Who or what are you “trying to love”?

Who or what are you trying to love?

But, of course, what is not said in this quote is how to bring into your heart this extraordinary thing called love.

How do we love the guy that flipped us off with our kid in the car?

How do we love the dog shit we found in our shoe this morning?

How do we love the cockroach that just crawled across our glass?

We don’t.

Notice Krishnamurti isn’t saying you need to do anything, such as “loving” someone or something. He’s saying you need to allow love in and then your experience of the world – including the other driver, the dog shit, the roach even (or so I’m told – yet to get there myself on that one) – will do the changing right before your eyes.

Who or what are you trying to love?

Why are you working from the outside in?

Is “filling our cups” conditional happiness for mamas?

True to the that. #yogi #tea #wisdom

I love all you women on the Tribe/Sisterhood forums. If you’re not on there, or not over there often, they’re all so beautifully deep and reflective and honest. The conversations that stem from those qualities are cup-filling for me, big time.

One such conversation was on that exact topic, “Filling Our Cups”, also the first module of the Organic Parenting e-course. This part of the course focuses on a part of the Digging Deep process that is based off of Nonviolent Communication. A really important and soul-stretching discussion was opened up on whether our attempts to meet our needs and create the elements that “fill our cups” can lock us into a form of conditional happiness…as in “I can only be happy when I get what I want”.

This was particularly thought-provoking for me:

I worry that I will become *dependent* on “getting my me-time” or whatever it is, for my happiness…instead of just learning to be happy in the moment.

I answered there, but wanted to share some other thoughts here too, as it’s been on my mind.

I wholeheartedly concur with the part of NVC that states the way we feel is based on our needs being met. In other words, yes…we are dependent on our needs being met to be happy (although never dependent on how). But then there is the spiritual practice of radical acceptance, finding peace within the moment, surrender to was is deeper than our needs, what is always accessible at our core.

It’s like reconciling the practical with the spiritual.

We have needs. No amount of anything can change that.

And when our needs are going unmet, we can feel depleted, overwhelmed, resentful, impatient and so on.

So how do we practice radical acceptance and happiness while acknowledging and meeting our needs? Doesn’t that mean radically accepting that our needs are going unmet?

Maybe. And I hope not. 😉

I think for me it’s about radical acceptance of others, radical acceptance of limitations {be they time or resources or the demands of a family and home}, radical acceptance of messy experiences and emotions…and radical acceptance that my needs STILL are valid and important and deserving of honoring.

My happiness isn’t actually dependent on the actions I take to meet my needs. My happiness IS dependent on meeting my needs. But meeting my needs can just as easily be learning to take a deep breath and tap into that sense of acceptance within any moment, as it can be about getting creative in finding a little quiet space for myself in my day or turning on music to ease my nerves or eating my favorite meal for breakfast.

When I’m unhappy it IS because my needs are going unmet but that doesn’t mean I have to feel resentful or angry or frustrated or overwhelmed. When I’m feeling those things it’s my sign that I’m not meeting my needs but instead focusing on an expectation of HOW I meet my needs.

Meeting my needs, filling my cup, doesn’t make my happiness conditional on what’s happening AROUND me. It makes it conditional on how I choose to respond to what’s happening WITHIN me.

{Oooh, I like how that came out.}

{P.S. If this is a meaningful topic for you, you might consider the Organic Parenting e-course. There are plenty of resources in it and on the forums to support you in digging into and peeling back the layers of this challenge so many of us face. (((hugs))) to you while you do.}

There and Back Again {A Tale of Thanksgiving and Spiritual Failure}

I'm not sure how we chose a flight with a four hour layover with this red eye but at least the floor looks comfortable. #travel #airport #exhausted

We just arrived home from a 9 day trip back to Las Vegas.

Let me warn you now, this post may be long, meandering, and senseless to anyone but me while I try to make sense of the many things going on in my head and my heart.

{I’m also going to talk somewhat candidly here and do so mindfully and in my never-freaking-ending practice to keep my focus on my own heart, without projecting or losing sight of my own accountability. None of this is “about” anyone, hold my experience with Life and how the hell we make sense of the seemingly senseless hurt it can deliver.}

Leaving #lasvegas

Ascending on my hometown
Feeling more like a visitor this time
{than the escapee of before}
I haven’t missed this place
Haven’t missed “home”
Although I know that’s not the story for all

Those were the words I quickly penned as our plane descended on the Vegas lights. For once, I didn’t feel that impending sense of entrapment – like I wouldn’t be able to leave without getting stuck – that I felt that last time. {That was big for me, to not feel stuck or constantly pulled back to a place with which I don’t resonate.}

I felt at peace, centered, excited for the week.

Excited to watch my little sister walk down the aisle (so moving!).
Excited to see the brother and nephew and niece I hadn’t seen in 10 years.
Excited to just BE – cooking and painting and watching movies with family.

afternoons with nephews

And my mama joined in!  #art #artjournal
art with my mom

Art journaling with my niece.  #artjournal #alteredbook #art #paint
art with my niece

He loves her so. #thompsonwedding2012
Their love = tears of joy.

Do we ever stop romanticizing those ideas of how things will be?

I have memories in my head of a house full of laughter and food and playfulness. Of huge family camping trips with everyone in attendance and giant games of hide and seek – kids and adults. Monthly family dinners. And holidays that stick to your heart.

And I haven’t experienced one of those romanticized holidays in almost 10 years.

Is it that as we grow up our perceptions are sharpened, picking up on things we can miss in youth and that amazing ability to remain in the moment? Or are we simply jaded by age and expectations? Or maybe things really do change that drastically and for no apparent reason than we all grew up and in separate, incomprehensible directions to one another.

It’s not that anything major happened this Thanksgiving. It’s that my heart and my head just couldn’t let go.

I’m not proud of that.

We all know family, even family we adore, can be a lot to take in all at once. And for those of you HSP’s out there, you know how compounded the situation can be when you’re sleeping in a room with two other families, four running dialogues, at least three noisy electronics going at all times, random bouts of stress and rush, and a dozen personalities and sets of needs.

I don’t pretend to be perfect. But it’s still disheartening when every tool I want to lean into seems so far away from my conscious mind as I slip back into a role I have carefully been working myself out of for most of my adult life.

Do we ever stop reverting to what other people expect to see?

Do we ever feel and respond like the adults we are when we hear the criticism or triggers of our childhood?

They mean me no harm but it’s time that I face it
They’ll never allow me to change
But I never dreamed home would end up where I don’t belong…

That’s a Rascal Flatts song that makes me cry with heartache. Those words almost describe it except for one thing:

I don’t believe that anyone won’t allow me to change. I just believe it’s so damn hard to show them I already have.

All my best intentions for a wonderful week lead to all my expectations breaking my heart.

No one else is responsible but me.

I didn’t meet my needs. I didn’t express my emotions {until they were boiling incomprehensibly…and loudly}. I didn’t pay attention to the patterns that trigger me, patterns of teasing and sarcasm and my holding back {anything from my opinion to my own sense of style for fear of the feedback I assume I’ll receive}. Patterns of expectations, ideas in my own mind of how anyone else should be.

I placed the responsibility for my own peace and joy on what others were able to do and that wasn’t fair or responsible. It made us all unhappy.

By the time I realized it I had already excused myself from the meal, driven away – the very best I could manage. I missed Thanksgiving because I had missed my own patterns of expectations and hurt and burying the truth to keep the peace, to try to support others instead of leaning into open honesty.

Hanging with one of my very best girlfriends in the sun. Kids running around the park. Good times.  @elizabethlowery
sweet, reflective, wonderful friend

My sweet wonderful girlfriend and I had a couple long talks, and as they often do, they centered around our role in our own lives and the lives of others. And the message was the same I had been grappling with: Every time I place an expectation on someone I love, I miss the opportunity to be at peace with what is. I miss the opportunity to love them. To practice surrendering to what Spirit is showing me.

It breaks my heart to read those words. It’s the same message I’ve been receiving for the last several months, the same message I think I’ve gotten right before I realize I haven’t: Stop pushing, stop micro-managing, stop thinking it’s all your job. Let go. Surrender to the direction of where Life is flowing. Surrender to peace and love within that moment, exactly as it is, without your thoughts that it needs to change for you.

It breaks my heart because I know it. I’ve been practicing it. And I’ve been failing, again and again.

It’s fucking hard.

Hard not to offer advice, instead of holding space.

Hard not to want to “fix” it – whether it’s an actual problem, or just a bad mood – instead of extending empathy first.

Hard sometimes to WANT to do anything from love: want to DIG IN, want to speak nonviolently, want to listen, want to reach out when you have nothing to reach out with.

So I did the very best I could do…I took space for myself.

I walked out when I couldn’t find that space to listen over the screaming of my own head. I hiked a mountain and lay on the rocks and turned my face to the warmth of the sun. And I said goodbye, or even missed opportunities to say goodbye, flying home without resolve.

Sitting on the hillside talking life, plans, culture and conformity with @justinplayswithballs and looking forward to flying "home" #lifeatthismoment #lasvegas
from the hillside with my lover

As Justin and I walked and hiked he asked me the same question I’ve asked myself for almost 8 years, since my dad died before we got the opportunity to have the talk that was on the horizon. It’s the question I asked myself multiple times over the past week as I did the very best I could {which didn’t seem like much}:

If the worst happened, would you regret this choice?

And I answered him honestly.


I wouldn’t regret the choices I made to let things go, or not have conversations that I didn’t feel ready for. I wouldn’t regret walking out when I couldn’t find love or patience to respond with instead. I can’t regret doing the very best I could do, listening to my intuition and my heart when it says, “This is not going to help; you’ll only cause more pain right now.” I don’t ever regret the choices to surrender, to lay down my Ego-fear that tells me to judge or fix or change or fight or expect or even help, to “save” others or even see them as someone who needs saving.

I have to address my own heartache and hurt first. I have to unpack my own stories and triggers before I can bring my authentic love into a conversation with anyone else.

It’s no one’s job to apologize or change or fix anything for me, anymore than it’s my job to do the same for someone else.

It’s my job to examine what came up for me, and why. It’s my job to find my center before I try to find a solution. It’s my job to bring my real self into challenges like these, instead of compounding them by bringing my baggage. It’s my job to find what only I am accountable for {my emotions, my reactions, my choices} and release everything else {my expectations, my assumptions, my sense of obligation} so that I can walk in with nothing left but love.

Moments like this hold me perfectly still. #manchild
melt-worthy airport moments with the man-child

I can leave without regret,
With peace that I made the best choices I could,
but being void of regret
doesn’t mean being void of hurt.

{penned from the plane home}

It’s an unconventional, even controversial, viewpoint, that I believe it’s okay to say goodbye without first making amends. {Caveat: And it’s not always the right choice. As a daughter whose lost a father during an argument, I can attest to the anguish that comes from holding grudges, instead of taking mindful space.}

But the difference is in the mindfulness and the space {as opposed to the unconscious distance we tend to put between us instead}.

Are you paying attention? #artjournal
full attention slows the current

I’m experiencing hurt and frustration and sadness. And I’m allowing myself to experience it. No under-the-rug sweeps. No grudges held. But no feeding it or burying it either. No allowing it to overcome me, or to own me.

Some serious shit came up for me {and yes, I’m totally okay admitting that – why shouldn’t I be?} and I’m opening my heart up to what Spirit is trying to show me. I’m doing the inner work that’s being asked of me. I’m learning to stop projecting {hard} and stop blaming {harder} and meet my own needs so I can actually stand in the Truth that allows me to be – fully and unapologetically and compassionately – ME.


And even though there is a big part of me wanting to resist this next statement 😉 I can feel it nudging me to be experienced too:

I’m thankful for this. Thankful that I lost sight of myself and damn near lost my shit. Thankful that I felt hurt and frustrated. Thankful that I screwed up. Thankful that it’s so deeply triggered and challenged me. Thankful that it’s bringing up in me the bullshit that was hiding there, because I know full well it only comes up when the timing is perfect for it to be addressed {even if I don’t like that fact}. I’m thankful for the comments that were made, the stories that were dredged, the triggers that were found. Thankful for failure in how I handled it all {or didn’t}.

I’m thankful for the nudges that keep telling me when I’m trying to do something or say something here that isn’t focused on my authentic heart, too. 🙂

I love them all. They – like me – are doing the best they can as well. That I don’t feel at home says nothing about them, and everything about me – where I am and what I’m moving through with Life as my guide.

Why am I sharing all this?

Why am I “airing dirty laundry”, as culture has taught us to see it?

Because I got the most amazing messages of gratitude over the week: messages from incredible women who totally nailed it and stood in compassion and authenticity in a challenging family situation, messages from heartfelt women who struggle{d} to do the same and are thankful to be reminded they aren’t asshats for being human and unable to access that place of compassion and authenticity at the same time,or even separately.

Because I’d rather dismember the monster that tells us we can’t be honest about having a hard go of something, the monster that tells us it’s not okay to be imperfect, that tells us our lives “should” be perfect and by the book or else we’re going to hell. {Shit, I wrote a book on dealing with triggers, and my experiences still aren’t by the book.}

Welcome to being human. Welcome to trying to be that human with over 7 billion other people, many of which are our greatest, most wonderful, most frustrating teachers.

We love our families. But we mess it up. We do. I do. Again and again. And hopefully, again and again, we do the best we can to get through that moment, to get through the challenge, to learn and grow and try to love ourselves and others a little better each time. Sometimes we nail it. At least the same number of times we don’t.

My declaration is this: I’m okay with these facts. Okay with Life sometimes being messy. Okay with the fact that I’m going to make mistakes at it. Okay being open and honest and authentic about it. Finally okay with the choices I make. {And learning to be okay if others aren’t okay with it.}

Some wisdom from my mama's wall. #bestill
wisdom on the wall

This get you thinking too?
Some questions that may support you: What do I need to get still with? What parts of myself am I bringing into similar challenges with those I love? If I was fully centered and grounded first, what would I do/say differently?

“It could be worse…”

Trust creates peace. Where do you need to lean into trust? #quote #saying #tea

I awoke from a really weird dream (I was running track! HA!) with a totally unrelated phrase and thought going through my mind…

“It could be worse, you could be…”

It wasn’t the phrase itself that stuck with me. It was the accompanying thoughts behind the phrase.

I’ve been thinking about it all day as I went about writing for SBS, and planning an essential oils webinar, and cleaning up my son’s surprise shave job, and although I’m not sure I can quite articulate the sense I felt in the dream here goes anyway…

When shit hits the fan, my husband struggles to feel grounded or keep perspective. His “job” in his heart is to provide for us and make sure things are cared for in our world. But – like the truck problem he’s been working on for the past few weeks, or the fact that his motorcycle just got totaled (not with him on it) – sometimes things don’t come together too perfectly.

But every time I try to help him regain perspective by saying “It could be worse, we could be…” I’m doing a HUGE disservice to our actual sense of peace.

Because how can we feel at peace if we believe things can be bad?

Challenging, sure. Not what we want, okay. (Hurting our ego, most def.)

But if we don’t take the perspective of “All is well and will be well in our world.” NO MATTER the situation, no matter what, we’re always going to be in a place of fear, of pain, in lack of peace.

As in, sure things are hard now…but oh shit, they COULD be WORSE!

And then, of course, what are we saying to the people who are actually in a “worse situation”?

That THEY should really be freaking out?

That THEY really can’t be at peace with life?

That there is a point when things are terrible and there is no route to peace from there?

That things can only be good as long as they aren’t THAT bad?

Cuz then you’re screwed.

My whole spirit wants to reject that.

I want to be at peace when the truck is running optimally and when it isn’t running well and when it’s broken down on the side of the road and when it’s not there at all.

I want to learn to accept love and create joy when we have a bad day, and a terrible week, and when all hell breaks loose and we would normally have a total meltdown.

But every time we try to “put it into perspective”, are we just postponing peace?

Real peace doesn’t come from the situation we’re in, or the fact that we could have it worse.

Real peace comes from the choice to accept, embrace and be within the love of exactly what is, knowing that WHATEVER it is, all is well in our world. All will be well. Even in the “worst case scenario” it’s all ultimately going to be okay.

That’s peace.

A careful, conscious practice of trust.

Reminding myself how much worse it could be is not love or peace. It’s getting by, survival mode, until I can access that loving, peaceful place within me again.

Organic Wisdom :: How To See A Child

On occasion I like to share some of the quotes I post on Twitter and Facebook, with some of my expanded thoughts on it here.

“Organic Wisdom” is what I have found speaking to me in those quiet moments, that guides me and that echoes Truth in my life. Please feel free to download, or share this image in any way you’d like.

One of the best questions I’ve ever asked myself: how does my child need to be seen?

The answers that spoke to me in the ensuing silence?

With patience.
As someone loved and lovable.
As a real human being. (Now. Not just when he grows up.)
As someone capable of greatness.
Capable of learning.
Worthy of respect.

Another version of this question: how does my child WANT to be seen?

As a comedian?
A rock star?
A scientist?
A novelist?
As serious?
A kind person?
Someone trustworthy?

Yes, there will be plenty of times when we could see the opposite. But if we choose to still focus on how they need and want to be seen, those times will become less frequent as they step into the person they feel they are.

How you choose to see a child will be reflected in how they see themselves, how they live their lives, and the relationships they find themselves in later. How you choose to see a child will be how they learn to judge themselves or others, what they learn about acceptance, compassion, stereotypes, inclusion versus exclusion, support versus criticism.

“I SEE you.”

Powerful words to hear and experience.

Really seeing them – past their mistakes, past their behaviors, past their challenges – becomes the permission they receive to love and approve of themselves.

Get Help Getting Past the Surface

The first ever Organic Parenting e-course begins in just over a week. In it we cover how to fill our own cups (so we’re not depleted by the act of loving our children), overcome our triggers (so we’re moving from love, rather than our past), and connect so deeply with our children that we move beyond the use of punishments into cooperative, respect-based, and joy-filled living.

There are two ways to join:

  1. The DIY Version: You get all the good to work through independently.
  2. The Sisterhood Upgrade: You get a Tribe of mindful, unconventional, passionate mamas to support you, as well as a plethora of other goods to inspire you.

Click here to see if this is a right fit for you.

Organic Wisdom: Understanding Through Compassion

Yogi Tea Wisdom

True understanding is found through compassion. – my Yogi teabag

For some godawful reason, Northern Michigan has confused August with a season to get cold.

Coming from Nevada, it makes no sense to my body to wake up shivering, but I do love any excuse to make hot tea in the morning.

There’s just something about it, the routine maybe…filling the teapot, lighting the stove, warming my hands by the flame and then with my hot mug. Sipping until it’s cool enough to drink. Slowing down. Not jumping into my day.

I also love my Yogi tea nuggets of wisdom, just a tiny phrase to meditate on while I roll my hot mug between my cold hands. This morning’s wisdom was the one above.


It’s been a word on my tongue a lot lately.


And how often it’s lacking in our words, our thoughts (judgments), our reactions (especially the knee-jerk kind).

When I am connected to compassion I see deeper, feel deeper, connect to others and to Truth deeper.

When my focus is not on compassion I’m absorbed in my own thoughts (judgments), my own reactions, my own sense of victimhood, my own ego.

But compassion takes me out of those things.

Camera + Compassion + My Son

In case you didn’t notice I’m taking a lot of shoddy photos with my phone lately.

I haven’t mentioned it to anyone but my other camera isn’t in the best shape right now.

A couple weeks ago, I took it to the pool and in an effort to keep it dry wrapped it in a towel. Not knowing this and while I was back at the RV, Zeb picked up said towel and my camera fell several feet to the cement.

Thank goodness for an already residing sense of compassion.

I didn’t see the look on his face when it happened but I saw the look when he came up to tell me. It was a mixture of remorse and uncertainty. He knew how much I loved my camera, love to take photos, loved to capture expressions and moments from funny angles. And in my less-than-compassionate moments, he knew that my initial reaction could be the knee-jerk variety.

“Mom, I’m really sorry. I didn’t know your camera was there and I picked up the towel to dry off and…well, it fell and Dad has been trying but it’s not taking pictures now.”

But in that moment, I was fully connected to my own Truth, my own wisdom, my own Bigger Picture.

I was centered and felt content. And so my reaction was one of compassion.

“Really? You’re not upset? Because Spirit in the Sky was playing on the radio when it happened and I thought for sure it was an omen that you were gonna kill me,” he said with a grin. My son, he’s a funny one. 🙂

Don’t get me wrong…I felt my own disappointment and sadness over losing something I love.

But I felt a stronger sense of compassion for my son’s disappointment and concern for me.

But Compassion Isn’t Really The Answer

Okay, I really don’t believe compassion is the answer, even if the word is on my tongue a lot lately.

I didn’t take it in stride because I wanted to be compassionate. I didn’t keep my perspective because I focused on what would be the most compassionate.

I was compassionate because I already felt that deep sense of Connection within myself.

And by already being connected to my own Organic Wisdom, I could see with compassion. I could see that he cared deeply for me. I could see his worry. I could see that it was only a cheap lens that broke. And that it was just a camera anyway, a thing. I could see that I hadn’t even been taking many pictures lately. And I could even see my own accountability: I had wrapped it up in a towel and not told anyone after all.

Compassion didn’t allow me to see or understand those things. Being able to see those things without the fogginess of my emotions or knee-jerk reactions allowed me to respond with compassion.

And because hindsight is all a beautiful thing, I can see just how nice it is to only have my cell phone to take pictures – convenient, lightweight and good enough to capture the moment, save time in editing and get back to what really matters. 🙂

Why You SHOULD Focus On Being Perfect (And It’s Not What You Think)

The Majestic Redwoods

Ah, perfect. That word is a hot one. Especially for us women.

Most of us strive so hard to be perfect: the perfect mother, perfect partner, the perfect person with a perfect purpose. We try to create the perfect home and the perfect world with perfect hair and perfect kids.

And then we hear the messages that perfection is a myth, that it can’t be obtained and that striving for it is a maddening and pointless attempt to be something we’ll never be.

After all no one is perfect, right?

This is where I get all Big and Philosophical on you…

Both are wrong.

Zoom out with me – way out – and take in the Big Picture of your life, your journey of self-discovery and growth, your contribution to and purpose in the world.

The entire purpose of your life is to learn, to grow, to experience this human experience and make sense of it the best way you can.

You don’t need to strive for perfection and you don’t need to give up the idea of perfection…Because you are already perfect.

Where you are is already perfect. What you are experiencing, doing and thus learning is absolutely perfect.

You are the perfect mother for your children. You are the perfect person for your purpose. Everything you’re doing and experiencing is perfect.

Stay with me here.

It’s perfect that you make mistakes. It’s perfect that you beat yourself up for them. It’s perfect when you don’t do either.

It’s absolutely perfect when you wake up one day to realize something totally new and life-changing and it’s perfect when nothing ever seems to change.

It’s all perfect because it’s all purposeful, because when we zoom way out the little details that we stress over and complain about and push against blur together, and we see the process, the journey, the contrast that teaches us, the resistance that strengthens us, the meaning at the end of the story, the light at the end of the tunnel and the Magic that brought it all together, that connected the cosmic dots and created something amazing.

If our purpose in life is to learn, and if we learn best through our experiences, then yes, it’s all actually perfect.

And only by acknowledging that it’s perfect can we embrace it, learn from it and expand because of it.

Your mistakes have value. Your journey is oh-so-valuable.

But you won’t get that, you won’t experience that value, until you accept it as perfect, as exactly as it gets to be.

Yes, this applies to everyone – you and your kids, your partner and THAT one frustrating person you would rather not talk about. No matter what you all are doing or experiencing in your lives, you are all in the same perfect place.

Acknowledging that you are exactly where you need to be, and that everything you are experiencing or doing is perfect is not license to be an asshole, hit your children or just quit trying, anymore than the lack of a posted warning is license to shoplift.

On the contrary, and perhaps paradoxically, embracing the seemingly imperfect as perfect will take off that heavy weight of Not-Good-Enough, Less-Than, Doomed-To-Mess-Up, and leave you only with desire to move forward into seeking more….more Love, more connection, more experiences, more compassion, more beauty, more peace, more learning.

You cannot create your Life from a place of imperfection, unworthiness, brokenness, less-than. You can’t. Whatever you see this moment as being, you will notice and create more of the same.

But when you can connect to the fact that this moment is perfect – that it is here for you to experience and learn from, that’s it’s all opportunity, all of value – you can connect to the fact that you can create something more, better, and beautiful from it.

Only by stopping the fight against what is can we give ourselves the clarity and power to create what can be.

Look for it: What about that one frustrating thing is actually perfect?

“There is only one world, the world pressing against you at this minute. There is only one minute in which you are alive, this minute here and now. The only way to live is by accepting each minute as an unrepeatable miracle.” – Storm Jameson

Life, Learning and Dark Parking Lots

as the parking lot empties for the night the bokey fairies come out to play

I remember the first time I drove a car. It was with my best friend, Hilary, and we were both underage, as we were with many things we did together. Hilary had snuck the keys to her mother’s car and she ever so  s l o w l y and cautiously drove us across the street to an empty parking lot.

There we took turn practicing: driving in circles, experimenting with going faster and slower, gassing it, stopping quickly, and attempting to park as we discovered the fluidity of our feet, the pedals and the movement of the vehicle.

Hilary’s mom’s car was a monster.

I’m not sure of the make or model but it reminds me of a Cadillac – wide and long. And we felt safe in it. We knew we couldn’t roll it, and it wouldn’t be easily dented, either.

That night in the parking lot gave us the feeling of uninhibited freedom.

We could move and explore the feeling of control without fear of mistake, condemnation or danger, except for a random light pole.

These were things we didn’t feel we could explore at home. We didn’t always feel the freedom to press our limits and test our abilities. We were loved. More than most. But we didn’t feel completely understood or accepted.

But out in the dimly lit parking lot, with only our friendship to know what we were attempting, we could find our rhythm, our own speed.

We could learn our capabilities without any doubt, fear or criticism to slow us down.

When I think back to that night and I look at my son quickly approaching teen-hood, I’m reminded what that parking lot and my best friend taught me:

Every person of every age and every background has the same basics needs and the same basic desire to fill those needs.

We didn’t take the car to be difficult or dangerous. We took it to fulfill a need we didn’t know any other way to fulfill. We needed to experience the freedom and sense of accomplishment that dark lot provided us and we needed to experience it in an environment of encouragement and appreciation.

We needed to feel as if the person sitting next to us trusted us, encouraged us and laughed with us over our jerky attempts to move forward – in life and in the undentable beast that was her mom’s car.