Friday, January 5, 2018

Let Them Eat Cake . . . 2018 Hymn

I made a cake, a perfect, light fluffy, rich, beautiful vanilla sheet cake from my mother-in-laws chocolate sheet cake recipe (that I've de-chocolated) for my family a few nights ago.  I set it outside to cool and in fact, if froze and in other fact, I forgot about it until it was far too late to eat.  I woke up the next morning looking at that cake thinking, Grrr.  The whole point was that it was supposed to be dessert for my family and guests . . . it was supposed to make us all happy and my nephew and his girlfriend and my sister to all feel special and loved and all the good things special desserts make us feel.  Only, I forgot about it.  And none of that happened.  It was morning.  The cake was not even frosted and I had a meeting to go to and my nephew was leaving soon.  It was breakfast time. 

And so what did I do?

I frosted that baby.  Took it to my morning meeting and cut it into wide pieces and served it, instead of the granola and yogurt and unsugared fruit I was planning on bringing . . . because really, some days, you just really need cake for breakfast.

And my nephew, when I came back?  He ate it for lunch (and then some).  And when my husband came home (before dinner) well, he ate a third of it himself as he helped the kids finish the Thursday night cleaning.  And me?  I ate it for breakfast, lunch, dinner and for breakfast (and lunch) today.  And I have had two wonderful days.

Yes, yes, I know if you always have cake, you will be sick.  But some days, some times in our lives, things are HARD and LONG and DRAINING and we don't really give ourselves a break.  We push and push and push and feel all sorts of guilt.  We look at cake and think . . . I just really couldn't.  It's not time for it . . . and we continue to just be so hard on ourselves.  When really, why not just slice up a piece of that beautiful cake, enjoy every delectable bite and then feel all that wonderful rush of energy and endorphins (because lets be honest, sugar gives us wonderful zings) propel us onward? Why?  Why don't we?

Well, I did.

And it turns out I have not gained a pound.  Not a one. In fact, I've felt wonderful.  I have felt like I've been given a gift.  A little reminder that when life gives you cake, just stop and eat it.  Really, stop and eat it.  It will be gone.  A memory.  So make the most of it.

When I was making out my new years resolutions (and feeling quite happy about it), I felt motivated and a little daunted.  I'm pretty sure I'll get to at least three of them.  But the rest . . . well, they're things I think I should be doing or reading or listening to or watching.  And I should, don't get me wrong.  But after I looked over my list, I thought . . . these are all well and good . . . but where's the dreams?  Where's the fun?  Where's the crazy one and a million chance it will happen but still you dream it? 

It wasn't there.

So what did I do?  I flipped over that page and began to write down my dreams . . .







Honestly, I laughed out loud like six times at the audacity of my dreams.  And then . . . I read them and thought . . . you know what? Some of these . . . some of these . . . have a chance of coming true.  If I save, if I organize, if I work hard . . . I can get these dreams.  I can make them happen.

And guess what?  I felt inspired.  Seriously inspired to work harder, to scrimp and save and talk to my children and get them on board and get us all excited about something big. . . something that seems out of reach . . . and may be . . .but we have a chance.  A chance.  Why not take it?

Isn't that what life is about?  Really.  Dreaming big and then taking chances?  I mean, you'll probably fail a lot.  And you might not reach goals, but seriously, you'll never reach them EVER if you don't try right? 

So . . . lets make 2018 the year we eat way more cake and dream big and have courage to chase after them.



Sunday, June 18, 2017

Because . . . A Father's Day Love Letter

. . . I haven't written in months, I'm a little/lot rusty.  I had these three goal the last year or so 1) to talk less and listen more; 2) to say "yes" as often as possible and with a willing heart; and 3) to laugh . . . at things that are funny, or not funny but need to be laughed at or you'll cry and most of all at myself.

Turns out, these things that I've been working on, my massive weaknesses . . . well, they've changed my life, my marriage, my status as awesomest mom in the world, and upped my friend value (I hope . . .).

Most of all, though . . . they've made me see, hear, and feel so much more joy than I'd thought I could.  As well as a healthy dose of guilt for all the times I haven't listened, said 'yes' or laughed and let go.  But I'm a firm believer in guilt being the great impetus for change and inspiration . . . and I'm telling you, I'm INSPIRED!  

Working on this stuff . . . and listening and saying yes (turns out I'm going to be PTA co president next year . . . how about that for yes) and laughing . . . well . . .  it's taken up a LOT of time.  Which is awesome, but it means I haven't been writing like I want to.  But that's going to change.  It's summer and I have things to write about.  So every few days, I'm going to write.  It will be short, hopefully sweet, sometimes sassy, but always real.  Be prepared . . .

But enough of that, what I really want to write about is just a little love note to the papa of my passel of babies.  So here it goes . . . 


Thank you for not utterly freaking out when you found out you were going to be a papa for the first time.  We were all surprised, but you got over it.  I got fat and worried, but you just got prepared (and decided on law school) and when that little screaming, cone head, squished face baby boy came, you utterly and completely loved him.  And when each other little person came, you loved them with that same fierce compete love that you gave Henry.  You are their greatest fan.  Their greatest champion.  Their playmate.  Their concert bouncer.  You believe in them.  You know they can do anything and will do everything and they do.  There isn't a doubt in your mind or heart that they are the best humans in the universe.  And they all know, that you would literally do anything for them.

They see you staying up until 2 am sometimes to make sure that everyone is tucked in safe and sound and ok.  They watch you put down your projects to bounce on the tramp and play baseball or watch a movie with them.  You not only play with them, you listen to them.  You ask them questions and listen to their answers and are patient even when the answer isn't what you want (except if it's about politics . . . then it's game over . . . :). You think they're cool and they know it.  You trust them, and they live up to that trust.  And when they sort of fail, you give them space to figure it out and you trust them again.  When you lose your temper, you always say sorry.

What child could as for more?

I love that you've taught your sons to take care of babies and the people around them.  That men cook and clean and change dipaers and get up in middle of the night and most of all . . .  clean toilets like no one else.  You've given them the vision that being married and a father means you get to help make sure everything and everyone is ok before you sit down and relax.  It means caring and tending and sharing the burdens.

My only and greatest worry is, how will our daughters ever find someone who will be as good a father as you are?  But then again, our fathers were like you.  Surely there are three more men in the universe who know how to share burdens and put their families and wives first and devote their very best selves to their families?  That's my prayer.  Every night.

And most of all, thank you for letting me be the mother to these babies.  You always support me.  You stand by me and are my greatest champion.  There isn't a divided front here.  You've got my back.  Even when it hurts, I am thankful that you remind me to be nicer and use a better voice or say sorry or laugh or not to worry or most of all, not to take it so seriously.  And you always remind me that this should be fun.  Being a parent, according to you, is totally awesome.  

You, JHT, are literally made to be a father.  You probably didn't know it, and most of the time, I'm not sure I can figure out who is the child and who is the parent (especially during games, on the tramp, riding skate boards, listening to loud music . . . really loud music with questionable lyrics, and staying up late watching movies), but I think our five kiddos could not have had a better father . . . or friend.  Thank you for teaching them what love is, to be slow to judge, quick to forgive, and most of all, how to have one heck of a good time.

My life is way crazy fun with you.  Sometimes, a lot crazy, but always fun.

And that, is my love letter.  Happy Father's Day.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Modern Mama

I grew up in the backwoods (literally) of Connecticut (so a sort of well educated backwoods).

My grandmother and aunts had goats.  We had chickens.  We all had dogs and cats that wondered around at will and in the summer, my house was surrounded by trees so thick you couldn't see anything but green when you looked out the windows.  But when I was very young, I guess we didn't look out the windows much at all.  Mostly, I guess, we just sat in our basement and watched TV.

My dad in a fit of passion (I can so relate to him), literally picked up the TV and threw it out the door.  He did not, it turns out, like how we didn't do anything but watch the BOOB TUBE as he called it.

Did this totally stop us?

I'm afraid not.

This meant we all went down to our grandmother's as a result on Friday nights to watch Fantasy Island and Dukes of Hazard and The Hulk.

We all squished on the two recliners and sprawled on the floor to watch her tiny 13" TV with at best mono sound.  We ate Grape Nuts with goat milk and honey and raisins sprinkled on top out of wooden salad bowls and big sugar spoons.  I can still see it, me a tiny five year old, surrounded by my seven brothers and sisters, packed like sardines around the tiny TV, utterly enchanted by the moving pictures.  My parents, while we were totally mesmerized, went off on their weekly date and my blessed grandmother had her tiny house full of more than half of her grandchildren.  In fact, often, our neighbor cousins, Paul and Brian came and watched with us (even though they had a huge 20' tv at their house).  She had this pot bellied stove that she stoked up (well, we did) and it was so cozy and warm and she always pressed kisses on our foreheads and told us over and over again how blessed she was to have us all with her.

Eventually my father folded and we got a TV along with a VCR (in fact, one of the first in the neighborhood--all eight houses in 10 square miles).  We got PBS and that was it.  I know every show ever on that channel (Dr. Who haunts my dreams).   My sainted aunt would record movies for us so we would have something to watch and I can't even tell you how much we treasured each time she gave us a new VCR tape filled with movies.  I'm telling you, my whole life has been filled with people who love me and do amazing things for me and my family.  I know it there was definitely a touch of sympathy  because, lets face it, we were freaky and she couldn't help but try to educate us a little bit to what's happening in the world.  But mostly, I know, she just loved us.

Every Monday night, my mother or father would take us to the video store and we'd rent two videos because it was TWO FOR ONE and who could resist that deal.  But they were always due back on Wednesday or we'd incur this horrid late fee.  I can remember my dad driving literally like a maniac down to Essex (all speed limits were ignored) to get to the store by 9.  I remember running as fast as my little legs could carry  me to slide it in the return slip before the clock turned 9 above the store.  The stress!  Oh the stress of late fees.  And I think that every ten rentals you got one free.  That was like a jackpot to walk in and not have to pay the 3.99.

Then we got a computer.  I don't even remember what kind but I do remember learning how to type on it and writing up all my reports on it and then printing it out on paper that came with side wholes and was fed through the printer with wheel and you'd rip off the sides.  And this is all before email and internet.  In fact, when I went to college, I applied for an Honors degree so that I could use their computer labs (that had LASER printers) and email.  I got my first account in the Honors Computer Lab and had only one friend, Jeff Reamer who was at West Point, who also had an email account.  Everyone else I communicated with via snail mail.  Yes, I had stamps and envelopes and I wrote letters to everyone.  Because calling, it just about broke the bank.  You called for five minutes at the most and you could only really call after 10pm because before that it was .35 a minute.  Cell phone were these huge things that people who lived in big houses had.  Communication was slow and hard and expensive.

I spent most of my childhood talking on a phone with a cord so long it could stretch around the house once--and most important of all, go half way down the basement stairs so you could have some blessed privacy.  My number had five digits  because our town was so small.  I remember they changed it and you had to add the 52 in front of the 6.  We called each other and talked.  Sometimes for hours and we'd get in trouble because our parents where waiting for calls and no one could get through.  The busy signal . . . the worst sound in the WORLD.  When Call Waiting was introduced, oh the busy signal became a thing of the past.  But this is before caller ID and so at 1am in the morning on sleepovers, you bet we crank called all the boys we thought were cute.  Oh, the parents we enraged.  I'm sorry!  I'm so so sorry! But . . . it was irresistible!

I remember all this so clearly.  It's like freaky that it's almost more real than this.  All but one of my children have cell phones and iphones at that (they are old cast offs of ours, but still . . . ).  They not only have access to calling, but they can send instant letters and pictures and movies and at their finger tips learn about literally ANYTHING under the sun.  They can watch whatever movie  they want as soon as they want it.  There is no waiting for anything EVER . . . well except when the internet connection is slow.  Five minutes at the most for something to download and they think it's FOREVER!  Late fees?  What are those things?  Cords? Even talking on the phone?  No.  You just send Snaps back and forth, Mom.  Duh.  They all go off into their rooms and stare at their tiny screens with their earplugs in and . . .

I feel like my father.

I want to take those tiny bits of metal and glass (a lot of stupid glass) and throw them out the window/door and I want them to break into seven million pieces.  I want their beautiful faces look at each other and me.  I want to hear their voices.  I want to hear laughter.  I want to play games an go for walks.  I want my family.  I want life, real life to be happening here.  Now.  In this space.  Together.

So have I?

Thrown those bits of brain melt out the window?


Because I have one too.  And I have it in my hand and I'm tapping away at it and connecting and laughing at the Snaps that my friends send me.

And I can't quite live without it . . . most of all, how could I survive without Wiki or IMDB?

I mean, really?

But something must change.  Something MUST change.

I've instilled rules like, you can't watch your phone in your bedroom.  You have to come out and look at it on the couch.  You'd be surprised how much that makes them interact.  One laughs and the others gather around and watch it together.  And then we're all watching and laughing and talking about other things as well.

Another one is no phones at the dinner table and we all eat together and talk. Highs and Lows for the day and I always try to tell them one or two things great I saw that day and thought and sometimes that spurs more conversations.

And my latest rule is a walk after dinner.  They moan and grown and sometimes I don't even want to go, but by the end, without fail, we are all laughing together and I've learned things about each one of them I didn't know.  And more times than not, they don't want it to end.

I know, this is the new way the world is turning, and I must turn with it.  But I will turn with it in my own way and at my own pace and maybe a little bit slower.  I don't want to give up my children too fast.  I don't want what their seeing to be more important than what they're living.

Maybe it's an uphill battle with a bit of hopelessness in it, but I'm going to wage on because I believe in my little family.  I believe that good things come out of all these new fangled thingies and I embrace that as much as possible, but I think as with many many things, I am like my father.  I want to slow down the decent into this obsession.  I will not stop it, but I know that I can put up some road blocks to make them look up now and then and see that there is this beautiful world around them that can be seen not through a lenses or a Snap or an Insta post, but felt and heard and experienced.

When Phoebe had her little sweet heart broken a little bit a few weeks ago and she cried very quietly on our bed and we held her, I thought, I am not sorry for this pain.  It is showing her that nothing on that little class and metal square can help her as much as this human hug.  I've seen her put her phone down a bit more and snuggle with the Littles and come sit on our bed and talk to us before going to bed.

I took this picture to send to John after a super hard week of Celia literally not leaving her room or putting her phone down for two weeks straight.

She was sitting there, her phone down, talking and laughing with Finn.  I started crying.  She spent the whole afternoon with the kids.
When I asked her and Phoebe to come help out in our dear friend's daughter's wedding, they came.  And for three hours they didn't even look at their phones--they looked at faces and people and laughed and talked and worked their little fannies off.  And they loved it.  Loved it.  

"That went so fast, Mom.  I liked how it felt to be so needed.  And seriously, Mom, those little old ladies, they can pack it away!  You wouldn't even believe how many brownies they ate!"

(Look at these faces--so beautiful and so so happy!)

And then Celia spent the whole evening Saturday with us (obviously still using her phone--but this time to take pictures of what she was making with us--pizza). . . 

And this is us after our Monday family walk . . . 

Yes, still a few on phones (obviously including me) but we are all together in the same room . . . !!!

I'm not sure how successful I am or will be, I'm trying hard to be a Modern Mama, with the emphasis on Mama.  Before anything else, I want to be a mama.  I want to take care of their bodies, their minds and most of all their hearts.  

So let the battle wage.  I'm in for the long play.  The phones are going anywhere and it turns out, neither am I. 

And maybe somewhere along the way . . . we will find an angle of repose.  I think . . . I hope . . . we will.  We didn't give up watching TV like my dad dreamed, but as a result, we surrounded my grandmother with love and we spent time all together.  I hope that as I create little spaces here and there, that like my grandmother's house, we create a place or at least times, where we gather together and learn to live and laugh and be present.  




Wednesday, September 28, 2016


I just finished two TED talks about strangers.  The first talked about how much we benefit from actually making eye contact, having a conversation, and actually being vulnerable with them is to our minds, hearts, and souls.  The second was about altruistic people and what makes someone altruistic . . . and can altruism be learned?

As I was chopping away at my flower patch that is not mostly just taken over by Black-Eyed Susans, I thought about strangers and what I was taught about stranger and how I feel about them now.

Here is before . . .
And here is after . . . 

I know, it's hard to tell, but if you look really hard you can . . . I promise . . . at least I hope . . .

But back to strangers. 

As I was listening I immediately thought of this super long flight I was on from Calgary to Connecticut (honestly, like about as far apart as you can get).  I was 7 3/4 months pregnant with Finnegan flying out to go to my grandmother's funeral.  On a good day, I really REALLY don't like flying, on a bad day, super sad and super emotionally pregnant, I am terrified of it.  But I got on my flights anyways and everything went pretty smoothly . . . until we were on our approach to land at Bradley (Hartford Connecticut's airport).  There was like this crazy bump and then all of a sudden it was as if the hand of God came and just pushed our airplane strait down to the ground.  I mean, my stomach was doing all sorts of butterflies and we were floating out of our seats.  The ground was flying up to meet US!  I honestly thought, And this is where I END!

That's when I heard this voice gently talking to me.  I looked over and saw that I was honestly practically hugging the man next to me . . . a thirty something, balding, round bellied completely unnoticeable man who had been sitting next to me for hours who I did not even say Hi to as I sat down.  He was gently patting my hands that were gripping him for dear life hand telling me, We are very very high and this is a big strong plane and the captains know what they are doing . . . we are not going to die.  We are going to be just fine.

Over and over again and then he told me about his wife and children and what he did for a living, all in this calming soothing voice as we were rocked from here to kingdom come. 

Finally what seemed like hours but was probably only 5 minutes, the Captain comes on to say we had and "extreme downdraft" and that it should be smooth sailing from here on out and he was very sorry for any distress we'd experienced.

That's when I finally let go of this poor mans arm (I hate to say this, but I'm pretty sure there were red imprints left on his arm) and started breathing again.  I think, I hope I thanked him, but I was still pretty shaken up.  I just prayed my way down to the landing strip and then ran into the arms of my family and really didn't think of him anymore.  I was just so darn glad to be on solid ground.  I could have kissed it!

But later, as I was thinking about it, I realized that honestly, that man was like an Angel.  He seriously could have said, Lady get your hands off me.  Please!  But instead, he totally comforted me and helped me through a pretty terrifying moment.  I honestly think, let me be like that balding guy on that flight and help where help is needed.

And that's just one of the stories of strangers have helped me . . . and I'm not sure that says good things or bad about my crazy mixed up life.  But one thing I know for sure, the more we are helped, the more willing we are to help.  I see it all over the place.  A smile is catching.  Thank you multiplies.  Do you need help? get's passed on. 

That's what that second talk proposed and I 100% agree with it.  The more we help out around us, the more people are willing to help others.  I think that saying, Many Hands Make Light Work is true because of two things.  1) it's just true.  If you have 50 bags of flour to carry into the house, five people will do it in 1/5 the time of 1.  It's simple math.  But 2) it makes you feel good to help.  And feeling good, well, it's sort of addicting.  Which leads me to another point, gratitude.  I think it's super duper important to notice when someone has made your burden a little lighter.  You realize the sacrifice and feel the love, and they feel seen and loved. 

Today, my craziest of crazy primary kids came over (as they always do . . . and they're the only one's who do) for a treat.  I was in the middle of said dead heading of flowers and asked them to come help me move the tramp before they got a treat.  I expected great moaning and growing and NOOOOO!  But after I confirmed that I would indeed give them an extra piece of licorice (my weakness), they enthusiastically helped.  It was a little bit more complicated than expected, but again, instead of moans and groans, they got creative and helped each other figure it out.  And the more I encouraged them and thanked them, the better at it they were.  They laughed and encouraged each other and pretty much shocked me.

And made me so happy.

Helping does make you happy.


Monday, June 13, 2016

Green Bananas

What I miss the very mostest about being young is that ability to forget everything but the very moment you are in.

If you are tired, you sleep.

If you are hungry, you eat.

If you want to read, you pick up a book and read.

If you want to watch a movie/show/tv, you sit your little butt down and watch.

If you're a mama, you have to think about nine thousand things before you do anything.

If you are tired, you stay tired because you just don't have time to sleep.

If you are hungry, you'd better go grocery shopping and get cooking because no one is really going to eat if you don't.

If you want to read . . . well, you always want to read, but the laundry, cleaning, weeding, talking, caring, fixing, loving must happen before that happens.

If you want to watch a movie, well, you can try, but really, you probably will just fall asleep.

And be so happy for that sleep because you know, if you're me and you only watch tv with your whole family surrounding you, everyone is beside you and counted for and taken care of for the moment, so all your cares are for a moment lifted and you can REALLY relax and actually let go and drift off.

That, my friends, is where I find peace--on the couch, my head in some crazy angle, John and Finn draped over me with the girls curled up together on the other side of the couch with a loud movie or nature program (our family favorite) playing loudly.  It's like my own personal lullaby.

It's true, I don't actually WATCH many shows, but it's all good.  Sleep, my friends, is precious and you just get it whenever and where ever you can.

Which brings me to the point of this rambling.  Green bananas.

Yes, we are going to talk about Green Bananas.  John's grandparents, the very first time (or almost) time I met them talked about how they just weren't buying green bananas because really . . . you never know if you'll be around to see them ripen.

I don't know why, but it's stuck with me because 1) I always found it super funny and I think they said it to me to make me laugh (which I always did) and 2) because I think it sums up anxiety perfectly.  If you're an anxious person (which I may or may not be), you're always waiting for the worst thing to happen and you won't get to eat your ripe bananas.  You'll be dead or someone you know/love will be or something equally horrid.  Yeah, I know, crazy, but true crazy.

I had a bit of a green banana month this past month.  I seriously was just sitting around waiting for the SHOE to fall.  I did not want to put one tiny bit of faith in the future because, lets face it, the future has not been so kind to me at times.  Me and Future, well, we have an agreement, I don't look towards her and she doesn't mess with me.  Deal?  DEAL.

But here's the truth, I love making plans and getting excited about things to come.  I love anticipation and I love being part of making something great happen . . . next week, month, year . . ..

So . . . without a future, well, life--this present--it seems sort of dull and well, depressing.  Living in the moment, it turns out, is momentary.  It seems so . . . PRESENT.  Green bananas actually are like a great test of fate . . . and that excitement  . . . well, it makes things interesting.  I mean, really, what is more tantalizingly daring than wondering if you will in fact be around to not only see that banana ripen, but to actually EAT it?

 And so . . . I've decided to buy green bananas.  Like  . . .  a lot of them and I'm totally ok with whatever the outcome, because at least, well, I've gone out on a limb and the pay off . . . well, it will be DELICIOUS.

Today, instead of staying in the car while the rain pummeled down and the kids rain and jumped right into the pool, I ran and jumped in with them.  I played tag (and nearly died like sixteen times laughing and swimming--bad mix--they are impossible to catch) for half an hour in the pouring rain.  We laughed and laughed and floated on our backs, our faces stung by the rain, looking at the dark churning clouds--cold on one side, warm on the other.  Pretty much perfect.

I bought a huge bag of Chicago mix pop corn and opened it right up and ate it, even though it was lunch time. 

I am sitting in a wet bathing suit writing instead of showering and folding laundry. 

I'm going wild here!  I may even watch a show and stay awake . . .

And all because I've decided to once again buy green bananas (and just to be safe . .. I bought some yellow ones too . . . ).

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Ripple Effect

For the last three days, I've felt like my life is enchanted.

The weather has been stormy and calm, cloudy and full of sunshine and it seems to match my moods perfectly. I've honestly found myself thinking, Yes, God, finally I get weather to match me!  Thank you!  (Because, of course everything is about ME).

The children are all happy.

I am sleeping like a new born baby.

I have time to both read AND visit and the people I want to be with have time to be with me and it's worked out.

I'm not so worried about schedules or getting places or things done.  Mostly, I'm just happy letting life flow around me and letting what is, is.

I've had energy to work out and don't feel too exhausted afterwards--in fact often, I find I have more energy than before.

When I've gone to do my six errands in one hour, I've gotten every. single. one. done.

Unheard of.

And I was happy doing it.  Honestly, didn't run into one line that sidelined me.

I've had time to be with my children outside, laughing and visiting and enjoying the green and growth and our world outside.

I like my hair and face and me.

I feel this great calm and peace.

All of this is true.

But it's also one side to the story.  It's the side I've chosen to look at and focus on and see.

Not the fact that John's in Switzerland during this INSANE last week of school.  That I've driven to SLC to get my TSA approval and forgotten my passport at home on the counter.  Or that I've been late to everything because of one or more dramas with kids.  Or that Phoebe has been in rare form and snapping at me.  OR that every time Piper or Finn sneeze their entire face gets covered in boogers and we've gone through five FIVE boxes of tissues.  And we aren't going to the we are out of money and we have another week to live on.  Or the reason I like how I look is because I haven't had time TO look at myself in the mirror or time to eat more than something on the run.  Or that I have five loads of laundry to fold (since Monday) but it's just not happening because I'm mama and dada and I've got four kids relying on me.

So . . . which story do you like better?

They're both right.  And true, but this week, I decided to just slow down or even stop every time something beautiful or good or happy happened and say, Hey, that was pretty cool.  I'm blessed.

That's it.

I didn't do any, You will NOT be negative this week, Mary or You must always look on the bright side.  Nope, in fact, I was like, just like you are going to stop and say, Wow and Thanks, to the good things, I give you total permission to be like, Wait.  Man, that's weird, hard, discouraging, hurtful, confusing, uncomfortable, and just plane old wrong.

But the funny thing is, when I was sitting out with the kids on Monday night cooking hot dogs over the fire with this beautiful fragrant breeze and all my kids around me and me only taking like 15 minutes to prepare the meal (boil potatoes for potatoe salad, cut up watermelon, tell kids to bring everything outside--boom.  done), I felt happy.

 I couldn't help but think, you know, even though I didn't get my TSA thing done (and I have to way two weeks for another appointment) and I only slept 3 hours last night and I haven't gotten to the laundry, the weeds, or even showered today, it's all good. I'm here with my kids, we're eating gross hot dogs (sorry, but they're just not my thing) and I've made my kids happier than theyve been in months because they got to choose dinner and how it's made.  And I got to do almost nothing.

Win.  Win.

And we laughed and laughed and talked about silliness up until it was time to go to bed . . . or way past when it was time to go to bed.

And my lack of sleep and frustrating day, it all melted away.

I slept so well that night, honestly, I'm not kidding, I swear I had a smile on my face.

When I woke up and had to do a little money examination and saw that our accounts were pretty darn low (yep, it takes a minute or ten to recover from unemployment), instead of getting mad and sad (my usual response), I thought, Well, this is great. This means we are going to eat though our full freezer and get creative.  Plus, it means more family time and less running around.  And thank heavens, we get paid again the end of next week.

I may have had taken a moment after all those happy thoughts flashed through my head--Ahhh, who is this happy person inside me?  I do not know you (I want to . . . but still . . . it's a little . . . disconcerting).  But I want to get to know you.  In fact, could you stay . . . for the rest of my life?  Please?

And then yesterday, after that, I had one thing after another with honestly no room to breath, but it was wonderful.  Yoga with Lyns.  Running with Kristi.  Then picking out paint for my sisters house with a darling new friend (my sisters renter).  Then I came home and just sat and read for two hours.  Yes, I SAT and READ for two hours and it was wonderful.  Then off to Finn's Cub Scouts Pack Meeting where I was just floored by how amazing our Pack leaders are.  Everyone loved it and I learned about all sorts of animals--Bearded Dragon Lizards LOVE people and are super social.  Truth.  Then my sweet niece and husband came over and we had this lovely visit planning their sojourn with us this summer.  And best of all, Evie came to me and put her arms out for me to pick up FIRST.  Could the day have been better?  No.

Was it perfect?  Heck no, the girls left me with all the dinner dishes and mess to clean up.  I didn't get to the laundry and I fell asleep before the house was locked up and all the lights on (thank goodness we live here) and about a thousand other things that made me feel STRONG feelings that were not happy or light or anything but pretty much grrrrrrr.

But I swear, taking a minute to see the good, it's like a grease coating that lets all the anger and crappy things sort of slide right off without penetrating into us.

Could this be true?

Has anyone else tried this and had their days seemed so much easier and lighter and better?

Because I have this feeling, this being present and stopping to notice the good, it's a darn good beginning to a better way of life.

I'm telling you right now, I'm going with this.

Like forever and ever.

Here is my view of the mountains as I was mowing the lawn . . . can you see all the fresh cut grass . . . it smelled like Heaven!

My yard coming to life and thriving . . . for the moment (summer and heat are coming) so I'm enjoying it.

Lone Peak.  My favorite.  And look at that sky . . .

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Being Present

While I was running in the pouring rain today, I kept thinking about writing.  In fact, when it was pouring pouring pouring and the temperature dropped like 10 degrees and I started losing feeling in my fingers, I began writing this post in my mind.  It was really really good.  I laughed and cried and thought Gees, you're such a great writer Mary! (Yes, I can in fact fool myself).  Only now . . . I can't really remember much I wrote in my mind.  Darn mind. 

Speaking of minds, May turns mine to mush.  Between allergies (thank you beautiful budding trees . . . I lovingly Hate You) and the insane end of year recitals and school demands, I can't keep anything straight.  Everything is going sideways and I'm barely holding on.  I honestly think every single May, I am officially going crazy.  Then school ends, June comes cool and calm and there aren't really any demands and I get to remember how to breath.

No joke, I actually honestly get so discombobulated that I forget to breath.  I feel myself taking these doggy breaths in and out in and out and realize that my shoulders are literally touching my ears and I pretty much have totally forgotten that life is actually to be ENJOYED.  Not just endured.

Which was one of the things I do remember thinking about when I was running in the freezing cold pouring rain (which I must insert, Utah rarely has rain storms, even when the mountains are covered in mist and dark clouds swirling, nine times out of ten, it just blows away and you get nothing but the hint of moisture--so I thought I was safe.  Obviously not . . .):  that May with it's insanity teaches me each year how to slow down.  How to say Nope.  How to say Yes please.  How to chisel out time to breath.  And most of all, the importance of being present.

That's the most important thing it teaches me of all:  Being present.

It's the secret ingredient to finding happiness in the craziness of life.

Being present.

In yoga, that's what you're taught the whole class and asked to take with you when you leave . . . this ability to stay present in this moment and let it be a rich good time for you.

I'm horrible at it.  I'm like an expert at rushing on to the next thing in my mind . . . when I'm Phoebe's dance recital, I'm really planning on how when I get home I'm going to get my lesson ready for the next day.  And half the time, I miss her dance!  Or when I'm at the grocery store, I'm planning on how I'm going to get dinner done in 25 minutes (idiot plans  . . . dinner ALWAYS takes an hour) so we can finally get everyone to bed at 8.  Which is why I always forget the butter!  Yes, I would say that being present is a massive challenge in my life.

So . . . this week, this month, my intention has been to "be present."  I've been thinking it might have been the worst month in the year to pick it, but as I've been navigating this month (mostly badly), I've realized I couldn't have picked a better month.


This moment.







Let go of later.

Live now.

Yeah.  Just like that . . . only, I'm bad at it like I said.  So I have had to practice this being present really hard and what I've learned is the best way to be present?  Put down your phone.

Or better, turn it off.

So hard.

SOOOO hard.  That thing is not only my fun, my friend, my companion, it's also my secretary, my link to my kinds and friends and family . . . how could I live without it?  I can't!  I CAN'T!

Can I?

Turns out I can.

Not for a long time, but for an hour or two at a time?  Sure thing.

This week when I was doing book return at the high school (not exactly where I wanted to be), I practiced that being present and instead of just doing the work, I turned to the woman I was working with and asked her questions about her life, her children, herself.  The other teachers joined in and the two hours literally flew by.  It was easy.  It was fun.  And I learned so much about these women and how to get your kids in to concurrent enrollment (college classes in high school) and how many students really have 4.0 (not as many as you'd think), and what a good student is, and how to watch your sons baby for 40 hours a week.  Fascinating.

I'm telling you . . .

And it didn't end there.  Being present means noticing stuff around you.  Sure, I noticed how grouchy I'd been and how frustrated with how things never seem to go according to plan, but have I noticed what's going on around me with people around me?


No . . .

So, I started looking around at people around me and asking them, really asking them, Hey, how are you?  And instead of taking their immediate, I'm great! response, I would ask real questions of things that I knew were hard or going on in their lives.  I'm telling you, a ten minute conversation makes a huge difference.

I called my sister to complain about my life (my favorite subject obviously), but it turns out, she was in the same pickle as me--to many commitments and not enough time--and she was drowning.  And instead of say, Yes, true let me share with you how bad my life is . . . I just listened.  I listened and gave a little advice and mostly told her she was strong and wise and good and that everything would work out.

I could hear her take a breath.  A real big deep breath and let it out and then I could hear a smile in her voice (no joke, smiles are in voices . . . ).  I could tell that just from me stopping and listening, she was better.

That was easy right?

It is easy.

And it makes a difference.

And not just to them.  It changed me.  It made me see that though I was wishing someone would come give me a hug and say, Tell me all your problems, really, we ALL feel this way.  And as we are hugging someone and asking them to tell us where it hurts, we are being healed.


It's like that simple.

I think of that scripture in Matthew: "And he that findeth his life shall lose it; and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it." (Matthew 10:39)

It know it sounds crazy, but honestly, when we let go of ourselves and our craziness, we get to see that we're not alone in the craziness, in fact, we're in good company.  And as we help others, well, we aren't alone anymore are we?  No.  And suddenly, our burdens are lighter.

And that's what comes out of being present.

So, here's my challenge to you all as you're racing around, possibly screaming in your mind (or that's just me . . .but really, that Silent Scream painting, I sooo feel it), or just feeling like crying because it all seems to much . . . put your phones away.  Stop racing.  Look around you at the people around you and ask them a question, or hug them, or tell them, I'm so glad you're here with me.

And I promise you, the scream inside will quite and for a moment (and maybe just a moment) you'll feel present.

And I'm telling you, it feels good.

Piper being present . . .