More Muddy Feet Please

Worry is a bully. Lately, due to life being what it is and my, sometimes sloppy but very earnest and intentional attempts to navigate it well, I became a prime target for worry’s antics. It latched onto my thinking and was holding on tight. It was as if all these little energy bites of worry that are floating around in the universe heard that I was a primed and ready to take them in and they made a beeline for this new cozy place to hang. I’ve been just vulnerable enough to welcome them in with, somewhat pried, open arms. This kind of worry is like a bad gym teacher. The kind that is too lazy to show you how to do things so they just sit back with their feet up. They blow their whistle, point out what you are doing wrong and continually holler at you to hustle. Over and over again. You soon begin believing that if you just run around like you are doing something, you may look just productive enough to quiet the old tired guy up. You are running and turning and breathing heavy and ducking from things flying at you and you just. can’t. keep. up. It’s not until you are deep into the season that you begin to realize that this coach is not only lazy but they have no freaking clue what they are doing. Like all bullies, they are struggling with a desperate attempt to hide their own insecurities and are only “puffing up” to create an illusion to mask the truth. The truth that they don’t really have a clue.

 

Worry hit the jack pot when it discovered motherhood. From Eve to us, we are a motley crew of a worry team. This nasty coach knows they can just drop one tiny little seed of a worry and we just eat that shit up. I think our greatest worry as mothers is that we are doing “it” wrong. At least, that is mine and the one of my nearest and dearest teammates. It is at the root of all our other worries. And because worry has us just where it wants us, and even though our intentions are to help one another get off this bad news bears team, we very often are fueled by our mama teammates. Our collective worry brings us to a whole other level.  Our group mentality gets funneled into the wrong direction and we are at worry’s mercy. Worry is in it’s glory. It has us tricked into thinking we need to keep up the hustle or our greatest nightmare will come true. We will discover we messed it up. We made the wrong choice. We took the wrong path. We missed that one sign that would have saved us all. And here’s the kicker, the one that keeps us up at night….our kids are going to pay the price for our messed-up-ness.

 

That obnoxious worry coach has had me running in all directions for a while now.  I began buying into the false reality of busy=productive. And let me just say, when I refer to running, I am not only talking about physically running from one thing to the next (which I have totally nailed btw) I am also referring to mental marathons. The kind that sneak up, blow the whistle and yell “GO!” just at that moment when you finally you think you are going to enter into some sort of resting state. The kind that steal your sleep and take from you whatever zen like vibe you have worked so hard to find.

 

Honestly, I am not sure which race is more exhausting.

 

So, after what was a long ass time of worry, I had a fleeting moment of recognizing the lies that worry had been feeding me. I was deep into this worry game. I was tired and I wanted to stop playing.

 

Feeling inspired by nothing more than a desperate need for change, I went to bed on one particular Saturday night very pleased with myself. I had just made the profound decision that the next morning we would give the worry bully and little push back. I had a plan.

 

For starters, I would call a time out in the game of being/looking busy. Take that worry.  I would make sure that instead of making everyone rise early, AGAIN, to get up and out the door, we’d enjoy the luxury of sleeping in a little late. We would play hooky from church, and… we would go totally outside our normal busy running around routine. We, my friends, were going to go for a hike! Let it be known, we are not a hiking sort of family. Being in the beautiful hills of upstate NY, we happen to live in a place that would make it very easy to be such a family. However, our Long Island roots hold strong. Our “hike” is more of a long walk along a paved sidewalk. This is exactly why I was particularly psyched for this outdoorsy plan. We needed to shake things up and this felt just adventurous enough.

 

My intention was to wait until the sun stirred us and then I’d announce my exciting surprise. Of course, my three girls would be thrilled about this. I had visions of them looking at me with sleepy smiley faces followed by a giddy dancing, celebratory squeal of some sort.  After the dancing with delight we’d all get dressed in all our rugged and oh so cool LL Bean-ish gear (not quite sure where we were going to find these). I would then up my cool mom factor by announcing that we’d first be stopping at our beloved local coffee shop for some yumminess on the way. A bonus that would bring more cheers and giggles and goodness. We’d take our delicious treats and venture on into those “fairy tale” like woods with full bellies, happy faces, and a bit of warm hand holdin’ lovin’.

 

Not so much. I was about to be reminded that, contrary to what worry has had me buying into, I am not able to plan, organize, or control my way to feeling good.

 

Instead, I woke up to my youngest, who had snuck into my bed the middle of the night like she has been doing for the last 6 years of her life. This would have never happened with my older two. I was a “everyone in their own bed to avoid future weird issues” drill sergeant mommy. If they crawled into my bed, I immediately shot up like it was my job and put those little rouge babies back in their own beds. No exceptions.

 

 

I now know that all kids end up with some sort of weird issues and it only adds to their charm.   So, with this third kid of mine… I’m all about exceptions. I like to think this has more to do with me learning how to chill out than it does with the fact that she totally owns me. She really is so stinkin’ cute. She has this way of curling up into warm snuggles next to me. When she is in my bed I get to wake up to sweet kisses on the cheek and a raspy-voiced, “Morning mommy”. Seriously, who am I kidding? It’s the best. Sucker or not, I am not ready to give it up.

 

Anyway, Miss Thing had a restless sleep and this meant that I spent the night vacillating between rib jabs and having my hair rolled on (which is it’s own kind of torture). When she woke up I was clearly still in the need of some shut-eye if I had any sort of hope of being the cool mom I had gotten into bed dreaming about. Miss Thing was whining at a level that 6:30am (on the Sunday of Spring Day light savings!) just cannot handle. Not cool. Turns out her nose was runny and she couldn’t sleep and can’t I pleaassssseee go downstairs with her???  All to which I reacted with a burying my head a grunt.

 

Just as I was about to calmly and gently (whatever) explain to her that mommy needed to keep her eyes closed for at least another hour before she could actually mommy (mommy being a verb)  in the proper way, my oldest ran into my room. She blew past me and my little whiner and ran straight into our bathroom.  She then proceeded to puke her guts up. Oh what a sound for the early morning hours. Lovely indeed.

 

It wasn’t very long before the middle kid (whose high energy, smart ass personality requires more sleep then our whole house combined it we all don’t want to pay the price) was walking around scratching her head wondering (loudly) why everyone was up in the dark. She was not pleased.

 

My dreams of the ideal outdoorsy, out of our norm, free from worry family Sunday morning exploded before my eyes. It wasn’t long before I was doing some whining myself and internally screaming things like “Oh this is just perfect!.

 

All my mom guilt and worrying and blah blah blah was coming to a lovely kicking and screaming temper tantrum-ed bust of a morning.

 

This temper tantrum lasted a decent amount of time. Although I’d like to say that I shielded my innocent, and let us not forget ill, children from my bratty kicking and screaming about having to adult up and deal, they did, unfortunately, catch more than a glimpse. It came out in my quick to react remarks, my way too slow to surface smile, and my insistence that I needed to run out to get a coffee. My entitled butt must have said a thousand times that I was going to run out for a coffee. I said this while I fed the dog, while I did dishes, while I poured the advil, while I made a breakfast, while I folded laundry. I was obsessed.

 

Just as a quick disclaimer, I am usually a pretty kick ass mom when it comes to my kids not feeling well. I can hold hair back, kiss foreheads, rub bellies, administer hidden in yummy things meds, snuggle on couches, and nurse my kids with love like nobody’s business. Yet today, I was totally tapped.

 

It didn’t take long for my pleasantries to spread. A crabby Negative Nancy attitude can spread like wild fire if not kept in check. And I was not keeping anything in check. Like I said earlier, I was in overtime with worry lately. I was tired. My dreams of frolicking in the fairy-like forest were really my last attempt at any sort of check being kept. I was done.

 

I finally got some decent, coffee run worthy, clothes on my body and was making moves toward the door for my life giving java. As I grabbed my keys, my youngest, runny nosed kid decided she wanted to come. Seems she was feeling a lot better. She wanted out of what was now a house of ATTITUDE. I flat out told her she had 3 mins to get dressed because this train was leaving stat. As I watched her adorable little ass run up the stairs, I took a deep breath and reminded myself that although I just lost what would most likely be my only alone moment of the day, her feeling better was, indeed, a good thing. Then I yelled up to her to hurry because there were only two mins left. Grateful for health is one thing but standing around waiting for that healthy kid this morning was just not going to happen.

 

My loud time warning jolted my extra cranky middle kid. She finally came to, realizing what day it was and suddenly couldn’t believe I would go get coffee without her. The nerve. She ran to throw clothes on too.

 

I turned to look at my oldest for sympathy (remember she was the one vomiting just an hour or so before and I was the one looking for sympathy…..just sayin’). Too preoccupied to even notice by pathetic attempt at victimhood, she was rummaging through the kitchen looking for something to eat. The same kid that was throwing up just a couple of hours prior. How the heck are you hungry? We realized this was not a virus, this was her allergy thing that comes a goes a couple of times a year. She too was feeling much better.

 

Yet again, this day was not shaping up to what I thought it would.

 

I told her to haul ass and get dressed. We were about to salvage something here.

 

She whined, of course. She is 13. But, she did it. They all did. About 20 mins after I had grabbed my keys and announced I was leaving – alone, we were all in the car –  together. Granted we were still whining but we were dressed, teeth brushed and out of the house. That was way more than I had bargained on at 6:30am (really 5:30) and this counted for something.

 

We stopped at that local beloved coffee shop of ours. It did not disappoint. In fact, we were all so tired that the delicious food in our bellies was the perfect thing to give us that incredibly needed does of chill. We even had a few giggles. I, for one, was gaining new hope. This day had something to show me after all. I just needed to take that full belly breath to acknowledge this.

 

So with my curiosity spiked for a different kind of adventure we set off. All of us still somewhat cranky, and all decked out in clothes that showed how incredibly inexperienced we were. We got our map. Although none of us were very good at reading this map, it proved to be a fabulous security blanket. We were told that all the paths were well marked and this was all the assurance we needed.

 

Somewhere between the coffee shop and the beginning of that path my two younger kiddos became gung ho. The teen was still hesitant. And when I say hesitant I mean eye rolling, complaining, and loud sighing. Yet, I was un-phased by her attempts to derail what was slowly becoming a pretty kick ass journey ahead of us.

 

How do you like them apples Coach Worry?

 

SMXLL

 

We entered in.

 

First impressions? Muddy. It was muddy as all hell. We moved through the “Ewwwww this is so gross, please let’s turn back” to “Oh my goodness, mom will this come off my sneakers?!” and swiftly into full on giggles about this messy muck we were in.

 

Miss Thing, the youngest, just plowed on in. Screw the mud was here philosophy. She went straight through it. Mud be damned.

 

The middle bugger held onto me for dear life. As long as I was holding her hand, she was willing to move forward with little push back. With each mud puddle we crossed together the less she saw the mud and the more her willingness to look up at what was around her grew. This was good because by the time we had moved passed the mud shock, we looked up to find we were deep into a tall, wide, buzzing with light, magical woods.

 

This was more than any of us bargained for.

LXLMS

 

 

That moaning and groaning teen? She was a bit ahead of us on the path. It was a beautiful view of my firstborn. As she climbed over the massive gnarly roots of these trees, as she lifted her head all way back to pause and look up at the sun peeking through, as she bent down to marvel at the mushrooms growing on old stumps, as she occasionally looked back to make sure weren’t missing it….she was lost in all the forest glory. She had gone from dragging her feet with apprehension to leading us through our personal “Once Upon a Time”.

 

 

 

It wasn’t all unicorns and rainbows. Actually, as we hiked through the next couple of hours of forest, they all took turns flip-flopping from hating it to loving it. We got lost a few times. That map of ours and those well marked trees were just not enough for this crew. We’d go from finding this adventurous and fun to wondering if we’d need to find a shelter for the night (because we are all just that dramatic) and not all at the same time. Usually only one or two panicking with the others deciding they were sure of themselves on which direction would lead us home. Then we’d switch out. There were only a few fleeting moments when we all were all on the same page at the same time.

 

SMXLL

 

Yet, this is the life we lead.

 

We did make it. We left those woods dirty, tired, and grateful to see our car. We were also feeling something hard to put into words. Turns out we didn’t skip church this Sunday. THIS was our church.

 

 

What I heard and felt in the midst of those trees was so very personally timed and yet a reminder I will take with me for quite a long time.

 

Here’s what I got…..

 

To begin, contrary to what worry has been yelling from the sidelines of my life, this gig can NOT be controlled. Trying to run my life, and the lives of my people, just never works. Trying to only leads to disappointment, anxiety, and entitled whining. It leads to a forfeit and I, for one, am not about to throw in the towel.

 

I walked into this journey of motherhood thinking I had to KNOW. I had figure things out. I had to follow a map and stick to the marked path. Yet, as I’ve walked deep into the woods of being a parent, I have come across my fair share of mud. I have lost the markings and lately I have worried that if I didn’t take the “right” path, my kids would be lost. Because of me.

 

Then there are my girls. Miss Thing who isn’t afraid to get dirty and jump into the beautiful (and giggly) mess. My middle bugger who never fails to remind me how far a little love and laughter can take you. My teen, who can be so strong willed and questioning and yet still allow herself to enter into the magical corners of awe that life holds.

 

Turns out, my little ladies are all my little gurus.

 

We are ok.

We are all more than ok.

We are temperamental and we are full of feelings.

We are quick to whine and we are quick to laugh.

We all take turns needing a extra push to move forward and a reminder to look up.

Lucky enough, we also all take turns leading by faith and awe.

We drive each other nuts but we make a hellova great team.

 

Oh worry, I joined this team of mothers unprepared for the role you had here. In my desire to be the best mom I can be, I have given you way too much authority over me. It was really never yours to take. I am taking that back now. I am not firing you. I see your potential and the awareness you are so willing to share. I only ask for you to take a step back. Have a seat on the sidelines. Watch and you will see what Love and faith can do. Those insecurities of yours will pale in comparison. 

 

And P.S – I am taking your annoying ass whistle away. That hustle you required of me? I’m over it. 

 

Life is muddy. It’s due to all that darn life giving rain it insists on pouring down now and then. We know how it works. Clouds cover, it gets dark, it gets messy. But it eventually stops. The sun can’t help itself. It keeps shining the whole damn time. The light peaks through and those muddy, nourished, paths in front of us dare us to follow that sloppy muck in whatever direction we feel called to. All leading home.

 

All you my fellow worry teammates, Let’s take ourselves out of the game. Let’s give ourselves a moment to find a new path.  Let’s get our sneakers dirty.  Let’s hold on tight to those we love and trust along the way. Let’s remind one another to look up and breathe this breathtaking journey in.

 

And to you Coach Worry, let US lead YOU by our faith and our awe. We got you. 

 

Here’s to muddy feet.

 

 

 

 

 

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Forty Feels Like Sacred Ground

I can’t sleep. Total night before Christmas eager energy.  Anticipation making me antsy.

 

But, being that I am no longer a little girl waiting on Santa, the overwhelm is overriding the giddy.

 

Tonight is the last night of my thirties. Tomorrow I turn the big 4-0. I will wake up in a new decade.

 

Today my mom asked me the same question she used to ask me around my birthday when I was little. “How does it feel? Do you feel a year older?”

 

When answering this as a kid, I remember literally checking in with myself. Like a for real body scan check to see if I felt the difference. Did I physically feel a whole year older?

 

When my mom asked today, I quickly replied saying I was over it. That I had been thinking about it consistently for the past year so I felt like I had already processed this crap and tomorrow was going to be just another day. No big deal. Forty schmorty. Whatever.

 

But I can’t sleep.

 

As I am laying here with eyes open in a dark quiet house, taking in the significance of it all, I realize…… How do I really feel? I never did the body scan check in.

 

I have been so overzealous-ly and inappropriately concerned with what forty was going to look like, that I never really sat with how it was going to or how it currently feels.

 

So here goes. The check in.

 

It feels weird. New and definitely not “no big deal”. I am mixed with feelings of letting go of expectations and allowing my feet to stand firmly planted in what is.

 

When I pictured myself turning forty I, being very consistent with my last 39 years, focused first on my body. I saw someone who looked 29  with the abs and ass of a 17 year old, a marathon runner, a meditation guru, and a yogi phenomenon.

 

To be fair, I also loved the idea of a wealthy as hell, powerful working women with a career that not only fulfills me, pays me in boatloads of cash, and allows me be what looks like a stay at home mom because I never miss anything  but also a globe trotting bad ass.

 

Bottom line, I wanted it to look good.

 

Not a surprise. I have always been a “Look Gooder”.  Everything else took a back seat to your opinion of me.

 

Then in rolls this forty business and all the build up it brings with it.

 

Here’s the deal, my late thirties were a bitch. They have kicked my butt. They have been full of beginnings…. again and again, questions upon questions, and surrender.

 

Surrender is a gutsy, gritty game. Not the skies opening while singing angels descended to lead the way for me sort of thing I once believed. Surrender ain’t pretty. I have kicked and screamed and dragged my feet through this process of letting go.

 

I have been shedding layers and learning how to take the energy I always spent on all my “look goodding” and pour it into the good stuff of being a messy, complicated, loved, and evolving human. Dropping the drama and picking up the truth. Unclenching my white knuckled fists that clung to my idea of perfection so that I could hold onto the fullness of all that is in front of me.

 

This had to start where it all began for me, where it has always been…..my body.

 

My body has forever been my symbol of sanity. As long as I was thin, I had it together. At least that was what I wanted you to think. The opposite of thin was a suffocating fear that has had me by the throat. All of life came second to my body and eating disorder.

 

I have hit bottoms. Falling down, and quickly picking myself up so you wouldn’t see that I fell was the norm.

 

Then something happened the past few years. I fell down and didn’t bounce back. I chose to stay down a bit. What would happen if I didn’t swallow the sad and run off the anxious? I was so so tired. No matter how scared I was of what you might thinking, I just didn’t have the energy to bounce back.

 

I decided to act as if. Act as if I was cool with my body. Like I was totally fine with what I ate and how I moved. A real “I got this, whatever dude” take on my body. Basically, I went rogue on myself.

 

I consciously let go of striving for a form of what I viewed as worthy and I very slowly began to place my worth on something deeper. I did this knowing that my body may actually grow and……I did it anyway.  I was so. damn. tired. Perfection striving is exhausting work. My body needed some space to breathe. We needed to get to know one another on new grounds.

 

There is a lot to say about this but the craziest notion to come out of this last few years of my rebelling against my obsession is this…….thin is no longer my life goal.

 

And that changes everything.

 

My visions of the big 4-0 and the running, yoga-ing, and meditating are all still real. There may not be any marathons, instagram yoga poses or ashrams going on but there is a connection. A compassionate connection with myself.

 

This compassion was needed last night. I went shopping. I walked into the store excited to have some extra cash to buy myself something fun to where to my birthday celebration. I was in a great mood.

 

Then I started trying clothes on and…..I fell. I am not numbing myself today with starvation or exercise so the feelings are just right there, on call, ready to go on a moments notice. I could have sobbed or I could have broken the mirror. I am not used to seeing myself in this size body. It still feels foreign. I looked at myself in that stupid, way too small, horrendous lighting dressing room and I felt like someone just threw a heavy weight at my gut.

 

Emotions were obviously high. My throat was tight. But I had my two younger daughters with me who had no clue what my insides were doing. They were more interested in the dress I was trying on. The same one that felt was ripping my heart out. My girls were getting up from that little dressing room bench to come feel the dress, hug me, and tell me how beautiful I looked. They asked me to twirl and begged me to buy the dress.

 

My girls, they love me. They have no clue what size I am. They love me big, they see me as beautiful, and they believe I should twirl in every dress I put on. No matter what.

 

Surrender is not a one time deal. It is a practice. I need to take daily action to let go. Sometimes it freaking sucks. Sometimes I just feel fat. Forty years of practicing this ugly thought, not an easy habit to break. But then there are the days that I twirl with my girls. There are the days that I feel loved by the people I love and for a moment, I am size-less.

 

As I leave my thirties I feel….

 

Older and wiser. I feel it in my body.

Bigger. Not just in my jean size but in my guts. I am taking up more space in the world and it feels good.

Richer. My life has more value then I am just barely beginning to grasp.

Powerful. Truth has power.

Loved. Loving my people and allowing myself to be loved. It matters more then anything.

 

Forty is a big deal. Not because of what it does or doesn’t look like but because I am growing up.

 

I am kicking my shoes off and letting my feet get dusty as I walk this road. Life just blew the doors off of looking good and that can only mean things are about to get interesting.

 

 

Forty feels like sacred ground.

 

 

My Firecracker Self

Did you ever meet someone and feel an instant ….something? Maybe you’d call it chemistry. Maybe fate or God’s plan or karma. Whatever you call it, all you know is, there is that heart pumping, gut-stirring, wordless feeling that alerts you to pay attention. This is something or someONE, that you need to take in. Digest. And KNOW. This sort of unexplainable connection can leave you dizzy due to the sheer bliss it brings. It can also come and go faster then you can get your balance if you choose to shush your heart, quiet your gut, and follow the “outside of you“ standards we all seem to fall prey to now and then.

 

I once met someone like that. We were introduced, we shared a glorious adventure, and then we parted ways. The memory of our first meeting came up recently when I had a man, a very nice man, say something to me that brought the memory flooding back in fast forward. He, not thinking anything of it, told me he didn’t think there was an aggressive bone in my body. That I was too sweet.

 

What did he not know was that at that moment, I wanted to punch him in his teeth.

 

I thought about my brief, yet powerful, exchange with this “nice” man for days after. It obviously hit a nerve. One that apparently has been pulsing and waiting to pounce. As I questioned why, I remembered one possible reason.

 

As a little catholic school kid, I played every CYO sport that was offered. I was on the basketball, volleyball, and softball teams. However, if I am honest, the one and only reason I was even wearing that CYO uniform and on that court/field was because my friends were. I flat out refused to be left out.  I joined to hang out and that is all.  I never really loved it. I spent the majority of my time on any court or field praying, with earnest, that the ball stayed the hell away from me.

 

Please God, if you love me, please o please keep the ball over “there”. Or allow me to fall and sprain an ankle, have the skies open up and lightening strike or have the other team all be slammed with a virus and begin puking simultaneously….something. Anything. OR, if you think that is just too much to ask, by all means, shine your light down. Let the angles sing and give me the chutzpa to be someone else. Make me wow them. Help me want to want the ball. Or something. Whatever. Yeah. Nevermind. Just keep it away. That makes more sense. I defiantly DO NOT want the ball.

 

Although I was not what anyone would call a natural at any sport, I like to believe, that with different circumstances or different lessons learned, I could have been.  Maybe I could have run faster, thought quicker on my feet, reached higher, and even been more “aggressive”. I had it in me. I knew this. But I choose to stay small instead.

 

There was a particular game, early on in my sports career, that sticks out. I was about 9 or 10 years old and it was an away basketball game. I don’t recall the events leading up to this game. I am guessing they were pretty average being that they don’t stick out. I can safely assume I drove to the game with my parents and two younger sisters. I probably was looking forward to seeing my friends, possibly bickering with my sister in the car, and most likely having my mom put my hair in some sort of pony-tail. Or something like that. All normal and average. Yet this game was about to be anything but average for me. I don’t remember who, what, when or why. Yet I remember how it felt.

 

An answered prayer maybe? Or maybe the parent volunteer coach laid down one hell of an inspirational speech before that whistle blew. Maybe I just got sick and tired of the waiting in fear on the sidelines, always feeling like I was falling just short of myself. All I know is once I was put in the game, I actually entered the game for the first time. Ever.

 

It was as simple as making up my mind. I just plain ole decided to like it. I was going to love the game and love that ball. All of it. I was IN IT. I showed up. Simple as that.  I didn’t even think about the outcome. The score was a non-issue. I just played my heart out.

 

I remember it feeling way out of my comfort zone but also very coolly powerful. I was kind of awed by myself and I was totally digging the momentum. The more I entered in, the further I wanted to go. I was on fire. When I stole the first ball from the opposing 4th grade CYO playing little girl, nobody was more shocked than me. Was that me? How the hell did I do that? Those cheers, they were because I did something good? No way! …..And here is the kicker, it was almost, dare I say, easy?! Well, not easy so much as simple. Basically I became clear that all it really took was…..doing it.

 

It was as if I was introduced to a part of me that I hadn’t yet met. This awesome, full of zest, life loving, go for it, part of me. It was an instant connection. I fell for this part of me. I fell hard. I knew, without a doubt, that we were made for one another. And all I kept thinking was, Where have you been hiding all my life?!

 

I was on a roll. I became a fire-cracker in motion. That ball? It was my new best friend. I wanted it. I ran and reached and grabbed and held it close.  I claimed it.

 

Sure I was a little sloppy. There was a decent amount of pent up energy finding its way to the surface and it was practically tripping over itself as it stumbled it’s way out of my limbs. I may have bumped into a few girls. I may have jumped the gun and grabbed that gorgeous ball before the whistle blew. I may have been a little over zealous. I will admit that. But if it was anything at all, it was fun. Honestly, it was a full on blast. I was giddy with this new life force. I had passion and zest and chutzpa and go get it-ness flowing freely and oh so beautifully throughout all of me and it felt freaking fabulous. I was digging this new part of me, big time.

 

After the game I was walking to the car with my family feeling the jazzed vibes still tingling from my toes all the way up when I was slapped with a massive dose of the dreaded and killer of all things holy, “Who do you think you are?”.

 

A father of one of the other players from my very own team, let his opinion and comments fly just as freely as my chutzpa had been. His words were, “Wow, Rebecca. That was pretty aggressive. (Insert the facial expression of someone who just said witnessed something creepy or gross) Better remember honey, this is basketball NOT football.” (Followed by a very clear and patronizing eye roll and an ugly judgmental fake giggle)

 

That was all it took. Just like that, me and my firecracker self…. we broke up.

 

I mean, let’s face it. This relationship was so brand new. It was still a whirlwind romance at best. As fun as it may have been it was still undeniably awkward and unfamiliar. We didn’t have any groundwork laid. We were hanging by a thread. It only took one bumbling asshole adult to pull the magic carpet out from underneath my sweet little girl feet.

 

Staring out the window on that car ride home I basically told my little firecracker self that although she was amazing, it was over. That it was not her, it was me. That she’d be better laying low for awhile. Basically, don’t call me, I’ll call you. I let her believe it was just timing. Someday, someplace, we’d be magic together.

 

I spent years denying she even existed. Believing I lost the right to have her in my life. I allowed the opinions of that father, and the world outside of me, squash the very essence of who I was made to be. I did this so well, I believed it.

 

I am not claiming that this one particular jerk single handedly took away my fire-cracker self. Like I said, I did the breaking up. It was a choice. As a young girl I looked to the world outside of me to find what she so willingly ready to offer. I got lost. I grew up to believe aggressive, or just simply assertive girls were scary, intimidating, unpredictable and all sorts of other things that, basically, I decided were plain ole unattractive. I opted for the lay low, under the radar, in my own lane, stick to what I know, look pretty, talk quietly, smile through the pain, sweet, and agreeable.

 

My firecracker self loved me anyway. Time and time again she was the one pulling for me when, left on my own, I would have thrown in the towel. No matter how much I have pushed her down, pushed her away, and pushed her to breaking…..she still simply showed up. Again.  And again. Maybe quietly, maybe discreetly, maybe sideways…but she has always had my back. She is where I found my strength. I know I am strong. I walked through some serious life. I stood when I could have crumbled. I kept going when giving up was the easier softer way. I survived and even laughed along the way. So maybe I did this all quietly, taking what I was given, making the best of it and in a “looking sweet while doing” it sort of way but I DID IT and I AM HERE. I was never alone.

 

I don’t think I am alone now. I think there are women, just like me, all over the stinkin’ place with pulsing nerves of fire, ready to light up the sky. We have been taking care of, staying in our own lane, smiling through some way too heavy to carry stuff, and trying to look fabulous while doing it. I think we are smack in the middle of a massive holy smack upside the head as we as mothers/aunties/grandmothers/teachers/ mentors/friends look at our little girls and feel our firecracker self screaming to be heard, seen, and known.

 

With this realization of the years that I let pass by, I could totally feel sorry for myself. Why did you have to throw this part of yourself away so freely and so early on? Just imagine where you could have been today if you hadn’t.

 

All true. But there are also many more truths, both seen and unseen, that I cannot deny.

 

I recently had a discussion with my 12 year old nephew and 12 year old daughter. Both about to start their seventh grade year, both navigating new responsibilities such as having their very own phone, and both making dumb mistakes that you are supposed to make when you are 12. I let them know about some of my “mistakes”. Some that cost me dearly. Some that changed the course of my life. Some that I am still feeling the effects of and paying a price for. I let them know that it is so flippin’ clear to me that one of the reasons I needed to go through this stuff, was FOR them. I made some of these mistakes so that they didn’t have to. So that I could pass on my hard knock lessons and they would have freedom to make different, new mistakes. New lessons. Their worlds were just a bit more open and free now, because of my journey and, if they paid attention and listened, their very own journey would open up somebody else’s in the same way. We are all connected and it all matters.

 

In the midst of having this memory I happened to read a story about Jesus that rocked me. Divine timing flooring me. It has everything to do with the nice man calling me sweet, the memory of my little girl firecracker self that I banished, and the woman I am today struggling to know believe what God really wants for me.

 

It is from Mark 7:24-40. In this story a woman who came to Jesus asking him to help her because her daughter possessed by an evil spirit. Jesus replies in a way that I, at first, took as obnoxious. (And to be honest, I find that I am frequently – consciously or unconsciously – looking for ways to disprove the Love that Jesus was and is. Like if I do I’d be validated in some off beat way. When in fact, each and every time I discover that I am unable to disprove anything, I feel more solid in my soul than I could think possible) Anyway, Jesus says something like “Would you feed the dogs from the table before your own children?” Ouch! Rough, no? Was He really comparing her to a dog? However, looking deeper into the words that were used and taking into account interpretation and setting, we understand what he was actually saying was, “There is an order here. There is a lot to do, do you really expect me to stop in my tracks just because you say you need me?”

 

Still hard to swallow, I know. This is when my lay low, stay in my own lane self would have done a slow back up. I probably would have said something like, “Oh geeze. Your’re right. My bad. Go go go! Take care of them. Maybe if you, I don’t know, find some extra time maybe and it’s not too far out of your way or something, maybe you could possibley swing back around here. But no pressure. I mean, I get it. Go. And again, I’m sorry.”

 

But here is when the story gets really great. She comes back! That’s right. This woman challenged Jesus. Or better yet, she accepted His challenge. She, in her lowly little ole self, in front of a man she was being told was the King of Kings, the Savior… she came back at him. And not with resentment, or bitchiness or who do you think you are’ness. Not even with an ounce of aggression. No, it was pure and beautiful assertiveness. It was her firecracker self. She simply showed up. She was all of herself. She responded with a big ole, ”BUT….”

 

And with that, Jesus told her that with her reply, her daughter was saved. He has indeed called her to rise up and in a very grounded way, she rose up to meet Him there.

 

I like to think of Jesus as high fiving her. Saying, “Sister, YES! That was what I was going for. Some chutzpa baby. I knew you had it in you. I have big plans and good work for you to do. Go now. Use that bold, assertive, bad ass chomps I gave you to do good. I love you so lady. Now off you go. Go do some serious loving with that chutzpa!”

 

Ok, so it’s probably safe to say that Jesus didn’t say bad ass but, for whatever reason, I like thinking that it’s just a smidge possible.

 

Anyway…..

 

CYO sports are a thing of the past. I haven’t been on basketball court in years but I have never needed my firecracker self more than I do now. Life is begging me for it. And I can’t help but think, maybe God, himself, is calling us to join in the game. Our past stories have created a new bitter sweet freedom to be all of who we were created to be. No need to overthink and figure things out. Simply show up. And yeah, maybe it will be sloppy or clumsy or look less than attractive. Maybe we may even turn some people off with our bigness. But, c’mon now….there is work to be done. Games to be played. People to LOVE.

 

Let’s get off the sidelines my friends and let us enter in. Let’s run, reach, and be beautifully bold. Let’s play our hearts out.