the power of seven…

November 24, 2012

her face when I asked her what her power feels like

~

“Mom, I don’t know how this happened but it did….” she said as she strapped her bag on like Angelina-Jolie in a super-power-kick-ass action flick.

Me: What happened?!!

Her: Well, you know how I used to not be so fast, couldn’t jump, got tired and stuff? Well, you know, that was when I was six, but I am seven now and I just feel fast and like a good hiker. I feel so much POWER, like I am a great artist and good at ballet…mom, I am hard core Parkour.

Me: Oh, Luce, that is so rad. It feels so good to know your power huh?

Her: Yeah, it totally does.

…and she ran away to hop rocks in her hot pink suede boots. I have no idea how she even knows about parkour. * …and she turned 7 months ago, so I don’t know why this was the day she called it out, but she did.

I know she felt the thrill of free running, just like those crazy, amazing men hopping across buildings in France. She saw herself just like that and every leap across the rocky terrain exposed her manifestation…her power was stacking.

She reached her first obstacle, the divide looked too big and she started to doubt because there is always a moment of doubt.

Her: Mom, I am afraid.

Me: I know…I feel like that too sometimes, but just because you are afraid doesn’t mean your power is gone. It just may take a minute for you to find it, but it’s still there.

Her:  (just a minute later) Okay, yeah. I think I got it.

…and she did.

…and I seriously started to wonder if you can wake up one day and decide for something to be true about yourself …and then it is.

…that someplace inside you there is a power that will give you the courage and strength to take on something that feels so outside your reach. There is no guarantee that you will be perfect at it or that it won’t be hard but that maybe you will have the power to live and be it. …and the chance of obstacles is so high, but maybe that just isn’t a good enough reason to not do it anymore. …because you are 7 now.

It feels so, so hardcore parkour. 

On our way hiking back, I was thinking out loud and said, “Hmmm, not sure which way to go.”

Her: Mom, take my hand, I know the way…even grown ups need someone to help them find their power some times.

She lead the way and I wondered what the power of 37 or 43 or 56 may be. …because today I found out my inner seven year old ain’t no joke, and has some power free running left to do.

If you feel like connecting in the comments today: What power of your age is waiting for you to call out? What one thing do you wish you could do or be? It’s never too late to find your power.

*I can only guess from 2 You Tube lovin’ older brothers, the same people I had to convince just yesterday that taking video of your baby sister (Lyra) accidentally saying “damn it” was NOT appropriate to upload to the internet. (or video for that matter) They thought it was hilarious, which felt sort of ironic to me. …and mildly funny.

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…

I am burnt. It was two weeks of Jorge being gone for work, a string of speaking, projects blowing up all around, and a hernia repair surgery for my man to top it all off at the end. In the middle of life, my girls have been kicking my ass…long, long days of whining, complaining, drama. I am patient, patient, patient and then I am just D.O.N.E. … an attempt to try to spend some time with them on Saturday night looking at the SuperMoon ended in an epic tantrum from Lyra and then all of us in bed crying.

And I know there is some parenting trick to pull us all out of this funk but for the life of me I have absolutely no energy to sort it out. It’s probably something about how much we all are all holding right now and honoring each other but I don’t even care about all that.

I just need them to get their shoes on and get in the car for Christ’s sake  AND to stop acting like jerks for 2 seconds so we can be in this crisis together…but then kids aren’t supposed to do that but maybe I was just hoping they would grease the wheels with understanding a tiny bit. I obviously have forgotten that kids are not adults, and shouldn’t be.  (but wouldn’t that be nice in a crisis every now and then?)

I finally crawled into my own bed like an hour later only to be woken up by a wailing Lyra two hours after that, so back I went, into the their bed. I had surrendered to their needs, finally, given up on any expectation I was holding.  It wasn’t like I could get my shit quite together but I could lay in it. Quietly.

And then, when she thought I was asleep, Lucy leaned over and kissed my forehead, rolled over and went to bed. It was a tiny bit of grace right in the middle of hard all around. It was tender and sweet…and this is who we all are. We are jerks that are kind and have needs and sometimes push each other to the edge…and we find grace in each other, in ourselves.


…and nothing is worked out, I am still burnt but there is a little something to hold onto, seeing it all mixed up together that will bring me a moment of goodness….and eventually we find our way to saying what we need, or forgiveness or frustration that fuels the way to find the path we need to travel, or life will allow it to just sort of pass on.

So today :

someone will complain they didn’t get to play with the red umbrella yet

someone else will have her first taste of honeysuckle

someone will be devastated we are having peas for dinner

someone else will ask me how I am and I’ll really tell them

someone will be pissed they have to take a bath

that same someone will kiss me on my forehead when we go to bed…

…and I will take it all in, but hold tight to the tiny bits of grace.
~

*feel free to tell me your tiny bits of grace in the comments

“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.

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.

The swear jar found its way to our shelf this week. It is not for my children, it’s for me. I love to swear, I really do. Never at my children or to them, mostly my friends and Jorge. Anytime there is a reason to exaggerate anything, to be funny, to be shocking, it just feels these are the only appropriate words for such situations. It isn’t something I hide from my children exactly, I know, it’s awful on so many levels.

I was talking to a friend on the phone this week about her life, her terrible boss, it was sympathy swearing. After I hung up, I saw Josiah sitting on the bench looking low. I asked him if he was okay, he nodded and off we went to pick up the girls from preschool. As we pulled away from the car pool line, he said,

“Mom, can we talk about something?” (his lower lip starting to quiver).

“Yeah, what is it?” I replied.

“Remember before?….” He burst into tears. “I don’t want to hurt your feelings, or make you feel bad, I really don’t, but it just bothers  me when you… when you swear.” 

It was obvious he had been holding it, for much longer than this moment. You could feel the courage it took to tell someone you love that something about them is, well, wrong and not good for you or them. And then I had a strange reaction, I was slightly annoyed, felt terrible and very proud, all at the same time.

“Yes, I hear you. Wow, that was very brave of you, to tell me that, I’m really proud. ” I said.

He nodded his head. “It took me all morning to gather up my courage.” he said,  his eyes full of tears. And I venture to guess it wasn’t because he thought I would be mad as much as he didn’t want to hurt me.

“I’m so glad you did. But I have a question? Does it bother you because it makes you uncomfortable or does it just feel wrong?” I inquired.

“The wrong one.” he said.

“Okay, yes, it is wrong. I never want to make you feel bad either. I will stop but I must tell you, it’s gonna be hard.”  I admitted.

“I know.” he said. And he does know.

“The thing is Josiah, when I was a kid and an adult, I tried so hard all the time to do everything right, and NEVER do anything wrong to feel okay and for people and grownups to like me, to love me even, and because I thought it made me a good person. But then I had to discover that maybe I was a good person even if I didn’t always do the “right” thing all the time. You know what? Swearing was my first try to not be so perfect, to make me feel human and I found out I could be loved and good. But I think I got that lesson down now and it just stuck, so maybe I don’t need to do it anymore. Thank you for helping me to realize it might be hurting people I love and I certainly don’t want that. I love you.”

“It’s okay mom. I understand.” he said with a half smile.

“I’m so proud of you, man that was big. We probably needed it, to tell each other how we feel because we’re headed to all this teenager stuff and were gonna need to do that a lot to help each other, huh?”

“Yeah, I think we can do it.” he said.

“Me too, me too.” and I sighed.

There is nothing like having your ass butt handed to you about the poor, ridiculous behavior that you kinda love. It’s so good/hard when your kid requires you to be a better person than you are ready/want to be at the moment. You discover that your sailor swearing self can somehow still be a good parent,  with the occasional quarter in the jar and all.