Saturday, June 13, 2015

The Heavy at the Bottom

Just like paint that hasn't been stirred in too long, I've felt myself separated.  I've felt the heavy things in me settled at the bottom, felt but not seen...while the clear, liquidy, translucent parts of me float at the top, sloshing around, moving freely, but without purpose.

Each layer of me a different color.  Each color, a purpose unfulfilled.  A reversal of the whole-greater-than-the-sum-of-it's-parts.

Tonight, things were stirred.  Tonight, for a brief spell, the heavy was mixed into the clear.

What is the clear?  I don't know.  This metaphor aches in me, but doesn't offer answers.  And I can't remember how it feels to be mixed into purpose.  I can't remember how to find the words to color my feelings into a picture.  

Saturday, August 30, 2014

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge


A few days ago, I was nominated for the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge by a very good friend of mine.  I realize we're supposed to respond within 24 hours or donate to the ALS cause, but it's been a few days now and I haven't posted a video.  If I don't do the challenge, will people assume that means I donated $100 towards this insidious disease?  Maybe.  I'm not totally clear how it works, but the fact of the matter is I didn't donate, nor did I accept my nomination for the challenge.
I've wrestled with my feelings about this whole thing since videos of it started popping up in my Facebook news feed in the last few weeks.  Part of me loves the fact that people are uniting and doing something outrageous in hopes of fighting something so awful and, apparently, previously underfunded in research.  My kids and I have enjoyed watching our friends dump icy water on their heads.   Part of me wants to join them and feel like maybe I'm doing something good and silly (and cold!) at the same time. 

Previous to the ice bucket challenge, I didn't know much about ALS.  I am very appreciative of the awareness that this Ice Bucket Challenge has brought, for myself and the world at large, about this deadly disease.  I've done some research and felt a depth of compassion for people affected by ALS, namely my friend Katie who's father died from this when she was a teen.  Anytime I can expand my awareness about something, I am grateful, and....


...there are so many things to be aware of that are terrible and horrible in this world.  It feels like there's some sort of contest between horrible things to grab at attention and tug the world's compassion strings.  How can I do it all?   How can I fund every cause, every 5K race raising money for a tough disease, every homeless person on the corner, every infomercial with those heart-melting brown eyes and those malnourished bodies, every phone solicitor with stories about the families of fallen firefighters, every college kid that stands at my door with hope on their sleeve and a story on their lips of how they are trying to turn their life around and can-you-please-help-me-by-just-buying-one-or-two-magazine-subscriptions??   It just doesn't end and it breaks my heart to think of the enormity of the challenges that exist for people I know and love as well as people I don't know at all, but love still.  If that's all I focus on in this world, I'll be overwhelmed, feel impotent and be miserable.
So, the cause is great, yes... as are so many causes.  And there is a part of me that wants to participate.  It's FUN!  It's FOR CHARITY!  It's getting INVOLVED and doing so without any other sort of commitment!  Just DOOO IT, CLANCY!.... But, down at some deep, core level FOR ME (not judging this for anyone else, just going through my own process here) I struggle with the fact that social media is pressuring/shaming me into either donating to a cause I've only just heard of and/or dumping ice water on my head.

I don't like being shamed into doing something, whether I agree with the cause or not.  I don't like that I worry if people will think I'm a jerk because I don't participate.  Shame is something that, thanks to my own Devan Martin, Developmental Life Coach Extraordinaire, and Brene Brown, author, I've been increasing my awareness of in myself.  I'm learning to set boundaries and say NO.  If I give in to the shame triggers, I am working from my fear-place rather than truer, deeper part of me that is slowly and powerfully emerging, the part of me that is present and aware.
And so, my dear Jenna, who so playfully and lightheartedly nominated me, I lovingly decline the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. The challenge I accept is my own growth... learning be aware of my shame triggers, to set a boundary and to say no, publicly and decidedly.
Please know that this is my own process and anyone who takes the challenge and posts their own videos will still be delightfully watched by my children and I.  Douse on, America.

(This thing from Mike Rowe was also influential in the coalescing of my thoughts regarding the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge... please read, if you'd like.)

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Not the Only One

So, I just picked up a comment on my last post from my excellent friend Larrie.  She wrote:

"Let me just say this: you are missed.

I meant to post a comment on this the second I saw you had published again because I wanted you to know, I'm WATCHING for you. I am such a creepy stalker.

You'll get out of your slump. Just remember: it's good enough. You don't need bloody amazing brilliance to post something. You are pretty amazing, though, so even the little things... "this happened today, or my kid said this one silly thing" will still be superb. You have the touch, lady."

I have read and re-read this comment about a dozen times.  you are missed.  you are missed.  you are missed.  you are missed.

I am missed.  I guess I'm not the only one missing the writer in me.

Larrie, you moved me.  Thanks for the comment.  This one is for you.


This happened today:

Dustin woke me from a dead sleep a little after six this morning.  This bothers me so much less in these longer days of summer than it does in the dark of winter.  6:00 a.m. and I... we didn't used to be friends, no matter the season.  But my body is changing as I've relaxed into my thirties and 6:00 a.m. likes me better than it used to.  And I like it back.  Sometimes.

Today I didn't like it so much, but that was largely to do with the place I was at in my sleep cycle.  I was having a dream, a very vivid, clear, and realistic dream that involved the renter-from-hell who sued me and I sued her back. (living the American dream, Larrie!) She had married a different fellow and she had turned fairly sophisticated and lived in a nice house with beautiful furnishings. (not the case last time I knew this person)  For some reason I can't remember, I was in her fancy house and we were being cordial to each other.  She handed me a check for $300 (for what, I do not know) and she did it willingly and without malice.  Then I went and played Frisbee with my kids in a park that had a big cement wall and lots of tall, fluffless dandelion stalks that made the grass feel alien and creepy.

Now that I've typed all that, I think that was actually yesterday's dream.  I felt peaceful when I woke up from that dream, in spite of the creepy dandelion stems and the fact that the worst-renter-ever was in my dream... but today, when I woke up, I just felt confused.  And I can't remember the dream I woke up from except that I didn't know where I was as I looked into my husband's green/brown eyes.

He asked me if I wanted to go for a walk.  I did, but I was so tired and still so dazed that I just lay in my bed for a while.  When he came back in and I got up, I stood looking at my clothes for at least 2 full minutes.  I couldn't seem to figure out what to put on my body.  I could hardly focus on anything.  I think I was probably still mostly asleep.

It took longer than usual, but I am happy to report that I successfully dressed myself in appropriate attire and had an early morning date with my DustintheWind.  He's the greatest, you know?  I've mentioned that before, though it's been a couple years.  Nothing has changed except we are older and happier.

But not too old.

We, in fact, made part of my dream a reality by playing Frisbee in the [creepy dandelion filled] park tonight with the kids. See... not too old at all.

But the most remarkable thing about this whole meandering post is that I think my dream (yesterday) gifted me more than a forecast for my future family Frisbee adventures.  I've thought of this tenant many many times since I woke up yesterday and I feel a peace every time I think of her since the dream.  Instead of feeling the sneering dislike of the past, I just have a few fleeting thoughts of well wishes and a hope that she actually can be as calm and, if not kind, cordial and free of malice as she felt in my dream.  I think my heart is done harboring anger toward her, and that is a shock and a balm to the parts of my mind she was still inhabiting.

Dreams, for the WIN!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014


"There is melancholy in the wind and sorrow in the grass"   
                                                   ~Charles Kuralt

There is a pervasive sense of melancholy to this day.  My eyes feel tired and burning and my head feels full, just like I've been crying long and hard.  Which I haven't.  I don't really know how to write anymore but, regardless, it feels like an answer to the question I didn't know I asked.

That part of me that used to hit "Publish" every day with such boldness has atrophied.  I've become fearful and small again.  The ease I had in expressing myself was swallowed in the last four or five years of quiet.  I've had growth in different ways, and I trust the process of my life, but I'm sad for this part of myself.  I miss it.

The optimist in me wants to conclude with something hopeful and light, but the rest of me just wants to swear and curse and tell that optimist that things don't always have to be light and fun in the end.  Sometimes, like getting sick from eating something bad, you just have to sit in the melancholy and let it move through you.  


Thunderclouds will empty their stomachs
And brother Wind will blow them to another place.
Far away, they will dissipate or morph,
They will become harmless puffs
Or shiny wisps,
Where people dream of bright things again.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

The Sea

Almost exactly a year ago, I was in Phoenix, Arizona shopping in a store with two of my dearest friends.  Thumbing through the art section, I picked up a print.  It was simple.  Large, white border with a circulare image of a calm ocean.  A fine text underneath read this:

"The cure for anything is salt water.  Sweat, tears or the sea.   ~Isak Dinesen"

We all loved the sentiment, but the piece seemed too simplistic and small for the price tag.  We all passed it by, but the words never left me. 

Months ago now, I decided to paint three pictures of the ocean with watercolor, add that simple and powerful quote, and gift it to these two amazing women and keep one for myself.  I did just that.  I have mine hanging in my house. 

This last week I was doing a project that involved going through a journal from 2006/2007 wherein I recorded thoughts from my life-coach sessions.  As I was reading through these notes, I saw an instruction: Read A Year by the Sea.  Those instructions seemed to light up.  Those words.  They called to me from 8 years ago and I jotted the name down and checked to see if the library had it.  "Checked In", the website said.  The next day I had the book in my hands.

I am an avid reader, but for some reason, it's been very difficult to read for the last six months or so.  In spite of that, I started reading, A Year by the Sea this afternoon and finished it a few minutes ago... just before midnight.   

This story, this writing... it was full of beauty and truth and I couldn't put it down. 
For months I've wondered at the quote I loved so much... sweat, tears or the sea.  I know sweat.  I know tears.  But the sea?  I live in Idaho.  I don't know the sea.  And I certainly don't know it as a cure for anything at all.  Why did that quote stick with me for so long?  Tonight, as I read and loved this memoir about a woman awakening to herself, I couldn't help but notice the connection.  The sea. 

My Idaho Sea. 

As I sit here writing, rusty and sleepy... fighting the nod-offs and trying not to succumb to the exhaustion I'm feeling.. I am grateful for the synchronicity that brought me the Sea.    And in spite of my not being able to finish a sentence because I keep nodding off, I am going to hit publish because I need to.  Rusty writer be damned, I found the Sea.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

My Awareness for Today

Just yesterday, Dustin's brother and his wife stopped by my house while they were in town for a baseball tournament for one of their boys.  I knew they were coming, and I knew my house needed a little more attention than my children would give it in their daily chores, but I didn't have a lot of time to clean in a panic.  I don't know why I wasn't more freaked out than I was.  They never asked to drop by so somehow I thought maybe they wouldn't see my house.  On the other hand, they haven't been to my house in 8 years so I figured they would want to see some of the things we've done around here (finish the whole basement, new floor/paint/decor in the living room, sandstone patio in the backyard, etc..), and honestly, I wanted to let them see it.

We coordinated and decided to meet here at my house and then go to dinner.  They were already driving when we talked, and it would only take them 10 minutes to get here.  As we talked, panic set in.  Suddenly all the things that  normally only bother me a little... the weird pile of stuff in my kitchen that I don't know what to do with, the 10 or so bowls, pile of silverware and 3 or so plates that were in my sink, the crumbs of bread or cereal and a streak of Nutella on the kitchen counter, the catch-all zone on my back entry that has lots of weird stuff on it and so, SO many more suddenly-glaring things... made me freak out and set off the narrative in my head that has plagued me my whole life.  This narrative tells me horrible things.  It screams at me and is really quite abusive.

In my panic, I asked my sister-in-law, as I have so many other people, "Will you still love me if you see how messy my house is?"

She laughed and probably thought I was joking, as so many others have, and said, "Of course I will!  (hahaha!)"

I ask this question in a way that sounds like I'm being funny, but there is so much more truth to this than any of those I question will ever know... and more than I ever realized myself, for that matter.

I am currrently reading a book called Daring Greatly, by Brene Brown.  This is a powerful book.  A life-changing book.  An I-could-read-this-100-times-and-get-something-new-each-time kind of book.  As I was reading it this morning, I came across this bit regarding shame:

                        "Shame is the fear of disconnection--it's the fear that something
                         we've done or failed to do, an ideal that we've not lived up to,
                         or a goal that we've not accomplished makes us unworthy of
                         connection [of love or belonging]."

I realized, as I read this, how very true it is.  I had reacted exactly as this describes just yesterday.  Allowing my sister-in-law (who sits serenely on a clean-house pedestal, in my mind) to come and walk through my entire house in it's moderately messy state was very much an ideal that I had not lived up to.  And I, as I have with so many others, ASKED her if she will still love me if she sees how messy it is.

I learned today that I'm asking the wrong person this question. don't think I'm worthy of love, belonging or connection because my house is less-than-perfect. I will try to have the awareness to ask myself instead, and then reply, 'Yes, Clancy.  I still love you and you are worthy of love and belonging, even if your house is messy and even if other people see this.'

That's my awareness today.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Happy Birthday Rohan!

Happy Birthday to my sweet, funny, delightful little Rohan Xavier.  This boy is endless joy and nonstop questions.  I bless the day he was born as he continues to bless and delight everyone he encounters.

In honor of Rohan and his awesome Rohanisms, I will post somethings from his school journal that he brought home yesterday.

Lasst night I watched a show called Dirty Jobs.  It was abowt lice.

If I wera a super hero my name would be magma man.  I wood be able too go in magma.

My nickname is Roh Roh and when I was littler than now, but then my mom called me Throwen Rohan.

The animal that is most like me is the sloth because I'm slow at climbing trees.  But at soccer I'm fast.

If I had A free trip, I would go to new Zelend because of the scary eels.  But thay kill.

What do you know about penguins.  What do you want to learn about penguins.  emporer penguins are as tall as Krew (kid in his class).  In Antarctic ther are no plr bears.  And frost bite.

Five words that describe my mom are nice.  takes care of me.  (that is five words!)

I think there is life on other planets.  I think Aliens are on planets.  certein plants. I think certein oxygen.  I think that some Aliens mite be in A different universe.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Dam at My Fingertips

I don't know which it is today.

The river of words, the whirlpools and currents and the dam that is my fingers.  

Or is it the keyboard in my shower?  It's there every time, the ghost of it.  Growing and glowing, a little rubber covering to keep it safe from the water.  It really took shape today, the waterproof keyboard.  My finger a pen, I scribbled a few words on the steamy tile, a furious thought.

Or perhaps it is the pressure gauges and I, the watcher.  I fell asleep and woke up to buzzing alarms.  Too much pressure on the dam, I run down fluorescent-lit hallways in the depth of the earth to turn valves.  

The world hisses and screams at the release.  

And I sigh, the disaster averted, but cry for the dream of equilibrium.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

As Long as I'm Living, My Baby You'll Be

Dustin and Mac started fighting tonight (as they often do) just before bedtime.  I interceded (as I often do) and had a long talk with Mac about his stinky attitude and his behavior that could have been handled differently.

When I was pretty much all talked out, I made him stand up and come and sit on my lap.  I was sitting in our office chair and so it was awkward to have him sit there, but I did it anyway.  

As he, this boy who is taller than me and almost outweighs me, sat on my lap, I looked down at his hands.  They looked so BIG.  I held them up, matching them to my hands and was astonished to find his fingers were about 3/4" longer than mine.  

I asked him, "When did your hands get so BIG?!  Weren't our hands just the same size about 3 months ago?  How could they have grown so fast?"

He didn't answer because he was still mad at me.  

I tried to pull his legs up into my arms, but they were too far away and too heavy for me to move easily and he took pity on his old mom and lifted his leg up.  When I had both his legs in my right arm, I moved his head back into the crook of my left arm and pretended to rock him like a baby.  (I do this now and then when he's mad at me... I'm so mean.)

We talked a little bit more and, as I held him and contemplated his big hands and growing body that I so awkwardly held, I remembered holding him and rocking him as a baby and a little boy.  I would sing to him then:

You are my sunshine, 
my only sunshine.  
You make me happy 
When skies are grey.  

You'll never know, dear,
How much I love you.
Oh please don't take
My sunshine away.

The other night, dear,
While I was sleeping,
I dreamed I held you 
In my arms.

And when I woke up 
You were right beside me
And so I held you close to my heart.

(I changed the lyrics on the last bit because the real ones were too sad to sing to my baby boy)

I asked him if he remembered how I would always sing him that song.  He replied, "Yes, and it would always make me cry."

I continued to cradle him and began stroking his stylishly long hair.  I started humming the tune of 'You Are My Sunshine' out loud to him, my twelve and a half year-old son.  He had his eyes closed, and I stroked his forehead and cheeks like I used to do when he was a baby as I hummed the song of his infancy.

I, then, watched as a small miracle occurred.  After one time through the song, my boy-giant's face suddenly relaxed.  His head flopped back just a little more in the crook of my arm.  His eyes started shifting around behind his eyelids and his breathing changed into something slow and relaxed.  I continued humming, voice cracking and tears leaking from my eyes, as the river of love I have for this boy burst it's banks and flooded my heart, penetrating every cell.  Every atom.

A gift was mine this night.  My baby boy-giant had fallen asleep in my arms.  I kept humming and crying as I wrestled with Memory to find the image, the weight, the feeling of the 2 week-old, the 2 year-old, the 5 year-old, the 8 year-old or the 10 year-old version of this amazing child.  They all warred with the boy-giant I held in this moment.  My mind railed against Time and begged for just a moment with that sleeping boy of years past.

I kept crying and stopped singing.  I almost wondered, for a moment, if he was teasing me and pretending to be asleep, but his breathing was steady.  I watched him breathe for a long time, wishing for the moment to linger.

In the end it was my legs that gave out.  His 117 pounds were too much for them.  I stroked his face again while saying his name and, with a start, his bright blue eyes opened.  He was confused.  I was still crying as he sat up and hugged me, letting me kiss him and tell him what an amazing being he is.  I sent him off to bed with as many I love yous as I could get out of my mouth.

I know there will come a day when I will cry for this 117 pound boy-giant... with his first stubble after his first shave.  This boy with the cracking voice and the laugh that still ping-pongs between man and child.  This boy who eats, and eats, and eats, and eats because each of his ten fingers has to grow 3/4" in just a few months.  I know that someday I will fight to recall this version of Mac and so I write.  Tonight I write with the hope of searing this beautiful, twelve year-old boy-giant into my memory.  My beautiful Mac.

Friday, February 22, 2013


Tonight I feel my own humanity hurtling toward me like a freight train.

Tonight I wrestle myself... the unworthy, keep-myself-hidden, stay-small part of myself vs. the expanding, show-who-I-really-am, brilliant part of myself.  A knock-down, drag-out brawl happening in the confines of my head.

Tonight, the Stay-Small part is winning.  Brilliant is on the mat and Stay-Small is standing over it, screaming like an abusive drunk with greasy hair, sweat-stains on his grimy undershirt and spittle flying from his putrefying mouth. Stay-small tells me that I don't have anything important to say and that no one wants to hear me anyway.

I used to post whatever the hell I wanted on this blog and if was too scary or too personal, I would write it in a poem.  And now, I am scared to write anything that means anything.  And this means anything, in case you were wondering.

The tornado that has lived inside my body for the past several years feels like it's mostly emerged and I now walk through it daily rather than have it dwell inside me.  I'm not positive that my situation has improved, but it feels like progress, so I'm calling it that.

But tonight, I felt like I swallowed the tornado whole and it's ripping through me, taking my voice, my breath, my brilliance.


I don't really have anything more to say except that hitting that publish button up there is the most terrifying thing I've done in a long time.

Here's to living beyond my fear.