Mar 262014
 

The Path

  1. There is a path. It looks like this:
    The Path

    All the places we go when the path gets too rocky and exhausting and brutal and beautiful are dead end detours. If you take these detours you are not bad, but you are wasting your time and energy. Come back to the path. There’s no other way.
  2. You will never find your perfect life “balance” on the path for the same reason you will never find a unicorn on the path – because these things don’t exist. Forget unicorns and balance. If you were perfectly balanced- you’d never have to take any ones hand to steady yourself, and that would be a tragedy. There is no solid ground on the path – so don’t hold your breath till you find it. Breathe deeply and keep moving forward awkwardly. You can make it down the whole path imbalanced and flailing. When you fall, give thanks for the opportunity to rest. While you’re down, send love to every other path walker who’s down with you at that moment. Then get back up. Or crawl. Crawling is encouraged and respected. Path running is fine, but crawling is much better. Crawlers travel with their eyes close to the ground – so they never miss an inch of the beautiful, rocky path. Crawlers get less glory but learn the most about the path’s terrain.
  3. Your fellow travelers are your teachers and students. Your relationships with them will be the hardest part of path-walking. To avoid humbling oneself into the role of student and courag-ing oneself into the role of teacher – many try to walk the path alone. But the path was not designed for solo treks. The path was designed to teach Love. Whenever you introduce your true self to a fellow path traveler and listen and speak and learn and stay with her for a while- that is called Love. Walking With and Staying With messy fellow path travelers for any length of time is Love. Love is the most brutal and beautiful part of path traveling. Participate. Learn from and teach every path traveler you encounter. Exchanging love with fellow path travelers is how we gather the wisdom and strength we’ll need to overcome the next obstacle on our path. Note – You do not teach by teaching- you teach by loving. Be humble and courageous.
  4. You always have enough strength and courage and wisdom. You always have exactly what you need for your daily trek. Sometimes you won’t believe this- because you will encounter stretches of the path that are treacherous and terrifying, but if you give up in the middle of those stretches – if you sit down permanently in them- then you have to live there. Don’t live in the dark, scary parts. Trust and keep moving.  There will be a clearing soon and you will feel the warm sun again. The One who created your path is outside of time, so your life is an epic movie that has already been scripted. Maktub - it’s already been written. You’ve already made it. So don’t plan or worry – your job is to Trust Your Path and participate fully and notice as much as you possibly can and keep on moving.
  5. Don’t ever become proud or ashamed. Don’t become proud that you are further along than many travelers or ashamed that you are far behind others. Your position on the path relative to other travelers has nothing to do with your strength or stamina or wisdom or cunning. We are all in different places because we all have different entry points to the path. Where you are and where everyone else is along the path is none of your concern or business. Let that go. You are exactly where you are supposed to be, always, and so is everyone else. The portion of the path you wake up to today was written for you. Everyone is EXACTLY where she is supposed to be. You are not your own or anyone else’s path-planner. You are just a traveler. You just keep moving. Trust the Path. Follow in the footsteps of a billion other mighty travelers who have walked and run and crawled the path before you. Fear not. Carry On, Warrior.

Mar 242014
 

Bedtime

I let Craig handle last night’s round of “Whack-a- Mole” (bedtime) and settled into the couch at 7:45. It’s like my victory lap –  that couch settling.

Day is done, gone the son, gone the girls and the the fights and the whiiiiines. All is calm- Bravo ooooon- sleep is nigh….

One of the myriad problems with this parenting gig is that they save the hardest part for last. BEDTIME. Bedtime should be in the morning – when we’re fresh and kind and sweet –  and decent parenting still seems like a very real possibility. But no, the hardest parts – dinner and baths and bedtime – arrive at the end of the day- when we have nothing left. When the truth is, we are counting the minutes. Counting the moments until no one is the boss of us anymore. Until we can sink into that couch, book, internet, or glass of wine – whatever our victory lap includes.

It doesn’t help that in our mommy minds, we have this idea that bedtime is supposed to be the most peaceful, loving time of day. That we are supposed to send our lovies off to dream land with songs, stories, soft, sweet voices and strokes of their cherubic heads. Sometimes bedtime happens this way for us. Not often.

Each of our kids gets a story at bedtime. They never pick a good one, they pick the longest one.

And the little one wants to “help read” her book. So, let’s see. It takes her about six minutes to sound out each word, and so if the book is one hundred words, well, I don’t specialize in math but I am telling you that I am stuck in that room FOREVER. It feels like I will be reading that book with Amma until I die. And I know I’m supposed to be SUPPORTING her reading. I mean it’s good – this is good stuff, this wanting to read. I was a reading teacher, I know this is GOOD stuff about which I am supposed to be EXCITED. But for me, exhaustion trumps excitement every single time. And I can’t help but notice that the ONLY TIME SHE CARES THIS MUCH ABOUT READING IT HERSELF IS AT BEDTIME. When she can hold me hostage and stay up six minutes later with every sounded-out-word.  And so while I’m supposed to be thinking sweet thoughts, all I can think is: OH MY GOD. I AM GOING TO DIE. I AM GOING TO JUMP RIGHT OUT OF MY SKIN. YOU SUCK AT READING. YOU SUCK YOU SUCK YOU SUCK. PLEASE GOD. PLEASE MAKE THIS BOOK..just..just …DISAPPEAR so I can take my victory lap. I DESERVE MY VICTORY LAP! 

But No. Nope. No help from above. So it goes on. And on.  “S….o…….soooooooooo  t-h- e….tuuuuu—-huuuuuu—-eeeeeeeeee?” says Amma. I am held hostage for forty five minutes. When she is finally done. I decide that after that debacle there is NO WAY that the Universe also expects me to sing the “song” that is also part of her “bedtime routine.” I say goodnight and pray she’ll forget.

But they never forget. They PRETEND to forget ONLY so that they have another excuse to pop out of their rooms and remind you of what you forgot.

So three minutes later, when I think I’m in the clear, here comes my littlest mole. “You forgot my song,” she says. And I stare at her for a long second and admit to myself two things.

1. She is unbelievably cute and precious and one day I will miss these visits, especially when she starts  sneaking out of her room to party with her friends instead of to find me to sing to her.

2. Doesn’t matter. I’m going to lose it.

And so I sing her song. But I sing it like an insane person. Eyes wide, teeth clenched, just a little too loud. No sweetness. Like a robot. “You. Are. My. Sun. SHINE. My. Only. Sun. SHINE. I sing it like there are implied curse words between every lyric.

And then. Then I am done. It is time. I am a Freedom Fighter and I have fought long and hard for my OWN FREEDOM and it is here. Now is the time I raise my mommy arms in the air and breathe deeply and eat cookies alone. My hand is on the child’s door knob. I can see I can feel I can hear I can TASTE those couch cushions. And then. Amma speaks again. I freeze.

Mooooooommy. Tell me about God.

NO. SHE DIDN’T. OH NO, SHE DIDN’T.

WHY DOES EVERY KID BECOME A FREAKING THEOLOGIAN AND NATURALIST AND INQUIRING MIND ABOUT WORLD ISSUES AT BEDTIME????  I THINK WE KNOW WHY. Oh, yes. I think we know why. Because there is a secret right of passage we don’t know about. When they are babies, some older kid at the playground sneaks a book into their strollers called “BEDTIME HOSTAGE QUESTIONS: A Treasury of Inquiries Yo Mama Will Feel Too Guilty Not To Answer.” On the back cover it reads: “Guaranteed to buy you 10 extra minutes each night or your money back.”

But I know the drill. I KNOW THIS DRILL. AND I LOVE GOD, SURE. I love teaching kids about God- I’m a freaking Sunday School teacher for Christ’s sake (literally). BUT GOD LOVES ME, TOO. AND GOD WANTS ME ON THE COUCH NOW SO EVERYONE IN MY HOUSE CAN LIVE TO DIE ANOTHER DAY.

And so I look back at Amma and say-”Honey, I’d love to talk to you about God. If you are still interested tomorrow during YOUR TV TIME WE WILL CHAT. HOW ‘BOUT THAT?”  ON YOUR TIME, SISTER. Ba- BAM. HOW YOU LIKE ME, NOW- AMMA????

She gets it. She finally goes to sleep. They know when mommy’s done. When I start gesturing like a cage fighter instead of a mama, they know it’s time. It’s not pretty, but it’s effective. I am Glinda the Good Witch until 7:45 and then at 7:46 it’s nothing but green faces, warts, cackles, and threats. And often that’s the best I can do.

So last night as I waited for Craig to whack the last mole –  I half listened to the bedroom doors re-open and the typical mole-y excuses –  “I can’t sleep because my elbow hurts!” “I need ICE COLD water, not reg-a-lar water” “My closet doors are open.” There’s an elephant shadow on my window.”  Whack- Whack-Whack- Whack.  Nothing new. The moles are not too creative tonight, I thought .  But then – I hear a door open and one appears to say to poor Craig- mallet in hand- sitting against the wall in the hallway – “I can’t sleep because my finger smells because I keep scratching my bottom.”

Hmm. Not bad, I thought, and I giggled, because it’s funny when it’s not your turn. Craig says, “Okay. Go wash your hand.” I hear the water run, hallway waddling, child returns to her room. Two minutes later, door re-opens, child-mole re-appears. “My finger still….” “GO WASH YOUR HAND AGAIN,” Craig says with that very even, controlled tone that indicates the Whack -a-Mole machine is about to BUST. Water starts, child- mole slowly creeps back to her room. A minute later, door re-opens. Mole child says, “My finger still…” THEN STOP SCRATCHING YOUR BUTT. AND STOP SMELLING YOUR FINGER! OR PUT IT UNDER YOUR PILLOW. HOLD YOUR BREATH. WHATEVER IT TAKES. JUST GO. TO. SLEEP!

Mole child gets it. She is out of quarters. Daddy’s broke. Machine is done for the day.

No more doors open.

Craig comes downstairs.

He joins me with tea and House of Cards for our victory lap. He’s asleep within ten minutes.

All Moles Wacked. Me and my cookies and quiet. Glinda is back.

Carry On, Warriors.

Love,
The Worst Bedtime Family in the History of the Whole Entire Universe

Mar 202014
 
From the first page of Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed

From the first page of Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed

I feel a little stirring lately. I’m feeling CURIOUS about something – and curiosity is the universe’s invitation.

I think I’m ready to dip my toe into the waters of international poverty activism. I’m nervous about it, though. Since I don’t know what the hell I‘m doing.  I’ll definitely say all the wrong things. And because every time I try to be an activist of any kind I always prove to be more of a distractivist. It’s always: OH MY GOD THE PAIN THE DEVASTATION I AM GOING TO DO ALL THE THINGS TO SAVE THE WORLD FOREVER AND EVER AND OH LOOK, A BIRD! I’M THIRSTY. I should go to Target. NEW PILLOWCASES!  Sigh.

Still. Even so. This seems like the Next Right Thing, so I’m going to start asking questions and paying attention: slowly and careful and with great humility and all of my ridiculousness and ignorance and distraction and privilege. And then I’m just going to occasionally read and share stories about what I learn with you. I’m a storyteller, so I’ll just start activating that way.

To be very clear –  I know you and I know you’re ALREADY DOING ENOUGH – too much, likely. So I won’t add anything to your plate. Every once in a while we’ll just read a special story together and  maybe let our hearts and minds open wider and soften deeper. That’s all.  We’re just going to try to let it in. And then maybe miracles will happen or maybe the sharing and reading and opening and softening are miracles enough.

Or maybe it’ll work like this: Maybe we’ll read a story about a guy building schools all over the world or an organization working to get kids clean drinking water and that’ll get us thinking. Maybe instead of succumbing to guilt or despair we’ll choose gratitude instead. And maybe that gratitude will offer us a new perspective on our day. Maybe we’ll take it easier on ourselves because we’ll realize:  Our Kids Are Fine. There are kids who really, really aren’t- but since our kids have food and water and school and at least one person who loves them- they’ll probably be okay. So maybe we’ll relax a little. And that relaxing gratitude will allow us to offer an extra smile to a tired mama or a lonely grandpa or a struggling cashier at the mall later. And maybe that’s enough. So that’s the way we’ll do it- we’ll subtract worries before we add them. This is our kind of activism. It is slow but real. It is small but true.

Here are two heart-opening things for you today. Toe in the water.

Pencils of Promise

1. PENCILS OF PROMISE

I just finished Adam Braun’s book, The Promise of a Pencil. This guy. He builds schools all over the world for otherwise invisible children, you guys. And he writes about his passions and his BIG LOVE for the world so beautifully. He writes about small decisions his parents made raising him that led him down the road of reckless Love he walks everyday. Also he’s gorgeous but that is not valid at all here, Glennon, because he is engaged and you are MARRIED and THIS IS ABOUT THE CHILDREN. For theloveofallthatisholyFocusUpDISTRACTIVIST! Anyway -I believe in Adam and I ordered his book because it’s GOOD, and because he is Good and  because every penny Pencils of Promise makes goes back into the schools Adam builds. He’s a builder of goodness, this guy.

World Water Day

2. WORLD WATER DAY

You know how I feel about water. Water and books. Just give me water in any form and books of any kind and a jar of peanut butter (crunchy, please) and come back in a year to check on me.

Turns out that kids are dying right now all over the globe because they don’t have clean water to drink. We all know it but we don’t say it much because well, it’s all just so excruciatingly impossible to think about. Let’s try something different. Let’s try saying it and see what happens. Let’s resist the instinct to hide from the brutal and remember that ALL THE BEAUTY IN THE WORLD HAPPENS WHEN FOLKS RUN TOWARDS THE BRUTAL INSTEAD OF AWAY.

As a small way of running towards the brutal, I’ve accepted an invitation. A relief and development organization called Church World Service has invited me to come and learn about World Water Day by being part of a live, online discussion they are having about water on Saturday.  A  Google+ “Hangout.” Church World Service is an organization made up of some amazing people doing extraordinary work, so I’ve decided I can do this.  I can Hangout. I can hangout and ask questions of these inspiring people doing the on-the-ground work across the globe to get families clean water to drink. I can be ignorant and distracted and privileged and still activate a little.

And you can join me. The Hangout is scheduled for 7 pm EDT on Saturday, March 22, but you can check it out now and RSVP to let us know that you want to be a part of it, too.  Let’s mark World Water Day by listening and asking questions and learning a little bit about this emergency and what we can do to help. I’ll tell you right now we can’t fix it. But that’s not our job, is it? Our job is to keep our hearts open and soft so that we’ll be ready when the ONE LITTLE THING we CAN DO makes itself known.

Join me for WATER DAY.

That’s all for today. Thanks for getting your toes wet with me.