Thursday, July 28, 2011

I am taking a few vacation days in order to move.

I am moving households.

When I married, 19 months ago, he moved himself and the bare necessities into our house. I felt it was best for the kids.

And it was.

But now, a year and a half later, on the heels of launching a new business, sending kids off to college and everything else that is our mid-summer life, we are moving ourselves to HIS house.

I always wanted to live there, anyway.

I am happy. Seems like this is something that I've been waiting for since the day I said, "I do."

"I do want to live in your house and share your space."

"I do want to integrate all of us into your life."

"I do want to move past making room for you and move towards a new place that is ours - all of ours."

"I do want to design a new kitchen together."

"I do want to leave a lot of my stuff behind - literally and metaphorically - and start fresh, clean, simple."

Getting to the simple part seems littered with a LOT of work. My feet hurt, my shoulders hurt, my back hurts.

I am annoyed that I don't seem to be able to get enough sleep.

But I have absolutely nothing to complain about.

So I won't.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

On Feet

Daniel's feet in Tony's face, driving to Florida last year.
The writing prompt this week from my little group of Friends I've Never Met is on feet.

I've thought and thought. Frankly, this was an compelling topic for me, for I've always had a soft spot for feet. Not quite a fetish - nothing so weird as that - but an appreciation for the tender vulnerability of feet.

As a mother, my infant children's feet induced a strange, precious fascination. As they nursed, I would cup their tiny feet in my hands and marvel at the vulnerable life entrusted to me.

Those days are memories now, creeping into the nostalgic, sepia thoughts that begin with, "I remember when you were little...." and end in bewilderment, as I gaze upon young adults and wonder where the time went. My youngest - the one who just a few short years ago made a midnight trek to my bed every single night to cuddle and doze til morning - now wears shoes sized 10.5. His feet seem to be way past vulnerable, reflecting instead a gargantuan future and the sorrowful inability to share shoes with anybody else in the house.

My husband has feet that are unblemished, uncalloused. Tender. Oddly enough, his hands are rough and worn, with dirt and dust under his fingernails at the end of each day. He is a hard worker, and it has taken a toll on his body. But his feet are tender, more like those of a newborn than a 50-something man.

And they are sensitive. Diabetes has opened the door to a slight bit of neuropathy that causes just enough discomfort during the day to become pain by evening.

He crawls into bed at night and waits for me, as I check the kids, tidy up, wash my face, adjust the A/C. I walk into the room we share and my gaze falls to his long limbs stretched out across the bed, his eyes closed as he begins to drift towards sleep. His feet stick out; he is tall, lanky, and never quite enveloped into the bed until he gives in to an honest, deep sleep.

As I pass by, I cup his foot in my hand. It is the tender, protective desire I felt for my children as I watched them sleep. Innocent, vulnerable, open; I want to wrap myself around this soft underbelly, this soft skin.

He startles, every time.

Sometimes he speaks.

"Don't touch my feet, baby..."

And he drifts back to sleep.

Things change. All that we feel compelled to protect sometimes blows by on strength we never expected. What we see as necessary is often simply our own desire to reach out and touch, to reach back and grasp a time that hindsight has revealed to be of greater innocence than we ever imagined.

What is tender and exposed does not always welcome our touch.

This post is thrown out into the air thanks to the encouragement and random association I have with a group of FB/Blogging friends. We've never met, but we are like-minded souls. Together, we understand the value of life, in this order: Write, Eat, Post, Bathe. Thus far today, I have accomplished all but one of the stated goals of our self-titled group. If you would like to join our group, you probably can't.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Productivity: Or Not

Today I kept an eye on Shannon Brawley as she recovered from losing her wisdom teeth, did some packing for our impending move, did service planning, had a great meeting with someone who will be serving at church, caught up on admin stuff for work, chased after email, had several PCC-related phone conversations, ran to Office Max and watched an interesting wrestling with the laminator, took two kids to Sweet Frog, wrote a blog post, taught a piano lesson, interviewed two prospective music teachers, hugged my parents, let my son drive me home in MY car (don't tell his stepdad), made rice bowls (with lime/cilantro rice - watch out, Chipotle!), figured out how to do cucumbers like they do at Asiana Bistro (good because somebody gave us about 25 cucumbers) and store them in the fridge for snacking - yum!, applied medicine to my son's infection, cleaned the kitchen (mostly) and watched an episode of CSI. And now I'm going to bed to read a bit more of "Unbroken" on my Kindle app for my iPad.

My favorite parts of the day are the ones with "Mom" all over them. And the moment that will come in about 30 minutes when I close my eyes and fall asleep.

I struggle with feeling "productive" on a day like today. I go and go and go, talking and thinking and encouraging and listening and just doing whatever is on the calendar that needs to be done. I check Facebook and read email and keep an eye on Twitter and watch the world fly by. There is NEVER a moment when I feel as though I am "done" when it comes to my job; every seven days, there it is again - SUNDAY - and it's hard to escape that constant pressure. I like it - I crave that adrenaline and that creative state. But days like today are necessary. I wasn't in the office and I don't necessarily feel "productive", but I've been on the go, doing lots of different things out of the different elements of my life and letting my mind sort of expand.

Writing about this tonight helps me recognize the value of the day. It will help me be creative and "productive" tomorrow.

But I'm thinking about those cucumbers and wondering if being productive is maybe overrated.

Shout Out To Mike Sessler

This is Mike Sessler.

This blog post is a shout out to Mike Sessler.

Mike is the Technical Arts Director at a large church in California. At some point, I stumbled upon Mike's blog and have religiously read his posts in an attempt to have intelligent conversations about things completely unknown to me.

Techy things.

I'm amazed and astounded at what is doable in the digital media world, and I only appreciate about a tenth of all that's going on. From my vantage point in my role at PCC, I understand the basics of lights, audio, graphics and video - but these days a basic understanding will get you, basically, nowhere. In the church world, Technical Arts are just that - both artistic and technical. Add ministry and team leading to the mix and you've got a very interesting job description.

Mike writes in a way that helps me navigate the waters of unfamiliar seas. I get leadership and ministry and arts, but technical knowledge has flown way beyond me. Mike inspires and informs and writes like he's just a doggone nice guy; one that knows what he's talking about.

So shout out to the blog - check it out here - but also shout out to Mike for giving me 20 minutes of his time via telephone yesterday for an impromptu interview. He let me pick his brain for a few moments, which gave me a fresh perspective and some excellent insight.

He's a doggone nice guy. Smart, too. Smart, nice people who aren't afraid to help others make the world a better place.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Looking For Balance

I've been busy. Oh, so busy.

Last week, a friend told me that by his count, I had five full-time jobs.

Piano teacher.
Small business owner.
Something else, but I can't remember right now. (Is being a wife a job? No, I don't think so...)

Well, whatever it is, I'm probably doing it.

And lately, it's all been pretty overwhelming.

My husband opened a store. We're in the music business, and we've planted ourselves smack dab in the middle of Powhatan Village, which is a GREAT place to be.

We've opened a music store, and people are coming. And spending money. And signing up for lessons. And buying equipment. And asking questions.

I'm teaching there a few days each week, and supporting and encouraging Tony along the way. I'm proud of him and I'm excited.

And I'm exhausted.

Did I mention that we are also moving, in about 10 days, into a house that we'll be renovating in the next two months?

Life's a crazy ride right now. But honestly, it's not all bad. I just have to find balance.

I know I have it somewhere. It's buried up in my room, underneath a pile of laundry.

What we did today - organized (balanced!) a huge inventory of music. Woo hoo!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Why I Write

Why I Write
At its purest, my efforts to write are more about processing than anything else. I'm all about that "an unexamined life is not worth living" business, and I use words to do most of my examination. When I blog, I do that work in public. Which is sort of weird, I guess. But it works for me. Odd as it sounds, it brings an element of "reality" to the process.

Sometimes I talk out loud. In fact, I do that a lot in the car; prepping for conversations, working through issues. Or just talking to myself. Verbal blogging; comes from the same place as the writing.

Maybe I'm a little weird....

Basically, I write to understand myself, mostly.

I also write to see what others think. When I first started blogging, I anxiously awaited the buzz of the comments. They were affirming. I felt better about myself when somebody said something nice about a post. I felt important. However, all that has faded. I like comments now - but I don't write for any reaction. I do find myself wondering what people think, and a negative comment will stick with me, but it's not a huge deal. Like it used to be.

But I still wonder.

I also write often from my real life role in as a creative woman in leadership. It's a unique perspective, a unique role and a unique church. Probably two-thirds of my posts are written with that audience in mind.

And I write to celebrate my kids. They are incredible stories in their own right. Sometimes I like to tell them.

What I Expect
I expect that I will understand myself a little better. Sometimes I think I don't do life and relationships very well, so I write about myself, throw it out there and see what sticks. The feedback I get often reassures me that I am not alone. Re-reading my own writing reminds me that I'm alive.

How It Makes Me Feel
Writing is cathartic for me. It's often incredibly healing and helps me move past things. it helps me process and cleanse emotional junk. It makes me feel healthy.

I also find it exciting to communicate about things that I feel are important or that might matter to others. I like to encourage and inform, and blogging is a good forum for that.

Doing It Professionally Or For Fun?
All my life, I have been a voracious reader. I love books. I'm getting pickier in my old age, but I'd rather read a book than see a movie any day. Good books have stayed with me for decades. I still remember reading John Iriving's The World According To Garp while in high school and being totally, completely smitten. I loved the characters and the story, but I was drawn to the author. I wanted to do that.

I've always wanted to be a writer; but only a good writer. Blogging is a small way of keeping my foot in the door while hiding from the fact that what I'd really like to do is write something of substance, something that made a difference in somebody's world.

I'd like to be somebody's John Irving. I'm not sure that's my calling, but I enjoy the exercise.

Do I Hide It From My Real Life?
I blogged through a divorce privately. That was my first venture into writing outside of diaries and journals. I do believe that if I had not written as I did (and found kind, supportive voices to read and encourage me), I would not have survived as I did.

One of the character flaws that led to my divorce was my propensity for leading a double life. I do my best to avoid living that way now. I blog in real life and its all connected to my online life as well. I've having second thoughts about all that, but only because I can't keep up with all the relationships.

This post was in response to a prompt. I am part of a group of writing friends who have never met. We call our group Write, Eat, Post, Bathe . We understand our priorities.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

My Little Breakdown

A picture of me.
I came as close to what I'd call a nervous breakdown today as I ever have.

It all just felt like too much. When the straw fell that broke the proverbial camel's back, I was at the kitchen table, hunched over my computer, trying to manipulate technology that I don't really understand in an attempt to complete a creative process that I fully comprehend.

As if that makes sense.

Anxiety, stress, a sense of everything tightening around me and no place to go. Difficulty breathing. And then tears leaking out of my eyes, morphing into sobbing. A "mom sob". What you do when you know the kids are in the next room, and you know that they'd freak out if they saw you crying. Especially when they ask, "What's wrong, Mom?" and you reply, "Nothing. EVERYTHING!"

I sat at the table and fell apart because I couldn't get a video converted. And the spiral of everything-that-is-wrong began in earnest. Things were named that have been lurking in my subconscious. All my fears and failures (that's in a song, isn't it? Points for the first one to name it...) All that was unknown. All that loomed before me; decisions and dilemmas.

A whole lot of stuff. Big stuff. Serious stuff.

I sent a text to a trusted friend. "I don't want to talk. I just need to say this, I need you to pray for me. I am overwhelmed...this is why...."

I named all that I could.

On Facebook, I jumped in on a conversation among a group of people - none of whom I have ever met in person. I asked them to pray for me.

They did.

My husband came home. So much of my fear and anxiety seemed to land on his head; it all had something to do with him, it seemed. It's not that he had done anything wrong or owned any blame - it's just that our lives are so intertwined, it's impossible to overlook the crossover.

And so, buoyed by prayer, tingling with tears, and shaking with anxiety, we started to talk. I was mad, pouty, snippy. And then I asked if we could go sit on the porch.

In the dark, snuggling in a wicker chair, I cried. I talked. I vented.

I just told him how scared I was, of all the things I couldn't manage, didn't understand, couldn't control, didn't know.

After a time, we sat together in the dark, and I reflected back on the message I heard at church tonight. God made us for companionship.

We are to carry each other.

I opened my mouth; my truth came out, along with fear and pain and hurt and anxiety. It came to rest and ascended on the prayers of friends known and unknown, and in the arms of somebody who promised for better or worse. Tonight might have been one of the worst, but the flip side is relatively easy to access.

Tonight, I am grateful.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Star-Spangled, Grace-Filled Independence

Here's what we did in church yesterday to set up the message:

Hat tips to Billy Metzner on guitar, John Ivins on Independence and Dave Santella on the edit and upload.

I love my church.

Saturday, July 2, 2011


1. I drove Syd and Shannon to Dulles yesterday for their flight to Macedonia. What should have been a quick five hour turn-around took 10 hours. Hello, Friday on a July 4th weekend in DC traffic!
2. David had his first shopping experience at IKEA, since we had to pull over somewhere to rest. And there it was - a huge blue box of comfort and joy and air conditioning! $300 later, our bellies were full of Swedish goodness (cheap, good food!) and we were ready for the next leg of the Never Ending Drive.
3. Did I mention that Big Red's A/C was only blowing hot air? And that it was 96 degrees yesterday? That'll wear you out.
4. We listened to Christmas music during the drive. For the first time in years, I am excited about Christmas at PCC! Planning ahead is good!
5. IKEA purchases were for the store, so when we hit Powhatan around 11PM, we went directly to Powhatan Music & Sound to have fun with allen wrenches. I love IKEA picture people.
6. Found Tony, Jim Wheeler and Daniel at the end of THEIR 14-hour day. They were as tired as we were, but they had A/C.
7. I put together three chairs and stocked reeds and strings. This took several hours.
8. At 2:30AM, David started saying, "Mom - are you sleepy? I'm not sleepy. Not at all. But we could go home. But if we do, I'm just gonna watch tv. I'm not sleepy. Are you sleepy? I'm not sleepy."
9. We came home around 3:30AM. My boys worked hard. I am so proud of them.
10. I spent another 30 minutes printing some materials for this morning.

This means that I went to sleep around 4AM, as did the proprietor of Powhatan Music. And yes, it's opening day - and you would think that we would be there at the break of dawn to be cleaning up and readying the place. But we are night owls - hello? - we are musicians!!! - and we did all that last night.

So, Mom and Dad - this is why, when you called at 8:30AM, we were indeed still asleep. But no worries: it's 10:30, the store is open and we're headed into another 20-hour day!

And life is good.

P.S. The Macedonia team arrived safely. Yay!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Time Flies - Macedonia 2011

Syd with a Roma girl two years ago in Macedonia
Shannon and Syd leave for Macedonia tomorrow.

Sarah has been in Europe for two weeks already.

My, how time flies.

These girls - my babies - have grown up and embraced the opportunity to fly, literally. They are pouring parts of themselves into other people, across the globe, in places foreign to them.

I have set this aside and tried not to think about it, really, because if I think about it, I am overwhelmed. There is little fear or anxiety anymore -just a general, maternal, "Please be safe..." panic that ebbs and flows. I have learned that they will go, and that is that. I pray for protection and miracles and simply learn to lean into a trust that I've yet to develop, but one that is there when needed.

Seems these sorts of character issues grow out of necessity. You don't even realize it's there until you look back a recognize how it was pressured into existence.

Syd wrote this tonight:

God, you are good. So good. You have entrusted me, labeled me as one of your own, and sent me out into this world. You have honored me with a partnership with you and the Roma people. This week it is my prayer that you move through me. That your light shines through every pore in my body. That I become a ball of inextinguishable fire for you and your greater purpose. Let healing begin this week, eradicate all injustice and pain. Begin to blend the line between heaven and earth so that the Romani experience what true, unchanging, eternal love is. What your love is. This week give us the ability to soften Romani hearts so that you can mold them. See you in Skopje.

Shannon with a Roma friend in 2009