i can just tell

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photo by Phoebe

Dear Blog, it has been four weeks since my last post. Bless me Father for I have sinned, it has been four weeks since my last confession. As a kid, I was always majorly intrigued by confessional scenes in movies like the one in Flashdance! The dimly lit space I imagine smelling like Frankincense, the mysterious presence behind the partition, the downtrodden expression on the confessor. Dancing, welding, confessionals, leg warmers, hot dogs. For some reason, I recall hot dogs, am I right about this? And the ice skater friend with the sweaty boyfriend and the pervy father. What a movie!

My current state of mind in this particular moment is supremely grateful for my friends, my husband and kids, my mother-in-law, our various babysitters, my siblings, my aunt and uncle who live near my mom, my mom’s friends, her caretakers and nurses, and the random stranger angels that the universe has kindly thrown my way. Like the one at the airport who saw me with the most loving and knowing expression in her moon shaped, chestnut colored eyes. I was alone with my three kids standing on line to get a boarding pass for my “lap child”, sobbing. After saying goodbye to my sweet mom and one of my closest and best friends who came to spend a couple of days with us, I was in bad shape. Always in airports.

This friend who came a visiting, asked if she could do anything to help while we stood talking in the kitchen. Well, there is one thing. I told her she could take my mom’s Cocker Spaniel, Betty, to the vet to have her anal glands expressed. She had been scooting on the floor and her bottom was clearly in need of attention. A google search informed me that this is not something human beings have to worry about, fortunately.

But the visual of my friend backing out of my mom’s driveway with my 7-year-old daughter in the back and the dog in need of anal expression riding shotgun, is a vision I will not soon forget. Nor will I forget the look on her face when I told her I would need to get her prepared for the appointment with gloves and goggles. Fortunately, that was a joke. But talk about angels, she is the real deal, that Sal and I love her very much.

When I got up to the ticketing counter, the woman with the kind eyes, said, “I know how you feel, I haven’t seen my mom in two years.”  When I asked her how she knew that I was crying over my mother, she softly said, “I can just tell.”

Angles of all sorts are getting me through this time. Especially in airports. Must have something to do with wings and flying. But I take great comfort in knowing that when life is hard, we are never truly alone. And that we are supported by seen and unseen forces. I believe we are very much loved, appreciated and divinely guided.

And every glance, text, email, voice mail, hug, gesture, card, shared meal, walk, are the bones that hold us up. As Glennon Doyle Melton says, “We belong to each other.”  We really do. I can just tell.

 

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together

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My last post was about surrender. And this one is too. I haven’t gotten very far. Or maybe I have. Maybe this is where I need to stay. It is no surprise that the collective psyche is unhinged. There is a lot of uncertainty.

But there always is. Things often don’t go the way we think they are going to or should.

I am choosing to believe that I am not meant to know or understand why things happen the way they do. That not knowing is okay and that there is a force, a benevolent one, greater than me out there in the world. 

And then I wonder, can I reject things the way they are because it is not what I want and still move toward progress? Or do we need to accept things fully in order to move through, move on, and forgive?  Can I feel anger and love at the same time? Hope and anxiety? Acceptance and disbelief?

I am choosing to believe that one of the most courageous things we can do is be brave in the face of anxiety and uncertainty. And just show up as our whole big loving and imperfect messy selves.

No more putting on a “game face.” Speaking of game face, yesterday, in fact, my face was adorned in blue marker. Because I allowed my children to draw all over it. That’s right. And then I forgot, totally forgot that I had a bridal shower to attend. So I showed up anyway, late and embarrassed with the remnants of a blue F on my forehead and the word Dad smeared on my cheek. But at least I was there.  God, help me.

I have realized the last few days that we are all trying to do what we think is best for ourselves, our families, our communities and our country.

And our bests differ.

And that is okay.

I am angry that 43% of the people who could vote in this election didn’t. But I am thankful that we live in a country where we can speak up and share our voices and not be jailed or beheaded for doing so.

I feel like I am swimming in one giant paradox pool.

I don’t want to be angry. But I am about certain things. Maybe I can use it as fuel and motivation. Because it just seems to me that it is good to feel the anger and then be constructive with it and not stew in it for long. Let it out for Pete’s sake. I think that is what has been happening. Like everyone is just throwing up anger all over social media. Sometimes it may feel like it makes things worse. More separate. Less harmonious.

But then again honesty is important.

I don’t want to be divisive.

I want to be respectful. And kind.

So I am choosing to believe that fear and anxiety can coexist with love and hope. We gotta keep marching toward the greatest good.

I don’t want to take things for granted. I also don’t want to make light of the fact that there is suffering. Unfortunately, there always is.

We still need to laugh, however, and tell ridiculous jokes and be silly in the midst of it.

Because I believe lightness holds us. Levity lifts us. It is okay to take a break from being serious. I believe we can do both…be caring and concerned and laugh at the movie “Bad Moms” all at the same time.

Where do we go from here? I think of Martin Luther King. Of Nelson Mandela. Gandhi. Eli Wiesel. Viktor Frankl. Anne Frank. Malala. Madonna Badger. Those on the Standing Rock Reservation fighting for what they believe in.

And all of the people that aren’t famous but put their hearts where their mouths are. That do something to bring more love, more understanding and less hate into the world. Despite how very hard this sometimes is.

This is you. You do this. It may be volunteering at your child’s school to help a student learn how to read. Maybe it is taking the time to let someone cross the street with kindness in your expression. Maybe it is as simple as forgiving someone when they spaced a date important to you. Oy vey!

But so much that hurts is healed when we reach out and connect with one another. When we dig deep. When we share what we are scared to share, what makes us feel less perfect, and maybe even unlovable.

All I know is my connections with friends and family are keeping me grounded these days. I cannot do it alone.

So is nature because no matter what is going on in our human world, nature is happening all around us. We are part of this. And the surreal, cobalt blue colored skies have been so incredibly beautiful.

And the moon tomorrow is a Supermoon! It is also called the Beaver moon. And well I am excited about this.

Movement…like dance and exercise and singing and sharing our voices  – this is life saving.

Last weekend, my family and I painted a fence for a local non profit and it felt so healing to keep my hands and mind busy while doing something nice for someone else. This is essential at the moment. To keep moving in the direction of union and generosity.

So does getting back to the basics and taking really good care of ourselves. And this includes being discerning as to what we want to receive and how we want to contribute.

To feed fear or promote peace.

I am choosing to believe there is so much more good in this world. And so much to be thankful for. And I haven’t felt optimistic every moment of every day this week. On the contrary.

But I want to stay hopeful. No need to bypass anything we are feeling. We notice, pay attention, and breathe.

Together.

The Kissing Bandit Strikes again (this time at my son’s birthday party)

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I, my husband, and my very patient and generous mother-in-law were sitting outside waiting for pizza on a rainy night with nine children ranging in age from four to nine, when we first saw the “Kissing Bandit” appear on the T.V.

Through the glass window, footage from the 1970’s and 80’s showed the vivacious and buxom woman with the mane of blond hair running onto soccer, football, and baseball fields, hockey rinks, and basketball courts grabbing players or mascots, coaches and refs, and planting a big smooch on their surprised faces. They then showed her getting hauled off the field by security accompanied by cheers and applause.

This darling expose could not have come at a more appropriate time; a bunch of kids sick of the rain, sick of sitting still, and in need of some fine entertainment. It all seemed relatively innocent until a picture flashed up on the screen of the “Kissing Bandit” posing naked on a bed with crumpled sheets and a black censor over her breasts.

I imagine these party-goers will not be forgetting Will’s 8th birthday anytime soon.

When I was little, I recall sitting on my parent’s mauve carpet (wonder what decade I grew up in?) in front of the T.V. flipping through the channels looking for something to keep me company. Once I reached the higher channels there would be some funny business going on especially in the evening. We didn’t actually pay for these channels but every now and then something curious would pop up (pun intended) on screen, and although it was fuzzy or wavy, it was hard to miss what was happening.

Just thinking about what was known in classy, mature circles as “Picasso Porn makes me giggle and feel nervous. When I couldn’t take the risk of getting caught viewing such racy static, I would change the channel to Star Search with Ed McMahon (who kind of resembled my dad) as the host. And my innocence and purity would then be restored as I watched a little girl in glitter sing her heart out.

Sex education in 5th and 6th grade meant learning that I could still swim and partake in regular activities when I had my period. Yay! I was also appreciative to learn that feminine care products had come a long way since the 50’s and no longer required belts for usage. I am not sure what the boys learned in their class because one kid thought my friend had her period out of her breasts. This caused a lot of confusion that day at recess.

I learned a lot, and I mean a lot, from the books, Are you there God, It’s me Margaret? and Then Again Maybe I Won’t by Judy Bloom. Generally, my memory is distant. I struggle often with remembering the names of actors and musicians and sometimes my own children. But somehow I remember exactly where those books are shelved in my elementary school library and the very vivid description of Margaret’s first menstrual cycle.

Last weekend my son’s friend who moved out of state last summer called him on my cell phone to chat. I walked into the family room with a basket of laundry when I heard his friend ask, “So do you still want to kiss insert little girl’s name?” I pretended like I didn’t hear the question. My son looked at me with a twinkle in his eye as he gently slid in his socks on the bare wood floor to the back of the room. Then he quietly said, “No” with his hand over his mouth as he gracefully changed the subject.

It dawned on me, in that moment, that my little boy is really growing up. This was the same little man who laid on my chest for hours as a baby, and as a toddler would rather have played tag with me at the park than with other little people his own age.

I think about the fact that I don’ t want to be the weird mom that says too much and gets over-involved in my son’s romantic endeavors or the aloof mom who says nothing at all. My mom’s tactic in high school was to water the plants in the family room while my boyfriend and I watched Brenda and Dillon break up again or Donna Martin graduate on Beverly Hills 90210. I would then sigh and roll my eyes at my adoring, curious, and concerned mom.

In the not so distant future, God willing, it will be my turn to annoy my son. But for now, however, I relish the fact that he still smiles when I enter the room, and that the only kissing bandit smooching him at his baseball games is me.