A year of noticing

I was recently in Los Angeles, California.
I went out for a two-day communication course called, Something to Say.
Rob Bell, a man I’ve admired for years, held it at the Improv.
It was fantastic!
Michael bought the tickets for my birthday and it was really meant to be the first thing I did in my part two.
I learned a lot.
I asked Rob, toward the end of our second day, “what do I do now?”
He suggested that I take a year to notice.
That I take a camera and photograph what I see.
That I take a journal and write down what I think.
That I leave my phone at home.
So, that’s what I am going to do.
A year of noticing.
It will be a strong practice of being present.
I will use the website ayearofnoticing.com for this next journey.
I will post what I see and do and think, there.
I hope you will follow with me.
I hope you also take the year and notice.
Notice it all…

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Five Year Stem Cell Birthday

Five years ago today, I was in the hospital
Isolation room, actually
And all alone
My stem cells were coming up to my room and I requested clergy to come with them
We prayed
I was so anxious
I was writhing with the unknown
Hadn’t slept at all
All the what if’s played on repeat
And the constant nag of negative never shut up
This was my only shot
I would die without this treatment
I had been dying for over two years
Slowly declining
Steroids and chemotherapy couldn’t keep it at bay for long
If this didn’t work I’d go back home to die
But it did
That little bag of stem cells saved me
Dr. Richard Burt figured out a way and
Gave me my life back
Allowed me to live, not just exist
So, today is my five-year birthday
I will celebrate with champagne and good friends tonight
I will go to sleep in radical gratitude
My life was transformed in that room, with those cells
Today I still feel myself becoming
I don’t know what the future holds
Or what tomorrow looks like
But, it doesn’t matter
I will be out living
Loving
Laughing
And saying a thousand thank you’s

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Liminal Space or is it Purgatory ?

I’ve heard the term “liminal space ” recently and it’s begun echoing in my head
Is that where I am?
Is that what “this” is?
And by “this” I mean my life
These days with no agenda or responsibilities
These days I’d have never thought could be pregnant with possibility
just with pottery class and Pilates

The google definition says…”Creativity and the Liminal Space. … The word “liminal” comes from the Latin word limens, which means, “threshold.” “… It is when you have left the tried and true, but have not yet been able to replace it with anything else. It is when you are between your old comfort zone and any possible new answer.”

My husband was raised catholic
He understands the concept of purgatory
I do not
I feel restless in this in between
I feel like everyday I’m going to find my next thing
My future
My passion and purpose are intertwined in part two
I just don’t know how to find them
The pursuit is real

So the phrase, liminal space, resonates
Loudly
It’s a label
It’s an answer to the inevitable question of…
“What do you do?”
Which I used to love
Now I loathe

Liminal Space is a thing
It’s a place I can claim
My flag can fly here and it can be any color I choose
It sounds like an answer

So if you call for lunch and get my voicemail
You’ll know where to find me
I’m at the threshold
Thriving
Thrilled to be alive
And Thankful

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Dandelion Seeds and Pregnant Cats

I have a very special attachment to dandelions
The actual flowers and references to them as well
Because I have a very special attachment to my friend, Shawn
She was one of my best friends in high school
In fact, I lived at her house most of my sophomore year
I adored her and life in her world
We laughed
A lot
Like you can, in high school
Her bed was by a window
Ground floor
Oklahoma is a very hot place, so we opened the window, a lot
And somehow we got the idea that it would be fun to crawl out that window, kick as many dandelions as we could, and crawl back in without getting caught by her mother
Byrline was a very tough, very strict mother
Getting caught was not an option
So it made it riskier and therefore way more fun
And the laughing
Oh my god, the laughing
Again, only the way you can in high school
Free, unfettered, loud and innocent
Giggles from your toes straight into your soul
So that’s why they are special to me

She had a cat, that wasn’t fixed
while in heat that cat made noises that I to this day
I have never heard or every want to again
Strange, guttural, evil sounds
That quite frankly terrified me
So, I tossed her out the open window
More than once
She got pregnant
Shawn’s mom wasn’t stupid
She knew it was me
The look she gave me, to this day I can still see and
I shudder
I tell that part of the story because it speaks to life long friends
It’s not all good
It’s not all giggles
Sometimes a cat gets pregnant

The very definition on google of dandelions says:
The common and humble Dandelion has a surprising amount of different meanings
Healing from emotional pain and physical injury alike
Intelligence, especially in an emotional and spiritual sense
The warmth and power of the rising sun
Surviving through all challenges and difficulties
Long lasting happiness and youthful joy
Getting your wish fulfilled
Since the Dandelion can thrive in difficult conditions, it is no wonder that people say the flower symbolizes the ability to rise above life’s challenges.

Pretty accurate of our friendship and of life in general
Shawn and I have seen challenges that at times we thought would end us
We’ve endured divorces, diseases and deaths
We’ve held each other over the phone line when the miles between us made a physical hug impossible
We’ve also celebrated

And yes, we still laugh
A lot
I know it’s not possible for everyone to have someone for life
Like I have Shawn
But, I hope that you have someone
Someone you can call and cry to
Someone that makes you want to try crazy things, just because
Someone who makes your soul happy with laughter
Someone who sends prayers to God with pure love on dandelion seeds
And if you happen to get their cat pregnant
Someone who can love you, anyway

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Padre

We all have a father
Some call him dad
Or Pop
Some refer to him as a sperm donor
But none of us would be here without him
Whatever the name you choose

Mine is getting older
Almost 80
He’s been tough my whole life
Very tough
But~
now that time seems shorter
He’s mellowed
A tiny bit
Very tiny
I feared him as a child
Now as an adult
I only fear losing him

Times a funny thing
We all have it right in front of us
Seems endless
Until it’s not
It’s gone
In an instant
And nothing can bring it back
But with me
It did
I got more
I got a lot more
Everyone and everything I was going to say goodbye to
I didn’t have to
I was spared
It rarely ever happens

Children are supposed to go after the parents
So, I wasn’t and now I’m pretty sure I will
I was going out on my time
Now I’ll watch as they go out on theirs
The mom and dad that raised me
Made me
Loved me
Will leave me
I am powerless to stop it
Powerless to know
how
when
where

I can hold his hand
Lean on his arm
Laugh at his jokes
Hug him
Sit at a meal with him
But I can’t stop thinking about what life will be like without him

He made me
Loved me
Guided me
I’m a part of him all the way through
The positives I am proud of
And the negatives I can’t deny

He still lives in the house where I was raised
My bedroom is still up the stairs
I can see it, in detail
First room on the right
Even though it’s been years
It would still feel like home
Just like he does

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A heart the size of Texas

In November, the week of the thanksgiving holiday, my mom was rushed to the hospital with heart failure.
She was unresponsive and had a tube down her throat when I got to the emergency room.
It was almost midnight.
They couldn’t get her stable and so I watched her, seemingly lifeless body, until 4:00 am when we moved to the ICU.
She stayed there for two days and then another five in a regular room that had a door.
She came home but she hasn’t been the same.
She has resisted “western medicine” since I was a child. Preferring yoga, meditation and loads of supplements not regulated by the FDA.
She’s also been a life long smoker.
So, now at 77, she’s in heart failure.
She hates the pills.
She hates the way they make her feel.
I am sure she hates not smoking.
She is on medicine to help strengthen her heart.
The same heart that guided me, loved me, raised me to care.
The same heart that buried a child that was stillborn at 9 months, 55 years ago. And buried a child that had just turned 53, three years ago.
The same heart that beat at the funerals of her own mom, dad and only brother and sister.
Her life wasn’t easy.
Her 27 year marriage to my father, wasn’t easy.
Raising 4 kids, I’m sure, wasn’t easy.
But she did it all with love.
A tremendous amount of love.
She has always been, to this day, the kindest person I know.
Compassionate to the core of her being.
Fostered anyone or anything that needed a home.
Being a mother, defined her.
Being my mother, she defined me.
She taught me to read and write, yes.
Letters she cut out in sandpaper
Tactile, visual and auditory learning
She taught me to love books.
Love the smell of a library.
Know the librarian by name.
Taught me to carry a book with me everywhere, because you never know…
She encouraged me as child when my poetry was so, so very bad.
She encouraged me with the crayon box, to use every color.
She let me pick out my own clothes,even if it meant a tutu over jeans but under a dress.
Everything was an adventure
She was curious about all of it, every day, all the time.
She let me be bossy.
She let me be bold.
Education was vital to her and for her to teach was like breathing.
Beautiful and smart, what a legacy.
This isn’t her eulogy.
It sort of feels like one.
I’m not ready to let go
Say goodbye
Not see her anymore
Not
Ready
At
All
Probably never will be
With all of this
And a heart as big as Texas
I’d just assume she’d go on forever
Just like her love

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Grit & Grace

 

So, I read something this morning that stopped me in my tracks.
” The body can live without food easier than the soul can live without meaning.”
Thank you, Richard Rohr.
He goes on to say-“Life is all about winning by losing-losing with grace and letting our losses teach and transform us”
I find this powerful; as I find myself broken
Yes, broken.
I’ve come a long way.
I am walking and alive and I am so very happy.
But, I am also aware that I am no longer what I was.
My body isn’t working the way it once did.
My four-year check up showed I’m essentially unchanged from last year.
And the year before that.
My mom says I’m grieving the loss of my legs, life as I knew it.
Maybe
Probably
But, I’m also aware that everyone, in some way, is broken.
We just hide it
Lie about it
Cover it up and
Compensate
I played that way my whole life
Using clothes, makeup, hair color, shoes…purses
Anything to make me feel better
It’s why my sister drank
To feel better about being broken
Some scars are easy to hide.
Some illness are invisible
And some are very obvious.
Today is my twelfth wedding anniversary.
I look at what we have lost as a couple and its crippling to think about.
Me literally being crippled
But I am
My husband worries everyday he’s not with me.
He watches my every move when he is.
I have spent the last four years trying to prove that I’m ok.
Being brave
Feeling terrified and doing it anyway
Pushing myself
Smiling with gritted teeth
Swallowing the disappointment every time my right foot,still won’t move.
Swallowing the fear that it might not ever move.
Wiping away the tears before they fall.
Picking myself up when I fall, again.
Grateful I didn’t break any bones, this time.
I actually have a lot to be grateful for.
A
Lot
I am stronger and better and more active no matter what the tests say in Chicago.
But, as I turn the other cheek
I have to realize I can’t turn in a circle
Or look over my shoulder when I’m walking
Stand in the middle of a room
Or on my toes
I am broken and trying to find the meaning.
Trying to find the message so I can help-
Myself make sense of all this
And quite possibly some one reading this
To make sense of their loss-
Their own brokenness.
I have been searching for meaning, everywhere.
I order books on Amazon like a gambler puts coins in the slots.
I am relentless in the pursuit of figuring it out.
Explaining the unexplainable
Praying the same prayers that have never been answered.
Nobody knows what will come back from the nerve damage.
Recovery wasn’t promised
Eradicating the disease was
So, here I am
Broken and Alive
Owning the things that don’t work
Living with the things that do
And finding a balance between the two
I know that it’s dark in the belly of the whale.
I know how time drags when a question goes unanswered.
I know what real anger towards God looks like and feels.
I know what an effort a shower takes some days.
But
I also know what real love looks like.
I know what true tenderness is.
I recognize sincerity and compassion in a whole new way.
Most of the time, I never think about being broken.
Most of the time, I’m just trying to live my life.
Most of the time, I’m just happy to have lunch plans.
But
I’m also searching for the meaning.
I’m trying to figure out how to live revealed
not concealed
I’m asking what now.
I’m asking how this life can be used.
I’m asking for the lessons to be made clear.

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