Category Archives: writing

Mindfulness on a Monday

Yes, I realize this is Tuesday.

It’s hard to be mindful on a Monday, that day of all days beginning the work week. No one enjoys rising early ~ at least I don’t~ and Monday is my early day. I pay for lack of preparedness by the scramble.

Most Mondays are filled up with activity. Work. school drop-off and pick-up, appointments, errands, choir, the day rolls from activity to activity, my mind racing ahead from one moment to the next.

Settling into work at my studio after getting everyone situated at school, I’m thwarted by a laptop that didn’t make it into the work bag and settle in to an hour of tasks that don’t require technology before leaving to finish those at my dining room table.

My unexpected return home disrupts the dog, who now needs his walk. There are library books to return, so I leash him, stuffing dog waste bags into my cardigan pocket.

I leave the phone behind intentionally, stepping out into the brilliant blue of fall. Can I inhabit this moment without rushing it? That is my question.

Focusing on the crunch of leaves underfoot and the sound of heavy machinery working on downtown construction finds me able to answer, Yes! Yes, I can!

I soar in the moment before being jerked to a halt by a dog bracing himself to do his business ~ very conspicously~ on a downtown sidewalk.

Sometimes inhabiting the moment literally stinks.

Balancing the library book bag on my shoulder, removing a cluster of green bags from sweater pocket and clumsily trying to tear off just one, squatting down to pick up the mess while holding the leash securely finds me wobbling in my ankle boots.

Looking back over my shoulder at the elderly man in his car, parked facing the sidewalk with driver’s side window down, I laugh, I hope you are enjoying this free morning show! We smile at each other as I stand and tie off the green bag. He nods. I continue walking towards the library to deposit the books.

Heading home, I reel my mind back from its frantic race ahead. There is still time left in the brilliant blue as I walk in the present.

My fitness tracker notes a pace that is slow, refusing to close its exercise ring as quickly as I would like.

I return home with an hour to spend before moving into the appointments, errands, school pick-up, choir, and evening family management part of the day. I anchor to a spot at the dining room table, open my laptop, and work.

The moments move on, and I choose to engage them with curiosity. When I am being mindful I am like a blank page hoping to be filled with words as I wait for an appointment to end.

Clickety-Clickety-Clickety

My mind wanders while I walk the dog. Eloquent words string together in my head. There is so much to say, I just need time to gather the thoughts.

Swirling ideas settle with each step taken. I land in the present, the clicking of dog toes on the sidewalk as anchor. Clickety-clickety-clickety. Dewey knows only present, and presently we are walking.

I learn more of my fall routine each day, having not yet claimed it fully. Maybe by actual fall I will know.

One thing at a time. Day by day. Step by step. Clickety-clickety-clickety. Only the present. Presently I sit on my friend’s porch writing.

The rhythm of days and weeks comes into focus. Walking the dog. Writing on the porch. Setting intentions. Following through.

I fight for words on this blog, in this space. There are other places I write, but this is my first love. My fingers strike the keyboard. Clickety-clickety-clickety. My rhythm is not as steady as the dog’s toes on the sidewalk. I press on.

I think to the tiny leaf on the sidewalk interrupting my morning walk. Seizing the moment I stop the dog and snap it, hoping for inspiration, trusting it to come.

I feel nothing profound. No wise words on change or seasons or fall schedules, only the ambiguity of not knowing.

And it’s okay. It has to be. In this moment it is okay for me not to know the final schedule, the outcome. I just need to be present to the clickety-clickety-clickety of now and anchor into the moment I have been given here on the porch.

Lunches on the Atlantic

I’m missing our lunches on the Atlantic
Finding just the right parking place
Toting portable chairs we might not use
Carrying small coolers filled with good things to eat

I’m missing our lunches on the Atlantic
Discussing the morning and all that transpired
As we listened, wrote, reflected, and shared
And risked reading stories of grief and shame

I’m missing our lunches on the Atlantic
Not getting too sandy, because benches were found
Feeling the hot sun baking us warmly
While watching the clock so as not to be late

I’m missing our lunches on the Atlantic
Moments that felt so natural and free
Sister-hearts connecting in liminal space
Knowing something inside us is being transformed

I’m missing our lunches on the Atlantic
Some sacred space you don’t realize til late
Like benches and small coolers joining together
Inviting communion over lunches on the Atlantic

Which I am missing.




Overgrown

Summer flourishes with overgrown flowerbeds. Weeds crowd corners daring to be pulled.

Black-eyed Susans, Coneflowers, and Lamb’s ears compete for space among the unwanted invaders. Climbing the steps to the porch, I succumb to feelings of hopelessness. Why bother?

Remind me next summer when I think hanging baskets are a good idea, that they are really not. I tell my husband and my youngest daughter. I know one of them will remember. The porch is not my happy place right now. Dry hanging baskets only accentuate that fact.

No longer the flower lady, I am the lady with the overgrown house on the corner. Everything feels a mess, both inside and out, reminding me that when one area flourishes, another often suffers. This year it is the landscaping. The gardens. The unfinished porch.

Still the flowers fight forward. They open and bloom and stand their ground. One day I decide to set a fifteen minute timer in twilight’s glow and pull weeds. A stunning before and after rewards my effort. Never mind the thistles and thorns lurking around the corner.

I choose to celebrate the beauty that is in front of me.

Shattered

An oval platter perches in the drainer, precariously balanced. I notice the carefully arranged pile of clean dishes, resting just so by the one who managed to fit every washed and rinsed piece together like a tower of Jenga blocks.

I lean over the pile to open the cupboard above, the one that holds medicines, vitamins, and the thermometer. My arm bumps the platter which loses its balance on the top of the stack and crashes to the floor, breaking into pieces.

The noise itself is enough to evoke strong response. A child stands near, waiting for me to retrieve cold medicine. I swallow back words rising to the surface, past my chest, into my throat, longing to escape my lips in a fury of noise.

Stand back. A dish just broke. Are you hurt? Watch out for the pieces.

I take care of the medicine and send her upstairs to get ready for bed as I gather the shatter.

I have two other identical platters, left over from days when I was snatching replacements up on Ebay. I am not sad that it is broken as much as I am annoyed that I have to clean the mess.

I want to blame someone for this, for the fact that something fell unexpectedly and broke, even though it was the result of imbalance and gravity. I turn on myself in a familiar pattern. I could have emptied the tower of dishes from the drainer before reaching over to get cold medicine for a child. Does it matter?

There is no fault.

It’s not about the falling or breaking or blaming. It is about what stirs inside. Always the stirring.

Splintered

Going backwards to find myself
Picking up the pieces
Fragments like the broken platter on the kitchen floor.

The large shards are easy to see, to gather
I collect them in a stack and set them aside to glue later
Where are the splinters?

Those are the bits that will surprise out of nowhere
In the middle of the night
Seemingly invisible, yet sharp
Piercing
Unseen by the eye but felt by the skin when inadvertently stepped upon

I trust a well-placed light to illumine the space
Revealing the slivers before they can harm
I’m finding the pieces to put back together

But should one go missing and enter the skin
A light can illumine the bit of the edge
To pull out with tweezers before it goes deep

Large parts of the story
collected in files
In my mind, in my journals, in my heart
They are gathered, assembled
While the splinters remain scattered
Waiting their turn to be collected, too
Just in a different way
Often piercing under the skin
Surfacing
Seen by the light of love
Tended by kindess
To be put back together
Revealing a brand new purpose.


Creating beauty.

Mama Duck

She keeps me grounded while faithfully tending her eggs. At last count there were four. Now she is consistently present when I pass by. There may be more. She keeps them hidden.

She offers a destination. I’m going to check on the duck. There is reason to head out for a walk and a reminder that it is enough to do small tasks faithfully.

She sits, rotating on her nest, building it up around her. Sometimes I see a beak, others a tail. Her eye looks out, feathers expand defensively. Small movements grow new things.

With nowhere else to be, she rests, trusting the process going on beneath her. I remember to trust my process, too.

I love mama duck. My kids laugh. I promise them I will not write about her compulsively. Only a little.

So that is what I do this first day of April, April Fools Day. I write about mama duck, because though there are many other things to say, I am tired and my words are few.

I climb onto my nest and sit, waiting, thankful for the gift of tea at a busy day’s end. I am grateful that my ducklings are growing up and that this April Fool’s Day has been kind.

First Day of Spring

This first day of spring brings a brand new thing
A push towards the light
Movement

A walk that is brisk, a sky that is crisp
Steps taken by faith
Courage

A change in some limiting past beliefs
A facing of fear
Growing

Not knowing the outcome, still pressing on
Trusting the process
Patience

Holding the truth that this labor is hard
Yet laboring on
Birthing

Whatever happens this first day of spring
Held close to this heart
Soaring


Love in a Cup of Pens

On an ideal morning I rise early, gather my Bible, devotional book, and prayer journal and head for a quiet space to read, think, and reflect. My favorite destination, the TV room couch. The trick lies in rising early enough to get there before it is taken over by a child or pet.

Shuffling out of bed, pouring coffee, hunkering down, I begin my morning reading routine. Sitting across from me is my love, doing his own thing. We are together in the early morning silence. On an ideal morning.

I wonder what it is like from his perspective. I imagine it is not ideal to be interrupted by conversation surrounding the random thoughts that pop into my head. It might not be easy to have me hunker down to begin journaling only to discover I have no pen, a common occurrence. (The need for tissues is another.)

He is always kind and patient with my interruptions and random thoughts.

One morning I felt overwhelmingly loved as I plopped down in my usual space and discovered a full cup of pens waiting for me on the end table. It was such a kind, generous act. I was seen and cared for, and I was grateful.

I have fallen off of my early-morning TV room wagon and cannot seem to climb my way back on. It has been weeks since sitting in my favorite space, and most mornings my mind shifts into overdrive as soon as my eyes open. I think of all the things all at once.

Then I turn off my alarm and fall back asleep.

The pen cup came to mind today. I walked into the TV room to see if it was where I had left it and if there were any pens remaining. Yes, it was, and yes, there were (three of them!).

Maybe I will put my early- morning book stack back in the basket under the coffee table next to the cup of pens. Maybe I will try to rise early, once again, and inhabit that quiet space with my coffee and best friend.

Maybe it is okay to push the reset switch on my early mornings and start over again, cheered on by a sunny cup of pens. Where are you feeling the nudge to push reset, these days, Dear Reader?

March Snow

March snow evokes memories
Of a 22 year old woman
Waking to a heap of it on the back deck of her two-story apartment

Look at this!

Her husband excitedly calls to her
in the early morning hours
Snow is not expected, this third day of March

I think my water just broke!

She is not sure, though it is her second pregnancy
Standing in the small living room
Water running down her leg, she hopes that is what it is

The baby is coming today!

Unesxpected
Birth is not on the radar, yet
This is early for her, for them

Get the midwife!

Chains on tires
Driving through deep snow through back country roads
The Mennonite midwife is retrieved

I’m glad we planned this at home!

She hurries up and waits
The day is long
Baby two is full of surprises

It’s a boy!

Birthed into her room
5:30 in the evening
Sisters and husband present to help

What’s wrong with him!

Skinny arms and legs
Lusty cries, annoyed at being disturbed from warm slumber
All she can see is that he is too small

Nothing is wrong!

This is normal
Seven pounds four ounces is a good size for a newborn
Two pounds smaller than her firstborn seems tiny to her

He is perfect!

She dresses him in a terrycloth sleeper
He swims in it
So small

Welcome, Baby Boy!

Hunkering down for the night
Mother and baby snuggle together
Beginning a new chapter of life.

Water and Manna

Yesterday I woke with overwhelm and anxiety. Some of it stemmed from the eight kid factor, a common theme in my story. Other was from an over-responsible, irrational carrying of the weight of the world, not mine to bear.

Naming the feelings to the one lying next to me and releasing what was not mine to carry back to the one who holds the world in his hands helped. I still felt grief. Sometimes there is just sadness over all that is broken, and I weep.

Reading Exodus 16 and 17 brought me to water from a rock and manna from heaven. God’s people were being led the long way through the wilderness to prepare them to enter the promised land. This journey brought supernatural provision.

I was reminded of daily sustenance provided to me, physically, spiritually, emotionally as I walk with others (any myself) the long way through the wilderness. I felt gratitude and confidence to move forward in the day.

That feeling lasted all of an hour, before reality struck in the form of unexpected bills and adult responsibilities. Things that I am responsible for.

Fear rose in my core and erupted in the form of anger. I lashed out in frustration over all that feels too muchyet continues. Gratitude fell away replaced by entitlement and expectation. Confidence gave way to doubt and insecurity.

It felt unfair to be losing my grounding, even as others depended on me for theirs. I had an appointment to keep, a visit to make, kids to pick up from school, volunteer responsibilities, more work to do.

I did the next thing, because someone needed me to. This found me in a waiting room without any of my usual comforts. I had my art journal in a tote bag but no books to read or markers to draw with or writing instruments to use.

Nearby was a basket of books. I pulled out Morning and Evening by Charles H. Spurgeon and out of curiosity opened to February 4, morning. Would God meet me here? In stunned silence I read this.

On a coffee table covered with magazines was a coloring book and package of Crayola Twistable crayons. Picking up the crayons I took out my art journal and began drawing water from a rock and manna from heaven. I focused on this quote,

He has opened the rock to supply thee, and fed thee with manna that came down from heaven.

It was such grace to be reminded of daily provision, to feel seen, and to create. I felt a settling in my soul and a rest in my spirit.

Water and manna.