Saturday, May 18, 2024

decorating your life

I'm always looking to define joy in terms of permanence. Yes, I know joy, she lives here, I want to announce. But joy isn't permanent. She is fragile by design, because life is always playing football inside the house. Sometimes joy breaks. She shatters. She scatters and can't be found. Available to all, guaranteed to none. 


When we die, we won't care how much money we saved or made. We won't care if we have 10 loads of laundry to do still. We won't care if our hair holds two inches of grey roots waiting to be colored. 

We will however care that we knew Joy. We shared her with the people around us. We can aspire that when given the choice, we loved. We held those who needed it. We noticed the gifts that were set out before us in our life. We made sure others felt SEEN. (If you are longing to be SEEN, start by truly seeing another, that's where the magic unfolds). We will hope that we lived our days in the ways that align with our souls work.

This week has filled me with a clarity I am attempting to claw on to, so I don't forget. Spoiler alert: clawing never works. So I remind myself to work harder on letting go, then I do on trying to control. Such good, easy words to read- but much harder to actually live. Joy is here now, so I will take good care of her instead of worrying about when she might leave next.

Whatever comes next, we are ready, you and me. We are ready.

When decorating a house, it has to be done in layers. Sure, you can run to Target and buy all the things and place them just so, but that's not what makes a house a home. That's what staging is- buying all the cute, shiny,souless things and placing them around. It's the highlight reel, because one might look at the picture of that souless decor and think- mine doesn't look all brand new and matching like that. 

They instead think, some of mine has permanent finger prints on it. I bought this on my honeymoon. This is stained.  A corner is broken on this one. There are scratches on it from when my puppy was teething. I found this at a thrift store. I lost one in this set. It doesn't match anything, but my daughter painted it when she was in preschool, and it helps me feel her now that she is away in college. It's dated-but it was my grandmas so I keep it.

The same can be said for rebuilding a life. It's been eight months since we moved from California to Missouri. I knew we would have to register for school, find new  doctors and dentists and pharmacies and grocery stores and basically ALL THE THINGS. But I didn't realize how it would feel to look at my life and see an empty house waiting to be furnished. My voice echo'ed inside it, and it felt hollow. In some ways going out around town when you know no one is freeing. But after time it is achingly lonely. It's a human condition to want to know and be known. I was desperate to go to Target to quickly furnish my life. 

But that's not how life works. At least not the kind of life I want to live inside. There were months over the Winter where I thought we would never get there. When will this feel like home?  I wondered regularly. Shouldn't that have happened by now? When will I make friends? Will I ever make friends? What if no one likes me? the 4th grader inside me asked. My purpose in California was hard core advocacy and intense focus on education for my boys. I didn't need to do this in Missouri- but now what will I do to fuel my soul?

You can't build a life all at once. At least not a good one. You must create little light bulbs. Those tiny little moments when something small just finally clicks into place. 

When I learned it was autism, I wanted that one big fix, one big switch I could flip on- to cure them, or fix it or make it stop. But there is no such thing. Instead what we have is Little Light Bulbs. Small things daily we can do to help them, to meet them where they are.  And although they are not the biggest or brightest of all lights singularly, together, they will light our way. 

This week I realized, there are enough lights on now for my path to be lit. I thought of our old house and our old life in California, and I didn't feel crushing sadness that it was over- I felt joy that it happened. And then I cried, because although that is a welcome change, moving on is still hard. 

Teaching fills my soul (and drains it sometimes! Ha!). I get to be my real, sometimes completely ridiculous self with the kids and it feels like home in my heart.

BONUS: collateral friendships like this GEM of a human and AWESOME Teacher, Mrs. Rose right here! 

My best loves, Jennifer, Angie and their kids. Having friends who have kids with Super Powers is wonderful and sacred stuff. Thank you for adopting me into your friendship!

I spent time with these gals from College, many for the first time in 25 years! It felt like old times in ways I can't explain. Genuine and authentic are musts for me, and these gals have that tenfold. 

Having my Mom, and my sisters and their families near is the best. 

If you are there in a new place, and want to know how to decorate your house? You just have to look for the next little light bulb to turn on. It's hard, sacred, tedious work. It takes putting yourself out there, and diving head first outside of your comfort zone. Making friends as a grown up is harder, but absolutely possible. You can't go to the playground and hope to make a pal like a little kid can, but you can go and try to find the places that make your soul come alive, and then just look around. 

Joy is always right around the corner. Sometimes it just takes time.

So much love,


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