I used to come here often.  Not as in-your-face as facebook.  Not everyone has the time nor the interest to read when you sit at the keyboard and open your veins.

This was the place I’d visit at the end of a long work night the same way other folks might enjoy Happy Hour.  If I’m really honest, it did make me tipsy.

Research shows that having a place to pour out your words improves memory and sleep.  It also boosts immune cell activity.  It activates neurological pathways and may actually trigger dopamine release similar to other stimulants like music, running, and art or any beautiful thing that feeds your soul. 

For me, it was the people. 

The dopamine part might have pulled me in if I had known about that…

…but it really was the people.  I was just surrounded by so many beautiful people.  Thoughts of them would build inside until my heart became so full it seemed it would burst if I didn’t let some of that spill.  There was so much to be grateful for.  So many people to be proud of.  Mostly my family, my extra kids and my co-workers–the people who infuse ordinary days with extraordinary joy.  All the people who grew my capacity for love.

I love it when people know how much I love them–how proud they make me feel.  The people I most admire are those who don’t shy away from a level of vulnerability.  I pity those who are incapable of this thing.  C.S. Lewis explained it best: 

“To love at all is to be vulnerable.  Love anything and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken.  If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give it to no one, not even an animal.  Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements.  Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness.  But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.  To love is to be vulnerable.”

That’s pretty much what writing was about for me.  This place, right here.

I didn’t stop coming here because of any lack of love.  My heart still fills to the point of bursting pretty much everyday.  I still have so many people who make me feel proud.  I am still moved when I witness everyday people overcome hardship and work toward huge goals.  I still think facebook is too in-your-face for my long-winded Lettres D’Amour.

It’s just that life takes unexpected turns and with those things, changes.  The end of my son’s marriage meant that both parents worked more days and longer hours.  I exchanged a 6 night gig for one that cut my income in half–but allowed me time to be a better grandma.  I became more available.  I wouldn’t dream of having it any other way.

Life also brought more people to love.  I gained another daughter to love and then a new grandson.  The biggest changes for me meant less time for sitting and pouring out words and more time for engaging with souls.  More time to help with homework, play at the park, laugh at funny videos, listen to someone else’s words.  More time to cook delicious food and gather with family–to see if Jon Snow is a Targaryen–to see if Ragnar can redeem himself–to see if Rick will reclaim his testicles from Negan, along with all the food and guns and supplies.

More time with people and less time writing has been worth the trade-off.  

Less time writing about how much I love and how proud people make me feel has, in some ways,  magnified my flaws.  Balance is a thing I haven’t yet mastered.  Each new day gives me hope that I can change that.

The point I most want to make is this:  If I’ve made you feel unloved, insignificant, or diminished, let me apologize.  The fault is mine.  If I haven’t expressed how proud of you I am, please know that there is not a day I don’t think about you.  Pray for you.  Love you.  Feel every bit as much pride in who you are as I did in the days I had more time to sit and write–those days when I had less time to engage.  If I don’t direct my words to you, you might not know.  

In my home–and right here in this place–I wanted to create a place where people belonged and no one struggled to fit in.  Everyone deserves that.

If I haven’t made you feel loved, I’ve failed.  If I haven’t made you feel supported in hard times, I’ve failed.  If I haven’t lightened your load, I am sorry.  Those things are not simply my intention, but they are the things I’m called to do in a world where cruelty is cheap and easy and rampant.

If my purpose is not evident, the negligence is mine.

If I’ve blown it, I will let you go with grace. 

If I haven’t, this is me trying harder.

“Make yourself at home.  This is a peaceful place by design because everyone needs a place to rest.  Laughter happens everyday and if you were here, I’d feed you.  The kitchen never closes.”