The Blog

Eyes Closed Tight Dreaming

I feel like if I state my dreams for the whole Internet to read, maybe God will see them bigger and pay more attention?  No.  He won’t.  But maybe I’ll see them bigger and pay more attention. Maybe I’ll have something to look back at in 3 years to compare God’s vision to my own.  And maybe it will look nothing like what I put out there, but maybe it will.  I have dreams that stick, but feel both tangible and incredibly unforeseeable.  But that’s dreaming right?  When we close our eyes and search our heart, we see dreams with clarity and detail.  Colorful, exploding detail.  And when we open our eyes the colors fade a bit, reality seeps in and our dreams dim a bit.  Or they’re put on hold.  But we know, even with our eyes wide open, that if our dreams weren’t so big they wouldn’t scare us so much.  That’s what makes them worth dreaming.

Two dreams I see SO clearly when my eyes are tightly closed and my heart is tuned in….

#1.  MY DREAM SPACE

I envision a space, white on white on white with texture, brightness, softness and warmth.  A space that invites women into a fold of creativity, acceptance, inspiration, andold-stable-converted-for-rent-belgium-gessato-8: community.  A space that offers comfort and calm in the midst of our concrete jungle of hurry and neglecting ourselves and each other.  A space that exists as a resting place for women who want to work, connect, share, communicate, grow, gather, and learn for themselves and from each other.  Beautifully designed work spaces will exist for solo entrepreneurs as well as meetings of the minds.  Rooms where women can drip robin’s egg blue paint on the concrete floor, rooms where podcasts and heart sung melodies can be recorded, rooms where therapists can privately sit knee to knee with clients, a coffewidth=400px: e shop where underprivileged women can find refuge through employment.  This space will include lamp lighting, crInteresting shabby chic dining room. Chalkboard would definitely keep the young…: eamy pillows, and Anthro quilts.  And distressed furniture telling a story and scripty encouragement hung intentionally on the walls.  A space to showcase local talent and educate on topics screa : ming for attention.  A space to pour Pinot and slice cheese on Thursday evenings and talk about books and all the many many things we should be talking about. A place to teach trades and connect people who otherwise wouldn’t find connection.  And whatever else God sees happening in this space.  Because the options would be limitless with that in mind. The beauty of what could be is tingly to my dreaming self and my eyes wide open self.  Being a part of that, in whatever way God sees fit is what’s living in me. I just need the right person/people to come alongside this one.  To dream a little ole’ dream with me.

 

 

#2.  THE COUNTRY LIFELove this. . . rustic log fence:

This one isn’t so much an eyes wide o18 Vintage Decorating Ideas From a 1934 Farmhouse: pen dream yet, but it lives so intensely in my depths.  Rather than attempting to call it up into being,  I print photos that speak to it and gaze at them every time I walk up my staircase.  That way I can dream of it with my eyes wide open.  The older and less tolerant I get, which is definitely happening on both fronts, the more I ache to get outta town.  To leave all the options and simplify it all.  The options stifle me most days.  I’m anxious choosing between 726 schools, 7,964 qualified non profits to volunteer with, 13 places that sell paint in a five mile radius, and 467 Pretty table...Saddlerock Ranch Wedding by Yvette Roman + Living Cinema + R. Jack Balthazar | Style Me Pretty: occupational therapists who could do a bang up job.  There are toThe best part, picking veggies for one of our meals, fresh from the garden.....: o many box retailers offering too many lackluster options of everything and anything under the blazing hot sun.  There’s not enough shade from it all.   The lack of trees, rolling hues of green, sheep grazing, and aged wood hurts my insides.  I know, that’s oh so dramatic, but it’s also flat out true.  I’m over the pace and fighting against the pace.  I crave acres where my kids can take off and get in trouble with nature herself.  I envision massive farmhouse tables outside, inviting refuge for people longing for the same things.  Just a simple, beautiful place to call home and to invite others into.  Because community is becoming something we “fit in” rather than something we “live in.”  And I hate that.  We make it so complicated.  So I’ll dream of a country lifestyle, which of course would be made beautiful.  Maybe even a weekend escape into this lifestyle.  Again, this is an eyes closed kind of dream.  For now.

 

What are you dreamin’ about with your eyes closed tight?  And what have you mustered up the courage to act on and dream about, eyes wide open?  There’s a place for both types of dreaming.  This I’m sure about.  As long as we don’t tidy those dreams up and lock them away.  I just unlocked my dream world……

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50/50

Our family of four was sitting at a picnic table at an Orange Beach playground this week.  An 8 year old Alabama girl walked over to play with our clan and took a seat at the table.  Within 3 minutes, she whispered to our daughter, “Does your brother have special needs?”  This was met with confusion from our daughter and watery eyes from me.  This is the first time a child has approached this subject so openly and honestly.

Our son looked at me and said, “Do I Mom?  Do I have special needs?”

I explained to all the littles that we all have things about us that are unique and that we all have challenges.  New friend was sweet and wide eyed and told us her friend back in Birmingham has ticks.  Connection made.  Dude explained his Tourettes and ADHD without blinking and ran off, joy oozing. When we met sweet girl’s parents, Dude lead with, “Hi, I have special needs!”  Bam.  There it is, hanging right out there with no qualms or shame.  Because it was approached with no qualms or shame.  It just was.  Bama girl is part of the 50% who get it.  The people who SEE him rather than seeing through him.

Our six year old daughter walks into a room and charms.  Her blond locks, laced with expensive looking strawberry highlights draw your attention first.  She makes eye contact, quietly greets, and proceeds to act like a typical 6 year old would.  We don’t think twice about bringing her into a public space or a new crowd.  Our ten year old son walks into a room and is immediately out of sorts.  His blond locks and crystal blues draw people in, but a breath later, when he doesn’t make eye contact, walks past people briskly, and calls out something unexpected and off topic, we lose half our onlookers.  50% of the people we interact with on a day to day basis disregard our oldest blondie as “rude” or “unrelatable.”  We see it every day.

Our dude WILL look the other way when you talk to him.  He WILL avoid your gaze and maybe even turn his back while you broach conversation.  Our dude will NOT answer your questions with grace and ease.  He cant.  He needs a hot minute to process what you just said and by the time that happens, you’ve lost him.  He WILL whine if things don’t happen the way he expects them to because he doesn’t see other perspectives.  He WILL give you his teeth clenched angry face when you negate what he wants to do or when he wants to do it.  He gets past that in 2.5 seconds, but that moment looks defiant if you choose to see it that way.  If you patiently draw his interest and get his eye balls, even for a second, he might flip a switch and direct his attention your way.  If you use language that shows respect and kindness you’ll see those mirrored back.  If you disregard him and assume he’s being rude, he’ll be rude right back.  It’s black and white with our son.  What he feels is what you get.  What you dish out, he dishes right back.

What you intrinsically feel toward him, he extrinsically feels back.  There’s no confusion on his part.  He knows people.  And he knows almost immediately what 50% you belong to.  As does his Mama.

 

50% of this world see him as an awesome little mind capable of unique thinking they want to dive into.  50% love his off topic comments about the world and long to draw those thoughts out further.  50% are able to set aside the quirks that come across not so attractive and move forward with understanding and grace.  The other half don’t.  They get annoyed and assume things that break my heart.  The other 50% stare or avoid my gaze with underlining thoughts I can read through their gaze.  Thoughts I have to put aside for my own sanity and self confidence as his mother.  The other 50% give up and offer phrases like, “It’s just not a fit” or “He just won’t listen and comply.”  Those phrases have become commonplace at our house, gaining in frequency as he gets older, to the point that we have to assume them when walking into new situations. These 50% don’t see that holding little people like our son accountable for their behavior is a giant feet.  Because they aren’t able to see their choices as the world sees them.  We can’t discipline reactions out of him.  Rewards and consequences are futile.  50% will never comprehend these truths.  50% will.  Most of the time, this isn’t anyone’s “fault.”  They’re not bad humans.  We don’t carry ill will.  But we DO have to recognize the existence of the two camps.

As parents of a little human who will inevitably get along with 50% of his world, we ebb and flow in grappling with daily choices.  Who do we spend time with?  Who gets him and offers abundant grace?  How do we tackle teachers who see through him? (we might even be crazy enough to pull him and home school). Where do we vacation and who can vacation alongside us sans judgement and getting overwhelmed?  How do we choose extracurriculars with people who value his presence?  They do exist, but it takes an exorbitant amount of endurance and research to find them. And equal amounts to stick with it and venture through the bumps.  Bumps are part of the game.  Every day.  The people we keep close understand this and see him clearly.  See us clearly.  Those who don’t?  We don’t hold hostility, but we don’t have space to invest in how they fit into our world.  They can’t fit.  They’re not safe for our little human, which makes them unsafe for us as a family.  It’s not our job to enlighten and educate and its taken me years to reach that conclusion.  It IS our job to pave a productive way for our family and to grow and adjust in that journey.  That’s job enough friends.

I do want to gently note and encourage that switching camps is possible.  Seeing people rather than seeing through them is something we can all strive for.  On so many levels.  I had no choice but to switch camps when I was gifted this intricate little man.  Living it will do that naturally, but so many gifted writers and teachers long to educate and aid people looking to join the 50% who see people like our son.  There’s an endless supply of insightful and enlightening books about every topic under the sun that deserve more attention in our lives.  These books live at Amazon.  A click and 2 night delivery away.  What if we all picked ONE?  Myself included.  Because actually seeing each other will do this planet a world of good.

 

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So Much More Than Poo

Baby Changing Table maybe not this big but could make up one as an addition to the center as Happening now when I have the new baby: We learned a lot about poo in our parenting classes.  How to change diapers, all the diaper options, how to wipe, how to handle rashes.  We were solid on poo and how much of it we were about to encounter.  We also learned CPR and got real serious about finding the perfect pediatrician.  What else was there to know?  It was a tiny non-speaking human.  We would figure it out.  PEOPLE.  Let’s talk about what these parenting classes should be passing along to eager, bright eyed, bushy tailed, open eared parents-to-be.  Ten years in, these are the highlights I would have benefited from in Parenting 101: The Early Years.

  1. Your best friends might encourage you, from the very bottom of their hearts, to start smoking pot.  And their intentions will be 100% pure and valid.
  2. If you happen to hit the baby jackpot, teeth awakenings will be sweet and clap worthy.  You’ll develop the parent clap.  It’s not a normal clap.  If you’re NOT one of the lucky few, teething will sucker punch you in the parenting face.  For one very long year.
  3. Control is no longer a thing.  Hand it over and start Yoga.  Weekly yoga.  Become one with your loss of control early.
  4.  Until your children hit the golden age of 2, the shoulders of every item of clothing you own will be peppered with white crispies.  When examining clothing for the laundry, always check your shoulder first.  Avoid black.
  5. Place an inexpensive rug in your nursery, directly in front of the chair in which you will feed your child.  You will replace this rug at least twice by the time your child outgrows the crib.  It will be wet most of the time, so wear thick socks.
  6. You will suck at parenting so many of your minutes.  And the next minute you’ll transform into mom of the freaking year.  Embrace it.  All of it.  Especially the mom of the year moments.
  7. A boy plays on an artwork made of unwanted toys at the solo exhibition of Japanese artist Hiroshi Fuji, known for his creations that recycle unwanted toys and waste materials, in Tokyo September 6, 2012. More than 100,000 unwanted toys collected by social groups across Japan for the past 13 years were used in the exhibition. Called "Central Kaeru Station - where have all these toys come from?", the exhibition runs until Sunday. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon: If you close your eyes for 17 seconds, your once tidy and peaceful home will be littered with plastic.  So much plastic.  Primary colored plastic.  Big plastic.  Noisy plastic.  The plastic will multiply like Creeping Myrtle. Beware.
  8. You were created to be your own person.  A uniquely made human with passions, gifts, emotions, hormones, relationships, needs, a body to cloth and feed….becoming a parent does NOT wipe those things from your existence.  Pay attention to them.  You were not born to be MOM to your people.  You were born to be YOU FOR them.
  9. The grocery store – correction – all the stores – will become battle zones.  Marketing jerks put grenades at the bottom of every shelf with intention.  These are evil child hungry grenades.  Keep your children high and occupied.  Enter all stores ready for battle.  Hand sanitizer, an apologetic Mom face, new and exciting toys or books, and gym shoes.  And maybe a little Kahlua in your coffee mug.  That will inevitably spill.
  10.  Life is going to get loud my friend.  The type of noise I’m referring to is not noise that can be explained.  It lives in the air surrounding them.  The noise looms at various levels, but it’s always there.  The noise changes as they age, but be clear about the constant presence of this noise.  When the noise deadens, close your mother loving eyes and bask in it.  Memorize it.  Swallow it.  And pull it up when your head is on the verge of exploding.
  11. Purchase a plush, welcoming rug and blanket and place them in your largest closest.  Anthro haAnthropologie Aldalora Throw: s delicious blankets ladies.  Worth the $120. You might find yourself visiting said closet from time to time seeking refuge. No shame.  Walk out of that closet with your head held high.  An internal lock will eventually become necessary.
  12.  The little monkeys you’re raising will light up corners of your heart you didn’t know existed.  They will challenge you in ways you didn’t know could be challenged.  They will uncover your very best and your very worst self.  And everything in-between.  These monkeys will grow you up real fast and change your priorities. Your world will change in color, shape, and texture.  You will succumb to their irresistible antics and find yourself doing and saying things that would mortify your old self.  And you won’t care.  Not one bit.  Parenting 101 should, at minimum, teach us all this.
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Two Hands

We pulled into Caroline and Mark’s driveway in our boxy blue Volvo that morning.  I couldn’t tell you what we talked about during that 20 minute car ride.  A lot of nothing.  What do you say when you’re about to lay eyes on your baby boy, 3 weeks new?  What do you say when the past few years of struggle and longing and anger and hoping are about the unfold in an instant? When your journey is about to alter in ways your eager and naive selves have no way of predicting?  I don’t know what we talked about, but when we saw Caroline standing in her driveway, holding a little bundle we knew was our son, we parked that Volvo and carefully b-lined toward that sleeping bundle.  Caroline was teary – handing someone their long awaited child will do that I suppose. We stared at him, I held him to my chest, and he was ours.  That instant, 10 years ago, altered who we would become, truths we didn’t know to be true, love we had yet to reveal, growth we couldn’t have anticipated needing, patience we hadn’t needed to muster, advocacy we didn’t know was in us, heartache foreign to our existence, joy unfounded, and faith in a God we didn’t yet know .

He’s 10 today.  Two whole hands.  Double digits.  That day in the driveway of his foster family wasn’t his birthday, but it’s the story I can tell of the beginning of his journey into our fold.  The day his blue eyes met mine and I vowed to be his mom.  I smile at that version of myself.  She was in control and confident.  She wore rose colored glasses and assumed life was predictable and sweet. She didn’t understand trauma or struggle or grace.  To be fair, she didn’t understand her own infertility or the deep caverns of adoption.  She was a version of who I am today.  So much of me now is a result of that little blue eyed bundle.  So many of my passions and dreams and the fight in me are because of him.  For him.  A result of him. God knew the kind of mom I would become and He knew the path I would need to take to become her.  He had plans for our son and I was to be his Mom before he entered this world.  This I’m sure.

Happy 10th birthday my little bundle.  I can’t imagine the mom you’ll bring out in me as I walk you through the next 10.

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Back to Where We Started

When you’re as hard headed and motivated as I am, it takes a bit of time to find answers on “all the things.”  It takes oodles of time to learn what others could have told you plain and simple. Because people like me have to live it, breathe it, struggle through it, fail at it, grow in it, and find conclusions based on all those experiences.  When you’re as hard headed and motivated as I am, you have to learn and expand so you can help others do the same.  Because you’ve explored every single freaking option out there and beat to death resources near and far.  Once you’ve completed every ride at the theme park, you walk away with appreciation and insight that only could have been gained by riding up and down and all around.  And around.  And around.  And it’s worth it in the end.  Until you realize that there is no official end.  Just crossroads.

I blame Sir Ken Robinson for the educational roller coaster we’ve traversedthe past couple years.  He motivated me into believing, firmly believing, that there has to be a better way of educating our kids, especially those who fall outside the box.  Like my Dude.  Sir believes in transforming standardized educational practices and customizing learning based on who kids are and what their passions are.  I read his book, watched his TED Talks, followed people who are like minded and got on BOARD.  My heart was on board.  I wanted in – for both our kids.  We researched, spoke to admissions counselors, toured, applied, shadowed….so many schools, so many hours spent, so much heartbreak.  There are a handful of schools that do things Ken’s way.  A handful who are ahead of the trends and innovative in their thinking.  Bless those few, but their arms aren’t necessarily ready to embrace students who need resources and strategies and support.  For the high functioning students who need much.  And the private, Christian schools in our area? Not even close.  One shows glints of trying and for that I’ll hold out hope.

After our relentless searching, where did we end up?  Right back where we started.  

Where God has been encouraging us to stay all along.  In our public school.  After this semester of home schooling, which has been fantastic for our son, but not so dreamy for his mother, we will be back at our public school.  It’s not a Ken Robinson school.  It’s not innovative or customized to who our son is.  It’s not so many of the things I thought were most important.  But here’s what it IS.  It’s safe.  It’s up to speed on who our son is and what his needs are.  They understand him and support him in every way they can.  They communicate and support us as his parents.  They welcome us,no questions asked. And they won’t empty our bank account.  Turns out, those are the attributes we need most right now.  I wouldn’t have known this before the cluster of the past 2 years, but I feel secure in that.  There is no such thing as a perfect fit.  Or even an ideal fit. Finding what matters most is the journey we were navigating.  I thought I knew and I fought fiercely for the wrong things.  Or maybe the things that weren’t attainable.  I was reaching too high. Ken’s dream for education is possible and changes are being made.  We’re just not there yet.

When you’re trying to find a fit for your out of the box kiddo, expect rejection.  And learn to not take it personally.  Learn to roll with it and know that your very uniquely created child requires more than most educational institutions can offer.  Most often it’s not because they don’t care – they just don’t know.  They just don’t have the tools.  Yet.  Public schools, by design, are outfitted to walk with out of the box kiddos.  Unfortunately, their dedication and abilities range from school to school, so even this is a journey.  Finding the “right” public school takes work.  A school that doesn’t focus first on test scores, welcomes kiddos who are out of the box, and a principal who looks at kids for the individuals they are…that’s what you look for.  And thank God, that’s what we were handed.  For now, that’s going to have to be enough.

 

I would be happy to walk through your educational theme park if you’re feeling lost and frustrated.  Information on over the phone or in person coaching can be found HERE.

Subscribe for 5 Questions to Ask when choosing a school for your out of the box kiddo.

 

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My Wednesday Night Sandy Lagoon

I was laying in a white lounge chair at the end of a row of 5 pregnant women.  The woman next to me was a sweet sweet friend from church, her head cocked toward mine in anticipation.  The others were strangers to me. There was powdery, white sand under the edge of our chairs and a motionless, crystal blue lagoon ahead.  The water lapped with the fierceness of a week old puppy.  We were encased by a cave of protection.  I couldn’t take my eyes off the lush greenery around us and was overcome by the blessing of being in the space.

Leading the women and our stoically quiet husbands to the sRelated imageandy calm was a guide with dark brown hair, pulled back with a strand spilling onto the left side of her face.  She navigated us through hallways of corporate nothingness and then through crowds of human chaos.  Our daughter was there in the chaos crying out with a skinned knee.  She reached for me and I swooped her into my arms, over a bulged belly.  I made it better and she was gone.

Once in our chairs, this faceless leader stood, ankle deep in the blue, and spoke confidently about the plan.  The doctor would arrive shortly and would deliver all the babies in one fell swoop.  The natural, holistic medications they had given all the women the week before were preparing our bodies for this moment.  My sweet sweet friend looked at me with calm irritation and explained that neither of us had been present for this magic medication and therefore would likely not deliver that day.  I knew she was right.  But, despite my initial feelings of shock and wonder at my pregnant state, I became aware that my bulging belly wasn’t ready to deliver.  It wasn’t half as big as the other bellies.  And I explained to her that I hadn’t felt any contractions or kicking from my baby.  She was surprised and I started doubting.  I started acknowledging the truth of my pregnant state.

The doctor arrived and my friend looked at me with a twinkle in her eyes.  The twinkle of a woman knowing she would soon give birth.  I couldn’t find the twinkle in myself.  The doctor was handsome and smiled with his eyes.  I looked at him and knew he wouldn’t be attending to me the way he would to the other women.  In that moment of clarity, strong hands massaged my shoulders.  Tim was with me, but the hands weren’t his.  As the man, whose face I didn’t ever see, massaged, I knew my baby wasn’t going to meet this world.  I would leave childless.  Speaking those words aloud wasn’t possible, but my deep insides knew.  My heart starting cracking.  And I woke up.

That was this morning.  6:00am woke me with a jolt and I whispered a small piece of my dream to a half sleeping Tim.  I lifted myself out of bed and closed the closet door to get dressed for my morning gym routine.  As I blindly fumbled for a t-shirt, the weight of what happened in that protective lagoon dominated all of me.  I looked down at my flat stomach and sobbed. I grieved a dream that wasn’t real.  But it was.  As I stood in the closet, with Tim eventually discovering my mess and holding me from behind, I knew just how real it was.  For both of us.  Tim didn’t tell me it was okay.  He didn’t encourage me to go spinning and plug through.   He knows it’s not okay.  It just IS.

For all of us in our varying degrees of struggle, those are the moments that sneak up and remind us.  They don’t visit often, but when they do, it’s unexpected and raw.  They prevent us from burying, which is perhaps God’s role.  By design, God knows burying will bring despair and He would rather us welcome sadness for what it is and recognize its importance for healing and forward movement.  We’re learning to embrace the sadness and give ourselves grace when it overpowers.  Because when we do that, the goodness flows back in and fills us again.  And if we welcome it, we might just feel the strong hands of an all knowing Father massaging our pain.

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