This Morning

DSC_0639I’m all sorts of out of sorts this morning.

Fresh off a couple of beautiful days in Vermont, I thought I’d be writing about the perspective I gain by being away. And maybe that piece will write itself another morning  Just not this morning. DSC_0634

This morning is a little more squirrely. My thoughts run about -chattering away- all hard to keep up with, catch, and collect. There’s some worry, scampering off in one direction with hope running behind trying to keep up. My thoughts travel in circles like I’m chasing my own tail, and I’m not sure -at all- what to do about any of it.

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Uncertainty is itchy and uncomfortable and I don’t like it.

I’d been expecting some kind of hallelujah chorus of summer and instead of singing, I feel like I’m searching – a little blindly – hands outstretched and feeling my way around.

Maybe this is what growth feels like.

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Maybe this is like those mornings when your clothes suddenly feel too tight, or the tag’s a little irritating, and it’s time to change. Summer’s children shoot up like fireworks, exploding in growth spurts … so maybe this is mine.

Maybe there’s some unconscious thought trying to work its way to the surface and I need to be patient in anticipation of its arrival and the learning it will offer.

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Life plateaus and rises, dips and climbs, and then rests some more. Maybe all this out of sorts is just a little bit of post-plateau crankies.  A hour or day or two from now these thought circles of mine will straighten and I’ll feel taller somehow, more capable, and ready for the next curving rise of the road.

DSC_0762And the view … will make every moment of the wait and every question of the climb … worth it.

Gathering Strength

Three days ago, I finished my last day of school. Two days ago, I got sick. One day ago, I remembered what rest is and does for me. Today, I feel a little more me than I have in weeks.

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Some stretches of time drain our strength more than others. In the plus and minus columns, these kinds of days subtract from our reserves even as we give and give to those around us and fulfill every responsibility to the best of our ability. The giving ticks a tally in the plus column for sure, but sometimes the giving costs a little as well in that every action has an equal and opposite reaction sort of way.

I can’t give what I don’t have, so I’m set on gathering me some strength. Strength will steady me a bit, help me find my footing, ready me for all the whats-to-comes on the horizon. Gathering strength needs focus. Direction. Attention.

And the idea of gathering strength sounds a little loosey-goosey or abstract, so here’s the practical:

  • Find yourself a journal or some paper and a pen.
  • Name some strength-giving categories like:
    • Health
    • Family
    • Home
    • Just For MeDSC_0582
  • Beneath each category, list three to five specific ideas for strength-giving like:
    • Health
      • Sleep
      • Water
      • Diet
      • Movement
    • Just For Me
      • Writing
      • Quiet Time
      • Notice Beauty
      • Creativity
  • Create columns next to the categories and date each column
  • Keep a daily check on strength-fulfilling action by marking your list, idea-by-idea with a check mark to show the strength you gathered in each category

My strength list has four categories with three to seven separate goals under each. Checking the list each morning will keep these hopes on my mind and in my heart. With each day, the list increases in visual impact in direct proportion to the strength I’ve worked so consciously to gather.

Finding strength doesn’t happen by accident, but by intention.

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Gather your strength where you find it.

Summer Grace

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Summer flowers bloom and open all around. Last week, I spotted June’s first wild daisies waving in the wind. In the weeks before that, iris and peonies competed for best of show, each just about outdoing the delicacy of the other. Crimson roses climb white picket fences and all the world is reassured the time to grow and be and become … is now.

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The cone flowers out front reach and reach some more, inches taller today than they appeared to be yesterday. Waiting. Knowing. Patient. The tiny, two-inch pots of petunias planted last month spread wide now and spill over the baskets hanging out on the front porch. A  breeze wiffles their petals, and the sun’s grace lights their way.

Grace is like that. Grace fills and feeds us. We grow open and tall in grace – all our empty places filled,  all our darkest corners finding light.

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The potted flowers on the stoop and the others out back stretching their roots into our garden soil have only a short season to grow and live at their very best. Last month’s lilacs are long gone now, and the show-girl rhododendrons down the road brown and wither away day by day.

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And while summer’s flowers seem to know their schedule, I’m aware my own grace is a little more unpredictable. Still learning about being open,  I  need to wait too, knowing and patient. Faith is not in the knowing of when; it is in the certainty of knowing – at all. When grace comes, I know I will grow taller and stronger in its light.

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Grace might arrive one morning, all soft whispers, opening me like the gentle unfolding of a pale, pink peony. Or it might show up all cheering and celebratory like a meadow full of wildflowers. Either way, grace opens and readies me for a sort of flowering of my own.

No Fibonacci sequence or pattern predicts the goodness of grace or its arrival. Some seasons, our fields rest and lie fallow. We rest, restore, and rotate our expectations a bit. We make time for this and time for that. We reflect and restore until the day hope’s grace returns, and we’re ready for a whole new season of growth.

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Hopefully, we have more than one season to live at our very best, but this one – this one right here – is a good place to start.

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The State of Things

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The white ironstone pitcher on the dining room table droops dead stems of cream-colored flowers.Those flowers began to wilt last Sunday, the day after I picked them. I was after a pot full of farmhouse lovely and I got it … for one whole day.

But there’s beauty in that day, beauty which must not be discounted  or dismissed. Because no matter how fleeting, beauty blesses and sustains us.  I’m learning such bounty is brief. Those moments where life is full, and fun, and in beautiful bloom must be recognized, appreciated, and remembered.

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Because some other moments might not be quite so beautiful. Still full and still to be appreciated … but not quite like the picture in the magazine … or like the one in my mind.

After this week’s end-of-school-year busy, today’s bounty is laundry,  piled or basketed – clean and dirty.  There’s another stack of real life in each kitchen sink.  I’ve emptied my book bag everywhere: books, notebooks, lesson plans, student journals and work blossoming on the floors and tables in three different rooms. Life feels fussy and fragmented.  I haven’t had a minute to empty that crock of dead flowers, so there it sits. Nothing is where it’s supposed to be and I don’t care.

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I don’t care because I will notice moments of beauty, scattered here and there like petals past their prime. I know moments of order, simplicity, and peace follow the moments of chaos, clutter, and stress.

And I’ll be ready for them.