Mama Duck

I sent this letter out to dear folks in my life 10 years ago. Aunt Ginny just rediscovered it and sent it back to me. It’s fun to learn from your previous self.

______________________________________________________________

May 26, 2010

So I just wanted to share a little preciousness with ya’ll. Last week this mama duck laid 5 eggs in a flowerbed against the east side of the Humanitarian Center in the parking lot. It appears that her husband was flattened in the road the same day. So this single mom has been vigilantly guarding her nest all day, every day, in the rain and snow. 

About 200 people walk by her coming in to the center, during breaks and then again when they leave. Quite a few of them have noticed her… thus you see the orange peels and bread pieces. Yet until yesterday, none of us thought to give her water. I took out a cup of water and, as is her usual response to people getting closer, she got really protective, flapped her wings and hissed. But once I set it close to her and backed off, she closely examined it then started drinking. OH that poor little gal was thirsty! Then she perked right up and started tightening up her nest, pulling it all closer to her and making things tidy. She was refreshed and happy. She even cleaned herself up a little.

I find myself thinking about this duck a lot with different analogies. This morning I was thinking how often there are people around us who are left alone to a daunting task. Not understanding their plight, sometimes we judge them, sometimes we simply watch them with interest, sometimes we walk by without even noticing this little miracle happening under our nose, and sometimes we choose to help. 

For a few days I simply watched this mama with great compassion in my heart, hoping for her success and glad to see that others had given her bread. It wasn’t until yesterday that I gave her water. DUH. WATER! Such a simple, life-sustaining thing that she couldn’t leave her nest unprotected for, nor could she survive too long without it. And it took HOW long for this to occur to me? And then this morning someone else put another cup of water for her and some fresh bread, and then someone else called the department of wildlife services to see what they suggested we do to protect her. 

How many times do I walk past others performing service who, in order to keep serving, are in need of ‘water’ (encouragement, help with a task, etc), when I have resources that are EASILY accessible to me and wouldn’t inconvenience me at all and yet it doesn’t occur to me how a simple act on my part could “save a duck and thereby her ducklings” and even inspire others to reach out as well. And maybe when I reach out, someone will hiss at me for a second too. But maybe in my day to day routine there’s something I can do to help someone serve. And in the end it will probably be ME who feels more blessed by the service. But that’s okay too.

Monday morning in the snow

Tuesday morning

Going On a Bear Hunt

“I’m a good person. I __________!

Fill in the blank with something like the following:

-go to Church

-recycle

-donate to charity

-stay informed

-support my family

-don’t have any major vices

-belong to the ‘correct’ political party

-believe in Jesus

-believe in science

-have friends who are black/gay/different than me

Sure, these are all great. But perhaps sometimes we get a little too comfortable with ourselves because we can check a few boxes.

And perhaps sometimes we feel superior to others because they don’t check the boxes we think they should.

So we all know the year 2020 has been a big ol’ pile of rotting skunk that has been doused with gasoline, lit aflame, and put into a blender with the lid off. (Sorry about that visual. But after the year we’ve had, I’m guessing it probably didn’t even faze you.)

But I firmly believe that “all things wherewith you have been afflicted shall work together for your good”. Good can even come from this rotting skunk of a year.

With the shut down/alterations of churches, schools and businesses, our lifestyles have changed. Some of those boxes we used to check that made us feel like ‘good people’ have been taken away. We couldn’t go to church or use our cloth grocery bags or…. whatever.

That has been hard and has come at a price, absolutely. But it’s also done us the painful but necessary favor of stripping off our facades. It’s shown us what we truly prioritize. It’s shown us if we are who we think we are. The busy-ness that was always our excuse for why we didn’t do things (spend more time reading with the kids, exercise, volunteer, cook and clean, pray/meditate…) is gone, which has exposed that maybe we just didn’t value those things as much as we wanted to value those things.

With church attendance out of the question, how will I check-box my way to heaven? What do you mean it was always about my heart!? Crap. Am I living in a truly Christlike way? Are my habits, and the way I treat others in line with what I claim to believe? How do I treat the Sabbath now that I’m not at church? Will my children’s doctrinal learning falter without the assistance of Sunday school? Am I actively growing my faith and knowledge or letting them atrophy and wane? How similar am I now to those ‘heathens’ I judged for not attending church?

With school/work/activities being adapted, I am forced to interact/coordinate/cooperate with our family much more. Am I being demanding or responsive to the changing needs of each person? Am I willing to stay in uncomfortable moments and see them through? What am I doing to make these relationships not just functional but delightful?

With the Black Lives Matter movement, the election year, and so many political and social issues all converging into a massive CRAPSTORM, is my mind open to learn? Am I willing to seek understanding from perspectives I don’t share? Am I capable of hearing ‘the other side’ without raising my blood pressure? Do I see these individuals and groups as children of God, or at least as somebody’s baby?

Perhaps this stripping away of things is a divinely administered self-check.

Now I’m not saying 2020 has been worth it. I’d gladly have skipped the year entirely. But I am saying that if we have to go through something awful, we should at least make it worth something by learning from it. I mean, I guess what I’m saying is we’re going on a Bear Hunt. I’ve got my binoculars. I’m not scared. Can’t go over it. Can’t go under it. Gotta go through it.

A Sophisticated Skillset

Getting married felt so natural, but being a ‘bride’ pulled me out of my comfort zone. I had never known much about beauty or fashion and avoided drawing attention to my inadequacies in those areas. Suddenly, friends and acquaintances were asking me about my dress, my hair, my shoes. I was a fish out of water, but people made it sound fun and exciting, so I began to timidly ask friends for advice. I followed all of it as law.

At 28, I had been in a salon less than a handful of times. But I was getting married and was told I “had to” get a mani/pedi. I set appointments at a trendy downtown salon for myself, Aunt Ginny and my sister. I felt awkward, but excited. A little cottage had been colorfully revamped as a business and was bustling with twenty-something girls in heavy makeup. Feeling entirely out of place, my instinct was to shrink into myself. But I was happy to spend time with Ginny and Wendy so I tried to focus on that.

When the nail technician asked what color I had selected for my hands, I told her I wanted a French manicure. (Honestly, I didn’t even know what that was. But I’d been told I would like it best.) The stylish technician huffed and told me she didn’t have time to do that and I should have told them that’s what I wanted when I set the appointment.

Had I been negotiating the price of a taxi in Guatemala, I’d have boldly held my ground. Had I been cat-called by a belligerent drunk, I’d have told him where to go. Had I been debating the efficacy of a refugee program I’d have been 100% clear eyed.

But I was out of my depth. I was not familiar with the culture or etiquette in salons. Over something as trivial as nail color, I suddenly felt devalued. My face flushed with embarrassment and I began to stammer a submissive response when Ginny stepped in. With gentle restraint, she firmly informed the technician that I was getting married the next day and that I *would* be getting a French manicure and how was she going to make that happen? Another technician quickly appeared with a smile and I was well taken care of. The back of my neck was still red and prickly for a while, but Ginny had, for the billionth time in my life, used an everyday moment to remind me of my value. Does nail color really matter? No. But the way I was treated matters.

This woman. She has always been a quiet hero. Ginny has the rare ability to politely stand up for what is right. She is one of the few people I’ve met who can make a fuss without making a fuss. She does this with a sophisticated skillset I’m only beginning to understand.

First, when she sees someone in need, her instincts are activated. Magically (or more likely, through decades of concerted effort), she’s mastered her temper to where she can speak with civility when others would lash out. I think this stems from her guiding purpose – love. Then, she speaks truth unapologetically and expects others to live up to it. This has the effect of awakening the justice-loving part in those she speaks to, and in fact, they begin to live up to what’s right.

I’ve seen this in desperate circumstances where a life will be changed by the outcome, and I’ve seen it with a nail technician. She gives people back their value.

Here’s another example where she used something ‘trivial’ to give me value. We all know that in high school, identity is everything. The way we want to see ourselves and be seen by others is life or death. Many of us made arbitrary rules for ourselves of what we were allowed to like, based on how we wanted to identify. Well, I’m not sure how I identified, but it was NOT as someone who liked popular country music. But I accidentally started liking the Dixie Chicks. It felt like an identity crisis. But Ginny gave me a pep talk, freeing me from asinine self-imposed rules, and empowering me with an open mind. She explained how freeing it is to learn to like lots of things. She made me see that the less judgmental I was, the more I could enjoy life and I would expand into my best self.

That conversation would be the foundation for her next lessons to me on racism and prejudice. She would teach me how God loves a colorful garden, and so should we. She would teach me that there are a million ways to live a beautiful life, and that I should appreciate those that are different than mine.

Twenty something years later she is still teaching me. Now she’s teaching me how to be passionate about creating. She’s teaching me how to provide practical support when someone is going through hard times. She’s teaching me that sometimes you have to speak up, and sometimes you just have to love. But it always come back to this – kindly standing up for what’s right and the value of the person.

Firsts and Lasts

(Written August 23, 2019 and lost in the Drafts Folder)

For the past few years, when people start posting their “First Day of School” pictures, a lump forms in my throat and tears well up in my eyes. I can’t pinpoint what my emotions are – not particularly happy or sad – but something hits me when I see these kids embarking on another year of education. These aren’t my kids and I’m not sure why it affects me at all. But now there are “4 more sleeps” until I take that picture of Georgia on her first day of kindergarten. I can indeed pinpoint my emotions because its ALL OF THEM.

For five and a half years, this old soul with boundless energy has been my sidekick. She has patiently taught me how to be a mother. She has gotten me out on the trail in the morning whether it was hotter than Hades or in the middle of a blizzard. She has been inseparable with Millie. She has filled our home with song, color and whimsy. The old adage “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy” should be altered in our house to say “If Georgia ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy”. She’s the beginning and end of my day. She’s my inspiration and sometimes my frustration. She’s both a powerhouse helper and relentless tormenter of her sisters. She is half grit half pearl. She is honestly the most complex human being I know.

But now she’s about to join the “big kid” world. She’s so ready. And I absolutely know she will thrive. But what about those of us she leaves behind?

Today was her last “jaunt” on the trail. I’m sure she’ll join us occasionally when there is a day off school, or next summer. But she was the one that started this routine as a newborn. She would absolutely wail and sob until I got her into the stroller and ran. If I slowed down or stopped, she would again wail. Now, she and Millie are either on foot or on bikes while I push Flora. She’s either bursting with giggles and energy and I have to run to catch up with her, or she’s completely slumped and requires constant motivation to keep going. Today was the former. She had chosen “Dinosaur Trail. She and Millie held hands and skipped along. They danced and sang, giggled and twirled, sprinting occasionally and stopping to spot something. We ended at the botanical gardens where, two summers ago, she and Millie loved to end our jaunts with a performance on their “stage”. Flora wasn’t quite as into the performance, but Millie and Georgia put on a lively show. Not all of our jaunts are quite so pleasant. I’d like to etch this one into my memory forever. The way the bees legs were heavy with pollen from the roses, the way Millie is her most content outdoors, the way Georgia sees the whole world as if it were as magical as this rose garden…

Georgia is, like me, a friendly introvert. She loves people but gets overstimulated and retreats to her own world. Millie, on the other hand, thrives on companionship. Her world revolves around Georgia and she is more loyal to her than to anyone or anything. Georgia’s preschool was a couple of days a week for 2.5 hours. Millie would either lay on my lap and incessantly ask when Georgia would be home, until she fell asleep, or she would stand on the porch, waiting and yelling “GEORGIA!” I am terrified of how Millie is going to handle Georgia going to kindergarten. But also, I wouldn’t be surprised if she was thrilled to become the “big sister” in charge of Flora and hardly noticed Georgia’s absence.

It’s intense to have three daughters born within less than 4 years. All of our firsts and lasts are clumped together. I look at families with a spread of ages from teens to babes and envy that they get to live through multiple stages at once, and relive the baby years with the helping hands of older kids. But I also pity them for having to juggle all of the stages at once and burn the candle from top, bottom and middle! I look at families with one child and envy that they have such focused attention on that child and have more freedom to live an adult lifestyle. But I also pity them that they only have once to experience everything! Every family dynamic has such beautiful possibilities. But I trust God knew what He was doing when He clumped my firsts and lasts so close. I just pray I have enough memory space to hold onto the magic of them all. What seems at times to be so loud and intense now will, in a blink, be replaced by the sound of crickets. I want to be able to revisit this time in my mind.

So please, daughters, PLEASE for the love of all that is good, give me grand babies. Let me relive this glorious wonderful exhausting phase by proxy. Let me feel the heft of a sleeping newborn on my chest. Let me sooth your colicky baby. Let me cheer on first steps. Let me sweep up the crumbs and debris that mysteriously repopulate under the table every hour. Let me feign amazement at every “Watch me!”  Let me stand in wonder as you mother your children with more patience, charity, and intentionality than I could muster. I know it sounds crazy to be wishing for grand babies when I still have tiny tots myself. But it’s the only thought that gives me comfort when you wake up every day looking a little more grown up.

I clearly remember my mom’s enthusiasm and pride on my first day of kindergarten. She styled my dress and shoes, and had my hair carefully curled. She beamed and hugged me. Only years later did I hear that she cried when I left. I get that. Your last first is heart wrenching. You live in nostalgia for the very moment you’re in. I assume this is why God gives us grand babies. It’s a merciful gift, that allows you to feel all the love and the pride and the wonder of growth, and if done traditionally, still get a good nights sleep.

Sign. Me. Up.

Dyers Woad

(Written and lost in the Drafts folder May 2018)

My entire life I’ve passionately proclaimed the superiority of Autumn to all other seasons. The colors! The crispness! The harvest! The excitement of change! THE SCHOOL SUPPLIES! Who can resist the urgency to enjoy every drop of golden sunshine while wearing sweaters and walking on crunchy leaves?! NO ONE! At least no one with a heart. [Disclaimer: there are many wonderful, loving people with no heart.]

It wasn’t until I became a homemaker that I got to experience much of spring. For years I was cooped up in offices from dawn to dusk. Until it got warm enough, spring was merely a muddy alternative to winter in which I couldn’t night ski.  Somehow it feels disloyal to start loving spring. But these past couple of years, watching the flora and fauna come to life day after day… it’s like REVERSE AUTUMN. Whoah. Mind bending, right?!  Don’t tell Autumn, but I’m totes crushing on Spring.

Anyway, so on one of my favorite trails there was a lovely yellow flower that started out as a cheerful HELLO SPRING surprise one day and then within a week became a tidal wave of golden sunshine. “Aww. That sounds so nice!” you’re thinking. Well, just hold off for a minute. Let me finish.

It’s DYERS WOAD!

This invasive species, though beautiful for a few weeks, chokes out the native plants. As the blooms fade, its dark seed pods emerge and then quickly spread. It consumes rangeland and gulps up water resources. Animals won’t graze it.  Without intervention, it can wipe out plant life and animal habitats.

But its just so pretty!

And terrible.

Just like sin and/or addiction.

At first, it starts slow. There’s just one innocent little plant blooming on a hillside. It’s so appealing with it’s golden spread. Surely it can do no harm. But the next season its seeds have spread and there’s a meadow full of cheery blooms. They’re crowding out some other good things, but hey, they’re still pretty. But then the bloom fades and you’re left with ugly dry seed pods. This is not attractive. And worse, they’re choking out everything in their path. Left unchecked, it eradicates all that was once healthy.

But there’s good news. Dyers’ Woad is fun to pull. If you do it before it goes to seed, the soil is still moist. Give a gentle tug and feel that satisfying POP as the taproot leaves the earth. Once it’s bolted, the soil is dry and the taproot holds much tighter.

Sin (behavior that pulls us away from God) is the same. At first it is either appealing, or so minor that it doesn’t seem worth changing. But it quickly spreads. The sooner we pull them from our lives, the easier they are to overcome. Once we let them get established, they choke out joy, faith, freedom, and often healthy relationships.

I am proud to say that my girls can recognize Dyer’s Woad. We all enjoy pulling up those sunny blooms. Each time we clear a swath of hillside, or even just eliminate a few, I  feel closer to God. It reminds me of my daily efforts to stave off sin – prejudice, selfishness, complacency, etc. I pray that they continue, year after year, to pull those beautiful weeds. I pray that as they get to the age of accountability, the lesson will be etched into their hearts- that something seemingly innocuous may still need rooting out, and that their is joy in keeping our hearts and lives truly free.

A critical review of The Giving Tree

“Please not that book. Pick something else! I’ll read you 10 books if you pick something else.”
Of course, this makes it more desirable. So desirable that I end up reading it twice. Every time. Why don’t I just throw it away, you ask? Partly because RJ salvages it from the donation pile when I put it there. And maybe I feel guilty for despising it.

I love Shel Silverstein and will forever keep “Where the Sidewalk Ends” on an accessible bookshelf. But “The Giving Tree” just makes me feel sad. The tree lovingly gives up every bit of itself for a sad and ungrateful boy. It’s a little too real for me as a mother and as a Christian.

GIVE GIVE GIVE GIVE GIVE. It’s never enough and it’s often thankless.

Many adore this book and I can’t figure out why.  It is not the story I want to read or the story I want to live. Now don’t get me wrong. I do want to lovingly serve my family and mankind. I want to find joy in generosity. I don’t even need loads of gratitude. It’s that terminal burnout that really itches me. That poor tree had nothing left to give.

I can’t reconcile why the things I want for my children seem possible only by sacrificing the things I want for myself.

I want them to love nature and delight in the petals of a flower, the contours of a rock, or the shimmering of water. I also want to get in a brisk 3 mile hike for myself.

I want them to be full of imagination and creativity. I also want to gouge out my eyeballs when I have to play finger bunnies, or clean up art supplies for the bajillionth time.

I want them to enjoy nourishing meals. I also believe “The Joy of Cooking” was a sick joke, rather than an apt name for a cookbook.

There is no sound on earth more glorious than my children’s laughter. Also, I am constantly overstimulated.

I want my children to know that I am always, always available for cuddle and conversation. I also want an hour without interruption to read or write.

Both my desires for them and for myself are good and healthy and important. But they often seem mutually exclusive and at the same time mutually beneficial. It feels selfish to ‘put myself first’ and yet when my needs are met, I’m more equipped to meet theirs.
When I get time to myself, I’m more patient and involved during our together time. When I get exercise, I have more energy and zest to play with them (at least until evening when I’m done, regardless.)

Perhaps something that would help me is to ease up on measuring time as a commodity. You get one hour of TV. I get one hour of exercise. You get 10 more minutes to play before bedtime. I am off-duty after 8pm. It’s so transactional. I like that. But it’s when I stop measuring time that the best things happen. And those best things are occasionally ME things, but more often WE things; Like that night when Millie and Georgia couldn’t seem to settle down and instead of claiming my ‘off duty’ rights, I joined RJ as we tickled their backs. Both of us in that position like you’ve fallen over from kneeling on the floor, in mirror images of each other, our legs touching from knee to foot. Hush slowly fell over the room and I was deeply in love with my family.

As an introvert I jealously protect any moment I get to myself. But time isn’t really mine to dole out and exchange. It’s mine to steward. The seconds and moments and hours count, but mostly in their cumulative power. There are singular experiences that stay vibrant in memories for years. But they are rare. The stuff that really shapes me is more often the stuff I don’t really remember until I analyze my habits, patterns and rhythms in retrospect.

So what DO I want to exchange “my” time for? What is it that I want to BECOME by the use of “my” time?

John A. Widtsoe said “In life all must choose at times. Sometimes, two possibilities are good; neither is evil. Usually, however, one is of greater import than the other. When in doubt, each must choose that which concerns the good of others – the greater law – rather than that which chiefly benefits ourselves – the lesser law. The greater must be chosen whether it be a law or thing. That was the choice made in Eden.”

My greatest aims and desires are WE things. But I don’t want to be The Giving Tree, whose life-force  is diminished by giving. I want to give out of my abundance. I want to have kindness and generosity and laughter and patience and activism pour out of me because it is constantly being refilled by divine sources and there’s not enough room in my own life to contain it.

I want to be like Eve, who knew that she must sacrifice her own comfort and ease in the garden in order to give mankind a chance. She knew that we must experience both the bitter and the sweet, sickness and health, pleasure and pain in order to know true happiness. She knew that WE brings a fuller joy than ME. So I will forge onward in the tug and pull – doing acts of self-care (not self preservation) SO THAT I can have the abundance which allows me to care for others and experience that fuller joy.

Mountains in Springtime

Bright green buds, creeks joyfully full of snowmelt

birds cheering for new life

even before the morning sun touches their feathers

but also, the old matted down undergrowth

brown and drab like a mangy street dog

The pubescent transition from winter to spring

Dust to dust sounds elegant

Unlike this awkward and messy part of death

I want to look away, to only see the clean new stalks

the glittering waters and the cerulean sky

and the vibrant blooms

But I am like the mountain

I have my unseemly parts

that may one day be hidden under new growth

and you don’t look away.

You take me as I am.

So, dear mountain, I will not look away

I will see your dead rot as nourishment

as a home and a future for life

You do not have to be beautiful

to be beautiful

Alfombras in my kitchen

In Guatemala there is a tradition during Holy Week where artists create intricate “Alfombras” or carpets along the route of the Easter processionals. These are planned and designed for months. The complex and colorful motifs are created sometimes one spoonful at a time, by hand (often with the help of handmade stencils). They’re mostly made of sawdust but they also use pine needles or fruits and vegetables, carnations, bougainvillea, roses and mums, and even random things like bottle caps or tea bags. Precision and clean edges are what make this large scale artwork so eye catching.

(Photo from Google images)

The artists start work on Thursday night, working straight through until morning. These magnificent creations are barely finished when the early morning processions start and the Good Friday processions clomp right through these stunning designs without so much as looking down at what they destroy. Immediately after, a cleaning team will sweep up the remnants, which at this point have no form or beauty.

This work, fleeting as it may be, is considered an honor. The months of planning, the weeks of preparation and the hours of execution are a revered sacrifice that culminates in a brief but perfect moment.

I feel this.

Every flat surface is cluttered and sticky and, in spite of the kids “taking their dishes to the sink”, strewn with evidence that my begrudgingly lovingly prepared meal was not that satisfying. Dishes are scraped and carefully arranged in the dishwasher. Art supplies and precious treasures are put away (or tossed into the next area to be tidied). Then, ahhhhh. The droplets of cleaning spray catch sunlight and fall to the counter. For the nth time today, I stretch across the expansive counter, wiping and scrubbing until there is a clean sheen. I stand back and watch my circular strokes dry for a second. This moment is perfect.

In the next moment, the kids will see this clean counter as a blank canvas waiting to be filled once again with their toys, snacks, art projects and dirty footprints. I’ll roam the house, bending down hundreds of times to pick up bits of string, wrappers, socks, beads, crayons, crackers, toys, tools, shoes… a Hansel and Gretel trail, telling me the story of their day. And I repeat this process without beginning or end, perpetually.

But in this moment, in this one small space, there is satisfaction. There is completion. There is beauty. There is love. (Just don’t look at the floor, though, because there is also a lot of crackers and sweeping doesn’t give me the same joy.)

I create order and cleanliness with the knowledge that destruction is imminent. I don’t welcome it, but I accept it.

On a smaller scale than the alfombras, but with equal labor intensity, I’ve seen how some Bhuddist monks painstakingly craft intricate mandalas out of colored sand. After completing these works of art they destroy it themselves to symbolize the transience of life – that nothing is permanent. THAT, I do not relate to. I mean, like the Easter Alfombras, my work is destroyed by a procession of other people. So help me, after I’ve mopped the floor, no one is allowed to eat or drink until the next morning.

(Photo from Google images)

But maybe the Guatemalan artists and the monks are both teaching me something. My OCD heart doesn’t want to believe this, but maybe its not the perfect moment of completion that matters so much as the act of creation. Maybe its the constant effort that is the art, not the piece itself. My art is not made by measured spoons of colored sawdust. It is not eye catching or noteworthy in the least. But it too is an honor and a sacrifice. Whether it be the wiping of my kitchen counter or the soothing of an irrational meltdown, or the crafting of a weekly menu and shopping list, or cajoling a resistant child to brush their teeth. I am creating an intricate design whose colors are patience, forgiveness, humor, perseverance… and most of all, love.

Sounds from the porch where I quarantine

The rapid thud of a two year old as she blazes through the house with confidence you can hear in her footsteps.

Songbirds warbling unseen amid the stillness of budding trees.

Church bells dong consistently and reassuringly in spite of, well, everything.

The squeal of trampoline springs being stretched with each bounce.

Echoes of happy neighbor children whose sounds have more expression than content.

Distant cars whirring like the suburban equivalent of waves hitting the shore.

Wooden chairs knocking on wooden floors.

The specific sound of the “treat” cabinet hinge followed by mischievous whispers.

The enthusiasm of dogs.

My own breathe as I release the lingering anxiety.

My own heartbeat that says life is not cancelled.

Mining for Gold During a Pandemic

Yesterday I was awoken at 6:12am by another earthquake. It wasn’t like the one that had the whole house jumping and rumbling, but I lay in bed until the swaying and the rocking stopped. My heart was pounding and I couldn’t believe everyone else slept through it. But there wasn’t an earthquake… Until 8:12am. It was just me in a panic.

I am so fortunate. My shelter, food storage, and income are more secure than so many right now. I have the luxury of being able to do a proper quarantine. While the economy is tanking, and some families are living day to day, I’m buying stocks and having someone deliver groceries to my doorstep. I AM SO VERY, VERY, VERY FORTUNATE.

But that does not make me immune to anxiety. I’m not looking for sympathy. I’m just struggling like so many others. In times like this, I think it’s normal to be grateful and still freaking out.

I’m amazed at those on social media and in my podcast library who are putting out the most inspired content right now. They’re sharing deep spiritual messages, complex ideas and practical suggestions on how to use this quarantine in beautiful ways. I am so wowed by this and I am squirreling away their nuts of wisdom for when I will be able to digest them.

But for now, I’m barely absorbing anything and I’m hardly able to get a coherent sentence out. My brain is a jumble of anxiety, not creativity. My former life from two weeks ago feels IMPOSSIBLE. I’m in such a fog. I feel stuck in the bottom part of Maslow’s Heirarchy of needs.

maslow-hierachy-of-needs-min.jpg

I know exactly what I need to do to get out of this funk and get higher on the pyramid. Everyone knows. It’s so easy. The answer is my normal routine: Exercise, healthy meals, fresh air, prayer and scripture study, meditation and staying connected with loved ones.

BUT IT FEELS SO OUT OF REACH. Instead I feed myself garbage. I shower at some point. I voraciously read scary headlines while avoiding talking to anyone I love. I either cling to my children in desperation or swat them away like flies. At night I toss and turn amid terrifying dreams (okay that part is fairly normal) before doing it all over again.

I’m writing today as an attempt to pull something good from the deep recesses of my soul  NOT because I feel like I have something to offer anyone else. I’m just hoping I can tunnel down deep enough that I can bring out some of my spiritual gold before the whole mine collapses. The canary in the shaft is not chirping. So that’s not a good sign.

So here are a few things I want to remember, that maybe could give me enough motivation to slowly climb upwards:

Above the clouds, the sky is always blue. 

Sometimes you have to laugh to CREATE joy. 

Seemingly opposite feelings can coexist. 

Now is not forever. 

One small improvement is enough for today.

That’s all I’ve got for now. But if you have any suggestions, or better yet, some hilarious memes or videos, send them my way.