Wednesday, January 22, 2020

What Happens When We Don't Stop to Notice

Today, my second oldest asked if I wanted to hear a composition she wrote today, and it honestly brought me to near tears, hearing the beauty she plucked out of the air, point and counter point, all over the course of three hours with a computer.   I sat memorized by what she merely considered the creation of the moment; for her a toss away of notes, for me, a glimpse into some of the depth she so often keeps veiled, at times a both and combination of entirely new, and achingly familiar.   She lamented that only half of the piece would be incorporated into a bigger work she's producing for graduate school after it finished, and went to show her creation to her siblings.   

I held onto the strands in my head to the best of my ability, because I want to be able to hear what she created, to hold it like we try to hold childhood in our hands, and can't.  What happens when were not looking? They grow up.  They surprise you with text message saying "Love you." They volunteer to serve.  They say yes when you thought for sure they would say no.   What they do when you're busy worrying about the next thing, is remind you to be in the moment, in this moment, and to trust that somehow, something epic is going on.  This past week, my son scored the go ahead basket.  His brother saw it, because I was at another game, watching his sister play.

I'd be lying if I didn't say I felt envious, of having missed that basket.  Still, there are important moments, like staying for a game where your kid doesn't get off the go ahead shot.  Those moments when there is no reason to cheer, and still, you show up and you cheer, they matter almost more, because the kid needs the cheers more.   Parenting is about being there in the long moments in between the epic and hoping your contributions, your spontaneous cheers both in the big and little times, somehow leave an impression.   Like water cupped in the hands, like childhood memories, like a made shot, it remained only as having been experienced, not as something I could keep. 

What would have happened if I hadn't stopped to notice, to listen?  I would have missed an epic shot of beauty.  What have I learned in parenting these people?  Be present. Be present. Be present. Everything else, can wait.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Over at the Register

The March for Life is next week.  I submitted a piece from my own personal history of writing that addresses some of the other vulnerable threatened by those who do not think human life is sacred in all of its stages, and that each person irrespective of physical, mental, moral or economic condition, is of infinite worth.    While I have more current stories from my father's battle with the same condition, this piece talking about my grandmother brings the point home rather nicely.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Over at W.I.N.E. Today

In my attempt to bridge out of my comfort zone, I'm writing for new places. Towards that end, I signed up to do a scripture reflection for four dates over the course of the year.  Here's my first entry:  My Honey-Do List for the Lord.

500 Plus Words

500 words a day. No excuses. 
Man I hate when I tell others what I need to constantly tell myself. Writing, like diets, like New Year's Resolutions, is a practice full of promise before you start. It teases with the dreams of somehow carving out a phrase that people love and hold from that point forward.
High school students know the reality of the work even if they don't comprehend the joy. It's work, and it's hard, and it involves details. To write when you're inspired is the same as to exercise when you feel up to it, it's a hobby, it's dabbling. It's dating with no intent of anything other than to pass the time.
Writing as a daily regimen, whether you feel like it or not, whether you have time for it or not, whether you have a plan for what to write or not, that's the stuff. That's what turns a wish into the beginnings of a reality. Everything before, everything that came after we started, was part of the process, but when you embrace writing as a part of breathing, as necessary as water, sun and air, that's when you cease to be a pretender, a dabbler, and become a writer.
You may never be published. You may never be famous. Your bank account may never rival J.K. Rowling. It might be that only your mother reads your stuff, and she edits your writing. However, if you write every day, if you persist, no matter how tired or annoyed or uninspired you feel as you put your fingers to the keyboard or pen to paper, you are a writer, and you are living what others only dream of being. 

I thought I'd end the essay there. It's tidy.
However, I still have two hundred and eighteen plus words left to write. (Sigh). Maybe I should edit my total down to 400 words...heh. Except I know, I'd know. So what else can I say about this profession, this obsession, this dream/addiction we have with words?
It creeps into everything. My purse is littered with snatches of conversations I hear, inspirations for future articles, and scenes I've scralled onto receipts from the drycleaner's and grocery store. The kids have learned if Mom is stressed to bring her her laptop. She'll get to typing, syphon everything out, and return to normal.
My husband sees me typing and knows, the house could be on fire. A snake could curl up in my lap, and  I'd not notice. It is a moment away from the world that somehow describes what is experienced in it, to be writing. Time falls away. Has it been fifteen to sixteen years? It has, that I've been carving out words. Some of my kids remember before this became the norm. I think I might have been boring.
So write and make yourself get to the count, even if the words themselves don't seem like much. The minimum keeps you from stopping, it keeps you from thinking, I don't have to push. The count is your weight resistance, and you're building strength even if you don't want to.
It's when we exercise beyond what is pleasant, we gain the greatest benefit. When we pray in the midst of dryness that our prayers are most efficacious, and when we love others long after the emotional component is the driving force of our motivations, that we reveal how much we love. So it is with writing. When we write outside of inspiration, that we reveal, both our love for this art, this craft, and our essence as professionals.
Keep writing. 500 tomorrow. There will be more to say. I promise.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Why This Blog Grew More Silent As We Grew More Busy

The danger of Mommy blogs, is the use of children as fodder for the story.  When they are infants and toddlers, this is not a problem. Their issues and problems and moments are cute and endearing, funny and crazy and a particular kind of wonderful that includes no small amount of parental servitude and surrender.   

Once they get older, one must pick and choose and parse the stories, not because one is hiding something, but because one is sheltering those one raises, allowing them to grow up with all the awkwardness that such a process entails.   Once the kids hit middle school, they're mostly off limits except for those moments that cut through the grades, for the events that reveal something more or wonderful or that require reflection and invite sharing. 

The world still needs moments of light and laughter and all of that, and I'll try to oblige.   Yesterday, my teen thought long boarding down the driveway as we scraped off the ice would be a good idea.  (I'm not sure why he thought this, but he thought this).  I fired off the following text.   

Wear a helmet. Love, Mom. 

I promised to blow up the phone with Mom phrases like Love you, love you, love you, during school. 

Today, he found his helmet.  Not sure if he'll wear it, but it's a start. 

Driving them crazy, keeping them safe and loving them all since 1993...

Tuesday, January 7, 2020


Every year, I use the Saint Generator and the word generator.  This year, what struck me was the word.  Silent. 

It is something missing from my heart, from my writing.  The breathing in and out that needs to take place to find yourself somewhere other than where you've been before, isn't there. It's not because I'm not trying.  It is because, I think my writing is holding its breath so to speak. 

My prayer life likewise suffers from a dryness.  It is indicative of too much talking on my part, and not enough listening.  Being at adoration, I know myself to be talking to God, not listening.  So when the word says, "Silent," I know it is the Holy Spirit telling me, be still and know I am here. 

This past week, I wrote a piece for WINE, Women in the New Evangelization, and the scripture given to me, involved the story of Samuel going to the temple and hearing himself called and going to Eli.  Eli finally realizes, God is speaking to Samuel and tells him to say, "Speak Lord, your servant is listening." 

The waiting in prayer is part of being willing to trust God.  Silent is the word to remind me, to let myself listen. 

I bring this up because I'm wondering as I write this, if I'm to put aside writing for a time or if it's more about how I should approach writing, with more reading, more silence before beginning.  It's something to consider, which if I'm honest, I've been too busy with all that life entails, to allow myself to consider.   I need to be silent to let myself consider. 

I received Saint Elizabeth of Hungary.  I'd found two others but lost their names and had to redo.  However, the third attempt left me with the Saint I first adopted, as my confirmation saint. It was like reconnecting with an old friend.  I'm hoping she'll help me learn to be silent enough to listen. 

Want a word for the year?  Go here.
Want a saint for the year?  Go here!

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

The raw coldness of the night didn't change, and the place still smelled. Their food was stale, a meager feast on that great long first night When into the world God Willed Himself to be born and experience all Not because He Hadn't, but so that we would know He knows, all that a life of free will involves. He would know hunger, He would know pain He would know death, and still, He would love us. The great question "Why?" would He allow Himself to suck in the cold air, or to taste the thin food? Why would He let himself go through growing up, being revealed, being betrayed? Why would He let Himself bother When we've shown ourselves to be so willing to hate? Because the warmth not found in the air at the feast He prepares every day Comes from nothing less than the infinite heart of God Who wants to break into our hearts and offers Himself willingly so that However we come to Know Him better as a babe, a rabbi, or on the cross We will long to call Him friend and reach for Him like the Lover He is

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