Whisper 1.23


Marigold is my life. I know moms aren’t supposed to say that–we’re supposed to keep our own independence and not live through our kids and be nurturing and wise and also give them plenty of space for individuation. Yeah, I get all that.

But what I mean is that I am coming alive in a new way through Marigold, and all the everyday rhythms of my life revolve around her. We form our own universe, and I am falling in love like never before.


Her goofy little face, and those eyes that make me melt!

I’m lucky that she’s so good-natured and easy-going because it would be so easy to spoil her. But she’s spoil-proof.


I’d always heard that it was hard to take care of little kids, that they cried and fussed and threw tantrums.

But Marigold is so sweet. She spends much of the day playing with Riley, this funny little rag doll that we received from a family that has a tradition of sending dolls and toys to adopted kids.


Growing up here in Moonlight Falls, Marigold takes delight in our gloomy weather. I grew up in the sunshine, so it’s easy for me to start feeling hemmed in after thirty days of straight rain. But Marigold loves rainshowers.

When I took her for a walk in the pouring down rain, she laughed and giggled and reached out to grab the raindrops.


She’s so smart. She learned to walk and use the potty quickly. It took her a little longer to learn to talk. Her first words were “shippy saw-saw.” I know she’s really saying “chips and salsa.”


We pass the winter reading together, cozy inside as the cold world around us falls away.


“Which one’s different?” I ask her when we read the shape book. She laughs and points to the object that doesn’t fit the pattern.

“Yay! Differ!” she says. It’s her favorite book.


When Dante drops by, I tell him all about her progress, the new words she’s saying, what she’s learning, the funny things she does.


“She’s a fantastic kid!” Dante says. “I’ll tell you a secret. I think she looks like you and me. You know, like a mix of both of us.”


When Dante says that, it triggers something inside of me.

He’s all smiles, but I’m tuning into my heart, and I feel a dream curl up and die.


I’d been fine with adopting. It seemed like what I wanted, given my situation–like it was a way for me to create a family.

But what Dante said turned my attention to that dream that moms pass on to their little girls. “Some day, you’ll meet a man you love, and you and he will make a child that is the perfect blend of both of you.”

I’d never asked for that dream, but I’d taken it on all the same, and I’d held it sacred in a secret part of my heart.


It came as part of a whole packet of dreams. A husband who was there every day, contributing to the income, helping around the house, keeping me warm at night. A home full of children with his eyes, my smile, his walk, my laugh.

Maybe I didn’t choose that dream, but it was part of me nonetheless, and facing now the truth that this dream would never be my life hurt.


I love my life. I adore Marigold. That bunny is my sunshine and my life. I love Dante–I’ve tried, but I can’t love anyone else.

And this life, in its particulars, is so very different from the ideal that had been passed down to me, the ideal that, without even realizing it, I’d staked my future happiness on. And now, I have to surrender and release.

Let go, and see what’s there instead.

I watch that dream wilt, curl, and crumble in black powder. Maybe a breeze will blow through me and carry that black dust out, and I’ll be free inside to look at the mystery and miracle of this life I have which I could never have dreamed up, but which contains so much goodness and wonder.

But before that happens, I need to say goodbye to the legacy of dreams my mother gave me.

Let go. Some realities are more magical than dreams.


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Wonder 22



At what point along our way do we say, “This is the life we have chosen.” How much of our life have we chosen? Mae and I chose to move to Windenburg, all those years ago. It was my dream, really, and Mae chose to come along.

Mae chose to keep Charlie–and not to marry Paolo–and we both chose to raise Charlie together.

My career as a painter has developed as I’d dreamed–in fact, it’s surpassed my dreams. And now, I’m adding music to my life as another way to feel the joy of expression.

Mae’s writing career has developed more slowly. I don’t think she ever sat down and said, “I want to be a writer,” the way I said, at a very young age, from that point where heart meets will, “I want to paint! I am an artist!” Instead, Mae has had stories to tell, and she has told them.

I never see Mae worry about life and how it has unfolded. She just gets up each morning and lives, doing what needs to be done, finding time for what brings her joy.

Her engagement for creating change wraps itself around Charlie and providing for him contexts for thriving. A lot of her efforts have gone towards challenging the school district.

Right now, she’s upset because his A from primary school didn’t carry over to secondary. He’s starting at a B.


I heard her cursing under her breath the other day while checking Charlie’s grades through the Parent Portal.

“How can this be?” she said. “He’s already mastered these subjects ages ago!”

It’s not the grades we care so much about–it’s the free time they buy. Both of us want Charlie to be able to choose if he goes to school or not. If he’s in the midst learning to paint (which he is, right now), we want him to have the freedom to paint all night and into the next morning, rather than having to go to bed at a certain time in order to get up for school.

Once he earns that A, the Program allows him to use vacation, sick , and special excuse days to miss class if he’s working on other learning projects.


When he was a little kid, he loved school because it meant kickball. I half expected he’d grow up wanting to be an athlete, like his dad.

But lately, he’s showing a sensitive, introspective side to him.


He’s not expressing this through his art yet–he’s still experimenting with the medium and composition. But I’m excited to see what he creates as his mastery develops.


He’s become somewhat of a philosopher lately, and he’s been talking a lot with me about religious and spiritual ideas.

“I feel reverence is the greatest of all emotions,” he said to me.

“Reverence?” I asked. “Maybe I’d use the word awe. Or wonder. Or gratitude. But  different flavors of the same thing, right?”

“Right,” he replied. “And humility. Humility is important.”

He had me on that one. I don’t think I would ever have stuck humility on my top ten list of personal attributes.

“Where did you get humility?” I asked.

“From you and Mae,” he said. “I mean, think about it. You’re one of the best artists in all of Windenburg. Maybe even one of the best living artists. And do you ever even talk about what you’ve accomplished? You talk about art, but you don’t brag.”

“Oh,” I deflected, “That’s just part of mastering something. You’ll see. As you work through the discipline of gaining skill, then as you work to let what wants to be expressed be expressed through you, you’ll see that you disappear. I bet you already notice that in your music. I’m sure you do. I can see it. So, it’s not so much humility, as it is surrendering yourself to what is greater than you–the art.”

“That’s humility,” he said, and he turned back to his journal.


How much of life do we create, and how much does life create us? It’s all surrender: learning anything, moving through a day, raising a child, letting life move through you, responding to the universe as this tiny planet travels along its spiral path. It’s all surrender, and that’s where we find ourselves.


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