Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Messy Middle

Below is a poem that is currently on SARK's call line. Read by her.  I call it when i need someone to tell me that I really matter. When I need someone to give me a virtual hug. When I need a cheerful voice of affirmation and I can't think of anyone to call that I'd like to burden with more of my life "stuff". SARK doesn't mind. I'm grateful that today her inbox had room for my message of thanks back her. If you'd like to call it, here is the number~ 415-546-3742. Her website is ,for more inspiration, free printable things, wallpaper, workshops and books.

Life has become so much more full, since we've become full time caretakers of our little full of joy and smiles and song and fumbling for what works; full of so many shifts that were sudden and stressful and rewarding and a whole mixture of joy and sadnesses as well. Susan Kennedy calls it "the messy middle", where most of us spend a lot of our time living.
I find myself blaming myself for the way my youngest daughter E. has "turned out" so far,even though I know in my heart that I have been the best mother I could be. Wondering where it was that I went wrong. She is 19 now. Watching her destroy herself again and again when I've spent so many years doing my utmost to build her up and foster her dreams, is so difficult. For me it is akin to watching a terrible car crash coming that I am helpless to prevent. For my husband and I, it is a feeling of fresh grief and loss, mixed with hope and fervent prayer that she will one day find her way. And a feeling of exhaustion from trying to juggle my work, his work, new baby, homekeeping, our relationship and two other boys (ages 7 and 17) that need us too.
I can say that I am proud of E.'s selflessness when it comes to doing what is best for this precious and happy go lucky little fellow. She knows his best place is here with us until she "sorts out her life." I am grateful for that. And so incredibly grateful for this~

And grateful for SARK (Susan Arial Rainbow Kennedy) and her message line, and for introducing me to a now favorite poem that resonates so deeply with me.


Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and
purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.

—Naomi Shihab Nye from Words Under Words: Selected Poems

Blessings to You and Yours,
Jennifer Valentine


  1. You singing to Benjamin is the most adorable thing ever...btw, I'm a SARK lover too. She sure know hows to make one feel better.

  2. "the messy middle" sums it all up so well. Life gives us what it has planned and we never know what that plan is until it begins to unfold. I look at my children of 24 and 20 and see evidence of the areas where we have had influence and then they'll do things that make me shake my head because never would I have attempted or thought to do "that" particular thing. It was only yesterday that I realized...they are their own people. Just as we were and are. They learn by mistakes...those times when they think they "know everything and we know nothing" and then discover that maybe we did know a thing or two after all. As much as we as parents want to prevent our children from harm, from self destructive behaviours, from lack of confidence or self esteem...some of those issues are out of our control. Those things are written in their life plan and we are there to love them, support them and do what we can, always. I see in your daughter the strength to know her limits, to know what she is capable of and incapable of (right now). The fact that she is putting her son's best interests first and foremost shows that there is more to this girl/woman and that would give me hope. I send you and your family many blessings Jennifer. And I send your daughter the blessings that she has good family behind her and the ability to stride forward with faith, strength and love. xo

    1. Thank you are wise and wonderful...


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