celebrating life’s marrow-sucking (#wholemama).

I believe in celebrating.

I believe in countdowns, numbering the days on chalkboards and tearing loops off of construction paper garlands.

I believe in finding one thing, every single day, to fist-pump or high five or cheer for, because this not-so-ordinary life, these more-than-mundane hours of existence, are worth all the celebrations we humans have to offer.

Photo cred: Shelley Pimentel Photography.
Photo cred: Shelley Pimentel Photography.

You may have noticed my participation in the Whole Mama series this summer, an invitation to embracing the Holy Creative alongside Esther and Jamie, Erika and Sarah, and a whole crew of most should-be-celebrated women. I wouldn’t – and won’t – trade the relationships formed through that for anything, but am grateful for the time we spent in community, cheering one another on, being for each other in this journey of motherhood and authenticity.

So, we’re going to take the rest of this post to celebrate and to remember how we did a damn good job of sucking the marrow out of life. We – as in me, myself and I – are going to try our hardest to name all all the little celebrations that are the big celebrations of this past summer. And I’d love for you to do the same, whether in your head or on paper or in the comments below, celebrate the life you’ve lived the past couple months.

We’ve…

Made jam. Pitched tents indoors. Hung out in pitched tents indoors. Instigated and relished in Family Movie Nights. Ridden bikes two blocks down the road to the neighborhood pizza place for a certain three-year-old’s birthday dinner. Grilled. Eaten chilled crab and avocado soup. Taken road trips to Santa Cruz and Davis and everywhere in between. Worn our parkas in San Francisco. Been to the Oakland Zoo and the San Francisco Zoo. Cheered on a brave little boy in his first round of swim lessons. Left said little boy at preschool for the first time. Sweated in the heat of our living room. Bought the last fan Home Depot had in stock. Had the most amazing writing weekend, (as you know, as I can’t stop talking about). Hosted hoards of friends, all of whom are too numerous to count, whose stories I still hold heart-side. Celebrated the 4th of July with this girl and with our neighbors. Gotten to know the gift of our neighborhood. Walked countless loops around Lake Merritt. Become a regular at the Farmer’s Market. Hopped on a plane to Idaho to just be with family. Hosted my parents, the greatest Gaga and Papa our boys will ever know. Read, read, read because it’s summer and because summer reading might just be the best invention known to man. Gushed over Go Set a Watchman and Stargirl and Post-Traumatic Church Syndrome alike. Locked ourselves out of the house, with baby inside. Learned how to wear red lipstick and set an intention in a book store, thanks to one wise and witty friend.

But we’ve also…

Taken the time to sit down, side by side on the couch, just me and the HBH (Hot Black Husband), that is. Asked each other the hard questions. Snuggled. Kissed. Held hands. Talked about and leaned into and believed in what really matters and who really matters. Said I’m sorry. Offered forgiveness. Accepted apologies. Realized that marriage takes work and parenthood is not for the faint of heart. Taped this to our refrigerator:

I’m sorry for…
That was wrong because…
In the future I will…
Will you forgive me?

And somehow, as it should, it’s then made us talk about and lean into and believe in the most important things all over again, as we should have been doing all along.

So, all in all, I’d say it’s been a most successful and a most significant and, like the perfect pair of jeans, a most lived-in summer.

What about you?

xo, c.

I’ve loved participating in the #wholemama movement this summer, and do check out Esther’s blog to see where and how the journey continues. Otherwise, how have you celebrated life this summer? How have you sucked the marrow out of life? Start a list! Type out a few in the comments below!

eyes wide open (#wholemama)

Lately I’ve been keeping my eyes open, when it comes to prayer, that is.

The good girl within sometimes still cringes, when I feel like I’m going against the Supposed To’s and the Must Have’s and the This Is How We Do It, ala Montell Jordan meets Jesus prototype of Christian prayer.

Like I said, it’s kind of like this song plays in the background…

…and try as I might, I just can’t get it right.

I want to close my eyes, and I want to go hole up in the corner where no one will see me or hear me, where my words don’t matter because it’s just between me and heaven’s Magnum P.I.

I want holiness to emanate throughout the house – in fact, while we’re at it, it’d help me if the Mormon Tabernacle Christmas Album pumped holy puffs of air outside our house as well, simultaneous bursts of heavenly sound and smell alongside daily loads of Downy fresh protect. I want my children to sit quietly in the corner, reading, or maybe even humming Benedictine chants to the tune of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, while I breathe in the quiet of unbroken mornings with my Savior.

But ain’t none of that gonna happen, y’all. 

So maybe that’s why I’ve been keeping my eyes open lately.

Because when my eyes are open, a different type of prayer happens. It’s a prayer that forces me to enter the moment, insides still as can be, while chaos realms in every outside precipice of my world.

It’s a prayer that brings a smile to my lips when my three-year-old boy jumps onto the piano bench, and starts banging on the keys, singing, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus to the tune of the song he’s just created.

It’s a prayer that quickens my insides and slows my pulse, all at the same time, when a smile slowly, shyly starts to creep across Baby Brother’s face, when it’s a smile entirely, solely directed at me.

And I don’t always know how Holy all of this is, but were we to dust off the family Bible, the one that nestles between wedding photo albums and Thomas the Train locomotives and circus-themed finger puppets, I think we could crack open a verse or two about the Kingdom of God. And maybe we’d see that it’s more about stepping into the holiness of what’s already here, of who’s already come, than begging and pleading and insisting Old Suitor Heaven come our way. 

So, for now, I’m going to keep my eyes open. I’m going to keep my eyes open at the dinner table each night, when we go around the table and say what we’re thankful for, when Cancan clasps his hands together afterwards and shouts, “Amen!”

My eyes will stay open when I’m nursing and they’ll stay open on Sunday mornings when we gather with our people – because sometimes, when every head is bowed and every eye is closed, I like to keep mine open. I like to look around the room and breathe in the holiness, see eyelids kissed by peace and mouths pursed in intimate trust.

And that too is just as prayerful, because sometimes, the prayers of these saints are the ones that hold me up when I’m too weak to formulate my own. 

So, what about you? What is prayer to you? Do share. And feel free to include your favorite, most obscure mid-90’s dance relic – bonus points if you do! Meanwhile, I’m over at Esther Emery’s blog, joining in for the weekly #wholemama prompt. We’d love for you to join us!

lessons from superman (#wholemama).

Superman has taken up residence in our house.

It starts the same nearly every morning: when it’s time for Cancan, our almost three-year-old to get dressed, he takes it upon himself to wear a) swim trunks and b) his “super cape.” Clark Kent becomes my boy’s alter ego, making his debut everywhere we go: at the playground and at church, at the farmer’s market and during family pictures at the beach in Santa Cruz. He shows up at our dinner table and at the zoo, in the grocery store and while we’re waiting for Mama’s Special Drink (otherwise known as a 12-ounce latte with a double shot and one sugar in the raw from the neighborhood coffee shop ).

At the zoo with Lois Lane. Photo cred: Steph.
At the zoo with Lois Lane. Photo cred: Stephanie Patterson.

He’s not soaring off anything higher than the front porch steps at this point, and snuggles from Mama still seem to be his Kryptonite. And here’s the deal: I’m totally fine with him being the superhero in our house. I’ve long since shed my own superhero cape, maybe because I’ve begun to realize that I can’t have it all and be it all and do it all and save it all. I no longer pretend invincibility and I’ve long shed my proclivity to drive myself into the ground, being the Best Mom and the Best Worker and the Best Friend and the Best Wife. Because at some point, I think we realize it’s not about being Best, it’s simply about being. 

It’s simply about embracing the mess and seeking wholeness at the same time.

It’s about entering into the chaos and laughing a hearty, holy throat-chortle in response.

It’s about finding little, perfect chunks of shalom hidden in pools of Cheerios on the hardwood floor and in the splatters of dried banana that adorn the dining room walls. 

And in that way, my kid seems to be the healthiest version of a superhero I’ve ever met …and one that I want to model and emulate.

As Superman was getting ready to go to bed tonight, he and the HBH (Hot Black Husband) migrated to the front room, where I sat writing this post. After dancing in his Batman underwear to the background music, he proceeded to start the elongated bedtime-clothes ritual.

Sitting down on the floor, he wiggled his feet into his footie pajamas. Determined and stubborn and most wholly alive, no sooner did a question follow his declaration:

I got this, I got this! …Can you help me, Dada?

Superman asked for help. 

Asking for help is not what superheroes are known for, because superheroes don’t have to ask for help. Superheroes are superheroes for a reason, because they have every Super Perfect Power within them, but you and I, my friend, we are far from superheroes. And isn’t that a relief?

It means we can ask for help.

It means we can lean into each other.

It means we can show compassion and kindness to one another, even when we feel like our well’s run dry.

It means we can seek to understand those whose stories are different from ours, those whose cultures and histories and lives seem so far from our own.

It means we can seek wholeness and find shalom, the essence of which I believe is already there for the waiting, there for the wanting, there for those who so desire it.

So, join me, will you?

Join me as we strip off the superhero capes we think we can and should wear, as we yearn to be our most real and compassionate and whole selves.

xo, c.

So, we’re talking about power and superpowers and superheroes this week at #wholemama. Join the movement, and link up over at Esther’s site as we talk about All Things Superpower.  Otherwise, what has Superhero Cancan taught you from this post? What are you feeling and thinking? Do share!

an introduction to Whole Mama – join us!

Well friends, it’s not every day that you get two posts in your inbox from me, so consider this your lucky day!  Now first, if you haven’t already noticed, summer has begun to hit much of the North American continent (excluding, of course, Forks, WA and its resident sparkly vampires). If you’re anything like me, that shiny ball in the sky comes out to play and the last thing I want to do is feel holed up behind a computer screen.

Instead, I want to read, outside in the backyard, toes tickling the grass.

Flickr Creative Commons: Florin Gorgan
Flickr Creative Commons: Florin Gorgan

I want to hike and go for long walks and float endlessly in bodies of water.

I want to eat every meal courtesy of the BBQ, and afterwards I want berries and vanilla ice cream to trickle down my throat.

And I want to play. I want to play well, with my boys and with my husband, with my friends and with whoever else comes across our path.

I want to rest and I want to vacation.  I want the space to sift through the condensed jumble of words that often gets tangled in my mind, September through May.

Often times, that means that I ease myself off of the pressure to produce, especially when it comes to the blog. I mean, I love y’all and I love the be, mama. be community, but I love the summer season more. And I make no apologies for it!

But there’s something else summertime produces that no other season seems to give me: wholeness. So when my friend Esther invited me to be a part of a summer project called Whole Mama, I was intrigued. Many of us find ourselves at an intersection of motherhood + creativity + spirituality …so, what would it look like for a little online tribe of you and me, and her and her and her, to band together and to encourage one another to be our most whole selves? 

It’s going to look different for each one of us, but all pressure aside from just another task of doing, it’s going to look good.

And I’d love for you to join us.

Starting next week, every Monday a new weekly theme you can write on and about will be given. If you have a published blog, consider writing on it there (and then joining in with the bigger link-up on Esther’s blog).

You can join the #wholemama movement on Instagram by posting a picture of YOU – beautiful, whole YOU – and finishing the sentence, “I need #wholemama because…” Also, use the hashtag and you’ll be entered to win a stack of summer reading yumminess.

And because we want to walk alongside one another, encouraging and empowering each other to be our most whole selves, you can join us every Monday for a Twitter party or for a Fuze call. The possibilities are endless, I’m telling you.

Finally, let me introduce you to the community of women behind this movement. This is Erika, and even though I’ve never met her face to face, I can tell she’s just as sweet as she sounds:

Y’all, say something nice to her in the comments because it takes BRAVERY to speak your words on camera.  After you’ve heard from Erika, you can head on over to Sarah’s blog and watch my video …in which you’ll hear about my over-the-top love for teething necklaces AND my need for #wholemama.

So, will you join us?

It’s bound to be a most whole summer.

What about you? What gives you life in the summer? How do you yearn to be made WHOLE this summer?