When my mom
met my now-husband
four months before she died,
she told me I had to
“marry that sweet man”
I resisted, of course;
marriage sucked, and
my mom still didn’t know
Except, years later,
I understand she knew
much more than I
know, even now
As Anthony left
the house earlier,
that I was lucky to marry
such a man as him
“Not to be smug,” he added,
with a laugh
“Yes, I am,”
I replied earnestly,
“And I told your mom
she raised a good man,
(And then he
and that was
watched me grapple with
centuries of painful truths
in a couple
He’s supported me
even when he doesn’t
agree with my conclusions,
and encouraged me doing
what I must to
He has been
I don’t know if
I will blog here again,
but I want you to know,
if you take nothing else
from having joined me here,
that the best thing I did
my whole life
Out behind their grandmas’ house, my two little boys rocked back and forth on a two-person swing. I smiled as I walked nearer; they’re really growing into friends.
“Don’t take a picture!” commanded my seven-year-old, Li’l D.
“I wasn’t going to,” I said. “I’m trying to take more pictures with my heart these days.”
“That’s good,” Li’l D replied. “Sometimes kids just want their privacy.”
“I hear you,” I said. I do. From now on, I’ll only post about Li’l D with his permission, save perhaps in rare cases where his part in a vignette is peripheral.
Minutes later, I climbed into my car for a rare date with my husband. As I did, my mind was on those two boys swinging in the backyard.
Little by little, they’re getting bigger. Sometimes it aches to see how quickly they’re growing. Times like yesterday, though, my heart simply swells that I get to see them grow into their vocabularies, opinions, and friendship … no pictures required.
I have three full-blood siblings. Each of those three siblings are soulful, compassionate people; together, they have been my lifeline for most of four decades.
My siblings all had one elementary school teacher who never taught me in a classroom. Far from condemning my single mother, as most adults around my siblings and I did, this teacher praised her: “Any one of your children is kinder and more compassionate than any other student I’ve ever had. That all three of them are like that tells me it’s not an accident, but a reflection of you.”
I was never his student, but he and I became friendly in the years after my siblings left his classroom. He went on to teach teachers. He told me he used me and my siblings as shining examples of what you can become when you care for other people.
(When I had a chance to help one of his people a few years ago, I leaped! How seldom do any of us have a chance to explicitly show kindness to the people who have saved us?!)
Sometimes, I talk to people and wonder how they have so little faith in the folks around them. “How do you believe people are innately assholes, and only ever pretend to be otherwise?” I ask myself, puzzling over this until something or another reminds me: They did not have my siblings!
As my mom lost herself to untreated mental illness, I had my siblings. As our mom died of cancer, I had my siblings. After she died and I argued heatedly about how we should dispose of her house, I had my siblings.
(I was so angry about how we disposed of Mom’s house, I signed the papers upside-down to reflect my protest. Still, I signed because I understood my siblings were more important than a house, and I apologized later when I really understood it.)
And so, I have walked through every day of my life knowing I have three people who will support me even when they want to whack me upside the head (which is probably often). I have three people who know, absolutely, that my heart is full of love, even when the things I do or say don’t necessarily reveal that.
Most people don’t have that.
That is a sadness I can’t even fathom.
Most people have never even had one-third of that. Read more…
I wrote about priorities last week; specifically, I wrote about embracing the idea that many things aren’t priorities for me. Very few things are.
Since then, I’ve quietly considered my priorities. “Being online” isn’t one of them. This doesn’t mean I won’t ever be online. Rather, it means I have to be conscientious about the time I do spend online. I figure I have about 30 minutes a day before its opportunity costs–what I’ve sacrificed in my offline life to be online–outweigh its benefits.
Does this sound restrictive? It feels very much the opposite: freeing! Putting a boundary around my online time gives me the peace of mind to really settle into the physical world. For six months or so, I forgot how to do that. My whole world was reading (and writing) politics online almost incessantly, the better to understand heartbreaking, systemic political truths I’d never seen while simply skating over the surface of politics.
Sustaining relentless online time meant sacrificing time for things in the physical world that sustain my soul. This includes playing with my kids, snuggling and talking with my husband, walking, running, reading books for the pleasure of it, washing dishes, folding laundry, pausing to murmur a prayer of thanks, being fully in my rockin’ work, singing to musicals as I commute, picking up fistfuls of dirt and watching as it drifts through my fingers back to Earth, and sitting down face-to-face with friends.
I can’t spend too much more time writing about this. I’ve already used a good chunk of my time online today writing here, which is silly since this is all preface for a 7-minute video I recorded yesterday!
Day by day, I’m prioritizing better … and, as I think you’ll see if you watch the video below, it feels great.
When I left Japan more than a decade ago, it felt natural standing in front of any classroom. Not so today!
Today I read Dr. Seuss books to a classroom of second graders. 20 sets of second grade eyes turned toward me so that I fretted, “Was volunteering really such a good idea?!”
I quickly found my groove. I read two books, eliciting laughter when I used funny voices, before exiting to a chorus of thank-yous. “I liked that book!” shouted one boy as I stepped back into the hallway and toward the rest of my day.
I grinned my whole way back to the car. Comfortable or not, natural or not, I was briefly able to combine two of my favorite things: books and kids. No matter which way I look at it, that made my morning a win!
About twenty years ago, I took Econ my first term at university. Since it was online, I could fit it in whenever I wanted from week to week.
I don’t remember much of what I studied in that University of Oregon basement Social Studies computer lab. My brain’s been filled with law, contracts, and IT knowledge that’s displaced much of what came before. And yet, reading a political text a couple of weeks ago, I rediscovered an economic concept that matters very much to my life right now: opportunity cost.
Before I read that, I’d understood I haven’t been using my time well recently. I just didn’t have a way to explain it clearly, not even to myself … until I saw the words “opportunity costs.”
When I spend hours on Twitter, when I have arguments not worth having, when I type long essays in states of dismay, I’ve wasted precious minutes much better spent elsewhere. In doing one thing impulsively (or compulsively), I’ve lost an opportunity to do something else that I genuinely wanted to do. Something that might power me through fights worth taking on.
I decided I need to be more conscientious about how I spend my time. I’m making better-for-me choices (virtually!) every day.
Today, home sick with an adverse reaction to something or other, I cheered at this post … and an exchange of comments below it. Athena’s words spoke to thoughts already on my mind, reminding me to actively choose my priorities.
Rather than regret opportunities squandered, I’m going to start saying, “It’s not a priority.” No one else gets to define mine or dictate them to me, though my husband, kids, and manager have some say!
Today, my priority is resting, followed by snuggling, reading, and reflecting. These things refuel me in ways that no amount of caffeine or sugar can.
I need the real stuff. The good fuel.
What about you? Are you getting enough good fuel?
Reading an article on resilience recently, one particular paragraph struck me:
Academic research into resilience started about 40 years ago with pioneering studies by Norman Garmezy, now a professor emeritus at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. After studying why many children of schizophrenic parents did not suffer psychological illness as a result of growing up with them, he concluded that a certain quality of resilience played a greater role in mental health than anyone had previously suspected.
My mother, who was beautiful, vibrant, and offbeat through her 2010 death to cancer, had schizophrenia. I thought my husband understood the complexity of this until we had a startling conversation in 2015. Afterward, I wrote: Read more…