Tattooing is spiritual. Sometimes representing a transformation in our lives or an acknowledgment of our connectedness. I have only one tattoo but it is vital to me. I recently placed it on my left rib cage near my heart to guide me on my journey forward.
The idea behind my particular design has been tugging at me for a decade. When I first visited Ashland, Oregon in 2010 I knew that this would be the place where I would have it done; and upon meeting the artist I knew instantly that it would be he that did the work. Despite all of this the timing still wasn’t right. I had much to discover about myself before I would be ready.
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.
“I can’t make those two realities – what I’ve lost and what I’ve found – fit together in some tidy pattern of divine causality. I just have to hold them on the one hand and on the other, just like that”
Today my daughter retweeted your tweet which simply said “wonder what it’s like to not have divorced parents.”
Sometimes it’s lovely. Sparkly in fact; like Christmas. But, only if the parents get along, truly love one another, put their children first, raise them in true partnership and are independently creative, intelligent, hardworking, decent people. And in those rare cases everyone is at the breakfast table together. Mom and Dad may even hold hands at the softball game or laugh at a private joke. Spring Break means a trip to the beach because money isn’t as hard as it is for a divorced family. You are never in the middle unless it is Friday movie night and they are fighting over who gets to cuddle with you. They are both at the concerts, and graduations, and major events like the first time you fall off your bike. You can hear one downstairs while the other is tucking in you. It is lovely.
"Send my hero my love"
When life gets too difficult to bear, I rely on Truth.
I know. I can’t crumple it like grungy money in my pocket that would keep groceries in my refrigerator. And it doesn’t smell like the lavender on my pillow during the few more hours of sleep a different job that didn’t require 12 a day would afford me. It certainly isn’t as immediately available as the oxygen that would come from living free from the person who promised to spend his life in pursuit of my ruin. It isn’t warm and pliable like sand around my toes at the Outer Banks; a feeling I have to forget during this chapter of my life while I put my kids through college. And it doesn’t replace the sensation and strength on my left side that used to allow me to climb a simple set of stairs without help which, for the first time in public today, I was unable to do.
Nonetheless, Truth is my ‘go-to’ and is unalterable by anybody or anything ~ lies, desire, effort, manipulation, time. The Truth is simply the Truth. Whether or not one person knows it or everyone does, it’s still the Truth.
I Should Have
Like most everything else thrown her way my daughter, Mackenzie, has handled the news of Ed’s death with wisdom and acceptance beyond her young years. While she misses him terribly she also knows that this happened with purpose and benefit we do not yet understand. This is the very same wisdom that brought Ed into our lives in the first place.
Mack had a catastrophic stroke in the lunchroom at school when she was 14 years old. Face drooping, arm and leg hanging, speech impaired, head throbbing, life-changing stroke. I will never get over the sight of her broken body and her last audible words that day, “Please make it stop, Momma.”
Gingerroot and Dragon Fruit
There is a letter sitting on a shelf just above my desk. This is the very same desk where I sit safely every day to work, or write, or help my kids with their homework. It is the desk where I now enjoy the freedom to create which wasn’t possible before; and listen to my children’s laughter again. This letter sits there with his name clearly visible on the front of the envelope. And yet I never sent it.
I should have.
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.
Let's take her to the Lake...
The women who fortify me gather ‘round like a virtual pashmina ~ never at the same time yet always ~ and they whisper their support through the years as a strong wind at my back pushing me forward and a gentler headwind keeping me upright.
It comes in forms unexpected that rush about with an easy chatter. A bag of groceries and Smithwick’s on my front step when I have been crying all day and am too weary to shop. Soft fingertips through my hair but without the expectation. Salty chicken soup that makes my home smell like home. “Drive by hugs.” Butterfly bushes to welcome me to a new chapter. Safely guarded childhood memories of four – singing sharp, the LifeSaver Game, and buckwheat pancakes after a night in contraband Jordache jeans. Kindness in the absence of judgment when my legs won’t carry me as fast or as far on a run together. Frosting on our noses at every black tie occasion. Pasta with fresh basil and none of the effort while I nurse my newborn twins in front of the bay window. The courageous and honest question I should have answered honestly before venturing down the aisle.
Olfactory Day in Review
True girlfriends can’t always be there when you need them. Sometimes they don’t even know that you do. But, the very second that they either suspect or realize that you are in trouble they step in with an earnest desire to support or at least to understand; and they most certainly never minimize you or set you aside for convenience.
Tide and bounce on my pillow case smell of morning and night at the same time. Tugging somehow to pull me both in and out of the day.
Coffee beans. Banished before. Necessary now. Three weeks of illness make it difficult to wake. A sick day ahead ‘to rest’.
Newsprint on my hands smells of braggios ink impatiently screaming the day’s news and the oily smell of ‘wash me’.
Joy dishwashing soap with lemon.