Author: Katie Huey

Priming the pump

I’m doing a bit of behind the scenes work these days. Some is fun, other tasks feel maddening.

I’m on tech support chat lines and creating brainstorming diagrams, meeting with creativity consultants and charging my credit card as I invest in me and a small dream of a little business.

And I have an important question.

If I sent out e-blasts with updates about neat events, fun products, where I’m teaching and speaking, would you want to be on the list?

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I’m sure you get hundreds of emails a day.  Could I add one more (besides this one) to your list?

I’ll have more updates rolling out in the next few weeks – gauging interest for now. If you want to be on the e-updates list to never miss a musing of mine, please send me an email with your name and best contact email to 52beautifulthings at gmail dot com.

Thanks for your input – I’m heading back into the land of DNS and domain mapping now.

 

For Tonight

It was a heavy weekend. As I processed deeply yesterday, I’m challenging myself to once again focus on all the good and beautiful things existing right alongside my heaviness.

Things like ….

Dried rosemary fronds mixing into batter for scones

Fresh cut flowers arranged by talented florists

Dirt moving in tines of rakes

Puppy breath fogging up my computer screen

Hot showers

Peppermint tea

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Conversations mumbled across kitchen tables

Those who care to listen

Fingers intertwined, sitting on the arm of old wooden chairs in the tiny amphitheater

Waffle cones

Banana, chocolate, oreo

Loud, long, laughter

Natural peanut butter oozing on a spoon fresh out of the jar

Eyes blinking with a nod of understanding

Spotify

The speed of email

Love notes

Seeds sprouting

Ribbons blowing in the wind

Here are my beautifuls for tonight. What’s on your list?

 

 

 

Things We Try to Cover

The previous owners of our house loved color. A different one for each room.

When I got the phone call my dad died, I was working in my plum purple bedroom.

I passed tan stairs as I staggered down the stairs and leaned against mustard yellow basement walls to call my boss and spread the horrible news.

I kept working in my off-putting “home-office” for a few weeks more. I sat by myself, staring at the pillars, willing two contrasting colors to blend as my eyes glazed over with inability to concentrate.  Mustard yellow and sky blue will not blend. Their stark contrast refuses to budge and kept reminding me of the day he died.

And then I lost my job. And time kept moving.

I had to reclaim my bedroom and cover the purple with a lighter shade of wasabi green last summer.  The primary colors remained in the basement and I hated being down there.

I’ve been nagging about the walls in the basement for a few months. For some reason, after three years, I was ready to turn my attention to reclaiming my creative space. Dylan and my in-laws helped me rip down, paint, and repurpose the old cabinets. They hang on fresh drywall in our built-out laundry room.  I’ve picked up a roller and Dylan cut in, covering spaces where ceiling and wall and floor and carpet meet.

We need four gallons of “Veil White” Behr paint to cover up the hideous mustard yellow and sky blue. One coat will not cut it. Two may be insufficient as well. Despite primer and luxuriously plush roller sponges, the old is still infiltrating the new.

As we apply the silky liquid, I keep thinking no matter what we do, that gnarly yellow will still be there, underneath our applications of white.

With each arm extension and application of the brush I am not erasing the grief nor the trauma created as shock moved through my back and into the radiant walls.  The yellow remains under fresh layers, a muted witness to where I once stood, shaken and weeping. I cried as I rolled blue to white, wishing Dad was here to remind me to add more paint to my roller. More tears came for the beautiful truth that I’m capable of transforming this pain. Whispering to myself and my experience, ‘Take that – this grief need not be the top layer forever.’

As I painted, our garden sat ready and waiting for love and attention. Six months ago we filled our little plot with all kinds of leaves. We dragged in detritus and waited – hoping the simple act of covering would encourage nature to do its thing, turning the leaves into something useful.

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This morning, Dylan threw four bags of soil on top of the crunchy pile and set about to mix and mulch two forms of earth together. Our rototiller machine failed to break up the mounds which had not, like we’d hoped, decomposed in time. Our attempts to cover failed. Too much matter remained.

I got out the shovel and he the rake, and we moved mound after mound of material into the green trash toter. The more we removed, the less resistance we faced and the fresh soil was able to mix with the old organic material. Rake, sweat, stomp, mash, repeat- all to prepare the pile for its next life.

Dylan did the math. We still need more cubic feet of soil to sufficiently cover the leaves and turn the mixture into something capable of growth.

We can’t cover our pain. It has to move and mix and honor the layers it added to our lives. We can, however, transform it.

We can use handcrafted brushes, and cushy rollers, and salty tears from our hearts or crumbling earth and warm, wooden rakes and heavy-handled shovels to do the lifting. The chemical components of what you started with still remain. Traces of previous layers compound adding thickness and texture to your heart.

And clean slates and fresh plots of earth come together, eager and waiting for what you will create next from your new form. What a beautiful thing.

 

 

 

April Favorite Things – 2019

 

I’m making some changes to my Favorite Things feature. Coding and rules are driving me crazy so just know great new things are coming your way soon. While I wrestle with html I hope you enjoy a few things making my home clean and happier as we head towards spring.

Here’s what we’ve got on the list this month:

  1. Mrs. Meyer’s Cleaning Supplies – I’ve been searching for a more natural cleaning product for my house. After receiving two bottles of multi-purpose cleaning spray, I’m hooked. Smells delicious and I’m not worrying as much about harsh chemicals.
  2. This mop holder is helping our newly finished laundry room feel more organized. Easy to install and looks great on the wall.
  3. I planted my seedlings this past weekend and was excited to use Fox Farm fertilizer as recommended by the lovely ladies at our local community gardens.
  4. Michelle Obama’s strength and wisdom unfolds on the pages of her memoir “Becoming.” For anyone asking the question, ‘How can I use my life to serve people more?’, this is an inspiring read.

Short and sweet. Get cleaning and reading and let me know how it goes. Planning to grow a garden? I want all your tips.

*I’m an affiliate partner with Amazon Associates. I may receive a commission if you make a purchase using the links above. I only recommend products I’ve used personally and love. 

Wooing

Shelby Forsythia sent me an email this week saying she shared a bonus feature with content from our podcast conversation back in December. Parts of our conversation now fill an “in the meantime” slot for Coming Back and when I clicked play in the email, the words caused my brain to pause.

She asked me what was beautiful on that day back in December. December! Wasn’t I staring at Christmas lights just yesterday? Three months ago it was dark and cold and we were wrapping up one year in anticipation of the next. I was trying to live and plan ahead while hoping to cut off the pulsing blood supply to my grief wound. March was looming and with it came the promise of big birthdays and hard anniversaries.

Taking action, I thought, could help me resist the need to stay burrowed under dirt and hurt.

Ruth Chou Simons, painter of beautiful words and the owner of GraceLaced, said earlier this week on her Instagram,

“I won’t regale you with all the reasons and circumstances, but this has been a long winter for me. You, too? 

But suddenly, branches are brimming with flowering buds and green shoots break through the cold, hard earth. Turns out, Spring arrived while I was busy thinking I’d never make it through the winter.

In reality, despite the way it feels to our feeble minds, God has not been hibernating or taking time off in our winter season …

While we’re wondering if He’s still at work in the circumstances that feel so impossible, He has been holding all things together for the unfurling of His plan.

Friend: what if your winter is His wooing?”

Wooing.

A gentle pursuit rather than a braggy ‘check out what I can do for you.’ I’m imagining a God whose wooing persists through desperation. Who woos while accepting angry blows to the chest from my flailing fists.  The wooing from a loving spirit invites rest, waiting, and hope. Wooing requires trust, intimacy, and vulnerability. And wooing requires a willing recipient of all that attention.

I’ve been praying while doubting the wooing for quite some time. Asking and failing to trust all the same.

March submerged me in a pile of small grief bubbles, triggers popping like soap suds as days rolled off the calendar, moving us closer to the three year anniversary. I noticed today, though, my gosh, the days have suddenly passed.

So much has shifted since December and that interview.

When I stop to listen and sit at the feet of God’s mountains, his foothills, his rustling bare trees I see all that God has done for me and my family in our dark winter season. I’ve been angry and weeping and moving and still he kept saying, “I’m here.”

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It’s light out longer now. The sun dances through my kitchen window long passed 7 pm. The things we had been praying for for two years just burst themselves beautifully into our lives like brave tulips poking their little heads out of hibernation and into our garden plot. The same patch of dry dirt that has been waiting. The place where we plan to cultivate beautiful things in this new season ahead.

Wooing.

God’s still at it – whispering to please slow down – for it is time to till the dirt and the hurt into beautifully rich earth instead.

This morning

A friend from high school now leads a Lutheran congregation in Alaska. She posted this poem on her Facebook yesterday.

The pains of the world:
There are many.
The joys of the world:
There are a multitude.
To hold one while avoiding the other:
A human struggle of distraction.
Both are vital.
Give both the attention they request.
Your soul demands tending of both.

This is what I’ve been doing. Tending both.

Today, it has been three years since I was introduced to sorrow so deep. Three years since he died. Man, it still sucks typing those words.

In the last 365 days I’ve been flirting with joy, allowing it to tickle my toes and tempt my heart as we begin to believe that maybe, just maybe, we’ll get used to this pain.

This morning I will write a letter to my father and I may weep. I’ll head to work and have my people on speed dial should panic attacks decide to knock on my office door.

I’ll breath deeply and drink Pike’s Place coffee and mostly, this morning, I’ll remember. The sparkle in his eyes. The badly dancing hips, the sound of his laugh. The way he would get out of bed on Saturday mornings when I was in high school, making room for me to chill with my mom. I’ll remember waffles, his Einstein hair, plaid pajamas and encouraging texts and bad jokes from yahoo. I’ll remember how it got worse before it got better and how far we have come. And I’ll listen to this song by JJ Heller on repeat.

Thank you to all who have walked with us this far.

Dad, we miss you.


I see the tears sitting on your cheeks
I know you’re tired, fall now to sleep
Stop fighting so hard, it’s time to surrender
Raise your white flag and always remember
Your heart will feel lighter
Everything will be brighter
Find peace in knowing
That all will be well in the morning
In the morning
All will be well
All will be well in the morning
It’s been a long day, and you did your best
Let go of the past, it’s time now to rest
The weight of the world is getting too heavy
Give it to Jesus, His arms are steady
And your heart will feel lighter
Everything will be brighter
Find peace in knowing
That all will be well in the morning
In the morning
All will be well
All will be well in the morning
Close your lovely eyes
Can you feel the sunrise
Your heart will feel lighter
Everything will be brighter
Find peace in knowing
That all will be well
And your heart will feel lighter
Everything will be brighter
Find peace in knowing
That all will be well in the morning
In the morning
All will be well
All will be well in the morning
In the morning
All will be well
All will be well in the morning

 

What would the geese do?

I’m not an “operate at high-speed” person.

I pause.

I take time to think before I respond to questions.

When my boss comes to my desk hoping for quick responses, I gently remind him my brain takes a few extra seconds to shift gears and enter into his gracious questioning. I’m lucky he’s patient with me.

This week I’ve been forcing myself to swirl my arms and churn at a higher gear. Probably at the natural speed my boss operates.

I’ve been up late trying to get my silly iPhone upgraded (it’s still stuck on the old operating system) and transferring photos to make space to get the obnoxious ‘not enough storage message to go away. I’ve been working and babysitting and running and shopping and returning clothes and trying on swim suits (it’s own kind of torture) and dealing with online orders never refunded. Dylan and I got in a tiff about insurance cards and checking bags and I know I’m not communicating at my best.

My to-do list grows and with it my anxiety escalates at a steady rate. When I went to bed last night with great intentions to wake early and multi-task some more before work, I had to take deep breaths. The dog slept on the floor instead of next to me where she usually settles in for the night. I think she could sense my bad energy.

This morning I pressed snooze and woke later than I hoped. Chucking a load of laundry into our tired washing machine, I got a few more things organized as I poured dry kibble into a clattering bowl. I sped to work and walked in the office door with ten minutes to spare, ready to check in for a flight.

I watched the minutes tick by.

Click – right as the time turned over – and my stomach dropped.

I did not have the necessary information to get my boarding pass and I almost started crying at my standing desk.

Four big, deep, ‘Ohmmmmmms’ later and I walked myself to the coffee shop to get my regular hot beverage that restarts my soul. Yes – vanilla lattes are a coping mechanism.

I approached the shop with its warm lights and freshly ground beans beckoning and tried the handle. The back door was locked.

“Son of a bitch,” I cursed under my breath. As I walked around to the front door I told myself, “You need to do a better job of being kind to yourself.”

I’ve learned, in the last few years, moving faster does not get me where I need to go any more efficiently. I make errors, I forget things, or the universe tells me to pause when the barista forgets to unlock the back door forcing me to take a few more steps.

Moving faster just gets me frustrated.

There’s a stretch of road in between a few large fields left undeveloped and protected by the prairie dog lovers of Colorado on my commute. As I drove I saw the snow-dusted foothills and looked up to see a flock of geese flying in the bright blue sky. At the same moment I was muttering for the car in front of me to go just a teeny bit faster, these beautiful birds were flying on their way to the next thing. I doubt they had big to-do lists nor were they worried much about their speed. I’m guessing they just followed their instincts, flapped their wings, and took flight.

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Photo by Tim Umphreys on Unsplash

This week I’ve been ignoring my instincts, saying yes and packing days full when perhaps I could have just started moving my wings at their own natural speed.

So when the internet went out at work this afternoon, right after I sent my boss to an appointment not present on the other person’s calendar, I paused and had to ask, “What would the geese do?”

They’d keep flying beautifully.