It happened again. This morning I opened my door and a miracle of friendship was there waiting for me in the form of an evergreen wreath adorned with gift cards and cash and a card wishing my family and I well from a representative of Glennon Doyle Melton and some ‘local elves.’ It hit me like a wave, the friendship… the outpouring of love, compassion, kindness, generosity…My daughters looked at me in stunned silence as I began to cry and I told them I had to take a minute while I figured out how to put into words all that I was feeling. My usual go to is a release-the-floodgates expletive-filled outpouring of emotion inappropriate for children's ears and labeled "Mommy's Boston potty mouth," by their dad.
So... sometimes I have a hard time sleeping at night. You could chalk it up to my darling, snoring husband or the fact that I’m teetering on the edge of a square inch of mattress as the rest of the California King is being chewed up by said husband and a sweaty, pointy-elbowed, four-year-old, one tiny poodle and an army of pillows. Or who knows, maybe my lack of sleep could be due to that glass(es) of wine I enjoyed the night before? Maybe it's stress, worry? Nah. Perhaps it’s because I’m aware that those wee hours of morning are the only time of my day where I’m totally alone with my thoughts and my house is still and quiet and I crave the 'solitude' and no one needing anything from me except maybe more covers and 3/4 of my pillow?
Well, the other night I’d been sleeping fitfully and when I awakened about 3am I was feeling unsettled and stressed. I’m sure I was dreaming but I don’t remember about what, maybe the spicy worry burrito I had at dinner the night before? I keep my iPad next to my bed so I can read and escape into another bookish world and I snatched it in the dark, pressed a button and it illuminated the night. I was feeling out of sorts and wasn’t into my book so I chose to do something I rarely do and I strolled around on Facebook instead. In between photos of friends' bevvies there were stories about Western Democracy being dead, horrific animal cruelty, sexism (!), fake news stories and they’re devastating impact, the Great Barrier reef and the fact (FACT!) that it is dying faster than ever and blatant, shocking hate crimes. As I lay there on the tiny strip of available mattress scrolling through the doom and gloom I could feel my heart rate increase. Thump. Thump. There was a definite rapping inside my chest that once I noticed it thankfully returned my focus to my present moment. I turned off the iPad and took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. I thought, I, Marion McNabb, am resting safely in my four poster bed next to my loving husband and cuddlesome daughter and a newly shorn pooch under soft yellow blankets in a room down the hall from my two other, healthy, amazing children in our cozy home in Los Angeles, California, USA. I breathed in and out and I thought just about that. Me. Home. Family. We are all right. And I began to relax. My focus moved from the scary insanity paintbrush that the ‘future’ is sometimes colored with and back onto what is real and the absolute only thing any of us knows for sure - the present moment.
I've been thinking a lot about goals and being a writer and what I want and how to get what I want while being a mother of three with one still at home and paying bills and all of that fun stuff. It’s good to do that - but I think it’s equally important to pause and be exactly where I am and appreciate that and be there. Home. That is - me. I AM HOME. I'm not perfect (what?) but I try, and one of my goals is to always stay present. When I’m writing - I’m writing. When I’m driving - I’m driving. When I’m eating a sandwich I am mindfully chewing and swallowing. When I’m mothering - I’m full on mothering. When I'm brought to my knees by a miracle of love from friends, I'm there on my knees. Too much emphasis is put on where we want to end up and we need to enjoy the ride. Seems obvious - I mean we ALL know where we are going to end up some day, right? The time is right to be right where we are and I'm feeling the love.
And so, it’s the most wonderful time of the year. That’s quite a moniker! No pressure there, huh?! Well, by and large I do love it! I love the religion, charity, spirit, colors, decorations, cookies, magic, drinks, parties, music, movies, goodwill. I’m all in! I’m less enthralled with the stress and worry, the lines at the mall and the bah humbuggers and the nut crackers and the cost of everything and the how/what-do-I-get-so-and-so-who-has-everything-already stuff. But I guess that’s the yin and the yang. The good and the bad. Which do we focus on?
After this morning's amazing miracle of love on my doorstep and driving in to school with my kids we were cut off by a horn-loving, angry Honda driver. It was a startling reversal of the goodwill we'd been the focus of just a few minutes earlier. We laughed a little at the absurdity and I wished the poor fucker well on his day and then we turned our focus to the delightful minivan with reindeer antlers ahead of us. And so the yin and the yang. We accepted the negative and chose to focus on the positive.
All of those issues that set my heart racing at 3am a couple of nights ago - well, they don’t go away with some mistletoe and lights and me in my shoes in my home in LA with angel friends. Those issues exist in my world and so I know that in the clear light of day I need to make time to address the dreary, the savage, the heartless, and by doing that I can bring it into my present and actually make an impact. I can continue the good deeds my friends have bestowed me by being an active participant in love. I can do things. I can donate blankets and towels to the animal shelter and buy cage-free eggs and prepare delicious meat-free meals for my family. I can write “Not Bannon” on a postcard and mail it. I can conserve water and take shorter showers, because the less I use, the less runoff there will be that flows into and contributes to the destruction of our oceans. I can speak up when a racist tells a joke and say “that’s not funny.” Or better yet tell them to fuck off! This week Amal Clooney asked women to "practice acts of feminism." Preach it, sister. I know my friends are listening, doing. Being there. Women are helping women and the ripple effect from the support will continue.
So, Christmas is springing up all over the place. The lights and decorations and hats and all of it - but the spirit, the meaning of Christmas, the celebration of God's gift of love to us - of kindness, charity and goodwill to all men is here, too. I am so grateful... It is not the easiest position to be in but to bear front row witness is humbling and dammit - inspiring! And I endeavor to do what my sister friends and my BFF Glennon Doyle Melton have been doing for me and that is to combat the negativity by turning my focus to the kindness, to continue to serve others, to pray and express my gratitude loudly and to lend my voice in peaceful protest to tame that sometimes scary beast we call the future.
And by doing all of that I know, especially tonight, that I will sleep better.