Someone else’s weather: Because some days you write a poem instead

I watch the weather in someone else’s city,
When dreams are dry and meaning rises slowly.
Wondering, bemused,
What would I wear today?
If I walked someone else’s streets
Instead of these familiar places where stories taste stale.

I watch the weather in someone else’s city,
When home seems unfamiliar and the walls too tight.
Wondering how the wind sounds
Sweeping someone else’s streets
Singing in the trees or playfully cavorting through wide open spaces.
Wrapped in smells sharp and sweet
Or tantalizingly filled with the scent of hurried humanity.

I watch the weather in someone else’s city
When the hour is late and night lingers long.
Imagining my surprise when
Someone else’s sunshine wakes me
Is it ocean or mountain, or buildings high and blaring horns
Waiting to greet my rumpled face when I peel back the curtain?

I watch the weather in someone else’s city
When choices are spare and hope runs fickle
While thunderclouds billow across my soul.
When someone else’s possibilities seem more likely
Than anything brewing at home.
I watch the weather and imagine myself
growing under someone else’s sun.


Sometimes I try and try to force words out that seem relevant or witty, and who reads poetry anyhow? (Hi Heather! I see you there waving) But today was a day when the words wanted to say what they had to say. Not a bad day or a challenging day or a day when anything is wrong at all. It’s simply not always up to me what comes out and when, or what form it takes. So if today is too weird and poetical, that’s ok. We all get to be who we need to be, and grown-ups don’t have to read books-or poems, or blogs-if they don’t want to. But sometimes, writers really do have to write them.

Can I be Honest a moment? Thoughts from a disgruntled procrastinator

Can I be honest a moment? I really hate Georgia summer. I mean L-O-A-T-H-E with every fiber of my being.  I’m trying to convince myself that “at least the mornings are still cool; It’s not so bad.”  But we’re already running the air conditioning every day, and I’m super bummed about it.  If there is a hotter, more humid, more unrelenting place in the world, I never ever ever ever want to go there. Blech.

I started a modified whole 30 eating plan on Monday. It’s mostly ok until the evening rolls around. Then I want to eat all the things including actual non-edible objects.  I’ve eaten nearly a pound of pistachios in three days in an attempt to keep myself from throwing down cheese, or chocolate chips or rice or bread.  On Wednesday, I almost murdered every person I encountered including the people who are the actual lights of my life and my dog.  I’m over that now, but those evening munchies are hanging right on.

I can’t stop watching Gilmore Girls. Call me late to the party again, but I have never watched it before. I started in January (after we entered political bizarro world) and finally, I have made it to season seven.  It’s like I’m cramming for the world’s most caffeinated and cleverly dialogued exam. I’m binge watching six or seven episodes a day. Must. get. to. the. end. so I can live again. Yes, I will totally watch A Year in the Life. NO! No one has spoiled it for me, so keep your opinion to yourself, Missy! (Oh hey, there’s some of the Whole 30 anger).

I am the world’s worst procrastinator. It’s something I struggle with all the time, and while I have made huge strides with it, I still find myself putting off what needs to be done. Then I rush, rush, rush at the end and beat myself up for it. Isn’t that a mean way to be to myself? I’m just sharing this because it’s 6pm Friday night, and I am only now sitting down to write today. All day long, I knew I needed to do this but I didn’t. So here I am. This whole self-awareness thing, and finishing what I start thing, and being creative thing, it’s easier in the morning. Please remind me of that tomorrow.

 Seriously, what is up with Starbucks and unicorns? Why are people acting so shocked and appalled at this drink (which looks like fairy vomit if you ask me.)? I’ll sit down and drink a cup of Starbucks any day, but friends, all their flavored drinks are sugared up garbage. It’s fine if you like it because every person gets to make their own choices about what they put in their body. But let’s all take a deep breath and stop acting like Starbucks has crossed some sort of moral sugar line with their latest drink option.  If you thought it was healthy to begin with, unicorns aren’t the only delusion you may need to be concerned about.

Incidentally, I don’t know if it’s the dreadful advent of summer or the fact that I just watched a Christmas episode of Gilmore Girls–complete with snow–but today I listened to the first Christmas music of 2017. It may be a record. I swear it was only a song or two, but still. It’s April. My anywhere-but-here vibes are spilling over my holiday boundaries. Maybe I’ll just have a little mini-Christmas celebration each month on the 25th.

Just in case you thought I have it all together all the time around here, I thought I’d take a moment to be honest. Some days are good. Some are bad, and some you just lay your cards on the table and air the whole thing out. And now, I have another Gilmore Girl episode calling my name.

Showing Up: How I wrestled with Anxiety and won…this time

Today I started with good intentions. I got up when my alarm went off. I decided to hit the streets before writing, loaded up my podcasts and off I went.  While I walked, I considered what to write about when I got home. In fact, I planned my morning perfectly to ensure maximum productivity.

I walked in the door and BLAM! There she sat, waiting for me. She leaped on to my chest, wrapped her grimy little fingers around both my lungs and squeezed.  As her weight slowly settled, my mind began to whirl with all kinds of ridiculous and terrible scenarios.

Hello, anxiety. It’s been awhile, I said.

My adventure with anxiety began around the same time I started therapy. She’s one of the reasons I went to therapy actually. Learned helplessness taught me I’ll never do anything right, but anxiety likes to remind me of all the things which haven’t gone wrong yet, but will go wrong eventually. She’s considerate like that.

A year of therapy provided me with many tools to combat anxiety. I use them all: reframing, meditation, physical evidence (sorry about all those texts this morning, honey. I needed to know you are still breathing; the building hadn’t collapsed; you still love me; you will always love me; yes, even though I am completely insane.), exercising, journaling. If it’s a holistic treatment, you name it, I’ve done it.  Usually, when mixed with time, they work.

Today’s joy ride with anxiety is sponsored by trauma. See, I don’t always get in trouble when I share my thoughts or feelings or theology publicly, but it happens often enough, and occasionally painfully enough, that a weekend of vulnerable posts has left me with an anxiety hangover.

The obvious answer is just to take the day off, right? Ah but see, those are my old patterns. When life gets scary, hide. Go dark. Disappear. If no one notices, then you won’t get hurt.

If avoiding attention were a professional sport, I’d be independently wealthy by now.

But I don’t want to be this way anymore. Plus, there’s the whole 100-day project to consider. Basically, taking a day off isn’t an option. So I ran through my bag of anxiety tricks. I looked anxiety in the eye and said, I can’t make you leave, but I won’t let you stop me either. 

Then I said it again.
Then I watched an episode of Gilmore Girls.

But finally, I looked anxiety dead in the eye and I SHOWED UP ANYWAY.  (Incidentally, if you were wondering, anxiety looks what would happen if a sloth mated with a dragon, at least, that’s what mine looks like, all claws and scales, and sinewy arm strength…but with speed and agility).

I don’t hold on to any illusion that my life will be magically different at the end of these one hundred days.  After all, it’s been two years since I stopped hiding and started working on recovery instead, and today I was nearly waylaid by an imaginary slagon (droth?) with long hairy arms and a desire to crush my lungs.

But I know some days, you worry less about a polished product and more about simply showing up. You may arrive with disheveled hair and mismatched shoes, but by golly, YOU ARRIVE!

Here’s to good intentions and excellent tools, to Gilmore Girls and afternoon coffee. Here’s to fear and faith and showing up anyway.

This is recovery. Some days, all you can do is show up and cheer. Might as well invite you to cheer along with me.

Introvert Cookies: how I defy cultural norms

Each week when we meet together for Celebrate Recovery, we have snacks.  It’s a well-known law in the south that wherever two or more are gathered in His name there will be a covered dish. Now, I’m not opposed to snacks in the least, but I gave myself permission to defy cultural norms and not take food every place I go. Therefore, I don’t snack socially anymore (the basic, don’t eat if you didn’t contribute principle – my own rule, not anything imposed upon me). It reduces my stress level and my waistline. Win-win.  But Monday evening, my friend was concerned about the quality of her cookie contribution. I sacrificed my principles and taste tested a cookie, strictly for quality control.

It was delicious. Amazing. Soft, crumbly, buttery shortbread cookie topped with melted caramel and chocolate, which then cooled into a sort of shell. If someone made a homemade twix bar, it would taste like this cookie, only this cookie makes twix blush with shame. I know this because after the first cookie I ate two more. I am the sort of friend who will sacrifice deeply in this way.

There was, however, one slight drawback to the cookies. The caramel, as it hardened, became very, very chewy. And as my friend does not stint on ooey-gooey toppings, it wasn’t a thin layer. The result was an amazingly, delicious cookie which rendered the eater entirely unable to communicate during the consumption process, or for a few minutes afterwards. Worth it.

While most CR guests are in small group, two or three of us set out the snacks in a separate room. This is where the quality control occurs, and it is where two of us succumbed to shortbread cookie ecstasy and silence for several minutes. What’s funny about this is both of us handling the set up are highly introverted. Together, we share our introvert struggles, anxieties, and what we like about our personalities, even when they make it difficult to fit in. We are also quite comfortable to be together quietly for large chunks of time, as introverts do. On Monday nights, these quiet setting up moments are sandwiched between two periods of high social interaction for us, This little bit of quiet space is always welcome.

So here we are, alone in a big room, chewing cookies. And chewing cookies. More chewing. And still more chewing, delicious buttery, caramel-y cookies.

It went on for a bit.

And then, we got the giggles. We attempted conversation, but we just couldn’t do it. We could not talk and consume this cookie at the same time. Instead we immersed ourselves in cookie-chewing until the experience ended. After we laughed and giggled…and ate another cookie…we decided to call them Introvert Cookies. If handed out to a room full of people, these cookies would halt conversation for a very long time. Which of course got us giggling even more. We had to eat another cookie to prove our hypothesis.

Sure enough, delicious silence. Just like I like it.

It’s interesting to me, as I look back, not just on this silly moment, but over the last year, how much more at ease I am with myself. My decision to eat before leaving home so I don’t have to take a covered dish somewhere, or my contentment with sitting quietly in a room even with other people around, or a hundred other quirks and oddities which make up the essence of me have long been a point of internal contention. One day I finally realized I don’t have to conform to popular culture. I don’t have to buy certain things, or eat certain ways, or be on certain bandwagons just to fit in.

I can do these things, and sometimes I do. But when I do, it is without pressure or resentment. Giving myself permission to be who I am has freed me to do everything more wholeheartedly.

It helps when we realize, we all exist in imaginary cultural boxes. Christians think this. Teen-agers do that. Poor people are this way. The world works that way.

Except it isn’t true, not all the time, or for every person. Boxes are neater, sure. And whole lot easier. We all experience tremendous pressure to conform to box where we mostly identify. But what would it look like if we didn’t? I don’t have the answer, but exploring the possibility has led me on a very healing and exciting journey.

If you like, we can share an introvert cookie and think about it.

Everything changes, all the time: Words for when you feel stuck

It’s the Monday after Spring Break which means my girls slothed around as much as possible yesterday, playing webkinz on their laptops and grumping about lost freedom. Of course, they’re all taking college classes now, despite the recently rediscovered online world of webkinz, so from yesterday to today, my life changes very little.

It’s an odd sort of year. Last year, I began feeling the push, for the first time in a long career of educating other living beings, to wrap up homeschooling.  I wanted to prepare for a new chapter with new challenges. I wasn’t tired of being with my girls, but I was tired of telling them what to learn and how to learn it. All of us were ready for some new voices in our lives.

I didn’t feel disappointed when this happened, a bit nostalgic maybe, but also aware this was the right time to prepare for ending a chapter and beginning a new one. My oldest daughter was graduating and the younger ones following in the next year or two.  I was ready. What I wasn’t quite as ready for was the sudden decision to start all three in college classes immediately. My eldest was right on track, and we decided to take advantage of a state funded dual – enrollment plan at the same school. Free-college education? Yes please, sign us up today!

This sudden shift in life direction, as well as other changes on the event horizon, has me at loose ends. I’ve read an absolutely ridiculous number of books, made multiple impromptu trips to Nashville, rebelled against the concept of dinner, applied for several jobs, experienced rejection over several jobs and daily restrain myself from packing everything I own in a box as an attempt to speed up these season changing moments.

I’m not sad about the changes, but I do feel stalled out by them.
Waiting is difficult, and I am not particularly good at it.

I’m always drawn to the big gesture. I like to rearrange furniture, paint walls and mow the lawn, all activities causing immediate, drastic visual change. Long-term, slow-process projects seem boring in contrast. I soon fizzle out, constantly looking for the next, new thing.  Obviously, perseverance isn’t one of my virtues, but making a big entrance surely is.

In response, I’m making lists. I have several notebooks and a bullet journal which help me visually chart slow, gradual shifts in my life. Even though I feel stuck, these marks on paper reassure me that everything changes all the time. Sometimes I just have to find more creative ways to see it.

There’s nothing wrong with a road trip or a new house. There’s also nothing wrong with noting the slow inner changes which don’t invite much applause, or even much notice. It is spring after all, a time when sudden raucous change slowly subsides into a gradual deepening and maturing meant to carry living things through the blazing, long summer.

Everything changes all the time, whether or not we notice.
Even me.