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5 Years Later

Yesterday morning, I read this post.  It is the message I had for you on the day of your high school graduation.

I knew then that if you focused your determination on a goal, that you would succeed, even if there were missteps and setbacks along the way.  Most of all, I just wanted you to know where home was.  I wanted you to know that no matter what happened, I would be there cheering, crying, encouraging and helping to pick up the pieces when necessary.

What I didn’t say then was how terrified I was.  I was afraid I would lose you.  I was afraid that it might be too hard and that you would give up.  I was afraid that I hadn’t prepared you well enough for life away from home, that I couldn’t control the outcome and that there just wasn’t enough time.  Like so many other times, I didn’t trust my own advice and I didn’t believe that I had been enough.

5 years later, I have learned that you are stronger than I ever imagined.  I have learned that when you set your mind on a goal, you will get there, not by the shortest or easiest route…but you WILL arrive.  I have learned that you have the ability to brush yourself off after a failure, learn from it and find a new way forward.  I have learned that it was even harder to let go than I feared, but the letting go was the only way you could grow.  I have learned that I could find my new normal, and that our relationship would be different but perfectly so.

Yesterday, the sounds of Pomp and Circumstance had new meaning.  And yes, I cried.  Throughout the day, I thought about the last 5 years and what you have overcome, the friendships you have found and lost, the hard work, the tears, the triumphs.  I thought about the fact that sometimes it wasn’t your first or second choice that ended up being the right choice, and that sometimes, you had to fail so that the right door could open.  I thought about your perseverance and how time and pressure have refined it into your most valuable asset.  I thought about how you used that asset to succeed.

Most of all, I thought about how proud I am.  I am proud of how far you have come, proud of all that you achieved and proud of all you will be.  You did it baby girl.  IMG_6300[1]

 

 

 

Quiet

Today, as my daughters start challenging semesters at two colleges, I find myself thinking about strength and where it comes from, how we instill it in our kids, how it can elude us at times.

I’m a little sad. I’m sad that the house is quiet and that my girls are all grown up. I’m sad that it isn’t so easy to kiss away the bumps and bruises anymore.

I’m proud. I’m proud that I have raised young women who are learning how to stand on their own, finding ways to persevere when it isn’t easy (is it ever easy??), learning to rely on me less as they find their footing and replace my strength with theirs.

I’m worried. Do we EVER stop worrying (rhetorical question…I know the answer)? As they have gotten older, I’ve learned that despite all of my best efforts and my sheer determination that they would not have to struggle or make mistakes or fail, that my efforts were foolish and misguided. I’ve learned that struggles and mistakes and failures are the building blocks of strength. As I have watched them overcome, I see uncertainty being replaced with determination, insecurity replaced by new truths. I look back on my own life and understand that the best parts of who I am were born from failure. The fires of my biggest trials refined me. My mistakes made me more compassionate. Giving up taught me the most important lessons about patience. All of my past struggles better prepared me to help them through theirs.

Today I give them my love and my blessing. May they know the truth of who they are, may they silence the negative lies that they sometimes tell themselves. May they give each day the best that they have to give. May they give themselves permission to feel authentically even the bad stuff. May they have the strength to move forward when feeling overwhelmed, even if it is just one step. May they offer their unique brands of light into the world and to those who surround them, whether briefest acquaintance or most bonded friend. May they allow themselves to savor every triumph, no matter how small or big. May they see all the possibility ahead. May they see the beacon in the darkness when times are tough, so they can always find their way home. May they know that no matter how close or far away, my heart is bound tightly to theirs, a bridge that no distance is too far to cross.

May they have peace and know that they are exactly where they are supposed to be. May they have wisdom to see what is next and faith in themselves to see the infinite possibility that awaits them.

May they use moments of quiet to make sense of the world.

May they know how deeply and infinitely they are loved.

11/28/13 Today’s Advice to My Beautiful Daughters: It’s ok to cry.

For most of my life, I have tried not to cry.

Somewhere along the line, I got it in my head that crying was a sign of weakness or manipulation and the idea of “don’t’ ever let ‘em see you sweat” took on a broader meaning.  I thought I needed to choke it back, push it down, stifle it so that everyone could see that I was strong.  When I was 15, I stopped eating because emotion has to be dealt with.  If I couldn’t cry, something had to give.  And it gave.  I lost weight until my mom was frantic.  And then slowly, I recovered enough from the emotions that plagued me and I got back to normal, without having to spend time in an eating disorder clinic.  My “strength” took a toll.

As I have gotten older, I have turned into a total sap. I can cry at just about anything, happy or sad.  I have shed more tears over internet videos than I ever have for myself, my own pain, my own joys and sorrows.  Crying for others highs and lows is so much easier than crying for me.

When I cry, I cry alone…in hotel rooms or when everyone is gone, or in the dark when everyone is asleep.  I still can’t release with others, even though I can release for others.  Every once in a while, I cry in church, and hope nobody notices.

Even though I know that tears are healing, I think I will always struggle to embrace them. This is not a good thing.

So for you and for me…it’s ok to cry.  It. Is. Ok. To. Cry.

There are times when the enormity of a place, a moment, a time will overwhelm you.   Whatever emotion that brings is healthy and good.  It often will reveal your humanity, your compassionate heart, your love.  When you cry for others, you love.  When you cry in front of others, you allow them to love.

This week, I visited the 9/11 Memorial with 120 high school students.  One of those students was overcome with the enormity of the place.  She cried.  Her tears revealed her compassionate soul, her care for the world that was forever changed when she was just 4 years old.  She cried for people she had never met, and all that grieved because of  that day.  And as her friends tried to distract her and cheer her with hugs and words that would make her smile, I thought to myself, “Cry.” In her tears on that day, I saw her heart in a new way and I saw her friends have the opportunity to love her and it was good. Her tears revealed her humanity and the humanity of those who care about her.

Sometimes it takes a kid to teach us something.  In this case, it reminded me that the thing I have spent a lifetime stifling is the thing that heals, that shows love, that is good.

It is ok to cry.  With your help, I will try to remember that.

9/11Memorial

shelbur10

We all have our special skills; our gifts, if you will.  I, for instance, am remarkably good at sucking it up.  It has recently come to my attention that my kids some people think that sucking it up is a skill that they cannot learn, that only superwomen like me have it.  They think that people like me are just hardcore, badass, incredibly tough people.  They could not be more wrong!  At heart, I am a big old whiny baby.  I have aches and pains and I just want to lie in bed sometimes.  Yet, I routinely fall down, then pick myself up and go to work.  I have miserable back pain more often than not, and most people don’t know about it.  I once broke my thumb on my way to work, then got an ice pack at the office and avoided writing that day.  (Mostly because I was…

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7/3/12 Today’s Advice to My Beautiful Daughters – Don’t Judge

Don’t judge the people who judge.

Doesn’t that sound crazy?  But think about it.  How many times do we talk about those terrible people who are so intolerant, who say horrible things, who just don’t get it?  How many times do we describe someone else’s indignation and follow it by a comment, like, “REALLY?!??”  or “Get a life!”  We pass judgment on their judgment and somehow we think we are better than them.

When you see people carrying their Anti-Whatever banners and yelling in the street about a cause you don’t agree with, stop and think about it.  If you judge them,  if you scoff, or call them crazy, or get upset about how very wrong they are…how are you any different than them?  Does being right make you right?  Is your indignation more righteous than theirs?  Does your opinion matter more than theirs?  Are your values more important to you than theirs are to them?

So before you judge, stop.  What would happen if you stopped for a minute and asked them a question?  I’m not talking about the kind of question that has judgement attached like, “How can you THINK that?”  but the kind of quesiton that really seeks to understand like, “Tell me why this is important to you.”  Maybe by your question, you will get a question back.  Instead of a righteous battle of wills and voices, you can create a dialog.  And maybe that dialog will lead to an understanding that we are mostly the same.  Maybe that understanding will lead to a more courteous exchange of ideas where compromise is born.

Maybe.

But first you have to stop with the judging the judgmental, stop hating the haters, stop yelling at the yellers.  Stop.

Do you think you can do it?

How about now?

Or now?

Or now?