Lies about seashells

The seashells that make it into the collection, the ones that are worthy of gluing onto jewelry boxes and displaying in glass lamps are the whole ones. They are the bleachy white sand dollars, the shiny conch shells, the hardy raveneli. We search for the ones who have come through the storms at sea and remain in tact. But the lie we believe about seashells is the same lie we believe about ourselves. Because both people and shells who’ve not suffered a few dings, dents, cracks in their exterior are usually not very interesting. The ones who appear stage-ready with very little effort have secrets to tell. Rarely are they innately more impressive or distinctly beautiful. It’s just they’ve been protected or had a distinct advantage on their journey here. The cracked ones, the ones who are missing a piece, the ones who are nicked with a few holes–these are the ones with epic tales.  These are the ones we stand back and wonder, how? How are they still able to drift over waves and dunes and land here, still shining as sunbeams glint off their jagged edges?

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We spent the week on Tybee Island with my old man and stepmom and their two pugs. We introduced the old man to American Ninja Warrior. I think he’s hooked. Or, in his words, “At least I know not to turn it off immediately when it’s on.” It’s really something to watch the old man with the dings in his back and all the white hair we gave him relish these moments with a five and seven year-old, lifting them up over cresting waves and accepting their sandcake offerings as if all of this beach tomfoolery were brand new. As if he’d never known the wonder of the seaside with children before.

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We took a trolley ride through Savannah one afternoon. Savannah with her mossy splendor ravishes me in ways that are more like a lusty romance than a fondness for a city. I think her combination of history and mystery make her unlike any other place I’ve been. The tour guide covered all the major players from Eli Whitney to Forrest Gump (ha!). She didn’t spare us any unflattering anecdote about John Wesley or about slavery itself. History has a way of exposing the jagged edges of our shells that are undeniable. But as the tour wrapped up, we passed a housing development. The tour guide tried to direct our attention to the magnificent railyards across the street, but there was a nagging sense for anyone onboard that we were being diverted. The mansions and the fountains and the art districts well-preserved are all ruddy shells. Heaven forbid we talk about housing projects, though. We can’t be looking at the difficult to explain, the less-than-ideal. Just like a clam shell that we cast back into the ocean, we look away from shells now occupied. We prefer to study the vacated, the accomplished shells, the cockles and raveneli who’ve weathered the storms and who came out unscathed.

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The lie we believe about seashells–that the most beautiful ones are the ones who are unoccupied and unmarred–is the same lie we believe about ourselves. Ask any woman who has given birth if she felt at her most beautiful right after having a baby. She has just, with every fiber of her being, brought new life into the world. The magazine headlines will convince us that she can get her pre-baby body back in six weeks time, right on cue for bikini season. I say she will look awesome, sitting seaside under an umbrella with her baby, a mindless book, and a few cracked shells catching the sunlight.

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Disgustingly perfect

This afternoon was one of those disgustingly perfect Sunday afternoons where you just want to punch yourself in the face to counteract the goodness. I suppose some would settle for a more polite pinch to make sure they’re alive, but you know that feeling where the beauty just overwhelms. This sweet, intoxicating prelude to summer weather we’re having. You get so high off of it that you forget to worry about your diet, the lawn you need to mow before it rains, the e-mail bombshell that is ticking like a tell-tale heart in your inbox awaiting your reply.

We went to a Chattanooga Lookouts game today and it was bliss. We overbought slushies and overate overly salty pretzels and we cheered and switched seats and ogled fat babies. It was just so disgustingly perfect, all four of us sitting in a row with backed bleachers, Loverpants and I putting the bookends on our little treasures in the middle. I held their hands and prayed a silent prayer over and over. Gross, right?

This school year has been a satisfying one for me. For the kids, it has been much harder. There have been some mean-spirited things done to our children, and by the same token, I have complete faith in the fact that our kids have done mean-spirited things to others in return. But this year things felt a little more magnified. The safe hedge that surrounded them in years past seemed to get cropped out. Kids showed true colors. Cold shoulders jabbed from unexpected places. Silent treatments were prescribed. We talked through a lot of things and role-played more playground theatrics than I can recall.

With all the anti-bullying education that is infused into elementary ed these days, I just have to return to our sun-drenched bleacher bench above first base. I know the next years will be hard on our parent hearts as we lead little hearts toward the truth: They are eternally cherished and made for more than this world. I mean, some days/weeks/months are just going to be plain terrible, right? But our hope is that our kids will remember days like this, where it kind of didn’t matter who won or lost but that they got sick on Dippin’ Dots and too much love.

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5 things the #H20challenge taught me

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1. I strived to drink 70 oz. of water every day for 30 days, eliminating caffeine and soda. It turns out that 70 oz. is totally possible and once I started drinking more water, I wanted more water.

2. I have the power to break my addiction from caffeine. I have never gone more than a 14 days without caffeine since at least 2007, maybe earlier. The first 2 weeks were most difficult (see also: headaches like woah, moody pants all day, foggy brain) but the more water I drank, the better I felt. Coffee is now something I can enjoy but don’t need. Woop.

3. I started this because I have never been a good sleeper and my iron is often low and it turns out, less caffeine, more protein can remedy a whole bunch of maladies in my life. Funny thing, that. Fringe benefits: leaner waistline, no coffee spills on my clothes.

4. Accountability is so clutch. All my peeps who joined me chugging the h20–you made the difference. I didn’t want to fall off the wagon because I knew you were cheering for me or running the race with me.

5. I think the dark circles under my eyes faded a bit, don’t you? Please just nod your head and hand me that latte, won’t you?

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