“I’ve never been a very prolific person, so when creativity flows, it flows. I find myself scribbling on little notepads and pieces of loose paper, which results in a very small portion of my writings to ever show up in true form.” —Kurt Cobain

Hello, lovely bluebirds! 

It’s been awhile…truly too long. I have some things to admit to you, and I feel guilty about it. Y’all have been here for me, in a way, since the beginning of The Lyon’s Roar. If you’re still here—still listening—I want to apologize for my lack of writing (or should I say sharing). 

I have been extraordinarily busy. And it pains me to say that I haven’t been busy creating, sharing, or crafting artwork. I’ve simply been outside and working. 

And spending time running outside, racing and riding. With the dog. Spending time with my love and with my original first love…my dad! He came to Montana to surprise me, and we had a delightful weekend talking, spending time on the river, eating croissants, and hiking around with the dog. I miss my family, a lot. This morning as I was running with Susan on the river trail, I realized just how beautiful the solitude of morning is. It was raining lightly and beautifully, like tears of joy. I arrived home to a pot of freshly brewed coffee and a day of possibility ahead. I think that’s what God is and means, at least to me. It means that every moment leads up to another, but still retains its own beauty and infinite meaning. And nothingness can be just as pleasant. But family always creates moments that have meaning–big meaning. So does movement. And rest. That’s God…always in flux. 

photo-39It’s been a crazy few weeks. I am now a sponsored runner, so that means I spend all my spare time exercising or making a dedicated effort to recover and eat. It requires a lot of planning…running does. In order for me to perform at a level I need to, I need to plan things out better than I am used to doing. But it’s all paying off! I finished a 50 mile race and the Missoula Marathon within 3 weeks of each other, and the Butte 100 mountain bike race and the Bozeman Marathon are coming around the corner. I am feeling stronger and faster as the weeks go by. Thanks so much to Le Petit Outre and MT Alpha for making all these adventures a possibility for me to succeed and share my love of endurance sports! It means the world for me to run or bike with someone else in mind as motivation. 

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Thanks to Black Coffee Roasters for the awesome Toddy coffee to get me up and at ‘em at 4:00 a.m. at the Trail Rail Run! 

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And, the garden is blooming in full force, despite all the weeds that I don’t have the time to pull! I’ve been eating a bowlful of raspberries and kale/basil salads almost every day. Soon we will have peas and grapes and more tomatoes. And peppers! Fuel for adventures. 

IMG_2022A poem that I often forget about, but that I somehow always find my way back to at the perfect time: 

 

SELF-PORTRAIT

by David Whyte

It doesn’t interest me if there is one God 
or many gods.
I want to know if you belong or feel 
abandoned,
if you can know despair or see it in others. 
I want to know 
if you are prepared to live in the world 
with its harsh need
to change you. If you can look back
with firm eyes, 
saying this is where I stand. I want to know
if you know 
how to melt into that fierce heat of living, 
falling toward
the center of your longing. I want to know
if you are willing
to live, day by day, with the consequence of love 
and the bitter
unwanted passion of your sure defeat.

I have heard, in that fierce embrace, 
even the gods speak of God.

 

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I think God shows up when I win races, or when I lose them. He shows up when the dog miraculously returns smiling from a journey away from home during a thunderstorm. He shows up when people decide to change their lives for the better. He comes in a father’s smiling eyes. A raspberry’s ripening and a sunflower’s bursting. In you. Me. 

He’s there. 

Days We Would Rather Know.

by Michael Blumenthal

There are days we would rather know 

than these, as there is always, later, 

a wife we would rather have married 

than whom we did, in that severe nowness 

time pushed, imperfectly, to then. Whether, 

standing in the museum before Rembrandt’s “Juno,” 

we stand before beauty, is a question that makes all beauty 

suspect…and all marriages. Last night, 

leaves circled the base of the gingko as if 

the sun had shattered during the night 

into a million gold coins no one had the sense 

to claim. And now, there are days we would

rather know than these, days when to stand 

before beauty and before “Juno” are, convincingly, 

the same, days when the shattered sunlight seeps

through the trees and the women we marry

stay interesting and beautiful both at once,

and their men. And though there are days

we would rather know than now, I am,

at heart, a scared and simple woman. So I tighten 

my arms around the man I love, now 

and imperfectly, stand before “Juno” whispering 

beautiful beautiful until I believe it, and—

when I come home at night—I run out 

into the day’s pale dusk with my broom 

and my dustpan, sweeping the coins from the base 

of the gingko, something to keep for a better tomorrow: 

days we would rather know that never come. 

 

J. 

 

Reasons to Wake Up [Smiling] in the Morning.

Hello, bluebirds! 

It’s been awhile! I’ve been busy. Between scampering around town with B and Susan and jumping back and forth from Lolo to Missoula every day, I haven’t been giving my writing or my readers the diligence they deserve. 

I thought I would come out and say some things about a few things…things that you’ve probably noticed already (I hate the word things, and I just used it four times). You might have noticed that I am no longer an Editor or a Featured Author for Elephant Journal. This is true. And while it was a hard decision to cut my ties with Elephant Journal, it was the right decision. It was too hard to work 80 hours a week, giving each of my jobs less energy and attention than I felt they deserved—and, giving my loves B and Susan less energy and time than they deserve. I felt like a ghost in my own home, waking up at 6:30 to edit, running, and then leaving at 1 to take care of ranch things. Too much. That being said, I truly miss being a part of the Elephant community and wish for them nothing but blessings and love. 

Right now, I am eating my yogurt and English muffin and chugging coffee. It’s a ranch day, as are most days, but this weekend B and I are going into a retreat. It will feel good to get some thinking, meditating, and running in with him (though I think I meditate most of the day while I feed horses, weed gardens, chop wood, carry water, scoop horse poop). There is nothing more zen than riding horses and taking care of them, I don’t think. The sun in the morning and evening hits their springtime coats at just the right angle to make them sparkle as they eat their hay. 

Yesterday B and I ran errands and basked in the sunshine with the dog, watered the garden. We looked at mountain bikes. I found a rad Salsa mountain bike…still contemplating getting it to race on with MT Alpha this year, though I might vote in favor of just running, climbing, and riding road bikes this season. I have a hard time acquiring something so shiny and excessively nice and expensive and not feeling guilty about it. It’s so beautiful here in the summer that I would probably be content just hiking and running around all day and never owning a mountain bike again! I miss fighting fire during this time of year, but not as much as I miss summer. 

I’m going to go read the newspaper and get ready to head to Lolo. Talk to you soon, lovely bluebirds! 

J. 

Some recent randoms: 

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Hearts are Citadels.

“We are like children building a sand castle. We embellish it with beautiful shells, bits of driftwood, and pieces of colored glass. The castle is ours, off limits to others. We’re willing to attack if others threaten to hurt it. Yet despite all our attachment, we know that the tide will inevitably come in and sweep the sand castle away. The trick is to enjoy it fully but without clinging, and when the time comes, let it dissolve back into the sea.” 
― Pema Chödrön

 

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Feeling Older. Day 21.

Good morning, bluebirds!

It’s been three weeks since I left Missoula…since I started a journey of intense self-love and cleansing. All I can say right now is that I feel more true, more happy, more healthy, and more able to just be without self-judgment or fear of being judged by others. I feel loved in a way that is sustainable and shows promise of being that way for a long time. I feel enlightened with opportunity. I am excited to move back to Montana this weekend, and I am giddy with the thought of romping around with my dog and seeing my beau—this time with a new intention in mind. I am excited to live in a new and beautiful home, to meet new people, and to visit the home I left three weeks ago. I am running faster than I ever have been able to. I am writing more. I am laughing more. I am comfortable sitting with myself for a long time. I have been meditating more. I want to grow a garden.

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And, right now, sitting in southern Utah and editing with coffee in hand and the sunrise tiptoeing over the jagged, vermillion horizon, I have made a few realizations; I feel they come from a place of clarity and purity that I can usually only see from the tippy tops of mountains or deep in the depths of desert:

Nothing is more important than keeping yourself healthy and happy. And second to the importance of that is loving others in a true and authentic way…a way that doesn’t diverge or waver from a straight path of honesty, openness, and caring. You do what you have to do for the people you love. You are loyal. You are honest. You are healthy. You are passionate, but not too much. You are patient, but you are not lazy or ignorant. 

Simply put: You go the distance for yourself and for the people you love. Yourself. Your family. Your lover. Your friends.

It’s never too late to open up, to save your own life, to save someone else’s life. To figure things out. To grow, learn. To be kind to yourself, dear.

I mean, it took these cliffs millions of years. Today I feel older, wiser, smarter, happier than I did three weeks ago.

I am happy. In love. Alive.

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Your Wild and Precious Life.

“You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body 
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.” 
― Mary Oliver

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Missing Montana and Others.

Hi, bluebirds. 

I am working right now, in Idaho. I had a beautiful, warm run outside today, and now I am cuddled up with about 20 articles to edit and a big cup of tea. Right now there’s a big, open space in my heart…one that can’t really be filled. 

I am struggling right now. I am struggling in being away from the love of my life and my puppy and my home. And more than that, I am struggling with not knowing how long it will last. Or if it will ever be the same. I am struggling with communicating the way I feel. I am struggling because I can’t be heard. Most of all, I am struggling with regret. I wish I could turn back time, to a few months ago, and change some things. Change the way I act, the way I think, the way I trust, and the way I react. 

It’s hard to have a big hole in your heart. It’s hard to love someone and to feel like they don’t want to love you back again. It’s hard to forgive, but it’s harder to wonder if you’ve been forgiven. It’s hard to let go and let someone just be when you spent every waking moment with them. It’s hard to create space when you have nothing else to fill it with. It’s hard to be told that you need to stop communicating when your only way of expressing feeling, care, love, worry is with words. I am a woman made of words, and right now they have no place. They live in that hole. 

It’s hard to not know when someone will decide to open up again and let you back in. It’s hard to hear that it could be days, weeks, months, or years. The hole gets bigger. I wish I could hear, “In three months, it will all be okay and I will love you again and we can pick up the pieces.” It’s hard to want to give yourself to someone so fully and completely–and they don’t want you. It’s hard to be rejected two years in a row. Every Spring. It hurts. It hurts to wonder if the love of your life will find someone better, newer, or more exciting to replace you…to make a new life with. To go to Nepal with. To learn with. To have coffee with. To make love with. To grow your garden with. To play with your dog. To paint your house new colors with. To ski with. To build temples and gardens and world with. 

It hurts to wonder if they will forget you, refuse to work with you, refuse to give you another chance to dazzle, to bewilder, to trust, to love, to laugh with him. I can do it again, I promise. But it hurts to not be believed. It hurts to say, “I will never treat you like this again,” and not be believed. 

I am trying to learn. Trying to be peaceful with myself. Trying to feel the sun. I haven’t seen many mountain bluebirds lately. I fear sometimes that they are leaving me too. 

Sometimes I just wish I had someone to feel that sun with me. I used to. And I don’t know if I ever will again. 

Sometimes I see people who are in love–and not obviously in love. They are sustainably and truly in love. I had that, I thought. I don’t know what happened. I hope and pray every day that it will come back, or that I will at least know when or if it will come back soon. 

We all have to have something to hold on to, I guess. 

J.