what your heart needs…

January 5, 2014

photo (32)

Your heart needs a hug too… by Lucy, age 8

I don’t always know what my heart needs, in those moments I find my mind wanders in circles only stopping to turn the old rocks of my soul over or to imagine (i.e. obsess over) some sort of despair and forever lack of clarity. This may or may not happen every third week. I find this is possibly the dark side of FEELING ALL THE FEELINGS ALL THE TIME.

Then in an unexpected moment, someone wise says something so simple…and obvious. …like your heart needs a hug too.

Oh yeah, that.

Could it be so uncomplicated? It seems the most foundational truths usually are. This is why it’s good to keep babies and old wise ladies around. Newness reminds us how we all just need to be close to the source of safety and love, and the aged show how to loosen our grip, that everything changes (both good and bad) and we will find our way. There is no need for worry and fear, the energy need not leave our hearts and is best served other ways.

The fortitude grows, leaving only enough space for that which you truly need.

It’s too much for me to think of a whole year or life change. So today I start small, and new…the most simple need, the most simple thought…let it be, let it grow.

If you like, you can tell us your most simple need or truth in the comments. Is it a shower? Is it that you need someone to squeeze your shoulder or hand? Is it a walk or fresh air? Is it a one more blanket? Is it that you actually are very, very tired from the holiday? Is it that you need a stranger to send some hope or make you laugh? Is it that you are scared and strong at the same time? tell us loves…we are here.

his gentle wisdom…

January 4, 2014

jackie boy love

jack, age 11

His entrance to the world was not an easy one…it was my hardest birth, giving birth to a deep bond between us- only the other knowing just how deeply we loved and worked.

He walks through life much the same, a quiet persistence and wisdom. Both with a very matter-of-fact delivery but somehow with  ancient roots.

He asks me how I am with sincerity every single day and thanks me for every meal.

He watches too closely over his sisters and is frustrated by the lack of respect he receives from them for this careful eye.

He is forever loyal to his brother, like a twin who is bound beyond even blood.

His charm is unconnected, he is unknowing of the power it possesses.

He works towards his dreams methodically, catching them, holding tight.

His mind forever curious, his heart tender and kind.

Some days, to me as his mother, he doesn’t seem of this world- I have no idea where he came from…almost an enigma to me.

Without trying to understand why or how, I land in a place of deep gratitude that we are in a family together.

…that I am his mother.


Happy Birthday Jackie-boy! We love you so…


this week…

June 23, 2012

well, last week, but you know…

this week…

June 18, 2012

well, last week, but you know…

Don’t forget the Summer Kindness Challenge for Kids starts today! It’s a week of kindness and family love for our Dads. Would love to have you join us!

this week…

June 12, 2012

well last week, but you know…






“How did it go? Are you okay?” I asked as he walked into the waiting room.

“It was okay, it was definitely weird, but I’m okay.” he replied.

The lovely woman lead me back her office to hear the results. She was extremely gentle and kind as she explained exactly where he fell on the bell curve.  Careful to express his strengths and gingerly tell me the places where growth might be needed. It was an intelligence test.

I finally relieved her.

“Dr. _________, I have to tell you, I totally appreciate what you do but I really do not care about this test AT ALL. I just want him to feel loved and be kind and grateful.” I said.

“Ohhhhh, well that is music to my ears.” she replied. She looked a little shocked and delighted at the same time.

…and a few days later, it was time for an awards dinner for this same boy who called the intelligence test weird, a lovely award…the only in his school. Awards are sort of a mixed bag because the truth is, you love your kid and are hella proud even if no one ever gets a plaque with their name carved in it, or a paper saying how great you are or how hard you worked. …and then there are moments when awards hold the space to celebrate the part of your kid that makes him or her special or dear.

…but that day I looked around, he seemed unaffected by the accolade…and yet more touched when Jorge helped him tie his tie, then held his face and kissed him…right in the middle of all the grouchy chaos of getting the family dressed up and out the door on time.

…when his brother turned and looked at him with wide eyes of pride every time they congratulated the honorees as if to say, “they are talkin’ about YOU” during the ceremony.

…when his Marmie bought a plane ticket to come see his moment, because she just does that…even if it means she has to work double the hours at her job.

…when it is more exciting to get ice cream/yogurt after than it was to get the actual award. The place is rad and seems the more appropriate place to celebrate any way….more like us.

…when your mom insists on taking a picture with you because she has none…and you know it will mean something to her (and you) when you are old. …and you even let her hold you tight, and too long.

…when your dad wears his bad ass sunglasses and lets you try them on and you imagine what it feels like to maybe be like him some day.

…and you forget what was ever said at that ceremony, or that award but you remember the family pride and deep love that was held for you…and how weird that intelligence test was.

this week…

June 3, 2012

well, last week….but you know…

love me like this…

June 2, 2012

“Sooooo, what do you want for your birthday?” I asked cheerfully.

“Ummm, nothin’.” he replied.

Oh my lord. This has been his answer for every birthday and Christmas for at least the last 20 years. And I never listen to him, and then there were the years where I painstakingly listened for clues on which electronic gadget I should buy only to have him buy it for himself 2 days before the holiday.

I still love to argue this maddening topic but I kept it cool.

“Well…how about a backyard party, ya know, just a few people…” I said. Inside my head this meant a Pinterest worthy garden party with 5 different amazing salads, cheeses I can’t pronounce, an insane wine I know nothing about and beef tenderloin or something else ridiculous.   And by golly, there would be a shockingly beautiful table with meaningful touches at every turn…and dancing and sparklers to close the evening…you know, like a wedding but for a guy, on his birthday.

“Yeah, like burgers and beer? You know we have that giant blue plastic bucket, it’s good for beer and we can use the tiki torches. I just don’t want you to, you know, be all stressed out and stuff. ” he replied.

“ME? Stressed out before a party?!! NOoooo….” I laughed and he hugged me tight.

Okay, I’m gonna do it, I’m actually gonna give him what he wants…yes,  I can do that. Well, almost. I started to Pinterest, just a bit and realized it was pointless.  I could settle on pulled pork and beans, corn and slaw,  and summer beer…but I couldn’t totally get rid of pretty.

I spent all day cleaning up the secret garden, and set a table with the colors of his new company and a large picture of he and Lucy, wishing I could put little story starters or notes of love for Jorge at each place setting…but I didn’t, and I didn’t even buy a cake or presents. I only got the slightest bit stressed at the end when our friends started to arrive and I still hadn’t showered.

He walked outside, summer beer in hand.

“Soooo, what do you think?” I asked.

“It’s great babe, it kinda looks like  I died, but I like it!” he said as he looked at the table with the giant picture.

And it did, it totally looked like he died.

“Oh Jorge Salgado, everyone should know how much they are loved BEFORE they die!”

he laughed…and even in my feeble attempts to love him how he wants to be loved I can only almost get it right…

…and yet this  dear man who needs no fan fare, only a cold beer on a sticky night, yummy food on paper plates, kids crawling on his lap and leaving to chase fireflies, a good razzing or story and his family and friends close…it’s all he’s ever wanted and needed to feel loved.

…to be loved like this.

my birthday love song for you my partner and friend:

Are you a birthday kind of person? Do you like them big and grand or quiet and meaningful? Tell me in the comments, I’m taking an unofficial poll. or even better, do you have some one that you care about that you are stumbling through trying to love them right?

ALSO!! Hey RVA friends, I just hid one of these in the back sleeve of the DVD copy of The Sound of Music at Westover Hills Library! If you find it, it’s yours! But take a pic and send it to me at patience@kindnessgirl.com!

I knew it was gonna be bad. Lucy’s beloved kindergarten teacher (the one that totally gets her), Mrs. Hines blew a disc in her back. This poor magical teacher soldiered on for weeks trying shots and meds but in the end she needed surgery. She was going to be out for 4 weeks.

Lucy did surprisingly well the first 3 weeks, the substitutes were rough but she stretched herself. She cried a little here and there but we looked at pics of Mrs. Hines, told stories of her goodness, counted the days until she would be back and Lucy pressed on.

The fourth week came, we were mad excited and then the bomb got dropped. Mrs. Hines would not be back for 3 more weeks and the substitute was awful. Luce started to fall apart. Mornings and nights of crying, stomach aches, my girl was down right almost depressed.

“I’ve just been waiting so long mom!” she said.

“I know baby, I know.” I replied, not really knowing what else to do. *sigh*

About a week later, she came to me one afternoon about to cry…and to be honest, I just didn’t have it in me to do it again. I sent her to Jorge thinking he could put in a few Mrs. Hines coping hours. Apparently we were all done with the situation because a few minutes later she came back.

She sat down hard in the chair, tears rolling down her face.

“Mom!” it was the tone of pain, and I instantly looked up.

“Mom, I am not getting the support I need!”  I sat shell shocked by her honesty and ability to call it in.

Her shoulders slumped.

“Mom, I need a lot of love to get me through this. ” She said while heaving.

She is six. And I was in total attention and awe…that she could say what every person on the planet feels and so desperately needs in the middle of something that feels so big. Why don’t we all do this? Just lay it out.

I had done every ritual I could think of…except the kitchen altar candle.

“Oh Luce, the only thing I can think of is when I am really sad and just can’t hold anything more I go to the kitchen altar candle. You know that one next to the sink where I do dishes? I just write down everything I need and what my heart is feeling and I light the candle and let the candle hold it for me. Do you want to try it?” I said.

She nodded her head and promptly filled up 5 slips of paper with her needs.

And when it was time to light the candle I remembered I had something special in the car. My dear friend Suzanne had just sent me one of her sweet sacred strikes. A tiny match book covered in her art with this message:

use these strike on box matches to light a candle in remembrance, as a prayer, a wish, or a blessing, as you strike the match, breathe deeply, breathing in love and breathing out love. breathe peace. breath hope. breathe light and love.

…and I looked at her little face as she breathed deep, following each instruction, taking all of it into her heart. I let her light the match and candle and we sat quietly for a moment. Together.

she asked me to take a picture of her face so she could remember

The next day she carried the tiny piece of art that came with the matches in her pocket to remember someone and something is holding it for her…and that the love you need to get you through is possible.

Maybe we just have to ask (but why is that so hard sometimes?)…or call it in the place of vulnerability and courage…and light a candle.

The candle is in the comments today my friends…feel free to write on your slips of paper, there is all the love you need…

this week…

May 14, 2012

well, last week. but you know…

Today, I woke up wishing I was on the island…a couple years ago I had the opportunity to photograph a birthday weekend on a private island.  The island belongs to a kind family who have owned it since the 1700’s. My photography life is not nearly this glamorous usually, I promise  you…but the island was special, it held something I can’t quite explain and I will always remember. …and the friendships and love that weekend felt about as old as the land, it was lovely.

Some of my favorite residents were the animals on the farm, most were free to roam and I befriended the little guy above, and a few others.

Are you wishing to be somewhere else today? or fine right where you are?

So there was a day of Netflix watching…yes, an entire day. Because this is what is required to complete blog posts on some days. And when you can no longer watch even one more episode of Garfield, your mind finally returns to imagination.

It all started with Lyra deciding she should have a picnic in the old red wardrobe that is falling apart. The bottom row usually holds towels but every last one is in the laundry, which incidentally has grown into a small mountain. An empty space is an invitation for picnics and eventually magic.

When she was eventually done picnic-ing and lounging, someone found an old hand-me-down gifted wand and figured out it was indeed a magic wardrobe…and the game began. Someone climbed in, a dramatic wave of the wand and the person climbed out  something completely different… it was usually a cat or a frog, but each time it grew more exciting.

I found myself kind of wishing I could climb into the magic wardrobe and come out changed…and there are things and experiences that change us, like magic, quickly- some that harm us that we have to work hard to undo, and others that change or rearrange our souls in profound ways for the better.

…and there are some magic wardrobes that we have to climb into over and over again to try change on until it sticks or to get comfortable with the idea of something that is completely different than what we know or who we are.

…and there are some magic wardrobes that we have to climb into to dream the impossible or to keep our dreams close. I think these might be the best wardrobe moments, because you never know when the magic may actually happen or that the dream is being held when we can’t seem to hold on…or it’s just too big/scary.

…and sometimes the magic in the wardrobe is love, hope or kindness…or truth- the gentle and hard kind, vulnerability or courage.

All of it is important for change to come, or for it to find us, or for us to embrace what is already there.

If you could lounge in the magic wardrobe today, what would you be when you came out? or what would the wardrobe hold for you? who do you wish could climb into the wardrobe with you?

Feel free to use the comments as the giant wardrobe today.


…and don’t you kinda wish you were reading The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe right now? and actually, it’s a red armoire, but wardrobe sounds dreamier. 


It feels like overnight I have been dropped into a world calling for active change (besides my kindness work, of course). This scares me…it overwhelms me…I start running around in my head trying to figure out what I should do, where I fit, wonder if I fit, worry we have to start NOW…and in the middle of all the tizzy, some tiny bits of clarity have been miraculously somehow, even despite my crazy head, been floating to the surface. So look for a few posts on the subject in the near future…today, all change reminded me of was chicken nuggets.

I remember, so long ago, I was at a Valentine’s Day party when Josiah was just in preschool. We were fixing food plates for the kids and I looked down at the heart shaped red plate and staring back at me was a slice of pizza and chips. That’s it. I looked over at my friend who was quietly slicing up cucumbers and cutting down tiny broccoli trees right next to the pizza and chips for her son.

I started the terrible parent dialogue in my head, you know the one…

“OMG, when did we become the family with the chicken nugget and macaroni and cheese kids? I thought we were totally gonna be the sushi and crab bisque family? ”

You know the kids that eat and try magical and delicious exotic dishes because their parents introduced just the right foods at the right time from the start? And I tried, oh I did and still do…I made baby food and listened to foodies, and watched organic food commercials and went on food kicks….but somewhere along the way, I got another job, and laundry piled and had another baby and  went out to eat and had drinks spilled on my lap from reaching/fast said baby and just wished the freakin’ french fries would  come so my kid would eat and I could finish telling my man about the very important TED Talk I watched 10 minutes of about toxins in our food. And I felt slightly justified that my kid still loved fruit…and tried to ignore that fact he hated anything green and that I was a shitty parent…

…until the Valentine’s pizza plate because I realized slowly but surely, I had given up on any hope of change. Because it was too far gone, or took more energy than I had to give, or that it was easier in some strange way to claim bad parenthood than to try, because my kids were doomed to a life of poor nutrition…and it was all so dramatic, as mothers seem to get, even busy, harried mothers, it’s what we do. (or if you are just me, and your life is dramatic and care this deeply about EVERYTHING-peas, injustice, and the right ribbon on the ding dong ditch flowers)


But something about that day and my friend cutting up tiny broccoli trees, (and she was indeed going to point out the wonder that broccoli looks like tiny trees to her four year old) shifted something inside of me about change. She had a chicken nugget kid too, but she still offered a green thing on that plate, every time. EVERY SINGLE TIME.

She never knew when and if or what he would try…but she believed it was worth trying. It was small and insignificant but consistent and hopeful. I realized the whole world of problems is like a giant plate of nuggets, we may not be able to solve it all in one fell swoop but the world is worth offering some broccoli to, over and over again. Almost everything good starts some where with someone believing it may be possible…and believing in the people around them, seeing and claiming something no one else has yet.

So I am happy to report that over time some members of my family no longer gag at the sight of something green on their plate and others will even take a few bites (some with a bribery of dessert) and the entire family will now eat chicken ceasar salad slathered in dressing and fluffy croutons for a real main dish dinner…and there are less chicken nuggets in the repertoire  and more whole foods all around.

But  that one simple quiet act by a wise mother created change in me… I know now it all matters, each step we take, no matter how small. It leaves the world and all we hold a beautiful place to start.

*Lyra shockingly started eating the bag of peas in our photo shoot, I know, who knew?! 

this week…

April 19, 2012

well, last week, but you know…





this week…

April 5, 2012

well, last week, but you know…

a tree fell (everyone was okay, except my best friend’s bedroom :(), a new ukulele, a baby born, a birthday full of 12 year old gaming and nerf battles, and lots more notes written (more are coming slowly but surely)…

Money is short…time even shorter…yet still I found myself wandering my local thrift store because this is what I do when I feel particularly bad about either of those things. There it was, a really, really old church pew. I know it’s old because it’s uncomfortable and so simply made. I wanted it bad. There was no good or logical reason to buy an old church pew, but it’s a good thing I am hardly ever logical I guess.

The Facebook status update went something like this:

i have no $ but bought a really, really old church pew today…and I figure many an old lady or gent said some prayers in those seats…and who needs money when you have the remnants of old lady prayers…

It sort of feels like that today, that you are leaning into something old, or something or one that has walked before you because you know on some level the people before you did too. So the old pew sits, and every morning I sit, for just a minute or two and let it hold all of me.

…and it sits under this window, so now all together, the stained glass window must make it official, colored light and all, I am opening the kindness church. (partially because I can’t seem to sit in a real church these days)

Just like any church, it holds hope and doubt, confusion, anger, truth, strength and a bit of solace. Except in this place, there is also swearing, not lots of sermons (except if someone forgets their  jacket and you lose your cool, a kid may school you), lots of messes, a weekly dance party and maybe the occasional atheist, I’m not sure but I love that.

and I am pretty sure the the Dalai Lama was right when he said, “My religion is simple, my religion is Kindness.”

There is no should, or drumming it up, or right way, it is just being. If you don’t feel kind, it’s probably because you need some yourself and if you are scared, there is courage waiting for you, and if there is wonder, there is beauty in trying it out…if there is a place where love and human connection exist, it is in kindness. 

So the church is open my friends, come and sit…or find a bus bench, a couch, a subway seat, a sidewalk step, it’s all there too…ready to hold all of you.

this week…

March 25, 2012

well, last week, but you know…

photo by the amazing Meghan McSweeney

I am reading your notes…so many notes. You all are holding so much, but I wonder if we all are…in our own way.

I am amazed by you, and have so much respect. Every night, before I go to bed I think about you all and sometimes wonder what you look like or how your day was, or imagine what we all had for dinner, or hoped your car started, or that the job came through, or that you scraped up enough for rent, or your results from the chemo were good, or that someone called, or that you passed the test, or that you had a kick ass St. Patrick’s day, or that you made up with your dad, or that you didn’t feel so alone tonight.

Then I think about the picture the editors at Huffington Post picked to be the cover photo of the article… it was a picture of some graffiti on a wall, it read- all you have to do is be brave and kind, and love the trees. I searched and searched looking for the author, someone to give credit to for these sweet words because I am holding them so close today.

It’s all we have to do- be brave and kind. And for some reason, that feels like something I can do (even if it isn’t pretty or graceful), even just for today and maybe even tomorrow. It doesn’t say things will be easy or even work out but I am discovering it may be more about how you find you in whatever is thrown your way, good or bad, big or small, no matter what…

Kindness has always come so easily to me….but bravery, well, I often think, “Awww, crap, the universe is going to ask me to be brave?!!”

I resist bravery, because I don’t always believe it is in me…but the truth is, it’s in everyone. It’s in being vulnerable, in realizing the truth (about yourself and others), in handing it over when it weighs too much, in allowing yourself to be loved, in holding something hard so you can see, in standing up tall, in receiving, in forgiving,  in stepping in or out, in relentlessly walking the path (even while tripping), in holding love.

…and it’s all so complicated anyway, and yet really, really simple…anyone can be brave, and anyone can be kind.

it’s all we have to do.

we are writing, writing, writing notes…but until then, feel free to share about what is asking you to be kind and brave in the comments today.

this week…

March 18, 2012

well, last week, but you know…




“I don’t do this anymore, it just isn’t part of my life…it used to be though.” I said to my dear friend Christa as we sat and watched our kids play on the beach.

“What? sit? or just be?” she replied.

“Both.” I answered.

It was an impromptu trip, an idea you say out of loud to a friend but not really expecting it to happen. You know, the “You know what we should do? we should…” …but this time I just said yes. So we booked a cabin in a Virginia Beach camp ground for a couple nights. I didn’t really have money, time or energy but all of those things are short these days and some times you just have to call it in. Since money was tight, my friend did what any good girlfriend does, she slipped me a $20 and her dear husband Cris went out and hooked us up with a mad amount of groceries…then he sent a lasagna. And with way too many bags (plus some christmas lights)

and even more children, we were on our way.

We arrived and within minutes someone named the cabin, and it turned out to be a very fitting name- The Magic Cabin. I slipped a sign on the door, one invitation of kindness and the magic began. We didn’t really have a lot planned, a little, but not a lot. I was just too tired to do all that making memories stuff, but I am starting to think the best stuff just happens on its own anyway.

It started with a failed and messy Pinterest craft…but no one seemed to care.

and a sweet dinner…with the question answered- “What one thing do you want to do before you grow up?”

then there was nature woodsy stuff…

and vacation surprises and candy…

and beach treasures and kite goodness…

…and there were visits from a kind Granny, and kid conflict, and frolicking, and eating way too many clementines, and chai tea with homemade maple syrup whipped cream, and scary bugs, and laughing so hard your side hurts, and snoring, and exhaustion from packing and unpacking and packing again…and epiphanies about your parenting.

The kind that was so gentle, and unfolded just so, so you could see it on your own, without judgement and surrounded in so much love. I could see just how much my kids need me in an intentional way to hold experiences of kindness for them, and just them at times. For so long I have secretly feared my kids will grow up and feel like they didn’t get enough while I shared and invited kindness for the whole world…and I realized how open they are and how little it takes, and how over the last few years, little by little, I have lost bits and moments of family kindness.

And it was so sweet to just be, to be in the place where it all started, and to be in the only place that matters…and to know you can always call it back and decide to be a new way…and to be a little sad for how you lost your path and yet so hopeful and happy to know what you can do to find it again.

So the last night, we decided to give the kids a blessingway. (a blessingway is a ceremony rooted in Navajo culture and history as a way to “bless the way” of someone walking into a new part of life. Women often give them to pregnant women about to have a baby.) After about the million I have been to over the years, it never occurred to me to have one with my kids.

So we made a fire and gathered a circle with candles and decorated with the left over defunct Pinterest art that Josiah made into a nest. It was perfect. We called the kids in one by one, and whispered by name, “We are glad you are here ______.”

They sat with wide eyes as Christa explained what a blessingway was and the history behind it…and how we wanted to bless them as part of our families together. Over the weekend, the kids had been learning about animal totems and trying to figure out which animal best represented them and their spirit. Some kids knew and others weren’t sure. So we gathered some items from nature to represent the animal we chose for them. We presented the items and told each child the things we saw in them and the blessings they hold.

Josiah was a deer, Roman a buck,  Lucy was a bird, Jack was a wolf…and I watched as they soaked it all in. And one we were totally wrong about and have to still figure out. It was almost as if the little guy knew himself, knowing who and what he is so clearly…but we didn’t have the match right. It was a lesson in the value of struggle and finding your way to your kids, to listening and honoring each other in the process. It was the beauty of the kid bs meter, and that it’s worth it to be real and true, whatever that looks like. (and that s’mores can right almost any parent screw up)

It was finally Lyra’s turn and Christa started her blessing. She explained how Lyra was playful and engaging like a dolphin…inviting connection and love. And I watched as Lyra nodded her head in total agreement, while she whispered “yes” as she sat in my lap and listened to Christa’s wise words. Her eyes sparkled, it was as if someone just saw all of her for the first time. I was shocked by her response and how deeply she felt the connection, even at the age of three. It was a true soul experience, for all of us. She hugged and thanked me 3 times after we were done, and asked if we could turn her dolphin shell into a necklace. I don’t think it has left her neck yet.

I walked away once again amazed by how capable kids are, in their minds, in their hearts, in their souls- the magic they are..and how much they hold and have to offer…and amazed how magic comes in so many forms, the magic of not knowing, the magic of struggle, the magic of being discovered and blessed and mostly, the magic of just being.

you can see the rest of the pictures from our adventure here.

it is love…

February 15, 2012

dude on an electric scooter most excited about cotton candy kindness yesterday, he was awesome

My buddy Nora (age 6) wrote very simply on one of the cotton candy sticks…it is love.

And I think that said it all.

There were drive by cotton candy pick-ups.

People bum rushed by gaggles of small children so excited to pass on the candy love.

There was the most beautiful couple dressed in the most perfect vintage clothes walking away with their pink fluffy candy, like something out of a movie.

There were neighborhood kids that came back for thirds.

There were deliveries being made three streets over, valentine surprises met with so much delight.

There were meltdowns from sugar crashes, it was perfect.

It was a lovely, lovely day because…it is love.

Thanks to all who joined us and those who joined us from a far with so much love, we felt it!

GUYS! I forgot to tell you- It’s Random Acts of Kindness Week! I always forget it is a thing or a special week but we have a mission idea up for you every day over at the Guerrilla Goodness Facebook page if you want to play along!

(and thank you for all who offered me love and hope yesterday- the answer surprisingly came through, it’s a go…more news when I can share.)

this week…

February 12, 2012

well…last week, but you know…

a place all my own…

February 2, 2012

I shared a room (and usually a bed) with my sister for my entire childhood. The only time I ever had my very own room was for the one year when my little sister left for college and I still lived at home right before I got married. I was a child bride at 21 (well, almost 22) and have shared a room with my man and often 2-3 children at any given time for the last 14 years.

There was that stint where all 5 of us had what we affectionately called the “MTV Cribs bed”, it was two queen beds on platforms pushed together with pillows with each of our names on them. It was so cheesy, sweet and so weird. We ran somewhat of a toddler frat house where kids stayed up all hours; we all laid in bed and talked in the dark until we fell asleep every night. And then school happened and the party was over, we resigned to a routine and became responsible parents. Even through all this over the years, we usually all end up in the same room, no matter how much space we have.

This may explain why everyone was so disturbed 2 days after Christmas when I climbed up into the loft to clean.

“Mom! What are you doing up there?” someone small said from the bottom of the stairs.

“I’m cleaning this place out so I can have a studio!” I shouted down.

“What’s that?” she shouted back.

“A studio is a place of your own just for your art and work.” I replied.

“Mom, you don’t need a place of your own, you have us! …and your bed.” she said.

“Exactly! That’s exactly why I need a place of my own!” I said.

And the rest of the day, I cleaned and organized, dragged an old door out of the shed, found some old sheets and blankets. I asked Jorge to help me get the dusty door up to the loft.

“You’re gonna do what?” he said.

He laughed when my next request was for him to carry up an old tree stump two flights of stairs.

2 days later and 2 strands of twinkle lights, I had the prettiest little studio you ever did see. It doesn’t matter that you can barely stand up in the attic, it’s just perfect. And I spent a whopping $6 to make it all happen.

After all was said and done, I climbed up into my nest and the full out family revolt started. Every 10 minutes for the first 48 hours, some one came in to plead their case. Each with their own strategy.

“How’s it goin’ up there?”

“I miss seeing you mom, are you coming down?” (this was 20 minutes in)

“Mom, do you think we should have some girly time all together up there, because I can come up, no problem.”

“Mom, I made a picture to celebrate your studio! Want me to come up?”

“Are you gonna stay up there all day?”

“MOOOOOMMM! I neeeeed a drink!”

“Don’t you wanna watch a movie with me?” (the largest member of our family, who shall go unnamed)

And I held strong, and I kinda missed them (like the tiniest bit), and I realized how productive I am, and remembered I am a clean person, and I sat in awe of the silence when everyone finally settled in…and two weeks later I was working in bed again, but just a little, because it’s just nice to know you can have a place all your own, family revolt and all.

Please tell me in the comments if you have a studio (give us link to a picture) or if you don’t, what dreamy space are you planning in your head? It can even be a Pinterest dream studio- it all counts. I’d love to hear all about it.

It was a two hour trip to DC. I was just praying we would narrowly miss the Friday commuter traffic. It was a cousin weekend and the kids could barely contain their excitement because we all know, there is nothing better on the planet than cousins. They are like siblings but with out all the drama and everydayness. Not to mention the meet up and drop off point was IKEA, this meant meatballs and gravy while watching School House Rock and sitting on a bright green ergonomically correct chairs.

We rolled up to the family parking and started to pile out of the car. Jack hopped out with no jacket on and hands dug deep in his pockets, it was about 38 degrees.

“Jack! Where is your jacket buddy?” I asked. There was already that tone in my voice.

“I don’t know, I thought I brought it!” he responded acting shocked.

I don’t really know exactly what happened after that moment but a rant of sorts started. It wasn’t really yelling, it was the kind where I  made him feel  like total crap for this forgetfulness. I knew it was not just about this moment. It was the four jackets lost before, the four Columbia jackets I had so proudly found at the thrift store, the 57,000 reminders to put on a jacket, to pick a jacket up, the pleading to hang it on the perfectly designed mud room/station hook to make it easy, it was the whole entire spring when this child was three and jumped in every puddle known to man, it was old…and A LOT.

As it was happening, it was almost as if I was out of my body looking down on myself.  I knew it was wrong, I could feel it…but I just could. not. stop. This may have only been about 4 minutes of ranting but it felt like 100 minutes or maybe a 1,000 to Jack. I muttered something about everyone getting back in the car and we were going to buy a new jacket.

And then she spoke. That Lucy girl.

“Mom, I am gonna tell you something right now.” Her voice calm but firm.

“Mom, we are a family of love, and you are being too harsh on Jackie-boy right now, and it hurts his feelings mom, it is just a jacket mom, just a jacket. …and jackets don’t matter mom, love matters and I just gotta tell you that.”

And I turned around and looked at Jack, his eyes watering, having just been rescued and righted by someone so small yet so wise, and said,

“You are right Luce. You are right. I am sorry Jackie-boy.”  *big sigh* “Oh dear.” and that was all there was to say.

And I felt like a total jerk and so proud at the same time…because on some level there was space with these dear souls for rants, love and truth telling.

We bought a new jacket and I held it as he slid his arms in.

“Maybe you guys are so good, all that is left to complain about is stupid jackets.” I said while I hugged him so tight. He hugged back even tighter.

And two days later, he opened the car door at the car pool line and said, “Oh mom, I know it is some where…” his brow furrowed and eyes wide. I sighed and half smiled, because there is this sort of surrender and calm that comes after the freak out has finally been released.

and because…

We are a family of love, and lost jackets.

this week…

December 26, 2011

well, last week, but you know…

feel the light…

December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas to you all…hoping a kind light finds you and those you love this night.

I am so very grateful for your care, joy and love for me and my family this year, your kindness changes everything…may it be returned ten fold.





this week…

December 17, 2011

well, last week, but you know…

“No matter what the world, cruel world does to you, never lose your faith. If you don’t know what you believe for your self you’ll be what every one wants you to be. God bless you. “-JS

given to me by a very, very kind drunk boy (stranger kindness) in a bar years ago…

we are connected…

December 16, 2011

“I thought when you girls grew up you would just have happily ever after sort of lives…” my mom said on the phone one day. “I didn’t think you would have struggles, I just never thought about it I guess. Nobody tells you that…” she went on…

And then it occurred to me, I felt the same way. I never imagine my children will grow up to face hard things. It sounds almost silly to say it out loud because of course they will…but somewhere, somehow, maybe I thought I was carrying it so they wouldn’t have to. That if I tried so hard…to figure it out, to lay a path of love that they could just walk it with no harm to any part of their minds and hearts.

The ridiculous thoughts of mothers…even mothers that know there is great beauty and love in hardship, that finding our way through pain helps us really see the world and know we are alive, that kindness can find us anywhere, that each step, even the screwed up ones take us to a new place of understanding, that our joys are as great as our sorrows, that this is the human condition, that this is where we find and hold the light.

Then a few days later while putting up Christmas lights, Christmas magic descended on this mother…Lucy gave me a new perspective, something else to hold on to.

She will often randomly wish me a “Merry Christmas MOM!”, while brushing her teeth, or eating an apple or right before she shuts the car door to go to school…I wonder why we all don’t do this, like everyday of December is Christmas.

While we were stringing lights, just she and I in the dark one night, her Merry Christmas struck again.

“Merry Christmas Mom! The lights, the tree, the snow, the hot chocolate, the sledding, the love…Merry Christmas for ALL of it mom!” she proclaimed.

“Oh Luce…what a girl you are.” I replied.

“We are so connected mom.” she said very matter-of-factly while she fed me the strand of lights and I wrapped the tree.

I thought she meant the lights, my literal-teacher mind kicked in, but I threw in the deep, you know, just because that’s where I live in my head.

“We are, aren’t we? In so many ways.” I answered.

“We ARE mom, we are so connected, even in trouble, even when I have trouble! We are connected right?” she said.

“It’s true. Especially then.” I said.

And it was clear, there is no protection from life, even she knows that…but there is a love that can buoy us…and there is a shout of a Merry Christmas in the most mundane moments…

there is a place…

there is a way…

that we are all connected.

the message tree…

December 10, 2011

“Do you think you can keep on going, I mean you made Thanksgiving dreams come true?” I asked him. We cooked the entire meal together, were up on butterball.com on various phones trying to figure out exactly what you do to the outside of the turkey, we high fived when everything was suprisingly and ridiculously perfect with the meal and family togetherness.

“Let’s go for it! Push the family magic odds…we are on a roll and everything…”

You know, there is always this sort of holiday valley after those peak Everest magical moments…or rather a holly jolly nose dive into everything real. This was the Christmas tree excursion:

1.  One of us, who shall remain nameless, was not exactly excited about the whole chopping-down-your-own-tree thing in the first place….but he/she went along with it.

2.The battery was dead when we got into the car to leave. Yet we weren’t thwarted, onward!

3. It was almost 3pm, the farm was an hour away, children still hadn’t even had lunch…yes, bad idea and parenting all around. So we stopped to grab food and crossed our fingers we could still make it before it got dark.

4. Kids were delirious upon arrival, the trees were sweet- although Charlie Brown-ish in nature, but still, this was just fine with us.

5. Jack and Josiah played tag until Jack’s shoe flew off and he stepped on a sharp twig or old tree stump- crying ensued.

6. Lucy begged/pleaded/whined for a tree nobody wanted.

7. We finally found one everyone liked except Josiah. Josiah also reminded us how often he has to suck it up- which is totally true so we decided he should get to pick the tree.

8. He picked a lovely, lovely tree…except when Jorge (the nameless) went to chop it down, he found a giant pile of dog poop.

9. Everybody laughed…because poop is funny.

10. We missed the memo that a kind tree farm friend would help carry the tree back, so Jorge carried it (along with 3 helpers that made it much harder) all the way back.

11. Got the tree measured and went to pay- tried not to faint when she told me the price- didn’t realize the fir trees were twice the cost of the rest of the trees. I smiled and gulped and told myself it was small business Saturday. Jorge whispered, “Merry Christmas!!” in my ear.

12. Kids got cider but there wasn’t enough and it burned Jack’s tongue. Everyone was now hungry for dinner even though we had just had lunch and on we went. Jorge said he would buy dinner to cheer me up.

13. I sighed/groaned like Marge Simpson and somehow soaked in the beauty of the pink sky on the way home…and managed to capture it from the moving family grouch mobile.

When we got home, I climbed in bed, ignored children, watched Hulu and slept. When I woke up very early, I found the tree in the corner with lots of tiny papers all rolled up and stuck in the netting. I opened each one and found little bits of art.

It was Lucy art- little post-its of sweet Christmas scenes, apparently her Christmas and tree experience was very much intact, still magical mountain stuff or maybe she had just moved on to the next moment. So I drew some pictures and messages and stuck them in the make shift tree mail box. We passed them back and forth for the next few days.

Part of me wished we could just leave it all that way and never open the tree up…but we did…and it was magical and messy and magical.

this week…

November 30, 2011

well, last week, but you know…

I am so looking forward to RVA Remembers tomorrow…hope to see you there.