Come as You Are

Come As You Are by Crowder

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Life catches you off guard.  In the last year there have been significant moments where I have had to make choices and chose a new path.  Along these journeys, it has given me a new vision, my faith has become stronger, and I have surprised myself at how strong I am even at my weakest. I see the world more clearly; I know that I would rather have fewer amazing people in my life than know the masses of the people around me.   A tight knit “extended “family that knows my heart – just as I know theirs.  This extended family shows up when the darkest of clouds are over head and when the sky’s are blue and the sun beats down on us we play in joy and laughter at the purest of moments where we find nothing better to do than just be in each other’s company for however long it lasts.

I have had days where life spins me in circles, feelings of being ripped off the ground and I struggle to find my footing. I forget sometimes to breath, pay attention to what’s going on around me and pay attention to self care.  I wish I saw more givers and less takers in the world.  I want to believe the best in people and forget about the opposite. But this is unrealistic.

People in general spend so much time hiding who they really are and acting in a way that seems natural but just isn’t – depression, disease, abuse, people who don’t have family, some who can’t see their family or children or the millions of people who don’t have a place to sleep or food to eat.   I have been looking deep inside to find something that will fill this space or void I have carried around, this feeling of “I am not doing enough”.   I said, I want to believe the best in people. I figure, if I am the best version of myself, I believe I can impact change.

This past year, I committed to start working out more frequently so I joined Cross-fit.  It is unlike anything I have ever done physically in my life.  I have pushed myself to the place where I say, “I can’t” and then others start to cheer you on and through the exertion, sweat, tears, and injuries I push myself to places and complete exercises I never thought my body could do.  Yes, I fall but I get up and I have proven to myself that “I can”!  I am strong, I get exhausted and I know when I hit that point of breaking, I am capable of pushing forward and not giving up!  This “thing” I have become a part of, what I used to say was “insane” purely out of judgment.  I participate in reguarlary and it has changed my life. I have power that I didn’t know I had. The gut-wrenching strength I have because I have proved it to myself. In this comes self-care, purpose, and not the idea of; but the self-truth that I will never give up.  Cross-fit strips my mind and my body down to nothing and all I can do is to keep pushing forward.  This may seem simple but it has empowered me to find great strength inside of myself.

I desire to share my writing about life and what it means to me through self discovery, instead of talking about how I want to help people, I think it is a shit or get off the pot scenario for me (this is a terrible analogy) …. quit talking about it. I need to do and not say.  I need to take care of who I am because it has proven to give me great strength and empowerment. I need to get outside the bubble and pop it.  All the while, keeping in mind, I need to stay focused on self care and self discipline. Take risks, give back, pray and continue to have faith in life that I am where I am supposed to be!

I have now jumped into a few things.  I am a bit nervous and excited but only because of the unknown. I will finish my CASA training soon and I have just started the training process for the American Red Cross Disaster Response team.  I have realized over and over…life is so short, too short. I have real life experience (so does everyone else) but for me it is the most obvious in my home with my children.  Life changes so quickly. Do what drives you inside, allow yourself to discover new adventures if you have the means, even if you may go it alone for awhile, and may be outside of your comfort zone. Don’t second guess yourself. You may find a new calling something you are drawn too, carry your faith with you and push forward. Keep moving.

I have taken so many leaps this past year – I am not going to drone on about them but if you know me, you may know of my “leaps”.  Instead of being complacent I have had to hit the reset button on me.  I so value being raw with my people – cut the bullshit and just lay it out there. I don’t want to believe or live in a fantasy world that life is all rainbows and butterflies.  Life is also about struggles and never giving up. Take this one life you have and live it!

You can find this in your soul (something pushing you to look for, a person, a place; something simply unexpected and it’s your choice to step off the cliff whether you dive or jump you will instinctively come up for air.  Take that leap of faith and in time you just might find a better understanding of yourself and a new purpose.  You can find yourself shifting paths, the future is uncertain but what you might find ahead in your new surroundings is a place you find a new hope, a sense of purpose, and a new comfortable fit for exactly who you are now, perhaps a new calling – today keep moving forward with your faith, knowledge and strength.

There is so much life out there, so many moments, so many adventures…so use this opportunity to get up and get moving.  The world needs more of these people rather than the whiners and waiters.

Always.

 

For Austin

“I love you, I love you more, not possible, yes possible.”

For Austin:

You will officially become a teenager (13) tomorrow.  I love the young man you are becoming.

Every morning when I come to wake you, I slowly open your door and you are curled up in a ball under one blanket.  You don’t care for a top sheet or quilt and if I make your bed by morning, its balled up on the floor next to the bed.  You politely tell me, “I just need this blanket”.  Of course, you would have expensive taste – a handmade $70 blanket. You wake slowly most mornings. Weekdays I use my long hair to tickle your ears and face and you roll over ignoring me.  When you fall asleep you still rock back and forth – just as you did as an infant.  This is so funny to me – your friends will come over and are baffled as to what and why you do this.

You always have a smile and your laughter…. that genuine laughter that fills a room after practical jokes makes my heart full.  Sometimes you make yourself laugh so hard.

As you grow, I want you to learn to speak up for yourself and for what you want, it is okay to get off the road and explore what is around you, before you choose a road. At school, rather than flying through the homework and everyday tasks because they were put in front of you – I want you to begin to think deeply, if you don’t understand, ask, if you want to know why you are being taught something, ask (respectfully), and if you can fly through your schooling years as fast as you are now and each homework assignment you get (I dare you to slow down, later in life you will learn why education was/is so important to me and to your grandparents, we have all been in the trenches with classrooms of kids.  I had a few exceptional teachers and in those few they changed my life in their own way. My dad was one of these teachers (retired now), he taught music for 40 years and still every time we visit what does he do…just like kicking off his shoes at the end of the day…within moments the piano, guitar, and his voice fills the room. Do what you dream of!

Now at my age, just as I was inspired by a precious few educators, you can be too!!  As they inspire (you might not realize it but they can be inspired by you,) pay attention to why you might be learning what you are, it is not always about being the best or the first in everything. Observing and even being knocked down can teach you so much. And both will happen to you!

Small random acts of kindness might not seem important but they are and they show others who you truly are…you sharing a part of your kindness with someone can make a difference! There is always someone you know who needs help getting up, give them a boost. Pay attention and be authentic.  You only have a certain amount of moments in your life.

Open doors, pull out chairs, try as hard as possible to NOT have a sharp tongue, do not judge others because you don’t know what they might be struggling with, continue to say please and thank you, pray, if someone is upset, hand them a tissue and take the time to notice them, to listen if requested. Be gentle with others hearts, always love your family hard and deeply. The day will come where you stand in front of “your” mountain, don’t quit, it is going to be tough and maybe the toughest at whatever age it will happen…do not concede! Go up, over, through or around, ask for help but never stop.

I want you to challenge your mind as you have with the same determination you have now. These things will make a difference in others, just smiling can make a difference for someone else and FOR YOU! As you move into your teen years know that I love you.  Even if you hate me at times.  You have a strong heart, pay attention to what is going on around you and to what you feel, and don’t ever be afraid to speak up!

Austin, you work hard at everything you do, so hard. You often would rather be in the shop working or trying to fix something you found in a field, garage sale, or someone’s garbage – a weed wacker, old cell phones, an engine, swamp coolers, computers…as I clean the house I often find a trail of parts and pieces from one room to the next.  Anything from tools, screws, bolts, parts to cell phones, circuit boards, wires, electrical tape. It’s crazy! I am often frustrated with the mess and then I remind myself what better way for you to discovery, learn, and inspire. (You are not organized but your mind is unreal, you draw from others ideas and create your own in a matter of hours). You create and recycle old parts to make something new that is actually useful.  We joked for your birthday; a box full of broken stuff from Goodwill and it would be the perfect gift for you! You don’t need the gifts. The box of junk would make you thrilled and so happy because- it isn’t junk to you – it’s a treasure and sparks new ideas in you!

You are competitive in sports; you push yourself to be better.  Last night in the snow you decide you better go outside and shovel 8 inches of snow below the basketball hoop because practice starts in a few days and you need to…well, practice. It was icy, snowing, dark, and I watched you shoveling as you slipped all over the place and just when I thought you were getting no where, I heard the bouncing of your basketball!

You are officially 5”5, my height. You don’t seem to ever be sad or down but you do get quiet and when you do you always come to me without words and lean on my shoulder and in those moments I don’t need words, I ask you and you shrug, we sit together for awhile; then off you go and your chatter begins again.

You are a work in progress and believe me when I say, you can always change your perspective. Try and see the world through other’s eyes. Always be open to others no matter how you unique they are.  You will figure out why it was so important to me that people never used the word different when it came to you and your brother.  I realized “unique” was the perfect word…everyone is unique to only themselves!! You and Cole are unique!

Stay close to that brother of yours, both of you are something, amazing together, you will need each other more than you know as you get older and always, always protect each other.

Happy Birthday!! World, look out my son, Austin is 13!!

 

Always remember… “I love you, I love you more, not possible, yes possible.”

Not All Gifts are Wrapped…

pinkie-fingerI spent time with a friend yesterday morning, we exchanged gifts, chatted, drank coffee, and laughed. Family members stopped by and as I watched the kids buzz around together, I realized that although the gifts were wonderful and thoughtfully planned, in that moment – just existing was the best part of the morning.  Laughing, a few tears, the huge Christmas tree in the corner, everything was beautiful but the beauty of being in that moment was just being there together.

It felt like home, sitting and talking with her.   And playing with her youngest; the most precious little guy…I am blessed to be his Godmother and when I think of the rest of her children there isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for them.

This amazing human being, I have known for awhile. Our kids played soccer together years ago and it was their unique bond that I was gifted with this new friend.  She isn’t the kind of friend who is going to come into my life at the time- it is convenient for her, no way! This is going to last for life! I will be in a walker with my dentures, my polyester pants and still will knock on her door and she on mine. She is the kind of human being that everyone should be so lucky in her presence.

I don’t know if everyone will understand this or admit to it but friendships at my age are hard to come by and it’s the people I choose and (they choose me) that is so important. Sometimes you just meet someone and it clicks and a precious seed is nurtured and a friendship begins to grow.  For me, friends are no longer about the quantity you have but rather the quality of the relationships you have together.  I have said it before but (the tribe) you create for yourself is a protective shell.  Sometimes you meet people and there is just a spark, neither parties understand it but there is this magnetic pull that keeps you coming back together.

It is a gift to know this woman.

 

 

Moments

Photograph by Nickelback

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I watch my kids whirl around me as if I’m in the center of a tornado, standing still. I watch them growing and circling me in an upward spiral going faster and faster and I simply cannot keep up.

I spend so much time not missing events: packing football pads, muddy cleats, backpacks that I can barely lift, now basketballs, building animal cells out of Styrofoam, “trying” to help with common core math, who needs new shoes, new math binders, conferences; there is so much “stuff” that kids need, use, and want but when it comes right down to it – the best thing I can give them is my love, my heart, teach them to be kind, polite, and well-mannered young men.  Beyond that, simply being with them in all their moments. My hope is that by loving them, it teaches them how to reciprocate love to others.

I realize now and can see clearly what was happening in my idea of a beautiful childhood.  I was loved and cared for in such a way, I was sheltered from the monsters under the bed. I couldn’t have asked for or been blessed with better parents, I love my siblings and I know whatever the status of our relationship is, in any day – everyone in my family would show up and I have NO doubt about that.  This gives me an incredible amount of courage and strength.

I am able to see life in a different way now.  A beautifully complicated mess of opportunities.  Living in the moments we have, today, tomorrow, and what happens in the next two hours or this evening.  We have choices to make and in those choices we choose to live in those moments or sit complacent and think about what they could’ve been like.   In my strongest and weakest moments, I strive to master perfection in these choices.  But this is where I have begun to see life and myself differently.  We all have these moments that can have an impact on our lives, that we will remember forever or maybe just an ember that blows from the campfire and disappears into the night. But I write to keep my moments, insignificant or not, alive.  I feel alive everyday through my moments and how I choose to use them!!

******

When the twins were born, I can remember Cole’s entire hand holding the tip of my pinkie and being too afraid to even touch Austin.  Their chests concave, literally skin and bones, and the ventilators helping them to breathe. I was terrified, so terrified if they would live of die in those moments.

In nearly a month my twins will be 13 and damn, I am so proud and have been blessed by God that these two miracles are in my life. And seriously, where the hell have the years gone??

This morning, the house was in shambles, Christmas lights reflecting in windows, I was doing laundry, writing checks for the next sport (basketball), lacing new shoes, feeding the dog, loading the dishwasher, and like every morning trying to get Cole out of the shower (he never fails to take every ounce of hot water) and my heart was full.  Yes, this happens mostly every morning sometimes the tasks change but the basic idea is always the same.

Life can change from day to day. What you choose to do with your day is up to you but somewhere remember there are people out there who in their current state cannot control what is happening. Everyone needs time to digest, make a plan, and decide what is best for them and their families.

Go after what you want, remember where you came from and who helped you get there, don’t look back because we cannot change the past, if you want something different – something you feel compelled to do or change from your history – change it now, if you need a kick in ass to get you moving, I am sure you know someone who is ready and willing! And maybe if something or someone catches you off guard in a moment and you let yourself be with whatever it is; you may learn more than you ever thought you could. It could possibly change your entire perspective on life.

Pay Attention

2012-02-09manual-typewriter-0209stockHow do we talk about the the things we need to say without breaking down?  So, many think tears directly relate to weakness or being broken.  Sometimes this is true but for me I can try to hold them back but everyone who is close to me knows that my eyes well up when I am happy when I am laughing, and also through the difficult heartbreaking shit too.  Sometimes I cry out of joy, and other times to put it simply – I have an extremely tender heart and I usually underestimate my strength. Letting the tears fall is a release for me – some have told me they can’t talk to me because they don’t want to see me cry.  If we are going to split hairs about it – I will suck it up and not cry but also stop yelling at me and talking down to me in ultimatums.

I have trained myself to deal with many things by hiding and digging deeper to bury the things that have become patterns in my life.  I have spoken up but it is always when I have reached my explosive point.  I carry on and keep moving forward but at the cost to myself and who I am. I can fundamentally disagree with some and just sit there and listen to them but in the last five to six months I have started to voice my opinion – not to disagree or cause an argument but to get into the habit of speaking up for myself.

There are two sides to everything, every relationship, and every choice we make.  We need to be conscious of this and the people around us, we need to build each other up instead of tearing them down.  Give back when you can and live on a little less that day.  Don’t buy that cup of coffee for yourself but give it expecting nothing in return from the shivering person sitting against the building outside covered in a trash bag trying to stay dry.

I used to write with a pen and any piece of paper I could get my hands on, I have notebooks full of words, love letters, poetry, and stories.  Now, I stare at a screen when I write – the passion I had for my pen and paper fades because typing seems so easy and more efficient.  As a child I remember my grandfather typing on a typewriter – pushing back and forth as he would reach one side of the paper or the other, the ding when he hit the return key, and when he would manually feed a new sheet of paper in the machine – and the hunting and pecking of his typing skills.  I hardly ever hear that sound any more but when I do it brings tears to my eyes – it brings back a heartfelt memory back and a reminder that life used to be very different.

 

 

 

 

We All Have Scars

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I have scars that remind me of old stories.  Some happened so long again I can barely remember; I know if I asked my parents about them, they would surely know some of the answers of were my external scars came from.

I have two scars on my right hand from trying to do hand stands when my friend and I challenged each other to how many we could do each and when we collapsed to the ground, she scratched me.

Another scar, on the inside of my right knee where the corner of the screen door ripped through my skin after my father had repeatedly told me that was going to happen if I didn’t move from where I was sitting.  I didn’t move and I now have a six-inch scar on the inside of my knee.

I have a scar just under my belly button about 10 inches long from a C-section running from left to right and just beneath this scar…there is a scar I can’t see which runs up and down about 10 inches due to my C-section being an emergency.

I am sure if we all thought about our scars we could list them.  I have created scars on my body…self expression…designs and patterns that I want to be remembered.  They are all apart of my body now and on my skin for all to see.  I chose each of them for a very specific reason and they will forever be on me.  Would I do this again…yes.  Am I currently planning too, yes.

Scars are easy to spot or see on most of our bodies somewhere. There is an entirely different type of scar that may scar us so deeply they we see the world different because of these scars.  These scars strip us down to core, make us define our ourselves and create an entirely new way of looking at the world.

These deep scars flip our lives from the inside out. They break our hearts, tear us apart, and make us wonder if we will ever survive.  These scars, I believe are more than one sided…there is a cause and effect to everything and there are always two different ways to look at everything.  I believe that these scars require conscious decisions…backed by some type of faith.

I have made a handful of these types of scars inside of myself and because I have made them, they in turn have effected others around me…and scarred them as well. We cannot change any of our scars but we all can make the conscious decision as to how they will affect the rest of our lives and how we look at them in our current lives.  We can change how we react to them in the here and now. If they happened years ago, we can still learn from them. We can allow ourselves to keep them close but at bay as long as we keep moving forward.

Do not dwell on things of the past, we will never get those moments back and who wants to move forward constantly looking over their shoulders?

 

Don’t Hold Back, Give Back

 

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Sometimes it takes a new perspective to slap you across the face and wake you up.  I don’t mean…a strong cup of coffee-type wake up, I mean…running into a brick wall at full speed ahead-wake up.

The same things happen day in and day out, there are seasons in everyone’s lives whether they are farmers, teachers, real estate agents, the list could go on and on.  Everyone has a busy time and every one has a slower time.  I can appreciate everyone’s busy and slow times-its about what you choose to do in those extra minutes that makes up the surprises in your life.  The sparks, the twinkle you see in someone’s eye, the way someone smiles, or doing something for someone else expecting nothing in return.

Pay attention, people!  We are surrounded every week by hundreds of people if you take the time to pay attention to others.  Yesterday I was in the grocery store and I notice an older woman in a wheelchair putting back groceries as she added her items up with her coupons.  I could see she was trying to figure out what she “wanted” and what she “needed”. My heart ached for her, I wanted to say something but I didn’t.  I didn’t want her to feel embarrassed or offended by my reaching out to her.  Or was it that I was projecting those feelings of mine onto her.  My observation was she was was struggling.

As I continued to fill my cart with things that I needed and things that were not a necessity, I continued up and down the aisles, I passed the woman two more times. As I walked up and down the fourth aisle, I realized there was absolutely nothing in my cart that I or my family had to have in that exact moment.  Maybe, the milk, the eggs but I knew none of those things were something that my family needed to survive for the next few days.

Selfishly, I walked to the checkout and started unloading my cart as I stood there waiting for my total, I saw the woman waiting three people behind me in line.  Something in my gut told me to do something, it was instinctive.  The guilt I was feeling walking around the store slapped me in the face. I decided, there is nothing I can do to change her life but I can at least help her pay for her groceries.  I bought a gift card and asked the employee helping me to please give it to the women waiting in the line.  The employee smiled and thanked me.

I left the store feeling pretty good, feeling blessed that I am able to provide for my family, and that we all can probably live on a lot less than we do.  I am challenging myself to do something like this every week for someone…it doesn’t have to involve money…sometimes it’s as simple as picking up the phone and reaching out to someone you know is struggling, or stopping and smiling at someone.

Take time, pay attention, be present in the moments we have, and if you’re drowning where you are, if you are losing parts of the person you thought you were…find a way to climb out of that hole…swim like hell to find something that will keep you afloat, we are the ones who hold our own selves back. Its all on us!

Be courageous! Be strong!  We all have this one life!