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just write {87}

May 28th, 2013 | 2 Comments »

There’s a mist that seems to hang in the early morning air, heavy and humid from the water lapping at the shore, the cool morning temps that kicked the furnace on at 6:45 this morning.

I’m glad to be awake actually. Dreamless and sleeping deeply, the stiff mattress transferred all it’s solidity to my shoulders and upper back and I wince slightly as I turn over, grateful to have slept for multiple hours in a row in a state so blissfully unaware. I’d left the bedroom window open, and through it, as the furnace roars it’s morning greeting from the other room, I can hear the birds conversing in the trees. The entire lake emptied out yesterday; windows closed to the humid and cool air, shades drawn and fishing poles tucked away and last night as the profound silence settled over the empty lake, I gazed out at the darkness, no campfires dotting the shores, the black expanse of water just down the slope of the yard and I thought of how alone I feel here like this, yet how safe and centered it makes me.

I sip coffee and slip on my running shoes. For more years than I can recall, my one recurring dream has been of me running; a strong and powerful dream that leaves me breathless in it’s attempt to tell me what I can do. It’s always the same, every single time; I am running, breath strong, powerful muscles and stride, determined, and capable. Every time it graces my sleep, I awaken charged and ready and think I can conquer a marathon. I haven’t dreamt this particular dream in a while, but it’s memory clings in the very fibers of my life, a reminder, or gentle prodding.

Somewhere in me, I know there is a runner that is screaming to get out. So I run.

It’s nothing like my dreams, but I don’t expect it to be. You aren’t born capable of anything, except living in the day to day. Our abilities and strengths lie deep within us, and if our dreams can show us, without doubt or hesitation what we are capable of, then we owe it to ourselves to listen. I walk, loosening my legs and that stiff upper back, and when I finally turn off the two-lane and on to the dirt road, I break in to a soft run, feeling muscles in my legs and hips loosen even more. For a few moments, it’s wonderful and just like my dreams, then my lungs start protesting, fighting with my body over control of my brain and I’m forced to slow to a walk again.

But I keep going. I walk. Then I run. Then I walk again. It gets easier, but it really doesn’t. Nothing worth having comes without some kind of fight; a good relationship doesn’t just occur without a little work, homes aren’t built without careful planning, well placed boards and a solid foundation and a runner doesn’t just awaken from a dream and take on a marathon.

This is the moment where we say to ourselves “I know I am capable of so much more.” So I keep going. I run/walk around the South side of the lake to the highway, and here I have to decide-  do I turn around, knowing that steep hill is behind me and I will have to run UP that if I return this way? Or do I keep going, through the woods on the other side, past the Jack-in-the-Pulpit and Woodland Violet, under the towering birch and cottonwood? I keep going, through the trees, stopping on the dirt road to raise my eyes to the green canopy above and give thanks for the strength to continue, to chase after this crazy dream of running at 49. I’m energized, and I’m warm. I’ve stripped off my jacket, I’m in my running tank and the air is cold on my sweaty skin but the dream tells me to keep moving.

To keep running.

Whether it’s about running, or just a metaphor for my life, I’m compelled to listen to the dream, to figure it out, not give up. I’m compelled to keep running, whether it’s to an eventual 5K, to the end of the month, another year of marriage, planning of hopes and dreams or just to the end of this day, on an empty lake under heavy gray sky. Maybe the dream isn’t about the act of running, but the race before us, the daily shuffle-step that often falls with a dulling thud in it’s monotony, the dream urging me to keep my head up, keep breathing, shoulders down, back straight, eyes forward. To just keep going.

Visit The Extraordinary Ordinary for this week’s Just Write. 

just write {83}

April 30th, 2013 | 9 Comments »

Warm sun quickly filled my bedroom that morning, and I was struggling to put on clothing that felt right for the sudden jump in to Spring. What if the church where I was going would be air-conditioned and cold? What if I looked like I’d spent too much time on this? It was only a short conference, only a group of women, immersed in faith, coming together in the flesh to adhere as a body, to understand community and relationships and trust in one another.

It wasn’t that big of a deal, really. I kept telling myself that. My bare legs felt odd. My shoes felt odd. I felt odd. I wanted to shrug off the skirt, the clothing that wasn’t yet right, the feeling in my chest of my heart jumping in anxiety and just stay home. Stay safe.

The smiling faces of two dear friends greeted me in the parking lot, making my anxiety less acute. I knew a dear friend waited inside. Why did I feel apprehensive? All of us that day live our lives in faith and attempt to seek grace on a daily basis. We are not so different.

But we were the one thing that most of us fear; we were strangers.

I thought I would be safe, seated with people I knew and trusted, who’s faces gave me comfort, smiles that made my heartbeats calm. I could breathe among their energy, feel safe and secure there but the dreaded icebreaker came along and everyone started talking. The room closed in immediately and heat rose within me, breaking beads of sweat on my face that made me want to cry. I wanted to flee, run as fast as I can away from the fear and into the safety of myself.

I hate feeling so uncomfortable, so vulnerable and wide-open and yet so closed off and insignificant all at once. What did I have to offer them? What could they possibly gain from me? Who did I think I was bringing myself among strangers, to try and let down my guard and climb over my walls and in to another garden to see what life is growing there?

I wanted to run, to withdraw and disappear and not smile and talk and exchange knowledge and information or anything that would remove the bricks I had placed, one by one. Among friends I am at ease. I am soothing and comfort, hugs all around. Among strangers I become the old and broken, the one left behind too many times, the one forsaken. I won’t extend myself or reach out. I will stay shrouded in my own broken self.

I listened when the words began to flow, when the voices spoke out from the screen about community and relationships. I listened when the voices spoke of staying through the turmoil and hardships, through the dark valleys and tears that don’t stop and time that feels sluggish and muddy. Through times of hurt and misunderstanding. Through days that aren’t crystal clear, bright, and perfect. When we commit to one another in friendship, in marriage, in God and hope, we commit to stay, regardless. We have time to heal ourselves and others; time to build and understand, time to grow and accept and appreciate. We don’t have to be in the same places as those we choose to sit with on our friendship benches. We don’t have to have children the same age, be at the same stage of life, or live within the same neighborhood.

We don’t even have to be the same age.

And I have lamented endlessly that I seem to be the grand dame of my friends, the oldest one, sometimes by far and away over what feels like too many years. How can I relate to them when ages make them young enough to be my children? But the words spoke clearly to my heart that God draws those together who can most learn from one another and age, time and distance means nothing when the heartstrings are bound with His love. I’ve crashed around on rough seas and been thrown, tumbling heels over and over, sandpaper roughed up with life’s cruelest touches and maybe, just maybe I have something to say that they need to hear.

The room was stuffy and the coffee was good. There were cupcakes so delicious that I may have eaten more than one. I may have stayed in my chair and not ventured around the room to meet many others, but my heart was filled with words that spoke with razor-sharp truth to exactly what I needed. I’m home, in this world, with the people God has placed in my life, just for me. And I needed to climb over that fence of apprehension, drive across miles of concrete, greet friends I’ve never met, sisters in Christ and stay, regardless.

Just for us. We’ve found our bench where we can gather. And all we have to do is show up.

This is the 83rd installment of Just Write, hosted by Heather of The Extraordinary Ordinary.

{{sponsored by (in)courage- home for the hearts of women, on Saturday April 27th, 6,000 women met in 590 places in 20 countries around the globe to connect beyond the computer screen and embrace community and friendship. This is the 2nd year I’ve gone and despite my anxiety, it was clearly the place I needed to be.}}

knee touch

April 30th, 2012 | 4 Comments »

It’s late on a Friday night and after dinner, the long drive home and a quick change into my ‘after work’ clothes, we climb into his little sportscar and sit, shoulder to shoulder, driving through the settling dusk to pick up my car from it’s day-long service appointment. It’s the first chance we’ve had to connect since I kissed him goodbye at 9:09am that morning, and as the miles ground out under the tires, the familiar whine of the engine in my ears, I relax in to him, the familiarity and common life shared as words fall from our tongues; my day, his day, our life. Our future. Ten years nearly have passed but this never gets tiresome, this shared connection between us, this negotiating of life, even the tiniest of details about the hours apart. After seven years of doing this solo, every moment of raising my boy alone with no one to support even one little decision, it’s one of the treasures of marriage that I covet.

We’re almost there and our minds slow, empty and tired; it’s been a long week, again (and again and again) in the shuffle-step of life shared. I touch the key in my pocket and turn towards the window. And he reaches to me, placing one hand on my knee.

This gesture is so familiar that it shouldn’t even phase me, but tonight, it settles deeply in to my heart and spreads outward in my blood, a warmth coursing through me, his strong fingers gently rounding my leg. This is his move, or my move in our common life, one that speaks a thousand words without uttering a single syllable. Born of struggling through hard moments, of anger built so fierce and sharp that fights for what it wants, 3,650 days of the give and take of marriage, it’s outward appearance bears little understanding of the words pouring forth from this single intimation. It speaks to an ocean around us, ours alone. We could sit there in complete silence and reach for one another, almost in unison, a hand on the knee saying ‘This is ours.’


In a room full of women, she stands, one arm wrapped tight around her as she speaks, while her eyes dart around the room. I recognize what her body says without words. Our eyes catch and for a moment, I sense a relief through her while her beautiful smile widens. The embrace is sweet, and it’s long because we know each others hearts, we read each others words and we just know. As friends that share a portion of their lives and experiences, we just know, and we get each other and it can be a bridge to an outpouring of words, or it can be a vase that holds us gently inside, with our commonness and our just knowing.

We talk but there’s so much going on around us that intimate conversing is impossible and yet, as we begin, as a body, watching and learning, I go to her, taking the seat beside her so she doesn’t sit alone because I know inside her that it’s better this way. We are inside the vase and watching together as women speak of sharing life and emotion and one woman on the screen says emphatically “When we share our brokenness and emotions, our real experiences and our hearts, we open up the door for others to do the same.”

I reach for her, almost without thought, laying a hand on her knee and I feel her relax in to this gesture. I don’t need the words; she knows that I’m saying to her ‘You do this. And this is what happens. And it’s so very good.’ She smiles; and the silence is sufficient, as her emotion and her knowing travel through her heart and blood right to my hand. This isn’t a 10 year marriage, this isn’t even a lifetime of friendship but this is something bigger, a point in time, a friendship scripted from above, where a single gesture can speak more words than one tongue could ever imagine. Where friendships meet in a sacred space that looks like a blank screen and black letters but is so, so, so much more than that. Where a shared experience brings healing and life, opening the door for others to step through, into welcoming arms, lucid in understanding and the necessary transparent grace of one hand on a knee that simply says ‘I know. And this is ours.’

This is Week 33 of {{Just Write}}, over at Heather’s little spot on the internet, The Extraordinary Ordinary.
Ironically, Heather’s {{Just Write}} entry today talks about lil ol me. And that second part of mine up there?
That’s about her. Funny how that works, huh??

weekend of nothing {{Just Write 28}}

March 27th, 2012 | 2 Comments »

Saturday used to be my most favorite day of the week.

Sleeping late, leisurely coffee in the morning, with the newspaper that I used to obsess about reading. There were different clothes for Saturday, the light seemed brighter, the hours an endless stretch in front of you that led to a Saturday night that morphed into an even lazier Sunday morning, a bigger newspaper, more coffee and even more comfortable clothes.

Then life came along, with it’s endless responsibilities, and children that don’t get the ‘sleeping in’ on Saturday and suddenly it’s a free day that you don’t get during the week while you work and so you rush, do, move, make, clean, go, visit, fix, tend, leap and eventually, collapse. And then Sunday comes, and it’s a short segue into Monday, where the cycle starts all over again.

Or, like me, you take a job where you work every single Saturday, the busiest day of all in the grocery business and then Sunday takes on a whole new meaning. The one day of complete and total rest that you get. And you realize, quickly, that it isn’t enough. You realize how much you miss those lazy, long Saturdays.

My teenager, as teens go, never gets up early. I loved that stage when he finally stopped bouncing out of bed so early, where I could wake up late on the weekend without the gasp of panic that I’d missed something, that he’d woken and stealthily slipped downstairs to wreak havoc on our house and our kitchen. And now, with working every Saturday, I miss those quiet and loose mornings of nothing.

This past weekend I had one of those throwback weekends, where I could wake on Saturday with the entire day ahead of me, that light and those clothes and the coffee that somehow tastes so different and no real tasks that needed immediate attention. I could just stare down the hours, flitting from one point of interest in my home to another and think ‘If I want to just stop, right here, and just be right here, right now, I can do that.’ and it felt amazing, and lazy and grand. And when Sunday came around, instead of using those hours to recharge and rethink, I felt enough energy to bust out several tasks on the home front, especially after a vigorous morning hike.

I miss my weekends. Real weekends of down time and recharging. I miss lazy mornings with Saturday coffee, staring out the window as the world wakes up. Because somehow, on Tuesday, when my real weekend starts, it doesn’t feel the same. It’s Tuesday light and air, and the clothes don’t speak in the same way. It’s Tuesday, not Saturday, but it is a ‘Saturday’ because it’s my ‘weekend’ even though it’s the middle of the week and that just doesn’t make much sense in my head.

So I guess, instead of trying to force one day to always feel like another, sort of like expecting Easter to feel like Christmas, I’ll just remember to take off a Saturday when I can manage it, to not expect Tuesday to be anything besides Monday’s follow-up and to embrace my mid-week ‘weekend’, time off when the majority are at work, coffee in the Tuesday morning, a different light. It’s still a long stretch of hours that morph in to an evening that follows through with another long day of hours.

And all those hours are mine. Whether Saturday, or Tuesday.

Can you believe it’s the 28th installment of Just Write???
Visit The Extraordinary Ordinary for more links. 

almost 18, and still taking baby steps

February 21st, 2012 | 3 Comments »

This boy of mine, a man-child with the deep voice and winsome smile, self-sufficient and capable who is learning to drive and manage a bank account and negotiate girls and friendships….. so much that’s happening with him on every passing day but he can’t seem to manage taking a shower without a few heavy knocks on the door.

And on occasion, shutting off the hot water and giving him ‘The Big Chill’.

As battles go, I know this one is pretty low on the priority scale. When we say ‘Be home by midnight’ he’s usually walking in the door around 11:30. When he has a sleepover with his friends, the worst thing they do is consume too much junk food and pop.
He makes his own breakfast and lunch. When we ask for him to manage dinner, he makes us a feast. If I leave him a task list before I go to work, it’s complete by the time I come home. He still likes to hang out with us, watching a movie or TV show. He washes his own clothes without our prompting, he willingly goes to church, he loves to read and he enjoys good friendships with his band of brothers from his Youth Group, and with his cousins.

But, he still needs ‘The Big Chill’.

He’s not sneaking out of the house after we’re asleep, to meet friends who encourage illicit activities. He’s not coming home from hanging out with his pals sporting telltale signs of substance abuse or alcohol consumption. He’s not stealthily smoking cigarettes, chasing after all kinds of girls, committing vandalism, TP-ing houses, terrorizing neighbors. We trust his friends, and that goes far. If the worst offense he encounters away from the protection of our wings is a trip to Chipotle after his rec league basketball game, then I consider us pretty darn lucky.

Then come those morning, and we have to flip that knob that cuts the flow of hot water, because the knock at the door and the responding ‘Ok.’ haven’t made a bit of difference.

He turns 18 in April, and yet, in no way in this man-child an adult. Maybe in some ancient time, when life was far different and everyone needed to be so much more self-sufficient, and when the life expectancy was more like 30, when we didn’t have the ability to thrive in to our 80’s or higher, when the dangers of life could take their toll far quicker and more exacting, maybe then 18 was adulthood, worthy of responsibility, of letting go and watching them spread their own wings to fly. Used to be that a girl of 18 who was unmarried was considered too old. A time existed that man of 18 had all the markings of adulthood;  a wife, a homestead and his own team of horses. But this isn’t the case now.

And that’s all right with me. I wasn’t ready to fly by myself either at that age. And although he moves closer to finding his own freedom every day, and we plot to move him in the right direction, he still has moments where he sits down by me, just wanting my proximity. He still loves it when I grab him in a huge hug, and hold on tight. He can figure out his future, take stock of what he wants from it and try to make it all work out and I can sit back and enjoy the process of seeing him test those wings, listening and supporting his ideas. I find a few things to tease him about, but it’s a huge stretch to do so, because this boy of mine, for all those moments of forgetfulness, when he doesn’t recall the task list I left or simply decides he doesn’t want to do what we ask, well those are few and far between. And as parenting a teenager goes, it’s an awfully good thing going on here, worthy of the pride it evokes.

If my only vice with him is that he is soothed by a long, hot shower in the morning, then I’ve got little to complain about.

{{Just Write 23}} is happening, over at The Extraordinary Ordinary.
Won’t you head over there and read some of the other posts?? 


January 10th, 2012 | 4 Comments »

There’s no resolutions, no expectations for the year ahead. There’s no ‘To-Do’ list for 2012, rich with lofty goals and making better all those little things that make me who I am and there’s no Bucket List. Definitely no Bucket List.

But this morning, as I sipped my coffee and watched the sun rise over the neighboring roofs, much like I do each morning, what came to me was a word: mindful. And I began thinking of all the ways that being mindful could benefit the 12 months ahead. More than making resolutions, more than tackling a Bucket List of items to cross off before I die, more than the desire to drop a pants size once again (sigh….) more than any of that and even more important than any of that is the need to be mindful to my life and all these little areas of it that slide up against one another. The job. My family. These incredible friends. The cooking. This blog. My need for space and nature. The desire to keep my body from stagnating with age. My deep need to learn, stretch, grow and evolve, still.

I need to be mindful of all of that. Mindful of the hours I spend at my job, and that it always, always lifts me up to step inside those doors, don the deep blue chef coat and do what I do, even when all I’m thinking about is being home, snuggled up with a cat and a book.

I must be mindful of the foods I place in my belly, to know that the best ones give me the best feeling inside, that the wrong ones seem to insult me, pushing my head in the wrong direction, and sadly, make me want more of the bad, less of the good. Funny how hard that is to fully understand and accept what my body so clearly knows.

There needs to be mindful thought to the interactions I have with others; to not be selfish in our discussions, to be mindful of their needs and wants, to meet them on their terms and convenience even if it means I drive across the city to them, to sometimes just close my mouth so they can open theirs. To embrace and accept them as they are, where they are and who they are. Celebrate the joys, empathize with the sorrows, support the new endeavors, cheer on the small victories. Mindful of watching, learning and gently cradling what we have, these friendships that lift me and flutter within my heart.

I must be mindful that a story exists in each day, that a simple photo can capture more that words can express. Mindful that a few hours outside can make me understand God far more than anything else, that a charged phone goes a long way in grasping tight this daily shuffle of life and light, and even a short walk around my house on a sunny day can find so much simple beauty.

My cooking. This blog. It’s all important, and worth some thoughtful attention. I need to remind myself that it’s an ever-changing, evolving, rotating place of food and life. I need to be mindful of stretching and exploring the means to nurture and feed, that it’s not only body, but soul. And heart.

Mindful. No resolutions. No Bucket List. No outrageous expectations. But mindful thought, interaction, growth. Grace.  Always mindful grace.

It’s ‘Just Write {{17}} over at The Extraordinary Ordinary.

too busy to notice

December 20th, 2011 | 5 Comments »

I waken, I connect, then move through the motions of prep for my day; a lunch for later, breakfast for now, then a shower, fixing my hair, some makeup and a trip in the car, mostly without noticing anything. Not anymore. Light follows me in, then darkness ushers me home.

I move through my hours, work hours that either stretch on endlessly or fly by in a flash and I don’t notice the little things, or sometimes I do. The pretty purple coat, the lovely glittering pin on a collar, the purposefully ugly Christmas sweaters worn by the staff at the coffee counter, brightly cheerful and festive. I’m too observant for my own good sometimes, but then moments pass and I realize I haven’t seen anything at all. Not the pleading eyes of two cats that adore me, not the dust settling in the corners, or clinging to the high walls in the kitchen, not the Jade plant, observing it’s annual Christmas tradition of bursting in to bloom.

And life feels like it’s whirring by, a blur of events that I’m not noticing. My world opens and shuts, morning to night from daybreak to sunset and I go here and come back from there and share a meal, then climb the stairs to collapse before it begins all over again. My friends go places and enjoy themselves and I see it all happening and I think “Why not me?” and then I’m too caught up in what I’m doing to even really care all that much. But I do care. Because the Jade plant knows when to unfurl it’s tiny pink flowers, showing off to celebrate the season, and I seem to just watch the clock to make sure I’m not late, carefully folding the blue coat for work, making sure my socks are all clean and my pants aren’t dirty and I face towards the garage and I go. And I return and then do it all again.

Can resentment live with gratitude and not mess it all up? I’m so grateful for this job that I am so good at, with people who are strong in spirit and mind, funny and yet focused, ready and willing to help. I’m so blessed by my work, the customers with their questions both silly and serious and opening one’s eyes to the wonders of amazing food. It couldn’t be more perfect for me. But it takes me away from my life right now, with it’s rush here, go there and be on, on on all the time, with a smile and clean hair and a professional manner. And I struggle with resentment that I can’t enjoy it all. Next year, I say to myself, will be easier; I’ll know more about the job {{because this is my first year at it, I remind myself about a billion times a day}} and I’ll be better about the balance and the focus and noticing the goings-on around me.

I want to strip these blinders off, suffering from whiplash as I take in the world around me, the events of the season, the sparkle and shine. Why haven’t I seen that light display? I drive by this block twice a day and I’ve missed this, every single time. Why am I not noticing, where have my deeply observant eyes gone? I don’t buy in to the excess and stress of the season; I don’t shop for perfect gifts, nor create award-winning platters of amazing food worthy of a magazine spread or decorate as if House Beautiful is coming over. I celebrate the reason we celebrate, with the birth of a baby to a barely teenage mom in a lowly barn of filth, a baby that changed the world. And maybe so much of my resentment isn’t of life, but of how far off we’ve gone from this season, how badly we treat each other, how desperate lives have become, how sad the world seems to be. And there in itself is more reason to see those light displays shine, to throw off the blinders, to observe the good that remains. I just can’t be too busy to notice.


It’s ‘Just Write Tuesdays’ with Heather of The Extraordinary Ordinary. This week = the 15th installment.


December 13th, 2011 | 4 Comments »

My routine every morning is pretty much the same; awaken to the sounds of my husband coming in the room and placing a steaming cup of coffee at my bedside, dropping a kiss to me, then putting up the shade before exiting. Sometimes a cat curls up next to me, paws kneading the quilt, purring hard and fast, and as my mind becomes clearer and I sip at my cup, I reach for my glasses and suddenly the world springs to life.

Since I was six, my day can’t start without placing glasses on my face. The wedge dug deep into bone on the bridge of my nose attests to a lifetime of pressure, as the prescription gets worse and the glasses become thicker. I can’t see more than half a foot in front of me without them, but without clear sight, I’ve gained other senses in compensation. Like the ability to smell far too many things that others can’t detect, or such delicate hearing that any noise in the night, even a cat sighing in contentment at my feet can waken me. Taste is sharper, touch is sensitive but knock off my glasses and I’m helpless.

Most of the time, I never think about it. Glasses are all right, even chic and fashionable. The lenses are designed to be less thick, more invisible and the styles are beautiful. And when I remove them, and gaze around me, a world opens up that only the sightless can know; shapes are undefined, colors bleed in to one another and the world hovers, dream-like and ethereal.Those with perfect vision can’t know the beauty that bursts forth in my mind when I take off my glasses.

I’ve tried though; tried to describe to someone what I see when I don’t see. But I get a puzzled look, and a smile that says they can’t possibly know. But I want them to know, that even half blind I might see better than those with 20/20. If your eyes were closed and I dropped a handful of cotton balls to your palm, would you ‘feel’ the color white?  If a searing hot pan touches your skin, do you think the color red? Do ice cubes make you understand what blue really is? This sight that’s blurred at the edges, hanging in suspension,  it’s like a secret only those of us with gouges on the bridge of our nose can understand.

The lights are my favorite thing, sans glasses. And when my face is bare, they become like colored fuzzy blobs floating around, with no anchor or connection. If I squint a bit, they dance and shimmy. Christmas lights are the best; an explosion of colors and magical shapes that evade even the wildest of descriptions. And I could never make sense of it to anyone.

But then I found this……



This….. it almost brings me to tears. Because for all these years, in trying to explain what I see, the magic in staring at tiny spectral lights that are blurred, unfocused and seemingly floating in thin air, this photo captures it all. Perfectly. I could spend hours gazing at blobby hazy lights and I never get tired of it. Like my teeth, or my ears or my hair, it’s part of who I am. This lack of good eyesight, the lifetime of fuzzy images…. it’s not a disability. Not to me. I can remove my glasses and the rest of the world slips away, and sometimes this is not a bad thing. This is my world, my life.

Because when the world is out of focus to some, it’s breathtaking in it’s clarity to someone else. I don’t need to see clearly what I know is really there; it’s perfect, just exactly as I see it. And this photo? This is enthralling, pure magic. Kind of like Christmas itself.

And now, thanks to Grace, from the website ‘Habit…. a collection of days‘, I can share this clarity with others.


 It’s Just Write Tuesdays. Stop over at The Extraordinary Ordinary for our 14th week.

the ‘to don’t list

December 5th, 2011 | 8 Comments »

I’m most frantic with trying to handle all the red-hot details of so very much these days. And I’m no different than anyone else who makes an extensive list that helps organize and pull it all together. The process of extracting it from my brain into line by line visuals takes it from a jumbled mess in my head to categorized chaos on paper, and sometimes it helps pull it all together. Sometimes.

And then, inevitably, I just make more in my head and it starts all over again. Or the list is paralyzing in it’s length, or breadth and it causes me to stare, incomprehensibly at what I think I should do.

Then I lay there this morning, much as I do every day, thinking about the hours ahead and the things I want to do, and a thought struck me so profound and immense that I sat up, quickly, and reached for my phone. Because in this season of ‘To Do’ and ‘To Decorate’ and ‘To Bake’ and ‘To Cook’ and all the other ‘To Do’s we force ourselves to create, I started to think of the ‘To Don’t’ items, the ones that I wish to shut the door on, both this season, and all to come.

They might be something like this:

~~Don’t fall in to the hype of a commercialized Christmas.
~~Don’t get caught up in piteous little daily things and ignore your coffee when it’s hot.
~~Remember, every single day, why we celebrate Christmas. The real reason.
~~Don’t buy anything that you don’t think you will use for 12 months a year.
~~Don’t bake anything you don’t like.
~~Don’t say ‘Yes’ unless you absolutely can.
~~Don’t forget about you, your son and your husband.
~~Don’t wait to decorate if it’s what you want right now.
~~Don’t think you have to be there when the perfect tree is found. They can do it too.
~~Don’t pass by that beautiful light display, glancing at it out of the corner of your eye. Stop the car. And really LOOK.
~~Don’t think you can’t go for a walk when it’s cold; bundle up and suck it up.
~~Don’t forget your camera, regardless.
~~Don’t ever forget where you came from, ever, when you start thinking you don’t have enough.
~~Don’t forget that when you gather, it’s about the company and community and not about the food,
the treats or anything else.

And oh my word, could I fill these pages with my ‘To Don’t’s. Because, really,  this list is never-ending. And it doesn’t just apply to Christmas time, with all it’s frantic rushing and shoving through my days, exhaustively pressing pencil to paper in an attempt to slow it all down and control it. I have the same 24 hours as anyone on the planet. And no memories are made when I’m racing around in a panic, trying to fit it all in. And in among the massive endless ‘To Do” tasks that we think we have to accomplish, something will inevitably get lost, those moments forgotten in a mad rush or ‘this’ thing, or ‘that’ thing. And what are you willing to forget, to let go and push aside because some list of stupid tasks is more important?

All we’ve ever done, since list-making was created was make our ‘To Do’ lists, scratching out what we think is some semblance of order. For a dramatic change in perspective, I encourage you to write your own ‘To Don’t’ list.

What would be on it for Christmas this year?

It’s Just Write Tuesday over at The Extraordinary Ordinary. I’m a bit early this week.


November 29th, 2011 | Comments Off on moments

There are moments, as someone’s Mom, that you can’t change regardless of how much you wish you could.

The fall on the concrete, scrapes to the face and nose and a mouthful of sand.

Slipping on ice and little teeth slamming down on a tender lip; blood….. so much blood. And a scar for life.

A door accidentally shut on curious fingers.

Oh my poor heart as a competent nurse holds down my trusting baby…. my baby! and jams sharp needles in to both his chubby thighs. Watching that face crumple and the shrieks that rip in two your poor Mama’s heart.

The betrayal of a friend, the first of so many that will inevitably come. Or the good friend that moves away, and suddenly, there is loss.

The taunting of classmates, horrible teasing, the story of having a chair pulled out from underneath and hitting his head, or a mean kid pushing his face in to a pile of mashed potatoes at lunch while everyone laughs. The way he bravely tried to hold back tears as your heart sinks to your feet.

A biological parent that makes such terrible and dangerous choices that you can only withdraw and walk away. Far, far, far away. Setting boundaries you wish you never had to lay down, to say to a broken heart “I can’t let Daddy come back any longer.”

A grandpa who won’t drive to your new home, saying ‘It’s too far.’ as an excuse not to come around any longer.

Your heart breaks because it has to, because you can’t protect from all those moments, those times of self-growth and change and the hatred in the world for anything that is out of the ordinary, or extraordinary, as it would be. Your heart breaks when your flesh and blood begin to learn of how the world can wrench you in two and tear at your soul. You can’t protect or insulate them from life, the pain, the betrayals and poor choices. You can’t stop the hurt that others inflict. You can’t change the inevitable march to adulthood, with the sorrows and sadness and aches in the heart and you can’t even begin to comprehend how much you hurt when they hurt, how much you wish for that magic to wave away the unfairness.

They break. You break. They recover and you still break. Each year, each new moment is one slippage of time which could break a heart that may never forget, criss-crossed with scars. You step back, you grit your teeth and send them forward

Because it’s what a parent does.

Just Write Tuesday, over at The Extraordinary Ordinary, is on Week 12.