Shortcuts to intimacy

On days like today when the fog fills the deep, narrow valley to the west of us and every pine needle is individually coated in ice, I feel like the witless victim of an impending Stephen King plot.  The creatures in the mist are not going to get us this time though … we will escape to a place where the sun still shines.  And by “we,” I mean all seven of us!

passports

 

A hideous stomach bug struck our house last weekend.  It was fast and violent.  By Tuesday morning, it seemed like we were done – a solid twenty-four hours had elapsed since the last of the vomiting. We had no fevers, no complaints and breakfast consumption was exuberant.  I sent them to school and there followed a week of the most bizarre game of child illness whack-a-mole.  Kids that I kept home would be fine and bouncing off the wall, kids I sent to school puked after lunch.  I think in hindsight that we acquired a second bug mid-week, but I honestly have no freaking idea.  A hideous fever and cough definitely blazed through the school.  I’m sure the secretary had my number on speed dial by Thursday.  Quinn randomly spiked an 104 fever right after school on Friday, adding to my burden of guilt over my poor mommy choices, but his teacher said he’d been fine all day.  Currently, he is wrestling post enormous pizza lunch.

So, we’re quarantined while the snow falls outside, and the overburden heater tries in vain to combat our useless 1920s single-paned windows.  I’ve banished the kids to the basement playroom while I try to prepare for next week.  Listen To Your Mother Spokane is on track for our FIFTH annual show.  Elise and I have already received a ton of audition requests and we’re working hard to get the word out to more people.  We’re also teaching a Creativity Salon over the next four months intended to inspire (and gently pressure) participants to write more and share their work with our group.  It’s our first try at this and we are so lucky in the women who joined the class.  I’m teaching a Circle of Security Parenting (You all know how I love Kent Hoffman, et al. so!!) series this month on Wednesday evenings that involves another astonishing and interesting group of men and women.  And then, I have my own writing club once a month – an intimate and delightful group that grew out of last year’s LTYM cast.

It is the proverbial embarrassment of riches.  The dynamics of group discussion can be hard and I am still learning the best ways of facilitating, but mostly I feel a sense of privilege that I get to participate, even when I’m in charge of moving the discussion and keeping it on track.  It helps that personal essay writing and Circle of Security principles are pretty much my two favorite things on earth besides my family and a good novel.

But my interest in the subject matter is not what makes these experiences so rewarding.  The uniting thread is the connection that comes from sharing stories.  There are very few shortcuts to intimacy with another person, but sharing stories honestly and vulnerably and receiving and holding another’s stories with empathy and delight is the foundation of close relationships.  I don’t know if these group environments are a shortcut to connection or simply a safe space to let connection thrive.  All I know is that I feel overwhelmed by the joy these diverse groups have brought me in a season that can be so grim and isolating.  Connecting through story telling is healing, whether it’s personal life narratives or tales of struggling to support children’s emotional regulation.  I swear it.  When we’re feeling down, we should all have to sit in a circle and read a personal paragraph on a random prompt.  It’s like an SSRI for the soul.

(Give it a try  … LTYM auditions are happening in THIRTY NINE cities around the country.  Could be one near you?)

 

Making a wish on a passing car

She’s talking to angels, counting the stars Making a wish on a passing car She’s dancing with strangers, falling apart Waiting for Superman to pick her up In his arms, in his arms Waiting for Superman — Daughtry   I finished cutting the construction paper parts for fifty-four parrots a few minutes ago and that’s…

My rugged heart

I’ll love you long after you’re gone And long after you’re gone, gone, gone. You’re my back bone. You’re my cornerstone. You’re my crutch when my legs stop moving. You’re my head start. You’re my rugged heart. You’re the pulse that I’ve always needed.  –Gone, Gone, Gone, Phillip Phillips   It’s funny how different a…

Shrugs

I mopped the living room floor this morning.  When I’m in a bad mood, mopping strikes me as the ultimate act of depressing futility.  It must be mopped, but it will not stay mopped.  Futility doesn’t seem to matter as much in your thirties.  Possibility still exists for floor mopping and surfing in Bali.  Drudgery…

Truth or dare

I walked yesterday with someone I trust more than anyone in this world and she said, “but you’re feeling better? it seems like you’re feeling better.” And I lied. I can’t think of when I’ve ever really lied to her.   I laughed and I said yes, lots, like it wasn’t an issue any more…

Summer Loving

Summer of 2014 We walked down our boulevard under the cathedral canopy of maple trees, the evening sunlight trickling through to the ground in leaf green splashes.   The kids talked all at once, rivaling the murder of ravens squawking a grisly tune above our heads.  Nate from the stroller on my left lisped a story…

Rare Bird

My friend Anna Whiston-Donaldson wrote a book and its release date is tomorrow.  It’s going to be a best-seller.  She doesn’t need me to promote it for her. She’s already been lauded in the Washington Post, received incredible reviews, and so many bloggers love her and want to help spread the word. Anna is authentic,…

Simplicity

The Arby’s forced air felt blessedly cool after two long, hot days at an amusement park and Lake Coeur D’Alene and two long, hot hours in the Suburban being bombarded in the back of the head with shrieks, questions, and complaints.  We spent the previous night in a hotel room with five children and if…

By the numbers

Once a month kind of borders on pathetic.  I am not writing, I’m barely taking pictures, and the days flash by in a crazy haze.  Ten days in Arizona.  Zoo Camp. Swimming. I am writing for Mamalode every other Friday.  In my first piece in June, Ripped, I shared a little bit about what it…

Love letters

Matt found a love letter in a wall of the new house.  It’s dated August 14, 1935, still tucked securely into a stained envelope faded yellow-brown with age.  The purple 3 cent stamp is perfectly preserved.  Carabelle gushes romance and love to Dick: the pretty moonlight over the lake is only missing you. She calls…