Sweet Honey From Old Failures: A New Year’s Post

Events that seem to be surrounded by expectation confuse me, and trigger that fear that I am a few steps off from everyone else.  Not a truthful fear, but a common fear nonetheless, and one the world does little to soothe for any of us.  New Year’s Eve is one of those events for me, for a variety of reasons.  One is that the only thing that has ever made me willing to stay awake until midnight was childbirth. 

Also, social events that last many, many hours, like New Year’s Eve gatherings, are just too much human contact for me.  If you are invited to something that starts at 7:00, you’ve got at least 5 and a 1/2 hours to get through, and I can count on 3 fingers the number of people who I could bear to spend that much uninterrupted time with.  But I think it’s the resolution issue that confuses me the most: to resolve or not to resolve, that is the question.

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Are We Ever Enough?

Thank you all from the bottom of my heart for the many thought-provoking, heart-felt, meaningful questions that you sent in.  And if you didn’t send one yet, it’s not too late!  Email me privately at lesliesrajek@gmail.com and I will make sure your question gets posted anonymously.  I noticed several themes in what people wrote, and some of are them are: will I ever feel like I am enough?  Who am I really?  Is this all there is?  When will I find meaning in my life?  There were a bunch of other that I definitely want to get to (esp. the one about keeping one’s journals: YES!!!), but today I’m going to start with the question: will we ever feel like we are enough?  Here is the answer: No.

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Questions (and a little request/challenge)

Okay, so I have something a little different to share with you today.  It seems like it’s two poems, but really it’s two poems that lead to a little challenge that I hope you’ll help me out with.  The poems are very different from each other, but are both about questions.  For this poem, please note especially verse #7 and onward.


if you move carefully
through the forest

like the ones
in the old stories

who could cross
a shimmering bed of dry leaves
without a sound,

you come
to a place
whose only task

is to trouble you
with tiny
but frightening requests

conceived out of nowhere
but in this place
beginning to lead everywhere.

Requests to stop what
you are doing right now,

to stop what you
are becoming
while you do it,

that can make
or unmake
a life,

that have patiently
waited for you,

that have no right
to go away.

David Whyte, Everything is Waiting for You 

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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 Season of Light: An Invitation to a Poetic Advent

There are some special announcements today at From the Heart, and I’m so excited to share them with you!  The first is that, as some of you may remember, this blog started with a project called Radical Lent: A Poetic Approach to 40 Days in the Wilderness.  I had decided last March that as a Lenten practice, I would read a poem each day and then write about it here.  And I invited some people to read along, and they were gracious enough to say yes, and well, the whole thing sort of took off from there.  So here’s the news I’m excited to share: I’ve decided to do an Advent blog called “The Season of Light: An Invitation to a Poetic Advent.”  This project will follow pretty much the same pattern as the Lenten blog: a poem and a post each day during the Advent Season.  Below are some more details (and a request)! 


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Yes, Yes, and a Thousand Times, Yes!

Happy November, my friends!  Now, before I start, I need to say up front that this post is going to upset my mom, who, as my mom and my first official blog subscriber, deserves special consideration.  But you know, I’m over 40 and all, and can decide what to do with my own body, even though my mom always insists on coming into dressing rooms with me and checking things out (don’t deny it, Ma’am–we were in Marshalls together not too many months ago and they ain’t no spacious dressing rooms up in there.  I saw what you got hanging out and you saw what I got).  AND she was going to find out at Thanksgiving anyway, because my sophisticated world-travelling parents are coming to see us out here “on the prairie,” as my father calls it (i.e. one of them there “fly-over” states, so we’re gonna try real hard to pick the straw out our teeth and kick them chickens out the yard so we can all have a good old turkey day together.   But anyway, this is a good story.  So here we go. 

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Getting By With a Little Help From My Friends

If you suffered through my sorry apology post, you may recall that #4 of the “43 Eternal Truths” is: “We are all already dying and we are going to be dead for a long time.”  If I had been considering abandoning ship on this project before I got to that one, well, there’s no “considering” about it anymore.  I mean, yes, I will write about depression and other difficult things, and I am not, in general, a naturally happy person, but for God’s SAKE. 

The thing is, though, I have this friend…

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Heart of the Month: The Poet in the Post Office

Happy May!  And welcome to a new once-a-month feature at From the Heart!  It’s called Heart of the Month.  Once a month, I will share a story of someone I’ve met, encountered or know that I think you’d like to know about too.  Today I invite you to join me in sending May’s Heart of the Month to a man named Ed Probst.  Here’s why.

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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 


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


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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