Shadow Bones

wildflowers

I see you there in the shadows pretending you don’t see me.

I’m not there to hurt you, but to love you without question.

To you that may seem an impossible task because “Who’d love you?”

I’ll take out my soul light, holding it high in the air dissipating

The aura of unworthiness, the wall of hostile protection

The child that feels as lost as I have felt

I hear your cries in the dark as the nightmares scream

I’m not there to harm you, but to comfort your fears tenderly

That may feel unlikely considering the state you’re in

I’ll hold up my soul light, filled with love so the dark can’t have

Your rebirth into fruitfulness, your abundance like pomegranate

The child that screams with a voice now heard, like mine.

I feel your heart fighting as fiercely as a cornered animal

I’m not here to defeat you, but to support your victory

You believe you are broken, but I see the power of your will

I’ll offer my soul light as your shield as you fight for you

For your dreams, happiness, love, peace, your very spirit

That child that is frantic to stay safe knows me

I can’t offer redemption. I can’t even offer you a path.

What I can give you is my deepest support as you traverse

Acceptance of your divinity, your understanding of love

Your worthiness of compassion, your gift of kindness

I offer my soul light so you can find your own.

That child knows I am free, release the regrets

Bloom into the garden of unique flora and fauna.

Here, have some of my seeds.

Love Lives

The place that is welcoming

is the home where love lives

Not only where love is,

but where it is cherished

nurtured, adored, revered,

but most of all,

given fertile soil to blossom

overly abundant blooms everywhere.

These Are My People: ORUUC

Oak Ridge Unitarian Universalist Church, Oak Ridge, Tennessee

Oak Ridge Unitarian Universalist Church, Oak Ridge, Tennessee

I’m not a religious person. I don’t classify or call myself anything in particular except maybe leaning towards spiritual. It’s not because I don’t believe in “something” but because I see validity is so much. A few years ago, I felt a strong push as I heard a loud voice tell me to go to the ORUUC. Over the course of two years I found the family I’d been promised by the winds. They didn’t come in the shapes, sizes, or ages I expected, but there is not a doubt in my heart or soul they are my blood kin.

From the youngest children, such as Rayn, to the oldest of children such as Miss Marge, I was blessed with knowing, learning, and understanding some of the most beautiful people I could have asked for. Outside of the confines of the church there were some people whom could meet my level of tomfoolery, but never in my adult life have I found the encouragement to be everything I was meant to be as I did there.

But how can I say that an entire church is my family? A church? It hardly seems possible. What I learned from them, will follow me everywhere I go because I value the life-lessons I was given.

Be Passionate

When I first started going to the Unitarian Universalist Church, I was wisely advised to take my time in selecting what I wanted to do because everything has passionate players. They weren’t kidding. I watched the different volunteer positions to see which I felt I could be enthusiastically involved with. I discovered I loved to greet people, loved to protect, and loved to serve. I ended up joining the safety team, co-leading the hosts and greeters, as well as serving as fifth Sunday usher. I even did coffee a couple times. Find what you’re passionate about and without excuse or what-if’s, jump in and do it.

Learn Names

One of my favorite things to do on a Sunday morning was to be greeter. I have a knack for remembering the names with faces I see often. I could greet nearly everyone in our medium sized congregation by name as they approached the door. That I could do that, hug them, welcome them, demonstrated I truly was glad to see them. Learning people’s name that you see every day no matter who they are is key to discovering some of the coolest people you might never had opportunity of doing so if not for that small effort. When you remember people’s names, they know that someone in the world knows they exist. I believe that’s crucial to mental health.

Talk is cheap, Action is richer

Many times I’d listen to people in the neighborhood where I lived talking about how unhappy they were with where they lived (I was one of them for a while), their circumstances, their addictions, their kids, the etc. What I noticed was that none of them were doing anything to change any of that. They just noted it sucked but continued the same behaviors. I learned that it’s okay to complain because, really, that’s just an acknowledgment that an issue exists.

Once you’ve realized there is a problem, making a difference is the only way that problem will go away. You can kick sand over it, behave like an ostrich, or pretend it doesn’t exist, but once you know it’s there, it’s the Universe’s way of nudging you to make it better. Terry Goodkind wrote in his Sword of Truth series (loosely quoted), “You already know what the problem is, think of the solution.”

I saw solutions pouring out of the people at ORUUC far more than I saw problems. It was the most collaborative group of people I’ve ever worked with. Even when hackles got ruffled, which happens in any large group, everyone worked to make sure that the final solution was a balance. Do what you need to do to bring the positive changes into the world because happiness is worth it.

Fool for love

Pastor Jake Morrill’s closing words for the services he gives are ones I took to heart. He says, “Be pilgrims for justice and fools for love!” What profoundly simple words with such an enormous responsibility behind them. If he chose a different closing, I’d walk away rather bummed because I truly took on the challenge when he would use it.

I believe we should all fall madly in love with the world every day. No excuses, just open your eyes and fall. Even the people or things that irk your sensibilities the most are worthy of love. It’s not for you to choose who is okay or what is okay to love, just do it.

I’m not in any way implying that you can’t have preferences, nor that you should eliminate safety measures for the sake of love. I’m saying that when you look at the world as if it were your intimate lover and you its muse, you’ll find a different kind of kismet with the divinity that is everything; The atom of begin times, the eve of creation.

To clarify, I call everything the Universe, because as a rule, we can all agree there is one. If I called the Universe God, then that specific version that you know/doubt/reject/hate/don’t believe in, would negate this idea. BUT! If I call it the Universe, we can meet at whatever version of that ultimate we accept.

Using this idea, be the fool for love because love has a transformational magic that can be witnessed where two hearts meet in unison. Thus, if you’re falling madly in love with the world every breath you take, does it not then make sense that love will rule your world? And further that love will light your path to happiness because love doesn’t hurt? Indeed. As I was taught by those who love me there, be that fool for love.

A village

A short while before I moved away, I received an email that reminded the Sunday volunteers of the roles they promised to step in to fill. A reply to that email was astounded at the amount of people that took responsibility to make the service appear to be without effort. It made me giggle a bit because I was actively involved in the volunteer activities. I knew how many people it took because of that.

Sidenote: My husband would get really frustrated with me because I’d try to do way more than my body could handle. He’d have to verbally remind me, “Mare, you’re not Atlas. You don’t have to do everything yourself.”

It’s the same when facing life’s many challenges (like moving out of state with a weeks notice). You’re not Atlas. Just like sharing your great experiences with your friends, sharing burdens makes them easier to bear as well. Nothing limits you to only putting on your good face. Being a human with All The Bumpy Bits is by far more deeply satisfying overall in my experience. When you find people willing to be human with you, that’s a rare and beautiful gift. Shine for them even from your darkest places. It’s worth it.

There are so many lessons I’ve learned from the beautiful people I am honored enough to call my friends at ORUUC that I couldn’t possibly cover it in one writing. I hope you will bear with me as I process this tremendous life shift. Together we can be incredible humans together on this wild journey called life.

Always Beautiful

I fall madly in love every day with people I meet, talk to, hang out with, shop with, or see on the streets. Sometimes I keep them (like my dearest of friends), while others I write off to good feelings, but I always fall madly in love. It’s the best part of being alive for me.

I think it’s crucial. If you see someone do something kind, overhear a pleasant conversation, see someone being completely them…fall in love without regrets. You don’t have to act, just fall because when you do…the world is a prettier place. It’s a better place. Happiness and hope flow like liquid silver throughout the day as if nearly transcendent. Who can feel poorly when love is all around flying through the air with graceful messages on every face?

In my pocket full of happiness, I keep little cards that are about 2X2”. On them there are little hearts in the corners with some pretty art down three sides. In the middle, the card has the words, “Always Beautiful.”

A short stack of beauty

A short stack of beauty

That way when I see beautiful things and beautiful people I can let them know that I witnessed them in this world. I SAW them be beautiful. I do it because we all need to be reminded of the beauty of our lives that we take for granted too easily. Life is too precious not to acknowledge beauty when we see it.

My little cards give people something to hold onto that is a tangible reminder that their beauty shined brightly enough for a stranger (or me, rather) to notice. I give them away for radiant smiles, a sweet gesture, a considerate action, a note of dedication acknowledging their hard work, a perfect laugh, or elegance in crafting a movement of body enough to bring me awe or wellies.

But, love. I’m a sucker for love.

I see a kiss between lovers that is one that reaffirms that they are together. Just a simple brush of lips with the inevitable smile of tenderness and affection. That will coax a card from my pocket so fast it practically catches fire. I am particularly fond of couples who aren’t considered mainstream (YET!) because it demonstrates to me that the power of love is worth every sacrifice.

Copy, print, send them out into the world with love, beauty, and happiness in your heart!

Copy, print, send them out into the world with love, beauty, and happiness in your heart!

I encourage you to make your own. I use cardstock to make them last a bit longer. It’s a small way to make the world a happier place in which to walk. It’s a great way to say, “Hey, you’re beautiful and I want you to remember that for as long as possible, because today, I noticed.”

I stop with me

I have discovered a magic within

one that depends not on blood, kith, or kin

It is the luminous moon

the heated sun

the gathering of teary puddles

the shattered undone.

The siren’s wail of my mortality

blooming forth into all possibilities

For some a child is a promise of eternal life

a quenching relief from the death born strife

But I have found magic within my hands

which I’ve been commanded to touch on the lands

to forgo my fears of tomorrow’s gleaning

to step loudly into the room of vanity preening

that I, with the breath of truth on my lips,

must shatter the walls with the twitch of my hips

While singing hymns of thanksgiving, love, and peace

While weeping with gratitude, I crawl on my knees

The oceans of tears that matters to healing

have accepted my joy of life now appealing

For I have discovered my magic within

Ne’er shall I die, for the darkness can’t win.

The Month of May I Please

I believe in good things. I believe in great people. I believe that talking to the ceiling and looking to the sky will get anyone through anything (I’m living proof) if they want to see the change happen. (Barring major health issues because I’m not sure how it works with that thank goodness). But I’ve been given something I’ve dreamed about my entire life; Happiness.

During the month of April I participated in a NaPoWriMo via Magaly Guerrero. It was a challenge to complete but I did it and, if I do say so myself, kicked out some pretty decent poems too. Then May rolled around to my front door while I was beset with grief over the loss of my best friend, Gary Buckets.

Gary Buckets

Gary Buckets

Gary Buckets is asleep in the picture, not dead. I wouldn’t do that to you.

Anywho, the month of May rolls in with teary eyes, a feeling of resounding loss that even as I write this hasn’t quite escaped my heart. But, I’ve been artistically on a roll. I’ve just published my first book, broke it up into two other editions (three of them for sale), had art displayed, have art in an auction I take Knoxville Pride in, and have a solo show coming up on June 20th.

The deepest feelings I’ve expressed artistically are something I treasure about myself. I wonder how I got so lucky. I mean, I’m rarely with money in my pocket, but yet I rarely want for anything I need. I have limited mobility, but I’m always where I seem to be needed most. I’m a hard worker, but I’ve had more fun painting, drawing, and experiencing life in full color, full emotion, full on/head on in the month of May, then I’ve a recollection of doing. It’s been an extraordinary bout of love, grief, joy, peace, spirituality, conviviality, writing, poems, and art.

The only thing I did differently in this month was saying Yes to what fills my heart with the most joy. If that means serving, then I’m doing it. If it means transporting, okay. If that means sitting with a friend whose heart hurts, then so be it. I’ve listened to my intuition every day with such great success that I will continue to do so. It works. What’s weirder still, to me anyway, is that not only am I happier, but other people around me seem to find happiness easier too. They seem to take my challenge of “Why not?” seriously and have tried some pretty extraordinary things which, good or bad, have all taught grand lessons of fantastic proportions.

I encourage you, my friends to do the same for thirty days. Follow the bliss that is your heart. The negative voices be damned. You are worth every bit of this joy. I keep saying this, even in a recent post, but it’s true. It really is. The world needs YOU! The YOU that you’re meant to be, not the one you’re told by outside people you SHOULD be. Give it a spin. 30 days. If you can’t commit to that, I’ll show you a quick way to learn to fall madly in love with yourself in three days if you’ll trust me.

May I? Yes, please!

The pocket full of happiness

I keep a pocket full of happiness with me almost always. It contains: two rubber ducks (one yellow with the word Believe on its chest, the other silver), a squishy rubber pig, an alpaca, a scarab beetle, a small handmade book, and a full sized harmonica.

Top Hat Ravioli

Top Hat Ravioli

I use it to bring smiles to children and adults alike. I change it up sometimes so there are different things, but those are typically the staple items. If you want to see someone smile really big, pull something they’d never expect from your own pocket. Fussy kids? No problem, pull out a rubber pig. Cranky adults? No sweat, a rubber duck usually does the trick. Giving them an unexpected surprise from a stranger’s pocket (that isn’t disgusting or ethically challenging) brings joy which is kind of a trademark of mine.

It’s the Monday after payday and our finances have hit as close to nada as they’ve ever been. The ban on overtime (even the measly four hours my husband would get a week) really hurt. Our groceries came out of that overtime and boy are we feeling it.

I felt a tremendous amount of stress when I went to Pet Supplies to get food for the cats and dogs. The bags of food glared hatefully at me, “You don’t have enough money to feed them and you too.” The prices exclaimed disdainfully. I started to cry. I broke down in the middle of the aisle while my frequent companion, six year old (nearly seven) neighbor Nicholas, was off looking at fish, and a guinea pig he insists is a hamster, and scorpions. I just flat out couldn’t keep my cool.

“How can I afford to feed my cats and dogs and my family.” I bemoaned. Despair washed over me as I tried to do math in my overloaded brain. My little dog Piggy needs to have grain free food. She doesn’t do well if there is grains so tack on another 5 bucks just for not having filler. yay.

One of the young women that worked there disappeared as soon as the tears started. I felt really alone. I picked up a 5 pound bag of food for 12 bucks. I went to the cat food and picked up a 20 pound bag for the same price. Here came the young woman who gave me a five pound bag at just over 10 with no grains in the ingredients. She said she was sorry she couldn’t do more.

When I got into the car, Nicholas said, “Are you in a bad mood today, Mare?”

“No, Nicholas. My heart is just sad because I don’t have many dollars.”

“You know what you need, Mare?” He asked while waving out the window absently.

“No, what do I need.” I asked, impatiently waiting for the light to change. I wanted to be home sulking.

“A pocket full of happiness that has $100 dollars in it.” He said just as matter of factly as if he were telling me the weather.

“Indeed, that would be a happy pocket.” I chuckled. Oh, the wisdom of children. Then I remembered, I get to work for some dollars this weekend as a dishwasher. I’ll have enough. I forgot all about it until he reminded me with happiness.

I promised him a Dunkin Donuts (our favorite) when I have dollars again. He was pleased he made me laugh. I was pleased he prodded me to remember to look forward in hope.

PART II

A Pocket Full of Happiness!

A Pocket Full of Happiness!

Thank you to whomever left the pocket full of happiness tacked to my door with a nose magnet. The gratitude I feel for this is just magnified. I will obey the command that Nicholas get his doughnuts. Thank you.

I asked Nicholas as he walked up the hill to his home after getting off the school bus, “Guess what I got on my door today?!’

Nicholas was so overjoyed to declare it before I even said anything, he said, “A pocket full of happiness with dollars in it so I get Dunkin Donuts!”

I laughed. “How did you know?”

“I just knew it!” He grinned while swinging his Spiderman (his favorite super hero) backpack from shoulder to shoulder. Man, I sure do love that little kid.

We went to Dunkin Donuts as the instructions commanded. Nicholas had a raspberry cheesecake doughnut, an Oreo cookie cheesecake doughnut, a milk, AND a cinnamon munchkin. I got a small coffee and a chocolate coconut doughnut. I mooed every time Nicholas lifted his milk up over the bag we place in the middle of the table. He laughs hysterically every time. Then he started doing “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” on my arms and hair so I screamed playfully.

“YOU SCARED ME!” He said as he dropped his raspberry doughnut splatted on the floor while he farted. While we both bellowed peppery laughter, he declared, “Excuse me!” We laughed even harder than the cows. It really was a pocket full of happiness. Truly, thank you with all sincerity.