Recent Articles

adventures in uselessness 

adventures in uselessness 

| September 18, 2016 | 7 Replies

Today I listen to Yo-Yo Ma play Bach’s cello suites and I dance around the kitchen. I have lived most of my hours aiming to be useful. The weight of that sometimes grows unmanageable. I am a dancer, but not a Dancer (if you know what I mean), so my body still remembers how to […]

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Parking lot 

Parking lot 

| August 19, 2016 | 2 Replies

Your life is a poem, Naomi Shihab Nye says in the podcast. You have known this to be true, even if lately the stanzas of your life look like unmetered scratches on a page. So write something, even if it is sad. Admit that even the pollen on the dashboard looks mournful to you: evidence […]

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Bigfoot and the Woman

Bigfoot and the Woman

| July 11, 2016 | 4 Replies

In the dream, Bigfoot is skulking through a cave, and the Woman is trying to stop him from getting out. She is old and clever and vital: a crone, a witch. She hunches herself into a hole in the cave wall so that she can attack him as he walks by. I don’t remember the […]

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clouds and wind

clouds and wind

| May 1, 2016 | 3 Replies

Today the sky is an apt metaphor. There is plenty of light to see, but clouds have covered over the blue. I look up and I give thanks, but my heart cries out for the color I love. On Friday I stood at my old beloved beach, Independence Park in Beverly. The sun was bright […]

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Monday morning prayer

Monday morning prayer

| April 4, 2016 | 6 Replies

Gracious God, please tell me again that I do not have to be Great. Tell me that breathing my way through the day is a triumph, that kindness is sufficient, that honesty is beauty. Good Lord, holy Mother/Father/Sister/Brother, please dwell in my overzealous shoulders and my weighty belly; please settle into my raw heart; please […]

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wrapped 

wrapped 

| March 28, 2016 | 3 Replies

Each moment is a gift. Sometimes it’s a broad-daylight, tromping-through-the-woods, birds-singing, dog-cavorting, husband’s-hand-in-mine sort of gift. Other times the moment doesn’t look like a gift at all. Sometimes it’s the ache of watching a friend suffer. Sometimes it’s an unexpected death or a life-changing diagnosis. Lately I’m learning that these moments are the most important […]

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life is a spell so exquisite, everything conspires to break it.

life is a spell so exquisite, everything conspires to break it.

| January 18, 2016 | 5 Replies

In honor of Martin Luther King Jr., here is a letter I wrote to myself in the fall.  _________ 22 October 2015 dear Hannah, Please remember the day you bought this card. It was July, and you were picking up gifts for Greg & Jamaica to thank them for Company. The colors of life had looked […]

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divine appointments & a tire rotation

divine appointments & a tire rotation

| January 17, 2016 | 2 Replies

Usually David takes Kenneth (our beloved little Prius-C) in for tune-ups, but on December 19th I made the drive to Peabody. Perhaps hearts open a little wider during the year’s darkest days. Even before I opened the car door I saw a light in the eyes of the man at the intake desk. “If you can figure out how to pair […]

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the marvelous mundane – part two

the marvelous mundane – part two

| December 12, 2015 | Reply

First, a fun fact. It’s unlikely that anyone remembers this, but the last time I wrote a blog with “part one” in the title, I never wrote a part two. (Don’t let it keep you up at night: I feel confident that “restoration – part two” will want to be written someday.) Now, a moment of self-congratulation. Woo-hoo! This time […]

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the marvelous mundane – part one

the marvelous mundane – part one

| December 9, 2015 | 2 Replies

Every day the counters are dirtied. Every night the bed is unmade. In dark seasons I can’t keep up, and I become Sisyphus, pushing the boulder up the hill only to watch it roll down again. No matter the season, I take comfort in doing the laundry. The hum of the washer; the warmth of […]

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candle or no candle

candle or no candle

| November 27, 2015 | Reply

I woke very early and eased my body out of bed.  The attic floorboards creaked beneath my careful feet. David slept soundly in the imperfect silence. The darkness of morning usually comforts me, but today uncertainty lay at the surface of my heart like scum on a lake. In several hours we’d be on a plane, headed toward our beloved family in crisis. We […]

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to be of service

to be of service

| November 11, 2015 | 2 Replies

On a whim, I joined Olivia at Rockport Unitarian’s service on Sunday. I had no idea the beauty in store. I’d already been thinking about what it means to give. Early in the week I listened and re-listened to this beautiful On Being interview with Adam Grant. Reading Give or Take was paradigm-shifting for me […]

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braiding my mother’s hair

braiding my mother’s hair

| November 4, 2015 | 4 Replies

Late on a Saturday morning I take my mother’s hair between my fingers and begin to braid. Mom doesn’t like it when hair falls into her eyes, and rotator cuff surgery has nixed her usual styling strategies. This turns out to be the number one thing I do to help when I visit: hair styling. Why do […]

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sublime chess game

sublime chess game

| October 12, 2015 | 1 Reply

For the third morning I wake very early. The silence of Rowley is thick and soft as a blanket. Today I do not even try to go back to sleep. I pull on my fleecy purple socks, tiptoe down the dark stairs, and light a candle in the kitchen. I boil water and scratch Thomas […]

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the willow and me

the willow and me

| October 4, 2015 | 1 Reply

I woke with a dozen tasks on my radar: curtains to hang, the office to organize, photo enlargements to order. We host our family next weekend, and I’d love to welcome them into a space that feels homey and cared-for. I’d also like to take a run today, go to the farmers’ market, and get our […]

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new home

new home

| September 13, 2015 | 10 Replies

Moving into David’s parents’ house was a no-brainer. We’d save on rent, have an easy commute to River Valley (where we’re both happily teaching now), and do Mark and Cheryl the favor of care-taking the homestead while they’re in Dallas. Okay, confession time: I’ve never wanted to live in a big house. I love rambling old New England farmhouses, but […]

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a good death

a good death

| September 4, 2015 | 7 Replies

Let me tell you how Gus the cat died. I promise later I will tell you how he lived. Our fifteen-year-old cat had been losing weight for at least a year, but in the spring he began to look legitimately thin. In early June his back legs began to malfunction. We picked him up to spare […]

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thank you, Tony Hoagland

thank you, Tony Hoagland

| July 26, 2015 | 4 Replies

I am standing in the doorway when I read Tony Hoagland’s poem. David and our niece and nephew are playing with toy cars and trucks and planes, and I’m about to join them. Jack sings gleefully to the tune of Black Sabbath’s Iron Man: “I am orange plane, orange-orange-orange, whack-whack-whack!” I didn’t expect Hoagland’s words to hallow […]

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this side of the street

this side of the street

| June 7, 2015 | 4 Replies

I sit outside the Atomic Cafe, watching Sunday glide by. I can’t count the number of times I’ve sat here like this: sipping tea and typing, my bike helmet resting on the tipsy metal table. Tomorrow the Atomic moves across the street, and I know the new location will be spacious and beautiful, but today I indulge my […]

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the kindness of Kim

the kindness of Kim

| March 8, 2015 | 6 Replies

The day I heard of Kim’s passing, I rode my bike to the beach and let the wind chill the tears on my cheeks. The pain came over me in waves all week long. I know her children far better than I knew Kim herself, and my heart ached to think of Sage, Lila, and Toby motherless. […]

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window

window

| February 3, 2015 | 10 Replies

The blue jay spread wide his wings and restored me to myself. The spare room is too cold for yoga, and the cat had spent the night scattering litter as far as he could across the floor, but one flash of blue in the small window could hallow the entire day. That’s how I want to live, […]

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repotted and it feels so good

repotted and it feels so good

| January 3, 2015 | 6 Replies

On the last day of 2014, I repotted our peace lily. Its leaves had been turning brown, one by one, despite my careful placement (indirect sunlight, the websites said) and watering (not too much). I finally decided that the plant was too big for its pot. Indeed, the roots seemed to sigh with relief as I shook them […]

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a walk

a walk

| November 25, 2014 | 4 Replies

As I walked from the bike shop to the Atomic Café, it occurred to me: I am carrying too much. I’d filled my backpack with enough work for four hours, but I only had 45 minutes till my guitar lesson. And a guitar to carry, of course. At the café I sipped my cup of tea. […]

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back-to-transformation

back-to-transformation

| September 26, 2014 | 9 Replies

September turns my heart to school. Not just the school where I teach now, but all the schools I’ve taught in and all the schools I’ve attended. In August, sales circulars paint a perennial picture of rosy cheeks, pigtails, and shiny lunchboxes. I appreciate pretty folders and fresh pens as much as the next person […]

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restoration: part one

restoration: part one

| August 16, 2014 | 3 Replies

In May of 2013, I unwittingly lost a glove from my bike basket on my ride to yoga class. When I discovered my loss, I stood in the yoga studio holding the lonely leftie, thinking how good and serviceable those gloves had been over many years. One glove was little use without the other. On my […]

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first year

first year

| July 5, 2014 | 6 Replies

One year ago, on a warm July morning, I woke up incredibly early to walk the beach. A few hours later I arrived in Rowley, Massachusetts, where a houseful of beloved women bustled. My mom and aunt Lisa sat on the couch finishing my sash while the rest of us put on make-up and jewelry. Soon I […]

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the duck thief

the duck thief

| June 19, 2014 | 4 Replies

A year ago a group of beloved friends spirited me away for a lakeside bachelorette weekend. Food, drink, sublime surroundings, and dancing in the kitchen . . . what more could a woman ask for? Well, I believe the best gifts are often what you’d never think to ask for. I’ll begin the story with an email exchange that took […]

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the inconvenient day

the inconvenient day

| June 7, 2014 | 1 Reply

Inconvenience is an invitation into the present moment. Some days I need to be invited repeatedly. The first time I took the laundry into the elevator on Thursday, I’d forgotten the bag of quarters. The second time, I found the washer in the 6th floor laundry room occupied, so I headed to the basement. In the basement I realized I […]

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another (brief) lesson in surrender

another (brief) lesson in surrender

| May 29, 2014 | 2 Replies

I have an hour till David comes home with our niece and nephew. An hour to clean up from lunch and water the plants and type the emails and make the phone call and maybe – just maybe – write the overdue blog entry. I love the way Ally and Jack take over our lives when we’re together. […]

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fruition

fruition

| May 17, 2014 | Reply

  Sometimes events you’ve been waiting for happen all at once. Thursday, May 15th was a day of great fruition. Early in the morning I began thinking of Suzanne, whose heart is so vast that sometimes I feel her love emanating from Massachusetts all the way out here in Kansas. The 15th was Suzanne’s 30th […]

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the intersecting space

the intersecting space

| May 12, 2014 | 4 Replies

When Cora asked me to help with Girls Group, I almost said no. For one thing, I earn money by teaching after-school yoga classes and voice lessons. Cora and her cohorts graciously offered to schedule the high school girls’ art group for my one free afternoon of the week, but I worried about missing an […]

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after the burning

after the burning

| May 6, 2014 | Reply

Here’s the guest post I wrote for my friend Catherine’s blog: some of the gifts of this challenging year in Wichita. http://catherineannehawkins.com/hannahs-in-between-guest-post/ Special thanks to James Nedresky for permission to use this photograph. Find many other breathtaking images of the prairies at his websites: http://www.jnedreskyprairie.com http://blog.jamesnedresky.com/?p=138

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my hands are dying

my hands are dying

| April 28, 2014 | 2 Replies

The luminous Catherine Hawkins was one of my husband David’s childhood friends. Catherine and I became close in the spring of 2012, when I sweet-talked her into a lead role in Hot Mikado. We’re guest blogging for each other this week. After you read her beautiful essay below, check out her blog! **** And for […]

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the meditation assignment

the meditation assignment

| April 17, 2014 | 5 Replies

Okay already. I’m going to write about meditation. The subject gobbles up a lot of my head-space lately, but I haven’t blogged about it for three reasons: 1. Meditating takes time. How does a person teach, meditate, eat, sleep, practice guitar, exercise, cook, revel in her husband and cat, and write blog entries? Whenever I commit to […]

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on mothers, hungers, and toast

on mothers, hungers, and toast

| April 1, 2014 | 8 Replies

When I get home from the airport, I’m hungry. I make a piece of toast and slather it with coconut oil, the way Mama does nowadays. I put it on the blue plate she left on the kitchen counter and sit in her spot on the couch. It’s my spot again. For days I’ve cooked […]

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walk, linger, love

walk, linger, love

| March 19, 2014 | 5 Replies

Vespa came to me in my dreams last night, wanting a walk. She wagged her tail and moaned her emphatic morning song, and off we went to greet the day. When I met Vespa in 2008, we were rehearsing Camilla’s a cappella group. The enthusiastic Italian spinone nuzzled her way into the circle of eighth […]

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wedding dresses and windows

wedding dresses and windows

| March 14, 2014 | 2 Replies

When you find your wedding dress, you want to feel beautiful. You want Yes to bubble up from the depths of your being. You want to hear trumpet fanfare as you meet your own eyes in the mirror. Alas, I was in too much pain to conjure fanfare that March morning in 2013. My body had […]

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meditations on a dented sedan

meditations on a dented sedan

| February 25, 2014 | 3 Replies

I cracked the car’s bumper last week. I was pulling out of an unusual spot in our parking garage and hit a railing. The unappetizing crunch left a sizable smudge of red paint. Two reactions emerged in such swift succession that it’s hard to say which came first. One was How could I? The other, Good […]

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in the game

in the game

| February 18, 2014 | Reply

We play dozens of games when we get together with Joy and the kids. We play Mario in our jammies; we pull out cribbage once Ally and Jack go to bed. If we’re lucky enough to have extra grown-ups on hand we play banana rummy and up & down the river. Splat is one of […]

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stay in tune (and other love advice from children)

stay in tune (and other love advice from children)

| February 14, 2014 | 4 Replies

Stuart the duck perched atop the valentine David made. I walked into the kitchen this morning to find all three of them (Stuart, the valentine, and David) grinning brightly at me. David and I like to make each other cards. Call it creative or call it frugal; it’s our tradition. Weeks ago we agreed to […]

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space for sadness

space for sadness

| February 11, 2014 | 8 Replies

Before I tell you about the gift I gave Laura, I should tell you about the gifts Laura gave me. A hug each time I passed in the hall. A raised hand for every question I asked in class. More songs than I can count: songs I taught her, songs she brought from home, songs […]

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conditions for joy

conditions for joy

| January 30, 2014 | 12 Replies

High time I fess up: my plan for the year failed. I came here with the dream of investing time in my writing: submitting essays, getting published. I knew that getting published is hard, but I didn’t fret: I can be persistent as a jackhammer. What I didn’t foresee was how disheartening the process would […]

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from bulb to blossom

from bulb to blossom

| January 21, 2014 | 3 Replies

The paperwhites are in full bloom the morning I learn that Grandma has died. Before I turn on my phone and see the message, I happen to write in my journal about a conversation we had last month. She said to keep the bulbs after they bloom and use them again next year. Grandma has […]

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Wyoming Santa

Wyoming Santa

| December 31, 2013 | 5 Replies

It started with the Wyoming Santa. A brief, typed note and two gift cards from a postal box in Gillette. We looked at each other in consternation. Who do we know in Wyoming? And how do they know that David likes Starbucks and I like Cold Stone Creamery? We surveyed our parents, who proved themselves […]

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temporary sojourner

temporary sojourner

| December 19, 2013 | 5 Replies

This morning I swung by Walgreens to pick up some photos I ordered. Once they’re in their frames and wrapped, our Christmas gifts will officially be ready for our trip to Omaha. Can I tell you how psyched I am to be done? Well, the woman at Walgreens wouldn’t give me my order. Apparently a […]

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life, death, and faulty brake calipers

life, death, and faulty brake calipers

| December 11, 2013 | 5 Replies

The roads were icy Sunday morning. The car fishtailed a few times on the drive to church, so I developed a gentle rhythm. First gear for turns, early braking for red lights. But on the way home the brakes failed. I could feel it well before the intersection. I pressed my foot down harder. I […]

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2013 Thanksgiving newsletter

2013 Thanksgiving newsletter

| December 2, 2013 | 10 Replies

It’s the second morning of December. True to form, I started a Thanksgiving newsletter before Thanksgiving but didn’t finish it in time. I’ve cherished grand ambitions about the scope and detail of the letter, but today I want to write something short and sweet. Today I want to write about the Christmas cactus in bloom, […]

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Thanksgiving morning

Thanksgiving morning

| November 28, 2013 | 1 Reply

Thanksgiving morning. We wake to a text from Mom, who misses me. Next comes toast in the hotel lobby with David and his dad Mark. They head off to a flag football game and I add hot water to my tea cup. Blue skies and a mountain view from the hotel room.   I iron […]

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the winds of homecoming

the winds of homecoming

| November 22, 2013 | 3 Replies

Ah, not to be cut off, not through the slightest partition shut out from the law of the stars. The inner — what is it? if not intensified sky, hurled through with birds and deep with the winds of homecoming. (Rainer Maria Rilke) I fly above the broad waistline of the country on my way […]

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tree roots and laundry

tree roots and laundry

| November 13, 2013 | 1 Reply

My friend Ralph Eckhardt sent this picture the other day. He wrote, “I had just been thinking about your latest Breathe Deep and praying for you when I saw it, and it was a picture to me of how complicated life is that produces the wonder of who we are.” My mind keeps wandering back to […]

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