co.

we’ve been in colorado the past nine days, and we leave this week to road trip back to atx. the mountains have always been a spirit place for me – a coming home of sorts – and this time was no different.

i have this feeling deep down that we are all being held tightly, lovingly, by our big scary wonderful world, no matter how hard we sometimes try to wiggle our way out of it’s grip.

this summer has been incredibly special for me and my family, and i am taking a thousand memories back to texas. i hope to start writing meatier posts next week, but for now here are a BUNCH of pictures.

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lake weekend.

the greater niagra//waterport new york area stole our hearts this weekend. the land is lush and full of green green life. lake ontario spreads as far as you can see and changes colors like a chameleon all day long.

in all our driving we passed dozens of farms and only two restaurants.

i ate an entire bucket of freshly picked strawberries.

there are many kinds of beauty, in many kinds of places. each with it’s own song.

i was glad to hear the song i did this weekend.

and now, let us please observe that finley looks TWELVE (twelve) in all of these pictures. IMG_5782IMG_5792IMG_5836IMG_5839

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hi hi hi!

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IMG_5774quick check-in!

we travelled to upstate ny last week to spend extended time with my in-laws, to soak up this amazing summer weather, and to let the girls run in the sprinkler and play with all the old toys their dad and aunt used to play with and go to bed late and eat dessert all day and generally have the “summer at grandmas” routine that is so nostalgic and wonderful. there’s a simplicity here i find incredibly compelling, and i am certain this is a tradition we will continue every summer for as long as we can.

PLUS, pat and i get to attend my best friends wedding in nashville next week SANS KIDS. you read that right. i’m entirely excited and only two percent anxious. if plum could just take a bottle with ease that would help. HEAR THAT PLUM?! bottle. please.

we are taking the girls to niagra falls tomorrow and spending the weekend at the lake (one of my favorite things to do here.) i’ve been intentionally leaving my phone somewhere i can’t find it for long stretches of time (phone detoxing serves me well) and i’m thinking the lake is the perfect place to unplug.

happy summer, and much love to all.

 

pink peonies forever.

i am deep in the craziness of preparing to be gone for 5 weeks – we are leaving town wednesday and won’t be home until the end of july.

i leave you with a few pictures of our time in austin these past ten days.

we are so glad to be here.IMG_5584

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*by the way, the above family portrait was done by finley, who came up to me and said: “this is our family, except for edith, because she was at yoga camp.”

**also by the way, yoga camp is not a thing edith has ever done.

 

 

atx.

we’ve lived in austin a little over a week now.

we are settled, and in love with the city.  we’ve experienced passing moments of homesickness and anxiety, but are generally comfortable.  and calm.

i balanced this past week with unpacking and organizing and cleaning with a “normal” routine of summer activities with the girls.  we went to the children’s museum, playground, two swimming pools, and got ice cream.  we went to whole foods and target.  we colored and colored and colored.  we made pancakes.

and on saturday morning, the five of us headed to barton springs pool.  barton springs is a natural spring pool, and it’s GIANT.  the water is cold and it has slippery rocks on the bottom.  my girls, the ones who walk around life with a strong sense of peace and security and joy, were nervous.  they didn’t like it.  they didn’t know what to make of it.  the water was just a little too cold and those rocks were just a little too slippery.

this is normal kid stuff -sometimes the environment just doesn’t vibe and so they communicate: enough.  and, as an in-tune, patient, respectful parent, i usually respond with: got it, no problem.

but on saturday morning, i shamed them.

i told them they were being ridiculous.  i lashed out.  i acted like there had never been anything more irritating in the world.  i told them i loaded up these things and got y’all ready and can’t you just JUMP in the water?  what is the matter with you?  that’s how i was acting.

like there was something wrong with them.

i hate it.  i hate thinking about it, writing about it, and telling you about it right now.

but i will.  and i will admit: it was my shame.

my shame, that i was putting on to them.

are you aware that this is something that can happen?  that you can actually PUT your feelings onto your children?  your feelings of insecurity, anger, pain, and shame?  you can put those on them like you put on their princess dresses every morning after breakfast.  you can place it right over their heads.

it was my shame.

it was brewing in me all week, amongst the dollar aisle at target and the bulk section at whole foods.  it was in me as i was putting plates away in my kitchen and stroking plum’s thick blonde hair as she nursed in the shade at the pool.

but i couldn’t name it, yet.

and until you name it, you can’t swat it down dead.

shame is the worst one, for me.  the sneakiest, most dangerous feeling of them all.  shame is the one that says:  i am bad.  i am wrong.  i don’t deserve any of this.

why is my husband even married to me.
why do my kids even want to be with me.
what is the matter with me?

leaving dallas swished up silt that had somewhat settled.  sometimes closure isn’t warm and fuzzy; sometimes it’s acidic and complicated.  i did a lot of shitty shit in dallas, and then we left.

fuck – we couldn’t stay there.  and it was my fault.

it doesn’t matter that this isn’t entirely, or even half, or even a quarter true.  it doesn’t matter that the move was the best choice aside from my actions, that austin is a wonderful fit for my family, and that dallas was never going to work long-term regardless of what happened there.

what matters is that i am still practicing the art of staying on my own team.

and sometimes i wander off.

i wish it hadn’t taken being so horrible to my kids to name my shame.  i wish i could have swatted it down dead without having to see edith cry on pat’s shoulder.  i wish i could erase that hour of my day yesterday, and replace it with my loving, kind, healthy self.

but i can’t.

what i can do is remind myself: i am a loving, kind, healthy mother, the overwhelming majority of the time.

i can remind myself: there is nothing wrong with me.

i am worthy.

 

 

well guys-

we made it to austin. it was a long day, and i am glad to be on this side of it. moving is an arduous process, and i couldn’t believe how many things i kept finding in drawers.

a couple of weeks ago when i started packing i was pretty organized and deliberate, and by this morning i was like UNLESS WE NEED IT TO BREATHE IT GOES. i think i threw away seven pairs of underwear, a water glass, and three pairs of earrings, followed by like, everything in my fridge, a board game, a ski cap, and plastic straws?! where were those straws coming from?! there were many of them.

i also completely stopped caring WHAT my kids were doing as i was trying to pack. at one point they found tampons (yes) and were pretending to insert them in each other’s vaginas (also yes) at which point i turned to pat and said: “time to go.”

but really, everything went as smoothly as it possibly could have, and i am grateful.

and now i am about to nurse this AUSTINITE down, and tomorrow we move in to our house.IMG_5575.JPG

much love to all who got us here- emotionally, spiritually, and physically.

it takes a mindful village.

xo.

 

and then doing it.

 

i reread this post, this morning.

this definitive post – the most significant post, in my eyes, of all the posts i have written.  i reread that post this morning and my mouth fell open.  i couldn’t believe how different that girl was, who wrote that post.  i couldn’t believe how much had changed inside of her.

who was that girl?  that girl.  i felt such a tenderness for her – such an aching love.  what a sweet thing she was.  she was scared, and lonely.  she didn’t know her worth.  she felt ashamed.  but she was always trying.  and she was doing the best she could.

the thing was, her center, her core – the lights were out.

i remember sitting in a chair, at the meadows treatment center in arizona.  it was bright and hot and dry outside and dark and cold in our small room.

i sat in a chair and felt a. skeptical as shit and b. pretty desperate.

it started slowly, the talking.  the talking out loud.  the therapist in the room was guiding me, and she made me do this: she made me tell myself i would take care of myself.

so i did.

i told myself i would take care of myself.  i spoke those words out loud.  i told my seven-year-old self i would hold her hand.  i would tuck her in at night; i told her i am here.  you are safe, now.  you can stop.  you can stop worrying about your mother, and carrying everything that is hers, with you.

those things.  they are not yours to keep.

i spoke those words and sobbed.  and screamed.  and i felt this scared seven-year-old take a deep breath in, and a deep breath out.

i felt her say: okay.  we can try.

i hold this child so dearly inside the woman i am today.  she is eternal, and present.  i could never begrudge her – i can only thank her for riding it out.

i wrote that post, be fucking brave, on may 15th, two years ago.

we leave for austin tomorrow.

my therapist told me once it goes something like this: the brain can create new neural pathways, but you have to do it.  you have to take the action that is DIFFERENT than the action you have taken before.  you have to act your ways into better ways of feeling.  and then slowly, over time, your brain can rewire.  and you can start to make intentional, safer choices, based on love.

not fear.

even so.

i am nervous, to move to austin.  i’m nervous for all that is new, and different.  i am nervous for all the unknown unknowns.

and i said a hard goodbye today, to a space and to a person that helped light many of the lights in my core.

but i must trust.  i must trust my adult life, the one i first saw potential for, in arizona. the one i created, here, in dallas.

the one i will carry with me, to austin.

i must be brave.

i will do it for her.  i will do it for them.

i will do it for me.

 

from now on.

 

have you ever thrown up after eating something in particular and then not been able to eat it for a decade?  when i was six i threw up a dozen times after eating chocolate chip cookies out of a pink cookie jar shaped like a fat hippo.  you removed the hippo’s cheeky head, reached your hand in, and pulled out a freshly-made pecan chocolate chip cookie so warm that it slid in half as you pulled it out and you had to lick the chocolate gooeyness off your fingertips before putting the first bite in your mouth.

a cook named maybelle made those cookies in chappell hill, texas, at my grandparents’ farm.

she made them in the kitchen every friday afternoon, right before all of the kids and grandkids made the hour-long drive from houston for the weekend.

she made them for everybody, i suppose, but they ate like they were made just for you.

when i was six i got the stomach bug at the farm, and threw up all night long.  cookies were collateral damage; i didn’t reach my hand in a cookie jar for ten years.

by the time i was ready to, that pink jar was gone.

fear will do a number on you.  distaste.  bad associations.  and i’m stubborn about my bad memories – i can make them last a lifetime.

i was ready to leave dallas well over a year ago.  i wanted gone.  dallas had become the cookie i couldn’t eat –  everywhere i went there was bile in my mouth.

and god made me ride it out.

he didn’t let me have my way.

i guess he did this so that i could start healing the real wound – the deep one-  that came long before dallas, and will stay long after i leave.

sometimes you just don’t want to throw up again.

but it was never about those cookies.  it wasn’t about the cookies in that jar at all.

it was not my hand that caused the pain.

it was not rushing in in my school uniform, hopping half my body up on the countertop, leaning over and picking up that hippo head.

i could not have stopped the sickness that was coming – the sickness was already there.

i didn’t do it.

so.  now i know.
i can open the jar.
i can reach in.

and it will not make me sick.

 

 

 

plum.

it occurred to me recently that plum is the understated belle of the ball.  i say this only for you, over there, who does not actually know plum.  for if you do, you know that ‘understated’ is not a word to describe plum at all.  plum is loud, fiery, and an absolute blast.  she shrieks loudly and cries every day.  she bites me and then laughs.  she has twinkling blue eyes and a wry sense of humor.  she moves her head all around the room, at all times, looking for me, looking for pat, looking for finley and edith.  GUYS! sup.  come over here.  pick me up.  give me what you have.  show me what you’re doing.  let me in on what’s going on. 

i should have known the girl couldn’t be ignored when i was four months pregnant vomiting in the drive-thru line at starbucks.

and then again in the parking lot.

and then on greenville avenue.

(the middle of greenville.)

((the busy part of it.))

plum will be eight months old this weekend.  and when i use that word, understated, it’s not really for her or for you.

it’s for me.  i am more understated, about her, than i was with the other two, (finley especially.)  i am not so busy trying to prove my love for her; i’m just over here, loving her.  immensely.  truthfully.  wholly.

one of my favorite lifey quotes comes from the incomparable patty griffin, who says, most everything means nothing, except some things that mean everything.

most everything means nothing.

except some things…that mean everything.

so what are they? what are the things that mean everything?

can you hold them in your hand?  can you write them down in words?

do we get to decide?

do you and i get to decide what means everything?

i don’t think we do (thank god), but i think the universe is always trying to give us the answer.  i don’t think the universe wants us to ignore these things.

i think the universe will wretch up your stomach in a busy intersection, if it has to, to get you to pay attention.

i think it wants to let you in on what’s going on, at any and all cost.

to the things that mean everything.

so that you can drive yourself safely home.

 

 

 

some thoughts on mother’s day this year.

mother’s day is one of those social constructs that can sometimes feel like a total crock of shit. but, it can also feel like a special day where we honor the role of motherhood, and the many different forms motherhood can take.

for me, this year, mother’s day is sad, as my relationship with my own mother continues to be the most challenging part of my life. that may seem like a lot to reveal so quickly like that, but, it’s honest. and we could use all the honesty we could get right now.

so, yeah. these last few months, and the last few days in particular, i have felt the wound of my mother relationship- a wound which is deep and delicate.

that word delicate though, it doesn’t mean quite what it used to. it doesn’t mean fragile, for me, any more.

i am not so fragile, anymore.

and while i experience plenty of sinking moments and heavy aches, i am practicing how to feel sad, and how to let stinging times of sadness sit in my body without threatening to destroy it.

these wounds of mine, they have splattered intricate and colorful layers of paint on the canvas of my current life- a life i stand beautifully in; a life i have fought for, and a life that affords me to mother as a healthy and whole human being.

i love my mother so much.

i am sad, and happy, and grateful, for every experience i have walked through with her.

and nothing, nothing, will ever compare to the love i have for my own children, who bring the light to my doorstep, each and every morning.