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The Me Too movement is, well, moving. Gretchen Carlson, the woman who came forward regarding Fox News Executive Roger Ailes, was interviewed today and talked about how her decision to use her voice has given other women the courage to use their own voices in coming forward, leading to the downfall of Harvey Weinstein and eventually to women globally finding their voices to stand up for themselves. Safety in numbers. It is a beautiful thing, these women coming forward through the strength they have found thanks to the brave vulnerability of others. I still wonder how they can be so brave. I worry. I worry about what people would think. I worry about my parents feeling pain on my behalf. I worry.
Michael Phelps was on Megyn Kelly today. He was sharing how he struggles with depression and anxiety, and he is participating in a documentary to help others with their struggle. Another brave spirit, coming forward in transparency. A man who has been called perfect, with his record setting gold medal wins, letting us all in on his imperfections.
It has been on my bucket list, ever since I first saw Glennon Doyle Melton on SuperSoul Sunday and read her book Love Warrior, to be this fabulously transparent, open and honest person. Anne Lamott does it quite well also, this ability to show up and be seen, unapologetically real. I want to be brave like that. Brave enough to be vulnerable and open before others without fear of reprisal, fear I will no longer be loved if they learn I am not perfect. (Which is kind of funny, because they obviously already know I’m not perfect!)
It’s kind of like the rest of my life, where my artist half conflicts with my Type A business woman half. My business suit is telling me to “shut up – fake it till you make it!” Meanwhile my messy smock, covered in paint and clay and all the things that get messy to create beauty, is telling me to stop hiding behind the wall of implied perfection and share my imperfect self so that I can give others permission to do the same.
I don’t know when or how I will figure out this whole transparently vulnerable thing. For today, I will just start with this: Me Too.
Recently I told my husband Danny I had decided to go back to school. I have this wonderful job that I love to the point that I had decided I needed more. More education. More growth in business. More status. More. I was determined, and no one was going to change my mind.
Then something amazing happened. It was July 12th, the eve of little Katie’s passing, and I found myself reading a post that I wrote on Katie’s birthday in 2014. That person who was writing from her enlightened state during that moment three and a half years ago taught her future self a valuable lesson: what is important in life? I suddenly realized that for as often as I preach it, it was time to start walking the talk.
There was an internal shift that was immediate. Everything changed in an instant. I knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that this fast train I had put myself on was heading in the wrong direction. I haven’t changed my mind about my job, where I have the opportunity to use my business brain to contribute in a collaborative environment and continue to grow both intellectually and emotionally. I love it and I am sure I will continue to for a long time to come. But it is enough to do all I can in that environment without having to commit every waking moment to more more more, to the detriment of my personal relationships and my creative self.
Even better, Danny is experiencing a similar shift that puts us both on the same train, heading in the same direction. We have talked for a long time about downsizing. How much do two people need? Do we really need a 3300 square foot, five bedroom three bath house for two adults and a morky? What price are we paying for thinking that we do? The need to work more, do more, make more, at the expense of time with our grandchildren and nieces, children and siblings and parents? The loss of time to focus on the creative energy that God has blessed us with? I know from experience that is not a price worth paying.
When Katie was sick I was unable to work for a year due to her need for around the clock care. The wolf rang our phone a lot during that year and the year that followed as we worked our way out of debt. It was an added burden to all the pain we were already suffering, but in the end, I would not have had it any other way. I thank God every time I think back to that time, that I made the choice to put her care above everything else. I have long since forgotten the ugly phone calls from bill collectors and the need to buy groceries on credit. In time our finances were back to being healthy again. What I will never forget is that I was able to spend every moment of her last year with her, and that is something I will always be grateful for.
It seems like yesterday. And yet, somehow, 24 years have passed since we buried Katie. A lifetime ago, and only yesterday. Life moves on, we learn to experience joy again, but when these final days before July 13th arrive, it is always the same. I am back in that rocking chair in 1993, holding little Katie for four days while her beautiful spirit slowly left the body that failed her. I can feel her leaning against my chest, smell her sweet smell. I was selfish those last days as our family surrounded us. I didn’t share her much. I wanted to hold her for every last minute that I could.
We all maintained a stiff upper lip at the funeral. It was too painful, too much to bear, to lose her after just 18 months. We couldn’t go there, so we didn’t. If I had allowed the enormity of the grief to break the glass I was erecting around my heart, I would have fallen. Literally. To the ground. And I knew if I let that happen I would never get up again. So we stood strong in our grief. Our friends and family did the same. To my surprise and pleasure, during this time when most people would arrive in funeral black, they all arrived adorned in pink. It was her color, and without my saying a word to anyone, they knew. These beautiful Christian women who loved me and had loved her knew exactly how to love and honor her. They all wore pink.
And now here we are, 24 years later. Our bodies’ inner psyches are the most amazing timekeepers. You can be going along, thinking life is grand, and suddenly you hit a brick wall and don’t even know why. Last night as I lay in bed it hit me. Oh. It’s that week. These are the days. These are the days I held my Katie during her final breathing moments. Ah. So that is why I am so tired and want to crawl into bed and avoid the world for a few days. Now I understand.
I am trying to make it different this year, to let this be a growth opportunity. I think now about the young woman Katie would be, and the lessons I would want to be teaching her if she were here. And I think about the lessons she is undoubtedly trying to teach me from where she is, if only I would listen. And I think about the life I have been given, the opportunities and talents I have been blessed with. And I wonder. Am I taking full advantage of all God has offered to me? What example would I want to be setting for Katie if she were here? What example do I want to set for my nieces? Am I striving for the things that are most important in this life?
On Katie’s birthday in 2014 I shared some thoughts about what’s important. As I read that post now, I wonder. Am I living my life and following my dreams the way I encouraged then, or am I still just going along with the status quo? When am I going to make that leap, if not now?
“When we cherish our dream and then invest love, creative energy, perseverance and passion in ourselves, we will achieve authentic success.” Sarah Ban Breathnach
I don’t have all the answers, but I will never stop asking the questions and listening for God’s whisper. Life is short, and I do not intend to die with my song unsung. Katie deserves to see better than that from her momma. And tomorrow, I will wear pink.
You don’t have to spend a fortune on new pillows to add a little Valentine’s spirit to your living room. With a Silhouette Cameo and an inexpensive pillow cover, you can create your own design inexpensively – then simply cover an existing throw pillow with the pillow cover until the holiday is over. Having just the cover with a holiday design makes for easy storage after the holiday too! Although I may decide to keep this particular one out all year long, since love is what we are about in our house!
If you would like a copy of my design, email me – I would be glad to share it! Shalom!
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