Thursday, June 25, 2020

Rain Washed Air



Don’t you just love the smell of rain?



Rain when it’s being held in the air – that pungent whiff of earth and sky mingled.

Rain after it has drenched the ground and started laughing rivulets in drain pipes, streams and driveways.

Rain as it pulls itself upward, trailing the skies to the next cloudburst party.

Rain in all its delirious, delightful forms: sprinkles, dribbles, droplets, exclamation points, sloppy blobs of hydration on our faces, our skin, our grateful noggins.

Rain.


After a pretty nice stretch of sunny days, we got some rain this week.

I did a Google search on the smell of rain, and it turns out the scent that fills the air before a rainfall is called “petrichor”.

This distinct smell, petrichor, is described as earthy, musky and fresh, and tends to be stronger after a lengthy period of no rainfall.

The storm’s downdrafts carry the smell from high altitudes to nose level. 

Isn’t that great! 

Rain-washed air is delivered from the heights, 

           down
                  down
                         down 

to your nose – a fresh and fragrant party for your olfactory nerves.



“Life is full of beauty. Notice it. Notice the bumble bee, the small child, and the smiling faces. Smell the rain, and feel the wind. Live your life to the fullest potential, and fight for your dreams.”
(Ashley Smith)


This blog supports www.booksforbondinghearts.com/shop, timely gifts for all seasons. Please visit the link to see my seasonal books, the "Breath of Joy! series. Breath of Joy! Simply Summer is a favorite lounge & browse this time of year.

(Image - Umbrella by Unsplash Photographer Aline de Nadai)
(Image - Child Splashes in Puddle by Unsplash Photographer Jordan Whiff)






Tuesday, May 19, 2020

House Plants & People

Do you ever feel like a neglected house plant?

I do.

I do, right now. Having worked for two months from home now, I'm in a surreal void, enduring a lack of light and attention, pushed to a smaller world with no human touch, no texture of voices, no ribbons of laughter festooning the hallways.

Many are saying they enjoy working from home, but being a social butterfly, I like to share a space with my co workers, grabbing a coffee at break time, taking the stairs, replenishing my motivation in the physical surroundings of a workplace.

But, like a sad little house plant, my leaves are yellowing; I'm feeling a bit droopy around the edges, and terribly parched.

There's this Dracaena (pronounced "Driss-seen-nuh") plant quietly occupying a table in my spare room. Even during this shelter-at-home season, in a state of being hyper alert about everything, I'd forgotten it.

The poor thing was so brittle, so needy - like us.

I wondered if it could be restored.

Setting to work, I couldn't help thinking we all need a bit of re-potting, some fresh water … lots of TLC.

Like a house plant, we need some tending-to these days.

Especially these days.

Our root system is aching for community.

Our leaves are yellow - we need a careful touch to pull them away.

Our soil is dry - we need an organic compost of compassion.

Nutrients should be mixed in. Things like good humor, a phone call, a letter, a song.

It might be nice to have an aeration to help our roots grow deep; to enable a stronger, more vigorous life.

Leaves that no longer serve us should be thoughtfully pruned. Cut away dry petals of anger, bitterness, resentment and unforgiveness.

Like the little struggling plant, we need recovery time. When we have lacked the light and regularity of "normal days", it will take time and patience to reach upward and to trust once more.

Take care of your plants, yes.

Take care of yourself, too: hunker down in a larger pot, giving yourself extra space to expand and thrive.

Break up the old soil; infuse it with good nutrients.

Take away all that is no longer serving you.

Add water.

Drink, absorb life, and drink some more.

Place yourself in the environment you need, one with plenty of light and love.

I'm pleased to tell you my house plant is coming along nicely, showing some gumption, reaching toward the light. I've named her "Endurance" because she is making a comeback after a drought of neglect.

There's always hope.

This blog supports www.booksforbondinghearts.com/shop, timely gifts for all seasons. Please visit the link to see my seasonal books, the "Breath of Joy! series. Breath of Joy! Singing Spring is a favorite this time of year.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

A Hope Deferred - Hanging On and Letting Go

This week I'm supposed to be in Colorado.

But I'm not.
Because of COVID-19.

My daughter's wedding plans got reconfigured to a different venue with fewer guests.
Because of COVID-19.

Your plans, too, have been sidetracked, cancelled, postponed and redefined.
Because of COVID-19.

Graduates are capped and gowned and smiling from their front yards instead of walking with their class.

Birthdays are celebrated with car parades, honking horns and waving well-wishers from a safe distance.

Food is delivered curbside or picked up or sought out like a scavenger hunt as supplies dwindle and then replenish.

Zoom knows no demographics -- families now gather on the screen, a 2020 version of the Brady Bunch.

All because of COVID-19.

A good chunk of our time is spent consulting our calendars: rescheduling, cancelling, speculating … hoping.

Hoping

A long time ago I read a little book titled, "A Hope Deferred", which is no longer in print. It's a bittersweet story about a young bride who discovers she cannot bear children; the world as she dreamed it is forever altered. Reluctantly, she learns to make peace with that reality.

If the virus has taught us anything, it is how to grapple with deferred hopes -- suspended plans, stolen benchmarks, cancelled flights.

It's not that we aren't adaptable, it's just that we're weary of all the adapting.

It's not that we aren't willing to stay safe for the sake of others' health -- it's just that we've been connecting via high tech when we'd rather fall into a warm substantial hug.

We're not necessarily afraid of the endless news stream; we're simply tapped out.

Some of us are surprised we can be so exhausted after a full day of couch time - it's the laptop that's sucking out every fiber of energy.

We are spent.


A hope deferred is also an invitation - an offer to sit tight and wait for the light of day. It always shows up, spilling onto our weary bodies and gently asking us to get out of bed and move toward possibility.

And, somehow, we do.

We show up, help out, begin the next task, fix the meal, feel the disappointment and hang onto hope.

Hope

It may be muted just now, but it's always here.

When this is over, Hope will spread its wings and carry us into new possibilities.

"Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life." Proverbs 13:12

This blog supports www.booksforbondinghearts.com/shop, timely gifts for all seasons. Please visit the link to see my seasonal books, the "Breath of Joy! series. Breath of Joy! Singing Spring is a favorite this time of year.



Thursday, May 7, 2020

Beautiful Feet

"How beautiful are the feet of the messenger who brings good news!" Romans 10:15

One thing we’re not using much of these days, is shoes. I don’t know about you, but I’m mostly going barefoot around the house. 

Shoe wear is optional while we remain sequestered in our homes.

A comfy pair of sneakers stays parked at the door for the walk to the mailbox, or a walk around the block; other than that, my work shoes are lying dormant in the hall closet.

There's an artist in Fort Myers, Florida, who is busy painting sandals with messages of love and hope, decorating them with jewelry and then stringing them onto a line. Her name is Annette Brown, and her message is simple: "I think everybody needs to reach inside themselves and create something because we are all artists in whatever form."

Annette's neighbors are stepping up, decorating sneakers and pumps and sandals, creating visual reminders of creativity and survival. 

It has become an outdoor gallery of curated shoe art. People are out walking, and they are looking up.



Life-giving messages are written, painted and glued onto the shoes to spread cheer for all passers by.

Shoes are a pretty accurate reflection of our personalities – much like your own hand written signature, they are a unique identifier.

On a walk recently I came across an old, worn out pair of men’s work boots on a neighbor’s front porch. The leather was cracked, their soles were split and their laces tattered.

Even so, they looked amazing. 

Because inside of them, some creative person had planted a bright bunch of impatiens.

The flowers nodded in the breeze as if to say, “Look! We can re-purpose anything, even this old pair of shoes!”

New life inside of worn out containers.

No longer serviceable for feet, yet perfectly whimsical to hold a cluster of perennials.

We’re kind of like that: our bodies feel worn out at times, like a pair of old shoes.

Tired, achy, holding the shape of a hug from six feet away.

If we think of our weary souls as conduits for beauty, then maybe we can feel a new infusion of love, peace, kindness and growth. With good soil, water, sunshine and God's provision, a worn out soul can be rejuvenated.

We, like that shabby pair of work shoes, are quietly being re-purposed for the future.

Things are being planted in us that will declare our resilience and delight others when we are all back together.


Wiggle your toes and step into that.

"Good Shoes Take You To Good Places"
Seo Min Hyun

Jodi Jensen, watercolor artist
This blog supports www.booksforbondinghearts.com/shop, timely gifts for all seasons. Please visit the link to see my seasonal books, the "Breath of Joy! series. Breath of Joy! Singing Spring is a favorite this time of year.

Monday, May 4, 2020

Bread for Tomorrow


Some foodies are posting on social media about a renewed interest in baking bread. In our unique time of sequestering, bread machines are coming back into service, rolling pins are getting a workout and children are learning there are delicious, crusty pre-cursors to packaged bread.

Just think of the simple goodness of a slice of fresh bread with a slather of real butter. For many of us, it’s a journey back to the farm, to Grandma’s kitchen, to a sacred place in time when a slice of homemade bread was a synonym for home; for security; for safety and well being.

There is a slim little paperback titled “Sleeping with Bread”; a book that has sustained and quieted me in good times and in times of uncertainty.

A collaborative work by Dennis Linn, Sheila Fabricant Linn and Matthew Linn, this dog-eared collection offers tasty morsels of wisdom I return to again and again.
The opening page explains what it literally meant, once, to sleep with bread – sometimes, an entire loaf of bread.


During the bombing raids of World War II, thousands of children were orphaned and left to starve. The fortunate ones were rescued and placed in refugee camps where they received food and good care.

But many of these children who had lost so much could not sleep at night. They feared waking up to find themselves once again homeless and without food.
Nothing seemed to reassure them.

Finally, someone hit upon the idea of giving each child a piece of bread to hold at bedtime.

Holding their bread, these children could finally sleep in peace. The bread reminded them, “Today I ate and I will eat again tomorrow.”

What a powerful word picture. A child, cared for but alone in the world, clutching a crust of bread to get through the night.

As we are hopefully nearing an end to our isolation, the symbolic idea of sleeping with bread, seems particularly fitting.

“Today I ate and I will eat again tomorrow.”

There was uncertainty in the day, perhaps pockets of emotional scarcity.

Even so, today took care of itself – tomorrow will be enough, too.

“Enough” becomes a warm-from-the-oven slice, buttered generously with the good stuff.

And yes, it’s plenty.


This blog supports www.booksforbondinghearts.com/shop, timely gifts for all seasons. Please visit the link to see my seasonal books, the "Breath of Joy! series. Breath of Joy! Singing Spring is a favorite this time of year.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

You Don't Have to Make Lemonade



When we were not looking, the whole world slipped on a new mantle, cloaking our once-familiar days with an alternate reality.  For those fortunate enough to still be employed, weeks have merged into a blur of working while social distancing.

We’ve endured a continuous loop of zoom, swipe and disinfectant; news updates, no hugging, uncertainty; nights merging into days into twilights into nights again.

Unsplash Photographer Jon Tyson

How are we doing, really? And how is our sanity measured -- by how we stay connected, how much Vitamin D we’re getting, how many projects we’re finally getting to?

Maybe we should pump the brakes. 

Not every expanse of time needs to be optimized. 
Not every waking moment needs to be a gorge-fest of accomplishments.

There’s no need to make lemonade out of this.

Unsplash Photographer Heather Gill

Dial it back.

Give yourself a free pass.

Relax.

Anchor yourself.

Sure: pursue the industry of the day, but when it’s time to log off, try not to swim extra laps.
See if you can sit quietly instead. The extra projects can wait; you need a Sacred Pause.

Unsplash Photographer John-Mark Smith

When you do move, move strategically. Plan for breaks. Walks. Breathing. Eating. If you’re particularly blessed, lean into the laughter of loved ones who share your sequestered space.

Unsplash photographer Mi Pham

Find a patch of sunlight and sit inside its nurturing warmth.

When there is desolation, allow yourself to sit in that shadow, too. Experience the heaviness.

There’s no need to squeeze something out of this weirdness and make an elixir of happiness.

You can sit with the discord, the mess, the complete lack of normalcy that currently defines our days.

It must be alright to experience your own emotions because they give you empathy for others, insight into heartbreak and hope for a better day.

On the other side of this, we’ll be plunking down a quarter for a Styrofoam cup of watery lemonade at the corner of Time-Served and Emancipation.

And it will taste so good.



This blog supports www.booksforbondinghearts.com/shop, timely gifts for all seasons. Please visit the link to see my seasonal books, the "Breath of Joy! series.




Monday, April 6, 2020

If Kids Carried Business Cards


What if kids carried business cards? I mean, can't you just see it? 


Cards speckled with smudges of fingerprints, bits of Play-Doh and yesterday's lunch. 

Cards that announce the child's field of expertise:

Sand Castle Architect

Giggle Coach

Butterfly Whisperer

Snuggle Consultant

Snot Excavator

Guru in the Science of WHY

DRAMA QUEEN

Play-Doh Therapist

Ice Cream Curator

Band-Aid Enthusiast

Cookie Negotiator

Truth Stretcher

Mud Pie Maker

Tooth Fairy Supply Agent

In their circles of influence these tiny entrepreneurs would pass out crayons and juice, wildly cheer for the one who swings the highest and give honest opinions about what's on the menu.

Pie charts would be drawn in the sand. After that, mud pies would be made.

Organization would be tossed to the wind in favor of creative free play.

Superheroes would be the peers who take the garbage out, feed the dog and remember to flush.

Kids really do have a handle on the essentials. 

We should let them lead a workshop -- it might be titled, "Basic Life Skills".

Sign me up, I'm dusting off my pogo stick for the commute.

Has anybody seen my Krazy Straw?

Photo Credit by Unsplash Photographer Kristin Brown

This blog supports my collaborative tribe, booksforbondinghearts.com
I hope you'll visit the site to purchase my book, "Breath of Joy! Singing Spring"