Of Pick-Up Sticks And Hope

November 13, 2020. Scenes of burned forest embody both horror and hope … and present an apt metaphor for the current political scene in the U.S. Imagery here is from New Mexico’s Gila Wilderness which includes forest land that burned several years ago and promises to evolve eventually into renewed (albeit different) beauty. While there in September, many days the sky was darkened by smoke from active Arizona fires. And the news was full of Colorado and West Coast fires. Reminders that the devastation in front of us was not a one-time freak occurrence.

What can I contribute toward healing either former forest or former democracy? I offer imagery to promote hope.

Odd Hours, Odd Moments

May 9, 2020.  COVID-19 makes for odd times, the new normal ever evolving.  I feel my sense of time (days, hours) slipping further and further from the forefront of thoughts and actions.  I’ve begun putting routine tasks on my calendar, but then I forget to open it, and oops!  Two days late dosing the pets with monthly heart-worm preventive.   This poem was written in those hours that challenge my dating the page:  is it still yesterday or already tomorrow?  I had great fun creating the collage, though difficult to choose which of the 40 photos taken of our first 2020 echinopsis cactus bloom.  So many petals, so many angles, so intriguing to steadily observe, wishing I could slip between  petals for a snooze.     

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What Lands In My Lap + Book Review

Includes Book Review:  Dancing In The Narrows by Anna Penenberg

May 1, 2020:  The past six weeks have been a continuing transformation of “normal”.  Settling into new stay-home isolation, two challenges arrived simultaneously: a beautiful but ultra-difficult 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle and a book-review request. The jigsaw image is by Sara Steele, one of my favorite modern painters, and ultimately worth the agony that prompted visions of a mini bonfire, puzzle pieces aflame.  The book, by Anna Penenberg, chronicles a single mother’s heartaches and strengths as she and her daughter (stricken with a debilitating illness later diagnosed as Lyme Disease) are propelled  through one medical intervention after another, hopes rising and falling. I welcomed this book to better understand Lyme Disease.

Certainly I had ample time to work this puzzle and review this book. They made interesting “lap” companions! The puzzle flowers took me virtually out-of-house, and the book took me out-of-now back to years as a single mother. The timing of reading this book is notable.  A book about rising to meet uncertainties, about survival through adapting – along with a world-wide call to face uncertainty, to adapt.

I’ve collaged together the imagery, as these two have become interwoven symbols of my pandemic stay-at-home experience.   I’m breaking usual form with this post to include the book review, below.  You can pre-order now on Amazon; availability is July 2020.

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Dancing In The Narrows by Anna Penenberg (She Writes Press, July 2020)

This is a true tale of resilience facing uncertainty.  Lyme disease is the villain.  Mother Anna Penenberg and daughter Dana are each victims, though only the daughter harbors Lyme. Both are also heroines.  Though many Lyme specifics are covered, read this book for its model of perseverance against odds, against unknowns.  The book is hard to put down.  And when the last page turns, you will see your own challenges through a clearer lens.

~~~Woven into the struggles are spiritual connections to nature, labyrinths, and dance.  Author Anna Penenberg studied dance in college to become a therapist using bodily motion to heal. Exploring treatments takes mother and daughter on several road trips, each a mix of serious business with natural and spiritual encounters.  Like the sunset viewing of the Grand Canyon while pelted by hail, doubling over in laughter, needed relief.  “Everything bothered Dana.  When pain overwhelmed her ability to be civil, we drove in silence.”

~~~The Narrows, a slot canyon in Zion National Park, is a 16-mile stretch of the Virgin River where tall canyon walls come closer and closer together. On a rare week away from Dana, Anna returns to this place during a rainy season, and hikers must stop short of her desired point.  She is allowed 10 minutes on her own, a little beyond the group.  She splashes along a sandbar, hugging the cliff, finding herself “not broken.” The book is named for this pivot point.

~~~The phrase “She will turn a corner” captures the essence of years of searching for answers, “as if we were driving in a neighborhood where, if we made the right turn, we would meet the cure for Lyme disease.”

~~~As Dana begins to improve (in 2012), Anna celebrates turning sixty with a circle of women, reflecting: “I’d had the heroic job of standing by my ailing daughter day and night for years. It wasn’t a job that could be hired out. It wasn’t a job I chose. It wasn’t a job with tenure, benefits, retirement, or prestige, but it transformed me.”  The illness began in 2007. In 2013 Dana could finally live on her own.  “I took off the cloak of survival and stepped naked into my life.”

~~~Each chapter opens with a poignant quote.  One, from Alan Watts: “The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.” This book has much to offer anyone (male or female) facing a challenge that defies resolution — hence, all of us facing the 2020 pandemic. This odyssey encourages survival through persistent pursuit. Protocols embraced by daughter Dana make 2020 rigorous hand-washing seem trivial.

Book Review posted on GoodReads.com: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3309921796?book_show_action=true&from_review_page=1

 

Spinning

April 29, 2020.  Yesterday (another day isolating at home) included a nap, and an awakening that stirred up a poem.   This is NOT a black&white image of my blue bedroom – somehow afternoon sunlight shifted perspectives right out of color ranges –  for my eyes, and for the phone camera synchronistically beside me (I don’t usually nap with  phone!).  I’ve added an icon to depict inner spin with Uncertainty.

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Curious Endorsement

March 26, 2020.  We humans do well to pay attention to wisdom beyond our own, channeled perhaps, direct perhaps, intuited probably.  Some questioning (especially of the disparate advice regarding the COVID-19 influence) is inevitable.

Snow Sez is one of my favorite comics, and I have been distressed at his absence this past week.  He was just gathering wisdom, it seems … delivered today.  I took it immediately to my resident “seer” and she gave a nod.  (But note: she continues cleaning her paws in traditional feline fastidious ways.)

(My mother would be 102 today … I sense her nudging me to lighten up.)

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Aging Model

March 13, 2020.  Today the governor declared Texas a disaster area.  (No doubt others before have deemed Texas a disaster in some vein … this official designation stems from COVID-19 … health and economic issues.)  We are headed into Spring Break, so my teacher husband will be off work next week; likely the week after that; unknown how long the panic and the virus causing the panic will prevail.  I fit into an age bracket considered more vulnerable to this invasive virus, though I do not feel old (apart from several joints that ache). Difficult to believe this virus could feel any worse than my severe reaction to Shingrix back in November! Anticipating my 2nd Shingrix coming in April, I choose to remain optimistic that I will make it through that and this disaster.  I expect to be reflecting a year from now on lessons learned while moving blindly, unsure what I’ll bump into next (shelves empty of essentials … canceled events counted on … local businesses shutting down) yet comforted by others sharing this not-knowing.

Last August, I sat for several days with an old lady named Bella.  Bella is blind.  Bella is quite old for a cat.  Bella keeps purring.  Bella taught me a thing or two.  This poem, written with Bella, was subsequently accepted for the 18th annual Story Circle Network anthology: Real Women Write: Growing / Older, Susan Schoch, Editor —   https://www.amazon.com/dp/0979532957 — paperback & e-book

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Why Gather To Meditate

October 6, 2018.  Today the U.S. has taken a turn many of us deem disastrous.  But why sit home and follow the predictable senate vote?  Better to brave traffic tension, spend the hours with meditative peers.  Not a word uttered about the politicians’ games.  From the silence, I’ve come away determined to keep a beginner’s mind, to follow whatever comes next with curiosity, to remember that nothing happens in a vacuum, nothing escapes eventual change.

This verse formed in my head as I drove toward today’s gathering – an intention mantra of sorts.  The image is yucca seeds, gathered temporarily before separating to spread yucca essence beyond original setting, mixing into varied landscapes.

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Bridging Solstice

December 21, 2017.  As this year moves closer to closure, usual seasonal mood swings squeeze into limited interior space crowded with national tensions, frustrations way beyond individual control and impossible to expel.   Thank you, Nature.  Your cycles remind “this, too, will pass”.   Optimistic fingers tightly crossed, I look toward 2018.

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Near Rociada

July 23, 2017.  Traveling still, now in cooler temperatures and higher elevations.  This afternoon’s rain kept us campsite-bound – an agreeable pace!  I’ve encountered several times lately promotions for “forest bathing” – Japanese Shinrinyoku – preventive healthcare practice of getting oneself out among trees.  Research proves its value.  My experience here bears witness.

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