All’s Love in Fair and War

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“This is a #@cking joke,” were, I believe, the exact words that came out as we were loading the van to go to the fair yesterday. Brett said them, I thought them. It was 92 degrees, there were 200 driveway toys scattered across our lawn, Dash had fallen hard and hit his head on the driveway, no one could find the ice pack, everyone was crying, and we had planned on leaving an hour earlier. Normally, I spread optimism on these occasions like butter on toast, but I was all out of butter. It was the underbelly of our family, definitely not the shiny side we like people to see. We were edgy, and it seemed a game of “Pick a person whose fault this is and silently let them know it” had broken out, and the entire family was playing.

Brett pushed a heap of my crap aside as he climbed in the van, and in the mature spirit of giving him the benefit of the doubt, I read it as “Your car’s a mess again; this is all your fault.”

“We should have left an hour ago. We were all ready, you know,” I replied, knowing he’d hear it as “Why are you always late? This is all your fault.” Checkmate.

We forgot to pre-order wrist bands–somebody’s fault, no doubt–so when we got to the fair, we stood in a long line to get them, dust sticking to our sweat and kids whining to get out of the stroller. We complained about the heat, about the fact that this year at the fair with Dash is a lot harder than last year at the fair with Dash, about how much everything costs, about the bathrooms being gross.

At some point, we got tired of complaining.

Going to the fair with three kids is supposed to be hard.
And raising a family together isn’t supposed to be easy.

But for years, this little fair has been something special to us, a place where–amid grease-thick dust and carnies hollering “Everyone gets a prize!”, between cotton candy stands and carousels and under the canopy of prize trinkets and ferris wheel glow–we find the pulse of our family. In the loudest, most distracting place, that pulse still shines brightest and sings above the competing sounds.

“Look at their faces,” I pointed out. We laughed at Dash’s amusement with the ride and both noticed Lainey’s nurturing scooch-in towards Nella.

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We found the same taco shack we went to last year, ordered the same thing, sat at the same picnic table, took the same picture. Nella still loves the Fun Slide, Lainey still hates it. We drank cold beer, got the kids ice cream, finished half of our giant lemonade and threw the rest away because nobody wanted to hold it–all just like last year.

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We played the same game–the one where everybody wins–and the kids proudly marched with their little prizes until someone decided their prize wasn’t as cool as the one next to them.

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It was all a bit of a family fair deja vu.
Except some things are different. We’re in it deeper, the stakes are higher. Slowly, we’re all changing, swimming further away from the edges of the pool toward deeper water where life is richer but harder and changes can feel more recognizable. Before I could even feel guilty about the way our fair date started, I instead basked in funnel cake intoxication and gratitude for this moment–this recognition of our family and who we are, underbelly and all.

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My two favorite moments captured from last night:

Lainey helping Nella off a ride…

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And this look of Brett’s I’ve seen a hundred times–still kills me. When he’s watching the kids. I fell in love with him on this look alone.

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We left the fair well past bedtime–dirty, tired, overfed and well-spent. Dash fell asleep five minutes into our ride home, his messy hair glued to the shiner on his forehead from his fall earlier in the day and his dirty feet crossed over the mess on the floor beneath them.

And just like last year, and the year before, I looked over at Brett, smiled and whispered, “That was fun”–which, in other languages, translates as “I’m sorry for earlier” and “It’s worth it” and “I like us.”

It’s not supposed to be easy. But I love when I feel the pulse of my family beating loud and strong above the noise and color and flashing lights of the world.

And if you can find it at the fair, you can find it anywhere.

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Speaking in Tongues: An Almost Fifth Year Birthday

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Nella led me to bed last night, never one to fight a decent bedtime and always eager to savor her head-to-pillow routine which, with her, almost always goes down exactly like every dream I ever had of putting kids to sleep before I became a mom—hair strokes, starry-eyed gazes, cheeks between hands and I love yous in six different languages. One of these languages is English. The others? I don’t really know, but we both understand them. My past religious submersion threw around a gift referred to as the Language of Tongues—a mystical spiritual language inspired by God. The thought of it has always set off a skeptical fit of laughter in me, but perhaps if a mother had written one of those books of the Bible and described the lock-eyed gaze she shared while nursing her baby or the sweet words she whispered against her sick child’s brow as she rocked and kissed him to sleep, there’d be “The Gift of Tongues” notations clearly linked to those scriptures. “A mystical spiritual language inspired by God” sure describes a lot of heartfelt whispers I’ve made as a mother, so I’m just going to clear up that definition for myself right here, right now. The Bible just gained two points in my book.

So last night, Nella snuggled as close to me as she could, her body molding to mine just as easy as it did in the hospital that first night, except surrounding more of me, literally…figuratively. She looked at me and smiled her magic smile that pulls my thoughts away from that thing I have to finish after I put her to sleep—that smile that summons all the clarity in the world into that one moment, that smile that is the first letter of the alphabet in the Spiritual Language of Tongues.

“Mama,” she says. “Mama, Kelle, Kelle,” she repeats. And smiles. And kisses me—three times. And holds my cheeks in her hands. And then holds her hand zombie-like in front of us. “Tickle,” she says.

I tickle her hand while I quietly sing—first Dash’s song per her request, then her own, then Lainey’s. She never asks for her own song first—always “Dash-el Omar” first.

She fell asleep quickly and I slipped out of bed and back into my evening routine.

“She out?” Brett asked when I returned to the kitchen.

“Like a light.”

Our bedtime routine is one of our constants with Nella, a calming ritual that began on January 22, 2010 and has since brought us nearly 1,825 nights of clarity. It’s the stuff motherhood is made of, these routines, but also the balm that soothes the hardships of a diagnosis. When I think about Nella struggling to learn something in a classroom full of typical kids, or Nella graduating high school and craving the independence her siblings have, or Nella seeking fulfilling employment, I quickly hop right back to where it doesn’t hurt. It doesn’t hurt at night in bed when she’s smiling and surrounded by the comforts of what she knows, where she’s just the same as everyone else.

But sometimes it does.

I had an anxiety attack in the middle of the night the other night. It was about Nella, and I knew where it originated. On our trip last week, Brett took Lainey and Nella out to the beach to play one afternoon while I tried to put Dash down for a nap. After thirty minutes or so, they returned, the girls running off to find snacks but Brett quiet and a little off. I always know when something’s up with him, he’s good like that.

“What? What happened?” I asked.

His eyes were watery. “I saw it,” he said.

“Saw what?”

“She knows, babe,” he said.

Before he went on, I already knew what that meant. Because I know him. I know us. I know what we both worry about, amid our acceptance and our day-to-day “we’ve got this.” I know what twists our hearts the most.

“She knows she’s different. I saw them playing, I saw her watching Lainey, and—I don’t know. It was the way she looked at her, the way she tried to do what she did, the way she couldn’t. There was this look. It just killed me. I know what I saw—she knows she’s different.”

It hurt hard for one second, but my instincts were triggered. I know what chute to deploy for this one. I’ve done it for myself many times.

“Stop, that’s our feelings, not hers. That’s your sadness, babe. She’s almost five, she’s happy! We can’t project those feelings on her or she’ll pick them up. We can’t do it this way. We’re all different, that’s life. We can’t bring sad feel-sorry-for-her feelings into this. We can’t parent that way.”

I wish I would have acknowledged his feelings more at that moment now that I look back. I have since, but if I were to do it over again, maybe I would have hugged him or said “I feel that way too, babe. I understand, but…” It’s just that I have this job, and I take it so seriously that sometimes I forget we’re in this together. My matriarchal commitment to paving the road for our children’s future, specifically for the way Nella sees herself, has created such a gung-ho obligation to “We treat and see you no differently than anyone else,” that perhaps I don’t make room as much as I should for moments of “This is hard, this is different.”

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One of our best friends has a brother with special needs and consequently (or maybe unrelated) has had a special connection with Nella since she was born. We’ve had some passionate discussions about ways to raise a child with special needs, sometimes through tears, and if there’s one thing for certain, our friend staunchly adheres to the philosophy of high standards/treat no different/don’t you dare feel sorry for her. I envy his commitment to this philosophy, a commitment that allows little room for sentimentality or tears and, in our friend’s case, has helped his brother achieve a pretty normal life. “My mom never treated him any different. She had six kids to take care of, she couldn’t.” I know where to turn to for military strength and a perspective away from sympathetic stereotypes of special needs, and any time I’ve ever voiced a hint of “Poor Nella,” our friend drill-sergeants me back into The Matriarch Pillar of Strength—“STOP. You think about her that way, and she’ll feel it. She’s NO DIFFERENT. You hear me?” One night, we were all at dinner together, fell into a discussion about this again, and I saw something through his militant devotion to his philosophy. I saw his tears.

It’s there. No matter how much we dedicate ourselves to things we believe in, no matter how faithfully we practice our “See no different, treat no different” special needs strategies, you cannot deny how true and real the hurt is of knowing that someone you love so desperately has to experience a life that has so many struggles. And that’s how I felt when I woke up in the middle of the night this week, remembering what Brett said he saw on the beach and further imagining our daughter in a second grade classroom, in a high school cafeteria or out in the work world and struggling to accept that she’s different or wondering why or ever feeling like she doesn’t belong. Dear God, the sadness of these middle-of-night thoughts is suffocating but thankfully—much like thoughts of paying bills or returning e-mails or traveling on a plane—fifty billion times worse and more paralyzing in the thick of darkness than it is in the morning. I can bring a clearer perspective and I can deflate every fear, every worry and every disadvantage with a contrary thought—“It could be worse” or “every child, regardless of disability, has these feelings” or “Life is hard, get over it.” These have all worked for me and will continue to work for me in the future. But this is to say, “Hi Pain. I see you.” Everyone needs some goddamn recognition from time to time, and pain’s no different.

Speaking of recognition, I returned to Brett to validate his very real feelings after my middle-of-the-night low. “I thought about what you saw on the beach the other day. I know those are real feelings, and I worry about them too. In fact I woke up in the middle of the night last night with a straight-up anxiety attack about it,” I added.

“You did? I did too.”

In the daylight, in the hope of promise and potential, we talk about Nella and continue to make plans for her future just as we have done and just as we do for the rest of our family. We see and treat her no differently than any one of us and yet we can’t deny that she has different needs, so we do our very best to support those. Right now that means working closely with her preschool team, getting ready for another IEP meeting to keep communication open with the school district she’ll eventually be a part of, and day-to-day speech and O.T. (occupational therapy) strategies. We’ve gone back and forth between weekly/bi-monthly therapy and consult basis for speech and O.T. ideas we can practice with her at home. I hesitate to give any advice on these issues because we are constantly figuring things out for ourselves, and every child is different. In our case, when it comes to therapy, success boiled down to finding really good therapists and supporting Nella with everyday support at home. That said, our most amazing O.T. and speech therapists have both moved on to different career paths, we tried an off-site speech clinic and didn’t find it helpful, and we’re now baking brownies to brownnose a highly-recommended in-home speech therapist into opening a spot on her already full case load for Nella. ;o)

My only tried and true suggestion would be to connect and make friends with some other parents further along the road. I have 3-4 moms who I turn to for all D.S. related questions, I download the apps they say are great, I make the flashcards they tell me to make and most important, with their support, I feel connected, strong and capable as Nella’s mom.

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Emotional procrastination was my savior the year Nella was born. “You don’t have to think about ten years ahead right now—just love her today.” I still tell myself that and yet things are different now. You eventually have to think about things because your child’s future depends on it. (And, if you’re brand new to this, don’t worry—you’ll be ready sooner than you think.) Some of the things I kept myself from thinking about are happening right now. That’s life though. It gets harder. But see that growing curve that measures challenges on life’s graph? There’s another curve on the graph, sometimes barely recognizable because it follows the exact same arc as the challenges. It’s life’s richness curve (“Oh my God! A double rainbow!). Every day as parents makes us ready for the next day. We follow the curve, knowing it transcends yesterday’s path. We wake up every day and work hard, researching ways to do things, talking to friends, making mistakes, fixing mistakes, thinking about the future, thinking about nothing more than right this second, making plans for everything—school, teachers, dinner, playdates, college, day trips, books to read, therapies to try, birthday parties, doctor appointments and bedtime routines where, at the end of the day, our babies we love so very much hold our cheeks in their hands and say, “Mama, mama, mama.” And we hear it in six different languages.

I can’t make everything better for Nella, I can’t magically change the way her brain works or fix her muscle tone or promise that she won’t have moments of feeling different from others in life. But I can do my part in making the world a kinder place for her to thrive—for all my kids to thrive. “It’s like this,” I told my friend Annie the other day, “With all the world’s sorrow and problems and heartache and hatred, it can feel so overwhelming sometimes to think that we can do anything to fix it. But if someone came and told me there was one thing I could do that was guaranteed to fix it—no matter how small that fix was and no matter how silly the task assigned was, I’d do it. If someone handed me a wrench and promised me that if I turned that wrench to the right every day, it would help make Nella feel more accepted and capable and valued, I’d turn that damn wrench right, every moment of every day until I died.”

Later before bed that night I found this text from her: “I just want you to know this: one wrench I will turn every day for eternity is to practice kindness to every human like Nella. And I will turn that wrench into my kids so that somehow, someway, that goodness flows all the way down south to Florida right into Nella’s lap. Because I believe that’s how the universe works.”

And if we all took that wrench and turned it to the right, imagine how far our wheel could travel. New destinations, a world of possibility. Or maybe I’m just speaking in tongues.

In two weeks, Nella turns five. That means, for five years, you—this wonderful, supportive online community—have shared our journey. Many of you gave meaningful words of encouragement in those very first months—words we needed and breathed in and so appreciated during a challenging time. And since, you’ve shared your support in many other ways—one incredibly notable, investing in our shared mission by donating to the National Down Syndrome Society. Thank you for helping us raise over $267,000 since Nella’s first birthday to support the efforts of the NDSS—advocating for the value, acceptance and inclusion of people with Down syndrome. We are thankful for a national organization that represents us and wish every syndrome, every chromosomal deletion, addition or abnormality had such a force. Thank you so much for your kindness in contributing to this mission over the years, a mission that’s important to many moms and dads and sisters and brothers, just like you. We still and always will donate to the NDSS and support their mission, and we hope you will too. As Nella gets older, we will continue to share ways that you can help support individuals with Down syndrome and community-recognized events such as March 21 (Down Syndrome Awareness Day) and October celebrations (Down Syndrome Acceptance Month). We’d also like to learn more about other organizations helping make life better for individuals with Down syndrome, specifically in relation to post-secondary education opportunities, scholarships and employment programs for adults. Please share in the comments or e-mail us at kellehamptonblog@comcast.net if you know of any that are doing important work and need a greater platform.

I did just write about new years, new goals and forward energy though, and Nella’s birthday is a perfectly good time for renewed action. What can you do now to share and celebrate with us?

Continue to choose kindness. Turn the wrench right with us. This world needs more love right now, and paying it forward, looking out for someone else, doing the right thing never goes out of style. When I wake up in bed at night and think about that second grade classroom, that high school cafeteria, that work place lunchroom, I’d love to know that it will be filled with kindness and acceptance—kids who will sit with her and ask her about that dance she went to—the one they know about because they sat with her the day before and heard about it. Students who will lean over and help her find that page, friends who will come over and hang out, teams that will cheer for her when she runs, employees who will take the extra time in training, graduating classmates who will clap and holler her name when she crosses the stage and takes her diploma. We create this kind, celebrative, supportive community for our children with every opportunity we are given to be the change.

I picked up Nella from preschool yesterday and was surprised that she didn’t immediately appear holding a teacher’s hand like she always does when they call her name. I waited a minute and her teacher finally laughed and yelled to me, “Hang on–she’s socializing with her friends.” I love that. I wouldn’t mind a good thousand more times in life of being told to wait a minute because Nella’s busy socializing with her friends or creating something or helping someone or off doing her own important thing.

In the meantime, we will cherish our bedtime routine–our hair strokes, our starry-eyed gazes and all the love between the sweet hands that squeeze my cheeks. We will equip each other with what we need for tomorrow…I love you, I love you, I love you. 

Nella wants (with helpful suggestions from her sister) a rainbow birthday party. And we think that’s a pretty perfect way to celebrate these five incredible years.

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The “Can’t Also” Crisis and Sorting Out Identity Issues at 35 Years Old: also known as A Great Many Things, Part 2

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When I was fifteen years old, my then stepdad reprimanded me once for listening to Kenny G. My stepdad was a kind man and was only following the trends of our church, but even so, I was pissed.  “It’s too worldly” was his case, perhaps justified by the fact that Peabo Bryson had to pop in to the Breathless album and sin up a perfectly good instrumental song with the lusty lyrics “Let’s take a slow and easy ride, just lay back and let love take us over.”

But still—Kenny G, worldly?! He’s like Jesus with a saxophone—a wholesome alternative to the lasciviousness other kids my age were listening to. And yes, we casually used that word to describe Top 40 Hits.

The Kenny G Kibosh left me with Steve Green, Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir—my mom’s favorite—and Amy Grant, but only the El Shaddai years before she slid over to The Other Side.  The bottom line was Girls Who Love God can’t also love secular music. 

So begins the Can’t Also Crisis.
Also known as:  Why I Struggle with Identity Issues at 35.

It’s not just Faith vs. Sexy Tunes.  It’s Everything.  I often pigeonhole myself into categories, as if a woman who wants to change the world can’t also love cute shoes.  Or a mom who sings of the joys of holding a sleeping baby can’t also want to learn more about business.  Or an advocate for a cause of great importance can’t also advocate for a cause of little importance like wearing lipstick or buying art or making crafts.

This little crisis has followed me my entire life, so much that when the Spice Girls hit stardom, I actually stressed out about who I would want to be if I had to be a spice.  I loved Posh’s style, but some days you just need tennis shoes, you know?  Sporty Spice is fun.  And Baby Spice?  I love babies!  And then there’s the bold, can’t-mess-with-me badassness of Scary Spice.  I wanted to be them all.  Which probably explains why I love Allspice so much—Mmmm.  Hot wassail.  I digress.

Who said Posh can’t also be Sporty?  We intersect areas of interest in a million different ways all the time, and that’s fantastic.  We certainly don’t have to be everything (and trying to be is a whole ‘nother story), but if we want to explore a little bit of everything, that’s okay.

So why in my mind, even after thinking and writing about this so many times, do I still treat my loves and areas of interest like people who can’t let their food touch on a plate?  Motherhood and business and fashion and faith and family and world-changing and creativity and community awareness and activism and advocacy and home decorating and politics and having fun should all be able to be cooked up in a tasty casserole that isn’t nitpicked by my own need to compartmentalize all these passions that a woman might have.

I think a little bit of analysis is good—it makes us contemplate our beliefs and ascribe some accountability to our choices.  My sister and I recently got into a discussion about the ways we teach and model to our children what we believe about beauty.  “I teach my kids that what’s most important is inward beauty—that it doesn’t matter what they look like on the outside, and yet,” I argued, “I went to the MAC store twice this week because I’m hung up on the fact that the orange tones in the red lipstick I just bought make my teeth look yellow.”

Maybe it has nothing to do with what I think and more to do with what other people think because, listen—I care what other people think.  I just do, even though I’m learning not to so much.  Trained as a child in the religious world to analyze and reanalyze every action and thought to make sure every dot connected and lined up perfectly to God, I find myself still struggling to painstakingly find equilibrium with every choice I make today.  Make sure everything adds up, aligns, checks out with what you believe. It’s like I’m looking for errors and contradictions in my own life, and there’s a word for people who do that in other people’s lives:  Assholes.  I’m being an asshole to my own self, and I need to quit.

Do I live in a way that contradicts what I preach?  Maybe in some ways I do, and that’s okay.  Everything doesn’t have to line up perfectly.  Things will align eventually.

I started reading How to Live late last year (haven’t finished it; it’s a slow but good read), a biography on the essayist, Montaigne.  On page seven, I highlighted in yellow crayon (because I couldn’t find a marker) this paragraph about contradiction that resonated deeply with me:

“Mantaigne lets his material pour out, and never worries if he has said one thing on one page and the opposite overleaf, or even in the next sentence.  He could have taken as his motto Walt Whitman’s lines:

Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes)

…Even when his thoughts are most irrational and dreamlike, his writing follows them.  “I cannot keep my subject still,” he says.  “It goes along befuddled and staggering, with a natural drunkenness.”  Anyone is free to go with him as far as seems desirable, and let him meander off by himself if it doesn’t…(and here’s the clincher)…sooner or later, your paths will cross again.” (Sarah Bakewell)

I’ve come back to that phrase—“sooner or later, your paths will cross again”—so many times.  Shielding, defending, purposely preventing natural human contradictions just to make sure our identity lines up perfectly outwardly is exhausting and, frankly, a waste of energy that could be poured into our loves of life.  When we truly let go and love what we love, without worrying if all of those loves line up, the contradictions will eventually cancel each other out, and our paths will cross again.

Stop worrying about your identity and concern yourself with the people you care about, ideas that matter to you, beliefs you can stand by, tickets you can run on. Intelligent humans make those choices with their brain and hearts and they make them alone. The world does not deliver meaning to you. You have to make it meaningful…and decide what you want and need and must do. It’s a tough, unimaginably lonely and complicated way to be in the world. But that’s the deal: you have to live; you can’t live by slogans, dead ideas, clichés, or national flags. Finding an identity is easy. It’s the easy way out.” -Zadie Smith, On Beauty

If I’m normally inclined to keep the food on my plate separated, then this weekend I made one helluva casserole with all that I love.  Amid Googling “mint green loafers,” searching for a DJ for the Naples Buddy Walk this year and swaying my baby to sleep under the moon in a precious motherhood moment, I discovered Makers.com, a collection of powerful women’s stories where female clothing designers, global activists, youth empowerment organizers, authors, CEOs, educators, entrepreneurs, architects, comedians, actresses, musicians, athletes and scientists are all recognized in one place for making an impact—for affecting the female human race.  Talk about Kenny G meeting Jesus.  All of these areas of interest that I normally exhaust myself in trying to connect the dots to dissolve contradictions?  They’re having an Empowerment Potluck together, and I’m only invited when I let go of my shit.

Here’s the thing:  when you stop trying so goddamn hard to make the dots connect, they’ll connect.

Be who you are.  Love what you love.

As my friend Wylie said just today: “When you’re not being who you really are because you’re trying to make sure you’re being real, then you’re denying who you are—that, in turn, is phony.”

Don’t try to be good; be good. Don’t try to impact the world; impact the world. Don’t try to connect the dots or dissolve the contradictions or explain what it is you love and why. Just do your thing. Be your good.  Love your loves.  The dots will connect, and a beautiful picture you’ll create.

As I started writing this post this morning, I checked into Instagram and landed upon this update from an international blogger I follow, @soynuriaperez–a redeeming confirmation that social media, when assembled appropriately and even when luring you away from what you need to be doing at the present, can hold truth and beauty and exactly what you need to hear:

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Translation:

 “The simplicity that you obtain as a result of controlling your complexity is most satisfying.” Steve Jobs

How do we control that complexity?  All those loves, those interests, those contradictions?  We stop trying to control them.  We invite them all to a party and trust that they’ll get along with each other and find connections naturally, without our micromanaging.

Fashion, meet Faith.  I think you two might find something in common.  Motherhood, meet Wants to Change the World. You two are totally going to hit it off.”

Play Pharrell’s “Happy” because that will get everybody dancing.
Order a glass of wine–just one–and sip it slowly.
Stand back.  Quietly take it in.
Don’t freak out if not everyone is choosing to act crazy on the dance floor.
Let all those people, all those areas, all those loves, all those parts of you come alive on their own time, in their own way.

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A charismatic dancer can also sit quietly and watch from the sidelines.
A nurturing mother can also know all the words and moves to “Ice, Ice Baby.”
A humble thinker can also take silly selfies.
An analytical CPA can also dance barefoot in a puddle.
A world traveler can also burrow into the safe comforts of home.
A critical scientist can also write deep, reflective poems.
A woman can read and discuss Newsweek and also The New YorkerMarie Claire, Christianity Today and Scrapbooks, Etc.

Embrace it all.

My dad reminded me tonight, “Do you realize you just defended your right to use a swear word in a blog post in the same conversation that you told me you cried when you heard a preschool class sing Jesus Loves Me?”

You’re right, Dad.
I am a great many things, and I’m proud of it.

I cry when I stare at my sleeping kids–I can’t believe they belong to me, and the quiet moments when I get to watch them breathe and contemplate their every smile, how they need me, how they’ve changed our lives–it overwhelms me.
I swear like a sailor and censor it all for this blog.
I believe in God, and communicating with him and connecting myself to his purpose is an important part of my life.
Sometimes, I question if God exists.
I believe strongly in owning your voice and making a meaningful impact in the world with what you have to offer.
I often feel vulnerable and unworthy of making an impact.
I am passionate about changing people’s views on disabilities and making the world a more accepting place for marginalized individuals.
I read fashion magazines and stress out when my toe nail polish gets chippy.
I love classical music.
I love techno music.
I love ballet.
I love dirty dancing.
I care about the environment.
I use a lot of paper towel.
I respect Buddhist faith and Jewish faith and Muslim faith and Christianity.
I love my atheist friends.
I dream of living on a quiet prairie,watching my children run in fields of wildflowers,smiling in the hot sun.
I dream of living in the big city, hosting parties, visiting museums, hailing cabs to our next big adventure.
I want to help people, connect with people, make the sad feel loved.
I like to buy stuff.
I like to make stuff.
I like to give stuff away.
Sometimes I feel so pissed off, I could knock walls down with my anger.
Sometimes I feel so weak and weepy, I could crumble if you looked at me funny.
Sometimes I feel so strong, I’ll say whatever I think and not give a shit whether anyone agrees or not.

But all the time, I am complicated–maybe even contradictory.

Ladies–all the Ladies, let me hear you say:  We are a great many things.


Come back Wednesday when I’ll teach you how to turn a stiletto heel into a Bible cover that doubles as a diaper bag and a drink flask.