Sunday, October 1, 2017

sunday grace: a blessing for the feast of st. therese of lisieux


blessed be the wildflowers who stand magnificent but unnoticed in a world of glittered supermarket chrysanthemums.
blessed be the sensitive souls, the tender hearts, the triggered.
blessed be the empaths, the listeners, the reciters of plath and cobain.
blessed be the little girls who bring home strays and hide them away in the garage, sneaking them scraps of dinner and carefully making a nest of old beach towels on the concrete floor.
blessed be the boys of poetry and music and dance and kindness.  (good god, protect them in this place of narrowly and brutally defined "man".)
blessed be the ones who choose depth over breadth.
blessed be the loners, the hopeful, those who see beyond this moment, this day, this world.
blessed be the truth-tellers, the secret-keepers.
blessed be the those whose skin registers the subtle sea change of a room when sadness enters.
blessed be the misfits.
blessed be the solitary tidepool explorers, foreign film seers, 2 a.m. taco truck diners.
blessed be the forgivers.
blessed be those whose hearts break open at the suffering of others.
blessed be those whose second language is sky, or preschooler, or unspoken emotion.
blessed be the unloved, the forgotten.
blessed be the childless who mother and father beasts and ideas and gardens and communities instead.
blessed be the true.
blessed be the wildflowers.

· · · · ·

the feast of st. therese of lisieux (the little flower) is october 2.


Thursday, August 10, 2017

tiny ghost stories


over here i am deep in the stories of my ancestors.

this personal history work feels urgent right now, so i am meeting that urgency and exploring my lineage.

i had no idea how a sense of curiosity, good research skills, a subscription to an online geneology service, and a dna test would bring together these pieces of me.  i've been consumed with uncovering the lives of those who came before me.  each new find opens a new (old) chapter and another piece that feels familiar and known and lived is clicked into place.

there are mysteries to be sure, and stories yet to unearth, but these are undeniably my people.  they are scots and quakers and apaches; immigrants and pioneers and mothers. they are warriors and english ladies, farmers and teachers; seekers of gold, seekers of survival.  there is love and adventure and murder and mad life skills. their trauma and their resilience live in my dna. i was shaped by each of them, biologically and spiritually.
i hope my life honors theirs.

here are a few tiny stories, in no particular order:

elizabeth, b.1731:  not to be out-badassed by her little brother (wilderness hero daniel boone) elizabeth was a courageous human in her own right.  her family lived within a fort deep in indian territory. they learned of an impending raid and wanted to give the natives the impression that they were unsuspecting, so daily fort life had to appear normal.  protected only by her wits and nerves of steel, elizabeth led a small group of brave girls from the safety of the fort to fetch water at a distant river, like they did every single day, with the knowledge that the indians were lying in wait, watching them.  this show of faux obliviousness boosted the confidence of the marauders and they attacked that night, and were met with a well-prepared and ultimately successful defense.

william, b.1725:  raised in the scottish highlands, william was a jacobite rebel, fought in and survived the battle of culloden.  he came to north america shortly after.

alzira, b.1830:  graced with dark exotic beauty and a foreign name, alzira made the covered wagon journey to san francisco during the gold rush with a months-old infant.  failing to strike gold, her young family settled on one thousand acres in sonoma county to work the golden land instead.  her husband died in california and she returned east to be with her family.  she had four husbands in her lifetime.

uncle cy, b.1903:  the "turkey king of oklahoma".  enough said.

wyatt, b.1856:  wyatt was a cattle rancher in indian territory.  he was killed in a saloon shootout and his case was the first murder trial held in indian territory.

mollie, b.1860:  mollie was accidentally shot by wyatt and carried a bullet in her shoulder the rest of her long life.

john, b.1578:  schooled at oxford and cambridge, john had a "reputation for learning" and spent some time in "the clink" in london for pesky "independent thought".  he migrated to north america in 1634 aboard the griffin, his only recorded luggage:  "his books".

sarah, b.1646:  lived to age eighty, which was an accomplishment in the 18th century, and was noted in historical publications as "never had an aching bone or decayed tooth."

sea deliverance, b.1744:  she only lived one year, but pretty much has the best name ever.

_____

also:  where i'm from

Sunday, June 18, 2017

sunday grace: the grace of beginning again


in this moment, irregardless of the chaos or confusion or exhaustion or despair, the option to begin again is available to us.  even if it's the fourth beginning today.  this option comes with each breath until the moment our breathing ceases.  the breath is our regular reminder to clear the table of the debris of failure (actual or perceived), stupid words, careless deeds, worn out ideas of who we are. the breath is our regular reminder to see with new eyes, love with an open heart, and take a first step into our ordinary brilliance.

"a friend.  is someone who supports your breath."  -nayyirah waheed

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

dear baby girls

mia and me, u.c.l.a. medical center neonatal intensive care unit, summer 1985

thank you for being my greatest teachers.

thank you for your continued love, despite the way i fumbled through this work of being a mom with equal measure of good intentions and immature nonchalance.

thank you for knowing in your souls what was not yet known to me on a physical level, those things i did not know how to produce via acts or words.  (in other words, thank you for still loving me when i had no fucking idea what to do or how to do it.)

thank you for showing me how to be vulnerable and courageous at the same time.

thank you for helping me learn that love is not a grand emotion, but the act of being present, whether broken or whole, in the most infinitesimal and inconvenient moments.

thank you for teaching me about trauma and trusting me with your own.

thank you for your graciousness when we cobbled together meals from a $1 package of tortillas, government cheese, zucchini and tomatoes gifted from candy's garden next door; when entertainment was day-upon-day of nature walks and sidewalk scavenger hunts and reading aloud from the stack of overdue library books as the evening sun streamed through the kitchen window at the little yellow house on kenny street.

thank you for huddling up close in bed on those nights the police helicopter lingered a bit too long over our block, the whack-whack-whack of the blades chopping through earned moments of peace, the searchlights over-illuminating the danger in our lives.  i had to practice bravery on those nights; the animal warmth of your body, the rhythm of your heart next to my skin, the awkward child length of your limbs simultaneously reaching for and pushing away my own gave me the impetus.

thank you for your patience and for letting me grow up with you.

thank you for the belief you hold in your heart that those who face and endure more challenges than the average bear arrive on the other side with a greater depth and capacity for joy, empathy, connection.

thank you for your forgiveness when i didn't always make the best decisions.

thank you for being exactly who you were at the time, who you are today.


Sunday, May 28, 2017

sunday grace: how to be remembered



friends, why did it take me so long to get my hands on our world, by mary oliver?  in its pages the poet remembers and honors her beloved.  something real and raw resonated here, in the words she uses to describe her love.  talk about #lifegoals.  i will have considered my earth mission complete if one were to think of me like this:

she "had will and wit and probably too much empathy for others; she was quick in speech and she did not suffer fools. when you knew her she was unconditionally kind. but also...you had to be brave to get to know her.  
she was style, and she was an old loneliness that nothing could quite wipe away; she was vastly knowledgeable about people, about books, about the mind’s emotions and the heart’s. she lived sometimes in a black box of memories and unanswerable questions, and then would come out and frolic — be feisty, and bold."

it really got me thinking about how else i would want to be remembered (and honestly, there wasn't much to add). thinking about this was a fantastic exercise in life clarification:

  • she would walk into the mess with you in a heartbeat
  • her home reflected the world she wished to live in:  colorful, quirky, diverse, full of life and the endless possibility of transformation, safe and peaceful, even if a bit disordered on occasion.
  • she stood with children and the vulnerable.
  • she stood against those who harmed others, who treated others unjustly, who used others for their own advancement.
  • she did not tolerate narcissists, large-scale or small, nor those who willfully looked away from examining the complexities of life.
  • she cherished true belonging while maintaining comfort in the roles of lonermisfit, outsider, rebel.
  • she celebrated and attended to the details, both beautiful and mundane, while never losing sight of the big picture.
  • she loved art and dogs and sunsets and mountains, california wildflowers and the bracing cold fury of the pacific ocean.
  • she never outgrew being read to.

#workinprogress

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

life lately


is tender and handmade, fur and poetry, sunshine and tears, tarot and flowers.