Sunday, December 14, 2014

last place

It is easy to get overlooked when the other trees on the lot are bigger, fuller, prettier. Just like it's easy to get overlooked in life. "But the little tree kept its hopes high. It wanted someone special, someone who was as excited about Christmas as it was." Keeping the faith, day in and day out, is so difficult when it doesn't seem like things are going to work out. But all of the loneliness and hurt melts away when love shows up. That's the message of this dear wonderful book by Stephen Krensky, with beautiful illustrations by Pascal Campion. The Last Christmas Tree truly stole my heart when I discovered it last week and continues to resonate in its poignancy. I think you'll love it, too.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

tree lot meditation

Who says meditation has to be done while sitting cross-legged in a quiet place? The middle of a busy Christmas tree lot on a December day works just fine. Whether you need to buy a tree or not, just go there. Go whenever you want to and as often as you like during this season. Doesn't cost a thing. Walk the rows inhaling sweet cold pine air. Let go of any thought that isn't happening at that lot, at that very moment. Breathe in hope, breathe out peace.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

awaiting in awe

Astonishing how many "A" words are affiliated with this Advent season of anticipation before the arrival of the Christ child into the world. It's all about cultivating a sense of awareness and attentiveness. "Do not be afraid," the angel told Mary, the annunciation or 'announcement' scene appearing in amazing art throughout history. "All of life is a kind of Advent," a dear friend said, an astounding thought that makes me grateful to be alive and awakeAlleluia, amen.
(The Annunciation by Sandro Botticelli, circa 1490, Uffizi Gallery, Florence)

Monday, December 1, 2014

Dear December

Dear December,
     My heart has been waiting for you. For the red, the green, the frosty, the twinkling. For the comfort and joy of beloved carols and ornaments and cookies. Welcome Rudolph and Santa, welcome Grinch, welcome especially Charlie Brown. Yay for Handel's Messiah on the car radio and Layne's cinnamon coffee cake, for the aromatic exhilaration of the tree lot, for yet another reading of A Christmas Carol.
     I've been waiting all year to bring my creche down from the attic and take the figurines out of their tissue-wrapped rest. There's Mary and Joseph and the baby Jesus, a cow, a donkey, a camel, two little lambs, three wise men and the angel who watches over them all. It feels like they've been waiting for me, too.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

grace and granola bars

When Anne Lamott was in Charlotte on Thursday night, one thing she said really stuck with me: 'sometimes grace looks like granola bars and water bottles.' Occasionally she and her Sunday School kids go out into the community and pass them out to hungry people they meet on the street. It's not a grand gesture and it's not a solution, it's just a bit of grace. Which got me thinking how grace shows up in ordinary ways. It felt a whole lot like Thanksgiving to jot it down:
1. Ian's never-fail 6:30 am cheerfulness before he heads to school
2. two different people saying the nicest compliments about Yates
3. Italia completing (and enjoying!) a half-marathon
4.  Mike saving an article he thought I'd like
5. watching A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving on YouTube
6. clients who didn't mind moving meetings around to fit my schedule
7. catching up with my sister-in-law on the phone
8. finishing a great book 
9. starting a new one
10. orange roses as big as peonies
11. cold, sunny afternoon walks
12. nature's November palette  

Monday, November 17, 2014


The ginkgo tree stands for hope, resilience, peace. She loses her leaves in one fell swoop in late autumn. They cascade down in almost a single day, creating a carpet of gold on the ground. The brilliant leaves give way to bare branches which light filters through.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

in all things

If you get complacent in appreciating this banquet we call life, your senses can help turn things around. A friend told me about the idea of keeping a Thanksgiving Sensory Notebook in which you jot the good things you see, hear, taste, smell and touch throughout the day. Pumpkin spice tea and the pretty can it comes in. The bag of bright tangerines. Crunchy leaves underfoot. The voice you love so much on the other end of the phone. The mysterious moon in its inky sky. It doesn't take much before your cornucopia really doth runneth over. The wisest person I know says that the antidote to feeling like life has gone flat, or haywire, is to be radically present. A stick of cinnamon is an excellent place to start. 

Friday, November 7, 2014


While I didn't plan ahead, got rushed and bailed on even making a dish for the potluck football picnic last Thursday, another mom showed up with this platter of edible art. She thought it was funny that I took a picture of the cookies, but I wanted to remember every detail about that fun, festive evening. Especially how some people not only show up, but put a unique and lovely stamp on whatever they do, splashing grace across the canvas of life.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

too full for leftovers

The ironic thing about being full of thanks is that there's no room left over for the host of other things that can edge out its place at the table: regret, worry, ennui, negativity and even loss. When I think of the most searing grief I've ever known - losing Dad - even that is transformed now when I focus on the gratitude of having had him at all, much less for 30 precious years. As well as the loving bond that continues to thrive (and guide) today on a different plane. For that, I give infinite thanks.

Thursday, October 9, 2014


Can't get enough of these snappy, snazzy, spicy stems. Orange you glad it's October?