Tell Me Something I can hold

When I married I became a more acceptable thing
in the eyes of the religion I ran from.
Having a good man take me as his wife was a hall pass in this constricting world,
a ticket upgrade that gave me access to better hiding places
from the shame I felt dogged by in my youth.
Too young we said our vows and bought a house
and began making a new story that I believed if I lived well enough
would be strong medicine to erase my old pain.
Just fix it all with fresh paint
and rows of pretty flowers.

Someone was willing to have me,
right in front of God,
and I hoped this proof enough that
I might be salvaged,
along with the bits of my heart that shattered years before
when I let go my baby girl
to release her to another mother
because I wasn’t nearly enough
to remain hers.

So when into our fledgling marriage came another baby girl beautiful,
I loved her with the fury of one who has already lost one child
to her own unworthiness.
I loved her wholehearted and also fearful,
dogged by gnawing hunger to do right
because my heart had heard them hard, words like wrong and unfit
and would my fitness pass muster now these seven years since?
Then along came a boy-gift,  beloved and bright,
and then another son of sweetness – all the apples of my eyes.
My young heart spilled wild love;  they were my world.
And like a sea turtle returning to the beach where she was birthed,
I scrambled to the knowing tree,
with these bright beings
in tow.
To keep them safe and shield them
because it was the only way I’d known.

(This is my why I offer compassion instead of distain
for those trapped by fundamentalist thinking;
I know what it is to be a mamabear with bloody paw
caught in the steel teeth of that fearful-rigid trap.)

I hear people say how they have no regrets,
how they’re glad for what happened because it made them the people they are now.
I have no grid for that.
If I could bargain for it now, I’d paint their childhoods all over again
in a wholly different tone.
From a fiercely nourishing tree.
And from that Living tree I’ve poured forgiveness
on all the people, and especially myself,
and released that mom-guilt to the wind,
to the sacred river-running-through who does the restoring
of what my own hands
can’t mend.

This whole messy business of being a mother,
and now of loving grown up someones more than actual air,
but not knowing exactly how or how much or
what-just-now to offer….when or if to say the things.
Much of what I make and share spills from this place.
To leave it here for them to someday find
with a hopeful trust that it will splash them good in the living
when they need,
if they need,
but not swamp their boats when they don’t.

It grows my love for all the someones,
for all the beings learning how to be,
and for the Tree who scoops us all into a taller and more tender grace
than a body can imagine.
I often think my kids taught me to love,
or at least showed me how deep love goes.
And this new book – I made it for them.
It’s a smattering of the fruits I would have plucked from living tree
and grinned as the juice dribbled sweet down their chins
those short golden hours.

My imaginary do-over:)
The things I would go back and say.
The fistfull of flowers I want to leave some days at their doors
with a written note “for you” that means “oh how I’m for you,”
“and God only for you,”
and “ever always for you.”
Along with the words I long to have lived with them
instead of the ones I sometimes settled for
in the foreboding thicket
of the wrong-ass
tree.

I know we don’t get do-overs,
but we sometimes get more time.
This is the book I made with mine.

It’s available for you and yours,  too.
With love.
Pre-orders open over at http://singingriverstudios.com

“I love
you.
Tell me the words
you need to hear.
And I
will say them.
Over and over and over
until the echo sings
like whispered hymns
in the broken rubble
where churches
once stood.”
– Tyler Knott Gregson

Giving away a pre-order to a copy of Volume 2
to be mailed out as soon as it’s fresh off the press.
Just leave a comment and you’re in the drawing.

And,  hey,  I realize navigating religious weirdness doesn’t resonate with many.
It’s a niche of a story,  mine,  but it’s the one I’ve got and so I share
with hope that bits and pieces may be life to another heart
in the throes of healing and change.
Thanks for hearing me.

 

 

Safeheld in the tree that knows me….

(continued from previous post….)

I grew up amongst the two trees,
feeling the stirrings of them both.
The living tree was where I knew joy,  and a peaceable rest that sprung up
from feeling safe in the
easy just being.
I took refuge in these branches most often alone,  when stress and clamor didn’t steal
away the childlike yes it took to dwell there.
But when hot fever of shame sent my ego into storm,
I’d retreat to the thick branches of the knowing tree
where I’d take comfort in my narrative carefully written:
Who to side with – who was good.
And who or what to blame when feeling less than.

To figure it out,
so that I could feel justified and so at least safe
from the fear of judgement that came creeping
like a shadow in the dark,
lurking always when I felt undeserving of love and care.
And here in any shamestorm,  if I could play the right part hard enough,
I could get high on feeling  like I’d scrambled to a tower, lofty above the fray.
There were perks to dwelling in the tree that seemed to know,
like camaraderie among the approved.
We could be good together,
or against together,
or at least safe together in the camp of the upper-hand.
And even though as a child I had a soft spot for mystery,
it grew harder with every need to prove my right-standing,
to self-protect,
to know and be right.

Yeah I spent years driving nails into coffins
where I buried my wonder alive.

I broke up with the knowing tree years ago,
but I can slip,  and I do,
slip fast like an addict with just one sip.
I can be self-righteous
and I don’t want to live there anymore.
Where some god is propped behind a smoking curtain
while little men demand my attention to their booming bluster.
Especially in this season where the wizard behind the curtain seems to be
whipped into a frenzy,
and we’re called out as stupid if we don’t buy.
How dare I approach the great and powerful?

Well  I have a thing for this tree.
The living one.
This is where I want to spend myself.
On a love so safe that it’s shelter,
a knowing so wide that it’s wonderment
and a belonging so secure that I’m always and anywhere
home
with One who welcomes and wants me as I am.

And when the mad in me goes bitter,
when fear sends me scrambling for what I worry must be scarce,
when I feel somehow superior
or ashamed,
I can trace it back
to the fruit
I’ve been
eating
again.
Stupid tree.

God,
help me settle like a child into the tree growing up
like a fountain from your heart.

And in places where I’ve drawn back like a stranger to love
because I’ve taken on some lies
and missed the affectionate twinkle
in the only eyes that get to tell me who I am,

may I remember it again
and again
and as many times as it takes:
don’t eat from the tree
made of eyes that can never see or know me.

Again choosing life in the living
while the wind rustles love songs from God.

“I have refused to live
locked in the orderly house
of reasons and proofs.
The world I live in and believe in
is wider than that.  And anyway,
what’s wrong with Maybe?

You wouldn’t believe what once or
twice I have seen.  I’ll just
tell you this:
only if there are angels in your head will you
ever,  possibly,  see one.”
– Mary Oliver

Congrats to Rebecca Lanning on the name-draw.
I’ll be sending out your bundle this week
with a whole lot of love!

Two trees growing up in the garden…..

I’ve heard it told of two trees growing up in a garden,
two filters,  two perspectives,  two ways;
one a driven religion to be right and know,
to category and label living things.
Superiority feels like shelter in this system
and it demands that those who eat it’s fruit conform.

The second tree is freedom from this judgement,
instead it holds both the dark night cold and the clear sky blue
without fearing the colors and range.
Doesn’t demonize or categorize but
a spacious system supple enough to let people be where they are
until they aren’t.
This living-tree pulses powerful with compassion and grief
while the knowing tree draws from roots of punishment and shame.

These trees can be felt everywhere
like a river running through.
You can feel the slap and shove of the knowing tree when you
question,  when you try to listen open,
when you draw back from the fast food it’s selling.
It has no patience for growing and preparing food for thought,
no tolerance for the slowness of God.
There is a quietude to the living tree
because it doesn’t bristle,
controlling and scared.
 The knowing tree rages at this living tree’s generous way
because it fears the living,
doesn’t do the messy,
of living things.

And humans are hard to get to know
without a lot of time and trust and conversation,
especially if your goal is to narrow down the wide
into piles of evil and good.

Perhaps the human heart was never meant for dissecting at all.
Knowing someone can take a lifetime
and the knowing tree has no patience for this mystery.
It wants cliff notes filed through fast
instead of a novel to discover and digest.

Humans are bewildering to the knowing tree,
often simply problems to be solved.
So the way people are wired is a conundrum for the knowing tree
which likes to keep a tidy god,  well-managed and contained.
Left brained or right,
liberal or conservative,
religious or secular,
engineer or artist
– an impossibly ridiculous (and unnecessary) range.
This unholy mosh must be cooked down into a self-same stew
because there is no rest for those in the stranglehold of this system
if it can’t get a vice grip handle
on evil and good.

It has to be one or the other,
which is likely why the fruit from this tree
has such a harsh and bitter bite.

It will say,  with authority,  what it “knows”
as if it’s perfectly and positively true.
It scrambles to this knowing without question
and ascertains the motives of a heart,
what’s gonna happen next,
what someone meant by what they said or did,
and,  especially,
what God thinks and feels about
pretty much everything.

And this tree thrives because we humans have a powerful low tolerance
for looking stupid
so if we’re gonna live from a freer place
we have to make peace
with looking a fool.

Yeah,  the knowing tree has mastered the art of mocking.
Of the side-eye,  the eye roll,  the mic drop and the sneer.
And it offers up what Anne Lamott calls “snappy explanations for suffering.”
The knowing tree has it all figured out.
Oversimplified.
You can check your gut at the door and simply pick up your pre-approved script.
(to be continued…)

“There is nothing you can’t prove if only your outlook
is sufficiently limited.”
– Dorothy Sayers

(this feels like storytime with Jenny and I’m loving the telling,
my heart especially needs it now to hear.
I aim to come back next week with another portion;
I need to write this,
especially as I fall deeper in love with the living tree
and also grieve it out, all the unholy knowing that I’ve done.
~ thanks for your always generous patience
in my working it out.)

To celebrate the living in the tangle of these times,
I want to give away a bundle.
A signed book,  some art,  and some handwritten love
from me to you.
Leave a comment and your name goes into the drawing:)

Thank you note to where I am now……

Dear where and how I am just exactly now,
(dear reality)

I want to welcome you.
And apologize for the cold shoulder I’ve turned
instead of the warm embrace
that I offer now.
Honestly I’ve been scared to accept you
because you’re a really uncomfortable place for me
and it’s habit to dodge and resist something
that feels as dangerous as you seem.
I want deadlines and answers and,
honestly, I feel pretty homesick for the whole idea of “safe.”
Even if it always was an illusion,
the concept felt comforting and,  well,
you don’t.

I wasn’t able to have this conversation with you earlier
because I sort of froze up,
hunkered down from the fears and flares that keep flushing up sudden
like pheasants exploding from a field.
You’ve rattled me,  and I thought if I waited you out a little longer
you’d go back to wherever you came from and
then I’d cozy my mind into taking a breather
from the hornet’s nest of dread
that feels sometimes suspended from the dark corner of my imagination.

But here we are instead and clearly you’re here
until you aren’t.
And I haven’t even thanked you for coming
because, honestly,  I’ve resented the intrusion.
But I’ve been watching and listening and have to admit
that there is something beautiful about what’s happening here.

Like an awkward yoga pose
that holds and holds until I’m shaking and tottering;
there’s just no way to be smooth about you.
The fact that I’m feeling even more uncool than ever,
more uncertain,  more vulnerable,
is something I accept.
But here you are still,  and there’s something that I love
about how you’re pressing on my entitlement issues
until I have to feel them angry rising.

I never wanted or asked for this,
never was cavalier about the virus,
yet here I am.
Why can this land for me as somehow not right?
Why do I feel that maybe I should get a different road?
One that lets me feel large and in charge,  or at least safe.
What if here and now,  exactly as it is,  is happening
for me.
( not that some puppet master is playing me to build character or teach a lesson
– I don’t believe that –  but this storm may be raising the water levels
in some rivers that my soul will thrill to see).

Maybe I can learn to un-freeze
even in this,
to find the beauty in the breaking.
To shake off the fear (as many times as it takes)
and live wholehearted whatever cards this deck serves up.
Death comes to us all,
but I don’t want to turn my life in
more than once.
So I’m thinkin’ maybe stop un-living some of these hours,
especially since the glass is getting heavier on the bottom
every single day.

I want to meet this moment fully.
“May I meet it as a friend.”

“The moment in which the mind acknowledges,
‘this isn’t what I wanted but it’s what I got,’
is the point at which suffering disappears.
Sadness might remain present but the mind is free
to console,  free to support the mind’s acceptance of the situation,
free to allow space for new possibilities to come into view.”

– Sylvia Boorstein

Thanks for having a listen;  I appreciate the gift of your witness.
Just to clarify (writing words down = always the risk of misunderstanding):
I’m navigating the challenge of living fully and unafraid in fearful situations and times.
Not suggesting anyone ignore risks.
(I’m masking.  And distancing.  That’s not even on the table.)

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.

 

Of bouquets and brambles and bounty 4 you….

About twenty years ago,  when I was in the thick of trying to figure out
who am I in the strange and terrible beauty of this life,
coming on forty and wondering what of all that I believed was even true enough
to haul into the next season
– what was real
and what would hold the weight of all that I loved,

I had this powerful whisper of an experience.
It started soft like a low hum,  a glance of the clock on my old stove
landing neatly on 4:44.  My eyes liked the something-ness about it.
Early the next morning I woke with a start,  face to the bedside clock radio.
Again with the 4:44.
I felt my curiosity rustle.
It kept happening through the remainder of that year,
so many 4:44’s that my questions began to burn.
I was church-ing hard at that time and I prayed for answers and clues
about the gift I seemed always to be unwrapping
only to find another box inside,
wrapped in 4:44s.
What did it mean?
And what was I supposed to do with it?

Eventually,  instead of enjoying the experience,
it stressed me out (as did much of my inner life).
I figured I was missing something important – another deficit
in my spiritual account.
Secret fear:  God was trying to warn or correct me about something and I was too dull
to decode the memo.
If only I could discern the message and comply,  things wouldn’t be going so poorly for me.
Prayers would get answered.  Hurtful situations would heal.
That’s where I camped fearful.

That hard season was followed by a sweeter blossom of a time
and I got free from some fears.
Every now and then the 4:44 would pop up and I’d wonder still and hold it close to heart.
It felt more,  in that less constricted place,  like a stone that caught my eye
that I’d pick up and put in my box of special things.
For over almost two decade my eyes would often be drawn to clocks
just when the fours all lined up
like sunflowers waving tall against the blue.
I studied numbers and dream interpretation and all the hullaballoo,
but when I’d have a pray about it,  now more like an easy conversation,
the thought that would bubble up from my being
was simply this:  “I’m for you.  I’m for you.  I’m for you.”

Like God was winking into my insecurity and hesitation
and reassuring, “hey,  I’m for you.”
(maybe if you,  too,  come from a severe spiritual climate,
you can relate to the ingrained idea that God is mostly against).

Many years later, just as the sun began to go down on 2020,
all the fours began lining up persistent across my clock faces again.
For about four days they hummed and then trouble came sweeping
and I felt carried downriver by the blast.
I don’t need to sing you all the details,  just that all my fear-buttons got pressed hard.

These numbers.  Like old friends.
They felt familiar,  showing up like a strong Dad on a dark lonesome road
with a spare tire and a torch and time and skill and love to spend.
4:44
I’m for you.
I’ve got you.
Hold tight my hand.
I’m right here.

I gimped into 2021 without a word for the year – didn’t even want one.
No head space for that.
I did feel inspired to start a creative challenge (a bouquet a day) and
noticed the number 4  showing up in my art in droves once we moved and I got back at it.
Then,  as my little challenge started to unfold (i share it on fb),
I noticed I was beginning every share with “For you.”
Well dang.  There it is.  Once again I backed into my one little word for the year.
Only this year it’s also a number.
So,  way late to the new year’s share but toddling in just the same
(always the late bloomer),
my one little word: the number 4.

Because it’s been a slow unfolding, this peaceful confidence,
that shitstorms in my life don’t define me.
That trouble doesn’t tell me who I am,
especially who I am to the One who is for me with warm affection,
even when I’m bent low by a cold wind passing.

I think that’s what’s growing in my garden this year;
I’ll come around to share what blooms.

“We unwittingly project onto God
our own attitudes and feelings toward ourselves…
but we cannot assume that he feels about us the way we feel about ourselves
—unless we love ourselves passionately,  intensely,  and freely.”
– Brennan Manning

And
Congrats to Judy Hartman
for winning a copy of my book in last post’s giveaway.
Another drawing this post,
a little packet of handmade cards,  all originals.
Nice and textured and unique and with beautiful soft envelopes.
Leave a comment and into the hat your name goes.
(I hope to come back to you way sooner this time)

Of weakness, wobbles and Winter’s end…..

I have loved being the strong of me,
loved being the older one who hefted bags of soil and pots of living things
and pruned and dug and tucked and tweaked and lasted long until the work was done.
Loved flinging myself headlong into wild dance with the Muse,
until my chest heaved wholehearted and sweat and dirt and paint and grin
covered me like a song that I relished diving into,
 unafraid of swirling waters because I actually prefer.
Oh give me strong white roaring waves because I’ve got a whitewater heart
and peace can be hard to find in stillwater places
unless I’ve spent myself already in the breakers.

When I went down with Covid in mid December, it found me
able to rest patient and lean into the process of cooperating  with and waiting for healing to happen.
It was fear and relief and dread and hope and mindfully ride each sickly wave as they hit.
A lot like labor – really painful hard but focused,  with eyes of the prize.
“This too shall pass,”  I imagined my mother’s voice saying.
Breathe and pray and go through.

And I went through. Within several weeks I was weak but back to my life
and so grateful to be.
When another wave crashed down and knocked me powerful off my feet again
in January, I was bewildered.  I was in the thick of packing and preparing to move
and this felt totally rogue.  I was mystified.  How even is this real?
I slowly recovered,  read,  researched,  and realized that this sometimes long road is a real thing.
I slowed down more and took even better care.

Then,  in early February,  the night before the movers came,
I again couldn’t taste my food and began to sink beneath the dark waters.
I went through again and in about a week I was able to do life pokey and slow again.
Pokey and slow and hesitant.   Like walking-on-egg-shells fearful hesitant.
How do I stop this thing?

When the beast flared again in early March I was less surprised
but more discouraged.
The shaking, burning, thirst.  The dizzying nausea.  The feeling of being pulled underwater.
How the weight of my shoulders threatened to crush me.
It all came with ugly crying this time.  I was tired.  Tired of going through.
I wanted answers and tools I could hold in my hands.
I knocked on doors – please help me –  until I found some.
Not a cure,  to be sure,  but handy tools that have helped me feel a little less afraid
so I’m not wasting precious time and focus scanning always the horizon
for another monster wave beginning to swell.

I’ll say more about that someday
(if you’re really allergic and post virus and shaking in your boots,
feel free to message or email me and I’ll gladly share what bits I’ve found.
In short,  you have to treat these flares like a massive mast cell activation
or cytokine storm.  Use the tools that treat anaphylaxis.  It works for me).
The storms still come – but I’m still going through to the other side.

I don’t want to give more time and attention to the virus here in this space.
It doesn’t deserve any more of my life and I want to continue to see and celebrate
the big beautiful of this ocean rather than the storms that blow in.
I’ve always loved waves and will ride them wholehearted still.
Just wanted to catch you up on my disappearance
and get back to the blogging space.
I’ve missed you much!

Happy greenings.  Happy springing.  Happy bounding back to life again.

“God of herons and heartbreak,
teach us to love the world again.
Teach us to love extravagently,
knowing it may
(it will) break our hearts
and teach us that it is worth it.

God of pandemics and suffering ones,
teach us to love the world again.

God of loneliness and longing,
God of bushfires and wilderness
and soup kitchens and border towns,
of snowfall and children,
teach us to love the world again.

Amen.”
– Sarah Bessey
(from her new book “A Rhythm of Prayer” which I’ve been loving so big)

To celebrate being back on the blog,  I want to give away one of my books.
Hard to believe that even happened – my book – because I’ve done zero marketing.
Have not done any of the things.
But she’s here in all her ragamuffin glory and I want to share her
– leave a comment and I’ll pop your name in the drawing.
Thanks for coming around again;  I welcome you warm.

Thank you notes at lap 59…..

59
Grinning thanks for all the bright candles burning sweet heat
as I head into the last lap of my fifties.
59 thank you notes:

Thank you,  nuance,   for being sanity in unsafe times.

Thank you,  Bryan,  for fighting through with me for us.
For being the yang to my yin,  the still water to my rippling waves,
and the well-grilled steak to my sweet potato fries
(with a buttery herby drizzle).

Thank you, Singing River Studios,  for being a studio without walls.
For finding space in the forest and in my heart to get born this year.

Thank you,  Jess of Bohoink, for my incredibly beautiful logo.
For seeing my heart and using your inks and paints to give it shape
in the real world.

Thank you to my tools!
For how my heart does a happy jig when we get to create together.
My gardening tools,  paints,  pens,  words,  camera,  journals, and practices.
I love doing life with you.

Thank you,  laughing rivers, empty fields, tall trees and big skies,
for singing my heart open so I can listen as Spirit speaks.
I need you like air.

Thank you, Honey and Salt,  for your greenhouse skillet.
You make breakfast a celebration
and inspire me in an Irregardless kind of way.

Thank you,  Anderson,  for helping me make my book this year.
For sharing your mad design skills and lending your considerable talents.
You helped bring the calm when tech challenges overwhelmed
and helped me chase down my nerve
so often when I lost it.
I appreciate you so.

Thank you,  Hope, for sending us home from the market when the risk got too high.
Your heart to keep us safe surpassed your need for help
and I feel your generous heart for us all.

Thank you to all the voices who were salt and light
and challenge to my biases and belief systems this year.
With loving creativity you brought truth into some dusty folds of my thinking
and helped me navigate this season
with some peace and purpose.

And thank you particularly, Ashley Abercrombie,  for being wisdom and fire
in the crazy;   you felt like an online big sister
during a year when I really needed a sharp and honest voice like yours.

Thank you,  Cherokee people, for remaining.
Your presence here and in your scattered nation is a gift and I appreciate you.
I acknowledge you as the host people of the home where I get to dwell
And thank you for your stewardship of this land.
And for receiving me.

Thank you,  Mom,  for your continued prayers.
I feel them all the stronger
more and still…..

Thank you,  Mark Charles,  for being unflappable in your sharing
of the history and perspective and wisdom on which I’m chewing….
I hold a hefty hope that this country will be ready for your leadership soon.

Thank you,  rocky places in the sky where I get to roam and jeep and pray,
for being a place where I can feel the jagged light of heaven
kiss the broken ground…..

Thank you to the brave voices who bless instead of curse
during these polarizing times.
Who listen instead of assume.
And who protect and affirm the humanity
of even those with whom they disagree.
Heroic,  every time.

Thank you,  Anne,  for project managing my book
– for finding me a great printer and being a friend
of life-long proportions:)

Thank you, God,  for the grace
that can’t be wiped out by the firestorms and fault-lines of my fears.
For the rest that comes when my heart feels safe
and the friendship that blossoms when I believe in rest.

Thank you,  Soul-keeper, for more layers in the healing of my hurry.

Thank you, white people, who make room for willingness
to examine the myth of American exceptionalism.
For those willing to look at the doctrine of discovery (just look),
who defy the fear of shame  and listen deeply beyond excuse and defenses.
For those not afraid to drop to their white knees and rethink.

In fact,  the biggest warmest thank you to everyone who got a little bit better
at listening this year.
Such a vital art.  We’re all the richer for your wrestle.

For the soundness of mind that comes only from cooperating with reality,
and for how it heals the bones and breath of me
when I shelter in this place.

For how the heart of God comforts
instead of condemns
when we sit in the trauma of our history
and feel the weight of our individual and collective wrongs.

For the birth pains getting stronger on this wild spinning ball,
how we’re getting to the roots of our collective trauma.
A healing crisis.

For the gentleness of God
when I judge him/her as unkind,  unjust,  indifferent or impotent.

For the way Covid didn’t steal my breath away.
And the prayers that supported my wings.

And thank you,  taste buds,  for being so dependable for most all of my days!
I have missed the taste of food so hard
and I’ll never take you for granted again.
You help make living fun.

Thank you,  sharers of your stories.
Because your heart beats out this beautiful unique-to-you song.
Thanks for allowing us a glimpse so that we can cherish the gem that is you.

Thank you,  humans,  for every time you refused to demonize another one of us.
For that inspired act of love.   For trusting that there is an un-truth
in every demonizing story.   And for admitting you may not know the whole of it.
You are my biggest heroes this year.  Love and honor.

Thank you to all the creative tension that flickers and sparks between suffering and solution,
and to humans who are willing to get messy there.

Thank you to the disruptors.  Because love disrupts.  And so does story.

Thank you,  Meg and Joanna,   for helping me with tech issues.
For tugging me up to speed with all the things.
My brain hurts, but thanks for scraping me up off the floor and propping me up anyway.
You were a path through the fog.  And so awfully kind about it.

Thank you,  2020, for being the scene where I learned in a big way that panic,
not the task,  is the enemy.
You forced me so far outside of my comfort zone that I couldn’t find my way back
and had to just build a new home in the wild of the crazy unknown.
For requiring me to focus on the present.  There’s a gift in there somewhere.

Thank you to each big deep breath of focus. Fooooooo-cus.  Helped me get some stuff done.

Thank you,  Vivian Howard, for the little green dress recipe that lives always in my fridge.
Really does make things taste good.

Thank you,  Schitt’s Creek,  for making me laugh tears.  For your superb writing.
For “Be very careful, John, lest you suffer vertigo from the dizzying heights of your moral ground.” (Moira)
Quote of 2020 in my book.

Thank you, Justice,  for being the big chunk of the heart of God I fell in love with this year.
Not the hopeless justice with no mercy,  but the gospel-of-Luke mad love
for the oppressed and excluded that Jesus modeled.
I saw it fresh how tight he remains with the voiceless.

Thank you also, 2020,  for the space and noise that inspired a deeper dive into the love of God
who is no slave to politics or religion or the systems devised by those
very man-made things.
For the confusion that drove me deeper into the light.

Thank you, sweet stirring Breeze that warmed and cuddled seeds
until they broke through hard shells and lived anyway.
I love that way that you do:)

Thank you to all those who made brave pivots,  set new paces,
took wild generous strokes into unmarked territory
in all of the loss and bewilderment of this turbulent year.
And for those who kept shooting up flares to help us orient and find footing in the fray.

Thank you,  simple pleasures,  for being a drizzle of raspberry jam on an ordinary thing.
For botanical prints on plain paper,  cloud patterns on sky,
painted pages drying on the clothesline,  white foam on waves,
good songs on the radio, tan on legs,  loved ones on Zoom,
moon on dark nights,  rain on too dry ground,  and time on my hands.

Thank you,  art and hope and gratitude,  for being subversive joy
and defiance against the dark.

Thank you,  poetry,  for distilling it all so powerfully.
My crush on you only deepens.

Thank you,  truth-telling,  for being this powerful and humble harbor.
For how you never try to manipulate and control.

Oh and also,  Truth, for being a place where we can rest.  That you require no plate-spinning,
juggling or shape-shifting.
Nothing tricksy to manage with you.  Sanctuary.

Thank you to the peacemakers this year.  Holy.  Your work was,  just,  holy.
I could go full-on dramatic about this but I’ll just leave it here simple.
Thanks,  ya’ll.  You’re heroes every one.

Thank you, life,  for permission to feel it all and still not lose hope.
This year made having thin, sensitive skin a long raw scrape on dirty gravel.

Thank you,  grieving ones,  for doing the grieving.
Please don’t turn it down or off to satisfy one of our insipid ideas
about getting over it to make the rest of us more comfy.
We all need the brave work you’re doing.
Keep the faith.

Thank you to the mountains where I get to make my home.
For lifting always up my eyes.   Sharpening my senses.   Unwinding what gets tangled in me.
And for how you rain down sorrow long held within your rock,
the tears of a people driven from their home by pride and greed.
You saw and hold their footsteps like a heartbeat.
Thanks for whispering their story.
For remembering.

Thank you,  Janet and David,  for your passionate hunt for houses this year.
For following the impossibly steep and winding trail
until you treed the sister houses across the valley.  For having big, wild vision and
sharing the spoils with us.
Can you believe we get to be neighbors in these mountains – what crazy-sweet,
scary and worthwhile dream are we living?!?

Thank you,  local farmers,  for planting fields of flowers
and especially dahlias
just because they’re beautiful.
Because beauty.  You also are my heroes.

Thank you,  dear infusion center nurse, for your emphatic, “today the world sure isn’t as it should be.”
Because I heard them bubble up from my belly these words,
“No,  but it’s getting a little closer.”
Snapshot in time,  that one – I’ll store and keep it long.

Thank you,  shifting seasons,  for helping me not get lost in my love for yesterday.
For reminding me that nostalgia isn’t my God.
For the nudge that in this hurricane of change,
hope and disappointment can sit together all day long
without lying to each other.

Thank you,  change that shakes my shaky things,
for stirring my stuck places into rock and shudder,
Getting unstuck is worth the pain.

 

Thank you,  wildflowers and perennials and all the bloomers that bloomed.
Went right on and bloomed anyway during this hardscrabble year.
You were hope and resilience on bold dewy stalks and fostered joy by the fist-fulls.

Thank you to those who messaged me criticisms this year.
For your instructions on how I should show up in this world.
You stirred some bristle and wrestle  about what I stand for and where my lines actually are.
I appreciate the clarity your words forced me to cultivate.
(and with respect,  do write your own lyrics if you don’t like what I pen;
I’m busy writing mine.)

Thank you to all the helpers and healers who surrounded my Dad when he was struggling this year.
And for all of the healthcare heroes who have worked tirelessly and endured unspeakable stress
while so many were safe at home.   Hand to my heart for you.
(And heartfelt prayers in the stress you still navigate in the battle we still wage).

Thank you to every human willing to listen beyond their cultural biases and ego’s defenses
as things previously hidden to them began to be revealed.
To those who refused to dismiss the painful light.
The art of listening was a triumph this year.   Cheers to the listeners who listened.
*I realize I listed listeners twice.  Keeping it.  Because listening*

Thank you to the ones who pre-ordered my book!
You fueled so much.  And to all who purchase still -it’s joy to send them to good homes.

Thank you,  generous ones,  for holding space for people to be where they are
until they shift.
For trusting that mercy and grace are far better building materials
than accusation and contempt.
For letting Love lead and doing the work of grief when your hearts break
but refusing to make camp in hate
because you trust that hate won’t hold us high enough to see forward.
For doing the badass business of forgiveness
and making welcome without judgement
when people change their minds.
For being generous when perspectives evolve
And inclusive.
For trusting that revenge is cheap and shortsighted and not ours to take.
For believing, instead, in the Love that never fails.

Thank you to my grown children.
You are beloved.   My biggest reasons.
There isn’t a morning I wake or day that grows dark when my heart doesn’t reach across the miles
with prayer and thanks and hope and celebration and love for who you are.
I am so thankful to share this planet with each of you.

For one more year!
So many didn’t get another.
My neck is sunkissed wrinkles and I’ve noticed a droop in my jowls,
and you may even spot some chin hairs that without glasses I can’t even see to pluck,
but to get to head into the last lap of my fifties is pure gift,
this I know.
Gimpy and flawed and still figuring it out, I’m all in:)

“You,  too,  will find your strength
We who must live in this time
cannot imagine how strong you will become –
how strange,  how surprising,
yet familiar as yesterday.

We will sense you like a fragrance from a nearby garden
and watch you move through our days
like a shaft of sunlight in a sickroom.

We will not be herded into churches
for you are not made by the crowd,
you who meet us in our solitude.

We are cradled close in your hands –
and lavishly flung forth.”
– Ranier Maria Rilke

Thank you for reading this impossibly long post:)
I’ve recovered from Covid mostly and am now deep up to my elbows in the restoration
of an old house that will be my new home.
The one across the valley with the red roof:)
I’ll be back soon with more to share
Much love to you this new year!

Because joy…..

I posted a snippet yesterday and then plucked it back down again
because I’ve been a little frazzled
and I didn’t trust my words to land true.
So many swirling around like birds – not sure if they were ready to light
or if they needed to linger in flight until they perch for you to read.
So I’ll share instead what the river seemed to sing
as I watched her tumble smiling across the rocks:

That even in the noise and swirl there is reason enough,  and grace,
to gather up the edges of my hope
and shake it out hard so I can lose the fluff
and draw up solid around me what remains
like a blanket in the night
to feel the strong warm
against my heart
thumping
scared

because
of what may be coming
around that scary-looking corner up ahead
and all of the dark unknown that seems to cry danger
and warning and this is the moment just before the other shoe drops
and then won’t you feel stupid for all the joy you held foolish like a silly child
so busily enchanted in your sandbox that you didn’t see the storm in time to run.

Those are the bony fingers that come for my joy in the night,
rattling that it’s a fool’s errand to celebrate beauty
and cultivate gratitude
because shelter is not built in such ways
and
feeling it all so deeply is not a luxury
you can afford.

Better to numb it all down,
the cold wind hisses,
and brace yourself against
whatever is to come.

But as I watch the waters tumble and trust-fall undaunted down
into wild places they’ve never been,  all of that whitewater
singing fearless joy in a brave language
that I’m longing to learn,
I feel a wisdom in the joy
that rises high above the
voice of my anxious rumblings
and makes sense
of hope.

My heart settles there today,
trusting,  leaning, and tumbling headlong into the Hope
who is loving presence and tender mercy and solution and strategy and peace.
Anchoring my soul in this gives space for my joy to get loud and colorful and do the bright work
of making this moment delicious and this life worth all of the even gnarly,  often heart-breaking living.

Fight for joy in this strange season,  friend;
Don’t go ’round without it’s medicine.

“Joy is the most vulnerable emotion we experience.
And if you cannot tolerate joy,  what you do is start dress-rehearsing tragedy.”
– Brene’ Brown

Congratulations to Jeanie of Marmalade Gypsy
– your name popped up in the drawing for a copy of Tell Me Something Good

which arrives fresh from the West Coast tomorrow.  I’ll be sending it out this week!

Offering another giveaway this week – leave a comment and your name goes in the warm fuzzy hat.

 

Of Crayons and Yarn and Lighting Candles in the Dark….

When I was a little girl I used to make books to give my family for Christmas.
It made me feel alive,  this way of putting my love onto paper with crayons and pencil
and binding together simple books with staples or yard to say a fountain of love
and I see you and you have me always on your side.
To share what I felt and saw and hoped and held dear.

I remember feeling that if I put my whole heart into  it, then I’d have nothing to regret.
Then I  could lose the fear that my voice would get snatched and leave my life unsaid.
I remember wanting so hard to say the things,  to give my heart,
to hold hands with both heaven and earth and tug the veil thin
so that the light that I heard,  the music and motion,
might warm some cold places when a chill set in.
I dreamed to paint the beauty that I felt.

It’s taken me a lifetime to become like a child again,
my work-worn hands itching to make words on paper still, but how?
Well this year life made a way,  slowed down,  and threw me a line
and I grabbed hold and started birthing something been long brewing in my heart.
Something I can offer up tangible,  like a fireside built,  where we can gather peaceful
and soak in the warmth and let it serve up some balm
that I hope may nudge breath back into hope gone tired
or burned right down to the nub.

Some of the words and images you’ve met here before,
served up fresh and easy to gift;
others are new offerings carved in the dirt of this challenging year.
I’ve felt them in my parts and prayers,  the hurting hearts all around,
and I sensed it strong to dive deep,  drawing up some singing water to share,
stringing together words and making art
because it seemed the only way I knew to get my hands messy and do something
to help light candles in the dark.

This book-making thing was way harder than I dreamed
and yet Grace showed up and did what she does
when you can’t muster the gumption but you take another tiny step anyway,
and somehow you’re swept jagged into holy current
even as your bum bruises sharp on the rocks,
and you arrive sputtering
with something
to offer up
in your hands
even
so.

Offering it to you now
with tired and giddy hands
because I really,  really want to tell you something good.

Pre-orders available now on my new website now.
https://www.singingriverstudios.com/

 

“Love is or it ain’t.
Thin love ain’t no love at all.”
-Toni Morrison

Congratulations to Cathy Burns – we drew your name!
I’ll be sending you an art journal I made.  With a whole lot of love:)
This week I’d like to gift one of my books – it will come right to your door
hopefully the second week of December.
(This thing was born to be a Christmas present:))
Leave a comment and your name goes in the hat!