Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Enduring the Confinements...

Discontent is a tricky thing. It has the capacity to drive us forward, out of a potentially bad situation and into a better one. It also drives us crazy, making it nearly impossible to live in the present situation with any grace or finesse.

I should know. I've spent a fair portion of my life feeling discontent. Or maybe I'm just ADHD?

I know you're laughing right now. I am too. But it really is hard to distinguish between the "squirrel" phenomenon and a true heart that is always seeking new life and new challenges. I guess the line is blurred a bit.

We're getting ready to move. Again.

For those of you who have followed me for any length of time on my writing journey you know this isn't anything new. We've moved a lot over the last several years. And not just down the street, but big, sweeping, cross-country adventures. It's given me a unique perspective. One I wouldn't have otherwise and I definitely wouldn't trade, but the process does wear on you.

There's something about knowing you're leaving that makes you naturally focus on all the things you don't like about the current place you're in. It's what helps us leave I think - the promise of greener pastures - the leaving behind of that which is "old".

The same thing happens to teenagers as they get ready to graduate high school and look forward to college. Some call it "senioritis". That itch that makes you squirmy and unable to sit still until the year is over.

We're no strangers to transition. In fact, in the last year alone we've had a daughter get married and finish grad school, another daughter finish and graduate nursing school, a son get his permit and start driving, and another son getting ready to turn eighteen,  graduate high school and then prepare to go away to college. Now on top of all that - before summer is over we'll be moving - almost as far as possible, to the other edge of this beautiful country we call America. In fact, if we moved much farther we'd get wet...

And I've got senioritis. 

I like our house and our neighborhood, I love our community, and we've made some really great friends here. But my spirit is restless, and if I'm honest with myself it always has been. This passion I carry to be free and to fly with the wind is part blessing, part curse...

Amelia Earhart wrote a letter once to a man who had asked her to marry him. She was unsure about her ability to accomplish the commitment of a lifetime when she knew her heart so completely. She loved him, but was so brutally honest about her limitations... In the letter she wrote:

"I cannot guarantee to endure at all times the confinements of even an attractive cage."

I'm itching, yet conflicted. Confined and yet longing to spread my wings again and fly to new adventures. How do you live in the moment when you're in the midst of transition?

So much of this move is completely out of my control. I can't make any of it happen. I can't snap my fingers and complete house sales or dictate moving dates. But I am restless.

Maybe some of you know what I'm talking about.

Maybe you don't have quite as much chaos in your lives (at least, I hope not, for your sakes :) but you can certainly understand the excitement of living on the edge of change; the difficulty of enduring the confinements of a beautiful cage.

As wonderful and ornate and comfortable as a cage can be, it is always still a cage...and us birds? We were meant to fly free...

Lynda Meyers lives and writes - for the time being - in New York, but you never know where she's going to end up next! Good thing the Internet is stationary... sort of. 

Sunday, May 26, 2013

All Things New

On Friday I basically pulled an all-nighter, volunteering at the local high school's Keep The Ball Rolling event. It's intended to give high school students a safe, fun, drug and alcohol free "after party" for Senior Ball.

I was part of a team of over 75 parent volunteers who showed up at 10 pm and stayed until roughly 4 am. Local businesses get involved donating prizes and gift certificates, including actually cool stuff like TVs, iPads, Kindles, even a 2007 Toyota Camry!

I was the resident "nurse", which effectively means I sat in the nurse's office with a jump bag and played "just in case". In reality I brought my laptop and worked on some editing while talking with the various groups of my kids' friends who wandered in. A couple of the girls and I hit up the photo booth, ate lots of candy and in general had a really fun time. I genuinely love these kids, and since we're moving this summer, it was kind of bittersweet. 

It's the end of an era - but the beginning of a new chapter. They'll all be transitioning out of high school and into the next phase of their lives. This was one last chance to be a kid again. A chance to let go and have fun and wear a three foot tall balloon animal hat. 

So many of them will be heading off to college this summer, but it's been a privilege watching them grow into themselves these last few years. I have loved being a part of this wonderful community that is so supportive of their kids. Thanks for so many great memories, and for letting us share your lives!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Into Darkness...

My sons and I went on a date the other day. Dinner and a movie. We had a relatively healthy dinner at Panera and then went to see the new Star Trek movie "Into Darkness".

Interesting title. 

Could have been any number of movies. But Star Trek's log line (which I noticed was recently changed to become gender neutral) has always sparked my interest. This idea of venturing into the unknown - the discovery of new worlds, new life...it lights a fire in my heart. 

My dad always watched Star Trek when I was growing up - the original series - when Leonard Nimoy really was a young Spock. I can't tell you how many dinners I ate at a tray table while watching the Klingons battle it out with the Federation star ships. 

I didn't like it then, but I wonder sometimes how much the things we are exposed to as kids inform and affect our adult lives.

For some of us this journey into darkness is not a warp speed jump to the outer reaches of the known universe, but rather an inward journey that brings us to the edge of ourselves.

A long time ago I started out on what should have been a five-year mission that's  taken several unexpected turns. This journey has brought me deeper into darkness than anything I originally signed up for, if in fact we ever knowingly sign up for such a mission. 

It's not that I regret it. If we're all honest with ourselves, no one really wants to live a quiet life full of comfortable predictability - most of us are just afraid of the unknown. 

Still, space isn't the final frontier - we are. And once we've conquered that, the real adventure begins. Our eyes adjust, and we forge ahead.

Into darkness...

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Happiness Only Real When Shared...

It's a balmy 75 degrees on my deck this morning. The birds are singing and the air is calm.

I'm sifting through emails instead of rubble. Nursing a torn calf muscle instead of lying in a hospital bed.

Or worse.

I could be lying under piles of debris, wondering if I might die there before being rescued. If the beams over my head are framing my last church service.

Tragedy strikes most lives at one point or another. I'm not sure anymore if it matters when. I used to think childhood trauma was the worst thing that could happen to a person, because it taints your entire life from that point on.

Maybe that's true, but at least you have your dissociation to keep you company :)

Compartmentalization might just be the handiest tool in a child's tool box, and luckily it comes built in.

Having parented four children who are now nearly all grown men and women, I still fear for their lives daily. The simple thought of their imagined loss puts me in a state of panic. Real loss might be unrecoverable for me.

That's a parent's love. It comes built in too.

I guess you never know until you're there, in that situation, but watching the news is hard for me. It always has been. I feel others' pain acutely, as if it were my own. I slip into their shoes and I stumble through my day, realizing how precious life is, how important relationships are.

Sure, no one wants to live like Chicken Little. If we focus on everything that could go wrong it will paralyze us. We won't be able to live for today, go on that hike to the top of the falls, take that exciting job opportunity overseas, or whatever else might lead us along the path toward our destiny.

But make no mistake. At the end of the day, it's the people in your life who make it worth living.

Those people might be family by blood, or they might be family that comes into your heart because you live together, work together, hang out together, or survive a tragedy together.

Those fifteen children stuffed into the bathroom of a day care center in Oklahoma singing "You Are My Sunshine" will never be the same. And those teachers who sheltered them and saved their lives during the storm will be forever connected to them - to their families. Heros always are.

We tend to think of our fellow humans as a relatively selfish, pompous, hedonistic lot, but given the chance, people step out every day to help one another, to do the right thing, and to become everyday heros.

To help when help is needed most.  
To comfort when hope is lost. 
To love when love is all that's left.

The movie "Into the Wild" was also a tough one for me to watch, but I absolutely loved Christopher McCandless' spirit - his willingness to sell everything and embark on the adventure of a lifetime. Turns out that became his last great adventure, but that's kind of how great adventures go. You just never know.

In the end he learned something that has taught us all an incredible lesson, and his last written words will forever ring true -

"Happiness only real when shared."

Lynda Meyers is an author and blogger who sometimes gets incapacitated by the grief of others. I guess that's not such a bad thing. At least that compartment has a working door...

Sunday, May 12, 2013

My Happy Day...

Nate's here, making bacon. Jourdan just poured me some Peet's from a french press. The boys are still sleeping, as is everyone on the west coast. I don't have everyone here with me, but still - an omelet is coming my way. My kids know me.

I like mellow holidays, spent with family. Small acts of service are my love language. And there are two days a year when I don't cook: my birthday, and Mother's Day. This is not a big thing to ask, I don't think, after almost twenty-five years of marriage, four kids, thousands of meals and multiple holiday gatherings.

When the kids were little I made a big deal of birthdays and holidays. The older I've gotten, the more these occasions have been distilled for me, syphoned into their purest form. 

It's all about relationship. 

It's a different kind of Mother's Day, these days. There are no macaroni necklaces or yarn covered pencil holders (although if you've ever seen my desk I could probably use another one!) but when I think about the amazing individuals my children have become I am proud and humbled and in awe. 

I know this was not my doing. It had to have been some supernatural smiling of the universe down upon them, but they are literally my favorite people to hang out with. Not because I have to, because I'm their mother, but because they're deep and interesting and hilarious and sometimes irreverent and...well, I just dig being in their lives. 

Thanks for loving me, family. You know who you are :)

I'm the happiest mom in the world. 

Thursday, May 9, 2013

The Girl With Nothing To Lose...

I've always considered myself something of an "all or nothing" girl. When I played soccer people joked that I spent more time on my ass than I did on my feet.

That's what happens when you go for the ball 150%, every time...

You see, my dad never let us slack at a job or do it half-way. He would make us do things over a second and third time, not because they were done wrong, but because they could have been more excellent. He used to always say "a job worth doing is a job worth doing well." Otherwise, why bother?

Words to live by...apparently.

Not that this philosophy comes wrapped in roses with side of fairy dust - far from it. Still, I've never had much patience for people who sit on the fence and then whine about it.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

When The Lights Go Out...

It used to be easy.

The day-to-day seemed rich in metaphor and double entendre. Words flowed. Thoughts jelled.

I used to write about anything and everything. I could find life-altering truth in planting seeds or pulling weeds, doing laundry, watching dogs lay in the sun... all of it was somehow complex and meaningful.

All of it resonated at a depth somewhere south of where I currently live, and I don't mean geographically. I mean vertically, but in an inverse sort of way.

There was this sickening sense of superiority there... As if I knew something everyone else didn't, or I'd discovered some great truths that needed to be shared with the world. I felt justified in my word-filled creations, even validated by their depth and truth. At least, I thought it was truth at the time.

Maybe it was. Maybe it wasn't.

Maybe I'll never know...