30 May 2009

to notice

Lauren, Lisa and Juli,

You are three of the unexpected gifts I was telling you about yesterday. I am blessed and humbled to have you in my life, and I am grateful for the fabric and thread that bind us in friendship. Thank you for sharing life and dinner and tea (and perhaps someday, cookies, paint and wine) with me. My life is warmer because of you. I thank you.

I wrote this back in January. I wasn't sure what it was for back then, but now I see that it was for the three of you and for today. Happy Birthday, Sister...

To Notice.

Cutting wind blows just outside my window. Although bricks and glass and drywall and paint stand between us – although I can’t see it – I am certain it is there. It needs and wants to be known, to be heard. It interrupts. It howls. It unearths groans and creaks. Even from the warmth of inside, I can feel it. Outside, a lone tree stripped of its leaves, its life and its color shutters in its wake and speaks of its presence. A distant chime sings of its existence. Just outside my window, the air is frigid and cold.

I just returned from its grip in a bitter, face-to-face exchange. I left the warmth of within and ventured outside on a trek from chair to mailbox back to chair. The wind pierced me, and quickly cut to my core - deeper and still deeper, with each step. Ordinarily, I would have been undone by now. But I am not.

I am back inside, and I feel warm.

Last week, my friend, Lisa made me a pillow. It is simple and lovely - covered in floral fabric and neatly stitched. I love this pillow. I really love it. I love it because my friend made it for me. She thought of me, and as far as I can tell, for no reason in particular, she made it for me.

My pillow is covered in flowers and filled with rice. It holds heat. Lisa instructed me to put my pillow in the microwave, to heat it for a few minutes and then to bring it with me to bed. “It will keep you warm,” she explained.

Like most people with whom I have spent more than a few minutes, Lisa knows that I often feel cold. Fair enough; Lisa has noted the obvious about me. But the truth is, she doesn’t know me all that well. We have only been friends for a short time. Nonetheless, Lisa made me a lovely pillow filled with rice. She made me a microwavable pillow that holds heat and smells good – like home-cookin’ and sweet spices. Lisa noted, and she notice. She noticed that I wear sweaters in the summer time. She noticed that sometimes I wear gloves inside. She noticed that I come alive when I am wrapped in a blanket or I am parked in front of a fire or a space heater, or when I am sipping a cup of tea. So she stitched two pieces of fabric together, filled the pocket with rice and the contents of a Good Earth teabag, she sealed it shut and for no reason in particular, she gave it to me. In the simplest of gestures, she moved me and schooled me on the substance of love.

To see. To notice. To care, and then to act; that is love.

What Lisa doesn’t know is that sometimes the cold is debilitating. There have been days in the last year – especially at this time of year – that I am unable to function or even to move because I feel so damn cold. I go to bed cold, and I wake up cold, but I have learned to adjust – I wear socks and sweaters. I take extra showers and sleep with extra blankets. I sip soup, and I sip tea. I cope.

Lisa couldn’t have known of the cold I would face last night and today, when she acted in love on the thought of me that came to her mind. She gave me more than she will ever realize in a simple, intentional act of kindness. She gave me my first night of absolutely contented sleep in the last year, last night. She brought sweetness to my sleep in the faint aroma of Good Earth tea – my absolute favorite – that emanates from my pillow. The warmth and beauty and peace of the pause that comes in sipping a cup of hot tea – the precious respite from the worry and noise and stress and chaos of life that comes with a cup of tea – she unknowingly brought that peace into my sleep last night.

And now, as I sit here – sweater-less and sockless – secure from the unforgiving wind that howls just outside my window, I feel warm. The pillow that now rests at my feet radiates warmth that penetrates every fiber in the fabric of my soul. It smells hearty and sweet. I am utterly and totally moved by fabric, rice, tea and thread.

My friend noticed, and I feel loved.

28 May 2009


That's it. I'm done.

My attitude has sucked for nearly a month, and I apologize. I have been spinning, spiraling, griping, nagging, whining, and frankly, I'm getting tired of myself. I've chosen to focus on that which is missing and in the process, I've failed to see and to appreciate the beauty in absence. Sometimes NOT knowing is the best gift there is, because it forces one (ahem, me) to loosen up and to let go.

Go ahead, Ab. Lose control. GOOD ON YOU!

Life is belly laughter. It is meant to be lived out loud.
I need to let go and laugh a little. A lot. I need to LIGHTEN UP. I need to give myself and everyone else a freaking break! Where is the grace. Where is the joy? As the Black-eyed Peas ask, Where is the love?

It's here. It's there. It's everywhere. I love and I am loved. What else matters?

Yes. Indeed, I am done. I am ready to move on. I am ready (or at least willing) to loosen my death grip. I want to learn. I want to trust. I want to let my hair down, roll in the mud and play until it gets dark. OK, who am I kidding? I can't stand being dirty, and this staying up late is just not my thing. But I'm willing to try!

Help me. Teach me. Tell me... how do I let go?

I suppose asking isn't really the point, is it?

OK, so I won't ask. I'll just be, and I'll let you know how it goes.


P.S. Happy Birthday, little sister!!

27 May 2009

love. honor. memory.

Twenty-five years ago, we moved in next door.
I have countless fond memories of Jimbo, Kerry, Bobby and you.
You were the older brother I never had.

12/19/73 - 5/13/09

26 May 2009

breaking up

You are sultry. Saccharin.
You've romanced and enticed.
You've sweet-talked your way back into my life.
You've sought me. You've found me.
You are sweet, really. But the thing is...
I don't really like you that way any more.
Can we just be friends?

faster. bolder.

a way

I do that sometimes.

I still haven't figured out how to put all my thoughts -- particularly the sloppy and awkward ones -- on the page with and without a filter. So sometimes I paint those broad, polished, black and white brush strokes, when one must fill in the blanks in the absence of gradation. That's how details get lost.

I'm unsure how to paint the picture of the last twelve days. They've been full. Overflowing. I'm trying to see in technicolor, but mostly - honestly - I just see black and I see white. Perhaps another time.

Melissa and Joel and their kiddos spent the weekend with us.
That was sweet. Earlier this evening, upon their departure, a high-browed, white-gloved realtor stopped by unannounced in the wake of clutter and chaos. That was not.

And tonight, my right eye won't stop twitching and I'm chewing gum. Tonight, my mouth and my mind and my eyelid are working over time, perhaps so my heart and my soul won't have to. It's nearly 11, and I am copiously pounding away at my gum and my keyboard. After twelve full days, it feels difficult - virtually impossible - to deal with the empty spaces, the unknowns and the silence any longer. So instead, I am tapping and twitching and chomping away.

Not tonight. Perhaps tomorrow.

There is that word again... sigh. And then there was yesterday.

Yesterday, I was scheduled to start my race at 7:16 a.m. That was impossible, however because at 8:30 yesterday morning, I was still at a hospital in downtown Denver, where I had arrived eight hours earlier to attend my last birth.

Somehow -- I'm still not sure how -- less than two hours later, I crossed a finish line 30 miles away.I ran my race in 52.07. I ran my fourth Bolder Boulder six minutes faster than my last and more than seventeen minutes faster than my first. I still can't believe I was there.

He will make a way where there is no way. Yet, tonight, I'm still here. I can't believe I'm here. I'm miles away from where I began, yet somehow, I'm still here. I'm full. I'm empty. I'm done. I'm undone. I'm ending. I'm beginning. I'm there, and yet I am still here.

There is always a way. Please, help me to remember. Please help me to find my way.

14 May 2009

too much

We are supposed to leave for a road trip to Omaha in seven hours. Omaha. Eight hours in the car with Paul and my kiddos. I haven't packed. Nothing is certain. One birth to go. I've been running around all day, and tonight, we had to vacate our house -- my home -- so it could be scrutinized by a prospective buyer. We sold our couch. I can't deal. I couldn't sleep last night, and this is just the beginning. I feel panicky and paralyzed and sleepy. My stomach hurts. It's not that big of a deal - to most - but... but, I don't want to go. I'm losing control. I'm barely standing. I'm freaked out. I can't breathe. I'm tired, and this is just the beginning. I want to cry.

12 May 2009


I just realized that today is my half-birthday. Today, I'm 32 and 1/2.

Today, I am in that inevitable place and space of looking back on the road we have traveled - particularly over the last five years.

I see a picturesque trail with mountains, blue skies, green trees, beautiful friends, beloved community, life and death and much more life. I have traveled many miles in five years. One step at a time, I have been monumentally and eternally transformed.

Thank you.

Her dream was vivid and clear, and I was its star. "You don't have to worry about the Ironman," she said.
"Take in the sights. Delight in the city. Enjoy the run."

For years and years, I sat idly by and I held back because I feared the road -- the daunting destination ahead. How would I go? How would I get there? "Just start," she said. "JUST START," He said. Two simple words have changed my life. Small Steps. A new day. A clean slate.

I am no longer and will never again be the woman I was. That which I once missed is now the substance -- the essence -- of all that I am and everything I hope to become. I have been moved. I am alive. And I am changed.

Oh, the Journey -- the process -- it is poetry. The story is destiny. And it is the kingdom, and it is eternity. I see it. I feel it. I taste it. I smell it. Miles have been logged. Boulders mark the way, and I am overwhelmed.

Oh this road, it was never meant to be traveled alone. Friends have become family, and family have become friends. I am better because of the people I have encountered. Oh, sweet Jesus, I thank you. I thank you.

This is my last summer in Denver. I'm poised and purposed and ready to run, to re-trace my steps, to mark my path and to remember. To remember. I fully intend to heed, to delight and to enjoy. Interested?

I put out the request every year, and I have never gotten any takers. Perhaps THIS is my year. This is the last time I'm asking, because I'm moving, folks!
I'm officially registered for the Bolder Boulder over Memorial Day weekend (EA wave), the Rocky Mountain 1/2 Marathon in mid-June and the Tri for the Cure in early August. I'd love some company, so If you've been thinking about it and it's time, let's do it. Just start.

Perhaps this is YOUR year. Perhaps this the year that we will run together. Or perhaps we won't. Perhaps these are my races to run on my own. If I must, I will. I began, I will end, and I will move ahead with a race. Whatever the case, I will run, and I will take you with me.

10 May 2009

on mother's day

I went to bed weary and burdened last night - bearing the stress and disappointments of the week, trying to let go, while still holding on. My stomach hurt. They didn't call. We didn't get an offer. I didn't say goodnight.

I was dazed and confused when I woke up this morning. It was 3:50 a.m. Paul was breathing heavily beside me, Cole was staring me down in the dark, and he was saying something. Eventually he came into focus.

"Mommy, I had an accident."

Perhaps if I laid still long enough, he would make his way over to the other side of the bed. He didn't. I'm not sure how long I laid there before I eventually stood up. Once I did, I was annoyed.

Happy Mother's Day.

Anxious, vexed and busy thoughts assailed my mind as I washed my face, brushed my teeth and suited up an hour-and-a-half earlier than I had planned. It was dark, quiet, cold and clammy out. I breathed deep breaths trying to find peace in my pace, to quiet my mind and to enjoy the run. Mostly, I felt anxious and annoyed. Fast, squatty rabbits darted across the dark trail, and I encountered two coyotes. For 108 minutes, I was on edge.

I was greeted with a hearty "Happy Mother's Day" when I returned home and opened the front door. It was sweet, and my heart sailed. Almost immediately, however, the barrage of questions followed. Would you like to open your cards? Can we have breakfast? What's for breakfast? Can we reinstate the rule that we don't go to bed without saying goodnight? Momma, can we have wraps for lunch? Mommy, will you heat my rice pillow? What's the plan for today? What do you want for mother's day?

And so went today. I've been wallowing, cranky and annoyed ever since - silently wondering if I am the only mother alive who just wants to be left alone for Mother's Day.

I didn't always feel this way. I think I started to dislike this "holiday" only once I became a mother. That was the point at which expectation settled in. It was no longer just about my mother, but it also became about me. This year in particular, it was mostly about me.

What's the plan for today? What do I want for mother's day? For starters, I don't want to have to answer this question. As a matter of fact, I don't want to answer any questions. But since you asked...

I want a massage, a pedicure and a manicure for Mother's Day.
I want a week at a she-she spa/silent retreat for Mother's Day.
I want someone else to think about breakfast (and lunch and dinner) for Mother's Day.
I want an uninterrupted nap for Mother's Day.
I want someone else to wash the urine-soaked sheets on top of my washer for Mother's Day.
I want my house to go into contract tomorrow (interested?), and I want our move to be swift and sweet for Mother's Day.
I want respite from menstruation, with all of the rewards and none of the embarrassment or side effects (i.e. pregnancy) for Mother's Day.
I want my bike and I want it now for Mother's Day.
I want blue skies and sunshine for Mother's Day.
I want a clean kitchen and $25,000 for Mother's Day.
I want everyone I love to live in the same town for Mother's Day.
I want patience, peace of mind, self control, inside voices and a cup of hot tea for Mother's Day.
I want to bid tantrums, bad days, binges and chin hairs an eternal adieu for Mother's Day.
I want to be over myself and celebrating other moms for Mother's Day.
I want a good mood... and world peace for Mother's Day.

With all my pissy himming, hah-ing and carrying on today, I didn't open my gifts until a few minutes ago. Just before my kiddos went to bed, they proudly presented me with:

1. Two crayon-colored cards with rainbows, flowers and my favorite: kid-print.

2. Cole's paint-stained hand prints - one red, one blue - and a poem on a page:

"...Mothers are for loving when you snuggle up tight. Mothers are for kissing you a sweet good night."

3. "About Me and My Mom" from Maya:

What is your mom's name? Abi
What is your name? Maya
How old is your mom? 22
How old are you? 5
What is your mom's favorite thing to do? Write.
What is your favorite thing to do? Color
What is your mom's favorite food? Oatmeal.
What is your favorite food? Hot Dogs.
What makes your mom smile? When I help her clean the house.
What makes you smile? Playing with my brother.

At the base of the page, she colored a picture of the two of us standing side by side.

And now my kiddos have retired for the night, Paul is downstairs, my house is definitely quiet and it is relatively clean. I am finally alone, save my laptop, my gifts and my thoughts, and I can't help but to think about how differently today may have gone if I had opened my heart and my gifts this morning.

What's the plan for today? What do I want for mother's day? Mostly, I just want a do-over for Mother's Day... OK, and world peace.

05 May 2009


It arrived in a moving truck nearly five years ago. Although it often rested quietly behind closed doors, it took up space and commanded attention. It unified and divided, entertained and anesthetized. It afforded opportunity to lose ourselves, and in some ways, it helped us to find ourselves. It ran its course and served its purpose. It was heavy and huge. Freaking huge. 38.75" x 30.5" x 24.9" and 216.5 lbs, to be exact. It was our television, a SONY TRINITRON, and now It's gone.

E is for elimination. It has been our mantra of late. On the heels of winter, warm winds of change have begun to forcefully blow. They have shifted and transformed. They have scattered seeds and blown open doors. They have resurrected and restored. They have lifted dense fog and helped us to see.

They have revealed the paradox of beautiful and abundant simplicity, but they have also opened our eyes to notice all sorts of other stuff. Stuff, it is such a bland and non-descript word, but save a four letter expletive, there is no better description for the boxes and files and bins and piles, above us, below us, within us, without us, in cupboards, in drawers, around and about us. The burdens, the weights, the policies. The plans. The noise... The stuff. Where did it all come from? How did we get from there to here?

As we have looked and seen with focus and clearer eyes, an urge to purge, to toss, to release and to give away has overwhelmed. In the weeks of late, piles have been pillaged. Policies have been canceled. The noise has been silenced. And in the spaces between we've rediscovered long-buried treasures. It has been good. Very good.

36" SONY TRINITRON - $90, Westminster, CO.

Paul and I hoisted the hoss from its hutch and lugged it to our garage amidst the other discards. What do they say? One man's refuse is another man's refuge... or something. I posted our TV with a photo and its dimensions on Craigslist, and within minutes, I began to receive calls.

An eager and interested, Lisa was among the first to inquire and to commit. She called from work around 8:30 a.m. Perhaps it was a coffee break. Perhaps. She would plan to come by with her boyfriend on her way home. Would I hold it for her? Would it fit in a standard sedan?

Yes, I guess and I'm not sure.

They arrived at my door just after four - at the tail end of a clamorous afternoon of cleaning out, clearing out and eventually stressing out. My crazed, cabin-fevered kiddos, who had just been sent to their rooms to simmer, were upstairs bouncing off the walls, a frustrated Paul had departed with a truckload of treasures for the good folks at Goodwill, and I had just begun to find short-lived solace in my pantry.

Lisa's eyes were soft, dark and framed by ebony rims. Her shoulder length hair was also dark, inconspicuous and straight. She was small-framed and hugged in shades of blue - aqua on top and navy below. He (I can no longer recall his name, but for the story's sake, I'll call him Marcus) stood just behind her. A man of average height and build, Marcus had salt and pepper curls, five o'clock shadow, jeans and a just-tight-enough t-shirt. We exchanged our hellos and agreed to reconvene in the garage a few moments later. Somewhat down and distracted, I failed to notice the matchbox car in which they arrived.

It wasn't until I opened the garage that I even notice the neon writing on the wall. It quickly became clear that the Trinitron was much larger than they expected. Nevertheless, the three of us spent the next hour trying to squeeze a 200+ pound watermelon into a Dixie cup. We lifted (with the legs... at first) and attempted the back seat. Rrrrrrright.

With a furrowed brow, Marcus stood back, sized up, measured and rallied his troops (us) to try again. We attempted the back seat a few more times from a few more angles before we proceeded to the front seat. Uh huh, not so much. Marcus continued his wishful calculating and strategizing, and he offered idea after idea. 1-2-3... lift, he coached. Turn it this way... what if we tried... How about... Do you have twine?...

Twine?!?! Is he KIDDING?!?!

It went like that for nearly an hour: he instructed, we obeyed. I suppose both Lisa and I felt the need to give the guy credit for his optimism. So we lifted and lugged with little to show for our work an hour later. Lisa was done before we began, and Marcus eventually capitulated too. They would not go home with a TV that afternoon, and I would park on the street another day with empty pockets, a late start to dinner and a sore back.

In a desperate attempt to reclaim my parking spot, I followed up with Maurice, the astute and arrogant voice from mid-morning. He had also inquired about the Trinitron - shortly after Lisa - and drilled me with a long series of specific, well-crafted questions. Does it cut off the ticker at the bottom of the screen? Will there be someone there to help me? May I test it? Can I take it off your hands for $80. Is 9:30 tonight too late?

In a reaction and a momentary lapse of judgement, I sold out my soul, my husband and my sleep far below their value with my hasty responses: I'm sorry, what? Yes, my husband. I guess so. I suppose so, and no, that's just fine.

In the hours that followed, I emptied and lost and filled myself. Anxious and obsessed, my thoughts became fixed on my stuff. I took on the least becoming qualities of my things: I felt heavy and weary and out of control. I gave in, I wallowed and I checked out - way out - before I finally attempted to check back in. At some point, it started to rain, and right on cue, in walks Maurice.

He was mousy - a big voice for such a little man - and he donned pegged jeans and a black jacket. He had a spring in his step, a VCR in tow and he arrived in a van (thank the LORD... or so I thought). We exchanged brief hellos and agreed to reconvene moments later in my garage. While Paul was warm and cozy inside, I had to face the rain and the cold and the mini-monster of my own making.

In the garage, Maurice bypassed the niceties altogether and barked orders for power and an extension cord. He plugged in the TV and the VCR, and like a scene from a bad (really bad) movie, he pulled a VHS tape and a remote control from an inside pocket of his jacket. Copiously rewinding and fast-forwarding through scene after scene of news footage and sports footage, he inspected and tested without a word. CNN, Fox News, ESPN... he had it all.

Sometimes it improves, he broke ten minutes of silence and spoke aloud to no one in particular. He continued to examine, and then explained, You see, there's an arc in the display... and it cuts off the feed at the bottom of the screen... and the pictures isn't clear... and...

AND, IT'S A TV, MAURICE!!!!! I screamed in my head.

For twenty more agonizing and freezing minutes, Maurice worked. He decided to pass on the Trinitron and for the second time that day, I shut the garage with a-tenth-of-a-ton television still in my possession. At least I didn't have to lift it.

The following morning, the cloud had lifted, the sky sparkled and the sun shone bright. It was a glorious Tuesday morning and I determined before I got out of bed that I would delight in my day... and I did. In the peace and quiet of the morning, I wrote and wrote some more and the words flowed. I worked out, I showered, I made breakfast, and I enjoyed. I was fully engaged, fully alive and fully present, and it was good. Very good.

Just as I made plans to go for a walk, my little red phone rang out. It was Daniel calling to inquire about the 36" Sony Trinitron I had advertised on Craigslist.

Yes, it's still available... Yes, I'll be around in an hour... Yes, there is an ATM machine just down the street...

Daniel, a huge kid dressed in baggy black, with shaggy hair and a baby face arrived at my door with two friends - a girl and a guy - 45 minutes later. I'm not sure how old they were, but their spirits were young and light and hopeful. Their expectation and anticipation were contagious. We exchanged brief hellos and agreed to reconvene a few moments later in my garage.

OHHHHHHH!! They erupted in laughter, disbelief and excited high-fives as I opened the garage and the Trinitron came into full view. They were beaming as they approached the enormous electronic with ebullience and jubilation. Before I could opened my mouth to explain that it would likely take the four of us to lift it, Daniel and one friend effortlessly hoisted the TV into the back of the black SUV (phew!) that was parked in my driveway.

It's $90, right? Daniel asked with a glowing, rosy smile.

He reached into his deep, chain-clad pocket and handed me five crisp $20 bills. This is AWESOME, he exclaimed. Keep the change. And as quickly and as simply as Daniel and his friends had arrived, they were gone. They left me 217 lbs lighter.

I stood in the sun for a long while and soaked it all in. Incredulously, I looked at the empty space in my garage, and I felt warm. With a smile on my face, the sun in my spirit and $100 in my pocket, I left my truck outside, shut the garage and headed for the trail.