Letting Go Is Oh-So Hard To Do

Its been almost six months of processing some heavy stuff I never saw coming at me.  Cancer in my family, a job loss, a new job with more travel (read as: more time as a faux single parent), learning to daily outlast the antics of an almost threenager - you get the idea.  In the midst of it all, writing seemed pointless because well .... priorities.  And just when I felt like things were starting to improve and we could go back on cruise control - I got sideswiped.  

As a kid I remember being asked time and again if my dad was in the military because of how often we moved.  But he was just the world's most upward moving accountant in the late eighties/early nineties. But with each move seemingly came leaving someone behind I truly loved as we headed off to our new home in a car full of heartbreak.  

With move number one, I didn't speak for the 4 hour ride between the old and new house.  For the dramatic five year old that I was, that was a miracle in itself. My parent's have recounted more times than I can tell the story of when I finally broke my silence - an incredibly dramatic outburst of "you took me away from my Grama".  We were tight. I remember those tears like it was yesterday, not three decades ago.

With move number three, I left behind the closest friend from my whole childhood.  One last hug in a Taco Bell parking lot in small-town North Carolina on our last drive out of town. To this day I can't see a cinnamon twist without waxing bittersweet about that day. 

When I headed off to college, I was torn between choosing a campus full of high school friends or one that was a better choice for my career path. Thanks to the practical part of my personality, off I went to another state where I knew not a soul.  I cried like a baby for hours when my parents pulled away that August afternoon.  

Sure in each situation I eventually acclimated to my new normal and made new friends.  But it was never easy.  

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But today it's not me leaving.  It's my friend.  My mom friend. The one who has been by my side after I learned I was pregnant.  Who hugged, encouraged, and prayed with me when we thought we might loose our kiddo at the end of the first trimester.  Who surprised us & showed up with breakfast on a Saturday morning to help paint the nursery.  Whose kids feel like my own.  Who I dared to show my unorganized junk room at its worst.  Who has a listening ear for everything from theology to thoughts on the latest BigBoo Podcast.  Who would give her right arm to serve someone in need.  

Despite my seemingly constant prayers for a road to open up for her family to stay, God has a bigger plan. I've spent too much time the last few weeks selfishly thinking about myself.  You know - how she won't be here to pick blueberries next year, or watch fireworks in July, or attend birthday parties, or share coffee over Bible study. I've thought about me. 

But this week I started to think about things differently.  Sure I'm losing my closest friend to a few hundred miles.  But she's the one entering a stage of constant newness.  Of meeting new friends.  Of figuring out the best grocery store.  Of finding a new church home.  And she will. And I want her too.  Because the years ahead will be full of God ordained moments because she was willing to step away from all that she (& I) held dear.  

So all of this has got me starting to think back to my mom.  All those times we moved - she did too.  But I honestly never really thought about what she gave up each time. Now that I'm a mom, I feel like I can finally comprehend the weight of each move.  She had to pack a whole household.  Learn her way around a new town.  Support three kids in their own transitions.  And she left her friends too.  Mom friends are so important - and sometimes not the easiest to come by.  So hold on tight to the good ones, my friends.

And praise the good Lord for FaceTime & texting!  Keeping long-distance relationships strong is so much easier than they were decades ago for my own mom.  But it all still doesn't make today easier.  By the time she reads this I'll have given that one last hug (for now), waved the Denali and moving truck goodbye, and then certainly have filled a few buckets full of tears. 

Jaci - never did I expect this day to come but as thankful as I am for every memory I have that intertwined with you and your family, I'm pumped for the ones we have yet to make.  Even if they are in Florida!

Olympic Tear Jerkers - Can't Stop, Won't Stop

I'm not sure that anything could be timed more perfectly than the Olympics are right now.  Sure Brazil is the hot bed of all things Zika and has water with levels of E.Coli that would make any microbiologist cringe. And generally I'd prefer not to watch a stadium full of dancers with nary enough clothing during the opening ceremony.  But in the midst of the world going crazy, nightly name calling on the news, and a general lack of kindness across our country, I'm not sure anything has the potential to rally our country right now like the Olympics could.

Maybe I'm a glutton for punishment, but I've been on the lookout for athletes & stories that I know will force me to shed emotional tears.  I look forward to the surprise wins and the heart breaking sad podium moments of dreams lost.  

Cue the Olympic music (come on...you know you love it as much as Bob Costas).....

There's the inevitable gymnastics team destined for a Wheaties box.  Please ladies - no broken bones AKA Kerri Strug, though you would surely guarantee a spot in my memory if you did.

And then there's any relay on land or water - oh the transfers! The stress! My poor fingernails are already dreading those events.

I'm really excited to watch Michelle Carter, better known as the ShotDiva.  I love that she's kept at training and excelling despite the fact that she's *gasp* thirty.  Don't get me wrong - I love watching the teenagers in gymnastics and the college age runners.  But give me someone who has entered legit adulthood and still works hard with enough consistency to compete with those guys on the worlds biggest stage?  You, my friend, have my utmost admiration.  Here's where the tears come - her Dad was a shot putter too.  And you know NBC will inevevitaly pan to him cheering her on.  And the faucet will flow.  Shot put doesn't get a lot of screen time, but I've got my fingers crossed that we get more than just a glimpse of Michelle.  (PS - she runs camps for girls to teach strength, confidence, &  that beauty is more than just on the exterior.  My heart just loves this!).

We can't forget Michael Phelps - after all he's carrying the flag during the ceremony after all.  Sure he has the most Olympic medals of any American.  Sure he should give someone else a chance to win.  But then there's the redemption story. *Cue the tears*.  I never thought he would make it to Rio.  The last I remembered hearing from him was of multiple DUI's that were part of a sad spiral where he said he became suicidal.  But he was given a copy of "The Purpose Driven Life" by an athlete friend and he has said that God helped pull him out.  He went to behavioral rehab.  He started training again.  He got married and had a baby (well, his wife. Clearly.) But more than that, he reconciled with his Dad. This will be the first Olympics we may see his Dad in the stands.  And I can't wait.  It's such a great reminder that no relationship is too far gone to recover and that we all have self doubts - even those we see as super successful may not see themselves that way.  Here's a link to his story.

And then there's an Olympic first.  There is a team of refugees who are competing under the Olympic flag.  They are "nationless" for all practical purposes.  But the world hasn't forgotten them & I can not wait to watch them chase after their dreams, just like they would have for their countries of origin had the world unrest not have come to head when it did.  They are walking just before Brazil in the Parade of Countries & they very well will receive a standing ovation in my living room.  

Who & what are you watching?  You can count on me for some synchronized swimming & rhythmic gymnastics for good measure.  Is there a tear-jerking story you know is coming?  Because to be sure I want to set my DVR.  

America, let's take this chance to cheer on and celebrate our fellow countrymen.  No matter their age.  Their religion.  Their skin tone.  Their state.  We're all Americans & I can't wait to watch us show the world who is boss!

At The Crossroads of Cellulite & Childhood Dreams

You know what I don't love? Summer.  With it comes sunburns, excessive sweating, & clothes that expose more cellulite than I want to expose.  I've been on the countdown to Fall since May just pretending I could wish away the sun. This last week of temperatures busting at 100 degrees isn't exactly helping matters.

And then.....it happened.

An email about a Sunday School gathering.  With friends.  At a pool.

Sigh.

My initial thought was that this was a great chance to get the little one in a pool - she's been talking about "swimming like Nemo" for weeks, and here was my chance to make all her dreams come true.  But you know what I couldn't avoid?  A bathing suit.  In front of friends and acquaintances.  I'm just saying that's a whole new level of openness I wasn't mentally prepared for....so I took a nap that afternoon & woke up just in time to toss on our suits and head out the door.  Of course, still in denial that the coverup would come off.

Sure I can just toss my kid in with a floaty and she'll stay right next to me as I dangle my feet in the pool right? Or not.

Well here's how this went down.  We walked in. She was beyond excited to get in "the big bathtub" and we could barely get her floaty on before she jumped in.  No fear I tell you.  So I lean over the pool as she starts flipping forward grabbing mouths full of chlorine water (yum right?), and I know I've got to get in to get her started & upright.  So off went the coverup and in I went. 

The minor detail I left out was that there were probably 10 kids in that pool and ZERO adults.  Oh there were plenty around, but I was the only one in the pool.  Granted my daughter was the youngest by far and was clearly not yet in "supervised swim" mode.  Want to know what will send me into a super self-conscious internal meltdown?  Yeah this.   To the point where when getting out of the pool for dinner, I literally stood there for a few minutes deciding the exit that provided the most immediate cellulite covering.  Either set of steps forced me to walk past more people than I would have liked.  

Strangers on a beach is one thing.  Family is another.  This group of ten or so families was a whole other ballgame for me.    

But you know what made it worth it?  The belly-laugh two-year-old giggles as she jumped off the side of the pool into my arms.  How she begged for "more, more" as I pushed her around the pool.  The sweet thank-you's she offered unprompted.  

She just wanted me.  To make memories with me. 

And I just wanted to stress over cellulite. 

I'm so thankful that I was semi-forced into jumping right in, because we had an amazing time despite my body-image issues.  That moment reinforced to me what I don't want to pass on to my sweet girl.  I don't want her to think people are constantly talking about her because she needs to loose a few pounds.  Or that she's not lovable because she's not a certain size.  Or that she shouldn't take part in certain activities because of how she feels about herself in a bathing suit.  

My issues don't have to be hers - and I am choosing not to teach them by example.

The kicker for me in this whole thing was a comment from a fellow mom friend.  I made an off hand comment about not expecting to be the only one in the pool, and she said she wished she was as free as me to just "get in".  I felt like the odd-man out, but maybe I was sparking something in others.  Maybe just in her.  But one thing I know is I want to remember this moment.  Those smiles and splashes covered a lot of self-doubt.....and I don't want to let the cellulite win in those moments.

I choose not to have my little ones childhood memories & dreams be squashed by my own insecurities.  

So put on those bathings suits, shut down those internal voices & make moments with your family.  And if people are talking about you or me then they've got bigger issues to deal with than either of us!