From the Salonen Circle
From the Salonen Circle
Some of my Facebook Friends challenged me to write “16 random things” about myself. It took me a few days, but reining in the New Year seemed the perfect time to whip up a few random thoughts — goals, facts, habits and other assorted items. Please feel free to join in the fun. I won’t tag, but will challenge fellow bloggers to post their own “16 random things” on their blogs, and I look forward to reading them. Leave me a comment to know you’ve posted your random list.
1. Though they both contributed in small ways to each of these, my father is largely responsible for my having turned out to be a writer. He is an amazing writer, though his pen has been quiet for many years now. He used to leave my sister and me poems, stories and other little notes to find and giggle over. My mother, however, gave me the gift of faith – simple and unfailing. Though it doesn’t always seem simple, and I am not always unfailing in how I live it out, it’s always there, that rock put in place by my mom. I can only hope to give my kids some of what my parents gave me in those two things.
2. One of my dreams is to someday go back to Europe, this time with my husband, and stand again in the Sistine Chapel and other places of beauty, but this time as someone older and wiser and more capable of absorbing the magnitude of history and art that, as a 22-year-old, I could not fully appreciate.
3. Growing up on the reservation was not always easy, and I had to leave to truly discover who I am. That said, I now see my time there as a gift to be cherished, and I count the experience as one of my life’s blessings. It will always be an important part of who I am, no matter where I go and how old and “experienced” I grow. It forever will be my launching pad.
4. My Irish great-grandfather, Patrick Byrne, wrote a book called “Solidiers of the Plains,” which was dedicated to “The Indian Dead” to honor the Indian warriors who had fought so valiantly for their land. It was published in 1926, but soon thereafter, its publication was halted by (according to my great-grandmother) Elizabeth Custer, who did not want how her husband was portrayed in the book (in a rather negative light) to garner a far reach.
5. I always wanted a younger brother or sister, and I think that’s one of the reasons I ended up with five children. Not having grown up in a large family though, I really have no idea what I am doing, and am completely overwhelmed most days! I brave it out by trying to prioritize, and my writing and faith help keep it all balanced out. I do love my family dearly, even though it is not always an easy life. My “Peace Garden Mama” blog title is an ideal, not a reality, most days, but one I aspire towards.
6. My daughters remind me so much of my sister and I when we were younger. It tickles me to see them interact, especially when they are getting along and enjoying one another. They have no idea what a gift the gift of a sister is, but someday, I hope they will.
7. I am still amazed that I have three sons, after growing up without brothers. They, too, have their own specialness that they bring to my world, but they are an alien species, too. I am still trying to unlock the mystery of them, knowing it’s mostly futile. I do enjoy them, though. My boys bring vim, vigor and sparks to my life daily.
8. I have the most amazing friends. I treasure my friends from the past and love being reconnected to them. But I am incredibly blessed by the friends God has put in my current life. They “get me” and accept me unconditionally and nurture me daily.
9. My husband and I go back a long ways. We met in college choir when we were both 18. He was a baritone, and I, a soprano, so he sat behind me, and at some point, he and another baritone placed a bet whether he would be daring enough to ask me out. I guess he won. We married at 23, and both turned 40 this year, so we’ve been together longer than we’ve been apart. A lot of people thought we were brother and sister during our dating years. He is an amazing guitar player, and a wonderful Daddy to our brood.
10. Another dream of mine is for our family to form some kind of musical group someday, kind of like the Partridge Family, or the Boyd Family from my youth.
11. After our second child was born, we lost a baby. I was at the end of my first trimester and just about to have the appointment where I we would (hopefully) hear a heartbeat. The experience was devastating, but I didn’t blame God. I knew He was grieving with us. It taught me a lot – including that I have a yearning for heaven I didn’t know was possible. Gabriel is a guiding light for all of us, the rest of his family, and someday we will be united with this family member we never had the chance to meet. I became pregnant with our second daughter three months later…on my birthday. She was a gift from God (which is what her name means), and would not exist if Gabriel had not left us. Good can always come out of suffering.
12. My friend, Laura, died of cancer in 2000, the year my third child was born, and that, too, was a heartwrenching experience. She was a mother of four, 39 years old, an amazing person who opened herself up to her friends during her dying so that we could learn how to better live, and ultimately, how to die well, too. I was one of a number of women pallbearers at her funeral. She had some Native blood in her, and Native drummers drummed as her casket went into the ground. This was extremely moving to me, and connected me to her and back to my childhood. The recent loss of my blogging pal, Emilie, has reminded me all over again of the profundity — the sadness, and yes, even the joy — of journeying with or near someone your age who is dying and about to enter God’s arms. I know they are with us, though, more strongly than ever in some ways.
13. Despite these losses, or perhaps because of them, I have a childlike awe of the world most days and am in love with life. I have recently come to question why I am still here, and to be intently curious as to what God has in mind for me in the coming years. I know that, in order for Him to carry out that will, I must be an active participant, so I will work all the harder at finding out what I’m to do in the time that remains.
14. When my oldest two kids were younger and life a little simpler, I sometimes would turn up the music full blast and dance with them around the house. I don’t do that anymore, or not as often as I should, but there are moments when I see an opportunity to let go of my motherly concerns and enter into their world, to let go of reason and duty and just dance, or swing, or color. I believe we are at our happiest when we connect with our child hearts, which is different than acting immature.
15. I am newly inspired to live intentionally and, as Emilie did, to truly embrace life – all of it. The highs and lows and in-betweens, knowing that every day is an absolute gift. That does not mean we need to live out every day as a mountain-top experience, but to remain accutely aware of the gift.
16. Recently, I asked my faith-sharing sisters, “But why? Why are we here?” After a pause, one of them said, “To learn how to love.” That, then, is to be my primary goal from here on out.