I Carry Her Heart With Me

Ten months ago I made a mad rush north to Nashville to visit my great-grandmother, after receiving the news that she may only have days or hours left. She was turning 99, and I was honored and heartbroken to hold her hand and tell her I love her. I was also overwhelmed and joyful that she didn’t pass away. In fact, she seemed to have the life breathed into her with all of her family surrounding her. Continue reading “I Carry Her Heart With Me”

Miracles Happen When I Get Out of the Way

That’s been my reminder these past few weeks. (Getting out of the way.) I have a tendency when funk hits the fan to get in there. To stress. To get upset, in the very charming woe-is-me-Life-is-out-to-get-me kind of way. (Really, you should see me some time. You’d probably have a lot more compassion for your own bad days. I know, you’re all surprised. I may have some wisdom and mindfulness, but I also still have an ego to work with and she’s a tough nut to crack.) Continue reading “Miracles Happen When I Get Out of the Way”

Howling at the Moon and the Things Captured

A full moon, a super moon, sumer solstice, and the lead-up to Mercury Retrograde. Oh I was feeling it all. And this time I let myself go, let myself create a little #howlfest to sink into.

I circled with new friends and allowed tears to flow, even though they had no obvious source. I leaned in and trusted the cleansing process that I could feel was taking place.

Barefoot wine in a mason jar. Cheesy movies on the couch. Fire and marshmallows in our future. And I might just sneak out to Mama Ocean again. #howlfest

I rested. I drank cheap wine from a mason jar and watched stupid movies and was okay with that.

I drew myself in with my guys, disconnecting for the weekend, and allowing ourselves to head to a matinee, to laugh in the truck, to make new dishes, and read paperbacks I found in the laundry room.

Forming. #howlfest #drumcircle

Drumming to the changing of the guard. #sunset #moonrise #howlfest #drumcircle

I dove into a drum circle, and took place in the changing of the guards, the drumming to the setting of the sun and the rising of the moon.

Me and Big Mama falling in step together. #howlfest #djembe #drumcircle

I let myself go in the drum circle. I closed my eyes and stopped trying to play along and just played.

I got up and danced, not just around the circle, but in Mama Ocean. Jumping through her shallows, splashing through my inhibitions.

I talked to Mama Luna, and laughed with my man-child as we sunk into the soft moving sands and he gave up on trying to keep his clothes dry and I put down my camera in favor of my suit.

I body surfed with my guys, laughing again as the moon pushed us back toward the sandbar, and I got water up my nose, and didn’t even care.

And then there was this. And this photo does nothing to show the brilliance of Mama Luna or the magic of swimming beneath her with my guys. This goes down as one of my favorite days ever. #howlfest #fullmoon

I drifted in the calm waters, laying back while I soaked up the brightness of the moonbeams, gazing up at her, while my man and my man-child drifted next to me, while we talked, while we slowed down. While we just took it all in and created one of my favorite memories of all time.

"I would rather be happy than dignified." - #Bronte #howlfest

There are some things you take photos of not because you think you can capture the moment, but simply to give you a glimpse of what you captured in that moment.

This weekend was one long stretch of those moments.

Hello Life, My How You’ve Grown

Dappled. My #widn is really more of a #wiwdt since I'm driving now and this photo is cooler than the glove compartment.

June 2nd marked the longest we’ve ever been in one place since we’ve traveled. (I’m totally not counting the months we were in Vegas upgrading rigs.) We’ve now been in this spot for two and half months. In this area for 4 and half months. In this state seven and a half.

No, I don’t consider us off the road yet. Yes, I realize I’m being stubborn. 😉

We’re still in the RV. We’re still not making any real plans.

We’re only looking day-by-day. Today, tomorrow, maybe this week, a little into next month. We’re open. Open to the idea that we have no idea. Open to the experience of Whatever This Is. Open to be directed through it all, just flowing with it, a little Lazy River of Life right now.

The synergy has been tremendous. Tree. Men. Duss.

It’s like planting these seeds in our little RV Garden. We pushed them down in the soil, and then we waited. Hours, then days, even weeks went by. We questioned how we planted them, if we were nurturing them properly, even what it was we had planted. And we kept watering and watching and waiting.

Destined for the smoothie. #green #localfood #rvgarden

I had little idea when we planted ourselves here in FL what the hell we were watering or watching for but it’s just beginning to poke through. At first it looked a little like what we’ve been calling weeds and I had to call about a lot of patience (our monthly Guiding Word in the Sisterhood for June) to not pluck it out of the ground right then and there. But instead, we watered and watched and waited for it to grow, to see what it would become.

And it became clear pretty early on that this space is not really about me (ahoy! what a novel idea!). This space, from what I can see, is Justin’s space. His turn. He’s taking on challenges he only just told me he couldn’t handle 3 months previous, and with an expertise and a hunger and a certainty his quieter nature is not accustomed to. He first took on a job that he knew would be fun and challenging, then received a promotion that would be more challenging than fun. Now he’s got a fancy title, his own business cards, a work van and a voice in a company that is teaching him to embrace his gifts and strengths and sharpen the duller edges of his axe to match. He’s got a roadmap and a stepping stone and bigger things to come.

He was waiting at the door when I got home. #turtle

My role has been to hold space, to support, to ground, to bear witness, to stoke fires, and to send him out into a whole new world with a lunchbox full of affirmations and iced coffee. Life hasn’t ignored me though. It’s sent me spiritual teachers and new friends and the very thing to that will enable me to be patient: community to tend my own fires and reminders of what I get to do myself. His being “at work” has given me more space to do my work here and elsewhere, to delve into creative projects, and tweak and finesse the things that need tweaking and finessing. I’ve had time to do more in less hours (how the hell did that happen?).

It’s not without puzzles. Justin and Zeb still haven’t found their community yet, and that’s something we’re ready for. The dance between home and not home is still resulting in a few bumped toes while we work out the subtler aspects of timing and pace and oh yeah, there’s a grocery store to get to today. And the “stuff” accumulates the longer this RV stays in one spot.

Perhaps the ONLY sane response to a deluge is to go splashing through the puddles it creates. #surrender

But I can’t say there is anything off, anything “bad”, anything that isn’t working. Even the heavy rains…they seem crucial, necessary, a needed part of the operation of whatever this will show itself to be. They seem integral to what is to come. The deluge to infuse the growth. And they keep create these warm puddles of laughter to go stomping through.

It all looks and feels and IS exactly wonderful, even if I’m not quite sure if it’s going to be complete in 2 months or 2 years. I don’t feel like I’ll live here forever, not even for a long time. But the definition of “long time” is slowly morphing in my mind, and my fears are turning into jokes as we laugh about not really living here, even though we kinda do.

How we rock a date night. Wagner style.

We’re just Here for now. And when it’s time for Here to change, we’ll find ourselves in another Here. And until then we’ll keep plucking caterpillars off our tomatoes and having date nights at the water park and surrendering all those ideas that any of this means anything other than All Good. Because it could all change again in an instant, as Life is prone to do, but that doesn’t mean anything more than another Right Here, Right Now.

Don’t get me wrong. All the ingredients are here for a This Sucks recipes. But it’s just not what I’ve been cooking. So it’s good. It’s just all really, really good.

13. Snorkel with an underwater camera (video – and an added bonus)

I feel like I’ve been blowing through my 31 Things list. I haven’t really, but I have been working through it at a steady pace.

But #13? Oh yeah baby. Simply. Amazing.

We swam with #Jesus! Apparently that walking on water trick didn't work out so well for him here.  Can't wait to share all the video we took. @justinplayswithballs even swam with a school of fish. #epic #bucketlist #thebigchill13 #keylargo #pennekamp #chr

One of my favorite pics of the day. It's the simple things after all. #bubbles #underwater #snorkeling #mamaocean #ocean #water #blue #turquoise

Captain Zeb. #boat #ocean #diving #snorkeling

We couldn't go out with the entire crew! @heathermattern @calebabc  You guys were totes there! #thebigchill13 @caylaanngirl @bluesparklejoy @Isaiahchasingdanger

I can’t describe what it’s like to be doing things I never saw myself doing. It’s like trying to picture yourself as breaking mach speed…just not really on your radar until one day it is and you can’t believe you’re making it happen.

We went out in Key Largo, rented a boat from John Pennekamp State Park, and dove in with friends. Zeb didn’t stay for long – cold and wet and over-his-head are not really his thing.

It! Was! Amazing!

The reef was gorgeous and the fish spectacular, but what took me by surprise by the Christ of the Abyss statue. Many, many jokes were had at old Jesus’ expense, but to see it was still pretty wicked cool – way more wicked cool than you would assume.

I didn’t know how I would do snorkeling. My HSP nature makes a lot of things challenging, like cold water and strong currents that cause a sense of panic to seep in. My back and joints make it easy to hurt myself. Plus I’m just the right size to not be able to float but not be able to dive down easily either (I tend to hang just below the water – safe!).

But there comes a point in self-awareness when you can acknowledge these things about yourself and also acknowledge where you can ask for support. It’s a surprisingly sweet and wonderful point.

Enter Justin. Strong swimmer. Scuba certified. Tenderly compassionate when he understands what I need.

This man.  @justinplayswithballs

And he pretty much made me fall in love with him all over. He held my hand when the current was too overwhelming, grounding me with his presence. He pulled me through the water so I didn’t have to swim, so we could spend more time in the water before my body had had enough. He was by my side, pointing things out, making sure it was WE that had fun. He even helped me find a wetsuit a few weeks before so I wouldn’t freeze (as much).

It took us many years to get to the place of my being okay to ask for support and his giving it in the most amazing way (aware of my limits, not pushy too much and not letting me quit too soon). I’ve gone through periods of just sitting out, periods of wanting to join and wanting help but wanting him to anticipate my needs, periods of refusing all support and fighting with the reality of what is my body and its limitations.

It was kind of a wakeup call when I realized just how blessed I am to have a man who is so tender, so gentle, so eager to give. (So sexy doesn’t hurt either.)

It’s been a lesson in love – self-love but also love for him – to lean on him more.

So not only was #13 on my 31 Things list a totally amazing experience. It was a deep reminder of who this amazing man is.

 him. I would've drown out the today. Instead I had a blast. Every time I asked him to help he was there to make sure we both had fun.  @justinplayswithballs #ocean #diving #snorkeling #keylargo

Oh! And we took video! Cuz that was kinda the whole point of #13 – to capture some fun stuff. ♥

And An Added Bonus

This one may not have been on my list, but when Zeb and I got here and saw the parasailing we made a pinky-swear with one another to make it happen before we left the Keys.

And today, just him and me, we made it happen.

Best Mother-Son date ever.

Getting ready for parasailing!

This totally happened! #parasailing #keylargo #ocean #zeb

Capturing this was the best part. #zeb #parasailing #keylargo #ocean #smile #joy #fun

So much fun! I wanted to never come down. #parasailing #keylargo #zeb #laugh #smile #joy #flying

 him. #zeb #parasailing #keylargo

#Rainbow in the #sky. #colorful #keylargo #parasailing #sun

It’s late January and I hope your New Years dreams and lists are still going strong. ♥

And It Shall Be Known As The Big Chill

We met and connected instantly with the Paul family and the Mattern family back at Wide Sky Days in September. Justin and I invited them to join us in January in the Keys. We weren’t sure it would come together (because how often do such things ever pan out with three busy lives?), but it did.

It may have taken us 3 hours to decide but our time together came to be known as #thebigchill13.

(You can see all the photos on Instagram with that tag).

I can’t even begin to describe how amazing it is to call these families our friends, to see our kids connect, and to have so much fun. So different in so many ways, so very much the same, all with a total love and appreciation for one another. The sheer amount of laughter, depth, fun, and support we shared with these incredible people is beyond my wildest dreams.

(Like seriously? This is my life? Every detail is one I never thought could be mine.)

I’ve sat here staring at this screen, trying to communicate what these two women mean to me, what these two families have given us in such a very short amount of time.

I can’t.

So you’ll get the photos instead.

(Oh, and be sure to catch the video at the end!)

Chilling. #thebigchill13 @heathermattern @calebabc @melimae79

More #artjournal with @melimae79 #thebigchill13

So this just happened. Took a shrimp right out of my hand. #Crane

Messy is a part of every beautiful process. #artjournal @heathermattern

Cheers to #thebigchill13 #keylargo #florida

Sunset with @heathermattern @melimae79 @justinplayswithballs @mrcliffy06 @calebabc

@melimae79 @heathermattern and a photo bomber #keylargo #florida

Sunset #thebigchill13 @melimae79 @mrcliffy06

From the Turtle Hospital #thebigchill13 #turtle #seaturtle #iguana

Me and Zeb courtesy of @heathermattern #thebigchill13 #snorkeling #ocean

Me and Zeb #snorkeling #ocean #thebigchill13

Dinner with the sunset. Missing @heathermattern #thebigchill13

Saying Our Goodbyes

How did it all come to an end?

Like this. 🙂

All I Want To Do Is Be With Him

Love this man.

It’s not like I DON’T have work to do. Oh, I do. I’m starting on turning the Mastermind into my business handbook, and have some new systems to figure out and put in place, and about 986593298739237 blog posts replaying themselves in my head.

But the only thing I find myself fully showing up for right now is emails and clients.

And my husband.

Zeb’s only been gone about 5 days.

And this isn’t his first trip without us.

But something feels different. Like we’re two kids in love again. Exploring the world together. Exploring each other.

We know Zeb is in good hands and having a blast. We’re not worried about him like we were last time.

I guess that’s what feels different, why we’re able to relax and breathe and enjoy one another so much more than last time Zeb traveled without us.

We’re not worried, so all that’s left is love.

Love to Zeb when we talk to him about his adventures and plans. Love for each other, to just be together in peacefulness.

There’s a bit of guilt there, for both of us.

Shouldn’t we worry more?
Shouldn’t we miss him more?
Shouldn’t we be miserable without him here?

But he’s having a blast. So we’re free to have a blast, too.

It’s like that phase of our relationship we didn’t get to experience. Just the two of us. And in the quiet space, the stillness, the intimacy…we’re remembering what it’s like (discovering what it’s like?) to just be together.

So I’m getting nothing done. Er, well…I’m not getting any work done I should say. 😉

Instead we’re just being together. Shopping together. Watching movies. Cooking together. Walking the dog. Going to the beach. Reading together. And lots of making love.

All we make is love.

Sending Him Off Again

Saying "See Ya Later" to your kid is weird.

Zeb is flying to visit family for a few weeks again (we will meet him there for Thanksgiving). Oh and we found his first chin whiskers. Much fun was had by all.

Zeb left yesterday afternoon, heading to Vegas again for an extended visit with family and friends. We’ll meet him there before Thanksgiving, and for my little sister’s wedding, which means we have three weeks to share together – just Justin and me.

It’s still weird, having a teenager who has a life beyond yours.

Does that part of parenting ever get less weird? I’m told it doesn’t.

I suddenly understand this quote so much better now:

Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. (Elizabeth Stone)

He suddenly has memories that I don’t share, details that I’ll never know, conversations with strangers on a plane that I’ll only wonder at, trivial moments of his life that are only his, not worth sharing or even knowing but still taken for granted as a mama that you’ll be a part of.

Goofing off before his flight. I rarely capture his real smile.

Heart these men in my life.

He's cool beans, this one.

At the same time, it’s really cool.

It’s amazing to see photos of him towering over to his grandma, to call him at night and chat casually about his flight and his plans, to see how much he swells with a subtle sort of confidence and pride, responsibility and excitement.

It’s a little like all our efforts in parenting are materializing, but we don’t get to see it. 😉

Justin and I were talking about what it will be like when he’s flown the coop.

What will we do with ourselves? Will we be bored? Will Justin drive me crazy without Zeb to play with or pick on? Will our lives change radically, and if so, in what direction?

It feels as though trips like Zeb’s are good for us, Justin and me.

It’s like practice for having our heart walking around without us, a piece of our trio and also a piece of our hearts off doing his thing for the long-term someday. We’ve never been just the two of us, without Zeb (Justin was a late arrival into our family).

It’s an interesting role to play, this couple (instead of trio) thing.

So we’re playing it up. We’re doing all the things couples usually do before they grow their family. Or at least the things we imagine they do.

It’s weird, like I said, to have this big empty space where his energy used to be. But it’s life too, to eventually have my heart off living his life. And it’s incredible for him, just like I was saying before. So we may as well get with the program, reign in our desire to hound him, and make the most of it for us too.