Tag Archives: fall

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.

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.

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.

Rehearsal Dinner Blessing

For everything there is a season,
a time for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die.
A time to plant and a time to harvest
A time to kill and a time to heal.
A time to tear down and a time to build up
A time to cry and a time to laugh.
A time to grieve and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
A time to search and a time to quit searching.

A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear and a time to mend.
A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate.
A time for war and a time for peace.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

I find it interesting, curious, and playful that the morning we were to drive to Lancaster, PA, to begin celebrating the wedding weekend by hosting the rehearsal dinner, Ecclesiastes 3 and 4 were my scheduled readings. This is from a plan chosen in January, focusing on a different section of the Bible each day.

While reading I wrote down today’s season . . . harvest, healing, building, laughing, dancing, embracing, quitting searching, mending, being quiet, loving, seeking peace.

This is how the day began.

Gradually, adult children convened and loaded various younger siblings into their cars, leaving Steve and me with the youngest to bring up the caravan’s rear, several minutes, or hours, behind. The best decisions made were to send the beverages ahead with my parents to be dropped off at the rehearsal dinner location and to have those involved in the rehearsal riding with siblings.

When all was said and done, Steve and I were checking into the AirBnB and hurriedly changing at 5. Dinner was set to be served at 5:45. In our hurry to arrive on time, we may have turned the wrong way onto a one-way, two lane highway, the lights of a semi truck shining in our eyes.

Did I just turn onto a one-way road?

I DON’T KNOW, DID YOU? WE ARE ON A ONE-WAY ROAD! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!!!

I am waiting for traffic to clear, so that I can turn around.

We sat in the left-turn lane face to face with another car who patiently waited on us. Every day, every moment, is such grace.

We arrived at the Hollinger House intact and greeted our guests who were waiting on this porch ready to begin the festivities. It was a beautiful sight, a beautiful beginning to the weekend.

My morning reading felt long ago when I composed the following to share as a rehearsal dinner blessing . . .

This is a season to harvest the love that was planted in hearts generation upon generation ago. It is a healing time where we acknowledge that though, by all means, all is not well, all is healing. We can rest in that today.

It is a time of building, as a new family is joined and created, built upon this foundation of love. We gather to laugh and dance and live in the moment that is now.

Embracing one another right where we are today, we celebrate with Caleb and Dana that they can quit searching, because they have found the one their soul loves.

This is a time to keep in our hearts, to mend what was torn, and to be quiet about what would divide us. We are hear to love and celebrate in peace.

There is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can. All people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God. (Ecc. 3:12,13)

We spent the rest of the weekend putting these words into practice as we celebrated the long-awaited union of our son and his beloved bride. And it was so very good.

All a gift. All deep, deep grace. Every moment.

Hanging Dresses

They hang from a curtain rod in the laundry room. They have been hanging there for over a week. Left to dry after being carefully washed, they have been dry for days. They have come to  represent a symbolic hanging on to all that happened over wedding weekend.

There is still much to process.

I say this out loud, and my husband asks for specifics. What do you still have to process?

Isn’t all of life a process? Will I ever be finished? I answer lightheartedly, because though I feel the weight of feelings, specific words evade me.

Folding laundry, I look up at the hanging dresses, grateful for what they symbolize. Just as I was clothed for my daughter’s wedding in an outfit carefully curated, so I was for my son’s, in a different way.

My metallic-colored, sheath-style Mother of the Groom dress was a Ross find over the summer. I knew it was the dress, and that by fall it would look even better on me as I tended to healthier eating and exercise habits.

A girl can dream, right?

Jewelry was found at a local consignment shop for under $15. A sparkly $6 scarf from TJ Maxx, a $10 purse from another consignment shop, and free sandals from my closet brought the entire look in at under $75.

I consider this a kindness for a season that found us in the midst of a major life change. When our son proposed to his beautiful wife in 2017, things looked a lot different in our world. Maybe the hanging dresses are continuing to remind me of the faithfulness of God in every change. Especially then.

There is enough.

I wore the black dress to the rehearsal dinner with shoes and a sweater from my closet. It was found, along with a sparkly necklace and silver purse, on a seasonal clearance sale at a consignment shop for $18, total.

I write of costs and consignment shops and looks, because I want to remember. I want to remember that even in seasons of uncertainty there are reasons to celebrate. Maybe especially then.

I want to remember that there is room for creativity and expression and for thinking outside of the box when finances are tight. I do not need to worry about what to wear. I can consider the lilies.

My son and daughter had a beautiful wedding weekend. There is more to share slowly as it unfolds in my heart, and I find more words. I am thankful for those of you who have been with me behind the scenes as life returns to what has never been normal. Part of this return should probably include taking down the dresses and putting them away.

Here is a peek at the wedding day. There is a bit more sparkle to my hair than there was 4 1/2 years ago at my daughter’s wedding. I love it.

 

Veranda View

The rising sun casts light over the mountains, calling last hues of orange to waken. Flecks of green and gold raise their hands to be noticed amidst the predominant brown. Bare branches along the ridge top stab a brilliantly blue sky. Leaves litter the ground, shrugging their way down the trees.

Autumn is heavy upon us.

From my perch outdoors on the third floor veranda of the Natural Bridge Hotel and Conference Center, I hear sounds of voices young and old. Coffee steam rises from the eight ounce hotel lobby lidded cup in my hand.

Couples check out, walking to their cars, coolers and roller bags in hand. Children argue as parents snap at them and each other. It’s a time of transition, and I get to be still a little while longer, drinking coffee, rocking in a chair, writing, before my turn to depart.

As always, time away has been kind. Unexpected, unpredictable, unfamiliar, yet kind, nonetheless. My heart feels the rustling of return. Places I thought had settled comfortably, nudge for attention.

I sit with what is right now. Crisp air, bright sun, chirping birds, laughing child. Rocking, feeling the steady back and forth movement, drinking in the comforting warmth and wake of hot coffee.

Solace.

This moment offers Sabbath for my heart, a heart full. So much is happening behind the scenes rather than front and center. I hold loosely. I hold close.

The more present in reality we are, the more fullness we feel. There is a very thin veil between life and death. ~ Scott Moore

I am feeling the presence, the fullness, the joy of life, the grief of death. All of it. During lulls in the passing traffic, I can hear the leaves hit the ground.

Eight ounces of hotel coffee does not last long. Minutes tick past the hours that remain before I, too, must pack up, roll out, and return. A golden gleam from the lawn below catches my eye. It takes me back to church in childhood, my sister shining her Strawberry Shortcake compact mirror in the pastor’s eyes.

This vintage Strawberry Shortcake makeup compact has Strawberry Shortcake on the cover and has a mirror inside the lid. The compact was originally from the Berry Pretty Face Boutique set and had face cream in it, but it's now empty. You can use it to store makeup, pills, small jewelry, or anything else that will fit inside. The Berry Pretty Face Boutique set came with strawberry scented lip gloss, face cream, and cologne and items from this set are some of the more rare and hard-to-find…

 

Image result for strawberry shortcake compact mirror

The brilliant golden shine is not a golden ball of reflected sunshine but an outdoor ground light remaining on from a time change that has not been adjusted.

Nothing gold can stay. ~ Robert Frost

Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

Stickerless Smile

All day I watched as I Voted posts filled my social media feeds. Friends shared selfies with circle or oval stickers pressed to their clothing. One picture showed Mom, Dad, Son, Daughter with stickers on their noses.

I planned to walk to my polling place and vote, but that did not happen. Morning rain cleared as I headed to the grocery store for much-needed provisions. Returning home I had less than an hour before another commitment that would continue past 7pm when the polls closed.

My daughter graciously unloaded and put away groceries as I drove to vote solo, a change from this year. I did not need any literature and quickly checked in, removing my ID from my wallet. Yearly pleasantries were exchanged with my favorite poll worker, as the man checking me in waited patiently then asked me to state my address.

I took the paper ballot and sat at a table behind a cardboard privacy shield. Looking over the ballot, I inhaled deeply. Voting always reminds me of how not right everything is. I colored the ovals of my choices and walked to the scanner, which was sporadically spitting ballots back for retrys.

It’s been doing that all day.

Waiting for my ballot to scan I noticed that the exit poll worker’s hands were conspicuously empty, and that no one was getting a sticker.

Wait! Are there no stickers?

We’re all out. Someone left to go get more.

Inside my head I heard, Noooo! I really want a sticker! Tears stung my eyes, cluing me to the fact that I was experiencing feelings that were probably not about the sticker. I refrained from repeating the other words springing to mind.

I feel disenfranchised!

That would have been making light of a serious scenario, comparing myself to someone who was actually deprived of the right to vote. Though, in hindsight it feels a completely appropriate initial response, because these days if you vote and don’t get a sticker or post a selfie on social media, did you really vote?

Outside the polling place, I told one of the workers who held an armload of sample ballots, They were out of stickers! How can I prove that I actually voted?

She felt my pain and mentioned that people had been taking selfies in front of the signs.

Which I did.

Returning home, I expressed disappointment to my daughter who offered comfort in the form of suggesting I create an I Voted sign out of M&Ms. Which I did.

I left to fulfill my evening obligation. My husband voted, and daughter accompanied.

They brought me a sticker, which I made into a page in my Art Journal.

I am thankful for thoughtfulness, the ability to vote, laughter, M&Ms, a fun daughter, a conscientious husband, for scraps of paper and cardboard tissue boxes with designs on them and glue.

I am also thankful for a space to share my stories and for people who care to read them.

I am Glad I Took Time to Look at the Leaves

The wedding is over. There is much to process. It was a beautiful, perfect weekend. I do not use that phrase lightly. Those who know me understand this. Nothing is ever perfect, but this event came mighty close.

The time was amazing. The weather was kind. The leaves were glorious.

The morning after returning home I sat in my favorite spot, looking out the window at my favorite tree. Its branches were mostly bare. Only a few leaves were left clinging to the ends of its limbs.

It inspired this art journal page and poem.

I am glad I took time to look at the leaves
While their glorious color was still on the trees

Before they began the descent to the ground
To be raked up and piled up and blown all around.

I know it’s the season, they never can stay
They all end up down at the end of the day

They don’t wait for me to have things all lined up
To sit with the perfect drink in my cup

They fall when they’re ready, when their time is here
Seasons and cycles, year after year

And I get to watch and see what they do
From green to orange to brilliantly blue

The scene out the window, it changes each day
As more sky appears and the leaves go away

So I’m glad I took time to look at the leaves
While their glorious color was still on the trees.

Bonus Feature

For all of my kind, faithful readers, here is a bonus art journal page created last year on a piece of paper. I thought I might frame it, didn’t.

One of the reasons I bought myself a bound journal is because I have so many single pages falling out of books and piles everywhere, and I thought it would be fun to have them all collected in one space.

I taped it opposite today’s page in my art journal. That way I can take it out if I ever decide to do something else with it.

I have to say, I really love the way this looks together. I had no idea where I would be this year when I played with collage last fall. It is all just casting it on the waters and seeing what returns.

Happy casting!

Harvest

Those who plant in tears will harvest with shouts of joy. They weep as they go to plant their seed, but they sing as they return with the harvest. Psalm 126:5,6

Day 1. Early Autumn

Day 31. Harvest

 

I love how this project began and ended with fall-themed scenes.

While the official month of creating is over, by no means am I finished creating. It has been such a fun joy to prioritize making art each day and sharing it with all of you. I have been humbled by your feedback and blessed by your encouragement.

I step into November with deep gratitude and much reflection. Stay tuned to see what’s up next!