Poem: Walls


Behind a wall

are sounds I do not

always know

The green trees

I see

hide voices rising loud

above souped up

cars

it sounds like shots

into the crowds

the wall

hides it all

Some walls

stand by

silently

in between

those wanting to come near

and cross beyond

while others wait

to make sure they can’t

while creating waves of fear

And some walls

make people

cry

and pray

and touch

their mourning souls

while their hands

slide upon its

limestone sands

We hold walls

inside our

complex selves

to play

hide and seek

from

real life beasts

who have come

to reside within

and we crawl inside

a darkened

crack

laying still

hoping it will not

find us

Walls

keep in

and

keep out

yet

quiet stones standing

as humans fall

fall

fall

 

 

 

 

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Poem: The Cold


What is this nose

like a pink petaled rose

and the streaming eyes

looking like they’ve cried

The booming head

so sunk on the bed

fever chilled sweating

leaving all freating

How did this enter

my core, my center?

And then spread all around

on my sacred ground

Taking over with delight

good blood cells take flight

So miserable I lay low

till it decides to go

taking with it my pep

and slowing my step

Thanks to all the trees

donating tissues for my sneeze

One day I will recover

and won’t be such a bummer

Hopefully soon

next year…immune??

 

 

 

 

 

Poem: Shot & Other Sadness Thoughts


They are gone

yet we tread on

dead-eyed zombies

feasting upon what they left behind

Their flickering ghosts

flash upon screens

and disappearing voices

echo to screams

yet we watch

holding

their dying dreams

***

I was handed my sadness like a suitcase when they pushed me out the door so long ago. It has been with me since then; something I hold near me as a reminder of the pain. But it is also a gift. A beacon to see pain in all other things. I carry that with me too. So this is why I will never truly feel at peace–not fully. Only tiny bits, at moments here and there. Because what I am meant to carry is a story of sorrow. And this sorrow gathers sadness and pain within it and to hide in the crevices, unreachable, forever.

 

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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Buried Treasure


There are some folks that search for buried treasure. Some of that treasure may be from sunken ships from long ago that legend tell tales of gold and jewels that went down with these vessels. Divers search and may come up with some beauties, or may find only fish and wood in the depths of ocean, or maybe nothing at all. But it might be the journey alone that draws these seekers, the hope of treasure and wealth and a visit into the past.

I’ve read of current day treasure hunts: wealthy men hiding trunks of money and producing hints with maps given in books that hungry hunters must purchase in hopes of finding the loot. Is it bunk and a lucky gent making his own treasure on unsuspecting innocents, or is there really something hidden waiting for some brilliant detective who can unlock the key?

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For me the buried treasure is of a different kind. It’s not material. In fact, I’ve been making efforts to rid myself of material goods, including ones of “value”. What is value anyway but what it means to someone. True, gold and diamonds have value if one tried to sell them in our market, but even these go up and down in price and they can sometimes cost so much they become: invaluable. Museums must hold onto pieces that are such treasures as to become priceless.

No, things are no longer what I am pursuing, but still my treasures have been buried. I’ve felt rather like some great explorer that has gone on a long expedition to some unheard of place to find my gems. The natives were not always hospitable and the climate often harsh. The tools I brought with me I found, at times, were primitive and didn’t quite do the trick as I tried to dig and dig to find this deeply hidden trunk of goods.

The maps I had were often handed to me by people who had no idea where I needed to be or what I was looking for; they were crude and often in a language I did not understand. So I tossed them aside and plunged on, sometimes through jungle brush, other years in desert heat sucking the water out of my pores. But I knew if I kept going, eventually I would find the goods.

There were years that I walked in circles. And sometimes I would just lay down and cry. Sometimes I had the strength of a tiger and the eyesight of an eagle, feeling like I was closer and closer. But then the treasure would slip away and I would have to start again.

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I’ve learned over the years now, that the maps I needed were with me written in an invisible ink only I could read. They were my maps to find my treasures. When I looked really closely, I noticed that the path lead me through all those places I had gone: the jungles and deserts and around and around–it’s where the trail led, I just hadn’t seen it before now. None of it was by accident.

And all the people I met along the way, they were in the Legend of the map, part of landscape I was meant to wander on path to the treasure. In fact, when I squinted just right, I saw that I actually had found treasure in each of these villages! There were markings showing that’s where some of the jewels were: the people, even the ones I thought were hostile had given me something I didn’t know, a tiny gem of knowledge.

But after walking, searching and following this map–and scrutinizing it carefully, I saw something that brought wonder to me. It appeared I was coming very close to the buried treasure that I had been chasing for so long. Maybe I’m only steps away now it seemed. The map showed it was at the center of everything: bright and brilliant, overflowing with energy.

I’m almost there now. The treasure. My treasure, buried–inside of me.

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Goodbyes


Goodbyes are convoluted and strange things.

Some goodbyes can come from a place of pain and sorrow. Two friends who have worked together for years, and now one is moving far, far away–and it’s the last day they will work in the same place. Oh, they will still always be friends, but this goodbye certainly changes the nature of their friendship as it morphs into another shape, more nebulous, less tangible and not as easy to grasp.

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Or the goodbye we say at a funeral, the quiet moments surrounding any loved one’s death. This one-sided, mournful, hollow goodbye cried out into the unknown. Some believe it may be heard and that we will meet again, but on this earthly plane, those tears, that goodbye can no longer be shared with the one that is gone.

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And there are angry goodbyes. Maybe two of us agree to say goodbye and both feel the heat of the word between us. When we turn our backs and decide to walk away, cut our losses and be done. But sometimes one takes the brunt of goodbye from another and is left standing alone and bereft of all that once made them whole. These are devastating goodbyes. These are almost worse than death in some ways as they are not finite so they leave us feeling in some ways this duplicity of hope and inadequacy.

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There’s just the simple goodbye: see ya later, bye bye, adios, au revior, ta ta… Like I’ll see you tomorrow and it’s no big deal. The thing to remember, though, is that we never know about tomorrow and what can happen. Things can suddenly change and maybe tomorrow won’t come. Maybe we won’t get the chance to say goodbye.

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So then, goodbyes hold all this meaning depending on how it’s used.  That old saying of ’till we meet again’ is something we should keep in mind, maybe replacing goodbye with it. And even if we’re angry and want to walk away, can we do it on a positive note: take a deep breath, remember the good times (if there were any) and close the chapter peacefully? It’s not always possible or practical, but when it is, it builds good karma one would hope.

I will close with one of my favorite goodbye (of sorts) speeches of all time. Because, maybe this is, after all, just one big dream. And when we wake, well…who knows?? Maybe all the goodbyes won’t be necessary as the scenery is different and the actors all still live and are part of your company. Yes, yes….maybe it’s all just been one bad dream……

“If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended,
That you have but slumber’d here
While these visions did appear.
And this weak and idle theme,
No more yielding but a dream,
Gentles, do not reprehend:
if you pardon, we will mend:
And, as I am an honest Puck,
If we have unearned luck
Now to ‘scape the serpent’s tongue,
We will make amends ere long;
Else the Puck a liar call;
So, good night unto you all.
Give me your hands, if we be friends,
And Robin shall restore amends.”

A Midsummer Nights Dream–By William Shakespeare

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On that note: merry meet and merry part and merry meet again!

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Capture


 

Last night I was standing around the fire station with some friends. Two of them had to show me ‘home movies’ of their kids. Of course these weren’t real home movies because they were on their smart phones. A few of us were clustered around the tiny screens, listening as best we could as the kids did their adorable stuff.

But it gave me pause. I am much older than these friends and they have kids much younger than my daughters. When my girls were their ages– we took real movies. We had one of those big cameras that we would grab every time they would do something cute or just to capture important events. Even the birth of my last daughter is-for better or worse-on one of these old VHS tapes.

The thing is: my kids LOVE these tapes! My youngest daughter pulls these movies out frequently! She’ll be watching them, and sometimes drags her friends to watch them too, and then I get suckered in. Of course I get teary watching them: how cute they were with their goofy little outfits,  the lisp, cake smeared on their faces or just the fact that we all still were a family then.

And this all made me wonder…with these kinds of movies becoming a rarity, how will our future generation come to enjoy these same kinds of memories? Or the parents for that matter? While a nation may share the most intimate of detail of their lives with thousands of strangers through the internet now, somehow we may have lost the gift of capturing these intimacies within our own lives.

Somehow I think we feel it is more important now to be connected to a bigger and bigger cross-section of the world. With Facebook, tweeting and the other social media we have moved away from the more personal circles. I heard on the news today about how people have stopped writing letters and would rather text. While people love to receive letters and they are tangible and can be kept (like a VHS tape), no-one will take the time any longer to write them. It’s considered a lost art.

Our world now wants everything to be immediate and throw away. What happens to the adorable clips I saw of my friends children when they get a new phone and the data card doesn’t download properly? All is lost! Even if they post it on Facebook, will their child be able to refer back to it 20 years from now to see it? And will it even be the same as having their friends crowding around a TV set watching a full length tape? A two-minute bit taken on a phone hardly compares.

It’s just another dinosaur that will go the way of extinction and with it take lovely memories and potential intimate moments a family can share. Looking back on one’s past, as and grown-up or even a young adult, can give great insight to who we are now. Laughing at the funny hairdo’s and crying at sweet sentimentality of it all is what these flashes of the past bring to us.

So while those blinks on your phone are great to share at work and Facebook, don’t forget to continue to take some real old-fashioned home movies. Your kids will thank you and you will be eternally grateful you did many years from now. Nothing beats watching my baby coming out of the C-section and hearing that first cry-even 20 years later!

Butterfly Wings


Recently my youngest daughter said to me, “Mom, you cry at almost anything now-a-days,” in reference to me getting teary about some news story on public radio. It certainly may seem that way to her, but in thinking back on this phenomena, I have always been very emotional about stories I hear (whether real or fiction), personal accounts of people’s woes or a lovely moment in time.

In thinking of maybe why this is I’ve decided that I attribute it to my empathetic nature when it comes to others or any living thing. Even as a young child, I recall not being able to watch the show “Lassie” without much difficulty because of all the traumatic events that she went through. Although I knew good always seemed to prevail, I couldn’t bring myself to get through the tough spots without suffering too much. Same with Bambi and Black Beauty.

These sorts of things are probably what drove me to become a vegetarian at a fairly young age and then finally a paramedic. I find in my job it is often tricky to separate myself from my human and professional side–something we are taught to do. But I also feel this is part of my special gift as a medic. I’ve never been the smartest medic with all the book answers at the tip of my fingers, but I have never hesitated to hold a hand, cry with a patient or kiss someone goodbye.

Sometimes it can be a heavy burden to be an empathetic person–especially in the world in which we live.  It feels like there is more fear, sadness, hate, violence and crime. With easy access to information, news of everyone’s troubles abound. And I hear it all, take it all in and am sometimes overwhelmingly pained by it all. I find myself stopping dead at what I am doing and just cry many moments of my day.

Of course, the same can be said for joy! A happy tale brings me warmth in my soul also–even if it’s from half way around the world. Stories of peace, kindness, hope and giving all bring those tears that make you wonder what exactly are tears meant to do? Why do we cry anyway? And yes, now I let myself feel even more deeply than I ever have and I’m never afraid to let others see it. My youngest saw my tears again today when we watched the old home baby videos. They were tears of remembering, regret, love, hope and seeing a moment captured in time that faded into unfulfilled dreams.

So while being who I am, empathetic–feeling the pain, sorrow, joys and hopes of others can often be a big task, it’s one I feel I was made carry out. It was who I born to be. Being an emotional, feeling person was always and will always be who I am. There is no changing how I feel and I am happy that I am one that can tune into others and help them when I’m close and send them my long distance energy when I’m far away. Because as they say: “the flutter of a butterfly’s wings can cause a hurricane on the other side of the world.”  Maybe me caring is somehow reaching people all over the planet.