Saturday, October 19, 2013

Happy birthday, mama.

Happy birthday, mama.

Some gifts cannot be wrapped - love, gratitude, peace, strength, courage, joy. There is not a box big enough or ribbon long enough.

A reminder of all that was and all that will be, contained within a single square on the calendar. How do you measure a year? By letting go- what matters most escapes measurement; I have no proof or record of how much you laughed. But laugh we did.  

She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future. Proverbs 31:25

I love you, mamabear.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Look up

I was walking to my car tonight, a Friday evening spent at the lab crossing mundane items off my to-do list slow and steady, when I looked up. The groundhog that originally caught my attention was a mound of dirt but that's when I spotted her - -

- - eating at the end of the woods that borders the parking lot, the juxtaposition of nature and pavement. 

[My references and table of contents are complete for my dissertation proposal. Simple details that matter, if only to me. I am finding my ivy.]

Grateful for this glimpse of grace, I thanked God for this moment of quiet and peace. Slowly, a fawn emerged from the woods, and was followed by her sister or brother. One after another appeared- five in total. It was suppertime and I was alone but they were together eating dinner and I remembered what it was like to sit around the kitchen table as a family of four. 

I felt like Grace in Maggie Stiefvater's Shiver- privy to such an ordinary moment, I was transfixed by their trust. Neither friend nor foe. Sometimes I am so quick to pick a side but sometimes sitting on the fence offers the best view.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

finding my ivy

After 4 years at Cornell and 2 more at Yale, I had grown accustomed to cold winters, pearls, and wooden desks. Traditions were honored; curiosity celebrated.

Graduate school is not quite what I expected. But seek and ye shall find.

I can decide how I want to show up, ribbon in hair and all. Let me remember that busy-ness is not the same as purpose (encouraged by Whitney English). I'm craving a routine- simplicity through structure. What do I want to accomplish each day? Sometimes, I feel so tethered to my daily to-do list that I neglect to engage in more purposeful activities, like reading journal articles and crafting ideas for future projects. My days cannot become a game of catch-up, tasks triaged. 

It's time to be my own ivy. It doesn't matter where I am or what I have or have not yet accomplished. It doesn't matter where I start, just that I do. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

I hope you dance.

As a child, my father tucked me each night. "Goodnights" were promises, a hall pass for rest until morning's light. 

Six years ago, he passed away unexpectedly. I was 22, a newly minted college graduate living in Connecticut. 

In that moment, my childhood ended, but time still felt additive - with each day and month and year gone by, I was simply another day and month and year older than the woman that my father knew. But it's starting to feel qualitatively different. I'm not just older any more. My dad doesn't know me - my thismoment dreams or fears, worries and purpose. 

But I know my dad. Humble, committed, playful - he lived. How he lived- asking questions, talking to strangers, body surfing through the ocean waves. And he always hoped that I would dance. Tonight, I danced for him. 

I can't ask him for help but I'm not on my own. My dad's lessons live on in the hope that he instilled in me. I need to trust wholeheartedness and love, because that's what my dad did.

I miss you, dad.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Dr. Reed's Run 2013

Today was the fourth annual Dr. Reed's Run. Exhausted, I'm not yet ready to describe what it's like to talk about my dad, unable to talk to him. Here are the words I spoke this morning.

 - - -

Stories are sacred. They are scraps of fabric that, when woven together, construct our shared history. The act of offering up a “remember when?” renders one vulnerable – for what was once a moment to someone can transform into a story for someone else, carved from the continous stream of our pasts and held dear to our hearts. Our personal stories – unlike those we find upon the shelves at Barnes and Noble or on the big screen – are less about plot and more about character. It’s easier to remember that one time we hiked in Yosemite than it is to remember the wonderment on my father’s face. But the more powerful stories translate the intentions of the heart into the language of memory.

But I cannot ask my father his thoughts on God after sleeping on the stars in California – whether he felt peace or contentment; was he overwhelmed by the vastness or comforted by the intimacy of the moment, just him among the sleeping sequoias? I cannot ask him. A brain aneurysm took my father’s life and we live everyday without him in our present. But in its own way, the brain aneurysm took away our past, as well. Details that may not have felt significant at the time are now pivotal and we are no longer privy to my father’s side of the story. He cannot fill in the details for us.

And so we gather together, here, and share our stories of David, refusing to allow the etchings of memories to fade. Remember when dad befriend a homeless man in Fort Lauderdale on our family vacation? The specifics of that trip have been forgotten, other than the fact that Abby and I sang TLC’s “I dont want no scrub” out the windows of our rented car ad nauseum. But I do remember feeling so proud of my father, knowing that he was eating lunch with that man on the boardwalk, instead of on the beach with us.

Dr. Reed’s Run is also a celebration of your stories. For some of you, moments shared with David are well-worn on your heart, etched from tellings and re-tellings. We honor you this morning. For others, you have your own stories of struggle, survival, and grief. We honor your stories this morning, too. 


Thursday, October 10, 2013

Clear October, a la Lara Casey

"The way we spend our days is, of course, the way we spend our lives." -Annie Dilliard
Inspired by Lara Casey, here is my #ClearOctober list - -

~ Structure my days to encourage purposeful action. Clear away the busy-ness.

~ Seek simplicity. Respond with kindness. Take the path of least resistance when possible. Such clarity in intention will remind me that it doesn't have to be a fight (ever grateful to Tiffany Han for that insight).

~ Less covet. More cherish.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

A simple dinner

I can only imagine what the cashier thought as he scanned my items - guacamole, chips, a microwave dinner, and popsicles. The guacamole alone would have been enough but I felt compelled to round out the meal with an actual supper of sorts. Nothing was homemade- I didn't even mash up an avocado myself. Instead, I chose simple. I chose easy. 

One day, I will spread homemade jam on homebaked bread. I will have a wooden spoon that was hand carved and not from Walmart. I will meal plan and take my crock pot out of its box. 


Yes, tonight's dinner lacked effort. But it had a generous heaping of whim. 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Monday, October 7, 2013


"The brave who focus on all things good and all things beautiful and all things true, 
even in the small, who give thanks for it and discover joy even in the here and now, 
they are the change agents who bring fullest Light to all the world. 
When we lay the soil of our hard lives open to the rain of grace
 and let joy penetrate our cracked and dry places, 
let joy soak into our broken skin and deep crevices, 
life grows."

Ann Voscamp, one thousand gifts (page 58)


Ann Voscamp finds the words to describe the ineffable with stunning simplicity; each word is purposeful - the gift of clarity. And I kept returning to the word "let." 


In grief and heartache and fear. 

What does that look like? Feel like? I think I must live it without these answers, knowing that His grace is sufficient.

Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the LORD holds them by the hand.
Psalm 37:24

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Seek shelter

I haven't run since the Pittsburgh Great Race. My training regime had been demanding of my body and time and I needed a bit of a break. I didn't want to rest anymore though, and so I set out this afternoon. After I turned the corner from my house, ready to start my Garmin, however, it started to rain. I would have laughed at the serendipity, the weather's celebration of my 31 day challenge - - but I was too frustrated. It's one thing to keep running when caught unexpectedly in a downpour. It's another to step out into a storm, and so I turned back. So often I focus on perseverance that I forgot that it's okay to hunker down. 

Find your tree and seek shelter.

Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in Him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken.
My victory and honor come from God alone.
Psalm 62: 5-7

Saturday, October 5, 2013

SEC Saturday

I'm more yinz than ya'll, despite my adoration of antebellum architecture and sweet tea sipped on front porches. I picked mittens over mason jars, attending Cornell then Temple.

But come Saturday afternoon, I woo pig sooie and roll time as if I never spent a day above the Mason Dixon line. The CBS announcers, with their lullaby of first downs and interceptions, remind me that for those four quarters, it doesn't matter that I'm miles away. One day I'll call the hogs. Until then, my couch will do. 

Friday, October 4, 2013

A simple gift

My nails are painted ocean fog, a color that I discovered while at a conference in seattle. It was raining, so exploring wasn't an option. Instead, I popped into a Julep salon and allowed myself 30 minutes of quiet - a welcome respite from the hubbub that erupts when academics gather. 


My sister gifted me the polish in my very first Project Cheer package, her way of reminding me that she carries my heart in her heart with the same fierce protectiveness that I carry hers. We've dropped the big/little prefaces to our sisterhood.

Tonight, I read Lean In while indulging in a manicure & pedicure. I hunkered down, honoring my need for quiet after a particularly long work week. A restorative quiet- tonight's run in the rain.

Thursday, October 3, 2013


"I'll make it back before it starts to rain," I convince myself, although I leave my ipod at home. With just enough optimism, I step outside, surrendering to the reality of rain. And when it pours, I carry the soaking weight of drenched clothes. What is heavier, though, is the realization that I had secretly hoped the storm would wait until I was back home. Even though I had planned for rain, unwilling to possibly expose my ipod to the elements, there was a piece of me that wanted, for just a moment, to feel lucky.

I didn't allow myself to wish that he would come back but I bundled up his love letters anyway and stashed them in a black box under my bed. He wasn't coming back, but when he did, I would have those letters as a testament to my hope.

He didn't come back. Today, I placed the box gently in the trash- I let go. Danielle LaPorte reminded me that sometimes we must destroy before we create. Tiffany Han urged me to make room in my life; I must make space - an empty shelf - to allow for something good to take root.

The next time clouds start to gather, I will again try to sneak in a run because it's not about luck.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Defying excuses

There is a certain defiance necessary to run in the rain. I have every reason to return home; soaked shoes are a far cry from Hermes' winged sandals. In choosing to continue, I defy excuses. In that moment, running is a choice, not a chore to be crossed off on my to-do list.

Growing up, I cut out every article about Mia Hamm and the U.S. Women's soccer team and made a scrapbook (or rather, I had the intention to scrapbook). Mia's commitment to practice reminds me that when something is meaningful, the effort should not be endured but cherished - "“The vision of a champion is bent over, drenched in sweat, at the point of exhaustion, when nobody else is looking.” 
There is a sacredness to passion. 

I can turn around at the first hint of thunderstorm or I can run in the rain. I choose to run.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Ballet on a bad day

I'm a ballerina, at least on Tuesday evenings. When I slip on my pink ballet slippers and twist my hair into a bun, I stand up a bit straighter, walk with a bit more purpose. I see grace when I observe myself in the mirror that runs the length of the room, but not the kind that demands a delicate ferocity to pirouette without wobbling. Instead, I see a grace that allows me to make mistakes and to try again. The grace of joy that shines when heart and soul accompany the movements of my body and my mind is quiet. 

Today, I almost skipped ballet class. My to-do list was long and I wasn't just tired- I was weary, disappointed that I hadn't yet crossed off tasks that I was supposed to complete over the weekend. I didn't want to focus on finding my balance when I couldn't find my balance outside of the studio, my car still unpacked from my weekend travels and my papers yet unwritten for school. Dinner was microwaved, not quite the labor of love crafted from farm-fresh ingredients prepared with patience if only I had the time.

Still, I went to class. I didn't allow myself to storm off with frustration when overwhelmed with the combinations across the floor. I finished the steps. And tonight, that was enough. I breathed in grace. 

31 days of running in the rain

Fresh start. New beginning. Blank page. With possibility comes anticipation, and expectations creep in. Jerry Seinfeld describes why he writes only on paper - -"I don't like that cursor flashing at me like, "so, what do you got?" 

Unsure of the path, I dread the openness afforded to me by beginnings. I wait, poised to jump in when the first of the month lands on a Monday, and let's through a whole moon into the mix. I'm learning that the alchemy for action does not depend on this precariously balanced equation - if I'm ready, then I'll succeed. It's hard to feel ready and  even when I have the best of intentions - shoes laced and play list ready - - it can still rain. This month, I'm going to explore what it means to run in the rain, to live my life in the moment, with The Nester's 31 day challenge in October

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