Even song…..

Even when the night dances so dark on your mind
that your peace splinters tears,
when life feels over-budget and over-drawn
but under-spent;
in the ache and stall and prickle
and 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 what could quickly become despair
even there a bud burns still inside to open,
to sizzle and surge and batter through rock
and shriek life back into all that has died.

In the stabbing glare of all you may have wished or 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’s lost is nothing to what’s found,
and all the death that ever was,
set next to life,
would scarcely fill a cup.”
– Frederick Buechner

I’m doing a give-away this week over here (image below)
A little love bomb from Singing River – some handwritten encouragement,
a smattering of blank note cards and envelopes,
and my first homemade art journal.   It’s imperfect but lovely
and just long enough for this strange season we’re in.
All made and sent to you with love and well-washed hands:)
I’ll draw a name from the comments Tuesday night 4/7.
And be back here with another post next Wed.
Sending love and huge hope for you and yours.

The layers and the light…..

My process begins with a heartpour
my own unscripted words dumped raw onto clean, blank page.
A turn-the-purse-upside-down-and-send-the-contents-dumping.
It’s never pretty.  Never polished.  And can be a little wrenching.
I write the unsayable things – the stuff of which Anne Lamott wrote,
“my thoughts were such that would make Jesus want to drink gin out of the cat dish.”
The hard,  the embarrassing, the boring and the ugly.
It’s the bottom down under and it’s gotta go somewhere.
I give them space and let those thoughts breathe the light.
Unjudged and unashamed (wriggle, wriggle, squirm)

Then I drop down to that place in my belly where the river stirs
and let myself dip – falling,  falling – into those wild and uncertain waters
like a stone thrown into the deep
and I coach my hands start playing.
Just go all playful – letting loose to dance with Creation
until I’m carried along in the current while my childlike arting begins
to let the ripples speak.

I never sit down to make art.  Ever.  I go at it like a playful explore
and I don’t try to get anything right.

There is no right or wrong or off or don’t-go.
Some things I like – especially when they come like surprising packages
that feel like a note passed from Love to or through me.
That stuff makes my heart squeeze happy beats and the living feel like hope.
But I don’t work hard to make pretty or good – the work instead is in the showing up,
the carving out space and time and giving it that chunky slice of my living.
Letting the messy process be
and going soft to the uncertainty.
I may have nothing to show for this.

But oh that messy down under is raw and sometimes daunting.
Life and days and relationships and situations and seasons – they all have bottom layers.
I’m learning to fear them less – to hold a spacious yes for them –
as I dance this messy dance with un-hiding the things.
To growing my love for the layers and the light.

As I grow in love for this process I also grow in love for this life-living we get to do.
It’s amazing what a blank white page can call up and out in us,  especially when we know that
we won’t leave it naked and unloved – that we’ll be back to tend the wounds and notice the beauty
and listen in to hear the healing things.

“I can shake off everything as I write;  my sorrows disappear,
my courage is reborn.”
– Anne Frank

Singing River Soul Spa….. (starting softly)

I’ve been tending garden in my own life for awhile,  a soul spa of sorts,
and I’m in love with the rivery way of this process and how it tunes my heartstrings
to playing real – I love the wind and the listen.
For years I’ve been working out some ways to share it with others,
to create experience that facilitates their own deep dives
as I come alongside like a playful river guide.

I want to share this space I’ve learned to cultivate
until solution bubbles up and my heart takes on peace
and love heals some things as the ripples speak.

So I’m offering it up,
this invite to come to my town to play,  and while you’re here,
meet me in one of the studios
i borrow from the forest where the singing rivers flow.
Or on my porch alongside the flowers and dark mountain ridges
that dance their blues across the sky.
I’ll supply the goods and we’ll go deep diving together
messing about with pens, paper and paints and see what Spirit wants to whisper,
And I’ll make us some yummy things to munch and sip along the way.

I’ve been sharpening my tools and I’m as ready as I know how to be
to put my sun-kissed skin into the game and get creating with the someones
that feel inspired to come my way.
To give you a couple of tender hours in my garden away from the bustle
where you can linger with a listening someone
who is eager to share her process and toys:)
Just some easy encouraging rivertime for the real of you.

What would you get?
~A new art journal and a fresh dance with some old tools to do your own unique mining for treasure
(art journaling looks different on each of us –  I’ll share my own sweet spot )
~some photos of your forest time and
~a little package of bits of art for collage and
~some handwritten love I make just for you as I lean in to listen and hear with and for you,
~ a little hike,  a little wade in the water,  a little picking and pressing of wild things,  a little time away
to soak in nature and some space to breathe deep and relax.   A reset to rest.
A custom experience for uniquely you.

I’ve taught workshops when my living allowed but I’m making a big sweep across my busy table,
putting some things aside to make a spacious place in my days
to do more of this thing that makes my heart feel so deeply alive.
So I’m for hire!  Not online but in skin.  In the Pisgah Forest that I love.  You can find me by the river
with a table spread for two (or several).  I’ll pack in the supplies
and you come ready to play like an otter in the deep.
With someone who loves to swim alongside.

I’m doing a soft launch this month and
I’ll be throwing open doors to my forest time in March once the weather warms a little more.
Thanks for letting me share this thing bursting loose in me – I’ve been carrying
it inside for a long,  long time:)

“I believe art is utterly important.  It is one of the things that could save us.”
– Mary Oliver

Fresh new thank you notes at lap 58

Delivering up some thank you notes as I trot into lap 58….

Thank you,  life,  for showing me that clear is kind,
for swatting me hard sometimes when I’m not direct and nudging me
to ask better questions instead of parking myself in comfortable assumption.

Thank you,  Brene’ Brown,  for “paint done” –
and Candace for “keep talking – don’t quit talking yet”…
and that I’m learning,  learning to do relationship better.
For how beautiful is understanding

Thank you,  local honey,  for being the sweetest medicine I know.

Thank you,  big gold house on the hill,  for holding us all safe through the storms
and keeping a roof over my grateful head.

Thank you, last golden minutes before the sun slips down behind the mountain,
for bathing me in glisten and glow enough to last the whole night through.

Thank you,   pain and exhaustion,  for teaching me that if I say “yes”
when my heart means “no” that I’m doing a terrible thing to myself
and to people I don’t want to hurt.
For growing a stronger “no” in me.

Thank you,  all my messy art journals,  for showing me how to make investment
in my own heart – that it’s the streambed of my tomorrows.
For being peace and purpose and play to me.

Thank you,  Truth,  for letting my questions tumble out – my ugly, raw and angry stuff –
to rest unanswered in your light until they lose the power to throttle me.

Thank you,  Anderson,  for your gentle,  merry way.
For your kindness even when I’m unhinged; I appreciate every minute.

Thank you,  Autumn,  for being warm compassion and healing balm.
Your presence and words this year were pure gift
and my heart is stronger for it.

Thank you,  Katie,  for feeling like home away from home
and for stirring my aliveness with your strength and smile.
And for reminding me to rest.

Thank you,  Hope for inspiring dreams to bubble up life again,
for calling to the beauty-maker in me
and tugging me to find new ways.  I’m forever grateful for you.

Thank you,  hard conversations,  for teaching me courage.  For letting me practice my baby steps
into braver waters.

Thank you, Tom and Beth, for being friendship and fried chicken in the lonesome.

Thank you,  trust,   for coming on slow but sure where I’ve felt jilted.
For finding a place in my heart even where I’ve locked down afraid of being gullible again.
For helping me be open and also shrewd…..for teaching me to hold the line taught between the two.

Thank you,  truth-tellers, for being healing drops to my eyes – for helping me to see
that I don’t always see so well.

Thank you,  God,  for being only mercy when I feel hurt and hard.
For wooing me back to my head on your chest every time I spin out.

Thank you,  Candace, Libby, Gay, Patty, Risa, Marcia, Katherine, Pam, Claire,  Karen, Barbara, Eva, Jennifer, Mary Beth, Elizabeth, Lorraine…..gosh, ya’ll.  You blew me away!
I don’t even know what I would have done without your kind gift last August.
It was a suffocating time and you threw open a window for some fresh air.
I could breathe again and I don’t know enough thank you words.

Thank you,  people who offer “do you want to have a pray?”
It’s a gift of rare beauty to join hands and invite God.
I love this as much as I loved knocking on doors with alongside a friend when I was young,
maybe to sell girl scout cookies or ask someone to come out and play.
Standing together knocking is a sweet spot in my soul and I’ll always appreciate each ask.

Thank you,  Jason,  for your kind, encouraging way.

Thank you,  Audible,  for good reads while the miles passed long beneath me.

Thank you,  old green jeep,  for going and going and going still.
You take me there.  And sometimes make me stay.
And I like our relationship:)

Thank you to some of the sensitive heroic nurses who patiently helped my Mom make her way home.
You are unsung angels and I couldn’t begin to walk a mile in your shoes.

Thank you,  dear body of mine,  for going weak all over and feeling awful when I lie.  You say it strong to make
me honest.  Especially to myself.  Thanks for helping check my thoughts when I’m sleepy to what I’m doing.

Thank you,  brave ones who strip off the label of “victim” and own powerful their stories instead.  You
challenge my self pity and excuses;  I’m grateful for your candles burning potent in the dark. d
You shift things more than you know.

Thank you,  Mom,  for teaching me some things about living and dying.   About being strong – maybe even too strong.  For the way your presence sometimes lands still like a gift and for praying from a clear and peaceful place.
I look forward to togethering with you again someday.

Thank you,  Dad,  for lifelong learning.  For making yourself oatmeal and frying eggs and finding new ways.
For your weakness and your wonder – I’m richer because you’re you.

Thank you to the different ones – the atypical and off-center.
For being both brave and weak in the ways we sometimes punish.  We are all the greater for you
and I wouldn’t want to live in a world where you don’t lead us.

Thank you,  Langston,  for making me wrestle.  For challenging my perceptions and making waves
where I wanted an oversimplified calm.
For reminding me that people are worth the pain.

Thank you to my dearests – Bryan, Hannah, Peter, John, Amanda, Lance, Danielle.  For stirring me always to be curious,  vulnerable,  unsettled,  fluid,  and half-crazy until I do better.  For making me a more humane human and this world a friendlier place.

Thank you,  little table in the woods,  for sharing your space by the river while I play with pens and paints
and write out what I hear the wild wind saying.  You help me let the river flow through me and make all the work worthwhile.

Thank you, you beautiful noble people of Snowbird and Birdtown,
for letting me be a small part of your lives
You have my heart.

Thank you,  pressure and struggle,  for not leaving me the way that I was.
That I don’t have to fear my failings and fumblings

Thank you,  Singing River,  for growing inside me until I’m bursting with the soul spa I’m carrying
to full term.  I can’t wait to discover your name and offer you up to serve and be seen.
You feel like the best part of me;  thanks for hanging on.

Thank you,  new courage,  that sometimes finds me being transparent in the middle of a shamestorm.
For the growing grace to just stand there naked until my fear gets tired of fearing and love gets to find me like that and heal some of my unloved places.

Thank you,  lungs,  for filling up with air every day fresh and fueling my comings and goings.
I’m your biggest fan and so appreciate your flexibility.

Thank you,  dear soul of mine,  for becoming more discriminating about the stories you make up about why things happen.   I appreciate your growing patience before you rush to craft a narrative that may hurt on my body and mind.  Thanks for recognizing when you might not be seeing it true.  This feels like becoming free.

Thank you,  drivers who respect instead of rage.   You make all of our lives more livable.  And every minute you take to be kind is a sweet rain of goodness on dry places.

Thank you to the helpers – the ones who come alongside when trouble happens.  You are the salt of the earth;
we’d all be in a world of hurt if not for your heart to show up and risk.    You make it do-able to be human.

Thank you,  real apologies,  for being said from hearts that know how to kneel down and serve love.
You heal and re-set us.  And give us grace to go again, restoring relationships and building the bridges that move us
forward over busted up places.  You are bottomless brilliance and may just save us.

Thank you,  Lisa, Sandy, Donna, Jennifer and Karen,  for being forever-friends who hear my things
and let me wail and show me grace even when I’m frantic as life is burning down my fear.
For being a finger away on the chat when I need to tag someone in.
For showing up in the hard stuff.  You’re a gift to me,  I know it.

Thank you,  Janet,  for being my sister-friend who loves me always.  I think I’m most myself with you and it’s scary sometimes to be that real and test again the waters “am I still okay?  Still loved?” With you I’m always safe and this is no small thing in this great big wide.  You and David are pure gold and harbor.

Thank you,  midnight hours,  for being quiet and draped in moonlight.  For the stars you offer so gentle and the whisper to put things right.  For the way you strip away the clutter
and offer up the living room to roll out my thoughts and prayers like paint chips on the floor.
I forgive you the intrusion and welcome your tap tap tap on my window.

Thank you to the physical therapists who worked me so good.  My back thanks you so hard!
It’s joy and relief to know what to do to keep my parts all playing nice with each other.

Thank you,  soap and showers and all the bathtubs I have loved.
And Epsom salts,  I heart you forever.

Thank you,  Thistle Farms in Nashville,  for inspiring me wildly.  For showing that crafting and social justice and healing can team up successful to do big good.  For Love Heals.

Thank you,  Pisgah Forest,  for being a living picture of restoration.
For sparking my vision for bigger things.

Thank you, boots that keep my socks dry,  gloves that keep my hands warm,
and all the hats that have shielded me from the sun this year.
You give my skin a fighting chance.

Thank you,  problem-solvers,  for solutions and finding better ways.

Thank you,  cider-makers,  for turning humble fruits into tart bubbles
that sing welcome end-of-day songs.

Thank you,  laughter that shakes my belly – you’re better than pie
and a staple in my life.

thank you,  Bryan,  for working to find your footing on this steep and slippery slope
and knowing sometimes the passwords and prices,  and for holding my hand
warm as we pray in the night.

Thank you,  life,  for being both beautiful and hard.  And exquisitely painful.
And worth living for all the moments and days.  I will believe that you are precious,
that people are priceless,  and that the turn of the decade has ushered in our finest and most fruitful days.

Thank you,  dear ones who read the words I write down,
for the gift of your listen.  This is no small thing in this loud and busy world
and I’m honored that you take the time.

I used to think that when I reached almost 60 I’d be old and wise,
yet somehow I feel as if I’m still just on the cusp of getting a clue:)
My bag is,  however,  heavy with fresh new thank you notes.
Thanks for letting me dump them out and share.

Of decades and dearness….

It’s a new decade
and my one little word surprised me quick:

When I was a girl,  there was one warm little word that could smooth back the hair
from my upset and calm the afraid-and-alone of me,
sometimes offered by my mother and also my grandma Creasy
when I was particularly deserving.
“Dear”
“You dear little thing”
As I grew too big and clunky,  the word became reserved for babies
and petite girls who minded their manners and kept their thick shiny hair tucked
neatly back off their faces.
For puppies and lambs and darling things.
It meant worthy of notice,  of affection,  of protection,  of love.

The remarkable thing about being dear was that
it seemed to come without a single bit of effort on the part of the beloved.
It was as if the essence of the dear one squeezed sunshine and smile and safety
like orange juice from another soul.
It was delicious to be dear,
a soul-soothing energy that made it okay to be seen.

It was potent pain to lose your dearness.
To become un-see-able or worse,  unacceptable,  by love,

As I’ve journeyed through the years I’ve learned and un-learned to hustle  for my dearness
the way you do when you’re still figuring it out,
and I hurt on hearts,  mine and others,  the way you do
when you’re not sure that it’s settled already – your unique value –
in the grand design.

This past year was gift in that it stirred the deep of this primal pain
as I lost the body of work I’d created over the past decade to a hard drive crash
while my mother slowly died
and layers of my shell peeled away,
begging the scary questions we toss like covers in the night.

Several months before she passed, I began to make old photos into cards and write my love
and memories in bundles for Mom to draw from when she needed a lift.
In this way she let me say how dear,
let me lay my heart on the foot of her bed
and feel a home once more in that place.
As I listened and longed for some words in return
I felt it keen the hunger to feel dear again to her,
the little girl of me reaching for her smile.

She was unable to give it,
and so one of the gifts in her passing is a sharp sense of purpose
standing up strong inside where it once felt like a dream being dreamed
a torch to say the things – to say how dear – into our motherless places.
Those holes left behind by the imperfect lives of our mothers and by our own
imperfect capacity to receive what she had to give.
We wound our kids without meaning – even in wanting only ever to love.

This year I’ll tend the memorial garden in my heart,  in part,
by making space to say the things out louder,
to cluck soft and hum tender over our dearness.
To honor my mother and the mother in us all.
Because we’re here for just a few short seasons,  like a wisp,
and I don’t want to leave any of my love ungiven.

So here it is,  dear – my one little word.
And here’s to our dearness.

“You have to find a mother inside yourself.  We all do.
Even if we have a mother,  we still have to find this part of ourselves inside.”

– Sue Monk Kidd