Monthly Archives: March 2014

This Morning I Woke Up Cranky ~ So Here’s A List Of Ten Things I Love

I once read that if you were to wake up at the early hour of your normal obligations and you had something fantastic to look forward to, you would wake up with the abnormal enthusiasm unlike the average day. And if this is true, the amount of enthusiasm and energy we expend into each day is simply a choice, not a circumstance. It’s an indicator of attitude rather than amount of resources.

I spent the weekend on Lake Las Vegas. I’m no fan of gambling or partying yet my energy has been sufficiently expended. This morning I feel heavy. I am tired, and it turns out, if the amount of frustration I felt when Mr Dreamboat was a tad noisy can be an indicator, I am highly irritable.

This is a choice. It’s not a good choice. So I will simply choose differently. I choose, this day, this Monday morning, happiness. And it’s going to be a stretch. So with that, I give you Ten Things I Love:

  1. I love when the filling to crust ratio is exactly perfect in a piece of pie.
  2. The moment you take a step back from what you’re doing and thinking and you just take a deep breath and feel grateful and notice all things that are wonderful.
  3. You know when you have a problem and all of the sudden there’s a moment where you realize you have some control, there’s something you can do to be a part of the solution? Yeah, that’s a sweet spot right there.
  4. When you wake up and you’re tired and all of the sudden you realize there’s no reason for you to get up. Sweet. Blessed. Relief.
  5. I’m enchanted by a good piece of art. Yesterday I attended a beautiful wedding, and just after they said their vows, a talented musician played a beautiful piece on the guitar and it sounded like the best parts of marriage. It sounded like love, and commitment and peace. I love that.
  6. I love family around the dining room table. I love the feeling of everyone being fully present and joking. It feels like heaven. It feels like stability.
  7. When I am sad, I love that I’ve discovered writing is catharsis for me. And the moment I type a sentence and it comes out exactly as I’d wish and I realize there is a conduit, a pipeline to be understood, I love that.
  8. Meditation is a key and a tool and a vacation from one’s brain. What’s not to love about that?
  9. I love a really great cheeseburger and tater tots.
  10. When all of life conspires and you know you are at the right place at the right time and you’re in the flow. Yeah. I love that.

And this:

Michelle Church ~ Life Is Pain, Highness

One of my least favorite things about life is that it so often hurts. To quote one of the best all-time movies, “Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who tells you different is selling something.” And so each of us wakes every morning. We go about our business and on the good days, we can keep the pain to a low ache. On the brilliant days the pain can seem like something far, far away. But objects may be closer than they appear in the rear view mirror.

On acute days of pain we look down and find where once there was a beating heart, today there is a gaping whole in the chest. Life is pain, Highness.

Forgive me if I’ve harshed your Sunday mellow. I merely present facts. That’s all. And in case you’re feeling super bummed by this observation of the information, you should know that while I present the facts, I present only part of them. Please, continue for the rest.

Life is pain. It is suffering and disappointment. It is trying and failing and flailing and getting up and trying again.

I choose to look at the beauty most of the time. But sometimes I am mired down in the struggle. There are days when I cannot see the forest, so overwhelmed am I by the trees. And I muddle through, just like you, and…  this is where it gets good… then there are the sun breaks.

The clouds lift. The generosity of the universe pours down upon us and we are stunned by the beauty of it all.

Where there is Yin, there is Yang. Where there is suffering, there are great rewards to scoop up, like jewels upon the sand. It’s that simple. Well, it’s simple if we are willing to stoop down to pick them up.

Maybe I’m not so grateful for the pain. If I work toward it, perhaps someday I might be. But for now, I am grateful for the beautiful souls that lift me up. I am grateful for the jewels strewn across the sands of our lives, and when sweet relief from pain arrives, oh how grateful I am for that as well.

Life is pain, Highness. But to borrow from another cinematic masterpiece, Life Is Beautiful too.

Open Up My Chest And Let My Heart Walk Around Without Me

I am a closet introvert. I use this term, that I created, because every time I claim introversion I am met with raised eyebrows and expressions of disbelief. But I process things silently. I regroup alone. This blog, as much as I try to keep it tastefully impersonal, really is a sort of online therapy. I know of no studies endorsing this kind of self-help, but I can tell you that I feel better after, what I suppose to be, a good blog post. Sometimes I post with you in mind. Sometimes I post what need to say, and today is one of those days. I want… no, that’s not it. I need to tell you about my kids. I need to put it in writing instead of keeping it cooped up in my head. I want to see the words on the screen, and if I’m being honest which happens when I am this real, it wouldn’t do me any harm to see the bars on the graph rise and know that I am read, that you see those words and in some way you feel what I feel and we are family, just for a few minutes, or maybe for always. About my kids. I became a mother when I was 22 years old. I had no idea what I was getting in to and to this day I am regularly flummoxed by the job description. But through my fumbling and sorry attempts at parenting and nurturing and keeping small people alive, I have been honored to be the mother of remarkable individuals. My awe and wonder are certainly based in the day to day living. I’ve watched them take their first steps, exhibit the first sprouts of human kindnesses and I’ve stood in wonder as I’ve watched them make friends, make mistakes and make their way into burgeoning lives. But I would be lying if I didn’t tell you that much of my respect for them comes from the combat zone. As a mother, my heart is broken for all the things they’ve had to go through. I’ve watched them stand up for themselves, I’ve watched them protect one another and my heart has broken a little bit when I’ve realized they were all the while protecting me. I am humbled by it, and horrified that they would ever feel the need to. That’s my job. That’s what I signed up for. I once read that having children is like opening up your chest and letting your heart walk around in the world without you. It stayed with me because it is the closest description I could ever give to what it feels like to be a mother. Forgive the melodrama, but I would die for my children. And may God have mercy on my soul, I would kill for them as well. Carrie, Adam, Zoë, Max and Chase, I aspire to be more like you. I could not be prouder of the beautiful human beings you are. Yeah, yeah, yeah, you are human and you are flawed, but a few flaws cannot hide character. A few idiosyncrasies will never hide a valiant heart. You are brave, my dears. Braver and stronger than I ever was. It is my fondest dream to be the mother each one of you deserves. Thank you for allowing me the privilege of raising you. Give me time. I’m sure I’ll get the hang of it all sooner or later. This post, perhaps more than any other, feels quite dangerous to me. It may be the most honest thing I’ve ever written and I don’t know if there’s a place for that in the world. But I’m not afraid, after all, every day I watch 5 pieces of my heart walk around without me. That is the most dangerous risk I will ever take.

Special Invitation ~ The Party Is Today

My life has had its fair share of ups and downs. I have loved and I have lost. I have been blessed with a broad range of experiences and I have smelled my own blood on the pavement of disastrous defeats. In other words, I’m just like you and everyone else.

But life is not only about the “big” stories. Years ago I knew a group of people who lived only for the events. I’m simply guessing, but it was as if there was an attitude of, “Life is dismal and disappointing, but our parties? They’ll be rivaled by none.”

This was curious to me. After all, we live most of the time outside special events. I am not criticizing, I’m saying one size doesn’t “fit all” and that doesn’t fit me. Besides, most parties make me anxious.

What I want, what I work toward every day, is to have my life itself be the special event. Every day I want to look my best, feel the opportunities swarming about me and pluck one from the air at any given moment. I want to live in the flow of life. With confetti. And cake. There should be cake.

I think it takes a lot more effort to live this way than it does to plan the occasional fete. I think it takes nearly hourly effort. Well, that is to say, that’s how it works for me.

And though life has its way of throwing the unforeseen monkey wrench into the event, in my opinion, I’d rather be dressed and ready for the best, than expecting anything less than breathtaking.

Now go put on your favorite stilettos and feel exactly as fabulous as you are!

Won’t You Be My Neighbor

This morning my goal was to run 7 miles. I’m going to be perfectly honest and tell you I did it perfectly slowly. But at the end of the day, I ran 7 miles, instead of write a blog post.

This morning I am embracing Good Enough. It is my mantra. It is my gift to you. Good enough is where I want to live. There’s plenty of room in the neighborhood. You should move in too.

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I’m ready for my close up, Mr DeMille.

Hall Pass ~ A Letter To The Universe

Dear Universe:

With this letter I am excusing (insert your name her, dear reader) from  ~ including but not limited to ~ for today and all days:

  1.  All things that feel obligatory and heavy. Things that make one feel contracted and diminished.
  2.  Feeling bad or depressed about one’s body. Today is a day to feel grateful and to honor the sacred vessels we wear.
  3.  Anything that includes the word “should”. All “should’s” will be politely dismissed and not invited back. “Should” is not welcome here.
  4.  Dismal, meals that are not treated expressly forbidden. All meals will be celebrations of abundance and smothered in gratitude.
  5.  The cacophony of life is hereby banished and quiet, silent time alone is to be cherished and relished and there shall be a large amount of listening; to one’s self as well as others along the path.
  6.  “Blocks” and “cant’s” and “buts” are out. Instead, all things will be possible.
  7.  Tuning out in any way shape or form. No self medicating, no distractions via electronic or silly excuses. Today, and the days that come after are specifically set aside for Full Out Living.
  8.  Living inside the box. There shall be colorful crayons, coloring all over the page and contemplating time travel and various other ideas that are impossible and delightful.
  9.  Judgment of others or of situations. There will be no “good” and “bad”. There will be curiosity! And gladness!
  10. And there will be delicious snacks and joy. Lots and lots of joy.

If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to call me.

I am your,

Michelle At Play

Cancer Is A Hair Stylist ~ A Trevor Bateman Story

ImageMy friend Audra and I have shared a friendship that spans decades. This simultaneously pleases me, as she is like a sister to me, and sickens me, since this means we are old. Very, very old.

I remember quite vividly sitting together on the floor of my pink bedroom with its purple carpet, giggling into the wee hours of the morning, much to my mother’s chagrin. I can’t speak for Audra, but I’m not sure I could keep my eyes open that late anymore. As for the giggling, it happens every time we’re together.

I spent the afternoon with Audra and her handsome son Trevor yesterday. We’ve been 2014-03-23 13.48.04spending more time together lately than our busy lives usually allow. Trevor was diagnosed with lymphoma almost a month ago and with frequent trips and extended stays in the hospital we are granted long hours with few interruptions. It feels quite similar to the long hours we spent together so many years ago. Only we’re better looking now. Of course.

Yesterday, however, was different. Whereas we normally sit and talk in Trevor’s room, stopping when a nurse interrupts and starting back up in altogether different places once they are gone, yesterday the three of us took a field trip.

2014-03-23 13.59.25One of the patients on the children’s oncology floor was having what can only be described as a Head Shaving Party and Trevor was invited. IV’s in tow, Trevor, Audra, the nurse and I trekked down the long halls, past too many rooms full of too sick children and found ourselves in the company of strangers, standing over a garbage can, clippers in hand with generous helpings of teasing and laughter as they made themselves bald in the name of love.

Trevor sat silently on the couch, watching the other patient, a beautiful, little boy of about 4 years, as his father, and then his father’s best friend shaved their heads. Finally it was our young hosts turn for the shave and with what I imagine is the purest bravery I’ve yet to witness, let his parents shave the beautiful curls of youth from him.

It was one of the most humbling experiences I’ve ever had. I watched a loving father lead 2014-03-23 14.03.20the way, I saw a true friend walk by his side through the valley of the shadow of death and witnessed a young family wade through the uncertainty of a vicious disease with grace and unity. It was deeply sacred.

Trevor opted out of shaving his head yesterday. It may have been the nausea that kept him from it, or perhaps he just wasn’t feeling it. I’m pretty sure you don’t push these things. At this point, young Master Trevor has just a few choices that are his alone, I think it’s fair that he gets to choose to keep or shave his own head.  If and when he does decide to take the plunge, I imagine he will have his impish grin firmly in place and he will milk the experience for all it’s worth. That’s how Trevor does it. That’s why I like him.

It has been a pleasure to be Audra’s friend these many years. We have laughed together through many of them and we have cried together as well. Perhaps now we’ll go bald together. And if we do, I’m quite certain we’ll giggle through that too.

And of course, we’ll be even better looking. If that’s possible.

Michelle Church ~ The Girl With A Cigarette & Asthma

I have spent much of my life pretending things didn’t exist or weren’t happening. I was so good at it that when I was in my teens and had acute asthma attacks, I still smoked cigarettes. I would mock that girl but even though I haven’t participated in that sort of idiocy for many, many years, it is only a specific symptom of a larger problem. Quite frankly, I’m just a little sad for the lost lamb that was me. Poor, stupid girl.

Since then I have participated in other weirdly ridiculous forms of chosen ignorance and quasi self destructive behaviors. As I get older, they have become more subtle and less mock-worthy, but they remain ridiculous and I desire to eradicate them from my personal list of questionable behaviors.

I fully admit that the girl with the cigarette hanging from her mouth and the inhaler in her hand is an extreme example, I wonder if we all might be  deluding ourselves and have equally questionable forms of denial. I mean, I don’t want to make you feel uncomfortable this Sunday morning, but go ahead and ask yourself, “Am I denying that quiet voice that speaks only to me?”

The first indicator is if we’re so busy we can barely take time to breathe. If you’ve answered yes to this then I am the bearer of bad news and you’re not listening. You don’t have time. And maybe that’s why you’ve made yourself so busy. So you won’t have to listen to things that might scare you.

Number two: Do you ever have thoughts and questions that scare you but you decide to ignore them because someone has told you that you shouldn’t question? Come on. Don’t just give me some sort of rote, robotic answer here. You know what I’m talking about. The questions that pop into your head when you’re in the bathroom by yourself. It’s like your subconscious knows you’re alone and sabotages what could be some relaxing, contemplating “spa” time. 

I’ve had these questions. I’ve had moments when I knew quite distinctly I should turn left but went right because it was the shortest distance to my destination. I’ve had questions about people or choices I’d made and I felt I was too far down that road to turn around.

My point is not about what choices you have or have not made. This post isn’t even about a 17 year old girl who kept going to the hospital unable to breathe.

What this is about is slowing down, taking a deep breath and feeling what you’re feeling full out. I’m not even saying act on what you’re feeling. I’m just saying, it’s time to feel it. It’s time to trust that voice. It’s time to pay attention. 

That’s what I’m going to do as I head off into this sabbath day. Feel what I’m feeling. And I have this dream that someday, maybe today even, I will be brave enough to venture into this world willing to listen to myself and live the purer life that is waiting for me when I do.

Now who’s with me?

Procrastination ~ A Useful Tool For Happiness

Every morning each of us awakens to new options. Every day is a fresh beginning. And even if our day looks a lot like it did yesterday, it’s not. Don’t be fooled.

Today is a day to choose new choices, think new thoughts, drive a different path to wherever you went yesterday that you’re going again today and most importantly, it’s a chance to see the world differently or perhaps for the first time.

There are things to put off today. Procrastinate worry? Don’t mind if I do. Wait until “tomorrow” to think dark and paranoid thoughts? Good idea. In fact, those things have no business being in your “today”.

I awoke this morning to Mr Dreamboat at my side, an all too rare occasion. The sun is shining on the Northwest Spring and I have goals to mull over and laughter that needs tending to. 

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This truck was stopped at a checkpoint. Inside the barrels; laughter. Tons of it. The government tried to confiscate it, but it got away and drifted to your neck of the woods.

Please don’t misunderstand, I have challenges and things that concern me just like everyone else. But time has proven that when I live in the present and feel as much joy as I can, those challenges find a way to work themselves out. The world keeps on spinning, I embrace the fact that we are each on our own path, now let me get to that laughter.

I hope wherever you are and whatever weather you’re subjected to, that the sun is shining in your heart like a Northwestern Springtime. And I hope you claim barrels of laughter as your own. 

Problems be damned.

We Are Willows ~ We Bend But Do Not Break

Years ago I was the head of a girl’s camp. It was one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done. It turns out I am a way better chief than indian. Well, technically I was the chief, but I’m a way better chief of the chiefs than I am being a chief being chiefed. You get my meaning.

The first year I ran it was M.I.S.E.R.A.B.L.E. It was outdoors with no inside building and only one area were people could gather out of the elements. And let me tell you, that year we had elements. It’s the Northwest and it rained all week long. I did my best to keep up morale and go with the flow. I was young and headed up a staff of 100 with about 150 girls attending, if I remember correctly. Which I probably don’t. It’s been a long time.

Because the weather was not hospitable and because I was spitballing it that whole week, I would change up schedules, reroute activities and move things around as best I could. Ever searching for the driest, happiest outcome I could create, all the while praying for better weather. God just giggled.

I would stand before the staff and girls, fake smile plastered on my face, manufactured exuberance oozing from every pore of my body and with feet planted firmly together I would move in something like a fluid crescent moon yoga pose saying, “We are willows, we bend but never break.”

I lost lost ten pounds in 6 days that summer. When Mr Dreamboat came up to the camp midweek I literally climbed in the backseat of his car, ordered him to drive and curled up in a fetal position and promptly began to bawl. I begged him not to make me go back. Technically I suppose that could be categorized as a breakdown. Technically.

But I did go back. I did finish out the week and ultimately completed three more years of the same job. It was always challenging, but never so much as that first year.

I look back on that time and I can see myself striking the Willow Pose and making the girls repeat, “We are willows, we bend but never break,” and I imagine I was practicing for what would come in my life. I was only 28 years old.

What I did not consciously understand back then is that not only does a willow gracefully bend with the wind, but a tree has a powerful ability to heal itself.

People are always asking, “If you were an animal, what would you be?” and whenever I am asked, I choose whatever animal suits me at the moment. A lion, a gazelle, an eagle. But if I were being honest, I don’t think I’d choose an animal.

I am a willow. I bend but do not break and best of all is my ability to heal.

willow