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.

Dear Henry,
First born, it is my job to embarrass you.
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.

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.
(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.)

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.

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.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

DNR-JTI: Take 5

(Do Not Respond - Just Take It)

Dear Travel,
How much of you, in general, is about learning to wait? Waiting for the plane, the bus, the train? Waiting on the food, the line, the people in front of you? Waiting to wait? Truly, Travel, you are a good reminder that it is hard to wait...and waiting is a skill we can cultivate. I'll get right on that...

Dear First Born Child,
If you think the best insulting response is to say, "Your Mom" to everything that comes out of your siblings' mouths, I have some news: IT'S NOT.
When you say, "Your Mom" you are, in fact, talking about ME. So stop.
And the "Yo Mama" jokes are so old too. Move on, 6th grader.

Dear Person In Front Of Me At The Buffet Line,
What is taking so long? One of each and move forward.

Dear Person Behind Me In The Buffet Line,
Chill. I'm deciding. I know I'm a hypocrite. I am large. I contain multitudes. (Thanks, Walt Whitman).

Dear Decaf Coffee,
I have tried to love you for the "flavor." But I am breaking up with you. You do nothing for me. And I am in a phase. A phase that appreciates the treat of caffeine.
I'll get over it, but for now, SEE YA.

Dear Future Tattoo,
I just can't decide!!!
But there is something in me that wants to be marked, scarred, decorated - permanently.
When that happens, I will say Thank You.

Dear Man Praying At The Column,
I tried not to stare at you, because reverence can be so personal. But I was captivated by your murmuring and loved it so much when your cell phone rang and you quietly took it out of your pocket, silenced it, then put it back in your pocket to continue your prayer.
I tell my children: Humans Over Screens, but you reminded us that the Divine comes even before the Humans.
Thank you. DNR, JTI.

Dear Prayer,
Please work. So many of us are counting on you.

DNR - JTI, y'all.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Moises: Compassion International

Here is the letter I wrote to you, Moises:

Dear Moises,

I hope that you are well today!  I am so glad that a dentist came to your village and talked to y'all about brushing your teeth.

Do you still love soccer?
And cars?
How is your family doing?
When you come to the Community Center, what is your favorite thing to do?

My Henry still plays soccer, just like you.
My Svea and Corinne don't play soccer but love stickers (so here are some stickers for you).
I read that it is cold where you are, but in our neighborhood it is usually hot. So hot that we don't wear sweaters or hats. The sweater in your picture looks very warm.

Please know that between letters, we pray for you and hope you laugh everyday and play and run and know that you are loved.

More soon,

Here is the letter that I DID NOT WRITE, BUT LIVES IN MY HEAD:

Dear Moises,

I am sorry that I am such a terrible Pen Pal.
When everyone at the Community Center in Bolivia gets a letter from his/her sponsor and you don't, I am so so so sorry. I am paralyzed at the concept.
I love writing you; I hate WHY I am writing you.

I hate that a world exists where some children's faces are on a bulletin board, a web site and a radio station looking for sponsors from people whose children will never know true need.
That gap is disheartening and preventable.
Humans are so difficult.

The faces on this particular display could very easily have been my own:

I am sorry that I tried to send you gifts and that is not possible with the Compassion International agreement. I am glad that I can send you stickers.
I feel thankful for automatic debits so that you can receive our financial gift each month ($38) to hopefully boost your local economy and not rely on my forgetful, guilty and over-everything nature.

Hooray for a dentist coming to your Center!
I would like to know how many teeth you have lost, does your culture have a Tooth Fairy, what you thought of the toothpaste flavor, and what your Mom has to say to get you to brush your teeth at night. I struggle with that.

Hooray for soccer!
Who is you favorite team?
Do you like to score or assist?
Have you ever been the Goal Keeper?

Do you ever feel like you have had to grow up too soon?
Are you tired of the cold?
Will we ever be more than donor/recipient?

I wonder if you sleep on your back or your you prefer spicy foods or sweets...what do you like to read...what is your favorite expression when you score a goal...

Again, I am sorry that I am lame in my letter-writing consistency.
Please know we love you from here to there, from up to down, and all over the soccer field.

Thank you Compassion International,
Moises' Sponsor,

Saturday, January 02, 2016

Re-blogging Glennon - for the Momastery love...

I don’t want a new, better life in 2016. I just want new eyes to see that my life is already staggeringly beautiful. Tweet: I don’t want a new, better life in 2016. I just want new eyes to see that my life is already beautiful. @momastery
I don’t want to be a better mom in 2016. I just want new eyes to see that the miracle is not good better best — the miracle is that these people are mine and I am theirs. Full stop.
And I don’t want to be a BETTER ME in 2016. Screw that. I don’t want to chase after some imaginary more fabulous version of myself. I AM what the people I love need. I already AM. And when we are always BECOMING we have no room to BE. So I’m done striving. I’m fine, thanks. I’m showing up to love my people and you and the world this year JUST AS I AM.
Self-improvement is just another hiding place. DON’T TRY TO BE BETTER. JUST NOTICE THAT IT’S ALL GOOD ENOUGH ALREADY.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Sitting In The Weird, With Brene Brown's Cool-aid, Re-Inventing Every Year.

A friend who recently became a parent asked me some questions the other day:

As Christmas approaches, we are having discussions about what to do about Santa. 
I don't love the idea of him. Though, I do love the idea of St. Nicholas. I don't want to squelch magic and imagination in my kid, and I don't want him to feel left out. I also don't ever want to lie to him and hate the idea of good=presents, bad=nothing. There's also the whole point of privilege of Santa and children whom he doesn't visit because they are poor...what do you do in order to help yourselves think through this process. Care to share?

So I wrote her back:

I am writing you right now.
And I am distracted by how long it took me to reply to this as I have thought of it every day and felt Not Ready. I am in the grips of "doing it all wrong" so to have you ask me specifics feels particularly vulnerable and on point. I do not enjoy the hype of Christmas as much as I do not enjoy Halloween.
For the first years with Henry and Svea I could blame it on living in Indiana since we traveled during the holidays and "reindeer food" and "Christmas Morning" just looked different. Then we joined a church and Christmas looked like "why is Daddy never home". Ouch. Then I started enjoying the Advent preparation and Xmas Eve services which meant negotiating with tired children and just throwing the towel in at the end of the night, hoping to stay up long enough to tell Brian I was proud of him.
This year, I have no idea what it will look like.
My Henry (11yo) loves Target. He loves shopping. He is methodical and meticulous. When he walks into Target, he is overcome with the smell of newness. This is how we taught him about Greed. Greed is how you feel when you enter Target and want to live there.
At this point, today, I am trying to teach Henry how to personify Christmas (as Santa, St. Nicholas, Etc.). I want him to be SO EXCITED about Jesus' birth that he wants to buy gifts for OTHER PEOPLE. Which is totally scandalous for a greedy 11yo. He will tell me I am so weird and to please not walk next to him and why am I wearing black pants that are normal.
Svea, my 10yo, has made presents for everyone and wrapped them while singing lullabies into the process and does not understand the concept of greed. She's using her artwork from school as gifts and recycling materials for wrapping paper...and hoping for more time watching tweeny shows on Disney Channel.
Corinne, 5yo, thinks Christmas is about performing with microphones and costumes and altars and stages and why is everyone NOT looking at her?????

(do you see why I struggle with "doing it all wrong"?)
All I have to say to you, dear friend, is that I have no idea. I re-invent every year based on sleep deprivation, nutrition, anger, love, tradition, what I need to "get over" personally and what I need to ask those around me to "get over." 
In the meantime - I want you to hear this - YOU CAN DO THIS AND ONLY YOU KNOW HOW.
Is this ever so unhelpful?

And she wrote me back:
I appreciate your taking the time to answer me, though, despite your feelings of doing it all wrong and embracing your vulnerability. I appreciate your vulnerability more than you know. Maybe I've drunk too much of the Brene Brown cool-aid, but I continue to believe it is the only way we can truly CONNECT to one another.
“Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.” - So says Brene. I think I agree.
I do not enjoy Christmas. Hence, my crisis of not wanting to influence my son with such feelings unnecessarily. (Though, I'm aware he is too young for that this year. He is merely content to play with an empty water jug, look at himself in the mirror, and make ridiculous pterodactyl noises). I do not enjoy obligatory gift giving (though, I love giving gifts when I am not expected to do so). I do not enjoy pressure of getting everyone together because WE JUST HAVE TO (though, I do enjoy stress free quality time with those I hold dear and even those I don't yet).
In my own vulnerability, I think my questions about Christmas stem from larger questions of purpose and meaning that are brought on from many different facets of this phase of life. I found this article about why Krista Tippett is not doing Christmas this year and it was helpful.
So, in the meantime while I sit in the weird, I find the prospect of bread baking and potential pottery classes grounding.
Peace, love, and advent blessings (or something).

I read the Krista Tippett article and love her final paragraph:
As I said, we need each other. And that impulse, surely, is deep in the original heart even of the most secular things like Santa Claus and surrounding your home with lights: examining what we are to each other and experiencing that, sometimes when we do this, something transcendent happens.

For now, for today, I will "examine what we are to each other" and stay present with that...and believe that something transcendent will the form of clarity and connection and the crazy story of a baby in a manger...