Jesus and Hallmark

When I was partnered, we called Valentine’s Day, “VD”. So, I never have been a fan of Hallmark holidays and the pressure it puts on lovers.going-romantically-spontaneous-valentines-day-ecard-someecards-share-image-1479833517.png
Nonetheless, I was a victim of the desire for something surprising and sweet. Flowers. Candles. Chocolate. Strawberries and that awesome sour cream/brown sugar combo. Words of appreciation. Little things that said, “I will try to give you what you want from love.” (Though I wouldn’t have said no to a trip to Venice, just saying.)
I learned to make sure my needs were met because life is taxing, it’s just a Hallmark holiday anyway – right – and no one can meet your needs completely. (Every woman learns to do this – and perhaps men do too.) If beauty is what you crave, you find some flowers for your table. Chocolate? Frans has a great sale the day after! We lay our hearts down for love – and disappointment is a real thing, no matter how much sweetness you see on your FB wall today. I was blessed. I have some very sweet memories of loving and being loved – so I guess I need to make my peace with VD. We know that no one person can fill your deepest longings. But we still hope for it. So much of love is about giving and appreciating and letting go. The letting go is such hard work.
The Christian tradition of Ash Wednesday makes a perfect pairing with Valentine’s Day. We are always on the verge of death. Love shows us this. And so does our very existence. The stardust that spun the universe into being is in our atoms. We come from dust and return to it.
So Happy Valentine’s Day. And welcome to your mortality, those who are willing to embrace it. Scoop up some dust (or mud) today and live well.ash
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In this week before Christmas I feel as if the world is sinking. Sinking to a worse self: falling out of line with the rhythms of hope that we need to survive and thrive. The earth itself seems forced to give up it’s life, whether by executive order or by those of us who are too self centered to respect our planet home. In the halls of power, in homes with unresolved traumas, in the villages and cities and protected lands of the world, in the spaces between the silence of relationship.

Aren’t I just miss Merry Sunshine? (Sorry mom.)sunshine giphy

I don’t think I compartmentalize well. I have always had melancholy tendencies, been easily over-stimulated and empathic, and was raised a “nice white Christian girl” so anger doesn’t always come out well and I feel like I can fix anything while being unable to fix myself. Kinda a conundrum.

The past few years has been a blur. Perfect job ending, house buying, house renting, abandonment by former colleagues/friends, jobs that don’t work for me, poverty,  cross country trips, fantastic friends who came to me at the end (really? way too late!), almost no music-making, divorce, moving into my girls’ childhood home, occasional bad relationship. The scales are tipped against my well being right now. I suppose I simply need to acknowledge that. reality-sucks-i-want-my-dreams-back-quote-1

The next two weeks I work 2 (two) 5 hour shifts. Period. If one is salaried or has paid days off, that might be a huge gift. It isn’t for those of us working hourly with no backup partner. It’s just you, baby. Most have no idea what that is like, so please don’t pretend you understand. You really don’t.

While I was living in Kentucky, a crazy thing happened. The National Corvette Museum experienced a sinkhole. Folks went to work one day and everything was normal. Expensive collectors Corvettes sat firmly on the building floor, which sat on the earth (remember how firm that is?) Then this happened:  Sinkhole

So this feels like my life. Who knew that could happen.

I don’t mean to whine except that I am where I am. Daily I move forward through the drear of Seattle winter. I remember the garbage dump families I have met, especially one man who was committed to gaining a skill that could support his family. I remember dirt floors and abuse and women survivors. I remember the company and laughter of my girls, awesome Seattle, old friends and new, my sisters (chosen and blood) – and the few men who have held my heart with respect and kindness.

Tonight I have a small housewarming. I discovered yesterday that my chimney needs repair so there will be no fire. But there will be awesome ginger beer. And laughter. And music. I hope if you cannot come, you will be there in spirit.

*Those of you who are in similar “sinkholes”, I know you do not need me to provide answers or advice or “honey, everything will work out.” Let’s just hold out a candle together tonight. I will hold a silent moment for you tonight at my gathering. 






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Will you come with me

into the evergreens?

We will tiptoe like birds, just a crackle through the bushes,

which have died with such radiance, now dried and partial bodies folded, some still hanging by a tiny forest thread

With a whir of wings when we need it, we will ascend

you there, me here

lifted by the wind and whispers

that flutter with the myth

that we are uncaged

yellow bird



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In a heartbeat

Warm mud squishes through my toes
I am walking through sand and shells, tide flats
and the narrow channel of the Swinomish river
which pours itself into Puget Sound
It is September 10, 70 degrees
a shelf of clouds dissolves into pristine blue
while the air exhales blackberry pie
I hear
the hilarity of mud ducks
A cadre of seals –
arguing with with the gulls who scatter
as the shadow of an eagle falls across
the shallow water
appear in bubbles
popping under my toes
while occasional conversation echoes down the beach
IMG_5712 (1)
I do not deserve this perfection
I have rarely lived well
on the earth
I have tiny courage and an insatiable desire
for love and loving; for knowledge and comfort
Fear drapes over my head like a scarf and
I have hurt loved ones mindlessly and intentionally
in ways for which I will never forgive myself
I do not deserve this
While I sit glowing…
right now
good people are smacked
with uncontrollable wind and surges of water,
their simple homes are blown apart
board by precious board
In a heartbeat everything can change – and does
None of us deserve
what we have
More than another
Not in the universal law of disproportional blessings and curses
Death rains
like it will here in a few short days
in sheets and mist and droplets
in between the incandescent colors of autumn
 IMG_5982 (1).jpg
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I watch the moon set behind the rainforest, it is a 6am

commute into the city, OctoberMoon set October 2017

Humming and warm, I drive on concrete past cedars skimming a mile of water, with just the hum of the wheels and car noises

Nearly whole and bigger than the sun, it is

cool and expansive and startling

like swimming in the lake felt last August.

-It was a terrible week-

the kind that makes you shake your fists at the sky, go for a second cup of why,

and demand recompense and justice and a complete metamorphose of reality

Another man with a weapon unloads on the innocent

 and the country free falls into suspicion and denial and a startling lack of accountability

the troubadour disappeared into the great wide mystery,

a loved one’s cancer diagnosis.


Sister moon, you have visited me before in your rising

but never as you dip west toward “the east”

never as a new day is peeking in

reminding the world – and me – that the risings and settings of life shifts across the earth

sometimes witnessed, sometimes covered, and that we must offer ourselves to the world regardless.

Thank you, friend,

It’s been a while.


Posted in justice, nonviolence, Peacemaking, prose, women | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

The voyage west

IMG_4800Six days ago I loaded a residual of earthly possessions (an espresso machine, musical instruments, hair products, and some clothes) into my CRV and began driving north, then west. Destination: Seattle.

After four years in Louisville, KY, I cried crossing the Ohio River while taking in a last long look at the skyline of bridges stretching into southern Indiana. I passed the goat milk farm, grieving insufficient or nonexistent good-byes to those I thought were friends, and settled a little as I peered through squinty eyes into Illinois and Iowa and a kick-ass thunderstorm. Thanks to family, I had a landing place, but no job. “What am I doing?” I screamed at the universe. “I mean, really? Haven’t I had enough for a few years?”

I had left the PNW when I was called to a fantastic justice job with my (Presbyterian) denomination. For over 3 years I met with global partners, workers overseas, and U.S. supporters and invited them to deeper work stopping violence against women and children and called them to deeper and more systemic work. As those who read the job description told me, it was a perfect job for me. It brought together my peace and justice work and my creativity and people skills. After 3 years, the position was eliminated and within a few months, my entire department. I could say more about that but will save that for another post.

As I began my “land voyage west”, I crashed the first night with friends who indulged me with kindness, bourbon, and sweet potato hash. It was the right beginning and I felt “sent” by them and those who made it possible for me to leave on time. A pod was en route to Seattle on it’s own time frame. IMG_4824

On day two I remembered some earlier coping techniques, intermittently scribbling observations of my surroundings and feelings. I drove through more corn miles than any nation should have, was swept up in gorgeous clouds and fields that emptied into the bewitching prairies of South Dakota.

I wanted this trek to be the primary transition I needed, longer (and more affordable) than a one-day flight. Something in me shut down when my job ended, even silenced. My work was gaining traction and had mobilized people. But now it was over. I took an interim job but continued to feel like I was wearing a corset around my heart and soul. Anger, grief, anxiety, and fear have a way of settling into my body that seems to take a while to unravel. The last 6 months, anger became my deferral emotion. This was something quite new to me.

But here, through middle America, under the wings of expansive skies and clouds that many only fly over, I took to the hum of the road. Prairies, whether farmed or free, have an exhaling quality to them. They breathe, in a way one can identify even driving 80 mph with headwinds.IMG_4880

Somewhere along day 3, I forgot that I was leaving somewhere I had called home for over 4 years. I was simply driving, breathing, taking in spectacular Wyoming, pushing myself to drive further. I wasn’t thinking so much about either coming or going and it gave me some peace.

The death of a dream is hard to get over. There is no significant closure – it is more like a divorce with dangling threads of connection. I was jerked out of the most meaningful work I had been part of and thrown to the wind. My dream wasn’t over. My work wasn’t over. But my position there was.

It took 6 days to make it Seattle. Montana fires, entertaining prairie dogs, voluptuous hills, and mountains that remind me why Seattle-ites have confusion about what qualifies as a mountain.rainier-fm-lk-washweb21

Wherever we are in our soul journeys, reinventing ourselves is always at work if we are to grow. It is not just for those in an unwelcome crisis. So, dive in, friends. Dive in.





Posted in Calling, family, God, happiness, Peacemaking, Reflections, travel, wisdom | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

Aging and snus

It astounds me sometimes that I come from snus-chewing, John Deere loving, gun-toting rednecks. Not that I don’t exhibit a bit that charm still, lucky you. We all grew up with strange and inappropriate colloquialisms that we do not realize are truly awful. Until one day we say out loud and then think: “OMG, THAT is so no appropriate!”snus

I spent over a week with my dad last month and let’s just say with our best southern accent,  “Sweet Jesus, who raised him?” As we age, our boundaries become a bit less stringent, and sometimes – perhaps – it would be better to be politically correct. I truly feel like someone who came from different parents. I suppose we all do.

My grandparents, dad’s folks, would have been – and likely were – appalled by his inappropriate responses, except for the racist ones. Perhaps this gave him a tiny degree of power in a family that was stringently Christian and all for “spare the rod, spoil the child”, and “President Reagan is our 6th cousin!!”  as if that was a thing. My dad has memories of being beaten regularly just on principal.

But now he is likely in his last decade and struggling through various health ailments. He has not lost his crass, embarrassing, and sometimes silly sense of humor. Thank God. I pray that will follow him to the very end. Even though it can really offend me. His life and living aren’t about making me comfortable. This truth is so hard for me.

Funny memories from those few precious and painful days:

  • I drive off 10 boxes and bags of magazines and newspapers to recycling – with permission from Pops (hallelujah!)
    • Day after:”Where are my magazines??” (from Pops after I did indeed dump them.)
  • “Where did you put my car keys?” (I show dad twice, tell him 3 times where they were. At the time he says, “great – I probably won’t need those for a while. No one has cleaned in that cabinet for 7 years!”  
    • Text from brother 2 days after I left: “where are dad’s car keys??” O.M.G. Really?
  • Recently from dad: “I need to drive again.” Me: “yeah, I bet!”  Dad: “I let my driver’s license lapse. Do you suppose I could get an international driver’s license?”
    • Me: “hard to know.” Translated: no possible way.
  • A day or so ago: “Since you cleaned out the cabinets, I need to go buy some more food!”  I say: “why don’t you eat what you have and then buy some more?” I text him a photo of the 1 cabinet of canned food I have. Silence.

As a kid I felt like I was “of another tribe”. Farm life stressed me out. I hated working there. No air conditioning and dirty old trucks with mice living in them. My poor philosophical, Jesus -loving mind and heart did cartwheels in on itself. My parents drank and smoked. Later I learned I was the only kid who realized at the time that it was probably not the healthiest. (So, yes, if that was the definition of super-sensitive, count me in.)

But I loved walking through the fields with my dog (one of the 14 we had growing up, may they rest in peace). I loved riding bikes to meet Jill at the bridge and picking wildflowers (ie. allergen weeds) for bouquets. I loved learning in a small high school where I had opportunities to not be a “brilliant child”.  But still smart, focused, and heart-driven. I loved my friends, my mom, my music teacher, my little evangelical church, and Shakey’s pizza.

We lost mom 10 years ago. And now dad is on the downward slope. His heart, vascular, lung, kidney, and sugar functions are a big mess. Any one of them could get too out of shape and we would be planning a funeral.

In the week I was with him, I attempted to help him dig out of the stuff he couldn’t seem to get rid of. Magazines from 2013. Food from 2011. He had over 20 “cheater” glasses in the kitchen alone. SMH.

And I attempted to make an emotional connect with him.

Dad is a sweet guy, but not so able to think beyond himself. He lived through a volatile father; The Depression; and developed a tiny problem with collecting (cheap) shit. He attaches to pieces of wood and plastic and clothing like they hold his life in them. Sometimes it feels like, without the “things”, he thinks he would evaporate (at least to himself.) Perhaps if he expressed this as a “missing of people or times”, it would make more sense to me. But he doesn’t have the ability to talk about his emotions that way. At least not with me.

I don’t know exactly why I am writing this, except to give myself a place to tell my story. Anne Lamotte says that is what we are here for, to tell our story. (Thanks Annie.)

Aging is tough work. It is spiritual and emotional and life work. Just as our early formation, there are themes and developmental needs, and processes that need worked out. And I suppose that is why I write.

Wishing you all extra mercy for yourself and your loved ones as you walk through the stages of life. Stay in touch.


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