What have we done?

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I went to a local festival yesterday
The children’s section was full of rides
Jumping houses, rock-climbing walls
And all sorts of dizzy-inducing contraptions

There were art booths where they could make sand art bottles
Decorate a pumpkin
Shoot marshmallows out of a pipe gun (popular purchase item)
Rubber band guns
Carved wooden swords and knives with sheaths

Many of the children had their faces painted
In delightful artistic designs of butterflies, cats, dogs
I paused to comment how beautiful one of the
Designs was on one little girl who was with her father
She jumped at my speaking to her
Looked ready to run and shrunk in fear
She looked at me and said nothing
Her father pushed her along away from me
In a hurry

Hoping this was an aberration, the next child I saw
Was decorating a pumpkin
All I said was, “That’s a great looking pumpkin you’re doing.”
He looked at me – stared and went back to work, but moved away
Down the table, his face puzzled and guarded.

My husband said, “Guess there’s no speaking to children anymore.”
I know what rules parents have for their children
I support having your children aware

I felt weird all day – just for having spoken to children
I didn’t know – what have we done?
Are we managing our children’s world to be so limited
As to have them be afraid all the time in a social setting?
To manage who they interact with, manage their play
Under the guise of protection?
Who do we end up with? Fearful adults?

I don’t have any answers. It was just unsettling.

Words

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Words can be fun
To use to understand each other
To plan a vision for the future
Or make a statement for the now
To cherish the one you love
To provide wisdom to those who seek

Words can wound
In so many ways
Not just the word itself, but the tone in which it’s spoken
Words can take the spirit and drive it into dark pain

Words can bruise
And never leave quickly
The bruise gets hit again and again
So each time it’s harder to forget

Words leave me
At times
In their place
Are feelings
That can’t get out

They waiting for words
To release them

Essay – Connections

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I dusted off an old essay I wrote seven years ago.

Connections

Lila stretched out on the couch adjusting her hip to fit more closely to the back cushion. The light from the sunset was failing through the big windows in the living room and she was watching the far wall so intently she could see it fade in its brightness.
It was a yellow wall next to the front door. Over the door, the huge logs called vigas were turning a shade of red from the sunlight. The front door depressed her.
She told herself she was on “a break.” There was art to do, articles to write, a blog to keep up and a million other things she could be doing. She was here on the sofa not doing much but thinking about the sadness in her life.
It happened suddenly over 19 years ago, but it could be two minutes ago, the emotions were still so raw. Do you ever really forget the day your child died? It was a totally paralyzing agony she went through when he died. It moved her life so radically that she became several other people during her grieving time. She always started this remembrance by going over the little memories in her mind. They were her only memories and sometimes she feared they would fade and she’d have nothing.
She hugged herself a little more as she moved her legs into a more comfortable position. She sighed – she was getting older and her legs hurt.
She had parked at the Flying Star while meeting Susan for lunch – a day out of the house.
When she walked back to her car, a big delivery truck had squeezed its way into the parking space beside her driver’s side door. She could open the door, but could not move her bulk into the door to get to the seat.
There was no driver in the truck, so she had walked to other side and got into the passenger side door. She sat there for a moment and looked at the gear shift and the brake in her way. She wasn’t as flexible as she used to be. She wrestled a leg over the shifter and the brake and got stuck lifting her self up and over the console. She wiggled into the driver seat with one leg still over on the passenger side. It was her bad leg. She turned and looked out the back window – were people watching? No, didn’t look like it. She was unable to lift it to where it needed to go. She grabbed her jean pant leg and pulled her foot up to the shifter. There was not enough room to move it down on the floor. She wiggled farther back in the seat and it was enough the put her leg down. She pulled herself into her seat to get into her driving mode and breathed a sigh of relief. She was embarrassed by the wrestling maneuvers she needed to do to get into the seat. She couldn’t fit in the door. She was so out of shape that the mere instance of getting in from another side was a major physical problem. All this started her on the road to self-pity – or that’s what she called it.
She turned over and faced the back of the sofa and had to adjust her butt so it didn’t fall off the side. She bent her knees to ease the bruised thighs that mashed into the shifter. She could still see his face, her son who died. She began to panic that she forgot what he was wearing during that memory of his face, but she told herself it didn’t matter. Another part of her validated the fact that she was forgetting really important stuff.
Like taking care of herself.

Saying Goodbye

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What is this longing?
This mental anguish
At letting my books go
It bewilders me
And devils me all day

When I try to fill the
Donate boxes from my bookshelves
I don’t see right away the benefit
Of having someone else
Read the donated books
I enjoyed

I see a book who took me on a great journey
And let me leave my worries behind
Reading it on a winter day
Curled up in a big chair
With a warm cup of coffee
A warm hand-crocheted afghan
Around me
Entering a world I didn’t know

But maybe as it leaves me
I could envision another person
Going into my local library
To take that journey in their mind
And help them travel to a world
To leave their troubles behind
Even just for a moment in time

The memory is enough for me
In my last years
That the joy I experienced
Won’t really leave me
As long as I keep it
In my heart and mind.

Not so gentle reminder

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Being in pain
Kills the joy
You want to see
Around you

The muscle under my heel
Is inflamed and angry
Guess all my angst
Landed in my foot
This month

So massaging, adding prescribed cream
Applying ice then heat
I am focused on my heel
I tried going out to take photos
Yesterday
I used to enjoy being in nature
In the beginning of fall

But my foot reminded me
It needed some more attention
I came home
And gave it what it needed
It’s better today
A reminder:
Pay attention to yourself first
In order to pursue your dreams

Judges

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I was standing in a line
at the grocery store
There were a lot of people waiting
In front of me was an elderly woman in a wheelchair
She told her companion
about when someone came in her room
with a rose and lighted candle
when she was young
She described the curtains
the placement of the furniture
She was just married
and it was her husband
for the next 50 years
without any special occasion
he would carry a rose and a lighted candle
into their room at night.
she sighed, lost in her thoughts
no one spoke
It was a lovely memory I thought
as I waited
I turned around the to look at the people
behind me in line
and they were rolling their eyes
as if listening to her speak was an imposition
on their time
Their snide little smiles and whispered words
behind their hands betrayed their ignorance

What’s wrong with people?

For Diane

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On the silent ride home in the dark
Last night
Leaving the Hospice House
I did not think I could cry
Anymore
But I did

Amidst all the grief
I can still remember you
Dancing in your kitchen
Riding on the wave runner
Feeding the ducks
Just two weeks ago
Before the stroke stopped your light
And your body began its journey
Toward leaving

We were the guardians
Of its journey
And the keepers of memories
We told stories
How you touched us
How you made us laugh
And made us feel good about ourselves

You left us in a whisper
And we cried
Farewell,
Womyn of Light

Shield

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I’ve been a closed person for a long time
I could spend time explaining why
But it’s private and of no interest to anyone
So a gift of a spa massage was a little unnerving
I used to love massages when I was younger
And thinner
And more confident
And pretty
And witty
And fun

I was even nervous as the time approached
The fluffy robe was warm
The room was darkened with just the light
Of glowing candles
The music of waves rolled across the room

And there I was, a naked 68-year old fat woman
Feeling every year and noting every blemish on my body
But I snuggled up under the sheet
And waited
I started making my put-down jokes in my head
“Bet she’s never had this much flesh to work with…”
I told myself to stop it and did some deep breathing
Along with her work on my neck
I let my mind go – I felt peace descend
Slowly

I was still tense so I stopped thinking of “me.”
And let my mind wander
I thought of some leaves I saw yesterday
Starting to turn to orange on a tree
How brilliant they were against the blue sky
I thought of birds’ wings and how they move
Through the air so effortlessly

The movement of the massage and the placement of hot rocks gave me warmth
They reminded me of my favorite Sandia Mountains in New Mexico
Rising up from the desert
Orange and red in the setting sun

Opening myself up to nature
Maybe would help me drop this shield
I’ve been staying behind
Being outside more of the day will be a goal of mine

Of course, an occasional 90-minute hot rock massage would help too.
I’ll start saving up for my “reward.”

Unpacking

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I went pouring through boxes
And found one of my old journals
In reading it, I was surprised.
 
It contained things I write about now
All these self-defeating comments
Sarcastic wit putting myself down
Writing about de-cluttering
Losing weight, learning to love exercise
Living through past slights and pain
Grieving over loss, quelling my inner anger
Talking about how sad the world is
Still talking about the past traumas.
 
I noticed that I never wrote about the future
I feel like taking a large Sharpie pen and blocking
The words I had written
Fearing someone would read about my
Circling the drain for years
 
Or maybe so I couldn’t see the endless
Dwelling on pain and loss
And not seeing the world around me
Or that there is a world around me
I didn’t know I was so self-centered
 
Or maybe not willing to put the work into
Moving forward – taking risks
Giving up bad behaviors
And changing them for new ones
Trusting in the future is not one of my strong suites
 
What about your old journals?
Will you burn them?
Would you want someone to read about the real you?
Maybe I’ll turn mine into art journals
Painting over the words
And leave them with colors instead of my words.
And start to look forward

Instead of repeating the past.

Strings Revisited

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I was thinking about my strings – memories tied to objects

In my house, in my life

My dragon egg that reminds me of reading bedtime stories

To my then young son

Of creating worlds he and I visited and remembered all our lives

Then of the tarot cards I love to read

And the collections of rocks – a remembrance of where I went

And had wonderful or painful times

I thought with all those strings tying me to the memories

They are also tying me to the past

A past where my son was alive

A past where I was young and hopeful

Wanting to do good in the world

And make a difference

A past where I was celebrated, not tolerated

And it made me realize those strings

Have become ropes

Ropes of love, but ropes also holding me back

From a future I could make

Maybe I’ve gotten tired of re-inventing myself

The past is what I knew

But I can’t stay there much longer

There’s not a lot of time left

And I still have some dreams – dreams of the future

I forgot was out there.

A future I had given up on because of my pain

My pain is still there, but I had a spark

Thwack me on the head while watching the ocean

I’m not ready yet

(To be continued)

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