“Do you know," Peter asked, "why swallows build in the eaves of houses? It is to listen to the stories.” ~ J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan


2011: Soften

it is the day after the day after christmas and i awake wanting life in pinks and oranges, wanting life softer than it has been, wanting valentine hearts hanging from the ceiling on ribbons, wanting open windows and whimsy and a warm wind blowing across my face, a cool breeze come summertime. 2010 is leaving and i feel sadness at its passing, this year that took maggie with it; i look back and see patterns in photographs and words, indeed i saw them emerge as the year progressed, patterns of lace and shadows, of things not quite hidden, of things not quite clear, not quite so sure. pictures of maybe. words fell around me and i let them lay, walked barefoot across their sounds, felt their tickles and kisses; there were days i lay next to them and found my name spelled with diamonds in my dreams, and there were nights they held nothing but dust. they were words of colors ~ clementine, tangerine, peppermint ~ and i saw them everywhere. this morning the words are pink tinsel and sour cherries, and they are more than the lingering taste in my mouth or the view from my couch; they are words that shimmer, words that quiver with joy and celebration, however small the confetti that is thrown may be.

these images and words have appeared on their own, pieces of magic slipping in through open windows and the broken places in my heart, and i have watched them in silence, have let them stay, have bid them welcome.  i have painted walls the color of butter and discovered a place of magic under the emma tree, a place for small photographs of imperfection.  it is a new place on my map, and i am still the navigator of my life.

and it leads me to my word for 2011.

in 2009 i chose a verb - unfurl - and unfurl i did.  the ribbon that wound me so tightly at last began to loosen and i unfurled my way across the months, across the death of a dear friend, across the terminal diagnosis of maggie the cat, and it was the unfurling that saved me.  i watched myself stop trying so hard, though i still clung too tightly to rules and worries and feelings that i should be more like everyone else.  the unfurling continues, the ribbon is still with me, but it is beautifully ragged and torn and it flutters in the wind.  almost free.

last year, another verb found me.  navigate.  to find my way further into my own life, to understand where i stood, even though a storm may have tossed me there.  i plotted my own course, and began my own map, and that map is with me still.  always. it is full of unexpected places and it is stained with tears; trees have fallen across my road and i have had to climb them to keep going,  there have been floods and friends left behind and a cat with me now only in my heart.  the road continues and i am stronger, but i have softened as i walked unknown places, and that softening leads me to 2011.  softening has been the sky under which all those patterns i spoke of earlier bloomed. 

and so, soften it is.  this word found me months ago, and allowed me to cry.  it allowed me to play.  it pushed back at the perfectionism i struggle with daily.  it showed me things i might have missed a few years ago.  it put a cellphone camera in my hand and said forget about f-stops for a while.  go.  play.  see.  the image above is the shadow of 2 parking meters, quickly shot from a moving car - not a cell phone image, but i have learned to just shoot - mid afternoon, overexposed.  i saw the heart and had a second.

softening will include many things. it will include color and play and out of focus,  it will include silliness and hurt and opening my heart and pain.  i expect there to be blisters.

i will take it all. 



  1. these are words that shimmer, like the hearts that follow you, whispering "open."
    i watched you navigate this past year, cried with you, smiled with you, sat here blinded by the shimmer of your words, watched them dance like stars on the surface of a lake.
    it's a poem.

  2. Love your photos!

    If you have a few moments and the inclination, you're invited to visit my blogs.

    A Camp Host Housewife's Meanderings: An RV Adventure & Levonne's Pretty Pics

  3. Does this mean all your eggs in 2011 will be soft boiled? I love your new word for the year. If it brings you pain I hope you learn a lot of things from the pain. The things you learn will make your life easier.

  4. i love it...i love soften. i think even if there are a few blisters, it's perfect !

  5. I predict it will be a magical year, "soften" feels so right, blisters and all.

  6. this post got to me :)
    feeling a tad weepy.

    soften up then.
    I'll join you.

    have a most wonderful new year Debi.
    thanks for the comment, that stopped me in my tracks and made me count my blessings for you and others like you.


  7. Oh yes, there will be pain with softening. A very good word and one I could use, but not for 2011. Your picture is wonderful. May the colors of your world show you a softening edge, one that brings tears and laughter, hold on to that ragged ribbon for it is tied to your life saver. It will be a wild ride.

  8. Softening. That's a good word, bringing to mind so many ideas, directions, possibilities, including being kind to yourself. I'm looking forward to seeing how that word manifests in your life this new year.

  9. Mmm. Yes, that is a good word. I did that for decades~set an intention for the year with a word, but my life has been so...so something he last number of years that I forgot that practice.
    Time to begin again, methinks.
    Thank you~for the shadow pictures of beauty & the reminder.

  10. very good word for the coming new year.
    looking forward to feeling life flow through in a different way this new year that approaches.
    looking forward to the journey :)

  11. kelly - you were here through it all and bless you for that. and for these words. xoxo

    levonne - thank you for your kind words also. :)

    angela - and thank you! it is necessary and really, it's been happening for a while, so i may as well embrace it. softness doesn't sound like a bad thing at all. soft but strong.

    dot - lol! no, i like my eggs scrambled. hard. there is always pain, and always something to be learned from it, isn't there? but so hard to do. keep your fingers crossed for me.

    beth - you've been through this year with me also, and know i've had a few blisters already. and survived them. thanks for still being here. xoxo

    suvarna - and you too. softness does feel right, feels like its time has come. smooches!!

    gillian, sweetie - you are so welcome, and i am glad you will still be around to keep me company. love you!!

    marilyn - no getting away from the pain. the last 2 years have shown me that, and yet, here i still stand. i would wish for no more if it would do any good, but life being what it is, it will come. i can only hope (i hope kelly noticed i said that! ha!) to allow it to come and move through it. bless you! xoxo

    susanna - me too! :) there is something in the works, a year long project, a secret for a few days more, that will allow the child in me some time. that, i think, will be a good place to start.

    skye - life is so . . . lifey, you know? lol! stuff just gets in the way, i would love to know your word. mwah!

    tina - you and i both. i am exhausted with fighting the river. as karen blixen said " let it go . . . this water lives in mombasa, anyway". here's to loosening and just letting the water flow home. which is not the same thing as giving in.

    thank you all!

  12. Softening. What a wonderful way to ease one's self into the new year...
    here's a toast: to a happy landing!

  13. you brought tears to my eyes. my god, this is spectacular. your talent and vulnerable beauty runs deep.

    soften is the best possible mantra for your coming year. i'll be with you, watching it all.


  14. Excellent. I would love to be at that stage, to be strong and brave enough to "soften" up. Personally I am wound tight and hanging on to that tension like a lifevest. My point is - I am happy for you to make that declaration. I will make it a goal to get there also. Perhaps this year I first need to do some unfurling....

  15. In 2009, my word was JUMP...I was new to the blogging world, new to sharing my thoughts/feelings with others...I grew a little, became a little more sure of myself and so
    decided my word for 2010 was FLY.

    However, something happened, I lost focus, lost interest, I'm not sure what...but, I spent more time on the ledge flapping my wings than going anywhere.

    You inspire me...I will be hanging
    out here more often to see what's to come....maybe I can find my word for this year as well.

    Here's to the New Year!

  16. I wanted to come over and say "hello". I just read your article in Artful Blogging and really enjoyed it.

  17. paula - :) cheers! you have been here from the very very very beginning! and happy, happy new year!!

    graciel - i know you will. a little bird on my windowsill. xoxo

    cheryl - i am so not strong & brave. i am scared to death half the time. :) but this softening thing just began on its own, so i am paying attention. there will be days i know i won't want to face, but i would have to face them anyway, soft or not. time to try softer, methinks.

    kathy - thank you! oh, and i know that feeling of stuckness. last year when i chose navigate, i knew there would be roads ahead i didn't want to travel, but i wasn't prepared for how much i just wanted to stop when i found myself on those roads. i hated the word navigate. i didn't want to navigate any more. i just wanted to be the passenger. but, like i said to cheryl, they were roads i had to be on whether i wanted to or not, and there finally came a point when navigating was okay again, when i realized it was my map and only i could draw it. i hope you have a wonderful new year and hope you find a word that fits. although you don't have to find one at all. thats the cool thing.

    jeanneoli - thanks so much for stopping by, for taking the time. i feel pretty flattered! :)

    boy, i am rambling tonight. can you tell i didn't write anything today? except facebook statuses? stati? lol!

    thank you all!

  18. Oh my goodness...Debi, this post leaves me feeling so... I don't know, I can't even put it in words. But your words...true, beautiful, even a bit sad. Each year pushes us further. Yes, trees fall on our paths and we must climb over them. My word, bloom, for 2010 left me vulnerable and open...but I grew into a women that I love. I learned many lessons this past year. And now in 2011 I choose the word believe to guide me. I can only imagine what this year will hold.


  19. Your post is inspiration to someone who is lost, confused, and in need of sofening herself. I don't know where to start, don't even know how to start my own map. I have time to figure it out, but time goes so fast, but you definitely have me thinking about my own journey. Thank you for your beautiful post.

  20. Dropping in for a visit to wish a dear gal a most happy New Year! Thanks for having a blog that inspires and delights my heart! Most dearest wishes for a bright and blessed New Year my friend! <3
    ~ Katie

  21. I really enjoyed reading your "word of the year" stories. Lovely! And amazing photo!!

    I hope "soften" brings you few blisters and lots of warmth and colour!!

    I think I finally have the word for 2011 that feels right to me. Hard choice this year!! (Propel)

    Have a great 2011!

  22. Oh, Debi, this is so beautiful. Choosing one word for the year is not something I feel like I am able to do, but I love watching you do it. I remember unfurl and navigate, and I am so thrilled for soften. Your words give me so much comfort and hope for my own future, I cannot possibly tell you how this touches me. Thank you, and Happy New Year.

  23. I felt myself submerge as I read your words. In a quiet dream full of colour and soft shapes and impermanence.
    Two parking meters...amazing that you can find the softness in such things. How beautiful. And how perfectly in tune that image is to your reflections.
    You really are amazing.


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