An Attic of Memories

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Perhaps one of the most enjoyable aspects of writing, for me, is that of stepping into the creative process and pushing out the story from the inside. Sometimes a story can be hidden deep inside, wrapped in the dusty cloths of memory, or filed in a cabinet under “Useless Data”. My job as a writer is to sift through the minutae and retrieve the meaningful pieces of a conversation, a setting, the clothing a person wore, or the aromas resident to a distant land.

When I was a young teen, my friend and I would spend whole afternoons up in the attic of my childhood home. The attic of that house in Northern Michigan was neither heated nor cooled and, for some reason this didn’t deter us from sifting through boxes, bags, drawers and trunks of our family’s past. On one such occasion, we pulled out Mom’s wedding dress which she had not preserved. I was in awe. It did not matter that the dress was in a terrific state of disrepair. I could only run my hands over the slippery satin, oblivious to the fact that it could never be worn. I was, after all, a young girl with idealistic dreams of garden weddings and flowers and, of course! Mr. Right. The dress stirred up giggles and hopes. Plans for our futures.

Embarking on this avocation as a writer, and I’m back up in the attic of my life. I’m sifting through books not treasured enough to keep in my bookshelves, clothing that is back in style again (two words: leg warmers). The clutter from my past stirs the sweetest of memories. Bitter memories have long been eclipsed with love. Somehow the minutae matters in the making of a great story.

Come to think of it, minutae always matters.

House of Love

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Not long ago circumstances were such that I felt a terrific stress lifted off of my shoulders. I felt myself sort of looking around, and wondering why my heart was quiet all of a sudden. The reasons for the peace were numerous, among them was the ability to pay off some debts. It’s hard to describe the hope that seemed to steal into my heart. I think, in a way, you could say that I’ve begun to carve out some space for me…pursuing things that are deeply important to me, and not waiting for a better year.

The other night friends and I had dinner at M’s in the Old Market. I had a lovely Sangiovese from a Willamette Valley vineyard, and they fearlessly dove into brews new and old. She had a Flat Tire and he did not offer to fix it. A leisurely four hours together found us wandering down the paths of old memories, and reliving them together. We laughed until we cried. I came away feeling so rich and full, and in my heart I was reminded of that same peace and bubbly joy. Where was it coming from?

If you do not know me you wouldn’t appreciate the intensity with which I charge at life. It’s great guns ahead with this girl. Analytical until it hurts. The numbers call the shots, not the feelings. In fact, feelings are so confusing that I find myself blogging on joy, in an effort to understand.

That’s it! It’s joy!

This is what joy feels like! Joy. It’s a mish-mosh of believing you’re loved and worthy of love; of being rested and at peace enough to stop and feel; and then moving beyond “doing the right thing” all the time. It’s a combination of living loved and giving it away. Joy is about loving myself, and respecting myself enough to say ‘no’ to some things, and ‘yes’ to others. Scripture says that if you try to save your life you will lose it, and if you willingly lose your life you will find it. God’s economy is always upside down to our thinking. Yet I think sometimes we try to find ourselves by giving more of ourselves than we really had to give…sort of like overdrawing on a bank account. In doing so, the portrait of who we are begins to crumble at its edges. Yet, if we take love all of the time, and never give it away, it will slip through our fingers and we will continue with that vacant gnawing in our soul.

I can’t help but think of the old song that Amy Grant made popular in the 90’s, House of Love.

Sometimes life is funny

You think you’re in your darkest hour

When the lights are comin’ up in the house of love.

Wishing you the surprises of joy and love as this glorious Summer inches it’s way into Fall.