Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Tuesday Grace Letters- Finding Grace On The Floor At Crossfit

One Day Late- but, hea, who's counting?  I wrote this three weeks ago and thought it appropriate for this week's "Tuesday Grace Letters" over at Mundane Faithfulness.  You can read other soulful women, and the grace in their hard, here:  
Mundane Faithfulness

Many people approach me, and ask, "So how do you like Crossfit? Are you LOVING IT? " They presume that my answer will be pretty straightforward...its not...its just not that simple for me.
Every morning, that is a "crossfit day" for me, I wake up scared. I get in my car scared. I drive with tremors of anxiety racing through my veins. And the voice in my head, that's been playing over and over, for years, begins to taunt me. It tells me to turn around...It screams, in protest "YOU CAN NOT DO THIS TODAY!!!" Then, in a cruel whisper, it begs me to hear that I don't belong there...."look at are a failure. Go back home where you can be invisible." And I listen...and am tempted to obey that voice. That would be the easy road, in the moment....and it would feel better. And I woudn't have to be afraid. My comfort zone is such a safe place- but it has not served me well. And it has become a prison that I can no longer bear. So, with great trepidation, I cover the ears of my soul, refusing to be a part of my demon's chiding and scolding... I park the car, and walk in. 427 Washington Road. The sign looms in front of me- announcing what awaits in the warehouse just beyond the door. I see a coach...I see fit bodies...and the girl who feels like an outcast in her very own skin, wants to hide. or run. I go forward. The warm-up dares me to be better than I feel capable. It takes nearly all that I have. Then I face the WOD (workout of the day). I feel a flurry of panic. I wonder how I got there and why I'm bothering and who the heck do I think I am, anyway. But there's an eight year-old girl who begs to be remade. The kids laughed at her and made fun of her in gym class. Calling her names.... Breaking her heart into a million pieces... Leaving her ashamed and withdrawn. She spent years in the shelter of the sidelines, refusing to participate any longer- refusing to be seen. It seemed like the safe thing to do at the time. But three decades later, I'm tired of the fear. I'm weary from the shame. I need to conquer this for her. So I put my blinders on and attempt to complete the assigned exercises. And I feel like I'm going to die. And none of it seems possible.
Then, last Friday, a beautiful thing happened, in that box...that place where I feel so much terror. I was on my third of four sets of very difficult reps. I had to finish a 30 meter bear crawl, and then a whole other set, in order to be done. I was trailing everyone in class, who had already completed their workout. Seven feet into the crawl and I laid on the floor, in child's pose, thinking there was no way I could go on. But a woman, Joanna Tunnicliffe, whom I had just met, who's just a few years older, with an amazing body and strength that is awe-inspiring, laid on that floor with me. And grace covered me, as she spoke loving, encouraging things to me and that child, who she could not see, but who was there on the floor with us too. And slowly, we crawled, together, first to the end of the next tile, then to the cone, then back again and again until I had made it. That little eight year-old got healing she never expected. And for the first time in many many years, she was redeemed. Out of breath, covered in sweat, with the cheers of my classmates in the background, I knew, that no matter what, I needed every minute of that struggle, that day, to put pieces back together that had been broken for a long time. And to prove that those kids were liars. To say to that little girl that she was not a loser. And that I AM NOT A LOSER. And somehow, with crossfit, I am creating a new voice- one that speaks a truth that says that I am so brave...and so strong...and that I deserve another chance.

Do I like Crossfit? Heck no! It is brutal and scarey. But the brutal and the scarey aren't going to hold me hostage anymore. It may always meet me in that space...but I will acknowledge it...I will see the shame...and I will keep on, keeping on. And one day, I will lie on the floor, bringing grace to someone else who's hurting. And this story will be complete. And I, and that little girl, will be whole.
 — with Joanna Tunnicliffe and Kevin Beamon at CrossFit Mt. Lebanon.
Saturday, March 29, 2014

If God Is Invisible, How Do We Know He Exists?

I bought a book, this week, to add to my repertoire of nightly reading materials for Seth. "If I Could Ask God Anything" poses questions, which might be typical of kids, and then answers them using newer translations of scripture.
Last night, we explored the idea of how you could know that God is real, even though He is invisible...Honestly, folks, that's a tough one...and on the really bad days, I struggle to know this myself.

As we were walking home from kindergarten today, Seth remarked about the wind and how it was trying to blow him away- how, like the new book we read last night, had said, wind is invisible but you could feel it and see it moving the branches of the trees...I asked him if he could feel God the same way as he feels the wind, to which he quipped "I just believe he's there, Mommy...that's all."

Seth often impulsively cleans up public spaces..

As we started down the hill, toward our house, I noticed that a neighbor's recycling can had blown over into the street, spilling it's contents throughout her yard, on the sidewalk, and in the grass between houses.  For a second, I entertained the notion of cleaning up the trash, but then I remembered how rude she had been to us in the fall, and so I kept walking....i didn't want to waste my time and energy on her, my body was sore from an hour of squats and jumps and rowing and burpees....Besides, I hadn't eaten a morsel since the night before...And, really, I just wanted to get home.    I decided, somewhere in my heart, which is filthy with judgement and bitterness and hypocrisy, sometimes, that all of those excuses justified my inaction. Somehow, the "love thy neighbor" didn't always need to apply to me.

But Seth six year old, who is prone to tantrums and drives us all nuts, nearly every day, stood the neighbor's recycling can up and proceeded to deposit every single piece of trash that had scattered least fifty cans, bottles, boxes...He didn't question whether our neighbor deserved this kindness...He didn't expect a thank you or a sticker or a prize....He didn't ponder that it wasn't his responsibility....He just did it...and, then, joyfully galloped on home....leaving me humbled and ashamed of my hardened heart and stubborn ways.

I can't see God, friends...I can't prove to you, with any tangible evidence, that God exists...but today I saw my kid give every ounce of energy that  he had, to helping somebody else...for no good reason...just because...Somebody who wasn't watching...Somebody who wasn't going to praise him or thank him... Seth stooped down, over and over again, TO PICK UP SOMEBODY ELSE'S GARBAGE, which was dirty, and messy, with sharp edges and remnants of food and odor.  ....Somebody who has done nothing to earn his thoughtfulness...No, I cant show you this God I speak about... but i can share with you my stories, and how i know, without question, that THIS...this kind of generosity with reckless abandon, from a little kid...THIS is God- and for now, it's all I need to see, to believe.

Matthew 18:3-4
..."Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.  Whoever humbles themselves as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven."
Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Tuesday Grace Letters- Holding Still found Kara Tippetts and her blog, Mundane Faithfulness, a few months ago....I'd been putting off sleep, one night, and, a friend had shared a link to Kara's story, on Facebook.  Kara asked those of her followers, who are also bloggers, to join her on Tuesdays for her segment on grace letters...Today, she has asked that we compose a letter to someone whose grace has deeply impacted our we go...

There has been an abundance of grace shown to me, in my forty- three years on this earth...the faces of all of those who have loved me with unconditional fervor and steadfast support have run through my mind, like a movie, today..but for now, the floor belongs to this guy, my guy:

Dear Tom,
Sitting across from you, this afternoon, at the Dr.'s office, as we listened for a ray of hope, from a specialist who is going to be working with our son, I noticed the distance between you sat all alone on the couch, and I in an adjacent chair...and how it seems so commonplace, anymore...This is a hard season for us...and we are weary from the "hard"...from the wringing of hands...the yelling...the hopelessness of seeking answers where there seem to be none.  We are desperate and in that desperation, we blame who we can- each other.  Suddenly our sons' battles become our own...and its raw and ugly and filled with resentments and so much pain...Our love, which began as a firestorm, is, at times, barely an ember...and I feel every ounce of those statistics that say that 80% of couples with children who have special needs, have marriages that end in divorce.  Sometimes there's just nothing left to give, at the end of the day...and those days accumulate into a mountain that can seem much too steep to climb.
I was thinking, this morning, after our blowup last night, that maybe a good marriage is not made up of the easy or the fun or the comfortable...maybe the core of this commitment lies in our ability to weather the hard...and the lessons,that this hard, holds for us.  When life is a whirlwind of staggering blows, maybe the grace is in the holding still -not the clinging to the remnants of the threadbare fabric that binds us together......
I long to explore this with you...this being still.. honoring the shards of "us"- the richly hewn bond of decades of getting through- through the harrowing days of loss and grief, newborns and sleep deprivation, cancer, interstate moving, paycuts,  akathisia and the post traumatic stress of those episodes, explosive children,autism spectrum disorder...
Im longing to surrender to the battle of wanting a love that looks pretty, with soft edges and clean lines....and accepting our hard, our flawed, ....Our crooked...Our fragile...Our torn and mended. Everyday, I'm longing for you...even in my meanness....I just miss you.
Thankyou for the grace of kisses, in elevators, and of long embraces, in the kitchen, today.  Thankyou for often being the strong one...the blindly optimistic...Thankyou for seeking me out when I retreat, in darkness...but mostly, Thankyou for saying "no matter what."


Mundane Faithfulness

Monday, August 27, 2012

First Day Fantastic

Lily the freshman,  Liam the middle schooler, and Benjamin the 4th grader....whew!!!!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

About The Muffins....

To Lily,  on the eve of your first day of high school:

Tonight I made  muffins  for your first breakfast as a Mt. Lebanon High School student, tomorrow morning.  This, undoubtedly, will seem trivial to the outside world, but holds, for me, a much deeper significance. Nearly fifteen years ago, I sat, nursing you, at a meeting of breastfeeding women, whose presence soothed my soul, making common-place the parenting choices which your father and I made, and practiced so vehemently.  As I discovered the wonder of a supportive community of like-minded women, I was fed a snack of Brother Bonifaces' Mepkin Abbey Pumpkin bread, and I've made this recipe regularly, for you, ever since.

Its a little after 9pm.  I'm guessing that behind your closed bedroom door, there lies a girl filled with all of the expected nervous energy of somebody about to embark on something momentous. I'm thinking that sleep may evade you...all the "what ifs" racing through your mind at superhero speeds.  Funny, I had one of those nights myself, nearly fifteen years ago- when my water broke and I knew I'd be meeting you for the very first time- this life which had so miraculously developed inside of me, which I had nurtured and loved from the very moment the test read positive.  During those forty-two hours of labor, I could not imagine being the mother of a fourteen year-old, beginning her freshman year (Lord knows, the only thing I wanted, then, was a baby, oh, and an epidural.... and some sleep).  I remember meeting you for the first time and being so overwhelmed with your features- so beautiful- all that black curly hair and the precious way you sucked your thumb.  God, how I loved you- with such intention and fervor. And not a minute has passed, since then, that I haven't placed every ounce of the best of what I've got into doing right by you.  All the sleepless nights, the pacing of floors, the worrying, the tears, the loss of my career and its income potential, and the comforts that go along with were and are worth it.....and I'd do them all the same way, if I had to start all over again.  There is nothing that I missed or am missing that is more validating than your very being.  You, in all of your maturity and poise and grace and dignity- with your astounding intellect and passion for details- you are already a success.  And nothing less than a million times better than what I hoped for.

 These four years will present you with many challenges, dear Lily, but none which you cannot meet head on and overcome.  You will make mistakes, but none you won't learn from and build upon.  Your heart may be stomped on and broken, but from that you will uncover your most hidden strengths.

May the morning bring relief of your fears- as you begin a new and most important journey into adulthood.  May you hold fast to your values- with a burgeoning confidence in your ability to achieve anything your heart desires. May you take to this great adventure with all of the determination which has become your trademark.

You, my red-headed wonder, are potential.  Here You Go....


P.S.  Your father, with all of his amazing eloquence, would like to add "fly, little birdie, fly..." Good grief. (We are both, now, laughing out loud).

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Debbie Phelps’ ADHD Tips For Parents

Debbie Phelps’ ADHD Tips For Parents

Tuesday, May 8, 2012


Lily is home sick, for the second day in a row.  The miniature critic in me thought she was probably taking a few liberties, as she seemed quite a bit better last night, but the mindful mother in me knows that sometimes you just need to get away from the pressures of your daily existence and sit for a time- watching t.v. and eating copious amounts of toast with raspberry jam.  Especially when you have quite a cough, and your brothers are tucked away at school and you have the house and the remote control all to yourself.  I respect my children's ability to make those choices for themselves- call me crazy, but I've always believed that young people are born knowing deeply what they need- and I respect that. 

There are a plethora of things I could be doing right now, or, dare I say should be doing- getting my broken eyeglasses replaced, scrubbing a second load of pots and pans, thinking about dinner, making appointments, filling out forms for upcoming doctor visits and for summer camps....but after my four year-old left for preschool, I went to get in the car to drive to the optician and, listening to the rhythm of the rain hitting the sidewalk through my open windows, I just sat down-thinking how glorious that melody was, how nice the breeze felt on my sunburned skin- and I did nothing but soak it all in, noticing how wonderful it felt to just do nothing.  Doing nothing is so glorious.  And rare.  There were so many days, last week, where I got to sundown just wanting to cry because I was so tired- I'd been running kids to so many places ALL DAY LONG.  So, this morning, I am joining my fourteen year-old daughter in taking some time off.  Come 11:30, and that luxury will disappear, with a whole host of specialists and appointments and other motherly obligations....but,for now, my feet are up and the birds are singing and, maybe, just maybe, I'll stomp in some puddles before I stop doing nothing.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

My Extraordinary Ordinaries

Its late.  I committed to a 10 o'clock bedtime, for myself, last week, which, so far,  I have managed to only honor once.  Change is a beast....and I haven't yet embraced it, though I know the benefits of more sleep, for this exhausted mama, are a most necessary piece of my recovery. But I long for solitude- just to hear myself think, and to contemplate my thoughts- maybe even daydream a bit....and that can't be done when one is bonding with her four children, on this, the eve of a very truncated spring break. 

Tonight I got the itch- as I held my four year-old, asleep in my arms, and inhaled his every exhale, breathing in the miracle of his life, trying to memorize these moments, which are fleeting and slipping away.  Tonight I got the itch to share with you, dear readers, about the soul-breaths I shared with my little boy, a tiny but significant piece of today's ordinary moments, which are extraordinary, if only to me. 

I wanted to share with you the beauty of my littlest boy, being wrestled to the ground by one of his pre-school classmates-so typical to most- that is, after all, what boys do, except for my boy,Seth, who had never had that privilege, until extraordinary to behold my son being an ordinary boy; then  gathering a dinner, with my four children, in under thirty minutes, in a crowded super market, albeit exhausted from a long day of ordinary tub after tub of laundry, and days worth of dishes backed up in my sink, and play dates, and medical evaluations, and vacuuming, and hearing myself plead, over and over again "take off your shoes before setting foot in this living room," no less than forty times....I wanted to share with you the beauty of having a less-than-ordinary dinner of pop-tarts, toaster strudels, fried chicken, and a sub, hand-picked and gathered by those children, then packing ordinary Easter eggs with them, for an impromptu community egg hunt that we'll host in our backyard extraordinary it was that not one of those kids ate a single morsel of the candy intended for those we all hunkered down in the kitchen and watched Moneyball together and how my nine year-old son, who takes me to the brink of homicide on a daily basis, was the last one standing, soaking in all of the details of that story- so far above his maturity level...but so tapped into everything that drives him with the passion that he runs on, in all of his living.  How Lily and I held hands, for a while, and it seemed so normal that I didn't even notice I was doing it, at first.  And how I watched my eleven year-old son continue with his engineering plans, drawn with pain-staking detail, for the much researched club house, to be constructed in a tree, on our property, any summer now. 

Extraordinary stuff is happening all around us everyday, mostly going unnoticed, and unappreciated, because we are looking for the fireworks, the death-defying mission trips to third-world countries, saving starving children at all costs.  While wonderful, don't get me wrong, those aren't really the times that matter most in our lives.  The extraordinary REALLY happens when we are able to gaze upon all that is so very, very ordinary, the dailiness of our being, and know just how miraculous and amazing it all is.  To be mindful during those moments, instead of wishing for bigger, flashier, more fantastic circumstances.  God, who is so extraordinary, lies I believe, not in our achievements, but in the places that do not shine or scream "greatness,"- in all of the things you think do not matter at allEXTRAORDINARY  is within you.  Look for it.
Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The $85.12 Pair Of Underwear

***My sincere apologies to my four year-old son, Seth, for disclosing this very intimate information about your undergarments and current bathroom habits.  I solemnly swear not to read this post, outloud, to your class at show-n-tell, to your prom date, or in a toast at your wedding.**

Seth and I drove to Target, yesterday afternoon, to pick out some new underwear for him, as his current supply had grown dangerously low.  Staring, with pure joy, at the racks, he enthusiastically chose the "Phineas and Ferb" print, knowing that his two older brothers would be so impressed.  He could not wait to go home and put on one of the five pair in the package, each of which he had feverishly inspected and held, in his carseat, on the way back to our house.  As Liam and Benjamin walked through the door, after school, Seth proudly did his version of "I'm too sexy for these briefs" on the pretend catwalk, otherwise known as our basement stairs, greeting them with the face of Perry the Platypus on his wiggling bottom. 

Much to Seth's horror, however, he didn't quite make it to the potty, and abruptly soiled his new underwear, which I found hidden behind the toilet.  As I washed them, on the "sanitize" setting, last night, I laughed as I thought about how pricey ol' Perry the Platypus had become:

$9.99------------Package of Five Phineas and Ferb Size 6 Boys Briefs
$65.13----------Cost of all the other items one feels compelled to purchase, once in that very   dangerous store, like food that is much cheaper than our Giant Eagle, clearance clothing for growing sons, Easter card making decor, things for Lily's 8th grade literature project, art supplies for the rainy get the picture.
$5.00------------Approximate cost of the gas it took to get to Target, which is about 18 mins from my home
$5.00------------Probable cost of the extra hot water, electricity, Tide, and Oxy, used to properly clean the poop out of those Perry The Platypus undies, for a nearly two-hour spin in our washing machine.

Really, people, is it any wonder raising kids is so expensive, and why moms are so valuable? 

But the real deal, the reason why I do what I do, is my four year-old waking up to an evidence free pair of underwear this morning.... NOW THAT IS PRICELESS!!!
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A Second Journey Toward Healing- The Speech

"That I Would Be Good" 
that I would be good even if I did nothing
that I would be good even if I got the thumbs down
that I would be good if I got and stayed sick
that I would be good even if I gained ten pounds
that I would be fine even if I went bankrupt
that I would be good if I lost my hair and my youth
that I would be great if I was no longer queen
that I would be grand if I was not all knowing
that I would be loved even when I numb myself
that I would be good even when I am overwhelmed
that I would be loved even when I was fuming
that I would be good even if I was clingy
that I would be good even if I lost sanity
that I would be good
whether with or without you ---Alanis Morissette

To the souls who worked alongside of me in Florida this weekend:

Many of you asked if I would post the words of my closing statement, so that you could print them out and read them to yourselves, perhaps holding them as some of your own truths on this journey that you are undertaking right now...Let me just say, first, that I am humbled before you all.  Please know that the power and energy behind what I wrote, comes directly from your presence there, in that most sacred space, and from the courage that is reflected in the eyes of each and every one of you.  You are some of the most amazing people I have ever had the honor to be around.  And I treasure your love.
The four reasons why I do what I do--
Lily, Liam, Benjamin, and Seth Sombar

I would like to add, however, that it is important for you to know how much pain I felt, not only during the preceding days (which you witnessed), but in the very moments prior to me sitting before you, in that seat of honor, with the microphone and my notes, on Sunday.  You need to know that while I may have appeared comfortable and content in that chair,  I cried, long and hard, from the moment my feet touched the floor of our meeting space that morning.  You need to know that my "breathwork" was profoundly disappointing...that I pondered whether or not I'd make it back to my family in one piece...that I questioned if I'd accomplished anything in these two phases that I've participated in since May.  I, like you, and everyone else really,  am a work in progress. The more I repeat these truths to myself, the more they will feel like my reality.  If they resonate with you, and affirm your life as well, than my work to get to you, this weekend, and the weekend before, and to persevere through what felt like the depths of hell, was worth it.  You are worth it.  I have breathed your breaths, and sat in your stillness, felt the gravity of your pain, and I believe in the goodness, possibility, and hope of every one of you.  So here is my [slightly edited] version of our assignment:

Changing Old Beliefs Into New Beliefs
When asked to name all of my old beliefs, I can put pen to paper and come up with at least a dozen, in mere seconds, it seems.  The bad stuff is so easy to access, sitting right in the forefront of my memory or on the tip of my tongue, ready to be channeled into any part of life that I may be living at this moment.  "I am too damaged to improve....destined for failure...a mess...a loser...fucked up beyond measure...crazy.  I want to be invisible.  I am going to spend the rest of my life in pain, fear, and anxiety.  Its not worth it.  I am not worthy of love, money, beauty, fulfillment of any sort, or success.  I can't get it together... I don't have a clue who I am or what the hell I want to be...I am a terrible mother.  

Ya know the real kicker here friends?  Those are all lies.  And they've served their purpose. But I don't need them anymore, because here is the truth:

I have worked hard and I hold the power to be my best self everyday.  I am already a success and will continue to be successful for as long as I want to.  I already have everything that I need, and a lot of what I want.  All that I have lost, and it is a lot, is a part of my story, but it does not define who I am.  I want the world to see all of my potential and greatness, because it is there and a gift to others.  I am highly evolved and inspiring.  I spend MOST of my time without pain, fear, and anxiety, and know that those things are found in the root of my thoughts and can be relieved when I am ready to let them go.  IT IS SO WORTH IT.  I am worthy, and I have the love, money, fulfillment, and success that I desire.  I AM NOT CRAZY.  I have suffered traumas in my life which have affected certain patterns in my brain.  As a highly intelligent person, who is more of a "thinker" than anything else, I relive those old patterns, which can make me feel crazy, but it is not who I am.  I do have it all together and must walk forward with the belief that greatness is before me.  I know EXACTLY who I am- an amazing woman- "Judy"- a fabulous girl, writer, artist, storyteller, lover of silliness, and happiest when moving my body.  I am a vessel of laughter and joy that is contagious to those around me.  I am a lover- a fighter for goodness, compassion, grace, and wholeness.  I am a mother of the children that I created and wanted, and I breathe life into them with my intentions and love, every single day.  

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Where In The World Are Those Silly Sombars: Days? Who Knows....

I've lost track of the days at this point....this has already been such a whirl-wind trip and we're really just getting started. I underestimated how much technology it would take to post, daily, about our journey- we have lacked internet access much of the time, and sometimes there hasn't been electricity either. Then there's also the part about how I flew out of Denver last Thursday morning, for a scheduled healing trip to the center in Florida, and just returned this evening.....really, what family, in their right mind would do this? I have no clue.

We are in COLORADO SPRINGS, COLORADO, where we plan to spend the next day and a half.

We have tons of photos to upload, of course. And lots of funny stories.

For those of you following along, sorry this is less than organized- but we'll get it together at some point....when there is a free hour or two....
Thursday, July 14, 2011

Where In The World Are Those Silly Sombars: Days #2, 3, and 4

Let's see: Pennsylvania to Ohio to Indiana to Illinois to Wisconsin to Minnesota to South Dakota to Wyoming to COLORADO.....where we landed this evening. I'd love to tell you more- I've promised that much, but I'm wiped out from two thousand miles of driving so I'm going to sleep and get back to you tomorrow....which will be an unbelievably crazy day.
Tuesday, July 12, 2011


Sioux Falls, South Dakota!  Just 5 more hours of driving until we reach destination #1! 

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Winding Through The Windy City

why hello there Chicago...its been a long're lookin' good...sorry we can't sit and chat....we're going to see about a mountain...

Where In The World Are Those Silly Sombars?

ILLINOIS........and relieved, after 8+ hours of driving.


On our way.....years of planning and dreaming....a gift of memories for our children, who fill us with gratitude everyday......Day One...where in the world are we? LEAVING OUR HOUSE IN MT. LEBANON, PA.....

Friday, July 8, 2011


Joining the blogroll over at The Gypsy Mama for today's Five Minute Friday...Here is my unedited stream of consciousness on Grateful:

I was driving my kids to the pool today when I noticed an envelope in my purse, addressed simply to "Judy" and sealed.  Slightly befuddled and taken aback, I opened the card, at a stop light, to find lovely words from a good friend- snuck into my purse, at some point, when I wasn't looking, just because...and I've learned to recognize those "little happys", as I call them, as God.  I smiled as I thought of how blessed I am in my life- how full my days are with love, surrounded by souls who care very deeply for the path that I am trodding and their place on it with me.

My faith in God waxes and wanes, especially when times are tumultuous and full of pain.  Lately, though, what I'm finding is a God who hangs out in the muck and the mire, who stalks me until I acknowledge his presence, mostly in the darnedest places, and at such unsuspecting times- in Giant Eagle three weeks ago, in the eyes of an old friend, and at the hair salon, yesterday, in an oddly clairvoyant conversation with my leaves me weepy and in awe- that for all of the times, in the last few years, where I have felt isolated and alone, I have been guided by a force beyond my comprehension.

Tonight, I am astoundingly grateful.

Friday, July 1, 2011


Meandering over to The Gypsy Mama, joining the blogroll for FIVE MINUTE FRIDAYS:  here is my unfettered, unadulturated post for the evening:
"Mommy and Lily Camp"-shake
tasting at local coffee hubs.
Liam, our lacrosse player- the "midi" position

Gymkhana Summer Camp! Trampolines, Zip-lines and
Climbing Walls, oh my!
Seth chose "Fwies" as his sole dinner request for his 4th birthday
Welcome.... to our summer- the season that felt like the prodigal son- having abandoned us for a long time- leaving me a little lonesome and bitter.  Summer in Pittsburgh is a rouse really- it exists to fool us into thinking that we might be able to stick it out just one more year...those five month winters, where the sky is endlessly grey and seasonal affective disorder is so much a reality to everyone that it is not really a disorder at all- just a state of being here in Western Pennsylvania- Summer makes us forget all that.  Splashing in pools, making new friends, learning new and exciting non-schooly things at camp. No bedtimes. Glorious family living.
Summer fun is falling asleep watching
a movie and getting an impromptu mask
courtesy of your pesky brother with a marker

Welcome to our summer.

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Bulb

I am a garden enthusiast- actually a garden obsessive/compulsive, if I'm really being honest.  I get all tingly in nurseries, like some folks do while eating Godiva or trying on shoes.  I've had to avoid spending much time investigating my landscape, this summer, in order to resist the temptation to blow our vacation budget on hundreds of perennials.  And I totally would- in a heartbeat.

Today, in a conversation with my therapist, I likened myself to a bulb- filled with life and beauty-but desperately in need of planting in fertile soil, in order to thrive.  We only had about five minutes left in our fifty minute session, but she fervently pulled out her easel, art paper, and paints, and demanded that I draw this- this image of me- a horticultural specimen of sorts-longing to bloom.

At first I painted using long strokes, with a wonderful new brush, but as I got lost in my work, I found that I needed to be more intimate with the medium, enthusiastically forming the rest of my rendition, using only my fingertips.

With the enchanting melodies, of a meditation CD in the background, bringing harmony to my artistic endeavor, I began to feel a deep gratitude for the opportunity to, at once, and without premeditation of any sort, get messy and whimsical and creative.  We forget, or downright refuse, to give ourselves permission to live that way in adulthood-why is this? Which then begs the question:  Is it really any wonder why so many of us are on anti-depressants?

So here I am:  "The Bulb"
Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Fathers Who Love Their Sons

I heard a story today, on the radio, that nearly moved me to tears, about a father who quit his job so he could be in Omaha, this past weekend, to watch his son pitch in the College World Series.

But tonight I'm going to tell you about a father who inspires me even more.  At 10pm, my husband, who was waiting at the gate for his very delayed flight home to Pittsburgh, cancelled his ticket, ran out of the airport, got back into the rental car he had just returned, so he could drive thirty-five minutes to comfort his anxiety-ridden and homesick eight year-old son, who is staying with his grandparents for "Granny Camp" this week.

There are many, many hours, in my almost fourteen years of marriag

e, where I would like to strangle this man with whom I share a life.  At the end of the day, however, it is love like this- this most selfless and palpable, unconditional caring for our children, that makes me feel nothing but awe and overwhelming gratitude for him.
Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Journey Toward Healing Part VI- I AM Powerful

Now I won't deny

The worst you could say about me
But I'm not defined
By mistakes that I've made
Because God says of me 

I am not who I was, I'm being remade

I am new
I am chosen and holy and I'm dearly loved
I am new 

Too long have I lived in the shadows of shame

Believing that there was no way I could change
But the one who is making everything new
Doesn't see me the way that I do 
Who I thought I was
And who I thought I had to be
I had to give them both up
Cause neither were willing
To ever believe 
I am not who I was, I'm being remade
I am new

Lily had gone ahead of me on the trail yesterday, so lithe and wonderful, determined to run all that was left of the four mile path we'd chosen.  Every once and a while she'd stop and look back, encouraging me to push myself beyond what I believed possible....and this song, "I Am New" by Jason Gray, began, and washed over me...reminding me of all that I have worked toward this last month, and all the potential that lay ahead of me.  I smiled and took off toward her, with gusto, meeting her at the half way point with arms toward the heavens, filled to the brim with joy.

I am inclined to wallow in the shame of having gained back all of the weight that I lost, last summer, when I was so strong and confident.  I could list, here, all of the reasons that this has happened-breakdowns, break-ups, sorrows, medications, the Pittsburgh winter....  Some of them may even be compelling.  But, in the end, it matters not because I am going forward-
Lily and I rewarded our toes with a pedicure, after our
4 mile run/walk.  
 its the only choice I have.

We created affirmation statements during my weekend intensive at the "healing center."  After looking over my dream board, and pondering what I had written throughout the day, regarding my dreams and my truths, I decided that what I most needed to hear and BELIEVE was that "I AM POWERFUL."  So often I whisper words of weakness, over and over, to myself,  feeling destined to repeat patterns of loss and defeat, when the reality, for me, is that I am not weak..  Evidence abounds, to the contrary, in fact, when I am willing to look for it and own it.

We "performed" for one another that first evening, in groups, coupling our affirmations with song and movement.  Despite my trepidation to participate in what appeared, from the outset, to be a goofy, if not potentially humiliating exercise, I heard the beat of the Black Eyed Peas' "Imma Be", which I'd suggested to my cohorts at the last second, and I found the girl in me who knows exactly who she is...and I broke out on the makeshift dance floor like a fiend- forgetting all of the self-consciousness and loathing that usually surrounds me.

"Imma be takin' them pics, lookin' all fly and shit
Imma be the flyest chick, so fly
Imma be spreadin' my wings
Imma be doin' my thang; do it, do it; okay"

The Logo for the Center where
I am finding myself again.
"Imma Be" ended up being the theme song for the entire weekend, and we danced together, several times, after that night, to that tune.  Its lyrics are fairly irreverent, and listing it in the same post with "I Am New" may seem odd, and, perhaps, to some of you, offensive.  But I make no apologies.  My writing, as is my life, is a compilation of many ideas, feelings, and truths, none of which fits any mold.  Its me.  And yes, I am powerful.  

About Me

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Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States
Forty-three year-old, mother and staunch advocate of four young children, passionate warrior of truth and self, finding the soul in each day, sharing my struggles and triumphs as I live them. Mostly I do this for me, so my thoughts don't race as much at night as they used to. But I also give this to those of you who need to know, in any or every way, that you are not alone.

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