Every life is a poem…


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You may know that I write poetry, but Buddy Breathing is not usually where I post it, if at all. You will find a small selection here on my author website, but the timing is such that I am going to post a newish poem here today.

It’s a poem I’ve been scratching away at since I first was accepted into the Northern Ireland 2014 ~ Storytelling, Music, Art, and Peace experience. Thanks to Gareth Higgins, Karen Moore and David Wilcox, the wonderful co-leaders of this trip, poet, priest, philosopher and scholar John O’Donohue’s legacy of mindfully walking the Irish landscape will be realized once again for a small group of most fortunate people, myself included. The long call of home to my birthplace, to talk and walk and open anew to understand… in just a few short days I will answer what has been percolating inside me for years. I sense changing coming.

Maybe even before I knew of this pilgrimage I’ve imagined myself arriving in a place like that described in my poem. A wild and desolate place, perhaps the middle of a wide and endless field, or the top of a rounded barren hill (not a mountain as I’m not that kind of adventurer), or an abandoned once inhabited place grown over and melding again with the earth. Any such place I’ve seen in movies or aptly described in a book or glimpsed in reality or dreamed myself to… are somewhat liminal spaces between here and somewhere, between what is and what could be.

For me landscapes best describe how it might feel to stand physically and/or metaphorically at a transition, an edge, and to feel the pull of such a place… and so in this spirit the poem began. It is, as always, a work in progress.

Edge

Take the path up
through the stinking mud
and tufted grass barely rooted
in barren. Keep on up
to the cliff top, lean
into the wind, tears
pulled from your eyes and drained
down stark lined cheeks. Up, up
to the edge where all that lies ahead
is North Sea waves half ice over shipwrecks,
selkie dreams dashed hard
on the jagged shore. Look north,
out where the sky meets mossy
undulations of standing waves,
where looking back at yourself you are nothing
but a speck of possibility. Look down
at shoes muddied and scuffed, wild
brambles hitch hiked to your old wool coat.
Reach out your hands,
ridged nails on fingers
wrinkled staccato with terror. There,
and only if you dare,
open up your life,
widen your lungs to salt mist, your veins
to the pulsing hum of thin places.
Steady yourself, eyes up, up,
your heart a fast cloud in the groaning gale.
Feel the heft of surf’s begging boil
beneath you. But stand your ground.
Sing. Sing.

Lesley-Anne Evans

 

 

All I want for Christmas…


I’m not usually one for Christmas lists, I seldom ask for specific gifts. Come Christmas morning I will feel quite uncomfortable with all eyes on me. I feel some pressure for an appropriate joyful, grateful response, and wanting my family to know how much they mean to me apart from what they give, but also how much I appreciate their efforts and love to me in their gifts. I’m not gifty. Perhaps I’m complicated content.

My grandmother used to say, “just a hanky,” when we asked her what she would like for her birthday or for Christmas. It seemed such a little thing, a hanky, yet I know how you reach a point (or maybe you were always there) where material things don’t mean much.

So, as I was thinking about what I’d really like for Christmas, it’s about the intangibles of relationships and social constructs that are most meaningful to me… the HOW we LIVE with one another. It comes down to the acceptance of who YOU are and who I am, and finding a way of doing life together that brings meaning and joy to both of us. I want for us to KNOW each other, to love each other all the more for knowing how imperfect yet wonderful we are.

So I am going to disclose some personal things to you with the real hope of acceptance and continued relationship. Forgive me if I’ve been less than forthcoming previously.

So here goes;DSC_0301

1. I believe in God, Jesus, and the Bible. I am a simple woman, simply trying to follow Jesus and infuse all areas of my life with God’s love. I celebrate Christmas because of what I believe. If you want to hear my story, I have one to share.

2. I live in a constant tension of faith mixed with doubt. I do not have many answers, and I’m becoming more comfortable with saying, “I don’t know.” It’s not about convincing, arguing, debating, although there are those who are very good at apologetics, I am not. I believe my life is becoming what it is because of God and me doing life together. It just is, and most days I believe it to be true.

3. I’m uncomfortable with organized Church. I regularly push myself to participate, serve, contribute to my local church, and for a time I feel real belonging, but I often also feel like a square peg in a round hole. I have been, and perhaps always will be, a dweller of margins.

4. I am imperfect. I say stupid things, forget birthdays, don’t return your calls or texts. I talk negative and overly-serious and deep when you want light and fun. I hide from people. I spend too much time on Facebook. I fight with my husband and my try to control my kids. I hate cleaning my house. I’d rather write or read. I’m unfriendly to some of my neighbours, and don’t speak to one. I’ve ignored you. I’ve broken promises. I am horrible at baking, but love getting praise for my cooking. I love getting praise for anything I do, but feel guilty for loving it too much. I want to do things for God, but feel I’m probably doing things for me a lot of the time. I run from conflict. I have strong opinions. I talk too much. There’s more.

5. I struggle with anxiety and depression. I have not been diagnosed with clinical depression, and I am sensitive to those who have been and how much worse they must feel compared to me. However I wonder sometimes if it would be best for everyone (my family especially) for me to spend a little time in a hospital and get myself somewhat re-tooled. If this is even possible. Often my depression lines up with SADD (several months of cloud and no sunshine in the Okanagan), menopause (sleeplessness, hot flashes, irritability etc.), and a predisposition towards introspection and time alone. I wonder how #1, #2, and #3 line up with this point. I have noticed that being more involved with projects around creative expression and things outside the world of being a stay-at-home manager of my family, helps my mental balance. I have noticed that happiness and joy are two different things.

6. I love to create, and I love to see others find their creative spirit and create. I believe passionately in how much better we all are when we find what we are meant to do, what we were created to do, and then go do it. I love to connect with others and encourage them to be their best.  I love to see the ripple effects of love, joy, and healing go out from the heart of each creative spirit into the hearts of others.

7. I want to be part of a bigger picture of creative expression. I am keeping my eyes, ears and heart open to what is next for me as part of the greater creative collective. I am considering how I may pour myself into realizing a new dream around words, writing, giving and growing.

8. I intend to continue to sign “SDG ~ Soli Deo Gloria,” to my work, and attribute thanks to God for what he allows, facilitates and carries out through my one life. I continue to desire and ask for integrity in this.

Thank you for reading this. Thank you for your open heart. This has truly been a gift to me to be able to write to you, share things at Buddy Breathing for a long time now.

I look forward to what life holds for us in 2014 and hope you write and tell me what you are up to, what you are learning.

May you be blessed with a renewed spirit of deep joy and gratitude for who you are, and the gifts you have been so rightly given.

With my love, SDG,

Lesley-Anne

Tuesday poem 006


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It’s been a while since I’ve posted a poem. Almost a month.

Forgive me.

I’m linking this poem to today’s Poetry Pub over at dVerse Poetry, answering host Victoria Slotto‘s request, “to post a descriptive poem in which images are used to describe a feeling, a truth you hold dear, a person, using primarily surroundings—in other words, an imagist poem that has an embedded message about whatever…”

This time

This is what it feels like –
first step, splinter of ice,
eyes fixed on the gleam of going,
no clear way out.
The walls tight
like winter,
hands bruising the throat of spring.
You blow halos on the frosted window,
birth pains to a small voice.
The air opens to your giving,
you can almost say the way.

Lesley-Anne Evans, 2013

Remembering Buddy…


It’s a year today my amazing dog Buddy lost his battle with cancer. I still think about him a lot, and miss him. When I look at Emmy, our new GSP, I can’t help making comparisons. My Buddy is a hard act to follow, and I really have to give Emmy a whole lot of grace to be who she is. I guess I’m not entirely over it yet? And maybe I’ll never be.

‘Buddy Memoirs’ is a series of poems that allowed me to work through the process of letting go of my great friend and companion.  I’ve written other posts on the subject of losing pets, including here and here. I dedicate this post to those who have experienced similar loss.

God understands. And so do I.

Buddy Memoirs

i.

I hold the yogurt container
while you lick it clean
and a slice of cheese destined for the lasagna
seems better served to you.
“He has ears like velvet” Malcolm remarks
as he lays with you on the floor
strokes your faithful head
How do I know when it’s time,
when pain is your constant companion
as you have been to me?
Dear creature without words
your chocolate eyes speak of long walks
and one way conversations on the back porch
you still like to ride in the car
ears pricked up

ii.

Oh, Buddy
there are things I’m noting so I won’t forget
stubby tail with skunk stipe, wags your body
toes contort in pleasure as we run hands down your back
speak love words in baby talk
insatiable appetite for flushing birds in the yard
and cruising food on the counter
6 fresh baked banana muffins for a mid-day snack
belgian chocolates by the box

The early days, dog park days, weight loss days,
The first time I saw you point – vibrating hard-wired DNA miracle
and waiting for ducks to come back, sitting still,
looking at the sky – ears perked up
Ears absorbing tears and words no human has heard
Your eyes, knowing in their depths
the colour of butterscotch, like a werthers toffee
ecstasy at 7 and 3, spinning for your dinner dish
all those walks, all those walks
losing you on Knox mountain, the elephant stepping off my chest
when I found in the the pouring rain
sitting on the sunny porch early in the morning with you drowsy at my feet
protecting me from all things buzzing,
wasps met their demise in your clenched teeth

Like watching Art die, only here at home.

iii.

What kind of dog is that, strangers ask?

such a beautiful dog
such a gorgeous dog
so regal
so elegant
so smart, sweet and gentle

What do they know.

We know.

iv.

This bloody hurts to let you go.
It was supposed to be so much longer, like it said in the book
your breed being long lived, up to 17 years. Bullshit!
You’ve only been with us 5 years… like a sunny day memory
and now it’s over
way too fast.
So I’m sad and mad and mixed up.
What will I do without you?
Who will I take care of?
Who will listen and follow and adore me
like you do?

I’m hanging on too tight today
tears and sniffles and words and wishes
I’m believing in here-afters with you
that God would never have gone to all that trouble
to make your kind
if this is it.
I’m hanging my hat on the verse where the
lion lays down with the lamb
and the Revelation horses bring me hope
that I will see you again.

Your name is ordained to follow me
in blogs and passwords and memories

I’m letting go in little ways
while you lay here on the couch beside me
breathing deep
Plans are gelling
and we will walk into this as best we can
under the circumstances.

But, Buddy, Oh Buddy.

v.

In all this you are larger
somehow magnified.
Your circle of influence constricts with limitations,
distills to pure intimacy of you and I.

Do you remember long hikes, or birds in the yard?

As I contend with masking pills in cheese
and contemplate playing God,
do you have knowledge of what comes
alongside love?

vi.

I dream’t last night of substitutionary atonement
and woke to cold truth, pillow damp, heart racing
anticipating
the last car ride, the last pills
masked in cheddar morsels.

The Spring morning expands in grace
allows us time enough
for our last walk, slowly now
between the budding lines of macintosh
wide branches witness to our passing.

I read you poetry on the porch steps
salt words linger on my lips
I absorb your smell, your feel, your sound,
write you into memory.

Then time, stretched to its extremity
returns us to this breath held static place
Your eyes say you understand
my ungodly secret.
You follow when I call your name.

Soli Deo Gloria

Lesley-Anne Evans

Buddy Breathing 2010 in review


Japan Airlines 747-400 at London Heathrow Airport

Image via Wikipedia

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 4,700 times in 2010. That’s about 11 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 119 new posts, not bad for the first year! There were 292 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 298mb. That’s about 6 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was May 6th with 83 views. The most popular post that day was Pause and remember….

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were networkedblogs.com, facebook.com, en.wordpress.com, apps.facebook.com, and pink-ink.ning.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for buddy breathing blog, buddy breathing, art suke, bryce essler, and lang may yer lum reek.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

Pause and remember… May 2010
2 comments

2

About the blogger January 2010
5 comments

3

Why my husband is hot! June 2010
7 comments

4

And so we begin… January 2010
8 comments

5

Peace, at last. April 2010
1 comment

I promised not to preach…


Good morning friends.


Thanks to everyone who reads and comments and honours me with your time spent at Buddy Breathing. I do appreciate that you choose to be here, because I know that your time is precious. I want to offer you something good and worthwhile. And I’m convinced that the only worthwhile thing I can offer you is Jesus.

Yes, I promised not to preach, and you can call this preaching if you like. But, I’m just being gut honest here. I have nothing else worthwhile for you. I’ve learned that to be less than open about who I am and what I believe is, well, less than honest. And I don’t want to be a liar.

You see, when I named this blog ‘Buddy Breathing’, there was a byline that went with that… and it was …‘a blog about hope’. For some reason, the current design of this blog does not allow for my byline, and it’s been dropped, but now I need to get back to that original design. It’s the reason why I’m blogging in the first place.

If you have read ‘About the Blogger’, you will know the background of the name ‘Buddy Breathing’. It’s about sharing oxygen… words filled with the spiritual oxygen of hope that can be yours through a relationship with God the Father and his son Jesus.  That’s it! Nothing more. Nothing less. Whether I blog a story, or a poem or prose, or a photograph, or a commentary, or a video, the bottom line for me is that in that, I point you to the God of Hope.

That doesn’t mean I have it all together, that doesn’t mean that I have all the answers, that doesn’t mean that I go through life with a halo on, or with a supernatural ability to turn every cloud inside out to it’s silver lining. My life and my circumstances and my past and my future are filled with good and bad, challenges and victories, troubles and turmoil and triumphs. I’m just a regular, ordinary, middle aged wife and mother who happens to rest everything on the fact that I have a God who is in charge of it all, has the future all figured out, and continues to help me make it through from day to day. Sometimes those days are dark, and sometimes they are filled with light. God is here with me.

I might have lost some of you right there, but if not then I’m really happy about that. Because I say all this knowing it might stir things up, might offend some, and might cause others to leave Buddy Breathing. Still, with God as my guide, what I say might also impact you, or change your life, or just plant a little seed or a question or something that will provoke you to think about things for the very first time. That excites me. That keeps me keeping on.

It’s Holy week… and I’m not. Yet, I trust that whatever is coming next in my life, I will be able to live it and to express it because I have a God of Hope who is with me and for me.

I’m willing to expose all of it for your consideration. I’m ready to give an answer for the hope I have.

Walking on,

Lesley-Anne

Poetry Friday 003


Inspiration of salt water horizons, our family holiday to the Oregon Coast last summer was a time of prolific poetry writing for me. Here is a selection of three poems from that time.

Pelicans

Troubadours
Airborne units fly in formation
Low
Heavy
Skimming the space between sea
And sky
Mammoth
Undeniable, like
Heat-seeking missiles
Transcending the deep
And drawing up fish.

Lesley-Anne Evans
July 2009

Forgiveness

I look down but for a moment or two
To scribble something
I don’t want to forget
Into my journal,
Look back up and it is gone.

All of it —
Foreshore,
Headland,
Horizon.

Suddenly shrouded in a veil of soft grey mist
Making mystery of what was,

Covering all of my sins.

Lesley-Anne Evans
July 2009

At sea

How does it feel
To leave land behind
Take to the sea
Live on silver offerings
And faith
In your ability
To stay afloat
Regardless of weather?

Such humble beginnings
You wake alone to dirt walls
Glimmer of light at the opening to beyond
Hunkered down in your snug burrow
Fed by frequent visits from
Swift sleek parents, then

Pushed from your nest
You fledge quickly to cries of their approval
Now it’s time

No backward glances
Or salt pillars
You fix your eye on the watery horizon

And fly

Why blog?


I have a dear woman (talented author, speaker, blogger) in my life who agreed some time ago to be my ‘writing mentor’. Might sound somewhat pretentious or mysterious, but all it really means is that she and I meet from time to time and talk about all things ‘writing’. She encourages me, questions me, and even corrects me when most needed. She isn’t afraid to speak the truth into my life because I’ve given her permission to do so. She is a gift.

The last couple of times we’ve met, the topic of ‘Twitter’ has come up. We’ve asked, “Why Twitter?” And, to tell you the truth, the jury is still out on whether this means of communication is helpful or a hindrance to the writers of the world. My friend has tested the waters… rather than using Twitter to broadcast news about herself, she’s used it to ask provocative questions in the hope that Twitter can be a two way conversation rather than just a monologue. Her results are not that promising.

And, most recently, the question of blogging has become a topic of conversation for my mentor and I. “Why do we blog?” is the question that plagues us. Is it similar to ‘Twitter’, meeting a need to broadcast ourselves and our thoughts to the world?  Obviously blogging is incredibly popular, with brilliant authors and topics and blogs that are followed by people globally. According to‘Technorati’, the top three blogs in the world are on the topics of Politics and Technology.  Number one, an American news website and aggregated blog founded by Arianna Huffington, ‘The Huffington Post,’ receives over 4 million hits per month!  Now, if you are trying to have a voice, position yourself, or create a platform, that is definitely the type of readership you’d want to have.

But, what if blogging is about other things. When I ask myself the question, “Why do I blog?” I’d have to say that having readers is important to me. Knowing that I’m saying something of value makes the writing more worthwhile, of course. And, when someone responds to a blog post with a comment, well, that’s the icing on the cake. Yet, I know in my heart that there are some equally important reasons why I blog.

The first is simply the cathartic process that happens for me when I dig down inside myself and put into words what I’m feeling or going through or those moments of illustriousness where some thought takes on greater meaning. And, being able to record those thoughts, whether for an audience or not, is therapeutic.

Blogging fits into this particular season of my life as a wife, mother, writer and a follower of Jesus Christ. Publishing a book, or getting a full time job as a writer, might be prematurely biting off more than I can chew. Blogging offers a way to share my words, experiences and life with others, expressing how God makes a difference in how I do marriage and mothering and writing and all the other details.

If you’ve read my other blogs, then you’ll know that doesn’t mean I’m a preacher. I never profess to have everything figured out, and have lots of my own questions. But the hope that I share, the hope of Buddy Breathing, is all about the hope found in God.  So, if what I write here opens up that possibility for you, allows you to kick the tires of faith a bit, or even gives you a reason to keep on the path, then I’m all about my life being an open book… messy, coffee stained, dog-eared corners and all.

There is also the accountability of writing on a regular basis for someone else. Now blogs don’t carry as much motivation as, say, showing up for a job, but still, when you know that you’ve committed to blogging and that there are people looking to see what’s new, then you are more prone to be regular about it. Perhaps a little bit of guilt motivation works for me.

I’ve been blogging for over a year now, and I really do love it. There’s something about blogging that validates who I am as a writer when I see my blog page opened up in front of me in a well designed template, with words that (for the most part) make sense. Whether or not my blog becomes a platform for something more, well that remains to be seen. For now, I continue to post what I have on any particular day, and I boldly open up my life and my mind to those who care to read.

Buddy breathing has a ‘hit counter’, while my other blogs My Grace Notes and Sometimes Suicidal Mama did not. And I have to say that watching that number is kind of fun. Four hundred is a far cry from 4 million, but it’s a start.

So, for all the reasons I’ve identified, as well as some I’m probably not even aware of, I continue to blog.

Logging off for today,

Lesley-Anne

A little background.


It’s time that I fill you in on the history of this ‘project’… if you can call it that yet. I’m still considering where this jumble of ideas will land. But, here’s where it started out.

First… the name of this blog.

‘Buddy Breathing’ is not a new name. It’s borrowed from a book I authored/compiled for my dear friend, Art Suke, in fall 2008 during the final months of Art’s battle with ALS. The book containing stories, letters, emails, photographs, and poems was Art’s story, one that was read over and over again to him… he never grew tired of listening. Buddy Breathing was a source of hope and strength and confirmation that he indeed made a difference in all of our lives. I was given the privilege of taking Buddy Breathing from germinating thought to fruition, and then presented with the great honour of reading it to my friend. A powerful experience all around.

Art was my husband’s good buddy, they’d known each other first through business, and a friendship developed around work, play, cars, golf, running, boating, faith, family, until the point that Art became ‘Uncle Art’ to our kids. Art was a scuba diver, and made several diving trips with friends. He loved the anticipation of getting below the surface of the water, and wrote after one trip about the, “real, true, vibrant colours … the beauty is just astonishing… almost unbelievable.”

In 2007 Art was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) which made no sense to any of us.  Art was the picture of health, lived a physically active life, ate well, did everything right, and suddenly he faced a devastating disease with no known cure. We were all in shock. We still are in some ways.

Somewhere along the way after Art became ill, I became utterly convinced that Art had a story to tell… that his life spoke to us and potentially to others. And I began to flesh out the idea, talking to him about it, asking if he’d let me help him write something. At first he was a little bit shy, a little reticent about having any focus on himself. We tried a number of ways to begin the process, and finally he said, ‘You do it, LA’, I trust you.’ So I did.

As the disease took it’s course, and Art did everything in his power to treat it, we watched him deteriorate physically and grow stronger spiritually. Not without tough unanswerable questions, of course, but he was a rock and a testimony to his faith. He focused on us, made time for his friends, family, and took trips both to see old friends and also to experience some things that he had always wanted to but never had. Like Art’s trip to the Grand Canyon with my husband… sleeping outside on the terrace of the Presidential Suite, and waking to sunrise glowing pink on the canyon walls… WOW! And while he went about all this, and living for extended times in San Diego to take Chelation treatments across the border in Tijuana, Mexico, he sent e-mails back home that resonated with strength, hope and a willingness to believe in miracles yet accept what his future might hold… both at the same time. He lived in the tension of those extremes.

And as the process of writing down Art’s story progressed for me and I learned more Art’s scuba experiences, I came across the term Buddy Breathing. It jumped out at me… it was a diving term, but it was more than that. It spoke of relationship and community and what we are each capable of… breathing words and actions and acts of love and life into one another… saving one another. That’s how Art lived… until the day he passed away in May 2009.  Art was about people, community, friendships, and paying attention to others. So, Art’s story now had a name… Buddy Breathing, a book about sharing life.

The buddy breathing technique is illustrated in this video.

Buddy Breathing sits on our side table, and I often pick it up and read parts of it, or look at the pictures. Art is still in the pages. Words and images, wisdom and love. And we miss him. We hate the disease that took him from us. ALS is a disease of the young, the healthy, and as such it is, like any disease, one that we want to beat. Now. Our prayer and hope is that a cure can be found in our lifetime. So, maybe this blog is about that. I’m still not sure.

For today, and until things become more clear for me, I trust that what I write here can make a small impact. I trust that I can shed some light or bring some hope into your life. Maybe making a difference in this world is as simple as speaking words of life to one another? Like Art did.

Thanks for stopping by.

Lesley-Anne