This weekend, Craig and I stopped by a man’s house to deliver a grill. His garage was packed with stuff - an old music stand he was refinishing for his great-grand niece. Ice skates that no longer fit. A cabinet full of trinkets that came from his dad’s garage. I ran my fingers down dusty wood, stepped over projects, and wondered where it all came from.
On my way out, there was a small square table. The top was dusty, and it was buried under other pieces of wood. The chairs were scattered, but were equally as beautiful.
“That’s a cool table,” I said.
“It’s from my great-grandpa,” he said. “It’s for sale. Comes with six leaves.”
“SIX leaves,” I mused. He pointed to a tattered cardboard box with the leaves inside. “That’s a big table.”
“Lots of good times at that table,” he said, smiling.
“You need it!” Craig exclaimed. “It’s perfect for your house!”
I shook my head and laughed at them both. “Yea. Right. It’s just me and my son,” I explained. “We do NOT need that large of a table.”
And wouldn’t you know it, I’ve been thinking about that damn table ever since.
Craig made us breakfast this morning. I snuggled under a fleece blanket and listened to the rain hit the living room window. Our conversation, quiet. Both of us still waking up. He brought me a plate, and sat down next to me.
“The thing is,” he said, staring at the wall in front of him, fork poised over his omelet. “The thing is that you … you are just trying to bring everyone else with you. And people don’t understand that. They don’t understand that you’re not trying to step on them to get to the top - you’re DRAGGING them with you to the top.”
And he sunk his fork into his potatoes.
And wouldn’t you know it, I’ve been thinking about wagons ever since.
My friend Kevin - “You’ve come a long way from your days of shying away from publicity and recognition. Bravo. Proud of you.” And my heart stuttered for a second or two. He’s right (as usual).
Bestie Betsy emails me every single morning. “We’re doing it,” she calls to me. “We’re dreaming and talking and praying and it’s happening. Can you see it?” She asks me every morning.
Can you see it?
We’re getting there.
We’re walking towards more and dragging each other along.
BFF Suzy messaged me yesterday and the timing could. not. have. been. more. perfect. Remember what Brene Brown says, the message read. And a graphic that spelled it out for me -
If you’re not also in the arena getting your ass kicked, then I’m not interested in your opinion.
And wouldn’t you know it? I’ve been wondering about who else is in the arena with me ever since.
Craig and I sat at a bar on Saturday night, my hand lightly resting on his leg, and his crooked grin falling on my tense shoulders.
“When I have a succession of crappy days, I envision a scale,” I said, my hands gesturing. “I just feel like that means I haven’t done enough good for other people. Haven’t done enough good to balance, and that’s why the crappy keeps coming.”
“Most people don’t think like you do,” he said. “I don’t think like you do,” he laughed.
Earnestly, I leaned into him. “I’m not joking,” I said. “I’m 100% serious. There’s a sign on my desk that says, ‘be a go-giver as well as a go-getter,’ and that’s what I try to do every dang day.”
He rubbed my leg. “I know that, but not everyone else does.”
And wouldn’t you know it? He’s right.
The thing about Keith’s table? Stuck in the garage after years of use?
It’d be big enough for all of us. We could pull our chairs up together and eat green bean casserole that someone made from their great aunt’s recipe. We could pull our chairs up all together and pray - heads bowed, hands clenched together. We could pull our chairs up all together and tell stories from back in the day - our laughter falling out of our mouths together.
We could pull our chairs up.
And we wouldn’t need a wagon because we’d all be there.
And we wouldn’t need an arena because we’d all be there.
At a table that’s long enough for all of our success, all of our dreams, all of our ideas and values and heart whispers.
This week has been crazy. A little article I wrote on my phone, while sitting on the couch listening to Bubble Guppies got picked up by a few different outlets, and with that has come some unsavory feelings from several different people.
And Bestie Betsy. “I guess this is how you know you’re making it?”
And BFF Suzy. “This is probably going to come with the success territory.”
And The Boyfriend. “The haters just mean you’ve made it.”
And inspiration from my friend Lauri this morning. “If you’re unhappy - that’s on you.”
I guess what I’m trying to say today is that I’ve got shit* to do.
And if you’re coming with me, c’mon.
And if you’re unsure, then get in the damn wagon because I’ve been going to the Jesus Gym and I will freaking carry you with me if I have to.
And if you’re just here to be mean?
Get out of the way.
* DEFINITELY not sorry for swearing this time, mom.
We talked about getting married this weekend.
And before you get excited, this is not THAT. So.
We talked about getting married and he pushed his plate away and looked at me. "Why do YOU want to get married?"
And I thought for a second.
Because words are important.
THESE words were important.
And I am a much better writer than talker, you guys.
I took a deep breath.
And I told him.
I told him that it's less about having someone at your house to make dinner for every night, and more about having someone that makes you better every day. It's about finding someone that you can build an extraordinary life together with.
Because if I'm going to get married again, it had better be something extraordinary.
There will be no halfway the second time around.
There will be no almost, no kind of, no maybe.
There will be no just okays, sort of, or just fines.
It will be for something extraordinary.
And I told him it was about witnessing each other's days.
And I told him it was about having someone that you know - beyond any kind of shadow of a doubt - that will always root for you.
And then I told him I wouldn't say yes unless there was a big, giant, shiny, huge ring involved. Because #priorities.
I'm sure if you looked at him now, he's probably still sweating.
ALL of this is just to say that tonight, as you’re putting kids to bed, or cleaning up dirty dishes, or folding laundry (ALL THE LAUNDRY, YOU GUYS), maybe take a second and really, REALLY look at your spouse.
Tell them you love them.
And tell them that the life you're building together?
Every single day is worth it.
Every single day is extraordinary.
This is the America I know.
Large white wind turbines dotting an open plain - some spinning lazily, others stopped.
Dirty semis carrying loads across the country, gruff hands holding onto steering wheels, tired jaws clenched.
Gas stations with old women named Dotty manning a grimy counter with scratch off tickets and hair that’s been done once a week since she was a teenager.
This is the America I know.
Mountains and stone and trees and snow jutting out from a land that was settled long before me.
Rolling hills, brown in the fall, with antelope dancing through the grass.
Fences crossing pasture, carefully built by a rancher’s calloused hands.
This is the America I know.
A farmer’s truck parked along a looming treeline.
Cars pulled over at a scenic lookout - a family pointing their hands out over a ridge.
Dirty fingernails buying a cold one after a long day.
This is the America I know.
Refineries intertwined with a dusty pasture filled with prairie dog towns.
Horses grazing next to bulls fighting by rivers running.
Long trains snaking through a peaceful countryside where houses are few and far between and cell service is nonexistent.
This is our America.
Yours and mine.
I think we forget that the slow pace is out here.
I think we forget what the air smells like out here.
Out here in this open -
in this wide open,
middle of the country,
This is our America, and if you put your ear down and listen hard to her,
she’ll call out to you.
Let's teach our daughters less about glass slippers and more about glass ceilings. Less about makeup and more about waking up. Less about about hair flipping and more about hustling.
Teach her more about standing firm in her beliefs and her love and her own sacred truth than standing for nothing at all. Teach her about grace under pressure and you teach her about pressure.
Because she'll feel it every single day.
Pressure to fit in, pressure to wear certain things, pressure to drink that drink, smoke that cigarette, or to open her legs.
And you teach her that no is a complete sentence.
Teach her that life is hard, and long, and some days will daze her with difficulty. You teach her that she's tougher. Teach her that a bad decision doesn't make a bad life, and teach her how to rise, rise, rise like the sun that she is, and you teach her to
Teach her to shine so hard that even on the broken days, even when it feels like everything - and I do mean everything - has veered off track -
you teach her that the light of her reach will brighten even the darkest of roads.
Call her a game changer, a catalyst, a societal-habit-breaker, a spark. Teach her to be a giver and a liver and a never, not-one-time-stopper. Fill her cup so full that she has enough to fill the cups of others.
Teach her that the blood running through her veins is the result of every other woman that has come before - the ones that marched for the right to vote in 1913, and the ones that marched for equal rights in 1978. You tell her that she is the result of the love of thousands and that, if at any time she's just not quite sure of herself, you tell her to stand tall
square her shoulders
and think about Maya Angelou, Joan of Arc, Jane Austen, Florence Nightingale, Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Queen Elizabeth I, Marie Curie, Helen Keller, Eleanor Roosevelt, Helen of Troy, Anne Frank, Glennon Doyle,
or Mother Friggin' Teresa because
women handle it.
Historically speaking? You teach her that we handle it
I step over Incredibles, drums, books, and cars.
I clean up crumbs, spills, and lunch.
I walk slower, wake up earlier, and worry more.
I clean up puke, snot, and pee that somehow doesn’t make it into the toilet.
I schedule haircuts, doctor visits, swim lessons, and play dates.
I organize backpacks, snack drawers, and all the socks.
With every fort blanket I fold ...
With every stuffed animal I get out from under a bed ...
With every milk cup I clean ...
And with every single super hero I memorize ...
A clock ticks.
And when the feet thud across the floor upstairs, and when the quiet, sleepy voice whispers, “I just love you,”
I hear it loud and clear.
The soft tick tock of a clock that is synced to the center of my being - where he was first loved - tells me that time is passing.
Time is passing.
Time is passing.
One day, there won’t be Bubble Guppies or games. There won’t be costumes or special blankets.
And one day, he will look back on all of the days that bled together and know
that he was loved beyond all measure.
. About Moi .
I love, love, love flannel sheets and I am really passionate about lists on post it notes and most of the time I'm sad that no one else is as excited as I am about Diet Mountain Dew. I also adore run-on sentences. And if you need an awesome virtual assistant, who is full of personality and really good jokes? Email me. I'm your girl.
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He saw her before he saw
anything else in the room.
- F. Scott Fitzgerald
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