"Whatever you think you can do, or believe you can do, begin it, because action has magic, grace, and power in it." Goethe


Friday’s Five

I booked a flight to visit my daughter in Amsterdam  and  Maastricht. 

It was a fairly quick decision and a good one. I’ll never forget the joy of that trip and the people and experiences associated with it.

I filled journal pages on the way home with images. Reminders of those days. 

My first grandchild came thirteen days early, but she was considerate enough to wait until I returned back home to the states.

I hold her. That little baby…

Over and over, I write words of thanksgiving in my journal. Thanksgiving that I have these days  to fly or stay home.

To see my daughter in her element, happy and confident. Beautiful.

To see my son hold his newborn daughter. And hand her to me to hold.

To realize we do not have to explain anything to anyone. The emotions of living are so complex, so competing at times. I do well to accept them as they come without expectation. It really is what it is. 

We get this one life, friends. Embrace it. Live it. Reach out to people and listen to their stories.

Smile at them.

Understand you don’t have to answer to anyone here. You really don’t. You are free. Live that freedom.


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Blog Anniversary #3

Funny how dates have a way of imprinting themselves into our minds.

I recall this day three years ago very well. I remember a decision to start blogging. A trip to Shreveport with my family where we ended up at a bookstore and a book on blogging found me almost immediately. I remember the decision to blog daily for a year.

I could not have known what the future years would bring and if this intermittent writing would matter at all three years out. But, it does matter because I am still here and still writing. A lot has changed in three years. I promised myself not to read back over the previous July 23 blog entries until I finished writing this one. I wanted to record where I am and where I hope to go in the next year without looking back at what I hoped for then.

I am widowed now, and I certainly did not see that coming three years ago. My daily blogging almost got sidelined during the heart wrenching news of a cancer diagnosis and fight. Somehow, though, I kept writing. I think I knew that of all times that the words mattered, it was then. I have not reread a lot of what I wrote during those days, but someday I will. it gives me a sense of peace to know that those days were recorded, however haphazardly. There is evidence on many journal pages, notepads, calendar squares, blog entries, and random pieces of paper that those days mattered enough to make marks on a page. Some of the marks were desperate. Some were incoherent. Some were detailed and poignant. All of them matter.

Our words and our place here in this time are part of something much bigger.

After I met my self imposed requirement to blog daily for a year, I moved to weekly blogging–mainly listing a group of gratitude entries on Fridays–five reasons I was grateful. I am glad I did that. Gratitude is a powerful feeling and it leads to more good.

Then, along the way, I was aware that I was not blogging as much. I was still writing though. I don’t think I have missed many days at all in the last three years. I am not centered when I am not writing. It is a gift I give myself every single day, sometimes many times a day.

Writing is the emptying of my mind. It gives my thoughts and words a place to go, outside of my mind. I can leave those marks on a page and know I don’t have to remember the newest thoughts unless I choose to–they are safely recorded and can be retrieved at any time.

Nowadays, I follow a fairly strict routine in the mornings. Coffee in hand, I begin my day with a journal and a prayer book. I begin by emptying my mind onto the page. Sometimes that means dreams are documented. Sometimes it means listing all the events of the previous day, or plans for the current one. Often, I find myself writing two different things–my entry, plus the random day-to-day tasks that constantly compete for my attention. I call this “double journaling” and almost every time I sit to write, it happens. I embace that as part of my process.

I still do not reread much of what I write, but lately, I am drawn to do just that. I feel a book is in the making, a piece that is beginning to take a more definite shape as time goes on. Maybe by this time next year, I will have the draft complete.

Reading is a central part of my days, and I am thankful to have a book club group as well as family and friends who also like to discuss and read books.

Poetry is more important than ever, and I keep discovering new poets and continue to be delighted by the combination of words that are possible. So much joy in the art of poetry…

What will the next year bring? Well, three years ago I couldn’t know I’d be redefining my life in so many ways. I am now on my own, a retiree who still works part time, an artist (who just had her first piece accepted to a juried show!), a writer, a tutor, an English professor and a field supervisor for student teachers, an etsy shop owner. AND a grandma to be. That blessing will join us in mid to late August, and our lives will change yet again.

Art is an important part of my day, too, and I find that my writing and art are beginning to merge in new and interesting ways. I hope to follow where they lead in the coming year and answer the call to create.

There are many goals I hope to meet in the coming year. I am starting a spiritual direction program next month, and I hope that through the reading and writing I do for those classes, I will become more centered on what matters. Us. All of us. We matter.

We have a responsibility to create an environment for ourselves where we can flourish. That means something different to everyone. For me, it means slowing down, practicing tried and true routines, taking walks, cooking, playing with dogs, making art, surrounding myself with “people on the way” and recognizing that we are all in each other’s lives for a reason we may not ever get to know. But I do know it is not coincidence. There is a bigger reason and here we are, part of it.

I know blogging will remain an important part of my journey because it is a place I meet myself on the page and try to figure out what it is I am doing and where I hope to go. I know I want to make a difference for others. I am not sure exactly what that means yet, but I know I will discover the answer through the gifts God gave me. I am determined to use those gifts for His glory in the years ahead.

Thank you for being part of my journey. I am not sure where it will lead, but I am looking forward to finding out.


International Widows Day: My Part in Raising Awareness

I follow Modern Widows Club on Facebook and learn about challenges and opportunities for widows around the world. This is not a club I ever knew existed pre-widow life, but I am glad that it exists. It is a place people on the widowed life journey can go when they seek information, reassurance, solace, and a network of people who walk a similar walk on this road through life.

I certainly didn’t know there was a Widow Awareness Day. Apparently, it is today. June 23. I bet a lot of people don’t know that either. Truly, I don’t need a day set aside. Believe me, I’m well aware of widowhood and all its intricacies. However, some people DO need a day (plus more) set aside. They are living in societies where widowhood is treated like a disease, like it is something that they brought upon themselves and should be punished for or cast out.

The times we live in are interesting. What the hell is wrong with people? I guess that is one of the repeating questions of my life.

The word widow is another label humans insist on using to define people. Oh, I know I am one. But I am also a daughter, a mother, a wife, a friend. My parents are both dead; I am still their child. My children are grown and away from home. I am still their mother. Some of my dearest friends left this world too soon. They are still with me in spirit. And, of course, my husband is gone. He left and I became a widow instantly. But I did not stop remembering I was his wife. How we define the words or labels given to us can surely vary.

These labels can be stripped away, collaged over, refashioned and reworked. I am a human. A human with many names: Agnes, mom, sister,  writer, artist, cook, friend, teacher, mentor, encourager, grandmother in training, mother-in-law, advocate, traveler, believer…

Does a loss change my label? Really? Did I stop becoming a daughter when my parents died? Did I stop being a wife when my husband died? Words, as much as I love them, have a way of limiting us if we allow it. There are parts of me I would say that are not dead, but waiting, like quiet places of sanctuary, around the bend. The daughter room, where I hear my daddy playing organ music as I dance and jump on the oak stained floors in our front room. Where Mama’s voice calmed and encouraged me through many days– her words, “Be good to yourself” reverberating even now. The best friends room–where Nancy is waiting with a cigarette to share and we will sit and laugh and remember. Waydean waits too–for long dinner dates and an even longer follow up convo in a parking lot. We never got through talking. Ever. Ami–there’s a new project to make or a book we must read.

And Sam. I think the rooms where he is are open and sweeping. There are fish biting and berries to pick and hands to hold. And things only we know to remember.

So, to the world, those parts of who I was are dead. But they are not. They are very much alive in the remembering, recalling, and reliving. Loss adds, not subtracts. It adds a depth that does not leave, a well that I can reach into and pull out a moment at will. I have insights now I did not have pre-loss. Rather than feel sorry for widows, let’s respect their place of insight. We have traveled to depths and heights many have not. But, at the end of the day, I am more than a widow. I am a woman who is walking, like the rest of us, toward a final destination. I do not require special treatment. There is no need to be afraid of me. We are not nearly as complicated as we sometimes seem. We are humans who will die. We begin dying the minute we are born, changing and re-changing into something new based on our experiences and our relationships and our learning.

One day I was a child. The next, an orphan. One day a bride, wife, lover. The next, a widow. Putting a word on it does not change the fact. The rooms that make me “me” are still within me. They have not died. Sometimes they wait. Sometimes there are no labels on the next door yet. Or maybe there are. Maybe the labels  say  choice, possibility, future, strength, wisdom, opportunity.

As a writer who knows the recursive nature of the work, so it is with living. We take who we are, honor all that is inside us, and use it to remind us, to resurrect us, to reinvent us into the people we are today.

We have not lost as much as we shall gain: a wisdom that is won through the depths of despair, darkness, and deep pain. It is not necessary to expound or explain all the intricacies of the reality of living without one we have lost. But I know I understand people much better now. Widows share an  understanding  that people who have not experienced it cannot fully grasp.

I know because I did not know.

On this International Widows Day, I’ve decided to pray for widows and orphans.To look for ways to change the lives of widows who need help in finding their voices. To post this piece of writing as a witness to the fact that as a human, I have many names. Widow is only one.

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Sunday’s Song: 10 %

Like so many, I’ve read the stories about the Duggers. I’m sad for the victims, for their loss of privacy, for their life changing pain.

But I’m also sorry for those of us who continue to place people on pedestals.

We. Are. Sinners.

I am not excusing any one. Not. One.

I am stating a truth. 

I am beyond tired of people insisting on elevating humans to godly status.

Every single one of us either:

Has done  something

Will do something

Or is in the middle  of  something 

that  we do NOT want known.

Please. Please. Stop putting people in places we do not deserve.

We know 10% about folks. If that.

Pray for yourself. Pray for others.

But please, please stop being  surprised when someone does not live up to your expectation of holy and  good.

We are fortunate if we can  be that 10% of the time. 

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Bye, Dave.

I will miss you, David Letterman. I watched a vintage clip from your year #3 show on YouTube last night–funny how we can be taken right back to a place in time from something like that.

I’m just an ordinary person you’ll likely never meet, but you gave me (and some of my dearest friends) lots of laughter through many years. 33 of them. That’s a bunch.

You never got old. You stayed funny, you kept talented people around you, and you embodied a respectable rebellion that came in handy through the years. 

Thank you for showing us how to laugh at the ordinary. How to question. How to dig in our heels and dare anyone to abuse us. How to watch, marveling at the talent our minds afford us.  How to appreciate raw talent, new music, and old masters.

Plus, you liked dogs. So much to love.

Enjoy your next days,

One of your appreciative “Kids”

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Sunday’s Song: Decisions

A busy few art filled days have passed now, and it looks like the next few will be spent organizing and settling in to work on new projects. 

I’m really glad Sara and I decided to follow our art calling and participate in various shows and festivals throughout the past year. That choice brought us many opportunities and we have met many interesting  people along  the way. 

My teaching days are over for the summer, and I’m at a blessed, slow pace state right now: no deadlines, no rushing.

My creative side is calling again and I’ve decided to answer. I am taking a hand building clay class–not to become a potter or anything close–but to participate in something challenging to me. I know the process will lead to new ideas, new pieces that I might not have thought of otherwise.

I’ve decided to create spaces for art throughout the day. It’s my work now, and I’m going to treat it as such. The 2015 Index  Card  A Day project is gearing up to start June 1. If you are interested in being part of a creative and supportive online art community, you might choose to check out their site (on Facebook).I’ve decided to submit my attempts–good /bad/in-between. These are just moments in time. It’s ok if they’re not all fabulous!

There comes a point when you realize some things about life. You have power to choose. There is such power in our choices. 

This past few days, some  interesting things happened to me. 

I held a blue eyed baby I’d just met who slept in my arms as a crowd of passers by enjoyed an outdoor  festival. 

I listened as a displaced gentleman recited poetry to me, even though he was sick and far from home.

I pressed clay into random shapes, that though imperfect, did not exist before I touched them.

Everything we choose connects us to something else. We have so much possibility before us. Choose your joy.


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