Wednesday, December 31, 2014

three hundred and sixty five

When you break a year down into days, it doesn't seem like much. Three hundred and sixty-five is not very many, especially when you think of all that can fit in the half-of-it during which we are awake. This year, and each day in it, spilled over with what filled me, us, the schedule, up.

2014 began and with it came a ring unlike the others. Boyfriend turned Fiance. Girlfriend turned Bride. Certainty now had a public symbol, one I wore on my left hand. Rings like these bring in a rush of everything: peace, joy, purpose. There's planning to be done and beauty to maintain and tradition to honor. Through the rush, we kept our eyes on each other. Through the pressure building, we held each other's shoulders up. Our hands did part to do the work, but they always came back together. For this, I am humbled & grateful.

I haven't written about our wedding day just yet. One would think - and I did, too - that marriage would be my main reason to speak, before and once it happened. But actually, I've been having some difficulty fitting our day, and especially our relationship, onto a page, inside some alphabet and letters, marked with the dirt of grammar and structure and limited time. The sound of clicking keys, pen on page, pencil led a-marking; I love them all. But none of them can tell you what it meant to marry my husband, and what it means to me to be his wife. I suppose if you could crawl in here, camp out in the deep reaches of my soul, breathe the fresh air he moves into my spirit; maybe then you'd grab an inkling. But it would still lack. He doesn't fit in a sentence, paragraph, page, poem, book series, library, planet. When time rushes on, we keep our eyes on each other. Though pressure likes to build, we hold each other's shoulders up. If I have to pick between anything and him, I choose him. When I do have to go away, I bring what I can of him with me.

This year has been good and blessed, but each day has brought its own version of groundwork. You can not build on sand, and so we've found ourselves sifted. Sometimes a little, sometimes all at once. We've watched our community both rally and reel, as birth and death, each in their own turns, take breaths. We've felt our grip on each other tighten, both with gratitude and, if we're honest, fear of loss. I've locked myself away and opened my heart just as swifly; so fickle is my hope, for humanity, for myself. I've been gracious and I've been rude; I've been a mama bear and I've bitten my tongue, and I've acquired a taste for the mouth-blood earned by restraint.

Even more, I've watched my family and friends navigate these days, dark and light as they are. This year, in its fullness, is done now. The good things, the anchors, we keep in celebration. The bad can not be reversed, though some reversals would save us. What we didn't do wasn't done. What we live for will find our hearts mended, if we live well; our buried desires will stay where we put them, for now.

What did come from this latest set of three hundred and sixty five? Every time the morning unwrapped itself, it became something. Each day is a package full of moments, and we caught things in the snare of time well spent. Sure, some things have slipped, but if you look at your net you'll see it is glittering; most of what you need is right here. We miss those who are gone (oh god, do we miss them), but so much of what they gave us is found when grace, in turn, finds us. Grace finds us in the still-here hands of those we love.

2014 was the year of the knee-bend.  Humility, gratefulness, turmoil, beauty, prayer: much of what was experienced kept our limbs on the ground. As we carry on with what 14's days gave us, we send a kiss into the wind of what took place, as we ready ourselves for another year.

It only takes twenty-four hours to spin the planet. Just think of how much change could be headed our way.  So much good to be found in this next set of days; let's help each other look for it.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

for auld lang syne, my dear

Though memories are made, forgot, and kept in hearts, entwined; though hope does come and go a lot, joint efforts soul-deep bind. Stay with the hearts who heal you, leave the pains from past behind. Let love break your heart and then rebuild you over time. The moment shows it's weaknesses, so hold it gently, let it win, remember all the good there's been, for auld lang syne.

antonio de simone

 until i write about all of the things, I'll write, vaguely, about some of them.
blessed december to each of you, each in your own way;
may it be blessed in the way you need it.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

it is well

Winter comes and with it comes the weather: whether rain or snow, grateful sunshine, crisp air, darker days, awakening breaths. Both the good and the bad draw us inward, toward family or solitude, staying home, admiring window panes. The winter invites hibernation, introspection, inner-self-exploration. It also invites discovery. Think of unwrapped gifts, recipes pulled from a hot oven, shoveled walkways, novel pages. There are relationships to deepen, sort out, let go of, admire. There are tests on patience, providence, people skills. Need arises in a new way, gets highlighted, our radios are rampant with opportunities to give. As much as we spend the winter days indoors, much is pulled from within to get through it. Don't forget that. You are strong and will survive this season, and good will come, is here, has happened to get you to it.

I admit it: I keep forgetting about the hope that comes in with the cold. Rather: I've been reading the news a lot. Is this stuff always happening, or has the world been shaking with unrest in a new way, lately? Children everywhere, such injustice, such horror taking their lives. What those children, men and women must have gone through in their last moments here on earth. It draws the breath & stops the heart to think of it. My eyes close at my own feelings of helplessness; nothing can be done from here. Every day I tune in, a new (and yet, old familiar) form of brokenness takes the spotlight. Poverty of spirit, and depravity of mind & moral seem to be winning out, ending the innocent. Right and wrong have become a matter of personal benefit; no longer is Right out to help the others. Right is ownership, a stronger hand, a louder voice, a bigger gun. Right is MY RIGHT, and not necessarily right at all. Affronts to justice are committed by everyone, and admitted by few. Humility is a lost art.

It is well with my soul. These words from an old hymn, once easily spilled off my tongue, are now an echo bouncing. Is it, really? I've been turning that phrase around a lot. It is well. How do I feel about this phrase? On its surface it is confusing. Death is not well, tragedy is not well, not heartache, or discord, or unrest. But then, The waves & wind still know his name, don't they? I've heard this so much, and yet I wonder: what happens when the mountain stands firm in front of our nation, our kids, our families? What happens when the sea doesn't swallow our pain?

As it turns out, It is well is as ironic as faith itself. Faith is best displayed in hardship, perhaps peace is, too. The only way I can be well is when I stop trying to climb the mountains on my own. I can not move them, I can only sit humbly at the bottom, and look up. Peak to peak to peak, Hope rises like sunshine, twinkles like stars.

I was talking to my little darling a few weeks ago about space. We were talking about planets, clouds, weather. She wished aloud that the stars would be in the sky all the time, she loved them so much. I took great joy in telling her: sweetie, the stars are always there, even when we can't see them. The earth is surrounded, at all times, by little lights. The only reason we can't see them is because the sun is too bright.

If I admire anything about creation, it's this: light is always there. It changes form, and colors the morning, the afternoon, the evening, the night differently; but light is light regardless. Clouds may cover it, daytime heat may dwarf it (but even daytime heat is light), and nights get longer in certain seasons, but light, put simply, is. Always.

When I can not reconcile my heart to the mountain, I reconcile instead, to light. I take my heartache out, point to the sky, and ask it to believe again.

Wherever you find yourself this Christmas, whether in joy or question marks, look for the light in your world. It may be as tiny as a star, but it, most certiainly, is.

Friday, December 12, 2014

a little wind

the sun, the waves, the wind: by Steffi Au Fotografie
: on flickr

every time it's windy
i am moved
     and assume    the wind is
for me;   change,

it says.

every time it's windy on     my    street
i am      moved   
                            as i think
how    the     wind      is   moving
on everyone's street
knocking  everyone's windows
lifting everyone's            feet.

every     time
    the wind   moves
                me         i     stand
where i am   i stay  put    and    lean
              i put foot to     land

    i   am   calmed   when   i   breathe
        through the    pressure     rushing
             and all around  beseeching me
                                               to stop.

Pay attention to the signs         
                                          the broken branches
            the apprehensions in the trees
              swaying this way and                            crack!

        Do you see what it means?   Do you see what happens when the growth
        from the roots refuses to glean from     age old   wisdom:   be    willing
                                       to move    when the wind does
                                                                 or you'll break
                                                                     into threes

          Part one: what was          Part two: what grew    
                                                                                     Part three: split by force

every time  it's windy    i can see    that a little    wind    is  nothing to be    afraid of:

    a fourth thing surprises, at least eventually:  new where broken,  in the air: peace.

© afterthought composer

Thursday, December 11, 2014

take your blessings as they come

It seems as though each angered swing t'ward the heavens is answered in some funny form: a flock of birds over the sunrise, a touch in perfect time, a needed conversation. Tempting, perhaps, to ask what in the heck flying birds have to do with sorrow. The answer is: practically nothing. But, if you're anything like me, you've got your own version of a signal, your own soul-deep way of telling if the world will swallow your whole heart, or not.

Let's call them there birds: air bubbles. A puff to the face from a God who's got the world in tow.  Let's call the hand on my shoulder a rapid awakening, as if sadness were a dream, and happy-abilities were a dream within it. Parking lot talking and office escapees and letters in the mail: all service the reminder need. It's easy to feel forgotten when you forget yourself. How gracious, then, that I'm not forgotten; I'm not alone on the earth. How gracious I've got people to poke holes in my solitudium, every now and again. Else, I'd swallow my heart whole (or not).

So, it's been a good week. I've been lifted. But,

I'd be lying if I said I no longer desired an Encouraging Word of Biblical Proportions. Where are my open-faced rocks and dancing columns of  lava, my doormats watered by heaven, and not by the Vancouver rain? And where, hello, are the visions of my enemies, being tossed about in a sea recently parted?

Yes, I would find that encouraging.

Maybe it's generous of Him, then, to stay silent. As it turns out, if He truly spoke I'd light on fire. And if I'm honest, I usually assume his speaking = Worst Case Scenario of Biblical Proportions Wherein God Takes Away to Teach Lesson. If that's true, his silence is especially generous.

Because I've got myself afraid of hearing Jesus, I'll settle for wing-ed things and quiet drips of water, distant voices, muffled by the chasm of the creation of my brain. I'll breathe & bathe in the fresh air of all I've been given. I'll hope, because hope is one of the many good things. I'll pray; on the periphery.


Monday, December 8, 2014

seriously considering alcoholism

I probably don't mean that. I probably mean that I'd like an easy form of escape. The title's suggestion is not truly easy, and I know that, but it does take less time to drink a drink than it does to nap, go on vacation, watch a whole TV series, eat an ice cream cake. But I should be clear, since certain people I know will print this out and bring it to their lawyer as PROOF SHE'S A TERRIBLE MOTHER/WIFE/HUMAN BECAUSE LOOK WHAT SHE WROTE ON HER BLOG: I'm just kidding about the alcoholism.

In a time of life where Life is unrelentingly busy and I can't stop it, where the perverted, maniacal little clowns keep throwing shit in the fan and aiming it right at my face, and The Great Doctor feels it necessary to dump all of the salt in my raw, raw, wounds: tell me why the sermon was about rest and peace, and how those who receive the two are under the favor of God and those who do not receive them are not in the favor of God. Dear Jesus, do you really think I needed to feel abandoned about something else?

I digress. Jesus has it out for my sanity. He has a serious hate-on for my comfort zones, boundary lines, requests for progression, positive feelings about humanity. He continually turns my sweet, healing water into acid (for the record, I'm the one who turns that acid into whine).

The problem is, you can't love God and people and wear a protective sleeve over your heart. It doesn't work that way. You can either be gracious through the pain, or set the boundary for next time. You can either be honest about your love, or lie to protect yourself. Self-preservation and generosity of spirit don't mix. In fact, self-preservation doesn't mix with anything, except bitterness, greed, nashing teeth, haphazard soap-box construction, and confessional booths I make myself, wherein I try to hear God over my reactions.

I guess I'm waiting for something more than a whisper. Threads are hard to hold on to. Where are the grand gestures, winds of change, holy fire-pillars, parting seas? Where are the angels with messages just for me? They're in a book, on a page, and even there, I can not find them.

amazing photo: credit:

Thursday, December 4, 2014

something to write about; writing about something

I've been wondering lately - well, not only lately, but especially lately - if I am addicted to the treacherous. Hear me out. My life is easy. Embarrassingly easy. Not only in comparison to the rest of the world, but especially in comparison to the rest of the world. Basic needs are met with ease for me, the only squeezing comes when I buy myself too much stuff. I enjoy a plethora of little luxuries. My question of addiction comes from the awareness that, for the past few years at least, it has been much easier for me to write when things are difficult, and much more difficult to write when they are not. I have developed a habit of swinging my words, with some force at, or in direct reaction to, the changing winds. Though I don't depend on faulted cues, unfortunate coincidences, and angry people, I have certainly used the existence of all these things as a crutch for getting something on the page. I miss the days when the wind could come or go and I'd be writing anyway. I miss those days.

I have just begun part two (or rather, the second "part one") of a two-part book entitled HOW TO BE BOTH, by Ali Smith. It's a brilliant novel - and though I don't often swear (and especially not where my mom will read it), I feel I'm leaving something important out of my desciptor, by not using any swearwords. A bit of advice: don't read about it first. Just go buy it, open it, dive in. Reading anything on the amazon page, or elsewhere, especially comments and reviews, will ruin the experience of this piece (why I didn't include a link -- no snooping!). This book is one to be experienced without preperation.

Reading How to be Both, in its opening pages, annoyed me greatly. Here it is, you guys: a well-written stream-of -consciousness novel; a novel I have been told ad nauseum could not be written well. It's poetic and formula-breaking and really, really good.
I digress.

I am envious of those who create, whether by force or habit, and not by circumstance. It seems I am a circumstance writer, trying very hard to know how to write, no matter the circumstances.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

things I want.

days off hot coffee warm hugs fresh cookies apple pie fireplaces and tea
conversations long vacations day at the beach gin & grapefruit & lychee
new shoes plane tickets laughs reunions 'round a table by the sea
resurrection indespension fence rejection new leaves
frosted breath scarves mittens rest nose-tip reheat
park benches soul ascension city fall-scapes raw belief
cozy office blank pages lots of ink space left to just be

hopeful landings extra chances inspiration
time time time time time

photosource unknown. via pinterest.


Monday, November 17, 2014

hard to come by

I'm searching for catharsis this morning, in very weird places; I'm finding my own tiny versions of escapism. 
Blank Space on repeat. Sudoku puzzles. Large coffee. But none of it is working. There is no escape from the pain of losing a loved one.

My beloved little sister & brother-in-law, and our families, are greiving. After a long and brave battle, my brother-in-law's Mum has passed away. It's naive, and I know it, but I kept expecting her to just wake up, and come back to us.

Julie, we will miss you forever. You became and will always be a part of our family, and the space you leave will not be filled by anyone else. Julie is the type of woman who would become your mom if you didn't have one, a friend you'd been searching for, a safe haven. She'd graft herself in with a natural ease, to anyone: so joyful, and joyfully interested in people. Warm hugs and a belly laugh you could feel across continents. I will remember Julie for her light, so set was the sun on shining through her.

Nothing can be said to ease the loss. You - who you are - that's hard to come by.

aussie sunset, by holly (via instagram).

Saturday, November 15, 2014


set sail.
say hi.
ships in the night pass
by as the waves turn
our parallell lives
into one.

set sail,
side by side,
hands clenched,
heart drenched same as yours;
open opposite doors
to the greeting.

what was sure now turns happenstance
meeting; engine rooms buzz,
thoughts of what was;
what it is to be needing
the sunrise.

say hi, don't pass by.
set sail into the night
with me.

© afterthoughtcomposer
art source: unknown. via pinterest.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

for you

the writer & the darling six.
thank you to Doliente Lifestyle Photography
for catching this moment.
You turned my heart into an open door. Step through when you need it. If life rips you out, I'll hem you in again.

There are paths that take us where we would not have chosen to go. I will choose these paths, again. Not because they are only good, or bad, but because they and what they hold are needed. Parenting, and I daresay life, isn't about reward. It isn't even about sacrifice; though both of those things come and are required. Down in the roots that bind us, we do these things for you.

We have always, and continue, to use big words with you because you are smart enough; we have defined them for you and helped you spell and marvelled at your brilliance. In a grander sense, Life will give you big words, too. Of the ones you encounter, you'll understand very few of them right away. Grace. Forgive. Respect. Friendship. Trust. I can't keep you from the pain of them, or how often they'll be taught, but I can show you what they mean by the way I treat you, others, myself.

So, I will give you what I have. Some days, it doesn't feel like much. Other days, it won't be. When you are older I will tell you more. You are young, so I will tell you this: I am and will be here. I didn't give you the gift of your life, but by God's grace, I get to receive it. In return, you get me. Open arms, no conditions, and everything I have, to glean from. Instead of your being, I will push out poems for you: words and actions you can live by. True things. Bricks you can build yourself up with, steps to stand on, so you can gain the perspective you need to live well. You have your Daddy's eyes. In my own way, I hope to give you something of mine, and join him in teaching you to be kind. At your mother's breast you fed and grew. In my own way, through soul and spirit, I can offer mine. What are you hungry for? I will search all I have to find it for you.

Life is a funny thing, dove. We've all got grief and elation in our souls, and our own unique reasons to spend them. Give yourself room to be sad and room to get over it. Be happy, even when no one else is. Learn how to be still, so when life quiets you and others, you can be a part of it. Fill the pockets of your heart with the good, the giddy, the gracious. Let the Bad Stuff teach you; let those lessons be the only marker. Hang on to your ability to fill a room with joy; you are so, so good at it. If the shoes don't fit, don't be afraid to say so. Embrace the rain: without it, we could never puddle jump. Hold on to the hands that will hold you when the world is shaking or when the world is dull. Let go of the hands that shake your world, let go of the hands who block your light. You are remarkable. Until and beyond the time you know these things, I'm for you.

the song for now: you were born, by cloud cult

Friday, November 7, 2014

your best work

So far as I remember it, I'd been asked to collect rocks. With my blue Rubbermaid bin, I set off into the forest. Not knowing what kind of rocks I was to look for, I picked up everything odd: a purple misshapen one, a few small ones, maybe a green. I collected about twenty, as memory serves me. Mostly though, I took pictures. I lay on the mossy ground underneath dewy leaves and took pictures, ignoring the task at hand. When it came time to bring my work forward I got in line behind the others.

The man in front of me was dedicated. He looked to me like a mechanic might: blue coveralls dirtied with strain & effort. He had obviously put in his time. His Rubbermaid bin was filled up in the shape of risen bread, with tiny stones; each as uniform and as white as the ones around it. Perfection. The overseer saw his bin and said to him:

"This is exactly what I'm looking for, but this is all you've brought me, over and over. This is not your best work. Now go, and find me something else."

She sent him away, disheartened though he was at having missed the mark.

My turn next. I looked at my measly collection of stones. Surely, she would be disappointed in me, too. What had I done? I had taken pictures and meandered slowly; hesitant dedication, at best. She looked in, surveyed my work, and began to tell me what she was building. I was taken to her vision on a riverbend in the mountains; the houses and shorelines of what was to come. I knew then that she wasn't looking for me to fill a quota, at all. Rather, she was looking for me to bring her what she needed, to move beyond the scope of what was already there. She was looking for someone to join her in the work of dreaming big.

It was only a dream, but it makes me wonder: am I simply filling the quotas set out for me by my life? Or am I building into visions, futures, greater realities? Am I doing only what's required, or am I doing my best work?

PHOTO CREDIT: totororo on flickr, sea to sky highway, whistler.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

breaths and sighing

It is quite possible to go through life with ease.
Put simply: shut your heart off.
Detatch. Ignore. Run swiftly, strongly, to elusive horizons.
Grow wings. Fly away.

I've tried so hard to resist the tumult and as it turns out, it's irresistible. It's impossible to ignore. It creeps up and snatches the best and slaps you in the face and shakes you by the shoulders and says HEY, LIFE IS DIFFICULT. As a response, finally, I let go of my grip on the situation. I took that cliff dive and landed on what felt like rocks. I spoke truth into my heart when I couldn't hear it from anyone else, and I clung to my lifeline instead.

Peace is a funny thing. Like Grace, it shows up at the oddest moments. When I expected most to experience emotional demise, I was enveloped instead by a strange calm. Perhaps it was passivity, masquerading as peace, but it felt releasing nonetheless. You see, I think I've finally given up. Maybe I've settled on hope without fruition and work without pause.

There was a day quite some time ago, I took a walk in the Farmer's fields, along the dusted road and outward skirts of golden yellow. There, waiting for me, with my name on it, was a satchel. Rough fabric, loosely tied; full of seeds. Instinctively, I knew what each one was for. Though there were thousands of these tiny presents, my soul labelled each one with a specific purpose. Sow these, came a voice. Sow these.

So I did. I came back home from my walk, feeling quite hemmed in. My hands and heart were fresh and ready to plant. I'd been given a purpose, you see. When I looked, soil.

Sadly, some dirt isn't ready to be planted, and sometimes there are snakes in the garden. Many of those seeds, God-breathed, have dried up where I left them. Someone else stayed the water away from them so they'd die, and they died. My callouses are all for seeming naught.

I took another walk since then, and posted a sign where I first found promise. In that Farmer's field, a marker: these seeds didn't work.

A hand, then, pulling mine back open. Another satchel. Rough fabric, loosely tied, and full of seeds. As it turns out, there's more to be done.

song of the moment: up we go, by Lights.
stunning photography by journeyseye

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

what it feels like to forgive

Terrible, if we're honest. Before it's done, most certainly, and oft' times during. Awful. Not-human. Against the instincts. But, as it turns out, it's necessary - like birth, perhaps. It's a string-cut. Forgiveness is a dark-blind, hand-tied cliff jump into brilliant abyss and cool water. Forgiveness is an outside force that moves in when we let it. Though it is for others, it is for me; to be released, to experience freedom, to be healed. Healing requires pain, or do you really think that freefall and smack into water (no matter how cool) will feel good on the open wounds? No no. It's terrible. It's awful. It splits you up, into pieces sometimes. But it's necessary. And once that water sews you, keeps you liquid, quenches your thirst for righteousness - though there's been no righteous act but the one you've just agreed to -  the pain begins to subside. Slowly, of course; water takes its time to run deep. But, go away it does, in chunks, day by day, bit by conversational bit. Nothing outside has changed at all, but my heart has joined up with itself again, stretched & breathed after a long nap, re-appeared from it's hibernative state. My cheeks have color and food has appeal. Baby-steps have regained my admiration. Here we go, again.

ARTWORK: Obsolete World. "Flight of the Recently Departed." Sourced HERE.

Friday, October 3, 2014

step-mothering and sacrifice: a post I wasn't expecting so soon.

Is it any wonder that birth requires unspeakable pain? It's meant to be. It's inevitable. Some die from the experience, and yet we do it. We look at new life and think, I want that, no matter the cost.

Don't kid yourself. Step-mothering requires it's own special kind of birthing pains. You carry a child in your heart who will fall her loyalty elsewhere. No matter how many times her mother calls her fat. It doesn't matter that you would never do that. She will love that woman. She will prefer that woman. That woman will snake herself in and make sure the child knows veto power, manipulative gestures that undermine love. I'm not sure what you've been told, but love isn't enough. Not when it comes to being a stepmother.

You must choose grace and silence, even when your tongue is bleeding from the chew. You must choose a humble bow when your character is thwarted. You must open your gates to the one who will seed her bitterness into your living room. When the little one, for whom you would die, cuts your heart with the betrayal of her birthright, you must remember: this is all acceptable. You did not become a stepmother to make yourself a replacement. You are, instead, a renewal and a support.

She may never love me like I love her. I took her on not because she is my own, but because I vowed to love her like she is. This means I don't tear down her character, even though I know now that she is hearing, on the off-weeks, how to tear down mine. This means I don't twist her words, though she is learning by wrote to twist mine. This means I will stand firmly with my husband, rattle the gates with him, until she hears the truth, sees who she is, stands on her own. No matter how many times I die in the process. Because none of this, none of this, is her fault.

Dear daughter, 
May you one day recognize that we don't tear you down
or tell you to diet
or remove your loyalty by force
or take advantage of your good heart
or get jealous of your loveliness.
We love you.

Enough with the counterfeit. Take our hands, darling. Let's fly through the debris together.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

approaching 31 on stilts

Well now, I've gone quite awhile without writing on here. I'm squeaking this post in at the last summer minute, sliding my foot over the sun-faded, dusty line. I have been writing a lot, but it's all been to-do lists, budgets, to-do lists, organizational emails, cries for help & attempts at delegation, and to-do lists. My slow meandering thoughts of norm have been replaced by frenzied urgency: much to be done! Fifteen days until I happily tie the knot. Nineteen days until I take another step into this decade. I usually mark my birthday with a post. Je serai sur ma fa├žon de manger des macarons when the clock strikes thirty-one, so I'm posting this now. Happy new year. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go ahead and get married to the absolute Best.

Approaching 31 on Stilts (a tall girl poem).
Because I've got a giant writer-crush on Kimberly Kaye.
Her 31 poem kills this one into a million pieces and sends it to the wind.

My legs haven't grown, and they didn't need to;
I've been baring my ankles and dusting the top shelf
since the age of twelve. Class photo: back middle.
School dance: accessory to the wall. My shoulders
met the ceiling like Alice, and I waited
for the catch-up.

Three decades gone and I'm still a tall order,
particular & gangly,
stretched & capacitous & on my own eye-level.
I've long had the view and I finally use it:
patient strides on legs well worn and used, now, to
bridging distances; puddle leaps, deep snow,
flooding window wells and trips to the mailbox.

I long wondered what my long legs were for
and now I know: they're stems
made for the roots my life has given me.
They're for wrapping you up,
taking on the world with you,
standing cooly in the waves, feet buried,
my bones like weeds in the water; ever flexible.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

two notes

the slip the trip
the absent mind
the quarter turn
unheard rewind
the healing songs
we long to find in
accidental dissonance
the way we've been
and who we are
the open heart
the closing scar
there's more to miss
and less on par in
accidental dissonance
we stand we break
we empty out
we let our love
loud for us shout
against the rails
that hold us in
our accidental dissonance

art by Julie Morstad at
poetry ©afterthoughtcomposer

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Bridezilla Commencing


It's quite possible
to spend your life
and reasonable

then, as the date creeps closer
to feel the mad push
of a world full of brides
and those who instruct them
to get crazy

the details and the process are fun
but could, if you aren't careful
push you
into that swirling pool of white

dresses and icing
gift tags and paper choices
linens and sugar flowers
and centerpiece madness


fall into that whirlwind with joy on your lips
take pleasure in the calming hand
at rest upon your hips
(simple things)

let each element
wave or burn on its own
because some will,
and some won't

nevertheless, at the end of that day
you'll be married anyway 


Saturday, June 28, 2014

keep hoping, st francis.


"Pilgrimage" - Oil on Belgian Linen: Arturo Samaniego. Link.
Dear Friend,

That's enough, now. It's time for you to stop it. Everything they told you, every bit of praise that passed you by, every measure you didn't meet? Hurtful, deeply rooted with the passing of time, but false or falsely blamed on you. Why give them permission to keep you where they put you? Stand up, for God's sake...for your sake. For ours.

We can see it, you know; that slope you're on. That devastating pull to your underground. I can feel your clawing, even when you can't. We're watching you die, and you have no idea.

I thought about handing you this letter, but even then, I don't think you'd realize it was for you. It wouldn't sink in, because you can't let anything sink in anymore. So I'm sending it to space instead, hoping the stars will shine to tell you: that's enough.

Our love for you is big, but the well we reserve for tears is running dry. How much longer can we watch you give up on yourself? How many times more should we ask you to be honest, to do the work, to live freely in the soul you won't accept? Should we still have to ask you to be loving toward us, even when you don't love yourself? Or should we still have to ask you to love yourself. You don't even see how you could help the world by showing it what you're made of; you see a shadow where we see radiant light.

Admittedly, communal grace is running out. Most of them are tired of trying to reach you. Your saviors have become embittered; martyrs for the cause of seeing you thrive, though it doesn't work. Because you don't believe you'll thrive, you also refuse to. I'm not sure you know you refuse to.
It's okay to be finished with the lower hand, the prostrate, the silent, still, apathy. It's okay to say, "You know what? Watch me" whenever you're told No. The people who should have prepared you, didn't. The people who should have prepared for you, didn't. So here you sit, having survived your certain past. Nothing you swallow, no bitter pill, no bile, no sentence, can change that. It's already done. What isn't done yet is your life. You've got too many years left to watch them go like this. And we've got too much invested to let you.

There is a love hidden inside your borders, just waiting to be realized, so keep hoping -listen here.
I hear that song like a prayer for you. Maybe like the quakes of San Fransisco you'll let your pressure go, shake the dust, and settle into yourself again.

I keep hoping.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

I'll be alright

All the broken hearts in the world still beat, let's not make it harder than it has to be... I've got two hands, one beating heart, and I'll be alright. 
~Ingrid Michaelson, Girls Chase Boys
photo by Tamlyn Rose
Isn't it funny how a song can lift you?
Where are my dancing shoes,
I need to get up and move.
Where are my pens & pages?
There is a world to be written.
Something new begins;
I press play and the Universe forgives me
for my faults this morning.
Heaven skips stones and it sounds like melody,
rhythm, beat. Carefree.

There is so much wrong with the planet, and the weight of everything cements my shoulders in an eventual slump. Rest is elusive; Peace, a tricky bastard to catch.

A couple of days ago, there was a flash rainstorm above our part of the city. I've not seen or heard the skies like that since my time in Tornado Valley, USA.  It started, and my chest caught on a word & worry: windows. Windows. An odd feeling, but I stood on the porch for a few minutes to try and clear it, staring intently at the rain, made sure our cars were all closed, checking my intuition against what I saw. Satisfied I must be paranoid, I went back in. I stood and listened, said out loud, I love rain like this. Fifteen minutes later, due to Grace alone, we discover a flooded window well downstairs, and a quickly flooding basement.

Rainboots fill easily, but I wore them anyway as I stood thigh deep in the water-filled window well, chest deep as I bent to find what should have been a working drain. Our roof was a waterfall to the spot, and I, underneath it. Frantic and purposeful, I managed to clear the rocks away from the drain cover (they'd been dislodged by the sheer volume of water landing heavy on them). I helped the water escape down it's intended path, away from the house.

When you ask the world to shake, it just might. If you ask it to be still, it might quiet you yet. Sometimes I feel like that window well; I was given all the right parts at the factory, but the water in the world overwhelms me, dislodges my intentions. I mean to hold up my end of the bargain, but I end up spilling in all the wrong areas.

Admittedly, there was something healing about that waterfall hitting my back, the cold up too high on my legs. It was cleansing, almost. I've been so tired, the heavy wet awoke me. The shock of cold and water was so tangible, I felt human. I've been feeling so uncontained, the vision of our overflowing window felt like a prophetic dream come alive. A sign so clear I've pinched my heart for days. Watch your perimeters. Follow your instincts. Jump in, the house is flooding.

It's easy to get down on ourselves for the basements of our lives - all that dark space we normally avoid, or thought we'd use. But think of this: without our foundations (no matter what they're made of) our houses would sit on nothing; we would give way to the rain, and we'd crumble. Maybe that sense of urgency we have about our faulted selves is a blessing. Take a look at the storm above your head, in your chest, your belly, your gut, under your feet. You've seen it. Now, follow your instincts. We'll never get a hold of Peace if it's the only thing we're chasing. We've got to do the work of healing, too.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

there, through the glass

In a dream the answer came;
in the midst of my frustration,
my convulsive inner shaking,
spiritual retreat.

What should I do!
I gripped her shoulders;
shook her 'til she came to life
and pointed down the corridor,
to the window, the sun,
beckoning peace;

"kiss the wind,"
  she said to me.

photo credit Stephen Alkire

Thursday, June 5, 2014

a sky full of stars and a tiny planet

by siiso
I wasn't ready for it, even after weeks of unsettled feelings and a growing awareness. A recent morning met me with a reminder: that dark chapter? It happened. In a place I thought was absent of the realities of my world, there the glass was broken. That dark chapter? It happened.

Oh. The roots.
Poisoned though they are,
deep as I've hidden them,
there they sit.

At the public mention of an old name, I caught my tears, but in privacy a few soon fell. It's not an easy task, you know, to be broken and then to rebuild, and then at the height, to realize you still need fixing.  I was not as broken as many have been, and this makes me feel weaker, this weak feeling; everything I became feels unwarranted.

In the space between then (that old name and that dark chapter) and now, this aspect of my life has been a quiet pool of healing waters, and for this I am eternally grateful. Lately I've seen ripples, though: inside each crowd now are familiar faces from a time long past. Near misses. Names that roll like bile off the tongue. For awhile there was a pause on these encounters; like noise cancelling headphones, but for people. It seems the pause is over: God or The Universe is shaking my interplanetary dust, poking me in the eye with certain remains. Turns out, my world is still too small to let these people back in.

I wasn't ready for the reminder, and this concerns me. Isn't it bizarre that we can be walking in cool breezes, hair and clothes a-billowing in happier winds, when BOOM, our faces hit the sidewalk. What tripped us? Reality, maybe; a memory, encounter, conversation. Life continues, even when we expect it to stop and let us doddle around in bliss.

by siiso
For about a week now, I've had a shamrock on my desk. The little plant was dying in my coworker's corner, and so she nestled it up to Phoebe, my succulent, and there they sit, buddies under my sunlight lamp. Apparently, the shamrock has found it's happy place. What was once a pot of soil with two megre leaves has become a wellspring of life -- tiny sprigs grow every day. Right now there are nine new stems, each in different phases of development. All of them have shown up in the last three days. Each day, in the order they came, they get a little taller.

As I sat here just now, staring intently at each new bud, my nose inches from the pot, I wondered if this is how God does it. I wonder if he takes us from our dark corners and puts us close by, on his desk, where he can keep his eye on us; his nose one inch away from the pot. I wonder if each sign of life makes him giddy, or thankful, or calmed somewhat about the insignificant thing that's growing before him.

I wonder, too, if he hears us as we push our way through the dirt, still recovering from our time in the shadows. When our tenderness remains apparent, and we get taller anyway (because this is our nature), does he stop the wind, does he keep us in the light, or does he tear up our roots so we might lose pieces of ourselves all over. Is the ground beneath our lives meant to shake?
I can't answer these questions just yet.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

making it work

What is more beautiful than an artist, fully immersed in, and enjoying, her own work? Not much. We went to see Chersea at the Biltmore last night. Click her name & make your first audio stop on the song "I could lose it all."

This girl has won competitions and audiences with her mad skills & abilities. Earlier this year, I became quite obsessed with the CBC Searchlight competition - an annual Canadian music hunt put on by my favorite broadcaster. Here is where I discovered Chersea, and from there I went on to scour the internet for references, recordings, & links. Tip: Google search, Chersea, Wolf. You're welcome.

What's my point. While I'm in danger of becoming a very dorky fangirl -- yes, I hung out by her table and waited for her to sign my freshly minted copy of her new EP -- I do have a reason for bringing her up.

This girl works. Lyrics with weight to them, musicality with thought, performance with energy and precision. So while I'm grooving at my desk again to her music, I'm thinking about my own goals, and how far I am from them. The thing is, art requires all of this -- effort, thought, energy & purpose -- and I am far from filling the requirement. I'm a bit aimless at the moment. So while I still can't write anything brilliant, I can point you to someone who has figured out how to work for her art, and in turn, has made it work for her.

Saturday, May 24, 2014


If you came here hoping this post would be of some interest, you'd be wrong. I'm in a slump, a lull, a silent mind-cycle. One day I might figure out what I'm doing with all these years of Promises for Pages, but today is not the day. Today the cursor blinks, the keyboard gathers dust, the pencil breaks because I've tossed it against a wall.

Other people are writing. Go there, to where the words have purpose.

photo source

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mother's Day

The word Mom, in its classical definition, and for the most part, has positive connotation. Birth begets Motherhood; newness makes a mom exist as such. Mom is universal; we all have one. No matter the relationship, healthy or hard, present or past or carried in a heartbeat, our mothers are there. We cannot deny them, even if we want to. If that denial becomes necessary, it requires great healing. Mom is undeniable, it's a word that super-glues it's captors. Genetics demand this connection.

For many, this is a day of celebration. Those who've given birth and those by whom another woman's birthing have recieved a child, everyone called MOM, are held aloft, and they should be! Such great work, tremendous love, and sacrifice are the stuff of their lives. For this, we honor and thank you.

For those who miss their mothers, and those who've missed out on being one, this can be a sad day if the pain is still too much. For those who've never known their mothers, or have known only abuse from their mothers, this day can widen the rift or remind of it. But even when distance and circumstance seperate us from them, they are still our mothers, and we are still partly them, here because of them, alive because they carried us. It's unbreakable.

Because these things are true, I have, as a new Step Mom, had my qualms about this day's arrival. As if there's something in the title, and the celebration, that I have no right to mention. By birth right, name, and classic definition, this day is not for me.

Since the beginning of these little Steps, I've been quite insistent that she can choose me when she wants me; that I'll be here for her, take care of her, and love her without condition or restraint, but I won't ever force her to make me feel good about my role. She didn't ask for my arrival, and I want to remain sensitive to that. To be clear, she loves me and I love her and we have a healthy, fun, honest thing going. But we started from scratch on that. Some days, when her questions get big and I'm not ready for them, we start from scratch all over.

Unlike Motherhood, which is born, Step-Mothering is made. There's nothing intrinsic that holds us together. We don't look alike, share blood, retain a subconscious sense of belonging. And in my case, her birth-mom is very involved and present. So where does this leave me? My heart pumps like she is mine, and I live as if she is. Most of the time, that chosen atmosphere is strong enough.

Some time ago, I was thinking on the word Step Mom. How is this word defined? My first thoughts went to Cinderella. We know her step mother well. This version's definition? Evil. I thought next of the well-known movie about a Step Mom, of the same name. This version's definition (at least initially)? Turmoil. Distrust. Difficulty. Anywhere my mind went, I ran into negative connotation. At first, I was saddened by these thoughts. And then, it hit me.

Her definition of the word won't come from a movie or a book. It'll come from me.

And maybe that's the thing that I've stuck to as I prep my heart for today, whatever comes. I am the only person who can truly show her what it means to be a Step Mom. I am the only Step Mom she's got, and dammit, I'm a good one. My actions come from love even when things in her world tell her I'll act otherwise. I'm not a classical definition, but I'm me and I am a part of her life, and I get to show her what that means.

To some, I might be a Step, but to me, I'm a mom. Happy Mother's day, then. Happy Mother's day to me.


photo source

Saturday, May 10, 2014

thinking of those people who don't know us anymore

Who am I?
The sum of many parts, yes,
but not an equation.
For who I am, there is no simple,
no solution.
Many problems, yes,
but plenty good and whole pieces
cause the others to fit,
even the quirks and tics.

The fabric of my being is wrinkled,
and smooth.
Who am I to me?
Who am I to you?

What if a truck, or a fist, or a strain,
came along and struck me,
tore the fabric in half.
Would I be Me the same?
Would I be who I am? Would I be me, to you?

Or do I change some.
Does my Being go, too.

Am I me if, in time, I lose sight of the past, grip too hard (because I have to),
or forget when we laughed?
Is my soul's core unaltered if, in old age, I forget where my keys are,
or my children's first names?

What if insanity breaches,
unhealth finally reaches
me, comes to loosen the threads,
Will you see me as me? Or do we change some.

Do we untangle?
Do we Become, Stop, or are we Always?
Do we let go, or are we forced?

Would you still call my name
if I forget it,
and you, and life,
and who
I am?

Monday, April 28, 2014

short life

Life is short, the end comes quick,
so walk life's field,
filled with every option,
and be wise to pick
the good stuff.

Better steps, more gracious phrases,
more standing up for other's places,
empty viles and empty hateds,
full-hand, full-heart, whole embraces.

Draw your lines in sand and stone,
keep the stronger ones around your home;
the softer lines can bend and sway
around opinions, rightness, angst;
but strong home walls defend your own.

Remove your heart's walls once you've grown,
see the rivers, valleys, lakes;
see Life's field,
filled with every option,
and be wise to pick
the good stuff.

© afterthoughtcomposer

Premonition is an odd experience. The hairs on your arms raise up, heat forms on the back of your neck, and you...snap a photo of that beloved one, take a different route to work, make that phone call. You don't realize it until later (and how could you, with sanity, realize it before), but that was the last picture taken of him; you avoided an accident, probably; that conversation was the last you'd have. Premonition is an odd experience, a bizarre gift, a bloody miracle. Especially when we're talking about life and death.

Admittedly, conversations about death always give me brain fog and shrinking lung capacity. I get so nervous that this topic, Life Is Short, is coming at me because my life, or a loved one's, will be short. Someone brings the ideas forward, we commune around the same table of awe and sadness, and my insides sit in a silent, forboding revery: I am suddenly very aware of the thin glass floor beneath our feet, houses, cars.

Life is short. I can hear the second hand, pulsing through my life.

Since I was young, very young, in fact, I have assumed that my life would be short. Perhaps it can all be linked to my naive paranoia, my wholehearted convincetude that God is more interested in cheating me out of old age than letting me experience it (because I really, really want to live for a long time). Regardless, and because of whatever motivates me, I am usually attaching weight to circumstances that others might pass over. For me, premonition is oft' confused with my own special mix of superstition and religious confusion.

But on the flip side, I have had some genuinely odd experiences. I have taken that photo. I've skipped my normal route to see smoke on the other hillside (though, that last sentence is a metaphor for what actually happened). Graciously, I've never had that phone call, though I know of some who have. And for what? The lengthening of my own life, the capturing of another? What makes one moment more significant than the previous? And which is more potent than the last? How are we to know in advance? There are so many questions, too many perhaps, but life is so full of questions you could fill a life just by asking. I digress; I'll make statements instead.

The antidote for my anxiety seems to be found in statements, anyway. Statements like, "I love you," or "I'm listening," or "Welcome." Soaking the soul in life's beauty tends to have a calming effect. I can not control life, and my arms are too small to carry everything. Instead I'll stay open to whatever I can hold, and be ready to bask in the greatness of whatever I can't. Why do I get to have this child in my arms, this Love in my heart, this strong hand in mine? Why do I get to feel the sun's heat on my face, see the horizon, behold it's mystery? I don't know, but I'll sink myself into it, anyway. Life may be short, but my God, is it ever sweet.

photo source: heavilyblunted

Thursday, April 24, 2014

There you are.

It's taken me years to find you, Life's Elusive Pause Button. But now I know, you smell of heat and sunblock. You feel like sand on my skin, warm air off the ocean's happy hello. Waves leap for my feet on the shore and I, at rest, watch and listen. I can't take in the sea and palms all at once, but you don't ask me to.

You let me wander in slowly, starting me off with warm rain and fragrant breezes at night. You woke me up the next morning by not waking me at all, but letting me sleep until I felt it was time, perhaps, to move. The sun calls me out each day now, but only once I stir, and holds me the minute I'm up and kisses my head, my arms, my toes. The whole of this place delights in my slow steps, happy sighs, quietude.

You are here and now I've found you.
 You are Maui.


Sunday, April 13, 2014

48 hours is longer than you think

It's scary to love someone this much. My whole self is tied tight to him, and my heartstrings are alive with music; music which is both comforting and frightfully raw. Minutes apart feel like days, and don't get me started on days apart. All those taught strings are ready to be played by his laughter, hands, decisions, but he is way over there. So the orchestra in my chest switches tunes; they play the strings of solitude, for a song I no longer want to recognize. The music is good but seemingly unfamiliar; distant reminders of what came first. I will listen, because I have no choice, but I can't get his song away from me. He's every echo and every note, and am happily caught up in the music of his life. It will all be foreign if it is not him.

drawing cred: unknown

Saturday, March 22, 2014


Peeking my head above water briefly to say: there are a lot of things happening and I can almost manage to do them all. In order to accomplish everything, I've been giving my sleep-hours away to the Universe; someone else can use them, I just don't have time. I've been laughing a lot, because laughter drains the tub a bit. Thankfully, I've got a love who wraps me in joy and humor on the double when I'm stressed out. When that doesn't work, he wraps me in hugs. That always works.

I've been taking juggling lessons, dance lessons, get-up-and-hop-to-it lessons. I've been stacking, combing, stirring and setting down. Our schedule and to-do lists have lit their overloaded circuits on fire, and it's a good thing, even if it means the floors don't get swept quite as often. Because there's so much to do, there's much to notice. Nothing quite like Busy to make you squeeze a moment for all it's worth. Madness makes the quiet minutes poignant, slower; fresh dewdrops on the dawn of another busy day. Here we go, Love, I'm ready because you are. That look you give me will get me through the day.

I've been trying to figure out how to administrate life, to organize, to get done, all the while taking pauses to enjoy the things that can't be scheduled or re-scheduled: Darling Six's laughs and stories, Dog's admiring glances and longings to be nose-to-shin, the neverending need I have to be close to my love, to hear his thoughts on the day. Even though there's laundry to fold and hours to spend tasking, these little pieces make it all worthwhile. Those pieces aren't little at all, either, they are in fact the driving force for much of our lives. I love you, so I will accomplish. I love our family, so I will do. I love who we are together, so I will put my stuff down and snuggle you to sleep. Then I'll stay up late, find those hours I couldn't find earlier, because I want your life to be good.

Looking ahead, the race and the rush don't show any signs of stopping. But, as we walk (or run), we learn to find a balance between the musts & pauses, lists & freeform moments.

It is a good thing, learning to swim like this.

Lauren Bacall & Leslie Bogart © Phil Stern

Penguin Cafe Orchestra: Perpetuum Mobile
Lord Huron: She Lit a Fire, Time to Run, Brother

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

love, less cryptically

Pre-breakfast, pre-anything, I feel inspired to tell you: I am in love. Sure, I hinted at it last post, even showed a picture of the ring (gasp! I know right!). But I didn't say it outright. Since this is my mountaintop, I'm going to shout it here: I am in love, and it is good.

The funny thing about love is that you often feel you're at the height of it, even when there's so much more to show. After our first date (yes, it was that quick for me) I thought to myself, "Uh-oh" because something was up. In the following days & dates, I felt as though the intensity of my feelings for this man would absolutely kill me. Time wore on, but real love grew: first as a sprout (oh! what a sprout!), then a stem (a brilliant stem!), then the roots came (such roots! such marvelous roots!). Like any growing thing, water and heat forced us upward, pushed our roots into the earth, bound us together. The weather in our world only wound our hands, arms, and hearts a little closer. If the sun came out, we basked; if the rains came, we built shelter. Through everything, though, we stayed together, talked it out, learned to keep our hearts light in the midst of it. Habits formed early, patterns that stick.

Pre-engagement, pre-ring, I thought I had hit the height of it. I knew I'd marry the man. I'd known for a long time, in fact, and wanted to for longer. I loved him to the max of love, to the utmost. And then, he proposed, I said yes, we got engaged. Something about that forever thing opened chasms I'd not yet known existed. I love you even more than I did yesterday? I do, in fact. Every day brings another layer, another reason, another tuning of our hearts. Every day I love him to the height of love, and it feels a little silly. Good silly. Wonderful silly.

It feels silly because of all those times I worried and waxed poetic about loneliness. It feels silly because the day before him was the day I'd come to peace with, and actually desired, a lifetime of solitude. It feels silly because he's not what I expected, but everything I wanted, and every thing I didn't know I needed. The thing is, we're tailor-made, perfectly matched, two halves of the same whole. It feels silly if silly is ridiculous peace, soul-deep joy, wholehearted, triple-felt, absolute bliss. That bubble of laughter that rises up from your belly in the best moment: this is what our love feels like. I love him to the height of it, & I'll love him more tomorrow.

photo source

Sunday, March 2, 2014

through everything, a reminder.

Sun hits my eye to remind me:
I am still on the earth.
My feet touch soil or cement and,
unequipped as they are,
walk forward. The helping hand
beneath my chest gives my lungs
much needed solace, my heart
rest, my back a place to lean.
Sun hits my skin to remind me:
I am still on the earth.

Through the cup I peer,
watch that liquid line shake
like the ground beneath;
in it's fullness spill,
relish in abundance.
There is laughter in the sloshing,
and I can hear it. Angels of mercy
see the end and marvel,
"Oh, what a beautiful quake!
Look, look what the Lord
is doing!" Gentle life-forms
who wait for love's redundance
happily lap up the overflow.

Through every tear, whether it be
for joy or sadness. When peace is
all we know, is the makeup of our souls,
when it escapes us. When the earth turns
and we get a little less sunlight, turns again
and we get a little more; when our hearts
to the world are an open door, or when we shut it.
Quiet lovely dinners, dinners that don't work,
happy accidents and purposeful deliverance,
bliss and roses, bills and folding, candles
and music and the stuff of life;

Through everything,
through everything,
a reminder.

It is in the corner of my eye as I write this,
it tells of my center, of my love's resolution.
When my eyes are closed, I can still feel it;
when I sleep or wake, there it sits, waiting,
anticipating all that is to come. You are
sunshine. You are the safe night for my soul.
You are pinnacles and perfection, grace
hilarity and redemption; you make the days,
you make me, you make us, what we are.
Your hand takes my hand to remind me:
we are still on the earth.

Peace in it`s fullness: we're engaged! Thanks to Ang from Doliente Lifestyle Photography for capturing our night.



Tuesday, February 18, 2014

the muffin man

A dear friend of mine recently told a story about her dad - an elderly man we'll call Charlie. Charlie has brain injuries, and dementia - a combination which could mean many things , but in his case, it's left him sweet & stubborn. He's in a long-term care home, as his needs are too high for my friend, or any one person, to manage on her own. The stories she tells us about Charlie are always full of quirky charm, and love for her father. He mixes his words a lot, but prays with fervency; he even wished the Lord a Happy New Year. A few autumns ago, he filled his room up with leaves (boxes and drawers and corners), because he was so excited about each and every one. This time, though, for this story, there is trouble in my friend's voice. "He's taking too many muffins," she says. "The staff are concerned."

Every morning with his coffee, Charlie likes a bran muffin. Not just a bran muffin. Eight. Eight or more. All of the muffins from the small cafe basket usually end up on Charlie's table. He pays for them with his own money, mind you, and because Charlie likes to share he usually offers some of the muffins to whomever might be standing around. But, bran muffins are his favorite, so you wouldn't expect him to part with too many, or pass over any that might be left available for purchase.

"He's buying us out!" The staff are upset with him. They try every morning to reason with Charlie. They tell him how unacceptable it is for him to buy all of the muffins. They try to convince him to only buy one, or at least, less than eight. They get angry.When that doesn't work, they phone my friend. "You must do something about your dad," they say, frustration lingering. "What he's doing is unreasonable."

It's unreasonable.
And isn't this the way.

photo source: link

How often do the smallest actions of others become our martyr's cause? There needs to be room in our hearts for those who act how we wouldn't, those who aren't careful enough, or too careful, and those who don't stay inside the same lines we do. But often, there's not room at all, is there? We react with a scoff, puff our chests, force our linear hand. We confuse the simple, and the good, with bad behavior*. We, like one friend said, make "mountains out of molehills, or, rather, out of muffins."

For Charlie, the story continues. The staff have been convinced to tolerate his high-count-purchasing, "for now." So, he will keep his routine. He'll delight in the simple things, and cause grief to tense onlookers by doing so.

Next time you're the onlooker, take pause and consider: am I upset about something that matters? Think of Charlie. Think of how much joy it brings a man to have his favorite food on a plate. See if you can't find something simple to delight over, too. I bet your anger would subside a little; I bet your mountain of stress might crumble into something a little smaller, a little more manageable. I bet you, too, will see you were arguing over muffins.

*A huge thank you to my friend for letting me tell this story. Her patient observations (in this case: confusing the simple & the good), her kind heart, and her contagious outlook on life, inspire me to observe & live in the same ways.