Not Broken Just Bent-My Messy Beautiful

Bent flower

 

This essay and I are part of the Messy, Beautiful Warrior Project — To learn more and join us, CLICK HERE! And to learn about the New York Times Bestselling Memoir Carry On Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life, just released in paperback, CLICK HERE!

 

I sometimes imagine myself on a panel, you know, on a stage where they line up tall chairs for the speakers to awkwardly climb into and talk and be questioned about things or subjects they are experts on. But this panel is different, it is compromised of women, most who have been to hell and back, and they are telling their story of pain and loss and grief. How they survived and overcame and are dealing with breast cancer, infidelity, domestic violence or (unimaginably) the loss of a child. They are there, telling their story, sharing their hell. And then its my turn, my throat is dry and my heart is pounding, I know that my voice will crack or shake or do both if I attempt to speak. I wring my hands to stop them from shaking and I close my eyes and then open them and look down at the line of brave warriors that had gone before me and quietly say ” I got nothing.” Continue reading

In Search of Numen Lumen – In Celebration of Elon University’s 125th Birthday

Elon University

 

 

 

 

 

 

At forty I still feel young, especially when I’m with my college girlfriends. Age and time seem to fade and it’s just like when we were back under the oaks, listening to the Indigo Girls and drinking cold beer under a Carolina blue sky. I long for those days again, when life was simple and major decisions had nothing to do with houses and children and 401K’s. When the biggest crisis was who you were asking to the grab-a-date or finding where you left your bike the night before. It was a time when it was ok and almost expected to be a bit foggy at 11am and when everyone who depended on you was always a bit foggy too.

But time passes and life throws curves and rocks at you, you fall in and out of love and you find what matters most, all while amassing an adult life that you thought that you were supposed to have and aren’t sure that you really want. And with that brings problems and crisis and you find that your family and friends are real people with real problems, not the fairytale figures you created them to be in your youth.

People disappoint you and surprise you and horrify you and you realize that you are grown up and have to be strong because being weak is not an option. Yes, you may have moments of weakness but they can’t last because you have others who depend on your strength so that they may live their own lives and figure out this cycle for themselves. You see people who cannot be strong so you try to give them your strength to get them through and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. Continue reading

As Tall As Jesus

BUSHNELL PICTURES

I was in my late twenties, sitting in a church pew, clutching my (then) new husband’s hand, tears streaming down my face, I listened to my Mother and Uncles eulogize my Grandfather.

A story was told of a time when they had asked my Grandfather if he wished he was taller. This was a question that caught me off guard as I never thought of my Grandfather as short; he always seemed larger than life to me. When they asked him how tall he wished he was, his response, “As tall as Jesus.”

Gasps were audible throughout the church. The magnitude of the statement just uttered caused spontaneous inhalations of incensed church air. We Catholic’s are good at acting astonished.

My uncles, being the inquisitive bunch that they were (and still are), tried to determine the true height of Jesus through research and general “asking around” but never found a definitive answer. Finally, they went back, feeling discouraged and explained that they weren’t able to figure it out and looked to my Grandfather to solve the puzzle. He laughed a little and said that he didn’t know either but that was the point. Jesus was as tall as he needed to be. Continue reading

What if Moms Took Over Congress?

Moms blog- hands raised

Let’s face it, Mom’s just know how to get things done. It’s because they have to, they have no choice. In many cases they are the ones making the lunches, waking the children, getting them breakfast, playing referee between those same children who are eating breakfast, making sure they put on some sort of clean clothing, tie their shoes, get their teeth brushed (on a good day) and scooting them out the door all within a forty minute time frame. Continue reading

C is for Courage

Pink ribbon

Reality knocked on my door in a big way this summer when I got a call about a friend from college. We lived on the same hall freshman year, pledged together, gained the “freshman fifteen” together and, though our lives took us in different directions, we always were connected. She had just received the news that she been diagnosed with breast cancer and had made the brave decision to have a double mastectomy. Shock, fear, heartbreak, tears all came at once. She, on the other hand was composed and strong stating that she would be fine, that they had found it early and the prognosis was good. Most importantly, she let me know that it would not define her. She was consoling me, telling me that she would be fine. Right then, listening to her soft, reassuring voice I understood the true meaning of courage.

It is doing something afraid. My beautiful friend is doing that every day and that’s not easy. But no one ever said that it would be and so we are left with the opportunity to choose our path and either smile as we walk over the rocks and stumps that are in our way or complain about what is under our feet.

Courage is an extraordinary quality, but I have found that it also exists in the ordinary of everyday life. It’s not only for those who risk their life in seemly no win situations, it’s also just getting up in the morning and making the coffee and having hope for a better today. Continue reading

The Value of Losing

PLACT-ND Sign

“Winning is great, sure, but if you are really going to do something in life, the secret is learning how to lose. Nobody goes undefeated all the time. If you can pick up after a crushing defeat, and go on to win again, you are going to be a champion someday.” - Wilma Rudolph

Children are learning, at a very early age, that winning is everything. That if you don’t win the game, the match, the meet, that somehow you are less of a person than you were before. Those ninety minutes of their lives (by some people’s standards) define who they are and what they will become.

There is always a winner and a loser, that’s just a fact. But I think how you act when you are defeated more so defines who you are than when you are celebrating your victories. Anyone can jump on that winning train. When you’re feeling good and at the top of your game, when you are getting high fives and pats on the back and your head is held high and your smile is bright, that’s the easy part.

But when the numbers aren’t in your favor and the self- pity and guilt begin to settle in, that’s the defining moment, where you choose between hanging your head or holding it high. That’s where your true character shows through. Continue reading

Great Expectations

Great Expectations

Think and Integrity were two words ingrained into my mind all through my Freshman year in High School. They were written neatly in thick, black marker on two oversized note cards and posted in the upper right and left corners of the chalk board. Yes, I said it, chalk board. My kids say that is what the teachers used in the “olden days”. When I think of the olden days I think of Little House on the Prairie, and so it goes.
It was my Freshman English teacher, Mrs. Nekola, who first introduced me to the true meaning of think and integrity. She said if we never remembered anything else from her class we were to always remember these words. Mrs. Nekola was the type of teacher that you listened to, so I wrote “think” and “integrity” at the top of the first page of my spiral notebook. It would come to be filled with notes on Beowulf and grammar exercises, but these words were the two most important things I would ever write that year. Continue reading

How Don Henley, Bain de Soleil and Agree Shampoo Saved My Summer

Boys-Of-Summer

 

The past few months I’ve thought a lot about the summers before I headed off to college. I didn’t have a care in the world as I sat on the beach at the water’s edge, allowing the cool ocean to run over my perfectly painted toes. Don Henley’s “The Boys of Summer” played in the background, making me dream of summer romances and moonlit nights.

It’s funny how a song or a smell can take you back to a moment in time that occurred so long ago. Don Henley, Bain de Sole, and Agree shampoo all bring me back to my summers by the shore. Lazy summer days and nights filled with parties under a gleaming moon, the popping sounds of cold beers being opened and the hopes of meeting a summer crush loomed in the air. The waves, crashing on the shore, provided the perfect background sound for those dreamy summer nights. I wish I had paid more attention to the beautiful moons that illuminated the beach and the soothing sounds of the surf, but that’s what getting older gives you…very different perspectives. Continue reading