Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Too Cool for School

I am in a coffee shop that is playing strictly oldies- mostly Motown, some classic rock.
And I am loving every minute of it.

A few favorites so far include “Signed, Sealed, Delivered”, “My Girl”, and “Heard it Through the Grapevine”.

Blame it on the coffee but my left foot simply will not stop stomping to the beat and my mouth refuses to stay closed. I must sing and dance to this music. To do anything else would be inhumane and just plain silly.

Currently hidden away in a tight corner near the front door sets me in a position to see the entire room as I peer up from my laptop like a groundhog announcing its innocence and optimism inviting a new season to the earth.

One by one, people shuffle in from the cold winds and grey sky wearing long and sophisticated-looking jackets. They all seem to retrieve their wallets from their right pocket with the same swift hand gesture as smooth as whipped cream on pecan pie.

There is something about shared space with strangers that is beyond beautiful to me. We all share the same air, the same need (warm drink, food), and we all try to act like we are the only one in the room. We check our phones, we keep our eyes down robotically as the guy behind the counter announces “Americana on the bar” or “Large Latte up”.

And yet the music unites our breath and movement.
Or at least mine.

Monday, February 23, 2015

A Morning Lean

The sun peers in through the window like a child playing peek-a-boo. Its light is sneaky but warm. Its morning rays are nothing but a gift to our neighborhood, and against the pale blue sky, it is magical on this early Monday morning.

Gypsy, my roommate’s cat, leans over the windowsill. Her nose is pressed against the glass window like that of a child’s as she stares into her favorite store at Christmas. It is as if Gypsy is trying to lean herself into the earth on the other side, thinking the glass is an optional barrier, easy to defeat. Her white-as-snow front paws dance around the edge as she takes every ounce of outside in. Her ears perk up at the sound of the train passing by and her head bobs back and forth like a toy ship in the bathtub.

Gypsy is beyond curious about what's outside that window.
I think she could sit up there for hours.

This cat has so many layers. Sometimes she bites your fingers when you try and pet her back. Out of instinct, you shake your hand obnoxiously to ease the pain while she slips away and hides. Her teeth are tiny but sharp. They curve in at the top like mountain peaks.

Lately, though, Gypsy has been coming into my room more, just to say hello and look around. She can be kind and gentle when she wants to be, and I think I have gained her trust a little bit more now.

And the way she leans at the windowsill, her eyes scanning the pavement, I am drawn to her peculiar ways. Gypsy is so in awe of the world, just like me.

I lean over the windowsill at the edge of my heart most mornings. I look into the day with questions, eager to explore, eager to play. All senses are engaged and activated as I blink my way into a new day, my alarm announcing the time with urgency and demand.

What’s next? My eyes ask as I lean over my heart's windowsill and let my face be warmed by the sun. Where can I explore and dig in a little bit? Maybe I will find new places to hide today, new places to run.

I am eager for a new day, a new beginning.
Perhaps Gypsy and I have more in common than we think.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Hugh Grant Meets Queso

It’s amazing what five days of icy roads and slippery snow can do to your schedule.

Spoiler alert: It kills it.

I had planned a busy week as usual. A meeting about my future radio podcast (!), webinars at work about community organizing and activism, an Ash Wednesday service to attend at the A-frame Chapel at Vanderbilt, a networking event for young professionals in the nonprofit sector, and then topping it all off with a weekend visit from my mom.

None of these things happened.
Most of them are rescheduled.

But life goes on without our plans. I was reminded this week that I am not in control. No matter how hard I try, I cannot control the weather… or really anything.

But this week was a true gift.
Here are some highlights of what happened instead.

I had a conversation with my old roommate and sweet, smiley friend in California… I mean like really smiley… as in she is probably the most joyful person on the planet. (Picture Mrs. Clause as a 20-something). Even the sound of her voice is like listening to a song- upbeat and melodic. We talked about her megabus adventure coming up this spring including her visit to Nashville when we will do lots of hiking, camping, and tree-climbing. This friend belongs outside, and when I am with her, I remember that I am too.

I watched the Saturday Night Live 40th year anniversary show with friends. We ate chex-mix and brownies and drank Blue Moon. I can’t tell you the last time I watched SNL. I also can’t tell you the last time I laughed that hard.

I watched Two Weeks Notice with my roommate. And let me tell you, Hugh Grant’s accent is still adorable after all these years.

I played on Garage Band for hours on end. I’ll just sum it up this way: piano, harmonies, beat boxing. I felt like a kid in a candy shop, losing track of time and overly excited about the beauty of raw sound.

I discovered a beautiful new movie called Life of a King. Reminded me that life is not about our past. It’s about giving and laughing and forgiving yourself and your neighbors.

Slowed down a LOT (by this point I am feeling the weight of the snow against my chest and the ice under my boots) and sipped on some ginger tea while reading The Way of Tea and Justice by Becca Stevens, AKA the most hilarious, humble hero ever. It’s funny, I can hear her thick Southern accent so clearly when I read her writing. I feel like she is sitting beside me, laughing and crying at her own words, her feet kicked up and her Justice Tea glued to her fingers. Thoughts around self-care, mini-retreats, beams of mysterious and heavenly light, grieving and celebrating, and learning how to rest floated off the pages for me, like writing in the water, flowing gracefully and staring back at me with wonder.

I took a friend to yoga… or she took me because I was still too scared to drive and she’s from New Hampshire and laughs in the face of Nashville “snow” days.

I watched some episodes of Lost with the sweetest boy I know. And then we had breakfast for dinner with friends and I had one too many cinnamon rolls.

I went to a beautiful restorative flow yoga class. There was lots of deep stretching and headstand mastering involved. The teacher was patient, playful, and kind. It was sort of like a therapy session for the body and mind. I swallowed each word like tea and let it soothe my inner sanity in this toasty, toasty room.

I had chips and queso in the middle of the afternoon with an old friend for no reason other than we love the queso at Rosepepper. We changed topics every 5 seconds, like squirrels chasing an acorn. That’s how our friendship works and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

More yoga with more twists and chaturangas. The teacher came over and adjusted my hips at one point. It made all the difference in the world.

I finished the book The Way of Tea and Justice and tears fell, one after the other, as I read the last chapter describing the opening day of Thistle Stop Café over a year ago now. I imagined the smiles of the women who had been picked up off the streets- some of them, literally the day before this event. I could feel the love in that room like a hand-knit sweater over my shoulders as I felt the warmth of each hug and embrace across the room.

I had dinner at my neighbors’ house as we discussed movies and the disturbingly biased criminal justice system in the States over seafood stew, salad and bread. I felt centered, happy to be alive, happy to be breathing, tasting, talking.


This is life uninterrupted. This is spontaneity in the midst of rejection- rejection of schedules, rejection of normality, smooth roads and transitions. This is life untouched- untouched by expectation, routine or deadlines.

This is my life in a snow week, where icy roads separate me from a Brentwood office temporarily transformed into an ice skating rink.

Yes, I watched a lot of movies and episodes of Lost
And no, I am not ashamed. 

Because here’s the thing- I also slowed down and got a lot of sleep. I had time for longer conversations, deeper breathing, less driving.

I had time.

How do I let that slip away from me so easily?
We all do.

Time is precious.
Friendships are golden.
Hold on tight.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Blood and Bones

I believe in second glances.

On first glance, I assume.
On first glance, I expect, I misspeak, I box someone in and hide the key.

On first glance, I fail to listen, to ask questions, to hear the rise and fall of the human voice, like the ridges of the Grand Canyon or the texture of tree bark.

On first glance, I become important.
I become the storyteller, the Chief in Command, the author of All Things Good.
No stutters or stammers.
No missteps or mistakes allowed.
I am in charge.
I am in control.
And all things will be perfectly strung together as I fine-tune each off key note and minor detail.

Yet with a second glance, mistakes are welcome.
Mistakes are beautiful.
With a second glance, a conversation is welcome, a give-and-take exchange is formed.
There is no monopoly, no ownership.

With a second glance, my shoes get dirty.
My hands get sweaty, my fingers even shake.

With a second glance, a table is formed as we rest our elbows on the cheap wood between us and lean in to listen better.

With a second glance, there is no script as I let myself be surprised by life, by people, by stories.

I listen to the river that is facing me.
The river that erupts over rocks and erodes lands, the river that gives life and quenches all thirst.

The river is aggressive.
The river is still.
It is deep with pockets and corners unknown.
The river is clean.
The river is dirty.
The river holds life within it.
It reminds us of movement, of breath.
The river takes me home.

On first glance, it is water.
On second glace, it is life.

On first glance, we are water.
We are blood and bones, muscles and ligaments made to function and make things more convenient.

On second glance, we are life.
We are sacred.
We are mysterious.