My Daughter and Her Nipples
Small Town, Small Life
This is my daughter; and those are her nipples.
In fairness, let me give you a minute to process that.
Yup. My daughter.
Yup. Her nipples.
I’ll just wait here quietly while you rant, drool, hurl, or whatever other judging and/or inappropriate response you wish to express.
Okay. Finished now? Because time’s up. Let’s get real.
The Beauty of Ashland
I have two words to say to the woman who, at our 30th High School Reunion, pulled me aside specifically to say “I can’t believe you, of all people, ended up in this small town with such a small life.”
I am certain that by “small” you actually meant any one of a number of synonyms: cramped, limited, narrow, paltry, scanty, insufficient, piddling, or stunted. The venom in your voice suggested that you did. I don’t know why you said it, but I’m not offended.
I do not know how to describe this place to honor it properly. Or how to ever repay it for the kindness and healing it has shown me. But, I will do my best with my simple words so that, even for one second, you can ‘feel’ it, too.
Peace flags faded from sunlight hang askew from porch dormers. And the uneven steps prop bright colored pots full of chive, dianthus and chamomile which people pluck directly to season their meals; even the restaurants. Every porch is inviting with a swing and creations by local artisans crafted from metal and retimbered wood; punctuated with mosaic bird baths and resident blue jays who live out loud.
Pollen gardens invite me to lie in the grass in the shade of the nearby Redwoods and the bees are more interested in the flowers than in me so I just listen to the buzz of their wings; to the buzz of real living happening all around me.
Cornfields and Character
This ‘balance thing’ is difficult.
• Live with intention – but let things flow.
• Focus – and breathe.
• Change – and accept.
• Feel whatever you feel – and then feel gratitude for it (including those things that hurt).
• Understand your wholeness – outside of your story.
For me, these things are more challenging than learning to write with my non-dominant hand. Or mastering a yoga balance pose on shifting sand. Or apologizing (particularly when I know I am the one who is wrong). Or listening patiently when I have something to say. Or being open to examining myself ~ truly examining myself ~ and then being willing to change.
Putting Color into the World
It is unprecedented to have a fast pitch softball team remain intact for six years. Unprecedented. But, for every summer weekend for these last six years we have met in remote places like Hamburg, Saugerties, Cheektowaga, Cicero and Horseheads which are tired, sleepy towns outside of ‘bigger’ cities like Buffalo, Syracuse or Albany. Sometimes we travel further. Cedar Point, OH. Ocean City, MD. But, for the most part, we are beckoned to a complex of softball fields past the local John Deere Tractor Supply or the Feed & Seed. If we’re lucky, adjacent to a nearby soft serve ice cream stand complete with a large but faded hand-painted cone on the exterior of the tiny building. But, there isn’t much else. Just cornfields. And yet, we all look forward to it because we know that we are privately witnessing something exceptional.
More Than Enough
People have often asked me what I do. But, I could not find a way to honor all of who I am with a short answer to that simple question. Until I realized that in absolutely everything I do I put color into the world.
Gingerroot and Dragon Fruit
Sometimes, I feel helpless. I wonder how I am doing as a Mom. My divorce is beyond hostile and I have so little financial means. I often feel as if I am failing my children somehow. I know that I work as hard as I possibly can to support two households and I provide the model for what a healthy, loving home should be. But, there are four beautiful people relying on me. So, sometimes, I just feel helpless.
And then a gem like this surfaces. When I asked Mackenzie today what the greatest lesson I have taught her is she instantaneously produced this letter that she keeps on her phone. Frankly, I had forgotten that I wrote it; but it’s beautiful and made me realize what a rock solid Mom I am every single day. With Mackenzie’s permission, I am sharing it.
As it turns out, I am not helpless at all. I may not be able to give them everything, but I give them this. And that is more than enough.
2,040 Days to Simmer
Sometimes I don’t have money for food. There. I said it.
Society says I should be embarrassed by this and, the truth is, I am. I’m “supposed” to be getting ahead. And I’m “supposed” to have a huge nest egg for college. And I’m “supposed” to be able to pay for new running shoes or hitting lessons or a summer vacation. But, instead I drive a 10 year old minivan with 203K miles and I worry every month that another health crisis will put my family under for good. And my guess is that I am not the only one.
In 2011, I lost one of the best friends I have ever had. She made me laugh until I hurt. I lost her because I told her that her life was within her own control and pointed out that she was making choices ~ simple choices ~ that were contributing to her circumstance…just as we all do. I learned the hard way myself long ago that the only way to direct my future was to take responsibility for my present and the part I played in getting there. We are not powerless if we take responsibility. She hated this (and apparently me) and stopped speaking to me entirely. I miss her. If I had it to do all over again knowing this would be the outcome…I would tell her the very same thing. I love her that much.
This notion of choices came up in a very personal way for me this week as my plane was approaching Rochester for landing after 10 days in Spain and 4 more in NYC. We approached over Lake Ontario which does not look nearly as polluted from up above but slowly into view came the factory smoke stacks, and the lookalike row houses. I could hear audible boring reaching into the sky waiting to choke the life out of me. Home? This is my home?