Please remove all flowers within 14 days. 

These words welcomed me off a beaten path and into a small cemetery, hidden-hillside.  A simple sign tacked loosely into the bark of pine — its message hung so sadly within me.  A request to deport love I assumed – to remove, to rid, to dismiss.  All the flowers brought to then be gone.  It felt heavy like the day I was in, grey and fog-hinted.

I braved the welcome, however, and continued on, in honor of the dates and names I found rising under painfully-paced footfalls.  With each seemingly tragic and deathly step, hints of rain turned the edges of my mouth up; the dance of sunshine and clouds reminding me that the day was stunning and beautiful in its own right.  

Within almost half-a-breath’s notice, that same hidden-hillside message, off a beaten path and tacked loosely into the bark of pine, rose joyfully within me.  A request to allow love I assumed – to care for, to tend to, to nurture.  All the flowers gone to then be brought.  It felt ideal like the day I was in, grey and fog-hinted.

I am learning the word, love, five-decades-in.  It is relentless in interpretation and owns textures that most are unable to recognize, grasp or tolerate — I think.  I hope we are all eager for deeper understanding now.

Love is our super-duper human-power, and it has our loving list growing & growing….

  1.  We can experience pain & sadness & worry without losing ourselves.
  2.  We can let go.
  3.  We can push beyond the status quo.
  4.  We can grow beyond our flaws.
  5.  We can learn how to laugh fuller and with more joy.
  6.  We can hold on to trust, gratitude and patience.
  7.  We can know that what comes, goes.  And what goes, comes back around even better.
  8.  We can put eyes on the world in new & wonderful ways.
  9.  We can wake up early or stay up late for the conversation we need to have.
  10.  We can flip-over and fill-in-blanks.

We are as full and valuable as we always were.  Let’s rally our superpower.

 

Welp.  Ain’t this a kick in the head?  Oxymoronic perhaps.  Yep, all that we ever had was exactly what we always wanted and what we need now is exactly what we never had.  Enter the spin…

Let me be real clear here.  I do not (repeat, do not) fully understand the state of the world right now.  I deeply bow to people far smarter than me in many regards during this very intriguing demand on our world & lives.  But, per usual, I have a quip or two.

There is so much we can get to know right now.  And none of it is unprecedented.   We made our intellectual, physical & emotional beds a long time ago.  Believe me, I am laying in mine.

The world is in constant motion, despite our never-ending and desperate grip to maintain its crazy cadence (oxy & moronic again).  A virus pandemic to be taken seriously, yes.  The real fear – though and I think — is the reality of facing ourselves.  No wonder we are all in a panic.

We had grown accustomed to two-click conversations and shorthand stories, short-of-ourselves.  We had become full-to-the-beast of our ugly and brilliant egos to remain distracted and scheduled and quick-with-answers.  This was the pace that had been set.  It had been the norm, and without it, we are discovering  ourselves lost and wandering within the silence.

This virus we are all fighting has been our dormant destiny, and the pressure that we feel against our chests and late-into-the-night is showing-up masked; it hides itself as a need to remedy the unknowns and to relieve intense stress and pain from ourselves and those who we love so dearly and deeply.  But the real squeeze had already been resting around our minds, bodies and hearts; its newly found strength does not have to suffocate us.  With some wisdom and courage, we can see what is really going on here and can learn how to breathe again.

Here is what is going on with me…

I have made quite the life of being alone – the kind that people tilt their head at.  They question the intensity to which I meditate, the extent to which I remain silent and the frequency to which I walk alone in the middle of the night.   This has been my output for quite some time.  What I had not fully recognized, however, was the input that was active on the other side of me.  The strength of my isolation had always been balanced with prevalent and repetitive connectivity. And now, under this new light and circumstances, my previous life equation feels unresolved and unbalanced…

busyness + a need to be needed + tasks + deadlines + clarity + outings + gyms + routines + happy hours + hugs + high fives + perceived freedom  =

an ability  to create, to be peaceful, to be grounded, to disconnect, to be silent, to be alone.

The things that had always added up now feel deconstructed.  So here I am, a person deemed a deep & quiet introvert, struggling in the midst of seemingly getting what I have always wanted and needed.  There is something for me to learn and to develop within myself if I can deconstruct the worry, the fear and the sadness that literally feels like its coming in waves against my intellect and intuition.  If I can hold the patience to reconstruct this at a deeper and far more integrated level, I just might be able to note the allegory the world is writing for me, and for all of us, right now.

Your life equations likely look and feel different than mine, but I am guessing they, too, have been disrupted.  It might be worth a thought, a recalculation. The moment we think we have it figured out, will very likely be the moment we don’t.  But, that might be right where our solution (a.k.a peace) lies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I never know exactly when its demanding hint of colors will hit, but it is louder and more definite than anything I have ever known to resist.  It can break my heart open and unhinge the restraints of time.  It can get me pulled over and running toward its safety every time.

And every time– I can’t even.  I can’t even take in the beauty of its colors on the water, nor its uncandid reflection back into itself.  I can’t begin to understand how something so incredibly complicated can feel so desperately simple.

And then I can’t even-

believe that I am 43 years old.

I can’t believe that I live the life that I do.

I can’t fathom the fact that people around me are dwindling in age or within joy.

I can’t accept what he just said or what she just did.

(and quite honestly, I can’t appreciate what I just said or what I just did)

I can’t put rest to the sadness of losing of an uncle; the loneliness for a best friend is even worse.

The can’t-even canter of this conversation is (insert life).

But it (the sunrise) helps me. It gets me back to loving something that will be steady and ready enough to welcome me back into its every day.

Its equally stunning counterpart will lay my head down peacefully, no matter all the things I could not even.

 

Love is so lovely.  I have fallen-in more than a dozen times and divided by 4…

I fell in love in Adams Morgan once upon a time in my life.  We kissed in the Potomac and held hands on the Metro.  I grew fondly intellectual, over pizza and red wine. He made me salmon and I noted all the ways I would love beyond him…

I fell in love in Wash Park, CO & uninhibited in Larimer Square.  We hit the Rockies and circled the Red Rocks.  I widened my horizons, over screwdrivers and fried foods.  He made my house a mess and I noted all the ways I would stick out love with him…

I fell in love in New York City, under layers of deep friendship.  We teased out high school crushes and looks of adoration.  I stretched out my heart, over two shots of whiskey and wedding cake.  He let me let him go and I noted all the ways I would stay in love with him….

 

 

 

 

There are things that become like breathing, I think — things that once seemed so hard and now simply feel like waking up or drifting off to sleep.

My respiratory list includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  1.  6 miles at an 8:47 & 45-minute workouts at age 43.
  2. Coffee-in-hand presentations on no sleep.
  3. Good mornings & I love yous that resist a grumpy mood.
  4. Stops on the hill to note a sunset  (dinner can wait).
  5. Walks in moonlight and on ice.
  6. Ladders, roofs & ferris wheels.
  7. Giving worry & fear a hard no.
  8. Typing with long nails.
  9. Owning a cat.
  10. Loving everything I am….

I don’t twirl hair or bandwagon girl-energy.  I flip headlights on otherwise-silent roads and send lyrics to consider.  I dance at the best moments and offer humor at the worst. 

THIS. IS. HOW. I. BREATHE.  

While preaching ‘know thyself’ seems like the right thing to do, our identity might actually be craving some subjectivity.   The objective rules of the world should, at times, be met with a courage for sentience.  It might be the only chance we have to uncover our incandescent being.

Pennies cannot beg good luck, and well-kissed quarters won’t always transport wishes.   It is a harsh and beautiful truth;  rules, hopes and prayers don’t always enjoy the rollercoaster of life.  

No matter how well we believe we know ourselves and the circle of life, we are in constant motion and within change.  We are in between what we want and what is; we are intersected between what we need and what we can do.  We tilt, we whirl.

Our identity is infinite.  This just-almost-and-barely circle of our distinctive faith remains open to challenge & threat & objection.  Yet…we are perfectly balanced in agility & brightness and harmony to ride the ride.  We are luckily-destined to become separate and disembodied for the purpose of further knowing and greater healing.

We can discover ourselves in mystical retrograde, just as a ferris wheel changes directions. Moments of backward and opposite gesture are nothing more than an observation wheel into who and where we are at within this exact breath.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There was nothing streamlined or steady about the world today.  It woke up big and bold and unapologetic of its beauty and depth; eastern reds & yellows extending pinks & purples to the west.  Trees dancing to a light-no light melody; notes heavy against their glimmer.

today was a day to be reckoned by the soul; a sky not to be trusted.

daybreak, midday & dawn teed up in conversation…

the world is so available today

double-down on love early

twice-cry at 8am

be broken-hearted by 10 and find disappointment at noon

get downpoured at 3; early-evening laugh 1,000 times

regret lean & little,

invert hate with compassion

The world has insight…

let the sunrise fill you up and release your breathe like the sunset; don’t keep track of strangers, enemies or best friends (nor acquaintances or people you have loved)

Just be. And be better.  And then see what the sky says.   

*journal thoughts from 7.31.19

My grandmother always used to say…

“It’s too bad people think of dandelions as weeds.  Because if we didn’t, we would recognize them as flowers.  And we would allow them to grow and spread their beauty in the world.”

Her words reverberate in my head as I read the news article that was printed in the Omaha Herald on November 14, 1979, the day following her tragic death.  My grandmother is the 56-year old victim who was killed in an intersection on her way home from some early Christmas shopping.  She had been out gathering gifts for her grandchildren.  The back of her small Pinto was filled with wrapped packages, including a small teddy bear for me, her first granddaughter.  This gift, and the gifts for her growing number of grandsons welcomed the police officers, firemen, and coroner as they arrived at the scene.  Somehow these offerings miraculously escaped the crushing impact of a front trailer that left the small Pinto utterly flattened, as evidenced by the newspaper photograph.  My grandmother’s body remained pinned for over an hour before the trailer could be lifted.  Louise Rowe was pronounced dead on sight at 5:08pm on November 13, 1979.

The open church lot across from my childhood home resurrected glorious fields of dandelions every spring and summer.  There was always something more joyous about giggling and galloping across that field during those months, when the vast green could magically turn speckled with vibrant pops of yellow.  Suddenly being assigned “the extra-left-fielder” in the neighborhood boys’ baseball game was a welcomed delight.  Their boyish banter became murmurs as I tossed my glove to the side and picked flowered bouquets of dandelions to deliver to my mother.   Cloudy days didn’t exist in that field when the dandelions were flourishing.  On a day consumed by dark skies, I could dash across the street to find a thousand rays of sunlight lying at my feet. 

I was only 2 1/2 years old at the time when my grandmother was killed.  My budding eyes and ears soaked up several vivid memories of this event in my family’s history.  I remember the uncomfortable drive from Cedar Rapids to Omaha.  I remember the frantic trip to the mall to quickly outfit all of us children for the upcoming funeral.  And I remember my own mother’s sadness.

My mother was 33 years old when she suffered the loss of her mother-in-law.  33 years old when she retrieved the phone call from a relative stating that her husband’s mother had been killed.  33 years old when she had to wait in silence for my dad to arrive home and deliver the news of his mother’s unexpected death.  33 years old.

I never quite understood why the church had hired such a ferocious groundskeeper to tend to that open field.  He always seemed so angered by the surroundings we all had been “tolerating” for the past several weeks.  I would kneel upon the couch and peer out our large picture window whenever I saw him coming.  Into the shed he would go and out he would come, perched high upon his tractor mower ready to flatten the landscape, spraying chemicals behind his horsepower.  And in an instant, it was as if the dandelions never existed.  From across the street, I would whisper goodbyes to my galloping fields, flowered bouquets, and mini-rays of sunlight and think of how saddened the church-goers would be on the upcoming Sunday to find their field so depleted of joy and happiness.  This act dampened my youthful spirit.  But I quickly learned of the dandelion’s habit of resilience. I would watch them swiftly resurface with fierceness in the following weeks, determined to be noticed.

My mother struggled to let go in the midst of helping her husband and children grieve the loss of a mother and grandmother.  She and my grandmother had developed a special bond.  One of womanhood and one of motherhood.  While strong in her own right, my mother had found comfort in knowing that she could lean upon my grandmother’s wisdom and life experience as she continued to raise me and my two older brothers.  She found herself  lost when struck with the realization that this would no longer be the case.

Through her long journey of mourning and healing, my mother recognized the importance of keeping my grandmother’s words alive.  My grandmother’s message about dandelions became my mothers’s message and she shared it with me often.  And while I made a commitment as I grew older to always admire the dandelions that spread across the fields in spring and summer, I never cherished a dandelion more than when I found one growing out of the cracks of my front doorstep…

I was 24, living in a loft on the corner of Park Ave and Larimer Street in Denver, Colorado.  It was a corner that, depending on the time of day, might be considered a little rough in nature.  It was not unusual for my mornings to begin with a request for change as I hustled out my front door.  My neighbors were the homeless.  The “kick-out” time from the shelter across the street usually coincided with my “head-out” time for work.  This particular morning was overtaken by the kind of the rain that can soak the earth and reach the deepest of roots.  It caused me to pause under the small awning that covered our street-level doorstep.  I needed a moment to tighten my raincoat and pull the hood over my head before dashing across the street to the parking lot where my car awaited me.  Suddenly, out of the cracks, grew a somewhat stifled voice.

“Gotta cigarette?,” I heard from my lower right.

“Nope, don’t smoke.”, I coldly replied with my eyes and body faced-foward.

And it was only because of the increasingly heavy rain that I paused a moment longer.  To avoid the inhumane silence, I followed up my previously shivering comment with, “Ugh.  What a dreary day.  Sure wish I didn’t have to go out in it.”

His raspy voice cropped up for a second time, “Don’t ever waste a rainy day.  There will be plenty of sunny days.  Run in it.  Enjoy it.”

I knelt down.  I touched his hand.   “You’re right,” I said.  “Thank you for reminding me.”

I slid into the seat of my car and let the gravity of the moment take hold.  I had finally been wise enough to meet my first dandelion:

A dandelion is a person whom, at first glance, you overlook with predetermined judgment and ignorance.  You resist them because they do not fit in your landscape of beauty and your first instinct is to remove them from your sight and surroundings.  

But when given a chance for a different perspective, a dandelion is that person who defies their predetermined label and shines with incredible radiance.  They ground themselves with their deep roots, bare their lion’s teeth and send you a message that can be spread for miles.

Dandelions are the unanticipated, prodigious flowers of the earth.  They are masters of survival.  And when you find one, you stop dead in your tracks because you realize how dangerously close you came to ignoring a true beauty.

I sat in my car and sobbed along with rainclouds.  I prayed that our collective tears would nourish all of the dandelions I had overlooked in my life.  My insight sprouted right there in the parking lot.  I realized that, somewhere along the way, I had abandoned my childhood nature.  I had forgotten to giggle and gallop.  I had forgotten to gather bouquets and surround my feet with rays of sunlight.  I forgot the true beauty of the dandelion as I became the ignorant groundskeeper in my own life.  I finally understood what my grandmother had been trying to tell me all along.

If you look back through history, you will discover that there was a time when dandelions were appreciated as flowers.  It was not until later that society began to deem them as a nuisance~a weed.  I find it unfortunate that we chose to begin limiting their potential.  Because when given the time to mature, a dandelion transforms into the most enchanted and miraculous being…its yellow petals develop into heads composed of tiny seeds attached to roundish, fuzzy structures shaped like parachutes. When the seeds mature, wind currents blow the head of the dandelion apart and the seeds are able to travel for miles.  You remember seeing this as a child, don’t you?  When you stood in awe of “snow” in summer?  Or when you actually served as the dandelion’s wind?  You leaned in close and exhaled.  You used your own breath to circulate new life and spread beauty.  We all experienced this as children, perhaps we have just forgotten…

Ever since that rainy morning in Denver, I have been on a search to discover all of the dandelion fields my grandmother left for me.  Every encounter with another human being is an opportunity for me to learn all of the lessons she didn’t have the time to teach me when her life was cut short on that mid-November evening.  But her words remind me that when I am too quick to judge, when I get too caught up in my own view of the world or when I allow others to alter my perceptions, I deliberately opt out of some of her most valuable lessons.  And perhaps the more devastating truth is that I run the risk of never breathing those lessons forward to another person, place, or time.  This is not a risk I am willing to take.  Not anymore.

The words from my first dandelion never left my heart.  I have always been a hopeless romantic when it comes to my love affair with humanity, and I absolutely believe that we all have the capacity to make our world a better place if we are willing to pay attention.

“It’s too bad people think of dandelions as weeds.  Because if we didn’t, we would recognize them as flowers.  And we would allow them to grow and spread their beauty in the world.”

Don’t ignore the dandelions.  Search for them.  And spread the sapience.

The way an overcast sky can find itself mixed in a straight shot of sunlight is enough to remind me that I am only as alive as I am present to the earth’s gestures.

Within the blink of this month’s eye, spring reminded me that the trail behind my house would go from razor-white and bare to lush and stocked-green. It warned me that I would find myself deep in the groove and style of summer — habitually risking the beauty of winter’s wisdom.  Spring told me to be cautious with the motion of time; it asked that I not miss the moment when the trees create warm-weathered shadows instead of charcoal-chilled lines…

the day turned over to summer that afternoon,

and the pond came alive again.

sunroof slides, concrete time

and raindrops buried deep and between.

so let me own our patience

and you can streamline our thoughts

from midday to midnight.

This piece is less about seasons and more about instances of the mind.  The ability to pick up on the simple & deep movements of this world is a gift I am learning to grow within myself; at times, I need to silence my need for a path or a way and, instead, take note of the every day minutiae that exists all around me.

The fine points of this world are what keep the seasons of our heart and mind moving forward, regardless of the weather they bring.  Details are life’s enduring miracles.

Don’t quit before the miracle.”  -Anne Lamott

 

 

The archives of life are just so beautiful.  We are a series of problems, solutions and resolutions, I think —
influenced by the characters and settings we are willing to let in.

The pages we write for ourselves rest on shelves; the change in our fonts eager to be noticed.

2wice yesterday, I was reminded that

time never lasts that long, nor long enough

it only twists and tides

carrying us into the next chapter…

The museum of my life
holds all of my journals, glass-cased.
Nothing to rewrite,
only moments to re-love.