Babies

Happiness Depends on a Good Breakfast

Screen Shot 2017-06-15 at 12.54.32 PM

The author William Martin wrote a book on parenting, The Parent’s Tao Te Ching: Ancient Advice for Modern Parents, and in it he shares the poem above.  I’m not a parent, not yet, but I do suppose I’ve been parented (that’s a word right?).

Well I’ve seen the poem before and I’m sure I nodded along saying ‘yes, yes, those words make sense.’ This week I saw the words again, and they oozed into my being. I accept the lie that I am NOT extraordinary much too easily. My thoughts bounce and roll upon gritty terrain in my head as I beat myself up for not having the right career, not being travelled enough, not yet earning those expensive letters behind my name. I get stuck staring at choices and wonder if MBA, or LPN, or LCSW, or MFA would fit me best. Sure, sure, I can appreciate a great peach, but I haven’t published a novel and I haven’t been listed on the ‘thirty under thirty’ list of young, successful business leaders in my community.

Stop!

When I come to the surface again, and can calm that pounding drum of a thing called my heart, I remember to reevaluate. Like Martin says, ‘striving seems admirable, but it is a way of foolishness’. Silly me, how foolish. No one wants the letters F-O-O-L-I-S-H on a resume.

The letters that suite me right now are as follows.

W-R-I-T-E-R

I’m growing into these letters and embracing the truth that these letters are a gift. Being able to eloquently communicate thoughts, observations, human emotions. What a beautiful thing.

W-I-F-E

I used to roll my eyes at the women who used those letters to define themselves. Psh – MBA is much better. Nope. Nope. Wrong again. This journey called wife is immensely extraordinary.

E-M-P-A-T-H

I am one sensitive stinker and sometimes this hurts. As I’ve written over and over, the world is a hurting place. Being empathetic, sensitive, and observant means you can’t ignore the world’s suffering. It like walking through sandpaper, always living with some level of texture in the air. The ever present grains of sand rub away at the calloused layers of pain that try to make your heart hard. I can’t do it. I refuse to turn off my sensors that allow me the ability to view other’s pain.

This sensational quality of being an E-M-P-A-T-H gives fuel to my other letters. It makes it easier to be a W-R-I-T-E-R.

Take off the smudged glasses of striving, and the world begins to be a remarkable place. Andy Rooney captures this so well when he says,

“For most of life, nothing wonderful happens. If you don’t enjoy getting up and working and finishing your work and sitting down to a meal with family or friends, then the chances are that you’re not going to be very happy. If someone bases his happiness or unhappiness on major events like a great new job, huge amounts of money, a flawlessly happy marriage or a trip to Paris, that person isn’t going to be happy much of the time. If, on the other hand, happiness depends on a good breakfast, flowers in the yard, a drink or a nap, then we are more likely to live with quite a bit of happiness.”

Put on the hiking boots of extraordinary and you can travel well through all terrain.

This week I went to water aerobics for the first time. The youngest in the pool by twenty years, I walked the lanes, and did my lunges, and water rolls with a funny group of older people. Have you ever thought about the magic that is a swimming pool? Someone figured out how to get hundreds gallons of water inside, how to keep it clean (we hope) and a decent temperature, and some fitness instructor figured out that we can jog laps with low impact on our knees. I’m not sure if I’ll go back, but trying something new with people you’ve never met, while intimidating, can be a beautiful thing.

I also brought dinner to one of my friends from high school who just had her second baby. Meet Evelyn.

IMG_5303

What an extraordinary thing that the people God gave you to be your friends can create tiny humans! No really, they made TWO babies! As I was walking around Trader Joes, picking ingredients for their dinner, it stopped me in my tracks to realize how extraordinary it is that we have the potential to bring babies into the world. I put a small bouquet of flowers in the basket, and Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups too, because dessert. A beautiful thing. Tiny toes, and delicate fingernails, and baby snuggles, even more amazing. Let us walk together through all stages of life.

I go back to Martin’s poem and I reflect on the way I was parented. Sure, there was a large amount of encouragement to strive. I was an over-productive high school student with amazing amounts of ambition and extra-curricular activities. I remember sitting in a Harvard informational session at the age of 13. I blame Gilmore Girls for that experience.

Yet, as I continued to grow into adulthood, lessons of empathy and emotional intelligence and self-acceptance rose to the top. My parents were really good at getting me to calm down, to stay grounded, to keep my crazy striving in check.

Another set of letters that describes me is D-A-U-G-H-T-E-R. I have this horrible thought that because we lost my dad, I’m maybe half of that now. A daughter only to one parent, not two. Like maybe the letters should not be capitalized, or truncated to half of the word.

F-A-T-H-E-R-L-E-S-S

These letters sting a little. I became fatherless just over fifteen months ago.

Stop!  The grandest of magnificent lies.

Yes, it’s true that my dad left this world.

However, I will always always be Roy’s D-A-U-G-H-T-E-R.

The lessons he gave me will always be extraordinary.

I’ve thought a lot about how I wanted to honor him on this second Father’s Day without him. Last year I spent the day in tears – my sweet in-laws being amazingly supportive as I snuck away, not once, but twice to call my mom. I sat on the porch wiping my tears and snot on the grass (sorry Mike, the smears on your lawn probably washed away).

This year, I become green with envy every time I see an article that was published in a magazine about another W-R-I-T-E-R’s father, or loss, or grief, or missed chances with their paternal person. I’m not yet ready to submit my story to a formal publication (here I go striving again).  I plan to stay off of Facebook, and will spend time with the best father-in-law a D-A-U-G-H-T-E-R-I-N-L-A-W could ask for.

I can, however, leave you this list of the things I ache for as my dad made the ordinary come alive.

  • Waffles on Sunday mornings. He would shuffle into the kitchen in his nasty plaid pajamas and make beautiful, fluffy waffles for us. Chocolate chip for me, topped with strawberries and whipped cream. He was good at weekend breakfast.
  • Fishing on the river – he always made us be enthusiastic outdoor adventurers. He would smile at us as my brother and I grimaced, lugging our fishing gear to some remote spot to put a fly in the water. He wouldn’t get too mad when we splashed upstream, probably scaring away all of his fish friends. Splashing brought joy. Casting did not.
  • He taught me to follow through. When I was getting my driver’s license he made me drive up to Wyoming and back at night so I could get my night hours. “Most parents just sign off on these Dad,” I grumbled. “Well, I’m not most parents,” he replied, “let’s get in the car.”
  • He drove me to junior high every morning. I’d be sleepy and cranky in the front seat, yet he always tried to have conversation. Not the best timing for connecting with a thirteen year old, but the effort was there.
  • Screen Shot 2017-06-17 at 8.47.33 AMToaster hash browns. My favorite breakfast for years. Morning routines were Dad’s responsibility and he kinda sucked at weekday breakfast. Over-cooked eggs and toast with peanut butter smeared with mayonnaise because he always forgot to wash the knife between making our sandwiches and our morning meal. It was hard for him to screw up toaster hash browns. I’m going to go find a box. Dad loved breakfast. Like Andy Rooney, he knew, happiness depends on a good breakfast.

Happy Father’s Day papa. I miss you so very much.

Giving Light – Emily A.

I was so excited when I noticed an email light up my phone this morning! Our first entrant! I wished I could have rushed home to put this post together. Thank you to Emily for being the first to share her 5 beautiful things.

Giving Light – Emily A

tumblr_o87ey4luew1qzvd5lo1_1280

Small Bio: I’m Emily. Momma by occupation. INFJ. Lover of nap time, justice, being outside, efficiency and learning.

1.My exuberant and exhausting six month old son’s sweet, gummy grin.file_001

2. Mountains

Last night I had a dream that Hazel Green, Alabama was only a 15 minute drive to the snow covered glory of Alaskan mountain ranges. I was so frustrated I’d lived here a year before figuring this out. If only.

3. Long distance friendships.

We are different people than we were 12 years ago in our freshman year of high school, but despite all the changes and the separation of miles and months, our loyalty and commitment have grown. Long live the group text.

file_000

4. Me

I AM BEAUTIFUL. Without exception or apology. Even if it feels like a lie or an arrogant thing to say, I will keep reminding myself anyway. Because as a woman, there is hardly anything more radical and revolutionary than self-love in the face of a consumer culture that wants to convince us we’re not and sell us the solution. I AM BEAUTIFUL. You are, too.

5.The small gifts in the daily grind.

Since reading Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts, I have tried to make a discipline of noticing the holy handouts in the mundane. They are many.

beautiful-thing-5

I love this quote by Andy Rooney about such gifts.

“For most of life, nothing wonderful happens. If you don’t enjoy getting up and working and finishing your work and sitting down to a meal with family or friends, then the chances are that you’re not going to be very happy. If someone bases his happiness or unhappiness on major events like a great new job, huge amounts of money, a flawlessly happy marriage or a trip to Paris, that person isn’t going to be happy much of the time. If, on the other hand, happiness depends on a good breakfast, flowers in the yard, a drink or a nap, then we are more likely to live with quite a bit of happiness.”

If you are interested in giving your own light, click here to learn more.

One Word

One word. Babies.

When my world fogs with confusion, and moving forward feels difficult, I rest in the hope that babies provide.

Now, now, hold your horses. I am not talking about my own future offspring, and I am not expecting a bundle of my own joy. Talk to my mother about her disappointment in my perpetual five year plan. You know the one – when you get married you say you will be expecting kids in five years. I’ve got a year and a half of marriage on the record, but still we say, ‘Oh, we will have kids in five years.’  That calendar is still moving itself a ways out, into the future.

In the meantime, I get to experience so much joy and wonder when spending time with friends who have committed to parenthood before me. There is something beautiful about watching your friends morph into their new role as parents. It is humorous and wonderful to see how they juggle new strollers, baby wipes, formula, and taking turns changing diapers.

Having only babysat for little ones, I caught myself thinking, “they actually know what to do with all of those plastic bottles and lids. They’ve got themselves together! They can take their kid out in public, and are making such a fantastic team!” My heart filled with pride as we got to spend time with one of Dylan’s best friends and his wife, and yes, their baby. A six month old, bubbling burst of joy. This little nugget was the happiest baby I have spent time with.

IMG_3683

Holding his little fingers as they wrapped around my thumb, watching his eyes follow a stuffed monkey as his dad danced it across the table, those experiences are balm for the soul. And as I still find myself weeping in the afternoon, or aching to call my dad to discuss the Rockies opening game, I return to the hope that Jackson provides. This little guy has so much to see, to experience, to embark upon. Let’s continue to make the world a beautiful place. For him, and for me, and for you, because as we move forward, the world needs more beautiful things.

Thanks to Mike & Josie for making such a beautiful little baby.

Ripple

11247498_1024355304244230_2613442579884093998_n

Photo taken by Kate Kosakowski

Who has heard of the author Shauna Neiquest? A phenomenal author with a focus on the real, in touch with the joy and the pain that we mingle with each day of the year, Shauna’s writing came into my life right after I graduated college. A friend of mine gave me her book “Cold Tangerines – Celebrating the Extraordinary nature of Everyday Life” and I could not set it down. I think I read the whole thing in two hours. I never read her second book, “Bittersweet”, but am drawn to her famous quote, “When life is sweet, say thank you and celebrate. And when life is bitter, say thank you and grow.” I found myself tip toeing in between sweet and bitter this week. The sweet and beautiful involved the celebration that one of my friends from high school had her baby. She is a beautiful little girl that I can’t wait to meet. It is amazing to stop and ponder the potential that we all have the capability of creating human beings. It is awe inspiring to know that little beings enter the world in every second of every day. We get to participate in the loving and nurturing that comes with the responsibility of taking care of one another. The rain has continued this last week, and the clouds and the gray continued to taunt my fellow Coloradoan’s as we crave our depleted Vitamin D. This week, while standing in line for our coffee, I had a co-worker show me a picture she took of the ripples in a puddle.  I quietly stared at the photo, and felt blessed to be able to witness the simple beauty in a ring of water moving out in connection to other elements touching the surface of rough pavement. This image reminded me that our energies, our enthusiasms, our excitements, our sadness – they all impact one another if only you stop and look around. Trite, perhaps, to use the metaphor of a ripple of water, but this felt like a reclaiming of sorts. A mental mastery of the weather which I cannot control.

The bitter came in the news that we lost my uncle this past weekend. He was fifty five. He has six kids, four grandkids, and a wife. While their family lives in Texas, and I did not have the luxury of spending more than a few days a year with them, he was a member of my tribe. My heart aches for my cousins, for the years stolen away, and for the grieving process that lies ahead. I head out to the funeral in the morning. I was struck, this week, by how quickly life shifts with moments of the unexpected. How life and death can happen on the same day, and how both of these incidents create so much potential. The cries of a newborn baby, or a final breath of a loved one, have immense ripple effects in our hearts. If we let these every day moments move us as they move others, they create something beautiful. What is creating ripples in your own life? Are you saying thank you and celebrating, or saying thank you and growing? Biscotti: Cherry Chocolate Chip Essie: Material Girl