I am a Storyteller.

storyteller

I am a storyteller.

I am a lover of TED talks (you.must.watch.too).  Recently I got on a kick and watched several on Netflix.  Each of the ones I watched started with a strong woman declaring “I am a storyteller.”  I watched these speakers tell their story, share their lesson and bring the end of the talk to their point…  in these TED talks they must catch the listener and use only a small amount of time to bring you to understanding, believing or just knowing their point.

These woman talked about the way they were raised and how that changed or molded their story.  How experiences made them understand life and differences and similarities… in essence the real world.  I love hearing their voices, from a country in Africa, discussing how she grew up and then her journeys and experiences.  I couldn’t help but sit and watch and feel connected.  I felt the same way.  My story is not at all the same.  I am not from Africa and in my eyes, I am not from some exotic place.  I am pretty normal and American… I have lots and have lots of ideas of how the rest of the world is either in a normal sense or a different sense.  That is however perspective- and she reminded me just of that.

The connection I had to these women speakers and writers is their declaration and owning of the phrase “I am a Storyteller.”  My ears heard two very different women,  two very different stories, two very different points being made- declaring the same title.  In a way I felt like I found my title.  I am a Storyteller.  I think it hit me that night… as I wander around this world thinking of what to be when I grow up… knowing that inside of me I want to share this life and journey and these lessons… I want to tell the story.  How the heck had I never let myself know that I am a Storyteller?

I have said since the beginning, when Madeline first passed, that I can share- so I must.  It isn’t something I do for fun, sometimes it is freaking hard.  It isn’t something I do to clean my brain, sometimes it piles my brain up with so much to sort, write, speak, think… that it would be so easy to let it go.  It isn’t something I do just to help me… it is a job, a declaration of me.  I have to share, because someone needs to see it.  There is a person who needs to read and connect and hear this journey.  They might not be able to share…

I meet people I know I needed.  I also see people taking this journey and these lessons with them.  I see people ready for action when trauma hits in their community.  I see the world carry other families when hard stuff happens.  I see people reach and know God in a way they didn’t before.   I see people understand death and life in a way that is so much more real and less dark.  I see people building confidence in themselves at the hardest point in a divorce or separation.  I see my storytelling changing things…

A few weeks ago, I got two phone calls in one morning.  One from my sister and one from my sister-in-law… I was told that a local little baby passed away suddenly at his babysitters.  What should they do?  I told them what I tell them all… be there forever.  Make sure they are carried.  Get the babies fingerprints, a bit of hair, a mold of foot… work fast and be there.  I took those prints and molds to a local place in Albany to have Sterling Silver Fingerprint charms made.  I wanted to meet Jenna, the mom, tomorrow.  I stopped into my sister’s hair shop for back-to-school haircuts and got settled.  After a few minutes, Cortney said “Do you want to introduce them?” to her coworker.  I realized that Jenna was there getting her hair done.  I HUGGED her… I told her I had to grab something from my car for her.  I got the prints and molds… and brought them in.  I was so glad to get to give them to her.  The silver charms weren’t done yet, but it was enough to bring this box of clay her sons skin had touched and imprinted.  I wondered how she was, but knew that was a stupid question.  If she is like me, she hadn’t yet really known he was gone.  It took a while for me to know… shock and survival mode I think.  I told her I want to be there for her, my family will always be there for them… and if they need anything please let me know.  I also told her I would be in contact very soon.  She left and I thought and felt for her for a while…

Storyteller.  I can share.  I can hug.  I can support.  I can speak.  I can change.  I can write.  I can relate.  I can help build… therefore I must.  I am a Storyteller.  I have been since I can remember.  When I was young my imagination thought up awesome and deep stories and adventures.  I loved to think of other people and what they were doing in their life, or people watching and imagining their ‘story’.  It is still a fun use of my imagination, to.this.day.  What if I didn’t share?  What if I sat on my declaration and knowledge that this is who I am?  What would this all look like… how would I see the world?

I will always tell my Story.  I will always help others live, tell, survive, build, create, restart, change, get through, make sense of… theirs.  I love a good story.  I love telling a good story.  I am thankful for the word to build this part of me more… I am thankful for the gift of gab (or I guess good storytelling)… I hope that I use this gift to change and help and build others and myself…

 

PS… here is the TED talk Storyteller that I felt a deep connection to- http://www.ted.com/speakers/chimamanda_ngozi_adichie

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… and I get by with a little help from my friends

friendship

So I am supremely blessed with amazing people.  I feel that it is a gift in this really hard life that God has laid out in front of me… kind of an icing on the cake kinda thing.  This week I have been without my Musto Chicks… as per agreement, Matthew gets a whole week in the summer.  I am trying to follow our agreement and keep my boundaries and make our family look as good as it can right now.  So this week I FILLED UP with people, my favorite energies and my favorite characters.  I got to see old friends, new friends, nights out for wine and nights in with teacher friends.  I got a lot of time with the people who keep me alive and carried… and maybe we could even say sane.  I know honestly though, where I fall on the spectrum of normal or sane is probably questionable ;).

Tonight I got a friendship/wish bracelet from a ‘good one.’  I spent the night on an amazing porch with a fireplace and hilarious and real friends.  This group of women have continually helped to build me and support me.  They are kind and funny and forgive and let me be human… they are so strong and each one has characteristics I admire deeply.  It has been a long time since I got a friendship bracelet that I will always love… and I will be happy when it falls off and my wish is granted.  It is such a symbol.  I treasure these women… and each one hopes the best for me, whatever that looks like.  Each one prays for my happiness.  I love to see them happy.  I love to see them as moms.  I love to see them as themselves.  I love to see them outside their comfort, and feeling so comfortable with one another that we know we are all safe.

God has been kind.  He has placed into my life soooooo many people.  He has given me people who love me for me and I love them each of them for them.  I am 32 years old (I think…) and haven’t had a wish friendship bracelet in a long time (like 20 years!!!)… and tonight I got one, the only rainbow one.  I was reminded that I am dealt the best of the best all.of.the.time… I have hard stuff, but God is providing the scaffolding to build a secure way to climb regularly.  I just need to utilize the ones He sends… for support, reassurance and just happy and distracted.  I believe that my friends are a gift.

I wonder where I will be when my wish/friendship bracelet falls off, and if I will have made my wish by then.  I am sure it will be a simple wish… for a life lived simply happy and full of solid, safe, fun, true and loyal people.  I hope those friends know what they mean to me, to my core self.  I hope they know that they are honestly the reason I get by… ‘I get by with a little help from my friends.’

Fearfully, Wonderfully Made.

Imagine 1000’s of women in one place with the same goal- to feel God and get closer to the Big Guy.  Let your brain imagine awesome and powerful (and recent and relevant) music sung by OUTSTANDING singers and bands… think about the most inspiring life experiences and stories, the kind that just give actual proof to  God and faith… feel it.

That was my weekend.  My weekend to go from ‘Survival to Revival’… to recharge my batteries and listen and praise and sing and think and feel… it was a really powerful weekend.

There was a lot that spoke to me, songs that I felt… words that God was sending right into me, behind the wall that I couldn’t fully get down… I know it.  I love when that happens.  I love when… I guess, like I have said before I am right.  Sitting on the bed talking to the women I was with, some were new and some were related, we talked about submission, faith, believing, struggle.  We talked about how to back up our faith, and I was honest with the fact that in that is where I need work.  I feel a strong pull to find the words in the bible to back up what I know and share it.  We also talked about God and believing, and the struggle to believe in the really hard, testing stuff.  I told them, that I don’t believe, I don’t just believe.  There is something in my that KNOWS.  That is the something that makes me get up and get by when I am tested with loss and loss and hurt and pain.  I don’t just believe that there is a God, a heaven, that I have a soul and time here is small- I KNOW it.  In those storms we must know, in the good stuff we must know.  We can’t prance around and give praise for the good- we need to hug the only thing that stays in one spot when the world is in a storm- the Rock.  I struggle, not with knowing God is there, but with His plan.  I struggle with letting down the correct walls and opening, I struggle with letting go and giving it to Him.  I struggle, but I improve.  Everyday I get better at it.  I get better at releasing some pain to Him and seeing a little something brighter.  I see improvement in my struggle, soon maybe I will see the other side, when I have let it go.

There were some important messages to me.  Many of them resonate still.  I want them to… to bounce around and remind me, to pop into my thoughts when I need them…

  • Vulnerability.  We can not grow  in courage or creativity unless we become vulnerable.  I guess I never thought about it that way.  In order to grow and become more brave and more courageous we must step out of our box… when we do we grow… then we do it again and again.  Vulnerability and the fear of failure make me feel naked, but naked in a good way.  There is something awesome about putting yourself out there, stepping one or two feet out of the box and jumping/trying/speaking.  There is a rush and a bold and a pride- that might be considered an increase in bravery or courage.  A knowledge that you can do it.  As far as creativity goes, I see this one in the way I am creative… in art and crafts.  This one makes sense… trying new classes or techniques that might scare you for fear of failure.  That is hard to do.  I love it though.  I never considered that this vulnerability in being creative would be a growth, but it makes sense.  I guess even in writing and the way I express myself… it was hard to do sometimes but I have grown and seen the difference that this vulnerability has built in me.
  • Forgiveness. I felt this one a lot this weekend.  It was repeated and pounded, kindly and beautifully, into my brain and heart.  I left with a strong message that I need to let go, forgive and move on- even though the world says I don’t have to right now.  I take from that message, that it is only going to help me grow when I do and that God has a lot of growing for me to do (hopefully not in pounds…).  That was a powerful message that came in behind my wall.  It repeated itself even when I could not let my wall down… so I know God wants me to do it.  It is true.  I can not change the hurt behind me, I can chose how I go forward.  I don’t want to carry it with me, this heavy weight.  I know from experience that it doesn’t remove the pain or the deed and make it ok…. it just lessens the load we carry.  What has happened will always hurt, but there has been good in it as well.  I feel stronger, I feel better energy.  I have a lot of mad and anger and hurt to disperse of but… I need to start letting the strings of this go so they don’t make me weaker. (ps did I mention I got to hear him sing this… so powerful)http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h1Lu5udXEZI
  • God loves that unlovely and unloved.  Give.it.up… love the ones who hate, who hurt.  (much harder than it sounds… but it is a post it in my brain to go back to and see and read and work for)
  • There is no Grandstand in life.  God did not create us to watch the race, to be spectators.  We are here to run, to race, to share, to listen, to know, to believe, to endure, to forgive and to keep going… we are made to be in this- not watching it.  Let go of the ones not running with you, the toxic ones running in a different direction.
  • Your past can give somebody else a future, if you give it to God.  I feel that this is very connected to me.  It is something that gets me through this all, that brings me to others who need support, words, guidance, lessons or emotional support.  I sat in an auditorium with others with hard and painful pasts- sexually abused, extreme losses, poverty and so many others- my story is mine and is as hard as many peoples… but what you do with that hard and pain and what you learned is so important.  We have these pasts for a purpose- they can truelly help others futures if we use them correctly and listen to where we are guided.  I know that.
  • Burn Bright.  Goodness this song is amazing… and Natalie Grant is amazing.

 

What an amazing weekend.  I love how life is… I love how it speaks when you listen.  My messages and moments were made just.for.me.  So many left here with different moments that made it past their walls… I know I am going to be okay and good and me.  I see and know… I live and breathe… I try, I fail, I move, I run, I cry, I laugh… I am made for more.  I am getting there… we all are getting somewhere… think about your somewhere and what you are bringing with you.

Whatever is lovely…

armor5

A couple of weeks ago I got to meet a mom that lost her son about 6 years ago…. we were connected on this journey by her sister, my friend.  As per normal though, we were supposed to meet.  God has a funny way of doing that, putting you right in the place you should be, meeting just the right people you should meet and experiencing the things we should experience.  Sharon had a really special gift made for me.  This purple wrap bracelet is not only stylish and beautiful and homemade- it is stamped with scripture and is a bit of my ‘armor.’  “Whatever is Lovely.”  I loved it from the moment she gave it to me and wear it all.the.time.  Sharon pulled up the verse and explained the significance of those words…

I use the word ‘lovely’ to describe my girls, always have.  I have always been really glad God gifted me three lovely and crazy Musto Chicks.  I never got a Musto dude… so my gift is in the lovelies.  So Sharon chose a verse from the bible that is so perfect and has lovely in it.

BAM.  Did you know that the bible has the word lovely in it?  I guess I never would have thought it would, but it is comforting and cool to know that the word in the verse is lovely.  Sharon showed me the verse and it is awesome and perfect and profound.  It is life and the best way to live… little instructions in the bible.  Instructions in the bible???  Yes, God had lots of instructions in the bible, lots of knowledge and stories to guide us to happy and content lives… I don’t often think of the bible in that way though.  When I read my devotional, when I remember to, it is like that- a little not of encouragement or guidance for the day ahead.  I need to start a bible study, I feel pulled to it.  I need to stop putting it off.  These little reminders are God’s little pushes.  He sends in awesome and strong people, that carry small gifts to remind me that His instructions and guidance even includes the word ‘lovely.’  So many profound moments in this journey, lessions and experiences that bring me back to knowing it’s okay- lovely even.

 whatever is lovely

Armored and alive…

We surround ourselves with what is safe and comfortable, this is the nature of most animals.  This new life, after Madeline’s death, is not different in that way.  In some ways I can not BELIEVE it has been so long since I have seen her and felt her and heard her heart beat… and in others it feels like a million years ago.  I am sometimes so fine and normal and missing her is built into my time, that it is shocking to me.  How on earth can life go on with out her?  It still doesn’t make sense to me, but then again there is a huge part inside of me that know it isn’t going on with out her.

She is all around me.  She is my armor.  In this great big crazy world  of highs and lows and crap and good… crazy busy and dead tired… she is my comfort and my safe.  She is my home.  My home is my girls, and my faith that she is right here with us.  I don’t feel her like some feel their children or lost lovelies, I don’t see her in my dreams really… but she surrounds me.  She reminds me.  My world is filled with moments that I get to talk about her, memories I get to share, pictures I see, stories I hear and tangible objects she loved.

Lately I have thought a lot about the ‘armor’ that gets me through days and nights and weeks and months… now years with no physical Madeline.  I have wondered how it can be okay that I am okay… that I can move, live, breathe, run, laugh, cry and mostly do more than survive without her right here.  I think I miss being able to touch her most… to just feel her skin or put my ear against her chest and hear her heart.  How have I gotten this far without being able to touch her?  Is it an illusion that I am okay?  I guess I don’t have the full answers to those questions, but I believe it is because she is still all around me and my girls.

I think of the routine of my day and what I see and touch and think about.  I think of what I wear and what makes me think of Madeline that I wear.  I look in my cupboards that are filled to the brim with quotes that help me, pictures of my girls and the napkins I would send in Madeline’s lunch and draw a picture on and she would write back “Mom I love you”.  I think it is these items, this ‘armor’ that helps me stay safe and close to her.  I think I know that… just like I think it isn’t an illusion that I am okay, alive and sometimes even good.

I wanted to share some of the ‘armor’ from a normal day… there is more, some of it I like to not share and keep for me.  These are some of the ‘armor’ that I need to touch when I am nervous, or see when I am scared, or read when I am prepping for my day…armor1 armor2 armor3 armor4 armor5

 

 

… it’ll all get better with pain.

I keep hearing the words to the Leona Lewis song ‘It’ll all get better’….

“Thought I couldn’t live without you
It’s gonna hurt when it heals too
It’ll all get better in time
And even though I really love you
I’m gonna smile cause I deserve to
It’ll all get better in time”

I think lately this feels about right.  I feel like with every Bam or Bomb I still get the hurt and the pain- but I get a lot better soon after.  It is easier to let go with every.single.big.bomb.  Last week I got the bomb of reassurance that things were  the way I imagined, I guess not how I hoped, but never-the-less they are how they are.  It freakin’ hurt.  It hurt for days and confused me a lot.  I was mad at myself that it hurt so much, I was annoyed at my self that it confused my brain, I was hurt that once again past people are not honest with me.

Alas, here I am this week… It doesn’t hurt so much.  In fact I feel like I walked maybe 10 to 20 steps forward.  I think that the next bomb or Bam won’t send me like 30 steps back, but maybe only 18.  I see improvement.  I am back in the non-care mode.  I think I need those Bams and Bombs to bring me back to not caring about the bad people I have been around.  My nature is to care… to worry, to love, to accept, to hug and let go… so it is painful, yet beneficial when one of the toxic people give back toxins.  I hurt and think and think and hurt and mope… then a day or two becomes three and all of the sudden I am a week out from the junky and hurtful thing.  I am farther than a week really though… I  am 5 steps farther than the last time, with the hope that I keep getting farther.

I guess my thoughts today were that the only way to get to the point that I don’t care and I can spend lots of time thinking and feeling other things and living better is to get the pain and get by.  Today was a good day, as was yesterday… and the day before.  Wow.  Three or four good days… that’s a plus.

I told Matthew a long time ago that in order for me to let go and do this and be sure… and I never felt like he was… I would need to not care at all about him.  I would not wonder where he was, what he was up to… how he feels, how he hurts, what he needs… nothing.  I can care none.   I have had many days in a row of not caring.   Right now, today, I don’t care.  I don’t care about his outfit, conversations… don’t need to see him smile and can barely see his dimple anymore.  It isn’t a part of me anymore.  I don’t want it, don’t need it… and in order to move forward and not be hurt I don’t freakin’ care about it.

My sister and brother-in-law have been here for a couple days.  It has been really nice… dinner and wandering with no kids, track and snuggles, bon fire, dinners in, museums, work outs… just good times.  Today while at the New York State Museum we wandered and read all sort of interesting and important things, saw cool stuff and took silly pictures to look like we were carrying or picking the Mastadons nose… it was great.  We visited the 911 exhibit and it always hits.  I feel different in that room.  I am sure it is how my grandparents would have felt in Hawaii at the Pearl Harbor Exhibit.  It just… brings you right back to a moment, a change in time.  I was talking to the girls about what that day was, how it felt, what it meant and what those pictures were.  How some very bad and evil people made really terrible and mean choices and they changed the world as we knew it.  That in those buildings many people, moms and dads and some kids, went to heaven.  I told them about the amazing brave people who went in to save them, a job I don’t think I could do.  They told another little girl about it in their words from mine.  They asked if I was alive then.  I told them I was, and that it was a day that I honestly remember wanting to see their dad, Matt, and be near him.  It was a close and tangible (almost) thought about that day and the days that followed.  I remember the night of the benefit.  I remember how hard it was to see the footage and hear the accounts.  It still is.  I remember loving Matthew very much then.  It is good to feel that.  I am glad to have them bit in this… because lately part of the ‘not caring’ is ‘not feeling’ those things anymore.  Not caring, not loving.  It felt good to see memories of taking Madeline to the museum in my head and remember… and to see that and remember.  It is comforting to know that my brain can go back to the good.

I am glad to be in a place that I love my people again, I feel safe.  I don’t feel sad all the time, but sometimes I hate that Matt isn’t a part of me now… just my girls and parenting.  I guess this is life now.  I am glad to go back to good stuff with Matt and Madeline and all of my girls.  I am glad to enjoy time and laugh with nothing sitting right below it.  I felt good and light and happy.  I felt like in this pain I will learn to live, move, breathe, run, laugh, cry and be… in time and in pain.