In the soft heart of June

 

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June whispers in my ear, beckoning me to stop and drink her in.

Her discordant song echoes in layers, defying the mathematics of music.
What is this confused passion?
This abstraction — perfectly balanced?
The treble of the gnat,
The bass of the bullfrog,
The trill whistle of the bird,
Never a more tangled rhythm beats in the soft heart of June.

Each creature moves to the drumbeat of the Flower Child,
who’s finest garb is strewn about her messy room.
The amber and cerulean bluebird stands guard outside his nest, while his bride arranges her cradle.
The hummingbird skillfully hovers, his wings beating a buzz, before he jets off to fight for his place in the sky.
The turtle lazes in the warmth of the sun, atop a fallen tree, while the dragonfly jettisons across the water.
June’s energy is endless and her laughter rings through the trees.

Paintbrush in hand, she strokes the lightest of light.
Her hand does not shy from the darkness of night.
Her skies churn charcoal grey and electric blue,
and palette knives scoop white upon white.
Her petals scream color,
Her fireflies ignite,
A climax of wonder, the longest day of light.

June brushes soft against my skin.
I stop, quiet, and give myself to her.
Resigned, there are no words fit to describe her wild beauty.
She spins, slowly, in pirouette,
Then, on this, the first day of summer,
I watch her laugh as she begins to dance away.

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Photo by Amy Treasure

Suzanne’s Tattoo

I had no idea, last year, when I scrawled  I Want to Live Alive  in my journal, that it would become Suzanne’s life theme and mantra. She cherished the words and set out to make them true. She set out to live her last days fully alive. 389f6f01c8011417c02cc55e05b4ecfa

 While cancer loomed, she chose to push it aside, even when discomfort became a constant reminder. She was determined to enjoy the chapter she had left- and she made it her mission to teach others to do the same.

In her effort to live alive, Suzanne approached her days methodically. She simply did the next thing- whether mundane, like organizational tasks, cleaning and laundry – or more purposeful things – like having healing conversations, and orchestrating intentional time with family and friends. She did it all with excellence and with all senses engaged.

She also threw herself into her Bible reading and gathered strength and perspective to face the rugged terrain ahead. All the while, she looked for ways to serve others, and nudge them to live more fully alive.

In the end, with her beloved husband and family at her side, Suzanne faced forward and did the last thing on her list. She crossed to the other side as a representative of faith, love and grace. While we say goodbye to her physical presence and loving care, we will never be without her tattoo –  her firm instructions to us: We are we to celebrate her life, but we must also celebrate our own. Live Alive! Rest in peace, beautiful woman. Your life has been a lesson to cherish.

If you would like to read the original blog post which was an inspiration to Suzanne in the last year of her life, follow this link:  I Want To Live Alive

Your life, your signature…

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“Despite overall similarities, each nest identifies it’s maker as surely as an artist’s signature”
Maryjo Koch

 Mommy… Did you know that your nest bears your signature?
When you stand back, what do you see?
I remember the days when my children were small.
My girlfriend would come over with her little battalion of boys
and I would make a pile of french toast.

The children would dress up and run barefoot in the grass.
They would make mud balls in the puddles.
There was laughter.
It wasn’t always neat, but it was always pretty.
It wasn’t expensive, but it was enough.
My nest was full of life.

What does your nest say about your life?
Is there music?
Does a candle flicker, adding a glow to your kitchen?
Have you taken your little one out to plant a seed?
Is there laughter?
Do you have time to drink it in?
Do you find yourself crying tears that flow from a pool of gratitude and love?

Who cares if it gets a little messy, just make sure it’s pretty.
Blanket forts are pretty.
Children in footy pajamas, surrounded by piles of books —
That’s pretty.
The mess of life —
That’s neat.

Or is the place in front of the television,
or the iPad in the lap,
or the phone in the hand — is that stuff of your day?
They will remember
and may become too dull to care.
Don’t allow entertainment to smother the life and creativity out of your children.

Take your little one out to watch the hopping robins tug worms out of the soft ground.
Take them out to pick daffodils and teach them to rub the soft petals on their cheeks.
Help them find the tiny buds that line the branches of spring.
Light a candle and use the fancy tea cups.
Write your signature with flare.
Today won’t come again.

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Maryjo Koch, Bird Egg Feather Nest,
via Meditations for Mothers, Elisa Morgan
Photo credit: Julie Falk 

Chicken Talk

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The sun shines — but it is a cruel taskmaster.
We lay eggs day in and day out — but we get nothing.
No beloved bugs.
No juicy earth worms.
Just forced labor in cold conditions.
More white matter tonight.

We need a union.

Borfingtina Whittier, spokeschicken

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Photo credit: Will Whittier 2015

Butter and Thunderstorms

I was standing in the kitchen, buttering a rice cake, when the Wil-de-beast magically appeared and chanted over my shoulder, “Do you really think THAT’S a good food choice- a rice cake slathered in BUTTER?”

I told him that women need a little extra fat in order to menstruate. That shut him up.  I turned to hide my mischievous grin and continued to butter the rest of my recycled packing material for consumption. Truth is- I would eat butter on a rock if it meant I could have it.

Besides- I need to butter-up in order to continue to support the Wil-de-beast in his exercise program.

I’d like you all to know- I doubled my miserable minutes in that Insanity program. I haven’t gotten past the warm-up and I already want to punch that guy that keeps saying “How we doin’ y’all? Keep pushin’, keep pushin’!” All that breathless sweatiness- just to be buff.

Don’t tell anyone- I’m actually sore.

But this really isn’t about exercise. It’s about adding up the little things. It’s about capturing moments to be alive and being thankful for them.

I did three favorite things that day:

1. I took a walk back into the woods:

My favorite part of the walk was the path…. I like places that have been worn away by routine- places that tell a story; places that echo with history. I like the patches that get worn away below the swings on a swing set. I like doors that creak, porch swings that creak, and stairs that creak. I hope George Bailey never fixes the finial that comes off in his hand on It’s a Wonderful Life. I like the feel of the old pages of a book. I like a well-worn path.

Photography by Nick Woodrow©2010. Used with permission.

2.  I worked on my garden patch:

I was thinking- as I worked on digging a new edge around the garden where the grass creeps in- that never in my life have I had to pull away so fiercely to get outside to work and breathe. Sometimes, I feel so overwhelmed with details and with tasks- that my day can go from morning to night- and feel as if there’s nothing in it; or is it that I’m not taking account of and being grateful for the little things that are there? Maybe a combination of both. Maybe the pace is too fast and my focus maladjusted. As an artist and a writer- my soil needs to be amended regularly- I need to put good stuff in, in order to get good stuff out. I need to do away with creeping weeds and open myself for the the battering of the till. I must have deep furrows in order for seed to stand a chance of sprouting. Both rain and sun must beat upon my breast so that with time and continual surrender good fruit will come.

Photography by ©KatVitulanoPhotos. Used with permission.

3. I put laundry away in my bedroom during a thunderstorm:

The sky was many shades of gray- tumultuous and filled with electricity. I opened the windows wide and watched the rain come in phases- at times pounding furiously on the rooftop outside my window. When the rain fell soft, I played some favorite love songs and found myself deep in hidden places. I dreamed of days past and lost myself in the sweet sadness that’s just inches beneath the surface of every waking moment. I had a little Pride and Prejudice moment- and a thought came to me.

I’ve noticed- that since my Taylor-bean isn’t around much- I live in a world of mostly men. That’s been a big change for me. This realm has it’s own particular sweetness- but some of the creative, girly things that happened naturally from day to day- now have to be intentionally sought after in order to bring balance. I have to break away from the muscles, sweat, and ball-bouncing to enjoy more feminine sorts of little things. Not that my men don’t enjoy thunderstorms and love songs… it’s just that those things don’t come in to the flow as easily.

With the rain and the song, I felt ideas, dreams, and memories begin to weave in and out of the melodies and I ran to get my book of thoughts and ideas so I could jot them down.

Oh, sweet and happy little things…

Photo by: Barbara Miers ©2011. Used with permission.

How about you? Any little thing you would like to share? Thanks for taking this journey with me…