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!

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

Thank you notes at lap 56……

I’m headed into my next lap around the sun
this week and I’m 56 years grateful.
  Here’s a little celebration of thank you notes,
tossed random like confetti from my heart:

~ Thank you,  Mom,  for carrying me up against your bones and breath and heart.
For loving hard and caring big
and every drop of delight you’ve ever taken in me or mine.
You,  too,  Dad….thanks for your humor and hard-working heart.

~ Thank you,  music and music-makers,  for making me feel so alive.
Every. single. day.

~ Thank you,  sweet potatoes,  for replacing pasta in most every dish I felt homesick for
when my gutt began a standoff with grain.
And to all of you potatoes – thank you for being a friend.

~ Thank you,  John,  for the honest journey you’ve made me take.
For inspiring me to stop and look and re-think and re-learn and dump my hurried assumptions.
For teaching me what it means to be a human.
And for being such a kind one:)

~ Thank you,  Candace,  for being a big sister when and how I needed it most.
For your belly laughs and beauty and bounty shared generous and wise.
Your friendship healed something deep in me
and I’m cheering always wildly always in your corner.

~ Thank you,  mamas,  for being a safe place for me to learn to be a human in the church.
For letting me dart away and come back,  get spooked and mad and howl in pain
and loving me safe just the same.
For fighting with me for friendship in my hardest place.
We’ll be laughing together for ages to come:)

~ Thank you,  people who pick up trash.
You are heros.

~ Thank you,  Janet,  for being my Janet.
You alone know the words I can’t write,  the tears I pray in the night,
and the way I can’t even make the words to say how much it is to me that you are in this world.
You’re the peanut butter to my jelly:)

~ Thank you,  flowers,  for being.
Every single petal and blossom.
I just love you.

~ Thank you,  helpers,  for showing up with your open hands
and willing hearts when a being is in need.
For every act of kindness offered ever.
You make me glad to live on this planet.

~ Thank you,  Peter,  for teaching me what it is to be spirit.
For challenging my fears and leading the way and showing me how our essence
is not broken by our breaking.
For showing me how deep love goes.
And for making me brave:)

~  Thank you,  rivers,  for going where you go
in your river-ly way.
You remind me not to g0 stale.

~ Thank you,  car people,  for knowing what to do.
For fixing things that break and getting me back on the road.

Thank you,  Hannah,  for teaching me to be a mother.
For being an amazing companion as in many ways we grew up together.
I was young,  sweetie,  and you broke so much ground.
For breaking ground still wherever you go
and for being earth and fire to my wind and water
and challenging me toward change that is beautiful.

~ Thank you,  techy people,  for having a clue.
And for making it so that I don’t have to get one
and can instead go plant or paint something.
You mean the world to me.

~  Thank you,  neighborly neighbors.
For being just that.

~  Thank you,  people who transport snail mail and packages to our boxes and doors.
I don’t want to live in a world without you.

~ Thank you,  story-tellers and art-makers,  for painting the fabric of our lives.
Or something like that.
Or maybe it’s that you nudge us to really see.

~ Thank you,  Bryan,  for being my traveling companion these 35 years.
For all of the loving,  learning,  fighting,  flailing and forward-falling.
You’re still my one and only;
thanks for letting me take the long way home.

~ Thank you,  Queen City Church,  for being a harbor of truth and beauty
where my damaged stuff could mend.
Because you let creativity flow free,  my soul didn’t break always out in hives
and I could stay and let the healing happen slow.
Again and again you inspire me.

~ Thank you,  Sacred Mountain Oil,  for smelling
like the breath of God.
I diffuse you forever:)

~ Thank you, tragedy,  for the way that we think we’re strong until a ringing phone
jars us awake in the middle of the night.
For reminding us how fragile this life.  How sweet this moment.
How worthy of our finest attention
is this present joy.

~ Thank you,  uncertainty,  for being the way forward.
Go figure.

~ Thank you,  forgiveness,  for being the life-blood of my peace.
For how you heal and restore.
And that nothing is beyond you.

~ Thank you,  laughter,  for being medicine.
The very best.

~ Thank you,  Amanda, for teaching me the piercing power of a heartbeat
and how far spirit stretches.
And for living your beautiful life to the brave rhythm of your own unique song.
Thanks for singing true.

~ Thank you,  God,  for writing a stream of love songs on my palm
with every tender stroke of your love.

~ Thank you,   control,  for being an illusion.
I enjoy learning to lose you.

Thank you, waterfalls,  for showing me how to fling my heart over every
rock hard place
and let the music that happens
be what it is.

~ Thank you,  listeners.
For listening.
It’s the main thing.

~ Thank you,  honest tears,  for cleansing away the clutter
of ugly baggage left behind.
You clear the way for fresh starts.

~ Thank you,  birds,  for the way you keep on singing.
For showing us how.

~ Thank you,  dead-ends and time-sucks,  for teaching me
who I am not.

Thank you,  Manie,  for being mother to my mister
and loving our family so sweet.  Your big heart is golden.

~ Thank you,  12 steps,  for being a thing.
You are hope in hellish places.

~  Thank you,  morning dew,  for showing up every single day.
And for every other “insignificance” that mostly goes unsung.
You make all the difference.

~ Thank you,  small businesses,  for taking risks
and braving waters.
So much of what I love comes right from you.

~ Thank you,  sugar,  for being sincerely sweet.
For keeping it real.
I still believe in you:)

~ Thank you,  Mandy Bird,  for your compassion and counsel.
For not being afraid of my grief.
You truly are a warrior poet.

~ Thank you,  Janis,  for your warm welcomes at the gate.
Your hugs have felt like home.

Thank you,  lunchtime,  for happening almost every single day
and for making this sacred space for me to hang out with friends.
You know who you are.
And I’ve loved every single stop-and-sit with you.
Going out to lunch is my favorite:)

~  Thank you,  Rivergreen,  for connecting us with so many amazing people.
For showing us the value of each piece of land and the lives lived out there.
You’ve taught me more than I may process in a lifetime.

~ Thank you,  dogs.  Elephants.  Cows.
Just for being.
And all the other animals,  too.
You make us better humans and I wouldn’t want to be one
without you.

~ Thank you,  people who give loving care
to people and animals and water and land and sky.
You are my personal favorites.

~ Thank you,  leaders,  for sticking your neck out
and offering to serve.
Hand-to-my-heart for you,  like a prayer.

~ Thank you,  my big extended family,
for being roots and connection and context and history.
I love you all so.

~ Thank you,  people who built the backroads I love to travel.
Your handiwork makes my heart soar.

Thank you,  Danielle and Lance and David.
Your love for and friendship with my children make you feel like a part of my brood
and I love what you bring to the table.
You make us a better “we” and I’m richer for each of you.

~Thank you,  crafters of good iced tea.
I mean really,  really good tea.
With lemons sliced generous and the faintest blush of sweet.
I get up most days because of you.

~ Thank you,  wood smoke,  for making cold air smell so fine.

~ Thank you,  headphones and ear buds,  for making sense out of certain places.
You save me sometimes.  You really do.

~ Thank you,  blogger friends and your blogs.
Even though we’ve never hung out in person,
you know my heart in some pretty fierce ways.
We’ve shared a lot together,  you and I.
You are mostly my favorite reads and my windows are so much wider because of you.

~ Thank you,  cell phones,  for making my brain go stretchier,
my everyday seem safer,  and my loved ones feel closer,
and my world shine brighter.
And for doing it all in color.

~ Thank you,  gratitude,  for being the one practice I can go to
anywhere at any time
for a swift perspective tweak and energy boost.
For helping me feel the abundance that surrounds me always.



“Imagine!  Imagine!
The long and wondrous journeys still to be ours.”
–   Mary Oliver

Thanks for wading through this long read,  friend.
(and thank you,  Jimmy Fallon,  for the sweet inspire)
Love to you.  Love to you always.

Of curiosity and closets and the clothesline of things…..

I’ve been taking stock,
cleaning out the closets of what I think I am,
reclaiming some treasures and discarding what no longer fits.
It’s been carting off piles of what may have worked in seasons past
and infusing with sunshine fresh from the clothesline the ones I choose still to embrace.
There’s been sadness in the letting go
but this yummy, spacious joy in the after
and I feel so light about these roomy new digs that I want to share
what got refreshed and left behind to grow:

Who am I anyway.  A list:

~ I’m a friend.  A good one.

~  I’m a mother.  Not a great one.  But devoted,  wholehearted,  and I show up always
to the learning curve to discover,  listen and improve.
And I relish the climb.

~ I’m a lover of people.  Oh yes – love deeply and without apology.
I get caught up.  Smitten.
And I’m rarely disappointed.   People are mostly altogether
as beautiful as I first realized them to be.
Relationships may disappoint, yes,  and I’m learning to better navigate those,
but I think humans are almost always lovelier than even they seem.

~ I’m a codependent, recovering.  Always recovering.
But I feel the crazy like an old injury when certain triggers and fatigue wear me down
and I can stumble down those stairs so sudden
that I’m sleepwalking in the thick of habit before I’m fully awake.
I’ve wrecked a relationship or two this way.
Mostly,  though,  I reserve the lion’s share of injury for myself,
still often giving more than I can afford.
But I am in recovery, enthusiastically showing up to the work,
currently working a 12 step (CoDA) and getting some delicious freedom in the new.

~ Because, I’m a student.  Always.
Curious and unwilling to waste my living unexplored.

~ I’m a gardener.
It’s how I see the world.  I love the whole messy, unpredictable process;
– it feeds something deep inside.

~ I’m a seer…..empath…..intuit
– whatever you want to call a super-sensitive soul.
I feel places,  see songs,  hear hearts,
sense energies,  and sometimes touch the mystic.
I accept and often enjoy this,  and it also sometimes unravels me.
Such a paradox,  life.
(And,  yes,  so woo woo)

~ I’m a listener.
I love to know people.  To hear their stories.
And to be heard and known.
Assumption is the ugliest thing I know.

~ I’m a lover of nature,  lover of honesty,  a lover of God,
and a lover of words.
I’m a writer,
and diving deeper into the deep end of things I’ve carried
since I was only a girl full of dreams.

Someone recently handed me a box of darkness,  as Mary Oliver described,
and this indeed has been gift.
I’m getting clear about who I’m not,  that I am,  and what my own heart may be howling
above the music of the waves.

I’ll be back more now that our busy season is done and all the gardens growing happy.
So much that I’m bursting to share!

 “Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness.
It took me years to understand that this,  too,  was a gift.”
– Mary Oliver

“Over and over,  we are broken on the shore of life.
Our stubborn egos are knocked around,  and our frightened hearts are broken open
– not once,  and not in predictable patterns,
but in surprising ways and for as long as we live.”
– Elizabeth Lesser

On sails of celebration…..

I’ve been a quiet sort here lately,  haven’t I,
my soul long squirming to stay still and startled grateful as the stillness found me instead.
I haven’t wanted to stir the deep quiet
because it’s been feeding me something I didn’t even know I was hungry for.

I do a little creative challenge each year and this time I’ve been sharing my daily
over on instagram  (jenniferripplespeak);  it seems to be fueled by the bit of juice
that I usually cook with over here
so I forget that I haven’t actually been blogging regularly.
I think I want to change that.
So here again I am:)

I’ve got another little series steeping in my heart
but it’s not strong enough for sipping yet
so I’m letting it brew.
Until then,  a celebratory snippet to offer up to you:)

~ “Let me keep my distance,  always,  from those who think
they have all the answers.
Let me keep company always with those who say,
‘Look!’ and laugh in astonishment
and bow their heads.”
– Mary Oliver

“Every day I see or hear something
that more or less kills me with delight,
that leaves me like a needle in a haystack of light.”
– Mary Oliver.

(thanks for being gracious to me about my gone-time;
i love and appreciate you big)