Pure Joy

It’s been an entire week since my first play closed and the flowers are still in bloom. Bouquets delivered to door and at curtain’s close still unfold to celebrate on piano & table’s edge: daisies, roses, snapdragons, lilies.

And outside, blossoms tell me snow will not arrive, no, not this year. Daffodils will open before week’s end and our freshly mowed grass has left me sneezing.
I battled a bit of postpartum depression with my previous babes and I’m happy to report I am not a soldier for that fight this time around. Sure, it feels as though I crawled around in the trenches for a few weeks, a month or two ago, but I’ve added an element to my days that was missing before.

Pure joy. When I see it I say those two words aloud in its recognition. It seems simple, right? All around us, so often unclassified, unacknowledged. It’s Olive’s eyes, meeting mine with the sideways smile on her dimple-less face. It’s listening to Betty and Lucy share a battery candlelit bubble bath while whispering stories to one another. It’s so many things, really, that I know what it is NOT and choosing to give name to those moments, however small, are no help to me: sibling squabblery, laundry’s dirty pile, dog’s incessant bark. I’m choosing to breathe through those moments, tight lipped. They make less of an impression that way. This realization came after Betty said one feuding Monday morning,

“Lucy, Betty Said, “Don’t you know you shouldn’t repeat all the bad words mommy says?”

Now, don’t get the wrong idea. I wasn’t a tyrant with tourette’s. I was just declaring every situation for what it was with a giant lack of sarcasm. Now, I only choose to declare the moments of Pure Joy. And since the announcement of each one, I realize how abundantly enriched we are.

Being serenaded on my grandmother’s piano by a dear and talented friend as our reunited children play: Pure Joy.

Getting on the mossy ground beside little hands and tiny feet to witness an enormous slug’s adventure: Pure Joy.

Visiting our friend’s farm to meet day old lambs whose umbilical cords were still all pink and hangie. So new, those lambs. Such joy on the faces of babes meeting babes: Pure Joy.

Lucy May Meets a Lamb

Sam Smiles for the Lamb

Call me crazy, but you can even see it on the Mama Sheep, proud in her pen at ocean’s side. The sheep’s farmer told me she wasn’t a good mom. As if I hadn’t already known, I knew then I wouldn’t make a good farmer. Shhhhh, don’t say it so loud I wanted to say. She might hear you I wanted to say. Now, I don’t know what makes a good Mama sheep but, there, in the sunlight by her newborn babes she looked fine to me.

Guard Sheep, San Juan Valley Road

I’ve had my fifteen minutes of fame and it was glorious. I savored each second. Life at Lighthouse, Light at Limekiln was in sold out’s full bloom last week. 12 free verse poems, 52 pages: a memory piece in narrative verse about 1930s Limekiln Lighthouse residents: Pure Joy.

The Director brought the words from my pages to the stage with such craft and vision I am left astounded. The talented, talented Actors recreated these lives in history so beautifully I’m in awe. The Photographer who provided the projected stills, the Sound Technician who created the ambiance, The Theatre for paving the way to showcase history through story, and on, and on and on. Awe. Joy. My parents who traveled across the country, my brother-in-law and family who traveled across the county, my best gal pals who traveled from a neighboring island, and the editor/best friend who came from inland: Joy. Telephone calls from those in my heart who couldn’t be near; the family I’ve created here on the island through friendship and acquaintances who came from the community leave me feeling so supported, so loved: Pure Joy.

Teacher Pals, Best Whidbey Buddies

Emily and Me

I’ve worn many invisible name tags throughout my adult life: tortilla chip & salsa maker, barista, Poet, Teacher, & Mama. And because I felt I had a story to tell, I can now add Playwright to the list.

Limekiln Lighthouse

In the 1930s a girl lived by the sea, beside a lighthouse. She was the youngest of five. Her name is Agnes, and she lives down the street from me now. Betty presented her with flowers opening night and all throughout the performance, I kept leaning forward to see what she thought of the show. Her grandson and date for the evening was rendered speechless. After time, he told me he missed his great grandmother so much; it was as if he had been able to listen to her wisdom again.

All Agnes said to me opening night was that I had made a few mistakes. As it so happens, I switched which brother joined up to fight in WWII first. Chuck went first, then Jack. Sure, just names to me but an absence in her heart remembered. How did I miss that? I apologized. It was hard to turn and accept flowers and handshakes swallowing the mistake. At least I told her story through poetry, through her best of times and through joy. I told it while carrying my final baby girl in a tough pregnancy and while caring for my two year old and four year old. Maybe that allowed for one mistake, overlooked and lingering.

For a long time, I only felt that. Not the applause, the teary patrons congratulating me, the other writers asking processes’ specifics. Only that I made a few mistakes. That one line floated me out of the theatre on a wind of uncertainty. Well, Agnes called the next day and heartwarmingly thanked me for telling her family’s story and for making her a celebrity. She went on and on. And for that, for people to come to recognize her as the lighthouse keeper’s daughter, for that I am grateful. In that telephone call from Agnes what she could hear through my voice, that was Pure Joy. She never said that “mistake” word, only words of love. And what I heard from others in the following nights curtain’s close applause, congratulatory remarks by theatre’s door or grocery’s check-out isle is, also, Pure Joy.

I am also grateful that the audience, night after night, got it. Twelve free-verse poems tell the story in a non-linear way, non-chronologically. Someone dies in the middle, then in the next scene they’re dancing a jig. People weren’t confused, as I feared. They followed. They really laughed at the funny parts, hung onto my carefully chosen words from scene to scene and, some, were actually moved to tears at curtain’s close. It felt good to move people in the way that Agnes’ story moved me. Seeing people react pleasantly to my fourteen-month labor of love: Pure Joy.

Betty Beside Agnes Linguist Settles Murray’s Childhood Lighthouse Home

When Agnes arrived at the lighthouse, there were only roses in the house’s eves, hollyhocks and one Western Red Cedar.

That One Western Red Cedar

Agnes would go down with her Daddy to wind up the light and wave to whales from lighthouse’s deck.

My Family at Lighthouse’s Door

And so goes the tale, only in narrative verse. It seemed fitting to visit The Light a day after production’s close. We skipped stones at the tide pool beach around Dead Man’s Bay:

Luke Skipping Rocks, Vancouver Island, British Columbia in the Distance

We talked about how calm & quiet it was with The Olympics ’round the bend and with The Olympic Mountains in front. So calm and quiet, hard to believe our Cincinatti guests would fly back inland at midnight. They soaked up as much of the Pacific Northwest as they could.

Sam and Emily Looking out at Haro Strait

Dead Man’s Bay with The Olympic Penninsula in the Distance


  • What a beautiful post. Congratulations on your play. So wish we could've seen it.
    And so nice to see that flowers are in bloom somewhere.

  • This was pure joy to read. I'm so glad the play went well. I wish I could have seen it. Beautiful pictures.

  • D.Eisenhardt says:

    Thank you SO much for writing this. I've been thinking this very thing lately: Focus on the positives. And really, they happen so much more than the obstacles along the way, it's just that focusing on the obstacles too much, for too long, makes all the positives seem to diminish some how. And though it's a simple idea, it does take conscious effort to retrain ourselves to see the rainbow through the rain, to feel the rain tickle instead of anticipating the wet, to do the chores the day requires while counting the blessings we have. “I have to”, becomes, “I get to”, and that feels more like a choice. Which is what we have: A choice to denounce misery and suffering, and choose happiness in this life we've been given. Cheers to you and yours, and thank you for all you do.

  • Emily says:

    What a vivid reflection:) So glad you wrote it all down with words so carefully chosen so not to forget this beautiful and purely joyful time. I left a piece of my soul with you, your fam, and the PNW. Always do. Can't wait to see you again…….for chili perhaps?!?!! I wish I would have read your post before a minor mommy blow out I had today that involved cussing and impatience while helping a four year old get dressed. Nice. Love the pics you posted. E-mail me them when you get a sec.

  • Mama says:

    Thanks so much. Danielle, it is easier said than done for sure. Naming bliss in its moment takes a present effort, for sure. And, “I have to” replaced with “I get to” is another great example of staying positive and out of the trenches of melancholy. And Emily, I know you've left a piece of you here because I can feel it each day and for that I am grateful. Sara, you complimenting my photos means a lot. Truly. Finally, Katie, we have a DVD and I'd love to watch it with you guys when we visit.. xoxo

  • Thank you for the comment on my blog that led me here. I would love to write plays one day (I come from a directing and acting background). Your writing and pictures and attitude are inspiring. Good for you for focusing on the joy. It is especially hard when you have wee ones and get caught up in the chaos.

    Finding your treasure of a blog is not good for a woman who is in the process of weaning off the blogs she already reads. ; )

  • Blue Yonder says:

    Well hello there! You're right, I did enjoy it very much!
    Congratulations on your play. What a moment that must have been, and it sounds like a perfectly lovely subject!

    I'm glad to make your acquaintance, Jennifer, and look forward to knowing you more 🙂

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