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…