January 16, 2022. A single leaf brought me to a stand-still. I’d been out the night before observing the getting-full moon peeking through shifting clouds, all attention upward. Next morning I took the dogs out into bright sunlight – lighting up the sole leaf still clinging to the native Texas redbud tree I’d stood next to staring at the moon. The leaf swayed in a slight breeze. Would I see it separate, fall? No. Still dangling, modeling persistence.
January 6, 2022. The historic significance of January 6 is pervasive in the media and most of our minds today. In between resurgences of anger and angst, I find myself returning to a mindful session yesterday with a group of poets zoomed together to focus on pause and intention. That hour and a half was a pause – opportunity to focus on the temporariness of many things: my self, the Dracaena blooms on the back porch, the moth drawn to those blooms. I feel I was gifted my moment with the moth as a touchstone, to align my intentions with matters I can influence though many other matters vie for my attention. I share this poem from yesterday in hopes it might stir in others recall of a similar touchstone moment of pause. May pausing nurture growth of both acceptance and change.
The blooming of a plant is a progression through moments … as is the passage of time in any way one chooses to measure it … as is the life of a moth or a woman observing moth and plant. Impossible to pause the flow of such, but we can bring focus to specific points and hold those “paused” in our hearts. In a sense any point in time is both an end and a beginning – I’m tagging my moment with the moth as my YE2021.
Background image is today’s remains of December’s Dracaena blooms – moth inset was taken Christmas night, above blooms still not fully open.
October 27, 2021. Today began with intense thunder as a front arrived right as we were letting the dogs out for their morning release. Our young one, Ramble, is afraid of the dark (really!) but will (usually) go out with just a hint of dawn (having not been out since dusk the night before). This morning she balked. Enticed onto the back porch (porch light on) for breakfast alongside elderly companion Buttercup, I closed the back door and settled into the porch rocker to wait awhile.
Quite a scene ensued – our cat Brie had slipped out also. Brie and Ramble each enjoy teasing the other, and the whole back porch was rocking with their ruckus. Buttercup and I observed. And waited.
And I thought of Lilie (Tea and Toast with Kindness) who often posts Zen bits of wisdom and observation from early hours. I tried closing my eyes to “let it be” but Brie would not let it be! Thus, this poem emerged. Lilie, this one’s for you.
Image is from a prior somewhat-calmer togetherness. Clockwise from top: Brie, Buttercup, Ramble
September 6, 2021 – New Moon. Today is Labor Day, but likely the New Moon is a bigger influence on my inner focus – responding to surrounding ruckus impossible to escape or ignore. Even (maybe especially?) for an Enneagram Nine (aka Peacemaker). This year is not over, and I’m braced for more challenges coming ’round the bend. A new moon (dark moon) suggests pausing, summoning from within courage and inventiveness to cope, to keep going.
I’ve included both before and after images, in reverse order as focus is on current conditions: messy. We have an amazing succulent in a pot on our back porch: Mother Of Thousands. Prolific bloomer from early Spring well into June. We went traveling in July and August, leaving the succulent on its own (they really don’t need much water, and I figured this one might prefer fewer camera invasions) – but a sad sight greeted us on return. Yet, a closer look offered a whole new perspective on renewal in spite of circumstances. Hence this plant becomes my model for coping with a world gone wonky in too many ways this year.
February 2021 blooms – Mother Of Thousands
July 7, 2021. Between adventures in our Airstream lifestyle, I play catch-up at my desktop prowling through many, many photos to determine keepers (still “many” though I do discard duplicates and fuzzies) and pair photos with poems written along the way. Some poems call for collaging multiple photos to reflect what I “saw” while writing. We’re packing now for the next jaunt, so high time I finish my “work” from prior jaunt. We went in June to South Llano River State Park, where we’ve been many times. This time in a site new to us, seeing things not previously apparent. Like the mesquite tree with twisted limbs forming a beautiful heart for viewing from the picnic table. We arrived on my 75th birthday and one of the best gifts ever was an hour of solitude at dusk while my generous husband took both Labradors for a long walk. Headed out, he handed me an ale which paired nicely with the view and triggered this poem. (Later the moon rose a bit to the right of the mesquite heart.)
October 15, 2020. I’m almost back from a month’s retreat from home base. I’ve been physically and energetically disconnected from computers and routines. In the next week or so I’ll be catching up on blog posts from others – another sort of cushion comfort! Come end-of-October, I’ll be traveling again …
This haiku was written in response to the visual impact of sky-gazing from the mountain over Cloudcroft NM (a place we return to at least once a year). In typing it up today, I realize it speaks also to my “destination” of adjusting to losing my son. Life seems a continual journey toward an ultimate destination difficult to envision. I savor interim pauses.
September 9, 2020. Two weeks now since my son’s death. He was here the seven weeks prior, seldom leaving the house except for a daily walk around the block. The Labrador and two cats blinked at furniture rearrangements and accepted my son’s desire to be left unlicked, unrubbed. That said, he spent hours observing the canine/feline maneuvers and interactions. It was soon clear they were meditative entertainment through long hours of “just sitting” in the living room. I’d peek at him from behind my computer screen … or gaze at him from my rocking chair … grateful for the nonverbal companionship he enjoyed. Pets don’t ask questions.
Labrador and calico have acclimated, but I keep finding the ginger cat prowling the now-empty room we turned into his bedroom and sitting on the doorstep – signs of searching: where’d he go? For seven weeks his energy filled these rooms, and that remains. I sense a smile of sorts penetrating the space, his pleasure that this cat is seeking him. Perhaps he speaks to her in ways I cannot hear – perhaps they’re engaged in an adventure game. So much I cannot understand.
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.
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
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.
February 14, 2020: Insomnia. Some nights prove unsleepable. As though I’m being kept awake by invisible energies, wearing down my cognitive defenses that I might receive some message, some vibration from the Universe. I often happily honor such wee hours … but when the coming day demands I be alert reasonably early … well, then I summon the Sleep Angels.
No mistaking the effectiveness of repetitive motion, in a dark room, with a cat purring. I’ve collaged my trusty glider with an angel photographed 3 years back (knew I would want that image down the line!)