Monday, November 25, 2013

The Magicals

I received an email recently
from my aunt, an American
expat living in London.  She
sends these notes periodically
to family and friends, writing
about her adventures
 in London and beyond.

In this particular letter, she
described the amazing holiday
windows at Harrod's and the
beautiful decorations all 
around London.

One word was sprinkled 
throughout her descriptions 
of these lovely sights.


Our family of four stayed
with my aunt and uncle in
London this time last year, and
my thoughts kept coming back
to her letter, long after I'd put
my computer to bed.  

Especially that word.

Magical. defines magical

mysteriously enchanting.

Magic is similar to its cousin,
gratitude, yet they are not
the same thing.

When I took Gracie out this
morning, our breaths making 
small clouds from the bitter cold,
I was so thankful for the warm
house we'd soon re-enter.


Gazing up at the sky in the
pre-dawn stillness, I could see
a sliver of moon, with one
lone star keeping it company.


{By the time I grabbed my camera, the star had disappeared....}

As I moved from one task
to another the rest of the day,
my mind reached back over
the years, sifting through my
gratefuls, mining for magicals.

Like many of you, I remembered
lying under the Christmas tree
with my little brother, looking
straight up at the splendor of
fairy lights, shiny ornaments 
and tinsel.

I also recalled stretching out
with our mom and dad one night 
on a beach vacation, awestruck 
by millions of stars overhead.


My mind meandered to the many
nights that I snuck into my
children's rooms to gaze at
their sleeping faces, perfection
in rosy cheeks and peaceful

Having longed for babies of
my own before they finally
came along, this sight never
ceased to weavemagic spell
for me. 

Even now, when my son
sleeps through his alarm and
I have to creep in to gently
chide him to get up, I still pause
a moment to take in his face,
lost in a teenage dream.

For me, it's a magical.
And yes, a grateful, too.

Sometimes it works that way.

As wonderful as television and
movies, magazines and Pinterest
are, they can set an unrealistic
expectation of what a magical
holiday is supposed to look like.

I am guilty of succumbing to
the seduction of these captivating
images in years past, becoming 
frazzled in an attempt to recreate 
the perfect Christmas.

But not this year.

This year I'm going to think like
the little girl I once was.  The one
who didn't expect magic, yet
found it in the simplest of
things, like a string of twinkle
lights or the taste of peppermint.

I am keeping a list and I'm checking
it twice.  My list of very simple
magicals--those that make my heart
sing and remind me that the gift of
the mysteriously enchanting
 is right under our noses,

no frazzle required : )

Wherever you are, near or far,
snowy climes or tropical ones, I
fervently hope that you will tune in
to the magicals in your own life.
They are free, they are abundant,
 and they are yours, my friends.

They are yours.

Sending you warm hugs for the
happiest of holiday seasons.

Thank you for adding
magic to my world.

I'll be back in the new year.


all images my own

Monday, November 11, 2013


As the temperatures dropped
this week and winds sent leaves
cartwheeling to the ground,
I began to notice something.


Things that aren't usually
revealed when the trees are
flush with leaves.


I'm seeing them everywhere.

Some are little.
Some are big.  
Really big.

Seeing these abandoned nests
on my morning walks,
vulnerable against the cold
November sky, I am reminded
once again how much goes on
around us to which we are 

Everywhere, there are countless
dramas, big and small,
playing out before our eyes.

Nests built, eggs laid,
baby birds learning to fly.

Just like a nest cradles its own
sweet secrets, we all walk around
holding our stories close.

My son's bus driver.

The woman I see behind the
register at the grocery store.

The neighbor boy whizzing by 
his skate board.

Our postman.



On the outside, we are like
the summer trees.  Just people.

But on the inside, there's the 
nest--the genuine us, 
shared with a few, 
but protected
from most.

People often ask a variety of
questions in an attempt
to view the nest.

How are you today?

{Unless we are really feeling
great, do we ever give the
real answer?}

At a gathering where we meet
new people, it's often

What do you do?

As a stay at home mom, this one
is also a challenge.  I do loads of
things, but most of them are behind
the scenes (laundry, meals, groceries,
clean, make lunches, drive--a lot, etc.)
I love my job, but it doesn't make for a
zippy answer at social functions.

Oh, you write a blog.  What's it about?

Uh.  Well.  Hmmm.

I have a blogging pal who proudly
answers, ME! when asked this question.
But I don't find it so easy.

What each inquiry is meant
to discover is


In a landscape of trees, we want
to locate the nests.  To get past
the leaves, peer in and have
something special revealed to us.

My late friend Kathleen was captivated
by birds and nests and adored the
color of robin's egg blue.  

She embodied the nest-seeker to me,
with a genuine curiosity about the people
she spoke with.  A true listener, too.

In the end, Kathleen's last gift to me
was the sure knowledge that the only 
things we take from this earth--and
leave behind--aren't things, at all.

They are relationships.

And love.

So I encourage you to seek the
nests.  Bake something for a neighbor
or co-worker just because.  Call a friend
for an impromptu lunch.  Write a card
to someone whose day you may just
make when they receive it.

Comb those trees in your life and
root out the nests.  You might
be surprised at the treasures you'll
uncover if you dare to take a peek,
and the ones you'll bestow,
simply by sharing 


you are.


all images my own

Friday, November 1, 2013

The Welcoming

I'm a bit obsessed with
the weather app on my
smart phone, checking it
at least once a day.

I know I'm not alone in this
penchant.  I live in a place
where, because of the variety of
extreme weather (sub-zero
cold, snow, thunderstorms,
tornados, etc.), meteorologists
who are able to accurately
forecast what's ahead are 
local celebrities.

Anyway, back to my app.

Since our daughter now lives
in the land of perpetual
summer, I often find myself
sharing the difference between
the forecast here and the one
there with my husband.

Me:  Oh look.  It's going to be
47 and partly cloudy here on
Saturday and 77 and sunny
for our girl.

Him: Why are we living here?

The last time we had this
conversation, we were driving
in the car.

You know, he said, when I was a
kid, I didn't think much of the
changing seasons beyond what
they would bring.

Falling leaves and cooler temps
meant football! and Halloween!

Snow meant Christmas was

coming.  Sledding!  Hockey!

Spring meant shedding our coats

and summer around the corner.

Summer meant:  summer!

I didn't question it.  I just 
made the most of it.

I thought about that conversation
for many days afterward.  How
freeing it was when we were kids
 to simply embrace change ~

not chafe
not fret
not grumble.


A few days after our talk in the car,
I received an earnest letter from
Sulmi, a young Honduran girl who
our family sponsors through

Every few months, 13 year old
Sulmi sends me a thank you note
for our sponsorship.  I am always
touched by her neat pencil script
and the translation below it from
one of the field agents.

Her precious words lifted 
my heart:

I am spending winter happily with
my family.  In the morning I wake up
to hear the birds and the wind and to
see the butterflies flying in the flowers.

In Honduras, winter, or invierno,
means the rainy season.

But Sulmi never complains about
the rain in her letters.  All we hear is
how she loves the flowers and the
fruit trees, her family and friends.

The house she lives in has a tin
roof and a dirt floor, with a latrine
outside.  But Sulmi is spending
winter happily, despite the rain.

Embracing it.

When I was a little girl, I recall riding
the bus home on those dusky
October evenings before we set
the clocks back to Standard Time.

A lot of homes were dark, but our
windows always glowed with light.
I felt so very lucky that my mom was 
waiting inside to greet us with a hug, 
a yummy smell in the air hinting
at what would soon be our dinner.

I was lucky.

As a child, my arms were
wide open,
welcoming whatever each day ~
each seasonbrought next.

I bet yours were, too.

This trait, this welcoming, isn't 
just for children--or those of us
who want to emulate their
exuberance--who live in
places with severe climates.

Because, no matter what is on 
your horizon,
whether rainy days or sunny,
snowy days or cloudy, every place
has its own rhythms.

It's whether we dance to them,
versus sitting on the sidelines or
resenting the music, that counts.

The way kids do.

As for me, I'll still keep an
eye on that weather app.

Then I'll pull on my boots,
wellies, Uggs or snowshoes and
hit the trail, filling in my 
dance card 
with whatever season is
playing its sweet music.

I hope you'll join me : )

She enjoys the rain for its wetness,
winter for its cold, summer for its heat.
She loves rainbows as much for fading 
as for their brilliance.  It is easy for her, 
she opens her heart and accepts everything.

~Morgan Llyweln, Bard: The Odyssey of the Irish


{all images my own}