Every Moment Creates Beauty

A friend shared something on Facebook today about honoring how interconnected everything is, how one small event can impact a huge blessing.  It got me thinking.

I’ve been living in old wounds lately.  The last 6 months have been painful.  6 months ago I let go of someone I loved because he just wasn’t in a place to return the feelings or give me anything like what I was longing for and needing.  I stood in my power and was able to let it go but it hurt. My heart took a beating and a bunch of old fear resurfaced.

All the old tapes about not being enough, not being good enough, not being lovable resurfaced.  So of course, my inner demons latched on to those, amplified them, and created more painful stories out of old wounds.  I’ve been living there for 6 months.  Feeling like I wasn’t worthy or lovable. Feeling like he didn’t want me because I was flawed, she left because I couldn’t measure up.  I started thinking everything I touched just disintegrated.  The voice got louder and pretty soon it was drowning out the more truthful stories about who I am.


Reading my friends post today I remembered how my life has unfolded in the last 2 years. A break up coupled with my best friend moving far away led me to my career in religious education ministry and a move of my own a thousand miles from the only place I had known.  With that came a lot of hard work but also freedom, the joy of knowing my work was impactful and fulfilling, and a life and relationship with my daughter I did not have before.  From heartache I spun the fabric of a new journey, an adventure in finding what made my soul resound with joy.

What has been unfolding since letting go of any hopes for something deeper with B.? I’m not sure.  I feel like the past few months have just been me barely making it.  My practice has suffered.  My compulsive eating habits have increased and I’ve been living in the illness of that addiction. I’ve stopped writing outside of a professional capacity.  I haven’t been making any art. My relationship with my daughter has felt more like a shadow of what it was when we first arrived.  Things have been … dark.

Among the dark there has been some light.  I founded Agape House, a living collective withcandle 3 other adults.  Though admittedly, I find myself wishing for more space lately.  I will be getting more space in January when a collective member will be leaving and I may yet create that art and writing studio I longed for when I first discovered this house.

Samhain is approaching and I am considering what it is time to let go of.  I want to let go of this story and move through the pain of rejection and heartache.  I want to call back in my practice, my intention and presence with my daughter, writing and art, and healthier habits.

I call back in my ability to be moved by the interconnectedness and celebrate that every action leads to some unfolding, some choice or path that wasn’t there before.  It swirls around us, sometimes beautiful and sometimes so sharp and bright we ache all over, but it paints a beautiful canvass when it plays out.  I need to remember to pause and pray, as Anne Lammot says, “help, thanks, wow.”


Teaching My Soul to Sing

Last August, in Georgia, I sat under the bright full moon and surrendered my heart to never lightknowing the answers to questions I never asked.  Under the watch of towering pines, I gazed through a fire into the eyes of the person I loved beyond all reason and let go.  I wrote a little about that experience here.  What I remember from it now, this full moon, is how much ease I felt when forgiveness finally rooted in my heart, for myself and everyone else involved in the breaking that led to my becoming.

Occasionally I get caught up in wondering about the becoming of my Self.  What started it?  Was it the breaking of my heart?  I feel, at times, it was most certainly that moment when my becoming started.  But no, by then I had already become a person who could lean in, love beyond reason, forgive, and let my heart break open again and again while love transformed me.  Maybe the unfolding started when I felt loved for the first time, really feeling it root in my bones and become something I was sure of the way I am sure my lungs are working – I don’t have to worry about them, or force them, I just relax and breathe and they work.  I could keep going back in time trying to find the moment of my becoming but the truth is there are a thousand moments that shape who we are, who we will be.

What I do know is somewhere along the way I became someone who loved fiercely and fully.  I became the sappy romantic I used to secretly roll my eyes at.  I realized love is a synonym for God.

I never thought I would become someone who held love as their highest priority.  Much of my life, love was just a word. I had made it to my Saturn return without a lot of fanfare for it.  Then I unraveled and in doing so took down the walls around my heart, destroyed the stories about how love was for suckers, and just let myself be crazy in love.  When it all fell apart, I just kept unraveling.  I found love was something deeper than a relationship.  Love was bigger than a particular set of expressions.  Love could take something away from you and break your heart while, at the same time, giving you something precious and break you open.  I wrote about this for just over a year so I will save you from rehashing the details.

Then I fell in love again – with someone who wasn’t in love with me.  More heartbreak.  This time the unraveling really did feel like I was being undone.  I’ve spent the last few months questioning everything I had come to know about love, myself, my worth, and the goodness of life.

A boy undid me?  Pathetic.  This was ringing in my head for months.  How could a whirlwind romance with a man who was upfront about his lack of emotional availability or interest be strong enough to undo all those powerful lessons from before?  I will tell you how, childhood trauma.  All the old stories of not being good enough, not being worthy, not being lovable came back full force. So I came apart for the past few months.

Sifting through the pieces of this most recent heart break and the spiritual crisis that seemed to accompany it, I saw all the shinning edges again.  I saw another sign post on the journey of becoming.  This beautiful man made my soul sing.  There is no other way to put it.  His voice, his words, his writing, his music, the thought of him, his lips, everything… my soul would just sing.  It was like the song of the Universe lighting me up inside.  A musician, a poet, a preacher, a friend, a lover, a spiritual being – yes, my soul was SINGING.  Sometimes when I think of him, it still does.

Being undone completely, feeling 8 years of personal work slipping away, watching my spiritual practice just stop, watching my depression take over, realizing old patterns of escape were whispering to me all the time was all very terrifying.  All I could see was how far away I am from realizing some other important goals.

Then there was Nahko & Medicine for the People and the medicine of this song.

Suddenly I remembered the power I felt in leaving Arkansas last year, in visualizing a new life for myself by loading everything up and just going.  If I can change huge parts of my life by visualizing, and manifesting, leaving… surely I can visualize and manifest healing.

It’s beginning now… the healing.  I listen to Medicine for the People and sing and dance in my car. I’m finding new ways to set my soul to singing.  I’m still struggling with some darkness but mostly the light is breaking through those jagged edges again.

Rituals, Connection, and Home

I recently traveled to Arkansas to visit my family over spring break.  I think I managed to lake alma waterfallhold on to good, and bring some good with me as well.  My mom and I had good space together and I just let myself behave as though the relationship we have is one that is grounded in love.  We shopped together, we were silly together, and mostly I ignored the parts that didn’t support the narrative I wanted to craft for our week.  It also helped that I scheduled my time so that I had chunks of quality time with her, but also chunks of time with other people I love and miss too.  

I think I brought a sense of acceptance for where we are and a commitment to craft something positive from our trip home no matter what might unfold there.  I am pleased to say much of the trip was positive.  Now I am back in Florida and the good I am holding on to from the trip is one of rituals, connection, and a sense of home being in Florida.

The rituals included a Passover Seder with chosen family and friends.  We drank wine, we spoke of liberation, we ate matzo, and we laughed.  The connection to the Boston Mountains and the Ozark region is still really strong with me.  I had the opportunity to experience a freak hail storm, to bless my hands, feet, and crown in a waterfall, and to put my feet (and heart) on the rocky soil of my home land.

And home…

Edward Sharpe really nailed it when he sang, “home is whenever I’m with you.”  This trip with my daughter was wonderful and often this song makes me think of her.  This time though it really made me think of the self I have created since my move.  I took her back to Arkansas with me and my experience was better for it.

I missed Florida.  I missed the explosion of green, the buzz of work in my congregation, and the simple act of sitting on my screened porch with my dog and a good cup of organic coffee from my french press.


This is a poem written about how body hatred can cheat you out of a fantastic experience. It may be triggering for some.



I asked for the lights out.

Hidden beneath piles of your blankets,

I wasn’t strong enough to let you undress me.

When your hand accidentally pushed the fabric aside

Exposing my stomach to the dark of your room,

I snapped out of the moment with you;

That precious, much anticipated moment,

To clutch the blankets tight around my waist

In apology.


When you looked down the length of me,

I couldn’t look at your face.

I didn’t want to see you struggle to be okay with my body.

In that moment,

I regretted every French fry that has ever touched my lips.

My eyes shut tight, as if I could blank out your view,

I missed the way you gazed at me,

Imagining instead a look of disgust –

Though I have never seen anything less than love on your face.


I lost myself to the moment only once.

Your eyes latched onto mine,

Your hands exploring every curve of me.

I was lost in your gaze

And for a few minutes I could feel you.

I could feel your desire for me,

And I was too lost in your eyes

To deny it.


Words Create Reality

For the last two years I worked the the mantra “lean into love”. It shaped the way I lived my life. Using this mantra as my anchor, I left a 11 year unhappy marriage, moved out on my own for the first time, had my heart broken, learned about acceptance, presence, and forgiveness, and shaped a new reality for myself that included gifting myself a chosen family which is turning out to be very healing for me.

Choosing those words helped me create a reality here love was the boundary. I was able to lean in to discomfort and change.  I leaned in to love being found in unlikely places.  I leaned in to receiving love from the Universe and let go of my attachment to a specific form I thought it should take.  Words are important – they create our reality.

With this in mind, I have decided it is time to deviate from the mantra of “leaning into love” – the work continues, of course. The mantra for now is “holding on to good.”

So much good has come through my life in the past 2+ years.  Still, I have struggled to learn how to hold it.  I too often let the blessings slip through my hands and soon forget they were ever there. I get twisted around what is truly good and what feels good for the moment, but leads to heartache and sickness later on.

What is good?  Well, I don’t know exactly. I think I am still learning about good.  The journey continues – and I’m holding on to good.

Breaking Me

brokenI started leaning into breaking in 2010. Leaning into love, into leaving, into heart ache, into letting my heart-break open from poetry, sermons, meditations, walks in the woods.  I was broken wide open.  The light flooded in and I started changing.  It took a lot of breaking to get light into those places in my heart that had been held back in the shadows for so long.

As spring 2013 approaches, my work is shifting away from the work of leaning in to the breaking and more into leaning into the vision. My vision is grace and hope. In 2010 this “Breaking Me” blog started a journey to explore what love was, what it meant to be heartbroken, what it meant to be okay with breaking and leaning in deeper.  That work continues and from time to time will surface here in my writing. The work I wish to bring more fully to this space is the work of exploring grace, cultivating the beloved within, hope, and manifesting the vision I hold for my life.

It was nearly a year ago when the shift in my work really began. Last May I dug deep into Earth work, started a new career, and moved 1000 miles from my home.  The work continues as I learn to reshape and rebuild a new life. I have felt pregnant with a newness for my life, troubled with a complicated and stressful labor of liberating myself from invisible shackles, and finally I feel I have arrived.

With intention, I’ve changed the look of this blog.  The photograph at the top was taken by me in downtown Baltimore – a place I feel is one of many homes to my heart.    I’ve been photographing signs mentioning grace for over a year.  This sign, a church sign, reads “The Grace & Hope Mission.”  Yes! I feel like this is my personal mission right now.

I am cultivating the Beloved within.  I am revitalizing my life with hope.  I am manifesting a vision for my life. I am letting love be the boundary and grace be the gift.

“I do not understand the mystery of grace — only that it meets us where we are and does not leave us where it found us.”  – Anne Lamott


Day 17 ProphetThe word for yesterday was prophet.  I began my day with coffee and Rumi.  Rumi strikes me as a prophet of love.  He writes about divine love, but also writes about a passionate, sexual, romantic love.  Many believe Rumi and his teacher Shams were lovers.  This line of thought is somewhat controversial.  One thing is certain – Rumi let love flow through his words.  In the following piece we see passion, romance, and divine love in Rumi’s words.

Like This – Rumi

If someone asks,

“What does perfect beauty look like?”

Show him your own face and say,

Like this.


If someone asks,

“What does a full moon look like?”

Climb to the highest rooftop and yell,

Like this.


If someone asks,

“What does an angel’s wing look like?” – smile.

If he asks about divine fragrance

Pull him close, his face in your hair,

Like this.


If someone asks,

“How did Jesus bring the dead back to life?” –

Don’t say a word –

Just kiss him softly on the cheek,

Like this.


If someone asks,

“How does it feel to be slain by love?”

Close your eyes and tear open your shirt,

Like this.


If someone asks about my stature,

Stare into space with your eyes wide open,

Like this.


The soul enters one body, then another,

If someone argues about this

Enter my house and wave him good-bye,

Like this.


Whenever a lover cries out

He is telling our story

And God bends down to listen,

Like this.


I am the storehouse of all pleasure,

I am the pain of self-denial.

To see me, lower your eyes to the ground

Then raise them up to heaven,

Like this.


Only the gentle breeze

Knows the secret of union.

Listen as it whispers a song to every heart,

Like this.


If someone asks,

How does a servant attain the glory of God?

Become the shining candle

That every eye can see,

Like this.


I asked about Joseph’s perfume

Which rode the wind from city to city –

If was your scent

Blowing in from God’s perfect world,

Like this.


I asked how Joseph’s perfume

Gave sight to the blind –

It was your breeze

Clearing the darkness from my eyes,

Like this.


Perhaps Shams will be generous

And fill our hearts with love.

Perhaps he will raise one eyebrow

And cast us a glance,

Like this.



Day 16 EarthlyEarthly – the word inspires images of what it means to me to work with the Earth.  In my tradition we use the Green Cube as our tool in the North, the direction we associate with the element Earth. We also work with an energy tool called the Iron Pentacle.  I placed the pentacle on this Earth altar because iron is in the core of the earth and in our blood.

In my personal practice much of my Earth work is rooted in death.  What does it mean to let something die? What does it mean to cull? How can we sit with that which lies fallow? Can we find beauty in the potential of the compost, made of us dead and rotting matter?  I collect bones when I find them.  On this altar there are various bones found in fields, likely from cattle.  There is half of a jaw from what I am guessing is an opossum. The full skull is from a raccoon.

The rock slab was picked up on my favorite river bank in the Ozarks.  Resting on top of the rock is a talon taken from a dead bird. There is a deer antler from a deer hunted by a friend of mine and a crystal dug up from the earth in Arkansas by my aunt.  The black casket contains graveyard dust and a piece of cotton from Arkansas.  This was the invitation one year to my friend’s annual black feast – a feast we hold at Samhain to honor our ancestors and the cycles of death.

I know for many people the earth inspires thoughts of birth: babies born, spring time buds, beautiful colors, animals frolicking and mating.  This is all earthly and important.  I have always been more drawn to the unseen and the uncomfortable.  For me, the earth is where we return in death.  While living, her cycles of death, leading to new life, have much to teach us.

Cover, Lift, Hear

I am playing a little bit of catch up with the Lenten photo a day project.  So here are my photos for the past several days.

Day 13 CoverDay 13: COVER

This is the view just outside my apartment door when you look up to the sky.  These two towering pines stand guard outside our bedroom windows.  When doing work with the book The 12 Wild Swans, I made pine an ally.  It has served me well.  I have sung morning prayers to neighboring pines, grieved when the crown came down from my pine in the ice storm a few years back, cried under Georgia pines in full moon light, and come to think of them as guardians.  They tower like a blanket, like a cover overhead.  Though now that I am in Florida I am learning about pine pollen and my allergies have been feeling a little less fond of Pine.

Day 14: LIFTDay 14 Lift

This chalice was made by my mentor and friend, Rev. Kerry Mueller.  It moves around my house but typically resides on the dining table where it is lit before each evening meal. This ritual of chalice lighting is uplifting, connecting me to other Unitarian Universalists and bringing the sacred to our meal times.  It is even more uplifting lighting this particular chalice.

When I see this chalice I think of Kerry and Dave and the friendship and guidance they have given me this past 5 years. I also know my best friend owns a similar chalice made by Kerry and I delight in knowing 1000 miles away her family is lighting their chalice as they gather for super.  It lifts my heart.  It also lifts my voice. We read our chalice lighting from the hymnal, we say a prayer, or sometimes we sing a song. The flame lifts up as a sign of hope and love.  In these brief moments of reverence and ritual, we lift up our UU values and the value of family.

Day 15 HearDay 15: HEAR

The song in my heart sings to me about love, music, poetry, forgiveness, the mystical, the transcendent.  This guitar represents a deep longing I have had for some time.  When I took a leap and moved to Gainesville, this guitar was the first thing I purchased.  I found it in a thrift store for $15.  It has only been in the last week I started trying to learn to play.  I struggle to get my hands to curve correctly around the neck, but I am sticking with it.  In my heart, I hear myself finally writing music to the countless bodies of poetry and song lyrics I have been writing for years.  

The metal star resting at the base says something different. This star was a gift from a sweet friend.  This friend has taught me a lot about what it means to extend trust, honor connection, and build a different kind of family. I hear a new story forming in my personal narrative about what these things mean. The shape of this star reminds me of multiple merkabahs merging together – worlds beyond worlds.  I hear voices beyond the veil, I bring them forth, I honor the gifts I’ve been given.

Vision – Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou with Leah on the lawnI saw Maya Angelou speak tonight.  Granted, I was outside on the lawn starring at her on a screen, though I suspect it was a better view than that of many of the 1700 people inside.  I cried the entire hour she spoke, sometimes sobbing aloud while sending up prayers of help us, thank you, and wow.

I cannot explain why listening to this 83 year old black poet makes me feel as though I have come home and am sitting with my people.  I have white skin and grew up with a helluva lot more privilege because of it, but when she said she never refers to her hair as “nappy,” because that means nasty, but always insists it is curly and beautiful, it touched me.  I grew up with curls in a family of straight haired folks.  They loved my hair and never considered it ugly, though almost everyone I went to school with did.  I straightened it for years.

Her message tonight was can be summed up in three points:

  1. There are rainbows in the clouds.
  2.  You have already been paid for.
  3.  Learn poetry, memorize it, it is yours – especially learn the poems of African Americans.

She said God did not just put a rainbow in the sky, he put rainbows in the clouds.  She talked at length about all the rainbows in her life that made who she is today possible.  SheDay 12 Vision said these rainbows already paid for us all.  She spoke of the price paid by all people, all of our ancestors for all of us.  She spoke at length about the price paid by black ancestors who were here against their will, who underwent enormous pain to support a family.  She said we were all already paid for and we deserved to have the blessings in our lives. She also said we were all rainbows in the clouds for someone else.

This is a woman of VISION.  She comes from people with vision.  After being raped at 7 years old, she quit speaking.  She overheard the police say her abuser had been kicked to death and somehow thought her yelling out, her voice itself had killed him.  She did not speak for 6 years to anyone except her brother.  Somehow she knew that her love for her brother was so deep it would protect him from the terribly power of her voice.  People talked about her, rather than to her, and said she was ignorant.  Her grandma did not.  Her grandmother told her when the Lord is ready, you’ll speak and you are going to be a teacher.  Her grandma was right.  Dr. Angelou credited her uncle, her brother, her grandmother and many others with her life’s achievements.  Her rainbows in the clouds had a vision of what she could do.

It was also quite a vision to see approximately 300 people sitting outside in the cold, crying and laughing together.