The Joy of Forced Relaxation

My mother used to tell me that, for several years, when I got home from school, I headed straight for the couch and took a nap.  And recently, one of my relatives who is retired told me that he had the perfect daily routine: he woke up, had breakfast, read, listened to the radio or podcasts on his computer, then took his bike out for a 20 mile ride, came home, drank two glasses of wine and took a nap.  Then he ate a meal, wrote in his journal, maybe worked in the yard.  I cannot tell you what I would give for this life.  So I’ve been sick for about a week now and aside from the sick part, (and believe me, if I were sick from something really bad, this would be a radically different post) it’s actually quite lovely, because you see many things that you don’t get to see when you’re out in the world.

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Eat, Pray, Have More Tolerance for Other People’s Good Fortune

Happy second Sunday of Advent, my friends!  While I am quite certain that you are not sitting at your computers every morning awaiting the appearance of a post from me, I want to apologize for the missed ones this week.  Again, stomach bugs and sitting for long periods of time don’t seem to go well together.  I definitely miss you!  And I wanted to tell you about something I did this week that I absolutely swore I would not do.  In fact, I didn’t even really swear, I just knew that I did not have the slightest interest in doing this thing, so I barely thought about.  I watched “Eat, Pray, Love.” 

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The Coming

The title of this post sounds like it could be the name of a horror movie, doesn’t it?!  But hopefully by the end of the post it will make sense why I chose it.  Here’s some of what I’ve learned so far in my research about the meaning of Advent: historically, the primary sanctuary color of this church season is purple.  This is the color of penitence and fasting as well as the color of royalty to welcome “the Advent of the King.”  Purple is still used in some traditions (for example Roman Catholic).  The purple of Advent is also the color of suffering used during Lent and Holy Week.  Some articles I read say that this points to a connection between Jesus’ birth and death. The idea is that the nativity, the incarnation, cannot be separated from the crucifixion. One article said, “The purpose of Jesus’ coming into the world, of the ‘Word made flesh’ and dwelling among us, is to reveal God to the world through Jesus’ life, but also through his suffering, death, and resurrection.”  So even though I feel a little self-conscious about starting off on this slightly-too-churchy for me language, there are two things I love about this information…

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September Heart of the Month: A Challenge to All of Us

Happy September, my friends!  Today I have some good news and some good news.  Which would you like to hear first?  Okay, I’ll start with the good news.  My freshman-in-high-school son has now made it through two full weeks and so far has: figured out how to take the bus there and back (mostly), learned how to open and close his locker (sort of), found people to sit with at lunch (the hardest thing about high school, in my opinion), met a girl who has drawn his name on her notebooks and binders (of which I hope she has more because it seems a bit early in the game to make that kind of commitment), not gotten anyone pregnant, not contracted an STD, and has actually spoken enthusiastically about a few of his classes.  Thank ya, Jesus!
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Project Spread Cheer @ Work: Unexpected Kickback & a Useful Reminder

Regular readers know that, inspired by Summer Pierre’s Artist in the Office, I’ve been doing an ongoing project at work called “Being a Secret Messenger for Good.”  This is my third update, and well, let me say, quite an unanticipated development. 

Because I wanted to reach both male and female coworkers with this little project, a male colleague has been helping with the placement of the inspirational quotations (in the men’s bathroom).  The method is this: I put a quotation in a brown inter-office envelope and leave it in his mailbox, and he hangs it up.  Then he returns the previous quote to me. 

But last week, when I opened the brown return envelope, I found the quotation that I asked him to hang up with a  Post-it Note stuck on it.  He was RETURNING it.  

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“My Heart is Like a Singing Bird”

[Note: Not an in-depth post, but a happy, joyful one in gratitude for all the love I received on my birthday, and for being alive in this good, sweet life.  Never perfect, always blessed.]  

A Birthday 

My heart is like a singing bird 
Whose nest is in a water’d shoot; 
My heart is like an apple-tree 
Whose boughs are bent with thick-set fruit; 
My heart is like a rainbow shell 
That paddles in a halcyon sea; 
My heart is gladder than all these, 
Because my love is come to me.  

Raise me a daïs of silk and down; 
Hang it with vair and purple dyes; 
Carve it in doves and pomegranates, 
And peacocks with a hundred eyes; 
Work it in gold and silver grapes, 
In leaves and silver fleurs-de-lys; 
Because the birthday of my life 
Is come, my love is come to me. 

Christina Rossetti 

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A year or so ago, I decided to teach myself to memorize poems so that I could recite instead of read them when I do workshops, because it’s much more powerful, and it makes the poems more accessible.  The first time I did this I was scared to death, because it was awkward and slightly weird, and I was afraid that I was going to look ridiculous.  I may have indeed looked ridiculous, but it was also very exciting, like speaking a new language, which in fact it was.  Now I love it.  

I recited Yeats’ “The Song of Wandering Angus,” when a colleague asked me to come talk to his class about writing, and it was a lot of fun because that poem rhymes.  Today’s poem by Christina Rossetti is one of the first ones that I learned, also because it rhymes, which makes it much easier to remember.  And it is exquisitely sweet and joyful.  I feel happy every single time I say this poem, which I once did while walking with a friend on hard, crunchy winter ground (now that I’ve started I can’t stop myself). 

But today it is spring, full-on and bounteous.  I promise that if you say this poem out loud a few times, your heart will lift up.  I promise.  [note: “vair” is a kind of fur that was used to trim cloaks; don’t feel weird saying it.]  Give it a try!  And let me know how it makes you feel!  It doesn’t have to be your birthday in order to celebrate your one sweet and precious life.  As always, my heart is glad to know that you are here! 

Here’s some of what my birthday looked like: 

a beautiful orchid that I hope I don't kill
balloons--immediately co-opted by Gabe
it might be my birthday but the balloons belong to the little dude
lemon raspberry cake on my new cakestand!

What I Really Meant to Say About Leisure Time

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Something has been bugging me about my “leisure time” post for the last few days, but I didn’t want to admit to myself what it was.  Today I did.  Even though it was a perfectly fine post, it did something that I would like to stop doing:  it took the easy way out.  I complained about something (again, perfectly fine, because saying that working women have 30-40 hours of leisure time per week is ridiculous), but I didn’t take my thinking to the next level.  I didn’t offer anything new in place of what I was criticizing.  This is kind of lame. 

Anyone can criticize, and some things deserve to be criticized (did I mention that saying that working women have 30-40 hours of leisure time per week is ridiculous?).  But writers worth reading don’t stop there.  They think, and imagine, and envision new ways to see what is ordinary and commonplace.  There is so much stuff to read out there, and I made this commitment to myself and to people whom I asked to read my blog that I would try my best to be a writer worth reading.  I learn more about how to do that every single day. 

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“Afraid Yet Filled With Joy:” The Blessings of Easter

Two amazing things happened to me on Good Friday as I was driving to meet some friends after a crazy 36 hours.  The first was that I passed Jesus on the street.  Actually, he was on the sidewalk.   He was walking east down Windsor Avenue, wearing a white robe, the crown of thorns, and carrying a cross.  A small robed woman wearing head coverings was walking next to him.  On the other side of the street going west was a jogger with no shirt on, and coming up towards Jesus on his side was a guy on a bike.  I felt concerned about the biker because there’s not a lot of room on the sidewalk, and it seemed like it could be awkward trying to bike past Jesus with the small woman and the cross.  Also, if it had been me, there was no way I could just RIDE PAST Jesus, especially not with the cross and the crown of thorns.  Maybe on a normal day, i.e not Good Friday.  But no, not even then.  It would feel too disrespectful. [note: my dad said he didn’t understand this part of the post.  It ACTUALLY happened!  Exactly this way. It’s a TRUE story!]

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Goodbye to Winter: A Love Letter

The most romantic moment of my winter this year was on New Year’s Eve, standing in the bathroom watching my husband try out his new nose hair clippers.  And this not to imply that there is no romance in my life, or that the moment itself wasn’t romantic.  It really, really was. 

We celebrated New Year’s Eve with my sister-in-law and her husband by getting dressed up and doing karaoke downstairs in the family room, which was more fun than I can say.  And one of the things I love about being with my sister-in-law is that she has the ability to made life feel like an occasion.  She makes the effort.  She wears red lipstick every day.   She uses her best dishes on a regular basis.  She pays attention.  The big difference between the two of us is that I am a “Why bother?” person, and she is a “Why would you not bother?” person.  It’s very refreshing.

New Year's Eve 2009

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