Friday, July 24, 2015

The White Feather

Chaos reigned the last few weeks. Chaos showed up and tried to steal my hope and pollute my dreams. And because I am human and flawed and sometimes full of doubt and fear, I almost gave in to the darkness. I almost forgot it is up to me to bring calm to the chaos. Yesterday, as I coughed and hacked my way through a long and hot walk, I decided I just couldn’t take all of the hard anymore. I drove home, hopped in the shower, and let the floodgates of pain open and pour down the drain. And as I cried I asked why. Why does this life have to be so hard? Why does it always feel like I am ten steps behind even though I hit the ground running every single morning? Why does it feel like my heart breaks more than it swells? The tears finally stopped and I turned off the shower. I felt better, but didn’t feel any magic answers or loud intuitive callings. I just felt a bit of relief. Belle needed to go outside, of course, so I put on some leggings and a t-shirt and prepared to take her outside. And as I opened the door, a tiny, white feather flew inside and landed smack in my lap, right on my black leggings so I could see it, clear as day. A long time ago, when darkness was all I knew, I chose a feather as my spirit sign. Whenever I doubted or feared or even wondered, I asked for a sign I was on the right path or making the right choices, and within days a feather would show up on the ground or in the air or on the hood of my car. 

I didn’t ask for a sign yesterday. It just showed up and flew in my door into my lap. The feather wasn’t an answer to a specific question, but more a reminder that yes, life will kick me in the ass more times than I would like and these kicks will keep happening. Trying to figure out why is it so hard is an exercise in futility. Life is just hard sometimes. Life is hard more often the not. It just is. This doesn’t mean life isn’t also wonderful and inviting and accepting and sparkly and joyful. Life is both hard and good. And the only thing I know for sure, is there is always joy on the other side of hard. I just need to persevere, get through it, and have faith in the light its willingness to carry me. Light wants me to recognize she is always there, even when it is dark. Sometimes, I have to hunt for light and sometimes it effortlessly floats through my front door.

So, from a person who is still learning not to fear the dark and accept it as part of life, please wait it out. I know darkness and hard are painful and scary. I know they seem like they will never end. But, they do end, eventually. And we all feel scared and alone and defeated. We all need to be reminded that we are loved and not alone and seekers of the light. We all want the good, even though we get the hard sometimes. Hard doesn’t show up because we are wrong, or unworthy, or broken. Hard is just a part of life. I am sharing my feather with you today because we all need to be reminded how beautiful and whole and full of light we are. We are all carriers of the light, even when we don’t feel that way. Sending so much love to all of you, especially if you feel alone and scared today. The hard will end, I promise. 

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Freedom for All

"For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others. " --Nelson Mandela. 

Nothing says America like the melting pot of a California Cabernet, a Waygu beef burger -sans the bun- served with pommes frites. As a person who is, sometimes, perceived as a second class citizen in her own country, please remember today isn't simply about independence for the chosen few. Today, Independence Day, celebrates freedom from all oppression, for all of US. Yes, as individuals, we all may be different on the outside. But, as sons and daughters, and husbands and wives, and mothers and fathers, and brothers and sisters, and friends and lovers, we are all equal. We are all worthy of freedom. We are all free to be just as we are and to think as we think. We are Americans and, by definition, we embody acceptance and liberty for ALL.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Listen to the Lady

Kids can be a lot of things. They are sometimes loud, destructive, unruly, and messy. They can take the calmest, most sane adult-care-taker-person and bring her to her knees. They are wise and accepting and honest and wear their hearts and emotions on the outside. Sometimes these emotions show up in a screaming and yelling, legs and arms flailing tantrum on the floor of Target, but at least they are honest. My favorite thing about kids, though, is they are overflowing buckets full of joy and curiosity and wonder and unconditional love. Kids need their adults, but the adults, we need kids, too. 

A few Fridays ago, I drove out to Kyle and Ashlea’s and join their family for dinner. We ate a summer dinner of lobster rolls, corn, and cucumber salad. And because it is summer, schedules don’t really exist, so we watched a movie with the kids. This movie night wasn’t planned, it just happened. Ashlea put in the DVD of Secretariat to make sure it worked. My dad burned Kyle and Ashlea copy of the movie and we wanted to make sure it worked first. But, as soon as the movie started, we all gravitated towards the family room and were soon a big pile of kids and adults watching a movie, together. 

Kate, Jack, and Will, because they are kids, played with toys, puzzles, and iPads, while we watched. For a brief second, I glanced over at sweet Kate and saw her happily playing on the iPad and sharing it with Jack. Two sweet kids. And then in the next few minutes, I heard Kate say something so wise and beyond her years, it still gives me chills and still causes me to wonder. 

Early on in the movie, Secretariat, there is a scene where Penny Chenery, visibly upset, escapes to a barn on her family farm. She believes in her horse. She believes he is a member of her family. She believes he will win. But, very few people believe in Penny. As she struggles with the staggering risks of racing her horse and forcing her family into financial ruin, she gives an impassioned statement. I always thought of this statement as a turning point in the movie for dramatic affect. I never really paid attention to Penny's exact words. As Penny cries from her heart on the shoulders of the few friends who will listen, Kate looks up from her iPad, points toward the television, and loudly instructs all of us in the room to, listen to the lady. Kate’s instructions were so profound, Ashlea and I quickly whipped our heads around to look at Kate, but caught each other’s eyes instead. We shared the exact same surprise and wonder face. Kate, after her moment of brilliance, returned to her iPad and finished her game. 

Kids are a lot of things. They bring us to our knees in many different ways. We pray for their safety and strength and kindness and bravery. We pray for their innocence, wonder, and love to all remain intact. When we pray for them, we forget they are also here for us. They gently guide us out of pain and misdirection. They know they ways of the world better than any of the grown ups. They figure out how to play in the sandbox together. They don’t see difference as a detriment. Kids just learn to get along. They know how to comfort us and hurt when we hurt. They teach us it’s okay to feel sadness and doubt and fear. They teach us to dry our tears and try again. We think we raise them and, practically speaking, we do. And then they turn on us and raise us up so high we aren’t sure if they are kids or mystical creatures. 

So, I share Kate’s advice with you. I know she is six, and even I felt a little silly listening to the lady these past few weeks. But, you know what, Kate is right. Listen to the lady.

“We will win if we can and live with it if we can’t, but you never know how far you can go unless you run.  You have to run your race.  I don’t care how many times they say it can’t be done. I will not live the rest of my life in regret and no matter what happens, we are going to live rejoicing every day.”
-Penny Chenery, Secretariat