hang on, sweet mama (a gift on my birthday)

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Today is my birthday.

Happy dance with me.

I am squinting hard to see your moves.

Oh, you are looking good!

Last year was all about reaching the big 5-0.

It seems after the age of 25, birthday milestones are marked by

increments of 5.

After the ages that end in zeroes or fives, comes a settled resting place,

or at least it should.

So I am embracing the age of 51 because now I get to sink into my 50’s.

Often I don’t feel my age, except on the days when my joints

make noises when I walk.

I feel the way 51 should feel for me, that is the best explanation.

*****

For the last several years, we have taken a day trip to somewhere along the

Oregon coast during the last week or so of August.

To celebrate my birthday, to attempt to make summer last as long as possible

and because my people know my heart belongs to the ocean.

On Saturday, we gathered all the essential gear, grabbed a friend for Caleb

and headed south.

Of course it wasn’t an original destination and we waddled across the sand to

stake out our territory in as much solitude as possible.

The boys placed their chairs several feet in front of Carl and mine 🙂

They ran with shovels towards the wet sand to dig the biggest hole EVER.

Carl and I sat and breathed.

I surveyed the other sand dwellers and one family caught my eye.

A family of four settled to our left, weighted down by Trader Joe

bags, sand pails and two very excited little girls.

The couple attempted to lay a couple of blankets which proved

to be quite a task as the wind began to gain strength.

Once they had wrestled the blankets to the sand, the dad

jogged towards the shoreline to begin the first of many trips

filling buckets with water for castle building.

I on the other hand, strolled towards the shore, snapped

a few photos of the sand excavators and reminded them

to alert us before they ventured into the water.

They assured me they would give us ample warning

and Caleb proceeded to share a story explaining the reason

you never turn your back on the ocean.

Back at our chairs, Carl was sinking deeper into his chair

and I  happily joined him without hesitation.

I glanced over to the family again, the dad was entertaining

the little girls and the mom was sitting with a towel  over her

shoulders with her back to the ocean, reading a book.

Perhaps half an hour later, this was the scene:

 

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Oh sweet mama.

I feel your fatigue deep in my bones, in my soul.

I have known the need to turn my back on majesty in favor of rest.

Even now being in this mothering game for half of my life, I still have ever-present

exhaustion, but it’s not the same as when your children are very young.

I applaud your husband for giving you room to rest without requirement and his delight

in playing with his daughters.

Sweet mama, when you all gathered up your belongings to leave (at just the

right time, before a sand storm took residence), as you passed me, we gave

each other a gentle smile as fellow travelers do.

It was all the more powerful as you went on your way because I realized

you spoke in a foreign tongue which I didn’t recognize.

Mothering has no language barrier.

So if we could share a few moments from one mama a bit farther down the road,

this is what I would share, my gift to you, one I should have opened more often.

  • Hang on.
    Hang on to who you are in this season of high needs and demands.
    Hang on to the knowledge that today is not forever.
  • Say yes.
    Yes to naps.
    Yes to help.
    Yes to taking time for yourself even if it a few moments horizontal
    or reading a book because little moments amass but taking zero time for
    yourself always calculates to zero.
    Yes to good enough over perfection.
    Yes to lived-in messy over untouchable clean.
    Yes to doing a few things well and letting go of the other things.
  • Say no.
    No to being supermom or a martyr.
    No to finding your worth by attempting to do everything.
    No to obligation over calling.
    No to comparing yourself with other moms.
    No to comparing your children with other children,
    the scales will never balance because children are
    not mass-produced but should be greatly loved.
  • Remember
    Remember to keep life simple.
    Remember you are doing a wonderful job
    and are a great mom. You are, even when
    you lose your temper.
    Remember to say thank you to your husband.
    Remember if you are walking this road without a mate,
    ask and accept all that others want to offer.
    Remember that asking for help is not weakness,
    it’s wise.
    Remember how well you feed your children,
    feed yourself well too.
    Remember what brings you joy beyond your family
    and if necessary, for now, keep it tucked away until you can
    fully pursue it.
    Remember how everyone says how fast the life of child
    flies by? Well, it is true.
    Remember to be fully devoted to this time when your
    children are the ages they are now.
    Remember not to worry about your child at an age beyond
    where they reside (I’m still working on that 🙂 )
    Remember you are equipped to be their mama today
    and you will be equally armed when you arrive at the later years.
    Remember to smile.
    Remember to laugh.
    Remember to play.
    Remember, we moms who are walking ahead of you,
    we think you are a wonder.

So hang on, sweet mama.

 

P.S. I have written so much lately about losing my rhythm in this season. I had lamented not planting my row of sunflowers along the fence. Time kept slipping past me to do such a simple task. But one day in July I believe, I decided to toss a few seeds figuring that by October perhaps a bloom or two would visit. I scattered mostly Mexican Sunflowers because I developed quite a crush on them last summer but the photo above was what greeted me on Sunday. August didn’t leave without a bloom erupting. God has been teaching me how small offerings left in the hands of the Maker can bring forth a different harvest than envisioned. I have missed the long row of towering sunflowers all summer but I am deeply entranced by this solitary flower bringing delight to a steadfast bee.

 

cheers to books

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Cheers to books and welcome to my 31 day series on books.

My hope is that this won’t be a collection of book reviews because that

might get a bit stale after a couple of days.

I want this to be a compilation of books

and how they transform, inform and possess the power to

make us feel

known like no other medium.

The picture above was taken days before I turned 50.

My family had taken me to a dinner of my choosing.

I wanted casual yet a menu that would delight each

one of our varied palates.

A large table was vacated on the sun deck as soon as we arrived.

Despite the oppressive heat of the summer, this evening proved

to be the perfect blend of sunshine and temperature.

After we toasted, Carl surprised me by taking out several sheets of paper

and read the significant events during my birth year.

He listed movies and songs that were popular in 1964.

He then bestowed several gifts that were also celebrating 50 years.

Yep, he’s a keeper.

The first one basically could have been the only one as once I tore

back the wrapping, my eyes welled with the revelation of being known.

 

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Cheers to The Giving Tree.

I am not sure how many hundreds of times Carl and I have read this book

to our children.

How often I have mused at the brilliance of Shel Silverstein.

Randomly, one of us will begin to sing the words from The Missing Piece,

set to a tune created by our family,

one by one each voice

joining in the refrain.

“Hi-dee-ho, here I go,
I’m looking for my missin’ piece!”

These books with the seemingly simple black line drawings and choice words

filling the pages have landed  in our hearts and minds and remained.

Simply put, it is a parable about a tree and the boy she loves.

I have used this book to illustrate kindness and selfishness,

to emphasize the importance of giving and appreciating the giver.

Oh and those fair weather friends that most of us have experienced in our lives,

I want to be a good giving tree.

Well, maybe with a few more boundaries.

It has made me wrestle with whether

I can love without the expectation of being loved

in return.

Never underestimate the depth of a well-written children’s book.

Cheers to books.

Cheers to being known.

Cheers to that amazing cola braised pulled pork and pork belly sandwich

that would have rendered me speechless except for the fact of

sitting under a tree,

talking about books with people who love them

and who I love as well.

One of my most precious and fondest memories.

This won’t be the last book geared to children to be featured this month.

Do you have a favorite children’s book?

Share in the comments.
This post is apart of the 31 days…yet again series
about books. You can find the entire series here.

 

springtime musings

Marimekko April desktop

Hello Spring!

Time for new desktops for April.

I have always loved Marimekko.

Marimekko has two desktop options with or without a calendar.

You can make your selection here.

I could never get my act together to post March’s selection

but I still love it. Feel free to download it without the calendar here.

One last option from Dawn Camp, go here.

*****

Last week during spring break, we took a trip to Astoria.

I am so glad we seized the opportunity as it was THE best

weather day of the week.

Carl worked in a laboratory for two years before we married.

The girls were too young to remember visiting years ago.

It was fun to have Carl show the kids where he lived, worked and

we also fulfilled a bucket list item for the girls in visiting

The Goonies house.

Carl lived in Astoria during the filming and his claim to cinematic fame

is part of his truck is

seen in some versions of the film.

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I love this picture of our three. But I am not going to say a word about how old my son

looks. It could be that he has decided to rock the ‘fro these days but my word.

I see the future and I am unprepared.

Like I said, not a word.

*****

During one of the monsoon-like days,my parents were visiting us here in Portland.

It seemed the perfect time to watch 20 Feet from Stardom.

My second time watching it. If you haven’t seen it, do yourself a favor and

rent it. If you live close to me, you can borrow my copy.

If you don’t believe me, it won the Oscar for the Best Documentary.

I wrote about how I forgot to eat my Red Vines while watching here.

*****

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My beautiful and brilliant mother celebrated her birthday yesterday!

With each passing year, she exudes more joy and compassion,

more generosity and energy,

and more fully Felicia!

I love you Mor.

*****

I remember I could hardly wait to turn 30.

I suppose it was due to the fact that it felt like I could finally

qualify and call myself an adult.

I also have never really gotten “freaked out” about big milestone

birthdays.

Most likely because I was one of the young ones in my class.

I was barely 18 when I started college.

But as the sands of the hourglass have been quickly amassing,

I have had much more reason to pause turning 50.

It seems solid and weighty.

I feel I am at a particularly critical juncture in my life.

I am career-less.

I wonder what is my vocation?

What is next?

Retirement is closer than it was 20 years ago but

at this point, I won’t retire from any job.

I question if I am stewarding my time well?

It hasn’t been until this chapter in my life that I can accurately

see how driven I was in my 20’s and 30’s.

My 40’s have been the polar opposite.

I think my 40’s have been recovery from burn-out

on almost every role in my life.

So as I simmer in this end of decade soup,

even though I feel quite unresolved

in my identity moving onto 50,

I am looking at this patch of time as a gift.

I am doing a lot of soul digging instead of

wallowing which can be like trying to keep upright

on a downhill slip ‘n slide.

This week I started Donald Millers’s Create Your Life Plan.

Don and Shauna Niequist have created a 10 video module

coaching program to help create a life of meaning.

I have almost done half of the modules and it has been

life-elevating.

It has helped me upend the hard parts of my life history

and find gratitude and understanding.

There is a cost for this program but it is way less than one

therapy session.

They are still offering an early bird special and there is a

100% money back guarantee.

But truly the two names Donald Miller and Shauna Niequist

should be more than enough to convince you.

It would fun to do as a couple, in a small group or of course

individually.

*****

Books I have read recently:

Tatoos on the Heart-my friend Paige sent me this book. After I was halfway through
the book, I sent her a text saying that I had given up underlining and was simply
bracketing sections I loved. I can’t say enough about this book especially since
it is true. (Adult language-heads up)

Stitches: A Handbook on Meaning, Hope and Repair-I read this short book over
an evening. It’s Anne Lamott which is really enough said. But I loved reading her
thoughts about life in a post-911, post-Katrina, post-Sandy Hook world.
So much suffering, how do we live?
Great thoughts,stories and as always excellent weaving of words.

What I am reading now:

Found: A Story of Questions, Grace and Everyday Prayer-I am loving this book already.

On Writing-A Memoir of the Craft-just because.

Pastrix:The Cranky,Beautiful Faith of a Sinner and Saint.

You could say I am on a memoir feast of sorts.

*****

I hope you have gained a little something from me unleashing the contents

of my mind onto the screen.

I know I have aged a bit just in the writing.

Welcome Spring!

A time of new life, beginnings and perhaps even

a bit of soul-searching.

Bring on the showers, digging in the dirt

and basking in the splendor of blossoms!

*****

P.S. Check out my tweet on the sidebar if you

want to know how April Fools Day dealt with me!