Glee

Happy Friday ya’ll! Weather forecasters were calling for a nasty day here in Northern Colorado and as I look outside I see beautiful skies and 60 degrees. Jokes on them. Or on me when it dumps two feet of snow tomorrow, but for now, I’ll take the sunshine.

I’m happy to share another contribution to the beautiful word challenge.

What brings you glee on lovely Fridays such as these?

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Do you love words? Please consider sharing your favorite with me. Details on how to get your own custom image here. Accepting entries until March 31st.

 

Floral Arrangements

When we were planning my dad’s funeral, I remember my mom being so concerned that there would be no flowers at the service. She made my aunt go pick out a few nice arrangements at the local florist. It was a taxing decision at the end of a long list of taxing decisions. Some greenery, a bushel of something or other to go inside of his fishing creel. She slept only a little bit better knowing that my dad’s alter…. is that what you call it? Ugh. The table with all of the things to remember him by. That table. It would be decorated with a few things fresh and beautiful.

Yet….. When someone dies people show up and send flowers. Lots of flowers. Beautiful, big displays of color and fabulous scent.

My dad died the week before Easter and every room in my mom’s house was filled with the smell of Easter lilies. My aunt bought us trees. Actually, several people sent us trees. Things to stick into the earth to remember him by. People want to give life when a life comes to an end.

 

These floral arrangements, while lovely, also start to grow stale in old water. The blooms start wilting, petals turn brown and scum coats fancy vases no matter the shape or the size. You have to disassemble them. I think it’s kinda morose to give someone who just lost a loved one a mixture of things that are going to, in a few weeks time, wither and die.

I remember taking this photo and naming it Grief Disassembled. At this point, the family had left, the casseroles stopped showing up on our door steps, and it was me, my mom, and my brother disassembling numerous arrangements. Combing through branches and thorns and dried leaves to see which lilies would last another week or two.

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And then we took the remaining roses, daisies, marigolds, greens, and hung them on the stairs to dry. Reminders of the extension of love and support that came to us in the middle of March during the worst month of my life.

Reminders that even though things die, we can keep, treasure, and handle with care the essence of intentions that radiate love.

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Just a few weeks ago, my mom took these arrangements down.

We reached the first anniversary with tears and cheeseburgers and a trip to the bakery.

I wrote him a letter – three pages long.

Lots of you reached out with texts and cards and phone calls. I am so pleased to know that my dad touched your lives too. Sometimes I forget his reach was so broad, so big, so full of inquiry into who YOU are because my own loss of him lives with me in my heart pocket each day. To those of you who felt his void, I’m sorry you had to lose him too.

I was most touched, however, by the simple gesture that someone (two someones in fact) chose once again to send me flowers.

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I received this bouquet last week and spent a few days pondering what this little arrangement symbolizes for me. A remembrance of a man so spectacular yes, but also the beauty of surviving our first year without him. Of turning our heads to the light. Of reclaiming the scent of the Easter lily. Of looking for fresh beauty, fresh extensions of love, new beginnings.

This arrangement will die too. But disassembling these blooms won’t be nearly as painful. Healing can be found in the most wondrous of places. Today, I see the glimmer of hope bounce among the stems, reaching up in the unfolding tulip petals, dancing on babies breath.

And all that was given to me in the delivery of flowers, a beautiful thing.

 

Brilliance

Isn’t it grand when you throw an idea out into the universe and people respond. Thank you to Teresa Funke who submitted her beautiful word for the beautiful word challenge.

This is my first fore into formal hand lettering and I’m excited to push my creative juices. If you are a master at handwriting, calligraphy, making words pretty without a computer, I want to hear from you!

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Teresa’s beautiful word is BRILLIANCE. What will yours be?

 

Coruscate – A Challenge

My mom sent me a text this morning with the word coruscate.

 

Coruscate-Turn on the stars.

She loved its definition and I do too. The way this word creates a beautiful image in its own meaning makes me feel all tickled inside.

When I stop and think about word-play, how we use word upon word to define our vocabulary, it can be dizzying to think about the power of language. And there are so many beautiful choices for how we want to describe our worlds.

I’ve started a Pinterest board with some of my favorite words and phrases, definitions that bring me joy. I want this board to grow.

So out of my own curiosity I pose to you this challenge. Help me grow my list of beautiful, tantalizing, delightful, intriguing, special, heart-warming words.

What is your favorite beautiful word and it’s definition?

If you email me your response at 52beautifulthings at gmail dot com I will create a meme for you with the word and post it on my Pinterest page. I will send you the image, and put your contribution in my collective list that will get shared at the end of the month.

Get out those dictionaries, search your minds, share your heart. Accepting entries until March 31st.

 

Thank You For Asking

Raise your hand if making new friends makes you nervous.

I, myself, am a big fan of the established clique. Shamelessly admitting that I’m much more comfortable with my few life long friends, the high school gang, my girls from college.

Yet, as you grow and (gulp) approach the end of your twenties, those life long friends aren’t always as accessible as they once were. Time and jobs and new spouses pull you in different directions.

The Girl Scouts have it right. Make new friends, but keep the old. It’s just easier to make friends when you were in that stinkin’ troop.

One of the bravest things Dylan and I did last year was join a community group at our church. Feeling raw and clinging the cross, we signed up for a weekly gathering of other twenty somethings – young marrieds – you know, the people I rolled my eyes at when I was twenty three.

But at twenty seven, I was feeling desperate for a new community, a place of belonging, and for hope. For socialization with people who were not so entrapped in our feelings of grief and scarcity.

Over the last year these couples have become our friends. We aren’t at a place of complete leaning – vulnerability takes time and trust and repetition. But we are on our way towards walking through life together – one Thursday night at a time.

This Friday, I was invited to one of the girl…. gal?…. woman’s? (we aren’t girls anymore right?) anyway I went over to one of my new friend’s homes and we spent hours talking about life, about our relationships, our jobs, our paths.

And in the middle of the conversation, in a quiet pause, one of the women asked, “Do you mind if I ask about your dad?”

Now these women have known my dad passed, and known that 2016 was brutal. Yet, we had never delved into anything more than surface questions. It is hard to go deep sitting in a co-ed group of twenty people.

“No, I do not mind.” I responded “It is the most comforting thing to share. Thank you for asking.”

And thus began a conversation that was a glimpse into my process, in the sharing of truth in loss, in taking baby steps towards a deeper friendship, and that was a beautiful thing.

A few months ago, I saw this picture. Some grief center created the meme.

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Thanks friends, for taking the time to learn more about me, for honoring that he did live. Thank you for asking.

Also, have you been watching This Is Us? OH MY GOSH get to it. I had been holding off for fear of the intensity the commercials portray. Then, one weekend, Dylan was away and I watched six episodes in a night. Even though we had been planning on watching the show together, I jumped right ahead. I’m all caught up and Dylan is upset with me.

The show is beautiful for thousands of reasons – it’s real, raw, true – the characters complex. And the way they depict grief and its after-effects as they meld in with the celebration of life just makes me feel so much less alone.

This show, it’s a tear jerker. I want to be friends with Randall and Kate and all of them.

SPOILER ALERT – don’t watch if you don’t want to know what is happening in the show.

This week marks the one-year anniversary without my dad. And people have been asking me, “What are you going to do to mark the day?”

We are going to take the steps to honor legacies. Slow down. Take a walk. Wear a hat. Have more fun. Definitely eat a cheese burger. Be like Randall as he takes a stand.

You can stop at 2:32.

 

His Wings are Big Enough

As I stood in line at the grocery story to check out this afternoon, I kept staring at the little girl in front of me. Probably two or three, wearing little pink leggings with a diaper sticking out at the top, this blond child was fascinated with the loose screw clinking on the sliding check stand.

You may not remember what a check stand even is (that’s certainly not the technical term), but – you know! – the little platform that slides in and out of the counter, making it easier for those in a wheel chair to write when completing their transactions.

Over and over again this girl’s tiny hands spun the loose screw on the edge of the platform that was just her height, as her exhausted and exasperated-looking mother tried to load this week’s load of sustenance into their cart. The little girl was determined to figure out what made the nuts on the screw work, moving her tiny features closer to the swinging table. Her mom kept pushing the table back into its proper place, only to seconds later have the young little gal pull the table and the fluid metal out again.

I smiled. The world can be a fascinating, perplexing, and enjoyable place if we stop and choose to fixate on things that draw in our interest.

I want to be more like the little girl, choosing to get my eyes closer, get my hands on the kinds of things that interest me, and let the rest of the chaos fade to the background.

How often do we give ourselves the time to really stop and examine anything so intriguing? For me, the answer is not often. There are so many circumstances that pull us out of that fixated state of interest towards a list of “something elses”.

I was reading a devotional this weekend as we stayed at a friend’s house. I picked up the pocket-size book Jesus Lives by Sarah Young and turned to this page.

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It can be eerie just how much God knows the words you need. I take comfort that He uses others to share thoughts of connection, of purpose, of divine inspiration.

And as I sat there, in the guest room bedroom, reading this page, I was reminded that I am still in restoration mode. And this position of healing takes focus, dedication, and REST. The kind of attention that blocks out the world and instead focuses on the delightful results of slowing the heck down. Much like the little girl at the store, I need to choose to devote my attention to the personally intriguing.

In other words, “Dear exhaustion, perseverance, pushing through. I can’t. I’m exhausted.”

I am choosing instead to rest in the shadows. To draw near to myself. To explore and delight in the simple things.

I think this week beauty lives in interactions at the grocery store, in this granola recipe, in a full fridge, in sleeping in, in celebrating family, in rest. In being taken care of, and in
conversations with wise women, in walking to get ice cream, in prepping for lunches for the week ahead.

His wings are large and encompass all the beautiful things as I allow my spirit to sit and rest. It takes practice and permission.

Restoration will come.

 

Thursday Reflection

Scroll. Scroll. Scroll. Stop on Gold.

I saw this poem in my Facebook feed and just wanted to share it. I love it and I think it is thought provoking. Thinking deeply and critically can be beautiful things. What do you think?

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“Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to gaze at bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
It is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.”

Naomi Shihab Nye