Wonderful Wrestlings

I won’t lie, I find life challenging. Come complain, wrestle, hope, despair and laugh with me about whatever is hard today. All the fun!

How to Make Your Own Birthday Better

There’s one surefire, tested and proven way to make your own birthday better.
Is your birthday ever hard for you? Do you find yourself moody, disappointed, excited, happy, tired, sad, or a nap magnet as your birthday gets closer?
Doesn’t it feel like birthdays not only make you brutally aware of your actual age, but ALSO bring up issues from previous ages? Did you feel lonely on your 8th birthday? Surprise! The 8-year-old-you is coming to visit on your 28th Birthday as you sit on the bathroom floor quietly singing, “It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to.”
You know how in sci-fi movies about time-travel, one character will take a piece of paper and carefully fold it in pleats in order to explain to the newbie character, “See? THAT’S how it works. This point touches this point and you can just directly GO TO THERE.”  Well, birthdays are like that: the point in those pleats that lets you travel back in emotional time.
*****
It is almost my birthday.
Every birthday I find my blood pumping and giving me energy as I simultaneously long to climb in bed and hide til it’s over… I want to work like crazy to accomplish #allthethings and I also want to climb under my cozy nap blanket and wake up in a month… NOT just because I am getting older. No. No good comes from regretting my years. I have lived all of them to the best of my ability and I cannot deny living any of them. Each year adds to the patina of Me.  I am the age that I am.
No, I find my birthday difficult because my childhood ME comes to visit.
*****
I struggle with the level of influence and worth […]

The SOMETHING

Shhhh. No one tell resistance that I am at my keyboard.
Ever since people I admire started noticing my writing… Ever since people started cheering me on… Ever since I set a goal, RESISTANCE has gotten strong. Really strong.
I’m learning to be a writer so this is where my resistance meets me – here on this blog. Where does your resistance meet you? Where do you feel that invisible force push you aside, distract you, and basically keep you from doing that nagging but beautiful dream that lingers in the dusty corners of your brain?  
It can feel a lot like fear, but disguised under whatever will most tempt you. 
****
And RESISTANCE is endless.
When I swam on the team in high school, I would fantasize about having one of those ENDLESS POOLS – the pool with a constant current so you could basically swim in place for an hour.  That sounded awesome!  
That’s how it is with writing this month. But it’s not awesome. Not. Awesome.
Swimming in place feels pointless when you want to be landing on the shore of a new land. 
The instant I set my mind on writing an ebook this month – my equivalent of swimming across the English Channel – the avalanche of family-needs and work-needs descended on my little life like a scene out of ALIVE.  Forced to eat my words, I survived but it has not been pretty.
So, please, no one tell FEAR that I am here. These words may not be pretty, but these are inches I will crawl to gain some ground.
****
I’ve been writing and I have still made NO progress where it counts. I have not one inch to show for myself. I look up and see my […]

Learning New Things

Do you hate learning new things in front of people? I do. A lot.
I haven’t learned to ballroom dance because I do not want my husband to see me “learning” to ballroom dance. Until I try in front of him, I can keep the mysterious question going…  “is Nicole an awesome, naturally-gifted ballroom dancer?? Could be!!”
… I am settling for that.

A few years ago, we went on a cruise with a large group of friends. One night, we went to the karaoke bar. Now, I love singing when no one can hear me: loud concerts, the shower, my car. But, singing karaoke in front of people – especially friends with whom I work and will continue to see regularly…? Nope. No way. I actually remember saying the words, “I like what you currently think of me. There’s no way I am messing that up by singing in front of you.”
“I like what you currently think of me.” 
 
I am more comfortable with the
potential of being awesome than living the
struggle of becoming awesome.
*****
Before we get to all the life-lessons I should have learned by now, let’s talk truth for a second:
We are judgmental as people. Every single day, I hear people whisper critiques and make decisions about each other. Oh, he’s not great at this. She’s not ready for that.  I, myself, have seen someone try something and thought, oh. That was not very impressive.

We make decisions and categorize each other’s abilities.  And, then, as opportunities arise – both professionally and personally – we decide who is allowed to participate. Who is good enough?
Entire TV channels are built on this, this “making or not making the cut.”  You mess up once and you are out. Passion doesn’t […]

Definitions

What is that called? What is that for?
It’s a fork and we use it to eat.
How do you know that?

We accept a lot of definitions, but how do we  know for sure? What we believe defines how we will act and behave and LIVE.  I’m using “FORK” as an example…
I know it’s a fork because someone told me. Our parents and our parents’ parents all agreed on this word and this function. This is cultural knowledge passed down without question: It’s a fork and we use it to eat.  
 
Have you seen the The Little Mermaid. My sister and I loved that movie growing up.  I can sing it by heart. It’s where my weird fork example comes from. 
Do you remember the scene about the fork?
Ariel, the mermaid, is told by a friend that a fork is called a “dinglehopper” and it’s used to comb hair.  Ariel believes this friend knows how the world works and trusts his definition.  If you say it’s a dinglehopper and everyone uses it to comb hair, awesome! Combing away… 
But, see, it’s a funny scene to us because we know the truth. We KNOW that’s NOT how you use that. That’s NOT what that’s for! That’s a fork! That’s hilarious! Crazy mermaid!
But she doesn’t know. She only knows what she’s been taught to believe. This is a dinglehopper… this is what that’s for… combing away…
She had misinformation.
 
My cousin babysat my toddler girl and taught her a fabulous new “rule” about life, “If you want to get something from your mom, just use the magic word! It’s the best way to have mommy get you what you want.  And the magic word is – “NOW”.
‘Mommy, ice water, Now!’ […]

A Cold Cup of Water (maybe with some fruit?)

 
Have you ever wandered into a desert-time in your life?
If you are like me, it happened slowly; so slowly you didn’t notice the landscape growing more and more arid. One day you looked up, confused, wondering where you were and suddenly feeling very alone, very vulnerable, and very thirsty.
A glass of cool water on a hot day is like pure life soaking back into your cells. Dehydration can kill a girl. Steal her voice. Make her weak.
This entire year, I have been dying of thirst in my own desert-time. My throat parched and scratchy, I wandered, a little lost and a little plain-old sad, not knowing what to do next but knowing I couldn’t survive on my own any longer.

I’m a speaker and a writer and my throat got so dry that I simply lost my voice. I don’t mean literally, I could still speak if I had to, barely, but the words that mattered could no longer get out of me. Fear and confusion gripped my heart.

Then I heard it, a voice calling out offering fresh water! Water in the form of possible guidance and community for a career I longed to pursue with renewed passion.

I followed that voice with every ounce of strength and bravery I had left.

And I made it. I made it.

When I arrived, I didn’t just find a glass of water from a new friend, I fell into a river.

I fell into a river of hope, support, love, prayer, acceptance and power – an entire tribe of thirsty women wetting their whistles, finding their voices, and learning to sing again.

That strong, clear voice calling me to the river belonged to a woman named, Elora Nicole. A writer and a […]

Create for the One

  Life is like one big TJ Maxx. And it can kill a creative person’s hope.
 

TJ Maxx: a large store where you can go to find a robe, a toaster, cheap hand-weights, olive oil, and a bedazzled sweatshirt all in one trip. The racks are stuffed full as far as the eye can see.

…TJ Maxx, I cannot handle you sometimes. You’re too much. I don’t understand how all that stuff got there and I don’t understand why you put those Crocs right by the BCBG neon-orange purse.

 
I know some of you LOVE TJ Maxx and God bless you! I walk into a discount store like that and my eyesight begins to blur. So. Many. Choices.
And as I walk, zombie-like, running my hands over things without seeing… I begin to contemplate the universe.
What about the people who designed all those clothes? Those artists and designers, producers and manufacturers? IS this what they dreamed? Did they hope someday their velvet pants would be stuffed into a crowded rack in TJ Maxx?
I imagine that each item of clothing was a battle to dream up, design, sell, produce, distribute… How did that ripped-and-also-sequined sweatshirt end up in this TJ Maxx? What’s your story, sweat-shirt?? Someone loved you once!
No one item is treated as special or important in these stores. You have to be willing to hunt and peck and search and dive to find something. It’s amazing that people are still willing to create and sell and give their lives to making things.
It is amazing that we are still driven to create in our overcrowded world, where all of Life is like a TJ Maxx: full of hidden treasures, chaotic, a little dirty.  We can feel small and […]

The Girl in the Windbox

 

Knowing your muse is a tricky thing. A small army of us are wrestling with art and creativity over at Elora Nicole’s blog and within the Story Unfolding Community.

Ideas and creativity feel like precious commodities to those of us who need them to survive. If we are not careful, we will choose ideas over people, sparks over hearts. Here is one way I balance motherhood, friendship, lifelong marriage and the wild drive to create.

**********

Artists are wild women – willing to brave inescapable adventure.

Some men trek around the world to discover their courage.

Some find it at home between their two ears.

**********

Artists find adventure in their bathroom and discover their courage with every new thought. They go on safari in a beige living room at 7am. They hike in the Himalayas while sitting in bed next to a sick child. Artists fight bears, climb cliffs, go to the playoffs in overtime, every single day – all within their minds.

Please understand, I do not mean they make up these types of stories. To be terribly clear, they live these realities and terrors and struggles and triumphs within their psyches and through the experience of creating their art.

While other human beings can turn off their minds, go buy donut holes and have a nice, numb day. Artists, as so many of us in this community are, must turn around and face the beasts – slay them – every single minute of every single day.

Fight or flight choices all-day-long.

If your artistic muse – the one who brings the wild wonder and the call to danger into your life – is anything like mine, she does not enjoy being categorized or limited. To lock her in is a crime. She […]

For you, I will. (a poem)

For you, I will
 
For you, I will get out of bed
freezing
and fetch a glass of water.

 
For you, I will sing aloud
alone
in a karaoke bar.

 
For you, I will dance
ballroom style
wearing high heels and victory rolls.

 
For you, I will strip
naked
with lights on and eyes open.

 
For you, I will

 
My unlost love
it’s been you here
all along,
but I treated you like shit
like the one who would always be there
always too there
always right here.

 
And it’s not poetic but it’s true,
I am sorry.

 
I’ve been lost and
I’m coming home.
No matter what it takes.

 
For you, I will storm castles.
For you, I will slay dragons.
For you, I will sail 1,000 ships.

 
When it’s all over
and with wobbly arms
we embrace,
listening to ships reach the shore,
I will be unlost too.

 
I will climb back in bed
hoarse from singing my heart out,
feet throbbing and eyes drooping;
wearing only these blankets.

 
And I will
for you
finally be home in me.
 

__________

Everything in me wants to explain this love poem to you, Dear Friend, but I will trust Mr. Rogers here:
What is offered in faith by one person can be translated by the Holy Spirit into what the other person needs to hear and see. The space between them is holy ground, and the Holy Spirit uses that space in ways that not only translate, but transcend.
 
What would you do for the one you love? “For you, I will…”

Have you ever been asked a personal question?

This was how my mother started the conversation.
“Do you know…”
“Do I know, what?”
“Do you know how women have orgasms?”
(AAaaaaaakward pause…avoiding eye-contact now…)
“Um, yes? …  Yes. I mean, yes. Mom, Seriously!” (laughing erupts)
 

How did your parents bring up the sex talk?
But, my mother didn’t stop at this first shocking question. She did not accept my protest that I already knew all I needed at 16 years old.  She knew me deeply despite the fact that it would be 11 more years before I truly understood the depths to which she knew me, when I had my own daughters to love.

(aside: isn’t it funny that as we grow up, we think our parents don’t know us? now that i am a mom myself, i could hardly think of anything i know more intimately than my daughters.)

See, my mother became a teenager in the 60’s and a single mother to two small girls in the 80’s. She is neither large in stature or personality.  Caring, loyal, sensitive, Indigo Girls-singing… this is my mom.

She gave me space to discover my way in the world. She usually held back advice or opinions. But, this conversation, this was just too important to leave to chance, I suppose. Too important to hope my sister and I learned it somewhere someday.

And so, one night at the dinner table, surrounded by flowered wallpaper in our little kitchen nook, my education in sex and/or “feminism” began with a loving, blunt question.
 “Do you know how women have orgasms?
There is a part of your vagina called the clitoris…”
“Wow, Yep. Yes there is… Thinking about it right now, Mom. Thanks.”
************

Within that awkward, sweet conversation, my mom enunciated one of the most important things I have ever learned […]

The Dresses in my Life

I’m guessing I was seven.

A 7 year old girl. Shortest in my class with fine, brown hair and freckles.

Walking through the mall, my child-mind not caring at all what our actual reason was for being there, I saw it – I saw “her” really, not it.  In the window of a boutique children’s store, I saw the dress I still wish I could wear.

**********

I just knew it had to be mine. The true love was instant. I saw her from across the room and we were simply soul mates. There’s no other way to describe it.

The perfect visible manifestation of my invisible soul.

The physical depiction of my inner self.

I’d never been struck by an item of clothing before; Never known something was made for me, but this gorgeous thing was! oh, it was! Made. For. Me.

No description will do it justice.
How could I describe my Love to you in a way that doesn’t cheapen it?

Simply: imagine white, lace, a ballgown skirt, beads, shimmer. But none of that matters, because we had chemistry. So, make whatever is in your head 1000x better than what you first thought….
Oh, the delicious Specialness.

It was all I wanted from that moment on.  My school pictures would be epic!

I remember creating songs in its honor for days. Songs of love and courage. Spinning in circles, holding onto light poles and dancing my heart out in honor of the dress that would finally show the world the inner me – how beautiful and SPECIAL God made me.

What amazes me, looking back, is the esteem and self-love the dress awoke in me.

So, I worked up the bravery to ask my Dad to take us BACK to the intimidating mall and buy it […]