Thursday, February 26, 2015

Seriously

Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey!

(My nod to Taylor Swift. Just because.)

Guess what! You got it. Another snow day.

So since February 16, my children have been in school for one and one-half days. Will this turn into another long weekend? TBD.

Because my angels tend to think that a snow day is a no-think, all-play, face-in-a-screen day, I told them that they each had thirty minutes--yes! thirty whole minutes--for screen time, and that was it. No more, thank you sir and ma'am. It is high time we use our time productively (i.e. we need to clean our rooms), and today is the day.

"Mom." I looked over at my eldest, who was looking back at me with a brazen glint in her eye. (The other was nose-to-the-screen involved in an intricate MineCraft design.) "It is SO not fair that you get to say how much time we have on our devices when you spend like FOUR HOURS on yours. Seriously. FOUR. HOURS."

The co-conspirator didn't look up, but managed a "yeah, mom", because when sister is on your side, it's best to agree. Especially when MineCraft is hanging in the balance.

Okay, first of all, if I were to spend FOUR HOURS on any device, it would not be playing games. It would be blogging, or checking email. (Or Pinterest, sorry, this is a weakness.) I do spend a fair amount of time texting, but it's not overkill. Oh, and My Fitness Pal gets a workout on my phone. But really. FOUR HOURS. I sense an exaggeration here. I think.

Since I'm lightning on my feet, and I never miss a beat, I decided to shake it off. (Really, that was clever.)

But it did get me thinking. The time I spend on any device, whether I've decided it's justifiable or not, is perceived just the same as MineCraft, or any other game to them. Because I've got my nose to a screen, and I don't pay attention when they talk, and I don't notice when they leave a room, and what they see is Distracted Mom. Now see here. I'm an adult, I want to reason with them, so therefore I obviously know what I'm doing.

So I threw it on the ground. I'm an adult.* (Exactly two people will get that reference. Go ahead, you two, laugh with me.)

*Not really. I didn't actually throw anything on the ground.

Obviously, adults have things they need to do on their phones. But when my kids perceive that I'm spending waaaay more time on my phone than I am spending with them, then a reassessment is in order. Pinterest has such yummy ideas, but can it wait? Like, a day, even? And while My Fitness Pal is very helpful, it won't be the end of the world if I miss a day. And blogging? Well, I haven't been incredibly consistent these past two weeks, and now you know why.

Because pretty soon, my kids won't be complaining that I'm not spending time with them. It'll be the other way around.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

24 Hours

Six days out of school. Followed by a two-hour delay. Six days of pure, adulterated joy at being able to stay at home and go outside and play. No practices. No homework. No reminders. No responsibilities. No rush here, hurry up here, you only have X amount of minutes to do this before we have to be here or there or somewhere. Just play.

And when they left today for school, my heart followed them right out the door. I could see it trailing behind them, waves of love wafting back toward me.

College is going to be a nightmare.

After they left, I sat down at the computer to do my devotion, and my tab was still open to a website I had discovered only a day before. Lynn Cowell is devoted to leading teen girls to Christ, helping them find love and fulfillment in Him rather than the many distractions of this world.  Sometimes I think I could benefit from her books as much as a teen girl might.

When I saw the 10 conversation starters, I made a mental note to bring at least one of them up with my daughter, and maybe even my son. We could all improve our relationships on some level, no? And for me, the first thing to break down in my family is communication.

2015 Jan Conv day 1 SQUARE
So when we got in the car last night, I asked them both the same question: If you only had 24 hours to live, how would you spend it?

Silence.

I mean, I don't think I was expecting some sort of revelation from either of them, but I was hoping to hear in their answers something that was important to them. So I tried to get the ball rolling.

"I think I might go horseback riding," I told them. 

"Oh," says the child from the backseat. "So it's your favorite things to do!"

"I don't know," says the child from the other backseat.

Hmph.

So I tried to explain that one might do things that they love, or things that are important to them, or spend time with people that they love the most, but they were totally stuck on the Favorite Things idea. Correction. MY Favorite Things idea.

"So all you'd do is go horseback riding? THAT'S the most important thing to you?" This from one of the BackSeat Children.

Sigh.

So I tried to explain again that one might forgive a grudge they'd been holding, or call up an old friend, or take a ride on a bull named Fu Manchu, like Tim. 

"I don't know." Again. From the BackSeat Twins. 

"Why 24 hours, mom? Why not 36 hours? Or 48 hours? Why 24?"

WHY? BackSeat Child? WHY?

Double sigh. Because when you're trying to start a conversation you hope will lead to something, and it's leading to why 24 hours to live, mom, one gets frustrated. And also incoherent, as one does not know what to say when her child asks why 24 hours, besides "OK, so 48. WHAT. WOULD. YOU. DO?"

"I don't know."

Followed by an entire conversation (everyone had a turn) asking questions using one syllable, and the two other responders could either say YES or NO (maybe was NOT an option, I was informed, but any parent will tell you that you never say yes or no to a question when you don't know what the question is, even if it is a hypothetical, one-syllable sentence), and then the question-asker would either say "you got it right!" or "hahahahaha mom, you said yes I could stay home from school FOREVER". This entertained some of us for the entire rest of our 17-minute trip to practice.

We are getting back in the swing of things--only thirty minutes before we have to leave! Do your homework! Eat a sandwich! Hurry, hurry, go, go! And it has occurred to me that yesterday's conversation wasn't a total bomb. So they didn't anwer exactly like I expected, but we had a blast--chatting and making nonsensical sentences and laughing--the entire time we were in the car. Directionally-pointed, intentional conversations are important and relevant, but so are silly, pointless, irrelevant, one-syllable, nonsensical ones. Both build up our relationship, strengthen our bond, and, as it were, make us sad to leave one another the next day. 

Sometimes when the hurry up part of life gives way to the soft, unscheduled part, it is all the sweeter to taste.


Saturday, February 21, 2015

Project Week

Okay, so one snow day turned into an entire snow week, and now it's snowing again, and I think I may lose my mind. I don't mind being stuck at home and I don't mind having my kids home with me, warm and cozy inside our house, the only thing on our agenda being PLAY. (Sorry, I know, I should be encouraging school work. I just--oh, forget it. I don't. Their brains will be mush on Monday and I hope the teachers understand.) What I mind is cold and snow. In that order.

I've been in such a funk over the past week. The thoughts have been swirling and dancing in my head, but I've been unable to form them properly on paper, and therefore they remain stuck, and I remain stuck, and even though the snow is light and airy and the atmosphere has been warm and cheerful and fun, my thoughts have been dark and frustrated and discontented and unsettled. I can't write about it now and couldn't over the past week, leaving me feeling elated at school closings and blah, blah, blah at my own attitude.

So I've done what I do and thrown myself into a project, because this week has been the perfect project week.*

*Actually, I started this project like a month ago, but have only had little bits and pieces of time to work on it. A little here, a little there, and what should take maybe a week has mushroomed into what could be a two-month-long process.


The Originals. So blah.


I have these cabinets in my basement. They are...not my favorites, they are builder-chosen, they are ugly and I hate them. This is first-world entitlement talking, and I'm sorry. I am a house snob. There. I've said it and you'll probably agree and probably agree again when I say this is why people call me and then pretend like it's a wrong number. (I'm just kidding, this doesn't happen. I don't think.) Anyways, I am painting these cabinets. Here's my inspiration photo, because you must have a houzz.com or pinterest inspiration photo to go by or else you aren't legit. (Just kidding. You totally are legit.)

Houzz.com--my candy


"Black", I told my grandma, who A) will not remember our convo and B) is one of the few adults I've actually conversated (is it a word? I don't care. Go with it.) with this week. I've also talked to Victoria, who I only talk/text to every single day because I heart her and she hearts me back. And a few neighbors. And a whole lotta kids. (Don't get me started on texting. Totally a sore subject right now, seeing as how some just don't.)

SO.

"Black", I say to grandma.

"BLACK?????" she screeches back into the phone. She forgets, among other things, that I can hear better than her 91-year-old ears can. "BLACK????" she says again. "Heather!! Black? In a basement? You'll make that room so dark and depressing. It's just depressing, child. Black cabinets. I never. Are you sure? BLACK?" (MY cabinets are white, she reminded me. Yes, I am aware. Thank you for the reminder that your cabinets are indeed white. I heart them very much. White would not work in my basement, but we will not discuss further as you already doubt my decor intuition. Moving on.)

"Grandma, you forget that I have very refined and sophisticated taste and nothing I've ever done to any of my houses has ever looked bad", I inform her. Which is not entirely true, (I mean, I guess it's not entirely true, but I can't think of a single example to make it untrue. Huh.)

Black. Is. Awesome.

So here you go. Goodbye, oak. Hello, swarthy, dark, somber, murky black. Perfect for my basement.

And my mood.

Bottoms mostly done. I shoulda mentioned, I used Annie Sloan chalk paint!

Like anything, it's a work in progress. 






Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Snow Days

Okay.

So two snow days has put a cramp on my blogging style, but you know what? I'm so thankful to be here. Two whole days at home. Honestly, I haven't even left the house.

I was watching my daughter eat breakfast and chat with my son this morning, and it occurred to me that I used to be scared--no, more like very worried--over the very age that she is.

She used to throw these tantrums when she was little. I can't even explain how I felt when she was screaming her head off, only that I felt the same way. Like I had no idea how to deal. What to say. How to discipline. Only screaming and yelling and kicking, except that I'm an adult, and while some feel this an acceptable way to carry oneself, I know better.

I used to wonder to myself what will she be like when she's thirteen...

And now I catch  myself worrying about sixteen. Then twenty. Ditto twenty-one. And on. And on. And on.

Sitting in the kitchen, watching her play and chat and eat, I finally realized how silly it was for me to spend any time worrying at all. The age she is right now is great. We certainly have our moments, but overall, I risked giving myself a stomach ulcer and high blood pressure and wrinkly skin over nothing at all.

But isn't that like it is with most of the worrying we do?

They're outside playing in the snow right now. A huge snowball fight has begun, with the boys pitted against the girls, accompanied by much barbaric, uncivilized yelling. The girls have abandoned ship, and the boys are taking the respite as an opportunity to pack more snowballs for their arsenal. A peace has settled on my heart as I remember my cries from so long ago.

What will thirteen be like?

Pretty awesome.

That lingering thought keeps making it's presence known, and this won't be the last time I acknowledge it, but for right now, when I worry over the next age milestone and the drama that may or may not accompany it, I can say this.

Sixteen will be pretty awesome, too. And twenty. Ditto twenty-one. And on. And on. And on.

Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
{jesus}

Friday, February 13, 2015

Al Capone Lives With Me

It has been a week of firsts. (I'm going to be like one of those completely annoying videos that say "watch to the very end to see what this mom/horse/alien did that was so amazing" and then you watch and it's completely anti-climactic and you go I just spent 3 minutes and 42 seconds of my life--that I will never, ever get back--watching someone else go fishing? Let's just all do the world a favor and stop the madness. #stopsharing But anyways, read to the very end to find out what is so amazing. Spoiler Alert: It's God.)

I got my first ever note from a class participant, explaining that she is breaking up with me and my barre class, and that it isn't me, it's her, because she has broken her wrist, and that she loves the class and hopes to be back soon. Usually people just stop showing up, leaving you to wonder if it really is you.

Relationships are tricky.

Yesterday, a child defecated in my driveway. Yes. He pooped right in the drive. And yes, he is certainly well beyond an age where pooping anywhere but in the potty is acceptable.

My daughter was apparently the one in charge during this drama, she of the "act now, ask questions later" mindset (it is possible that she would make an excellent crime boss), so I only heard about the incident after it was over. I also have visual proof on my phone, also taken by Al(ice) Capone, which I will not be sharing with you today.

I had questions.

What? What what? What the what?
Who did it? (Just so you know, it was not my child. Whew.)
Did he just pull down his pants and go?
Why did he do this?
Does he know we have bathrooms? With toilets? And plenty of paper? 
What happened to the poo?
What did you do?
Did anyone else see?
WHAT IS HAPPENING?

Let's just say this. She made the offender take care of his own business.

Welcome, Bugsy. Make yourself at home.

My son lied to me, right to my face, about listening to Bruno Mars radio on Pandora this morning, which I could clearly hear, even though he insisted I did not hear what I CLEARLY HEARD.

I'm thinking about siccing Busgy on his butt.

And another first: my husband and I have decided that we will not be exchanging gifts this year to celebrate Valentines Day, and we've also decided to stay in rather than get dressed up in jeans (what, your kids haven't ever said to you "mom, why are you so dressed up?" and all you have on is a pair of jeans and a sweater? Is it only me?) to go pay for someone else to cook our dinner. (Just as an aside, I was finishing my dinner when the clock struck 5:00 yesterday--my sister will appreciate this, as she teases about my early eating habits--and I just thought to myself you might be getting older when...you eat your dinner at 4:42 on a Thursday evening but here's the real dealio: age ain't nothin' but a number, baby, and I was hungry at 4:42. So I ate.)

Last year I started drinking coffee, because why? I don't know. I can't explain why I started drinking coffee. I had a moment of sleep-deprived weakness in 2014 and made coffee and now when I wake up and think today will be a coffee-free day, my body goes ohh-ho-ho-hoooo, you thought you could do without caffeine, did you, now? Let's play. I know this because I woke up this morning after a full eight hours of sleep feeling like I could have slept two more, and the I need more sleep feeling hasn't worn off. I thought briefly about upping my coffee intake, but I need more caffeine like I need a hole in the head.

I'm dealing. (By taking breaks and staring off into space and sipping coffee and realizing in moments of clarity that while I sit here typing, the laundry isn't doing itself.)

{Sigh.}

I've learned a few things from this week:

1) Caffeine is good. Coffee breath is not. Brush your teeth.
2) Bugsy Siegel is here to stay. And I like it.
3) Kids have issues.
4) So do I.
5) I can stay at home and not go out and not get gifts and I still love my husband. And he loves me.
6) I'm okay eating dinner during the Senior Power Hour. The K& The W would welcome me.
7) I am a pretty good barre teacher, as far as one person is concerned, and sometimes, it really isn't me.
8) Houses don't clean themselves. And a clone of me would be awesome.
9) I put off things I don't want to do. (See #8 above.)
10) With Valentines Day fast approaching, and all the hoop-la and fake hearts and kisses and hugs and I love yous that go along with it, I have come to understand that Christ's love is an amazing, crazy, incredible love, a love that I don't fully understand or appreciate, a love that I desperately want, because it fills my life, which I know because I've tried lots of different fillings, and only One will do. I want to taste the freedom He brings, to grasp it with both hands and then let go of everything else, even if it means letting go of myself and what I've lived for for so very long. (Beauty, I'm looking at you. You too, weight and your sister, The Scale.) I need to trust that He is good, because if I can't or won't or don't, then I'm putting myself back in charge, and I'm not an excellent crime boss, as surprising as this may be to some of you. His love is overwhelming and I want to lose myself in it so I can find myself again. And this is something that no movie or book can take the place of. (You know what I mean, don't you? It's created quite the buzz, so I don't want to talk about it too much, so as to lose the focus on what's really important. #50Ihaven'treaditsoIcan'tappreciatethehype)

so what do I know of you
who spoke me into motion
where have I even stood, 
but the shore along your ocean
are you fire, are you fury
are you sacred, are you beautiful
so what do I know
what do I know of holy
{addison road}

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Hurt People Hurt People

If I could Sharpie a permanent smile on my face, I think I might try it.

That wonder drug Botox might also do the same thing. This is something I might investigate.

My feelings get hurt pretty easily. They just do. I have always thought this was something that was wrong with me (and my mom used to tell me that there are two types of people no one wants to be friends with: the ones that complain all the time/dramatize everything/cry on your shoulder and the ones that get their feelings hurt easily and get mad all the time), so I try to shake it off even when something bothers me.

Even though reactions are different in different situations, the thing I try to do most often is act like nothing bothers me. Even when something clearly does bother me. And I resort to acting like a second grader because of it. (Not the way you should handle things, but the honest truth about how I handle things.)

I guess I'm afraid that person will get mad at me for being mad them. Or maybe they won't want to be my friend anymore. Or that I'll hurt their feelings even though they just hurt mine.

It's nonsense.

I also do not like confrontation and would rather slam my head into a brick wall several times than have to deal when a) someone is upset with me (which hardly EVER happens) or b) I am upset with someone.

The result is this: I don't tell anyone when I'm upset. I get upset when people are upset with me. Then I get spiteful and maybe a little resentful and possibly bitter and my heart hurts and I start becoming seriously unhinged. And even through the Becoming Unhinged process, I'd rather Sharpie a big fat smile on my face than say exactly what's on my mind.

Eventually the lines become blurred, and I don't know when to let something roll off my back and when to really be sad or mad, because I feel like a cactus. (With no flower.) And instead of enjoying every day of life for the pure joy of just living life, with a wide-open heart and a crazy love, living a wild adventure right here in my own backyard, I turn inward, embracing negativity and pessimism, drinking from the toxic cup o' gloom. Oh joyful day.

And I really, really want a wild, crazy love for life. Right here in my own backyard.

I have knockout rose bushes lining the front of my house, and in the spring and summer they are absolutely stunning. Roses galore. And for a while, I never even had to do anything. They just bloomed and bloomed and I thought this is the perfect maintenance-free plant! Until last summer, when two of my rose bushes didn't bloom as much, and they started dying back, and further research told me that I was supposed to be trimming them back every winter, right around February. So Monday of this week, which was a cloudy but mild 60-degree day, I decided to trim back my rose bushes. Ten minutes, tops, and then I'll play basketball with you, I promised my son. And when thirty minutes had come and gone and I was still chopping away, I realized that these bushes had been untended for too long. The stems were gnarly and hard to cut and the thorns were sharp and sticking me through my gloves, catching on my sweater, scratching my arms, and grabbing my hair as I lifted them over my head.

Really? What a pain. (My thumb still hurts from a particularly large and aggressive thorn.)

But hopefully when spring comes, those roses will come back in all their beautiful glory, and because I've carefully trimmed and tended them, they will be better than in years past.

I can fake a smile. It'll work, maybe even for a long time. But while I'm faking that smile, gnarly branches and thorns are growing and weaving their way in and around my heart, scratching and poking my heart. And because I don't like dealing with the thorns of anger and hurt feelings, they become wild and very, very prickly. Which makes me very, very prickly. Like a cactus, right? (With no pretty flower.)

Tending to one's heart is serious business. It can take a long time to get to the core of some issues, and even more work. Hard work. But I know I have a choice--I can stay walled off, polite but not friendly, angry, resentful, maybe even bitter and eventually lonely, or I can tend to what I know needs to be tended to. I'm sure I'll have some pokes and maybe even some bruises along the way, but if the end result is beauty growing and thriving, peace opening up my heart, grace inserting itself, and anger and tension melting away, then I think it's worth the extra effort.

Christ is in the Healing Hearts business. It's kinda like what He does. He is able to take a heart full of pain and hidden under a heavy blanket of insecurities and anger and unforgiveness and resentment and make it a feeling, healthy, beating heart. The kind of heart that responds with wisdom and discernment when feelings get hurt, the kind that doesn't hold onto past hurts, the kind that doesn't use a band-aide to smooth things over but heals from the inside out. The kind that doesn't use a Sharpie to fake a smile when the heart is hurting but heals the hurting heart.

My pastor says that hurt people hurt people.

Get it? Hurt people. They hurt people.

And I don't want to hurt people. I want to love people, and love them well. But there is a disconnect between loving people well and possessing a hurting heart.

So He will take his shears and he will prune my heart, and, yeah, it will probably hurt.

But you know what?  Spring is coming.

Love is patient, love is kind. 
It does not envy, it does not boast, 
it is not proud. 
It does not dishonor others, 
it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, 
it keeps no records of wrongs.
{1 corinthians 13:4-5}

Monday, February 9, 2015

Empty

It went something like this:

No one could connect to the wi-fi. This annoys everyone in the house, for reasons like now I can't check my email and now I can't check my Pinterest or Instagram accounts to see what KK has been up to for the last 20 minutes AND THIS COULD POSSIBLY RUIN THE ENTIRE REST OF MY DAY. 

So I, being the tech-savvy solution-finder that I am, called our provider for answers. No one can connect to the internet, I say, no one can solve any world problems without the internet in their hand (SAID NO ONE, EVER). A few minutes later, technology proves itself awesome and the problem is solved. Until it wasn't anymore and I was back on the phone, only to hear could be your router or could be your ethernet cables or could be you. 

Sigh. Because Apple doesn't have an easy way to call about their routers. Routers are not an option, says Apple. Routers are not important, says Apple. UNTIL YOU THINK IT MAY NEED TO BE FIXED BUT HAVE NO IDEA WHAT IS WRONG WITH IT. So I said to myself I'm a busy woman, another time, Apple, and went about my business and lo and behold THE INTERNET FIXED ITSELF which is proof enough for me that we need to take a step back and look at what we're dealing with, stat.

The good news is that we are now back, Houston. I don't know how or why or if there is a leprechaun in our house, but here we are.

The bad news is that I think there is a possibility that I am slowly becoming slightly unhinged. Like my door might be hanging at at angle. Like I might be losing it.

Here's more bad news: I'm not a nice person anymore.

On the outside I think I might still look the same, which is probably good. I smile. I chat. I guide my directionally-challenged people, even the ones who don't feel they need guidance. Or direction. Or anything at all. But there is this underlying current of, like, madness going on that makes me smile on the outside and yell GAAAAHHHHHH IT'S CALLED THE LEFT PASSING LANE FOR A REASON and IT'S CALLED AN INVISIBLE FENCE, DAMMIT inside my head. (My mind likes control and also it likes to curse at me.)

This is what qualifies me for Not Nice Anymore status.

I'm not sad or depressed, I'm angry and raging against the system of bad news and injustice and follow the rules, DARNIT and inequality and poverty and starving kids and what am I doing about it besides being comfortable and worrying incessantly about my weight (even though I know it's a flimsy veil of insecurity and an even flimsier basket to put any eggs into) and what is my responsibility and why don't my people just want to eat healthy and does anybody understand me? (I might be a thirteen-year-old living in an adult body.)

I've been failing at simple tasks, like responding to emails. Doing my bible study. Volunteering. Attending events. Chaperoning Cotillion. (Doesn't count if I was there; I actually needed to do something. I do feel bad about this. Maybe not bad enough to do it again, though.) Just keeping up with life in general. I told a friend yesterday that I feel like I am stirring many different pots but THEY ARE ALL BURNING.

I need a reset button.

...whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.
{john 4:14}

I tend to draw from my own resources. I do try really hard to be a loving person. I try to be nice. But eventually my resources run completely out and I'm reading a big, fat zero on my scale of I CAN DO THIS. And life keeps going. People keep emailing. Organizations keep asking for volunteers. But when I'm running on fumes, I fall flat. On my face. (And sometimes this is where I'd like to stay. Be cool. I promise I am mentally well.)

Jesus promises that his yoke is easy and his burdens are light. He promises rest. He promises a refreshing drink.

He is my reset button.

I just don't tend to recognize my need for a reset until I'm coughing and sputtering, completely out of gas and thirsty and needy and still pressing hard on the gas petal, thinking why am I not getting anywhere?

I'll tell you why, sister. It's called EMPTY.

And He is what you need to keep on going.


Thursday, February 5, 2015

Down and Out Up In Here

It's called INTERNET DOWN! INTERNET DOWN! INTERNET DOWN!!!

We are suffering over here. Please tell me you don't remember life before the Internet, either. Now how am I supposed to call...anyone?? Or check the weather? If you know how to fix a broken Internet, or router, or wi-fi and whatever else is wrong, come on over. Otherwise, I'll see you back here on Monday. 

I hope. 

Monday, February 2, 2015

Amming

An outdoor glass-top table got up-ended, shattering it's thick glass all over the patio, and the power went out, thanks to a ferocious and bitter winter wind that would not let up. All on the first real day of the week I'm supposed to be concentrating more on relationships and less on my media--my phone, my computer, my email, my Downton Abbey, my Instagram. Today was not a success. It was wearying and trying and more about following the rules--what I think I'm supposed to be doing--than about actually investing real time in real relationships.

In the aftermath of the power outage, though, a small light: the chance to pick up the book I've been trying to read for the past month, the chance to actually sit down and read, not skim, not glance, not hastily run over with my eyes so I can jump off to the next thing, but to read.

It was a glorious 15 minutes.

The Provence Cure for the Brokenhearted. It's the story of a girl who has lost her husband in a tragic car accident, who cannot rid herself of the pain of the past, who lives as a ghost today because her heart lies in the yesterdays of her life. And in a planned, yet rash, decision, she decides to move to the South of France to rehabilitate her mother's childhood home. While there, she discovers the act of "amming".

It's beautiful.

Everyone has a different story. Some are tragic, some are perfect, some are normal, some are fun and nice, some are sad and despairing. But even though we all come at life from different angles, we also all have a commonality: we all have a past.

My past, while not tragic by any stretch of the imagination, also includes parts of my life that I wish were also a part of my present--so I'm not always "amming", sometimes I'm "was-ing". Meaning I'm physically in the present but not always emotionally able to deal with what life has handed me.

I see my grandma-my beloved, adored grandma--slowly fading, becoming a woman I don't know, as she explains who the people in the picture--me and my daughter--are to my husband. It's a part of life I don't want to accept. I often wonder what life would be like if my mom were still alive. Would she take care of my grandma? Would we be friends? Would she still be married to my dad? Would she love my kids more than life itself? Would she take them on fun dates to the mall and the park? Would she want to do those things? Would I know the joy of having to split a holiday like Thanksgiving between families? Or of one huge family gathering, full of people who love spending time together?

I know what it's like to have a family splintered by anger and bitterness and death, to have a grandma who can't be a grandma anymore, to not be--not the, but a--priority in a family member's life, to want to live in what I used to know because what I used to know felt safe and protected and treasured. Not perfect. But cherished. So sometimes I find myself wishing for a past that simply doesn't exist anymore. "Was-ing". Not "amming".

I wonder...if I moved to the South of France to rehabilitate an old stone home that had been in my family for generations, would I shed the weight of what I'm longing for but can no longer have? Would I have the ability to simply live in the present without being bogged down by the past? Would I enjoy life in the South of France more than I can enjoy life here?

"Amming" is a state of mind, not an address. So whether I'm looking at the Mont Blanc in the French Alps or the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, "amming" can happen. Sometimes I live life in such a blur, moving quickly from one thing to the next, because I'm afraid of landing on any one thing for fear of fear itself; the realization that time continues its march onward, that I cannot change anyone but myself, that my grandmother is old and dementia has stolen her good judgement and her appreciation for social faux pas, that my sister does not live next door like we planned when we were eight, that my father has remarried and has a new life, that my mother will not be making an encore appearance on earth. C'est comme ca--it is a fact of life.

It is also a fact of life that life for me doesn't have to end with me playing the part of a ghost, mentally wishing for the past when the future is bright and clear.

For I know the plans I have for you, 
declares the Lord, 
plans to prosper you and not to harm you, 
plans to give you a hope and a future.
{jeremiah 29:11}

I don't always wish for the past--sometimes life gets too busy for that. And I don't always live wishing for days gone by when my mom was alive and my family of origin was intact. Sometimes it's just as simple as wishing that the clothes I wore at age 29 still fit at age 37.

But when my family--the beautiful family my husband and I have created--is right in front of my face and the body I have--the body that still runs and is strong and vibrant and alive, if not a few pounds heavier--when these are the right-here, right-now, "was-ing" is naive and senseless, because there is so much life in the am, not the was, not the I used to be, but in the I am, the now--the present.