Posts Tagged ‘Spirituality’

Mourning

[I wrote this on January 14th, 2016, and have been too much of a coward to post it till now. Here it is exactly as I wrote it.]

She is awoken by the chirp of her phone. “Is it true? The guy who was Shape died?”

Seeing immediately through the autocorrect, she delves into her network of tomes and reports to discover it is. She is filled with a deep sadness, but though she weeped openly at his on screen death, now her face is as dry as she is empty.

She is 18, and she stands there as the dirt is thrown onto the casket. It hits her that never again will she hear him talk about Fish Filets on Fridays, or statues from Portugal, or tales of bread and milk and the great depression. She stands there while her sisters weep on either side of her, and her boyfriend wraps his arms around her slim waist to discover her almost catatonic. The only drips on her face were from the rain.

Scrolling through facebook, she sees it. The man who first taught her that men can wear tights, and may have something inside them of interest, is gone. And while her heart breaks at the wealth of amazing things he was unable to bestow because of time cut too short, it shamefully pops into her head. She is a pop culture welfare queen, a taker. She will never give back in that way. So she sighs and she closes her phone and ignores it. Because pain can always wait, just like everything else.

She is 15, and in the small living room of the tiny house a woman lays on a bed wailing in pain. This woman who was once her grandmother is tended by her husband. The house smells of must and sweat and saline, the very sterile and the very opposite. As she is told that it is only a matter of weeks, she sits and stares at the statues from Portugal. She has to keep it together, because this is the way of it. It never ends.

That summer when the beloved comedian died, she was shaken. She couldn’t watch his movies with the others. Knowing the sadness behind the humor was not some kind of secret. She had seen that man behind the curtain many times, although from another wizard who was maybe not as great and perhaps more terrible. She laid there in bed and thought about all the things he wouldn’t do, and all the things he had. She rolled over and went to sleep.

She is 13, and sat in the car looking at a catalog to distract herself. If she was honest (which you shouldn’t be about the dead) she had never liked the woman, the old roommate of her beloved great grandmother whose passing earlier that year she honestly couldn’t even remember any more or ever again. The children were all left to sit and wait in the van as the body had been there for 4 days. Children should not be exposed to such tragedies, her mother said. “I hope someone cares about me enough to miss me after just one day” her sister weeps, the tears dripping from her cheeks into her champagne ringlets. She pulls her tiny sister in and whispers “me too,” although she knows that when you are dead you are gone, and it only really matters to those left behind.

A few Christmases ago, when the ache of her community a time zone away was pulling at her, she opened her timeline to see he died. It seemed such a terrible way to find out. Agony should have it’s own font, to do justice to news such as this. He was 14. He was going to be a chef. He was surrounded by family and friends and she wasn’t there. It seemed selfish to weep, her with her 2 children, healthy and whole. She went about her day as best she could. The loss of such potential weighed on her, the injustice of it. Nothing was fair. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust… but we are stardust, though some of us shine brighter than others.

She is 11, and her mother was with her great grandmother weeping in the bedroom. The children were told to stay in the living room and wait for the body to be picked up. While her father was distracted by the baby, she sneaks off to use the bathroom and finds her grandmother. Or what was her grandmother any way. It is shocking, how not you your body is once you die. She snuck back into the living room and never told anyone what she saw. Staring at the little statues and knick knacks on the table, she makes a promise to herself. She will live her life furiously while she has one.

Before the move, before her second child, she sits in her mother’s kitchen while her father tells her his kidney’s are failing. She was prepared for this. She had practiced this in elementary school that Easter, the first time the paramedics came to bring him to the emergency room. She had long known the dangers of chronic illness, the family history of autoimmune disease. As her mother frantically gave her grandmother instructions for caring for the 3 of them, her sisters clung to her. “Will daddy die?” one asked her. “No” she lied. She knew then that everybody dies. The only eternity is what you leave behind when you go.

She was not yet 2, this story more myth than memory. A ball of light and life and chaos she ran around joyful and loud. Except around him. He was weak, and wore a mask to cover a face ravaged by illness and surgery. She would crawl up into the bed and lay with him, intuitively aware that there were times of action and times to be still. Hopefully she will not forget.

She has an idea. Instead of making notes, she just does the whole thing, right now. Ignoring the other things, the distractions and obligations. What is fear when you know what will happen to the best of us? To put things off is the greatest disrespect to those who have come before. She writes, although she worries it is too personal, or too specific, or too self centered. Mourning, however, is always personal. It is always about those who experience it, those who are left behind. She decides that maybe she should leave something for those who come after her, so that there is something worth missing.

And she weeps.

Embracing Imperfections

Today was an amazing day! I had such a great time I forgot to write a post. Totally cheating, I am copying and pasting an essay I wrote for my church over the summer, as a part of a service called “what truths do you feel are worthy of being fulfilled?” I hope you like it.

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When Becca asked me to do this, I immediately said yes… In my head anyway. It actually took a little longer to really tell her. However, as soon as I finally agreed the dread set in. What on earth would I talk about, and how badly could I manage to mess it up? There are many truths I would consider worthy of fulfilling, so many how could I possibly keep it down to 5 minutes.

It was suggested that I speak about embracing imperfections. This feels less like a truth I hold up and more like the universe’s lesson plan for the last 29 years of my life… But the truth is that you could say embracing imperfections has been my life’s work.

I was, believe it or not, a quiet and reserved child. I did everything I could to deflect attention from myself. I wanted nothing more than to create, laugh loudly, and spread joy. I was held back by a constant fear of imperfection. I turned inward, I wrote, I created… But those too were locked away. My fear of being less than perfect had prevented me from living.

There are countless traditions where imperfect art is the goal. From Wabi Sabi to Amish quilts, creating pieces with intentional mistakes makes a larger statement. But it is the more mundane human aspects of imperfection that have touched me more. American writer Catherine Drinker Bowen once said “Writers seldom choose as friends those self-contained characters who are never in trouble, never unhappy or ill, never make mistakes and always count their change when it is handed to them.” I found this true of myself, seeking out those who live life fully and authentically. The types of women who called stretch marks “tiger stripes” and embarrassing moments “good stories.” I realized that by protecting myself, I was robbing them of this same experience, this same intimacy. I was pretending to be something less than what I was, and we were all the worse for it.

Admitting imperfections has taught me humility, humor… Maybe some day it will teach me grace. It allows a person to be vulnerable, to discover that those cracks and blemishes are really doors and windows to allow others in. They are glue to create connection. There is something really freeing about saying “so, that just happened. Now what?” In allowing others to laugh with you. In letting your embarrassment be a lesson.

I see myself as a teacher. When my own girls shred their drawings because they wrote the letter “N” backwards I know the way I live is important. When I hear that a woman want to wait to lose that last 10 pounds to buy a cute new outfit. When friends decide they can wait and start their passion only when the wind is right and all other obligations tended to completely. I find I am often a better teacher than I am a student. I embrace this imperfection in myself, for how many can teach a master class when still taking remedial lessons?

This isn’t a goal with a clear benchmark, and that is kind of the point. The truth to uphold is that we are constantly evolving, delightfully imperfect beings who can use these experiences to connect and grow. We all want to come across as having it all together, being on top of everything, good at things at the first try… but as Albus Dumbledore said in the “Harry Potter” novels… “It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.

Is It Ever “Too Late?”

So, when I first theorized this post, I was thinking of it being about me, as an individual turning 30. I have talked before (too often?) about coming out of a couple years of illness and small children, and I do often wonder if it is too late for me to ever carve out a life for me as “more than a mom.”

But then Halloween happened. Holiday season always puts me in a mind of “look at all the things we aren’t doing.” My children are very cheerful, grateful, unselfish children… and somehow that makes it worse? I feel like I should be doing so much more, so many fun things, and I keep falling short. They love it because they love everything! Will they still feel that way about their childhoods when they are my age?

I am going through all of the pictures for some projects going on (which includes a large “update on the kids” post tomorrow) and the feeling is compounded. Look at how small and squishy they were! Look at how much time has passed. I am stable with my health right now, but even still I just came off of 3 weeks being on/off sick because of a severe allergy turning into a respiratory/sinus infection (and this happens 2-3 times a year since we moved.)

It is always going to be something. On and off somethings. I get stronger, I do better, I move forward. I add more traditions, more snuggles, more books to the bedtime reading list. I add more things for me as my children spend more time away from me at school/with friends. I fight the desire to keep them close and homeschool, because I know that what is best for them is not me trying to make up for me (real or perceived) failings. Their early childhood was what is was. I am now leaving panicked and insecure chaos of babies and toddlers for the rushed and guilty chaos of school aged children.

In talking to friends, I am discovering that I am not a special snowflake in this regard. So many nights I wonder if I just lived a day my child will talk about in therapy 20 years from now. I hope that I have enough joy, enough love, enough humility to make up for them.

I don’t know how to reconcile these two desires, this wish to be “the best mom” and the “fulfilled individual” because I don’t even know what those things look like independent of each other. What does that even mean? Probably nothing. I do know it doesn’t do any good to look back in regret, and to look forward to anxiety.

I do my best to look back in joy at the good things we did, and to look forward in hope. I am learning to live in the present instead of just driving through, but also to not be angry at myself for doing that. I am practicing self forgiveness, and self love, but also self improvement and reflection. This isn’t about letting myself off the hook, it is about breaking cycles of shame and sadness. All of the pretty things and lovely experiences will not change a household of sorrow and regret.

When my girls look back, I know they will not remember me as perfect, but I want them to know they were cared for, loved, and cherished. I also want them to see a happy mother, because I know that what a model is what they will default to.

So Let’s Talk About Harry Potter

So, this is late, I am sick, and my laptop refuses to read my camera’s memory card. This means I’m gonna talk about Harry Potter.

Now, I am a pretty big fan. I read it as an adult despite being the target age when it was released (I was 12 in 1998) but I have dedicated myself to making up for it ever since. I am a fan. My knowledge of this world is encyclopedic. I manage to talk about Harry Potter DAILY. it is a thing. Right now I am really into GoT (oooooh, there are youtube videos about Targ dragon riding genes) but Harry Potter will always be my main fandom.

So I am one of those people who felt that prequels were unnecessary. We got the highlights regarding Dumbledore, Snape, and the Marauders.  Their stories culminated in Harry’s story. At best, we get a fanservice connect the dots. At worst? We risk discovering the ability to wield a wand comes from “wiziclorians.”

So when it was announced that there would be a “Harry Potter” prequel based on a text book, I was skeptical. But it was not about Harry at all; it had it’s own story! Written by Rowling herself! Well cast, set in America!

What could go wrong?

Go ahead, click that link. Discover that the American term for “Muggle” is “No-Maj” (and it is pronounced “no-madge.” I love that they turned the g into a j, I feel like there is a .gif joke to be made.)

Just. Stop.

So, all “stupid uncreative American” stereotypes aside, I could totally see this being a slang term in modern America. Oh, the hashtags.

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I am aware “wiztwit” is hardly more creative, but I am not turning it into a movie.

You guys, this is being set in 1920′s New York. Have you heard 1920′s slang? It is the opposite of literal. You can look it over here if you are interested, but wow. No-maj, short for no magic? I suppose if you really wanted to, you could claim that that the magical culture was so alienated from mainstream culture that they have their own slang, but I feel like that still goes back to the “uncreative Americans” well. Will there be a scene where our British protagonist hears the term and cracks about “how creative” it is?

The fear is real you guys. The fear is real (as well as my possibly irrational fear that all Americans will be speaking in a cigar wagging caricature of the transatlantic accent.) I am still totally going to watch this movie (obviously) but come on. I don’t think me from 2 months ago would have believed that this movie was going to be questionable but the “Cursed Child” play would be good, but this is where I am with this. (Also, I hope they plan a way for the wider audience to see this play. Uh, for a friend.)

So, what do you think? Am I too worked up over this? Do you agree? Are you gonna watch this anyway?

30 Before 30

So, I turned 29 on April 10th. Not gonna lie, I was a little freaked out about turning 30! I spent my 20′s alternating between having small children and being chronically ill. I decided I might feel better about leaving my 20′s if I made a list of goals. This way, I would feel like I had accomplished something.  I broke them into groups so I could see balance.

Lifestyle

  • Visit Florida

  • Take a vacation (NOT Florida)

  • Go on a road trip

  • Make time for weekly dates

  • Weekend away from kids (with Lawrence)

  • Weekend away from kids (without Lawrence)

  • Entertain monthly

These are pretty basic, I think. The only one of these that might be problematic is going away for a weekend with Lawrence. I reserve the right the change it an overnight at the last minute, but I am aiming high right now! I have always wanted to entertain, but I have a lot of house shame that I am working through.

Personal Growth

  • Take a ballet workshop

  • Take a contortionist workshop

  • Take ariel workshop

  • Start cello lessons

  • Basic proficiency in Spanish

  • Basic proficiency in French

  • Do my Goodreads Project

This one looks insane! Okay, so for the 3 workshops, they are each only 6 weeks, so not a huge commitment. Also, fitness! So that is important. The cello shouldn’t be terrible, because I played the violin as a child. I already understand some Spanish, so I will be working on pronunciation, and as for the French, Lawrence is learning it, so we can be accountability buddies. The goodreads project is just me writing a review for every book I have read (rereading ones I don’t remember well enough)

Art and Creativity

  • Write 365 short stories

  • Finish my novel

  • Start my webcomic

  • Start multimedia project

  • Start soul project

  • Start youtube project

So I am writing a [very] short story daily, as well working on my novel (my goal is for a first draft to be completely finished. Unlikely I will ever do anything with it, but I want it done.) The next 3 are all projects that WILL see the light of day. The webcomic has been outlined, and I am working on character studies right now. The last one is a project I plan to work on with Lawrence.

Fashion and Blogging

  • Make 10 garment for each of my girls

  • Make 10 garments for myself this summer

  • Build autumn/winter capsule wardrobe

  • Build spring/summer capsule wardrobe

  • Learn hatmaking

  • Start makeover series

  • VLOG

This one is straight forward. Make garments! Build capsule wardrobes! Learn a skill (hats look so good on me.) I am thinking about vlogging because I feel more comfortable talking to a camera than I do in pictures. We shall see.

Spirituality

  • Celebrate the wheel of the year/esbats

  • Start a CUUPS

  • Write and perform my own ritual publicly

These are pretty direct as well. I consider myself a pantheist, but am drawn to the celebrations of the wheel of the year as a way to celebrate the seasons and the passing of time in general. Besides, what kid is going to complain about a holiday every 6 weeks!  I am working with my church to start a CUUPs group, and in doing so I will be more “out” than I ever have been before.

So here it is! I will be posting periodic updates about my progress, but I hope for this year to be my most exciting yet!

Little by Little, Day after Day

I have been neglecting this blog as I have been neglecting housework, which has been neglected because my poor daughter’s schedule (such as it is) has been ravaged by late night teething. My desperate attempts to alter her schedule (shifting her schedule little by little, waking her up when I want her to wake) have proved ineffective. I am instead going to attempt a rhythm that works for me, and hopefully either hers will meet mine, or they will meet somewhere in the middle. This new rhythm includes “mommy time” to write in my blog. They may not be the informative essays (with citations!) that I anticipated writing, but like our daily routine, eventually it will turn into something closer to what I would like.

Last night, in celebration of my more relaxed attitude, we took a spontaneous late afternoon walk. Fiona and I watched the moon rise, the sun set, and listened to the wind in the trees as we waited for daddy to come home from band practice. I look forward to more relaxed moments amid chaos.