Imagine with me for a moment that things had worked out as I thought they would…
April 13, 2016 would have been a big day. The day we welcomed our sweet babe into the world. New life in the spring, pink and perfect.
But I mourned last April instead.
Imagine again, another year in that perfect world…
April 13, 2017 would have been another big one – a first birthday. Chubby cheeks and bouncy blonde curls. A big, open mouthed smile and frosting everywhere. Sugar and sprinkles and tiny little fingers.
No sprinkles, though. No frosting. No fingers, no smile.
Another April gone by, same as the last.
Two roads diverged in the wood that day, the day there was no heartbeat. And I didn’t get to choose which one I took. It was chosen for me.
I did choose to walk, though. Forward, always forward.
It’s natural to look back. To sometimes get caught up in the waves of grief that come unexpectedly. Is it natural, also, to imagine the same distance along the other road? To wonder what it would have looked like had I been able to turn right instead of left at the fork? I don’t know. But I do imagine it, I wonder. Sometimes. Not always. But especially on April 13th. Another year gone by, an imagined point on that other road.
There is no baby. There is no first birthday. There is no other me. Only this grief, a depression that seems to set in this time of year. The flowers bloom, the sun sticks around longer and longer, and yet I struggle to get out of bed. A little harder, just for a while.
Then the imaginary party fades. And I keep walking forward, always diverging from the road I couldn’t take.
It’s been five years since we moved to Marshfield.
Those five years have flown by in the blink of an eye.
It’s also been five years since I left DC.
But when my plane touched down here tonight, it all felt like a lifetime ago.
Same five years. How can it feel so different?
You guys should have seen me tonight. Fumbling to purchase a SmarTrip card, trying to figure out which side of the Metro platform to stand on, acting like a total tourist as we transferred from the yellow to the blue line. Oh! oh! and I almost forgot about the time I knocked my suitcase down the up escalator as we exited at Federal Center SW. Nothing but suave. Yes. Suave.
My public transit skills have evaporated, my mental maps have faded, and my sense of where I am in the city is basically gone, gone, gone. I’m no longer the young, metropolitan woman I’d spent six years becoming. Five shorts years — and I’ve completely unbecome.
And also rebecome. A pretty poignant reminder of what time can do.
It’s so interesting to be back here. So exciting. Somehow scary all over again.
And in a few short hours, it’s exhausted me. So. Netflix in the hotel room until this midwestern local yokel ventures back out into the big city for a few days.
A couple stories to get us pointed in the right direction.
My little Marshfield-based book club took a recent turn for the non-existent with the start of the most recent academic year. I suppose that’s bound to happen when you base a book club too heavily on transient people like med students and residents and young marrieds, but determined to begin anew, I started recruiting again.
After begging my friend Kristen to join (over and over and over again over oh so many coffees) she finally agreed to participate so long as she wasn’t the oldest person there.
Ugh. Not a good caveat given the people I had been focusing my recruitment efforts on. But we’re working around it. My invite went a little something like this:
“Also, rest assured that you will neither be the oldest nor the youngest there, should that be an issue for you. I am both–youngest in capacity to be socially un-awkward, oldest in nerdiness, trust me, I cannot be outdone. So just come.”
How can anyone argue with that? Also I sent everyone a copy of the book with an invitation book mark– nothing more powerful than a guilt trip!
Maybe a year or so ago, my friend Melissa told me about how her daughter, Emily, had discounted me as a “friend” because in her mind, I was actually just Melissa’s friend. Melissa assured Emily that I was indeed her friend and I confirmed Melissa’s assertion. I am indeed Emily’s friend. She’s nine (today!!! happy birthday, little friend!) and I’m thirty, but I think if you’ve been reading along for a while, you know without a doubt that Emily is one of my nearest and dearest on account of me talking about her here and here and here and here.
Also, my therapist knows her by name. Not joking.
And third story, because three always seems like the appropriate number:
Just last week, I had a big grant due and my sister sent me a text message (filled to the brim with excellent emoji) that I showed you back here. What I didn’t show you, because it would have destroyed a surprise I had been carefully crafting for months was my response to her:
The part about my dad and my two besties over 50. That’s the part I’d like to bring to your attention today.
Because age, as big of a thing it is in popular culture, in the media, in our minds, is really of very little consequence when it comes to friendship, and I’d like to chat about that very much.
I recently went to a talk given by a woman who described herself as vintage and she said, “I see you out there in the audience– some of you have a little vintage on you!”
Vintage. I loved that.
I went to the talk with three of my friends: my dad, Marie, and Margaret.
Yes, I include my dad in the friend category and that’s kind of the point of this whole post. In adulthood, my dad is still my dad, the man I’ve loved since I was an itty bitty baby and the man who responds instantly and instinctively to the word “daddy,” but also he is my friend– he turned me on to Call To Action, a progressive Catholic organization, and we talk about the church and about social justice and kindness and generosity and love and faith and all those things like friends. Because we are friends.
My friend Marie is in her 50s and has a daughter my age. We work together and hang out besides and the 20 something years between us really makes no difference. (In fact, I suspect we’re basically married to the same man one generation apart, it’s bizarre!)
My friend Margaret is in her 70s and started off as someone my dad was friends with… but I think I can legitimately call her my friend now too. We’ve spent Christmases together, after all! I just adore Margaret and her honesty and her joy and her clearly innate ability to recognize good in people.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, I made another new friend on Wednesday. Her name is Lola and she’s 11. She’s the daughter of a physician I work and he suspected that she and I would hit it off– correct! We’ve started our own little mini book club. She’s reading West of the Moon for an enrichment program at school. I picked it up at the library yesterday and we’re going to chat about it. So there’s 20 some years between us the other way… I’m super lucky to know how little that actually matters.
Why doesn’t it matter though? I mean, it always seemed like it did… growing up, when friendships were based primarily on life stage and experience, I suppose age did matter. And some of the friends I met because of life stage and/or experience are still some of my nearest and dearest even today. But that’s partly because it wasn’t always so ok with me to have friends across the continuum of age. At the age of 23 or so, I remember going out with a friend and a friend of hers, both of whom were in their 40s, for a belly dancing class and drinks afterward and despite having an absolute blast, some of my same-age-friends thought it was a little odd. I may be odd, but I’m also crazy insecure and I don’t love people knowing about it… so, you know…
Then I met people like Kristen I. and Emily W. (book club book ends, age wise), Melissa and her daughter Emily (one a little older than me, one much younger, both my friends), Michele and Marie F (co-workers sent from heaven, my two besties greater than or equal to 50), Margaret and Marie K from Call To Action (Marie was 95 when we met!), and Lola (my newest young friend). I also recently recognized my dad and my mom and my Aunt Susan and my little sister and little brother as friends. And none of it was weird. Because when friendship is based on attraction between two souls, age has absolutely nothing to do with it.
Age matters, of course, in other ways. It affects the container that houses our soul and it changes the lenses in the glasses through which our soul sees. Time puts a little vintage on them. But the soul, I believe, remains unchanged– no matter the vintage. And that’s why, now, at the age of 30, I can happily say that my friends, my dearest most amazing friends, range in age from 8 to 80. (Eighty because, sadly, Marie Kennedy passed away a few years ago. She was so incredible though, even at 95!)
If I’m honest, it’s the vintage I’ve picked up myself that has allowed me to see this fact. And to recognize that maybe, even as a little girl, I had some adult friends that I ought to be a little more grateful for– Grandma Roz and CJ and Janet and Joy. As un-vintaged as I may have been at the time, my soul recognized another like it in them.
I don’t want to discount all of the time- and place- and life stage- and experience-based friendships I have made over the years– in high school, in college, in grad school. Those friendships are crazy important too. Interestingly, though, sometimes I didn’t even fully recognize the impact of the people I met in those places until later– I told you about Nicole and Dawn. But also my friend Sarah, who was my roommate at the 2001 Presidential Youth Inaugural Conference (another nerd camp for political nerds… I’ve been to a lot of nerd camps, for real), and who I still find to be absolutely, completely, and totally fascinating, inspiring, gorgeous, amazing, etc, via social media… I feel like our souls just clicked and I’ll never ever forget the girl who introduced me to what this Midwestern girl can only describe as urban A-MAZ-ING.
And perhaps that’s what it really is– Nicole embraced her curls and her intelligence and her otherness in a way I never dared in college, but I recognized her anyway. Dawn was Army-style intimidating in her camouflage fatigues and combat boots, but I recognized her anyway. And Sarah owned a bright blue wig at a fancy inaugural ball and proudly voted for Ralph Nader (and I was, gasp, a wannabe Republican at the time– silly girl, thankfully only 17 at the time), but I recognized her anyway. And the older I get, the more vintage I accumulate, the easier it is for me to recognize the lovely soul underneath the otherness, the camo, the blue wig, and that’s what attracts me now, every time.
No matter the age, the place, the time, the person.
So, thankfully, at 30, I can see Lola at 11 and know that we’ll probably talking about books until the end of my days and I can make plans to push Marie’s wheelchair around when I’m in my 70s and she’s in her 90s.
Except who am I kidding? Marie will probably be 90 pushing my wheelchair around when I’m 70. It’s much more likely to happen that way. She’s tough like that. And I’m not. Either way, we’ll still be friends.
I’m not pregnant. Again. And I’m sad about it. Yesterday was pretty rough. Today I am sad, but my friend Marie made me smile (hugely and genuinely) and my sister has a ridiculously cute new hair color that I’m in love with and my friend Kristin liked the cookies I brought her and my husband and I are taking his parents out for dinner at a (central-Wisconsin-style) fancy place in Point tonight… and overall, I have a million and one reasons to be happy. So I’m not sinking. I’m not drowning. I am dealing.
And that’s a huge step for me. A yo-yo-er.
Next illustrative story…
One afternoon this week, at work, I got prank called by an endocrinologist. He put on a fake accent, called from another physician’s office, and pretended to be someone he was not and then laughed hysterically at himself as I got my footing back underneath me when he told me who he really was. I was literally taking notes for this “new” physician who wanted my help…
It was super weird. And super funny. We both cracked up.
And then we talked for a while for seriously about the importance of perspective when considering clinical data related to false-negative rates for thyroid biopsy in the context of nodules larger than 4 cm in size.
A far cry from the former formality of all my emails that began, “Dear Dr. So and So… lots of professional words… Thank you for your time, Me Me Me, PhD.” Followed by nearly incessant joking with my office mates (I needed an outlet!).
Tuesday’s conversation with the endocrinologist? That’s moderation. Funny. Serious. Everything in between.
Final illustrative story…
The weather this week has been absolutely lovely and sunny and cool and I’ve gone for several (incident free!) jogs. During one such jog this week, I took THREE puppy petting breaks. Three.
It was wonderful, but not the point.
The point is that I did NOT stop my RunKeeper (it’s my app for distance and time and I love it so much– I love making it map me while I mow the lawn, back and forth and back and forth, it’s hilarious) even once during a puppy petting or photo taking break. It just ran. The clock kept ticking while my feet stopped moving and it made my time slower… and yet. The time and the distance are not the point.
End illustrative stories… now, the point.
I have generally not tended to live my life that way. I’m usually at one end of the spectrum or the other– filled with hope or in complete and total despair. Too many jokes or too much seriousness. So much running that I crap my pants or no running at all for fear I’ll crap my pants. But this moderation thing, it’s so much better.
With respect to the big things, my mental health, my physical health, my work, these are places where yo-yo-ing from up to down, one end of the spectrum to the other, has never been good for me– yet it’s always been my default. That’s where I find moderation to be most key (key-est???), and where it’s often hardest (most hard???) to find.
Don’t get me wrong, living life on the end of yo-yo, with the ups and downs, fits and spurts, can be awesome for things like canning (pickle/tomato/apple marathon– ready go!) or sewing (it’s almost winter– time to go pick out some new fabric!!). Turning that yo-yo into a gently swaying, much more even keel, pendulum-style instrument is much more valuable in some arenas though. And I’m getting there.
I’m getting there with mental health. Yes, part of it is biochemical control (better living through chemistry) and part of it is therapy (with a therapist I didn’t want to like, but do), but honestly, most of it is time and experience and patience with myself…
I’ve spent over two years trying to start a family and every month so far has ended in sadness. Sadness coupled with a headache and cramps and discomfort that all seems so unfair. Life’s not fair though. That’s not part of the terms and conditions. Life is life and it’s weird and circuitous and out of our control for the most part. And that out of control thing is key when it comes to staying off the yo-yo. I can’t be in despair when I have no control. I know that I’m doing everything that I can do, and that’s literally all that I can do (short of illegal things like stealing babies or black-mailing my sister into sending me one of hers– chimps do that, you know, I read about it in National Geographic). I can be sad. I can be hopeful. I can be both simultaneously… a little more of one or the other at times is ok, but I don’t need to go all the way over the top in either direction.
I’m also getting there professionally. I know more people, I am more comfortable with more people, I am more comfortable with myself…
At work, I was nothing but a ball of nerves for about a year or so… especially around physicians. Turns out, I was basically just being a total Dorothy to the Great and Powerful Oz– it was just a man behind a curtain. Some physicians still seem to prefer the “Dear Dr. So and So” deal, but more often, they seem to prefer when I behave like myself– sometimes silly, sometimes serious. Exclamation points and winky faces and jokes in emails, book recommendations in both directions, hugs at Cattails when I see my most favorite residents, cookies and recipes and Valentine’s day gifts. All of that with good writing, prompt service (as much as possible), and a willingness to be as helpful as I can be. I’m good at my job, and (hopefully) likable and personable at the same time.
And finally, I’m getting there with my physical health…
I’ve been a runner since I was young– maybe sixth grade. My first 5K was maybe the Belleville Strawberry Festival or the Dexter-Ann Arbor Run with my friend Kelly and co. (Where “and co.” = Emily and Danielle and Christin, most likely, but I’m fuzzy on that, so we’re going to go with and co.)
My friend Kelly sent this super old photo on one throwback Thursday. I’m in love with us as baby runners. So cute.
Since then, I’ve always always always stressed over time and distance and intensity and frequency and when I couldn’t live up to my own expectations… I stopped. Stopped entirely. Most recently, I couldn’t run my favorite distance on my favorite route without have GI issues, so I stopped. Turns out, though, if I’m careful about what I eat, run at a comfortable pace without pushing myself too hard, and make planned loops with a quick escape route to my house every three-quarters of a mile or so, I can go pretty far/pretty long… and get this: I can even enjoy it!
And here’s something really crazy: by being patient with myself and super experimental, I have even learned to enjoy many vegetables! No, not onions. But lots of other vegetables… and that’s a big deal. I don’t have to force myself to eat an iceberg lettuce-based salad drenched in ranch dressing (yuck), but I looove pretty much any green preceded by “baby” or “mixed” with some chia seeds and an Asian-style dressing.
Patience and time, when it really matters. Yo-yo when it’s just for funsies. This is why, for me, I’ll take my thirties over my twenties any day. So much more time, experience, patience. It’s good.
Speaking of fun yo-yos… in sewing, yo-yos are these little dealies:
Growing up, my cousin Mary, me, my cousin Ashlee, and my sister Abby were all relatively close in age and we passed clothes, especially cute little dresses, down and down and down amongst the four of us. In their infinite wisdom, my mom and Auntie Pam kept all those little dresses thinking they’d be great for making quilts some day. My mom spent last summer making all those little dresses into yo-yos (even the velvet and corduroy ones! dang!) and then turned those yo-yos into four quilts– one for each of us.
Look at how amazing this quilt is:
It’s so ridiculously and unbelievably beautiful and meaningful and I love it so much. My mom is incredible. This is the kind of thing that makes me continue to hope for that family– so that someday I can do something like this for my sister’s girls and their cousins, my kids. My someday babies 🙂
J is for the author and psychologist Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of the book Full Catastrophe Living and a huge proponent of mindfulness (no, it doesn’t really start with a j, silent or otherwise).
Although I haven’t actually finished reading the book yet (it’s a monster!), I am becoming more and more interested in the idea of mindfulness. Or more than idea, really– the science of mindfulness. (It’s a science that literally has it’s own journal, peer-reviewed and PubMed-indexed. Dang.) It’s another one of those things that keeps coming up over and over and over again… and the universe only has to put something in my face so many times before I actually take notice.
Would I have admitted to mindfulness being a legitimate science even 6 months ago? Absolutely not. The excellent thing about being an actual scientist (despite my work place’s unwillingness to call me one– only scientists can be trusted with a per diem!) is that I’m totally cool with allowing the evidence to change my mind. With regard to mindfulness, my mind is just about completely changed.
And I’m not the only scientist who feels that way. As I was contemplating mindfulness as a topic for the letter J (because… J… right…), I came across this Humans of New York (HONY) post.
Mindfulness, inner voice, meditation, introspection– it’s all kind of the same thing. The new age mumbo jumbo that has always intrigued me, yet turned me away because… well, because I am a scientist, darn it! And I thought I was supposed to be against all that!
According to this guy though, lots of scientists are into mindfulness and the like. And I am certainly convinced of that after attending the HMO Research Network (HMORN) conference back at the beginning of May. I saw several oral and poster presentations presenting hard evidence* suggesting that mindfulness practices improve physiological measures of health in patients with diabetes, heart disease, and several psychological conditions. It’s certainly not a panacea, as nothing is, but to think about the power our minds have over our bodies is amazing. To see evidence of it? Even more so.
For example, people with diabetes could literally reduce their hemoglobin A1c by 1 – 2% over the course of an 8 week mindfulness practice. If you’re familiar with glycemic control in the context of diabetes, that will undoubtedly impress you. That’s a number that takes considerable time and effort to change, and it’s a really good measure of diabetes management.
Because I’m always quoting Mumford and Sons:
In these bodies you will live, in these bodies you will die. Where you invest your love, you invest your life.
— Awake My Soul, Mumford and Sons
Isn’t that it? Mindfulness? Investing in yourself… love here meaning time and energy; a moment for yourself.
I know, I sound like I drank the Kool-Aid and that’s that. Not the case, I assure you.
For months my therapist has been gently suggesting meditation and breathing and such… mindfulness practices. Every time, I nodded my head like a good girl, an agreeable girl, but in my head, I thought he might be Looney Toons… at least a little too “new age” for my liking.
He knew I’d come around though. And I did. Good call, Dr. C!
HMORN piqued my interest for seriously and I started reading Jon Kabat-Zinn’s book. Then, all at once, we had a grand rounds on mindfulness and I had a therapy appointment where once more Dr. C tried to convince me in his nonchalant way that mindfulness is where it’s at… the confluence of all these events was somewhat striking and it wasn’t until then that I realized I didn’t have to be good at mindfulness right away and that I could ease into it.
Doing something I’m not good at?! Ugh! That’s not how I prefer to operate, but at least it seemed slightly less daunting.
So I started doing 4-7-8 breathing… all the time. In the middle of the day, when I’m feeling stressed, first thing in the morning, and before I go to sleep. It’s so easy, even a skeptical nerd like me can do it. I just close my eyes, breath in for 4 counts, hold it for 7, then exhale for 8… times three in a row… several times a day. I don’t know why it works, but it does. When I open my eyes again, I feel like I’m coming back from somewhere else. Every time. Try it!
Here’s a video from the real deal (i.e. not me) Dr. Andrew Weil. My favorite part is in the beginning when he is describing the yogic way you’re supposed to breath and says, “no idea what that means in terms of Western physiology, but they’re the ones who invented it, so we should do what they say.”
I like that– just because you don’t know why it works, doesn’t mean it doesn’t work.
I don’t envision myself sitting on a pillow for hours at a time in a quest for nirvana, but I certainly don’t think it would hurt to take baby steps toward a more mindful style of living. Jon Kabat-Zinn’s mindful-based stress reduction seems to be a good start!
*I say hard evidence here to mean something that is measurable, but relatively un-bias-able. There are, of course, all sorts of validated self-report questionnaires that can be used to measure outcomes of mindfulness practices, but I always wonder about how “real” that is… likely because it’s not my field, not my comfort zone. But in the studies I’m discussing here, people were actually drawing blood and making laboratory-based measurements of different compounds. That’s what I mean by “hard” evidence.
Not in the prison way.
And since we’re talking about mindfulness, let’s briefly touch on the complete opposite for a moment– mindlessness. Or, as I like to call it, The Bachelorette. A couple of my Marshfield friends got me into it this season and I’m hooked, it’s like checking out completely for two hours and liking it. And it makes Mondays so much better! Plus: girls night, every Monday! Tonight we even had oatmeal cream pies (mmmm… Little Debbie). Anyway, Marcus and Brian… right?! RIGHT?! I wish I could say Josh on account of being at the letter J, but… I just can’t. Enough now.
(What you don’t find in The Google is something that Chris Lema’s close-and-personals know: he says yes even more. Hence, his insane level of busy. But don’t tell anyone- that’s a secret.)
Me? Ugh… I never say no. Even when I want to. Even when I really should.
I know it’s a lame and whiny thing to complain about, especially considering that it’s 100% self-inflicted, but dang, it’s catching up to me.
For the first year, maybe two, after I graduated from grad school I was super careful not to take anything home with me– no nights, no weekends. I got my 40 hours in, I got my work done, and I was productive and happy. But then I started saying yes to more and more extras, more and more deadlines, and I can’t… stop…
It’s like I’m addicted. But I need to kick the habit because it’s sucking away my time, and consequently, my happiness.
When I’m short on time, I don’t blog. But I really, really like blogging. And when I’m short on time, it makes household chores seem so much worse because they’re just crappy things on top of more crappy things. And worst of all, when I’m short on time, even fun things feel like nothing more than other things that I have to do.
That’s enough! Time to reclaim my time! Time to channel my inner Lema and say NO when no is what I really need to be saying.
… but not until I get back from Phoenix next week. Kind of boxed myself in with deadlines up until my plane departs. Oops.
In other news: I’m going to Phoenix next week! Yay! I went to the HMO Research Network (HMORN) conference for the first time last year and l-o-v-e-d it… loved it so much that I’m going back again! (Actually, I don’t really get to choose, but a series of generous physician-scientist benefactors have allowed me to go two years in a row now, and thank goodness for that!) I know HMOs have a really negative connotation (I’ve seen Sicko… and yes, it disturbed me), but at the HMORN conference last year I was pleasantly surprised with the number of people and number of initiatives with HMO that are truly dedicated to improving patient care. All of the organizations there have dedicated research branches– Marshfield Clinic, Kaiser Permanente, Group Health, Geisinger, Pilgrim Health, etc. It’s pretty awesome.
But more importantly (and superficially, of course): PHOENIX.
That’s a 50 degree difference… plus, complete lack of precipitation, frozen or otherwise, in Phoenix. Yes, please!
PS: Did you actually click on the hyperlink for “I say no a lot”? You should… it’s hilarious. Have you seen Let Me Google That for You? It’s geniusly sarcastic and I love it.
The good thing about turning 30 is that you have plenty of warning– you know it’s coming for a good long time. And let me tell you, if you don’t have babies yet, lots and lots of people spend time and energy reminding you it’s coming, just in case you’ve forgotten. So that’s nice.
Despite the long period of fair warning, I’ve only really thought a lot about turning 30 over the last year. Twenty-nine suddenly made it feel really close and all those baby warnings seemed real and important and I got kind of freaked out.
Ok. I got really freaked out.
But I got to be 29 for 12 whole months. And that’s a lot of time to get over it. Lots of things helped:
Under the Tapestry was a big one. Every time I air a Festivus-style grievance you guys are SO CRAZY supportive and it doesn’t feel so bad. I scream, “Can I get a witness?!” and you scream, “but of course!” and it’s awesome! (I talked to my therapist about it– he pinpointed validation and shared experience as the types of reassurance and support I totally crave. Thank you, therapy!)
Friends, friends, friends! Friends help– big time! And here in Marshfield I have really, really good friends ranging in age from 24 (she was 23 until the end of December… your birthday is throwing off my impressive range, Em!) to over 50 (at which point it would be unkind to share the specifics, but you must know how much I love you, M!) and everything in between. They’re all awesome. All of their lives are different. And I don’t care one iota how close or how far any single one of them is from the age of 30. I imagine the same ought to apply to me. (Side note: if I extend coverage of my friends by age range to the entire country, I can include my friend Emily who is 8. EIGHT. Oh. And she has her own blog now! It’s something else, you should totally check it out! You will be seriously impressed. She’s 8. Good grief. Can you imagine how incredible she’ll be by 30?!)
The Jeff and Kari plan. I love the way I met my friend’s Kari and Jeff. Kari’s sister is married to one of Seth’s best friends (at least so far, but a major falling out is anticipated). I adore Seth’s friend’s wife (regardless of any falling out– we’re staying friends!) and over the years I have gotten to know and adore more and more of their lovely families. Jeff and Kari didn’t start their adventure, or their rapidly growing family, until after the age of 30 and Kari is so crazy positive about it– and encouraging of me! Can’t tell you how much I appreciate that kind of support!
Time and the number 30 itself. Given all the time I’ve had to make peace with 30, I can say without a doubt that I have made it. Plus, the more I thought about it, the nicer the number 30 sounded. It’s a nice round number. Kind of seems like it wants to give me a hug… and I suspect that it will. I’m not generally much of a hugger, but I can certainly appreciate the sentiment and take comfort in the fact that the hug is only metaphorical– no actual touching necessary 😉
Did you watch Sesame Street when you were younger? I did, and I loved it. (I suspect it fueled my extreme love of all things Muppet even today…) One of my favorite little skits ever was when a guy sang “U Really Got a Hold on Me” while a big letter U hugged him over and over again (the link is to the actual skit on You Tube– it’s totally worth the watch). That’s how I’m imagining this big hug from 30– not only have I made peace with it, but I’m to the point where I think it might just be awesome.
HUGE apologies to my email subscribers– my itchy trigger finger got the best of me and I published rather than saving and you all got a not-even-half-written idea of a post that I had just started working on. I am sincerely sorry for that. So here’s the full post for Thursday just a bit early to try to make up for the spamming of your inbox. (I won’t let it happen again!)
Generosity. Big word.
There are so many different ways to be generous. And this week, I have been the recipient of generosity in so many ways.
The friends we vacation with are just like that– generous in ALL the ways. They take us to amazing places that provide to the outside observer very visible and tangible evidence of their generosity. And I completely agree, it’s incredible. My husband and I have done SO many things we would never have had the opportunity to do and have had so many incredible experiences thanks to our unbelievable friends. They are kind and generous in the extreme. As they tell their children, they work hard to be able to bless others. At this moment, I certainly feel blessed. No doubt about that. The pools, the palm trees, the views, the pina coladas, it’s all unbelievable.
But they are generous in even more spectacular ways that the outside observer probably has no idea about. So I will tell you.
They are generous with their time. This trip to Mexico is without a doubt a family vacation for our friends and their two little ones, and yet they invite my husband and me along. We are included in ev-er-y-thing… from fancy excursions to bedtime hugs and everything in between. The Lemas let us feel like part of this family, they share all of that precious time with us.
They are generous with their words. Chris is the Chris of chrislema.com and as I worked on my biggest post of the week, he was dispensing free advice on how best to woo the reader with my blog formatting. Do you have any idea how much something like that costs?! A lot, I’m sure…. and Melissa is 100% mom-spirational. She teaches me more than she could ever know about how to be a good mom someday. That kind of advice is not only invaluable, but it literally cannot be bought.
They are generous with their hearts. Chris, Melissa, and their kids, Emily and Christian, are unbelievable when it comes to generosity of the heart. At dinner, both kids prayed for my husband and I during a 100% unprompted grace. They also thanked God for this wonderful day. Pure hearts, good parenting, a beautiful thing.
I don’t think that I could ever possibly begin to repay the generosity afforded me by this beautiful family, but I also don’t really think that that’s the point. The generosity is poured out with no expectation of anything in return… except maybe to pay it forward when given the opportunity.
I like the idea of that.
By the way, I’m sitting next to my dear friend Melissa as I type this and when I cringed over the mistaken early publication of this post she said to me, “It’s ok. Everybody makes mistakes.”
I cheekily replied, “Not me. I was perfect until that happened.”
And brilliant and beautiful Melissa replied, “From the topside.”
Oh man, does she ever GET this tapestry thing. Probably she should be writing this stuff, not me, but as long as it’s me doing the writing, I am crazy glad she is my friend.