Tuesday, May 31, 2011

little boy moments.

as my favorite happiness guru says,
the days are long, but the years are short.

as another schoolyear ends
[& while they seem endless while we're immersed in them,
i realize a day will come when i can't believe they're over],
i'm faced with the fact that we are,
as a family, done with the primary grades [k-2].

which are the best ones, don't you agree?

we were lucky/blessed to go out with a bang, though.
little boy's second-grade teacher was this
amazing force of creativity & inspiration & positivity
who gave us the priceless gift of possibly our
best. year. ever.
[& definitely our best. year. yet.]

we heart you forever, mrs. b.

so as i grieve the unmistakeable reality
that my little boy is shedding his "little" status
little by little [as it were],
i thought i might document & share
a few moments of pure him, here & now:

* * * * * * * * * * * * *
moment #1, 3.31.2011:

little boy's quote of the day, to our beagle-mix mutt:

"oh, kirby. don't lick your penis on daddy's birthday."

* * * * * * * * * * * * *
moment #2, 4.2011:

little boy's class had a photo wall
featuring each student wearing a silly springtime hat.
he was wearing a yellow & black striped cap
with wings off to the sides;
his friend lolly wore a headband of big pink petals.

"i like your springtime pictures," i commented.
without missing a beat, he replied enthusiastically,

"i was a bumblebee.
lolly was a flower & i pollinated her."

* * * * * * * * * * * * *
moment #3, 5.8.2011:

for mother's day,
one of the projects little boy created for me at school
was a "mom's gazette" worksheet for him to complete.
the headline read "world's best mom!", &
he drew the accompanying illustration,
filled in blanks in the story, &
checked all the "my mother is" boxes
he thought applied to me
[awesome, brave, brilliant, cheerful, considerate,
cool, craftsy, cuddly, cute,

he had checked all 21 boxes [awww!].

"wow, you checked all the boxes;
you really think i'm all of those things?" i asked.
"that's awfully sweet."
he answered flatly,

"yeah. the only one i wasn't sure i should check was 'energetic.'"

fair enough, bubby, fair enough.

here's to you, my little boy.
i hope you always fill our lives
with laughter & light & love
& one-liners & wop-wop moments.

i will always love you with my whole heart.
& then some.

& even when you are a big, tall, stunningly handsome man,
in my heart you will always be
my sweet, sunshiney, sensitive, hilarious, goofy
little boy.

image source: jb & lb, a perfect pairing.

Friday, May 27, 2011

her last master class.

of course, you watched.

of course, i watched.

& listened. & learned.
just as expected.

but i realized i should have been taking notes
as oprah was giving what amounted to
her commencement address
at her own graduation.

[maybe ours, too – it remains to be seen.]

so thank o-ness they posted her "last class" up on oprah.com,
so i can print it, reread it, highlight it,
& reiterate the key points here
for all of our easier reference.

so here are what i received as
six things oprah knows for sure
from her 25 years of the oprah winfrey show

* * * * * * * * * * * * *
on discovering your calling.

we are all called.
everybody has a calling, &
your real job in life is
to figure out what that is &
get about the business of doing it.

a calling lights you up &
it lets you know that you
are exactly where you're supposed to be,
doing exactly what you're supposed to be doing.

live from the heart of yourself.
you have to know what sparks the light in you
so that you, in your own way,
can illuminate the world.

wherever you are, that is your platform,
your stage, your circle of influence.
that is your talk show, &
that is where your power lies.

in every way, in every day,
you are showing people exactly who you are.
you're letting your life speak for you.

start embracing the life that is calling you &
use your life to serve the world.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *
on owning your energy.

nobody but you is responsible for your life.
you are responsible for the energy that
you create for yourself, &
you're responsible for the energy that
you bring to others.

all life is energy, &
we are transmitting it at every moment.
we are all little beaming little signals
like radio frequencies, &
the world is responding in kind.

for every action, there is an equal & opposite reaction.
everything you done to me, already done to you.
it is the golden rule to the tenth power.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *
on knowing you're enough.

there is a common thread that runs through
all of our pain & all of our suffering, &
that is unworthiness.
not feeling worthy enough
to own the life you were created for.

even people who believe they deserve
to be happy & have nice things often
don't feel worthy once they have them.
there is a difference between
thinking you deserve to be happy &
knowing you are worthy of happiness.

we often block our own blessings because
we don't feel inherently good enough
or smart enough or pretty enough
or worthy enough.

you're worthy because you are born &
because you are here.
your being here, your being alive
makes worthiness your birthright.

you alone are enough.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *
on giving & receiving validation.

we all want validation.
every single person you will ever meet
shares that common desire.
they want to know:
do you see me?
do you hear me?
does what i say mean anything to you?

everybody wants to be heard.
try it with your children, your husband, your wife,
your boss, your friends.
validate them.
i see you. i hear you. and what you say matters to me.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *
on being still, knowing & listening.

i know i've never been alone, &
you haven't either.
& i know that that presence, that flow –
some people call it grace –
is working in my life at every single turn.
& yours, too, if you let it in.
it's closer than your breath, &
it is yours for the asking.

even when i didn't have a name for it,
i could feel the voice bigger than myself
speaking to me, &
all of us have that same voice.

be still & know it.

you can acknowledge it or not.
you can worship it or not.
you can praise it, you can ignore it,
or you can know it.

know it.

it's always there speaking to you &
waiting for you to hear it in every move,
in every decision.

wait & i listen. i'm still –
i wait & listen for the guidance
that's greater than my meager mind.

god is love & god is life &
your life is always speaking to you.
your life is speaking to you.
what is it saying?

* * * * * * * * * * * * *
on spreading the o-love.

what i hope is that you all will be
that safe harbor for somebody else --
their safe place to fall.
do for them what you are telling me
the show has done for you.


love somebody.
just one person.
& then spread that to two.
& as many as you can.
you'll see the difference it makes.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *
bonus: oprah noted that
'gratitude is the single greatest treasure
i will take with me from this experience.'

well, ms. winfrey,
i hope you take our gratitude for you
with you, as well.

have a good summer.
see you at the next level.

image: oprah.com.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

oh, prah.

please pardon my sniffling.

but y'all know how i am about my oprah.

the divine ms. o.
25 years.
over today.
& i'm o-verwhelmed.

i've been firmly ensconced
in the first stage of grief,
for quite a while.

but i guess it's a little late for that now.

i'm not really angry about it
[the typical second stage of grief].
i mean, she's done an average of
one show every other day [weekends & holidays included]
for a quarter-century,
& wants to do something different.

yeah, can't really begrudge her that.

& there's no bargaining with oprah,
so grief stage three is out, too.

so, in regards to going cold turkey
with my daily dose of oprah,
i feel i've reached grief stage four:

i began college the year she began
the oprah winfrey show.
& i've been a follower ever since.

& i feel "follower" is the proper word,
because she is a leader.

not just an icon.
not just a legend.
not just a media maven.
& definitely not just a talkshow host.
not even just a teacher.

oprah is a leader.
a cultural leader.
a thought leader.
a world leader.
a force for change. a force for good. locally & globally.

& even though i'll still subscribe to o magazine
& listen to oprah radio
& watch own tv,

make no mistake:
this is the end of an era.

stage five is acceptance.
i'll get there eventually.

but not yet.
not today.

today, i'll be watching.
& listening.
& still learning.

from my best girl.
our o.

image: reuters.

Monday, May 16, 2011

hello, monday.

hello, monday morning.

hello, springtime weather.
hello, gorgeous.
hello, may's second act.

hello, summer, just around the corner.

hello, crazy camp calendar.
hello, sno-cones.
hello, summertime list.

hello, a dozen days of school left.
hello, classroom parties.
hello, teacher gifts.

hello, bookstore giftcards.
hello, special snapsots.
hello, butterfly poem.

hello, darling puppy on my foot.
hello, sneezing hound on the mend.
hello, three-dog nights again.

hello, purged playroom.
hello, clean little boy's room.
hello, refreshed front porch.

hello, work.
hello, transcription.
hello, procrastination be gone.

hello, clean house.
hello, healthy body.
hello, snazzy snax.
hello, dance.
hello, saturday night.
hello, 16th anniversary.

hello, full, beautiful life.
hello, love.

so, what are you saying hello to this fine may day??

image source: dreamland.

Friday, May 13, 2011

mother's week, continued.

from parent:wise austin;
"listen to your mother" by kristin armstrong.

i am a mother.

i am a fixer, a feeder a driver, a healer, a mind reader, a comfort, an advocate, a tear wiper, a member of the hygiene, sunscreen & homework gestapo, a hair braider, a lunch packer, a bed maker, a time keeper, a promise keeper, a laundry slave, a calendar, a chef, a back tickler, a day saver, a dragon slayer, a puppy trainer, a delivery service, a hamster eulogist, a personal shopper, a crush confidante, a counselor, a manicurist, a cheerleader, a toilet flusher, a peacemaker, & the finder of all things lost.

i am the courageous recipient of mood swings, meltdowns, balled up reeking socks, soggy tissues and wet wads of gum. i can endure the evil eye and i-hate-yous without flinching [much]. i am a faithful comrade under heavy fire in the trenches of a stomach virus. i have resolutely composed my facial expression in response to gushing blood, passing gas in church, and the word penis. i have successfully performed the heimlich maneuver twice, saving my daguther from an unmelted popsicle chunk & our hamster from the throat of our swiss mountain dog. i have convinced a quaking child to leap into a body of chlorinated water with only the words, "trust me." i have taken on pain & heartbreak like a voodoo doll stuck unmercifully with pins. i am cold when my children refuse to wear a coat. i have listened when i felt like screaming, screamed when i should have listened, & given when i thought i had nothing left at all. i have been defined & refined by this gig called mom, having lost myself completely in seasons of mothering, only to find & resurrect myself over & over again.

so here's the thing. after all the years spent loving my little people, how on earth am i supposed to learn how to let them go?

my son, who used to hang on my every word, now makes grunting noises & maintains prolonged direct eye contact only with a screen. the smell of his shoes could serve as a military weapon of mass destruction. he used to spring forth from his bed in the mornings, smiling at the sound of my voice, meeting each new day with wonder & delight. now he groans & pulls the covers over his head, mumbling "jeezmomc'monfivemoreminutes" through a dense fog of morning breath, glaring at me with narrowed eyes & spite as if i were morning personified. the boy who used to love his bath now has to be told repeatedly to shower, & while showering, reminded of the benefits of soap & shampoo. he jumps & responds immediately to a new text message, yet i have to remind him twenty times to take out the trash. [perhpas i should try texting him to take out the trash?] he wears shorts every single day, at all costs & for every occasion, even when it's twenty degrees outside or the attire calls for a coat & tie. the constancy of my presence goes unnotices, yet the presumption exists that every procrastinated school project yields a joint deadline. he vacillates between needing me & pushing me away, & i alternate between holding him in the nest & wanting him to fly.

my twin daughters, two years younger than their big brother, are teetering & peering in the abyss of adolescence, the hint of future curves foreshadows the twisted road ahead. my wasband has maintained since our separation that when the girls hit puberty, our custody agreement is up for renegotiation – giving me only full week a month. likely by then i will have signs of early onset menopause & the judge will rule that in the best interest of everyone involved, the red tent shall be pitched on dad's lawn. this is probably best, beacuse even now, these two little princesses that i once nursed side by side like a tribal woman from national geographic have moods that can change as quickly as texas weather. one minute it's a perfectly lovely sunny day, & suddenly, faster than you can say "whatever," a cold wind blows through, lightning cracks across a blackened sky, & thunder rolls like teenage eyes. i am often to blame, even when i have no idea what caused the weather pattern to begin with. i no longer have personal items – my makeup has been ransacked & my closet pillaged. they chew my gum, leave the wrappers in my purse, pilfer cash from my wallet, & put on my lip gloss while they text & face time with their friends on my phone.

i realize that these changes are part of god's design – that my kids & i will drive each other sufficiently crazy so that when the time comes for them to go, i don't dissolve into a million pieces, or wrap their leg with my wailing body, or hide in the closet of their freshman dorm. i have been working on defining myself with words outside the realm of mother – i am a writer, i am an author, i am a runner, i am a friend. in my head, i know that my life exists beyond my children, but my heart knows what matters most. you see, i will never regret a maternal minute – sure, i'll regret my mishandling of some moments, but i will never regret having been present. i will never grieve money i didn't make, time or talent that i could have spent elsewhere, or the experience that got sidelined or sacrificed along the way. my mark is my motherhood; my legacy is love.

no matter what other definitions i cultivate, somehow when i meet someone new, or stand before a crowd of strangers to explain myself, i always seem to begin where i began.

my name is kristin. i am luke, grace & isabelle's mom.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

oh, bama.

so, two days ago,
my president came to austin.
& i went to see him.

not quite personal [alas, no meet-&-greet],
but definitely up-close.

like, 25 feet, maybe.

yep. leader of the free world.
talking to about 750 austinites.
of which i was one.

talking about his first-term achievements.
talking about his second-term goals.

talking about disappointments.
talking about sacrifices.
talking about reality.

talking about connection.
talking about togetherness.
talking about sameness.

talking about americans.
talking about putting on boots.
talking about climbing up hills.

talking about yes. we. can.

now, that's what i'm talking about, y'all.

**HUGE thanks goes to my dear & generous friend
& fellow blogger diana,
who shelled out the giant clams necessary
for me to be her plus-one
to this once-in-a-lifetime experience.
best. friend. ever.**

image source: just me & my canon powershot, baby. booyah.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

mother's week.

i'm a writer [hope this isn't a surprise],
& as austin-based independent business & marketing writers go,
i feel i'm pretty good.

i've got a way with the words.

but i'm consistently & duly humbled by
the neverending river of amazing, inspiring writers
i regularly come across, either in print or online.

recently, i came across two pieces i just. must. share.
& since they're both about motherhood,
i thought i'd extend mother's day into mother's week,
posting one today & another one friday
especially for your mama-spends-two-minutes-reading-for-pleasure self.

this one is from [in]courage;
it's titled "on mothers" by holley gerth

can i tell you a secret?

i am in awe of mothers.

the hand-holding, brow-wiping, life-changing women of the world.

i love how mothers create, bring life into the world, nourish souls, tie the shoelaces of the future.

i love how they wrestle about where to send kids to school, & what to get for christmas, & how to take the seed of a life & grow it into strong, tall faith.

i love the way they laugh about too much poop & mountains of laundry & the beautiful chaos that they somehow keep spinning in orbit.

i love how time etches memories across their faces, like little lines in an extraordinary story, & the way their eyes light up when someday someone calls them “grandma.”

i love how they throw their arm in front of you at a sudden stop in the car even if you’re not their child, even when their hair is silver, even when nursing & diapers feel like so many moons ago.

i love how even women without children {i’m one} somehow feel the need to nurture, to grow, to pour themselves into the next generation like so much water that just never stops. mothers of the heart if not the body.

i don’t know where you are this morning but i wish i could cup your face in my hands and whisper this: “you are a good mother. you are making a difference. you are beautiful.

then i’d drop my hands and smile at you. & in a moment, you’d be busy again doing what you do & i’d watch the miracle.

the miracle of motherhood.

the ordinary-extraordinary.

the divine with a little dirt under its nails.

jill churchill said: “there’s no way to be a perfect mother & a million ways to be a good one.”

& with all of you mother-wonders out there?

i don’t think i’ll ever stop counting . . .

image source: this mother-wonder, of the newest addition to my maternal duties. introducing skipper inkspots.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

tune for today.

my fellow americans,


i do.

& whenever i can't,
whenever i doubt,
i watch this.

take four minutes today
& make yourself remember
what's great about being an american.
[p.s. working together for the greater good isn't just for democrats.]

Monday, May 9, 2011

a week ago.

an american's prayer
on the occasion of the death
of the fbi's #1 most wanted.

dear God,

please forgive me my joy
in the destruction of a fellow human being.
while i disagree with those who are openly reveling
in the snuffing out of another spirit,
i can't help feeling a little jubilant
at the widespread relief of fear, sense of justice
& other good this brutal finale might yield.

please give this man's soul rest.
he lived a life full of fear & ego & loathing & violence,
& i seriously doubt true contentment or serenity
were ever part of his earthly experience.
let your grace now show him what might have been.

please let this event provide some peace
to the people whose loved ones were murdered
at this man's command on 9-11 & in other attacks.
let the reality that he will never again
induce the same pain upon anyone else
ease theirs as they face a lifetime of grief.

please protect us all as this man's followers
seek bitter revenge for his execution.
let them see the light of your love
& know true faith is not about the particulars
of how we believe in you, but simply
that we do,
& that your wish is for us to see the sameness among us
& use it as a way to connect,
not dwell on the differences between us
& use it as an excuse to kill.

finally, i want to thank you, God,

for the brave men & women who put their lives
on the line every day to help keep us safe;

for their loved ones who suffer so much
loneliness & worry to support them;

for our country's leaders, who call upon
your wisdom & guidance daily [hourly?]
as they deal with the overwhelming task of
making so many choices affecting so many lives;

& for your ultimate judgment of this man
& of us all, as it offers us one less reason
to sit in judgment of one another
as we struggle to coexist
on this miraculous little blue planet
you've created for us.

thank you.

doing my best to live in the light,

image source: federal bureau of investigation.

a day ago.

i was adopted basically at birth.
i didn't know my birthmom until i was 25,
when she & my birthdad found me.

i had her in my life for only fifteen years.
she died abruptly three years ago
when she fell in her kitchen,
hitting her head on the tile floor.
she died of traumatic brain injury within three days.

she was extraordinary,
& not one day goes by i don't wish
that she were still here or
that i had made more of our time together.

i especially loved
her boundless generosity,
her amazing thoughtfulness
& her smokey laugh.

i used to be careful
to celebrate birthmother's day with her
[the saturday prior to mother's day sunday],
as actual mother's day belonged
to my real mom who brought me up.

i regret that now.

i regret it because
it is not a competition,
more family just means more love,
& both of these wonderful women
made huge sacrifices to help me become
who i am today.

so this mother's day,
along with honoring my real mom
with gifts & cards & calls,

i honored my birthmom
in my heart [& now, on this blog]
for everything she gave me.

love & miss you
yesterday, today & every day,
nana pat.

image source: big girl & nana pat, circa 2000, as photographed by me.