Saturday, January 17, 2015
Wednesday, December 24, 2014
May this days of holy time for reflection grace you with replenishment of your oil, whatever that means to you: family or friends around a table sharing a meal and laughter and stories, quietude and rest, music and singing along, a fire in the hearth, a belief in miracles which never ends.
Thursday, November 27, 2014
Tuesday, October 28, 2014
I'll wear blue. I'll wear the moon, I'll dress up in starlight. I'll dress up for dinner, even if it's only me at the table. I'll wear pajamas to dinner, alone in my apartment, the red lampshade a miniature fire.
I'll wander the wild, the space between sea and sand, with my heart beating to the sound of waves hitting rock. I'll walk to the park holding my grandson's hand, cherishing every moment before he lets go. We'll pretend we're racing off in a fire truck. I'll shiver in the shade before I coax him into the sun.
I'll wear berets, pink and grey and salmon, and pretend I never left the childhood estate of traveling through foreign lands without a dime in my pocket. I'll remember to say thanks every time I turn on hot water, I'll remember those cold buckets of water poured over the head.
I'll sit with a book in hand and rejoice in words. I'll dance to world beat and wish I could stay up all night. I'll surrender the last crumbs of self pity to the lake, to the fishes and the ducks. I'll love as fiercely as ever, as untidy and profligate as wildflowers. I'll remember the birds flying in formation to land on the sunset waters of the Bosque, the breathtaking beauty, so many wings.
I'll dream of that trip to Paris, I'll keep my passport up to date just in case. I'll drink Scotch and eat tid bits of news gleaned from fb. I'll listen deeply to my heart, to your heart, to the guidance from the Holy Ones, to the call of the trees and the voice of the rocks, to the conversation we have begun of blazing depth and incandescent laughter.
I'll sit by the fire and spark into poetry, into song. I'll pray on bended knees with hands upraised and open, hoping for an answer, hoping for a sign. I'll pray in silence and aloud, remind us that we carry light within.
I'll leave behind a box of photos and stories. I'll let you decide which ones to keep and which to toss away.
Thursday, September 25, 2014
Thursday, June 19, 2014
Friday, March 28, 2014
My instincts told me to go back to work, that it was better than the agony of my own turbulent guilt, and I did until the wheel of fortune took me to Mexico and Alejandro. My instincts told me to hold onto Alejandro, who was both a distraction and a refuge. He knew how to live on a pendulum between deep denial and enjoying life's sensual pleasures. I knew he would not pity me, but in fact, one of the last straws between us was the way he demanded I show up to work at the gallery when I had dengue fever and should have been in bed recuperating, with a kind hand bringing me cool drinks and Tylenol.
Seven years ago when I moved to Minneapolis, if you had told me that I would find ways to meld my gift with my passion to be of service, I would not have believed you, even though my hunger for poetry had come back. Coming to Minneapolis was another turn of the wheel of fortune: my son asked for my help with childcare. I used to claim I would never live in such a cold place. Here I still am, 7 years later.
That first winter, I attended a poetry reading at The Loft for the publication release of Songs Along the Way. I remember it because the temperature was 20 below and I asked my daughter-in-law to give me a ride. I assumed there would be a small turn out. I was still disoriented, in an altered state, and raw with grief that felt like my skin of my heart had peeled away. I was surprised to watch the auditorium fill up but despite standing room only, the seat next to me remained vacant. Was it Sam's spirit come to comfort me? I left that reading to go home and write my first poem since leaving Mexico.
Five years ago if you had predicted that I would create a life I love, I would have seen a small glimmer through the fog. I would have considered the Twin Cities writer's community as a place to begin. I created brochures and sent out proposals, showed up for open mics and asked questions, attended every reading I could get to. Won a McKnight grant, published a book of poetry.
Three years ago if you had told me that I would feel joy, astounding joy that permeates my entire being, the joy of doing what I am meant to do, of using my gift and my desire and my vision, that I would heal, I would have been astonished. I would not have been able to imagine it. But joy has been gifted me, I feel blessed.
Sam's death is not something I got over or ever forget. If I choose to hold the moment of getting the phone call in my mind, or seeing his body at the funeral home, or the afternoon at the Chama where we scattered his ashes, the visceral reaction is as potent as ever. Sharp unbearable pain shoots through my heart. In the poem I wrote a description of my grandson, "When he smiles, it is enough to crack the scotch-taped fissures of my heart back into shards. It is your smile, carbon copy family trait." These memories are enough to crack all the fissures back into shards. The fissures that I have spent the last seven years filling in with gold lacquer, painstakingly matching each surface to the other to resemble the whole.
Poetry performances for Dia de los Muertos where I shared my anguish, poetry performance at Patrick's Cabaret where I told the story also healed me as I realized that death comes for all, death is part of the cycle of life. Death is natural. Sam's death was a choice he made and I can choose the way I mourn, publically and privately.
What I learned as a writing instructor/facilitator is that when I write, there are two paths. One will take me deeper and deeper into the story: what happened to me and what I feel about it. There is no end to that branch of the story. I can tell it over and over, because the emotional pull is powerful. Or I can choose another branch: what it means, what patterns I see, where it leads me, what has been the lesson, and how I can change and transform because of it. And as the writer responsible for the circle, I deliberately choose that branch. That is what I write about and share. When I led workshops under the funding of the grant, writing with battered women and homeless youth and heart patients and care-givers, I was writing weekly or twice weekly and choosing that path over and over again. What does it mean to me, what did I learn, where do I find inner courage and strength, what do I still have, what are my blessings? And I began to heal, not only enough to keep going, not only enough to be engaged with laughter and friendship and love and curiosity and pleasure, but real joy. An inner knowing that I am where I am meant to be, that I am living my dreams, that I am connected to others in deep ways and that I love my life. I am blessed. I am grateful.
If you had told me even last year, that I would be overwhelmed with ecstatic bliss, that I would dance again under the Mexican moon, that I would be filled with Presence of Spirit and that I would be overcome with love, I would have been incredulous. This joy is beyond any previous experience I have ever had. Beyond when I fell in love, when I gave birth, when I sat in a Spanish cafe and listened to flamenco, when I celebrated with friends, when I held my first book in my hands, when I spoke my truth on stage and was held in the arms of my audience. This joy is a state of being. I have come home to myself after long years of wandering. Like Dorothy clicking together her ruby slippers and saying No place like home. It is the center towards which I have been traveling all my life. While I am here, I know I can always return. Whenever grief or disappointment or frustration or longing knock me off-kilter, I know it is here, waiting for me, invincible, mine.