beauty

30 Days of Poetry

When you are doing what you like, 30 days goes faster than you think.

I challenged myself to writing a poem every day for 30 days in a row and the little lines of syllables have been my friends.

As promised, here are all of the poems readers sent in.

To see all of my poems, check out my Instagram.

 

The winner of this contest is @hi_im_morgz.

Thank you for playing!

Advertisements

Podcasts and Petals and Quiet

I’m trying to get in a gym routine. I met with a personal trainer – you get two free sessions when you sign up – and I now have a weight training card with exercises I’m supposed to do. Those cards sit still and wait for me in the filing cabinet under the stairs.

Lifting weights still intimidates me.

My comfort zone often places me on the elliptical, feet staying stationary while my legs and arms pump me towards imaginary miles while I watch shitty t.v. shows or worse.

The news.

When I go to the gym at 5:30 pm, ten t.v. screens flash with world news updates.

Blech.

Horrible news flickers across the screens. Volcanoes erupting. Draughts happening. Teenagers arrested. Meth houses making babies sick. Politics – a circus. I channel the absurdity on these screens and pump my arms faster – if I run fast enough on a stationary machine, maybe all the madness will stop.

I’ve been at this looking for good thing long enough to know fixating on the fear and negative doesn’t help. It’s like me on that machine – all that energy exerted and in reality I haven’t gone anywhere.

Instead, a list of gratitude for the quiet, beautiful things.

Some weeks, it’s just that simple. For this week:

  • Bourbon Milkshakes – yup that’s a thing – who needs a margarita on Cinco de Mayo when you can have something from this menu instead? The sound of ice cream slurping up a paper straw
  • Hearing your recorded voice – I’m tickled that Hello Humans allowed me to record what I’ve learned in the last two years on this podcast – listen to the first few minutes
  • Lilacs – they smell so amazing – I want to go on a sneaky lilac hunting adventure through the park and find extra sprigs to cut and stick in a mason jar. If you have extras – let me know
  • Pink petals falling from blooming trees – they grace the sidewalk and make me feel like God is preparing where I walk like I’m a bride walking down the aisle
  • Spring rain storms
  • Food in the fridge — water flowing from my sink — the stove turns on with the press of a button
  • Facetime – for phone calls with loved ones
  • Taking risks – the worst that can happen is they ignore you – good news when they find out they aren’t, in fact ignoring you
  • Flannel sheets
  • Breezes coming in through the window as I fall asleep

 

What good and quiet things can you find? What do you do to drown out all the noise of the bad?

 

May Favorite Things

“April showers bring May flowers,” they say.

Here in Colorado April  brought winds, downed fences and little rain. I’ve got my tomatoes growing in their little plastic cups on my counter and dreams of planting our garden. Never plant a garden until after Mother’s Day here in Colorado. It could snow on Thursday.

So while I wait to plant actual plants, and Dylan works with the neighbor to fix our fence, I read and write and dream of summer.

Here’s what’s making the list of favorite things this month:

  1. Friends who write books!

Congratulations to Joyce Dickens who just published her book titled The Exotic and the Mundane – One couple, a bold decision, and the life-changing adventure that followed about her year of travel around the world! I was honored with the gift of being a beta reader and I know this newly published account will delight and inspire you to get out there!

2. Compassion

The world aches for it. For kindness, empathy, understanding. For us to slow down and realize all of us are humans along a path towards something. I went to a presentation at Colorado State University and my heart pounded as I listened to Dr. Leah Weiss talk about compassion in the workplace. Her new book, How We Work: Live Your Purpose, Reclaim Your Sanity, and Embrace the Daily Grind is now on my must read list. Inspired from her talk, I walked away thinking ‘Yes! Perhaps there is a place for sensitive folks like me in the daily grind.’ I’m thankful compassion is becoming part of our cultural narrative and thank Dr. Weiss for sharing this idea with students and communities across the country.

3. Joy

We just read The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World  for our book group. As someone who questions suffering and struggles to embrace joy, this book sparked opportunities for self-reflection and personal connection with broader humanity. I especially like the joy practices at the end of the book.

4. Pizza on the Grill

Step 1 – buy this cookbook. It will tell you everything you need to know.

Step 2. Buy some pizza dough from Trader Joe’s. I like the herbed flavor. Ain’t nobody got time to make pizza dough. Or maybe you do – in that case. Make your dough. Move on to step 3.

Step 3. Invite your friends over and have a make your own pizza night.

We tried pizza on the grill for the first time a few summers ago and it is one of my absolute favorite dinners. The crust gets bubbly, crispy and delicious. Everyone loves making personal pizzas.

5. Old School Polaroid Like Pics – Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 Instant Camera

I threw a good friend a baby shower and my planning partner in crime brought this instant camera like a genius! Nothing like pressing the shutter button and seeing your picture five minutes later. Trust me, this is cooler than the iPhone Portrait mode. Going retro while celebrating new babies – priceless.

Thank you to everyone who has sent me a haiku over the last month! There are still eleven days of the challenge left, so it’s not to late! Not sure what I’m talking about, click here.

On Creating My Personal Brand…

Three things I did today:

  1. I went to a workshop today on how to build a personal brand online.
  2. Scrolled on Instagram
  3. Read an article by Sheryl Sandberg

Regarding #1:

When I first started this blog, I didn’t want a brand. I wanted to be anonymous. Perhaps ordinary is a better word for it. I wanted people to read my musings, nod along, or maybe feel moved. Thought influencer? I wouldn’t have dreamed.

Now my dreams are changing. I want to write books. I want to bring comfort with words and tell my truth and encourage others to pursue the beauty offered at our fingertips. It would be nice to grouped into “thought leader” or “leader of her generation” or even “popular blogger to follow.”

As I sat and chewed on my turkey sandwich, the professional marketer told me my brand voice and my personal mission statement need to match across social media profiles. The images I select – the glimpses into my life – are the brand I create for the world to understand.

“Folks only log on and see glimpses of who you are on these platforms,” said the presenter.

Yes, true.

But, what about expanding to writing my feelings and emotions? How do those thoughts influence or create a personal brand?

I went back to work and Googled myself. I don’t even think my last name is mentioned in this blog.

Regarding #2:

Later, I was scrolling on Instagram and one woman my age posted a picture of herself smiling. She recounted that it was astounding when she posted pictures and comments of her darkest times – her sadness, her depression – she received more engagement with her posts. When she posted images of her happiness, recovery, or thriving, people pushed their thumbs right on to the next depressing image.

I sat and stared at her smiling face and thought, “Huh – would this be because people enjoy seeing the suffering of others and think ‘Thank God that’s not me?’ Or rather, ‘Thank God people are being real in this space. Me too. I thought, it was just me.’

Not that happiness isn’t real and admirable. Of course it is. Most folks know though, that happiness takes hard work. We all crave connection and feelings of belonging. If people project their struggles, honest, true highs and lows of life, do they get more engagement?

If we are being true to ourselves – authentic in the moment, and honest with emotions, joys and suffering – why can’t we portray both?

Regarding #3

Interestingly enough, before I headed out for the workshop, I came across this article by Sheryl Sandberg: Develop Your Voice, Not Your Brand

She says,

” The idea of developing your personal brand is a bad one, according to Sandberg. “People aren’t brands,” she says. “That’s what products need. They need to be packaged cleanly, neatly, concretely. People aren’t like that.”

“Who am I?” asks Sandberg. “I am the COO of Facebook, a company I deeply believe in. I’m an author. I’m a mom. I’m a widow. At some level, I’m still deeply heartbroken. I am a friend and I am a sister. I am a lot of very messy, complicated things. I don’t have a brand, but I have a voice.”

Focus on developing your voice, she says. Figuring out what’s important to you and being willing to use your voice for that purpose is incredibly valuable. “If you are doing it to develop your personal brand, it’s empty and self-serving and not about what you’re talking about,” she says. “If you’re doing it because there is something you want to see changed in the world, that’s where it will have value and depth and integrity.”

Ahh, yes, thank you Sheryl again for making so much sense.

I have brand components. I’ve got a tagline for the blog, and a set of values I live by and my social media profiles reflect pictures of beautiful things – poetry, friendship, coffee, so much coffee. But I will never be a brand.

I will be a voice.

A voice that believes hope floats on whispers and healing can be found in the pursuit of beautiful things.

A voice amplifying my pain of loss mingled with radiating dew drops on grass.

A voice speaking of growing older and losing friendships and the beauty of discovering new connections in basements of members of our church.

A voice aching for the suffering of others that also delights in the first magical bites of a buttery croissant.

I am not a brand.

I’ll follow Sheryl’s template and fill in my own blanks.  I encourage you to do the same. Leave a comment, write it in your journal, or share with a friend.

“Who am I_” asks Huey. “I am a writer. I am a wife. I am a daughter. I am a sister. I am a woman living with the loss of her father. I am the Director of Operations at a company that works to spark passion and purpos.png

Whew, that’s a relief. I can cross create personal brand right off my list.

What a beautiful thing.

You Have to Do the Cutting First

I lay there in the dark with my legs feeling heavy. The previous night we went to bed expecting snow. Nature followed through and we got mounds of it. A big, heavy blanket of spring snow.

When I woke it was dark, big flakes falling in that orangey glow of the street light.

I lay still and I stared at the ceiling, my dread-filled heart beating slowly when my phone started to ring.

It was my in-laws, calling in early, asking if it was still going to happen.

The funeral.

Was it still going to happen?

You don’t postpone funerals.

Not even with blizzards and three feet of mushy, heavy spring snow that takes out trees.

Overnight, one of our two tall aspen trees had laid over loudly in the quiet snow.

It’s bulky trunk and magnificent branches now splayed themselves over our driveway, hugging concrete and saying, ” I dare you to try to leave.”

My husband kept fielding calls from people.

So many people asking, “Is it still on?”

I couldn’t answer.

I got dressed in my black dress and scratchy tights. My cousin brushed my hair.

We continued to look out the window and kept thinking, “This storm has to stop soon.”

It didn’t.

In suits and ties and dresses and heels, the three of us marched outside and stared at the damn tree.

How were we supposed to get out of the driveway with that thing keeping us in this house? We had to get out. How were we supposed to go to the funeral?

It was still on.

Our kind neighbor was using his snowblower and looked up at us, dressed in all black, and quickly came over to move that heavy snow into piles.

Dylan pulled out of our garage at a precarious angle, and we bounced our way over the snow to the funeral.

The people kept calling to ask.

It was still on.

We went through the motions and mentioned how you could take the boy out of Minnesota, but you couldn’t take the Minnesota out of the boy. Even for his funeral. That boy, grown man, now gone, brought so much snow to his own funeral.

We headed home.

Exhausted from emotion, to-do lists, and people’s empathetic arm squeezes, I wanted to rest, but knew we’d have to face that tree first.

Except, we didn’t.

That same kind neighbor had cut the precious tree to pieces and stacked the remains by the side of our house. Dylan went over later to talk to him, and say thanks, and the kind man said, “It looked like you were heading somewhere pretty important.”

Yes. It was pretty important. That funeral happened.

As a result of that heavy weight, where two trees once stood, now just one permanently tilted as its partner was ripped from the ground.

Two years passed. 

I got worried every time it snowed and our neighbor’s truck, parked ever in front of the house, seemed to look over its shoulder at me every time I’d walk in to my home saying “Are you sure you’re going to let that guy lean like that?”

And so, on Saturday, the men brought the trucks and saws and rope and they cut her down. The second half of the tree – the one that fell with the snow on the morning of the funeral. The one that was still on.

They cut her down, even though she was standing bravely, without her friend.

I almost cried as they chopped that beautiful, living tree into pieces. I stood in our front window and thought, “Thank God it’s not snowing. We cut it down in time.”

IMG_6100

There were buds on the branches. It would have bloomed again.

We’ve got piles of wood on the side of the house again, and now a bench made of the trunk.

IMG_6102.JPG

I hate that we cut down a living thing that was just living it’s life at an altered angle. It was just trying to reach for the sun.

And yet, sometimes we have to rip things out of the ground for our own safety. We have to cut things up that no longer are good for us, take what was and make it into something new.

The beautiful process of recognizing  you can’t postpone some things and move forward by taking actions where you can.

IMG_6101

We will plant more trees and they will grow and shade us and bring fresh oxygen into our lungs.

You just have to do the beautiful cutting first.

 

April Favorite Things

He is risen! Happy Easter! Death has lost its sting!

I always love the meaning of Holy Week and hope you find today to be full of peace, hope, and restoration. If you’re more into chocolate than the Gospel, you’re still in a safe space.

Have a Cadbury Egg and think of me. Speaking of Cadbury Eggs…. my Favorite Things!

  1. Cadbury Mini Eggs

Not sure these really require an explanation. They bring chocolate with a candy coated shell to a whole new level. And I’ve been eating mini bags full since February. No shame. If you go to the grocery store tomorrow, they’ll probably be on sale. Or you can order them in bulk, here.

2. War on a Sunday Morning (Home-Front Heroes) by Teresa Funke

Over the years, Author Teresa Funke has become a friend and mentor. I have the privilege of working and learning with her. I am so excited about the release of her newest book that tells the story of Pearl Harbor through the eyes of a teenage girl. One of my favorite references she includes is to a 1940’s movie star who later became President. Can you guess who that may be? For more information on her series for middle-age readers and books for adults based on true stories from World War Two, view her website.

3. Earrings

Ha! Aren’t these funny?

I pierced my ears. At the age of 29. It’s ok, I’m just a little behind. This was part of my list of 29 Things to Do Before I Turn 30 list. So I checked one milestone off! I am exploring choices for jewelry that I previously ignored because I haven’t worn earrings since I was thirteen.   I’ve got six weeks more until I can change out the studs.

4. Ugh Mug

Yup. Some mornings feel like this. Some days feel like this. Coffee always helps. Laughing too. And mugs that you can wrap your hands around. Find warmth. Comfort. Sip. Sigh.

5. Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Liquid Soap

Some folks at work really value sustainability. We use all natural cleaning products and reusable mugs, and cloth napkins at our office. At first it was an adjustment. Now, as a result, my behaviors at home are starting to change. I’m starting to replace a lot of my toxic cleaning materials with Dr Bronners products and I love how versatile they are. Next thing to replace, toothpaste.

Check back next month to see if I’ve made my own cloth napkins.

Now, where are my mini eggs?

Roll With It

Tonight, I walked in the door to snow covering my living room floor.

Flakes the size of paper towels mixed with fibers of carpet.

Wait. No. Not snow. Just paper towels. Shredded. All over two stories of my house.

This has happened before, as once Dylan and I forgot to pick up the paper towel roll from the floor that we use to clean up after our damn dog.

She did it again.

Snow. Covering the whole living room.

In that moment, as in most, I had two choices.

  1. Get mad and yell at the dog.
  2. Roll with it.

I chose to roll with it. I stuck her outside and headed up stairs, unloaded my stuff, sat and stared at the mess. I called a friend, she didn’t answer so I left a voicemail instead.

And then I opened up my inbox to attend to an exiting offer I’ve been procrastinating on because I’m scared. Called that phone number, left another message.

Then I went to my kitchen, got a huge garbage sack, and picked up all the snow… er, paper towels. Shreds.

People keep offering advice on how to combat our dog’s anxiety. Doggy day-care, Rover, CBD treats, take her to work. I’ve got a reason most of those won’t work. What do I do instead? I roll with it.

Somethings don’t need immediate fixing.

roll

I haven’t been writing much here because I’ve been processing in my head. Two weekends ago, I lived through another anniversary of Dad’s death. I wonder if it will be like this every year – waking and wondering who will text me that day. Some folks I thought for sure would speak up stayed quiet. Odd how such a significant day can go unmarked for so many people I know who lost him too.

Other surprising me people asked if we have traditions to mark the day? No traditions yet, we’re only on year two. I think it takes at least three years of doing something to make it a tradition. They knew I was dreading that day.

The 18th.

Ugh.

I woke on Sunday, March 18th and Psalm 118:24 came into my head.

This is the day that the Lord has made;
    let us rejoice and be glad in it.

It was not March 18, 2016. That day sucked. It was now March 18, 2018. This day did not have to suck. I wondered how to go about marking the day, honoring Dad, and living in the present.

I had choices.

  1. Sit, grieve, feel sad and somber.
  2. Get outside, live, do things in remembrance of him. Roll with it.

Honestly, I did a little bit of both.

Without a plan, and a little less pain than the previous year, I didn’t have an agenda when I woke up. I wanted to feel good and alive. I needed to feel like I was rolling with the huge, sucker-stomach punch that I was faced with when Dad left this world.

I sat and felt sad for an hour. I wrote him a letter with tears streaming down my face. I drank my coffee and I felt his absence and smiled when a friend sent me flowers. Again. Then I got up and we left the house.

I made Dylan go to Dunkin’ Donuts with me and we bought three. One for me, one for him, one for Dad. We went to a park nearby – the one where Dad taught me to ice-skate, and we played trolls, and the one he could see from his office window in the last few years of his life.

I sat on a bench eating my chocolate glazed with sprinkles, hoping for a break in the crowds. Dylan poked me in the side, whispering, “Go!” and I scurried under the branches, donut in hand.

I left an Old-Fashioned cake tucked in the mouth of that alligator statue, where Dad would have looked when he usually walked by.

I hate vandalism and public littering and breaking all rules. I felt like the branch I hit my head on when running back to Dylan was a bit of karma. I felt good and I smiled. Dad would love this. He’d laugh. And he’d probably say, “Well that was a waste of a perfectly good donut.”

We went to dinner later that night, at the house I grew up in. My grief-molded family moved in our new forms and made big ol’ bacon burgers and beans. We sat at this old table and chewed sacredly, quietly without him.

We laughed and were proud of our choices that led us to this second year date.

A constant, patience testing, grace-filled, beautiful choice. To roll with it.