Thirsty

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Every morning up at five
stretching to punch through
the day and smile
even though it’s dark outside
I’ve been at this too long
trusting the path to turn
one way or the other
On it goes straight past
where I planted my seeds
Still waiting to sprout
trapped in dry sand
Degrees on my wall
fill up the space
giving me pride
for a job well done
But there’s still that
breath I hold inside
A parched throat
thirsty for rain

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Words: Timed free-verse (10 minutes), c.b.w. 2018

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Gratitude

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sunday mornings
paying the bills
doing the laundry
watching the cat
watch the birds
such mundane things
were never part
of my dreams
full of sparkly flash
beyond my means
it’s when time
moves faster
than you imagined
and takes more
than you want to give
that quiet mornings
and cups of coffee
fill the void with
grateful thoughts

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free-verse, c.b.w. 2018

26 Random Facts

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It’s been a while since I’ve played a blogging game, (they all start to look the same after a while, don’t they?), but 26 Facts A to Z looked like fun. I spotted it on Paula Acton’s blog and if you want to see her list you can find it here.

A- Age: I’m hurdling toward 40, but I feel like I’m still a kid in many respects. I still love Disney movies and coloring.

B- Biggest fears: Drowning, someone breaking into the house, and failure. However, snakes literally paralyze me. I have no idea why as snakes have never given me a reason to fear them.

C- Current time: 3:19 p.m. It’s a beautiful Sunday afternoon. Clouds are in the sky and it’s a warm 70 degrees.

D- Drink you last had: Tall Cafe Mocha – I’m still enjoying it, actually!

E- Every day starts with: Feeding my furkids. I’m not allowed sleep past 5:00 a.m. Ever.

F- Favourite song: At the moment, I love Life Support by Sam Smith, Coldplay’s new album A Head Full of Dreams, and the soundtrack for Cinderella (the live action version, 2015).

G- Ghosts, are they real?: Not sure. Haven’t met one, yet.

H- Hometown: That’s a tough question. I’ve lived in a lot of places, so I’ll go with my favorite: Land O’ Lakes, WI. It’s a tiny town in Northern Wisconsin (not the Minnesota town that makes the butter). My best childhood memories live in thick forests and beautiful lakes.

I- In love with: My husband, Edward Cullen (even after 8 years), Jim Halpert (it’s been longer for him!), and Charlie Cox a.k.a Matt Murdock a.k.a Daredevil, (my newest love)

J- Jealous of: Anyone with a literary agent. It’s been a long stretch of rejection! However, it’s not a bitter jealousy.

K- Killed someone?: I killed a character in my first novel. Does that count?

L- Last time you cried: Today. One of my furkids is struggling. He’s elderly and near the end of the line – it’s not easy knowing I’m going to lose him and soon.

M- Middle name: Nope. That’s my secret.

N- Number of siblings: One younger sister. I love her dearly.

O- One wish: At the moment, I just want more time to knit. Of late, it seems life is invading my precious crafting time!

P- Person you last called: My mom.

Q- Question you’re always asked: Are you ever going to have kids? No.

R- Reason to smile: Even with hardship and loss, life is beautiful. I just have to look out the window or give my furkids a hug to know how lucky and happy I am to have this life.

S- Song last sung: I don’t sing. Trust me, I’m doing the world a favor.

T- Time you woke up: 5:00 a.m. As always.

U- Underwear colour: Today, it’s blue.

V- Vacation destination: My most recent adventure was in Portland, Oregon. This year, I’m not sure I’ll be going anywhere. My husband is currently in night school, which means someone needs to be home with the furkids.

W- Worst habit: Compulsive chocolate eating. It’s wildly out of control and is likely to get worse with Valentine’s Day around the corner.

X- X-Rays you’ve had: Just my teeth. I’ve been lucky on the medical front, so far.

Y- Your favourite food: Chocolate. Much to my peril, I can’t leave it alone.

Z- Zoos visited: Out of Africa, Phoenix Zoo, Chicago Zoo, Payson Petting Zoo (this is barely a zoo, but we had fun).

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Feel free to play along and post your link in the comments! 🙂

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c.b.w. 2016

Walking Through Grief

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When my grandmother passed away three years ago, I was flooded with so many emotions I couldn’t even process what I was feeling. There was intense sorrow mixed with relief, gratitude, and nostalgia. I know – that’s an odd mixture of feelings after losing someone I was incredibly close to throughout my life.

The sorrow was obvious,  but I hadn’t counted on the relief. Her death was not a surprise. I had watched her slowly deteriorate from dementia for more than a year. She wasn’t suffering anymore and there is a certain amount of thanks for that when someone you love is suffering. What’s more, I was with her the night before her passing and those last moments are now beautiful and happy memories.

Gratitude came from feeling unbelievably blessed for the privilege of knowing such a beautiful person. I had the kind of relationship with her the most people will never experience with their grandparents.

Nostalgia is probably the most painful, because all the memories I cherish are also the reason I miss her so much it hurts.  My only saving grace on this front is a poem she wrote to both me and my sister telling us not to cry over her. It hangs on my fridge as a daily reminder of how she wants to be remembered, (See In Grandma’s Words). This is where the gratitude comes in as well. Her poem continues to keep me grounded.

All of these emotions thrashed around inside of me with nowhere to go. There comes a moment when you realize there needs to be a release. I didn’t want it to be ugly or messy or traumatizing. I wanted it to be peaceful and joyful like my Grandma’s poem.

I did the only thing that made any sense to me. I put on my hiking shoes and went for a long trail walk. The desert sand crunched beneath my feat. Every step seemed to push the sorrow into the ground and replace it with a sense of purpose and assurance. Life will go on and it will be beautiful. The smell of creosote came with each breath. The sun lit up the mountains and sky in a glorious shade of coral. Life didn’t feel heavy with the enormous weight of loss. Not anymore.

Every emotion rolled through me, but they were no longer thrashing. The evening air, cacti, and stones all seemed to invite them to come out and simply exist. It was liberating and calming. In so many ways it allowed me to accept the natural course of life and all the feelings that go along with it.

Whenever the grief feels overwhelming I go back to that day on the desert trail.

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A view along my desert trail. c.b.w. 2012

When my grandfather died last year, I found myself dealing with the same emotions all over again. Even with experience, it isn’t any easier dealing with the loss of a loved one. I held onto those thrashing emotions a bit longer this time around. I wasn’t ready to let go of something so precious.

It wasn’t until I was on vacation a few months later that I realized what I had to do. Those thrashing emotions were going to tear me apart unless I found a place for them go. Once again, I laced up my hiking shoes and went on a trail hike.

This time a thick, mossy forest reminded me to breathe. Like the desert before, it’s like the trees invited those thrashing emotions to come out and simply exist.  To be surrounded by so much life – the green of the leaves and the warmth of the sun filtering through – the  weight lifted once more. Life is beautiful and will go on. We hold those we love close to us no matter where they are. The pulse of the ground  anchored me to this world, giving me a sense of joy that I am still here and must make the most of each day. That’s what he would have wanted me to do.

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Forest Park, Oregon, c.b.w. 2015

I don’t know that grief ever totally heals, but my walks have shown me there is more to loss than sadness. I miss my grandparents every day, but I find their absence isn’t as hollow as I once believed. The memories are always there and so is the love. If I’m ever in doubt that they are near, I just remember the crunch of desert sand and the shade of thick trees.

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c.b.w. 2016