Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Monday, December 29, 2008
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Sunday, November 09, 2008
Sunday, November 02, 2008
My old high school crew out for appetizers before our 20 year reunion this weekend. Among us at the table we have three of the top ten (and five of the top 15), five national honor society members, the valedictorian and salutatorian, three graduation speakers, and a whole host of other accolades. Among my closest buds we have three engineers, a Fullbright Scholar, a professional counselor (that would be ME), a police sargent, and several other highly educated and successful professionals. Not a bad group to be associated with!
Friday, October 31, 2008
Here are the two I worked on:
Her voice, like sunshine, flits among the clouds--
bright patches in his otherworldly day.
Dark weariness his spirit fully shrouds
until a word of kindness drives away.
For when she shines, she shines with brightness fair,
and all within his world is good and right.
He casts aside the shadows of despair
and basks within her glowing rays of light.
But when her spirit's fire loses flame
and coldness creeps across her face like ice,
he, too, retreats in silent fear and shame,
and anxiously begins to scan the skies.
She does not mean at all to cause him pain,
when, in her own, she sometimes sends the rain.
Sandy heads of curls reflect the sunlight,
as golden, glowing halos frame each face.
Playing hard, 'til late into the twilight,
pretending at a frantic, break-neck pace.
Fireflies begin to tease the darkness;
the crickets softly play their lullabye.
Nighttime settles silent on the back fence;
There's nothing harder than to say goodbye.
With cries and tears they protest loud and long,
still clinging to the last remains of day.
But droopy eyes belie their protests strong,
and finally their drowsiness gives way.
As tired and spent they tumble into bed,
a blessing prayed upon each sweaty head.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
I am thinking, in my blank-mindedness, of how hard it is to begin. How hard that first idea, those first few steps into the wilderness to forge the trail can be. Which direction? Toward the mountains? The valley? The meadow? Where do I let my feet take me? Where do I let my pen take me?
How something can be so simple yet so complex is beyond me. There are days when words tumble from my pen onto paper so fast my fingers can’t keep up with my brain. Then there are days when I sit down with a pen and seemingly forget how it works. Forget how to put it to paper. Forget how to create. How to begin…
I’m thinking of all the ideas that fill my files at home. Essays, articles, books. All ideas. Like eggs banked for another time, they wait for life to come to them. Some I return to, others continue to wait—reminding me, mocking me, calling me. Ideas that need to be begun…and then begotten.
And so how is it that one begins? How is it that Julie writes daily and I write monthly, at best? Where does the difference lie? Is it a lack of discipline? Of creativity? Of time? Or is it a lack of courage?
Beginning takes courage. Saying, “This is the path I am going to take. It starts here.” Putting pen to paper, letting the words come even then you don’t like the words. Letting the feelings come even when you don’t like the feelings. Letting your pen bring forth life whether you like the life it brings forth or not. This is risk. This is faith. This is writing.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
I remember when I was at the center, not around the circumference. Eyes six inches from my own, searching, seeking, finding. I remember when only I could satisfy, only I could calm, only I could delight. I remember the days when Momma was everything—the mender of boo-boos, the singer of lullabies, the holder of hands, the keeper of secrets, the receiver of kisses. And I remember the fullness of my heart mixed with the sadness of knowing that which every mother knows. This will not last. This will not last. This will not last. With every heartbeat, I’ve tried to remember. Be here. Be here now. This will not last.
Some mothers accept this with ease—the natural rhythms of life flow through their days and they are always in step with its beat. I, on the other hand, seem continually lost in the music, swaying off-tempo, hoping the song won’t come to an end. Long known for overstaying my welcome, I still struggle with letting go and knowing when to make my exit.
My daughter is nine now, and I am moving to the periphery. I try to accept it with a smile, encouraging her independence with no small amount of fear brewing within. But my smile is strained—not the full, teethy grin of happiness but the forced pull of the cheeks upward to reassure her, and everyone else, that I am okay with this.
But I am not.
My son, my baby, is five, and I am no longer the center of his days. I share him with a delightful woman named “Mrs. Smith,” splitting my precious time with him between us. She is wonderful, but I share him, nonetheless. I do not like to share. Just ask my husband. Just ask my children. I try to share, but it is compulsory at best, insincere and begrudging at worst. And it makes me grumpy, to boot. I am not okay with this.
I remember my training. I remember the years of childhood development classes and experience working with children and families. I remember my own struggle toward independence. I know I must let go. I know I must let go well. But knowing and wanting to are two entirely different things, and the second comes much less easily than the first. (And the first doesn’t come easily in the first place.) I remember the advice to put our marriage first, because when the children are gone, we will only have each other. I remember thinking, “Well, DUH. Of course we’ll put our marriage first.” And I remember when I first recognized that my priorities had inadvertently shifted.
My children have become the center of my world, and I am slowly but surely moving out of the center of theirs. I must learn to be okay with this. I must. I will. It just isn’t going to happen tonight. Because tonight, as my children grow up before my eyes, you will find me thumbing through baby books, wondering where the years went, listening to the beat of my mother-heart…
Be here. Be here now. This will not last.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Sunday, June 15, 2008
Sunday, May 11, 2008
Saturday, May 03, 2008
Monday, April 28, 2008
expectant yet uncertain--
longing for your touch
ten in a circle
hearts bared in the dark of night
unzipped and undone
freedom followed tears
joy came with the morning light...
we left, buck-naked
Friday, April 25, 2008
When it comes to flipping and flopping, my daughter has the power and the raw talent, but she lacks the self-control. “My hip bones hurt, Momma,” she tells me one morning after practice. They have been doing their “strong arms” on the bar and practicing “popping” their hips off the bar. Popping for most girls looks like rising two to three inches off the bar five or six times. Not my daughter. My daughter takes popping to a new level. Literally.
My daughter pops so high and so fast that she is nearly flipping herself over the bar. This is a clear snapshot of her personality—unchecked energy run amok. Her little face red and sweaty, her muscles taut and twitching, her body in constant, exaggerated motion. This is my daughter, every day of her life.
The cheerleaders at our high school chant, before taking the floor, “Grace and Muscle, Hunh!” My daughter asks me, one day, what this means. We talk about the balance between strength and beauty, between power and control, between energy and discipline. She wrinkles her nose at me. “That doesn’t make any sense,” she says.
No, to her, I imagine it doesn’t. She comes by all-or-nothing honestly, and that will take some time to deprogram. Her teacher, fortunately, is graciously patient, guiding her along that narrow beam. Teaching her to listen to her body and to know how much is too much. Teaching her how to sustain her energy for the long haul. Teaching her how to moderate her impulses. Teaching her self-control. Oh, how I wish I’d learned these lessons at her age.
Over the course of the morning, she has already improved. Her teachable nature saves her from rampant impulsivity once again. I am relieved. She beams as she crosses the gym, leaping and bounding, all arms and legs and energy again. But there was a brief, fleeting moment there—back on the high bar—when grace and muscle came together, and I could see into her future. And it was a beautiful thing to behold.
Sunday, April 06, 2008
Monday, March 31, 2008
They come to gymnastics in their designer jeans teetering on designer high-heeled shoes, their designer sunglasses perched atop their designer dye-and-straighten jobs. They are pushing designer strollers wearing designer coats and toting designer purses filled with designer snacks and water bottles. Twelve carat designer rings perch above meticulously-done designer nails, and their equally meticulous make-up matches their accessories which match their outfits which match their shoes which match their purses which match their diaper bags which match their strollers which match the interiors of their color-coordinated, designer SUVs. And they look fabulous. Because, of course, it is terribly important to look fabulous when you are sitting at the gym or running to McDonald’s and the grocery and the library. Of course.
I hear them as I read, sitting off to the side, still in my work-out clothes. They discuss make-up brands, Coach purses, Grey’s Anatomy, which local pool is the best, where you simply HAVE to stay at Walt Disney World. They wobble down the bleachers in their three-inch heels and make their way back to their cookie-cutter designer houses, where they will cook name-brand macaroni and cheese in their designer finery and watch TV all day and night in between picking up the kids from school and doing loads of their children’s designer laundry. They have no interests. They have no hobbies. They have no personalities. They are vanilla. Rich, expensive vanilla, but vanilla, nonetheless.
It’s not that I don’t like these women. Truly. I just don’t know how to relate to these women. I mean, I can talk about sofa upholstery for 45 minutes if I really have to, but if I don’t really HAVE to, why on earth would I WANT to? And truth be told, I’d really rather use my 45 minutes of uninterrupted time to read or write than to do anything, and I do mean ANYTHING else these days (except, perhaps, eat chocolate), so it isn’t such a big deal to sit here and try not to overhear their trivial conversations.
But then, despite my best efforts to focus my attention elsewhere, there is that strange tension between complete disdain and childish jealousy that develops, twisting itself around my thought life and breeding rampant sarcasm. There is truly nothing within me that wants to BE these women—but if I’m really honest, I sure wouldn’t mind some of the designer accoutrements. And I find that it is, unfortunately, easier and much more fun to be judgmental than to sit here feeling jealous.
Another woman comes and sits down near me—and I immediately notice she is similarly curly-headed, which is delightfully shocking in this day and age. She, too, is made up and well-heeled, but I am intrigued by her obviously hand-crafted jewelry, her bright, unusual clothing, her pile of books with her. She is studying Korean—to test for her black belt, I find out as I begin talking with her. I listen to her talk about her days as a champion collegiate hurdler, about how boring aerobics is so she needed a challenge, about running marathons and teaching yoga and entertaining local celebrities. I am smug with self-satisfaction at my new-found friend. She is not vanilla—she is Jeni’s Thai Chili, Salty Caramel, Queen City Cayenne. Finally, there is some flavor!
We talk for ten minutes and she never asks me a single thing about myself. I am perplexed and put out at first. And then it finally dawns on me—SHE thinks I’M vanilla.Designer irony. And, wouldn't ya know, it doesn't match a single thing I'm wearing...
Friday, March 28, 2008
Thursday, March 27, 2008
can't sit still
sitting at your feet
doesn't come naturally--
can't we walk instead?
i putz around in
the kitchen while you are there,
all my own, warring within...
i've not chosen well
up to my elbows
in my own mess, i beg thee:
teach me the "one thing"
Monday, March 17, 2008
Excerpted from My Utmost For His Highest, March 14
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
77. I get chronic headaches--just about every day of my life. I have one right now. It hurts.
78. I am an Air Force Brat.
79. I have had to move because of Emminent Domain. There is now a turnpike exhange in the spot where I grew up.
80. While I don't enjoy working out, I DO enjoying walking and biking. WITH other people...
81. I don't like to be alone.
82. Correction. I DO like to be alone sometimes. Like when I'm trying to go to the bathroom. Or read a recipe. Or follow directions to something. Or need just one flippin' moment of peace and quiet FOR CRYIN' OUT LOUD!!!
83. I regularly thank God for my heated mattress cover and flannel sheets.
84. I need them because I USED to be hot all the time, but now, even though I've weighed this weight before and never been cold, I am cold ALL THE TIME since I've lost weight.
85. I want to take art classes. All kinds. I want to learn how to throw a pot, and make batik, and enamel stuff, and paint, and...
86. I sang my first solo in church when I was in first grade. I was hooked.
87. When I was a kid and was somewhere boring, I would count how many circles I could find in the room.
88. When I was older, I graduated to very complicated doodling. I'll post a picture of one later. I was known in grad school for my doodling, of all things...
89. I DON'T doodle in session.
90. I'm running out of ideas.
91. Every time I watch my daughter do gymnastics, I'm convinced she's going to break her neck. Now she's going to be on a team. I'm going to need a nerve pill, I think...
92. My head still hurts.
93. I attended my first writing conference when I was in third grade. You can read about it here.
94. I furrow my eyebrows when I'm thinking. Everyone thinks I'm mad.
95. I'm not.
96. I constantly tense my shoulders. Since I sat down at the computer, I've had to relax my shoulders at least seven times. I just had to do it again.
97. I am part German, part English, and part Hillbilly.
98. When I get tired or am around my grandmother (or her family), I develop a drawl.
99. I also like to go barefoot, say "y'all," and call people "folks."
100. I love live music. Especially jazz.
101. If I lived in the city, I'd stay up all night with a telescope looking in people's windows. I'm terribly nosy!
102. When we went to NYC and I couldn't sleep, I did just that!
103. I'm going to go take some more aspirin and go to bed.
104. Oh, and I'm an overachiever, too...
105. I always have to do more than is asked, because more is always better.
106. But I also know when it's time to quit and go to bed. Good night!
Saturday, March 08, 2008
Friday, March 07, 2008
Wednesday, March 05, 2008
52. I also carry bandaids, ointment, sanitizer, lotion, toiletries, cough drops, aspirin, a mirror, and a nail file.
53. I don't use any of them.
54. I would argue that James Taylor is quite possibly one of the greatest songwriters of all time.
55. My favorite classical composers are Vivaldi and Aaron Copland.
56. I have sung the Carmina Burana with the Indianapolis Symphony. It ROCKS.
57. I have sung the Mozart Requiem with the Toledo Symphony. It's pretty darn good, too.
58. I can sing the alto part of Handel's Hallelujah Chorus by memory. I've sung the Messiah approximately seven or eight times.
59. One can never get tired of singing the Messiah.
60. One can, however, probably get tired of hearing it.
61. I cannot be trusted alone in a book store.
62. I dream in color.
63. I consistently use up all the hot water when I take a shower. It is the best place in the world to sing...
64. I've remained married for fifteen years DESPITE the fact that I always use up all the hot water.
65. I am NOT A MORNING PERSON.
66. I have managed to remain married for fifteen years despite the fact that my husband IS.
67. I never could understand why my mother couldn't have me an OLDER brother.
68. I love photography. I tend to look at the world as if I am composing a shot. It can tend to get annoying--especially when you frame a GREAT shot and don't have your camera!
69. I have had the West Nile Virus.
70. I still don't understand who the heck thought Jesus and all his men were going to get fed if Martha weren't in the kitchen...
71. I relate more, unfortunately, with the older brother than with the prodigal son.
72. I love to read the Epistles.
73. My favorite book of all time is Hind's Feet on High Places. I prayed for years to be transformed into "Grace and Glory," only to find out many years later that Lorie means "Glorious Victory" and Anne means "Grace." I'd been Grace and Glory all along...
74. I do not often live, unfortunately, as if my name were Grace and Glory. Or Victorious, for that matter.
75. But I am working on it....
Lord, where is the time
in the midst of the urgent
to sit at your feet?
How do I choose the
better over that which is
And how do I find
you in the bills and battles
and betime routines?
Sunday, March 02, 2008
26. I have also been known to eat an entire plate of chocolate chip cookies for dinner.
27. I have, despite a fear of heights and falling, climbed three mountains. And I would do it again in a heartbeat.
28. I have been "saved" at least 12 times. I lost track somewhere around Jr. High...
29. I work out an average of five times per week. I HATE IT.
30. After a decade of trying to make my naturally curly hair "feather," I made an inner vow to never blow dry my hair again. And I haven't.
31. If I ever won the lottery, I would get a tummy tuck. Suffice it to say that pregnancy was not kind.
32. I am a compulsive shell-picker-upper. You don't want to go to the beach with me, unless you like to do so, as well. (And if that's the case, stay out of my way!)
33. I read Calvin and Hobbes religiously while it was in print. It is my favorite cartoon of all time.
34. I've been in every state east of the Mississippi, and a handful west.
35. We have a goal to see all fifty states before our youngest graduates from college.
36. When I was pregnant with my youngest, I craved Chipotle incessantly. I went at least twice a week, and for the entire last month of my pregnancy they gave me my food for free because they were afraid I'd give birth in their dining room!
37. I love to hike. We do so several times a month. My oldest can do eight to ten miles, and my youngest just made it to two or three.
38. I love to camp. As long as there is a real bed, a real toilet, and a real shower.
39. I am still close friends with the first friend I made in kindergarten, despite the fact that he lived in Japan for ten years.
40. I collect rocks. And shells. And handblown glass ornaments. And "blue things." And artsy cat knick knacks.
41. Apparently, I collect collections.
42. I am running out of shelf space.
43. I don't have cable, and you can't make me get it.
44. My 20th high school reunion is this fall. I am actually looking forward to it. But now that I've typed that, I realize that I'm also scared to death about it...
45. I wish I'd started using Mary Kay about ten years sooner.
46. When I was fifteen, I told my boyfriend's mother I could see myself working at a church, talking to people about their problems, and praying for them. So I went to college and majored in music. Fifteen years later, God reminded me of this conversation, as I sat in my office at the church, counseling people and praying for them.
47. Music was just the first of five majors. I still graduated in four years, and still minored in vocal performance. (I was also one credit hour short of a minor in French.)
48. My husband had ONE major, decided upon it when he was in late elementary school, graduated, and worked in that field for over 15 years. I don't understand that for the life of me...
49. I have known my husband now for longer than I didn't know him.
50. I always carry in my purse chapstick, cinnamon gum, a pen and paper, and a snack. I will not carry anything for you, so don't ask me.
More (perhaps) to come at another time!
Thursday, February 28, 2008
1. I rarely finish anything. This may be a list of 54 things you may not know about me. Or 13.
2. I am afraid of the dark. Really.
3. My secret vices are fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies (okay, that's not a secret!) and The Simpsons.
4. I know the words to virtually every Barry Manilow song ever written. And I can sing them to you upon demand. This request is not something, oddly enough, that happens often...
5. I am a professional musician. Or rather, I WAS, in a former life. (Like, when I HAD a life!) You can read about that here.
6. I read about six-eight books at a time on average. I finish about 40% of them. There's a lot of poorly written CRAP out there...
7. If I could do anything, I would find a way to become independently wealthy so we could travel the world and see all there is to see. I have a longing to travel that is unfortunately not matched by our budget.
8. I bait my own hook. I have also gutted my own fish, caught a snake, and held multiple frogs. I cannot, however, stand to clean off someone else's plate to put it in the dishwasher. GROSS.
9. I am a Trekie. Hold your laughter.
10. My husband has recently gotten me hooked on the new Battlestar Galactica. NOW you may laugh.
11. I love to watch cooking shows and read recipe books. I said once to a friend that I "read recipes like romance novels." She didn't get it. But I know some of you do!
12. I talk in my sleep. According to my husband, I am completely nonsensical.
13. I am a neat-freak, but not a clean-freak. I pick up the house daily. I dust quarterly.
14. I wanted to be the next Sandi Patti. Really. (I can't believe I'm sharing THAT one...)
15. I also wanted to be the next Amy Grant.
16. I do a pretty good imitation of both. Again, not many requests for either these days...
17. The ideal year, to me, would be for there to be spring (sunny and 75) until the beginning of June, then fall (sunny and 75) until the middle of November, and then it could snow from Thanksgiving until New Year's Day and then start all over again.
18. I drink my tea with cream. Or, at least I did until I started this new diet.
19. I abhor meatloaf, peas, lima beans, and pot roast.
20. I have been known to eat cereal three meals a day.
21. I make "happy eating noises" when I am enjoying a particularly good meal.
22. I do not like to share my food. I am worse than a dog. I have actually GROWLED at my husband. And my children, well...
23. I love baby-butts. I think they are the cutest things in the world.
24. I have peed in the woods and lived to tell about it. (And not dribbled on my shoes!)
Gotta get to work... maybe more later, maybe not!
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
The reassurance I sought as my feet met cold metal was replaced with despair. A beep, a whir, and a blinking number. 144.0 … 144.0 … 144.0 … 144.0 I slunk down off the scale, my thoughts racing, and began to prepare for the morning ahead.
Crap, I thought, digging through my fat clothes yet another time. What the heck? I’ve been on this diet almost two weeks now—the scale is supposed to be going DOWN, not up! I tried to quiet the tirade, to no avail. Why won’t my body do what it’s supposed to? I’m following the diet perfectly—how the heck did I GAIN two pounds over the last few days? The food itself couldn’t have even weighed that much! MAN I hate this…
I laid the clothes on the bed, remembering it was a work-out morning. Hearing the kids playing peacefully below, I decided to boot up the computer and email one of my “talk me down off the ledge” friends. “Tell me I can do this,” I pleaded with her. “Tell me this is going to work. And tell me to stop getting on this stupid scale!”
Of course, she’s told me all of this before, many a time. But listening is not my forté. Being impulsive and neurotic is. Fortunately, she is not put off by my neuroticism, though I would not blame her, after seven years of listening to the same ol’ same ol’, if she finally told me to just shut the heck up and get over it. But, of course, I wouldn’t listen to that, either.
These last ten pounds have been the bane of my existence for, oh, I dunno, about two or three years now. But the weight itself, well, that has been a lifelong preoccupation. Another of my “talk me down off the ledge” friends reminds me with great regularity that it’s all about perspective. I’ve lost a significant amount of weight and kept it off for several years now—who cares about the last ten pounds?
I care about the last ten pounds. Despite my best efforts, I care very much. Not because of the number on the scale, but because of how my clothes fit. Because of how my body feels when it gets there. Because of how my body looks when it gets there. And ultimately because of what that number represents.
The moment I first became aware of my body a life-long tug-of-war began internally and hasn’t let up since. I have cursed my body. I have hated my body. I have tortured, tricked, treated, and tormented my body. But I have never once, in 37 years, come to trust my body. That is, perhaps, the greatest loss of all.
I have gained strength, I have lost weight. I have lost self-control, I have gained muscle. I have gained confidence, I have lost hope. I have lost flab, I have gained perspective. My husband has weighed a steady 118 lbs since the day we met. His attitude toward his weight remains likewise unchanged. I am not as fortunate. For me, life with my body is a constant roller coaster of gains and losses. Perhaps one day I will be at peace with this fact.
Perhaps one day.
Monday, February 25, 2008
Writing...I've discovered, has much in common with resolving weight issues. You can proceed from the fear that unless you force yourself to do it, you won't. Or you can proceed from the belief that you want to do it, and will, but that doing it may sometimes look like not doing it. One way is as difficult as the other; both require perseverance and commitment. The way you choose depends on how you want to live. You can fear yourself or you can trust yourself.
"...doing it may sometimes look like not doing it..."
Brilliant. Just brilliant. I can't say it any better.
Sunday, February 24, 2008
clear blue skies and sunny smiles
to the passing glance.
currents run deep and dark and
from those well-knowing,
who see the storm clouds gather,
threatening rain clouds.
Friday, February 22, 2008
He is the same one who innocuously asks in writer's group this week whether or not we write because we love to write or because we want to be published. I sit back in my chair, caught off gaurd by the emotion his question stirs within me. Later I return home and check out the blog of a friend I have been remiss in reading, to discover that in my absence she has joined the blog365 movement and is truckin' along at a post per day. Again this stirring. I do not care for stirring. Not here. Not now. Not ever, as of late.
As for me, well, I've been a part of the blog-once-every-few-months-movement here lately. Fourty-five whopping posts in 2007. What does that say? I don't know, other than "my husband is in grad school and I don't have a single, solitary moment to myself and it's beginning to wear on me." But it's there, every night--that same stirring, that same draw to the computer, that same guilt, that same tension. As I am not one for dealing with emotion lately, avoiding it all has been my m.o. But a handful of you, thankfully, are not content to allow me to continue in that avoidance. And so, here I am.
At some point, for me, writing and blogging became synonomous. That was a mistake. Rather than being about "I have a neat thought/quote/picture to share," it became about needing to post because I was "expected" to post. And while I don't disdain that for others, it is not working well, apparently, for me. It began to create pressure. The pressure to post, to read, to comment, to keep up, to out-do. Too much pressure in a life already stretched tight. I dealt with it by laying down my laptop.
But therein lies the tension. The desire to write is still there. And the desire to have an audience for that writing is even greater. And so, while other friends have chosen to deal with this same quandry by giving up the blog, I am uncertain that is the path for me. Because while I want to believe that I really write just for the sheer joy of writing, the truth is that the joy, for me, comes in the sharing. And at this point in my life, this is the only available outlet from which to share.
And so share I will. I've made a few minor changes to the layout because I was bored, as was my pestering friend. If they are hideous, please let me know. What this writing thing will look like as this winter season approaches an end and graduation rounds the corner is uncertain. But what I am certain of is this--this will be a writing thing, not a blogging thing. And so my promise to myself is this--I will write. I will read. I will take pictures. And as I have the time, I will share them.
Because I need to. And because my friend won't leave me alone if I don't.