November 2011

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The Worry Jar

 Fretting, on the verge of worry, she walks slowly to the library, really a glorified office, but possessing more books than anything, she feels justified in the label. There, on the highest shelf, it waits. The Worry Jar. A beautiful apothecary glass, it holds, quite literally, a lifetime of worries, or at least the significant, remembered ones, worthy of writing in her finest hand on a slip of paper.

The whole endeavor was her mother’s idea, a method to quell the anxious heart of an overly nervous child. “We’ll write whatever is worrying you down, put it in the jar, and that will be the end of it, okay?” Though it didn’t exactly work as promised, the hope it offered soothed her like a balm, which, like so much in life, was enough. As a result, the jar had never once been emptied, and moved, along with its owner, contents lovingly swaddled in a towel and carefully packed in a box, nearly a dozen times, even crossing several international borders.

They were positively crammed in, and she remembers now, after writing her last worry (what was it?) and masterfully packing it into the jar, that there was not a millimeter more space. What to do? She carefully takes the jar from its high perch, holds it before her eyes and peers in, wondering what harm there could be in letting just one go. A simple one, from the bottom, and childhood? Yes, she thinks, she could definitely step on a crack and not break her mother’s back. How silly she had been!

She carefully sets the jar down and begins to unscrew the lid. As she does, something unexpected happens, for it begins to vibrate, gently, at first, but then with something nearer to violence. She tightens her grip and brings the jar back to eye level, realizing the worries are moving, spinning, gyrating, like bees? Yes, bees!

Though she doesn’t understand the alchemy, she most certainly understands the desire for freedom, so she hurriedly sets the jar on the desk and turns the lid. She closes her eyes, and the bees swarm, humming and fanning her like a queen before disappearing into the ether.

In the quiet of their absence, she opens her eyes, heart aflutter, and glances about the room. Had it really happened? The jar lay on its side, empty, save a glossy slick of honey and a single slip of paper, written in her mother’s hand, that reads: Don’t worry, sweetheart. I love you.

Art & Letters is a collaboration:

Story written by Colleen Sohn

Artistically interpreted by Maren Jensen




If I blur the lines,

I lose the parameters:

success or failure

truth or fiction.

Would that inability to see clearly make a kinder, gentler me?

Would I approach life with more care and curiosity,

not knowing what is before me?

In a sense, it is already true.

I see the road ahead and know its curves by heart, but what of

the eagle soaring, a friend coming to call, a poem out of the blue:

God’s hand, plain and true.

Blur the lines.

Know not what you see

Until it unfolds

In its own time.

Colleen Sohn



Do you remember this?  Well, I hurt my knee again, and yes, it happened while sitting on the toilet.  I am a short, child at heart kind of person and like to let my legs swing.  I hope you weren’t drinking a beverage while reading that sentence.  The hubster always seems to tell me funnies while I am drinking, and it takes all my superhero power to keep it from exiting via my nose.  Or perhaps you didn’t find it funny.  That’s okay, too.  It takes all kinds.

Anyhoo, as a result of my injury, though it is much less severe than last time, and my great luck to have a perfect fall day, yesterday I skipped yoga and tramped around instead.

I explored like a tourist and made every attempt to walk streets I hadn’t in a while.  I am always amazed at the intimate details of cities, those bits that unify humanity: a proud papa strolling his little one, a kaleidescope of leaves on the ground, puffs of clouds in the sky, cats clamoring for belly rubs before dashing off.  This is happening here, this tiny little world, yet there are variations of it in a myriad of places.

Am I walking down those streets, too?  Is the light as bright, the air as crisp, my smile as broad?  Is my camera slung about my left or right side? Did I remember my gloves?

Do you wonder about these things?  Do you struggle to put them to words?  Perhaps your thoughts are elsewhere.  What is for dinner?  Is that crazy lady in the sunglasses crossing the street to talk to me? Man that baby is cute in her green sweater.  I wish I were courageous.  I wish I didn’t have so much to do.  I wish you were here, holding my hand.

Then there is a flash, a ruffling of leaves, a flurry of bird wings, and silence before it begins again.  I walk on and home to love.




I knit that, or rather, am knitting that.  It’s not exactly finished.  It was an unexpected turn of events, truth be told.  Seven years ago, after a botched attempt at knitting a sweater, I thought I’d given up the knitting needles for good.  Then Maren made a cowl during her sojourn here in Oregon and I thought,  “I want one!”  So, off I went to buy a skein of yarn and needles and got the party started.  Well, I wish it were that easy.  I read the directions in the Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Needlework (circa 1979), which is possibly one of the neatest how-to books ever, started, then ripped it out about ten times (shit, shit, shit), then got the hang of it, and here we are. I am looking forward to a warm neck.  Our house is cold.

The cursing is another unexpected turn.  I used to be a prim Polly when it came to such things, feeling enormous guilt when I let a zinger slip, most definitely left over from a childhood (who am I kidding, adulthood, too!) of wanting and believing I could be perfect and good and sweet and liked by all.  Well, as it turns out, cursing can be fun (fuck ya, bitches!), needed, and appropriate, and being liked by all is not all it is cracked up to be.  Besides, there are plenty of no good louts on my list of people to avoid.  I might as well balance the scales.  Yup.

I also never expected that right about the time I started to love my body as it is that it would go and change on me.  Now I don’t know if this is at all tied to the fact that I am now forty years old, or if it is some sort cosmic joke (you should have done this sooner, honey!), but dang.  The skin on my face continues to baffle me and at my eye appointment last week found out that I need to wear bifocals when I read or knit or write.  Bifocals!  The good news on that front is that I found an awesome pair of vintage frames, and if all works out well and they don’t break in the process of putting in new lenses, I will be kitted out like the sassafras I am now embracing.  Photo below.

Finally and rather joyfully, after the quite unexpected suicide attempt of someone I know (such heavy news), I am reminded of the preciousness of life, the dazzling beauty of the everyday, and ever more gratified at the bounty of friends I’ve gathered together on this thin raft, near and far (Hef – get out your spyglass.  I’m waving at you!).  You are gems, and I love you all.



I wish I could show you when you are lonely or in darkness the astonishing light of your own being.



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