11238957_10206800220661431_6404405297947927523_o

There comes a point in time where Faith just becomes a part of you. When you finally let go of it all, worries and problems and anger and resentment…and peace washes over you, as if diving into a wave. No outside noise, eyes closed, total weightlessness. And when you break through to the surface the sun warms your face and you plant your feet on the sandy bottom below…ready to dive again.

Advertisements

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

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

In Search of Numen Lumen

Elon 2
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.
And a lot of times all you can do is hope for the best and pray. Pray that this too shall pass and all will work out for the common good and a million other clichés that I can’t even think of right now. Some rally to help and others are just too busy, too tired and too mired down in their own “stuff” that they just don’t realize that their strength is needed. And that’s the way life is.

It’s exhausting really, this whole getting older thing. How is it possible I went from eighteen to forty in the blink of an eye? A wife, a mother, three kids and a frog. A mortgage, tuition, bills, work. Those days under the Carolina blue skies seem so far away and lately I find myself longing for them. I feel a little guilty for wishing myself away from a man and a family that I love so dearly. But I think that we tend to feel like we are a little invisible at this stage in the game, that our value is measured in our ability to do laundry and make lunches and put together projects rather than what (and who) we truly are.

I had quite the blow out with my nine-year-old son the other day; it was about something silly, like picking up his belt off the floor. He told me that I was the worst in the world, that I was no fun and all I did was tell him what to do. Well, instead of walking away I turned right around and proceeded to tell him that I was fun and cool and that people (outside of this house) really like me. I told him I was talented and was capable of doing things besides laundry and dishes. Had I taken a moment to breathe, I would have realized I lost him at “fun” and “cool”. Right then I looked pretty crazy, even to myself.

But in that moment I longed to be the person that I was, the person that I felt that I had lost and could only get back by returning to my beloved college days, sheltered by the oaks and my memories.

This place and these days were filled with light and laughter and, though we didn’t know it then, peace. Funny that our university motto was “Numen Lumen.” At the time I had no clue what it meant but thought it was funny to say, even funnier after a few Busch Lights. After looking up the meaning I was a bit in awe of what I found.

“Numen Lumen- If you were an ancient Roman, and you went up a hill or down into a hollow, and you felt something holy or scary or beautiful, you would say that you were sensing the “numen” of the place. So “numen” means some sort of indwelling of God. “Numen lumen” is saying that the Divine is the guiding Light.”

What I took from this explanation was that I was a part of heaven, for just a little while. Now some are going to say that its blasphemy to say that college life and all that goes with it is far from holy and they may be right. But for me and many of my friends it was where we really began. It was light and love and peace. It was where we figured out how to show up for each other. Yes, we were carefree and a little reckless at times but we were also figuring out how to get out into the world and fend for ourselves while watching out for each other.

Now, no one who went to Elon College (now Elon University) is going to liken it to the big bad world but it was our first experience away from the shelter of our home and our parents. It was where we learned that family is not only defined by blood.

The reality is, I cannot go back and when I try it’s never the same but I can still feel the beauty of that time. I still have moments when I long to return and sometimes I do. When the sky in Virginia turns Carolina blue and my kids catch me staring up for just a moment too long and ask “what are you doing?” I just smile and look at them and say “Numen Lumen.”

signature