Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Moving On

On Wednesday, our middle school will have a special eighth grade chapel to send them off to high school.  Most everyone of them will be continuing on to high school at Dunham, but this will be Riley's last chapel there.  It is a big goodbye for her but done so, in her very quiet way and I'm the one feeling it.  (Of course I am because I'm a thinker and a feeler!)

After attending an eighth grade event last week, I checked in with her about how she felt about the ending of the school year.  She loves the school but has not found a fit within her small class of girls and she is really ready to move on. I have to remember that it is very brave to acknowledge that you need to make a change and follow through and do it.   This is a big life lesson and we have worked through it step by step together as mom and daughter and as a family.

I know a thousand percent that she needs to try another school and she's ready.

But my heart is ripping up ever so slightly. 

For seven months from the very beginning of school, we have talked about this endlessly.  When difficulties arose over the last few years, I would broach the subject of changing schools for  high school. I said this never thinking she would ever move.  After much disheartenment over the summer and at the beginning of the school year, I brought it up again.  She said yes.   We diligently looked at other schools, weighed every pro and con and she is moving on.  She even has uniforms from a graduating St. Joseph's senior.  Thank you to that mom and daughter for thinking of us!

I've thought this situation out every way possible. I talked to so many people to get every angle on this specific issue.  We did our homework.  But now there is nothing more to think or decide, only to finish and feel. My stomach turns when there is a reminder that she won't be at the same school we have known for ten years and she won't be with her sister.  These feelings are all mine, not hers. I have to own my stuff and not project, but I am allowed these mixed feelings.   I am so excited for her new future, she deserves it.  Owning my feelings will allow them to pass through more easily.   I think mixed in with these emotions, is, could we have done something differently? And much deeper is do I fit in? Yeah, it goes deep.  It always does.

And then I logically think it through and know that not every school works for every student.   And my appreciation for my uniqueness is growing.  And she is ready to go.

So here we go, the end of this school year is here.   There are always mixed feelings about things ending and new beginnings.  This is a special year.  No more Lower School Moving Up ceremony.  Riley is moving on to a new high school.  Mallory is moving up to 6th grade.  All is well. (Well, there are other things going on in the world...)

Today is the Honors ceremony.  It's a good run through before tomorrow's send off chapel.

I will bring tissues.

All will be well.

Namaste.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

She Was Enchanted

I have been trying to finish the 2009 Disney Scrapbook album for many years.

Yes, eight years to be exact.  We are leaving in a few short days to visit Disney World again.  Something spurred me on to make it a mission to finish this album.

In 2013, I made an earnest effort to finish and by that I mean, I pulled out all the materials and posted about it on Facebook.  My daughter came across this pic on FB two days ago and made fun of me.

That was four years ago.

But that attempt did get me as far as being completely organized and knowing exactly what pages were left.

I swore off ever doing another scrapbook years before that, but I had to finish this one.  I now make Shutterfly albums using digital photos and I have several of those under my belt and already on the shelf.

But the 2009 Disney Scrapbook remains.

This was a trip we took with my mother in law.  She is no longer with us.  When you first look at pictures of people who have departed, it's like a sucker punch.  Now, it's just a soft push.

GaGa loved "It's A Small World." She was enchanted by it.  When we went in 2012 a few months after she died,  I felt her on that ride and I teared up.  I was enchanted and enjoyed it and was grateful.

I was in the moment in that ride.

Do I not want to finish this album because it permanently finishes the trip?  Who knows?! I only had a few pages left.  Last night, I finished those pages. So it's done.  But yet, I keep tweaking and printing captions.  I need to put all of the remaining materials away and yet I procrastinate.

 I can feel some emotion stirring as I type this so I may be on to something.  I just know it's time to finish.  There will always be residual sadness.  GaGa died five years ago last month.  She loved my girls up close and personally.  She was at our house all the time.  She was with us.   

Letting go of a person who loved my children and I, whole-heartedly, well, it's hard to lose a person like that in your life.  

Sigh.

But it's time to finish.  She is still with me.  Her sense of fun.  She had much gratitude about simple things.  That stood out to me.  I carry that with me. 

She and Charlie (her husband) would always remark after we went somewhere for a meal or an event how nice it was.  Those remarks always stood out to me.  Now I can see it as a gratitude and living in the moment.  Gratitude is good.

I'm looking forward to Disney World.  There will be good moments and bad moments.  But I'm thrilled that the girls are looking forward to it. We have a countdown dry erase board for it. We are so excited to see our family spirit animal, Eeyore in person! An aside is that Riley is starting high school in a few months. How long will family vacations go on? Time is passing.  How DID that happen? 

I still see them this way.

 


Namaste. 

Monday, April 10, 2017

Questioning the Meaning of Easter

I am going to talk about something that's new to me in the last few years and as it's Easter, the topic is drawing me in. I heard a lot of Jesus, sin, salvation and blood talk growing up in different settings and especially in regards to Easter.  This type of language is not in my current church, but I am excavating my personal theological history and it's deep.  The topic is atonement or substitution theory relating to Jesus' death on the cross. 

I grew up with images of Christ on the cross and hymns entitled: Nothing But the Blood of Jesus 
Here's a stanza: 
What can wash away my sin?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus
What can make me whole again?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus

When I write about a fundamentalist topic, I tend to go off on the deep end because I am in still in process of healing myself. So I'm reining myself in. 

Right now.  

Well, I try. 

This is the crux for me,  what I heard growing up is that on one hand, Jesus died for my sins, because I am a SINNER and NEED to be forgiven but on the other hand, God really loves me, very deeply.  So follow this: what I need is someone to bear a punishment that I deserve for just being born. Can I say that this mixed bag of messaging did nothing for me and most importantly didn't draw me nearer to God.  
  
I am simplifying this because I want to keep it as short as I can.  After many years of trying to come to grips with funky theology, I had to question everything I knew.  
Literal bible translation...gone.  
Is God in Control of everything: No, shit happens.
Looking at all religions to see what is similar..yes.  
Core message of all major religions: LOVE...check.  
Embracing people different than myself which was uncomfortable but necessary... yes.  
Reducing fear and embracing love...uh huh.  

That last one is the answer to what Jesus was all about. 

He answered, "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'"

This Easter, I feel comfortable enough with a loving higher power to dig deeper.  The penal or substitutionary atonement theologies very basically mean Jesus died for us, to fulfill the old covenant sacrificial system, reconcile us to God, and change our lives forever.

But what if , what if Jesus was teaching us a new way to be. Be still and know that I am.  Jesus could have stopped his own death, right?  He didn't have to die. What if he was teaching us "the dark night of the soul?"  What if this was really about a mystical union with God and not a penal system.   What if God was teaching us that with darkness there is always light, and how to be with our suffering. 

There are two ways in which humans connect to the divine: through awe or through suffering.

I can hear in my mind, people saying, but Jesus died for our sins - that is awe inspiring, right?    But what I'm questioning, well not really questioning anymore, I know what I believe in my heart, it's just my mind catching up from so many years of washing things white as snow, do humans get that?  Is that really what was going on.  

Father Richard Rohr sums it up so very nicely in his latest book, The Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your Transformation (with Mike Morrell)  Please read the photo.






I come from a more behavioral view of the Bible.  What was Jesus' main teaching? I would put it in one word. LOVE.  Has the church missed the mark by instilling fear or retribution instead of love?  The heart of the above passages is what I underlined in my book: Humans change in the process of love-mirroring, and not by paying any price or debt.  

That pretty much sums it all up.  

We get stuck in right and wrong, black and white.  It's not about retribution but about restoration.  God is with us in our suffering.   I think the story got hijacked.  It's easier to keep people in the pews by making them fear, instead of teaching them practices that bring them closer to God.  

I stepped away from the Bible years ago to heal.  I use to recoil when I heard Jesus' name.  It wasn't awe inspiring.  But now after much introspective work, I feel a divine flow of love when I am awake and in the present moment. And that was a lot of behavioral work, not blood, not retribution.  Learning about unconditional love and it's source.  Learning about the dark and the light.  It must reside together.

Namaste. 

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Hits and Misses

This morning as I eased my way out of bed in a fog and the darkness of the newish Daylight Savings time change, I looked down and noticed I missed stepping in cat hairball throw up by mere inches.

Hits and misses

In my best Debbie Reynolds' "Singing in the Rain" interpretation..."What a lovely morning!  Good morning, good morning, We've talked the whole night through, good morning, good morning to you!"

There is a significant chill in the air on this March morning in south Louisiana. One that I celebrate and adore before the heat and humidity begin kicking in all too soon.  I love that I have to put on George's long heavy robe to bring the dogs outside.  I take them in the darkened back yard as the sun is barely coming up on the front of the house. I had to turn the outside lights on to be able to see.  Annie has done her business on the right side of the yard and receives her expected treat.  I have been training Brinkley to go as well.  We are on the left side of the pool near a dark corner.  As I am straining to see whether his leg has been lifted,  I look up and notice the beautiful moon shedding a faint light in the darkened sky.  It took a few seconds to orient that it was the moon!!

I check his leg and I gaze up again at the moon, trying to experience it's magnificence and I'm startled by the sight and the sounds of by a flock of birds flying in formation which the view of, had been previously blocked by our shade tree.  Breathtaking!  I look down again and there's dog poop on the patio.

Hits and misses

This is life.

There is unexpected beauty while dodging dog poop.  I may not be awake enough to catch it every time but when I am, it's always a thrill like it's never happened before.

Do you know what I'm saying?

Some days, I have no energy from running here and there or in place with whatever is necessary in mine and my family's life.  My mood is low and I feel I'm not enough.  I used to be scared of these kinds of days. I have now become accustomed to the fact that those feelings will flow and my energy will return and my mood will rise.  And sometimes, the next day I will wake up more rested and ready to spot the light of the moon and hear the unexpected honk of the birds in flight and marvel and miss the dog poop and celebrate.

Namaste.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Life is Full of Curves

I have two daughters, three years apart.  They could be no different from one another.  Why do I think that they should be more alike?  For some reason I do. On a daily basis, it comes into my head, and I take note of the differences.   One helps me get out of the house on time, putting unbelievable pressure on me to do so, while the other has no concept of time.  I have to remind myself to get my behind in gear with daughter #2 because we will never leave the house if it is just us two.

One loves to do her hair and makeup and is into clothes and could shop and spend money for hours.  The other could care less and does not want to spend money.  One can easily start a conversation with a stranger, the other not so much.  One is always on time, knows exactly what is on the agenda and how things run.  The other rolls with it and flies by the seat of her pants a lot.

And the Big bad truth is that I need to let them be who they are.

No matter what!

This is a tall order.  But I am working really hard to do just that.  Over the last few months, I had to explore one important issue that could mean big changes for the whole family in order to let one child be who she is.

My oldest daughter has had a hard time fitting in at her current school.  Her personality is more quiet and shy and with different interests than most of her peers.  She has tried to fit in.  Middle school for girls can be cruel, period but, especially when you are not like the other.  It is all about fitting in, but what if you don't?   Throw in social media and it can be a nightmare.  The school that she has attended for the last ten years, happens to be on the smaller side.  There are only 18 girls in her grade with 32 boys rounding it out.  There is not much place to turn to find female companionship.

At the beginning of the school year, she was already burned out and begin to make comments about not wanting to go to school.  And she loves school.   For the last few years, I had asked if she wanted to look into other schools and that high school would be the best time to do so.  I never really thought she would say yes.

She said yes.

After many, many conversations, a lot of exploration, school visits, and months of waiting on admissions: we are starting high school at a brand new large girls' school in August.   There are around 275 girls per grade.  I'm ecstatic that she gets to explore new territory and find girls with similar interests.

My other daughter is happy as can be where she is.

So I will now be driving to two different schools and dividing my loyalties.

I never saw this coming.

I have grieved that one daughter will be leaving the only school we have known for ten years and the sisters won't be at the same school anymore.  I will absolutely move through it because I am a thousand percent positive this is our path for now.

Life is full of curves.
Namaste.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Feeling the Love of Those Departed

(*Wrote this draft 2 years ago, but never published and was reminded about it yesterday when her ex-husband passed away. )

Watching Super Soul Sunday and something profoundly moves me.Madonna Badger, a woman from Connecticut, lost her three daughters and parents in a fire in her home on Christmas Eve 2011.

Now take that in.

Her older daughter was 9 and the twins were 7.  And her parents.  All in one night.
So much devastation and the woman is still standing.

She and Oprah talked about how lost loved ones are still with us.  Madonna shares her experience of conversations with her children and how mind-blowing it is.  She describes one particular time where her pain was so devastating, so deeply intense and the tears felt like blood coming from her eyes.  And she looked in the mirror and saw her children.  And they spoke to her and comforted her.  And she wanted to let who was with her know that it was real.

She says she can feel them and when this occurs her chest feels full.  And this only happens when she feels super present in her body. When she is bitter or angry, she cannot feel her children.

Whoa.  This struck my soul.

When I am bitter and angry, love does not come out.  Love is no where near.  Now, there is a place for anger and it can tell you where you need boundaries but staying in that place of anger and bitterness, does not move me forward and only leaves one stuck.  I have stayed angry about things for years and am slowly, slowly learning, I don't want to reside in anger any more.  I learn to allow anger to move through.  And I still stand amazed every time it does.

It seems Madonna's truth came quickly to her because it was the only way to experience her beloved children.

As Madonna vulnerably spoke this truth on this show, she commented that she doesn't understand why it is that way.

Anger does not take you to the profound places that love does. (Did I come up with this, I must have?)

Love is the answer. Love is always the answer.  And learning to love myself has always been the key to being able to turn it around and love others.

Namaste

Monday, February 6, 2017

Watching Unity on the Dance Floor



Saturday night was a Mardi Gras Ball for the Youth at our church.  My eighth grade daughter invited a study group of hers from school as her guests.  We made a production out of it with a pre-party at our house beforehand.  It was fun to have the teenagers come and watch the young ladies and gentlemen now mingle together with a tad bit of awkwardness.  I wish we could have invited everybody but as I put 8 kids into my 6 passenger car to drive them home, I know there is only room for so many. They begged to be together on the drive home and go to Waffle house after... but I declined the restaurant as I was wiped out.  Maybe I should have.  We are all only young once.

During the dance, I poured drinks for the attendees and chatted with the other chaperones and spied a little.   I really wanted to dance though.  I'm always called to the dance floor especially with some 80's music.  I did get to dance last weekend at another Mardi Gras Ball.  The whole family attended but did not dance together as I naively thought we would.  Who was I kidding?  They are almost both teenagers now.  What was I thinking?!!  I did get to sing Bon Jovi at the top of my lungs with a complete stranger.  So...much...fun!

Music has an energy all of it's own that is so good for the soul.

Who doesn't need some uplifting?

Towards the end of the evening,  I am counting down the minutes til it's time to bring the group home.  And then I hear "Don't Stop Believing" by Journey.  Oh yes!  They played this last year.  I climb up on the stage to video.  While I'm videoing, I hear the joyous screams that came with the massive shooting out of shiny confetti and I think how lucky I am to catch this on my phone.  Since then, I have watched this video over and over.  The energy of it captivates me.  I see such an exciting energy that only music can do.  As I hear the chorus of young voices chanting, "the smell of wine and cheap perfume," I chuckle.  And then as the beat of the music gets faster, I can barely make out but know the arms are in the air and bodies are jumping up and down. Together.  The foam fingers give it away.

Unity.  Excitement.  Energy.

That energy is so captivating.  On Sunday as I drove to pick up Mallory from a sleepover, I found the song and streamed it through the car speakers and turned it way up and sang very loudly as I can only do when I'm alone in my car.

My soul was uplifted and I went to a happy place.

I forget how much music moves me.

Namaste

(Enjoy - you may have to click it twice to go to You Tube to watch it)


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