Nothing to do, nowhere to go.

I woke up this morning and looked at my calendar on my phone and there was nothing there. No commitments, no place I had to be, or go. Same thing tomorrow. 2 days in a row of blessed nothing.

So I stayed in my pajamas. I ate cinnamon toast, 2 cups of Ethiopean Yurgacheffe, a soft boiled egg.

I picked up Amanda Palmer’s The Art of Asking which I was about three quarters through and sat and finished it. And wept. Then I watched her TED talk, and signed up for all her social media and cried again watching the video of her song “The Bed.”

Crying in the morning is exhausting. It definitely sets the tone for the day.

I washed my face, brushed my teeth, got dressed.

I dinked around online a little. G went out for the afternoon so I was home alone.

I made chicken noodle soup from a rotisserie chicken we had eaten the legs and wings from last week while it was hot.

I chopped carrots and celery and onion and sauteed and stirred and thought about vulnerability and how much I am armored and if I would ever be able to be vulnerable, and what that would look like. My mind was a blank. As blank as the snow outside the kitchen window. As blank as this page.

I decalcified the humidifier. I walked Boomer.

I wondered if I am grateful enough. I decided, no.

I downloaded an app called Gratitude 365 onto my phone where I am more likely to keep a gratitude journal than on paper.

I need to build some serious gratitude muscle.

The soup made the house smell amazing. G came home. We slurped our soup and caught each other up on our day.

And here I sit, in my cozy lair, wearing a shawl that one of my students knitted for me, feeling hugged. Feeling grateful.

On Giving Up Fear For Lent

Today I went and got ashes.

I looked Rowena in the eye as she made the smudgy sign of the cross on my forehead, saying , “From dust you came and from dust you shall return.”

I am not a Christian. I lost faith in all that a long time ago, but I must confess I still like a little ritualized discomfort. (I smile remembering all my Lenten “givings up” as a child, some of  which were pretty hardcore.)

When I realized today was Ash Wednesday, and Rowena texted that she might be a little late for our meeting because she was distributing ashes at a service at the University (Rowena is an Episcopal priest), I texted her, “Would you put ashes on me if I came??

She replied: “Of course.”

So I went.

I’ve been reading Brené Brown and Amanda Palmer lately and wishing I had the courage to be more like them, to risk vulnerability like they describe, and do.

Even before going for the ashes, though, I had decided to give up fear for Lent. Not all fear, just a small subset: The fear of writing and sucking at it.

I liked  the prospect of the ashes, especially administered by my friend, as the perfect  ritualized sealing of my intention.

As I walked home in the biting February wind, my hat covering the blotch of dirt on my forehead, I felt the energy shift in my body, just like I used to feel in all those childhood Lenten years.

We are born of ash and return to ash, that is certain. All we have is the interval between, to live with as much courage and vulnerability as we can muster.

I am going to try to be here every day for the next 40, giving up fear for Lent.