The Day Slow Won

Those were the days when we sat on the floor and spelled with letter tiles. Ten minutes a day, I read, and they spelled. Abby wrote the words because it was faster, but Kyle was open to the slow. He was five, so the more time, the better. Little kids eat up time like chocolate chip cookies. They were made to teach us grown-ups the art of moving without rushing and hurry, which means hushing, pushing, and often senseless scurry.

Slow stills the soul. Those were the best days: the ones we spelled with anticipation, deliberation, and patience.

//

SLOW doesn’t get you stars, nor quick recognition, a walloping slap on the back as you stand there thinking of a thoughtful answer.

SLOW doesn’t seem to move you to the next milestone incredibly fast so you can be the first to step foot on whatever particular moon you’re conquering, nor does it make you inextricably rich overnight.

SLOW is the snail’s way, the child’s path, the pace paved by those who choose to linger long, stay all day, dream and plan and move deliberately and still have time to enjoy a taste of pie.

SLOW is the Southern Hemisphere clock saying, “We make our time our slave, not the other way around.” Go to South America, South Africa, the Southern U.S. Slow folk know siestas, big meals, and a tad bit of monotony (heaven forbid!) help us take ourselves a lot less seriously.

The pace at which we go determines where we find our worth.Tweet This

// So, for goodness’ sake, go slow.

Today the whole family sat in blue plastic chairs in a gymnasium and watched Kyle win his school mini-spelling bee. This kid moves at his own imagination-induced space-pace, which most of us call slow. (The only time he’s ever racing is to a friend’s house or down the basement stairs because I said yes to the XBox.)

It was a victory for the whole family because we made a deliberate, not so popular choice a few years back, to live with less chaos. We decided to try quality over quantity, to go deep instead of wide, and to forge our way at life a little more slowly.

Those slow days gave us space to start being our whole selves. Steadily, and quite messily, we are learning within mistakes and mishaps. Slow gives us a grace buffer so when life gets a little crazy, we know winning—or not—nothing changes how incredibly loved we are.

Sign Up: Five Minute Friday Retreat!

Here’s something not to be slow about. The amazing Five Minute Friday crew is having a retreat right here in Kansas City.

All the info is right here.

People are signing up fast, and the price is fabuloso. Register below.

(// indicates the beginning and end of five minutes.)

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The Mother-Writer’s Gordian Knot

The tale of the Gordian Knot involves the legendary Alexander the Great figuring out a complex problem with a clear-cut solution. It’s also this week’s Tweetspeak Poetry Prompt. What came to mind was an Ah-ha moment I had on the way back from South Korea a few years ago. I was hopelessly stuck between two dreams: homeschooling my kids and launching a writing career. The puzzle was a redefining moment of chasing dreams. 

She walks in beauty,

She knows it not.

Mother-teacher, creative thinker, walking, wondering,

Pouring life into littles,

While longing for the pen

She occasionally whittles,

Between lessons and words spelled right.

Playdate adventures are small gains for hours of time in shoes tied

Or overseeing rock composition analysis.

Her Gordian knot rests, bound in her chest.

She tries to ignore it

Save the ballpoint by her bedside,

A weighty sword when wielded between second finger and thumb.

She vows to slice through the knot of learning, thinking, and experiencing

By reclaiming her stance as explorer and conquerer,

But there never seems to be enough time.

 

How does a woman give it all, do it all?

What if demands and daydreams can never together truly be?Tweet This

Inadequacy was the storm riding her out.

 

Ropes thickened, driving her to altars and panicked phone calls

For the husband to save her.

Shame rained on her high-capacity sails,

(Historically grand and fierce)

Taking her wherever she desired

The wind to blow her.

 

She thought herself a dingy

With a slit in her tube,

Made by the pervasive thought of

That darn pen.

 

She wrote on a blog in the westerly winds,

Storing unfulfilled wandering in her bones

Until she thought she would splinter, mast and all.

 

On the brink of breakdown and handing in her resignation,

She got an invitation,

“Come across the ocean. Come and recharge.

Reclaim. Rest.

Get away with Me.

Sail your sea-weary shipwrecked self somewhere

Unknown.”

 

Money came through

With asking and a clear-cut miracle.

She set sail on a plane ship through the clouds to Seoul.

She flew and withdrew and slept off the lag in a high rise.

Awakening, she felt lighter from the scent of eggs, coffee, and baklava,

While a little cough festered in her lungs.

 

Her guide led her through city lights, ancient temples, and smoggy views.

Nothing really clearing except shadows of what she was not

And all that she had been trying to prove.

One day they slipped off shoes outside a bukchon,

Sat almost perfectly still, and painted tiny paper slippers.

She sighed as she fastened a jewel on a flower.

 

She sweat through her sheets the next day

Fever repurposing what only she could puzzle with God.

She slept through the ick and shuffled to the tea

She watched a season of Call the Midwife and moaned at the sun blaring through blinds.

Her friend felt her head, and beckoned her to arise on the day of her birth.

On a penthouse balcony with friends, she turned thirty-six in smog.

They ate cheesecake next to a cat who walked the balcony rail.

He looked down at the traffic and curled his tail curtly.

 

She walked, asking God, “What am I to do?”

A taxi beeped, “Be you. Be you.”

Her soul, a city of its own, harbored in gray,

Grew lighter in being, moving, and receiving.

Therein, a certain grace grew for not knowing

Just how to unravel herself.

 

She packed her pen tip next to pottery wrapped in socks.

Her new weapon became a giant red fan for her wall

Which was brown paper-wrapped with an awkward sticky cellophane handle,

More umbrella than sword.

 

The last day she carried luggage, her oblong package and the cough rattling her coils a little looser

All to the demilitarized zone.

There North and South, dictator and democracy were knotted in ribbons on barbed wire,

Sides never to be joined

Unless a side surrendered an entire nation’s way of life.

The border train station held hope-filled tracks,

Laid for a future meeting somewhere in the middle.

An eerie, proud fooling.

She vowed to never be this stuck.

 

On her sky ship home, she read a book, blue bike on its cover.

The mother-author said

She stopped homeschooling.

Life went on.

A permission slip folded in a white flag was handed to the explorer.

She picked up a pen,

Turned it upon her own breast

And bled through.

She sailed home in beauty, knowing this is her way

To everything she already was.Tweet This

Our family is now challenged to find creative ways to learn together in the short hours outside traditional school hours, a Gordian knot of it’s own. I have no regrets of choosing to begin a new adventure. I pray the same for you.

TweetSpeak Poetry Prompts

I love TweetspeakPoetry.com’s poetry prompts. They keep me working at the craft with a little spontaneity and a few ideas I never would have thought of myself.

Read the background of the Gordian Knot and take the poetry challenge right here.

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A Boy and His Gecko

You are the boy

Unlike

Any other,

Who saved up six months

For a crested gecko

Named Geico.

You look into his slitty eyes

And see his little lizard soul,

Spotted.

You plopped pennies and nickels,

Quarters, dollar bills, and a half dollar

On the pet shop counter

For the yellow one with a nice burnt tint

To his scales.

“Not as jumpy as the others,” said the lanky kid counting the change.

Geico lept onto my face a few days later.

Which gave you a great laugh,

Your head thrown back,

Eyes alight.

Those same delighting eyes

Comforted my aching mama heart one Sunday night

When you sat in your infant carrier at six months.

You saw through my scales to my core and smiled,

Knowing light feet and sticky fingers

Help us stick to glass.

I couldn’t find Geico yesterday,

When you weren’t home.

No need to panic.

He’s got camoflauge.

I poked my fingers in the mulch

Until I unearthed him in the corner

He glared at me for disturbing his reptilian siesta.

I told you what happened.

You said, “Of course.

He sleeps there,” knowing your new friend

Best because you watch each other,

You, holding him eye-to-eye on your arm,

Or cupped in your hands.

He hangs upside down from his habitat and watches you sleep.

Occasionally, he licks his eye.


Today you are eight.

Over your big-little life you have been Spiderman,

Imagineer of your own planet Kylota,

(Pizza, the planetary food),

Pirate buccaneer,

Minecraft master builder,

The kid who dropped a rock on his head.

Will you be a scuba-diving paleontologist

Or the next Jacques Cousteau?

I can’t wait to find out!

You are figuring out how to be

The smart kid with a super-sense of love and fairness.

Your school desk looks like it threw up,

That’s a sign of brilliance, I’m told.

You beam when you hand us Lego sculptures

Or a hand-scrawled piano composition.

You’ve written books and poems,

Tried to teach yourself Portuguese.

Your heart is in sync with the universe, forever expanding.

Today you are eight,

Unlike any other.

Today you are a boy and his gecko.

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Only Trust the Weak Superhero

I loved Clark Kent best

When he was at the end of the proverbial rope,

When a mishap encounter with kryptonite

Left him huddled sick,

Nearly dying in his high-rise apartment.

Lois Lane found him in the dark:

Powerless, undone, weak.

He was no more the world’s Savior.

He could no longer sling spaceships

Across the universe

Or defeat Lex Luther with a single Ka-POW!

Superman’s weakness made me love him.

It was what I longed for:

My own father to reveal what he couldn’t fix,

Figure out, or puzzle his way through.

My own mother to speak about the times

She just couldn’t stop crying.

I am their daughter and I too fight with my cape

(and fluttering skirt ‘cuz I’m supergirl).

I am sure I will save my little world.

I loved Superman in his dark despair,

More than any other superhero I can remember.

He was the Christ-figure weeping in the garden for humanity’s loss.

This is where we learn to love:

Weakness.

Superhero in crisis,

My father’s voice cracking,

Mom asking on I-35, “Why do you think we both struggle with depression?”

Vulnerable cracks open wide the hard-hearted child.Tweet This

It’s a good practice to unclip

My cape and lift up the back of my shirt so you can see

My weakness under skin, my pain,

My kryptonite.

Five Minute Friday Retreat

I wrote this post along with the amazing Five Minute Friday crew. Our one-word challenge was WEAK.

Guess what? We’re having a retreat!

Spread the word: Yes, the 2017 Five Minute Friday Retreat is happening!Tweet This

The retreat is July 21-23, 2017, in Kansas City, MO, which happens to be my hometown. Come on over, writing peeps!

More details here.

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Courageously Living Out Your Calling

Who are the courageous creatives who push you to be your best self? Recently I got to hang out with one of my favorite people, the uber-creative Lilah Higgins of The Higgins Creative. She and her husband Zac help creatives design the life they love through branding and web design. She welcomed me on her relatively new podcast Wake to Make. There we chatted about courageously living out our calling and other stuff like:

  • Giving up one dream for another
  • Getting unstuck and changing trajectory
  • How going halfway around the world helped me dive into the writing life
  • The power of community to push into our true selves

Most-excellent Excerpts

It’s okay to quit something for another dream. – Christina

Part of what holds us back from wanting to change and being brave enough to say “hey, this isn’t working I’m going to try something else” is either fear of people and what they’ll think or fear of ourselves. – Lilah

Sometimes we just need to hear someone else say, “It’s okay to stop and do something else.” – Christina

Saying no, is actually saying yes to something else you want to do. – Lilah

I love having the freedom to change. – Christina

If you look at all the old artists of centuries past, they couldn’t care less what the church thought of them or the community thought of them or the country thought of them. They just created art. – Lilah

Your path is not going to be anyone else’s. – Christina

Listen Here

Check out the full conversation here. You can subscribe to the Wake to Make podcast in ITunes here.

Be sure to check out all of the Higgins Creative’s fabulous branding and design options at The Higgins Creative as well asWake to Make Academy. I also love their Facebook tribe for ongoing creative encouragement.

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A Valentine’s Gift for the Shamers and Self-Blamers

I drive by Massage Envy twice a week. Some days I let myself ogle the purple letters and even indulge myself to look at the hours posted in white on the glass. Gosh, how my shoulders ache. That would be so nice.

I’ve ventured in once or twice after getting permission with a birthday gift card. But I’m a power-through, independent woman. I shake my head. Who am I kidding? I don’t need to be touched. I’ll just envy those who can afford such luxuries. I’m fine. I pull away from my parking spot at the chiropractor’s office, two doors down, where I’ve been getting adjusted for four years, almost weekly. Repression at it’s best.

The inner dialogue continues as I pass Starbucks and talk myself out of a skinny mocha. Forget it, honey. You have $100 left in the grocery budget for the next 2 weeks. Remember how many pairs of tennis shoes you’ve had to buy in the past 3 months! You don’t NEED it.

Because I can’t stretch myself to make it all enough, because I can’t do it all perfectly, I treat my heart like an enemy. I tell myself I am certainly not worth it.

Read the whole heart

I’m over at Emily Conrad’s blog today talking about:

  1. Giving ourselves a break,
  2. Hustling for our worth, and
  3. The message on a rock we all desperately need.

P.S. I’ve got a special Valentine’s playlist at the end just for you. Read more here.

You are forever loved, a series

Check out all the amazing posts in the February Indi(visible) series here.

You are seen, known, and forever loved by a wholehearted God. – Emily ConradTweet This

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