dueling voices

The 90 degree air moves above us as we dangle our legs from the floats inside the swimming pool. Mateo is halfway across the pool looking back at me with a huge grin. He was so pumped putting on his bathing suit, he kept asking, "you, me? you, me? you go in pool?" I was changing him outside still dripping sweat from attempting another run in this humidity. I couldn't even bother to slide off the running clothes for a bathing suit, so I just took off my socks, shoes and shirt and Mateo and I counted to three and jumped in for refreshment. Well to be honest, I counted to three and Mateo counted to one. Once we were both on our floats I gazed at him realizing how much more face time with play without phones or chores he likely desires. And at the same time I got this sense that I was there with him but not there with him. In real time, it all seemed blurry. 

I am not landing. I cannot find footing. And I am mad at myself that my grounding isn't working. And I am frustrated with myself that a choice we knew and we made that does offer goodness can still be this hard. I do not feel the right to be as grumpy as I actually have been. I know this ground and still, I cannot put my feet down. I feel resistant, scared, discontent and disoriented. I find complaints are always near my tongue. And I need to let go and land but I am dangling. I want to look across the pool and see your face and BE WITH YOU. My people, most especially Stephen, are getting the sharp leftovers of my brain as I attempt to land. 

Is there space for my disappointment? Is there space enough for me to absorb the mass transition so I can move on well? Is there a way to accept the radical change to our daily rhythms? Should I have known better? How many missteps did we make? How am I currently making up for the ache? How do I make right the fire in the crossover without burning all my people? Can I reconcile the competing voices in my head - one of kindness to myself that I am still in transition whiplash after a huge last few months and the second voice full of impatience and disdain for the bad attitude and discontent for what at the end of the day are first world problems (we have ample food, shelter, health, community, and work). 

That's where I am this Monday morning. Wanting to start a new week refreshed and open and optimistic. And facing the reality that I'm dangling still and there is work in my heart and mind to find footing again. And I need kindness and acceptance for myself and for my people to start again today. 

“I wanna go home.” Mateo begs. The day had included a long scooter ride down the light rail trail. The heat was bouncing off the dark pavement through the colorful painted rug on the trail causing his arm to hang over his scooter as sweat dripped down the side of face. I feel like the boy has been sweating nonstop for days. Hannah tells me it is because his body can’t get used to this weather. Yes, after his short lifetime of 90% days that were in the 50’s and 70% in the rain, this is a lot of change for all of our bodies to take. I had run 4 miles that morning and basically felt like an olympian from how hard my body seemed to work with this new element to navigate. 
Smells wafting through the warm air are new too, most of the time it smells like wonderbread and cigarette smoke. As we keep walking/scooting, I wondered what it feels like for their eyes. All new sights too. New city skyline, new coffee shops, new roads to drive and sidewalks to walk, new kids to play with, new moms giving hugs, new food being served, new accents being spoken - my word, every sense must be going through a whirlwind. Every sense awakened, some pleasantly and some with surprise, but none the less - you are tasting, smelling, seeing and hearing so many unfamiliar things. And even I who have long known many of these am finding myself feeling foreign at times.  
Of course sweet boy you want to go home. I just have no idea how to explain home to you right now. I find myself wanting to say that home is wherever Hannah, mom and dad are - and maybe that can be enough but I know in my heart you are asking more than for a permanent house. You are asking when can you rest, you are asking if we get to all stay together, you are asking for a something that doesn't shock your senses, home is complex and we all seem to be constantly searching for it. Love you boy. 

'Because' just isn't sufficient

Guest post from PH:

This morning I had a conversation with our son that went something like this: 

"Buddy, you can't touch the stove." 
"Because it's hot and you'll burn yourself." 
"Why is it hot or why will it burn you?"
"I don't know how to answer that."
"Just don't touch the oven, okay buddy ?"

"Why" is the question. Buddy asks it in response to just about everything? It starts as a curiosity but continues as a matter of repetition. I think that underneath these "whys" is a desire to understand the world around him and how he fits. During this transition, this word has come to be his favorite, and I wonder if it's driven by the disruption watching a house get packed up, saying lots of goodbyes, and cross-country move and all that that it entails. 

I see it and hear it from Kiddo as well. Her whys are much harder and sometimes more subtle, and most often unsaid. 

"Why did we move across the country anyways?" 
"Why would someone break into our home and bust my piggy bank?"
"Why do I have to leave a friend?"
"Why did we leave in the first place?"
"Why are there mean people in the world?"  

The frustrating part is that I don't have answers, either ample ones for Buddy or adequate ones for Kiddo, much less a desire to engage their curiosity. But I get it. As our bodies, minds, souls, our family make this move from West to East, we are hungry for understanding. I crave answers and affirmations. There are so many unknowns, questions left unanswered, new ones that we can't even begin to process. And I don't want silence or 'because' for an answer either. So I'm going to engage. I'm going to listen to their questions and enter the dialogue, and I'm also going to start asking them again. I think dreaming is important and dreaming starts with questions. 



I woke up and felt 80 years old. Between the hard bed and grey skies I wasn't sure I could move. My bladder changed the game so I was up, and soon without much though,t putting on my running clothes and pressing the coffee machine. I keep anything that can feel remotely the same. Gratefully, our airbnb is really spectacular and likely I'll do a picture series one of these nights but it has been a very warm welcome. This is one of the first mornings I couldn't really make out the view of the city with the heavy clouds and fog. I took the elevator down 7 floors and walked outside and raindrops hit my face. I loved it. It was much warmer rain and seemed like everything was sticking to me but my legs took off. And unlike rainy mornings in Seattle, I had the whole light rail trail to myself. I loved that too, it reminded me I gained something.

One of the hardest things about trying to write about daily life and set a rhythm of remembering is also telling the truth of the day. And words aren't coming as easily the last few days. One of my dearest friends lost her dad this week. I felt almost a panic to wish away what I can imagine with far more vividness than I wish of the finality of letting someone go. When every single moment is seared in a surreal reality of a place you could never fully take your mind until it is fully there because the sting is so great, the gravity of loss quite unimaginable. No matter the perfectness of the relationship with the person or not, when they are gone there is a shift in the earth. And I am learning that once you have felt that shift with your own feet that small tremors return when the details of someone you love's loss is described to you. I want to be careful what I say here because I am still processing - for my friend - for my self  - for all my close friends who have lost a parent too soon. I want to be careful I speak less and hear her more. Each of our experience so different that part of my tremors this week is asking myself if i can set aside what i know, even when the memories are crashing back,  to hear what is real for my precious dear friend so that I may know her and her loss more fully.  

So for today, i was glad to get soaked and try to process what i know my body is holding for someone i love and also for the way the grief finds its way back into my bloodline with force. To be continued. 


makeup mothers day

Yesterday was make-up mother's day for me put on by the thoughtful and loving PH. It sort of speaks to that whole super high expectation thing I have going on,  and I confess that having to provide celebrations for me is no walk in the park. And I am trying. I am attempting to learn about myself and why my need is so desperate that they be so over the top amazing. When I grow up, I'm wondering if i can let go of my need for super celebebrations a little or at least laugh it off when it doesn't work. BUT for now, I'm still adolescent when it comes to wanting my birthday, Christmas, vacation, and mothers' day to be basically earth shattering. It leaves PH with the small task of being a mind reader. 

I agreed to the makeup mother's day in part because i wanted sleep and be irreresponsible pretty dang bad after the last few months. In short, I single-parented for approximately 35 days while packing up a house and caring for the bouncy temperaments of two children trying to navigate a mass transition. No probs. So...... it felt like one of those years that the day to be un-in-charge sounded pretty stellar. I actually find that mother's day can be a real bind. In part you really want this day where the kids are empathetic kind helpful humans with no boogers or poop cuddling with you, taking walks together, and eating all your favorite foods for a day. And on the other hand because you know that option A is nonexistent, than you want to find the few ways you can be fully indulgent ALONE.  For example:  sleeping in, going to the bathroom alone and uninterrupted, taking a shower alone and uninterrupted, going on a run, having a mimosa that makes you so relaxed that you sneak in a few pages of a book you have been trying to finish since your child turned 2 and then fall back asleep, and then the rest of the day doesn't matter as long as you get a full 12 hours not being the first line of defense. Is that super self indulged? Maybe. Does it also sound amazing? For me, right now, yes. 


The bind comes in a few ways, one - the kids are confused because they assume mother's day includes them and don't know why you suddenly tell them to ask their father about everything. And two, im confused because i want to stare at them and love on them and being fully out of control gets awkward for everyone after about 4 hours so i start slowing inserting opinions when im not asked. 

How lucky is my family? Ha. I love um. And shockingly it turns out with all my quirks and party hopes, they love me back. 

Poetry share

I have always had a soft spot for poetry. It was how I knew to express the sometimes unspeakable. And tonight i find I am in a place where I need the words of another to say things I don't yet have all the clarity and form to express. Hope you enjoy! 

The Journey By David Whyte

Above the mountains
the geese turn into
the light again

Painting their
black silhouettes
on an open sky.

Sometimes everything
has to be
inscribed across
the heavens

so you can find
the one line
already written
inside you.

Sometimes it takes
a great sky
to find that

first, bright
and indescribable
wedge of freedom
in your own heart.

Sometimes with
the bones of the black
sticks left when the fire
has gone out

someone has written
something new
in the ashes of your life.

You are not leaving.
Even as the light fades quickly now,
you are arriving.

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.

You do not have to walk on your knees

for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.

You only have to let the soft animal of your body

love what it loves.

Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.

Meanwhile the world goes on.

Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain

are moving across the landscapes, 

over the prairies and the deep trees,

the mountains and the rivers.

Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,

are heading home again.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, 

the world offers itself to your imagination,

calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting  

over and over announcing your place 

in the family of things.

from Dream Work by Mary Oliver 

can i get a witness?

About 20 tweens were dressed in sparkly black pants and red jerseys when the lights went up. I quickly spotted one of the tallest girls in the back. My heart did a little flip and I tried to keep my cool. But I didn't. Elise James, or E or EJ, was up there on stage absolutely knockin it out to a hip hop routine. And all i could picture was this long-legged, pale skinned, peach fuzzed head of a baby that I used to love to hold. She was about 3 months old when I met her parents and I have seen her do MANY many singing and dancing routines since then. But none like this, on a real stage with her grown up self.  Better than champagne toasts was this feeling of celebration and right place that I got while watching her on stage. 

And this connects to yesterday's post on Grub Club - E is GC member #13. The first friday dinners began with a 3 small babies and has grown by 10 more amazing miniatures. And the reason I write is not in anyway to boast of my special group but more to honor what I have come to learn in the last five years after leaving these dear bigs and smalls. We all need each other. In the world at large, yes, but even more so in the world in the day in and day out.  Life witnessed creates this depth and texture that is so very sweet.  

Ive been prideful to mask my need to belong, regularly, deeply and with delight. No one wants to name need and also it is very very hard to have your heart met well in this world. To add fun on top of a well met heart is like Disneyland but not fantasy. You know what I mean? My pasts speaks to how I either had my expectations so high that most in my life were set up to fail from the start. Or I puffed my chest and garnered all the independence I could to not need too badly, to not inconvenience anyone too much or want their company too often. In fact, where I have experienced a part of culture that says that needing is weak or asking for so much of people is too much, I actually think our need is what makes us human. And sharing that humanity with one another makes us all feel so much stronger in the world to get out there and do all the other badassery we have to get up too. 

My friend didn't ask me to come watch her girls today. But Hannah and I knew we wanted to be there.  When we arrived another good friend and her daughter were there too, and my heart smiled. I wondered what it meant to my friend to have others see her daughter grow up, to watch her daughter knock out her dance routine and glow. I wondered what it felt like to her daughters to have two extra Aunts and friends in the crowd cheering them. Its tiny, and its huge. And I wonder if we could all risk confessing our need more often as well as showing up unasked more often. 

grub club return

We never get the exact date right,  which always cracks us up, but somewhere in the neighborhood of 10-11 years ago, Stephen and I invited 4 other couples to join us for dinner on the first Friday of every month. We knew some of the couples better than others, two of the women had gone to high school with me and the other two went to our church and lived in our neighborhood.  I think it is fair to say for all of us that we had no idea what "Grub Club" would come to be in so many of our lives and the lives of our children.

At first couples would miss a month without too much thought, as life is so full, and suddenly we found that we were all changing our schedules to attempt to be in town for the grub club weekends. I'd love to say more so this blog will be continued, but I write about it today because tonight was our return to the table in a new way. Although in the last five years we have continued to prioritize breaking bread and playing with this group at least once a year, we really missed the monthly gatherings. What came into clear view once we were separated (why does that always happen?) was that these amazing couples are one of the most generous & unique gifts God has given to us in our lives. It was pretty surreal to return to the table with these folks and know we can come back again next month, heck, we can be back on the schedule to host. So, I'm all sorts of tired but I go to bed surprised and delighted by the welcome and open arms to our families return to these precious families. (miss you MUCHO fergs).