Badlands and bounty and loving it all……

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I took a week away unplanned because I was spent from tugging some story into words
and then I lost my faithful little sidekick,  Lucy,  and I needed to hold some quiet
around me soft while my heart sat with it all for awhile.
In all of my remembering,  I met again the word that found me at the new year.
I’d danced with several.
The one that wanted to come home with me was so bold and sure of itself
that I could only smile and take it’s hand
and go.

All

And so began a year of leaning in to be brave enough
to learn to live from the all of me.
With all of my heart.
Even when I feel the hiss that I’m too loud,  too expressive,  too ebullient,
too much.
Be the all of me,  anyway.
For all of my life.
Give it my all.

barn beauty

Always.
All day long.
Leave it all on the table.

Lucy lived this little word in a big way
and we loved her for it.
And so I welcome again the gifts in the grieving,
both the side that hurts hard
and the side that celebrates the beauty and wonder
and laughter that she gives us still
where we hold her in our stories.

Life is a bounty
and I want to live it all.

I’ll be back next week with a fresh batch of words
strung together just for you.
Wishing you all the joy your heart can possibly hold,  friend.
And a couple of measures more.
A cup-runneth-over type situation:)

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“Hope knows that pain does not get the last word.”
– I’m not sure who said this
but I like it.  A lot.

I’m giving away a package that I’ve added to my quiet little etsy store
– a soul spa,  of sorts.  It’s given me such joy to make and write and send these out
that i want to offer them up to anyone who wants.
I’m plumping them up and letting them sing a little louder now:)
Leave a comment and I’ll draw a name next weekend.
With much love.

The breath and belly of it all….

weeping

Winter rolls into Spring and my heart rides the growing waves
that lift and toss and throw me sometimes further out
as I begin to set my hope on a door that slowly opens,
then closes sudden and an undertow sweeps me into a tailspin
and I’m struggling breathless and unable to work my wings
and here is where I learn at last to fly,
because it’s sometimes into the jaws of a strong wind
that we get our bearings because we’re ready to dig in
and maybe this is the gift in going down and out

I do the work with a gifted grief counselor – she’s a bird on a breeze
with a gentle way and healing words that call to me through the dark
and she sings a song of paradox and the eyes of my heart soften into the  hope
that doesn’t disappoint and it’s a strong tow out of fearful waters.
Because when life hurts it isn’t black or white – there’s and and both to all deep pain.
The sad and scared and mad of grief are real and but that’s only one side
and if we try to survive with just that one wing flapping helpless
we tank,  unsteady,  and helter-skelter from the sky where we were born to soar
because we need both wings set to be fully alive.

As I become less dropsy at holding paradox,
keeping journal where I puddle my hurt onto the left page and record beauty and thanks
on the right – side by side together like a perfect pair of wings,
I begin to toddle this grief out,  a fledgling,
learning to hold the full of my pain and the joy,
my love and the disappointment,  the comfort and the hurt
because there’s medicine in embracing the breath and belly of it all.

And,  yes,  showing up can expose a heart for the breaking
but I want a love that doesn’t shy or go false,
to feel it when the Comforter whispers let me hold your hand
and not draw back or slap it away
but take deep drinks of compassion offered and continue to stand,
loved and wanted by a mystery so beautiful and grand
that I lean wholehearted into the turns,  more curious than perplexed or in dread.

Because life is happening bodacious and I don’t want to miss it or be passed by
because I’m holding on tight to one version of happy
when there are a million shades
and seeing narrow makes a chest fold over bitter on itself
while healing breezes kiss a heart stretched wide.

And it helps to have a caring hand to help untie the knots
of what’s true and what’s not.

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~ The humiliation? – no.
Dig deep and don’t personalize this.

~ The shame? – hell no.  The brazen way it twists and mimics
and tries to impersonate the voice of God,
lying boldfaced that this generous goodness is harsh – Defy it.

~ the Heartbreak?  Yes. Be unapologetic about it.
The hurt is real.  Cry it out with someone safe.

~ The other painful parts of grief like anger and anxiety and sadness and loss?
Yes. Acknowledge. Feel it all.
Go there with all the help that you need.  But don’t live there.
With this wing alone,  we stay cut off from the sky.

Stretch wide the other wing as well.
There are gifts in grief,  and as I begin to unwrap them,
I see windows where before I saw only walls.

Some of the sweetest gifts,  for me,  have been learning to show up and do my best
but not more than my best,  because that’s stepping into someone else’s space.
That hardening the heart does not stop the hurt.
That a soft heart heals faster.
To not waste the pain,  because pain itself is gift.
It means you care deeply about something,  and if you’re willing to go along for the ride,
it can lead you to discover your deepest desires.

Holding paradox is sanity,
and humility
and flight.

I was going to end by telling you that I haven’t heard again from my baby girl grown
and that this road I’ve traveled to learn to hold the pain and disappointment,
alongside the joy and love and peace of letting go,
is one that I’m learning to cherish and carry
with a strong and honest hope
– it’s the story that I’ve been living.

But I get to write a different ending this week.

Because I did hear back.
Just days ago.
So beautiful and true and I will hold her trust with the tenderest care.
It’s pure gift,  sweet and sacred and unspeakably dear
but there’s nothing in me that feels any longer desperate,
like this is needed for repair
and so I can celebrate the timing of it all
because this is maybe gift-wrapped,  too:)

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Your words have been balm and bread and broad strokes of grace,
finding me where my eyes were squeezed shut
to what a face may silently say,
speaking life and friendship and a healing song
that the girl of me needed to hear.
I hope we’ve been good for each other that way.
Thank you.  With love.  From the whole of my heart.

“Limitless, undying love which shines around me like a million suns
it calls me on and on across the universe.
– John Lennon

If you’re interested in some of the tools I’ve been using
in your own journey,

to help grieve it out and get stretched wide your wings,
i so recommend this DVD series by Mandy Bird and her collaborator,  Chris Saade.
A tall glass of comfort and hope,  this.

Barbeque grace and the words I couldn’t say……..

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 Shame.
It wants to shut you up,  close you in,
set your peace on fire.
And it won’t be hushed until it burns your courage down.

I lean into the turn of the year with a hungry hope and my walking-forward shoes laced up brave,
I’m going looking for some shelter in this storm
but it becomes a hurricane
as I pull out into traffic in some group work and wreck my heart instead,
my past and present colliding with such an explosion of pain
that I’m propelled through the window injured,
but land soft in a healing place.

Edith calls to tell me she’s retiring and we speak warmly –
will she please mail the birthday package I’ve sent;
she’s not sure where Allison is right now; I tell her bold where
and she doesn’t flinch or freak and I hear smile in her voice.
We part well and I feel a chapter end.
This will be the the last gift sent where they will comb through my words to approve.
The training wheels off,  I’ll be able to look up her address and send love on my own
and this freedom is bliss to me.

I plan a heart trek to her hometown but pull up the day before
because I seefrom the cloud,  that she‘s there visiting right now
and feel it sure that this would somehow cross a line.
I couldn’t be that close and not run to her,  I know,  oh God
I want to go, but I watch instead from just hours away
as she togethers with the ones she loves and welcomes,
and I feel the thud of my un-belonging
and ache an ache that I can’t wrap words around.

Weeks later,  March 2016,  I’ve got a wilding to drive east tomorrow
to put flowers on her mother’s grave.
I’m headed uptown to a favorite barbeque place to make a foodie Friday gift
to our hardworking peeps and as I sit waiting for my bag of lemon pepper wings,
so near the street where she used to live,  I grin at the walls covered
with years of signatures and happy graffiti.
My eyes swim over to a map of our state and I feel my feet moving slow
from where I’m googling her hometown for tomorrow’s travels.
My eyes lock onto her name printed bold and pink,  right over where my google map points.
It feels like a sign and I take a picture,  kiss the wall,  pick up my takeout
and wonder at the bigness of this grace that’s holding us.

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Her mother is two years gone this day and we travel there together,  my husband and I,
to at last be in this space and it feels a sacred journey as we pull into her town
and I roll the window down because I need to breathe the air and I cry somewhere inside
because it’s happening at last to feel the where that welcomed my baby home.
It’s a really good house,  the sixteen year old of me can see,
and we eat lunch down the street at the local barbeque place
that has served the community for decades and I taste friendly food
and the neighborly way and everywhere I feel the whispers of her face.

The woods hum stories as I stand beside her mother’s grave
and see how my fistfull of daffodils look a small drop in this space so wide
that I wonder can Allison ever hold space enough for the both of us.
Her mama loved her,  I can feel it.  I honor her that and as my fingers trace
her name I tremble  thanks for the home she made and the legacy that is hers.
If I could hold this woman’s  hand I’d squeeze it now and breathe peace,  nothing left unsaid.
I get up and wish we could stop at their house, climb out of the car,  knock on the door
and be invited inside.

But there is gift in the parting and I feel it at last
in a wrenching place where I stand with my arm draped around the girl of me
in front of the spacious yard where my daughter played football
with her people just weeks ago this day
and finally I know it right down to my atoms and cells
that I did not abandon my child.
There’s a roaring that climbs from my spirit inside to a courtroom false where I’ve often been dragged
and I see it as clear as the sun that sets in her hometown now
that abandonment was not in my heart,
but beauty and bests and safe pasture and love,
and yes,  shame,  that I wasn’t the one who deserved.
But I’m done buying into this sense that I’m less because I’m outside and not welcome in.

And as we drive back in the after of a powerful day
there builds up some brave to get ferocious with shame
and I feel a holy fury rumble up inside my soul
– where the winter wounds had closed me I feel my breath becoming whole.

(In the weeks to come there’ll be roller coaster waves
but I’ll crawl no longer beneath the dull weight
of all the words I couldn’t say.)

goodnight raleigh

“It is unearned love – the love that goes before,
that greets us on the way.
It is the help you receive when you have no bright ideas left,
when you are empty and desperate and have discovered that your best thinking
and most charming charm have failed you.
Grace is the light or electricity or juice or breeze
that takes you from that isolated place and puts you with others
who are as startled and embarrassed and eventually grateful as you are to be there.”
– Anne Lamott

So you see I’m telling our story – that part of us that aches to belong,
to be welcome,  to be seen and invited in.
In the only way I know, I’m dragging our shame into the light
and offering “I know” and “you’re okay” and “I’m with you and we’re alright”
Just a few more twists and turns through this, our season of the night.