Pounding Out Grief One Mile At A Time

With tears cascading down my already salty face, I approached the summit of Imogene Pass -  tears of grief for the losses mingled with tears of joy for the rising. 

The significance of it being a point-to-point race was not lost on me - not only would I finish in a different town (Telluride) than I started (Ouray), I would be a different person as I arrived - lighter, freer, and more hopeful. It also just so happens that Telluride is higher in elevation than Ouray - a metaphor for my year, starting in the deepest of valleys, rising to the mountaintop for perspective, and traveling down that mountain, back into a valley, but a different one, a higher one, countless feet above despair, measuring high in hope. 

Anticipating the 5,000 foot climb ahead of me, I toed the start line with a “fear in my body and a fire in my heart,” to borrow words from the Dirty Guv’nahs. 


The miles and miles of training - climbing mountains up out of the dark into the light, pounding out my grief, one step at a time - culminated in this one moment. 

The volume on my fight song was cranked up as loud as it could go. Hope had risen up and now I would too. 


September 12, 2015 - I ran this race on what would’ve marked 37 weeks pregnant, or full term, had I not miscarried. Not only had my training, my journey to the start line, been a reclaiming of myself, but now I would reclaim the date as well. 

Regardless of what would come next in my life, I knew the healing had come. 

I never could’ve predicted that September 12, 2016, one year later, would be my exact due date for my beautiful baby girl. 

And just 3 days from now, that little joy-maker will turn two. 

3 years have passed since I climbed up out of that one mountain town and flew down to the finish line in the other. And wow, how much life has changed, in ways I never could’ve imagined. 

Like a foliage-filled mountain trail winding through the woods, it’s true, we never really do know what’s around the next bend in our lives. 

We just keep moving, one step at a time, sometimes flying with a rhythm so fast and fluid, and other times crawling - crying and clinging to the little bit of hope that we still have. 

We keep going, following the trail set before us, and trusting even in the hardest of places, that we will be led around bends into new seasons where the foreboding clouds will finally lift, exposing positively unimaginable vistas; into new places, and on to new heights. 

What’s your mountain?


The Case for Choosing Discomfort

Her cries pierced the darkness, arousing us from our chilly slumber, almost every hour on the hour throughout the night. 

Earlier that day, packed for four days of life and adventure in the mountains, we buckled up our kids - ages 7, 6, and 1, and set out in our trusty Honda, affectionately known as Wanda, in search of the the perfect spot to pitch our tent. Upon navigating a steep and bumpy 4WD road that almost took out our rack and scratched both sides of Wanda, we found our little piece of paradise.

At nearly 11,000 feet, we were gifted with stunning scenery and cold temperatures, especially at night. We arrived, all of five of us with colds and my husband fighting a stomach bug. Our one year old, who is already not known for her sleeping prowess, woke up every hour of the night. All three nights. I would pull her in close to me, feed her, wipe her nose, warm her hands, and she would drift off back into her sweet slumber...until her next wake up, approximately one hour later.

We contemplated packing it all up and going home after the first night. And after the second. But we didn't. We chose to stay. Why? You may ask.

Well, while the nights were downright brutal, the days were equally beautiful, as worn and tired as we were.

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The intangible gifts of witnessing our little lady dig in the dirt and stomp in marshy puddles; of our boys excitedly hunting for minnows and in relentless pursuit of catching small trout with only their nets; soaking in the beauty of the snow-capped peaks standing tall in a circle around us; our boys summoning their imaginations to transform a pile of sticks into superheroes, attributing a super power to each one; the life-giving smells of fresh pine, mountain streams, and a crackling fire - these gifts were both unexpected and priceless.

Our modern American society holds high the value of comfort. We regularly strive to make our lives easier. Convenience, often prioritized over quality, becomes a primary goal.

Now before you throw your best eye roll in my direction, hear me out. In this season of parenthood, I often find myself longing for things to be easier. I've, on more than one occasion, uttered aloud, "why can't this just feel easy?!" And don't get me started on convenience. I'm the queen of Amazon Prime. I often ClickList my groceries. And I like my drive-thru coffee options.

But just because we long for something doesn't mean it's entirely good for us.

You see, while choosing comfort and convenience offers us a sense of safety and ease, it blinds us to opportunities we're not even aware we're missing out on.

There are plenty of times life carries out an assault on our sense of comfort and control, plucking us right out of our comfort zone and dropping us smack dab into the middle of an uncertain, unwanted, and uncomfortable storm.

So, why would we choose to place ourselves there, intentionally?

Three reasons.

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1) Our own discomfort has a way of eliciting empathy for others. Not a forced empathy but an authentic one that naturally rises up out of a personal encounter with pain and discomfort. When we're constantly making things easier for ourselves, we're widening the gap of empathy for and understanding of those for whom life feels hard.

2) Discomfort cultivates a greater appreciation for what we have. Can I just tell you how magnificent my warm, soft bed felt after sleeping (more like laying awake in agony whilst dreaming of sleeping) on the hard, cold ground for three nights? I really can't because it was indescribable. And oh, the long, hot shower washing over me, cleansing the layer of dirt that had covered my body. It's not every day that I stop to give thanks for running water, a roof over my head, and a mattress under my achy body. You better believe I didn't that day.

3) Purposefully placing  ourselves in positions of discomfort adds volume to our reservoir of fortitude. And as you know, a reservoir is a holding space, making itself available for when it's needed most. 

This is a privilege, to have the option of comfort. But when we challenge ourselves to get comfortable with discomfort, we augment the strength from which we have to to draw upon when life drops us, as it inevitably will, into uncomfortable circumstances we don't ask for. And we will discover we're equipped to navigate those storms with more grit and grace than we'd have ever imagined.


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Carseats, Cussing, and Crying - Holding the Brutal and Beautiful of Each Parenting Season


I’m going to pull back the curtain a little today.

My frustration reached it’s peak this morning. As it turns out, the peak was actually a volcano, waiting to erupt with a lava of red hot tears.

It all started when I spent 25 minutes trying to wrangle my daughter’s carseat back together. I choose the word, wrangle, with intention because despite being an inanimate object, that carseat possesses wild capabilities, demanding a full-on workout to coerce it into place. The 25 minute workout made even more stressful by my sweet daughter hovering over me crying, wanting to to be held the entire time. 

I wanted to scream. I may have cussed. More than once. “I can’t wait until she’s old enough to be out of this stupid carseat,” I muttered. 

Did I mention the reason it had to be taken apart? Oh, that’s because my daughter vomited all over it last week on the way to music class.

I finally managed to reassemble the beast of safety correctly and re-installed it in the car, using my full body weight to click it into place. In theory this carseat is supposed to be easier to install than those in the days of old. Let me tell you something, theories are useless to real life moms. I digress. Now running 15 minutes behind, I hoisted my daughter into that beast, buckled her up, and drove her to school.

My exciting plans for my precious few kid-free hours? Hit up the car wash. Last week when I removed the carseat post-pukies to clean it out, I about fell over when I encountered what appeared to be an entire pantry’s worth of snacks smashed all over the backseat. So, I opted to spend my coveted kid-free time vacuuming up crushed goldfish. I thought to myself, ugh, I long for the day when my backseat is clean again.

And just as I vacuumed up the last of the snack crumbs, I discovered the catalyst to my ultimate eruption - gum. On the seat. In multiple places. 

I lost it. The white flag raised high. The tears, they spilled all the way to the goldfish-dotted ground.

Yet, we both know the tears weren’t really about the gum. Or the goldfish. Or the carseat. 

They were about feeling like I can’t do it all. They were about my desire, right or wrong, for just one thing to feel easy. They were about feeling like parts of my world are spinning out of control. They were about my inability to stay on top of everything. They were about doing the hardest job I’ve ever done, a job with little to no acknowledgment or feedback. They were about the stressors of everyday life with kids leaving me feeling like anything but my best self. 

As my tears pooled on the ground, something in me shifted. And my anger gave way to a quiet grief.

It’s as though the acknowledgment of all the brutal parts opened the door for the recognition of the beautiful ones.

And it hit me…

When the goldfish are gone from the backseat, I'll be feeling the absence of my boys, no longer riding around in the car with me recounting their daily highs and lows.

When my daughter has outgrown the Beast of Safety, so too will she have outgrown my arms, and the days of rocking her to sleep with her warm body pressed against mine will be something of the past.

When my floors are devoid of books and toys scattered everywhere, it’ll mean my kids no longer come home from school, settle in, and read me stories about nature’s fiercest predators or the Guinness world record holder for Most Backflips Performed While Swallowing a Sword in One Minute. I kid you not.

When I no longer find bandaid wrappers in the toilet or on the floor right beside the trash can, it will mean my boys are beyond the age when they run straight into my arms at the first sign of an ouchy.

When the days of playing referee to the constant fighting are in my past, so too will be the privilege of bearing daily witness to the love and friendship they share.

When my fridge doors are free from all the sticky finger prints, it’ll mean those fingers have grown big enough to grab their own food as they dash out the door, too busy to sit down and share a meal with me. 

When my daughter no longer stands, arms outstretched, crying out for me, it’ll mean she’s forged her independence and no longer finds her sense of security within the confines of my embrace.

When my days of finding broken crayons in every corner are over, so too will be the days when I receive sweet handwritten notes reading, “I luv you mom. You ar the best mom in the hol wolrd.”

Each and every season of parenting holds both the hard and the rewarding. I don’t want to wish away the brutal parts of any stage, because when they pass, which we know they indeed will, they will take with them the beautiful parts too. 

So, we take the good with the bad. We let it out and we let people in. We acknowledge all of it, the brutal and the beautiful. We feel it and share it. We cuss or pray our way through it. Or in my case, both. We press in and we let go. We delight and we cry. We sing and we yell. We give it our best and we ask for forgiveness. We love deeply and we hold loosely. 

And all together it creates the rich context for this play called life.


Why Women Wait to Come Forward


To some, it may seem sudden and suspect, the droves of women coming out of the woodwork with allegations of sexual assault. 

But for those of us who have been that woman, we recognize it for what it is. 

It begins with one woman weighing both the cost of coming forward {be assured the cost is high} and the cost of remaining silent; deciding in the end that she must bring her story into the light. 

As she does, many women in the same workplace, team, group, or church are watching. What will the outcome be?  Will she be acknowledged and believed? 

And when they see she’s taken seriously, it gives them the courage to stand up and do the same. 

Why do women wait to tell? 

Because the fear they will be dismissed or not believed is valid. 

Because the cost of coming forward is high. 

Because sometimes it’s only in looking back that you realize how much emotional damage has been done. 

Because sometimes courage takes years to surge. 

No, all these women coming forward isn’t a fluke. It isn’t a conspiracy against men.  It’s simply a lifting of the veil to reveal the endemic that’s ravished our society for far too long. 

It’s the formation of a critical mass of women who are collectively shouting, NO, we will not be violated like this anymore.

There Is Nothing Partisan About Sexual Assault


Sexual assault is not a partisan issue, it's a human issue. If you truly believe that women {and men too} are valuable human beings, then out of love for humanity, you believe the violation of one of your fellow humans is wrong. And yet, time and time again, I hear people justifying, "it was only one time;" or rationalizing, "he only touched her breasts, it's not like he raped her;" or simply choosing to overlook it all together, "but we need him in the _______ {company, senate, white house, you fill in the blank}. No. 

What allows someone to justify, rationalize, or overlook something so wrong for the sake of advancing their party? Dehumanization. If we can make the accuser out to be a "liar or a slut or a gold-digging, publicity-seeking whore," then we can look past it, right? If we can distance ourselves from or elevate ourselves over someone, it becomes easier to dismiss the violation of that person.

The minute we stop seeing any person as sharing in our same humanity and no longer see the face of God in that person, we have just dehumanized her {or him}. And, as Brené Brown says, "once a person or group of people is moved outside the circle of moral inclusion, we can do anything to them." Including assault. Including giving a pass to the offender. Including the choice to look the other way.

If we want to see an investigation into the alleged assault by a senator on one side of the aisle then we better damn well not elect a credibly accused offender on the other side. Sexual assault is not a partisan issue and we best not make it one. Left or right, one time or multiple times, old or young - it is all wrong and always wrong - and we must come together and collectively declare it so. 

When Please and Thank You Become a Lesson in Shared Humanity

From potty training to people training, kids cause us to think through all the whys of what we do.


Tonight, as we left our favorite local pizza joint - me with a baby and a pizza in my hands and my boy carrying all of the accoutrements - someone was kind enough to hold the door for us. Because it means the world to a mom with her hands full, I thanked him and my son walked on through without a word.

I gently reminded him that if he feels grateful when someone holds the door for him, he can say thank you. He responded, “I just forgot.”

“It’s ok, we all forget sometimes.” And I went on to explain to him that we don’t say “thank you” because we’re supposed to or because it’s the polite thing to do. We say thank you to show our gratitude. We say thank you because holding the door for someone and offering a thanks in response is a simple exchange at the intersection of our shared humanity.

That guy who held the door for us - I don’t know how he voted or what he believes or if he’s pro-this or anti-that. None of that mattered in the moment. What I do know is that he saw someone who needed a little help and he stepped in. I also know that I felt grateful for the help. As Brenè Brown would say, “that’s what is true between us.”

Mac N Cheese Please: A Lesson in Understanding Differences


Who knew mac n cheese could be so controversial? As a child, my memories of mac n cheese include only my mother’s carefully crafted homemade concoction with real white cheddar bubbling up along the sides of a CorningWare dish. That is until the summer of my eighth year when I joined a friend’s family for dinner. Her mother placed a bowl of elbow noodles coated in a bright, almost fluorescent, orange liquid in front of me - a far cry from sauce, in my young opinion. In all innocence, I asked, “what do you call this meal?” Her mom, looking puzzled, responded, “Well dear, it’s macaroni and cheese. Haven’t you ever had it before?” 


I stared at my bowl dumbfounded, silently questioning how anyone could call this mac n cheese? Nevertheless, I politely ate the orange noodles masquerading as macaroni and cheese. Years later I would understand that when prompted with the words, "mac n cheese", not everyone envisions a baked noodle casserole oozing with real cheese. Some people picture the word, Kraft, written across a blue box.

From an early age we become accustomed to the food, traditions, and styles introduced in our homes. The whats, hows, and whys of life are initially shaped by that which is familiar and framed by what takes place in our families. Our earliest memories are likely peppered with the foods, styles, and traditions around which our families were centered. If those memories are positive, when confronted with an idea outside of what's familiar, the memory is often viewed as negative. To encounter a foreign way of doing something is to lift the veil, exposing our limited thinking. 

Is boxed mac n cheese wrong? Of course not. There's no right and wrong when it comes to noodles and cheese, only subjective opinion. But my reaction to the noodles from a box coated in orange told me otherwise. It felt wrong, because it was different.

Does homemade mac n cheese taste better than its boxed counterpart? I’d answer with an emphatic “heck yeah.” That is unless I’m pregnant. When with child there’s something about that powdered cheese that I crave. As it turns out, people hold some pretty strong opinions when it comes to noodles and cheese. Some prefer it homemade, some the gourmet alternative such as lobster mac n cheese, and some feel comforted by the boxed version.

These preferences may be based in familiarity, taste, or even convenience. I may have looked down my nose at that Kraft mac n cheese as a kid, but now as busy mom, there are nights where I say, give me the box. Sometimes convenience trumps taste as the reigning value of the moment.

So, the next time I find myself faced with a situation or idea that feels strange, I’m going to run it through the mac n cheese test - does it feel weird simply because it’s different or unfamiliar to me? If I acknowledge that my aversion to an idea is connected to my lack of familiarity with it, then I might view it with more openness and less disdain. If I learn more about a tradition or way of doing something, and why others choose it, my circle of familiarity expands. And perhaps, like boxed mac n cheese, I might even choose it myself some day. 






The Lost Art of Sitting Still

The kids are back in school. And for me, that means I have relinquished responsibility for two thirds of my charges for approximately 6.8 hours per day. Not that I'm counting. 

The combo of summer break and three kids gave me a run for my money. I kept my head above water but just barely, as I described here. But suddenly, my daughter started sleeping through the night which happened to coincide with the start of the school year, and I feel like a new woman. I can breathe.

So, during my first week of freedom, err the boys being back in school, I decided to take advantage of a chunk of time between clients and go sit by a lake. And by sit, I mean only sit. Typically, if I take the time to sit by a lake I am also doing something else like eating or reading or sending emails or scrolling Facebook. Because let's face it, my life is one long massive string of multitasking moments. 

But I decided I would see if I could just sit. Still. For five minutes. When do I ever do that anymore? Never. I mean, when sitting down to a meal by myself which is rare in and of itself, I am usually also doing something on my phone. When I watch tv, I'm folding clothes, ordering clothes, or online attending to some details in my tinies' lives. Even when I pray, I'm usually also showering, running, driving etc... Multitasking. Always. So, there, on the park bench I just sat.


You guys, it was hard. Really hard. My mind kept wandering. I started fidgeting with my fitbit. I meal-planned for the week in my head. I struggled to turn everything off. But as I sat and stared, I began to sink into the moment. I observed a host of cool cloud formations dancing in the sky. I witnessed geese splashing about. I soaked up the beauty of sunflowers standing tall, waving in the wind. I sat.

And for five minutes of my day, I felt like a human being rather than a human doing.

I think I will practice this art more often. When was the last time you sat still for 5 minutes or more?

Be still and know that I am God.

Swimming in the Sea of Three

Though it feels like a lifetime ago, I vividly remember nearly every detail of my first triathlon. My excitement was palpable, as were my nerves. Having spent my first decade and a half on swim team, I was most looking forward to the swim portion of the race.

But the morning of the triathlon ushered in a wind so unruly and fierce, whipping the water of the Boulder Reservoir up into actual waves with whitecaps. Standing in the wild waves, swim cap and goggles in place, I awaited the sound of the whistle, signaling the start of the race.

And like that, we were off, our bodies cutting through the angry water. But the waves, they were intense, churning me about, threatening to suck me under at any moment. While I remained afloat, barely, every stroke felt like it zapped the energy of five.

As I rounded the last buoy and headed for the shore, my muscles were voicing the soft cry of fatigue, and I questioned my ability to complete the bike and run that were to follow. I dragged my tired body out of the water and willed myself to the transition area where I prepared for the bike portion of the race. And one pedal, one mile, one step at a time, I completed the bike and the run, and thus the race.

It wasn't pretty, and it certainly wasn't enjoyable every moment of the way. In fact, brutal might be my descriptor of choice, but I was buoyed by a deep sense of contentment as I pushed through each hard moment, and crossed the finish line with an explosion of pure joy.

Fast forward to my life today, the one in which I find myself adjusting to three kids, a whirlwind of activity, and a life always on the move. When people ask me how it's going with three kids, I can't help but remember that first triathlon. 

Life today feels much like my effort to swim through the choppy water of the Boulder Res on that day long ago. Life with three -  I'm constantly being churned about by a stormy sea, trying desperately to stay afloat, while the threat of drowning feels altogether real. And though I'm thoroughly fatigued, I'm still in it, doing it, day after day, filled with a strange sense of peace and contentment as I go. It's wild and unpredictable; challenging and exhausting. And I wouldn't trade it for anything.

Not too long ago, at the end of a wonderfully packed but loooong day with the kids, Tom asked me if I wanted him to go out and get some wine. I quickly snapped, "NOOOO. I want to go. All by myself, with no human attached to me."

So I went, I browsed, and I lingered, admiring all of the pretty, shiny labels. I assembled a lovely case of wine and prepared myself to head back to my den of chaos. When I pulled into my driveway, I just sat there, staring up at the stars, giving myself a much needed pep talk to exit the car. 

I opened the door to the house, only to be greeted by my 5 yr old donning mismatched pjs, a pair of underwear on his head fashioned like a superhero helmet, and displaying a tongue so green it could only be described as phospho luminescent.

Somebody who shall remain nameless, thought it was a good idea to let him use **liquid** food coloring {I meant the color decorating gel when I said he could use food coloring} to decorate his freshly made cookies. Face palm. 

I was also quickly informed that his brand new white shirt had become a canvas for said green food coloring, but that Dad had applied some stain remover and it was already soaking as we spoke. Husband had handled it. Thank God. I mean that literally, because while it's all funny now {especially because the stain came out - thank you, OxiClean}, in that moment, I felts as though I had no capacity to handle it, certainly not well anyway. I was simply too exhausted in every way. 

It's not even that any one of my kids is particularly difficult. It's the sheer number of them that does me in.

And I know, three is not a large number, but it is one more than I had before, so I'm being stretched in new ways. There's one more to feed; one more to schedule doctor appointments for; one more to do laundry for {oh, the laundry}; there are now three kids who could potentially burrow their way into our bed at night; and three kids with near constant needs and whose wants are always intersecting with moods, producing a mountain of big feelings. Big feelings everywhere.

It often feels like there aren't enough hours in the day nor energy in my tank to address all of the needs and big feelings in a way that feels right to me. 

I recently explained to Tom how I'm someone who tends to live in the present. Most of my time is spent living not in the past nor the future, but in the here and now.

And life with kids presents a serious challenge to my way of living because it's as though I'm engaged in a never ending game of chess, requiring me to think three moves ahead at all times.  

I'm always strategizing - how can I get the groceries, feed the baby, fold the laundry, call the client, prep the dinner, call the doctor, and get the baby some unwanted tummy time, and feed the her again, all before afternoon school pick-ups begin.

This is the life of any parent, and the addition of each child brings a new normal with added layers of planning and responsibility. The constant need to plan ahead wreaks havoc on my natural desire to live in the here and now.

I don't know how people with 4 or 5 or 6 kids do it, except that I do. Because they tell me, "we just do it. It's what we know," which is exactly what I used to say when asked how I managed with a 17 month old and a newborn. I just did it.

And isn't that the truth for all of us, for whatever challenging circumstances we find ourselves in?

We just do it. We just keep putting one foot in front of the other, we keep going, tired and weary, but nevertheless clinging to the hope that buoys our being and pressing on until we cross the finish line. 

And while there are now three children to think about, whose needs must be met, it means there are also three children who fill my heart with love - three healthy children to give thanks for; three wildly different personalities; three children who make me smile and laugh daily; three children whose growth and development I get to play witness to.

These are but a few of the positive intangibles in a world of easy-to-decribe negative tangibles. 

So, while I may be exhausted, swimming in my sea of three, it's a contented kind of exhaustion, and I will just keep swimming, because I wouldn't have it any other way. My hands are full, but oh, so is my heart.

I Will Rise Up: An Ode to Moms Everywhere

Darkness had swallowed up the last of the day as I sat in the Chick-Fil-A parking lot with my three kids, monitoring a possible anaphylactic reaction. As the lone adult, I agonized over the decision whether or not to Epi-pen my 6 year old, contemplating a drive to the hospital or a call to 911; alternatively, I thought, maybe he's ok and I should just drive home and monitor him for the night. Of course, my husband, Tom, was out of the country and at dinner with work colleagues, so I couldn't reach him, despite my 11 attempts to do so.

I stared at the red patches on my son's neck, listening to his sudden cough, and noting his complaints of a stomach ache - all three, mirroring the symptoms of his last anaphylactic reaction. Yet, it seemed different this time. The coughing could be explained by his running around. The redness on his neck wasn't exactly hives, it was simply red. His cough appeared to be settling down. Unsure of my next move, I started driving home, EpiPen in hand, hurling questions at my son for the duration of the drive.

My husband called as we were pulling into the driveway. I explained the situation in detail. After asking me follow-up questions, he uttered a statement that landed on me with the force of a thousand pounds of concrete, "I trust you to make the decision." NOOOOOOO. No. No. No. I didn't want to be the one to make the decision. To be the sole person making a judgment call regarding my child's life or death {for context, we almost lost him once, which you can read about here} is decidedly the most lonely and weighty place in the world for me. I really didn't know what to do and I didn't want to be the one to make the decision. But, I was the Mom, the adult in charge, and I had to make the call. I had to rise up and face the situation head on. And then I had to live with whatever decision I made.

Once home, his cough completely subsided and according to him, his stomach didn't hurt anymore. Listening to my gut, I decided not to administer the EpiPen, choosing to monitor him through the night. He and the baby spent the night in my room. He slept like a champ. Me, I didn't sleep a wink. 

My counseling practice is called Rise and Shine Counseling, not because it's a cute little saying, but because of the powerful image it represents. Much like the sun at dawn, people everywhere are rising up in the darkness and learning how to shine. As moms, we do this every day, literally and figuratively. We rise up, weary and sleep-deprived, from our beds, often at the beckoning cry of our little humans rubbing their hungry tummies. We rise up day after day to meet the needs of our families. We rise up in small, mundane ways, which we hope in turn, send big, life-long messages of love. And we rise up in the darkest of situations to, as Bruce Cockburn writes, "kick at the darkness until it bleeds light." 

Photo Credit: Karis Jordan

Photo Credit: Karis Jordan

When compiling a playlist for my daughter's recent birth, I chose mostly calm, instrumental music, but I also added a handful of songs that spoke to me in the deepest of ways. By far the most powerful to me was, Andra Day's Rise Up {listen to it here}. To this day, I cannot hear it without sobbing big, heavy tears and chills covering my body, as I imagine women everywhere rising up.

I think about exhausted moms, sacrificially driving their kids from one activity to another, ensuring they have clean uniforms to wear and nourishing food to eat. As they stand on the sidelines in the heat of the day, cheering on their children, these moms silently mourn and celebrate at the very same time, considering the growing independence of these humans who have been in their care for so long. They're plagued by wonder - did they make the right decisions for their kids, did they spend enough time with them, did they push them enough, did they push them too hard, and on and on.

You’re broken down and tired
Of living life on a merry go round
And you can’t find the fighter
But I see it in you so we gonna walk it out
And move mountains
We gonna walk it out
And move mountains

I think about my mom friends who because of unexpected obstacles facing their kids, are now attempting to navigate the world of the NICU, autism, hearing loss, heart defects, sensory processing disorder, and hip dysplasia, among others. They rise up each and every day, tirelessly hunting down resources and advocating for their beloved children. There is nothing they wouldn't do for their kids and yet, there are days when they wish this wasn't their mountain to climb.

I think about the moms I know who just received word of a devastating diagnosis, those battling depression, and those busting their entrepreneurial tails trying to bring in extra cash for their families. You are all warriors, warriors who keep rising.

And I’ll rise up
I’ll rise like the day
I’ll rise up
I’ll rise unafraid
I’ll rise up
And I’ll do it a thousand times again
And I’ll rise up
High like the waves
I’ll rise up
In spite of the ache
I’ll rise up
And I’ll do it a thousands times again
For you

I think about my dear friend who held her husband as he died in her arms. In spite of the unfathomable ache, she went on to rise up over and over again. She led her two young girls forward and learned how to embrace the both/and by embracing the grief as they remembered him and the hope as they created a new life for themselves without him. 

When the silence isn’t quiet
And it feels like it’s getting hard to breathe
And I know you feel like dying
But I promise we’ll take the world to its feet
And move mountains
We’ll take it to its feet
And move mountains

I think of moms who suddenly find themselves parenting solo, for one reason or another. Laying alone and utterly exhausted, in their bedroom, they question where they now fit in the social structure of their world and they wonder how they will muster the strength to face another day.

 I think about Syrian moms, displaced by war, fighting with every ounce of their being to find shelter and food for their frightened babies, unsure of where to go or what to do next.

Photo Credit: Yunny Wolff

Photo Credit: Yunny Wolff

I think of moms of adopted children, who want so desperately for their kids to know in every corner of their beings how absolutely loved they are. These moms, going to great lengths to build bridges with birth parents or seek support for their kids still suffering the impact of trauma.

I think of moms who find the darkness still banging at their doors as they grieve the loss of a child(ren) and fight through the ache that never seems to fully go away. And I think of the women who are moms in their hearts, who yearn to be moms in their bodies, but whose dreams go unfulfilled month after month.

I think of the moms who lay in bed at night, smothered in a blanket of self-criticism, as they reflect on the ways they let their frustration and irritability seep out into the day.

And I’ll rise up
I’ll rise like the day
I’ll rise up
I’ll rise unafraid
I’ll rise up

It's only when we face the darkness, that we can rise up into the light and fight. It's the very acknowledgment of the darkness - of our own pain, weakness, uncertainty, and fear - that allows us to rise up and forge a path forward with a love so fierce. As Paul Coelho writes, "The strongest love is love that can demonstrate our frailty." Even with doubt and ache as our companions, we keep going. We keep waking to receive the grace that is life and breath itself. We keep leaning into the hope that we have. We keep rising, with the strength of the one who rose from the deepest darkness. 

Moms are rising up everywhere, everyday, in every kind of darkness. And on this Mother's Day, with tears in my eyes and admiration in my heart, I celebrate you. Well done, Mama. Keep rising.