Water & Waves

I have never lived next to the ocean; however, I have heard countless tales of its song lulling the restless to sleep. Tonight, the pitch black, Montana, October sky carries a high wind warning. I have braved its gusts to decompress from a rough day listening to her windy-melody from underneath our trusted cottonwood. Our hot tub provides both my sanctuary and my escape. Tonight, I need both.

Growing up, I was a pool rat. Daily, Emily and I would work in the garden/greenhouse from 8-11, head across the street to our home to eat lunch and change in time to ride our bicycles to the city pool opening promptly upon the noon whistle. We learned early on both the need for hard work and the simple pleasures of water. When we were not at the pool, we played in the waters of the muddy Clark’s Fork having spent our morning harvesting beans, tomatoes, squash, and pumpkins for Farmers Markets and local restaurants to later perfect into delicacies. There was seldom a day I did not receive a replenishing dip or dive.

Tonight, I am too aware the weather is changing. The leaves carry the weight of fall and soon each will plummet to its winter resting place. I sit, unwilling to let go. Not of the season, but of my thoughts.

October 20th is the National Day on Writing. The #whyiwrite is used both to celebrate and promote the event. All summer, I have struggled to find the right moment, the right words, to post my blog. It is odd how in reflection, moments do not seem as intense as while you are surviving them. A few weeks ago, when visiting with a co-worker who was unaware of Josh’s story, I simply said “it is what it is” and kept moving. I have reflected on the moment and regret my unwillingness to show vulnerability as a result of my pseudo-professionalism. Regardless of my daily struggle to use authentic voice, each year on this date, I take the time to return to the text that prompted my initial love and urgency for writing…

I write

reflecting on who I have been

who I am today and

who I will be tomorrow.

For everything

has a purpose.

I fear

I hope

I regret

I doubt

I write

striving for grace

in my most ungraceful

moments of living.

I start the school year by sharing Donald Murray’s introduction to his memoir Crafting a Life. I ask students to reflect by writing their own introductory response centered on two questions:

1) Why do you write?

2) Where do you see yourself in a year?

This introductory writing invitation gives me a glimpse into the complex individuals who will be members of a singular classroom community. I am always curious to see where my students will take their writing. But, in the same sense; I am just as curious to see where the writing and year will take me. This year, I chose to be honest and vulnerable. I shared with my senior class that I didn’t know where I would be in a year. Before this year, I never would have been that open with my students. I have an odd feeling in my stomach even now as I reflect on it, but I know it’s not any less real of a statement. Teaching is emotionally, mentally and physically draining. But, although there are moments when I do not love my job, at the end of the day, teaching is what I love to do. I hope in a year I will still be here. I hope in a year, each of my students will still be with us.

As those of you who follow the blog know, it was crafted out of my initial “Why I Write” post. This prompt has been the structure for each posting and is what holds the blog’s unified form. Still, each time I read Murray’s original essay, I find myself in a new place. Even as I reflect on a full year of blogging for a public audience, I realize it is not that things have changed, only shifted.

In the text, Murray cites Berethelme’s advice to “write about what you are most afraid of.” This year as a part of our freshman orientation we were asked to share what we are most afraid of. For the seemingly standard icebreaker, I found a fitting stereotypical response, not to open not too risky, but just enough to feel like I shared. One of my colleagues shared that her biggest fear was that something would happen to her child. I felt like a jerk. The more I analyzed my response, the more recognized I didn’t want to admit that was my fear. Why is it when we live out our worst fears that we are so afraid to recognize they still frighten us?

This is still my fear.

Perhaps that is our truest gesture in life, to fear that we will lose something or someone. Today, I was reminded of how quickly we can lose those we love. Why does it take a moment of crisis to remind me how much there is to live for? Now, hours later, I question my fear, but know it does not make it any less real. How do people balance the fear of the unknown with the knowledge that we are but pawns? Days like today I find myself searching even more for grace.

Earlier this summer we found out Emma was exposed to a blood-born pathogen. As the social worker explained the risks to me, I felt my head spinning – caught between fear and hope. It was too real of a memory to hear words, frozen holding my cell phone to my ear, not knowing how their meaning would dictate the life of my innocent child. We waited a full week, holding our breath, unable to do anything but hope and pray. One call brought good news and our week of worry turned from fear into another story to tell of trial.

On dark days, I think back to the moments of sunshine I have experienced from water’s warmth. On a September evening at 4:00 it was still 87 degrees. There was no wind and my view of the pale blue sky was framed by cottonwood and linden leaves. I loved the sunny view from the hot tub. Water, especially warm water, is my happy place. I think part of why I like it so much is because it still feels refreshing to be able to be here. I look around and wonder how all I have is possibly true.


can not be a crisis.

Each embrace

can not be received

as our last.

I am grateful for life;

yet, we are but mortal.

I treasure moments for

our time is but an instant.

You bring life joy

and hope for tomorrow.

Your strength reminds

me of the need to

be strong. Your fight

tells me to never


I am sorry for the times

I have hurt you,

I have turned from you,

I have let you down.

I am thankful for

your love,

your kindness,

your forgiveness.

Thank you for your patience.

Thank you for your grace.

Thank you.

You are part of my story.

You are a reason for

me to be here.

You are why I write.

2 thoughts on “Water & Waves”

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