Sunday, July 31, 2011

Returning to a Garden

Arriving home, we immediately check on the blackberries.  Deep black berries burst on the vine; we gobble them up and leave the red ones to ripen.  We're home! 

Blackberries Ripening

Our minivan's contents now spill across the living room, and everyone feels out-of-sorts (especially the mother).  I leave everything and run barefoot to the vegetable garden. 

Neck Deep in Tomatoes
With the exhaustion and disorder of arriving home after a summer of travel, I find myself returning to the garden.  It's overgrown with weeds, and nothing stayed quite in place.  But I'm out here, neck deep in green tomatoes. 

Something about growing things, something about the smell of the earth, the berries, and the vegetables reassures me.  We'll settle in, find order and rhythm, and harvest the fruit of a long, hot summer. 

Journal:  What's so good about coming home? 

Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Way You Should Go

On our journey home from Colorado, an older and wiser couple drive one hour ahead of us.  They warn us of traffic or storms.  They select the best hotel option.  They research and find great local restaurants. 

As we arrive behind them, we receive the reconnaissance report.  How easy to travel this way!  They even make dinner reservations for us so we just walk right to our table. 

It feels like we are not alone.  As I thank God for them, I realize they visually represent God's presence and provision all along. 

I recall the verse in Deuteronomy where the author reports that God "went ahead of you on your journey, in fire by night and in a cloud by day, to search out places for you to camp and to show you the way you should go."

I love that God shows us the way we should go.  

Journal: Has it been obvious that God has gone ahead of you to show you the way you should go? 

Friday, July 29, 2011

7 Lessons from the Elevator

I'm teaching my daughters elevator etiquette.

1.  When the doors open, stand aside to let others exit before you enter.   
2.  Allow those with heavy loads to enter first.   Assist them if they need help. 
3.  Once inside, offer to hold the door so others can enter, and then politely ask which floor they want.
4.  If a child is on the elevator, ask if he or she would like to push the button for the floor.  They will want to.  
5.  Give people space.
6.  Don't make unnecessary noise or movement when inside out of respect to others.
7.  If a group travels together, offer to wait for the next elevator so that group can have room in the elevator.

Basically, defer to others.  Defer means to submit humbly to another person's desires or needs.   I want our family to say, "I defer to you," in as many situations as possible.

Living with flair means I remember my elevator etiquette.

Journal:  Good manners have a lot to do with deferring to others.  Which elevator rule did I forget?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

If You Give a Child an Atlas

As we approach Burlington, Colorado, my daughter notices the Kit Carson County Carousel on the atlas.  We spontaneously decide to follow the signs off the interstate to find this carousel. 

What's happened to the scheduled, inflexible, impatient traveler I normally am? 

For a quarter, you can ride on the back of a seahorse, a camel, a zebra, or even a deer with enormous antlers.  There we ride, in the middle of nowhere, going 12 miles per hour on a gorgeous carousel built in 1905. 

Later, my daughter spreads the atlas across her lap.  I see the spirit of adventure rising up in our old minivan.  You can go anywhere and do anything!  Why not follow the trail of Louis and Clark?   Why not? 

A few hours later, we stop in Kansas and find friends (the Newmans!) who recommend a local restaurant for dinner.  Why not?  We stay a night in this city and enjoy the unknown and the spontaneous. 

My friend reminds me, "Spontaneous things are better."  I'm finally learning to relax, be flexible, and have adventures.  What will we find on the atlas today?  Suddenly, a day in the minivan doesn't seem so difficult. 

Journal:  What spontaneous thing did I do recently?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

What You Will Think About Today

The "father of air conditioning," Willis Haviland Carrier, claims he had a flash of genius while waiting for a train.  He began thinking about temperature and humidity, and within moments he had a scientific method to chill the air.

Back then, you couldn't distract yourself from thinking so easily.  

I remember Carrier all day as I walk around in the kind of blazing heat that makes it hard to breathe.  I thank God for what I take for granted:  air conditioning, ice, refrigeration, cold water from a fountain. Some one began thinking and something wonderful happened:


I tell my students that invention is the hardest stage of writing.  They simply can't come up with an idea.  They can't begin creative acts--making something from nothing--because they don't know how to begin thinking.

Well.  Let's just sit for a bit, as if we were waiting for a train on a foggy night with absolutely nothing to distract us.  Let's just sit here and think. 

It all began while a man waited for a train, thinking.

Journal:  Do I schedule thinking time into my day?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A Challenge

I'm listening to the Director of Operations for the International Justice Mission in Southeast Asia.  He makes three statements that can reshape my purpose in my community.

1.  Believe that the strong have a duty to the weak.
2.  Identify the one in need of rescue.
3.  Respond with courage and compassion to confront oppressors (spiritual and physical) and set people free.

I'm not in Southeast Asia, but I am in a neighborhood.  Do I believe I have a duty to help others?  Can I ask, "Where are the weak among us--those suffering, those oppressed by various sources--who God might send me to help?"  And will I have the Spirit-filled courage and compassion to move into lives that need freedom?

Living with flair means going on rescue missions.  Today, the verbs confront and rescue enter my list of actions I want to animate my life.  Lord, give me courage.

Journal:  Who needs to be rescued in your community? 

Monday, July 25, 2011

What's in Your Fun Box?

I'm watching a mother bring out her "fun box" for her children during a long meeting. 

The "fun box" contains modeling clay, puzzles, interesting snacks, drawing supplies, costumes, or any variety of objects to delight children when they have to be where they don't want to be (hospital waiting rooms, rainy days, situations requiring stillness and silence for long periods, bed confinement because of illness).

I thought about the "fun box" all evening because someone asked me what I like to do for relaxation and refreshment during difficult or stressful times.  What would be in my fun box?  I thought of a few things: novels, bubble bath, candles and journals, my camera and walking shoes, or a new magazine. 

I want to have my fun box ready for the autumn season when the weather turns cold.  I want to have relaxation ready for when stressful events come.  Living with flair means the fun box isn't only for children. 

Journal:  What else can folks do for pleasure and refreshment?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Marks of Emotional Maturity

Yesterday, a wise man explains that while we often exhibit spiritual and intellectual maturity, we forget to develop emotionally

An emotionally mature person isn't controlled by circumstances.  She can operate out of truth regarding God's love for her, His sovereignty, and His perfect provision.  But how?  No matter how much I learn or how much I grow spiritually, I still let my emotions dominate. 

Something isn't clicking.  

My wise friend suggests to begin by charting the day.  I'm to make a list of everything that happens and my reaction to these events.  I slow down, ask myself how I'm responding to my environment, why I'm doing this, and what lie I'm believing that generates the emotional instability.  Then, uncover the truth about God I need to believe. 

He remarks that most people behave inappropriately in reaction to their circumstances because there's a deep wound of abandonment or neglect.  They lash out like caged animals because they want so desperately to have their needs met. 

But we don't have to lash out or throw tantrums today.  We can supply God's truth to this very moment and respond with peace, patience, and joy.  We are not neglected animals.  We are deeply loved and cared for by a generous and powerful God who heals us. 

Journal:  How would you know if you were emotionally mature? 

Saturday, July 23, 2011

As Strong as This?

Yesterday, I examined the cattails by a beautiful pond.  I've always studied cattails.  As a child, I learned how the cattails hid the nests of mallards and geese.  I discovered how you could walk between the stalks, nearly sinking into the marshy bank of the Potomac River, and find turtles as small as your thumbnail and bullfrogs the size of a dinner plate.

But I learned never to take a cattail inside the house.  The seeds would disperse everywhere.  So you left them alone--those tall soldiers guarding the ponds and rivers--and observed how, in late summer, great fluffy parachutes of seeds launched out over the water.  They could overtake a whole habitat.  Nothing could come against them. 

I remember this, and I suddenly realize what the cattail represents:  explosive, invasive, unmanageable, impenetrable growth.

You can't stop a cattail.  The roots go deep and store massive amounts of nutrients.  The tip of the plant constitutes innumerable seeds carried far and wide by wind.  Bad weather simply aids the dispersal.  A flood only makes the roots stronger.  A drought just means the seeds leave sooner.

You can't stop a cattail.  That's what I'm thinking about as my time in Colorado comes to an end next week.  It hasn't been the summer I imagined.  We've been more sick than healthy and more challenged than refreshed.  But you can't stop a cattail.  Hardship can only aid our growth. 

Journal:  Do I believe I am as strong and fruitful as a cattail?

Friday, July 22, 2011

Fame and Fortune?

I'm listening to Vonette Bright speak about the days of co-founding a ministry in 1951 that now ranks as one of the largest missions organizations in the world.  She mentions the moment she agreed to fully surrender to God.   What would it require?  What would it mean to submit to a calling? 

I learned part of the answer I didn't know before. 

I didn't realize that within an actual contract the Brights signed between themselves and God, the couple agreed not to accumulate wealth or seek fame.

I smiled when I heard her explain this. She knew something far greater and more satisfying than the world's most seductive paths.  She knew what mattered most in another economy in another kingdom.

Journal:  Famous people are often annoyed by their fame.  They don't want it once they have it.  Wealthy folks often die lonely and miserable.  If we know these things, why are we still tempted by fame and money?  What do they promise?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

What You Set in Motion Today

I'm listening to Francis Chan speak to a group of 5,000 folks.  He says, "Go do something that requires faith."  I realize that every wonderful event in my life almost didn't happen because of my being too nervous, too insecure, or too self-involved.  Marriage, parenting, writing, teaching, or moving to new places?  These things aren't always easy, obvious, or natural.  

As I thought about that quote, I suddenly realized that it's not just big and life-changing things that require enormous faith.  What about knocking on a neighbor's door to start a friendship?  What about writing this very sentence?  What about even waking up this morning and choosing a good mood?  (Now that's faith for me!) A very small act might create an avalanche reaction of beauty, joy, and change.  

I'm going to do things that require faith today.  It's not just big things.  Waking up cheerfully might be my act of faith today. Who knows what I've just set in motion?

Journal:  What am I doing that requires faith? 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

You Can Go Where Others Cannot

Today my daughter announces that she hates being so short.  "Everyone else my age is taller than I am!"

I want to deny it.  I want to comfort her.  I want to tell her to get over it. 

But she is rather short.  So instead of denying the truth of her statement, I remind her that God has a reason for everything

"Can you think of any reason why a loving God would let you be shorter than everyone else right now?"  I ask her, staring deeply into those little girl eyes that will undoubtedly face a lifetime of the kinds of disappointments and heartbreak that come with the human experience.  She will ask so many why? questions as the years unfold.  

She tilts her head to one side and ponders the thought.  "Well, I can get into places that most people can't."

This means she wins hide-n-seek.  This means she has an advantage in finding hiding places that suddenly makes her stature valuable.  What a change of heart! 

All day, this statement resonates in my heart:  "I can get into places that most people can't."  I talk to God about this, and I imagine this conversation: 

Yes.  You can go where others cannot.  That's what this confusion, this disappointment, this heartache is for.  Your experience gives you access.  It's a portal into a place others cannot--or will not--go. 

I find myself welling up. God speaks to my own heart through my daughter's answer.  Suffering allows you to "get into places that most people can't."  I think about ministry opportunities, writing projects, insights, amazing friendships, communities, and blessing after blessing because I went into beautiful spiritual and physical places I could only enter through the door of suffering. 

Living with flair means knowing that you can go where others cannot because of the things you've suffered. 

Journal:  Where has your suffering allowed you to go?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

"She was generous with her life."

Today, I hear a woman describe another woman by saying, "She was generous with her life.  She expected nothing in return for what she gave of herself to me." 

I dug into my purse to find my journal and pen to write down those words.

Something about the expression stung my heart.  I normally think about being generous with money, time, or acts of service.  But what about being generous with my own heart--giving my very self away--so others are blessed? 

I want to be generous with my life

Journal:  What does a generous life look like?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Dance Instead

I'm driving to meet some women for karaoke.  You know I cannot sing.  At all.  But I say, "yes," to this kind of invitation precisely because I'm living with flair these days. 

Everyone knows I can't sing, but I can dance, and when Michael Jackson's "Beat It" comes on (the song that began Live with Flair), my group sings while I put the microphone down and do the whole choreography.

Living with flair means that when the empty track plays, you don't have to sing.  You can put the microphone down and dance instead.

Journal:  What can you do well?

Sunday, July 17, 2011

I Just Wanted to Remind You

This morning, I wanted to take you someplace to remind you how beautiful the world can be.  Even when there's heartache, somewhere a rainbow shimmers in a dark sky.  Yesterday, we drove to the Rocky Mountains.  My camera's very old and not fancy, but look at this! 

Rocky Mountain Rainbow
And just in front of this rainbow, a herd of elk leisurely feast.

Elk on the Mountain
And back down the trail, a waterfall spits and roars down the rocks.

You don't think about laundry or dishes or sickness or sadness when you're on the mountain.  At least I didn't.  I sprawled out and took a deep breath.

Heather in the Heather

My daughters climb and explore.  A friend hands my oldest a pair of binoculars, and she suddenly becomes quiet and thoughtful.  

Sometimes, we need to go places that make us still and thoughtful as we contemplate the beauty of the earth.

Journal:  Where do you go to contemplate how beautiful the world is? 

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Who But You?

As I prepare my writing seminar, I receive emails and comments from folks asking sadly, "What do I have to write that's worth reading?  Why would anyone read what I have to write?" 

In Mary Pipher's book, Writing to Change the World, she entitles a chapter, "What You Alone Can Say."  She claims, "You have something to say that no one else can say.  Your history, your unique sensibilities, your sense of place and your language bestow upon you a singular authority.  Who but you can describe the hollyhocks in your grandmother's backyard or the creek outside of town that you fished as a child. . . ?" 

Who but you?

Journal:  What will you write that you alone can say? 

Friday, July 15, 2011

One Blade of Grass

I'm sitting in the grass by my apartment as the sun sets.  Looking deeply into the grass, I see this one tall blade: 

It's just a blade of grass--nothing special.  Then I recall Walt Whitman's answer to the child's question, "What is the grass?"   He writes,

". . . I guess it is the handkerchief of the Lord,
A scented gift and remembrancer designedly dropped,
Bearing the owner's name someway in the corners, that we
 may see and remark, and say Whose?
I begin to wonder again.  I bury myself in the grass and spy 
the tiniest cricket.   I zoom in and take a picture 
before he hops away.  The grass and the insect 
do, like Whitman claims, lead me to contemplate the Creator.  

Living with flair means looking at the blades of grass. 

Journal:  When was the last time you sat in the grass and looked around?  

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Saggiest Wins

At the Denver Zoo, I become amazed with the number of animals who give prestige and power to other animals based on how much skin sags on their bodies.  I'm serious.  In a herd, the animal with the saggiest chin (dewlap) has the most power and prestige. 

And another thing:  Animals regularly make themselves look larger in this zoo.  It's best to be wrinkly, big, and old.  It's beautiful, powerful, and important. 

The other day, I notice the thin little wrinkles that have formed around my mouth.  I'm noticing all the sagging on my body and how nothing stays in its place.  I notice my own hands as I type--leathery and sketched with crossing patterns in skin that's getting old.  I notice that it's harder and harder to have a waist when you age. 

But, oh, where these hands have been!  Oh, the great conversations I've had with this very mouth!  Oh, the places this body has taken me!  I want these marks and sags to signify the beauty and prestige that they should. 

I like the zoo.  I like communities where old means beautiful. I want to foster that cultural shift in my own community. 

Journal:  How can I see signs of aging as beauty, power, and importance? 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Someone is Looking for You

Last night, my youngest asks me to tell her stories of when I was a little girl. 

"What kind of stories?" I ask.

"The ones when you get lost and someone has to find you," she says.   

I've never told her a story like this.  But that's the story she wants to hear:  a little girl lost and then found.  

Sometimes I think we can tap into the one great True Narrative just by asking children the kinds of stories they want to hear.  The story I tell her is the greatest story I know.  A girl was lost--desperately and hopelessly so--but a great God was looking for her and wouldn't let her go.  He searched long and far and wide.  And he left clues and messages and little gifts along the trail to remind her of the way home. 

I was lost but Someone was looking for me. 

Journal:  Children love stories of lost and found, and they love hide-n-seek.  What other stories do children love that reflect the great story of God seeking after us? 

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Storm Will Come

In this part of the country, it storms at the same time every day.  It's the strangest and most beautiful thing.  You learn to stay inside at 3:00 PM because a black cloud will inevitably roll over the mountains.  You anticipate the fearful lightening, the wind, and the fat drops of rain.

You train yourself to wait it out.  You adjust your schedule.

And you smile because you know the storm will end in an hour.  You smile because you know you'll burst out the front door and see a rainbow that seems to stretch all the way back to Kansas.

You smile because you know the storm has a purpose to nourish and cool things down.

I think that's what I'm learning about the hard parts of life:  they will come, and they serve a purpose.  Knowing the storm will come means I train myself:  I go inward with the Lord, anticipate what I'll fear, wait it out, adjust and then. . . and then, smile.  I'm cooling off and being nourished by this storm.

Journal:  Have you found a way to weather life's storms?

Monday, July 11, 2011

All Seats Provide Equal Viewing of the Universe

I discovered this quote at the public library yesterday.  It's from the Museum Guide from Hayden Plantetarium inside a novel by Lorrie Moore.  I read it out loud and it seemed to catch in my throat.  All week I've wanted to go home to Pennsylvania.  All week I've imagined a different life.  It seemed, as I read it again, that some great voice of wisdom gently whispered in my ear. 

I turned to my daughter and read it to her.

"Do you know what that means?"  I asked.  "It means that no matter where you are, you have an equal chance to perceive the beauty of God."

When I want to trade seats to find a better view, I'm going to sit tight and realize my equal chance to see--right where I am--the beautiful things God wants to show me.  

Journal:  What do I see today that proves I have an equal chance to see the beauty of God?

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Pack Your Basket and Picnic Today

This morning, we announce that we'll be picnicking.  We have a little basket, fruit, sandwiches, thermoses of drinks, fun snacks, and playing cards. 

My youngest daughter cannot contain her excitement.  She literally jumps around the apartment with suggestions for our basket. 

Who can resist a picnic? 

I think about all the picnics from my own life.  One time, a friend and I consumed an entire bag of cherries down by the Potomac River.  Another time, I had a picnicking first date.  As a young mother, no matter what kind of day we were having, if I served lunch on a blanket outside, suddenly the day turned magical.  We'd lean back against a red checkered blanket, smell the grass, and watch the clouds. 

Living with flair means picnicking. 

Journal:  Do you have picnic memories? 

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Air Yourself Out

I experienced a profound revelation this week:  towels don't ever dry well in the cramped bathroom on their towel bars.  They end up emitting that glorious musty-mildewy perfume within just a few days. 

I decide to reject--once and for all--the towel bar in the bathroom. 

Instead, I let all the towels dry by spreading them out on a drying rack.  I position this rack right in front of the window so lots of sunshine and fresh air could dry my towels.  Watching these towels this morning, I consider what it means to stay fresh in my own life.  Am I hung up on a towel bar of criticism, bitterness, regret, or cynicism? 


I have to let things air out.  I need to put myself in new, expansive, open environments to keep fresh.  There's something horrible about staying in the cramped, folded-up position that breeds the must and mildew.  Living with flair means not letting mildew grow in my own heart. 

Journal:  Where does life feel cramped and musty? 

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Who Needs Flowers?

A friend arrives at my apartment with a gift for me.  It's a huge bouquet of sunflowers.  

I place them in a plastic cup (all I had!).  No matter where I am in the apartment, I can peek around any corner and find them.  Such a difference they make!  Such warmth and happiness from flowers! 

Living with flair means bringing flowers into the house.  It means giving them, too.

Journal:  Who needs some flowers delivered today?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Higher Than I

This morning, I lean down to look at all the rocks by my apartment. 

I remember the plea of the psalmist in Psalm 61: 

"Hear my cry, O God;
   listen to my prayer.
 From the ends of the earth I call to you,
   I call as my heart grows faint;
   lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
For you have been my refuge,
   a strong tower against the foe."

I need a rock that is higher than I.  It's a strange expression.  To me, it's another reminder that God delivers me from myself.  He's higher than self.  I can hardly believe it, but I learn that God refers to himself as our Rock over and over again in Scripture.  He's the rock that is higher than I!  The Lord says in Isaiah: 
"Who then is like me? Let him proclaim it.
   Let him declare and lay out before me
what has happened since I established my ancient people,
   and what is yet to come—
   yes, let them foretell what will come.
Do not tremble, do not be afraid.
   Did I not proclaim this and foretell it long ago?
You are my witnesses. Is there any God besides me?
   No, there is no other Rock; I know not one."

I need to remember that today. 

For several days now, I've been complaining.  Nothing's going according to plan out here in Colorado.  As I walk around the apartment this morning, I know I need supernatural power to get out of this funk.  Nothing corrupts living with flair like complaining, and I just can't talk myself out of my bad mood.   And then I feel guilty for my mood because so many other women all over the world would trade their lives any day for the kinds of comforts I enjoy. 

Oh, Lord, lead me to the Rock that is higher than I! 

Journal:  Do you ever feel like you just need to be free from yourself? 

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Does Losing Sleep Also Make You Crazy?

I know the thing that makes me the worst version of myself.

Lack of sleep.  Simple.

It's so hard to believe the truth, to stay positive and peaceful, and to rise above our circumstances when we are just plain tired.  Am I right? 

A wise woman once said to me, "Heather, sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do for yourself is take a nap."  Sometimes I wonder if depression in caregivers directly relates to lack of sleep. 

I need a nap.  One daughter successfully fought her virus, but the other vomited all over both beds and all the towels last night.  I told my friend in the parking lot this morning that I'm on my last load of vomit laundry.  I laughed.  Inside I was crying.

She said that would make a great blog title:  The Last Load of Vomit Laundry

Sleeping remains my singular goal today (besides comforting, hydrating, and nourishing sick children).  Living with flair means we recognize how sleep deprivation can keep us from living with flair. 

Journal:  What happens to you when you lose sleep?

Monday, July 4, 2011

How Emily Dickinson (and a Friend's Blog) Saved My Morning

I'll just begin by telling you a certain child in my family vomits seven times last night.  This is the other child (not the one with the entirely different virus). 

I don't actually wake up this morning because I never actually went to bed. 

Everyone complains.  Everyone feels miserable, and to make matters worse, it's a holiday!  We'll miss the bike parade, the hot dogs, the fireworks--everything. 

Then I check my email, and a new friend sends me a link to her blog.  She's entitled it "Dwell in Possibility."  I think about the phrase all morning because it resonates deeply.  I've heard the phrase before--from some distant place--that recalls a beautiful hoping in me. 

Then I remember.  It's from Emily Dickinson.  I love Emily Dickinson. 

I dwell in Possibility --
A fairer House than Prose --
More numerous of Windows --
Superior -- for Doors --

Of Chambers as the Cedars --
Impregnable of Eye --
And for an Everlasting Roof
The Gambrels of the Sky --

Of Visitors -- the fairest --
For Occupation -- This --
The spreading wide of narrow Hands
To gather Paradise --

I read the poem again and again.  Today, I choose to gather Paradise.

Journal:  What are the possibilities of this day?  Who could even name them all? 

Sunday, July 3, 2011

What Do You Need?

Today marks the 4th day of staying in a small apartment in a new city all day long whilst caring for a child who has a 103.5 degree fever.   I'm not even going to bother making that sentence more concise.  It's been a long few days.  

It's lonely.  It's awful. 

My husband attempts to cheer me with coffee and jokes.  Then he announces, "You need people!  That's how God made you!"  He calls several friends and invites them to take me out for ice cream.  It sounds so desperate.  Aren't I stable enough to survive any circumstance?  Haven't I been able to find the flair in even the worst of situations?

I'm learning that I really do need people.  I love community.  And living with flair means knowing this so I don't go crazy and wonder if I'm sinking back into despair when I'm alone for too long.

Journal:  What are some things you need?

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Why I'm Now Using Twitter

Last night, I tell my friend that I'm definitely not interested in using twitter.  "Why would anyone care where I am or what I am doing?"  Besides, I don't really know how to twitter. 

"You're thinking about twitter all wrong," he says.  "Twitter is about influence.  You don't tell people that you're eating a hamburger right now.  You tell people that you're eating the best hamburger, and you give information about where and how they can eat the best hamburger as well.  You're influencing others with good information." 

But what would I influence people about?  I blog about beautiful things--just to share them with the world--but how could I use twitter, too? 

I woke up wondering about this.  Then my youngest daughter asked me to teach her how to know whether a peach is perfectly ripe.  I had been feeling horribly inadequate as a mother all week, and then all of a sudden I didn't.  Motherhood wasn't about big moments or spectacular feats of patient nurturing.  It was, in part, about very small moments of instruction.

We felt peaches together in the kitchen.  

The peach instruction opened a new world of confidence in mothering.  What else could I impart today? 

So I twittered about the peach. In 140 characters, I hoped to influence other mothers who felt bad about themselves today. 

Living with flair means influencing others when you learn something. 

Journal:  Can I influence others about something today? 

Friday, July 1, 2011

Turning a Storm Into Art (Photos of Strange Creatures in the Clouds)

The storms in Colorado dazzle us!  Midday, I feel the heaviness in the air.

Storm Clouds Brewing

The sky darkens, and as I look up into it, I see the outlines and shadows of  fairies, butterflies, angels, and even a kangaroo hopping around in the clouds.

Creatures in the Storm Clouds

My daughter points, and together we imagine a whole forest of creatures.  Our fear leaves us.  We lean far out over our balcony (with lightning and fat raindrops all around) and take photos.  We turn the storm into art.  That's what it means to live with flair.

When we look deeply in that storm, we find beauty.  Maybe that's true of every dark and terrible thing in our lives; beauty and wonder trail close behind and often reveal themselves in the contours.  This isn't just a storm--it's an opportunity for art

Journal:  Can you see anything else in these photos?