Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The magic people.

Two noteworthy bits of magic happened this week:
On Monday, I unexpectedly got this in the mail...
A beautiful necklace made by a beautiful friend using a rock from the sea.  My sea. She somehow knew that I needed to feel the weight of this experience against my skin, to remember that it wasn't just a dream or a distant memory - that it is something I can carry with me - a part of me forever. 

And Tuesday I woke to this email from a friend...

The time has finally come. The packing. The goodbyes. The excitement. The "last time I'll do this". The anxiety. The packing. The crying. The questioning. The packing. An emotional roller coaster that no one can quite understand til it happens to them. You are leaving a legacy. And will be sorely missed. And leave a big hole in the hearts on the hill. But what an amazing thing you've done and what a great two years it's been. You will never ever regret this time, so be happy that it happened and be excited for the adventure that lies ahead! I know...easier said than done. It's actually really hard to be excited about the future sometimes. But it's gonna be great because you're great and your family is great and you do great things together. And you're smart and funny and a really good baker. So things must be great wherever you are. Take deep breaths (we're teaching Cecilia this technique too, it actually really works), smile, cry, take pictures (yes, more), go for your walks, and go for tea and scones. And eat them without guilt (I know you have no problem with this as an amateur foodie). And cross that big ocean with your head held high!!! Ok this is incredibly cheesy, but I mean every word. Just thought you might need a little encouragement right about now, though you may be in denial too (which is totally fine). See you on the flip side homie.
Love, kathleen 

So I'm going to go and be happy that it happened, and excited for what lies ahead.

I'm signing off now for a little while, at least until we get home.  Our plane leaves on Friday afternoon with all of us on board (hopefully - as long as we don't forget how to count to five).  I'm allowing myself to take a small break for a few days, maybe even a full week and then some.

My heart is breaking my friends.  My heart is breaking and bursting at the same time, and I have no idea how I'm supposed to go through all of these goodbyes and hellos with grace and authenticity.  I think I'm doing pretty well so far since I've only ugly cried 25 times this morning.  That's graceful, right?

So I'm allowing myself to do this privately, even though I want to remember these days, these moments for as long as I live.  Even though I want to have an open and authentic account for my children to read someday.  And even though I don't consider myself a private person; for now a mental photograph will have to do.

Don't worry about me though, I have magic people in my life.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

What I Learned at Sports Day

A few weeks ago at school the boys had a Sports Day.  The weather was sunny, and if I dare say it, hot. I even broke out my highly neglected collection of sunscreen.
It was a fun day, and I learned so much about my boys just by watching them "do Sport."

I learned that Miles has a confidence that rivals most people I know.  He has fun in everything he does and doesn't care about winning.  (Or the rules that are set in place to determine a winner.)

Liam does care about rules and winning.  He gets embarrassed easily, especially by his mother who he told to "Sit down and don't talk" after she cheered furiously for him.

I also learned that I don't know Irish Gaelic enough to have a clue what anyone is saying.
A good day.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Where the magic happens.

One of the absolutely, without-a-doubt best parts of my job here is to hang out with the volunteers.  That's right...I get to just hang out for my job.  Not only that, but I get to hang out with people that I GENUINELY want to hang out with.  People that are hilarious and silly.  

Not only that, but I also get to help plan residentials for them where we go away and reconnect, or evaluate, or do silly things like scavenger hunts in the forest.

Last week we did one of my favorite residentials with them.  We laughed, they evaluated their years, danced when there was no music, made up songs, and I got to tell them how awesome I think they all are.

This, along with everything else, I will miss.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Ollie turned 10 months old...

...nearly 2 weeks ago.  But the pictures are still worth posting, right?
If I'm honest, the only noticeable difference are the gray hairs on my head as I follow him around and make sure he doesn't pull a bookshelf down on himself.  Why do we want them to crawl so badly again? I refuse to teach him to walk.

Not on my watch buddy.

Even with all that...his smile still stops my heart.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Beginning...

This is the point in the process when we start to say goodbye.  I wanted to title this "The Beginning of the Goodbyes," but after some thought I realized I needed to rethink my approach.  This is just in fact the beginning of a different way of holding these friendships.

The thing is that I've already said "goodbye" to this group of people once.  It was the hardest goodbye I've ever had to say.  I would venture to say it left my heart broken.  But if I've learned ANYTHING from that goodbye, it's this...

 The world is small.  People will come back into your life.  Not as often, or as unexpectedly, but they will venture back. 

Plus, these crazy people had us out until 2:00 IN THE MORNING.  It was both the latest I've stayed up in two years, and the hardest I've danced in two years. 

The perfect way to say "goodbye".

Mostly because I only have the stamina to do this once every two years.

Those crazy kids.

I love them.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Armor

When I was growing up, I was fitted with a strong suit of armor.  Like many little girls, things happened to me - to my family that made my armor stronger – reinforcing its joints with every disappointment and heartache.  For the most part I had a dream childhood.  For the most part no one would ever be able to tell that I needed armor at all. The thing about armor is that it becomes a part of your exterior. It blends in so well with your happiness and sadness that it is nearly invisible. The thing about armor is that one must get extremely close to see it.  However, the MOST important thing about armor is that it doesn't allow anyone to get that close.

Until I was an adult, my armor secretly revealed itself through the nonchalance with which I approached intimate relationships.  My armor was not yet fully developed, and was only reserved for those that wanted to kiss me.  To make myself vulnerable was never an option. It seemed so wise. Perhaps in those moments it was.

As an adult my armor became strong and solid with every passing year. My armor became laced with sarcasm and bossiness.  It was my defense against criticism or disappointment.  I knew everything and trusted no one. In turn, I became defensive and critical.  It shielded my eyes from giving the benefit of the doubt and filtered out compliments so I only heard the criticisms.  My armor’s bitterness hurt. It wilted the person beneath it in tiny unnoticeable steps.... 

Until the day I brought home my first baby.  For the first time in years the armor did something besides strengthen itself around my shoulder blades, or reinforce the tightness around my joints.  For the first time it cracked. Not much.  Just a simple hairline break.  The beauty was that this tiniest crack compromised the strength for the first time in years.  It did only that.  The armor was still there.  It was still hard to carry.  It was still so heavy. It was so heavy that my knees buckled below me one day when I couldn’t go any further in the direction I was going.

So I changed directions.

And I moved with my two babies and my husband to a land faraway, but a land not-so-different from our previous home. We became part of a community of volunteers; people who would become little pellets of aluminum pinging against my armor – a noise so loud it drown out the world beyond our walls.

The community wore me down. I felt exhausted and used – raw from the constant pinging against my armor. One day I realized that it wasn’t the community, but my armor that was making me so tired. So I took off a tiny piece.  It didn’t come off easily.  There were tears, but no relief. Immediately there was regret. Instead of relief, there was sadness and vulnerability.  Then came embarrassment along with his close friend dread.  But I was so tired. I was so lonely. I was the bare-bones of myself. So I let another piece fall.

For 14 months pieces of my armor fell away, bit by bit.  Piece by piece. Eventually there were just the two very last pieces.  The most important pieces that covered my vital organs and protected the parts of me that needed to be protected. They wouldn’t just slide off easily, or unbuckle under the strength of my fingers.  For these I needed a chisel. 

So I chiseled.  I worked and worked at the last two pieces.  Everyday I argued with God and asked questions I had never asked.  All the while chiseling away at the metal shield that was wrapped around my body.  There were days when it didn’t seem as though there was any progress.  There were days when it felt as though I had only made it stronger.  But then there were days when I went to bed thanking God for making my chisel extra strong that day.

Then one day I watched it fall away.  Instead of fireworks and proclamations, it fell away with the tiniest of revelations in a small room with two chairs and a box of tissues.  I shrugged my shoulders in a giant circles and wiggled my fingers. The weight of pure air was so light I felt like I was floating. That was it.

This. is. it.

Freedom. Vulnerability. and Love.

But the greatest of these is Love.