Posts Tagged ‘Judy Clement Wall’

I discovered this wonderful new website called, a human thing. It inspired this poem. Please go there and look around, it will make you feel all warm and glad to be a part of this wonderfully messy world that we all share.

… and we dance around in the chaos of the waves,
wondering what the tide will bring in.
shifting from side to side,
digging in our toes.
… a human thing
… and the waves pound us,
deep in the chest,
trying so hard to take a breath.
listening for the voice,

looking for the beacon.
… a human thing
… and we steady ourselves on the uneven surf,
waiting for the calm to fill us.
our religion is here,
where the waves battle the sand.
… a human thing
… and i turn my head to look at you,
the tightrope we’re walking between the waves and the shore.
connected by the messy beauty of love,
the grayness of that space between.
… a human thing
… and so many of us,
unbalanced on the sand,
a community of reluctant warriors.
the strength we see in the others,
inching our way closer to the waves.
… a human thing
… and we keep falling down,
it’s so hard to keep our balance.
i feel a hand reaching for my light,
pulling me to my feet.
… a human thing
… and connected together,
we’re much stronger in this space.
as we all breathe in the love from each other,
falling down,
messing up.
… a human thing
… and if we loosen our grip on each other,
we may get tripped up by the sand.
don’t give in to the sea pulling us under,
we’re all navigating the same stormy ocean.
… a human thing
… and these tangled words,
they tend to lead our messages astray.
but we’ll breathe and we’ll leap and we’ll evolve,
connected like kite strings,
drifting up from the surf.
… a human thing
… and somewhere in that salty mist,
our bare skin is so exposed.
we look at all the others gathered here,
holding each other in our hands.
… a human thing
… and love is so much easier than we realize,
a laugh,
an ache,
a song,
a story,
a smile,
a painting,
a poem,
a glance backwards as the words bounce around on those waves that are far less intimidating when we’re all shifting on the sand together,
this is who we are.
this is who i am.
… a human thing
… a human thing

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I was doing my yoga practice this morning. And, as has been a common occurence this summer, my youngest daughter had made her way to my bed when she awoke and was watching my TV. It is a bit difficult to concentrate on the yoga video playing on the laptop while hearing Phineas and Ferb scheme in the back ground — but still, it’s a nice time of my daughter asking questions about yoga and me trying to explain a feeling to her. She often joins in, as she did this morning.

She became very curious this morning when I had finished with my practice and was beginning my savasana. She asked if I was ok. Sometimes I find myself crying, only slightly, when I’m doing savasana. I’ve gotten so used to it I wipe my tears and sweat without thinking. But this morning, I had company. So she asked if I was ok. I was, actually. I was very ok, actually. I explained to her what savasana was and asked her if she wanted to try — she did. I positioned her next to me in the corpse pose and then resumed my own. And there we were, lost in our thoughts — together. After a couple of minutes I felt her soft warm hand making its way into mine — and there was my connection. Lying beside me, steadying my thoughts and nurturing my soul — her soft warm hand did all of that… and I wiped a tear from my cheek.

Later in the day, as my older children were off at a swimming party, my youngest and I set out to the movies and dinner together — I can’t imagine a more perfect date. We settled into our seats at the theater and were immediately captivated by the previews. When the movie started, it had some scenes at the beginning that were a bit sad. I reached over and held her soft warm hand in mine once again, there in the dark of the theater during the sad parts. And she smiled at me. And we were connected.

I was talking with a friend recently and told her of how my kids had spent their first night away from me and at their father’s house. She asked, in a very concerned voice, how I was. My reply was quick and sure because I was great. I told her it was nice to be alone with my thoughts and a book and this keyboard. I told her it was refreshing. Her distorted look let me know I had committed a “mommie crime”. So I immediately added that I was sure it would be difficult next time.

Well next time is here and still… I’m good. I’m here, in my room typing away on this keyboard uninterrupted and although I love my children more than words can describe, I am here, in this moment, content and happy and once again surrounded by a lovely silence.

I’ve never claimed to be the best mother, I’ve only claimed to not be the worst. I rarely ever left my kids to go out with friends. I have used a baby-sitter less than 5 times that I can think of — my oldest is 14. I used to think this meant I was better than most. I stayed home, I put off my life to ensure theirs. Now, I question many decisions. I read this post by a wonderful writer, mother, and friend. And I started to question. Questioning leads to improvement… I hope.

So, tonight, on the second night that my children are sleeping over at their dad’s house, I am content. I am profoundly content in my aloneness and in their awayness. I am here, in this moment, and I am resting comfortably.

Tomorrow night, when my kids are back here, I will read them stories and I will talk about boys and girls and video games and I will kiss them goodnight. And I will reach for that soft warm hand that nurtures my soul and I will be connected. But tonight, I will talk to my best friend on the phone, I will turn the TV off, I will read a few favorite blogs, I will eat a bowl of cereal for dinner. I am learning to be a better mother, a better person… a better me. It’s never too late to improve and it’s never too late to get back to basics.

Picture from Kind Over Matter

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I’ve been thinking a lot lately about sinking and swimming and leaping and moving on and standing still and … well, you get the point. And reading this post, by the magnificent Judy Clement Wall, made me (as usual) think about events in life that we all face to some extent. We are all bound together in this life by love and loss and death and belonging. It’s what we do at the denouement that separates us, really. I like to think that I’m leaping and moving and continuing, but sometimes I wonder. I wonder if using the words… writing them or speaking them or thinking them is all I’ve been doing.

Sinking can be scary. When you quit struggling or quit attempting or just quit… that’s it, you sink. And you can’t breathe and you can’t move and you can’t hear or feel or think. And then, there in the sinking, you find a moment’s peace — when you can’t hear or feel or think and you take a deep cleansing breath. And your lungs suddenly expand with the want of more and you softly float back up and peek out from under the wreckage. And in that moment, the sinking becomes pure ecstasy. And you wonder why you were afraid to sink at all.

Swimming can be scary. You realize you’re going under and you jump in to avoid it — to avoid the crash. And you can see the distant shore of a friend or a loved one and you hope you have the strength to make it there… to make it to them. And it hurts to breathe because you’re struggling so hard and you become tired and you become scared at reaching them at all because what if they don’t realize how far you just swam. But then a hand reaches out and you feel the warmth of the connection and your pulse intensifies and you breathe deep and cover the remaining distance like you were made for this… like it was easy all along. And you wonder why you were afraid to swim at all.

Sink or swim.

I choose neither. I choose both. There is balance in both. There is connection in both. There can be vital life affirming outcomes reached… as long as you don’t remain steadfast in the sinking or hell-bent on the swimming. As long as you realize when you’ve reached that point, the point when it’s time to move again, the point when it’s time to stand still, the point when it’s time to shift, the point when it’s time to breathe.

Sink or Swim.

You don’t need a third option — the best two options are there for you… waiting for you to take a chance, waiting for you to decide… waiting for you to sink or swim or both. We pass through this life and we find the others that were made for us… the ones we were supposed to find — the ones that bring us the missing pieces to the puzzle. And when we find them, we realize why we took another breath when we thought our lungs were done. We realize why we kept swimming when we thought our hearts could beat no more. We realize we’re here… connected by the need to rise up from under the wreckage and swim for the shore.

Picture from Kind Over Matter

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I think the mind (my mind) works in the same manner as a web search works. You know when you go to Google something (you know you Google) and it directs you to your page but then once you get to your page there’s an interesting link that relates to your page and so you click on the interesting link on your page and it takes you to another interesting link on another interesting page and pretty soon you’re 10 links away from your original link and you can’t quite remember why you needed the original link in the first place because where you ended up seems to have put you in another completely different Google mindset? Do you know that feeling? This is often my brain at work, my thought process.

Here’s my most recent example. And, by recent, I mean when I started to write this post because it’s happened several times since beginning, but fortunately I was able to come back here and regroup… wait, what were we talking about? Oh yes, my often scattered thought process.

I read a post, by the lovely and talented Judy Clement Wall, about being vulnerable, really. At least that was my take away from it — vulnerability in life, in blogs, in friendships… everywhere. And how, sometimes, we just have to give in to the vulnerability because if we don’t, we stand to lose out on some interesting experiences, life-long friendships, and personal growth.

It amazes me how lonely we can feel in a world so crowded. I think that’s why little acts of kindness never feel little, why we are biologically altered by each others touch, why love makes us feel so alive and endings sometimes feel like little deaths… Judy Clement Wall

So there we are, in the middle of balancing feelings of being alive when our lungs are filled to capacity and little deaths that hurt… and take our breath away. Vulnerability.

Another lovely and talented lady, Terre Pruitt, spun her own web of wonder from this post. Terre is an instructor in Nia. I don’t really understand Nia but am growing more and more interested in the practice.

…in Nia being barefoot is about exercising the feet, but it also is about being aware, being present, being open, and being free and some people need to work up to that. — Terre Pruitt

When I read Terre’s post, I began thinking about my own bare foot naked wiggly toed self — and vulnerability — and balance. And here’s where my scattered thoughts brought me… to the beach.

I love the beach, although, in Tennessee, the nearest beach is around a 7 hour drive (that’s alone, without stopping and without kids — you get the idea), so when I arrive there, I smell it and I feel it and I let it take me away. I love standing right at the edge of the ocean where the water continually comes up to cover your feet and your toes and as it does, it takes the sand from underneath you, just enough so that your footing becomes unsteady. And in that unsteadiness, when you can either remain rooted in your spot and continue to sink down further until you lose your balance and fall or you can adjust your feet and allow the sand to fill in the spaces under your toes so that you balance and climb and stay above it all — so that you’re not stuck, in that space… you can choose balance. I always choose to move my feet. I risk the shakiness of being balanced on one foot long enough to allow the ground to recover and the sand to drain between my toes — there, I am balanced. In the sand that is constantly being shifted and churned and taken away and replaced — balance is achieved effortlessly.

Balance can be a chain reaction. It can be achieved by reading a post by a friend and then reading another post by a another friend or it can be achieved by the people you choose to allow in your life or it can be achieved by shifting your stance just enough to allow the sand to fall between your toes. Perhaps it’s all of these, and more I suspect. Perhaps it’s a chain reaction — like many things in life.

Be aware of wonder. Live a balanced life – learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.
Robert Fulgham

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I was on baseball duty with my son today. He’s been playing baseball since he was in kindergarten, he’s in the fifth grade now. He likes baseball. He always checks the local leagues website to make sure he doesn’t miss sign-ups each season — although, I’ve tried to talk him out of it the last couple of seasons.

I was worried it was making him sad. He sits the bench… a lot and he bats last in the order… a lot. Last season he stopped swinging the bat whenever his turn came up. His coach, his dad, his sister, his teammates, me — we all would tell him to swing the bat — just swing the bat…he never did. So, this year, I was hoping he might choose to leave baseball behind. But there he was, looking at the website, making sure I didn’t forget to sign him up. He chooses baseball.

In baseball, the universal phrase for coaches to say when they have confidence in a kid who is up to bat is, “give it a ride”. When my son got up to bat, the coaches would say, “just swing the bat.”

I was sad for him, as any mother would be. By the time the season was winding down last year, he would often leave the field, hiding his tears. I asked him on many occasions why he just wouldn’t swing. He said he was afraid he would do it the wrong way or at the wrong time and then everyone would be disappointed in him. It’s true, what he said. An elementary school kid with an understanding of human nature.

We get in ruts and it’s easier to stay there then to work your way out. Working your way out takes effort and time and patience. Often, it’s easier to just not attempt to leap for fear that you’ll do it wrong — fear that the net won’t appear. It’s easier to not try because if you do it wrong, someone is bound to point it out — sometimes our mistakes are easier to point out than the stuff we get right. It’s easier to hope for four balls, then to swing and risk the three strikes.

So, back to today. The first day of scrimmages for my son. The first game he had three at bats, no swings. After the game, I had my usual talk with him about why he should swing and why it was so important to do things that he was afraid of and if it didn’t work out then he would at least know what it felt like to swing — to take a chance… to leap.

The second game, his turn in the batting order finally came up. He looked at me long enough for me to motion to him to take a breath — and he swung the bat.

He missed — strike 1.

The next pitch — he swung, foul ball — strike 2.

The third pitch — he swung and it was the most beautiful bomb to center field ever. My elation was only second to his as he rested at second base.

That’s all it took, just an attempt. He hit the ball two more times after that. He wasn’t afraid to leap, he wasn’t afraid to strike out and risk people being disappointed or angry. He gave it a ride — and it was beautiful. But truthfully, I missed the bravest thing he was doing. I overlooked his leaping. He was leaping every year when he chose baseball. Swinging the bat was just an added bonus. So maybe, we overlook our own attempts to leap. Maybe we’re leaping… maybe I’m leaping. Maybe…

And now, go visit the absolute best blog on the webZebra Sounds, written by the hugely talented and lovely Judy Clement Wall, who gives us a beautiful reminder to take a breath and leap — a net will appear.

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So, I was thinking about this superhero thing and how superhero’s are completely evolved into these…well, superheros. Superheros have this way of walking into your life and making it seem a little more bearable. And hopefully, they stay. Hopefully they don’t fly away to answer the next cry for help.

I recently read a post by my good friend, the brilliant Judy Clement Wall, about how sometimes we have to step into reality and focus on the things that physically bind us together (ok, so that may be my interpretation — not hers!). But, as usual with her writing, it made me think.

I thought about how much I love to spend time with my kids. We often do fun things together — like go to the lake, take trips to Disney, hold each other, hug, talk, laugh. I love for my kids to smile and be happy. Sometimes they’re not though — that’s just the way it goes in human nature. And when they’re not happy, I reach for that borrowed superhero cape and pretend for a moment that I can save the day, that I can rescue them, that I am their superhero.

By nature, kids want to be happy — it borders on selfish I would say. Not in a bad way, don’t get me wrong. But, they need to be happy because that’s what feels the best. It’s primal. It’s instinctive. So, as a mother who aspires to be a superhero, I try to shield them from anything other than the “happy”. But, sometimes, it’s unavoidable. Sometimes the “happy” seems so far away that attaining it is, quite simply, impossible to fathom — especially in the mind of a child. As a mother who aspires to be a superhero, that is the hardest part. To stay focused on an end result that you know will bring the “happy” to everyone — just maybe not soon enough for the child’s need for immediate gratification.

So, the quest continues. The quest to be a superhero is long and tedious. It changes everyday with each new cry for help, with each new need to make the “happy” stay as long as possible.

Superheros seem happy don’t they? At least the make-believe one’s always solve the crisis with a smile, a kind word — and then they leave. But, the real superheros — I think — stick around. They don’t need to fly off. Maybe they need someone to help them find the “happy” too. Maybe the real superheros, with a little help from their friends, can get past all the masked bad guys and find the “happy” — and then share it, especially with the kids.

Oh, to be a superhero.

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A friend of mine, Judy Clement Wall, just updated her blog recently with a list of ten things she believes, now. I think the now part is significant. I think what we believe in changes throughout our life — maybe depending on who you think you are, who you actually are, or who you might be striving to be. So, the question of what do I believe in now is difficult at best.

When I was around 5, I truly believed that the Easter bunny was in my house, sneaking off with my newly decorated eggs. Over the years, I’ve asked my siblings if they ever actually saw the Easter bunny in our house (I’m not quite sure it didn’t actually happen).

When I was a kid, I spent every summer with my grandparents — (as the youngest, I suppose it was my duty). I believed without doubt that there was some sort of monster living in their basement. I never went down there alone. I even had dreams about the monster in the basement. In the dreams, I would walk down a narrow rope bridge into the basement. I could hear the monster growling lowly as I approached it. But, I always woke up before I had to see the full horror of the thing. That “believe” changed by the time I was 11 or 12, when I discovered that being alone wasn’t all bad and the basement was a great hiding out place.

When I was around 15 or 16, I believed I was going to play in Wimbledon. (No, seriously — I really thought it was possible). I hit a million balls off the back stop at my high school. I always wanted to practice with the boys because I thought it would give me an edge. And then I played a girl who had the same “believe”. Her “believe” seemed much more viable than mine as I exited the regional tournament quicker than I’d hoped.

What we believe in changes with age, with circumstances … with life.

Maybe my confusion comes from the word itself: believe. (I, of course, googled to see what the actual definition of the word was — it was spectacular). By definition: believe is to have confidence in the truth, the existence, or the reliability of something, although without absolute proof that one is right in doing so.

This explains so much really. The entire existence of this word is based on opinion, confidence — without proof. Maybe the answers aren’t always in the concrete — maybe the answers are somewhere floating around, hoping someone grabs on to them and takes them as their own.

So, what do I believe in…now?

I believe that everyone has something to offer. Even those we think are beyond reproach. Because, at some point in everyone’s life, they must have done something worthy of praise, something worthy of being believed in.

So, maybe, that’s my “believe” that I will take into the new year. That everyone deserves to be believed in — if only for a little while. Everyone deserves their “believe” to be plucked out of the air and made real.

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There are many forces that motivate people to do things. I don’t mean bad things, I’m talking about good things. Really, every positive decision we make in life is due to an intrinsic motivation to “do better” to “become better” to “achieve more”. Sometimes, it’s the intrinsic part that becomes so difficult and holds us back — the last thing anyone wants to be is selfish.

I have always loved to read. Sometimes though, the things I read weren’t exactly appropriate for my age. I will blame this on my mother (see previous post). When I was in the fourth grade, I did a book report on Sybil. Yes, that Sybil. My fourth grade teacher laughs about that whenever I see her. She said she just assumed it was standard reading material in my house — it was. My mother always had journals on Psychology lying around. There was always some thick book of case studies just begging me to read it. Those books were so fascinating to me. Oh, I owned other books too, I had the whole Little House series — (it was mandatory back then).

In the fifth grade we had to do a report on a historical figure — I chose Gloria Steinem. Yes, that Gloria Steinem. (This again, I will blame on my mother.) I never really understood the kids who were reading C.S. Lewis or Nancy Drew Mysteries. To me, you really couldn’t get more interesting than a woman with multiple personalities or someone as out-spoken as Ms. Steinem.

Thankfully, I discovered literature. It was in college when I really understood what I had been missing. I was taking a women of short story literature class. My world changed completely. I could not stop reading. Margaret Atwood, Emily Carr, Alice Munro, Dorothy Parker, Flannery O’Connor, Eudora Welty — I went through high school literature classes thinking it was all about Shakespeare and The Great Gatsby (I love both of these, by the way). There were women who wrote stories I could relate to and wrote them really well.

Now, I still love to read. But, with the addition of children, the reading content once again was not exactly age appropriate for me. I am blessed with children who love to read. As a responsible parent, I thought I should screen the books they were reading. So yes, I’ve read all the Harry Potter books (the fact that I read all of them at least 4 times does not have anything to do with the screening process — I get that). I have read all of the Twilight series (yes, ok — more than once). So there I was, once again craving something to read — something that was all mine.

A couple of months ago, I came across the most lovely person on Twitter (get over it). We chatted a bit, she thought I was funny — (this is how I meet most of my friends — if you think I’m funny, I’m yours for life). Turns out she was an author — a really good author. I googled her recently (most facts can be found by googling) and read the most intriguing short story — “Zebra Sounds” by (my long-lost best friend) Judy Clement Wall (please try to finish this post before your curiosity to google her kicks in). Yes! I was back! It was a great story and it was all mine.

This was not the first of my Twitter author finds. I had found and had been tweeting (really, can you move on) with other authors; Laura Zigman (my close personal friend and author of Animal Husbandry), Allison Winn Scotch, Susan Orlean, Julie Klam. And with each new find, I headed to the book store. And with each trip to the book store, I learned that being happy by doing something that was just for you, was ok.

The intrinsic desire that had failed me so many times in my life, was there — with me. Reminding me that happy is good and smiling is better. We all have the ability to be a positive part of our little world’s — sometimes, we need to remember that the intrinsic gratification we get out of it isn’t selfishness — it’s just smiling, and smiling’s my favorite.

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