Tuesday, January 29, 2013

In which I visit my sixteen year old self

I see her there, sitting in the car, looking at the sky. She is sixteen, hair forced in a dozen directions, left ear lobe studded with silver, looking sulky. Really, she just has that kind of resting face. Among other things, she inherited her grandmother's jowls and sometimes they can weigh a face down. 

The tape in the cassette deck plays The Church. M gave her that tape. He made it for her during their very brief going out experience. She never understood why he liked her but he made her mix tapes from his monstrous CD collection and she kept those tapes infinitely longer than their fling ever lasted. He wasn't the only one that made her mix tapes. She had a box full of them, all crafted by boys who had liked her. The tapes were still there. The boys were not. Music has a tendency to do that. Last.

She gets out of the powder blue station wagon, the car she learned to drive in, the one that she could parallel park like a boss. Her mom taught her how to do that fifteen minutes before the driving test and, to this day, it is the one driving skill at which she truly excels. She's proud of that. She should be embarrassed to drive this family truckster around but she isn't. It's her family's car, their only car, and she is thrilled at the moments of freedom it buys her. Driving that car, windows down, music playing...she is catapulted forward in time. She feels wizened. Mature. In control.

She won't smoke inside the car, though. She doesn't want to risk getting found out. But even more, she fears the disappoint it would bring if her parents ever found out. She doesn't want them to think she was one of those kind of girls. The ones that spend the five minutes between classes in the school courtyard with all of the other burnouts. No. She wasn't like that at all. She wasn't a real smoker. She only smoked in secret. Or when walking around The Central West End. Or at Denny's. Until her neighbor happened to come in and see her. She always hoped that maybe he didn't recognize her. And she really hoped, more than anything, that he didn't tell her parents about it.

She pulls out a Camel Light and her Bic lighter. They are hidden in that zippered pocket in purses that are made to conceal feminine products. She keeps cigarettes and a lighter alongside her tampons. Her mom would never look there, right? 

She never meant to actually like smoking, it kind of just happened, and her favorite part is the smell of a cigarette when it is first lit. This smoking alone makes her feel older, too. She is very deliberate in the way she inhales and exhales and it becomes a calming ritual, a breathing in and out. I want to tap her on the shoulder and remind her that she is smoking, not doing asanas. 

As she inhales she thinks back to the days when she dated W. He smoked Marlboro Lights, like his mother, and so they shared packs of cigarettes. The freedom with which he lit up in his bedroom always felt both exhilarating and monstrous. Did his mom know what else they were doing behind that closed door? Did she care? How could she not care? That removed distance between mother and son never ever sat right with her. And even though there were a dozen other girls with spiked hair and trench coats and Doc Martens in the world, the fact that the bad boy with a mohawk and tattoo picked her never ceased to amaze and frighten her. It caused her to make decisions before she really knew what she was getting herself into. It meant that she sometimes confused who she was with who she really wanted to be. And it ultimately meant that she would break it off with the bad boy who somehow managed to make her feel beautiful and cheap, all in the same kiss.

I wonder if I would like hanging out with her. Would she afford me the same grace she seems to grant absolutely everyone else? She's incredibly open to everyone. Too much, sometimes. She reveals her vulnerability and transparency in ways that make people feel understood, which is admirable. She is a good friend.

But she has also been capricious. At one too many parties she has marinated her tender spots with Boone's and there was one who saw her weakness, every time. Why did she always take his hand and walk into the darkness? Again and again, she knew what was behind that door, yet still, she followed. I wouldn't have much patience for that if I were to hang out with her today. I would tell her that she was made for so much more than following.

Would she be nice and polite because she didn't want to hurt my feelings but secretly wish that I would go away? Probably. I think she would know that I represent truths she's been burying beneath hair spray and a wardrobe of black. She would probably decide that she wasn't ready to talk to me yet. 

But if she would listen, I would tell her that she is already enough. Yes, she is a work in progress but who isn't? I would tell her that all of the things that tug at her soul, that move her, are good and beautiful and worthy of being loved and that if she embraces that she will find that she is weaving beauty right round her. That we are all the sum of our parts, not defined by one or two events or decisions, but by a diligent stringing of day upon day. I would give her permission to redefine herself whenever she feels led because I know, now, that following your heart looks different depending on the day. The roots of one's heart plunge deep and its life source is not like quicksilver.

And I would tell her to not be afraid of what she thinks. She needs to know that her mind is a beautiful place and that it doesn't matter if everything isn't all sorted out first. It's okay to be figuring it out as you go. Being all things to all people doesn't guarantee squat. She just needs to be.

Oh, and I would tell her she needs to start writing. Now.

And, oh yeah, she needs to stop smoking. Yesterday.

Yes, I think I would like hanging out with her. 

Friday, January 25, 2013


Five Minute Friday

Unscripted. Unedited. Real.
Writing for five minutes.
A sort of writing flash mob.

Again, it happens.

First, his words.

Then, my inward wince and the inevitable tug on the one loose thread that dangles in my periphery.

I struggle to keep it steady, that thread. I will it to stay connected in all the right places, feeling its pulsing connection with the garment wrapped tightly round my heart. Knowing that one good pull will begin a great unraveling and soon my heart won't be the only thing naked on the floor.

And, again, I choose wrongly.

For some days, no amount of teeth clenching or deep-breath-taking or willing.it.away... can stop the torrent of vitriol that spills from my mouth. And in a blink, the thread lies in a pool and its shapeless form mirrors my heart space.

Again, I have failed him.




And eyes become shimmering pools and faces blur and why can't I err more on the side of grace and less on that of spoil?

And everyone just wants a do over.


Wednesday, January 23, 2013


I'm wearing a path through my heart's middle these days ... vacillating between worlds in a dance that has no set steps. There is only a song that warbles on top of the chill air, pulling me one way, then another.

There is now and its two boys and all that this demands of me.

And love ... more love than I think I might have to give. Love that dives below the surface tension of now and pulls me into the deep places heavy with night and shadows. Love that believes before it doubts. Love that circles seventy times seven. Love unbroken.

And then there is a crossing over ...
and I am there, at my own mother's bedside
stroking her brow
kissing her cheek
framing her face in my hands
as if our hearts flipped in the night's chill and now I am mothering the mother.

On either side of me stand my two boys, warm from the car ride and woozy with sleep and before me
is my mother, hands clasped together for warmth, purple knitted shawl slipping from her shoulders.

And I hang for a millisecond, suspended between the role of mother and that of daughter,
until the tightrope snaps
and I free fall

It is not until I land plumb in the middle of love that I discover it is simply the keeping of hearts to which I am called.

So the next day looks like a turning and a circling, over and over.

My stout sons are hungry, so hungry, and I parcel out first and second breakfasts and then whine that they are having too much screen time even as I turn my back and pretend the opposite. It's only for today, I whisper into the ether, not sure if I am confessing or hoping.

And then comes the swelling worry, wrapped in fever and fatigue, taking up residence in my mother's slight and wispy body. She is not prepared for this new battle. She has already been fighting a mutant army and it has been marching through her blood, pillaging her energy and vigor and she is tired.
So tired.

So I push for answers and advocate for truth and a hazy cognizance swirls around deep inside as I begin to see how she has championed the same for me, time and time again. That from the moment I was flesh and blood in her arms I became her cause and she has never stopped fighting for me. For my joy ... for my dreams ... for my life.

And when I wonder at what point I became equipped for such a time as this, when I realize that I must be all of that for her, it is then that I realize that a Mother is a life force. As long as babies are born and mothers are made, whether by blood or decree, a creative force is unleashed in the world and things are never the same.

I will never be the same.

My desire to nurture and sustain those entrusted to my care need no longer discern mother from child. All of it is a dance, a grand swinging, a twirling of tendrilous hearts.

To mother, to be mothered, all is birthed from Love embedded deep and long and wide.

And at the end of the day, I pull back the crazy quilt spread across the bed and crawl in next to my mom, my boys at my heels, all of us falling

Sunday, January 20, 2013

A foretaste

Your words
they speak

of counting hairs
grains of sand

And so
 it must be 

You have touched 
golden orb

And now

Friday, January 18, 2013


Five Minute Friday

Unscripted. Unedited. Real.
Writing for five minutes.
A sort of writing flash mob.

Seven years old.

Completely taken by the joy trail that fluttered on his arrival.

Immediately accepted.

Embraced with a love strength that surprised and delighted.

Carried constantly.

Squeezed and kissed, seventy times seven.

Gazed at, caressed, completely delighted in.

Held by the hand in everything, but most connected when alone.

Despite lengthening years, the love growing roots and clinging deep.

Loved so hard until thin places developed, serving only to reveal his center, the stuff he was really made of.


Could the way that I loved this childhood plush grant me a glimpse of the divine?
Could it reveal, in ways new and yet examined, that I, too, am cherished?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

In which I am made complete

There are days when the very holding on is an enormous thing.

My calloused hands ache in the places once worn thin and I spin and flap and kick at the end of a rope that is slowly unraveling, one rugged strand at a time.
And to... just...let...go...
seems like the right and proper thing to do.

But then there is that matter of earth and gravity and suddenly
the issue is no longer about a frayed rope but a threadbare heart 
and what I really want is for the ground to rise up and meet my feet.
Because to stand with limbs shaking is so much better than to fall into numbing nothingness.

And I know this because you are my promontory, come to save.

And when my feet find the rock of you, I am upheld.


When your words animate my soul and embolden my heart ...

When my bones are strengthened by the comfort of your whisper ...

When you meet me in the sharp places and choose to place peace between us ...

When you call out the story that is woven into my heart and I feel a quickening down deep that says "this is what you ought to be" ...

When your presence burns Light into the corners corroded by darkness ...

It is then, in ways new and unwarranted, that love and peace reign.


 "Dear brothers and sisters, 
I close my letter with these last words: 
Be joyful. 
Grow to maturity. 
Encourage each other. 
Live in harmony and peace. 
Then the God of love and peace will be with you."
-2 Corinthians 13:11 NLT

Linking up with Emily for Imperfect Prose  on the prompt: Encourage.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

{Adagio: A Poetry Project} Les Mains

Today I give you a third offering of Adagio: A Poetry Project, a collaborative poetry writing project dreamed up by my beautiful friend, Elizabeth Marshall. 
Our first poem spoke of wordsmiths and dripping pens and pages stamped crimson.
Our second installment birthed two different poems (Elizabeth's and my own) written separately but, still, as an Adagio, in which we balanced and turned to the same music.
And then there is today's poem. 
Again, we have strung words on colored threads and woven them together into one piece.

Today's offering is also our way of participating in the first ever Poetry at Work Day, launched by the brilliant folks at Tweetspeak Poetry.
And although Elizabeth and I do not work in high rise offices or on construction sites or at the supermarket, there is still poetry to be found.
We are busy raising children and shaping hearts and pointing to the Divine
and all of that,
my friends,
Photo credit: Hand by jamie neely on flickr
Les Mains

Your hands reach back
through inky curtains
worn, frail, thin
settling our shaky human brokenness
smoothing the broken shards of conscience
all the while
quelling a thousand restless swirling places
righting rattled beats

And then, as always
You are here
the warming sun your canopy
and I must grab hold of your shadow
for fear of sinking deep into
the pools of light
left in your wake
For the day
it keeps moving,
ray upon ray

You reach forward
no more fevered pitch
or furrowed brow
You are slow
and steady
All that races
finds a peaceful pace
In a twinkling
the frozen is warmed
and the darkness becomes

And as with all creation
Your hands
form a holy welcome
That longed for warm embrace
enveloping all restless souls
with grace

It is our hope that you may want to write with us--your prose, your comments, your poetry--however you feel led. Our poem, Les Mains (French for 'hands'), talks of the power, the breadth, the warmth of God's reach. For us, our hands can be tools and vehicles for working, for writing, for loving. We would love to hear your thoughts on the multiple roles that hands play in the living out of your days. You are welcome to write in the comments here or at Elizabeth's. And feel free to link to any of your own writing that you would like to share.

 Poetry at Work-Hot

i'm a poetry chick

Monday, January 14, 2013

Bravery Has An Underbelly

The image is burned into our knowing: the brave wield swords and slay dragons, they swoop into fiery buildings, they gallop into dark nights and stand stoically in the face of fear. Brave people do hard things.
I, however, have always felt more at home crouched small in the tight and cramped underbelly of someone else’s shell of bravery.  The proper home for my thinner blood and skin has consistently been hidden below the vast casing of another’s courage. Valiant and stouthearted I am not.
And then I hear stories of real women around the globe whose very waking is an act of bravery; women whose lives are daily marked by decisions between lesser evils and unrequited hope. I am schooled in the prevalence of human trafficking and the pains of hunger and I am confronted with my ready wealth and comfort.
It is then that I feel the weight of my brave costume most acutely and the truth of my position is revealed...
Today I am joining all of the lovelies here at SheLoves where you can continue reading my exploration of bravery.
Won't you join me?

Friday, January 11, 2013


Five Minute Friday

Unscripted. Unedited. Real.
Writing for five minutes.
A sort of writing flash mob.

The only way to pull this off is for me to willingly choose to lose my footing. Otherwise, it is no different than being pushed off the edge. 

I don't want to be pushed.  

But, in order to tilt slant I have to let the total of who I am pitch over itself. It means plunging headlong towards the bottom of the murky depths, despite my fears of what lies beneath.

I have to let what is known beneath my toes give way to nothingness. 

And then, for a moment, there will be freedom. 

For that in-between space, the one where I am neither on land or in water, it is just like that first day. That journey between darkness and light when I burst forth this side of heaven with a splash? It, too, was the yoke between the known and the unknown.

Only, this time, I must risk becoming unseen. 

For the flipside of leaping is a necessary descending.

But that arc? It is just part of one big cosmic circle and so there will be a rising.

My face will split the waters and I will breathe again.

"If grace is an ocean, we're all sinking."
-John Mark McMillan

Thursday, January 10, 2013


First this: God created the Heavens and Earth—all you see, all you don’t see. Earth was a soup of nothingness, a bottomless emptiness, an inky blackness. 
God’s Spirit brooded like a bird above the watery abyss.
-Genesis 1:1-2
The Message

We know this. We feel it just as surely as the Creator God did all those eons ago. This brooding. This musing, pondering, ruminating existence.

To create is to give rise to that which previously did not exist. 

To create is the be the birth mother of words and pictures and names and places.

To create is to begin, to forge, to carve out.

And it is beautiful, and heart-wrenching, and ripe with responsibility.

Even God, who stood on the cusp of darkness and light, paused. 

And God brooded.

For to sit atop all that was to come and all that ever would be was huge.

And yet, as Genesis children, we have been entrusted with the same cargo. All that is beautiful and real and faceted and frightful swells at the end of our fingertips and, consequently, there are decisions to be made and pictures to be painted and poems to be written.

We have a responsibility.

We must accept our inheritance.

We, the created, must create.

"But unless we are creators we are not fully alive."
-Madeleine L'Engle

Photo credit: webtreats on flickr

Friday, January 4, 2013


Five Minute Friday

Unscripted. Unedited. Real.
Writing for five minutes.
A sort of writing flash mob.


"It's not a competition. It's a doorway."
-Mary Oliver

Too often, opportunity is this fleeting concept. Something to jump on before its too late. The one chance to do something that changes things. A singular moment that can turn a life.

But maybe, opportunities are more akin to falling snow. 

When the first white flies, it is gift and happy and sparkly wonder all wrapped together. We run around trying to catch each flake and we marvel at their exquisitely unique shapes. It is magical. Inevitably, flakes land on our coat sleeves and then melt and we never get to see what crystalline shape they took. But we don't lose hope because there are others, falling one behind the other, and they all feel as if they were created just for our eyes to see.

No, we won't catch all of the snowflakes.

But we've walked out the door.

Photo credit: _Zeta on flickr

Thursday, January 3, 2013


It is early and my mind is still warm and swirly from those vivid morning dreams I have just before waking. The kind of dreams that are a patchwork of thoughts that have been nestled in the secret brain folds for days...weeks. This morning, there were jail cells and old students turned fitness gurus and really good cafeteria food and stolen kisses. 

And then suddenly, there was my alarm beeping and, very uncharacteristically, there was me fumbling for the snooze button so I could go back, just for a moment, and try to make sense of it all. 

But that never works. 

The fog between conscious and unconscious was too thick and divisive and the hands I wanted to hold and the faces I wanted to gaze upon once more were hidden behind a veil.

So, I'm left to the task of conjuring up meaning out of my predawn reverie. And it is futile.

I remember the dreams that I had when I was pregnant with my first born. Outrageous and fantastical were they. As I plodded through my pregnancy in my hazy nighttime brain, I slowly revisited all of my old boyfriends. It was as if I was on a mission to right all wrongs and close all doors and move forward with new resolve, prepped and ready for motherhood. It was weird and comforting and empowering all at once.

I haven't dreamed like that before or since.

Instead, I wake with disparate ideas that are impossible to interpret.

Perhaps it is not much different for me on this side of sleep...this interpreting of dreams. 

I've never been much of a real world dreamer. Although I am imaginative and poetical in the realm of the sun, I'm not one for casting visions on the future. I don't paint big pictures. I kind of just...am.

That is why I am going to 
Jumping Tandem: The Retreat  in April, otherwise known as "your big, amazing, ridiculous dream."

Ridiculous is right. As in, I don't have one. A dream, that is. 

Clicking the button to reserve my spot at the retreat was one of the stupidest bravest things that I have ever done. How audacious of me. Who am I to think that I can waltz into that beautiful retreat center that promises me amazing speakers, gorgeous accommodations, delicious food and CHOCOLATE and have a legitimate reason for being there? 

Big. Amazing. Ridiculous.

But I'm going anyway.

I'm going to be with amazing, ridiculous women in the hopes that all their goodness and grace and grit will rub off on me. 

I want a dream for the here and now that doesn't leave me grasping at mirages or old haunts.

I want a dream that will move mountains.

I want a dream that might just change the world.

So I'm wiping the sand from my eyes and rinsing out the bad taste in my mouth and I'm turning my face to the scarlet orange sun hanging low in the sky.

Join me?

“Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night.”
-Edgar Allan Poe 

Photo credit: ~Brenda-Star~

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Things that have never been

How unique it is
to look out upon
this pregnant emptiness

To hold out hands
cupped to receive
with that which is

To be gifted
with such a charge,
this scripting of a life?

It is

I step out
arms raised

And from fingers
gilded with sunlight

 Sweet Blogger Grey

Today I join other bloggers in an attempt to sweeten the world with poetry.
If you, too, would like to share beautiful words and images with others, please consider visiting