(Global) NaPoWriMo 2022 Day One

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Thank you 🙌
And a shoutout to Kristina Flour who graciously allowed this photo to be used through Unsplash.

Today’s prompt is based on Robert Hass’s remarkable prose poem, “A Story About the Body.” The idea is to write my own prose poem that, whatever title I choose to give it, is a story about the body. The poem should contain an encounter between two people, some spoken language, and at least one crisp visual image. Here is my attempt.

For me, holding things in has been a way of life. The natural outcome of this internal action has been the external result of packing on the pounds.

I was never allowed to talk about anything negative, especially any sort of family issues in front of anyone else. And I learned that habit young.

Only recently have I learned to express myself in healthy ways, holding others accountable for their words and actions. Only recently have I been able to consistently begin to shed the weight of those secrets, and along with it, has come actual weight loss.

Fifty-two pounds, to be exact.

There is no more holding of secrets, and I don’t plan to pass this on to the next generation. It can stop with me.

Holding Secrets

“Sssh. Hush hush. Don’t say that. It’s taboo.” Only the perfect blush of color is allowed in our flawless family tree. No embolus of evil, no skeletons here. No binges of beer or illegitimate broods. No family feuds. “Sssh. Hush hush. Don’t say that. It’s taboo.” And so my story begins: I'm not allowed to show disappointment or speak pain into the air. “Surely it wasn’t quite that way. Anyway,it all happened yesterday.” I must move on. Get over it. Suck it in. Suck it up. So I suck up everything I can find until my body swells with the excess weight. My feet slow, my spirits droop, and even in my sluggish state, I hear her voice, “But don’t you dare spit it out.” So I shut my mouth—I suck it up like a Hoover vacuum, like the vortex of a tornado, like a slurpee through a straw, and all I'm left with is one colossal brain-freeze.

—cjpjordan

Tasting Enough

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A view from my window.

I spent some time reflecting today. I don’t get time like that very often, and so I cherish it all the more.

I wish you a lifetime of tasting enough, my friends.


Tasting Enough

Set wide the window
and I shall not wonder—

I will drink the day
and sip the evening—

I will listen
with each swallow

how the weight of the world
feels in my mouth

like names and places
like memories

that look away
that look ahead

layering the moments
one on top of the next.

Set wide the window
so I can taste enough.

—Carla Jeanne Picklo Jordan

The Hummingbird

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Photo credit: https://unsplash.com/@candiscamera2019

“If you truly love nature, you will find beauty everywhere.” —Vincent Van Gogh

I am working hard to find the beauty in everyday life, but it isn’t always an easy task. Sometimes life is just hard. Or discouraging. Or dangerous, or disastrous.

So I am grateful to my friend the hummingbird who reminds me to drink in each moment.

the hummingbird

the hummingbird comes
to our little red feeder
feasting on nectar
from plastic flowers,

sipping sweet juice
through her straw-like beak.
never sitting still,
yet present —

cyclic and reliable
as the seasons —
she reminds me
to drink in beauty.

-a Draft by Carla Jeanne Picklo Jordan

What reminds you to be still and enjoy each moment?

Listen to Your Life

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Photo Credit by Fallen Designs Studio; Model: Remi the Lovable Lab

Frederick Buechner was the first one who ever encouraged me to listen to my life and embrace all of — the good and the bad — with open arms. He writes to “touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart” of your life.

So I am embracing all the stories of my life—the painful, the pleasant, and the phenomenal.

Because after all, each moment is vital to my story and “life itself is grace”.

Secrets

Sssh.
Hush hush.
Don’t say that.
It’s taboo.

Hush hush.
only the perfect blush
of color in our flawless
family tree. No embolus

of evil, no skeletons here
No binges of beer
Or illegitimate broods
No family feuds

Sssh.
Hush hush.
Don’t say that.
It’s taboo.

So my story begins:
I'm not allowed
to show disappointment
or speak pain into the air.

Surely
it wasn’t quite that way.
Anyway
it all happened yesterday.

Move on.
Get over it.
Suck it in.
Suck it up.

But
Don’t
You
Dare
Spit it out.

So I shut my mouth—
I suck it up
like a Hoover vacuum,
like the vortex of a tornado,
like a slurpee through a straw,

and all I'm left with is
one
colossal
brain-freeze.

-A draft by Carla Jeanne Picklo Jordan

What stories shape your life? Let me know in the comments below.

Listening to Your Life

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Thanks to Ravi Roshan @ravi_roshan_inc for making this photo available freely on Unsplash https://unsplash.com/photos/_AdUs32i0jc

When I think of all the times I let the responses of others to my story guide the way I lived inside my story, I feel a kind of melancholy for the girl that lived within this kind of pressure box. Trust me when I say that I hold no one but me accountable for my response. However, I live now very mindful of how my own responses to the stories of others might affect them.

I have a colleague friend who has been such a great example to me of what this looks like in real time. Whenever someone shares something that has been difficult or a problem, his first response is one of empathy. Solutions are given only upon request, and I have never once felt judged by him even when I know he would have done things differently himself.

Letting go of what others think and embracing how I feel is important for my personal well being, but it also serves as a keen reminder to me of the needs of others around me. Most of us just would like to be heard—most of us just want a listening ear.

And listening is an art form.

I suppose it goes hand in hand with being present and mindful. Sitting with someone in their story is very different from hearing someone’s story. To me, listening and sitting are partners in the work of living mindfully in the present.

Listening is paying attention.

So today I choose to pay attention. To notice those around me carrying sadness, or sitting in grief, or rejoicing in personal victory. “Rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep” is the exact definition of listening with your life. Jealously and envy dissipate when we truly rejoice with those who are rejoicing. Likewise, haughtiness and superiority go out the window when we sit in grief with those who are weeping.

Listening is being grateful in the moment.

When I am grateful for each moment in my own story, whether good or bad, I learn to sit with others in a kind of peaceful contentment that neither judges nor offers solutions. This is the very hardest for me. I always want to help and offer solutions, but most often less is more. Breathing in the positive of each moment isn’t just a simple-minded solution. It’s an internal game changer. Our whole outlook changes when breathe in the positive and breathe out the negative.

Listening to ourselves and others brings contentment.

The more we learn to listen, the more we encourage others to walk inside their own stories, the more content we will be inside our own. Listening to others encourages them to look the world in the eye and know that they are worthy, they are enough, and they are loved.

Are you listening?

You are worthy.

You are enough.

You are loved.

LifeSong

Lilting, her voice sang across the meadow:
breezing by, the butterflies danced to the tune;
grazing, the cows stopped chewing to listen;
buzzing, bees set about their pollen work;
resting, she settled into the tall grass
breathing out, she exhaled all of her worries.
sighing, she prayed another day to sing.

—Carla Jeanne Picklo Jordan

How are you doing today? I’d love to hear your story.

Day #2

the legend of the two wolves

unlovable:
that’s exactly how I feel
when the darkness
creeps slowly
into the recesses of my mind.
I know
so perfectly
how to feed
the wolf who lives
inside my head—
the wolf who turns my mind
into a kind of wonderland repository
for whatever story
robs me of my self esteem–
like an artificial joint
attracting infection.
now if only I could learn
how to starve him to death–
but the hand
that feeds his mouth
also feeds my own.