Holding Time Gently


Here is how I usually feel that I am dealing with my time: My days/hours are laid out in specifically shaped or metered boxes, like a weekly pill container. Each box is colored differently and I have roughly 18 “pills” of time in my hand with which to fill them (because I honestly need at least 5-6 hours to sleep or I’m just not functional). And so I count out my hours into the boxes – Work, Family, Home Care, Errands, Cooking, Listening, Driving, etc. I try, try, TRY to hold back a few bits of time just for me: things like reading, writing, taking a long hot bath, exercising, devotional time, and naps. But there’s usually something “more important” that requires doing. I am rubbish at asking for help of any kind, and so my self-care ends up getting shoved into a really short amount of time and not feeling like self-care really at all. Usually it’s me sitting on the couch after the almost nightly battle to get my daughter to bed, too tired to think, much less read or write.

I feel as though I am grasping at time, holding onto it for dear life, lamenting that there is not more of it as it slips through my fingers. Like sand, it leaves behind only tiny grains, minuscule bits of itself that don’t seem to amount to much of anything. But that is not true of sand, is it? Though its individual grains are minute, all together they create vast deserts and snow-white beaches and ocean floors that stretch on for uncountable miles. All of that is those tiny bits and pieces, not on their own but together. Perhaps I have been holding my time so tightly that I am looking at it wrongly. While my introverted soul yearns for extended blocks of retreat and refreshment, I should not–must not— discount the small pockets of time with which I am gifted, even if they are very small.

A few nights ago, I gifted myself the time involved to take a hot shower with all the lavender amenities. It boosted my spirit and refilled some of my dwindling spoon drawer to feel fresh, clean, soft, and have such a soothing scent wafting around me. It was only half an hour but there was intention behind it. The intention of care and refreshment for myself, of aloneness and quiet, even if just for a little while. It was not a week-long isolated retreat but it did help, that one half-hour.

Last year, I wrote about (and even gave a commencement speech on) not discounting the value of smallness. How fitting that here I am, a year later, reminding myself of this very oh-so-important lesson, when my own well-being and all-around health hang in the balance.

Fifteen minutes of exercise may not be the hour-long gym workouts that I was used to doing when I was a SAHM but it is something.

Ten minutes to read before bed isn’t finishing a book in a day as I did of old but it is something.

“Tea-Time Quite-Time” with my daughter isn’t an afternoon alone in a coffee shop but those quiet moments together of both of us watching the lovely “Sarah & Duck” with our tea before bedtime are something.

Putting my earbuds in of a Sunday afternoon and turning on my rain app isn’t spending a whole sleepy, rainy day in bed but dozing amidst those soothing sounds for a little while is something.

Friends, I am learning to hold my time more gently, to remember and admit that the small bits I can get, that stick here and there can indeed be helpful, refreshing, and sustaining. And, bit by bit, those fragments add up, just as grains of sand, together, can create a vast, beautiful landscape. If you are walking this path of learning and viewpoint shifting, I want to encourage you. We can be gentler with ourselves, gentler with our time and the realities of our lives. Sometimes our realities do not have space for week-long retreats for our soul. We can still find rest in the small moments, brief though they may be. A shut bedroom door (or closet door even). A second cup of coffee. Ten minutes with a book or video game or podcast. We can find those little grains of time that will add up to refreshment for us. Trust me, I wish us all extended time to rest and relax but, until then, I’ll be gently collecting grains alongside you.

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When a Smile is Needed


It’s the Thursday of Spring Break. Only a few more days of relative freedom. So why am I smiling, you ask? Because I NEED to smile. This week has been gray and largely low-feeling, especially at night. Not the best headspace for Spring Break. I’m off but everyone else is not. There are responsibilities that keep us at home and unable to drive to/stay out late with friends of an evening. Grading waits menacingly on my kitchen table like a sword of Damocles dangling over my head. So I NEED to smile today. I need to remember the good.

*My daughter in my floppy sunhat and her heart-shaped sunglasses ready for her “beach party” at preschool

*Kisses and “I love you’s” from my husband

*Unexpected, wonderful time with friends

*Reading, writing, and nap time in a quiet house

*Often-read Scripture verses touching my heart with new relevance and encouragement

*Rain pattering on my window panes and thunder growling and purring through the clouds

Today I need to remember the good. Today I need to smile. Today I need to choose the good, choose contentment. Today I need determination over motivation. Happiness is not just a happening today; today it needs to be a decision, a choice for me.

So here’s a smile. I hope it helps yours along, too, dear one.

 

Shadows Out and Beyond


Author’s Note: This is a creative writing for my X-men rpg (roleplay game) original character, Betsy Martin, based on the events in the film “Logan”. In the rpg I am a part of, Logan is Betsy’s mentor, teacher, and alpha; I knew that, after seeing this film, I was going to need to write her way out of all the feelings. This writing contains spoilers for the film so…read at your own risk, darlings.

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Treating Valentine’s Day Gently


Yesterday was that most celebrated and simultaneously dreaded and reviled of days: Valentine’s Day. I know some people who love it, others who disagree with it, boycott it, or downright hate it, all for different and likely very valid reasons. I personally don’t mind it. It gives me an excuse to do what I enjoy doing anyway: letting people know that they are cared for, loved, and appreciated.

In college, I bought carnations from one of the sororities and had them sent around campus to my friends. I snuck around dorms, leaving parcels of fresh-baked cookies or sliding cards under doors.

Nowadays, I send letters and cards through the mail, few to none of them necessarily red or pink or covered in hearts. I sometimes send flowers, goodie/snack baskets, books, or coveted t-shirts.

This year, I bought my husband a card about cuddling up and binge-watching our favorite show, along with a copy of the latest season of “The Big Bang Theory” so we could do just that. He bought me a DVD of a show that I have been looking forward to, too. I bought my daughter some cute outfits for her first Valentine’s Day party at preschool and a card with a spring-loaded heart inside, which she played with and covered in stickers all evening.

Yes, the day has become commercialized. Yes, the keeping of it has become social expectation. Yes, some people try to front-load affection, love, kindness, etc., and then let it lapse the rest of the year.

For some, this day is a day of bitter memory, of hurts tied not to the day itself but to the events of one or several Valentine’s Days. Unfortunately, over time, those bitter cords have attached themselves to the day itself. The circumstances have perhaps faded into oblivion, leaving only the day to stand as a bastion of misery and thus worthy of boycotting.

Again, people’s reasons are valid and they are free to do as they will.

For me, I choose to approach Valentine’s with the thought of, “Whose heart can I gentle today?”

Whose heart can I make smile today?

Who can I remind that they are loved today?

Who needs a reminder of the good that they have done that I’m grateful for?

Who could just use a kind word on what might be a lonely day?

For me, Valentine’s Day isn’t an obligation, it isn’t a burden. It’s an opportunity–for love, for encouragement, for gentleness. But that’s just the way I see it.

I hope yours was good to you.

Moments in Magical Modernity: VIII (or, The Silver Lady’s Acolyte)


Author’s Note (2/22/17):  The idea that this piece belongs with the rest of the Magical Modernity entries has not let me go, not since I first published it. And so I am succumbing to it and will now count this lovely moment amongst my other glimpses into a world where magic is everyday but still so very…well…magical.

VIII.

The sun blazed its way to its cradle in a conflagration of amethyst, coral, and rose, stark and dragon-breath bright against the indigo of the coming night. This breath of celestial fire found her bathing in a lake on a ridge. The water ran in rivulets over soft skin and rained in droplets from fingertips as gold spread over the surface of the lake. As the burning gradually died away and the indigo velvet cloaked the sky, the stars found her amidst the trees. The blue-white light spilling from the Silver Lady’s train lit on firm, supple skin, a graceful curve here, a soft roundness there. As the light scattered over her, she basked in it, breathed it in like oxygen itself. She could feel the gold begin to shimmer in her hair as she basked in the blessing of the Silver Lady. She began to move through the woods, the scent of spring blossom thick and heady in the early spring night.

As the Kitsune moved, picking up speed along the forest floor, moon-spangled skin gave way to golden softness. Pale fingers became strong black paws, five gorgeous flowing tails trailing out behind her. Scents and sounds became sharp and heady, the very scent of moonlight filling her nose to the point of euphoria. As large as a direwolf, with a coat that splashed sunset fire and paws that threw up stars where they met earth, she ran and yelped, howled and leaped, stretching her nose and fanning her tails in obeisance and for the Silver Lady’s delight.

The first spring full moon, the air full of blossoms and new life, the many-tailed fox ran free in the blue-white light.

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Moments in Magical Modernity: VII


VII.

On Sunday mornings, the silvery peal of church bells can be heard ringing out over the city, calling to the devout and the believers, the lost and the hungry.  Places of worship fill with those who arrived weary and leave with beatific faces. But the churches are not the only places filled with the faithful, human and magical alike.

In a small apartment, an aged, bent, great grandmother sprinkles salt over and lights a warm candle near the lovingly-framed photographs of her children and grandbabies. Salt and light.

In a bare-branched, snowy copse, a frost fairy etches designs in ice on the ancient trees. Runes of renewal, healing, community, the hearth. With delicate fingers, she arranges jeweled webs, diamine dream catchers, between spindly branches stretched towards a winter-blue sky.

On star-hidden nights, silver-threaded, constellation-shot, blue velvet is hung over the beds of gargoyle children, folded snugly in their wings, so they know they are seen, loved, and protected by the skies they will soar.

Small groups gather in the warmth of the Hollow to talk about God and truth, faith and practice and impact. Pearla fills coffee mugs and tea cups, and Kingsley provides dishes of soup that warm hearts and open souls. Under the Hollow’s peaceful roof, debates are held, disagreements acknowledged, insights shared, and hearts encouraged. Souls often leave a little lighter, hooves, paws, feet, and wings moving a bit more briskly, and hands and hearts feeling maybe just a little fuller.

Hold But Gently


A year ago, I posted an article about seeing others and being seen by others and just what such a venture takes on either/both sides of the mirror. As I thought about that in the context of gentleness, I realized just how much that it [gentleness] is also a requirement of seeing and being seen.

In order to see others in their all, in their good and their bad, in their not enough and too much, we need to be willing to hold them gently, hold them loosely. We need to allow them to tremble and shudder but remain near. We need to not hold them too tightly but still stay close in their hard. Not to squeeze too firmly but to let them step back and breathe when they need to do so. To see someone, we must hold them gently and let them know that they are safe, un-judged, and free to be themselves, whatever that may mean.

Gentleness also goes hand-in-hand with being seen. In order to be seen, we need to be gentle with ourselves. We need to allow ourselves to believe that, yes, someone does in fact want to be a friend to our flawed self. Yes, someone does in fact care, and, no, we are not being a burden on their lives. They care about and love us and we can at least show ourselves enough gentleness to let them.

Being seen is frightening and dangerous. Let’s hold ourselves gently in our fear, reminding ourselves that rejection, though it will hurt if it happens, it will not be the end of us. We may be busted but we won’t be broken beyond repair. We may be hurt but not beyond healing. On the other side, we may find ourselves met with arms wide open and our heart cradled gently in loving hands. It is always the chance we take and the hope we harbor: being seen and accepted.

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