In honor of your job well done…home.

I sat in my car mesmerized by this scene as this home was being slammed and crushed to bits. It was a chilly day and the sounds of the splinters and metal echoed in the air. I was drawn to stop and watch and even photograph. It was…shocking and brutal. The room up top on the left is painted yellow can you see? My favorite home in all the world was painted yellow. Below it there is wallpaper probably once with family pictures nailed in the spots you could not see the holes. How many times did someone look out those windows at the weather or trees or neighbors, brush their teeth in that upstairs bathroom? All just smashed and soon gone in a few hours. I watched for so long the driver stopped and took a break perhaps feeling the angst; or did he have his own? I am odd. Home, to me isn’t all that stuff heaped in a pile you order at hardware supplies with millions of screws and nails, insulation, plaster, wood I see now as trash, it’s the holder, safe space, and symbol of the people and millions of moments lived inside and around it. It’s the yellow paint that creates warm atmosphere, Pinesol in the pottys to be clean, thousands of aromas that bring family to the dinner table, or feel squeaky clean after a shower. Were their soccer balls left in the yard or was there a puppy that had to learn about “going outside?” How many different kinds of shoes were left at the door, or coats hung? How many humans of all sizes walked through it, the porch light left on. All came crashing down in this spot for me even though I had never had any connection to it, and I felt the ending of all those moments which that home stood for; protection from the weather, a beacon, a fortress, a symbol, a place to run, a place to lie low when you feel sick, laughter, heartache, exciting news…it was a living entity trying its best to hold on for a few seconds longer as its important job had been fulfilled. I wanted to give that home an honorary audience; a closure of my presence and gratitude to acknowledge it did its job…well done. Because I felt inside that it tried to do its best for the humans who it lived and died for all those years it stood strong. Good bye home and thanks.

Home means so much to me…

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“Help, I need a book!”

I’m sharing a social media meme I am a believer of. This was one of those weeks where the only place to run was inside a story to transport me away.

No surprise, it worked. But the magic wasn’t only the emotional rest needed but in forming fresh eyes just like…well, magic.

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Goodness matters

In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King I wanted to share one of my favorite quotes:

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”
Strength to Love, 1963.

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Sometimes you have to Jump the Track

When the life machine clicks on each morning, the standard dial is set on Maintenance Mode where we step onto our conveyor belts as the machine spits and sputters placing us about our day completing particular tasks. The belt ride is always moving, often in a hurry, always on a schedule and along the ride it may ruffle us up, screw on new parts, label, spray or stamp us, wrap us in packaging materials but at SHUT-OFF time at the end of the day we are pajama-ed with a stamp of approval where we are dropped into bed. The machine is turned to sleep or is unplugged, and we rest from our labors (unless the dog or baby disturbs our OFF mode) until the life machine clicks on once again in the morning– the auto dial set, and Maintenance Mode begins again and we do it day after day after day…

At the end of an hour or afternoon or day, or month or year or decade we may wonder if we ever had eye contact or clearly looked at the people or things around us moving along the belt…except to complete the tasks and make our quotas; forgetting that as part of our contract on the life machine, we are actually supposed to be satisfied employees.

So then, what happens if some trickster (from that other track) randomly jumps the belt, turns the Maintenance Mode knob to pause, grabs the pink polka dot ball labeled DANGER that lifts the lever which shoots off iridescent bubbles which starts the bells, that opens the ceiling blinds which lets in the sunshine that generates the solar Smile-Dial. And everyone looks around, notices who is next to them on the belt in that moment while the sun rays lighten everyone up—which triggers the smile dance, or sends smiles to those way ahead or way behind like they are infectious or shares a bunch of them in whole clusters until the machine siren blasts, red lights flash, it spits and sputters, the blinds hum closed to shut out the sun and a big grumpy groan starts up the life machine conveyor belt moving forward on its schedule once again back to the standard dial on Maintenance Mode where we complete our tasks and are validated by check marks and reminded we have so much to do and so little time.

Sometimes, in Maintenance Mode it is crucial to be a trickster and jump the belt, lift the lever and trigger the Smile-Dial every once in a while. If we don’t who will and then we will just wait and wait and wait on that Maintenance Mode conveyor belt missing chances to smile with someone and to realize what makes us feel happy as satisfied people, not employees of life.

And this pretty much sums up my life philosophy. Maintenance Mode does not go away. Sometimes you just have to jump the belt to create the smiles or stay on the belt day after day and never know what it’s like to be a part of a smile dance or infectious smile delivery. I am pretty sure human beings can’t live without smiling…

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Enchantment 103: The Inner Shimmers

In a small community church’s basketball hall, the sports room was transformed in the early weeks of December into an enchanted Christmas display honoring Jesus Christ’s birth. Hundreds of small nativities were gathered from people all over the nearing area and were displayed together in an expression of the first Christmas. It was open to the public for anyone to come see for free. There were depictions of the nativity in every way imaginable from all different countries and all different mediums expressed in bamboo, carved wood, gingerbread, glass, textural, fireplace screens, stained glass, stone, painted, prints, needlepoint, quilts, … etc. Even though the three nights that the show was displayed so subtle and beautiful, prior to the show was when I first experienced something so memorable that is difficult to express with words and I have never forgotten since. I experienced the inner shimmers.

I was asked to be a part of the nativity committee and did so for years to come. I was in charge of the children’s area where I initially painted a child-size nativity where people could dress up and get a picture as a character in the nativity scene. But I was also one of the behind-the-scenes decorators and helpers. Much of expression has an experience in the process not always at the finale. First painting the entire nativity was an experience all its own. I understood the wonder of the expression of this holy night. But as I set up my children’s nativity displays and then helped set up hundreds of others, a quiet rhythmic reverence began to form; almost rote and silent– the stable here, the donkey there, Joseph watching, Mary and the baby…and then the shepherds and the wisemen, an angel and maybe a few farm animals. And again, the stable here, the donkey there, Joseph watching, Mary and the baby…and then the shepherds and the wisemen, an angel and maybe a few farm animals. And more, the stable here, the donkey there, Joseph watching, Mary and the baby…and then the shepherds and the wisemen, an angel and maybe a few farm animals.

And then something began to happen. Holy enchantment is the only way to describe it. — the stable here…—what was it made of, what did it look like? How did it feel to be led into a stable in a new place during a scary moment of delivery. The donkey there—was the tired little donkey weary…hungry…Was it warm? And Joseph so solid, helping, watching, being the guardian, protector, security—Oh Joseph, who was thinking about you… he must have worried so. And Mary. Oh, how Mary must have been so frightened as she labored in a strange place away from home. How was the birth? You were so brave, dear young little Mary. The animals and people who came, what were they feeling? Where did they stand? What was said? What was heard? Were the heavens in song? And then there was the gentle newborn Christ child. Coming to earth as a king, in such crude circumstances; just sleeping. He was the most special of all.

I was there in my mind. I began to feel what it was like to be there. The stable here, the donkey there, Joseph watching, Mary and the baby…and then the shepherds and the wisemen, an angel and maybe a few farm animals and me. I wanted to be included, too.

The lights were dimmed with only twinkiling lights and small candles, illuminating the gym each night. It was enchanting. The old church basketball gym was transformed into holy ground. It was this place that  that first Christmas actually came real to me and penetrated past the tingles and goose-bumps and gently reached inward warming my soul with the inner shimmers. I felt the first Christmas in my heart and I wanted to be a part of it…and have ever placing my simple creche on the mantel with a small little light has never been the same. Jesus is that light. HE was born. I BELIEVE…

Dearest
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Enchantment 102– Christmas Kryptonite aka “the tingles”

“Nope, nada, not happening! That enchantment 101 stuff is not for me…and I’m okay with that. Don’t guilt me with the woo woo of miracle candle lights lasting or wishes that come true from a fireplace… Life is harsh, real, and pragmatic and to survive you have to rely on tough reality, not whimsical. Magic doesn’t pay bills or put food on tables or even buy gifts you wish you could afford…and who pays for those things to be wistful about…it’s me—the worker, not the non-practical enchantment elf that lives at the North Pole in sub zero temperatures getting a pay check from a fat guy that has high cholesterol.”

*I hear you. I see you. I even live by you…

You are right.

But then what is your Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, holiday kryptonite? Or for that matter life’s kryptonite? What is it that makes you feel the tingles that even the robot-strength of emotional endurance in you cannot control?

Even the most stoic in emotional connective resistance can have (and do but heaven-forbid admit it) kryptonite moments of weakness; when the tingles, the shivers, you know…goose bumps appear from nowhere and overpower that magnificent strength of emotional fortitude. There is a scientific explanation for goose bumps, but what is the scientific explanation for delight shivers or tingles?

If you know, please tell me…

I know the other explanations…

For me, my Christmas Kryptonite begins with twinkling lights.

Light twinkles in strands strung pretty much anywhere, give me the delight shivers. In fact light in general; the sunshine, sun-rises, and sun-sets, candle light, morning light opened from curtains or blinds, the rays of light coming in on your cat or through cloud bursts, light on snow that glistens, light after a storm. Moon light in all her fazes. Light from people’s eyes or on a baby’s face…yep for me the beginnings of delight shivers and tingles start with light…

Enchantment 102 is probably the most difficult after discarding Enchantment 101 for people who are so emotionally tough. What is your Christmas Kryptonite that brings the tingles? Dang it…you have the Kryptonite curse whether you want to or not…because you are human not a robot. (Tell me the things that have lights in this picture to prove it…:) Any tingles?

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Enchantment 101

Enchantment

What is it?

Some want it.

Others don’t.

Some have forgotten they do.

It truly does not dwell in the realm of “practical.” (last post)

Childhood revels in it, especially when things are not perfect or joyful or unsafe, because a huge part of enchantment is hope and belief. Childhood is supposed to be enchanting.

Enchantment is fragile, easily lost, and very carefully and soulfully given air to breathe and children do it naturally and some adults do so who understand its power and believe it must.

Christmas seems to be the one time of year that even the most practical may open the door a crack and allow enchantment’s sparkles to trickle in. Yes, there are those who have grown to be so “adult” or pained that enchantment’s innocent hope is lost in a closed or darkened heart. But in my belief deep down in that child part of each of us lives that little space, that ember of playful believing, that fascination of the world with so many parts that seem to be so magical; so real only just buried.

As adults we rush past those parts now, as we live in busy pursuit of the future or past, but enchantment lives in the present within childhood, with marveling and amazement; with excited hope and how-can-that-be. And then life becomes that much more possible; for who knew bells could be found from a hole in the pocket or heard only by those who believe, or that mice give gifts, or a bunny, soft blanket and wa-wa protects in the night, or Santa flies in the night sky with the help of reindeer, or miracles happen when the candle light stays lit, or a star shines over a manger leading wise men, or toys come to life, or an elf on a shelf moves all over the house or white flakes of snow falls from the sky and frosts everything like frosting with sparkles of glitter…aren’t these unexplainable miracles. And children understand the world as miracles happening everywhere and all over the place and all the time and they depend on it…as they notice and wonder. And often, at times, the best explanation is their understanding of it

So how? If you feel you have lost this enchanting ability, how do you muster the courage to carefully nurture it back? For it does take courage and mustering.

  1. Take moments in your day to be amazed at very simple things. Be so amazed that you actually stop and tell yourself, look at that…that is so…(fill it in). Then put an enchanting spin on why it is so amazing. Our family recently shared pictures of our summer lake in a furry of waves not usual and then we figured it was the time of the crawdad’s X-games and under the water they were doing incredible feats to be judged. There are miracles everywhere with enchanting reasons why. Even our very bodies do miraculous things. Talk to those parts as if they can hear you. For they can….Start there if your enchanted eyes and soul have atrophied.
  2. Create a mood or atmosphere with one area of the season that is meaningful to you. Yes, we put up decorations or menorahs. But do something in a daily ritualistic mindful way where you look forward to it and create an enchanting atmosphere. You have to make things captivating and magical. Things don’t just come that way. It takes energy to make magic happen.
  3. Daring is part of enchantment. Absolute flowing with it is not easy for those who must have control of everything…which is most adults who are practical and adult-ish). Sprinkle in some gentle magic. Imagination, creativity, and authenticity is the key. Talk the enchanted talk- you may need to practice. If you are not authentic, it will not be enchanting, it will be fake. And children recognize fake even as infants. You will feel fake and then enchantment is dead. Poof! Joining with a child will teach you how. Converse and allow them to give you reasons. Don’t correct, go with their understanding. If Snowy needs a birthday party (and Snowy is a little white bear), then he needs a party. Flow… What is a place that you would feel comfortable enhancing enchantment in this season? You could pop down rabbit holes with Christmas stories then make them come alive just by believing in what you just read about in the magic within. You could notice the angels in your life and write down what they have done for you each day to make the season brighter. You could have your very own invisible elf showings that remind you, “You better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout, I’m telling you why…” and break into song. You could make up some reindeer food, package it and offer it to families with small children to put out on Christmas eve and then tell them why it is important to do so… (Shredded wheat crushed with glitter so the moon will guide them to it)…
  4. Believe in it enough. I believe as we get older we think joining in with childhood makes us foolish or silly. It can feel embarrassing. But the very joining in with authentic enchantment (amazed at how this could be, or going along with the imaginative play) is often enough of the oxygen needed to kindle the light inside of us. The child will explode with it if acknowledged. But you must kindle you own belief and know why you are doing so. It is not always easy but that is okay. You are rusty.
  5. Commit and understand why enchantment is important in our lives. Do you believe it is? Is it?

What is the secret realm of childhood where enchantment lives? What is it and why is it? Perhaps look at it this way. Everything is new and thrilling to children and they live in the present. Non-living things have souls to help them understand about their own soul and how things work in the world. “A house enhanced by the presence of unseen spirits” or mischievous and silly ones who try not to get caught with their benign presence tickles the senses, and embraces the wonder and magic of childhood understanding for hope and joy bringing playfulness to our hearts, warming that childlike feeling we carry around, and brings enchantment to us all. Children do this already on their own but nurtured can be shared and held together. If crushed, belittled, or squelched it is blocking the presence of beginning spirituality and empathy seeds. With all my conviction I will tell you, children want to believe, and they want you to give them permission to. They want you to believe with them and allow them to figure out life guided and nourished safely on their own time. Enchantment has everything to do with being enraptured, hopeful, enthralled, playful, a little bit unnerved, and fully “in” with wonder and miracles. It is popping down rabbit holes in the making…and spreading gentle magic out into the world.

 “It was a dark and stormy night, and the wind was blowing fast, and the captain said, (insert your name) my boy or my girl or my mate…tell me a story. And this is how the story went.

“The realm of enchantment is open to us all, if we are willing to stop over the threshold.”

K. Kenison. (2000). Mitten Strings for God. New York, NY: Warner Books.

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Practical Christmas?

It began with a tiff. And in the rules of tiffs…I lost. It was about that word…practical. I am pretty sure that I don’t have that gene. That is bad for my tiff opponent who wants me to have that gene so badly…

So then there is Christmas…

Do you have a fake tree you open like an umbrella or do you schlop to a tree lot, usually in the cold, never finding the exact one… have it tied to your car top with that plastic chord or crammed in the back seat with you holding it as it drips, put it in water over night, drag it in your house with needles everywhere, lift it in that thingy that is supposed to hold water and promised with a guarantee to hold it up as you screw every side yet it still leans.. and does it hold water? Fill with more water, decorate, …the tree falls…maybe twice…redecorate and mop…keep watering so your house won’t burn down and then take it all down when the pine needles show up in your socks and at Easter. Yes, my hand is raised… I do the second. Practical…nope.

How about baking. You may say, “What is baking?” Do you purchase delicious snacks at Trader Joes that seems more Christmassy than chain grocers or bakeries or do you pull out the flour, sugar, molasses, melted butter, spices, chocolate, and…snack on too many marshmallows or chocolate chips before you even dropped little dough drops on a cookie sheet or in a pie plate and have more dishes to wash than if you hosted the work Christmas party. Then wrap the treats to give away. Yes, my hand is raised for baking…Practical…nope.

Do you carol? Like go out, knock on your neighbors’ or friends’ doors stand in the cold or in a hallway and sing…? Even if you’re tone deaf? In our world, would anyone even open the door since most are probably 75 miles away looking at their porch from their phone telling us to get away or they will electronically open their dog door and their two Doberman Pinchers will bite our sorry bums off their property until their electronic doggy collars won’t let them go past their lawn. My hand is raised…I carol and even with those baked goods I spent days making to give away that I haven’t done the dishes yet. I even drop some for the dinosaurs. I mean dogs; the ones without chocolate of course. Practical…nope.

Buying gifts? Probably done on black Friday or Cyber Monday, with every electronic sale receipt carefully filed in electronic folders or in the “cloud” for when the returns need to be made and the electronic return receipt is there for you to access and print out. Then sent with no worries of wrapping hoping the drones dropped them in the correct porches…Or, do you wander through Guitar Center, LuLu Lemon, Target, Bed Bath and Beyond, CVS (when desperate) trying to do the matching game with people you love or feel you need to buy a gift, carrying bags through malls (that are dimmed by so many stores vacant), eat good food at the food court, or wander and wander as the days inch closer with nothing to get your mother-in-law because she remembered you re-gifted her the shawl she gave you two years earlier. Yep, my hand is raised…I am the mall wanderer. Practical in these electronic or post Covid days…nope.

Christmas is just a start I go way impractical beyond that…

See…practical isn’t in me. It never has been. I keep noticing most everything I own, my passions, or do’s, or what I think about and well… sooo not practical.

Yet…I wouldn’t trade the pine smell, the tickle of the needles that takes me back to a place I love, the smell of cinnamon or melting chocolate in my mouth…and warmth…there is nothing like a warm kitchen with good smells and lots of dirty dishes you get to wash in warm sudsy water that have made something yummy. I love wandering up and down store aisles thinking about the ones I love and whether they would like this…or that…or both…or definitely not either. I love the drive home with full bags and wrapping next. I’m not a fan of drones, or doorbells with cameras. I’m not all that broken up about not having the practical gene. I know it drives those who do…crazy. I don’t want too much practical. It is much like my blog name… have fun with it? How do you make memories? How do you laugh when the tree falls each year and you still put on the broken ornaments…with the dates of the tree fall?

I’m not saying practical is bad. It is soooo good. The tiff was practical and I was reminded I live in a practical world. (I keep forgetting). I do the tiring, messy, too much work way and rarely default to the adult-serious or “sleek hip and modern.” I like to live IN life. Sing your heart out with carols you love, play eye spy with the tree ornaments, try grandpa’s milkshake recipe with the secret ingredients; return to the mall ruins. It’s kind of the fall down messy approach to life. I know. But if you don’t have the practical gene you just have to get used to rolling with it. Nope, I’m certainly not saying it’s the best way. I lose that tiff way too much…practical is every where. I carry lots of paper towels.

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“All is calm…all is bright…”

Happy December 1st lighting the world with Jesus Christ at Christmas…

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I need the laundromat

If ever your physical or mental state gets in disorganized overload, I recommend you gather some dirty clothes, a little soap and some quarters and head to your local laundromat. There is something mindful about walking into the warmth, hearing the rhythms, smelling the soap, watching the spin cycles, hearing the clinks of quarters, and just being there with other washers that feels grounding and soothing. It feels like a little mini earth inside, and we are all there doing the mundane, but necessary things as part of being on it. I once was given a shirt by a homeless man at the laundromat when it shrunk too much in the dryer, and I had a little boy with autism with me who, while we sat on the floor watching the spin cycles, put it on right then; warm and cozy.

Once your clothes are in and that door is locked–and you hear the click, you have to stop and wait. Yes, you could rush off for errands and do and do and do but if you don’t, you just get to sit…and wait. The water fills up, the soap gets bubbly, the clothes toss in a circular back and forth. It’s the sensory slow down, the rhythmic spins, the security of the mechanic repairing the broken soap dispenser, the kids playing with the wheeled baskets, the folder in the corner who does it so well I wish she’d do mine after hers. And then when the machine stops, the dryer is the best part. Putting in the quarters and flicking that switch that turns that huge drum. They are gigantic rhythmic wombs beating and warm. The dry clothes feel like you want to lie down right there with them all on top of you and stay cozy and safe underneath.

I literally left the laundromat a completely new person. I came in mentally like my pile; a little bit soiled, smelly, and feeling crammed in a pillow case, but I left warm and calm and folded neat. Driving home, which still is in renovation disaster, I felt rejuvenated just for stopping in to the laundromat where pausing… and listening… and watching… and connecting… with my fellow travelers in mini earth was exactly what I needed.

Sorry I have been absent for so long. I finally found my computer under the mess…:)

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