Saturday, November 21, 2015

Finding a Purpose

Today would have been my Mom's 60th birthday.  Initially tempted to spend the day wishing she was still around for us to tease about getting old (and being proved decidedly wrong), I have found a far, far better use of this special day.

I spent a significant chunk of my adolescence and young adulthood working on educating people about the importance of empathy and the dangers of dissociating individuals from the overwhelming statistics that make up their circumstances.  As such, I have spent more than the usual amount of time questioning: "What would I do, if this was happening today?"  Obviously, we all like to give ourselves the benefit of the doubt and assume that we would stand up and do the right thing...but no one ever knows for sure until they are actually in the unfathomable reality of crisis. For so many Americans, Europeans, and relatively safe peoples around the world, it is all too easy to sit back in complacency and feel too removed to be effected...including myself.  

Ever since the current "refugee crisis" first made itself known, I have felt a deep, nagging, urgent sense that I absolutely HAD to do something tangible to help.  To practice what I have so often preached, and taken the risk of daring to reach out to people caught up in the overwhelming displacement.  But...what could I do?  I'm a full time, homeschooling mom, a freelance performer, a stuttered blogger, an amateur photographer...and I'm no where near the epicenter of what's going on and no one was going to come to me for help, and without a buttload of cash, there is nothing I can do to help the poor souls washing up on foreign shores, so far away, anyhow.  So I sat back and relegated that nagging need to do something to the bin of misguided dreams, and hid it under a thin veil of justification.

But that didn't last.  I am a mom, and that's a visceral reality that I can never truly turn off.  Seeing images of these families with young children arriving, soaked, scared, exhausted; watching videos of volunteers wrap tiny children in emergency blankets, and thinking about the long, dangerous journey most of them still have ahead of them, one of my frequent thoughts among the obvious heartbreak is:  how are they going to get those kids to continue to travel so far?  On limited food and next to no resources, carrying a baby or a toddler on such long travails - often over treacherous terrain - becomes a seriously perilous undertaking.  Any rocky slope would necessitate using your hands for stability or to catch yourself...which is next to impossible with an infant in tow.  I never used a stroller, for any of my three children, and am therefore very familiar with the comfort, sense of security (for both parent and child), warmth, and safety a baby carrier can provide - not to mention the ease of mobility and having your hands free!  I found myself thinking; "If only they had carriers, this would still be hard but it would be so much more doable."  But, still, nothing clicked, and I noted that my need to help was growing a healthy layer of guilt around it, but I left it in that discard bin, the veil of justification stubbornly insisting that I have no power.

Until yesterday.  Yesterday, I came across a news article about a mom in California, who - just as I had - saw the need for carriers for these families, but unlike me, she didn't let herself rest within that uncomfortable complacency.  She grabbed the bull by the horns and said "ok, let's do this."  And she asked people to donate carriers, then packed them up, flew to Greece, and personally strapped these babies in safely by fitting each one onto a struggling caretaker.  I was in AWE.  I cried.  In that moment, my hands shaking and my whole being rattled; that need to help threw off that veil, burst out of the discard bin, and manifested in a full, unshakeable form:  I had to join her.  I have to do this, and not just donate carriers and spread the word...All the work I've done over the years, all the effort I have put in to rallying people, it was all culminating in this moment.  This was something I could viscerally relate to, something that I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, will help these families in a simple, tangible, and potentially even life saving way, and with the skills I have honed in my years of production and management, it is something actually within my means to do. I absolutely must go there and do this.

So, I am.  I have joined her organization, Carry the Future, as a volunteer.  Over the coming weeks I will be collecting new or gently used baby carriers* and plan to fly to the Greek Isles (or wherever we are needed) and assist with the direct distribution of these carriers to the families that need them. Not an easy undertaking, I know, but I felt called to do this, and committing to it brought on an enormous wave of relief. I can't be true to myself - or to anything that I aspire to - if I don't get out there and get my hands dirty in an effort to do just a spot of good. And in the end, I will be coming home to a warm, safe, happy home filled with family, support, food, and security...who am I to deny even the tiniest relief to these families who deserve no less, and yet have been caught up in circumstances beyond their control, leaving them with virtually none of it. Regardless of politics, I am sure we can all agree that the children do not deserve any of this.  So please, help me to help them.

If you would like to donate a carrier, please let me know.  I am working to establish easily accessible drop off points around the area (and have partnered with many other wonderful volunteers to coordinate efforts across the DC metro region, spanning north to Baltimore and south to Richmond), and will be collecting donated carriers at my home and at local meet ups.  I may even be able to do some local pickups.    
Alternatively, anyone can ship new carriers directly to the organization’s headquarters in California. 
I will be doing this in honor of these families, as well as my mom, and of course of my dear friend Zoë, who I know would be right there beside me on this one if she were still around.  We lost her last year and never did get to go with her to her family home in Lesbos as she so often said she wanted.  I may well see those shores soon, Zoë, and I wish you could be there with me.

For further information about Carry the Future and what we do, please see our website:
Your help in spreading the word would be greatly appreciated! 

Carry The Future founder Cristal Munoz-Logothetis with one of the many recipients of her efforts.
Love and peace, all.
*soft structured baby and child carriers only. No car seats, no metal frames, no strollers, no wraps, no slings. Soft Structured Carriers (SSCs) are basically any carrier that has clasps or harnesses, and Mei Teis (square cloth with four ties). A few examples are Baby Bjorn, Kolcraft, MobyGo and Ergo.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The paralysis of being 2 years out

Because words don't seem to be today's thing:


I love you. I miss you. My heart feels clogged and stuffy when I allow myself to notice that you are no longer here.

I feel your presence in the very core of my being; you are in everything, you are here and present even as time marches farther from your physical manifestation.
And so I feel supported and loved as though nothing has changed, until I stop for a half a second.

Until I think of something perfect I just know you'd love to hear.

Until I find news that may help you somehow.

And I can't reach out to share.
I can't call, or text, or talk your ear off as I always did.
I can't hug, or tease, or comfort you and I can't subject you to my latest culinary experimentation...
In those moments, in those moments my heart breaks.

Part of me doesn't want to thrive anymore. Part of me wants to just stop and go find mom. Part of me thinks it's unfair for you to miss the best parts of my life, so I shouldn't strive for more than the wonderful things I have now.

But I also know that the part of you that refused to die because "Kate won't be Ok" would be hurt beyond belief if I gave up. That the part of you that gave up so much in the name of motherhood and giving your kids the best life had to offer would be offended, that your determination to do everything well would feel betrayed, were the child you raised to stop striving for her own goals and dreams, didn't jump at opportunity...

And really, I don't want to stop, I don't want to settle or lose my connection to my own children, even if they are harnessed to the breakneck speed of life and there is no looking back. 

But I miss you something fierce, mama, and I wish I could still have you here with me, and we could get to see the kooky old lady you were always supposed to become.

Mom & Hazel

Saturday, July 11, 2015

What the...

I am currently on a bus en route to a two week immersive intensive retreat. I am so excited...except that every fiber of my being is screaming out to just turn around and go scoop up my babies. 

I know they will be more than fine, and I know this is good for all of us, but man does this feel like an inability to breathe! I have not been away from an of my kids for even as much as 24 hours. For the last 8 years (9 if your count pregnancy) I have spent no more than a few hours at a time away from my children. And now, all of a sudden, I will be away from them for more than two solid weeks. 
I have no doubt that this will be weird and bizarre for them, too, but I trust that they will also have fun - they have each other, and James, and the kitties, and Kelly is in town to hang out with them in my stead, and this weekend my dad and Pepper are even here...they will be fine.
As for me, I know this will be fun and beneficial, but I have been on my own since just before 10am and this already marks more solid, unbroken, uninterrupted solitary time than I have had in something like a decade and I'm not sure how to handle it!
It's so weird to have only me to focus on, I feel like so much attention and awareness is suddenly just on me that it's like I'm living in my face. I know that is a weird statement, but watching out this bus window I feel like I see and hear and feel so much just for myself that it has become sensory overload and it feels like my face is buzzing, or something.  THIS IS SO WEIRD. Where are my kids? I need to give them big hugs.

The very full house I left behind. I love you all so much! Miss you already!!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Year 8 complete

This kidlet-o-mine celebrates 8 whole years today...I cannot believe it. I am so proud of and inspired by you, Cadence Ann.  I can already feel you growing away from the tiny creature you once were, beginning to sprout your wings and move on to becoming an independent being, off in the world.  I'm gonna hang on to these amazing days we have now, where I still get the occasional cuddle and constant companionship from you. To say I'm going to miss you when you are grown is a massive understatement; but I adore watching you flourish and expand your horizons and take those leaps; you are doing splendidly, my dear. I love who you are, who you are becoming, seeing you realize your deserve so much more than I can give you, so go ahead and create a life worthy of YOU. You're off to a great start.

Happy Birthday, my Cadiebug!

Friday, June 26, 2015

A Historic Day of Love

I cried when I got to tell my children that they and their friends will be free to marry whoever they want to when they are grown. My heart soars knowing that, whatever social prejudices may linger, a basic respect for love is now on the side of the law, and I cried when I realized that their own kids, should they have any, will grow up thinking that those prejudices are so weird and retro. Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who worked towards this.

This doesn't feel like victory, it feels like the lifting of a heavy weight, like regaining the ability to breathe, like relief.

Celebrating in style

So happy today.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

For my Dad

Dad & I at Niagra Falls in 1980-something

I want to wish you a super duper happy Father's Day... I am so lucky to have had the wonderful love and support you have provided me with throughout my entire life. It is a love and support that I can always count on, and always take great comfort in as I move through my own crazy life. I certainly don't take it for granted.

Thank you for helping me to be the person I am today. Thank you for arming me with many of the tools I use every day as I face the weird challenges life provides, and thank you for sharing your humor and your respect in the process. I always know that I can count on you to have my back, even from myself. And I always know that you are there if I want to share a silly video or a cool new bit of performance art...thank you for still being such an important part of my life, despite the geographical distance.  I hope that will continue to be true forever!  (Except maybe that distance bit.  I do hope that someday it won't be such a big gap.)

I love you so very much.

Happy father's day!

I love you, Dad!

Friday, June 12, 2015

10 years after a very important question was asked...

Dear James,

9 years ago today, we exchanged vows and rings in a sunlit atrium filled with family and friends. We began a journey of a lifetime, a beginning that elated us... despite both having raging head colds and being young enough to have no idea where life was going to take us, we knew this was a Big Good Thing.

Nine years, three kids, 12 moves, and countless ups and downs later, I can honestly say that it absolutely was a Big Good Thing, one that has lead to more Big Good Things than I can count.

9 years ago today - photo by Terry Donovan
I love you so much, James, and I am so proud of you, of our family, and everything we have built. As we embark on our tenth year of marriage, facing ever new trials and opportunities, I want you to know that making this commitment to you was unquestionably one of the best thing I have ever done. 

Time - experience, really - changes people. It changes one's sense of self, strengthens one's identity. It nudges world views and philosophies and dreams into new paradigms. Sometimes, what fit as a bright eyed young adult may not fit as well after time has taught its lessons, even if it it is still every bit as wonderful as it ever was. And sometimes, what you take on at a young age is bigger than you know, and over time you grow into it, and learn so much more than you ever knew you would find...

We have undeniably changed and morphed and grown over the past nine years, and I want to honor that fully. Ten years ago, as a man of a mere 20 years, you asked me a very important question - and as a young woman of 20, I said yes.  Now, 10 years older and wiser, I want to take a turn asking a very important question:

James, after everything we have been through, and knowing all that you now know, being the man that you are now at 30, will you agree to meet me a year from now, and exchange vows once again?

As the woman I am now at 30, I can say without hesitation that I love you far beyond all words, and I want to be able to continue to change and grow and morph right along with you as we take on the relative confidence of not-quite-as-young-adulthood. If you, as the person you are at this point in time, can honestly say that you feel the same way, then let's mark next's years anniversary by doing it all again, and allow our commitment to reflect all the richness that we have added to our lives over the course of this decade, with eyes to the future and its many possibilities.

I love you, James.  Should you say no, I will still love you, and support you, and will continue to be extraordinarily proud of who you have become, and where you are headed. My heart will hurt, but I will still be so very grateful for the time we have spent, and I will know that my time was not wasted.  I am not expecting a rote answer from you, and I don't want you to give me an answer based on obligation or history...I hope with all my being that you will say yes, but I can't fully honor the person you are now without accepting the vulnerability of letting this be a fresh choice.

With my whole heart

UPDATE: He said yes. :-)