Category: Family is not an F Word

No loved ones were harmed in the writing of these posts.

I Found the Holy Spirit (My Spirit) in a Toilet Bowl in Orlando, Florida

In the fall of last year, stuff started sucking significantly (I’m so good with alliteration!) around here in a whole new way. In fact, I pretty much stopped posting here biweekly, which was fun while it lasted, particularly those Adam Lambert “It Could Happen” posts. I stopped working on the book I’ve been writing. And then I stopped writing anything. At all. This is not like me. I Just Could Not put my fingers on the keyboard without feeling like they didn’t belong there. This is really not like me. At all. My fingers on the keyboard are usually a place of peace, centeredness, flow, and joy. Typically, every time I write, my fingertips on the keys feel almost as good as when I touched my babies’ faces for the first time.

Something shifted in me recently-ish. Really, it’s been shifting for a long time, and I’ve known it and even worked hard for many years at creating space for it. I just so happened to become particularly mindful of the significance of the shift when I recently had my head in a toilet. (More about that in a bit.) Although I find the ebb and flow of shifting is a force to observe and experience in and of itself, with the advent of the mindful-toilet-bowl shift, I began to feel my fingertips’ desire to touch my keyboard.

As Randy Pausch said, “We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.” I would add that even when it looks to us that we are dealt shitty cards, we are looking at them in a snapshot in time. We can’t see the bigger picture, and often forget there is one. We’re human. We have only our perceptions of the past, although when we rely on them in a healthy way, those perceptions may inform good choices. We do not control the future, although choices we make and actions we take today will affect it. The present moment is all that we have. So what will we do with it?

A couple of weeks ago my oldest daughter, son-in-law, and grandson came to visit me. We looked forward to this visit for months and made lots of plans. Along came The Unexpected and some of our plans went awry. There was some struggle and sadness too. It was amidst The Unexpected, struggle, and sadness that we kept finding acceptance, peace, joy, connection and love. Some of our struggles were with mighty issues, but none have ever beaten us before. Following is an example of a tiny one because this one isn’t so personal, but even when the struggles aren’t so small, we still seek to handle them just this way: We spent A Really Long Time at a local restaurant because the kitchen messed up our order. We enjoyed spending extra time together as a family. We enjoyed our server’s kindness and heavy Irish accent (in an Italian restaurant). Conversation and laughter flowed even as the food from the kitchen did not. As we waited and then ate, I simply marveled at the acceptance, peace, joy, connection, and love around the table.

The next week my youngest daughter and I went to visit my middle daughter in Florida. Temperatures were in the high 90s all week and the humidity made my hair look like this:

TaraxacumOfficinaleSeedWe had some challenges and struggles, and along came The Unexpected while we were there. One such challenge was a little gross (so the squeamish should click away now) and expensive. I spent $600 on three park hopper tickets to Universal Studios in Orlando, in particular so my youngest daughter could visit the Harry Potter theme parks. I didn’t even read all of the books or see the movies, so much was lost on me, but I was just happy to be along for the ride – until I rode the first ride. It was hot, humid, and also HOT and HUMID. Did I mention that it was hot and humid? And you know what? All the while that it was hot and humid and my hair looked like a dandelion seed head, I marveled at the acceptance, peace, joy, connection, and love that I was feeling. Without fully inquiring as to what we were about to ride, we boarded something that I imagined would be a tour through Hogwarts (like the Peter Pan ride at Disneyland). But no. It was not that. At all. It was a motion simulator from hell. It was all I could do to not barf on the nice lady next to me.

As soon as the ride ended, my daughters and I all ran for the restroom. It’s bad enough to have to vomit in a public restroom in a theme park in Orlando, but this one had automatic flushing toilets. Every time I moved my head, it would flush in my face. Puke. Flush. Puke. Flush. It’s fine. Go ahead and laugh because you know what? I did. Something else happened too.

As my head was in the toilet that was repeatedly flushing in my face, I was completely overcome with joyful feelings. I am not even making this up. My daughters were in other stalls doing the same thing, and although I did not wish for them to be puking, I was so profoundly happy to be with them in that incredible moment and place in time. I found that it was possible to experience unrelenting puking and joy simultaneously. It was awesome and I will never forget it.

We will wound and become wounded in this lifetime. There is no avoiding that as sentient beings. However, amidst the wounds and the wounding, we can find acceptance, peace, joy, connection, and love. We just have to look for it, although I don’t think it is necessary to puke in a public toilet in Orlando to find it. Dorothy Gale from Kansas probably had it almost right. She said, “If I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own backyard.” I think that we will find whatever it is that we are looking for within our own hearts.

What are you looking for?

Santa Baby*

bob.clock_Laura can tell you what nineteen to the power of nineteen is. She can tell you the difference between a tonic note and a dominant note. Laura can tell you what each planet in the solar system is made of, the names of every dinosaur and what they eat, and the number of every hotel room we’ve ever stayed in on any given vacation we’ve ever taken. The other day while riding her scooter, she explained to me why she likes the winter solstice (her birthday is in winter), the summer solstice (a longer day in which to ride her scooter), and equinox (because she gets just as much sleep as she gets energy).

Not a fact that goes into Laura’s brain ever gets lost, but then every now and again she says or does something to remind me that while my ability to understand her math homework declines by the week, tucked around that brain of hers is the innocence and wonder of a sweet, little girl. The following conversation took place last weekend:

Laura: “Mommy, on Christmas Eve, Daddy offered me a choice of three presents that I could give to you.”

Mommy: “Oh, he did?”

Laura: “Yes, he let me choose between a really cool clock, a Pirates of the Caribbean DVD, or surround-sound earbuds.”

Mommy: “Oh.”

Laura: “Yes. And, of course, you know that I picked the clock, which turned out to be a really good thing.”

Mommy: “It was a good thing, because I really like the clock.”

Laura: “It was also a good thing I picked the clock because the next morning Santa brought you the DVD and earbuds. If I’d have picked one of those, then you would have gotten two of them.”

*Originally posted at Blog This Mom!® on February 3, 2007; Laura was seven.


At Preschool

This week my oldest child turns thirty. More than one person has said, “Yikes!” or asked if that makes me feel old. Thinking about my daughter turning thirty gives me joy. For thirty years it has been my honor to have this incredible human being in my life. I wouldn’t trade one day of it to be younger.

My birthday girl was a beautiful baby, even on the day she was born with a little cone head. She was strong and smart from the get-go. It’s a good thing too because I had no idea what I was doing as a mother at the age of twenty-four, that’s why. I didn’t make all of my parenting mistakes with her, but she was the beta tester of some of my more lame strategies and decisions. Sorry, honey.

She uttered her first complete sentence when she was fourteen months old.  Her Jack-in-the-Box did not pop up, and she exclaimed with a self-assured voice, “I’ll fick it!” I now know that was my first clue that she would someday do just that in the world. My beautiful, strong, and smart girl grew up to be a therapist. She gives the people she works with in her practice tools that they can use to “fick” it.

Happy Birthday to my baby.

Master's Degree in Counseling Psychology Graduation
Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology

Use The Force, Cheri

Because I am a complete idiot love my children, I agreed to do the Star Wars Half Marathon at Disneyland with my two oldest daughters in January of 2015.  This means that I have six months to write my own eulogy train. In fact, Disney even offers free training programs and nutrition tips on the runDisney website to prepare runners for crossing over to the other side the finish line.  Sure, I could use six months of training and good nutrition because I often have to stop for a rest period when I walk from the couch to the fridge, that’s why.  However, I have come up with a program of my own that I think you will agree is far superior to the one Disney suggests because as long as I can get from the couch to the fridge I’m happy, that’s why.

“I suggest a new strategy, Artoo: Let the Wookiee win.” ~C3PO

This is my grandson’s ride.  My grandson will totally let me borrow his ride because he loves me.  But if my grandson’s parents are all, “No, you can’t borrow the stroller because it has a 70 lb. weight limit warranty blah blah blah, then I will totally boost this ride when they are busy changing a diaper or watching Top Gear with him.

BOB Revolution Single
This is my grandson’s ride.

Assuming that I do not get arrested for grand theft stroller, I will need to pimp my ride.  The first thing I will do is install one of these bad boys to keep me cool during the race.

stroller fan
Who wants a ride with no A/C? Not me, that’s who.

Because the half marathon takes place around Disneyland, I will obviously need a snack tray.

stroller snack tray
This tray is not for sippy cups and Cheerios, yo.

The snack tray is for my Gibson Girl hot fudge sundae.  Obviously.

gibson girl sundae
As if.

Race Day Strategy:

1.  Strap myself into the stroller.

2.  Attach fan.

3.  Install snack tray.

4.  Obtain Gibson Girl hot fudge sundae.

5.  Have my two oldest daughters take turns pushing me in the stroller for 13.1 miles to collect my Star Wars Half Marathon Commemorative Finisher Medal at the end.

I don’t think number five is too much to ask because in order for my children to even be there to push me 13.1 miles in a stroller for the Star Wars Half Marathon, I had to go through childbirth, diapers, potty training, carpools, PTA meetings, drivers training, prom dress shopping, college tuition, and two weddings, that’s why.

“The chances of survival are 725 to 1.” ~R2D2

If you have a better training program and race day strategy, I’m all ears.

Are You There Buddha? It’s Me, Cheri

I have been reading koans to Laura from various books such as A Pebble for Your Pocket by Thich Nhat Hahn, hoping to prompt deeper thinking and perhaps open meaningful discussions.

Last week:

Me (reading aloud from the end of a parable): “Anywhere you see love and understanding, there is the Buddha. Anyone can be a Buddha. A Buddha is a person who is aware of what is going on inside and around him or her and has a lot of understanding and compassion.”

Laura: “Mom, look! When I scratch a certain place on my butt, my leg moves up and down! Hehehehehe!”

This morning:

Me (reading aloud from the end of another parable): “The Buddha is inside of you. If you look deeply, your Buddha will be revealed. In fact, all the wonderful things you are looking for — happiness, peace, and joy — can be found inside of you. You do not need to look anywhere else.”

Laura: “My Buddha wants to know if I can bake cookies today.”

I’m starting to understand why Buddha is always smiling. Also, I can’t help but wonder if he’s laughing at me.


The Ids Have It

During our morning walk today, Laura told me that a former classmate of hers told her an inappropriate joke.

Me: “What did she tell you?”

Laura: “I’ve done my best to forget it.”

Me: “You don’t remember anything?”

Laura: “It was so gross that the gates of my superego opened and I sent it to my id so that my ego wouldn’t have to deal with it.”

Me: “Okay then, I guess we must leave it at that.”

Laura: “Unless it comes up in my dreams. So far, it hasn’t.”

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