rescheduled.

When you are getting ready to have kids, everyone around you (both those who have and have not had children yet) love to shower you with things — diapers (yay!), blankets, cute outfits your baby will likely wear once or twice before outgrowing them, hand-me-downs (more yay), and, of course, advice.

I got all kinds of advice when I was pregnant with and newly mothering Dax:

  • sleep when he sleeps (lol really why is this even advice, it’s so ridiculous)
  • breastfeed
  • formula-feed
  • cloth diapers are best
  • disposable diapers are best
  • swaddling always calms babies down
  • don’t give him a pacifier
  • please give him a pacifier

…and so on and so forth.

Some of it worked for us (shout out, pacifiers). A lot of it didn’t. But we did find that one of the most helpful suggestions was to try and get Dax on an eat-play-sleep schedule. It took a little while but by the end of my maternity leave (when Dax was 8 weeks old) he was sleeping “through the night” (meaning only waking once or twice to nurse and then falling immediately back to sleep) and napping through the day and we were all happy and sane-ish and loving life.

Thing is, since we chose to breastfeed, the schedule we implemented has always involved me. And since he has yet to wean, I’m still a pretty integral part to nap times and bedtime. But since he turned two and started school Tuesdays and Thursdays, we’ve all kind of had to live with a pretty irregular day-to-day schedule. Sometimes I can be there to nurse him, sometimes I can’t. Don’t worry, though — on days I can’t he does great. (Basically, if Mama’s in the house, nursing needs to happen OR ELSE. But if she’s not, it’s cool.)

Mondays are days I usually can’t be there. Dan works from home and I leave the house before Dax wakes up and come home after he has gone to bed. So on my way home from work tonight I swung by my friend’s house and had her touch up my latest dye-job. (Red, guys!) But being that she was rushed and I was also rushed, she sent me home with the dye still in my hair and the cape still around my neck and instructed me to wash it the second I got home.

When I walked through the door I expected to see Dax’s door closed and hear the soothing sounds of the white noise machine telling me he was fast asleep in his crib. But nope. Instead I found him wide awake in his Spider-Man jammies all ready for bed and ALL READY FOR MAMA TO DO BEDTIME, YAY!

Mama with her goopy head of hair dye. Mama who couldn’t do ANYTHING AT ALL, much less snuggle a toddler, until she got in the shower and all the color was washed out of her hair.

I’m sure you can imagine how well that went over. But Dan just told me to go on into the shower and he would handle it. I washed my hair as I heard Dax cry for me in the other room.

When I got out of the shower pushing 10PM, Dan said to me, “So I got Dax to calm down. But only because I told him you would go in to his room once you got done…you know, if you could.”

This frustrated me because it was already so late, and he should be going to school tomorrow so he should be getting up early, and me going into his room would only make him excited to nurse and snuggle and keep him awake longer. My head was telling me, “Just let him get over it. He’ll fall asleep and be fine.”

But my gut said, “Nah. Just see if he’s still awake. What’s one night pushing bedtime back? Even if it IS till 9:30?”

So I went in anyway. And sure enough, there he was, quiet as a mouse but awake and waiting for me. He sat up when he saw me.

“Mama milk!”

So I pulled him out of the crib and we snuggled and nursed and I rubbed his back and smelled his freshly-washed head. And after a little while I looked down at him and said, “Bubs, it’s time for night night. Can we do one more milk then night night?”

I braced myself for a tantrum but instead, he popped up off my chest and said, “One more milk! Night night!” And he nursed one more time, and then said, “Night night!” And laid down on my chest.

Then I placed him in his crib, gave him his TWO pacifiers (wasn’t kidding about that shout out), his plush Spider-Man and plush Elmo, and put his blankie over him. I bent down to kiss him and said, “Night night, Bubs. Love you.”

Then I walked to the door of his room and just as my finger tips were about to reach the handle I heard what made it all worth it:

“Love Mama.”

fire.

IMG_8604-0.JPG

Tonight I discovered the hard way that if you stand in a swamp or marsh long after sunset, you might feel a fire ignite around your toes and spread up your legs. And when you scream and pant and try to put out that flame with your hands, they too will become engulfed. And when you finally get to a light source you will find that it isn’t actual fire, but fire ants, and they have now scorched your appendages with their fiery poison and, thus, now own you.

That said…

Happy write31days! My theme is simple: 31 days of discovery. Come along with me!

[DISCLAIMER] This post is so short because I left my computer at work and I’m blogging through the WordPress app which is trés annoying.

31 days to discover what i know.

oconnor-bday

For me, writing has never been a hobby. It’s has always been the way I process my interactions with the world. It’s a compulsion. Like breathing, it is almost involuntary for me. I’m not entirely sure I have a grasp on my own thoughts until I can see them written down. It helps me make sense of things. It makes me feel alive. It makes me feel creative and like I can change this world for the better. Maybe. It makes me feel like I might even have the slightest bit of control over my life.

LOLOLOLOL

Ever since I was a little girl I’ve been a writer. I remember being in 4th grade and attending a Young Authors Banquet at my elementary school, clutching in my tiny hands a novel I’d written (and illustrated!) on computer paper and carefully stapled together. The very next year I remember a teaching assistant (who wasn’t exactly fond of me) snatching my journal away from me during class because I couldn’t seem to quit writing and focus on her lessons.

When the internet happened and, almost beyond my own consent, slithered its way into my daily life, I naturally began to write on the internet. (Shout out, LiveJournal!) Then, in 2009, this blog was born. Thanks to technology, candidly chronicling my interaction with this world through my own highly biased lens was easy, fun, and exciting! If you’ve been reading me for any length of time you know that I’ve always been as authentic as possible on here (because I know no other way) throwing all caution to the wind, pouring my heart and soul out to whomever may be reading/watching/listening/whatever to the words I have to say, not necessarily thinking of the implications of my very naturally occurring practices. And people liked it. And I liked that people liked it.

But then recently, I learned that some people DON’T like it. Maybe they don’t like me. And, furthermore, may even be hurt by it and/or me. The line between my blog and myself had become so blurred that I wasn’t able to see where I ended and the internet began. And so I was hurt by it. So I was hurting myself by writing on the internet, despite not really knowing any other way to interact with the internet.

In other words, I’ve recently found that writing on the internet can be really tricky.

Get away, Captain Obvious. No one asked you.

Needless to say, over the past few months, this has rattled me into a blogging silence. I’ve found myself staring at blank pages terrified to say the exact things I’m feeling because they may offend someone or, worse, actually hurt someone and then, by proxy, hurt me. So instead of writing, I’ve been… just… not.

Not even in my journal.

Because how do I know my journal isn’t gonna go squealing to its BFF my blog? I mean really, Self. Come on. You’re ridiculous.

Anyway…

That’s a pretty vague (again, the authenticity of this whole internet thing is a sudden terrible fear I have) explanation to my unexpected blog silence over the past few months.

But hey! I think it might be over!

My dear friend Beth posted on her blog that she’s gonna do this thing in October where she writes for 31 days. And she invited anyone else who might be up to the challenge.

And I thought, “Hey. I might could be.”

And then I opened up my blog to write this post and I got scared. So who knows.

Are any of you up to the awkward challenge of me trying to figure out how to blog again? *desperately searches for a fist bump somewhere* Come onnnn.

enjoy the song you’re currently listening to.

I’ve started running seriously again and, as I’ve said before, what you listen to on your run is totally half the battle. (It’s possibly even more than half but LET’S BE HONEST, I’m even more terrible at math than I am at running so let’s just move on.)

My run this morning was particularly laborious. Not only is is already full-blown summer here, so the 90-degree-already-and-rising heat was mercilessly beating down on me like a fiery fist, browning up my arms with a quickness, but the wind was also crashing against me (and poor Dax in the jogging stroller) with full force which made it feel like I was trying to run through a wall.

So naturally every bone, cell, and fiber of my being was calling out to me, “Why are we doing this? This really sucks. Please stop doing this. Please go back home and put us back on the couch so we can die in the comfort of our own home.”

And I really wanted to.

Then a really silly song came on my running playlist and I made a genuine effort to move my attention to the song from the pain in my body and just enjoy the music. And it worked.

Then the next song came on just as my body started to scream more furiously at me. And I focused on THAT song and pushed through.

And that was my mantra for the rest of the run. Just try and enjoy each song, each as its own little piece of art, from beginning to end. Keep the legs moving, keep the breath going, and just enjoy the song. And you know what? I didn’t die. I finished the run and perspired a good gallon of sweat then took a shower and I felt great. And now I’m blogging. BLOGGING! Like I’m supposed to!

Not to be a total downer, but I think it’s safe to say that when we walk through this life, pain is inevitable. Disappointment is pretty much par for the course. People are going to let us down, our jobs are going to get frustrating, our families are going to be strained, and some of our relationships are going break apart. And all of that sucks. Just like when I’m running and hate it, my M.O. when life gets rough is to shut out the world and ball up on the couch and die a little bit.

But by doing so, I miss out on the “songs” I’m currently listening to, or the art surrounding me: my son’s laugh, the blue sky, the grass between my toes, good food (particularly PASTA!), and so on.

If we shift our focus from our obvious and inevitable hurts to the hidden art around us, we can get through each day. We can finish this hard run, one song at a time, and be better for it.

What “songs” are you listening to currently? What “art” can you appreciate today?

the ministry of authenticity.

I love Sundays. I work at the church in the morning and then take my sleepy, almost two-year-old son (who already thinks he’s two, thankyouverymuch) home for his nap. He still takes teenager-long naps, usually four hours, which gives me time to either keep working or tidy the house (ha) or enjoy a little quiet “me” time. And although our cool but perpetually gooey white tiled floor is begging for a sweep and a mop (after, of course, all the toys and clothes are removed) I am here, painfully aware of the time that has passed since I last blogged, feeling guilty and ashamed.

What better place to be raw and exposed than in front of my blog/the entire Internet?

Being authentic has been a sacred echo in my life lately. Because I work at a church, most of my interactions and friends have been born out of that building, and many of my friends in the church have explained to me that they struggle with being their full selves all the time. They have separated their personalities into little compartments — the “church” self against the “social” self, the “intellectual” self, the “vocational” self, etc. People feel like they can’t be the same person they are around their pastor that they are around their friends and I don’t like that.

I remember when I first moved here, I told someone what my favorite movie was, and they were shocked that I had the courage to admit that fact about myself in public because it’s “so inappropriate”. (It’s Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls, by the way.)

A few weeks after that interaction, a dear friend of mine was upset at church. When I asked her what was wrong, she choked back her tears and said, “It doesn’t matter. I’m just going to hold it all in and pretend I’m okay like we’re supposed to do.” I basically blew up at her.

“NO!” I shouted. “You can’t do that! You have to be okay being upset right now, because when the time comes that I need to be upset, I need to know that this is a place where it is okay for me to be upset!” (For the record, we miscarried a month later and I let the whole world have it.)

It was in that moment that my eyes opened up to this idea of dividing ourselves into different people and the danger it poses to us as Christians because, by falsifying our testimonies we dilute our ministry. 

I’m not entirely sure why but I’ve never been able to be more than one person. I literally can NOT be someone I’m not, despite the pressures put on me by other Christians. Like it or not, I’m all me all the time. I’m a Christian who also has the mouth of a sailor. I’m a Christian who gets angry and frustrated. I’m a Christian who (thankfully!) has friends who aren’t Christians. I’m a Christian who, by the grace of God alone battled (and overcame!) an eating disorder. I’m a Christian who likes admittedly bad Jim Carrey movies. I’m a Christian and there are dark parts of me that are dirty and messy and need to be washed clean every freaking day. And I’m sure I’m not alone, but so many people are afraid to admit it.

Why does this happen? Why do we Christians (or people in general, honestly) feel so much pressure to be perfect all the time? Why does the world end if we are seen with a beer, or seen walking out of a counselor’s office, or seen angry at the world for a minute because — gasp! — life sucks sometimes?

In Matthew 11:28-29 Jesus says, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

Maybe I’m reading the wrong translation, but that doesn’t look like Jesus said, “You know what? Make sure you’re burden-free before you come to me. Make sure you’re smiling 24/7. Only come to me when you are in the best mood ever with no desperation or fault. Check your baggage at the door before you come chill with me.” So where do we get this crap from?

How can we fully expect to lead other people to Christ when we put on this unrelatable show of perfection? How can we expect anyone to buy into our faith when they can’t even buy into our own bullshit?

Let me be real. In about two weeks, we’ll celebrate our one-year anniversary of leaving the brown baby hills and crunchy sorta-dead grass of Tallahassee to live/do ministry/perpetually sweat in the ever-paradisical Naples. Moving here completely wrecked me. Much like ripping the bandage off of an infected wound, the pain was big and fierce. I feel like if I had felt comfortable enough to be authentic about my pain, I might have healed more quickly. But that took a long while.

But the good news is that healing has definitely happened. Scars remain, but the blood flow has ceased as I’ve done my best to bring people into my realm of authenticity. And I am grateful for the little changes I’m seeing: the tears shed on my own shoulder, the angry text messages, and the willingness to accept grace and love amidst it all. And just like that, both feet are inside the door. I am here, planted, ready to continue this life in this place with these people. My shoes no longer straddle the metaphorical threshold, the outside foot ready to bolt and drag the rest of me with it at the first chance. We are here. We are living. We are doing authentic life together and each day it becomes more beautiful.

That’s what Jesus came for, guys. In Luke 5:31-32 he says, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners and need to repent.”

Amen.

can you hear you? we can.

This post has been swirling around in my spirit for the better part of six (!!!) months, but I haven’t really had the real words for it until now. (Actually, even now, I’m not entirely sure I have all the right words. But what I am sure of is that there is becoming increasingly less room in my brain for unimportant things like blog posts so I’ve got to get out whatever loose scraps I can to make room for all those important 90s song lyrics I can’t seem to forget.)

I have this friend whom I dearly adore. She happens to be strikingly beautiful, dangerously talented, wickedly smart, and hilarious. I want to tell you so many other things about her, including her name, but I can’t do that because I’m pretty sure she reads my blog and if she knew I was publicly affirming her in such a way I bet money she would very likely turn fifty shades of burgundy and demand that I remove the post immediately.

And this post is way too important to me for her to do that. So let’s just call this amazing girl Kay.

The thing about Kay is that no matter who you ask — whether they’ve known her for five minutes or her entire life — they’ll all say the same things I just did: that she’s a walking phenom; a force to be reckoned with; someone that transforms the earth from merely a revolving sphere of dusty rock to a beautiful, magical work of art. I’d venture to say that anyone you ask wouldn’t be able to find one, single bad thing to say about Kay.

But here’s the thing: none of us have to say anything bad about her because she says all the bad things about herself.

If you compliment her, she will deflect it. She’ll be the first to tell you she’s worthless. Or ugly. Or something equally wrong.

And it hurts my heart so very badly, not because all those things are untrue, but because to her, they are. 

I’m sure it will come as a surprise to exactly ZERO people when I say this, but Dead Poets Society is one of my all-time favorite movies that I don’t own (DAN WHY DON’T I OWN THIS MOVIE?!?!). One of my favorite quotes from the film comes from the character of John Keating, played by Robin Williams:

No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world.

Whether you believe it or not, words have power. They have the power to build us up and they have the power to break us down, either in one fell swoop or in tiny bits and pieces, methodically chipped away over a period of years. And as loud as the words other people say to you can be, the words that come out of your own mouth — bubbling over from whatever is in your heart — are, strictly from a physical standpoint, the loudest ones. 

shh

The season of Lent began yesterday and, as you all know, I love to fast things for Lent — my hair straightener, all liquids except water, fried foods, the list goes on and on. But this year, I chose to fast something less tangible.

Words. 

Not cuss words, mind you. But certain words that I can’t write here on this blog. Words that, when strung together in lengthy, negative diatribes, damage my spirit. Words that break me down bit by bit. Words that change my world but not for the better. Words that, when flying out of my mouth, are the loudest in my own ears.

I hate hearing all the things Kay says about herself. It is heartbreaking and infuriating. But even more than that, I hate that she hears them. Because in this screwed up world, there are enough people who can say crappy things about ourselves. Why must we give them fuel for their fire?

I can hear you, Kay. Can you? Can you hear you? If so, could you stop talking about yourself for one minute and let me talk about you? And let me talk about how you know how to make anyone laugh. Let me talk about how you sing so beautifully it gives my goosebumps goosebumps. And let me talk about how you’re so stinking smart and capable and can do literally whatever you set your mind to.

I can hear me. Can you?