Another trip around the sun. Another 365 days written in my little book of life. Per usual, I spent the last week before my birthday deep in my thoughts, thinking back over the past year and all it held. Overall a good one. Much to be thankful for. I find that I continue to know myself better, continue to have a better idea of who I am - strengths, flaws and everything in between. Much has changed in the last ten years. Everything, really, except for being M's mom. My 30's were a roller coaster of emotional events, many firsts, lots of upheaval and change, more job changes than I care to admit, plenty of laughter, a few moments I wasn't sure I would ever experience on my own, and maybe most important of all...the realization that we are all truly here to support one another and it is in our most difficult, deepest, darkest hours where we find those who will carry us when we don't have the strength to stand on our own.
I don't want another decade like my 30's. I pray for less uncertainty and more stability. Yes, I made it through and most of what happened during those years was in response to choices I made, so very little of it just happened to me...but, still, I am hopeful that I have learned some tough lessens and am in a better place emotionally and financially to hopefully keep from repeating some of them. That said, I still want to really live. To explore and seek adventure, to make ridiculous memories with the people I love most, to chase after as many sunsets as possible and look for the good along the way.
I'm now "in my 40's", not just 40. For a while I thought that might bother me more than turning 40 did, but I woke up on my birthday feeling really good about it. I think there's something reaffirming about turning the page on a "big" year and opening the door to the next chapter. For me, at least, I feel less pressure to make this year monumental. I tend to feel like I have to make every moment count, and often set expectations well beyond healthy levels placing unnecessary pressure on myself to make things like milestone birthdays bigger than they need to be. My 40's will be full of change in many other ways...my girl is growing up at a rapid pace and with that comes the realization that my biggest role is quickly changing and I'm not sure how I feel about it. She is about to start high school and since I still feel like it was just yesterday that I was doing the same thing, I struggle with how to help her navigate the things she is facing with the wisdom of time and grace of experience. I find myself looking back on my life in blocks of time with the focus on 20-year increments as of late for some reason. Maybe it's because if I think about how quickly the past 20 years have gone it scares the hell out of me to think of how fast the next 20 are gonna come. I find myself unsure of how to give her good advice sometimes because I'm not sure if I've really got any to give mostly because so often I feel like I'm still somewhere around 18-20 with my life spread out in front of me and no idea where I'm going or how on earth I'm going to get there. Yet, somehow, I'm twice that age and still trying to figure out how to "adult" most of the time. Time truly does keep flying by, and for the most part age is just a number, but the life that surrounds that number is what matters.
I won't lie. I still struggle with my place in this world. My identity isn't always clear and I still fight the same stupid insecurities...being enough in all its facets taking center stage as always. I'm not sure I will ever outgrow that. What I do know is that without all the experiences of the past, I wouldn’t have anything to write about. It’s up to us to live the life placed before us. We don’t get to choose the cards we are dealt, but it’s up to us to play the hell out of the hand we are holding. So...here’s to 41. May I have the wisdom to be the mom M needs, the spirit to seek new adventures without fear, the grace to see others for who they are without expectation and the ability to find more joy than anxiety in whatever comes my way.
Today as I sat at lunch in a restaurant alone, I didn't pull my phone out as I almost always do - mostly to feel less alone, to find comfort, to look at something so I don't feel like I'm just sitting there watching others. Instead I just watched and listened. Next to me two teenage girls talked nervously about learning to drive ("I practiced in the church parking lot and then drove home. I'm not sure I will ever get used to it."
"You will. I used to be nervous. Now it just comes automatically.") And then their conversation shifted briefly to college and where they might want to visit - one clearly wants to stay close while the other wants to go as far away as possible. They then joked about watching "The Princess and the Frog". I listened as they cautiously tip-toed around the topic, feeling the other out, finally admitting to loving it once it seemed safe to do so. One shared that her mom cried during it (as had she), and then said she gets embarrassed at the movies with her mom because she is the person in the theater who claps when something funny or good happens (I guiltily smiled to myself because I, too, am that person - likely also embarrassing my teen). As I wrapped up my lunch they were focused on the merits of Apple music versus Spotify which turned into the need to have a credit card to use Spotify Premium and how one had gotten her first card and her mom wants her to start carrying more than her lanyard to keep her money safe (I'm fairly certain they were rolling their eyes at this point).
I listened to them and thought about time...it wasn't all that long ago that I drove for the first time, and sat with my friends talking about college and the future...of course, we could never have imagined the ways music would change, but we sure did love a good mixed tape! And I thought of my girl with four years sitting in front of her that are about to shape her future and catapult her into the life she was created for. She will do each of these things...sooner than I want to admit...she will drive...she will dream of the life ahead of her...she will say and do things I will be proud of, and some I will wish she had said or done differently...she will make choices I will never know about and she will deal with demons and situations she may never share with me. So, while I may be the mom who claps when something funny or good happens in a movie it's because at the end of the day I am #foreveracheerleader and that kind of enthusiasm is hard to contain.
Lastly, as I sat and listened to those girls, I thought about my very own #sensationalsix and how, by the grace of God, we somehow managed to take the moments we shared as kids and turn them into something of substance and unshakable strength. I don't know how we got so lucky...I honestly don't. But, every time I see girls hanging out like I did today, I want so much to give them what we have. To show them that they will come out on the other side of all this teenage crap, and the people they should hold on tight to aren't the boys they THINK matter so much, but the girls who are walking with them through the moments that seem so huge and hard and beautiful and heartbreaking right now because, if they are really lucky, they will still be the ones walking beside them during the really big and really hard moments that make up...this life.
I'm still here. I know. I know. It's been almost six months since my fingers spoke for me and, honestly, I don't know why. Laziness mostly I suppose, but I'm still here.
I realized recently that I'm trying to live in the moment rather than live it through my phone screen. I'm not taking as many pictures because I don't want to be so busy capturing the moments to truly enjoy them. My birthday is only a few weeks away. This time last year I was busy trying to figure out what I wanted this next decade to look like. Now...now I think I've settled into it as well as I'm going to. There have been some obvious changes - metabolism is nothing to take for granted, friends - but, that, too, is something I'm slowly adjusting to. But, mostly, I'm trying to just live as much as I can, as well as I can.
The three photos above are from the 4th...they are my takeaways from a fairly great day. They capture the day exactly as I saw it...exactly as I felt it. I want more moments that keep me from reaching for my phone, and instead, more moments that make me reach for the people I'm sharing them with. More moments that continue to make up...this life.
Time.. Sometimes she's beautiful and delicate. Patient and kind. Like a flower, waiting until just the right moment to open. And other times she's a cold, ruthless bitch thinking of nothing other than her motive, her time frame, letting nothing stand in her way.
I've thought a lot about time. I've written a bit about time. I suppose it's in my nature to look backwards rather than forwards. Perhaps that explains my inability to set and work towards goals. I look back and remember...typically without the weight of woulda, shoulda, coulda's but with the all too often heaviness of simply wishing for a bit more time in whatever memory I had conjured up.
Time. Slow when we want it to fly by. All too quick when all we want it to do is freeze. Never enough yet always too much. Life's greatest gift yet the thief in the night we all dread. Nothing escapes her wrath. Not the moments we can't wait to experience and certainly the moments we wish would never come. It is the rarely gentle reminder that we are mortals....that age is more than a number...that it doesn't matter if we're ready or not, when it's our time...it's our time.
Over the past couple weeks I've seen the reality of that. Youth stolen in an instant. A man who answered God's call yet given only a few years to do His work. A girl with her whole life ahead of her taken way too soon. Yes, when it's your time...well, nothing can stop the call home. But, are we ever really ready? I've thought a lot about that very question in the past few days. The thoughts we have, the things we THINK are important, the things we give too much time and energy to, the people we surround ourselves with, the thoughts we allow to give us grief and worry...I am fairly certain those things would not matter in the least when our own final moments are on the table. This girl...19 years old with the same name as my daughter...I have caught myself wondering how her last day looked...what her thoughts were as she lived her last few hours, and then her final moments...and I can't help but think about what I've done throughout my days as of late and almost hate knowing that if this were my last few hours, my final chance to make an impression...well, what would it be? Narcissistic? Maybe a little. But, how can we face death - and, let's be real, most often we face death by mourning the life of another - without a bit of narcissism? What would my final impression on this earth be? What would be left of me? I worry most about M...how it would affect her (and, honestly, I can't even go there because if I do it comes close to breaking me.)
What I know is this: life is short. Yes, I've said that a kajillion times and I will say it over and over again. We get one shot...one chance at this. That's not much, but it's all we get. And, at 40, I've seen the past 10 years fly by at a rate I can hardly wrap my head around so I’m fairly certain the next 10 will be nothing more than a flash in the pan as I cross new bridges and create the next chapters. Don’t get me wrong. I’m thankful for the ability to feel, the chance to live these moments. I’m well aware that every day is a gift. Well. Aware. But...I’m a realist...so, I can’t help but be completely honest with myself about the truth that comes with the passage of time. People I love are getting older and facing health issues bigger than I want to fully face. Nevermind the accidents and tragedies that swoop in without any regard for the plans we carefully make in the moments when we feel invincible and like we have forever to do nothing but live.
I know. This one is dark. Yes, I have much to be thankful for. Yes, there are good days behind us and many more good days ahead of us than bad. Thank God. But, time ensures that we do not get to determine the number of either and just as soon as we get greedy with the good, we are reminded that time truly isn’t ours to manage. It is simple our responsibility...our privilege...to live what we’re given as fully as possible. Don’t rush the wait. Don’t curse the moments that pass too quickly. Just...be. Ultimately I’m going to try and look forward more than I look back. To see the potential of whatever comes next and to live now as completely as possible.
Time. While cruel and ruthless at times, is more often beautiful and inspiring than we tend to appreciate.
I was thinking about Christmas, and as I often do this time of year, Mary's role in all of what we are about to celebrate. Almost every year about this time I find myself thinking about her and all she must have been feeling and experiencing and fearing and wondering how I would have fared if God had somehow put me in her shoes. Not well, I'm sure. For the most part, what I typically think about is not so much who she is as this young girl about to have a child of her own, but of who she then becomes as the woman who gives birth to the son of God...and all my thoughts drift to all we glaze over in history - all SHE must have endured those 30-odd years as she watched this child she loved more than anything learn and grow and be ultimately responsible for the sins of man. And every single time I feel my heart break as I think of how painful it had to have been to watch that son she loved so very much be hung there on that cross, living out the will of the same God who gave her that sweet baby boy.
And this year, as I let my thoughts drift the other day I wrote one sentence - How did she feel? But, then, it hit me like a ton of bricks....this very girl I am raising turns 14 in less than two weeks - Four-teen...the very same age Mary was believed to have been that night in the stable...the very same age one very special girl gave up her life to raise the child who would save the world. And then all I could think about was how on earth would M feel? Not me at that age, not me now, but how would my CHILD feel in those moments - from the night the angel visited her with the news she had been chosen all the way up to that night when she not only had to give birth essentially outside without any real help or direction while under a great deal of pressure to deliver the most important baby ever to be born? Even now, as I type these words, I find myself shaking my head. I know things were different 2000 years ago. I know it was perfectly normal for girls (I am cringing even as I type that) to marry at this age and begin having children. I know she was already promised to Joseph. I know life expectancy was much lower than it is now. I know that in many ways these girls must have been much more mature than our girls are now. But...they - SHE - was still...just a girl.
So, again, I can't help but wonder about who she was...and I think more than anything, I wish I could know more about this child, this 14 year old girl, whose life's purpose was so very uniquely defined. And what would my girl do in her shoes? See, somehow this child I so vividly remember meeting in those early morning hours is becoming so much more than a child right before my eyes. Yes, there are things about these teenage years that are less than perfect...yes, I find myself shaking my head or begging God to help me understand her and give me the words she needs to hear in these sometimes awful, yet often life-shaping moments...but, more than that, I am more thankful than she can possibly understand for these years because I get to witness history being made - I get to watch her evolve and grow...beyond the heartaches, beyond the day to day junk, beyond the arguments and frustrations, beyond the moments when I wish I could stop time, beyond the moments she can't wait to share something with me and I am reminded, ever so briefly, of all those days when all she wanted was to be near me...yes, beyond all of that I am watching her create the WHO she is here to become...and as I think about all of that combined with the realization that one also very special girl some 2000 years ago was likely doing and feeling and thinking some of the very same things my girl does (because, let's face it, while times change, human nature remains the same) and having no idea how on earth she was going to do it.
We are all here for some reason, some purpose, some...why. Yes, Mary got a glaring neon light, but she also got a much greater responsibility. As many of you likely have done, I, too, continue to struggle with my purpose, my why. Especially in the moments when it seems I can't find any direction, or when M and I can't seem to find a way to each other and I feel as if I'm failing in the greatest role I will likely ever have - but, today I'm going to ignore my why and focus on the why's of two very special girls...both with potential beyond their wildest dreams, both with hopes and fears they likely can't express, both wanting just to be kids in some ways and to hurry up and grow up already in others...but, each shaped by their circumstances in many ways yet independent and seeking to create a life greater than themselves in others.
Mary...just a girl not much different than those many of us are raising right this very second. It's a startling reality, yet one that gives me hope. Maybe it's important to remember she was human, too. That grace was a gift for her as well.
Additionally: things I have thought, typed and deleted...
-How did HER mom feel?
-Can you imagine the conversations between the closest friends?
-Was Mary ever angry about this whole situation?
-Yes, I realize I've left Joseph out of this for the most part.
-Just think if this happened now...the Snaps and Instagram posts would be over the top.
-Did she wish more than anything that rather than three old (okay, Wise) men with gifts that no new mom could ever use, that her mom had shown up moments after with the things you really need in those beautiful, yet terrifying moments (those awful, ugly yet oh so helpful mesh panties being just one example)?
-Mary's identity was forever changed - it's hard enough in those early years to remember that you exist aside from being "M's mom", but she had a whole different type of identity crisis on her hands.
Who were you before the world told you who you were supposed to be? All those years ago, when you weren't even 18 and you had the whole world staring back at you...had your whole life ahead of you. Sitting in the high school parking lot, looking back at the building you had spent four years in dreaming of the next chapter yet having no clue as to what on earth you were going to do...not only in that moment, but most importantly, with the rest of your life. You held hands with your best friend and you tried hard to figure out where to go, what to do, how to take that oh so important first step towards...what? And now, all these years later...22 years later...do you feel any wiser? Do you have any better direction? Do you have any idea what you want to do, or where you are supposed to be...or, how on earth you got here...how THIS is your life? And while you have so much to be thankful for, your focus shifts to the disappointments, the sense of anxiety-inducing fear that you have given much of your life to things that you would have never in a million years wanted in that moment all those years ago in that parking lot when all you had ahead of you was time and choices and future. Now, while nowhere near old, you feel more lost than ever in many ways...mostly because you still have no idea and you are overwhelmed with the weight of the life that has settled around you and you ache with longing for the choices you no longer have to make...the near misses...the decisions you don't necessarily regret, but can't help but wish you had had better guidance for now that you are looking at them in the rear view mirror. The life you dreamed of doesn't exist. There is another one that sits in its place - so much more than you could have ever hoped for in some ways, and nowhere near what you imagined in others. Your life's purpose still eludes you. The one great thing you've done is growing up before your eyes and will be off on her own great adventure before you have time to blink. That fact alone causes the walls to close in as you wonder what on earth you will do with yourself in those four short years with no one left to need you. And then you remember that you told yourself you would focus on nothing but good this holiday season...and in some ways you feel overwhelmed at the ridiculous pressure you put on yourself simply by saying those words.
This life. It is a good one. But it is not epic. It is small and in so many ways I feel I continue to miss my mark. My dreams - what few I had - seem to fade rather than grow brighter with each passing day. I am unsure about my words...they don't come easily most days and that breaks my heart. I find myself struggling to find inspiration. Instead I feel stuck.
Who was I before the world defined me? The girl who wanted to be...who was going to be...so much more. I dreamed of journalism, of magazines and television...of telling the world’s stories and saying the things that mattered. Instead? Instead I’m left wondering how I got here. Twenty-two years have passed since that 17 year old girl sat in a maroon mini van in a gravel parking lot of her high school, hold the hand of her best friend while wondering with more excitement than anxiety “what comes next?” If she could see me now...I’m afraid of what she’d think. No, I’m not ashamed of my life. I regret little, but what I do regret was ultimately giving up what all I truly wanted out of fear...fear of losing a guy. Insert eye roll here. And that fear snowballed into insecurities, many of which I carry to this day. Mostly the fear of not being enough. Where in the hell does this come from? How did the girl who always thought she was somehow special end up always thinking she’s not enough? And then, how did that same girl consistently choose jobs that were safe, but nowhere near the dreams she once had...winding up, at 40, wondering how this was her life?
Where do I go from here? How do I encourage my daughter to chase her dreams, to be whatever she chooses, when she’s watched me do the complete opposite? How do I show her that we get one life to do everything we were put here to do...one life to do everything we want to do...one life to be whatever it is we want to be...when I haven’t even come close to doing any of it myself?
we waited anxiously for you.
paced the hall, peeked through the little window over and over again watching for signs that you were coming.
our hearts were heavy...hopeful, yet cautious...we knew too much this time...had experienced the worst, yet were praying for the best.
you were following in some very important footsteps, yet we wanted nothing more than for you to be different.
we cried when we heard..."we will run more tests, but everything appears to be okay".
we stood at the same window...watched in silence as they held you up...memories of before still etched in our minds.
breathless we walked into the room.
waiting impatiently to touch you, to hold you, to know for ourselves that you were truly okay.
i remember that moment so distinctly. i was holding back tears, tears of joy and tears of relief. i couldn't wait to meet you, to see your little face...and the moment i did, i loved you.
you are my sister's child, my only niece. carter's little sister. morgan's cousin.
in you i saw everything that had been missing, everything we all had hoped for with him, everything we didn't even know we needed.
four years ago today we were blessed with you. four years ago today we fell in love again. four years ago our lives were forever changed.
you were the best baby, and are the funniest, sweetest, most unique little girl! there was no way to know at that point how much you would change and heal us, but you did.
so, happy birthday, charlotte jane, may you someday know just how special you are; how very much you were wanted, how very much you are loved!
Like many of you, I'm struggling with the world around me. I think often of getting off social media and never turning on the news again. While I know there are people out there trying to do good, and even some who take the time to share that goodness with the rest of us, what seems to find its way into my feed and onto my tv screen is typically the polar opposite of good. And today, with the Me Too campaign, I hit my wall. Followed up quickly by the less than shocking story about the President when asked about LGBTQ people in a meeting, gestured toward the Vice President and said, "don't ask that guy - he wants to hang them all!" Yes, he was joking. Yes, there was absolute truth in his statement. The two men elected to lead our country find it perfectly okay to 1) talk candidly about hanging an entire portion of our population and 2) not realize the gravity with which their comments (and worse, their core belief systems) weigh down our already struggling social system. What on earth is wrong with these people?
Let me back up...I've seen the many posts shared by women I love and respect, women I don't really know, women I know carry stories worth way more than some hashtag...and like just about any woman out there, I could add my own hashtag too - show me a woman who hasn't had dirty words thrown her way...show me a woman who hasn't been touched inappropriately...show me a woman who doesn't fear for their daughter who is growing up in a world where there is so much confusion between tolerance and intolerance - but I don't want to add another hashtag. See...if you take the above story about 45 and 45.5, it's no wonder women feel violated in 2017. It's no wonder domestic violence shelters still exist. It's no wonder men think it's okay to treat women like property or even less than that. And, it's no wonder people are sick and tired of feeling ignored and are finally standing up for themselves.
This issue is so much bigger than color or race or sex or sexual preference. Do I fully get everyone's choices in life? Of course not. Do I fully understand all the ways we are different? Nope. Are there some things that make me uncomfortable? If I'm totally honest? Yes. Do I feel guilty for feeling these things? Yes. But, I also know it's okay to believe what I believe...to live my life the way I see fit...to instill certain beliefs in my daughter...to worship as I wish...to love who I want...to wear what I want...to drive and work and write and eat wherever, whenever, whatever I want - mostly because of the color of my skin and the part of the world I was born in. White privilege. Yes, I went there. It's real and it's the giant, pink elephant camped out in almost every conversation these days. But...I'm also a woman. A divorced mom who has lived alone for almost as long I was married - and here's the really dirty part of this story - most of the nasty comments and inappropriate touching happened in these past eight years, many times by married men who somehow thought I was fair game...sometimes even by men who I thought were my friends. But, the truth is, they didn't respect me...they saw me as something less...something they thought they could just take...and while I never once thought it was okay....I also knew it was "normal" - whatever that is. And now, in 2017, we seem to be taking steps backwards rather than forwards...and that is the most disappointing and frightening part about all of this to me. I know change takes time. I know people fear change. I know power is greater than change much of the time...so, back to where this post came from...
What I really thought of when I saw all those Me Too posts was that we don't need one more thing to remind us of the shitty darkness in the world. We don't need one more way to come together based upon yet another social injustice...just hear me out... What we need is to focus on the ways things ARE better...the ways this world we live in isn't completely falling apart. For example, without much thought, I realized I know of four women preachers - women who in the not so distant past, would never have been allowed in the pulpit. Women who lead congregations. Women who counsel and share their beliefs openly with people who trust them to lead them in their spiritual journey. Women who have looked at the glass ceiling over their shoulder and gave it the bird. Yes, it's harder to find the good...but we have to look for it. We have to remind ourselves of it. We have to share it and celebrate it and give it more power than the bad. We have to stop and listen to one another rather than blame and draw lines in the sand and choose sides. Sometimes, many times, there isn't a right or a wrong. There is only different. And different may be uncomfortable, but that doesn't make it wrong. We have spent so much time and energy focusing on the wrong things rather than really taking the opportunity to make a difference. What would it hurt to really talk about why NFL players are kneeling rather than pointing out all the reasons we are offended by it? What would it hurt to let people love who they love and simply celebrate the fact that they found someone to love? These are super sensitive subjects and I'm uncomfortable talking about them myself (mostly because I avoid conflict at all cost), but at this point I don't see what good we're accomplishing by NOT having these conversations. For the love of God, stop being so offended...stop taking everything so personal (Hint: it's not all about you)...and start getting personal with the people around you...start saying the things that matter...start showing compassion and empathy and grace...and start listening more with the intent to really hear the other person.
How do we find our tribe - a word that has become popular in recent years, and one I'm hesitant to use yet find frustratingly fitting in this circumstance - our people, our circle, our...friends? It's no secret my friends are like family to me. These women I CHOOSE to do life with. The sensational six - yes, I literally just came up with that on the fly, but I think I maybe love it a little so we're gonna go with it (for this post anyway) and see if it sticks - myself and five girls (I typed ladies but even at 40 I struggle to say we are anything other than girls) I have known...MY ENTIRE LIFE. Yes, there are more friends in my life...and many I am so thankful to be walking through life with...but at this point, and for the past several years consistently now, these are the people who have done. life. with. me. The good. The bad. The mundane. We wade through the deep and we celebrate the victories - together. Period.
Here's the thing. What we do is intentional. It's a lot of time spent emailing and texting about when and where and how we will make time for brunch or happy hour because each one of us has stuff going on and while we may get frustrated when a month goes by and we haven't been able to find time to meet up, we still stick it out and make finding time a priority. And on the rare occasion that all six of us can make it, we celebrate a little extra because most of the time it's only four or five of us and since that's better than nothing we totally take it and cherish the handful of hours we're given.
Four of us got together last Sunday for brunch and spent the better part of three hours eating and drinking and laughing mostly. We cram as much as we can into whatever time we get, trying to shove the important stories into the conversation while really only covering the highlights. We now understand the value of being "in the middle" - someone is always in the middle...the person who needs the rest of us the most at that moment. The idea that when one of us is hurting, or struggling, the rest of us surround her and give her the time and support needed to work through whatever it is that's messy and painful. We've each been there for one reason or another, and while none of us likes being there, we now know it's with that support that we get through the shit storms life throws at us. This past Sunday was no different. We ate, we drank (God love Trey and his ability to keep our glasses of champagne and vodka coming), we laughed and, ultimately, we shed a few tears. See, even in this sacred circle comes the inability to fully hide shame and guilt. We each fight our own set of demons, and while we try so hard to keep them at bay, they are powerful and come at us with heavy fists in our moments of weakness. Oddly, these are the things we are each most reluctant to share. Again...shame, guilt...they know no boundaries even amongst the closest of friends. So, it sometimes take months, or years even, to fully disclose some of life's most painful sorrows - even though we try desperately to reassure each other that we are safe there, past judgments (perhaps cast most greatly upon ourselves) hinder us from fully opening up due to the walls of protection we build and the lack of trust we now carry after years of disappointment and let down. So we find ourselves hesitant to openly share some of our greatest pains in the moments we feel most raw, waiting, instead, to give the cliffs notes version somewhere down the road when the wounds aren't quite so fresh and we are better prepared to handle the advice we may not be ready to hear when in the thick of the situation.
Anyway, as we were leaving we joked about this parking garage we parked in - it has a rather prominent statue at its entrance that we use to describe said garage - and I found myself thinking about how we found not only the garage, but way more important, each other...and then found myself praying M would look back at 40, surrounded by girls she knows won't leave her no matter how tough it gets, and know she has one of life's greatest gifts. Yes, life took all of us in various directions for many years. Hell, the sixth one of us just moved home making me finally feel complete. For many years we weren't really in touch, but somehow, before life really kicked each of us square in the ass, we found our way "home". And because I refuse to think of "home" as a physical place, but rather a feeling of reassurance and comfort - it's something I find when I'm with these girls - I can't help but associate them with that. I believe God gives us the people we need when we need them...to be His arms, His hands, His voice...and He has clearly known I needed these girls the past eight years. So maybe that's the answer to the how...maybe it's Him. How else can I explain how each of us ended up back here at the same time? Although, if I let myself really dwell on that, I get worked up thinking about what might be coming next but I know I can't live like that. Maybe it's time we get to really celebrate. Maybe that's it. Maybe this time it isn't about who is in the middle for protection and safety, but to be celebrated. It's worth a shot anyway.
So maybe it doesn't matter how we find each other. Maybe that isn't the important part. Maybe the why isn't all that important either. Maybe all that matters is the fact we DO find each other in time to be there for the moments that count. Maybe that's all that really matters. If so, then we sure got lucky. Now if we could only get over the shame and guilt so we can stop feeling alone in the really awful moments, but that may be asking a bit much.
Find your "garage"...your tribe...the ones who hold your secrets and push you when you think you don't have anything left...the ones who hold you accountable but do so gently when needed...the ones who know how to make you laugh til you cry...and the ones who know when to just hold your hand and let you feel whatever it is you need to feel without judgment or reserve. Those are your people. Find them. Cherish them.
I've got five hours left in my 30's. In five hours I will turn 40. Forty. I have spent the past year saying it doesn't bother me, that it's just a number, that I'm ready...and I'm fairly certain I believed every bit of that. Until the past few days. As the days leading up to the 25th have ticked by, I find myself more and more overwhelmed with the realization the youth of my life has passed...and then, thinking through what I've done up to this point, but particularly over the past decade...and, finally about everything I haven't done. And last night I laid awake thinking through those things once more and felt my chest tighten and the hot sting of tears as the beginning of a panic attach set in.
It's a number, I know that. One I am thankful to hit. Yet, as I look around and take stock of everything, I know there are phases of my life that are definitively over. I fear I have wasted precious time, taken advantage of years I can never get back, spent too much time overthinking the unimportant while not giving nearly enough thought to what truly
matters. My Pop-Pop lived to be 80 - the youngest age of any of my grandparents - and when he turned 80, he said that if a man lives to be that age then they have lived a good, long life. Given how very quickly these past 20 (I say 20 because the first 20 didn't seem to go by nearly as fast) years have flown by, I'm certain I will wake up one morning thinking of this moment and wondering how on earth 40 more years disappeared.
I know, life is what happens when we are busy trying to live. It's the little moments, the everyday things, that build upon one another creating the years that ultimately become one's story. It's the people and the memories that shape the hours that turn into days. It's up to us to live the ones we're given fully and without regret.
So, back to the end of my 30's...I mean, what is there to say? If you've read this for long you've been along for the ride. Sure there are many details I've left out, and others I've only glanced over. These past ten years have held the most difficult and painful moments of my life...I have come face-to-face with my demons and haven't always won...and I have lived, truly and honestly lived. I've seen parts of the world I had only dreamed about, and searched desperately for myself within the four walls of my little home. I have buried two souls who impacted my life and shaped me in ways I still struggle to define. I've learned the importance of a moment and the harsh reality of time. I've laughed, God have I laughed. I got drunk for the very first time (yes...the very first time), but definitely not the last. I got a tattoo at a time when I was old enough to know exactly what I was doing and love it still to this day. I mourned a dear friend and rediscovered the value of real, true, life-long friendships...you know, those you really "do" life with...and made finding time for people my top priority. I fell. Hard. But I landed, and in that landing found my independence. I danced it out and I cried it out and I learned that both have equal value in certain moments. I am navigating life with a teenage daughter who is better than anything I deserve. I have loved and I've been loved and right now find myself thankful for every step in that process. It has been through both that I have learned humility and just how much I need to work on communication. I want to do so much more, to BE so much more. Yet...I've sat by and done nothing about either. So here's to the next 40. My body may age and my mind may get fuzzy, but I pray that God continues putting me where He wants me and gives me the willingness to see what He has in store for me.
Gran loved a sunrise. For me it's the sunsets. To see the day end...to watch all of the chaos and disarray finally come to rest...and to do so beautifully. I've always loved that no matter how cloudy or stormy the day has been, there is always a sunset...and, it's often on those stormy days that we see the most breathtaking ones. I'm certain there's something to that. Tonight, as I wrap up this chapter, I wanted nothing more than to just sit and watch the sun go down. It wasn't spectacular, but it was still something to be seen. A quiet ending for these final hours before the page turns on another year, another decade...and I'm okay with today ending like this. I think it's fitting after the past several years...and I'm hopeful for what comes next. #BringItForty