A Little of This and a Little of That

So far I have posted poems or coaching tidbits or other stuff, but never a combination.  Today, I offer the sampler all-in-one.  A photo from a recent trip to France.  I was so inspired by the tenacity of this little fig tree to survive, which made me think on the amazing resilience of people, which links thematically to a recent poem I wrote, about a moment in New York City.

Harlem

He is from Senegal.
Standing solemn
in his small square of yard,
his hands flutter and pound rhythms
on the tall drum, expressing
what does not show in his face.

The sound rises like smoke
up the stairs and down the street
to his neighbor Bob,
and the “Reina de la Chicharron”
on the corner. Sirens, airplanes,
and the smell of roasting chicken
blend with the beats
to flavor the air.

Like a rose insisting its pinkness,
the drummer sends his message
to drift on the hot wind
across the concrete hive
and a wide ocean
to his brother at home.

A fig tree growing... in spite of...
A fig tree growing… in spite of…

Signs of Spring

Not related to the poem, other than a visual treasure on a recent walk in the woods.
Not related to the poem, other than a visual treasure on a recent walk in the woods.

Small Signs

I walk in smoky sadness,
needing small signs.

Underbellies overhead,
long necks pointing north.
Flaps and honks rain on me.

Forsythia reeds
with bright popcorn blossoms
swish and hula
in a minty breeze.

At a muddy edge of pond
two dogs, tongues rolled out,
bow and lap. Water halos
arc and spread like radio waves.

Honey hope goldens my pulse.

Now, who am I to doubt
that I, thirsty too,
could bow and drink,
flower or fly,
and make a difference.

The Full Hollows

This is a poem I wrote while staying with a dear friend in Mailhac, France. It’s really as beautiful as it looks. I am so grateful for the trip and the friendship…

LaGrasse, France... "the abbey" in the poem...
LaGrasse, France… “the abbey” in the poem…

The Full Hollows

In the heart
the abbey, the nautilus, the iris,
the person, the horse, the cricket,
the berry, the house
the light and dark
hollow of potential,
a unique distilled, defining
un-nameable essence.

A silken, silent cord of spirit
pricks it awake as it threads
through and links the coeurs
one to another.
Sacred chambers strung like jewels,
a grand necklace
draped on the blue green planet.

Conquering the Wizard– An Small Insight into Fear

FEAR… This topic keeps cropping up. Yes, every day. And I’ve encountered a particularly rich batch of it recently. But, once I stumbled my way through it, I thought, “What the heck?!? Why did I waste all that time being worked up about it?”

You see, when I finally faced the terrifying thing (actually it was a hard conversation), it really wasn’t such a big deal.

Obviously, there are cases of fear in response to something truly horrrific, or the anticipation of a danger. I am not diminishing the reality of accidents, injury, violence, abuse, war, and many other non-trivial cases. In these cases, fear is a critical, emotional tool that should be “listened to.”

The kind of fear I am referring to in this blog post, starts as a flicker of concern and develops into an enduring condition without legitimate basis in the present situation. This variety of concern goes from being a dram of fear wriggling its way forward in your mind, begins to roll, and then picks up speed and velocity. Soon after, the little worry quickly evolves into a tumbling boulder, and then a bone-crushing behemoth of terror. But, once confronted, the frightening thing is unmasked as a mirage, an illusion, more than likely created from old painful experiences from your life.

This was certainly the situation with that tough conversation I was so nervous about having. I had created a web of horrible, upsetting versions of how the conversation, and its aftermath, could go. As my mind chewed on all of those potential scenarios, I got more and more panicky, anxious, and worried. With each passing negative fantasy, I was essentially feeding my fear a high calorie diet. It became full and powerful. With it’s increased energetic size, the fear occupied a huge amount of my time, thought, and energy.

As often with the brilliant light of things seen in hindsight, the day after my big conversation/confrontation, I remembered a saying a friend had shared with me years before. He said, “More often than not, fear is really just, ‘false evidence appearing real.'” That’s:

F-alse

E-vidence

A-ppearing

R-eal

It’s incredibly accurate, right?!

Shortly after recalling this wise gem, I used it to handle another looming fear. The first step was to step back from the problem to gain a slightly different perspective. From a bit more distance, I could see it in its proper scale and with more clarity. By that simple act of examining it in a more scientific, detached way, I had a proverbial “Wizard of Oz” moment. Toto had pulled the curtain to reveal the small man fiddling with levers and knobs to frighten me.

So, the next time you find yourself in a semi paralysis from an anticipated, worrisome concern, step back a bit, and recall the perspective that what you are afraid of may be a collection of false evidence, that looks really real. And you can pull back the curtain on it, and see it for what it is: a smaller problem that you are very capable and skilled enough to handle. Oh, and remember to breathe. That helps too.

Inches, Can Make You a Winner.

Inches.  They add up.

Just like words.  Or tasks.

And sometimes, inches are the only way you can move because even the thought of attempting more is just too much.

I have fresh experience with this “inches” concept and the execution of it.

Trying to get an accurate, “grown-up” look at my finances, I circled, danced, looked away, and deftly avoided the task for …  twenty seven years.  Now that I am into my fifth decade, I finally decided it might be time.  And so, bravely setting aside my highly developed avoidance skills, I told more than one person that I was going to do it–aka it became a real commitment, because in today’s world after the first person learns of it, it’s likely to have been posted on facebook or tweeted before you told the second person.

But first you must understand my relationship with finances.  It’s an open relationship.  I see something I need to pay for, I open my checkbook.  That’s about as deep as it goes.  Well that, and the swirling, sucking noise of my guilt which drags me into the pit of doom when I begin to think about money.  The sound in the pit of doom, once I have been swallowed in, is an echoey loop of voices telling me that I am a loser, that I have no real job, and that I’m just a spoiled idiot.  Voices or no voices, I know one certain truth: I have been incredibly fortunate.  But, like a monkey on the magical-thinking carpet ride, I have an inkling that there is only so much good fortune allotted, and my “ride” could quickly become a carpet square gliding on a thick layer of dust.  Time to get real.

I dismounted the carpet, and immediately regretted it, as I was now enrobed in terror.  Reality being far too real.  When I finally stopped hyperventilating and running around in circles (which is all I have ever really done when I thought I was running away…) I gave myself permission to try to tackle this effort a little at a time, and inch my way in, and through this daunting financial mountain.  It’s dark in here now, but I can see daylight up ahead.  And it feels pretty good not to be running around the mountain pretending it isn’t there.

So, I urge you.  That thing that is hard, that you need to take care of?  Just start small.  You can do it.  Do it, in inches.  And you’ll be glad, even during that first painful step because it’s the right thing to do.  And eventually the inches add up and the pain will be a memory and maybe even part of a good story.

Courage or Comfort

Pivotal moments, and even less significant ones, often come down to a simple question.  Do you want to be courageous or comfortable?  Because you generally can’t be both.  Either answer is correct.  The trick is choosing consciously, so that when you have feelings shortly after your decision, you will understand the what’s, whys of your emotions and even how to best talk yourself through the post-game self-analysis of your choice.

You ask– what the *%&#! is she talking about?

Well, for example, if you decide to opt for a courageous choice, you may find yourself terrified, uncomfortable, awash in doubt, or your knees juddering from anxiety.  Knowing that you are taking a brave action, you can give yourself encouragement or pats on the back — as you understand that new actions can cause fear, anxiety, doubt, etc. etc.  The feelings are completely normal.  And, they will pass.

If you opt for the comfy choice, besides feeling cozy in a way at first, you may have a sense of disappointment crop up.  Or maybe you’ll beat yourself up because you didn’t rise to the challenge. Or you’ll call yourself stupid, lazy, and all those other charming things we say to ourselves when we are already feeling pretty cruddy.  Okay, crappy.  Okay, maybe even shitty.

Just to provide a specific, albeit silly, example, let’s take this precise literary moment.  I had to muster a bit of nerve to publicly write a “naughty” word.  The parent in me had a curled lip and her finger wagging in disapproval.  And yet, I felt  compelled to write the truth.  And now I’m a little worried that I shouldn’t have.  Maybe I will offend people.  Maybe it was too bold.  Obnoxious.

However, if I had just left it at “cruddy,” I would have felt like I was all milk-toast.  Vanilla.  Caving to my well-mannered upbringing rather than owning my foul mouth and letting it color my paragraph with a little accurate zing.  Being vanilla is who I am, and I am often deeply ashamed of it.  I could go on and on about how bland and stupid and boring and “not cool” I am…

Point demonstrated?  It feels CRAPPY  and shitty when you yell at yourself when you’re already a little down in the personal sparkle and vim and vigor department.  Obviously if you are seeking comfort through making a comfortable choice, you are not at the top of your game.  You want a little gentleness or rest or safety.  And since you know your most vulnerable, underbelly areas, you have the special potential to plunge the dagger more accurately than anyone.  And when you do, it really, really hurts.  So, don’t.  Or at least cut off that nasty voice mid monologue.  It will be a courageous act… that will make you feel more comfortable 😉

Spring… fina-freaking-ly

Here is a poem that I wrote a little while back when I was particularly pining for spring.  Although it is late April I’m still pining for spring.  I live in New Hampshire.  I may be pining for spring until July when it arrives and we have our three and a half days of summer.

The Bulb

I am a tight fist in the frozen earth.
Un-noteworthy. Not as firm as a stone
nor of enduring value like a gem.
I sense muffled footsteps,
feathery breezes, trill of song,
snapping twig, and whisper of rain
from another world
which I dream of entering,
and will enter dreaming.
Now I follow a code to remain
still, quiet, unnoticed.
As the cold soil grows buttery
and smells brown and green,
I will slowly burst, rise and morph.
Press up blind
and grasp down sure,
spidery tendril explorers,
curious in the thick dark dirt.
I stretch, moving to my limits,
to take what I need
and search for what I crave.
And then a bold blade of me
will play red carpet
for my fleeting celebrity
As the audience, hungry for color
and celebration, awaits,
my face will emerge, innocent,
to reveal my
velvet firework
in modest dazzle.