A Long Way From Home, Day 1


Yesterday was a long day: early morning traveling, frantic connection in our first stop, keeping up with my girl and keeping her close in the airports, and getting everyone and everything where it needed to go. Then, once we were established and fed, I set about unpacking while the hubby went to sleep and my girl played with Grandma. I didn’t find my rest until late last night when I opted to go to sleep rather than watch some late-night Netflix.

Today is Sunday, the day to see and be seen by the most people at any one time. To be covered in the flowery perfumes of the church ladies I’ve known all my life, deposited by enthusiastic hugs and Oh-my-sweet-good-to-see-you’s. Church is the place for us to be seen and shown off and delighted in by my parents. The educated, successfully-married daughter, the devoted, intelligent son-in-law, and the bright, bouncy, pretty granddaughter. I hope we do in fact make them as proud as everyone says we do. Admittedly, coming home and going to church can feel very awkward for me. I feel like everyone’s looking at me and weighing me against my former self. I know that this is likely merely my (incorrect) perception but it’s a difficult thought at times because there’s no way of divest anyone of a wrongful notion in two hours.

The more I come back, the more I realize how much where I live has actually become home now, rather than this place where I spent the first seventeen years of my life. I will always be a visitor here now, or at least that is how I feel. The school I went to, while the structures are still there, feels massively changed. The pastors are once again those from my childhood, but the staff of the church and the school is composed of both familiar and strange names, though mostly strange, death, illness, and circumstance having taken or moved on many of the people who were flagstones of those formative years. The church building that I grew up in is simultaneously the same and entirely different. The building is brand new, only 10 or 11 years old, a completely different edifice from the one I knew.  So this church really isn’t home anymore. I’m even too afraid to even touch the (grande) piano that sits on the platform. It’s not the piano on which I learned my scales or triumphed in my senior recital. It has never known my touch and so the entire building often feels alien and fragile to me.

My bedroom in my parents’ house is no longer my room. My bed is not my bed, but–quick sidenote–it is a marvelous bed! Beautiful dark-wood four-poster frame, elevated just enough that I actually have to climb into bed. A queen mattress to our full at home, I can also safely sprawl out in it and yet not disturb the hubby with my limbs all akimbo. Glorious! I may never own a King-sized bed but this is definitely the next best thing. End sidenote.

I love my family, and I am very glad that I have the opportunity and privilege to see them as often as I do. At one point this afternoon, there were two of my mother’s sisters in the house and one of her brothers on the phone, which we were passing around (as he lives up Lousiana-way). My girl was in raptures over the hand-me-down toys and sundries that one of her great aunts had brought her and I informed my uncle that he had best not get rid of his partner or kid about it since the family agrees that we like her better than we do him.

So today was a touch pensive but enjoyable, things to think about and others to rejoice in. Except for the part where my daughter was up at five-thirty and is only now going to bed at nine with nary a nap between. It’s enough to make a mother follow suit.

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A Long Way from Home – Day 1: Bumping My Happy


Back again in my childhood home. Haven’t even been here 24 hours and already someone in my family has commented that I look like I’ve gained weight. Not “You look nice” or “It’s good to see your face”. Heck, I would have even taken a “You look absolutely exhausted”  after twelve hours of traveling today. But, no, I get “But it looks like you’ve put on some weight.” Thanks. Really, thanks a lot. Sufficed it to say, coming back to my childhood home is almost never good for my self-esteem and, unfortunately, I don’t think it’s ever going to change. It’s always been this way. It doesn’t make it kind or right but it’s been happening for as long as I can remember. People who really have no business  commenting on others’ bodies (and often no leg to stand on) make snide comments that are really expected to be taken as a joke when, at best, they are assuming and dismissive and, at worst, can be emotionally devastating.

I have told the story of how a favorite dress (a gorgeous maroon and black cheongsam) was left to fade away into obscurity in my closet because someone thought it was their place and job to thoughtlessly inform me that I looked fat in it. What I will never forget is how confused he seemed when I told him not to speak to me anymore and to go away. As if he just couldn’t grasp why I was so upset. I know I spoke to that young man briefly at least one other time after that, when I was in grad school. This time, he expressed his surprise that I had a boyfriend but wouldn’t explain just why it was surprising. I will admit that I most definitely unfriended, deleted, and/or blocked him on all levels and platforms after that. That was an energy and presence that I just didn’t need.
Energy. I hadn’t thought of it that way but it’s an almost perfect example. It’s very, very hard when you expend such energy on your life, on doing what’s good for your family, for your child, for your friends, and for yourself, only to have the only thing remarked on to be your physical weight. Your particular form’s relationships with gravity. Just as you pour your energy out, others pour their energy into you, and deciding what to do with it–to use it to make bricks to add to my path or to sit in it and let it suck me down further–is really hard sometimes. The struggle is so very real when my happy-with-myself gets bumped. I do my best to either reply nicely or not reply at all. This seems like a prime opportunity to practice grace, as well as salting my words and reminding myself of my glorious.

Sacred Spaces: My Backyard


For a long while, I have had a blank document sitting in my Microsoft Word and it is entitled “Sacred Spaces”. I had an idea of what I wanted to write in it but could never quite find the words to express it. Also, what specific spaces would I write about? Then, this morning, it came to me. Well, the beginning did.

After our walk this morning, I took my daughter out to our backyard to play. I sat on the porch swing that is hung on our swing set frame beneath a large oak and made myself stay put while she ran to and fro between the swing set/slide and her playhouse just beyond our mulberry tree. This is one of my sacred spaces: my morning backyard. I love my backyard in the mornings. Overspread with deliciously cool shade,Sacred spaces - backyard only dappled by the sun, and a cool eastern breeze at my back. Heavenly! Now, sometimes, my backyard isn’t quite so pleasant. If it has been frequently rainy or muggy, the bugs are often out in force, which means nothing good for me. But, on an average morning, this is its norm. I spent our time in the backyard swaying placidly in the big swing, enjoying the breeze on my back and shoulders, my reverie only broken by Elizabeth’s request for me to help her into her swing and then swing in the “big girl” swing beside her. Later, I held her on my lap while she drank some water and, together, we listened in silence to the world. We heard the leaves rustling with the breeze, the birds chirping in branches nearby, the deep barking of dogs down the street, and the distant rumble of an oncoming train.

This is one of the places where my daughter learns about the world around her. It is where she is learning to play and climb and imagine. It is where she pulls bark off the oak to look at it more closely. It is where she strips the leaves off a fallen branch to make a sword. It is where she picks grass blades in order to “cook food” in her playhouse. It is where she picks a handful of “flowers” (weeds) and tosses them into the air with a joyful abandon. This is where she worships in her own toddler way.

This sacred space is where I am learning, too. I am learning to breathe, to inhale the quiet that can be found in the foreground of a moment and let the rest fade into the background. I am learning to release my fear and worry and to trust my child’s courage. I am learning to sit in silence and just be, to feel the heartbeat of the world and to find my soul reaching out to it. This is where I am remembering that God will be Who He will be. Remembering that God will be just what I need as I go through life. I have sat in this backyard time and again, sometimes in tears, sometimes in frustration, sometimes in so much pain that I can barely breathe. I have shared this pain with others and borne it alone. Other times, I have sat in this place and shared laughs and stories with family and friends, the fire casting golden glows over our faces or the moon its blue moonlight over our forms. Three years ago, I sat in the quiet around dying embers and marveled in awe at the truth that my husband and I would soon be parents. I have found my heart bursting with joy for the beauty and peace that can be found in so small and simple a place as I call home.

This is my sacred space. This is my holy ground.

Well, one of them anyway. As I said, this is the beginning.

 

NaBloPoMo 2014 Day 10: Home is where the Heart Is


On the way home from errands today, I was listening to Michael Buble’s Christmas album (hush, I can listen to music whenever I please, regardless of season) and he began to sing “I’ll Be Home for Christmas”. I always smile when I hear that song, remembering the years that I would board two to three planes to wend my way to my home with my parents for the holidays. Now, more and often, I realize that I will be home for Christmas, without ever leaving.

I have lived in Indiana for the past fourteen years, the first six of which I was in undergrad and then graduate school. Ever since I first set foot in this state, I knew I was where I was supposed to be. It wasn’t for several years that I would come to call it home, however. When I left southern Indiana and headed north of Indy for graduate school, I was homesick for my world of the past four years something terrible. I promised myself that this new city would “never be home”. I have no problem admitting that I was terribly, terribly wrong. It is most definitely home. It is where I live with my husband, where my daughter was born, where my in-laws live, where I first started my teaching career. It is where I discovered myself and crafted my life as an adult. This is home. Amongst the fields, the woods, the cities, and the surprising little towns. That’s not to say that the place where I grew up isn’t home as well. It is. It keeps my family and my memories, but it is more ‘childhood home’, where I used  to live. My bedroom in my parents’ house is a guest/craft room now, with only a few vestiges of it ever having belonged to a kid-teenager-young woman at one point. But that’s all right.

This is where my heart is. This is home. I will be home for Christmas, and that makes my heart swell.

That Time of Year


It’s fast approaching. That time of year. The holidays. Dinners and parties and get-togethers. Decorating, dressing, and entertaining. The time to decorate our homes with warm fall colors, pumpkins, squashes, autumnal leaves. And I look around my little house and wonder, “What I can do to make it look classy and gorgeous for the holidays. How I can make it perfect?”

That’s the trap, though, isn’t it? Perfection. I want my home to be warm and inviting, to smell of spiced cider and cranberry. I want people to walk into my home and gasp (or at least smile) at the elegance of the decoration because, let’s be honest, there’s nothing elegant about my house in and of itself. I want to make it worth the drive for people to come to my home. I want my table to be lovely. I want my living room to be clean, classy, and inviting. I want people to be comfortable and delighted in my home, simple though it may be. As I look around, I cannot help but wonder if they would be now. My child’s toys are tucked into a corner and in front of the entertainment center in my living room, and the fake fireplace of said entertainment center no longer works, which makes me sad (it served me well for almost six years, though). Half of the bookshelves are overflowing and really need to be neatened up. My couches could use a good scrubbing. So I look at the inner sanctum of my life and wonder what I can do to make it elegant and perfect. I want my home to be worth the travel. I just changed the curtains and put new covers on the couch pillows so now they all tie in with the couches and the floor rug and are rather pretty in their greens, browns, tans, and blues. But I still wonder: what more can I do? What can I do to make it perfect?

I want my home to be a place where people feel safe and comfortable and at home. Where they can come to rest and enjoy the company of friends and feel welcome. But I don’t want to get caught in that trap of being perfect. My home will never grace the pages of a magazine. I will never have articles written about my decorating style and creative hacks. And that’s OK. I don’t want that. I want a living room full of friends lounging on couches, flopped on pillows, curled up in blankets with mugs of cider or mulled wine, talking, laughing, and enjoying each other’s company. So I guess the question should be: what can I do to make my home welcoming? What can I do to make my home a place where people feel safe, refreshed, encouraged, and always welcome?

Because I want you to be.

Hold On


From a Mother to her Daughter:

“Home” by Phillip Phillips

Hold on, to me as we go
As we roll down this unfamiliar road
And although this wave is stringing us along
Just know you’re not alone
Cause I’m going to make this place your home

Settle down, it’ll all be clear
Don’t pay no mind to the demons
They fill you with fear
The trouble it might drag you down
If you get lost, you can always be found

Just know you’re not alone
Cause I’m going to make this place your home

Settle down, it’ll all be clear
Don’t pay no mind to the demons
They fill you with fear
The trouble it might drag you down
If you get lost, you can always be found

Just know you’re not alone
Cause I’m going to make this place your home

= = = =

1/14/13 – And because I took it today and found it gorgeous, here’s a pic of baby girl and Daddy. hold on to daddy