balance

There comes a tipping point in my balance.

When what’s good for me becomes just one more thing to do, and I am no longer one of my own priorities.

No amount of candle lighting or journal writing can recenter the weight.There’s only the passage of time, hope for a good night’s sleep, and the certain knowledge this time too shall pass.

In the meantime, there are negotiations. Trades. This for that. Time borrowed here and spent there. Adjustments.

And the truth is, imbalance is just as unsustainable as balance.

Because there arrives a day when the pressure subsides. Responsibilities lift. Check marks ink all the to-be-dones as done. And I wonder what all the fuss was about.

Hope emerges from underneath the pile on the desk.

I turn a new page in the journal, flip the calendar to April, and finally choose to pack the camera after all.

I breathe in. Exhale. And smile.

Every little thing’s gonna be alright.*

Thanks to Bob Marley for the reminder.

good day to you, February

Good day to you, February!

I welcome you to the comfort of my kitchen. I’m warming the oven – and myself – after a long, dark, cold January. I’m baking today. Seven cabinet doors flung wide from the gathering of ingredients and tools and bowls. Evidence I was here. Cookie dough spins in the mixer and the sun just arrived … at 6:58 … same time as last year on this day. (I checked.)

I smile to think of who I am this February compared to last. At 6:58 or any other time. And then I think, how nice it is to smile about such as that, about me as I am. Yes, February, I’ve added the right ingredients: plenty of rest, drinking my water, moving my body, reading lovely books, loving my people as best I can, and of course, hope.

Hope was a little harder to find last February. Maybe sometimes hope is tucked away in the back of the cabinet, behind the molasses, just waiting for me to pull it out, dust it off, and share it with others. Hope, like the cookies I’m baking today, is meant to be shared. And February, you with your earlier sunrises and later sunsets – give hope. Just when we need it most, I think.

So today I’ll be sharing cookies, February. And if you’d be so kind, please share some hope. In your month of love, remind me to love my neighbors, to offer warmth, to welcome … and accept … everyone. 

Open my heart wide, February. 

French Love Cakes

1 cup butter, softened

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup finely chopped, roasted pecans

Sifted powdered sugar (about 1/2 cup)

In large mixing bowl beat together butter, sugar, vanilla, and salt until fluffy. Stir in flour and pecans until combined. Shape into 1 1/4 inch balls. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake in 325 ° oven 20 to 23 minutes until golden. Remove from sheet to cooling rack over parchment paper. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Makes about 30.

-adapted from Country Home Magazine, February 1999

after all

I am a writer.

After all.

I’ve learned (recently) just how I write. How – I – write.

I used to think I needed a writer’s notebook to write. (To be a writer.) And I needed a room. Maybe a loft. Definitely a desk. Old. Wooden. Carved with someone else’s initials and scuffed at the legs. Funny the images I create. The people and personas I imagine. How one is supposed to write. Supposed to be. Supposed to live. 

And none of them are me.

Who I am is a writer who writes in the morning while making the bed. While readying for work. Somewhere between brushing my hair and my teeth, I find my meaning. I write in come-to-mind phrases. Snatches of conversations I have with myself. Scraps of thought I may never sew together. A dropped stitch plucked up from some other day’s ideas.

Maybe my writer’s mind is free to roam while my body is otherwise occupied. Maybe I listen best to what I have to say while moving. Maybe it’s how I greet myself of a morning and find out what’s been on my mind all night.

I’ve taken to propping my computer open on my dresser. I stand there and write. Listening to my fingers find my words as they appear on the screen like some kind of sleight of hand magic trick tapping out today’s truth of me.

All of which is to say I am happy to find the writer I am and discard that draft of she I thought I should be.

A writer writes.

I’m an audience of one, hopeful to write and read whatever my words mean to say.

I am a writer.

After all.

one moment

When I awoke this morning, two complaints I remembered from the day before perched on my lips like two plump robins ready to fly aloft. 

It was a conscious moment. A powerful pause  –  mid-thought –  in which I interrupted my own self before I spoke.

I closed my mouth, and I think my heart smiled.

The collective energy of us really needs me to pause more often. The greater good needs more … good …  or at the very least, one less litany of who and what’s lacking. Obviously, I’m still becoming the person I’d most like to be.  

Sometimes, one hopeful year is lived one moment at a time.

small celebrations

Thirty-six hours at home. One hot shower and one warm bath on a extremely cold day. Twenty-eight tidy, white stitches cast on Nana’s knitting needles (with any luck, mittens-to-be for a pair of toddler hands.) Five hardy Red Star chickens in the coop out back. A cluster of six red tulips plucked from a grocery store bucket. Two pieces of homemade pizza for dinner. One rainbow shirt and a wish granted. Two days until the full Wolf moon. Eighteen additional minutes of daylight since the New Year. The hope of a 27 degree heat wave tomorrow.

what can I do in this day?

What can I do in this day?

(A meditation.)

How can I do better? Be better? Feel better? What blessings have I forgotten to count? 

How can I be kinder? More compassionate? More empathetic?

How can I be a better listener?  Give more? Smile more? Friendly more?

Where am I needed? Who and how can I help? What’s my purpose?*

What can I do to live with more heart? More hope?

What can I do in this day to strengthen my body? My spirit? My faith?

How do I human -best- in this world? This world right here, right now. Especially right now.

What can I do in this day?

*Thanks to Linda Stoll for finding the word I was looking for.

spine poetry

Browse your bookshelves. Listen. Pull what speaks to you. Arrange in a pleasing pile. Word by word. Title by title. Rearrange until you discover you in a stack of books. A bit of inspiration. A trove of delight. Hope culled from the books you’ve loved and lived with. Read top to bottom – or bottom to top. Write on your heart.

a year of weeks

365 days of wonder

chasing slow

daring greatly

becoming

joyful

simply living well

  • My thanks for today’s poem and life inspiration to Erica Root, R.J. Palacio, Erin Loechner, Brene Brown, Michelle Obama, Ingrid Fetell Lee, and Julia Watkins.

promises to keep

Never one to rush time, January, suddenly here you are. I, on the other hand, greet you today with much anticipation and the hope of hopes.

January, you are young, but wise. No doubt you’ve seen the beginning of this story before. You’re all new born, but not naïve.  Promises. Commitments. Fresh starts.

Still, you never quite know how the story ends, do you? Not for sure?  

I suppose that’s what hope is, after all. 

All evidence to the contrary, January, your year may end so much better than it began. Your year may hold a surprise … or twenty-two. 

Still, there is much work to be done. And I guess I don’t really need to make one more New Year’s resolution. Our weary world needs a promise. A pledge.  So January, here’s mine.

Hope, I’m certain, begins with helping.

pause

I love commas. And as I writer, I’m prone to the (probably) overuse of ellipses. It’s the pause I’m after. The breath in between thoughts. No full stop like a period, a comma dangles there in my writing and in my mind offering me a moment of rest.

Sometimes, a moment is all I need.

Today deserves a few well-placed commas. Some intentional ellipses. A deep breath in … … and a slow exhale of release.

My wish for you in all of today’s hustle and hurry … is at least one hopeful pause.

greetings december

I’ve felt rushed, but I promise to slow down. Greet you properly as you guide me to the end of this year and the beginning of the next. December, hello, thank you for warming me even on the coldest of days. 

In all my busyness, bustling about, and bow tying, I must not forget to breathe you in. Your warm teas, spicy simmer pots, our tiny tree.

I must not forget to sing you out. Your glorias, hymns, and heralds. Your faith found even on the longest and darkest night of the year.

I must not forget to listen for your silent nights, your holy nights, and your peppermint winds. I will listen for your laughter and the making of merry. For the good cheer of bells, the crackle of a fire, and the knock of a neighbor at the door.

I will remember to delight in the foraging of berries, and greens, and cones. Each week, lighting a fresh candle of hope, joy, peace, and love – praying the warmth and glow of each lights my way for months to come. I’ll look for your candles in each window, the impossible pink of a cactus flower, and the I’m Home relief of a wreath at my door.

Dear December, you’re long-awaited and much-anticipated. You’re prayerful, hopeful,  wistful, and filled to the minute with celebrations, surprises, and traditions. Sometimes, you’re lonely and grieving. I know this too. I live this too. We’ll remember and honor and pray through it together.

Your lists are long, and your days are short, and I have so very much to be grateful for. In all my busyness, I must not forget to give in any way I can, whenever I can, and whatever I can.

Especially, hope, to whomever I can.