The Importance of Anger


My word for the year is Ignite.

Burning shit down this year.


And it feels incredible.


A dear friend shared an article with me several weeks ago from The Book of Life. It was about how depression may not simply be profound sadness. The author suggested that depression "is a kind of anger that has been unable to find expression, that has turned in on itself...”



I skimmed it, nodding my head, and thought, That makes sense.


I read it again much more slowly and felt a deep stirring. I sat silently with this new perspective for a few weeks.

“…we have been taught, probably since earliest childhood, that it isn’t very nice to be angry. Anger violates our image of ourselves as kindly and sympathetic people. It can be too painful and guilt-inducing to acknowledge that we may feel furious and vengeful, not least towards people whom we otherwise still love and who might have made many sacrifices on our behalves.”



I have anger.

It scares me.

People might be afraid of me.

I might be afraid of me. 

I might burn my bridges and turn to ash if I express my anger.



“…we might be bad at getting angry because we haven’t seen examples of successful expressions of anger around us. We might associate the word with volcanic crazed destruction, as dangerous as it is counter-productive. Or else we might have lived for too long surrounded by people who never dared to raise their voices and bitterly swallowed every hurt instead. We have not learnt the art of a controlled and cathartic conversation.”



Anger doesn't have to be crazed.

Anger is real.

Denying it will breed sickness and dis-empowerment.

Misplaced anger can be turned out onto people who don't deserve it.




“The way out of this sort of depression is to realise that its alternative isn’t cheerfulness, but mourning. Mourning is a useful word for it indicates a focused kind of grief over an identifiable kind of loss.” 


I wasn't sure what to make of this "mourning." Was I supposed to cry about my stuff? I was annoyed by this solution. Crying is great, but it wasn't time for that anymore. 

In the same stretch of weeks, I participated in imagery as part of an unrelated creative exercise. Imagery is a relaxation tool I use regularly. Another person reads a script and guides you into a dreamscape of your own creation. You breathe deeply, relax your body and follow along to a recorded voice. You don't talk back. It's all in your mind. 

People use it to relieve anxiety, get answers to questions, and connect with their intuition. I love it because it gives me the chance to find the truth that wouldn't otherwise reveal itself. In this instance, I was using it to explore my creativity.

Without my everyday thoughts getting in the way, I was led on a journey to meet the Queen of Fire. I was asked to walk toward a door in a landscape of my own imagining. Mine was a non-descript door on a blank canvas of pure white, almost fake-looking. The facilitator's voice whispered, "Now open the door. What does your queen look like?"

In my mind's eye, the door blew apart in a fiery blast. I looked down at my scaly dragon body. I had willed the door to be gone, and in its place, there was charred earth split by glowing molten rock as far as the eye could see in every direction.

The awakening took my breath away. Watching the churning cycle of earth being heated and cooled was cathartic. It was clear that I had been boxing up anger in an attempt to be neat and polite. I wanted to be together and stable, not ranty and riled-up. 

But am I riled up, and there's no need to be apologetic about it.

My word of the year, the article, and the guided meditation all pointed to a more complete me. One who acknowledges anger and transmutes it into raw power and informed decisions.

Rather than keeping my dragon chained up in the dark, I'll fly on her back, running my hand over the spot between her ears while she roasts patriarchal bullshit in her flames. 


My Great-Grandfather Was a Blogger

I'm a family history nut. Name a period of history and I'll tell you where each of my ancestors was at the time and how they might have been involved.

I don't have many pictures or physical documents, but after visiting an aunt who treasures those things as much as I do, I was able to touch old songbook pages, look at handwriting, and hear stories about those ancestors.

One of them is my great-grandfather, John. His mother (featured in this blog post) was a God-fearing woman who had three husbands and thirteen children. Every photo I have of her contains a Bible. John was born and raised in the South. I've been told he was a formidable man with a photographic memory. He taught at a singing school and published his own songs of worship.


My great-grandfather with his first wife and daughter


More interesting than the songs he wrote, were the pamphlets he published and distributed. He was the blogger-type of his day. He wanted his voice to be heard, so he recorded the things that weighed on his heart and mind, and then shared them with anyone who cared to read it.






It's surprising that I can find commonalities between my guiding philosophy and his. I'm decidedly irreligious because the damaging judgmental parts of the doctrine and culture outweigh the inspiring parts for me. I am deeply in love with divinity, goodness, light, and even gospel, though.

We both used our voices to educate. We just came at it from different places.


It was touching to find that fiery passion drove him and a lot of my ancestors to use their voices this way. I had claimed that for myself. Now I have gratitude for all the people who came before me, too. I see that I've built my truth on their foundations. I'm even happier to have left a record of my voice for posterity, as well.


In contrast to the "Damning the Wicked" messages of my forefathers, if I published a pamphlet, it would be called:



You Are Worthy of Joy

My modern-day interpretation of hell is believing that you're irredeemable. It's letting the uninformed opinions of the masses stamp out the embers of joy, hope, and delight that still glow.

Instead of worrying about burning in the fires of that hell, light a match and throw it over your shoulder every day if you have to. Heap love and kindness onto the flames until you are the violet flame of transmutation. 







It takes a while to overwrite false programming. One of my mantras is:  Joy isn't something you have to earn. Your worth isn't tied to your actions. 

One of the women I follow online Christie Inge says, "Worthiness is intrinsic. It can't be proven or earned." The more I seek, the more I find modern-day teachers like me who are working to spread a different message.

If I listen to the voice that feeds my discontent and reminds me of my purpose, it says, "You don't have to stand there trying to hold back that river.  You are every little drop in that river. You are the river. You are all the water."

2017 Scene and Story #6

I love this picture because:

1. The progression from left to right shows the decay, the full bloom, the tender petals about to open, and the potential marigold all in one shot. 

2. I felt proud of how still I needed to be to take a clear shot. It was a special moment for a caffeine-junkie with anxiety.

3. The rich fiery colors against the cool gray planter make me smile.



I took dozens of pictures this month. I count that as another win for my developing love for photography. 

Here are a few more buds and blooms: 
















For all of 2017, I'm joining Sarah from Paisley Rain Boots and Lee from Sea Blue Lens for a monthly Scene and Story Linkup. They are my photography inspiration!

2017 Scene and Story #5


It had been raining for days, and it would continue to rain until there was widespread flooding in our region.

One afternoon for about an hour though, the sun reached through a break in the clouds. When the quality of light changed, everyone in the house turned their faces to the windows. They started moving a little faster.

It was as if we had all been on slo-mo and only just realized it.

I grabbed my camera and took one of my kids to the park. I'm not sure we spoke words. We slid on our rain boots and left.

This is the series of photos I shot while my son scouted for photogenic wildlife and jumped in puddles.



This is my favorite. It looks like heaven to me:




The light is hopeful. The varied green tones are refreshing. 
This picture is what I want my brain to feel like on the inside.




Spring Day Haiku:

More happy snapshots 
of a short, glorious hour 
the sun remembered











A squirrel playing peek-a-boo









For all of 2017, I'm joining Sarah from Paisley Rain Boots and Lee from Sea Blue Lens for a monthly Scene and Story Linkup. Visit them and all the other contributors. They are my photography inspiration!

It's My Face

I'm in a journaling group. One of the prompts was to write about your physical body. I was prepared to stretch boundaries and discover things. I never made it, though. I came to a screeching halt at my face. I've been journaling about it for days. There's a lot to say.

There's a popular term called Resting Bitch Face or Bitchy Resting Face. I have to admit I lost my mind laughing when I heard it years ago. I totally have that.

I own it.

But I like to call it Stoic Russian Mennonite Face. Half of my ancestors were Russian Mennonites. You know why they had those faces? They had been kicked out of country after country because they were pacifists. They believed people should be able to choose baptism for themselves after a certain age and that church and state should be separate. At the time, rulers were aligned with religions that baptized infants. My ancestors were a threat to social stability. Mennonites and the like were seen as radical and dangerous.

Every few decades, they'd settle in a country, work the land, contribute medical service or other labor in place of going to war. Eventually, the governments of the day would take their developed land, change the rules and say fight or leave. Most would move on, newly destitute. Others would stay and be sent to work camps or killed.

They led simple lives and believed that simplicity, toughness, and self-reliance made them better people. Imagine a Mama who just gave birth to her tenth child and is filling the outdoor oven with fuel by hand to get the fire to just the right temperature and bake bread for her family. She'll scrape the burnt part of the bread and make coffee from the scrapings. Bitchy. Resting. Face. 

Compared to that upheaval and diaspora, my life is cake. I still have "stuff'" though. I'm getting older. The laugh lines are mixed up with the stress cracks in my forehead. I have a zillion things going on in my head at once. Sometimes that's because of mania, but most of the time, it's due to motherhood and being a writer. 

Thinking about if my son has pink eye, scraping peanut butter out of the nearly empty jar, having a spark of an idea for a novel, and listening to my daughter tell me about her day all at the same time looks like hostile anger on my face. I can't help it. 

After days of writing about my hangups with my face, the most important discovery I made was that it's one more arena where I don't have control. It's one more chance to practice getting my respect from me, and me only. I can't control how people see me. I have to remember that I'm whole and I understand me, and I don't need other people to do that for me.

I've been labeled a snob, spacy, cranky, aloof, stuck-up (my perennial favorite), and bitchy because of my facial expressions. Oh well. I can't be me and contort my face to other people's liking. 

I also have no control of a culture that celebrates pleasing, demure women. I am that person sometimes and I recognize when it works in my favor. Other times, I let the gray grow out and eschew makeup. I yell at my kids in public (when it's absolutely necessary) and I see people scurrying away. 

I even kinda like it. I put on a large flowery mental housedress, cross my arms and flex my peasant-born man-back. I curl my top lip enough to look unapproachable and think, "Ya, this is my face." It's the best way to fully accept the shadowy parts of my nature and that feels fantastic.

Because this post wouldn't be complete without photos:


This is one of my great-great grandmothers. She had 3 husbands and 13 children. 
Isn't she pleasing and demure? 

(Not a Russian Mennonite, but every picture I have of her contains a Bible. 
Her son and grandson would go on to become outspoken evangelists in the South.)