when spring takes too long to come

i’m cramming the nooks and crannies of heart and head with things that remind me that rain is music on the roof; snow is a clean slate; wind brings change; and every season eventually, always, comes to an end.

1.

 Miss Mary Margaret

Miss Mary Margaret

the brilliance and beauty of Mary Margaret O\’Hara

2.

earl grey tea with a bit of milk

earl grey tea with a bit of milk

3.

the simple truths in the pages of The Camino Letters

pilgrimage.

pilgrimage.

4.

the comfort of blankets

the comfort of blankets

5.

good poetry

Mary Oliver

Mary Oliver

Cold now.

Close to the edge. Almost

unbearable. Clouds

bunch up and boil down

from the north of the white bear.

This tree-splitting morning

I dream of his fat tracks,

the lifesaving suet.

I think of summer with its luminous fruit,

blossoms rounding to berries, leaves,

handfuls of grain.

Maybe what cold is, is the time

we measure the love we have always had, secretly,

for our own bones, the hard knife-edged love

for the warm river of the I, beyond all else; maybe

that is what it means the beauty

of the blue shark cruising toward the tumbling seals.

In the season of snow,

in the immeasurable cold,

we grow cruel but honest; we keep

ourselves alive,

if we can, taking one after another

the necessary bodies of others, the many

crushed red flowers.


All You Need

The sun has come out. The sky is bright and brilliant blue. It’s February now. The days feel a bit longer. Spring seems a little closer.
I should buy myself some tulips today. Hope.

I have heard a lot of references these last few days to February being the month of love. I’m okay with that. Not because love is always easy or obtainable.
But because love is one of those things that is always worth pursuing, I suppose. A whole month devoted to finding reasons to love. Ways to love. Things/people/ideas to love.
And it seems ironically perfect to me that this month of love falls in the heart of the season that can so often feel like a struggle. Winter can wear down hard and make all sorts of things feel like work. Loving anyone, let alone myself, can feel like an impossible task.

But here we are. Here I am.
Loved. Loving. Breathing. Moving. Learning. Thanking. Blessing. Loving. Loved.

And the sun has come out. The sky is bright and brilliant blue. It’s February now. The days feel a little bit longer. Spring seems a little closer.
I should buy myself some tulips today. Hope

IMG_2094

what i am is

i spent my morning today with one of  my favorite people. his name is mr. jones, and what he lacks in size and years he makes up for in courage and delight.  in the middle of playing cars and watching cars and making music and eating snow and jumping on beds and building towers and destroying towers and trying out words and bursting out laughs, mr. jones and i spent some time dancing.

this boy has a soft spot for a certain songstress named Feist and her 1,2,3,4 masterpiece that she sings on the streets of Sesame. her smooth voice and spot on counting mastery woos him every time, and gets his little hips wiggling and his voice ooooohing. she’s pretty cute too, and i think that doesn’t hurt.

i must admit that i had never fully explored the wealth of Sesame Street music that is, apparently, out there. amazing, really. and while no one really won the boy childs heart away from the countess, we did break out some good moves to a few other songs. including this one, which i think tied as a favorite for me.

you might think you’re too old for Sesame Street now. and if that’s the case, i’m really sorry. i am. and i hope soon you can find that part of you that you grew out of somewhere along the way, and when you find it i hope you dust it off and try it back on, because i’m pretty sure that if you just take a deep breath and wiggle your old bones a bit, you’ll find that childlike part of you still fits you like it was made for you.

because it was.

and it still is.

and sometimes we just need someone to come along and feed us some fresh snow and remind us to stop taking ourselves, our lives, so seriously. to loosen us out of whatever we’ve grown into and help us remember how to dance.

me and mr. jones

me and mr. jones

to the fields.

field

And you – what of your rushed
and useful life? Imagine setting it all down –
papers, plans, appointments, everything –
leaving only a note: “Gone
to the fields to be lovely. Be back
when I’m through with blooming.”


-Lynn Ungar

it’s just been a lot, you know?

i realize i haven’t been writing/sharing/posting much lately.

i’ll try to remedy that.

somedays it’s just a lot, you know?

fall colors.

me, the garden, the start of autumn rain.

If anything

yellow dandelion
Maybe the camera crew is at someone else’s house,
a spotlight haloing over another’s fleshy story.
Maybe the mailman is delivering the good news
to your neighbor, or a different city entirely,
and you come home to a rash of catalogues,
the second notice for a doctor’s bill, a plea
from the do-gooders for whatever you can spare.
Maybe you haven’t cleaned your kitchen floor in weeks,
forgotten to nourish the front garden, spilled too much
coffee in your car, weaving through traffic.
Maybe you are 10 pounds heavier than last year.
Maybe your skin is betraying your age.
Maybe winter is ravaging your heart.
Maybe you are afraid, or lonely, or furious, or wanting out
of every commitment you entered with such vigor and trust.
Maybe you’ve bitten your nails down to the quick,
chosen your meals badly, ignored the advice of those
who know you best. Maybe you are stubborn as a toddler.
Maybe you are clumsy or foolish or hasty or reckless.
Maybe you haven’t read all the books you’re supposed to.
Maybe your handwriting is still illegible after all these years.
Maybe you spent too much on a pair of shoes you didn’t need.
Maybe you left the window open and the rain ruined the cake.
Maybe you’ve destroyed everything you’ve ever wanted to save.

Still.

If anything, believe in your own strange loveliness.
How your body, even as it stumbles, angles for light.
The way you hold a dandelion with such yearning and tenderness,
the whole world stops spinning.

Maya Stein

here, she was saying, is the poem of you.

( sweet gratitude to deb for sharing this and maya for writing this. my discovery was delayed, but the timing couldn’t have been better. i love it when words lay in waiting till right when you need them most. )

……

nap

Take exquisite care of yourself
she said, and that day, fighting a cold,
I misunderstood, took myself directly
to bed, then to the kitchen for soup,
then wasted an obscene amount of hot water
on a late afternoon shower.

Later, when the weight in my chest
had cleared, when I could breathe again,
and tell the difference between fogginess and fog,
it occurred to me I had not been listening
for a long time.

Here, she was saying, is the poem of you.
Here is your delicate architecture, you fragile aliveness.
Here are your deer legs, your dandelion heart.
Here are your dormouse tracks on fresh, permeable snow.
Here is the way you sing, your voice millimetering toward sound,
how you hold your gaze on the coastline as if it were
a fiber of gold. Here is your language,
thin as a moth wing, your kiss a whisper
of offering. Here is how you cross the street,
how you drive the car, how you throw a Frisbee and bake a cake.
Here are the contents of your purse,
the Chapstick down to the quick
the receipt for midnight groceries,
a square sachet of lavender, a pair of broken
sunglasses still, somehow, salvageable.
Here are the thousand tiny ways you know to love.
Here are your wild little arms,
the soft tentacles of your fingers.
Here is how you sleep and how you wake up,
how you tiptoe toward the edge of the water
like a turtle, a drip of honey, an heirloom sweater
buried in a pile of attic castoffs.
Here are your shoes. Here is the way you eat.
Here are your secret favorite things, the underbelly of clover
lining the deck boards, the moss erupting near the recycling.
Here is your devotion to precision and the giddy, uncontainable
mess you nevertheless effort to contain.
Here are the sounds you make when you’re happy,
the alleyway damp of your sorrow.
Here is the lullaby tucked inside your bureau,
the joy hidden under the last shelf in the pantry,
the smooth belly of peace obscured by traffic lights.
Here is everything you know,
and everything that is still waiting patiently
for you to know it.

And I saw that this exquisite care
I was asked to take was not a matter
of sleep or soup, or hot water,
but an unflagging allegiance to my own wisdom,
the curves and wayward bends of it,
wool-scratched and seaglass-soft
syllabled or a baby’s babble,
however it was shaped and however it shaped,
wisdom, mine, certainty and uncertainty, a light,
however dim, steady and beckoning.

and this too:
loyalty to the peculiar and exceptional
ticking of my heart, which, without any intervention,
knows exactly what it needs
to chase the next breath
and the one that will come
just after.

Maya Stein

some people thought that i was crazy.

for sweet miss lesley,

who took a big, brave step

in the name of living well,

making more time for the things that really mattered,

and loving herself…

i am so very proud of her.

……

may we all find ways to be brave and kind to ourselves on this gorgeous morning

rae and lesley

don’t go it alone.

for a girl like me

who loves her solitude,

and who has fought a little too hard at times

to prove to myself that i can do it on my own,

it feels like a big deal some days to admit how much i need other people.

fridge

but i do.

i think i understand that more now than i ever have.

hmmmm.

i think i accept that more now than i ever have.

i can’t go this life alone.

……

“it is always a mistake to think ones soul can go it alone.”

– annie dillard

time lost and found

I sometimes teach classes on writing, during which I tell my students every single thing I know about the craft and habit. This takes approximately 45 minutes. I begin with my core belief—and the foundation of almost all wisdom traditions—that there is nothing you can buy, achieve, own, or rent that can fill up that hunger inside for a sense of fulfillment and wonder. But the good news is that creative expression, whether that means writing, dancing, bird-watching, or cooking, can give a person almost everything that he or she has been searching for: enlivenment, peace, meaning, and the incalculable wealth of time spent quietly in beauty.

Then I bring up the bad news: You have to make time to do this.

This means you have to grasp that your manic forms of connectivity—cell phone, email, text, Twitter—steal most chances of lasting connection or amazement. That multitasking can argue a wasted life. That a close friendship is worth more than material success.

Needless to say, this is very distressing for my writing students. They start to explain that they have two kids at home, or five, a stable of horses or a hive of bees, and 40-hour workweeks. Or, on the other hand, sometimes they are climbing the walls with boredom, own nearly nothing, and are looking for work full-time, which is why they can’t make time now to pursue their hearts’ desires. They often add that as soon as they retire, or their last child moves out, or they move to the country, or to the city, or sell the horses, they will. They are absolutely sincere, and they are delusional.

I often remember the story from India of a beggar who sat outside a temple, begging for just enough every day to keep body and soul alive, until the temple elders convinced him to move across the street and sit under a tree. Years of begging and bare subsistence followed until he died. The temple elders decided to bury him beneath his cherished tree, where, after shoveling away a couple of feet of earth, they found a stash of gold coins that he had unknowingly sat on, all those hand-to-mouth years.

You already have the gold coins beneath you, of presence, creativity, intimacy, time for wonder, and nature, and life. Oh, yeah, you say? And where would those rascally coins be?

This is what I say: First of all, no one needs to watch the news every night, unless one is married to the anchor. Otherwise, you are mostly going to learn more than you need to know about where the local fires are, and how rainy it has been: so rainy! That is half an hour, a few days a week, I tell my students. You could commit to writing one page a night, which, over a year, is most of a book.

If they have to get up early for work and can’t stay up late, I ask them if they are willing NOT to do one thing every day, that otherwise they were going to try and cram into their schedule.

They may explain that they have to go to the gym four days a week or they get crazy, to which I reply that that’s fine—no one else really cares if anyone else finally starts to write or volunteers with marine mammals. But how can they not care and let life slip away? Can’t they give up the gym once a week and buy two hours’ worth of fresh, delectable moments? (Here they glance at my butt.)

Can they commit to meeting one close friend for two hours every week, in bookstores, to compare notes? Or at an Audubon sanctuary? Or a winery?

They look at me bitterly now—they don’t think I understand. But I do—I know how addictive busyness and mania are. But I ask them whether, if their children grow up to become adults who spend this one precious life in a spin of multitasking, stress, and achievement, and then work out four times a week, will they be pleased that their kids also pursued this kind of whirlwind life?

If not, if they want much more for their kids, lives well spent in hard work and savoring all that is lovely, why are they living this manic way?

I ask them, is there a eucalyptus grove at the end of their street, or a new exhibit at the art museum? An upcoming minus tide at the beach where the agates and tidepools are, or a great poet coming to the library soon? A pond where you can see so many turtles? A journal to fill?

If so, what manic or compulsive hours will they give up in trade for the equivalent time to write, or meander? Time is not free—that’s why it’s so precious and worth fighting for.

Will they give me one hour of housecleaning in exchange for the poetry reading? Or wash the car just one time a month, for the turtles? No? I understand. But at 80, will they be proud that they spent their lives keeping their houses cleaner than anyone else in the family did, except for mad Aunt Beth, who had the vapors? Or that they kept their car polished to a high sheen that made the neighbors quiver with jealousy? Or worked their fingers to the bone providing a high quality of life, but maybe accidentally forgot to be deeply and truly present for their kids, and now their grandchildren?

I think it’s going to hurt. What fills us is real, sweet, dopey, funny life.

I’ve heard it said that every day you need half an hour of quiet time for yourself, or your Self, unless you’re incredibly busy and stressed, in which case you need an hour. I promise you, it is there. Fight tooth and nail to find time, to make it. It is our true wealth, this moment, this hour, this day.

– Anne Lamott

anne-lamott-0410-m ( from Sunset.com , with many thanks to darling Lesley who shared it with me on   this beautiful Sunday morning. These were good words to wake up to.)

Previous Posts Next Posts

Words + Photos + Credit

Unless otherwise noted, all original photography and text are property of Raechelle Kennedy. If you see or read something here and feel inspired to share it somehow, please be considerate and give the artist (me!) credit, or even better, drop me a note and make sure I don’t mind.
Thank you!

Here + There

Secondhand Sainthood and the gift of losing it all – Topology Magazine, December 2015

Ten Things Made – Topology Magazine, December 2015

Subscribe!