Post Purity Culture

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Photo edited by Mariah Wilson; photo courtesy of Charles Deluvio/Unsplash

When I was growing up in the fundamentalist evangelical church, I was taught that I was too loud, too bossy, too brass and too crass. I was chubby and wore half sizes in children’s sizes which was the plus size version for kids. My best friend was skinny, flat chested, and sporty. I was chubby, developed breasts early, and quite clumsy.

I wasn’t allowed to date until I was 16 and then only Christian boys because the Bible said it was a sun to be “unequally yoked”. I couldn’t see PG rated movies, use playing cards, listen to rock music, or use “crass language” including “substitute” words like gosh, darn, golly, shoot, poop, or (Heavens to Betsy!) crap.

But it was the messages I heard about sex and my body that have been the toughest to overcome. Sex outside of marriage wasn’t even an option. Should I do such a thing, I would be forever ruined, someone else’s trash.

The list of rules for girls was quite long:

- Bodies should be covered up, even when swimming.

- Nakedness was something to cause shame.

- Virginity is what gave women value; it’s was her gift to her future husband.

- Sex is shameful, don’t do it… unless you’re married.

- Once married, women won’t want sex as often as men, but never refuse your husband.

- Always keep yourself looking good for your man.

- Put something pretty on just before your husband comes home.

- Women should submit to the authority of men for their own protection.

- Only men have strong sex drives.

- If women have sex before marriage they are damaged goods and no one will want them—they are like a crumpled rose.

Deconstruction is a process that I am still experiencing. It’s amazing how quickly the teaching and indoctrination of my youth comes back to bite my enlightened feminist modern soul. I find it difficult to separate the good from the bad of my upbringing. But I am determined to continue this work.

Purity Culture

Men are visual
Or so I’ve been told
So many times
It is woven into
my DNA.

Be careful
Watch what you wear;
Watch how you walk
don’t be forward or loud
or brassy.

No one likes
A brassy woman
Women are responsible
For the lusting found
In the hearts of men.

I tell myself
I have grown out
I have moved on
From such foolish
Patriarchal nonsense.

I tell myself
I have deconstructed
Whatever that means
I have separated
The truth from the lies.

Until something happens
And all of it comes
Rushing back—
Guilt, Anger,
And Burning Shame.

At the end
Of deconstruction
There remains a giant
Pile of rubble, one
Mess of mortified me.

But I own
Every last piece
Of senseless shame
Every tiny bit
Of damning guilt

I own my story
I own my future
I alone own
The power
to rebuild my life.

—cjpjordan

Certainty

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Photo Credit: Thank you and shoutout to Dickens Sikazwe.
certainty

i'm not certain
of anything
except
thisonething:
i will not own
the expectations
of others.
like second hand shoes,
they never quite fit
the shape of my feet.


—Carla Jeanne Picklo Jordan

Muddy Waters

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Photo Credit: Thanks and Say shoutout to Ben Wicks.
Muddy Waters

People like me belong to the rain—
soaking in joy breathing out sorrow,
tending to the dark roots and pain—
a slow broadening of mossy green
spreading wide after the summer storm.

I stay alive in muddy waters
when the verdant swaddle of meadow
is drowned in brown. It’s there I sought her
to teach me the wisdom of the rain
and to not be afraid of the dark.

It is with her I learned where I belong
and how to navigate in a world
reeking with sunshine and sappy song.
Bring on the rain, for how else do I
stay alive when dusk darkens the light?

—By Carla Jeanne Picklo Jordan

I read a story this morning about the death of a lovely young Australian woman who was a farmer, ecologist, and inspiration to many on her TikTok.

Her family didn’t give details about her death, but her father said “every day should be ‘R U OK? Day,” a reference to an Australian holiday when people are encouraged to have conversations about mental health and suicide prevention with one another.

I absolutely agree.

Don’t be afraid to ask someone if they are Ok. Don’t be afraid to push a little to encourage them to reach out to a professional.

There is no shame in needing help. Or asking someone if they need help.

It’s ok to not be ok.

How else can we stay alive when the rain comes and dusk darkens the light?

The Dreamers

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Photo Credit: Thanks and shoutout to Dan Smedley

Lately I have been reading through the Poetry Foundation website like a novel. Sometimes I search a theme, sometimes I just read through the site recommendations.

By doing this, I have discovered some amazing poets who were previously unknown to me, and I have also discovered some interesting forms of rhyme and meter.

I experimented today with a rather unusual rhyme scheme in an eight line stanza. It’s been so refreshing to take time each day and write. I’ll tell you, it does something good for my soul.

Never stop dreaming big dreams, friends—it’s the only way you’ll ever attain them.

Dreamers

On small boats, through the long canals, they came
settling in the lowlands, digging ditches
building dykes and drains, trying hard to tame
the water running uphill. They resolved
to change their thinking; new habits evolved
and soon sleek dwellings began to appear
great in hope and greater in scope than fear
until the gleaming wheat claimed their riches.

Tell me why it is that hordes of locust
love to swarm in the warm, wet month of May.
Sudden rain like the mind keenly focused,
calls and corrals a throng of living things.
And so folks lived like paupers on shoe strings
eating barley grass and growing green beans
while listening to the constant humming
of water flowing and tymbal thrumming.
None too soon, the greedy beasts flew away.

And then more dreamers came, some in sleek boats
skimming through the canals, seeking reprieve
from the mundane and stale in hull-less oats;
some carting a lifetime of hopes and dreams
in broken barges with leaking seams.
But come they did with courageous fervor,
to be farmer, builder, and observer—
full of faith, hope, and the power to believe.

—Carla Jeanne Picklo Jordan

Letting Go

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Photo Credit: Thanks 🙌 and shoutout to Максим Степаненко.

I took an old prompt and did some stream of consciousness writing. Interesting the things that hide out in our sub-conscious.

I started with a list of eight words and a task. Being a (sometimes over) achiever, I relish the accomplishments of tasks. So I set about this challenge with gusto.

As I have often said, poetry is one of the more uncontrolled writing options. Deep inside of each one of us, there are feelings and thoughts that we seldom give voice. Too often we bury how we really feel in exchange for what is expected of us to feel, or we respond how we are expected to respond by our circle of family and friends.

These words, and perhaps the book attached to the words, brought out some feelings buried just beneath the surface. I have spoken and written before about my complete disgust with platitudes. Too much of my childhood was spent listening to them in sermons or from well meaning members of that religious community. This poem reflects those feelings.

You can try this kind of stream of consciousness writing, too. I highly recommend everyone journal in some way. For me, it can be as cathartic as a good therapy session. (Sorry Kelly.)

Here is what you can do:

Grab the closest book.
Go to page 29.
Write down 10 words that catch your eye.
Use 7 or 8 of those words in a poem.
For extra credit, have 4 of them appear at the end of a line.

My word list included these gems:

Supersaturated
Concede
Let go
Strong shouldered
Wayward
Empty
Need
Achieve

Once you have gathered your list of words, see what they say to you and put your pen or pencil to the paper or your fingers to the keyboard and start writing! I hope you enjoy the process as much as I did.

Let It Go

Suck up the sorrow like a sweet
slurpy through a straw, head resting
in hands as if to catch the pain.
Let go. Empty yourself of need.

Go on, give in, concede body
mind and spirit to the Spirit—
It is the Lord’s will after all.
He is Sovereign over our pain;

we are supersaturated
in the spirit and strong-shouldered;
we are weak-kneed, walking wayward.
We are walking in the true light;

Let go. Empty yourself of need
go on, give in—concede body
mind and spirit to the Spirit.
It is the Lord’s will after all,

for God is in control, sister;
and he will never give you more
than you can bear. You can trust him
with all your heartbroken pieces.

You need to trust in letting go
and letting God. No one else but God.
But you see, I stand here alone,
in pain, and straining to maintain

any remnant of dignity. How?
Tell me, how did we believe
all of the crazy platitudes
undermining good common sense?

How is grief less of a burden
thinking that it is for our best,
believing that God allowed this
pain for our growth and his pleasure?

I let go of sorrow, let go
of dignity in heaving sobs
with incoherent words that say
just how much I don’t understand.

I stand up, cry out, stamp my feet
shout out loud how ruthless and cruel
life can be. I don’t shout at God;
I acknowledge the suffering

and let it go. I breathe out and
release the pain; but when I can’t,
I concede. There isn’t always
a reason—don’t suck in, let go.

—a draft by Carla Jeanne Picklo Jordan

Magic In The Ordinary

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Photo Credit: Thanks 🙌 and shoutout to ShengGeng Lin.

Ok so… my dearest Tracy Jo told me that my writing has been rather dark lately. It’s entirely possible. I write to lay the darkness down in the light, and once the light hits it, it’s no longer darkness.

I dunno, though.

Maybe she’s right about too much, even if I do consider it a good thing.

Maybe I just need some magic in my ordinary days. A little “boost” in the form of a beverage. A little boost in the form of being with friends and family. Don’t we all need that kind of boosting after the crazy year we’ve had?

I’m hoping to have a summer filled with little boosts from family and friends. Maybe I’ll even follow some of the recipes in this poem to boost the magic the extra mile.


Magic in the Ordinary

Two ripe strawberries on the vine
bubbling champagne
one sugar cube
Santé!

Three frothy fronds of dill
one fresh cucumber
a splash of gin
Skål!

One yellow pineapple
amber rum
a squeeze of orange
Salud!

Red bell peppers
a handful of cilantro
Don Julio Blanco Tequila
¡Al centro!

Valentine vodka
a bit of ginger beer
one squeeze of lime
Prost!

A few drops of Angostura bitters
rich ruby port
a dash of orange curaçao
Saluti!

A wee bit of superfine sugar
two ounces of cachaca
freshly squeezed lime juice
Saúde!

Dark black coffee
a tip of Teeling Whiskey
fresh whipping cream
Sláinte!

—Carla Picklo Jordan

Live With Gusto

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Photo Credit: Thanks 🙌
and a great big shoutout to Chilli Charlie

This particular writing challenge was to write a poem that stretches my comfort zone with line breaks. Well, this poem stretched my comfort level with many things.

At first I thought perhaps I’d write a poem with very long lines, or maybe one with very short lines. Or a poem that blends the two? Who knows what that might look like? I vacillated between all of these ideas.

Maybe breaking apart lines to emphasize (or de-emphasize) sounds or rhymes, or creating a moment of hesitation in the middle of a thought might be the way to go.

My method was to read several different poems, and then I began to write. Every poem and its process brings out some different part of myself. Even the story poems that are outside of my personal experience have a piece of me woven into them.

Before posting this poem, I was reading the story of a sweet friend who has deconstructed and reconstructed the faith and religion of her youth. I could totally connect with all that she shared.

For each one of us the process is different, but I hope for each one of you that you love and live near the edge of the world with gusto.

Dry Bones

She loved

near the edge of the world
with gusto
if not lunacy.
she chose unity
with herself.

She lost her vision
from living in the darkness—
the rose colored glasses
foggy from flashes
of light.

A ray of hope
in no man’s land
she teetered on the edge
of the cliff. The sedge
a sign

of her dry bones.
the moon rose
unbidden,
nearly hidden
by love.

She loved
wild and reckless—
in the light
no danger of flight—
I think.

—Carla Jeanne Picklo Jordan

Rest Trumps Tired

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Thanks to Clément Falize @centelm for making this photo available freely on Unsplash 🎁 https://unsplash.com/photos/WZ2V1j2a1K8

A “golden shovel” poem is a poem within a poem—like a puzzle or a mystery. Oh and puzzles and mysteries are challenges that I love.

A poem within a poem? How does that even work? I’m so glad you asked.

First I had to choose a poem to “hide” inside my poem. I chose David Whyte’s poem “Enough” because I love it.

You can check out my “golden shovel” like this: first, read my poem as a complete unit. Then read it again using only the last word from each line and you will read David Whyte’s beautiful poem, “Enough”.

After the week (or three) we’ve been experiencing over here I really felt the need for rest because somehow I can never seem to get enough rest.

Trace is walking really well. We are both amazed at how straight her shoulders have become. She can raise both arms straight up high (she hasn’t been able to do that in years) and her shoulders are even and no longer slumped.

Another benefit since surgery is that her CRPS foot pain has subsided a little. She is so grateful for that!

Lizi is still struggling with pain and trapped gas in her body from the surgery. We are praying it is absorbed into her body or released out one way or another. Ev has been staying with her to help with Little E, and she has been really grateful for his help.

The dogs are finally home, and we are continuing on with their training.

As for me…well…

I. Am. Exhausted.

Sometimes overwhelmed.

Anxious.

Well, you get the idea.

Perhaps you feel the same?

It’s ok to not be ok.

It’s ok to decide to rest.

rest

I find it enough.
moments like these
when sounds are few
and fewer still are words
these moments are
enough.

no space for what if
or worries about what not
to do or say. Yes, in these
moments I find soul words,
I find space within this
time to catch my breath.

if only, if
only this time were not
just like this
life--a fading breath

if only this
space for sitting
for being here
and present in this
life of wondrous opening
would allow me to
receive the
joy of living life
in the present. we
know the places we have
said no--where we refused
to live again;
where we struggle and
strive again.

I find it enough until
pressures of the now
rage against the still; until
again I rest in the still now.

—Carla Jeanne Picklo Jordan

It’s Ok To Not Be Ok

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Little E

Well, life has certainly been full of surprises these past two weeks.

Lizi had a successful appendectomy late last night and was still hospitalized until this evening because she had trapped gas in her abdomen.

So at this point, it’s still a waiting game—for healing, for recovery, and for a semblance of normalcy to return.

The biggest stakeholder in this waiting game is sweet Little E. He is adjusting marvelously to life at Nana’s—learning how life works in our rehab center. I had to mud wrestle him to convince him that a nap is really what he wanted, but Nana won out in the end.

I always do, kid. You might as well get used to it.

Life is always ha-rd. There is no such thing as “harder”. We all struggle, we all deal with hard, and it’s ok to not be ok.

Little by little my sweet little mama bear is healing. Her little darling missed her terribly, but he accepted us as a (poor) substitute.

Now they are finally reunited and the look on his face when he saw his mama was priceless! The two are happily recovering with Uncle E helping out wherever needed.

Trace is overcoming obstacle after obstacle in this recovery. I am amazed at how far she’s progressed since Day One when she was struggling with simply getting on top of pain management.

Resilient.

All of us.

You, too.

It’s ok to not be ok. (https://youtu.be/RH6G_fWfBPs ) You can sit in that hard place, in that pain (physical or emotional), and you can move through it, survive, and even thrive on the other side of it.

June Nights

Venus danced and dazzled,
leading the way for sister stars
to join in the chorus.

As mosquitoes buzzed by,
we toasted to the sultry night
and the twinkling heavens.

—Carla Jeanne Picklo Jordan

Grateful

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Thanks to Nathan Dumlao @nate_dumlao for making this photo available freely on Unsplash 🎁 https://unsplash.com/photos/KYiGu8qqEcM

Thanks to the generosity of an out-of-town friend, who is just here for a couple of weeks, I was able to visit Trace today.

Thanks to the generosity of our friends and dog trainers, the dogs have been able to have an extended stay at a reduced rate.

Thanks to another friend who offered to host Ev, I will be able to pick up Tracy when she comes home from the hospital.

I’m overwhelmed with the love and phone calls, with the encouraging words, and with the prayer that has been offered to us.

We are grateful.

Thank you one and all.

grateful 

for sun and rain for glen and grove
for paths too steep and overgrown
for friends who love without reserve
for healing in transparency
grateful.

for docks and dips in darkness deep
for freedom found in letting go
for the joy of finding new love
for tears that cleanse body and soul
grateful.

for maladies that mend our faith
for stones that build our broken walls
for the strength bound up in heartache
for the power of weakness known
grateful.

for life and breath, for strength in hope
for knowledge and wisdom and truth
for the freedom in forgiveness
for the power of grace imbued
grateful.

for everyday bits of holy
in our everyday lives profane
for everyday pleasures profound
I staunchly rejoice and remain
grateful.