Lessons From the Pool

I’m humming it but I don’t want to write it.

The truth is, there is a lot that can happen, that needs to happen, between the edge of the pool and Dory’s mesmerizing ditty.

What I hear this morning above the swirl of lyrics is you can’t swim away, or walk away while still holding onto the railing.

I see the child in the pool screaming. Holding onto my neck, or the railing by the steps. Refusing to let go because he knows letting go means going under. Unknown. It requires effort opposite to all of the life he has known.

Before today, before a lesson in swimming or life, breathing wasn’t a thought. Now it is something to consider, to control. You don’t have to say to the child that inhaling under water causes death. He knows.


A Cry Stolen from the portfolio: Show You Yours

Now, on the edge of the pool, you have been asked to stop what you know keeps you alive. This is a lot to ask of a child, regardless of age.

I love being in the water.

I am not good at holding my breath. Which probably says a lot about me.

Holding your breath is one part control, one part letting go. It is knowing that you can’t live holding onto the railing. It is suspending one belief for a deeper knowing.

Today I want to find a way to be in the water. To believe that letting go of the railing will mean I get to do one of my favorite things–be held by strong arms that spin me around like a 4 year old princess.

Because you can’t laugh and feel fear at the same time.


A Bonsai Encounter

Bonsai, Seattle Washington

Bonsai, Seattle Washington

They are small trees. It is an art form. We find small adorable. Understandable. It gives us control.

I am an artist. I create. I often start with a seed–a piece of art, writing, a color made by someone else. Not unlike a bonsai artist. God made the tree and the artist makes it to their own by placing it in a pot and pruning it.

Facing those trees.

My mind flashed to the movie Flicka. I was the horse thrashing to get out of the trailer.

cage-like displays

cage-like displays

The first tree on display was, or rather has been a bonsai since 1970. Forty years as a piece of art.

The displays list 2 dates. The date of origin, then the date the tree became a bonsai. These trees, they lived and grew before being pruned or possessed.

Each of these unique creations had a version of an artist’s statement on a plaque below the tree.

The first one I noticed had been captive, had been a form of art for 43 years. Some had dates spanning more than a hundred years. One claimed to have an origin date in Japan before Europeans were said to have traveled to Seattle.

I see two sides. Creating is an expression of God in us. We were made with such desires to shape, to color, to leave a mark.

I also see bound feet, birds in cages and power struggles.

112 Sierra Juniper juniperus occidentalis

Known also as “Western Juniper”, this Sierra juniper was collected by the artist in 1975, about 40 miles south of Tahoe, California. It has been trained into a double trunk, informal upright style.

An important feature of the tree is the prominent area of dead wood at the front. In nature, this often appears as a result of sun scald or desiccation of the foliage on sunny winter days when the roots are frozen and cannot supply moisture. This dead wood gives the tree a very aged and natural appearance. Live tissue at the rear of the tree support the entire crown.

Usually what offends us is truth poking our sore spots. Being contained and pruned both stood up and said ouch during my outing at the Bonsai Gardens. The shock came from the timing.

Three years ago, I could have voiced the pain of containment. Being contained, trying to remain contained, was my life for better or worse.

Two years ago, pruning was my story.

215 Korean Hornbeam Carpinus turczaninovii

Korean hornbeam is native to both Korea and Japan; it is known as a “Korean hornbeam” because it has traditionally been a popular export tree for Korean commercial growers. It is a highly regarded bonsai subject because of its fine, dense branching, chalky white bark, and blazing orange autumn leaf color.

Imported to the United States in 1985, this tree was grown in the ground prior to pot cultivation to develop a strong base and thick trunk. A common technique for enlarging the base is to allow numerous “sucker” shoots to develop from near the soil line. The large scars that sometimes result when the shoots are removed add a sense of age and character to the trunk.

heart break in tree form

heart break in tree form

Not all healing comes with memory loss, or a once and for all.

***One month from today, Saturday May 11 is World Bonsai Day. Quoted (indented and italicized) text taken directly from displays at the Weyerhaeuser Bonsai Gardens.***

Self-Imposed Trial Retirement

I went in with questions.


I am coming out with questions. More questions.

I did not have a plan. I did not make a plan.

Overall, my bills did not change. My income stopped. House sitting did not pay, it was a means to cut hotel bills out of the equation.

This is true of most retirements. The bills don’t change but the income does. Retirement is the time in life when major changes happen. You quit the life that you had to restructure your days and all of its aspects are touched.


I did not leave my worries at the door. I did not get a tool box of tricks for Christmas that were picked out for this journey.

I got to sit alone by the sea. Sometimes with stretches of sand all to myself. No schedule. No where to be and no one with any expectations or needs waiting at home.

What comes is endless stretches of time. An empty stage, a microphone turned on and picked up by your inner critic. No hook from someone standing off stage left to remove the heckler because there is no one else.


Silence makes your sense of hearing more keen; like eyes adjusting to the dark.

Silence might be good medicine, especially for those weary from our multimedia world. As mothers know, what is good for us is not necessarily our first choice, or the most savory.

Ask a woman pregnant with triplets how restful bed rest is and you might hear words that you don’t associate with relaxation, well-being, reprieve.

Silence can be the same. Necessary. Life-giving. And a gift to be endured until you can find the endearing.

Allowing silence to restack the blocks of my life into a new structure has been startling, sad and absolutely necessary. Now to stand back, regard what is before me and determine, if as Rilke said, I am  “a falcon, a storm or a great song.”

Status Update

morning pondering

Blog post ideas come and go. There may be enthusiasm, tiny fragments or rushes of emotion. But all evaporate. Ten second voice recordings hint at what has come across my path.

I cannot seem to hold any of it.

I have let doubt sit down on my lap and given him a can of spray paint to obliterate whatever floats out of me.

I came to this place to sit and sort. To invite emotions and notions to come my way. I forget that they all come as they are. Fear doesn’t sit gingerly with crossed ankles on the sofa of your conscious mind. Doubt is rarely the quiet one in the corner.

No. These tea part guests are persistent and pernicious. Even when you shoo them out the door, the job of cleaning up remains.

Fear leaves imprints in the seat cushion so it knows where it belongs. Doubt hides crumbs, some more intentionally than others that you find in your more public moments.

It takes steam cleaners and gadgets you did not have when you sent out the invitations to this new life tea party play date. Your budget did not account for such expenditures.

A month in and I am standing in the mess of my life. The mess that I thought would be the shake loose and learn to run free part.

I want smaller, yet I don’t think smaller wants me yet. For one who struggles with taking up space, I can see the need for a place big enough to let me be, as big or as small I am.

Beach House on the Horizon

These girls are fun. These girls are wise. These girls have a beach house and they are going to share it with you. Need I say more?

I’m in.

Are you?

Did I mention that all the fun this year is FREE?

A free get away to a beach house full of amazing women. Ok. So you don’t have to pack, or sweep up sand, but you might need some imagination and a few friends to make the experience more fun.

Registration starts today,  Monday Jan 14, as in Today! Right now! Sign up today and get a sweet little gift. Sign up anytime and get the Best of the Beach House 2012 eBook.

Wanna see more details about the weekend? Just click here. Or come to the pj party tonight–9 p.m. EST over at #inRL.

I have no idea where in the world I will be come April, or at least I don’t know where my mail will be addressed, but the weekend of April 26th, I’ll be connecting with women I adore from all over the world.



#Itsallaboutgiving and grammar and twitter

There are so many things, ideas, people, that are beyond my grasp intellectually. I’m working on my understanding of string theory (and its application biologically in our bodies) but I can’t seem to grasp the hashtag. Is it air quotes all technified?

source: compassion international

Another little something that I don’t understand. Poverty. Children who suffer. Parents who walk away. Moms who have to leave their 2 year old alone to go gather sticks to sell in a market. Choosing who gets to eat today.

Ok. So that is more than one little something. It is a big problem and one that I may never understand this side of heaven. I’m accepting that I can’t understand it. Only because I know that my life was meant to do something about it.

I’ve already sent off my Christmas gift to Joseph, Nelson and Silvana. The three wonders that I have told you about before. Now it is time to choose a gift for someone that I don’t know and will never meet. Grace flung far from my hands to do good simply because grace was slipped into my hands in the first place.

Consider exchanging the chaos of the mall for the comfort of your home, and the ability to provide a small portion of comfort to someone else. Bring a glass of clean water to a child. Help a mom stay home with her children and still be able to feed them. Every choice on every page of the catalog will feel better and last longer than whatever plastic electronic piece of whatever (wrapped in more plastic that is impossible to remove!) you may find on a wishlist.

Know this, there is no guilt or arm twisting here. Getting information is the only way to learn. This is information I  have that I wish to share. Understanding the why of poverty is not required for anyone to take action against it. And until I get more of my grey matter to march on a different path, you are safe from posts regarding string theory and epigenetics. You are welcome.

Now off to twitter to tell all my zero followers about this wonderment. There is grace indeed even in that–the zero followers that is. Kinda of like falling down in public, getting up and realizing no one saw you. Ya. Just like that.

I’ve had a nightmare. Had plenty of them. This is the most recent. My mind works out my days under the kinder light of the moon.

Waking, my mind pulls that string of thoughts out from under the comforter of night and my delusions that nightmares are not real. The dream, the reconfiguration of daylight truth, tells me that we all bribe someone, sometime. We cover up. Believing that one good thing makes up for one bad thing. Life math. 

No thing makes up for something. No one thing amends the other. Rewriting history is an excuse we use in the present. Amendments only work for what is next. They do not heal. The amendment makes the story read different today. Nothing makes the story read different in the past.

Forgiveness covers the sin. The One who is Alpha and Omega finishes the story by healing the past in the present so that ending is what He wrote in the beginning.

As I write through these narratives, recording the dream, I notice I am rocking. Or rather, I am being rocked. I think to myself, “stop”, stop the motion. It doesn’t happen. The rocking hasn’t soothed me yet and so my back continues to be strapped to the metronome and continues its swaying.

I think, “I canot write and rock.” There is a sadness in thinking that I would want this rocking to cease.

As the swaying slows and gets smaller and smaller, I know that it is not the last time.

I can’t back space or delete my way out of these stories. I cannot post a happy photo at the top and hope to persuade you that the story has a light feeling to it.

Forgiveness is the bridge over the chasm of the sin. We are incapable of building such a structure. The sin carved the canyon. Forgiveness made the way to keep going. 

Encouragement for a Fellow Peace Seeker

I have lived in your house. Grown up to build a replica of the first. Walls dripping with the sweat of anticipation like a house in the south before air conditioning. Carpets of lies always underfoot—worn through from all the pacing, as if that would spin truth out of the wool of deceit.

Little did I know that long ago I had hired Love as the gardener outside my home. Love pulls out the saplings of bitterness before they take root. Love grows on the outside, whether I look out the window or not.

Perhaps Elder Thaddeus would encourage you to seek the Gardener.

**Written to encourage Tonia to leave the Truth on the page, so that there is no reason to turn from it.***

Geography Lesson

Do you homeschool?  Have school aged child with homework questions? Do you discuss world events around the dinner table?

May I suggest a tool for you?

You can teach your children about geography and current events by using the Compassion website. There are children from around the world that are part of the Compassion International program–children from 26 countries now, I believe.

The child sponsorship page can be searched by country, age, gender or birthdate. Some children have symbols on their pictures, each with a different meaning. This could be a good springboard for discussions about maps and map legends. Or, for older children, you could discuss what the symbols means–one of which signifies that the child has lost a parent.

The website can be a way to start many conversations–about poverty, compassion, clean water, hunger, culture, and giving.

t-shirt from the Compassion International store

After the lesson, or the homework, maybe you let your child search for others who share his or her birthdate? This could be a way to encourage your child to pray for others–a simple print out of the page could be a reminder that the child could look at to pray for a child in need, and the child’s future sponsor.

If sponsorship is something you wish to pursue, you can click on any link in this post to direct you to the Compassion site.