Saturday, January 4, 2014

Brave beginnings

I chose the word brave in 2013. One little word to be my muse and mantra through the year, to guide me in matters large and small. I chose wisely, and brave served me well. The most visible evidence of brave is that in the month of June I opened my private counseling practice, part-time, on the side, as I continued to work at my full-time, salaried counseling position; but come December I left that full-time, salaried position in order to grow my private practice. This was and is an exciting move. And a scary one. But one that is right for me for now. Of that I am sure. In 2013 I also moved to embrace parts of my identity that feel complex and at times uncertain, despite the strength and depth of their roots. Stemming from a barely audible and oh-so-tentative, “I think I might be an artist,” to the louder and more insistent, “I am an artist,” each utterance was an act of bravery. I am grateful to have been affirmed and supported each time, welcomed to come as I am—heart-centered, butterfly wings, and all (more on these themes later). Such support helped me to put my work and, I suppose, myself into the world in new ways, accessible to people who matter to me. Lastly, the year saw me take risks in relationships, in some instances putting words to thoughts I more typically keep to myself and taking initiative to make known more of my experience in sitting with another. Nearly every time, I was met with greater compassion, energy, depth, and connection, and for that I am immensely grateful. In all, 2013 was a good year for me.

The advent of January brings the arrival of a new year, and to go with it I have chosen a new word as muse and mantra for 2014: begin. Other contenders included action, move, go, and start, but none of those feel as poetic as begin. I much prefer the look and sound of this word. I like that the associated actions seem realistic in size. I like how begin connects with other sayings I use and find helpful: Don’t think, just go. Or: Take one small step. Or: Say one true thing. I like how it connects with last years’ word—beginning often requires bravery, at least when things matter. I know that in many ways I have already been experiencing what it means to begin—in my work as a counselor and an artist, and in relationships. Continuing this trajectory means a daily effort to begin, to take small, concrete steps in the direction I want to go. The coming days are an invitation, a series of ordinary opportunities to begin something new or in progress, taking first one step and then another and another. Drawing, reading, writing, singing, playing, painting, selling, cooking, juicing, running, counseling, coaching, connecting, listening, laughing, talking, sleeping, growing, being. In these ways and a myriad of others, I will continue to build my life, following the purposeful call to begin.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

love, embrace, and live

remembering kyle lake today...
these words are also posted here.

Within my arms, these flesh and bones,
the beat of life that is my own,
the blood that pulses in my veins
and in my chest reverberates.
The steady press; again, again,
on and on, beneath my skin.

Seven hundred fifty eight—
the miles that kept me far away in space
and in a different place and time.
I have a different name. I tried
to reconcile the meaning of
the calls that came to me that day.
They seemed to say
the end had come.

And now the months, the years have passed.
The distance stays; the empty lasts.
The missing you, the missing me,
and everything I used to see,
and all the ways things used to be,
and all the possibilities
and yet have slipped into the grave.

I close my eyes to look inside
and take account of what has died
and what is left. God knows I’ve tried
to do my best to extricate
the remnants of a lifetime’s faith,
the threads that somehow still have stayed
unchanged and say to come awake
and rise.

Love, embrace, and live, you said.
We took these words to be as bread
and wine. A fine reminder of
that time and of the way to build a life.
And like the echo of a song’s refrain,
like lyrics on repeat they play.
Implanted in our souls, they stay.
This benediction—it remains
a life-sustaining, heart-remaking,
altogether rearranging
gospel that from here
we carry on.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

connection is transformational

today's prompt: The world is powered by passionate people, powerful ideas, and fearless action. What’s one strong belief you possess that isn’t shared by your closest friends or family? What inspires this belief, and what have you done to actively live it?

passionate, powerful, fearless--these are challenging words for me. i know i have some work to do before i could use them to describe me. maybe that's why i'm struggling with this one strong belief prompt. what i can say is this: i believe connection is transformational. i believe who we are is shaped most intensely in relationship with other human beings, for better and for worse. we are wired for connection from our earliest days in the womb, and i don't think that ever goes away. life is best lived in relationships that allow and encourage us to be most fully who we are.

#Trust30 is an online initiative and 30-day writing challenge that encourages you to look within and trust yourself 

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


today's prompt:
If ‘the voyage of the best ship is a zigzag line of a hundred tacks,’ then it is more genuine to be present today than to recount yesterdays. How would you describe today using only one sentence? Tell today’s sentence to one other person. Repeat each day.

today was crowned by a sweet, sweet walk with my daughter, who roared each time she saw a dandelion.

#Trust30 is an online initiative and 30-day writing challenge that encourages you to look within and trust yourself 

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

the story i need to tell

the prompt:
You just discovered you have fifteen minutes to live.
1. Set a timer for fifteen minutes.
2. Write the story that has to be written.

15 minutes to live? 15 minutes to write the story that has to be written? see how a quick change to italics renders the task one of monumental significance. all too easily, i have created an obstacle that feels too large for me to overcome. i've made it bigger than it needs to be and used too many words to say nothing at all. i've spent far too much time writing and deleting and rewriting, shifting words around, piecing them together so they read as flawless and effortless when that's not at all how the process works. it strikes me as i type that that's not how life works either though i've certainly tried that approach. the clock is running down. i have less than 3 minutes left, and i haven't really even started. maybe that is the story i need to tell.

#Trust30 is an online initiative and 30-day writing challenge that encourages you to look within and trust yourself

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

only be

my eyes lock with yours.
i'm completely laid bare
in this space, in this moment in time
it is almost too much
cause despite how i want, even ache, to be seen
you should know
i am scared of it, too.

and so now that we're past all the bullshit and games,
all the cards i hold close to my chest are displayed,
and i'm out.

fresh out of words to distract or deflect
or defend or place distance or just disconnect.
out in the open, exposed, so to speak
in the silence that echoes between
you and me in this room.

what in the hell is this place that we're in,
and just what is the point of it all?

i breathe in and breathe out
and blink eyes one, two, three
and acknowledge the beat of my heart.
i watch you as you breathe and you blink and you beat
and i think
no, don't think
only be.

only be all that's me
so whatever you see
is what's true
and you'll do
what you will
i will be
be as still
just as still
as i can.

and however it goes
i'll take care not to break,
not take eyes off your face,
hold your gaze
in this place
it is sacred.

Friday, March 25, 2011

be present

what to write when
there are no words.
when everything's been said
a million times before with
more eloquence and flair.

i sit in an oversized chair and listen as
one seeks to access things that are deeper and
another wants to know what it all means and
how to proceed, which, indeed, is
the question of the hour.

try that again.
be present to you.
be present to me.
and i will do the same.