Jealous Dreams

In last night’s dream, I am talking with a friend who has become a successful writer and artist. She is making a living doing what she loves to do. I ask her to tell me how she got from point A to point B, and she tells me it was the book. She just published the book, and that was it. Suddenly she could afford to do what she wanted. I start to explain how hard it is for me to figure out how to get published, how I can’t figure out the process, how I can’t seem to pull the right stuff together. . . Then I stop. I say, “You know what. Anything I say right now is going to sound like I’m whining.”

And I was whining. I was so jealous, so eaten with envy.

But maybe I need to just stop telling myself I am being a whiner. Maybe I need to find a coach or mentor who can help me think through the ways that I block myself. I get started on a project, or I work with great intention on a project, but then the work of my paying job intrudes, or another shiny project comes along, or I get depressed and weary. Perhaps jealousy of my dream-friend can spur me to focus.


Gratitude:
1. My bicycle is a red Mt. Fury Roadmaster that my friend Vince fixed up and sold to me a few years ago. I call her Lady Fury. Last fall, our neighbors gave us their Saris trainer, and I was really excited about riding Lady Fury through the winter. Trying to switch to the Saris quick release skewer on the rear tire, I got myself into a fix, so I took her down to Cycle Works in Wrightsville. They didn’t shame me for having messed up my rear axle, and very professionally took care of it. Now I have Lady Fury all set up on the trainer and I can ride my bike through winter. I am so excited.
2. Watching Barb’s horses running in the field on the hill. She took one of them out on a trail ride the other day, and the one who stayed behind whinnied the whole time the other was gone. She said the one she was riding did the same. They do not like to be separate from each other.
3. Zoom church. What a delight to see people’s faces in real time. After the insurrection, I have been feeling the need to be with this community of faith-based, justice-oriented beloveds.
4. Oatcakes. Oat scones. Quick and easy baking.
5. Mockingbird has been coming to the feeders lately. I am such a fan of Mockingbird.

May we do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly together. In Beauty may we walk.


“Things don’t really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together and fall apart again. It’s just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.” —Pema Chödrön


“The artist deals with what cannot be said in words.
The artist whose medium is fiction does this in words. The novelist says in words what cannot be said in words.
Words can be used thus paradoxically because they have, along with a semiotic usage, a symbolic or metaphoric usage. (They also have a sound—a fact the linguistic positivists take no interest in . A sentence or paragraph is like a chord or harmonic sequence in music: its meaning may be more clearly understood by the attentive ear, even though it is read in silence, than by the attentive intellect.)” —Ursula LeGuin


“A common woman is as common as a common loaf of bread, and will rise.” —Judy Grahn


“The plan, a memory of the future, tries on reality to see if it fits.” —Laurence Gonzalez


“When you walk a path you love, there is something deeper calling you forward on it, like a beautiful question that can never be answered.” —Toko-pa Turner


“A well-read woman is a dangerous creature.”
―Lisa Kleypas, A Wallflower Christmas


“Keep walking, though there’s no place to get to.
Don’t try to see through the distances.
That’s not for human beings.
Move within, but don’t move the way fear
Makes you move.” —by Rumi (Barks)


“I think pleasure is really the gateway to feeling connected and inspired.” —Dreamwork with Toko-pa


“Courage is an inner resolution to go forward despite obstacles.
Cowardice is submissive surrender to circumstances.
Courage breeds creativity; Cowardice represses fear and is mastered by it.
Cowardice asks the question, is it safe?
Expediency asks the question, is it politic?
Vanity asks the question, is it popular?
But conscience asks the question, is it right? And there comes a time when we must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but one must take it because it is right.”
—Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.


“Instructions for living a life.
Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.”
―Mary Oliver

Quiet and Color

I needed sleep long and deep last night, so the dream-realm was quiet, at least as far as dream (re)collection goes. There is a book, by an author whose name is Ratzia (or Rascia) Hescht. My sleep-drenched brain felt that was important to remember. Perhaps that ought to be my pen name. This morning, there is a bright red cardinal in the beige world outside, a singular pop of brilliance, like a single name drawn from the mists of dream.


Gratitudes:
1. Deep sleep and feeling rested
2. The potential of an open day ahead
3. Learning–again and again–to listen to my body
4. Mystery and magic and webs of connection
5. The inward path

May we walk in Beauty!


“Do not get lost in a sea of despair. Be hopeful, be optimistic. Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month, or a year, it is the struggle of a lifetime. Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble. #goodtrouble” —John Lewis tweet


Honoring Kwanzaa with those who celebrate it: Today’s word is Nia, Purpose. This refers to the purpose of building African culture through community endeavor. As a white person, this is another reminder to me to take a learning and listening posture, and to use the privilege culturally stamped on my skin to give space and voice to others.


“Being curious is the most important part of being a journalist. It might be the most important part of being anything.” —Lemony Snicket


“I thought how unpleasant it is to be locked out; and I thought how it is worse, perhaps, to be locked in.” —Virginia Woolf


“And when I had asked the name of the river from the brakeman, and heard that it was called the Susquehanna, the beauty of the name seemed to be part and parcel of the beauty of the land. That was the name, as no other could be, for that shining river and desirable valley.” —Robert Louis Stevenson, 1879


The New Song
by W. S. Merwin
For some time I thought there was time
and that there would always be time
for what I had a mind to do
and what I could imagine
going back to and finding it
as I had found it the first time
but by this time I do not know
what I thought when I thought back then
there is no time yet it grows less
there is the sound of rain at night
arriving unknown in the leaves
once without before or after
then I hear the thrush waking
at daybreak singing the new song


“We need wilderness and extravagance. Whatever shuts a human being away from the waterfall and the tiger will kill [her].” —Robert Bly


“Know that the same spark of life that is within you, is within all of our animal friends, the desire to live is the same within all of us…” ―Rai Aren


Someone asked me what is your religion? I said, “All the paths that lead to the light.” —Anonymous

Wishes and Intentions

Gratitude List:
1. Sue, who was walking out of Market just before 8 this evening when I arrived to pick up cat food and cat litter. She turned right around and wouldn’t hear of anything but me getting what I needed before she closed up. My loyalty to Sue’s is sealed.
2. That historic yellow house in Wrightsville with the wreaths on the walls, and the lights in all the windows.
3. Winter is the time for root and bark teas. Fortifying.
4. Setting intentions/wishes for the coming year.
5. A day of solitude, and a chance to get my work done.

Much love. Walk in Beauty!

Words

 

“The words were on their way, and when they arrived, she would hold them in her hands like the clouds, and she would wring them out like the rain.”  ― Markus Zusak, The Book Thief
*
“Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book.”
― John Green, The Fault in Our Stars
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“I hold the most archaic values on earth … the fertility of the soul, the magic of the animals, the power-vision in solitude…. the love and ecstasy of the dance, the common work of the tribe.” ― Gary Snyder
*
“If you are a poet, you will see clearly that there is a cloud floating in this sheet of paper. Without a cloud, there will be no rain; without rain, the trees cannot grow: and without trees, we cannot make paper.” ―Thich Nhat Hanh
*
“The study of silence has long engrossed me. The matrix of a poet’s work consists not only of what is there to be absorbed and worked on, but also of what is missing, desaparecido, rendered unspeakable, thus unthinkable.” ―Adrienne Rich
*
“Be ready to be surprised by the crazy, wonderful events that will come dancing out of your past when you stir the pot of memory. Embrace those long-lost visitors.” ―William Zinsser
*
Emancipate yourself from mental slavery. None but ourselves can free our minds. ―Bob Marley


Gratitude List:
1. Fridays
2. Owl calling in the pre-dawn
3. Artists
4. Dreams
5. Words

May we walk in Beauty!

Making Connections

memoir

You know that feeling when someone you love is probably dying?
And you feel like you should know exactly what to do, exactly what to say,
but you’re paralyzed by the shock, and really,
isn’t that what the doctors are for?
Shouldn’t they know what to do,
how to keep your loved one alive?

But still, you can’t quite sleep at night
for that nagging feeling in the pit of your gut
that tells you you should be doing something,
you should be making it stop,
should at least be saying something apt,
something to keep the demons at bay.

And so what do you do when you see it,
when you see your democracy dying?
You’ve been watching, all the signs,
every one, just like the predictions.
It’s a cancer, this.
And it’s progressing rapidly.
And what do you do?
Aren’t there lawyers, politicians,
noble powerful people somewhere
who know what to do to fix this mess?

And you can’t quite sleep at night
for that nagging feeling in the pit of your gut
that tells you you should be doing something,
you should be making it stop,
should at least be saying something apt,
something to keep the demons at bay.

Gratitude List:
1. The owls are really going at it tonight. I love living within hooting distance of so many of the wise ones.
2. It’s felt like a really long time when I could have a day when I didn’t absolutely have to be doing something school-related. What a relief. I did actually work on something for school today, a sample memoir project for my students to see what I am looking for in their projects.
3. Cheese
4. A good book to read on a cold night
5. Making connections: with people, with memories, with ideas, with synapses.

May we walk in Beauty!

The Book

winterfarm

The Twelve Nights are finished. I might have resisted this waking up, resented this leaving of the cocoon, but for the bright surprise of the snow, the sun enlivening it to an almost unbearable shine, the way the Light shone so forcefully on this Epiphany day.

I have a jumble of words and ideas tumbling about in my brain from the past two weeks: Intuition, Birds of Prey (fierceness?), Aunt Lizzie (rampant creativity?), and the Book. As I made my Vision Board last week, the phrases “Unchain the book” and “Unlock the book” came into my head. And last night I woke in the middle of the night, and the phrase “Use the book” was skittering around in my brain.

So this Year my word will be Book. I tell my students that their lives are the stories of their own making. Some parts seem to be written for us, but even so, we write the meaning of the events that occur. We choose how the story is recorded within us, how we interpret our lives. This year, I will be the writer of my story. I will carry the satellite words of intuition and fierceness and creativity with me as well, and let them inform the story I create, both with my life and in my writing.

Gratitude List:
1. The young years. This is a wistful gratitude. With every passing day, I am noticing the baby days expiring on my youngest. I am gathering all I can of each tiny bit of baby sweetness into the jar of my heart to save for later. Here I am, Winnie the Pooh, standing at the edge of the Hunderd Aker Wood, watching Christopher Robin recede into the world. My heart is so full of the pride and the pain of it, the love and the loss of it.
2. I am grateful for their growing up, too. I treasure each new grown-up thing, how they think and wonder. Their curiosity. Their desire to know, to learn, to create.
3. Snow. Wasn’t that lovely? I love snow. It makes the cold feel worthwhile. It makes the winter feel real. It gives the dreamtime a blanket.
4. Those stripey clouds on the way home from school today. My carpool mates and I decided that they looked like the lines on a piece of notebook paper, just waiting for a poem. Or the ribs of a god (we’re listening to The Heroes of Olympus on our journeys). Or the oars of a great flying Viking ship.
5. The relationship of words to music. The musicality of language.

May we walk in Beauty!

The Bookbinder’s Hands

In memory of my Aunt Elizabeth Weaver, and in honor of the Bookbinder of Water Street, whom I have never met.

The bookbinder’s hands have always been there,
golden in the glow of the lamp light,
curved over the book’s curling skin,
over the cover of an ancient volume
of German poetry, or an Ausbund, perhaps.
Smoothing the pages of a treatise
on divine rights of liberty written
when this was still Penn’s Woods.

The bookbinder sees with fingertips
the miniscule tears, the frayed edge,
the embossment like landscapes,
fingers gently curling like Kwan Yin’s
in a sacred mudra, touching holiness
with tenderness, while the dust
of centuries twinkles in the lamp light
above the bookbinder’s careful hands.

 

Final Prompt of January

Friends, this has been for me a marvelous month.  Thank you for your kind words and responses and “likes.”  During February, I will weed and edit and cultivate this month’s crop of poems, and some others which I have been hoarding.  Yesterday, my friend Kelsey Myers sent me the link to this poem.  Thematically, it’s a challenging read–breezy on the surface and brutal at the heart.  I love it, and I want to do my own version of a definition poem for my last poem of the month.  Join me for one last romp through the word-meadows?  (Oh, there will be plenty more after I have had my little break.  Meanwhile, I will continue to create poem-fodder in the shape of Gratitude Lists, and write some little poems here and there.)

 

Gratitude List:

1.  I gave myself a gift–signed up for Flame in the Hand, John Terlazzo’s writer’s workshop.
2.  Serendipity
3.  Synchronicity–I woke up thinking of an Idea, and turned on FB to read a message by a friend asking me whether I had ever considered this Idea.
4.  Face cream and body oil and glasses of water and rain
5.  Muffins

May we walk in beauty.

Marvel and Wonder
Photo by Michelle Johnsen