Poetic Justice

Summer is coming to an end here on the Plains. Farmers are getting jittery about the upcoming harvest. As a wandering observer, I take in every majestic, breathtaking view with awe. I notice when something changes.

Recently these beautiful little yellow wildflowers have started popping up in the fields and on the roadside.

They’re Black-eyed Susans.

I arrived here in June, a few weeks into the beginning of summer, not knowing what to expect. Not sure if I was running away or to something, I came to South Dakota to listen to the sky, the fields, to commune with God and nature. To search my soul and tap my spirit for some direction– a sign. I kept telling my friends, “I’m in a liminal space.”

All summer I’ve been treated to a luxurious bounty of natural, scenic wonder. I’ve tried to capture the quiet, lush expanse of the vast South Dakota landscape with my camera lens. It calls to my inner artist and I long to draw and paint it. I’ve tried to understand the generations of people who make this area of the country their home: their warmth, their sense of community, family, and fellowship. It is exactly like the storybooks we’ve read, films we’ve seen about growing up in the Midwest.

I understand completely why my brother and sister love it here. Everything in South Dakota fills the vacuum, the deep cavity in our hearts we endured as children growing up in the chaos and pain of a dysfunctional family home. The love and tranquility pours in with every sunrise. The shock of bright stars at night against the pitch black sky illuminates the smallness of our place in the infinite universe. Yet, this state holds you close. It tells you reassuringly – you matter. You are special. You are loved.

That’s when it dawned on me about those little flowers. Years ago, I was a black-eyed Susan, and it was not beautiful, in fact it was terrible, ugly, and frightening.

But not anymore.

Today, I’m as free as a beautiful band of yellow wildflowers springing up in crazy bunches along the roadside in the South Dakota sun.

As I pondered the visual metaphor of those Black-eyed Susans on a long drive out to Sioux Falls yesterday, I realized I only read two books cover-to-cover this summer: Rachel Snyder’s, “No Visible Bruises” and Jess Hill’s, “See What You Made Me Do.” They’re both excellent new nonfiction picks addressing domestic abuse and intimate partner violence.

In short, it’s become obvious, I can’t stop working on violence against women and all forms of coercive control men impose on women. It has settled under my skin and there is so much more work to do.

I’m thankful for this time I’ve had with the good people of South Dakota, the beauty of this generous state, and I look forward to how I can make a difference for the women who have yet to reinvent themselves into flowers dancing in the sun.

Writer’s Block

A good friend visited yesterday. She gently nudged me. Asked me what was holding me back. She tried her best to help me. She was so encouraging and sweet. I so appreciated her kindness.

I wanted to show her this wall. I wanted to explain that it erects itself every time I start summoning up the courage to come forward with the difficult work I sincerely want to do.

Brick by brick, I’m going to start dismantling this wall.

Happy Birthday to Me

This Dr. Seuss book was written in 1959, the year I was born. It was one of my favorite books.

The birthday bird from Katroo visited me this year in the form of my sweet daughters who reached out to 60 of my friends and asked them simply to, “…please write a little something to my mother. It can be whatever you want. There are no rules.”

What came back was a magical mystery tour of love and memories from friends, family, former colleagues, neighbors, and well, fans and “social network” connections from all over the world. It was completely surprising and deeply moving.

What a beautiful, selfless gift of love.

The hardest, and most gut-wrenching letters to read were the ones from my three children whom I love so much.

All the letters came in electronically via Messenger, email, LinkedIn, etc. My daughters formatted them, printed them uniformly, put them in envelopes, and wrapped them in a bow.

One of the letters included my inscription next to my high school yearbook photo where in the caption I had stated my ambition was to have money, regardless.

Ha. That makes me laugh today. Indeed, I made a lot of money in my life. Maybe more than some in my high school class. But, at the last juncture where I could have made a lot more, and achieved financial security, I literally walked away from it. Took a different path. Disappointing all my atheist friends, it reminds me of a biblical quote:

When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things.”

1 Corinthians 13 : 11

We’re only on this planet a short while. If you feel the need to invest in something, invest in the character and integrity of your children. That time and energy will pay dividends in the Universe for generations to come.

And if you don’t have children, (probably better considering the state the planet is in), consider ways you might endeavor to change the world for the better.

Apparently, people really appreciate you for trying this, and they are very happy to wish you the very happiest of birthdays.