Masthead header

{new} thoughts on messiness

Having always been somewhat of a neat-nick, I have thankfully gotten over my desire for perfection. However, I still would love to have a home that reflected my personal cleanliness level. A thought I had the other day changed my perspective instantly. As I was {somewhat resentfully} cleaning my house, I was thinking, ‘someday I will live in a clean house’. My mind immediately carried that thought forward ~ when this ‘someday’ would be… Realizing in that moment that the only time I will ever live in a house that doesn’t need endless picking up is when I no longer live with the people I love. It stopped me in my tracks. Woah. I like living with these people ~ like thinking of not living with them makes me dizzy and sad. I definitely would appreciate new habits that make less continual mess ~ but I will take a bit of chaos for this chapter of my life and try to see it in a new light.

beautiful mess


a thank you note to Luna


photo credit: David Carlile (aka, my brother)

Dear Luna,

Hey there! I’m a bit belated in writing this thank you note, but I have not forgotten. When I first heard of the party you were throwing on September 27, a total lunar eclipse of a supermoon, I knew for sure that I’d be attending, especially since the kids on our cul-de-sac were planning to all come together to watch. Then, disappointingly I realized we’d be missing the start of the party due to the fact that my daughter had band rehearsal, which she couldn’t miss. Luckily rehearsal ended early, and as we were driving home we kept trying to get a peek of your spectacle. We got quick glimpses (which took our breath away because your new look was so unique and we hadn’t know what to expect)… and were looking forward to joining our friends for the rest of the party. Our route quickly became a journey of understanding that this drive was part of the party you had intended for US to experience.

photo credit: David Carlile

photo credit: David Carlile

photo credit: David Carlile

photo credit: David Carlile

As we drove, we saw them ~ hundreds of people who also wanted to share your special night with you. They lined the hilltops which overlooked valleys ~ pulling over their cars, walking, or riding their bikes just to glimpse your ever-changing reddish glow. (I so badly wish I had my sense to take a photo of their silhouettes.) While en route to OUR party, we also got a call from my brother’s wife to let us know they had driven to a great spot to watch you in your glory … so we pulled over with them for a few minutes to share in their excitement ~ my niece giddy and jumping and squealing with excitement. There too, were hundreds of others who had come out of their cozy abodes to wonder at you. The sense of belonging to a greater family filled my heart. After leaving my brother’s family, we drove on towards home. As we entered our own street ~ there they were ~ more “Earth family” members (aka our neighbors) ~ joining in the marvel at your special treat for us. Kids on our street brought out their large telescope, others just stood and stared, and shared, and smiled, and oohed and ahhhed… Your red beauty, your magnificence, your watchful eye changing before our eyes ~ all of us sharing in this together and touching our souls so deeply ~ it was such a gift! For this I thank you. For this gift of belonging, for this gift of understanding that our little lives are truly part of a much bigger, much longer story ~ I thank you. I will be remembering this Earth party fondly ~ and sharing what I learned that night.

photo credit: David Carlile

photo credit: David Carlile

You are magnificent. I enjoy you every time I see you, but thank you for dancing with the sun on this particular night, and getting all dressed up for us to wonder and see you again with fresh eyes. Thank you for bringing us out, bringing us together, and reminding us to look up, and outside ourselves, from time to time.

In wonder & appreciation ~

an open letter to Malala

Malala theater

Malala ~ an unexpected blessing entered my life early last week… someone invited me to attend a pre-screening to your upcoming film He Named Me Malala (opens in theaters in New York and LA on 10/2 and nationally 10/9). I truthfully didn’t know much of your story, other than that you had won a Nobel Peace Prize for speaking out on behalf of education for girls in a region that had moved backwards on that issue. Expecting to be touched at a gut level of what an amazing girl you are ~ I was definitely not disappointed. However, I was truly surprised at the gentle, soft, normalizing depiction of how you (and your father) spoke bravely amongst extreme conflict and danger. Your film shows just how “average” you are ~ silly arguments with your brothers, crushes on boys, disappointing grades at school, and shyness when addressing certain subjects. I wonder, where do you feel your bravery came from? Did you always feel empowered and brave? Do you feel your parents simply don’t limit your ability to express yourself? Did you somehow know instinctively that if you didn’t speak, no one would? Most of us get caught up in the “what ifs” ~ how did you move beyond them?

About your father ~ how blessed you are that he ‘never clipped your wings’ (from his TED talk)! What do you think makes him able to view the world through his own lens ~ not the lens of the perceived majority (or at least the current rulers)? He chooses to see you for the magnificent person you are, and always did from the moment you were born. And your mama! She doesn’t share too much with us, but it’s so evident that she also embraces your choices and purpose in life.

What most amazes me about you is your quiet resilience. Even after being shot in the head and nearly dying, you choose not to feel hatred towards your attackers ~ not even a “quark” of anger. That says so much! You can see it is the mental illness of the movement backwards, the constricting and dangerous nature of the extremists in your homeland that needs to be dealt with ~ not the actual humans who carried out the attack against you (well, they should be personally held responsible also, but possibly not hated for their inability to see their flawed and cruel actions).

I’m the curious sort… so the question I am left wondering after seeing your film is, do you feel that most people in your home region believe that girls’ education is important and valuable, but they are just too fearful to speak and/or act out in opposition of the extremists? Do you feel that your viewpoint is the norm there, or the exception? Are you speaking a truth shared by many, or are your ideas new and a teaching message instead?

Malala 3
I’m also a mama (thus a female!) of two beautiful girls. I just cannot imagine their (or my) possibilities being so restricted by a mania of a distorted selection of people in power. How deeply that must affect you and the other females from your homeland! It makes me so baffled to wonder how treating half of the population with such disregard can be accepted by so many.

It’s funny ~ I sort of expected to be blasted by a loud, in your face message of “look what Malala did” in your film ~ and that’s not at all what I got. I got a soft message, whispering in my ear saying, “Suzee, if she can speak, so can you…” We are ALL enough. We ALL have voices. Thank you Malala for whispering to me, and not shouting. May peace reign again soon in your homeland. May girls and women be valued for their magnificence ~ and may they be allowed to attend school, and carry out their lives as they wish with purpose and without fear, and most importantly with voices that can be heard and faces that can be seen.

Peace to you and your family Malala. May your strength to speak out continue to inspire all of us for many, many moons.

: Suzee

P.S. On a completely different note, I just LOVED the art throughout the film! The subtly in which the past events were so keenly depicted by these paintings-come-to-life was such an amazing touch! The artist in me wants to have a whole other discussion with the person/people responsible for that aspect of the film.

Want to dive deeper?

On the kindness of strangers…seven months later


This, by no means, is the best picture I’ve ever taken. It won’t win any awards, the kids don’t look extra cute, it doesn’t even necessarily tell a clear story. It’s just a picture of some smiling people standing on the side of the road.   The little girl is holding something, but what the heck is it?  In any case, this picture is proudly displayed in our home.  Not a single member of my family can walk by it without smiling,  perhaps even touching it, pausing to reflect on what happened that day.  You see this picture was taken just after one of the most traumatic moments of our kids’ lives.

In this picture, my Razzie is holding our beloved cat, Candy. We thought we’d just lost her forever.  And those guys with my kids? They are two of the three heroes that saved her.

Here’s the story.

While driving across country on our move from Georgia to El Paso, we stopped for gas and lunch in Natchitoches (pronounced Nackaditch), Louisiana, on our way to Dallas, TX, to visit family and friends. The cars were full of gas, the kids were pottied and fed. Just as Ellie was closing the van door, Candy somehow did some master ninja moves (she’d been agitated on the drive), wriggled herself from her harness,  jumped out of the car and darted down a storm drain!

The kids were in a panic (really, ZZ was screaming), Steve and I embarked on Operation Save Candy.  I ran into the Burger King so they could call Animal Control and Steve started investigating where the drain tunnels led, and hopefully ended.  The good news: the drains didn’t lead anywhere and it most likely Candy would come back out where she entered.  The bad news, the “Animal Control Guy” told us that poisonous gasses could possibly be down there and there’s a chance she wouldn’t survive. Nonetheless, a nice guy named Larry stopped to help, and was able to pull the lid off the drain so it was easier to see what was going on down there. He said he had nowhere to go and he was going to see this thing out with us.  The “Animal Control Guy” told us that “if” Candy was alive, she’d most likely come out…eventually.  My sweet husband noticed that hotel you see in the background and had already decided that worst case, we’d get a room and take shifts.  A plan was in place.

We’d also happened to stop by a spiritual store in New Orleans, so the girls were busy praying to Jesus,  as well as using the Make-A-Wish  and Come-To-Me potions we’d purchased in there.  They were desperate, folks.  ZZ was still crying and Gus was advising everyone to stay calm and be patient.  Solid, that kid, he’s solid.  Fast forward forty-five minutes later, all of us were still sitting outside the of the drain and Mr. Animal Control remembered he’d rescued some kittens that happened to be in his truck.  He also had a cat grabber that he reassured our children multiple times wouldn’t hurt candy if she happened to make an appearance.  The fast food restaurant workers came out periodically to get updates.

A little back story here.  Candy had only been a part of our life for six months, since Christmas Day, to be exact. Nope, she wasn’t a present from us.  There was no plan for a Christmas surprise on our part. Unbeknownst to us Razzie had asked for a “real cat” for Christmas, but knew that since that was highly unlikely realistic stuffed animal cats would be great, too.  We may have helped Santa out a bit with those stuffed cats, but it turns out that Santa had his own surprise.  Just after midnight on Christmas morning, I went to take out the trash and there was an adorable little kitty at our front door. We took her picture, told the kids about how she came to wish them a Merry Christmas, only to have her return Christmas morning as we were opening presents.  And that’s how our Candy joined our family, a real Christmas Miracle, we like to believe.

Anyway, back to Candy and the drain. There we were, almost an hour later staring at the drain.  Mr. Animal Control brought over the kitten and asked one of the kids to hold her near the opening.  Larry the Good Samaritan was still there, too.  And the cat grabber was in place.  And guess what,  in the shadows, that sweet gray face we know in love, faintly appeared at the edge of the tunnel.  We knew we had ONE chance.  We knew that if Mr. Animal Control didn’t get her on that first try, there would be no telling when she’d come out again.  And…success!!!  He grabbed her with his contraption and Ellie snatched her up and secured  her in the carrier right away. More tears.  Happy ones this time, and lots of them.

Sewer man showed up after the rescue and Mr. Animal Control left to go rescue more animals, so he’s not even in the picture and Sewer guy is, but I kind of think that makes the photo even better. Doesn’t sewer guy look happy?  We did get Animal Contol Guy’s name and Larry the Good Samaritan’s address and this week, seven months later, I’m finally sending the thank you notes from our littles and they are EACH getting a copy of this photo.

It’s been a long time and they may have not even thought about us or this rescue since.  But we think about it all of the time.  We are forever grateful. These guys, even the Sewer Guy, will always be heroes to us. Without the kindness of strangers, we wouldn’t have our Candy with us today.  So friends, go do something nice today, pay it forward, spread the love, you have no idea the lasting effects that your kindness will have.


What does namaste mean anyway?

Namaste photo

Namaste. This post is going to be a little experiment ~ writing first with my current understanding of this word and what it means to me, and finishing with the actual definition ~ to see how it varies.

I have been told namasate means “the light in me sees the light that shines in you” (or similar variations). Light would be referring to the unique goodness and positive energy that each person is at their core. I believe we were born as beings of pure light, and that is who we truly are.

When I participate in yoga, “namaste” is nearly always the final word we all utter to our teacher and other attendees at the completion of class. It is a way of honoring what we just shared during the time we spent together. What a blessing to say, “I see the light in you”, to our teacher ~ for her {usually a woman, but not always} time spent guiding us. It is also a kind thought that we acknowledge those around us who shared that space with us during class. Above all, it feels so good to be present in that moment with others.

I created a small piece of art that sits on the entry table of our home that says “namaste”. My intention for it was to let people know that upon entering our home we will be doing our best to see their light. This year I am setting an intention to see others in a fresh light ~ where they are now ~ not how I’ve known them to be previously. It’s not always an easy task. We can be so programmed by the stories we tell about ourselves and others. However, I truly believe that if we look at each other with the intention of seeing the good, it will be reflected back to us. It doesn’t mean we have to connect with everyone, but at least look for their inner nature instead of their human habits that irritate us.

Now ~ for the online definition of “namaste”… well apparently there are many:

Literal translation: “I bow to the divine in you.”

Other interpretations:

“The Divine in me recognizes and honors the Divine in you.”

“The spirit within me bows to the spirit within you.”

“I greet that place where you and I are one.”

“I honor the place in you which is of love, of truth, of light and of peace.”

Wow ~ those are all so powerful. The last one resonates with me the most for some reason. What do you feel most drawn to? And more importantly, what if every person we greeted we held this intention of seeing their light? It would be magic I think.


Jen Farrant - I always say namaste to my yoga teacher, even though I am the only person who does so.

I go with the divine in me sees the divine in your definition. And interestingly the Quakers talk about seeing the light in peoeple and ‘that of God’ in all. For them light is God and the two are often interchanged in their writings

That resonates with me a great deal

twopoppies2012 - Thank you Jen for your comments. That is interesting about the Quakers – I don’t know much about that faith tradition. Peace.