Introspective Insights

Introspective - adj: Examining sensory and perceptual experiences. Insight - n: The capacity to discern the true nature of a situation.

Dare to Reflect – In Reflection is Life

I write out of my weakness, it defines me, the inability to reflect on life. In that weakness I write to discover the divine thread, the God-leading words, the gratitude for the mundane. When I do not write, I am restless and lost, forgetting what I’ve learned, where I’ve been and from where I have come. Despair results and addiction to food, reading, and coloring fill the void, numb the pain.

Coffee flows and steams where I write and obsessive amounts of journals live in jumbled stacks, all written in at one point or another. Coffee paraphernalia, grounds, and mugs strewn all over the kitchen. Pens, pencils, post-it notes, laptop, and lamp.

It is in the reflecting, the looking outside of myself where I find true life. My people busy me with needs, wants, schooling, and general chaos. But it is in the reflection where the purity and beauty of life is lived. The scarlet red cardinal singing on the branch in a background of grey, white, black. The orange pink skies appearing only five minutes at dawn, swept away by the blustering wind. The cherub cheeks of sleeping girl, hair matted, fuzzy sleeper draped. The strong arms of him holding me.

This life also deals its pain, but this reflection is necessary also. Sitting in the chair where my father died, seeing the world he saw in those final moments, leaves swaying and shushing, light fading. Entering in the brokenness of sister standing over infant son’s grave, days marked in black ink that blur as I hang my head. Daughter asking me to read dates on them all as I kneel in damp grass overcome. Friend lost and shattered when brother leaves this world. All life involves loss and each story, experience shines a light warming us to stand and move on, broken, but full of purpose.

I drag myself from warmth in early darkness, stumbling for coffee, shuffling to favorite chair, soft light. I read always, books stacked to my right. I crack open black journal, embossed flowers and words flow from my heart. And when they are typed in, I look back at what I have missed those months. I marvel at the words, the images. Who wrote this? Surely, not me?

Yet, it is only me as I pause in the half-light. I have found and remembered those things I wanted to forget, lost those things that I wanted to remember. They are here, if I have pause to write about them, this scrawl crooked and slashing on page, small and perfectly formed on the next.

My passion rises from this broken down, ugly, stricken world and finding joy, gratitude, divinity as close as my living room, back yard, and across the miles. They are all there if we look, but we must have eyes to see, time to pause, and practice to truly celebrate it. I am not always good at it, but when I make it a habit, I always find it.

My friend, dare to reflect. Even in the pain that we inevitably all must face. And in that pain there is always joy hiding at the next turn.

90 Days

Like many of you, I’ve had my share of jobs in different industries, with different schedules, and with a myriad of different expectations placed on me. But one thing each job had in common was the infamous “90 day probationary period”. That critical time where the company is supposedly watching you to ensure that you are worth keeping for the long haul.

Here I am now at home; formulating my own job, schedule, rules, and expectations and that 90 days is looming on the horizon. I can’t help but asking myself, what have I learned during this time and am I doing this job well?

 I have learned that:

  • A young toddler on the potty is not likely to stay on the potty, and neither is what comes out of the young toddler.
  • An older toddler that is potty training will repeatedly have accidents even when he is given the “rules” for what to do.
  • Toddlers who like to climb and open doors are likely to fall and/or escape.
  • The smiles and laughs of my children are the most beautiful sights and sounds I can and will experience in a day.
  • It’s the little moments of focused attention with each one of them that keeps them happy and content through the day.
  • Coffee with my kids is fun and insightful. (And don’t worry, not too caffeinated.)
  • If I demand respect in a loving way from my oldest, she gives it politely.
  • Trusting the kids to go outside on their own builds my trust in them and gives them independence they need to succeed in life.
  • Anything that can go wrong in the kitchen will. (But it has always been that way with me anyway.)
  • Dishes will always be dirty, laundry will always need to be folded, and there will always be crumbs and hair where there should not be. But I will not always have this moment to hug and kiss and dance with my babes.
  • Each day is a gift and no matter how simple must be treasured and purposeful.
  • I need to be thankful for each moment as they are slipping between my fingers like sand.

I’m not sure if I were to be rated by an outside, unbiased source if I would fare too well for this 90 day period – I yell too much and I get angry over silly things, but I always apologize and forgive and seek to be forgiven.

These 90 days have been a wonderful gift – something I will treasure in my heart in the days ahead as the seasons change and new adventures in mommyhood unfold.

Love for the Latte
What can I say? I’m in love with my latte. It greets me in the morning – frothy, tasty, and warm in my hand pushing out the cold, slowly waking me up. This love for the latte – I can’t imagine a day without it. However, I’m guessing like most of you, I wasn’t born a coffee drinker.
I started drinking coffee in my teens – I remember my first cup – my Dad handed it over to me and asked, “Do you want anything in it?” It seemed like a test – so I paused…cream seemed safe. Sugar…that didn’t seem quite right… I drank a few sips black…I held back my pucker face. I stirred in the cream. “Better?” he asked and I nodded. Somehow I knew I had to get through that cup. I was definitely not a “regular” yet.
Fast forward to college – I didn’t know it yet, but I was about to experience the holy grail of coffee shops – Water Street Coffee Joint. The original location – across the street from Bell’s Brewery in Kalamazoo is what all coffee shops should aspire to be. Quirky and quaint in a tiny, old converted gas station near the train tracks, the original building was so small, 2-3 people could barely stand in line to order at the same time. The sunshine logo in yellow and orange with the cobalt blue background and mug were perfect (still is). We were always crammed in and sometimes you could not find a seat – but you waited anyway. Their mocha was the stuff Folgers coffee dreams of being when it grows up and starts wearing makeup and dressing fancy. The fresh cream (lightly flavored with vanilla) alone was enough to make you want suck down that heart racing, rich chocolately dream drink. Jerry did not drink coffee UNTIL he had a Water Street Mocha. He was converted – right then and there.
True story – we went to Chicago during those years and went to Starbuck’s for the first time. We both ordered mochas – mistake number one. What we didn’t know then that we know now is that a Starbuck’s mocha in my opinion is their worst latte drink. We didn’t finish our drinks – it tasted like –*gasp* the fast food of coffee!
Fast forward to now – I’ve been converted to Starbucks. Maybe I have gone backwards on the coffee snob continuum by admitting this fact, but it is all about the love of the latte. Give me sugar free vanilla and breve with that kickin espresso and that first sip is divine – every time. We have duplicated it on our home machine and I have my cobalt blue mug and saucer where I sit and pine away…remembering the days at Water Street. If we lived closer, I would be there…
Enjoy your coffee today, friends.