Wednesday, August 27, 2014

love is

Usually Monday through Friday day are all business. Today we added an extra dash of fun and a healthy splash of spontaneity. Grey wanted to go and ride the bock-show. 

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It took us like a day to figure out what bock-show meant. 

Bock show!!!!
Bock show!!! He kept yelling more and more urgently.

I...want...BOCK SHOW!!! with direct eye contact and such an urgency it made my heart break. 

BOCK SHOW. BOCK SHOW. He repeated, almost in tears over and over again. He grabbed his Picture Exchange Book and took out a picture of him horseback riding. He placed it on a strip that says, "I want". 

You want to ride horses? We asked.

NOOOOO, he whimpered, crushed. 

We went through a million nouns. Do you want the park? Fries? Ice cream? Chips? None of his favorites worked. We were equally crushed for letting him down. Finally Michael put it together.


YES!!!!! Greyson said in blissful relief. Bock show!!! 

You see Friend, when Greyson used to go horseback riding he first rode this "motorcycle" at every visit. He liked it even more than the horse in fact. And since he didn't have a picture of a motorcycle in his book, he picked the horse picture- the closest alternative.

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He doesn't always get there the same way- but he gets there.

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Apparently the bus lives up to its name.

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Parker stands on tip toes and waits for his smoothie to be ready. He thinks every drink is his, and when someone else grabs it, he explodes into a million tears. "I'm sorry" the person who grabbed the drink says. He gets up off the floor and waits again. It sucks when they are really busy.

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We raced home in time to see our Frank.

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As soon as Frank got out of the truck we could hear the loud sound of hot hissing. Their was an air leak in the doo-hickey-something-or-other. His truck was officially out of commission. He had to leave his truck on our street which was the coolest thing ever. I put Parker down for a nap just in time to catch for Grey and I to catch a Big Rig Tow Truck rescuing #127. 

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At first Greyson loved it but then he was confused. The driver chained Frank's truck up backwards and Greyson got concerned. Hammy, hammy, hammy- Greyson said for "help me." Off. He wanted the chains off. It's okay Grey- Frank isn't in the truck. The truck is hurt. That guy needs to go fix it. That seemed to settle Grey's mind.

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Sometimes we all need a break. Even trucks. Even you. 



Love isn't...
The counts of the click of a shutter, the number of toys purchased. The amount of time spent with each child. It isn't giving up, feeling entitled or comparing. It isn't measured by a clean house or by trips to Disney Land and Ice Cream excursions.

It is...
Tracing their face with the tip of your nose while deeply inhaling and knowing for a second that you've never felt this happy. It is feeling like you've known them all your life- not just all theirs. Love is being covered in hot dog barf (or some other food you will never regard the same way again) at 1am as you bathe, strip sheets and soothe, while simultaneously knowing there is no where else you'd rather be. Love is knowing when to be Drill Sergeant and when to be the softest feather pillow. Love is knowing your mood, your thoughts, your heart- simply by the glimmer reflected in your eye. Love is letting go and holding on. It is in every limb, every exhale, every sleepless worried night and every brand new sunny day starting again.

Love is.


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

reach out

In the 1980's there was a National Advertising Campaign for the phone company AT&T.

Reach out reach out and touch someone! Reach out call up and just say hi, urged the happy singing voice on the television commercial. The campaign was a huge success that resulted in a large increase in sales for the phone company.

This commercial reinforces an ideal that still rings true today. Inherently we were put on this earth to connect with other humans. Sometimes we make life about the price of gas or work or arguing over religion or politics, but at the root of it all we want to listen and be heard. We want to be understood and related to. And with the advancement of technology and the quest for connection, some of the heart and intention we carry gets lost. Our eyes remain down on our phone. It makes me wonder what the future will look like. I wonder what will come from the loss of intimacy that a cell phone can bring into our life.

And it's so easy to blame technology or social media, or others, but in doing that it's the same as saying we are hopeless to change. Together we can be the change. We can change our community- our bubble- our nest- and in doing so, change the world our children see. We can feel less alone and more connected. I have five ideas we can implement this week to reach out and touch someone.

Wave to Random People All Day Long: People waiting at bus stops. People out for walks. People driving in the car next to yours. Your neighbor. The cab driver. The Trash Man. TRY IT. It's awesome. Isn't it AMAZING that we all get to be humans here discovering earth together??? I KNOW!!! ASTOUNDING!!! Of course I would NEVER suggest you do something I hadn't tried myself. I did it this afternoon while in the car. I SMILED and waved at EVERYONE.

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I was nervous and felt odd at first. Why is it so weird to reach out to people we don't know? I was afraid I was going to look like a weirdo, which I did- but so often we look like a weirdo by mistake- WHY NOT DO IT ON PURPOSE?! The very first gal smiled really big and waved back! I loved her. Woman number two looked at me nervously and then abruptly looked back forward, hands at ten and two. Man three looked at me like- How do I know you? as he smiled and gave a half wave. It was so fun I'm going to try it again tomorrow. I dare you to try it too.

Give Away Kindness Like it's Free:  Because it is!!! Do things for old people. Old people love kindness because they have already figured out it's the key to EVERYTHING. Take up their trash cans from the curb after trash pick up. Offer to walk their dog.

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Bring a Teacher friend dinner as they try to adjust to the new back to school schedule. Engage in conversation with people you otherwise usually wouldn't.

The place where the boys go to school/therapy has the most beautiful grounds. Green, lush, immaculate. Like OCD perfect. I feel so good when I walk through. There is almost always a gentleman outside pruning, trimming, cleaning and planting. Today I smiled and said hello as I walked the boys in. The man looked up and then quickly went back to his business. Hmmm...I thought. 

On the way in picking them up I said to him, You do such an amazing job keeping this place beautiful, and he gave me a quick half-nod and began watering the bush in front of him. He's a little cranky, I decided. He was so cold to me that I began to wonder- Does he have Special Needs? That would make sense. I asked the Director. He's deaf- he reads lips, she told me. And it was one of those profound universe moments. The way people behave is not about you, Chrissy. It's about THEM. He wasn't ignoring you, he wasn't cranky, he wasn't rude. Don't assume anything. So next time I will be sure to engage and communicate in a way that works for him. That God! He sure is funny planting all these lessons right in our very own little garden.

Write a Letter: Like with paper. And a pen. You can also go to the store and buy seven cards to give away one a day for a week.

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I loooove this line of cards from Compendium Inc. I get them at Cost Plus World Market. They are usually my go-to just because cards. Their motto is "live inspired". Amen.

Or, dig up the cards you already have in your house and use them. Who cares if it's a birthday card and it's not their birthday. Or if it's a Get Well Soon card and they aren't sick. Not only are you surprising someone with fun mail, you are making them laugh with your funny-not meant to be funny- card. There's one thing better than getting fun mail. SENDING FUN MAIL! So be selfish and give yourself joy! Write a letter!

Make a Phone Call: There are some natural phone talkers. I am not inherently not one. When the boys are with me I can't really talk. Or listen. At all. Or my walls end up getting covered in black Sharpie. True story. But every so often it's divine to connect voice to voice. So often we will say- I wanted to call but I knew you would be busy and I didn't want to bother you. This week- I say bother. But here's the catch. If you get voice mail say- "You don't have to call me back. I just wanted to call you and say: blank." (You have to come up with the blank part.) I can't tell you what a relief it is when someone tells me I don't have to call them back. Even better when someone let's me know I was on their mind.

Make Plans for a Proper Get Together: 
"Let's get together soon!" "Yes! That sounds great. Soon." That conversation happens way too much. Let soon be now. If not soon, at least get it on the books. A girls night. A date night. A coffee with your neighbor. You're tired. You're busy. I know, I know. Connecting with others fills your bucket in ways that a nap never could though. 

Make moments, tiny little moments to connect with all the other awesome humans in the world. You can change the world. I'm pretty sure it's one of the mysteries we are here to unravel.

If you have a moment, check out this impactful, makes you think video on the importance of just looking up. It's well worth the watch.

Your pal, 


Sunday, August 24, 2014

shhhh'ing the demons

I've heard it described that it feels like an elephant is sitting on your chest and that sounds a bit right. Sometimes two or three elephants. It's hard to get a full breath in. Little tiny shallow breaths accompany a thumping, racing heart. I'm afraid. I'm forgetting something. Something terrible is happening. What is going on? I don't know exactly why I am feeling this bad. Obsessive thoughts swell and fill my brain. They run on a loop. I repeat a situation, a fear, a thought over and over again. Maybe I have to "think it through" until it makes sense or doesn't hurt, and although that never works, I keep doing it. I torture myself, frequently when trying to fall asleep. The demons like to come out at night. 

I have high anxiety. I like how that sounds better than "Generalized Anxiety Disorder", which sounds a little too clinical for me, but it's the same thing. Starting a medication called Effexor helped tremendously, but I still have to work to keep my constantly moving mind in check. I was talking to someone about my anxiety and they said- That's understandable- you must have so much going on with two children with autism. That comment didn't sit right, but I couldn't figure out why. 

I thought about why it made me sad despite the fact that I know it was said with kind intentions. First of all, I've had this condition? Disorder? for years. Well before I was a married grown up with children. I remember obsessively thinking as a little girl. Crazy things. We went to church every week at the Catholic School I attended. I remember every time I saw someone walk up onto the alter I pictured them naked. Yes, even the priest. It's kind of, almost funny now- but then I was mortified. I was certain it was a direct line to Hell. The more I thought about NOT doing it- the more I felt compelled to do it. I felt so dirty and weird and awful. And any time I thought about my nose, I had to scrunch it up or touch it. I tried to do things in fives. Walk five steps to get to the door, swallow five times in a row, turn the light on and off five times. I didn't tell anyone about my obsessive thoughts. I kept my brokenness inside. I was afraid they would realize I was unlovable. 

Second of all, I don't like the comment okaying anxiety because I have children with autism because it's kind of like saying you are ALLOWED to have high anxiety IF you have a traumatic life event. However if you do NOT, then you aren't allowed to have ANY mental health disorder. That implies that it's a sign of weakness. I don't see it that way though. I honestly see it like any other medical condition that can strike anyone in it's path. Hard life conditions can certainly exacerbate anxiety- but isn't necessarily the cause of it. We must look at it as a condition that must acknowledged and researched so we can find ways to cope with it. And yes, of course sometimes the Demons tell me otherwise- that I am weak. That I am not normal. That I am a freak. But I've come far enough to know those thoughts are fleeting and they fade away. I am strong. Thoughts are not- they fade away.

You don't have to have an actual disorder to still suffer at times from unhealthy and negative thinking patterns. I want to highlight some common thinking distortions- You may see yourself in some or all below. (Taken from Psych Central). It may give you a new, kinder way to look at your beautiful life.

Cognitive Distortions
Aaron Beck first proposed the theory behind cognitive distortions and David Burns was responsible for popularizing it with common names and examples for the distortions.

1. Filtering: We take the negative details and magnify them while filtering out all positive aspects of a situation. For instance, a person may pick out a single, unpleasant detail and dwell on it exclusively so that their vision of reality becomes darkened or distorted.

2. Polarized Thinking: In polarized thinking, things are either “black-or-white.” We have to be perfect or we’re a failure — there is no middle ground. You place people or situations in “either/or” categories, with no shades of gray or allowing for the complexity of most people and situations. If your performance falls short of perfect, you see yourself as a total failure.

3. Overgeneralization: In this cognitive distortion, we come to a general conclusion based on a single incident or a single piece of evidence. If something bad happens only once, we expect it to happen over and over again. A person may see a single, unpleasant event as part of a never-ending pattern of defeat.

4. Jumping to Conclusions: Without individuals saying so, we know what they are feeling and why they act the way they do. In particular, we are able to determine how people are feeling toward us.

5. Catastrophizing: We expect disaster to strike, no matter what. This is also referred to as “magnifying or minimizing.” We hear about a problem and use what if questions (e.g., “What if tragedy strikes?” “What if it happens to me?”).

6. Personalization: Personalization is a distortion where a person believes that everything others do or say is some kind of direct, personal reaction to the person. We also compare ourselves to others trying to determine who is smarter, better looking, etc.

7. Control Fallacies: If we feel externally controlled, we see ourselves as helpless a victim of fate. For example, “I can’t help it if the quality of the work is poor, my boss demanded I work overtime on it.” The fallacy of internal control has us assuming responsibility for the pain and happiness of everyone around us. For example, “Why aren’t you happy? Is it because of something I did?”

8. Fallacy of Fairness: We feel resentful because we think we know what is fair, but other people won’t agree with us. As our parents tell us when we’re growing up and something doesn’t go our way, “Life isn’t always fair.” People who go through life applying a measuring ruler against every situation judging its “fairness” will often feel badly and negative because of it. Because life isn’t “fair” — things will not always work out in your favor, even when you think they should.

9. Blaming: We hold other people responsible for our pain, or take the other track and blame ourselves for every problem. For example, “Stop making me feel bad about myself!” Nobody can “make” us feel any particular way — only we have control over our own emotions and emotional reactions.

10. Shoulds: We have a list of ironclad rules about how others and we should behave. People who break the rules make us angry, and we feel guilty when we violate these rules. A person may often believe they are trying to motivate themselves with shoulds and shouldn’ts, as if they have to be punished before they can do anything.

Psychologist Tamar E. Chansky defines anxiety as “the first reaction of a sensitive system that is wired to keep us alert to danger and protected from harm.” Chansky writes a book on freeing yourself from anxiety and focuses on the following steps:

Pause and Re-label or don’t believe everything you think.
Get Specific or narrow down the problem to the one thing that really matters.
Optimize or re-think what’s possible and broaden your choices.
Mobilize or don’t just stand there, do something.

Everyone is going through something. Everyone has their thing. The thing they hide because they are afraid of how it will be received. Their totally imperfect- I hope you still love me -thing. I share my thing with you because it's more important for me to be honest and connect and be human than it is to fake perfect. Sometimes letting the light in is the best way to scare away the dark.

Big Hugs,


Thursday, August 21, 2014

a friend inside

My friend had a rough day yesterday. Not just with Moming but with Life. She is the person I'm with the most, the person I see and talk to most. Someone I have a direct ability to affect with my words because she intently listens to every little thing I tell her. So like any good friend, I gave her a good listening and talking to at the end of the day.

It's a shame you can't keep it together. To be honest, your job isn't really that hard, in fact it's kind of stupid mindless work. I don't understand why sometimes you make it out to be so stressful. You worry about everything. There are people who have it so much worse than you. Maybe if you woke up earlier you wouldn't always be running late. Maybe you could even like- Oh I don't know- wear something besides your Summer Uniform (tank, shorts and flip flops) and try and look like a grown up.

I sound like an asshole friend- huh? Of course I wouldn't dream of talking to a friend that way, yet I find it perfectly acceptable to talk to myself that way. Every darn day. And the funny thing is, it makes me less motivated, not more. So today I treated Chrissy Kelly a little more like a good friend.

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I treated myself to an awesome unfancy massage. $19 for forty minutes which is practically FREE.

After my massage and shopping and talking nice inside my head I went to pick the boys up from Behavior Therapy. As we were trying to walk out the door Parker had a melt down because he didn't want to leave the truck he was playing with there. He would walk a few feet and then crumble to the floor screaming. Finally I said, "Goodbye Parker. We are leaving" and started to walk out the door. Greyson (who is always by my side and ready to leave) wouldn't BUDGE. He went and stood next to Parker. Hammy hammy hammy hammy, he said gesturing towards Parker. Hammy is his version of "Help Me", one of the practical social phrases he has been taught to use when he needs assistance. Sometimes when he wants to say something but doesn't know how to say it- he just says, help me.

"Come on, Grey" I said.

"Hammy, hammy, hammy"- Greyson says, urgently this time. He reaches down and tries to grab Parker's hand.

"Par. Par. Par- Hammy hammy." He tells me. He didn't want me to leave Parker. It's the first time I've ever seen him show concern for his brother, Parker. My heat stopped beating and then started to thump loudly. While walking to the car Parker would melt every few feet, and Greyson would stay right by his side until he got back up.

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Little miracles daily.

This afternoon I went out the pool area with the boys. I really wanted to sit and read while they swam but Greyson said, Mom- pool so many times in a row that I couldn't refuse. I have a million reasons why I don't usually go in the pool with them. It's not hair washing day (what is this- 1952?), the water is too cold, I don't feel like it, we don't have time. I could probably come up with 4,000 reasons. In the movie, The Breakfast Club Allie Sheedy says, "It's unavoidable. When you grow up, your heart dies".

I'm pretty sure when your heart dies you refuse to go swimming because it's not hair washing day. So today I jumped on in.

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And he looked at me. He really looked at me for the first time in so long. I ache to hold him and squeeze him and have him say I love you, Mom. Some days I would be happy with just a little eye contact. Today that wish came true. The pool was magic. I was the Queen and he was happy. And because of that, so was I.

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This makes me happier than I can find the words to say...

On Facebook this afternoon I wrote the question, "What's the best book you've read lately? I need some new reads?" I want to share the great responses I got in case you are looking for new reads too. *Asterisk means more than one person recommended. I linked the first 16 titles until I realized how long it would take to link up the whole damn list and I quit. 

In the Woods
The Invention of Wings 
Life Animated
*The Rosie Project
*We Were Liars
*Eleanor and Park
*The Giver
This is Not The Story You Think It Is
Marrying George Clooney 
Chestnut Street 
Love Anthony
What Alice Forgot
*Big Little Lies
The Light Between Oceans
The Fault in Our Stars
*The Goldfinch 
The Bible
Unbroken (Laura Hilderbrand)
The House Girl (Tara Conklin)
Redeeming Love (Francine Rivers)
The Paper Magician (Charlie Holmberg)
A House in the Sky (Amanda Lindhout)
Dancing on Broken Glass (Ka Hancock)
Calling Me Home (Julie Kibler)
Heaven is Real (Todd Burpo)
The Unwind Trilogy (Neal Shusterman)
The Secret History (Donna Tartt)
Signature of All Things (Elizabeth Gilbert)
Gone Girl (Gillian Flynn)
A Lesson Before Dying (Ernest Gaines)
The Garden of Last Days (Andres Dubus)
Yellow Crocus( Laila Ibrahim)
The Plum Tree( Ellen Marie Wiseman)
The Kitchen House (Kathleen Grissom)
Mother. Daughter. Me (Katie Hafner)
Me Before You (Jojo Meyes)
The Orphan Train (Christina Baker Kline)
Roses (Leila Meechum)
The Tea Rose (Jennifer Donnelly)
Wild (Cheryl Strayed)
The Outlander Series (Diana Gabaldon)
My Mothers Secret (Witterick)
The Book Thief (Markus Zusak)
The Story Teller (Jodi Picoult)
Game of Thrones Series (George RR Martin)
Written in My Own Hearts Blood (Diana Gabaldon)
The Power of Now (Eckert Tolle)
Chestnut St. (Maeve Binchy)
The Prayer Box (Lisa Windgate)
The Husband's Secret (Liane Moriarty)
The Walk Series (Pichard Paul Evans)
The Girl You Left Behind (Jojo Moyes)
Molok'i (Alan Bennett)
Beach Music (Pat Conroy)
Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand)
The Prophet (Kahlil Gibran)
Keeping the Faith (Jodi Picoult)
If I Stay (Gayle Forman)
Where She Went (Gayle Forman)
Following Atticus (Tom Ryan)
The Twelve (Justin Cronin)

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

who cares?

August has me feeling hot and tired and like a big fat ball of lazy. I don't feel like taking pictures or writing or even adventuring.

Go to the park with the boys or just sit here and watch Cars for the 17th time this week? 
Yes, let's just sit here so I can get flaming mad at you for dumping out an entire bag of pretzels on the ground (for the second day in a row). Wow, I had no idea just how much salt was in each bag until I saw it scattered like prisms all over my living room floor.

Parker is a tornado that is sometimes easier contained at home. Here's an example from a ten minute period earlier this evening.

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This time I caught him before he turned on the sink. 

We are going stir crazy and coming up with new games as we go along.

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Take all the cushions off the couch game. 

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Lining things up game. Grey and I are real good at that.

I'm cranky. I have a big fat cold sore on my lip and I have the energy of a gnat and the positivity of Oscar the Grouch. So there's that. All of that. I don't write fake happy crap. And I'm also not writing stuff as pathetic as the two paragraphs above. (opps, too late.) But now I sit with a scary yet inviting blank white screen in front of me. Who cares if I'm crabby or annoying or rude. Who cares if I've been the laziest mom in the universe? I mean really, feeling terribly guilty or perseverating over it is actually so self serving. I'll save myself a step and just be lazy without the guilt. What difference does it really make? Who cares?

Have you ever met people perfectly and constantly even keel at all times? On one hand I envy them. I mean truly envy them. And then on the other hand they bore the pretzel salt out of me. For the love of Pete, do you ever get bored or angry or self-loathing for no good reason? Do you try to leave the house but just mentally can't?  Do you ever obsess over crazy stuff and then analyze and over analyze the hell out of it? No? Then sorry, you are too sane for me to be friends with you. But good job being so normal.

Today I forced myself to rip off the lazy band aid. Instead of watching Cars for the18th time  we went to this really big park that the boys love. I seriously felt like I deserved a trophy. GOOD JOB LEAVING THE HOUSE. GOOD JOB SWEATING BUT DOING IT ANYWAY. I deserved a trophy and a massage.

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I met my friend Annie for lunch afterwards. Greyson was standing up and eating ice behind a chair in front of me and I didn't have a good view of him. I stood up to take a look and he was eating some ice that had fallen on the floor until I stopped him. I sit back down and tell Annie, (who has a better view)- "If you see him go to eat ice off the floor again, will you let me know?" 

A couple of minutes later I see Annie's face transform into shock. "GREY is" I hear in alarm. Alarm bigger than eating ice off the floor. "GREY IS NAKED" I hear her mouth say. NO! It's not true. It can't be true. He gets naked at home ALL THE TIME, but he never has in public. I quickly stand up and see Greyson standing with there happiest grin and nothing else on. I sit down and laugh until I can't breathe. I'm waiting for an adult or a parent to fix this. Annie and I run to him and grab his clothes off the floor. He runs to the front of the Deli laughing, doing everything he can to avoid his clothes.

I look up to see this grumpy middle-aged man in a suit SCOWLING at the scene unfolding in front of him. I wanted to say, WHO CARES?! It's just a little naked. You should try it sometime.

I went to a super fun evening couple's baby shower for a dear capital F Friend of mine a few weeks back. I picked out a sweet little summer dress that was perfect to wear in the 100 degree plus weather. I usually prefer dresses that have a high neck line because I hate the sun speckled 82 year old woman skin on my chest. Apparently laying out on ALUMINUM FOIL while I was covered with baby oil and CRISCO in my teens actually was a bad idea like everyone said. Hmmm. 

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(actual picture of me).

So this particular dress did not have a high neckline but I got it anyway. I tried it on the day before the party and all that stood out was my splotchy chest. I had the perfect solution- I went out and bought a navy blue cardigan to cover up. (yes, Michael makes fun of me for the fact that I have a cardigan sweater in every color of the rainbow.) On the evening of the shower I got ready and went to the party donned my new cardigan. 

I was sweating my rainbow jimmies off. It was unbearably hot- like 105 degrees hot. But there was no way I was taking off that cardigan. 

Are you SERIOUSLY wearing a sweater? Why do you have a sweater on? Are you actually cold? YOU ARE COLD? I had NO GOOD ANSWER. I simply looked like an idiot in a sweater. I tell my friend- I hate my skin so I'm trying to cover up. And after I said it out loud I realized how ridiculous I sounded (and looked).  And finally I just started laughing and I took off my sweater and balled it up and put it in my purse. was SUCH a relief. Physical and mental. So I have some sun spots on my chest. WHO CARES? I can either stop caring- or care WAY TOO MUCH and look like a complete fool. By desperately trying to cover up my spots, I was making myself stand out even MORE. 

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I look at this picture and all I see is happy. Screw you sun spots. (and love you Wynema, Andrea, Heather and Liz!!!)

I remembered back to a friend I had in my single days. She hated her butt. She thought it was too big. As much as I told her it was perfect- she didn't believe me. It didn't matter what I thought. She used to wear these big swingy pants to cover up her butt and thighs and these pants actually made her (not big) ass look HUGE. It called way more attention to it. Why do we do that? Sometimes we try so hard to cover up our "flaws" that in actuality we are pointing a big fat arrow at them. 

Friend, I love you just the sun-spotted, big butted, wonky teeth or squishy stomached imperfect way you are. And I'm working dang hard at loving myself in that exact same way. Because really- who cares? It's incredible just how little our outside machine means in the scheme of the universe. I care about what's inside.

And Parker, my amazing sweet Parker makes me laugh SO much more than he makes me rip my hair out. Tonight we were flipping through a magazine. "What's that?" I would ask him- pointing things out. I pointed to a cat.
"Cat" he says.
"Yes!!! It is a cat".

I pointed to all sorts of things. And then I point to Gwenth Paltrow. 
"Who's that?" I ask him. (We have been working on girl/boy in Speech Therapy.)

"Momma" he says. 
"YES!!!!!" I scream and DIE laughing. 

He did the same thing when I pointed to Jennifer Anniston. NICE Parker!!!! But then I tried something...
"Who's that?" I ask pointing to Beyonce. 
"Momma" he says laughing with me... 
Same with Marge Simpson. So I guess every girl is Momma. (Brad Paisley was Dad. Seriously.)

WHO CARES?! I'm making it my mantra the rest of the week.


Thursday, August 14, 2014

the enormity of life

I was on the freeway driving the boys to Behavior Therapy today and I realized that traffic going in the opposite direction was stopped. An occurrence not at all abnormal in Los Angeles- but remarkable for Fresno.

Hmm.... Weird, I thought.

After dropping the boys off I headed to my doctor's appointment. As I pulled into the parking lot I noticed Police Officers speckled all over the busy 4 way traffic light in front of the office. There were groups of people standing on each street corner. Some were holding cell phones and taking pictures. There was a camera man in the middle of the road. The air was still and warm and quiet. My mind couldn't categorize what was going on. 

I look up and on one of the corners in slow motion I see a man running towards a woman. They embraced like they were at the airport and hadn't seen each in years. Their hold was tight and urgent and lacked the smiles and joy I expected to see after an embrace like that. They just held each other. My eyes were slowly processing the scene in front of me. And then I saw it, five crumpled up cars practically merged into one. One crushed and on top of another, like a ball of tin foil. I see a sheet covering something...and then I realized someone on the ground and the world was completely still except for the scene unfolding. 

A "fatal crash" the news called it. In that simple way that the television news reports life- no sobbing or rhetoric, only facts. The man that passed away... I wouldn't even say he was a man- he was a boy. A 26 year old boy who in fact does NOT have his whole life in front of him. He only had everything leading up until today. 

None of us really has their whole life in front of them. We are only guaranteed right now. Today.

And lately the world has felt so heavy. Like a thick itchy cloak in the middle of August. The death of Robin Williams draws to the surface the enormity of life. Life- sometimes it's so incredible, but sometimes so crushingly painful. The pledge our heart and our head makes when we love, when we feel alive sometimes feels like a burden. And it's so hard to understand that where there is love, there is also horrific pain. There just has to be. Where there is truth, there are also lies. Where there is God, there is also Satan. Where there is birth and life, there is also death. 

And it turns out- the street corner where I saw the embrace- that was the deceased man's family. His twin brother, his new wife and others gathered in vigil . I don't know how that poor woman stood near her husband's body covered by a sheet. A man who will never grab a carton of milk on the way home from work again. His toothbrush will sit in its holder, forever unused. His clothes will hang in their closet, achingly unworn.

My chest aches as I think about it all and I almost want to apologize for this post- Sorry to be such a downer...but I am not. I am not sorry. I want us all to feel it and hold it and taste the enormity of life. Let's ache and remember together what's so easy to forget.

Life is astounding.

And I wonder- why is it so easy to understand that when we see it taken away? Why don't we have that intense reverence for the fact that we are alive daily? We reserve it for when babies are born and when people die. We feel it at funerals, especially when someone dies much too young. We see Life for all the shine it holds. We see our own life with a renewed realization that we are right in the middle of something so astonishing it holds no words.

And then that feeling is gone and we make life tiny and meaningless. We make it a burden and a chore.

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My boys are the closest I get to experiencing the true spectrum of life. The horrible pains and the joyest of joys. And seeing death up close reminds me that a little thing like autism- is something we can absolutely do with grace. 

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Yesterday I took them to the park to play.

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And after five minutes they were over the play structure. They just wanted this puddle filled with mud. And I was annoyed. GO PLAY ON THAT! I kept repeating while pointing to the slide. And then I remembered that sometimes they know more about life than I do, and if this is how they want to play, than this is how I will let them play. I squashed down thoughts of- Oh no, and holy muddy and how will we drive home and what will they wear...

Seriously? Who cares? We will work it out.

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And I joined them. And it felt like squishy and wet and warm and gross. 

And different though, and different is Life, so I guess it felt like Life. 

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And we made it home just in time for serendipity on wheels. 

Oh life, you are precious and frightening and literal and short and then over. You are a gift we open daily. You carry no guarantees. You are astonishing.

Please take a moment of silence or prayer or whatever feels good for you for the victim of the car accident, Matthew Harkenrider and his family and all the people injured in today's crash. Take a moment for YOU and for Robin Williams and his family and for anyone you have lost that you hold dear. I loved how good author Anne Lamotte says: 

"Live stories worth telling! Stop hitting the snooze button. Try not to squander your life on meaningless, multi-tasking bullshit. I would shake you and me but Robin is shaking us now."

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

soaking up now

It's so easy to stand on tiptoe and see to the other side. The perfect side. Sometimes it's your neighbor's greener grass. Sometimes it's your hopeful future. Sometimes it's your past. Time has a way of sugar coating things, easily turning them into an alternate reality that actually didn't even exist as we begin to remember it anyway.

Last week I was reading a mediocre book about kids in college and every time I put the book down I've was obsessed with thinking back to my time at college. And I'm emotional and sensory, so when I go there, I really transport myself there.

I can see the narrow hallway leading to my dorm room, #340 Freduenberger Hall. I am independant. Excited. Alive. It smells like school and library and perfume and life.

It's was so perfect.
I mean really.
And easy.
And perfect.

It was just me, taking care of me. Everything I ever needed was right there. Everyone was my own age. Everyone was a fresh start somewhere new with many someone news. Making friends was as easy as knocking on your neighbors door to bum a cigarette. Campus was its own contained aquarium; gym, library, medical center, snack shops, cafeterias. With unlimited ice cream cones and French fries.
I got to learn about EVERYTHING. Small group communication and creative writing and acting for the beginner and bowling and micro economics. I took a crazy array of classes. And learning is my favorite thing in the world. Libraries are my favorite thing in the world too. The smell is intoxicating.
I had so much ahead of me- the whole wide world really. First love and first sex and first job and getting married and having babies. I was a gigantic thick book with so many blank pages.

And I kept having those painfully thick nostalgic thoughts until I finished the darn book and finally shelved it. I had to pull myself back to my reality. Where my learning comes from LIFE, not an hour long class I can skip if I feel like it. And not everyone is up to making new friends- at my age, people often already have all the friends they want. People don't really put themselves out there. There is no cafeteria. No gym. No library- all within walking distance. The world is not laid out before me, I have to go get the world. And with the shedding of amenities also comes an array of steel clad responsibility.

My two and a half year old niece Maggie and four year old nephew Levi came to town last week. It had been almost two years since I had last seen them. 

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They grew up so much- and I was amazed and proud and sad to see hey are their very own little self-contained people. Their first day here their voices tinged my ears with a strange mix of 100-watt joy and sadness. I felt guilty for imaging that sound coming from my own children. Guilty for aching to hear Greyson and Parker make requests for pancakes or juice. Imaging them making awesome and funny observances in the way that only little kids can. Wishing they would accost me with random hugs and kisses and look at me like I was the most amazing girl in the world.

Aunt Chrissy, you are the best aunt Chrissy in the world, Levi told me at least once a day while I simply GLOWED (I am so sorry to all you other Aunt Chrissys out there).

And a few days in I realized something.  For the love of Pete, kids that can talk are EXHAUSTING y'all. EXHAUSTING I tell you. I'm so SO sorry I didn't look at it from your angle Moms. I want a waffle! No- now I want egg in a hole. Can I have milk please? NO!!! I want juice, I don't want milk. What did you do with my milk? I want it now. Can we go outside? I want to ride in your car. Why can't I ride in your car? Will you take me in the pool? I wanted sprinkles on my ice cream. Why is that man sitting there? Can I sleep in your bed? Can I have some of your ice cream? Will you throw me up in the air? Why do you smell like chocolate? I don't want to eat my carrots...

And of course of course of course in the perfect Universe I would want my boys to talk- mostly for their sake but also for me. BUT- there are some darn good parts about the silence. Parts I haven't been taking for granted lately.

And it made me rethink my feelings about college.

It's was so perfect.
I mean really.
And easy.
And perfect. 

Here's the thing - I mostly never felt like ANY of that then. Leaving home and going away to school was awful scary. Exciting-yes. But scary. And it was all too new all at once. I needed some familiars thrown in there to remember who I was. I never had any money. And I didn't have a car. And I worked full time at a bar and often didn't get home til midnight and had to get up for class early the next morning. And I had a really tumultuous relationship. I focused completely on him instead of my friends for most of my college experience. I missed out on so much. It was hard. And my ass.

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It got so BIG on those bottomless French fries and ice cream. (My friends Kim and Kristen and our RA. I'm on the right. Yer welcome for posting this.)

Maybe everything wasn't perfect then. And it's not perfect now either. It's never going to be perfect, and it's never even going to be good if I live in another time or another place. I want to live in my imperfect life right now, and be awake enough to recognize all the beauty that it already holds. 

And I started to feel that tug of time this evening at the Farmer's Market. I started to ache for the ending of Summer, the beginning of the school year, getting dark earlier. Everything made me sad. And I remembered- everything about this moment is perfect, and you are screwing it up right now.

So I focused on the right now.

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We soaked up the colors and produce. Here are some beautiful local figs.

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We learned...

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We listened to live music.

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And rode this motor cycle eleventy hundred times. Sometimes when I'm putting the quarters in I tell Grey- You can either continue to ride this motor cycle at this pace or go to Harvard for college. Which do you choose? He just looks at me like- Put the damn quarter in lady.

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We took Best Friend pictures, because we are

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And made wishes... Let me always realize that I have everything I need in this exact moment I am in.

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And danced under white twinkle lights.

And it actually was perfect and easy. For now. For real.