“Smoke and mirrors, baby. Smmmoke and mirrors.” We were discussing the art of keeping up appearances and those who contrive to live the perfect life.
Huge houses, new cars, extravagant vacations with no real money in the bank. Picture perfect holiday cards while chaos, abuse, and broken relationships dominate the family dynamic. Obtaining the latest gadget for the sake of acquisition without consideration of its actual need and usefulness.
Bigger, newer, faster – often digs another layer in the hole of our discontent. Because everybody knows these things can’t make you happy. Yet, we all try and see if they will.
I get it, I am that person – or I was that person. To some extent, we are all that person.
The Holidays are upon us and I don’t have my sh*t together.
I’m not talking about tree trimming and gift wrapping – all of that is appropriately behind schedule, yes. It’s the bigger things – the stuff of life that makes us who we are, the stuff that shapes our stories that’s got me worried. Expectations, hopes, desires. Things that happened that I wish had not happened. Things that didn’t happen that I wish had. The struggle to accept where I am in this beautiful thing we call life. It’s this stuff that’s got me perplexed right now.
It was a night of intimate gathering. The holidays are filled with nights of intimate gatherings. Within the span of my 90-minute appearance the group had made fun of handicapped people, questioned Obama’s birth heritage and ridiculed and minimized a community member on the autism spectrum. I stood as an outsider in the conversation, simply watching. Nervous laughter came and went as we waited for the buzz of the second, third, fourth (?) drink to kick in and take the sting off the social anxiety hovering slightly above eye level. It seems we all need a drink to take the edge off – I stopped drinking a long time ago.
I spend quite a bit of time in the Carolina mountains.
There is a simple hike to the top of the mountain that is a great way to start the day. It’s about 3 miles with a gradual and steady incline – perfect for the girl from Florida who is more accustomed to a flat surface and an altitude that runs right at sea level. At the top of this hike, there is a gate – and a stern warning not to go any further. Under penalty of law and possibly even death… the warning is pinned to a tree about 10 feet in, and pinned to the next tree is a message stating clearly, no bicycles. The point being, you better stay out of here, but if you do come through, it damn better not be on a bike. It’s hard to take that warning too seriously. The message cracks me up every time.
Ah – the holidays are upon us; and on the heels of a nerve-wrecking and completely divisive election non-the-less… should make for interesting fodder over the next several weeks as we come together to celebrate our respective faiths and each other. Oh, the stories we will tell…
The people are protesting. The people are pissed – except for half the people. Half the people are elated. Half the people feel justified. The other half feel scorned. Half the people didn’t even show up.
Sometimes in life, you’re lucky if half the people even show up.
I hate politics. Holding firm to a personal belief that the only way to effect real change is not through government, but through the hearts of the people.
I know you are worried, and I know you are scared. When we met the other day, you told me you were considering divorce - you and your spouse have fallen out of love. Yesterday, I wrote part 1 of an open letter describing my own experience of divorce and shared some insight I thought might help you. Today, I promised a deeper look at some of the specifics that often contribute to the end of partnership. I hope it helps.
It was great seeing you last night, I love it when we get together – with our busy lives, those opportunities are few and far between. You have come to me, as many do, to ask about my divorce, to see how I’m doing. You say it is something you’re considering for yourself. You say you and your spouse have ‘fallen out of love’ and are merely co-existing.
I’m worried, I say – I’m concerned because we’ve been on antidepressants for over a year now and she’s still depressed.
“Of course she’s depressed.”
We’d found a new therapist, one who is working with new techniques. These techniques have worked with other kids – we are hopeful.
“Every day is hard for her – everything she does, everywhere she goes it is too bright or too loud or not loud enough. It takes all she’s got to just get through the day. She has a right to be a little depressed. I would be worried if she was not a little depressed.”
Her boss was angry. He wanted her to begin planting the seeds to a co-worker about the eventual phasing out of her job. When she refused to do so, the treatment was harsh and his abuse became focused on her. Suddenly, she could do no right.
His wife was angry. It seemed like he could do nothing to please her. Most days she blew up his phone with angry texts in order to get him to do what she wanted. ‘If you were worth anything.. .’ ‘If you cared at all.. .’ ‘If you ever leave me, I’ll make your life a living hell.’ All the while, they served on the local church council and were members of the best clubs in town – they were modeling the perfect family. This was going to be a long life.
She had been in a loveless marriage for years – decades maybe. If asked, she talked about it openly, and even those who didn’t know somehow knew. A mutual friend approached me, “it’s become the elephant in the room,” she said. “She can’t see how much this is impacting her.” Over the years, this relationship had stolen her joy, her beauty. It was making her bitter and angry – her sense of self was seeping out at the seams. There is nothing quite as lonely as being in a lonely marriage.
Orlando has had a tough week. There’s a general malaise right now around the city. It’s a mixture of shock and grief, and sadness, a lot of sadness – but I think mostly we’re just trying to make sense of the senseless. And come to terms with all the terrible things that have just happened in our own backyard.
It is hard to accept tragedy.
“Wow! I loved that Christina Grimmie.” My daughter was giving me her take of the evening’s events as we made our way to the car. “I want her to be my new best friend.”
We all agreed there was something quite special about the talented 22 year old. She had a presence on stage that was open and inviting. I wanted her to be my new best friend too.
I have a friend whose nephews make up the band, Before you Exit – BYE was touring with Christina Grimmie and had a stop at a small venue in Orlando – which made for a great opportunity to support them.
I love hearing people’s stories. For whatever reason, people seem to open up to me – from the girl in the check-out lane to strangers in airports, I’ve come to accept this as part of my life - listening to people’s stories. I can affirm fact is stranger than fiction. There is a beauty in the human condition as it shows its resilience.
We long for connection – with ourselves, with the world around us, with those we love. As connection doesn’t happen, we begin to contrive a story to help make sense of it all. This story creates our grid for understanding. The story represents our reality, but not necessarily the truth.
I watched dauntingly as he piled on the plates. Each one giving a sharp clang as it settled in. It was too early on a Saturday morning to do math in my head. But a quick add told me the whole contraption was probably over a million pounds, or maybe closer to 225 – but at least double my bodyweight because that was the gig. The expectation was set - I was to pull the thing to the other side of the room. It looked hard. I wasn’t sure I was quite in the mood for hard.
It had been a long day. Fatigue was wearing on all of us as we stumbled through the marathon of the typical suburban Saturday. Lessons, baseball, play practices, hair appointments, gym appointments, laundry and shopping – the list seemed endless. There was an issue with my son – in that he simply could not ‘remember’ to put his laundry away in spite of my incessant pleading.
To the bold and beautiful women in my life,
You are beautifully and wonderfully made – never let the world or anyone in it make you feel small. Stand in your own light, knowing that you are enough just as you are. Your stories are beautiful, and while they help make you ‘you’, remember they don’t have to define you. Today and every day stand in your fullness and keep going – keep doing what you do. Never forget, you were created for greatness. Here's to you on International Women’s Day!
Love - the simplest mystery of our existence. The Beatles say it’s all you need; England Dan and John Ford Coley say it’s the answer - God says without it everything else is meaningless.
Wars have been fought over it, whole countries and its citizens brought to their knees over love.
It is the subject of countless songs and poems – stories and movies. Everyone wants it; Maslow says we all need it.
There is a time for everything. And timing is everything. Some say things happen according to God’s timing. But I’m convinced it is God who is waiting on us.
The three of us were just sitting there staring at each other. An awkward silence filled the small 12x12 room. The therapist’s office – we’d been there a million times, but this time was different. This time was the beginning of the end. We had just decided – I had just told him – Divorce, I didn’t want to do this anymore – couldn’t do it anymore. He agreed, I think. It’s hard to say, we were both a little in shock.
We had tried – for three years, we tried. And it wasn’t working – nothing was working. It wasn’t like there was anything wrong with us exactly, except that everything was wrong. We were all screwed up. Royally screwed up.
And so, after three years of therapy, three years of actively working to fix our relationship, it was time to call our 15 years of matrimony quits. Time to do what needed to be done. Except for one thing, we had to tell the kids. I was terrified – I’m talking shaking, throwing up terrified. The plan was to tell them together, neither of us blaming the other, which I’m told is the best way – but the truth is there can be no best way for something like this. It is like a horrific train wreck any way you slice it. I hope I never experience another night as terrible as the night I told my children their parents were getting a divorce.
There are two kinds of families in this world – those who know they are dysfunctional and those who are still in denial about it.
I believe in everyday miracles – and the truth that we are all connected. Alive, awake, and aware -I sit in wonder as the adventures of life unfold and God weaves a tapestry in and out of my life.
This is one of those stories…
Would who she was really be enough? There was no magic to help her this time. This is perhaps the greatest risk any of us will ever take – to be seen as we truly are.”
– Cinderella (2015)
I’m not one for fairy tales necessarily. But this version of the classic took my breath away. In the latest adaptation of Cinderella, the heroine is the true picture of courage and vulnerability. She loves when no one is loving her – she is not afraid to show herself in what most would consider to be her weakest state.
I was losing her. Standing there, staring off, I knew. I knew I had nothing more to give - nothing left, my bag of tricks was totally empty.
You enter into this thing called motherhood and it's like a piece of you is now living outside of your body. There's a fierceness about it: to love, to protect. It's a fierceness that changes you forever - sometimes for the good. Hopefully, for the good. If you mess with me, I will deal with you, but if you mess with my kids, you very well might end up dead. I am not a violent person by nature, but this is where my instinctual mother's heart goes. Being a mother will absolutely bring you to your knees - over and over again.
Some days there just aren't enough coffee and concealer. Thus is the plight of the single mom. Besides employers and kids who need you – the crazy of family, bills, dogs with fleas, and just life in general is enough turn even the likes of June Cleaver into something straight out of Mommy Dearest. These are the days where, just when you think you can't possibly take on any more, someone throws up…Usually on your favorite pair of shoes. Then you get your period.