Wednesday, December 21, 2011


How do you do "waiting?" Are you a Type-A, make things happen, go-get-'em person who can't stand to wait a second more than necessary? Are you patient, willing to let others go first, open to the discovery that comes with a slower pace? Are you in between?

I am about now. And NOW. Right now. Do it now, finish it now, read it now, experience it now. This now-ness can lead to exhaustion, and chronic busy-ness, and a closing-off from life. It's why I took a break from this blog. It's why I work myself so close to burnout, so often. Now is the best time.

So much of life is really about how well you do while you're waiting. Waiting to grow up. Waiting for the doctor. Waiting for that special someone. Waiting for justice. Waiting for Christmas morn ing and presents and family and food!

And Mary, how did she feel about waiting? Waiting for the baby to come, waiting for everything to change, waiting for God-With-Us.

This season, I'm asking myself if I can find the sacred in the waiting. Is there peace in the unknown? Is there rest in the in-between times? Can I make space in the waiting for the Divine to come to me?

Wishing you peace and sanctity in your Advent, whatever that may look like for you.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Under its Spell

If I were an author, this is the book I would love to write. Magical, mysterious, imaginative, seductive, beautiful, dark, hopeful, and enchanting. This book is brilliant.

Friday, September 23, 2011

This Side

Lyrics by Sean Watkins, Nickel Creek

One day you'll see her and you'll know what I mean -
Take her or leave her she will still be the same.
She'll not try to buy you with her time,
But nothing's the same, as you will see when she's gone.

It's foreign on this side,
And I'll not leave my home again.
There's no place to hide,
And I'm nothing but scared.

You dream of colors that have never been made;
You imagine songs that have never been played.
They will try to buy you and your mind.
Only the curious have something to find.

It's foreign on this side,
And the truth is a bitter friend.
But reasons few have I to go back again.

Your first dawn blinded you, left you cursing the day.
Entrance is crucial and it's not without pain.
There's no path to follow, once you're here.
You'll climb up the slide and then you'll slide down the stairs.

It's foreign on this side,
But it feels like I'm home again.
There's no place to hide,
But I don't think I'm scared.

Thursday, September 22, 2011


I've gone underground in my psyche lately, hibernating and burrowing and retreating. TH and I have have pared down our activities to the minimums. I'm focusing my energy on more elemental things - what feeds me, what I believe, what I create. It's very refreshing work; it's also very personal work; it's private. When my Spring comes, I may share my blossoms. We'll see.

Meanwhile, I'm still here, I'm still me, all is well.

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Pledge

I, Jen the Lion Tamer, promise to embrace whimsy in all her forms. To seek out the secret alleyways which hold the sideshows. To live with the freaks and the tightrope walkers, the clowns and the fortune tellers, and to learn from them how to dazzle with whatever I have on hand - whether it be spangles and feathers, or the most faded of velets. I will learn to be both resplendent and shabby, struggling and triumphant, a learner and an expert. Above all I promise to faithfully follow my creative impulse even she takes the show on the road.

The Lion Tamer is calm under the most hair-raising circumstances. She does what no one else dreams and make it look easy. Humane and skilled, she uses every trick she knows (and some she intuits) to calm the raging beasts. Likes: wildlife, being in control, long vacations, and costumes. Dislikes: fur coats, being underestimated, feeling trapped.

For more Circus personas, see this site. Thanks to Rachelle at Magpie Girl for awakening my whimsy.

Friday, July 1, 2011

You can join the dance

No matter your skills, your abilities, you can join the dance. See the Axis Dance Company and this clip from "So You Think You Can Dance."

Sunday, May 15, 2011

When the dog bites

cute summer sandals, and doughnuts with sprinkles...
TH's smile (it brings out his wrinkles)...
new books that open up worlds on their wings....

these are a few of my favorite things...

Monday, May 9, 2011

Can't we be friends?

or, I've got some good news and some bad news.

I just learned today that a dear friend of mine is now a parent. That's the good news. I know he and his wife have been wanting children, and it's always a celebration when new life starts.

The bad news is that this dear friend of mine and I are not really friends any more. How can this have happened? We were close as brother and sister, but I haven't talked to him in over a year. When I reach out to him, I get an email back, months later, cc'ed to his wife.

To be clear, I don't mind that his focus is on his wife and marriage. What I mind is having my message un-returned for weeks and weeks. I mind that even when I did last see him, I spent more time with his fiancee than talking with him about the upcoming wedding. She, while friendly, is not my friend - he is. Or was.


What is it about men and women and friendships? Why do some people have such a difficult time with their partners being friends with the opposite sex? Is it because I grew up with an older brother that having men friends doesn't seem weird to me? Is it because TH has lots of women friends, that me having men friends doesn't seem strange? I was never a threat to this woman's relationship with my friend, or so it seemed from my perspective.


I wish them well. But I miss my friend.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Happy Easter!

or, Jesus was a good egg.

Happy Easter! So on Sunday, the Easter Bunny left lots of candy eggs for the little children to find....No? OK, so on Sunday, we celebrate Easter by gathering as a family and eating a big ham and lots of jelly beans...Still no? So, on Sunday, we do nothing. NO?! Well what does it mean then?

For me, Easter is a beautiful celebration of hope and renewal. Because I follow Jesus, Easter marks the remembrance of his resurrection. It is a key story in the Bible where women are featured as important witnesses to his unbelievable recovery. It is a reminder to me of the hope and new life that I find in my faith.

But what does this have to do with eggs?, I wondered, as I watched my nieces run around the yard, seeking out their bright treasure-filled plastic eggs. You can read some of the Easter egg history here. Interesting, yeah? Especially the history of the egg in multiple belief systems. Some symbols are too powerful for one story.

I think Jesus was a good egg (slang for a good person). He stood up to the powerful, and stood up for the weak in his society. He reminded people not to be so hasty to judge and condemn others (even awful people like women, the sick, the tax collectors, and Samaritans). He broke the rules of organized religion. He loved people. He wanted people to know him and to know God in new and radical ways. He taught that there are blessings to be found in our weakest situations. He led by serving.

I would like to be more like Jesus.

He is risen. Let there life, renewal, hope, and faith.

Happy Easter!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Spring in my Valley

Welcome, Spring. Welcome, brisk breezes that smell of pollen and green and wet earth. Welcome, birdsong. Welcome, sun on my face. Welcome, flowers and grass and leaves.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A moveable fast

Lent begins today, with Ash Wednesday. In previous years, I've considered carefully what to give up or release for Lent. Usually it has involved giving up shopping, books, doughnuts, or other things I dearly, dearly love. Sometimes it has meant adding extra Calculated Acts of Kindness or shedding yucky old habits. This year I am stumped. And unmotivated. And sluggish.

But I like this phrase, "a moveable fast." It speaks to the crossroads where I find myself this year. It accommodates a shifting of priorities. It allows for the change-up of my ideas about what it means to be faithful, to be in relationship with God, to be a Christ-follower. It makes room for me to be a person of depth and thoughtfulness, even when I don't feel deep or thoughtful. It reflects the sense that there is something unrooted and undecided. It allows me to adjust the fast, the sacrifice, to where I am now.


I've had the sense lately that simplicity is knocking on my door. I usually get an urge to clean-sort-discard in the springtime. But this feels different. It feels MORE. (Ha. More simplicity.) It's like I've got a different want/need button in my brain. A smaller one, that takes longer to activate. I dig it, though. It's a good thing. But I haven't figured out what I want to do with this new guest yet.


Sacrificing complexity and excess? Sounds about right for this year's moveable fast.

Are you in a season of sacrifice? What are you called to give up or make right?

Thursday, March 3, 2011


Tomorrow is my birthday, and today I celebrate:

  • Doughnuts and cupcakes and treats, oh my! My sweet tooth is happy. (And my dentist loves my teeth, so no nagging about cavities.)
  • A day off work tomorrow!
  • A brand new book for my day off work.

Tomorrow I celebrate:

But perhaps most importantly, every day, I celebrate my life. I like myself. I like this body, this mind, this heart, this soul. I'm proud of who I am and who I've been and who I'm becoming. I like this life that I live everyday, that touches others and struggles and triumphs. I like this circle of friends, this love of my life, this family. I like this work that inspires and frustrates and creates opportunities and opens doors. I like this leisure time, filled with music and cute shoes and friends and spirit-seeking and books and good food. I like life.

Happy Birthday to me!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Quiet moments of victory

Sometimes when I least expect it, life sneaks a laurel crown onto my head.

Lately my most deeply satisfying moments have been small and all-but-overlooked. Case in point: when I started my current job on a college campus in student disability services, I was fresh out of counseling grad school. I knew in my bones that my gifts included a way to make new connections, to form community, and to weave bonds between campus departments. I wanted to start seeing the campus consider disability as a matter of course, not as an afterthought. I wanted to empower other departments to think of disability as part of diversity, and as a result of their connections with me and my office. I wanted to make the most of my job and my education.

Almost 5 years later, I am seeing fruit. A colleague in a department with whom I've been cultivating connection stopped me in the hall today and let me know she advised a public relations rep to include a Deaf student and signing in a video representing campus diversity. She did not ask my advice, nor that of my department - the idea came to her on its own, and she spoke up at a key time. It was a deeply satisfying moment.

I wonder where I got the idea that success comes quickly, and is loud and shines golden, lighting up me and all those around me? It's such a myth, this fast and flashy Nike. More important is the slow and steady work of building: block by steady, dull, dusty block. And waiting. And staying committed.

And staying present for the quiet moments, when Nike actually shows up.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Always look on the bright side

Last night, Insomnia paid me a visit. Again. Call it the gift of shifting hormones and an overactive imagination. But instead of lying in bed frustrated that I couldn't sleep, I tried to see the gift in it. I listened to the rain beat down, to TH's steady breathing, to the cat purring. I tried to enjoy the sensation of snuggling in the warm bed, knowing outside was cold and dark and wet. It seemed to work.

How can you look on the bright side?

Monday, February 14, 2011

All you need is love

What do you believe about love?

I believe I have a responsibility to love in an active and social and global way. It is a call of my faith, and a deep truth that resonates within me. Love needs to be the foundation, the reason, the spring from which all my other activities flow. It's like this:
If I speak in the tongues of men and angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.
1 Corinthians 13:1-3

But love is not just an action and a motivation. It is a resting place. It's like this:
When in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf Heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featur'd like him, like him with friends possess'd,
Desiring this man's art and that man's scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least:
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Hap'ly I think on thee - and then my state
(Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth) sings hymns at heaven's gate;
For thy sweet love remember'd such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.
- William Shakespeare, Sonnet 29

And love has the power to change everything. It's like this:
Love makes your soul crawl out from its hiding place.
- Zora Neale Hurston

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.
- Martin Luther King, Jr.

It's Valentine's Day. What do you believe about love?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


When I considered resolutions and what to work on this year, one main goal came to mind: to minimize multitasking. I'm really not that good at doing multiple things at the same time. And the more multitasking I do, the more I notice my brain losing its edge. I find I can't settle down with a book for an afternoon. I can't eat a meal without hopping up to take care of something else. I can't watch TV without a magazine in my lap. I can't stay focused at work and lose track of what I am doing. I stop mid-chore to start another.

For me, this must change.

Research is reflecting that multitasking is not that great. Here is an excellent article. As you can see from my prior post, my thoughts are already an overlapping pile of data, and it's driving me nuts. So in the quest for a calmer brain, and a sharper brain, I'm working on solotasking. I'm working on what is in this moment. I'm trying to immerse myself in information, not surf it. I'm focusing on doing one task well, reading one book thoroughly, leaving the email unanswered for now.

Do you have any tips for breaking the multitasking habit?

Monday, February 7, 2011

Tour of my Brain

What goes on in my brain, on any given day and at any given time and in any given order:

  • I'm Hungry.
  • Stuck song. Typically my mind gnaws on at least one song a day, ad infinitum. Today's edition: "I Gotta Feeling/Boom Boom Pow" by the Black-eyed Peas. Courtesy of the Super Bowl Halftime Show.
  • Work thoughts. Followed by,
  • Thoughts on the next vacation. Not necessarily in a desperate, must-escape-my-life way (although some days are like that). More of a what adventure comes next? way. Usually a few different destinations float around until it's actually time to plan. Right now Honduras, cruising, and Kauai are at the top, with Kauai the #1 hope.
  • Did I lock the car/house; turn off the iron/toaster/humidifier/other appliance? Followed by, I must have, because I ALWAYS lock the car/house, etc.
  • I'm Hungry.
  • I want to know more about... Followed by whatever is the topic du jour. Today it was, English royal history, particularly the Tudors. This is thanks to reading The Other Boleyn Girl for my book club. Wikipedia and internet searches usually ensue. Followed by,
  • What was it like to be a woman/poor/educated/insert social justice issue here/etc. at that time and place? Followed by earnest thanksgiving for my current state, imperfect though it is.
  • Work thoughts. Need another worker for this time frame...
  • I wonder what TH is doing/thinking/feeling right now.
  • Thoughts about friends, their lives, their struggles and joys.
  • Thoughts about family, their lives, their struggles and joys.
  • How many hours/minutes till yoga/running/walking around campus?
  • Shoot. I forgot to (insert errand here).
  • "I Gotta FEELING..." Ack! Need a new song...
  • If I pay XXX dollars every month, how soon will I be able to pay off the credit card/save for vacation/save for a piano/ etc.? Followed by,
  • Do I want my XXX dollars to go to the credit card or do I want them to go to vacation/piano/etc.? Followed by,
  • Should I feel guilty because I want XXX dollars to go to one thing instead of the other? Followed by,
  • Does everyone secondguess themselves about this stuff or is it just me?
  • "BOOM BOOM POW" Ack! Curse you, Black-eyed Peas!
  • Hungry again!
  • Work thoughts. Do we really need to complain about the copier
  • Wonder what's new on facebook/Internet/blogosphere.
  • If I go to bed at 8:00, will I wake up at 4:00? Followed by,
  • Is it sad that I want to go to bed at 8:00?
  • Did I lock the door/turn off the lights/etc. Yes, because I ALWAYS lock the door/turn off the lights etc.
  • If I pair that top and those pants and these shoes, will it be cute or not?

It's exhausting, I tell you.

Friday, February 4, 2011

At the end of a long week

Week 2 of the semester is done and gone. January is a memory. I'm so tired my eyeballs ache. My colleagues and I are stumbling around the office making goofy mistakes; at home TH and I are trying not to put the cereal in the fridge and the milk in the cupboard. Seems like I'm constantly hungry and eating every carb in sight (although the crashes from this are contributing to the problem). TH and I can barely manage takeout and TV, most nights, and tumble into bed around 9:00.

Thank goodness this is temporary.

I hope.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Like riding a bike. Or getting back on the horse.

or, How I Started Running Again

I just did it.

Two of my coworkers mentioned on Monday that they planned to hit the track at lunch on Tuesdays and Thursdays. This turned out to be just the kick in the pants I needed to Start Running Again. It's been several months, due to the heat of summer (which lasts from late April to late October, usually). And I was skeptical that I would even have any energy or zest left for running. It just seemed like a big ordeal to Start Running Again.

But I turned to the trusty Couch-to-5K Plan, hauled tush out to the track, and Started Running Again. And it was easier than I expected. Thankfully. So now I can relax and run, and enjoy what I've always enjoyed about running - the outdoors, working out, feeling strong, and knowing I am doing something good for my body.

What have you started over with this year?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

It's a new day

And a new it's time for some reflection.

  • What do I want from this year? Am I on the right track? How can I take better care of myself and those I love?

  • As has become our habit, TH and I escaped for a couple of weeks of vacation. It was the best of was the worst of times. Fighting insomnia, head colds, and other vacation maladies, we did not always feel our best. Still, it was a reprieve from the everyday. It was an adventure and a chance to make each other laugh about our predicaments. These times are crucial for my sense of self and sense of well-being. As my days off wind to a close, I'm left again with the ongoing question: how do I bring the vacation into the everyday? How can I live my daily life in a sense of wonder?

Hope to see you along the way, this year.