Archives for April 2013

Everyday triumphs

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I wish I could write helpful posts here, such as “How to survive an international move without losing your mind” or “How to raise children without losing your mind” or even “How to wake up every morning before the sun rises. Without losing your mind”. But, I don’t seem capable of writing words of the self-help variety, and I think I might have an unhealthy pre-occupation with losing my marbles.

I started three different posts today, but like Goldilocks visiting the home of the three bears, none of them fit quite right. Instead, I’d like to invite you to pull up a chair. Let’s sit together. Can I tell you where my head and heart are today?

My head is firmly stuck in my memoir writing class right now, and I feel like I am lying in a bed that is entirely too big for me. I can never fill it up, and this causes me to question myself and my writing in ways I thought I’d previously settled. I write alongside other students who appear larger than life on paper, who fill up the walls of the cottage by lining it with words, and whose stories echo deep into the woods. My story sounds small by comparison, and so I contemplate moving along to another bed that fits me better. There are a few more I might crawl into and try, but something in my heart tells me to stay. To lie down in the too big bed and embrace the discomfort. Roll around in the extra space, make a mess of the pillows, recognize I am, indeed, small.

I wonder if sometimes we need to hear the stories of the small, and take back our delight in the everyday. I want to wrap my arms around the  joys and the sorrows of dirty shoes piled at the front door and spiders spinning webs on the deck chairs and stacks of books with dog-eared pages. I need to hear these stories, and I need to write them too. I need to remember that life is beautiful, even when it feels too big, too small, or occasionally just right. My life tells a story of small triumphs over the everyday. Yours probably does too. Right now, I choose to lie in a bed that feels too big for my small frame and I will revel in it.

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Tell me, where do you find your head and heart right now? What’s your latest triumph, big or small?

Five Minute Friday: Friend

Hello, Friends. Welcome back for another Friday spent with Lisa-Jo and the Five-minute crowd. Today, we’re taking five minutes to write on the prompt Friend. Do you have five minutes to write, read, or both? Why don’t you join us?


1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community…

Today’s Prompt: Friend

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My very first friend was a book. My mom spent hours introducing me to them before I learned to read on my own. And once my kindergarten brain caught up with my voracious desire to read, I never went anywhere without the company of  a paperback friend. They kept me company when I sat next to the bedroom door in the faint glow of the hallway light, my sister asleep and unaware in her twin bed. They followed me to the pool and the beach, on long car rides and church functions, to school and my playmate’s house. With a book, I was never alone–all the world opened before me, condensed into letters and paper and ink.

It took many years for me to learn that a book can only give so much. It can give wisdom, laughter, joy, knowing, and pure fun. But it can’t give a hug or a sympathetic ear. It can’t say a prayer or make the call or see to it that you can still laugh through your tears. It can’t tell you when your jeans make you look ridiculous or you’re trying too hard or not hard enough. A book won’t run a marathon next to you or listen to your inane jokes or tell you to get yourself to a counselor and quick. A book may keep you company at night, but it won’t rub your back when it aches and soothe your heart when it feels as if it’s breaking.

Books can become the greatest of friends, but so can real live people. I find it best to keep both close at hand.

For when you feel like Atlas

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These days, on waking, my head feels so full, I wonder if it might explode. I have too much information rattling around up there, too many details and emails and plans to sort through. As gravity would have it, these details trickle on down to my shoulders over the course of the day, and by evening, I am Atlas–the weight of the world resting on my left shoulder.

My husband has the capacity to compartmentalize everything. He creates a mental filing system, from which he will access one specific file as needed. Me? Not so much. My brain mixes the ingredients for tonight’s dinner with next week’s appointments with this weekend’s train schedule with the load that needs drying with the one kid’s (bad)attitude with the shirt that needs mending with the threads of a story. My brain feels like an episode of hoarders gone awry.

Yesterday, one of my children told me they think they work harder than I do, what with the excessive rigors of school and all. And after I resisted the urge to physically maim said child, I scraped what little remained of my ego off the floor and calmly said, “Really? How many people’s lives are you currently in charge of?” Said child then deftly switched topics and asked me for some cash and permission to go shopping with it. I didn’t know whether to applaud the sheer gall of this request, or sign myself up for Parenting 101. I think I might be doing something wrong.

As if the current craziness of our lives isn’t enough, I signed myself up for a ten-week, intensive writing course. This week’s lesson asked us to draw from our deepest wounds and write from our most raw experiences. The other writers turned in work exploring subjects such as child abuse, neglect, substance abuse, and chronic illness. I turned in work exploring my eighteen year old self and writing her a letter which essentially boiled down to two utterly profound words: Chill out.

I find I still need this reminder some twenty years later, as I hoist the world onto my shoulder once again and heave under its weight.  The forgotten appointment and the lost headgear and the stains that won’t come out–this, this is life, every orbed and spinning inch of it. And I can choose to carry the weight of it, or I can choose to carry this moment. This attitude. This word. These three tender and insanity-inducing hearts.

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How do you manage the fullness of life and still make room for your heart and mind to stay at rest? Seriously. I need to know.

Sink reflections

This week, I have the honor of hosting Concrete Words, where we practice writing the abstract by using a concrete word as our prompt. I’m filling in for Nacole, the writer who currently hosts concrete words, and I’m sending a big thanks to Amber Haines, the poet who dreamed it up in the first place. Would you consider linking up this week? I would love to visit and sit a spell with your words.

Today’s concrete word is The Sink.

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The kids line up like soldiers behind blue bowls filled with milk and cereal. Slumped and rumpled soldiers, but soldiers nonetheless. I stand like a general astride his horse, behind my sink, ready to give out the daily marching orders. We circle the hours of the day like footmen, counting around the clock as we discuss the duties that lie ahead. Breakfast, then brushing–hair, teeth and the like. Make the beds, pack the bags, don’t forget your instrument/book/good attitude.

We talk about who goes where and when, and I brandish my kitchen knife like a saber, cutting through air and  morning minutes before starting in on the strawberries I’ll pack for their lunch. Gone are the mornings spent drinking in the sun and steaming tea and sleepy bed-headed babes. Those days disappeared with the toddler dimpled hands and gummy grins. Now we are all business.

I miss the days when life was a rhythm and not a march. When the hours stretched long like shadows on a sidewalk. These days fly past in a blur of drop off’s and pick up’s and playdates. I would rather stand behind the sink and compose music instead of orders, poems instead of to-do lists. I don’t know how to do both.

And so, we soldier on and we fife and drum our way through the day until nothing remains except the last scrub of the sink before the lights go out.

******* I apologize for any confusion over the linky. I have no idea how to set one up properly and I am technologically challenged at best! Thanks for bearing with me, and if you find the link doesn’t work for you, feel free to add your link in the comments. I’d love to visit and read your words.

Five Minute Friday: Jump

Hello, Friends. Welcome back for another Friday spent with Lisa-Jo and the Five-minute crowd. Today, we’re taking five minutes to write on the prompt Jump. Do you have five minutes to write, read, or both? Why don’t you join us?


1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community…

Today’s Prompt: Jump

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With a ridiculous fear of heights, I am the last person one would suspect as a candidate for paragliding. A few years ago, encouraged, and dare I say egged on, by my husband, I stood at the top of a mountain in the Alps and I strapped another person and a parachute to my back. In the twenty minute drive up the mountain, the instructor gave me the plan. “We’ll stand at the top of the hill. I’ll set up the equipment and strap you in. When I say go, we’re going to run together down the hill, and then….you jump” Easy. Only not.

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My son, nine years old at the time and braver than me, went first. I watched his short legs start at a jog, then pick up speed, and finally a graceful arc into the air as his feet left the earth and hit sky. It was terrifying and yet, the jump was so smooth, it seemed as if he was created for this. I took a deep breath and followed moments after. Jog, run, jump into thin air. Caught on a breeze. My son raised his hand to me in a wave a few clouds away. We both smiled big and the birds circled nearby.  We knew what if felt like to fly.