Tag Archives: The Words

Words for Scary Times

People are telling you to be afraid, to lash out, to barricade yourself in for fear of losing what little you have.

People are telling you that you’re doing it wrong, that you’re too loud, too brash, too unpolished, that your laugh is grating, that your smile is a sneer.

People are telling you that you take up too much space, that your standards are too high, that you’re being unrealistic, that you’re part of the problem.

That’s the language of fear.

Don’t let it close your mind.

I know you better than that.  You do, too.

You are brave.  You are a force for good.  You are fighting the good fight.

You are strong.  You speak truth to power.  You keep coming back and trying again.

You are loving.  You are the lullaby in the night.  You are the warm embrace.  You are the hope for a brighter day.

Don’t run away.  Reach out.

Don’t hoard.  Share.

Don’t see enemies.  Build community.

Don’t stand silent.  Speak up.

Don’t shrink.  Bloom.

 


A lot of people are struggling right now, me included.  These are the words that came to me today– I thought they might do someone else some good, too.

Stay safe out there, friends.  Take good care of yourselves, and each other.

 

 

Go Outside and Breathe

I know it’s late.

It’s hot.

It’s buggy.

You’re tired.

You just want to sit inside all day and do nothing, run out the clock on this day, and maybe try again tomorrow.

That mosquito bite on the sole of your left foot is driving you crazy and has made you shy away from sitting outside in the gathering dusk or the rising dawn or the fleeting midday shade.

Your stomach aches, whether from too much food or too little or the wrong kind you’re not sure, but it’s uncomfortable.

Your children are wild and full of evening energy, and their whooping and leaping makes you anxious and unnerved.

The thought of the sun on your skin reminds you of your uneven tan, its obvious lines, and how, if you were a responsible person, you probably would have bought sunscreen before late July.

I know.  I understand.

But sometimes you need to go outside anyway.  Even though it’s not easy.  Even though you’d rather plug in and tune out.

Because the grass is dried to hay-blond and its susurration in the breeze tells a secret.

Because the mourning dove is trying out his gentle call from that oak tree, right there outside the kitchen door.

Because the hills seem so close you could reach out and touch them but also a part of a golden fairyland in the lateral evening light.

Because the cross orb weaver on your tomato plant is just putting the finishing touches on tonight’s silken net.

Because the sky is still so blue.

Because the hens are clucking softly to themselves as they forage for a few last bites.

Because the blackberries are so ripe they stain your fingers no matter how tenderly you pick them.

Because the butterflies are chasing each other over the brambles and across the fences.

Because the wind smells sweet with hay and spicy with cookfire smoke and fresh from the river.

Right now, a Steller’s jay is stopping off in your fir tree to select nesting materials.

Right now, a train whistle is echoing off the ridges and over the water.

Right now, the breeze is freshening just a little and the sky is ocean-deep.

Right now, the scent of warmed earth and crushed blackberry is more summery than anything you’ve ever known before.

From out here, the children’s cries are muted and distant, and you can love them for their untamed nature.

From out here, you can’t hear the big bad world– or those mean-girl voices in your head– at all.

From out here, the work piled up on your desk doesn’t seem quite real, and you can have faith that there will be time enough for everything.

When you’re outside, you can breathe.

Try it.

Breathe in deep through your nose.  Open your mind wide and be present.  Breathe out slowly through your mouth, open your chest and release your spent and troubled air.

Breathe.

This is but one day of a lifetime.  Nothing has to be finished nor perfect today.

Breathe.

This is where you are now, and it is good.

Breathe.

This is all you are, this moment in the setting sun, this place full of hay-scented grasses and straw-colored hair on little heads, all bowing to you in recognition and shaking irreverently in the breeze.

Breathe.

 

You are the breath of your home, your family– you, too, must go in and out.

Regularly.

Deeply.

Consciously.

To release the toxins, and let the trees worry about recycling them.

To take in what you need to live, what the mosses and the weeds give back to you.

So go.

No more excuses.

It can’t wait until tomorrow, not this time.

Go.

Go outside, and breathe.

 

Yes

Sometimes, as parents, we get swept up in the day-to-day struggle of life with bills, and work, and rainstorms, and living with small humans both unpredictable and strange.  We get overwhelmed.  We put all our spoons into just getting through the day without major incident, and are glad when it’s over.

Sometimes, you start the same simple project over and over again– you mistake navy thread for black and don’t catch it until the seam is nearly finished, you try to sew a French seam with the right sides facing out of habit, you make a measuring error– and suddenly, what was supposed to be so easy is impossible.

And invariably, while you are in the depths of this everyday depression, your irrepressible little children will ask to do something outrageous.  Something involving paint, and limited supplies, and relying on the inconstant spring weather to stay clear for a few more hours.

And, for reasons you don’t totally understand, you might say yes.

wooden dragon toys painted by my children

Yes to the mess.

Yes to the chaos.

Yes to the inevitable bath that will have to follow.

Yes to the memories that you are making.

Yes to the mini-lesson on secondary colors, and the demonstration of printing with the cardboard palettes you improvised.

cardboard with pools of paint after being used as a palette side-by-side with the print made from the palette at the end of the session

Yes to the seemingly thousands of trips to the bathroom sink to wash a brush so you can use another color.

Yes to scrubbing paint off the deck afterward, and leaving a weird clean spot in years of dust because seriously, who washes their deck?

my toes on an awkwardly clean section of deck after I scrubbed it

Yes to the children, who are so much work and so very worth it.

Yes to being the kind of parent who is okay with supervising painting projects, even on a difficult Tuesday you wish was going better.

And then, against all the odds and absolutely all reason, you find your kairos moment for the day.  In the paint.  And the mess.  And the nuturing of small souls.

And you decide to say yes more often.

Ithilien hacking at a piece of ice with a garden trowel

Even on hard days.

We Live and We Learn

I learned an important lesson last month: I don’t keep up with the blogging during the holidays.  I need a new plan for how to make that work next year.

But that’s life.  As I am always telling my nearly-5-year-old perfectionist, making mistakes means that you are learning.

I have been enjoying the joyful calm that comes after the holidays themselves and before everyone returns to their usual activities.  It seems almost sinfully indulgent to have all this extra time– time to play board games and build block cities and try the treats people gave you.

dragon and block towerBut that’s nearing an end now.  On Monday Robert is back to teaching and I have to be a grown-up and make phone calls to sort out student loan payment issues and schedule doctor’s appointments and generally be responsible.

And so I went looking for The Words.  I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions, but I do spend some time developing intentions and collecting inspiration for the new year, so when I read this article this afternoon, it resonated with me.

I have this long list of things that I want to learn, to do, to be, to try, to become. Things I want to know, to create, to make, to build. But where was I just a year ago, just two years ago, just five years into my past? How far have I come? How much have I learned, grown, and become? Not all changes need to happen now.
                    — Sarah from Nurshable

Head Full of Bees

I was helping Númenor with some phonics work today and realized that he didn’t know the word “spell” in the context of orthography.

So, like good unschoolers, we made a guess, and then we looked it up, first in a regular dictionary, then in an etymology dictionary.

“Spell” is a fairly interesting entry, and I recommend it if you’re into that kind of thing, but as Númenor went back to the normal 4-year-old puttering that is his main learning activity, I wandered off along a tangent from “spelling” to “spelling bee” and finally ended up reading about idiomatic uses of the word “bee“:

To have a bee in (one’s) bonnet (1825), said of one who is harebrained or has an intense new notion or fancy, is said in Jamieson to be Scottish, perhaps from earlier expressions such as head full of bees (1510s), denoting mad mental activity.
— Etymonline

HEAD FULL OF BEES!

Headfullofbees!

Head.  Full.  Of.  Bees.

How did this phrase EVER go out of vogue?  Google Ngram has it appearing in about three hundred MILLIONTH percent of books at its most popular.  WHY?  Why would anyone not want to use this phrase?

HEAD full of BEES.

As in, “I was up until 3am with my head full of bees, but I finally cleared my thoughts and fell asleep.”

As in, “He doesn’t say much, but you can see he has a head full of bees.”

As in, “She came in here with a head full of bees and we couldn’t get one coherent word out of her until she’d had two pints, but it’s a brilliant idea.”

It’s evocative, it’s suitably agrarian, it sounds a little anachronistic and a little rustic, maybe even agrestic, and it describes something that happens to me all the time– my head is always full of bees!

Head.  Full.  Of.  Bees.

This is my new thing.  I’m going to say this all the time!  I might get it tattooed on my arm, I love it so much.

My head is full of bees. Perfect.

Advice for a Busy Week to Come

Tomorrow is the start of the new term at CGCC, and Robert’s first day teaching.  It’s going to be a difficult week for us, as all weeks of new routine and responsibilities are for everyone, I think.  I will admit that I was feeling a bit aggravated about the changes as I got up this morning.

So I did what I usually do when I’m starting to indulge my persecution complex– I sought inspiration from sources that remind me how lucky I am to have such a wonderful family.  When I feel myself losing my way, I look for The Words I need to move forward on the path I’m trying to walk.  I tried the usual sources– I read some blog posts from the fellow mothers I consider my internet friends– but Rachel is still posting about finding your tribe, which leaves me wishing I had one, and Amanda is on her usual weekend retreat, and Beth is writing about laughter and mayhem while I need to hear about connection, and Glennon is writing about balance.

I turned to the humor blogs I follow, because sometimes laughter helps, too, and found that this week The Bloggess linked to a farewell post a woman had arranged to have published after her death.  And there, I found The Words.

I have so much life I still want to live, but know I won’t have that. I want to be there for my friends as they move with their lives, see my children grow up and become old and grumpy with Rich. All these things are to be denied of me.

But, they are not to be denied of you. So, in my absence, please, please, enjoy life. Take it by both hands, grab it, shake it and believe in every second of it. Adore your children. You have literally no idea how blessed you are to shout at them in the morning to hurry up and clean their teeth.

Thank you, Charlotte.  I will take your advice this week.