Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Christmas Cleansing

I ordered a colon cleansing kit for myself for Christmas. It is being shipped and should arrive in two to eight days. I am so giddy. While this may seem like a weird gift, I cannot think of a more loving gift than cleaning out years, or even decades, of crap. Literally, crap and then some other random things that I shutter to think of, if the testimonials on the website are accurate.

How does a colon cleansing rise to the top of one's Christmas list? Word of mouth, of course. A friend and I were talking about how long meat takes to get through your system, which then led to talk of cleansing and colon kits and the best products on the market and then, of course, all the people willing to put their riveting poop testimonials on a website. It is fascinating stuff, including the thought of all the yucky stuff loitering in the inside of my colon. You can see why this cleansing kit was a must have for the holidays.

This obsession with colon cleansing then got me thinking about how amazing it would be if we had a cleansing kit for all the other stuff we carry around inside us. What if we could clean out all the emotional baggage, anger, frustration, lack of forgiveness, hatred, anxiety and other fretful things buried deep? I mean these are things that have taken years to build up, just like the crap in our colon, and they clog our hearts and our minds, even if we don't want to acknowledge their presence on a daily basis.

I'm not sure how much crap will be expelled from my colon, but surely it can't be as much as all the toxic stuff that would come out if I let go of my emotional baggage. I worry about what others expect of me and then, even better, I have totally unrealistic expectations of others, especially those I love most. I will forgive you, but before that happens I will need to build a huge wall around myself. You'll be on the other side of the wall, of course, which is why we won't be able to communicate. This is the ugly part of me. It's the yucky stuff loitering in the hallows of my (mostly loving) heart.

It would be nice if their was an emotional baggage cleansing kit. We could order it on the Internet and then read all the testimonials about how people were kinder, more loving, after taking it. It would also be fun to read about their shock of what finally came out during their cleansing. I bet they would feel lighter. I bet we all would. And no matter what the cost, I bet it would be worth it to be rid of all those bad feelings holding us back from our full potential.

This Christmas, I'm going to be working on a full cleanse---one of the colon and one of the heart. I hope I'm going to be surprised by all the stuff that pours out and then I'm going to try to fill it up with better things. I absolutely cannot wait for the cleansing to begin. I'll be sure to post my testimonial after the holidays for those interested. Don't check back if you are faint of heart.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Quirky Me

People are nuts. Okay, let's be honest. They are just plain crazy. And while I don't understand why people do what they do, this is exactly why I love them---the uniqueness factor. These quirks, or personality hiccups, if you will, are defined by some bend in their story, something that has left an impression sharp and deep, even if they don't recognize it.

I'm sure people would tell you I have a lot of strange quirks. They pop up frequently in my day. However, the most notable quirk revolves around my refrigerator. I cannot stand to see it empty, or even half empty, or even 98% empty. It must full and colorful and happy ALL THE TIME.

If the food supply begins to dip below the completely full mark, I panic. I rush to grocery store as if my family is starving to "stock up" on what we might need. I go down each aisle in the grocery store (in a giddy, disturbing fashion) and look at all food items I might need to take home. I don't buy them all, of course, but I think about it. When I get home, I line up all the items in my refrigerator in spectacular order, if I do say so myself, then bask in the bright light of the open fridge door. I close it. Then I open it one more time for the last blissful peak. It's beautiful.

This fridge fetish certainly comes from my childhood. Our fridge was never completely empty, but it was never really full either. We were always missing something. When I would call my mom to say I poured the last bowl of cereal and we have not one drip of milk left in the whole darn place, she would get miffed that I called during work for this non-issue. "Just use water," she would snip. "Problem solved."

Water on cereal. Are you kidding me? It was the same for everything I wanted to make. No eggs for cookie dough? It will taste the same without them. No bread for sandwiches? Eat the peanut butter on a spoon. No lunch meat left? Slap on another slice of cheese. It seemed like we were always missing something in that fridge. So, when I got a fridge of my own and paid the grocery bill, I marched firmly to the other end of the spectrum and obsessively filled it. I call it kind of quirky. I'm sure my husband would call it something else entirely.

The whole reason I even started thinking about my fridge obsession was because of poetry. I was trying to find a poem to read out loud at the library when I came across this one by Julia Kasdorf.

When Our Women Go Crazy
When our women go crazy, they're scared there won't be
enough meat in the house. They keep asking
but how will we eat? Who will cook? Will there be enough?
Mother to daughter, it's always the same
questions. The sisters and aunts recognize the symptoms:
she thinks there's no food, same as Mommy
before they sent her away to that place,
and she thinks if she goes, the men will eat
whatever they find right out of the saucepans.
When our women are sane, they can tomatoes
and simmer big pots of soup for the freezer.
They are satisfied arranging spice tins
on cupboard shelves lined with clean paper.
They save all the leftovers under tight lids
and only throw them away when they're rotten.
Their refrigerators are always immaculate and full,
which is also the case when our women are crazy.

After reading this poem, it was like a light bulb came on. I am not alone in my craziness. We all have quirks that make people scratch their heads and wonder. It even makes us wonder. But somehow, I guess, it just feels good to know we are all riding this crazy train together in one bumpy caboose. Of course, I'll be bringing the cooler packed full with food, all color coded and packed perfectly, for the trip. You go ahead and do whatever you need to do, too.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Supper Cake

I love to bake. This obsession with making sweet things started when I was 10 and I discovered I could read all the recipes in my mom's Betty Crocker cookbook. I would bake a recipe until I had it perfected. This may sound super sweet on the surface, but it often became an exhausting endeavor of perfection. I made Mrs. Crocker's russian tea cake recipe over 50 times one summer until every ball was the same size, each coated with the same amount of powdered sugar.

That same summer, my grandma got sick with cancer. The worse I felt about her illness (the surgeries, the hospital rooms, her hair falling out), the more I baked and baked and baked. It felt so good to take also those random ingredients that meant nothing by themselves, and measure and mix them into something that came out amazing. While my mom may have found this new-found hobby somewhat extreme, my grandma loved it. She began sharing every recipe she knew and I absorbed it with eagerness and love.

The one recipe I loved to make more than anything was her supper cake. It was a recipe they made a lot during the Depression because it took very few ingredients and only needed 20 minutes to bake, almost the exact time it took a farm family to finish a meal. You sprinkle the cake with cinnamon and sugar and then eat it warm with gusto. It only took me two tries (with my grandma watching, of course) to make it perfectly. After that, I was in total charge of supper cake.

I still make supper cake for my boys. When I pull out my grandma's recipe, the memories of us in her kitchen are so strong, I can almost feel her standing there as I mix it. It is a memory of joy, but also sadness. She lived only a year more after that summer. While her cake is delicious, it serves as a reminder to me of the importance of passing on the sweet things in life--to our families, our friends and even those who may only sit a few minutes in our kitchen.

Life is short. If we are only given 20 minutes, why not bake something wonderful and think about those we love?

Supper Cake
courtesy of Marie Haller Boehmer
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup shortening
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup milk
1 cup sifted flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
Topping: 1 TBS. butter, 3 TBS. sugar, 1 tsp. cinnamon

Combine sugar and shortening, mixing until fluffy. Add egg; beat well. Add vanilla and milk. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt, add to wet mixture, and beat smooth. Bake in greased 9-inch round pan, or 8-inch square pan, at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven. Immediately spread butter on top, then sift sugar-cinnamon mixture over top. Serve warm.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Raising Clark Kent

It's official. I will not be getting the mother-of-the-year award this year. I knew I might be out of the running when my first grader failed his vision test with the school nurse last week, but I was still kind of hopeful, you know. All hopes went right out the window when he couldn't identify any of the letters on the screen at the eye doctor. I mean, seriously. What kind of mother doesn't know her child sees a fuzzy world?

Cooper and I picked out some eye glasses that same afternoon. I liked the wire-rimmed glasses, but he had his heart set on the thicker brown ones. He is such a little guy, so almost every pair looked sweet. When I said the brown ones made him look just like Clark Kent right before he turns into Superman, the deal was sealed. Cooper "Clark Kent" Feeler had his first pair of readers on order.

The first seed of doubt started to creep in when I relayed the story to my husband. He could not believe I let our son have the final say on glasses. A bad choice in glasses could be devastating, he said. Then he relayed his own personal tale of picking out blue-tinted lenses for his red-rimmed glasses in elementary school. He never did recover. I started to panic. Forget the guilt of your kid not seeing. The possibility of my kid being picked on raised my anxious mother meter to a whole new level.

Had I, like my husband claimed, been looking at him through warm mother's eyes versus the critical lenses of cruel kids on the playground? Would he be teased for not only wearing glasses, but for our choice of thicker rims that are common in every newsroom around the country? Is there no place for a unique "super hero" in this world?

Cooper wore his glasses for the first time tonight. Holy smokes, he said, everything looks so huge. He was giddy. I just kept staring at him all night because he looks so different. It's the same crooked smile and bright eyes alright, but the glasses change his whole look. I keep wondering what the kids will say tomorrow at school. Will his world dip down because of what he looks like instead of rising up because he can finally see the beauty in the world?

My hope is that his independence in choosing for himself will override the small hurts that will inevitably come his way. Life is not always kind, but it can still be good. I also pray he can survive a mother that is clueless about mothering, but still loves him unabashedly and unconditionally. There's no perfection in this mother. Isn't that right, Clark Kent?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Love Actually

Christmas will be here soon. Okay, not real soon, but close enough that I am about to break out one of my favorite winter flicks--"Love Actually." I'm not a Hugh Grant fan. Let's just be clear on that fact. But there is something mesmerizing about his voice when he says, "Love actually is all around us." I like that. A lot.

When my life gets crazy and hectic (and this is all the time since I became a mom), I forget about all the wonderful things, big and little, around me. Love is to be had right here and right now. I spend so much time trying to dole it out in perfect spoonfuls that I forget to soak it in. I am, quite frankly, missing the freaking love boat.

In honor of Hugh Grant's voice and the warm feelings it evokes, I decided to write down a few things I actually love, or love actually. It's a work in progress, which works out great because guess what? So am I.

Heather's "Love Actually" List
1. Snuggling in bed with my boys (even with unexpected kicks and then giggles)
2. Warm puppy smell
3. Getting to walk a new trail that goes deep into the woods
4. Steamy romance novels
5. Alpaca socks
6. Sniffing permanent magic markers
7. Kneading bread dough
8. Eating homemade chocolate chip cookies
9. Kissing my hubby
10. Reading good writing, or writing some good reading
11. Quality time with those I love
12. Learning someone's story
13. Eliminating clutter
14. Dancing in the car with all the windows down
15. Buying school or office supplies
16. A hot shower
17. Sharing a meal with family and friends
18. Big bear hugs
19. A random act of kindness
20. Sending handwritten letters in the mail

I could on for a long time, I imagine, but I think there is power in just honoring a few things at a time. It would be even better to make a list each day. Different day, different list, but all things that bring happiness to a life. What's on your "Love Actually" list? Well, besides me, of course.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Sharing the Struggle

Work has been particularly grueling lately. I mean, it always moves at a fast pace, which suits me just fine, but in the last few weeks I feel like I'm hanging from the back of a bumper, white knuckled, driving way too fast down the freeway. One minute I'm screaming from sheer excitement. The next, I'm trying to keep the bugs from choking me along the way. It's a multi-tasking world, I know. But it is simply exhausting.

This is why I almost didn't go to a conference today. I was overwhelmed with the work in front of me. Although I really wanted to hear the lunch speaker, who I heard had a great story, it was my friend, Dulce, the conference organizer, that sealed the deal. I made a promise to be her helper during lunch. Did I mention that Dulce is a kind, giving soul, who radiates light and love? It's hard to let someone like that down no matter what kind of stress you're under.

Gracia Burnham, the speaker, had quite the story to tell. She and her pilot husband were Kansas-natives, who had been missionaries in the Philippines, when they were captured in 2001 by an Islamic group. For over a year, a whole year, Gracia and her husband were hostages and forced to witness unspeakable horrors in the jungle. Before being rescued, she was shot in the leg and her husband in the chest during a gun battle. He died in the jungle exactly one year and 11 days from when they were first taken. Gracia returned to her three children in Kansas.

She talked about all the prayers from back home that lifted them up in that year in the jungle. She talked about her captives, many young boys, and where they are today (a few even write her from prison). And Gracia spoke with great wisdom on forgiveness and God's power, but the tears came down in earnest for me when she reflected on why God chooses one path for one person and then quite another for the next.

"The strong one [Martin] died and the weak one [me] got to come home and tell the story, to carry on the mission," she said. Really hard to understand.

I don't understand much about life, but I know I was supposed to be in that room today. I needed to hear her story, her life-changing message. When I was given the job to pass out her book at the book-signing table, so she could stand up and hug people and write a message of hope on the inside page, I felt something shift inside me. It got filled suddenly with something better, though most days, the Lord knows, I feel so unworthy.

"God bless you, Heather," she writes on my page. No words come out, so I just hug her tight. It's not enough, I know, but I make a mental promise to pay it forward. Life is too short and precious to do otherwise.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Praying Mantis Club

I was in St. Louis this weekend for the wedding of my dear friend, Mary. She is one of the five founding members of the PMC, or Praying Mantis Club (pictured left, though Mary is absent because she's greeting her wedding guests). It's a group of girls that would get together every month, once upon a time when we all lived in Kansas City, and try a new adventure each time we gathered. Our only common thread at the beginning? Me.

It was a tentative gathering at first, as we tried to figure out our role in this group as only women do. We picked apples in Weston. We ate at new restaurants. We tried yoga in a room heated to over 100 degrees and, even though Rhonda passed out, the rest of us held our poses perfectly. We drank too much wine. We laughed really loud in public places. No ones asked us to leave, but they probably should have. We did pottery. We perfected our self-defense moves. We even made predictions on where we would end up in five or 10 years.

In the fun of it all, we gave ourselves a name, Praying Mantis Club. This came from our merriment (dark and sinister as it may be) at the role of the male praying mantis in the sex act. In order to even have sex, the female must first bite off his head and then he dies. For sex. Only a male of any species would die for sex, but only a female would bite off his head and then proceed to get it on with a headless male. Relationships are complex. We all agree on that.

All of us made it this weekend to Mary's wedding. It was a reunion of the sweetest, and even bitter sweetest, kind. I really miss my friends. These are unique women that grow stronger every year, but unfortunately it's without me being near. I'm not there for every story, or heartache, or miracle. I'm the faraway friend. Because I love these friends so much, I've even managed to block myself off from some new friendships where I live now. That may be the saddest part of the equation, I think.

Friendship is an amazing and complex thing. It's hard to understand why some groups work and others just fizzle away. Thank you, PMC, for all the memories and love. I was reminded how much I love you this weekend. It's time to move on. I know you'll understand.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Detoxifying Your Life

I heard the other day on the radio that one of the best things you can do for your body is to drink hot water with lemon every morning. It's nature's best detoxifier. Your liver will love you, absolutely love you, after only a few short days of this hot lemonade tonic. Sounds simple, right? Then again, this is me we are talking about.

I agonized for days on whether I should buy fresh lemons or the juice in that plastic yellow lemon bottle. Fresh lemons are best, I know, but they always seem to slide to the back of our fridge and shrivel up. I can't tell you how many 99-cent lemons I've wasted in my lifetime (you might hate me if I even try to give you an estimate). Then when I called my husband in the middle of the day to ask his opinion on the lemon saga, he was kind of rude. To me. About lemons.

I buy the fresh lemons (in a huff!). The radio guy says to drink it first thing in the morning because this is what your liver really likes, so I make a mental note to make this the first step in my day. Get up, stretch, then quietly drink your detoxifier. If I lived in a normal house, this might be doable, but my house is a circus, complete with two baby cubs and a dog that always need my attention. I'm lucky if manage to get a hot cup of coffee before mid-morning.

It's been three weeks. No morning detoxifier. Tonight, however, I am turning things around and trying my first hot water with fresh lemon (well, a three-week old and slightly wrinkled lemon) while I write this. Kids and hubby are in bed and, unfortunately, the dog is licking himself with unrelenting determination next to my chair. It's a sound that drives me crazy. The drink, thank goodness, tastes just fine.

I wonder if we can really detoxify our body and our lives with one single step. Is it as easy as squeezing fresh lemons in hot water and chugging it down? I think our lives are moving at such a warp speed that we will cling to any solution that might claim to help us, or save us, or simplify us. We are willing to let random people on the radio direct our lives in rush hour instead of slowing down to reflect on how our lives got here, hectic and perhaps a little hairy.

Perhaps the true detox comes when we accept our major role in making our lives what they are (because we do, after all, fill it up) and then, miraculously, choosing to embrace it or change it. We each have the power to do both though we often choose to do neither. And for those, like me, who are comfortable with worry and constant fatigue, might I suggest starting slow with some quiet time, or semi-quiet time if you have a dog, to enjoy a nice steaming cup of lemon water. It's a start and your liver will absolutely love you.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Master Plan

The Lord has a plan for my life. I know this to be true. What I don't know, may never know, is why all the filler happens in between. I mean I'm completely good with all the joyful stuff. Bring on the warm puppy smell and loud kid giggles. Sunrise and sunset? Count me in every time. I even find value in the people I meet along the way.

It's the other stuff I'm talking about. The kind of things that bring you to your knees or, worse yet, leave you laying there in a fetal position. Helpless. Afraid. It's the hurt and sadness and despair, all rolled into one. It's the uglier part of life.

While I have plenty of downward dips in my life, it is nothing compared to what my friend, Heather, is going through right now. For 35 days, she has been trying to be boring. Doing nothing, literally nothing, in a hospital bed because she's been trying to hold her baby inside her womb. He has had a myriad of health problems, including the risk of kidney failure when born. If he is not born at more than four pounds, he will not be given the gift of dialysis.

He was born yesterday. Over five pounds (thank you, Lord!), but still several weeks premature. His name is Jacob. He is a sweet, beautiful baby. Jacob also is in kidney failure, has an infected colon outside of his body, and faces other life-threatening issues. He has had two surgeries in his short life. News is not even day by day anymore. It is hour by hour. My friend is one of the strongest women I know, but this is one of those wear-you-down-in-the-worst-kind-of-way obstacles.

In all the Lord's infinite wisdom, I wish there was a way to carry the burden for others, to take part of their struggle, strap it to our own back, and carry it away. I would do this for her. I love her that much. Unfortunately, this isn't how life works. We can only lift up our prayers on their behalf, not take away the really tough part of the journey. Perhaps it is the Lord's plan that we must be broken before we can be built back up again. He gives us each other so we can survive.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Howling at the Moon

I'm an Aquarius. A water baby, if you will. And although I rarely read my horoscope, I believe there is something to be said for how the stars were aligning the day you were born. I once read Aquarius women are eccentric, loyal (but usually with only a select few), and willing to try anything once. Sounds sexy, doesn't it? Well, it's not.

I am eccentric. Except you're only eccentric when you're rich. I'm just weird. I have all these strong feelings about random stuff, like not wearing deodorant because it causes cancer or leaving only one hubcap on my car because all the others ones have vanished. The things I should care about? I don't. Sorting laundry by color, rising up the corporate ladder, finishing things I start. Meaningless endeavors in my world.

I'm also loyal to the bone. My loyalty goes so deep in fact that I only let one to two people really get to know me in my whole lifetime. My best friend, Jamie, is one. My husband is the other. While I love having lots of different friends and sharing stories with others, I rarely tell them my darkest, deepest secrets. I don't think I'm terribly bad, but I don't think I'm terribly good either. I'm just hard to love. It's been safer along the way to be selective.

The last Aquarius trait I have in spades. I'm a risk taker. I am, quite literally, willing to try anything once. I have jumped out of an airplane. Eaten from the mouths of others to win a contest. Quit a job out of frustration. Tattooed my skin. Swam naked at night in the ocean during a jelly fish alert. All this stuff, silly and sometimes stupid, to be able to personally experience it. To say, I loved or I hated it, but I know for myself because I tried it.

I have a necklace that my Mom gave me for my birthday a few years back with a picture of the exact moon in the sky on the day and year I was born. It was a seven descending, waning moon. The note attached said, "Let this serve as a constant reminder to always look up. Is it your moon in the sky tonight?" If I was another astrological sign, it might be enough to calmly look up at the moon and meditate. Instead, I'm the crazy one running around her yard naked, covered in war paint, cursing the moon like a wild banshee. This is how it goes with Aquarius women. The only thing you know is that you never really know.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Edward vs. Jacob

When I left the movie theater last night, I was once again smitten and bitten (not literally, of course, though it is very tempting) with the vampire world in Forks, Washington. This seems crazy to me because I'm not 12. I'm 32. Yet, here I was rushing to the movies, all giddy and restless to see how the love story would unfold on the big screen.

And it is a crazy love story. Vampires. Werewolves. A clumsy, yet stunningly beautiful, heroine. Two men, also heroically handsome, who love her with such a passion that it makes everything else so trivial. It is an all-consuming love. Hold on to it and burn, or let it go and fade away. Just like the characters, even though I sense danger in every scene, I cannot look away.

So, what keeps us coming back for more in this Edward versus Jacob saga? It might be that we enjoy a good love story, or perhaps it's our curiosity about the darker side. For me, and this may be true for many women, it's the burning hot chemistry. It's the way he looks at her, as if he wants to brand her his woman for eternity. "Brand me, brand me," I often feel like yelling.

As much as I love this escapism, I also worry about it. This is not real life. This is not even real love. For those more seasoned and cynical to the world (yes, this is me!), it's just two hours to escape from kids and housework, but for other impressionable young girls, it becomes the picture of perfect love. Everything else, even something honest and real, falls short. It makes me sad because life is hard enough. You don't need to be disillusioned about love, too.

Don't get me wrong here. I'm all for hot love. I encourage sniffing people because you can't live without their scent and imprinting on your life mate, even in the womb. I like hot kissing, but agree about waiting for marriage and losing your virginity until right after graduation. When my friend fell in love a few years back, she said she just wanted to eat him up, hair and all, because she loved him so much. Did I discourage that? No, ma'am. I'm no love hater.

The story in Forks can teach us many things, good and bad. It's been very well done, but it's also Hollywood and that makes it tragically flawed. It's really hard to remember all that, especially with Jacob sporting the hot, bronzed skin and beautiful, white teeth. For now, it's back to my real life until the next movie rolls around, though I am planning to buy some tight flannel shirts this fall. I love you, Edward. I'll see you soon.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Sweet Nothings in My Ear

My husband is a talker. From the minute I arrive home, he's talking about some random part of his day, like the crazy lady that cut him off in traffic or this hysterical joke he heard on the radio. He is so passionate when he speaks, too, as if this is the only thing in the world he wants to be doing---talking to me.

Most of the time (and this will sound terrible, I know), I just tune him out. I'm busy getting chores started, or supper ready, or homework done. Kids are circling me like vultures. He plants himself next to me in the kitchen, or wherever I might be, and keeps going on and on with his stories. I occasionally hear something of interest and insert a thoughtful question that sends him into another half-hour monologue. Noise, and more noise, always in my ear.

My husband has now been gone for four days on a mission trip. There is no cell phone coverage where he is working, only heat and years of oppression. It's been the longest span we have ever gone without talking in our 14 year relationship. We have four more days to go. On the first evening, I was so giddy with the silence that I sat on the couch with no television, radio or computer to distract me. Only the candles buzzed slightly around me as I caught up on all my celebrity gossip. The change felt miraculous.

It's gone downhill since then. I miss my husband something fierce in almost a panicked kind of way, as if this stretch of silence is permanent instead of just a week in our lives. I never would have expected that I would miss his endless banter, or his dirty socks under the coffee table, or his looks of pure mischief before he goes chasing after our kids. I miss the noise. I miss his chaotic energy. I miss, sadly enough, the flawed man. He makes our house a home.

That's the really screwed up part about life, I think. No, correct that. That's the really screwed up part about people. We want we don't have, but then when we get it, IF we finally get it, we often want it to go back to the way it was. We hurt others, we even hurt ourselves, in search of something better. Turns out, it was pretty damn good right here.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Yes, I Do!

When I got married 10 years ago, I had long curly hair, a college diploma with the ink barely dry, a whole plethora of life experiences (I thought!) in my back pocket. I was 22, but I felt 32. People constantly asked if I was ready to get married, being so young and all, and I remember thinking that they knew absolutely nothing about me. I was mature and energetic. I was ambitious, but kind. And above all us, I was loyal, through the good and the bad.

I had no flippin' idea. Marriage was actually work, really hard work at that. This person who wooed me and loved me and read poetry to me turned out to be the least romantic husband in the world. It's like the wedding package was all bright and shiny, but the marriage center was kind of gooey and tart. I already took a bite, so it was too late to return it to the store.

Today, it's been 10 years since we took our vows. I am 32, but I feel 42. I am still the wife to one, but now a mother to two. Life is so exhausting that I rarely think about the day I wore white and promised to love, honor and cherish. I hardly know the girl I was. I have, however, gained a few more life experiences, which is good because the jeans are a little bigger these days, too.

If I could give advice to a soon-to-be-bride, who, like me, is young and a tad foolish for the bright, shiny package of marriage, here is what I would say:
  • Nothing can prepare you for your new husband moving his stuff into your one bedroom apartment in trash bags then asking where he should hang his black light. Do not be afraid. It may take 10-15 years, but he may mature into something really amazing, especially with your love and acceptance. Then again, he may not.
  • There are five love languages. Know your own, but especially know your husbands. You are wasting your energy doing four other love languages when, really, all you need to focus in on is one--his. It helps to tape your love language to the bathroom mirror, so he reads what you need every morning of his life.
  • Nobody is perfect. If you can't forget, at least try to forgive. You may sacrifice more, hurt more, give more, love more than you ever imagined, but there are great rewards. The ironic part is that you might not always see those rewards. Keep working on it anyway.
  • In the first year of marriage, go through a Dave Ramsey Financial Peace class, so you the last thing you have to worry about is your finances. Also, please don't play the lottery. Being rich gets you in as much trouble as being poor. Aim for the middle, or a little higher, I say.
  • Never mention divorce in jest or in anger. I truly believe saying the word gives it power over your relationship. It's like a seed in the bottom of your heart. It may grow sprouts at the oddest time and push all the other good stuff right out of the way.
  • Lastly, be careful of all marriage advice from others, including the information above. Every person is different, so is every marriage. Cookie cutter advice only works well when making cookies, not when talking about relationships or people.
I can honestly say I love my husband more today than I did when we got married. He also drives me just as crazy. It's our anniversary and we made a wonderful family meal in the kitchen together with our kids, which just tugs on the heart strings, but now I've got to go clean up in the kitchen all by myself. He's on the couch, sprawled out, laughing hysterically at the TV.

This is my married life, the good and the bad. I do, I do, I do.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Smooth Like Butta

I wasn't really sure what to expect when our 5-year-old son had his first choir recital at church this evening. He's been going to choir practice all year, but he doesn't talk much about it. He says they sing. He says they sometimes dance. It was good enough for me.

When we arrive, all the other kids are dressed in khakis and button ups, or dresses and bows. They look all shiny and perfect. Cooper has on his bright green shirt that says, "Smoother Than Butta," with a big ole' stick of butter plastered on the front, and one end is stuck in his jeans after his last bathroom break. His hair is going straight up. He gets up on those risers with the biggest smile I have ever seen.

All the parents in the room are beaming, too. They've got front row seats and big cameras to record every moment. We are seated in the back row because, well, we're those kind of parents. When the kids began to sing, I felt pure pride welling up inside me as Cooper sang every song with his whole heart. You could hear his voice above all the others. He also started every song early, hit his drum with a little too much gusto, and missed a few key moves.

My husband and I give him a thumbs up every time he looks our way. We also get laughing so hard that I have to cover my mouth to keep from snorting. It's the most entertaining performance I've ever seen. When I glance over at my husband, I notice that he's started to get emotional watching our son. He wipes a tear from his cheek before anyone sees.

It suddenly hits me. This is one of those moments. You know the kind where you look back and think I was so happy, right here and right now. It's such a random moment in time and, as usual, we were totally unprepared. Happiness comes anyway. God, I'm thankful for that.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Priscilla Knows Best

All day today, I've been thinking about Priscilla Presley. I should have been thinking about Priscilla in the Bible, which is where the discussion started this morning, and what an amazing woman she was to open her heart and her door to all those in need. She was a woman, my friends, that had it all together.

But I don't give her a second thought. Instead, I immediately start thinking about the Priscilla of our time, the one waving to me on the steps of Graceland when she is still a girl. Her hair is witchy black, piled dangerously high on her head, and her eyes are painted dark. She takes pills to sleep and pills to wake, but that will be much later. Now, she is a girl in desperate love with a man. He loves her, in a fast lane, rock-and-roll kind of way, which might be enough, I think, if he had learned to love himself first.

When I was a child, I would watch the mini-series of Elvis and Priscilla over and over again. My mom could never understand my infatuation with their story. I couldn't really explain it either. She was so young, but knew in her heart that she wanted to be with him. She lived his crazy life to be near him and tried to be perfect, outside and in, so the world would love her, too. He loved her, I know he did, but he just had too much of everything (fame, talent, money, etc.) for everything to survive. It didn't. They didn't. And it was so sad to watch.

Priscilla is a woman that teaches us an important lesson. Love hurts us. It breaks us. It often makes us into people we cannot recognize in the mirror, hair all ugly and piled up high. No matter what we morph into on the outside, we still yearn for love and acceptance on the inside. It may kill us or keep us, but it will certainly define us.

Saturday, January 23, 2010


I've been feeling lost lately. I feel like I should be doing something different, something more, but I can't really figure out what it is. Could this be, like in one of those mythical novels, a crossroads in my life? Will my life completely change if I go left, or then suddenly decide to go right?

As of next Tuesday, I'll be 32 years old. This number doesn't really scare me since I've actually been telling people I'm 32 for the last full year. Apparently, I can't subtract correctly. On all the forms I've filled out, I've been 32. I feel 32, so it seems appropriate to be there for another year.

In all honesty, what scares me the most, is that I feel like I've been standing still for quite some time, going nowhere. It's not been a meditative stand still either. It's more of a growly, stamp your foot on the ground, howl at the moon, let's get this thing moving, Lord, if it's ever going to move, kind of stance. You can see why I'm still stuck. I'm impatient and, on my worse days, unkind.

The more I pray, the more confused I get. The more I ask people, the more lost I feel. And here I be, still standing in front of this crossroads, birthday crown in hand, shaking and afraid.