morning sounds

4) What really stresses you out, and how to do take care of yourself when you're in the midst of *waves at all that*. 

I'm not feeling the prompt this morning and that's OK ... it's OK because Effy said so and also because I can make my own rules ( and by that I am giving your permission as well ... to make your own rules ... do it!)

It should be a quiet morning here. It's a federal holiday, Labor Day ... " It honors the American labor movementand the contributions that workers have made to the strength, prosperity, laws and well-being of the country." ... which makes me just shake my head because I think it is safe to say that most of those who are free to celebrate this holiday today were not helped by the labor movement because that kind of work wasn't part of their story. It is also safe to say that all of the people who cannot celebrate today because they have to work aren't protected by unions ... I am thinking of retail industry and restaurant industries ( that most certainly will capitalize on the holiday) ... and of these construction workers here behind my house making my morning less quiet since about seven o-clock. 

and I think of that crew ... mostly Hispanic ... mostly likely some or many undocumented ... and I wonder if they have children ... and I wonder how the repeal of DACA ( Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) will affect their families. It breaks my already broken heart. And I wish I had more and more and more words that I could write about that but it all seems too little ... I sort of feel helpless in the constant deluge of destruction coming from our government. 

But I do what I can and I sink deeply into little self care moment to sustain me ... like having my coffee on the porch, on a beautiful morning. It is tempting to escape the pounding of hammers, the roar of equipment, the beeps of vehicles moving around ... it would be easy to feel exasperated. 

Instead, I am sitting here, being present. Holding love and light for the families represented by each crew member. I am listening with gratitude that the sounds serve as a reminder that life goes on ... and that is painful and sweet at the same time ... I wish the world would stop, reverse ... but I also want to know that there is something to reach for. 

I just glanced up at the trees and am stunned by the variety of greens hanging overhead ... beauty, right there. I think I'm out of words this morning. 



believing in she who was

3) Write about something you used to believe that you no longer believe and how that shift in belief has changed things for you. 

Yesterday, I spent about an hour shuffling through photos ... all the photos, in boxes, stored for years, packed and carted here when we moved ... photos in the boxes that I would get around to sorting and organizing some time later. All the boxes brought out as we all reached to find reminders of a boy growing up. 

In the midst of that search, I began to see evidence that I existed. That maybe I even more than existed ... maybe I lived. From here, I've looked back and only seen myself behind a closed door, trying to be OK, trying to live. Depression skews the present and it also skews the memories. The photos show a smiling mother, playing and laughing, reading to her children, making cookies, on adventures. I'm not sure that I know her. 

I used to believe that I was not good enough, that I had to work harder, be better, be good-er in order to matter, in order to be worth anything. I tried so hard. I would read the books and listen to the sermons and jump through the hoops because more than anything else I wanted to be good. I had never believed that about myself ... that I was good and I spent years and years striving for it. And failing. or at least feeling like I was failing. 

The shift did not happen over night or easily and it's far too long of a story for one  blog post but what began in 2005 on the back row of a church, tears streaming down my face and my saying to myself, "there has to be more than this." ended at a fire almost seven years later. 

I burned my journals in the Spring of 2013. Every word I had ever written in every book, I piled into boxes and dragged them out to the fire pit and I burned them. It took hours and hours. As I sat around the embers that night, still poking them with a stick to make sure every page burned fully, I said to my daughter, "that is a stinking big pile of not good enough"

The photos taken before and after are telling. I don't recognize the she who was but I know very well the she that I am now. 

Then I believed I wasn't good enough and now I can look back and applaud her for her life and how she loved and lived. I am so proud of her and her journey because I know what it took for her to get from there to here. 

in this moment, what I want

2) What do you really want?

I want to see my beautiful boy continue his journey into adulthood, chasing his dreams, falling more in love, creating a life of adventure. 

I want hope to return. 

I want to turn back time and correct the mistakes and love more and text and call even if it did seem like I was worrying ... because I did worry but I tried to trust and trust more. I want to go back further and be more present and more alive and I want things to be different then so maybe things could be different now.

I want to be gentle and pour grace on myself because depression was not something I chose nor is it something I could ever control.

I want to believe in second chances.

I want to have resources ... money and energy and time ... to make it all easier for everyone. It will never be easy but if I could just lift some of this weight off all of us. I want to be that strong. 

I want to be able to breathe.

I want silence and quiet and solitude to be a friend again. 

I want to not waste a second or an ounce of this grief ... because if I am going to be forever changed ( and I already am) I want the change to be for good and for love and for light.

well, this is awkward

1) Start where you are. What's going on with you? What's on your heart/mind today, right now, at this moment. No back story necessary. No disclaimers. What's up, buttercup? Spill it.

" well, this is awkward"

That's how I begin most conversation with people right now. Whether old friends or new ones, I am having to acknowledge the strange space between us, to own that I don't know how to be and they don't know how to be. This beginning to blog again and to do so in community with others accepting the invitation to blog through September with Effy ... well, this is sort of an awkward thing to be doing right now. 

and I just need to begin with that so I can move forward. 

What is going on with me? 

My twenty year old son was killed in a car crash two weeks ago on August 17th. Every day since, I have taken to Facebook and written love notes to him, to myself, to my husband and my children, to his friends and community. I've written about what this is like and how to move through this, reminding all of us to be gentle with ourselves and to take care of ourselves through this healing process. I've written to acknowledge the discombobulated process of grief. 

Writing is how I keep this energy moving. Grief is energy and it needs to move. So I write. I do other things too ... I paint, I dance, I take care of the people. But mostly, for now, I write. Blogging again seemed like the next natural step. But it is awkward because it feels too normal and nothing is normal. 

And everything is awkward. 


nine notations

Scrolling around on Instagram, lazily watching the Insta-Stories, I stumbled across Alisha Sommer taking note of the day. She had listened to an interview with the poet, Marie Howe by Krista Tippett on her podcast, On Being. In it, Marie Howe spoke of asking  her students to observe, be present, record what they see without attaching meaning to it, without using metaphor.

 ... I ask my students every week to write 10 observations of the actual world. It’s very hard for them.

MS. TIPPETT: Really?

MS. HOWE: They really find it hard.

MS. TIPPETT: What do you mean? What is the assignment? 10 observations of their actual world?

MS. HOWE: Just tell me what you saw this morning like in two lines. I saw a water glass on a brown tablecloth, and the light came through it in three places. No metaphor. And to resist metaphor is very difficult because you have to actually endure the thing itself, which hurts us for some reason.

MS. TIPPETT: It does.

MS. HOWE: It hurts us.

MS. TIPPETT: You naming something.

MS. HOWE: We want to say, “It was like this; it was like that.” We want to look away. And to be with a glass of water or to be with anything — and then they say, “Well, there’s nothing important enough.” And that’s whole thing. It’s the point.

MS. HOWE: It’s the this, right?

MS. HOWE: Right, the this, whatever. And then they say, “Oh, I saw a lot of people who really want” — and, “No, no, no. No abstractions, no interpretations.” But then this amazing thing happens, Krista. The fourth week or so, they come in and clinkety, clank, clank, clank, onto the table pours all this stuff. And it so thrilling. I mean, it is thrilling. Everybody can feel it. Everyone is just like, “Wow.” The slice of apple, and then that gleam of the knife, and the sound of the trashcan closing, and the maple tree outside, and the blue jay. I mean, it almost comes clanking into the room. And it’s just amazing.

once upon a time | nested meditation

from July 2004:

This is a technique that was shared with my writing workshop group this week. It is called Nested Meditation. I will share what I wrote and then give the instructions that were sent to me.

May you live all the days of your life.

May you live. All the days of your life will be filled with beauty.

May you live. All the days of your life will be filled. With beauty, you will walk toward the horizon.

May you live. All the days of your life will be filled. With beauty, you will walk. Toward the horizon, you will fix your gaze and continue walking.

May you live. All the days of your life will be filled. With beauty, you will walk. Toward the horizon, you will fix your gaze. And continue walking to find more grace.

May you live. All the days of your life will be filled. With beauty, you will walk. Toward the horizon, you will fix your gaze. And continue walking to find more. Grace and mercy will paint the sky.

May you live. All the days of your life will be filled. With beauty, you will walk. Toward the horizon, you will fix your gaze. And continue walking to find more. Grace and mercy will paint. The sky will burst forth with vibrant colors of love.

once upon a time | and forgiveness still

I finally watched the movie Moana this week. There was a line spoken ( that I haven't been able to find listed as a quote ... so maybe I made it up but I don't think so ) that was something about you can't know where you are or where you are going if you don't where you were. 

And that is why I am revisiting posts from the past. It's difficult to go back to who I was, to how sure I was of a life and a faith that I have now left behind. It's easy for me to label what was in all the negative ways. It is more difficult but also more important for me to hold every step with grace, honoring where I was because it brought me to where I am. 

wander and wonder

not all those who wander are lost
— jrr tolkien

and so the words say, as if being lost is a bad thing. 

What if being lost allows you to discover new paths?

What if being lost drowns out the external voices that scream, "This way! That way!"

What if getting lost is how you find your way home?

chasing shadows

As a fair skinned red head, I've never liked being in the sun. Though my growing up years found me inside more than not, when I did venture out, I found my sanctuary in the shade of the trees. Many times, I would hide in the branches of an old, unbelievably large, dogwood tree in our backyard. There I was sheltered from the harsh beams of light and life, held within the dappled soft play of illumination and shadow. 

I have said that it is a softer light that I seek but it is the shadow that captivates me.