Truth is its own magic: A Mother’s Day message

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When you’re a mom, some of the things that come out of your mouth may sound strange:  “Don’t chew on Jesus,” “Will you just hurry up and poop?”, and “Stop putting chicken on your head!”, are some of my greatest hits.

As I was getting my daughter ready for bed the other night, thinking about what I wanted to read to her (praying she wouldn’t mention Minnie, as in The Mouse), the Beatitudes of Jesus came to mind.  I realized then that I’ve spent so much time reading and singing to her and teaching her the things she will need to know to get on here–like letters and numbers, saying “thank you” and not littering–that I hadn’t focused much on the religious part of her education.

Thinking back, that’s exactly how my parents raised me.  For them, church was something you needed if you were an ass.

When I was in high school in the nineties, a lot of kids were self-proclaimed “Jesus freaks,” wearing “True Love Waits” rings and WWJD bracelets.  There was a lot of talk about the rapture and born-again virginity.  Church was their social life, Praise and Worship music their vibe.  Some of them even carried their Bibles around at school.  

Just as Felicity (remember that WB show?) followed a boy to college, I, a freshman, followed a senior boy to his church.  One evening, after service had ended, we sat in a pew as he led me through the salvation prayer, and I was like, “That’s it?  Are you sure? It’s that easy?”

I had been expecting a feeling–a total transformation like Saul’s to Paul–and now I wonder when Jesus told Doubting Thomas that (and I paraphrase) blessed are they who don’t see but believe, that “see” could also apply to “feel.”

Four years later, I joined the Mormon Church.  All the good feelings I had expected to feel when I had gotten saved, I felt then, but who isn’t going to feel good when they’re around so many friendly people who open their hearts and homes?  Even though it’s been years since I sent my name to Salt Lake to be expunged (er, removed) from the records, I will admit that the Church made me a more spiritual person.

In the Church, I was taught that the glory of God is intelligence and yet, according to these same people, for those who had mental challenges, the devil could not touch them. 

To my understanding, a lack of mental capacity (e.g. intelligence) saved a soul.  It seems contradictory, and yet, it somehow makes sense to me.

As I gaze upon my child, I see that light and intelligence.  She knows so much more than she communicates, which can be frustrating, but I have learned to overcome the need to explain why she is the way she is to people who don’t know her–to explain why she doesn’t respond when people ask her her name–but then, I have had several people who’ve taken one look at her and ask if she’s autistic.

I may never know how much she understands, but I do know that I will teach her everything I know and believe, whether it’s that adverbs are the enemy of good writing or that respect doesn’t have to be earned but it can be lost.  (You don’t disrespect people until they “earn” your respect.)

I’ve striven so much to give her a magical childhood through imagination and storytelling.  (Children’s author, Nancy Tillman, is a master at this.)  Nearly every night, since my mom passed from this earth, I ask my daughter to tell Grandma “good-night” and “I love you” and to blow her a kiss.  And then I seemingly catch that kiss in midair, letting her open my hand and take it; sometimes I place my palm on the crown of her head–a blessing from Heaven.

Of course, I don’t really know how things work up there, but part of parenting, for me, has always been teaching truths with just a pinch of magic.

C.S. Lewis did that very thing with his Narnia series, just as I will someday do with mine.

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Poem-a-Day November 2018 Writer’s Digest Challenge #30. Theme: One More (Blank)

Betty Slide 13

One More Memory

If I had just one more memory–
one more moment stretched into years
(with light years between the seconds)–
I would have so much to show-and-tell you.
Does that not sound like a little child?

Your presence
hovers
in the absence
of space and time
as you observe Hannah’s progression,
listen to my stories,
and see this, your daughter,
in the collegiate green cap and gown,
having remade herself into the ungraven image
she’s always wanted to be.

We share memories of you at the table;
I like to imagine you hear us
every time we speak your name.
We have no complaints.

Dad still carries your driver’s license in his wallet;
there are never enough pictures.
We say, “That’s a Mom joke!”
(when the joke is truly terrible)
or “Remember when Mom ..?”

Dad still calls you Mom;
I call you Grandma.
“Say ‘Good-night, Grandma,’”
I tell my daughter,
“blow her a kiss to heaven.”
It’s a kiss strong enough
to shatter
plaster
ceilings,
to defy
gravity.
I catch the one you send back
and plant it on her cheek.

We call you what our children call you.
You wanted Dad to call you Betty more.
Your mother always called you Betty Ann.
You liked the names Carolyn and Elise.
You dug up the roots of the family tree
to give me mine.

She is…she was…
it is just “Grandpa’s house” now,
but the contact still reads “Mom and Dad’s”
in my phone.
I will never change it.

We remember your goulash–
the only thing you knew how to make–
even though we weren’t even Hungarian.
Still aren’t.

We just are.

http://www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/2018-november-pad-chapbook-challenge-day-30

Writer’s Digest Wednesday Poetry Prompt #351, Theme: Make (blank)

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Making a Life

Make lists so you can focus on the big things,
while not forgetting the little things.
Make realistic goals, and a few that are
what smoky pipe dreams are made of—
for life can change in less than a second.
Make wishes—you are not limited to three.
Make plans as a guide,
but not as a rule book.

Make good decisions
by living the kind of life
that will lead you to do so.

Make love without regrets—
meaning with the right person.
Love the one you’re with.
Make babies and you will experience
the magic of childhood all over again.
Make spirituality a part of your life,
for it tends to make more with less—
it sees the glory in a million little things.
It is, like the metaphor, the shimmer.

Make friends, because even your One,
cannot fulfill your every need.
Make connections, for you will learn from others,
as they, hopefully, will learn from you.

Make peace with broken relationships;
sometimes they were meant to be broken,
and gave you what you needed
in the time they were at their peak.

Make conversation with the cashier
every once in awhile.
Make them feel like they matter.

Make movies of your child’s laugh,
but enjoy it outside the frame of the lens.
Make memories through stories
that engage all of the senses,
through photos that capture the essence,
and through being mindful,
of living in the moment.

Make something beautiful,
even if it’s something consumable.
That’s what cameras are for.

Make time for nature,
for it elevates the mood,
and gets us away from the eyestrain
of a screen.
Make yourself put down your phone,
because you will miss out on far more
by not doing so.
Make time for just being.

Make time for food—
let it be an experience,
not just a filler-up.

Make time for books,
for a book can take your outside yourself—
the closest thing to an out-of-body experience
most of us will ever know.

Make time for singing whatever moves you.
Make time for play—
seek out work that feels like play;
life is too short for bad food.

Make music and art,
just for the sake of doing so.
Make poetry a part of your psyche,
for poetry draws one deeper into oneself,
to better understand oneself.
Make up stories, but don’t sell them as truth.

Make lifelong learning a part of your existence.
Make exercise you enjoy part of your routine.
It’s something free to do.

Make things grow,
even if it’s only money.
Make your own destiny and realize
that even if you had help,
you still built that.
We have all had help;
some of us were simply
given the tools.

Make yourself get up at a reasonable time,
and your days will be long upon the earth.
Make hay during the day,
and enjoy the bales at night.
Make every day a holiday in spirit.
Make happiness not a goal,
but positivity a worldview
that no one can take from you.

Make the most of everything—
draw something of value from every experience,
and you will feel that not one minute of your life
was wasted.

Most of all, make it count.
You will receive many second chances,
but only one life.
Make it happen.

This is the day which the LORD hath made;
we will rejoice and be glad in it.
(Psalms 118:24)

http://www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/wednesday-poetry-prompts-351

Writer’s Digest Wednesday Poetry Prompt #342, Theme: (Blank) Ways to (Blank)

This is what I call a “hybrid poem”.  This is my short list of what has worked (for me) to achieve more joy in my life, and even helped me become a better writer.

Happiness Tips

Marry for love, knowing that everything else could change.
Make your children laugh; find relaxation in play.
If a friend doesn’t reciprocate, let that friendship go. (Sometimes that means unfriending; keep it real.)
Seek out face-time.
Eat less, drink more…water.
Don’t feel guilty for needing help, for everyone born into this world has needed help at one time or another.
Find the extraordinary in the ordinary.
Drive with the sunroof open or the windows down on a beautiful day.
Open your windows, pull back the curtains, and let the outside in.
Go barefoot once in awhile.
Appreciate each season, literally and metaphorically, for what it has to offer.
If you can’t find meaning in every trial, make something meaningful come from it.
Know that it’s okay to not be okay.
Pay it back, and pay it forward.
Learn from the mistakes of others.
Live for experiences, not things.
Listen, and you might learn something.
Know that even the cashier is worthy of your attention.
Do what you love, if you can, or find love in what you do (while you work towards the former), knowing that no job is forever.
Don’t try so hard to like foods you don’t, but be willing to try them in a different way.
Keep your eyes on your own plate.
Make learning lifelong.
Seek to outpace yourself, not others.
Help others, but never promise more than you can do.
Share useful information.
Watch less news.
Embrace minimalism.
Make time for coffee in the morning.
Know that you have value, and that no one can take that away. Your worth is not in your “usefulness,” but in the price Someone paid for you.
Find solace in spirituality.
Read.

Cheek to cheek

 http://www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/wednesday-poetry-prompts-342