Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Have Your Best Day

I had the most amazing day today! The interesting thing is that I actually only slept 3 1/2 hours last night. I was probably on some sort of sleep deprivation high.

At any rate, I woke up this morning thinking about a phrase that my family uses to close letters: "Have your best day." My brother started signing off this way when he was in college. Then my dad picked it up. Several of my aunts use it now, too.

In my mind, this phrase doesn't seem to be saying "good luck" or "I hope good things happen today for you." Rather it seems to say, "I hope you are able to meet this day with passion and awareness," or, "Be your best self."

So, I took the energy of that phrase into my day, and here is what happened.

My co-teacher, Lane, and I spent most of our three hours in the classroom dancing with the babies to a CD of upbeat world music. We put flour in the sensory table, and the kids made white footprints all over the carpet. We finger painted with pink and orange paint, and the kids marked their faces like tribal warriors.

Maybe it wasn't that different from other days, but somehow I felt more available to the crazy, wonderful fact that it is my job to nurture and play with and laugh with these beautiful kids.

Tonight, after dinner, I took a walk and sat on a rock in the glow of the setting sun. I couldn't stop smiling, which is a good sign that I have, indeed, had my best day.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Lift Me Nearer

Awake, my dear.
Be kind to your sleeping heart.
Take it out into the vast fields of light
And let it breathe.

Give me back my wings,
Lift me,
Lift me nearer."

Say to the sun and the moon,
Say to our dear Friend,
"I will take you up now, Beloved,
On that wonderful Dance you promised!"

I would like to share something tonight besides other people's poetry. For days, though, I have been so tangled up in my thoughts that I have not had the clarity to write. I share this Hafiz poem because I need the reminder to take my heart out into the vast fields of light and let it breathe.

Sometimes I stay up late at night and pace and cry and long for comfort. And I forget again and again that comfort (or better yet, joy!) does not come from getting what I want, but from appreciating deeply what is offered.

Monday, July 28, 2008

A Cushion for Your Head

For V, with love...

A Cushion For Your Head

Just sit there right now
Don't do a thing
Just rest.

For your separation from God,
From love,
Is the hardest work
In this

Let me bring you trays of food
And something
That you like to

You can use my soft words
As a cushion
For your


Thursday, July 24, 2008

For the Sake of Strangers

No matter what the grief, its weight,
we are obliged to carry it.
We rise and gather moments, the dull strength
that pushes us through crowds.
And then the young boy gives me directions
so avidly. A woman holds the glass door open,
waits patiently for my empty body to pass through.
All day it continues, each kindness
reaching toward another- a stranger
singing to no one as I pass on the path, trees
offering their blossoms . . .

-Dorianna Laux

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Cast All Your Votes For Dancing

Cast All Your Votes For Dancing

I know the voice of depression
Still calls to you.

I know those habits that can ruin your life
Still send their invitations.

But you are with the Friend now

And look so much stronger.

You can stay that way
And even bloom!

O keep squeezing drops of the Sun
From your prayers and work and music

And from your companions' beautiful laughter

And from the most insignificant movements
Of your own holy body.

Now, sweet one,
Be wise.
Cast all your votes for Dancing!


My sister and I went to a belly dance class last night. The class focused on fitness and a few basic moves. It was fun, and a good workout. I find myself wishing I had the fitness level I did when I first started dancing. I was 25, and dancing seemed to come pretty easily to me. I had a really extraordinary teacher, and I guess my base fitness level was pretty good. Now I have to work harder! My body doesn't have the strength or flexibility that it used to. But if there is any way to gain that back, it is through belly dancing!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Missing Michael, and Picking Blueberries

I love it when my husband goes away for a few days. I love it because it gives me the chance to miss him, and then he comes home. It's such a good feeling to find yourself jogging toward your spouse because you're just so glad it is him standing there, tired and sweaty and smiling.

Michael was paddle boarding at the Gorge Games (on the Columbia River) for the last three days. While he was battling the wind and waves, I spent my time doing Ai Chi, picking blueberries with Oceana, and voraciously reading a Jodi Picoult novel (My Sister's Keeper).

I had never been blueberry picking before. It's a really peaceful way to spend a couple of hours, and we ended up with 2 quarts of blueberries for $4. We also ate our fill of them while we were picking.

Oceana chatted the whole time. She pointed out the turkey vultures overhead, a tiny ladybug on a leaf, and a water bottle someone had left behind. She told me "That's littering."

She also asked me if I was pregnant. My answer was, "no." And why not? I wasn't sure what to say, so I told her "Because there isn't a baby growing in my tummy yet, but I hope someday there will be." Then she asked if we would name our next baby Sage. I told her that was Sage's special name, and the new baby would have its own name.

The next morning, Oceana called me to invite me to breakfast at her house. Sarah (my sister) made blueberry pancakes, veggie sausage, and fruit salad for us. We listened to Jack Johnson's Curious George CD, which Oceana calls "Sage and Grandpa Faulkner's music," and somehow it didn't seem sad listening to it this time.

Oce ate her food with chopsticks, and at one point she got us all laughing by pinching her nose with them. She then insisted that Grammy and I try it out, so . . . here are the photos. If my curse in life is taking it all too seriously, then Oceana is the perfect antidote.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Oceana Turns Four

Oceana's fourth birthday was this week. We haven't had her party yet, but she did get some gifts from her Grammy (a kite, a puzzle and a tape measure). Grammy is teaching her how to measure things around the house.

When I stopped by to see them last night, Grammy had band-aids on the knees of her pants, gauze stuck to her elbow, and a blue sticker on her face. She and Oce had
been playing doctor, which is one of Oce's all time favorite things to do.

Oce will heal anyone who comes near her (including stuffed animals). She even gave me a physical therapy regimen, insisting that I was not "normal" until I could jump with her, and roll on the floor, and stand on one leg. Almost every time I see her, she asks "Are you almost normal yet?"

Grammy (my mom) is one of Dr. Oce's most frequent patients. They are quite a pair. A few days ago, Oceana said, "Grammy, you and me are buddies."

Grammy is a natural teacher. So many of the "therapeutic principles" that we follow at the Relief Nursery are things that my mom does instinctively and
effortlessly. I love to watch her with kids. I am thankful that Sage got to spend so much time with her.

I will always remember how she talked to Sage. She had whole conversations with him, listening to his sounds like they were the most fascinating story. And he LOVED talking to her! He may not have understood her words, but he understood that she thought what he was saying was important.

Sharing Sage with Mom made me feel so close to her. I was able to see her doing what she does best. And it deepened my appreciation of my own childhood. I know Mom listened to me and Levi and Sarah the same way she listened to Sage and Oce. Some of the most valuable gifts Mom gave me when I was a child are things I have no memory of, but they are part of who I have become.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Invitation

Oriah Mountain Dreamer

It doesn't interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for, and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart's longing.

It doesn't interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dreams, for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn't interest me what planets are squaring your moon. I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life's betrayals or have become shriveled and closed from fear of further pain!

I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it or fade it or fix it.

I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own, if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, be realistic, or to remember the limitations of being human.

It doesn't interest me if the story you're telling me is true. I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself, if you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul.

I want to know if you can be faithful and therefore be trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see beauty even when it is not pretty every day, and if you can source your life from God's presence.

I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine, and still stand on the edge of a lake and shout in the silver of the full moon, "Yes"!

It doesn't interest me to know where you live or how much money you have.

I want to know if you can get up after the night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone, and do what needs to be done for the children.

It doesn't interest me who you are, how you came to be here. I want to know if you will stand in the center of the fire with me and not shrink back.

It doesn't interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I want to know what sustains you from the inside when all else falls away.

I want to know if you can be alone with yourself, and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.

Sunday, July 13, 2008


Even after all this time
The Sun never says to the Earth
"You owe me"

Look what happens
With a love like that
It lights
The Whole Sky...


Friday, July 11, 2008

Learning to Fall

This last week has been pretty powerful. I felt a weight on my shoulders, the heaviness that comes with the build up of unshed tears, maybe. And then the dam broke.

It started with a visit to one of the families I have been working with all year, a family whose home I never once visited without Sage. I felt an upwelling of sadness for myself and for the circumstances of the family and for the little girl who is in my class, who seems so vulnerable to me.

So, as I was driving home, I was processing this experience, and I was stopped by a police officer for speeding. He asked me if I had any reason or excuse, and I told him that I was distracted and did not realize I was speeding. He told me that he was writing me a ticket, and that he just wanted me to be safe.

He was so kind and sincere, and something in me released, and I started to cry - hard. I told him I wasn't crying about the ticket, and I would be okay. I cried all the way home.

I can't separate out one reason. Part of it was that I couldn't believe I had been speeding, driving in a way that might be unsafe, after knowing first-hand how quickly and unexpectedly an accident can occur. That really was just part of it, though, and the rest is a jumble of feelings that I have not begun to sort out.

And maybe there was not a particular reason, just a build up of energy that had to go somewhere. When I was in the hospital, one of the chaplains told me that grief will be released, either through crying or a creative outlet or exercise . . . or if it gets pent up enough, it will come out sideways and hit anything nearby - like a spouse, a coworker, a friendly police officer doing his job.

I continued to feel shaken and weepy for the rest of the evening and on into the next day, but Saturday I woke up feeling renewed and hopeful. It amazes me - the way life flows on whether we bob along like driftwood or we fight it the whole way.

Today, Michael and I went paddle boarding again, and just after I stood up on the board, a speed boat zipped by, creating a wake that rocked me and pushed me forward. I felt my whole body tense in an attempt to stay balanced.

Later, Michael told me that when he is on the board in rough conditions, he has a practice of relaxing into the motion of the water and the board. He said it is actually easier to stay on that way than if you try really hard to keep your balance.

He also told me that it is important to always be ready to fall in. If you feel ready to fall in, you don't waste your energy on the fear of falling. Later, he walked to the back of his board and fell into the water. He came up smiling, happy to be cooled off on a hot day.

I think sometimes I walk through my life a little scared of falling in the water. I want to stay balanced - always. And really, what is the point of that? Even if I could stay balanced all the time, it just means I miss out on the refreshing experience of falling in.

How surely gravity's law,
strong as an ocean current,
takes hold of even the strongest thing
and pulls it toward the heart of the world.

Each thing -
each stone, blossom, child -
is held in place.

Only we, in our arrogance,
push out beyond what we belong to
for some empty freedom.

If we surrendered
to earth's intelligence
we could rise up rooted, like trees.

Instead we entangle ourselves
in knots of our own making
and struggle, lonely and confused.

So, like children, we begin again
to learn from the things,
because they are in God's heart'
they have never left him.

This is what the things can teach us:
to fall,
patiently to trust our heaviness
Even a bird has to do that
before he can fly.


Saturday, July 5, 2008


I don't know why, but I have felt unable to write lately. I miss posting blogs and the effortless way the thoughts and words poured from me these last few months. Now I feel so quiet. Not in a bad way, not shut down. Just quiet. Maybe in a rejuvenating phase. I suppose it is a cycle. Like sleep, like hibernating.

Here is another gem from the Book of Qualities.

Inspiration is disturbing. She does not believe in guarantees or insurance or strict schedules. She is not interested in how well you write your grant proposal or what you do for a living or why you are too busy to see her. She will be there when you need her but you have to take it on trust. Surrender. She knows when you need her better than you do.
Okay, Inspiration. I surrender. I know you will come back when I need you the most.
I will leave you with a Rumi poem, and hopefully I will post again soon.

Close the Language-Door

There is some kiss we want
with our whole lives,
the touch of Spirit on the body.

Seawater begs the pearl
to break its shell.

And the lily, how passionately
it needs some wild Darling!

At night, I open the window
and ask the moon to come
and press its face against mine.
Breathe into me.

Close the language-door,
and open the love-window

The moon won't use the door,
only the window.

- Rumi

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Love Song

Love Song

How can I keep my soul in me, so that

it doesn't touch your soul? How can I raise
it high enough, past you, to other things?
I would like to shelter it, among remote
lost objects, in some dark and silent place
that doesn't resonate when your depths resound.
Yet everything that touches us, me and you,
takes us together like a violin's bow,
which draws one voice out of two separate strings.
Upon what instrument are we two spanned?
And what musician holds us in his hand?
Oh, sweetest song.

-Rainer Maria Rilke