Hi from paradise

Do you ever get a moment to catch your breath and find yourself asking, "What.... just happened"?  This year I took on several new projects.  Things reached a fever-pitch in the spring and left all of us with our heads spinning, feeling exhausted and a little bewildered.  I'm learning what a hard thing it is to be a mother to my children and my dreams at the same time.  But I firmly believe that my children deserve nothing less than a mother with dreams.  And what good are dreams if you don't go after them, even when you sometimes feel like you're in over your head?  Childhood is one big exercise in being in over your head, and I've learned something from watching my kids all these years.  When they find themselves in deep water, they learn how to swim, fast.

Another thing I've learned is that it's okay to take a moment to float on your back and catch your breath.  Preferably in Hawaii.  Because here you can wake up at 6:30 in the morning to the sound of roosters crowing, cartoons blaring and kids sprawled on the couches, already begging to go to the beach.  You can hide in your room until you feel ready to come out and engage.  You can engage for five minutes, and then leave for a long*, sweaty run.  After you come home with your head clear and your legs burning, you can head out to the beach or on a hike or some other adventure.  And in the afternoon you can eat a giant acai bowl for lunch, swim in the pool rather than take a shower, and take all the time you want to call a friend, or write an email, or pretend to not be watching the Disney channel show that's on TV.  You can eat an early** dinner, preferably seafood, preferably outside on the porch.  You can tell yourself that everyone, including you, is going to bed early, but not really mean it.  And then you can sleep under just a sheet, with the trade winds blowing through the open windows, until you wake up and do it all over again.

Tomorrow the girls and I are catching an early flight back to the mainland.  I have the feeling of dread I always get when I have to leave part of my family, but I know it will be good for the boys to have some time to themselves here.  They can go on crazy hard hikes, surf, eat whatever they want and sleep on the beach.  And I'm excited to have some special time with the girls, and to see the marsh and the Atlantic ocean, which I haven't seen in over two years.  And to eat shrimp and grits and spend time with my family and good friends.  

Mahalo, Hawaii, for being the perfect place to catch my breath.  

*My definition of a long run is 6 miles, and my definition of a short run is 5 miles.  I'm flexible that way.
**My definition of an early dinner is 5:30 and my definition of a late dinner is 6, because, again, flexible.


Thoughts for MLK

Every year I'm a little disappointed in myself for not marking the passage of Martin Luther King Day in a more meaningful way.  This year was no different, outwardly, although inwardly my thoughts have been lingering on the qualities of service, faith and courage that MLK personified.  I'm resolved to do better next year, but in the meantime I promised myself I would at least write this blog post, even if it's a few days late.

Last week I was helping in Marley's class when I read something that struck me with such force I had to write it down.  The teacher had just finished explaining to the kids that if not for Martin Luther King, Jr., their little class of white, brown and most shades in between might not have been able to exist.  My eyes were wandering around the room and landed on a poster with frayed edges hanging next to the black board.  It said:

The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy.  Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it.

Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth.

Through violence you murder the hater, but you do not murder hate.  In fact, violence merely increases hate.

Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.

Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

-Martin Luther King, Jr.

I've long felt that MLK was a prophet, and to me, these words feel like scripture.  I've been thinking about them, and praying for them to sink into my heart.  I think it's amazing that I, in all my privilege, and a world away in experience, can feel such resonance in his words, and feel like they apply so personally to my life.  

I'm not violent in my actions, but I can be violent with my words and thoughts.  And it never works, it just never does.  Light and love are the only things that work, whether your battle is with a toddler or a tyrant.  Not that I would ever compare my struggles to the struggles of those who fought for civil rights.  But the best way I know to honor their memory is to use the lessons they taught us, to become a more loving person, and to raising loving people.

I also thought this was fascinating, and, again, held such relevance to my life.

P.S.- When we lived in Atlanta we tried several times to tour the house on Auburn Avenue where MLK was born, but it was always sold out.  It's on my list of things to do before I die.


The 2nd of January

The sun has set on 2013.  I'm never really sad to see the old year go.  I love to put away my Christmas decorations and turn my thoughts forward to all the things I hope for in the year to come.  I have a feeling that 2014 has a lot in store for us.

I just sent an email to my friend in Brazil who's pregnant, and wanted my thoughts on Hypnobabies.  I opened up one of the mp3's that I listened to so religiously when I was pregnant with the girls.  I couldn't believe how, in an instant, I was back in that time.  I remembered the uncertainty, fear, excitement and hope I felt.  It may sound crazy, but there is such power in someone telling you that everything is going to be okay.  Even now, years later, I hear those cues and my heart rate slows, my mind relaxes, and my chin lifts just a little.  It gave me the energy to do a little catching up here...

 In early December I finished the training to become a CASA volunteer.  I took a six-week, thirty hour course that (hopefully), has prepared me to be an advocate for a foster child.  I looked through several files, picked a 16 year-old girl, and am beyond excited to meet her.  It's hard for me to find the words to describe what this experience has meant to me so far.  It's amazing to learn about the struggles and trauma that foster children face, and yet to see the efforts of the community and the court system to try to strengthen families and help children.  The system is nowhere near perfect, but there are some pretty incredible people and organizations behind it, and I'm excited to play my small part.

We had a wonderful trip to Oregon to see Eric's parents for Christmas.  We ate fondue, listened to stories from Grammie's youth and just enjoyed being together.  We also ran around Portland and the surrounding area a little bit.  There's something so magic about the Pacific Northwest.  I hadn't been back since we left Seattle, almost nine years ago.  I love the green, and the being able to sit in your car while someone pumps your gas for you.

I even got to spend some time with Cindy, my dear, dear friend from our North Carolina days, and her family.  She fed us amazing mexican food, ice cream and the healing power of just sitting and talking with someone who knows you really well and loves you anyway.  There's nothing like that in the world.

Now we're home.  I'm losing my mind a little bit with everyone home from school all day.  It'll be nice to get back into a routine in a few days.  But I'll miss sleeping in.  Time to revisit my annual resolution of going to bed earlier.  I could even start right now...