Monday, January 14, 2013

Aiming for a Sassy-Saucy 2013

sas·sy

1 [sas-ee] 
adjective, sas·si·er, sas·si·est. Informal .
1.
impertinent; insolent; saucy: a sassy reply; a sassy teen.
2.
pert; boldly smart; saucy: a sassy red handbag.



Like my new boots?  I call them my sassy boots!  It's the weirdest thing--put them on and I walk out of the house with way more spunk and a twinkle in my eye that says I'm out to have some fun.  

 

sau·cy

[saw-see] 
adjective, sau·ci·er, sau·ci·est.
1.
impertinent; insolent: a saucy remark; a saucy child.
2.
pert; boldly smart: a saucy little hat for Easter.

 
Doesn't this sauce look yummy?  I made it from scratch, with more kick and zip than ever before.  It's the weirdest thing--took a bite and spent the night offering zestier, saucier comments.

They all five came home for Christmas, and brought just the right amount of sass and sauce.  By Jan 3 four out of five scattered to the winds.  Now it's way too quiet and not as zesty.  Better wear my boots 24/7 and keep plenty of sauce in the freezer.

Hope you find healthy amounts of sass and sauce in 2013. 





Friday, January 11, 2013

2013 - Authenticity Happens

Growing up I went to church twice every Sunday and called myself a Christian--so did everyone else I knew.  I grew up with a host of verbal or nonverbal maxims and rules that were routinely communicated or implied...
  • Don't express those nasty things like anger or jealousy or self-doubt or meanness or unkindness.  Ever.  Ever.  Those nasties are always bad, bad, bad.  Always.
  • There are Biblical rights and wrongs.  When you do something wrong, think something wrong, say something wrong--cover it up, pretend it doesn't exist.
  • Gossip is a sin/wrong, but expressing "concern" about someone's bad behavior or turning hearsay into a prayer request is a great way to get around the whole gossip deal.  Plus, gossip is part of life and much less a big deal than the BIG sins. 
  • All Christians need to look and act much the same way since they're all supposed to live according to the words in the Bible and how we church-goers/Christians interpret them.
  • If you ever blurt out something sassy or impertinent, make sure you take it back and apologize 'cause it's wrong to say sassy stuff or question authority.
  • Never use bad words in public.  Public includes extended family 'cause it's not Christian to cuss or swear.  Ever. 
  • If you think a bad word you better feel really really really sorry about it 'cause it's wrong and bad and ugly.
  • Women should be submissive.  Submissive = kind/nice/sweet.  Women are not supposed to be bossy or sassy or loud.
  • Committing really bad sins (sex outside marriage, divorce, drugs, drunkenness, stealing, telling BIG lies, etc...) automatically places you on a path to hell even if you hear lots of sermons on how you get to heaven by faith and grace alone.  (You find this out by listening to plenty of church-going people around you talk about those who are committing one of these big sins...)
Now before you start judging my extended family and putting all Christians into the same judge-y box, let me tell you why I'm writing this post today, January 11.  Not because I need to vent about my family of origin.  Not because I want to feed the anti-Christian fodder or add to all the Christian stereotypes that perpetually get thrown around.  Not, not, not...  NOPE.

The maxims/rules I have believed  for 52 years are the tapes replaying in my head because my little-girl self watched and listened and learned and interpreted my growing-up world through my own filters.  And my first-born daughter filters were all about nice and perfectionism and pleasing people.  When I heard angry, judgmental, unkind words at home that didn't get spoken outside our walls, I decided that either we were the only Christian family who had problems or that I needed to work harder to make our family happy and sweet and kind like Christians should be.  When I received a disapproving look I determined to be a kinder/nicer person so that I wouldn't be the one judged or yelled at or whispered about or wounded.  When I thought a feisty thought or spoke sassy words I judged myself to be out-of-line with where I needed to be.  When I overheard telephone gossip or whispers or judgmental statements I developed a rigid definition of what Christians were supposed to be and not be.  And I wanted to match my own definition.  And I think I connected growing in faith to growing in niceness and nice-ability and being what I had defined a Christian to be.

If I'm being honest I spent way too many earlier years making sure to say the right things, the nice things--what I thought were the loving things.  I've put a lot of my internal sassy/saucy thoughts through my nice filter and let them come out sugar-coated in what I hoped were loving Christian words.

In my younger years I thought the Christian journey was a climb up Mount Nicer-and-Kinder-Than-Yesterday. 

But then life happened.  College happened.  Marriage happened.  Feisty girl-friends happened.  My parents' divorce happened.  Counseling happened.  Raising five completely different personalities happened.  Losses happened.  Shit happened.  (See, it's still hard to put honest words out there.  Be patient with me.)

As my adult life has unfolded I've realized that on the inside I'm a strong and feisty and opinionated and bossy and sassy and loud woman sometimes.  I've questioned God, doubted God, screamed at God.  I've tasted bitterness, pride, envy, deceit, anger, and cruelty.  I've thought and spoken words I never thought I'd think or say.  I've done things I never thought I'd do.  So have the church-goers around me. 

I've learned that it's possible to experience truth without love, but it's impossible to experience love without telling the truth.

I agree with Abilene (LOVE the movie The Help!); everyone of us needs to hear her message over and over again:  You is kind.  You is smart.  You is important.  But I'm also admitting that I don't always think and say kind words.  I don't always think and do the smart thing.  I don't always bring importance or value to each person's life.  Neither is anyone else always kind, smart, or important (by adding value to another's life) 24/7, including all those who self-identify as Christians.  I'm learning to admit that all human beings sometimes think and say unkind things, behave foolishly, and become consumed with adding value to our own lives.

Now I think the journey to follow Christ is a climb up Mount Authentic Love. 

I believe each person's mission is to love well.  Undoubtedly we will not always love well.  We will mess it up.  After all, We're all just bozos on this bus.  As long as we admit that we're not always kind, we're not always, smart, and we're not always adding value to another's life, we'll keep on bumbling along and giving it our best shot--trying to love well as best we each know how with what we've each been given.

I'm not sorry that I grew up with the values I did or even the hypocrisy that I witnessed.  I've realized that we all drop life through the filters we do for the reasons that we do.  We're all just bozos on this bus.  Meanwhile, if we try to love as best we are able and give as best we are able and follow Christ as best we are able, we will step up a bit higher and extend a hand to our climbing partner.  Sometimes our honesty will drag someone a few steps backward, but that's ok.  Love needs truth in order to move forward.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Love Letter to Myself - Odd, I Know

Dear Dawn,
I've noticed how much you're using self-talk lately, so I thought it was time to write yourself a letter--maybe it's time for some written self-talk that you'll be able to read again and again.  Perhaps you need to take your own whispered words of encouragement and place them on a computer screen.  Feel free to read this post whenever you need a boost.  Repetition, repetition, repetition.   Listen.

First, it's time to examine a few of your core beliefs, what you believe about humanity.  It's about time.  But it's also time to see whether you're living as though each truth is real for you personally. 'Cause if you're not livin' it for yourself then you're really not believin' it at all, are you?

Belief #1 - Human beings are deeply beautiful.  The older we get, the more we're supposed to unearth, discover and lean into our beauty.  You, Dawn, are beautiful.

You are a beautiful woman.  You and I both know I'm not talking about outward beauty--at age 52 who needs to spend much time focused on that (when you wake up to new facial and body surprises on a daily basis)!  Admitting to your inward beauty does not make you proud or vain.  After all, you didn't create yourself (and you happen to believe that God created each person, created you.)  So--thank God--you're beautiful.  

Belief #2, part a - Human beings are deeply flawed (a.k.a., messed up).  You, Dawn, are deeply flawed.

Ok, so you've always believed this one, right?  Yup.  Always.  And it hasn't been hard to live this truth.  In fact, it's been easy to wear this one.

Belief #2, part b - Human beings are deeply forgiven and need to forgive themselves.  You, Dawn, are deeply forgiven and need to keep forgiving yourself.

I know, this one's much hard to lean into and it's taken your lifetime to live into it.  But I think you're getting closer and closer to really embracing that you are deeply forgiven (by God, and often by others).  I'm hopeful, really hopeful.  The past several years I've watched you beat yourself up less when you screw it up and make a mess of things.  I've noticed you're much less likely to wallow in self-abasement or hang on to all your stupid mistakes as though they were who you are.  You're actually starting to lighten up on yourself and forgive yourself when you realize that you've stepped in it again (and yet again).  You're finally extending yourself grace on a regular basis--you're wearing forgiveness instead of blame and self-deprecation.  I like the way it looks on you!

Belief #3 - Human beings are deeply, unconditionally loved as we are (warts and all).  Dawn, you are deeply, unconditionally loved as you are (warts and all).

This one's been a hard sell too.  You've had outside factors fighting against your own desire to believe this one.  It's hard.

Ever since you were a girl you've been taught that God loves you unconditionally and absolutely.  Your parents told you the same thing, We'll always love you no matter what.  But even though you still believe in the love of your invisible God, you've spent a lifetime being conditionally loved by your visible others and the culture around you.  You've watched all those commercials and the media's given you it's own version of the truth:  Outward beauty matters.  Do more, be more, don't say this, don't do that.  You won't be quite enough unless...

Even your family members and friends sometimes gave you more conditional love than they intended.  They didn't mean to communicate that you were a disappointment or let you know that they were pulling away.  Sometimes they pulled away because of their own stuff and not your's, yet you still received this message:  I'm not enough.  They'd love me more if I was more.

Finally, in these weird, hard, middle-aged perimenopausal and menopausal years, you've realized it's time to accept and live the truth...

Belief #4 - Human beings have a deep capacity to love, but none of us will ever love perfectly.  Dawn, you have a deep capacity to love, but you will never love perfectly and neither will any other person around you (though once-in-a-while they'll come pretty darn close and it will be amazing).

You've spent a lifetime with this secret counter-belief (even kept a secret from yourself):  Some day someone will love me completely and unconditionally, and I will know it and feel it and receive it, and it will be incredible.  So, it's time to tell your secret, Dawn--to admit that you've been looking and waiting and longing for a perfect kind of human love that will never be realized in this lifetime.

It's also time to tell your other secret belief:  I'm supposed to love myself and others perfectly and I have to and I will if I keep at it long enough.  There will come a day when I'm loving well and never letting anyone down.  I will not ever be a perfect person, but I will love everyone around me unconditionally.  Now, even as I'm telling your secrets, Dawn, I'm aware that you kept yourself in the dark and didn't even know you believed either of these to be true.  But you did.  You really did.  You've been deeply disappointed, sometimes devastated, because you've secretly believed that some day THE PERFECT HUMAN LOVE would be there and it would wash over you and around you and through you and would remain firmly in place for the rest of your life.

Funny thing about bringing these secrets out in the open where it's light:  The words look and sound as ridiculous as they are, and you wonder how you believed them for so long.  Duh.

I know that you're transitioning into a new phase of life, and the changes around you seem odd, unnatural.  Often you'd like your family back under your roof or at least right next door.  You alternate between loving and hating this season of change--sometimes several times a day!

Be gentle with yourself.  Take care of yourself.  Embrace change.  Lean into new experiences, new sensations.  Focus on what you have instead of what you're missing.  Spend more time with the invisible; I'm glad you still believe.

Dawn, you are a deeply beautiful, flawed, forgiven, loved woman.  Though you nor any other human being will be able to love perfectly, I see in you a deep capacity to love yourself and others.  

I love you,
Dawn






Saturday, September 8, 2012

Remembering Anna's Jack


Still no words...  Simply oodles and caboodles of LOVE and PRAYERS for Anna, Tim, and Margaret today.  Please join them in remembering their precious, beautiful, wonderful Jack.  Or, post your hand photo of Jack's name here

Friday, July 6, 2012

No Words

Since my last post about being on the verge of a butterfly summer, the words have dried up and I've tucked right back inside my chrysalis.  What's up with that?!  I wish I knew.

But yesterday I went for lunch with a new friend.  Our conversation wasn't awkward or surface-level or banterish; instead, we cut right to the chase and began to ask each other reflective questions, those soul-searching kinds of questions that might get asked between close friends with a long history together.  What's weird is that we didn't mind one another's probing questions; in fact, we seemed to give each other unspoken permission to invade our private lives and our pain--not the kind of new-friend lunch that happens every day.  I don't think either of us wanted to return to work, and we took far longer than the middle-of-a-work-day-lunch should take.

As I'm writing this I realize that lunches like this one/new friendships like this--these are butterfly moments.  Oh, I didn't think about that during lunch or even last night, and when I returned to work the moment disappeared--I felt completely unbutterfly-ish at work or at home later in the day.  Butterfly?  Not yet, not so much.  

My lunch with this beautiful new friend offers me hope--hope that this new season in my life will bring new shades of color, new variety of flowers, old and new get-real friends who know how to cut through all the surface crap and connect easily, effortlessly.

There's one more butterfly moment.  When my new friend and I walked up to the cash register to pay, there was a child's placemat (they provide crayons at each table) taped to the back of the register...


Profound, deep, hours worth of pondering...  I love this child, whoever you are, wherever you are.  Thank you...

Everything works out in the end.  If it hasn't worked out, it's not the end.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

It's Going to be a Butterfly Summer


I think I may be on the verge of a butterfly summer...


My babies are almost grown.  Some of them have flown long-distances and settled into ridiculously far off lands like Minnesota and Michigan and Alaska.  This summer one of our offspring has dared to soar off to New Zealand!  Even our two babies living at home will not be here much longer--they're beginning to stretch their wings and flap around, all warning us that they're approaching lift-off sooner rather than later.  Yikes--maybe I should duct-tape them to their chairs around the dinner table?!

This past week I've been doing a lot of thinking about my current sadness.  I keep wondering why I'm hitting walls of grief and loss, even while I'm having fun or feeling excited or enjoying some wonderful friends and pre-summer-time experiences.

Honestly, I'm still completely flummoxed by this whole almost-empty nest stage of life.  Who am I when I'm not a part of my children's daily lives?  Who am I when they're busy creating their own homes and my home is now a place they only visit?  

These past few years, to some degree, I've been like a caterpillar tucked inside a chrysalis after I've tried to molt, desperately trying to shed some of my mama-skin and experience life as only me--not just someone's Mom.  Ouch.  The new, exposed layer of skin felt raw, alien, vulnerable. 

Best just to fold into myself, forming a protective chrysalis while I ponder my future life, I thought.  So I did.   Some days I've sat curled up inside my chrysalis-walls and trembled with excitement just to think of all the fun days ahead when I might emerge and flit about as a beautiful butterfly.  Maybe, on some of these trembling-with-excitement days I even peeked through my cocoon's cracks in the wall just to see which flowers I wanted to visit first when I emerged.  

On other days I sat inside my self-made, protective envelope and trembled with confusion, certain that without my babies by my side, my family still at home, I'd be a pathetically-weak butterfly with wet wings, too confused to fly.

Lately, though, there's been a subtle shift inside my chrysalis...  The trembling-with-excitement days are beginning to outnumber the trembling-with-confusion days.  This once-a-mama-always-a-mama is unearthing her core self--the woman who existed long before she devoted herself to creating home for her babies.

Then tonight husband and I had a magical conversation with our young-adult son, the one who lives with us and is hinting that it may be time to find his own nest.  Husband and I voiced our thoughts on one of the options he's considering, and Aaron listened. well.  This very-smart, fun young man responded to our opinions with respect, honor, affection, and I think that we offered him the same in return.  There were a few stressful moments between husband and son, but they worked it through and both came out with a clearer understanding.  We were three adults having an honest discussion around the dinner table--I'm not going to speak for C & A (though I have before), but I loved the real dialogue.

As I followed our 23-yr-old into the kitchen where he began doing the dishes, I hesitantly offered him one last piece of advice:  Aaron, this is a big decision you're making.  You've said that sometimes you feel easily swayed by the opinions of those you love.  You're trying to find your own way, your own voice, so maybe it would help to spend a Saturday hiking by yourself in the mountains.  Spending time alone in nature (with God), asking yourself some honest questions about what you really want, tuning out cell phones and the voices of others, may just allow you to focus on your own voice (and God's voice).

Here comes the magical part of our conversation.  Aaron looked me in the eye, nodded, and said, That's a great suggestion. A really good idea.  Thank you.   

And I realized that I hadn't given him my advice as a mom, even though I will always be his mom.  I gave the advice as his friend, albeit his slightly older and very mom-like friend--who may be able to offer a worthwhile suggestion every now and then.  Adult to adult.

Slowly, I'm realizing that there is a butterfly within this chrysalis.  I'm sensing it's time to open my woman-wings, dry them out, flit around the flowers, and land in soft places where there's hope and there's beauty.  It's always a good thing to discover or rediscover one's wings, and this summer seems like the perfect time to emerge.  It's going to be a butterfly summer.
 

Friday, June 8, 2012

He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not, He Loves Me

Whether I want to or not, it's back to walls and bricks.  It's back to demolition.


He loves me.  He loves me not.

I say the words I love you to my husband several times a day; I suppose it's a good thing to say those words frequently.  He says them to me as well.  At the end of a phone conversation, I love you.  Before we go to sleep, I love you.  Right before we each go to work, I love you. 

It's hard to say I love you when I'm angry or hurt.  Sometimes I've refused to say it, and I'm pretty sure I withheld those words as a punishment of sorts--though I hate admitting it.  Or, it's too hard to say I love you 'cause I'm not about to be vulnerable right now, thank you very much.

You hurt me, Husband.  I'm pissed off at you.  I don't feel loving toward you.  I will not say that I love you--you do not deserve to hear these words.  And don't bother saying those words to me.  You do not mean them.  You love me not.

Last night Husband reacted to a funny story I was relaying about our dog, and he said something not-so-nice about her--my beloved darlin', gorgeous dog.  Somehow--and I hate to admit this--I found myself hurt by his comment.  Here's the embarassing monologue that ran through my head:  How could you say such a mean thing when you know I consider her to be part of the family?  Why would you say that, Husband, when you can hear how happy I am as I relay this story?  Why would you burst my happy bubble--again??  Why can't you love our dog because I love our dog and every one of our kids loves the dog? 

And then, right then, I plopped a huge brick on top of my keep-Husband-out-of-my-heart-because-it-hurts-too-much-wall.  

Maybe it's helping to write here about walls and bricks, to own the fact that I'm a wall-builder.  Because as I staggered under the weight of this brick, I could almost picture myself making the wall higher--which meant I needed to stop, lift off and put down (not drop it on my toe) the brick, and think about whether I really freakin' wanted A HIGHER WALL...?

So as I laid in bed unable to sleep, once again, it hit me like a brick.  I have trust issues when it comes to husband.  Duh.  I trust more in my girlfriends' love, my children's love, other family members' love, God's love, than I do in my own Husband's love for me.  I keep defaulting back to self-protective mode.  Ouch.  Sad.  Silly.  

Thirty-one years later and he's still here, still doing so many things right, and I'm still living in this lame, pathetic mode.

So when husband criticizes someone or something I'm passionate about and love like crazy, I keep reverting back to these warped thought patterns:  You, husband, cannot possibly care about me or love me deeply if you're willing to slam the people, animals, things I love right in front of me.  You are purposefully trying to belittle who I am and all that's important to me.  You don't really understand/get me at all.  How could you?

I know.  It's not pretty inside my head.  My thought-tapes get stuck and I keep hitting rewind and thinking the same destructive-to-my-marriage thoughts over and over again.  Why, why why...?  Because, because, because...

But there's hope, there's lots and lots and lots of hope.  

Back to last night when I couldn't sleep, when it hit me like a brick...   Once again I'm not trusting in his love for me.  And I'm taking his own opinions and his own perspectives and his own issues far too personally.  

It's time to create new thought-tapes, new patterns...  His not liking our dog has absolutely nothing to do with me.  Duh.  Whether or not I feel wounded or hurt, he loves me.  Whether or not I desperately wish that he would embrace my passions and loves, he loves me.  Whether or not he inadvertently steps in a land-mine (and there are plenty of explosives buried here and there), he loves me.  Whether or not he pisses me off to the moon and back, he loves me.  Whether or not he uses the right love language to express how he loves me, he. still. loves. me.

We have lived together for 31 years and he's never even hinted at wanting to ditch me (even when he's been obviously angry with me, embarrassed by me, frustrated with me...), so either he's an incredible actor (NOT), or he really, really, really still loves me.  Duh. 

It's time to change the thought-tape that says, He loves me, he loves me not, and it's time to refuse to hit the rewind or default button.  That's why I put these embarrassing thoughts out here in blog-o-sphere, so you'll hold me accountable.  And maybe you'll have your own thought-tapes to edit/destroy, your own walls to tear down?  Maybe not.

No matter what I write about Husband and marriage and bricks and our __________, know this, please, please, please:  Do not judge husband when I relay our junk.  Husband is faithful.  Husband is a gift from God in my life.  Husband and I are just a couple of bozos on this bus together, and we've been riding this frickin-rickety bus for 31 years, and we're trying to stop having the same ________ break-downs!  I love Husband so much it hurts.  We're a pretty swingin' couple.  Hmmmmm...

And Husband loves me.  He loves me.  He loves me.  He loves me not.  Oops.  He loves me.  He loves me!