wetting the whistle

i have been spending a lot of time on Pinterest lately and found a quote that make me stop short and think about how much i’ve NOT been writing – usually with the excuse that my brain is dry or i just can’t seem to get started. The quote is this:

“Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on” Louis L’Amour

i know this to be true and yet i continue to ignore it. laziness perhaps. a sense that, though i may feel i have something to say, no one really wants to hear it (that’s the ‘i feel invisible’ me rearing it’s poor pitiful head). and sometimes i queston if i am attempting to call attention to myself where it is not deserved. but even if you don’t want to hear it or i don’t deserve it, i continue to feel the tides pulling me to write.

i have always written. it is IN me. i love this quote’s analogy of writing with water. i see faucets and rivers and oceans. i just need to write….no matter what. open the faucet and see what flows. obviously, the flow sputters at it’s start and the first flow is kind of rusty and murkey, but by leaving the tap open, allowing unedited, unbound words to come forth, i will supply this process the opportunity it requires to flow – perhaps into big waters, perhaps into waterfalls, perhaps into a drink of water that fills a dry spirit. there may be a hail storm or two. and maybe one day i’ll just dive into the deep end of this pool of words, head first and see where the splash lands.

let’s hope i don’t drown.

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an honor, my honor…..

i became a mom in june 1988.  i was single and just about to turn 31 so i wasn’t venturing into this in “young mother” or “happy couple” territory….i was alone and inexperienced.  and scared.  true my mom was there for me with all the moral support a gal could ask for and no matter i babysat my niece and nephews, neighbors kids and friends offspring…my mother-ing-ness was young.

i was thrown into it with gusto.  michi did not want to leave the womb.  to this day the girl has issues with change.  no matter how much i pushed, no matter what position i took, no matter the cheering squad was working overtime – she would not budge!!  we eventually took her by force.  i was ready for labor to be over and for motherhood to begin.

when she finally found the world our journey began.  we were both young in this relationship we embarked on.  as i was trying to teach her how to be a child she was showing me how to be an adult.  i made mistakes big and small and sometimes loudly.  and sometimes my idea of fun was lame.  but we always managed to find our way over the hills, out of the dips and through our troubled waters. 

if she fell down she would get back up – always, she would get back up again.  she could run like the wind (and an ostrich).  she taught me patience (and then tried it).  i took her to the pool and she taught herself how to dive.  she taught me that small adventures often yield the biggest fun.  she learned the fine art of negotiation and I had to learn the hard way what an absolute benefit boundaries are – for everyone!  I always got the best hugs every day and the worlds best pancakes on my birthday and mother’s day.  i got to watch her have an amazing relationship with my mother.  as she has grown into the young woman she is today, becoming an adult and launching her life – she has gifted me with many moments that make a mama proud.  Not just proud to be her mom – proud to know her as a person.  Her life helped me change my life. 

very early on, when michi was just an infant, i met a great guy who had two daughters of his own.  we, in time, married and blended our families so that i became a step mom to danielle and shawnna.  michi grew up having the very special distinction of being an only child with siblings.  these girls are sisters in every way but blood.  my heart soars when i see them all together – the teasing, the laughing, the sharing, the teaching, the love these girls share.

i’m not danielle and shawnna’s mom but i have been a mothering influence in their lives.  we had a shared love for their dad in the beginning and our relationships have grown and deepened into something extraordinary since.  and now i get to be a tutu to danielle’s son aidan. 

i have been blessed to have my daughter…she has been a blessing and a gift.  to have danielle and shawnna in my life has added blessing upon blessing.  happy mother’s day to me….from where i’m sitiing i have the best seat in the house.

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In loving memory….

i certainly can’t let today go by without writing about my mom.  she passed away in october of 2002 and not a day goes by that i don’t have a random thought of her run through my brain.  being in the midst of mother’s day without a mom to lavish with love, attention and gifts is indeed difficult for me.

my mom taught me how to do three things.  iron a shirt. paint my nails. frost a cake.  she insisted there was only one right way to do each of these three things.  shirt: collar and cuffs first.  nails: paint right hand first, starting with the pinkie finger.  frost a cake: frost the sides first and create a lip at the top edge for the top frosting to meet.  each of these processes are efficient and create a professional finish.  both things that my mother valued. i adhere to all three lessons to this day….and think of ma – and laugh just a little.

i miss sitting at the table having coffee with mom – she started my coffee drinking by dunking sugar cubes in her coffee.  i miss her shoulder to lay my head on when i have a problem that has no solution but time – the waiting never seemed so bad if i knew mom was on my side.  i miss hearing her voice on the phone – she’d call and say “it’s your mother.”  i miss that.

i am grateful that i had my mom.  she had incredible inner strength and unshakable faith. she was kind. she was thoughtful.  she was loved by everyone who ever met her.  who can say that?  she deplored injustice and loved children – especially noisy ones!  she loved to cook and read.  she loved to read cookbooks.  she loved to go on road trips – and for her, a trip to the grocery store could be just as exciting as a trip across country.  she loved her family and good conversation.  and silence. 

there has been silence now or almost 9 years.

i am the daughter of florence bernice.  from where i’m sitting that’s been a privilege and i can only pray i can be for michi what my mom was for me.

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i wrote this over a year ago but am compelled to post it today…

this is the hardest, most glorious thing i have ever put on paper. there is so much to tell and i’m not sure where or how to begin to tell about the life i had before i accepted Christ.  how i lived without grace.  how amazed i am that i am even alive.

i always believed in God – did some church going and prayed the Lord’s Prayer, but had never accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior.  being saved seemed an unattainable dream for me, even as a child.

i grew up needing to keep secrets in order to survive.  as a child i dealt with sexual abuse by more than one person and threats to my life if i told anyone.  being a child, i believed what the adults told me.  i watched every move i made, every step i took, and i kept my mouth shut.  from my perspective, i was the only one responsible for saving my skin.  i was not safe.  i was lonely.  i was dirty.  i was scared.

this laid the groundwork for my need to be the one in control of my life.  i suffered under the pressure of making sure no one knew what i let happen to me.  i walked the line between having to do everything exactly as i should and living in fear that i could, quite possibly, make a misstep and end up dead in the street.  i became anxious and physically ill by age 11, cutting myselft by age 15, anorexic at age 18, married at 20 and humiliated and divorced at 21.

i hated myself but wanted to be loved so much i found myself giving myself to anyone who wanted me all the while hoping they would love me forever. i had little thought of the consequences of my behavior for myself or anyone else.  i put myself in harms way more times that you can imagine on this ill guided quest for love and acceptance.  emotional and physical abuses were added to the mix and with that the belief that i would ever be made right was non-existent.

motherhood gave me the courage to finally speak up about my past.  the cries of my baby were an echo of my painful childhood and i knew i needed her life to be different than mine.  i was 33 when i finally told my story out loud.  it was then i was able to reach out and ask for help.  but still i did not trust my heart to God.  i truly believed God turned his eyes away from me because of how i had lived.  i sought the help of trained professionals – but it was a long and arduous journey as i was still reluctant to utter the whole truth out loud – still carrying the residual fear of my youth and having developed a huge dose of mistrust along the way.  it was a one step forward, two steps back process.

motherhood and my marriage to mark helped to stop the all out downward spiral, but i was just coasting, teetering really, along the same old road.  along the way i met women of faith and wondered how they got there.  would i EVER know it is to have THAT in my life?

i know now there were times when the presence of God was active in my life during my darkest times, my worst behaviors.  how else did i not slip over the edge of that cliff upon whose brink i was poised?  yet it wasn’t until i was diagnosed with cancer that i realized this, that throughout my life, i had been pushed, prodded, and poked by God trying get my attention, trying to get me to look His way.

my cancer diagnosis felt immediately like something other than a disease.  it was my call to improve my relationship with God.  i hadn’t a clue how that was going to be accomplished, but i found myselft praying more, asking for help in making my decisions, asking for directions and guidance.  i spoke to my Christian friends – asking them what they believe faith is, but coming away, once again, feeing more inadequate.  it seemed that in order to GET faith you had to HAVE faith.  i was doomed.  but God was watching and God was listening.  God was working on me like nobody’s business.  God is good and God is patient beyond belief.  i started searching and seeking Him out.  i did not find God – for he is not the one who was lost.  i just finally opened the door when He called for me.  what i found was the absolute truth for my life in His word and in doing so found peace and joy and hope.  Jesus was crucified to cover my sins.  i have been forgiven.  I HAVE BEEN FORGIVEN.  the magnitude of this is still sinking into my bones, but i am humbled by His love and thankful for His grace and mercy everyday.

i accepted Jesus Christ into my heart and into my life as my Savior on october 25, 2009

Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are Mine.  When you pass through the waters, I will be with; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.  When you walk through the fires, you will not be burned, the flame will not set you ablaze.  For I am the Lord your God.  The Holy One of Israel, you Savior (Isaiah 43: 1b-3a)

today i am doing my best everyday to be a joy to Him.  i don’t always succeed.  i still hate the term “good Christian” but do my best to not be the example of why other people hate that term.  my imperfections bother me less, though i still fight my body-image dragon.  i found the truth about how to live my life and from where i’m sitting it’s a far cry from where i was sitting twenty years ago.  thankful.

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love letter

I wanted to give my husband a love letter today. It had to be just right.  It took about an hour and half to get all the components ready and put in the right order, but I did it.  It was hot and smokey; tender with a bit of juiciness, gushey in parts, earthy.  All the things a really good love letter should be, except there were no words and it wasn't on paper.  Today's love letter was a sandwich.

I realized today as I was fixing Mark's lunch that there are times I put more into planning his meal than I do other times. Okay, most times. The mundane everyday is what usually goes on here. But there are times, like today, I want to touch his heart with my efforts in the kitchen. And when I'm taking that extra time it's a labor of love. A food love letter.

We both love food and make a date out of going to Whole Foods and trolling theaisles…smelling the intensely fresh produce, sampling the soft or salty cheeses, splurging on a chicken that costs 15.00! (That chicken was crazy amazing good – I have dubbed it Birthday Chicken because it deserves to have a celebration). We play with our food and occasionally I come up with a plate of somethin’ somethin’ that makes him smile and groan, just a little.

Mark works hard and comes home for lunch since he works so close to home.  Leftovers or a frozen pot pie are often what’s presented to him.  He never complains and often claims to look forward to these microwave heated plates of food.  But that would not be today.  Today I baked off a few paper thin slices of  La Quercia speck, sliced some gorgeous room temperature hot house tomatoes and rubbed them with a little red wine vinegar, kosher salt and freshly picked and snipped chives and let them marinate.  I buttered the outside of two slices of bread and filled them with soft subtle fontina cheese and grilled it. Filling the grilled sandwich with the speck and tomatoes I created a revived version of a grilled cheese sandwich. A small steamed artichoke served on the side.  When I presented it him I did so with the same hesitation and anticpation one has the first time they say ‘I love you.’

First, his silence. Then…there it is – the little groan of pleasure. The next
bite, confirmation that this has touched his heart.

And that my friends, right there…from where I’m sitting…is his love letter to me.

Buon Appetito

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pulling the first pickle out of the jar

so, this is my first post on a blog i have had for well over a month.  my intent is to get all these words out of my brain and into the world.  for what purpose?  i have absolutely no idea.  i want to write and i, at times, feel i have something to say.  and of course, today, right now, the chalk board of bright ideas, sassy opinions and witty observations is systematically being erased by all the emotions that tell me i have no business doing this.

my lovely daughter told me to just do it…get the first post done and then it will be started.  i just know i can’t keep all this stuff in my head anymore and it feels like it needs to be more than a personal journal.  it feels like it needs to be bold and out there and heard.

i have opened the jar and have tugged out the first pickle.  from previous experience that should mean the rest come easy.  we’ll see about that.  my pickle jar is pretty darn big….from where i’m sitting it’s gonna be an adventure turning these pickles into relish.

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