More Than Enough

Maybe this time comes to everyone, the acute moment when you realize that this life is your life. That you aren't destined for greater things after all. There isn't going to be a rock star stint in your future. There won't be a best selling novel, you aren't going to be Julia Roberts, your business isn't suddenly going to morph into the next Google. You really aren't a great beauty, and what youthful beauty you did have has definitely changed into something different. No one is whistling on the street anymore. Your marriage isn't an epic love story. Your home is usually messy. Your roses have aphids.

Ah, but with this realization also comes a sense of peace. Because when I really look at it, the small things are what I love. I would hate a movie star life. One of my greatest pleasures is a lunch out with a book or a fresh new magazine, unobserved. Quiet and happy. Or a day of shopping, again, anonymous. Imagine having everyone looking at you, watching everything you do. I read once that Jackie Kennedy used to watch people with binoculars just to see them acting normally because whenever she was with people, they were watching her. Big lives bring big pressures, big challenges, not knowing for sure if the people around you are there because of your life, or for truer reasons.

Sitting in my backyard under my gazebo with an iced tea, watching the birds at the feeder. Catching a quiet glimpse of the gorgeous male pheasant that hangs out and shyly eats seed from the ground and the grass that sprouts from it. The squirrels, the voles, the small gopher snake family. The progression of blooms through the year...spring alone brings the paperwhites, sunshiny daffodils, tulip magnolia lushness, camellias, azaleas, popcorn trees clothed in white, my very favorite redbud trees covered in pink blossoms, japanese maple leaves in their unbelievable greenness, yellow forsynthia, rosemary bushes alive with purple, all shades on the lavenders, and gorgeous California poppies. And then May...and roses. That first bloom, so incredibly beautiful I take pictures of the same bushes every year. And their names: Angel Face, Betty Boop, Iceberg, Playboy, Neon Lights. Swoon.

My two much loved dogs curled on the bed with me, snoring. Eleven and thirteen and still here. A gift. My girl in her room, sleeping. Grown so tall and lovely. Watching her in dance class, long strong legs, tangled ponytail, full of being nine. She has her Daddy's build and creativity, my mother's chattiness and love of hugs, her own stubborness and sensitivity. And she has my heart, completely.

Making dinner for my family, listening to KD Lang sing Halleluliah, spring green and cream paisley apron tied around my waist. Teaching Chloe to make guacamole, slicing onions, grating cheese, squeezing a fresh lime. Setting a pretty table and eating together, with gusto. Dessert.

Our beautiful home, filled with green and blue and dark wood. Things I've collected over the years that make me happy. And memories. So many memories. Our wedding in the back yard when the trees were infants, Ron's father visiting before he died, much loved pets returning to the earth beneath the roses. Being in labor in our living room, kneeling to breathe through contractions on our stairs. Bringing Chloe home and walking her through each room showing her where her life would unfold. Introducing her to the dogs and then climbing in bed with her to nurse. So tiny and wanted. Such a perfect fit in my arms.

Books. Ah, my great friends. I devour them, lost in a different life. I have to be very careful of what I read because I immerse and it's difficult to surface. I've read hungrily my whole life. I cannot imagine who I would be without everything I've learned there. Any time I am unsure of something, from parenting to work to marriage to dog training to gardening, I turn to books first. And I always find what I need.

And there is so much more. A full life of small things. These small things are what matter the most to me. What I list in my mind in gratitude each night before I go to sleep. These small things make me smile and feel whole. When I look at my life, they are what matter. The people I love, our home, my animals, books, good food, work I am proud of. And yes, it's enough. It is way more than enough.


Kony, Pepper Spray & Happy Dogs

Facebook. The place where pictures of lunch, inspirational quotes, photos of our kids, happy dog videos and political activism coexist. Right now the video on Kony and the Invisible Children is everywhere. It's horrifying to watch and paralyzing in the hopelessness of the situation. And I know it makes people feel a little better to be able to share it with their Facebook friends and feel that they've at least done something. Small, maybe, but still something.

Except, what if instead of being a small help, our shares are actually harmful?

What worries me is how many times we share things without doing any fact testing at all.

Recently there was a viral video of the police at UC Davis pepper spraying a seemingly innocent group of students protesting peacefully on the sidewalk. The video truly made me feel ill, and it must have had the same effect on countless others as it quickly spread to the national and international media. A few days after I saw that initial video I saw another one, on Facebook, of the same happening. This one was from a different angle, and edited completely differently. While it still seemed to be an unquestionably outsized use of force on the police's part, the situation no longer looked nearly so clear cut. The protestors could be heard yelling at the police and threatening them. The video also showed the police warning the students numerous times before they used the pepper spray. I shared the second video because I felt that it was important to show another side, and I wanted to share my confusion over the incident, and my incredulity about how transformed the exact same event could look with a different angle and edit.

That share didn't go over so well.

The whole story has played out in the media, and I don't want to rehash it here. What matters to me is that one of my core beliefs is that this world is made up of a whole range of colors, not just black and white. And I feel that our country is so quick these days to label things jet black or pristine white. I often feel out of step because my mind goes to the grey area in between, the space where the questions lie. I often hear friends talking about things and my reaction is to say, Yes, but. Yes, but there is probably more to the story, yes, but I'm sure there is another way of looking at it. And I think the same thing when I see these videos or shares on Facebook. Yes, but.

Often I just don't say anything. That small voice in my head is silenced out of fear of being criticized, of not seeming loyal, of not having all the answers when I am challenged. Often I don't post the question or the comment on Facebook because I primarily use social media for work and I don't want to offend people.

It gnaws at me though.

Today I friended my niece, a young woman still in her teens. One of the first posts I saw on her wall was a link to a blog post by another young woman named Amber Ha who has done significant research on Uganda, including living and working there. Her post is a letter to Jason Russell of the Kony 2012 crusade, spelling out why she thinks he is doing more harm than good. (http://pomee.tumblr.com/) It is a very well thought out piece, and is followed by an articulate reply to all the responses she's gotten to her letter, which includes a reading list for people who want to delve further into the issue. I was thrilled to see this post on my niece's wall, with her imploring all of us to "do a little digging" before we blindly forward something on. Good for you girl. At seventeen, you are already smart and courageous and curious. And you are already seeing my world of many colors.

It was a great reminder for me. A reminder that what matters most to me is keeping my mind open and my heart soft. Of living for the questions. Of being okay with not having all the answers. Of being okay with offending some people with my honest searching.

Ultimately, I believe that more people being exposed to the political arena is a good thing. It starts a conversation. Hopefully it leads to some clear headed investigation and action. I personally just don't feel comfortable jumping in without having enough information to form a reasoned opinion.

So if I don't comment on your posts, or don't pass them on, it's not because I haven't read them, or because I'm not interested, or because I don't agree, or because I'm apathetic. I'm just not willing to weigh in before I answer my own Yes, buts.

And as for sharing videos, I think I'll stick with the ones of happy dogs or silly kids if I haven't taken the time and looked a little deeper.

Thank you Emma. You taught me an invaluable lesson today.

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