Broken

Once upon a time there was an ornamental piece of ironwork in a shop that captivated my eye and, I promise, begged me to purchase for display in my own home. There’s no perceivable purpose to it yet its appealing rosebud scrollwork is so pleasant to my eye it needs no additional purpose other than sheer delight. When it broke in half several years ago (oops) it’s newly developed twin was given to a dear friend who had similar decorative tastes.

Sometimes it’s hanging on the living room wall in a grouping. Sometimes it’s propped up in a small space near the stairway. Other times it doesn’t seem to fit in at all so out to the garage it goes. Then at some later point while I’m looking for something useful like a bit of hardware or hammer it catches my eye and is brought back into the fold.

In an age where we’re encouraged to find our passion and to live purpose-driven lives there’s an unfortunate assumption that “purpose” determines worth. Wouldn’t it be just grand to know that you were loved and valued for exactly who you are? Yeah, exactly. Even with some rust that developed from that extended time as a garden ornament. And then not being quite whole ever again after the break you suffered (knowing it just as well could have meant the end). Having a cob-webby film of dust from that stint of banishment—out of sight and unwanted in cold storage.

You are loved though. The craftsman that designed the scrolling Rose vine will always have a heart for his creation whether rusted or broken. You are his creation and loved to the end and beyond. Believe it. If you close your eyes you can still detect the fragrance of knowing, without a doubt, that you, Dear Rosebud, are loved.

YOU Are Here

Some people have a built in GPS and their unique global positioning system allows them to know where they are at any given time and location.

Not all of us were blessed with that ability. As a matter fact the first day that I started school as a little ol’ just-turned five-year-old I lost my way. Unlike any other mother in our neighborhood our mom had a career and therefore employed housekeepers to manage us three girls until we were old enough to transition into latchkey kids. On that first day of school she drove me the three blocks (if that) to Wilson Elementary. But that first day I walked home alone after school and got lost. None of the houses looked familiar in the very neighborhood where I grew up. I walked alone and wondered if I would ever find my way. I didn’t cry. I was a brave little lost soldier, too overwhelmed for that. Eventually, and seemingly out of nowhere, a very tall girl, probably only in junior high herself, came to my rescue. She walked along with me and helped me to focus attention on looking at each house asking, “is this one yours?“ I was lost in the weeds, literally looking at each shrub and lawn and hedge for something familiar. When at last I saw “home” I bolted across the street and straight through that front door as if on a bullet train suddenly thrust into warp speed. I never looked back to thank my savior and I never saw her again.

Curiously (hmmm) I’ve had a poor sense of direction for most of my adult life until a couple years ago. I can see now from my current adultish vantage point that I had no confidence in my ability to find my way anywhere if I could not find my home from three blocks away.

Today I adore a sign in a public place that proclaims, “YOU ARE HERE.” Thats a comfort to me. Directions are important when we’ve lost our way. We mostly prefer to go it alone, out of pride perhaps, but every once in a while, when we’re really truly lost, we must take the hand of that angel that has been sent to guide us home.

Striped

Picking up a few provisions a couple days ago I noticed that my favorite type of apple, the Pink Lady, was on sale. But the Galas stole my attention with several of them having what appeared to be hand painted striations on them. Its a marvel when you stop to think that this crisply sweet fruit started with a lovely white blossom then grew into something utterly different in nature and form.

We each started as a blossom of sorts. A precious little bundle of new life that grew into something quite different than what first appeared at our moment of birth. Something is quite different though between the expectation of a grower and the expectations of a parent (grower) and that is that only one of them is supposed to be looking for standard market size, uniform shape, and even color generally speaking. More salable, you know, when the apple/we meet industry standards.

Are you of standard size, shape and color—though who really is?Has it ever been suggested that you “weren’t like the other children” because of the striations you wear? Conversely, have you been groomed to value a matchy-match sameness of a set standard of acceptableness?

I once knew a mom who insisted that her young son wear only khakis and tucked-in polo shirts. No, they weren’t members of the Royal Family, though at times she seemed to want to be. When her son grew up he rebelled through fashion and dressed totally punk much to his mother’s social shame. That there young apple went out and found himself some stripes! She thought at first that she had failed in her motherly skills in some self-centered sort of way but that gradually shifted to thinking he was a bad apple.

What if our perceived striations and stripes have come from a Master Artist’s hand? What if there is real intentionality in our unique strokes of difference? There is true beauty (and strength) staring us in the face of what seems different or irregular or not market worthy.

And I suppose it is in the eye of the beholder. Please celebrate what is unique about you. There is market value in your uniqueness.

You are a masterpiece.

The One

“A flower for the one I love” is what the canvas plant cover said; given to me recently by someone who does.

Funny thing how that works. Love stirs us to give—have you also noticed that? While it doesn’t have to take any specific form, the overflow of a loving heart and mind always results in giving. It may manifest itself as a flower or a ring or something larger and of great value but it is nonetheless sincere when it shape shifts into an encouraging word or a nudge in a forward direction. Perhaps as a sacrificial offer of help when our own physical resources have been exhausted or our community has been devastated by flooding or our source of income has been cut off. Or we’ve simply had a hard day. Love sees what you think only you can possibly feel. It can be felt it in a simple hug that communicates something powerful from spirit to spirit. In the spontaneous physical posture of a fellow sojourner’s arm around our shoulder there is sustaining connection from one human being to another and for that fleeting moment the Spirit within you knows that it will be OK, whatever it is, even if “it” is not solved, even if “they“ pass away, even if all you’ve planned for fails. In times like these the doubts and facts may cover over that glimmer in your spirit but we must try and cling to that fleeting spark before circumstances mask it with reality. Before the powerful, silent sound of Love is muted by the urgent situation at hand.

Do remember this: love does not cause harm; brokenness does. Love can cover multitudes of brokenness yet does not let itself become beaten down by it. Seriously, keep that in the front of your mind if ever someone who professes love, also brings harm to you or anyone smaller or weaker.

A flower . . . for the one I love.

The One.

Not So Worky

This was my Monday. There was plenty to be done but there wasn’t enough energy (or will) to do it. The sign at the office actually had our wifi on it for visitors but I changed it. I clearly had enough energy to make a declaration about my mental state of mind but not much more. I’m not a Millennial y’all—but there I was, daydreaming in between answering emails and taking coffee breaks.

Maybe, just maybe, that “no worky” Monday thing isn’t owned exclusively by one generation or specific demographic. The radio DJ on my drive said it is recognized as The Day most folks are utterly underwhelmed over. Hmm, underwhelmed/over . . . a phrase that might require an entire Monday to contemplate. I suppose we’re tired out from weekend activities coupled with the realization that we have to buckle down and get back to the business of being adults again. Well, somebody’s gotta do it after all. But yesterday at work “they” did buckle down and do the work at hand while the adult in the room played with the message board and dreamt up clever sayings. Maybe it was more of a mixed up Monday where the kids act like their parents and vice versa. In the movie version it all gets sorted in the end and everyone goes back to playing their established roles and sanity is restored.

All I know right now is that its officially Tuesday. Time to get crack-a-lackin’ and act my age. No message boarding for me today. Gotta get caught up and return to being a productive member of society once again.

Is a Monday state of mind a real thing? I’ll give it another seven days and report back.

Gifted

These pears were grown in the Central Coast, CA region where “intriguing, up and coming wines” are being produced. They’re not from Napa Valley but rather family friendly Paso Robles having become home to hundreds of wineries with distinct personalities and award winning varieties. It is from this sunny region of vineyards and popular state fairgrounds that these beautiful pears and Italian plums were grown.

The kids gave the pear tree a little extra attention this season resulting in the “Harry and David-like” quality of this year’s crop—further evidence that the soil and sunshine of this region produces pears of perfection with gift giving quality. And so when they came for a weekend visit they brought me the pears as a gift.

Enjoying one of them yesterday I appreciated not only their large size but also texture, fragrance, and mild sweetness. Slowly an awareness of something else came to mind—maybe because we did not have a fruit and veg garden ourselves growing up. A vague memory featuring a patch of rhubarb comes to mind but that’s beside the point. This reflection had something to do with an aspect not related to the variety or flavor of the pear. The perfection of them and the fact that I neither tended them myself nor spent my own money to obtain them floated in my mind.

That is the nature of a gift. We don’t necessarily do anything in particular to earn one. Even the days we receive the most gifts have to do with either Someone else’s birth or someone having given birth to us. Think about that for a moment . . .

A gift is something we didn’t labor for or water and fertilize for years. It is free. We didn’t earn it or else it would be a payment and not a gift. We might say that someone who doesn’t study but has the effortless ability to earn straight A’s in class is “gifted.” The child who picks up a paint brush and creates a masterly portrait without ever taking a lesson is considered gifted. They possess something they didn’t work for or intentionally develop.

There are psychological reasons why some of us feel we deserve the finer things, the best in life, accolades and awards that we haven’t earned. But the humble among us will attempt to refuse a gift saying, “Oh no, its too much, I couldn’t accept that” and mean it.

Accept the gift, my friend. Develop the gift. Use the gift. Share your gift. If you’re a writer, WRITE! A singer, SING! A care-giver, GIVE! A preacher, PREACH! These and many more are the gifts that we are now responsible to use and to share to make the world a place where other things may grow.

Rooted

Have you recently put down new roots? Maybe moved to a new neighborhood or new town with the intention of starting out fresh if not starting over? Perhaps you’ve just begun a new season in the same old location. New seasons demand new growth and new growth requires life sustaining nutrients which are made accessible via a healthy root system. Please work with me a little on my people vs plant analogy while I attempt to get at something.

When you settle in to a new locale (and I use that loosely) you gradually begin to determine if the new ground you’re planted in is going to nourish your soul. Maybe some soil amendments are in order to maintain a healthy environment for you. When the “new” of a new season begins to wear off then its time to do a simple diagnostic and a basic gut check will most often reveal what the state of the union is.

Don’t ignore that inner voice of yours that’s trying to tell you something. Left ignored it may become a nagging feeling. Then a sinking feeling. This may simply be your gut telling you that some ingredient, vitally important to your prime directive, is missing. You don’t have to go back to your old neighborhood (or season) to obtain it. But going back on a mental excursion might be all that is needed to determine just what helped you thrive before the transplanting took place.

What, in this lifetime of yours, have you determined as necessary in feeding your soul? What bare minimal elements must you have in place to actually thrive?

This might possibly involve a revelation, or even a simple realization of the facts. We think of putting down roots as something that secures us to a fixed position and while that is true the purpose of a root system is to draw up life sustaining nutrients into whatever is above ground. I pray that you will seek out your own unique version of MiracleGro and apply it in judicious amounts to those new roots of yours. Love, connection, sunshine, community—all are needed in varied amounts to support your season of new growth. New growth, new buds, new blossoms, new fruit. Get rooted and get growing.

That Face

Three King Charles Cavalier spaniels have come in and out of my life and each one with unique personality traits and quirks. Just like me. Some were developed by the environment they were in before I met them and some were developed because I was the environment.

And, yes, I know this isn’t a Cav but look at those eyes—that face! I follow many French Bulldog and Cavalier accounts on Instagram just to have those inquisitive, sensitive, intuitive eyes to look in to. It makes me miss Bailey, Riley, and Teddy so much it almost hurts but it also brings back buckets of joy in waves of good memories. There is also the joy that comes from knowing that someone else has the vet bills, the grooming tab and responsibilities of proper diet and exercise, of socialization with other young pups, obedience school and all the things like that.

• • • • • •

I have two fine sons and they’re both amazing as you’d expect a mom to say, think, and feel. Both have unique personality traits and quirks. Just like me. They were developed in the best possible environment that we could provide—not a perfect environment by any means but it included most of the basics mentioned above.

One of them has a birthday today. He has a smattering of traits and quirks as a result of the DNA he’s composed of and also from the various environments that have acted as influencers in his life thus far. We can’t change our DNA that I’m aware of but environment is something we can contribute to and even create with given parameters.

I happen to believe that the Influencer in Chief created this earth out of a hot mess that was without form, ”in the beginning.” I happen to believe that the children we create, as well as we ourselves, have been born with traits which include the power to create new life and new, good environments.

• • • • • •

What idea might be born in your heart and mind today? What environment might you change for the better or perhaps create anew? How might you influence a generation or even one person who may one day unlock a cure for a crippling disease? Or be kind to someone in need. Environment. Creation. Birth of a son or an idea . . . things that you can’t help but think about when you look into That Face.

Sidecar

You’re able bodied. You can get around on your own two feet having developed a keen ability to think independent thoughts and make mostly sound decisions over the years. Basically, honey, you’re not four anymore. You’ve learned how to navigate life.

Is there a legitimate reason then that you’ve decided to sidecar yourself? Maybe there is but at the heart of this question is a nudge to take inventory of the reasons for your decision to go “sidecar” of your own volition.

Do your emotional “legs” work pretty well? Use them. Do you have the ability to make fairly good directional life decisions for yourself? Make them. What about the desire to set course and venture forth? Dream it then do your best version of living it out.

If you wake up one day only to realize that you’ve assumed the position of passenger rather than driver of your own life, providing that is a safe and comfortable place for you to be, then bravo. You have chosen what works well for you in your own life situation and circumstance. But on the other hand, if you fall out of bed one groggy morning and ask, “Hey, how did I get here?” then the moment is right for you to have a Come to Jesus meeting with yourself. Have you surrendered your own will to circumstances by giving in or giving up? Think over the reasons for that for a bit, being kind to yourself throughout the inquiry. Don’t go stone cold Inquisition on yourself, just ponder the why of it all to see what emerges.

Maybe getting back on the bike is something to consider. We may fall off now and again but as they say, once you learn how to ride you never forget. Perhaps the effortless motion of the sidecar position has lulled your senses into a state of self-selected passivity. Just maybe its time to get up from that cozy nap, put your feet back on the pedals, and ride.

Photo Bomb

Ah, a classic group photo.

High school hallways are filled with them. Football teams, glee clubs, the class of ‘97. This is where you’ll find them—framed under glass in a hallway display case that perpetually needs a thorough dusting. Preserved for posterity, for future generations to reflect upon people who “were” if only to view their image and say, “my, what a nice smile she had,“ or “he looks like my cousin Jeremy’s son,“ or more directly, “she was the best player our league had ever seen.”

We as humans like to capture the moment and revisit the stories and glories of the past. We like to form teams, to be in clubs with others who have common interests and objectives. But there’s this one thing that seems to happen despite all efforts to do otherwise. Exclusion happens.

See the slender pinkish one in the upper left corner in this group shot? This one wants to belong. This one wants in.

What the members of the Saturday Succulent Society all have in common is that they value uniqueness and diversity. That and they have a distinct ability to retain water as if they’ve overindulged in too many salty snacks while binge-watching Netflix, but I digress.

Who wants to be in your group? Who might be on the fringe, hoping to be invited or perhaps desperately desiring to form a connection? Maybe they’ve yet to finesse the fine art of “belonging” and just need someone who’s got one tiny relate-able thing in common to extend a little grace and say, hey, join in. There’s room for one more!

Well, just maybe.