It’s an Adventure!

Whenever I am bored, I always wish things were more exciting. 

But when things get exciting, it never really seems to be the kind of exciting adventure that I was hoping for. 

You’d think I’d learn. 

I had someone tell me once that I liked classic adventure, like Indiana Jones, that I like the idea of challenge, but didn’t actually like going out of my comfort zone. I think they were off base (and given that I was told this by someone thirteen years ago and I’m still miffed about it… either they were more off base than I thought then, or they were closer to the mark. Maybe a little of both. I think I’ve taken their remark as a challenge, to do what they said I didn’t know how to do, and have taken on more things that stretch me, simply to prove them wrong.)

I love the idea of adventure. 

I celebrate the adventurous things I have done: whitewater rafting the headwaters of the Nile, serving as a Volunteer with Peace Corps Kenya, giving birth to two children without medication or medical intervention, hiking four days on the Appalachian Trail with four days notice, trying all the new recipes that I continue to find, marching in DC, Charlotte, and Raleigh…

These are good adventures. Not all of them were as picture perfect as I’d imagined, but they were good bucket list items. 

And then there are the hidden adventures: raising two girls to love themselves in a world that tells them to judge their bodies, serving churches that have traditional and normative expectations when I don’t fit into the box (at one point, actually gesticulated to me by a woman on an elevator who was simply surprised to learn that I existed), discovering how to live into a marriage where we see the world differently and how to look together at the ways that we want to learn about the world, and the itinerancy system. 

And then there are the adventures that throw our lives into massive new experiences: the itinerancy system, parenting, pandemics, storms, and other challenges. These are adventures that define us by how we respond to them. They are the big ones, the ones that change the landscape of our lives. And even though I’d rather tell you the story of how I rafted the Nile, I think I am a more interesting person because of how I meet the challenges of these new adventures. 

I’m definitely not bored, now. 

When it is too much

Breathe in, Breathe out, Breathe in, hold it, breathe out.

Relax your shoulders, release your jaw, loosen your stance, and breathe into your belly. 

Ok. 

Go for a walk. 

Watch the baby rhino video from the North Carolina Zoo.

Get a scoop of ice cream.

Put on that movie you can quote the whole way through.

Write out a list of: 

  • Concerns to address
  • Things to do
  • Friends to call
  • Places to go
  • Family to visit
  • Things to release
  • Scriptures to memorize
  • Neighbors to check on
  • Lists.

Get on social media.

Get off social media.

Bake cookies, make treats, eat veggies, grab some fruit.

Make a plan.

Let the plan go.

Take a bath. 

Paint your nails. 

Do push-ups. 

Or sun salutations. 

Or lay in shavasana for a solid twenty minutes. 

Laugh with a child.

Dance to angry, happy, silly, graceful music.

Drink some water. 

Or something stronger.

Plant a flower or a tomato or a tree.

Find a waterfall.

Find a swing.

Watch a bird discover a seed.

Write, in a journal, or on morning pages, or for a blog, or submit to a news organization. 

Read a book that you’ve never heard of before.

Read a book that you love so much that the cover has fallen off.

Watch the clouds.

Play a game with a friend.

Play a game on your phone.

Create a story.

Breathe in, breathe out.

Breathe.

 

Two notes. If you are struggling with anxiety that is affecting your ability to do usual life things, please get help. This is a number to call to receive emotional support.  Or call a friend you trust. Second, this post is inspired by a question that my friend Sarah Howell-Miller asked and received responses to, so, credit to the folks who responded to her, and to her for asking. 

In Between Mornings and Evenings

I wish I had better mornings. I miss the mornings where I could wake up and go center for twenty minutes. I miss my cup of coffee with the world growing brighter and the silence of the night giving way to the early chirping of the birds and the quizziting of the cicadas. I miss the mornings I woke up and did a section out of Common Prayer with my husband as we began our day together in ministry. 

Those days are not presently possible, but hopefully not gone for good. Although it never happened with great frequency, I wished I could do a yoga routine with all of that. And I still have to eat a protein rich breakfast in order to not feel like I am about to collapse by 11:30a (it’s touch and go sometimes anyway). 

My dream morning routine would probably last over two hours… and I simply don’t have time for that these days, especially since I have a darling twenty-five pound cuddle buddy that expects me to curl in and offer milk at all times of the night, and especially loves her last dream feed at the hour before I have to get up to face the day. 

It’s a season. But I wonder if my dream will ever become reality. When I didn’t have children, I had my other reasons that I couldn’t get up early enough to do my dream routine… usually because bedtime with my husband was late enough that to get the necessary sleep, I needed to sleep in until we both got up to get breakfast. Or shower, or both. 

When I was in div school, I had the hardest time having a conversation with my first year roommate while we rideshared to campus. I think I am a morning person… but not a conversational morning person, at least not on a student sleep-deprived schedule. Even now, if I don’t get my first cup of coffee in my system before my firstborn wakes up, my patience and ability to have a coherent conversation is tenuous and paper thin at best. 

I had far more fun in the evenings when I was a student. But these days, if I am awake at 10p it’s because we’ve had an important phone call or a little one is still restless or I got stuck in a project that I thought was going to take less time than it turned out taking. 

Life is strange, isn’t it? 

These days, give me the day. And I will do whatever I can with it. Mornings, evenings, or the time in between… how ever long it lasts, this is the season I am in, now. 

Catching Moments

A year and a day ago I took a photograph of the tiny face of my sleeping twelve hour old Roar. It is currently the best photograph I have yet to take. The light is streaming in behind her, but diffused in the gentleness of the sheets and covers surrounding our nest of warmth. We are gently resting from the ordeal of birth the night before, but resting in our bed together, beginning the journey of learning from each other how to nurse and feed, how to ask for what we need and how to get what we want. 

Both girls when they were very young made this delicate huh-huh-huh sound to say please can you feed me now. It faded over time, and now all I’m left with is a fading memory of the sound. She was so small, and for such a small amount of time, quickly growing through sizes as she smiled for the first time, discovered her hands, and found her ears. 

I took a replication of that photo this morning after laying her down for her nap, her hands curled around her face again, the light, now, different, the covers patchworked under us as their color brings a vibrancy that mimics the way Roar plays now with us, her family. 

Photographs of Rebel, her sister, have worked to capture the innocence of that shot, but this one photograph is simply perfect. One of the reasons I like it is because there is actually no way to do it again. We are in a different bed in a different house facing a different direction. I’m not having another baby. There will never be another twelve hour old Roar. It is incredibly precious for that. She is precious, for certain, but while I have this photograph, I remember the way she taught me what she needed when she was so tiny and delicate. 

Roar is certainly not delicate, even though she continues to be precious. She’s substantial, and surprises us with her joy and emerging personality. As sisters, Rebel and Roar laugh and play, together and alongside each other. She’s watching us, keeping us in check, and making sure that we never leave her out of the fun.  

Love Me Like This

What is your radical act for today?

Today I woke up and knew I needed a better day than yesterday. 

Yesterday was not a good day. 

Yesterday was a day of going on a walk to yell at the universe.

Yesterday was a day of rummaging through the pantry to figure out a meal at the last minute rather than putting together a meal plan and going to the grocery store with two kids and being creative. 

Creativity wasn’t going to fly yesterday.

And then today I woke up and my pants didn’t fit. And my shoulders hurt. And my right pinky is sore again. And my right hip is tight from where my daughter sleeps. And my scars were bright red again, which hasn’t been the case for years. 

Sometimes I need the reminder to live into my body as it is. Whatever it is doing at the moment. It does work. I need to thank it for the work it does. 

My imperfect feet

Sometimes my body is asking to be loved as it is. Just like this. She whispers gently, as if she isn’t sure she’s allowed to ask for things for herself. “Just like this, please. For now. Before we begin the checklist. Start with love.”

And then, sometimes my mind is lying to me, telling me that I am unable to do anything. Telling me that the world is beyond salvation. The family is too much to handle. The house will never be good enough to live in. 

The time is too thin for any… time… to breathe… 

Caring for my self begins with loving my gentle edges and soft curves as they are. But sometimes, I need a glass of water and a sandwich. Or an orgasm or a hug. Sometime she cries out because I have forgotten to care for what she needs: the yoga, the water, the protein, the fruit, the caffeine, the sleep, and the movement that keep my emotions stable enough for me to be able to love those who live with me. 

The poem isn’t saying those things aren’t good. They are good, but they are not an end to themselves. 

Loving my body as she is, like this, is an end unto itself. But it’s not all I need. I want more than what the gentle animal of my body wants. I need more. To feel my body do all that she is capable of. I need more. 

 

This piece is a response to “Today I asked my body what she needed” by Hollie Holden. I ran across this a while ago and my writing partner, Heather, shared it with me again as our prompt. I love how someone else’s words can spark and influence my ideas and creativity. I find it valuable to hear what someone else needs and to consider my own needs. Reading poems like this gives me permission to need things for myself. Not that I don’t think I need things for myself, but often I feel guilty for needing things for myself. I am reticent to allow myself the space to dream big. 

It’s better to not feel guilty when I dream. It’s better to let go of the “should”s and limits when I set down to dream of what I need to give myself. And it is better to see where I need to give myself permission to do the things that are healthy when I can let go of artificial restraints. 

Sometimes all I can give myself is the ability to ask for what I need from someone else. But that is so terribly huge. It is not something I have been able to do very well. I’ve had to learn how. 

And now I’ve learned how to ask in a way that healthy both for me as I ask and for those from whom I need help. It’s a give and take, of course. A partnership. And it is still in flux. I don’t have it all perfect. But I don’t need perfection. I simply need something I can live with. We cooperate together to create a life worth living. It’s worth the work.