Thursday, December 5, 2013

Things my mother and Maria taught me about life

My mother and I spent a lot of time together when I was young. I was home schooled for a few precious years and so we did life together in a very real way. She is to be blamed for my fashion sense that consisted of overalls, cowboy wrangler pants and cardigan sweaters that lasted from fourth to sixth grade (or maybe longer) and for instilling in me some very important truths...

1. If you do not have weights available for your workout videos, use soup cans.
2. Reading is a precious, wonderful time. Read, read, read.
3. Remember people's birthdays, anniversaries, send notes when there is a death in the family. Be kind.
4. Ask people questions. People like to talk about themselves so ask, ask, ask.
5. You are only as pretty as your motives.
6. Going to plays, ballets and concerts will change you a little each time.
7. You do not have to like everyone but you do have to be polite.
8. The house CAN be cleaned in an hour if unexpected company announces they will arrive soon. YOU JUST HAVE TO DO IT FAST AND FURIOUS - no Cinderella singing or Snow White dancing during this time.
9. Be sensitive to people and set your boundaries too. It's okay to know when to step back from friendships that aren't healthy and in our divorced society-- it's very wise to choose your actions and words carefully lest you hurt a new family member (step-parents, etc) or tear at an old one.
10. A good classic movie is a friend... pull it out during holidays and sick days (and our classic movies were usually Gone with the Wind, The Man from Snowy River or The Sound of Music) .

And while all of my mama's little life lessons were important and are cherished now that I am an adult-- the good movie one is an easy one to turn to during bleak winter days, especially since The Sound of Music is going to be on TV tonight. I am nerdy excited about this little rendition NBC is putting on.... if you need me, I won't be available for a few hours tonight. Sorry.... Carrie Underwood and I have a date.


When the Sound of Music play was performed by local darlings, I dragged Avery with me. We sang "Raindrops on Roses" in my car for days afterward and she even told me that she thought Maria and I would be good stepmom friends since we were so "fun" (this is before I started nagging her all the time about brushing her teeth and wearing her seat belt... she may have changed her mind).

Since I have become a step parent, Maria has become more like a beacon of hope to me. She is braving the Nazi's for crying out loud but she is also doing something I wish I could do more of.... she is "rolling" with things and she is SINGING about life a lot but she's also not afraid to stand up and say what she needs to say.

I wish I could sit down with Maria for a cup of tea in the Swiss Alps somewhere and talk about how she is REALLY doing with all those kids. I would like to know how she dealt with the memory of the children's mother who passed away and if she shirks away from pictures of the happy family before she arrived.

Probably not.... I mean Maria was a nun for awhile. She probably isn't that silly right? She couldn't possibly struggle with the second wife things I struggle with could she? Did she resist the idea of having a baby because husband had already been there and done that? Did she feel like a puzzle piece from the wrong puzzle at family gatherings when people would bring up mom or pull out baby pictures? Did she feel like she didn't have a clue what to do in these situations?

It's hard to say. Because all we get is the movie... the singing. The encouragement to "climb every mountain." I guess I'll never know. But I have my mama's wisdom to fall back on and the knowledge that I am beloved by my husband no matter what fears, vulnerabilities or insensitive actions by others may befall us.

Anyway-- all I really wanted to express is my love for my mother and her love for the Sound of Music and you can take this as a little public service announcement from the step-mom community during the holidays.... be careful with us... we're fragile even if we don't let on all the time. We are building a new version of a family and it's hard when holiday traditions have been passed down from a time when we weren't around. Not only are we loving on a family that was pre-created but we're also working on our sweet marriages.

We want our littles to have good memories of their families before we came along but you have to remember that those memories are hurtful to us even if we don't say anything. We're the new kid. We're kind of shiny and clueless and scared out of our minds sometimes. We don't know our place yet. All we know is that we are in love with the world's best man and we love his kids. And our heart hurts for the family that once was-- for them and for us too a little.

So anyway, if you're watching the romance of the Sound of Music unfold tonight... send a little wish out into the world for the stepmamas in your life. We're all fine, you know... but we need a little extra love and light during this season... as do you and yours.

Loves to you.
xox

 





Wednesday, November 13, 2013

twentyfive



I read three books at once because I like to know new stories.
The real stories are the ones that haunt me when I am trying to decide the worth of a moment.

I am too young to be someone's step mother but old enough to want my own.
I believe in grace but sometimes people tell me it's not the same as believing in the Bible.

I have faith in red lipstick and writing on the back of napkins in coffee shops.
I dream about the ocean and being pulled in sometimes, like a mermaid.

Everything I do reminds me of the way my grandma sang about bluebirds and had toast with cottage cheese for breakfast. Wine is the answer to the problem but I think it's best with cheese and bread on a sandy shore in Spain.

I make up my mind about people too quickly but try to unmake it when I feel I am not giving them enough grace.I hold onto those hurts far too long but want to change the world from my front door.

It's better to write things with inky pens and send letters through the mail. I do not like the word goodbye but I always wonder what it will feel like to say it for the last time.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Hope like an ocean and tied to the moon

For women who are tied to the moon, love alone is not enough. We insist each day wrap it’s knuckles through our heart strings and pull. The lows. The joy. The poetry. We dance at the edge of a cliff, you have fallen off. So it goes. You will climb up again.
You rare girl, once again, you have a body that belongs to no lover, to no father, belongs to no one but you. Wear your sorrow like the lines on your palm. Like a shawl to keep you warm at night. Don’t mourn the love that is lost to you now. It is a book of poems whose meters worked their way into your pulse. Even if it has slipped from your hands, it will stay in your body.
You loved a man who treated you like absinthe, half poison and half god. He tried to sweeten you, to water you down. So you left. And now you have your heart all to yourself again. A heart like a stone cottage. Heart like a lover’s diary. Hope like an ocean.
- Anais Nin (emphasis mine)
 
The last time I was in Ireland, I came with a bit of a heavy heart. The end of my time in Spain was looming before me and I left my town a little grudgingly. I wanted to soak up every single moment I had with that place and those people. This is a bit insane to me now, that I wasn't completely overjoyed with the thought of Ireland, (because I was so excited when I booked the plane ticket to go there, booking plane tickets to ANYWHERE gets my adrenaline going...) but the heart has its own ways doesn't it?
 
But then I arrived in Ireland and I had a mad time. People in Ireland were so lovely that I almost forgot my certain heartbreak over Spain. I realized there was a whole world out there for me to fall in love with eventually and we had the best weekend EVER. My friends and I tossed the cliche "Epic" around every chance we could-- because it really was the perfect weekend.
 
We gallivanted around Dublin and met adorable British men and little old Irish lads with cute caps on their white hair. There was Guinness and stories of a long ago rebellion, an insane night in a hostel and too many great pictures to put on Facebook. It was PERFECT.
 
Except that one guy who was coming to visit my ungrateful self. I was finished with the relationship by that point but I remember sending him a quick email from my hostel to keep up appearances. One of the keys on the keyboard was stuck so my entire email was devoid of the letter L. Which I thought was lucky-- I couldn't write "I love you" and it wasn't even my fault.
 
I am amazed at the little things the mind remembers so many years later. The stuck L, the way we were so cold after walking the December streets so we stopped in and bought an expensive coffee and we talked in that little cafe for hours before we set off for Temple bar. I remember the way our boots clacked on the streets and an old bookstore beckoned us in for a short while.
 
We went to a wax museum for some reason or another and I don't think we had ever laughed so hard in our lives.
 
We were free and naive and drunk (on Guinness) and adventure.
 
And now I am here again.
 
But for work. Instead of hostel, I am staying in the Dunboyne Castle Hotel. There are sheets and towels and everything. (But I will get my hostel fix this weekend!)
 
I am older. I am married. I have two bonus kids. One of my best friends just had a baby and I was so sad I couldn't be there for her. 
 
We are growing up, I suppose.
 
But there is always the weekend and with it comes Galway and a pretty friend from my DC days. My excitement is barely contained when my co-workers ask me what I will do with my two free days. I am giddy about the Cliffs of Moher. I am ecstatic over the Irish language.
 
It will be a new sort of epic because I am a new sort of person these days.
I've got hope like an ocean and a husband who never tries to "water me down" -- Anais Nin, you are one lovely writer. I wish I had written these words: "We insist each day wrap it’s knuckles through our heart strings and pull. The lows. The joy. The poetry."
 
I am jealous she got to those words first. Because they are perfect. Almost as perfect as Europe is to my soul.
 
xo
 
 
 
 


Thursday, October 17, 2013

October Obsession



I am a May baby and so I always thought I was best suited for spring.

The way the world turns green and there is hope and lilacs.

But my heart longs for Octobers and scarves.

It demands cozy sweaters and boots.

I'd want an October baby if I have a choice... because there is something magical about this month.
The way we turn toward each other and drink hot chocolate.

Suddenly orange is our favorite color and we babble deliriously about the trees and the way the leaves crunch against our feet.

We live by the sunshine and cuddle by the rain.

It's as short as the sunshine's breath but it stays within our souls asking us to slow down and take it all in before it turns on us.













Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Smart Girls!

I have had a few moments in my short life when I felt like I "made" it -- kind of.

One time a high school senior asked me to be her senior project mentor and I got all weepy and said, "OF COURSE, of course!!" and I felt very old and wise and tried to impart wisdom on her-- for like a day-- because being her mentor really just meant signing some paper (I don't think she was a very good student now that I think about it).

And then my friend Dani asked me to speak at this awesome Smart Girls Conference hosted by the Boys and Girls club. "Personal success," she told me. "We want you to dress up as Cinderella and talk about personal success for 45 minutes, twice to a group of 10- 18-year-old girls.

Obviously, I loved this and it made me feel very grown up and sort of freaked out. What does one say to the small ladies of Twin Falls about personal success????

I called upon one of my favorite people in the world, Kristy, and she helped me get my thoughts together. Princess rules for personal success was born and it was going to be so amazing.

Except I developed a pretty cold and almost didn't have a voice but people listened to me anyway and I hope that at least one of them took something away from the conference (I did not dress as Cindy... for the record. Cinderella doesn't get colds...I brought her dress though and those littles LOVED it.)



The idea of this conference is beautiful. We gathered girls and their moms, step-moms, aunts, grandmas and guardians in one spot and then we spoke love over them. We told them they were beautiful. We told them they were enough. We told them that girls were amazing creatures. I may or may not have sprinkled glitter over people with a wish for success and happiness. Maybe.



Since you may have missed this spectacular event, I thought I'd share my princess rules for personal success... I truly do believe all girls have that sparkle of bravery, compassion and love inside of them. We just need to let them be themselves a little bit and give them an ample dose of encouragement along the way.

1. You are never too old or too young to be a princess.
2. The right shoe can change your life! (Dressing for success)
3. Sometimes you have to face the bullies
4. You need to do your chores before you go to the ball
5. Act like a princess to marry (or date) a prince
6. Stepmothers are not evil (I had to you guys, I had to and you know what? People wrote thank you notes to their step-moms later during the fairy godmother point...it made my heart so happy.)
7. Fairy Godmothers are everywhere -- find yours and thank them!
8. Don't lose your sparkle!

The best part of the whole day was spending quality time with my Avery. She was all over the place making sure I was okay, switching slides and telling people that step-moms rock.
It was glorious to hang out with her sweet self and watch her during the self-esteem talks. She is beautiful and perfect and I am so blessed to have her in my life.


Avery and Dani -- so glad she has good role models to look up to these days. 

We went home and made cookies together before our boys came home and life was lovely.
Here's a great article about my friend Dawn's talk on self-esteem. If you didn't make it this year--- make sure you get your littles to this conference in 2014.

xox







Thursday, October 10, 2013

October Musings


This month...
Anne of Green Gable's said it best,
"I am so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers."

Because October means:

Little girls in jean jackets...


And perfect fall weather for pumpkin picking...
 


It means I get to wear scarves everyday if I want....

 

And it makes us slow down a little bit and enjoy time with dear friends...



And by slow down, I really mean continue on with the crazy. We are busy and probably too busy but these little moments of happiness sustain me during the work week.

And as always, I am thankful for my husband and his insane support and encouragement.

I friggin love this man for being affectionate, smart, kind and loving. Also for picking the ugliest pumpkin in the patch...


Happy October times lovies.
Eat pumpkin pie, drink cider and love the sunshine because winter is wayyyyy too close for comfort.
xox

Friday, October 4, 2013

Home

I have found that traveling-- my first love-- betrays me often. It makes me feel giddy, excited and also desperately lonely at times.

This never used to happen. I loved the idea of traveling through time and space to get to unknown places but then again, my heart wasn't taken.

My heart didn't realize that people make places.

I had someone ask me that one time in Barcelona as we sat by the water... "Don't you want a house and a normal life? Don't people matter to you?"

And I had said no. I did not want a normal life. I did not want a normal life with him, mostly.

But the idea of home was foreign to me. My home had been torn apart by a divorce. In college I lived in a sorority and that doesn't quite lend itself to "home" and then I was in Spain and had decided that I was my home and for now that was fine.

I was happy being on my own strolling around Rome and often felt burdened by other's company.
This came from being a little too delusional at times and living in my imaginary world where I was the character in a book and I would soon stumble into an adventure worth writing about later.

And I found that adventure later on with a man with dimples and two precious babies in tow.
I found my home and it looks like dark hair, kind eyes and a killer smile.

That was the only way I knew how to describe Ryan to people when we were first dating.

"He's just-- he's like coming home."

We're three and a half years in and that statement is becoming more and more true with each work trip I take.

This week I came home to a bright bunch of daisy flowers on the counter, kids who couldn't stop talking and hugging me and a husband who represents all that is good and true in the world.

I've finally discovered that home is my very favorite place to be.