Viewing entries tagged
hug

Love and Be Loved

Angel of Love and Healing Light

I spent Friday morning working some Christmas magic for a friend of mine. She needed some magic. The truth is that I needed the magic too. As busy as I've been and as overwhelmed as I was feeling, I jumped off my crazy train and opened up to the possibility of making space to do something nice for someone. It was food for my soul.

So, afterward my fellow elves and I went out to lunch. We sat at a table across from a gigantic TV screen. I saw "BREAKING NEWS" flash along the bottom of the screen and didn't think much of it. All news seems to be BREAKING these days. I try to avoid the news. My eyes kept moving back to the screen.

I saw the story. I couldn't believe what I saw. Parents holding each other tightly. Panicked, grief-stricken faces. 20 children confirmed dead. Soon, tears were streaming down my face. We asked our server to change the channel.

After lunch I picked my daughter up from her pre-school. Then, my first grade son from his elementary school. The three of us headed home and waited for my fifth grade son to get off the bus. We drove home. I decided to check Facebook while my kids hopped around the kitchen - giggling over the multiple ways they found to torment each other after a long day apart. With each post I read my heart sank deeper into my chest. My oldest asked if they could watch a Christmas movie. I closed Facebook, thinking I might never go back. At least not for a few days. I scooped up my babies. We situated ourselves on the couch, weaving our arms and legs through each other's arms and legs until we were content in one tangled heap. I squeezed each of them. I wanted them close to me. We watched Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer. They stared at the screen, our Christmas tree lights twinkling as the sky darkened outside. I wondered how I could keep us all together, safe and warm, until the end of time. Once again, tears rolled down my face.

Like so many, I cannot even begin to wrap my head around the tragic deaths that took place on Friday. 20 babies will never again fall into a cuddly heap with their mothers or fathers, sisters or brothers. My heart joins the many hearts broken for the families who lost a loved one in Newtown, Connecticut.

What happened at Sandy Hook is unthinkable. The pain is unimaginable. Those parents are living every parent's worst nightmare. To lose a child - it's not natural.

When I see the list of names of the sweet little loves who lost their lives on Friday, it is the age that most of them share that makes my heart stop. So many of them were just six years old. I have a six year old. He is in first grade. He is curious. He is silly and spontaneous. He loves to joke around. He might be laughing one minute and screaming the next. When I look at him, I cannot bear the thought that so many families in Connecticut lost someone just like him - such a big life in that small body, and so full of love.

How can life just keep going after such a horrific loss? Where do we go from here?

A lot of people say we need stricter gun laws here in America. A lot of people think we need to provide better mental health care and services to those in need. I'm sure both are true.

Here is what else I'm thinking though... In order to go on, we need something bigger than stricter policies and better care. I keep thinking about my kids and how they might wake from a nightmare. They are scared. No matter what I do or say, they are essentially inconsolable until they feel safe, until they are wrapped in my arms.

It is time for us to wrap our arms around each other.

Trying to identify the meaning of such tragedy is a fruitless effort. We can make it mean something though. We can stop fighting. We can put our egos aside. We can open up to our similarities, our humanity, and to our lives on earth together, and decide that we're just not going to buy into the fear that makes us think guns can keep us safe anymore. The fear that keeps us glued to violent shows and video games, the fear that keeps our leaders arguing instead of working together, and the fear that makes us think there isn't something more - something bigger and better and truer - out there. Love is the opposite of fear. It is time to love and be loved. To treat every day like the day after a tragedy. We can be raw, vulnerable, and quick to comfort our friends in need. We can wrap our arms around each other. We can love and be loved.

We fill ourselves with so much negativity - the news, the net, the aisles at Costco. Our souls are on a processed food diet. What if, instead of spending 30 minutes watching the news and surfing the Internet, we did that for 10 minutes, and spent 20 minutes praying? Or just repeating the word: LOVE, love, love, LoVe... What if we were quick to forgive each other? What if we hugged more? What if we smiled at each other? What if we looked up from our smart phones and stared into our children's eyes instead? We would see love.

20 little bodies are no more, but those beautiful spirits live on. They are smiling, giggling, dancing in the heavens, and they are whispering in our ears, telling us that love is the answer. They are telling us to love big and hard and real. To love like a six year-old.

May those sweet souls rest in peace. May their loved ones find the strength to carry on. May we all find ways to open up to love and being loved. xo

Loud, Messy Family Love

tangles used: poke leaf, perfs, and lots of flowers and variations of crescent moon.


It's Mandala Monday at Heart Connected. Here is today's mandala...the template comes from Erin at Zendala Dare. I decided to try a little color this week. I love the stark contrast of black and white, the Zentangle standard, but I have some new pan pastels that I wanted to dig into. The tones of the colors are more muted than I expected. I am okay with that though. I almost ditched the thing at one point. I wasn't liking the way it looked. But I remembered... it is about the process and I just changed my direction. I cannot say enough how much I love the fact that tangling, the method used in my mandala, mimics life in that way - not loving it, don't ditch it, change direction.

Over the weekend I spent a night with my cousins and aunties and my mom and sister. It is a tradition - the gathering of the Secret Pals! It all started with a gift exchange, but now I think the gifts are just a cover for a night of crazy family fun.

Through my mandala making process, my wandering thoughts kept making their way back to family. 

I read this blog post today, by Glennon of Momastery. I really love her and her message. The gist of today's post was that the family we see, on Facebook or on a person's annual Christmas card, isn't the whole family. There is the family we see, and then the family that exists beyond the picture. The family that can be messy and loud and sad and angry and not always clean and smiling for the camera.

That loud and messy family is CERTAINLY my family, even though I do enjoy our annual photo shoot for our Christmas card. My husband and I figured out that the secret to getting our kids to smile all at once is to make fart noises. It works every time. It only took us about 8 years to figure out that little gem. He stands over my head making fart noises and I snap like crazy. I take a ton of pictures for the photo shoot and then we narrow it down to the one that says LOVE the loudest. It's hard to depict love, of course, but we can usually find one picture that captures the sparkle in each child's eye and the endearing look that says, "I love my dad. He makes the BEST fart noises!"

Shortly after I read Glennon's post, my mother-in-law called. She had seen a few pictures of my aunties and cousins and me on Facebook and said, "It looks like you had a good time this weekend!"

We were all smiles. I did have a good time with my cousins and aunties, my mom and my sister. We laugh a lot when we are together. It is lovely to spend that time with them and beautiful to capture our joy in being together on camera. It is fun to post the pictures on Facebook for the rest of our very large and spread all over the country family to see.

While we had fun and we are indeed smiling for the camera, and without a doubt, there is so much the camera can never capture. That's the stuff I kept thinking about today as I tangled within the bounds of my mandala. I kept coming back to the fact that in the near future my aunt will undergo a stem cell treatment. The fact that the oldest auntie, my Aunt Maryann, has already passed on and her absence is always obvious at our Secret Pal gatherings. And, of course, that my grandma, who was there when it all started, isn't with us either. That in the group of ten of us, we have experienced many, many losses, divorce, anger, lots of anger, heartbreak, devastation, tough times... all that loud and messy, sad and angry stuff that life is made of.

And yet, we smile. 

We have a great time. We laugh and we love each other, even though we are a loud mess sometimes. Okay, in my case anyway, we are a loud mess a lot of the time. 

Today, if you do these things, take a minute to look closely at the mandala... look closely at the round boundary of this circle, and consider it a warm, sweet hug around your neck. Feel the hug and know that whatever is happening in your life, whatever it is that the rest of us cannot see, it doesn't change the fact that you are loved. Loved like family.

Take care! xo