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This Phoenix Speaks

Seven years in the making, my first published book, This Phoenix Speaks , is now a reality. The tireless and tiring work invested to ma...

rejecting rejection

Turning 40 this month is a once in a lifetime achievement. As a single woman, I now have the privilege of being rejected because I am no longer young.

Don't get me wrong. I do not feel old at all. I don't even think I look exceptionally old either. But the simple fact remains that I am no longer "in my 30s," and to too many men that translates into 'not young', 'too old for me', and 'not worth my time'. To be honest, I stopped giving that response after hitting 37 because I'm not into false advertising, and I realized that shallow men are the ones who ask a woman's age. It truly weeds out the jerks in one fell swoop of the axe they hold themselves. I shouldn't feel any need to advertise in the first place.

By looking at a 20-something, you can tell they are practically a baby. They still have a teenager look on their face until rounding the corner into their 30s. And the 30-somethings could be in their 20s or 40s depending on genes and how well they do or don't take care of themselves. And when we boil it all down, it's just a stupid game of sizing people up by their looks. I mean, reread what I just wrote, and you might feel just as nauseated as I do right now. I am so much more than the sum of my parts.

You know something else? I don't ask anyone their age, so why should anyone care what age I am? I can hardly keep track of how old anyone is except for my children, siblings, and close friends, and even then with friends it's only in relation to how much older or younger they are to me if I remember more than their birth month and day. When conversation gets any deeper than niceties, the age answer comes out naturally. Like, anyone who actually takes time to know me knows that I turn 40 this month. I don't hide anything really. Age is real, but it's relative too. I will be friends with anyone. Having a wide range of acquaintances, friends, and people to go on dates with keeps life interesting. I will certainly go out with anyone so long as they are adults who aren't shallow idiots.

I reject the notion that just because my body is naturally changing I am less beautiful, less worthy of notice, or less worthy of loving acceptance. Now I just need to not hold my breath that any man will figure that out any time soon.

unapologetic affection

my hope is not fragile
once the light begins to burn 
becoming an undercurrent in the sea of life
pulling me close to the people I need most
to the one who causes me to come alive
into forever therefore I reach out 
in love and care because the hope in my heart
hints at and even calls out
the fact that you need love
in the worst and best way
your quintessence sings for the affection
that I long to lavish on your sweet soul
hearts do fail in some
but not yours yet and I hope it never will
the whisper on the wind won't let me be
softly reassuring that love has found
its way into that asphyxiating fortress
breaking free from the inside out
like a broken down prisoner on the run
you can't stop to see where to turn
but hold on, press on, open up
patience, hope, and love
feed this perfect fire
as they always have
keeping us warm
until you come
arriving just in time
to tend the flame
recollected and renowned
most cherished, darling friend

Seeking to Become - February 2015

 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.    Matthew 7:7 

Ask. Seek. Knock. All of those things begin with prayer.

It seems like there is always something needing attention—something pulling me to my knees in prayer—so I've been thinking about how essential prayer has become to my life. I struggle with purposefully saying a prayer every single morning, but nighttime is more consistent. However, I have made a habit of saying/thinking/feeling little prayers in the moment throughout the day as issues come my way. If it's for someone else, I stop right then and say a prayer in my heart. As I remember the little things that pull at me, I pray in that moment that I can handle whatever it is. I have been seeking understanding. Creating space for prayer within everyday moments, even minute to minute some days, has changed my life.

For this month's focus, I seek to get more in tune with what the Lord would have me know and do as it pertains to my personal life. It is no small task to discern between all the many paths along this journey. Asking for the world is easy, but I would like to be specific, focusing my energy on those things that will help me become who I want to be. I seek to become more like the Savior, loving, forgiving, meek, and full of charity (to name a few). If that is going to be a reality and not just a wish, I need to learn how to better listen for guidance from the spirit.

As always, you are welcome to join me in this endeavor.

hidden letters

I do this thing where I get all emotional and start writing these special letters. I began the practice after my mother passed away nearly twelve years ago.

I was the one who sorted through every saved piece of paper, article of clothing, and photograph—every thing. Seeing what she found important enough to save in a shoebox under her bed or tucked into her scriptures or in a mound of fabric and notions in her sewing room (just to be realistic) got me thinking about what I will leave behind for my loved ones to clean up and find.

She didn't write in her journal faithfully. Actually, it was pretty darn disappointing when I ran across them and only the first handful of pages were filled in. Maybe one or two had more than that, but never a finished one. So, I write in my journal as faithfully as this crazy life permits. Most of the time now, I write every day. I don't write but 1/100 part of the goings on of my day, but I try to write something. I write something that will let the people I love know that I thought of them every day, that I prayed for them, that I loved them dearly, and that I am an imperfect person with worries and problems.

My mom saved letters instead, I think. By reading through the letters she received from others and the several unsent letters intended for family and friends, I was able to get to know my mother the friend, aunt, sister, daughter, and woman.  I already had seen her live as a wife and mother. You knew it when she was happy because she was singing and sewing. And boy, she sure would buckle down in a huff when she was ticked off. And my dad knew it too. So anyway. I also save letters and thank-you cards that I receive from people. I save all of them. I have a couple of special letter boxes that I put thank-yous in. And I keep an empty chocolates box to hold the tangible sweet nothings from a darling friend of mine.

And as far as that special letter writing of mine goes, I sit down from time to time and write letters to each of my children and tuck them into their special "school box" as we call them. They each have a storage container where we save their school work and any fun little things they want to save for their grown up selves. When I finish writing the letter, I date it, seal it up, and tuck it amongst the schoolwork so as to hide it away. I even write to my daughter with Autism who might never understand what I wrote or even that I'm gone if she outlives me (I mention that last bit because she just started mentioning that her "dad gone work" a few months ago, and he moved out almost four years ago.). I wrote the first letter to my youngest son when he was just a baby. The crazy thing about these hidden letters is that I couldn't even tell you how many I've written or what they even say exactly! I always write them when I am overwhelmed with love, gratitude, or affection. It should be quite the read some day. I hope.

Writing letters is something that I have done throughout my life, writing to cousins in California and Texas, a pen pal in Cincinnati, Ohio, and later on to grandparents and aunts and uncles. I took a bit of a break from letter writing to others for a few years there when life was really bad. I'm happy to report that I did pick the habit back up again a year and a half ago, and I feel like I'm back to myself in that regard. It just feels good to write out those things that I want to say but don't have a natural place in time to do so. It does my heart good to more fully express myself to the people I hold dear, and I'm thankful for the opportunities that I take for it.

Since writing this, I can't remember what exactly got me thinking about those hidden letters to my children. But the thought crosses my mind to write all this now, so in case anything happens to me someone will know to tell them where I hid all the love that I could gather into words for them to hold onto until the next hug comes around in heaven. Let's all hope that time doesn't come for a good, long spell though, but it's always smart to communicate about things like this. It would be tragic if those containers were mistaken for trash and thrown out in the cleaning process.

Now, remember the letters are in those school boxes (but ssshhhh). Okay?

because it's us

photo: C.T. Duncan

This endless road I'm traveling or travailing
Depending on the adventure of the day
Transfigures the manner in which I foresee
The hills and valleys that come forth and demand of me.

The fervor of dawn that rises and touches my flesh
Further brightens, paving a smooth detour fresh
Of asphalt leading into summer that must be delicately tread
With watchful words and careful eye on what lies ahead.

Knowing where the thoroughfare leads at last
I must forge my way on this fateful yet untried path
Perceiving with a surety that cleanses and washes o'er
Every hope endearing me to that darling heart of yours.

Missing you is a part of me since I left you
When the road was lengthened
On that beautiful sun-filled afternoon
When hearts began to break, and time stands still until we meet again.

Switchbacks no longer set me back but are somehow straightened out
Altogether with one fond breath's worth of words
From you, Because it's us
And this road from my heart to yours suddenly turned short.


Save Our Souls and Save Our Ship
For we are sinking slowly
With all our pomp and circumstance
We still have yet to stand
On solid ground with firm intent
To never leave the helm
We waltz through life whilst in a dream
We go about the days filling them with games
Only to realize how far we've gone
Off the tried and happy path
Trod by those who've gone before
Who love us, hoping we will make it back

Send all the help that you can muster
For we will press onward
With heaven's angels in attendance
We shall gather newfound strength
On the foundation they have laid
To lead us all toward home
We will stand on higher ground
We trust as we seek their gentle command
Only we must discover who to trust completely
Off we go taking these brave steps in the sunlight
Treading lightly, always looking forward with full hope
Who will heed this call? Who will know the way?

shooting from the hip

This whole teaching gig is something else. I don't think I've been able to catch my breath once in the past month. Being a single mom and a new teacher is not glamorous whatsoever. It seems like I am living day-to-day without a safety net.

I got so caught up in the bustle of appointments/teaching/grading/freaking out/extra-curricular activities last week that I forgot to write! And that is so not cool. I truly believed that once I was finished with student teaching that I would settle into a glorious routine and leave behind that bad habit of spacing it that had occurred during that last semester. Alas, I have zero routine so far, let alone a glorious one.

Shooting from the hip paints a more informed picture. There have been software issues, website issues, lesson planning issues, web/technical issues, classroom issues, grading issues, and probably other issues that I just haven't had time to recognize yet but are still very much going to come out of the woodwork once I can breathe for a second. I teach something meaningful and connected each day, so I guess it's not as bad as it feels, but it feels like I am failing.

Regarding failing, today I actually said out loud to a teacher who borrows my room for one period, "I am so glad that I make it through each week and no one wants to fire me." Like, I totally said that. Out loud. To another teacher. She smiled and laughed, but I don't think she quite realized that my dry humor was so dry when I said it that I was dead serious. Now all I can picture is a dead piece of driftwood. And now squirrels because SQUIRREL! 

Yes, I am totally exhausted, even so exhausted that I am making jokes about my jokes, and all of them are of the stupid variety. Good grief. So anyway . . .

As I reflect on the bigger picture, it is the best feeling each day when I still have a key to the school and one for my classroom. I worry about finding balance ever, but I honestly feel a wave of gratitude as I put the key into the lock and turn it every school day. That feeling of being entrusted with the minds of young people gives me energy to keep trying and doing my very best.