Category Archives: Power of words

After the crash

Some things are hard to talk about, even when we don’t think that is so.

Seven months ago I was involved in a car crash that totaled our car and left me with a significant concussion. I was unable to look at screens (computer, TV, phone) for about 4 months and told myself that once I could write, that I would blog about the experience of my accident.

I haven’t. But I want to…sort of.

Life events impact us in ways that often hit deeper than our awareness. What is impacting me that is preventing me from writing about this in a public forum? I feel like I need to write before I can fully move on. I have other blogs that I want to write but feel unable to write them until I write this. So, without a full understanding, I write…

The car that hit me came out of nowhere, swerving around 3 lanes of stopped traffic that were kindly waving me through. He was speeding, fast. I saw the hit and my heart sank.

Then nothing.

Then my children in the back and then panic. Were they hurt?

I could barely focus but I turned around and looked at them. My son asked “what was that loud noise?!” My daughter started to cry. I tried to remain conscious. Strangers rushed in and asked lots of questions. Apparently my children were okay. I had an arm in the back on them, vision blurry, head throbbing, stomach churning.

Then sirens and the sounds of my son “MOMMY!!! A fire truck!!! MOMMY!!! An ambulance!!!”

Yes son, they are coming for us. Inside I felt a rush of relief. They asked me questions that I couldn’t answer: “which direction were you travelling?” Uuumm…which way am I facing? The car that hit us spun us into a 2nd vehicle (didn’t know that until I was in the ER) and I didn’t have a clue where I was or which direction the car was facing.

The specific details from there don’t really matter. All that mattered was that my children were safe and they were being carefully attended by the wonderful First Responders. They put me on a stretcher and loaded me into the back of the ambulance, giving my son the important job of carrying my back pack and my daughter the equally important task of carrying my wallet. They understood kids! They both told their dad later, with great pride, how they had helped.

My son barely stopped talking long enough to breath over the excitement of being in the back of an ambulance. I focused on my daughter, who remained mute, and on remaining conscious without vomiting. The paramedics attended to them beautifully, making them funny face balloons out of medical gloves and chatting them up.2014-05-14_17-39-43_172

They explained all the equipment and they gently explained what they were doing to me. They all chuckled at my son’s incredible capacity to talk! My daughter suddenly recovered and joined the discussion. When we finally arrived at the hospital, the paramedics offered the kids a tour of the ambulance bay and the front of the ambulance. These are two kids who don’t take quickly to strangers at the best of times, let alone in moments of extreme duress, so I was both shocked and relieved when they happily went off with the paramedics while I was wheeled into the ER.

When they returned one of the paramedics brought them some juice and cheese and crackers, noting that it was approaching suppertime. Wow. And then my daughter produced some princess stickers and informed me that a fire fighter had given them to her at the scene of the accident. Wow.

My gratitude to those first responders is enormous! I finally wrote a letter of thanks to them just a few days ago. Again, why the long delay?

So now I live my life “after the crash”. I live with a knowledge that today might not have been. That my children might not have bounced back so easily. That life might have been radically different. But angels were watching over our car that day. I believe that with all my heart. Yes, we crashed, but we were all okay. And 7 months later I am 95% healed from the concussion. That is quick and miraculous!

My first blog a year ago talked about the power of words. I think that putting this experience into words is the next (perhaps last?) step to healing. The experience will forever be with me. The images will never be gone. The memory of my 6 year old son telling me “the steering wheel blew apart and a big balloon came out” will never, ever fade.

And so with gratitude, I write. I share the words, though the words don’t even come close to expressing the emotions. But words matter.

And now I am free to continue to write, after the crash.

 

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Grace

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My daughter’s middle name is Grace.
When we chose the name, our simple definition of GRACE was that it is
“an undeserved gift”.

I have a lot to learn about GRACE.

I have been reading a lot from moms lately; mostly about guilt and fear of failure and intense pressure to “get it right”. What’s up with that?

It appears that women in general, and moms in particular, are harder on themselves than anyone else. Grace is a tough concept to grasp. I think this is partly nature and partly nurture. Nature (the way God created us) has wired us this way, so that we work to do things well. Our culture “nurtures” (not the right term at all in this case!) the way we view our roles as women and mothers.

Any woman who has given birth has likely experienced the abundance of “blaming” terminology that plagues obstetrics and post partum care:

  • The woman on bed rest because of her incompetent cervix
  • The woman with the “smaller than dates” fetus who is told “your baby isn’t happy in there” (when in the end her little girl is simply a very healthy petite child)
  • The woman who labors well for hours upon hours and eventually needs a C-section due to failure to progress
  • The woman with the small, slow growing baby is written up in her medical record as: baby: failure to thrive
  • The woman who can’t produce enough breast milk is told she has inadequate milk supply, though all her prenatal preparation told her that “breast is best!”, and that the body will always supply enough milk for the baby

What do women hear in these messages?
Incompetent
My body isn’t good enough
Failure
Failure
Inadequate

We don’t stand a hope of feeling good about ourselves with this kind of language attached to us. These labels travel far beyond our medical records into our psyches.

The media tells us we’re not thin enough, not young enough in appearance or in body, not wealthy enough, not skilled enough. The information super-highway of the internet and books and magazines and journal articles offer up an over abundance of excellent information about how we should mother and how we should work and how we should love and how we should play; and an equal amount of information on all that we should not!

How do we filter all of this? Information is good but the pressure it places on us is enormous. I love information! I love to read and I love to hear different angles on things that matter to me. I am learning to filter, to take what fits for my life and my values and my family, and toss the rest.

But the pressure is still strong to be the perfect WOMAN. And that is where I (we!) need to learn about GRACE. How do we find this elusive grace?
When I speak badly to my husband or my children, is there grace?
When the house is a mess and the schoolwork isn’t done, is there grace?
When I say the wrong thing and I know it, is there grace?
When I forget something important, is there grace?
When the baby is small or the breast milk isn’t coming in, is there grace?

In all of these circumstance I know that I, for one, am the last person to offer up grace to myself. Others offer it up far more quickly.

Grace is a gift.
When a gift is given, we can choose to receive the gift, or refuse the gift.
The gift does not become mine until I actually take it.
God offers grace.
“He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.””
~ 2 Corinthians 12:9
What a relief that is!! Power made perfect in weakness. Wow. Now all I have to do is allow myself to be weak. This will take some learning…

Grace2_blog picI recently read these quotes about grace.

“I do not at all understand the mystery of grace–only that it meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us.”
~ Anne Lamott

“The art of celebrating life isn’t about getting it right, but about receiving grace.”
~ Ann Voskamp

Apart from leaving me wondering if there is something special about the name Ann(e) that predisposes one to saying profound things, I am left with a renewed understanding of the meaning of grace. It’s not about getting everything right. It’s about leaving the situation changed; changed by having received (willingly!) the gift of grace from both God and others; and reminded to offer up grace not only to others, but to myself.

Grace be with you on your journey.

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The matter of words

Mrs. Hill told me I should write. That was 27 years ago.

Words have a way of sitting in the vault until a time when we need to access them, a time when they become more relevant. Words matter.

“…the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire…” – James 3: 5,6

The words that a high school teacher spoke 27 years ago now have some substance, a new form in my new place in life. My journey as a mom is teaching me how much words matter, how much children absorb, how much I have absorbed in a lifetime of words.

I want to honor my words; choose them carefully; write words that make a difference, if only to me. Writing is a means of sifting, filtering, formulating, assigning meaning to otherwise jumbled thoughts. Organizing the mind brings peace. I am learning a lot about peace these days and it is bringing new depths of joy to mothering and family life.

So begins the journey of assigning words to my inner sanctum.

“The limits of my language means the limits of my world.”   ―     Ludwig Wittgenstein