Poem: On Waking


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Pinned

a butterfly plucked

from flight by a

4-eyed entomologist

tacked and hung forever

frozen

Limbs

askew and filled with lead

pumped dry from

sleepless climbs through endless starts

with dry breath and thick lips

Eyes

swollen marbles unseeing

remembering lilting dreams

un-blinking

tears dried from cracked blinks

Deep

beneath fathoms of murky sea

bubbles squeezed nitrogen pop

as spiny creatures swim

too close

Heart

chipped down to pebbles

swallowed by a bird

it beating too fast

in her chest

Hammered

to the slab

by the nightly joy ride

that crashed upside down

leaving the driver

Pinned

with the seat belt

still on

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Joy Through Sacrifice


Watching an interesting TED talk today about a young Arctic surfer (yes, you heard me right, that was Arctic surfer), he said something that really struck me–not about surfing, but about sacrifice. As you can imagine, someone who surfs in frigid waters does a fair amount of sacrificing.  He does it in part to get away from the normal tropic crowds, but also to take these amazing photographs. To paraphrase very loosely he said something like: most things worth any kind of real joy usually involve some kind of sacrifice.

That gave me pause.

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I began thinking about some of the things that take sacrifice but bring joy:

  • 9 months of carrying a baby: the worrying, the weight gain, the hormone shifts, the vomiting, the swelling, the potential dangers involved…
  • being in a relationship: any kind really. It’s constant ups and downs, bargaining (with the kids, partners, co-workers, family members), tears, give/take, compromises, giving away parts of yourself at times
  • having a dream or goal: these can take huge amounts of time, money, changes in lifestyle and re-evaluating ourselves for the final outcome
  • moving somewhere new: leaving friends and family behind; leaving a career or job, doing something scary, taking a leap of faith
  • starting over (with a job/a person/or alone: leaving your comfort zone, stretching parts of yourself you may not know you had, or totally remaking yourself
  • helping others or someone else: living with less than normal, learning about other cultures (which maybe is uncomfortable), focusing less on “me”
  • giving up something completely: getting used to life “without”, feeling what it’s like when others perceive because we are now “different”
  • changing our point of view for the greater good: getting into arguments (political/family?), battling within ourselves over the old point of view, reconciling what’s right/wrong
  • coming out: about our sexual orientation, addictions, mental health, illness, abuse, political view or anything else we’ve been keeping inside for fear of judgement, shame or condemnation
  • sharing our home with animals: limiting our work day, getting up in the middle of the night, cleaning up hair, poop and vomit off the floor
  • Waiting: for anything you want, it can be excruciating at times because we are a culture of wanting everything now, having patience is like hot iron swirling in our bellies…the loss of precious time while we wait
  • standing up for what you believe when others around you don’t agree: this can be going to rallies or being a vegan, it can bring agitation or arguments from others, confrontations or simply tiresome questions
  • sharing our home with children: never having peace and quiet (or rarely); suddenly realizing you have to sacrifice so much and become a very good teacher when you hardly know yourself (or much else for that matter…)

There are so many more things…what can you add to the list? And it all comes down to mindset like anything else really. We give to get. Nothing comes easily really.  It seems like many things feel like work these days, and trying to pick out the little pieces of joy can be tough. But when you think about the sacrifices we make all adding up to something beautiful–that it’s the wrapping surrounding the gift inside, then it doesn’t feel quite so much like drudgery. 

So when you are climbing that next mountain and it feels like hell: the boots are giving you blisters, the sweating like a banshee and the mosquitoes buzzing around your head: remember that when you get to the top you will see this incredible view of the world below. Every step you took to get there was worth what lies before you as you look out. See it as you breathe the joy and try to remember that you couldn’t have experienced the splendor without a bit of pain.

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Poem: Sweet Lies


How many blown out wishes

just climb onto the curling smoke

and float away

I have breathed hard into my dreams

forced my diaphragm to believe

that blowing would make it true

The melting wax proves my plight

but the cavity left empty by sweet lies

leaves me wondering

if any of them

ever came true


 

Benches


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As she sat quietly on the bench, she recalled so many times of reflection. Times of stopping, of sitting still to breathe and think of her life. It wasn’t always easy to create these moments, to stop the moving train that was her life, long enough, to simply see what was around her.

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These benches were everywhere. Even if people were around, they could cradle her; let her thoughts roll through her mind, easing the turbulence with the help of the surrounding landscape. They were guardians, givers and saviors.

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Sometimes she would be present, sometimes drift off to another place.  Somehow they were conduits of time travel: as though a space had opened up and she slipped into it and could go forward or back, depending on her mood. Because of this, she walked in places long forgotten, places of lost love or deep pain. The remembering, though, somehow put it in an ethereal plane, so the visitation became moments of healing.

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Some places to sit weren’t really benches at all, but still created for her the right second to watch a sunrise. Just the act of seeing one could erase months of chaos in her soul.

She remembers now these sacred vessels and can recall far into childhood how many she has visited. From cities to the middle of nowhere, the times she took to just stop and sit–to contemplate, meditate and be quiet.

And now she wonders: where are all the benches yet to come?

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The Next Decade


As I boldly step into this sixtieth decade, where this woman has never gone before, I sense it will be an interesting one. I already know that I will be experiencing things that have never happened to me before, and portray roles unknown to me. This is both scary and exhilarating at the same time!

Ten years, while it may seem like a long time, can quickly speed by. The last ten certainly did and brought with them so many ups and downs. While I can’t ignore the past decade and its emotional pitfalls spattered with the not as memorable good snapshots, I’ve decided to do the sensible (and recommended) thing and live in the now.

So that even means not looking too far down the road of the next decade, although there are enjoyable moments where I can’t help it. Hey, my kids are all off doing their own things now, I’m single by choice, my health is good and I have a great imagination! Why not, then, occasionally dream about what may be in my future? All the fun places I might chose to live, or a new career choice, people I may meet, my future creations…the possibilities are as big as my mind.

But we don’t get there except by living day by day. And I plan to make each one of those days as satisfying as I can. My plan is to stay healthy and positive, remain open to new ideas and keep learning/reading/researching. With all these things, maybe the next decade will be decent. I’m not reaching for the moon, just a good walk on this troubled earth.

Most of all, I want to remember to be in the now, breathe and stay in constant touch with the world around me. Hopefully this may help to slow the next 10 years a tiny bit.

Poem: Olfactory


I was on a run

And I smelled a smell

Someone drying clothes

Their billowing steam

Hit my brain

It took me back

To all the Laundromats

(Laundry mats?)

Where I had washed

Countless clothes

Until I had joined the ranks

Of proud home owner

Other smells

Take me back

To places I’ve been

Perfume I bought

Because my Grandma

Floated close by

Nose and brain

Flash pictures before us

The first sign winter approaches

Or that spring is coming

Skunk scent

City smog

The lover’s smell

Our office space

Holiday joy

A baby’s skin

Puppy breath

Emotions swirl

With a smell

And a memory

The blind do this better

Than those that see

And cave people

Had instinct

The nose kept them safe

Close your eyes

Breathe the smells

Go back in time

Use your senses

And see the world

Differently