9.30.17 Let Me Be Aware

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About ten or so years ago, I came across a poem that said everything I should say to my husband on a daily basis. I printed it out, and put it somewhere “safe” and then we moved and I lost it. All I remembered of it was a line … “Someday I shall wish … more than all the world, for your return.” And I remembered thinking that I never wanted to have that feeling, that relentless ache of NOT saying what I should have. 

Fast forward ten years, and miraculously, a friend gave me a stack of quotes as a gift. One of the quotes, as you might serendipitously guess, was the one I’d been searching and combing the internet for for all of these past years. I immediately looked it up, and this week, I was so very, very glad to have it, so I could read it to the man who not only has my heart, but has fiercely protected it since we met. 

Please share this video message, this poem, and this life with someone you hold just as dear. 

10.6.16 Even Trapped Farts in Tiny Cars

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Having taught for over ten years now, I’ve come to find that anything, and I mean anything can become a teachable moment.  I’m constantly finding connections to things and ways to integrate them into both my curriculum and my parenting, but I’ve found that God is no different, and he uses moments, unexpected and unconventional as they may be, to do the same for us.  There are hardly any “unusable” situations or scenarios that cannot bring us back to a sense of understanding the deeper connection to our lives as a whole.  Even, I would argue … trapped farts in tiny cars. 

This morning, as you might well imagine from my apt description … this was my scenario.  My children and I were on our way to school, as usual, and as usual we were stuck between unpredictable, chaotic traffic patterns that had us spending way too much close-time to one another in my Mini Cooper. As if there wasn’t already an edge in the air, as the minutes unforgivingly ticked by, categorizing our arrival time into “by-some-miracle-only,” standing, my son decides that he can no longer possibly hold in his gas, and passes it – loudly.  His sister, less than a foot away from him in the backseat, immediately shields herself from the inevitable, pungent onslaught about to overwhelm the five feet of squared space we share.  

“You did that on purpose!” she accused, shirt pulled up over her mouth in a makeshift gas mask. 

“I did not, I swear, I couldn’t hold it!” he defended, giggling like … well – a boy. 

“Yes you did,” she insisted, “and now you owe us a quarter.  It’s a family rule!” 

Really laughing now, he replied, “I didn’t mean to trap us in my fart, and now you’re making me laugh and I’m gonna have to fart again!” 

“Fifty cents!” she cried indignantly as another wave let loose.

Stuck with nothing but open windows of a slow-crawling car, and a full-blast vent that seemed to circulate more that eradicate, the day started with difficulty, to say the least.  In that moment there was really nothing to do but sit in it, and slowly wait for the air to clear, and the opportunity to keep inching forward. 

Though I didn’t realize it at the time, (possibly from oxygen deprivation) I really think that experience metaphorically paralleled the rest of my day.  There were unforeseen technology glitches,  attitude adjustments, and calendar conflicts to deal with.  Nothing was easy or error-free … and more than once I wondered if my brain was stuck on some pre-set slow motion setting.  There were tons of questions, emails, meetings, and expectations that, well – stunk to say the least!  I was stretched a little thinner on time and energy than I had.  But in it all, I caught myself laughing, realizing that just like in the car, there was nothing to do but sit in it, slowly wait for the air to clear, and find every opportunity to keep inching forward.  

So thank you God for autocorrect, for five more minutes, and drive through Starbucks.  Thank you for dishwashers that work, puppy kisses when I don’t deserve them, and scrambled egg dinners.  Thank you for functioning dysfunctional families and students who think I’m hilarious (whether I’m trying to be or not).  Thank you for phone calls from mothers, texts from brothers, and giving me a husband as exhausted as I am to live in this whirlwind with me. Thank you God, for little boys in tiny cars, fifty cents, in mason jars, and all the perspective they bring. 

Praying for your tomorrow, and frankly mine as well. Find a way to laugh through it. 

Much love, 

Elle

6/28/16 Don’t Fight Fair

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I always thought that the phrase “fight fair” was kind of stupid actually.  Instantly I think of the ridiculous pre-colonial “gentlemen’s war” rules of etiquette that dictated soldiers stand in rows and take turns firing.  As if anything could be more obtuse than standing before one another just waiting for a shot to come.  I much preferred Bruce Lee’s perspective, “Use only that which works, and take it from any place you can find it.”  The only problem with that mentality is – it works, and when it works, you can’t exactly take anything back. 

I don’t fight often, but when I do I wouldn’t say I nobly wait for a comment to come cutting my way.  I have a long memory and my wit compromises my words in magnetic negativity.  As Lev Grossman once wrote, “In a way, fighting was just like using magic. You said the words, and they altered the universe.  By merely speaking you could create damage and pain, cause tears to fall, drive people away, make yourself feel better, make your life worse.”  And at the end of it all … whatever it is I’m fighting for or about, let’s be honest – it is rarely for a noble cause. 

As painful as it is to admit, most of my arguments are without true merit or intention.  They are the aftermath of a crummy day, resulting in a radioactive bad mood that permeates everything within the vicinity of me.  My husband and I were recently discussing this, and though we are rarely upset with one another, we do tend to give one another the brunt of our “left-over” day.  I am sorry for this, and yet it is a reactive pattern that forms whenever something disgruntles to the point of “letting it out,” by “taking it out” on whoever is nearest – and he always is.   

Peter Wentz said, “The silence is the worst part of any fight, because it’s made up of all the things we wish we could say, if only we had the guts.”  Well, unfortunately, I have to disagree … because I think in these pointed comments I say too much.  I remember too much.  I call forth memories like armor and use them to dispel any logical repartee that might be sound. 

This week, our pastor spoke about the power of forgiveness, and reminded us that it is not only our words that argue, but our actions.  A roll of the eyes.  Shunning a hug.  Vacant responses. And I was convicted at just how unfair I fought after all.  Like I said before, I’m not much into arguing.  I’m not a pot-stirrer; I don’t enjoy battles, and yet even in the here and there, infrequent times, I succumb.  And in those moments my words are effectively lethal in killing a mood, or ruining an intention.

There are things to call forth justice to, but my petty disagreements are not one of them, and I need to find a way to settle myself into a pattern of silence when confronted with my own disagreeable mood.  Just like having an umbrella over my head won’t protect me from sideways rain … fights aren’t ever fair, not really, no matter what key phrases or memories I cover myself in.  So from now on, though I’ll be imperfect at it I’m sure, I will try to at least think a little more about what is really worth fighting for, and trying my humanly best to forgive the rest.  I guess it’s time to turn the battle inward, and follow the thoughts of Stephanie Lennox, “I’ve been fighting to be who I am all my life. What’s the point of being who I am, if I can’t have the person who was worth all the fighting for?”  

Don’t fight fair, fight for something.

Elle