Bedtime Stories

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Tonight I felt lonely. It’s that strange, nagging loneliness that creeps up right in the middle of happiness. Scarring a good day with a bitter sense of emptiness. And sometimes it feels like it’s there for no good reason. I try to get as far from this feeling as possible. I swear I can feel my bones shifting under my skin, resetting the broken parts within. A prayer whispers inside.

Please.

I sit in bed, alone, while my husband tucks in our oldest daughter. I wait. Feeling like they are miles away. His voice floats from her room as he reads her a bedtime story. It awakens the better parts of me. I step out of bed and tiptoe closer, stopping just outside her room. The golden ember of light spills into the darkness of the hallway where I rest my weary body. I listen too. As he reads, his smooth variegated voice embeds itself into my heart. Deep into my soul. I ache with gratitude at the abundance before me.

Hallelujah.

Now I Know My ABCs

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Life undulates from fast to slow, too often spinning in a blur. I dwell in the timeless yet fleeting state of motherhood. Perhaps my daughter will remain as perfect and young as she is at this moment, but then I blink. She’s saying her ABC’s. I blink again. She’s naming the colors of the rainbow. I see her determination outgrowing the limits of her young mind and body.

Will I be good enough for her? Will she thrive? Will the world consume her? Just as I find myself swept up in the vastness of these thoughts, I look over to see my daughter sitting quietly with one her of books — feverishly shaking ground pepper onto it.

“Don’t shake pepper on the book,” I say. “You’ll make it sneeze.”

Mother’s Day

Mother’s day is such an odd holiday. I get it, but it doesn’t quite feel right. It induces such guilt in me. One, for being a mom when others can’t. And two, for having a mom when other’s don’t. These holidays often feel superfluous, like a sugar coating masking the discomforts of life. It sounds good, yet somehow misses the mark.


What does mother’s day feel like to the woman who doesn’t have her own children, but loves little ones for being just as they are? What does it feel like to the child abused by the woman who should protect him at all costs? Or to the man who is father, mother, friend, EVERYTHING, to his children?


There is value to celebrating mothers, but this saccharine, overly sentimental ritual doesn’t fully acknowledge what motherhood truly is. The Oxford English Dictionary defines mother as “a channel of grace, mercy, love…”


Grace. Mercy. Love.


Sometimes this is quiet, unassuming and other times it’s in-your-face bold. Tenderness, fierceness, bravery, vulnerability breathing deep within us.


Motherhood is Earth, Universe, God.  


It connects us all…and that is worth celebrating.

Lightning

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*My daughter was inspired by seeing me write and decided to compose her first poem, Lightning. 

As I lay in my bed,
I listen to the rain on the roof.

All I hear is Bump, Bump, Bump.
It starts to put me to sleep.

As the clouds wrap around me
like a blanket, I drift to sleep.

The clouds become lonely.
They want me to talk to them.

So they send a bolt of lightning to shoot in the sky.
I hear the Thunder, and wake up.

The clouds speak, saying they were lonely.
I tell them that we can see each other tomorrow,
in the day.

But the clouds cannot wait to talk to me.
So I say, try to go to sleep.
Drift off to your dreamland till morning.

It will feel fast.

As the clouds close their eyes, I close my eyes as well.
And we fall asleep.

Convergence

This pride of mine
cons me into comfort,
lounging around
stretching away regrets.

But this sin of mine lingers
like a contaminated heap of dishes
festering in the sink.

I want to forget that I am
fervently flawed.

I want to remember that I am
woefully made.

This soul of mine
whispering in the dark,
acquiesces to your enduring love.

Let Go

Dawn to dusk,
the constant visitation of pain,
searing into my temple.

This unwelcome guest lies in wait,
encroaching the crevices of my mind.

My hope rests in the hands of another,
skilled, precise, resolute.

Rid my body of this oppressive mass,
cast it off like a cheap yard sale trinket.

We watch and wait,
for a time that will never feel right

to let go.

 

Iced Tea

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Memories are an odd thing. If I really try to remember what a typical day was like, my mind forms a vague outline, but it’s full of gaps, and I don’t really trust it. I figure it must be getting its information from some ideal vision of childhood, not what actually happened. The moments that do stand out are small, singular, like islands scattered across the vast ocean.

I lived with my grandparents for a few years when I was growing up. Some of those times stand crisp and clear in my mind. The setting sun peaking through the shades, sharply casting drawn out rays across the room. Worn out from a day full of play and avoiding my pernicious sister, I dozed in and out of a late nap time slumber in my grandparents’ bed. The sizzling of onions sautéd, and the heavy smell of ground beef blanketed the house. Like the chime of a dependable clock, the confident melody of the evening news announced my grandfather’s arrival home from work. The day felt complete when my Poppy was home.

I loved his homecoming ritual. He set his lunch pail on the kitchen counter and kissed my grandma as she made him a towering glass of iced tea. It wasn’t fancy, far from it. Little brown dehydrated crystals laced with artificial lemon flavor. When she scooped the powder into the cold water, it never dissolved right away. She had to cajole it into submission as she rapidly swirled it into a icy brown whirlpool. My grandpa would grab the chilled glass with his tired, worn hands, sit in his recliner, and watch the news.

This was my cue to run up and sneak in a warm hug and kiss from him. Sitting on his lap, inhaling the familiar scent of machine grease and Old Spice, I would beg, absolutely beg, him for a sip of his ice tea. And despite the fact that he issued the same stern, “No” with each inquiry, I continued to ask him every single day. Perhaps it was hope that one day, he would let me have just one drink to commemorate that special place I hold in his heart.

Or perhaps it was simply pretense, because the moment he would slip off to use the bathroom or change out of his work clothes, I would race to that glass as fast I could and gulp down one satisfying sip of tea. Swiftly wiping my mouth to hide any signs of my crime, I would sit, angelic, waiting for his return.

I learned years later in my adulthood, over a dinner of tacos and margaritas, that my Poppy hated, utterly hated, sharing drinks with kids. The mere thought of it would make his face contort like he was hit with a stun gun. “Never,” he said. He would never let a child drink out of his glass. Not with their saliva, extra thick for some strange reason, and bits of crackers hiding between little molars waiting to launch a full-on assault into his pristine beverage.

That’s when I confessed, like a magician revealing his secrets. I slowly unveiled to him my devious plot to taste the forbidden tea every chance I got. His face soured, thinking of all those stray germs consumed over the years.

Then his eyes softened. He smiled in surrender, passed his glass over to me, and said, “Take a sip. This is a good margarita.”
**Tired from a bad night’s sleep, my original post was riddled with typos. I apologize. I hope it didn’t take too much away from the reading experience. I think I’ve caught them all now and have since updated this post.**

Be Still

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I’m tired. I am so tired. I lay my head down to rest.

I dream of laughter. Smiles light up their eyes, cheeks blushing with happiness. My daughters are full of fire, pulsing joy, hope, anger, frustration, like a supernova.

I am exhausted and exhilarated with each moment as mommy. This is not what I expected. My dreams were small compared to this.

I hold them close. They look to me for hope and strength, even though I am afraid too. I am their anchor.

I breathe in their hurts,
I breathe in their struggles,
I breathe in their worries,
   and I exhale love.

Be still.

Gift*

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Remember…we are neighbors. Whether you are a friend or a stranger, the one thing I know is that YOU are a gift. Each person has something unique and special to offer. A part of you that will change the world, whether big or small, but will change it nonetheless. It may sound cliche, but it cannot be said enough, as so many of us are notorious for undervaluing ourselves. We sell ourselves short, we settle, or worse, we keep ourselves hidden away in shame.  

In this world, there are definitely people who are not a gift. They are more like a heavy burden or cruel joke. But think about them for a second. Whether it’s someone you know personally or not, whether it’s someone who’s hurt you or not. Strip everything away. All the mistakes, all the self-absorption, all the hangups, and think about what is left. Sometimes it’s just a shell, or perhaps there is hardly anything salvageable left, but the gift of life is or at least was in there. It’s important to acknowledge those who are lost, as they are part of the story too. Even deep within them, there is a gift waiting to be shared.

But right now, I want you to spend time looking within.

You are a force, you are an experience, you are a gift. But what makes you a gift? What did you do to become a something special for this world? It’s really rather simple. You’re you! Our souls are the great equalizer. Remove the external limits and inequities, and we find who we really are. One of a kind, destined for hope.

Now there is someone I greatly admire who deeply believed in the gift of others. He was a quiet, kind gentlemen some of you may have heard of, Fred Rogers. He’s best known from the popular children’s program Mister Rogers Neighborhood.

He taught his viewers, young and old, that they were brave and strong, creative and imaginative. That they are special just the way they are. He helped children dealing with worry and stress over divorce, conflict, and violence. He reassured them that their curiosities, fears, and feelings were ok. He reminded us all that we have value. We are gifts.

Mister Rogers’ final goodbye to his viewers aired in 2001. He died of cancer only two years later. And though his legacy continues after his passing, it’s been awfully quiet in the neighborhood. Who will fill his shoes and dawn that soft, warm sweater to tell others, “I like you just the way you are”?

My dear neighbor, it is up to us. It’s a gift I hope to give to you, and one that I hope you will share.

But also know, it’s important to remember that being a gift is not to be confused with inaction. Remember, love is an action. You must cultivate, tend to, and let blossom those special qualities, skills, and talents, that make you who you are.

Think about a time when you have given of yourself, and the impact was far greater than you anticipated. It could have been a hug when someone really needed it, being vulnerable in front of others, or advocating for social justice.  Or you may be wholly unaware of your impact.

I know there have been times I had no idea how I helped someone until they opened their hearts to me to tell me. And sometimes we may never know. You have impacted this world. I’m sure of it, even if I don’t intimately know all the ways in which you have done so.

And just as important as it is to GIVE love, it is equally important to receive. To accept kindness and support from others, to receive their gifts with gratitude. In the spirit of Mister Rogers, I’d like to share a moment with you that he has with many others. Would you pause along with me to think about the people who have helped you become who you are? Those who have cared about you and who wanted what is best for you in life. Whomever you were thinking about, how pleased they must be, to know the difference you feel they’ve made.

And know that somewhere, whether past present or future, someone is holding you in their heart and mind, for being just the way you are.

*This post was adapted from a my TEDx talk “You Are a Gift, featuring the Wisdom of Mister Roger” given on April 28, 2017. 

©anchorsofhope

Knit Together

Quiet, stillness, calm…Silence.


It is full of paradoxes. Gentle yet strong, signaling acceptance or resistance. It can imprison and set free. It can be lonely yet comforting, residing in a broken heart or warming an embrace.


It is a vessel for love, fear, grief, joy. Silence is strong and powerful, a source of life and place of renewal for the spirit.


We are knit together in its secret womb. Silence ends when our lives begin, as we let out our first cries. Then death marks the beginning of silence, as we release our final breath. 


It is the universal language, vast enough to hold us all.

©anchorsofhope

home.

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I thought I knew what home felt like. Sure there were happy memories, but they were always plagued with uncertainty and worry. Sometimes you realize it wasn’t nearly as bad as it could have been, but that it certainly wasn’t good either. Almost enough to tear you apart, yet you look down to find your heart, woven together in the depths of the earth, carrying you through it all.

But home…that place called home. This far off fantasy of arms to run into, of cozy comfort on a rainy day, of sharing my deepest flaws and still being loved. I longed for that.

I found it the first time we laughed, the first time he held my hand, the first time I cried in his arms. It was there, waiting for me. It was there, just for me. Better than anything I had imagined; more than I thought I ever deserved.

And it is real. The laughter, the joy, the heartache…Real, whole, unconditional love.

I’ve come home a thousand times since. Joyful, content, weary, scared, ashamed. Throughout the seasons of life, home stands strong. It’s always there.

In his heart.

In his heart.

It is — His heart.

Sunset

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I can pinpoint memories in the sky, experiencing my past as I watch the clouds hang across the amber horizon. Sometimes I see pain layered between the them. Life was hard even though the sky was beautiful. I can see the time I ached to live closer to my mom after my parents divorced. I can see when I sat stunned that death could come so abruptly. I can see the times when I felt like I wasn’t good enough because, no matter what I did, I couldn’t save people from themselves.

Then the light shifts, my eyes adjust, and I see the peaceful moments. When I wondered if the man I would love was under the same sky or when I held my daughters close to my chest. The clouds have been my home, anchoring my past, present and future selves to each other. The sky is witness to joy, indifference, atrocities. Look up. We are closer than you realize. The sky is there, measuring, watching, witnessing it all.