Tell Me Something Good

When life rattles my timbers and storms down hurting so hard
that my peace gets swallowed up in mudslides of un-helpful thinking,
it’s become just shy of muscle memory,  this practice,
that throws open the windows of my heart
and lets the bad air out.

It started years ago while driving down the road with my husband,
the silence between us thick with a heavy worry.
I squeezed hard on the wheel and breathed aloud “tell me something good.”
He laughed and offered something – I don’t remember what.
Then I dug in and hurled into the space another something true – something balm to my heart.
Out louder – back and forth – we lobbed truth until the atmosphere
shifted and our thoughts settled into a clearwater place.

It became a thing,
sprung up maybe from a practice I’d been cultivating
of having a sit with God over whatever was brewing in my brain.
I’d get quiet,  drop down to that still place inside,  and begin to write out
whatever bubbled up from the deep.
Sometimes what landed on the page felt like gift and gold;
going back over the pages years later still feels like superfood for my soul.

So I have a big love for this practice.
Most of what I write comes from this place.
(big distinction between this rivery process and toxic positivity,
which feels like death
and doesn’t seem to grow a thing.
Like malnourished dirt.)

 Been growing up in my garden these past years
and feels ripe and ready to harvest.
I want to tell you something good,
to splash hope and healing all over bites of art soaked in love
and send them straight to the heart of you
where coals of hope may need breeze to flow brisk across the embers
until you’re standing up taller inside yourself,
and feeling more seen,  more included,
more brave in your breathing
for the deepest and dearest that you dare to dream.

Oh how I want to acknowledge you,
to tap into the big and seeing Love that sings over you sweet
and let it pass through my paints and pens and poetry,
then pass you the love-note
across the great big wide.
To let it land in your box like a gift from your future
calling back that the view from up ahead
is something that you’re gonna want to see
so lean into the wind
and hold tight to
the Love –
that you’re held,
and valued
and seen.

To hold the door for you to feel it,  bones and breath,
that this Love is looking and listening
to the faintest thought and thump of your heart;
that there’s no indifference to your place and pain.
To pass a note of warm embrace
and to hold space for the journey that is exactly and only yours.
With love and celebration.

(happy whisper)
Tell Me Something Good
– also the title of my book in the works
and looks to be available by Christmas.

“First I would write for you a poem
to be shouted into the teeth of a strong wind.”
– Carl Sandburg

I’m offering up these Tell Me Something Good bundles in my etsy shop,
and in a giveaway this week;
leave a comment and you’re in the hat:)
I’ll be sending a bundle out to Rebecca this week from last post’s drawing – geesh sorry it’s taken so long!

Always thanks  for coming around and acknowledging.
I appreciate your presence here.

 

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

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

Of sinners, saints and seagulls…..

(Gosh,  I almost put out a cold tray of leftovers for you here again today
because I’m scared silly to wrangle free the words stuck inside.
But here goes.
Because a bad beginning is better than no beginning at all)

My life is a small one,
as lives here are generally measured.
My jobs have been many and unsubstantial and not even the measuring kind.
No fancy credentials.  No letters after my name.
My time here on earth unimpressive,
a barely glance-worthy resume,
if I had a resume.  Which I don’t.
If I were to muster one up,  it would be underwhelming.

And yet mine is hardly a wasted life.
In fact I like my weird little journey,
even when I trip over messages that I’m such an underachiever
that my time here barely registers on the value-meter.
But I’ll wrap back around to that later in this series.
I think I’m stalling:)

What I really want to start tugging my words loose about
is my Christianity.

There.  I said it.
Did your skin crawl just a little?
I understand the shudder.
Because we generally freak people out.
Christians even unhinge each other
unless we’re cut from the exact same strip of cloth
and sewed up tight and exactly like the next.
Which nobody is.
So it can be prickly business,
which is tragic since I think God is the least prickly being ever.

A few months back I brushed my words light across the story of my heart’s dance with God
and it was life to me to pour it onto paper.
Those were the easy pages.  The sweet beginnings and where I’ve landed.
I want to go exploring through the come-to-Jesus years,
the messy in between
because I’ve grown more curious about this thing called “Christian,”
how it’s tossed around and flashed and fought over like scraps flung to seagulls.

“How can you call yourself a Christian and……..”
Many of my people don’t even use the word anymore.
Somehow it’s come to name a hurtful thing.
I want to go exploring.  To tell my truth.  And maybe discover healing along the way.
Because healing is only ever what I’ve always wanted to offer
and I’m one of them,
odd though my flavor may be:)

So come along or wait this one out.
I’ll be back for the next however-many weeks digging up old stories,
looking for buried treasure and sharing it with you here.
With all the love I’ve got.

“As long as we continue to live as if we are what we do,  what we have,
and what other people think about us,
we will remain filled with judgments,  opinions,  evaluations,
and condemnations.
We will remain addicted to putting people and things
in their ‘right’ place.”
– Henry Nouwen

beauty to believe in….

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I’ve been a little weary with swelter
so I picked a little bouquet  from my archives,
with hope that maybe sharing will helps stir our strength to singing.

I believe in seeds and sanctuary,
hot baths and cool breeze,
in seasons and stories
and music and farming
and angels and acorns
and options and dreams.

In starshine and moonglow
and coffee and compost
and Christmastime magic
and moms and dads
and the reckless mercy of a loving God.

I believe in pruning and dancing,
in vineyards and wine,
in fresh plenty grace
even when it feels like I’m sucking it
through a tiny thin straw
and in slowing down and losing the rush
(which seems to stretch the straw wide again)

I believe in real hope,
that it’s just about stronger than anything
and that false hope is strong,  too,
but without the power to really change things.
I believe in desert
and in beauty
…that it isn’t the same as pretty.

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I believe we’re born with our art inside us,
that we come alive as we let it out

and that resting is stronger than striving,
that clotheslines make life smell better
and that there is truth that is brighter than day.

I believe in twinkle lights and naps
and rainy day rhythm,
in loving wildlife and killing mosquitoes
and that praise springs in vivid color and motion
from every growing thing,
whirling and twirling with wild affection
for a creator who is indescribably good.

I believe in the smell of baby skin and puppy breath,
of fresh turned soil and pie in the oven,
that there is a peace that can override circumstances,
a love that never fails,
and that impossibles happen often
and without fanfare.

And in you,  dearheart,
that we’ll be okay
and thrive together
no matter whatever.

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“Most people don’t know there are angels
whose only job
is to make sure you don’t get too comfortable
and fall asleep and miss your life.”

-Brian Andreas