Friday, November 6, 2015

Call me maybe?

It's been too long since my last posting.  Our lives have been a crazy kind of wonderful with absolutely no downtime.  Right now I should be grading papers and lesson planning and instead I'm contemplating life.

A few years ago I wrote about our faith journey. We had picked up and moved, for the second time in our marriage, because that's where our road was going.  I wrote about patience, faith, waiting and giving up control and planning because that's when you can really enjoy the ride of life.  I'm glad I stumbled on that post today because I needed it.  Everyone in my life is starting a new adventure. A few months ago I wrote about feeling like I was in transition and trying to find out who I was and where I was heading.  I didn't feel like I could start my own adventure because I needed to be a base camp as my family grows.  Kirk is now well entrenched in his post-graduate work, Whit is nearing the halfway point of Kindergarten and Eilidh continues to emerge into an independent and captivating child.

For the last few weeks, perhaps months, I've wondered where life would lead ME next. I see my family ranging out and coming back to me but I've been steadfast so far.  When would it be my turn? Who will I become next?  And although I don't doubt that something new will be on the horizon for me eventually, I must have missed the subtle shifting and changing that was going on around me; that my island was growing and bridges were being built around it.  I'm overwhelmed right now with the sense of community surrounding me. With the sharing of ideas and building of lives.  Someone once told me that the 30's were an amazing time and they have surely proved to be thus far.

And while I may lament at times the need for me to be away from home and family for work, and why I can't seem to figure out who I'm supposed to be and where I'm supposed to go, I've come to see over time that I haven't missed the calling that I've been waiting for.  I've just followed it without really hearing it.  I've settled into my new self without realizing it and have been doing important work without really knowing it.

I see the signs of change coming, I can smell a new adventure in the air. But for now I'm going to watch and wait.  I'm going to pay attention to who I am, where I am, and this amazing group of people I'm being connected to.  And when the time comes for me to jump, I'll be ready.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

To my mother in the mirror

I glance up and I see her...

She is looking in the mirror, poking, prodding and evaluating.
I can see the look in her eyes; I know what she is thinking.

Her skin, while still healthy, bears an uneven tan with strange tan lines.
There are stretch marks and spider veins scattered across her body.
Her breasts, hips and abdomen are not as firm as they once were.
Her knees, which she has never loved, are even less sightly than before.
Her arms and thighs have lost the tone and muscle of her youth.
Her hair, once a naturally highlighted blond has gotten darker with age, changing into something that can only be described as "brown."
Her eyes are tired, with just a hint of fine lines around the corners.

I met her gaze and I want to shout "Don't you see?"

Don't you see that your body bears a testament to your life, it tells a story?
Don't you see that your uneven tan shows that you have spent the summer working hard outside, playing with your children, planting a garden, living?
Don't you see that those stretch marks, spider veins, and abdomen are the proof that you nurtured and grew two amazing, beautiful children within your own body?
Don't you see that your knees are just the right height for a toddler to hold on to; that you are her anchor in the world?
Don't you see that your arms and thighs are now more suited to hugging, holding and kneeling down to clean a spill or play a game?
Don't you see that I don't care what color your hair is or what dress size you wear? I only want us to have matching hairstyles and dresses that swirl.
Don't you see that those eyes communicate love, hope and security?

Don't you see?  Don't you see that I am you?

25 years ago it was you standing there, looking at yourself in the mirror as I watched on.  Now it is me.  In another 25 years it will be my daughter who I can see out of the corner of my eye.

Then, now and in the future I will silently scream "Please! Don't you see how beautiful you are?"

Me, with my two amazing, beautiful children

My mother, the most beautiful woman I know

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

When I grow up... the artist and the adventurer

In the last three months both of my little ones have added a year to their age.  Each time this happens I think "I should start a prediction page!" Thinking, of course, that each year I would write down what I (or they) think each child will be when they grow up.

So I started thinking.  When Whit was very little he had charisma.  He was loved by a lot of people and always made a good impression.  I thought, surely, he will be the President or something.  As he got older I noticed that he cared about the rules a lot more than other children his age.  Aha! He will be in law making or law enforcement.  Then there was always the athletic side of him. Will he be a baseball player, maybe soccer, maybe football? I mean, the kid can kick and throw and hit.  And what about the fact that he likes to go places but doesn't like to do new things (as ironic as that sounds)...

When Eilidh was born I often played the same game in my mind with her.  She certainly won't cut it in the corporate world with a name like Eilidh.... but perhaps she'll be an artist?  She's loved to write and draw since she could pick up a pencil.  Or perhaps she will be a counselor or a nurse, since she enjoys taking care of other people.

And then, just about the time Whit turned five, I really started thinking.  Why am I getting so worked up over what my children will be when they are grown - in  more than 20 years.  Am I really going to keep a revolving list of what I think they will be?  Am I really going to ask them every year what they are going to be when they grow up?  Although the list thus far is quite funny - Whit is going to be a ghostbuster, a football player and a firefighter/school principal.  Eilidh is going to be a bunny, or a horse, or a bird.

I've decided to stop pressuring them. My children have their entire adult lives to figure out, without any input or pressure from me, how they want to affect this world.  I've passed the 30 year mark and I'm still trying to figure out what my role in this world is.  And even those times that I've figured it out, it always seems to change, sometimes very quickly.

I guess the bottom line is if we are to remain fluid and continue to grow (although rarely taller) throughout our lives we are never truly "grown up."  And therefore we can only hope that our daily actions can compound and impact our ever changing world in a positive way.  Regardless of their profession I hope we can teach our children to work hard at whatever they choose to do, to serve as custodians rather than consumers of their planet, to love first and judge last.

Someday my children will be grown and out on their own.  I hope they are successful.  I pray they find a path in life that follow's God's plan for them.  I hope their path makes them feel fulfilled, happy, and purposeful. And I hope that I can keep my own opinions out of it.
The Artist

The Adventurer

Thursday, April 23, 2015

My Island

Recently, I've felt a bit like an island. OK, not an island, as I'm far from stationary. But perhaps a small craft adrift in a choppy ocean.  With little starfish attached to my hull, of course, and another small ship that I frequently pass in the night.

I look out to the main current and I see fleets of vessels linked together, sails high and straining against the wind, braving the storm, and I wonder why I'm not there with them.  I wonder where my place amid that group is and why I seem to be struggling through the wind and rain on my own.

And then I see it.  A small group of battered boats, bearing evidence of their own battle against the storm, huddling in the safety of a beautiful cove on a small island.  They have their sails lowered and are anchored, peacefully floating in the still waters.  And then I see that the boats are empty, the voyagers of each are nestled together on the beach with their own little starfish.  Their connection is deeper and stronger than just being lashed together so that none will sink.  They are supporting each other, one holding up and loving the next.  They no longer feel the need to sail down the current searching for a port. Having all navigated the same way, they are content being on this island, their island, which is now my island too.

More boats are docking each day and there are enough of us now to build a little village.  A place where our starfish can get bigger and will feel safe, where their feet can grow so that they can navigate the oceans and strongly cling to the rocks of our island whenever the storms hit.  A place where it doesn't matter what shape their arms are or if they are vibrant pink or dusty gray. A place where they are known and loved. A place where the weary travelers can seek rest, familiar faces and support.

It's been the cold season recently and our little villagers have kept to their huts, warding off the weather.  We've missed each other.  Our starfish have grown, new ones have joined the tribe and we've needed to reconnect and strengthen our ties.  This week we finally had the opportunity to come together, to welcome the new ones and share our stories and knowledge.  It was a much needed renewal during this season of rebirth.

Sometimes I may still need to voyage out.  And often I will raise my flag to that main fleet of vessels.  But never more than today have I been so grateful for my villagers, my tribe, and my island.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

One, Two, Buckle my shoe

The winds have been strong the last few days and the weather has been warm.  As the air whips and whistles around me in a frenzy it's as if the world is expressing the current tumultousness of my mind.

For weeks I've been repeating the same thing to Whit.  "Soon, sweetheart, soon. Soon the snow will melt away and the weather will be warm....soon."  It's reminiscent of just two short years ago when I whispered those same words to myself and my overly large belly. "Soon, sweetheart, soon.  Soon the weather will warm up and you'll be ready to meet us...soon."

I  find it nearly impossible to fathom that not one but two years have passed since those days.  The time seems to slip more quickly by me as I reach out to grasp the memory of each day, to etch the ever-changing face of that tiny bundle in my mind.

The last few weeks I've been struggling.  I'm in yet another time of transition. I've climbed, resiliently, patiently, up the mountain of young motherhood and then joyfully bounded down, stumbling, of course, a few times on the way.  And now I sit, poised, at the bottom of the next set of mountains and I'm trying to decide which to climb.  Do I buckle up my gear and climb the career mountain, grappling my way through lesson plans and re-certification and student enrichment? Or do I look to see if some other mountain catches my eye?

All I know is that the mountain of early mothering is now behind me, for better or worse, I'll never be a "young new mother" again.  I've seen and experienced too much.  Even if we are blessed with other little ones I'll be the "experienced, multi-para" mom. Mostly that's a good thing.  I can share my experience and tips of the trade with other young new mothers.  I can be the wise sage whispering supportively to them.  And I'm looking forward to the day that I can wear that mantle with ease.

But for now, on this last day of having a child under 2 and in these last months before Whit climbs his own first mountain, I'm finding that the jacket doesn't quite fit; I still have a little more filling out to do.

So I suppose I'll walk the valley for a while.  I'll grow butterflies, catch fireflies and watch the clouds float by with my children, neither of whom fit into the "baby" category any more.  And I'll wait.  I'll wait for my next mountain and I'll tether my family as they prepare to climb up their own mountains.