Who, me?

how-we-sitSo, let me start this off by saying, I’m not sitting astride any high horse. Or even a short horse.  I’m definitely not balancing precariously on a soap box. But I have some thoughts that could give you that impression, so I feel like I need to get that disclaimer in. I’m thinking out loud, and forming some ideas, and as usual, I get sort of lonely just doing it by myself. Thanks for being here!
So, the other day, my eyes caught a Facebook status:

I have a friend who needs help.  Anything that you could give–they need perishable items that the food pantry cannot give, and also money for rent. I am unable to give any more details than that. Thank you.

And then, Frodo crashed down something in the kitchen in his attempt to get at the butter dish, and I got distracted. Like you do. girlthinking1But as I cleaned up the shards of yet another broken thing because of Frodo, I thought about that simple request. I remembered a vow I made to myself a few years ago, after feeling really stressed out that I wasn’t doing enough. You know? You ever have that worry that sort of hangs out around you, never leaving, like a 20 pound weight on your chest? Well, it was happening a lot; I was seeing so many folks so much less fortunate and blessed as I am, seeing people dedicating their whole lives to helping them, people starting fund-raisers, and all sorts of things, and consequently worrying myself crazy that I wasn’t doing enough. My mom’s words haunted me: If you find yourself fortunate, then that’s how you know God expects more from you.
And so, I decided I needed a plan, and it had to be completely unlike any other plan I’d ever made in my life, meaning, I had to actually stick with it. Being one of those people who adores the plan making process, but not so much the carrying out of said plan, I knew it had to be fairly simple and not too painful. So, I had to hold myself back from the idea of moving to Bangladesh , with four grumpy and bewildered Carrs, (and one nervous poodle) to devote myself to helping others, a thing that never would have happened, causing me to feel like a complete failure. No, it had to be something I could do fairly easily.
intention
And after a long a walk, I had it. And it was so simple, it made me giggle. I would give myself one rule, and one rule only : If someone comes across your path who needs help, and you are seeing it, that’s your sign that you are expected to help. That’s it. I didn’t have to go looking for it…I could instead sit like a big old spider in the middle of my web, and wait for things to get stuck in it.
Easy breezy beautiful.
So, upon seeing that status, I read it as if it were being written to me :

Dear Lisa, I have a friend who needs help.  Anything that you could give–they need perishable items that the food pantry cannot give, and also money for rent. I am unable to give any more details than that. Thank you. -God/Goddess/Universe/Angels

I went back to my tiny phone, and tried to find that status. Aha! Found it!! And I noticed something: there were many comments from people with several suggestions: Try this church, try this program, contact this person-they may know.. and on and on. All very well-meaning folks, but hear me: why are we always assuming that when folks ask for help, that surely they don’t mean US?
A while back, we were driving on the interstate and a car was pulled over. My youngest said, Mom! We gotta help them! And I found myself saying, Ah don’t worry sweetie. Someone will help. And his words that woke me up like cold water on my face:

Mom? Who is “someone”?

It was an innocent question, and not at all an accusation, but I found myself immediately calling the non-emergency 911 and letting them know the mile-marker where the car was stalled. It took TWO MINUTES. Yes, they probably had a cell phone. But, who knows? I don’t stop for stalled cars when I am traveling with children, but calling? I can definitely do that. I decided in that moment,

I am the someone.

How do I know I’m the someone who is supposed to help? Because I saw it. It landed in my web. I’m fortunate and blessed, meaning I’ve been given more so that I can GIVE more. That’s my sign. If I’m walking past someone on the street who asks me for money? That’s my sign. I don’t have to sit there and try to decide if they are worthy or not. God has filtered that out for me. Do I have cash in my wallet? Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. Do I have food to give? I remember a time my little daughter and I had her favorite black olive and mushroom pizza in the car, and were uncharacteristically met with a man at the stop sign off the interstate in our little town. His sign read:

Anything would help.

My little sweetheart looked down at her pizza, and at me, then back at her pizza. Mom, Can I see if he likes olives and mushrooms? To see his face light up when she asked him, is something that neither I or SHE will never forget. Kinsey knew she was up to bat. It was her turn to give, and she answered the call in the way children do, without hesitation or doubt.

How do you know if it’s your turn? Ask yourself these questions:

  1.  Are you being presented with an opportunity?
  2. Do you have what they need?
  3. Can you leave judgment behind, just for 5 minutes?
And usually, the answer will be: YOU are the someone. Sometimes it might be, call in a someone, but I’ve found that hardly is ever the case.  I’ll leave you with this quote from my favorite Momma T:

Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time, and always start with the person nearest to you. –Mother Teresa

Love you, Lis xoxoxoxo

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The Edge of 17

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And so she grows and learns about the world and herself and all the things I knew she would. And I am unable to do very little about any of it. When she was little, I could put myself between her and anything unpleasant or unsavory. I was able to control the world, because I was the world. And so I made it one full of kisses, and books, and Peter Rabbit; music and dancing and so much sugar. I’m glad her little body survived that.

kinsey-baby

 

I find myself still trying with all my might to be her world, and despite my sturdy composition and constant revolving, I’m not enough-not big enough, not expansive enough, and of course I’m not. Nor should I be. Except loving her has this huge side effect of wanting everything to be perfect and lovely.

It’s the craziest thing, being a mother who loves and hovers, but also is trying to attach wings to your child. I’m in this constant battle with myself: wings on. no wings OFF. Ok fine wings ON. Wait!state-2016

I hope I can find the grace to allow her to have her own path, not begrudgingly, not in a way that makes her keep looking back, but in a way that is something like a soft breeze in her hair. I’d like to pretend I’ll be a butterfly that delights and encourages her as she is on her path, and not an annoying fly. Or worse: a mosquito, draining her very life blood with constant nagging and why haven’t you called? Don’t you miss your mommy?!

kinsey-and-gage

 

People, let me be clear here: I’m gonna have to work very hard to float like a butterfly. My mosquito tendencies are very real.

momma-and-kinsey

Yes, that’s me with Kinsey inside my shirt. Did she do that? No, I probably did. Look at her face.

I’m starting to think, that while the whole world is focusing on kids growing up, that the real growth is taking place inside us parents. Yes, it’s all about us.  The real hardship is on us poor people who were given the most perfect and rare and unbelievable gift of a baby who sort of looks like us even and smells like heaven above. And our lives change completely; suddenly we know a different kind of love that is not the least bit selfish.

our-best-christmas-gift

But then, little by little, these little children grow, and take more and more steps away from us. And this might just be the hardest most wonderful thing ever. I believe my friend, G, would call it brutiful, a word which here means Beautiful plus Brutal.

kinsey-balloon

I am still sturdy, and I will be ever revolving, in case she ever needs a different world, and yes, this parenting is the hardest most wonderful job I’ve ever had. She’s on her way. Tell everybody..she’s on her way, and please picture me as a butterfly.

Kinsey and Daddy’s song:

Love, actually

Just this. And only this. But don’t watch unless you are prepared to feel all the feels.

 

Put on your perspectacles, a word which here means, the glasses you put on to see the world through eyes of  love–and watch for love today. Sometimes it’s sneaky, and hard to see. You may have to push aside some things for it to show up….but it’s there. ♥ And it’s the only thing that’s real.

Oh, and by the way? Favorite Christmas movie EVER.

Tapping, and I don’t mean dancing

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This post has been a long time coming. I can’t be sure if it’s because I was afraid of what people might think…if I actually put it out there, or if I was sort of enjoying being in the know, while other people weren’t? Sort of like being at a buffet and realizing that no one but you realizes there’s a tiny French chef in the corner with a torch preparing personal little dishes of Crème Brule’.

For whatever reason, I’ve kept this little nugget knowledge to myself, but now realize I just can’t. After all, we are all humans, doing this grand experiment of life, and we just can’t keep secrets that will help other humans in a major way…. can we?

I came to know of an amazing family, through one of my favorite, and most cherished mentors, Dr. Wayne Dyer. It’s the Ortner siblings: Nick, Jessica, and Alex. They’ve taken a technique, called EFT tapping, or meridian tapping, and brought it out to the world in the most non-woo-woo way possible.

psst! are you guys clicking when the text is a different color? If you click, it takes you to a website that explains what I’m talking about in detail!

But here’s the cliff notes for all of you NON CLICKERS….>>>>>>: girlthinking1

Dr. Wayne Dyer: Really cool guy, has since passed Earth School and has graduated to Heaven. Is probably the reason I don’t hate everyone who pushes my buttons or annoys me.. Has definitely changed to my life for the better through his books and meditations.
Tapping:
EFT, otherwise known as Emotional Freedom Techniques, is a type of Meridian Tapping that combines ancient Chinese acupressure and modern psychology with startling results.
Tapping can help people overcome  many issues. From pain relief, to healing childhood traumas, to clearing limiting financial beliefs, to weight loss, body image and food cravings, to fears and phobias, Tapping is proving to be a powerful, well-researched and easy to learn and apply technique.
Tapping utilizes the body’s energy meridian points by stimulating them with your fingertips – literally tapping into your body’s own energy and healing power.

So now I’ll tell you a little story, get comfy and gather round. Ever since I’ve learned about tapping, I’ve felt like a witch right out of Harry Potter with a magic wand. And like any magical person, why be a muggle, when you can be magic? jo.jpg

And so, I set out experimenting on anyone who wouldn’t say no all my favorite people. Quinn, my youngest, aged 9, developed a horrible infection in his hand, from the monkey bars at school. His hand started to puff up and streaks of red ran up into his arm. It was bad, and actually required a shot in his little patootie along with some strong antibiotics. Because everything always gets worse at night, he laid in bed sort of whimpering and not sleeping. There’s  only so much whimpering and not sleeping a mom can take, you know?

So, I tapped on the meridian points for Quinn, and just asked that he repeat my words. We acknowledged the pain and the swelling, along with the throbbing and the worry that all of this caused.( It’s so human of us to think that we will always feel horrible and never feel better.) And once Quinn seemed a bit calmer, I began reminding him that his body knew exactly what to do, much in the same way a body does not need to be told to beat a heart, or blink eyes, or heal a scratch. As I tapped on Quinn’s little face and chest I would say (with him echoing), I can go to sleep now, my body knows what to do and how to fix my hand. God made my body, and God energy fuels my body, so that same energy will heal me as I sleep.

Hand to heart my dear readers, Quinn began to yawn right after repeating these words, and couldn’t keep his eyes open. I covered him up, tiptoed out of his room, wondering how long this would last. You guys. Not only did Quinn sleep through the night, but his hand was so much better the next morning! And here were his delighted exclamations:

Mom! You know that thing you did to fix my hand? On my face and chest and stuff? It worked!! It did! It was like Morse Code for my body….or something!

I’ve since used tapping on many others, including myself, and found it to be one of the most amazing things ever. I don’t pretend to understand why it works, but I don’t really know how the internet works, either, and I use it 24/7 pretty often.

The thing I’m most interested in right now, being a former Early Childhood teacher, is how it has the power to change the lives of children, especially in a classroom setting. I can’t cliff notes this video, so just grab a Starbucks and watch:

Tell me you are not AMAZED. Just try. This is a thing. And it has been used with the children of Sandy Hook Elementary, thanks to the Ortners, to deal with post traumatic stress and upset over the horrible ordeal the teachers and children endured. It is powerful magic in a very muggle world. I want to give you an opportunity to buy this book for your children, because how many times as a parent have you said, I just don’t know WHAT to do, or HOW to help my child? The power to change everything is quite literally in your hands.

Click here to shop

The world outside of our homes can be hard to deal with, and why wouldn’t you put a wand in your child’s hand if you can?

hands-holding-time

 

The thing about learning this easy technique, is that once you know it, you know it. It’s forever in your toolbox, along with anyone you teach it to.

when-words-are-both-true-and-kind

 

Make Me Wear Waterproof Mascara

Tell me about how you used to think your two year-old would never sleep through the night. Assure me that I’ll get some sleep someday in long chunks of time as fat as a Twilight movie.

Help me to know that these heartbreaking fights I have with my teenager are normal, and necessary. When you tell me that, I feel like less of a failure.

You’ve worried about disagreements with your partner that seem to have no compromise, too? Tell me about that. It seems like everyone on Facebook is so in love, and are also soul mates, which is wonderful news for them, and sadly hard and overwhelming for everyone else. I want to hear about your struggles, because I actually thought you were one of those Facebook people.

I want to know the things that people don’t talk about above a sheepish whisper.

I want the 2 am digging into a gallon of chocolate chip with two spoons kitchen talk.

grief

I crave your eyes filled with tears, that instantly cause my eyes to fill with tears….because then I know your words come from the very deepest parts of your soul.

Please don’t give me the story you give every other person who really doesn’t want to hear anything other than….I’m fine! We  are fine! All of us are so busy and SO FINE!! because I’m not that person, and I just can’t handle anymore of that in my life.

 

buddha-grief-quote

I don’t have that kind of time. And I’m painfully aware of it.

I’m what you might call a  serious earth schooler, devouring every piece of information that exists on living and dying well. I don’t remember how I got here, but I feel that I ended up in this place for a very important purpose. Now, I’m not going to change the political world, or end up the CEO of a huge company, or anything like that. I’m far too laid back love Netflix in an unhealthy way and not nearly interested enough in Math or exact facts. But I feel compelled to live a joyful life, free of worry and full of heart-rich moments that fill my whole body with a buzz so violent, it can be felt 10 miles away. I believe this kind of life can be lived, where one really can’t wear anything but waterproof mascara, due to the excessive amount of grateful tears leaking out of one’s eyes like bad plumbing.

People like Glennon Doyle Melton, Brene Brown, and Elizabeth Gilbert  are my very favorite authors because they believe that our real power lies in our shared stories of shame, failure, and vulnerability.

Someone once asked G, “why do you cry so much?” Her response:
Same reason I laugh so much. Cause I’m paying attention.”

 

there-must-be-thoseGive me kitchen after the holidays messy.  Level with me. Be vulnerable with snot running down your face. Help me to live my life and illustrate to me that I’m not an alien and so very alone in my thoughts. I feel insane levels of courage when I know I’m surrounded by others who have decided to tell the truth even though it may not have had a storybook ending or fit into an inspiring Facebook post or Tweet. I want to talk to you about what your strategy is, the same way two coaches have a meeting over beers about all that they are going to accomplish this season.  I want to hear about the amazing book or soul-filled concert that changed the way you think about everything.

I will get downright AMEN!!!and ALLELUIA!!! about the time you found God/Angels/Universe conspiring in your favor, when two seconds before you thought all was lost. And I’ll tell you about mine.

amen

I am hungry for authentic earth school classmates who came here for the beautiful challenges of living a mysterious and unpredictable life. And nothing else will do.

Can You Read Backwords?

quinn-and-frodo

So my 10 year-old, Quinn, has been big into reversing words lately. It’s a phase, much like the eating only peanut butter and jelly sandwiches phase that all my kids have been through. Or the refusing to take a shower phase, not letting food touch phase, the Pokémon GO phase, or the not eating carbs phase. Wait. That last one was mine. Anyway, these things are all fleeting and are super fun and addictive for awhile.

Except the not eating carbs thing. That was a very dark time, friends.

I’ve been hearing all about words and their abilities to be the same exact thing, no matter which way they are read.
DEED 
LEVEL 
PIP 
BOOB POP POOP
MADAM 
EYE 
NUN 
RADAR 
TOOT 

These are palindromes, and they are fascinating to Quinn. But he didn’t stop there. He decided to look at words backwards, and see what they spelled. When he went into that territory, I almost said, “Oh yes! Like Redrum!” but then I remembered that Quinn is 10, and doesn’t really need to know about films that include psychotic breaks and possessed children.

DESSERTS-STRESSED, KNITS-STINK, RAW-WAR, PALS-SLAP, STRAW-WARTS

But then he came upon one that made us both stop in our tracks.

GOD-DOG

Quinn’s smile was slow like a train just coming to life on the tracks. I loved watching it gain speed. He ran to our dog, Frodo, and hugged him. “Yes!” he kept exclaiming. “YES!” and then he came and hugged me. “I like that, Mom! so much!”

I liked it, too.  When I think about the dogs in my lifetime, they’ve all shared the same qualities:

playful, joyful, wordless comfort, deep wisdom, innocence,loving, kind, protective, forgiving, humble, miraculous, faithful, devoted, loyal, insightful…..

And isn’t my list of God qualities the same? I think that’s the way truth feels-like the happiest slap across the face you’ll ever get, you know?

Children and dogs, dogs and children. I swear to you, they are my favorite teachers. It makes me think of one of my favorite quotes by Elizabeth Chase Allen:

Backward, turn backward, O time, in thy flight;
Make me a child again, just for to-night.

Watch this. Tell me that you can’t spot God in this place.

(P.S. for all my wordpress people, I’m really sorry about this new theme. It’s not set up yet, and I’m sort of over trying to figure it out today it’s bothering me, too. Bear with me! )

Oh Christmas Tree

And so I find myself back on WordPress, after a scandalous affair with Facebook. Yes, dear chirping crickets….it was wild. And at first, it seemed I had made a clever decision. So many readers saying, WordPress? Why do I have to go THERE? in the most heartbreaking tone EVER. And the traffic was fabulous. Like New York at rush hour FABULOUS. And then it wasn’t. Facebook became less friendly about promoting me for free (whatever facebook), and it turns out that I’m not much into writing Diary Style. As in, just for MYSELF to read.

Who knew?

I’m not sure what that says about me and my craft of writing, a term which here means,

1. understands the difference between two, too, and to.

2. is a voracious reader who probably is accidentally stealing other people’s words and ideas.

3. Loves the instant happiness that can only come from someone commenting, “LOVE THIS!!”

And so.

I find that I’m actually able to write better, simply because of the italics function. I’m a big stressor. I emphasize certain words, and “airquote” often when I’m doing the other thing I love to do, which is TALK. When I write, I’m really just talking. And without that little italics function, I’m having to ALL-CAP it, which leaves me feeling misunderstood, or like I’m from the Bronx or something. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it’s not accurate. I’m from the world’s smallest town in Iowa, living in a similarly small town in South Dakota. I’m so italics, it’s not even funny.

The plan was to write to you about my Christmas tree, and I got a bit sidetracked. This is real life in the world of Lisa–so many topics, so little focus. It’s possible that I have some undiagnosed attention things going on, but who has the time for that. I’m sort of counting on my readers to be more clear-headed and able to follow my thought patterns that zig and zag.

christmas-1

This isn’t OUR Christmas tree. But I really like this picture.

(And by the by, thank you dear readers for your focus. Treasure it, we don’t all have it.)

As I walked by our half-decorated tree, that as it was being trimmed, had my children howling in laughter at some of the old decorations, I stopped to look at some of them. Some of them were funny. My middle son had at some point made a Santa decoration in preschool that looks more like an overweight octopus with a jaunty hat and eyes that twinkle. I’m a big photo-inserter of Christmas hangings, and so the little pictures of their chubby cheeks and smiles completely void of any sort of self-conscious vanity seem hilarious to the much older and wiser children who snap dozens of cool selfies (friend approved only).

They have a somewhat different effect on me.

the-three-kids

The older and wiser children: (15, 16,and 9)

The three kids oh christmas.jpg

I suppose it’s terribly cliché and overdone, but the feelings I get from all this history hanging on one huge 10 foot Christmas tree that I pulled out all the stops to get (and by all the stops, I mean to say, I threw away every stitch of my pride and begged)–can be overwhelming.

As my dear friend said just this morning,

Man are we hard on ourselves. I mean, we have children who are well fed, have a roof over their heads and warm beds, plenty of clothes and seem somewhat happy.  And we did that! We are really doing just fine, aren’t we?

And isn’t she right? Somehow, despite all the doubts and dysfunction, we’ve raised these children who can go forward into the world with corny pictures of themselves, and stories of the time mom started crying because she really wanted a 10 foot Christmas tree, and family Christmases of Santa bringing anything from surprisingly large air hockey tables to plane tickets. We’ve done that.

There’s so much we worry about as parents. Maybe we should have fed the kids more vegetables and started juicing so they love kale? Should we have forced them to learn an instrument? What have we been feeding them that will someday be banned in every country-even the US? Do they do enough charitable work?

But staring at our Christmas tree full of the past, takes me down memory lane faster than a near death experience.  There’s a crystal clear ballerina with a pink tutu for the time Kinsey wanted to be a dancer, a coca cola bottle because it was Gage’s favorite (still is) , a pineapple for the first time we took the kids out of the country, and all those handmade ornaments that if you hold them up to your ear, you can hear a poor harried teacher sobbing in the background because of all the glue mishaps and complete bedlam that comes from attempting to turn out somewhat decent crafts (or at least as lovely as the teacher’s in the class next door.)

Maybe once a year, it’s ok to put all your accomplishments (as parents who may not be perfect, but sure do try hard)– out there in one not-so- convenient-to -get -Into -a-tree-stand and very large Christmas tree.

Maybe.

But just once a year. And I think we may need a slightly bigger tree next year to fit all the new ornaments from this year. I better get busy working on my tears.

 

oh christmas tree.jpg

 

 

 

Eating Art

maurice sendak

So, I just read a story of Maurice Sendak, the great children’s author/illustrator. He talked about the highest compliment he was ever paid as an author. A little boy had sent him a very thoughtful letter. It was particularly wonderful, and so Mr. Sendak drew him a picture, and sent it.

His mother sent back a thank you, gushing about how much it meant to her son. Her words, “He carried the picture with him everywhere he went. But, eventually, he just couldn’t stand it, and he ATE the picture. He loved it THAT much.”

Maurice marveled at how much that hand-drawn picture could have fetched if the family had decided to sell it. At the very least, it could have been framed and kept forever. But the very act of what this boy did showed his love and appreciation better than any of those more “normal” reactions.

I seriously love this more than I’ve loved any story in a long time. As I drink my morning coffee this morning, I pondered it. WHAT do I love about this so much? Which part?

Passion.

I think that’s it. This little Art-Eater is ON FIRE about life. ON FIRE. When I walked the road this morning, I think I can understand, or at least come close to the feeling of ON FIRE. I understand loving what you see SO much….you want it to be inside of your body…you want to join with it.

If I could, I would eat the blue sky with the wispy clouds that make me think of a fancy dress. I would devour the tall wildflowers, and gobble up the rich earth that smells like God.

It’s how I want to live my life. Eating the ART that is everywhere I look.

The Prodigal Writer

No, this isn't MY SPACE. I tried every which way to take a SELFIE. I gave up. Resorted to ole' phone in the mirror trick.

No, this isn’t MY SPACE. I tried every which way to take a SELFIE. I gave up. Resorted to ole’ phone in the mirror trick.

Knock knock! Anybody home? I know I’ve been gone for a bit….where IS everyone? It’s like a ghost town around here!

Wow. I have some work to do. I need to go find my friends!!

I’m kinda scared.

Friends?

FRIENDS!!! Yoooooooooooooooooooooooohoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!

To be continued in the following edition, entitled: Lisa returns, for better or worse.

Teacher Boy

Teach me how to do that.

To stand alone and face your fear head on. Continue reading