I love your heart.
It’s bigger than the moon.
It’s grander than Time Square.
It’s wider than a drive through Kansas.
It’s one of the most beautiful things on earth.
It was made to love you first,
but sometimes you give it away to other people,
thinking you’ll take care of you later.
That’s a bad idea.
Apply the magic of your heart
to your own scars first.
Then, you’ll have your own heart longer
and you’ll be able to love others greater.
Be selfish with your heart
as long as you need to
my heart will always be here waiting
for yours to come and play.
I started writing this for my husband. He teases that he is going through emotional adolescence right now. He is. It’s not always fun being a teenager, and his emotional phase doesn’t come with Friday night parties and summers at the beach. Dangit. However, I can’t wait to see the guy who emerges. I guess I’ve been married to an emotional child for almost 20 years without even knowing it.
I’m so proud of my man and the hard work that he has done to get in touch with a buried heart. It’s scary to stare at yourself in a mirror. It’s horrifying at times. It’s the hardest work any of us will ever do, and he does that hard work for me, and me alone. He makes me feel important with his journeying. He’s wandering through the Sahara only to reach the Artic…just looking for his heart, so he can give it to me. Sometimes, I hate the journey and wonder why it has to be so hard. Other times, I see peeks at gloriousness. I feel lucky. Even though we have had so much to learn, we’ve been privileged to learn it together.
I changed the way I wrote the poem to not be just for my husband. It’s for everyone because we all should have the high honor of someone loving us just for our heart.
Thank you Mindy Gledhill for a beautiful song.
In all the vasts of nothingness
she cannot perceive a thing
though she strains her eyes.
It seems dark is sovereignty.
Blackness rules mighty.
Positive she’s a lone piece of refuse
discarded among the night,
She strains for strength
unaware of adorations from afar.
A drop of water fosters.
A breeze bolsters.
Anamnesis drives her forward.
A glow appears
creating a well-lit footprint
as she crawls, then walks.
Another clasps her hand.
they learn to run and dance.
The two will bond a galaxy
of their very own.
And they will be a sun.
They’ll send stars
into the night.
she’ll christen them with tears.
And he’ll whisper in the wind.
I finally got out on the backpacking adventure I’ve always wanted. No children were allowed. It was just me and a bunch of other writers out on a wilderness writing retreat. Heaven, right? It was pretty awesome. It was also very enlightening. I learned something I never thought I would. I wrote a poem about it. Enjoy.
Quaking aspens, beaver damned streams, limitless ridges to crest.
I explore for miles striding toward emancipation.
Hiking boots and pack on my back
Far from there, I thought my treasured prize awaited
but I’m now without my heart to feel it.
I left you behind, beating alone at home.
Starting from the northern farms
we explored through lakes, slopes, goblins, dunes, and redrock
All in the furrows of our skin.
Toiling year after year,
we seldom traveled from home,
but we forged our wonders of the world:
a waterfall for brides, endless flats of salt, a delicate arch of fame, an overflowing natural spring, and Timpanogos strong.
It’s been our rightful pleasure.
All my best adventures have been with you.
The lamp illuminates my filthy fingers
As I cry over your absence, I ponder on yours clean.
I nestle into the polyester grey
With nowhere to rest my bending knee.
Your ribs must be lonely too.
I’m a nightly stampede away from our final departure
Scared and astounded
Freedom is not here like I thought it’d be
It’s in the safety of your arms
You are my high Uintah view, sailing of the salt sea, maiden pioneer trek, and every scenic slope.
Wild stallions, overflowing mountain falls, orchards aplenty, and ample trout
Are all hiding in the comfort of our bed.
You’re everything I need.
Before I laid here, thinking only of you,
Searching unsuccessfully for your smile,
She said I know what matters as we spoke around the fire.
I now know it is not here.
I cannot be free anywhere you’re not.
The 50 shades of gray is what everyone is talking about this Valentine’s Day. Most people seem to hate it for a bunch of reasons I really don’t care about. I did find it funny when my 11-year-old daughter said to me, “I asked dad what the 50 shade of grey was about. He said it’s about sex. He also said it’s pornography for women.” Ha ha ha.
I came up with my own list of fifty shades. They have nothing to do with the book but everything to do with me and my man. (You can quit reading if you want.) This post took roots while I was in the bath tonight. Imagine my surprise when I took my phone out to photograph the source of inspiration (my wedding ring) and found this staring back at me. Oh, I know it’s got gray written all over it. Don’t get too offended.
So in honor of the holiday that celebrates love, here is my list of 24 grey things that remind me that I am loved. I don’t know how it works in the book or the movie, but if I can come up with a list of 24 grey things from ONE day that remind me of the love I share with my husband it’s pretty certain that I can never really do it justice with my words. That’s real love, no pornography needed.
1. My white-gold wedding band scraping against the bottom of the tub symbolizing long-standing commitments.
2. The silver change he rummaged from the car ashtray to pay for the kids’ hamburgers.
3. The squeak of the chair-leg as he pulled it under the dinner table.
4. The foil-wrapped butter packet he handed to me for my bread.
5. The metal front door of our home closing as he left to go on his almost weekly trip to the Dollar Tree with two of our daughters just because it is one of their favorite places to go and spend their allowance.
6. The scrape of our bedroom window sliding across its track as he opened it as we went to bed tonight. (And then he didn’t complain as I closed it ten minutes later.) The constant battle of temperatures is just one small way we always work it out.
7. The sound of the water coming out of the silver kitchen faucet as he made the baby a bottle today.
8. The tap of the grayish keys on his silver keyboard of his laptop as he did the budget.
9. The grayish keys again while he worked on the spreadsheet he created our kids to track their fundraiser profits.
10. The zipper on the diaper bag as he fetched out the baby’s anbesol to relieve teething discomfort.
11. The stainless steel frying pan hitting the stove eye as he cooked his own breakfast for the millionth time even though he’d prefer for me to do it.
12. The flaps of the grey comforter of our bed as he pushed it away from his hot body onto my not so hot body. (Yes, we do this every night – rain or snow.)
13. Seeing his hand hold the silver-ish door open for the strangers at the restaurant tonight.
14. Catching a glimpse of his beat up Honda accord that is goldish in color with silverish patches of wear as I drove off in my way-nicer silver Honda Odyssey today.
15. The jangle of his keys as we ran errands together this morning.
16. The sight of him putting the dingy gear-shaft into reverse so he could watch me approach a stranger’s door from the best possible angle.
17. The grey t-shirt he changed out of before we went to dinner because it was stained with baby spit-up.
18. The watch he carefully put on his wrist because he makes do with it after I mistakenly bought him the kind with the stretchy band for Christmas. It yanks out all his arm hair and snaps at his skin when detracting.
19. The sound of the dishwasher hardware unclasping as he retrieved dishes from it.
20. His dark-grey shorts with the belt loops that are starting to come unattached. He’s been wearing them for at least a decade and I’m sure he will for a decade more. He likes his comfort. He’s frugal. And he doesn’t care.
21. His pewter razor that he uses every day.
22. The stubble on his face at the end of the day.
23. The posts of the perfect-sized pearl earrings he bought me to show his love and the posts of the ones he bought two years ago that were just a tad too big.
24. The stainless steel wedding band that I haven’t seen in a while. It’s probably lost along with the three others we bought at Mount Rushmore seven years ago and the three others he had before that.
What do you want to bet it’s lost?
And what else do you want to bet that it doesn’t matter. After 17.5 years of marriage (today is exactly 17.5) if I’ve only learned one thing it’s not about the ring. It’s not about the shades of grey. It’s about the love.
Oh, and I just asked him about the ring. He said, “It’s not lost. I never wear it anymore, that’s why it’s not lost.”
Love people. It’s all about the love.
When I die the most important thing I would want to say to my family is “I love you and I’ll see you on the other side.” If I was allowed more than one sentence I would probably elaborate on my wishes for them to live good authentic lives.
I would tell them how I hope for their happiness, and I would tell them I would regret not being able to be there for them physically in their times of sadness. I would want them to know that if I can negotiate something with God, I will and I will always be right by their sides watching over them until we are reunited.
The song “Smile” from Charlie Chaplin’s 1936 movie Modern Times is one of my favorite songs. (Did you know the lyrics were added later based from themes and scenes from the original film?) This song brings back a lot of good memories for me. LG gave me some Happy by Clinique perfume for one of our first Christmases together. It came with a CD full of happy songs. We used to lay in bed together listening to the CD. When “Smile” came on it always seemed so appropriate. Those were really happy times, some of my favorite from my entire life.
However while re-listening to this song recently I discovered how the message of smiling when you are in pain is just kind of screwed up. I thought about Michael Jackson and Judy Garland (both have beautiful renditions of this song – go ahead – hit their links) and how their lives came to tragic ends way too soon. I thought about how they both may have lacked the emotional intelligence and/or support they needed. Maybe nobody ever told them it was o.k. to cry? I wish I could have helped them somehow and see them die in happiness, not out of their desperate attempts to escape.
Crying is an important part of life. Without times of sadness we wouldn’t know how much to treasure the times of happiness. We don’t have to run away from sadness. In fact I’ve found trying to run from it makes things much worse. Sometimes we just need to take time to process our emotions. We need permission to cry in our pain. Everyone should have someone in their lives that will just hold them while they cry.
I’m thinking about the pains I’ve experienced in life. They have been my very best tutors. Not all my days have been spent smiling while laying in my bed with my husband. In fact, I would say that I’ve probably had a close equal amount of time laying in my bed alone crying over life’s sadness. (If you read my blog regularly, you know this. I often use this as a place to process a lot of my emotions.)
So, in short, what I am trying to say is. It’s o.k. to cry. In fact it’s as necessary as smiling is for your emotional health. So do both. When you are in the middle of either happy or sad, most of all, know that your life is worthwhile.
I changed the words of the song to reflect the healthier message.
I am not voice-trained so feel free to skip the video, I made it for my family. I love you guys.
Eighteen years we’ve been married. Time has dragged on forever on a lot of days, but just as many have flown by as fast as the family-pack is devoured by our hungry children on Taco Tuesdays. It’s been the best of times. It’s been the worst of times. As a wife, I gave myself an A+ for over a decade….I was oblivious to my own short-comings and blamed my man for
most all things wrong in our family. When things started getting more complicated we started marriage counseling and my perfect oblivion was brought to a screeching stop. Those darn psychologists always have a magical way of making people see the truth. And my magical mirror is harsh!! It took the best of professionals (and multiple ones, at that) to help me see the many ways that I had failed and continue to fail in my marriage, but I’m the better for it.
I read a poignant article the other day entitled “What Your Husband Really Wants” and it had my mind racing in and out of the many ways I’ve learned to give my husband what he wants. And just like kindergarten, everything I need to know I learned in marriage counseling.
Number 1 – He wants to be your hero. My husband wasn’t able to be my hero because my fierce independence and “I can do it myself” attitude never allowed him to be. Much of the time I would be running around the house like a tornado on its way to Oz all upset that once again he was sitting on the couch while I so desperately needed a break. How could he be so oblivious? Unbeknownst to me he was sitting on the couch because after many years of trial and error the genius of a man knew it was the safest place. He thought he was being my hero by getting out of my way when I really needed a hero to switch me places and take some of the responsibility off my spiraling shoulders. Well, in marriage counseling I’ve learned the hard way that if the queen wants a knight in shining armor, she has to let him be the king. If every time he tried to help, I bit his face off for something then he figured I would be happier if he was out of the way.
2 – He wants to be your lover. I feel like this is the area where I probably struggle the most. I don’t want to get into too much detail as I have to remember that this very post may be accessed by future employers and/or my mother-in-law. Let’s just say that it takes two to tango. I have learned that I am equally as bad at receiving as I am at giving undivided attention. Sure I can go through the motions and I have A LOT (ha!), but if my heart isn’t there then it is just as damaging to my husband as leaving him exiled on the couch. At one point our therapist gave us a “touching” exercise. We were to take 30 minutes each where the other would just touch us all over. We weren’t allowed to talk; we had to be naked. It totally wigged me out. It took this exercise for me to get in touch with a lot of real hang-ups I have….seventeen years later. My poor poor lover was constantly being rejected. This area is a real battle for me. I have learned that sex isn’t meant to be just physical but is best and healthiest when it’s emotional. It takes vulnerability to create true intimacy.
3- He wants to be your best friend. This is an area that has been our marriage’s saving grace. Since the very beginning my husband has been my best friend: I love being with him, I tell him everything, and he is the first person I call when I have good or bad news. I also know that he considers me to be his best friend, but as is true with all of my friendships, I have a lot of room for improvement. I am a horrible listener which makes connection very one-sided. My impatience is not helpful to either side of the friendship and my quickness to problem-solve and rescue instead of just supporting is hugely problematic. Here, it boils down to trust…I can be a much better friend when I trust myself to be a good friend and I trust my best friend to take care of himself.
4 – He wants to understand you. For a lot of women this is a problem because they aren’t willing to share their deep desires. Like me, they also aren’t forthright with what they need. I, in my great need to be understood, over-share everything with a hidden agenda of control. I’ve been let-down (by my own hypersensitivity and others negligence) in my life so much that I feel like I have to now control everyone around me so they won’t hurt me. “I love daisies, but they can’t be orange. For my birthday, here is my list…make sure #2 is just the right size. No, we can’t go there to eat, you know I hate Indian food.” Trust me, we could do this all day. I guess what I have learned the most here is that being truly understood trumps any manipulated derivative that he could offer. I’ve had to let go of control and accept what others have to offer. What is more important: that he gets me the right kind of flowers or that he knows I’m having a crappy day? That I get what I want for my birthday or that he loves me enough to buy me a present? That we go where I want for dinner or that he wants to be with me on a date?
5 – He wants to protect you. It would be interesting to hear my husband’s opinion on this one, but I think he would probably correlate this to what I’ve already said about letting him being my hero. If I am all suited up in body armor of my own making and I think I can wield a sword better than he can then what is there for him to protect? I don’t need to be weak to be protected, but I do need to be humble enough to let him stand next to me on the enemy line. At the very least I need to not stand across from him with my gun pointed in his direction. That’s figurative not literal, in case you are wondering about how necessary marriage counseling is for us. A healthy relationship requires an “it’s me and you against the world” mentality.
6 – He wants to make you happy. There are two things I’ve learned about happiness. 1- No one else can make me happy. 2 – I can’t make anyone else happy. People can however work together with others for mutual happiness. The fact that my man goes to marriage counseling with me is the best way that he has shown me how important my happiness is to him. I have learned how to be happy without him. He has learned how to be happy without me. Therefore WE have learned how to be happy with each other. My happiness increases as his happiness does and visa-versa. This makes me very happy.
7 – He wants to be himself. This is perhaps the trickiest of the seven. What should we do as human beings with inherent flaws especially when we are in a marriage? Is it really fair for my husband to be himself if being himself hurts me in some way? Is it fair for me to be overly critical (which I am) because that is just the way that I am? Yes, we want to be ourselves, but, yes, we should also try to improve – especially for our spouse. I remember well the day we met with my psychiatrist who was discussing the behaviors associated with my bipolar disease and the management of such behaviors. LG asked, “How do I know the difference between Alice being bipolar and Alice just being Alice? I married her because I love some of these things about her – even if they are bipolar.” That, my friends was the most romantic thing I had ever heard. I think back on it often. He loves me for me, even if me is kind of screwed up. I try to give him the same benefit of the doubt although I think he is better at this than I am. I have found that I am always the best at letting him be himself when I put his needs above my own and he has learned that I am better at overlooking his weaknesses when he lets me know his awareness of them and how he is working at fixing them.
So, there you have it: my cliff’s note version of three years of marriage counseling. Yes, it has taken me three years to work my way up from a big fat F to a pretty solid C, if I do say so myself. I can honestly say that my marriage is the best and worst thing that has ever happened to me. It’s the worst because that mirror it forces me to look in is so very harsh! It’s the best because when I look in the mirror and start to cry at all the flaws that I see in myself, my man has always been there to love me through it. It’s my honor and privilege (when I succeed at it) to do the same for him.
Why? Because the amazing man that is my husband LeGrand makes me happy. He is my protector. He gets me. He is my best friend. He’s my lover. He’s my hero.
I feel a song coming on:
I belong with you. You belong with me. You’re my sweetheart. I love you LG.
We just had Father’s Day, which means once again, I’ve missed the window of opportunity for this post to go crazy viral. Ha.
Ours was really low-key. LG sent his dad an e-book and I sent mine a gift-card to KrispyKreme. LG gave me just a $10 budget for himself and so I did what we do best – I let the girls each pick something at the Dollar Tree. (Don’t feel too sorry for him, with the leftover cash I bought him a new t-shirt and a bath loofah. The man loves to scrub!) LG ended up with not just a loofah and a t-shirt, but a Spiderman piggy bank, an FBI kit, a bag of bubble gum, and a jumping bean racetrack toy that Caroline just couldn’t give up for he Ninja set she knew that dad would have liked better.
I was on my feet all day Saturday and so when Father’s Day Sunday morning rolled around, this 28 week forty-year-old pregnant wife could not move. All the girls came and tried to coax me out of bed. “Mom, it’s father’ day!” but it just wasn’t happening. My body was done. So, what did LG do? He told them to leave me alone and got them all ready for church and gave me the morning to sleep. He’s a gem. A total gem.
We did lunch of grilled cheese and fruit (that I somehow mustered the energy to make) and presents later and LG never complained. In fact, he acted totally stoked with his Dollar Tree loot. Why? Because that’s what good dads do. And LG is the best. This brings me to the point of the post.
You know I read a lot about parenting. I could list you a million requirements of a good dad. I could then put a star next to 80% of the list indicating that my husband and the beloved father of my children has mastered the large majority. Yet, if I did that, he would still focus on the 20% he wants to do better. Because like any good parent, he wants to be perfect for his kids. He wants to give them the moon.
So, this post is for all the dads out there, like my amazing LG, who feel like they just can’t be enough.
I am here to make a final parenting declaration. No more books necessary.
The #1 (and ONLY) thing a SuperDad needs to do is keep showing up.
Tell your kids you love them and that you want to be there for them and do your darnedest to follow through.
My girls adore their dad. In fact they constantly tell me to be nicer to him. (I have work to do.) They think he is the bees knees. What does he do special? A lot. What does he do not so special? Even more than what he does special.
- He goes to work and hands over his whole paycheck for their needs and wants.
- He comes home every day after work.
- He helps them with their homework.
- He keeps loving their mom, even when she is impossible. Especially when she is impossible.
- He plays video games with them.
- He involves them in his marathon Netflix sitcoms. (Why does the library have to take so long to get us that Season 3 of Veronica Mars?)
- He takes them to the park to practice their batting.
- He fixes their bikes.
- He teaches them to cook the basics. They each have in turn mastered everything he can cook: frozen pizza, hamburger helper, mac-n-cheese, ramen, eggs, and pancakes.
- He shows up at their stuff: plays, concerts, games, church activities….everything.
- He takes them camping.
- He teaches them how to respect the electronics and tells them about all the latest technology.
- He has the hard conversations.
- He says he is sorry.
- He reads to them (and always falls asleep on the floor next to Caroline’s bed when it’s his turn because she always suckers him into staying with her.)
- He cheers them up, makes them laugh, and teaches them corny jokes.
- He gives them hugs and kisses.
- He prays with them.
- He reads scripture with them.
- He tells them to be nice.
- He compliments them.
- He lectures them incessantly about modesty.
- He lets them invade his personal space every time he sits down.
- He takes them on daddy daughter dates.
- He tells them that he loves them.
The best dads in the world lets his kids know that they matter to him in all the unspecial ways, but those ways become the special. The accumulation of his million little things scream 100% louder than anything special he could ever do just one time.
In a world of declining dads, I am so grateful for the father of my children who simply chooses to love. Every day. No matter how exhausting.
LG, I was just thinking it would be fun to plan for each of ours girl a really special first date with their dad when they turn 16. That way they can each have the perfect example of how to be treated. Then I realized, they already have that. They’ve had it their whole lives.
Happy father’s day to the best of the best.
And we know you only call me lady when you are rebuking me.
One hundred percent of my best memories include you Mr. Gold, I hope you know that.
LG and I received a great Christmas present from his parents.
We were able to attend a Christmas concert last night
by one of our favorite gospel/bluegrass groups The Lower Lights.
I was touched by their retelling and performance of I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote the lyrics after suffering two terrible Christmas seasons. First his wife was engulfed in flames and died from her burns, leaving Henry permanently injured as well. Second, Henry’s son, without Henry’s blessing, went to fight in the Civil War where he also received significant injuries to never be the same.
As Henry strolled down the street in despair the words of this poem came to him after hearing the church bells ringing. “If you haven’t had to endure a holiday season full of despair, then it’s only a matter of time,” the performer said last night. Then he added some sentiment that communicated the great privilege it can be to experience a Christmas where we are broken, humble, hurt, and down-trodden because it’s in those times that we can really see God’s hand in our life. Thus the last verse:
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail, The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men
As I listened again to this inspired Christmas hymn tears ran down my cheeks. I felt the power of one person’s faith. I got thinking of my brother’s family. My nephew passed away last May and my brother was just talking about how hard it is to celebrate the holidays without Braxton. I then thought of my friend Rosie who will be stuck in a hospital tending after Hyrum, her critically-ill special needs son, for Christmas as she was for Thanksgiving. I thought of Aimee who has had terrible health problems and is waiting for her entrance into the Mayo Clinic. I thought of several of my friends who struggle with a lifetime of hurt from the abuse they received as children. I thought of so many children out there dealing with the antics of their bitter divorced parents. Then I was flooded with the memories of many heartbroken wives who have lost their marriages because of their husband’s addiction. The friends who are valiantly trying to provide for their children in the midst of job loss and an unstable economy also came to mind.
There is so much suffering. I thought, “How does God handle it all?”
The answer came, “I don’t handle it, you do.”
Wait, what? I can’t handle it! Then the answer came further,
“No, one person cannot handle it, but everyone can do something.”
And all those somethings mean everything.
I’ve heard the bells. I’ve heard them so many times. I can’t even begin to count. I’ve heard them for me. I’ve heard them for friends. I’ve heard them for family. I’ve heard them by being served and I’ve heard them by being the servant. I’ve heard them ringing for strangers. I’ve heard them in the drop of a few coins in the Salvation Army buckets. I’ve heard them in so so many surprise packages on my very own porch. I’ve heard them in a Santa Claus across the country buying a trampoline for kids he has never met. They are ringing strong all over the world. Take a minute to really look for them….listen carefully. I promise they are there.
At this time of year you can even hear them in advertising.
The bells are so beautiful.
My wish for each of you this year is the gift to hear.
This one is dedicated to my hubby who loves his Sarah McLachlan.