Scribbles

I used to be an open book, held out for the world to read.

Then people scribbled all over the pages. They wrecked the story I was creating, the art I was living.

So I began to hold my book closely, closed, clutching it to my chest. Protected.

Eventually, I began to feel lonely. What is the point of a story if no one reads it? How interesting is art if no one contributes to it but the artist?

My freshman year of high school, a classmate, a known prankster, took a notebook of mine and scribbled on the first twelve pages; he wasn’t being malicious, just being a freshman boy. So, I started taking my notes on page thirteen.

Over the course of the semester, my dear friend, who is a wonderful artist, drew an picture out of every scribble. They were creative, inspired, and delightful.

I still have that notebook thirty years later. And it still makes me smile when I look through it.

That is how I am going to live my story.

I will no longer hold my book close to me; I will dare to open it up to the world again and revisit the freedom, the innocence, the exuberance of youth.

There will be hurt, that is guaranteed, but I will take each scribble, whether it is malicious or unintential, and see what shapes I can find within it, discover what can created from it, and make my own unique art out of it.

And when I doubt myself, I’ll pull out my old freshman notebook and smile, remembering something inspired and delightful can be created from every scribble.

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Smiling Into The Sun

In the north, our summers are short and the winters long, so when the sun peeks out from behind the clouds, it is essential we turn our faces towards it, slow down, and enjoy the warmth it brings (even if there’s still two feet of snow on the ground!). Taking time to notice and appreciate those sweet moments of contentment help us become happier beings in this tumultuous world; they can help us enjoy our journey here more.

When we turn our faces toward the sun, the shadows fall behind us. We can still know the shadows are there; we just don’t focus on them.

If you have a moment when you enjoy the warmth on your cheeks after a long, cloudy week, please share it. Maybe it was a kind word from a stranger, a smile from a neighbor, or someone paid for your coffee for no reason at all. Maybe you worked out (finally!) or had a day where you just felt fantastic. Those moments happen more than we notice. Let’s pay attention. And by sharing them, we can bask in the glow of each other’s sunshine.

Post your good moments here–those worth remembering, worth celebrating, worth sharing.

Or post a picture of yourself smiling into the sun.

Spread the warmth.

What We’ve Lost & What We Keep

Something is missing. It has been neglected, lost, forgotten.

This something was so important to us as children, so important to our life’s purpose, so undeniably a part of our story that we thought we would never forget it, never stop wanting it. Yet in order for us to be productive, responsible members of society it had to be pushed away, pushed down, pushed aside, from the main focus of life to simple fantasy.

Didn’t it?

And it’s been so long since we’ve thought about that something, that dream, that it’s hard to remember it now. With each passing moment of the daily routine it’s more difficult to feel the joy of wanting it.

What was it again?

It tugs at our sleeves like a child wanting attention, a child who still remembers, who still lives in the place where all things are possible. A child who still believes dreams are attainable.

What was it again?

Someplace inside of us is empty.

Some people have this realization and throw everything out the window–divorcing their spouses, quitting their jobs, cutting ties with friends and leaving town at a run. For them, it’s the only way they can find what they are missing; they keep nothing of the lives they’ve built, even that which is good. They must start from scratch. Many don’t know what they’re running towards, only what they are running from–the emptiness within them. Others know what they are running toward–a life more authentic to their true self. They run with the wind at their backs, leaving nothing behind except footsteps in the sand.

But, what if we don’t want to give up the life we’ve created?  Can we run with the wind at our backs toward everything we have ever wanted, while still loving and appreciating the precious things we want to keep?

I believe we can.

We don’t have to leave our lives behind to find the part of us that was undeniable, the part that burned and refused to take no for an answer. Instead, we can add those youthful dreams back into our lives, one by one, softly, with love and tender care, or fiercely, with passion and sheer life-force. We can slow down and respectfully decline to do things which do not serve our life’s purpose. We can cut down those mundane routines, allowing dust to build a little higher on the furniture, allowing items to remain unchecked on our lists. Perhaps we can quit making lists all together. We can let go of insecurities that have held us back.

We can promise to honor those dreams, making them a priority, allowing the joy of wanting them to again fill our hearts until it is overspilling with the exuberance of youth.

And eventually, we will remember.

New seed
is faithful.
It roots deepest
in the places
that are
most empty.
    – C.P. Estes

Noseprints

If you are a pet owner, you know about nose prints.

They show up on your patio doors, windows, windshield — anywhere your pet decides it’s interesting to watch the world outside. When you have more than one pet, you can tell whose nose prints are whose by how high they are off the floor. Sometimes they’re wet and smudgy, so you know there’s been a lot of snorting and barking going on, and other times they are perfect impressions, like the heart-shaped nose prints the cat leaves on the bay window.

I’ve tried to keep up with cleaning nose prints, but as soon as I wipe them away, they’re back. Sometimes I forget about them, or don’t notice them until a whole strip of window is covered and I think, ‘didn’t I just clean that?’ It seemed to be a never-ending battle, then…

A few years ago, we lost both of our dogs in a short span of time. The first dog, Adora, was sixteen and had been our ball dog, always wanting to fetch, always carrying a ball around the house. She would catch balls bounced off the garage roof, swim after them in the lake, and dig through the snow to find them. Because of her, we went outside every day, rain, shine, or snow. She was an Australian Shepard mix, and though her name was Adora, we mostly called her Ora, Dee Dee, or by her rapper name, Doggie-D.

Our other dog, Jackson, was a black lab/shepherd mix who took off hats, no matter what kind. When someone came over with baseball hat, a winter cap, anything, he would gingerly step his front paws into their lap, gently take off the hat, then hand it back to the owner with a big wag of his tail.

If you rubbed the side of Jackson’s face, just along the whiskers, he made a snarly face like Elvis. He also barked at the bust of Elvis our friends had at their house, so we called him the Elvis-spotting dog. We also called him Bilbo Beggins, Mookie Bobo, The Black Panter and many, many more.

Jackson died somewhat quickly of kidney failure at only nine years old. He’d been losing weight, but since we’d just lost Adora we didn’t realize he was sick. We just thought he was sad; that he missed her. She’d been there since the day we brought him home from the animal shelter at ten weeks old.

We gave him water infusions under the skin. We gave him medicine. He threw up a lot. The fur on his face turned gray. We did our best to save him, but in a short amount of time he faded away.

After he was gone, whenever I would sit in the living room I would see those nose prints on the patio door. He would never make another. He would never ask to go out again. He would never press his nose up against that door, transfixed, watching the fat squirrels run across the top of the fence in the back yard.

Never.

For months I couldn’t bring myself to wash them off, and neither could my husband. I would run my fingers across them and think to myself that I would wash nose prints off windows all day long just to have him back. All day and all night.

I look at everything I love from that perspective now. All things we love leave nose prints.

I love where I live but the winters are so darn long and cold — nose print. My husband is amazing, but never fills the ice cube trays — nose print. He lets it go that I leave my socks all over the house, just like those pesky nose prints.

We need to learn to let the small things go, because in the great scheme of things, it isn’t what really matters. What matters is that we love what we love while we have the chance. Everything else is just nose prints.

For a long time after losing our dogs, the thought of getting another dog made us feel miserable and guilty. No dog would be able to compare. We would never love another dog like we had loved those two.

I still think that’s true, no one will ever love two pets the same way; because no two pets are the same.

And by loving them we are not the same.

When we decided to get another dog, we needed something different, so we found someone who had a litter of ‘oops’ puppies, and brought home a four pound mini-dachshund. Then we began another journey with another set of nose prints, this time much daintier and much closer to the floor.

After many months I finally wiped those tall nose prints off the patio door.

They returned in full force a year later, when we rescued another mini-dachshund, Frank, who was two years old. He’s a bit taller than Penny, so now we have two parallel nose print lines across the bottom of the patio door, one a slight bit higher than the other.

And I can’t express how much I love seeing them there.