Bracing from Buoyancy to Letdown

Last week, I rode a high brought on by the spectacular live performance of Jesus Christ Superstar that aired on NBC’s network on Easter Sunday, starring John Legend, Sara Bareilles, and Brandon Victor Dixon. I had never seen a production of JCS or listened to any of the soundtrack before, so this was an entirely new experience for me. Godspell I was familiar with, but I had never gotten to know JCS, although I knew of it.

All last week, the strains and melody of “Everything’s Alright” were the undercurrent of my days. I even found myself singing the first stanza of the song to a student who was nervous and stressed about a test they had in my class. All week, this musical—this story of Judas, Jesus, and deep, soul-searing humanity—buoyed me up and kept me afloat. The actors’ faces have shown up in my dreams. Their voices have filled my quiet moments, my heart and soul birthing prayers from the lyrics they breathe and belt.

Jesus Christ Superstar has been a Godsend of a soul lift, one that I have needed deeply and dearly. It has been a difficult few months, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. I have felt heavy, off-center, not myself. Nothing has felt aligned—not my emotions, my prayers/time with God, my sleep, my libido, my energy, my reactions and responses, nothing. Often, all I want to do after a full day of teaching is hide in my room with my earbuds in and not speak or have to spend spoons on anyone. Of course, unfortunately, this means my family suffers from my lack of presence and being present. For weeks, it’s been this way, this off-centeredness, so to feel the buoyancy of this beautiful musical was nothing short of a miracle. As we head into a new week, though, I find myself fearing.

I fear the letdown. Buoyancy like this doesn’t last as the novelty becomes commonplace. I fear the shine falling off, the powerful lyrics becoming ordinary as I listen to them over and over. I fear that the off-centeredness returning, the heavy tiredness settling on my shoulders and sapping my spoons and energy. It is like the winter weather, which seems to refuse to let go as, morning after morning, now into April, I wake to snow on the ground where previously there was none. Like that unexpected snow, I silently worry that the low places will return, and I’ll crash back to earth again. That sudden stop hurts, like a lot.

This past weekend, as I embarked to the grocery store on my own (a rare thing), I kept my earbuds in as I did my shopping, humming and mouthing lyrics to JCS’s pieces, and there was a freedom there. A soaring amidst the mundane, and I realized how much I have missed it. I’ve missed feeling freedom. Freedom to be me and enjoy what brings me life and joy. Even though I am afraid that it won’t last, for now I will hold onto it. Hold onto that freedom, that soaring, those miracles amidst the mundane. I will keep on singing, sharing, and hoping that this is just the beginning of feeling like myself again.


What a T-shirt Reminded Me About Love

Today was the first day of my Spring Break, and I spent the day (and an empty house) running errands and sprucing up the place for Spring/Motherly visit/Easter weekend. As I knew that I had errands to run after dropping my daughter off at preschool, I simply pulled on jeans, flats, and a favorite t-shirt before shrugging on my coat (yes, it’s still ridiculously cold for spring). A clearance buy from, this shirt was a soft red with “Love is a Verb” lettered on the front in white stylized artistry. Yes, it is definitely a favorite: comfy and truthful.

A lesson I have taken to heart over the past ten years is the exact one this shirt expounds. Love is many things. It is not only a feeling, an emotion. Love is a choice. Love is an action. Love is doing for others, not just saying the three little words. As I moved throughout my day, I found myself contemplating the words on my shirt: “Love is a verb.” I started to look at my day’s activities in the light of this sentence. And I realized just how true it is.

I realized that I was loving my dear ones by taking care of getting the taxes done (almost always a depressing endeavor). We’ve had the same wonderful professional taking care of our taxes since the first year of our marriage because I fully and openly acknowledge that tax codes and laws are something I am complete and utter rubbish at. Utilizing someone else’s skills and expertise helps my family in the best way while also keeping us as safe from mistakes as possible.

I was loving as I washed dishes, cleaned the stove, and tidied the kitchen table, creating space ready for cooking and eating and ease of finding things.

I was loving as I filed away my daughter’s preschool worksheets and projects, saving evidence of her progress and growth for her grandmother to see, as well as the future.

I was loving as I filled the washing machine and folded the already-dried towels, ensuring that my dear ones have clean clothes to wear tomorrow and days after.

I was loving as I sorted through toys and tidied my girl’s table where she creates her art and plays with her Legos.

As I worked and cleaned, listening to my audiobook and pausing for quick text chats with friends (and even now as I sit tired and achy from the energy spent), I found myself sighing contently at the productivity and smiling at the connection my heart was making with my hands. Sometimes I forget that the everyday tasks I perform and the things that I do are love. Love personified. Love acted out. Because it’s true, dear ones.

Love is more than just a feeling.

Love is a choice.

Love is action, whether that action is holding space, tidying a sink full of dishes, hugging someone close and letting them cry, or listening closely without saying a word.

Love is indeed a verb.

When I am Graceless

There comes a point in just about every evening when a switch is flipped within me. A moment when I go from gentle, loving, patient, ever-bearing Mommy to a weary, prickly, cranky woman who wants nothing more than for her child to go the eff to sleep and for a lion’s portion of quiet to reign in my house again for the little time that I have left before my body requires me to sleep before  getting up and doing it all over again. In those moments, I have to admit to being largely graceless.

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Turning on the Lights

BloPoMo Day 11

“Turn toward grace and you turn on all the lights.” – Ann Voskamp

When I was little and I was scared, I turned on all the lights in the house. That way nothing could jump out and frighten me. I could see what and who was around me and know that I was safe. This week, I feel like I have been running around trying to turn on all the lights. Not just for myself but also for those I love, those who are worried, despairing, angry, or fearful. I want them to see who is around them. I want them to know that they are safe with them, with us.

But I’m also turning on the lights so that others can see. I am turning on the lights so that others can see they are scared. I am turning on the lights so that they can see each other. So people can see people.

I am turning on the lights so that people can see what they are forgetting: that we belong to each other.

I am turning on the lights so that hopefully we can remember to have courage and be kind.

I am turning on the lights that we can remember to love fiercely.

I am turning on the lights so that hopefully we can really see each other, and that we can hopefully choose to sit with each other in the real and have the strength and grace to stick it out through the hard.

I have spent my week running around, trying to turn on all the lights I can, shed all the love, all the light, all the grace I can. I know that things are not okay. I know that people are not okay. I’m not going to tell them–tell you–to be okay; I’m not going to tell you that. I’m not going to tell anyone–ANYONE–to not be angry or worried or scared or upset or to feel anything other than what they feel.

I am turning on the lights so you can see something other than the darkness. I am turning on the lights so that you can see my hand held out to you. So you know where to reach if you need or want it. I am turning on the lights so you can see me sitting next to you, can see my arms held open.

Don’t worry, dear one: I’m turning on the lights.

Courage: The First Rung on the Ladder

Last night, I was reading before bed and they had a series of quotes from Maya Angelou, some of which I had never read before. This one struck me particularly and I shared it on my personal Facebook page before I headed off to bed with the added comment of “Have courage and be kind”.


It set me to thinking. I would usually be one to say that love is the greatest virtue BUT, the more I thought about it, the more I agree along similar lines of Ms. Angelou’s quote. Without stepping out in courage, how can we show love? Without courage, how can we choose to be kind to strangers? Without courage, how can we champion justice? Without courage, how can we face hardships and challenges in order to be the best version of ourselves that we can be?

Courage is not merely running into the face of danger. Courage is not the absence of fear. Courage is having an absolutely awful day but being willing to listen to someone else’s awful day and determining to try your best again tomorrow. Courage is saying “hello” to someone who is grieving, even if you might not know what else to say to them. Courage is letting someone know you are thinking about them, even if you know you might not hear back from them. Courage is facing that classroom full of students, each with large and individual needs, and doing your absolute best for the benefit of their education. Courage is showing love in the midst of anger, grace in the midst of hurt, kindness in the midst of strife, integrity in a world of rationalization and dishonesty, and compassion when surrounded by indifference.

Love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. All admirable, all life-giving. But I think that almost any and every virtue we can practice or demonstrate starts with this: the courage to step out and say, “I will.”

I will try again tomorrow.

I will take a breath before I respond.

I will listen instead of talk.

I will say hello even though it is hard.

I will give.

I will help.

I will be there.

I will admit I was wrong.

I will do my best to make it right.

I will show love, have courage, and be kind.

Musing in a Bubble

The other day, Strangling My Muse posted a blog entitled “Who Is Your Muse?” and in it was a writing exercise called “My muse is…” and I really enjoyed it. Ideally, you would answer this question 15-20 times, ending the sentence with the first thing that pops into your head, no matter how silly or off the wall.

So I gave it a try. Naturally, with my toddler in the living room with me, I only got it done seven times but I still like them.

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My muse is bubbles pouring by the hundred from a bubble-maker. Bubbles I wish I could gather up into a basket like opalescent treasure so I could keep them and the magic that each bubble holds.

My muse is the smell of chocolate chip cookies and the peace of moment in each bite. The stress before or even the guilt afterward don’t matter. Just the sweet piece of happy bound up with each bite.

My muse is the rarest of things in this day and age: a unexpected phone call. That and the happiness that spreads throughout my core for hours after the call has ended. How is it that someone’s voice is the last thing we expect to hear and yet it can make us so happy?

My muse is watching my daughter act out her favorite movie and knowing that she will never really be alone with these beloved characters by her side.

My muse is a warmth that fits perfectly with my own, connecting body, mind, and heart like perfectly sculpted puzzle pieces.

My muse is the rumble of thunder, the power that waits in the distance. Once upon a time, it was frightful but now it is soul-soothing.

My muse is the early morning quiet, the Christmas Day anticipation that we often miss in the rush of our feet hitting the floor and the PLAY button being pushed on the day.

Striking to Think

I caught sight of myself in the mirror as I finished my shower last night and was rather struck by my reflection. My cheeks were rosy, lips pink, eyes dark and long-lashed, and my ponytail in a curling coil over my shoulder. It was one of those moments that it felt like seeing myself for the first time and not recognizing who was looking back at me. Even odder and more striking to me was to catch myself thinking, “Beautiful!”  Let me say that for you again. In that moment, I thought myself to be beautiful. Part of me sorely wished to take a picture but I realized that no camera was ever going to catch the way I saw myself in that moment. Yesterday, I spent most of the day catching up on “The Borgias” so I was looking at Holliday Granger all day, undoubtedly one of the most beautiful young women I have ever seen. So, to consider myself as beautiful and graceful as “Lucrezia Borgia” herself for a moment was a pretty big deal to me. When I finished and came out into the living room, I gave my husband quite a kiss, one that made him asked, “Are you…trying to tell me something?”

I smiled and replied, “Just that…I feel beautiful right now.”