Of slow crawl and stretch and set fire to the night….

Been chunking on extra wood to make a bonfire
out of the coals of gratitude I tend,
stoking it to a roar
because these times.
And this week.
So here,  bright flames leaping a fury of joy for….

~ dreamy dahlias and their diverse faces,

~ safe spaces to twirl and move and dance and groove healing
’till it flows barefoot to my bones
and soothes away the sick and tired of me.

~ all the silly cards and jokes sent to my Dad as he recovers his strength
alone at home.

~ the grace and capacity to re-learn and repent and change my mind,
to tolerate the discomfort of a painful honest look
at my internalized superiority (ouch) and privilege.
and do the slow work of learning,
even when it feels at times like drinking from a firehose.

~ for permission to step back from fb and the gram as a learning tool,
from all the partials and pieces that may prevent me from thinking through thoroughly
these wildly complex ideas and thoughts,
that “there is no humility in certainty”;
that “some people never learn anything
because they understand everything too soon.”
(Alexander Pope)
For the long slow crawl of this thing.
And that it’s okay to scrape my knees.

~ for the soft breath of evening and the way the last glow of each day lingers on the ridges
before it dips down low behind the night.

~ that delicious knowing that you’re actually,  finally,  gratefully dipping again
into a sleep that may hold you for a little while.

Just sharing these short snippets because i don’t feel good.
But I’m feeling it big to write it down,  these next little words,
and send them out into the big wide……

Right now,  just especially,  try a little tenderness.

Let loose compassion
for the humans holding on.
For me that is strong creed that family,  friendship and faith community
are not places to rally around political beliefs
but to care even more carefully for the core
around which we gather
– the Love that overrides every political position.

Fight for relationship when you sense it’s getting dragged under the wheels
of the political machine.
In the end that’s what’s going to matter:   did we learn how to love.

I didn’t want to not show up.
Because my heart has a thing for you:)

“You can resist bullcrap and live to tell.
The status quo is counting on your submission but you do not have to bow down.
This will create tension,  but I’m convinced that a tension-free culture is a dangerous one.
Tension can be defined as the act of stretching or the state of being stretched.
You will feel the stretch,  you will cause the stretch in others,  and this is called growing.
If no one injects tension into the atmosphere,  we will always default
to existing power structures that operate beautifully
as long as no one puts any pressure on them.”
– Jen Hatmaker

These days I feel like g-u-m-b-y; embracing the burn:)

Giveaway!  This week it’s a bundle.
Tell Me Something Good – a bundle of made-for-you bites of art
with handwritten encouragement for uniquely you – I will spend some Rivertime,  have a soak about you
and write down what bubbles up as I listen to hear what the ripples speak.
For you.  And send them to you in a bundle.
* Coming soon to my etsy shop *

(And happy little leap to send last post’s giveaway to Sue of Elephants Child!)

Like prayer flags in the wind….

Sharing some of the fresh doors dancing open
during a time when fear and grief rattle the windows.
Some pickings from my gratitude garden:

~ For the sweet taste of clean in the city air.

~ That it feels as if my life has stopped hemorrhaging busyness
and if Springtime has ever been this deeply beautiful before
I sure was zipping past some of the aroma.

~ For the re-think of every little thing I think I need from the store.
The resourceful stretch of that pause.
And also the thrill of need met – the absolute joy
of chives from the garden and that bar of soap from my camping bag.

~ The slow-down and re-center of
don’t lose yourself in the news,
be concerned but not consumed.
and listen deep for Truth instead of blindly buying what they’re selling.

~ Painted pages drying like prayer flags on the clothesline.

~ The sweetness of moms and dads in the forest
with their kids kicking rocks and stacking stones
and laughing with the river as she sings them her wild songs.
It does my heart good to see un-busy kids
soaking up their lessons.
And dear memories stirred of the childhood I gave my own.
(way imperfect but with stones and stories and moss and breezes – lots)

~ the re-visit to unpack and wield some of the tools
I gained while learning how to grieve well –
the holding of paradox  with one wing stretched wide with the pain
and one wing stretched wide with celebration of the beauty,
the beauty that always pulses in every sorrow.
The fresh inspire to stretch wider those wings.
Because flying.

~ The fresh ache of love when we can’t be there to hold and help
my Dad in hospital,
the fresh courage mustered to pick him up and take him home,
again and again,
to settle and see to his care while all of us so exposed,
feeling so vulnerable to the dragon that breathes fire
and how sharp the aliveness becomes
when uncertainty looms so large.

~ For good-smelling things like cinnamon and cilantro and hamburgers on the grill.
(I shall hate the smell of Lysol until I die)

~ The bigger, slower chunks of time to build something new,
to brave new paths,
find fresh ways,
and see with clearer eyes.
To defy.  To shatter.  To dare in a new direction.

“I don’t want to get to the end of my life
and find that I lived just the length of it.
I want to have lived the width of it as well.”
– Diane Ackerman

Congratulations to Jeanie of Marmalade Gypsy – we drew your name for the giveaway this week!
I’ll be sending your package along post haste.
With well washed hands.

Offering up another giveaway this week – this time a cute little purse or backpack sized art journal;
these have become my favorites -so eclectic and inspiring
Leave a comment and I’ll plunk your name in the hat to draw next Wed for a little love bomb.
Be well and brave,  friends.

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.

Tender goodbye mornings…..

It’s been twelve days since my mother left this earth
and I’ve lived each one of them,
lived them full and awake and as tenderly open as I know how.
The days just before were some of the most intense that I’ve known and I’m not ready
to unpack those and make words for them yet.
But I’m up before the sun to remember the gifts that found me these days
in the exquisite pain of love.

For the heave of relief that her considerable suffering is no more,
that her body and being were able to rest back peaceful into those everlasting arms
that she trusted to carry her home.
And for the memory of her smile as she leaned into the turn.

For the fog that wrapped the next morning as I made my way to work,
as if the clouds understood my need to disappear for just awhile
and so came down to offer cover those first gritty hours.
And the chores that let my hard tangle of feelings get dirty and sweaty
and walk hard and long until they drained off soft again.
For the fatigue that came from work instead of waiting.

For the black and blue swallowtail that fluttered around me slow,
and then around again and again in soft circles around my face
while Hope watched and cried because she said she saw it happen to another
the day after she too lost her mother
and my heart felt it like a massage
and my breath went deep.

For the kindness of friends who
loved me in it all
and let me say my pain.
And the song that came alongside to walk me through
* Let it Fall* by Over the Rhine

For the goldfinches who flew alongside my window.

For a table thick with laughter and family and Mexican Train
and the soul food of being there loved.

For time on the deck with my sister while the stars bent low to kiss the ridge tops
and how we felt it thin the line between here and there
and got to say our things and listen and understand;
For the butter and balm of that starry night share.

For the project that wouldn’t wait and was lightning strike to my tired places,
a jolt into a focus that gave my grief a shelf for keeping until.
For the way it challenged my art making expansive and stretchy
when I wanted to curl up and just not.
For the deep breath of yes between my bones when we finished.

For the kindness of words written on little bites of art – the magic
of cards that travel through the mail to rest in my box.
And for the gift of needed provision that arrived just exactly when,
like care packages from heaven.

That the food poisoning didn’t kill me
though, Lord,  felt like it tried:)

For the kindness of hands that tugged the sadness from my feet
and rubbed the weight from my shoulders with a sigh.

It feels a primal sort of pain to lose a mama
and I fling thanks for the goodness of mine
and for every drop of comfort and challenge  along the way.
Today I will tug free the words I’ll share at her service on Friday
and God it feels daunting to pick up the pen.

Thanks for letting me  prime the pump and share with you here,  my treasured friends.
I appreciate your kind listen.

“‘Cause rain and leaves and snow and tears and stars,
and that’s not all my friend,
they all fall with confidence and grace,
So let it fall,  let it fall.”
– Jerome Detweiler
Over the Rhine

And still the moving things….

I’ve been moving through some changes and it’s been a gnarly sort of stretch
but also beautiful and grow-y.
Always the paradox – the God-breath and the grit.
So, still from the soup, I want to share some of the stuff that’s been moving me:

~  all of the extra oxygen in my lungs (!)
I took the shot.  The one I’ve shied away from for several years because too many risks.
But then the risk of un-living my life seemed to loom larger so I dove in
and did the risky deed the doctors recommended
and I can breathe all the way down
to the bottom of my lungs.
This feels crazy big and I’m sometimes giddy with air.

~ the way the early evening quiets the heat
the dusk gentles the sun,
and how the river sings my dry places soft again.

~  the courage that’s somehow finding me to be transparent in shamestorms,
to stand sometimes unmasked until my fear gets tired of fearing
and love gets to find me like that
and heal some of my unloved places.
The whole getting better at not hiding thing.

~ for the fields of yellow where horses graze with the foal
who trots along playful like a dolphin born into a buttercup sea.

~ for the mishmash of music making my summering sing,
including Willy Nelson Sings Gershwin,
and Lauren Daigle’s Look Up Child.

~ for how I’m learning to live in a rest that can weary what wants to drive me,
can just demoralize it because the joy I keep tapping won’t lose it’s fizz.
that I can cry angry,  heart-broken tears and still trust the Love that’s holding me
and plant myself peaceful in this place.
How this is stronger than the certainty I crave.

~ for the high places and skies that ride these ridges
where I can listen to the wind words.

~ the way life is giving me soft moments with my mother
that I didn’t know I needed until I find the girl of me running hard to plant her flowers
and bring her beauty and make her eggs wet and find the words
that have fluttered far from reach before this tender time when we’re both bent low
so that maybe we can see each other’s faces true.

~ the compassion of friends who see my gimpy places and smile the same smiles
that warm me when I’m strong.

~ the first ripe veggies of Summer,  elderberry syrup in my tea,
and all the brave moves that let us be fresh berries splashed with cream
and served up sweet instead of growing mold in the back of the fridge.

“You are not too old,
and it is not too late
to dive into your increasing depths
where life calmly gives out
it’s own secret.”
– Rilke

Thanks for your patience with my heavy Springtime ways.
It’s coming on Summertime and the living is easier
now that the planting is mostly done.