On fathers: when one day holds so many big emotions

It occurred to me this morning while walking the dog, this is our twentieth father’s day. It’s hard to imagine this is true. Granted, we celebrated for the future that long-ago, first fathers day. Our oldest was a bump of possibility, only beginning to make herself known. But we celebrated, dreaming of a lifetime of fathers days to come.

I feel a tinge of sorrow today as well. I had only twenty-five fathers days with my own father, nearly as many have passed as were observed.  It’s funny to me, looking back over celebrations with our children, twenty years seems a lifetime, and remembering how many I have missed, it seems far too few. Time is such an elastic and untrustworthy construct.

My husband had only four fathers days with his father. He isn’t here for me to ask, but I imagine he has no memory of them. And yet, when it comes to fathering, I can’t imagine anyone who loves with more care and consideration than he does. His love in action is beautiful. Even now, it brings tears to my eyes. In my life I have received two great gifts, one of experiencing a wonderful father, and one of watching a man become a wonderful father.

Whenever we, as a culture, celebrate these identity specific holidays, it seems we enter into a minefield. Fatherhood isn’t always beautiful or empowering. For some it’s an empty space, or filled with difficult, painful memories, for others it’s grieving someone lost. There’s room for all of these feelings, from great joy to deep pain. There isn’t one way to feel about fathers, just as there isn’t one fathering template to follow.

For me, today, I’m making room for great, big emotions, the swell of love and pride for the father who shapes our lives, the ache and emptiness for the one who gently shaped mine. There is room, room for both. One does not negate the other. The joy isn’t better or more important than the grief. Both are valid and together they make the day more beautiful still.

Maybe you have complicated feelings this father’s day. It’s OK. If you are looking for permission to feel however you feel, here it is. Feel your joy, your gratitude, your grief, your pain, your loss, your pride, your heart. Celebrate what is worth celebrating, for there is so much to praise in this world. Mourn what is worth mourning for there is so much pain in this world. Be generous with your love, for your fathers, for your children, for each other.

It’s an amazing thing to be alive, and I am so very grateful for my experience in this world, the beautiful and the sorrowful as well.

Waiting on the wind to change

I met an old friend at the post office today. She is moving soon and was eager to tell me the news. While I tamped down my jealousy, we shared moving tips and ideas. She talked about her basement, and told her the best place to unload her stuff in town. we discussed packing and purging, two of my favorite things to do. I’m excited for her that everything feels like a whirlwind of change and newness. The smile on her face was absolutely contagious.

I’ve experienced change in the whirlwind fashion before. It’s equal parts exciting and terrifying, and often leaves you gasping for breath the same way running a hard mile will do. Given a choice I will always choose the rapid pace over the slower one, at least where big change is concerned. Right now, however, I clearly don’t have a choice. We’re on the slow train to change and there is no speeding this process along until the moment the pieces fall in to place. This month? Probably not. This year? Who can say.

Limbo, limbo, limbo.

Meanwhile we’re doing the things rooted people do: meal planning and school enrolling. We’re looking ahead while letting go, acknowledging the ends of seasons in healthy ways. I’m grateful for this. Grateful for the natural turning of time rather than the unexpected emptiness when the rug is yanked out from under you.

But gratitude doesn’t change the fact that I’ve got bag to haul to Goodwill in the back of my car.

We’re being stripped, right now. Down to the bare bones, the essential elements, carrying only the most essential parts of our soul – the ones we cannot give away and still remain ourselves. There’s a vulnerability and a rawness to this process. It’s damn near excruciating most days. Other times it’s wrapped around with golden threads of anticipation. Even when you don’t know what’s next. something is…something is.

So I sink my roots in portable things, routines and digital words, pictures grabbing moments and memories as they happen, in case tomorrow changes everything.

Because it could. It could for any one of us.

The true story of Nattie Rose: Mother, book lover, friend

Once upon a time, a fair princess, Nattie Rose, lived in a hobbit house, right in the middle of a cornfield. The princess loved purple, and diet coke and books. She had so many books they stacked from floor to ceiling. Even though the eaves were low in the hobbit house, when she looked at her stacks of books she felt she possessed great treasure, a richness of words and stories.

Two fair children lived with the princess. They didn’t have magic or perform feats of great strength. In fact, they were fey, funny and mischievous and sometimes downright naughty. In other words, they were much like most ordinary children except these two were hers. She loved them as much as her books and then times infinity plus the moon.

The princess possessed a great many gifts besides her children and books. Although sometimes life seemed unimaginably cruel, she never stopped believing good fortune awaited her. “Onward and upward,” she’d say after every set back. The princess also possessed the gift of words, which she shared generously with anyone who needed kindness or encouragement.

The one thing the princess could not do well was dishes. Occasionally dishes would pile almost as high as her stacks of books. When this happened, her counselors would advise she fill the little bathtub in the hobbit-sized bathroom with soap and water. Then everyone would laugh at the absurdity of washing dishes in the tub, but once they were done the princess was able to be happy again, and read her books without guilt or danger of cutlery avalanche.

One day, the princess began to feel a bit ill. At first she attributed her loose fitting gowns to the meager fare she and her children subsisted on since her prince had succumbed to an evil spell and disappeared. But soon, even the the blandest food and her beloved diet coke made her sick. Although her counselors and family begged her to see a doctor, there was barely enough money already to care for her children. She simply couldn’t consider the selfishness of paying for medicine instead. It was only when she became too weak and sick to tend to the things she loved most that she finally sought help.

Alas, when the doctor put her in an enchanted sleep and looked beneath her fair skin, he found a demon wrapped around her stomach. It’s vile arms reaching up her throat as though to strangle her from the inside. Although they couldn’t slay the demon, they hoped to find medicine that would weaken it, or shrink it. Perhaps they could try again one day when she was stronger.

But the princess by now was very weak and tired. Although she loved her children, family and friends desperately, she didn’t have the strength to leave her sick bed. One night, not long after the doctors delivered the diagnosis, Princess Nattie closed her eyes and never opened them again.

Natalie Rose York died before dawn on June 7, 2007. She was loved by many and is still deeply missed and mourned by those who were touched by her friendship and love. More than anything in this world she loved a good story. Today in her honor, I’ve shared the tiniest piece of hers. Since she is still writing her story in my life, I decided it isn’t time yet to say “the end.”

Onward and upward.

Looking for a quiet space to read: 100 story summer

This weekend is the culmination of a month of planning and pushing through. As in all busy weeks, reading didn’t make it to the priority list. I read in the gaps, in the moments before succumbing to sleep, or while waiting in the car. But I can see the June, the month of no, shining on the horizon. Today we celebrate our wonderful middle girl Bailey for working hard and completing high school as well as her first year of college. Next week can be about reading again. This week the story is all about our girl.

Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter

I am a firm believer that sometimes, we have to try a book on more than one occasion to determine if it’s really not a good fit. Sometimes the book is fine, it’s us who isn’t ready or open or a good fit yet. Beautiful Ruins is a book which proves this point, at least for me. It’s been about five years since I tried to read this.  I was lured in the first time by the gorgeous cover. Although, I don’t remember why specifically I finally put it down; I was a good way into the book when I did. I do remember feeling unable to connect with the characters and that the story was disjointed.

Fortunately, this book came around again thanks to my postal book club. Because I was accountable to read it, I was determined to try it again. And whoa nelly! am I ever glad I did. I absolutely LOVED this story the second time around. The setting is lush and isolated, the characters quirky, broken, searching, flawed and beautiful (well, mostly beautiful, some characters are simple distasteful no matter what.). Making brilliant use of shifting time lines and POVs, a mystery, of sorts, unfolds. All along the way, each narrator searches for love and belonging in their own way.

I am delighted to have the chance to change my opinion on this amazing book. I highly recommend it to all.

My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve picked this book up only to return it to the library unread, through no fault of the book itself. The hype surrounding the story kept bringing me back, and finally, I picked it up and finished it all in one sitting. I’m not sure what I expected, but what I got was a quiet rumination on family, relationships and ghosts from our past. The story is different than I imagined, very understated and vague. It hints and peeks around corners rather than blatantly revealing harsh details. It quietly forgives even when we aren’t sure what is being forgiven.

This book is a perfect quiet afternoon read. It doesn’t hurry or make you turn pages quickly to see what’s next. It is thoughtful and complex and deserves undivided attention so no layers get missed. I’m looking forward to the companion book, Anything is Possible which releases this summer (and may already be available).

 

Finding Calm: Something Fun Sunday, Ep. 6

The week has finally arrived. My middle daughter’s graduation party is this week, and I am knocking down the details while trying to maintain my cool, calm demeanor in the middle of it. *snort*  OK, maybe calm isn’t the first word that comes to mind when you think of me, but I am working on creating margin, so I have no need to panic, and making time to sleep, exercise, eat and create. Which brings us to the fun stuff.

I know Saturday is technically the day I talk about books around here (On the blog, at least; I talk about books at home on the daily). But I feel it’s necessary to put first things first when I speak of fun things. This week marks the release of Modern Mrs. Darcy’s summer reading guide. As usual, I’ve obsessed all week over what is available at my library (nothing), and what is available on overdrive (a few). I’ve picked out the ones I can’t miss, and the ones I am not so sure about. I’ve arranged and rearranged my too read list based on what I want to read now and what is coming due at the library. What can I say, book are serious business around here.

Today two of the books on the reading guide are on sale for kindle. I’ll link them at the bottom of the page.

Having reached the pinnacle week of May, I’m personally anticipating arriving in June and not feeling completely burned out. For me, this is a huge win. But as an introvert, I know by the time June rolls around, I will feel maxed out socially.

June is officially the month of no. I will not make commitments nor will I travel. I will not be out four nights a week. No will be a word I use often and with great relish. With my family and close friends I try to say yes as often as possible, but next month even those will be sparing. It’s good to give and give joyfully, but there is also a time to lay low and replenish. I loved this article about saying no.

A key component in my daily balancing act is the calm app. I’m using it twice a day currently. Those fifteen minute chunks may be the most important thing I do each day. My anxiety is better. I don’t struggle as much with anger and resentment. I feel calm (go figure). There is a free version if you want to try it out, and it’s apple and android compatible.

Finally this:

Graduation

I can’t even apologize for the language. In this month of nostalgia and misty eyes, when people express sorrow that I am growing older and my children are leaving home, this is how I feel.
Empty nest party time is almost here, folks. We’re powering through.

 


One Hundred Story Summer: When you have an off-week

I knew it would be difficult to top last week’s reading experience. In fact, it’s not uncommon for me to stall out for a bit after a series of really good books. This week, I held true to form. I couldn’t settle on a book, and when I did I was unhappy with my choice. It was enough that I considered not even writing a story post this week. But, I finished on a high note. And since I’m practicing the art of finishing what I start, even in an off-week, I’m sharing with you. Here we go.

Drink: The Intimate Relationship between Women and Alcohol by Ann Dowsett Johnston

I debated whether or not this book fit into the “story” category. I often read for information, but I won’t count those as stories for the 100 story summer. However, this book fits both categories of informative and memoir, as the framework is a personal memoir of recovery from alcohol addiction.  While alcohol is not my struggle in recovery, there was much from her personal experience that I related to. The specifics of recovery may be different for each person, but there are also components which seem universal, this book only proved that hypothesis to me. I very much enjoyed the personal element of the story.

Unfortunately, I often got bogged down in the torrent of information between the personal interludes.  I enjoy information so for me to find this overwhelming means a lot. I occasionally found myself skimming just to get past it and back to the personal story. This may be because I’m not entirely on-board with her message, or it may be because she is so passionate to drive her point home. Whichever the case, it took me a while to finish as it wasn’t one I could read in large chunks without tuning out. This is one I recommend, but with caution. Be sure you are ready for all the facts before you enter.

Chasing Slow: Courage to Journey off the Beaten Path by Erin Loechner

This book has been on my radar since it came out strictly because of its title. It seems I, too, am always chasing slow. When it showed up as an Amazon deal (still on sale today), I grabbed it. Alas, now I suffer from buyer’s remorse. I wish that I had done a bit more research on the author and content before I’d purchased it. It isn’t that the writing or story are bad. They aren’t, in fact her style is lovely. It just wasn’t a good fit for me. The author is a lifestyle and fashion blogger, very much not my niche. I also didn’t feel like the story went anywhere. We began with a certain issue, and circled it and circled it…and circled it…and circled it without ever landing the plane.

What I’m leaving with is this: it wasn’t for me because of my personality and taste. You might like it, but maybe find out more about it before you commit.

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

First of all I found this book un-put-down-able. I read it in two sittings, the second one consuming the last three-fourths of the book. Secondly, never have I been so conflicted in my emotions. Thirdly, the more I think about it having finished it, the more deeply I love it. Opening with the most haunting line I’ve ever read:

Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet.

This book is complex, exquisite, agonizing and beautiful. The characters are hard to love, and yet wonderfully relate-able. I wanted to give up on them so often, but instead I found myself rooting for them over and over again. Exploring issues of race, gender, generations, expectations, sibling relationships, sexuality, and grief and loss, this book balances the line between beauty and destruction and never once loses its way. Maybe it’s because I love people in recovery, but I couldn’t walk away from these deeply damaged, vulnerably beautiful, destructive people.

I don’t believe this is a book everyone will find appealing (there may be triggers if you have experienced trauma so check the content), but if you are the type who believes in redemption for flawed humanity, this one is right up your alley.

Although I stuttered out of the gate this week, I’m glad to have ended with a remarkable story.  Next week is crazy busy for all the best and most celebratory ways, but hopefully, I can still squeeze a few books in.

How four “unimportant” choices changed my life

Today the Hunky and I went to a nearby monastery. The moment I walk on the grounds, a sense of overwhelming peace comes over me. It’s the perfect place to pause, linger and dive into deep thoughts. I spent my portion of the day thinking, journaling and reading, but first, I took a walk on the Rockdale River Trail. Since I wasn’t equipped for a true hike today, I only traveled a couple miles. Taking only myself and my thoughts, I spent some time considering how small choices sometimes change the entire trajectory of your life.

I’m not talking about momentous occasions: which college to attend, whether or not to have surgery, where to move type decisions. I mean the odd occurrence when we blithely choose to do something, giving it barely a thought, and afterwards nothing is ever the same. Crazy life shifting moments where you have to wonder if fate or design reached in and flipped a switch in your brain, leading you to the right course for your life. I like to think I have control over many things, but moments like these, I wonder if I’m really only along for the ride.

The time I said yes to a “we have no better offer” Valentine’s Day date.

It’s true. My husband and my first date was because neither one of us had a better offer. We’d been friends for a bit. Both recently ending relationships which weren’t really serious anyway, but still left us dateless on an important date night. However, once we’d decided to just hang out with each other, it was all over. Valentine’s Day ended up being crazy romantic. I walked around with a big goofy grin on my face everywhere (still do, most of the time). And within weeks, we knew this was the actual big L.  I barely gave the choice a thought the day I made it, and it is to date, the single most important, and best, decision I ever made.

The time I read Fast, Food Nation because it “sounded kind of interesting”

Let me be honest here. I never ate a single vegetable growing up. I hated them. Hate. And if my mom made me eat things I hated I would literally vomit everywhere. Probably on purpose, though it sure felt involuntary at the time. Even once I got older, my veggie palate was pretty spare. But reading Fast Food Nation was so horrifying (and really only the tip of the iceberg for what I’ve since learned about mass production of food, especially meat) that even before I finished it, I knew meat and I were through. Over the last twelve years my palate has vastly expanded, and changed. I still don’t eat meat, a decision which has opened my eyes to so many concepts I now practice.

The time I blogged for thirty days on “organization”

This one probably had a bit more consideration behind it then the first two choices, but what’s funny about it is the place I began, is not at all close to the place I finished. I planned writing about getting organized, managing my stuff and my schedule. I wanted to find a way to have it all and still have room for more. What I found instead is minimalism. At some point on that thirty day journey, I fell into the minimalism rabbit hole. I haven’t found my way out yet. I discovered that not only do I not need it all, I don’t even want it. Not the square feet, not the stuff, not the clothes, none of it.  I even minimized my books (that one hurt a little).

The time I fostered a puppy “for a week”

I still think I could successfully foster a pup. What I cannot do is take in a dog, have it become deathly ill, sleep with it on the couch for fear it will die in the night, have it’s departure delayed due to illness for six weeks and then hand over the dog I have grown to love. We took in Moses, a tiny, scrawny, wormy puppy with no intent of keeping him at all. But life happened, as it does. By the time Mo recovered from parvo, I couldn’t imagine our house without him. Since then he’s brought laughter and joy and daily squishes. He’s my best guy.

There’s plenty of other decisions I’ve made over my lifetime. Some big, most not terribly consequential. Some of them have changed my life at least as much as these four things, but in those instances, I felt the weight before making them. I understood their import and power to change things completely. These four decisions were throw-away choices at best. Still, I can’t imagine who I would be without having made them. Life is funny like that sometimes.

This is forty-four

This morning my husband took me out for breakfast because today I’m forty-four. I had a low country omelette. We talked about the things old married folks talk about: graduation, tuition, root canals, Idaho, the usual things. As we stopped outside the restaurant  Craig snapped a quick couples selfie. I would have avoided this if I could get away with it.

The truth is, I hate that picture. I hate most pictures lately.

As much as I love being forty-four, forty-four doesn’t love selfies. At least, it doesn’t love selfies the way I think it should.

Last year I wrote about this old body.  It’s truly an amazing thing, scarred and stretch-marked. It’s been treated for cancer, carried and birthed three babies, endured a double digit number of operations and invasions, run a half marathon, climbed a mountain, scuba dived, traveled, explored, swum, and walked thousands of miles. Forty-four doesn’t hide the mileage, either.

Forty-four says here are the baggy eyes and chin hairs. Here’s where time relaxes your chin into your neck and turns the backs of your arms into flappy weapons. Forty-four says you may feel like twenty-five just as long as you don’t indulge in a selfie or look too closely when you walk by that reflective plate glass. It rudely reminds you in the middle of a good time, that you may just look like one of those old people trying to seem young and cool.

Nevermind that in my head I am still young and cool-well, as cool as someone like me gets.

I considered these thoughts for awhile as I lay in the hammock and winced at that selfie strewn across social media. I realize it’s silly to vow not to be in a photo for the next forty-four years.  When I’m eighty-eight I plan to take a selfie every day just to prove to the world that this tough old broad is still here!

It’s ridiculous, really, this scrutiny, this vanity. I absolutely don’t want to be twenty again. Even thirties, fun years though they were, aren’t something I care to revisit. I love being in my forties and refuse to lie about my age. So why is it when I look at a photo, I get mad at the woman inside looking twenty years too old?

I like to pretend I’m mostly free of petty vanities. I wear my graying hair short and natural. Not because I’m opposed to hair color, far from it. Just because I decided it’s not how I want to spend my time anymore. Make-up only rarely makes the morning routine. Again, just too much effort for someone whose fanciest weekly outings are Aldi and the post-office.

Or maybe I’m just trading vanities, from upholding some standard of beauty to upholding some standard of curmudgeon. Certainly self-deception is something I’ve yet to outgrow.

I decided to look at the picture again, past forty-four and see what else is there. Me, standing with the man I love, have loved for half my life. It’s a gorgeous May day and we’ve enjoyed another of hundreds of breakfasts where we talked about the things old married people talk about. Twenty years ago, that same handsome man asked me not to die. Said we’d just gotten started.

Two days ago I wrote of abundance, of all the years I never thought I’d have. Forty-four of them now. Hard ones and sad ones and sick ones and crazy, wild, beautiful, wonderful, glorious years. All written right here on my face for everyone to see.

This is forty-four.

The Abundance of Years: The story of an undeserved life

It’s a big day in my home, May 9th. Twenty-one years ago today I heard the word cancer as in, “You have a cancer.” for the first time. Seventeen years ago I held my very last baby for the very first time. An abundance of big things. Life and death kinds of things. Things that change everything forever the moment they shatter the image you held of your life before.

As Olivia’s birthday approached, and we scheduled my C-section, I chose May 9th as a way to thumb my nose at death and despair. It was my way of shouting NEENER NEENER NEENER at whatever power in the universe ordains cancer and miscarriage and the death of fathers and friends and all the things which broke me in the four years between 1996 and 2000.

True to my act of defiance, I have a bold, beautiful, defiant audacious young woman. She embodies the bold, beautiful, defiant abundant life I’ve experienced since that day twenty-one years ago.

Cancer is a thief and a destroyer.  Though I am quick to pronounce the unlikely gifts suffering and grief have brought to me, I don’t assign those to cancer. Like the Devil himself, cancer kills, steals and destroys, and I give it no blessing or appreciation for anything which may have come through the door it opened.

In two days I will turn forty-four. I’ll have lived nearly as long after cancer as before it. I proudly proclaim my age, every moment for the last twenty-one years, each one an unexpected, unmerited, unexplainable miracle. On Thursday, I’ll plant my feet on this beautiful earth and send my thanks and love into the world as though my life depends on it, because oh, it does. It very much does.

I’d like to say I’ve lived every day of those twenty-one years unselfishly, beautifully and abundantly. But cancer merely revealed my mortality; it didn’t render me a saint. I’ve lived selfishly as often as generously, harmfully as often as helpfully. I’ve given and taken, if not in equal measure, then hopefully with scales tipping the balance to good. It’s hard to judge as I am not an objective observer in my own life.

What I do recognize, even on the days when I fail to live up to the gift I’ve received, is that this life I lead is one of unending abundance.  It’s an abundance I can’t explain. Why this body, slashed, poisoned, burned gets to bring forth life, not only of my children, but into the world through laughter and love and relationships is beyond any words I have. Why I still walk and run and breath and eat and kiss my husband and tease my dogs and lie in the sun for all the days I have forgotten to number is an abundance I never even thought to ask for.

This year has proved an introspective one for me, in both healing and difficult ways. But this unmerited favor, this awareness of profligacy is awakening in me something newer still.  Through the years when children are little and every day is about guiding and shaping and growing, it’s forgivable to lose sight of the great, big abundant world in the details of everyday survival.  But those days of constant hands-on parenting, another abundance which I can never repay, are sweeping by now, carried on in the currents of time, in the lives of my own flesh growing into themselves.

It’s time to wake to the wide open world and empty myself again, more, further, still knowing well that there is enough, always enough, more than enough love and light and grace and fullness to share with the universe, that we never run out of that which we did not supply in the first place.

Like Oprah on-stage granting cars to every member of the audience, I can stand on the front porch and yell. You get grace! You get Forgiveness… Kindness, Love, Mercy, Justice, Belonging, Community, Welcome, Safety, Blessing…And you and you and you! Come to the table. There’s more than enough, more than enough, always more than enough.

I’ll step into the world as an Ambassador of Abundance. Trusting the life I’ve been given has more and still more to give away. Has it proven scarce up to now? Who am I to be stingy with this life abundant?  It’s enough. Enough. More than enough, always.

To be Bold again: a lesson from my daughter

Yesterday evening, my baby girl –or not so baby at just days from seventeen– did a crazy, bold thing. She stood in front of a room full of people, the majority of whom do not agree, who may never agree, and defiantly spoke a piece on racism in America which she wrote herself.

Recently, I, too, have been sharing aloud things I wrote myself, thought nothing so brilliantly bold. It’s very much like standing naked in front of a room full of people who may or may not jeer at your audacious vulnerability. It’s one thing to drop words on paper (a difficult enterprise in itself), it’s another to look a person in the eye as you deliver them.

But there she stood, passionate, offensive, confident in her rightness, and perhaps a bit blinded to her own complicity. Aren’t we all, eh?

I blushed at first, after my initial startled gasp. My oldest daughter echoed my first coherent thought whispering, “Well it won’t be you that gets us rushed out of town this time.”  I wished her wrong, but she isn’t.  I once was inconveniently outspoken, bold, and more than a bit blind to my own complicity.  Genetics aren’t immune to passing on our fatal flaws.

I watched her passion and her defiance against all things expected of someone like her: woman, pastor’s child, church member, white, beautiful, intelligent.  She defies and defines so many things as she becomes herself.

I’m not sure if I envy her more than I am scared for her or not.

I see so much of myself in her.  But I blushed when she spoke because an ice cold thread of fear is twisted through my passion now.  Boldness and defiance can be costly.  They aren’t often well-received, and the culture we inhabit now abhors them more than most. I’ve developed the habit of staying quiet and unnoticed if I can.

If  you aren’t a Jen Hatmaker fan, you’re probably blissfully unaware of the whole religious drama unfolding around her. However, she’s a shaping voice in my world. She and I now share the dubious honor of excommunication from church due to an inability to conform to expectations. Then she had the nerve to speak out about it.

Every time I read about Jen, I blush and my heart races. I know this pain, this grief. We pay a steep price, we women who can’t calm down, play nice, fall in line. I know and yet my once bold voice is silent now. I only  manage shameful flushes and an overwhelming urge to disappear.

So what will I do with my brave, bold, passionate beautiful woman-in-the-making who speaks her heart and blazes forward damn the consequences, damn the damage?

I’ve thought about it all night and all day, and here is what I’ve decided.

It’s time for me to follow her example, rather than asking her to follow mine. I lost myself these last few years. I listened to the voices: be quiet; fall in line; fit in; play nice, listened and tried to disappear.  These decisions have done me no favors. I’m in danger of becoming less myself than ever .  The cost of conforming is far higher than the cost of becoming.
If we fall, we fall. If they throw things at us and turn away, then we will leave the stage together and move on. We’ll hold each other when we hurt and cheer each other when we stand.  We’ll whisper truth to the other when they condemn us and possibly pay the price again and again and again.

I wish I’d stood and cheered my daughter when she left that stage. I wish I’d whooped and hollered instead of clapping politely and wishing we could just get out of there. But I didn’t.

Next time, I’ll follow her example. There’s so much she has to teach me.