The Submission

Sorry by bigjom

In the past month or so, lots has changed around here, which is not a bad thing, it’s a good thing. Good things, more accurately, more good things are on the horizon for us I think.  Which is real hopeful, since lately life has been a bit more stressful and stretched taut than my husband or I would like to admit.

And one of those good things for me personally has been the hope of having one of my pieces of writing published.

If any of you follow my Facebook posts, you know that I one of my pieces had recently been accepted for publication.  Hooray! I thought.  Finally! I thought.

Turns out that the publication was not able to get enough backers and advertisers to support the magazine, so the December issue (the one in which my piece would appear) and all issues after it will not be published.

Rats! I thought when I heard that news this morning.

But I’ve now come to the conclusion that this is not a bad thing.  Which is crazy to say for someone who loves to write. For someone who longs to be published.  Yes, crazy, I would have said oh, about six months ago.

But now, eh, just an inconvenience and a let down, but really: no biggie.  Not a big deal.  At all.

Sure I’d like to be published and people to read my words and be moved and touched by them, but maybe it isn’t my time yet.  Maybe it’s time to (finally) trust God and time to (finally) let go of my need to control every aspect of my life.  The control thing: it’s all an illusion anyway.  The moment I think I have something or someone figured out, poof! it all changes and everything is entirely turned on its head.  Or my toddler decides overnight literally overnight that a certain pair of shoes are now deemed unacceptable.  How in the world can you control that?

But I digress.  The point (yes, there is one!) is that this is a good thing, this not being published.  This makes me slow down.  This makes me less ego-driven.  This makes me again, trust God instead of doing the work myself and the boldly asking him to bless it.  How far I’ve come, but how far, far, I still need to go in terms of this whole trusting, not-being-in-control thing.  The good news is I have the rest of my whole life to try and figure out how to let the bird of control out of my hand and be free, instead of almost crushing it’s wings before it tries to fly.  And that learning can’t come soon enough.

So, without further adieu, here is the piece! A cleaned up (mostly) edited version any way.  Feel free to share, and I’d love to hear if you like it/don’t like it.  Truly.

Sister

My younger sister has taught me a thing or two about life.  In between the fights over which boy band was better, what celebrity is doing what crazy thing with their hair, and my constant nagging (I call it educating), somewhere along there she grew up.

And got married.

And most recently, had a baby.

And this thing, this my-sister-is-having-a-baby, this my-sister-has-had-a-baby thing has thrown me for a loop.  As in, thrown me for a giant loop so large I’m not even sure I’m on the same racetrack anymore.

She’s more or less figured out the motherhood dance.

In under six months.

Like her, I know how hard it is to carry, worry, and then give birth to something so small and yet feel as if you are carrying the weight of the world, of all of humanity in your hands.  Down to my bones I understand that; we now have that in common.

But she, the younger (some days wiser but you didn’t hear me say that) sister, has managed the new parenting role different, better than me.

Everyone can hold the baby and love the baby unlike my new mother experience.

And also, she’s not holed up inside her house the first six weeks as if she were living with a contagious virus that means she’s housebound, on constant lock-down armed with burp rags and Lysol.

In short, she’s learned from my mistakes, and has also managed to learn what she needs in order to care for herself and her needs.

She needs community.

And I am in awe of this realization.  Of course, is what I thought, after her son was born.  She understood this need already.  Aha, is what I thought, while trying to not mourn the sometimes inept choices I made earlier in my parenting journey.  So you can do it another way, my husband has remarked openly, while I thought I really want to kick him in the shins right now.

Community.  People.  Loved ones.  The piece of the new baby puzzle I hadn’t yet figured out.

The need for (and fear of) community was exactly what I was missing postpartum, and it could of helped a great deal with my early parenting misadventures.

But thankfully, now I see.  Now I see, after awkward invitations sent out and returned, after a few weekends of more than just chores and family time, after a couple of times just hanging out with friends, now I see that.  I see what the big deal is now, and how important community is.  Community saves us.  Some of us, it saves daily.

I won’t say I have it figured out because I don’t.  Just last weekend we tried hanging out with friends more, and it was a success.  But the next day I wasn’t quite sure what to do with myself; it was like a bad hangover and in the end I figured out that I felt like a seesaw that veered to far into the people world and didn’t have proper balance with the alone time.  One thing’s for sure though: there will be a lot more mistakes and learning to find the balance but that’s ok.  I have faith that eventually I will find the balance of it all.

And I have my sister, my younger sister to thank for this.

Lest you think too highly of her, she still talks too much and has absolutely zero control over her maniac dog, but the parenting thing, she has figured out.  For now, at least.  I’m just going to end there, smiling smugly at the thought of the toddler years to come, as I hold all of the overly helpful advise in getting through those years.

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Five Minute Friday, err, Saturday – Look

Hi Again-

I’m doing this 5 minute writing challenge again..and late. We had a date night last night (the last one I can remember in eons, a bit shameful about that fact), but I wanted to “be here, now” with my hubby, to fully engage and do that thing called eye contact and talking about something other than parenting that we so often miss in the midst of raising a family, a child, a life.

So, I’m hoping you understand that sometimes my blog takes a backseat for the life happening in front of my eyes.  But, good news is I don’t stay away for too long; I really just can’t help myself, to be quite honest.  I love writing, and sharing, and you all-all of you, a whooping 7 or so odd of you, so here I am!  Late to the party, but hey, a party nonetheless.

So, a reminder in case you’ve missed it, here’s what this challenge is all about…or, in case maybe you want to play too, some time-

This is a weekly writing “game”  from my bloggy friend Lisa-Jo Baker, who blogs (and writes heart-breakingly, beautiful words and stories) at http://lisajobaker.com/

So, here’s the challenge, should you accept it: you write for 5 minutes, free, like you have no fear or shame or no editor inside your head (all are hard for me)…and then you link up to her blog, and encourage the writer who links up before you.  This last piece is crucial, as we need to encourage others.

Each week is a new word, a new thought starter, and you have 5 minutes to write….and are you ready? go-

Look

Sometimes I look at something, think I understand it, but really all I’m doing is just scanning. Just glazing over, glancing over something, not looking at a friend’s need to connect, or poverty, or another’s need for comfort. I also glaze over my own frivolous nature, my perspective being all askew by the trappings of a middle-income suburban life.

The washing machine not getting all of our clothes clean is not a world-shattering problem.  Most days I rarely see this perspective.

I see, don’t look too closely; into other’s lives, closets, eyes.  I don’t avoid eyes like the plague, but I don’t engage wholly, my family’s eyes a tell-tale sign. I looked up one night to silence, to see his piercing, clear and patient eyes, and her same colored eyes, a mix of fierce intensity and innocence, the look of all children’s eyes: inquisitive, passionate, innocent. And I came to the conclusion: I see, I do not look, I do not immerse enough, I do not understand, I still do not get it.  At least not yet.

When in reality, I need to look beyond my own pretense and the social status and the hype and see the heart. I need to look beyond me.

I need to look, drink deeply into others.  And in this: I’ve only begun to see.


Five Minute Friday – Welcome

Hi There-

I’m doing this 5 minute writing challenge again…and again. Seems I’m sort of a fan of this weekly writing game, you think?

But somehow, in the midst of a Friday that included eating pizza and directing my husband making tutus (oh yes, you read that correctly) while drinking a beer, I lost track of Five Minute Friday, which is odd, because I love this challenge.  And usually I keep up.  Guess the tutus got me all mixed up, because here it is, a day late.  Oh well, such is life some days.

So, a reminder in case you’ve missed it, here’s what this challenge is all about…or, in case maybe you want to play too, some time-

This is a weekly writing “game”  from my bloggy friend Lisa-Jo Baker, who blogs (and writes heart-breakingly, beautiful words and stories) at http://lisajobaker.com/

So, here’s the challenge, should you accept it: you write for 5 minutes, free, like you have no fear or shame or no editor inside your head (both are hard for me)…and then you link up to her blog, and encourage the writer who links up before you.  This last piece is crucial, as we need to encourage others.

Each week is a new word, a new thought starter, and you have 5 minutes to write….and are you ready? go-

Welcome

My child knows the word “welcome” and lives it every day.  She lives it daily, in all of the hugs she gives at least twice daily, coming and going to anyone (and everyone) including the parents and those who take care of her.  I imagine, given the chance, she would even hug the UPS guy.

She lives the word welcome; it’s in her bones.

As a baby-almost-toddler, she learned how to sit by practicing in her purple chair over and over and over again; there wasn’t a day she didn’t practice learning how to sit.  She’d fall over sometimes, perched on the arm of the chair incorrectly, laugh and then roll, but she would keep getting back up and trying to get into the chair perfectly.  She did this same thing with walking, and also with talking.  Certain phrases, on constant repeat in her crib, over and over again until she got the pronunciation, the inflection, down.

In a way, I wonder if this is how she came to welcome.  Is this how she figured out how to make everyone feel warm and at home? To feel loved?  Constant practice? Is it a skill, or is it innate?

And if so, then where did she learn it from?  Did she learn it from me?

I am the last one to be comfortable with people, with open hearts, with the word welcome, especially.  But, like her, I practice, I try.  And most days, the overwhelmingly intense desire to connect over takes the need for perfection, for getting it right.  And so many days, I fall over, I fall off the chair of the arm, of this connecting business, and hopefully, laugh when I mess it up, and try again.

A Better Life

We want a better life for our children, so we work overtime trying to make more money, until hours past sunset, finally at home when they are asleep.

We want a better life for our children, so we enroll them into all the sports and activities we were never good at, and transport them to all the lessons and games, hoping they will be the champions we never were.

We want a better life for our children, so we shove toys and electronics and all things material into their tiny chubby hands, hoping that they will be smarter and more informed than we were.

We want a better life for our children, so we make sure we have ample space, more than enough room than the cramped, small house we grew up in.

We want a better life for our children, so all of hard-earned money goes to new clothes and conveniences, and we forget about the landfills that we’re filling up along the way.

We want a better life for our children, so we teach them the importance of being green, while all we can commit to in regards to being green is just recycling.

We want a better life for our children and want them to be respectful, so we teach them about patience and respect, while they are ignored during dinner while we take a phone call.

We want a better life for our children, so we buy the swing set for the backyard, but sit and stay under the porch while they play because it’s too hot for us to push them on the swing.

We want a better life for our children, so we buy every last trend and little new toy and clothing, so they aren’t made fun of like we were, but we forget to teach them about respect and mercy and hard work.

We want so much more for them, and they, the small they, just want so much more of us.

Root Canal

So yesterday, had some dental work done.  I don’t know about you, but when it comes to all things dentistry, I am a bit jumpy.  Nervy.  Trying to get a cat in a carrier is easier than getting me in a dentist’s office, I think.

Lest you think badly of him, I actually have a wonderful dentist.  So wonderful in fact that he is on the list of one of the better doctors I’ve ever had, and come to think of it, I think it’s because he gets this, my nervy cat reaction around dentistry.

So, yesterday had to have some work done.  Some BIG work, some almost-root-canal work done.  Blech.  So, anyways, I had enough work done (don’t know if I’m comfortable admitting this or not, but here goes) and I am enough uptight in the dentist’s chair that I qualified for the laughing gas.

And I’m not proud, with all the drills they pulled out, I said a non-hesitant yesYES, PLEASE. Side effects? Meh, I’ll worry about that later.

So off we went into the Land of Laughing Gas for the first time, and all I have to say is whoa.  I was all Salvador Dali and melting clocks stretching off mantles, and like “who cares? “ well, actually I was more like “whooooooo carrrreeeeeeeesssssss” if you must know.

In fact, I may or may not have said that to the dentist at some point.

Tingling fingers, tingling toes, my breathing was slow and deep, and they kept moving my chair up and down so much that I felt like I was falling into the center of the earth and it was weird but nice, but I don’t think I had too much gas, why do you ask?

But back to the point, the point was I didn’t care.  And if you know anything about me, I do care.  A lot.  To a fault, almost.  My typical mode of operandi is uptight, major uptightness with a capital U.  And tied in a perfect bow, please.

And not caring, letting go, being this sort of relaxed is not something I am either comfortable with or at ease with.  I, to some degree, have a fear of too much relaxation, mostly because I do enough of it at home.  I mean, if I get any more “relaxed” about my home life, chores might not get done, the laundry will fall behind.  What happens if I relax too much? Do I lose too much productivity?  There is already a shortage of socks in this household, what happens if I don’t do laundry? Nobody wants to see a lawyer sockless, just so you know.

So after yesterday’s experience, I think the answer is yes, I do lose productivity.

And lost productivity is not a bad thing, every now and then.  And after yesterday, I also now think I have a grasp on not caring sometimes. And LaLa land was a wonderful place to visit momentarily; not having a care is a lovely, lovely thing every once in a while.

I usually don’t not have a care in the world, so it was nice for a change.  I was able to not care about the potential need for a root canal, I was able to float on by the thought of drills and noises and all these things, and I turned Mumford and Sons WAY UP LOUD because I was all for tuning things out, and in my opinion, the one thing I am allowed to tune out is dental work.  Love my dentist, yes I do, but don’t like the dental work.  Maybe I should think about that when I’m on eating 20th gummi bear next week.

But tuning out isn’t always an option.  In fact, most times it isn’t an option at all (ever been to a Doctor’s office where you had to turn off your cell phone? Longest wait of your life, FYI.)

But somehow, we think tuning out; zoning out, blasting music up, doing this “x” thing that distracts us is always an option.

Because, most days, that’s how we live our lives: tuned out. Zoned out.  Knocked out on drugs, Facebook, alcohol, people, you name it, we’re addicted to it.

We’re addicted to it, not because we want to be of course, but because the tuning out makes us think we escape the pain.

Why go through and dig up old wounds? Why wonder why people have hurt us or left us, why go through all of that, ever, we wonder while we eat a whole gallon of ice cream without noticing until we’re scrapping the bottom of the carton.

I don’t have any hurts! I am fine! We declare as we make our lives and schedules so busy there is barely time to think beyond planning the next activity.

It’s done, we think, no need to think about it anymore, as we say yes again and again to the drinks with friends without realizing we have been good and drunk for an entire month.

If you get my point, it’s not that any of these things are bad.  A little glass of wine? Not a big deal.  Some ice cream? No one dies from eating ice cream.  Or at least, if they have, I haven’t heard about it.  Activities and plans are generally good, actually.

However, in the bi-polar world we are living in, it’s not all good.  Rare is the person who can do all these things without overindulging in all of it or cutting themselves completely off and away from it.  I can name about 3-5 people who have this whole matronly sounding “moderation” thing under control.  And let’s be honest here: I’m not one of the 3-5 people I can name.

Now, the rest of us that take up the remaining fingers and toes-those of us who eat but who really are hungry for something that’s not food, those of us who drink in order to get drunk, those of us who entertain and over-schedule, well, we’re not doing it really for the sake of our kids as much as it is for the sake of our own avoidance.

We are over-planned, over-busy, over-lazy, over-fed, starving, and yet over-stimulated and under-cared for.  But even through all that, we still have time to think and wonder:

When am I going to be loved?

When am I going to stop hurting?

When am I ever going to be good enough?

When we stop distracting and distancing ourselves from ourselves, then.

When we stop long enough to look around and size up the shabby rafters of our souls, then.

When we stop long enough to feel pain, deep inside where the wounds live, and not be afraid of the rain, then.

When we put trust in Him, and in us, again, then.

And not a moment sooner.

Dear me,

Hi All-

Another writing challenge, this one from a bloggy friend Emily, who writes at http://www.chattingatthesky.com.  This challenge is anew/fun/introspective one…write a letter to yourself at 16.  I know! Cool, huh? Anyways, here are my thoughts to myself–hope all of you enjoy.  Maybe some time soon I find one of these 16-year old self pictures to post? We’ll see…

Dear me-

Dear me! How do you start a letter to your own younger self? And how do you, ahem, not sound really old and uptight like someone like a teenage me  full of big sighs and rolling eyes would actually read?

Not sure.  But what I do have to say helps, and it will help you navigate through the next 15 odd or so years, so I would listen closely.

First, let’s start with the good stuff: you are stronger than you know.

Your soul is stronger than you know.  Sure, that doesn’t sound so cool, I know and no it’s not something you can wear, but let me tell you, though you cannot see it, it’s a big deal.  Your soul is stronger than you think, and it’s stronger, even, than those legs of yours.  Those legs, the ones that have run 5Ks and a marathon and kicked kicks high into the sky; your soul is mightier than those legs.  And like your legs, your soul is about to go deep into a lot of muscle-building from here to 30, so buckle up.  It’s a good ride, but it sure is a bumpy one.

Speaking of buckling up-do it.  Every time you get in a car.  Yes, you are lucky that you have one at 16, very lucky, so cut it with the eye rolling.  But remember that little fact does not make you immune to problems, or, say, car accidents.  Keep it safe.

And while we’re talking about matronly and other boring grown up stuff, by the way–gaining 10lbs will not kill you.  I promise.  Nor will you die of embarrassment.  Something to note for the future.  There are things way worse than gaining a little weight. Waaaay worse.  Compared to some of the other stuff in life, 10lbs is inconsequential.  Keep reality in check, girlfriend.

Also to note: the floor will fall out on you about five times from here to 30-ish.  Yep, about five times.  No, I’m not kidding. And every time, you will think you aren’t strong enough, good enough or that you just can’t.  You just can’t.  You will think this lots.  And you then will realize that you aren’t strong or brave, until you are.

Other things to note about this life, this road ahead:

-Life is good.  Even when it’s bad, life is still good.  So is your God.

-The majority of people are kind and decent.  And kinda fun to hang with too; I know it is easier and far more comfortable to be alone sometimes, but you need community, you need friends and you need people to be silly with.  That last one especially, more than you know.

-Stay away from brown eyeshadow.  Tuck this little tidbit in your pocket for the future.

-Likewise, yellow.  Not a good color on you.  And just say no to those Murphy Brown-ish glasses.  In truth, Murphy Brown didn’t really look all that cute in them either.

-You will be one of the first of your friends that get married.  This is true joy.  And I know! Totally surprised by this too. Just wait until you have children!

-You will feel, most days, like a bright yellow highlighter in a sea of beautiful teal, and that’s ok.  Just be you.  You are wonderful as you are, just as you are.  Even though you may need more silence and stillness than others, even though you do not love ice cream as much as the entire population.  You love much, you love deeply, and you are kind.  And those aren’t bad things.

But the brown eyeshadow: remember, just say no.  But to love and life and the great imperfectness of life-say yes. Say a passionate yes.