Saturday, December 31, 2011


Penn and me yesterday, on a coffee date with Lis. Photo by Lis.

Last week, with a little nudge from a friend, I decided to choose “miracles” as my word for the year. As soon as Julie suggested it, I felt pulled by the word—intrigued, delighted, nervous. It fit well. There’s a lot behind that word for me, and I sat down to write about all of it this afternoon, but I got overwhelmed pretty quickly. There are so many miracles from this past very difficult year, so many people who were involved in creating those miracles or in helping me to see them. But it’s my word for the whole of next year, so I have a feeling I’ll have plenty of opportunity to write about it—no need to get it all out now.

Still, as I wrote and wrote and tried to spin out all the threads of all the miracle stories from my year, one little story popped out at me, so that’s the one I’ll tell you now. Maybe I’ll tackle each story in its time—little piles of straw waiting to be spun into gold.

But this one is about Penn, Lis’s (and Troy’s!) amazing, beautiful little boy (the toddler behind Toddlerblog over there, for those of you who are new here). And I think this story says just about everything you need to know about what it is I'd like to invite into my life by choosing this word.

The morning after I ended my marriage, I moved out of my home and into Lis and Troy and Penn’s spare bedroom. They welcomed me wholeheartedly. Penn and Lis greeted me at their door, and Penn was clearly concerned and full of questions. He wanted to know why I didn’t want to live with B. any more, and I had to tell him that was a really good question, and it deserved a really good answer, but I wasn’t sure how to explain it to him just at that moment, and would it be okay if I thought about it and gave him an answer later?

And he said yes, and then he asked me if I was still sad (Lis had told him I would be, and he could see I’d been crying), and when I told him yes, he came over to me and gave me a hug that made me cry even more. Because the hug he gave me was not, in any way, the hug of a not-quite-four-year-old child. It was the hug of a soul-level friend, a friend who understood at the deepest level that I was hurting. It was the hug of someone who was caring for me in exactly the way I needed to be cared for in that moment, and it was easily the most awe-inspiring, miraculous hug I’ve ever been given.

Friday, December 30, 2011

•river sticks•

Plink, plank, plunk, go the blueberries in my memory.  (Pail, bush, Maine.)  So, too, go the stones into the river of January.  Smooth and strange weights of observation, and choice.  Who doesn't love a skipping rock?  Berry of the sea, blue on its way to the bottom.  

(Join us in writing every day in January!)  xox

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Small Stones Blogroll Update

Alright, Small Stones participants. As it turns out, I'll be putting together the blogroll for the whole event--not just a little blogroll here at HAMAMA (though, maybe I'll do that as well? we shall see...) The blogroll for the entire event can be found at the Writing Our Way Home blog.

If you're planning to participate by writing small stones on your blog during January (either on your regular blog or one that you create specially for this project) and you'd like to be added to the blogroll, please send me a brief email with your URL at this address:

Thanks, and happy noticing and writing!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Join Us in the Magic River?

(More from me later, with any luck, but I wanted to be sure to post this now, since the New Year and the new River of Stones are almost upon us!)

Last year, Lis and I decided (totally on the spur of the moment, as is our half-assed wont) to participate in the River of Stones project. All during the month of January, we each wrote a stone a day (more or less--we did pretty well, actually). A "stone" is nothing more than a moment you've taken the time to really notice and record, in the simplest, most straightforward way.

Technically, a stone is not meant to be long--in fact, by definition, the more carefully and specifically one's words are chosen and the more directly to the point one's stones are, the better. But honestly, Lis and I tend to bend the rules a bit, because really, for us the point is the noticing, the being present, the taking the time each day to write something. Some days I was really inspired by the challenge of whittling my stone as closely and sharply as possible. Other days, I found I had something I really needed to get out on the page just as it hit me, extra details and all.

If you want to see our stones from last year (both from January and some we wrote in July and other times through the year), you can sort on the "aros" label in our tag cloud down the left-hand side of the Half-Assed bloggle here. (Or, you know, I could do it for you.) And if you want to participate this year, consider this: You do not need to think of yourself as a writer. You do not need to have a blog. You just need a desire to spend at least one moment each day grounding yourself in the present, finding your center, and really using your whole self to notice something fully--and then to write down that moment of noticing.

I always risk sounding like an overenthusiastic loon when I describe the effect that ongoing creative commitments like this have on me, so let me just leave you with the assurance that this one tiny act each day can create all kinds of magic in your life. The more you do it, the more magical it becomes. Want to join us in the River? Get more information here or here.

And if you're a reader here (regular, new, whatever! be our friend!) and you plan to participate in this, leave us a comment here to let us know, would you? For one thing, we want to go and read your stones! For another, I may actually get my act together to create a blogroll of our own little community of small stone writers (the larger project won't have a blogroll this year, since this has gotten way bigger than makes sense for a blogroll).

One of the nicest things about last year was finding other stone writers and communicating with them. And even though life got kind of overwhelming and hard for much of this year, and I've been very bad at keeping up regular contact with the lovely people we met last January, that doesn't mean I don't still have all your blogs bookmarked for reading when I can get myself back to regular blog reading. And for sure, this project inspires me to check in with people each day to find out what their own small stone moments were all about.

Friday, December 16, 2011


My next door neighbor stopped by my back door just before dusk. I opened the door and sat down on the threshold to visit. He lay down next to me, rolling over to make it easier for me to pet him. I scratched his chest and head and held his warm paw. When I'd get lost in thought and my fingers would stop working for too long, he'd forsake his blissed out snoozing and lick my hand politely--just once; a gentle doggy reminder to focus on the important task.

We sat like that for a long time, watching the wind in the pine tree and the willows, and the stars lighting up the deepening dark, and listening to flocks of geese trumpeting their way south.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

•trading awesome•

This morning, while engaging in our usual cuddle-on-the-couch routine (Penn with his milk and I with my eggnog'd coffee--which is a little GBG, as my chum Doris would say, Good But Gross), I suggested we each come up with two things that are awesome. A trading of thanks. I went first, with the fact that Penn actually liked the soup I made last night, in spite of a firm recent stance against soup in general. He countered, and offered his Lego-sticker-starwars book. Admitting that was indeed awesome (it's amazing how almost anything with printed words on it becomes a teaching tool these days), I added my second. Penn's grandparents, who thought of him when they saw that m̶o̶n̶s̶t̶r̶o̶s̶i̶t̶y̶ book, and mailed it. So far, so good, I thought! We were snuggled up under Soft Blanket, drinks in hand, gazing at the lit (but as-yet untrimmed) tree. What a delicious way to share a bit of gratitude, and start off the day with a smile. Yes, those were my dewey thoughts. Then Penn went and tipped the scale. Your turn, I nudged. "I awesome this couch," he said. And there it was. The language, the tenor--the very name of our new tradition. I swooned a mommy-swoon. There's nothing like a new practice, especially if it involves someone who will bend and tweak the practice until, in some curious and surprising way, it becomes the kind of valuable you'd only ever read about in books. Kinda like this very blog. I awesome this blog... and I awesome my Amy. Can't wait for the next awesomeing. Can't wait, even, for the rest of this day. xox
I awesome my friend Genevieve, who harbored me in Atlanta for four grounding days at the start of this month. We laughed at everything, including a pile of pine boughs on the sidewalk.