Author archive

15

days that build me

{by John Blase, the beautiful due}

Vintage bathing suits

I went with them yesterday, ‘them’ being the three females in my life. Two of them, my daughters, needed swimsuits because, well, it’s summer. The third of ‘them’, also known as their mother, had warned me:  you know they want buhkeeknees, right? I said I had heard that word several times of late but had always tried to change the subject. For example -

Daughter:  Dad, I really really want a buhkeeknee.

Me:  Sweet-girl, have you finished reading Rob Bell’s book yet?

Anyway, I went along yesterday, I felt it needed to be a father’s day on some level. So I stood in a store called Justice and leaned against a waiting-wall while three video screens assaulted my senses with some little tweener-boy trying to sing ‘Broken Hallelujah.’ I kid you not. As the poor kid butchered a classic I eyed my girls’ feet below the 3/4 dressing room door, feet I know well, toes I’ve counted, this little piggy and stuff like that. Their not-so-little-anymore feet skittered around accompanied by growing-girl giggles…

broken hallelujahs to my heart.

I don’t know about a hell, but I do believe in God because somehow my daughters’ eyes were earlier drawn to that known as the tankeeknee. Now I’ve nothing against buhkeeknees, I’m rather fond of them in fact. But when you’re a dad that fondness is tempered by that fact that you’re a male and you know how fond males of any age are of girls sitting on chaise loungers in their bra and panties. I needed something for these middle-dad days I’m in and that meant something to cover their-middle….

Voilà, enter the tankeeknee.

I stood up straight as I saw the dressing room door open. Two visions stepped forward to get my approval:  whaddaya think, dad?

If they only knew what I thought…if they only knew my thrill at seeing their ear-wide grins, a thrill coupled with an extreme difficulty to breathe, sorta like my saddle shifting right underneath me. If they only knew how excited I am for the summer days they have ahead of them, while I so long for those seasoned days when they let me wash their hair.

What do I think? Well, I like ‘em. Let’s get ‘em. And so we did.

Yesterday was a day that built me, my daughters’ father, just a little more. I may make it after all. The gentle irony was our experience took place in a store called Justice. Any man worth his salt knows fathers are built by one thing and one thing only – mercy.

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Read John’s original post and comments at the beautiful due and click around where you’ll find beautiful prose and poetry.  Want more?  Follow him on Twitter.

{Pick by Story Editor Robin Dance :: @PensieveRobin.}

 Photo credit

12

Breadcrumbs

{by Mary Lauren Weimer, My 3 Little Birds}

I almost didn’t go.

It was spitting Michigan sleet and I was tempted to change into sweatpants and curl up on my chair with dinner in my lap.

Sometimes, if I turned the antenna in just the right way, I could pick up Canadian channels. To me that sounded almost exotic–watching foreign television. But I’d worn a dress and heels to work, and all that wardrobe effort would have been wasted on another evening alone in my apartment if I didn’t venture out.

It was Ash Wednesday.  I needed Lent like detox.

I’d spent a long time searching for arrows in my life, guideposts telling me which way to go. Some came in the form of the lives I modeled:

 The vegetarian girl.

The young mother across the street.

The twenty-something who worked at my hometown music store, the one who steered me toward Joni Mitchell.

Some came in what I thought were signs:

A “C” in Sophomore English meant I had no future as a writer.

The boy who treated me badly meant that others would too.

Some came from others’ expectations…my family, teachers, professors, friends.

I looked to them to tell me where I was going, and more than that, who I was.  There had been years of living a want-to life.

I’d talked to my mother earlier that day. She told me the trees back home had started to bloom.

I cried,

hungry for Spring,

ready for change,

sick for home.

I sat by myself in that church and let the familiar words wash me clean.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

After the Gospel a woman stood and approached the lectern.  She clearly wasn’t a priest but on that dreary Detroit Ash Wednesday I heard the voice of God through her West Virginia accent.  It was a gift.

In that service I was home.

That day I learned the difference between looking for myself in others and listening to the voice inside.

Looking, listening.  Searching.

I still get lost on the path to finding.

I save the moments, though–like the unexpected Appalachian voice in a Michigan church.

These moments are crumbs along the way.  Bread.

I take them and eat, well fed for the day.

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Read Mary Lauren’s original post and comments at My 3 Little Birds, a blogging spot she declares a pillow fort.   Follow her on Twitter and Facebook for even more of her MOMents of Motherhood.

{Pick by Story Editor Robin Dance :: @PensieveRobin.}

21

“Fourteen?”

{By Glennon of Momastery}

Last week I read A Million Little Pieces and this week I’m re-reading I Never Promised You a Rose Garden and The Bell Jar. All three are about mental illness . . . and so it’s been a theme for me, these past two weeks…insanity. In truth, it’s been a theme for me these past few decades.

I spent some time in a mental hospital during my senior year of high school. I’d been a horrible bulimic for eight years and therapy wasn’t helping, especially since I spent most of my therapy sessions discussing how fine I was and how lovely the weather was. And one day during my Senior Year, I ate too much at lunch, and I thought I was going to die. Because to me . . . full = death. But I couldn’t find a place to throw up. And so finally, right then and there, in the middle of the Senior Hallway, I decided I was not fine - not at all. And I walked into my guidance counselor’s office and I said: “Call my parents. I need to be hospitalized. I can’t handle anything. Someone needs to help me.”

Here is a picture of me that was taken the week before I was hospitalized. I’m there in the Blue Suit.

I was a student government officer to a class of close to a thousand. An athlete, too. Relatively pretty. Smart. Seemingly confident. My Senior superlative was “Leading Leader.” In this picture I was co-hosting the Homecoming Pep Rally for the entire high school. Wearing the corsage to show I’d just been nominated for Homecoming Court.

People who need help sometimes look a lot like people who don’t need help.

And so that counselor called my parents, and they came right away. And they found a place for me to get help. I often think about what that day must have been like for them. Maybe they desperately wanted to say No, No it will be okay! Not a hospital! We are your parents! We can fix this! But they didn’t. The moment I became brave enough to admit I needed help they believed me, and despite the shock, the pain, the stigma . . . they gave me the exact help I asked for.

I’ve never written about my hospital stay before, because a whole lot is fuzzy, and I can’t get a real grip on the memories. Back then not many specialized eating disorder hospitals existed, so the one I went to was a real mental hospital. There were only two of us on the unit with eating issues, the others were there because they were mildly schizophrenic, drug addicted, depressed or suicide risks. Many of them had violent tendencies. I do not remember being afraid of any of them. I do remember being afraid, in one way or another, of most of the people in my high school.

There was one man on our unit who spoke only in numbers. I ignored him at first . . . it’s hard to know what the appropriate response is to “Twenty-one ninety-six forty NINE?” But one day I decided to take a guess. “Fourteen?” I responded tentatively. I remember his facing changing from empty to surprised to happy. Then back to empty, quickly. But I definitely saw happy, for a moment there. That taught me to try, at least once, to speak each person’s special language.

There was a sandy haired girl who always hung her head so low that I never really saw her face. I do remember what her arm looked like, though, because it was sliced up like a pre-cut ham. I saw it up close because I held her hand once when she started crying during a therapy session. She pulled it away at first but then she offered it back to me a few moments later. I remember that her hand was very cold, but it warmed up after a while. I don’t remember her name. I do remember her story and it was very, very sad. She was right to be crazy.

There was my roommate. I will call her Mary Margaret. Unable to speak with my little Sister, I allowed Mary Margaret to take Sister’s place for the weeks I was hospitalized. We whispered long into the night, every night. Mary Margaret was from a tight knit, fiercely loving family too, and we wondered aloud for hours how we ended up in that room together. One night, very late, we wrote vows that said we promised to take care of each other forever. We both signed the vows, with crayons because we weren’t allowed to have pencils. Mary Margaret made me promise not to eat the crayons. I told her maybe she should. We laughed. Mary Margaret was eighty pounds during her stay. She used to hide her food in her huge sweatshirt at lunch time and sneak it to me when we got back to our room. Mary Margaret and I saw each other once in the real world and then never again. We did not honor our vows to take care of each other forever. I’ve never looked for Mary Margaret, I’ve never even Googled her name. I’m too afraid. I know the survival statistics for anorexics.

There was art therapy and dance therapy and group therapy. It all made sense to me. The things the other patients said made sense to me, even though they weren’t things that my peers in my real life would have ever, ever said. Everyone had to listen to each other. There were rules about how to listen and how to respond. There were lessons about how to empathize and where to find the courage to speak. All the lessons made sense to me. I enjoyed them much more than my high school classes. They seemed much more important to me. We learned how to care, about ourselves and about each other.

There was the field trip we took to the art museum in Washington D.C. W rode into the big city on a small bus, we mental patients. We had a special appointment time at the museum, our own private tour. Because there were other groups and we weren’t to mingle with the normal people. I remember thinking that was probably best. We had a rule that we would all need to hold hands. In a long line. Like an extremely motley and sedated Conga Line. Throughout our entire tour.

I remember wondering why Mary Margaret and I had to hold hands with the group. We were relatively well behaved. We’re people pleasers, we bulimics and anorexics. I thought maybe our therapists were concerned that I would run away and attack the diners in the cafeteria and that Mary Margaret might run away with me and stand there and starve.

Then I remember walking by the museum cafeteria, and seeing twenty slices of pie revolving around on one of those buffet lazy susans. And I remember suddenly feeling very grateful that my hands were being held. I felt safe.

That’s what we all wanted. Safety -someone or some structure that would save us from ourselves, from the strange real world that others seemed to be navigating so flawlessly and we just couldn’t, at the time, for whatever reason.

And I remember trembling the morning of my release. I remember knowing I wasn’t ready, and knowing I had to go anyway, because I would never be ready. Because inside the hospital was so much easier and safer and surer than outside the hospital. And I knew I could get much too comfortable. Much too safe.

Because it all made sense to me in there. And that was a little confusing.
I’ve never done this before, but I’m going to go ahead and publish this without editing it first. I’m afraid that if I edit it at all, I’ll edit out all of it.

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Read Glennon’s original post here.

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Glennon invites nice people to stalk her on Facebook and Twitter.

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Another brilliant discovery by Story Editor Robin Dance :: PENSIEVE

18

Clotting

{By Brittany Gibbons, The Barefoot Foodie}

Have you ever been driving somewhere, and, before you know it, you’re there and you have no idea how you got there?

I haven’t been present for a while.

My body was here, and every so often, familiar words would escape from my mouth, but for months, my mind was somewhere else, and my heart was off laying in a mud puddle somewhere while someone poked at it with sticks.

I’m a cutter.

Not that kind.

With my brand of cutting, there is no visible blood.  All the scars are internal.

I was never going to say anything.  I was just going to cut.  Bleed.  Heal.

But, I wasn’t really healing.  I wasn’t clotting.

I was gushing.  Heavily.  And, it was blocking me.

Everything just squatting on my frontal lobe.  Making my words not work.

(I have no idea what your frontal lobe does.  I’m not a professional doctor.)

I have so many things to tell you.  Funny things.  Weird things.  Awkward things.  Just.  Things.  But, for a while, I couldn’t.

Every time I tried to tell you a story, my heart was all, HEY.  DON’T YOU REMEMBER ME?  THIS GIANT ASSHOLEY WOUND?  MAKING YOU PUKEY AND SAD?  LOOK AT ME.  LOOK AT MEEEEE!

Then it got hard to breath, my lips got numb, and my hands stopped working right, and I cried.

At first, it was sad crying.

I was mourning.

Mourning the loss of someone I loved.

Someone that was walking around, still very much alive, his blood the same as mine.

I waited to clot.  I waited to heal.

It turned to rage.

I bottled it and bottled it.  Only pushing against the people closest to me, screaming, LOOK AT ME.  LOOK AT THIS HURT.  THIS GIANT BALL OF SEEPING ANGER.  TAKE IT FROM ME PLEASE, IT’S TOO HEAVY FOR JUST ME.  I CAN’T CARRY THIS ALONE ANYMORE.

I expected help.

But instead, the body count grew.

Until things started to look less like a paper cut and more like a massacre.

Nobody likes complicated.  Nobody likes messy.

I am often both those things.

I used to only use the word hate when it came to silly things.  Like cilantro.  Or The Next Karate Kid.  Or people who hum when they chew.

But, now I use it for different reasons.

Reasons that are less sad and hurty, and more empowering and self respectful.

I can’t stop people from saying things about me that are horrible and untrue.

But, I can stop giving their disgusting actions so much weight.

I can’t make the people I loved see the truth or the hurt.

But, I can stop feeling so alone.

Because I’m not.

The surviving pieces of my life are my treasures.  My family are my bones.  And, I happen to have the very best friends in the world.

Wait.

Not friends.

Blood.

Sisters.

Some near.  Some a bit farther.

But, what’s distance when it comes to wine, laughing and singing along to Glee, right?

You aren’t in my life right now.  And, I just have to be ok with that.

I’m clotting.

I can write again.

And, I have the funniest thing to tell you.

Photo credit

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Brittany is the author of The Barefoot Foodie.
Subscribe to her blog in a reader so you won’t miss her serious, funny, brilliant thoughts.
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Discovered by Story Editor, Robin Dance @ PENSIEVE :: @PensieveRobin

12

The Presence of Greatness

{By Jeanne Damoff at The View From Here}

The first time I saw him he was walking on a treadmill. A blond starlet dressed like an old-west prostitute posed seductively in a country music video on the television screen suspended in front of him. But he wasn’t watching the video. He was looking around at whomever or whatever, not furtively, but with blatant curiosity.

When our eyes met, I understood.

Some might call the expression vacant. As the mother of a brain-injured son, I saw it more as open. Unmasked. He had dark eyes, and black hair curled around his ears, and I guessed he was probably somewhere between eighteen and twenty. A slender, silver-haired woman walked beside him. His mother.

The world has labels for people like him. Damaged. Deficient. Broken. Unproductive. More than anything I was struck with the stark contrast between his unaffected expression and the video starlet’s heavily painted facade, and I wondered with more than a hint of irony how many people in that gym would laugh at the notion that his contribution to society might be more valuable than hers.

The encounter touched a deep, knowing place inside me, but it was a seeing and moving along. I soon forgot.

That was several months ago, and I hadn’t encountered the pair again until last Friday, when I spotted them in an area off to the side used for free weights and upper body machines. There were plenty of other things going on. In addition to the general hustle and bustle of the gym, heart-breaking scenes from Japan filled a television screen nearby, and another a few feet away aired clips of a defiant Gadhafi, and on yet another some poor guy rushed through his busy day carrying around a beaker full of green liquid that I’m pretty sure represented the acid in his stomach, but my attention kept returning to mother and son. I didn’t mean to stare, but the more I watched them, the more everything else faded into the background. World events, whirring machines, even my own physical exertion. Soon I was completely enthralled with the interaction of the two.

The mother’s long thick hair was swept back and twisted up, the ends forming a silver firework atop her head, like a diadem. Her exercise clothes revealed a lean, toned frame, not beefy but gracefully athletic. As I watched her work with her son, I wondered if her motives for staying fit are as mixed as mine. For me, having a forever child — one with a permanently broken wing who will never fly the nest — compels me to remain strong and healthy as long as possible. There’s also the biblical mandate for stewardship of the physical body. Then there’s the addictive, endorphin-induced stress relief, the increased energy and sense of well being, a myriad of reasons (including simple vanity) I want to look attractive, and mixed in with all that, I suspect there’s a grasping for control, or at least the illusion of having some.

I know nothing about the other mother’s situation, but whatever her motives are, it didn’t take long to see in her a beauty that goes much deeper than a sculpted figure. A love story played out before me, and I had front row seats.

I watched as she helped her son lie down on a bench, placed two eight-pound weights in his hands, then lay on the bench next to his with her own hand weights. They turned their heads to look at each other, which gave me a clear view of his face. I’m sure she was speaking, but I doubted I would have been able to eavesdrop even if I’d been much closer. I imagined her voice as soft, calm, soothing. She seemed the embodiment of quiet strength, peaceful authority, and regal grace. I was captivated by her, and her son appeared to be as well. He never took his eyes off of her face as they raised and lowered their weights, side-by-side, him mirroring her movements, his expression a picture of cooperative concentration.

When they finished that exercise, she helped him sit up and carried their weights back to the rack — all her movements fluid elegance, purposeful and unhurried, as though completing this work out were the only event on her agenda and she savored the sweetness of each moment with her son. When she stepped away from him for any reason, he remained in his place, quiet and still, patience personified. Even a casual observer could see there was a lifetime of knowing between them. He had no reason to doubt her return, so he waited, fully present in his waiting.

And again, I understood.

People who’ve read our story often ask me what Jacob is like today — if he grieves what he’s lost or has goals for the future. For a long time I wasn’t sure how to answer. I’d tell them that nothing seems to upset him for long, and his default setting is happy, but — other than the mercy of God — I wasn’t sure why. Then one day when I was trying to explain Jacob to yet another person who’d asked, it all suddenly made sense. Jacob is content because he’s fully present in whatever moment he’s living. He doesn’t mourn or regret the past, and he doesn’t anticipate the future. He lives in the now with pure, childlike faith. I have no idea if the young man in the gym was born with his “deficiency” or if it was a gift of God’s severe mercy like Jacob’s, but I saw in him the same restful, trusting contentment. And, perhaps even more stunning, I saw this contentment in his mother as well.

What happened next made me catch my breath. The young man sat on a weight bench, staring out at the central part of the gym. As his mother walked past to adjust a machine behind him, neither turned to look at the other, but she placed a hand on his shoulder in a gesture that was like a benediction — intimate and so full of grace and tenderness, I almost felt I should avert my eyes. But I couldn’t. I was mesmerized. Awed by beauty. And deeply convicted.

I’m ashamed to admit how often I get frustrated with Jacob’s pace or resentful of the impact his limitations place on our choices. Everything about this woman’s body language and behavior communicated not only peaceful acceptance but love, joy, and genuine gratitude. And her son responded. When she spoke, he listened and obeyed. When she placed her hands over his and guided him through the use of a weight machine, he submitted without resistance, his trusting eyes fixed on her face.

The whole scene was so beautiful, so stunning and other-worldly, I lost track of time and everything else, and when I pulled myself back to my own reality, my heart was full to brimming. A multitude of emotions swirled inside me — admiration, gratitude, inspiration, awe — but there was one feeling conspicuous in its utter absence.

Pity.

Talking heads and defiant dictators still paraded across TV screens, and starlets still sold their souls for digital glory. I glanced around at harried people, squeezing in a slapdash work out before rushing off to the next pressing thing, and I wondered if anyone else in that room knew they were in the presence of true greatness.

What the world calls damaged, deficient, broken, Jesus names beloved, beautiful, redeemed. What the world would throw away as useless, He honors and exalts, making the least into teachers of compassion, possessors of radiant faith, living parables of His truth. What the world considers great, isn’t. Not in the eternal scheme of things.

Become as a child. That’s what Jesus said. Do as I have done to you. Wash one another’s feet.

I shudder to think how often I miss God’s gifts — so busy am I scrambling for significance, laboring to make myself feel good about myself. But God still gives and gives, and when I’m present in the moments of my life, I see.

I watched a mother with a silver crown serve her prince of a son, and I heard a Voice whisper.

“Well done.”

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Jeanne weaves and spins words at The View From Here.
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12

In Reflection

{by Stephen Parolini at Counting On Rain}

In the mirror across the bar she is twelve. She is standing in the wings of the Big Top, breathing the scent of hay and earth and animal with deep, happy inhales. She hears the crowd’s cheer rise and fall in waves, pictures a man and a woman flying through the air in matching blue and white costumes. She looks at her own costume. It is pink. Color, Maya, color! The circus is all about color! It is the voice of her father, a voice she has never known but somehow recognizes. I want to match you and mom, she says.But you match Kimba!

“Another?” She is back in the bar, her elbows leaning on the mahogany counter, her fingers wrapped around a sweating glass. The man she has been dating for three months touches her hand. He is a handsome man and she wonders if that’s why it was so easy to say “yes” to his dinner invitation all those weeks ago.

Maya looks down at her empty glass. She doesn’t remember the last sip.

“Okay,” she says. He lifts his hand from hers, and her whole body aches in the absence of his touch.

In the mirror across the bar, Kimba lifts her gray trunk, tickling at the edge of the curtain, playing with a fraying cotton rope that hangs from the exposed metal frame above. Kimba is wearing a pink ruffle around her neck. Kimba doesn’t like the ruffle. She endures it. Maya thinks this is how she feels about her pink outfit, too.

The applause becomes a symphony. Spotlights flash by the entryway. Her father sprints past, blowing a kiss to Maya. Her mother slows, reaches up and wraps her fingers around her daughter’s pink-slippered foot. Stand tall, her mother says, then follows her father back into the darker rooms where circus acts are stitched together with sawdust and magic.

“You seem quiet tonight,” he says as her drink is refilled. He notices things. She wonders if this is why it was so easy to say “yes” to spending the night after that first dinner. She had never done that before. Not so soon.

“I’m fine,” she says. He knows this means she needs the quiet; that she’s daydreaming or remembering or sorting. He will touch her again to acknowledge this. And he does, his hand on her shoulder.

In the mirror across the bar, Maya is atop Kimba, carefully adjusting her stance to stand tall as the elephant marches behind a parade of clowns into the biggest ring of the three-ring circus. Fireflies spark from the crowd when the youngest star makes her entrance. The flashes don’t really help, she hears her father say later, on the drive home in a rusty brown station wagon. The cameras are too far away for the flashes to matter. Maya leans against the car door, watching the blurring trees. They matter to me, she whispers to the clouds.

“Do you want to get out of here?” He asks. She feels the weight of his hand on her shoulder. He wants to go.

“No. I want to stay.” When she says it, there is too much bite in her words. She knows this and wants to apologize, but instead she lifts her glass and sips, disappointed by her distraction, then surprised by the taste of pomegranate.

In the mirror across the bar, she is twelve years old and standing on the back of an elephant. Head forward, she hears in echo. Head forward and smile big. The smiling is easy; she feels like she is flying. But she wants to turn and catch her father’s eye. She imagines him standing in the shadows, holding her steady with raised eyebrows and white knuckles, confident in his teaching, hopeful in her learning.

“Where are you?” he asks. His voice is soft, almost too soft to hear above the music that’s playing in the bar. She knows this song.

You don’t even have to speak,
if you keep looking at me.

She catches her breath and turns to look at him.

“Kiss me,” she says and he does. The kiss tastes of salt and lime and ends too soon. It is a perfect kiss. He pulls back and looks into her eyes, not pleading, not probing. Lingering.

In her peripheral vision she sees the girl of twelve in the mirror. The girl turns her head to see her father and loses her balance. She begins to fall.

“Whoa,” he says, catching her as she slides off the stool. “You okay?”

His hands are strong.

“A little dizzy,” she says. He doesn’t let go until a measured moment later.

“I’ll get your coat.”

“Wait,” she says. “Don’t go.” He sits back down. She turns to the mirror behind the bar. The little girl is gone. In her place, a middle-aged woman who looks vaguely familiar, apart from the tired lines on her face and the bags under her eyes.

“I look like a wreck,” she says.

“You look like a princess,” he says. “Is it okay if I say that?” Then he smiles, because he knows it’s one of the things about him she finds charming – the way he asks permission to pay her a compliment only after he’s already offered it.

“Yes, it’s okay,” she says. He’s a good man, she thinks. She reaches across the bar and rests her hand on his.

“I was at the circus,” she says.

“You were at the circus?”

“A moment ago when you asked, I was at the circus. I’ve never actually been. But I was twelve years old and wearing a pink ballerina costume and pink shoes and I was balancing on an elephant as it circled the arena. Everyone was cheering and there were hundreds of fireflies and…my parents were there. They were trapeze artists.” She is watching him watch her as she speaks. He is fully engaged, not queuing up a response, but listening for the things she doesn’t say.

He turns to look at her reflection in the mirror. She turns, too. He is handsome in reflection.

“Am I crazy?” she asks.

He lifts her hand and kisses it.

“Yes,” he says, and she hears “you’re beautiful.” She is about to cry when he speaks again. They are perfect words.

“Tell me more about the fireflies.”

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By day, Steve Parolini plays a “doctor” where he doles out fabulous, free editorial advice at noveldoctor; by night he occasionally spins word magic at Counting on Rain where you can find his original post.
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Featured by Story Editor Robin Dance :: @PensieveRobin

8

Haunted Places of the Mind

{By Jessie Weaver, Vanderbilt Wife}
Enjoy

(photo source)

It’s a sign of my ongoing struggle with body image that I can still see the magazine layout in my head.

A pair of teenage girls roller-bladed in bathing suits in some now-defunct young teen magazine (because I was way too young for my mother to let me read Seventeen). (I think it was, in fact, Teen magazine.)

I couldn’t have been much older than 7th grade. I stared at that page mercilessly, willing myself to be small enough to wear a two-piece bathing suit. When I did get skinny, I would buy the exact one on the right of the spread: still modest, a coral-colored two piece with a unique, off-the-shoulder top. I’m not sure what deluded me to think if I were thinner I would suddenly have the body of a 17-year-old, but I was sure I would look just like the girl in that spread.

I’ve never worn a two-piece. Not even as a child, that I can remember.

The reason I remember that issue of the magazine so vividly is because it laid out a diet. One that WORKED! Of course! I carried the issue around, dog-eared, for weeks or even months. Trying, trying. Coral in mind.

I didn’t drop weight, not even with all the tuna and frozen peas and white-meat chicken.

Somewhere around eighth grade, I hit a growth spurt and thinned out a little. Not two-piece thin. But that magazine was during the lowest point, the hidden years, the year I was bullied and it makes me want to throw up to even think about. Until I had someone call after me the slogan of a popular weight-loss commercial, every day, for an entire school year, I’m not sure I even realized I was truly overweight.

I’m fairly certain not a day’s gone by since seventh grade when I thought of my body in a positive manner.

To remember my solitary focus on one coral-clad model makes me sick. But I still want that now grossly out-of-date bathing suit.

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8

Chocolate clouds on a spoon

{By Jordana from Flour Child}

Last night, it rained.

Espresso Chocolate Mousse

It sounded like magic and love and dreaming and soup and kittens. I put on my fluffiest sweatshirt and cuddled up in bed and watched super classy shows like Jersey Shore and Teen Mom 2. Keepin’ things elegant, you know. I was joyous; absolutely blissful. Until, without any warning, some scary evil malicious malevolent forceful force came over me and I was craving chocolate frosting something fierce.

Espresso Chocolate Mousse

No amount of Gossip Girl was going to help me and I knew it, so I gave in. But chocolate frosting? Really? I couldn’t just eat chocolate frosting off of a spoon, that’s so unsophisticated. Thankfully, the Heavens have blessed us with chocolate mousse. Espresso chocolate mousse. It’s acceptable the eat that off of a spoon, let me tell you. Basically, when the Queen of England and every Manhattan socialite ever get together for dessert, they eat this. So classy I can’t even handle it!

Espresso Chocolate Mousse

It’s like eating chocolate clouds off a spoon. Heaven in a bowl. I could on and on, but I’d rather you just make it for yourself.

Espresso Chocolate Mousse

Set a medium sized bowl in the freezer- you will use this later to whip the cream.

In a medium sized bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water, melt the chocolate, butter, and espresso powder. Remove from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes, then whisk in the two egg yolks. Set in the refrigerator.

In yet another medium sized bowl, whip the two egg whites and cream of tartar on medium speed until foamy. Gradually add two tablespoons of the sugar, increase the speed of the mixer, and continue to beat until stiff peaks form, yet the whites are still glossy and not dry. Set aside.

Take the bowl out of the freezer, and in it whip the heavy cream, vanilla, and remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar until soft peaks form.

Remove the chocolate mixture from the fridge and stir in a couple of spoonfuls of the beaten egg whites to lighten it, and then gently but thoroughly fold in the rest. Fold in the whipping cream. Don’t stir, fold!

Spoon into individual serving glasses, eat right away, or cover and refrigerate. Makes 6 servings.

Espresso Chocolate Mousse

Fact: I spilled hundreds of coffee beans on my floor in the taking of this photo. It was actually hilarious.

Eat some chocolate today. It’s good for you.

Espresso Chocolate Mousse

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Jordana turns food into art with her words and pictures at Flour Child.

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Discovered by Story Editor, Robin Dance of PENSIEVE :: @PensieveRobin

 

29

The grace of interruption

{By Michelle Palmer of One Roof Africa}

“Mama will you lay with me?”

 

I sigh. Why is this glaring screen more enticing to me than her seven-year-old nighttime snuggles?

“In a minute,” I reply, thinking she might just go fall asleep before I get to her. More than “a minute” passes and then, from the bedroom, “Mama?”

I relent. Walk down the dark hall into her even darker room. Grumble as I trip over the toys left out and the Sit-n-Spin rumbles loud under my feet. Will this house ever be mess-free?!

She’s tucked in under her t-shirt quilt, a Christmas gift I had made for each of us before our move to Uganda. I cuddle her close, smell her hair, rub my fingers down her arms, think of how big she is growing and she really should have had a shower before bed and she giggles, “Mama, you’re taking up a lot of room.” In my snuggling I inadvertently took over her pillow and now she’s just lying on a corner. I scooch over a bit.

She asks for a song. “But not a catchy one–I don’t want to be singing it all night.” I begin to sing “Stay Awake”, but she stops me. “No, no, not that one! Less catchy!” Aggravated, I sing “Amazing Grace,” with all the verses. She calls Benny to her side; he lies down and lays his head across her tummy.

The song’s almost over and Noah stumbles in from his room, fortunately steering clear of the Sit-n-Spin. “Mom, will you lay with me?”

I have things to do, yes, but I consent and send him back to his bed to wait on me. I sing another chorus; Benny and Dorothy sing back to me with their snores. My little gift of grace ever-growing, and will there be a day when she doesn’t need a mama’s nuzzle hug and song to find rest?

I kiss her cheek and go down the hall to the one and only, Noah, waiting for me in his bed. He’s nine and still loves a good snuggle time, though he rarely he asks. Everything in me wants to memorize these moments. These too-precious, fleeting moments when hugs and songs are enough to bring rest. I beg/pray that the Father will remind me ever so gently, when I get too caught up in myself, to remember that these days will not always be. That there will be a day free of mess, and that day will also be free of babies and children and scraped knees and silly laughter.

Amazing grace to embrace it all. Always.

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Subscribe via RSS to Michelle’s blog, One Roof Africa.

See her original post.

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Discovered by Story Editor, Robin Dance of PENSIEVE :: @PensieveRobin

 

 

12

All I have in me.

{by Nish, The Outdoor Wife}

All I have is the unsung in me.
The unwritten, empty pages blank,
Words piled up thick behind the whites of eyes
and the skin of my teeth.
The tiny voice speaks bold and
claws out from fingernails,
Unspoken.

I have a heart of superglued glass.
I have the ink on skin
that bleeds out onto paper.

All I have is hellfire passion
burning slow and set aflame by only
one man’s touch. His.
He unearths me with gentle hands to
untamed skin and I am left
undone.

All I have left is breathing lungs,
pumping air in and out,
but I have my son, too
and he steals the breaths quick
with the small blonde wisps against his tiny ear.
I’m breathless now.

I have rusty cogs bound up in my mind.
I have the dirty earth on my hands and feet.

All I have in me, is the unspoken me.
This life. This moment.
None promised.
All given.

All I have in me is but a gift,
so what pours out must be
wrapped up in thankful.
I am thankful.

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Read Nish’s original post at The Outdoor Wife.
Find her beautiful collaborations with others at Deeper Story, a site she founded to share Tales of Christ and Culture.
Be sure to subscribe to her every word
and follow her on Twitter.

Story editor, Robin Dance :: PENSIEVE

 

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