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Category Archives: Inside This Life

The rest of being

Lucille Ball, resting

My home is filled with the scents of roast and chocolate cake. The quilt upon which I lie and write – a double-wedding ring from Mom the Christmas before my wedding – is finally growing soft with age. Her quilts are so stiff when we first get them, filled with tiny stitches that won’t lie down. I can almost stand the quilt up on its folded end. As it gets used, though, the threads of the fabric and those stitching it together into a beautiful pattern learn where to bend. Sometimes one may even break here and there. As it’s tossed in and out of the washing machine and dryer, as kiddos and pets wallow all over it, as it gets crumpled each night and then smoothed again each morning, the threads within keep bending and stretching.

Eventually, they settle into a rest of being.

The quilt becomes a source of warmth, comfort, and pleasure where before it was only a thing of beauty, a representation of effort and talent. It is still all those things years later – the beauty of this quilt struck me when I cast it across the bed two nights ago – but it is all those other descriptors now, too.

I’m like this quilt. I was stiff, put together, and an outwardly beautiful example of my parents’ love…but now I’m more. Now I’ve bent. I’ve been broken. Tossed around in the tumbler of life. Now I’ve softened enough to be a source of comfort, warmth, and enjoyment in ways I could not before the bending and the breaking.

Now I settle into a rest of being.

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Posted by on December 8, 2018 in Inside This Life, Life Lessons

 

Turning The Page

As of August 14, 2018, 7:59pm EST, I resigned from SON Studios.

This will come as a shock to some and I am sorry I have not called each one of you before posting this notice. Frankly, I’m not sure my heart or my introverted brain can last through calls with all of you whom I love and care so deeply about, you who have been so encouraging to me and to SON. Thank you. A million times, thank you. The richness of your relationships has made this six-year attempt at a non-profit worth everything.

Naples, for all its cosmopolitan flair, is still a small community. I accept that there will be “talk.” The short story is that several folks had unexpected events in their lives that cost SON about $1mm in pledges and promised funds over the past year. SON simply ran out of runway to afford operations and I could no longer afford to work without pay.

Much must be navigated and decided. The Board agreed for all of the projects and clients to leave with me. It’s been a humbling and encouraging experience to call each person and hear them say they’ll stick with me for whatever’s next. I’m not sure what will happen as this page turns, but I do know this:

The mission of SON – to use media for good – is the heartbeat of who I am. It may require a different approach (what was it Thomas Edison said about failing 10,000 times on his way to finding the right method?), but that’s okay. I’ve never minded a challenge.

For now, I just needed to acknowledge publicly that I’m no longer at SON. It felt deceptive to not say something. You are welcome to email me at rebeca@seitzwritesllc.com or, if you have my cell number, to use it.

For SON business, please reach out to the remaining Board members (on the SON website).

If you’ve been a member or donor to SON, if you’ve attended an event or taken the time to mail in cards of encouragement, leave voicemails of support, or shoot over emails with cheers – thank you. I sit here today knowing that there are incredible people in this nation who fervently wish to harness the power of story toward a positive end. I love y’all for that. Thank you.

 
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Posted by on August 26, 2018 in Inside This Life

 

A Gentle Request for How You Respond to Jim’s Passing

Jim

James D. Seitz

On Saturday, July 30, 2016, at 11:33am, my fantastic father-in-love James D. Seitz finished his battle with Parkinson’s Disease. He was 82 years old. I loved him dearly. I am not loving something about the response to his death, so I’m writing.

Three years ago, the Hubs and I moved the kiddos down to Naples to help out with Jim’s care. He and Grace allowed us the honor of being a real part of this journey and, while I won’t lie and say it was anywhere in the same ballpark as easy, I’m glad we did. I’m happy we got that time with him, that my kiddos know the amazing grandfather they had, that my mother-in-love and I grew closer as we cared for the love of her life, the man she was married to for 55 years.

Now, most of my Facebook friends are actual friends. They’re people I went to school with, have worked or volunteered with. A few are readers of my novels and I have the gift of their feedback and input as I write additional stories. The folks I call “Facebook Friend” are mostly real relationships. So, rather than call a lot of people and repeat our news, I posted on Facebook that Jim had passed.

               And I got the expected “Sad” and “Love” clicks (thank you) and kind comments from people. It’s been helpful to receive all that, to not feel as if our little family is alone, to realize that a lot of people are acknowledging that a good man’s life has ended.

               But something that has kinda driven me insane is how people barely get the, “I’m so sorry,” out before they jump to, “But you’ll see him again in heaven.”

I’ve done this exact same thing to friends who lose people to death. I’ve done it a lot, even from the moment we were told Jim needed to go into hospice care. Emotion overwhelmed my mother-in-love and husband, so I’m the one who tried to give Jim the news. He read it on my face before I could speak and said, “I’m going to heaven aren’t I?”

I responded, “Yessir, and I’m a little jealous.”

So, yes, I get the instinct to focus on the positive (heaven!) and brush right past the hideous (death). But, I want to go on record as saying I really don’t like it.

I’m a processor. I need time to process, reflect, think, ponder, be quiet and still before I feel as if I can move past a significant emotion. Right now, I hurt. A lot. I’m sad. I miss Jim – even the one who couldn’t speak because Parkinson’s stole his voice. I miss how he always, always smiled when I came into the room. I miss having someone in my life who wanted to hear every single, solitary detail of every single business trip or event I participated in. I miss the one who enjoyed listening to who came with whom and who wore what to this film premiere or that gala. I miss the man who knew the backstories of so many influencers in this town – how they became the people they are today. I want to hear his stories again of chairing balls and functions and how to navigate Board member and funder relationships. I want to ask him a question and see him turn his head, look off in the distance, and give my inquiry real thought before responding with some piece of wisdom I couldn’t have found otherwise. I’ve missed all this for a long time because Parkinson’s took it away but I couldn’t mourn it because we all had to focus on the care required by that moment, that hour. Now that he’s gone all of what was taken by this disease hits at once and I miss him.

I miss him.

I don’t care right now about heaven. I really don’t. I care that right now, today, I can’t go up to his bed, kiss the top of his head, and say, “Hello, blue eyes. I love you.” I care that my mother-in-love, a woman who has been an incredible mother to me for twelve years, is alone for the first time in her 77 years of life and isn’t sure how to navigate the silence other than turning on the radio and leaving it on all day. I care that my husband isn’t sure what to do with himself now that he doesn’t have to go and lift his daddy from the wheelchair and place him into bed every early evening or run over there when Jim needed taken care of some other way. I hurt that my youngest doesn’t have much memory of her grandfather as anything other than a Parkinson’s patient and I hurt more that my eldest does and misses the grandfather he knew before this hideous disease invaded our lives.

I don’t care about heaven right now, y’all. Trying to skip over the pain doesn’t lessen it. It forces me into a place of smiling and nodding, pretending that yes, sure, I’m all good, because, hey, we’ll see him again and isn’t that grand.

It’s not grand today. Please let it be okay that it’s not grand. Just for a little bit. We can rejoice in stuff worthy of rejoicing about in time. For now, I need to take a friend’s very wise advice and be gentle with myself. I need to let myself recognize that even though this was a long, long battle that I thought gave me time to be prepared, I was wrong. It still hurts. Each day is a little better than yesterday – I laughed a real laugh yesterday morning with the kiddos, went to the office, and even managed to keep a lunch date with ladies from my neighborhood – but it still hurts. And I’m going to let it hurt for a little while longer. It should hurt. A truly wonderful man is not here anymore. It should hurt.

I try to think of what I will say to people in the future when I hear that death has taken someone they loved off this earth. I don’t think I’ll jump to references of heaven. I think I’ll say, “I’m sad that you’re sad,” or “I’m so sorry this pain has come,” or borrow from my wise friend Mary and say, “Be gentle with yourself.”

Anyway, I do appreciate all of you who have offered comfort and even those of you who have jumped to the heaven references. I know you mean well. I know that. I love you for that. I just wanted to ask you to let me sit here in this remembrance of him and missing him for a little while longer before I have to take a deep breath, set it aside, and pick up full time living and hoping again.

Because even the promise of heaven doesn’t give back the exact same as what was. And saying goodbye to what was…takes a little while.

 
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Posted by on August 4, 2016 in Inside This Life

 

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Why A Kiss Is Enough

A young loving couple hugging and kissing on the beach at sunset. Two lovers, man and woman barefoot near the water. Summer in love

With the release of my latest novella, SECOND GLANCE, some folks have noticed that I don’t tend to let my characters go too far (if at all) past kissing. Then they read my blog (especially that Morning Sex post) and decide I must be a prude. While that makes me laugh hysterically (and my husband gets a GIANT kick out of it), I’ve decided to reveal the reason behind my choice and explain here why kissing is such a big deal to me (and, by extension, my characters).

I am a sex abuse survivor. Doesn’t make me special – at least a quarter of the women in this country can (sadly) say the same thing. My husband and I were married for seven years before I voluntarily, spontaneously initiated a kiss between us.

Our son was five, our daughter nearly two. Over a year earlier, I’d seen our precious littles playing in the living room floor and been surprised by the thought, “They’re depending on me to teach them how to live. They need me to be healthy.” I knew I wasn’t healthy, mentally and spiritually, regarding physical love but I’d gotten by and had no intention of upsetting the applecart until that breathless moment when I understood that these little beings didn’t need to be affected by my past.

They were free of it.

And I wondered if I could be, too.

So, I embarked on a journey to deal with “the shit” as my husband and I came to call it. I apologize for the vulgarity. If ever there is a time to use a vulgar word as a descriptor, my past experience seemed to be it.

Fast forward nearly two excruciating/exhilarating years later, and I found myself walking through our breakfast room right through the space in which I’d stood contemplating my children’s need for a healthy mom. As I glanced across the room and into the kitchen at my husband, a strange feeling overwhelmed me. I couldn’t puzzle it out at first. I knew part of it to be love. I was feeling love for that man. But it took me several seconds to realize I had a God’s honest desire to kiss him because I loved him. I’d never had that!

I’d been standing there staring at him as I puzzled this out, which drew his attention. He turned his face toward me. “What?” he asked.

I walked over to him, tilted my face up to his, stood on my tiptoes, and kissed him. I’ll hold to decorum and just say here that we’ve been married nearly 12 years and we both remember that kiss.

Kissing is the most emotionally intimate of all physical acts. It is the hardest to ignore when it’s happening (trust me, I know) – much harder to divorce your brain from than sex. A kiss allows another human being into the space of your life from which you speak – and speaking is how everything came to be in the first place. Your mouth is both powerful and vulnerable, giving and receiving, all at the same time. A kiss says a million feelings and thoughts without uttering a spoken word.

I’ve kissed wrong. I’ve kissed right.

Done as it was intended by the Creator, kissing is powerful. It is definitely powerful enough for my characters to convey the depth of emotion and story needed to sweep a reader off her feet.

You know what I don’t find powerful? When two characters who met five milliseconds ago kiss for the first time and somehow that’s an immediate assumption that sex is wanted/needed/necessary/wise. With all the sex on tv and in films and books, I think the shock factor for writers today lies in revealing a kiss for what it genuinely was meant to be, and is.

Having worked very hard and finally come into the experiential knowledge of the power of kissing. I wish we writers could start giving the act its proper due.

So, I do.

 

 

From Beneath the Trees

“I just cannot believe that you’re gone…Rest in peace, my friend.”

I read the posting of an old high school friend to another high school friend’s wall on Facebook last night. Confusion. Alarm. What was she talking about? I frantically clicked over to the friend’s page and began scrolling through condolences and utterings of shock. It took a few minutes before I read the post explaining that a tree had fallen on our friend’s car as she went to pick up her kiddos from school, killing her instantly.

A tree.

Fell.

At the exact moment she came down a two-lane country road.

Falling in the precise way needed to cause immediate, deadly impact.

My mind scrambled. Where was the logic? How could this make sense? It’s one thing for someone to lose their life because they were doing something or being somewhere they shouldn’t have. Then we all nod our heads and think it makes sense and it can’t happen to us because we’ll make wise decisions and avoid that kind of danger.

But this? A tree fell. A RANDOM TREE. Who can prevent that? Outwit it? Prepare for it?

And why her? I live in a town whose main road is Pine Ridge. It’s lined with, you guessed it, pine trees. Giant ones. I’ve marveled at their majesty and rolled down my windows just to listen to them as the wind blows through, to breathe deeply and take their scent into my lungs. I never considered them a threat.

Now, fear lanced through me. With the fervor of a mom whose kiddos have been threatened, I started planning routes to school, work, the grocery store, the hairdresser, and the bookstore that wouldn’t involve Pine Ridge Road. Should I write the city and ask them if the trees could come down? Tell my husband of other, safer, less treed routes?

Within an hour, our high school class rallied together on Facebook, coordinating donations for flowers at the funeral and funds for her children. And then, once it was clear all the details were handled for the logistics of our meager attempts to do something, anything, to combat this incomprehensible tragedy, the postings turned to grief. And then, as if we all realized everything we hadn’t said to her when she was with us, what we hadn’t said to each other in years, these people I haven’t seen for twenty years began reminding each other, “I love you. I miss you. Kiss your babies tonight. We should get together. A reunion.”

I trudged up the stairs and fell into bed. Wrestled through the night as falling trees and high school memories collided in my mind. Woke up to the realization that this is how the enemy ruins life for me. He wraps fear and tragedy around beauty, encompassing it so completely that it can barely be seen or felt and so I abandon the beauty inside. He robs me of the joy of a good thing that succumbed to the broken world in which it was placed. He doesn’t let me see the “I love you” and “I miss you” and pulls my mind hard toward the fear that this could happen as easily to anyone else I love, or to me – leaving my babies behind – and that makes loving people a dangerous thing, not a beautiful thing.

But I didn’t die yesterday. Which means I need to live today. Somehow. Even as I fear and try to handle the troubled soul in me. So I got out of bed. Showered. Dressed. Dressed the kiddos. Piled them into the car and backed out of the shelter of the garage. And, as my little girl read a story aloud and my son told me about the basketball practices he’s loving, I drove us right down Pine Ridge Road.

The pine trees still majestically lined the road, drinking in the morning sun and gently waving in the breeze.

And I defiantly chose to acknowledge their beauty from my broken place here, beneath the trees.

 
 

His First Sleep Away Camp: A Mama’s View

Since that moment the ultrasound tech announced, “It’s a boy!” I’ve been committed to raising an incredible man. A man who knows his own mind and chases the One who gave it to him. Who models his heart and self after his Maker’s heart and self. I’m not a mom who keeps the apron strings tightly tied or keeps her chicks close to the nest. I’m raising a leader here. Two of them, actually. He has a little sister.

Andy and his camp counselor

Anderson and his camp counselor

And then came the first sleep-away camp.

Four weeks. Thirty-two days, to be exact.

Jumping in with both feet.

At ten years old, my firstborn eagerly anticipated attending the same sleep-away camp in North Carolina that his father enjoyed for four blissful childhood summers over twenty years ago. Tales of swimming, sliding, hiking, and shooting filled our home, inciting visions in young Anderson’s vivid imagination that could not be denied.

He wanted to go at nine.

I said no.

Not because of the apron strings or umbilical cord, but because he wasn’t ready. Moms know these things.

This year, though, I felt pretty sure he was ready.

Until we arrived at the camp. Oh my goodness, what a place. Running water was the biggest luxury the place could claim. “Cabins” more aptly described as “shacks” or “shanties.” Hanging on to their stilt-leg foundations by a prayer. Gang “showers” with shower-heads that even Lowe’s has the decency to not sell.

My modest boy changes in his bedroom with the door closed. How would he handle showering with eight strangers every day? And then sleeping in a room with five more of them? I eyed the “mattress” of his bottom bunk, fairly certain the bubble mailers I use to send books to clients had more padding.

My son’s face also registered misgivings. My mama heart and mind went into overdrive. Ready? Not ready? I hid on a hill and peered through the trees as he stood with other pale-skinned boys in front of the freezing pond chosen for their swim test. Some jumped in – loud, so loud, covering their panic and fear with voices that hadn’t yet deepened into manhood – while others paced the makeshift deck, casting furtive glances to the water and counselors, gauging if this test really had to be taken right here, right now.

My boy elected to take the test another day, in a pond they promised would be warmer.

I wondered anew. Ready? Not ready? I had the camp leader get him from his cabin and bring him to me. We set off down the gravel path across from the freezing swimming hole. I showed him where I’d spied on him. Asked him if he’d felt scared. (Yes.) Disappointed in himself for not taking the test. (Yes.)

And then I turned and faced him full on.

“You’ve had a taste of this place. You want to do this? You feel ready to do this?”

I watched him fill his lungs, chest expanding – a chest so much wider now than that day they’d placed his 7lb frame in my waiting arms.

He gave one nod. Short. Quick. Hard. “I can do this.”

Mama pride filled my chest and I fought tears. “Yes, you can.”

We walked back to the camp leader and I handed him over with a fast hug and soft, “I love you.”

I drove away thinking of Hannah taking her newly-weaned son, Samuel, to the temple and leaving him to be raised to serve God. How did she do that? What a woman. A real mother.

I sent Anderson his first letter today, along with the bar of soap he forgot in the van. (Did Hannah send Samuel care packages?) I made sure to let him know I’m proud of him. That he doesn’t have to choose between growing up and pleasing me. The two are synonymous. I told him, “My job as your mama is to discern the moments for testing and the moments for resting.”

My boy is on a grand adventure that will come with testing. He’ll come home a little less boy, a little more young man.

And I’ll walk the path a million other moms have walked before me. Raising our baby boys into astounding men. Goodness, it’s not for the faint of heart.

 
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Posted by on July 6, 2015 in Inside This Life, Life Lessons

 

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