Scuba Jetpack in the Kitchen (Center Part 3)

Scuba Jetpack in the Kitchen (Center Part 3)

What—another rough news week? (Gosh, I am shocked, shocked.) So it turns out we’ve got twelve years to get serious about climate change. In other words: My little boy just started pre-K, and by the time he reaches tenth grade, we need some serious environmental come-to-Jesus.

Everybody registered to vote?


On the subject of listening while change is still possible, but on a smaller scale than Earth’s ailing coral reefs:

Today I give you a little meditation on

Creaky tables, rowdy kitchens, and llama mania.

By the way, this is #3 in a series called Center. I’m writing this for you if «•» the news makes you feel like your sleeves are on fire «•» your life circumstances yank you in 72 directions «•» you are dispersed, distracted and distressed. «•» I’m there, too. (Catch up: Part 1, Part 2)

Back in the spring, I was getting those little creaks inside (I bet you get them too) that signal a change is coming in my life. They start out like the creaks of a kitchen table with a leg gone wonky. And I often respond—maybe you do, too—by trying to jigger things back into place and make them fit again. Which means, in real life,

  • asking for a little change, or making one;
  • sitting down for an honest talk;
  • seeing if we can tolerate/accept/adapt to the creak, for the sake of lubricating life.

All good and healthy. And often, that works.

But if a creak goes on long enough, even after I’ve done all this, I know I need to take some other action, or something’s going to break.


My springtime situation involved some tasks I’d been doing for the past few years. Things I delivered on a monthly or once-in-a-blue-moonly schedule, things I used to love doing. They were starting to creak.

Standard advice for simplifying one’s life includes Pare down your schedule or Say “no” more often. And yes, over-busyness was a factor. I’m a working mama, my free time is scant, and I had to be honest that my time-budget couldn’t afford all these commitments anymore.

More important, though: It was starting to feel like these commitments required some version of me that wasn’t whole and real.

photo: Sofia Titvinidze – @sopodesignsph0tography –

The longer I stayed connected to these projects, the more my head felt like a dinner party with too many people in attendance—all of whom had strong and differing opinions about the amount of jalapeños in the soup. I liked all these people a lot, a lot, but when I tried to make life decisions, their imaginary voices were all weighing in. Leaning on that creaky kitchen table.

Around this time, a line of poetry started to float into my head. I watched it. I repeated it to myself over the course of several days and thought about why it was visiting me. The line was this:

He brought me out into a spacious place.

(I’m not much of a Bible reader these days, but for many years I was—long enough that the poetry still hangs around. This one is from Psalm 18.)

A spacious place. I wanted that. I thought it over for a few months. Finally, one by one, I spoke to these guests I love, and put our commitments on indefinite hiatus. He brought me out into a spacious place.


For me—maybe for all of us—

this is an important part of returning to center:

photo: Sofia Titvinidze – @sopodesignsph0tography

just listening to what feels significant,
even if we’re not sure why.

If a line, phrase, or word keeps returning to me,
it often turns out to be something important.

Sometimes it’s not a word, but an image. For a while, it was citrus fruit. Funny, right? But that craving for brightness, the color of fresh clementines and lemons, was telling me something. I started getting more fresh air and sunshine, eating lighter, seeking out refreshment in all kinds of ways. I believe that words and images like this are visitors from the center of us.

(Detour: Do you ever wonder why certain images get trendy in culture? I don’t know exactly why hipsters and poets loved birds for a while, and then for a while everyone loved birds, but I think the images we get obsessed with usually point to something deeper. I’m not alone with the citrus thing; I’m noticing a lot of lemon merchandise lately. And regarding the current parade of unicorns, llamas, and sloths… well, talk amongst yourselves. End detour.)

photo: Sofia Titvinidze – @sopodesignsph0tography

If you are feeling off-center,

and you begin to notice a word/phrase/song lyric/image that keeps occurring to you, maybe some inner hospitality is in order. Maybe let those words linger at the table while you go about your business. It’s OK if they don’t explain themselves immediately. You just muse, over time, in a relaxed way: What could this mean? Why are you here, word? What do you have to say?

My experience: When it’s a useful word, it may be mysterious and challenging, but it also feels good somehow. Interesting and freeing. Not cramped and condemning.


I try to model this for my kids by listening to their preoccupations and enjoying their mysterious ideas. That aforementioned preschooler of mine—you know what that boy wanted to be for Halloween last year? A lobster princess. And I was like, “Oh yes son I am making you that lobster princess costume.”

This year, he wants to be a “bat chef with a scuba jetpack.” Wish granted.

One day he’ll get older, and he’ll want to be “like the other kids.” Totally get it. There are times not to wear your lobster princess costume. But then he’ll get a little older still, and I hope he remembers how to listen for the visitor in his kitchen.


If your head feels like an argumentative dinner party—

if several people are pushing for different versions of you, versions that don’t feel entirely true anymore—

or you kinda know the kitchen table’s creaking, and you’ve been ignoring it—

or you kinda suspect there’s a word waiting for your attention, but you can’t quite make it out:

it’s worth asking,

How can I quiet things down in this kitchen?

Perhaps a lobster princess with a scuba jetpack would like to have a word with you. 


(P.S. Leave me a comment, because I love hearing stories about this stuff. Have you ever had this experience of a recurring word/phrase/image that turned out to be important information for you? Am I crazy or what? Actually, I’m not crazy. But if this has happened to you, I’d really like to hear the story.)

Onward to Center, Part 4: Space in the Space

9 Replies to “Scuba Jetpack in the Kitchen (Center Part 3)”

  1. Thank you for this, June! I feel like this must’ve happened for me, but I can’t think of a particular time. I do, try to remember to listen for messages, and this is another medium. Thank you!

    1. HELLO Aurora! I feel like this must’ve happened to you too… It seems like something that would. Just my sense of you, even not having seen you in all these years. Maybe you’ll have a new one this week… 🙂 Thanks for reading! XO

  2. June,
    The thing loudest in my brain these days “Leave the 99”

    I guess because at my center my heart hurts for the 1. Thanks for your words of wisdom!

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