the people who made me

the people who made me

Happy All Saints Day! Though my church tradition doesn’t specifically celebrate the day, I tend to pause a bit on Nov 1st to think about the people who came before me.

I’m indebted to my mom for making this day resonate with me. Several years ago, she did an All Saints writing project with her junior high students to explore their family trees. Her students thought and wrote about those who had impacted their lives, and they were able to move toward gratitude for those people.

Her point was that the people who came before us (whether they are from our family of origin or are simply people who have impacted us) contribute to who we are. Whether those people looked more like “saints” or not, we can find things to celebrate about our connection with the people of the past.

I am starting this month of Thanksgiving, then, with a moment of thankfulness for all the people who made me: godly parents and grandparents, neighbors and friends who were like parents and grandparents, English teachers who taught me to love writing, mentors who taught me to love the person I was becoming, Bible teachers who didn’t just preach me a list of do’s and don’ts, bosses who gave me career opportunities, and a multitude of friends who’ve brightened my life.

I am profoundly grateful.

confessions of the world’s worst barista

confessions of the world’s worst barista

Imagine a petite, brainy, 20-year-old English major who’s long on earnest enthusiasm and short on physical grace. (That’s code for cute but clumsy.) She’s great at remembering details like arabica vs. robusta beans or the names of espresso drinks. However, she can’t always remember to put the carafe in place before brewing the coffee, which means a steady boiling stream floods the counter. Again.

Imagine, too, that she’s in the most serious romance of her life and giddy with thoughts of when he might show up for a (free) cup of joe and conversation. She’s also probably working on homework behind the counter and slightly lost in the pages of a book. Now, ask her to fix a latte with skim milk and a LIGHTLY-toasted bagel.

Continue reading “confessions of the world’s worst barista”

garden thoughts

As a non-gardener, I’m easily impressed with those who have a knack for all things green and growing. I wrote about childhood memories of my dad’s garden earlier this year, and though Dad’s not raising a crop of squash and pumpkins at the moment, he does tame the woods with his chainsaw until it’s an oasis of gorgeous views and peaceful trails.

Recently, though, it was my father-in-law Gerald’s backyard garden that knocked my socks off. I’ve included a video “walk-through” below.

Gerald’s project is meaningful on many levels. It’s an example of re-purposing things that others might discard — the raised beds were constructed primarily from old shipping pallets.

It’s a leafy monument to perseverance through tough times. My father-in-law has battled a serious kidney disorder for almost two years but did not let illness keep him from creating beauty.

And it’s also purposeful and beneficial, providing vegetables that help rejuvenate the body and a joyful hobby that blesses the mind and spirit.

You all know I’m itching to talk about spiritual parallels right now, but I’m going to save them for a future post. For now, enjoy your tour of Gerald’s garden with these ideas in mind:

What’s old can be made new.

What’s hard can become good.

What’s grown can give new gifts.

 

 

finding small somethings: a few thoughts on the power of inertia

finding small somethings: a few thoughts on the power of inertia

I just came from coffee with a friend where we talked about the concept of inertia. She lamented that she hasn’t fully come out of the post-Easter slump. I commiserated because we both found ourselves lacking discipline to do some of the things we know we need to do — things like being consistent with workouts and nutrition, getting a handle on the budget, being faithful in spiritual disciplines.

These are all areas we care about and have been working on all year, but once a trip or an unexpected setback interrupts a routine, once things slow down or stop in an area, we tend to remain in a state of inactivity. Indeed, “a tendency to do nothing or remain unchanged” is one of the definitions of inertia. Continue reading “finding small somethings: a few thoughts on the power of inertia”

finding your eden: why creativity matters

Boys and girls come out to play! The moon is shining as bright as day!

Leave your supper and leave your sleep, and join your playfellows in the street!

When my kids were little, we had one of those CDs of Mother Goose songs that was played every day during every car ride. You’d drop the kids off at nursery school and feel the need to detox, maybe with some 80’s hair metal. Years later, I no longer go around thinking about Mary’s little lamb or Aunt Rhody’s unfortunate goose, but somehow that one song above has smoon over deserttuck with me. It has worked its way into my brain as the siren call to leave behind the drab, duty-bound adult world and enter into play and creativity. I catch myself humming it when I feel the drumbeat of a fresh writing idea, not necessarily this kind of writing but the other kind that dares me to be a raucous, wild child for awhile, to fly off to Neverland in my mind.  It’s the call to make art in bold splashes. To make music in a riot of sound. To let prose or poem spill from one journal page to the next. Without critic. Without editor. Continue reading “finding your eden: why creativity matters”

my kids told me not to write about toilets, but i did it anyway

On Monday, I wrote a Facebook post about the after-Easter-weekend slump. I wanted to remind people that after a high-energy time, it’s normal for creativity and motivation to be low, and that’s OK. The fact that today I’m writing about toilets, much to the chagrin of my brainstorming partners (a.k.a. my kids), pretty well proves I’m right there in the slump with everyone else. I do find it both appropriate and funny, though, that immediately after I posted on Facebook, I met with the plumber about replacing some old, small, and frequently problematic toilets at our house: appropriate because it does feel like creativity has been flushed away, so toilet-shopping is the perfect thing to do, and funny because toilet-shopping inevitably reminds me of our final weeks in Taiwan several years ago. Continue reading “my kids told me not to write about toilets, but i did it anyway”