Tomorrow is Tracy’s surgery. She is having a spinal fusion, which is a pretty serious surgery. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous and a little scared about the unknowns.
But I am choosing to breathe positivity and healing and a full recovery into this day. So many folks have reached out and called to encourage us.
Their words have not gone unheeded.
I have taken them to heart and allowed them to remind me of what is important. I am so very grateful to God for good friends, for a supportive church community, and for a workplace that allows me to take time off.
I know it’s gonna be ok.
It’s Gonna Be Ok
They say it’s gonna be ok; They say it’s ok to be terrified— that everything will work out, but right now I’m not so sure.
One breath at a time, one foot in front of the other even when the path is dark and looming with uncertainties.
I am strong and brave, I am a force of nature, I am connected and whole— vibrating like a horsehair bow scraping against violin string.
Who could imagine the beauty created from that tension? Who could imagine how music bravely brings back life—
bringing light to the darkness breathing beauty into the ashes bowing a beautiful harmony into the lonely melody?
I have known defeat and I have known struggle, I have borne the weight of loss and nearly drowned beneath it.
So I will lean into that knowing— how to climb out of the depths, and how to cling to gratitude like a lifeline of hope.
One of the great privileges I have enjoyed is travel. Beginning with an opportunity to teach in China when I was in my early twenties, I’ve experienced teaching many different countries and cultures through the years.
On one of those journeys, I made a lifelong friend, a South African girl who was heading to Croatia/Bosnia to do humanitarian work. Through the years, Annelea has travelled and lived all over the world, and we have remained fast friends.
Annelea has been painting for many years. In different countries she has taken classes, made community connections, and grown as an artist. She has finally launched her website and has many beautiful pieces and prints for sale. She’s one of a kind, and her work is as delightful as she is!
This poem highlights one of Annelea’s paintings. I hope you visit her website and enjoy the beauty and movement of her paintings.
They move with the wind heavy feet plodding as dust rises— to them there is no today and there is no tomorrow;
there is only now and grass and eating and digesting. So the days move day to night, only in their dreams they move
beyond the roaring fire, beyond the crystal clear night beyond all the shining stars to the magic of the moon.
I wonder if other worlds like this one exist —- worlds where people and creature alike remain unfettered by time.
We are planting a garden again. I see all the little things I have missed. The wonder of growing and eating your own food.
I’m thinking about all of this as Evan is about to venture off on his first ever camping trip with his school class. They are sixth graders now, and they will stay three days at a beautiful campground inside the Sleep Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.
I know they are well-planned. I know his teacher is diligent and careful, but still I worry about all the things mothers do. He will be sleeping solo in his tent for the first time ever.
I started this poem a year ago and today, thinking about my own baby bird, it seemed the right day for reworking and finishing it.
I know it will all be ok. I know my baby bird needs to test his wings and fly, so a-camping he will go. But in the meantime, I’ll pray away the murder of crows.
Put the basil in the oil
and simmer gently. Breathe in the rich aroma of earth and life beckoning. I reckon I’ll stop a while and savor the scent.
While I waited, the garden started to green; flowers popped up on strawberry plants; and the bumble bees buzzed
around blooming flower pots. Deck sweeping becomes my new daily chore—helicopter seed pods, my arch rival. But
the scent is right for mid-spring and a robin has built its nest atop the back porch light. She guards her eggs carefully from
the fence post, flying at anyone who dares to walk too close. Most mothers are alike, you know, let a stranger even look too long
or wander dangerously close, and you’ll see us fly off with beaks pointing like a sword, dive bombing the noted offender.
But what if the offender looks like a bird? That’s the real danger— Crows can be tricky.
My son told me that the murder of crows are back again this year in Chicago. Seems to me a fitting thing for this year.
So what about that murder of tricky crows? Well, doesn’t that just muddy the waters? Bring on the mud daubers I say,
because they muck around building their nest from spittle and dirt, never bothering anyone unless provoked, and then,
oh! Oh and then those daubers reveal the truth in the saying, “Float like a butterfly sting like a bee!”
Basil and gardens and earthy scents; birds raising families the best way they know and murderous crows ruthlessly cutting them down.
What shall I do with the madness? When all I want is the bounty of summer in the middle of drought— in the middle of monsoon rains.
After the babies have hatched and grown feathers of their own, they fly up and over the garden wall and into the wild open spaces.
The danger of crows prevails, but I wonder how they will know the rich aromas of life on earth beckoning them to explore
I wonder how they will grow and plant and rise up; how they will be strong and wary and yet somehow
wiser than those who came before? Please dear God, let them be wiser than those who came before. Let them be wiser than I.
Today’s prompt honors one of my favorites, Mary Oliver. I was challenged to write a poem based on the natural world: it could be about a particular plant, animal, or a particular landscape. I needed to try to incorporate specific details while also stating why I found the chosen place or plant/animal meaningful.
Remembering our lovely day spent among the redwoods, I wrote about them because I will never forget the size of the trees, the wonder walking among them, the nail-biting drive up and down and around hairpin turns, and the stunning beauty brought with the rounding of the bends in the road.
of trees and song
sprawling, mossy overgrowth living velvet green reaching, knobby redwoods house romantic clandestine
whispering, spider and fly meet in secretive coves praying, tranquility hinged on majestic groves
breathing, peace settles as songbird melodies rise laughing, i throw my head back and join the chorus reprise.
Watching the first episode of the Netflix Original “High on the Hog”, listening to the news stories of the fighting between the Israelis and the Palestinians, and reflecting on the documentary of the Holocaust in Hungary, my heart became weighted down.
The grief was real. And heavy.
But I know the importance of wading through the ugly parts of history. We must know where we’ve went been to know where we are going.
We remember the past, so that we don’t make the same mistakes again.
Life In The Middle
A story has no beginning and it has no end, which leaves me living somewhere in the middle. Though I’m not one who came before,
I’ve no breath without the exhale of my ancestors. I come home to the place they left; I hold on so that place is not forgotten.
We must know where we have been, and where we are in order to understand where we are going; if we choose to ignore the past,
we ignore a part of ourselves. Light shines in the dark, and sunshine chases away the dim shadows, but where do the memories hide?
Where does the past leave the present? In the stillness of the night skies, there lives the anguish in our blood— fragments of a lost memory.
If we don’t valorize the past, who will? I’m not the beginning of the story, and I am not the end. I sit here with you in
this moment, knowing who we are, understanding our connection, convening with our ancestry— and choosing never to forget.
Two things happened today. First , I think I came across one too many platitudes on social media. I think I’ve grown tired of the same old being labeled as new. I’m just tired of it.
Second, we drove by a church on the way home from school today, and Evan made the unsolicited observation, “So many churches say things about how they ‘love people’, but they don’t really mean it, Mom. What they mean is that they love people who look like them.”
Painful truth out of the mouth of a 12 year old.
I think that this poem came out of my brain processing all these things. I used a long line poetry form—13 syllables in each line and an “aabb” rhyme scheme within each quatrain.
Wind In My Sails
I used to believe in the power of platitude a well turned phrase spoken with just the right attitude— a spirit of humility mixed with compassion, a spark of light with the ability to cash in
despair for hope. But there came a time when I required more than empty words and broken promises acquired from someone else’s wisdom. I needed to live in my own truth, and I needed to refuse to give in—
needed to refuse the bill of goods sold off as truth, sold off as positive conformity to the youth. So when I finally stood and shook off the shackles, I found myself straight-backed, fearless, and without hackles.
Just to be clear, I do still believe in the power of gratitude, the gift of grace, rest in each hour; I believe in the unflappable human spirit, the inner voice of God whether or not I hear it.
I have to live my life and to see things as they are to walk my own road and fly low under the radar. Platitudes should go the way of frogs and fairy tales— when I release them, I feel the full tilt of my sails.
This unique syllable pattern repeats for each new stanza.
And so I began.
Five different false starts later, I settled on “things”. Between cleaning my closet out while watching hoarders, and trying to get everything organized in the house before Tracy’s spine surgery, the topic seemed a natural one.
Why and how does junk continue to collect? Why is paper the bane of my existence?
I don’t know the answers, but I know that this poem is a good reminder to focus on what really matters. Investing in relationships is way better than investing in Amazon.
what really matters
things take up wings and fly into the tiny recesses of our lives, she guesses. now the tempest rising becomes
our tasting sour and bitter with each acquisition; caused by our own fission— multiplying all kinds of junk.
stop. don’t buy. drop your wallet and spend your time with people, not on the myth that buying things brings happiness.
Today’s challenge was to write a poem that reacts both to photography and to words in a language not your own. I had to begin with a photograph, and then find a poem in a language I didn’t know. My mission was to start translating the poem into English, with the idea that the poem was actually “about” my photograph.
I chose a poem in Irish (Gaelic) and used a photo I took at the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland. First is the poem in its original language, and following is my “translation”.
Faoi Chabáistí is Ríonacha By Celia de Fréine
In ionad bláthanna a bhronnadh ar a bhean agus é i mbun tochmhairc, d’fhrasaigh Risteard bronntanais ar a máthair. I dtosach tháinig na málaí plaisteacha, ansin na saic, iad lán le glasraí a d'fhás sé féin a is a athair. Leasaithe go nádúrtha. Uiscithe faoi scáth hoíche i rith an triomaigh. Turnapaí ar aon mhéid le do chloigeann. Prátaí Rí Éadbhard as ar deineadh na sceallóga ba shúmhaire. Cabáistí sách leathan le ceathrairíní a cheilt. Ní raibh bean Risteaird ag súil le ceathrairíní – iníon a leanbh sise, í tugtha go mór do fhrithbhualadh na glúine, ar nós a máthar.
Fair Chaps Beware
Over eons the base of the bastions blossomed, ageless and immune to time
like a resilient band of brothers. I searched those majestic rolling plains atop the pounding sea,
and under my gaze their angel hair frolicked in the wind. Let no man go adventuring,
unless he find the path; for high and wide the tumultuous treachery hidden below the churning sea.
Yes, pounding against and pounding beneath, the salacious sea sings her song. Come, she sings,
lay your head on my chest. No radiant beams shine more resiliently than I, she croons; from here,
I lovingly rise to greet the moon. So lest you frivolous and foolish be, go no more near the edge of the sea.
Today the sun was scorching and poetry had to be written, so I went searching for a new form to explore.
That’s when I discovered the “rispetto”. A rispetto is a short poetic form of Italian origin comprising of 11 syllables per line. It has 8 lines. Rispetto typically uses the ababccdd rhyme scheme.
So here is my Sunday offering. A rispetto about rain on a scorching day. Wishing all of you that respite of rain.
Somewhere in my mind it is always raining— like the sound of thundering rooftop dancing, while cozy fires burns brightly maintaining the mood. And all the signs are there enhancing the idea that I am moving toward sound so powerful it cannot be ignored. Refreshed, re-energized, and renewed I rise— much like flowers after that rain, I surmise.