Walk don’t run.

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July was a solid month of summer joy. With alternating rows of high heat, rain, cool evenings and persisting humidity, July defined our days and served us spontaneity and unpredictability on a platter. Instagram has been my main mode of connection, and if we are friends on Instagram I apologize for the repeats, but I can’t help lingering on the square boxes of delicious color, space and moment, mine and yours.

As August steps in, I see a boy soon turning 12 and starting middle school. I nearly lost my breath in dreaded despair last night as I realized (again) that he is slipping from my fingers with each passing day. He is texting me regularly now (though 3 feet from me) with his newly acquired iPod and the mixture of feeling has me thinking I’m bipolar. I suffer quietly among the frays of his passing childhood and shriek for the future he heads towards. I pray please walk, don’t run towards that future my son….I manage only by the dance that rips me from these moments and casts me among the weightless planes of utter joy. Only when I stop do I remember the earthly committments I am still bound to. Only when I stop do I remember where I am or what time it is.

As school begins in a matter of weeks, so does a fresh year of volunteer responsibilities. It is how I stay close to my children you see….And somewhere before that madness begins is a short trip to NYC with the kids, a week alone with the Mister to wander and drive remote Adirondack roads, and a visit with one of my most cherished friends and her family in the hills of New Hampshire. I will squeeze in reading, hiking, writing and exploring. I will steal moments by way of image capturing and posting (provided we have signal). I will seek the memory makers by thriving in the senses and reflecting in the silence. I will do all I can to savor this time by walking, not running, to the very next thing.

I hope you join me in that walk…

Much love…

xoxo

Mtramp

Shine through

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I am aware. I am aware that I’m bandaged by the adornments that occupy and tweak the human mind. I dress in colors that drip from my ears to the straps around my heels. I register daily the size of my body and the lines and spots that emerge from beneath the skin.

Beneath the skin.

Beneath the skin there is light. Light that I see when I am dancing, laughing or walking with trees. Light that thrives on the silence of self, and muted by the flashy, distracted ways of our kind. There is a hunger there, beneath the skin. We can all feel the Empty and the Isn’t, yet too often stuff the wrong things into their mouths. We are starved, yet over-satiated and inundated with the excess that we endlessly need, feeding our greedy little egos with things that we falsely believe.

Yet, in between the convoluted and confused folds within, we are not abandoned, we are not alone. There has always been two of us here, one who knows and one who thinks. All choices meld and mesh together regardless from which, unearthing the endless truth of refractions, the endless truth of drifting, the endless truth that there are no mistakes and no waves that do not eventually lead to the same place we were all meant to go.

Sooner or later we will understand, sooner or later we will have our story, our revelation. As our skin melts and becomes translucent, as our minds fatigue and loses say, when we no longer care for the pretty or prestigious things that once defined us, or remember the colors that we once wore, the tingle and shiver of light will splay unhindered, until it’s all too clear, we are shining through our skin once more.

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Collecting

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I am watching my life in stories. Some words have been written on paper, but lately collected pictures have become the narrator. I string the details together like a popcorn garland, then line them end to end along the walls I call my world. Details like…

Like the day we hiked like madmen only to be stalled and softened by a nest of baby nuthatches in the hollow of a pine tree.
Like the day we saw a small murder of crows perched on naked, gray branches to keep watch over the city.
Like the afternoon she made me a dandelion taco as the rays broke through the shroud of a clouded sunset.
Like the day we walked Goss Grove, found Christopher Walken’s green head on a snail’s body and the yellow and purple house of wildflowers I want to live in when I’m 60.
Like the day we saw the man in the mountain exhale into the sky.

I complain of time moving quickly but each precious moment leaves a palm print, just like the ones we leave on glass. We spend our days thinking of what we need, what we want, and what we hope to have, burning time away like melted wax when the truth is, we receive all the time. We miss them—the palm prints—we look right through them, because what we want always seems to be on the other side of the glass.

Meanwhile, I rock my collected stories in cradles like newborn babes, wondering what they will be when they grow up, waiting for that perfect time to cut the strings. Maybe all along, just like my children, they are ready far quicker than I am ready to let go. One day, despite myself, they will become something all on their own.

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much love to you

xoxox

Re-acquainted

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Well hello :-).

Yes it’s been awhile, shall we sit and have tea and catch up?

How are you? How is your summer so far? And your family?

Me? I’m doing pretty well and yes I had a good birthday. 43 has been a breeze so far. We returned recently from visiting my grandmother in Ohio last week. She turned 94! She is still so sharp and her memory astounds me. We worked the crossword in the newspaper together everyday I was there, I loved that.

Seeing her moved something in me, and I wish I could say it was all sweet and nostalgic, but it wasn’t. With the visit came an uncomfortable glimpse into the future none want to ponder too long– the reality of life in old age, of loss in body and independence, of wisdom gained, yes, but not without a few footprints of sadness and regret. Seeing her made me think about the life I wanted to have, or even more important, the outlook on life I wanted to have, if I were to ever make it to 94.

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We talked a lot together Grandma and me. She mostly talked of the past, what happened to who and when. When she talked about my dad or my grandfather, my ears prickled with interest to the things I never knew about them. Like when my dad went to sleepaway camp when he was 12, and though he wanted to come home after two days, Grandma said “try one more day” and in the end he was so glad he stayed. She talked about taking the train to Chicago in 1944 to visit my grandfather after he finished boot camp, how the train was so crowded that people had to sit on their suitcases in the aisles.

We visited the lake house she lived in nearly her entire life, the lake house her father built, the lake house that my parents, brother and I would visit on the weekends for family bbqs, fishing, and firefly catching. Though she no longer owns the house, she checked on all the flowers she and her sister had planted, the clematis, the peonies, and the irises, as if they were still hers. She found them to be somewhat neglected, but still alive and carrying on. We later found an empty bird’s nest on the ground underneath an oak tree she had planted years ago, and in that moment, I couldn’t help but feel the congruity of it all.

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I know it’s cliché but I do feel like a child again when I am around her. She is always teaching me, recounting what it was like growing up in the Depression, the war, battling 3 cancers (and winning), losing loved ones like a husband and son, and what it’s like growing old. She is patient with my questions fielding them the same way she did when I was 10 years old, assuaging my curiosity and forever being my teacher.

I do believe the one precious gift we can give our older generation, the thing that helps make the life they’ve lived and ultimately their life in old age worth it all, is the opportunity and time to share their stories, their truths. And in return what we receive is a gentle, quiet hope that aging is something we can do, can manage, can accept, because it’s our own stories that will carry us through to the end.

much love to you

xoxo

Promise yourself

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Promise Yourself

To be so strong that nothing
can disturb your peace of mind.
To talk health, happiness, and prosperity
to every person you meet.

To make all your friends feel
that there is something in them
To look at the sunny side of everything
and make your optimism come true.

To think only the best, to work only for the best,
and to expect only the best.
To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others
as you are about your own.

To forget the mistakes of the past
and press on to the greater achievements of the future.
To wear a cheerful countenance at all times
and give every living creature you meet a smile.

To give so much time to the improvement of yourself
that you have no time to criticize others.
To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear,
and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.

To think well of yourself and to proclaim this fact to the world,
not in loud words but great deeds.
To live in faith that the whole world is on your side
so long as you are true to the best that is in you.

― Christian D. Larson, Your Forces and How to Use Them

I can’t think of a better promise to make on my birthday.
much love to you all
xoxo

Here and there

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All this is here and there in a month. The Great Escape Mustang sanctuary, the Eagle Plume museum and store, the Broadmoor hotel, the glories of Spring…. I am reminded often of why I named the blog as I did. Wandering never really stops and my thirst for exploring remains unquenchable.

In a couple days, we step out of school sneakers and into flip flops, water shoes, and summer break. Soccer practices and tournaments, piano recitals, school field trips and volunteering will now be replaced with summer camps, weekend excursions and barbeques. I welcome it. I welcome the laziness of pools, the saunter of hot days, tubing on the creek and badminton on our dandelion lawn. I am also wholly and heartily welcoming 43 on Saturday. I learned long ago that happiness can only be present when realized. I have all that I will ever need.

***

Below are the 3 baby robins we have been watching grow over the last few weeks. They each flew from their nest one morning last week and have yet to return. We were able to witness their first flight into the world and thus experienced the true meaning of “empty nest syndrome”. Flutters was the biggest, strongest and the first to fly, then Malcolm came next. Hiccup, the last, took his time, and though still unsteady and a little unsure of himself, made it across the lawn. We miss them, but this is the magic of birth and the approaching close of Spring.

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I just finished taking Pitch Perfect, an online class on how to pitch articles and ideas to magazines and more. It’s a wonderfully thorough class for any writer interested in taking their work beyond the blog pages or their laptops. As much as I liked the idea of monetizing writing or shaking my words onto widespread, paper pages across lands and oceans, I don’t know if I am one of those writers–at least not at this point in my life. Perhaps maybe never. For now, the blog is enough, and coming here to share words is joy and a category all its own. Thank you for that. Thank you for reading or even just stopping by.

much love to you
xoxo

This

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The time between posts always feels ancient to me. The days of posting everyday, heck even two or three times a week are long gone with the days I spent at home learning with the kids. What I miss most about that time is the sap-like slowness that oozed from the of heart of long, hot Florida days. Yet, I would be amiss to say that I pine for those days again. Abundance flourishes now as it did then and I still find awe in the rocky foothills of my daily landscape. I still find awe in my sprouting children with their easy laughter and love for life. My camera knows—I know, the tiny secrets that lie in the ugly cracks of time and age, the secrets that burst forth with every bloom and every bird shouting “Love it now or lose it forever!!!!”

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Someone long ago and on their knees planted these gorgeous red tulips in the front left corner of our yard. My daughter and I have been watching the hearty, leggy leaves reach from their hibernating depths for life and sun. To see them bloom also gave birth to the kind of maternal instinct that only Mother Earth can provide. We have been enjoying those blooms for over a week now, watching them shine and unfold in all their red glory. But we arrived home yesterday to find them mutilated, each one with their beautiful red heads gone–decapitated from their gorgeous, green necks, leaving only arms to flail in the wind. My daughter began to cry, heart aching, as any mother would to find their fledglings stunted and stolen from the time they deserved. Deer? Probably. And life goes on…

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A quick tangent, a quick story to leave you with.

There once was an olive green couch that sat by the side of a charming, country-ish road. It is a winding road lined with sweeping views of the foothills and black cows grazing across fields with beautiful barns, sleepy farms and 100 year old houses. It is just the kind of road one would want to plod along at a leisurely pace before happening upon a lonely couch. An aged and once well-loved loveseat it was, beat-up with dingy cushions, tossed to the side with all its stained memory. Strangely enough, the couch rested on the front lawn of a little white house between an equally abandoned schoolhouse and a set of unemployed train tracks with its criss crossed RR sign still posted. It was a very short stretch of vacated life at the end of that country road.

I travel this road every day but this was the first I had ever seen the couch. As my car creeped behind several cars towards the turnlight, I grabbed my cameraphone, took a shot and put it on Instagram, writing “An invitation is how I see it”, because an empty, lonely couch on the side of a charming country road is exactly how I see it. And thinking it would end there as most Instagram shots do, I received a message on that photo asking “Did you?”. And so I thought, “why not?”

So I grabbed a good friend who grabbed her cameras and tripod, and along with my camera, polaroids and some props, we headed back to that country road and to the olive green couch.

For the next hour or so on a windy day and in uncut grass in front of a small, empty, white house, my friend and I played. We moved the couch under the tree, wore hats and modeled ridiculously, feeling self-conscious yet free at the same time. Cars and cyclists drove and rode by, we didn’t care. An old-timer who I think lived next door, jogged by too, smiling at us, we smiled back. We resuscitated that couch, breathing life into spontaneity, breathing life into ourselves. To follow a whim and let the wind tell us where to go, this is what the couch invited us to do, and so we did.

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Cheers and love
xoxox

Tangents

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“Trust the instinct to the end, though you can render no reason.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Lately, the currents have lead to unexpected tangents, where thinking less and instinctively flying more is necessary. Hence, I have found freedom in the busiest days. I am busier than I have been in years actually, making the quiet moments blissfully and guiltlessly enjoyed.

The house is still this morning. Both boys are gone, the son is in Catalina on a school trip and the husband is in Florida on a business trip. The girl and I have giggled in delight knowing we have a whole week with just each other. So far we have read together, colored together, watched movies, played on the swing, talked about birds, watched them make nests (Mrs. Twitters you will meet later), and plan on making paper flowers. She should be at school today but a cold has kept her home, and between you and me, I am more than okay with that ;-).
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I just finished reading Stephen King’s Dr. Sleep. If you are a Stephen King fan, you won’t be disappointed. His memoir On Writing is next but for now I am reading Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend by Matthew Dicks, a random book picked up a few months ago. The author is a former teacher, a 3 time Moth storySlam winner, and a manager of a McDonalds. I love this author already.
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Birds. You may or may not know I am captivated by them. I am slowly massaging my future as a full time birdwatcher, carefully listening to their calls, marking my bird book with the ones I have identified. I have a post in drafts all about the ones I’ve seen lately, and titled the post “Messengers”. I also, not every day but most days, draw from animal Medicine cards. These are my absolute favorite cards for daily inspiration and focus. Every single one I pull has something to teach me, and would you believe that most of the ones I pull are bird cards? It’s okay if you don’t. Sometimes I hardly believe it myself. Here is what I pulled this very morning:
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The Hawk card is the messenger card, a card about being aware of the signals in our life–“to notice and receive them”. Sometimes coincidence isn’t enough.
***
A Robin couple has come back to nest at the house this Spring. Mr. Twitters (what we decided to call them) is who I met first. He has the face of an older, wiser Robin. He would sit on watch like a sentinel, his bright, orange chest puffed full and round, then circle the backyard onto the roof. He has beautiful markings don’t you think?
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I realize now that the nest we had to move last year when the house was repainted was theirs. No matter, Mrs.Twitters began working quickly a few days ago in the exact same spot the old one was.
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Remarkable, truly.

I hope you are able to follow some tangents today, just let them lead you to someplace unexpected. Sometimes, it almost feels like flying…

Much love to you on this Tuesday…

xoxox

Elizabeth

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“I would rather live in a world where my life is surrounded by mystery than live in a world so small that my mind could comprehend it.”

~Henry Emerson Fosdick

Eleven years ago, I met a woman named Elizabeth. She was an English woman who had coppery red hair and a narrow river of blond that began near her forehead, and she could see dead people. They would come to her and tell her things mostly by hand signals and showing familiar objects. She isn’t the only one, there are many that claim to see things that others can’t, and as always, belief only comes when something touches us in some way and turns our hearts and minds over like a deck of cards.

I sat in a chair at a small, square table in a very old Victorian house, my friend’s house. This house breathed an old stale and musty breath, with pink damask wallpaper peeling in the corners and heavy, green velvet curtains that hung as if a thousand buckets of tears could be wrung from it. My friend adored her house of 100 years, and I could not deny that it was a perfect setting to invite a wandering spirit, especially the dead ones. Elizabeth sat to my right, facing the windows that gave the only light into the small boxy room, save a small votive candle flickering on the table. I had zero expectations, though the possibility of everything she claimed capable of danced like fire around the edges of my skin.

She leaned in with her elbows on the table and asked me my name, then her eyes flitted over to behind my right shoulder. Once, at first, then again to the windows behind me, back and forth, back and forth, as if some irresistible secret began to reveal itself in that corner. I almost turned to look when she spoke suddenly.

“Your father passed recently.”

I nodded, “Four years ago.”

“He’s here.”

I was silent. My hands found each other.

“I feel a sickness in my chest, was it lung cancer?”

“Yes.” My left hand fingers began to fiddle with the rings on my right hand, and the chair, it was very uncomfortable.

“And he was quite the smoker and drinker wasn’t he?” she quarried.

“Yes, he was.”

The brain begins to work when challenged with something that seems impossible. Churning, it searches for answers to unexplained information, to keep the unexpected safe and predictable, to keep our world contained and manageable in a way that our minds are only fit to handle.

“He was in the military?”

“Yes.”

“I am seeing a picture of him”, as she spoke she moved her left forearm to where it sliced her chest, just beneath the collarbone “it’s from here up?”

I said nothing.

“He was quite handsome wasn’t he, your father…”

“Yes, I believed so.”

“Yes, well this picture, he was young and handsome, in his uniform with a hat, before he was ever sick, do you know which picture I am speaking of?”

I knew, yes I knew. I only had one, and it was the best picture of him I had. It was a time right around when I was born, when he was at the best moments of his military career.

“Well this is how he wants you to remember him. He wants you to frame that picture and put it somewhere so you can remember him this way.”

I couldn’t speak anymore. Hot tears began to swell and replaced any words that would have come. It didn’t matter anymore whether Elizabeth was really who she said she was. She found a tender stone that had lodged itself in my throat 4 years ago. She was trying to show it to me, expose it to the sunlight so that I would see that it wasn’t a stone at all, but the weightless ash that was released into the ocean years ago.

“He’s very happy where he is resting. He was buried someplace special wasn’t he–he’s smiling, impatient for me to translate.”

“Yes,” I managed, “in Arlington National Cemetary.”

“Yes, he was pleased and wants to thank you.”

It was too much really, too much for me to take. When the ones we love disappear from this earth, we still see them in places and times they would have been had they not died so young. A hole without boundaries remains in those unfulfilled visions, bottomless and thick, waiting for time to mercifully fill it with the gentle songs of acceptance and peace.

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There was more, about his grandchildren, that I would have one more child, a daughter, and that I would only have two, which became true on both counts. And then a rose, a white rose for my mother, asking for forgiveness and expressing that his one greatest love was for her.

I don’t believe these kinds of encounters are ones we should cling to. We step in and out of the unknown with as much uncertainty as what the next day will bring. And if we aren’t unclear or uncertain, we aren’t looking hard enough. Our vibrations in this world are meant to be fleeting and inconstant, impermanent and unsustainable. It is the only chance we have at discovering the magic hidden behind the walls that speak, the winds that howl, or the silence that calls. It is the only chance we have in accepting life, death, and all the inexplicable moments in between.

I don’t feel my father that much anymore. I miss him, sometimes I think I can smell him, and sometimes I tell stories to my children about what their Granddad was like. But I know he wouldn’t want me to dwell too much on sorrow or loss, not when there is so much that remains to be discovered and lived, not when there are yet so many mysteries to stumble upon and shift our hearts forever.

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Much love to you
xoxo