Saturday, May 30, 2015

Talking With Kids About Mindfulness

From the mouth of babes.

I tried to watch this and talk about it when my 2.5 year old, but he wasn't too happy that I made him stop watching Curious George to see... not a win. But a good resource for how to think about feelings of anger and frustration related to how our bodies feel, and how to control it.

My Journey With Meditation: PART THREE (should I stop labeling these?)

Depression is the brain's way of forcing you into a meditative place.

That's an idea that occurred to me as I was beginning to combat severe postpartum depression with my first child.

I was sitting in a coffee shop, childless for the first moment in forever. I could barely lift my cup because my brain and body felt so heavy and spent. But the heaviness had a certain calm to it... the blankness had a certain weird measure of tranquility which was better than the anxious, racing, hold-on-by-your-fingernails survival mode of keeping my life afloat. Yes, it was totally cloaked/fogged by sadness and guilt and "depression", but there was a safety in it.

I wasn't choosing to go all "crashed computer blank screen" on myself... it was happening TO ME... but there was something almost relieving about it.

That idea reoccurred to me again today as I curled up in a ball on the sofa and covered my head with a pillow and said, "I can't do this one more day. I can't endure fighting for every inch with my first born and having no rational way to tell my second born that I just need two seconds to feed myself the crusts of leftover PB&J so I can still make milk for him... for one more day."

I'm a can-do person... to the extreme sometimes. My friends are SICK of hearing yet another one of my ideas. I'm pretty sure, "Hey! We could do _______" is something they never want to hear out of my mouth again. So when I max out and say, "I can't" it's a cry so deep, so true, so aching, so final.

My husband always says, "Aw. Yes you can!"
He doesn't know what else to say.
What else could he say?
If I knew, I'd give him a suggestion, because I hate hearing it... because when I say, "I can't," I mean it. I'm saying it from a place of total mental and physical emptiness... nothing else to give... no more resources to draw on... maxed-the-actual-fuck-out... pardon my french. (I've found extremely forceful language is often the only thing that makes people realize you are REALLY not kidding.)

But I've learned to receive these periods of total spent-ness with a measure of gratefulness. They remind me what it is to stop, to not feel all the feelings.

This is what meditation tries to bring into our day... but we're usually too helter-skelter to bring it into our lives on our own. When our Stress Response barrages our sanity with too much force, too often, for too long... eventually our bodies will force us there.

I want to experience the placid immovable quiet and 'stopped-ness' on purpose, intentionally... not because the motherboard of my mother-self is fried.

Still working on that.

But also learning to see the 'fried' periods with less judgement, with a little more thankfulness... because it's my body's way of protecting me until I can learn to protect myself.

SIDE NOTE: St. Teresa wrote (I'm going to paraphrase because I don't have the energy or will to get up and get the book), "Even if you're not in the religious order, you should always have a mentor/director so that you'll always have an authority over you because directing ourselves with our own will can be horrible." --- There is a safety in saying, "I can't... my body won't let me." In an age when we have shunted all authority/mentorship aside and must govern ourselves wholy, it is hard to say no... but when our body acts as a higher authority, it's a relief!

Friday, May 29, 2015

Sometimes... Just Float

It seems like it's far, far too easy to upset the balance of my family.

The past two months have had little "extras" embedded in them. Wedding, funeral, community service, child-rearing difficulties, co-workers out of town, co-workers quitting = extra work hours for KawaPapa. It's all mounted up and stretched the normal fabric of our routine.

It always seems fine while it's happening... almost fun! Yay! Something new in our routine! But then... The baby starts teething and stops napping or sleeping at night.
E-Money learns to climb out of his crib and also dips into another difficult spell where it seems like he is making it his mission to mentally and physically crush me. (You think I'm speaking in hyperbole! Oh I wish.)
Our iPad breaks... gets repaired... breaks again the same day.
Our laundry pile mounts up.
My insomnia flares.
The baby gets a fever and we're up all night....

And suddenly those stretched margins begin turning into ripped seams, and we're all falling apart.

I can't help but compare myself to others.... other families seem to be able to take on so much more and still stay afloat. What's wrong with us? Or maybe it's me. I mean... I know it's me. I'm the loose screw. That's why I'm here... writing about my crazy.

Sometimes I try to make a list of excuses for why we can't seem to keep it together under the normal pressures of life... wildly difficult toddler, sleepless nights, low paying job, no family in town, haven't had a hair cut in over two years, can't loose my baby weight this time around...

Sometimes those reasons ring true... and other times they just sound like whining.

..........................  and I could probably turn this into some kind of inspirational message, but E-Money just climbed out of his bed AGAIN and the baby spit out his paci AGAIN and I need to hide in a deep dark hole and just cry and catch my breath.

So here's the inspirational message:
Sometimes when shit hits the fan, you just don't clean up the mess until tomorrow.
Sometimes you just stop fighting the tide. You let it wash over you, drag you out to sea... if you struggle you'll tire and sink, but if you float on your back and watch the sky... eventually the water will bring you back.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Mysticism is Weird... PART TWO

I wrote earlier that Mysticism is Weird...

But if I'm going to give this subject the respect and dignity is deserves, I have to ask a hard question: Does my discomfort with mysticism (or maybe even my borderline rejection of mysticism) mean that I think I can handle my problems better than God?
Does my distrust of mysticism mean that I don't think God is able?
Does it mean I don't think he is willing?
Does it mean I don't really give him a place in my life?

By now you know I'm reading St. Teresa's writings (The Interior Castle).
She is a big fan of sitting around and waiting for God to show up and do cool mystical things rather than practicing a set of disciplines which bring God's light to daily routines. (That's a very simplistic way of expressing it which doesn't do it justice, but you get the idea.)  

This tends to be the popular Christian mindset. That we can bring nothing but wretchedness... therefore we're helpless to shape ourselves for the better unless he stoops to raise us up.
"Let go and let God." -- "God is sovereign." -- "Wretched, poor, and helpless we!"
(This is the mentality which can be so heavy for the depressed person... because if we're not raised up from an exterior power, what does that say about God's heart toward our suffering?)

Call me crazy, but philosophically I don't actually disagree with any of those things... BUT as I've pondered the subject I've come to two key conclusions:

#1 --- Our total fixation on salvation by grace through faith alone (which can often lead us to the conclusion that we are horrible, terrible, no good, very bad, yucky heads who can make no movement toward light on our own) misses a really really important point that isn't brought up enough:
When God's Grace has done it's good work, lifting the helpless dead thing out of the muck and mire, THEN THE HELPLESS DEAD THING IS A REVIVED AND REDEEMED THING.  

I think the church is so stuck on the grace of salvation that they've forgotten to focus on what happens AFTER GRACE.... we are redeemed. We are restored. We are sons and daughters of the universal king. We are glorious because his love is glorious. We are beautiful because we have souls designed to reflect the image of God... they just needed a little polishing and the light of love to be shone on them.

This is why, as a Christian, we do not need to be eternally self-depricating. We do not need to be eternally reflecting on our ickiness.... because we have been made new. Let's move past grace for a minute and celebrate what grace has done! That subtle shift in focus is radically life changing.

WHEW! That's a big one... kinda feel like just stopping there... but I'll press on so it will actually all tie together.

#2 --- God has set the road before us. We must walk it. He will help us. But he will not walk our road... if he didn't care about us slogging through the process, then he would just spirit us away to heaven. This means we are responsible for our own internal attitudes, mindsets, will, etc.

On the one hand we cannot do it alone (thus prayer and meditation are offered us as tools).
On the other hand, we do have to do it... thus tools are offered in the first place.

SO..... Mysticism (waiting for the divine to come swooping in) or Mindfulness (exercising our minds and spirits to live out a life reflecting the redemption of God)?

They both have their place, but I am confident that choosing an approach of Mindfulness is NOT an indication of doubting God's place, power, efficacy, or will to act.

Choosing Mindfulness over Mysticism is NOT a lack of faith.
It's just good and responsible 'follower-ship.'

Mysticism is Weird... Like JumboShrimp

As a Christian, when you begin to explore meditation and prayer deeply, people are quick to label you a "mystic" or to start recommending books on "Christian Mysticism" for you to read.

I don't know about you, but... when you say "mysticism" all I can think of is rainbow tie dyed T-shirts, weird candlelit ceremonies, and kooky phrases like "get in touch with the divine."  And #sorrynotsorry that is just NOT me.

I'm not looking for mystical experiences of the divine on the daily.

It's not that I don't believe they can happen... it's just, to be honest, at this time I don't feel like I need more mysteries in my day. I need more peace. More stability. More love for others. More energy to serve. More joy. I need to be able to look at myself in the mirror and smile. I need to have a calm heart so I can be there for my kids, my community, my marriage. (Not necessarily in that order.) 

I read a brainy, high-brow article by April D. DeConick this week. She wrote, "As a word, 'mysticism' has a notorious reputation... It is often used as an antonym for so-called 'rationalism' [and is] associated with so-called 'supernaturalism' in contradistinction to our contemporary scientific view of the world."  And I'm like... yeah... that. I prefer a more practical, scientific approach.

She goes on to explain that "as an '-ism'" mysticism wasn't even a word ancient peoples would have used to describe their experience. "When the early Jews and Christians describe their mystical experiences in a single word, they do so most often by employ the term... 'revelation'" (2).

If I'm going to have a revelation experience, God will be the chief agent of that encounter!
God knocked wayward Paul off his horse on the highroad while the dude was traveling to slaughter a bunch of Christians... not seeking him out in the slightest. My practice or non-practice will not inhibit God from revealing himself if he needs to or wants to. (Ok, ok, it might possibly slow him down because he has allowed us to be involved in this process... but that's another topic!)

The goal of my exploration and practice of meditation and prayer is not to achieve a revelation/ a mystical experience. When I turn to meditative practice and prayer, I'm reaching for something more practical... more daily... more habitual. I'm looking to train my heart toward peace, like you train a bean vine to climb a pole. I'm looking to train my mind to quiet so that I can sleep. I'm looking to train my anger to disperse before it explodes and hurts the ones I love. I'm looking to train myself to have a knee jerk reaction of compassion rather than judgement.

And here's the thing.... I think that's probably what most Christian Mystics are going for. But the title "Mystic" kind of gums up the works when it comes to sharing the way with those outside the faith.
It undermines their street-cred and makes them sounds like wackodoodles to the skeptical Modern.

Buddhism has acquired a much friendlier term that we, modern scientific Americans, are more comfortable with: Mindfulness. Brain training. And so, in the quest for winning hearts and minds, they're ahead.

So what is a better word we can use to describe the similar Christian practice?
Cause "Mysticism" is weird.

Let's brain storm. I got nuthin.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Being Present... Not Blogging

It was "David Is Off" day! Woo hoo! The first one in a long time without commitments to weddings, funerals, community service, yard work, you name it. So as you may well imagine, SUNBURNS WERE GOTTEN BY ALL! No, just kidding. Just us big people. 'Cause we're not bad parents... most of the time.

I was continually tempted to do some thinking/reading/writing... or maybe some problem solving in my noggin... or maybe some plotting for the future.... but then I thought, Nope! I'm going to focus on being Present. When my busy busy flittery fluttery skittery scattery always-working-overtime brain wanted to drag me toward some mental task, I tried to remind myself that:

Right Now is beautiful.
Right Now is precious.
Right Now is the only real thing.
Right Now is the foundation for everything that comes after it... so make it strong. Make it count.

To help me focus on the joys of the day (my toddler leaping into the pool, sharing homemade pickles with friends, nursing my baby under a tree, going grocery shopping by myself) I would say in my head: "Thank you God for this good moment. This true moment. I appreciate it for all that it is."

And now that the kids are asleep, my work is done (well, except for all that laundry. meh. oh well.), and my husband is playing with his newly fixed iPad.... I have a quick minute to tell you....

Being Present is Worth the Effort. It's not lost time. It's not lost work. It dignifies everything. It made today great. And you know what... I think it shows! David actually took a picture of me (which never happens... I'm always behind the camera), and I just look so calm and happy. For that matter, my kiddo looks pretty happy too.

Good day, dude. Good day.

That's all. TTFN!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

PART 2: Back Story Continued

Sheesh what a morning! Ok, let's see if I can write this before a kid wakes up.
(It looks like it's going to be kind of a big heavy one. Lots of thoughts... not a lot of funny. Sorry.)

"Throw up your hands like you just don't caaare!"

So, this counselor I went to 4 years ago... (the one who gave me Buddha's Brain)...
It seems valuable to me to mention that this guy was a Christian pastor. He had left the pastoral ministry because he felt he could help more people through professional counseling and psychiatry.

He and I had the same foundational beliefs. We also shared the feeling that somehow the popular/common understanding of Christianity Practically Applied was MISSING SOMETHING when it came to meeting the needs of the fragile and emotionally strained.
Not that the faith or the scripture was lacking, but that we... the culture of "Christianity/Church People" were missing something.
Something had dropped from our vocabulary.
Even with the appropriate tools of truth right in front of us, we weren't using the tools rightly. Somehow, somewhere along the line, in parsing out truth, we had thrown a baby or two out with the bath water. BATH WATER YOU SAAAY?? Picture time!!!

"No! No! Not the baby!"

This has created a great and painful gap in what popular Christianity offers to the modern world.
Even though many prominent figures in the Bible (King David, Paul?) struggled with depression, you have to really dig for clear answers on how to cope with this stuff in a practical way.

--- If we're depressed, we need a way to talk about ourselves that doesn't sound like virulent self-hatred (which is how a harsh retelling of our sin nature sounds to someone who already feels like killing themselves because they are convinced they're disgusting and hopeless).

--- If we're struggling with insomnia, we need TOOLS that go beyond, "Just ask Jesus for peace & rest." Because, while God is involved in our lives, it's pretty clear he doesn't micro-manage the details on the daily. He is in charge of the end, but he leaves it to us to walk the journey.

--- If we're desperately thinking, "I cannot do this daily routine of mine for one more freaking day! It's too much!" then simply answering, "It's what God calls me to" can sting rather than soothe.

--- If you Google "Bible verses related to anxiety", you'll probably get: "Do not be anxious about anything but in everything by prayer and petition present your requests to God." Anyone who actually struggles with anxiety will read that and... well... probably have a panic attack.
What if I do all that and God doesn't answer?
What does his silence mean for me... or tell me about him?
How should I pray? Like... outloud? Alone? Does emotion matter? Does length matter?
Does repetition help or does that show a lack of faith, since God heard me the first time?
What should I ask? For it to go away? To understand? To be free? To cope? To die? I give up.
This is all so unclear!
How can I just NOT be anxious? I'm not being anxious on purpose! It's physiological! And so it goes.

You know what hurting people do when they can't get answers and tools they need?
They find it wherever they can... they find it somewhere else.
Why else do you think so many people self-medicate with drugs and alcohol and food and addictions of all stripes?

So we have a choice:  Let hurting hearts find rest with Buddha's Brain (an excellent book)... Or... rattle the bushes of our own sweet faith for the pearls of wisdom we've lost along the way.

It's there!  It's there in our own tradition.... but it needs to be revived and revitalized and rediscovered and reapplied.

OK.... so from here on out, I'll try to focus more on ideas and solutions and less on open questions.


In other news... I'm really antsy about pressing "Post". Anxiety and fear usually keep me from being so open about things I actually care about in such a broad format. It's easier to be confident if you never put yourself far enough out there to get criticized. It's easier to hide behind light topics and pretty pictures than it is to express ideas which people love to hate. I'm not gonna lie, I'm kind of a wreck, but I'm trying to let calm and peace rule. I'm trying to overwhelm fear with a thankful heart that I have learned these lessons and they are true even if others disagree.


Ok, I was REALLY REALLY anxious about posting... I took it down altogether. Tinkered with re-writing. Finally just asked my husband to read it and tell me if I sounded like a loon. He said it's good to go... so here we go... finally, at 9:00 at night!

Monday, May 25, 2015

PART 1: My Journey With Meditation - Back Story

What is this nonsense? --- I've started a personal line of study into Meditation and Prayer. I want to do some writing on the subject to challenge myself to digest the information I'm gathering and be able to speak coherently about it. (You know, so it's not in one ear and out the other.) And also to keep myself accountable to continue with the goal I've set for myself.

I've debated about how to start. I've decided to start with a story. True story.
I'm going to tell my story of how I arrived here... because origins and journey and evolution are important in an topic like this.

(And a teeny weeny yogini with a goofy face, just for funnies to break up text. My first born @ 6months.)

Why this topic? --- I found "Mindfulness practice" on the brink of a mental breakdown about 4 years ago.

I went to a counselor and said, "I totally get why people do drugs to cope with life! My mind will NOT shut up. I can't sleep. I can't relax. I edit EVERYTHING in my head. I'm borderline OCD and getting worse. I am on the brink of breakdown. It's a hot mess up in here."

And my big fear:  "What if this is who I am? What if I can't escape this hell in my head because it's who I am?"

He pointed me toward the book, "Buddha's Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, & Wisdom." The jist of the book = We can change our brains. We can build "peace" muscles in our thoughts. Neurons that fire together wire together. If our brains are whipping us real good like a rag in a hurricane... we can stop the wind. (Mindfulness is having quite a moment right now, so this discovery is not ground breaking or new... I'll talk more about it later.)

He gave me some exercises. I practiced. And practiced. While brushing my teeth, while driving to school, while laying in bed. And slowly a small space deep in my turbulent brain (and I mean REALLY SMALL and REALLY DEEP) began to hush.
It gave me hope. I could control the situation. I didn't collapse.

Then I had kids. I could NOT control the situation. And I did collapse.
Lost my ever lovin' mind. Total mental breakdown.

(They don't call it that any more, by the way... it's called a Major Depressive Episode. But mental breakdown is a better description... because my mind broke. No ability to operate normally. I had never understood people who said, "I can't get out of bed in the morning" until I couldn't physically get out of bed in the morning. It's real folks. It's stupid and it's weird, but its real. Like a broken leg. Ok that's enough of that tangent.)

Many things worked together to save me, but a yoga class was one of the best tonics for my broken spirit. The teacher would say, "Feel the calm expanse of deep peace inside you. This is your true self. Know that you can return to it whenever you need to throughout your day and your week."

But I was faced with a challenge:  As a deeply committed Christian believer, how could I resolve the friction between the Buddhist thought and practice which were saving my life and the faith that I held to be true? Christianity told me that this peace and light were the antithesis of my nature which was black and sinful and fallen. Did I have to let go of my life-raft to keep my soul?

Hard questions if you are in the habit of taking these things seriously.

I began testing the concepts against doctrine and scripture to see if they could hold up.
What I found was surprising to me... and liberating and life-giving and life-changing... and that's the cliff hanger for tonight folks.

Highlights & Lowlights

These are the highlights of my day!...... Because it's a lot harder to take pictures when the shit is hitting the fan... which is what it has been doing pretty much the rest of the time.

Highlight:  Pickled home grown cucumbers with my own brine & spice blend.

Lowlight:   I totally bit my husband's head off for leaving for work at the exact moment that I had two screaming naked hungry children and no help getting lunch on the table. I didn't say thank you for the things he did... I just complained about the things he didn't do. And I feel bad. 
Not fair. 
Foul on the play.
I'm sorry.

Highlight:  These glowing ruby beauties from the garden. (Actually a friend's garden, because my garden looks like the Charlie Brown Christmas Tree of gardens this year... not enough sun.)

Lowlight:  It took me TWO HOURS to get the baby to sleep... after waking 6 times with him between 12am & 9am last night. After the zillionth time of him waking up, I had this churning rage foaming at the back of my throat. I did not "give of myself" joyfully or with grace and compassion. I growled, "Do you want me to give you something to cry about!?"
I'm sorry.

I don't think it's fair to just give the pretty pictures without also admitting to the screwed up parts of life. It's really the daily struggle that makes the pretty parts worth it and more beautiful, right?

So, thank you God for the beautiful... and help me God with the ugly.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Learning from Birds

I write A LOT.... far far far more than ever makes it to a public format.

This morning I was looking for some scrap paper to write a grocery list, and I found this scribbled musing instead:

I was watching birds dive off the branches of my pear tree.... free falling a distance probably 10-15x the length of their own bodies, then artfully shrugging their shoulders to catch a puff of air... slowing their descent and lifting their heads to land on the pencil thin rim of the bird feeder. Simple. Effortless.

Then I watched a mama robin chase her giant adolescent offspring out of the overflowing nest.
They ran and stumbled around the yard like they didn't know they could lift off. They looked hopelessly up at their mother who supervised their stupidity like, "Shoot me your traitor! This sucks!"

Even birds are afraid of hitting the ground. 
Built to fly, engineered to soar! But they have to be shoved out of the nest by someone who recognizes their potential.

I'm afraid to leave the nest because I don't know that I have wings. 
I don't know what my wings are for. 
If I knew, I think I could soar. 

Sometimes you just have to try.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Psalm 23 for a 2 Year Old

God is my shepherd...
(Hey! Do you know what a shepherd is? It's a person who watches over sheep so they don't get hurt. Let's imagine we're a sheep... Baaa! Can you say "Baaa!" like a sheep?)
The Shepherd takes care of everything I need.
He makes me nap and rest in a quiet place.
He leads me to a beautiful pool.
He give me my happy heart back.
He leads me on the right road so everyone will know he is a good shepherd to me.
Even though I walk through a very scary place,
I won't be afraid of any bad things
Because I know that God is with me.
God, you will use all your tools to comfort me.
God, you prepare a wonderful meal for me to show everyone I know that you love me a lot.
You give my head a big kiss!
My cup is full of my favorite juice.
I think goodness and mercy will be with me for my whole life AND
I will live in God's good house forever.

(My mother's day flowers... in a big pickle bucket from Chick-fil-A. Love.)


My grown-up take away today:

"He leads me on the right road so everyone will know he is a good shepherd to me"/
"He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name sake."

God has a vested interest in my outcome. He has thrown in his lot with mine. We're family. How I turn out reflects on how good of a parent/God he is. Just like me and my kids. He'll never walk away because that would make him suck... and he can't suck, because it's not who he is.

Toddler School - Science, Art, Geometry

Toddler school continues....

E painted a "choo choo" blue today. Mommy drew it (made of rectangles, squares, circles, and triangles) and he colored it in. 

When I tried to grab a candid shot he covered it up and shouted "CHEEEEESE". Ham.

Then we experimented with what sinks and what floats.

"Does it float like a boat or sink like a rock?"

He really loved this. Scientific method at its finest. Hypothesize, test, retest, deduce.

--Kawa Mama

Monday, May 18, 2015

Count the Cost... and the Joys

My favorite thing about this picture is how David can look simultaneously EXHAUSTED & so joyful. That face pretty much sums up parenting.

Sometimes (and by that I mean at least once a week) my husband and I look at each other and say, "What the hell have we done to ourselves having children?" And our eyeballs go... O_o

Parents know that the joys of parenthood are the highest high you can have in this life, so they don't tell you the dirty little secret. Kids cost you everything. They impact everything.

Here's one way to describe the cost of kids:

You'll never sleep in again.
You'll never casually decide to go out again.
You'll never be able to "run" an errand again... it will forever be a painfully slow inch-worm crawl that requires an entire weekend of psyching yourself up.
You'll never look at a mirrored/glass/lucite piece of furniture again and think, "Well that looks like a good idea!"

But there's another way to count the cost...

When you sleep, you'll savor it like the best sleep of your life.
When you go out, you'll suck up each cocktail drop like a hard won prize... you earned it.
Even running an errand alone can have the effect of a day at the spa. Ahhhh. Silence.
Your house will take on a harried warmth and natural functionality that reflects your true life... and that has a cool beauty of its own.

It's all about your perspective.

In the Bible, James says, "Count it all joy, brothers and sisters, when you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness."

Joy in trials? That's weird.
But when you look for those drops of joy in your trials on the daily, you gain steadfastness. (Steadfastness... that's an awesome quality. That's a word I want my boys to use to describe their old ma. She's always there... she's constant... she's steadfast.)

Trials are par for the course with kids. You might as well look for the joy.

Your perspective will determine your perseverance.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Loving Ugly People... and Other Beautiful Things

A few days ago a friend was telling me about her journey through the adoption process... she had to fill out paperwork which detailed what kind of disabilities in a child she would be willing to adopt.

Will you take a child with autism?
Will you take a child with cerebral palsy?
Will you take a child permanently wheel chair bound?
Will you take a child infected with HIV?

It occurred to me that when we talk about how Jesus adopted us as sons and daughters, we usually think of ourselves as cute little orphans with big round "hold-me" eyes and all of our limbs in place.

But what Jesus really did was.... he adopted the mentally-handicapped quadriplegic with HIV.
And that person is me.

Also this week, I attended a dinner to benefit and raise awareness of Citizen's Advocate: a sponsorship program pairing able-bodied folks with mentally and physically disabled/differently-abled folks.

The people who shared their testimonials of pouring out their time, energy, and love for the handicapped invariably said, "They have touched me more than I could imagine." And yet somewhere deep down in my heart, I have to be honest, I was glad that they are doing it so I don't have to. Isn't that truly sad?

When I realize how deeply the Father has bent down to wrap his arms around me (adopting me, the most handicapped, ill, unpleasant human with all love) how can I not long to pour myself out for others... ugly others... difficult others... completely-different-than-me-others? Because they are NOT completely different than me. We are the same.

I'm good at loving pretty people. Good at loving my own beautiful children. Good at loving my friends who think like me, eat like me, parent like me, look like me.
I'm basically a Narcissistic Lover... I love things that reflect myself.

Lord teach me to love as you love. Not looking for myself in others, but looking for you.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Blooming Where You're Planted and What You Are

This week I said to a long-time friend, "With most people I feel like I'm either too much or not enough. All my life I've been trying to be myself in a simple and balanced way. It's amazing how often being yourself doesn't actually work out."

This week I've been all emo, angsty, ridiculously introspective, and kind of annoyingly insecure. Basically I've been 13.

I know it's dumb, but it's hard to stop.  Like cocaine? *shrug*

It's hard to rein in the wild horses of self-doubt that stampede through your heart and make you want to run away from everything and start over in a fresh country where no one knows you're actually 13 on the inside.

Doubt is a cancer. It drives you away from friends & community. It drives you into your little hole.

It makes you feel unloved. Worse, it makes you self-focused when you should be fearlessly loving others.

Doubt is a joy killer! It takes the delicate flower, or wild rambling vine, or hearty tomato plant of your personality and shrivels it. It makes the functional tomato long for violet petals and the lily feel stupid for being purely ornamental.

Being yourself DOESN'T always work out... but that's ok. If you're a tomato you're going to be great at being a delicious summer snack... but you'll probably never be in a wedding bouquet (unless it's the new hipster thing).  If you're a lily, you're going to be an incredible ornament in a significant event... but no one wants you at their cookout. If you're a violet, you're going to pop your head out of the brown dirt first in the spring and brighten the bare times, but you'll never be surrounded by other glorious blooms... you'll stand alone.

We are all different. We all have our seasons. We have to bloom where we are planted and give the gifts we have to give.

Sometimes it's just hard to be ok with it.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Yogurt for Dinner

Tonight I was frantically trying to cook dinner with a crying baby on my back.
E-Money was trying to raid the fridge.

Me:   "Get out of the fridge. I am making dinner."
E:      "No! You not make dinner! I make'uh da dinner!!"
Me:   (Feeling sassy) "Ok, fine! You make dinner. What are we having?"
E:      "Yogurt."

He got me. He has a plan.


Don't Shower... SKETCH!

I should have showered after the kids were down for naps... cause I actually went to the gym!!

But treadmills are boring, and my brain is always going a million miles an hour... so I came up with an idea, and I had to sketch it.

What if we built little bitty single-person houses as permanent structures for homeless or transient populations? 

+ What would the programmatic needs of this population be?
+ What are the security concerns?
+ What are the constraints (environment, demographic, materials, etc.) that impact design decisions?

So I sketched and came up with this little guy.  Lots o' notes. I won't bore you.

Good little exercise.
I wonder if I could get a KickStarter thing going to make a few prototypes and install them in the Transient Camp under the Savannah Bridge?  That would be fun. We could do "post-user analysis" to see how they helped the community. Simple and direct. I like this idea.

Don't steal my idea! ... Or do, I guess... The more good we do, the more good-er the world is.

That's all. Now it's shower time.

***** EDITED TO ADD ******

And then a friend of mine sent me this!

Somebody is totally doing this!!! Niiiiice!
We can do it too, and do it better. That's the beauty of design.

***** EDITED TO ADD MORE *****

I've been looking at that guy's pictures and I like how we both have two key elements.... slant angled roof and a window that pitches out. Form follows function. Thumbs up.

Friday, May 8, 2015

I'm Back, Baby!

May 8th... well, five minutes away from May 9th.
The last time I wrote was May 10th, 2013. Two years ago.
It feels like an auspicious coincidence.

It feels like the completion of a large circle (or---as a wise man once said---a large pass around a spiral... a lot like a circle, but we're moving up!)

The last time I wrote I was at the beginning of a two year tussle with postpartum depression, the development of an anxiety disorder, a nervous breakdown, and an impossibly long recovery journey. I capped it all off with a second baby. Motherhood is like some weird form of torture. It will either break you or make you stronger... or break you and then make you stronger.

I'm stronger. Gentler. Softer. Kinder. Quieter. Simpler. And stronger.

I'm The Kawa Mama! But today, I know what that really means in a deeper and more profound way than I did on May 10, 2013.

I'm back, Bay-Bee!!!