Flowers

In the Unfolding Future

For the first time in over a year, I spent a full day in the home I grew up in. There have been multiple reasons for my absence. Changes in caregivers and in family situations. I’m trying to negotiate being an adult woman with a house of my own. A pandemic lurks, placing tentacles of fear and suckers of joy on the cracked cement steps.

As I stood at the front door this weekend, I realized my key no longer has a place to work. The lock had been replaced with an electronic key pad. I rang the bell, and the big dog began to bark. Upon answering the door, my mom repeated the numeric code I needed to get access. It’s not as if I was kept out intentionally. I thought I put the pattern in my phone. Apparently not.

We had spent thirty dollars to stand in a field under a blue sky made silver with smoke. Returning again to the community farm, we took scissors to stems and snipped bloom after bloom, placing our finds in a large, round bucket.

We had gathered armfuls of greens, daisies, dahlias, and delicate flowers to collect into vases and mason jars. We returned home to do our work, walking through the front room on worn wooden floors to approach the table that sustained me. While we shredded leaves and clustered our collections, my mom and I caught up on stalled-life and our slow summers.

It has been almost five years since I sat in the same place, in the tall oak chair frame my dad built in the garage, disassembling arrangements sent for his funeral. The scratchy chair pad nibbled the backs of my thighs saying, ‘I may be worn, but I’m still here, too.’

Some heart ache challenges simply must be tended to from the kitchen tables of our youth.

I’ve healed, wept, and morphed over the last few years. I suppose, if we’re paying attention, we all do. What I hadn’t realized before this weekend was, just as every day is given a new, so too is my grief.

Dad isn’t here for this moment. Or the one that just passed. Nor will he be here for the ones unfolding as this sentence continues. I didn’t realize I will continue to grieve in the unfolding future. The every day ache is not debilitating, but it demands attention. When grief gets neglected, my soul gets hard.

I moved from the kitchen table, to the arm chair in the study, and still our conversation continued.

As noon turned into early evening, I kept wishing Dad would walk through the garage door. Couldn’t he be home from work or an outing at the hardware store? Perhaps he would have brought us a treat.

The door never opened. Instead, I walked out through the front.

I brought the bouquets to my new home. As I placed one vase after the other in rooms where I sit these days, I wondered if flowers can be seen as friends. I’m working from home without companionship now, as my husband returned to a socially distanced office armed with hand-sanitizer and a closing glass door.

The flowers keep me company. I’ve surrounding myself with beauty and scent and bursts of color to bolster me while he’s away. The refrigerator hums and my fingers click on the keyboard. I play classical music to keep my anxiety at bay.

For Dad’s not here now, in the next moment, or at the end of this sentence. I’ve learned I get to miss Him still, as the adult I’m becoming in my own home. I draw up familiar lessons of comfort. Memories of past greetings from the wide-open garage door nibble into me like bites left from worn, knitted, chair cushions.

Now, instead, I wait for my husband to return from his office to walk in our blue front door and I miss Him. And that, is a beautiful thing.


If you believe in the pursuit of beautiful things, have ever come back from a set back in life, or hold firmly to the belief that we can all be kind to one another, invest in this on-going project.

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Day 67 – 52 Good Things

As states start to open up, my confidence in being in public waivers. I felt brave and brought cookies to a friend. Panicked when someone I know got tested. Went to the hardware store to buy flowers and wanted to yell at those not wearing masks. I wonder if I’m missing out by staying home and still practicing presence by remembering to take things one moment at a time. I’m still home and still counting. Here are a few more good and beautiful things, even during a pandemic.

What’s on your list? Send me an email and we’ll keep counting together.

190. Irises cut fresh from the front yard

191. Plant starters given freely

192. The promise of tomatoes

193. Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist

194. Ham and cheese and bread

195. Clean water with slices of lemon

195. The Fitzgerald cocktail 

196. Bike Rides through neighborhoods

197. Waiting for Colorado Strong Pale Ale

198. Big, long, snotty cries

199. Puppy snuggles

200.  Warm nights with the windows open

 

 

In All the Rooms of My House

I grabbed the blue handle and tucked the blades into the red, re-usable grocery bag.

“I’m going to go try” I told Dylan as I put on my sandals.

“Ok, good luck” he shouted up from the basement.

I’d spent the last hour psyching myself up for the task. I was going to do something I’d been thinking about for the five years we’ve lived here.

At the corner of a busy intersection where you can turn into our neighborhood sit three large lilac bushes. Each year they bloom and the blossoms sit and open their fragrance to the cars driving by. Without attention, the plants flicker and fade.

Technically, the bushes sit on public property tucked behind cement sidewalk and rest along a worn wooden fence to the west.

Fewer cars are driving by these days and I wanted to give the blossoms a home. My home.

Technically, it’s stealing right? Cutting blooms off of a plant not my own?

Hence the apprehension and covert attempt at covering my scissors in a silly grocery bag. I don’t like breaking rules, getting yelled at, or being conspicuous.

I slammed the door behind me and breathed in purpose. I walked the winding streets and approached the intersection. The only car near me was driven by a teenage boy clearly not paying attention to the woman dressed in unassuming athletic shorts and Saturday gray t-shirt.

I once again grabbed the blue handles, opened the blade, and snipped, snipped, snipped. I wasn’t greedy and took only three bundles of blooms, tucking them into the bottom of my bag.

I sighed and walked back home. No one said a thing.

Opening the cupboard, I found jam jars, and mason jars, and a wine glass and filled the vessels with cool water. I pulled off the green leaves and snipped branches again to make mini bouquets of flowers knowing their essence will only last so long.

I placed the jars in all the rooms of my house.

And the fragrance of lilac slept next to my pillow, reminding me of the good and simple beauty on my nightstand while I breathed in dreams.

The little blooms are fading today, trying to hold on to their strength when they were removed from their source to live out their own purpose.

The sight of light purple, the smell of spring, small rebellions and gratitude for public plants doing their thing. All beautiful things.

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Day 24 – 52 Good Things

I’m thinking about changing the title of these posts and stop counting. It doesn’t do much good to note how many days have passed. We are still here and we are resilient.

And scared. And hurting. And grieving. And baking. And FaceTiming. And watching church online. And wondering if it’s worth going out to get an Easter Ham.

Maybe just me on the ham …

All of our experiences are valid. I’m glad your here.

Here are a few more good things happening in the world – let’s continue our count together until it takes as many days as it takes.

130. The Globe Theater in London is letting people screen Hamlet for free

131. Pub cheese and pretzels

132. Orders of fresh flowers being delivered to my door

133. Overflowing jars of sourdough starter

134. Roasted chicken with lemon and homemade gravy

135. Zoom calls with friends from college

Send your list of good things in your world right now to me when you can. 52beautifulthings at gmail dot com

Day 3 – 52 Good Things

How did today go for you?

Here are a few more good things. I can’t wait to see what good you’ve got happening in your homes, on your screens, and in your connections. Even STILL.

As a reminder, send me a note with the good in your world at 52beautifulthings at gmail dot com or a DM on Instagram. Keep em’ comin.

Sending love and light

(12-17 submitted by Cathy H.)

12. Seeing my coworkers via Google Hangout.

13.  People in Spain playing a big game of bingo together on their balconies.

14.  Flowers popping up in the garden.

15.  Regardless of what is going on – the sun still shines.

16.  Check in on someone you don’t connect with daily.

17.  Take a walk and wave or say hi to those you pass by.

18. Beauty from back yard quarantine, aka “Weeds” (submitted by Emily A.)

backyard weeds

19. Sierra Frost is hosting free, online support circles. I participated in her grief circle today and got some lovely, helpful perspective.

She invites you to:  use circling principles to create collective communication and maintain a healthy shared space.

Community Connections
A time to come together and battle isolation with meaningful connection, witnessing, and being seen. Sierra will help facilitate with any anxiety, depression, relationship challenges happening for you at this time.

Every Tuesday 11am MST/9am AK/ 10am PST/ 1pm EST

https://zoom.us/j/816798805

Grief Circle
Come get support for all kinds of grief: loss of loved ones, loss of work, sudden change of lifestyle, social loss, loss of normalcy…and so much more.

Grief is a communal process. Sierra will help facilitate where to go from wherever you are now.

Every Wednesday 3pm MST/1pm AK/2pm PST/5pm EST

https://zoom.us/j/726426006

Business & Leadership Sharing

Come with your questions about your business, podcasting, writing a book, selling, adapting policy and procedure and more. Come with your questions and ideas for effective and mature leadership in these times. Sierra will facilitate for you to leave knowing your next step.

Every Thursday 1pm MST/11am AK/12pm PST/3pm EST

 https://zoom.us/j/145671405

 

February Favorite Things – 2020

It’s snowing again. While February is the shortest month, it’s often a long haul. Here are a few favorites to delight you while the weather is cold and gray and the promise of Spring is still tucked around the corner.

  1. The BFG by Roald Dahl

I’m sure I’m late to the party, and the movie version of Roald Dahl’s classic book warmed my heart. We all need to believe in magic just a teeny bit more.

2. Snake Skin boots

Because we all want to feel sassy. I’ve been told that trend was ‘So last summer’ so if you want to be on the forward edge, I guess leopard print is in.

3. Surface Dry Shampoo

Again, late to the party, but here I am. Perfect that tousled look and avoid wet hair for another day or two more.

4. Salt Lamp Tea Lights

They tell me the benefits of Himalayan Sea Salt are endless. So we put the lamps by our electronics and I light candles at my desk. Warm glows of healing rays. Perfect for gray days.

5. Winter bouquets

winter

Surround yourself with bright berries, and blue thistles, and tiny, delicate blooms of chamomile. Add some color to your space while we wait for things to think about preparing to bloom. You can buy online, or Trader Joes does a great job with flowers for cheap, cheap, cheap. This florist does floral subscriptions! Get fresh flowers delivered to you once a month.

What do you do to get through the long month of February?

Seriously, I knew this was going to happen.

I added a 4-pack of marigolds to my growing selection of plants in the cart on Saturday. The orange blooms are supposed to help with pests and pollinators and look pretty in my square of dirt. We came home and dug holes for tomato starts and zucchini and cucumbers co-workers previously grew with care. Out poked the green shoots and leaves that will transform energy into happiness later this year.

It was risky, putting those plants in the ground. I knew the forecast was calling for rain and rain in May often turns to snow in May and still I was stubborn. Full of hope for my little seeds had sprouted and I wanted to get them warm and cozy in their dirty bed.

We put in the flowers too.

marigold

And just like the weather said, it started raining. I chickened out and brought my peppers and tomato stalks inside. Now my bathroom floor is full of pots waiting once again in the dark. We slept and it poured.

And tonight, just as they said, the rain is turning to snow. Damn. We got out the trash bags and pots and buckets, covering my little guys to attempt to keep out the cold. I could see my marigolds trembling, their little petals looking up saying “Seriously, I knew this was going to happen.” And I whispered “Good night, you’ll do great. Try to stay warm.” 

And I came inside.

Also happening in my life is the slow demise of my iPhone Six. Here comes a first world rant as I know my privileged problems are small in the grand scheme of things.

For months my phone hasn’t updated. No storage. Countless problems with the operating system. First went the feature of mobile deposits. Then no room for Spotify. Which is more important – King Soopers coupons or Starbucks. Trivial questions and simple choices, yes, and still very obnoxious. I paid for more storage – still no luck. Deleted photos. Archived emails. Desperately asked the kind folks at Verizon for help.

“It’s never going to update,” said the nice sales lady “There’s just no more space on your phone.”

I looked up at her, shaking like those marigolds, thinking “Seriously, I knew this was going to happen.”

The phone is only five years old! Technology be damned, if Apple wanted to be so innovative and the world is going to crap, shouldn’t we be able to sustainably use our very expensive devices until the end of time?

Nope. Not that innovative.

So after the research and the Youtube reviews, I found myself once again standing at the Verizon counter with a pretty package and an expensive new computing device to use for my texts and my photos, and the occasional phone call. The world’s information is at my fingertips and I needed to make sure I could have a head phone jack instead. Spoiled, yes.  I stood drawn in, addicted, and raddled looking for solutions to my technological deprivation. I made a choice and signed a contract.

As the same sales woman placed the new box in my hand, my heart started to drop.

“I knew this was going to happen,” I whispered to myself as I walked out of the store. My grief gremlin climbed out of my pocket and hopped into my hand. “Oh hello,” I murmured as her feathers started poking my hand.

This new phone will never receive a text from my dad. There will be no new photos of him and his phone number won’t live in my contacts.  I already lost his texts. But this device he will never even impact. No yahoo jokes. No butt dials. No bad connection calls.

A phone became a trigger and Apple’s planned obsolescence moved me further away from him.

There are lots of endings this week. Game of Thrones came to a close – I didn’t watch it but he did. So will Modern Family and The Big Bang Theory. Cultural movements that made up much of the last ten year’s pop culture just stopped. I didn’t expect them to last forever – I just didn’t expect it to hurt as much as it did when they were done.

Our good friends who we met just months after losing Dad are moving hours away. We said good-bye to them too.

Seriously, I knew this was going to happen.

Life moves on and things change. These changes are joyous and hard and even the best news and exciting devices can suck the breath right out of your lungs.

Like those little plants in my garden, being transplanted into new chapters of life can feel shocking and cold. It’s risky putting new roots in new places.

And yet, we have blankets, and buckets, and cups of tea to protect us. And I hope when the snow melts, beautiful orange petals and green leaves will keep turning their faces to the sun.

Shows end, we upgrade, they move, and we still we tuck ourselves in, saying with kindness to reflections in the mirror, “Good night, you’ll do great. Try to stay warm. The snow may melt tomorrow.”

That hope is a beautiful thing.

A Both Mindset

Easter. Resurrection weekend. It’s hard to absorb the magnificent power of Christ rising from the grave.

When people die, your people, my people, they are … well… dead.

And dead, my friends, is forever.

I went to Good Friday service this year because I’m finding comfort in the death part. I find comfort knowing Jesus doubted, just like you and me, and can tangibly connect to the excruciating circumstances present for those left behind on the hill that day standing in the dark shadows of the cross. I relate to the onlookers to suffering, those wiping their tears from a distance. I liked sitting in those creaky, auditorium-church seats and feeling connected with the very human problem of the chaos, confusion, and uncertainty coming from death.

I couldn’t go to Sunday service. Not this year. The resurrection – its very nuts and bolts – feel too far away and out of reach. Dead people stay dead right?

Wrong.

I guess.

I’ve been reading Rob Bell’s book What We Talk About When We Talk About God. His thoughts on human’s beautiful attempts to use of language, science, facts, faith and reasoning to grapple with the mysteries of an old story full of spiritual truth is really making me think. Perhaps, Rob suggests, the way we try to explain a living, vibrant, breathing, present God is a bit outdated.

“Mhmm”, I nodded along. “Mhmm”.

Rob walks readers through a series of six words and evokes critical thinking and a willingness to suspend the need to know. I got caught up in his “Both” chapter.

Perhaps both science and religion can co-exist. Perhaps God lives in both suffering and joy. Perhaps we can know all kinds of cool, hard scientific facts and still not quite know what happens when atoms merge and collide in a fancy research center in Switzerland … er is it France? CERN. Google it.

Enlightening. Expansive. And a little unclear. Right?

I went to yoga on Tuesday night. Before class began, my teacher shared about her trip to Tennessee. In her storytelling she lowered her head and said nine simple words.

“Yeah,” she said, “I just really needed to see my dad.”

And right there on the mat, my heart sank.

She’s in her late 30’s and still needs her dad. I do too. But my dad died.

And where does that leave me?

I put my hands up to prayer pose, took a deep breath, and honored the hole in my heart still working on sealing.

I wish, my friends and readers, I could step away from this grief stuff.

Every week I keep saying to myself, just focus on the good things, the beautiful, the light. Perhaps people are getting sick of tuning in to my pain.

And I can’t.

Rob Bell also shares in his book on page 110:

“The question then,
the art,
the task,
the search,
the challenge,
the invitation is for you and me to become more and more the kind of people who are aware of the divine presence, attuned to the ruach, present to the depths of each and every moment, seeing God in more and more people, places and events, each and every day.”

Exactly what I’m trying to do here.

So yes, I’m sad. And I’m noticing. I’m doing both.

 

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Photo by NordWood Themes on Unsplash

I see divine in the bowing sunflowers in a vase, in the red robins bouncing through my street, and the spray of freshly ground flour settling on my black countertops. Beauty in the questions and the words we use to grasp at answers. Beauty in intense emotion and in those willing to walk with me through, not out-of, this process.

Beauty in the lessons coming straight from my experience with pain, for God is creating a BOTH mindset in me.

 


In other news, I just launched my personal website. Check it out at www.katiehuey.com