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just like me

I was nervous the first time I met the men. Possibly even afraid.

They were behind bars. Locked up in a maximum-security facility. Separated from society because they had done bad things. And most of them were going to live that way for a long time. Some already had, their crimes unfathomable.

My trip to the facility was to present a Latin jazz band concert. A few of the incarcerated men were onstage, helping with set-up when I arrived. They were polite, but physically far away in the large, concrete auditorium. I had worn a navy turtleneck sweater, black pants, and no make-up, very aware that I was a young woman entering an all-male facility. I could feel the eyes of each man who noticed me, wondering what I was doing there—so obviously out of place. A flurry of emotions flew through my head as the auditorium slowly filled to capacity. Should I be afraid? What are they thinking about me? Should I have come at all?

**

I’m honored to be writing over at the fabulous website Off the Page again this month! Won’t you join me there to read the rest?

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What I’m Into: April Favorites

Oh you guys. Where did April GO?? I have a couple of half-finished posts that are waiting for those last few paragraphs to get written, and I’m sorry I haven’t been able to share more this month. I’ve been busy with other writing projects and performance work, and otherwise have been just trying to keep all the balls in the air.

But I’ve missed writing here – so here’s to a new month.

In other news, we had Spring Break (since when is having the kids home all the time a “break”?? Whose idea was this??), and the kids and I had a pretty great week, with lots of at-home Montessori activities and city outings and cooking projects. We all survived! But now my work for the summer is cut out for me, and I realize how much I need to plan, plan, plan for these kiddos at these ages.

 

Blog Posts & Articles

People, Borne of Poetry. By. Eugenia Leigh. What’s the value of poetry? What do poets do? Poets are story-tellers who help us understand the truth of our story, digest what is true, and both break and mend our hearts – according to my amazingly talented poet-friend Eugenia. She wrote this honest, beautiful piece for Inheritance Magazine this month and I hope everyone reads it.

The Body Broken Whole. By Jennifer Underwood. This piece is so beautiful (if a bit disarming for me to read since it’s about a woman named “Leah”), and a beautiful picture of community and restoration.  Continue reading

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What I’m Into: March Favorites

IMG_7725Blog Posts & Articles

How Weeds Become Offerings of Love. by Nicole Walters.  Words that I needed to be reminded of this month, especially! A beautiful post about being thankful for the weeds-that-are-gifts in our lives…and also an adorable story about a mother and her boy.

How I Won the Lottery. By Micha Boyett. One of my favorite bloggers has taken a hiatus from blogging to dedicate more energy to her family life after welcoming their third son, Ace, who has Down syndrome, into the world about a year ago. This post is one of the most beautiful, uplifting pieces of writing that I’ve read all month.

Changing the Question. By Sarah Wells. I probably need to read this once a month, just to be reminded that I need to “change my question” from “Why?” to “What now?” I love how she reminds that asking “Why?” always points us to the past, while asking “What now?” points to the future.  Continue reading

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go slow, respect others

 

This is a sign that I’ve seen probably hundreds of times along the many shared walkways and bike paths in New York City. Recently, I noticed it in a new way.

Go Slow, Respect Others.IMG_7954

It was like God speaking right into my life. That morning, I’d been frustrated with my son. He was supposed to be getting dressed for school and instead of putting on his pants, he stripped off all of his clothes and proceeded to run around the room shouting, “Naked dance! Naked dance!” (He’s three-and-a-half, after all.) Then he kept getting distracted by one thing or another and it felt like this simple task of getting dressed was taking for-ever. And I, of course, wanted to get out the door.

Then there’s my daughter. She’s at that “do-it-myself” stage. This includes walking instead of riding in the stroller. We live on a steep hill. She wants to walk up the hill. On a recent morning, the whole family left at the same time. I walked more quickly up the hill with my son, and at the top we turned around to check on the progress of Sister. She was only a few yards behind, and the grin on her face was bright enough to see for a mile. I’m almost there! She beamed. I’m a big girl now, like Brother!

This sign along the river isn’t just for bikers. This sign is for me. Continue reading

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to my newly-expecting friend

 

DSC_0115Sweet friend,

I am so happy and excited for you to become a mom. And while I feel so far from inhabiting a place of wisdom (or even peace) much of the time, I wanted to give you more than some hand-me-down maternity clothes and half a box of size one diapers. Although I know those come in handy, too.

In fact, there are so many things that I want to tell you – little things, like how you should buy prints instead of solids because then the spit-up and peanut-butter and runny-nose-residue are less visible – and big things, like what being a mom has been teaching me about grace and forgiveness and love and patience and despair. Here are four things I’ve learned so far.

PRIORITIES. Being a mom is really, really busy, and really, really hard. I know you’ll be juggling a lot next year with the baby and your running and your work and, of course, your relationship with your husband and your church and your small group. So many things seem so important. And they are.  Continue reading

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lessons from a lighthouse

little red lighthouse

My son has this book that he loves called The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge. In the book, the little red lighthouse is proud of its job sending out beacons of light to protect the boats in the river from the rocky shores. One day, a crew of men appears:

 

Every day [the little red lighthouse] watched the strange new gray thing beside it grow and grow. Huge towers seemed to touch the sky. Strong loops of steel swept across the river.

How big it was!

How wonderful!

How powerful!

A great gray bridge, spanning the Hudson River from shore to shore. It made the little red lighthouse feel very, very small.

“Mommy, is the little red lighthouse sad?” my son asked one day after I read this passage to him.

“Yes, sweetie, it is,” I replied.

“But why?” he asked. (He is a three-year-old, after all.)

“Well, the lighthouse is afraid that he won’t have any work to do, now that the great gray bridge has been built. He’s afraid that there’s no job for him. And that makes him sad. It feels good to have a job to do, doesn’t it?”  Continue reading

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dust to dust

This year, I’ve worked hard to help my little ones understand the holidays. Thanksgiving, Christmas. Birthdays. In November, I designed a Thanksgiving and bought 60 small leaves in fall colors. My husband, son, and I practiced recounting one thing each day that we were thankful for, adding leaves to the branches and counting down the days. While other trees were losing their leaves, ours blossomed until we celebrated all those good things together with extended family (and turkey) .

IMG_7086

In December, we had an advent calendar and an advent wreath and read stories about Mary and Joseph and Jesus. We talked about how Christmas was like Jesus’ birthday and how we give gifts, just like on other birthdays. We named all the gifts that God has given to us. (And most of all, Jesus, right? My three-year-old always repeated in his earnest, lisping voice.) Continue reading

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outside in

You guys. This might be my most seemingly-superficial post to date. Don’t judge me. (Or quit reading.)

This post is about clothes. That’s right. Clothes.

But I’ve been thinking a lot about clothes. I’ve been thinking about them because a few months ago, I bought this wild pair of leggings. IMG_7652 They were quite a bit out of my comfort zone, but I really liked the pattern, and I really wanted to be able to wear them. And they were not expensive. So: why not?

At first I wore them a bit sparingly. I’m not usually a loud dresser.

Or, not lately.

But as the months have gone by, I’ve started wearing them more and more. And I’m buying a second pair. And when I wear them, I feel confident. Kind of like I can kick butt, actually.  Continue reading

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the best and worst weekend

Last weekend I felt great, really great. Self-assured. Focused and funny – able to concentrate and crack jokes with equal ease. Confident. I had my shit together. And it felt good.

I was in Memphis, playing concerts with an orchestra that I’ve been playing with since 2007. The people, place, and routine of rehearsals and performances are like home to me.

irisBut this time was different from my last several trips South. This time was the first time in three years that I was there alone, without any kids.

I really enjoyed the conversations I had. I felt present, able to focus on what people said. Conversations that were casual-but-not-superficial flowed naturally. I didn’t think I knew how to do that anymore.

I enjoyed the playing. I had prepared well, but, moreover, I was able to play well in the moment. Rehearsals and performances were not a complicated array of insecurity and self-assurance and nostalgia – a frequent feeling in recent years – but instead a wonderful combination of ease and enjoyment.  Continue reading

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of dreams and disappointments

I recently read a book that I mostly love, a LOT, but also hate just a little bit. Well, it’s not so much that I hate it – it’s that I’m angry at it.

I love the book because it is so much like life – filled with the beauty and loss and childishness and inspiration and curiosity and awe that make up what we know of this world. I also hate the book because it is so much like life, with its unpredictability and lack of happily-ever-after promises, with its multi-dimensional characters who cannot be completely understood and the resulting loneliness and frustration.

I thought I knew how the book would end. It didn’t end that way, and I was sad and disappointed and, at first, so angry because I just didn’t want to accept the discrepancy between what I had really wanted to happen and what really did. Between my dreams for the book and its reality.

That’s happened to all of us, right? In our real, nonfiction lives? We’ve been disappointed by – and perhaps angry at – the discrepancy between our dreams and our reality?  Continue reading

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