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.

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.

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.

linger

Linger in the good graces of a morning, over one more cup of coffee, the pages of a book, and couple-talk punctuated by the clink of spoon against cereal bowl.  Linger over the iron’s steam, marveling at the smoothing of wrinkles like the righting of wrongs.

Linger at the door to count blessings and gratitudes and hopes. Linger out in the first, startling cold slap of air. Breathe until wide, wide awake. And ready.

Linger long enough to listen for the gossip of chickens out back and the agitation of blue jays at the feeder. Watch for the indecision of squirrels crossing the road and find grace in the spiral of a wind-blown leaf or the dancing sway of a branch.

Linger over realizations, what you thought you knew, but now know you didn’t. Changes and chances and challenges you should have made or offered or taken.  Linger not to heed the whisper of regret.

Instead, linger to remember yesterday’s promises and the hope in today. Reach out for the dreams you lost track of or the hand of someone you miss. Feel for the tug of a memory in a lingering daydream gaze out the window.

Stand certain, like the last geranium bud in the pot on the porch, somehow surviving despite fall, and frost, and the fading of warmth. Tall, strong, and lingering … just a little longer.

At day’s end, linger a few minutes more at the table with friends; admire her smile, his laugh, their warmth on a chilly evening. Watch the light linger as long as it can, understanding you will find light elsewhere these dark nights. Returning to bed, remember the day, knowing you did your best. Linger over thoughts and questions and drowsy ideas.

In the last lingering moments before sleep, pray.

come, november

Come, November.  You with your winds and rains. Your passions and gratitudes. Your brisk walks and sparkle-frosted mornings. Come, November. We’ll warm up with your soups and stews, breads and blankets. We’ll be mesmerized by your achingly clear midnight skies pierced for a moment by your stars and the sharp slice of your moon. Come, November. You with your chill and stark sticks. Your reluctant light and bare-boned trees. You, all gray-skied and maybe misunderstood. Come, November. We’ll walk together, thankful and daring, making our way toward winter. We’ll travel by candlelight, firelight, and lamplight. Side-by-side, step-by-step. Disregarding the forecast and choosing instead to count our blessings, knowing nothing is ever as bleak as wasting a single day. Come, November. Let’s gather ‘round your table and be nourished in your company. Hopeful, happy, and home.

in celebration of laundry

Laundry, as a chore – its sorting, washing, drying, folding, stacking, and tucking away – is one of life’s necessaries. It simply must be done in order to be prepared for all of our dailies: work, play, cooking, cleaning, and comfortable rest. Once upon a time, laundry, in all its multi-stepped, never-ending cycles, was almost more than I could manage.

Not so today.

Just now, for me, all those steps are more soothing than stressful. I’ve learned the stress was really more about time and less about the task itself. With four boys – and all their multitude of socks – the drudgery was more about the sheer quantity of the laundry than disdain for doing it.

Today, strange as it may sound, I celebrate laundry.

I feel gratitude for the tidy task of it. The satisfying snap of a towel. Overcoming the dilemma of a fitted sheet. The delight when every sock entering the washer finds it way out of the dryer as well. The small victory of actually washing, drying, folding, and stowing a load all in the same day.

Folding laundry is like a moving meditation. Pull. Fold. Smooth … Fold. Smooth. Stack … Pull. Fold. Smooth … Fold. Smooth. Stack. My mind feels free to go elsewhere even as it stays exactly in the moment. I am centered. Calm. Mindful and relaxed in the repetition of movement and years of practice. Some of my best writing ideas come as I pull clean, warm laundry from the basket.

There’s a metaphor for life somewhere in the smoothing of wrinkles. The acceptance of stains. The reliving and memory of the last week through the clothing we wore. Memories of a dinner out. A successful day at work. A granddaughter’s overnight visit.

Maybe the pleasure I feel comes from more time, or maybe it’s a newfound appreciation for the uncomplicated and routine. There’s hope and happiness for me in simple tasks. There’s peace and a sense of purpose found in the curved folds of stacked towels.

A celebration. Sorting my way through darks and lights and cycles. Alone with my laundry, my thoughts and my love.

self-talk

Explore today.

With all its options and possibilities. Should I? Could I? Will I? Why nots and maybe I wills.

Explore today.

With all it’s wrong turns, detours, missteps, and second-guesses.

Follow your instincts. Follow your hopes, your inklings, and intuitions. Follow a map. If you don’t have one, draw one. Others may wish to follow the trail you’ve blazed.

Explore your expectations. Your predictions. Estimations. Remember: What you think might happen, often does not. And what you least expect, often does.

Explore the sky, the ground beneath your feet, and whatever seems just out of reach or beyond the next bend. Find a surprise. A delight. A silver lining. A dream come true. A friend.

Explore today.

For the fun of it, the thrill of it, the faith of it.

on the eve of october

The light creeps only so far now across the grass out back before dropping below the tree line for the night. The pumpkins are all but ready to pick, and the chickens go to roost earlier and earlier. One last, lone daisy stands sentry alongside their coop.

There’s a certain poignancy in the air, a wistful smell of time gone by and the browning of leaves. A cycle completed, the season’s growing weary, silently drifting toward dormancy. Each tree’s a kaleidoscope with colored confetti puddling at its base. One last hurrah and farewell celebration.

There’s poetry in October. Every year I appreciate it more than I did the year before and the year before that, oohing and aahing in all the appropriate places, of course, but also nestling a bit in its nuance – the just so wisp and flutter of a falling leaf and the cacophony of crows, feeling momentary nostalgia for the passing of another September.

Both inside and out, there’s readying afoot and comfort in routines. Burrows blanketed. Woolens hauled from the attic. Wood stacked. The crockpot looks forward to stews and soups as soon we’ll be slow cooking our way through hibernation. We’re getting sleepy, dozing a bit through the game on Sunday and sleeping just a couple minutes more under heavier blankets.

In the increasing absence of warmth, I time my walk for the late afternoon sun on the road. Even as we’re getting ready to pull the rakes out from the shed, we’re eyeing the snow shovels and windshield scrapers, knowing they’ll get their turn before too long.

Still, there’s decisions to be made: when to rake, how to dress the scarecrow, and what to eat at the fair. Just yesterday, I found a rare chestnut, polishing it on my shirt – evidence there’s both finding and losing in this month of October.

I tucked the chestnut – along with a bit of hope – into my pocket on the way home.