A spacious place


About a month ago, I stubbed my toe so mightily I broke it.

This is not an unusual occurrence for me. I suppose I walk with a lot of force? And into things? Is there honestly a better explanation for why one frequently stubs toes?

Last night, I was heading to the living room to watch Michael Phelps win all of those gold medals when I slammed — slammed — my right pinky toe into the foot of the couch. It might as well have been a sledgehammer to the foot. Pain shot up my leg like an electric current. I collapsed onto the couch and SCREAMED INTO A PILLOW, no words, just one long primal shriek muffled by a cushion from Target.

Remembering it this morning I giggle — because sheesh Annie, overdramatic much? It was one of those moments that made me grateful I live alone; no one should be forced to bear witness to such hysteria (although I will say that it did hurt like a mother trucker). Foxy came running down the stairs and looked at me, then turned around and retreated back to her safe corner in my bedroom.

Today while out for a walk, one of Foxy’s feet collided with a large landscaping rock. I heard the hit, it was so hard. She stubbed her toe! We both froze, and then she curled her paw up underneath her, refusing to put any weight on it. She looked straight into my eyes, a big fat “What just happened?” and when I reached down for her, she willingly jumped into my arms like a toddler.

I carried all 40+ pounds of her for several city blocks, and wished for some giant to do the same for me.

Life is barreling forward — I’m wrapping up my job, heading into an unknown future, and while all I want to do is watch the Olympics and read my stack of books and have someone lift me up and carry the load, I’m moving too fast and running into things and screaming into pillows, a dog my only witness. It’s like the walls of my life are pressing in on me, the clutter tripping me up.

In many ways, this past year has been difficult. It’s been crowded and messy. The Dixie Chicks’ “Wide Open Spaces” comes on the radio and I want to cry, because is there any better cure for spiritual congestion than space?

A week from today, Foxy and I are going to hit the road for a while. We’re going to drive around and go on some hikes and share a string cheese every day. I’m in search of space, both physical and mental, landscape and soulscape. By the time I get back to Minneapolis, I plan to have an answer to the “What’s next for you?” question.

In the meantime, I’m taping this verse to my steering wheel:
“He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.” —Psalm 18:19



  1. Dave P on August 12, 2016 at 3:10 PM

    “It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”

    Best of all to you on your journey! And oh, hope that toe gets better, you’re not alone in the toe smashing realm. ;o)

  2. Andrea on August 12, 2016 at 3:57 PM

    If you’d like to see Joshua Tree National Park, you’re more than welcome at our home. There are lots of wise open spaces out here.

  3. Allyson H on August 12, 2016 at 4:56 PM

    Hootenannie – I have followed you for a long time but have never commented. I just wanted to say never give up. Keep on trucking..one step at a time. You will eventually find your place. I’m in the same boat as you. I’ve lived in over six states and left Denver this past November after 5 years. Life just got too hard there. I have been living out of two suitcases for the past 9 months trying to figure out what was next. I just moved up in the mountains of Colorado. Friends think I am crazy for moving around so much but I always know when my time is up and when I need to move on to the next chapter. At times I crave the life of someone that is all settled and has lived in one place but I have to remember that there is a reason for everything and that you have to live the life that has been set before you. Anyway, just wanted to encourage you and tell you to keep on moving forward. All of these little pieces of your life will eventually form into a beautiful puzzle.

  4. Laura on August 12, 2016 at 7:05 PM

    I hope you find the relaxation and peace you’re craving. Safe travels!

  5. Amanda on August 13, 2016 at 7:10 AM

    “I can’t tell you how much I long for you to enter this wide-open, spacious life. We didn’t fence you in. The smallness you feel comes from within you. Your lives aren’t small, but you’re living them in a small way. I’m speaking as plainly as I can and with great affection. Open up your lives. Live openly and expansively!” -2 Corinthians 6:11-13 (The Message)

    You are so wise and you know what you need. Safe travels and may the God of grace and peace guide you in whatever is next.

  6. Michael on August 15, 2016 at 10:15 AM

    Oh dear…you and Foxy are our sisters. So many stubbed toes, so many streams of expletives, so sheepish after. We have spent the last few days in the car, driving from Ohio to Delaware and back just to attend a party. It was great! We saw sheep! And while we drove hard to get there, we meandered home, visiting historical sites, etc., and enjoying the sheer beauty of the Pennsylvania countryside. So much of Penn’s Woods, like so much of Ohio, is rural and lush, and you just know that anyone with any enterprise could still take up the plough in that soil and survive as my forebears did. It is good to roam teh open spaces, to hike, to soak in the grandeur. It reminds us that life is much more than a job, and love is where you find it. We love you and your fluffy dog! Embrace the journey. Indigo Girls, World Falls, is my go-to song…has been for decades. When I hear it now, though, I think of you and Foxy, out there on the trail.

  7. Katie Noah Gibson on August 17, 2016 at 9:11 AM

    Crowded and messy. I hear that. Hope you find some space to breathe deeply, Annie. xo

  8. Mark Allman on August 24, 2016 at 6:20 AM

    Enjoy your trip

  9. K.C. Yatsko on September 1, 2016 at 12:42 AM

    I don’t feel like I can really breathe unless I can see the horizon from where I stand. Which doesn’t happen often where I live. ;-) Totally understand the feeling of needing space. Traveling mercies, dear one. May the Lord be close and bring clarity.

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