When the Ground is Unsteady

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The best-laid plans…

My plans for this year went to pot two weeks ago when I did a scary thing and accepted a last-minute teaching position at the same corporation where my husband teaches.

This was not what I had planned on! I had spent the latter part of the summer framing my mind to being home with my daughter for one last year. I enrolled her in part-time preschool, accepted an invitation to be a contributing writer with My Trending Stories, was planning my time and our budget to save more, cook at home more often, and maintain my workout routine. I was dreaming of enjoying walks and park time with my daughter, intentional time with dear ones, and time to dedicate solely to writing while my girl was preschool. And now, in a perfect hurricane of change, all of those plans have been shattered and my life feels as though it has shrunk immensely. I get up, I go to work, I pick Elizabeth up from daycare, I pick up or make dinner, I care for/play with Elizabeth, I put/wrestle her into bed, and finally collapse myself. There is very little time for what I love, for what gives me joy, and precious little energy with which to do or enjoy right now.

So, even though I know–I KNOW–that this is a good position, in a good building, with good people, and a good salary, I have to admit to having a very difficult time surrendering my plans to God right now. I am mourning the loss of them, the dream of them. The dream of what I thought God was calling me to. I miss my girl, I miss the life we had together. I miss the opportunities that I was looking forward to. Now, I am nothing if not unsure.  Right now, all I know to do is to get up and go to work each day. I have signed a contract for this year; I will honor my word. I will pick up my daughter from daycare each day. I will feed my family. I will clean house when I can. I will leave work at work as much as I can (though all teachers know just how futile this can be at times), and try to live life in the small spaces.

I gave a commencement address this summer where I spoke on not being afraid of being small, that greatness can be in the small things.  Right now, my life feels small, contracted down to the barest of routines with little room for the unexpected magnificent. All I can do is get up each day, keep my word, and do the best I can for my family and for myself and soul. Tonight, my daughter and I will have dinner with some good friends; a small pocket of time carved out that means so much because it shows that we are loved and cared for. All I can do right now is be small and try to live fully in the small spaces. Even if I don’t understand, even if I’m not totally sure of where I am or where I am supposed to be. I guess, for now, I’m here. I may not be entirely happy about that fact but, then again, I don’t think I necessarily have to be. Happiness has never been a requisite for me working hard and doing my best. I may not want to be teaching, do not yearn for it with all my heart. This was, honestly, a purely logical choice, for the good of my family. And that will have to do for now, I think.

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Running On Ahead

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My mothering thoughts today.

I Have a Forever

Today was the day. That day. That first day. Today was my girl’s first day at daycare. And tomorrow will her first day of preschool. Her first day(s) in the care of someone not a parent or grandparent.

Only a week and a half ago, I accepted a very last-minute position and, in a positive gale of13872934_10153805997603133_477313044703904389_n change, have returned to teaching this year. This was not what I had planned for, not what I had settled on, and so it has been quite a tumultuous time. One of the most difficult parts for me, however, has been the realization and reality that I would not be able to be there for her first day of school. I will not be there to hold her little hand and walk her to her class. I will not be there to see her face light up with excitement or grow sober with…

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Not Perfect. Functional.

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On the eve of my next major life change (going back to work after three and a half years of being a stay-at-home mother), I can honestly only liken these moments to the ones after I found out that I was pregnant. It was not a perfect moment; I was in pain from a pulled back and other momentary health issues, frustrated from other life stuff, and exhausted from what would turn out to be my first trimester. It was not an Instagram-video worthy moment full of giggles and squeals and a positive pregnancy test. The joy would come later. For the moment, it was me sitting the doctor’s office, a Kleenex clutched in one hand, two prescriptions in the other, and my doctor having wisely given me a few moments alone for it to sink in. It was not perfect. I was not ready, despite a child being what we had planned on, tried, and hoped for. In my eyes, I was not perfect. In my estimation, I was not ready. But I was functional. And that would have to do for that moment.

When Elizabeth was born, her bedroom was not finished, much to my chagrin. Her wall decorations weren’t done, pictures weren’t hung up, rocking chair wasn’t bought yet. Like me, it was not perfect or “ready” but it was functional. The bassinet, crib, chest of drawers, and changing table were sturdy and would safely hold my infant and her things. The room, while far from finished or ready in my eyes, would serve its purpose. “Finished” came with time. “Functional” served right then.

Right now, I am far from perfect. I am leaving the spaces and child that have been my world these past few years. I am not ready (my girl might be but I am most certainly don’t feel so, ironically enough). My classroom will not be ready; things will not be just as I would have them. I will not be entirely comfortable, or even comfortable at all at first. I don’t even know if this is my intended path. I’d need God’s eyes for that so I will have to have faith and trust what I cannot see.

I am not perfect. I don’t feel ready. But I am functional.

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Evenings’ Readings

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I’m getting back into the practice of reading before bed. So here are my bedtime books for the past two nights:

You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) by Felicia Day. I haven’t really been a big fan of Felicia’s before but I really enjoy her writing style. It’s bright and conversational and fun. Feels like chatting over dessert.

Hamilton: The Revolution by Jeremy McCarter and Lin-Manuel Miranda. This tome is big and beautiful and an utter delight. I am a process person so reading about Lin and Hamilton’s process of becoming is amazing. And his libretto annotations? Sheer joy!

Ten Years Worthy: The Right to Celebrate

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Today, I celebrate my tenth wedding anniversary, a decade of marriage. While other hearts are full of grief and sadness and heartbreak for a myriad of other reasons and they are wading and sorting their way with bare-nerved pain through some of the most difficult of processes, today I celebrate love and progress and growth and partnership. And I have to admit something: the brain weasels threaten and the question rises in the back of my mind like a lump in my throat, a weight in my chest that threatens to stifle and suffocate.

What right do I have to it? What right do I have to be happy, secure, and glaringly in love? What right have I to celebrate in the midst of the trials and troubles of those in my life? I know that I have written on this before, though the circumstances and point of the writing were somewhat different. Still, it is a notion that I struggle with, this right to feel happy, to be happy.

And yet I will. Not necessarily because I deserve to be happy but because I choose to be. Twelve years ago, I made the choice to say yes to the young man who asked me on a date after chivalrously driving me to the airport to fly home for my aunt’s funeral. I chose to say yes when he stood in my dorm room on a Tuesday a year later and those blue eyes of his asked me to marry him (partially because I didn’t give his voice a chance to get the words out). I made and still make a choice to say yes every time since then that he has asked me if I am sure, if I am happy, if I am still glad that I joined my life to his.

Yes. I am sure.

Yes. I am happy.

Yes. I am still glad that I am here, that I am his wife, that we are family, that we are together.

I say yes because it is the truth.Today, I will pray for those who hurt, who are in pain. Today, I will put on a slinky dress (congrats to any fellow fans who get that reference) and enjoy a beautiful dinner with wonderful people and celebrate all that is good in life, for, yes, there is much good. Amidst darkness and pain and sorrow and grief, there is good. There is grace. There is hope. And I will celebrate it all today.

Today, I will pray for those who hurt, who are in pain. Today and every day, I will do my best to care for, encourage, love on, and support them, as they have always done in pouring out themselves for me. But, today, I will also put on a slinky dress (congrats to any fellow fans who get that reference), enjoy a beautiful dinner with wonderful people, and celebrate all that is good in life, for, yes, there is much good. Amidst darkness and pain and sorrow and grief, there is good. There is grace. There is hope. There is love. There is family. There are triumphs. There is new life. And I will celebrate it all today.

 

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Photography by Jordan Barclay. http://jordanbarclay.com

 

 

Succumbing to the Beat

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So. It has finally happened. I have succumbed to the beat. I have been enthralled by the story lived out in music. I have been captured by history dusted off, shined up, and with new life breathed into it.

Yes, I am talking about Hamilton. After seeing the company’s performance at this year’s Tony Awards, I am officially a Hamilton fan. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s music is amazing and has swayed even my heart, which has never really been drawn to hip-hop as a first choice. I have listened to the soundtrack in bits and pieces, thanks to Pandora, and I have just finished on my first full run-through of the cast recording as I post this.

I must admit that I am drawn hard to the story/triangle of Alexander Hamilton, his wife Eliza Schuyler, and her

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Left to right – Renee Elise Goldsberry: Angelica Schuyler, Lin-Manuel Miranda: Alexander Hamilton, Christopher Jackson: George Washington, and Philippa Soo: Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton. Photo credit: Tyranny of Style

elder sister Angelica. The ladies’ main songs: “The Schuyler Sisters”, “Helpless”, “Satisfied”, “Take a Break”, and “Burn” tell a story of hardships and the pulls between head and heart, the decisions that are so difficult to make but that we make because we think them the best ones for our families, and even the selfishness of human emotion and ambition and its effects on those we love. Angelica’s introduction of Hamilton to Eliza–who is previously established as struck “helpless” by the familyless, penniless revolutionary–not only kept Angelica free, as the eldest, to seek her fortune through marriage but, as she points out, “At least I keep his eyes in my life.” But the drama doesn’t end there, believe me. Human lives are never devoid of such, after all. Act II will break your heart, by the by. I’m talking tears and tissues, people. As a friend recommended, don’t be driving (or really doing anything else) while you’re listening to Act II. Act I will make you dance. Act II will bring all the feels, break your heart, melt it back together, and shatter it all over again.

Lin-Manuel Miranda’s excellent song sets, lyrics, and composition beautifully tell this story of a “young, scrappy, and hungry” revolutionary and his contemporaries but also paint him as an ambitious and very flawed man. Eager to rise up from his obscure, tragic beginnings and make a mark upon the world, Hamilton takes his shot, often making his said shot, but also makes mistakes–grievous, damaging mistakes–as well as powerful moves in the development of this newborn country and has to live with the consequences of those mistakes, moves, and decisions, both in his professional life as well as his private one. Miranda has a way of writing conversational lyrics that flow almost like honey. Not thick or cumbersome but well-formed, belonging together, and intentional. They also beat and burst through your chest with anger, fire, frustration, passion, determination, courage, fear, and defeat. Every emotion on the spectrum is touched on and poured out in the cast’s voices and performance as they wend their way through Hamilton’s story and those of the lives of those he touched. As he lives and dies and they tell his story.

I am thoroughly enthralled, happily seduced by a new (old) story soaring in a tornado of music. I am so excited that people, especially young adults and children, are becoming so passionate about this show and the history that it represents and presents, as well as the

 

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Lin-Manuel Miranda, creator, portraying the titular character in Hamilton.

ceilings and barriers that it shatters in encouraging young actors and actresses to pursue whatever parts their hearts lead them to. I can only hope that I will have the privilege of seeing this fantastic show in person on its tour some day soon.

 

Now, if you’ll excuse me. *puts my earbuds in and presses PLAY*

Spreading My Wings

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Hello, Friends! I have excellent news and I’ve apparently been lax in disseminating it. I have been invited (and have accepted said invitation) to become a contributing writer to a new website out of New York called My Trending Stories. As my husband loves to point out to me and others: they sought me out. They have read my blog and think that my writing aligns with their vision of giving freedom of voice back to writers and promote a community of inclusion and support. I have to admit to being a little flabbergasted by this; that a team of individuals were actively seeking out me and my writing to include in their community. It’s a rather…immense feeling.

I have to admit that I am extremely nervous about this but excited at the same time. I would appreciate your prayers and good thoughts as I try to write with my head and my heart, what is important as well as what I feel I need to write. And, in case you haven’t noticed, I want to make you all, my little community, proud, too.

Here’s to new steps and spreading my wings a little more.

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