Monthly Archives: June 2014

You Are Wrong When You’re Mean, It’s That Simple ~ Michelle Church

As pleasant and benign as I imagine I am in Michelle Church, I make people feel uncomfortable. Painfully transparent, I admit that I have questions, I have doubts and sometimes I want to stand up in the middle of, really, any  group that insists it has the only answers anywhere ever, no questions and no place for questions – and scream, “Hey! Don’t break The First Rule!”*

I’m not saying no one has the answers, I’m not saying there’s not a side to the story that is true (though I doubt that anything is so black and white), I’m simply saying that even if you are right, there is no reason to break The First Rule.*

The other day I was sitting in The Apple Store, biding my time and saying a little prayer that I wouldn’t get a parking ticket and cruising Facebook, when a friend posted this status:

“I think there is a great sifting happening in the world. And I can’t help but wonder if which “side” you end up on has less to do with your stated alliances, and more to do with the way you speak about those you perceive as “other”.”

And I said a silent “Amen.” And I was only silent about it because I was at the downtown store and there were an inordinate amount of police around and I didn’t want to appear crazier than I normally appear which can, in fact, seem quite a bit crazy. But I totally wanted to say it out loud. Really loud. Loud enough to get arrested at the Apple Store.

You see, I have friends from all walks of life. I have extremely conservative friends and I have remarkably liberal friends as well. I have Mormon friends and Catholics and quite a few Jewish friends.

I have friends who remain religiously unaffiliated, kind of looking at life and taking it all in without judgments. I like them all. They are all quite lovable and have amazing strengths and insights. I’m a lucky girl.

But the world is a complicated place and as I walk through this life with all sorts of people as my companions, I cannot help but become incredibly uncomfortable with angry sides being taken over important issues. I cannot see how I will ever influence others to my views if in trying to do so I belittle them. I don’t believe in catching flies with vinegar. For that matter, I try not to hang out with flies at all. It’s just not my thing.

And so, my friends, all of you from all walks of life with all sorts of opinions and beliefs and ways of living your lives, carry on. Live your life and your morals with all the might and gusto you have. Live free and unfettered of other people’s beliefs for you. I commend you. But for the love of all things that are good and holy, for the best of all of God’s creations, please allow everyone else to do the same without vitriol and viciousness.

Can I get an Amen?

*An indelicate rule, The First Rule, is, nonetheless, applicable to ALL circumstances.       The First Rule: Don’t be sh*tty.

Like it, share it, tweet it and comment on it. And be kind and gentle as you do so.

Hedonism On A Saturday? Don’t Mind If I Do ~ A List Of Ten Things

I love me some weekend. I love the open schedule, the disregard for obligation. I love sleeping in and yes, I love brunch. I’m not ashamed to admit it.

To that end, I think I’ll have a bit ‘o that today if you don’t mind. Here are ten things I recommend for your bliss filled weekend:

  1. Brunch. I said it before and I’m saying it again. Deliciousness at an odd hour. Have a bagel and lox on me.
  2. Chick flicks. They’re sappy. They make us feel happy. They’re a good excuse to eat popcorn and cry.
  3. Doing the crossword puzzle. It’s a good Sunday activity but why not do it on Saturday as well? They’re that good.
  4. Pizza with friends. Make it good pizza though. Gourmet. Maybe even at brunch.
  5. Go for a long drive with no destination. During the week this would “drive” (hehe) me crazy, but not on a Saturday. Saturday’s are different.
  6. Go outside and tend to a garden. Even if it’s at the park. Touch some grass, dead head some roses, make a little time for nature.
  7. Though it seems counter-intuitive, do some things on your to do list that you’ve been putting off. There’s something deliciously refreshing about clearing something from a list.
  8. Call an old friend. Out of the blue. Just for fun.
  9. Art! The weekend was specially devised by God for art creation. I’m certain of it.
  10. Bubble bath the day away. You usually don’t have time for it, but it soothes the body and it soothes the soul.

Do It!

Like it, love it, speak well of it.

You’re Not As Smart As You Think You Are ~ Unless…

You think you’re pretty smart. Admit it. I think I’m smart too. Really smart. Until… until all hell starts breaking loose and I turn left and hit a wall and I turn right and hit a wall and soon enough I can’t tell up from down or in from out. And it hurts.

I try hard not to preach meditation. Not because I’m shy about it, more because there are other, louder preachers and if you’re not into it, not ready for it, you’re just not going to want to hear that particular sermon. I get that.

And yet, today I preach.

The interesting thing about meditation is that it’s not a linear benefit you get from it. One day, you may feel like you make exponential forward movement and there may be months it seems you’re going nowhere. You might find it benefits your concentration in one moment and the other you may find your food is so much more flavorful, so tasty, so fulfilling.

It’s a mixed bag and there’s no order of benefit. You get what you get and you get it when you get it. No complaining.

meditationOne of the benefits I’m experiencing, or I should say, starting to experience, is that as I take the moments to breathe and be with myself, I am starting to hear better the voice of intuition, or the still, small Voice, if you will.

The reason I insist on the caveat of “starting” is that at this point I am recognizing it only after the fact. In my perfect world, were I able to order up the benefits I specifically desire from meditation, I would order up “complete connection”. I would hear the voice of intellect and inspiration without missing a beat.

“Oh!” I would say, “I should listen to that voice. It’s my friend. It is pure wisdom without the shackles of lifelong filters. I’m in. I recognize and respect. I win.”

Instead what happens is that I make mistakes and after the fact I realize I knew something wasn’t right. I heard the voice, I just wasn’t listening hard enough. I didn’t yet recognize it for the powerful tool it is.

There is no doubt in my mind is I take the time to be quiet, as I breathe more deeply and simply observe the world without judgment, without preconceived expectation, I will eventually hear that voice sooner and stronger.

So today, were I ordained to preach, I would preach meditation, in whatever form you might choose, however long you might choose it. And I would preach it so that you might strengthen your relationship with Yourself, your Inner Voice, with the loving and benevolent Universe.

Yeah, that’s what I’d preach today.

Like, share, tweet, comment, take a deep breathe or two and ohm your day away.

Literal Highway Robbery ~ Road Trip 2014 A List Of Ten Things

With a bit of trepidation and a heart full of hope, my youngest child and I hit the open road early Sunday morning. We went for adventure. We searched for the meaning of life. The ultimate goal was to get some driving miles under a 15 year old’s belt. Boom! Mission accomplished.

What’s fabulous and not so fabulous about a good, old fashioned road trip is that regardless of the year, or even the century, some things never change.

And here are ten of them:

  1. The scream face from the EMP Museum in Seattle. Art or Life?
    The scream face from the EMP Museum in Seattle. Art or Life?

    Teens and parents, parents and teens. We will always struggle with communication. We will always look at each other and think to ourselves, “You kind of don’t get it.” It’s mutual. Get over it.

  2. Road trips are bonding experiences. Good and bad, funny and difficult. They have bonding written all over them. In blood and tears.
  3. Regardless of the number of stars beside the name of a hotel, there’s no bed better than the one at home.
  4. After a while, road food gets old (except for maybe that huckleberry funnel cake at the amusement park).
  5. The cost of a road trip is always surprising.
  6. No matter the advances our society makes, there are still highway bandits. There was a little business with a fake reservation online business which equaled no room reservation and $125 down the drain after 7 hours of driving… Highway robbery. Literally.
  7. Maybe we call them “playlists” today, back in the day it was a good mix tape, either way, road tune-age makes the drive so much more fun… “B-b-b-Benny and the jetssssssss…”
  8. There has to be at least one argument on the trip. We saved ours for the last day. Just
    Wait, was it the EMP Museum or the last 24 hours of our trip? I forget.
    Wait, was it the EMP Museum or the last 24 hours of our trip? I forget.

    so it didn’t weigh on the rest of the adventure. You have to plan for these things.

  9. It always strikes me as ironic that during the time of year we’re doing the most traveling they’re doing the most roadwork. Seriously, rock blasting? And it’s going to last an hour? But really it lasted 2 ½? In the middle of nowhere? Here’s to ADVENTURE!
  10. When you’re done with the road trip, no matter how good the company or how exciting the destinations, you’re done. You can’t get home fast enough.

I told Chase that all in all (regardless of the more than traumatic final 24 hours) it was a successful venture and by the end of the summer we should talk about going on another road trip. Staring straight ahead at the road, as all good drivers should, he simply shook his head and said, “It’s too soon, mom. Too soon.”

Like, share, tweet and comment about your fabulous road adventures. Good times… Good times…

Why Don’t You Understand Me?

I think of myself as a good communicator. Indeed, when people ask about my relationship to Mr Dreamboat I often site good communication as one of the keys. But I fear that may not be exactly true.

Communication is a sticky wicket. The subtleties of body language, culture, subculture, sex, age and mood can turn any sentence from friendly to hostile to joking to indecipherable. Toss on a hot plate of electronic communication complete with lol’s and jk’s and humans become nearly inscrutable.

The other day I commented on the post of a friend. She was frustrated by something that frustrated me too and my sarcasm and support didn’t translate. I received a personal message with a sincere inquiry as to why I was hostile. Then I answered and again I was unclear in my response, further muddying the waters of civil communication. So much for my self designated status as a good communicator.

Further still, I am spending a good deal of time with my youngest child on a road trip. It seems I have befuddled him from the time he was young with my metaphors and similes. He’s sort of a literal guy and sometimes he can’t figure out if I’m proud of or angry at him. My bad. Totally my bad.

But the truth is I am not alone in my struggle. No matter how adept we are at stringing words together for others, there is inevitably a disconnect as they leave our mouths or fingers or phones – until they reach the intended receiver and even that is sometimes up in the air. However well the message may be crafted there is always a chance the receiver won’t even get it.

Poor, sorry humans.

But we are not without hope. Where there is a desire to communicate clearly there is often a desire to receive the messages as they are intended.

After a few awkward moments I begged forgiveness and blamed my head cold for my poor communication via Facebook. My friend graciously forgave me and I deleted my poorly constructed comment.

My 15 year old son is and has always been generous in forgiving me. And I will continue to try and say what I mean in a way that others might understand my heart. Perhaps it’s the most important work we’ll ever do on this earth, to try and know others as they are and try to be known as we truly are.

It’s going to take some effort, my friends, but the payoff is boundless.

Like, tweet, share, comment and for the love of all that is holy do it all in a way that communicates exactly what you mean!

This Is What Happens When You Let Your 15 Year Old Drive…

Yesterday I sat in the passenger seat of my car as my 15 year old son navigated his way into adulthood. I was certainly there coaching him through the busy streets of Seattle, but as we got further and further from the city and the roads straightened out, I directed less and watched him confidently maneuver the car, making choices about stops, speed and lane changes.

It’s an interesting process to bring a little person into this world and ultimately send them out into it alone. It is said that mothering is the only job where, if you do it correctly, your position is eventually unnecessary.

I think everyone needs a mom, but it’s certainly true that we work ourselves out of the full-time position into something more like a figure-head.  I’m not sorry to admit that I like that part of it. I like the part where they need me less and we are free to be friends and there is an ease to the relationship that can only happen when we are more peers than we once could have been.

We’re not there yet for my younger children but I am happily enjoying the process. Even in the car. Even in Seattle.

While I will always have input into the lives of these beings who are becoming more and more autonomous, I realize now that the most powerful influence I ever had, or ever will have is love.

I have done my best (though I have admittedly biffed it from time to time) to love them when they pleased me and to love them even harder when they displeased me. I hope they know that this trend will continue into eternity.  You’d have to ask them.

While this concept is certainly true with children, I think it is simply a truth and so it is applicable to many situations in life. It is love that influences, love that creates dialog, love that will eventually bridge gaps that seem too wide to cross. It is powerful beyond censure, beyond exclusion and certainly beyond punishment.

heart treeI will admit to you that these thoughts are not exclusive to the process I am going through in parenting. I am watching things evolve in this world and while I find it a wonderful and magical place most of the time, sometimes I wonder where the love goes. I wonder why people become so caustic and angry and unkind to one another.

That’s when I remind myself I am not in the driver’s seat. I never really was. All I can do is exercise the bit of influence I have in my little circle and remember that the most powerful influence I have is… well, it’s like I said, it’s love.

Let’s do more of that. Yeah. Let’s do more of that.

Like, share, tweet, comment and love the hell out of everyone with whom you come into contact. Amen.

It Is My Birthday Today ~ So I Give You My Heart

Today is my birthday. It is the 47th time I have celebrated the privilege of taking deep gulps of air, freshly delivered by the green things of this world.

It is the completion of 47 years. Seventeen thousand, one hundred and fifty five days. Each of them unique and challenging and exciting, or possibly mundane. Oh, and there were the jail days. Those were painful and long and distinctive with a clenched fist in my chest where once I had a heart.

And even so, they were all my days. They were baby steps toward today and all the days that will follow it. And so they were magical. They were brilliant.

They are footprints all over my heart, my ragged, beaten up heart. The heart that beat every minute of every day that I have lived, and with luck and a few super foods, will continue on for another 17,155 days or perhaps even more.

That same heart that fell in love with the man of my dreams. The same heart that pumped blood enough for two each time I carried one of my children. The same one that has been broken into a million pieces and was pieced back together with time and duct tape.

Because having a beautiful baby in the picture makes me look younger...
Because having a beautiful baby in the picture makes me look younger…

On this particular birthday it seems I know less than I did 10 years ago, but about a century’s worth more than I did in my 20’s. Perhaps it’s just as they say, time isn’t actually linear.

Regardless of the flow of time, today I celebrate my birthday. And it is a good day. And I am alive and so deeply grateful for each breath I take.

Happy birthday world. It’s good to be alive.

Like, share, tweet and wish me a happy birthday in the comments.

We Forget To Be Grateful ~ A List Of Ten Things

Every morning, every single one of us, wakes up. If you’re reading this, you too had that same privilege today. Most of us likely walk down the street without thinking about it. We smell flowers or coffee or the garbage that needs to be taken out, and none of these things take much effort for us and so we don’t think much about them.

It’s human nature and not only that, if we were thinking about every single every day privilege all the time we’d just sit, thinking happy thoughts. Which, quite frankly, doesn’t sound like a bad way to go, but it doesn’t leave much room to enjoy other things as well.

This morning, I’d love for you to think about the simple things that make you the luckiest person in the world. Because you are, you know. So lucky. So very, very lucky.

Here are ten things I’m quite certain I take for granted, but I’m feeling so lucky right…..Now!

  1. photo 2That whole “smelling” thing? I’ve actually gone years without any sense of smell at all, so it’s not uncommon for me to actually take a moment and smell the flowers. It is a blessing and it is good to enjoy it and be grateful for it.
  2. There isn’t one chronic pain in my body. Perhaps it is not magazine ready, this body of mine, but it gets me long distances and many hours and it does it painlessly and effectively. Lucky me.
  3. I have people. I have loving people around me and they make me laugh and I am so grateful they are my people. We are each of us quite flawed and fragile, but we love each other and love is the greatest blessing of all.
  4. Nuttella. I don’t think anyone should take that chocolaty goodness for granted, though I have had to leave off buying it. I eat my share and 3 others shares and then it is gone. So I’ll hold off for a bit so I can appreciate it anew.
  5. Regardless of whether or not we avail ourselves of it, air travel is a huge blessing. My Zoë is thousands of miles away and yet I know I could get to her in a matter of hours because air travel is available and affordable. Thank you, Wilbur and Orville.
  6. We are living in one of the most peaceful times in history. Regardless of what CNN and Fox News would have you believe, we are safe, we are blessed. Feel that.
  7. The Internet has quickly become a part of our lives we don’t even think about. We can crowd source child rearing problems or anything else you can think of in a matter of minutes without even thinking about it. I’m feeling quite grateful for that.
  8. Yes. The school systems need a revamp. I’ll be the first one in line to admit that. But I am grateful for the free education afforded me and my tribe. It is not the way of our people to be rocket scientists, but we shine in our own ways and it is due in part to that education given us without a thought.
  9. Nutritious foods. We have them. We eat them. We’re better off for them.
  10. Art. It is everywhere, most especially that in nature created by the Great Creator. Free. For us. Every day

An Open Letter To You ~ You Need This For The Weekend

Dear You, Whoever & Wherever You Are:

I just wanted to write you a quick note and tell you I am thinking about you. Life speeds by like a bullet train and sometimes we forget to tell the people in our lives how much they mean to us. You should know, you are important to me.

You see, I started writing this blog and you were kind enough to come along for the ride. You’ve given me precious moments of your day. You’ve commented and messaged me and you’ve shared my posts unabashedly. I cannot thank you enough.

Happy Girls WMEvery day when I sit down to my computer I think about you and I ponder what you, specifically, might be going through and what message I might be able to share that will bring a smile to your face and remind you that you are a child of God, a miracle in the universe and you deserve all the wonders and magic that exist herein.

So thank you for stopping by our little blog. Thanks for the time and the comments and for coming back again and again. You’re wonderful. You’re amazing. And it’s because of you, no, it’s because of us, as a team, that I continue to write day after day. We make a great team.

And as you head off into the wondrous days ahead of us, I hope you remember the work we do here together, at Michelle At Play. I hope you not only eat your “miracle foods”, but that you have a taste or two of the foods that inspire you, the ones that make you feel like you’re 6 and invincible again. I hope you tell people you love them, give generously to those who ask of you and I hope, when you look up at the sky, that you remember the sun is shining just for you.

May the sun shine in your heart no matter what the weather is like outside.

I am your,

Michelle At Play

Thanks for liking, sharing, posting, commenting, tweeting and celebrating your weekend.

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