Monday, March 31, 2014

Paul Bought Me a Chromebook

Paul bought me a little Chromebook. I’m typing on it these very words. Typing and smiling. Smiling and typing. I don’t even care what words show up. They’re all welcome today. Every last one of them.

My husband knows my passions and cheers me on despite my arguments to dig in and let safety trump risk. He wants to see me put in the hours wrestling words.  I have to pry criticism from him. When he does, he gives me one point of advice. Genius, that man. He knows I already have enough fear clamoring within. There's this general impression he's nodding his head, some stoic coach while I sweat out the thoughts.  A really great paragraph. A nod.  A flop of a post. A nod.  Something worked and I laughed at an image I created. A nod.  

This Chromebook is another nod from him. Don’t stop writing.  I love this nod.  Anywhere me and my crazy thoughts go, so there are my children clawing at me. But also now, my Chromebook too!

This weekend, I wrote over 3000 words. All I wanted to do was get a feel for the keys. I've read about pushing oneself to a word count of so many thousand in a week or in a session, but this wasn't about that at all.  The boys were all asleep and Paul was at an eye appointment and I lost time in between opening up Google Docs and looking up from the screen. When I stopped it was because I had been typing so long I had become thirsty. I wrote for myself. It was so wonderful.

For the first time in a very long time, writing made me happy. I wasn't editing it with my parents in mind. I wasn’t trying to be cooler or smarter or more together than I am. It felt as simple as a quick walk around the block breaking off into a sprint. I finished, surprised by myself and grinning wide. I’ll take more of this, please.

I’m pursuing writing with intention now, but this isn’t to be confused with pursuing writing with seriousness. There’s a time to be critical, to take a step back or a closer look with a red pen.  I had been doing so much of that, I had nothing left to say.  

In all the things I’ve loved, they wilted when my focus became a grave, white-knuckled grip. 

My mother had to remind me last summer to think kind thoughts about my son first before untangling the mess I had made (yelling all the time and letting him run wild or watch t.v. until his brain fell out of his head) after the twins were born.  

I climbed early up the ranks as a high school cross country runner. The faster I became , the more passionate I became and that passion translated into crunching numbers and thinking way too much. It drove out all the joy and when I should have been peaking, I failed, cheering for those who still had that spirit of running for running’s sake. 

When I struggled in my new job last year and fear kept flashing inside me, I wasn't able to move forward until I remembered that the simple things like laughing with my students was my most important priority, not the last.

This unexpected gift, this Chromebook, reminds me writing is a treat to myself. If it ever becomes something enough for someone else, bonus!

My writing is going to start here on a blank document and when I see it spill over from things just for me to things I’m okay sharing, I’ll move them to my blog because I never want to stop sharing.

As a mom of three boys, I live in prevailing anxiety over their safety.  Before this Chromebook, I had a computer Paul set up in the home office.  But I can’t form a cohesive paragraph in front of a computer if it means either waking up at 4 am or ignoring “adventures in detachment parenting” happening on the other side of our ranch house.

Stephen King said something in On Writing of having a place to go in and shut the door. He said nothing of what to do with the kids on the other side.  If he had, it would’ve been something like “buy your wife a $200 Chromebook.”

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Technical Difficulties

Way back photo. I'm this now but dark circles under my eyes and longer hair.

I miss this place. Or rather, I think I miss how I felt about this place, this blog.

The last few months I have just felt so quiet, like even those things I'm sifting through and figuring out, they're just not really worth sharing. I use to feel like I had these big, beautiful thoughts, and I was happy to parade them around. Maybe a word or two here, an image there, a paragraph--maybe it did mean something to someone/s sometimes. You're gonna hit the right note if you bang on the piano for awhile.

I write and I post it on this blog, but I wouldn't call it blogging. Much like the way I've been in my relationships (every single one right down to my marriage), I throw up my words and turn up my noise and then slip out of the room.  Vulnerability is not my forte. Now that I'm passionately working on listening, I'm desiring something greater than the solo dance of me on stage, alone.

Hello there. I see you. This is me waving.... hi, friend!

Thomas delivered his rendition of The Very Hungry Caterpillar to the babies before their nap time earlier.  Emerick perched on my lap and I spotted the parallel. I gorge myself on food for the soul constantly. Reading books. Discovering new ideas with friends. Podcasts over dishes. Kissing the cheeks of little souls and wondering what story is inside those smiling eyes. Cookies. (yes, they count!)

I'm always buzzing with a new thought, a new improvement, a new interest, a new project, a new person, a new method. Always something. But there's something markedly different about this season I'm in right now. I feel as if I've been gorging on humility. Not the falsehood of humility, the I'm-not-good-enough or I'm-not-important or I'm.... I'm....I'm....I'm... mememyselfmeMEMEmeeeeeeee!

This humility is me seeing that:

I should be happy for others' gifts as much as my own. (Am I?)

I should seek to understand others as much as I seek to be understood.  (Do I?)

I should give others grace just as I hope for it from them.  (Do I?)

I should reach past independence into interdependence, past myself into community, past perfection into vulnerability.  (Have I?)

I love a stage. I always will. As a kid, I was shy and I was quiet until I spoke and then I was loud. A little awkward.  Like, hey kid, turn down the volume kind of loud. I'm comfortable dancing crazy, writing crazy, thinking crazy for all to see. It's a thrill, a joy, that thing that clicks all things perfectly into place inside of me.

I want to write my life loud. I want to lean into the beauty I find in words. Right now that just looks very different than what it has meant in the past. Now it's this: Journaling more. Being an ordinary mommy with no more of an agenda that to serve and seek to understand her children (by things no more extraordinary than measuring flour, listening to his dreams of ninjas and speaking in a calm voice when he's lost his cool for the 3rd time in less time than it would take me to nurse two babies). Reading lots and nodding to those voices different than mine. And listening to others (especially that wonderful husband of mine who has been waiting for me to turn down the volume for years).  I'm trying my best to weave authenticity into my days rather than run here each time I think I've found a tiny piece of it.

Blogging is so weird, isn't it? Here's my mind and heart. Bon appetit! So is dancing in front of large crowds of people I don't know and I love that too. I can't help it. I've tried. It's a sickness.

I'm not leaving here. Just rearranging some things.  And hoping to let down my guard, join in more, and show you I'm a happy mess who is a great many things hiding too.

I'm having some technical difficulties. Voice. Audience. Purpose. Pretty much everything important when it comes to writing. I'm praying when the mic comes back on, you're still here.

Much love and coffee.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

The Guaranteed Grace of Sacrifice

I feel myself beached. My little sailboat of a soul happened upon an island this past month or so.  This island bears a banner: Rest Here! It also has a tiki bar with free alcoholic beverages and there's always an available lounger (equipped with umbrella) for me to stare out at those rocky waters I've just escaped and dig my feet into wet sand where little waves rise and sink, tickling my toes.  Never mind in real life this sort of leisure is packaged in a childless trip to Mister Hotshine where I say "yeah, yeah, okay, sounds good, no I don't think I'll get that today" to the service worker and go right back to laughing at Erma Bombeck with complete disregard for the stoic gentleman to my left.

Two years ago I feverishly applied for my dream job and felt great heartache in between letting go of my teaching post of five years (which had become an enormous comfort) and starting the position I had secured. Then, I threw myself into my new job and found myself up to my eyeballs in humility because it was quite the transition. Just as I was finding my bearing that first year, I found out about the twins and made the decision with my husband it was time to go home and stay there for a bit to play day care provider, etc, etc. 

Having twins was the job which was given to me amidst all this and without my written request, but even if that doesn't count in your book, in the past 18 months I've acclimated to two new and significantly different jobs: a high school English teacher in an inner city school and a stay-at-home-mom with three boys at her feet typically begging for more food.

I've been thinking of what I've gleaned through the hard work of taking on new challenges. Last week, I pulled out an index card and penned my rookie mistakes, then went about the house tidying up and running memories through me of the tears, the grit, the plans quickly tossed, and the kids who all but laughed in my face. Mostly, I smiled about how there were days I thought I was going to finally resort to hating my life. 

And now here's this Lenten season where we will ourselves into the hardship rather than wait for it. When we tie up our intentions with a wee bit of suffering, we wonder if there really is much of anything to reap from turning off the t.v. for a month, skipping dessert, or talking in kind tones to our children rather than yell scream. And what more of placing more fears at the feet of Jesus and more blessings at the feet of those more needy than ourselves?

I'm happy to look back and see things have turned out quite well so far. My sons seem happy, I'm delighted to be at home, and my husband's stamp of approval is tentative which I can only respect him for considering the enduring state of the laundry. I consider this a wild success. Maybe my expectations are low. You go have yourself some twins. Oh shoot, I can't go saying things like that. Even my sister has twins on the way. 

Anyway, life goes on. People can either jump into the hard or find themselves there, but either way, if determined enough, they'll find a way. I've found my way to all kinds of things. Some success. Lots of joy. New skills. And a monthly Amazon subscription to strong coffee! 

Okay, kids. Time for mommy to slip into the bedroom and ignore things for 5 minutes.

But, and that's a BIG but, I wouldn't have made it this far (to the beach with a daiquiri sparkling under the sun) if I hadn't given up some of myself. 

Some of my ideals. Some of my self-righteousness. Some of my sleep. Some of my free time. Some of my fears. Some of my plans. Some of my waist line. Some of my pride. Some of my answers. Some of my map. Some of my absolutes. Some of my failings.  And lots of my money.

Two years ago I started that new teaching job thinking I knew a lot about a lot to do with teaching. And then I was stripped of a great deal of that.

About a year later I started that thing where you just hang out with your kids all day while running back and forth from room to room to read books, change laundry, load dishes, shred unwanted credit card offers, and re-binkie babies. I thought I knew a lot about how to be the best new mommy with the invisible SAHM label. And then I was stripped of a great deal of that. 

And here I lounge on the beach and smile at those waves thinking about how little I knew. It was a fun ride even when I was scared shirtless I was going to drown out there with no one to rescue me, no one to bring me home, and no one to write up an obituary about all my selfless causes. 

A difficult two years seem behind me, and I just confessed to Paul last night: I've never been happier in my life. Maybe even by a landslide. To let loose and find I may not be as fabulous or all-knowing as I thought--it's wonderful, it's exciting, and it's freeing. 

I wish you the best with your Lenten resolves. Throwing yourself into the difficult is a courageous feat. Don't be surprised if the hard leaves a hole, a space, an island--and joy rushes in at your side to deliver you a daiquiri! (Or that book you put on hold at the library. I can't exactly make any promises.)