Friday, July 16, 2021

no more waiting

It was such a privileged conversation, that I hesitated to share this with you. But there are lessons and heart ache and honesty and wake up calls that we all need to hear embedded inside, so I will share these words with you, knowing that you will hold them with the same tender care that I do.

This morning I was at a Physical Therapy appointment, working on my wonky shoulders, while I await results from an MRI on my neck and right shoulder. I pedaled the dumb arm bike. I seriously am growing to hate this thing- it's irritating my already irritated rotator cuffs. 

"I'll be working with you today, is there anything special you want us to work on?" a therapist asked the silver haired beauty slowly pedaling a stationary bike next to me. She was a strong woman, tall and sturdy, but there was such sadness in her eyes. They discussed treatment for a moment. 

After a beat, the older woman said,"Honestly, I don't know why I'm still here." And the gravity of the sentence hung in the air for just a small eternity. There was no doubting that she didn't mean here at Physical Therapy, she meant life.

"My husband died in 2012, and I'm alone. Most of my friends have passed away. I used to be active in my church, and have lots of things going on- but I don't anymore. My daughter calls me, and that's nice. But my son...I don't hear from him much. He's so busy with work. I used to have so many things, but now I have nothing." 

My eyes were filled with tears, so I kept my head down in the hopes no one would see them spilling out.

What a potent message... For you and for me. The time to be alive is now. Right now, my friend, in the smack dab middle of chaos and all the inconvenient in-betweens. We spend 95% of our life waiting for the 5%. Think about it, really think... Waiting for our vacation, waiting until we lose weight, waiting until we get a new job, waiting until we fall in love, waiting until we sell the house, waiting until Summer starts... So much waiting for life to pass quickly by, so we can reach that 5%. 

And one day, the roller coaster ride stops with one loud final screech of the brakes. We finally have all the time in the world to exit the ride and stretch our legs. But we may find that what we really want, what we really really want, is to go back. Because now, when the calendar is clear, and all the ducks finally line up (with no where to go), we realize that the 95% is where real, beautiful, messy, hard, complicated, oh-so-precious life is truly at. And the good news is, we don't have to wait for the 95%. Chances are, you are in it right now.

Scenes from an impromptu, chaotic, so much fun arcade trip with the boys.






So I'll be over here- not waiting for results of my MRI, or waiting until my shoulders get better. I'll just be here living, right now, with gratitude that I have the chance to live at all. 

Go hug your people, go call your people, go live your life. It's waiting, but it won't be waiting forever. 

So Much Love,

Chrissy

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

attitude into gratitude

The beach air cycles through my body and I feel free. This isn’t a beach town or a vacation place to me. I don’t love beach towny vacation places anyway. This was my home, and that’s exactly what it feels like - home. 

A couple of weeks ago, we went for one night away in Hermosa Beach, a beachfront city in Los Angeles. It's about a four hour drive from where we live now, but feels like a lifetime away. 

This home is the home where Grey was born. Where my whole self changed into Mom. I think back to 12 years ago and wonder how much I’ve changed, and how much I’ve stayed the same. If we are lucky (and wise), we are constantly evolving. Not usually to the point that we aren't our same souls. Older. Yes, and as the cliche goes, wiser if we are lucky to learn from life's uncomfortable middles.

Lately I've been stuck. Stagnant is the perfect word, defined as without inflow or outflow. I try and shut off sometimes because it’s too much. Life. I know that sounds heavy. I'm a big feeling introvert- so I do heavy, talk heavy, feel heavy. It's the only way I can move on. I read books and watch TV to escape. Life has felt mundane, and quite lonely. I had shoulder surgery three months ago and I'm still in pain in both of my shoulders. Boy you would be surprised at how often you use your shoulders during the day. A few weeks ago,  I had to squat down in the shower and lower my head to wash my hair and I was in tears. I need this one body I've been given to work. I saw the Doc two weeks ago, and he thinks I have tendonosis in both rotator cuffs due to my funky wiring. I had severe scoliosis as a kid, and had surgery to help straighten my back as best as possible in my twenties. My spine was in an S, and the upper curve alone was 68˚. Now my shoulders are rounded forward, made worse by stress over the years, and the metal rods and hooks down my in my back. Sometimes the scar that covers about half of my back makes me feel like a bad ass, and sometimes it makes me feel broken. Lately it's been so much more of the latter.

Pain leaves you feeling depleted, lonely, empty. I didn't realize how much so, until I was in Hermosa. Here, I remembered who I am. I am curious, I am enthusiastic, I am creative. I seek authentic and vulnerable as if my life depends on it, I long for connection that fills you up, not connection that depletes. (Everything ingest, from TV, to social media to food to people is connection.) Here I remembered that life doesn't always feel so heavy. Here I was much more bad ass and not broken. It's so easy to abandon yourself. Now a few weeks later, I'm holding on to that badassedness with a white knuckled grip. 



Running towards the beach. You could feel all of our excitement.





Hermosa Beach embraced LGBTQ Pride Month with a newly painted rainbow lifeguard tower on 13th Street. We all deserved to be loved, exactly as we are.

I had tears in my eyes watching the boys interact with Mother Ocean. Oh sweet divine! The squeals and laughter and dancing with the tide. It's hard to overthink when your ears are filled with the ocean tide, and while your skin is feeling the Ocean breeze, and your toes have melted into the cool wet sand. 




At 6:30am on Saturday I met my friend Wendy, and we Starbucks'ed and pounded sneaker to pavement along the Strand. We didn't stop talking except to take a breath here and there.




There is definitely something to be said about a friend you can go years not seeing and pick up right where you left off. But there’s so so (SO) much to be said about friends who are consistent in your life. Friends who give equal. Friends who check in, friends who know your heart, your current days, what’s making you happy and what’s breaking your heart. Friends who remember your important days (both good and bad), who know your stories, who know your pain and who know your strengths and remind you of them when you forget. Thank you for reminding me, Wendy. 


This is where Michael and I met. At a trashy bar. And on June 24th we celebrated 16 years of marriage. And Grey LOVES getting his picture taken. Obv.



These boys love the hotel pool more than life itself. And why wait until you get there, to wear your (painful tight rubber) googles?! 


Re-entry was hard. I felt a little depressed for a few days. I remind myself to feel grateful for the lessened ache in my shoulders. Grateful for the fact I can still exercise and move my body. Grateful that we got to go away for the night. Grateful does a great job at cancelling out pain sometimes. Instead of being angry at my shoulders, I decided to feel empathy, and gratitude for them and how well they serve me. And life hasn't felt nearly as hard lately.


Sometimes, answers just take time. But that doesn't mean we should just stop living as we wait. 


So Much Love,

Chrissy

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

i like different best

We say we celebrate diverse. Different. Unusual. We really do.

But for the most part, we don't behave as if that's true. If you say you do with your words, but don't actually do with your actions- is it even true? 


I've shared before, "We all say we love and accept people who are different. And I think we mean it. It's so easy to love people in words, but so much harder to do so in action. Because there's usually an unspoken parenthesis after saying "I love and accept all people." A parenthesis that says- as long as I am not disrupted or inconvenienced. As long as you follow my same morale compass. As long as you don't look different. As long as I don't have to invite you to my birthday party. As long as I do not have to hire you. As long as I don't have to sit next to you. As long as I understand why you do what you do. As long as you do not make me feel uncomfortable." 

This seems to be where most of the world lies, with little action and good intention. We wear, "Be Kind" shirts and talk shit about our neighbor. We "celebrate diversity," yet our kids birthday parties and playdates would never show it. Special Needs are a forgotten class. We'll share a "feel good" video of a popular kid doing something unremarkable with a Special Needs kid, and feel like we've done our part. But who is that really celebrating? 

I don't have all the answers, and I'm still learning as I go. I am so happy God trusted me with my boys and this story, because before that, I was clueless to what it really means to accept others who don't look like me and act like me. At first I felt enlightened from knowing, and then I felt guilt for my complacency. The only good kind of guilt, is the kind that makes you change your own behavior. So that's what I try to do to be a more loving, inclusive person. I've got miles to go, but I think I'm on the right road.

A few weeks ago we went Strawberry picking at Sunshine's Farm in Fresno. 




Row after row of bright Spring goodness. Nature and life on full display.









The strawberries were so beautiful, so ripe everywhere you looked. They melted in your mouth they were so ripe. And they were truly aesthetic standards.The ones I loved best were the differently shaped ones, ones once upon a time, ones I would have thrown away or ignored. I picked those. Research shows that “Imperfect” produce is often turned away by grocery stores for not meeting strict cosmetic standards – making up around 40% of total food waste. They've seen first hand that consumers don't want imperfect.




But now, I like different best. And boy is the world more beautiful when you can see the beauty in different. 


So Much Love and Strawberries,

Chrissy

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

just keep breathing

Turns out I’m 47 years old and I don’t know how to breathe. 


“In through your nose, deep into your diaphragm, and then out through your mouth. "I started accupuncture three weeks ago and Dr. Oh was coaching me to breathe through each needle poke. I’m good with needles, but apparently - not with breathing correctly. “Have you seen the movie The Karate Kid? Dr. Oh asks. Of course, I replied. “What do you think Wax on, wax off is? It’s your breath. Innnnnnnnnn and ouuuuuuuttttttt he said, gesturing the rise and fall with his hands. I don’t know what it was- the nurturing from this quirky sweet man, or the nostalgia of a 90’s movie from my youth- but my eyes filled with tears.

In and out. I can do this. 


Dory might have needed to swim- but friends- We need to Just keep Breathing. 


Life gets hard. And easier and harder and easier. I never fully recognize a hard until an easy part makes me realize - I think I can let go for a minute. Having shoulder surgery strangely a month ago, filled me with gratitude for all the parts that still work. I was kicking ass and healing through my own hard work and the hands of my awesome Physical Therapists. What a gift it is to heal- because sometimes when you are in the middle of pain, you are afraid you will always feel this way. Some people don't get to heal.


But then two weeks ago, an unfamiliar deep ache filled both of my shoulders. A feeling that felt like my knee arthritis. And a headache Advil wouldn’t touch and one that wouldn’t go away. There was one Saturday right before it rained that I mostly just stayed in bed. I'm tired of pain. Tired tired tired. I motored through because that’s what we do- right? No sick days. 


Grey wouldn’t let me help him brush his teeth the other night. And trying to floss his teeth was a nightmare for him and me. After Parker’s 3 1/2 hour dental surgery last week while under anesthesia at the hospital, I’ve realized the half ass brushing won’t cut it long term- so it’s time for some short term pain of desensitization. Grey will have this done in June. 



Before

After. 4 extractions, root canals, crowns, sealant and a cleaning. Poor Parker.

Grey held his mouth shut. Or screamed in my face at the top of his lungs. There was toothpaste all over. He's almost as tall as I am, and it’s so different from toddler melt downs. He started to elbow me in the arms, near my shoulders and I almost came undone. STOP! STOP! STOP! I yelled louder than appropriate for a kid having his own sensory nightmare right then. So I finished flossing and just held all that anger and guilt in. Realizing- this all adds up. It stays in our bones until we find a way to get it out. 

Yesterday I went to my Orthopaedic office to have my shoulders looked at. I had already diagnosed myself with Glenohumeral arthritis and had been researching the grueling surgery of shoulder replacement. A surgery most travel for, because Fresno isn't the best place for it. How will I take care of the boys after a shoulder replacement surgery? How will I get TWO done?! How will I drive them to therapy as Michael goes back to work? As soon as the Doc walked in and asked, "What's going on with your shoulders?" I let him know my diagnosis. He looked confused. Glenohumeral arthritis? I don't think so - he said with sincerity as he scoured the computer through my chart- your surgery report on your left shoulder showed a little inflammation on your glenohumoral joint- but not arthritis. Your joint space looks great. He pulls up my right shoulder xray- I see a small bone spur- but nothing I find concerning. 

I'LL TAKE IT! I told him relived. The vision of my double full shoulder replacement surgery turning into dust. However, there is pain there, so he said we could do another set of ultra sound guided steroid/cortisone injections into my shoulder- which should clear up whatever it was that inflamed. He wasn't concerned because he is awesome and super chill and can read xrays. I like to know the names of what I have/what is happening and I need a short and long term plan. I'm learning to be more like him. Y'all the shoulder is SO COMPLICATED. I can't believe everything it contains and everything it does! 



Here are the movements it's capable of:

Extension

Flexion

Abduction

Adduction

Internal Rotation

External Rotation

God really outdid himself with this one. I'm sorry I forgot to be in awe of it until it broke, God. It is one of the most mobile joints in the body, and contains muscles (like the rotator cuff), tendons, ligaments, three main bones (Scapula, humerus, and the clavicle), and lots more games and prizes. So the older you get, the more its relationship status becomes, "it's complicated" when you have an issue.

I asked if he would also do a trigger point injection for a knot I've had in my upper trap muscle for years. He palpated my trap along the muscle fibers and found it instantly. "Could that be causing my headache?" I ask him. "Absolutely" he responds and puts the marking pen back into his mouth, concentrating on doing the setting up the ultrasound. As soon as he put the needle in the knot, I felt immense pressure on the muscle. If it had been accompanied by music, it would have been a Double Bassoon playing foreboding music as it released. Slowly the pressure escaped as the jelly like fluid exited the syringe and bathed the muscle. The pain of the injection felt good- releasing the pain of the knot. My amazing doc then did both shoulders and I was done. It takes a couple of days for the injections to work completely, so I left the office hopeful. 

As soon as I started to exit the building, I felt a little dizzy, and without warning- I started sobbing. Not a silent tear trickling down my face, but face crumpled up, sniffling sobs in between gulps of air. (Thank God for masks). There was no- "I'm sad, I feel like crying" warning. Just tears. I felt it all trickling out- the accumulation of moments held onto and never released. They turn into actual poison in our bodies. Death and sadness and loss and fear and anger all trickled out. Blood started to flow into the area that hadn't felt it in so long, and I cried.


Such a reminder, that whatever it is- we must, with intention GET IT OUT. It is in our mind and in our body, and there is stays until we get it out. Mine hit a threshold, where writing and praying and exercise and good music could no longer do its job. It needed medical attention. What helps you get it out? Are you making time to do it? I sure hope so, you deserve it.

The first step to releasing pain from within, is just the self awareness that it's there and a want to release it. The goal is to move the energy of emotion through and out the body so we can let it go. We can do that. 


That, and just keep breathing.

So much love,

Chrissy


Parker and I have THIS SONG on repeat. Must listen.


Monday, April 19, 2021

The Long Walk

We are all doing the best we can out here on Earth. 


It's easy to look around and question someone else's seemingly easy life... Easy, yes but fruitful- (never). I try to keep my eyes in my own lane, attempting to achieve my own personal best each day with the tools and circumstances and gifts (and load of crap) I've been given. Keeping my eyes in my own lane without ever losing the ability to empathize with other humans on their own easy, hard, sad, happy grand walk is my intention. Author and Spiritual guru Ram Dass said, "We are all just walking each other home", and I believe that to be true in my core. 

The World vibrates with Civil unrest, the needle of change moves in waves, and much much much too slow. Almost a year ago, a Black man named George Perry Floyd was killed during an arrest after a store clerk alleged he had passed a counterfeit $20 bill in Minneapolis. Derek Chauvin, one of four police officers who arrived on the scene, knelt on Floyd's neck and back for 9 minutes and 29 seconds. While dying on the asphalt surrounded by people, George called out for his Momma. It was gutting. After his death, protests against police brutality, especially towards black people, quickly spread across the United States and internationally. The trial's closing arguments ended today. I pray for justice for his life.

My front row seat into advocating for a marginalized group has taught me so much. Opened my eyes to so much I wish I couldn't see. But I will never ever pretend to know the fear and pain and discrimination our Black brothers and sisters feel daily.  But for some reason, so many white folks do not have the ability to just TRY to imagine what it's like to navigate this confusing world (life is hard!) while also being pushed down by systems that benefit some and hurt others. 

I wish that people could do a ride along with Law Enforcement, and see first hand what it looks like to "Protect and Serve." Police Officers are subjected to violence, firearms, high speed chases, and more. It affects their physical and mental health, as well as their entire family. If it was my job to protect and serve, y'all would be screwed. I couldn't do it. There are lots of good men and women out there doing this often thankless job.

I really wish that white people could spend a day in the body of a Black person, especially a Black Momma or Dad in America today. To see the discrimination (such a shiny word for a sentiment that basically says- you are not as human, or not valued like I am) first hand. To have "The Talk" -the right of passage where Black children get warnings and lessons from elders about how to avoid – and survive – police encounters. That's outside of all the other talks (drugs, sex) all parents need to have with their children. It doesn't matter your socioeconomic status or your profession- if you are Black, you are at risk. Once you become a parent- your worry and anxiety about the world, and your child's well being keeps you up at night. Add being Black to that- no matter how hard we try, we can not imagine how much harder that makes it.

This is not up for debate. This isn't a differing opinion. There are so many racists in this world. I've seen their comments on Social Media come out tenfold since the killing of Floyd. People I thought I knew or respected saying awful discriminatory or willfully ignorant things. Yes, there are SO many good cops who DO NOT deserve to be lumped into into the negative and defective group of Law Enforcement, and there are also SO MANY Black people who are good and don't deserve to be treated poorly (at best), discriminated against or murdered. 

So I speak up. Because a system that protects me can also harm others, and that's not ok. This goes so far beyond Law Enforcement issues, but it's one of the most pressing ones. And because I've seen that it's lonely, and terrifying to be on the oppressed end of a system that helps other kids, and hurts mine. And so so so many times I saw the blissfully unaware going about their lives and I wondered- Why don't YOU speak up? Your quiet is so LOUD. 

It's easy to forget that we are all just walking each other home. It's not right for some to have to walk alone.

Almost three weeks ago, I had surgery on my left shoulder (Distal Clavicle Excision- basically cutting off some of my collar bone because it was jamming into my shoulder). I had my right one done in 2014 when Grey was 5 and Parker was about 3. Michael left for a work trip three days after my surgery, and I don't know how I survived. I didn't regard healing as my job- I saw it as something that was getting in the way of the boys crazy therapy schedules and our life. I remember trying to schedule Physical Therapy in the short windows of time I had free. I would be there, watching the clock the whole time until the time I had to go to pick up or drop off. 

But this time, I've been healing like it's my job. Because age has taught me that if it's broke, you GOTTA fix it (or three more things will break). Because time and aches and pains have actually taught me to honor and treat my body with awe and kindness and gratitude for what it can do. 

Luckily this bruise didn't feel nearly as bad as it looked.

Just that mental shift alone (from thinking- this is a burden to -this is a blessing) has made me truly heal so much faster. Physical Therapy for stretching and strength, Arnica for bruising, advil, tumeric and ice for inflammation, Acupuncture, a diet rich in protein, fruits and vegetables, 100+ ounces of water a day, moving my body daily, and no booze. It feels good- like purpose. Like controlling the parts I can control. 


I know, he looks 15 here. 

Parker turned TEN this week. For once, I'm at a loss for words. He makes the hard parts of life so much easier. He makes the walk fun.



We and sang with my Mom and sisters and the cousins in Missouri. I miss my family.


I can't believe it's been a decade since I met newborn baby him. Every year with him is my favorite. He's creative and hilarious and just so fully embraces being his Parkery self. He's obsessed with making videos, and Thomas the Train. He's as wreck-less and dangerous as ever.

Life goes by so fast, but we don't have to. Today, take your time, go slow, and count your blessings. 







Monday, March 29, 2021

connect the dots

 Today was ordinary and average in the most magical of ways. Hope wasn't out of arms reach, and the daily mundane had a sugar coated glow. I feel like it's the beginning of something new. A new world. a new time, a new day. There will always be struggle, but hopefully nothing that compares to what the last year of house arrest has felt like. 


God will use the very thing that's meant to destroy you to deliver you. 1 Samuel 17:1


You are a warrior. (So am I.) We've woken up every day and breathed in and out all day long. We got shit done. Felt so many feelings. And as a parent of little(ish) ones, we are responsible for their feelings too. Sometimes it's too much to carry. You feel your familiar frenamies- guilt and anxiety and exhaustion walk beside you and feel like a failure. 


But you aren't. You are a freaking Warrior. Don't you forget it for one second. Say it with me- (First, deep breath, jaw unclenched, shoulders down, eyes relaxed, genuine smile on your face)- I AM A WARRIOR.


I stumbled on some old words of mine. We will call them vintage, because vintage always sounds cooler than old. I want to share them with you...


This is life. A big old connect the dots. We are always in the middle of connecting all these little speckles, leaping to the next one like a frog on a lily pad. That is a beautiful, good thing. It means we are alive. It means we are trying. Frequently there are many things that happen to us in life that don't make any sense. We don't know where the heck we are headed to next, and we are desperately and urgently trying to see, to know, to control the whole big picture. We want to see the image before the dots are connected. The image will be revealed to you completely, but not a second before it's supposed to. Don't think about the final picture, just look for the next number and make your move. Maybe it's time we felt curious and giddy about our own future, instead of anxious and uncertain. 



Tonight we went to the school park down the street from our house for the first time in over a year. 








I forgot about the past year, and I forgot about thinking about tomorrow and forever. I just marinated in the right now, and it's a recipe I highly, highly recommend. It's extra good if you can add some, almost feels like Summer sunshine to the mix. 


The boys were so happy, and their happy also turned into mine. This is life. And for today, that felt ok.


So much love,

Chrissy

Friday, March 19, 2021

nostalgia lane

Lately I’ve been shocked by my middle-aged ness. When? How?! I grocery shop like it's a hobby, and I vacuum daily. I have arthritis and wrinkles. (WHO AM I and HOW DID I GET HERE SO FAST?) My joints and crows feet swear it’s no joke. But right now, as I ponder life and time and purpose and the future and the past- I swear I’m 20 as I listen to The Counting Crows. 




I am colorblind

Coffee black and egg white

Pull me out from inside

I am ready, I am ready, I am ready,

I am taffy stuck and tongue tied

Stutter shook and uptight

Pull me out from inside

I am ready, I am ready, I am ready,

I am fine

(Color Blind, Counting Crows)

Sometimes nostalgia is looking at the past, and desperately wishing something about it was still true. Sometimes the present feels deeply achey and empty. 

But sometimes nostalgia just feels achey, in a way that almost feels like the good kind of sadness. Do you know what I mean?  The line between happy and sad is thin and razor sharp at times. Sometimes nostalgia is just a look back with honor and grief that it’s over, because it was so good- (even the not good parts), even though life now can feel right and good.

If I’m being honest, I do both, but it’s mostly the latter. I love my life now, but boy those other parts of this ride were so much fun, and over so fast. Sometimes I long for old circumstances, and sometimes I long for the me I was back then. 

Lately, I've been traveling down Nostalgia Lane more than ever, yet I don't know why. A "This is your life" type review. Honoring the hard parts, and simmering in the good ones. Maybe the Pandemic has just given me way too much time to think think think. (Do you feel me?)

Driving through Nostalgia Lane is normal, but staying there is a recipe for sadness. All that we have is today, and if you are stuck living in the past, you lose today. I’m realizing I’m the only one who can pull me out from inside. Gimmicks and platitudes don’t work. I must be ready, I must acknowledge the feelings as real and ok, and I must let them go (SIGH).

Most days are unremarkable. But those unremarkable days combined equal the majority of our life. So I soak up the goodness when it’s good, and I ride the wave and try and hold my breath when it’s bad. Saturday afternoon Parker and I drove around. The air was 65 degrees warm, the Counting Crows were on, and the windows were down. I had an Iced Chai Latte from Starbuck and the wind was whipping through my hair -and the ache of nostalgia was gone. Yes, here I am, I realized. Age is just your body's number, I am every decade I've ever lived til now. I felt like me- Do you ever feel like it’s so easy to forget you? 

Each decade in your life is like a good friend that had to go away. All your favorite foods, where you lived, what you wore, what you do with your time, all your private jokes- gone as you move on. Move on- because life is moving on. Of course we would miss that friend. We’d sugar coat the hard parts, and in hindsight realize where they strengthened and sculpted us. And no matter how many new good friends we meet- (new years and decades we are lucky to live) and no matter how happy you are- it doesn’t mean that old good friend wouldn’t pop into your mind now and then with an ache and longing so real you can taste its sweetness.

Looking back at college, I remember falling in love for the first time, making amazing friends, growing up, taking a full load of classes, and working my ass off at a Restaurant.




I remember tanning beds being my National past time, and pizza and cheeseburgers being by main food group, (as evidenced by the size of my ass in this picture- I'm far right- and this was the first time Mom Jeans were in). I remember the dorm and making new friends and smoking Marlborough lights like it was my job that I was damn good at it. Listening to The End of the Road by Boyz II Men, and Whitney Houston (I Will Always Love You), and Whomp There it is (Tag Team) and Kenny Rogers and Prince. I made a special mixed tape just for College-ha! It wasn't perfect, but it was beautiful and real and boy do I miss it.

That’s the friend I miss. And time is often a happy story teller, because now I forget not having money and having to drop out of my sorority because I couldn't afford it, and working until midnight and getting up for a 7am class. I forget the loneliness of that first love boyfriend being isolating and emotionally abusive boyfriend and I forget that I had an eating disorder that owned me for a few years. No. I don’t want to go back to that time. (Well, maybe for one day), but my heart sure bleeds from the beauty of it all. 

I could wax philosophical for each decade. Each "friend", because it all mattered to the me of then, and the me I am now. 

Our bodies have an age, but our soul is every age we've ever been and ever will be. And nostalgia is just a reminder, that even the bumpy parts of the ride are beautiful, and the hard parts usually don't feel as hard when it's over. 


I am covered in skin

No one gets to come in

Pull me out from inside

I am folded and unfolded and unfolding

I am colorblind

Coffee black and egg white

Pull me out from inside

I am ready, I am ready, I am ready,

I am fine

I am fine

I am fine

(Color Blind, Counting Crows)

Monday, March 1, 2021

Keep Breathing

What our world values and doesn’t value is painful beyond description. 

Seeing the way my 80-year-old Dad was treated in a Rehab Facility broke something in me I don’t think can ever fully be fixed. Maybe I was na├»ve before. Seeing your Dad being treated like an inconvenience or a burden was painful. He was a prideful, independent man, and it was breaking him. We assume and accept the elderly will be in pain or die, so the urgency to find answers for pain or sickness can feel gone. People blanket them as all the same, when each person has their own incredible story, but so few stop to get to know it. Sometimes at the end, all we have our our stories.

I feel a theme in my life, and lessons I feel God is desperately trying to teach me. The lesson about my Dad was a recurring lesson with my boys. But I didn’t want this lesson, I tell God- because it is much too painful to acknowledge and live. The lesson of the world is this- We all have an outside value- things that make you more valuable to the world. The following is a list of things that make you more valuable to the world:

White

Thin

Rich

Nice house

Nice car

Expensive possessions 

Educated

Fancy job

Advanced degrees

Beautiful

Able mind and body 

Athletic

Talented 

Young

Important Job (Athlete, Doctor, Celebrity).


None of this is new news to anyone. It certainly wasn’t to me. Until I had two sons with autism, I didn’t give a whole lot of thought to it. (That’s called privilege- not knowing the extent of discrimination affecting someone because it doesn’t affect me.) I never stopped to really think about the people who the world usually does NOT value. They are people that most likely are:


Less value:

The Elderly

Not white

Black

People with Disabilities

Homosexual

Overweight 

Unhealthy

Uneducated 

Poor 

Not attractive by traditional standards


The less ticks you have on List One, and the more ticks you have on Two, the less valuable your life is according to society. That’s so messed up but it’s true. You know it and so do I. But knowing it, and seeing it is so different. 


It’s what I’ve experienced through my boys, and the amount of sadness and pain this registers in my heart cannot be adequately described with words. There’s been many times it’s leveled me, and left me in bed for 24 hours. A truth I want to unsee. A reality.


Sometimes they are bothers- inconvenient nuisances. Sometimes they are invisible. They are forgotten without consequences. Excluded. That is not the exception- that is the norm. It can happen in friend groups, in neighborhoods, in schools, in jobs, in clubs, and in everything that connects people in life. You get weekly, and sometimes daily reminders of this. My boys autism has opened my eyes to this. But it's what all people in marginalized groups have experienced and experience today.

I wear a bracelet that says, “Change the World.” Some days it lights a fuel in my soul. But after years of trying to change the rules of inequality, I think of Ingrid Michaelson’s song, “Keep Breathing” when she says, “I want to change the world, instead I sleep”. Sometimes it just hurts less to sleep.



To me, they are perfect






I am learning that loss isn’t just a part of life-it’s a requirement. We can’t have happy without sad. We can’t have high without low. We can’t have living without losing. Without death. It’s a lesson we know in theory, but it still knocks your socks off. And we can’t have equality without first suffering from inequity. I don’t know why they are the rules, but they are.

So, I fight to show you the beauty in my boys, and ask that you reconsider what matters to you in the world. We all say we love and accept people who are different. And I think we mean it. It's so easy to love people in words, but so much harder to do so in action. Because there's usually an unspoken parenthesis after saying "I love and accept all people." A parenthesis that says- as long as I am not disrupted or inconvenienced. As long as you follow my same morale compass. As long as you don't look different. As long as I don't have to invite you to my birthday party or my house. As long as I do not have to hire you. As long as I don't have to sit next to you. As long as I understand why you do what you do. As long as you do not make me feel uncomfortable. As long as you don't interrupt my status quo.

I’m so lucky that God opened my eyes to this pain- and it doesn’t just affect my boys- it’s everyone that must fight extra hard- the people on list two. It’s like a deeper, more beautiful part of the world I didn’t see before. Sometimes I mistakenly think it's a burden, but really- it's a gift.

Rumi said, “Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.” I realize I still have a lot to learn about marginalized groups. I have a lot to learn and do. 


I will just have to start with me, and hope it’s contagious.


I want to change the world, but instead I sleep

I want to believe in more than you and me

But all that I know is that I’m breathing

All I can do is keep breathing

All we can do is keep breathing

Ingrid Michaelson- Keep Breathing