Everyday Wonder

I can’t stop seeing stardust on our skin …

“People travel to wonder at the height of the mountains,
at the huge waves of the sea,
at the long course of the rivers,
at the vast compass of the ocean,
at the circular motion of the stars …
and yet they pass by themselves without wondering.”

— St. Augustine

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I’ve got a thing for ordinary beauty … Maybe you’ve noticed.

You can keep your Cliffs of Dover, your Gobi Desert, your Grand Canyon. There’s beauty there — I know it — but if I’m going to stand in awe of something, I want it to be something I’ve discovered, quietly, out of the claptrap of my everyday life.

Give me — I mean this — the blue feather flashing on the sidewalk.

The broken glass caught in the chainlink, winking in the light.

Give me rainbow swirls in parking-lot oil-puddles … A tangle of fallen trees in the forest … A wreckage of sun and clear air slamming through the rapids,  shattering and spraying and then drifting off into noplace …

That’s the kind of beauty want.

*

But.

*

Give me my own beauty too — and yours.

Give me flesh and bone, the bass drum of the heartbeat in the jugular. Give me spring air on bare skin, clear water cupped in my palms.

The miracle of your slow smile.

The ordinary wonder of our two shoulders, touching…

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Oh, friend … today, let’s not forget to wonder at that. ❤

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best of alpha // whiskey // foxtrot

2015, in Five Favorite Posts: a Year in Review

Moment of honesty?  For me, 2015 was a disorienting 365 days — full of deep heartache and astounding joy…

I lost.

I lost a lot.

I lost relationships and social circles and beliefs I thought I was destined to keep, and yet somehow, I gained a hundred times that in new friends, new opportunities, rich community, and more goodness and grace than I could have imagined, twelve months ago.

{And maybe I’ll tell you about it someday, but for now … this is enough.}

In the end, all I can say is this:  2015 was sometimes kinda terrifying … and also, it was breathtakingly beautiful.  And I think the tension between the hard and the beautiful shows in my writing.

I’ve spent this first week of 2016 in quiet reflection, and it seemed right to me to distill all my 2015 journal entries into a brief “Best Of” list.  If I had salvage just five little scribblings from the previous year, these are the ones I’d choose:

1.  The Day the Light Overtakes Me

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Last October, WordPress surprised me by selecting this personal essay for its Freshly Pressed lineup.  No one ever told me that this (very personal) post would be hitting the big-time; all I knew was that, one afternoon, my stats spiked like never before, and a quiet little blog that had previously seen a few thousand readers per year was now attracting about a gazillion readers per day.

(Clearly, gazillion is an exact number.) 

All kidding aside:  the unexpected attention completely freaked me out.  I felt exposed and vulnerable in ways I hadn’t before … but in the end, it was good for me.

I’m enjoying a return to normalcy these days, but the five minutes of fame (sort-of) was a solid exercise in self-confidence and stamina in the spotlight, and I’m grateful.

2.  Oh, God, give me the words

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I’m still a little startled by how deeply people connected with this little poem, which I composed in about ten minutes of tinkering in front of the screen.  I received some truly touching e-mails from readers after posting it, and it’s my pleasure to share it again.

3.  On Shadow & Light, Sunshine & Silhouettes… & Seeing My Own Magic

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Sometimes, it’s the little moments…  This post is small, but it’s important.

4.  Sleepless, Under Shooting Stars

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I circle back to this diary entry once in awhile, if only to let its magic rub off on me all over again.  Here’s to sparkle, spirit, and everyday wonder… Raise a glass of stardust with me, friends.

5.  When Eating a Peach is an Act of Transcendence 

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I won’t say another word.  Just read.

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And last but not least: If you’re a woman and you’ve ever struggled with insecurity and negative self-image, please, please, please, check out my photography series Same Body, Second Glance:  A Body-Image Project.  The forty days I spent compiling these images changed my life, in deep and profound ways… And then, when I shared them on my blog last spring, they changed my life all over again.

Who knows?  Maybe they’ll change you, too.

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Thank you — sincerely — to all the sweet loyal readers who helped make my 2015 so beautiful in the midst of the hardship. I’m believing we all have some very special days ahead. ❤    

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The Body Electric

The Body Electric: Day Twenty-Nine

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We run in the dark:

Just me and T, our feet slapping the wet pavement.

We run through quiet streets still aglow with holiday lights.  Bright orbs as big as pumpkins bob from the trees — a neighborhood tradition — and as they sway gently in the six-o’clock dark, their reflections shimmer in the puddles.

And my body hurts, but suddenly it occurs to me that I feel completely and totally alive.

*

It seems fitting, to be writing about running today.  When I first began this little series, some twenty-nine days ago, I was writing about running, then, too.  And now, the circle is beginning to close.

And I’m tired.

As I round the last bend toward the hill I call home, I’m tired.

I’m tired of December and its rush of parties and events and food and drink.

I’m tired of writing.

And running.

And a lot of other things too big to put into such a small post.

But this is the kind of exhaustion that feels good, somehow, if only because it proves, in its way, that I’m living.

And I don’t question the feeling.

*

I slow to a walk as I make my way up the hill to my house.  In the waterglimmer, the little bicycle-spoke lights I’ve laced into my running shoes glow in the dark:

Left foot blue.

Right foot red.

Blue.

Red.

Blue.

Red.

My footsteps are slow now.  My hair is a mess, my breaths ragged, but that’s okay.  I accept the messiness as something beautiful in and of itself.  

I accept the tiredness as something beautiful, in and of itself.

I accept my aging body as something beautiful, in and of itself.

I accept … myself.

*

I go home and I take a hot shower.

In my little writing room, I sit down and write a messy blog post, and I accept that messiness, too.

I unlace the bicycle-spoke lights from my sneakers and switch them on in my palm.

Their glow is so small, but still:  I’m switching on lights in the dark…

And for today, that’s enough. ❤

 

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The Body Electric

The Body Electric: Day Twenty-Eight

 

You might have noticed something important missing from this post.

Go ahead:  look again…  

Not a single photograph in sight.

And there’s a reason for that, because yesterday, I switched off my eyes for a little while, and I just listened.

I curled up in a chair in my living room, and I watched as a friend’s hands tore up and down the black-and-white staircase of his keyboard, which he’d rigged up on the coffee table in front of him.

Last week, he’d asked if I might be interested in laying a few lyrics on top of some of his original compositions, and I said yes.  Yes, of course I might be interested.  (Was he kidding??).

And so, twenty-four-hours ago, I sat spellbound as music filled the house.

Notes raced up the staircase.

Ran riot through the second story.

And I’ll confess:  even with all that magic unfolding right in front of me, at first it was difficult not to watch…  Not to notice the way the light spilled across the keys.  The way the shadows hunched close behind him, as if they, too, were listening.

But after awhile, I closed my eyes.

I let the music erase all the shadow and light, the saturated black-and-white.

Let the notes open up one color after the next:

Like a garden,
opening petals

one
by
one

to a sun
you cannot see…

which shines just the same. 

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The Body Electric

The Body Electric: Day Twenty-Seven

Tonight:

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I’m home — safe and warm, after all my travels.  Rain patters softly on the roof.

I think back to the time I spent with family over the past few days, and to the way I gave my body permission to enjoy this holiday fully and completely:

I stood over a wide Wolf range, stirring and breathing in steam.

I sat at a long polished table with eight of my little tribe, and I ate.

I walked down from the house to the river.  Ambled along the water’s edge on Christmas morning, when a fog lay over the world like a white blanket –the opposite shore swallowed completely by cloud.

I curled up on the sofa with my three-year-old nephew, J.  Let him tuck his head under my chin.

I held my newest nephew, N, for the very first time.  Felt him go heavy and slack in my arms, his head lolling back to my shoulder in sleep.

And at church, on Christmas Eve, I stood in the crowd and sang Silent Night with one hand cupped around the golden glow of a little candle.  I took in the scatter of light across stained glass — the thousand voices melding — for the briefest moment — into one…

And I was grateful.

Not just for my spirit — the part of me for which the holiday was made — but for my body, which gives me a dozen other ways to experience the magic of it:  

In flesh and in bone.  

In star-dazzled eyes.  

Ears open to song.  

Lungs breathing in the scent of winter greenery.  

Hands laced into other hands.

Warmth on my skin, and in my heart.

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And this — all of this — is good. ❤

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The Body Electric

The Body Electric: Day Twenty-Two {A Christmas Eclipse}

Confession?

When I first began my little thirty-day series, my hope was to post every day for 30 days about the joy of living fully in the body.

Turns out, though, that I’ll be spending the next four or five days celebrating in T’s family home on Potomac Creek, where the internet connection is spotty at best.  And that means you won’t be hearing from me for a little while.

But my project will still be continuing in the dark, so to speak, the way the sun still shines behind the moon.  And we call that an eclipse:  a brief little time when we stand in the black and marvel at that brilliant ring of light, while we wait for the sun to appear again.

(Sometimes I’m such a sap … But I think you know what I mean.)

In the meantime?  Please know that, however you’re celebrating this week (or not celebrating) … my heart is with you.

I wish you peace in the midst of the busyness.

I wish you patience in the midst of the drama.

I wish you rest if you’re tired.

I wish you comfort if you’re struggling under a load of holiday loss.

If you need a hug, I hope you ask for one.

If you see someone looking lonely, I hope you reach out.

Most of all:  I hope you go looking for a little light in the dark. 

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See you on the other side. ❤

 

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