Poem: Fed


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Oh cratered heart

holy like Mother Teresa

and Swiss cheese

 

Eaten by disappointment

from the moment of conception

birthed into the recycling bin

to be repurposed into  something more useful

 

It becomes a hardened pit

squeezed tight with shuttered angst

surrounded by a sea of tears

whose salt will season the pain

 

And when the tides subside

and pull away from the gritty sands

it leaves behind a moist wet world

fed by a juicy beating heart

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Fighting Litter


 

Every year around Earth Day, my town does a cool thing: they provide these blue bags for residents to collect litter on the side of the road. But better than that, after it’s filled up with garbage, you can simply leave it and the town will pick it up. They do this for 2 or so weeks. The rest of the year, you’re on your own if you want to be a good Samaritan–and mind you, many of us are in my neighborhood. But those of us that are, are then left to bring the bags to the recycling center.

Today, when I filled two of these bags, which I did on my own (you can collect with a group), I was awash with a mix of emotions. It ranged from anger, pride, disgust, annoyance, dismay, hope and sadness.

Fifty years ago, when I was a teenager, I participated in the very first Earth Day. Back then I was a kid and it was a fun thing to do, but I had no real sense of the long-term impact of what I might be doing. Although I was a person that did have certain leanings, even then, I can’t say that I felt the same passion about the planet that I do today. But the seed was planted.

As I walked outside on this lovely New England today, I reflected on how much hasn’t changed in these 50 years. That we still have to go around and pick up after other people who continue to toss their garbage outside as they drive along. I guess I was kind of dumbfounded. I did a survey of what I picked up and here were the top findings:

1. Soda cans

2. Alcohol bottles

3. Fast food garbage: bags, plasticware, boxes etc.

4. Cigarette boxes/cigarette butts

5. Coffee styrofoam cups or plastic cups

6. Candy wrappers

7. Plastic bags

I found this rather interesting. It’s tempting to make a judgement here, but I won’t. You all can make your own. I personally keep a garbage bag in my car. I’m not sure I can understand what possesses someone to toss something out the window? Why, if you are eating fast food, you can’t simply wait until you get where you are going to dispose of your waste there?

Remember the days where there was a deposit on bottles? Then people didn’t just toss them! They would go around TRYING to find them so they could make a buck! Maybe these coffee places should make more of an effort to make everything recyclable if their some clientele may just throw stuff out their windows? Like those recyclable peanuts they use to wrap things–could this same material be used for iced coffee?

But what it comes down to is a change in attitude. I do see it in the grocery store. Thirty years ago I was the only one bringing in my own bags–now I see lots of folks doing it AND the stores promoting it! Some even give you a discount if you have them! Maybe coffee shops could do this by telling you to bring your own drinking cup and get a discount? Or you could get a card that would get stamped every time you had your own cup. Eatable candy wrappers? Deposits back on bottles? Come on people, this is America! We have to be smart enough to figure out how to make this better!

When a bagger in the grocery store still rolls their eyes at me when they have to pack my bags (which is rare now), I tell them (because they are usually young), hey I’m doing this for you! The less garbage we all produce, the longer this earth will be here for you. Does it sink in? Maybe not. But it makes me feel better to say it.

Finding One’s Purpose


Today my middle daughter came over to see me. It’s rare that she does and today it was for a reason. This daughter has struggled most her life with a multitude of disabilities: emotional,  health, psychological and even, to some, degree physical. We were all shocked (even her) when she finally got her driver’s license and they issued her a handicapped plate for her small stature!

She came into our family when she was two years old as our foster child and we adopted her some years later. The family blending has never been easy, for any of us, but especially for her. Family life, school life, her social life and just life in the ‘real’ world has been a challenge for my daughter. But she plows on.

At 19 it was time to graduate HS. I wanted her to stay on, stay plugged into HS and continue to get as many skills she could to deal with the big, bad world. But the odds were against me. The teachers wanted only to push her out, my ex-husband didn’t want to fight with them and my daughter couldn’t wait to get out and be an ‘adult’.

So off she went, completely unprepared for what awaited her! And of course, spend three years unemployed. She also moved in with her boyfriend’s parents and has spent many unhappy moments there. Since then she has found a job here and there, but is usually fired as she is ‘too slow’ according to most reports from management. This is hard for her to hear as she is a hard worker and so willing to do anything.

These cumulative years of unemployment and being fired brought her sadness and discouragement. Finally there was hope when she was hired by none other than the huge corporation of Wal-Mart! Generally I hate that place, but was pleased they were giving a disabled person a chance. And she’s been flourishing there for many months.

Until I heard from her yesterday. She called me to tell me they instituted a new blood born pathogen policy. My daughter may or may not be a lot of things, but one thing she knows about is this topic! She has studied it, researched it, read about it and most importantly: LIVED it! So when she read it, she knew something wasn’t right. Now while she doesn’t comprehend things so well, I read it too and saw immediately she was correct.

The policy not only left out important facts, but appears to be violating basic medical rights. It’s sketchy and looks like it is hard-arming employees into doing something that they should not have to do. My daughter focused on this and said: NO, I will not do this and don’t have to because I have rights!

I explained to her that if she pushed management she would mostly likely be subjected to losing her job. She fully understood this fact. She said: I lived with this disease my whole life and am saying: no more. I never felt more proud in my whole life! Here’s a kid who struggled for years to find a job and a purpose, when all along, it was right there under her nose! She’s an advocate. And who better to be one, then someone who lives with this every day of her life?

We all struggle to find our life’s purpose. Some know from a young age that we are born to help others, or to be an astronaut, or to sing, paint, write or teach. But those of you who are like me are still struggling. Purpose can be elusive and slippery. It may not be a career that we do, but a characteristic we have; we might be a giving person that touches every person we meet. Or maybe we volunteer at many local organizations. We might have dedicated our lives to being the best parent we could be. That might be our life’s purpose. Maybe it’s caring for our planet by being a vegetarian, gardening, recycling, using solar and going off the grid. Our religious beliefs may guide us towards our purpose on earth too.

Maybe we’ve never looked closely at what our purpose might be. Or like me, I frequently toss in bed wondering what it is supposed to be. I’m sure my daughter hasn’t worried about it one bit. But it was so clear to me what hers must be. She has touched my life in many ways for sure. My journey with her and her HIV status opened my eyes to other’s struggles. We never know the inner struggles someone may have that we cannot see. Whether in their blood or in their soul, mind or heart. But they too may have a purpose for being here, like you.  And we must all help one another cultivate, share and expand our purposes here on this planet we call home.

Earth Day


I just had to reflect that I was at the first earth day in 1970. Yes, I was a freshman in high school. Do the math! I heard some stats on the radio about how many participated then and how many are now. Pretty cool. But what I recall was picking up trash with some fellow classmates. We still laugh about it.

Of course Earth Day, recycling and caring for our planet has become no laughing matter now. Now it has become a matter of necessity to save the earth, our Mother. I’ve become an avid recycler, composter and green person in my household. Have been for years! I have brought recyclable grocery bags with me way before it was popular. In fact, people used to look at me like I had three heads! Now it’s common place. I’ve been a vegetarian going on 36 years reducing my carbon footprint also.

There is much more I would like to do and hopefully some day I will. This year I am putting in a pellet stove. And I am contemplating a hybrid car because of all the commuting I do. I will never stop trying to help keep my planet safe.

And who knows: maybe the seed was planted oh so long ago on the Earth Day in 1970 as a silly teenager. We all thought it was just another day outside. Someone’s crazy idea to pick up garbage. But it took hold: for a generation to come and in my soul too. Hopefully the idea will recycle itself year after year to each new young person so that the seeds of hope and renewal will continue to grow.