I spent yesterday touring the campus of Central Michigan University with my son to help him decide on a college. We spe t our day meeting professors, seeing classes happening, and talking with students. I walked away feeling good about the idea of sending him off to college.
In the car, we talked about his favorite school though, Michigan State University. He knows that’s definitely a school he wants to go to. It’s his number one, always has been.
He has loved MSU his whole life. Probably because we have too. We have so many friends and family who have attended there. We know quite a few kids who go there now (they’re all safe).
We love MSU. We bleed green and white here (and maroon and gold, CMU is just as special!). Saturdays in the fall, you will find us cheering for our Spartans, sometimes from within the comfortable confines of Spartan Stadium.
We love Sparty. We love Zeke the Wonder dog. We love the Dairy Store, small animals day, and believe in the power of Izzo in March.
We have always felt safe at MSU. We felt embraced by the collective buzz of learning, doing, and comradery of good people working for a better future.
This shooting feels so much more personal. It feels violating. Enfuriating. Disgusting. And we weren’t even there – I cannot fathom what those directly impacted are going through.
More disgusting? The fact that this keeps happening. When is it enough? When do we finally push back and demand more from our leaders? Don’t we owe it to each other to start using our voices and votes to demand our leaders crawl out of the NRA’s pocket? It’s time to start doing what is right, instead of what pays best. Lives are literally on the line.
Please note: this was written as a three part series and supposed to post beforethe eventsin Washington D.C. on Wednesday January 6, 2021. The sentiment is still the same, but 2021 has already proven to be surprising.
Be realistic in your expectations for the New Year
My world is filled with people excited to be over with 2020. I agree 2020 will likely go down as one of the most difficult years in most of our lives. However, 2021 is not a magical cure for all of our problems.
Celebrating the new year and making big promises for the new year is nothing new. Over 4000 years ago, the Babylonians made promises to their gods at their new year celebration to improve themselves so they could win the gods’ favor on their crops. If they were successful in their resolutions, they would have good crops and if they were not the crops would fail. My family would be very hungry if our ability to eat rested in my ability to stick to a resolution for a year.
The Romans did the same around 46 B.C. They made promises to the gods of how to improve themselves and believed those actions were directly tied to their quality of life. Keeping of the resolutions would make an easy year for them and breaking them would lead them to a falling out with the gods. Again, I’d be in big trouble if life rested on whether I could actually stop drinking Coca Cola for a year (spoiler: I’ve tried many times, I crack by March).
Of course, if it’s good enough for the Romans – our Christian church wasn’t going to be left in the dark either. “Covenant Renewal Services” popped up for people to repent their sins from the previous year and to also make new promises with God as a renewal of His Covenant with us. It’s great to examine yourself and reflect on how you’re carrying yourself in the world, but I’m also really glad God doesn’t attach strings to His love for me. Resolutions for any reason are hard.
At this point, they’re mostly a secular thing and most people don’t even do them. Only 40% of Americans say they make them with roughly 8% reporting they keep theirs (I have no proof but I’d bet a few of those people are fudging too). I don’t make them any year, but this year in particular I think it’s best to skip them and limit my 2021 expectations for many reasons
I have been disappointed enough over the last 12 months. Some decisions were my own and many were not. I did NOT see a global pandemic of this magnitude happening in 2020. Maybe some people did, I’m not exactly always up in the news as much as I should be, but last year went off the rails more than I think most of could have predicted. We all want it fixed, but problems this deep didn’t start overnight nor will they disappear overnight.
The dropping of a sparkly ball at the strike ball at midnight does not mean the pandemic is over.
We don’t have a fairy godmother waving her wand to put things back to normal at midnight. We can celebrate hope for 2021 but still need to be realistic in our expectations. The vaccines are coming but it will still take months to get them out enough to make a dent in the virus. People are still struggling to stay afloat while we wait to safely reopen places. We have new leaders coming in to try and heal years of problems. No single person can change years and decades of problems immediately either.
We need to approach 2021 with hope and determination, not the expectation it will be better simply because it’s not called 2020. We have real work to keep doing as we continue having hard conversations, taking precautions to keep us all safe, and helping people around us. We need to just keep going and adding any more to our heavy burden entering 2021 just seems self-destructive at this point.
I’m welcoming 2021 into my life calmly. It’s a breath of fresh air, we are closer to moving past a virus and stepping back into life more freely. But we aren’t there yet. Not with the dropping of the ball, flipping of the calendar, or changing of the year. We still have work to do.
Let’s go into 2021 hoping things get no worse and enjoy the process of rising together. Last year disappointed most of us, but this year could surprise us.
This was not the plan for these daffodils this Spring. They were placed in the ground last fall, with care, in a landscaped area near the porch. The plan for these flowers was to come up from the gloomy ground once the snow melted away to bring happiness to the corner of our yard while we waited for the rest of Spring to arrive.
Now imagine their surprise, and mine, when they sprouted in the middle of the backyard this week. These flowers are nowhere near where they were planted. Their Spring plans are very much off track thanks to a mischievous squirrel.
My first reaction was to pull them out of the ground when the first buds started peeking over the grass. I was annoyed to find my planning and work messed up for no reason. Then, life started changing quickly as we moved to working from home, home schooling, online church, and changing all the Spring plans we had for ourselves. This was not the plan we had in place for our Spring. Taking care of renegade daffodils slipped from my mind.
Until today when I sat down for a moment of quiet in this strange homebound chaos and spotted the daffodils. In the wrong spot, nowhere near where they were supposed to be, there they were. Standing tall among the grass and leaves with their bright yellow petals spread for the world.
Among the chaos and broken plans they still bring joy.
Last week was been hard at our house. Everyone was acutely aware we should have been preparing for a Spring Break trip to Florida instead of preparing for which puzzle we would be doing next. School buildings were closed for the rest of the year, worrying us all with how we’ll adapt to a new virtual classroom life. Many tears were shed. A lot of them from me (I am FREAKING OUT!).
Close quarters now feel smaller, patience is wearing thin, and arguments are popping up with more frequency than before. It seems like one of us is angry every waking moment of the day. I can’t help but wonder, what are we doing wrong? Why are we suddenly falling apart and suffering?
I finally found the real reason for the range of our moods. We aren’t turning on each other or actually falling apart. It is much simpler than that.
We are grieving. You are too.
We are grieving the loss of our structure and routine. Coming to terms with losing our school plans and vacation fun. We are all shedding the hope and excitement of the Spring Break we booked last fall. All of our plans are gone and nothing looks how it “should”. Nothing is how it is supposed to be. None of this is right. This was not the plan.
We are not the only ones. I’m sure you feel it too. The daffodils get it.
They remind us that plans change. Sometimes we end up where we don’t belong. We may end up where we do not want to be with no way to change the situation. No matter how long or well we plan, sometimes things are out of our control. All we can do is keep moving forward, growing where we are, and bringing whatever joy we can to the world.
We can still be beautiful and grow new places. Even if everything isn’t how we planned.
This week was my birthday. For those who dont know, I don’t get older. I just go up a level each year, because being level 39 sounds way cooler than being 39 years old. So, the other day I went up another level and I’m stronger, wiser, and tougher that before. Badass.
What is it about my birthday though that makes my children lose their minds and insane things happen? Its like the universe finds it comical every time I manage to make one more trip around the sun. Every. Freaking. Year.
This year, we needed to celebrate early since my actual birthday day was crammed full of taking kids to school and events. So a few days before the big day my kids whined that they didn’t want to go to the store to buy a gift and card (they may be totally addicted to Amazon which may be my fault but we talk about that another time). I tried to help Matt out by reminding the kids about all the hard work I do for their birthdays each year in the form of parties and cakes, not to mention the fact that I sacrificed my bikini modeling career to give birth to both of them, and the fact that if they celebrate my birthday they get ice cream too. I’m not sure which guilt trip or bribe did it, but they finally got it done before we went out for my birthday dinner.
Let’s talk about birthday dinner as a mom for a minute: if I have learned one thing in all the previous levels, its that I want to go some place where I know my children will definitely find something to eat that they love. Or like. Or at least will nibble on before we bring it home to enjoy as lunch the next day. So I chose my favorite restaurant to go to with my kids so they will not drive me crazy during the meal. Level 39 me was crushing it.
We made it through the meal with only one little ruffle about straws (what kind of waitress brings one kid a bendy straw and one kid a normal one?!). Also, don’t start on me about straws and the turtles. I live with an 8 year old girl, I know all about it, I just wanted a nice level 39 meal so straws were a must. The rest was great. All in all, a win.
My actual birthday consisted of running all over, going to softball game, then going out for ice cream before coming home. All I wanted to do was lie in bed and binge Madmen. (Yes, I am aware that the show has been off the air for ages and I am insanely behind on the times, however I have no patience and zero chill so I prefer to wait for shows to run their entire course and ignore them until they are placed on a streaming service where I do not have to wait for annoying things like cliffhangers.)
Just as I was about to finish my second episode and roll over to go to sleep I heard our teenager yell from downstairs. I am totally a dedicated mom, but in that moment I was also an exhausted mom so instead of getting up and walking downstairs – I texted him:
Me: “Don’t yell, your sister is asleep. What’s up?”
Teen: “There is a bird in the fireplace.”
Me, now yelling and running full speed from the bedroom: “NOBODY MOVE!!!”
This is where Matt clearly gets me and why our marriage works. He didn’t ask for an explanation or really flinch at my outburst and sudden flight. He calmly paused the show (I seriously love him) and followed me downstairs where we were in fact greeted by a bird flapping around inside of our fireplace among the ashes.
Me: “Oh my gosh. What do we do? Someone has to grab it. But not me. Do we even OWN thick leather gloves for this stuff?!”
Matt: “Will open a window and to get a way to get it out.”
Me: “Let’s catch him in a pillow case!”
Matt: “You think you’re that accurate?”
Me: “In a sheet!”
Matt: “You will throw ash all over the house.”
Teen: “Is it hurt? Can we keep it?!”
Me: “NO. Get the sheet.”
My plan was nothing short of a play right out of Wile E. Coyote’s playbook. We would hold the sheet up over the open fire place, the bird would fly into it, and we would quickly wrap it around him then throw it out the window. This is completely doable for two regular grown ups (one of which may have been afraid of rabies at that moment). Right? It sounded good in my head.
As it turns out, this bird was a super genius. Now, I realize that at first glance the fact that the bird fell down the chimney and was trapped with people staring at him would lead you to believe otherwise, but as soon as we held up a sheet in front of the fireplace and opened the sliding doors he froze. He may not have known what a chimney was but he definitely knew a hunter green sheet with paint stains was not the sky and he should not go that way.
We finally agreed to try Matt’s plan (and by we, I mean me). We closed the room door, opened the windows, removed the screens, slid the the fireplace screen open, then moved the sheet so he could see the window.
That’s all it took for our visitor, he was probaly traumatized by the giants waving paint sheets at him, so he soared out of the fireplace, through the room, and followed the fading sunlight to his freedom!
We then seized this teachable moment to show our son how fireplaces work and why you need to close the flue when done. You’re welcome, future daughter-in-law, for teaching your future husband how to care for your home.