I Love You But…

I love you but…

I love you anyway…
I love you even though you…
I love you in spite of…

This, for a long time, was my support network of love. A lot of my people anyway.

They didn’t mean me any harm. They really did love me. At least, in the way that they are able to love. But, they made it a point to constantly point out what I had done wrong, what kind of person that made me, and how I should feel lucky that they would still love me after all that.

My transgressions have varied, from having children out of wedlock numerous times to having a small intimate wedding for 25 people instead of a big all-inclusive family wedding for over 300. For no longer labeling myself as a Christian. For being a single mother living in poverty. For posting about politics too much and daring to correct anyone. And through all of this, there was always the inevitable pointing out how it was all was my own fault.

For a long time, the vast majority of my people made it very clear that I was only lovable if…

That I was still okay, but clearly I was lucky they had chosen to stick around. And of course, that I could learn from them.

And they were careful not to give me too much praise or credit, because I was damaged, after all. And because of this, it was very unlikely that I may be right about anything because of how badly I had screwed up my life.

But they loved me anyway and I should be thankful for that.

And for a long time, I believed all that. I bought into it because it was what I was taught and what I had learned. It was built into who I was.

 
Ultimately, I decided that the whole “good enough” thing is bullshit. And that what other people think of me is their business.

 
But that I get to make my own definition.

 

And I stopped going out of my way for people who only love me if..

For people who make qualifiers on who I get to be and what makes me good enough.

I didn’t throw anyone out of my life or even block them.

It would be a clearer description to say that I merely let them go. A process I have been learning and relearning my whole life.

I would be lying to you if I said that parts of this process weren’t absolutely heartbreaking.

But what I have gained is people who love me no matter what.

I realized that there are people who will truly be there for me, instead of just saying they will. People who will show up no matter how busy they get. They will go out of their way to make sure that I know I matter. They will care when they don’t have to and love me at my best and my worst.

They love me no matter what.

People who love me so much that they give me the benefit of the doubt rather than automatically assuming I am wrong, or cruel, or damaged.

People who are there for the good days and the bad days and the worst days and the everything in-between days. The people who always remember to invite you and never stop making you feel welcome.

And the thing is, when I stopped taking up so much time trying to please and be what everyone thought I should be, I made a lot of space in my life for figuring out who I am. And when your main group of people do a mass exodus on you, it gives you lots of time to find out who you are.

And as the people dropped from my life, as I was no longer apologizing to them for who I was, I made space for the people who don’t feel I should apologize for being myself. And found that they actually just love me for me. As simple as that.

I could’ve stayed where I was my whole life. It was safe and familiar, even if I had to hide myself in order to be good enough. I had to tone myself down to be acceptable. I could’ve kept being lucky that they still loved me.

But I define my worth, and when I decided that I was enough as I am, the people who love me as such appeared. Truly, just like that.

I have a much larger circle of friends now. My network of people who love me and are here for me has multiplied tremendously. But only after I decided that I was good enough to be loved no matter what.

How about you? Would your people still love you no matter what? Or do you have to pretend and be quiet for them to love you?

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The Have It Your Way Era

 

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It seems we live in a world of Delete. Block. Defriend.

Or as I affectionately call it,
The Have It Your Way Era.

 
You don’t like what someone said on your news feed? Delete their comments! This is YOUR Facebook, after all…

 
Are they bugging you with what they post? You don’t like that? Block ‘em!

 
Someone told you that you are using a word wrong? Or maybe they believe the 97% of scientists who think climate change is real? Defriend them. Who needs that kind of drama? You are educated and don’t need anyone to tell you what to think.

 
I’m going to just say it flat out that I find this behavior just ridiculous for grown adults. It’s like Middle School America around here.

 
I have a lot of friends with a lot of varying opinions and faiths and political preferences. People from all over the world with a wide range of lifestyles. I do not block you or defriend you for this. I will boot your ass for name calling and downright threats, but I’d also do that if you were nasty in my living room. But, in truth, most people simmer down with a warning. Or go away on their own. Thankfully, I get very little drama on my feed. It seems that despite all the diversity, I have civil and open-minded adults as friends.

 
But it seems that some adults believe if they delete, then those things didn’t happen. Or maybe weren’t real? I don’t know, because I don’t get it.

 
I don’t do the delete game. I don’t delete, unless I accidently posted a rainbow or something. I will go in and edit small grammatical stuff, because pretty much everything I do happens while I’m wrangling a toddler and a cat and maybe a dog and a 6-year-old. And I’m kind of a perfectionist so I want to sound like I can formulate sentences. But otherwise, what I post, STAYS. Always. You know why? Because I don’t post it unless I believe it enough to stand behind it. It’s as simple as that.

 
And because I KNOW that even if I delete something, that it doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. And ultimately, WE still know what WE said. Or what someone else said. We can’t UNDO it or make it unhappen. We all know this, right? RIGHT?

 
It’s like doing something stupid and getting drunk to forget about it. And then you get so wasted that you black out so you just assume that means that none of it happened.

 
Uh, no. It still happened. Still real. You just blocked it out.

 
Which is kind of how so many seem to look at life right now.

 
“I don’t like that. It bothers me. I don’t need to think about that. I’ll block it.”

 
Uh, okay. But it’s still real. You know that, right? And some of the things you are blocking will seriously impact your life, even if you are flat-out on purpose ignoring it all.

 
Which could quite honestly be viewed as irresponsible.

 
So here’s my wish for the day. My challenge to all of you, if you are up for it:

 
Do not be a Have It Your Way Person. To grow as people and as a nation, we need to drop the Have It Your Way Era and it’s selfish line of thinking.

 
We need to grow up and accept responsibility for learning about the world around us. And not just the people that look and think like we do. We need to be willing to listen to different people with open minds, and not just the ones that make us feel good about ourselves.

 
Find who you are and what you believe and share that. Stand behind that. But make it a two-way conversation.

 
Let the world in and stop constantly micro-managing until you only see what you want to see. We don’t learn anything that way. Not when you make sure every door is locked up tight before you walk by.

 
It’s an illusion, this “reality” we try to create in the image of what we want the world to be. It’s not real, not when you constantly shift what you allow into your life.

 
And don’t say it’s only on social networking. Because like it or not, social networking IS where we are.

 

What would the world look like to you if you stopped constantly filtering what was allowed, on and off your news feed?

What Side Were You On?

 

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History will ask us what we said and did in these times. I assure you of that.  They will demand to know what part we played.

Your children and your children’s children, they will ask you, if we each make it that far. They will ask what you were thinking. And what you did. They will ask us you what side you were on.

And so many will have to answer, “I was eating my McDonalds, even though it was ruled unfit for human consumption. Because it’s fast and it’s cheap and I have important things to do. Plus, I never missed a professional football game and that took up a lot of my time…”

Others will say that they could not speak, because the simple words of, “You are using that word wrong,” and posting proof of it is enough to get them banished from their family.

The state of unrest in our America ripples through every single citizen, like it or not.

So many others will claim that they merely wanted to Make Facebook Fun Again, so they were so busy blocking and deleting and de-friending that they skewed the way the whole world looked around them, until they created a space where they only saw what they already knew and believed in.

And yet, ironically, our ancestors will not have to wonder what side we were on. They will not have to ponder what our lives were like. We have laid them out in detail all by ourselves, from corner to corner across the World Wide Web, like road maps to our destruction or our salvation. That part is still up for grabs.

Either way, we are writing own stories as we go along. Choosing what parts get the sunshine and which parts are kept hidden. Choosing “sides” or remaining “neutral.” Ignoring the whole damn mess or getting our hands dirty and helping to clean up the mess.

It could be easy to stick labels on everything, like name tags, and pretend it’s so simple.

But these dividing lines are not about Republican or Democrat.

They are not whether you are Muslim or Christian or Buddhist or atheist.

They are not about whether you are black or white or one of the multitudes of varieties of ethnic origins within the human race.

The dividing lines have nothing to do with where we all fit on the LGBT spectrum.

 

These dividing lines are about good versus evil.

They are about the top of the 1% who currently holds all the wealth and all the power, and the rest of us.

They are about right versus wrong.

These dividing lines are as old and as simple as our human existence.

Some among us are attempting to make things seem complicated. And to divide us, because they know (better than we do) that our strength lies in our numbers.

But this is not complicated. We can look at what makes us different or we can look for what makes us the similar. It is as simple as that.

These are the morals and truths that we were taught by our mothers and fathers. By our kindergarten teachers in classrooms all across this county. By our favorite aunties and our grandfathers and our cool older cousins.

Play nice.

Take turns.

Hands to yourself.

 Share.

Be respectful.

No name calling.

 Use your words.

We are always learning.

And most important, we love one another.

It is the words written in Red and the premise of the holy book of every major world religion.

Love one another.

But not everybody is ready.  One must set down the division to see the similarities. And love lies within the similarities. It cannot thrive or even exist among division. But that is something we can only see for ourselves.

I want to be clear that this is not about what label you put on yourself or what box you check inside your own voting booth.

This is about our America. And the fact that our democracy is being purposefully and systematically dismantled piece by piece. This is about real and actual danger.

And if you do not know this or believe this, then you are simply not paying enough attention. Or not listening to the whole story.

So I’m not going to stop talking about the important stuff that is going on around us. No matter who storms out of my life.

I’m not going to be quiet because it bothers some of you. Because that would be irresponsible.

 

And I assure you, unless you are a member of the true 1%, this will affect you and your family for generations.

 

Did you ever wonder where you would stand if a battle rose between good and evil? Now is your chance to find out.

Dear Democrat Friends

 


Family voting for Wisconsin Education Superintendent. Voting happens more than once every 4 years. And every vote counts. 


I was thinking about that day back in November when we all voted.

My timeline filled up with nearly 100 women posting photos of themselves with their “I voted!” stickers, and the accompanying hashtag #Imwithher.

And what a proud day everyone thought that was going to be for women and for America.

And here’s what I said, out loud, to my husband. “Hashtag It’s Too Late.”

And I don’t mean to offend a single one of you because I’m sure that some of you reading this did this very thing with the voting and the sticker and the “ImWithHer.  And I love you all.

But I had been going around for about 6 months by then telling people that unless people got on board, Hillary simply was not going to win. She did not have the excitement or following needed to win this election.

I was pretty much always called a conspiracy theorist for this statement. A term I have come to take as a form of compliment, regardless of how it is meant.

But in the 9 months before the election, I noticed a trend developing:

Republicans stand by Republicans. NO MATTER WHAT. Let’s repeat that for the people in the back. They vote Republican no matter what.

Most of the people I knew on all sides of the political fence did not want to associate with any party. And certainly not publicly.

But the Hillary supporters in my life, they were quite nearly all silent. All but, without exaggeration, 3 of my friends who felt compelled to post and stand behind Hillary Clinton. Of my 900 Facebook friends, there were 3 who felt compelled to publicly support her. THREE.

On the same note, the lawns of all my Democrat friends remained empty and free of yard signs.

Their Facebook feeds full of were gluten-free pasta and how to make Play-doh, but never about Hillary. I had many friends share with me privately that they felt that politics shouldn’t be on social media.

That is until voting day, when everyone had just assumed that she had already won. THEN everyone could stand behind her and cheer for what was supposed to be a historic day for America.

But I knew that wouldn’t happen. I was hopeful, don’t get me wrong. I’d take her over Trump in a heartbeat. But she wouldn’t win and I knew that.

Why? Because to win at anything, especially something so big, you need excitement. It doesn’t even need to be good excitement.

A big part of why Trump won is because he created a lot of stir and his name got said a million times. That guy got painted up one side and down the other, far and wide across America, every time he did anything. The media multiplied it. And then my Democrat friends (who never posted a single positive thing about Hillary) would share how terrible Trump is, and put another quarter in his jar.

If you want to win anything, you need to draw a crowd. Trump did that. And then he rode in on the coattails of a lot of people who vote Republican NO MATTER WHAT.

Whether your goal is the presidency or the cheer-leading squad, most of the real stuff happens before the big day. Before the voting even starts.

We all know that if you want to make the cheer-leading squad, what really matters happens in the cafeteria at lunch, and has to do with what party you were or weren’t invited to on Friday night. And what everyone is saying about you, or if they are saying anything at all.

What I saw was silence from so many of my Democratic friends. For so long. The desire to remain unsticky and stay the hell out of it.  I saw the need to not create waves and keep Facebook free of drama and ultimately the need to sit back and the hope that it would all just work out.

You could almost tell yourself that it’s important, or even honorable, until Donald Trump becomes President. And then it becomes irresponsible.

We tell our children daily that they don’t get anything done by sitting by silently ignoring the dishes or letting a kid get bullied. Nothing happens if we are merely waiting for something to happen. And yet we let “politics” drop off our list of battles worth picking, and stand by the excuse that we vote once every 4 years.

We have one vote, and we should use it. But we can no longer sit by and think that is enough.

It clearly isn’t.

 

 

 

Water Is Life

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I feel such a connection with Standing Rock.

I couldn’t tell you a specific reason why. Not exactly, anyway.

I haven’t been there. I don’t know anyone from there and I have no magical story to tie myself to that windswept land.

And yet, I feel drawn and connected to what has been happening there.

Maybe it’s because I’ve been paying attention, and relying on the “alternative media,” who DO consistently report and inform on this situation.

Or maybe it’s because in Standing Rock, the people call themselves Water Protectors.

When I was 19, I got lead poisoning from our city water. Because it was a small (and predominantly white) town in 1990’s America, this problem was resolved swiftly. A few elderly people died and many people got ill, and that’s all it took for the town to spring into action.

Unfortunately for me, I am a big water drinker, and as I felt worse, I ate less and dropped every liquid but water. And I got sicker. We were sent home from the doctor several times, being told that everyone had a bad flu bug that was going around.

When we found out that I actually had lead poisoning, I weighed close to 90 pounds. It took me 2 years to get back to a normal weight and to grow out of child -size clothing. It took much longer to trust water or food and feel normal with it. In fact, it’s still a struggle at times.

Lead poisoning does not go away. Not entirely. It remains dormant and symptoms can reoccur when conditions are favorable.

I need more rest than most people. I have nerve deafness in one ear. And I have a pretty terrible short-term memory. I make a lot of notes and lists, but this does not help me keep track of say, a Pickleball score.

All in all, I’m lucky I found out when I did. I’m lucky I was not younger when it happened. I’m lucky to only have the issues that I do.

But it’s made me reasonably wary and suspicious of anything that endangers our water supply. Because we can’t live without water. Not for more than a few days. Our bodies are made of mostly water. And our groundwater is disappearing, and a lot of it is already toxic. And we have no Plan B, or Planet B.

For so many reasons, our water is growing toxic. This is a researchable fact and you can go find it yourself. I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt that you aren’t lazy, or ignorant.

It is widely taken for granted that clean water magically comes up out of the ground. Until I no longer had the luxury, I took water for granted too.

The Water Protecters are trying to save the water for all of us. Whether you believe it or agree with it or not.
Either way, toxic water will effect us all, and all of our families, if we do not act. If we do not take a stand before the water is undrinkable.

❤Water is Life❤

 

Check Your Jesus

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I do not label myself as a Christian, despite being raised in a very actively Christian family and home and schools. But I do, every day, try to live the message of Jesus. The words written in red. I have always loved the words written in red.

Christians, by definition,  walk the walk of Christ. They stand up for what’s right (because he died on the cross for them, according to their very own Christian justification). Christians use their voice, because Jesus never said Be Kind or Be Quiet. He stood on the mound and he preached truth. And love. Jesus was a love guy.

Saying the words, “I am a Christian,” does not make you a Christian.

Not any more than dressing up like a lion on Halloween makes you a lion.

Jesus was willing to die a terrible death to save everyone. He walked the walk AND talked the talk. And all the while, he never talked shit about the fat people and the prostitutes, and he never told the poor and the weary and the needy and the women and the minorities to shut up and sit down. He told us to stand up for those who need it. He told us to call out the bullies and come together. He told us to love one another. He did not turn away or ignore, or waver. He used his voice. And he was brave.

It’s all in the Bible. Jesus’s words are written in red. If you are a Christian, you know these words. These words are burned into the heart of those who truly embody Christ.

So I’m going to ask you all what you think Jesus would do today? Not the Jesus that your “news” seems to know so intimately. Not the Jesus that gets used as a bat to hit with, or a promise to get your way. I’m referring to the Jesus you were taught as a child. The one who taught us to love one another. The guy with the words written in red.

What would HE say today?

Because I think He’d be the guy standing up and shouting from the hilltops for everyone to hear : “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” And I am confident in this because you can find those words, written in red.

In what could be described as irony, most of the Christians that I know are very attached to the idea of a white Jesus. But given the fact that His birth and story take place in the middle east, it’s logical to assume that Jesus was actually of middle-eastern descent.

Which means, should Jesus come back (aka Christ’s “second coming,”) it wouldn’t be a stretch that He would return as say, a little Syrian boy. But we can’t let Him in, under the pretense that we are protecting, like Jesus.

So, on that note, what side are YOU on? Are you the one who was cheering to let Jesus in at the gate? Or were you the one who sat quiet in your house eating another bag of Taco Bell and donuts and tuning out with mindless television? Because “politics” is just too depressing. Jesus is watching, either way. Or so I’m told.

I believe that Jesus would look at America right now, with it’s mega-churches and mega-homeless vets and say, “I call bullshit. None of you are reading my words. Few of you remind me of me. Stop using my name for your hate. Check your Jesus!”

When it comes to hate, Jesus is never the reason.

And so I ask…

What walk are you walking today? I don’t mean calling yourself a Christian and I don’t mean going to church. I mean, what are you doing in your daily life that reminds you of Jesus? When, and how, do you remind yourself of Jesus? Because it is only then that you are acting with a Christian heart.

A Universal Time-Out

 

Life around here is always pretty full. But this past summer, when 80 degree days were in full swing, I had a particularly busy period, brimming with photo jobs and settling back in from vacation. A bathroom floor we were trying to finish, along with getting ready for a party with 40 people at my house and a visit from my dad. I was bustling around doing too many things at once. And I can operate there for a while, quite productively. But we are not machines meant to go at high speeds for long periods of time, at least not without some rest periods. There are seasons for everything.

I believe that if we don’t take these rests for ourselves, the universe hands them out to us. Like the next playing card you pick up in Monopoly. I call this The Universal Time-Out.

I rarely take these time-outs for myself. Rather, I wait until a brick wall in the form of some nasty cold or injury to take me out completely.  This past summer when I was running around trying to get it all done? I cut my hand on a glass jar. Deep enough to stop me from cleaning or sanding a bathroom floor. Or doing much of anything for the better part of a week. And it hurt.

“Nope. You’re in time out” said the Universe. And I took it. Because then I had no damn choice.

So I’ve been looking for these little moments. These places where I find myself in time-out (like a long grocery line or a slow-moving toddler). Places where I could pause and let it be. Because my instinct, truth be told, is to go running around “fixing” it. Find a shorter line. Hurry the kid along. Just make it happen. But I think there are lessons to be learned from the sitting still.

This morning I sat down with my brand new and lovely fingerling yarn to teach myself to knit some socks for the very first time. I had my knitting basket full of everything I’d need. My iPad with the pattern on it. A book to listen to once I got going. Lincoln was all nice and quiet with his toys because it’s Monday and Brice is in school so he can play with whatever he wants.

And then I took out my knitting and realized that I had to make the skein into a ball. But, that’s okay. That’ll be fine.

It took about 45 seconds to realize that “okay” or “fine” weren’t really the correct words. And within 3 minutes, I had a nice tangled mess of lovely yarn that must be dealt with before I can even start to make socks.  I don’t even know how it happened.

And I suppose I could just set the yarn down and go about the rest of my life.  There is always something to do.

But maybe, the universe is telling me that today is a good day to curl up and untangle some yarn.

I think today, I will listen.