So, that last (somewhat melo-dramatic) post of mine? A p p a r e n t l y premature publication.
My designer told me my blog would be going offline last week while she sent her blogging fairies in to pack up All Of The Words and move them to their new home...but then a technical troll barrelled in and wreaked havoc. Sure, he may look cute, but it's a mean boy in a pink lambskin dress with pink Al Sharpton hair--all evidence he likes to stir up trouble. I didn't realize until yesterday that my site is now slated to go offline Monday.
Which is messin' with me something awful. The best laid plans of mice and men usually tells me who's the boss. Not as much me as I'd like it to be.
The planned outtage was perfect timing because I knew I was going to be on the road--
Last weekend I was in Nashville on the other side of the camera while Emily, Jessica and Angie filmed Bloom (in)courage book club videos for A Million Little Ways. This will be my third study as DaySpring's Bloom Book Club Coordinator and this already is my favorite study (which is saying A LOT because I loved Bread & Wine and bought a bunch of copies for gifts)! This book will give you new eyes to see yourself; I believe Emily speaks with great authority in A Million Little Ways because her message is God-inspired.
It's emboldening me in important ways.
The beauty of an online study is you participate at your own pace; we upload videos of the author and hosts discussing the chapters, I write posts to companion the videos, and since they're always online, you can view and read when it's convenient. If you've never taken part in one, pick up this book for under $10 at DaySpring (least expensive place I've seen to buy it) then plan to take part as we begin next week. I'd love to hear your voices chiming in in the comments. ~ smile ~ Click here and scroll through the posts to catch up.
Wonder is one of my favorite words because it is both action and object, a thing to do and a thing that is. When I was sifting potential taglines for my new blog, I couldn't shake the strong, increasing sense of wonder I feel. It's a curious thing, asking questions but not demanding answers, interested and engaged with all of life.
As I mentioned a while ago, before I was a daughter, sister, friend, wife or mother, I was a woman. It shapes how I process the world around me, and defines me in cherishable, esteemable ways.
I settled on The Wonder of a Woman, fully intending "wonder's" dual meaning. A thing that is and a thing you do.
I wonder and I am a wonder.
So are you, girlfriends of mine.
Might we all embrace our mystery, charm, grace and complicated ways? While all the while looking upward and outward with eyes astonished, ears poised to hear and hearts wide open?
It will make a difference in your life. It already is in mine.
p.s. I'm going to start playing the game of catch-up for #31Days, truly wanting to continue this series. When the blog goes offline, it goes offline; until then, stick with me?
On January 1st this year, I woke up in our guest bedroom, alone. I had injured my knee five days earlier, and still swollen, hurting and icing, it was easier to sleep in our only downstairs bedroom than navigating the hardwood mountain to my room.
Stretching awake, I smiled to realize It's a new year!
Still smiling, shooing cobwebs and rubbing sandy eyes clean, I remembered the spectacular game the night before.
Then, suddenly aware of the fire in my knee, my smile quickly turned south and brought with it my sobering reality:
My 50th birthday was 89 days away.
A single word escaped my lips. It was ugly and had four letters.
It was the first time in my life I had dreaded my birthday.
* * *
Because I look younger than my age and feel younger than my age, I sometimes forget my age.
This can be problematic, but it took me a long, long while to understand this.
I'll try to explain.
First, let's remember I'm a recovering people-pleaser. While I've made great strides toward recovery since I understood this about myself, my natural inclination is to want you to like me. It manifests itself one way in real life comings and goings, but differently in my online life.
Only recently did I realize how this affected my writing; I've been hesitant to write about topics that made me different from "you".
Blogging changed when anonymous bloggers began meeting one another in real life.
When I started blogging eight (are you kidding me?) years ago, it was different. We didn't use our real names or if we did, we certainly didn't use our last. Smart bloggers made up names for their children and spouses; I rebelled against that one because cutesy-wootsy has never been and will never be my style. I guessed DH meant "Dear Husband" but I never was sure, and do I dare admit it got on my last nerve?
If a blog wasn't password protected, it was rare to post pictures of yourself and children. Sure, there were exceptions, but my word--there was no such thing as selfies or a daily chronology of your baby's first year or weekly pregnancy tummy updates! My avatar was a picture of my feet and I was fine with that. Eventually, when I finally did post a picture of myself (and time is a little short or I'd link to all these things...), one of my favorite comments EVER was when Willowtree said, "Whoa..." because he was expecting Delta Burke (because he could tell I was Southern and he's Australian???). Still makes me grin to think on that one. The first time I met a blogger, a designer who lived half an hour away, we were both relieved not to come face to face with an ax murderer.
Fast forward to the Blissfully Domestic years, when I was an editor for the ezine's inaugural faith channel for a bit, and then part of the Blissdom conference at its inception and first few years.
It seems like a lifetime ago. So...much...life has been lived during this time (most of which I've never written about here. Yet.).
In a nutshell, once regional blog conferences started happening and bloggers began meeting one another [also through many other venues like trips and brand partnerships I won't get into here], online relationships evolved into real life friendships, and relational lines weren't blurred they were erased!
All the while collaborative sites began emerging, and I happened to make some wonderful choices when I said yes to joining incourage, Simple Mom and Deeper Story/Family (and, though on indefinite haitus, I love Megan Jordan's Story Bleed). The relationships among contributors within a site grow organically.
What I didn't notice is that practically all of my online-to-real-life friends are younger than me; the majority not by a year or two but by 10...15...20 years. For some, the gap is wider.
Did you hear that? I didn't notice. And that is key.
Amazing doors have been opened to me as a result of my writing. I'm humbled, grateful and aware that it's my responsibility to steward these gifts well. I do not take them for granted.
But despite these good things -- opportunities that I'm afraid have caused others to "feel less" than or struggle with envy because they weren't asked to take part in whatever "it" was -- I have found myself feeling the void! On the things I wasn't invited to join, or sites for which I wasn't asked to contribute, or whatever it is that she got to do that I didn't!
Isn't it insane? And incredibly ugly??
It has never been a case of me not being thrilled for another's success or opportunity; but more about what did I do wrong not to be included? Why was I overlooked or dismissed or forgotten?
I've received these imagined slights as outright rejection. I've taken personally things which had nothing to do with me.
Cue the crazy music...banish me to a rubber room!
Why is it so much easier to believe lies that shred our heart? Why do we assume all manner of rejection that I'm here to tell you does not exist?!
And then a friend gently reminded me that I'm forgetting that I'm 50, in a totally different stage of life than so many of my online friends.
A splash of cold water in my face...just what I needed to come to my senses.
It's not that these friendships aren't valid or good or precious to me! My affections run deep for the people in my life, regardless of age. But there are certain, shall we say tendencies?? associated with stage in life, a general mindset depending on your age.
I have some things o say about aging and midlife but I've resisted fleshing it out in my writing because I didn't want you to notice that I'm older than you. That I'm not like so many of you. And I think part of that is wrapped up in my need to be liked and for us to connect and I've feared driving away younger readers because Holy hell, Robin is old, and *I'm* 20 years away from menopause!
Until recently, I could not see what I was wrestling with; even now, I only see it in part.
There are a few of you who are fanning a flame inside of me (recently Mollianne, Lib, Jill, Kelly, Gina, Crystal, Beth...) who are convincing me I need to step out, be brave, chart new waters. Share what I know, what I'm learning, what this side of the hill looks like.
1) Listen. This one has been stirring for almost a year, coming first to a friend in a dream about me.
2) Cease striving.
3) Give from your void.
4) Lead out.
I'm not sure what they all mean but I am sure they have something to do with Holy work.
I'm not exactly sure when, but sometime today or tomorrow my blog is going offline while my designer works hard to help me change into a new outfit (I think you'll still be able to read if you go to http://pensieve.typepad.com).
When I return, I hope you'll sense the fire in my belly, an abandon and strength that is not my own. A change of heart. New direction...
The Wonder of a Woman...
Robin Dance dot me.
We wield enigmatic superpowers often overlooked, dismissed or undervalued amidst a culture where proud is loud and success is too often measured only in dollars--
We nurse an infant while potty training a toddler while supper is on the stove and the fourth load of laundry is spinning...
We leave a long day at work to deliver a meal to a friend who just lost her father, then meet another for coffee to listen to her tale of loss, before heading home to work on the fundraiser we're volunteering for...
With a song from our lips we soothe young savage beasts, with a single raised eyebrow we calm brotherly storms, with a kiss we halt torrents of tears, with a finger's touch we assure, stir desire, make peace.
Powerful and super, sure, but oh so much more!
I've already alluded to an amazing way the wonder of a woman is revealed--how time, distance and geography can't sever heart connection, relationship, the affection of friends. In RobinWorld, that's a superpower.
But don't we too often take it all for granted? Not even consider how special our connections are to one another? Fail to marvel at how well our hearts remember what our minds temporarily forget?
The heart's muscle-memory is astonishing.
It happened to me on Sunday.
We were visiting a new church where we knew no one, a very large church, one I had heard a high school friend of mine might also attend. Actually, T was two grades ahead of me, the older sister of one of my best friends. We weren't close by any means, but I had spent many a night in their home.
The fact that we were now living in the same town, several hours from our hometown, was reason enough for me to seek her out.
This was our third visit to the big, new church. Every visit, I kept my eyes peeled for someone who looked like T; basically, I was looking for her mom.
It shouldn't have surprised me when I saw her two rows in front of us, but it did. Could that be her? Do I just walk up to her and introduce myself?? Could it be as simple as that?
So when the church offered those awkward seconds of "greeting your neighbor" I shimmied out of our row and up toward hers; I ran into her husband first and, testing the waters, flat out asked him his name. When he told me, I said, "I'm a friend of your wife's from high school and she has no idea we're living here...." and then I walked over to her.
She stared at me smiling, that friendly-greeting-a-stranger thing, clear she had no idea who I was. So I introduced myself. Before I could finish my sentence, recognition illuminated her face and she squealed You live here?! and she threw her arms around my neck. I squealed with my indoor voice.
Just like that.
Just like that!
Over 30 years have passed since we last saw each other, but like a rubber band stretched across time and space we snapped right back to Clarke Central's glory days. It doesn't make a lick of sense and yet it thrills me!
Men might experience a version of this, but my observation suggests women have the freedom and inhibition to express connection more fully; at least more demonstrably. It's why we squeal when we're happy or receive good news or our kid scores his first goal. Men don't squeal.
The heart remembers what the mind tends to forget....
Take a moment today to celebrate and marvel at the ways you connect to others beyond time and geographical boundaries.
Because, Girlfriends, you are a wonder.
Recently, through a rather miraculous chain of events, the kind the unimaginative would call mere coincidence, I ran into the parents of a dear college friend.
Mr. and Mrs. R. were my parents away from home and it's likely they altered the trajectory of my life. Their hospitality, generosity and interest spoke "love" in buckets and their lives embodied the Golden Rule. They were teachers by profession, but more importantly, by example.
Adding exponentially to the miracle of our "chance" meeting, were two facts:
and the more amazing point to me--
I celebrated our meeting by writing about it, and after Mrs. R. read my account, she took time to write a thank you note to me and share a copy of that sad little note I had penned to her so long ago. I'm so thankful I had the good sense and writing etiquette to date it; the note bears testimony to the wonder of our friendship.
What is it about women that we can pick up right where we left off, ending the time with those we love with commas and not periods, no matter the time between visits? Is it that our hearts have muscle-memory and can bring current the feelings and affections we sowed so long ago?
The next time you find yourself thinking about a long-lost friend, consider the wonder that she might be thinking about you at that very moment. Find a pen and write her. Pick up the phone and call her.
You might just find yourself right on time for a Divine appointment.
Amazing yarn heart image by Almasa-stock at deviantart.com.
During the month of October (or what I like to call "The Month Nester Takes Over the Internet With Her #31Days Writing Challenge") I'll be featuring some of my favorite of the 1,500 31 Days co-writers. I'm writing about the Wonder of a Woman, and before you think this is a tired, ordinary "girl power" series, give it a chance. My WOW series (because I'm taking creative license to drop the "a" in the acronym and how much do I love it spells "wow"?!) will include personal reflections (on women, motherhood and aging), inspiring quotes, a guest post or two and probably some things that surprise me.
I'm not one of those amazing creature who plans out a month in advance; I both offer a standing ovation and despise them a little bit. Really, truly...only a teensy bit.
Anyway, this weekend I'm directing you to a few of those who share my category, "Too Awesome to Categorize". Enjoy 31 Days of--
SO many GREAT series!
Tell me a few you're following or which ones above you plan to!!
“The mysterious magnet is either there,
buried somewhere deep behind the sternum, or it is not.”
Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love
A good vacation has medicinal value balming soul and spirit with rest and relaxation; a fun sight-seeing trip broadens experience and brings to life the places otherwise relegated to a book's page or a World Market canvas. A bad either one of those can breed frustration, flat wear you out or give you legitimate reason to sell your kids to the circus.
Eight years ago we packed up our kids, loaded up the van, and made the nine-hour trek to Washington, DC. Clearly, this was not a vacation.
DC is an amazing city, and after visiting many times before we had children, we couldn't wait until they were old enough to go. At the time they were 13, 11 and almost 9, the perfect age for a visit--old enough to log a thousand miles on foot without excess complaining and potentially able to remember what they had seen.
Between three kids in a private, Christian school at the time and my husband earning our only income, money was tight. We made the decision to share one hotel room among the five of us. Lest you get the wrong idea, this was no fancy schmancy suite-hotel. We had two queens (fulls??), a lop-sided roll-away and a single, small bathroom.
The city's vibe may be all power and seduction, yet D.C. is a wonderful family destination. Entry is free to most museums and there is nothing compared to standing in the very spot at the Lincoln Memorial where Dr. Martin Luther King delivered his "I have a dream" speech or swaying at the top of the Washington Monument. I'm sure I felt it.
After four days of touring every monument and museum in the city we headed home, exhausted but happy. As is often the case on road trips, I fell asleep not long after we were on the road. My husband takes that bullet for me, driving the majority of the time. What may be a control thing for him is sweet gift to me.
By the time I woke up, the kids were asleep, a perfect time for uninterrupted, adult conversation. Though we had been together constantly during our trip, my husband I were missing each other. Being jammed in a hotel sardine can doesn't make for many romantic moments.
"I had a chemical reaction to you."
My cocked head and squinchy eyes asked him to explain, so he did.
"When I looked at you while you were sleeping, my body reacted to you. I looked away, then looked at you again, and the same thing happened."
Quite possibly, no sweeter words the man has ever spoken.All these years into a marriage, I know that feelings don't always reflect love; particularly ooey-gooey honeymoon, fairytale, cartoon-hearts-circling-your-head kinda love.
Q. Can you think of an exchange in marriage or friendship that testifies
to the power and beauty of your relationship?
Thanks for following along with our #31Days exploration into the Wonder of a Woman. Please click here for further explanation and a listing of all posts to date.
Out of all the people who've ever been born, you are the only you. By some estimates this means you're 1 in 108 billion. One in one hundred and eight billion!
Don't gloss over this...let is sink in to the center of who you are.
You're created in the image of the Creator of the entire Universe!
You're the only one with your exact DNA.
Your thumprint is unique.
No one can see through your eyes, hear through your ears, taste as your tongue tastes, or feel what your skin feels exactly the same way you do.
By design you're also a sensual being, deriving pleasure from engaging and satisfying the senses. Often considered only (or at least first) within the context of sexual pleasure, a woman's sensuality can be - should be - much more.
We have this amazing gift of multiple senses and it's a disservice to our bodies, minds and spirits not to fully engage them, to operate in an awareness of the messages and beauty they convey. It's cheating ourselves out of the abundance offered by God!
It's the difference between --
...walking on the beach or feeling sand's grit rise to your arch and squish between your toes
...putting on a sweater or wrapping yourself in a woolen embrace
...watching a sunrise or applauding its Creator and celebrating new mercies
...playing a song or listening spellbound to its story, shivvering from the meloncholy of a lonely violin
...asking your husband how was your day? or drawing him into a conversation about it.
Take in the world around you and allow yourself to engage and experience the people, places and things you typically take for granted.
Then, please come back and tell me what you've been missing. I really want to know.
A 31-day exploration into the Wonder of a Woman:
personal reflections, inspiring quotes, portraits of beauty...and more.
For brevity, I'm now abbreviating Wonder of a Woman to WOW;
isn't that kinda wonderful itself?
Accepting with gratitude and appreciation
the #31Days writing challenge by the Nester
(over 1,000 writers are joining me!).
My category? Too Awesome to Categorize :).
So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.
~ Genesis 1:27 (NIV)
Before I became a wife,
before my womb was cradle to new life and I was crowned in the glory of motherhood,
before I was someone's daughter or grandbaby or sister or friend,
before first breath escaped from my lungs or my eyes squinched to the starkness of light,
God made me wonderful. And though I may not have known it, my soul was already well aware (Psalm 139:14).
God made you wonderful, too, and before you cast off that idea as too simplistic or trite or, well, Jesus-y, think on it.
Human beings are created in the image of God, the Divine One from Whom all things are created. To meditate on that and its implications will blow your mind, much like the concept of infinity or the Trinity or eternity.
Settle your spirit.
Quiet the noise.
Free your imagination to consider what it means actually to believe we're God's image bearers in this world.
I can't think on these things too long because it's like staring at the sun with naked eyes.
It was after the birth of my daughter, our first child, that I began to observe God's favor toward women.
Her gender was determined at the moment of conception (as is the case for all of us), though in the heavenly realms she was always female.
My body was designed to incubate life prior to delivery, and following her physical birth, my body continued to sustain her life. My body!
I wanted to shake everyone around me and shout DO YOU SEE THIS MIRACLE?! IS THIS NOT EVIDENCE OF THE EXISTENCE OF GOD?!!
During each pregnancy ~
I watched in awe as my babies sommersaulted ripples across my swollen belly...
I thrilled to the jolt of their hiccups (though not as much when they used my bladder as a trampoline)...
I was astonished as my breasts filled, painfully so, for my babies' tiny, eager lips, and equally amazed as they drained me to satisfy their hunger, how even the thought of this could cause my milk to let down and leave my clothes sour and soaked and me running for cover.
For all they can do, for all they're created to accomplish, men will never know what I'm talking about.
It breaks my heart to know there are countries and cultures that don't cherish the sacredness of their women, who distain them, abuse them or relegate them to second class...or worse.
Let's begin to explore the wonder of a women through that lens.