Evening Poetry, April 11

In honor of National Poetry Month, and Mary Oliver, our beloved national poet who passed away in January, I will be posting one of her poems each evening in April. I am hoping to follow in the footsteps of Sarah Clarkson and read a poem on Instagram Live in the evenings as well…Follow me on Instagram to tune in.

Moments

There are moments that cry out to be fulfilled.

Like, telling someone you love them.

Or giving your money away, all of it.

Your heart is beating, isn’t it?

You’re not in chains, are you?

There is nothing more pathetic than caution

when headlong might save a life,

even, possibly, your own.

This poem can be found in the collection, Felicity.

Evening Poetry, April 10

In honor of National Poetry Month, and Mary Oliver, our beloved national poet who passed away in January, I will be posting one of her poems each evening in April. I am hoping to follow in the footsteps of Sarah Clarkson and read a poem on Instagram Live in the evenings as well…Follow me on Instagram to tune in.

I Don’t Want to Lose

I don’t want to lose a single thread

from the intricate brocade of this happiness.

I want to remember everything.

Which is why I’m lying awake, sleepy

but not sleepy enough to give it up.

Just now, a moment from years ago:

the early morning light, the deft, sweet

gesture of your hand

reaching for me.

This poem can be found in the collection Felicity.

Evening Poetry, April 9

In honor of National Poetry Month, and Mary Oliver, our beloved national poet who passed away in January, I will be posting one of her poems each evening in April. I am hoping to follow in the footsteps of Sarah Clarkson and read a poem on Instagram Live in the evenings as well…Follow me on Instagram to tune in.

Logos

Why wonder about the loaves and the fishes?

If you say the right words, the wine expands,

If you say them with love

and the felt ferocity of that love

and the felt necessity of that love,

the fish explode into many.

Imagine him, speaking,

and don’t worry about what is reality,

or what is plain, or what is mysterious.

If you were there, it was all those things.

If you can imagine it, it is all those things.

Eat, drink, be happy.

Accept the miracle.

Accept, too, each spoken word

spoken with love.

This poem can be found in the collection Why I Wake Early.

The Hardest Promises to Keep

I don’t know about you, but I have a lifetime of breaking promises to myself. Of telling myself one thing and doing another. Of agreeing on a course of action only to face the unpleasantness and lack of novelty of follow-through and fizzle out.

Last summer, I was made aware of this while listening to a podcast by Rachel Hollis. She talked about how so many people are in the habit of starting and stopping things, about the lack of commitment to our own priorities, about how breaking promises to yourself makes you not trust yourself. And how no one would flake out on another person the way we often flake out on ourselves. That idea–of keeping promises to myself–was one I hadn’t really thought of before. I don’t know why.

Although I neither blame my parents or the Christian culture I was raised in, my life–the way I think and live– has been affected. Sometimes it’s been very positive, sometimes not. One of the “nots” would be this rather irksome saying my mother used to quote to me when I was a child: “Jesus first, Others second, and You always last. That spells JOY!” Sorry, Mom, but it ain’t necessarily so!

The whole concept of living to serve God and others is a noble one and I am not suggesting that now I have seen the light and only serve myself. I believe that a human who lives only for self winds up feeling empty and dissatisfied, lonely, and worthless. We all need to be investing part of ourselves in that which is greater than us, in that which may not serve us, but which will benefit others.

But in the past few years, I have begun to see how damaging the above concepts can be for women who think that God wants them to spend their entire lives putting aside their needs and/or desires, because someone else’s needs or wants must always come first. And as much as I hated to admit it, I had done a good deal of this as well. Until age 39 when I fell apart. My experience is not so unusual, really. As Brendon Burchard says, “Living incongruent to what you believe is the greatest form of unhappiness.”

So after I had my mid-life crisis, as it’s aptly called, I reassessed everything. I began to catch myself when I would say yes to something that I really didn’t want to do. I had to remind myself often of the Jen Hatmaker quote, “If it’s not a Hell, yes, it’s a No.” And this past year, I have begun to deal with my lack of consistency in many areas of my life and make myself do what I told myself I was going to do.

Commitment to myself is tough, but I know it is right! That means if I have time scheduled to write or work or exercise and one of my kids wants me to drive them last minute, or a friend wants to come over, I have to say no. It’s hard to disappoint people–I hate it!!! But I’ve had plenty of practice disappointing people in the past few years between leaving church, getting a divorce, getting remarried and living differently than I did before. (I am starting to warm up to the idea of writing more about this difficult season I’ve been in.)
If you have a habit of breaking promises to yourself, it’s going to be a process to turn things around. Begin with something small, but be on the lookout for places in your life where you constantly shove yourself aside to please others. You put things off, change your plans, let personal growth and wellness goals fall by the wayside because someone else is demanding. Again, I’m not saying live to please only you, but there has to be some place for you in this life. “Your one wild and precious life” as Mary Oliver says. I will leave you with her poem The Summer Day. Happy Monday, friends!

The Summer Day

Who made the world?

Who made the swan, and the black bear?

Who made the grasshopper?

This grasshopper I mean–

the one who has flung herself out of the grass,

the one who is eating sugar out of my hand.

who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down–

who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.

Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.

Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.

I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.

I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down

into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,

how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields

which is what I have been doing all day.

Tell me, what else should I have done?

Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?

Tell me, what is it you plan to do

with your one wild and precious life.

–Mary Oliver

Flourless Chocolate Cake, Gluten Free, Dairy Free (Recipe)

Last year, right before our birthday (Alan and I share the same day), I began looking for a cake recipe that I would actually like. I’m not much of a cake person–I like not-too-sweet chocolatey, creamy or fruity desserts and pies–as long as they are free of gluten and dairy. I started thinking about flourless chocolate cake and came across several that looked tempting. I decided on one from The Spruce Eats and gave it a try.

It was so easy to make and IT WAS DELICIOUS!!! I made it again at the end of September when some friends came for dinner and again at Thanksgiving. Then I forgot about it until last week when I suddenly wanted dessert and couldn’t think of anything to make, until, suddenly, the vision of flourless chocolate cake danced in my head! It was just as delightful as I remembered, so I am sharing it with you. (Recipe slightly adapted from The Spruce Eats)

Flourless Chocolate Cake

1 cup or 6 oz dark or bittersweet chocolate bars broken into chunks or chips

2/3 cup sugar

1/2 cup sunflower or other mild-flavored oil

1 Tablespoon brewed coffee or just use water

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

4 large eggs

1/2 cup of cacao or cocoa powder

About an hour before, set eggs on counter so they’ll come to room temperature.

Preheat oven to 350 F and oil either an 8-inch springform pan and line with parchment paper or a 8 or 9 regular cake or tart pan (if you’re feeling lazy).

Carefully melt chocolate in the microwave or stove top on super low heat, stirring often to prevent burning/scorching. (Yep, I’ve done it!)

Transfer melted chocolate to mixing bowl, add sugar and blend with mixing paddle. Add in the oil, coffee or water, cinnamon, salt, and vanilla.

Add eggs one at a time, stirring after each addition.

Add in the cocoa powder and mix well.

Pour batter into pan, even out with a spatula, and bake for 30-35 minutes or until the top has a thin, shiny crust and toothpick comes out mostly clean.

Place pan on wire rack to cool. When cool, if using a springform pan, unlatch the side and invert the cake onto a plate. If using a regular cake pan, just serve and enjoy!

It’s really good with Coconut Whipped Cream and/or raspberry sauce!

I forgot to take a picture before I dug into it–it’s that good!

What is Saving My Life Right Now

How was your Monday? I felt like I didn’t move very quickly from one task to another today. My theory is that my body gets to the point where it just has enough and purposely slows down. The weekend was full with late work hours and going to see my daughter in The Addams Family Musical at her high school on Friday and Sunday.

On Sunday evening after the show, Alan and I made a Vegan Shepherd’s Pie and Gluten Free, Dairy Free Irish Soda Bread while listening to Celtic music in celebration of Saint Patrick’s Day. It felt good to return to a tradition I enjoyed with my children when they were younger and had let go of in the past few years. I am looking forward to the rest of this week and to another celebration– the first day of Spring!!!

So here is where I follow several bloggers who have taken a cue from author Barbara Brown Taylor to answer the question: “What is saving your life right now?” Here is my list of current or ongoing lifesavers.

My Bullet Journal Notebook: I’m not going to stop singing the Bullet Journal’s praises, so if you’ve never heard of it, here’s an in-depth delve from Lazy Genius into the Bullet Journal world. (It really is the ultimate guide and will answer lots of your questions.)


The Bullet Journal is this ridiculously simple analog method of keeping your life together in one place. It works for everyone, is completely customizable, and once you start using it, you will be lost without it. This year, I got Alan on the Bullet Journal train and he’s enjoying using it to keep his life organized. This is my fourth year and I am continually finding new ways to entrust my life to its pages. The good news is, you can start it anytime. Check out the Bullet Journal website for short videos showing what it is and how to use it. Once you start, you won’t look back.

My diffuser: I haven’t been sick once all winter and I credit my diffuser, as well as my diet full of whole and green foods and low in sugar! I have several essential oil blends I’ve made and tested to keep me healthy. I’ll be sharing a few blends this week on Wednesday’s post.

My Blackwing Palomino 602 Pencils: as a left-handed writer, my hand tends to cramp up and get tired fairly quickly. There is a fluid elegance and ease to these pencils that have earned them high praise from many famous creatives.

Glo, formerly YogaGlo, is the primary way I practice yoga. In early December, I signed up for the free trial and never looked back. From 5 minute meditations, to 90 minute yoga classes, from super chill restorative Yin and gently Hatha to a sweaty Vinyasa Flow, there are choices for everyone.

You can search by time length, by instructor, by style, by body part you wish to focus on, by time of day, etc. As I work toward my goal of yoga and meditation everyday, Glo provides me with a feast of opportunities to practice.

Barre3 is the other exercise life-saver that I am in love with. It is a combination of ballet, Pilates, cardio, and yoga and is always low-impact. You will sweat, but you will never jump. Even their Barre3 Burpees are slow and much attention is paid to proper alignment, so my wrists and knees have never been sore afterwards. My butt and legs have, though!

It is a workout unlike any other I’ve experienced and the Barre3 message is body-positive and affirming. They’re never pushing you through a workout so you can look great in a bikini. Their language is aimed at building strength, confidence, and feeling good in your own body. They encourage people to pay attention to how they’re feeling (example: “If there is any tension in your neck, lower your arms, etc.”) and to modify each move to make it their own. Here is $10 off if you decide to join!

I’d love to hear what is saving your life right now! Please share in the comments below. Also, I will be giving away my copy of The Bullet Journal Method by Ryder Carroll and a couple other goodies on Instagram this week. So head over to my Instagram tomorrow Tuesday March 19 to enter. (US only)

What to Tell Yourself When You Feel Like a Failure

Let me be honest: it is a challenge to walk the wellness path I encourage others toward. It takes lots of time and dedication to the dreams I want to manifest. It takes willpower, grit, gumption, tears, motivation from many sources and plenty of failing forward. I have many areas I still want to master. In the spirit of transparency, here are some of the things I am working on this year:

I need to be dedicated to daily writing, daily meditation and yoga, daily practice of my instruments. I have an irregular schedule, so I’m thinking that the best way to make these things happen are to make appointments in my calendar app and then follow through. I am not a morning person and do not think clearly enough to write first thing, except morning pages, perhaps. But maybe yoga would work in the morning.

Here is the emotional/mental/spiritual aspect of myself I need help with the most: being grounded in my body enough that I can be calmer, less anxious. I startle easily, am a “Nervous Nellie” as Alan calls me, and am often on the verge of panic. I am taking an herbal blend and use essential oils in the diffuser to help with this, but there are more pieces of this puzzle to be found.

The relational and personal growth-type of area I most need help in: being able to stop what I’m doing and focus on the other person, whom I love, without being preoccupied with work and wishing I wasn’t interrupted. It is really hard for me to change gears, let go of my plan, and be present with someone when I think I really need to get back to whatever I was doing.

I may fake it as well as I can on the outside, but inside, I’m fuming at having to live someone else’s plan for myself. Sometimes I can tell them that now isn’t a good time, but plenty of other times, I need to let this be my life: giving my time, energy, love and attention to the other person.

After all my years serving at church, reading books on selflessness and about being more like Christ, I wonder if I’ve progressed at all? I still like what I like and although I can be a grownup and do all the responsible, giving things on the outside, on the inside I am often willful and rebellious, smart-mouthed and sarcastic. It’s a good thing we can’t hear each other’s thoughts!

So, what do I tell myself? Do your best today! That is my aim everyday, as I’m sure it is yours. We aim to be our best selves, we sometimes miss the mark, but we reassess and keep going after the goal.

How do we treat ourselves after falling on our faces? Plenty of negative, critical self-talk, right? To care for yourself, though, and to promote inner emotional and mental health, you need to be kind to yourself. If you, like me so often, tend to beat yourself up with your thoughts and inner talk, then switch it up! Be encouraging. Find things to compliment about yourself. Remind yourself that mercies are new every morning. Tell yourself “I love you and you deserve to be loved”.

For Lent this year, I gave up negative self-talk about my body and my actions. Every time I catch myself getting ready to unload the mean words gun, I am amazed at how natural it is. It feels weird saying “I love you” to the parts of my body that I’ve never liked much. It feels weird to not criticize the way my jeans fit or my face looks on live video. It’s uncomfortable, but it’s stretching me in the right direction!

So today, assess your life and be honest about where you need to grow, be more consistent, be kinder, let go, create space, or boundaries. But notice the way you talk to yourself and if it tends toward the negative, then begin to sweeten your tone, be encouraging and kind, and tell yourself you are loved and lovable. Because you are!