Thursday, June 16, 2016

The Thistle: Where I'm From.

I am from clothespins,
from Clorox and carbon-tetrachloride,
I am from the dirt under the back porch.
(Black, glistening,
it tasted like beets.)

George Ella Lyon wrote those words in her poem "Where I'm From."
Jan Richardson unpacks the power of the poem in a chapter of her book In the Sanctuary of Women and then writes her own version of where she is from, who she is, what "holds her roots."

I love the image of things, people, places and experiences that hold our roots, like how these trees are doing:



My backyard happens to be full of thistles. The root system of the thistle weed is winding and complex, longing to connect.
The top part of the thistle is prickly and the stem, thorny. But if you dig your fingers into the dirt around the base of the stem and grab the first part of the root, there are no thorns. You can pinch the root and pull the whole thing out, and if you're lucky, the root will lead you to the next thistle.




Becca Stevens suggests that women are like these thistles...and no matter how thorny you get on the outside, on the inside we are smooth. We are winding and complex, longing to connect.

Becca founded the Magdalene House in Nashville (which inspired sister houses in other states), as well as Thistle Farms and Thistle Stop Cafe and Shared Trade. Her books Snake Oil and The Way of Tea and Justice are life changing. I can't get over it.

I ordered some of Thistle Farms' natural bug spray - which smells AWESOME - and took it with me to my Women's Group on Tuesday morning. We passed around the spray before we did our breathing time, and maybe because there are bugs in our meeting room, and we talked about the thistle weed.



We talked about feeling thorny on the outside, when our insides are smooth. Some of us in Group live on the street, some live indoors, some have extra lake houses. Some of us are battling addictions, some domestic violence situations, some sit in long lines at carpool. All of us are familiar with a System that doesn't always Serve. We get together once a week to remember that we are the same and say the word LOVE as much as possible within the hour. For that little bit of time, we can be smooth and connected. We are the Thistle, winding and complex, longing to connect.




Later this summer we hope to paint a mural around our meeting room walls with thistle leaves intertwined, like our very roots are hugging. Along with George Ella Lyon and Jan Richardson, we will hold each others' roots, remembering where we are from, holding hands as we get ready to see what we will become...because Love Heals Every Body, even if you are a Thistle, winding and complex, longing to connect.


I Have a Pouch Fairy

I have a pouch fairy who leaves empty, sticky CapriSun drink pouches and empty GoGo Squeeze pouches (with or without tops) on my mailbox. 
I love her.



I add her flattened pouches to my own and store them in empty bulk snack containers until they are full.
Then I bag them, put them in an envelope or box, print out a free shipping label from Terracycle and drop them by UPS.

You can do this too!
Or I will do it for you!  


Be a Pouch Fairy and drop your empty pouches on my mailbox or in my driveway!
(CapriSun, Honest Kid, GoGo Squeeze, Ella's Kitchen and Earth's Best are currently the pouches Terracycle is recycling - AMONG OTHER "WASTE". Check it out!!!)

Love the earth, y'all. Teach your kids.

One Hour

One hour, 60 minutes, 3,600 seconds.

Nathan Foster, of Renovare and The Making of an Ordinary Saint, was confused by the act of "submission" and so, decided to study it. He asked his 9yo daughter and 5yo son, if they could have an afternoon with him, what would they want to do?
He asked himself, can I truly turn myself "off" and do what my kids want to do for a certain amount of time, within a reasonable budget? Like, NOT check his phone, double up on errands that serve him too, add in a treat that would ease his submission-ing discomfort, etc.
He did it. It was hard. (His afternoon involved a trip to Chuck E Cheese, among other things. Bless...)

So I thought, what about an hour???

Could I do an hour with each child, ONLY what they wanted, within a budget?
I asked all three of them if they could have an hour with me, what would they want to do? Then I asked them to think about it for a day.

Corinne wanted to go first. I set a timer on my phone and Henry and Svea pulled up a chair to watch.
Corinne wanted me to get IN the pool with her and not only STAY in the pool but PLAY at whatever she said.
Henry was delighted and grabbed my phone to take pictures. Mom was going to PLAY! Svea got in the pool with us.
The only time I got out of the pool was to make her some orange juice (it was past 10am so she had already had a Fanta).



Henry eventually got in too, and Corinne forgot that she was only allowed to be in charge of what she and I did, not what Henry and Svea were doing. Her siblings may or may not have mentioned that "she was trying to boss everyone in the world like Donald Trump." Ha.

Svea had pity on me and checked the timer several times as I engaged in jump-off-the-pool-wall-dance-routines, bounced, splashed and swam back and forth in the shallow end.
The hour ended. I survived. It was hard. (There was no Chuck E Cheese even mentioned.)



Svea was next.
She wanted me and her to go to Hobby Lobby and buy materials to create something! With styrofoam heads! And paint! And feather boas! All for under $20!
So we did. We listened to the radio and sang loudly (maybe with hand motions) with the windows down.
The hour ended. I survived. It was hard. (Wouldn't you know that Chuck E Cheese is next door to Hobby Lobby??)



I had to lie down on the couch for a few minutes before Henry's turn.

Then we went to another store to hunt out Superhero items (costumes, posters, accessories, sheets, cups - there are no rules, people.)

In under $20, we found two posters for his room, a blank poster, 3 canvas boards, paint and brushes. The superhero hour was full. There was no radio played in the car and we used the air conditioner. Quiet and cool, y'all. Room for all his thoughts...
The hour ended. I survived. It was hard. (There are no superheroes at Chuck E Cheese.)



I was disappointed how hard it was for me to focus that long on one child. I'm surprised at how quickly I wanted to check my messages or double up an errand (since we are right here by Whole Foods, let's just run in and grab some essential oils, eh?)

I want to work on this, though. I don't want it to be so intentional and hard. WHAT IF I naturally spent time with them, individually and together?  Is that what you call parenting?
I'll keep working on it. Promise, guys.

Thursday, June 09, 2016

Not Even 40!

Y'ALL.

I'm not even 40 years old.
But my visionary husband and my loyal sister got together and gathered loving souls to send me wishes, poems, pictures, videos, flowers, cards and amazingness for the 40 days UNTIL I turn 40.

Tonight was Yoga in Railroad Park with a picnic to follow.
Ah-Maz-Ing.

I am so filled with gratitude that my insides are singing.



There must have been 100 yogis there practicing and listening to Synovia (??) on her microphone sponsored by BCBS to help us all take a hot minute to check in with our bodies!

This is me in a Tree with a Birthday Crown!


Isabel gave me a few choice henna tattoos beforehand!!! 


Synovia had these awesome prompts like, "Reach up into your LIFE!"  and, "Look behind you at all the things you want to avoid." and, "Shake your head left and right and say NO to all that you don't want to let in."

Yes, people.



 If you are afraid of turning 40 and want to act like it hasn't been coming all along then WAH WAH YOU BABY this is my face for you:



If you want to get down to the Nitty-Gritty about all that is in front of you, then this is my face for you:


Bring it sisters (and brothers).
Let's do this.
Every day we are getting there.
Let's write this story, celebrate with some yoga and a picnic and do this thing.

Happy birthday to ALL of you!!!!

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Ballons 2016!!


The balloons flew again this year!!

I kept my cool in front of the crowds (and my perpetually embarrassed tweens), but deep down I was feeling how this little girl was expressing herself:





I was definitely that creepy lady taking pictures of children I did not know. Nice.

Then I asked some cousins how they felt:

The cousins over four feet tall were looking at their phones and couldn't really talk to me about the wonder of it all.



Look Pops! There was even a black balloon with a Skull and Crossbones flag! Just like your old gang!


I've been in a bit of a slump lately, so it was beautiful to see something lain flat on the ground, stretched and smoothed out, and lovingly urged to inflate with the warm air and fans that workers adjusted and angled just right. With that team, that Village, around the flattened balloon, time after time, we watched air go in, wrinkles disappear...and then FLIGHT.




  
Even Tweety and Sylvester took flight!



The next morning, the balloons came back. They flew in over our morning coffee and sleepy eyes:


They came in over our right shoulders and flew past the bird houses...


...Wings and feathers, air and wind...


As Emily Dickinson noted, "Hope is the thing with feathers, that perches in the soul, and sings a song without the words and never stops at all."

Thank you, Balloons, for coming every year and reminding us to take flight, to stay up, to keep moving, to claim hope.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

That Time My Husband Had Thyroid Cancer.




Dear Thyroid Cancer,

I search for the blessing in your curse.
You have surprised me in so many ways...next time you are totally NOT invited to my birthday party.

Your diagnosis pulled the blanket back I was using to cover up all the things I did not want to address in my marriage. For that I am reluctantly grateful.
Glennon Doyle Melton and Elizabeth Gilbert remind us that we don't have to "almost die" in order to change things that don't serve...
I wish my husband and I had not had to endure surgery, fear, the Google in the middle of the night, tension, anxiety, more fear, over planning, etc.......in order to change some things (like me speaking up about the things I needed and ways I wanted to care for him).
Srsly, why couldn't we just schedule that on a Monday after cup-of-coffee #2?

Instead we had to have a cough, x-ray, CAT scan, needle biopsy, radioactive iodine pill, and then quarantine.
I'm just gonna say it: you [cancer] are inconvenient, annoying and expensive.
Please go away. Forever.
Love,
Me



Dear Juliette,
I totally get your response to Romeo now!!!!!!
I used to think you were a silly teenager in love. But when the one you love may die, everything in you wants to die too.
I get it: I am a teenager in love, too.
Love is tragic and dear, IKR?
Love,
Me




Dear Meladrama,
How long am I allowed to use your power?
When my husband first learned of his required quarantine (#jealous) my brain went to crazy places.
Instead of being prepared and supportive, I couldn't get a song out of my head: El Muelle de San Blas by Mana.
I ordered a swing frame to plant in our side yard; it overlooks our driveway. I became the widow in the song...waiting in that swing until my husband came home. I would wait until my long gray hair joined the crawling Starlight Jasmine that grows up the swing's frame. Hello, Meh-lah-drah-mah.
Sniff...gag.
(Get it??? It's like Psych (Sike) Dab, but Sniff Gag?? Ha ha 5th grade humor!!)





Sunday, April 03, 2016

DNR-JTI: Take 6, Spring Break 2016

(DNR-JTI = Do Not Respond - Just Take It)



Dear Camping,
You are like that rhyme, "There was a little girl, who had a little curl..."
But with you, it goes like this:

Camping's like a little girl, who had a little curl, 
right in the middle of her forehead.
When you are good, you are very very good, 
and when you are bad, you are horrid.



In our spiral to cliche-dom, we took our 2.54 children and camper to Washington, D.C. for an educational Spring Break. To save money on lodging, we bought expensive coolers. We are a logical and balanced people.

Thanks for the lessons, Camping Experience. DNR-JTI.
Love,
Me


Dear Henry,
First born, it is my job to embarrass you.
DNR-JTI.
Your dad and I were really nervous about how you and your sisters would behave in a guided tour of the Capitol (thanks to Senator Shelby and his staffer Bethany!)
We lectured and bribed as good parents do for days before our tour.
Then on the day of, you turned to your sisters and said, "Serious Up!" which really said it all.
Thanks for that phrase, Boo.
Love,
Me



Dear Svea,
You do not love camping, but you love learning, and you really had a lot to balance this trip. Thanks for sticking with it and (mostly) staying positive. You leave a trail of wonder and glitter everywhere you go, and you influence people.
Like when we walked out of the Capitol and you yelled at Dad, "Thank you Dad! That was awesome!" and other people turned to look at you and then looked at each other and smiled.
Your beauty is contagious.
DNR-JTI.
(I tried to tell you this earlier this evening and you cut me off and said, "Mom, you are such a therapist." I exhaust your inner tween...which is kinda my job.)
Love,
Me



Dear Corinne,
I seriously think we could take you anywhere. You are great at camping and great in public. Your questions for Capitol Staffers are refreshing and hilarious (like, "What is THIS button for?)
The most striking was in the Holocaust Museum when you loudly asked Dad, "What is that BACON smell?" That question was wrong on so many levels...
You are the most unpredictable joy to us.
DNR-JTI.
Love,
Me



Dear Travel Ages 12, 10, 5yo,

You are a constant game of common sense.
For instance, here are our daily battles:
- How to share a sidewalk
- How to navigate a crowd
- How to pack a sensible, lightweight day pack
- How to swipe a Metro card, read a map, and time your dismount from a train or escalator
- How to time how much water you drink with when bathrooms are available
- How long to leave pancakes wrapped in foil on the fire to reheat them and not burn them
- How to negotiate having one of your siblings be your servant for the day
You get where I'm going.
All I have to say is YOU'RE WELCOME future Service Learning Leaders.
DNR-JTI.
Love,
Me