And here we are.

IT’S BEEN 13 weeks or so since Tim and I first had a casual conversation about listing our Bickley’s Pond home for sale, and today, as I write this, I find myself standing at my desk in a new (to us) downtown house in my new studio space–a pretty pink bedroom we’ve converted to a quiet creative spot where I can write and paint and think and dream. To my left there is a tall window that offers a nice view even if it is not of nesting bluebirds and paddling mallards. For the new place is a 1966 ranch that sits high in the back/low in the front in a hilly uptown neighborhood. My studio is positioned on the house’s front side, which means when I look out what I see is our small but perfect front yard, the raised street beyond (with its regular joggers, dog-walkers and the like), and the two homes across the way that sit close but high up–a good bit higher than ours, geographically speaking, and which actually makes for an effect I find most pleasing. The cumulation of these things: our position on this street, our place in this old neighborhood, this city that I find to be just big enough–these things in collection create warmth and comfort, something I’m just noticing now. Yes, warmth, that’s it, and comfort, sweet comfort, a kind that fits just right.

And what makes it so?

Two things come to mind as I stand here, for the first time considering it.

  1. My upbringing in a small town, with streets just like this.
  2. The sense that this neighborhood has history, and stories, and permanence.
the street where I now live

WE BUILT THE HOUSE at Bickley’s Pond in 2006/2007 and moved in just in time for the economic crash. (The timing was not great, to say the least.) But what a thrill it was to choose the lot, design the floor plan, select every finish and finial. And then to watch the dream come to fruition one brick at a time, every passing milestone carrying with it the promise of the beautiful life a house built JUST FOR US would deliver.

It did not disappoint. We woke up most every morning thinking–and often saying to each other–Can you believe we get to live here? Can you believe how lucky we are. But as it inevitably would, and as it did, time moved on. Our kids grew up, and we came to the undeniable conclusion we just didn’t need the big house with the big yard with the care-taking that was required anymore. We also came to believe a “shake it up” change in our lifestyle would be a healthy thing for us both as we ventured into our 60s. And so we turned our gazes (Tim more quickly and easily than I, I must say) from the suburbs to the city, from a home-centered existence to one more focused on go-and-do activities and experiences.

IT WAS RATHER MIRACULOUS how we (AKA our realtor) found this downtown home so quickly. Because once we made the decision to sell, our house was sold in no time. We dove head-first into clearing, boxing, packing. Every fear I had about the process proved true–I was overwhelmed and anxious and overcome with emotion as day after day, hour by hour, minute by minute I excavated my life. I’m certain it did not help that I was facing my 60th birthday, but whether or not that carried inordinate weight, it was a daunting task to stare down every what was in my 60 years and then to decide is this worth carrying forward.

Just look who came to greet us.

But that is not actually the point I am meaning to make. What I’m meaning to tell you is that in this new place, this new home, the world has filled in around us in rich and beautiful ways I did not expect. The universe has taken every hole and fear and worry and one-upped it; in fact, in spite of my deep sadness over leaving Bickley’s Pond and the sweet, precious neighbor-friends who, to us, mean the world–this move has proven not only right but important.

not so long ago

There is the sense of history here, as I mentioned. It’s something I find palpable. Most homes in the area were built in the early 1900s or else in the boom just after World War II. In every way it feels like a neighborhood. We have discovered there are countless friends and acquaintances who live on the winding, tree-lined streets nearby; nearly every day I get another call, email, text or flower delivery (!) from someone I know sharing his or her address, welcoming us to downtown, giving us a tip about a great restaurant or a nice walk route or a pro move when it comes to the perfect grocery shopping time. And there is this, which we hear over and over.

Did you know I grew up on this street.

My grandparents lived over there.

We’ve been here 30 years.

They are roots that feel good to me, a small town girl who spent her youth in a home also built in 1966; who lived next door to her beloved grandmother; who walked to school and played outside and spent winter snow days sledding down Macklemore Hill with the same gang, winter after winter.

Who is mighty happy to be on this side of such a big move.

Who already feels at home in a place somewhat foreign, and at the same time remarkably, beautifully familiar.

XXOO

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Changing seasons.

IT IS NO coincidence, of this I am certain, that as I took five minutes this morning to flip through my recently ignored inbox, Maria Popova had sent me this via her always illuminating Sunday Brain Pickings newsletter:

What, then, of autumn — that liminal space between beauty and bleakness, foreboding and bittersweet, yet lovely in its own way? Colette, in her meditation on the splendor of autumn and the autumn of life, celebrated it as a beginning rather than a decline. But perhaps it is neither — perhaps, between its falling leaves and fading light, it is not a movement toward gain or loss but an invitation to attentive stillness and absolute presence, reminding us to cherish the beauty of life not despite its perishability but precisely because of it; because the impermanence of things — of seasons and lifetimes and galaxies and loves — is what confers preciousness and sweetness upon them.

It was a passage I needed to read as we are in a season of change, Tim and I, making the small move from one house to another, from one town to another hardly 40 minutes away.

And yet it feels monumental. And by that I should explain that I mean less the move and more the change–articulated in notes both sharp and sweet as over the past three weeks I have sifted through every moment and memory of my nearly 60 years and made a distinction between that which is worth keeping and what to kiss and let go. Add to that the boxes and bags and trunks–endless as they feel–filled with treasures from so many lifetimes: my mother’s, my father’s, my grandparent’s (four); my great-grandparents (both sides) and great aunts and uncles, all of whom placed great value in beauty and treasure and legacy.

There has been the “why on earth did I/they keep this?” easy decision, but to tell you the truth, that has been rare. Way more often, and way more difficult, is the reality that for most of these things–mine and theirs–these are the things of a lifetime that were deemed, specifically, worthy of saving. Across time, and across generations.

Popova’s newsletter has reminded me, through Colette’s words, what preciousness really is, and that as is evidenced by autumn, it is the impermanence of things that bestows upon them such loveliness.

For it is true, of course. And it makes it all the more beautiful and poignant that, for me, all this change has come in October. It has been a steeping in my own season of impermanence, this month with its “falling leaves and fading light.” It will not be long before the trucks come and I will stand on the edge to say goodbye to our pretty spot on Bickley’s Pond. I will look to the sweet mallard couple who has shared their love and loss with us, and the eagles who welcomed us here and who still come, from time to time, to check on our cove. To the bluebird house and the birdbath (which, I should tell you, is filled every afternoon with such a mess of teenage bluebirds you can’t help but laugh as LORD HAVE MERCY they do carry on).

(some of) the babies blue

And I will get in my loaded car and drive to Columbia to our oh-so-pretty new place. It offers its own promises, of course: close proximity to so much the city offers; a lifestyle, active and uptown. My sweet Eliza will be close by, too, the greatest gift of this change and, quite frankly, our greatest motivation. For as much as we love being here, time with her will be the new reward and, of course, the greatest of treasures.

the devoted mallards
oh, those eagles
the sweet, sweet blues

AUTUMN IS beautiful, this liminal space. I will try to remember this as I walk through the approaching busy days. I will let the changing colors and shifting tones and the soft move to winter remind me there is nevertheless a stillness, and a way to hold myself in presence. Because that’s what life is really about, what life requires, don’t you think? This moving ahead, this coming along, season-to-season, but also the noticing. The celebrating, and the honoring.

It’s what I hope to have done with all the things, now that I write that. I hope I have considered and honored well, even when–especially when–I have loved and let go.

I hope I have honored well.

XXOO

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Ten (of a thousand) Reasons I Love Winter

AND HERE WE ARE in February, halfway through, heading full speed into March, and spring, and the mayhem that will arrive as May. It will hit with the force of a thousand obligations: end-of-school examinations and sports banquets and graduation parties and business meetings, so many meetings, and all the cram-this-in-before-summer-gets-here appointments that fill up our calendars faster than you can say double-booked.

winter, on cat’s mountain

How did it pass so quickly, is my question, our glorious wintertime respite? Our splendid, whitewashed pause filled to its lazy brim with cold and cuddles and warm fires and mittens?

For I love nothing if not the radiant winter days–all 59–that are January and February.

There are reasons, many good reasons, for my immense devotion. Of which 10 I will share here. Also, if I may point out, there is absolutely no order to the order. (That would have taken entirely too much effort in this civilized, chill out, re-charge season.)

1. SOUP FOR DINNER. Soup for lunch. Soup for breakfast–hey, a pot of soup can last all week and requires nothing more than a box of stock and the random leftovers lounging in your fridge.

2. ANYTHING’S POSSIBLE. Oh, the clean slate that is winter! Make New whatever you choose! Break out that spanking white journal, or head to Target and spend 45 delightful minutes checking every new notebook like it’s YOUR JOB and don’t stop until to find the very most perfect one. It’s grown-up back-to-school time, that’s what winter is, so go on and while you’re at it get the cute pencil pouch, too!

3. ALL THE NEW THINGS. Give-it-a-go with yoga*. Or P90X (god bless you). Or Game of Thrones or Instagram stories or whatever it is that’s been tickling your fancy and got you considering it from afar. You may find something that brings greater joy than you expected (see * above) and if not, I swear there’s a pass inherent in this tiny annual window that allows as many stops and starts as you want. And absolutely no explanation is required.

4. TIDY UP. Of course you know this drill. The phenomenon worth mentioning is the energy we currently have for tasks entirely too daunting the entire rest of the year. So get to that linen closet! Purge those cosmetics! And take time to fold all your panties even the ones you don’t wear into neat little stackable packages that allow you to see every single one all at the same time. Or not, if that is your preference. (You can also just watch the Kondo show to get all the feels as if you have accomplished something great without hitting a tap or arguing with a household soul over how many years of Garden and Gun magazines a person has a right to hold onto.**)

{EDITOR’S NOTE: **The answer is three. Three years’ worth.}

5. BURN THE CANDLES. On a Tuesday. An ordinary, flat winter light Tuesday. Feel your heart glow.

6. HAVE A LONG, SLOW CONVERSATION with a dear friend. With blankets and hot tea and nary a cell phone in sight.

7. MAKE SOMETHING. Knit. Paint. Color. Hand-letter. Stamp. Embroider. Draw. Weave. Photograph. THINK YOU CAN’T? You can, of course you can, but if the mere thought stresses you out grab a stack of magazines*** and make a collage of all the pretty things you see just because it will make you happy.

{EDITOR’S NOTE: Just not the Garden and Gun magazines. Or, save four years’ worth and use the oldest for this very purpose. Now look at you, planning ahead.}

8. FEED THE BIRDS. They are hungry, and food is more scarce, and they will reward you by showing up day after day and entertaining you with the bird version of Days of Our Lives. I mean–the drama!

9. NAP. NO ONE WILL JUDGE. IT’S WINTER.

10. READ ALL THE BOOKS. Read, read, read! Not just the page and a half (you won’t remember) at bedtime, but in the morning, in the afternoon, in a comfy chair with a big cup of just-the-way-you-like-it coffee, or via a reading happy hour where that yummy book takes you right into dinner. Winter is the time for diving in, diving deep, finishing one book and (I AM NOT KIDDING HERE) picking up another without so much as a rise from your chair. If you do this–I promise–you will find it to be the season of your very most favorite books of the year, more so than in summer even, because you’ll choose volumes with a little more heft, a little more weight, a little more depth and challenge. Plus you won’t have the distraction of kids in the pool or the constant worry did I or did I not apply enough sunblock?

Oh, I do love this season! And how perilously close we are to its end! There’s a pretty day just outside my window, as a matter of fact, which has me thinking maybe I should pull on my sweats, head out the door, and pound out a quick little walk. Get my lungs full, my heart rate going.

Or not. Maybe not.

I mean, it is still winter, after all.

XXOO

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the grand promise

 

I’VE A THOUSAND RESOLUTIONS at the start of this new year, something I find thrilling. There’s nothing I love more than the chance to start again, to do it better, to make new commitments that add depth and beauty and enjoyment to life. 

One of these is morning devotional time. It is a practice that has been made more beautiful via two things: (1) New Morning Mercies, (a most thoughtful Christmas gift), and (2) Daily emails from Franciscan friar Richard Rohr. To heighten the intention, I’ve decided to record a sentence I find particularly meaningful from one of these teachings every day in my journal. It is a practice that has borne beautiful fruit; I find that I read with greater focus, and I consider more deeply the lessons shared there.

 

WHICH BRINGS TO MIND A QUESTION with which I have long struggled and one I find difficult to admit because it’s such a foundational Christian belief. (To tell you the truth, I’ve worked on this post for two weeks and am still not sure I’ve effectively articulated the point I’m trying to make. ) Still, here goes.

I believe in a God of love, an omnipotent God, the great I Am. And because of that Almighty Pure Love–so beyond our earthly comprehension–I don’t quite get why Jesus had to die on the cross. To be clear, I don’t mean I have trouble believing. What I can’t wrap my head around is the literal need for it. I struggle to reconcile God’s boundless love with a requirement that, for our sins to be forgiven, Jesus had to endure unconscionable pain and suffering.

It is a simplistic view, I am quite sure. And those who are more learned scholars–who have a much greater understanding of scripture, of the God of the Old Testament vs New, etc.–these people could no doubt offer perspective I am missing. Still Rohr’s January 4th meditation landed in my inbox and he offered an insight that made my heart flip. The crucifixion is not really a matter of substitutionary atonement, he writes, where “Jesus takes the punishment that this angry God intended for us.” Jesus died to show us, he says, that the other side of suffering is transformation.

Jesus did not come to change the mind of God about humanity. Jesus came to change the mind of humanity about God.

 Whoa, as they say.

Jesus shows us that the pattern of everything is death and resurrection. Jesus is the archetypal pattern for every life, including yours and mine. There will be suffering and death along with love, joy, and resurrection. Most of us are so resistant to accepting suffering that Jesus walked through it himself and said, “Follow me.” He showed us that on the other side of suffering is transformation. 

We had to see the pain, we had feel the ache in our bones to truly know and believe the pattern, which is evident in all things around us, which is life:

Suffering. Transformation. Resurrection.

 

 

In the cosmos, in nature, in our own lives.

 

 

 

It is faith, that’s what I believe, the grand promise.

Something beautiful will come of this.

 

 

Tomorrow will be better.

 

XXOO

I’ve written of Richard Rohr’s meditation series before on The Daily Grace, and perhaps you’ve already received the passage referenced here. If not, here is a link to the January 4th devotional, titled Original Blessing

 

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Resolutions and Such

 

morning sky

 

There is the immense possibility of it all.
That is, I suppose, what makes new beginnings so wildly compelling.
So absolutely irresistible.

And then there is the attention we bring to the things, our aim narrowly focused on the act of manifesting something valuable and life affirming on our own clean slate–one barely wiped free of last year’s grime.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Just yesterday–the first Sunday of this new year–I opened to the first page of a beautiful new journal, one sent to me by my sister-in-law, Colette. It was many years ago; she brought the book home with her from Florence, Italy, her thoughtful note suggesting I might fill it with “lots of great stories.” Instead I tucked it away in my library for safekeeping, my saver’s heart insisting I hold out, insisting I wait–as if expecting some grand inspiration worthy of such a magnificent volume.

For years the book has rested there, patient. Empty. Silent.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I have found it to be true that when you noodle around with an idea, when you toss around a thought but don’t do anything to give it actual shape, or form, it will fade–even if your noodling keeps it alive (but barely breathing) for many years. But the moment you write it down it becomes something else entirely, an intention, a force in the universe. Not only that, but the universe will rearrange to accommodate it, to support you, to give mass and momentum to your little creation.

And so I spent a good part of the day Sunday sifting through the things that float around in my head, the hundreds of maybes and what-ifs and I shoulds, many of them new and shiny, others tired and thin but still hanging on. I gave each of them equal weight as I considered their place in my life today. What matters now?  I asked. It was a question that came as if I have moved beyond something, toward something, into something new as I wade deeper into my 57th year. And then for the first time ever I also considered: What good intentions can I bless and release?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I pulled the elegant Florence journal from the bookshelf and opened it to Page One. I began to write.  2016 Life List is what came first. Then I captured 10 thoughts into which I could put my heart.

Some of these are easy:

4. Schedule exercise.

Some require a bit more effort:

10. See the best in people.

Then just as I finished the list something came to me, divine direction that formed of its own, a whisper from God, an addendum.

Live in the space of joy, it said.

I grabbed it, wrote it down, gave it form.

#11. Live in the space of joy.

 

It is the perfect #11 for my 2016 List of Ten, don’t you think? This sweet thought that has come and wrapped itself all around, reminding me joy is a choice to be made.

It’s going to be a very good year, I believe. A very good year, indeed.

XXOO

 

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the best day ever

As days go, this has to be one of the best ever.

First, the Confederate Flag no longer flies on the grounds of our South Carolina Statehouse. In tribute I humbly offer Columbia poet Nikky Finney reading a poem she wrote in the early morning hours yesterday, just after our lawmakers and Governor Haley put ink to the decision to Take It Down. Its publication comprised the entirety of the front page of this morning’s newspaper. Bravo to The State, and thank you, Ms. Finney, for articulating what so many of us feel. How poignant is your question: Who are we now?

 

Second, the baby bluebirds have fledged! It is an understatement to call this a miracle, since the last four nests of this devoted bluebird couple have not been successful. You will remember the last sad tale of the morning I woke up to find the five-day-old babies missing–devoured by a snake, we later determined. Our hearts were broken: Mama’s, Papa’s and mine. And so we moved the nest box out into the yard, took preventive snake measures, then fretted as temperatures topped 98 degrees seven days in a row.

I took drastic measures, constructing heat shields and (ultimately) bunji-cording a large golf umbrella above the birdhouse to provide some shade for the eggs and the Mama in that box, baking in the heat.

 

i am the crazy bird lady

 

The eggs hatched, and with all the rigging I’d done to that birdhouse my glimpses into the nest were few and far between. I did keep a close eye on the parents, however, rejoicing each time they flew to the box, dinner-in-beak.

 

mama

 

Last night I got home from work and took my (hot) perch on the back porch, waiting and watching for activity. There was none in sight. With each passing minute my panic rose. Where were they? Why weren’t they feeding? What had happened this time???

Two hours and lots of fretting later I began to wonder if there was a chance the babies had fledged. Surely not, I thought, there hasn’t been time. They’re too small. I mean, the last time I got a photo, they hardly looked feathered!

 

July 5, 2015
July 5, 2015

 

When were they born? How many days had it been?

I tracked it back to the first sighting of Papa with a tiny crawly in his mouth. Seventeen days. Seventeen days! That’s fledge time!

And still I was not brave enough to look. I decided to wait until morning, when my sweet husband, Tim, would be home to assist.

Just today, this is what we found.

 

Brave Tim.
Brave Tim.

 

An empty nest!
An empty nest!

 

home sweet successful home!
home sweet successful home

 

I am overjoyed! I believe the three babies are in the woods just there to the side of the Cope’s yard, out of the sun’s direct heat, learning to fly and jump and play. Their parents will continue to feed for the next month, keeping them under cover, safe and sound (we hope) and out of Hawk range. I am going to believe that is the case, anyway.

As for me, now, I have breathed a great sigh of relief and am so happy this dear couple is having this joy. Life is good.

The third thing that makes this one of the greatest days ever? It is the day before I get to go see my own sweet baby, all grown up and spending the summer working at Camp Twin Lakes, a life-changing camp for children with serious illnesses, disabilities and other life challenges. How proud I am of Eliza for not just wanting to make a difference in this world but for actually doing it in such a special and meaningful way.

 

Camp Twin Lakes
Camp Twin Lakes

 

My heart is full, my spirit soars. I send you all good wishes, my friend, for a July weekend filled with everything that makes you happy!

 

 

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For Eliza, On the Day of Her Final Finals

My sweet girl,

Today you take the final exam of your college career–your final finals as we have been calling them. While that in itself is reason to rejoice (!), I know there are a thousand other emotions moving inside you, like ocean swells that become waves that crash into each other in an approaching storm. It’s a funny thing to be the Mom of a daughter facing these confusing and conflicting feelings. I have been in the same place, on the same campus, facing the same things. I know your heart like I know my own: half sad and hopeless, half ready to move on. Fearful, yes, but nevertheless feeling that tug toward what’s next.

It’s just life, this tug of what’s next. It’s how God keeps us moving along our journey. That’s something you know but somehow it is of little comfort when emotions run so wild. Right?

Let me put your mind at ease on the two thoughts that I expect most weigh you down.

1. You are ready.

There is no experience like college (particularly at Clemson, which is ideal in this way) and for many of us, it will always be a pinnacle time in life. This is a good thing! It happens because it’s the perfect match up of want and need. College is an immersion in a life buffet–you only need fill your plate with the things that interest you and that move you along on your big life journey. Classes, clubs, relationships, parties, travel, lectures, sports, activities–a little of this, a little of that–and each one plays a part in getting you ready for the big world waiting for you out here. It’s all rather remarkable, I think.

But then years pass and you begin to get your fill. The food still looks good, but somehow you’re not so hungry anymore.

It’s God’s way of telling you it’s time to make a move. He knows because He’s provided everything you need to be ready for the next chapter. You are more mature, more grounded, more confident. You’re better at making your own decisions. You have a better sense of who you are. (Okay, so maybe not completely, but you definitely have a better sense of who you are not and that is just as important.) You know how to navigate, how to get from here to there, how to read the proverbial map and ask the right questions and work through problems that arise along the way. You know how to make the difficult calls, have the tough conversations, face the inevitable consequences. You’re finding out what drains you, and also, what brings you powerful energy and great, giddy joy.

You’ve had four years of practice on a demanding college campus. But the walls are closing in. You’re ready for a bigger stage.

2. You get to take the people that matter to you with you when you go.

It’s so true.

You’ve developed relationships with some remarkable people who’ve been an important part of your growth in college. These connections won’t just sever and die when you leave campus.  Those who matter to you will be an important part of your future, as well.

Chief among these, of course, are your friends. Guys and girls with whom you’ve spent time, who’ve influenced the person you’ve become. And most particularly the deep dear friendships of your tightest circle. How lucky you are to be surrounded by such strong, intelligent, beautiful women. How lucky they are to have you! As you hug goodbye to begin new chapters in different cities, rest assured in the knowledge these friendships will only deepen as you all move on. Life has a funny way of making sure this happens–it will challenge you in ways that demand you reach out and hold on to each other for support. I know from my own beautiful experiences–you will be there for each other in ways you can’t even imagine. They are your circle for life, these women, and you will lean on each other as things change over the next 10, 20, 30, 40 years and more. How you will need each other for strength, for guidance, for honesty. For keeping it all in check. And for laughter and fun. For the rest of your lives, when you girls are together the laughter will come as easily as it does today. With no work, with no effort, the laughter will always come.

There’s so much grace in that, I think.

Anyway, my sweet girl. There you are on that threshold. In front of you is a big, beautiful world filled with so much. I can’t wait to see you gobble it all up.

You are ready. It’s time.

Love, love, love,

Mama

 

girls
the girls

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the moon, the stars, and the sunrise

 

IMG_4393

It’s all coming so fast: the push to college graduation, the pollen dive into Spring, the walk through this Holy Week. Today’s Maundy Thursday leads inevitably to the solemness of tomorrow’s Good Friday. But even in that darkness we rush to Easter, our sights trained squarely on the coming joy. We know how the story ends, we Christians, and it’s somehow less awful if we somehow skip straight there.

(Is there any other explanation for the misnomer Good Friday?)

There’s an extra detail to mind this time around. Saturday night we’ll also see a full moon–the first full moon following the Spring Equinox. It’s called the Paschal Moon, and it tells us Easter will fall on the next Sunday. How fabulous that this year it just happens to be the very next day.

I’m fascinated by the earth and sky, the moon and stars and how they keep us in time. I’ll be watching.

And I’ll say a little prayer of Thanksgiving for the appearance of the Paschal Moon that comes to signal this sunrise–the one that brings our joy as the light of lights shines bright over the Earth, and once again, we receive the grace of the greatest miracle of them all.

 

 

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Word for the Year (v.4)

http://instagram.com/thedailygraceIt came to me easy this time, so obvious a choice my reaction was resist. It was still December, after all, and entirely too soon for the thing to appear. Still there it was.

Listen the word said. Listen.

THAT’S JUST WHAT I WILL DO! I thought.  I’ll wait, and watch, and in due time–typically a week or two after the new year has begun; once panic has fully set in–in due time, my word will drift in and alight, knowing eventually I will take note and grab hold. It’s happened three times before, you see, the January arrival of My Word for the Year, my guiding star as I move through the next 12 months of my life.

Listen is what it said.

~~~~~

This word business is not the sort of thing you can force, that I have learned. You can’t pick it out of a hat, or select it just because you like the sound of it, or adopt someone else’s–not if you want your word to do its work in your life. You can’t choose it at all, if you wanna know the truth, because somehow, in some mysterious way–if you pay attention–your word will find you.

~~~~~~~

And so I waited as words came and words went. And then this morning I awoke with it both in my head and on my heart, unmistakable in its insistence.

Listen, it said.

Listen.






Past Words:

2014:  Word for the Year (v.3)

2013: Word for the year (v.2)

2012: Word for the Year (v.1)

*A continued thank you to Winn Collier for introducing the concept of a Word for the Year to me via his marvelous blog four years ago.

#2: On Becoming #LifeYouWantDC

you-are-builtMany, many years ago, I was standing at the movie popcorn counter (so long ago the movie was An Officer and a Gentleman) when I began to feel faint. The next thing I knew I was lying on the floor looking up into the concerned face of my boyfriend–a face that in that moment was familiar but that I couldn’t place. I remember working hard to figure out where I was, feeling as if I were making my way back into consciousness and my body. More specifically, I remember scanning and thinking Okay now, which life is this?

And that’s not the most interesting part of the experience. What’s more remarkable was the sense I had just before “waking” that I was in a space of complete calm and serenity. For a nanosecond, and in a nanosecond, every gigantic life question I had was answered, every grand mystery was solved. It was as if the universe unfolded before me, perfect and complete, and I felt no struggle or doubt at all, just a deep and divine understanding of how it all works, how it has worked since the beginning of time.

I was questionless, and therefore, at complete peace.

I felt a similar moment of divine clarity last weekend at Oprah’s The Life You Want Conference. In a magnificent red dress, Oprah opened the conference with two hours of the personal stories that ignited her passion for helping others find and manifest their own calling. If you want to live the highest expression of yourself, she said, you cannot go about it passively. You have to pay attention to your intention. Then she put it more simply.

You become what you believe, not what you wish for.

Boom.

You are living the reality of your beliefs right now.

Boom. Boom.

I heard her, and I wrote it down. And then I sat there in that dark venue surrounded by thousands and thousands of people unable to let go of the thought, unable to hear what came next. Instead I sat there thinking about how true the concept is, how layered, how profound. I thought about how much of my life is joyful, and how my beliefs have shaped that joy. And then I got honest about the time I’ve spent wrestling, how much energy I’ve devoted to the ’round and ’round dance of intention and doubt. What space will open up, I wonder, when I acknowledge and deal with my true beliefs?

What a gift it is to move on through life with the clarity that this is how it works.

You become what you believe, not what you wish for.

Oh, yes.

Thank you, Oprah. Thank you.

 

 

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