Sunday, December 1, 2013

I threw away the ham today. And the turkey. The family went home. The house is filthy. The garage is overflowing with boxes that migrated from storage; they are marked ‘Christmas’. As I ventured into the garage to tackle the task ahead of me, I….went for a run. Nice one, Amy! Then I came home and sat at the computer, waiting for a thought to pop in my head of something I could search. I had no plan. I just felt like I needed some wit, or wisdom, or perhaps even a new drink recipe at this point. This is what silence does to you. It makes you think. It makes you reflect. I found what I was looking for and I thought I would share it with you. Some (many) of you won’t read through this. I actually know EXACTLY which one of you will read every word (Julie) and which of you won’t (Tommy). Ha. I actually have a couple friends whom if I ask if they got a text I sent, have said, “Yes, I got it, but didn’t read the whole thing yet”…it’s a TEXT!!! Anyways, if you read this I think it will be a nice way to start your holiday season. Mazel tov…Merry Christmas:

This is written by Hannah Brencher. I’ll provide a link to her blog at the end.

Thoughts: This world isn’t about you, and love still wins.
That’s it. Maybe that’s all.
The world revolves around none of us and reminding yourself of that on a daily basis feels a lot like freedom. And love wins. Over and over again. No matter how much we try to say that something else matters more than it, love still wins. We still want it most. She’s still the prom queen. She’s still the thing that keeps this broken world spinning. Somehow, somehow, she does.
I feel like I am drowning sometimes. Drowning in a place where everyone wants to size you up and call you worthy based on the platform you have or the “likes” you gather in. Drowning because the world only teaches me to fix myself instead of saying quietly into the softer parts of me, “You’re whole. You’re not missing a thing.”
We’re trained to believe it is about us though. Me & Me & Me.
The culture we live in right now is a cheap party host. She’s not feeding us right. She’s giving us plates and plates of marshmallows and chocolate chips and Twizzlers and all these goodies that feel good & right & sweet for about 5 minutes. And then we are hungry again. And we want something more. And we crave substance. But it’s just more and more garbage that never grows us stronger or makes us better or opens our eyes up to the fact that a lot of things we focus on are petty & stupid & not worth the time.
But if you look her in the eye, and if you ask her why she feeds us this, she will tell you straight, “You asked for this. This was what you asked for. This is what you choose to shovel into your mouths and I am just showing up with the platters.”
I can say the culture is a mess but I am still listening to it. I am still in the thick of it. I am still attending the party. On a daily basis, I am forgetting the people I could be calling “brother” because I want a latte in a red cup, and I want to be skinnier, and I want to meet someone, and I want my business to thrive, and I want my writing to be good. And you might have just passed me on the street and I didn’t look up. I am sorry but I didn’t look up to give you something you deserved this entire time. My attention. I’m trying to be better. It’s a daily kind of thing.
We say we want more than this. And yet we care so darn much about the latest gossip from celebrities who will never touch us, or know us, or feed us, or kiss us, or care to ask us how we are doing. And we are angry over trivial things. And we give up on one another too easily.
It’s like that old computer game. Minesweeper? Was that it? Where it was only just a matter of time before you clicked and caused an explosion. That’s the world we live in today. Setting one another off. Good ways. Bad ways. Irreparable ways. Damaging one another and walking away.  There’s something wrong with that. We should focus more on remedying that than on lip gloss, or party favors, or what we are hoping he brings through the door this holiday season.
We say we want to be better than this.
We want to be good humans. We want to master this “random acts of kindness” thing. Kindness should drive you insane. It should hurt you deep because it’s hard to love people constantly. It should make you want to grit your teeth. You should sign up for those kinds of feelings every, every day. Kindness shouldn’t be the thing we turn on and off like a lamp switch or check off a list when we’ve helped some elderly woman across the road. Kindness is just Love without makeup. It’s just the basics. It’s just the starting point. It’s not some cute little word that implies love letters and babies giggling. It’s absolutely everything in a world that is starving for more of it.
To think we should only sprinkle love upon the worthy & on the ones who cross our paths & when it is comfortable and convenient for us is weak thinking. Love is the kind of thing that screams in your face, “Plaster me everywhere. Smear me on everyone. Cake me thick in your conversations. Don’t stray. Let me push you to meet the neighbors I have placed absolutely everywhere for you.”
“Make me famous,” Love would say. “Make me absolutely famous.”
There is a reason you are sitting up at midnight, eyes red & puffy, watching videos of humans being good to one another. Watching proposals that show a kind of love that can be enviable and extreme. Bursting at the seams.
You want it too. No matter how many times we twist and morph that word into something that gets flung around and pushed out and falsified and changed for the sake of cheap commercialism, you want it. You want to believe it is still out there.
You want someone to show up for you. Man. Woman. Friend. Lover. We might all need to learn how to take care of that delicate thing better. So it doesn’t break so often. So we don’t devalue you with our careless human hands. You might need to change things. You might need to grow more. Know your weaknesses and resolve to be better. Get help. Tell someone. But don’t go another day thinking you can’t have it. Or that you can’t give it away.
I want that kind of love. The kind of love that is awkward and uncomfortable. And it makes something inside of you want to explode. And it isn’t always pretty but it promises to make you feel alive. I want it. In friendships. In family. In relationships. All of it.
I don’t want the followers. I don’t need a grand proposal. I don’t really want the marshmallows anymore either. I just want that feeling. The kind that makes the tiniest hairs on your forearms stand up because you never knew you could mean that much to someone else.
I just want to hear someone stand in the doorway, or the hallway, or the bookstore, or the street, and say, “You showed up. I didn’t think anyone was coming but you showed up.”
You showed up. I didn’t think anyone was coming but you showed up.
That would be enough for me.
Merry Christmas, friends. I am glad you showed up! 

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Goodbye Alice in Wonderland

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking, and I HATE when I do that. Mostly because this week is like ‘Milestone Mania’ in the Walton/Kelly household. Two sons will graduate 8th grade…one daughter is turning 16 and will be getting a new truck.. and one daughter is graduating high school ALL ON THE SAME WEEKEND!!!! I know, right??!!.. In the flood of graduation cards that we are receiving, we received a letter from Hannah’s 4th grade teacher. Within this letter were papers that Hannah filled out in the summer before 4th grade, to be mailed to her teacher so that he can ‘get to know’ each student. In her childlike handwriting she shares her personality traits and her life goals. As I read it I think, “who is this person?” as she is nothing like the person she was 8 years ago. The little girl who liked to read mysteries, now gets her information from an iPhone…the favorite trip to Sea World is now trumped by solo ‘girls trips’ to Mission Beach; the cheerleading as a favorite sport has changed to shopping; and her BFF Taylor doesn’t even live in AZ anymore. Life changes. They grow up before your eyes. One minute you are holding their hands as they walk into their new elementary school classroom, and the next you are hemming the graduation gown and practicing walking on grass in heels for the ceremony. So it got me thinking about that country song that says, “If I could write a letter to me”. The song opens with “If I could write a letter to me--And send it back in time to myself at 17”. The things that matter to you at one age, doesn’t matter to you at another age. You change. You grow. And no matter how a parent tries to slow down that process, it will happen. It is happening. So as I prepare to write Hannah her graduation letter, I can’t help but think about what I can tell her about life and the roads she is about to pave for herself. I’ve tried her whole life to make her a decent human being. I’ve witnessed her transformation from muddy knees to diva-ish behaviors. How can I give her life advice when I don’t really know what I want to be when and if I grow up? Besides, that portion of my parenting years are over. I’ve spent the last 17 years guiding her, teaching her, making decisions for her, and giving her a solid foundation to be her own unique self. I would like to tell her not to sweat the small stuff, but sometimes the small things seem so big when you’re going through them. I would like to tell her that many people work their butts off in college and NEVER even work at a job within their major. I need to tell her that many people don’t graduate college in 4 years and need more time as they discover new interests. That life is full of twists and turns. Steven Woodhull said, “You've got a lot of choices.  If getting out of bed in the morning is a chore and you're not smiling on a regular basis, try another choice”. I would like to tell her that there is more to college than studying and she should experience everything from sororities to football games to late nights out with roommates, because in the grown up world our lives aren’t really that exciting. I need to tell her to not be so hard on herself when she makes mistakes, and she will make mistakes. I need to tell her to take chances even if it means she can fail. I need to tell her to find a passion, whether it is a lifelong one or a temporary one. Whether it is sitting in a coffee shop for an hour alone or developing a personal skill, passion for ‘something’ is important. But more importantly I need her to find love, whether it is with a boyfriend, a best friend, a puppy, fish, or houseplant. It’s a big, big world out there and it sure as hell feels better when you have a soft place to land when it gets too much. But the best advice I can give her I know that she already accomplished: to be a good be kind to those around her. As her fourth grade teacher said about the person she was at 9 years old, “you have inner beauty”. Let it shine as bright as the sun… Oh, and play well with others. And like what you see when you look in the mirror, because I sure as hell like what I see when you look at me!!!! A favorite Alice in Wonderland conversation says:
“Would you tell me please which way to go from here”?
That depends a good deal on where you want to get to, said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where”, said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go”, said the Cat.
“So long as I get SOMEWHERE”, Alice added as an explanation.
“Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat, “if you only walk long enough.
I hope she enjoys the process of becoming an adult. As the song goes, “And oh you got so much going for you going right---But I know at 17 it's hard to see past Friday night”, so this is why I’ll spend my days thinking about the person she will become as she goes from my home and steps into the real world. And I hope that when it is all said and done, that she thinks “I need to call my mom”.

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