Category Archives: Happy

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

 

 

Advertisements

leap

kindred_issue 6_600

Last year I started writing again. Oh. I’d written some, off and on for years, in blog posts, personal essays, retreat content, and corporate prayers to be used in worship. But last year I returned to poetry, my first love. I’d written many poems early in my young adulthood, but only a handful between ages 25 and 41. 

But there were these prompts, that would not leave me alone, found from a favorite blog.  They whispered around the edges of my days, asked me questions, teased me with depth and playfulness and curiosity in turn. They reminded me both of my younger self, and the enduring, irresistible truth that every day holds something that can be discovered, some pulsing something beneath its skin. 

I picked up my pencil, and found my way to the keyboard. Every poem is still a leap from the first line. I begin with intention, but the best moments are when the poem gets away from me, with only the whoosh of air, and I am just along for the ride. I’ll come back to it, shape the trajectory, judge the distance, but the leap is the irresistible part. 

Another leap comes when we send our work into the world, by any of the myriad ways we can now. I do that here.

And now I am more than delighted that my work will appear in Issue Six of Kindred. Kindred is a fine art literary magazine, beautifully bound and in full color, brimming with poetry, prose and photography. Issue Six explores the theme of rebirth. 

You may pre-order Kindred here. Your order will support a small press dedicated to sharing meaningful language and image, and you’l give yourself a springtime gift in your mailbox. 

 

 

I’ve been seeking midwinter inspiration with other good folks

writing along in February at Write ALM

Sweet Life

Sometimes it is all too much goodness, the way the eleven year old laughs at the dinner table until he can’t get his breath. The way the nine year old can be so earnest that his heart seems held out in his small hands. The way the mint spills gloriously over the edge of the pot and those little white seeds made blossoms and beans. The way the shutter clicks and I’m given back a moment over and over, that I can hold as close as I need to, for as long as I want. The way a well-written character can place her hands on either cardboard cover of a book and vault herself out of it, to walk around with me until the last page sighs closed. The way baking powder rises and yeast rises and basil, chopped, releases its perfume upward.

The way I can set my feet firmly in Friday, no backward shoulder glance, no eyes shaded forward, for once, once, and there are too many little light-footed blessings to count, doing a pattering dance around the space where I stand.

Back

I have that whispery, raw feeling you get when you have not talked for a long while, and the first word out doesn’t sound right, so you swallow hard, and try again.

That’s this post.

Something happened in the spring. Right after my fortieth birthday, I wrote a couple of posts, about the wholeheartedness with which I want to live out this next decade. In fact I had a whole series of posts planned about the practices I wanted to adopt to nurture this life, this brave pouring of myself into the days and people and places of my particular world.

And then they just didn’t get written.

Some of that was because I was out practicing those very things, instead of writing about them. I shot more photos, read more books, spent more time outside. I looked deeply into my loved ones’ eyes when they spoke and I answered. I spent some good mornings with a trusted friend, long talks over cooling coffee. I spent a great weekend of laughter and confession and pizza and grace with another friend.  We planted a garden and ate our own beans and peas and basil.

But lest you think I’ve been off on some odyssey of self discovery and enrichment, the truth of the matter is that practice is just that, and perfection is not on my radar. As we navigated the end of the school year, my mothering life was its own usual blend of joy and angst. (You may remember my standardized test rant from my one drive-by post from that season.)  Now that summer is here, our communal happiness at another school year well-finished has to share space with my struggles with body image and self-care, the questions always of what enough looks like, on the calendar, in the home, in front of screens, on the plate, in the living.

And always, the online questions, the ongoing blogging debate I have in my head.

What I think I have to admit now is that writing is one of the main ways I figure stuff out, one of the ways God reveals what God reveals of the design of my life, the calls on my time and energy. I write to make, and to discover what I’m making next. And here, the words can come together with my images, and together they are something new. Reading back over them, I discover what was not there before. Specifically, the way I often write, the short personal essay, gives new gifts, in the writing and the reading.

None of this should be surprising. I’m a Christian. The Judeo-Christian God speaks to create. I’ve plowed this ground before.

But maybe it is just time to admit, I am back here because I can’t, ultimately, not come back to words. And landed where I am, in 2012, this is a pretty great place to play with them, to weave and tear out, knead and shape, and then to bear them in my hands, or in the basket of an image, and offer them to you.

I don’t have a grand plan, a series, pages of notes on a legal pad. I’ve discovered those sometimes go the way of my all-or-nothing exercise schemes. But I’ll be back here, with some words about the pages and scenes and places and people that have been helping me calibrate better with my whole heart.

Wishing you every good thing of summer.

 

Next, Please

Yesterday was my fortieth birthday. This perhaps explains my restlessness and vague melancholy over the last few weeks. A quiet alarm at four decades gone, mingled with frustration that at forty years into life, almost a dozen into mothering, I’m still skinning my knees and asking elementary questions and chasing my tail around some of the same trees.

I’m finding that a milestone birthday is acting on me a lot like New Year’s Day or the beginning of the school year. There is the urge to make a list and DO, DO, DO. An exercise schedule, a writing schedule. Whipping into shape everything within range of busy hands. Inside my chest there’s an inner coach who looks a lot like me, whistle around her neck, barking, “Let’s make something HAPPEN people.”

But there’s another voice, softer but more insistent, saying that this is not the way, this is not what to make of these emotional and reflective days. Last week I dove again into the humor and wisdom and relentless faith of Anne Lamott, who assured me that help is always on the way.

I’ve found it to be true.

Yesterday my friend Jill took me out for coffee for my birthday. Time with her is always gift, with good conversation and laughter and lots to think about afterward. Yesterday was no exception. It helps that she shares my ambivalence about this particular number of candles on the birthday cake, and it helps that she asks good questions of her life and is making peace with waiting for the answers to emerge.

When I unwrapped my birthday package from her, she gave me more than she planned to. She knew I loved the lockets Liz Lamoreux makes, with messages, reminders, precious words pounded into them. Her thoughtfulness in remembering something I’d mentioned in passing and tracking it down in the wonders of etsy touched this often-bruised heart.

But as I wore the locket yesterday, I knew she’d given me more than a token of our friendship. She had given me an answer to what to do with this moment in life that feels precipitous, that feels like a weighted new beginning. Or rather, the right question to ask.

Inside the old brass are the words “whole heart.” We’d watched Brene Brown’s TED talk        together, and I’d felt stirring a desire for that kind of bravery, that really could give up the nursing of old hurts and insecurities and shame for the open-handedness of living vulnerable and free.

Jill’s gift has me taking a deep breath. In asking “What’s next, please?” I’m really asking, “What would it look like to live my forties with my whole heart?”

Love with my whole heart?

Mother with my whole heart?

Be daughter, sister, friend, with my whole heart?

Serve with my whole heart?

Create and write with my whole heart?

This is only a different way of asking the questions I’m always asking, about living the one-piece life. About how to be all real all here, looking and writing through the lens of a redemptive story without slapping a trite homily over pain and loss and grief. Remembering that faith requires, well, faith. Resisting the urge to jump to the “right” answers when what I need to do is to sit in the questions.

So I’m asking?

What does it look like to dwell in and live from, my whole heart?

Friday I’m in Love

Ah, the 90’s, turning this song up on the radio, plaid flannel, all the campus trees aflame and Timberland hiking boots. Nostalgia. . .

But actually, this morning as our little family parted to start our days, I was thinking of all the things I’m in love with right now. All the little blessings drifting around me like leaves, and how gratitude presses them between waxed paper, how thankfulness warms and preserves their color and texture. A woman who chased the moon has been teaching me that, for a long time. My hands are filling with russet and gold:

  • Sam’s prickly boy hair beneath my lips for a goodbye kiss.
  • Joshua’s quiet companionship near the end of the day, sitting on the sofa, just being.
  • Making my husband laugh.
  • Reading, reading slowly, Grace for the Good Girl, and finding old hurts buried, but unearthing places where healing can flow in.
  • Soup and bread, simple meals, spoons scraping bowls.
  • My cat’s satisfied purr when she claims my lap in the evening.
  • Turning up the music loud, singing along.
  • Time with an old friend, her face across the table.
  • A second cup of coffee, just because.
  • Needle slipping in and out of fabric stretched in a hoop, the breath-like rhythm of stitching.
  • A husband who knows how to rescue a day gone sad. . .

All these things so ordinary, but you know, I know, that these blessings will never come again in just the same way. They are as fleeting as they are familiar. I want to drain my cup of them, slurp the last drop. This Friday, I want the heady senses-all-awake, wide-eyed falling in love receiving of this mundane, marvelous day.

November’s fourth Thursday is a feast, the twenty-fifth of December a festival. Next week I’ll write more about heart and hands preparation for those gracious and glorious days. But today I’m sitting down to this daily portion.

What’s on your plate this Friday?

 

 

A Home’s Best Decoration

. . . is the face of a friend. My friend Beth was here in the Upstate to visit her son for Family Weekend at Furman University. She was able to come by (bearing sunflowers) for a precious hour of visiting face to face. We had only met once before in real life, at the Image of the Maker retreat, and it was truly a joy to share a cup of coffee and conversation. She has such a gentle and encouraging spirit. The best part of a home is truly who we share it with.