Growing into My Bigness


I have written before about being small, about feeling like I need or am expected to hide myself, make myself less, be less. However, I was hit with something several weeks ago as I again sat thinking about it. Being small is not as sudden a thing for me as I thought it was. As I sit and think and reflect, I can actually see the different lessons and admonitions towards being small that I have been given all throughout my life, not just in the past decade. It’s not as recent a thing as I thought it was. I’m looking back over my life and finding points along the way where I was taught to be small, to take the blame for others’ dislike. I learned that I needed to be small, that if I were too big, too bright, too…whatever, it was my fault if people got upset or didn’t like me. It’s kind of jarring to realize that it’s not as recent an emotional/behavioral habit as I thought it was.

I was taught to be small as a child. On school awards nights, I was taught by my peers to feel embarrassed by rather than proud of my achievements. My classmates would turn to me as I returned to my seat and tell me, “You should just stay up there [on the platform]. You’re gonna get everything anyway.” I felt the snide remarks all the way down to my bones, whether to be snide intended or not.

In middle school, I was taught to be small by the cute boy who pretended to like me and be my boyfriend for an entire week. Then, mercifully(?), a “friend” outed the joke. And it really was a joke because, seriously, who could ever like a nerd like me?

As a teenager, I was taught to be small because my fashion style was dressier than other girls in my social sphere and it might make them look bad. I was taught to be small when classmates rolled their eyes and made fun of the books I read, that I took solace in, and when they grumbled because I could play my part in concert band, even though their inability was a result of their lack of practice and nothing on my part.

In my twenties, late bloomer that I am, I was taught to be small when I perceived that I could not shine or revel in my own beauty because it would make others feel less happy about themselves, even though I had absolutely no control over that. If I could just step back upstage a little, not be quite so much in the light, that’s it…right there on the edge, that’s good. I can see it in photos now, recognize it for exactly what it is, and it hurts.

There are people in my life who have taught me to be small with the same breath that they used to admonish me for not “seeing how beautiful I am”. I’m sure they never realized or considered that that was what they were doing but it was. It’s sometimes hard, very hard, to hear “you’re beautiful” at the same time as being told that you make others jealous or unhappy. Suddenly, “beautiful” becomes not quite such a good thing; “beautiful” becomes something that brings pain to others, to ones you care about, so, obviously, “beautiful” is something that I should try to be less of. Me is something that I should try to be less of.

Though I have made progress (and I do mean quite a bit of it), I still battle the perception that I need to be small, less, duller. I question, I temper, I demure, I stick myself in a corner and keep quiet. Being small became a habit, born out of a desire to never hurt anyone, to be the cause of hurt, or a bone of contention. And so, sometimes, I still fall into its trap. If you have been taught to be small, believe me: you’re not alone. But you know what? We can “grow into our bigness”, as a dear friend once put it. I am growing into my bigness, into my role in my own life. I can stand. I can shine. I can strut. I can star. It is okay to be big in our own lives. It’s okay to be comfortable in our skin and unapologetic for it, to be unapologetic for our selves in our unique beauty and us-ness. Sure, we have our cracks, our flaws, our problems. But those do not negate us or our humanity or our worth. They do not make us monsters or beings who can be nothing but less-than. All that makes us is human. Humans, men, women, who do not have to be small. We are who we are, made as we were, and we do have something worth being, worth giving. Bigness doesn’t happen all at once; it’s a growing, like when we were children. It’s a process. But we can get there, you and I. God made us for big things; things that only we can do or be or create or give.

Even though you and I might have been taught to be small, we don’t have to stay there. We don’t have to believe that we have to be small or less. We can grow into ourselves,  rise up into our bigness, and we need not fear it.

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Moments in Magical Modernity: XII


XII.

“Here you are, lovely. One Sencha green tea with lotus blossom honey,” Pearla smiles at the woman before whom she sets down the delicate cup and teapot, as fragile as robins’ eggs, along with the pot of cloven lotus blossom honey.

Domo arigato, Pearla-chan,” Akiko bows her head gently, the delicate curve of her golden-red fox ears luminous against the jet black luster of her abundant hair.

“Enjoy!” Pearla flutters back to the counter and busies herself with other orders.

Akiko, meanwhile, sits placid and peaceful in her secluded corner. Eventually, she pours herself a cup of tea with great deliberation and gentle intent. The steaming liquid fills the cup with nary a splash against its delicate sides, the steam curling and coiling cunningly into shapes and characters that only Akiko can discern as she mingles her breath with the wispy steam. It seems that her breath and the airy drawing of her delicate fingertips brings life to those shapes, little silvery-grey maidens dancing with their fans and precise archers shooting at the honeypot.

“Those are pretty!” comes a childish voice.

Akiko turns to find a pair of babyish green eyes looking up at her over the edge of her table. The little boy watching her steamy shadow players with rapt attention is beaming as he does.

The lovely kitsune gives a beatific smile to the child. “Do you think so?”

The boy’s head nods quickly, his little chin just missing the edge of the table and a hard knock.

Akiko smiles and, leaping from her teacup, a silvery horse gallops around the table, stopping to rear majestically before the child’s very nose. His green eyes widen as the horse lowers to all four legs and stretches out its tiny muzzle to touch the tip of its nose to his. Then he laughs with shrill delight, utterly shattering the peace that Akiko had carefully cultivated. But she doesn’t mind. The child’s smile reinforces her own, her quiet demeanor unfazed by his rambunctious energy.

“Come, Kyle,” a maternal voice finally calls to him, much to his chagrin. The horse, however, capers for him once more before rearing and beating its forelegs against the air in goodbye as the little boy lingers over his shoulder as his mother draws him away with a thankful smile to Akiko.

The kitsune gives them a little bow in her seat and returns the wave young Kyle gives as he and his mother exited the Hollow on the busy city street. She then returns to her tea, the little steamy figures bowing to her and dissipating in a cooling mist that kisses her cheeks. Quietly, Akiko takes the cup in both hands and raises it to her lips, which still smile in that soft serenity that seems to be woven into her very being.

Holding Time Gently


Here is how I usually feel that I am dealing with my time: My days/hours are laid out in specifically shaped or metered boxes, like a weekly pill container. Each box is colored differently and I have roughly 18 “pills” of time in my hand with which to fill them (because I honestly need at least 5-6 hours to sleep or I’m just not functional). And so I count out my hours into the boxes – Work, Family, Home Care, Errands, Cooking, Listening, Driving, etc. I try, try, TRY to hold back a few bits of time just for me: things like reading, writing, taking a long hot bath, exercising, devotional time, and naps. But there’s usually something “more important” that requires doing. I am rubbish at asking for help of any kind, and so my self-care ends up getting shoved into a really short amount of time and not feeling like self-care really at all. Usually it’s me sitting on the couch after the almost nightly battle to get my daughter to bed, too tired to think, much less read or write.

I feel as though I am grasping at time, holding onto it for dear life, lamenting that there is not more of it as it slips through my fingers. Like sand, it leaves behind only tiny grains, minuscule bits of itself that don’t seem to amount to much of anything. But that is not true of sand, is it? Though its individual grains are minute, all together they create vast deserts and snow-white beaches and ocean floors that stretch on for uncountable miles. All of that is those tiny bits and pieces, not on their own but together. Perhaps I have been holding my time so tightly that I am looking at it wrongly. While my introverted soul yearns for extended blocks of retreat and refreshment, I should not–must not— discount the small pockets of time with which I am gifted, even if they are very small.

A few nights ago, I gifted myself the time involved to take a hot shower with all the lavender amenities. It boosted my spirit and refilled some of my dwindling spoon drawer to feel fresh, clean, soft, and have such a soothing scent wafting around me. It was only half an hour but there was intention behind it. The intention of care and refreshment for myself, of aloneness and quiet, even if just for a little while. It was not a week-long isolated retreat but it did help, that one half-hour.

Last year, I wrote about (and even gave a commencement speech on) not discounting the value of smallness. How fitting that here I am, a year later, reminding myself of this very oh-so-important lesson, when my own well-being and all-around health hang in the balance.

Fifteen minutes of exercise may not be the hour-long gym workouts that I was used to doing when I was a SAHM but it is something.

Ten minutes to read before bed isn’t finishing a book in a day as I did of old but it is something.

“Tea-Time Quite-Time” with my daughter isn’t an afternoon alone in a coffee shop but those quiet moments together of both of us watching the lovely “Sarah & Duck” with our tea before bedtime are something.

Putting my earbuds in of a Sunday afternoon and turning on my rain app isn’t spending a whole sleepy, rainy day in bed but dozing amidst those soothing sounds for a little while is something.

Friends, I am learning to hold my time more gently, to remember and admit that the small bits I can get, that stick here and there can indeed be helpful, refreshing, and sustaining. And, bit by bit, those fragments add up, just as grains of sand, together, can create a vast, beautiful landscape. If you are walking this path of learning and viewpoint shifting, I want to encourage you. We can be gentler with ourselves, gentler with our time and the realities of our lives. Sometimes our realities do not have space for week-long retreats for our soul. We can still find rest in the small moments, brief though they may be. A shut bedroom door (or closet door even). A second cup of coffee. Ten minutes with a book or video game or podcast. We can find those little grains of time that will add up to refreshment for us. Trust me, I wish us all extended time to rest and relax but, until then, I’ll be gently collecting grains alongside you.

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When a Smile is Needed


It’s the Thursday of Spring Break. Only a few more days of relative freedom. So why am I smiling, you ask? Because I NEED to smile. This week has been gray and largely low-feeling, especially at night. Not the best headspace for Spring Break. I’m off but everyone else is not. There are responsibilities that keep us at home and unable to drive to/stay out late with friends of an evening. Grading waits menacingly on my kitchen table like a sword of Damocles dangling over my head. So I NEED to smile today. I need to remember the good.

*My daughter in my floppy sunhat and her heart-shaped sunglasses ready for her “beach party” at preschool

*Kisses and “I love you’s” from my husband

*Unexpected, wonderful time with friends

*Reading, writing, and nap time in a quiet house

*Often-read Scripture verses touching my heart with new relevance and encouragement

*Rain pattering on my window panes and thunder growling and purring through the clouds

Today I need to remember the good. Today I need to smile. Today I need to choose the good, choose contentment. Today I need determination over motivation. Happiness is not just a happening today; today it needs to be a decision, a choice for me.

So here’s a smile. I hope it helps yours along, too, dear one.

 

Shadows Out and Beyond


Author’s Note: This is a creative writing for my X-men rpg (roleplay game) original character, Betsy Martin, based on the events in the film “Logan”. In the rpg I am a part of, Logan is Betsy’s mentor, teacher, and alpha; I knew that, after seeing this film, I was going to need to write her way out of all the feelings. This writing contains spoilers for the film so…read at your own risk, darlings.

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Moments in Magical Modernity: XI (The Godly Edition)


Author’s Note: This one is much inspired by Neil Gaiman’s American Gods and Terry Pratchett’s Small Gods, both favorites of my husband’s.

There is one night a year where deities get the night off. Gods, lords, fae barons, all the like: it’s their night to relax from answering prayers, helping destinies along their way, healing, protecting, teaching, growing, and abiding. Big and small gods.

But that doesn’t mean that the world is left unattended. One god is always left in charge, a sort of designated survivor, as it were. They take it in turns and that god oversees the world at large for that twelve-hour stretch, keeps records and tallies, notations on prayers and needs, and answers earnest prayers that might have time-sensitivity. Oh, and Cerberus needs to be walked, after all.

Everyone knows of God’s Night Out but life doesn’t pause, even for the gods. Their line of work’s cogs never stop. That’s why there is always a designated deity on GNO.

A favored spot for GNO is often Banebridge Farms. One: it is far from cities and multitudinous souls that inhabit them, and two: Bryan’s property boasts a large acreage of ancient forest, purposefully left un-tilled and to run wild wild. In it are groves and fairy circles, templed ruins and venerable, cracked stone tables of old. The Lord of the Hunt himself considers this place a pleasant  respite and so, once every year, Bryan Banebridge and his staff find themselves playing host to the most glorious and varied of pantheons ever assembled. Ahead of GNO, Dionysus always  brings up the ambrosia and liquor, all the tastiest ingredients, and Bryan and his cooks whip up some absolutely ethereal and otherworldly dishes and drinks. As a result, though Bryan still has to work hard and romance his investors, there are godly machinations to make sure that Banebridge Farms is never deeply in peril.

Now, it is true that not all gods attend GNO at Banebridge Farms. Some of them choose their own ways to enjoy the night off. Some of the eternally-watching gods take the opportunity for a good twelve hours’ sleep. A power nap, if you will. Others, like Atlas, take a walk to stretch their stiff legs. Night, underworld, and winter gods sometimes bask in the bright, warm sunlight of a beach in Bora Bora or Maui (hey, it’s not nighttime everywhere at once, after all).

Everyone knows about Gods’ Night Out. Even the eternal need a break. Tomorrow, it will be right back to work. Stars will be tended, sun and moon set and risen. Prayers will be assessed, requests weighed, comfort given, and answers given by the designated deity reviewed. Every god back in their place and position, their faithful adherents breathing a sigh of relief, like a child whose mother has finally returned from her night out and kissed their head as they lie waiting in their bed.

All is right with the world, and big and small gods–tanned, fed, rested, and slightly hungover–have a few new stories to tell until next year.

[X-men: Legacy] The Time Has Come


Stale cigar smoke. Bitter beer. Earth. The coppery tang of blood that soap can’t touch.

She inhales deeply as iron strong arms wrap around her and hug her. Not too tightly but close. She can hear a heart beating alongside hers; strong, maybe a little slower than in the past, but still there. Tired. But still there.

When he releases her, she gives a small smile. barely there. “I’ll keep an eye on them,” she promises, not needing to state just who “they” are.

He doesn’t say anything in return, doesn’t have to. It’s been long enough that they understand each other without having to say much at all. Time will do that to you. Time marches on but, eventually, it takes you with it.

He doesn’t say anything, doesn’t even say goodbye. Just utters a grunted huff, the edges of a rueful smile pulling at the corners of his mouth. No…not just rueful.

Proud. Sad. Determined.

Reaching out he puts a hard, rough, calloused hand against Betsy’s cheek for a moment before letting it drop to her shoulder and giving it a squeeze that would crack the bones of a less hardy person.

Then the old bastard shoulders his pack and heads off down the drive. He hops into the old ’68 mustang, roars it to life, and is gone.

It’s hard to say goodbye. Maybe that’s why they don’t say it. For them, can it ever really be goodbye, though? Or will they just end up side-by-side again when the world has turned enough times?

Who knows? In either case, goodbyes are hard. That’s why they don’t say them. Time will do that to you.

Time marches on and, eventually, it takes you with it.

(Graphic credit: Imgur, by ManWhoLovesSuperheroes)