I have spent the last few days watching the situation in Japan like most other people in the world. It is a horrible, unthinkable disaster of Biblical proportions.
The loss of life, property damage, and overall destruction to the country of Japan is more than we can truly understand or conceptualize at this point. What can be said in the face of such horror? Truthfully, very little. All we can do is pray, offer our condolences and blessings, and provide whatever financial and humanitarian assistance is needed.
The New York Times provides satellite imagery of before and after in Japan. These pictures leave one speechless and stunned to the point of meditative grief.
I have nothing new to add to this situation. I simply want to join the chorus of voices that are praying for the people and the country of Japan.
The New York Times slides can be viewed here.
- Celebrities Voice Support For Japan (divamission.wordpress.com)
- Facebook Prays for Japan (penn-olson.com)
- Celebrities React on Twitter to Japan Quake and Tsunami (abcnews.go.com)
“How poor are they that have not patience! What wound did ever heal but by degrees?” ~William Shakespeare
It’s difficult to find the creative energy necessary for good writing during illness. Or, at least it is for me. So, during the past two weeks of stressful health issues, my mantra has been “no writing is better than bad writing” and I’ve stayed away from the keyboard for a bit.
I received good news from the surgeon this week that back surgery shouldn’t be necessary just yet. Instead, I’m having epidural nerve blocks done where the disc is torn and possibly minor outpatient surgery to clip another nerve that’s tangled in with the disc and arthritis. The first nerve block is scheduled for the end of this month. Overall, it’s been good news and I’m deeply happy that major surgery isn’t necessary!
I’m pleased with my orthopaedic doctor (he’s much nicer than the surgeon) and appreciate how open he was to working with me to develop a treatment plan I’d be happy with. Now, if I can just get the bronchitis to go away … another problematic area of late due to allergies to my pets (2 dogs, a cat, and a rabbit) and exposure to so many sick people at my job (dealing with 25 people a day and whatever germs they bring in the door)!
Patience, patience, patience. Yes, I know.
Another Sunday is sliding into its ending. It will become an event, a moment, in past tense in just a few short hours.
Hopefully, we have spent the time well – making our music with whatever unique, creative gift we possess. Writing poetry, speaking encouraging words to loved ones, knitting a scarf, painting a picture, writing a letter or journal entry, or playing a flute.
I am still a product of the time in which I was raised – Sunday remains a Holy day to me whether I attend church that week or not. It’s a time for quiet, introspection, reflection, and artistic musings. I love the deep vibration the day holds within itself.
There is a certain sadness as I watch the clock hands move and the minutes tick by… as if I am saying goodbye to a lover I completely adore. And, like the essence of that lover, I hold Sunday in my deepest self as I get ready to meet Monday in the week ahead.
Lovers, forget your love
And list to the love of these
She a window flower
And he a winter breeze …
It is beautiful outside my window. The Queen of Winter is present – huge flakes of snow tumble across the sky, tree limbs are holding a treasure of white on their branches, and the ground is a carpet of crystal. It has been snowing since deep in the night – a five-inch layer that’s still growing.
This day and this snow are acceptable – reminding me of snow days as a child when it was a treat to miss school, snuggle under blankets, and drink hot cocoa.
I didn’t sleep well last night. Too many thoughts, voices, memories coiling through my mind. The replay of my yesterdays filled with happiness, sadness, confusion. It was a long night of restless searching in an unfortunate land.
It is a land I know, one that has been waiting for my arrival – a conversation with an old friend earlier in the week; yesterday spent in quiet review, pouring over old journal entries and falling, tangled in a mixture of heated emotions and dissonance of spirit.
I am always searching for answers in their various forms. A journalistic flaw, I suppose, always trying to answer the Who, What, When, Where, and Why questions of life. The Why always being the most dominant!
Lately, some long-held Why questions have grown into their answers. It is a deeply bewildering experience even though I’ve known the answers forever.
The power of words is stunning. and though the answer may be known, it holds a different power when it’s spoken aloud. That’s when it becomes real! It now lives ghost-like and shimmering in the light of day. It is a haunting presence that can never be unspoken out of being.
These are the dream-images of realization and epiphany where poems are born. They grow from that place of answers and play through my mind for hours, speaking loudest in the dark moments before sleep comes. Oh, such clear lines and perfect stanzas showing up when I am too tired to get out of bed and write them down!
I want to believe in the pictures I paint for myself: of people, life, feelings, and reality. As if, somehow, in the magic of believing it to be I can create it being. The falsity of this approach becomes clearer to me as I grow older. Most things cannot be dreamed and wished into a better truth – they exist in the reality that is them without magical influence playing a role in the game.
“What matter that the magic doesn’t work?” I have no perfect image of completion in my mind, only small perfect moments I would like to possess.
The truth of what things are and the lessons that stem from that probably have more value overall than the perfections I dream of engineering. Still, it may be that the poet must have an element of believing, a magical perspective that defies logic, in order to see the details that become poems.
Artistry is never about the normal, run-of-the-mill experience. It is always about experiencing that and then transcending it. It is the vision stemming from transformation that speaks to the poet and in the poem.
To see more artwork by Ida Larson, please visit her gallery at Epilogue.net
“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious.” ~Albert Einstein
I love the mysterious aspects of life and am a believer in signs, portents, omens, and the like. I’m sure this tendency comes partly from the artistic side of my nature and partly because the grandfather that raised me was part Native American. I lived with my grandparents from the time I was 3 until I was 11. During those years I learned a lot of uncommon things – I could trap and skin rabbits, I could shoot a shotgun at a very young age, I knew the names of plants and trees, understood the difference between poisonous berries and those safe to eat, and learned to make sassafras tea from sassafras roots dug in of the woods.
Those years were an uncommon and delightful period in my life. A bright time that would preface the much darker years that followed. That time period also created a certain view of my place in and interaction with the world around me. I came to believe that God and nature speak to us in many ways – through signs, intuition, omens, and various levels of unconscious perception. This “sense” of belief in other (in all its various forms) remains with me today.
As a young child I was told stories of animal spirits or animal guides and was certain (due to my fondness for them) that my animal guide was a wolf. I appreciated the uniqueness of wolves, their sad mournful cries, the abject loyalty, and the fact that they mated for life. An interesting, lovely animal across the board. However, as certain as I was of their guidance as a child, and as much as I liked them, something started changing as I reached adolescence. I started dreaming about a white tiger with blue eyes.
The tiger was always with me, but doing nothing in particular – just present in a reassuring way. I would wake with the dream so fresh and real in my mind – the tiger stretched out and me curled up against him. There was a sense of strength and wildness about the creature. Still, I always felt that I was safe with him. In fact, I have never felt safer and more protected in my life than in those dreams sleeping beside my blue-eyed tiger.
The tiger dreams were a normal part of my life for 21 years. I puzzled over them a great deal during that time. I read numerous dream interpretation books and many psychology books and dream-cognizant behavior theories. None of these offered a satisfactory logical explanation, nor did they describe any particular form of insanity in which this dream was a prevalent symptom (because, yes, I was starting to wonder about sanity!). There were no answers readily available – just the breathing animal beside me in my dreams, warm and silent.
Now, allow me to clarify for all the psych majors out there – I never dated anyone with blue eyes during those years. Didn’t have an unfulfilled crush on a blue-eyed guy, or any of those normal dream-prompting scenarios. In fact, the tiger presence in my dreams had a wholly different essence than anyone I’d ever met. Unique and complicated in its energy, but soothing in a way totally alien to me.
And then, the dreams stopped during a very difficult time in my life. It struck me as really unusual at the time, because normally the presence was more dominant during times of hardship. The last time I dreamed of my tiger was almost three years ago – the day before I got on a plane and flew to Dallas to start work with a sales group. What hadn’t made sense for 21 years was perfectly clear a mere 24 hours later.
My tiger was a premonition of change: a time to come, a place I would find, and a person I would meet. I would know the eyes and the presence immediately. The mystery of what that means in my life remains a mystery still. I believe the world and God speak to us in so many subtle and shocking ways – beneath the obvious is a deep, flowing current of mystery that moves with us and carries us. Sometimes, the answer is just another question.
Why was I shown something for so many years that was so far away? I believe it was so I could recognize and understand when it arrived without fear and misconception. It was a pivot-point in my life and the deeper parts of self. I have changed drastically in many ways since then. I have a deeper understanding of the danger and the beauty that co-exists in our world and in our deepest selves. I understand that some emotions defy explanation and logic, and yet have a greater meaning in the larger fabric of life – the smallest moments shared can enrich us and change us in profound ways.
The tiger of my youth doesn’t visit my dreams anymore, but his voice still speaks in my heart. He remains a great and wonderful mystery in my life.
I’ve never been the type of person to make New Year’s Resolutions. I prefer to spend New Years Eve reviewing and evaluating the year that’s ending. I am always looking for growth – what did I learn in the past 365 days? I’m also looking at myself to see if I’ve become a more complete person in some way or if I simply spent the year dormant and uninspired.
Taking time to reflect on the past 12 months of life provides perspective and allows me to consider the path ahead. I usually do this in a new, fresh-leather handwritten journal – a clean white page, a ritual of sorts. I’m adding a new ritual this year – the Compulsory New Year Blog Entry. Who have I been and who am I becoming as the year transitions?
I have no major complaints of 2010. My formal career in the car business has been productive. Promotions, pay raises, hitting benchmarks, gaining insight and expertise, and facing new challenges with patience and courage have occurred. I’ve reached a place of quiet assurance and confidence in myself and my abilities.
My personal relationships (with husband, kids, grand babies, family, friends) are all flowing smoothly, happy and on track. No major issues there to contend with which is absolutely wonderful!
I resumed my informal career as an artist in 2010 – making time for writing, completing a poetry collection, and planning a new online magazine project for the coming year. I have been a writer longer than I’ve been anything else in my life and it feels good to be back at the keyboard playing with words. It’s a homecoming for my deepest self.
There have been sad and stressful moments in the mix. I miss certain friends a great deal and realize they are lost to me in some odd way – our time together past and the new of life demanding its place now. It has been a year of strange, internal goodbyes – to people and places I will likely never see again, to old beliefs and misconceptions, and to dreams and childish indulgences that have grown dim in the light of a new future. The old pieces of Self wasting away tend to make a fuss about it – the old us we leave behind screams “don’t go” as we walk away.
These are the personal changes in self during 2010 that most surprised me:
* I realize how much quieter I have become in all areas of my life and aspects of my being. Silence, in myself and the world around me, is something I’ve learned to treasure.
* Mourning over the absence of others from my life (due to death or distance or less intimacy than I’d wish) was a dominant part of my emotional journey during 2010. I lingered in deep, sad places of remembrance, wishing, regretting, and eventually letting go during much of the year.
* I returned to my writing with a totally different concept of myself and my work. I have a new sense of peace and understanding about myself as an artist and about my work as art. It’s as if a last puzzle piece fell into place when I wasn’t paying attention. The picture is clear, crisp, and vibrant now.
* I am experiencing life as a “now” experience more than ever before. The past has drifted into misty realms and the future is a shinning cloud – I am living in the moment with an odd sense of calm and contentment even on the rough days. I love this new state of simply being.
So, with remembrances of the lessons and gratitude for the gifts and good fortune – and deep appreciation for all the many blessings – goodbye 2010!
The new year starts as a clean, blank page. We can write our story however we choose. I hope to write in bright, beautiful strokes of vivid ink this year. I hope you do the same. Happy New Year!
It’s lovely outside with the fresh snow blanketing the yard and covering tree branches. Our first snow on Christmas Day in many years according to the weather man. It was a busy, but wonderful Christmas filled with good food and much fun for everyone. Today has been quiet and peaceful after all the festivities. A good day for reflection and introspection, and a perfect time for recognizing and appreciating all the blessings in my life. It’s also a good time for general musings….
My Mom’s birthday is tomorrow (Happy Birthday, Mom!) She’s getting pretty ancient now…oops, wait, sorry… 🙂 My mom and I have always had a difficult relationship. We’re both very headstrong, independent people and that makes for fiery exchanges at times. We do love each other even if we seldom agree on any one point. And, we do grow more in peaceful acceptance of each other as we grow older. We are not the average mom and daughter kind of people, but I think we’re both okay with that – neither of us are really “average” people anyway! We have found a relationship that works for us and we’re intimately a part of each others psyche and lives as we both mature and age. One thing we have always shared – and that she helped foster in me – is a love of books, writing, and learning.
My earliest memories of my Mom necessarily include books, journals, and letters because they are such a deep part of who she is. I was reading my Mom’s old books, magazines, and teen journals long before we really developed a relationship with one another. Mom was always an avid reader and writer. (You can read some of her work here and here.)
Reading and writing opened new educational and social avenues for me. I was brought up writing to pen-pals all over the country because Mom had pen-pals everywhere. I wanted to be like her and she allowed me that. It was a wonderful experience and helped broaden my view of the country and the people in it at a very young age. I also learned to read way above my grade level in school because she was willing to let me read books with censorship or restriction. I can still remember how happy I was when she signed the card for the town Librarian allowing me to check out “grown-up” books. I had just finished reading all the books they had for my age group (of course, it was a tiny library in a very small town!). For years, whenever I moved to a new town, the first thing I would do was find the local library and get a library card. I understood that books changed lives, opened the door to possibilities and growth, and provided wonderful entertainment…and the library meant anyone had this opportunity regardless of income or ability to purchase books. I remain an avid supporter of libraries and free books and reading programs for children to this day. That is due, in large part, to my Mom.
Mom also opened the doors to the joy of bookstores and the wonder of ETV/PBS to us. I still miss the local, private owned, “Pic-a-Book” store we frequented as a child. It was a wonderful maze of books on shelves, magazines and books stacked in piles on the floor – an absolute literary oasis! I still have happy, warm memories of our visits there! I miss Pic-a-Book, but I’m glad to see the new Hub City Bookstore filling in that sad absence for our community. ETV/PBS is another gift from Mom – I KNOW everyone in our family knows who Carl Sagan was and what he did! Old habits die hard, and I still watch PBS more often than all my other channels. Thanks, Mom.
My Mom helped me grow past the limitations of class and poverty that marked my childhood. She gave me a map for the road ahead, a way to transcend the limitations of circumstances and place…her love of reading, writing, and learning new things has been passed down through several generations now. The great-granddaughters are intelligent and precocious. Lauren, at age 6, reads everything in front of her – road signs, ad circulars, menus, building signs, the N-S-E-W of the compass on my rearview mirror (we’re going N grandma, we’re going North!). I just want to say Thanks for the gift Mom. I love you and I hope you have wonderful Birthday!
~~Celia Thaxter,The Nestling Swallows.
It is almost midnight and the house is quiet. Michael went to bed hours ago and left Boo-Boo the cat with his chair. Taz, my Cocker Spaniel, is sleeping on my feet while Lex, my Lab, claims the rug near the Christmas Tree. Even Mr. Jitters, the rabbit, is sleeping silent in his cage.
This is an exquisitely beautiful moment to me. I adore this quiet peace in the dark of night when all the noise of daily living settles hushed for a few hours. I can feel my heartbeat start to slow and my stress-level begin to ease. I am able to breathe in the calmer essence of true life in this time of whispered darkness. I am uncommonly whole and content as I think about Christmas and my family.
I am looking forward to Christmas Day after a month of chaos and fatigue. My children, their spouses, and all four grandchildren will be here. My siblings plan to come if possible. I’m the eldest of four and it is seldom that we all get together. We’ve each had our own spouses, children and work schedules to contend with for years now. I hope both my brothers are able to come – if so, that makes four, and it will be our first Christmas spent together in many, long years.
Time has a way of slipping past you while you’re busy with the act of living. I love my sister and brothers dearly, but have not been as good about showing it in recent years. Sadly, the lack of attentiveness toward them is due to my flighty nature and isolationist behavior. It isn’t due to lack of love or caring for them. I just tend to get lost in me and whatever mission or project has captured my passion – the next thing I know, five years, ten years have passed. It’s an odd quirk of my personality that I recognize without knowing how to mend. (I tend to think it’s just some strange artist thing!) All the while, time moves without mercy and we all grow older and more distant from one another.
I can still remember the first time I looked into the crib at my brother, David. In memory he is the little kid arguing with me and my sister over which cartoons to watch each day at four o’clock; and then the pre-teen who went with us on vacation to Florida; and then the teenager outrunning the cops in his newest hot-rod down the back dirt roads of town – laughing and bragging, and doing it just because he could! He suffered through endless hours of “playing school” with me and my sister before he ever started kindergarten (but, he has always been extremely smart). He was a sweet, smart, good-natured kid that was kind to everyone around him. I can still see him riding around town with my aunt and uncle, especially during his fluffy–80’s hairdo period, laughing and joking. He is now a grown man in his 30’s, with three grown children, a wonderful wife, and his own trucking company. I am very proud of him, of how intelligent he is, and his determination to make his way in the world on his terms.
My baby brother, Chris, is even younger. I can still see him sleeping in his crib, covered in chicken-pox spots. Such a sweet baby, so sick, and yet dealing with the pain and “feel bad” without very much screaming and crying. I held him, changed diapers, played “little mama” to him for a time before I got married. I remember him as that cute baby, as the little bright-eyed child who wanted to hold my babies when they were born, as the teenager who hand-made me a writing desk, and as an older teen and young adult going through his rough patches like the rest of us. He’s had more than his share of hard times, and, like his oldest sister, is usually his own worst enemy. He’s doing great in his life now though – he has a wonderful fiance that truly loves him and a wonderful son. Chris has been strong and courageous, doggedly fighting his way through the dark days into the sunny ones. I’m very proud of who he’s become and all that he’s accomplished.
My sister, Mandi, is definitely coming for Christmas dinner. We’re close in age and have a unique bond that can only be called sisterhood. We have fought and hated each other with a passion through the years, but that was just the negative, childish side of the great love we feel for one another. We are as opposite as night and day, but exist together as the moon and sun. We would be lost if the other one wasn’t there. I have been given a rare gift in my sister that I thank God for often – she is the one person on earth who I trust with all my heart. I know that she has always and will always be a person who will love me and help me no matter what happens. I hope she knows she has that same gift in me. We will always be those little girls playing dress up and wearing high-heels to school without permission, the person on the other end of the phone when one of us needs to celebrate or cry, the one holding onto the rope that binds us during terrible fears and periods of pain…never letting go.
It’s amazing how much your vision changes in 30 years. I used to get so fed-up with being the “oldest” when we were growing up. It always meant looking after the “younger ones” and taking care of them while mom and dad were at work or busy. And the answer to “why” was always because you’re the oldest – I thought it was a pretty unfair punishment back in the day! Yet, here we are, thirty years later and the “younger ones” are all grown up. I sit here in the quiet darkness, sift through the memories from all those years ago, consider the good people my siblings have turned out to be and I realize how blessed I have been. I am grateful now for those times: the fun and the fights, the aggravation and the sharing, the craziness and the sanity. I am very proud of the people they’ve all become and I feel privileged to have watched it and been a part of it from the beginning. Merry Christmas Mandi, David, and Chris. I love you!