This year, it’s your turn

My husband likes to read adventure stories. The REAL kind, about people who take crazy risks or climb Mt. Everest.  He was re-telling one of these stories to me, and I narrowed my eyes at him.

“Are you saying you want to climb Mt. Everest?”

“I am just reading about it. It’s very interesting.”

“You are not allowed to climb Mt. Everest. I need you not to die.”

He hugged me and promised he wasn’t going to climb Mt. Everest.

However, there is something compelling about the ones who choose to climb it. What on earth would possess a person to risk life and limb to do this? A lot of people do exactly this sort of thing, define some difficult and nearly impossible goal and throw themselves on the mercy of the wind to accomplish it.

It is at this time of year, the turning of the New Year that people pause to think of these things.  What have I done this year? What will I do next year?

What am I doing with my life? Is this what I choose? Is it the right choice?

I am still slowly making my way through the Iliad, as I’ve mentioned earlier. Of these mythological warriors who are fighting the Trojan War, Achilles is understood to be the best warrior of them all.
Achilles, the son of a goddess and a battle machine, has a deep crisis of faith and identity when he steps away from the fighting. What’s this all about, he wonders. His mother gave his a secret. His fate could go either way. He could go back to the fighting as his brothers-in-arms are begging him to do.He could fight as only he can do, win the war for them, and have glory and honor for all time.

And die.

Not in that order.

Alternatively, he could go home and live at peace for a long life.

Two possible fates.

Of course his goddess mother is an immortal, and she weeps for the short life that her son Achilles is inevitably going to have. What is human life, long or short, in contrast to forever?

It is something to Achilles. Shall he go do what he was born to do, be the warrior beyond compare that he can be? Or shall he tamp that down and be safe at home, enjoying the gentle pleasures and comforts of life?

I am also reading the latest book by Seth Godin: What to do when it’s your turn [and it’s always your turn]. Modern life offers more choices that battle glory. We have so many tools and resources at our disposal.

Often fear keeps us from expressing ourselves, from exercising our strengths and gifts. Stay home. Stay safe. Take that talent of gold and hide it under the ground. It could draw the WORST kind of attention.

Godin says take your turn before it’s offered. That life IS the turn, for each of us, to get up and be and do and fail and get up again and try.

Achilles’ analogy works. Shall we throw ourselves onto the field of battle? Because it’s what we were born to do?

Shall we climb the tallest peak? Because it’s there?

I know that’s why Chris reads those books. It’s a story of ultimate striving. It’s easy to belittle the highest strivings in my life. My aspirations are not as dramatic as Mt. Everest.

And yet. That book I am getting ready to publish…That business I want to start…That movement I want to launch…All these rise above the ordinary and lift my eyes to a higher horizon.

There was once, the one who first climbed Everest. He had to make his own path.  The others followed, striving for what they felt drawn to do.

There is for sure and no doubt, the first and only me. And the first and only you. As this year turns into the new one, I want to try to do the big stuff.

Happy New Year, everybody!


It’s been a while. 1999 was when we first met. And I’m not sure any of his friends would have predicted it, but one of the things I love about my husband is how he loves to be loved. He’ll hold my hand. He’ll accept my enthusiasms. He is not as expressive as I am; however, he lets me give him my heart.

Not everyone lets you do that. There are people who are hard to give to. It doesn’t feel nice to give to someone who instantly pushes back with rejection.

I remember once, a family had suffered a tragedy and I was sorrowing for them and for me. I had a desire to buy gifts for the children, and I was paralyzed with indecision.

Was that the right thing to do?

Would they think I was weird to give a trinket at this time?

I mustered up my courage, after months, and did finally give the gifts. I never forgot how hard it was to take that step.

The art of receiving can be neglected. And yet, there is very little in life more enjoyable than finding the exact perfect gift for a loved one, and presenting it.

It is one of the graces of the Christmas season. Giving…Giving thought to the gift and then presenting. It’s a gift we give to each other, the opportunity for attentiveness and delight in all directions.

Reach for the Star

It’s a sign and one we were supposed to listen to: The star over Bethlehem.


I was raised to think that listening to stars—aka astrology—was foolish superstition at best.  But there is always this story. Jesus had a star to announce his birth.

There is something to the stars. They have something to tell us.

We know a lot more about stars than we used to. SCIENCE has uncovered that many properties of gas. Our sun is a star, and we know that it is a mass of incandescent gas.

The sun doesn’t feel like a star, though. The sun is right here up close, and stars are tiny. Except they aren’t. They are far far bigger than our planet.

So mysterious. They inspire contemplation and ambition. Reach for the stars! We know we can’t reach them and yet the trying is still worth it.

The stars are telling us things. If we go scientific, they give hints about the shape of the universe. If we go mystical they whisper of a community where we belong. And if we go stand outside on a clear night, they put us in perspective. Yes, we are small. And yes we are vastly capable.

There is so much more to learn.

Those wise men seemed to be the only ones paying attention. Funny that. No one else in the story mentioned the star. But those wise men

WISE men

Were paying enough attention to hear what the stars were telling them. They packed up and took action.

I aspire to be that wise. I’d like to notice the subtle signs and be the first to know.

I’m more like the shepherds, I think. It takes a wallop with a 2×4, like a host of angels singing. Undeniable signal that something special is going on.

There are signs everywhere we turn, above our heads and below our feet. I aspire to be wise enough to see them.

What Matters

“Mommy, my tummy hurts.”

Her feather-trimmed angel wings made it hard for me to give her a hug. This is Christmas season, and I had spent many hours this weekend being a disinterested stage mom while she practiced for the church pageant.

The instructor had her step forward. Then back. She was uncertain about what to do, and still game. Trying her best.

During the sunrise dress rehearsal, where we all had to be at church two hours early in the hopes that we could iron out the kinks of this performance, I regretted my lack of preparation. I really really regretted I hadn’t had a cup of coffee.

I’d stopped laughing at the jokes. Yes, they were funny, but I’d seen them many times. Daughter was a champ, she’s been in performances before. I could go look for coffee.

I ducked out of the sanctuary and looked around. A walk was a beautiful idea.

Only now, I had come back and taken the kindergartener by the hand to make a potty stop before everything began.

She seemed fine. She said, “You left.”

“Yes, I am here now. I won’t leave again.”

Turns out that was not enough. Her tummy hurt and she had lost her courage.

I didn’t think I was that important. It was her performance after all. I was just sitting in a pew being bored. Regardless of how I saw it, my presence meant a lot to her.

I think of Breakfast at Tiffany’s when Holly Golightly ditches her cat. She had always said that the cat was not really hers to name: “The way I see it I haven’t got the right to give him one. We don’t belong to each other. We just took up one day by the river. I don’t want to own anything until I find a place where me and things go together.”

It wasn’t until Holly was up against the wall and dropped her cat back in an alley that it hit her. The cat had run away and it tore her heart. She realized she and the cat did belong to each other. And she couldn’t forgive herself for not recognizing their connection:
“I’m very scared…Because it could go on forever. Not knowing what’s yours until you’ve thrown it away.”

I didn’t see the connection between us, the one she needed so much.

It’s always been amazing to me how she relies on me. I don’t see it. It may be the same way she doesn’t see what the instructor is telling her about standing in order on the stage steps. She can’t see how it is prettier to stand on the same step. I don’t see myself from her eyes.

She found her way to a bit of courage. She really wanted to do angel business. I was so proud of her efforts, and so sorry I had inadvertently made it harder on her.

She is a young thing. We are all grownups, right? And we’ve grown callouses on our hearts. Still and all, the people who come to celebrate our holidays with us are important. These little traditions buoy us up and they shouldn’t be trifled with.

With all the presents, connection matters more. Presence matters.


open ended curiousity

That’s what the wonderblog is about.  I defy categories.

To my chagrin. It seems easier to pick a topic and then write about that. Lord knows I could probably do that if required.

But this is the wonder. I wonder about a lot of things. Open ended curiosity with a heart connection.

that sounds like a good tag line.

I know there are people who dig it. I have you, dear readers, who open and read my words. Thank you!

There are more people with open-ended curiosity too. There must be. What else feeds that hunger?

TED talks are famous for it? How many of us have just randomly selected a TED talk, even if we didn’t know what it was about, and listened?

I have.

There are even playlists that go through a variety of topics.

My musings and wonderings fit the same niche I think.

Except it’s just me. Me and what I think, not a group of experts.

I suppose I am an expert in my own life.

Weary Wishes

It is really happening now. December and with it, Christmas.

And as Kyle taught us so many years ago, the real meaning of Christmas is presents. At this point in my life, the shine is a bit off the presents. I feel a heavy sense of what I must give to other people. What do I want? I don’t know.

My daughter doesn’t have that problem. She is sure she needs more diamonds and jewels, because she doesn’t have very many of those.  She puts no restraint on her hopes.

Fantastic, right? I don’t wish for diamonds.

I feel like I must wish from the menu. Here is what I need. Here’s what I can afford. Here is what I have time for.  Here are the things I’ve tried before and know I like.  I suffer from a poverty of imagination.

It seems at this point in my life I am pretty much the only one who is going to be giving me presents. If I hope for something, it is up to me to make it come true. And is it worth the effort?

My daughter knows that her hopes are going to be fulfilled by many kind souls. Mommy, Daddy, Grandma and even Santa will be stepping in.

I don’t believe in Santa. My husband asks me early every year what I want as presents. And I moan and complain about how hard it is to think of things.

What is it I want? What do I really want?

A fabulous transcendentalist author, Margaret Fuller wrote this: “That which has once been clearly conceived in the intelligence cannot fail, sooner or later, to be acted out.”

Seems true to me. If I knew what I really wanted, I could go after it with more clarity.

Where is Santa in all this? Is there a Santa Claus? Anyone? Virginia? Anyone?

For little girls and little boys, there is a network of Santa Clauses making their wishes come true. And for grownups, if we hope and let the wish be known there is still a whole network of goodwill that will be our Santa too.

It’s okay to custom order a wish, or step completely off the current menu or choices. The stars can align and create a miracle.

I wish for all of use to give and receive wish miracles this season, and always.