Looking and Not Talking

  I’m hanging in a wordless space, even as I write these words. Recently home from a family trip on the Oregon coast for the holidays, I’m savoring all I saw and heard there: my family, of course; and also blustery winds and rain; thundering waves; squawking seabirds; towers of sand; and fairy woodlands, waterfalls dashing amidst stones and trees adorned with moss, lichen and teeny mushrooms. People I love are still facing serious health crises and I’m silently holding them in my heart. Yesterday I gathered with friends as in creative silence we asked our personal dreams for 2019 to appear on vision boards. The visual storyteller Maira Kalman, when asked about her love of museums, spoke of the peace in “just wandering and looking…I think we have the opportunity to understand silence around us, and really looking all the time.  There’s always the opportunity. And there’s never a lack of things to look at, and there’s never a lack of time not to talk.” Looking and not talking. Yes, I’ve been in this space and do not want to leave it. So this month I offer a few pictures for you to look at and ponder if you choose, with some white space around them…                                                                   (The entire “On Being” interview with Kalman, sent to me by a dear friend, is fabulous and can be found HERE.)...

Playtime for a Full Heart

Life has been intense lately. Amidst the dark and cold and holiday hullabaloo (and provoking world and national news), many people I love are going through very tough experiences right now.  So I decided to give my sore heart a break with a little playtime. The result is the writing below and the drawing, both of which gave me a much-needed chuckle. I hope you get a chuckle out of them, too.   Counting Change   One is the loneliest number One-act play One day I won one! Hard one Hard-won Won over One after another One a day One by one Won by one One left?   Two heads are better than one It takes two to tango Two by two Two left feet To where? To dream To ache Can I have two? Tea for two Too much? Two choices Me too!   Three’s a crowd Third wheel Bad luck comes in threes Third time’s the charm Three coins in the fountain Three wishes What’s the third thing? Three-legged stool Seeing in 3D   “Four eyes” On four legs Four-poster bed It’s a four-door What for? For a song For a lark For a laugh For spite For a change For heavens’ sake! For or against?   FORE! Four way stop.   Did you find the four numbers hidden in the drawing?...

Liberating Limericks

A writer whose mind swam in fog, Was endlessly scribbling her blog. Ideas were few, And nothing felt new, So she quit, and went out for some grog.   She tried once again the next morn, But still nothing real could be born. Words wouldn’t come, Her brain stuck with gum? Her frustrated heart filled with scorn.   So she tinkered with limericks instead, Thinking playfulness might clear her head. It had been a long time Since she’d made silly rhyme, Was relieved that her mind wasn’t dead! (And she hopes they’ll amuse when they’re read.)       A tree green and lush in its crown, Stares out with a powerful frown. “This land is a wonder! Not something to plunder! All Earth is a verb, not a noun!”         A fairy with curls, looking stern, Speaks a lesson she wants us to learn: “Mother Earth needs our caring, Her magic’s still flaring, Match Her love with your own, let it burn!”         What is the limerick of your life...

On Being Silly

Never stay up on the barren heights of cleverness, but come down into the green valleys of silliness.                                                                                                                    Ludwig Wittgenstein Acting silly is one of the primal pleasures.                                                                         Marty Rubin It’s such fun to take a lot of people and create something silly.                                                                         Eric Idle A friend was telling me the other day how delighted she was to have discovered someone new who she could be silly with. I was a bit wistful, realizing I hadn’t been silly in awhile and I miss it. We talked about how fun, and how rare, it is to find a true companion in silliness—not only someone willing to be silly, but whose “brand” of silliness meshes with your own (there are so many different ways to be silly!). Kids are often joyously silly together, but adults less so. Were you discouraged from being silly as a kid? My childhood foolishness was mostly unstoppable, but as I matured, it was dampened by the firm lesson from my mother that one should always be dignified. Being silly is rarely dignified. Nor did I want to be thrown in with the usual crowd of silly people, those either empty-headed or drunk. The older I got, though, the more the sheer pleasure of playful silliness outweighed any concern for my public image. Being silly with others just feels too good. More like its original definition (in Old English)...

Spring in the Maelstrom

How’s your month being going? If it’s been calm, peaceful and predictable, I think you are quite unusual. In the last two weeks, I have experienced two family birthdays, my husband’s retirement, a week’s visit with a friend out of town, a neighbor’s adult child’s untimely death, a dear friend injured in a car accident, my eldest child’s graduation from medical school, my youngest child home for the graduation rear-ended in a car accident, probably totaling the car (he’s ok), and a week enduring a miserable cold, including a visit to urgent care. Oh, and my Facebook account was hacked; after several attempts to clear it, I had to deactivate it until I can figure it out. (And of course the deaths of Prince and Daniel Berrigan.) So when I sit down to write this blog, I chuckle as “blog” triggers images of me blearily, foggily, slogging through a boggy mind to make this month’s offering. Therefore, to spare that soggy mess, I will simply offer this poem, Aware, by Denise Levertov. It comes to mind because I like it, but also because for me the peace between the maelstrom of events has been the glorious spring—the light, the breeze, the tulips, daffodils, and now lilacs (I can’t wait to smell them when I recover from my cold). When I opened the door I found the vine leaves speaking among themselves in abundant whispers.       My presence made them hush their green breath, embarrassed, the way humans stand up, buttoning their jackets, acting as if they were leaving anyway, as if the conversation had ended just before you arrived.             I liked...

An Experiment in Found Poetry

I decided to try something different this month in honor of the new moon and this time between eclipses. I like the idea of found poetry: taking random words or phrases from various sources (newspapers, magazines, advertisements, signs, books) and reassembling them to see if something meaningful emerges. A collage of words. Similar to the magnetic poetry craze years ago, except word choices are wider because they can come from anywhere. And it feels especially appropriate right now to break things up and put them back together in new ways. Astrologers have been saying that we are in a period where what is not working in our lives and in our society can more easily be seen, inviting us to clear out the deadwood. Because life is making us aware of them, we can more easily heal old wounds, rewrite old stories about who we are, and toss old habits and relationships that no longer serve us. Definitely uncomfortable in the short run, but ultimately life-affirming. (A lot of this has been happening in my life recently, and certainly rotting, useless systems have been exposed over the past year on the national and international scene; let’s hope as individuals, and as a society and world community we can clear the toxins and support life in earnest.) So I went to my stack of magazines, cut out words and phrases that jumped out at me, and had great fun playing around with various combinations. In fact, like creating six word memoirs (my blog post on this) it was hard to stop. You can make the poems as elaborate and arty as...