Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Lessons on a Good Life...

My children started school 4 weeks ago. With the beginning of a new year, comes the thrill of so many unopened gifts we aren't yet capable of unwrapping, but they are there. there is the excitement of school shopping, buying the new shoes, doing the prep work that goes into creating that impressive first impression with a new haircut, an ironed shirt (that will forevermore be wrinkled) and the crisp paper, full box of Kleenex and that new sporty backpack and matching lunch bag.

The giddiness enveloped their spirit in finding out the person who would be standing in front of them for 180 days filling them with wisdom, character and new language and letters. It blossomed more in anticipating and later discovering the plethora of schoolmates they'd be surrounded by and as God would bless us, my eldest 4th grader has a best friend this year. (Thank you, God for answering that one!)

It is a most sacred time. With every new year comes lessons in life my children inevitably will not learn from their textbooks nor from the dozens and dozens of minutes and hours their homework will supply. These lessons will come with time, with success and failure and with a whole lot of growing only the seeds of learning can nurture. This is life.

I too, have begun a new year. Not only have I welcomed the first anniversary of Generation FORTYtude, I have stepped into a new school, myself. I am not buying a backpack or new clothes, but I am certainly experiencing that same reverence in accepting and embracing the opportunity for growth and change that a new school year brings and opening up to the transformation I've been forced to make, head on.

My family found ourselves in a new home, a new town...a new state, 5 months ago. THIS...is my new school. And already, I'm learning a lot.

My teacher is the experiences that have begun to mold this transformation and enlighten me to a reflection of myself I hadn't been ready to see yet. I'm still not completely willing or able to look past the surface, but trickles of growth emerge as if to say, Good job, Chrissy! A for effort.

I have learned that my family is far more important to my health, my happiness, my peace and inner joy and light than I ever truly understood. Time is precious. Time is never enough. Time is not counting down until they or I leave again, but being in the now... experiencing the moment and savoring their smiles, the sounds of laughter, the flaws and quirks, the comfortable quiet, and their beings that add safety, soundness and soul to my world. I have learned that I took for granted, so many gatherings that seemed typical, normal, expected and perhaps trivial, never fully appreciating their emotional presence.

I have learned about good-byes. They are painful. Painful in a way that my heart doesn't recover as quickly or as wholly once they're gone. Painful in the piece of me I feel gets lost when the boister of their absence is heard and I know they are hours away again. I've had to say too many of them in these short 5 months and they simply feel as real and raw as the day I drove away. Blue is no longer just a color to my heart. I wish I HAD bought the Kleenex box.

I have learned that my children have more courage and inner strength than any Mommy could wish or hope for her kids. The resilience of their spirits that have resonated and lit up our home is abundant and powerful. In their own transformation and acclimation, they've summoned their superhero powers and strength to conquer their own monsters of homesickness and loneliness... I could never have taught them myself. This is who they are. Their core is grounding and rooted in the every bit of love God kissed them with the day they were born and given to me. I see them in a new light with new eyes; of respect, of a greater gratitude and deeper appreciation for wearing their truest of colors so perfectly and proudly. Each has been challenged with obstacles to overcome in moving to a new home and a new town; leaving friends, family and familiarity, and their adjustment and bravery earns them a straight A report card in my heart, always.

In my heart as deservingly, is my husband. I have learned that he is just as beautiful and perfect as the day I committed my life and heart to him 12 years ago. His commitment to the four of us and to making this a good life is humbling and honest. He gives of every spare moment to get to know his two sons; to teach them to talk like a man, eye to eye, to shake one's hand firmly, and to respect girls, women, adults, nature, Mom and themselves. The last being the most critical of life's lessons. He so beautifully knows his daughter with an exquisite ease and insight, I am comforted in the quiet of the prayers I whisper to God, she'll understand a man's love and what that feels like, someday having had an example so pure and beautiful. He meanders, molds and maneuvers through fatherhood in such a graceful, balanced, eloquent way, my cup runneth over and over and over, watching this spectacle unfold.

Unfolding too, are eye-opening lessons in friendship. They say you don't know what you have until it's gone. Well, my beautiful friends aren't gone, just a little too far away for my liking. I have learned I am not as dependable or reliable a friend as I would like to be, but that those who love you for who you are and understand and accept your flaws and frailties will still be there loving you from a distance. I am so lucky to have such special friendships; some solidified in decades of history while others so pure and golden in their truest of purpose and posture, though still blossoming. Heartfelt gratitude to the friends who have not given up, have not given in, have not given guilt, but have given. I am surviving the loneliness because I know they are with me even though they're not.

The hardest lessons in life are those that challenge our inner selves and dip us into puddles of the unfamiliar parts of our psyches that hide with our childhood insecurities and fears. The little girl of years ago, who is afraid to be the last one to fall asleep, afraid to be the first or last of anything, afraid of not having any friends, afraid of following her dreams. I have been thrown into a new school where I am the 'new girl' and it's up to me to make what my year is going to be. And so with easy and fast distractions, I am learning to make a go of it and see my new self and this new life with hopeful eyes and eager attention. It's an ongoing, deliberate process of push and pull, but transforming and assimilating into who I am suppose to be, just may be working.

And so in looking inside, lessons have emerged I've come to acknowledge and accept in an attempt to empower myself and grow, too. None too profound, but all enlightening and somewhat entertaining to me: I am a country girl at heart. I actually DO want a pick-up truck. I like to read books. I DO have willpower. I can take care of a garden and won't kill everything that's green. I know how to grill. I can find my way around anywhere. I can be alone and not alone. I REALLY love my time with my kids. Nothing bad will happen if the dirty dishes are left in the sink over night. I can hold my own, fishing. I am a force in Corn Hole. I am stronger in spirit than I knew. And above all else, I CAN move away from everything that I knew and loved and understood, and still stand tall and be okay.

Upon driving away from my home that very first time, after the moving truck had rolled away with my life in it and my children and I departed for the hotel, God placed a small token in my heart when on the radio, this song began to play. At the time, the lyrics stabbed so deep and viciously in my raw state, I couldn't appreciate His promise. But as I take hold of what's become of our life and the lessons we've so quickly taken away from our being here in Indiana, growth, spirit, resolve, love, fortitude and perseverance echo gorgeously in the background of what we've made here, a Good Life.

Friday, August 2, 2013

A Letter to my other Superhero

Dear Bubba,

We always talk about superheroes in our home...you know, how we call your brother one? Well he's not the only one with a cape here. I know someone else who is a superhero. He's a young boy who doesn't believe he has the courage to fly, but you know what? He does.

You see, this boy has the same credentials of a superhero that his brother does; he just soars differently. That's the way God intended. He is brave in every day that he wakes up and faces a new challenge his young self is not use to. He is brave in his ability to conquer a battle of anxiety or sadness that might get in the way of his path toward growing up into a fine, young man...toward greatness.

I marvel at this one superhero. His sensitive heart and gentle soul are his kryptonite. It keeps him wrapped in a beautiful bubble of protection against the evils of the world, never letting his goodness escape, but securely feeding his soul to continue to be the beautiful boy he was born into this world as.

This superhero's cape is orange. It has a Notre Dame emblem on it next to the super huge "C" that dominates it. The "C" stands for so much more than his name. It stands for Courage. Cool. Crazy. Cuddle. Cute. Conquer. Captivating. Capable. Careful. Comedic. Complex. Conscience. Conscientious. Cozy. Creative. Compassionate. It serves as the source of strength, this cape...to fuel the fire of his spirit that sustains him. It can be invisible so that when he goes off to Kindergarten each day leaving the security of his comfort zone (Mommy), he can still soar. Through the halls of this new journey that appears as villainous as the meanest monster or scariest calamity.

This superhero doesn't boast of his extra special powers. He doesn't make too much noise in the company of strangers or crowds. He doesn't find a need to be the center of attention nor does he want that spotlight. He doesn't say much or draw attention to himself, but his presence is so amazingly powerful and palpable; full of love, light, laughter and energy that those around him, once they understand him, want nothing more than to be around him forever.

His gifts are great; he can hug like he was born to be the Olympic champion of hugging. He can laugh with tears and snorts that fill a room with joy and make the most sad creature of God's Earth feel better just by being around him. He is smart, oh so smart and he can throw and hit baseball like Jackie Robinson. I'll tell you about that superhero on a different day.

What I admire most about this superhero is the resiliency with which he overcomes the challenges he is burdened with. In such grave times of fear or change, he rises up when he least expects it and I am in awe of how that happens so magically and mysteriously. He breathes through his fear and frail moments with a courage I can see he digs so deeply for, even through the crocodile tears. It's okay to cry. Superheroes do it all the time. Those same tears are what nurture and fertilize the growth of the beautiful person coming up from the roots we planted almost 6 years ago.

This boy is someone I love very very much, Bubba. He has changed my being and brought me more life, fullness and beauty to an already perfect world through my maternal eyes and has made me a better person. He teaches me something every day and I draw from him, a courage myself. He shares that with me. He feeds my soul and is a beat in my pounding heart each day I rise with the sun and sleep with the moon. He is a piece of me, and I am so lucky to know him.

Mostly, I am proud of this boy. I know things are hard for him...sometimes more than others. That's just something else God intended. HE made this boy special and sweet, sensitive and sound in so many imperfect and splendid ways with purpose and a plan; to plant a boy in the world that would make a difference and teach us about what it means to overcome and grow from our trials and tribulations...to let time heal and do its goodness. Time DOES heal and though we want to speed up time and impatiently we are desperate to find the "fast play" button on our internal remotes, we can't. So we have to appreciate the time and be brave in watching the seasons of our life find their place like the colored leaves, the quiet snowflakes, the determined buds and the shy butterfly waiting to spread its wings.

The boy I love, this superhero I dig, has wings, too. He is that same caterpillar right now. He is struggling to understand how this slow process of growth and finding his way will lead him to the comfort of his chrysalis and spectacular flight. But I know he will, even though he doesn't. And that's okay.

I am trusting today. I am trusting that worry will not win and that the superhero I so admire will pass a mirror in his life soon that will give him the blessing of looking into it to see how wonderful and amazing his reflection is. Until that time, I am going to give him a boost on his morning flight each day until he feels strong enough to let go and fly on his own. I trust this day will come, too.

Bubba...you are the boy. You are the superhero. You are the caterpillar and the hero and the sun and the sound of my life that I listen for every moment of my life. You are the music that I sing to and one of the many ordinary miracles of my colorful life and I thank God for you every day.

You will be okay. You will survive this. You will rise above, fall back often, but always prove that a superhero wins in the end EACH AND EVERY TIME. And I will be right there beside you watching in awe and glory that you are mine.

See you soon, Bubbers. Only a few more hours