Morning, dearies. It’s been a rough week but I’m hoping this piece will bring some light into the world. Right at two weeks ago I devoured the audible edition of Rainn Wilson’s memoir The Bassoon King. This book is superb and if it was possible for me to become best friends with the author I would absolutely make every effort. I’ve admired his work creating Soul Pancake since its creation and reading this book I discovered what a truly amazing person Rainn Wilson is.
Near the close of the text, Wilson writes “10 Things I Know for Sure” and challenges the reader to do the same. I immediately knew I wanted to take this challenge but I decided to save it for a bit. Yesterday I knew it was time. So here, dear ones, are ten things I know for sure. Rainn, if you ever read this – I hope it makes you proud.
1. I have three amazing and beautiful sons.
These boys are the light of my life and the motivating force behind the largest changes of my life. I have become healthier for them, kinder for them, and my faith in God as well as humanity have been transformed by their existence. At 5, 4, and very soon to be 1, they are unfailingly kind, beautifully sensitive, and purely happy in a way that reminds you how we all could live our lives. They are our future and I am teaching them to be better than generations that came before them. They are taught to love everyone, to be friends with everyone, and to mind their manners because kindness is what should make our world go ‘round and yet there never seems to be enough of it.
2. The Bible is right in 1 Corinthians 13:13.
“Three things will last forever – faith, hope, and love – and the greatest of these is love.” No matter the trauma or division we may face, these three things can withstand it all. As long as even one person in the world wakes up each morning and walks out to share it with the world – we’ll never be lost. Yesterday I was an emotional wreck taking my oldest to school and just wanted to stay in bed, but that is not an option when you’re a parent. I got him dropped off and then fulfilled a promise to the second wee one to take him for a cake pop at Starbucks. Sitting in a long line, I finally came to the window to discover there was a pay it forward chain happening that had been going on for about an hour. I smiled and told the cashier to keep it going as I paid the tab of the woman behind me, buying her coffee and breakfast, with the sentiment, “I think we all need a little extra love today.” As the day progressed, I rediscovered my reserves of hope and faith in my fellow man, because even though we may take a hit here and there … faith, hope, and love will always be in your corner waiting with a warm embrace.
3. Wishing for someone to fail means you’re failing at being a good person.
This applies to so much more than what is going on this week, but I’ll start there anyway. I’m not thrilled about the election results – but I’m praying with everything I’ve got that somehow this man can end up surprising us. Wishing for him to fail is wishing for our country to fail. In any case, it’s time we begin our own part of the work. It’s time our generation learns what political activism is and learns about the fight of changing the world and protecting those who need it. We have been spoiled guys, let’s not mince words. We have not put in effort to fighting for change like some of the generations who came before and have largely been a generation of cynicism and inaction. Now it’s time to turn over a new leaf in more ways than one. We need to fight for what’s right – but we need to do it with love as well as work. Social media vents are great and all but we have to realize that we are adults now. In the midst of all that wine and pumpkin spice latte adulting, we have to actually adult! We need to remember that those brilliant architects of change did it with love, kindness, and simply not giving up. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke of choosing love over hate. Gandhi spoke of satyagraha – a love force of action through non-violence. We make the world a better place by being better people. Don’t wish failure on someone, send out love in the world while you work for change and keep hoping.
4. Books will always be there for you.
While I was struggling with anxiety attacks and emotional meltdowns, my current read was alwaysthere for me to provide distraction. Books give ideas, they fuel revolution, they encourage discussion, they show us worst case scenarios and how to fight back to make ourselves whole again. Books are the single greatest gift in the history of our species. Read up on your history, revive your wounded heart with a beautiful love story, or grab a book to learn about the perspective of communities you are not a member of – learn! Those magical tomes are there to provide you with joy, comfort, and insight. Embrace them.
5. You can love someone without liking them.
I do not agree with the opinions of all my friends and family. My husband and I can really get into it on some issues. However, I long ago decided that our disagreements don’t have to end our relationships. We can respect one another while thinking the other is totally wrong. This is what we need to learn as a society. We can disagree and still treat one another with love for our fellow human. Disdain, hatred, and condescension have no place in a world that intends to repair itself. Those things lead only to further separation and anger. We can learn to love our fellow human if we remember that key element: we are all human. Meet your brother and sister Earthlings with a healthy dose of compassion and perhaps we can start to finally put to bed some of this division.
6. Remembering thankfulness takes effort – but it’s possible.
On my darkest days, I know there is always something to be thankful for. There have been a great many bad things that happened in my life and I’ve certainly taken on my fair share of pain. That being said, I try to think every day of at least one thing that I am grateful for. Sometimes it’s as simple and broad as “my family.” Other times, like the day my dad died last year, I realized I was thankful for being 7 months pregnant with my third son because I knew I was never totally alone even in the moments where I was and I believe with all my heart that God knew I’d need Gaelan as well as my other sons and my husband to get through my dad’s death. On that day in September, I didn’t want to think about what I was thankful for – and to be honest I didn’t really think much about it until I was driving alone to the airport that night to pick up the rest of my little family. In that moment alone in my parents’ car on a dark county road in Florida… I knew why we had gotten surprised with the news of a third baby as I sat in a doctor’s office for an appointment to get an IUD. I knew why he needed to come now and not possibly 5 years from now as we had discussed hypothetically. I was and am so, so thankful.
7. Relationships are hard. And that’s okay.
I saw a tumblr/meme-post on Facebook a while back that was talking about how relationships and marriage aren’t supposed to be hard and that if it’s hard you obviously haven’t found the right person. First of all – are you kidding me? The sheer mountain of dumbassery behind this statement cracks me up. I have been with my husband for a decade this coming spring. Our relationship has never been easy: long distance has been a factor from the beginning and still is 6.5 years into our marriage, among other things that are just simply realities when you’re in a long term relationship with someone and learning to accept each other’s faults. However, it has always been worth it. My husband was with me for 7 years before I was willing to admit my traumas and seek therapy. Talk about loving someone through sickness and health. Once I fell in love with him – there was no question that he was the person I wanted to be with for the rest of my life. It was as simple and matter of fact as coming home. He helped to make me whole again from being the shattered woman I was when we met. Every day I’ve been with him is a day I’ve been better for having him in my life because he makes me want to be the best version of myself. For him it was as simple as knowing he needed me in his life. He always tells friends, “If you want to know whether she’s the right girl to marry, think of the things you hate about her. The things that drive you absolutely insane. And then think about whether you can truly love her if those things never get any better or maybe get worse. If you can accept those parts of her and still want her for life – you love her enough to marry her.” Marriage is hard. And it’s supposed to be. I don’t know why we have this idea that it’s not, but that’s nonsense. It’s a conscious choice to live and actively love one person for the rest of your lives, and not letting that die or fade away in the face of other relationships that could be hypothetically new and easy is work. But if that person is worth it – then there’s never a question as to what you need to do. The hard is what makes it great.
8. “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”
I’ve said this to people since I was in high school, often simply referring to it as the Law of Bambi. We need more kindness in this world, ladies and gents. The constant criticism and general climate of hate and anger that tinge our days have got to go. We judge others for the most nonsensical things that have no effect on our own lives whatsoever so that we can metaphorically lift ourselves a step or two higher on the ladder of our minds. We don’t have to do that. We can choose to be kind and to help those we come in contact with or offer words of love to strangers. We can buy the coffee of the person behind us or purchase a gift card to hand to someone in the grocery store and help ease their financial load. We can complement someone or offer a mom a comment of solidarity and support as she’s dealing with an upset child (or children – I’ve had those days, Mama). We can be better people and improve the lives we pass through with kindness.
9. I am not “that mom.” I am that “other mom.”
I am not that mom who has her shit together. I am the mom of three kids running all over the place with a wrecked house, laundry piled up, and who is always forgetting at least two things on my to do list. I am not the mom who wears makeup every day. I am the mom who has a mohawk and multiple visible tattoos, who lets her children wear clothing of their choice provided it’s weather appropriate, and actively allows them to make some pretty dumb decisions so that they can learn lessons the hard way. I am the mom who most parents tend to step away from because I don’t look like them and is okay with it. I'm also the mom who counts love and kindness as values paramount to almost anything else and teaches her kids to do the same. I am the mom who encourages my kid to be friends with everyone, especially a kid who's getting picked on or needs some help. I long ago accepted that I was going to be that mom and I really don’t care. I’m fine with being able to serve the purpose of reminding my actual friends (who are now becoming moms as well) when things genuinely don’t matter and they’re letting mommy pressures take over their brain. I’m the off-brand mom who is the antithesis of helicopter parenting and I’m proud to fill that gap in your lives. *insert thumbs up here*
10. If you’re gonna be stupid, ya gotta be tough.
This gem was basically my dad’s life slogan. I have heard it endlessly since childhood and now realize how brilliant it is. I’m okay with making mistakes or choices that others don’t agree with because I make my life decisions purposely, willing to accept whatever consequences may come my way. I’m okay with your judgment because I don’t care. I made my decisions for what is right in my life. I have learned that for any decision, if I’m willing to pay the worst case scenario consequences then no one needs to cast their vote since they aren’t involved. My dad, with his little Allen-ism here, taught his daughters to be firmly independent. My mom had a large hand in this as well, but this little saying has been a big part of our lives and I’d be lying if I gave it any less credit.
So there we go – in all its rambling glory, 10 things I know for sure.