Pay no attention to the girl behind the curtain

The past few weeks I have been at my introverted best.  I have been sitting quietly.  Thinking.  Stewing a little.  Stepping on a soapbox only to immediately step off.  This is what I do with controversy.  I watch.  And listen.  And think.   And almost speak.  

Once again I have found myself at a loss.  Not just a loss of words, but at times even a loss of thoughts.  I don’t know what to think.  But a lot of other people certainly do.  Facebook has a way of handing everyone a megaphone.  While they sit behind a curtain.  Funny how much more one can say behind a curtain.  A little like I am now I guess.  I listened while everyone was shouting into their megaphones.  I listened while they chose sides.  I was both surprised and not surprised.  I learned that some issues are so polarizing that a middle voice does not exist.  I realized that I used to think the news was that middle voice, but have since changed my mind.  I found that everyone with a megaphone had an agenda.  And was shouting it into my face.  And yet not looking me in the eye.  Pesky curtains…  

Eventually I settled into a deep disappointment—not so much with humanity but with real people.  People in my life, people I socialize with, people who are my friends.  That is when I began to climb upon the soapbox.  But I stopped.  Why should I get a megaphone?  What agenda am I about to push?  Who am I to speak?

I went to a panel discussion.  One where real live people spoke to other real live people—about a controversial issue—without yelling—and while looking at each other in the eyes.  I was in awe of the exchange of ideas and emotion.  The cathartic outpouring of stories, of supporting each other, of looking toward the future.  Not everyone hides behind a curtain.

I realized that I am not ready to step on the soapbox.  There is this log in my own eye I must remove first.  I am not without guilt.  The beauty is that I now have a starting point.  A direction in which to move my foot.   I even have a plan.  I have heard that logs can be removed from eyes, but that it can take a while.  It may also be painful.  But all I can think of is how good it will feel when it is gone.

Unplugging (baby step one)

“Mom, why did you get off Facebook and then get back on again?”


Reasons I unplugged from Facebook:

I spent way too much time with it.
I found myself thinking about each moment from a Facebook perspective—I need a picture to post, how can I turn this into a funny post, must share must share must share.
I found myself getting annoyed with people and beginning to not like them due to their political/religious/insert anything else here posts.
I spent time looking at posts by people I barely know while my own child was sitting next to me trying to tell me a story.
I couldn’t NOT check it throughout the day no matter how much I berated myself for it.

and I plugged back in because

It makes it much easier to stay in the loop of your activities.

And that’s really the only reason I could think of. And yet I am right back here with so many reasons to unplug and only one not to. Is there a way to compromise? I tell myself 10 times a day to stop looking at it but I don’t. Is it time to completely disconnect again?
For now I choose this as a starting point. Deleting the app. Accessibility is huge. Making it more than one tap away is at least something. Not sure it will be enough but it’s a start. I only have this day once!!!!

Going back

“There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.”

― Nelson Mandela


This past week we went back to our college town, which we haven’t been to in years.  We met several of our college friends for the weekend, ate at some of our favorites, and watched the kids play.  While in reality the town (and even parts of campus) has changed a lot, it was still the same.  Campus was beautiful.  The town was fun.  Isolated, yet vibrant.  It was even better than I remembered.  But I am most definitely different.  I am more present than I ever was when I was there.  I noticed things I never did before.  The trees, the people, the stir of life.  I was simply more aware.  It made me want to just walk and watch and simply BE.  It also made me wonder how much I will change in the next 10 years.

White Noise

I have always wished I could be inside someone else’s head for just a day, or even a moment.  How different from my own would it be?  Is it quiet or loud, busy or calm, clear or fuzzy?  I have to describe my own inner sanctum as fuzzy, quiet, and at times disorienting.  I have no idea if that is normal.  I am not even sure if it has always been that way.  I struggle with decisions, something I don’t think has always been true.  As soon as I start thinking of something of any sort of significance I am quickly overwhelmed and drift off to somewhere else.  Sadly my phone is a very powerful enabler.  Perhaps I have not been left alone with my thoughts enough lately.

I think what I am struggling with now is trying to look at the future.  I cannot seem to grasp it.  What will my life be like in 5 years?  This is where things get fuzzy.  I try to envision one and it doesn’t make sense, so I try a different one and it doesn’t make sense.  Last year I made the decision to switch schools in my current job.  I am still working for the same district, same pay, same hours, just at one small school instead of going back and forth between two large schools.  It honestly should have been an easy decision, yet I obsessed over it for weeks.  The only time I wasn’t worried about it was when I managed to completely let it go.  There are still even bigger decisions on the table.  Where should we move and when?  Are we finished having children?  What are our long-term plans?  Just writing the questions causes me to drift off.  I can’t even look at pros and cons.  I can’t have thoughtful conversations with my husband.  I sure as heck can’t actually make a real decision.  I simply find myself turning on my phone and just randomly opening apps.  Nothing but white noise.

Today I seek clarity.

4 more days!!!

Dear Universe,

Thank you for summer vacation!  I promise I will not waste it or fail to appreciate it!  I am literally sitting on my deck listening to the birds, enjoying the afternoon breeze and simply BEING.  I can do that in the summer, just BE…

It’s awesome.

And I’m excited.

4 more days and it’s here :)

My Restless Spirit

It’s in me. This buzz I can’t seem to ignore and yet can’t quite hear clearly.

My soul is restless.

It gets that way sometimes but it is becoming more and more often—-and this time is getting louder and louder. I have this hunger for life—for more of life—not things—just life.

Time for summer!!!

A message to myself, on ‘The Day After’—My Messy Beautiful


To my heartbroken 16-year-old self;


There are some things I need you to know on this quiet morning as you lay in the dark.  To begin with, the answer is yes.  It really happened.  All of it.  That moment right before, when you were laughing and making plans for that night and trying to find your new Alanis Morissette tape.  That moment you felt a bump as the tires left the pavement.  When the car was suddenly back on the road and even more suddenly leaving the road again.  When you saw leaves coming at your door.  When you noticed the car was upside down.  When it all finally stopped and you realized they were gone.  When you crawled under the car to her and heard ‘the noise.’  The passersby, the CPR, the helicopter and ambulances, the ER, the look on your parents faces as they tried to find the words to tell you the truth.  It was all real.  Every last second.

Nothing—-NOTHING—-will ever be the same again.

Today you must just try to breathe.  It will be all you can do.  I know nothing I can say to you on this morning will change the path you are now on, but I need your heart to hear it.  I need these words to provide a beat to keep it going.  This is going to be YOUR messy, beautiful life.

In a few minutes your friend is going to show up.  She is going to do something magical.  She is going to come into your room, climb into your bed, and just SIT.  With you.  There will not be a need for words.  She is simply showing you:  “You are NOT alone.”  This, at a time when you feel 100% sure that no one you know will ever (or should ever) forgive you.  When you are torn between wanting them to stay away and desperately needing them near.  You are not alone.  This is a message that will be repeated throughout your life and one you will fight against for years to come.  You will hear it from so many.  You are NOT alone.

Yesterday Nancy was your strength.  She held herself together as you fell apart.  She was the string holding you to this Earth.  Her calm presence has been tattooed on your heart and years from now, when you live 1/2 the country away from her you will still consider her something of an anchor.  That string will never be cut.  She will always be the only one who knows—who has those moments seared into her memory along with yours.

The next few days are going to be hard.  Again, your job is to breathe.  The shock will carry you through.  It will allow you to do things you could not have done without it.  You will go to her house.  You will cry into the arms of both her parents as they hug you back.  They will tell you how much they love you.  You will somehow manage to walk into the funeral home.  The only memory you will walk out with is of the red carpet.  The shock is strong.  You will go to the funeral in a packed high school auditorium with a heart that feels you don’t deserve to and a head that is screaming YOU DID THIS.  You will go to the gravesite, which will be hardest.  But you are not alone.

Soon you will do other hard things like go back to school and start to drive again.  But I must warn you—the shock is so strong that as hard as this all feels and as deep as your pain goes it is going to get much worse before it gets better.  It is like your heart has fallen asleep.  As it starts to wake up the pain is going to overtake you.

Four months from now you will find yourself bargaining with God after going to bed early and alone on Christmas Eve.  You will question his existence, demand to know why, ask if he hates you, beg for his forgiveness, and ask him to just make it end.  This is your heart beginning to wake up.  Breathing will be as much as you can manage, and even that is questionable.  You will sink into a hole deep enough you become numb again.

A few months after that the real pain will begin.  You will seriously begin to question the worth of your life.  The strength of the message that you are not alone will be met with equally strong walls you have built around yourself.  Your own voice is stronger-whispering that you deserve to be alone.  The pain will carry you dangerously close to the edge.  So close you would have fallen if not for those strings everyone has been tying to you.  First Nancy, then your parents, and each and every one of your friends.  And yet, the edge is there and it is very real.  You will desperately search for an escape in dangerous and unhealthy ways.  You will do your best to create two faces.  The ‘just fine’ face for others and the other one.  The one who sobs in the shower every. single. night.  When nothing is there but you and the pain.  This pain will sink into every cell of your being.  I need you to know that even then you are not alone.  Your friends are watching.  They sacrifice your trust to protect you.  Your parents are watching.  They tie their strings tightly to you.

You will make it through high school.  You will master the two faces.  You will even make it through college.  The pain goes with you, but it is such a part of you by now you wouldn’t know who to be without it.  Slowly the pain becomes such a part of you it doesn’t seem to hurt quite as much.  However, it will remind you it is there.  There will be moments.  Like the day you are walking across campus on a warm sunny afternoon and in just one split second you catch the smell.  A combination of cut grass, warm asphalt, maybe exhaust.  And you are there—back in that field, watching as they try to flip the car off of her, seeing and hearing all that was there.  These moments will sneak up on  you.  When you are riding in a car and suddenly see it veering off the shoulder.  I am not sure they will ever go away.  It is so so hard.  But YOU CAN DO HARD THINGS!!!  You will make even more friends who will tie off more strings.

One day you will even meet your husband.  He will ask you about her.  He will want you to tell him all about her.  And then he will ask you why you are still hanging off that cliff.  It is unacceptable to end two lives.  He will tell you that you owe it to HER to live.  To make this world better.  To make someone smile.  And you will listen.  You will hear him and know he is right.  He will even write to her parents and her mom will call you.  It is around this time you will have your last dream about her.  It is beautiful.  She tells you it is going to be ok and that she loves you.  And she tells you goodbye.

Beautiful things will come.  A daughter who loves all life so much you can’t get down the sidewalk with her when it is raining because she stops to help every worm.  A son whose life force is so strong you can only sit back and watch him.  You will love your family so much it hurts.  But this time in a good way.  You will smile and actually mean it.  You will find a job where you get to help kids feel better.  All the time.  You will begin to tie your own strings.

You will do this.  It will not be easy, but life never is.  You will simply get through the day.  And then when morning comes you will do it again.  And one day you will look around you and for the first time in a very very long time you will accept that your life has value.  In all of its messy beauty.


This essay and I are part of the Messy, Beautiful Warrior Project — To learn more and join us, CLICK HERE! And to learn about the New York Times Bestselling Memoir Carry On Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life, just released in paperback, CLICK HERE!



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