Glimmer

Sunlight filters through the bedroom window, raining down like soft God kisses, tracing a golden outline along the edge of his russet-coffee curls, slipping over the contours of a sharp-angled jaw line, spreading like lover’s fingers over tanned, broad, shoulders and sloping down to narrow waist to catch the fold of white bed sheets over a masculine hip. His breath is an almost imperceptible gesture as he drifts from sleep to wake.

Awareness dawns. Slow, like the crawl of light into shadow, he shifts to face me, vestiges of dreams still clinging to his thick eyelashes, and to his soft lips, that late afternoon playground where old kisses linger like reluctant, yet satiated children called home to dinner.

This is the treasure moment. He opens his eyes and I see heavens and night skies in the glimmer of just-waking blues. If looks were words, this would be a passage I’d underline and transcribe for safekeeping. I am caught, and it’s like the feeling you have when everything has been stripped away, like the proverbial dream where you’re standing in front of an auditorium, giving a speech, and suddenly realize you’re naked. Except this time, the audience is not laughing; they’re gazing at me in awe and wonder – and I, simultaneously vulnerable and emboldened, think I might stand a little taller. It’s that kind of feeling.

This is the moment when he kisses me and means it. Not a quick peck. Not a ritual goodbye or goodnight. It’s a welcome to the day. It’s the burgeoning of love, like each morning is the first we’ve ever spent together, and here, in this fraction of a minute, there are only two of us in the whole world and we are protected, impermeable. There are a thousand ways to fall in love, but only one way to surrender – and that is: completely.

I surrender. In that glistening, golden moment, there is only surrender.

I always want it to last. But the day and the dog beckon, and, in a flash, it’s gone. I turn to my side and prepare for my own day while he is already out of bed and putting on clothes. I feel wistful for a bleary-eyed, heavy-headed moment, missing the thread of connection already.

I rise and exchange the slippers of melancholy for my solid, sturdy work boots and trudge out of the resurrection place, out to greet the day. I stop pining after glimmers and ghosts, knowing that the moment will return.

It will be back tomorrow.

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow.

::

This piece was written for a Bigger Picture Blogs Writing Circle, where a group of writers convene online, respond to a prompt, and share their words to receive collective praise and constructive advice. If you would like to join in, we have new dates available in October. Check out the details and sign up HERE!

 

Shared as this week’s Bigger Picture Moment

Once upon a time…

Note: New Writing Circles dates have been announced! Two new Fiction Writing (including one in which you can Bring Your Own Work!) dates hosted by yours truly in October! Check my sidebar or click here for details.

…I had a crush on a boy who was also a friend. We were in high school, and bonded over politics, sarcasm, epic long letters passed between classes, and a shared sense of ironic humor. I crushed on him hard and silently, but it must not have been too silent because one day, another friend of mine, Cole*, came up to me and told me the crippling news.

“He said he wishes you would get the hint that he doesn’t like you.”

Devastated and ashamed, I was. I never confronted my friend; I just licked my wounds in private. I took the hint and began to distance myself. If he wondered why I stopped writing, why we stopped talking so much, and why I wandered away, he never asked. If he was hurt by the fact that I put my wounded ego above our friendship, he never let on. I started dating someone else, and so did he. We graduated and went our separate ways.

Other than sending a few newsy catch-up emails, we probably haven’t given each other much thought in the years since. We each got happily married, and probably neither of us would change a thing in our lives. We are both good and we are fine.

Then one day recently, I had a dream and he was in it. I woke up, went to check Facebook, and found he (a man who rarely even uses Facebook) posted a major announcement on it. I congratulated him, as the situation warranted, and chuckled at the funny coincidence.

In passing, I mentioned the coincidence to my mother, and she said, “I still think he liked you,” as she is wont to do from time to time. I shook it off and said I doubted it, as I always do when she says this. Except this time, I finally told her the evidence I had to suggest he didn’t.

“Cole said that he had told him he wished I’d get the hint that he didn’t like me.”

She laughed. “Of course Cole said that.” And I nodded, because now that I think about it, it was pretty clear around then that Cole had liked me. (God, high school drama is dumb.)

Not for the first time, I wondered if I had an entirely wrong read on the situation.

Whether my friend liked me or not will probably remain a mystery, and that’s okay, because I’m happy and he’s happy, and none of that has one iota of bearing on my life now. The only reason I tell this story today is because sometimes it takes sixteen years to learn something.

And what I learned is this: I wish I hadn’t been so ready to believe I couldn’t be loved that I so quickly let a good friend go.

If I ever have a daughter, or if I could ever talk to yours, I would shout this from rooftops: Believe you can be loved.

Sometimes people hurt us. But sometimes, that’s okay because maybe there is a bigger picture. Sometimes, there’s something more meaningful than a passing hurt.

::

*Name changed to protect privacy.

Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy – the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”
~ Brené Brown

Each Thursday, we come together to celebrate living life with intention by capturing a glimmer of the bigger picture through a simple moment. Have you found yourself in such a moment lately? Share it with us! 

Live. Capture. Share. Encourage.
This week we’re linking up at Sarah’s!
BE SURE TO CATCH HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE PREVIOUS WEEK
And head there for your daily dose of creativity:
prompts for photos, for words, for inspiration,
and for a life lived mindfully!

 

The Melting Years {A Bigger Picture Moment}

My sister is thirteen years older than I am. When I was very wee, she played second mother to me, helping my parents feed, bathe, and clothe me. She helped babysit when my parents worked, in a way, sacrificing a good portion of her youth to take care of little me.

By the time I was old enough to develop a relationship with her that I could remember beyond snatches and glimpses, she was graduating high school, moving out, living with friends, and getting married. She was trying for babies while I was watching The Lion King.

Her first husband was a long story, so I’ll skip to the part where she moved back closer to family, where she has been ever since. But by the time this happened, I was the one moving out, going to college, and falling in love far away.

There was love. Always a tremendous amount of love between us, but little else in common with so many years, life experiences, and differences in the way. We would spend holidays together, with the whole family, laughing and joking. But we didn’t share thoughts, or clothes, or inside jokes like other sisters might, and neither of us likes talking on the phone. There were a few breaches in the age wall – like when she found a new man and started asking me for dating advice, and when I went through a major breakup for reasons much like her earlier divorce and I stayed with her for a week as I nursed my wounds – but still, 25 and 38 make for different people and different life phases.

But then she got remarried. And I got married. She had a second baby, and I was maturing enough to start playing aunt, albeit still from a three-hour drive away. I poured love into her babies as proxy for all the love I couldn’t express to her when I was younger.

And now she’s come to visit and I’m discovering there are no awkward pauses. No shuffling. No wondering what to say or what to do. I’m showing her my home in the country of her birth. I show her the markets and restaurants I love, and watch with a smile as she buys up more food than anyone can reasonably be expected to eat. I laugh as we both reach for the same purses, home decor, and hand-carved goods at the night market. We whisper back and forth about prices and conspire over whom to buy from and how much to bargain down.

We sit by the pool, sharing guavas and dreams, and I’m discovering 33 and 46 aren’t so different after all.

The years, they’re melting away.

*     *     *

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take,
but by the moments that take our breath away.” 
- Author Unknown 

 What moments stole your breath away this week? 

Each Thursday, we come together to celebrate living life with intention by capturing a glimmer of the bigger picture through a simple moment. Have you found yourself in such a moment lately? Share it with us! 

Live. Capture. Share. Encourage.
This week we’re linking up HERE!

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Finding All I Need

From time to time, we like to check in with each other, to see how we’re weathering this whole living in a foreign land thing. Are we homesick? Are we tired? Are we happy? Are we thrilled? It’s a periodic reaching out of fingers, past the daily and the mundane, to reconnect with the essence and the essential.

On New Year’s Day, Toby and I celebrated the first morning at the dawn of the year by sharing conversation over coffee and croissants. It was one of those rare carefree days where we had nothing in particular to do, nowhere in particular to be, and no one in particular to see. It was the kind of day where you could sip your coffee and feel the sun warm your face, lean back in your chair and experience the weightlessness of a moment where time ceases to matter.

It was a perfect time for checking in.

And he said to me that he learned something, in moving here to Thailand. He said he learned that all he really needs to be happy in life is his wife and his dog, and some friends to rock climb with from time to time, and that wherever I am is home.

{Pardon me while I swoon for a moment and fall in love all over again.}

It’s true; moving abroad strips you down to the core. You learn really quickly what is convenience, what is nicety, and what is necessity. In the tough moments, you expect you’d learn the worst of each other…but the truth is, you learn the best of each other. At least, I know I learned the best of him.

You’re home for me too, babe. You’re home for me too.

Each Thursday, we come together to celebrate living life with intention by capturing a glimmer of the bigger picture through a simple moment. To spice things up a little, during this month of FEBRUARY, we’re reflecting upon the tender gifts of love – however ordinary or extraordinary – that bring sparkle our lives. Share a picture, words, creation or list; just come to the table with LOVE in your heart. 

Live.
Reflect on the moments that shimmered in your heart.

Capture.
Harvest them!

Share.
Link up your gleaned moment this week at Melissa’sPlease be sure to link to your post, not your blog, and include our button or a link back to the host page. 

Encourage.
Visit some of the other participants and encourage each other in this journey we call life.

{Bigger Picture Moments} Dancing Under Wisteria

Photography by Kelly Segre Photography

It was after everyone had departed. The grounds were quiet. Guests had headed to their hotels to change or freshen up for the reception. Our photographers had taken all the shots they needed after the ceremony. Our wedding party had a few minutes to wander the gardens in the golden evening light, and we had a few minutes to bask in the glow of: yes, we are actually married.

Everything else melted away and it was just me and him, an untouchable two who had newly become one.

What a special feeling that is, isn’t it? You remember it, even years later: the warmth on your skin, the way he squeezed your hand extra tight, the radiance of colors, the effervescence of love. You’re so full of it, you’re positively thrumming. It feels impossible to fit that much happiness in one being all at once.

So we danced. We took strident, world-conquering steps together towards the wisteria arch, under which we were wed. And in the shade of fragrant, lavender blossoms, we danced. Coordinating our steps to the song in our hearts, he led with princely poise and I twirled down on Cinderella toes.

In the garden, in the quiet, in the glow, we danced.

Photography by Kelly Segre Photography

 

Each Thursday, we come together to share the harvest of intentional living by capturing a glimmer of the bigger picture through a simple moment. And to spice it up a little, during the month of FEBRUARY, we’ll be reflecting upon the tender gifts of love that bring sparkle our lives.

Share a picture, words, creation or list; just come to the table with LOVE in your heart. 

Live.
Reflect on the blessings that were apparent to you this week.
 
Capture.
Harvest them!

Share.
Link up your gleaned moment this week HERE! Please be sure to link to your post, not your blog. Your post must link back here or have our button in your post or the link will be deleted.

Encourage.
Visit at least the person linked before you and encourage her in this journey we call life.

 

what he was waiting for

August 2006

“Do you think he’s ready?”

“I don’t know. I don’t know how much more time it could take, how much more we could do to know if this is it or not. I just don’t know what he’s waiting for.”

——————————————————-

December 2006

Despite the chill in the air, we felt glowy and warm. We huddled in our thick jackets and caught a bus to the Christmas market, where we stood under blinking Christmas lights, sipped gluhwein, watched vendors selling fresh marzipan and nougat, and smiled at shoppers mingling with their little ones in tow. Christmastime in Berlin is nothing short of magical – especially to this southern Californian who finds snow a foreign element.

On Christmas Eve, we went to Mass and reveled in the triumphant music, and then Toby and I joined his family at their home for more caroling, gift giving, and holiday joy by their tree which was decorated so beautifully with real candles shining their cozy flame.

We each took turns opening our gifts and collectively appreciating each one, until finally there were none.

The air buzzed with a satisfied glow.

And then, Toby announced: “Well, I have do one more gift to give…”

Looking around at him, my pleasant surprise turned into a heartstop, the only part of me moving was the blood rushing to my face.

He was down on one knee.

He took my hand, cleared his throat, and said, “I had a speech all planned, but now I’ve forgotten it. Will you marry me?”

I burst into tears, grabbed him in an embrace, and cried very wet yeses into his neck.

His family applauded, though his dad was still unsure. “Did she say yes?” he wondered.

Yes, a thousand times, I said yes.

I guess he was only waiting for it to be magical.

 

This month, the gang at Bigger Picture Blogs is celebrating and sharing love.

Join in the fun at Hyacynth’s this week and share the love!

The Way We Met

…was a series of coincidences that might have easily gone any other way.

It was the first day of painting class in a bright, fresh new year at university. I spotted a guy across the room who I thought was so good-looking that…well, let’s just say, by the second day, I had my easel set up next to his. Nothing serious, of course. I did have a boyfriend at the time. Just, you know, when a girl’s gotta’ get her Muse on, it doesn’t hurt to have a nice view.

We chatted and made friendly. But nothing serious, ’cause, I did have a boyfriend after all.

One quarter bled into another, and then we had a different class together, but this time, he had a girlfriend too, and so all we exchanged were some hellos and a few blithe quips. Our worlds kept on going, always along the outer edges of each other’s orbits.

Then summer came along and I had plans to go to Thailand. And then he had plans to go to Thailand. At the same time. And we said, “We should totally meet up.” “Yeah, totally, we should meet up.”

And then we didn’t. Because it wasn’t ever anything serious at all.

And then, I moved into a new place and broke up with my boyfriend. He broke up with his girlfriend. Change was in the wind and I was a butterfly floating on top of it. I was walking to class with my friend, Sumit, and then I saw him.

“Hey, you went to Thailand! I went to Thailand!”

“Wait, yeah, that’s right!”

“We should totally meet up and share photos!”

“Right! We should!”

And we never exchanged numbers or addresses or dates. But after we parted ways, Sumit turned to me and said, “What was that?”

“What was what?” Except my blush coulda’ lit up a red light district.

And then, I was in the library and he was in the library, and I said, “Hey I’m in a new place. You should come over and we can share those photos.” And then we did exchange numbers and addresses and dates.

And then he came over. And then he kept coming over. And I said, “I just got out of a three-year relationship. I just want to keep things loose. No commitments.” “That’s fine,” he said. Besides, it was nothing serious. He was the type to have nipple piercings and tell stories about all the crazy stuff he got into…and I was so not.

But then I saw that he wasn’t that type at all, not really. I saw that if he was a type at all, he was the only one in it.

And then I didn’t want to keep things loose anymore, and I said, “I don’t want to see anyone else anymore. I just want to see you.” “That’s fine,” he said. “Nothing serious. It’s just I like you, is all.” That’s what I said. What I meant was I liked him enough not to want to let him go.

And then one day, he had to go to work, and I caught his hand. I might have squeezed my eyes shut so I wouldn’t see my voice shake. “I’m in love with you,” I said. “You don’t have to say anything back, I just –”

“Actually, I love you too.” And when I opened my eyes, I saw his bright blue eyes shining on me like I was his angel sent down to earth just for him. And I thought maybe I’d found my angel too.

Doin’ a little focus on love, for the month of February!
Share your love with us, this week at Alita’s!

P.S. And now we live in Thailand. Turns out it was pretty serious after all.

Pinnacle Moments

Welcome to the fourth edition of Pinnacle Moments! For those of you just joining us, Pinnacle Moments is a series where we share a defining moment in our lives…maybe it’s a day you had an epiphany, or made a choice or faced a circumstance that changed the course of your life, or realized something about who you are deep down, etc. Or it can even be about your sweetest romantic memory…a defining moment in your relationship with your spouse or significant other! Last week, Brook from Red Head Reverie had an incredible story of strength and hope to share. This week, the tale is one of my own. It wasn’t an easy time in my life, by any stretch of the imagination. It was a painful time, but it’s one which I remain forever grateful to have experienced.
 

Here’s my story:

Seven months and a chasm lay between us. He arrived on my doorstep, quivering with sorrow. His old ’76 Dodge Dart Swinger was parked in my driveway, and the car radio emitted a Coldplay tune as he stood with placards displayed in his hands. Each placard told me how sorry he was, and as the song played, he dropped them one by one to the ground, each one telling me the tale of his heartbreak.

When he finished, I grabbed a jacket and wordlessly headed out into the night. He walked with me into the inky darkness. No lights marked out path leading to the pier, where we sat together, suspended over a colorless abyss.

Into that inky black night, we trembled to speak Truth. In that space between sea and sky, we let forth all that had ever existed between us – three years of love, then pain, folly, betrayal – and we uttered admissions of everything we had once hoped we could be. We walked through fire together. It seared our very marrows, and we emerged, fragile, yet cleansed, like phoenixes rising.

Emptied, we walked back in silence. Questions loomed like cloaks over our heads. Could there be hope? Could there be trust? Could there be more and better a second time around?

In my head, I heard the voices of all who loved me warning me. Don’t be stupid. Don’t be weak. And I believed them. I was prepared to say, “Never again.”

But then we stood facing each other, like little more than children upon a precipe, separated by a living room suffused with fear.

And that’s when I felt it: a great huge invisible chain with a claw for a hook thrust itself physically into my navel and yanked me towards the man standing before me. There is no rational reason to believe it to be true, but I felt it snatch me from the inside and it left me breathless. Never in my life, before or since, have I so physically felt there might be truth to the word soulmate.

And that’s when I knew I was dealing with something larger than myself. There was no escaping loving this man with more than I ever thought I had. I could exist without him. Seven months apart had proved I could move on with my life and move forward and be okay. But there was no escaping the depth of love we had for each other. It was beyond reason – nothing more or less than simple Truth.

And that’s when I learned it’s not stupidity or weakness to forgive the ones we love. Rather, it requires courage and clear-headedness. It requires strength. The first step towards healing and redemption turned out to be…

…a leap of faith.

And I leapt. I married that man 3 years later, and this year we celebrated our third wedding anniversary.

A couple of days ago, we were sitting in a restaurant with my parents and my husband went to take care of something. As I watched him go, my heart smiled and I said, “I have a good husband.” My mother nodded, and said, “Yes, you do.”

We have more tales next week! If you wish to share YOUR Pinnacle Moment, just let me know. Hope to see you here again next Wednesday!

Pinnacle Moments {Queen Lucy}

Welcome to the second edition of Pinnacle Moments, where we are sharing our transcendent moments: times of utmost clarity, of profound decisions, and of deepest love! Last week, we read Cynthia’s story of community and inspiration (and divine brownies). This week, I would like to introduce you to witty and fabulous, Queen Lucy the Valiant. Pull up a squooshy, comfy cushiony chair, refresh your cup of coffee or tea and maybe snag some chocolate. You’ll need it for this tale that melts the heart!
 
From Lucy:
 

I rested my forehead against the airplane window and gazed out at a field of clouds, barely seeing them. It’s a short plane ride from Atlanta to Dallas, but my heart had been leaping and bounding for the entire trip. I was painfully, physically aware that I was hurtling towards the most important person in my world, and that I barely knew him. It was the most surreal feeling I’ve ever known, that unshakable conviction that we belonged together even though we’d only spent a week together a few months before. I felt like the bride of an arranged marriage, about to meet her groom for the first time, but no matchmaker or parent had arranged this. No matter how crazy it sounded, I knew with perfect clarity that God had. I didn’t question that but just then, struggling with my nerves in the airplane, I did question other things. Was I ready for this? Was he? Would the present reality of who I was match up favorably with his memory of that first week? What about the present reality of who he was? How could we be in love, really in love already? Was it all some elaborate dream? My nerves have never been stretched so thin, before or since that plane ride. Yet underneath it all ran that sweet, unshakable conviction that this was right.

Three months before, I had flown to Texas to spend my Christmas break with some friends. Not liking the sound of the guy I was currently dating (casually dating, I had stressed to him before I left, we aren’t exclusive. I’m not ready for exclusive right now.) they decided to set me up on a blind date or two over the break. They set up a date with a boy from their church, a boy I vaguely remembered seeing on a previous visit. (A boy, I found out later, who had tried to talk to me then because he thought I was pretty. A boy who occasionally saw pictures of me at this friend’s house and would say to himself, “I’m going to marry her. No, that’s crazy.”)

He’d called me to set up the date, and I laid in bed that night, plotting what to wear. Then the thought hit me with so much force that I sat up in bed – “I’m going to marry him.”

The next day he picked me up and took me to a movie (King Kong, and I cringed into his shoulder whenever those gigantic bugs came onscreen) and then dinner and then bowling and he showed me how to play pool, and checked me out in the nice way, not the creepy way. He took me out again the next day, and we kissed for the first time that evening. He’d always prayed that he would know the girl he was supposed to marry when he kissed her, he told me later.

We spent every waking minute together for the rest of the week, and the night I went back to school we talked for hours.

“This is kind of embarrassing,”  He’d said as I sat in the hallway of my dorm late that night. “I don’t want to freak you out. But I…told all my friends that I’m going to marry you.”

“That’s funny, I told all my friends that I’m going to marry you!” I laughed, happiness overwhelming me. And it had been as simple as that, just an accepted truth that we belonged together. Through marathon phone conversations we planned our future together. We discussed wedding logistics and discovered how much we had in common… religion, politics, how to make tuna sandwiches. We talked about careers and goals and babies and we knew we sounded crazy, but we didn’t care. When a relationship is not right, you know, deep down inside, even if you don’t admit it to yourself. But when it is right…it just is. Like gravity, or breathing air.

I hadn’t suffered any doubts or second thoughts until that plane ride from Atlanta to Dallas three months later, going down for Spring break, knowing that I would be going back at the end of the week with an engagement ring. Every doubt and fear was packed into those two and a half hours, and I barely had the courage to get up after every other passenger had left. It wasn’t the memory of those first kisses, or the impossibly wonderful conversations we’d had since, or the longing to see him again that gave me courage to move. It was that conviction that this was God’s plan. Fear and doubt and anxiety stripped everything else away, but that conviction stubbornly remained. I couldn’t argue with it or deny it.

I got up and exited the plane. I stopped at the restroom to fix my hair and makeup. I dragged my feet to the baggage claim. And there he was, waiting for me, wearing jeans and a t-shirt and great big construction boots, right off a shift at the warehouse where he worked then.

“Ohhhh.” Breathed that anxious internal voice that had been panicking for the past two and a half hours. “Him. I remember, he’s perfect.” I launched myself up into his arms and he held me against his chest, tighter than tight. And we have stayed that way ever since.

 

I don’t know about y’all, but my heart’s doing palpitations! Join us again next week for another edition of Pinnacle Moments. If you have a transcendental moment to share, let me know in the comments or email me. We’d love to hear your tale!
 

Pathangoh


When I saw the deep fried strips of dough, I just knew I had to have them. Pathangoh is kind of the Thai version of doughnuts (though they have regular donuts here too) that they sell in street-side food stalls and serve with steaming hot soymilk and various jellied or oat goodies in the milk. You can rip up the dough and dunk it in the milk for a tasty breakfast or dessert.

They remind me of my grandmother, who used to eat them every day, dunked in sweetened condensed milk. I went for the soymilk instead because, well, I choose life.

As far as the taste goes, I find them all right – nothing to write home about. But I love them for the memories of my grandmother, her soft, wrinkled skin, and her laugh.

Do you ever do that? Love something simply for reminding you of someone special?

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