The Heart of Winter

polar vortex in the news
I browse novels
set in the tropics

~

snow dust on the hood of the car cat tracks

~

kitchen warmth
I trade in December’s red
for February roses

 

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Winter Exhales

It’s the last day in January 2019 already and last of my daily mindful writing posts for the annual January challenge This challenge is always fun and stretches me beyond what I hope for, even when I hit a slump about midway through.  It’s amazing all that goes on in a day, and to pick up and share one piece of it, is both challenging and enriching.  January is really the best month for daily mindful writing. Winter offers an ideal time for mindful introspection as well as silent snow days. Looking back, the top three posts that were read are: Walking With Depression,  Fractured Time and The Unfinished Poem. Thank you for joining me on this mindful writing journey.

February 1st starts National Haiku Writing Month. February, the shortest month of the year, is ideal for the #NaHaiWriMo challenge of writing one haiku or senryu per day.  Same mindfullness with more brevity and a whole lot more editing.  Less words but more work. It may be the easiest form of poetry to write, but the hardest to write well.

We are in the claws of a Polar Vortex here in the North Eastern U.S. My thermometer read -7 degrees this morning. The radiators are hissing, storm windows frosting and even my hands are chilled to the bone writing this in my old leaky house. Many of my friends and family are decamping to warmer climes, and the dog walks are shorter, quicker and more to the point. Winter is exhaling frosty exclamation marks!!!

~

Polar Vortex
in a dream–I’m trapped
by three polar bears and a lion

 

 

MLK: Leadership For The Ages

Dr. Martin Luther King was born in January, and before the month or my posts end, I would like to pay tribute for the first time to a man who I’m finding out rather lately, was so much more of a humanist than just what his record of civil rights leadership shows. I read an article recently that Dr. King spoke out against the Viet Nam war despite the setbacks that would undermine him both personally and the broader work of the civil rights movement politically. According to an article in the New York Times, Time To Break the Silence on Palestine, by Michelle Alexander:

Dr. King was urged by some of his strongest allies to remain silent about the unjust and disastrous (Viet Nam) war, because he would be falsely labeled a Communist, suffer retaliation and severe backlash, alienate supporters and threaten the fragile process of the civil rights movement. King rejected all the well-meaning advice and said, ‘I come to this magnificent house of worship (the Riverside Church in Manhattan) tonight because my conscience leaves me no other choice’…and he said ‘A time comes when silence is betrayal.’ It was a lonely, moral stance. And it cost him. But it set an example of what is required of us if we are to honor our deepest values in times of crisis, even when silence would better serve our personal interests or the communities and causes we hold most dear.”

This is what impressed me the most–that he spoke out and stood up for his values despite the real risk of hurting the causes and movement that he so passionately worked for his whole life to honor and lead. It goes to show that there is no rationalization for separation of core values despite great loss. Dr King’s was an amazing and unusual strength of vision allied with action. Whew! So hard to find in today’s political climate especially with the ability of smear campaigns and “fake news” via social media and other news networks to cripple an honest viewpoint. However, despite today’s obstacles, I do believe that Dr King would still stand up and call out hypocrisy and untruths undeterred by political correctness and greater loss. This stands as one of his greatest legacies to me, and now I am so much more grateful and indebted to him beyond his “I Have A Dream” speech and leadership. It’s time I read more of his own writings.

 

Walking With Depression

I woke up this morning in a full-mode depression after weeks/months of a low-grade turn. I felt so low that I could not think of a single thing to write about today, and far worse, I cared less. The loss of hope, caring and spirit is the gut-sucker here while inspiration or lack ideas, words or images is secondary and merely a symptom. I had thought that the remedy needed was a get-away artist retreat or residency for a few weeks or even a short day-trip, otherwise tagged as an artist’s date (by the wise Julia Cameron), or simple break in routine. All of which are luxuries that do indeed help, but in the long run–luxuries do not fully replace daily nourishment or modest natural joy.

So I sat at the edge of my bed and uncorked the valve of tears and let them flow, and in doing so, I also decided that I cannot ignore or cleanly push Depression off to the side. I need to address and walk with her, Depression, and just let her be for what she is, despite the fact that I don’t even know what she is or why she visits. She simply takes up some of my time, space and energy. With that surrender and the tears came enough release and the recognition that we have to walk side-by-side sometimes, I was able to reset and begin a functioning and even noteworthy day. I noticed the underside of the half moon and its very real roundness, and began to note other small graces. I emerged from this darker side, and while driving, started to thank my team of Angels and Guides. I asked for a sign–calling it a gift for the first time to show me a bit of the magic in my life. Just as I was finishing the thought, a car turned quickly into my lane in front of me, and its license plate held My INITIALS ALL IN CAPS (yes as license plates are want to do). I smiled broadly and took this trivial delight as the sign/gift I asked for. I have not seen my initials on a car plate in decades, and since it’s all about timing–I felt blessed and gifted. I also began to tap into Inspiration, another of many walking archetype partners that I engage with. I had lost sight of her, Inspiration, this morning and now she is back. And though Inspiration is far more companionable than Depression or Grief, we all walk together taking turns to share and navigate the trail that is life and the artist’s way.

~

mubblefubble–walking depression into poetry

Free Range News

Tucked into a half-carton of organic eggs from The Country Hen, was a mini yet information-packed newsletter titled “Farm News.” After a full banner headline, date, location, phone number and graphics it began with “Dear Friends and FARMily:”

This compact yet charming double-sided brief included everything I could possibly want to know and then some. There are photos of pale blue eggs that they will be introducing soon, as well seven different branded logos! It’s all printed on “100% Post Consumer Recycled Paper” with the friendly tag line “We sincerely hope that you and yours continue to enjoy our exceptional eggs in good health always.”

Notwithstanding its color and charm, I was still a little put off first thing, rather second or third thing in the morning as I opened the carton to get an egg only to have all this chipper “farm news” spill out so unexpectedly and cheerily. Sort of like happy clucking in your ear when all you really want to do is wake up slowly and silently. Is it possible to be off-put by a too-happy tone from a stranger? Do I come across that way in these posts–too friendly or too cozy or too anything? Sometimes we catch our own reflections in the oddest environments. Just a wonder.

~

Something old
something new
organic eggs
now something blue

_

Thank You Mary Oliver

Yesterday there was sad news (for many of us) in the passing of poet Mary Oliver. She more than any other poet, showed me the way of simple words elevated to song. I always admire a master who can bring rustic or homespun to the table with seeming ease and grace and invite us to share in a feast. Mary Oliver did exactly that with words and wonder for the natural world. Simple and profound at the same time.

One of my forever favorite poems of hers:

I GO DOWN TO THE SHORE 

I go down to the shore in the morning
and depending on the hour the waves
are rolling in or moving out,
and I say, oh, I am miserable,
what shall–
what should I do? And the sea says
in its lovely voice:
Excuse me, I have work to do.

Mary Oliver ~ from A Thousand Mornings

Thank you.

No Sounds of Silence

No sounds of silence in this old house
when just past midnight—the patter of a mouse
sounds more like the boots of a lumberjack
tracing through the woods with a heavy backpack.

The clock tick tocks very self-aware
as if stationed robustly in a town square.
That is nothing but a slow drumroll
to the radiators’ hiss–bang–rock and roll.

For when the aging furnace kicks on
the cacophony is a conclusion foregone.
Nighttime timbers stretch and whine much as
seniors who crowd an all-you-can-eat food line.

Peaceful in its own rhythmic sway
this hullabaloo of farmhouse play.
For there is safe keeping in its song
of unquiet between midnight and dawn.