It’s little more than a breeze
a moment on the skin
It’s only a minute
before the flutter sets in

It’s something you know
a simple look, a glance
Where you finally feel
you can take a chance

It feels so simple
in the moment you feel
like all that you wanted
becomes less than surreal

It’s one simple word
a meaningful nod
where eyes burn like fire
to melt the facades

There’s little about it
that’s less than cliche
but it never seems to matter
because it takes us away.


The Ghosts of Christmas Past

I go to, what I would refer to as, a very non-traditional church. We don't have a lot of standing traditions, but one of my favorites is our end-of-the year prayer cards. We fill out 3x5 cards (usually on the last Sunday of the year) with our prayers and hopes for the coming year. They are collected, stored away, and then sent back to us in December of that coming year for reflection.

The last couple years ... I've been broken and empty. A lot of things had stolen away my hope and I had nothing left. So, these cards became more and more difficult to fill out. When I got my card back this December, it said, "Read, 'A Note to my Future Self" from December 2009." And I remembered the journal entry I'd typed late one night last December. It took me two days to locate it as I didn't remember where I stored it, but I finally found it.

I want to share it here (at least in part), because I've reclaimed love and hope this year, and I'm ready to let that grow. Thanks to all of those who've started or shared in the healing process. I love you far more than you will ever know.

December 2009
Dear "Future" Self~
I'm doing something a little different this year.  I'm not making a list of things I want or hope to see happen in the 2010. 
For my card in 2009, I made a list of relationships that I wanted to see restored. I know what I was thinking last year at this time: That I'd strained so many relationships in 2008 and I was looking for 2009 to be a year of reconciliation and healing of those relationships.
Funny thing, 2009 was more a year of Reconstruction, but not Reconciliation.  And before the reconstruction, apparently, I needed to tear apart all that I knew before to make way for the new. I've been through a year of hell as far as relationships go, and I'm still dealing with the fall~out from that. I read the card for 2009 with a heart that's broken and bleeding.  Of those listed relationships, all but one or two (as well as many others) have been strained ~ some to the point of breaking ~ possibly beyond repair. This card is nothing more than a mere reminder of all I've lost over the past year.
I won't do it for 2010.  Not like that at least. I won't ask for anything specific, except to have some healing of my heart this year and to know love more deeply and more fully.  Even that feels a bit like tempting fate, though, and I had to hesitate to write it. I'm beaten by 2009. I'm bruised. I'm lonely. I'm tired. I'm confused. I'm hurt. I'm frustrated. I'm angry. But in all of it, I am loved.  I know this because, with all the pain this year, came love.  Lest I forget it, THAT is the reminder I want to have this time next year.
So to myself at the close of 2010: know you are loved, even by people who can't say it because of time, space, or just an inability to speak the things they feel.  You are loved. You are beautiful. You are better now than you were then, even if you don't feel it.
Always in Love,


After the Hour

in the longest night
fear finally breaks

opens cautiously to light

shedding the earth
and the shadow that falls
from past indiscretions
that lie

in stillness it wakes
brightened slowly in grace

swallowing darkness

it waits

as the world's interference
slips softly away
and the focus of hope
is revealed


Solstice Blessings on this darkest of nights. 
May nothing overshadow your love or your laughter! 



The Skunk in the Manger

I just returned from our first family Christmas dinner without Gramma, which went surprisingly well. With all due respect to Gramma, it was one of the most relaxed dinners we've had in a long time. Perhaps because no one felt the need to be on best behavior for Gramma's sake and we were all our true selves? I don't know why exactly.

Maybe because we all realize that life and family are precious, made even more so in the past year due to the loss of the one person we all had in common and loved dearly. We used to come to Christmas at Gramma's for her benefit. But this past year, as we all stood around the casket, mourning the loss of one of the most beautiful, feisty, and incredible women I've ever known, the question that I heard over and over from my cousins was "Will we still see you at Christmas?" Funny the things we struggle to hold on to in times of loss.

And we enjoyed being together today. We spent part of the afternoon reminiscing, sorting through old photos, recapturing moments from our childhood when life was simpler and there were no "family politics" ~ at least none that mattered to us. We took the photos that meant the most to each of us and thanked God for the invention of scanners for the ones we might have fought over.

No one asked today where the pizza was ~ a long-standing family joke when we would stare at each other over the usual spread of two meats, various vegetable dishes (including Gramma's broccoli salad), and miscellaneous condiments, pickles, olives, rolls, and butter mints. Instead, we had barbecue sandwiches and some of the "usual fare" but we didn't sit in our unassigned usual seats at the table or eat off of actual plates. And somehow we all mingled, rather than separating into the usual two groups of the "Christians" and the "Pagans."

One tradition I did miss today, however, was the skunk in the manger. It all started "innocently" enough when one or both of my twin uncles (the youngest of the siblings and the self-proclaimed trouble-makers), decided to add Gramma's ceramic skunk into her nativity set ~ always somewhere new. And one year the skunk replaced Jesus in the manger. It was intended to annoy Gramma and was, at least in part, rather purposely sacrilegious of course, and always upset Gramma. And then one year, the skunk disappeared entirely.

Who knows where that skunk is now? Such a little trouble-maker, it symbolized so much. It symbolized the fact that we all come to Christmas, and to God from very different angles. Some of us come as the shepherds, the wise men, the angels, the holy family, or even the animals. But we all belong there - together - and even the skunk is welcome, one of the most odious of creatures to many people. Welcome at the manger.

And as much as I don't condone the skunk replacing God in the manger, I would love to someday find a little skunk to add to my own nativity set. A simple reminder of, not only Gramma and the part that those memories play in who I am today, but also of God's love and grace.


Thank God for this New Laughter...

I was born to laugh
I learned to laugh through my tears
I was born to love
I'm gonna learn to love without fear
~"Born" (Over the Rhine)

I'm laughing today. Not just at the moon. Not just at the night. Not just in some feeble attempt to convince myself that I'm happy. Today, I am truly laughing.

It's just... Something as small as laughter. Something as important as laughter. Something that I haven't fully experienced for a while. Something I'm afraid to allow myself to experience most of the time, because of what it usually means for me.

See, laughter often signifies a manic episode. I become hyper-active, bounce off the walls, fail to sleep (and sometimes eat), and laugh hysterically over stupid things; I'm invincible and uninhibited and I am literally unstoppable. And I'm often not aware of it. Oh, I know how I feel and I know how I'm acting, but it doesn't register.

It registers more clearly when I hit the intense irritability and anger, the almost paranoia over the feeling of spinning completely and wildly out of control, the panic attacks that make it impossible to breathe with stabbing knives in my heart, and the inability to stop laughing, even when it's wildly inappropriate to laugh.

During my last manic episode, I made a comment on Twitter about how the upside to a manic insomnia was the ability to go all night without sleeping and still feel charged and ready to go the next day. A friend replied with something to the effect of, "I think all moms should be manic."

No, Sweetheart, you really don't want that. Manic episodes are terrifying, and not just for me, but for everyone around me. Sure, I'm far more productive during those periods, but I'm also entirely unpredictable and irrational, and no child should ever have to deal with a mother like that. Happily, my mania is mild, my kids are in good hands, and I have the help I need to make sure we're all taken care of when necessary.

Still, because of this, laughter has become a bit of a warning signal for me. A symptom of something else that has incredibly ominous potential. And so, it's been a long time since I have been able to enjoy laughter this much.

But I do. Today, I do. This is a new laughter, a healing laughter. This is a laughter that overflows from hope and love.

Because I have found reasons for laughter. Reasons to believe that the pain of the past couple years might actually be closing and a new chapter in my life might actually be opening.

And this chapter might actually be full of real, honest, and non-mania-induced laughter.


Bonus: Guest Holiday Poem

My little poet has been at it again. I thought about saving his work for next Wednesday's poetry, but it's about Chanukah, so it'd be sorta pointless by then. (It's already a bit late, but that's my fault for procrastinating on posting and not his.)

My 7yo had a school assignment to write a haiku. We had spent the weekend with friends celebrating Chanukah, so he had the holiday on his mind. Late though it is, here is his offering:

Chanukah Joy

playing dreidel's fun
having latkes is fun too
I love Chanukah!

No matter what holiday you celebrate this month, we hope it's a happy time filled with love.


Finding You

Each petal opens
awakes to the sun
as the new drops fall
making them glow
marking beauty within
blossoming to the world
as this flower unfolds
excruciatingly slow
some things can't be rushed
and pulling them apart
will just leave them crushed