Saturday, August 29, 2015

Mary Oliver, On Not Being a Helicopter Parent

Flanna riding her big bike, with gears and a basket and a cute bell.
"To live in this world,
you must be able to do
three things: 
to love what is mortal;
to hold it against your bones
knowing your own life
depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go."
   --Mary Oliver, from "In Blackwater Woods"




Sunday, August 23, 2015

Do What You Love

art by my Great Aunt Elsie
Lately I've been giving myself permission to read and write more.  To let the laundry pile up and the dishes wait to be unloaded.  Because when I am stressed out and busy and don't let myself do what I love, I become a strange tense version of myself that I don't want to be.

Anywho.  One of the benefits of letting myself write more is having something to share on my little blog!   Below, I'm posting a poem I wrote about my Great-aunt Elsie. Enjoy!  (And by the way, what will you do this week that you just love?)


Card Castle

I never visited her,
my great aunt Elsie,
Never saw the life she built
out of the bad hand she was dealt.
Born to an overwhelmed father and an ailing mother,
with so many mouths to feed
in the Great Depression.
Not a single ace or king, nothing up her sleeve.

Her mother passed (Passed what? The final test?)
and her older sister (my grandmother) tried to care for them—
Elsie and her tiny twin brothers--,
but
her young newlywed husband (my grandfather) just couldn’t handle it. 
and so, it was off to the orphanage.
My grandmother stood tall, in heels and her best skirt,
uncertain,
watching small, wiry Elsie twist her dark auburn hair.
Finally, she signed the papers at the counter, so many words stuck in her throat,
and the clerk hurrying her with his eyes.
I don’t know much about the orphanage, 
except that that’s where my grandmother said
Elsie must’ve learned to be a lesbian.
Long years of living with so many other girls 
and no boys, she explained.
But I have the wisdom of time, 
and so many homosexual branches off my family tree.
Genetics are genetics.

My sister visited their apartment once, in Seattle,
Great Aunt Elsie and her artist partner.
They painted flowers and trees and laughed from a purple velvet couch.
They walked down to the farmer’s market every Saturday.
I like to picture them side by side,
Gray hair swaying,
pushing bicycles with baskets heavy laden 
through the shining streets.
I like to study her art hanging on the wall 
in my hallway in California.
The beauty she created smiles out at me.
I like to think of her, her head tilted,
considering the lines, the light, 
contemplating,
a cat sunning in her window.
I like to think of how she built a quiet castle
out of a bad hand of cards.  

Friday, May 8, 2015

Just Add Music

I've been listening to the new Weepies album, Sirens, lately.  It is so lovely, and has brought me so many moments of joy as I drive here or there, or cook dinner, or get ready for work in the mornings.

Here is a beautiful lyric I love, from a song called, "Wild Boy:"

Every ship at sea deserves a harbor,
and don't I know it
No little tree alone can make an arbor,
and don't I know it. 

I think I will make this our family motto--"Every ship at sea deserves a harbor."  I feel this way about my family --that they are my safe harbor.  Deb Talan of the Weepies fought a battle with breast cancer this past year, and I wonder if the same is true for her--that her family was her harbor amidst that storm.

Ah, how a song can speak to our hearts.  Music is truly a gift. And I am thankful.


What song is making you happy lately?  









Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Speak the Truth in Love

A friend of mine gave me this beautiful wisdom once--told me that her motto in marriage, and in life, is to, "Speak the truth in love."  And I try to do that in my marriage, and in my life, too--to say the hard things, and to also listen to the hard things about myself.  Because that is the only way to grow into better versions of ourselves.

Anywho.  Here is a little poem I wrote, along those lines.  

It's called, "On Marriage."

It's worth the toil, this quiet peace I feel with you.  
The days of struggle, of defining how this will work,
of establishing a new routine each era,
of date night fuss and working hard to make a connection--
it all seems so far away and needless 
when this beauty cycles back around.
My first thought each morning is ThankYouGod, 
for my wonderful husband and family,
and it's so easy.
But there were times of toil--hard times, of disconnection and jostling for power, 
and a desire to be right. 
That all seems so silly when I look back on it. 
Still, marriage is meant to keep us on our toes--
to not let us grow weary of being better each day.
Marriage is salvific--and you are the one helping me face demons, 
and I hope I help you.
Because no one else on this earth can see me so clearly,
can list my quirks and failings so comprehensively,
as the one I choose to see me through it all.
And no one else has given me more grace, either,
has shown me how Christ's love might really be--
all-knowing, and still all-loving--
except you.


Monday, March 2, 2015

Do What Spring Does

in my back yard
Spring is coming, coming quickly.  Here in California, it's upon us already.  On my morning walk, I couldn't get over all of the new blooms that have popped up overnight!  It's lovely to see the renewal.

And it got me thinking this morning as I was walking with my dog, that I, too, need renewal.  I need to allow myself to do what spring does.  I need to push away the old brown, decaying leaves that have covered up the beauty that is possible in my life, and make way for new green shoots, for new colorful buds.  I need to get rid of the patterns that keep me always in a hurry, always behind a step, always stressed, always anxious, and make room in my life for wandering, and thinking, and reflecting, and connecting with the ones I love, and being the person I want to be.  Because it's so easy, automatic almost, for my priorities to get covered with decaying leaves.

along our fence
Today, with my to-do list hitting 3 pages long (for reals!), and my dog needing to go to the vet (he has a scratch on his eyelid), and my daughter's orthodontist appointment looming at the end of the day, and with dishes and laundry and e-mails piling up every moment, I am going to try to take deep breaths, and revel in the fabulous deep kiss my hubby gives me as he heads to work, and the way my daughter's hair flies behind her as she rides her scooter to school, and how my sweet dog chooses to lay on the thin kitchen rug just so he can be close to me as I work even though there are a hundred more comfy cushions and blankets for him all over the house.  And as I write IEPs and do all of the boring paperwork that comes with being an SLP, I will picture the grinning faces of my students when they learn a new word or say their /s/ sound just right. And that will be me, doing what spring does.

Because renewal doesn't mean my whole life changes, that the muddle of deadlines and chores and hard things goes away.  Renewal means that I push these things aside for tiny moments, that I focus briefly on what means the most for just long enough to let the green shoots of gratefulness break through the hard ground of my busy life.  Drawing our attention to beauty, that is what spring does.




How will you invite renewal into your life this week?