Ice Cream is most definitely a breakfast food

We start our lazy holiday Monday morning together, cozied up in bed.  And then you stretch and smile and start listing off what you’d like for breakfast, including ice cream and lemonade and pasta made from sweet potato and peas, with lots of pecorino cheese.

These details are important to me, because I know you are still choosing foods based on what you love to eat, instead of what you think you ought to eat.  You are still listening to your tummy and your tongue, and then actually not only asking for those foods for breakfast (even if neither one is considered a traditional breakfast food), but giving yourself permission to eat them and enjoy them.

This is a miracle to me, because by age five most children have stopped eating intuitively (if I’ve got my stats right, it might even be by age three).  Somewhere along the way, we begin to replace listening when we’re hungry with diet books, caloric calculators, the shoulds and the shouldn’ts..because somewhere along the way, we begin to believe, falsely, that we can’t be trusted.

Somewhere along the way we begin to believe in a diet industry worth billions and billions of dollars that tells us we are not worthy, simply because we can’t twist and turn and contort our bodies into their rigid, narrow moulds.

But beautiful wee bee, please know that this is BULLSHIT.  

The diet industry tells you these lies in order to make more and more money.  And the worst part is, they are so successful because it is so frigging hard for people to feel worthy, to dance in their own sunlight. We’ve been told to play small when we ought to be playing as big and bold and beautiful as we actually are.

And so, you eat that ice cream for breakfast and enjoy it, every last bite.  Because life is meant to be enjoyed and savoured and gobbled up, one delicious bite at a time.

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And how did you get to be Five?

After changes upon changes we are more or less the same- Simon and Garfunkel 

I am making Birthday Eve special waffles for dinner, while you play in our living room.

And once again, as I crack the eggs (from the farm that we’ve supported for four years at the farmers’ market that you’ve been going to since you were bumbling around in my tummy), once again I am struck by how the more things change, the more they stay the same.

We’re still eating celebratory special waffles with berry sauce for special and not so special dinners (not really ever breakfast– blueberry pancakes for breakfast) on our incredibly well loved white couch from Tita Meg that we’ve been cuddling on for years, even though a certain friend keeps threatening to drive to IKEA and pick up a new one for us.  (*as a side note, you just hopped into the kitchen and said: “I love my birthday! Every time when it’s my birthday are you going to make special waffles?”…well YES…and also…it’s like you knew I was writing about your birthday waffles while cooking them).

Your art table, while a brand new lovely proper wooden desk, is still covered with tissue paper, colouring book pages torn out of random colouring books, twisted pipe cleaners, a mountain of crayons and glue and washi tape that you continually “borrow” from my art corner.

You even still have the same imaginary giant as a sidekick.  And while it may have been news to me today that Fred is actually a girl giant (we had never discussed gender since I found it so charming that you imaginary friend is a giant that I hadn’t ever asked til you offered up that piece of information today) Fred still travels everywhere with a ladder so that you can reach the stars, together.

I think the lesson in all of this, my dearest Zo Zo, is that while people and places and things may grow and change, may come and go, the core things stay.  In fact, the core things stay AND grow, just like the beautiful ever growing pile of art on your art table.

Who you are? Well, that grows and grows and still stays exactly the same, because from the moment I laid eyes on your nose (your daddy’s nose) and your chin (my chin) in that ultrasound, and saw that sleeping baby face that I still see when you fall asleep in my arms, I knew you were meant to be here.  I knew you were meant to change the world.

And you have.  You make this world the absolute best place to be.  And there is no one else in the whole wide world with whom I would rather eat special waffles for dinner on a white couch, on the day before she turns five.

Love you more than anything in the whole wide world.  Happy Day You Joined The World, Beautiful Wee Bee.

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Hot Loneliness and Hot Potatoes 

So even if the hot loneliness is there, and for 1.6 seconds we sit with that restlessness when yesterday we couldn’t sit for even one, that’s the journey of the warrior.  That’s the path of bravery– Pema Chodron 

Hot Loneliness.  It doesn’t sound like it’s actually something…hot, now does it, my wee girl.  

While I know that you haven’t known that deep painful ache that all of a sudden arrives, sometimes seemingly out of nowhere.  That pain that hurts so frigging bad that all you want to do is stop it, for a moment, by any means necessary, someday you will.  And so this post could very well be one of the most important posts I will ever write to you.  Because it’s the advice that I wish, so so much, that someone had shared with me.

Someday in the not so distant future, something will happen.  Perhaps you will feel out of sorts, like you don’t belong (*and in that case, refer back to Anne with an E, two posts ago).  Perhaps someone will hurt you in a way you couldn’t imagine, say words that don’t feel right.  Maybe, like what happened with me so many many years ago, you will feel emotionally abandoned, let down, and it will feel SO bad that you will do ANYTHING to stop it.  You will do anything just to belong.  

That ache? That’s the Hot Loneliness.  And it will feel as though you are the only one who has to carry around this weight inside of you.  

Except that everyone actually has it.  Everyone has pain.  It’s part of this thing we call being human.

The super duper tricky part here though, my darling girl, is what you actually do with that Hot Loneliness.

Most people you will come across in your life, myself included until very recently, will run from the pain by any means necessary.  Booze.  Drugs.  Shopping.  Gambling.  Endless Scrolling.  Endless Swiping left and right, looking for dates and warm bodies to distract from the pain.  

Or if you’re me, in an effort to stop feeling your own Hot Loneliness, in an effort to belong, you will take on the pain of others.  “Here, let me take that from you, if only you’ll keep me company.  I’ll take your Hot Loneliness if you’ll solve mine for a fleeting moment or two.  Let me belong to you.” Except…except this has led to nothing but trouble, believe you me.  It has led to hurt after hurt after temporary distraction from my own Hot Loneliness after hurt and hurt again.  And while it is nothing to be ashamed of, because almost everyone you will meet will do this at some point or other, it is not the journey of the warrior.

In fact, as a wise Mara Glatzel has often told me, not only is it not solving anyone’s Hot Loneliness, but now it’s a Hot Potato situation.

Remember that game, “hot potato pass it on” and you pass and you pass and whoever gets the potato is out? Whoever gets the potato loses?  Welllll…it’s exactly the same.  Because as I’ve come to learn, taking on other people’s Hot Loneliness doesn’t get rid of mine, nor does it solve theirs.  And then everyone is still hurting, (because the absolute only way to deal with Hot Loneliness is to sit with it yourself) except now I’m left dealing with the aftermath of holding onto all the hot potatoes, too.  

But there is an infinitely better way.  And since it’s taken me 38 years and a lot of broken relationships to realize, I’ll share it here:

Sit with it.  The Hot Loneliness will not kill you, even though it feels as though it might.  But all those other things? They could.  And they will never actually help.

So sit with that pain, that heartache that hurts so bad that it feels as though you’re going to explode.  Sit.  Breathe.  Cry if you need to.  Then shake it out. And I promise you, you won’t.  You won’t explode.  And you will, with time, feel something that Pema Chodron calls the “cool loneliness”, which feels like this dull little twinge. 

I like to think of it as a scar that reminds you of this incredible miraculous brave journey that you’ve just taken.  The Journey of the Warrior.  I couldn’t imagine a more worthy scar than that.

And, the even more incredible part? Once you sit with your Hot Loneliness, once you sit with your own pain? You won’t want to take on anyone else’s anymore.  You will, however, be able to do something so much more important: you’ll be able to witness their pain.  Hold space for them.  Hold their hand.  You won’t run and it won’t scare you, because you know that they’re on a warrior’s journey, too.

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On Losing Love

“Grief is love’s souvenir. It’s our proof that we once loved. Grief is the receipt we wave in the air that says to the world: Look! Love was once mine. I love well. Here is my proof that I paid the price.”- -Glennon Doyle 

“Grief is love’s souvenir.” My darling wee girl, while part of me hopes that you never have to wave the receipt of grief in the air, hopes against hope that everything and everyone that you love will magically stay with you, always…another part of me knows that this is not possible no matter how hard I hope it might be.

And so, I wish for you instead that you will carry grief proudly, a symbol of loving hard, loving deeply, loving courageously with your whole heart.

And celebrate this love, whether it is fleeting or enduring.  

Living a life with an open heart is the biggest and most important gift we can give to ourselves. Loving bravely and boldly is the most important thing of all, because, as I’m sure you already know, “love wins. Love always wins” (Mitch Album).

I don’t want you to think back through your life and wonder why you were afraid to love. Afraid to hold love’s hand and dance, if only for a brief few moments. Afraid to open your heart to another, whether for the first or fifteenth or fiftieth time.

I want you to wave grief high up in the sky and say “look how deeply I loved. How deeply I still love, even and especially after all that I have already loved and lost in my life.”

The sun will keep shining. I promise you. The flowers will keep blooming because the rain that comes with grief makes it that much more possible for them to bloom even brighter.

And the stars? The stars will still take your breath away, as you wonder at the miracle that has happened: and even after all that, after every single thing that happened to you in your life, you were still able to take a leap when your heart said yes. And even if your heart never says yes to anyone else again for the rest of your life (although I believe this to be exceptionally unlikely), you can still hold your heart and your head up high and say “I listened when my heart said yes. I loved bravely and boldly even when everything in my body was so scared. I listened when my heart said yes”.  

Because that brave act of listening to your heart always, always makes all the difference.  And then, in the midst of grief, you can say to yourself these comforting words: at least I tried.  And knowing those words will give you the courage to try again the next time your heart says yes.

Because Love Wins, dearest girl. 

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Anne with an E

There is a bit of Anne (with an “E”) in all of us.  A feisty, opinionated, independent young soul who doesn’t want to conform but desperately wants to belong. – from the Anne of Green Gables DVD box set insert 

My dearest wee bee,

I could just leave that thought up there for you (and all) to ponder and wonder and think over, because it is so particularly perfect in how it sums us up, as humans.

When we arrived at our sweet little cottage, in Cavendish, PEI, mere moments away from Green Gables National Park, and I ripped off the plastic wrapping on our Anne DVD boxed set, I would never have guessed that that sentence would have even been included within all the facts and figures and plot lines that are explored in the little DVD booklet.

But there it was, staring right back at me, in all capital letters, as if to say: yes, you’re not alone in this struggle.  You’re not alone in wanting to belong.

This feeling of being on the outside, looking in, has haunted me for as long as I can remember.  In fact, it’s even more than that.  Because this feeling has led me to twist and turn and contort not only my physical body, but also my core beliefs…really, the core of who I am, deep down in my soul.

I know I’m not alone in this.  I know there are times in our lives when we have all said to ourselves: “well Self, this really really  isn’t who I am, but it couldn’t hurt and it just might help because this feeling of not belonging is just awful and maybe, just maybe, if I go along with ______ (fill in the blank with whatever the cool kids are doing) someone will let me in, someone will feel like I can belong.”

And if we’re sharing lists of what we’ve done in an effort to try to belong, believe you me, my wee bee, I’ve done plenty (not every single possible thing, but plenty).  There is no need to feel shame about those things we do in an effort to belong with the crowd, because almost everyone has done something at some point that didn’t feel really really good or even remotely on track with who they are.

But…these things we do? Each one is like a trespass against our souls.  And while I have found it easy to forgive those for whom I trespassed against myself, I am still learning how to forgive myself, because while those other folks (the cool kids, the romantic partners, the not quite friends) didn’t know that I wasn’t doing what felt right to me, the truth is that I feel as though I ought to have known better. 

And yet…I’m realizing that it’s a vicious cycle, because each time we turn away from who we are, it becomes harder and harder to remember who exactly we are in the first place.  And then, when a situation comes up, it’s hard to say if it rings true with us because who we really are feels lost in the shuffle, even hurt beyond recognition.

And yet…somewhere deep down there is a voice (Noni calls it my Magnum P.I. voice– one day you’ll know what that is) that is hiding underneath all of the wreckage, all of the trauma from trespassing against ourselves, and it says: Yes, please…dance to the bagpipe ceilidh music in your kitchen.  Yes, please…sleep with seventeen different crystals under your pillow.  Yes, please…reread all of the Anne of Green Gables books as many times as necessary to give you inspiration and imagination for the journey ahead.  

Because the deeper truth, my wee girl, is that while twisting and turning and contorting ourselves in an effort to belong to others will never ever in a million trillion years work, the one person to whom you will always no matter what belong to is yourself.  

And once you realize that, you’ll realize that no matter where you go or what you do, as long as you stick with what feels right to you, you’ll always be home, even if you’re halfway across the country visiting Anne of Green Gables on Prince Edward Island…you’re still, somehow, home.  Because you belong to you.

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When in doubt, Love

“Love Wins”– many a wise person

My darling wee girl,

When not one but two dear friends ask you how the writing is going and you realize you haven’t written anything in a good long time, in spite of the fact that writing is a significant and driving passion in your life, it makes you wonder: why?

Why haven’t I written? Why haven’t I shared? 

Sometimes the powerful forces at work in our lives take up so much energy and time and solid effort that the idea of writing about this magical and miraculous process takes a back seat.  Occasionally, it takes a back seat so far away that it is in a different car, in a different city entirely.

And while it pains me to write this, there has been so much change that I forgot about the writing.  Forgot about writing my love letters to you, my dear beauty, because I’ve been deep down in the trenches of soul shaking work.  Or maybe it’s Soul Reclaiming work, because, as Simon and Garfunkel sing, “after changes upon changes we are more or less the same.”  And I feel as though I am finally, finally, finally back to the girl I have always been, finally making my way back to the girl who’s been there waiting, all along. 

And now, as I climb my way up the glittery pink ladder out of those trenches, that I’ve built with my own two hands, I can tell you this:

When in doubt, Love.

You see, my wee bee, it is precisely when you doubt that you need to turn towards Love.

Fear thrives in those places where love has been forgotten.  It hides in the dark and shameful and painful corners, not just in the world but even and most especially in ourselves.

Fear, in whatever form it takes (coming from your own self or those around you), has this incredibly insidious and nasty nasty way of making us feel like we NEED to control ALL the things, immediately and forever more.  But this just breeds more and more and more fear, because if I am the one in control and I have no clue what I’m doing, how can I be trusted?

When others are mean, when they bully, when their words threaten to pull you back into those fearfilled places, when they make you doubt…Just Love.  Meet them in the middle, send them love, and keep on dancing.

And just as importantly, when your own fear and doubt creep in, turn towards Love.  Surrender to it, to the very deep truth that when we trust in Love, when we trust that we are deeply, deeply loved by the universe (creator, God, or whomever or whatever you choose to believe in), everything will work out exactly as it is meant to be.  When we hand over the reins to trusting in Love, in this greater power that is taking care of us, then fear has this incredible way of slipping away as it is no longer necessary, because we know, deep deep inside, that every little thing will be alright.  Or even better than ok.

When in doubt, Love.

Because, my dear Zoe, love always wins.

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On Hope in an Uncertain World

I wish I could make you feel as strong and as loved as you are. You’ll find your way, because of that, and because you have the thing that so often wavered in me. You have faith. Not in God necessarily, but in the thing with feathers. You are brightness, Bee. You are hope. No matter how far down you get, you’ll always have it.- Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares

My darling wee girl,

This world we live in is an uncertain place.  Just when we think that we have everything we’d ever hoped or dreamed of within our reach, it can be taken from us, in what might feel like an instant.  Life changes.  Friends change and move away, or back home.  Seasons spin around and around.  We grow older, and sometimes wiser.  Love is lost and then found and then, maybe lost, again.

For most if not all of my life, I have wished that there was something certain with which to anchor myself.  Something to hold onto, when life gets rocky (which it inevitably will- if there are any guarantees in this world, it is that things will shift and change and spin, sometimes seemingly out of control).  And in all of those years and years of searching and wishing and hoping for something to cling to, I wasn’t able to find anything except a pattern of reasons to fear the future because all I could sift out was that bad things seem to happen to me.  All I could see, when I examined life, was hurt and pain and trauma– not just in my own life but in the lives of those around me and the within the world itself.  I began to expect that the world was full of hurt, instead of full of hope.  Even writing this is painful because it is a truly horrible way to go about being in the world: to be fearful, scared, afraid.

I think, if I’m being perfectly honest here (which I can be with you, my darling girl)…I think that it is so much easier to believe in the bad instead of the good.  It is so much easier to become cynical, or jaded, or scared.  But the world doesn’t want us to live small and afraid.

The world wants us to ride the waves, the dips, the valleys…and then rise up, dancing.

The world wants us to look for the sun behind the clouds and the rain, splashing in puddles with extra tall boots as we go.

And so, to prove this very point, the world gives us spring.  The world gives us seeds to plant, never knowing if they will grow.  (In fact, as we used to sing at Camp Allsaw: the healthiest way to gamble is with a spade and a handful of garden seeds- oh yes indeed!).

I would argue, dear Zoe, that whether or not the seeds grow is not the point.  The point is to go out into the world, in all of its uncertainty, year after year after year and say:

Look at me, world!  And even after all that has happened, I am planting seeds, again.

And even after all that has happened, I have Hope.

Hope doesn’t come from harvesting an incredibly abundant harvest, year after year.

Hope comes from planting a million seeds and having one or two or three or even none grow, and trusting that next year, one or two or three more will grow if I plant again.  And then planting, again.  Over and over and over.

In an uncertain world, the only thing we can be certain of is Hope.  Trust that the world is taking such good care of you, if only you will let it.  And while anything in life could possibly be fleeting, if you have Hope…you really and truly have everything that you might ever need.

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