Category Archives: Full Disclosure

Around Here

aroundhere

Yep, not only fell off the blogging wagon, but the wagon disappeared some time ago into the distance and I’m picking my way, unsteady and a little lost, in the direction I think it went.

I have missed Amanda’s beloved prompts, and my visits to the places where other good people write alongside. My Lists With Friends have been a victim of the last few months as well.

So today, a returning list, from Around Here:

  1. We put our house on the market on May 17th, and after forty-five days of the roller coaster of cleaning and prepping and showing and waiting, a lovely family decided to make our home of the last eight years their new home.
  2. Thus the busyness of keeping tidy and the exhausting internal game of trying to read the minds of strangers that is marketing a home shifted to the different busyness of preparing to move ourselves out of this space and into a new, very differently configured one.
  3. As we work through the paperwork and bureaucratic steps  that count down to closings, I’m trying to make things harder on this end to hopefully make them easier on the other.  Can’t even fathom a home for something in the new house, or been living happily without using it here?  Donate. Furniture we don’t need in the new house? Give to friends. Little decor projects I can do now? Hand me that spray paint.
  4. When we went back for our walk-through of our new-to-us home, I fell hard for the house all over again. I am gleefully excited to imagine a new space and layout, work with new colors, repurpose what we have to fit new uses.
  5. And then there’s our new hometown. The freedom and flexibility I’ve never had, my whole adult life. The library, coffee shops, thrift store, hair salon, all a short walk or bike ride away.  To be perfectly honest, I can’t really wrap my mind around that part yet. It hovers at the edge of all the preparations and organization like a half-remmebered dream.
  6. We have done a lot of living in this house, and our boys have grown from preschoolers to boys on the edge of young manhood in these walls, under these trees. When we first started talking about a move, I expected to feel sadder, more conflicted.  Instead, I feel grateful and ready.  Our time here is complete. As I lift my photographs from these walls and steadily the house becomes less personal, I’m thankful. I’m satisfied.  and I’m eager for all that comes next.

red lists

 

 

in the midst

inthemidst

I am peering into this space, seeing its wide white margins and curated words and photos and it seems like a kind of luxury.

Our house is still on the market, and until the sign went into the yard and we pinned our dreams and plans to another address on the map, I would have told you how much more serene I had become, about breathing and presence and peace.

The reality is less Zen. The reality is leaping in response to the text signal on the phone, as it might notify of a showing to a potential buyer. The reality is a house cleaned hopefully and fearfully, every day. A disgruntled cat, yowling from her carrier during uneasy rides in the car, and pots of touch up paint and endless trips to Goodwill.

Worse than the busy hands and restless feet is this monkey mind of mine, as it jumps from calculations and calendars to endless speculation about the motivations and desires of a nameless faceless buyer.  What does he want? What does she see?  Beneath all of it runs a constant supplication, for someone to fall in love here, as we did, eight years ago, with these very boards and bricks, these wide windows and old trees. My mind settles on little else.

John says we have rowed away from shore in the boat of this pursuit, and we do not aim to turn back.  We are in the midst, with nowhere to go but forward. We have come some distance from the place we pushed off from, the shoreline of our life in this space. Every day, as I polish this house’s surfaces and tidy its rooms, as I place meals on the table and see what color gladiolus have opened in the garden, I feel that distance.  Our hearts have packed their bags, steadily as the pile of salvaged boxes grows in the carport.  We are here and yet not here.  We may still be seated, but we lean forward.

 

 

 

 

Not Better, But Wider, or the Why to Go With the What

not-better-but-wider

So. I finally slept last night, soundly, only turning over as the six o’clock alarm went off and Monday stared peering around the edges of the shades. We have done it. The sign is in the yard. Our Realtor has fired up the great machine that sends the news of our house out where the buyers are, clicking through pictures and driving around with nervousness and hope. And we have found the area we want to be in, and walked the safe and side-walked less than a quarter mile to the library, the coffee shops, the park.

All my life I have been at home, at the window, waiting for rides, or waiting for the weekend and my husband’s off hours.  I’ve coordinated errands, and doctor’s appointments, and signed up for Amazon Prime to bring popcorn and gym socks and books to our door. We have juggled car pools.

It is a good life.  At every new season, I have bee blessed with friends who “get it,” who come and get me, who don’t want me to miss out on dinners and coffees and a Saturday at the thrift store.  John has never once complained, about joining all of Greenville at Costco on Saturday morning, or driving kids to school. It is a good life for an introvert like me, who needs long quiet hours to do my good work, who needs to recover after spending people energy.

But yesterday, on that sidewalk, waiting for the green lit message to walk, a new path opened in my imagination, a path of self-determination and independence. I felt the simple, gracious shape of the words in my mouth: “I’ll meet you there.”  There are hurdles between here and there, but that is where this way goes.

Not to a better life, but perhaps a wider one. For me surely, and for our boys, who are just the right ages to head off on bikes, to forge their own adventures.

We have loved it here, beneath our pecan trees. I’m trimming the roses and watching the lily buds swell and there is bittersweetness in the very morning light that pours into the kitchen. But then there is this other path, day by day more real under my feet.

 

 

next

next

It is a new season. Despite hats and lotion and shade trees, my collarbones are wearing their yearly blush of sunburn. The peonies have burst open. The lilies I gave up on are budding vigorously. We mow weekly now. Lemonade and grilled suppers, long twilights and mosquitos.

It is a new season in our hearts as well.  We have lived in this home well, cared for it, planted and tended its outdoor spaces and lovingly improved its indoor ones. But I hope by this time next week there is a sign in the yard, and down the road some new family to fill its walls with memories yet to be made.

We have set our sights on moving into the little town just north of here, where this non-driver could bike and walk all over, where we could all live less car-dependent and more fully in this foothills community we have come to love.  All the parts of this big decision have been simmering for awhile, but it has only just all come together.  The boys are on board, and we have all caught the vision of what this change could mean.

Of course, there is pruning and clipping and cleaning and putting away, shedding and sprucing. This house must be sold before the next is bought, but since we want accessibility to a specific area, we have been looking already.  All the questions and the math whirl in my head.  But beneath all the noise and the lists and Internet searches, there is peace.

I’ll be quiet here for awhile, I expect, as we see how the next steps of this journey go. In the meantime, I am delighted that a poem and a photograph of mine will appear in the upcoming summer issue of Kindred, which may be preordered here.

Wishing you all the beauties of May.

MK

 

write a letter

write-a-letter

Dear self,

You have been quiet. Not just here, semi-publicly wordless, but in your notebooks and on your beloved steno pads and on your scraps of paper in the bottom of your purse. Your camera has rested snug in its padded bag. Radio silence and imageless days slipping by.

This does not have to be a problem. At any rate, the problem is not so much the words you have not written or the shots you have not captured. The problem is that,  as the days slide by, you feel farther and farther from the country where you have written before, where words are scratched and twined and shaped until somehow a poem rises from the page.  That land feels more and more like a half-remembered vacation spot, a place you have visited but never lived, and the details of the route there escape you.

This imagined distance makes room for fear, which is always curling hungry around your ankles anyway.  Fear that you cannot find your way back to where the writing is, fear that the words have dried up.  That you have somehow used your allotment of poetry up, and there won’t be any more, thank you. Take up something else, girlie, anything but a pen.

But let me remind you, you have frozen in this fear before, and that means you know how to free yourself from it.  One line, and then another. About something, anything, about breakfast or laundry or the weather in Paris, about Ferris wheels or the glorious golden rise of cornbread in a cast iron skillet. Word by word you will make your way back, you’ll clear your throat, the light will lie on the counter like a spill of buttermilk and you’ll hold the day in your palm, a warm brown egg.

The map you’re making shows the truth, that the words do not live in a distant exotic place, but they cluster in the corners of your kitchen, they’re pushing up like the bulbs in the yard.  Let’s go gather them.

Love,

Missy

 

Stretching toward spring with all my might

and with the prompts at Write ALM

 

 

 

return

return

Yesterday morning we went to church, but not our own. Our sons participate in Boy Scouts, and yesterday was Scout Sunday, when it is customary for Scout troops to express appreciation to the churches that host their meetings and support the program. So we found ourselves in a pew of an Episcopalian church, with fair linen and kneelers and and a flame that never goes out, suspended over the altar.

I was raised Lutheran, to the extent I was raised anything, and the rite of Holy Communion with which I grew up shares many passages and responses with the Book of Common Prayer.  And so I found myself rising and singing and speaking from some place beneath memory.

Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy Name; through Christ our Lord.

God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one Being with the Father.

It is right, and a good and joyful thing, always and every-
where to give thanks to you, Father Almighty, Creator of
heaven and earth.

Peace be with you.

And also with you.

For many good reasons, we are where we are spiritually, and it is home. It gives us a glimpse of God’s kingdom, God’s extravagant and boundless love in all its colors, shapes and sizes, that is hard to find in upstate South Carolina at eleven o’clock on a Sunday morning. We see grace, over and over, in a context that does not let us fool ourselves for a moment that we have it all together.

But in my return to those old old words and rites yesterday morning, part of my heart was returned to me. Only the barest whispers of these confessions and celebrations are part of our worship at Triune. Yesterday morning I was reminded, viscerally, that beauty and history in worship makes way for mystery. We are inviting a movement not of the intellect, or of the will, but of the soul itself. In the movement of psalm and confession, thanksgiving and feasting, I was refreshed, restored, returned.

 

Welcoming spring with fresh inspiration:

March Prompt-a-Day at Write ALM

 

a room of one’s own

aroomofonesown

We live in an older house, the four of us, with little closets and an unheated laundry room. We love Legos and books and warm throw blankets and the electric guitar and skateboarding and drums and photographs and our gigantic cat.

We live fully all over our house. The so-called guest room does have a twin sized bed in it, but also my whole wardrobe, drying racks for the winter time, the aforementioned electric guitar and an amp and our jumbo sized box of oatmeal from Costco. We make space, albeit in strange ways sometimes. We do schoolwork on the dining table, make art there too, create cards and pie crusts on the kitchen bar, crowd on the sofa for video games and studies and Mythbusters and books. Our bedrooms are big enough for sleeping and not much more.

So a room of my own is a place I often have to create between my ears, less bracketed by plaster and lath than by attention and increments of time. I read one more chapter or write a stanza while waiting for the bread to rise, or during independent work time for my home-schooled child. I try to breathe deeply and write in my head while my hands are busy with the warm laundry.  I roll out my yoga mat when the boys head for the woods or a Scout meeting. I iron to podcasts or Pandora. I sit quietly and just hold the cat, ten minutes of gratitude for the deep vibration of her contentment.

It is not ideal, whatever that is. And it will not always be as it is, with the noise and the mess and the joy of four people held together by midcentury architecture. I’m greedy I guess, because I want it all, with these boys and this man and their drumming on every surface and their Lego bin dumps and their schematics of skate park plans, and I want quiet and meditation and poetry too.

So every day I’m trying to make room for my room, for my window of time and space, to make what I can of this moment.  And though I’m not always successful, I try to do it without resentment of the gloriously crowded now. I pin photos of attic nooks with bright windows and a Shaker table and chair, spare and solitary, but I write from one swept corner here, with the tumble thump of the dryer for a soundtrack, and the timer counting down.

Seeking midwinter inspiration with other good folks

writing along in February at Write ALM

the first day of the rest. . .

firstday

Today feels a little like a launch pad, like the edge of the parking lot with the trail stretched out ahead, blazes winking here and there among the trees. The handful of days since New Year’s we’ve been moving toward this beginning.

My sweetheart headed back to work today, and elder boy to middle school. Younger son and I are tucked in here together, and his virtual academy resumes online tomorrow. Today we draw and make bagels and do lots of laundry. We exercise and add to the donation pile and make our beds. Nothing is tarnished yet, everything still bright in the cold cold sunshine.

Yesterday I asked, perched or poised? In thinking about this, what it comes down to is keeping this promise to myself, this daily date with words. Here, and in scattered notebooks and in the margins of my calendar. I make good on what I tell everyone else, but in the past I’ve handed myself a sack of excuses and an apologetic smile.

This year I want to be a woman of my word.

 

Still Here

IMG_1447

I started my first blog in January of 2007. In the nearly seven years that have come and gone since, the blogging world has shifted, grown and changed in ways I never could have imagined. It used to feel like we were all sitting around a kitchen table (a magic one that could add leaves to reach around the country or the world) and sharing our lives. One would offer a recipe, another something interesting gleaned from a good book, and perhaps a third would just share her hard day, and a hope for a better tomorrow.

That illusion of a virtual homey space, shoes kicked off, sounds pretty quaint now. As the blogosphere exploded in size, as stats and better blogging conferences and target audiences and product placement and book deals and recognition of blogging from other, more established forms of media grew, I slipped quietly out the back door. I just felt too daunted.

Maybe that sounds like sour grapes. Truly, it isn’t. I never mastered a posting schedule, or learned to follow the statistics and search engine optimization that helps a blogger drive traffic. I’m coming to realize that I’m just not called to that sort of professional self-promotion. Many bloggers have worked very hard to make their blogs work as a source of income, as a platform for speaking and writing careers. I’m called to quiet, to home and family, to making and baking and writing poetry and shooting photographs and trying to learn to listen.

But I’m still here at the kitchen table. I’ve made lots of false starts back into blogging, but always drawn back. I’ve asked myself what the point could be in offering my voice, given how it all feels now, so busy and loud and alien.

But there’s always a point to good conversation, to sharing a recipe that, against all odds, the kids gobbled up. There’s always a point to writing about friendship and aging parents and the beauty of nature or a perfectly baked pie. There’s always a point to putting more beauty, more joy, more questions and challenges, more wonderings and gleaned wisdom into the world. There’s space still, I trust, to share a good book’s title and a blessing.  A wink and a smile.

So, what would I tell my boys, if they came to me with something they wanted to do differently than others pursue it? I’d ask them if it was still possible to do the thing their way. And if it was, I’d tell them to go for it. I’d tell them to open their hands and male something old new again.

I’d take my own good advice, and hit publish.

 

Take One Step. . .

I have typed and hit delete several times, trying to formulate pretty sentences about what is going on in my life, how my inner life is merging into my outer one in some exciting and challenging ways. But the truth of it is that I feel I am in a season of feasting this autumn, sitting down to a rich stew of inspiration, opportunity, encouragement and grace. I’m learning the discipline of setting my place and picking up my spoon and tasting, perhaps, for the ingredients I might add.

So may I just share what is shaping up to be my recipe for this season?

  • a writing workshop and concert with this amazing woman, who has been breathing life into my ears for almost two decades  (Clicking on the link will take you to her site, and a chance to hear a new song called “The Speed of Soul.” You might give yourself the gift of four minutes listening.)
  • Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation by Parker J Palmer. The book I’m cracking, the one I’m almost afraid to read.
  • a dear friend, who is asking good questions and giving gentle but intentional nudges. My reconnection with her is all gift.
  • A little yoga to start the day, which is making me feel stronger and more flexible, but kinder and more patient with my body as well.
  • Traveling through the parables with my dear friend above, and a few other members of our Triune family, trying to find what Jesus’ stories might reveal about our own.
  • poemcrazy. I mentioned it on Monday, but it bears repeating!
  • the cool mornings and evening quickening my spirit as they do every year. “Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.” –George Eliot
  • The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. Nightly rescuing my sense of humor from the election season.
  • facing the blinking cursor, the blank page, the truly awful first draft Anne Lamott warns us about. And lots of coffee.

And finally, a few lyrics from one of the first Carrie Newcomer songs I fell in love with:

“I’ve been known to think too much
Get caught up in planning and choosing
I’ve sat down with my head in my hands trying to
Lose the fear of losing
But you can’t go back and you’re never the same when
Love’s left its mark on you
Whether stronger, bitter or better, or wiser it’s all up to you

Take one step a little bit closer
Take one step a little bit closer

I woke up yesterday morning I was smillin’ I was smillin’ wide
I heard wild geese calling
I called back and looked into your steady eyes saying

Take one step a little bit closer
Take one step a little bit closer. . . “

What’s filling your cupboard, your plate?