the face of a crazy person
I think you can tell a lot about your current state of life by the dreams you have at night. Last night was rough. I’m a little fevered, a little sore throated, a bit on the rough side of things. I didn’tsleep much but when I did my dreams went like this,
Sitting in the third row of a large white conference room. Surrounded by fashionable men and women, each sharing the same level of high, high, HIGH excitement. Our mystery keynote speaker must be a treat, indeed. I see Zuzu sitting up on one of two chairs on the stage. She waves at me and then mimes that she wants some fruit snacks. I dig in my purse and toss some to her. Thumbs up. Then the room grows quiet and out steps Martha Stewart. Kind of a let down but still…fun! Let’s see what she has to say. While she talks Zuzu continues to sit behind her. Taking notes and flashing me “I love you” hand signals. Apparently, this is too distracting as Martha turns around and tells Zuzu that if she doesn’t stop she is going to have to take her outside and spank her. So then I stand up, run to the podium tell Martha Stewart that if she ever threatens to touch my daughter – if she ever even speaks to my daughter again! – I will make her life miserable. And then I throw a package of bacon at her face while I grab Zuzu and run out the door.
Yes, in my dreams I throw bacon at Martha Stewart.
Ummmm…What the hell does that say about my current life situation?
It’s been on my mind lately, the worth of a woman. The worth we accord ourselves, the worth we assign others, the worth assumed, the worth so dearly sought. It has come up in conversations at playdates, in cars and late at night. So often the words are different but the look in each woman’s eyes, the catch in their voices sound so much the same.
“I am tired of women asking me what I do outside of motherhood. Isn’t what I am enough?”
“Nobody listens to me. For awhile I thought I had something to say. Now I am not so sure.”
“Groups of women are so much more terrifying than groups of men. When I was young, I never felt more judged than when I was the new woman at church. They probably weren’t judging me. I am old enough to realize that now. But they also weren’t acknowledging me. And that might be worse.”
“Sometimes I am embarrassed that I find so much fulfillment in making beds and dinner. Am I made of different stuff than all these women I am supposed to be like?”
“I just want to feel like I have value.”
The last two times I had this conversation it was with the types of women I think light the sky. Lovely hearts, creative souls, giving natures and (although it doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things) just plain beautiful. And both of them, these women I would model myself after if I could, felt like they fell so short of fulfilled womanhood they couldn’t even see where it truly began.
How was this happening? Who should I blame? What segment of society had to have their feet held to the fire so that women – my friends, my daughters, MYSELF – could finally feel like they have intrinsic value? I slept on that question, ate it with dinner, walked around my neighborhood and across my halls holding it out in front of me. When I finally felt the answer, I turned from it and wanted to throw it away. But it remained. And knocked at me until I said it aloud and gave it a home.
We’ve done this to ourselves.
Sure there are thousands of years of patriarchal oppression we can blame, households upon household of women told the grand lie – that femaleness makes you other and less and wanting. You can hardly blame women for eating the food they were fed, for accepting the lie and swallowing it with pride orpain. How could they hunger for honey when they only knew vinegar?
You and I are not our great grandmothers, our grandmothers or even our mothers. We live in a time when we are told we should know better than the “yes, sir” woman in high heels that came before us. You are a woman!, they shout. You can be anything you want! You can climb mountains and paint sunsets! You can mother and crash through glass ceilings! You can give your body again and again and again and save love as a sweet to follow the savory! You can aspire and perspire! You can change without consenting to be changed! You were born a woman, they cry, and now you live in a time when you can be so much more!
Rejoice. Rejoice. Rejoice.
The shouts of enlightenment are well intentioned but in so many ways they are the echoes of the lies of our past. Yes, there is some truth there. Indeed, women can do anything. They can (and do) achieve and innovate and capture the light of the sun. Hell, yes. But those achievements, those innovations, those rays of light are not only found in the marketplace. They are found on our front porches and around the kitchen table and in the quiet moments of our lives. And then, shot through the truth we have shouted at us, we find the subtle shades of the false words spoken in the past. “You are a woman, but do not fret, you live in a time when you can decide to be more.” As if our womanhood was something to be built upon rather than embodied. And so we seek this more-ness and to our everlasting shame we demand it of our fellow sisters. What does she do? What are her causes? How does she contribute? Yes, you are woman, but what else are you? And so we busy ourselves with busyness and we take pictures of pretty moments to give the hour worth and we gather at self-important parties that ring with noise and flash with bulbs but lack the substance of conversation or a depth of true enjoyment.
We exclude each other when we should invite. We broadcast when we should listen. We assume when we should seek. We set ourselves up as an image meant to inspire aspiration, rather than a sister seeking relation. We act apart. We act alone. We act above.
We act. We act. We act.
What if we all took a breath and felt that our worth is intrinsic and not made more or less by our works? What if the value of a woman is determined simply by her being, by the act of her very creation? What if everything else is important, but not fundamental? What if we finally, eagerly, happily decided that we are essential? What if once we acknowledged this in ourselves, we acknowledged it in everyone else?
Sisters, you are essential, your birthright is set, your value was sewn about your insides while your heart grew within you. The drudgery of your days, the grand scope of your career, the words you carve into stone while in mortality cannot diminish or make brighter what cannot change. You are already gold and silver and the shine of the stars.
Please, take a moment today and find that out for yourself. Disappear into the place where the day meets the night and feel your strength, your power, your absolute pricelessness. And then go out and make the world bend to the woman you know yourself to be. There is joy to be found in passion and work and achievement. Of course, there is. If you want to write, write. If you want to mother, mother. If you want to create, create. But as you seek these things to hang like ornaments about your head, know that they do not define you, they reflect you.
You are enough without them. You are wanted without them. You are whole without them. And in the the end, we are all gathered in.
share, pin, twirl, repeat.
Ansel Adams liked New Mexico
Yesterday, a good portion of my family piled into my parent’s excursion and drove the fourteen hours from Utah to Las Cruces, New Mexico. By “good portion” you may think I may mean a couple of grandkids and an adult or two. In this instance, that phrase really means one great grandparent, two grandparents, Riley, me, two grandkids and one 12 year old tea cup poodle. The inside of the car looked like an ad for a bad family comedy…but it actually worked. The girls watched movies. Riley and I read. My grandpa talked when he could hear us and sometimes when he couldn’t. My parents teased and bantered and bought hamburgers for everyone. It was nice.
If you’ve never been to New Mexico, I encourage you to make the trip someday. The light is different down here. I must not be the only one that feels that way as this little state has played host to so many big artists. A different moon is waiting for me here. It stands apart from the inked out sky in a way that my moon in Utah can’t seem to understand. Tonight as we motored along two lane highways I looked out the window and felt reassured by that soft bright curve in the sky. At one point, I turned to Viola to show her its shine, but she was already asleep. I wanted to cup the luminescence in my hands and give it to her when she woke up. Instead, I had to settle for the little bit that played across her cheek through the window.
When the car was so quiet and there was only an hour left to drive, the radio started playing Patsy Cline’s “Crazy”. I whispered the words in between my sleeping girls, Riley hummed along and my parents sang together in the front seats. The lyrics floated across the inside of our car and I wondered if Ms. Cline knew her voice would live on so much longer than the body made it ring. That voice and the moon and the people around me I would not lose for even an instant, not if I could find a way.
It was a little moment, small enough to fit in my pocket. But I fell into it and blessed the stars for allowing me the pleasure. And one more verse to sing all together.
we’re all heading on down the river. photo by the esteemable ansel adams
On Tuesday, my dad’s test results came back as well as we could have hoped. That means a high five, no more drugs and four and half more years of us holding our collective breath until he enters remission. We are grateful.
On Wednesday, one of Riley’s old college friends was sent home on hospice. After years of battling cancer, it’s metastasized beyond the means of treatment.. His oldest child just turned eight.
Right now, I am sitting in my basement as my babies sleep upstairs. They don’t know this part of life. The fairy tales tell Zuzu that death is healed by a kiss. She believes them. Sweet Viola hasn’t had to think one step past the hugs that wait for her every morning. I don’t ever remember feeling that way. As a child, I was always so afraid of death. Some nights I stayed up until the sun rose, because I was certain that once closed, my eyes would never open. I was a little neurotic even then.
My coping mechanisms have improved, but the fear stays.
I know what I believe. I know what I hope to believe. Mortality is the second act in an eternal play. There is life after this and it is challenging and gleaming and complete.Our souls exist apart from the faulty mechanics of our frail bodies. They live on. Death separates us from those we love momentarily. We are not left here alone by those have gone before us. The ministering of angels is a real gift bestowed upon those in need. Often, so brutally often, the answer to our prayers is “No”. That does not mean they have not been heard. It does not mean they have not been held. It does not mean they are not loved for their faith, devotion and simplicity. Zuzu’s understanding of life and death is not so different from the truth I have sewn about my heart. We will be brought forth after the temporary darkness. Only rather than by the power of a prince’s kiss, the reunion of our soul and body will be brought about by the power of the Prince’s blood.
Today hasn’t dimmed those star shined truths, but it sure as hell has knocked the light out of me. I can’t think of one damn good reason why a little girl should have to stand and watch someone bury her daddy. I can only think of his empty chair at the kitchen table.
In a few minutes, I’ll seek the comfort that waits. Until then, if you don’t mind, I’m just going to cry.
Tomorrow, I’ve got a serious post lined up. Today, we’re doing a giveaway.
Why the turkey not?
Listen. Thanksgiving is a little over a week away. If you are like me you are envisioning a picture perfect feast that would make Martha Stewart froth in envy. And, if you are like me, when Thanksgiving actually happens there will be two burned pies, one turkey that may or may not thaw in time and a bevy of children that seem to think the brussel sprouts they found in the fridge are really kind of smelly bouncy balls.
The last thing you need to be worrying about amongst all that mess is how your table decor is going to come together. Never fear…Meg is here. Now through Friday you can enter to win a free table setting package from Caravan Shoppe courtesy of yours truly. Yeah, just download, print and get ready to have the best looking place in town. My favorite is their Draw Together package. But listen, they’re all great and I want you to take your pick.
And I’m gonna make the winning real easy.
Ways to enter
1. Leave a comment sharing a favorite Thanksgiving memory
2. Like Caravan Shoppe’s Facebook page and leave a comment letting me know you “liked” it
3. Follow Caravan Shoppe on Instagram and leave a comment here letting me know you did it!
Giveaway will run until Friday night at midnight.