Thursday, October 29, 2015

Who You Are When No One's Looking: The Epilogue

Happy day here since Ainsley was awarded the school's Character Award for her grade. Awards and recognition aren't what make me crazy about this girl, but I'm so happy that she was honored. She wanted this bad last year which made today all the sweeter. 

Here's the post from June that tells the sweet story of the power in celebrating the success in others.

Who You Are When No One is Looking 

Monday, October 19, 2015

Genevieve Georget: Isn't She Lovely?

You all know how finding wonderfully crafted sentences can make my entire day and how reading beautifully chosen cadence weaves this lovely tapestry before me. It's something I want to wrap around my shoulders while I sip my tea. Well that happened last week with my new friend Genevieve Georget. Okay, we're not exactly friends nor have we ever met or had any kind of correspondence, but she feels like a friend to me. I immediately wanted to share her with all of you.

The post that introduced me to her was one she had originally published a few years ago, but recently shared again on Facebook. I had never heard of her before, but found her words in my newsfeed and I liked her immediately. So did a whole bunch of other in tens of millions of people! Maybe I don't really need to make an introduction after all since you've likely already heard of her and feel like you have already been introduced. I read that she, a successful wedding photographer in Ottawa, just wanted to dip her toe into writing again and then, much to her great surprise, the words she shared took rocket speed flight.  Her post kind of broke Facebook for a few days. The Zuckerberg people actually contacted her and asked if she was a celebrity pretending to be someone else. The explosive growth of her page made no sense to them because regular people don't typically garner that kind of attention in one week. Though she's not a celebrity, there's nothing regular at all about this gem of a girl or her gorgeous gift with words.

Her post was an essay about a visit to Starbucks that was everything routine and yet so much more. She wrote of how her dear barista called her life golden when she heard she and her husband were on their way to Italy for a getaway. And it wasn't spoken with any malicious intent or sarcastic banter, the girl really thought Genevieve's life deserved a gold star. She wrote of how she greeted this girl for her daily coffee in great clothes on her way to an exciting and fulfilling job, and how on that particular day on her way to a European vacation, her life did seem pretty sparkly.
"This is what she saw. Therefore, this is what she knew."

"And truth be told, there is darkness in this kind of knowledge. Especially now, when so many of our connections happen only five minutes at a time…fully filtered and perfectly hash tagged. In our defense though, it’s not entirely our fault. That battle we’re fighting…those rough days were having…they don’t tend to translate very well when you have twenty people in line behind you for coffee or a hundred and forty characters to spell out your day."

We don't show most people our battle scars and wounds, certainly not when we are still raw and healing. It's become a bit trendy to share vulnerabilities or struggles with the world, but only once they are tidied up and mended. Though still valuable, this type of sharing can feel more akin to a successful spot removal tutorial rather than a compelling narrative with the spill still in full view.. Rare is the public post that highlights the unedited version of us where we're still blotting things up. Yet there's something so lovely about this type of unveiling where we let others in as we're still tidying up. 

But Genevieve let us see her. She gathered her list of real time loss, fears, and insecurities and typed it all out for everyone to see. She went on to share the wisdom she's gathered through reflection on the less glistening parts of herself. How she's learning that these are actually the golden parts, the shiniest parts after all. And how even when she doesn't have it all figured out, she's grateful for the entire picture of her life, not just the polished parts.

"I do know one thing for sure; that even with all of my frailty…all of my fears…and all my faults…none of those things make my life any less golden.

Scars tell stories. Scars mean survival. Scars mean you showed up for the fight instead of running from it.

And we’ve all got them…even the sweet girl serving my coffee. She’s fighting her own battle…defending her own frontline…struggling in her own way. And maybe it’s not about collecting gold stars for the perceived reality we give the world on Facebook…but it’s about the purple hearts we get for living bravely among the real one.

Because life requires guts…it requires bravery…and it requires vulnerability."

So I don't really know Genevieve Georget, but I sure find her lovely. I like her so much already and would love to sit across from her with a steaming cup and open heart.  Her words feel like a soft blanket on a chilly day. Her voice makes me feel like she's pulled up a chair next to me and whispered, "Me too." I love that her unfiltered words were the ones the world carried into viral stratospheres. The internet is full of crazy, and sometimes it's impossible to understand why certain phenomenons and tidbits are so crowd-pleasing. But this one I understand and it encourages me greatly. This lovely girl was simply herself in bold braveness and half of the sky took notice and said, "Yes, more please!" 

I love how it baffled Facebook and they just couldn't imagine why millions of people were sharing her post if she was just one of us. But that's precisely why her words took flight. When she told us about her battles and wounds and we got to see that she is still standing, it inspired the bravery in all of us to stay in the ring and fight the good fight. So I'll keep leaning in to listen to the words she shares and will keep writing and sharing. I'll share with even more bravery from my own little perch because of the shiny trail she's blazed before me. 

Carry on, lovely. 

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Be my Guest

I'm honored to be guest posting today on a friend and fellow For the Love Launch Team Member's blog, Unveiled and Revealed. 

Come on over by clicking the link above. I wrote this post two years ago but it easily could have been two days ago. Goodness the times goes quickly, but I was there for each minute. I was definitely there.

Little Things the Heart Finds

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Birthdays in the great Beyond

Happy Birthday, mom!

Today you would be 77. I think you would have liked that number, liked the way it sounded though it would have surprised you that you were actually "that old". But instead of celebrating here with us, you are in heaven. It's only your second birthday there so that must make you feel a little bit younger. The whole "renewed body" trade-in, must add tremendously to one's youthful glow. You also have a few new friends there to celebrate with this year. Judy's there now which is still so impossible to believe. I'll bet you were so surprised to see her arrive in mid-June, as we were to see her leave the party here. But I'm equally sure you have had a big time catching up and showing her around the place. We're fine here. We really are. We miss you terribly and sometimes, even still, I think to call you to see how you are. Fortunately I stop myself before dialing the phone since I already know how you are. New, restored, healed, whole.

I'm really glad I don't complete those calls since the ringing phone would only send dad racing for it before it had a chance to ring the second time. Remember how he used to do that? How you would tease him that it was not a footrace to put the receiver to his ear before it had a chance to ring more than once. He still loves the phone more than anyone else I know, and that's a good thing. Just means he's well connected to lots of loving people and dear friends. He's doing fine. He really is. You'd be so proud of him. We sure are.

The girls and I talk about you a lot. I'm making sure they know you, mom. I promised myself I would, and I am. I'll turn anything into an opportunity for them to learn a little more about you. "You know who loved chocolate cake?" "Granny did," I tell them. Or we'll be making a plan for a vacation and I'll tell them about how you loved to travel and used to count down the days and carefully laid out things to pack a week before you left. They're getting to know you, even still. Sometimes they'll bring up facts about you before I have the chance to. Emerson will say, "Granny loved to sing," and I'll let her know how right she is. She loves to sing, too. Maybe the gift of a beautiful voice really does skip a generation and she's the recipient of your talent once removed. She loves to travel too, that girl. She definitely has the wanderlust you and I shared. Remember when she was brand new and you came to visit us in Minnesota? It was your birthday. It was your 67th birthday ten years ago today.

We went out to lunch to celebrate and I reluctantly left that two and a half month old baby with my friend Jean so we could go to Enjoy for lunch. I remember not being entirely engaged sitting across the table from you. I was anxious without Emerson right on my lap as she had been for the sixty plus consecutive days before. I remember how the waitress asked if we wanted dessert and in my mind I was hoping you would say no.  I wanted to go home, to get back to her. But you said yes and we sat there longer than I wanted to. I wish I would have savored our time. I wish I would have been fully present and realized baby girl was more than fine at home with Jean---that you would not be fine for much longer. That soon you wouldn't know how to order dessert, or walk alone, or know just exactly who I was. I'm sorry about that. About all of it. Sorry that I was distracted that day, sorry that you got sick. I really am. I have learned so much since then though. Truly. I now sit and savor every moment.

I'm learning that there's nothing more important than being fully present right where I am. I get the brevity of this life. I kind of wish I didn't, but I do, and I am grateful for that.

I wish you such a Happy Birthday. A day of celebration and time to linger at the table with loved ones surrounding you who are fully engaged in the celebration. Loved ones who have no concerns about what's going on away from that table. Order dessert, two even! Enjoy it all, savor it all, I'll sit with you as long as you like when I get there.

Friday, October 9, 2015

"In Every Gardener there is a Child who Believes." Robert Brault

Ainsley has wanted a garden for a long time. I have been reluctant to oblige her because, Texas. We live on the surface of the sun. I wasn't entirely sure that anything left outside under the dirt could actually survive here. Also? I wasn't a good gardener in the Midwest even with its rich dark soil and plentiful rains,  nothing I planted there grew terribly well there either.  But, Dirk, at long last gave in to baby girl's pleas and prepped a spot in our front flower bed for her to plant her seeds.

She's been collecting seeds for months. I mean lots of seeds. She carefully scraped seeds off of strawberries and out of cucumbers, apples, and watermelon. She kept them in a basket in the windowsill where I assumed they were shriveling up into useless crumbs. But when it was time to sow them she carried them out to the garden like so many nuggets of gold and planted them carefully into the soil. She has since tended to them with daily watering and loving care and has every confidence that she'll grow blossoming apple trees and patches of hearty melons. The plot is  18x24" mind you, but the girl has faith that this is just a beginning, and she can transplant them when they begin to grow.

Her faith is so beautiful and inspiring to me. She believes without a doubt that she will reap a beautiful harvest for all that she has sown. May it ever be.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015


Timehop Tuesday
This post was originally published in June of 2013

The other day little Ainsley's face was awash with fresh tears and she was calling out to me. When I asked what the matter was, she could barely speak the words through heavy sniffles and sighs. But when she finally caught her breath this is what she said: "When I'm in second grade I'm going to have to learn about silent "E"s". We should take note that she will be in the second grade in no fewer than three years.

Listen. I know silent "E"s don't scare everyone. I know silent "E"s may be some people's favorite. But for this little moment in time, my baby is afraid of their looming nearness. In just 1,095 days she'll be chased down by the likes of well, like, side, and drone. It is freaking her out. We don't always understand why people are afraid. We certainly don't always understand why they are afraid of what they are afraid of. But all of us, somewhere deep in our inner parts, know what it is to be scared. And we can extend the hand of grace and meet people where they are in their battle with fear.

It might be tempting for another mom to hold her tongue and resist saying, "Are you serious right now? You are a sobbing hot mess over a silent E. A silent E you will probably not have to even talk about for a thousand more sleeps!!?" But that's not me. I blow it in other ways, I'm reasonably sure. But empathy for a fearful heart is where I Rock the Casbah. I've.been.there. And I just never want to judge a frightened heart. I also don't want to give fear titanic power over anyone, least of all one of my children. Because there's something else we all have in common in our fear, our battle, our struggle. We just want one moment of validation. We want someone to say that they understand that life is scary sometimes and remind us that we know the dragon slayer--the fear conqueror. That never, not for one instant, are we alone in our fear. It doesn't always mean the fear disappears instantly but it does mean we are not alone in it, and that my friends, is very good news.

Now, some two and a half years later, silent "E"s are a regular and welcome part of Ainsley's life. I don't remember any notable trauma when they were introduced into her world and she appears none the worse for wear. Yet another example that our "what if" projections on to the future are almost always more terrifying than the real thing. 

Monday, October 5, 2015

Tower of Texas

We had the most fun yesterday. We piled the girls into the car and drove to check out a newly refurbished park in Downtown San Antonio. The  HemisFair park has been around since the 1960s when it was built as an attraction at the World's Fair. Though I'm sure it was state of the art for 1968, it was desperately in need a makeover. The designers did a phenomenal job bringing it up to date with creative and beautiful touches this year.

There are fantastic structures for kids of all ages.

 And super fun swings in which you lie down.

And spinny seats to rotate kids into vertigo-esque oblivion. 

Once both girls were good and dizzy, we made our way to San Antonio's tallest structure which is right next to the park. Why not take the wobbly kneed young ones into the tallest building in the city when their center of gravity is at large? We're clever parents, obviously.

The tower,  which was built as the theme structure for the 1968 World's Fair remains the tallest building in the city. In true Texas form, it's called the Tower of the Americas because it's in Texas. I mean, 'merica, baby! The state pride of native Texans continues to both amuse and baffle me. But mostly it's amusing and inspiring to find so many people downright smitten with their homeland.

In truth, we learned that there was a contest held to name the structure in which it was suggested that submitted names be original and continue to live on as a tribute to the community of nations in the Western Hemisphere. But I prefer my version that a bunch of natives named it for "The Americas" because it is here on their beloved homeland which they believe should be its own nation anyway. Whatever the story behind its namesake, this impressive spire is 750 feet tall, has a wonderful observation deck, and offered a beautiful view of downtown and beyond. Best part? It's breezy up there. As in cool winds on a warm October afternoon in Texas blow wild and free up in the sky. Experiencing that bit of goodness was worth the price of admission and then some.

I love this picture of the girls showing how relaxed they were high above the earth while Dirk kept a death grip on them just in case. Sure, it was fully enclosed with steel encasements, but there's something that made him want to hold them with his own hand all the same. They might have still been dizzy, after all.