Thresholds

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The word ‘threshold’ has come up for me again and again recently. Most obviously, as we end one year and begin another, but also as I witness friends navigate illness, cross-country moves and other struggles. It also holds meaning for me as I embark on a new chapter in my life. The metaphor is rich with mystery, yet one that is tangible and accessible. I love how John O’Donohue uses the word to describe moving between states of being and how he couples this motion with a sense of beauty. Below is a quotation from his interview with Krista Tippett.

Beauty is about more rounded substantial becoming and when we cross a new threshold – that if we cross worthily – we heal patterns of repetition in us that had us caught somewhere. And in our crossing, we cross onto new ground. We don’t just repeat what we’ve been through in the last place we were. Beauty is an emerging fullness; a greater sense of grace and elegance; a deeper sense of depth; a kind of homecoming for the enriched memory of your unfolding life.

Christine Valters Paintner of Abbey of the Arts is relatively new to me, however she has been instrumental in my unfolding spiritual journey this year. In her Give Me a Word e-course, she begins like this:

I offer the image of “threshold” as a potent one for this time of crossing into a New Year. I love doors and thresholds and what they represent. While I have mixed feelings about New Year’s resolutions, I do adore the promise and possibility this time of year offers to us. Doors, both open and closed, seem to shimmer with the invitation to approach.

Doors are places for pausing, of finding your key, of knocking, of asking for entry. Thresholds carry us from one place to another – usually from outside to inside or the other way around. They are symbols of our inner movements.

I believe that our lives are about crossing one threshold after another. Opening our hearts to the next invitation, even if it means stepping away from what is comfortable and familiar and toward what feels unknown.

I am trying to pause for a moment when a threshold presents itself and acknowledge the crossing. Sometimes there is shy hesitation. Sometimes there is bold fearlessness. Sometimes there is sheer and total awkwardness. But no matter how I cross, I believe with every ounce of my being, that the ground beneath my feet is holy and my steps are divinely guided. This is the simple faith that keeps me walking.

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Third Sunday of Advent: Animals

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Once during that year
when all I wanted
was to be anything other
than what I was,
the dog took my wrist
in her jaws. Not to hurt
or startle, but the way
a wolf might, closing her mouth
over the leg of another
from her pack. Claiming me
like anything else: the round luck
of her supper dish or the bliss
of rabbits, their infinite
grassy cities. Her lips
and teeth circled
and pressed, tireless
pressure of the world
that pushes against you
to see if you’re there,
and I could feel myself
inside myself again, muscle
to bone to the slippery
core where I knew
next to nothing
about love. She wrapped
my arm as a woman might wrap
her hand through the loop
of a leash—as if she
were the one holding me
at the edge of a busy street,
instructing me to stay.

- Kasey Jueds, “Claim”

Game Changers: 2014

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This is a long post and I refuse to make it longer with a wordy introduction. Suffice to say, the following 14 things rocked my world this year. Game. Changers. Each and every one of them. Bring it, 2015. I’m ready for whatever you’ve got.

1. New bras. Let’s get right to it, shall we? LOL If you know me in real life, you have probably heard my PSA on B-R-As. What a difference a correct fitting bra makes. (Here’s the skinny: the center of your bra should lay flat against your sternum. If it doesn’t, something ain’t right.) If you are local to WNC, go see Cindy at Dillard’s on Tunnel Road. She is a magician. An expensive magician, but worth every single penny.

2. A big, jazzy belt buckle. I did some body/energy work with my spiritual director last year to locate where I hold my power. Turns out, it is right below my belly button. She told me to start wearing a belt with a big buckle to remind myself to lead from my power center. (How can you not love someone who gives advice like that?!) I bought this one; I’m saving up for one of these.

3. Mammogram? Check. This had been a monkey on my back for four years. When I turned 40, I was advised to get a baseline sometime before 45. Every year I would think about it, get nervous and put it to the back of my mind for 365 days. Not this year.

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4. Wyoming. The lessons from this trip are still revealing themselves. (I think my word for 2015 showed up while I was there. I am just beginning to come to terms with it. Stay tuned.) Everything about this trip cracked me wide open. The preparation, the packing, the traveling, the landscape that made me feel like my soul had come home – all of it stretched me and filled me beyond words.

5. A magical gathering. Three friends stayed at my house for three days this April and it changed something in me on a core level. We ate, drank, laughed, walked, made art, did eurythmy and somehow managed to rest and rejuvenate. We already have a weekend planned for this coming February. Look out Austin, TX – the ladies of Taproot are on their way!!

6. Blogged less. Wrote more. Late last year, I had the not-so-pretty insight that my blog had become a personal proving ground. Basically, I felt that if I posted three times a week about Big Serious Homeschooling Topics that meant I was doing things The Right Way. Yikes!! It had absolutely nothing to do with proving anything to those reading my blog (That means you. Thank you for always receiving whatever I write with such kindness.) But more to do with propping up my own fragile ego in this area. The other side of this has been a lot less posting, but much more freedom and a lot more fun – plus a new-found love for journaling.

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7. My dog is 15 years old. We thought she was only 8 or maybe 9. Fifteen? That is old. After we found out the truth, there were several weeks – ok, more like a couple of months – when I would get a huge lump in my throat every time I thought about it. She has become a constant and living reminder to embrace the days that we are lucky enough to be given. Plus, we don’t ration the dog treats anymore! I mean really.

8. Poetry. Every single day. If you’ve read this blog for longer than 24 hours, you know how much I love poetry. A Year of Being Here has been my daily fix for months. It is the source of many “Sunday Selections.” (Now you know.) Reading poetry every day keeps me present and in touch with that part of myself that craves deep, dramatic truths. I love this quotation from the about page: “This moment is real, this moment is what we have, this moment in which we face each other,” the American poet Muriel Rukeyser once declared, “and if a poem is any damn good at all, it invites you to bring your whole life to that moment, and we are good poets inasmuch as we bring that invitation to you, and you are good readers inasmuch as you bring your whole life to the reading of the poem.” Yes.

9. Lost 15 pounds. I went low-carb and high-protein and lost pounds and inches. Mostly I maintain my weight by walking everyday and avoiding sugar and white flour. This has not been too hard . . . well, except for the pecan pie at Thanksgiving. I feel better in my body since before I was pregnant with Vincent – which was sometime late last century.

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10. My new DSLR. I shot with film well into the digital age. Part of the reason was that I loved my Canon Rebel so much. However, when film processing got to be so expensive and iPhones got to be so effortless, I stopped using it. This all changed a couple of weeks ago when my mom scored me a used Canon DSLR. (I swear, my mom can find ANYTHING at a yard sale, the Goodwill or in random church basements.) Taking the boys’ Christmas photo with that camera made me realize how much difference a good lens makes and how much I missed having something heavy in my hands. I have been in a photographic slump since Wyoming, but that is changing. Big time.

11. Brene Brown. I don’t know what I can say about this woman that I haven’t said already. Game. Changer. Personified. She is so honest, so real, and so effing-funny. If you haven’t yet, read her recent blog post about surviving the holiday season: “The Show Must Go On“. It is a gem.

12. Cowboy boots know no season. I always hated putting my cowboy boots in the attic with my winter clothes. This year I didn’t. I loved pulling them out and wearing them this summer. I ever wore them with shorts. Yup, I’m one of those now.

13. Mastered the art of cooking rice. Rice has been my culinary nemesis for well over 20 years. Sticky, starchy and clumpy were the adjectives I would use to describe my attempts at this Asian staple. I tried rinsing. I tried cracking the lid of the pot. I tried every brand of rice under the sun. I pined for a rice cooker.  However, I have now found the secret and I will share it with you. Bring 2 cups of water and 1 can of coconut milk to a boil. Add about 3 tablespoons of coconut oil and a tablespoon of salt. After the oil melts, add 2 cups of rice. Stir just to break up rice. Simmer for 20 minutes. Do NOT stir. Do NOT open the lid. After 20 minutes, shove the pot to the back of the stove and ignore it for 15-30 minutes. Uncover and fluff with a fork. Best. Rice. In. The. World.

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14. Unravelling 2014. I can’t help but think this e-workbook by Susannah Conway set the stage for all that happened this past year, both the items on this list and so much more. Answering her questions was an exercise in clarification, manifestation and imagination. I made myself be honest and also let myself be bold. Unravelling 2015 promises more of the same – so go get it now!! In addition, Susannah is hosting a free “Find Your Word” e-course that complements the free e-book. Love that woman!

And you? I would love to know what rocked your 2014. Do tell!

Art Journal / Dream Board

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In my “Links and Other Thinks” post this week, I confessed my crush on Jamie Ridler. I love her creative energy and if money and time were no object, I would sign up for every class she offers. Jamie hosts a Dreamboard workshop every month that focuses on the full moon. She offers some specifics on her blog, with questions to ask as we journey through another lunar cycle.

The full moon that will rise tomorrow night is the Full Cold Moon that asks: What comforts do you dream of? What dreams feel like home? Rather than art journal like I usually do, I chose seemingly random words and images that seemed to answer these questions. I’m not sure where all this is going or what any of it means, but I love the idea of being more intuitive with my creativity.

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