liebster-award (1)

Liebster Award.

Hey there, friends.

You know what, I have always loved to write. For as long as I can remember it has been a part of my existence. But, it wasn’t until I took the leap and started blogging that I really recognized it:

The depth of community and connection and togetherness that can grow from the roots of our words and voices and sharing with one another.

And it has been more inspiring and marvelous than I’d ever imagined. I was so honored last week when one of my pieces was selected as an Editor’s Pick on WordPress Discover, and having so many people reach out to me with their thoughts and perspectives has made my heart grow three sizes.

I was further humbled when Meg from Particle Woman nominated me for a Liebster Award. Thank you, Meg. This recognition was like a big ol’ virtual bear hug and I am so very grateful for it!

As a relative newbie to the blogiverse I was unfamiliar with the Liebster Award. So, for any of you out there that could also use a quick crash course, here goes:

My favorite blogger.

1. Thank the person who nominated you, and link back to them
2. List these rules somewhere in your post
3. Name your favorite blog (that is not your own) with a short description
4. Answer the questions given to you by the person who nominated you
5. Nominate 5-11 bloggers for this lovely award, who have fewer than 200 subscribers
6. List 11 Random Facts about yourself
7. List 11 questions for your nominees to answer on their posts
8. Let your nominees know you nominated them

My favorite blogger. (6)

Hmmmmm. This is a seriously tough one, you guys. There are so many wonderful spaces on the interwebs to laugh and ponder and connect and be inspired, it is difficult to choose just one. But, as of late, I’ve been keeping a close eye on You Are In This World which follows the life of Cindy, a beloved mother and grandmother and friend and fellow human being who has battled with schizophrenia since her early 20s.

The story is told from the perspective of her daughter, Emily, who started this passion project as an opportunity to share her mom’s beauty and to show that suffering does not mean less important. She chronicles the hard and the beautiful and the gut-wrenching with a rawness and grace that I greatly admire. Thank you, Emily, for giving us a window into this illness and, most importantly, honoring your mom with such kindness and love.

My favorite blogger. (2)

1. How long have you been writing?
Writing has always been a love of mine. And, I had the good fortune of crossing paths with a professor named Gary Eller during college who ignited my interest in creative writing and storytelling. As for blogging, I just launched this little space about a month ago. So, *ahem* as a 40-something perhaps this categorizes me as way outside the bounds of fashionably late to the blogging party, but hey, today is the best and ONLY day we get so, onward, friends… Happy to be here with you all. ūüôā

2. What makes your house feel like home?
Absolutely and without question it is my tribe. My main guy and these four wild and funny and caring humans we created together and our big muppet and favorite goldendoodle, Sidney. The noises. The hugs. The frustration in one moment and forgiving in the next. The impromptu dance parties. The deep conversations around the kitchen island. The s’mores consumed around our firepit. The snuggles under soft blankies during movie night. The chaos. The living. Home to me is the people and the music of every moment strung together to make the most beautiful sonnet.

3. What is one misconception people have about you?
I think my outgoing exterior makes most people surprised to learn that I’m really pretty introverted. I adore deep conversation on the back patio or tucked in the corner of a restaurant, but I would do just about ANYTHING (seriously) to avoid small talk. Networking is not on my list of favorite things. I love my people fiercely but also crave alone time and space for quiet reflection. I don’t need an active social calendar to be happy. In fact, very little tops a quiet evening at home with my family.

4. What was a favorite toy of yours as a child?
Barbies and my Snoopy Snowcone Maker. Hands down. And a close third would probably be my imagination. There was an open spot tucked in the shrubs out front of my early childhood home that I affectionately called my castle in the rocks. I spent hours in that little space weaving extravagant stories and plotlines with my talented cast of make-believe friends.

5 . What is your earliest memory, and how old were you?
I am definitely not taking home any trophies for my memory, you guys. I’m that one. You know the one. The person in the story circle who generally follows the do-you-remember-whens with the sorry-nope-I’ve-got-nothings. Sadly, my mom did not hand me down her steel trap mind.

But, I do have a few vivid memories that pass by my brain occasionally to say hello. One that stands out is the moment I rode my bike without training wheels for the first time. I was across the street from our house and determined to do it all by myself because, headstrong. It was on that sidewalk that I found my center for the first time. And it was exhilarating.

6. What pets do you have, if any?
We have the most intelligent and gentle and patient eight-year-old goldendoodle named Sidney and she has totally ruined us to all other furry family members forever. Here she is judging a pretty serious hula-hooping competition between two of her brothers.

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7. Name a favorite of each: book, movie, tv show
I’ve enjoyed many books but one that has probably had the most profound impact on how I interact and engage with my existence is The Power of Now, by Eckhart Tolle. I first read it during a season in life that felt heavy and dark and just, hard. Perhaps you have found yourself in this season at some point, too. It helped me ground myself in the present moment and appreciate deeply that suffering can only exist in the past or future, not in this moment. This was life-changing.

If my husband could change something about me, he would FOR SURE make me a film buff as opposed to a marginally interested moviegoer. *wink* That said, I do love a great storyline and when paired with the right crew a film can be magic. One of my favorites is an unassuming film called About Time. I went in with no expectations and came away so pleasantly surprised by the story and characters.

Beyond copious amounts of cartoons and children’s programs, I honestly don’t watch much television. But, I’d go with Brain Games, So You Think You Can Dance, and The Goldbergs, because they are entertaining (we watch as a family) and also happen to be the only three shows that I catch with any degree of regularity.

8. Name a //least// favorite of each: book, movie, tv show
Book = My freshman Biology 101 textbook. Thank you for making it abundantly clear that I wasn’t designed for the sciences. Movie/TV = Anything violent. I’m a lover not a fighter.

9. Where/when would you travel first if you were a companion to The Doctor on the T.A.R.D.I.S.?
If nothing was off limits, I would love to go waaaaaaay back to the beginning and observe how our universe came into being. That would be kinda cool, huh? And if I could barter for a bonus trip I’d love to swing by the 1950s to meet my grandparents and see my mom and dad in their childhood.

10. What instruments, if any, do you play (or would like to play), and why did you choose it/them?
I’ve played piano, french horn, trumpet, and (beginner) guitar. And I still play them beautifully, in my mind. Sadly, it seems I have found my way to I-used-to-play purgatory and I’m not a big fan of this place. I still enjoy knocking out a duet of Heart and Soul on the piano with my teenager every now and again.

11. What hobby have you never tried, but would like to?
I am an amateur iPhone photographer, but since this isn’t really a thing and I’m *pretty sure* this doesn’t count I would definitely love to invest in a quality camera and learn the ways of photography. Capturing life’s moments brings me great joy.

My favorite blogger. (3)

Drumroll please…….
In the few months since becoming actively engaged in the blogiverse, I’ve stumbled onto some pretty fantastic spaces that have moved me in some way. Here are a few growing voices that I would be honored to recognize for this award:

1. Be Curious. Be Kind
2. All In This Together
3. Citymomco
4. Something’s Burning
5. Inspired New Horizons

My favorite blogger. (1)

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1. I don’t consider myself particularly romantic, but the first time I met my husband (the spring of our junior year in college) I knew almost instantly that I would marry him. Yea, kind of weird. Especially considering that up to this point I hadn’t dated all that much. We will celebrate 18 years of marriage this year and it just keeps getting better. He makes life fun. If living included nothing more than laughter, wouldn’t it be more than enough?

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2. These four people are the absolute loves of my life. I feel so lucky to be their Mom.

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3.  Ahhhhhhh. I’m convinced that hanging with Mother Nature can cure virtually any ailment. Especially the heart kind.

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4.
Here is the guy who first gifted me with the Mama badge. As you’ll note I still had him by a good inch or more in this photo. A month has passed and it is clear that my eyes will soon need to wander north to meet his. I love having a front row seat for his adventures.

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5.  The beach is my favorite place on the planet. The beach WITH my favorite people on the planet? C’mon now….

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6. This is my childhood tribe and I have immense gratitude for 30+ years of friendship with these women. They are strong and beautiful and HIL-AR-IOUS and I just adore that we still talk and see each other regularly.

7. I miss my college girlfriends and wish we could steal away to a private island for a month to just laugh and catch up on life.

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7. Here is my baby girl with her very favorite person. I just want to hold her little face in my hands and say, Don’t forget, little one, this…THIS HERE…is what love should feel like. Never accept anything less.

8. I’d love to write a children’s series inspired by my kids.

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9. When you are summoned to a water balloon fight by your people ALWAYS AND FOREVER GO ALL IN, YOU GUYS.

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10.
Here are my two middle dudes on the last day of school doing precisely what feels good and true and right for their souls. They are joy to me. My almost seven-year-old started wearing dresses whenever he felt like it this year. When others teased or questioned his response was steady: “Why did you decide to wear that shirt/color today? Because you like it. And I like what I like, too. Just like you.” Read that again, friends. Only this time, apply it to virtually ANYTHING ELSE in life. Notice how it still rings true. If we can’t be our authentic selves, then who CAN we be? A second-rate and unfulfilled and joyless version of what someone else believes we should be? Appreciate the offer but no thank you.

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11. I want nothing more than kindness as the legacy of my existence in this world.

My favorite blogger. (4)

1. Who do you love and what are you doing about it?
2. What is the very first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?
3. If you could teach anything to someone, what would you teach?
4. What can you not live without?
5. What is the best thing that has happened to you recently?
6. Describe your perfect day.
7. What situations make you feel most creative? How about most stifled?
8. If you could live anywhere for a year, where would you choose?
9. What are two things you consider yourself to be very good at?
10. What ALWAYS makes you smile?
11. If there was a movie written about the story of your life, what would the title be?

This was fun. Thanks for taking a moment to read it, friend. I’m linking arms with you and grateful to be part of this community. ūüôā

Cheers,

JJ

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Why I’m raising soft kids.

Life, recently.

Sweet mother of all that is holy and good, you guys, my heart has been so weary.

It feels like my skin is flipped inside out and I’m staring wide-eyed directly into the blazing hot sun during hurricane-grade winds that just will not let up. So many of our brothers and sisters are hurting. Deeply hurting. And it’s making everything feel so raw and rough and threatening. The dark moments have blurred into one endless teardrop and we are sad and scared.

Here is my recall on recent days in a series of brutal soundbites:

A four-year-old boy slips away from his parents at the zoo. Perhaps you know this feeling, too. If you don’t, allow me to humbly confirm that it is excruciating. In the moments to follow, this little explorer makes his way into a cage where he meets eyeball-to-eyeball with silverback gorillas. Can you even imagine it.¬†The eldest gorilla, Harambe, is shot dead by zoo staff to ensure the child’s safety. The boy is returned to his parents with only scrapes and bruises. Thank you, God.¬†Social media explodes. We’re outraged that the gorilla couldn’t be saved. We argue about whether the zoo staff is competent to do their jobs. We are critical of the parents for being so careless and terrible at life. We blame the zoo for faulty cages. We form strong positions on how WE would have managed these circumstances if the shoe were on the other foot, and when people don’t agree with us we simply scream louder. And, with all the noise we sort of forget about this little boy and his parents who just experienced something horrific and were no doubt crippled with an intense and unimaginable fear as this situation unfolded.

A college student rapes an unconscious young woman behind a dumpster. He is tried in court by a judge who offers terribly misguided empathy in the form of an abysmally short jail sentence. Social media explodes. We’re outraged that the judge went so easy on this criminal. We hate this rapist. We despise this rapist’s family. We spend a good deal of time discussing his picture¬†and swimming career and passion for the culinary arts and his failing appetite. We toss around some memes because they have taken over the space where nervous laughter and awkward silence use to exist.¬†We argue about whether we should use the term assault or rape. Attempts are made to shine a¬†light on this victim and the brave young men that contacted the police. But, then more darkness strikes and we sort of forget about this girl who was left¬†wounded and vulnerable and no doubt crippled with an intense and unimaginable fear in the wake of the attack.

A talented musician is shot dead after a live show. We are shocked and sad but only for about a minute because the evil that hits next sends us directly to our knees and we sort of forget about this beautiful soul taken from earth much too soon.

Friends and lovers are dancing and enjoying life at their favorite nightclub when a man opens fire, spraying bullets into the crowd. People run for exits. People collapse into pools of blood. People are trapped in small spaces. People desperately text loved ones but then the messages just stop coming. Can you even imagine the receiving and then the waiting.¬†There is panic and screaming and helping and rescuing and sacrificing. The murderer is shot dead by police. Forty-nine people are dead. Many more are injured. The worst mass shooting in our country, ever. In an instant, everything is changed forever. Social media explodes. We’re angry about loose gun laws. We’re angry that people want to take our guns away. We argue about guns. We yell about mental health. We blame Muslims. We blame terrorists. We blame gay people. We blame the¬†government. We blame the POTUS. We’re scared for our children. We’re scared for us. We’re scared for ME and MY CHILDREN. It maybe becomes more about protecting ourselves than we might be willing to admit. And while we’re shouting at each other we sort of forget that forty-nine funerals are being planned. Fifty if you include the young musician that we’ve already forgotten about.

A family is vacationing at the most magical place on earth. Millions of families have visited this very spot. But on this night at this time, while wading in shallow water by the resort, their toddler is attacked by an alligator and they watch on in desperation as this giant reptile drags their son out into dark water. Can you even imagine it. Police recover the child’s tiny, lifeless body. Social media explodes. We write more articles about perfect parenting. We write more articles about empathy. We blame the hotel for faulty signage. We blame the parents for being just the worst ever. While we are distracted with tidying up our glass houses we sort of forget that SOMEONE’S BABY WAS JUST KILLED BY AN ALLIGATOR.

And, you guys, how¬†about the many among us who are quietly mourning life’s hardest moments from somewhere off camera, tucked away from social spaces? The five-year-old girl who just lost her battle with cancer. The mother who is saying goodbye to her transgender son who committed suicide because the bullying left him feeling absolutely¬†unworthy. The blissfully-in-love young couple whose vehicle is struck head on by a drunk driver, instantly erasing their plans for a beautiful future together.

The hurting is always there, with or without our yelling and blaming and anger and righteousness. Isn’t it?

And all of these hateful and ugly things are making people frustrated and defensive and scared. And I absolutely get it. I’m frustrated, too. It is frustrating that we use up precious real estate yelling at each other. Space where love could live. And all of our finger-pointing and asking for our problems to be solved outside of ourselves leaves me feeling discouraged. Because the only difference we can ever really truly make is an inside job. I’m frustrated by our unwavering desire to be right. How can we possibly HEAR anything over all of our rightness? I’m concerned by how much we allow fear to lead us. A lot concerned, actually. It’s disheartening that humans all over our world are still regularly persecuted for attempting to be their authentic selves. There is so much hurting, everywhere. I’m frustrated that privilege is still power and it continues to make parts of us feel less than.

But, honestly, our frustrations aren’t helpful unless they motivate us to actually HELP. Right? And our choices are so important. Like many of you, I am acutely aware of how my reactions to life impact my kid’s reactions. They see us. They hear us. They mirror us. What reflection do we want staring back at them, even (and¬†especially) when life feels unkind?

I recently read a sentiment that suggested we have “gone soft” as parents and this¬†has led to a generation of wholly ungrateful and undisciplined and disrespectful young people. Our young people. And while the message didn’t resonate with me, that’s okay (it is more than okay, actually). I’m grateful to this friend for sharing because it made me stop and think deeply about what I really want for my kids.¬†And it is this:

I want my kids to be soft. 

I do.

In a world full of rough edges and sharp corners, I want to raise humans who are gentle and kind.

When life is dark, I want them to always ALWAYS look for the light. And when fear’s grip tightens (which will happen because fear is a controlling a–hole), I want them to know that FEAR IS NEVER LIGHT. Ever. And this is the part where I hold their face in my hands and say, This is most important, baby. Please listen. Because fear is so convincing and it will take every ounce of their strength to remember in those hard moments that fear is never loving. Or kind. Or generous. Or compassionate. In fact, fear can’t survive in proximity to any of these things. When the world asks them to be scared and angry, I hope they are brave enough to lead relentlessly and unapologetically with love.

When they feel helpless and ready to toss up their hands to it all because they can’t do everything, I want them to remember that not everything¬†is never a better or more helpful choice than¬†at least something. And I hope the something they choose will be in support of WE not ME. And that they define WE as EVERY PART OF US. Because if their own comfort requires someone else to suffer, then that’s not really about us. That’s ego, and he is tooootally self-centered. And saying no to ego will be one of their most challenging life lessons. Because what could be more tempting than ensuring life feels great for ME and conveniently forgetting that all of those people over there are actually part of the very same humankind? Sweet child(ren) o’ mine, please BE HUMAN KIND.

I want them to know that life is mostly (read: completely) defined by our reaction to it. And this is a biggie, right guys? I mean, if we could band together and train up a giant flock of kind champions who also have the awareness needed to question their thinking and reaction to life, doesn’t that seem like some serious parenting triumph??

I want them to not only imagine what we would be capable of TOGETHER if we listened more than we defended, reached out more than we pushed away, celebrated our unique viewpoints more than we insulted our differences. I want them to DO and BE these things.

I want them to know that the path to peace is one paved with love. Love isn’t the solution. It’s how we get there.

The world needs our softness, kids.
Let’s do this thing.

Kind words can be short and easy to speak,

The love we cannot hear.

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^^ This cloud right here, you guys. ^^

She single-handedly brought me back to center yesterday. And I desperately needed it. My thoughts were reeling and I felt a bit unraveled and in need of a good head clearing so I opted to use a lifeline. 

I’d like to phone my friend, Mother Nature, please.

I collapsed into a chair on the back patio and that cloud and I just sat there together. Silently. Well, her silently. Me with relentless and wholly unproductive brain chatter about things like saving the world and being the change and raising kids who aren’t a–holes, and such. You know, small stuff. And as I welcomed more air into my lungs and admired her moving and shifting and melting into the seams of the cobalt sky, I felt a renewed sense of purpose and determination and calm sink deeply into my troubled heart.

Ahhhh, yes. Thank you. I waved at my new friend as she disappeared from view and before standing to get on with my day I took a moment to quietly affirm the one-and-only thing that I am absolutely certain of in life.

We’ll get back to that in a sec.

You see, I want to always notice and honor the good and the kind and the loving. Silver linings are my go-to and eternal optimism is my thing and yes of course I believe in unicorns and when asked to rate my day on a scale of MEH¬†to AMAZING¬†I am the Pollyanna that will always and forever swing for the fences because I am alive. And if you’re reading this *quick¬†fist bump* because that means you are, too. My eyes opened this morning and I’m breathing air and I get to experience this day and seize these moments. Yes, even the hard ones.¬†And I def-in-it-ely fall down and feel exposed and unsure and just ovvvver it sometimes. I believe in unicorns and f-bombs equally. *wink* But, I get to be here. WE GET TO BE HERE. And it is miraculous. Isn’t it?

It is everything and it is enough.

But then, there is all of this other noisy, human-y stuff. You know what I mean? And I am not immune (like at all, folks) to the ugly parts of our existence. The ways we speak to one another without listening and sling wasp nests full of words that sting at anyone and anything that dares to threaten our rightness. How parts of us wear privilege like a suit of armor and a birthright and somehow this has proven over and over AND OVER to actually be a legitimate way to make others feel less than. WHY IS THIS A REAL THING? And the ways we protect and justify this righteousness.

Ugggggggh.

How we READY >> FIRE >> AIM at each other with our thoughts and words and actions from behind tinted windows and then wag our finger and demand that the blame belongs OVER THERE. How we offer an objective lens toward data until and only until the facts no longer defend what we believe to be true. And then all bets are off (hey,¬†memes and reckless insults, that’s your cue).

Our anger is so noisy and overwhelming that we forget why we are here.

We forget what matters.

We forget to lead with love.

Because for every ounce of beauty that exists in our world (and especially in our virtual communities), we create and consume five gallons of ugly. Don’t we? And on this day, I had just seen too much. The overtly wretched that allows one human to assault another and leave her engulfed in flames as he saunters away with nothing but ashes on his swim trunks.

TOO MUCH.

And the easilytucked-away reality that many of our fellow humans are hurting and desperate and alone and wounded AT THIS VERY MOMENT and, yet, we find ourselves angry and screaming at each other.¬†While people all around our world are vulnerable and afraid and silenced. We attack each other with our fears and anger and need for rightness as though to say, we’ll see your¬†hateful ways and raise you our vitriol. And all of our screaming makes it impossible to HEAR anything. And our tinted windows make it impossible to SEE anything.

Almost every time I read a comments thread a little piece of my soul dies. And I feel helpless to it. All the ugliness.

Perhaps you do, too?

But as I sat there with that cloud, you guys, the stillness and space allowed me to remember what my angry and unsettled mind just couldn’t.

We simply cannot drive out ugliness with more of the same.

Hate in response to hate is a losing game.

Let’s not waste another second allowing anger to guide us, friends. Let’s stop screaming so we can hear what kindness is trying to tell us from underneath all of that noise.

Let’s instead invest every ounce of our collective energy into linking arms with one another and EVERY HUMAN who has been made to feel vulnerable and broken and less than.

Let’s BE kind humans.
Let’s RAISE kind humans.
Let’s CELEBRATE kind humans.

Let’s love one another.

 

XO

JJ

 

I think we all have empathy.

Empathy is easy. Until it’s hard.

It’s been two years. Almost to the day, actually.

My second guy was 8 years old at the time and we were on our biennial trek to bask in the glow of that adorable talking mouse and his magnificent tribe. It was our day at Magic Kingdom and in typical Disney fashion the crowds were akin to 4am at Walmart on Black Friday. Just obscene. And not particularly ideal for us introverts, guys, but obviously Tinkerbell sprinkles the joint with feel-good-fairy-dust and her spell makes me blinded to even the most absurd congestion. I mean, a 90-minute wait for a 30-second ride seems perfectly reasonable, right? Ahem.

As per usual we had sufficiently over-indulged on everything the kingdom could serve up and when the sun began to dip low in the sky our crew, and 98,000 of our closest friends, migrated instinctively towards Cinderella’s Castle for what was sure to be the most beautiful fireworks display at the ball. We were staking our territory (read: 2-foot square of concrete) for the big show when it hit me suddenly like a hot brick to the face.

Oh, Jesus. Where is Brennan.
He was just here, right? Right?!
HE WAS RIGHT HERE.
Or, wait. Was he?
When did I last see him?
Didn’t we get off that ride together?
Wasn’t he behind me?

I blamed my older son for not staying by him.
I blamed my younger two kids for needing so much attention.
I blamed the crowd for making it hard to see or move quickly in any direction.
I blamed my husband for, everything.
And then I stopped blaming and I cried.

WHERE IS MY BABY.

The next ten minutes shifted into slow motion and thrust me into the most desperate of places. As I looked out across that sea of unknown faces and bodies all swarming mercilessly, I wanted to scream out EVERY SINGLE ONE OF YOU NEEDS TO MOOOOOVE SO I CAN FIND MY BRENNAN.

I came unhinged.

Was he safe?
Was he crying out for me?
Was he scared?
Sad?
Confused?
Alone?
Standing still?
Running?
Did he think I left him on purpose?
Did we have a plan in case we got split up? Oh my god we didn’t have a plan.

WHY DIDN’T WE HAVE A FUCKING PLAN FOR THIS.

And then the darkest of thoughts came rushing into my mind like snipers and in seconds they annihilated any shred of hope that was clinging to my heart.

What if he is hurt.
What if he is in the arms of a predator.
What if we don’t find him.
What if I never see his sweet face again.

WHAT IF I LOST MY CHILD FOREVER.

The what-ifs grabbed me by the throat and tightened their grip until I was left gasping for air. I hadn’t watched closely enough. I took my eyes off of him and in a moment he was gone from my side. I let my child down. I had failed as a parent.¬†These thoughts strangled me until I could no longer see straight.

The parade would start in a few minutes and after that we’d be trapped on this island between the castle and the rest of the park. The streetlights began to dim in preparation for the show and darkness swallowed our view in every direction. We decided to split up and without words or a plan we moved in opposite directions frantically calling Brennan’s name into the night sky. I pleaded silently with the universe to give me another chance. I told her IF YOU DO THIS FOR ME I WILL NEVER AGAIN TAKE MY EYES OFF OF HIM.

With tear-stained cheeks and a rapidly beating heart in my throat I set off down a path feeling helpless but relentlessly determined. Just then as I looked up a group of people parted and in the space between, there he stood. My baby. Our eyes met and I don’t have much recall on those next moments, but I do know this: When he was finally wrapped in my arms again I instantly felt whole. Vulnerable and imperfect, but whole and OH MY LORD SO RELIEVED and just incredibly grateful.

Here is the part that has really stuck with me, though, you guys. In one of my lowest and most vulnerable moments as a parent and human I wondered WHY ME. Why MY child?! As though the pain would somehow be easier if it weren’t my own. As though the burden of that struggle would feel better if it just went somewhere else. ANYWHERE BUT HERE. ¬†That is hard to write and even harder to admit. But then, when we create enough space to be brutally honest with ourselves we know that empathy is easy, until it’s hard.

Right?

Until it’s someone ELSE’S mistake. Until it is HER vulnerability and imperfection when she fumbles¬†and takes her eyes off of that child for a minute and suddenly a knee is scraped or an eye is bruised or he slips away at the park or the mall or the grocery store or the zoo or the amusement park or for-god’s-sake from her own backyard. OR ANYWHERE. ANYTIME. Despite everything. And when we can distance ourselves from that discomfort it makes our rightness feel HUGE and that other person’s vulnerability small and insignificant. Maybe? It becomes so simple to say: DO BETTER. Instead of saying: I AM THERE WITH YOU AND I UNDERSTAND.

It could have been anyone’s child that went missing at Magic Kingdom on that day in June two years ago. But it was mine. And when it is HER turn for hard moments, or HIS, or YOURS, they are really mine, too. Ours. Aren’t they?

Because we are all imperfect. And vulnerable. And we all fumble and yearn for understanding from others. And empathy connects us. Right? It weaves together our hard moments and creates a safety net for us to land on when we stumble and fall. It reminds us that we are NEVER alone.

It says: I see your struggle, friend. I’m with you. And I understand.

Today, let’s be courageous enough to question our rightness and judgments and, instead, let’s offer this gift of understanding to one another. Even (and especially) when it’s hard.

XO

JJ