Tuesday, January 31, 2012

oh canada

Realtors are visiting our home later this week. Actually a "stager" and a realtor are both coming. To put the house on the... yes, on the market. Which means... I will need to learn the lyrics to "Oh Canada" soon. And I'll need to start adding "eh" to the end of all of my sentences. Oh, and about only a million other naggers on my to-do list, including finding out wtf a "stager" is. I suspect I will need to brace myself for a few insults toward my decor: "Really, I'm not supposed to have my Bitch collection of glasses and posters in my China cabinet? You don't like all of the alcohol stickers on my boys' bunkbeds? Doesn't everybody have a pile of their kids' papers and dog hair on their kitchen table? Why is it necessary to have the linens and towels match? You are not seriously expecting me to CLEAN every day."

Instead, I'm finding myself here, writing. Writing to process the complexity of this upcoming life trans-mega-ition.

I'm a "lister," so I list things. Today, I list my fears:

1. That no one in Canada will like me.
2. That Canadians have a drastically different style, and I'll have to re-think my entire wardrobe. And hair.
3. That no one in my next neighborhood will have finished high school.
4. That my boys' school will be full of helicopter parents, or worse, no-copters at all.
5. That I'll forget to do something important here in Denver. Like say goodbye to someone I love dearly. Or pack my dog.
6. That people in Canada may think I'm strange for drinking during the week. Or letting my boys' hair run wild. Or... see above comments to the "stager."
7. That I will get to Canada and then I won't want to be there. And it will be too late.
8. That no one in Canada will know all of the important things I've accomplished. And it will be awkward to have to tell them. Wait. I haven't really accomplished that much. But still.
9. That Canadians will be crazy intimidated by my extreme attractiveness. And I'll have to repeat the mantra: "Don't hate me because I'm beautiful."
10. Mostly, that I'll start caring what other people think about me. I have convinced and fooled myself during the past few years into believing that I did not, in fact, care.

Cheers to convincing ourselves to be delusional, eh?

Sunday, January 22, 2012


Soft steps climbing toward
absence of words
smiles and kind glances
deep, warm kisses
sleepy hugs and gentle touches

Descending on me as if I wasn't
I never thought I had it all
I thought I lost it all
and here it is.

It is here
and it is climbing up the steps
making noise
but making no noise at all.

It is gentle and
it is kind
and it lifts the corners of lips
and it tilts the chin
toward the light.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Seek ye beauty

"To seek elegance rather than luxury" The 2nd line of William Ellery's poem.

I'm immediately reminded of the old SNL skit, "Do you like luxury?" with the great Will Ferrell:


So, if luxury equals expensive things (sumptuous, indulgent refinements), are elegant things in-expensive? Praytell. The definitions of "elegant" use words like "graceful, tasteful, refined, excellent, dignified." Sounds like luxury can be purchased, and elegance has to be earned. Or at least well-planned. High maintenance without looking like it. Sounds challenging. And quite impossible. Like my almost 40-year old south half looking remotely presentable in skinny jeans.

And I've lived long enough to know that we, humans, long to have elegance or luxury (clearly William hints that we all seek for something), which really must be beauty...but to seek an inner beauty rather than an outward one is what he's hinting at, I suspect. And people often confuse the two. Or at least way too many cliches exist about "inner beauty." Enough of them spouted by ugly people that it sounds like a weak excuse. Or at least an explanation. It smacks of bitterness.

I office in the Special Education hallway at my school. Whenever at my desk, I am within earshot of students who bark, drool, and fall madly on the floor. Most of them are quite obnoxious about it, and by "it" I just mean life. Existence. They live loud. Most of these students look distinctly unusual. Some of them smile. Some have listless expressions on their faces. Some moan loud "hellos" when I pass.

One recent day, a young woman from this population was pausing in the hallway in her wheelchair. Who knows why? I approached her from the opposite end of our long, shared corridor and a beam from the skylight poured directly down upon her face. She was, at that suspended moment, an angel. A beautiful creature. As if God took out his Highlighter and marked it right over her body; she was perfection. I was compelled to stare. And I've called her my "angel" ever since. Her beauty saved me that day. From something, I'm not sure what. Perhaps hopelessness, surely some kind of selfish despair.

We are all drawn to beauty, are we not? Beauty in nature, in models, in cars--those things with perfect symetry, with soft lines, matching or complimenting colors, --but "beauty is in the eye of the beholder" is it not? We like it, we appreciate it, we marvel at it, we stare at it, we worship it, but we all disagree over its merits. Its true qualities. But it does offer a hope of some sort. A meaning to madness. An answer to chaos and disarray. Finally, something makes sense.

Then there's the idea that beauty may be truth, thanks to an old friend John Keats, "'Beauty is truth, truth beauty,' --that is all ye know on earth and all ye need to know."

Thanks, John. We are so confused about beauty today though, I'm afraid not many of us know what is actually beautiful or what is truthful.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

not much of much, part three

I don't have a TV.
I haven't taken antibiotics in over ten years.
I don't do Faceboook.
I don't smoke. Anymore.
I don't have a dishwasher.
I don't have a nice car. Or a nice job.
I am not a supermodel. Not even close.
I am not a rockstar.
I have no special talents or abilities. I don't even make a great impression of a person that does.
I barely have an ego; and nothing that contributes to it. To make it so.

But I do have...

Three boys in my house that I love and who love me back. And give great hugs.
Two beautiful kids to walk home from school every day.
Healthy food and interesting friends and neighbors to enjoy it with.
A home that I look forward to coming home to.
Cell phone coverage and a never-ending flow of wine.
Heat and toothpaste and hot showers and nice paintings.
A husband who adores me and challenges me and pushes me and supports me.
A healthy bod, thank God, and a park to run in.
Warm covers and a great Church that I hate to miss. And know I will miss.

I, actually, have much, William. I'm happy to report.
I have much.
In fact, I am, at moments, very content with that. I think that's a start.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Living content with not much of much of anything, part 2

Had to take down the Christmas decorations today. I thought I felt a bit of Willie's "content" -edness when I laughed, once again, at the hilarity of our decorations... (oh yes, and you can laugh at my kitchen as well. Laughter is precisely why I have it so retro).
Exhibit #1: The boys love these obnoxious snowflakes, this one hangs from the light at our kitchen table.
Exhibit #2: The boys and I made snowflakes. And. Of course! We had to tape them on the front window.
Exhibit #3: The Nativity Scene meets Toilet Paper Rolls (and a little flannel). I'm absolutely crazy about this little set. I don't believe that you can purchase it anywhere. Not even Nordstrom. Baby Jesus went missing a few weeks ago, but we found him behind the couch in the basement (with some additional accroutrements) Someone (Thys) needed a little alone time with Jesus, apparently. "Myles" the angel stood gaurd. No worries.
Exhibit #4: I know. I know. You're wondering where you can purchase such a beauty. You can't. It's not even available online.
But. I love it. And it made me smile for a month. Every time I went to the front door. Which really isn't often. Only to put out and check the mail and scare away the occasional knocker.
Goodbye Christmas decorations, Christmastime in Denver, and cookies. Who knows where we'll unpack you next year.

Friday, January 6, 2012

To live content with small means, part 1

"To live content with small means."

Okay, William Ellery (what kind of middle name is that for a dude?) Channing. Game on.

What could you possible mean by this line?

Contentedness is a toughie. Are you talking about being happy with practically nothing? This is weird for me. Because. Well. To be honest: I really want a nice, big house like my cousin Jackie's. And I want lots of nice stuff. Like Egyptian sheets, and nice China, and leather furniture, and a personal masseuse. Or at least a big car with butt warmers.

But I don't even have a dishwasher. And I'm not trying to whine here. But. I am saying I'm not exactly "content" with "small means."

And by the way, what does "means" mean? I suspect it means value or worth or ability. Which are all related in a way. They all certainly imply... not much: Not much money, not much accessibility, not much of much at all.

And who craves for that? Not I!

Though perhaps I should. Maybe having not much of much at all would help my life have focus on the much that gets hidden behind the not much of much at all. Or. Rather. Maybe I have a tendency to become a bit focused on stuff that doesn't matter rather than stuff that does. Or. Okay! I'll get specific! Maybe my leather furniture that I long for isn't nearly as important as minutes with my five-year old. Even though I suspect that nice furniture and a big house would impress would-be friends more. But. What kind of friends are those? Those who would like me for my furniture rather than a well-adjusted five-year old? Ah. There's the rub. Those are not friends at all. Indeed.

Okay, "Will." Well, I'm not quite ready for that yet. I see where you're going with this. To live content with small means: To live not wanting more with not much of much at all. I suppose that this may be a place that is beckoning me: to rest, to surrender, to realize... that "much" or "big means" does not necessarily lead to "content"-edness. I see your point. I DO know plenty of crabby rich people. And I would like to be content. Though, to be honest. I'd rather learn how to be content with much. Yet I understand that that is not my cross to bear.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

My New Year's Resolution...

...was going to be an extension of last year's "buy nothing new" year, like only buying from stores that sell fair-trade goods, or stores that don't support human trafficking... but I think that may require too much research; more than I'm capable of undertaking at this moment. I would like to continue to learn about these issues and contribute slowly, but I'm not sure I can make a full commitment.

Rather, this year, I want to focus once again on my mantra, or "My Symphony":

To live content with small means,
To seek elegance rather than luxury,
and refinement rather than fashion
To be worthy not respectable,
and wealthy not rich
To study hard, think quietly, talk gently
act frankly, to listen to stars, birds, babes
and sages with open heart, to bear all cheerfully,
do all bravely, await occasions, never hurry.
In a word, to let the spiritual,
unbidden and unconscious,
grow up through the common.
This is to be my symphony.

By William Ellery Channing, written in 1890

I think I will take this poem a line or two at a time this year.
My goal--to live it more fully instead of just admiring it as a noble goal.