About what matters

Writing about what really matters

Month: February, 2014

Peacocks put themselves out there

The writer

I had no idea why I’d started saving images of peacocks and peacock feathers, but I was sure it meant I’d be making a SoulCollage card that featured them. Today’s writing prompt on a blog I follow was illustrated with a peacock, which prompted me to pull out my peacock images and figure out what to do with them.

I did so with some apprehension, as peacocks have gotten a bit of a bad rep. I noticed that not only were my images of peacocks, but some also featured mirrors. I am not Dutch, but I grew up in a Dutch-American community with a strong Calvinist bent. Clearly some of the culture has stayed with me, because as I looked at these images, I noted that peacocks (never mind peacocks gazing into mirrors) certainly weren’t very Dutch. What in the world was this card going to be about? Vanity? Pride? Yikes!

To my surprise, my collage turned out to be about the self-revelatory nature of being a writer–or at least a writer of personal essays. I’ve been somewhat introspective all my life, but I haven’t exactly put the results on display. Until now.

I think the message of this card is that when you reveal yourself with the intention of benefiting others, it’s a beautiful thing. Even if it’s not very Dutch.

Note: If you’re unfamiliar with Dutch-American culture, a couple of stories to illustrate. Growing up, I had a Dutch friend who made her own clothes. Although they were invariably plain, she seemed to worry about their being too fancy, and would often subtract details in order to get them just right. (Only the Amish would have been able to find anything fancy about them.)

A Dutch couple we knew had dinner with their best friends one night. The next day, the wife went to the hospital and delivered twins (who were adults when I was a child). This came as a surprise to their friends, who hadn’t realized she was pregnant. The couple themselves hadn’t  expected twins, and had only a single girl’s name prepared, Mary Frances. This wasn’t a problem. The twins became Mary Frances, and Frances Mary.

Discretion, economy, and nothing too fancy. What you might call the opposite of peacocks.


Time to go … or is it?

Time to go

Lately I’ve been feeling tremendous willingness for change in one area of my life–namely my work situation. I made this SoulCollage card this past week as a subtle hint to the Universe … it’s called ‘Time to go.’ When I read the card, though, its message was a little different …

The owl says:

I am one who is wise. I am one who is above it all–above the fray. I will watch over you–I will be with you. You are capable of loving even while all this is going on.

The woman says:

I am one who sees clearly. I am one who is preternaturally calm–like you.

The card says:

What I have to say to you about your current situation is: Be patient. The time is not yet. Good things are coming, but they are not here yet.

Time is of the essence, and also truly irrelevant.

There is more work to be done. You are a witness–an important one. A protector of the weak and helpless. You are not helpless–and therefore you are important.

I do not know what it is about you …


(i do not know what it is about you that closes
and opens;only something in me understands
the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)
–e. e. cummings

In honor of Valentine’s Day, a little love poetry. Have a lovely Valentine’s Day weekend!

This post is illustrated with a SoulCollage card I made called Marriage.

A hopeful heart


Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. –Hebrews 11:1

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all

And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –

I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.
–Emily Dickinson

For the past few days, I’ve felt hope swelling in my heart, and in its wake, peace. I’m not yet entirely sure what it means, but neither do I need to know at this moment. For now, it’s enough simply to welcome it. When the time is right, all will be revealed.

This post is illustrated with a SoulCollage card I made today to represent my 4th chakra companion, a joyful bird, but also to celebrate Hope, that thing with feathers.

Just a little different


If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be. –Maya Angelou

Here’s a SoulCollage card I made this week to represent being just a little different, something I’m being reminded lately that not everyone appreciates.

When I came across the full-page image of a streetful of sheep awhile ago, I knew I’d hit SoulCollage gold, and have just been waiting for the right image to put with it. When a new O Magazine with a portrait of a wide-eyed baby zebra arrived, I knew I’d found it.

Growing up fundamentalist, I was provided with lots of opportunities to be different. No TV, so no idea what the Dukes of Hazzard or Starsky & Hutch got up to last night. The ever-present skirts and Little House on the Prairie long braided hair certainly stood out as well. I minded perhaps as little as anyone could; my younger sister deeply resented having her ability to conform taken away from her. It would be very fair to say that my elementary and junior high school classmates tended not to appreciate differences. I wasn’t sure why–other than, you know, survival value–one would want to blend in.

When I majored in English in college, I took a survey of Victorian literature, and came across another view of being different. I think it was John Stuart Mill’s. The idea was that simply being different was a public service, lighting the way for others by demonstrating that it’s perfectly possible to strike out on your own, rather than follow the crowd.

Wow–I wasn’t just an oddball, I was performing a public service! I latched onto this view and have never let it go.

If you are, like me, just a little different, John and I raise our glasses to you, and thank you for your public service.

Blooming in darkness


It’s become utterly clear to me as I’ve gotten older is that timing is everything. I know now that I must wait for the timing to be right, but I can’t say I always enjoy the process.

This is a SoulCollage card I made last year to represent Patience, and thriving even in non-ideal circumstances as I wait for better ones to flow to me. It’s hard to accept and yet absolutely a fact of life that what goes up must come down. The birth/death/regeneration cycle is an inescapable part of the deal. I’m always mindful when, say, someone is praising me to the skies, that the person won’t always be as high on me as they are at that moment. I know all of this, and I feel somewhat prepared for the inevitable.

Still, the down cycle, the Winter of life, can be difficult to welcome with open arms. But it is without doubt a necessary and integral part of the cycle that yields the things that I am able to welcome without reservation–the Spring of life, the birth of new and beautiful and joyous things.

Here’s a new reading of my Patience card from last night …

I am one who knows how to be patient, waiting for my time to act and be heard. That time is not yet, but it is soon–very soon.

I am one who blooms in darkness–the dark of Winter. I am one who knows what it is to be cold–and also how to warm myself at my own fire.

What I have to say to you about your current situation is that it will end–Spring will come. What I have to say to you is: Be patient, it will pay off. That is all.

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