Beginner's Heart

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I believe in signs. I believe that the universe — some might say god, I probably wouldn’t 🙂 — talks to you.

Where I last worked FT, the joke on the 4th floor (where I officed) was Britton believes the universe talks to you. And I do. But you have to pay attention, and listen.

So when I’m pretty stressed, and my online horoscope — which I don’t check all the time, not even every week — says:

There are some deep, messy, beautiful mysteries you need to talk about. At least for now, the only listener capable of drawing them out of you in the proper spirit might be a compassionate inanimate object that won’t judge you or interrupt you. (Freewill Astrology)

breathe journal

journal by the author

I pay attention. 🙂 And I try to figure out what my inanimate confidante might be.

Yesterday it was a mug of tea. Today? It might be a sketch book, or the Miles Davis I put on Spotify. But more likely? It’s a screen, a blank page, a sketch book. It’s something I can write or draw or even paste. It’s a creative moment alone, time to figure out what I think through writing about it. Time to be.

I keep telling folks I’m an introvert who likes people, but they don’t seem to believe me. So here it is again, for others who may not have self-diagnosed ( 🙂 ): I need PILES of down time. Time to putter w/ my chores — I don’t do well when I’m hurried. Time to watch the birds fluttering around the various feeders. Time just to breathe, as the journal I made reminds me.

I am happiest when there is nothing on my calendar. Really. I’m okay teaching — that feeds me. And the occasional meeting to help a project I believe in? I can do that, too. But days of things expected of me, and I shrivel. Hence the need of an inanimate confidante, I guess.

So I’m going to cruise the house and yard, allowing a laxer meaning of ‘inanimate’ to include the trees I love, the roses and the various plants in the walled garden. And maybe a journal, too.

Every beginner’s heart needs a confidante. Inanimate has real advantages, especially if it feeds your creativity. I recommend it — it always heals what ails me.


2014-01-07 12.42.25 It’s chilly outside — down 49 degrees tonight! And life is chaotic, as we adapt to a downstairs bed for my beloved, a dining table ‘office,’ and all the other accoutrements of a busted ankle.

So here’s what you do when life sends you mail you’d like to return to sender: make a cup of tea. Something strong, something fragrant. Add milk & Demerara sugar.

Then? Take a break from that mail. Listen to the rain falling outsideclouds-in-blue-sky-2 the window. Watch the sparrows lining up on tree branches, the deck railing, the iron hook holding hungrily sought-after seed.

And remember: big sky mind. It all passes. Even if sometimes it takes a nice hot cup of tea to remind me.

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Can you say trimalleolar ankle fracture, three times, FAST? As I said the other day, it means all three bones in your ankle fractured. Broke, busted. And a big OUCH. My poor husband.

Today his right ankle looks like the before picture — almost exactly. Three breaks (you can’t see the ‘posterior malleolus’ — the back little break). Having just come from 4 hours at the doc’s, I can say that w/ certainty. But tomorrow, hopefully, it will look like after: a metal plate, multiple screws, and a larger screw holding everything back in place. And even though it won’t work (yet), it will be heading that direction, ultimately.

In the meantime — and for weeks to come — he’s not able to put ANY weight on his right foot. Not even touch it to the floor, Michael the nice PA told us.

So here’s a picture: two-story house. Master bedroom (& both full baths) upstairs. Only a tiiiiny half-bath downstairs (they used to be called ‘powder rooms,’ but who powders anymore??). Luckily, tile in the downstairs 1/2 bath. Because he may become quite familiar w/ the downstairs facilities. But he does get a knee scooter (he’s not nearly as excited about this as I am.)

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It also means I will get a workout. And that’s when I’m especially glad for my friends & family. Already, the sister network has warned me I BETTER reach out if I need ANYTHING. While friends have offered everything from chauffeur duties to grocery shopping. Even if I end up not needing anything, the sheer outpouring of concern and affection is heart-warming.

And I will need things — primarily that concern & affection, the connections that have enfolded me in support. I wasn’t here when my beloved fell, and I felt terrible. Scared it was worse than he was telling me, and certain that if I hadn’t taken off for the sisters weekend, it wouldn’t have happened. My web assures me NO, assertively and loudly. I need(ed) to hear that…

I also feel bad that I get tired going up & down stairs. I feel guilty that I’m not always glad to help. Even though I adore my beloved, ours is a house bought w/ two folks in mind. Between dogs & cat & birds & laundry & cooking & now all of it by myself, not to mention sick room duties? I am so very grateful for the dear friends who have listened as I process. It seems so…unfeeling to complain about such piddly details when my beloved is out of commission, and in great pain.


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And that’s the deal: if you reach out, the web will support you. It will hold you and comfort you. It will reassure you that you’re human, thus both fallible and heroic. 🙂

I’m always willing to support, but leaning into the web for me is… Well, let’s just say I’m not as experienced w/ that perspective! So for all of you equally uncertain about asking for help? Just do it. You’ll be surprised and grateful. I promise. Each of us is the nexus of a huge web of love, support, & connection. All you have to do is reach out.

sister hands mani pediTime. Time to talk, time to laugh, time to share food. Time to poke fun at those you love, time to remember. Time and sisters.

This past week I spent days in Dallas (actually McKinney) w/ one of my three sisters and her beloved. A few days after I arrived, our other two sisters decided to drive down to join us. And suddenly it was The Sister Weekend!

Food, and shopping, and (of course!) a spa visit. That’s the four of us and our dear sister-of-the-heart Liz, showing off our cool nail jobs. We primped and pampered, and it was the best kind of spoiling. We have GORGEOUS hands.

But this is also a tale of feet, one in particular. My poor husband’s sadly battered right foot — well, his ankle. A “trimalleolar” fracture: he broke all three bones in his ankle. OUCH!

So, I had a wonderful weekend until I heard about his ankle. Noooo weight on one of your legs? Wow — how hard is that? AND steel pins. When my cousin shattered her ankle, she had to have months of traction!glen's broken ankle Plus, this is the kind of guy who drove himself both to AND from the hospital. He doesn’t take kindly to being stove up.

Tomorrow we’ll find out more what our immediate future entails. Almost certainly a hospital and pins. It’s a reminder: life is change, and it’s not always the changes you ordered. Kind of like a restaurant sending you out curried liver instead of trout. Although a lot more…long-term in impact.

Healing also requires time, but it’s far too often time that feels ‘wasted’ and not time that you remember fondly. I’m going to see if we can shift that paradigm, since we’re going to have to make changes in our living, I’m sure. Why can’t this healing time be — as it was this weekend — a time to make memories? Why can’t this be a time of reflection, and even quiet joy? Still, it reminds me of an old curse: may you live in interesting times. This could be interesting! And it will certainly be memorable.