31 March 2008

My wildflowers.

Well, I can now cross one thing off my "37 by 37" list - "Grow a flower garden in my own yard." Just 3 months ago, on Christmas Day actually, we built wildflower beds all along the fence and sowed seeds that we crossed our fingers would actually grow into something. Over the last few months I've expectantly crept into the yard each day, first waiting for the slightest sprout of green....then examining new shoots to see whether they were real flowers or weeds...and now seeing which new beautiful flower has emerged overnight to grace my world.

"Look at the flowers - for no reason.
It is simply unbelievable how happy flowers are." ~Osho

This was what they looked like on March 21st:

Pretty sparse, eh? Well this is March 27th!

And now, today...

So let me introduce a few of them, ok? First, these white ones are lovely and fragrant but I'm not positive yet what they are. Their scent is a combination of jasmine and vanilla. Mmmmm.

Here they are with some Blue Flax...

Peek-a-boo. This one was tucked away. Not yet sure what it is...

Then my purple Cosmos started to unfurl...

And this beautiful something...

My husband enjoying the morning...

And now, for my very favorite, so worth the wait. These adorable little cones...

Start to pop open...

And become beautiful California Poppies....

How can I not be happy...with all of this beauty outside my back door?

27 March 2008

So many things to love about California...(part 2)

Favorite #2: Malibu. If you were a girl growing up in the 80s, you probably loved your Malibu Barbie. I dressed her in various bikinis and thought it was the coolest thing ever that she was the only Barbie with a tan line. So I've always wanted to go to Malibu...and in my mind, I probably idealized it as the place you live in your dreams, high up on a cliff overlooking the blue, blue Pacific with a lovely backyard with cabanas and those vintage-y patio umbrellas from Anthropologie and all you do is lay by the pool all day wearing Audrey Hepburn sunglasses. Wellll....that isn't the Malibu I experienced (surprise) but it was still sunny and beautiful. Oh...and a bit rocky.

Jen, baby Ava, and I drove with the windows down all along the coast and arrived at our destination, Paradise Cove, about 30 minutes later. I was told beforehand that I would love this restaurant because it's on the beach, and you eat with your toes in the sand! Let's just say it didn't take me long to get in the car with my seatbelt buckled.

As soon as we sat down, I removed my flip-flops so my toes could burrow into the sand and positioned myself to feel the sun on my shoulders. Ahhhhhhh.

I have to say, the food wasn't the main attraction at this place, but who could match my world-class Cobb salad from yesterday? Besides, the view made it worthwhile. I hung out with Ava so her mom could eat her lunch...

Then we took some lovely photos on the beach, which was only steps away!

So many things to love about California...(part 1)

There are so many things to love about California. I spent a week there recently with my dear friend Jen, her hubby Marshall, and their new baby Ava. Having not stepped on a beach in almost 2 years, it was a wonderful retreat for me, and I soaked up every minute...from the gorgeous sunsets to the sweet California beach life, to traipsing around town with Jen and daydreaming about what it would be like to live in Beverly Hills (decided I'd rather have my life), and eating the best Cobb salad in the luscious sunshine. Here are my favorite moments from the trip...split into parts, of course, because I took way too many pictures!

Favorite #1: Sunday in Manhattan Beach. What a day. I wore a flowy skirt, a tank top, and flip flops, an outfit which makes any day great. Then we set off in the perfect 75 degree weather for "the MB," which is the quintessential California beach town. We found a lovely cafe for lunch - Le Pain Quotidien - and ate al fresco. Here is where I had the best Cobb salad of my life, and they even had homemade organic lemonade with mint leaves and agave nectar. Only in California!

After a leisurely lunch, we strolled Ava around and went out on the pier to enjoy all the happenings of the perfect beach day - surfers, lifeguards, families, and even fishermen. We thought Marshall was just playing around with his HD camera but he was secretly getting footage to create this amazing video for me to send back home to my husband!

We just happened upon these unattended fishing rods at the end of the pier. I can't even tell you how sparkly that water looked in person - I actually drew in my breath.

For a peaceful closing to our day, we went to Manhattan Beach's "Strand" which is down by the sand, and we enjoyed one of the most gorgeous sunsets. You know how I feel about "the perfect time of day" too. This day could not have been any better.

Here's Jen's hubby holding baby Ava in the sunset...

A message for my hubby in the sand...

Next is Part 2: Malibu!

21 March 2008


I think emerging and unfurling might be two of the most beautiful words in the universe. Because in order for something to emerge or unfurl, it has to have been previously hidden away. Before now, the dark was scary to me. But the book When The Heart Waits by Sue Monk Kidd has taught me to see the dark, the time of waiting, in a very real and new way. The dark can mean a time of letting go, a time of abandoning our "false selves" to find the true self – that self which God has created in us.

I finally finished the book this week after starting it a long time ago, because I had to savor it in little bits here and there. One can only take so much soul-changing at a time, you know. But even though I read it so sporadically, each time I picked it up, the wisdom on the next several pages was exactly what I needed for that moment. Sue Monk Kidd parallels our lives with that of a caterpillar entering a cocoon and eventually emerging into a butterfly. At the beginning, she finds a cocoon hanging from a tree during a leisurely walk and can identify so much with this little sleeping creature that she brings it into her house and hangs it on an African violet on her desk. As she babysits the cocoon, something begins to transform in her life too, and she waits in expectation for the day she can emerge from her dark place. She desperately needs that caterpillar to become a butterfly.

I read the last part of the book this week as Easter approached - yet again - in the perfect time. The author says that Jesus' transformation was like "the waiting room of new life. The darkness of death was transformed into a life-giving dark."

A life-giving dark. Do those words remind you of anything? Maybe a womb?

Sometimes it feels like nothing is happening at first. When I originally wrote this post last August, I felt desperate and desolate. I did not want to enter my thirties that way. I picked up this book hoping and praying it would help me change. Today, on Easter, I know I am different. Not yet sure exactly how, but I know I am.

One of the greatest things I've realized through my journey is that to truly grow, we must abandon ourselves to let Christ come in. Self-abandonment is so contrary to what we are taught in this modern world. Abandon self, are you kidding? Today, it's all about us, how to make ourselves look better, feel more important, live longer and more richly. Self-abandonment almost seems like a condition for which you'd need to see a psychiatrist.

But it's not letting yourself go, it's letting go.

I learned something beautiful in this book when it quoted Thomas Merton, who wrote in Seeds of Contemplation that there are two levels in the process of fully surrendering to God: First there is the active work. This is where we go after the conscious, surface things we want and need to change. "At this level we approach letting go the active way, through self-initiatives, will, and work. We begin and begin again." One of these for me is body image, a trial I am s-i-c-k of dealing with, yet it still plagues me on many days. I hate it and know it is so silly in the grande scheme of my life but still have not figured out how to make it stop being an issue. I guess I'm going through this because it is teaching me something much deeper than appearance.

And that's the second level of abandoning oneself that Merton talks about – where we deal with our "secret attachments." Here is where we "let go our letting go." Did you catch that? We stop striving to fix ourselves. God releases us through experiences, encounters, and events that come to us. Oh, here's the hard part and the place most of us never reach - because we're too fearful of being in a place where it is dark and the light - if it's even there - is too far ahead. We actually keep ourselves from finding freedom because we don't let ourselves go far enough in the journey with God.

"When the heart weeps for what it has lost, the spirit laughs for what it has found."
~ unknown

So I guess that brings us to today, to Easter, and to the new word I learned in this book: eastering. Poet Gerard Manley Hopkins said, "Let him easter in us, be a dayspring to the dimness of us, be a crimson-cresseted east." They are gorgeous words. They evoke a beautiful image of dawn, light, new life. Sue Monk Kidd says that " to 'let him easter in us' is to let the Christ-life incubate within the darkness of our waiting." At the end of this time is emergence.

So the darkness does not have to be scary. It should not be, if it is a womb instead of a tomb. We will enter the cocoon and emerge again many, many times in this life.

May Christ be born in us today as we remember the beauty of letting go and (if we would allow it) coming alive again.

17 March 2008

California Dreams.

Where have I been lately? In wonderful California, visiting my friend Jen and her hubby and new baby, Ava! This photo is only a preview of what's to come...golden days by the ocean, a luxurious spa treatment, friends old and new, and even a tour of the Sony & Fox lots! :)

05 March 2008

The same tree...

She is blooming!

I love how the sun glows between the petals and leaves...