Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Dancing in the rain

I have been fortunate to have a few friends in my life that go way, way, way back with me.

I have one friend who I have known since we were born. Well, since she was born...I arrived a month ahead of her. I have another friend who I have known since we were about three years old. And another friend who I have known since I was five or so.

It is without a doubt a blessing to have people in your life who have traveled that long and far with you.

It is also a curse since they remember every hairstyle, every boyfriend, every fashion incident, and no matter how much you think you've got it together, you always know there are a handful of people in the world who know beyond a shadow of a doubt that underneath it all you are really a great big weirdo.

I love that.

In beginning my quest for TRUST, I have been trying to conjure up times in my life where I remember feeling completely and utterly at peace. Times when I felt so completely safe that I wasn't giving a second thought as to whether what I was doing was right, or wrong, or acceptable, or enough. Times when the world's gifts and my intentions all aligned and together we glimpsed...paradise.

As unlikely as it might seem, one fuzzy memory that keeps popping up for me involves these two cherubs right here.

My buddy Christie and me.

Don't those two little nuggets look just chock full of sugar and spice?

Mother of Pearl...don't let them fool you. 

One day, when we were about exactly the age of this picture here....(so, babies, basically) we had a sleepover at my friend Christie's house. I have no recollection as to why since it seems to me we were kind of young for sleepovers, but our moms did a lot of swapping of childcare and babysitting, so who knows what lead to such an exciting adventure for two little friends.

You would think the sleepover would have been adventure enough.

But, no, in the wee hours of the morning, long before anyone else in the house was stirring, Christie and I woke up and made our way to the family room. Looking out the big glass doors, we noticed it had rained in the night. In fact, it had rained a lot in the night.

As we peered outside we could see large puddles covering the ground and water pouring from gutters. 

It was like the world had become a magical land of waterfalls and wading pools perfectly sized for two pint sized fairies.

So, what else were we to do but to go exploring?

We. Left. The. House.

I'm sure we started out in Christie's own front yard but at some point we ventured down the street to where it took a slight dip and a large amount of water had accumulated. It probably wasn't all that much water really, but to us it felt like a swimming pool.

A swimming pool that was in the middle of the street. 

In our pajamas we waded in that oversized puddle, splashed in it, stomped and danced. 

I don't remember feeling cold. I don't remember feeling afraid. I don't remember feeling at all that we were doing something naughty or dangerous. 

We felt glorious.

Eventually, it probably did start to get cold so we made our way back to her house but we couldn't let the opportunity to shower in a waterfall pass us by, so we finished up by standing underneath the downspout "washing" our hair and making sure that not one square inch of our little bodies remained dry.

It was at this point we were finally discovered.

You can imagine that Christie's mother was not nearly so enchanted by our Wonderful World of Water. Or the fact that two tiny girls were wandering around in the street at dawn.

I clearly remember seeing her mouth moving and arms waving as she rushed us inside and thinking, "What's wrong?!"

I know Christie thought the same thing because she and I have remembered and retold and regaled each other with this memory over and over for the past 40+ years. 

As mothers now, we find it equal parts horrifying and hilarious, but in general the hilarity wins out.

But in all the times I have recalled this story, I've never thought about it in terms of TRUST before.

Without question though, that's what we felt.

We trusted the world was safe.

We trusted each other.

We trusted our intuition and our instincts.

We trusted ourselves.

We trusted that when we were ready to go back home, it would be there.

And maybe, there was a small part of us deep down that knew we might get in a little bit of trouble for this...but we also had complete trust that we would be loved anyway.

It's never a surprise to me that Jesus says if we really want to enter the Kingdom of Heaven we have to become like children.

Dancing in the rain doesn't hurt either. 

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Fly like an eagle

It's that time again!

I can't believe my year of HAPPY has already come to an end. For a word that arrived with more than a little skepticism on my part, I'll admit it served me well. I truly think about happiness differently now and know I will continue to carry my happy intentions into 2018 and beyond.

In fact, the thought of not having HAPPY as my guiding word anymore is kinda making me a little sad. :(

I mean, who doesn't want to be happy?

(However, if you don't want to be happy, or find yourself avoiding happiness, it might be time to figure out why. I totally recommend a year of HAPPY.) 

But the whole point of the Word of the Year isn't that we leave those guideposts behind at the start of a new year, but rather that we keep them as part of our ever-expanding toolbox of growth and learning.

So, stick around HAPPY and let's see who else is joining the party!

A few weeks ago, I would have told you that I had no idea where I was headed for 2018, but in the past few days one word has kept tugging on my sleeve and whispering in my ear.

I've learned to pay attention to overly persistent words.

Honestly, I don't really know what to say about this word because I'm not at all sure where it's leading me. I am also not really sure why my soul seems so gosh darn certain I need this word. But the number of ways this word has kept coming at me lately leads me to believe that Somebody is 100% positive I do need this word.

And interestingly enough, listening to that voice is giving me my first opportunity to practice my 2018 Word of the Year.

Drumroll please....

My 2018 Word of the Year is....


At first when this word kept leaping in front of my face like a classroom full of Kindergartners who all want to tell you what they got for Christmas, I was sure I knew what my verse would be.

When I think of TRUST I immediately think of Proverbs 3: 5-6:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.

Solid verse for sure. 

Totally TRUST-centered and useful. 

Buuuut.....that same little inner voice kept telling me that wasn't the verse I was looking for.

Maybe it is because that for me, as of right now, I'm not sure TRUST is about looking for direction, or the right path. It certainly COULD comes at ya fast. Who knows what could be around the corner?

I'm prepared that I may have some very unexpected lessons in TRUST ahead of me.

But as of me....I feel like TRUST is about releasing the generalized anxiety that has settled in my chest of late. It's laying down the burden of feeling like I need to do everything just right for everyone else so that their lives can turn out okay. 

It's about being free, and light, and confident that in the big picture, at all times, in all ways, we are held and loved and safe.

So, instead, I'm going with this verse:

I could use me some "new strength" and even though I really prefer to do more sitting than walking or running, I like the idea of soaring. 

And....eagles make me think of my Dad. 

Flying like an eagle also makes me think of the Steve Miller Band which I only share to let you know what God is working with when he deals with this scattered, easily distracted, musical brain of mine. 

Have mercy, Lord. 

God knows I need it. 

But I TRUST that He can use even the most imperfect of vessels like this one to bring His light into the world. 

I wanna fly like an eagle...
to the sea....
fly like an eagle...
let my spirit carry me...

Alrighty then...looks like we have a 2018 Theme Song, too.

And a mascot.

I'm liking 2018 already. 

Sunday, December 3, 2017

No day but today

This morning, Facebook took it upon itself to remind me of a blog post I wrote two years ago today. It was a post about Advent, and Mary, and choosing to be still when the world swirls in chaos.

In other words, still oddly appropriate for today. The more things change, the more they stay the same- as they say.

More than that though, two other smaller details, unrelated to the words of the blog post itself, jumped out at me.

First, my sweet friend Annie had left a comment on the post. Annie was also someone who loved to write and always expressed herself beautifully. Two years later, Annie is no longer physically with us in this world.

Second, looking at the date of the post, I realized I wrote those words one week before my world would be upended in ways I could have never imagined. Talk about chaos and disruption and confusion and grief.

Two years later and two of my favorite people in the world, two people who were the best of friends to one another and so many others, are gone. With us, but not with us.


I know....I know...A bit gloomy for this first Sunday of Advent.

I'm known for my love of Christmas music, the happy endings of Hallmark Christmas movies, my abiding love for Santa, and more often than not a childlike glee of Christmas that rivals Buddy the Elf.

That's all true.

But, like so, so many others (and everyone eventually), I've known some sad Christmas seasons. In fact, there is still a lot of heaviness to this one.

That's when I am grateful for Advent and the real Christmas story. Because while it's a joyful story, it isn't really a happy one.

It's pretty dark. It's a little scary. It contains more than a few confusing elements. And in the end what it asks most of you is simply faith.

Or not so simply.

There are many ways to live out one's faith. For me, continuing to love Christmas in the face of sadness is one of mine. It is my way of saying to death, You cannot have this. You are not powerful enough to make me lose this, too. 

Tracy and Annie were full of light. Literally bursting with it. To choose light is to choose them. If they are to be found, and felt, it will never be in darkness.

Which is why even when darkness descends, which it does from time to time, I always know I can't stay there long. I might rest there for a moment. It can feel like a relief sometimes to just let the despair rise and take cover in the blackness. But it won't take long and their spark will start to flicker from somewhere, telling me it's time to come back.

Come back into the light.


I saw Rent this past week, which was one of Tracy's favorite Broadway musicals. I hadn't seen it in years so seeing it now, on the other side of this loss, was a wildly different experience.

When I had said I wanted to go to the show, it felt like maybe it was a strange choice to see during the Christmas season. Having just seen Holiday Inn the week prior, it was an odd juxtaposition.

Really though, it was pretty much the perfect contrast.

Holiday Inn- the happy, giddy, bubbly side of Christmas. Rent- the dark, melancholy side of Christmas. Yet in both stories there is the reminder that what we have is each other. We are here to love each other, celebrate with each other, help each other, and hope that there is a happy ending somewhere down the line.

I believe there will be.

I believe in the Light.

How do you measure the life of a woman or a man?
How about love?

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Turn toward the sun

Two weeks ago, Annie went away to a week-long, sleep-away camp for the first time.

I'd like to tell you that I spent those six nights eating out with my husband, sipping wine, and watching movies on Netflix. I'd like to tell you that I joyfully celebrated both her newfound independence and my own.

I would like to tell you that.

I would.

I can't.

I. was. utterly. inexplicably. unjustifiably. disappointingly. DEPRESSED!

Okay, I got better by about Wednesday. It did get better. Ben even canceled the intervention he had scheduled once he saw that I was out of bed and brushing my hair again. (I'm kidding, people! It wasn't that bad. I mean, I still had to get out of bed to EAT. I don't think there is anything that will stop me from getting to the food.)

But I did have to come to terms with the fact that I might not be completely prepared for my youngest child to move from childhood to full-blown adolescence. It is possible I need to do some work when it comes to finding my identity outside of my role as 'mom'.

It's funny, too, because I am really not the most sentimental mom. I didn't cry sending my kids to Kindergarten, or college, or any grade in between. For the most part, I'm always pretty on board with my kids hitting new milestones and spreading their wings and all that. So, what was different here?

Truthfully, I just missed her.

I knew she was having a blast. I knew she was safe. I knew she was going to come home with enough stories to last for DAYS. But Annie has been my sidekick for 12 years now in a way that has been different than it was with the boys.

This isn't about "favorites" or anything as ridiculous as that. Anyone who knows me knows my boys have my whole heart from now until the end of time. I am literally nuts about them. But they came along as almost a package deal. Even at three years apart, I feel like they were mostly raised together, growing from babies, to little boys, to bigger boys, to teens, in fairly close proximity to one another. They shared bedrooms (often literally sharing a bed), friends, teachers, carpools...and were always, always..."the boys".

When Annie was a toddler she would call them "my boys".

"Where are my boys?"

"My boys can be very loud."

"My boys are so naughty."

All true.

They were and are "the boys" and the boys appropriately stopped needing to be attached to mom 24/7 a long, long time ago. There are wistful moments, and sweet memories, but I got used to it quite awhile ago.

However, truth be told, I think part of what made that letting go easier, is the little sister who came along behind them to heal their mama's heart.

It's hard to adequately put into words the confusing conundrum of good rising out of bad. But it's a paradox of life we see all the time. People speak of silver linings, or blessings, or karma, or sometimes even, maddeningly in my opinion, the idea of having received a reward for one's suffering. And even though sometimes those words and explanations frustrate me, because they don't fit with my faith, or experience, or simply my heart...I know they are there because the right words don't exist.

We don't have the words to say, "I hate what happened to me. I still hate it. I still wish it never happened. But I'm so grateful for the things that came into my life because of it."

All I can think to say is that it is ultimately the language of healing. Because I don't think we begin to heal until we can open ourselves up to the possibility that light, and love, and joy, and new beginnings are possible. We open ourselves up knowing that it never means we have to say this loss, or experience, or journey isn't still painful. We never have to pretend it didn't happen. We just don't have to let it block out the light.

When I went back to my amazing, wonderful, compassionate fertility doctor after the loss of our twins, he cleared his schedule and sat down with me for more than hour. He didn't want to just know what happened (he already knew all the medical details), he wanted to know my story. He wanted to know how I was doing. He wanted assurance that I was getting help, and support, and that I was being allowed to grieve.

He knew I was there because I was considering trying for another baby. There was no other reason for me to be there and part of me was afraid he was going to look at this broken woman in front of him and say, no. No, you are not ready. No, you are not strong enough for this yet. No, I'm not willing to help you open yourself to that kind of pain again.

All he asked me was, "Are you sure you are ready?"

I gulped back tears and said quietly, "I know it won't 'fix' anything. I know there will always be a part of me that will feel sad about this loss, and these babies. But..."

I struggled to compose myself. I took several deep breaths and he waited quietly.

"But...I need to feel hope again. I don't want to be afraid to hope again."

He nodded and gave me a small smile. He looked out the window and thought to himself for a few moments.

Then he squeezed my hand across the table and said, "Okay, then. Time to turn toward the sun."

And I knew exactly what he meant.

So, you will forgive me when I have some weak moments as my Annie girl marches forward into these years of greater independence, searching, separating, and struggle. Even so, I promise that at the end of the day she will have no more enthusiastic cheerleader than her mom. I am with her, for her, and I would never want to be the one to hold her back.

Still...there is a reason I have always called her my Sunshine.

You make me happy when skies are gray. 

Friday, May 5, 2017


This week I lost someone close to me.

And while she was in fact someone close to me, even more so she was someone very, very close to many other people close to me. So, even as I feel my own loss, my own shock over her absence in this world, I feel even more devastated for the people standing at the epicenter.

Her very young son. Her husband. Her best friends. Her family.

Along with the sorrow, there is concern, and worry, and then even more layers of sorrow.

I've been reminded again this week how slow I can be in processing loss. It just doesn't penetrate to my heart and soul as quickly as it seems to for some people. I am not that person who can burst into tears immediately upon hearing bad news, and I kind of wish I were. I hold it in my gut. It feels like anxiety and stress before it feels like sadness. On the outside I can be very calm. I don't have many words to say, or I have too many words to say and it's all a rambling stream of nothing. But I hold it together. I'm that person who often appears very "strong" in a crisis.

Inside, my heart hurts and my stomach is in knots.

I feel nervous. Jittery. Anxious.

I fear what comes next.

Because what comes some point...when my brain has done its work filtering through the confusion and dismay over the reality of that which is done and unchangeable...I feel sad. Really, really sad.

I hate feeling sad.

Honestly, I'm kind of tired of feeling sad.

And I say that knowing full well that I am among the luckiest people in the world living a wonderful life full of so much happy.

I know that, and I'm grateful. Truly, truly grateful.

But sad is sad.

You can't wish it away and you can't even 'gratitude journal' it away. No matter the enormity of the blessings in your life, when grief comes knocking there is no hedge of protection wide enough to shield you. You just have to feel it.

Or, you don't, and then you get all the problems that come with that but I'll leave that to the professionals to explain why that's a bad idea. (And it is a bad idea so if you are dealing with repressed grief, maybe go talk to someone?)

So....this is really not a good blog post given my whole Word of the Year and all that. But when I picked the word "happy" it wasn't because I believed that would magically mean I would get 365 days of easy breezy sunshine days full of cookies and margaritas (Yes, I think that sounds like a perfect combination. What?) It was more about setting an intention to keep looking for happiness, and recognizing happiness, even in the midst of life's inevitable rough patches.

I also chose the word "happy" (or did it choose me???) because I had started to recognize in myself a tendency to hold happiness at arm's length. Not because I don't enjoy feeling happy but because sometimes it can feel like too much happiness only puts you at more risk for eventually feeling sad.

In the last 48 hours I've felt that inclination creeping in again. The desire to throw up some walls and see if maybe I can't just build a fortress of protection against future pain. Sure, it makes for a rather boring, lonely life but maybe it's worth it in the long run??

I know. It's not.

And the bright light who left us this week never would have done that. She lived utterly without walls and knew so much love and happiness because of it.

She was like a field of clover.

Beautiful. Wide open. Full of life. And you felt lucky to be around her.

"Blessed are they who have the gift of making friends, for it is one of God's best gifts. It involves many things, but above all, the power of going out of one's self, and appreciating whatever is noble and loving in another." Thomas Hughes 

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The Happy List v.3.0: The Birthday Edition!

HAPPY birthday to me!!


Yes, today is my birthday.

My 47th birthday. On a Tuesday. So..... not anything to get too revved up about.

BUT the sun is shining which is a welcome change and we should always be grateful for another year to try and get this whole life thing right. God knows I'm still working on it.

Exhibit A: Last night I had a terrible night's sleep in that "sleeping" was not what I was doing at all, and then the scale decided to gift me a number this morning that I was in no mood to see (Do not even ask me why I opted to weigh in ON MY BIRTHDAY! I never claimed to be mentally stable.), and then I found out that Snow Miser was going to foil my sweet husband's attempts to get home for my birthday, and then I decided that all of that meant I should eat some seriously crap food for lunch which really only served to make me feel gross (WHEN WILL I LEARN??)...

....and so then I decided I better make a Happy List and quick!!!!

1. Birthday Memories

My 40th Birthday with two of my best girls.
Feels like yesterday and a lifetime ago.
Any actual birthday celebration I have ever had as an adult- meaning celebrating with some sort of party and people other than my husband and kids- was because Tracy made me. She was the perpetual Birthday Girl who not only loved to celebrate her own birthday but everyone else's as well.

One of my most special happy/sad birthday memories that I've been thinking about a lot lately is the one I celebrated after we lost our babies. It had been four months and I was still mostly spending my days alone at home, but I think Tracy knew that with the right people, in a familiar environment, it would be good for me to be with friends. She gently floated the idea of a small dinner at her house with just a handful of close friends. I still have the picture we took that night and I can see in my eyes so clearly what that gathering meant to me. I look tired, and a little sad, but also hopeful. I was smiling and for one of the first times in those four months, the smile was real. 

She was a big part of so many of my best birthday moments and while I miss her desperately, I'm trying to cherish the memories and keep smiling- just as she would want me to.

2. Sweet friends & family

I have gotten so many nice messages today that it's impossible to remain in a funk for too long. I especially appreciate everyone who has encouraged me to partake in as many sweet things as possible without guilt or regret. 

My people get me.

One of my favorite birthday messages came from one of my oldest and dearest friends (We have literally known each other since birth. Well, her birth since I was born a month earlier than her.). This friend has always rivaled Tracy in her ability to NEVER forget an occasion and to always send a card on time. 

(Sigh...she really puts her postally challenged lifelong friend to serious shame. But not really because she's the nicest person ever so therefore has never shamed anyone in her life.)

Anywhooooo.... Lucky for me in addition to being incredibly nice she also has a just-the-right-amount-of-spicy sense of humor and totally gets me.

This card made me laugh and laugh...

Oh, I do love a good purse.

3. Sunshine

Did I mention the sun is shining today?

Cold. Still snow on the ground. We will take what we can get.

4. Messages for the Moment

I don't know about you but sometimes it's just plain WEIRD how certain messages can come through at just the right time. 

One of my favorite books of daily readings had this thought for my birthday (why it doesn't actually say "Lori's Birthday" I do not know.)

"I want that spirit or force of happiness that is so much deeper than happy- peace that comes from you toes..."

Love that. 

5. After School Snacks

Annie has the best after school snack ideas. 

When I wondered if we really should have ice cream at 3:00, Annie wisely said, "Mom. Treat yo' self!"

And so we did.

Happy Fat Tuesday, Friends! 

Tomorrow...we fast. 

For sure.


Saturday, January 28, 2017

Mind over matter

Folks are usually about as happy as they make up their mind to be.
~attributed to Abraham Lincoln

I have a loooong memory. 

I'm one of those people who has bizarrely early memories of their childhood and a particularly uncanny ability to remember the seemingly unimportant and insignificant details of life. In fact, I tend to specialize in childhood memories that would appear to have no memorable qualities at all. 

Random things we ate in places that don't matter. What someone was wearing. The book I was reading at the time. Snippets of conversations that served no purpose beyond the moment in which they existed. 

I can hardly tell you any of the names of the cities or historic places my cousin Tracy and I visited on our trip to Germany with our grandparents, but I can sure tell you about the 99 different things we laughed about during those 10 days. If she were here and I suddenly barked out, "PURE VASSAR!" she would collapse in a fit of laughter, I guarantee it.

One such small moment has been bubbling up in my memory bank these past weeks. Ever since choosing my Word of the Year, I've been replaying a scene from Lori: The Early Years over and over.

I was about 9 or 10 years old.

(If my sister is reading this she is laughing right now because I almost always think I was about 9 or 10 years old when recalling memories from childhood. Must have been a big year for me. 😉  )

My dad had just come home from work and I could hear the door from the garage to the house slam shut. 

(For years and years after he died, I still associated that sound with him coming home. It took a long time for the disappointment to fade, hearing that door close and having it still not be him.)

His heavy steps went from the mud room, to the TV room, to the front hallway. I came running up from the basement to say hello to him.

I was probably in the basement because after around the age of 10 (!) that's where my bedroom was to be found. And I would have been running because there was a space between my bedroom door and the bottom of the stairs where it was still possible for the basement monsters to grab me if I didn't move fast enough. 

Oh, you don't believe me?

Ha. Well, I'd have liked to see you try casually walking from my childhood bedroom to the stairs. I'm 100% certain we would have never seen you again. 

I, myself, was taking no chances and always, always made a mad dash from the threshold of my bedroom to that first bottom stair. Once you hit the staircase you were safe but I always ran up the rest of them as well, because you can never be too careful when dealing with basement monsters. 

As I careened up those final stairs and made the hairpin turn into the front hallway my dad stopped his trek from the garage-to-mud-room-to-tv-room-to-hallway-to-kitchen, his final destination, and smiled at me. 

Most likely, he said something like, "Well, Lorinda! (One of his many nicknames for me.) How ya doin'?"

And I must have said, "Great!" Or, "Good!" Or, "Super Duper!" Because the part I remember most is what he said next.

He gave me a squeeze and issued what became a prophecy over my life. 

Oh, I don't think he knew that's what he was doing for one second. I think he was just saying what came to mind in that moment. But sometimes the things we say without thinking too hard about them are the very truest things that we really mean the most.

At least, that's the way I took it.

He gave me one of his famous hugs, squeezing my face into that barrel chest and said, "That's what I love about you. You're always happy. You're a happy person, Lorinda. That's a good thing to be."

And off he went to sort through the mail he had carried in, and to talk to my mom about his day and what was for dinner, and to probably lie down on his bed and read one of the 18 magazines he subscribed to.

And I went slowly back downstairs-until I got to the bottom and then had to sprint to my bedroom- thinking to myself all the way.... "I am? I'm a happy person?"

I wasn't always a happy kid. I could be brooding, and emotional, and WAY too dramatic at times. No one is always a happy person. My dad knew that. This wasn't about setting up some expectation for my life that I could never attain. This was about a general quality he saw in me, or maybe it's just what he saw in me in that moment.

But it stuck with me. 

And whether it was something that was always there and he just gave it life, or it was something that grew out of his words, but from that day forward I strived to be the person my father saw in me. I believed myself to be at my core...a happy person. 

Which is why I'm still here believing in the pursuit of happiness. Even in my moments of deepest sorrow, there has always been a part of me deep down that believed I would feel happy again. And when those happy moments come, however fleeting, I try to grab them. I try to remember to close my eyes and add them to my stockpile of memories so they can be used as band-aids when the wounds of life break open again. 

I'm a happy person.

I always have been.

My Dad told me so.

"Children will not remember you for the material things you provided,
but for the feeling that you cherished them."
~Gail Grenier Sweet