52 candles….

It’s my birthday this week and I’m plunking
52 fresh candles in my lemon blueberry cheesecake,
deep down ridiculously glad to be alive in 52 (new)
glad and grateful ways:

~for fresh skies and new trails to hike,
~the soul sweetness of being with safe people,
~the resistance that enables us to fly,
~the grace to listen slow,
~wiggle room….the beauty of spaciousness,
~creating art for the simple joy of it,  and
~clean libraries,

~for our fascinating weaknesses and imperfections
~good coaches and coaching,
~for healthy intimacy….the real stuff that isn’t illusion,
~audio books when my hands are happily covered in paint,
~golden moments in the sun,  warm and wrapped in light.
~the large,  friendly quiet of the early morning,
~the sleepy sighs of dogs plopped and snuggled
at my feet,
~the hoo hoo hoooo of an owl in the woods,


~when sometimes into life’s overwhelm come soft days,
thickset with grace,
~sea kayaks and coppertone air and  summertime dreaming,
~those times when you feel like a bird with a big song,
~the first flutters and tenderlings of Spring,
~the shepherd psalm,

~song lyrics and movie lines that make your heart leap,
~thank you’s….all the creative ways that appreciation
gets expressed,
~the beauty and honor of Native American culture
and each baby step toward restoration of these noble people,
~how “the Lord lives among pots and pans”  (Teresa of Avila)
~Melody Beattie and Brene Brown and their brilliance shared,
~ poetry and prayer,

~for the cool breeze of friends who are shade in the swelter
and help to stir my dreams vivid and shining,
~the simple beauty of spending less than I make,
~the poignant power of well chosen words,
~every laugh that shakes my children’s bellies,
~that we are not our pain,  not our problems,
and there are exciting,  interesting things in store for us
and  we get to  cooperate with the universe by taking good,
tender loving care with ourselves,


~the big heart-massage and brain de-clutter of morning pages,
~hot steamy baths,
~the whoosh of satisfaction when all the gardens tucked in for a long winter’s nap,
~cutting into a really juicy  lime,
~the beauty of timely support,
~the gorgeousness of vulnerability,
~the way the pain and loss of tragedy reminds me to love out loud,
to say it,  write it,  grow it,  guard it,  live it,  show it
and dance all over the fear that I’ll be rejected or look a fool
….I’d rather put my love out there than hide it away unexpressed,

~for the freedom to get hopping mad,
~the gift of solution,
~the joy of just turtling along,  free to mosey,
and also the thrill of zooming
and that we mostly get to choose,
~the sweetness of new season,  new rhythm,  new dance
with the same partner,
~the deliciousness of coming uncaged,
~for the gnarly,  stretchy stuff….that life without tension
goes shallow,


~people who are generous with a smile,
~learning to forgive ourselves for what we didn’t know
before we learned it,
~for how much easier life gets when we accept the apologies
that we never got,
~sunny stone walls to lean against warm
when icy winds blow,
~after-storm clarity
~and the deep breath of relief when we let love come near
our unloved places
and get some healing done.

~for naps and sweet, sweet sleep when it comes
~and for another year to sing into the wind
that life is precious,  love is treasure,  time is currency
and it is pure gift
to be here now.

There they are…..the 52 new candles flickering in my heart this year.
I’m so grateful to be able to serve up a slice to you,  friend.
Love and thanks for coming around to help me celebrate.
You make my life richer than I can say.


“I decided that the most subversive,  revolutionary thing I could do
was to show up for my life
and not be ashamed.”
-Anne Lamott


  1. Maryse on January 13, 2014 at 11:02 am

    What a lovely idea! One expression of gratitude per candle. I’m going to do the same. Don’t be surprised when you read my next post. :):)
    I love love the quiet of the early morning before anyone else gets up, before questions, demands, things to do. And accepting the apologies we never got. So well said. Thank you for sharing your cake with us. You are the cherry on top of it. ♥

  2. Elephant's Child on January 13, 2014 at 1:31 pm

    Happy, happy birthday. And snap, I too have a birthday this week.
    Stunning poem, beautiful images. A gift. Thank you so very much.

  3. Suzanne McRae on January 13, 2014 at 5:08 pm

    Wishing you the loviest and happiest of birthdays ever Jennifer. Celebrate you and the beauty that you are, and that you bring to the world. What an incredible gift that you have with words and your photos are stunning. May you be blessed many times over for all the sharing you do. Happy Birthday and Celebrate your 52 years. xo

  4. Julia Bourque on January 13, 2014 at 5:33 pm

    What a creative way to celebrate your 52nd birthday Jennifer. Happy Birthday to you my sweet friend.
    I can see how well you live the moment when gratitude is your first choice.
    I love the rhythm of awareness that comes out in your poem. May you have the best year ever.

    PS, Thanks for your comment on my blog. It made me smile a large smile…

  5. Connie Smiley on January 13, 2014 at 5:43 pm

    Oh, delightful, Jennifer! This is like a choice stew, where all the ingredients are better for being together. You certainly display “the poignant power of well chosen words”.
    My favorite: “when sometimes into life’s overwhelm come soft days,
    thickset with grace…”

    Happy Birthday, my friend!

  6. Wanda on January 13, 2014 at 9:31 pm

    Wishing you a week and year that is filled with love and sheer delight Jennifer. Happy Birthday sweet lady.

  7. Lynn Wilkinson on January 14, 2014 at 2:53 am

    I love love your 52 reasons, I especially love “being with safe people”…
    I wish you 52 more happy wonderful years of loving and faith inspiring
    wordsmithing with wonderful images of life and how you live it!

    You ROCK this world Jennifer and you are the kind of woman that inspires me
    to be better at everything I do and say and think and want!!!
    Happy Happy Birthday!

  8. rachel awes on January 14, 2014 at 5:35 am

    happy birthday otterly love!
    what is that painting on top?!
    love all that you love, + are.

  9. jeanie on January 14, 2014 at 7:53 am

    Happiest Birthday, dear Jennifer! I think you will love being another year older for all the reasons I do. Oh, I especially loved the 50s! And for all the reasons you so eloquently stated along with a few more you probably haven’t thought of. (And by the way, anyone who comes up with the phrase “coppertone air” really knows how to weave words into a journey into the senses.

    Happy Birthday, my friend!

  10. Mary on January 14, 2014 at 7:56 am

    Oh how I love your 52 burning bright candles. There is so much richness, such depth that comes with each added candle…I would not trade my 50 plus candles…

    Father, bless this precious woman, your daughter with sweetness this year. May love continue to abound and may you continue to heal and fill her beautiful heart!

    I love you Jennifer, may your day be extra special!

  11. Shannon Ann on January 14, 2014 at 11:19 am

    Happy, Happy Birthday! Thank-you for this most inspiring post… and wishing you every happiness in the coming year! Xo’s

  12. kathryn on January 14, 2014 at 4:39 pm

    thanks for serving me a slice…i hope you have the best, most magical, kid-like birthday yet!!

  13. Donna on January 14, 2014 at 6:27 pm

    What a lovely way to share your special day with all of us and to remind us of the simple wonderful pleasures around us. Wishing you the best go round the sun as you chase that light for another 365 days of bliss…Happy Birthday!!

  14. Donna on January 14, 2014 at 6:27 pm

    What a lovely way to share your special day with all of us and to remind us of the simple wonderful pleasures around us. Wishing you the best go round the sun as you chase that light for another 365 days of bliss…Happy Birthday!!

  15. Naomi on January 14, 2014 at 9:02 pm

    How wonderful you are to share your birthday with us in such a beautiful way. I feel your gratitude and am thankful.

  16. suz on January 15, 2014 at 9:40 am

    feel like a bird with a big song….now I’m going to steal that one if you don’t write a book with that title……I just love it!
    Happy birthday young ‘un
    I just turned 63!
    But you cut me to the quick…..I need to make my list
    I just found out that I have 20% genetic native blood in me….thanks ancestry.com
    ..there’s #1
    morning pages…..I know what book you have read
    ….happy birthday sister of the heart

  17. Lynn on January 15, 2014 at 5:03 pm

    Wishing you a very happy and beautiful birthday. You are so deserving! Loving your list and those photos are “Wow!”
    That first one looks like an amazing abstract painting.
    Nature sure is precious.

  18. Susan on January 15, 2014 at 7:30 pm

    “the grace to listen slow” … you just about bring me to my knees with your birthday list and gorgeous images.
    I surely can’t believe you have one tiny spot of unloved places.
    Sending you much sweet love and big, soft birthday hugs.

  19. Eydie on January 16, 2014 at 1:10 am

    Jennifer, Those 52 candles are sparkling so bright. I especially love, ” ~learning to forgive ourselves for what we didn’t know
    before we learned it”. What a beautiful gift of awareness. My wish for you is a year filled with deep love, full color brightness, and peace and ease. I hope your day was filled with magic as you celebrated this magnificent life of yours. XO

  20. Kimber Britner on January 16, 2014 at 8:03 am

    Happy happy birthday beauty! With love and laughter, freedom and glee all on top!

  21. Kathy Anne on January 16, 2014 at 8:34 am

    Your words make my heart sing and stir,
    Smile and cry. Want to love fuller,
    Live deeper and grow into myself no matter what.
    So much love and joy and warmth to you
    Birthday girl.
    May this year be full of fresh sweet surprises.

  22. Sherry Thrasher on January 16, 2014 at 10:10 am

    Awww Jennifer,
    Happiest of all birthdays to you. I love you. I truly do. You are a gift to the world. Thank you for the many, many, blessings that you bring. Thank you for the fairy dust you sprinkle wherever you go.

    Much love,

  23. Anne Camblin on January 16, 2014 at 1:04 pm

    Jenn, this might be my favorite ever so far…..it’s printed out so I can hang it and re-read it over and over. Love and blessings to you!

  24. Barbara on January 16, 2014 at 11:02 pm

    Happy 52nd year, beautiful Jennifer! I love your collection of candles and the images that go with them. Hope this is the best year ever! You are a gift to me! Love this one especially…”when sometimes into life’s overwhelm come soft days,
    thickset with grace,” Amen!

  25. Cathy on January 17, 2014 at 6:55 am

    What beautiful words as always and amazing pictures to illustrate them. Thanks for sharing you heart with us that shows your beauty that is inside and out. I am very thankful that you are my cousin!
    Love to you always

  26. Judy Hartman on January 18, 2014 at 7:47 am

    Such a birthday song for yourself, shared with us! A lovely appreciation and celebration of life – so uplifting and life-affirming. Happy, happy birthday to you, dear friend!!

  27. Leslie on January 19, 2014 at 10:06 pm

    Happy belated birthday! You’ve made a wonderful list. Thankful for the beauty you shine.

  28. Kathy on January 20, 2014 at 7:56 am

    Happy birthday, Jennifer!!! Beautiful post. I just had 53 candles on Friday!

  29. Juli on January 25, 2014 at 10:54 pm

    Just reading this now..a few days late..and just LOVING IT, and you for seeing and feeling and being able to speak these things into our sight to savour. Joy..writ LARGE! maybe 52 be filled with more and more joy!!

  30. Lynn Wilkinson on January 10, 2015 at 11:40 pm

    I love your play. I love your word for the year and how it gives permission to do just what the word says.. to LIVE, unencumbered, free, and as fancy as you want. ASK, Ask for everything that your heart desires, it never hurts to ask! Life fearless and I can’t wait to watch that love of yours open wide up … HAPPY Birthday Jennifer. I wish I could give you hug, so consider this a virtual one arms spread wide around you and hug you tight! Thank you for sharing your heart- you are so incredibly brave to take it out and show it off to the world, but then it’s so beautiful why wouldn’t you!

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