Category Archives: Writing


January 21, 2015

52 Weeks / Writing

image One of my goals for 2015 is to spend more time writing. Therefore I started the 52 Weeks Project, a project in which I post one short piece I have recently written every Wednesday in 2015.

It sits, perched in a glass vase, a hyacinth bulb in bloom. The roots of the bulb are stark white, completely visible as they dangle in water. The bulb is fat, with peeling aubergine paper that tans and peels at the edges. The stalk grows bright yellow-green from the bulb, darkening to deep green at the edge of the leaves, and a plethora of purple-blue flowers, like dozens of tiny stars, burst from the tall stem.

Like bulbs buried in the ground, our roots often stay hidden under dirt. Each of our roots is a memory, a piece of our past, a regret or a victory. Packed tightly into the ground, surrounded by dark earth, they are safe. These are the roots that feed us, that make us who we are, that help us to bring forth flowers.

There is a part of me that wants to keep my roots hidden deep in the soil. Can I pretend certain ones don’t exist? Can’t I imagine those things didn’t happen to me, that I didn’t happen to them? I don’t want to see that part of me, that uncomfortable bit; I don’t want to think on it, or give it a once over with a fine-toothed comb. But the roots are there. They can’t be detached from.

If I don’t learn from the past, my trials-and-errors, if all I do is scoop more dirt onto the mound, perpetually nervous that my embarrassments or mistakes might be exposed, then I live in fear. We have to allow our roots to boldly shape us.

What if today we sit down and test our soil, decipher its contents, and begin untangling our roots? Eventually we can mix in some fertilizer, add mulch. We could use some fresh water, and air—room to breathe. But for today, let’s begin to look at each root, one-by-one.

Let’s sit down in the garden and dig, just a little. Every day we’ll go a little deeper; the farther we dig, the more tangled the roots will be. And they will be packed, battered and bruised, thinning at the tips. Press on anyway.

If we do, we can test the acidity of the soil. We will find out what nutrients are lacking. We will see the strong roots that helped bring forth so many flowers. When we come upon particularly tender roots, we can pour into them love, kindness, gentleness, and hope. We can remember that each and every root helped shape us. We can let the embarrassment, the anger, the sadness of the roots subside.

With time, our roots will grow deeper, stronger; new roots will emerge. We will expand and multiply, and bring forth many more flowers, more than are even imaginable. But first, we must dig.


January 14, 2015

52 Weeks / Writing

BigBearWeddingFamilyPhotography-16 One of my goals for 2015 is to spend more time writing. Therefore I started the 52 Weeks Project, a project in which I post one short piece I have recently written every Wednesday in 2015.

A few people I knew passed on this week.

A father.
A friend’s mother.
A 39 year-old teacher who taught at my high school.

What is it that we do in these moments? I will write it down so that the next time I am searching I will remember.

To start, we recall good things about those who passed. Funny memories, lovely memories. We hold someone’s hand. We make a friend a cup of tea, and are present with them when they weep. Or perhaps we are the ones weeping, cradling an un-drunk mug. We spend extra time hugging our loved ones, and memorizing the lines of their faces.

We think repeatedly, “I’m so sorry you died.”

And then we simply let our hearts ache in grief. What else can we do? We let it come in and overwhelm us like a powerful ocean wave, again and again, until we are all that is left, raw and bare on the shore.

I wish we lived in a world in which great fathers and sweet mothers and talented teachers and wonderful people didn’t die, that every loss of wild and beautiful life was only something we dreamt in the night.


Yesterday I hung photos on a wall in our home. Many photos, an entire wall full, all of the same subject—me and my husband. On our wedding day, canoeing on the lake, playing with our dogs. We’re caught in a thunderstorm, inside a photo booth, laughing.

When I finished hammering the last nail, when I finished placing the final image, I stood back and really looked. I reached out and rested my fingers on a wooden frame. Inside the frame, happiness is there, in my husband’s eyes, in my smile as wide as the moon.


January 7, 2015

52 Weeks / Writing

BigBearWeddingFamilyPhotography-22 One of my goals for 2015 is to spend more time writing. Therefore I am starting the 52 Weeks Project, a project in which I will post one short piece I have recently written every Wednesday in 2015.

After yesterday’s storm, we have a good nine inches of snow on the ground. The snow began falling in the early afternoon—at first in tiny, glittery flakes that floated down through the trees like dust settling on the earth. Later the flakes turned larger, wetter; giant sticky snowfall that came down and sideways, blizzard-like. This morning the beauty of tall pines coated in white greets my eyes, a magical sight.

It’s falling now, too–the snow. I’m watching it through the window in all of its silent glory. It comes in soft whisps, floating gently downward, landing softly, quietly on the ground.

We have a neighbor in the cabin next door, an old widow who curses the winter and the cold. People in the community take care of her in various ways during the season—shoveling her driveway, stacking her woodpile, retrieving her mail for her, offering friendly smiles and gestures on a daily basis. Despite these warm extensions of kindness, she sees nothing but the cold, the dormant, the dead of winter.

Just now a black-feathered bird jetted through the trees, finding shelter beneath a snow-covered branch. In this moment I remember our choice in life—to allow the harshness of the world to brittle us to our core, or to choose to see the magic, the life moving beneath the cold.