Lessons from “Calm Down”

I have been watching Inside Out with my toddler girl–or, as she has renamed it: Calm Down–for the past few days and I am finding that, while I am trying to teach my daughter lessons about emotions and feelings, I am learning and relearning some important ones myself. While one can learn to be emotionally awake and mature, I believe that there are always lessons worth revisiting as we grow through life.

*It’s okay to not be okay, even when people ask or want you to be okay.

*Just because you’re sad about something, it doesn’t mean your feelings are wrong.

*Just because you forget something or don’t think about it anymore, it doesn’t mean that it wasn’t beneficial or important or that it didn’t do you any good at the time.

*It is entirely possible to feel two things at once and have both of them be “right”.

*Crying is OKAY! Sometimes we just need to cry, and it really does help.

*It’s all right to not have all the answers.

*It’s all right to be scared and sad when what we have loved ends for whatever reason.

*It’s perfectly okay to look for the fun and to try to find the joy in situations if that is what you need to do in order to cope.

*There is no shame in your personality, interests, hobbies, etc., changing as your life goes on. It’s part of growing.

*It’s also okay to not be willing to look for the fun and the joy in a situation for a time. We need to feel sadness, too.

*It is all right to need someone just to be there.

*We can sit on the bench with someone and not try to fix things or make things better. Sometimes someone just needs their sadness to be heard and felt and their tears shared.

There is so much that we as human beings are still learning about ourselves, our feelings, reactions, relationships, and growth, even as adults. Our personalities shift and expand and deepen. Our interests vary. Who we are and who we choose to be may change and that is all right. The truth is that we never stop growing, learning, feeling, or changing. And that is okay. We are okay. YOU are okay.


(Disclaimer: Inside Out and its images are the creation and property of Disney/Pixar. None of it belongs to me.)


A Long Way From Home – Day 4: Makings of Mermaid

Today was monumental. It was my girl’s first day at the beach! Well, technically not her “first” day. Of the three years that we have brought her to visit her grandparents and my side of the family, we have taken her to the beach for two of them. Both times, she was adamant that the water was NOT for her. This time, however, we could barely keep her from running headlong into the ocean. I managed to convince my little mermaid to go slowly, bit by bit. First, feet in the waves, then up to her waist with Grandpa holding her under her arms, and then I got her into her floaty vest and out into the water she went wth me and Grandpa.

All I could do was smile when my girl exclaimed, “This is so much fun!”

After she got out of the water for the second time, my beautiful little mermaid immediately ran over to a bunch of girls who were building sandcastles with spades and pails and sat right down with them and made herself welcome. They were kind girls and shared a pail and spade with her and taught her how to make sandcastles with it. The girls didn’t run her off, didn’t comment on how her mom should teach her to ask first. They just accepted my girl into their midst and taught her something new that she had longed to do for weeks. It did my heart tremendous good to see kindness curated in such a real and gentle way. Thank you, girls! I hope you have a great rest of your vacation.

To see my daughter enjoy such innocent and exuberant fun made my soul soar. It also gave me a chance to sit quietly and observe the beach that I had frequented in my childhood. It feels strange to start thinking in terms of “when I was a kid” or “when I was young” but the truth is that, in this coming month, I will be a full-grown hobbit. Today, people stretched up and down the beach as far as I could see. When I was a child, the occupancy of the beach was a fraction of that, even on a Saturday, so to see such a crowd on a Thursday was startling. There are also vendors everywhere: beach chairs, food, snorkel rentals, raft rides, etc. None of that was ever a part of beach going when I was a kid; if you couldn’t get a spot under one of the cabanas that were there, you set up your towels and such in the deepest shade you could find.The world I knew is the world I knew no longer. Not that that’s a bad thing, as it’s still a world that I can share with my daughter and my family.

Casting Back Through Memory

My earliest memory. Honestly, it’s very difficult to differentiate between what I remember and what has been told to me about my childhood. But one memory that I clearly have is of Christmas.

When I was a little girl, there was a gentleman down the road from us who set up a grand Christmas display in front of his house. Lights, winter scenes, animatronic deer and Santa and elves puppets/figures that put on a show in a theatre that he built up around a wall in front of his driveway. The whole place glowed and was positively magical for me. People from all over the neighborhood would come to see this display. It was the first grandiose Christmas lights display I ever remember seeing. I remember going there after church one Sunday night with my parents. As they stood and chatted with other adults, I wandered over to where an animatronic doe with big brown eyes was and, since she was close to me, I reached out and touched her muzzle very carefully. She was soft, velvety. Then, as the Christmas music and puppet show started, I twirled and danced around in my frilly, lacy church dress. It was like a Winter Wonderland for me and I hated having to leave.

Over the years, more people on the island began to create such large Christmas displays, especially the more affluent neighborhoods on the south sound of the island. They would turn their large yards and gardens into Christmas walks full of lights and music, cottages, and displays. To this day, I can feel the awe and wonder well up in my heart at just the thought of such beautiful, Christmas-y places.

Clothed in Him

She woke with his scent clinging to her like a soft new skin. It covered her arms, hands, belly, and chest. She could taste his kiss on her lips, smell his breath on her cheeks. He was everywhere, his musky scent layered over her body like hedgespun silk. Every time she moved, she caught a whiff of him that made her turn, always expecting him to be right behind her. The smoothness of his cologne coupled with the softness of his shirt brushed through her memory, then the deeper, more pungent musk of his bare skin. It was like touching her own flesh just released more and more of him until she was drowning in him again.

Why on earth would she ever want to get dressed?

Memories That Follow

From my personal journals, nine years ago today:


Ben called me this morning at 7:40 and told me that I needed to see the sunrise today. So I went downstairs to the computer lab and looked out the eastern windows there. It was simply gorgeous! All shades of fire and twilight – reds, oranges, purples, and pinks. ‘Twas a beautiful thing to share with Ben. I loved it!

The Light Around the Door 2014

2015 is two days away and I find myself sitting in contemplation of the year gone by. There has been a lot of happening this year, so bear with me as I suss at least some of it out.

Firstly, a huge thank you to you, my readers, for sticking with me over this year and lending me your time, hearts, and minds in your reading of these paper bullets of my brain. I hope you have enjoyed reading this blog as much as I have writing it, however scary it was at times.

One of the most notable occurrences is that I have become a contributor to The Well Written Woman, which has been an absolutely wonderful experience! I have had a fabulous time working with the talented ladies at TWWW. They have allowed me a great freedom in exploring subjects in my writing – fiction pieces, personal writings, works on faith and social matters – and I have greatly enjoyed getting to know co-founder and editor Camicia Bennett. Thanks so much, Cam!

I took college courses for the first time since graduating with my Masters in 2006 and entirely online. I was very nervous about how I would handle it and being a mom at the same time. It was hard work, completing two graduate courses simultaneously in five weeks, very stressful and tiring. But I had amazing help from my in-laws, my parents, and my husband; I found ways to enjoy it; and I succeeded, earning A’s in both classes. A personal triumph and big weight off my back as those grades allowed me to renew my teaching license for the next ten years, should I choose to return to education when Elizabeth heads off to daycare/preschool eventually.

Speaking of Elizabeth, my daughter turned two years old eleven days ago and she is an absolute force of nature. Even my mother had to admit that when she was here to visit. As such, I sometimes do not know what to do with her, but we are doing our best. Our Bizzy is smart and bright, talking more every day. But she is also clever and cunning, though thankfully I am still more so just yet. She is artistic, skilled with anything technological (similar to her mother), creative, fun-loving, energetic, and loves the outdoors. She is also sweet and loving, giving affection to those in her life, tight little hugs and sweet kisses. She loves her Marie (The Aristocats) and Katarina Kittycat (“Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood”) stuffies – they go to bed with her every night – and she is never as happy as she is watching “Daniel Tiger” (unless she is outside exploring). She loves to be read to but will also insist on “reading” to herself. She has started to take her own ‘me time’, climbing into her rocking chair in her room to rock by herself for a little bit with a book, her tablet, or just her stuffed buddies. She may still be little but she has gone from a baby to a little girl in the space of a year, and I am constantly amazed by her.

As I have been writing and also continuing in my position as the wife of a Quaker pastor, I have had the opportunity to sit and think seriously on what I believe and how it affects my life, or how it should affect my life. I am well aware that there are some, or many, who disagree with my faith or even what I believe in particular within that faith. And that is OK; my faith makes sense to me. Lately, I find myself drawn more and closer to its core tenet of “loving others” (Matthew 22:37-40) and “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Romans 12:18). I want to do that: love others in whatever way is needed, whether it is a listening ear, a requested explanation of what I believe, a note to say hello, a little gift, prayer, or just my time. And maybe I can help someone find/experience a little bit of peace, even for a short amount of time. I have learned some wonderful lessons from a writer whom I discovered this year: Lysa TerKeurst. Lysa is a wonderful woman who manages to speak to my heart without ever knowing who I am. Her devotionals, books, and faith-based writings have spoken to my soul as I have worked through several issues in my life this year, and I have taken several of her teachings to heart as I work to build myself an even stronger foundation and keep my emotions from becoming “unglued”. One that has been the closest to my heart this year is a reminder that our feelings are indicators but they do not need to be dictators of our behavior or actions. I can choose to act out of high emotion or I can choose to act and speak out of love, grace, and gentleness. The latter is most definitely what I want in my life, and I have some wonderful examples of these to follow in this.

Always, but especially this past year, I have been astounded by the loving natures and kind hearts of the people in my life. My family and friends are simply amazing! My life is constantly blessed by them and their generous souls. There are days when a card in my mailbox, a text popping up on my phone, an IM chiming on my computer, or even a surprise package waiting for me has been just what I needed, just the uplift and tender touch that my heart and soul required on that day, the thought or those words just what I needed to give me the strength to take another step forward. Even those words were simply, “Hi. I was thinking about you.” So, to them I say, “Thank you!” from the fullness of my heart. You are more than I could have ever dreamt for. You hold lines to my heart and I am so grateful for how gently, honestly, and lovingly you handle them.

As this year’s curtain descends, there are indeed many things that I wish I had done and ever the more that I wish I could do. This year has been full and I am thankful for all I have been able to do, accomplish, and witness this year. I know that this next year will be full of its own miracles and hardships, triumphs and challenges. I look forward to it and am nervous for it, too. But, again, that is life and it continues on apace.

NaBloPoMo 2014 Day 25: Encapsulated Mind and Soul

I have had the same Bible for at least the past twelve years and I am loath to be rid of it. Not because it is the most comprehensive or best reviewed translation. No. I will keep this Bible until it falls apart and maybe even then because it is full of memories and reminders for my heart.

For instance, Proverbs of my favorite book of the Bible. My high school teacher would go through it chapter by chapter, day by day, a few months a year, and I was always amazed and blessed by how she could pull meaningful and relevant interpretations from a centuries-old text. So I still continue the practice today in my personal devotion and prayer time. If a particular verse strikes me, I usually mark it with that day’s date and it’s rather amazing to go back and see how often verses come back into my life with a new relevance, a new poignancy. Sometimes I can match verses and dates with entries in my journals and it’s always eye-opening to review just what was going on in my life at that time and how those verses were relevant to my process and growth.

This Bible is full of note cards with specific prayer requests from college Bible study groups. A thin purple ribbon that a best friend once tied around my finger marks the beginning of the book of Philippians, right next to Paul’s joyous prayer for his friends, what I have now come to call my “Ribbon Prayer”. There is a sticker/picture of the Russian pastor and his family with whom I and three other young women worked ten summers ago. I remember that family and their enthusiastic smiles and kindness and exultation in life and in us. There are notes that I have written in any spare white space I can find in this Bible’s pages, thoughts on my life and on these words of God and their impact, as well as prayers, interpretations, and reminders.

Yes, I think I will hold on to this Bible for as long as I am able, if for no other reason than to be able to pass it on my daughter with my journals, so that may be able to see a glimpse into the process and growth of her mother’s life and faith.

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So many memories in this Bible.

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Review: Everything I Need to Know, I Learned from a Little Golden Book

Yesterday, my husband showed up home from work and held this book out to me (along with a gorgeous new notepad and gel pen, the man really knows how to get to me). “For you,” he said, “I figured you’d chewed on enough of them in your childhood, so you’d appreciate it. And he’s right. When I was a child, I had dozens of Little Golden Books, both with the golden and the silver spines and I loved them for the mere fact that they were books. But I also liked them for another reason. I thought the spines were delicious. I would sit and chew on the spines of those books and just think. It’s like how some adults chew on pens or pencils in the midst of thought, that’s what I did as a kid. And it remains a joke within my family, especially now that I have a fourteen-month-old daughter who adores chewing on books herself.

However, this book really touched my heart. Full of advice and adages for a “golden” life, it pulls its wisdom from some of its most popular and beloved books, such as The Saggy Baggy Elephant, Baby Listens, Tootles, and The Pokey Little Puppy. As I sat on my couch and read through it, I smiled with every page, not only at the familiar illustrations but also at the simple but very encouraging advice. If you are looking for a keepsake book to just make you smile, this is a wonderful choice! 🙂

A Note in Retrouvaille

The coffee shop had changed so much over the years. Gone was the little electric stove in the corner, flanked by the worn, squeaky armchairs. The place had been repainted, the booths and tables redone. The names of the drinks had changed, the art on the walls ever rotating. Yes, it had changed a great deal.

But as she sat at an empty table near the window, the air around suffused with the scent of coffee and cream and the tap-taps of keyboards, words of thought floating over her head, she smiled, The vanilla chai cradled in her hands, she remembered why she loved this place, even now.

She could feel him in the chair across from her, feel his hand – warmed by his spiced chai – in hers, his thumb running over the backs of her fingers thoughtfully as they talked, sipped, and smiled. They had spent hours here together, learning each others’ worlds, minds, and hearts. She could see him smirk at her, how he loved to tease. She could feel his kiss as he lifted her hand to his lips. These things she would never forget. These things would make this little coffee shop infinitely precious and beautiful a spot, no matter how much it changed.

“I love you,” she whispered into her vanilla chai as she lifted the smooth sweetness to her lips, her words added to those already floating in air spiced with coffee, chocolate, and cream.