Monday, March 13, 2017

An Invitation to Beckon the Lovely - the passing of Amy Krouse Rosenthol

I am typically not a fangirl, but I was and will always be a fan of Amy Krouse Rosenthal. She died today. Amy was a writer, an essayist, a film maker, a mother, a wife, a finder of magical and beautiful things, an encourager of others to find their magic and beauty. I watched her film, read her books and like a total nerd, wrote her a letter

She wrote me back. We didn't agree on where bowls should be racked up in the dishwasher, but in all things serendipitous, beautiful, and so unexpected they seemed magical, we each found joy. Me, because she pointed it out for me (and many others) and got my head out of my own crazy, lost in baby-land, navel gazing and her because she was a perpetual optimist who had her eyes wide open and searching for it. I strive to be like that. She made things. She did things. She gathered other makers and doers to her side without fear or comparison (or the paralyzing self doubt I am plagued with) and I watched her in wonder. They made things together. 

When I read her post in the NYTimes about her husband (a dating profile of sorts in hopes that he'd find love after she was gone), that was when I realized she was passing out of this world and I sobbed like it was news of my best friend dying. I had to go to bed early. I was a wreck. For a virtual stranger. But that was the way she invited people in. To know her through her writing. To make them laugh, and think, and wonder. I am grateful that she was here as long as she was. I am grateful that she shared so much of herself and encouraged others to beckon lovely. 

In honor of her, I will do as she asked and beckon the lovely into my life.  To look for the magical, romantic, serendipitous, silly and beautiful.  To open my eyes and live more deeply in gratitude.  And when I forget, as inevitably I will, I hope that you, my community of lovelies, will walk beside me and lift my head up to see the sun rise.  I will do the same thing when it is you who cannot look up from putting one foot in front of the other.

Thank you, Amy, for all that you brought to this world.  You will be sorely missed.








Her movie
Her Books
thebeckoningoflovely website has been taken over by some insanity.  Don't go there. 
whoisamy.com is much better.

Monday, January 09, 2017

Lack

I didn't know we were poor until it was pointed out to me, with sneer and disdainfully curled lip, topped with perfect blond curls and giant grosgrain bow, that I always wore the same dress to church. 

I didn't know we didn't have what others thought we needed because I had the wild woods, the endless Texas sky, a creek to dig toes in mud, and a library so full of everything I could ever want to read, (I wanted to make it so no one else could check out books and I would go A to Z and read them all.  If others checked out books, how would I know what I missed?), 6 playmates, logs and leaves and forts and trees, a lake and a flat bottom skiff and shiny brass hooks to catch those 'sucker fish' with, with the night crawlers dug from the leaf beds, where the long, tar-top driveway curved and ran to grandma's house.

I learned while my sister worked her first job to buy nicer things than my parents could afford so she would feel like she fit in.  And she permed her hair and her eye lids turned a shimmery blue to be like those other 90's teenagers.  I learned when the kids around me asked if I had worn those jeans yesterday.  I had.

I learned when I saw your house and realized that mine was different.  That there was a hole in the floor, where the only thing between me and the chickens underneath the trailer was a green shag carpet.  It bowed there and we jumped over that spot between the living room and the kitchen.  And the thought of you coming over and knowing that about me, made my insides roil like a nest of rattlesnakes. 
 
My three haven't learned.  And we haven't lacked.  Until now.  When the job goes and the money dwindles and the roil comes back.
.
I am gloriously grateful today that a trip to buy new Storm Trooper shoes for a gift is all the birthday he needs.  He hasn't discovered it yet.  The Lack.

And this I know to be true, even if I don't manage to live there, The Lack, no matter how much we have or buy or give or fill up with 'things' and people, it will never go away.  There will always be someone with more and will I compare or will I be content?  Will I envy Disney and nicer, bigger houses and vacations and fancy mini-vans?  Have I given the illusion that I have transcended the envy of 'stuff' but still envy bodies, and beauty and youth, and relationships and compare my inside to your outsides (and Facebook feed)?
Or will I close my eyes and find quiet in the lack?
Can I find quiet in the din of this noise in my head and this twisting roil of rattlesnakes, that's true name is Fear of being known and rejected?
Can I get by with filling my eyes with envy instead of the peace brought by the lack thereof?
Or can I live here? In the Lack?  And hand over my worries and fear and just be content?
Sweet Lord, I hope I can.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Dust if you Must - Poetry I like today

Dust If You Must


by Rose Milligan

Dust if you must, but wouldn't it be better
To paint a picture, or write a letter,
Bake a cake, or plant a seed;
Ponder the difference between want and need?

Dust if you must, but there's not much time,
With rivers to swim, and mountains to climb;
Music to hear, and books to read;
Friends to cherish, and life to lead.

Dust if you must, but the world's out there
With the sun in your eyes, and the wind in your hair;
A flutter of snow, a shower of rain,
This day will not come around again.

Dust if you must, but bear in mind,
Old age will come and it's not kind.
And when you go (and go you must)
You, yourself, will make more dust.

Text Source

Sunday, October 02, 2016

Poems I like today

I am grateful for the internet.  The eternal source of poems that may have been forgotten, lost in obscure books long out of print.  Instead they are fresh and real as the day they were written, there in front of me.  I may need to look up the obscure verbiage or antiquated language, but I CAN do that.  So here are a few.  Found (in part) in the introduction of The Inquisitor's Tale Or, The Three Magical Children and their Holy Dog by Adam Gidwitz (Illuminated by Hatem Aly)

Pied Beauty

Glory be to God for dappled things –
   For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
      For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
   Landscape plotted and pieced – fold, fallow, and plough;
      And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
   Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
      With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
                                Praise him.

 Text Source and to hear it read aloud

 

As I Walked Out One Evening



As I walked out one evening,
   Walking down Bristol Street,
The crowds upon the pavement
   Were fields of harvest wheat.

And down by the brimming river
   I heard a lover sing
Under an arch of the railway:
   ‘Love has no ending.

‘I’ll love you, dear, I’ll love you
   Till China and Africa meet,
And the river jumps over the mountain
   And the salmon sing in the street,

‘I’ll love you till the ocean
   Is folded and hung up to dry
And the seven stars go squawking
   Like geese about the sky.

‘The years shall run like rabbits,
   For in my arms I hold
The Flower of the Ages,
   And the first love of the world.'

But all the clocks in the city
   Began to whirr and chime:
‘O let not Time deceive you,
   You cannot conquer Time.

‘In the burrows of the Nightmare
   Where Justice naked is,
Time watches from the shadow
   And coughs when you would kiss.

‘In headaches and in worry
   Vaguely life leaks away,
And Time will have his fancy
   To-morrow or to-day.

‘Into many a green valley
   Drifts the appalling snow;
Time breaks the threaded dances
   And the diver’s brilliant bow.

‘O plunge your hands in water,
   Plunge them in up to the wrist;
Stare, stare in the basin
   And wonder what you’ve missed.

‘The glacier knocks in the cupboard,
   The desert sighs in the bed,
And the crack in the tea-cup opens
   A lane to the land of the dead.

‘Where the beggars raffle the banknotes
   And the Giant is enchanting to Jack,
And the Lily-white Boy is a Roarer,
   And Jill goes down on her back.

‘O look, look in the mirror,
   O look in your distress:
Life remains a blessing
   Although you cannot bless.

‘O stand, stand at the window
   As the tears scald and start;
You shall love your crooked neighbour - (Love this line!)
   With your crooked heart.'

It was late, late in the evening,
   The lovers they were gone;
The clocks had ceased their chiming,
   And the deep river ran on. 

Text Source

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Breakfast Adventures: Poached Egg on Toast with Mushrooms in Garlic and Butter Sauce (aka , how to gross out almost all your kids)

It's summer.  Glorious summer.  When time is loose and the world doesn't end if I don't get breakfast made and everyone out of the door by 7:30am.  Heck, it is currently 7:21am and only one kid is even awake!  Now if only I could sleep in, I would.

Recently I took advantage of this extra time to return to making different things for breakfast besides the same old same old eggs, toast and fruit that has been our school day staple.  And by that I at least I mean cooking the eggs in a different way, right?  Right.

I had leftover baby Portabella mushrooms I needed to use up and some garlic and butter, so I sauteed the mushrooms and garlic in butter, poached some eggs, toasted some toast and there I had it!  A delicious breakfast.  I even went so far as to serve in season, deliciously ripe, in season strawberries with freshly whipped cream. (As kids we called it "whup cream".  I did grow up in Texas, after all!)

20160603_081059
The butter has all run off and soaked into the toast.  Mmmm.

Matt's comments were, "Man this is good!"  and "I feel like I am dining at a cafe in Paris." (where he has never been and wouldn't know that breakfast in Paris mostly consists of cafe au lait and a croissant) but I know what he meant and I liked the compliment.

Cora gave it a big thumbs up and ate every scrap.

20160603_081500

The youngest two gave me these faces and these tears.

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20160603_081203

Guess what kids?  Mama is never gonna stop making weird food for you to cry about!  Ha!  We folks with a more sophisticated fake French palate are going to continue to eat this stuff from time to time and I know you think you don't like it, but your mouth is going to catch up with the rest of us some day.  Until then cry on, my loves, cry on.

Happy Summer!

The Deep Places

I notice in my life there are seasons when I fall silent.  As a lifelong journaler, this is strange to look back on. I used to wonder why and try to remember what was going on in my life then.  Now, as an adult, I have figured it out.  These are the times when the things that are going on inside me become too complex, too deep, too painful or angry for me to figure it all out, much less write about it.  I fell silent here too.  Life still went on.  The kids did funny things, we celebrated birthdays and holidays. I laughed and took photos, traveled with my family and wrote funny blurbs on facebook, where my life looks shiny and mostly happy.

But here I have to get still.  I have to get quiet.  And here is where I find what is underneath all of that surface life.  And I have been trying to ignore it.

In the deep places, I don't find rest, or contentment, understanding or faith.  Right now, in the deep places, I find longing like a deep dark well.  I find anger so strong that it threatens like a wildfire to consume the rest of my life.  I find sadness like an endless grey sea and lack of faith.  These things disturb me and I don't understand them, so I don't visit the deep places for very long.

Thankfully there are those around me who help me walk through the deep places, help me talk about these things.  To help me be present in my life instead of wander through my life as a documentary journalist, taking photos of life around me and never being in the photos.

Now, family members and friends who like to worry about me/love me, this is not an invitation to fix me.  That's not your job.  Thanks for the love you give and I understand that you want me to not hurt or be angry, but no one can take that away.  It is only God who can heal us in the deep places and I am seriously considering letting Him.  I've held Him at arm's length for a long time about this place, dancing around faith and surrender like a child throwing a tantrum at the end of his mother's arm, taking back the steering wheel of the ambulance when I need to be in the back on life support.  Don't worry.  He's got me.  He is never going to let me go.  Even when I go to the deep places.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Weightless and Waiting

I am floating in space.
The earth is no longer
beneath my feet.
The gravity turned
off in my world and
I let loose
of everything that holds me there.
The sounds of
everything I know and love
grow distant
and distorted as through a tunnel or through the glass.
The things that cross my mind
are like mini-movies that play on the screen
of the back of my eyes.
The laughter sounds like it is imprisoned in a can.
All goes on without me or
with the ghost of me but no one seems to notice.
I feel your touch but as on a phantom limb, long amputated.
I smile.
I put on my best shoes and
I walk
from time
to time
and back
to time again,
but I am weightless and floating.
I am no longer here.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The Glorious Unfolding - and I don't mean the laundry

The summer days are ending and quite often (almost daily), in the heat of the day, we find ourselves once again on the playground after school trying to undo the wonderful, but kind of sedentary ways of long days at a desk for my 6 yr old.  Fairy houses and wild amounts of dirt and strangely cool August days that always tease of Autumn for a week or two and then go back to the swelter until Halloween. 

The children are getting bigger and we have, quite without my knowledge or realizing, have left the baby years behind.  Our decision to stop at three was a little sad, but understandable.  Forty is looming large and these babies have stressed my health and wellness to the limit.  I had hopes for more, perhaps an even four, but we agreed it was time for us to settle into what our family meant and concentrate on what we have, and who these little people are becoming. 

The up side of that is that our little guy, who is the age that each of our other children were unceremoniously usurped from the role of baby by a new baby, is gloriously 2 and I can see him, really see him, not pregnancy weary or sleep deprived or loving on a tiny new soft little one, while he has to become a "big boy".  My middle guy's 4 yr old brain is in full production, full of fantasy, adventure and instant backstory, no matter what we encounter.  He has ideas and plans and heaven help the fool who gets in his way.  I am reveling in his last year at home, setting aside my plans bigger for his and loving it.  My big girl is fully a school girl and it hurts less this time to see her love someone else as much as she loves us.  Letting kind and lovely people speak into her heart and mind are a painfully wonderful part of letting go of the before-school years home with me and watching her blossom.

And something grows in me too.  From time to time I can see farther ahead than my own two feet, where it seems my vision has been firmly planted for the last 6 years, watching the little ones around me grow, tending to their needs and struggling to just keep awake some days.  Things seem to be unfolding in my heart too.  We are leaving the survival mode! 

Bit by bit and day by day, I get my head up and we walk a little further afield.  I had a conversation with a friend that more than three kids, for me has been the Great Letting Go.  Before, I was keeping it together, getting it done, holding tight to each of the two children I had and then #3 came and I was out of hands.  And the little ones let go of mine like fledgling baby birds and flew, flopping and floundering and learning.  The things that didn't matter fell away and I found it easier to survey the mess that is my life and not judge myself too harshly, most of the time.  I still struggle.  I still see the mess and long for a tidy life, but that won't change overnight and I know it. 

In this mess is gratitude.  In this mess is new songs (I know!).  In this mess is art and making and realizing that taking time to do something and not focusing all of my being on the children next to me is not neglect (and the fact that I did that with my oldest probably contributed to the hard time she had transitioning from only to 1st, but I have forgiving myself for that too), but teaching.  They want my every moment, but my every moment is partly theirs and mostly mine to give if I can and to care for myself and ask for help if I can't.  It's kinda crazy.  It feels a bit remedial to just come to this conclusion, but that's OK too.  My journey is my own right?  And it is all unfolding. 

Let's hope that doesn't also apply to laundry mountain that I just finished folding downstairs.  AmIright?

Edited to add:
And then this came on the radio.  Have a little listen.
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