Category Archives: Today I AM

By Golly, Be Happy

For a year I have watched my beautiful husband endure things no twenty-eight year old should. I have watched him run the gamut of emotion—both good and bad, big and small. I have seen him step above and beyond and I have watched him completely fall apart. I have seen a spirit break before my very eyes. But there have been tiny moments of sunshine he clung to, preventing the quicksand to take him under. No matter how deep the cuts, he clung to something–anything–and managed to still stay on solid ground. How ‘bout that?

Watching him find joy, even the size of a mustard seed, and hold onto it for strength and peace has helped me. It has helped me to find the small and be thankful. Even in the horrible moments when the entire house smells like sick and we are all (even the dog) burying our heads in toilets and trash cans, there is a smile in it. Even when The Baby and The Girl take foul balls like champs, there is a breath of thanks and an ounce of joy there. Even when all he can do is wave at a picture, there is a glimpse of happiness buried beneath the sad.

I am learning how to find the slivers of happy in the pile of difficult. Watching YG has taught me a thing or two about the human spirit. Joy is never far. Yea, letting go is tough and yea, people are completely stupid (understatement), but does that really mean we have to let it consume us—eat away at our happy like cancer? I am making the decision that no matter what comes my way, I will be happy.

I will be happy because there is every reason to be. I need to take small things and hold them close and be grateful. Nope, not much is perfect or even to my liking these days, but daggumit I’mma turn toward the good stuff and bask in it. Why the hell not?

Nothing is ever easy. Life is full of crap shoots and luck of the draws. Money is never, ever right, kids are friggin annoying 23/6, jobs are never perfect, traffic always sucks balls and there is forever never enough time in the day. But that only lasts for a night, doesn’t it? Happiness is right around the corner, we just need to hold on long enough to see it. It ain’t always gonna be right, but by golly, it’s right enough for me to be happy.

~SM

Que Sera Sera, Smalls

Sit down. Let’s have a chat. Friend to friend. If I might be frank, you’re killin’ me, Smalls. You are up and down and you hardly know which end is up. But we can fix this…promise.

We can fix this shit storm you are in. We can step away from the funnel cloud and watch it all swirl round and round. Do you see what is passing by? Mmmhm, and you were standing in the middle of it. Now that you are on the outside looking in, let me give you some instructions.

  1. Leave It Alone. You heard me. Leave it all. Walk away and in the direction of calm. There is no clarity when you are rolling with the debris. Over there, in that funnel cloud, is grime and grit and broken pieces. All of it ripping and tearing your flesh. Before you can assess the damage, you are getting hit again. That is no way to live. Is it Smalls?
  2. Breathe. Take a deep breath. Let it out. Matter of fact, take more than one. I’ll wait. Feels good, right? Now that you are calmer, we can move on to the next thing…
  3. Don’t Turn Back. Easier said than done, I know (just ask Lot’s wife, oh wait…you can’t), but try. Plant your face in the direction of goodness and light and will yourself not to look back. Nothing good comes from looking at the damage. It will just upset you. It will have you second-guessing. What is lost is lost. What you abandoned you abandoned. It is okay.
  4. Don’t Let Guilt Consume You. What is behind you is behind you. The choices you made are made. If they were stupid, then fine, they were stupid. If they were good at the moment, then cool. Yay, you. But no matter what you did or didn’t do, this just was not for you. Do not continue to carry around the guilt of the ‘what-if’. You can only do your part. You are not responsible for how others choose to react.
  5. Get Over It. I know, these are the worst three words anyone in pain can hear. It is harsh, yes, but it is necessary. Nothing you can ever do will change it. Perhaps if you are lucky enough to have a time machine, one day (if it bothers you that much) you can go back and fiddle with it, but for now, my G…gone ‘head somewhere. This holding pattern you are in isn’t healthy, and it won’t end if you continue to mull over what you can’t change.

Now that you have your instructions and you are starting from scratch, I want you to start with just the basics. Do not pile too much on your plate. Take it easy. Be in the stillness when you can, remind yourself to be present, and lean in. Lean in with all your might and grab onto what matters most. I know, it hurts. It does not seem like anything will go your way, but trust me, friend, it will. Just be patient, be faithful and keep walking toward peace. Keep grounding yourself in the simple parts of life and keep the understanding ‘whatever will be will be’ with you. Que sera sera, Smalls. Que sera sera.

~SM

Loving Longtime

My parents celebrated forty-one years of marriage recently. Forty. One. That does not even count the years of dating. For forty-one years, this man and woman have endured sickness, health, wife-strikes (which will go down in history as the best ever), bad gifts, amazing surprises, yours truly and three grandchildren. For forty-one years this man has loved this woman, and this woman has loved this man. They have weathered big storms, both literal and figurative, losses and gains. They not only grew up together, but they grew together. For more than half their lives they have loved one another in light and in dark.

It takes more than human strength not to wrap your hands around a neck and squeeze, especially after enduring their bs on a daily. Just hearing them cough can send a person into fits of crazy, but somehow people manage. If flesh was in charge, we would all be under the jailhouse. Thank God it isn’t. Thank God we get to choose love, or shall I say, love chooses us. It sneaks in when we know little more than our mother’s voices and builds a foundation.

Love is a tricky thing. Love endures what we can’t. Love cleans up Stomachbugmagedon hot dog vomit out of the bathroom sink. Love invites forgiveness to sit at the table for birthdays and family dinners. It stands in the cold and rain just for a glimpse of a dream. It brunches on Sundays no matter how exhausted or how long the to-do list may be. Love stands in the gap when we choose not to.

I watch my parents interact. They move quietly around one another, their history and their love filling an entire room. It really is that simple, isn’t it? No extras or absurd rules and judgments. No special colored glasses. Just…love. In its most natural form, it can fill a room and there will still be more left to give.

I am learning, how to operate in love fully. If you have been with me during rush hour you know I have a ways to go, but I am a work in progress. Right now my heart is full with just enough love for myself and The Family, but someday it will grow three sizes (and I might even find the strength of ten Sadie’s plus two). I am taking a page out of The Parents’ playbook. They have endured much, both individually and collectively, but at the very root of it all is love. And in the quiet moments, they show it–no boasting, no impatience, no selfishness–just love.

~SM

Opportunity In The Rough

Over the weekend, I was having a conversation with Young Gun about a mutual friend becoming a manager. He started his journey taking a job for a little over $8 per hour. He had a wife, new baby, and new bills to take care of with that measly ol’ $8, but he saw beyond the pay. He saw the opportunity.

At the risk of sounding like an old person, that is what is wrong with some of the younger gens today. What it might look like at the onset is not always what it is under the surface.  Not many are willing to get grimy, lose money or sleep to get to the underbelly of the opportunity. Go get coffee and be ignored for chump change? No office? Terrible hours? You mean I can’t do what I want and still get where I want? I can’t just snap a photo or take a video and be famous without actually working? For some of us, sure. Those are the lucky s.o.b’s. The rest of us, however, not so much.

When opportunity knocks, even if it is a grimy one, it takes a wise man (or woman) to jump on it. Taking a job is about more than just the pay. What are the benefits? Can you grow? How can you use them to make yourself better?

The hardest opportunities to grab are ones that don’t really look like opportunities at all. They look more like cluster fudges (teehee). They are diamonds in the rough. They are mired in grime and muck, they stink even—oh, but when we take them in and clean them off they open up to something more.

The part of life I love the absolute best are the hidden treasures. Sure, it sucks to have to clean toilets to become CEO, but in the end, the benefits of the journey outweigh the end goal. Naturally, our friend did not want to take an $8 an hour job, but he saw beyond the weeds. He saw with a little of this and a little of that, ‘it was still some good’. And here is the bestist part of all—with every opportunity, every single one, comes knowledge. The knowledge preps us for what is coming next. I get excited just thinking about it!

So, the next time something saunters on by that doesn’t look like much or isn’t ideal, don’t shoo it away. Take a chance. What can it hurt? If you don’t like what you see when you open the door, politely say “no wannit”, close it, turn the lock and carry on.

~SM

Energy Shift

After a long week chocked full o’ vomit and diarrhea (now dubbed Stomachbugmagedon henceforth), a much-needed breath of fresh air was warranted. YG and I snatched up the baby, slipped into a pew, heard some desperately craved Word and took a Sunday ride. Along the ride, we had a bare naked conversation about where we were individually and collectively. I did not like our energy. Neither of us had been the same for a long while. Our lives seemed to be unraveling at the corners and eventually, the whole thing would come apart. But if we could prevent that, then why not? We are everything. Everything is us. What we put out is what we get back. If he hadn’t lost that, I certainly had…it was time I got it back.

Energy is everything. I had forgotten that. I had let myself forget I am apart of this thing called life. Not the ‘life’ we are always talking about—the journeys and the a-ha’s—but life the living, breathing thing. I let the sludge get mixed in with the good and it turned sour. I forgot what I was putting into the world would return to me in the way I presented it.

The moment we walked out of the church, our energy shifted. The second we ended our naked conversation, the air shifted. Things were possible. Yes, somethings might be a little on the tougher side, but it all seemed possible. We saw an open house sign and decided to just go take a look. Buying a home right now is a long way away, but what harm would it do to just pretend for a little while? From the onset, it was perfect for us and when we walked out our lives had shifted. We could no longer afford to fumble around in the dark, walk on eggshells or defer dreams. We had to become one with that which was around us, become one with each other and most importantly, allow God to breathe life onto dusty bones.

We walked out talking excitedly as if we would go home and call our banker right away. We smiled at the thought of The Boy finally getting his own bathroom too little too late. We made plans for the unfinished rooms in the basement. When the day turned to night and everyone was snuggled under their individual covers, I slipped into the shower. I closed my eyes and for the next ten minutes, I pictured myself taking a shower in the home we had walked through…our home.  I turned the water off and smiled. Hope had returned and pretty soon our energy would be right where it should be. Thank God for the shift.

~SM

Life & Time

I stepped into a friend’s beautiful home, full of warmth and the air thick with love, lugging The Baby, bags and The Kids. I sat across from an old friend, his face a little older, middle a smidge softer, and gray streaking his beard. We talked about his job and kids. It was sort of surreal to see us in this space. My babies (save the last one) were no longer babies, neither were his. At one time, both sets could be held on a lap or in the crook of an arm, but no longer. They were too busy running by or engrossed by whatever technology held their interest. Somehow, the time had flown.

Somehow life had been lived in the space of these almost twenty years. A lot of life had been lived. Adventures had been had, ideals had been formed and then questioned. Morals had been strengthened or lost…God, Himself, had made a lasting impression. Time was a moving, living, breathing thing, and we had moved, lived and breathed right along with it.

When I drove away, long-legged kids folded in their positions, heads bowed to the iPhone god, I thought about how I had gotten here. How had I ended up with two young adults, a new tiny one and all the attached adventure and wisdom? How had I made it past the devil’s tricks and my own stupidity? How had I found God and lost Him? How had I face planted and gotten back up? How had it all come to pass, and I was still able to tell all about it?

The how will forever be a mystery. The why, too. The awe, though, continues to take my breath away. I have lived. Man, oh man, have I lived. No, I have not been outside the country or brought down Goliath, but in my own little way, I have lived. It has been a ride, let me tell ya. Yes, there are days I would rather just sleep through it until I am ready to deal, but overall, it has been a fun ride chock full o’ nuts and laughter and joy and love. Boy…the stories I could tell (wink), but I won’t. I will keep them as my own little treasure, and when the days get long and my heart is heavy I will dig them up and take a peek. I will grab a snack, settle under the covers, Lifeflix…and chill 😉

~SM

I’m A Whole Grown Up Out Here

I stopped licking my fingers (recently I might add). It was an automatic thing, me eating/touching something which left a residue of goodness on my fingertips and I would put them in my mouth. Then, one day—not sure when—I picked up a napkin and wiped off my fingers. Just like that, I suddenly saw what I had lost sight of so many, many times. Hot damn, I am an adult.

I am a grown up. I can come and go as I please. I can tell someone to kiss my ass and care not what they say/do as I bend over to make said ass more accessible. I can make choices and decisions and let that be that (take that kids!). I can speak or naw. I can pay bills or naw. I can say ‘or naw’ and not care how played the wording is or how old it makes me sound (take that children!). I can blast Young Thug on a Thursday and Beethoven on a Friday. I can clap each word like a Maury guest, and I can correct terrible speech (mines is not a word people). I. Am. Grown.

Being grown is a little rough. There’s a balancing act taking place we were never privy to growing up: being oneself yet appearing to fit into the world. Pfftt…I’m refusing to fit. I hate fitting in anyway. Fitting in is for suckas (take that jive turkeys!). Yup, we know this shit is hard AF. The Boy and Girl think its all Forever 21 and loud music, but nope. Its bills, balancing acts, arguments, eff you’s, make ups and breakups. It is lacking the understanding of the surroundings. It is watching body parts stretch and drop…but…on the flip side…

It is being who we want to be (fist bump!). It is allowing ourselves the moments to really sit into who we are and be okay. I know who I am, honey, and I’m aiight with all of it. I get to be who I want to be. I get to hold my mule or smack his ass and let him go. I understand the power held in every fiber of my being. I can bring humans into this world and still rock on like it’s nothing (she bad). I can be self-reliant. I can change the world or….naw (tee hee).

Hey, if you don’t know, now you know, Adults. Get with it. Understand your responsibility to yourself first, family second and give all props to whatever god you serve. Stand tall and be you. Take the blows. Absorb them and learn the lesson. Now is the time to adult. When it seems the roughest is when you are at your bestest. Grind until your fingers bleed. If you lose sleep, lose it. If you don’t eat, starve. If you have to drag yourself across whatever finish line lay ahead, get to draggin’. JUST DO SOMETHING. Do everything. Do what you have to do to make it. If you don’t even try, you will have wasted your power on excuses. No one stops you BUT you…you are grown after all (wink).

~SM

The Possible Underneath

We are struggling pretty hard these days. We get paid on Friday morning and by Friday morning we are broke (yea, you read that right). I am barely keeping the car company off my ass, and most nights I spend the wee hours of the morning hoping the loud pickup trucks ambling by are not tow trucks. Rent is paid late, but seriously who has $1500 on the first, ever?  I slowly pass by the almond butters, the salmons and the exotic fruits and veggies for the staples: peanut butter, fish sticks and iceberg lettuce (or frozen brocc). We are in the sweet spot of making too much on paper but making too little in the real world. It can be hard to dream under these circumstances, yes? Ah…but I manage.

Don’t get me wrong, we have joyous moments. We play board games with the kids (when we tie them down) or throw caution to the wind and rent an odd movie or two (The Oath is so random). We forget about bills, empty bank accounts and pickup trucks rolling by for stretches at a time. A slobbery smile from Cookie or an out of place dance move from The Girl or an absurd comment from The Boy peek under the blanket of stress, for a moment. And in the quiet moments, when the house is quiet and the only sound is stillness, I dream.

Possibility is a constant. It never fades. It is always there to be rummaged through. It is why I lose myself in the stillness and dream. I dream of writing. I dream of creating a space all my own. I dream of vacations. I dream of being better than Sir King. I dream of my children rolling their eyes at the mention of my books from a stranger/classmate/teacher. I dream of big oaks and a conversation with Madam O. I dream about me, the little green sprout, pushing through the cold, uncomfortable blanket of snow.

It is not impossible. Nothing is impossible. It feels like it. My God does it feel like it, but underneath all of this heavy, there is something…possible. No, this isn’t comfy. It affects the sight and the mind. It makes things appear so much different than it is making it hard to navigate. It is easy to get lost when everything is covered. But the minuscule, lush green beacon of light poking through the blinding white is a reminder that everything is possible….I just have to hang on and dig a little deeper. I have to rummage through the possible and grab something, anything, and try it on for size. There is nothing to lose but opportunities not seized.

~SM

Humble Much?

Each of my children is special. Yes, most parents believe that and they should, but it is clear to see from an early age that each of my littles has a serious purpose. One was born with a spirit of observation and understanding. Another the spirit of pure, easy joy. And, another with the spirit of accomplishment. Only one, however, was born with the hardest of heads and the softest of…

The Boy was forced into this world (after deciding in utero that being in there was way better than being out here). Shortly after he was rolled out onto the scene (literally), his brain was trying to make the body do the impossible. Crawl? Please. I would rather walk. Walk? No thank you. I would rather run. And, eventually, when his body and mind began to work in tandem he did just that.

The Ex and I endured years of him running, jumping and dare deviling. On any given day, strangers stop him to shake his hand or wave hello. “How do you know them?” I ask. As a youngin I would get a direct answer like “Oh, he’s Coach so and so” or “I played against him in [insert sport here]”, but today I get a cocky smile, a wink, and a “Cmon Mommy. I’m [The Boy].” Humble much?

As he grew into a young man and life started getting a smidge difficult, I would remind him to attempt humbleness. To him, everything is easy because…well…he’s [The Boy]. Until it isn’t. And when it isn’t we are subjected to fits of silence and the banana face.

There is something peaceful about being humble. The action of stripping off the ego and admitting you are not [insert egotistical thought here] feels freeing. Breath comes easier, shoulders lower, muscles relax. We are no longer fighting against what we truly don’t know. We are no longer swimming upstream.

Last night, his room washed in darkness, his long body sprawled across the bed, and his head covered I wanted to tell him to be humble. His most recent nemesis (the driving test) had him pouting and struggling to understand why he could not pass. He was [The Boy], after all. “Yes,” I wanted to say, “you are amazing. Yes, you are special. Yes, God blessed you to be a master in your gift, but not everything in your path will be easy. Sometimes, son, you have to step down, tamp down the confidence. Humility is most important because in the humble is where the learning happens.” Instead, I just stood in the doorway and watched him ignore me. After a moment, I shut his door and walked away without a word. This time he would have to find it out on his own. Hard heads make for soft behinds. Pretty soon, he will get tired of having a sore ass.

~SM

Ms. Don’t Wanna Be Right

I am not right 100% of the time. I wish like hell I was, but I’m not. If I was right I would be pretty close to perfect. I chuckle at the sight of my know-it-all eighteen-year-old self believing that all was right because I knew it. I was it. Having matured just a tad, I realize it takes more courage to be wrong than it does to stand in rightness. Take that, younger me.

In my first marriage, I made mistakes—one of which was always being right. Or, appearing to be. For any given question, I always gave The Ex and The Kids three options. No matter what they chose, it would be my version of correct. I took what I knew about life and made it make sense, and me being correct about everything made sense (duh).

Don’t get me wrong (pun completely intended), more often than not I was actually right, but I never wavered in the moments when I was unsure. I never once said I didn’t know what to do. The words “I told you so” were hovering over every mistake or misjudgment everyone else made, never spoken but always to be implied.

Fast forward twenty years, divorce papers and some growth later and I find myself saying less. Oh, really? I say. Hmmm, I hum thoughtfully. Well, if that’s what you think you should do, I shrug. I am not sure when it happened, but I found out I wasn’t always right. My way was not the way. I also realized the need to be correct was just my fear of not being enough. If I knew what I knew and it was right, I was right. I was perfect.

Nowadays, I don’t bother being much of anything. I just sit back and watch the chips fall where they may. Ask me a question, I will certainly give up the answer—popular or not—but I won’t worry if it is right. There are no “I told you so’s” hovering above.

So, hey, I am not always right. Yup. It is true. I am riddled with wrongness, and I stand in it proudly. My way is, indeed, not always the right way. And that’s okay. I am okay.

~SM