Finishing work today on a project for my chamber group. This time of year tends to end up being spent on most of the volunteer work necessary for being part of two non-profit groups. I’m always grateful for the people I work with, getting in there and doing thankless tasks, and this year it’s been especially nice because I was able to shove some paid work toward a friend. We work really well together, and things have gotten done twice as fast. Working with friends doesn’t have a single-word definition to write a poem about, but it’s well worth a spot on my gratitude list.
“Collaborate” has work built-in,
It’s ‘labor’ at its core –
Our forces, joining, underpin
The efforts of a score.
Collaboration is first ‘rate’
Co-leaders, we cooperate
And move the dial. And all the while
We work, we celebrate.
Okay, this one’s kind of a cheat, but it still makes me smile.
I am terrible at meditation. JUST. TERRIBLE. I remember taking my group home students to a yoga studio once for a Phys. Ed. lesson (we had tons of “try out this sport/thing!” demonstrations to expose them to a broader world than where they’d come from). The teacher took us through the basics of where and why yoga started, and what it was about, and then she attempted to get my students to do some basic, beginner yoga … with predictable results. Internal stillness? Nope. Focus? Nope. Despite face-twisting effort (which was really hilarious) none of us found balance or serenity to speak of. The yoga teacher was working with us as a favor to the director, though, so she soldiered on, but I remember thinking that I was as bad as the kids – all intrusive thoughts and distractions.
On reflection, I think the whole meditation/Zen-fail was more that my attention was divided, trying to make sure my students didn’t start shenanigans than anything else. If I’m not actively worried about something, I can focus and breathe and do all those good mindfulness-related things. Does it do anything like lower my blood pressure or make me a better person? Meh, maybe – but more importantly, I’ve discovered that stillness is a necessary ingredient for sometimes hearing… myself. And that’s got to be worth a ‘thank-you.’
Still sits tall – its legs l-straight
Releasing all the stress ‘s’ hates.
It cashes out, closes the till
Turns off the lights and starts to chill.
“What if justice isn’t conferred by a court but created by building healthy, resourced communities?” – Derecka Purnell (via Twitter, as part of an entire mini-essay)
Several of the songs our chamber group learned this autumn are about community, and we’ve delved into it in ways I’ve never really considered. Actually, I’ve not much considered community because I was born into one I took for granted. I think that will change.
we are met together
Community makes us more than our sum,
Shared streets, beliefs, or race.
Its ‘unity’ stands. It ‘co’-works as one.
Making dignity commonplace.
I feel like I’m on a roller coaster – Finished and turned in my book – YAY!
Amazing National Book Award announcements, where a writing colleague I “Internet know” won – YAY!
A friend’s birthday – YAY!
A complete miscarriage of justice in the courts… ::sigh:: Expected. Expected. Expected.
And that’s such a shame. But, we go on.
We Go On
Resilient is a word resolved:
‘re’ reappears when it is called,
without a ‘si’ it gets to work.
It will not ‘lie,’ it never shirks.
A strength that knows what ‘right’ should be,
A zeppelin’s worth of buoyancy.
Keep faith, friends.
Years ago, I saw a quilted wall-hanging made by Wendi Gratz embroidered with the words “Enough is as Good as a Feast.” That was ages ago, and the words are still something I want to write on my hand at least once a day. Enough – surfeit – is as good as a groaning table, full.
Quite a thought for people who struggle with being not enough. Quite a thought for those who overthink, overdo, overspend. Quite a thought to go into Thanksgiving with!
Ample – not stuffed.
“Full, thanks, so no more.”
This meal’s up to snuff,
No need for encore.
You’re good, like a feast,
Just right. On the nose.
So, rest in that peace
And settle, reposed.
It may seem odd to be grateful for deadlines, but here I am —
It’s not easy to let go of your work. You fear that there are more flaws in it than not, and you worry that opening the door to letting someone see your work will also open it to criticism. It’s easier to hold on and tweak with it a little more. Go through and change all the dialogue tags to be “said” instead of something more potentially offensive. You look for how many times your characters have rolled their eyes. You rearrange semi-colons. You delete all the semi-colons, because how pretentious, and who do you think you are, anyway?
Trust me – deadlines save writers from themselves. Even though we all loathe them.
Deadline is a final word –
“She’s dead, Jim, cut the line.”
A word which tells me, “Pencils down.”
And lops off working time.
It tells a truth that’s underlined:
You’re done, leave off
You’re out of time.
Now that the immediate chaos of having cranked down to finish a novel is beginning to dissipate, I’m looking around at all the chaos I’ve left in my wake. There are a ton of projects I normally do well before this time of year which have been left undone. Not that Himself hasn’t kicked in and done a lot of work – but things like going through closets and mending and refreshing things are little things that I like to do and I’ve not done them, not to mention the larger responsibilities I have to particular Boards and organizations – all the volunteer work that nonprofits need I’ve delayed and stepped away from — and let’s not talk about our November family dinner, or my brother’s birthday. Let’s. Just. Not.
I’m grateful that at least the house is reasonably clean. Somehow, a huge mess would make it all even worse. As a person with a very overactive brain, for me, order = peace.
straighten up and fly right
Order is a sorting word
My ducks are in a row
‘O’ sees my wagons circled
While ‘d’ directs the flow
We’re left-right, Forward, march!
All standing in our places,
Spit-and-polish, full of starch.
I love talking to people in Iceland – because while they have astrological seasons like everyone else, their meteorological seasons don’t match ours. In Iceland, winter starts at the end of October, following the old Norse calendar. This calendar only consists of two seasons – winter and summer. There are 26 weeks of winter in Iceland, and 26 weeks of summer, and the first day of each is a celebration. I don’t know – I kind of love that. I can get behind people who get that excited about weather – even if it’s what most people consider cold.
I’ve been enjoying our deeply foggy days and being cold when I get out of bed. And, I know – it’ll get SO OLD ’round about, oh, February, but for now, I am enjoying all the trappings of the cool season – including soup, which is the best food, ever. (Now that I’ve finally figured out how to reliably make it well.)
Soup is a soothing word
Smooth, savory, like stew
But simpler – it’s sip, slurp,
Sloooop, and then its through.
I have an uncle who was a continual disappointment to me when I was a child. All the promises of when he’d come visit, of what he’d bring, of what we’d do — promises the day of the visit… All the waiting at the window. The crushing disappointment when he didn’t show.
This uncle has a child or two. I suspect they felt the same, more often than I did. I didn’t… understand why, at first. Drugs and alcohol can make the people who promise you things in love unable to deliver; it took me a long time to understand that… and to my shame, even longer to see through the rage, and forgive. I’d work it all out, smooth out all the wrinkles in my feelings, and then he’d do something else, and the flames would rage anew… Ugh.
I’m thinking of him today because he is very ill, and inward there still exists that angry child. But, if I can be more than grateful for the times people have excused my screw-ups, well. I can do no less for someone else, even when it is hard. Even if I have to do it over, and over, and over.
Forgive is an open word.
“What for?” it asks. “To give.”
From open hands my grievance falls.
That’s what I need, to live.
I finally attended a semi-normal, in-person recital this week. It was ‘semi-normal’ because there were only a few audience members, as each student was only allowed two masked guests, but it was a start. It was held in an adorable little chapel with a lovely stone floor… and sitting there, I was glad I didn’t have to spend any time on it! That’s certainly cause for gratitude.
Kneel: a compact, folded word
Starts silenced with the ‘k’
Which knees us, awkward, into ‘l’
And buckles down to pray.