One Eyebrow


Shameless selfie. Amused.

During high school I made it a top priority to gain the ability to lift one eyebrow.

The endeavor was not an easy one. I had to train like a fine athlete, brushing wimpy quitter thoughts from my psyche. I started out using the ability that I did have and built my skill from there: raising two eyebrows, but holding the left one down by force with my finger. I did this as I walked down hallways in between classes. In P.E. while waiting to dodge a red, rubber ball. Anytime something boring was happening in class. So you see, I had plenty of opportunity to practice.

After a grueling training regimen I learned to isolate the muscle beneath my right eyebrow and have enjoyed the ability to soundlessly signal my amusement ever since.

But with great power comes great responsibility. Or something.

I have raised one eyebrow often over the years since I have been in high school, and the skill has not come without a price. Ladies and gentlemen, I have extra wrinkles over my right eyebrow and am now destined to be a little old lady with asymmetrical face wrinkles. A permanent mark of a lifetime of bemused stares.

The End.


The Mirror

lillyclareThis evening as I knelt on a folded, brown bath mat and reached into the tub to douse Lillian with another cup of tepid water, she looked intently at me and proudly chirped, “blue eyes.” She is getting so good at noticing little details. I am intrigued and a somewhat horrified of this little person becoming a mirror which reflects back interpretations of reality. Who am I in the eyes of this person I relentlessly love and yet get so frustrated with? The person whom I yell at and slap the wall in front of? Who am I reflected in the lenses of the person for whom I want the very best, but who inadvertently unearths my most deeply buried faults and sins?

Sometimes I need an infusion of patience and empathy.

What is it like encountering the world for the very first time and you are only two years old? When your delighted discoveries elicit a frown and disapproving tone?

Lord, give me patience.

Incense and White Sneakers

candlesIn the adoration chapel on Thursday night, Deacon kneeled before the Blessed Sacrament wafting incense from a censer onto the Host. He was wearing an alb under robes of white and gold that glistened beautifully in the candlelight. The scene was surreal and mystical until I noticed his nondescript white sneakers poking out from underneath the alb. A moment in which the mundane meets the spiritual.

He reminded me of Zechariah, who drew his lot and went into the temple of the Lord to light incense. He didn’t expect to meet an angel there, even though he knew he labored before God. We humans are very good at forgetting the spiritual reality which underpins our entire earthy existence.

I lose my bearings amid my anxieties, busyness and comfort. I tend to look at seemingly impossible situations and forget that with God, anything is possible. I turn into Zechariah, disbelieving God’s promises. When Zechariah questioned the angel’s message that Elizabeth would conceive and bear John the Baptist, he was struck dumb for her entire pregnancy.

Yesterday at Mass everything I had experienced for several days synthesized and brought me back to the glory of God as I sang the refrain from the responsorial psalm, “let my tongue be silenced, if I ever forget you!”. Zechariah, indeed.

There is something that I have been wrestling with. I waver between thinking that it’s God’s will for me, and waffling because I see my own weaknesses.

Sunday He gently reminded me, anything is possible with God and I am not in it alone! Neither are you.

Chop It All Off


Beautiful baby ‘do.

I have this ongoing fantasy about chopping off all my hair and it actually looking good.

In my daydreams, my hair lies flat and is miraculously straight. The weird permanent part in the back of my hair is gone, and the little hairs above the nape of my neck hang straight down instead of veering always right. It is a closely cropped pixie which is nevertheless feminine and also sassy.

I have never tried cutting it as short as my fantasy requires, but at this point in my motherhood journey I’m about as close to living out the fantasy as I have ever been. Cara makes me unsatisfied with my raggedy locks. Not only does she pull it mercilessly, she models the most perfect hairdo effortlessly. My hair has perhaps only been pardoned due to my inability to make an appointment at a salon. For the past three years every haircut has consisted of me standing in my bathroom sawing off the end of a ponytail with sewing scissors and occasional glimpses behind me into the mirror. It never comes out completely straight, but I let the curls and waves mask the unevenness.

I hesitate to cut because in 4th grade someone told me that I would make a cute boy, and I guess I’ve always subconsciously presumed that losing my hair would take me in undesirable directions. That I am lacking in beauty and femininity enough to wear a pixie.

This year I have been working on not letting fear or anxiety fuel my decisions. I cannot guarantee that I will actually cut it all off, but I am at least ready for a bob revival. The best way to go shorter is incrementally. Dip the proverbial toe into the water, and all.

On top of all this, I know I don’t want to venture into the arena of “mom hair”. What exactly this entails, unfortunately, lacks a solid definition and boundary lines. I asked Oliver if he would like me to get a “mom” haircut. His look of revilement was answer enough. When I asked him, “what’s a mom haircut?” The closest definition he could provide was an outdated style of one’s youth, or scraggly unstyled hair. Going by this latter definition I already sport “mom hair”.

So the only direction I can go is up. And that gives me peace.

Domestic Camino

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhen I was little and someone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I always said, “an explorer like Indiana Jones.” I am still captivated by the idea of the journey. For the most part my dreams of travel have been tempered by lack of time and money. But still, I yearn for the walk.

So far I have spent my Lent reading Spiritual Lessons Along the Camino as my Lenten devotional. The book includes 40 spiritual lessons complete with Scripture that the author learned from her pilgrimage walking the Camino de Santiago in Spain. I hope I can walk the Camino de Santiago some day.

Yesterday with my imagination aflame, I opened the drawer of my jewelry box seeking my baptismal shell pendant only to find it nestled in the crook of my Appalachian Trail wishbone. I hesitated, and then strung them together onto the same chain. I’ve always been one for symbolic jewelry. I bought the wishbone right before I took off on my 200 mile Appalachian trek and received the shell from my cousin on the night I was baptized. The shell is also the symbol of the Camino.

An international, month-and-a-half long pilgrimage is a difficult goal to possess when you are also the mother of a 4-month-old and a two-year-old, and your dream can not be anything more than something far off and unfeasible and barely glimmering on the distant horizon. I think that for now it will have to do to just live my life of base domesticity in the spirit of a pilgrim rather than setting off down an actual trail. I want to remember that my entire life should be a pilgrimage leading me closer to God.

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What should being a domestic pilgrim look like?

1. Eliminate some of the noise. A pilgrim would spend the day walking in silence, open to the inspiration of God. To a certain extent I think it’s possible to do this every day. This Lent I have given up listening to the radio in the car. It’s hard to do. I used to go on drives just to listen to podcasts, but the silence had definitely not been empty.

2. Walk in conversation and expectation. Pray earnestly and expect God to communicate with me. Live in a spirit of “seeking”. Something I struggle with. Number one helps with this one! .

3. Be humble. Be small. Accept everything as coming from the hand of God. Give up thinking that I “deserve” anything better. Become more of a minimalist.

4. Local Pilgrimage. Embark on some local (driving distance) types of pilgrimages. I live near San Antonio, easy distance from some old Franciscan missions, San Fernando Cathedral, the National Shrine of the Little Flower, Oblate Grotto. I could attend a Latin Mass for the first time. I could visit the Mission of Divine Mercy. I could commit to going to Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament on a regular basis. Really, there are so many possibilities.

Thoughts? What am I missing?