Sunday, May 8, 2011


Two posts in three days. I know. Pigs flying all about, ice skating in hell, etc.

But today is an important day. It's Mother's Day, in case you haven't heard. I can't afford flowers or candy or spa days or leopard print Snuggies for my mom. She got a card. I hope. Unless I mailed it too late like I usually do. In that case, she'll get a card. Maybe Monday. I really want to celebrate my mom, though. When I think of her, I think of the hundreds of things she has taught me in my 24 wild and angsty years. She is leaving a legacy with her children and, no doubt, with many others she has invested in as well. I can't wait to pass along her advice and quirkiness to my children someday, so I thought I should start writing it down. I hope at the end you'll share your mama-wisdom too!

Mom & dad at my wedding. 7/2007

1. When you speak, you should say what you mean and mean what you say. I cannot count the number of times she said this to me growing up, and it has been a constant reminder in my head to be honest and trustworthy.

2. It's never too late to commit to your passions. A couple of years ago, I decided that, whatever the cost, I wouldn't give up pursuing the things that put a fire in my heart. While I was working through this, I asked my mom about the things she was passionate about at my age, and I learned that she never had the chance to pursue them. I encouraged her to start. Now. And she did. It has been an incredible experience to watch her explore her heart and her calling and to begin to act on the things it tells her to chase.

USO Welcome Home, San Diego Airport

3. Taking care of business is not optional. If you know my mother, you know that she is probably one of the most reliable, consistent and diligent people on this planet. I used to think she was a little crazy for being so organized and efficient, but my mom has taught me the importance of being someone that can be counted on. I am almost the exact opposite of her in this area, unfortunately. But having a mother I can always go to when my poor planning leaves details a little blurred has made me realize that this is the kind of mom I want to be.

4. Do it well or don't do it. My mom has taught me that it's more important to do a small number of things really well than it is to do a lot of things half-heartedly. When she sets a goal for herself or commits to a project, she's all in. Watching her kick butt at work, lead a group of military moms and volunteer with the USO has been a huge motivation for me to find things I'm passionate about and then commit to them completely. If my mom makes a promise or tells you she will be there for you, you can bet your life that she will. She is an incredible friend. As a daughter, having that security and confidence in your mama is invaluable. Her friends would tell you the same.

Mom & her BFF Helen

Mom & Helen finishing a 5K.
And finally...
5. Ice cream? It cures everything. And I mean everything. Sometimes I wonder if she puts ice cream on sore muscles or on her forehead when she gets migraines. I don't actually think she does. I just wonder sometimes if she's thought about it.

An actual Rx sheet from her dentist.

I love you for a million different reasons, mom! Thank you for being a constant source of love, support and kicks in the pants. I'm a better human being because I'm your daughter.

In honor of Mother's Day, what has your mom taught you that has changed the person you are?

Friday, May 6, 2011

when my world is shaking

I'm a little embarrassed that it's been nearly a month since my last confession. Blog. My last blog. Weird.

It's midnight, and I'm sitting here unable to sleep before I write. The curse of being a writer is that not writing feels a lot like holding in a sneeze. And writing feels like taking a deep breath. Even if the words are just on a blog that tens of people read every month.

In short, life is chaos right now. I feel a little (or maybe completely is a better word) out of control. I'll be honest and say that's not the place I feel most comfortable. Or sane. I have recently settled into a place called "Wit's End," and life is very interesting here.

Have you ever looked up and asked God if He was joking? As if the thing(s) you face are a silly mistake? Or thought that maybe God got distracted by something and looked away for a second, allowing life a precious few moments to become a jumbled mess? I hope you're nodding; otherwise, I'll feel a little foolish when I say that I've done, said and thought those things. Often.

In late January, I posted this on Twitter: "Waiting for big news today. Reminded that trust is easy when things are going according to plan, but isn't fully refined until they aren't." While I got the news I was waiting (and hoping) for shortly after I posted this, I'm still in the same place. Learning the same lesson. I feel like I'm in a perpetual state of... wait. It's uncomfortable and chaotic and makes trusting that someone like God - who could just think and make my problems and worries disappear - has my best interest in mind.

The past 12 months have been some of the most unsettling and scary of my life for a lot of reasons. We have faced heart conditions, biopsies, lean budgets, a hard marriage and brothers in war zones. Life has shaken me this year. I don't say that to get pity or understanding. I say it so that what I'm about to say next will mean something.

I am not afraid of the shaking anymore. I'm not scared of the wondering and waiting. I'm learning to let go and rest in the fact that I have a future I may not know yet, but one that will be GOOD. It will be good because I am going to choose to live well and fully, even - and maybe especially - in the times that it's hardest to do so. And I have hope that even things like heart conditions, biopsies, lean budgets, a hard marriage and brothers in war zones are good for me. Not because they make me happy, but because they make me better.

This song by JJ Heller, called "Your Hands," has calmed my fears unlike anything else while walking through this year. It talks about the reality that life will shake us. This is guaranteed. But what's also guaranteed is that we won't be alone in the shaking. I've never felt more reassured.