Wednesday, June 22, 2016

A Prayer for the Summer

It's the first day of summer, and I'm worried it is almost over. We have ten weeks, but it feels as if they are slipping away and I haven't dried my eyes yet from yesterday, seeing them run through the door of their school into my arms, when they start to fill up again at the idea of them going back for 42 weeks without me. This is a special summer to me, the last one before our littlest is off to school all day and the house will be quiet for the first time. 76 days with the girls who bring laughter and joy to our home. (76 days with the girls who can fight and yell and cry, but I'll take it.)

I sit in my chair, the one I rocked my babies in that is in the corner of the office where the windows meet and allow the light to pour in, and I pray.

I pray for mornings that linger before the sun burns hot. Mornings where the plants are watered, the coffee stays hot, the girls sleep soundly, and where the only sound is the keys on my keyboard as I write without interruption.

I pray for sunny warm days for the pool. The kind of days where the sun warms the water but leaves their skin sheltered. 

I pray for rain. I pray for rain to keep the grass green and the hydrangeas lush. I pray that it come in those early mornings during the week and that on the weekend, when we are all together, the rain clouds stay far away.

I pray for books, books, and more books. I pray for adventures on the high seas, trips to the Revolutionary War, time spent on the prairie, and exploits with fairies, hobbits, and wizards.

I pray for sand and sunscreen, grass stains on shorts and popsicle juice on t-shirts, and bruises and scrapes. I pray for laughter and screams and songs.

I pray for audio books and Broadway show tunes. For the Story of the World and the latest Magic Tree House. 

I pray for miles to be travelled on bikes, laps to be swum in the pool, and too many trips on roller coasters to count.

I pray for dinners cooked on the grill and eaten outside. For lemonade and remembering to drink enough water. For trips to the ice cream shop, visits to the ice cream truck, and using our chore money for popsicles from the carts in the park that ring their bells.

I pray for minds that expand and hearts that grow.

I pray for friendships formed and memories made.

I pray for safety.

I pray for laptops that stay closed and books that remain opened.

I pray for sidewalk chalk and bubbles.

I pray that when I take them for their back to school haircuts, I don't cry in front of them.

I pray that when it is time to go back, their hearts are filled and they are able to adjust quickly.

And I pray when they remember this summer, as grainy as it may be in the back of their mind, they will remember the love and it will bring a smile to their face.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Shame and the Fat Wagon

I’ve been thinking a lot about fear. The fears we hold in common and fears unique to each of us. Last week I was Skyping with my friend and mentor and I told her what might possibly be my biggest fear.

Oprah with the fat wagon.
I know.
Let me explain.

I remember very clearly when Oprah came out triumphantly on the stage at Harpo Studios, rolling a red wagon full of animal fat behind her. She wore that iconic black turtleneck and those jeans that clearly date the segment proclaiming loudly she would never go back. It was an electric moment. And that is what made the turnaround from it so devastating. At least I imagine it to be devastating.

I cannot fathom anything more humiliating, more heartbreaking, than to make an announcement and then have the very thing turn awry in the most public of ways. That moment of television history had such an effect on me that with the exception of my first child, I have kept most of my announcements, news, and ideas pretty close to the chest. Oprah herself hailed it as her “biggest, fattest mistake.”

But as I’ve been slowly reading Brene Brown (I cannot emphasize how extraordinarily slowly I am reading her books) I have attempted to let people in a bit more to the parts of my life I’d prefer to keep to myself. Mainly, my hopes and dreams.

About two years ago I had a big dream. I shared it with a few people but not many. And that dream came really close to happening. For the first time I allowed my excitement to get the best of me and I told people and it felt amazing. I realized how the sharing with others made it so much sweeter. But then, do to circumstances out of everyone’s control, the dream died suddenly.
It was my Oprah with the wagon moment. Or at least that is what it felt like. In that moment I was so utterly decimated I stopped. And not just temporarily. Sure, I said I was still working on it, but the truth was I couldn’t. I would sit down at my desk and waves of shame would wash over me; it felt like drowning.

But if I’m really honest, and push past the emotion to the truth, the dream itself did not die; it was merely the hope of having it realized in a specific moment of time. It’s taken me a while to figure that out, and even longer to be able to make peace with it.  

This morning I read something my friend Ed Cyzewski wrote. He states, “By keeping our struggles, flaws, and imperfections secret, we leave ourselves vulnerable to their attacks, the shame they generate, and the feeling that we’re inevitable failures in spirituality.”  Well then.

So here I sit, two years later, at the same Panera I visited when I was full of hope. Typing the same words on the same laptop. I’ll let you know how it goes.