Category Archives: Lists With Friends 2014

Around Here


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




turn to the sunlight: a thursday birthday list


It is Thursday, list day, when I challenge myself to write a list based on the Write ALM prompt. And this day also happens to be my forty-second (yikes!!!) birthday.

When I read the phrase “turn to the sunlight,” I immediately thought about the way a potted houseplant must be turned regularly, so it will grow evenly. I tend to have a melancholy nature, so my ways of turning toward the sunlight, whether they’re physical, spiritual or creative, are ways of balancing my bent to pensiveness, wistfulness. And I am a non-driving introvert, so lots of my ways of letting the light in are homespun ways to recalibrate, to shift the scale. Today, I give you forty-two ways, some literal, some metaphorical, to turn to the sunlight:

  1. Ask for help. Whether it is the dishes or a health problem or a change in perspective, reach out and ask for a hand up. Turn to find you’re not alone
  2. Find the voices in your family, in your life, even on the Internet, who speak hope and encouragement. Tune them in clearly.
  3. Open the windows.
  4. Plant something, anything.
  5. Reach out when you have something to give as well. Write a note, make a call, clip an interesting article or funny cartoon and send it to one of your people who will appreciate it.
  6. Wear color. Red, coral, turquoise, yellow.
  7. Keep angling for the best shot, the best word, the right amount of freshly ground pepper.
  8. Go browsing a the magazine section of a big bookstore. Pick up a few you’ve never explored, and leaf through them slowly.
  9. Do several breath initiated sun salutations. Feel your spine release in forward fold, feel the way a good, belly-filling inhale raises your arms.
  10. Write down good quotes from what you read.
  11. Listen to Pandora. Like ripples, a good Pandora station can steadily widen the world of musicians you listen to.
  12. Balance past wisdom about people or situations with giving the benefit of the doubt.
  13. Put on lipstick or gloss. Pause to smile at yourself.
  14. Light scented candles. (And you can fill the house with the fragrance of honeysuckle or lavender or mango in February as well as in July. I won’t tell anyone. )
  15. Rearrange the furniture.
  16. Look through seed catalogues.. Imagine salads and bouquets.
  17. Reconnect with old friends. They have loved you through bad haircuts and bad boyfriends and pregnancy and seeing your dark side.
  18. Listen to the music you loved when you were younger.  (I’m looking at you, Joshua Tree, Indigo Girls, Springsteen, Dave Wilcox, Madonna, the Cure. . . ) Dance in the kitchen. Sing along, loudly and regardless of skill. Horrify the middle-schooler.
  19. Do something that’s not your thing, but will delight someone you love.  Play legos, watch funny you tube videos together, read comics.
  20. Memorize an inspiring scripture, a beloved poem, a great joke.
  21. Remember to play with art–  it is just a few words, a little paper and glue, a yard of fabric. It isn’t plutonium. Mess around. Start something especially when you don’t know where it is going.
  22. Let go of competence. Shoot baskets, ride a skateboard, do something with someone you love, something they love doing that you’re not good at.  Laugh readily, but don’t apologize.
  23. Eat something messy and fun, like ribs or an ice cream cone.
  24. Clear your calendar. Say no. Give yourself the gift of a day.
  25. Wrote a handwritten letter.
  26. Clean the kitchen. Pause to just behold it when you are finished.
  27. Iron your pillowcases for a little bedtime luxury.
  28. Make the bed, slowly.
  29. When considering a task, a role, or a bit of drama, ask yourself, “Is this on my plate? Is this honestly part of my portion?” If yes, consider your response carefully. If not, don’t consume it or be consumed by it.
  30. Reread a book you loved as a kid. Preferably a slightly yellowed, softened paperback.
  31. Go hear live music.
  32. Take a nap.
  33. Read aloud, just to savor the sound of the words.
  34. Set a lovely table.
  35. Play in your own closet. Put together pieces that have never been worn together.
  36. Go see art. A museum, a gallery, a kids’ art show.
  37. Sit outside for awhile. Without doing anything else. Check in with your five senses.
  38. Leave the smartphone at home.
  39. Listen to podcasts while you cook or fold laundry .
  40. Sit in a new seat, at your own table, at the coffee shop, in church. Look at the vie from there.
  41. Go to the library and visit a new section. Bring home some fresh ideas.
  42. Unclench your jaw. Relax your hands. Embrace the day. Mercy has been new every morning forever. It’s unlikely to run out now.

Turn to the sunlight. Grow in all directions.

Stretching toward spring with all my might

and with the prompts at Write ALM


Joining in the fun of Lists With Friends 2014

5 PM: a list for Thursday


5 pm:

  • the point when the day seems to slide toward settling into evening
  • boy#1 finishing homework, boy#2 running by the windows, playing with new neighbors
  • All Things Considered theme music as I head toward the stove and dinner prep
  • a few more minutes until the car in the driveway, a hug from my sweetheart
  • the glorious light still spilling into the house, no lamps on, almost making up for groggy, post-time-change mornings
  • a deep breath, anticipating the next few hours. All of us around the table! Adult conversation! Reading! Netflix! Exhale!
  • reconciling the hopes for the day with what has been done, said, finished, abandoned. Seeds sown for tomorrow. Resting into the ease of the hammock slung between accomplishment and expectation.

Stretching toward spring with all my might

and with the prompts at Write ALM

Adding my voice to Lists With Friends 2014

mitten strings: a thursday list of turning-point books


It is Thursday, and that means it is list time.  In the new year, when I set my sights on participating in Lists with Friends, using Amanda’s prompts linked below, I thought sooner or later I’d run into a prompt that defied the list format.  I thought I’d met my match in today’s nudge to write, “mitten strings.”

Ah, but the first thing that popped into my mind was Katrina Kenison’s marvelous book, Mitten Strings for God. And from there, a list began unfurling in my mind, of before-and-after books, books that changed me, books that read me as much as I read them. This list is not complete. I hope it is never finished.

  • In the months after I was married, on a bookstore ramble, I discovered two volumes by Kathleen Norris, Dakota: A Spiritual Geography and The Cloister Walk. Both spoke to me, as a poet and a person of faith, at such a deep level.  At that point in my life, I needed a wider landscape in which to navigate my faith, a less constricted spectrum than what I’d known.  Norris, and L’Engle and Merton and Nouwen with her, gave me that.
  • More recently, Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion by Father Gregory Boyle widened and deepened my sense of what it means to love others in the light of God, what holiness looks like.
  • In terms of self-exploration, Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly and Quiet:The Power of Introverts in a World that Won’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain came immediately to mind. I think of these books as ones that helped me understand my own operating system, helped me to unpack the ways I have related with others and interacted with the world. That both are readable and relatable is a bonus.
  • Last year, when I delved back into writing, the books poemcrazy and Writing Poetry From the Inside Out pulled me up short from my free fall of expectations and nerves, and reminded me that word play can be fun, can be woven into the fabric of the day, and can, when I forget myself enough and send my loud inner critic on an errand out of town, yield up a poem.
  • Finally, as a parent, Kenison’s Mitten Strings for God and Beth Kephart’s Seeing Past Z (which I wrote about in more detail here), have been books like friends, coming along beside me, whispering to me that what I observe in our family rhythms, what I know in my heart that I want for my boys, is possible, sustainable, sane.

When I open a box with an arrow and swoosh, or lug home my stuffed canvas bag from the library, in addition to hoping for prose that stuns me with beauty or carries me out of my corner and into another world, some part of me hopes that one book will make me stop hard, turn around and realize that I know a truth I did not know before, and it has made me over, made me better.

Seeking midwinter inspiration with other good folks

writing along in February at Write ALM

Joining in: Lists With Friends 2014

good fortune: a thursday list


After a few weeks off, I’m back with a list of my good fortune this Thursday.

  • After yesterday’s morning-penned late-winter whine, the sun came out and the temperatures soared to the low seventies. I took off my wool socks and opened the windows. Not spring yet, but promising.
  • I’m finding ways to make my seventh grader laugh, and that is music to my ears.
  • This week, after a long hiatus of read aloud time, we started The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place, Book Four, The Interrupted Tale, and from the first chapter it looks to be as good fun as the other three books in the series.
  • I had a forty-five minute yoga practice yesterday that reminded me why I always return to the mat. I resumed my day feeling so much more at ease in my skin, open and relaxed.
  • Since the purchase of a new mattress, I am sleeping well nearly every night. This is a blessing that seemed automatic to mid-twenties Missy, but early-forties Missy is deeply grateful.
  • Tomorrow night I’ll be listening to one of my favorite singer-songwriters live, after a delicious meal with my beloveds.

Last week had the snow, but it is this week that seems a flurry of good fortune.


Joining in with Lists With Friends 2014


Seeking midwinter inspiration with other good folks

writing along in February at Write ALM

green light


As a legally blind non-driver, the image of a swinging traffic signal over my head does not produce the automatic, muscle-memory drive to GO! I’ve never felt the surge of an engine under an accelerating foot.

But today, deep in the cold of January, the new year wearing a bit thin, I need to dig into that secondary definition, the one to do with permission to move ahead.  I need to give a green light to:

  • knowing myself and my very introverted limitations
  • saying a respectful “no,” as needed, and being at peace with the outcome
  • moving this body more, because it feels good, not tied to visible results
  • doing my own creative work before consuming others’ efforts
  • naps as needed
  • handwork and lens-work and paper-work as well as word-work

What could you give a green light to today?



Gratefully writing along 

with other good folks 

Write ALM January Prompts


Joining in: Lists With Friends 2014



We’ve made a little fun of ourselves about it, but one of our family’s after Christmas traditions is going through the house, filling up the trashcan and loading up bags for Goodwill. With the holidays, things come in, and since we really live in our whole house, some things must leave to make way.

Much of this practice has to do with saying, “no, no more,” or “too many,” or “I can’t remember when we last used that,” or “continue to love the giver but release the gift.” We pare down, we negotiate, we eliminate and rearrange on sparser shelves.

But the other side of this task is in admitting that there are just some objects we love, and whether or not we can ascribe to them a certain use or beauty, they feel significant. We like to have them around us. They lift our spirits, they recall fond memories. They comfort.  Talismans.

  • a river pebble from the Middle Saluda, site of so many summer adventures, smooth beneath my rough midwinter fingertips
  • my coffee mug from Monticello, extra large, with a handle that just fits my hand and a perfect curved lip for sipping  (When my original was broken recently, my husband ordered a replacement that same day. He knows how much I love it. )
  • my whole heart locket, given for my fortieth birthday by my friend Jill. I wear it often, as a reminder that I want this to be my all-in, show up with my whole heart decade.
  • a small pottery bowl, bought from a young potter at an art fair. It gets moved around the house and what it holds changes, but it never fails to give me pleasure.

It is intriguing to me why some objects become significant to us, while we eagerly relinquish others that are as lovely or that would seem meaningful. I like the mystery of how a few things, in a specific season, find their way from our hands into our hearts.

What are your talismans?


Gratefully writing along 

with other good folks 

Write ALM January Prompts


Joining in Lists With Friends 2014