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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...

possibly for good

Questioning my intellect 
As I cry more tears for you
Asking myself why
For the thousandth time
Throwing the door open
When you know even if they don't yet
Giving away that part of your heart
You promised you'd hold safe
Locking it away for just one more
But it goes unreceived—rejected
Baring everything for naught
Apparently a repetition of the past
Realizing nothing is the same
Always nothing; never the one
Questioning; crying; trying to comprehend
As day never breaks for me
Locking away this broken heart
Shutting down for now

courage to wait

I wrote that title almost a year ago. Typed it into the title box and left it as a place marker for writing something someday. I'm sure I meant to get back to it much sooner, but the time for writing has finally arrived. 

Courage, waiting, and patience have been words that keep coming to the surface of my mind. Courage in waiting, patience in waiting, not waiting but being truly patient in my living, and courage in living so as to not wait but be ready for whatever comes my way: these are the angles at which I explore this life I have. 

The past couple of weeks have been a time for reflection, so I've reigned myself in and shut out the rest of the world as much as I can manage. I have not felt courageous. I have not been waiting for anything either. I have not felt anything except an abiding desire to be patient and to step away from this sense of forever being unwanted. I couldn't even describe what I'm thinking half of the time because there is such a numbness to it that there are no words. 

Right now, I just don't have the courage to wait and see what comes next. It will come regardless, so in that knowledge I will hold on to hope. 


unfiltered untouched unforgettable

tears of love and gratitude empty onto my face
tears of wounded sadness fill my empty chest
tears for those whom I miss
tears for they who don't miss me
tears for all the heartache
tears for all the apathy
tears fall unseen along the roadside
tears fall with love caressed away
tears that cleanse the heart
tears that stretch it to love further
tears like gentle rain in spring
tears like a destroying tempest
tears give and take
tears smite and heal

never spring

forgotten what love looks like
maybe I never learnt
possibly there never has been 
anyone to practice with
perhaps the landscape will
never bear its weight
horizons ever searched
emblazoned with hope
hold the hidden treasures
golden and unfettered
opportunity rises like the sun
day after day until
she realizes how her only
warmth comes from the
icy cold fingers of winter
because spring won't
show its face
for fear of never
reaching summer

perspective shifts

They happen all the time. You are going along with life, making plans, holding onto hopes, and dreaming happy dreams. And then—something changes. A word is said, an action is taken, something is not done or undone, promises feigned or broken, and all of a sudden the world looks different to you, and you have to find a way to breathe again. You have to put one foot in front of the other, numb and wishing things could be different. But then you stop to realize that they are. You got different, just not the different you want. That's how change goes. Dependable and inevitable. Changed forever. Even if it's almost imperceptible. Never to go back the same again. So you keep going, you keep trying, you open up the door to all the happiness you can find. And the miraculous thing about it all is how you get to be surprised every so often with something good around the corner from change.

So here's to perspective shifts, change, and hopefully more wonderful surprises than I know what to do with.



Love and love some more. That is all I know to do. 
Change course. Change my footing.
Change, change, change. Always for me to do. 

Taking hold of my stripped heart
As if after a long journey 
But only to the halfway mark
Yet just as famished for affection
Clamoring to hold on for breath
Stammering to hold in the hurt
Choking down words I have not
The ability to speak aloud. 
There is nowhere for me 
To make safe landing
No shore to beckon me toward
Tied onto nothing 
That keeps the wind from whipping
Across the ages and furthermore.

Love. More. Knowing it resides within your core. 
Stay the course. Yet make a course correction. 
Change perspective. Love a little more. 

Never the beloved. Never the one protected. 
Move, move, move. Keeping busy to pretend
Nothing cuts so deeply that I'll never see the end.

Seeking to Become - May 2015

Sometimes—more like a lot of times—I feel weak. The problems that I face every day push and pull on my time and mental energy. My physical energy crashes and burns sometimes too. There never seems to be enough of me to take care of everyone and everything. But I have noticed that everything works out in the end, either at the end of the day or the end of the project or whatever the case may be, but it always works out.

Throughout the past month or so, I have been watching for the small and simple means by which things happen. I have noticed that friends will step up, a phone call will come at just the right time to remind me of something important, problems get resolved in ways out of my control, and so on. There are countless ways in which the pace I can keep turns out to be just enough.

Realizing my weakness, I had been seeking solace and strength, and ran across the scripture Isaiah 40:31
They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.  
These words comforted me in that very moment when I felt overwhelmed by all the demands that had been placed upon me. My desire to keep trying to be better was renewed in simply knowing that promise. I am not perfect in any way, yet waiting on the Lord is not about being perfect; it is about striving toward being more like him each day.

As this month continues on, I want to focus on becoming better at waiting on the Lord: being patient, faithful, and striving to follow Christ more perfectly. I hope you will join me.

nestled in

People do things that make an impact on us as individuals and as a collective whole every day. I believe that the things others don't do can make a difference in our lives as well—things like not turning their backs when things get difficult, not letting love fade into oblivion, and (one thing out of our control) not dying.

I was reading a slice of life the other day about a Close Call, and it touched me to my core. I openly discuss how much I miss my parents, but I want to make sure the world knows that the living are my heart's priority.

My life has so much. I have so much. My family circle has several layers. My children are generally happy and healthy. I have friends—scads of them. With so many wonderful people to love, it can be a challenge to stay connected, yet making sure that everyone knows I care is something that I attempt to do. Putting off things such as telling someone thank you, giving a hug, or taking time to talk and share a moment you'll never get back makes for a whole lot of missing treasure. When you wait, you chance never having the opportunity to open the door to the stuff that counts.

One of the treasures I want to specifically acknowledge is how each day I have the privilege of caring for my children and watching them grow up. Even on the worst of days, I would not trade the honor that it is for anything.

Treasuring life does have its cost. I will admit to experiencing a heavy load of heartache as I examine my wish to live so deeply in life's moments. I recognize that not everyone wants to be this way, and sometimes I feel quite solitary for it. Yet whenever bittersweetness encroaches, I listen for the newness and hope of loving gratitude nestled in my heart, and what I witness is exquisite. Even with emotional cost at a high, I will continue to love with all I have because I simply will not forgive myself if I miss even one chance to love a little more. In turn, I don't want to miss not a single moment when love is shared or returned.

I don't want to miss any of it.

stepping stones

photo: C.T. Duncan

Papers stacked in piles and piles
A tunnel to trudge through
Upon my desk surrounded
By the wrappings up of a glorious
Time worth more than gold
Exhaustion on mental, physical, and
Emotional levels too high to comprehend
Visions of the year to come
Sneak by as the hopes for adventure
Now, Tomorrow, and Forever
Crowd out all the noise
Lead me out of the darkened hall
Because without love and belonging
Life is simply work
And I want more than that
I want to live for life and
Enjoy the moments that get us through
With memories to bridge the gaps
And make the stacks and piles
Nothing more than stepping stones
To cherishing more of you

holding out for summer

photo: C.T. Duncan

This end of the school year business is for the birds! I have learned so much about what I will not be doing next year by the absolute torture I am going through right now with grading. I feel shackled to the grading, and I just hate it. The pressure is killing my enthusiasm. 

Now that I have that out, I want to express how much I adore being a teacher. These students of mine are creative, thoughtful, and ready to learn anything I can teach them. I have received numerous emails, notes, cards, gifts, and even one student wrote a song for me and another teacher and created a video performing it. I was actually worried about that particular student not feeling challenged enough, but he decided to stay at my private school because of how awesome I (and the other teacher) am. What a source of joy and satisfaction teaching can be! So much adventure in each new day.

I will miss my students. That is true. But I will also be happy to leave grading behind me and have the chance for further adventures this summer. I want to ride on planes, drive in cars, ride the rails, and see the sun, moon, and stars under as many different skies as possible. Just writing these things out onto the page has me bubbling with excitement. Pure hyperactivity! The possibilities are absolutely endless. 

I long to lose track of time and space, to take photographs without number, to show my wishes on my face and watch them coming true in that very moment. I long for another summer—not the same summer—but another summer filled with every good thing that delightful happenstance and a handful of good decisions can bring. 

more to offer

Since my mother isn't around to show appreciation in person, I like to honor her by taking time to remember as well as further understand her beautiful life.

As I slow down to consider all that my mother gave me, I realize that her example of taking time for herself was invaluable. She took time to nourish her heart, mind, and soul. Reaching out to my father, family, and friends was something I witnessed her doing continually. She would give gifts, write letters, make phone calls, organize family parties, take people in, sew, sing, and play her piano. My mother gave to all around her, and in her giving she received what she needed. She needed to see how she was making a difference in life and to feel loved in return. I know this thing about my mother because I feel the same needs. I do some of the same things without even thinking or trying. It is as if those habits and talents are embedded in me, and my heart swells in gratitude to her for being the gardener of such goodness. I have long understood that I owe her so much.

What I didn't realize was how all that she did made her a happier and, therefore, better mother. I wonder if she felt driven to do what she did in order to have more to give—or if she did it without conscious purpose. Either way, she made life good for us despite her faults and failings. She seemed to always know what to say or do to make life better even under the harshest of circumstances. She genuinely made life better for everyone around her.

To apply these thoughts to my own life, I ponder what more I might do to consciously nourish my heart, mind, and soul so as to have more to offer as a mother. I need to reach out in purposeful ways that induce happiness, that cultivate joyfulness, that create a sense of fulfillment, so I will be glad to give more than seems possible on some days. Truth be told, some days ask too much. Some days I don't know how I will make it. And on some days my heart is so broken because I can't see far enough ahead of me to know if I'm on the right track.

My goal this year to become more joyful has included cultivating friendships and love and making memories, and so far so good. In taking time to honor my mother, I can see with better understanding how a more joyful me helps me become a better mother. My heart is full of love for her and for all that I am because of her example.

Years gone by:

Mother's Day 2014
Thoughts on grief

Mother's Day 2013
A silly poem I wrote for my mother while she was alive

Mother's Day 2012
My children and I escaped to a hotel for Mother's Day weekend, and I wrote this poem after seeing them all contented and asleep.

Mother's Day 2011
A poem honoring my mother

my glad garden

As I sit down to write out a slice of my life, I ponder what to write. What should I put a macro lens on and capture with my pen? I then begin to think about the poem "God's Garden" by Robert Frost, and the answer is clear to me which garden I will tend.

My Glad Garden

There is negativity weaved throughout each day,
Yet there are also goodness, mercy, and love
That overflow the minutes and hours.
I wish to nourish and admire
The wonderful aspects keeping me full of hope.

The purpose and joy I gain
From having my children with me
And a surprising, loving friendship
I have grown to rely on are shining lights
That bring a smile to my face.
Having food and a desire
To take care of this precious body
Are two more things that make my garden glad.

A home, fulfilling job, treasured friends,
And growing faith are also part
Of the happiness that keeps me
Looking toward the sun with hope.
The charity and forgiveness
That also come my way,
Washing my heart of the dust
It has had to suffer,
Makes each day a fresh delight.

I look around me
To recognize the lovely life I lead.
I have so much.
Too much to even count.

Just south of Dallas, Texas

related link:

glad garden

A Month's Worth of Poetry 2015

April 2015 has included the most wide range of exquisite emotions I've felt in longer than I can remember. It has had heartache, potential heartbreak, love, affection, humility, gratitude, pride in my family, accomplishment, introspection, excitement, and an overall increase in passion for life that I hope keeps on growing. I hope that as you have already read or will read each poem you feel like you experience this journey.

Thank you for your ever felt support for me as a writer, photographer, and creative being. It means everything to me.

1.  Not Ready

2.  Missing

3.  Simplicity

4.  Building Walls

5.  With You

6.  Draw Nearer

7.  Ink and Chalk

8.  Reflection

9.  Another Day

10. Ever Blossoming

11. Sunny Shore

12. Truth of the Matter

13. That Early Morning

14. Every Ounce

15. Fine Detail

16. Sunshine Faces

17. Journey

18. Joy Now

19. Emerging

20. Complementary

21. Falling

22. Invariable

23. Steady Love

24. Glad Garden

25. Loving Expressions

26. Balm

27. Night's Black and White

28. Hop the Fence

29. Beautiful Pain

30. Wanting

More of my journey: