Keep Moving Annie


“There are eight million stories in the naked city. This has been one of them.” I can still hear those words as each episode of NYPD’s 65th Precinct came to conclusion. I realize the series ended in 1963, likely the time a black and white television arrived in our home.

Earlier this week I heard a story that would not have made the Naked City episodes as there was no official crime involved, unless neglect and regret count.

After swimming lengths in the overcrowded lanes, I met a woman as we headed to the showers of the local pool. We started with weather chit-chat, of how nice the January chinook was and we ended with her sharing the story of her under valued mother-in-law, whom they had buried about ten days earlier.

She just stopped moving. She didn’t have a real disease, it wasn’t like she had cancer or any real diagnosed illness. She didn’t move.”  Sheila expressed guilt, that had she lived closer she could have been of more help, could have helped Annie up, taken her for walks, out shopping. She was convinced that her mother-in-law would be alive if more care had been shown. She expressed the group guilt they felt for having missed out by not knowing who this incredible woman truly was.  More of the story spilled out as  warm shower water washed over her sadness.

Annie had three sons, was a registered nurse, as well as a co-owner of several business she and her husband started. In the sixties, Annie was ahead of her time in that she worked alongside the men in the oilfields. She was tough and swore with the best of the men in the field. And yet according to my shower friend, Annie had a heart of gold, and only after she passed did they realize how much they would miss the woman who’d hidden behind the gruff facade. Annie was only forty-five when she lost her husband to a work related accident. In spite of that, she carried on and expanded the business with her sons, but it was always referred to as her husband’s business, even years after he died.  Sheila held her tears as she expressed the sadness that they had never recognized mother-in-law as someone who wanted or needed affection. In order to survive, the tough exterior was presented, if any man tried to make advances, the sons made sure it did not happen. Annie never again experienced the power of a romantic love in her life—regret filled this daughter’s voice over the missed opportunities.

At 79, Annie just quit moving.

I think Annie decided to shut down her business,  got tired of running it … got tired of feeling the need to be tough, the need to push hard, to pretend it didn’t hurt to live without love.

How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”
 another Annie said that―Annie Dillard, (The Writing Life)

A few things I ponder: how to let my heart be open, before it is too late.  Never presume the tough exterior is the true one, what is the story beneath it?  The importance to keep on moving. Doing does not replace being or knowing.



I never met Annie, but I wished I had.

Desire’s Journey-is it worth the trip?

        THE JOURNEY OF DESIRE              Image

I spent the weekend camping in the mountains. Alberta has some majestic scenery & I feel privileged to experience it. The book I brought along was John Eldredge’s  “The Journey of Desire,” sub title – “Searching for the Life We’ve Only Dreamed Of.”  I bought the book  at a second hand store, although it was in new condition. The inscription read:  “Mom & Dad,  Love M   2006.”  No underlined sentences, no dog eared pages, no coffee stains, NO signs of wear – I wondered if my eyes were the first to read it – even the newness of the book, reinforced the premise of the first chapters I read. The heart longs for something more in life, and then as disappointments come, we abandon the journey for deeper meaning and settle for ‘getting on with life.’ Gerald May writes “There is a desire within each of us, in the deep center of ourselves that we call our heart … Our true identity our reason for being is to be found in this desire.” (The Awakened Heart)

But Eldredge says too often we lose hope after cumulative disappointments in life,  and begin to accept a life of resignation and complacency instead of pursuing our heart’s desire. And in Christian circles we label these people dreamers, full of youthful idealism, and consider it a sign of maturity to suppress the inner longings.  Do I stop dreaming because it is easier to live with disappointment than dashed Hope?

These words challenge me, as I know my life is not what I expected or wanted it to be.  My heart aches with understanding alongside stories women have shared about the closed doors of their hearts, because it is too painful to risk.  I long to live a passionate life, to seek out beauty, to see the wonder and mystery in this thing we call life. I do not want to settle for superficial.  (Although is super part of superficial?)

The challenge for me, I pass on for you to think about …. WHAT is it you want? Have you listened to your heart? Sitting in the beauty of the mountains, my heart longed for more. Do I dare the risk of entering that journey of desire?

I’d love to hear any thoughts you have, or perhaps you have also read the book.

IMG_5314Mystical Mountains near Exshaw