a million ways

There’s a million ways. An infinite number of moments to say yes–to breathe life into dreams. Sometimes I have to say no. Sometimes I can’t be fully present or give my all and I have to step back. But I’m hoping my yeses outweigh the no’s.

We’re camping right now. Out in the woods of Tennessee enjoying slightly cooler weather and being unplugged from life a little bit. Although I did manage to find Free People on sale, get decent coffee and internet along the way. But before all that happened we took our kids down to the lake to swim. They laughed and played and built sandcastles. As we were getting ready to walk back to the campsite Doug showed Matthew a frog. He fell in love with the thing and wanted to bring it with us. We didn’t have anything to put it in and since our campsite is near the other side of the lake, there are also tons of frogs over there. We could find another one.

My boy is sweet. He’s a gentle, kind-hearted soul. So he was going to let his frog go because he understood we didn’t really have a way to carry it and it was a long walk back, and we could find another. He felt sad but he understood as much as his little heart could. And something in me roared to life in that moment. I told him I’d carry this frog back to the campsite for him.

His whole face lit up. I had just given him the world. We talked about his frog on the long walk back. I helped him pick out a name (Fishlegs) and told him how his frog was a wily little one, finding the cracks in my fingers and pushing his nose through, trying to escape. I had entered his world. In a small way, I had given him a moment that showed him I cared about what mattered to him. I love my son. I take care of him. I wash his clothes. I feed him. I give him good things and make sure he’s safe. But I feel like it’s these moments where he feels seen and heard. It wasn’t hard to carry the frog—a little tricky and maybe a little gross—but it would have been so easy to explain it away. “There’s more back there…” “You’ll get another…” “It’s not a big deal, it’s just a frog…” 

But it wasn’t just a frog to him. And I feel like by saying yes I kept his child-like wonder alive a little longer. He gets to believe a little more that the world is actually a caring place that will meet his silly froggy dreams. 

And sometimes I have to say no because we don’t have time, or I’m tired, or it’s not feasible. But my best moments are when I say yes to the unorthodox, the times when I bend towards my children and lift up the things that are important to them—treasuring them as if they are my own. Those are the moments when my kids feel seen and heard, and where I have connected with them.

I say no a lot.

But I hope I say yes more–a million random yeses so that when they’re older they’ll know their dreams matter to me.

they’re just…

A few months ago I started seeing a nutritionist because I had some friends who had really powerful stories about how she changed their life. That’s not really what this post is about. My nutritionist encouraged me to stop wearing an underwire bra because they have been related to certain health risks. Since I’m married to the man that I am, I can’t just accept a claim without research. So I did some research and couldn’t really find an answer that fully supported either argument. This post isn’t about that either.

Rather this is about the first time I left the house without a bra and how I felt like I was participating in some sort of licentious behavior. I texted one my friends:

Going bra-less today and I feel like such a rebel. And not approved of by “conservative circles.” It’s weird. I’m embarrassed by my overt sexuality–like my unconformed breasts are scandalous and more sexual. What is wrong with society?!?!?

Pride and hatefulness, that’s what. Jesus was friends with lots of women and none of them wore bras!

It’s pretty awesome how quickly that puts everything into perspective.

I haven’t worn a traditional bra for months. At first it was really weird and I noticed it all the time. It felt uncomfortable having skin touch skin in an area where I’d never experienced it before. I felt bouncy in a way that felt naughty. But the more comfortable I’ve gotten with it, the less aware I am of it. And I don’t think anyone but me has really noticed.

And for me, one result of this bralessness is that I have been able to embrace a part of my body that used to bother me. They’re just breasts. They are tissues of fat that are created as a means of feeding another human being before that human can get food for themselves. They are not sexual in and of themselves. They just exist–like my elbow or my shoulder. Sure, I can make them sexual and draw attention to them and put them on display. But in and of themselves they are not more or less than any other part of my body.

I have found a freedom to just exist. I am more gracious to the softer parts of my body because I’m not ashamed by a part that has been with me since I was thirteen years old. I have accepted the whole of me as I am and not as I think I should be. This is me–I am playful, flirtatious, funny, and sexual only when I want to be–not because a part of my body somehow claims that just by existing. I am able to better love my friends and their unique and differently shaped bodies. I see beauty in them because their bodies are wondrous things. Some remind me of mother earth, soft in all the best places. Some remind me of warriors as they champion for others and fight battles that most of us are oblivious to. Some are dryads and earthy and bring peace where they walk. All are beautiful in very non-traditional ways. Their bodies are strong and healthy.

My body just is. It exists the way that God created it. It is strong and soft and a cacophony of hills and valleys. It is not tempting or seducing anyone. And it doesn’t have to answer to anyone. I can love it for what it is and what it has done.

another little love story

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Once upon a time I had a crush on this boy. It was the first time in my life I ever experienced attraction to the opposite sex. He was fun, flirtatious, and the way he hugged me put butterflies in my stomach. Whenever I was around him I felt exhilarated. Especially in those early months I remember our interactions with a crispness–the memories and experiences around are fuzzy and shadowed, dimmed with age. But his face shines out of the darkness. One memory in particular stands out sharply, and has become more tender with the years passing.

I was at church on a Sunday night. There was an event and normally scheduled activities had been cancelled. This boy was there. My heart fluttered and I stood near him, laughing and talking. I ran my fingers through my shoulder length hair and hoped I was everything to him that he was to me. He introduced me to his really tall best friend and I laughed and flirted. Over the next few months I fell more and more in love with this boy.

But fate intervened with a little help from my mom. She called his mom and asked this boy to stop calling me because she didn’t like the three year age gap for my 14 years. I was horrified and embarrassed. I think my mom was hoping I wouldn’t find out.

It was hard–this forbidden, unrequited love. But in it’s absence something else began to grow. The boy was still my friend but eventually he moved on and dated others. I hung out with him and his girlfriends and his really tall best friend–we were thrown together so much that on cold days this tall friend would give me his letter jacket to wear. We sat next to each other at movies. We would hold hands and chase each other around the roller skating rink. We skied together on youth group ski trips. He would drink a soda and then press the torn off tab into my hand and I would sneak them back to him later–promises to exchange kisses. And at some point the flirtation turned to something else.

He first gave me a coke bottle tab.

Five years later he gave me a ring.

17 months later he made a promise to love me forever.

Ten years later, he’s still keeping that promise.

He’s helping me become the best version of me. We have grown and sharpened each other. We’ve given each other the freedom to change from the kids we once were into the humans that we are still becoming. We have our flaws and our fights and sometimes he drives me bat-shit crazy, but in my best moments I remember his love and that he fights for me and with me. Today I remember and honor all that has come before–even the day we met when I was hopelessly in love with someone else.

 

review: crown of midnight

crown-of-midnight-by-sarah-j.-maas-e1375233987357I really enjoyed Throne of Glass and heard really good things about the sequel. Crown of Midnight did not disappoint. I feel like the author did a fantastic job of continuing the story she set up and expanding the world. The characters continue to grow and change as they face various obstacles. I love the relationships she develops between the characters. They are complex and moving and even though there is much love in the story not everything is perfect.

Caelana makes a lot of mistakes. She trusts the wrong people and it gets her into trouble. She does learn from her mistakes, but she’s different after the fact. She can’t go back and undo them and I really love that. Picking up the pieces isn’t easy and even once Caelana has grieved she has shifted. The author surprised me once all was revealed–it was something that had been building since book one and the author did a fantastic job leaving bread crumbs but it still surprised me.

I usually hate love triangles in stories because I want one boy and one girl–but this one was handled elegantly. It wasn’t drama for the sake of drama. Dorian and Chaol had been friends for years and wanted to protect each other–I love that Caelana didn’t really come between them and that they were both willing to give her up for the other. There was still tension, but when it mattered they fought together. I loved watching Caelana and Chaol’s relationship grow out of mutual respect. He empowers her and doesn’t hold her back, even as he works to protect her. I really hope there’s a happy ending for them…

There’s still a lot of questions that remain and I can’t wait to see how Sarah Maas weaves everything together in the next book.

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