Denise

January 23, 2013

Happy Wednesday, Readers! Since I don’t have any beautiful words to offer you today, I thought I’d share some beautiful words from my friend Denise. She writes so gracefully, so thoughtfully, that whenever I hop on over to her blog, Universal Grit, I feel sort of like a hack writer. She hangs out in the clouds; I hang out in the gutter. What can I say?
Luckily, the blogosphere has a way of connecting people, so whenever I need a little inspiration, I’ll pay her a visit. She’s pretty good at inspiring a girl.
And because I love you, readers, I’ve decided to share her with you. It’s your lucky Wednesday! I know you’ll give her a warm welcome!
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I reached up to the soap dispenser on my bathroom sink and pumped it. It was empty. Again. Well, empty still would be more accurate. It’s been empty for weeks and weeks and weeks. I’m not sure how many. I reached instead for the white, unscented Dove bar soap that I keep on my bathroom vanity for washing my face. It’ll work just as well on my hands as it does on my face, I thought.

I walked to my bedroom and checked on Hubby. Did he need anything? Percocet? Water? Ice packs? As we chatted, I straightened the medical papers and physical therapy orders and then gathered the empty seltzer cans and discarded newspapers. Made mental note to dust. I went into my temporary bedroom and made the guest bed, grabbing old magazines to add to my pile.

I then plodded down the hardwood stairs. My wool clogs thudded on each stair, creating a unique rhythm. When I reached the base of the stairs, my mud room greeted me with furniture piled on top of furniture. Rolled rugs and chairs comingled with assorted miscellaneous stuff. The kind of stuff that ends up in the junk drawer; my mom always called it Flotsam and Jetsam. Broken plastic toy parts, a spring from a dismantled pen, a folded Uno card. A school paper with holding no sentimental value yet, there it was, taunting me on the top of the shit pile. What is all this shit? Why do we have it? I want to get rid of it. I eked around the heaped stuff and threw the papers and cans into the recycling bins. I headed to the kitchen; our hardwood floors, recently refinished, shone and reflected the piles of moreshit on the counters. The things that usually live on the pantry floor now lived on my counters. I cannot wait to put everything back in its place.

Everything back in its place. And a place for everything. I adore gleaming counters and tidy spaces. Conversely, messy places, both mental and physical unravel me. When it’s messy, I’m twitching.

Life doesn’t necessarily check-in before it serves up more. No magic neat slots (complete with a laminated label) were appearing for my Life. Really, what would the label read for my current set of circumstances? Bronchitis. Pneumonia. Hardwood floors. Carpenter ants. Displaced furniture. Spring breaks. No writing. Sick kids. Hubby’s shoulder surgery (unable to use his right arm, in a sling, in bed).

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I generally view my life through a lens of gratitude. I am grateful for the small, velvety fledgling green buds adorning a tree. I give thanks for my driveway covered in children’s chalk drawings. I appreciate the view from my dish-washing perch and the warmth of a sun-soaked andirondak chair. Yet the last weeks, as the days layered one upon another, my ability to give genuine thanks was muted. I kept doing it, though. I gave thanks for the hardwood floors and our ability to spruce them up, for the money to pay for the carpenter ant mitigation, for the success of Hubby’s surgery and for my ability and desire to care for him. Usually when I give thanks, I feel buoyant, carbonated bubbles of grateful recognition in my soul and belly. Lately, instead, I felt flat.

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Often, when I’m driving, or walking, or washing dishes–doing anything, really, a word or phrase will turn over and over in my head. The last weeks, I’ve been mentally working the word Fault Lines. Specifically, I’ve been considering why exactly fault lines are called fault lines. There’s so much power (negative power in my opinion) locked up in the word fault. Can one really blame the earth for buckling and releasing pent-up pressure when pushed too far, beyond her limits?

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One afternoon last week, I holed up in the library for about two hours to gather my thoughts and put some words to paper. I’d reached my fill of living and needed time and space for thought. I felt waves of raw emotion coursing just beneath the surface, my resolve and steady fortitude of the last weeks beginning to give. To crack. So I sat in my thoughts and emotions and pounded out each one onto my trusty lap top. When done, I walked outside thinking I was fairly sure that I’d never write another valuable word again. I paused and extended myself some kindness; any muscle will atrophy when left sedentary. (My writing muscles and my stomach muscles suddenly had a lot in common.) In my periphery, the sky caught my attention. I looked up:

Charcoals and fractures of blues and cracked, intricate clouds met my eyes. I felt the missed, yet familiar, low rolling purr of gratitude. Look, I thought, even the clouds have fault linesSee, they’re just like me. Cracked, imperfect, beautiful, faulted. Fault lines. Once again, I mentally turned the words over in my mind. Those faults? Maybe they’re merely openings, parting to let in the light. To let in the life. Every last bit of it.

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{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

denise January 23, 2013 at 7:29 am

So so happy to be here today. Thank you, again, for having me. xo

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Lindsey January 23, 2013 at 7:33 am

Oh, wow. Sighing. Just so beautiful! xoxo

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Justine January 23, 2013 at 8:32 am

Two of my favorites in the same space? What a treat!

And Denise, I love your musings on the word “fault” here. There’s a tendency to look for or place blame when things go awry, and more often than not, imperfections are just part of the process of learning, growing, and making room for a different landscape that would eventually shape our lives.

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denise January 23, 2013 at 9:52 am

Justine, you’re so right. I think about this a lot, and as I’m reading Katrina Kennison’s glorious Magical Journey, I’m becoming more and more grounded in acceptance of each faucet of life.

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Jane January 23, 2013 at 9:38 am

I love being challenged to look at things in a different way. Thanks, Kitch, for sharing Denise with us.

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Jennifer January 23, 2013 at 11:08 am

She writes about mess so much more eloquently than I do.

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Arnebya January 23, 2013 at 11:31 am

It took me a long time, Denise, to realize that it was clutter that was cluttering my mind, dragging me down. Remove the clutter and I feel different, easy-going, better able to maneuver myself around those fault lines that I think exist for all of us. But, to view them as openings is probably the best way to go about it, to take the negative connotation away from the word fault. Just…openings.

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denise January 23, 2013 at 12:28 pm

Exactly. My mental state is NOT pretty when I’m surrounded by physical and mental clutter. I think it renders me useless.

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Katybeth January 23, 2013 at 2:49 pm

So lovely. Maybe it’s the universal god peeking through those clouds…to remind you (so you could remind us) that even with all faults we’re loved and all will be well.

Thank you.

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Pamela January 23, 2013 at 3:58 pm

I paused and extended myself some kindness. Love it! I remember this one and I am so glad for the chance to see it again.

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Alexandra January 23, 2013 at 5:56 pm

I just discovered Universal Grit, from a blog, rabbit hole after rabbit hole, that led me to her.

I adore the way she leaves me feeling.

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denise January 24, 2013 at 7:44 am

And I adore this comment. Thank you!

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Maggie S. January 23, 2013 at 7:16 pm

So smart. So elegant.

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denise January 24, 2013 at 7:45 am

Thank you!!

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Jamie January 23, 2013 at 11:09 pm

WOW. “Real” writers like this always make me feel like I’m such a twerp! You rock, Denise!

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denise January 24, 2013 at 7:47 am

We’re all writers–all on our own journey through words. Thank you for your lovely comment!

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Katrina Kenison January 24, 2013 at 6:27 am

“Life doesn’t necessarily check in before it serves up more.” So true. Love that you acknowledge that even gratitude must be practiced, worked at in fact, but that the effort is worth it, because with practice it gets easier to see the beauty — we don’t have to try quite so hard. You are helping me see the neglected houseplants and the dirty kitchen floor in my own house this morning through softer eyes. Thank you!! xoxo

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denise January 24, 2013 at 7:48 am

Oh Katrina. What an honor to have you read my words. xoxoxo

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Kristen @ Motherese January 24, 2013 at 1:50 pm

I dive into your words today, Denise. As is so often the case, it feels like you’re writing about feelings I didn’t even know I had. Thank you for your post – and thank you, Dana, for hosting it. Giant hugs to you both. xo

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denise January 24, 2013 at 3:38 pm

I adore you, Kristen. A giant hug right back to you. xoxoxo

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Rudri Bhatt Patel @ Being Rudri January 24, 2013 at 5:07 pm

Oh, Denise. This piece was so beautiful. I loved every morsel of it.
You have a way of excavating and unearthing feelings in your readers. That is a gift.

Thank you Dana and Denise, two of my faves in one place.

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denise January 25, 2013 at 10:15 am

Hi Rudri! Thank you so much for your kind words. xo

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Caitlin January 24, 2013 at 8:18 pm

aw, really sweet. i love that post. :)

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Lisa Eisan January 25, 2013 at 9:43 am

Breathtakingly beautiful, more ‘fault lines’, wrinkles on the face of grandmother, years of care and love for others, worry and thoughtfulness put them there, living a life etches them, but they are perfection.

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denise January 25, 2013 at 10:17 am

Thank you! You give perfect examples of fault lines. Really just a perspective shift, a softer set of accepting eyes.

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BigLittleWolf January 26, 2013 at 12:55 pm

We all crack when the weight is too heavy. But cracking doesn’t mean breaking. This is just lovely. Fault lines as openings. Yes.

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Barbara January 27, 2013 at 6:21 am

Beautifully written!

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ayala January 27, 2013 at 8:12 am

Sigh….beautiful! Thank you Denise and Dana for hosting. :)

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