A shimmering web of wind

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A piece of poetry emerged tonight – not my intended response to the Quest 2016 prompt offered today, but there you go.

The wind made me do it.

No apologies.

Theme:  Prioritize your value
Visionary:  JOHN JANTSCH

Prompt:  What can you stop doing in 2016 such that it would allow you to focus on higher payoff activities?

In 2016, I will stop apologizing for things that need no apology.

I will stop diminishing myself.

I will stop living in the land of intentions.

I will stop postponing action.

I will stop holding back.

How about you?  What can you stop doing next year?

***

I see the wind changing.
Pushing back on the river’s flow forward,
quickening its surface like poorly-ironed silk.

I hear the wind changing.
Threading itself through clusters of chimes, sounding like sea air, teasing and circling and rising before waves.  

I feel the wind changing.
Entering like a swirling potion of ether – wooing me, pricking tears at my eyes, sending my heart all-a-swoon.

Change comes.

***

John Jantsch is a marketing consultant, speaker and author ofDuct Tape Marketing (Thomas Nelson 2011), Duct Tape Selling (Portfolio 2014), The Commitment Engine(Portfolio 2012), and The Referral Engine (Portfolio 2010) and the founder of the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network. Twitter: @ducttape

Drawing by:  Nataliia Kozlova
(beautiful woman with birds in her hair (series C)

Inside the lines

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pure joy

snow sparks
the day’s brightness
hair, icy wet,
against cheek

we race
holding children
in circled arms
our too-small sleds spin out
toward each other

________________________________________

I wrote this poem in December 2013, but my heart remembered it today when walking the dogs with my husband Mike on the icy pavement, the morning after the first snow of the season.  There was sun, but it wasn’t warm (and certainly not melting anything!), and the morning sky was this bright Virgin-Mary blue against the silvery white of snow on all the branches – and  I could hear, but not see, the sound of children sledding in the school yard, which is near our home – their laughter and shouts like bells, heralding memory in sweet beautiful waves, of childhood and joy and hope – the sound, I have to believe,  the same for all time of children at play in a first snow.

[But then, Dear Reader. if I were to be even more honest with you, which I guess I am being – the seed of this poem hearkens back a million more years to a similar day, in our first family home on Julian Street, when all the kids were small and the idea of racing outside in the snowy cold, dragging sleds and snow-suited children, was not an entrancing idea to most adults.  But it was to me, this absolute need to be outside in it – to be en-wrapped in the magic and beauty of it.  And he, my best friend, but a man married to another, a similarly practical, more sedentary spouse, said “yes, let’s go!” and off we went towing the kids behind us – sledding down hills ourselves, laughing for the pure joy that it brought us and our kids.

It is a memory of love that my heart forever holds – this moment of reveling in life with another, of being truly alive in the world.  It was (and still is) a North Star moment for me.  Its the image my heart holds, reminding what it feels like to be true to myself, what it means to love, to journey with another, and what it means to truly be alive in the world.

 

 

“You are young. So you know everything”

Day 4 - the churn of the water I love the Mary Oliver poem West Wind #2 and have it here at my desk as a daily reminder to myself to “row, row for your life toward it”

When I was young and a new mother, I used to walk everyday, pretty much all day, with my months-old son Ben in his stroller.  We would first walk to the Green Mountain coffee shop next to Anderson’s bookstore, where I met Jay (my ex-husband and actor and bookseller) and stepped forward together into the dark & passionate maelstrom that would be our new life together.

I remember every morning I used to order a low-fat peach-berry-crunch muffin, which made me feel justified and good, but never satisfied.  Everyone knew me there.   Mothers coo-ed at the sweet little boy tucked in blankets.  I don’t know what I did – if I was reading or writing or just sitting there with my warm mug of coffee.

I wonder what they must have thought of me, there everyday, alone with this baby for hours.

After breakfast, I would walk the meandering brick path, running on both the north and south banks of the DuPage River.  I’d listen and watch the water flowing across the rocks, notice the ducks arguing, and stop at the same picnic shelter, when Ben would need his bottle or to be changed.  He never seemed to mind the day-long walks.  He’d look up at me in bright wonder.  I wonder what he saw?

I thought I wanted to be a stay-at-home mother.  I thought that was the best thing for a child – just like breast feeding & cloth diapers, which lasted, for me & Ben, only 3 days, if that.   But I wasn’t very good at being a stay-at-home mother.  I was restless. Purposeless. I was sad and lonely.  Motherhood  wasn’t what I dreamed it would be like.

I know now that going back to work in corporate America, was a good thing for me, yet, then I resented it so much. This wasn’t what I was supposed to be when I grew up, why I went to college, it wasn’t what my parents dreamed for me.

I always believed that being a wife and mother (and possibly a part-time florist or cake decorator, writer, or weirdly, a park ranger) was the right thing for me – to raise children, to create and hold together a family.  It certainly wasn’t my dream to commute to Chicago 5 days a week and send my child to daycare.

And god, how I blamed my ex-husband in every way possible, that I couldn’t choose to stay home with our son, like so many more affluent women in our town.  I was so jealous of the women and their organized playgroups – all of them seemed so adept at what I struggled with – being a mother to an infant and toddler.

Instead I spent those days in a heavy grey fog of depression.

Once I remember saying to my own mother (and knowing it was true) that Ben was in better hands with our home daycare provider Cindy.  She was so gifted at helping young children thrive – Ben loved being in her home, with the other kids his age – watching trucks rumble down the road, playing outside in the sandbox, going to story time at the library.  He loved Cindy. Sometimes, he would mistakenly call her “mom” when we were leaving her home at the end of the day and saying goodbye.  That hurt a lot to hear.  But I swallowed it and smiled.

If I wasn’t a stay-at-home mother (and part-time florist/bookstore worker/coffee shop waitress/writer in blue-felt hat), what was I?  

What was I called to do?  when would I feel “the mist on (my) mouth and sense ahead the embattlement, the long falls plunging and steaming”?

So you will forgive me for hesitating and resisting packing away the Story that I thought I was called to write.  You will forgive me my fear of letting that Story go and turning away from rowing towards that “unmistakable pounding”.  Because then, what am I?

I am drifting in too-calm waters, purposeless

Yet, I wonder, could it be, that even at 48, I am still that young woman Mary Oliver’s poem calls to?  I don’t know, but I have lifted the oars anyway, and am listening.  Are you?

West Wind #2

You are young.  So you know everything.  You leap
into the boat and begin rowing.  But listen to me.
Without fanfare, without embarrassment, without
any doubt, I talk directly to your soul.  Listen to me.
Lift the oars from the water, let your arms rest, and
your heart, and heart’s little intelligence, and listen to
me.  There is life without love.  It is not worth a bent
penny, or a scuffed shoe.  It is not worth the body of a
dead dog nine days unburied.  When you hear, a mile
away and still out of sight, the churn of the water
as it begins to swirl and roil, fretting around the
sharp rocks – when you hear that unmistakable
pounding – when you feel the mist on your mouth
and sense ahead the embattlement, the long falls
plunging and steaming – then row, row for your life
toward it.

~ Mary Oliver ~

And from Roger Housden’s “Ten Poems to Open Your Heart” – the opening coda to his discussion on this poem is a quote from Mary Oliver:

“Poetry is a life-cherishing force.  For poems are not words, after all, but fires for the cold, ropes let down for the lost, something as necessary as bread in the pockets of the hungry.  Yes indeed.”

Yes, there is suffering

mourningdove

Yes, there is suffering
And most of it we do not see.

And yet I wonder
how much of it we carry
inside
by the the breath
that is the air
that is the Wind
that connects us

Wind
un-spooling itself
across Ocean’s
great span of pewter
with fin-less sharks
bleeding blood
atop its waves

Wind
catching on
Mountain’s grand granite wrapped white
with featherless birds
grounded and silent
in smoldering black
barren-ness

Wind
en-wrapping
City’s concrete prisms
buzzing and sparking
then blasted to ruin
with grey ashes
falling
a snow in September

a hungry child hums of teapots and posies
a veiled woman prays Hail Mary on wooden beads shiny as chestnuts
a tortured man begs for mercy, knowing none will come
All touched and part of the invisible Wind

We swallow the Wind
We swallow the suffering we do not see.
It is ours to bear.
And yet, we sing.