Mondayest Monday

I look up to a Monday moonrise after stepping outside for a break from choir parent assistant duties. Walking a winding path to the hilltop, I stop and survey my surroundings. The view is breathtaking, calming, peaceful. I feel grateful for the gift of space and beauty.

This Monday was particularly challenging from the start; one of those days that feels as if there is no chance for recovery after the initial stumble into it. Thin margins equal no margin. Each bit of today’s margin was swallowed by the previous thing or the next thing, leaving very little space to actually be in the present thing.

The moonrise calls me back to what is now, not what was or what is coming later, because there is still more left in the day. There are still at least two more things that will go wrong. I do not know this, yet.

Returning to finish out rehearsal, I am faced with more that is unexpected, and at this point try to just lean into it. I am glad to be able to work tonight and not be home with a sick child or two. I am thankful that in the midst of the many challenges there is health.

I thought outside of the box today. After choir, while shopping for black flats for my chorister, I realized my bank card was in the hands of another who had run an earlier errand. Rather than following my usual defeatist mentality and leave the store once I realized this, I chose to continue to shop with my child for the shoes and then order them online to pick up tomorrow.

It worked.

In the midst of all that was hard and all that felt discouraging, at the end of the day there were filled water jugs, ordered tights and shoes, eggs, milk, and bagels in the refrigerator, and expanders in a different child’s mouth, preparing for a journey with braces. There was a mug of hot tea.

Also, this song which seemed fitting for this Mondayest Monday.

Pop-Up Goodness

Looking ahead to this week, I did not anticipate that it would end with pop-up art journaling goodness.

The Intention Day Retreat, scheduled in the early fall, has been planned for weeks. Several other events have come and gone, and there is a final day of art journaling at the end of December. (If you are a word of the year kind of person, check it out.)

When the request for a Friday morning session came through, I was more than happy to schedule. The result was a rich time of creating and sharing. I felt thankful for the unexpected opportunity to share what I love with new participants.

Thank you to those who showed up today. For those who have considered showing up to art journal with me, this is your invitation. It is easy to reach out and schedule your own event with friends on a day of your choosing.

For now, I settle into bed at the end of a good, full day, with visions of tomorrow dancing in my head.

Such a gift. I am thankful.

Three Dimes, Three Words, plus One More

Sometimes to look up, you have to look back. It is that way today. I have to look back to yesterday to understand where I am in the moment and to hold confidence in what is to come.

This is not easy.

Yesterday was hard.

As I walked through it, I found three dimes in three separate locations. If you know my story with the dimes, then you know the meaning. Short version, it is how I am reminded that God sees me and will provide for all of the needs.

So finding three separate dimes throughout the day was especially meaningful.

There were also words.

Three different voices, each wise, each with a unique perspective, spoke truth and kindness to my heart. Via text, in person, and through email, I felt seen by sisters who care.

In my pocket on the way to a conversation was a fourth dime preparing me to believe that God was with me in that space, also.

It was hard. These days there is always one more thing that feels as if it will be the one that breaks me past the point of all repair. But it didn’t and it doesn’t. I should have broken beyond repair long ago, but I am still here. Changed, but still here.

Today a voice from yesterday met me with lunch and conversation and affirmation and dreams, with hope in her eyes. She listened and heard and saw me and spoke truth.

There is freedom in being seen and loved in the middle of the mess. Of knowing it’s not all on me, in spite of what I may think or feel.

To look up over lunch carried into the studio and meet eyes that see is a sweet gift.

It is what bolsters me on to keep going and gives me the courage to engage.

Morning Light

It sit at the bottom of this day and look up.

It feels hard.

I read difficult emails, engage painful places in my own story, anticipate hard conversations.

Unknown.

Opening to joy lets sorrow in, also.

Grief.

Sunday morning I took a walk, earbuds in, playlist on shuffle.

Josh Garrels Morning Light began to play.

Randomly.

It’s gonna be alright
Turn around and let back in the light
And joy will come
Like a birdie in the morning sun
And all will be made well
Once again

Josh Garrels, Morning Light

I turned around to this view.

It is what I hold as I look up today.

I choose to turn towards the light.

Grateful for the reminder of the joy to come.

Exercising the Right

I exit the house a little after noon, stepping into glorious fall sunshine. I pass a friend with her two littles, returning from the Lucy F. Simms Continuing Education Center, our polling place. The older rides his glider bike expertly while the younger kicks his legs in the stroller. We exchange brief greetings and continue our separate ways.

Seeing neighbors out and about going to and from the polls is a part that I love about election day.

I follow a series of right and left turns, passing two little boys playing in their yard. They look at me quizzically. I smile and cross the street where a tree with burnt orange and brown leaves overhangs the sidewalk. I make a mental note to take a picture on the way back.

A final left leads me to the parking lot lined with polling signs. Turning into it, I follow the sidewalk to where the volunteers pass sample ballots and chat with their peers. A man steps forward to offer a guide while the others look at me and keep talking. It feels strange. I take the guide and continue walking.

Walking towards the polling place is a part that I dislike about election day.

As I approach the entrance an older man and his adult son exit. The older man’s foot steps halfway off of the sidewalk where it turns at an angle, and he falls to the ground. Immediately everyone stops what they are doing to offer assistance. The slow fall into the grass seemed more embarrassing than painful to him, though I am sure he will feel the bruising. He rises quickly on his own and refuses the offer of a call for help.

People coming together in spite of their differences to help another hurting human is a part that I like about election day.

Grateful to have pocketed my driver’s license before leaving the house, I state my name and address and show my photo when asked. Familiar faces, aged a little more since last year, check me in, hand over a ballot, and direct me to the voting tables.

Seeing the friendly faces of the poll workers each year is something that I like about election day.

How far we have come since the early days of voting in a booth with a curtain around it!

Marking the ballot is a part that is hard for me on election day.

It always reminds me that politics is messy. It is truly an exercise of discipline and will for me to mark the ballot and make movement from table to scanner, which I do. This year the lady monitoring it has stickers. Unlike last year, I am early enough to get one. We laugh about that while waiting for my ballot to scan. It has to be re-inserted.

Waiting for my vote to count is a part that is hard for me on election day. Laughing with the lady at the scanner makes it easier.

I turn to exit through large glass doors that look as if they should slide open. My mind thinks, This isn’t the grocery store! My body stops awkwardly and waits. I do not know how to work these doors, and unlike years past, there is no sign to tell me.

Awkwardly not knowing what to do in any situation is something that is hard for me always! Election day just intensifies the shame.

I figure out which door to push, aided by the kind lady holding stickers, and exit the side of the building. Exhaling, I realize I have been holding my breath. I take air deep into my lungs and begin the walk home.

That is when I realize that I am wearing a red shirt today and that red and blue are colors that hold meaning on election day. The odd looks and vibes I sensed while walking in begin to make sense. Why only one person offered me a sample ballot feels more clear. Usually I am peppered with pamphlets.

Alas, my choice of color today is not due to a political leaning or subconscious voting clue or statement. It is out of necessity that later this evening is a choir event where parent assistants are asked to wear SVCC colors of red, white, and black.

Making sense of something that feels off to me is something I like any time!

The walk back feels lighter, and I stop under the overhanging tree branches and look up to take a selfie documenting the moment. The effect is not quite what I had in mind, but, satisfied with my sticker and thankful for all of the ways I have exercised today, I return home.

Calico Contentment

Oh to be as Zephyr, curled up, resting in the mess, minding her own business.

Jumping up to name her needs with a meow when seized by hunger or thirst.

Patiently waiting by the front or back door, eyes on the nearest human, signaling her desire to go outside.

Welcoming to all who pass, yet holding firm boundaries as to what she will and will not tolerate from them.

Taking off for wherever she goes when she wants to go there and returning when she is ready.

Creating a nest and place to rest in the shade of the porch when the door she wants to go through is closed.

Coming out to meet her people when they return, seizing her moment.

Continuing on with her daily routine, content to be as she is even when surrounded by all she is not.

Respite Morning

Mist rising over water, the smell of coffee filling the air

Eyes red from a night of crying followed by too many episodes of Gossip Girl into the wee hours of the morning

It’s an open heart that’s vulnerable to the deepest wound.

XOXO, Gossip Girl

GG, S3, E15

I rise. Look up. Greet a new day.

Putting down the phone that threatens to consume it, I wrap my robe tighter, gather Bible and journal, and walk downstairs.

Coffee pours into my mug as sunlight pours across the water, illuminating shoreline trees in brilliant autumn hues.

Thick quiet cut only by hum of refrigerator or rumble of passing car engulfs me.

I settle body and brain onto the couch and savor the silence.

Grateful for rest in the storm, space to recharge and renew, time to step back from the fray, I savor each angle of sunlight and measure of mist as it rises to great a new day.

Moving Forward

Jesus,

Thank you for helping me hold fast and move forward in the trenches of parenting. I want easier, different circumstances, but these are the ones I have been given. You know the fear in my heart, places themselves young. Be with my children who have been harmed and are finding their way. Please bring your healing to their hearts. Guide us. Jesus, please.

Journal, 10/29/19

I stare straight ahead through the Prius windshield. Brilliant fall colors meet my gaze. En route to the lake with a friend for a respite scheduled months out, little did I know what this timing would mean.

My prayer, journaled earlier in the week, is answered in a way unexpected and uncomfortable. It comes in the form of a hard conversation over lunch just hours before this departure.

I welcome these moments. I dread these moments. They need to happen more often. It has not been safe for my children.

I cannot adequately describe the level of grief that rises in the aftermath. I place my food, uneaten, in a to go box and slide it across the table to the one with an appetite.

How does one look up from the wreckage and meet the gaze of the walking wounded?

Shell-shock.

That’s how it feels. A small taste of what my child felt, I realize. I am the adult, at least on the outside. I hold the space as tears spill from my eyes.

It is not lost on me that hours earlier, I wrote of looking up with gratitude and hopefulness. How does one find gratitude and hope in this?

Today’s gratitude is for an adult child willing to sit across from us and name their truth about growing up in our home. It is for increasing ability and skill to be in the space together and to hold hope for change. It is belief in restoration healing from locust-eaten years.

And it is gratitude for space away to tend to the young places in my own heart and hope that she, too, will be heard.

Look Up

There is a squirrel’s nest high in the tree. I see it now that leaves have begun to fall and am reminded of Miss Suzy, one of my favorite childhood books. A copy sits on a shelf in the living room, and I take it down to remember.

Miss Suzy was a little gray squirrel who lived all by herself in the tip. tip, top of a tall oak tree. She liked to cook, she liked to clean, and she liked to sing while she worked. . .

Miss Suzy by Miriam Young

I loved Miss Suzy’s cozy house and the way she sang as she baked and tidied up. I love the way she nested and how she cleaned and straightened the dollhouse in the attic when she was run out of her treetop home by a band of red squirrels. I love how she found the toy soldiers and took care of them like a mother and how she finally was able to tell them her story, inspiring them to take action on her behalf.

Late that night the captain woke his men and gave them their orders. There were only five of them, but they were very brave, and their hearts were full of love. After all, Miss Suzy had cared for them all winter.

Miss Suzy by Miriam Young

This look up at a squirrel’s nest took my heart to a young place. It found something in a dark corner of it that I had forgotten was there. Nurture.

November is traditionally a month to give thanks, a practice that would be wise to employ year-round. This month I hope to look up and around at the goodness that surrounds me, growing in gratitude and contentment for these beautiful gifts.

It is a bit of a bind that we live in, the marriage of goodness and grief. There is no one ideal situation, and many have been led astray and even harmed with the promise of such. If only. . .thens rarely pan out. What we have is a present mingling of both.

I want to believe that I live out of my ideal self always, yet, sadly I don’t. If I’m honest it’s less-than-ideal. Surrounded by much goodness I focus on the bad, the hard, the grief.

And there is a place for that. There is always a place for lament. For honesty. For things to be not okay. I am not talking about it could be worse or any category that begins with the words at least.

I am talking about where I find myself this season. I need to keep looking up.

For me that means continuing to write on the blog rather than focusing on all that I didn’t write.

With that focus, I plan to write a little each day about whatever comes. I trust that there will be moments of looking up in gratitude for where I am and hopefulness for where I am going.

Life is a beautifully messy journey, and I don’t want to miss mine.

Miss Suzy had to work hard to make her old home as neat and cozy as it had been before, but she didn’t mind. She made a new moss carpet and a new broom and gathered fresh acorns for cups and caught two fireflies for her lamps. At last she had everything in order.

That night, when she went to bed, she was very tired. But she looked through the branches and she could see a million stars. The wind blew gently and rocked the tree like a cradle. It was very peaceful, and Miss Suzy was happy once more.

Miss Suzy by Miriam Young, ending.

Beauty from the Broken

The package arrived in my mailbox from Texas, courtesy of a friend who attended Brave Day, 2019, and knew that I would appreciate this gift. Tucked inside was a baggie filled with delicious truffles.

I was at the first Brave On event in 2017. It was a kind time of connecting with old friends, making new friends, and meeting virtual friends in person. I wrote about that weekend here. Subsequent years have not worked for me to attend, and I felt the missing of this one deeply.

Seeing a floral package filled my heart with excitement that quickly turned to apprehension when I lifted it from the mailbox, felt a shifting around in the envelope, and heard a clinking noise. Something inside was not where it was supposed to be, a broken-bone sensation, mail-style.

I tried to guess what it was.

Opening the package, I noticed bubble wrap that had shifted. Four loose pieces spilled out onto my bed followed by a bit of dust. Realizing it was the broken handle of a Brave On mug filled my heart with disappointment.

Another feeling sidled up ~ a familiar one. Hope. Possibility followed. Not wanting to give up easily, the wheels in my head began to turn.

Brush-on Gorilla Glue entered the scene. I carefully glued handle pieces together, resting them on my bathroom counter to dry. I re-attached the mended handle to the mug.

It dried nicely but didn’t look fabulous. The initial stages of repair never do. Chipped out pieces had turned to dust, unable to be salvaged. I needed a reinforcement. A covering of some sort.

Enter the beauty of technology and YouTube. A search for mug handle wrap revealed a tutorial using paracord. After a visit to Michael’s to pick some up, I watched this video to learn how to wrap the handle. I also learned to adjust YouTube videos to .25 speed to follow steps in slow motion.

I love the end result!

Friends, this is what I do. I help people take the broken parts of their story and examine them closely. Together we piece bits together, taking as much time as needed to assemble. Then we thoughtfully reimagine , recover, and reframe. The end result is a deep, unique, one-of-a-kind beauty.

Just like my new favorite mug.