Sunday, March 25, 2012


Not native.  Not familiar.  
 As in this doesn’t feel like me.

Because that's it, isn't it?  It's foreign.  
You don't understand it. 
You've never had it, seen it, been there, done that before.

It takes awhile…before it's not foreign anymore.  But that’s the great thing about foreign-ness.   
Foreign things are those things that could become familiar if you make an effort.  
To go there.  Do that.   
They could start to feel like you, if you make an effort.

A story just landed in my lap this week.  A story that so perfectly captures the unease of foreign.   
The experience of knowing something is outside of your box.   
The first steps towards taking foreign and making it familiar.   
The strange discomfort you get from knowing 
that other people do/eat/have/use this foreign thing all the time, 
but not you. 

Such a perfect thing happened.  Here's the story... 

She got herself dressed.  Not headed out for a night on the town, 
but to the grocery store of all places.   
Is getting dressed a foreign thing? Certainly not. 
It was the fashion choice that was foreign to this girl.   
Somebody she trusts told her she looked cute in those skinny jeans.
So she sent me a picture of herself and said, “Be honest.  Can I wear these?” 

Not native.  Not familiar.  As in this doesn’t feel like me.

This story is not about fashion 
or feeling confident in garments with spandex.  
 It’s about the experience of going outside of your comfort zone.   
It’s about the first steps towards taking foreign and making it familiar.  
 It’s about the special nature of a foreign thing 
that makes it possible to have it become familiar.   
It can become your thing.   
You can go there.  Do that.   

Foreign things are special that way.  
 They can change.  If you make an effort. 

Sunday, March 18, 2012


I wore red shoes on the day I got married.  The most spectacular little red satin slides with a big red bow across the toe.

I remember the day we bought them.  We weren’t looking for wedding shoes that day.  I didn’t even have my dress yet.  They were up high on a pedestal, literally, in the middle of a very fancy shoe display at the Neiman Marcus in Scottsdale, Arizona.  We were not shopping at Neiman’s, we were simply walking through the store because it was the shortest way to get to our lunch destination from the parking lot.  I just saw them, and I knew.  I very clearly recall the exchange I had with my mom.  Pointing at the shoes, I said, “That’s them.”  And without missing a beat, she knew exactly what I was talking about and replied, “Of course they are.  You’d better try them on.”

Mostly, it was a secret.  There was a very short list of people who knew that tucked under that full white skirt was a little bit of red.  Hiding.  Until at the very end of the most beautiful wedding, my new husband and I turned around to make our way up the aisle together and I had to lift up the front of my dress just a bit to navigate the steps.  We got to the back of the church and we had just moments to ourselves, but I wanted him to see.  So I pointed my toe and lifted the hem of my dress to show him my red satin beauties and he simply said, “Of course you did."

Can something be totally unexpected and completely predictable at the same time?  Maybe.

Sunday, March 11, 2012


Could catch fire.  Under the right circumstances. 

Would catch fire.  If it got heated enough.
Should catch fire?  Not necessarily.

Things can be flammable.  Tufts of cotton and planks of wood.  Could catch fire, would catch fire.  Could and would cause the utter destruction of the thing itself.  And you, if you’re standing nearby.  My daughters all wear pajamas with warning labels: Flammable!  Could catch fire, would catch fire.  Should catch fire?  No.


Words can be flammable.   Words like ‘politics’ and ‘religion’.  Could catch fire, would catch fire…if the conversation got heated enough.  Could and would cause the utter destruction of the thing itself.  And you, if you’re standing nearby.  I wish some of the conversations I’ve had recently came with warning labels: Flammable!  Could catch fire, would catch fire.  Should’ve caught fire?  And caused the utter destruction of the thing itself?  No.



Sunday, March 4, 2012


I was in the act of giving.  I surely was.
Giving.  Not trading.  Not tit for tat.  Not quid pro quo.
Just giving.
Not at all focused on what I might be receiving.
Just giving.  
 From the place where my receiver needed me to be.
You have to be in the right place, you know.  To give honestly.  Purely.
Somewhere in the middle of what you need and what I have to give is where it happens.
And when I place myself there.  In that middle place.
I find myself perfectly positioned to receive.
I surely do. 

**Photographer's note- This is Fern.  Fern owns a funky little plant shop called "The Shed" in downtown Ann Arbor (hence, the choice of colors for the bricks).  Her store has no roof so that God can water His plants when He wants.  She hangs the green flag out front when she's open for business and although she majored in landscape design, she prefers the quiet life of her quaint horticultural boutique.
The act of settling down cross-legged on the floor and constructing her story was my way of "giving" to two pathetic boys that were too exhausted from a bout with the stomach flu to do anything other than watch television and play Legos.  I'm writing you this because I am quite certain that this week's photograph will need an explanation.  So, there it is.  Now I'm going back to bed.

**Writer's additional note- Somewhere in the middle of what they need and what you have to give is where it happens.  And when you place yourself there.  In that middle place.  Cross-legged on the floor.  You find yourself perfectly positioned to receive.  You surely do.