Posts Tagged #growth

New Year’s Resolutions

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Eyes open, heart open
Love more, fear less
Listen deeply, speak bravely

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Or maybe it is just too much iced Starbucks?

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Every time I travel I am energized and struck by new possibilities. As the plane begins its descent, I wiggle in my seat and think: I could live here (or there or there). The world brims with sparkling promise, the way ocean waves shimmer and dance all the way to the blurry far off horizon on a blue June day.

As the plane lands, I feel so full of life. In a flash I understand completely why even tired old horses prance so excitedly on windy fine mornings. They smell change on the wind.

Suddenly anything seems possible.

I want to run to the edge of the boundaries—those fences I built or the world erected to contain me.

And then to push past that, and find the elusive place where I can live beyond old fears. Where I can revel. And completely relax. It could be anywhere. It could be inside me.

Will people think I’m strange if I prance in this spring wind?

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Broken or not?

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Broken?

Broken or not?

At snack time or lunch, that was a favorite game of my daughters. One would hold up an apple slice or a Ritz cracker or shiny orange Clementine and demand of the other, “Broken or not?”

They were both pretty masterful at holding a broken cracker or piece of fruit in such a way as to camouflage its fault lines. They loved to trick each other, and trick me, too. It was so hard to tell.

Because you cannot always tell if something—or someone—is whole by merely looking, can you?

I remember in the weeks after my father died suddenly, back when I was eighteen. I’d put on lots of mascara every morning, so that I wouldn’t cry, because if I did, it would give me raccoon eyes. I didn’t want any one to know how badly I was hurting. I didn’t know what to do with it, the pain. If I started crying, I might never stop; how embarrassing that would be. No one ever taught me anything but to pretend to be okay, to deny my real feelings. It ran in the family. Schooled from birth, like Tiger Woods was with golf, I was an ace.

My dad pretended he was okay right up until he died from it. Oh, it was a heart attack that killed him, but my personal theory is that sometimes illnesses spring from—or are worsened by— the grinding stress of hiding feelings. And we are trained to hide them, for fear of being labeled ‘broken.’ Our culture demands us to be perfect parents, perfect children, perfect wives, perfect workers. To be magically ‘perfectly adjusted’ without working through grief and trauma.

I used to sometimes reflexively use the phrase, “practice makes perfect,” with my girls, mostly right about when they were supposed to do math homework or play piano or violin. They would always shoot back, “But Mom, you always say that nobody’s perfect!” And I would smile and say, of course, that’s true.

Because I’d say that, too, all the time—like when I’d drop an egg on newly mopped floor, or especially if one of them did.

Of the two old sayings, only “nobody’s perfect” rings true.

The most together-looking people can be the most broken inside. You never really know, unless you get to know someone, unless you earn their trust and confidence, and even then—they have to be open enough or broken enough to expose their hidden wounds.

Which for some people is painfully hard, or even maybe impossible without help and work.

I think the true answer to the broken or not question—as it applies to humans, not fruit or crackers— is that we’re all broken at some point, and not all breaks heal completely. Some wounds ache forever. Being gentle with each other is always a good practice. Because more of us are broken, than not.

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marcescence

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American Beech, Burnet Woods, March 2015

Another 7×7 poem (seven lines, seven syllables per line.) This one inspired by endings—of seasons, of eras.

Marcescence
Sometimes we hold on too hard;
cling to what should be released—
old, winter-worn, transparent
from time and weather, rattled,
beaten, tattered— it’s hard to
let the familiar fall
away, let new growth emerge

Note: Marcescence is a botanical term that refers to trees that retain withered leaves over the winter. Beeches and some oaks are among the trees that cling to old dead leaves. Though there are several theories, there doesn’t seem to be agreement on why this happens. One school of thought is that beeches and other marcescent trees are still evolving from evergreen to deciduous, caught forever betwixt and between. (I’ve felt that way sometimes, too.)

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7 x 7 poems

photo of leavesI recently heard Pauletta Hansel, a wonderful Cincinnati poet, read some of her work. A series she read introduced me to a form I’d never heard of before: the 7 x 7, also known as a “49-er” by some. The form is simple, 7 syllables per line, 7 lines. I really loved how her 7x7s packed so much in a small package.

Playing with a very concise form is challenging. I’ve started a series using scientific words that I have been collecting for a while in my interesting-word junk drawer. (I knew I’d find a use for them.)
Here’s one:

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there’s a word for everything
that one means “grow toward light”
plants tend to keep life simple—
born with a mission, they sprout,
burst from their seeds knowing how
they might blossom, but not why—
no questions asked, they just grow

 

 

 

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