Take heart. I bet you have it together more than you think.
For goodness sake, it’s not like you still have Christmas decor lying around in your shrubs in July!
Take heart. I bet you have it together more than you think.
For goodness sake, it’s not like you still have Christmas decor lying around in your shrubs in July!
“I have to tell you some-ting.”
Today the shortest and most precocious member of the household woke me up full of ideas. Could we surprise daddy with early late father’s day? Could we get a cat and name him Sparky Fur? (Sparky is the first name and Fur the last name, in case you were curious.)
At first I was all like, no we can’t have early late Fathers Day! (We missed the actual father’s day because the father was traveling. And then the whole family was traveling. And then the mama had to wait for the custom-ordered mug from Walgreens.com to arrive.) But then I was like, hello of course we can have early late father’s day. Sure the gifts aren’t wrapped and the child is naked (ALWAYS) and the husband is in stinky running clothes. But let’s be wild and crazy and just do it!
So we did. And I realized I also forgot to write in the card I gave my husband. I told him to project whatever it is he wants to hear from me onto the card. I think it would say, “You are the greatest husband and father especially with keeping the house clean and I’m sorry I never do the dishes because I can’t stand your refusal to rinse the dishes before piling them in the sink!” Maybe that last bit was me projecting. It’s ok, I’ll own it.
Anyway, hope you all had a very special regular on-time (or maybe even early late) Father’s Day!
(P.S. We are not getting a cat. And no we cannot get rid of the dogs to get the cat named Sparky Fur! I’m now convinced the only person giving love to our old lazy beagles is yours truly.)
*There is no surprise party, but don’t let this detail derail any and all plans for surprises. The more surprises the better! Same goes for pinn-attas. And candy. And cake. Speaking of cake, did you remind your mom to make a cake??!
Tomorrow will mark a year since I sang a song for my mother, an experience that still gives me goosebumps. Everything about that experience was infused with loving grace. I’m writing another post for tomorrow, but in the meantime I thought I’d share that post from last year.
There I was, palms sweating, all eyes on me. My heart was racing. Around me, new friends (very new)—most of them twenty, thirty, even forty years older than myself—urged me on.
“Will you consider it?” They asked.
Would I consider it?
I knew in my heart the answer was yes, even if my sweaty palms said no.
I was at choir practice, and these new friends were fellow members of the choir that I recently joined, which is part of the church that I recently joined. (You know, working on building my village and all that jazz.)
In the way that only deep, deep pain can motivate us, I recently came to the realization that I can’t do this life-gig solo. I need a village. Comrades. Partners on the path of self-actualization
I needed a faith community .
Seeing as I’m liberal-but-leery-of-organized religion, I naturally decided to check out our local Unitarian Universalist church. Their mission statement is “Love. Grow. Serve.” Who can’t get behind that? They describe themselves as an “open-hearted multi-generational community” and that is what I found the instant I walked through their doors.
The people I’ve met in this faith community include a baby-boomer hippy guitarist, a young physics professor, a Jewish grandma, a seventy-year old blue-bird enthusiast, a musical theater professional, and more. (And, they literally greet you with homemade muffins and coffee. In fact, they give new members the yellow mugs, so they can find you and say hello. It just so happens the yellow ones hold the most coffee, which also makes me love them.)
I immediately knew I wanted to join the church choir. Their Director is young and talented. The choir is small and half their members are snowbirds who return north for summer. In addition to needing more warm bodies, I had a hunch they would also benefit from having a few more members who could read music.
So there I was, at the second practice of my new choir at the new church I joined.
There are precisely four sopranos including myself. Judy, who carries a Monet Water Lilies tote and a tin of cough drops, sits to my right and watches out for me. She found an extra binder of music and shared her post-it tabs with me.
I was enjoying the practice. We were rehearsing the old Appalachian hymn “Bright Morning Stars” for Mother’s Day.
Our Director announced she would need a volunteer to do an a capella solo for the first verse, then we would add another part with each subsequent verse.
I absentmindedly scanned my music. I wondered who she had in mind to sing the solo. I was sort of relieved, in fact. Thank goodness I’m new, for surely she didn’t have me in mind, I thought to myself.
And then Judy tugged my arm and pointed to me. My palms started sweating. A lot.
“Will you? Will you consider it?” she asked?
I looked up and all the others were smiling kindly. Wait, what? They were serious? Several altos nodded and smiled at me. I looked at the choir director who was smiling, waiting for me to reply.
It was then that I heard myself say yes.
It is hard for me to describe how much this moment stirred me. I have always loved singing. From as long as I can remember I have sung in a choir. In middle and high school I took voice lessons and competed with other awkward pre-teens in various music festivals, singing with girls’ ensembles and honor choirs and on and on.
Recently, the most singing I’d done was in my shower or dancing with my pre-schooler to Yvis’s Yogurt Song.
And here I was, nonchalantly saying yes to SING A SOLO. In church. My voice, alone. What on earth was happening?
I was still wrapping my head around this fact as our Director paused to tell a story about this particular hymn. She explained how she had performed the song with a group of inner-city youth, most of them living on public assistance of some form in a very low-income area. She said how she talked to them about the meaning of the lyrics, how the song is about a parent’s sacrifice for their children.
It as at this point in the story that she said, that one of her high school students began whispering. Being the great choir director that she is, she cleared her throat and asked the young woman, “Excuse me, do you have a question?”
The student looked up and told her, “My parents are dead.”
At this point my eyes welled with tears. It turns out, of course, that the song is actually a metaphor, and it was about the eternal love of a parent toward a child even beyond death. The choir Director said she explained this to the student, how the song wasn’t literal but in fact about how the love of your parents goes beyond death, and perhaps this young woman’s parent’s were watching over her. Loving her still.
Well, at this point I didn’t know how I was going to sing this song about dead mothers. On mother’s day of all days. With my own dead mother up in heaven like that precious child’s.
None of this mattered. I seemed to be carried by the energy of this group, and I suddenly found myself moments later singing the solo it out into the empty church. I finished and heard the choir members begin to clap.
Judy turned to me and said, “that was beautiful.”
The choir director wiped a tear away.”I don’t know why I’m so emotional today but that really moved me.”
Not only did I get through the song about dead mothers without crying, but I sang the whole thing fairly effortlessly.
And here is the crazy thing: I have always dreaded and hated solos. I have a traumatic memory of me singing at a competition when I was maybe fifteen years old, totally breaking under the pressure of performing in front of others. (I was perfectly fine in the comfort of the pianist’s living room when we had practices.)
Singing out loud, alone, used to be too vulnerable. I was fine blending my voice with others. Exposed and in the spot-light, I would wither and crack. My outsides didn’t match my insides. Or maybe they did, because I felt cracked inside too, I hadn’t yet embodied my voice, and was many many years from that being the case.
And so I circle back to today. This week. I sang effortlessly. I suppose you could say I found my voice.
Today is Mother’s Day. I will put on my pretty blue dress, my heels and my mother’s jewelry. I will go with my daughter and husband to my new church, where I will sing a solo in front of my new, multi-generational faith family.
And I will sing out about how the love of our mother’s transcends death.
I will sing a song for my mother.
Has she fled to Canada?
Is she wandering the woods of Chappaqua?
Is she holed up with Richard Simmons?
No, no, and *shudder* thank God no!
No, rather she is KNEE DEEP in envelope samples, logo designs, print runs, branded stickers, merchandise photography . . .
It’s full-blown ETSY SHOP SETUP over here!
Nearly seven weeks ago (!!) I wrote about how I was reluctantly going to setup a shop to sell my bird prints and such.
Wow, a lot can change in seven weeks.
If you had told me that by April 1st I’d eagerly be entering data into a PROFIT AND LOSS spreadsheet I would have laughed out loud. Truly.
And yet here I am. Not just casually getting a few prints made (which would be fine) and slapping a few up on Etsy. No, I have fully immersed myself in the venture.
Branding! Product! Profit Margins! Search Engine Optimization! Suppliers!
It is nothing short of delightful. I never knew that I had this entrepreneur energy within. I spend every spare moment working on this (hence the lack of blogging).
Yes, it has truly been a year full of continual unfolding that surprises and delights.
I look back to where I was a year ago: broken-hearted, cying-while-I-sang-in-the-church-choir, painting birds. Hot damn that was a tough year–but all that hard inner-work is finally bearing fruit. Who knows what the next year will bring.
So yes, the answer to Where is Sarah? is that she blissfully creating and ever-so-eager to launch her Etsy shop. I cannot wait to share this with you all very soon!
Until then, if you’ll excuse me, those profit-loss spreadsheets won’t calculate themselves.
Yesterday I started a list lessons from the
little bastard teacher that was 2016.
Numbers #1-10 were posted yesterday.(My spirited child hindered efforts to finish this in one fell swoop.)
#11. SWEATY PALMS. Lot’s of sweaty palm moments. I’m not talking about gratitude for my generalized anxiety (though I do have lot’s of love for Paxil….) No, I’m grateful for all the SWEATY PALM moments that seemed to culminate in Summer-Fall 2016. Those scary but good moments when I pushed a lil’ bit outside my comfort zone with people I trust to support me. That’s right, I decided to share my writing publicly not just with strangers but with people who know me. (!!!) I started by sharing a piece I wrote about my grief and healing journey. It discusses fun topics like the loss of my mother and miscarriage! The reception I got from family and friends was incredible. This paved the way for me to write and share some other pieces – see item #20.16.
#12. A greater appreciation for family in all shapes and forms. I miss my mom. I miss my extended family that lives 1200 miles away. But it makes me savor the moments I do share with them that much more.
#13.Peppa Pig— because without her I could not be writing right now. As my husband says, turn on the child pacification device!
#14. Loving my kick-ass body. The year started off really crummy – I had a miscarriage. And what I did not expect about this experience was how hard it would be on my body image. Every ounce of extra fat reminded me of the fact that my body had been pregnant…and lost a pregnancy. I wanted all reminders gone (as though that would magically make it all better). Well, I finally decided to change the script. I’m not saying it was always sunshine and roses but little by little I have morphed the ways that I view my body. I started swimming and found myself in a flow experience a lot of the time. And now that pool temps have dropped I have started running. I used to hate running. Now I love – and I mean love- the feel of my thick muscular legs, my strong arms pumping, the wind in my hair. I don’t look remotely like I did at the start of 2015 but dare I say I am in awe of this bigger, stronger body?
#15. It’s getting a little serious on this list. I am grateful for ambient music even though it won’t put my kid to sleep. I am grateful for dark chocolate even though it kept my kid up very, very late. My child’s refusal to sleep came up again and again and again. BUT GUESS WHAT. We have instituted new routines and last night my child was down, in bed and left to her own devices to sleep in 20 minutes flat. <—- CoNTACT the PONTIFF cuz THAT THERE IS A MIRACLE!
#16. Sharing my healing journey with Sound of Music gifs.Because if you can laugh instead of crying, or heck, even while you are crying, it makes it all a little bit better.
# 17. Slinkies.Apparently the cheaper and simpler the toy the more it keeps my kid entertained. (And the plastic kind doesn’t bend and warp like those old metal ones we had did! Brilliant. And it comes in rainbow colors. Hoo-ya!)
# 18. Blogging friends. Which are simply friends in my book. Thank you, dear readers and fellow bloggers, who have supported my writing and my journey. I am beyond thankful. (Also, you need to read these blogs asap: One Blue Sail, Plainmama, Dana Schwartz-Writing at the Table , Kimberly Harding Soul Healing Art, 20-20 Spiritual Vision and more I’m sure I’m forgetting.
# 19. Coffee. I stopped drinking it for a cleanse and I subsequently wrote about it nearly every. single. day. that i was without it. Coffee, my dear friend, I love you. And clearly I cannot live without you.
# 20. Peppa pig playing in one continuous loop in Amazon video streaming. Bless Peppa for still keeping my kid entertained so I can write.( Also, factoid, did you know the Brits pronounce “Zebra” as “Zeh-bra”?!)
#20.16 This number is tiny, which is perfect because I am only .16 grateful for this one. I’m grateful for the awakening that has resulted from Trump’s election. See, I didn’t say I was grateful FOR Trump, that would be going a tad too far. Here’s the deal. Trump’s blatant misogyny–seeing patriarchy laid bare–compelled me to break my own silence of surviving sexual trauma. It has compelled me and so many others, too. I am hopeful that the pain of this election will lead to an awakening and a stirring of voices who have remained silent for too long. Or who have been silenced for too long. Change starts with ME.
That about sums it up. Tonight, join me in dancing on the ashes of the fire monkey year from hell.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
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Guess which Christmas song is my daughter’s favorite?
A live recording of Andy Williams performing what might be the cheesiest, grooviest rendition of Jingle Bells that you have EVER HEARD.
Those dancers! The jazzy flutes! I cannot get enough of this song.
What makes it extra special is that this cheesy CD was a gift from my grandma many many years ago and it brings back so many good memories. My grandparents hosted a party every year on Christmas night. Grandpa and grandma raised a blended family of twelve children, enough for each day of Christmas! As you can imagine it was quite a crew of grown children, grandchildren, and any and all assorted friends who had no where else to go on Christmas (and whom my grandma welcomed with open arms).
Pretty sure my beautiful grandma is tickled pink up in heaven knowing her great-granddaughter is in love with one of her old favorites.
Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and blessings for a beautiful season and new year, however you may celebrate.
Friends, solstice is upon us. Tomorrow. That is right, the days of winter darkness shift toward the light. I don’t want to speak for y’all but damn, it is time for the dark days of 2016 to exit the building.
The church I attend had a lovely solstice celebration this past Sunday. We toasted “wasail” (apple juice) to the new year coming and the the turn to light. And there was an urging to think about darkness not as something “bad” or “evil” as it is often considered in our culture, but instead as a gift. What if we met it with gratitude? We couldn’t have 24 hours of sun – everything requires a period of rest and darkness. What if we look at the darkness as a womb capable of creating and birthing life anew?
Never before have the themes of winter solstice resonated with me so much.
This year brought lot’s of darkness for me. Not in the form of “bad” or “evil” but in the form of letting go, release, and being left with emptiness and not-knowing. The not-knowing is SO HARD for me. I am not a patient person when it comes to just sitting. (I get this from my mother. The woman moved ALL DAY LONG! She would be sitting folding clothes at midnight while watching tv.) So yes, sitting, waiting in the stillness, not knowing, and knowing that it isn’t time for me to know just yet? SO FREAKING HARD. I wrote about this in September and it still resonates with me — how it feels like frog swimming and let’s just say that is not a pace I like.
Yes, if I am grateful, this year brought many gifts that did not feel like them at the time: the release of pain and loss, more pain and loss, and shedding of that which no longer served me. The dissolving of identities and patterns and masks that are no longer needed. I feel as empty as the northern wood, stripped of leaves, all life burrowed away and hiding in hole.
It was a year of pausing. It was a year of rest.
It was a year of embracing the unknown and unexpected, of holding on to faith and hope that eventually the wheel will turn, the axis of the earth would slowly and eventually move its position in relation to the sun and the days will grow longer. They will — at last — tomorrow!
On Solstice Eve, value the dark. On this longest night of the year, before the light overcomes the dark, sit in the dark (alone or with others) and think about the importance of darkness. Bless mushrooms that grow in the dark and honeysuckle that sends its luscious scents into the night. Be grateful for the darkness that soothes us to sleep, the darkness that animals require for hibernation. Give thanks for sheltering dark places: the rich earth where seeds germinate, the caves that harbored our ancient ancestors (and where some of our sun gods were born), the cellars that keep us safe from tornadoes, the wombs that provide our first nourishment. Acknowledge the darkness of suffering, which can deepen our appreciation of life and strengthen our connection to one another.
From a post at http://www.uuworld.org/articles/celebrate-winter-solstice and Excerpted with permission from In Nature’s Honor: Myths and Rituals Celebrating the Earth (Skinner House), copyright 2005 by Patricia Montley. Available from the UUA Bookstore (see link below).
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