Friendlies! Our second Vlog is up where we discuss “New Years Resolutions” as well as reflect on the Y2K craze…Remember that? Krista proves why math is not her strongest subject!
My daughter’s name actually means “bringer of light.” However, I’m wondering if I should have named her something that means “bringer of love.”
Before I embark on this week’s story, I’d like to share with you just a couple of ways Lucy loves. Whenever she sees a baby, she says “Aaaaaaawwwwwww!” for an unusually long amount of time. When I criticize our elder dog because he is snappy and grumpy and barks obnoxiously, she is quick to his defense and reminds me that I am hurting his feelings. Every school day she is roaming around the house looking for various things that she promised to bring for a friend: a new pencil, orange duct tape, minecraft creations made from Perler beads, candy for someone who couldn’t go trick-or-treating, to name a few. The last day they had off of school, she hand created a scroll letter and mini vase of felt and pipe-cleaner flowers to surprise Karl and I with breakfast in bed and was nearly heart broken when she woke up to find Karl already gone for his morning run. She is constantly carrying Gizmo around like a baby and then gently tucks him into his bed when its time for dinner. And whether out of fear or affection none of us in the family leave her presence with out a hug, kiss, “I love you,” and sweet good-bye. She is conscientious and kind; her compassion has deep roots already. Perhaps that in itself brings light along with love to everyone she meets.
So, imagine this girl’s concern when we drive all around Seattle and at many, many intersections, stoplights or off-ramps, we encounter members of a large homeless population. They sit in the in the rain and the cold holding signs and pleading for help. For the longest time, I didn’t know an age-appropriate response to her inquiry of why we didn’t give them money. I worked with this population for three years in a drug and alcohol addiction treatment center. The general consensus is that giving them money is not particularly helpful. However, food, warmth, kindness are allotted in spades. So, with that explanation, Lucy then asked why we don’t give them food. That was another question I had a hard time answering. Until finally I said, “We could and we should. I just need to remember to keep granola bars and water in the car.” Subsequently, each time after that when she witnessed someone sitting at a stoplight with a sign, she would remind me.
Then, one day we had a surplus of protein drinks that we couldn’t fit on our shelves with a new load of groceries (the irony is not lost on me). Those drinks then became the base for what would be Lucy’s new project. That night she asked if we could go to the store to buy the rest of the supplies that might be helpful. We brainstormed what we could fit in a gallon ziplock bag and she included needs and possibly wants, pleasure and something to pass the time. Her kits include: a water bottle, a granola bar, a protein drink, a mini maze game, a sucker, and some Bazooka Joe bubble gum.
Walking back from the store with our loot, her energy and excitement was palpable. She rushed in the door and began opening up packages and created a sort of mini assembly line. Every minute she enjoyed arranging the bags, making certain each one had every time. Lining them up in a row, counting how many she produced. There were 16 bags in all. We then decided to divide them up; 6 in my car and 10 in our van.
Since the genesis of her project, sadly, she has not gotten to hand out any of the bags, yet. We live in a city where we don’t have to get in the car and go very far very often. But, this week, I had the privilege of handing out two. During my first experience, I noticed the awkwardness first. Pausing too long at the stop sign. Handing someone a bag that they may or may not appreciate. For certain, they have no idea what’s inside, and may feel confused. But after the pleasant exchange, I found myself looking in the rear view mirror. I was delighted to see them opening the package and begin perusing its contents. The second time, the awkwardness still lingered, but the kindness triumphed in the end.
I recognize that this gesture is not grand. But it is more than anything I’ve ever done on my own accord. To remind oneself, plan, prepare and package something for the mere chance of an opportunity to be kind requires more faith, hope and love than my numb heart allows for. Someone wise said, “A little child shall lead them.” My 10 year-old daughter, with her fresh spirit and fierce tenderness, softens my hard heart and leads me to kindness, compassion and action. And that is just one of many reasons why I love Lucy.
Since we’ve wrapped up the first month of 2015, I thought it was time to post some of the good reads I’ve been pondering lately and a few other goodies. And since yesterday was the Superbowl (why not a running play???) and my whole family has been trying to survive FLUmageddon, I’m posting the Sunday Specials today.
We repent of how we ignore you, of how we turn a blind eye to your suffering and your brilliance, of how the nations of the world continue to look on with only empty words and threats, of how our compassion has yet to turn to action. Your massacres, your sufferings, are forgotten, it seems.
The thing about shame is that it doesn’t so much live in your brain, as it inhabits your heart. It is a parasite that takes up lodging in your soul. I have been host to my shame for so long that it is hard to imagine my life without it. Shame was always my baseline. Shame has always felt a lot like home to me. What’s so deeply insidious about that particular type of abuse is that it fundamentally changes how a child feels about who they are, how they see the world, and how they believe the world sees them. I used to think everyone knew. In fact, I used to think they could smell it on me. Literally. I was obviously bad. I was the type of girl boys wanted, but not for their girlfriend. I never thought I was beautiful, but I always knew I had that thing- whatever it is. That’s another thing about shame- you wear it. Every day. You just assume it’s visible.
Since we cannot simply get over fear and anxiety, we must enter both through our narrative by familiarizing ourselves with how our bodies, pain and voices were regarded in our stories. We all have many accounts to which we’ve experienced harm, neglect and parental anxiety. Whether it was a mother who was constantly worried about your pain and safety or a family member who sexually abused you and manipulated silence or parents who didn’t ever speak or consider their bodies’ health and needs. Of course there are a myriad of other stories that could be told, ones I’ve heard, ones I’ve experienced and stories so subtle and insidious, it requires a practitioner of some kind to name them. Simply put, our bodies carry, conceal and cleverly disclose the tragedies of our past.
If you’re like me and often on the road, you may enjoy a few of these podcasts as well.
And lastly, have you heard The Lone Bellow’s newly released album yet??? Here’s a teaser for your inticement:
That’s it for now folks. What has caught your eye…or ear this year so far?