Friday, April 29, 2016

Feelings are the Future


Sipping coffee on our favorite patio in town, Joel and I had a quiet moment with Noelle one morning. It was a rather short moment, in the scheme of things, because we are not the only ones who love Common Market. 

After a little while, a man approached us to find out how old Noelle was. We chatted with him for a couple minutes and before long, our conversation reverted to the city's plans to tear this magical place down and move it elsewhere. Just as we began to lament the loss of "our spot" he stopped us.

"Emotions are the past. Feelings are your Future!" he exploded.

We stared at one another, a little caught off guard by his energy for the subject.

He went on to explain that emotions are the feelings we carry with us from the past and they only burden us. They can't serve us because they are baggage from something that already was. If we want to have a bright and positive future, then we have to feel one. If we want to feel love for the new Common Market, then we need to start putting out those feelings of love and embracing them now so that they will meet up with us in the future.

Right after his brief monologue, his wife joined him and made it very clear she had zero interest in talking with us, so he departed swiftly on her coattails leaving us with this wisdom to ponder. And ponder we did.

What do you think? Can you feel your way into the future you desire?

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

We didn't let it die

People warned us that things we previously valued would go by the wayside once we had a baby. This might be true in some areas of our lives, but we have not let our garden die! I have not made much time to report on it and that probably is because I spend much less time in it, but our garden is growing strong. 

My baby and my hairy baby
It is different this season. Things have changed. I did not make the time to grow my own seedlings. The garden is in desperate need of weeding. And, we are still growing our Spring crops. However, on the whole, it has been a successful winter and spring season for our backyard oasis of urban, farmer love.

Our berries
In preparation for putting in our summer crops, I went around the raised beds and harvested what was still coming in from the Spring. Radishes, Carrots, Onions, Kale, Broccoli, Cabbage and Spinach. Our lettuce, Greens, and Arugula have all gone to seed now and taste a little too bitter for our pallets. I pulled up all of those winter goodies and have given them to the chickens (who were delighted).

Squawky having a sit on her snacks

The chickens have been a wonderful part of the circle of life in our garden system. During the Autumn and Winter, we moved them from raised bed to raised bed so that they could clean out the summer beds and prepare them for the next season. Chickens are amazing because they will literally eat all the weeds, roots, old plants, and bugs while they turn up the soil and fertilize it (poop in it). By the time we move them to the next bed we have a healthy bed ready for planting. We have been absolutely stunned by how large our root crops have grown in chicken poop fertilized soil. Plus, they still provide us big, beautiful, daily eggs and eat all of our compost. 




Due to the new addition to our family, and to the unknown timeline revealing when we could move into my grandparents home, we have decided to keep it a little simpler this year in the garden. We will not forfeit summer crops, but we will not go to the extremes we did last summer. We plan to keep our Spinach as long as possible. We are going to give the onions, kale, and garlic more time in the earth. Meanwhile, we simply water our potted berry bushes and enjoy the berries that they are beginning to produce. We have about 20 tomato plants that have volunteered from last summer which will be replanted in places that make sense. Then I will plant cucumber, three kinds of squash, and peppers. It is hard for me to imagine not having okra so I will look for some seedlings in the coming days. 

For us, the garden is an extension of our kitchen. It has a piece of our hearts.It keeps us sane and grounded, breathing deeply.  It ties us to the Divine and allows us to connect to the truth- that each day is a blessing from the Lord. There were plenty of things that we could cut out to simplify our lives once baby came, but the garden is not one of them. 

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Morning Smiles

Lately, I've written about the benefit of making the physical gesture to create an emotional reality. More than ever, I believe this is an essential part of inspiring lasting change.

We have a three-month-old who has learned how to smile. I am now certain that there is nothing better than making eye contact with a beaming infant. Ever since she has learned to grin, this is how she greets the world!

Every single morning (knock on wood!) we roll over, glance in her bed and see her sweet smiling face. If we have to wake her before she naturally wakes up, I am continually surprised that her big, wide eyes signal an immediate grin, dimples and all. Joel and I are not "greet the morning" kinds of folks. We can do mornings and we can appreciate them, enjoy them and eventually smile in them, but we do not bound out of bed beaming with the sun. 

Since being blessed by Noelle's presence in our lives, mornings have changed. As soon as we see her smiling face we catch her contagious glow for mornings. We find ourselves beaming back until laughs burst from our throats, charging us into the new day with a lightness in our hearts.

It's a small gesture and a powerful one. I am catching my child's joy because I smile back. Just feeling the muscles in my face form a smile makes my emotions start to shift towards joy when I wake up. I make the physical gesture and I become transformed. I am grateful to be alive and experiencing this moment.

This is a reminder to smile. Just smile right now, right where you are and hold it for a few seconds. 

I guarantee you are feeling a little brighter. How would our days change if we followed suit with Noelle and practiced "Morning Smiles"?

Friday, April 8, 2016

Why a Feather?

There have been birds in my life for as long as I can remember. It started as an infant when Daddy's pet parakeet laid an egg that hatched a little birdie around the same time that I was born. "Doofus" was his Christian name and he was blue. My sister and I loved that little bird and grieved him so much when he died that Daddy had a funeral service for him in the churchyard. We buried him there together. 

Daddy and my grandmother (his mother) collected images of birds. They liked all kinds of birds, but none left them in rapture like the blue bird. In fact, my grandmother dresses in head-to-toe blue to this day. Her nickname is B.J. and as a small child, my youngest cousin thought we were all calling her "Blue Jay" and the name seemed to stick. To this day, I live by so many of the lessons she has taught me.

Growing up in the manse, there was a peach tree in our yard and my Mom hung a clay birdhouse on one of its branches. We had a pair of bluebirds come and lay their eggs there every single Spring. It was an event when they would show up. Mom would get so excited and the whole family would check on the little peepers daily and make sure that our cat had no ideas about eating any of the blue bird family. Even when the peach tree died, we didn't cut it down because the bluebirds still came to live there. It remained standing as the blue bird tree until we moved away.

As an adult, I've started to notice that when I am in need of the Holy Spirit or some assurance that the Creator is with me, I will often see a flicker of blue somewhere nearby. Bluebirds have appeared in moments of my life that felt overwhelmingly sacred or holy and I have taken them as an affirmation that I am exactly where I am meant to be. 

A couple of years ago, Joel and I got ourselves into a troubling living situation. We needed to move and there was a neighborhood near us that I was desperate to live in. We are not the only people who believe that it is the coolest neighborhood in town, so finding rentals in that area is slim-to-none, especially, affordable ones.  My sister-in-law called me up one afternoon to let me know that she saw a rental sign go up in a prime spot and I did not believe her. I had been scouring that neighborhood and there was no way that I missed a rental sign. She picked me up and parked me in front of the house so we could call and at least get our names in the line up with the landlord. As I was staring at this absolutely perfect little bungalow, in the exact location where we were dreaming of living, I looked up in the attic window and saw that someone had painted a bluebird on the glass. My heart skipped a beat. I knew we were going to get this place. We were the 39th people who had left messages with this landlord and for some reason, he called us back. 

Blue birds have become Spiritual arrows pointing me towards experiences of holiness and transformation. They have been totems that assure me of God's invested presence in my life. They remind me of my Dad, my grandmother, and my childhood where I experienced so much love and peace. When I see a blue bird, I am reminded of the simple freedom of just believing that I am a beloved part of God's created world. 

Waked Up started here as my first adventure in blogging. This space for writing was one I have always intended for sharing spiritual and life practices that have transformed my experience of living for the better. Following the blue bird arrows, Waked Up has evolved into a business where I can come and share these experiences and practices in person. I am teaching classes, workshops, and leading retreats. It is now a Studio where I am painting my prayers and sharing those with whoever will have them. The blue feathered Spirit still guides and weaves these amazing practices into lives of people I don't even know and the strings of connection continue to astound me, offering me assurance that I am on the right path. 

This is why, when faced with the challenge of creating my logo, I have chosen a blue feather. My hope is that Waked Up Studio will also become an arrow pointing you towards the Holy and Sacred in your own life that is waiting to transform your experience of living for the better. 

Monday, April 4, 2016

Tend a Rose

There used to be roses on the property. Roses that bloomed in all colors and looked as if they had just burst from the soil like daisies after a rain. My grandmother liked to plant her plants in the dirt so organically that it seemed that they were wild. She had an artistic eye for the asymmetrical and did not want her flora planted in systematic rows and lines. She wanted her garden, though very well tended, to look as if it just simply was there all along; well before people started manipulating the land. 

That was years ago. It has been nearly 5 years since my grandmother was able to "poke" plants in the soil. It's been even longer since she was able to tend the roses. Sometime during her decline, she starting planting periwinkle around the grounds. It seemed to only take moments before this prolific, little, green shoot was growing on anything that stood still. Soon after the periwinkle came the ivy, then the saplings turning quickly into small trees. The bushes became giant hedges while the hummingbird vines turned to tree trunks and reached their long fingers into every crack in the foundation of the house. 
In time, the stunning beauty of my grandmother's thoughtful garden spaces became a paralyzing, nightmare of overgrowth. 

It would be a colossal undertaking to begin to hack away at the octopus of flora that was left, but here we are. 

Joel and I spent a couple of days tearing around the property, cutting a circumference around the house. We cleared it of the small trees and giant scrub bushes that had taken over. We pulled vines from the trees, amazed by their far reaching tentacles. It was humbling to witness how quickly nature will take back it's own. 

During this mass clearing, Joel came across an astounding tree of thorns. Only it wasn't a tree. It had a trunk like a tree but all of it's branches were long, thick vines that stretched into the massive oaks and across the tops of the crepe myrtles and into the pine forest. Every inch of this strange, ominous plant was covered in mammoth barbs. 


Joel called me over to examine this alien. I was puzzled. What was this thing?


Then it hit me. I was staring at something that was once the prize of the garden. This was part of my grandmother's rose garden. This was a climbing rose. 

This rose bush had been left untended for so long that all of it's energy had gone solely to strengthening it's defenses. It's vine's were strong and thick, covered in bark. It's thorns were like black blades pressing out, ready to do battle with the first sign of sheers. This plant has not created a rose in ages.

It might be cliche, but I love roses and they hold a very special place in my memories. I stared at this monster, feeling a deep sadness well up in me. Look at what happens to something beautiful when it is left neglected... 

The Secret Garden crept back into my mind. As if he came up behind me, I could hear Ben Weatherstaff whisper, "Tend a rose and a thistle cannot grow."

A climbing rose is meant to be tended and should be pruned regularly of leaves, stems and thorns that direct it's energy away from the rose blossoms. The tenderness and care that is taken with a well kept rose bush leaves room for these amazing plants to pour everything they have into creating the show-stopping colors and blooms that end up in our loved ones vases and pressed under their noses. Leave these plants untended and they will pour every last bit of their life-force into becoming callous and prickly, stretching their spiny limbs into every living thing within reach.

Our minds are just like these roses bushes. When we take a care to tend to our good thoughts, the positive words and loving gestures, then we direct our energy towards growing something beautiful. We become lovely the more we prune away the "suckers" that strip us of our life force and blot our joy with negativity. On the flip-side, when we allow our hearts and minds to run amok, letting suckers grow and thorns gain strength, we become covered in a tough bark that keeps others from getting too close. Our thorny grasp reaches far, pulling everyone down with it, slicing them along the way, until we are the only ones standing in the middle of a thicket of dead leaves. 

We were created for sharing beauty, sharing goodness and joy...


Tend a rose and a thistle cannot grow. 

Sunday, April 3, 2016

When the World Ends

The other day I had an interesting conversation with my sibling-in-laws. We were talking about the movie, "Seeking a friend for the End of the World". The premise of this film is that there is an asteroid headed for Earth and in three weeks it will make contact. It seems like a pretty cliche story line at this point, but there was something special about it. Each scene depicted what I would imagine would happen if we were really in that predicament. The confusion, the humanity, the various ways with which real people cope... It is well worth a watch if you haven't seen it yet.

In mentioning this movie, we started to ask one another what we would do if there were only three weeks left on Earth. I surprised myself by how long it took me to come up with an answer. My sibling-in-laws were throwing out ideas like, "I would blow up a skyscraper, burn down a National Forest, steal a Tesla and drive it off a cliff, etc". I decided that I would want to be naked the entire time and I would jump off of high things. I would base jump all of the most dangerous cliffs and canyons I could find. My husband said later, that he would finish off his travel "Bucket List" which would take him to Egypt and India if there were still flights available. 

The thing is, I don't think any of us considered what it would really be like if the world were going to end. Our answers probably reveal a lot about our proverbial "Id" then our true reactions to this sort of catastrophic event. The message of "Seeking a Friend for the End of the World" was about our primal need for relationship. We are a people born into community, designed to live in community. Even in our darkest moments, there is a place inside each of us that cries out to be known, to be seen, to be loved. We want to be in relationship with someone. Even in the narrative of Genesis, God said, "It is not good for man to be alone." Then he created Eve to be Adam's companion and partner in living.

If the world were really going to end, I imagine that in actuality, we would let go of these selfish notions however fun, frivolous or destructive they might be. We would do it because they would not leave us full. I truly believe we would want to go out feeling whole. Just like in the journey of life, we seek a companion. I believe we would do the same if we were headed to an unknown end, because what provides richness to our lives are people. It has always been like this and will always be like this. Chance encounters with someone kind can transform a person's entire experience. A well placed pat on the back or hug can melt the hardest of hearts. The scariest situation imaginable feels a little less scary with someone by your side. 

So, the Earth as we know it is not headed into imminent doom (at least I am not aware that it is), but I think this story from Hollywood still hands us some truth that is worth holding on to. As we go about our days of living, let's pay attention (and with some gratitude) to the relationships that we hold dear. These relationships are what transform us. People are the vessels through which the Spirit speaks and moves. God is right, of course, it is not good for humans to be alone.