The sweet and the sour and fruit on the vine…..

A whole heap of time has swirled past
since I last met with you here and I can’t say for sure why
except that I’ve opened this laptop often,  just brimming with words,
that then bottleneck and quickly subside like a low tide falling.
I let my fingers stammer for a little while and then release them to go outside
with a basket on my hip to work in the garden instead.
I come ’round to read your blogs  and my muscles draw me first
into the art room where I pour easy streams of paint into a paper plate
and begin swiping on another layer to hold space for the words
so that when they finally do tumble onto paper somehow,  they’ll have somewhere interesting
to land and maybe artfully arrange themselves.

Who am I even in this new season?
It’s taken me a minute to give a long and loving listen
to learn what this woman needs from me.

Quick back story:  I was immunosuppressed before Covid hit;
for years I’ve been extremely allergic,  tagged “overly” sensitive,
and so was super mindful to take care because I knew that if I got the virus
it may likely pound on me pretty violent,  as most viruses seem to do.
A common stomach virus can drop me because it’s gonna take a while.
I can’t actually physically throw up (lovely, right?).
I had an experimental surgery in the early 2000s because of reflux so severe
that my doctors at UNC guessed I needed to have a go.
Of mistakes I’ve made,  this was a big one.
Had I waited a few years,  as my intuition suggested,
I would’ve discovered that reflux is just one of the many
auto-immune symptoms that I’d need to navigate
with a lot of creativity and patience in the decades to come.

So it wasn’t totally shocking that Covid would hamstring me for a while with long haul symptoms.
But my healthy husband?  That shook me.

When after a vigorous move and  months of navigating my own confounding symptoms
my husband went suddenly ill with acute kidney failure,  I felt raw with fear.
For a short while I thought he may die.
Instead came the challenges of his living a newer normal –  high doses of prednisone,
insulin shots,  and wobbly with weakness.  And all the new what-do-we-do-now’s.
I had been pivoting away from our family business, gentling down, and suddenly that move
became as hardly do-able as all the other new necessities to navigate.
But ride each wave we did
and when anxiety stormed down a torrent,
I went out and dug in the garden like it was my only thing.
I guess trauma requires new dances
and this became mine.
Life became new normals and dances and gardens and ways.  And all of it mattered.

I hold them as delicious gifts now, the days when my body and brain show up in ways that I understand.
I’m learning new work-arounds for times when they don’t,
like using food enzymes to support a bum pancreas,
and implementing more structure to help with the buggy brain that can fog my windshield with sudden haze,
and talking myself through the panic that can jump me like a prowler
with a random wave of nausea or sudden chill.

Honestly it’s an unfamiliar place,  this learning to give myself some tender loving time.

To have to bend low and be patient,  sometimes as if with a toddler,  has been a level of care
I’ve never offered to myself before.
And as I do,  tentative and awkward,  I’ve felt this compassion rise
because I feel it vivid the spaces where this woman
could have used this kind of support always from,  well,  me.
How did I leave her last in a line
that never reaches the end?

This challenging stretch of road has been a ruthless and beautiful teacher.
I’m glad for these fresh cracks
and the way they’re letting the light crawl in,
bringing me somehow closer home.

Sometimes my heart flutters shy in this newer,  more tender relationship with myself
and I’m having to sit with it for a minute
before I can say the things.
I mean it sincere each time I write that I’ll be back to you more regular soon.
But I’m holding no space for the hurry I’ve long inflicted on myself;
I’ll be back when the wind fills my sails;
for now it’s maybe enough that I’m keeping them set.
And watching my garden grow:)

Sending love to you and to your own friendship with yourself;
you deserve the very most beautiful and best
there in that sacred space.
I hope you make some reservations to invest
and go gently.

“Inside your chest
lives a little nightingale
who never sleeps.”
– Alexandra Vasiliu

Big joy in sending out a package this week to Renee Clark
who likely doesn’t even remember leaving a comment
it was so long ago that I posted.
Baby steps:)
I’ll wait until I come back more consistently before offering another giveaway.



  1. Elephants Child on July 19, 2021 at 5:09 pm

    Heartfelt hugs and oceans of caring.
    Today and every day.
    Your painful lessons serve as a reminder – and give me hope.
    I have never, ever spend time on myself without feeling guilt. Guilt because I am undeserving. And this hard assessment of self encourages others to think/feel/act the same…
    And the garden is always solace and heart balm.

    • jennifer on July 21, 2021 at 8:48 am

      Always balm and solace, yes.
      The guilt is dying off slowly as I see the fruit of daily decisions
      but it can come pounding in a minute from seemingly nowhere.
      Learning to sit in the discomfort of it without rushing to old habits
      in order to soothe the temporary stress of feeling that guilt.
      Life and learning:)
      Thanks so much for dropping by and leaving such bounty,

      • Mary on July 23, 2021 at 8:55 am

        What a year! It has been a wild ride for both of you. ❤️ Hang in there.

        • jennifer on August 8, 2021 at 7:13 pm

          Hey Mary, thanks for stopping by here!
          Sorry for my late reply – doing some bad dance steps over here,
          trying to learn a new rhythm:)
          Big hugs,

  2. Julia JULIA Bourque on July 19, 2021 at 5:37 pm

    Dear Jennifer, I’m a bit rumbled by the rough journey, you and your husband have traveled this year. You are still riding the waves with great dignity.
    Like a lot of women, I usually take care of myself last and everyone else comes first. It might be the motherly instinct for us women.
    Wishing you both deep healing and renewed strength and peaceful rest of the summer.
    Hugs, ❤️

    • jennifer on July 21, 2021 at 8:45 am

      I think it may be our motherly instinct, too. I may be learning to mother myself
      a little more mindfully. To show the same kind of care and kindness.
      I have a feeling we need that from ourselves.
      Thanks for that sweet blessing – I feel it:)
      Big care,

  3. Lisa Moreland on July 20, 2021 at 9:42 am

    Exquisitely expressed, as is your nature to do so. Myriads walk a similar path and will be blessed by your gentling words. Sending gardens of grace, affection, and hope from afar.

    • jennifer on July 21, 2021 at 7:32 am

      Thanks for those lovely gardens – feeling their fragrance and having a little wallow:)
      Take good care and big thanks for dropping by,

  4. Robin on July 20, 2021 at 10:07 am

    It’s been a while since I’ve been here too…and when I show up I’m just in awe at your words and story. Thank you for continuing to share your amazing gifts with us!

    • jennifer on July 21, 2021 at 7:30 am

      Hey Robin! I am grateful for the small shares we’re able to offer up – keeps us all connected.
      I remember reading somewhere how story is hospitality. Kind of what I love about blogging.
      Thanks for dropping by – i so appreciate:)
      – Jennifer

  5. Susan on July 22, 2021 at 10:40 pm

    My words, though small, wrap your heart with love and prayer.

    • jennifer on August 8, 2021 at 7:15 pm

      Thank you so much, dear one.
      I feel your heart with much joy and thanks,

  6. Lady Fi on July 23, 2021 at 1:55 am

    Wishing you both oceans of gentle healing!

    • jennifer on August 8, 2021 at 7:15 pm

      Thank you for those oceans – feeling the waves and sending much
      hope for joy and peace back,

  7. Cathy on July 23, 2021 at 5:00 am

    So glad to hear that you are taking care of yourself a little better. You and Bryan have had quite a rough road to travel but I know you both are slowly getting on top of all of this. I know all your family and friends have kept ya’ll in there prayers. We miss you and would love to give you a big hug! Love to you both my sweet cousin.🥰❤🙏🙏🙏

    • jennifer on August 8, 2021 at 7:14 pm

      Well gosh I am late with this reply, Cathy – just trying to find a groove again.
      Jennifer has not got her groove back:) I think I’m carving a new one:)
      Thanks for those kind words – love and prayers for all of you too.
      – Jennifer

  8. Susan on July 23, 2021 at 4:20 pm

    First, my dear, thank you for continuing to share your exquisite words, brilliant art and astonishing images during these difficult times. It all makes such a good impact in my days and is much needed and cherished. We, too, are dealing with scary virus things and learning to help our bodies adjust and change and to embrace naps even more! They are pretty amazing things, these bodies, especially with 70+ years on them that they can respond and heal with time and rest. Always always wishing you both the very best xoxo

    • jennifer on August 8, 2021 at 7:12 pm

      They are amazing, aren’t they! Pretty good old healers, just the same:)
      I am amazed at life, how beautiful and punishing and also how we do!
      Thanks for sharing the journey with me, Susan.
      I always appreciate,

  9. jeanie on August 1, 2021 at 8:51 am

    My dear Jennifer, I’ve had this post open for days, reading it, then re-reading it, because anything I could say in a comment seemed so inadequate, words and phrasing not worthy of these beautiful words and deep down thoughts and your courage and openness in sharing them with us. What a journey you have been on in these past months, both as (for lack of better word) patient and caregiver. I guess there is a reason why they call patients that — because patience is something that must be developed and is often in short supply as we negotiate new territory in the recovery and self-care business.

    I send you huge hugs and wishes that you continue to tend to yourself as well as to the circumstances around you, whether it is your husband’s illness, your garden, the business and your art. You are learning to cope with your new world in a beautiful and heartfelt way and I so admire that.

    • jennifer on August 8, 2021 at 7:10 pm

      Your words so kind and heartfelt – thank you for that verbal hug!
      New days; new worlds:)
      We are all in this together.
      Thanks for hearing me here,

  10. Elizabeth Nelson on August 7, 2021 at 9:49 am

    “Go not gently into this dark night, Rage, RAGE, against the dying of the light!”

    • jennifer on August 8, 2021 at 7:07 pm

      Thanks for your cheers – so grateful for the light that shines strong
      and grows in beauty when the night is holding on.
      We are tenderly held:)
      Big joy to you,

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