With March Madness still in play, I’ve got b-ball on the mind. And with b-ball on the mind, I’ve got a memory forming to stay.

Moments of really good basketball practices flooded me today; practices where everything clicked. Warm-ups were focused, plays ran with rhythm and shots landed so-on-point they barely shook the net. Shoes squeaked with passion and preparedness during the last scrimmage of the night and insane strength showed up in final sprints. It was hard, but it was fun. It was challenging, yet inspiring. Practices like these made our team believe we might have something special in us when game time turned true.

This needn’t be a story of basketball only. It could be any sport, performance or event requiring rehearsal. Heck, throw life on that list.

Over the past 31 days, I have experienced a few really good practices. While words didn’t necessarily come out like game-time performances, a cadence to writing line after line and allowing one idea to flow into another showed up and stepped up. There were moments when all the motions felt natural and intuitive and it felt like being 17-years old again, hopping in my Geo Prism post-practice and knowing that I had shown improvement, dedication, sweat and heart — believing that more might be possible.

So what do I do next?

As I gain back moments set aside for writing each evening, I intend to hold that space for further exploration and practice. However, I plan to hit a steady pause on production and get back to reading, watching and listening to content other than my own; I need to circle up in dialogue and feedback from other creators because the biggest thing I noted about my work is that, while it is good-effort-decent, it is historically stuck in my well-developed habits, perspectives and routines.

I need to do what I did when I took on basketball. I read playbooks, watched better players, listened to games on the radio and lifted every ounce of feedback from my coaches and co-players that I could possibly take: that was when my practice held meaning and when I sincerely, and really, got better.

The final play-by-play take-away is this:

31 days went by pretty quick, even when it was tough. It went by as quickly as it did when I was 17. So there is likely no time to waste before the next game.

This one feels like the moment a monologue would break the fourth wall: configure the set, center the stage, wait for the spotlight to crank and allow the audience in…

time does not exist.

While people often laugh when I share this perceptual mantra, my desire to hold this as a true belief comes from a most important space.

There was a day, one handful of years ago, when I was sitting across from a friend. The clock spoke a workday’s end and I was reaching for my backpack for a pack-up. My physical reach was interrupted by my friend’s emotional reach to continue our conversation. This friend, for a reason I don’t even remember in detail now, needed me to hold time and space for his thoughts. The right and wish for a connection in his eyes was so palatable; it was as if he had grabbed my hand and said do you have a second. I turned back towards him, eased back into my seat and said hey, how’s it going. As I did, I remember thinking, there is absolutely no way I am going to make it to my incredibly important appointment that is scheduled 45 minutes from now.

Knowing that ‘she always listened’ was the legacy I was always hoping-and-speaking to leave, I let time drift off to be anything (absolutely anything) but important in that moment. I saw it go gently off into my peripheral and witnessed the conversation arrive as its replacement. This could-have-waited chit-chat was rich and lovely and joyful; we were so far in that it felt like an hour, maybe two, had passed – yet, I miraculously still made it to my appointment.

To this day, I have no idea how this was able to happen. Even once I arrived at my expected destination, I couldn’t reconcile how I was gifted everything within that unexpected conversation. I experienced it as karma in the best-of-best ways between us and knew, right then and there, what it meant to live a legacy.

minutes turned into moments and time became infinite; the moon and sun serving only as placeholders for a life well-lived

That was when I decided that time was not meant to exist. I made a commitment to show up for others in the fullest of ways. If someone was sharing, I would be listening and nothing else would matter. Everything that could be important in a day’s hours still would be, and should be, if I could and would just release the panic of what’s when and what’s next, of what’s planned and what needs to be done.

and I mastered this to the point it was effortless

When a feeling of time limits started to creep in, I would manipulate minutes to create banks of moments to have in my pocket for later. When the coffee line was shorter than normal, I would recognize those extra seconds and metaphorically save them for later in the day. When I hit every green light, I would demand myself to figure out how I would use those extra twinklings for love. Sometimes I banked that time for someone else; sometimes it was banked for me and a longer walk.

this was peace

I’ve lost my legacy just a little bit lately. My self-knowing, crazy superpower feels a tad more tame, lame and timid. This is not a good or bad thing or something to beat myself up about – it just is. I have grown indulgent: more busy and increasingly distracted. If you have sat across from me, next to me or near me lately, especially with a longing to be heard, you certainly still have been. However, you likely have also heard a tick-tock over the intentional silence you deserve: a slight release of my eyes, a shake of my being or something else foreign to what you previously knew of me. Know that I know it, too.

But I want my madness back, and the fourth wall has been broken.”

I am participating in the 2021 Slice of Life Challenge hosted by Two Writing Teachers and have been challenged to write and post 31 days in a row. With 28 days of rawly produced content written and posted, there is an opportunity to glance at myself as a writer in a manner I have never done before.

My favorite lines from each of the first 28 days are listed below. When I have the chance to observe them collectively, I learn several things about my writing self. For starters, I have zero capacity for sentence complexity, I make up words when I don’t have real ones and I seem to adore convention-breaking or convention non-caring. These are not necessarily good or bad things – they are simply the style I am adhering to and continuing to develop. However, seeing 28 lines in a row, and watching the limitations I have potentially put upon myself and my pen, has me wondering what I might be capable of next. I wonder when I will break the fourth wall of my thoughts and ideas.

Day 1: I am a repeat offender of the redo A redo is a unique kind of encore

Day 2: mindbeats held steady

Day 3: You did lonely and pain so gracefully, you forgot who needed you.

Day 4: FYI…I made up the word punctuationary this morning to make writing more fun. 

Day 5: Find the un-suck.

Day 6: The flight of vodkas matched the story-swapping and tipsy-turns of the dance floor.

Day 7: Things I have thrown: my hands into the air, a party, a softball, an aerobee (quite terrbily), an idea, a smile, a fit, 3 cell phones and a Haberman bottle.

Day 8: As fate would have it, 10 years later, I still respond with a hard no.

Day 9: He owned “the quotes“, I held the (thought bubbles).

Day 10: I am terrified that I won’t have learned anything, other than how to post more photos of myself.

Day 11: she is metta, lifted at the high of her heart, and spitting out the shit of the world.

Day 12: If 18 is high score, I think we could all be record breakers.

Day 13: Never miss the moon.

Day 14: in a tear drop necklace and cherry-tinted earrings,

Day 15: Boomerang giggles are my way of describing undying re-laughter. 

Day 16: During that week in November 2018, the sky was continually tense.

Day 17: Surrounded by 12 other hotties this morning, I melted into the reflection of my darted eyes and sweaty-necked body.

Day 18: It wouldn’t matter if we had been key-throwing or dropdown red-wine-wise,

Day 19: He was, quite literally, born silent.

Day 20: Overthinking is a chess move, and it works well in games-of-the-like — checkers, cribbage and dice. 

Day 21: Next, divide by 4. 

Day 22: so far, what’s good?.

Day 23: Pair that with an indie film-rock album duo and you’ve got every semi-strange, hopeless romantic in the room completely melted by love and great writing.

Day 24: This is an inquiry on emotion.

Day 25: Life’s Truce (emotional inquiry x 2)

Day 26: Whether he does laundry or not is like whether it is Friday or Monday.

Day 27: She was the smartest, darndest, holy-helledness thing that a 22-year old girl with two older brothers could ever have hoped for, and she was teaching me how to demand what I deserve.

Day 28: #7: Sunday, Joy Oladokun – double duh, this one is Sunday

I’ve got nothing left to write, but I do have amazing stuff to drop on your 7-day, every-morning Apple Music or Spotify Playlist. Wipe the channel clear and take a peek at these lyrics & notes. My only ask is that you shoot me back with a 7-day playlist of your own that I will enjoy in upcoming weeks…

  1. Every Morning, Keb Mo – Monday
  2. Favors, Wilderado – Tuesday
  3. Strangers, Mt. Joy – Wednesday
  4. Mockingbird, Ruston Kelley – Thursday
  5. Honeybee, The Head & the Heart – Friday
  6. Alaska, Maggie Rogers – Saturday
  7. Sunday, Joy Oladokun – double duh, this one is Sunday

She is not my death to remember so I am terrified to even write these words.

She was my second sister-in-law: married to my oldest brother after my first sister-in-law was well-into-marrying my younger brother.

She taught me how to order a legit margarita and how to walk home by myself. She taught me how to wear eyeliner and how to eloquently wear shorts with long legs (even though hers were half as long). She taught me how to leave Iowa for a summer in DC and how to show-up-weird. She taught me how to eat dinner in the morning, kayak in the evening, and stay up late-night with my thoughts.

She was the smartest, darndest, holy-helledness thing that a 22-year old girl with two older brothers could ever have hoped for, and she was teaching me how to demand what I deserve.

When she naturally left this earth, she left un-jealous. She left happy for all I was left to learn.

The hubby doesn’t help with the laundry, but he is willing to wear cat socks.

When all the dirty clothes have piled up and I am too tired to care, I see the man-I-married.

He finds the final pair of clean socks in the drawer (a gag gift from a great group of friends), puts them on with zero complaints and has me laughing all the way out the door.

Whether he does laundry or not is like whether it is Friday or Monday. They are both just days, with all the good and bad mixed in between.

Can you miss something you never had?

After doubtful and thorough contemplation, I answer yes.

This is not an answer about being complacent, and it’s not about giving up, remaining idle or apathy.

I have come close enough to enough things that I can almost tastefully imagine what they might be like. And, sometimes, I miss them.

After a hard inquiry on this emotion, I name this feeling as acceptance.

This feeling is lit by small sighs and wonders, but ultimately, it is life’s truce.

Can you miss something you never had?

This is not a question about being ungrateful, and it’s not about wishing or wanting or envy.

This is an inquiry on emotion.

If the answer is yes, what’s a word for that feeling?

If the answer is no, case closed.

Every hopeless romantic loves rain; cinema’s first, last and in-between kisses, under a drizzle turned downpour, are scenes destined for couched-cuddled makeouts. Pair that with an indie film-rock album duo and you’ve got every semi-strange, hopeless romantic in the room completely melted by love and great writing.

Garden State (2004) still holds one of the best deluged scenes and shares one of the best soundtracks ever made, I think —- once Zach Braff & Natalie Portman mixed themselves with romanticized melancholy humor, I died and lived in love, over and over and over again.

The scene is as famously fantastic as its paired song by Simon & Garfunkel. The soundtrack is as intricately deep as the scene’s first kiss, and I will always go head-over-heels.

How long can so far, so good, in its idiomatic form, really hold on?

Life, relationships, work and other things that we are luckily-passionate about are destined to deliver challenge, setback and heartbreak, and likely on a frequent basis. Does a desire to experience a constant steadiness or uptick of ease, joy or success within any given situation, project, relationship or day actually spin us towards a revolving door of disappointment? Is the conscious moment when we no longer say so far, so good actually the unconscious moment when we give up a little (or a lot)?

I wondered about this today and decided to move from the peculiarity of an idiom to standard fact. I rerouted to a new phrase for the day: so far, what’s good?. I had lots to share.

Instead of complacently demanding perfection from a day, a person, a situation or anything-of-the-like, intentionally finding the good could be the turning point. It might move us from fingers-crossed to open-arms.

Through this 31-day challenge, I am reminded of the importance of writing volume and committed practice. By simply getting my pencil in motion and words on paper each day, I am learning technique, frame and conventional preference, even when it doesn’t show up in my writing right away. The constant revision is so healthy for my work.

This daily practice is essential and tricky; while I have a midnight and public deadline to get me there, I would never ask students to take writing to a full-eyed forum on a 24-hour basis. I would, however, offer them ways to not only generate ideas, but to design hopeful content (hopeful, in this sense, means ideas that will be worth developing once the real moment strikes).

The following strategy helped move my own writing along earlier this week. Facilitating this exercise with students has brought them to evident joy and success within their writing selves. It’s worth a go:

  1. Find a sweet spot in your writer’s notebook (I turned to the last page in my notebook just to be ornery).
  2. Think of a place that is compelling, interesting or special to you and write it somewhere on the page (I wrote Denver, CO sideways on the left, and in all caps).
  3. Now, identify 16 intriguing & intricate spots within that place (I closed my eyes and thought of all the reasons why Denver is my center. I listed 16; I could have listed more).
  4. Next, divide by 4. Choose 4 of those spots that you could tell a story about or write a great line about (I chose the Warwick, Pete’s Kitchen. Red Rocks & Tennyson Street).
  5. Now run with one. Let it pour out. Tell a story, and be happy with whatever and wherever it gets you (I wrote Pete’s Kitchen).

Overthinking is a chess move, and it works well in games-of-the-like — checkers, cribbage and dice. But flip the table of direction over-and-otherwise.

Overthinking, in a full-heart & soul & life-context, is a result of unsettled thought & action, unresolved ego & mind or crazied experience & discourse.

I prefer to checkmate my overthoughts, let go of illusional control and, insteadly & ratherly, find a new and wide position. Once I do, all my words come out: I throw-shit kidding, smirkout my heartfelts and deal my reals. I make up words and scream-love on life.

I might lead from a pair, but I don’t overthink. My instincts matter too much.

It was always our intent to make music part of his life. Instruments flooded the house for our own impromptu jams and sing-along laughter. Speakers on (cranked) and record-player spinning, sound had always been a source healing and love in this home.

And then he came out, barely able to produce sound: mouth tied up and throat constricted (micrognathia & cleft palate to face).

He was, quite literally, born silent.

But we saw how he perked up when our voices entered the room and how the sides of his tiny smile rose with with well-timed dance moves.

Never stop talking, never stop singing, never stop playing music, even if he doesn’t reciprocate right away.

And so, the stereo turned up and the records spun harder,

He was 2 1/2 years old in the following video and it’s worth the watch to see how a human being connects to artistic pattern and, therefore, resounds within their own emotion (even as he is just months outside of a cleft palate surgery and just learning how to string vocabulary and love together).

Early on (21 & 27 seconds), you will see how he is matches beats and lyrics. At 54 seconds, you see how he has learned where quiet can fit within himself and the world. When he rests into the meaning of the song (at about 1:20), I melt into the intersection of art and the earth.

3 years later, a whole-hunk of five years old and beyond many of his challenges, he rocked his rock show.

It wouldn’t matter if we had been rooftop-stumbling

or facedown sinkwise,

we would hold steady.

It wouldn’t matter if we had been key-throwing

or dropdown red-wine-wise,

we would grip solid, I know —-

confirmed through one hundred tough conversations, two raccoons and a showered beer.

(Today, Reallys are my love affairs: Hold-Steadys are my friendships; and I hardly hold Eithers or Boths.)

in the current, and always, running…

Reallys: Jon Locker (I tell you and show you everything)

Hold Steadys: Jon Locker, James, Sarah, MB, Schafe (no matter what, we text each other the next morning)

Eithers: Jon Locker, James, Sarah, MB, Schafe (we hold no judgment through all the ups & downs)

Boths: Jon Locker (I tell you and show you everything, and no matter what, we text each other the next morning and hold no judgment through all the ups & downs)

Surrounded by 12 other hotties this morning, I melted into the reflection of my darted eyes and sweaty-necked body. There, thirteen beautiful frames and torsos stood ready: a variety of gender, race, body type, mental style, intellectual perspective and emotional experience. We fell forward together, rose up together and found motion together.

I define us hotties, only per the 99 degree room temperature and hot yoga flow. We are makeup-and-done-up-free (hell, I hadn’t washed my hair in five days).

I f-ing disgust the term hottie in a social tense, but will riddle-it-for-good within my yoga practice (and vow to stop supporting it as a demeaning and narrowed noun). After all, we drip sweat because it is so damn hard.

We are forced to hold steady in the poses of ourselves, both individually and collectively. There are postures we love and positions we hate within ourselves, and because we have no other destination than being human, we judge others within these motions, too. But, on our mats, we learn how to find our way out of ridicule and rightness, and begin to balance our inner and outer dialogue. When we waver, we recognize and lift the strength within someone to our left or right. When we are solid, we appreciate and honor the inspiration given from someone in the front or back row.

We stand to see and hear and know more than we did the moment before.

It’s super hot (or cool) when we discover ways to bring this type of dignity and belonging off our mats and out into the world, with nothing made-up or over-done; a variety of gender, race, body type, mental style, intellectual perspective and emotional experience. We fall forward together, rise up together and find our motion together.

We let sweat drip because we know there is a long, deep road of introspection and healing mirrored up in front of us.

There are so many stories to hear as we roll our eyes to the sky.

I wrote a post in 2018 titled, Sky Won’t Snow & Sun Won’t Shine. It was a piece about feeling stuck and indiscernible. During that week in November 2018, the sky was continually tense. From day to day, I couldn’t distinguish grey from gray. It would not snow and it would not shine, and I couldn’t stop gazing. It was as if the sky didn’t know what to do and was wondering if it ever would. At the time, the sky’s cemented feelings seemed parallel to the experiences of the world around me, and so the post got written.

This week, my proximal sky is telling a very different story. The sky is letting it all out. In a mere 72 hours, it has glitzed rays, spit sleet, mic-dropped snow and downpoured rain. Soon, it will even reset the moon. It is stunning to see the sky letting it all go, and I can’t stop staring. It’s as if the sky has both middle fingers up, realizing it holds no pressure to make anyone’s weather perfect. The sky is completely open this week and it seems parallel to the experiences of the world around me. And so, this post got written.

It’s the specific kind of laughter that comes when a well-timed meme shows up in my text thread; the kind of hilarity that revisits me anytime a string of consonants and vowels double over to perfectly match an image. It gives me the boomerang giggles.

Boomerang giggles are my way of describing undying re-laughter. They likely, in tandem, describe my immaturity. But, I love them and I got them, memelessly, from 2am on this morning

Between being inadvertently attacked by my cat while standing on top of the dining room table at 2am this morning to standing in a store that, no matter what day or what time, is always rocking a playlist seemingly committed to 90’s boybands, then throws a loop with Hotel California and Lionel Richie, I.can’t.stop.laughing.

Here is a continued kicker….

I have been participating in this Slice of Life Challenge(#SOL21) since March 1. I have not missed a day and today will count 15. However, accidentally, not once have I posted to the site actually hosting the competition: important, overlooked detail and the biggest boomerang of the day!

So count this as either post 15 or post 1 and enjoy some laughter. Maybe I will get a few more followers and maybe they will stick around for the full cat story.

in a tear drop necklace and cherry-tinted earrings,

with hair far-too-showered and makeup-far too-done for a Sunday morning,

she ordered the fruit.

he, unapologetically, chose the biscuits & gravy

and paid the bill.

he is still unapologetic and she is still obsessively mismatched,

yet Pete is certain they could still rock a great next date.

this time he would take a bite; his nerves would be gone.

her ego would be done and she would steal from his plate.

A never-ending list…

  1. Never miss a sunrise.
  2. Never believe everything you think, nor what you think you heard.
  3. Never love less.
  4. Never linger too long in despair.
  5. Never leave things unsaid before there are no more moments to leave things unsaid.
  6. Never find fault before good.
  7. Never get wrapped up in someone else’s story without their voice present.
  8. Never ride the line of complacency.
  9. Never say no too quickly.
  10. Never miss the moon.

If you have ever played the game, you know that you are asked to acknowledge when a statement is untrue to you. I would have to raise my hand on every single statement from the list above, but I will never stop making each un-action a priority.

I almost won a plank challenge: held it for 4 minutes and 20 seconds. Respectable, but maybe other records are meant to be busted.

I don’t believe in storybook happily-ever-afters. I prefer to experience happiness in the same manner that I experience other emotions: as temporary and fleeting, rather than static or optimal destinations.

However, I know Tolstoy enjoyed the term and a happily every after firework show occurs at Magic Kingdom each night. The optimism of the latter, apparently, lasts 18 consecutive minutes.

I have no durational or dreamlike expectations on happiness, only intention to practice it every day. I suppose it is reasonable, at a minimum, to hold 18 minutes of joy in a day.

Today’s core breakdown, minute by moment:

a recently placed doorstop (30 seconds of grateful), sun-stacked shadows (3 minutes of beauty), items checked off (1 minute of euphoria), a memory boomerang (12 seconds of smiles), flip-flops on my feet (undefined minutes of comfort)….and I am over the threshold.

If 18 is high score, I think we could all be record breakers.

you always start with a look.  no words.  just a sizing up of loyalty.  the words come later.  always.

eyeing a trusting body up & down, you decide it’s worth the sacrifice.  you determine that an open heart can survive the firm press of your lips as you suck the life out of her.

you steal all her “firsts”, take her to get her first tattoo and ink your desperate desires onto her life.

tied to the beds of your grip, she builds a super power against your pressure.  turns her head and learns to appreciate the moments that pass as you finish your daily fit.

now she can see you coming from 100 miles away, dimming the lights to your preference.

she is obsidian, rooted at the base of her spine, and swallowing the shit of the world.

I loved this piece when I originally wrote it, but I lent it to a RECORD-SCRATH REVISION…

you never end with a look.  all words.  just a diminishing of commitment.  the words come early.  always.

eyeing a disbelieving body left & right, you decide it’s worth the rise.  you determine that a closed mind can survive the loose release of your center as you exhale the life out of her.

you protect all her “firsts”, take her to get her final tattoo and erase your desperate desires onto her life.

released from the skies of your grip, she builds a super power against your pressure.  straightens her head and learns to overlook the moments that pass as you finish your hourly fit.

now she can see you coming from an itty-bitty inch away, cleaning the lights to your preference.

she is metta, rooted at the high of her heart, and spitting out the shit of the world.

I would be beyond excited to try this strategy with students.

I would start by letting them hear a ‘record scratch’ (maybe via video, maybe via my mouthed-sound-effects and horrible acting skills, maybe via dragging in a record player to the classroom).

We would discuss abrupt change and how every moment of our lives, and therefore every word we write, is up for conversation and revision.

We would talk about what writers do; they constantly twist & turn with language. They don’t revise because they are told to do so. They do it because they can’t resist the play. They access resources (the dictionary, the thesaurus, other writers), not because the authoring standards say-so, but because they want to see what is possible.

We would find a piece we have written that is ready for play (historically, and boringly, known as revision). We would use the thesaurus to find opposites and learn how the writing finds new meaning. We would decide what words we like and what words we don’t. In the end, we wouldn’t limit ourselves to just finding opposites via the thesaurus; this original nudge would lead us to so much more. We would begin to discern sounds, speech and expressions; we would change and become empowered with our own next thoughts.

I am terrified that I won’t have learned anything.

Early on in the COVID era, I could see how I was going to come out more appreciative, more forgiving, less judgmental, less scared, increasingly balanced, equally patient and more true to myself. If there was anything I needed to change, then by-goodness, this would be the time.

I was a pioneer in positivity (no play-on-words-here); some may have named me toxically positive.

Let me be a cautionary, and knowingly-entitled, tale. It doesn’t matter if I have been vaccinated once or twice; if I haven’t figured out how I can become a better human, in relation to others and as a result of a worldwide pandemic, then I am infecting you all.

I am terrified that I will have missed the mark. I am scared that I will have likely mastered the art of virtual meetings, revised connection and COVID-understanding, yet will be, inadvertently, contributing to the no-change slope of belonging and betterment of our world.

I am terrified that I won’t have learned anything, other than how to post more photos of myself.

After he told me that he now listens to heavy metal (specifically Slipknot), he also shared that he has trouble saying ‘specific’ and ‘pacific’ without getting them confused. I guffawed at the gift I have been given—-that, of which, is being his mom. (How can you be moving from single to double digits?!?!)

The fact that he was sitting outside with me, Saturday-sun-day-style, and absolutely spilling his guts, was enough to stay as quiet as possible and let his narrative go and go and go on.

He owned “the quotes“. I held the (thought bubbles).

“Mom, heavy metal is a good thing. Its explores the tough-side of the world.” (You are so wise beyond your years, how am I ever going to keep up with you?)

“Mom, remember when I didn’t know how to say hospital (hostible) and ambulance (ambliance)?. Ha, isn’t it funny that they are both medical terms” (I do remember, babe. I can still hear it.)

“Mom, would you ever let me get a tattoo? If I could, I would get a Clone Trooper.”

(WHOA…hold up!) I interrupted and stole quotes. “Hey, I like tattoos. They are permanent so you want to be really, really, really sure it’s something you want.”

“Mom, I am ALWAYS going to love Clone Troopers so that is definitely what I would get tattooed on my back. (Mental note: must revisit this conversation).

Mom, heavy metal musicians are really nice people. Most people don’t think so. Ozzy Osbourne is one of the nicest. I think I want to watch The Osbournes.” (Check Netflix and prepare to return to 2002).

This un-conversation went on and on; -un because, after all, it was only him talking. Other than my tattoo interruption, he owned the discussion. He heard his voice and saw his way with the world.

(I don’t know if you should be listening to these songs and I am terrified of guiding you to double-digits.)

pause

(Regardless: Specifically and pacifically, I hope you know all the ways you are wonderful).

Hope is an interesting thing, I think—I would be curious to hear how others see it.

I wrote about hope on July 9, 2011 and it found me again today. It must be fate.

The intersection between 2011 and today could be described as a LOVE between hope and fate. Perhaps they have always been a pair.

Because the second I lose hope, I hear a song on the radio with just the right words.

And the moment I argue belief, I have a conversation with a stranger that refills my heart.

Points of frustration (running late, with a long list of demands waiting) are met with minute-saving green lights,

and disappointment disappears with a memory-pop on my phone.

In 2011, this was my re-ask: ”Is it possible to hold your hope down?

As fate would have it, 10 years later, I still respond with a hard no.

Things I have thrown: my hands into the air, a party, a softball, an aerobee (quite terrbily), an idea, a smile, a fit, 3 cell phones and a Haberman bottle.

The Haberman left my right hand and exploded against the other end of the room; the milk constellation complemented the orange wall quite nicely.

One cell phone cracked a mirror, the other flew over the fence and into the neighbor’s yard. Most recently, it was a wall that caught the suffering. The dent was impressive enough that I noted it as tribute to my intense workouts and strength training.

To throw one more thought your way….

…during yoga this morning, the instructor offered a mantra: throw hard and don’t be afraid to miss the mark. The words were wrapped up in the idea that we too often hold back in fear of failure and judgment and that comparison, criticism and blame silences our ability and stifles our talent. Instead, when it comes to being our full and capable selves, we should “throw harder”. To do so requires us to accept the fear, the failure and the judgment, knowing that with every throw we will gain greater strength, precision and form.

There are elements of my life where my pitch is on fire; I push with complete confidence. On the flip side, there are elements where I am too soft; I hold back with suffocating self-doubt. I already throw a dang good party and smile hard, too. However, if I am honest, I am throwing a lob or two in some other categories of my life.

I am going to wind up a little differently this week. Instead of throwing my hands up in the air, I plan to throw out any restraints on what I can do, create or contribute; hopefully, without breaking my phone screen again.

He flew halfway across the country just to see her, and left (shoeless) 36 hours later.

The flight from Denver to DC was quick and wonderful and easy. She told him exactly how to hop the Metro from the airport to Adam’s Morgan once he arrived. She was waiting for him: heeled, one drink in and calling the cab.

to the 9:30 club, she said.

The flight of vodkas matched the story-swapping and tipsy-turns of the dance floor. They had been in love since the first weekend of college and not much was different now. Hands on hips and stomachs, tongues in kisses. Life always lingered in question between their chests.

When she left him at the bar in Dupont Circle (later that night and per her stubborn ways), it never occurred to her that the choice of her shoes, at a subsequent 9:30am, would matter so much.

I need this day to “un-suck”. I need it to unstick and unwind.

I could choose to unravel and go low on its 24 hours – I could click its 1,440 minutes away as unhappy.

Good thing I binged the BoDeans this morning. They were my 4:30am car-ride-companion.

Sun light fall down on the fields
Sun light fall down over me
Work all day be all that I can be
Yeah-heh
Say I can say words only simple
Say I can say words only clear
Oh I can feel your heart is beating near
Yeah-heh
(Good Things by the BoDeans)

Instead of hating on the day, I will take lead singer Kurt Nuemann’s advice; keep it simple and keep it clear.

And I say no no no don’t pass me over
No no no don’t pass me by
See I can see good things for you and I
Yeah good things for you and I

I can’t let this day pass me over or pass me by. There are always good things when we keep it simple and clear.

Good things protected the silver lining of my day: a cold brew coffee and the world under my feet.

I, too, see good things for you and I. Find the simple, find the clear. Find the un-suck.

My teaching heart is always with me. I picture my third grade students all the time (8 years worth; Carl, Nicolette, Jordan, Carissa, Danielle, Maura and Courtney to name a small and mighty handful). I wonder how I would help them keep falling in love with words and writing if I were still in a classroom every day. I believe that if they were in front of me right now, I would share the words of a mentor writer with them:

“Words create sentences; sentences create paragraphs; sometimes paragraphs quicken and begin to breathe.”
― Stephen King

Today’s post is, for lack of a better phrase, an example of an idea toss. An idea toss is historically, boringly and otherwise known as a brainstorm. Today I threw lexical blah blahs at the wall to see what would stick. Sometimes I do this free verse. Other times, I need a strategy. Somedays I use a strategy I know. Other days, I make up new ones because I am tired of what I already have in my pocket. The very latter was the case today….

Early this morning, I noted the date of March 3 and saw it as 3rd month-day 3 (3-3) in my mind’s eye. I decided this concept would become my language playground. Could I write 3 word sentences to communicate the experiences of my day? And could I write 11 of those 3 word sentences to equal 33 words in total? This seemed fun and easy enough. At a minimum, it would get words on paper and me beyond the fear of a blank page. Plus, I could so perfectly picture third-grade-Carl immediately picking up his pencil as a result of this 3-3 invitation. That, in and of itself, was motivation.

I gave it a go and found some success: Seek the sunrise. Avoid the garage. Make the call. Hit it hard.

The lyrical triads pushed right off my pen with ease, yet there was nothing novel emerging.

My strategy evolved; write 3 word sentences, write 11 of them, write them related to a theme, and use varied punctuationary design in each (FYI…I also made up the word punctuationary this morning to make writing more fun. I knew Carl, Nicolette, Jordan, Carissa, Danielle, Maura and Courtney would have liked my play on words).

This is what I have to offer at 7:03pm on March 3, 2021. (my theme was ‘a fine day’)

Five more minutes.

Sunrise capture, check!

Shower, extra hot.

Makeup. On. Point.

Hug; kiss again.

Create, laugh, connect.

Take the afternoon!

Walk-walk-walk.

Change the plan?

trust the process

Wednesday, March 3.

At the end of this idea-inspired day, there might be a line or two that could grow me into my next piece of writing. But, that barely matters—- I wrote. I practiced. I enjoyed. I grew one more motion into myself as a writer.

And all my third graders would have, too.

You did lonely and pain so gracefully, you forgot who needed you.

I have spoken at more funerals than I have been in weddings. I’m only 44. While I would like to believe this is because I am a depth demander when it comes to relationships, it could likely be because I am no fun and a horrible dancer.

Regardless of the reason, I already have more eulogies in a folder than I do bridesmaid dresses in a closet.

I lost my best friend on June 5, 2005. He took his own life. I said this….

You are beautiful. Those were the words he spoke to me on the day of my wedding. In that moment, with a tenderness that only he could offer, he made me feel like I was the only one that mattered. He wanted me to shine. It never mattered where I was or what I was doing, whenever I was with him, I felt beautiful.

This is who he was. This was his gift. He embraced the lives and experiences of those around him and made us all feel beautiful. The gift he was so graciously able to give to others – (love) – he struggled to find for himself. He did lonely and pain so well, he forgot we all needed him. But it was moments like the one at my wedding that I knew and felt his happiness. It was palatable in everything that he did, everything that he touched, every word that he spoke. He experienced happiness through all of us, I believe —- he lifted joy through our smiles, laughter and successes.

He was awe-inspiring and came into my life at a time when I was in need of true friendship. He set aside his own hardships and offered me a love that was selfless and pure. Our friendship grew with each heartfelt memory we shared. We laughed until we cried and cried until we laughed (almost daily).

He leaves behind an afterglow; his tender heart, his gentle touch, his sweet smile and laughable giggle. I stand here not knowing exactly how to honor a spirit that changed my life. I will have to trust that his memory will walk beside me and all of you. I will have to trust myself to listen to the gentle breezes of life and to find him in the details of the world. And in the end, I will have to not be angry or jaded. I will have to trade my sadness in for a commitment to a living spree. And I don’t know how to do that yet. But, I will figure it out. I will find a way to live in honor of him.

One of my most cherished photographs is the one that captured the moment between he and I; you are beautiful, he said. I am grateful to not only have been witness to, but to have experienced, the beauty and grace that was him. I will never, ever, ever lack beauty in this world. He gave me a lifetime of photographs.

So today, we wrap our arms around a life that always embraced all of ours. Let us give him a moment of true beauty, unconditional love and compassion just as he did on my wedding day.

Today, let us be the ones to whisper to him….you are beautiful.

Somewhere along the line of the past few years, a maternal thread loosened and the elements that strung together the days between my son and I met alteration. Perhaps it is not dramatic as this first statement makes it out to be. I mean, clearly, our intertwined partnership holds many moments of change up to this point. I remember when he let go of my hand for the first time at preschool and the day he did not need to hug me anymore before getting on the bus. I remember his first sleepover and the first Saturday when he chose friends over me. This growing independence is ultimately what it meant to be, and lately I have been quieting my yearning heart even more just to hold this path of freedom for him.

With a few less mom-son cuddles and special duo outings upon his decade of life, I have to find other ways to measure the strength of our relationship. I need a tap in, a sound check, and a data review every so often.

So, last weekend, we got in the car. Half the list of stops were only mildly necessary and I was certainly wise enough to throw in a stop to his favorite hobby store for the full-on buy in. It didn’t really matter where we would go. We just needed the miles.

My heart melted when we were not even out of reverse, nor fully backed out of the driveway, when he asked me to play his favorite station on Spotify. We always dance and sing in the car.

I doubled-over with love when he began divulging the details of his days at school, the new subjects that are his favorite and the antics of the bus and the playground. We always talk it out.

Our smiles and laughter filled the car as we told and retold our best memories, complete with narrated voices and sound effects. We always swap stories.

My mindbeats held steady when he asked me big questions about life and the world. We always go deep.

The lump in my throat surfaced when I got the hug and thank you at the end of our Saturday-errand adventure. I touched the tears out and away from my eyes and watched him leap off to his next experience of the day. The miles we had shared were, for me, a check-in on the strength of our relationship and a scan on the degree to which he is finding success in his own living spree. I hope that the miles we shared were, for him, not only a check-in on the strength of our relationship, but a scan on the degree to which I believe in him and the depth of my enduring love for him.

This past week it was determined (no, 100% confirmed); I am a repeat offender of the redo. I literally can’t end a day without some sort of variation of the following conclusion…

Wish that would have gone better. Why did I say that? Why did I do that? I should be better.

These inner conclusions are muddled and unfair because they are reactionary and, embarrassingly, indulgent.

Us repeat redo offenders must remain sunrise-obsessed. We have to be ever-eager of our next moment because a redo is drastically and novelly distinguished from a do-over. A do-over suggests that there was nothing worth saving, worth learning, worth appreciating, nor worth noting from the past. On the eloquent other hand, a redo suggests that everything was worth saving, worth learning, worth appreciating and worth noting from the past. It takes courage to hear a variant of inner dialogue; self judgment is a passive stance. Action is the only way beyond self-doubt. A redo invites refinement. It offers improvement. It extends grace.

A redo is a unique kind of encore.

Tomorrow, we should all cheer one another back out and onto the stage for yesterday’s encore. I am not sure I always deserve this applause and, I am certain, that I often forget to put my hands together for someone else’s second chance. I think it could matter if we did.

Tomorrow is not a do-over; the past will not be scrapped. Tomorrow will be a revision of the present.

The other day, on a moment’s notice, I was asked to respond to the following prompt,

“What could you talk about for 15 minutes, with zero preparation?”

I was quick to respond; my talk would be titled,

“HOW TO LIVE SPONTANEOUSLY IN EVERY MOMENT

This talk would certainly not suggest that every moment of a life should be met with whimsical intuition or ad-libbed antics; however, it would suggest that when a wishing heart finds itself holding a free spirited inclination or ambition, it may need a few pro-tips.

Exercising our instinctive muscles is healthy, I think — when we are able to discern how a playful spirit can grow our intellect, we can become more open to the world and, ultimately, to a hunch toward bravery.

For what it is worth…

I play by some rules when it comes to getting up and out into the upfront, from-the-hip side of my life. These rules come in the form of 4 gottas:

A. Gotta LOVE ALL SEASONS. Weather can never be an excuse to what will or won’t be done. It can never be too hot or too cold or not just right to act on an idea or thought. There will never be a more perfect time than the one where it was decided what you wanted to do. (I further explore the concepts of time and weather in one of my all-time favorite blog posts https://allynlocker.wordpress.com/2018/10/20/leather-sweater-in-the-dead-of-summer/)

B. Gotta ALLOW HEARTBREAK. Dreams and visions often look impeccable in our minds. We see what we desire and we want to be inhumanly savvy with all the details. When it comes to the execution of desires, it rarely goes as planned. Somebody or something is going to let you down, so-to-speak. Reality check: heartbreak is about our own flaws and fears. Emotional responsibility is key to being extemporaneous.

C. Gotta BELIEVE IN HUMANKIND. Any dream or vision or experience that is not fully achieved with precision will always be recalibrated through the depth of the human spirit. Every blow will be met with an act of kindness and every fact will lead to a thrill of decency and goodwill. When ambiguity delivers doubt, another human being will unexpectedly catch you.

D. Gotta LEARN. Putting our unplanned selves out there leads us to moments when we are lost and do not know what to do. Problems, struggles and challenges are waiting to rear their heads; they do so for our benefit. Think and figure it out. Find empowerment within intellect, calm and presence. See where it takes you.

(in summary) Go on the trip. Fall in love. Take the new job. Ride the ride. Give benefit to doubt. Laugh. Let go. Dance. Sing. Trust. Forgive. Play. Feel your heels. Do it. Wear red when you want to wear black. Remember. Accept and indulge. Live it up.

And do not worry: in your wildest moments, you will still be you.

Spontaneity is here to serve you. Of course, only when the time is right.