The Barefoot Heart

adventures & derring-do in the third half of life

What Love Looks Like With 42 Years on the Odometer

ARCJHCLondon2014

Then
being heard meant being able to repeat back to me what I just said.
Now
being heard means that without prompting, you remember that I need to take photos of my Hymns of Cloth and you talk to the neighbor about using his barn, rig up a system, gather the tools, and make it happen.

Cruise2014a

Then
being seen meant you noticed the scar on my nose (a visible reminder of when I ran into the bridge) and thought it adorable.
Now
being seen means you secretly find the address for the fabric store in London and walk me there, bringing along a book so I can take all the time I like to delight in (and decide on) the gorgeous fabrics.

ARCJHCCruise2014b

Then
being held meant holding hands or resting your arm around the back of my chair or letting me snuggle up close when we watched scary or sad movies.
Now
being held means that when we get separated at parties, you keep an eye on me from afar, knowing how much this introvert you married longs to be in the corner watching the stories unfold.

ARCJHCCruise2014

Then
I felt butterflies when you walked into the room.
Now
I feel butterflies when we’re apart . . . when you’re working on the roof . . . when you don’t answer your phone.

LeavingIceland

Then
“till death do us part” meant nothing, not even a page on a calendar we would buy One Day.
Now
we know that “till death do us part” might mean tomorrow morning, this afternoon, or tonight
which
is precisely why we keep filling our togetherness with adventures, discoveries, and always, always, always . . . laughter.

Like Mama Helen said this past weekend: I sure knew which ones to kick to the curb and which one to keep. Forty-two years later, and you’re still The One, My Engineer. Oh my goodness gracious yes – you are most definitely still The One.

~~~~~~~

Starting tomorrow, I’m gonna’ pen 100 stories in 100 days (#100Days100Stories). Why? Because I’ve been longing for a challenge, that’s why. Join in or read along, I’ll be tickled to have your company either way.

Me, I’m Partial to Lower Case Letters. Very Much So.

BarnacledBike

Some people declare themselves Artists on their business cards, web sites, blogs. You meet Them and They talk exclusively about Themselves, Their work, Their exhibits, Their plans, Their sales, Their galleries, Their families, Their creative process, Their lives without so much as a how-do-you-do to you. If They mention you at all, it’s to sell you something or ask you to do something They need done. They suck all the air out of the room and all the energy out of you. You stand there watching Their lips move, hoping they’ll soon take a break so you can escape.

Other folks create beauty all day every day. They create beauty when they paint, when they cook, when they garden, when they dress, when they make pottery, when they stitch. Their spaces are welcoming because they have comfort and goodness in mind when they decorate. Their tables are filled with delicious, nourishing food they’ve seasoned with love. Their conversations are an extravaganza of give-and-take. They are interested in you, asking you questions without holding an interrogation and delighted that you’re interested in them, easily finding a box full of common threads and ways to support and encourage you. They are artists because everything they do – be it creating something new or performing everyday ordinary tasks – is done with caring, attention to detail, beauty.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t need any more Upper Case Letters polluting my life, thank you very much. The lower casers, though? There’s always room for them at my table.

~~~~~~~

For a while now I’ve had a hankering to do something challenging that requires commitment, can be quantified, and has the potential to change my life. With that in mind, I’m gonna’ be launching 100 Days, 100 Stories (#100days,100stories). That’s right, I’ll pen a story every day for 100 days beginning this-coming Saturday, 8/1/15. Some will be made-up, some will be true. All will be short . . . well, most all will be, anyway. Join me as and if you will by leaving a story in the comments here or tag me in a facebook post or send a link to a story you post on your blog. Use the hashtag #100days100stories and know that there won’t be any prompts or that kind of thing ’cause you don’t need it. There are stories everywhere. You and me, we just need to start looking and listening for ’em.

Happy Daddy’s Day . . . To Those Who’ve Earned It


He called me “Doll”, and even the most ardent feminist in me felt not trivialized and objectified but loved and supported. He said things like “If bullfrogs had wings, they wouldn’t bump their fannies” and “I don’t give a rat’s ass what so-and-so said or did, you are not them, you are Jeanne.” He didn’t coddle or smother or take over, but he was always ready and available to help if asked. He  repeated the good things he learned about parenting from his dad and replaced the not-so-good things with something better. He taught my daughter and me what to look for in a good man, and he taught my son how to be a good man. He died way too young, and I miss him every single day.



He calls them Al and Kipp and tells them things like “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing wrong” and “Where you are today is a result of the choices you’ve made.” He doesn’t coddle or smother or take over, but he is always ready and willing to help if asked. He taught my daughter what a good man is, and he taught my son how to be one.

One is my daddy, one is the father of my children. I can’t imagine anybody else I’d rather have be my dad or dad to my children. Both are dads I celebrate and cherish, remember and honor not just today, but pretty much every day.

To all the good dads – the loving, supportive, nurturing dads – Happy Father’s Day and thank you for making the world a better place by raising Good kids. To all the sorry men who had the same chance as other men to be a good dad but didn’t bother, shame on you. 

 

It’s All About Choices, Y’all

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It’s all about choices, y’all. Choices and consequences. A pretty simple concept with pretty darn important repercussions. Too often we let somebody else make our choices for us and we are surprised or unhappy or cranky with the results. Or we go through every single day with a nasty, negative attitude and we wonder why we are so miserable. If these remarks resemble you, thunk yourself up side the head for me, will you? We learn a lot about ourselves from the choices we make and the consequences that ensue, and we learn a lot from life in general when we stew, thrive, or wrestle in life lived in the aforementioned consequences. Making our own choices, accepting responsibility and/or asking for help living the consequences, and making different choices when possible and necessary are the keys to living a self-determined life, and if you ask me, there’s no finer way to live.

Too often we take away the choices of others in the name of expediency or ease. Take dying people, for example. As life wanes, all too often opportunities to choose do, too. I’m not talking about drastic measures – that should already be spelled out in the living wills and such. I’m talking about things like what to eat and what to wear and what would you like to listen to now.

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We spent today with Nancy, and we fiddled with cloth because I wanted to give her the option to do something besides draw. If you could see the video (I am, for the first time ever, traveling without my computer, and let me tell you: there’s a rather steep learning curve when blogging from the iPad, so alas, no video.) hear me in the background of the video asking Nancy what color cloth she wants to add next. (Though I don’t have to admit it here since you can’t see the video, I will nevertheless tell you that I am surprised and embarrassed and disappointed at the way I kinda’ rushed and overwhelmed by offering 3 color choices instead of waiting for her to process and decide, but that’s the value of video, and now that I’m aware, it won’t happen again.) She chose to fiddle with cloth; she chose which colors she wanted to add; and eventually she chose to pick up her crayons. 

nancydraws1.jpg

It was, as all days spent with Nancy are, fun, worthwhile, and thought-provoking. What say we make our own choices instead of abdicating our power, and what say we strive to gift others with the opportunity to make their own choices every chance we get. It’s a quality of life thing.

Inner Authority

IOOL4 10

In Our Own Language 4:10

His grandfather took him into the woods and left him in the quiet all day long. At the end of the day, his grandfather would fetch him and ask: What did you see? What did you feel? What did you learn?

You can learn a lot from reading and listening and watching, but you develop your Inner Authority from doing.

Though she has many external authorities in her life, Nancy also has an Inner Authority. I can see it when she makes her marks – the way she starts without hesitation, the way she stops when she knows she’s finished, the way she selects her colors and turns the page and sometimes rips the page into pieces, keeping the bits she likes while discarding the rest.

~~~~~~~

She (Nancy, my developmentally disabled sister-in-love) draws.
I (Jeanne, the woman who flat-out loves her) stitch.

I Mean It

IOOL4 9

In Our Own Language 4:9

We All know a lot more than we think we do
and Wisdom is buried inside Each One of Us.
All we need is a way to make Art,
a Good Listener
or a Good Looker
Someone to Witness us
to help the Knowledge and the Wisdom
to emerge and flow.

PS: And hey,
if anybody ever tells you junk that sounds like
you shouldn’t care what others think,
or how you shouldn’t care if anybody
ever even sees your creations
know 2 things:
their inner moron is showing
and
they’ve had good witnesses somewhere along the way.
Witnesses they’ve forgotten about
and never appreciated enough.

~~~~~~~

She (Nancy, my developmentally disabled sister-in-love) draws.
I (Jeanne, the woman who flat-out loves her) stitch.

Measurement or Meaning?

IOOL4 8

In Our Own Language 4:8
She (Nancy, my developmentally disabled sister-in-love) draws.
I (Jeanne, the woman who flat-out loves her) stitch.

We have neglected the gift of comprehending things through our senses.
Our eyes have been reduced to instruments
with which to identify and to measure,
hence we suffer a paucity of ideas that can be expressed in images
and an incapacity to discover meaning in what we see.
~ Rudolf Arnheim

Juicing the Third Half of Life

IOOL4 7

In Our Own Language 4:7
She (Nancy, my developmentally disabled sister-in-love) draws.
I (Jeanne, the woman who flat-out loves her) stitch.

ChambersMyers

While in Michigan for my brother’s stepson’s wedding this weekend, we reconnected with friends we haven’t seen in I don’t know how long. We knew them in undergraduate days when we were all young and free and confident. We knew them in that time when our parents were busy creating their own life without children to wait up for or pick up after and when children weren’t even an idea. We could carry little ole’ tiny pocketbooks in those days ’cause we were only responsible for ourselves. We were juicers, extracting every bit of fun and goodness and laughter out of life.

It was so much fun remembering and reminiscing with Bruce and Linda, trekking back down memory laugh. Oh my goodness, the things we did Back Then. And I want you to know that we told the true stories this weekend, with my mother and my son and my daughter-in-love sitting right there listening. I figure they’re old enough to hear those sorts of things now.

I’ve decided I want to keep the body of information and wisdom I’ve acquired and recapture the absolute joy of living as though One Day is Right now. I think it’s possible.

I may have to increase my insurance, though.

Not the Kind of Cracks That Break Your Mother’s Back

SpiralOnBoardwalk

Sometimes things fall between the cracks and disappear forever.
Sometimes things fall between the cracks and leave a pattern.
Sometimes things repeatedly falling between the cracks
is a pattern that needs looking into,
needs changing.

IOOL4 6

In Our Own Language 4:6

Nancy is one of those who easily falls between the cracks.
She’s in a good home now, though
and a good day program, too.
She’s surrounded by women – Mona, Ruby, Kathy –
who see her, protect her,
make sure she doesn’t fall between any cracks.
We all need a team like that to watch out for us.
We all need to be on a team like that, watching out for others.

You Call It Woo, I Call it Way

IOOL4 5

In Our Own Language 4:5

She (Nancy, my developmentally disabled sister-in-love draws.
I (Jeanne, the woman who flat-out loves her) stitch.

Several weeks ago my waking thought was “I’m ready to write.” Within a few days (less than a week), I had 3 requests to write guest blog posts, and I saw an ad in the local paper for a writer’s retreat right down the road from us. Mari Ann, founder of the retreat who’s also a crackerjack editor and writer, and Susan, who wrote a deeply moving book about her brother who was killed in Vietnam and has just turned the manuscript for her second book into the publisher, invited me to attend one of their read-and-give-feedback lunches. (Which I did, and it was fabulous!)

Chocolategrapes

Today on the way to our table at the Boone Tavern Inn in Berea, KY, I bopped into the gift shop to ask if they had any chocolate-covered grapes in. No, the manager said, but she had 4 boxes due in tomorrow. I promised to check back with her after lunch in case some arrived early. They hadn’t, but I paid for 3 of the boxes and we made arrangements for her to hold them for me till we come back through on Sunday. We then went to walk and shop, and after we visited the restrooms, got some water, and filled the car up with fuel, and as we prepared to leave town, I pulled out her card to call, just in case they’d come in while we were out and about. With the phone in my left hand and her card in my right, I raised a finger to mash the first number when my phone rang. It was Kylie, the store manager calling to tell me that the grapes had just come in.

Things like this keep happening to me, do they happen to you, too? Decide what you want and let The Sweet Spirit of Surprise know, then watch for her to put down stepping stones in front of you leading you there. My Shero,  Tracey Selingo who is fluent in this kind of living, calls it Woo, I’m beginning to call it simply Way. It’s pure magic, but it doesn’t just happen without some involvement from you. There’s a turning over, a surrender, a letting go, a trust and faith that must happen. You don’t just tell and wait. Oh no. You have to stay awake and recognize opportunities when they appear because the Sweet Spirit of Surprise can be a rascal. And know this: if you go to sleep or if you don’t avail yourself of the wonderfulness She puts in front of you, She’ll stop wasting her time and energy on you. That’s just the way She is. If you want it, go after it. Talk all you will about what you want, but don’t you ever forget that actions speak louder than words. Especially to the Sweet Spirit of Surprise.

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