Archives for July 2015

Self-Care: Allow Space for What You Want

(I am writing along with Laura Lynn Brown’s summer blogging project at Join us?)

This has been the hardest one for me. (OK, second hardest. Fun is the hardest.)

For a long time what I wanted — what I needed — didn’t matter. There were lives to save. The fact that people judged me, opposed me in public, undermined me, kicked me when I was down … immaterial. Do what needs to be done. Every day.

But now.

About eight months ago, we got an eye in the storm. Like all hurricane eyes, it was just a break, but a break that enabled us to keep going. Tides that were in went back out. Tides that were out came back in. For a little while I could begin to think about me.

I started this rethinking during Lent. I was also rewriting, so it was a fairly introspective time. I began to allow myself to wonder, “What do I want?” By Easter (the season, not the day), I was full-out praying for myself, something I had not done at all during this whole long mess. It felt weird. It felt wrong. It felt selfish. I kept it up until Pentecost (the day and the season).

During this summer I have had the freedom to allow some space for what I want. Last summer I couldn’t do that — circumstances didn’t allow it. But I recently looked back over my calendar from a year ago and was amazed at how much self-care I was actually doing. After one particularly bad day, I guest posted on a friend’s blog. I did not skip the cast party even though I did not want to get out of bed that day. I had lunch with another friend. I went to two family dinners and one especially fun fundraising event. I volunteered at a show. I faithfully attended the weekly farmers market.

Yes, I guess I did take care of myself after all.

Self-Care: Create deliberate daily rituals

(I am writing along with Laura Lynn Brown’s summer blogging project at Join us?)

I love rituals! Love! Love! Love! I love to create them. I love to tweak the ones I’ve already established. My favorite way to end one ritual is with another celebratory ritual.

The most important rituals are the first and last ones of the day. I begin by walking my dogs in the waning hours of moonlight, and I end by listening to a selection from that day’s Divine Office.

Different seasons of life, like having a child home for the summer, require different rituals. And some days my ritual is to ignore my ritual and do something else.

I survived the past few years because I created deliberate daily rituals. They sustained me. In this moments when I didn’t know what to do, I’d ask myself, What do I usually do? Then I did that.


Hail, Poetry!

“For what, we ask, is life without a touch of poetry in it? Hail Poetry!”

(from the Pirates of Penzance, sung sentimentally by the Pirate King, and then everyone joins in. As they should.)

Today is the day to sing with pirates and poets. Today is Take Your Poet to Work Day.

My poet this year is not a pirate but a miserable failure of a poultry farmer. Robert Frost.


Every day I readThe Writer’s Almanac, not just for the daily poem, but also for the almanac portion, the mini-biographies and recaps of historical events from a literary perspective. Here’s something I learned from those write-ups, Frost once owned 300 Wyandotte chickens.

Knowing nothing about chickens, I Goggled the breed and found this tidbit at “Wyandotte chickens: the Sophia Loren of the poultry world. Glamorous, showy, stately, a bit of a diva.”

You’re seeing Frost in an entirely new, slightly Italian-slanted light, aren’t you?

I highly recommend reading the entire entry on Wyandottes. They are described as noisy and bossy. The hens tend to be “broody.” Not a good breed for a poet. Perhaps Frost would have had better luck with a less diva-ish breed.

However, that time as a farmer in New Hampshire was not wasted. It later yielded “A Boy’s Will” and “North of Boston,” two collections mostly comprised of poems written either when he was farming or about that time in his life.

Although I have celebrated Take Your Poet to Work Day every year, this is the first time that my poet of choice gets to venture off the back porch. I am set to interview the president of Texas State Technical College in Waco, Rob Wolaver. It’s hard to schedule interviews in July, so I took the date that worked for him. It was only later that I realized Robert Frost would be joining us.

I’m not sure how it will go, bringing Frost to an interview. I’m also meeting my son for lunch; his summer job is painting houses. My husband is tagging along so he can meet with his favorite nonprofit, Talitha Koum. It’s sure to be a very un-New Englad-y day for Mr. Frost.

But like the Pirate King says, “For what, we ask, is life without a touch of poetry in it?”

Hail, Poetry, especially this one, my favorite by Frost. It appeared earlier this year at Every Day Poems.

Dust of Snow


The way a crow

Shook down on me

The dust of snow

From a hemlock tree


Has given my heart

A change of mood

And saved some part

Of a day I had rued.


Robert Frost


P.S. Tomorrow–an update, with photos!

Self-Care: Address Your Adrenaline Addiction

(I am writing along with Laura Lynn Brown’s summer blogging project at Join us?)

Dear Valorie Burton, author of “How Did I Get So Busy?”


You obviously don’t know me. I had to look up the definition of adrenaline addiction.

I am acquainted with adrenaline. I know its bitter taste in my mouth, its queasy feeling in my stomach. It’s unpleasant.

Almost every time I’ve experienced an adrenaline rush, it has been because of time constraints, like when I almost missed my flight from London to Houston because the security lines were so long, and later that same day, when I almost missed my flight from Houston to San Antonio for the same reason. Those are not moments I wish to relive.

Sure, I get stressed out, like everyone. I can gear up when necessary. It’s just so rarely necessary.

The word “busy” got redefined for me during a particular spring week when I needed my adrenaline. I had to act quickly, secretly, coordinating with multiple people on multiple fronts. It was about life and death.

Since then, anything short of life and death, no adrenaline necessary. A steady supply of tea does me just fine.

Thanks anyway,



Self-Care: Get good exercise, preferably standing up

(I am writing along with Laura Lynn Brown’s summer blogging project at Join us?)

My favorite exercise, which I only do once a week, is performed while sitting down. It’s climbing on my bicycle and taking off down a one-lane country road. I live in the cycling capital of Texas. People pay money to ride our roads; I get to do it for free.

I have routes for every wind direction, in a variety of mileages. Early Sunday morning is my favorite time to ride because there are even fewer cars than usual, and in the summer I can take a three-hour ride and still make the late service at church. (Or go on Saturday night.)

John rides several times a week. Sometimes we get in the car and scout out new bike routes: “That one would be better counterclockwise, if the wind’s out of the north,” or “Oh, man. That’s a hill,” and “Gosh. Look at that.”

There’s so much “that” to see — wildflowers, wildlife, ponds that ebb and flow depending on how much rain we’ve had. The road with the ranchitas and the mini-mansions. The road where all the houses look like they haven’t been updated in 40 years. The oldest church in the county. The curve on Cherry Mountain with all the goats. The cattle on Lower Crabapple and at that steep bend on Willow City. Those horses right by the highway. Look, peaches! What, another vineyard? A month ago, I saw three turtles crossing the road in tandem.

Riding clears my head. Sometiems I listen to podcasts, and sometimes I listen to my Andrew Duhon station on Pandora. Sometimes I just think. I pack some of Kristin’s granola balls and fill my CamelBak with SporTea and chill my brain while pushing my legs. (There’s a cycling T-shirt that says, “Shut up, legs!)

When I get home, no matter how hot it is outside, I crave soup, so I usually put some in the rice cooker to warm while I’m out. Either that or oatmeal. Then I take a hot shower, head out to the back patio, and do some good writing.