I am watching a happy squirrel make his way through the birdseed buffet I poured along our deck railing, his tail in full fluff as he bends to gingerly pick up another black oil sunflower seed. Meanwhile, the snow around the legs of the chair melts slowly, the dog snores, and the cat takes in the big-picture field and sky. It's an oasis moment in the middle of big picture days: stretches of long conversations with myself and others about how my work is evolving, where I feel led, and how I can discover more about the metaphoric wells in [...] Read More
Forest a few months ago with his Aunt Linda Eighteen years ago, we almost lost our youngest son Forest in a car accident involving black ice, three kids and me in a van, and the only spot on the road that led to a deep ditch. Our van plunged, flipped and spun around, ejecting five-year-old Forest through the broken window to land about ten feet away. He was unconscious, his jaw broken in multiple place, and his brain bleeding in three spots. But through superb and swift medical care (including being life-flighted to Children's Mercy Hospital [...] Read More
"I started early -- took my dog" begins an Emily Dickinson poem that speaks to Mary Oliver's generous life and poetry. She loved her dogs, getting outside early to wander for hours ("Tell me, what else should I have done?" she writes) and, along the way, inviting countless people to love poetry early, or at least earlier than never. Oliver's writing is a gateway drug to poetry, gently and fiercely cajoling would-be readers into the wilds of the shining earth and living poem. I can't remember when I first encountered Oliver's poetry, but I know this: it wasn't when I [...] Read More
A Mount St. Helens Vista When Ken and I went to Mount St. Helens with friends several years ago, I was dazzled by the patterned forests full of checkerboard green across green. Ken explained that this pattern, so unlike all other mountains of forests I've ever seen, was because all the trees were the same age, starting anew together after the volcano blasted all this land clear and bare. I'm a pattern-hunter, watching, tallying, and seeking to understand patterns that come through my life. This particularly appeals to me when happy things tumble together, like in [...] Read More
"So instead of New Year’s resolutions, I drew up a list for 2019 of experiences that had already passed: a record not of self-mastery but of genuine surprise. 1. My oncology nurse became a dear friend. 2. Even in the hospital I felt the love of God. 3. Zach is under the impression that I never get tired. These are my small miracles scattered like bread crumbs, the way forward dotting the path behind me." -- Kate Bolwer Surprises around the bend In reading Kate Bowler's evocative essay, "How Cancer Changes Hope" and revising poems for [...] Read More
Tomorrow the world turns over: our shortening days stop in their tracks, and the light begins lengthening those days for months to come. Even the dreaded month of February, out there on the near horizon, will be far brighter light-wise as our long nights tuck into themselves. At the same time, this is a year I've been lightening up, not so much weight-wise (although certainly warranted by all those height-weight charts). I've taken a year-long unpaid leave from Goddard College, a place I love immensely but after 64 consecutive semesters of teaching there or elsewhere, I was ready for a [...] Read More
Finding strings of light Very little in life is what we think it is, especially grief. In the three weeks since my mother-in-law died, I've ridden a pack of panoramic emotions in between sudden bursts of phone calls, crazy-dreamed-nights, bouts of exhaustion no coffee can conquer, plus external the wilds of weather and circumstance. We had a blizzard that knocked out our electricity for 9 hours about a week ago, my son and some other people I love each lost their jobs, and a number of friends have been struggling with illness, grief, and loss. In [...] Read More
Yesterday, we held the memorial service for my mother-in-law, Alice Elizabeth Wells Lassman (obituary here). After crowd-sourcing some of the details for this poem from her children (including my husband), here's what I wrote for the woman who was and continues to be so big in my life and heart. I'm deeply grateful for her raising some a wonderful son and being an amazing grandmother to my kids and all my nieces and nephews. Alice She was a fierce protector of all she loved, a passionate holder of babies and truths, and oil-painting and apple-pie-making devotee, who fell in love [...] Read More
The oneg (reception) afterwards with the delicious food Sue prepared A few hours after the Tree of Life shooting, we clung to each other -- singing, praying, crying -- at the Beth Israel Center in Madison, WI. Family members, old and new friends, and synagogue goers -- most of them elders, just like the people murdered in Pittsburgh while praying, gathered for a Miriam's Well reading preceded by a Havdalah service, a 10-minute Saturday evening ritual to close the Sabbath and welcome the new week. But with the pain we carried from the worst anti-semitic attack in U.S. [...] Read More
One of the wonders of this world are mountains of maples at the peak of fall foliage, and I was lucky enough to dwell among recently at the Power of Words conference at Goddard College. The big picture mind-blowing expanses are all around, from a distance golden variegated hazes that upon closer range become crazy quilts of red, rust, orange, yellow, and green. But what really grabbed my heart was the more narrow and up close light in action of the trees and sky, especially when driving up and down curvy and lilting country roads. The aptly named Bliss Road, [...] Read More
Please Support Me on Patreon
You can help create more transformative writing, workshops, and a new podcast series on the power of words. Please consider supporting my Patreon campaign for as little as $3/month. In return, you receive cool perks (books, poems written just for you, and more), early access to my new work, and weekly inspirations to spark your creativity. More here.
Subscribe to Blog via Email
Buy Your Own Copy of Everyday Magic -- This Blog As a Book!
This blog is a book --Everyday Magic: Fieldnotes on the Mundane and Miraculous -- published by Meadowlark Press. This beautiful book, complete with beautiful art throughout by publisher Tracy Million Simmons, can be yours for $24.99. Please consider purchasing the book through the publisher to support small presses supporting authors like me. Meadowlark Press. Meadowlark Books is an Emporia, Kansas, based publisher, coming from the same town as famous newspaper publisher William Allen White. The publisher's site shares this perspective:
We live in exciting times for authors and all artists, an era of democratization of the arts. No longer will books/music/artwork be something selected by the few and passed down to the masses. The people--our readers--will choose for themselves.