Monday, August 29, 2011

10 Things I Wish I Could Go Back and Say to Me

1.  To 10 year old Me: "You're wrong.  I know it doesn't seem like it today, but things will be okay again.  And you will be happy again. And you will one day look back at today, and see how it shaped you into who will be... and in good ways."

2.  To 24 year old Me: "Don't sell it.  You're a busy mom to three very small children.  You don't have time to practice, and it costs money you don't currently possess to fix it.  But someday, you will look back and kinda wish you still had your flute."

3.  To 8 year old Me: "Tell Mom it was your fault.  Do it now, get it over with.  Save yourself 8 years of guilt. She knows, anyway."

4.  To 22 year old Me: "Don't be in such a hurry to get to the next phase. Enjoy what you have while you have it.  It flees so quickly."

5.  To 18 year old Me: "Just go home. You don't belong here and you are lost.  Wait and start over next year.  But wait at home where you aren't alone."

6. To 14 year old Me (and 15 year old Me, and 16 year old Me, and 17 year old Me): "Be nicer to your dad.  He's not really trying to ruin your life."

7.  To 33 year old Me: "Pay attention to manipulation. It comes in many forms and you are blind to most of them."

8. To Me at just about every age: "Enjoy where you are. Dream, hope, plan for the future, yes.  But enjoy where you are right now."

9. To 15 year old Me: "Umm, you know that Mom doesn't really buy that it's cooler a block away, right?"

10. To Yesterday Me: "Don't let who you think you are expected to be become who you think you must be.  Be who you are.  Nothing more, nothing less."

Saturday, August 20, 2011


"Change isn't one simple choice. It's a process of a series of steps."

My daughter came home from camp a couple weeks ago with this little tidbit in her notes. I think that, more than anything, it gives me hope.

Sometimes I wish I was a different sort of person... the kind of person who could quit habits without struggling every moment.  The kind of person who could decide to make a change, and then have that change be easy to carry out.  The kind of person who doesn't backslide quite so much.

But, the truth is I'm not that kind of person.  I'm the kind of person that fights tooth and nail to stop doing what I don't want to do, but can't seem to help.  I'm the kind of person who can't quite master "I'm never going to do this again" but instead sets a somewhat less lofty goal of "I'm not going to do this... today," and sometimes finds even that a hard thing to accomplish.  I'm the kind of person who seems to celebrate every step of success with half a step of backsliding.  Sure, it's still overall progress, but my gosh, it's slow going.

So, yes, sometimes I wish I could be that person who decides to make a change, and makes it *snap* like that. If that is you, I look at you with envy, yes I do. I envy your commitment, your resolve, your determination, your ability to simply do what must be done.

But, I think I recognize that there is something to be gained in being the person who fights desperately for every win, too... and even for every loss. There is something to be learned in taking small steps, learning to accept small victories.  Even in learning to accept the mini-defeats, but also in learning not to let the mini-defeats beat YOU.

Maybe I'll never be the person who can change easily.  But I can be the person that grows in wisdom and character with every mini-change along the journey.

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Mirror

Morning sun filtered through the bedroom window's lace, and fell onto the bed.  Her dream slowly disintegrated, leaving little memory behind, but a passing feeling of love and loss. Stretching lazily under the blankets, revelling just a little in the sensation of her muscles waking up, she sighed and ran a hand through her sleep-dishevelled hair.

She sat up, and let her legs fall over the side of the bed.  The white nightgown swished against her calves as she struggled to remember what it was that had filled her head all night.  But alas, it was gone, not to be recaptured, nor relived, nor re-felt.

Across the room, the mirror beckoned and she answered.  Padding across the floor in bare feet, she stood before it and stared at the face that looked back.  Someone so familiar...  she knew the curl of her hair, the shape of her nose, the smiling pout of her lips.  But, it was the look in her eyes that took the girl aback just a little.

"Who are you today?" she whispered.  "And why don't I know you?"

Sunday, August 14, 2011

I don't want to settle for broken

i don't want to settle for broken. i want to be a part of the group that believes in a solution--- that tries everything possible to be better. i want to be a part of the group of people that come out on the other side of something scary, fixed. bigger. + brighter!!!

Lisa follows a young musician, Christina Perri, and occasionally she sends me blogs that Christina has written.  I read one last week, and this snippet jumped out at me, and I've been meaning to come back to it ever since.

"I don't want to settle for broken."  It grabbed at me... because, I think, we do.  We settle for "broken." We settle for "good enough." We settle for "it's all I can hope for."  We settle for " Life IS pain, princess."

But, understand deeply that we are settling.

There. Is. More. Than. Good. Enough.

Yes, sometimes life is hard, and I'm not trying to say that it isn't.  Maybe there's something to that "life IS pain, princess" quote... but that's not all there is.  We don't have to stay in the pain.  Push through it, find a way to stop wallowing in our own misery.  Because if we can, if we can keep pushing, there is great beauty and happiness and joy on the other side.

Broken is not how we are meant to stay.  Maybe it's the broken that helps us grow character, helps us develop compassion and tolerance.  But I don't think it's the BEING broken that develops that character; it's the growing THROUGH the broken that does it.

So, please keep going.  If your season is one of brokenness, keep going. The sun will come out again if you keep looking for it, I promise.**

(**Unless you happen to live in the Pacific Northwest.  In which case, the sun will not come out again until next June.  Sorry.  You missed it.)  

Friday, August 12, 2011

Unpacking: Think first.

To 18yo Me

"Think first; act second." "Look before you leap." "Sleep on it first."  All amazingly wise sayings.

All advice that I ignore on a routine basis.  Sometimes, folks, it's do what I say here, not what I do.

Really, really, I wish that I was better at thinking my actions out before I do them. But, the truth is that I'm obscenely bad at it. So often, an action will occur to me, whether by nature or external suggestion.  Before my mind can think it through to its logical conclusion and panic-strickenly object "Umm, Jo? Put on the brakes, kid," I've already gone ahead and done it. Usually, it's at this point that my mind catches up with the rest of me, and I'm left to look back at what I've just done and go "Oh. Crap." There are some things you just can't get back.

Every once in a while, I get it right. The desire to do something pops up, I jump to do it, and then I think "Wait." And I do!  Just a short while later, the impulse fades, and I'm so so glad that I listened. It makes me want to shout, "Yes! I did it!"-- But not out of pride, understand.

Have you ever taught a child to ride a bike? They keep failing and falling. Finally, they do it. They yell, 'I'm doing, it, Mom! I'm doing it!!" It's not pride the exclamation comes from, it's pure shock and amazement that it actually worked!

I feel the same way. I'm so utterly bad at this so very much of the time that when I actually do accomplish it, I'm so shocked and amazed that I made it work, I nearly run into the proverbial tree in my excitement.

But, I'm always left with the same knowledge-- that if I thought before I acted more often, I would get into so fewer scrapes. My relationships would surely go just a little less bumpy if I took a little more care with my impulses.

Photo Credit: Jonny Hunter

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Did you see me?

Did you see me today?

I passed you on the street, and when we locked eyes, I smiled.  You smiled back.  And we walked on.  But did you see me?

Yesterday, we met at the grocery store.  We smiled as we talked about the weather and if I found everything I was looking for.  I told you I found more than I needed... and we laughed.  Because we're meant to, because those are the rules. But did you see me?

Tomorrow, we will engage as friends on the street.  We will stop and you will ask me how I've been.  I will tell you I'm fine, that everything is great, and the world is glorious.  You will be satisfied because we will have fulfilled the rules.  We will walk on... and you will never have seen me.

When you leave, I will let the smile fall from my face, the light from my eyes. I will close my eyes and breathe deeply, willing what I told you to be true but knowing it is not. I will return to the weight of my doubts and hurts, and I will wish that you had seen behind the mask I can't bring myself to discard.

Will you see?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Wish You Knew

I should have listened to you.

I should have listened when you said stop. But, I didn't because I thought it was what I wanted.  It wasn't.  But I didn't know that then.  It wasn't until much later that I learned it wasn't, and I didn't understand that you really did love me until that moment.

In a storybook, that would be it.  You would be my "didn't know what I had until I didn't have it anymore" story. You would be my relationship to learn from for the future. You would have been the friend I lost because I was too wrapped up in what I thought I wanted to understand what you were.

But, this isn't a storybook; this is life.  And when I figured it all out, you were still here. And you still loved me. And you were here to help me pick up the pieces and figure everything out, helped me to make it all make sense.. or as much sense as it could make, anyway.  And you're still here.

And you never said I told you so.  Well, maybe a little.  But I knew.  And you knew I knew. And that was enough.

I wish you knew just how much I meant when I said "thank you"...  for I do. And I just wish you knew.

Photo Credit: David Foster

Monday, August 1, 2011

You never know...

You just never know, do you?

What opportunities may come your way, what situations you might find yourself in.  What people will say, what people will do.  Both to you and for you.

You never know what blessings are set to fall at your feet, what trials you will have to slog through. You never know the lessons you will have to learn, and the lessons you will have to teach.

You never know where you will be asked to walk, and where you will be expected to fail.

This life is full of "you never know"s.  There are no guarantees, and so many things that you can't control.

Sometimes the best you can do is wake up each morning with a smile, crawl out of bed, and be ready to face this life, no matter what it has to throw at you.

Because you never know if today is the day you will be asked to be strong, or if today is the day you will be asked to defy expectations, or if today is the day you will be so glad you got up out of bed, or if today is the day you almost fall.  You never know.  But every day holds promise, a chance to prove yourself, a chance to become better, a chance to live fully.

So get up.  Smile. Be ready.
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