Are You Breathing?

If I were in charge of breathing, I would be dead. On average, an adult human being takes about 23,000 breaths in one day. Can you imagine telling your body to breathe 23,000 times in one day? Probably not. Probably, we’d be dead together. With all of our friends. Unless you have Zen master friends who live on mountaintops and devote their whole attentions to breathing. I don’t have those friends. I have friends like you, who tend to a MILLION different things in a day – important things like taking care of each other and feeding children and making money and keeping the home organized and knowing what’s going on in the world and in the neighborhood and at school and staying in touch with loved ones and making plans and finishing projects and taking on new ones and exercising and spending time with pets and ideas and seeking pleasure and making sacrifice after sacrifice and generally getting shit done….

And breathing just isn’t on the list. Until it is.

We’ve all had moments where breathing gets put on the list. Time-stops-moments, the air leaves the room. You get a piece of information: the test results are abnormal, the funding fell through, we can’t find the heartbeat, you accidentally press Reply All, we need to talk about what happened at school today, the cancer is back, we’re getting separated, you hear about the party you didn’t get invited to, mom is in the hospital, it’s your turn to talk at the meeting and you can’t find the words, your account is overdrawn, finding THAT text on your husband’s phone, thanks for submitting your work – we’re going to pass, there’s nothing else the vet can do.

These are the moments you realize that the ONE act of living you’ve been neglecting is the VERY act that can save your Life.

In those moments, you must breathe. You do breathe. You sigh or exhale; you moan or you suck in a bunch of air before you scream out but you breathe. Because you HAVE TO. Because it’s not just number one on the list, it is the whole list: until you figure out what the fuck to do next.

Here’s what I’ve learned about those moments and the minutes and weeks that follow them: Life is coming for you.

There is no place to hide – you can try Continue reading Are You Breathing?

I’m Watching


A million moments of your face on mine. You reach for me. You run to me. You beg me to watch – you watch that I am watching. You smile for me. You wrap your arms around me – any place you can find – an ankle, a calf, a thigh, a waist, one day a shoulder.

You are looking: looking at me, looking for me, looking to me. You do this even when you don’t want to be. And I take pictures of you looking.

A million images of your face facing mine, camera to my eye, click.

And there are a million more – that I don’t always take with a camera – of you looking away. You can’t find them in that box in my closet that keeps the pictures I have from your baby days. Don’t bother with the iPhoto library or scrolling through my phone. They aren’t there.

These are the pictures I take with my mind. They click somewhere on the inside of me – notches on my heart.

Images that capture the very essence of what I am called to do as your parent: let you go.

On the first day of school – every year – guess what I’m going to do? Take a picture of you. Front porch. Front of the school. Backpacks on. Smile, big. Look at me. Don’t be silly. Be silly. Okay one without your siblings. Just you. Hold up your fingers – woo hoo! First grade, second grade, third grade…..you can stop with the fingers when you get to middle school – maybe.

In this picture, you will face me. You will be looking – to me. I will request it, but also, you will want to see me. It’s a safe way to start the school year – gazing up at the most familiar person you know before heading into something completely new.

And then the moment will be over and the image will be captured and uploaded and saved to the library, and it will take its place among every other picture of your face facing mine. At that point, you will look away. And I will take another picture. This is the one you don’t even know I’m taking. And it’s not just ONE, it’s many. It’s a constant clicking – the burst function – not on my phone, on my heart.

A thousand clicks per second as I watch you walk away.

You will find your class, see your friends, meet your teacher, and settle into a fresh desk with your name on it. You won’t watch to see if I am watching – you won’t have the focus for that. Instead, you will have big, darting eyes taking in everything around you.

Sweetie, I’m watching.

I may miss the cartwheel or new dance move or fast ball pitch because my phone rings or the water boils or to be honest, it’s just not compelling enough to hold my attention – but I don’t miss this. I don’t miss the moments you leave me. I CAN’T miss the moments I am asked to let you go – there just isn’t a way to ignore that bit of hurt…impossible to pass over that pang of pride.

So, you race past me and you head into a community and into an experience that will surprise and delight you – it will break and disappoint you – it will affirm and challenge you in every way. And I take this picture. Of your backs. This is part of it.

As much as you look to me, there is you facing the world.

All you need to do is keep walking – go and get your life – and don’t waste your energy looking for me.  Because you know where I am – behind you.

Always and forever, a million moments and more – I got your back.

Hard Questions

A few weeks ago in New Orleans, Myles asks me a question on the way to summer camp: “Is Earth all there is?”

“No,” I tell him.  “There are other planets.”

“I know that. I mean, what’s past outer space?”

“All sorts of galaxies. We’re part of a much bigger Universe – bigger than we can imagine. Scientists work all day to discover what else is out there.”

“Who made the Universe?”

“Probably God. Nobody knows for sure but I like to believe it’s all a part of God and it’s all for Love and for us to learn who we are and how to love better.”

“Do you talk to God?” He asks me.

“All the time.”

“Do you?” I ask him.

“I don’t know…I guess, sometimes…but, how do you do it?”

“It’s like talking to a friend. It’s not a formal thing – not for me, at least – mostly I just say thank you and help me. I like to say ‘show me the way.’ And I ask A LOT of questions and listen for answers.”

“What does God’s voice sound like?”

“It sounds like your own voice. That’s why it’s tricky to hear sometimes – because it’s hard to listen that closely…that you could tell the difference.”

“How will I know?” He asks. Continue reading Hard Questions

The Answer to Every Problem…


She prays for you every night.

She tells you when your jeans are too tight or too loose. Sometimes she buys you the jeans that will look the best on you, for no reason. And she’s always right.

She doesn’t drop hints, she drops in — to the deepest part of you — because she is not afraid of everything you don’t understand about yourself yet.

She calls you on your birthday – unless she’s pregnant or dealing with a sick kid or hosting her in-laws or slammed at work all day. And if she straight up forgets your birthday, it doesn’t matter because when you hear her voice on the day she does call, it feels like your birthday.

She doesn’t track your trail of breadcrumbs – who has time? She just decides to be home, whenever you need to get back there.

She forgives and forgives and forgives and forgives and forgives and forgives. You can’t believe all that she has forgiven – you are in awe of her ability to forgive. It is stunning. Continue reading The Answer to Every Problem…