think a lot about what they will remember about this time in our lives. I don’t know what they will recall, what they will associate with me and with these years. But I think we are seeing each other in the truest way, even among the busy daily demands. They see me for what I really am and give me space to grow into something else. And I strive to do the same for them in return.

The hump is over, and we are completely in a new normal. Our rhythm feels worn and comfortable, even among the chaos.

 

 

snow and quiet

January 23, 2016

Atlanta was bracing for something more exciting than we we ended up with, but we were left this weekend with a little dusting and some uncharacteristic windy chill. The high is only 30 today, but the sun is bright, and I can hear drops running down my gutters right now as the rooftop thaws.

I went to take the dog out last night before bed, and the neighborhood was quiet. Just the slightest dusting can feel special when you live in Georgia.

southern "snow"

The kids are away this weekend, and it brings more consolation than sadness – if I can be honest. I have been trapped inside with them for days at a time alone more times than I’d care to remember. In 2011 when Jude and I spent 7 days alone in the house unable to conquer the driveway and neighborhood streets. In 2013 when I had two kids under 4, both sick. And again in 2014 when Atlanta was hit with a lot that year and I had a husband working in sunnier climates. I love my kids. I do not love winter and the thought of icy streets and no snow plows. When I remember the frayed nerves that resulted from days on end of no real adult contact in those storms, I’m grateful for the time alone to pause this weekend.

This morning, I wandered down the stairs at 8:30 to brew the coffee, and I already heard the chatter of neighborhood kids outside with hats and mittens. It brought a tinge of sadness and a tangible ache for a minute, but as I’ve settled into the rest of the day busying myself with things around the house, the solitude feels worn and comfortable.

I was told that this would happen eventually, that being alone would get easier. It felt so unnatural in the beginning, but I am there finally.

Winter takes a lot of deliberate focus for me to see the bright side and push through. It can feel long and dark. I’ve been making a conscious effort since the new year began to be still and use the early dark and time at home to tend to what’s close. It’s working well to calm the restlessness or anxiousness or dreary outlook that can sometimes emerge from winter.

Ram Dass so famously said, “The quieter you become, the more you can hear.” And one good thing about this time of year is that it is so quiet – if you let it be. School and work and activities keep us rushing, but by 6pm it is dark and we are home and glad to be here. The kids are in bed by 8, and I make myself (no matter how much I don’t want to) turn off the distractions and unroll my yoga mat for half an hour. This goes in the category of duh, why didn’t I know that already? but that half hour has brought so much foundation and awareness to the rest of my day. It’s funny how much I’ve paid for occasional classes in a studio in years past, and it’s the home practice that is making such a difference for me. That’s how it always goes though; it always starts at home, all of it.

Looking to something or someone else to get you somewhere has hollow results. You have to see the abundance in your own self. Winter is good to remind me of that. All these little things – baking a bit, getting an extra hour of sleep, lighting candles after dark – they all echo what I already know which is that what you need is all right here.

breath inside

January 16, 2016

This was one of those work weeks that somehow felt so much longer than only 5 days. Little stresses here and there that add up to so much, and I was always dashing from one thing to another – both literally and mentally as well. It’s hard to just be still with yourself in those times. It takes a lot of effort on my part, effort to stop frantically moving from one task to another and just slow down.

I’m listening to the latest album by The Oh Hellos lately. There’s a lyric in one song (click here for a listen) that cuts me softly every time I hear it: I’ve learned a lot about the way of things. I learned that everything has breath inside. I forget I have breath inside sometimes and that everything else does to. I forget the power of breath. Yoga and meditation are so good to remind us of this, but outside of those experiences, I forget to listen to my own current. That steady reminder of life’s continuity.

I’ve changed so much in the past year – the past few months even – that it seems strange at times to think that it is the same beating heart in my chest, the same breath moving in and out. Same as it ever was, only maybe not. Because I feel it differently now than I did before. I feel everything differently.

The kids and I spent time today at my grandparents’ place which I’ve written about often as it’s so central to my own memories and my own identity. It feels good to come home to these associations, like the breath inside I mentioned before. A continuity that steadies you. This week was stressful, and yesterday was bitterly cold and rainy. But today we stood in the familiar and the sun made up for yesterday’s chill. Winter sunshine feels like such a gift. We collected eggs from the hens and walked what is left of the fall garden. Jude munched on raw kale that he’d surely push aside if offered on his plate, but somehow it felt like a treat when he plucked it himself.

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In the song that initially got me hooked on The Oh Hellos, they echo Hello my old heart, how have you been? Are you still there inside my chest? I’ve been so worried. You’ve been so still. Barely beating at all. I remember the first time I heard it when it appeared on my Pandora station last summer as I painted a room in the house soon after we moved in. It was late and the kids were sleeping, and I was working to bring something of my own to a place that felt new and foreign. The lyric resonated enough with me in that moment that I teared up a little.

We’ve all felt like that at times, I think. Like you’ve ignored your own voice and you have to press an ear to your own soul and listen hard to see what’s there. It’s easy to listen to the clamor of what’s outside and ignore that whisper that is only heard in stillness.

It’s coming back to me, my old heart. It’s changed shapes in many ways, but I finally feel it beating as it was before. Like that same breath that moves in and out. Those long-forgotten but familiar spaces are coming back. It happens in bits and pieces, but it feels so needed, like winter sun.

I ran across a Facebook post yesterday that featured one of my favorite Rumi passages I’ve quoted before. Elizabeth Gilbert expanded on that passage by suggesting, “Maybe the worst thing you ever endured was a crucible through which you became YOU. Maybe you could not have become YOU through any other means except by going through that trial.” It’s a weird thing, right? To journey so far and in ways feel like you just made your way back to the beginning. The you that you always should have been. The old heart emerging again but softer and braver than it was before, feeling the pulse underneath the noise.

 

a line between this and that

January 10, 2016

I’ve finished Cheryl Strayed’s Tiny Beautiful Things this weekend after beginning it over the holiday break. I flipped the last few pages last night, long after I should have been asleep. I was sad to finish it. Don’t you love it when that happens with a book? I was sad to turn the last page and put it away, but I will return to this one again and again.

There are numerous letters and stories and quotable paragraphs in it. It is impossible to choose only one to hold as a favorite.

I think the thing that pierces me so deeply about this book is her belief and her many examples of both knowing and not knowing the things that present themselves in our lives. It’s so hard to put this into words– the surprise yet the deep-down understanding– but she manages to say what I am feeling so often these days.

These full circle moments happen in life sometimes. If we pay attention, we see them.

She explains in one letter, “There’s a line by the Italian writer Carlo Levi that I think is apt here: ‘The future has an ancient heart.’ I love it because it expresses with such grace and economy what is certainly true—that who we become is born of who we most primitively are; that we both know and cannot possibly know what it is we’ve yet to make manifest in our lives.”

Do you feel that sometimes? That we both know and cannot possibly know what will manifest in our lives. I do. I feel it all the time, and in hindsight I have felt that in the past about my current reality.  It’s like these strangest sensations of deja vu, but not exactly. I’m not sure I’m explaining myself well tonight as it’s late and I’m tired and these moments are so hard to put into words.

It’s beyond hard to explain, but I am feeling so clearly that I’m where I’m meant to be.Where I’ve always been destined for, though it was such a painful bend in the road to make it to this spot. It’s what she describes as being “surprised and knowing at once.” And I’ve felt it enough times in my life to see the beauty in it, the wonder.

When I heaved and moaned in that bathtub and brought my squinting daughter in the world, it was the most surprising but known moment of my life at that point. The thing I didn’t think I could do, but when I did it, I realized I knew all along that it was going to happen exactly as it did in that instant. I always knew.

When I teach now in a classroom where I sat sixteen years ago – I am surprised and knowing at once. A moment I never saw coming, but somehow it feels so real and worn-in and familiar that it had to be that way.

When I lie down at night cuddled between these two and it is only the three of us, it seems. Only the three of us in the entire world. It feels like it always was that way, yet it is something I never expected – to be alone with them with no real plan as to where we are headed. Just the here and now.

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There are other moments, too. Too many or too intimate to share. Moments when life hands you such full circle perfection that it brings you this low hum of knowing underneath the surprise. A vibration that you can feel if you are still enough to notice.

I think this is what people mean when they say you are where you’re meant to be. It doesn’t always fill our ideas of what we thought we wanted, but underneath the shock or the pain or the confusion, it’s a calm surrender and a comfort. A voice that wraps us up in the smallest way to tell us we are on the right path.

In one of my favorite columns in this same book, she explains what it felt like to see her daughter wearing a dress purchased by her mother before her mother passed, one she’d saved for years in a box though she couldn’t decide why it needed saving at the time. And she says upon seeing her daughter in it, she could only think, “How beautiful. How ugly. How little. How big. How painful. How sweet” and then realizes, “It’s almost never until later that we can draw a line between this and that.”  How true that is.

I think I look calm on the surface to others, but in reality, when I look ahead, I am filled with immense anxiety. It is something I’m working on and wanting hard to change about myself. When I have a few days that are especially busy or filled with “future-oriented thinking” as my therapist likes to say, I can get a knot in my stomach that will not soften. A tremor in my hands, truly. The busy nature of day-to-day life plus the unforeseen status of what lies ahead for me (after years of what I assumed was a secure and held future) is a cocktail for mayhem on my nervous system. It is a physiological reaction I can feel when this happens, and it’s easy to get trapped in that scary and circular pattern of thinking. What now? What is next?  What now? What is next?  What now? What is next? 

But when I sit down to write, or I take a minute to think about my past and reflect on how it is intersecting with my present, I “draw the line between this and that” as Strayed says, and it brings a tangible calm to me that soothes every bit of what makes me quiver and hold fear in the pit of my stomach. It’s like a voice that says, this is not how you thought it was going to happen, but it’s how you knew it was supposed to be. It’s what I already knew.

In the closing paragraph of that same chapter she asserts,“We cannot possibly know what will manifest in our lives. We live and have experiences and leave people we love and get left by them. People we thought would be with us forever aren’t and people we didn’t know would come into our lives do. Our work here is to keep faith with that, to put it in a box and wait. To trust that someday we will know what it means, so that when the ordinary miraculous is revealed to us we will be there, standing before the baby girl in the pretty dress, grateful for the smallest things.”

The ordinary miraculous. It’s such a beautiful thing. And I see it everyday, I do– sometimes even in the biggest moments that make me catch my breath with their perfect unforeseen familiarity. But the hardest part is putting uncertainties in a box to wait. The waiting is hard.

 

 

delayed introduction

January 8, 2016

Hi! I’ve acquired a few new ears around here since Scary Mommy ran my essay a few days ago, so I thought it might be a good time to tell you more about myself if you’re a new visitor here. There’s a bit on my About Me page if you haven’t been there yet. But as with most of us, the full picture is a little larger.

I’m Katie, and I live with my sensitive and curious six-year-old son and his sweet but very spunky three-year-old sister in northern Georgia. Life is never boring with these two, and they are hands down the very best thing that has ever happened to me. Motherhood pulls away the veil like no other experience (for me at least), and they push me to be better and stronger each and every day. They are the center that holds me together on most days. And the mess that makes me come completely unglued sometimes, too. Funny how parenthood works that way. We are never perfect and almost always messy, but they are my saving grace nonetheless.

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I’ve had this little blog for almost 6 years, and it used to be full of musings about how much I loved motherhood and my simple stay-at-home mom life. Truthfully, it really did bring me so much happiness. I cloth diapered and had a passion for natural birth and made my own baby food like one of those moms (haha!) and perfected all kinds of yummy recipes and pretty much found peace in all the little details of my day. I had a husband I loved and a life I loved. We traveled a lot with our kids (Costa Rica! Paris! Aruba!) as a result of my then-husband’s job, and I love to explore. It was a charmed life, and I loved it.

But something was stirring in the world at large and in my own heart. I have a Masters in English and taught literature to loads of high school students before I became a SAHM, and I received an offer to teach at my beloved alma mater, a liberal arts college in northern Georgia, in the summer of 2013. I had a 3-year-old, a 14-month-old and an unsure head, but my heart said TAKE IT in a loud and clear voice, and so I did. I teach written composition courses now, and I love it. Teaching satisfies my calling in a way nothing else can, and literature is a lifeline for me.

My life blew up in November of 2014, and that is the part everyone knows by now. I was the girl who behaved in school, pushed myself for good grades, demanded perfection of myself, and made all the “right” decisions. What happened when it all fell apart is that it left me with new eyes to see that I don’t have to be perfect, and I shed the heavy armor that, in hindsight, I was wearing to survive the final months and years of my former marriage. I now believe that grace is better than guilt. It’s hard to summarize the growth that has happened since then or the ways that I am still growing, but one of the greatest treasures of my life is that I have every step chronicled here. From the moment I shakily typed through tears at 2am to the moments the light began to return for me and even now as I continue to grow and move forward. It’s all here in words and pictures.

I penned “Enough” in July of 2015 for a Sweatpants and Coffee call for submissions entitled “Right Place, Right Time” about the time when someone said just the right thing to you at just the right time. I felt proud that it was chosen and immense relief at having written down the heavy lesson I’d learned.  I unleashed it into the wide world, but I didn’t know just how far it would travel. It has since been re-posted on Role Reboot, Alternet, and Scary Mommy’s Club Mid – all of which have widened the readership of this tiny journal that I’ve held closely for so long.

I’m honored it has resonated with so many people, and I still get chills every single time I receive an email or comment from a reader explaining why she relates to it. I’m forever grateful for what that little essay has done for me, and it’s amazing to watch it make its own way in the world at large and connect me with so many wonderful readers.

That said, I have grown in leaps and bounds since I wrote that 6 months ago, and I hope to continue moving forward and writing, writing, writing as long as I have something to say. That experience was the catalyst that pushed my life in a new direction, but it doesn’t define me. It feels like it defines you for a portion of time, (and those of you who have lived through any kind of unexpected trauma know what I mean) but as you heal, you see that experience in your rearview mirror as a piece that you will always carry with you but only a small picture of what else there is to you. I am currently 14 months out from those early moments, and I see it getting smaller in my rearview. I hope it will continue to get blurrier as my years roll by.

I have written a lot here, but I don’t give much space to the specific horrifying details of my divorce. I allude to clear and basic facts only when they are necessary to understand the context of my own growth. I was married almost ten years; I found email letters between him and a coworker; I begged and competed for a few weeks before a switch flipped inside of me and I heard the clearest voice imaginable telling me to get out and close that door. They got engaged five weeks later, got married seven months after that. The rest is my own story, my own progress. I made a decision as I began a life on my own that I would not grow smaller and more bitter as a result of what happened but that I would grow softer and more fearless. You can’t fake motivation, and I think readers can see in my writing that I have no desire to punish anyone, and I believe that people are complicated beings. As Charles Bukowski says, “Nobody can save you but yourself– and you’re worth saving. It’s a war not easily won but if anything is worth winning– this is it.” 

Though I have written in this space for 6 years, I’m just beginning to reach more to the outside world. My one and only resolution for 2016 was to write more, submit more, reach more. I’m vowing to create more space in my life for writing and just see where it goes and what the universe has in store for me.

I believe in God, and you can see that spirituality weaves itself in my writing often because it is central to how I understand the world around me. I simply believe, with every ounce of me, that there is a greater plan at work. That bad things don’t happen to you as a punishment but they happen for you as an agent of growth. That every single experience I’ve had is there to shape and mold me and prepare me for what is ahead. We can find meaning in even the worst moments of our lives as we put the pieces together in reflection.

I never once prayed for the pain to stop, never once asked God to soothe my heart even in the early, raw moments. My only prayer for about four months was help me, show me. And that happened. I sincerely think that human connection is the most incredible way that God reveals what we need to know and learn, and I’ve watched a handful of invaluable teachers show up for me when I needed guidance. Rob Bell, Pema Chodron, Jen Pastiloff, Elizabeth Gilbert, and Cheryl Strayed have been the main ones for me in this season. I have faith that I find the words I am meant to find in the wide world at exactly the time I am meant to hear them. We learn from each other and find comfort in each other, and now I see so clearly that it is the raft that will carry us when we’d otherwise drown. The way I have survived the past year of my life is through the words of others, my tight circle of girlfriends who are my restoration, and a stubborn practice of gratitude that shapes the way I see the world.

I am not done yet. I don’t have it all figured out. I do the best I can with every day, and sometimes the best I can do is just breathe deeply and vow to try again tomorrow. I think “balance” is a myth in the life of a mom, or at least the traditional way of seeking balance. I think balance means that sometimes I’m less prepared for my class than I’d like to be because my kids needed extra attention the night before. Or my kids get too much screen time one Sunday afternoon because I have books to read and papers to grade. My house is a wreck sometimes often because I spent time preparing a healthy dinner instead. And sometimes I feed my kids cheap pizza or curl up in a blanket and binge on Netflix to hide from the world when I have the house to myself because my sanity is important to me, and it often hangs by a thread. Balance means prioritizing and doing the best you can. My best is good enough.

So that is me in a long-winded summary. I am so honored that new readers are finding me across the crowded internet. If you feel like speaking up, I’d love a little roll call in the comments – whether you are a familiar friend or new.

Where are you from? What brings you here? And do you have a blog link or Instagram handle you’d like to pass along? Community is the very best thing words can offer, and I’d love to know more about you.

 

 

 

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