What’s on your list?

It’s 5:54 am, EDT on the longest day of the year and I am awake.

Frankly, this has far more to do with things rolling around in my head than it does with an ambition to see the sun rise on the Solstice, in case you were wondering.

I am, nonetheless, here, watching and listening.

We began with what passes for full dark in an urban neighborhood with street lights.

The very first bird chimed in, excited to sing up the sun. A tweet and then about four trilling sort of notes. Again. And again.

I realized I was grateful for the company.

And for the first hints of light. And the gentle glow of the white oakleaf hydrangea blooms.

And the rest of the bird chorus, pitching in.

And the delicate balance of our planet home.

So, I decided to keep going with my list.

I’m grateful that Luther is still sleeping, which is a big improvement around here.

For my favorite mug, fragrant with hot water and lemon.

And for the instant hot water faucet in my kitchen!

I’m grateful for the comfort of my favorite shirt. And chair.

And that I’m moving more and hurting less, which has a lot to do with good, local food.

And that Luther is still sleeping. (See above!)

And for Bill, who is also still sleeping, which is another big improvement around here.

I’m grateful for Sarah, who has decided to welcome the day with me.

And for Phoebe who is just quietly being Phoebe.

I’m grateful for air conditioning.

And for my kids. All four of them.

And for an idea about a gift for Kenzie’s 10th birthday which is fast approaching. (How did that happen?)

I’m grateful that my girls are growing up in a time when they can claim their own dreams and be who they are.

I’m grateful that they’ve taught me to speak out for them and for all our kids.

And for remembering, in these moments of dawn, hushed now with the early light, the things that matter deeply to me.

And for my family. For the stories that knit us together through time and life.

And for teachers becoming friends and friends becoming teachers, all busy re-claiming wholeness in the world.

I’m grateful for huge inspiration in a book I just discovered and for the new friend who gave me the hint to go hunting.

And that Luther is still sleeping!

And that I can see, when I look with my heart, the beauty in the rain-damp, cloudy day appearing outside my window, a-flutter with birds going about their business.

And for the promise of lunch today and time to catch up with a friend.

I’m grateful for all of you who are reading these words.

And for all the help it takes to make this writing thing work.

Is it possible that the birds are singing Amazing Grace?

I wouldn’t rule it out!

What’s on your list?

 

 

 

Perspective is everything!

I’ve been overwhelmed this week with flashbacks to Fathers’ Day (and Mothers’ Day) in the years I was serving a local church.

The major expectations.

The stories no one else knew.

The family that lost a son to AIDS.

The folks longing to be parents.

The families going through divorce.

The parents whose kids had huge physical and mental health challenges.

There just aren’t enough Hallmark cards in the world to make all the pain better on days when everything is supposed to be all warm and cozy.

I miss my dad.

I’m grateful to Bill.

And I’m delighted by my kids.

Here’s one of my favorite images of my kid the dad…

Dave, seated in the yoga pose known as full lotus on the living room floor, half buried in a mound of tiny, ruffly, mostly pink clothes.

Stain stick in his hand, filling us in on Vet School while pre-treating a load of little girls’ laundry. Just a normal day.

I started teaching him laundry when he was about 10 years old. There were some bumps along the way!

The body of a ragg wool sweater that got notably smaller in the dryer (!) while the sleeves inexplicably stayed their original size.

A purple Sharpie marker that went through the washer and the dryer with a load of the only clothes he actually wore in 8th or 9th grade. (That took some serious fixing!)

The years when he stored his clean clothes under the bed and the shock when he asked for his own iron.

He grumbled, of course. A lot. He swore he was the only kid he knew who had to do his own wash.

And then there was the day he called from his first week in college, ranting about his roommate.

He doesn’t know how to do laundry! What was his mother thinking? I had to teach him to wash jeans!

A good day in Mom-world!

He’s more present, in many ways, than I was during the years when it was just the two of us. And, just between you and me, there are still times I wish I could change that.

For this moment, though, I just want to say that my kid is an absolutely splendid dad. My heart is full.

Statistically, the world wouldn’t have bet on things turning out this way for us. There is, however, always hope.

Hold it tight.

Whatever your stories, blessings for you and yours this day. Sue

 

PS – The ruby slippers have arrived and, on the bottom, they say, “You have the power to change the world.” We do!

 

 

“There’s no place like home!”

I woke Monday morning faced with packing and a very long day of travel on the way home from the Rabbit Hole. Part of me wished that I had a pair of ruby slippers and could just click my heels three times and be home.

It turned out just as well that these powerful postmodern ruby slippers are still on their way from Fluevog’s magical shoe elves. It seems there was still more for me to learn on the bumpy flight from Portland.

There was considerable turbulence over Idaho and Utah. I was having trouble reading and decided to check out the movies. Once again, I found a movie with a message for me. A Dog’s Purpose.

Of course, I’d read the book by W. Bruce Cameron, but it had been a while. And I had tissues in my jacket pocket so I took a deep breath and pushed play.

I laughed and cried my way through the tale of a dog who returns in different lives with different people. Whether you understand that as fiction or heresy or theoretical physics or even actual possibility matters not. It’s a really good story!

If you’re curious, I’m going with theoretical physics on this one, with thanks to knowledge I most closely associate with Chunyi Lin, my Qigong teacher. Energy can neither be created nor destroyed. It can only be transformed.

Our hero, who starts out as a puppy named Bailey, is trying to figure out his purpose in life. Love. Play. Seek. Find. It almost reminds me of an Elizabeth Gilbert book, with the addition of chasing chickens and an unexpected friend named Horsedog.

That’s as far as I’m going to go with the story except to say that if you google A Dog’s Purpose, you’ll find lots of ways to watch the whole movie for free. (Hint. Hint.)

Oh, there’s even a Landseer Newfie named Roxie!

Oddly, much of my weekend down the Rabbit Hole was taken up with figuring out my purpose in life, as well. Or, more specifically, the expression of my purpose in this moment.

Like my flight home, it’s been a rather bumpy journey.

Mom. Nurse. Student. Partner. Pastor. Counselor. Leader. Coach. Rescue mom/Frequent Foster Failure. Author. Artist. Activist. Grandmother.

Ironically, my purpose turns out to be similar to Bailey’s:

Have fun. Find someone to save and save them.

Lick the ones you love. Be here now.

Ok, a little editing might be helpful. You get the drift.

Or, to put it another way:

Calling forth life changing new stories

out of old, limiting, ineffective ones.

Which sounds a bit Freudian, I’ll admit, but Freud wasn’t wrong about everything!

There’s more to come.

For now, I have the first couple of bricks in my yellow brick road. Also Faery Hair. And the world’s coolest ruby slippers on the way! The journey goes on!

 

 

Doesn’t that just wonder you?

First, let me just say that Oregon is fabulous and, if you haven’t been there, I’d highly recommend it!

The weather in Portland was, mostly, lovely. I saw lakes and mountains and rivers and waterfalls and places where many of those things come together, which is a wonder for this Mid West/South East girl. I had lunch in Washington State, adding yet one more to my list of states visited.

I have crossed through “Tsunami Hazard” zones (Who knew?) and over Humbug Creek, East and West. I even discovered the Museum of Whimsy in lovely little Astoria, OR. Really!

One particular highlight was a visit to Fort Clatsop where the Lewis and Clark expedition camped in Oregon Country during the winter of 1805-06. The model of the original fort left me feeling awed. I’m not sure I could have camped there for half an hour!

Everything being contextual, the only things I really knew before about Lewis and Clark were that they embarked from Missouri and they were accompanied and supported on their journey by a Newfoundland dog named Seaman.

Now, though, I feel some of what they must have felt centuries ago. Mostly the forest.

Hushed. Primal. Upholstered in whiskery moss. Living. Breathing.

A treasure not just as a teaching tool, but as a silent call to cherish and heal our planet.

And, I suspect, a strong imperative to go buy a scrap of every green fabric in my favorite quilting store and make an Oregon quilt.

Later, a lovely evening on the deck, complete with campfire-like candles, telling old, old stories and sharing new thoughts, too.

And then, the Rabbit Hole.

A place where everyone was born whole and enough. Where the distortions which have led us astray can be unraveled and edited into new, more helpful stories. Where it’s never too late to add new tools to our boxes, making more and more things possible.

In her fabulous Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott reads from the gospel of Toni Morrison:

“The function of freedom is to free someone else,” and if you are no longer wracked or in bondage to a person or a way of life, tell your story. Risk freeing someone else. Not everyone will be glad that you did. Members of your family and other critics may wish you had kept your secrets. Oh, well, what are you going to do? Get it all down…

Or, as the Rabbits would say, Transformation.

It’s a good word.

One of the most amazing insights for me was that much of what the Rabbits shared was familiar to me but I heard it through new filters because I have been busy being transformed.

I’m finding more and more connections between being and doing, especially as I look toward the future. Just writing these words feels all bubbly inside. My sure sign of truth.

When I was a kid, my farm Gramma, Elsie, would come visit us wherever we’d just moved and she always wanted to go see things she hadn’t seen before. From historic log homes to caves to alligators, her comment was always, “Doesn’t that just wonder you?”

Elsie has been along with me on this trip and I am mightily wondered!

A magnificent rose garden. Sun with cool breezes. Pure determination on the part of a room largely full of strangers to grow and learn. Possibilities. Hope. Challenge. New understanding. New friends.

I even learned to LYFT!

Many, many thanks to my guides for tours of body, mind, senses, heart, and spirit. You know who you are. And thanks to the Rabbits for the invitation. I suspect the adventure will go on for quite some time to come!

For now, though, a long flight home. Time to ponder and plan. A nap, perhaps, which often goes well with change.

And then?

More risks to take, helping others free themselves.

Where are the Rabbits in your world calling you?

 

The Prom

Once upon a time, nearly 30 years ago, I went to the Prom.

Oh, I’d been before. The usual high school events. Awkward dates. Social pressure. Anxiety.

This was different!

My second year seminary classmates and I decided we needed some fun after a pretty intense year filled with, among other things, Hebrew.

We got permission to have a Prom, reserved some rooms, and hired a DJ.

Then we started spreading the word. Lots of people were excited. All of them asked what to wear.

The response: “Dress creatively!”

And, we did.

I wore a royal blue taffeta bridesmaid’s dress I bought at the neighborhood Sears dump store for seven dollars. And a pair of earrings I borrowed from a guy in my class.

Several friends wore mix and match pieces of tuxedos gleaned from the clothes closet at Mission Haven. Kids were welcome, and mini-princesses were the hit of the evening.

We laughed and danced and took turns holding babies so their new parents could dance too.

It was a magical night.

Just recently, I got invited to something quite Prom-like again.

This time, I had no idea what to expect. The whole thing was a bit hush-hush. The host, clearly gifted at creating curiosity.

I also had no idea what to wear.

The answer, however, was familiar: “Dress creatively!”

The Sears dump store being long gone, another plan seemed in order.

This time I was transported in a LYFT chariot to a magical land of art and laughter and friends, familiar and new, the doorway to the Rabbit Hole of the transformation we all came seeking.

Black and white dots for me. A favorite denim jacket. And hot pink shoes. (Considerably more comfortable than the bridesmaid’s dress!)

We danced in colors and words and stories. There was even glitter glue involved!

If you’re curious about what happens next, so am I!

And curiosity is the perfect doorway to learning.

For now, check out more art from Flora Bowley, who painted the piece above,  sue

 

Non-stop to the Rabbit Hole

Bill and I were on the road so early Sunday morning that even the Baptists weren’t up yet. With the girls’ birthstones around my neck and a jacket of many pockets, we headed for the airport and the 10:00 am flight to Portland. Or, more likely, the mythical Rabbit Hole.

Large portions of the Delta terminal are under construction. The lighting is oddly eerie. Rather like a low-budget sci-fi film.  As usual, in Atlanta, the place was teeming with the sleepy, the harried, and the lost. And no hard-boiled eggs.

As a veteran people watcher, I’d say a bunch of athletes, folks excited about a cruise and, maybe, just maybe, a few others of the rabbit hole type.

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Opening Up Choices

Little changes can make huge differences!

Recently, we’ve been playing furniture Yahtzee again. It’s a Feng shui thing.

For a while now, the only chairs in my studio space have been my marvelous Relax Your Back chair and a cool desk chair Bill camps out in. Oh, and three dog beds!

I’ve been seeing coaching clients in the family room. In theory, it was a good plan.

In practice, not so much.

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