Monday, May 9, 2016

Reminder to Self and Maybe to Other Mothers

Yesterday was Mother's Day. If I'd forgotten somehow, then Facebook would have reminded me of this occasion for the last four or five days.

I have almost a thousand Facebook "friends". I'd say I've read at least 600 posts wishing their own mother a wonderful day. Some addressed a mother on earth, others mention a mom in Heaven. I noticed that some people who do not regularly post have switched their profile shot to a picture of their own mother or posted the rare comment.

Here's what I HAVE NOT seen....

"Happy Mother's Day, Mom! I hope when I'm your age, I too have six pack abs!"

"Mom! I am the person I am today because you always drove a BMW."

"My mother is the best Mom because she never had a double chin and wore perfectly starched shirts to school parties."

"My grandmother is the greatest because she looks like she could be my twin--no wrinkles!"

Now, for those of you that have beautiful, wonderful moms or grandmothers with six pack abs and look like your twin, I am not criticizing. I'm simply pointing out something that screamed to me in post after post after post.

The common denominator in all the posts was love. 

It's been another reminder that although we clearly value love, both giving and receiving, we as a culture often spend more time cultivating unobtainable, unrealistic goals as individuals. 

Mother's day is my reminder that I should seek healthy options so that I can live life fully. That said.......If I narrow down the mind chatter, I have to be honest and admit that so much of my valuable energy is wasted on the kind of stuff that doesn't get mentioned at memorials or days of being honored or in quiet moments of reflection.

But, if I love well, LOVE has implications both now and for eternity. Loving well is the hardest work we do; but, based on Facebook posts about moms and grandmothers love is what matters most.

PS....anyone out there want to throw in their motherhood card today or was it just me??? GAH. Love is hard.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Ifs and Woulda Beens

I woke up singing this song inaudibly today.

“Great is Thy Faithfulness, Oh God my Father.
Morning by morning new mercies I see.”

My woulda-been-a-versary was January 23rd. A Saturday, just as it started those 28 years ago. I walked down the aisle in a custom pure white hand beaded gown complete with a cathedral train all meticulously sewn by Mom. (minus the beads. I didn't have the time or patience to hand sew them. I glued them on! I'm a pragmatist.The dress will be worn once.) Pipe organ and trumpet filled the sanctuary with that glorious anthem. Exactly as I’d dreamed.

During this season I find myself asking important questions with no real certainty or angst that an answer will be available. I know two things:
1.    My decision was correct.
2.    I am aware of God’s faithfulness in ways I would have never imagined.

What if bubbles up on an uneventful Monday morning.
What if I'd married someone else?
What if I would have.....?

I call Mom and the first thing she said was, “Today woulda been Memo and Dado’s 79th anniversary.” 

The if morphed to woulda been.

What a celebration that woulda been.

Woulda beens.


What do we do with those?
Today, in a hotel room, alone with my thoughts and computer, I find great comfort and answers in music. Hymns.

Ifs are sometimes snags. “…Precious Lord, take my hand.”

Some are stitches in a larger pattern. “….leave to thy God to order and provide.”

Some are important milestones in becoming human. “…mold me, make me after Thy will.”

Some are gaping holes that make no sense and make us fear that all is ruined. “…when sorrows like sea billows roll.”

Some woulda beens bring deep comfort in believing that celebration is happening in the now…together, whole, free. what a day of rejoicing that will be!”

I’m playing Gaither Homecoming videos on a YouTube stream. They are hokey, predictable, and the video quality improves vastly as they learn from their mistakes—much like me. They’re reminders of who I am.

I was born into a heritage of Christian faith. It wasn’t always orthodox or informed. It was sometimes harsh and judgmental. But, always it was steadfast, earnest, and sincere. I’ve continued in the faith with my whole-hearted effort to weave my story into the larger story of family and Family.

Hymns evoke emotions. Voices. Faces. Laughter

What would my life have been without hymns?

With a piano introduction, I can name the hymn and recall so many voices—Dado’s country bass. "I will cling to the old rugged cross."

Memo’s barely audible alto. "....what a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer."

Mom’s melodious soprano, "...all I have needed thy hand hath provided. Great is Thy Faithfulness."

Dad’s mellow baritone, "...I once was lost, but now I'm found."

Carol switching to whatever part she heard me singing, " nailed to the cross and I bear it no more.....It is well with my soul."

Specific images are burned in my memory of looking up with a craned neck to see all of them in Sunday’s best. 

I can see Scott sticking out his tongue at me just behind Mom or Dad. "...that saved a (tongue sticking out) like me."

I loved sitting during hymns, bending low, peering beneath the pew admiring shoes—trying to match the voice with the shoes.

Skipping ahead to a time when the hymn was used to enhance a worship song in my weekly church service, I see both my grandmothers at Mom and Dad’s current home sitting on the green leather sectional watching these very videos—Christmas gifts enjoyed over and over. I see their hairless, wrinkled skin draped smoothly against polyester blouses.

Grandmother had great difficulty expressing her love with words. But I knew then, and now, her tears meant something.
"...can we find a friend so faithful, who will all our sorrows share?"
Only she knew.

This memory invokes ardent joy and mourning to gently ask that irretrievable question. Why are you crying?

Gaither Homecoming was a favorite in our marriage. Mom and Dad took us to a live event once. Another time I got tickets for one of Richard’s birthdays, maybe his 39th? We had CDs and we watched the videos on some television channel. We preferred watching—the camera zooming in on audience singer(s) with light and smiles in their eyes. Lots of tears hovering, waiting for a blink to release them. We knew we were nerdy. At the concert we were the toddlers. We didn’t care. Which produces a smile. I hear his reedy, nasal tones—more pleasant than my words convey. 
                “Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine…”

Over a decade since then with entire years of destruction, rage, depletion, and re-building.
“Oh, joy that seekest me through pain.
I cannot close my heart to thee.”

Richard’s story is intertwined with mine, even with a legal document that severed the marriage.

My tapestry. No. Quilt works better for my heritage. Even with the black thread from charred remains, there are 21 years of red, orange, green, and indigo threads.

I trace the rainbow through the rain…”

I’m wired for reasons, resolution, and redemption. My mind drifts….

“…pardon for sin and a peace that endureth…..strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow.”

Today after an evening of wondering what if? I come back to a place long held that is strengthened by music.

“Jesus loves me, THIS I know.

Love is the thread that connects and intertwines all these songs.

What if I married……?
What if I waited longer…?
What woulda been?
What anchors me today as I mourn and rejoice—that paradox of Christian living is this:

“O LOVE that will not let me go.
I rest my weary soul in thee.
I give thee back the life I owe,
That in thy ocean depths its flow may richer, fuller be.

ONE love that will never let me go. I rest in the confidence that despite all, He dwells in the consequence. In the snags and gaping holes; whether by my choice or by my mistake or by life’s cruelty.

“…the promise is not vain, that mourn shall tearless be

I trust this. 

And song makes it breathe.
And this video is the string that sews this all together. 

Monday, December 14, 2015

I'm the Sally Field of Facebook

I'm still pondering social media. My friend Dawn's comment that she uses Facebook as a sort of life newspaper made great sense. I do that too. And yet, I think.... Strike that I know that I use it interactively.

I like feedback from others. I loved seeing those metal stars—the ones you lick on the back—placed on my papers at Dwight D. Eisenhower Elementary School. Getting report cards and reading what my teachers had to say about me was exciting. Although I cannot recall my very first emotional response to being on stage, I know that hearing an audience laugh at a well delivered line and then hearing applause at curtain hooked me into performing.

I haven't worked in an office setting for years. I enjoyed clutching a cup of coffee and chatting about last night's episode of ER or hearing someone tell me a story about a mischievous child. As the receptionist at an ad agency in Portland, I was happy when people would hover in my area and kibitz. I am amused easily and I get a kick out of hearing stories and sharing mine. 

Last week I experienced a first. I used the last bit of dental floss and threw away an empty container.


(FYI. I keep dental floss in multiple places in my home and car. Dental work necessity.)

I've never asked a single person this question:

“How many empty containers of dental floss have you tossed out?”

But, deep in the profound recesses of my philosophical mind, I knew this was rare and worthy of some kind of reward. 

I couldn't tell my dentist because that's admitting that for 49 other years I wasn't flossing regularly. I wonder how many empty spools of floss a dentist throws away annually?

You feel a little silly calling someone to brag about hygiene. Only a rare friend really wants to listen to that. I would be that friend, though, just in case you reach a life milestone with a bizarre twist. Cuz really. There are 5000 miles of floss on one spool!

It was text worthy, for sure. Mary would instantly text something back far wittier than anything I could have thought of hours after the conversation. But, what do you do when your gut is pleading for more than one high five? 


It’s the best licky star ever. Hearing that pleasant metallic gong when someone likes your comment. And again. Again. Driving to carpool line. Parking the car to see 10 notifications in your window. TEN FRIENDS are proud of me! FIFTEEN FRIENDS think I’m funny. FIVE FRIENDS like AND comment. We’re exchanging witty banter! I’m so popular! Everyone likes me.

We all extrapolate what we post. In response, we can also interpret a like or a comment in the way that works for us as well. That can be true in the positive or the negative. "Oh! He thinks I'm funny!" Or “Well, she has no sense of humor anyway.” She’s hidden. Or if she’s just not funny at all, ever, UNFRIENDED.

My point? Take the grain of salt approach. Is social media interaction fun? Yes. Is it validating? Yes. It can be. It can also be extraordinarily helpful too. When I was needing advice for my trial on my best option for bags under my eyes, I got a ton of great advice. I learned that Preparation H with biodyne, only sold in Canada or foreign markets is THE BEST KEPT SECRET IN THE UNIVERSE!! 

If, however, I attach my personal value to the comments or likes or thumbs up of others, then I’ve got some rocky living ahead. Social commentary is a precarious anchor for your self esteem.

Our world is jacked up. I find it astonishing that even with great education about bullying, more than ever adults bully each other on social media without reservation and with entitlement.

But let me be very clear. When I post that I get extra credit for reading Jonathon Franzen’s newest tome since it’s in .17 point type, please like and comment. Because his 600 pages are like 5 volumes of a Brittanica. With NO PICTURES.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Job Description Clarification

I felt enormous pressure as a child and teenager to be an example for others. It was a mandate at school: "Fifth graders! You have got to show the younger children what a responsible student acts like!" We even had responsible student badges, RS badges—an external symbol of model behavior. 

Sidebar: I planned and lead a protest against RS badges when the PE teacher unilaterally took every 5th graders' badge for the behavior of a few. Apparently justice has always been important to me.

Being president of the Student Council in 5th grade and 8th grade upped the ante for me.(I remained in elected leadership positions throughout high school.)

My commitment to being, dare I use the "P" word
-perfect- crossed another, even more critical status. I believed with every ounce of my tender heart that I needed to be so exemplary that it would lead people to life everlasting. 

Quite simply. If I didn't make Jesus look good, people would go to HELL.

To have such influence and power? I chuckle and cringe simultaneously. 

Now. Before hackles go up and teeth are bared....I am NOT saying these are inherently bad things and that my life is a wasteland as a result. Positive role models have always been and remain valuable in my life. My faith also has space for a place where accountability and actions do matter. Representing Christ well is important to me.

Full disclosure....I am and have always been extraordinarily sensitive to the emotional responses of people around me. Coupled with hyper-vigilant duty to be an example to well, EVERYONE in the entire world, I was a prime candidate for co-dependency.

Make the family look good. Make your teachers happy. Be smart. Be funny. Be skinny. Never cuss. Like everyone. Never brag. Be perfect. Be confident. Be humble. Never lie. Have nice manners. Never hurt people. Always forgive. Be stylish, never vain. Feel deeply, just never be angry. Make everyone like you. Be smart. Make all A's. Memorize the whole Bible. Never alienate anyone. Don't tell people your secrets. Smile.

If you can't be perfect, at least try.

No wonder I was exhausted and burned out by the time I hit my mid 20's! I had to find a better way to live. I sought the help of a therapist who with great wisdom, helped me see with new eyes and recognize patterns that were injuring both me and others.

Fast forward to now. I'm 50. I understand what hooks me into that push-pull of being needed and feeling compelled to save everyone from everything—especially themselves. But understanding and response are two different issues.

In the past weeks since I started writing this, there have been innumerable events I was not only tempted to revert to "saving" someone; but, several times I felt my feet dancing that familiar tango. It feels natural. I'm really good at it too. UNTIL I either dance too long and experience the negatives or simply remember that not only am I unable to do someone else's emotional work. I CANNOT do it. Ever.

This is not a random segway.

I started recognizing the voice of the Spirit in my life during my late 30's. It was there all along. My inner world was so muddled with constant chatter and anxiety that I couldn't discern what was what. That process of learning was a daily effort. Eventually I knew that when I had a thought that is sane and much wiser than my normal inner voice, it probably wasn't from me. I do not hear a thunderous male voice like James Earl Jones. No. It's my voice, just better. It's never shaming and is always loving. I began to acknowledge that as God's directive to me.

God knows I'm naturally rebellious. Most everything from the Spirit comes to me in the way of questions or considerations.

Here are some examples. "Lori. I want you to consider changing your eating habits." "Lori, you love yoga. Why haven't you gone lately?" "I wonder if I need to be a better friend to_____(fill in the blank)?" "Today would be a great day to call___"

The best thing that ever happened to my inner world was realizing that I am not the Holy Spirit. (That's really funny if you were raised in church, btw.)

Realizing that it was not my job, nor did God expect me to move the hearts of people helped me more than any Bible lesson I'd ever sat through. (I went to church on Wednesdays and TWICE on Sundays.)

Had I not learned that I have limited ability to control others before motherhood, I'd have quickly learned that from a colicky baby.

When I understood my job better, I experienced freedom. I am grateful for knowing that my job is simply to love. 


finding that balance of how to love well is a lifetime commitment. Being empathetic is necessary to love well. We're all flawed which results in being hurt and sad when others fall short of their best. If I flatten my ability to feel hurt, I also flatten my ability to feel joy.

Maybe there are people that can do love without help. I'm not one of them.

Each day before my feet touch the carpet, I ask God to increase the capacity in my heart to love. I also ask for help to love well. Most days that involves a lot less talking. Biting my tongue a lot. More listening. And praying more than ever. 

And asking forgiveness more than I wish I had to. Anne Lamott said it better than I: 

Earth is Forgiveness School. You might as well start at the dinner table. That way, you can do this work in comfortable pants. When Blake said that we are here to learn to endure the beams of love, he knew that your family would be an intimate part of this, even as you want to run screaming for your cute little life. But that you are up to it. You can do it, Cinderellie. You will be amazed.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

I Resent YouTube AND Pinterest

Within 10 minutes from my house there are 3 Wal-Marts. I can drive to the Neighborhood Market in about 2 minutes--unless I miss the light on FM 407 because there are 3 cars at the light instead of the usual one or two.

Scary Wal-Mart is actually the next closest one. It's the older one and the parking spaces aren't really conducive to Texas sized trucks or people who have regard for public safety.

There's Nordstrom Wal-Mart just down the road. Their parking spaces are ample; but, it takes forever to park and walk into the store. Plus, there's only one left exit back to my house and that light can often take 3 rounds to get through on weekends. Plus, they never, ever have enough check out people. Apparently everyone in my area prefers Nordstrom Wal-Mart.

Argue with me about most anything else. Don't expect to win over retail arguments. I know Wal-Mart.

Annie Beth is becoming a great baker. She's learning primarily from YouTube and Pinterest. I learned from my mother whose goal was and always will be taste over presentation. Her delicious sheet cakes are still served in the same silver oblong pan with the sliding cover.

AB wanted to make a blueberry banana tart. I don't own a tart pan. I've got 5 spring form pans. I have countless pie pans and 3 with fluted edges. But.  That's not what that stupid, skinny girl said was necessary for her YouTube masterpiece. Guess where we went to buy one? It said online they had them in store.

Well...they didn't.

We ended up at Bed, Bath, and Beyond and of course I forgot my 20% off coupon. Tart pan was secured, though.

I am learning by error, mostly that my instructions are neither wanted nor heeded. What little I do know means nothing compared to the pictures on Pinterest and what some stranger on YouTube says.

The next few hours are an angry blur. Here's what I heard last before I fell asleep. "BUT MOM I FOLLOWED THE INSTRUCTIONS EXACTLY AS SHE SAID!!!"

A new weekend day dawned and I was prepared to help with the pie crust.

This is what I know now:

1. No one makes pie crust like I learned from my Mom--who learned from her mother--who learned from her mother.

2. Her pie crusts taste fabulous. So do mine. Sometimes they are pretty. Sometimes they aren't.

3. I couldn't find either of my pastry blenders. Listen to your daughter that Neighborhood Market, Dollar Tree, and Home Goods will NOT have this: was a weekend and I was avoiding big Wal-Mart. (new term--applies to any Wal-Mart)

4. And blast it, who knew they were so expensive now? Supply and demand is real folks. 

5. Pinterest and YouTube are the downfall of all things imperfect. So what if the crust sagged on one side just slightly? My teeth and tongue didn't care one bit.

6. In order for me to stay semi-sane, I'll let perfect people who are unreachable teach my child to bake. 

I am also going to ask that all of those people insist on teaching the importance of cleaning up afterwards. That's another post.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

My Perfect Life?

I’ve got drafts for about 3 or 4 posts that are almost ready to be published. Not sure why I’m not finishing them; but, the timing just seems off. After I published the Invisibility blog—the one about being seen—one of my wickedly funny and brilliant friends at the gym said she’d been pondering two aspects of that concept: (these are my extrapolations of what I thought she was saying)
  1. How does social media interface with being seen? Do we control how we want to be seen?
   2.      Why do some people seem to occupy more “space” in a room? Is that a reflection of person’s character structure? Does commanding attention always point to early deficits? (still thinking about this…)

First, thanks Jill for pushing me to think more deeply—even if I ended up losing count with the yellow kettlebell and doing too many. Never trust your trainer to count for you.

For now, on the heels of a very busy social media event—Halloween, I’m thinking about being seen. 

In our travels with thera-LINK, we attend lots of psychological conferences. I love research. I enjoy listening to students and professors discuss their findings at poster sessions. There is a ton of research going on about how social media is changing our culture and how we relate to one another. As with most things, there are positive and negative results.

Facebook on Halloween is a favorite because I get to see kids of all ages dressed up and having fun. Without any experience with children, or life in general, if I based my world view of Halloween on the 2-4 pictures posted by 500 of my 900 “friends", I’d think that 99% of the world smiled and laughed all night long. People ate Pinterest perfect food. Everyone has latent professional pumpkin carving skills. Every toddler happily wore the costume Mom spent hours making or ordered from a specialty catalog. All siblings gladly shared their candy. All people that inhaled uncountable shots of vodka used Uber to get home. No one cried. No one yelled. And everyone remembers everything about the BEST NIGHT EVER!

I, in general, post only funny anecdotal events, happy pictures, and positive things. I am not intentionally trying to post a skewed view of my world. I just figure that most people don’t really want to hear about my crummy day or my political tirade. I know that NO ONE cares that I’m at Target buying gluten free bagels. (That sounds horrible, btw)

Hang on, I’m getting there…..

You can learn about a person through their posts. For the most part, the people whom I friend on Facebook I have met face to face or have some point of reference that’s based on some segment of my life. By glancing at my year end video that Facebook produces for me, you’d notice these things: I value family and friends. I spend wads of cash on live theater and movies. I hire a personal trainer. My weight fluxuates. I laugh a lot. I am divorced. I have one child and her initials are ABC.

Here’s the tricky part. What conclusions do you make based on what I post? If you notice that I’m smiling or laughing in most all of my pictures, the snap deduction would be: “This woman is happy ALL THE TIME!” Unless you know me well, or read my blog, you wouldn’t guess that I’ve suffered with depression for all of my adult life.

“She’s busy all the time!” I’m not.

If you’re trying to figure out how fat or not fat I am currently, look for the photos I’ve been tagged in by someone else. If I post them, I crop the living daylights out of them. I could disallow people to tag me as an effort to thwart pictures I do not like….but, I am willing to risk being seen as I am.

I have never called Annie Beth Clark, “ABC” aloud. I type that because I’m lazy and she accidentally got cute initials. I expect her to marry someone with a D surname.

It’s unrealistic to think that I get the real view of someone based on 5 pictures a week and several funny anecdotes. If we use social media as a way to enhance relationships, stay connected with people we have lost because of geography and circumstance, that’s one thing. But, to use it as a primary method of connection may not be realistic, dare I say, even real?

That’s one of the reasons I blog. I believe that most of us are trampling through a mundane life looking for ways to find meaning and connection. Sometimes mundane morphs into chaos and disaster with one poor decision, intentional abuse at another’s hand, or the mistake of a stranger. It’s hard to love people. Tell me it’s easy and I’m gonna assume you live under a rock.

The most profound connections in my life have been based on mutuality and gut-level admissions of love, limitations, fear, failures, and loss. Then, when the moments of unadulterated joy occur--which do and will happen--the bonds are forged golden. 

Here’s to living authentically and paying attention to the remarkable moments of each day. 

PS...for you grammar police. If there is a way to use an em dash in blogspot, I haven't found it. It bugged me enough that I started writing in Word and transferring it here. I edit constantly and am too lazy to edit back and forth. #goodenough

Monday, September 28, 2015

Blood Moon Hair Miracles

The Pope addressed Congress for the first time this week. Kanye really is running for President in 2020. Tonight I viewed the Super Moon Lunar Eclipse. The last time this happened was 1982.

The biggest and best news as far as I'm concerned is that I had a great hair day and I did it all by myself!

There are those people that can manage a blow dryer AND a brush at the same time. Said people can even move them simultaneously. I have never been that person. I am familiar with the smell of burnt hair.

I can't really even blow dry someone else's hair that well either. I'm accused constantly of burning holes through my daughter's fragile skull. I'm all 80's and 90's folks. Perms all the way. Dry naturally, throw in rollers. Done.

I watched Wendy Williams this week and ordered an International Hair Dryer Stand. Or maybe it was on GMA. Regardless, that's the best 20 something dollars I've spent in years.

My set up was slightly different. I had pink duct tape on that second black stripe area because for 20 bucks the pole doesn't really adjust to the right height. I also had my fan on top of the counter because as you all know I sweat. I was nude. (nekkid in Texan.) My hair actually looked stock photo product selling friendly. I even sectioned off portions of my hair, just like they tell you to.

I was blissful when my almost 14 year old said, "Mom, your hair looks amazing."

I don't mean to brag; but, I'm pretty sure I caused the Super Blood Red Moon Eclipse of the entire world with my shiny, sleek smooth hair. Astronomers and photographers--you're welcome.