That’s Affirmative

I spoke with a wonderful woman a couple months ago who was asking questions about an adopted niece  out there somewhere.  She expressed the desire to try to find her, maybe reconnect her with her mother, (her sister) and develop a relationship with her.  Inwardly I cringed.  I did not cringe because of the heartfelt desire, but about the can of worms that it would open for everyone involved.  I asked her to make sure she understood her own motivations for such a search and to consider the impact it would make on a grown woman who has had no contact with her biological family.  Many intricate strings exist here, for all involved. I have known my whole life that I am adopted and it has never really bothered me.  Kids in school often made remarks that I did not have any “real parents”.  It seems that many think that being adopted means that they don’t have any real parents.  How wrong a belief that is.  The fact is that we do have real parents, we were really born to someone and were given life.  The circumstances for an adoption are as varied as snowflakes that fall.  Hearing statements like that can really mess with a kid’s head, then again–sometimes it doesn’t..I will speak to my experience only.  It is the only story I know, and the only story which I have permission to share.

I know that many speak to the adopting parents experience and many times to the one who is giving the child up for adoption.  Then again, sometimes it is out of the biological parents control.  Few understand, or speak to the adopted child’s point of view.  Few realize that growing up there are real feelings that happen and they tend to stay into adulthood.  Not everyone is aware of that impact, but in studies of the psychological impact of adoption, some real emotions occur. I will speak to my experience only.  It is the only story I know, and the only story which I have permission to share.

Isolation:  Sometimes I feel like I am so different that most people would never understand why I think some things and my reactions to situations.  There are times when I watch families together that I physically ache for something real like that.  People have real connections with the people who REALLY have given birth to them….they are their biological family and thus can feel a tie to them that I will never have.

Loneliness:  It is true that I was adopted and cared for and raised by a set of parents.  I was given rules, guidelines, and opportunities that I would never had had.  I was able to realize what a household with parents and siblings feels like.  There are times though, when feeling different (even though I am not) makes for a lonely spot where I wonder if anyone else understands how I feel.

Affirmation:  This one is the hardest to feel, it is also the hardest to admit.  I am a creative soul, one who observes and feels emotions and the world around me intensely.  I cannot change this no matter how hard I try.  Being involved in speech events, theatre, and writing lends itself to a certain need for affirmation.  At 40, this drives me nuts.  Did I do this well enough?  Was I good enough at this task?  Did I do enough to please someone else?  Am I perfect enough that I won’t lose the relationship I have with this person?  Did I disappoint them so that they will go away, or decide that someone else is better?  Am I good enough to stay in this relationship…will they give me away if I do something wrong?  Can I be perfect enough to stay where I am and feel secure with this person.  Is it safe to love them, to let them love me, and to believe them when they say they care?  What may look like a compliment fishing expedition has little to do with ego stroking and more to do with the safety of that relationship.  If I do this, this, and this….I will get to stay.  If not, I am on my own….separated from the status quo that I understand.  That stability is so vital to my existence.  I know it may not make sense….I wish I could eliminate it, but it is part of who I am.  Missing a comma can throw me into such a moment of self doubt and fear that I will be replaced that I cannot tell others because I do not think they will understand.  Half the time, I do not understand.

Lastly, Wistful Dreaming.  I smile a bit here because like it or not, everyone of us has a dream in our head about what a reunion with our biological parents would be like.  We may never ever admit it to a soul, but the thought has crossed each mind.  The wondering of how they look, what they do, what are they like comes to the surface at least once in our lives.  The lifetime movie concept of running across a room with arms open wide and an easy explanation of circumstances has played before my eyes more than once.  Unfortunately that will never be the case.  I have met mine, know the situation, and know that that type of a reunion will never happen.  I have to be ok with that, and sometimes it is hard to admit that I want more than what I have.  It is hard to admit that the yearn for a “real family” surfaces…I wish it didn’t.  Much like I wish that I did not seek affirmation, I wish the yearn was not so strong.

There it is, the longer and not so short of it.  This is not an exhaustive list, and I have not done near the justice I could do.  Suffice it to say, there will be more observations…more encouragement to those adopting, and more caution for those entering into the world of adoption…Tread carefully and with more love than you ever dream possible.

shalom,

cahl

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I’m Baaaack.

Hello and good day from my keyboard. It has been awhile since I last wrote and there is no excuse. The only answer I can provide is that my world has been crazy busy. Yet, with all the good happening I realize even more the need for solitude and rest.

Mind you, I do not do this well. Even as I sit here and type, I think of the millions of “duties” I should be performing….ah, there’s the rub. Could it be that under all the excuses I am simply afraid of not performing up to standards? Hmmmmm, not sure how well that sets with me.

Performance, a word that has taken on many forms in my life. I performed in theatre, music, musicals, debate, and oral interp. It was as natural to me as dressing each morning. I performed tasks in my household growing up; laundry, vacuuming, cleaning the bathroom, washing floors, helping to load wood, painting and scraping various homes,…..you name it, I did it. There are few chores I have not tackled in some fashion, including picking rock and walking beans. My parents insisted at an early age that hard work was of utmost value. I wonder sometimes if hard work is as necessary as “heart” work.

You see, it’s easy to allow myself to be swallowed up in the work and performing each of those chores and role to the best of my ability, even pushing myself harder to achieve more, do more, and be more.  It’s especially easy to lose myself in a role, to put on another character or person and hide in their skin for awhile.  It’s easy to “be” someone else, to escape inside another world and forget for a time that reality exists.  I got really really good at this.

I also got really really good at depending on performance and excelling at that.  I craved the attention that high performance brought me.  Like a drug, I wanted another trophy like an addict wants another hit.  I wanted another  title, another win, another role as much as I needed to breathe to stay alive.

I also yearned for the esteem it brought me.    With every trophy I brought home, I would see a glimpse of the affirmation I wanted, needed, desired.  It was really the only time that I felt I was noticed…well noticed for something positive.  I was never a “bad” kid, just stubborn, headstrong, uncontrollable, mouthy, dramatic, and countless other adjectives.  Inside another role, I could crawl into their life and portray their struggles, oblivious of those lurking for me.  Inside the applause and the smiles when I had performed well, I could cloak myself in approval and what I thought was love.  Was it love, was it approval, was it really popularity?  Probably not.

Now, in my mid-thirties, I wonder if all that concentration on performance is really all that necessary?  Will I lose the love of my children and other people if I do not exceed all expectations?  Are they their expectations or ones I have placed on myself?  I believe the latter is true.

I have been toying with a couple book ideas, a storytelling gig, and countless other dreams….I keep stalling.  I have asked myself the cause of the stall?  Plain and simple fear of not meeting expectations, mine or anyone else’s.   What happens if I do not live up to my own standards–what if I can’t write the next “Great American Novel“?  What if I am only mediocre and the dreams I have of bright lights and big city are only pipe dreams?  Better yet, what if concentrating on those are the wrong concentrations?  The more entrenched I become in the working I am doing in various jobs, the more I realize going after the bright lights is rather selfish of me.  It would be another moment of craving the applause and admiration, then at the end of the day, what do I have left?

I am accepting this more and more, understanding that achievement comes in different forms.  My sons love me unconditionally, know that they are also loved unconditionally.  They are kind, compassionate, honest, smart, funny, and articulate young men who will grow into outstanding husbands and daddies.  I have friends and loved one who would walk through fire for me, and I for them.  I have an education and 2 degrees and a job with a non-profit that fills me with such joy, I cannot compare it to anything else I have experienced.  I am extremely blessed, one of these days I will shut off the applause valve playing in my ears, turn my head away from the lure of the audience, stand firm in what I know to be true, and try hard to be content with where I am in this moment of time.

Shalom,

cahl

 

 

Not my Son!

I became a mom about 9 years ago when my oldest son came bounding into the world. After 14 hours of labor, he appeared, stared me straight in the face and made not a sound. He took the room by silent storm as nurses and doctors cooed over him, exclaiming that he was one of the most beautiful babies they had seen. I thought, “Uh, of course you would say that, you HAVE to say that about all kids born.” No, they told me. There is something distinct about this one, they said. Distinct? Well, he certainly made a dramatic entrance. After he was born, the medical staff present busied themselves with me and sent my son upstairs. I knew before they told me, that something was wrong. I could feel it. After he was delivered, there was no pain….there was only peace. I watched the midwife at my feet count the pulse beats and watch pan upon pan fill with red liquid. I knew that I was losing more than a typical birth, all said and done I lost about 2-2 1/2 units of blood. I remember looking at my mother, who was watching me and telling her that all would be just fine. If what I had come into this world to do was to deliver my son, I had done just that. There was an overwhelming calm as I smiled at her, and closed my eyes. It was a moment of warmth, silence, and grace. I do not recall the scurry in the room, the nurses barking at the phone on the wall to bring up an ER tech. I do not remember my mother telling the room that my eyes were closed and my hand limp. All I remember is that for a moment I knew that I had done exactly what I was to do. At that moment, all was right with the world.

How can that be? Your son is upstairs, you are unconscious, on your way to checking out. How can you be at peace with what is happening? Don’t you want to see your son grow up, to teach and mold him, to love him everyday? How can you think this is ok? Fight, fight with all that you are!

Well, at that moment I could not fight, it was not my role to do so. There were others to do that on my behalf, my role was to fight for the life of my son, deliver him, and make sure he was safe. I had done that. There are other mothers out there who are called to do much more than I for their children. It is part of the role and call of a mother.

I think of another mother on this Easter. You see Holy Week has a different feel to me now that I have my own children. There is something so tender and raw about this journey of her Son. I think of Mary, mother of Christ as she watched the progression of events, and I marvel at her. There are times I look at my own sons and giggle as I think of the tirade that Jesus must have put His mother through while He was growing. The absences, the comments, the wandering off for days on end, and the cryptic messages must have driven her to distraction. The pleas of,”mom,can I?” Imagine this boy as a teen, full of knowledge, a yearning for something different, but maybe not able to articulate what it is. Imagine this boy as he questions, struggles, listens to inner voices calling him to something too large for conception; conception larger than what His mother was called to do.

There are moments I understand this woman, this Mother of love and grace. I understand the standing back and watching, praying that the testing of limits her child is doing will keep him safe. I wonder if she listened to his comments with peace or an unsettled feeling? I listen to my oldest talk about what sees and what he hears, it takes my breath away sometimes. He has a level of understanding and perception that floors me. What many of us spend years of education trying to figure out, he explains with a simple twist of his head, a smile, and a shrug of his shoulders. It is exactly what it is, for him there is no need to complicate love, compassion, beauty, and forgiveness. He knows what it looks like, how it feels, and is unafraid to express them in his own words. The wisdom of simply expressed thought, thought that we make confused by barriers, obstacles, and conditions.

I think of this Mother as I watched my children this week. I am careful what I say, how I approach the emotion in these days. While the week begins with great joy and celebration, a parade and cheerful laughing, there are also moments of gut wrenching sadness and loss. Easter week holds the contradiction of all emotions. What must Mary be thinking as she journeys this with her Son. She knows she cannot save him, she has seen the effects of the last three years. Would that she could take this from Him. As a mother, I feel that pain, the knowledge that your child hurts, is anguished and she can do nothing to stop it.

Would that she could join Him in the garden the night before He accepts fate. I imagine she would cradle her Son, rocking him back and forth, letting Him cry out the pain. Her arms would encircle Him, willing the strength that only a mother can provide, praying it would be enough. The tear stained face of her Son must tear at her heart, I can almost hear her railing at the same Father He cries out to in this moment. “WHY!” “Not MY son.” “No, He is YOUR Son.” “I will do what needs to be done.”

Good Friday always dawns cold and dreary for me. The sun may shine, but there is a cloak of darkness which covers my emotions. I watch the clocks, silently ticking away until noon. Thanks to modern day cinema, I can hear the driven nails, see the sprawled arms, feel the weight of the crowd. If I close my eyes I can see the picture clear and the mass of people presses closer and closer to the action. I can see those whom He loves. Mary Magdalene, oh how my heart breaks for her. I see disciples, believers, and brothers already confuserequd and mourning. I see the guards, those who doubt, those who question, and those who hate. In the front, is His Mother. I can picture her Son looking down at her, a mixture of grief, loss, and peace as He does what He is called to do. Feel the agape, unconditional and reverent love this Son has for his mother. Out of the sheer madness and agony of the physical pain comes a love which can only be described as Divine. He looks at John, whom He loves and commands him to watch after His mother. He speaks to His own mother, tears glisten from His eyes as he presents John to His mother. She is not alone. He has ensured her safety, her care, and made clear the path for her love to be continued. AAAAAAhhhhh!!!!…..

The noise continues, the deafening cloud draws the bodies closer, the summit of emotion reached. So many would scream the final line. I hear a quite resignation, a peaceful resolution, the fight is finished–there is no more pain. The whisper may come as loud shouts in the soul, but the eyes close, the hand goes limp, the last breath drawn. She delivered her Son amongst the primal earth and brought Him to this moment years later. She had no ER doctor to call, no final IV jammed into an arm to save. She heard and saw and breathed the last breath right along with her baby boy, her Holy Son. She remains, stays, mourns, and misses this boy made man. Tender hands usher Him down, tending the body, swathing this example of her heart made flesh. What must she think in this moment, how must she feel? How can this Mother believe that tomorrow or the next day will heal this wound?

This woman amazes me. Her love, her unconditional love and fight for her Son drove her to the cross. Drove her to watch, to hear, to clutch at those around her…Her love required her to let Him go. Ow. That hurts. Her love required that she let Him go. She had not hold over Him in this moment, just as she had no hold over Him from birth. A wry smile might play at her lips as she sits with that knowledge days and years later. There must be a quiet peace as she knows that what is done is done. It IS finished, but the next act is about to begin, if only she can wait a day or two. If only…..

Hey Death, BITE me!

BITE is out tonight.  it is dedicated to a wonderful woman of God who has taught me more about living than anyone I know.

 

Bite:

There is a certain sleepy South Dakota town which lies just off the Interstate 29 and most people would miss the jewel that it is unless you drive off the main road, stop awhile, and take up residence.  It is the kind of town where groups of farmers congregate in shifts at the local gas station and receive coffee refills for 75 cents and where kids appear in your backyard simply because they know your son or daughter and they want to play outside after school.  Many would choose not to settle here, opting for larger cities or something closer to bigger shopping and malls.  There is really nothing outstanding that would set this town apart from most small town rural America, nothing except its commitment to its residents.

In this town on a particular fall evening the local Legion Hall was bustling with music blaring down Main Street.  Streams of people milling in and out of the building made one wonder what sort of hoodlum party was taking place, grass skirts and coconuts litter the sidewalk.  Cars are parked diagonal and through the middle of the street as we see kids, teens, moms and dads accompanied by grandmas and grandpas filter into the hall.

Holding court, in a gaily colored leu is the reason they have all gathered.  In every way it looks like the Pacific islands have come to play for an evening.  Dancing, music, laughter, and more food than one can imagine line tables.  Succulent ribs and racks of bar b que are flanked by baked beans and one whole table is covered with slabs of cake with inch thick whipped frosting.  There is joy and conversation and youth alive in this space, and that is exactly how the guest of honor wants it.

She has come home to this little town on the prairie to live out her remaining days, a young woman with a body riddled with cancer, but a spirit which knows only grace and love unconditional.  Not yet thirty, she has fought the better part of her twenties with a disease that wants to claim her, she won’t let it.  She approaches it with a bite of grit and good humor and the kind of work ethic one imagines of a South Dakota raised woman.  There is nothing fleeting or wimpy about this woman, this warrior of mercy and forgiveness.

Yes of course, she would love to bite back at this wretched illness and kick its butt to the curb, and she has put up a valiant fight, so much that the townspeople would gladly take it from her.  She has mirrored for the younger teens in band how to hold their heads up with humble pride and dignity, never shirking from what her instinct told her she must do.  She has fought and in the process has shown each of us what it means to join the journey with someone, no matter how crappy the road ahead appears.

Time is running low for our girl and while we would all will every ounce of youth and health and strength to her, she has shown us how to let go and how to accept a fate that hurts.  She is honest in her ordeal, real in admitting that sometimes the pain has been too much to handle, that the road has not always looked pretty.  Yet, she has become even more beautiful as her life comes full circle.  Tonight residents poured out in droves to love on one of their own, she is beloved to them, to all who know her.  Her desire was to spend her last moments with her family, surrounded by support and the agape love she has come to know from her Creator.  As she prepares to say goodbye to her earthly family, she is aware of the eternal family waiting to embrace her.  Again, she teaches us with quiet grace what moving toward eternity looks like.  She demonstrates the sweet Spirit of Holy listening and resilient resolve.

“I want to be home, and that’s where I am going.”  Welcome home to our lovely young woman, an example of Psalms which tells us that death no longer has a sting, no longer has a bite.  She has embraced the essence of living and the Promise of eternity awaits her and we are better children of God for having shared her journey.

 

1 Corinthians 15:54-56

The Message (MSG)

51-57 But let me tell you something wonderful, a mystery I’ll probably never fully understand. We’re not all going to die—but we are all going to be changed. You hear a blast to end all blasts from a trumpet, and in the time that you look up and blink your eyes—it’s over. On signal from that trumpet from heaven, the dead will be up and out of their graves, beyond the reach of death, never to die again. At the same moment and in the same way, we’ll all be changed.

Surrender

I obsess.  Incessantly.

Sometimes I obsess about the most inane moments, situations, comments, or other sundry items.  See, i even made that really long sentence because I cannot use the word “things” in writing…. Cannot end a sentence with a preposition, nor will I patronize a store with incorrect spelling or grammar in their advertising.  I find it belittling to people, and if they want my money, they should treat me like I am an intelligent person making intelligent purchases.  Even if I want to spend my money on drivel, I still want to make an educated choice about said spree.

I find myself incarcerated by what I believe I must do and be for other people and yet consumed by a desire to bust out of the bonds of my making.  It is exhausting to say the least.  If I sense for a second that someone is angry or upset with me, I spend the rest of the time trying to figure out how to make amends, take the blame, or smooth over the situation.  This has not served me the best as there are simply some moments that cannot be amended.  There are also some circumstances that are not mine to own or to take the blame.  I am learning, slowly, Slllllowwwwlllly that there are times when I have extended the white flag and it is not received, that is not my fault; that there are items which others must own–if they chose.

I fixate on the future, believing that there is a destined something out there that I have to, have to, have to find.  That I will not rest until this something is spelled out in perfect and glittery letters and that I can follow a prescribed set of steps that will get me “there”–whatever that looks like.  That is also exhausting to the extreme because there will never be this utopian moment of “arrival”.  I will never reach the mecca of perfection and someday I will stop trying so hard to reach it.  Maybe.

I fret and stew about the  smallest infractions that I have committed, whether it be a missing comma in a piece of writing, or a forgotten date, my lack of providing all that I should to all I should.  I worry incessantly about what I could do and that it is never enough and will constantly be compared and found lacking in terms of what I should do.

I struggle to fit a set of standards and expectations that I have and that I believe others have for me, without having a clue as to how to attain them all at the same time.  I dream of a time when clouds part and sunshine streams in and I can breathe, in and out, and then in again–peacefully.  Ahhh, silly me, what am I thinking.  That is not what life is about….it is a set of struggles and obstacles and how one engages with them that is the real testament.  I try each day to make it better than the last one I lived.  Today I might have failed BIG time, I prolly did.  Maybe I did not….Maybe I semi-mastered one area and let another fall.

I heard the word surrender today.  That word has always presented barriers for me, maybe others too.  When I heard it and saw the scene in which it was used I was amazed.  This person asked the other to surrender with him in that moment.  To let go and let whatever was going to happen, happen.  What a concept.  He was in love and loving enough toward that other person to surrender the dreams they had together to help one another realize who they were independently.  He asked her to have enough faith in them to surrender.

I never have been good at that.  Growing up the middle child only girl in a talented and hard-working household meant that I had to fight for my place.  I fought hard to have a voice whether I needed to or not.  Later, being trained as a public speaker and a debater did not lessen my ability to surrender in any form.  It meant that I was better at it, could sniff out an opposition’s weakness and was going for the jugular in the most eloquent and snarky-smart fashion.  I did…I did it well.  Being in a family of incessant over-achievers meant that I did not let my guard down, did not let anyone know my fear, my weakness, or my desire to be average.  It became so that there was never a desire to be average, because that meant certain failure.  Standing out, making a name, and being more than an individual was as addictive as the Purple Passion my generation drank till they were stupid.  I had to have it…had to be outstanding, had to have the last word and it HAD to be better than any one else’s in the room…or else I would make myself pay.  I did–often.  I never surrendered, never gave up, never quit.

Now that funny word–surrender , lingers in the back of my mind.  Festering and picking at the vestiges of thought, calling me to examine what it looks like, inviting me to cloak myself in its embrace.  You see, I envision the talons of defeat and ridicule associated with that word.  Yet, there is something calming and oddly freeing about wrapping in its comfort.  Is there comfort there, is there freedom?  I admit, the thought of exploring that is a bit daring and daunting.

Surrender—hhhhhmmmm.  Whatever does that mean?  Anyone else willing to journey that with me?

Game on?????

cahl.

 

Here Piggy!

I was busted (in a general way) last week for a photo.  At first I really like the composition and the lighting that I saw, and then my heart sank as I looked at the profile and saw the same frustrations that I have always seen.  I tend to shy away from profile shots that reveal some of the natural disproportion that exists facially.  There is little that I can do about it anymore, but the issue of image seems to be a recurring one that many of us women deal.  It is a never-ending cycle of contentment and contempt that twirl concurrently to drive us into a torrent of torture, depending on the situation.  While men can age regally and become even more distinguished with the touches of gray…we tug and pull and yank them out in an effort to stave off the clock a little longer.  Where the male can sport a more portly figure, I find myself ashamed of the area where my children were carried and I cannot lose.  Instead of embracing that as a badge of courage and strength and life, I suck it in, refuse to eat 3 meals a day, and curse myself when I grab a caffeine beverage.  I am not the only female to suffer day in and day out in a self-imposed corset of too tight jeans just so the extra female softness is not revealed.  When a more female form with hips appeared I did everything to eliminate them…if I could still, I would.  I can’t.

Pure body image aside, it is the photo and what occurred in my gut after I took it that is more the issue.

I am terrified of what will occur in the next couple of days.  I will sit before a professional photographer ( i have not done so since I had my braces off and could still wear my graduation dress from high school  I was 24)  and I know this woman who will snap my head shot for more than a simple website.  I have had the dream of writing and speaking and now storytelling ever since I can remember.  I have spent the last 4 1/2 years snapping pictures of other people, events, and moments–all for the benefit of telling a greater story.  Now, as never, I feel called to bring words to other people and with that comes showing my face, and I am terrified.

See, I am great if I can hide behind beautiful worded verbage, I can create a tapestry of creativity and mix together words and senses and feelings so that there is no question as to who is writing…the only thought is of the person reading.  I do that on purpose.  All my make-up is done well, my hair fixed in a manner that would distract and pull the eye up, my clothes always well put together, and if I have on my glasses–they are sure to be ones that have a flair.  Nothing that is commonplace or traditional….I do that on purpose.  I talk with animation ( i do come by that naturally) and my hands are always on the move, emphasizing a point–and drawing the attention away from my face….away from the center part that many concentrate on in initially meeting me.  There is nothing more I can do to fix it.

I was born with a deviated septum.  Yes, most people would use that as an excuse to have a nose job…I could not use that as an excuse.  It grew as I matured and took up the greater part of my left nostril.  Due to the premature nature of my birth and some organic recreation while I was in utero, there are some things that did not have a chance to form as they might.  Be that as it may.  I remember years and years of ridicule for that damn septum.  I hated it !!!!  I hated my face with it in it.

Unfortunately, I also loved animals.  Uh, huh?  What?  My uncle and aunt lived on a farm and I spent time out in the barns with the animals…I seemed to have a way with them-I still do.  Out in the pasture I would tramp around with the Guernsey cows and the pigs.  The pigs–damn pigs.  Of course I was a reader too, so Charlotte’s Web ranked amongst my favorite books as I fancied myself a young Fern–complete with a Wilbur.  Damn.

From that love my uncle gave me a small pig pendant on a velvet string of purple–keep in mind I am not a girly girl and the cousins I hung with were male as were my brothers  ( of COURSE my brothers were male–they still are).  So here is the one girl amid at least 5 guys..and my older brother catches sight of the gift, looks at me, points at my nose and starts to laugh.  From there the nickname Piglet took shape.  Now my mother will tell you that it was out of love and endearment that I was so named.  Uh, no.  The whole school called me Piglet…the kids on the bus oinked at me, called me Piglet and oinked as I got on the bus, off the bus, and walked into the school.  Classmates would offer to pick the “booger” out of my nose and one extra special gentleman put an extra large set of tweezers in my locker so I could yank it out of my nose.  The same tweezers we would use at the lake to remove hooks from the mouths of fish after they had swallowed them.  I hated it. Never went on a date, no prom…nothing.  I hated it, it sucked.

I remember entering college and not weighing yet 1oo pounds and yet knowing that I was not facially pretty enough to make a show in theatre.  I remember being on an intercollegiate debate team and people telling me I was talented, but something was always sticking out of my nose.  Guys even told me I was a blast, but they would never date me with how I looked.  Nice.

Fast forward to student teaching sophomores and I went under the knife to remove the septum.  My number one reason was so that I could stand up in front of those speech students and actually teach them.  I knew the score.  It was a tough surgery and the recovery was not one I ever want to repeat.  May I just state for the record that breathing was much easier without half of my cartilage obstructing my nasal passage.  The Dr. who did the surgery was amazing and kind, and I was fully recovered the week that I started student teaching…the students were none the wiser.

Fast forward about ten years later and I decided to go under the knife again.  This time I was so tired of people asking what kind of accident I had been in or if I intended to fix my face anytime soon.  The oinking began again, only in a different tenor and with a different mantra.  Damn.  I could smash the front of my nose against my face…there was simply nothing there.  I sat opposite the same Dr.  he could do nothing…so he transferred me to another.  Pictures taken, molds made, more pictures taken, surgery explained.  Hope rose….and fell.

From the surgery I awoke to the Dr apologizing to me that he was not able to do more. “There is simply not enough cartilage up there to piece anything together.  I tried, I was on the phone to Mayo, asking them what to do as I was in the operating room.  It seems you have what is called Binder’s syndrome.  A macclusion of the mandible and maxilla.  To do the kind of work I wanted to do I would have to insert whale cartilage or take from your hip.  I did what I could with what we have.  I am sorry.”

No need to be sorry….you did what you could with what you have, it is more than what was done earlier.  Thank you for trying….thank you.

Oink oink, come here little piggy.

Now, in  a couple days I sit opposite a woman who will snap my picture to display on websites, on brochures, and God willing, a book or two someday.  I am good at telling the story, you see.  I have known this woman since I saw her in theatre with my older brother…I envied her cool and beautiful confidence.  She was kind to me while having no reason to be nice to a kid sister to a high school prodigy.  She was kind to me.  Now she tells me that she wants to bring out the beauty that she knows that she will see behind her lens.  Lord, I hope she is right.  Oink, oink….may the piggy sleep.

The lyrics and the media video I posted speak to a spot that I know I am not alone in filling.  I also turn another age later this week (about which I tried to blog earlier) and something tells me that the instances of pics and media and book ideas and my birthday are not mere coincidence.  I hope that I am strong enough to weather the week with grace and good humor.  If I remember, Wilbur, was SOME PIG….may it be so with me.

thanks for reading the longer post…i needed to write.

SHALOM dear ones….

cahl.

BUT!!!! i HATE to FLY

“Delta flight out of Sioux Falls leaving at 12:35 pm August 7 has already been delayed.  Please refer to check in times when you arrive”

GREAT!!!!  Just what I wanted to hear, leaving for almost a week, on my own, knowing the last time I took a trip by myself I was going to North Carolina, 3 months pregnant, and my luggage was lost for 2 days.  NOOOOOO!  This is not going to happen again!  Yet, here I was, back at an airport, flying back to Asheville (yes home to filming of the Hunger Games), and this time my son is 5 and I am no longer pregnant…and I have included a change of clothes in my carry-on.  HAve I mentioned that I LOATHE flying?

So, the stage is set for what looms ahead, my last trip to the east firmly in my mind, I anticipate with massive trepidation what will occur.  While I yearn for adventure and creativity,  i tend not to do well when it comes to flying.  The take-off and the landing are the spots that get me the most, I try to hold my breath as soon as I feel the descent.  I find that this is not a wise move, since a DESCENT could last longer than the actual flight.  I am learning to re-vamp my strategy–slowly.

I sit at Joe Foss airport and wish to god that I had a pair of ruby-red slippers, maybe if I could just click my heels together…I could magically transport.  Maybe if Madeleine L’Engle is correct, I can tesseract my way to North Carolina….maybe, just maybe.  No, the plane is now 1 1/2 hours late, having a mechanical issue and the part needed did not come in FED EX…ok, then, send Harry Potter’s owl to fetch it…DO SOMETHING!

Restless passengers eye one another, I check my ticket for the umpteenth time and vow that no matter what, I have my will in place (at least verbally) so should something happen to me….my love ones know what to do with my earthly possessions.  AS IF i had any earthly possessions…I just graduated Seminary, the Federal Government owns me!

FINALLY we are to board, and I walk down the ramp, no one feeling the confusion and apprehension that I feel.  No one suspects that I am terrified to fly, or that I have left the 2 most important people in my life with their father….I KNOW they will be fine.  I also know that I HAVE to make this trip, that it has been gnawing at my guts for a number of years and months since I received finances to make the trip.  Truth is, I fell in love with NC 5 years ago and the trip I am making is to an International Biblical Storyteller’s Conference.  Storytellers?  ME?  Me.

I look for my seat, silently thanking the airline gods that I am able to find the seat (the correct one) and stow my carry-on luggage (which can hold a small pug—-not that I would know) and buckle my seatbelt.  The person next to me is ….a kid.  Well, not a small kid, but compared to my age and station, he’s a kid.  We talk

He is on his way to interview for another summer internship with Monsanto,he has been in Nebraska all summer with them and the package they give these interns is amazing…car, gas, living expenses, food, lodging, and a credit card for the summer.  HELLO!  Here I smile quietly to myself as I introduce myself as working for a grassroots community development non-profit which specializes in school teaching gardens.  The exact opposite of the agriculture hemispheres collide and I think what more odd moments could happen on this day?

More was in store as we continue to climb in altitude.  We continue to talk and realize that small ag is not a threat to big business, nor is big business the all-encompassing evil we think it is.  They can co-exist and understand one another, if we allow it to happen.  ANYWAY……we talk about what is happening and I find out that he is from a small town in southeastern mn, where lo and behold, a person that I work with daily lives.  Connection 2 established and then a couple more when we talk about people that he knows.  We really do live in a small, small world.

We laugh thinking what an incubator we live in when I start thinking about SDSU in Brookings….my alma mater.  I spent a number of good years there and fell in love with the town as much as I did the people.  There are just some places that have good energy…Brookings, SD is one of them.  We gab of campus and the changes and I giggle thinking of my dorm in Wecota…all the furniture was moveable.  I remembered my first class in BIO Stress Building and my first day at Doner! and the trek from Wecota to HPER in the dead of winter.  He is total AG-buisness….I smile.  He is all of 20 and gets to move off campus for the first time.

Fasten your belts…this gets bumpy.  He describes the house he is moving into with 5 other guys.  I ask if he has invested in Febreze and he proceeds to describe a little mint green house with cute white shutters…well, he didn’t say cute…I did.  Starts to name the address and before I know it he cites a McDonald’s right up the street and a little further up the block used to be a Zesto’s.  1448 7th Street I inquire and he nods.

NO WAY!!!!  That is my 1448 1/4 7th street.  Well, mine and my Jenn’s.  I lived there in college and sat there aghast as he talked of the sliding kitchen door one can hear from every room in the house.  I lived in the basement and wanted to live on the main floor with the hardwood floors.  I lived there as I student taught and underwent my first sinus surgery with Dr. DeSautel.  HE worked wonders.  I laughed and studied and dreamed there, now a house full of 6 boys will do the same.  Those in the basement still have the huge armoire in the large bedroom and a set of pale pink dishes with ivy on them….Compliments of an aspiring theatre major.

Day one on my trip and my first flight sees connections that I could not possibly invent on my way to Mpls.  The flight went on without incident, I forgot to hold my breath, forgot to be scared of taking off, forgot to be scared to fly.

I know that many may read this and disregard my comments as so many coincidence….it wasn’t.  There is no way I could put together that chain of connections in that time and place to reveal to me at that moment.  I could not invent that and I did not ask for those variables to be present.  Truth is, I wanted to be a bit surly, soaking in my discomforture.  i did not want to admit to anyone how excited I was to be going back to NC or to be a Storyteller….or to incorporate my love of theatre, music, writing, and faith all into one arena.  I did not want to admit that anything that perfect existed or that I would be so called to do so.  So called….me, who hates to fly–so called out of the nest.  So called, to fly.

shalom,

cahl

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Wish I May…

Not sure what kind of mood I am in tonight, so I will depart from usual ramblings to create an I WISH list….don’t even know what direction it will take, I just plan to write it and see where it takes me.

In no particular order….

I WISH….

Chocolate was declared a food group

Money grew on trees, and those trees grew in my backyard.

My children would stop destroying my house

Time did not seem to fly the older I become

We would understand the importance of family

I embraced more laughter

I could see an ocean

Wood ticks, snakes, and spiders were eliminated from existence

Fall weather and its colors lasted longer

Algebra did not elude me

Words like thong, pantyhose, panties, and jock straps were never uttered

I could hula hoop

All manner of hatred, cruelty, injustice, intolerance, and human and animal abuses would end

I were not afraid of heights, pizza cutters, or water chestnuts

My children understand the joy of sleeping in and taking naps

I did not think Freddy Krueger were not quite so funny.

Prayed more and fretted less

My children a safer and cleaner environment than the status quo

Strength was not measured in what we can accomplish on our own, but within the loving openness of community

Mullets were outlawed

I communicated truthfully without fear of retribution

Our young people loved learning for the sheer joy of adding to their knowledge base

They knew that knowledge is power

We realized we do not have to repeat cycles of dysfunction

Boys knew how to aim in the bathroom better

Said bathroom cleaned itself

I lived closer to the mountains

I had three more wishes………….

Go! Embrace your Liberty….

There is a scene in one of my favorite movies, ( yes it’s a chic flick–DEAL with it.)  Little Women.  In the scene with Susan Sarandon as Marmee and Winona Ryder as Jo, the two interact about a trip to Europe that Jo’s younger sister Amy, has just landed.  Keep in mind, Amy is the youngest, daintiest, blondest, and by Jo’s standards, prettiest…Brunette thinkers, you know what I mean.  Amy has just captured the dream Jo had for years and in a fit of remorse and anger she flops down on the bed to talk with Marmee….It’s a beautiful scene, and as I play it back in my head, I can see it clearly.

Marmee is absently stroking Jo’s hair while she cries a bit, lamenting the loss….”

“Well, of course Aunt March prefers Amy over me. Why shouldn’t she? I’m ugly and awkward and I always say the wrong things. I fly around throwing away perfectly good marriage proposals. I love our home, but I’m just so fitful and I can’t stand being here! I’m sorry, I’m sorry Marmee. There’s just something really wrong with me. I want to change, but I – I can’t. And I just know I’ll never fit in anywhere. “

Marmee:

Oh, Jo. Jo, you have so many extraordinary gifts; how can you expect to lead an ordinary life? You’re ready to go out and – and find a good use for your talent. Tho’ I don’t know what I shall do without my Jo. Go, and embrace your liberty. And see what wonderful things come of it. 

If I could kiss Marmee in this moment, I would.  This interaction brings tears to my eyes each time I replay it…somehow it has ingrained itself in the midst of my soul, and try as I might, I cannot rid myself of this scene.

As a mother, I smile softly at this direction, knowing full well that my boys will want to fly away sometime soon.  I see it happening little by little already.  Gone are the days when they need me desperately, and while that feels good in the sense of freedom…my lower lip trembles a bit when I think of the years spinning away from us.  I want to call out to them to WAIT, stay here with me, let’s journey this together….But, I can’t.

On the flip side, I feel intimately Jo’s comment, I always have.  This need to fly, to bust out of the ordinary and DO something.  I write about it, talk about it, dream about it, and try to talk other people into experiencing it too.  Most people just nod and smile at me like I have lost my marbles.     Those are the times I feel like someone is patting me on my head and playing into my childish fantasies of adventure.  Other times people wonder why I can’t be content with what I have.

Well, I spose I could, but that would be antithetical to me, to the essence of who I am.  Therein lay the struggle.  I deeply resonate with Jo.  I love where I grew up and the people with whom I have related.  I love the rooted grounding I have received, the education, and the experiences of being in the Midwest and country life.  But, like Jo, I am restless….wandering aimlessly until that moment that feels like magic.  I try to fit the molds, and those that know me best have heard me speak of this till the mold is blue in the face!!!!  I have tried to chip away the restless and uneven parts of me…they still don’t fit a mold.  I have tried to envision a life that is quiet and certain and safe and controlled, it makes me feel like I am trapped.

I worked at a convenience gas station the last 2 days…yup.  Graduated from Seminary and I am working for minimum wage at a till—I am a certified teacher too….try that on for size.  ANYWAY!  I worked the last 2 days, about `18 hours (give or take)  I tried to think that I could do this day-in, day-out…I could be content to do this…to walk away at the end of the day and not think about anything and be quiet.  I could greet and smile and serve..I could.

But.  I. don’t. want. to.

That sounds selfish.  I hear myself type that and I think, oh hon, can you hear how trite you sound?  The thing is, if it were my children saying the same words, I would send them on their way…without remorse, without regret.  Marmee does just that with Jo.

Jo wants to change, to fit the mold, and Marmee gives her permission to break free…to GO!  Embrace your liberty!  I want this MARMEE!!!  Maybe I am looking for someone to give me permission…maybe I want someone to look me in the face and tell me it’s time to GO.  Maybe.  Maybe I want someone to tell me that being safe isn’t always right…that to live a life of purpose is to live dangerously….to love dangerously and to rebel against the social injustice and hatred that is prevalent.  Maybe I want a guarantee that there will be people there, ready to embrace me no matter where the road takes me.  Maybe.

Or, maybe I am scared.  Scared that a life of extraordinary means hard work and sacrifice and a constant feeling of wanting more.  Maybe I do not know if I am strong enough to handle it…that I never had it to begin with, or that I will let people down in the end.  Maybe I am scared of being able to do it…of feeling like it is time to Go and that means leaving the safety of the known…as cumbersome as it may appear sometimes.  Maybe I am terrified to Go.

I can’t imagine what Jo was thinking after her mother told her to embrace her liberty.  I have never heard someone say that to me, much less a parent.  Here is her mother, handing Jo her dreams on a silver platter….willing her to take the leap of faith-admitting her pain at her absence, yet tells her…GO!  How can you expect to live in the box when you have been otherwise gifted…..I yearn to hear that…maybe I have and I have been to deaf to hear.  It certainly wasn’t easy for Marmee to tell her, nor for Jo to act.  She had to, and her mother knew it.

I am not sure what my writing today is about…a jumbled jigsaw of thoughts.  I tried to sort them as I worked today, thinking back to my high school and college days at grocery store work.  I came by the interactions naturally, was a hard worker, and kept the position and grew into more leadership.  That often happens when I am somewhere.  It isn’t long before the “quick study” morphs into another position and usually one of leading or managing….so many instances of “could do”, so many “you should’s”  Most people will read that and think I am egomania personified.  It does not come from ego, it simply happens.  Try as I might, however, I just could not envision myself at a cash register for the next 30 years…and I am sorry that I can’t.  I want more than this provincial life (thanks belle)

Thoughts, questions, comments, rude remarks?  Please?

Shalom,

cahl.

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Clamoring Crabs–or Lobsters?

I wrote not long ago about some song lyrics from RENT and swore that I would continue that stream for a bit….I lied.

I was reminded not so long ago of a story about crabs…or lobsters…or crablike lobsters.  I can’t remember.  Forgive me, I just graduated and life has been a little hectic.  YES, that’s right!!!! I graduamatated!!!!!!  An MDIV in Pastoral Care and Counseling has my name on it!  I even passed with flying colors the last history class that I had to take and enrolled in midway through the semester.  BooYAH!

Anyway.  This story on crablike lobsters….a man happened upon a whole bucketful of the clawed crustaceans.  Another man came upon the bucket and wondered at the top being left off and questioned the first man about it.  He was concerned that the crabs would climb up out of the bucket, thus all the work to catch them being undone.

You would think that they would clamor to the top and rush to escape, wouldn’t you?  The wise fisherman replied that as one may start to the top, the others would sink their claws into the one escaping and pull them back in the bucket.  The first crab would never make it out, never escape because upsetting the status quo would be too costly to the whole.

AMAZING!!!!  I thought about that story today.  I thought about its application to human nature.  Amazing.  We are not so unlike our clawed crustaceans.  That saddens me.  It angers and disappoints me to my core.  It causes me to shake my head in dismay and question what I am doing.  I have to ask myself if I do that to another…do I do that to my children?  Are there people in my life that do the same to me?  I have to answer affirmative to all the questions.

There are many times that I have coveted another’s success or tried to talk them out of something because I did not want them to “get ahead”.  Albeit it was much earlier in my adulthood.  What I have failed to recognize are the moments that others have put me in that same situation and I have let them.  Moments when because of guilt or shame or fear I have left my dreams and hopes to the side and accepted their agenda.  Moments when I have stayed in the bucket because I am too scared of what the other side looks like to venture forth.  IF the crab understood that their freedom was on the other side of the bucket, they might tackle one another to get to the top.

Then again, maybe they wouldn’t.  Maybe that is the realization that strikes in my soul this evening.  Maybe they are so content with the status quo and what they know that they would not fight for freedom…that they would not fight to live.  All they can see, all they know is the reality in  front of them.  They ask not one question, challenge not one authority…dream no bigger than the next pot of boiling water.  Water that will not give them new life (aaahhhh there is a sermon in that)

Am i guilty of that?  Yes.  I am guilty of wanting to take the easy route, of wanting a nice neat packaged solution.  I yearn for that…I think we all do.  I also yearn to fly.

With all that I am, I yearn to step to the edge, stare it down, spread my wings, and let go.  I have wanted that since I knew to dream.  I entertain many a dream in this head of mine…most of the time I feel too ineffectual to see them through.  But, oh Lord, I wanna fly.  What’s more, I want the chance to let others fly too, in their way, on their own path.  I think that is why I became a teacher so many years ago…I loved watching the dawn of dreams in my kids’ eyes.  I still do.  I love to hear the stories and where people want to go…and am so often disheartened when I hear them give up the fight before they have even started.

So, yes.  I am guilty.  Maybe this story can motivate me, or someone else to think…to dream, to fight.  Not all fight has to be destructive, not all anger is dangerous…and freedom does not have to cost everything.  I think to not experience that freedom is more dangerous and costly than never entertaining it in the first place.

I am not sure what all this means, I know that I have more to write, but my head is full of other thoughts.  I will close for tonight…I entreat your ideas, your thoughts, your dreams.  Let’s help one another fight to the top and fly!!!!

Shalom dear ones,

cahl.

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