Of life-living and so-telling…..

I’ve been standing in the strong winds of the word that found me for the year –
blameless –
winds whipping high with opportunity to blame like crazy,
to max out my capacity to resent and hold grudge.
(isn’t that the way these things go – you get a word and it challenges you so)

Yeah,  my little word has been riding shotgun while I wrestle with the wishing
to slam down my gavel and spit reasons why I’m right,
to stomp my feet to make it fair,
to lock my jaw and close up tight
because the way I see it is the way
and I want to keep my mad about it.
( sigh:))

The urge to say I told you so – there they are,
the words that can hiss and rattle alongside my longing
to be grace in gravely places.

“I told you so”
-is there even a shimmer of light in those self-righteous little words?
That I was able to predict something that heaven never wanted,
able to say the worst before it had the chance to happen
and then get to feel like I’m on higher ground?

Ewwww

When I get over myself and look with love I can see a little clearer
the choices that I’m choosing,
because when I leave this planet and burst blazing into the next thing
what kind of fire do I want to have lit with all of my telling?

I want to have told things that massage hope into silent questions,
that knead whatever light someone holds until it expands and fills their lonely places,
telling that rubs away the anxious rumblings that can make a hurting heart feel separated from love.
To say how you don’t have to be clever enough, or strong enough,
or fast or smart or good enough –
that you’re already there and wrapped in love enough
to help and heal and hold you close through anything
and maybe someone can open and receive it
because another someone told them so.

God how I want my told-you-so’s to be life instead of darkness.

You are worthy and wanted and welcome
and I want to tell you so:)

“Certainty is missing the point entirely.”
– Anne Lamott

(i’ve been a bad blogger lately – thanks so much for coming around
and saying even when I don’t get by to visit as often as I will soon.
I miss our visits)

Even Song

Even when the night dances so dark on your mind
that your peace splinters tears,
when life feels over-budget and overdrawn
but under-spent;
in the ache and stall and prickle
and in the fear that can sit so heavy on a belly
that you freeze clear through to your spine
…even then it is there,  rumbling low,
fluttering hope.

In the fear that your mistakes may cost more
than you can ever help to pay,
that you may have loved much but not well,
may have caused more harm than healing,
more thicket than clearing,
more frustration than good,

that a stray word or exhausted miss
may have broken things so hard
that the
final word
is suffering.

Even there in what could quickly become despair,
a bud burns still inside to open,
to sizzle and surge and batter through rock
and shriek life into all that died.

In the stabbing glare of all you may have wasted
or wandered off from,
there’s an epilogue unwritten still
but swirling always fierce with hope
that won’t let go even when you must.

It rumbles new beginnings,  new pages,  new leaves and buds and seasons,
that what was lost may still be found,
that what was buried may yet live.

That in all of the loss and leaving,
in the dreams that died in the shell,
your heart is safe to lean in to what’s coming,
into the quiet thunder that’s humming
resurrection,
hold steady,
it is well.

“What is this breaking,
this hopeful re-making,
shifting stones,
addressing dry bones,
dizzying me with blessings,
intercepting my grieving
and raising the dead all around me.”
– Enuma Okoro

Happy Springtime,  dear you:)
I’ve been busy living like a farmer and I realize I say that every April or May; it’s as true as ever.
I’ll be back regular now – thanks for being your loving selves with my
dirty,  achy, sunburned,  tuckered out Springtime way.
You are a lovely garden and I plop down grateful in your gentle shade:)

40 years the Spring

I’ve posted this for many years;  a loving,  healing ritual.
Because I need to honor this out loud,
especially for those who haven’t found their voices yet
And to honor all of the days these 40 years since

because they are each of them marked by both pain and light.

And to honor mothers everywhere,
because our hearts bear always the stretchmarks
of loving and letting go.

 It was March 1979.
Breezes turned balmy and I pulled off my shoes,
letting swollen feet tramp across the warming earth.
I was pregnant with my first baby,  due St. Patrick’s Day.
For weeks I had ached for time to stop,  squeezing myself shut to the coming separation,
the word “relinquish” heavy on my heart.

But today the weather had turned,  and hadn’t everything somehow changed?
Spring had come with her own dreamy wildness
and waves to ride far beyond the looming loss.

I spent the morning sun-soaking,  watching the wind stir the tire swing
I’d played in not so long ago.
I was newly seventeen,  an “unwed” mother
with an unwanted task:
to give my baby to someone she deserved.

Soon she would come apart from me,
gone before the leaves flushed out;
their buds were fat and ready to pop.
Like me.
I went quiet with the knowing.

But this day was vivid lovely and it got inside me.
As the sun began to dip low,  a storm of pain rumbled
and hammered down urgency inside my belly
as grownup voices began herding me into the night.

As my frightened parents gathered my things into the car,
I lunged back inside for one last minute alone
with the gentle life that had so shaken mine
with her own tender worth.

I lowered my heavy frame onto the bed and tried to sing one last lullabye
but could do only tears, a fragile goodbye.

Following strong contractions downstairs and
into
the
night,
I returned home with only fierce memory
of her tiny fingers and face.
But I’m marked forever by her essence,
often swept away by her melody
as it drifts across my heartstrings.

I recognize her song.

Forty Springs.
I honor each of her days.
Today I tenderly comfort the girl-in-me who carried her
before she was transplanted into the garden
that nurtured her to thriving.
And I remember those shimmery days when we were just us,
when she was still mine.

“I don’t have much money but if I did
I’d buy a big house where we both could live.
If I were a sculptor,  but then again,  no
or a man who makes potions in a traveling show

I know it’s not much but it’s the best I can do
my gift is my song and this one’s for you.

And you can tell everybody this is your song
It may be quite simple but now that it’s done
I hope you don’t mind,  I hope you don’t mind
that I put down in words
how wonderful life is while you’re in the world.”
– Elton John

Thanks for giving a listen.
For being a witness.
I hold this as a gift
with love and thanks – Jen
( Self care gift to myself this week – lots and lots of words;))

Here’s to the lovers who love…..

Here’s to the lovers who love,
who show up wholehearted or hang back in respect,
who honor with presence or make needed space,
who lavish their time or spend themselves instead
with the fierce kind of patience that affection may require,
who ask questions or who ask nothing,
go the distance or go back home.

Whatever love asks.

Here’s to the givers who forgive.
To the ones who grieve well,
who show up for celebration
and for dry bones,
Who care gentle and fight fair,
who invite God and raise hell.

To the ones blazing love,
lighting fire to the night,
egos laid down
and hearts bared to the light.

Here’s to the lovers who love.

“We can have our junk together in a thousand areas,
but if we don’t have love,
we are totally bankrupt.”
– Jen Hatmaker

“Ego judges and punishes;
love forgives and heals.”
– anonymous

Over here celebrating my heros:  everyday people who love.
Oh God,  take us there.

From the loving tree…..

Morning breaks through branches scratching words across the sky
and I draw back sometimes like a stranger to love
because I’ve taken on some lies
that sting and shame
and so I look down
and miss the affectionate twinkle
in the only eyes who get to tell me who I am.

But when I listen for the truth,
close my eyes and listen low,
there comes the soft storm of a sound like drumming,
the sweet strong thunder of a river humming,
breaking off the shame and home to me coming
back to the true of my heart.

And I remember it fresh – don’t eat from the tree
made of eyes that can never see or know me.

And so again I am breaking up with shame
as the wind rustles valentines from God.

“Distrust shame.
Even when you don’t fit.”
– Mandy Bird

In the awkward stage of practicing new skills over here –
taking a personal challenge to learn to say what I mean without so many words
and this is a fearful thing
because I don’t want to be misunderstood.
It’s my nature,  instead,  to explain.
To use lots of paint to try and say it clear:)
Having an awkward go
and grateful if what I write down
meets you where you are.
With love:)

To leave behind a well-worn life…..

I want to live my life – the whole messy thing –
live all the in-betweens and almosts and dark corners.
To live even when I’m spooked and my living starts to freeze up,
when I’d rather go sleepy
or let a blue day swallow me down.

I want to live above the ground for all of my days
until my body is done,
to recognize quick those moments when I opt out,
when busyness makes a racket and I can’t hear the un-lived moments
float silent down like the ash of a cigarette left burning,
the soft stink of something left to die.

I want my life to smell well used and air-dried and open-windowed,
never dank like a room shut up and left
until someone comes back to find it
later.

I want to live all the way alive,
 each morning early when I pull myself from pillow
and live for real the whole of the day until I sleep,
to leave a well-used life still warm and speaking
like a blossom,
like a mountain,
like a shriek.

“A storm was coming but that’s not what she felt.
It was adventure in the wind
and it shivered down her spine.”
– Atticus

The love we’re born to be….

Dear darling you at the end of your heart-breaking day,
I can’t hear them clear, the words you’re making through the buzzing on the line
but I can hear it strong the sadness in your voice,
and it stirs me to lean in as far as I can bend.
But the clamor in my ears has me guessing what you mean
and it feels your voice may break into pieces
if I asked you to explain
so I close my eyes and squeeze them tight
to try and be present with you in your storm.

If I knew how to hug you warm and let our words be breath,
to hum them soft without saying,
and pull out ice cream and olives and bubbles and cheese
and put on fuzzy socks and a movie
and let your sadness simply be

–  knew how to do it across these lines
where our voices hang like unpicked fruit,
knew how to offer you my love
but not too noisy,
how to climb inside this phone
and simply
hold
your hand.

Oh my dear one,  how I would.
In every shade of comfort and kindness
just exactly how your heart could hear it
I would.
But how to hold your sadness
when my hands must hold
the phone
is a song I don’t yet know.

I hear how singing the wrong words jangles your nerves
and makes your hurt feel hurtful more.

And so here –
here in this learning place
I wrap my love with care and send it far like precious package
and use my hands to dig my roots down deep through the rock of this new season
while I charge my heart – remember – how there’s always made a way
and we will land in light and time enough
to grow the music we are needing
to be filled up wild and freeing
in the love
we’re born
to be.

“Dialogue is easily spooked,  so you must be vigilant against fear,
dismissal,  manipulation and apathy – true enemies of safe dialogue.
You’ll feel it at first,  deep down,  the urge to rebut,  rebuke,  refute.
It will be a cold rock in your gut,  tempting you to correct or disagree,
or to be offended and center yourself in that person’s story.
But that instinct can be overcome,  and the results of someone feeling heard and respected
are immediate and palpable.
It takes a fairly high level of humility,  empathy and courage
to keep a space open and healthy.
It is a developed skill that takes practice.”
– Jen Hatmaker

Just gonna be saying about the things I’m living;
always i love when you come around and join the conversation
and appreciate that you read the words that I write down:)

Thank you notes at lap 57…..

To celebrate as I begin another jaunt around the sun;  57 brand new thank you notes:
(in no particular order)

Thank you,  Everett Road,  for being a slow leisurely ride for bicycles pretty much all day every day.
You make me slow down and think about how much value lives
inside each package of skin.

Thank you,  big butter-colored house with the crazy-steep driveway
where I get to lay my head down safe nights to sleep warm against the mountain.
For being loving shelter and home base.
For sharing your waterfall music and and for standing strong in all the storms.

Thank you,  Janet and David,  for sharing your lives and the big buttery house high above Everett Road.
For renting us the sweet apartment on the hillside and letting me plant my flowers there.
For being Lucy and Ricky to our Ethel and Fred:)
For being the best neighbors ever and friends beyond compare.

Thank you,  Yoga with Adriene,
for walking me through some moves on the mat
that help un-do the gnarly stuff that life sometimes does.
For being there anytime and with humor.

Thank you, 57 year old knees,  for how you keep bending me down low
so I can coax things to grow.
And for mostly cooperating with my shenanigans along the way.

Thank you,  US mail,  for trekking my words far and fast
for the simple price of a postage stamp.

Thank you,  Blue Ridge Vineyard,  for being a haven for my heart right now.
And to you,  Tom and Beth,  for feeling like home in a faraway place.

Thank you,  Mom and Dad,  for growing in love still and always,
and for pulling for my kids as if they were your own.

Thank you,  New Leaf Garden Market,  for affirming the work of my hands
and giving me a place to learn and contribute and dream.
Thanks for letting me be on your team and also be my ragamuffin self.
This is gold to me.

Thank you,  Bambi and people who do medical massage
and all of the other healers who use their hands to put things right.
Doing a year without your skills has grown my appreciation
and I don’t want to live in a world without your art form.

Thank you,  Hope,  for inspiring me to remember my buried stories and sagging poetry
while I work with dirty hands and dig up parts of myself that I’d forgotten how to miss.
I love the beautiful way you that are.

Thank you,  January,  for beginnings and my birthday.
For stirring me to celebrate my wishes and let them be.
The ones that make sense and the ones that don’t,  the long shots,  the ridiculous.
For reminding me to let my heart go off-leash and brave about them all.

Thank you, failures and flaws, for learning me not to care so hard what other people think:)
I don’t want to live chained to it’s power to starve me,
but to love for the rest of my days like a wild thing free.

Thank you,  cherry Noble cider,  for warming my belly
with your not-too-sweet bubbles.

Thank you,  people who give their animals good lives,
for living out a heroic kindness.
You make the world better.

Thank you,  Patsy and Jim,  for sharing your beautiful cottage by the sea.
For the gift of your sweet spirits and Topsail time – oh we are rich:)

Thank you, truth-tellers,  for reminding me that despair is delusional.

Thank you,  Audible,  for helping me listen to good books while I go along the highways
and back roads.   For letting me drive and have my books,  too.

Thank you,  good listeners.  for letting the hard things be hard
and the confusing things confusing.  For making it safe to say.

Thank you,  resentment,  for being such heavy poison.
You remind me to forgive as fast as I feel you
and to fight to keep your claws from hooking me long.

Thank you,  Theracane,  for working out my torqued places while I watch TV.

Thank you,  menfolk who refuse to objectify women.
You are healers and heros.   Strength and honor.

Thank you,  pain, for being a good professor.
Sorry for treating you often like a hot potato instead.
And for sometimes skipping class.

Thank you,  Youtube,  for being this freakish crazy magic.
I dreamed of you as a child – this place where anyone
could sing or say or show with the click of a button.
You’re a hot mess because we’re so human, but,  wow –
well done being the thing that you are.

Thank you,  my amazing grown kids,  for reminding me to offer my words easy
and just let them be.
For teaching me to say instead of sell.
You’re some of my best teachers and I love and appreciate you so.

Thank you,  takers of personal responsibility.
You who refuse to live from a victim narrative, even when you’ve been truly victimized.
You teach us what mercy looks like and are our strength as a people.
Thank you for showing the way to the future.

Thank you,  Marie Kondo,  for teaching me how to fold my t-shirts and keep my home
a joyful space.

Thank you,  current political environment,  for shaking and sifting us so.
For shining a broad beam on our hearts so that we can see our narrow places
and hone in on what and how we want to be instead.
For making us confront the uncomfortable
and build civility during unrest.
Our finest hour is coming.

Thank you Way-Maker
for always being exactly who you are.
Your love is my life-long discovery
and your tender faithfulness slays me in such a healing way.

Thank you,  awkward interludes,  for helping me sometimes to surrender
to the silence.

Thank you,  all of the waves that I’ve known,  for bobbing and crashing
and tumbling and rolling and surging and sweeping me off of my feet
until I find myself a child again inside your churning wonder.

Thank you,  Adam Fadel,  for teaching us that conflicts are not about content,
and helping us to heal our marriage and find the most honest, loving way.

Thank you,  Anderson,  for your kindness,
and for helping me find my footing at New Leaf.

Thank you,  scary circumstances,  for inspiring me to risk
deep into the wild of God.

Thank you,  Bee,  basset of Brevard,
for being a soulful squirmy slinky-dog of a hound
who makes me laugh hard from my belly every single day:)
You light up my life.  And remind me to close my closet doors.

Thank you,  kale,  for being awesome mixed with sweet oranges
and also tossed with olive oil and salt to make warm wintery chips.
For being beyond amazing sprinkled with goat cheese.
And thank you,  Spinning Spider,  for making your goats so happy.

Thank you,  local farmers,  for being fierce
in spite of punishing weather.  For soldiering on undaunted
while growing some of the most gorgeous flowers and veg I ever dreamed to know.

Thank you,  Pisgah Forest,  for being playground and prayer closet to me.
For being the place where I run to
and for winding me swiftly up high to the parkway where i can walk in the sky.
And for changing your clothes so dramatic each day.

Thank you,  Blue Ridge parkway,  for being the sea that I need.
For your billowing waves of moody blues and greens and grays
and endless sky sweeping vast in every flicker and twinkle and shade.
And for inviting always the wind.

Thank you,  mountain night stars,  for coming closer than any I’ve known before.
I can almost hear your starshine.

Thank you,  words,  for being a little elusive this year.
You’re still my favorite art supply but you seem more expensive now
-like I have to woo you harder, pay better attention.
And this is gift;  I may have started to take you for granted;
our relationship is healthier for this rift.

Thank you,  lonely times in a new place.
You helped me become a better friend to myself.

Thank you,  charming small town with sidewalks lit up like Stars Hollow.
You draw me out after dark to walk and feel safe while you twinkle all around.

Thank you,  black bear with the quizzical eyes,  for visiting our garage and being so loud with the garbage,
and for the long stare we shared before you lumbered away..   You and the mama bear with three cubs in tow
– you’ve all heightened my imagination in the sharpest of ways.
I think of you often after dark,  when leaves rustle and twigs crack.
You are always on my mind.

Thank you,  Candace,  for gifting me with words that make my heart sit up and hope clear.
For encouraging me with chicken salad and kindness.
For having my back.

Thank you,  those who nudged open my little etsy store again;
you made my flickering lamp sit up and smile all Summer long.

Thank you,  micron pens,  for making my hands happy to write things down.
And sturdy coarse paper – I love you forever.

Thank you, indoor lemon trees,  for being a thing.
I seriously love you.

Thank you,  Epsom salts,  for turning my plastic portable blue bathtub
into a spa soak almost every night.
With the help of some gratitude and my tired bones.

Thank you,  life,  for letting me feel sometimes the sting of want and need.
Things taste much better with a primed appetite.

Thank you,  new mattress,  for lifting all of my parts at the same time.
Miraculous how you support me.

Thank you,  blank note cards,  for giving me a quiet generous place to pour out my thoughts
and say the things.  I don’t want to leave this earth with any of my love left un-given.

Thank you,   music,  for holding it all so good.
For being the fireside where our stories go to be shared
and in such a vivid, moving language.

Thank you,   broken down and falling apart things,
for reminding me that this one life isn’t a dress rehearsal.
That this thing I’m living is real and that there’s help and plenty
but it won’t be forced on me;  that I get to choose to ask and knock.
Your perspective is helpful.

Thank you,  vehicles rigged with kayaks,  canoes and mountain bikes.
Your muddy tires and carefree ways remind me that traffic can also be a road to adventure.
Thanks for being brave – you stir me to play more

Thank you,  religious politics,
for helping me fall in love all over again with grace.
Your harsh self-righteous way makes me all the more giddy over grace.

Thank you,  Charlotte clients,  for letting me go far into the mountains to make my home
and do the drive down on early mornings to still show up and be your gardener.
For paying me still to do what I love and trusting me with places
we’ve cultivated together over the years.
This has been gift and I’ve loved every sunrise and sunset along the way
You’ve helped make some dreams real
and I’ll always remember this.

Finally,  thank you Bryan.
For being for me.
For fighting through hard places alongside of me.
And for mostly loving me – even when the one I’m fighting is you.
We’re a good team and getting better
and you can still make my heart do a shivery flutter:)
Always and forever I love you.

And you…..you who come around and read the words that I write down.
Mountains of thanks – you encourage the wind and fire of me.
(and my next post will be shorter – i promise:))

“Let’s go in search of hidden gems close to home.
Let’s sleep under skies and wake with campfire smoke lingering in our eyes.
Let’s grab the keys and feel the road spill out in front of us,
disappearing into the rear view mirror all we have endured.
Such magic is waiting.  Such splendor.
Find it with me now.  Now.”
– Tyler Knott Gregson

A strong and blameless place…..

Hello fresh beginnings.
I so welcome, you.
I’ve been away from my blog and am grateful for a shiny new jumping-back-in place.
I’d felt swept away end-of-year,  caught up in a fast tide rising,
and miffed about the undertow that grabbed me away.
Truth:  it wasn’t the undertow that shut me down
but the fear that I couldn’t create my best stuff to contribute in the soup.
Couldn’t get my words out meaningful enough or make my art artful enough.
Or my camera couldn’t find light enough to see the stories like I wanted to tell them.
I’d be found out if I said the awful stuff rolling around in my head.
and wanted instead some soulful beauty to share.

Wasn’t this this bitter version of myself best quieted away until I could sort my crazy out?
No and yes and all the maybes.

Short and oversimplified:  I was terribly mad.  At my partner.
And scared of the financial chaos I felt trapped in
-it felt like a funhouse with moving floors and smoke and mirrors and scary clowns
I’d fallen down hard too many times and couldn’t find the door.
I just wanted to see clear and feel safe
and didn’t know how to take care of myself and also love the ones I love.
And mad at myself for not being smarter and smoother about it all.

In the rumble of truth-seeking and help-finding I discovered a something
that will ride along shotgun as I travel this year.
I can be a blamer.
A hardcore,  deep in my DNA blamer.
It’s how I learned to protect myself from shame.
I’m a pro at shifting it fast so I can quickly understand and feel some safe ground.
Even when I don’t understand at all.
Just that thin illusion of control.

We all live with our narratives.
Some of my mine were soaked in blame.
And what I’ve learned is that,
when we reach for blame,
confusion and chaos move in and set up camp.
(thank you most excellent marriage counselor)

I want to love more and blame less.
To take responsibility for my own stuff and stand my sacred ground.
To thrive in my marriage and in my relationship with myself.
The little word that grinned back at me this year feels like strength to my heart,
a good walking stick for the climb.

I’ll come back and unpack more later:
just sharing now the word:  blameless

Love to you and your journey this year,
and peace with every step,  even when the way seems blurry.
There is a way.
May your exquisite heart be light.

“When you cease to exist,  then who will you blame?”
– Bob Dylan

“May what I do flow from me like a river,
no forcing and no holding back,
the way it is with children.”
– Ranier Maria Rilke

Rocks, feathers and the music of letting go….

I needed a rest from the intensity of the storytelling brewing inside,
needed to let it marinate in spirit
and go outside instead to watch the leaves drift down
on the wind of a season shifting.

Needed to give my old ways some space to stretch again with the new of a job,
the bustle of some ending,  and a hurricane of change.
To give myself again to the river running through
and pour epsom salts in steaming tub
and let the hot waters tug the hurting from my bones
while I stir and stir the singing to my soul.

To crumple fresh into the everloving arms of Life-Giver.

I’ll be back again soon with more stories
but need right now to stoke the fires of gratitude
until they climb high and burn strong against the early night.
To feed my joy generous with hefty portions of light
until my heart is thumping music again.
To do the sacred work of letting go.

Sometimes like releasing a feather to breeze,
sometimes like coughing up rocks,
the always freeing
and wildly surprising
badassery of
l e t t i n g
g o.

“People may call what happens at midlife a ‘crisis’ but it’s not.
It’s an unraveling – a time when you feel a desperate pull to live the life you want to live,
not the one you’re ‘supposed’ to live.
The unraveling is the time when you’re challenged by the universe
to let go
of who you think you are supposed to be
and to embrace who you are.”
– Brene’ Brown