outside + wild

Happy late spring.

songs + plans

The last snow (I hope) fell this week. Crossing my fingers for the temperature to rise above 50 one of these days. I think I remember what warm is like. A ruffled magnolia? A shiny wave?

birthday + water

Today is my birthday, and I'm doing something I don't think I can do.

I'm not good at asking people for things. My sister reminds me that when we were younger, I would make her ask the restaurant servers for another straw or more ketchup because I didn't want to bother them with my requests. Yes, even though it was their job to answer such requests.

I'm a little older and a little better at asking for things now. And today being my birthday and all, I've been thinking about the story of my life and what else I can do to make it better. 

I could exercise often, eat more vegetables, speak more kindly, forgive less reluctantly. I should, and I'll try. But what I really need to do is to find out what I think I can't do.

For instance, I don't think I can ask people for donations to give clean water to 26 people who live without it. Asking people for directions, sure. Asking people for money? No way.

And yet -- this is something I know is worth doing. It's something I've realized I can't fail, even if I don't hit the goal. Most things worth doing are like that.

I believe that in doing things we don't think we can do but are worth doing, we find a braver self we would never know otherwise, one who has a story to tell, maybe even a good ending. One who wants to live as though regrets and excuses and being precious about self-image are not really her thing.

Let's be a little courageous and see where that takes us. Here's to you, and here's to us, and here's to doing the things we can't do.

snatches + snippets

Sometimes you feel like each day is a cold, dull cloud. Sometimes a week is just the only way to reach the weekend. But then you look back over your shoulder and see that you've been trailed home by small, shiny snatches of unmerited goodness. You are rich as a blade of sunlight.

+ long-awaited girls' retreat at an eco-farmhouse in the woods on the snowy Lake Michigan shore
+ the privilege of collaborating with the superhuman Luisa on the forthcoming Alphabet Journal
+ a surprise signed copy of After Visiting Friends in the mail from my new writer crush
+ discovering the fascination addiction known as ancestry.com (I have old Irish kin?!)
+ this cake, which my web translator declares a "no-nonsense but poetic feel" kind of cake

mist + morning

The fog was thick over the pond last Saturday. I wonder when mornings will stop occupying all my writing.

ships + wings

From far away, we thought it was a magnificent ship just setting out from shore into the blue of Lake Michigan. We were walking out to the water before lunch. But – were those wings, or sails? Was it docked? Ashore? Or taking off? As we walked closer, our brains and eyes kept adjusting, recalculating, and the ship-bird shifted in and out focus.

We learned a few things: 1. Hyperreality (“Oh, the Mona Lisa? Yeah, I’ve seen it. On the internet.”) takes the fun out of truly seeing something for the first time and should be avoided when possible. 2. Santiago Calatrava designed the recent Milwaukee Art Museum addition with moving wings that open and close. 3. Wings are not so different from sails.

lakes + sakes

Spent an afternoon at Lake Lemon. Decided we someday will have a shiny camping trailer and a boat and a piece of lakefront where we can watch the trees glow.

Being twenty-something is full of schemes. We’re co-conspirators in an ongoing adventure. Nothing in the plan is for sure – not the country we’ll live in, not the jobs we will have – except for that fact. The plan is part of the adventure, the way decoding the clues can be as thrilling as digging up the treasure. Because the act of picking seeds from a catalog can sometimes yield a more lavish imagined garden than the one we could actually grow, and that’s fun.

Every once in a while, after some subdued sessions of planning the daily things that drive life forward, we remind ourselves to throw something strategically crazy in the mix, for the sake of posterity and storytelling. For the sake of our sakes.