Saturday, August 27, 2011

A poetic experiment......

Now I know why I've never written poetry.

It hurts, similar to bleeding all over the screen as you write. (I used to write on actual paper, but those days are gone for the most part. Now, I have to bleed horizontally as I type.) 

And you can't hide when you write poetry.

Some time during this past year, I decided that I was going to write in a way that more accurately echoes my real personality, which can be pretty funny, if I do say so myself. The thing that makes that even....well, that I don't LOOK like a person who has a wicked sense of humor. Students used to tell me, when they finally realized it was safe to do so, that I scared them silly when they first walked into my classroom.

I've had men tell me that I scared them at first, but I won't go into detail on that. And most of them never made it past the "at first" part at all. They never experienced having a highly provocative or ironic statement come out of a perfectly straight, rather dour looking face. (I do have a lot of fun with that, I admit.)

So, when I know you well enough to unleash my inner comedian, I'm told it can be quite a shock, whether it is in person or via my keyboard. In any case, I decided to allow that little guy out more often, and from the feedback I've gotten, you all are enjoying it as much as I do.  As we get older, we care less about what others think of us anyway.

And then I made the statement last week that I was going to attempt to write poetry as my August "thing I've never done before."

Wish I hadn't done that.

I thought I could just keep going on that track of entertaining you as I simply expressed myself in a genre that is new to me. wrong.

Julia Cameron, one of the premiere writing gurus around, believes that "the work" is out there, floating around in the ether, and it channels on down to one of us creative types for its birth. We are merely the vehicles through which a poem, or a novel, or an essay, or some other piece of work will be given voice. (By the way, she says if we don't answer the knock when it comes, that piece of work wanders off to find another more willing artist or that it dies......not to put too much pressure on us or anything.)

So, here I was earlier this week, fingers on the keyboard hoping to put my cute spin on some topic in the form of poetry, like I foolishly told all of you that I would.

I sat. I thought. I checked my Facebook page. I put on different music. I even tried silence, which drives me crazy when I'm working. And what came was......nothing. I did write a line or two from my head, but what I'm realizing is that poetry doesn't come from the intellect. It comes from the heart, from the gut, from that place inside that we hide from others and sometimes even from ourselves. So the line sat there, staring at me from the screen where I had abandoned it, the cursor blinking, blinking........blinking..... at me.

I realized I was going to have to evacuate my head and dig into my soul, tapping into my emotional base, a place that I haven't needed to go in quite a while to do the work I have been doing. Interesting. Disturbing......

I took my hands away from the keyboard. I waited. I could feel something rise in me, and it took self control not to tamp it down, down there where it wouldn't need to be tended or even acknowledged.

Well, the work showed up, and there is no humor in it, as you will see. At all. I even tried again today, thinking I could fool the universe into letting me write something comical in free verse. Nope. It was just more of the same.

I started typing, not having any idea what was going to splash across the screen. When I was done, I read what was there, amazed. Laid bare by a knife masquerading as words. And according to Julia, the words came through me, not from me. But I'm not sure I accept that concept any longer, not after this experience. This work is personal, ripping the facade away and exposing the author like a book with its dustcover removed for all to see. It couldn't have come from anyone BUT me....could it?

So, I guess I can't put this off any longer. Be kind, and I promise that next month I'll do something that doesn't involve tapping into my psyche at all. And I hope Julia and "the work" are both happy now, happy that a voice was found.

Because it sure ruined MY day.

They say that we live what we were taught,
old habits dying hard,
     if they ever die at all.
A gentle touch or a glance that slices deep,
     both speak volumes to the heart
And echo through the soul,
     pulling us back to all we should have left behind.

Is that why loneliness snuggles up so easily next to me,
     the wayward friend that keeps returning home?


Dawn chased away my dream,
The one where we could be together.
The one where we could love.
It poured out between us, like sun drops
     flowing across water.
My reverie chased away the loneliness,
the unfilled void that devours me....
     unless I'm dreaming
     of you.

Where the heck did THAT come from?  I think I'll go crawl under the covers now.

Monday, August 22, 2011

It's time for "something I've never done before".........

Let's see.....

I hookahed in January.

Did a spinning class in February.

Drove my dream car in March.

Went to take ONE dance lesson in April, which led to an obsession with ballroom dancing that continues.

Tiled my kitchen backsplash in May.

Went to a psychic in June.

And took a piano lesson in July.

Worthy activities, and yes, a lot of fun. (Well, maybe not the tiling.....)

That brings me to this month's "thing I've never done before," the continuation of my year of stretching my wings and re-learning how to have fun. (If you are new to this adventure, go to to begin the saga.) 

A funny thing has happened to me along the way, I've noticed. Well, a lot of funny things have occured during this year, which is part of the process, I think. But I noticed this month that I am routinely doing new things without even thinking about them in the context of my intentional adventure.

For example, I went out dancing ON PURPOSE early in the month, and I never even thought about using that as my event for August. If you know me, you understand that dancing has been a difficult thing for me. So, for me to accompany my dance instructor and some of his other students one evening to a place where dancing is the reason people show up....well, you know what a big thing that was. But it didn't occur to me to mention it, which speaks volumes about my new mental attitude. And I had a great time, thank you for asking.

What to do for August? I've sought suggestions from others, I've consulted the list I've been keeping in my trusty spiral notebook. Ride on a motorcycle? Sing karaoke? Rock climb? I hadn't decided yet.

Until today. And it hasn't been on any list to date. Go figure. But here goes.

For all the genres of writing that I have tried over the years, I have never written poetry. I knew better than to try to rhyme anything. Somehow I knew that would turn into an exercise in hilarity, both in topic and effort and maybe couldn't even be shared in polite company. So, I looked up "free verse," and Wikepedia told me to go ahead....give it a try. No rules to abide by, which suits me just fine these days. thought I was going to share it with you?  Not isn't the 28th, which is the witching day for my monthly adventure. I'm working on it, though, and you'll be the first to know when I'm done. I guess we can just be thankful I'm not attempting limericks.

Poetry is a packsack of invisible keepsakes. ~Carl Sandburg

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Driving into the sunset.....

Traveling takes on a different perspective as we age. Some people sell their homes, buy huge RVs, and hit the road. Some become cruise kings and queens, sailing dozens of times every year. And, let's face it, many people today can't afford to go anywhere.

But for me, the main thing to know is that I don't fly any more. It's not that I'm afraid to fly, which makes my reasoning not quite logical, but it won't be the first (or last) time people look at me with that quizzical, sideways squint that means "This chick is a little crazy, right?"

It's that flying is boring and way too much hassle these days. Heightened security, tiny seats, no food, overpriced drinks, the fact that everyone is's all just too much for me at this point in my life. Throw in the chance that you might sit in a closed airplane, on the ground, for hours before you even take off, and I'm just not willing to face it. We have become pawns in the grinding gears of bureaucracy in far too many arenas as it is....I don't need this one, too.

What this means, of course, is that I drive everywhere I need to go. (So far that hasn't meant motoring to California or other such distant locales.....I'll think about that if it happens.) I plot my route on my GPS and on the Internet, try to make sure my atlas is in my car, get my music and books on CD ready, and off I go. I enjoy actually seeing where I'm going and the freedom to stop whenever I want to. Someday I'm going to get in my car and just drive, with no idea where I'm going. Just to see where I end up.

Yes, I know that this means the whole process takes much longer, and therein lies the lack of logic, considering flying is a mere inconvenience to me and not a fear. I have no defense; it's just the way it is.

And to add more illogic to the scenario,  I have to admit that my stamina for travel is less these days. Like today.....I am sitting in a hotel room not more than 10 minutes from the Gulf of Mexico, but I've been too tired to get myself there. I can practically smell the salt in the air, but this bed is soft and comfy, and my room has a balcony that allows me to watch the sunset through the palm trees outside. Maybe I wouldn't have been so tired if I had just flown here, boredom be damned.

My days of "Got to get up and DO something!" are long gone, too. Hotel rooms have become much more comfortable, I think, with pillow top mattresses, a real desk with wireless Internet, sofas and coffee tables, and happy hour in the bar. Sure, I would like to get over to the beach, but I'm pretty comfortable where I am, too. Maybe I can live here.

So many things change as we age, and I've found that traveling is one that has changed the most for me. No more airplanes, hitting the road instead, and the willingness to just sit and enjoy wherever it is I find myself. Doesn't sound too bad, does it?

I feel about airplanes the way I feel about diets. It seems to me that they are wonderful things for other people to go on. 
~Jean Kerr, "Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall," The Snake Has All the Lines, 1958

Saturday, August 13, 2011

After all, tomorrow is another day.....

Scarlett and I have much in common. Well, maybe I've never had to dig in the dirt to grow my food at my daddy's plantation, or rip the green velvet curtains off the windows to make a dress, or even shoot a leering soldier that broke into the family mansion, but she and I grapple with life on our own terms in some very similar ways.

Those of you who know me can probably pinpoint the first time I repeated Scarlett's famous line in your presence: "I'll think about that tomorrow!"  We all laugh, but maybe some people think I can't deal with reality, choosing instead to swerve and avoid it when it suits me to do so. Think what you will, but as I've maneuvered my way from my 20s to where I am now, I've learned to accept the wisdom in that philosophy. As a matter of fact, it has saved me many times......saved me from acting impetuously in ways that might have hurt me or others, from uttering damaging words that could never be called back, or from wasting valuable time. I think those words and their guidance have also allowed me to toss a lot of worry into the trashcan. On the spot.

What a gift.

Dredge up the last time YOU fell prey to the worry cycle. Did you toss and turn all night, dreading what might come the next day due to the situation you were wallowing in, only to lose a night of valuable sleep to find that the very thing you thought might happen never happened at all? Or you made a decision quickly based on the information you had at the time, only to find out the next day how incomplete that information actually was. (I can recall a marriage that happened for me that way, flying to Reno, something about roulette.....but I digress.)  Hopefully the results for you weren't too dire, but I have made some really bad decisions because I acted too quickly, spoke too soon.

Now, I channel Scarlett frequently, she and I meeting green eyes to green eyes as she stands tall and utters the words that pull me back from the brink of disaster more than I probably will ever know. I trust her, that strong Southern woman who was, admittedly, a tad self-involved, but she had a backbone of steel.

True, she didn't know much about birthin' babies, but give a lady a break......we all have our limits. And hopefully, as we age, we learn who we can trust and what is worth worrying about.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

No, I don't want to do that......

"No.....I don't want to do that."

Sounds simple, right?  But for people-pleasers, like I once was, they are some of the hardest words to say, believe me.

No matter that I already had a full calendar on that day, if somone (anyone) indicated that they wanted me to do something, I would scramble, I would rearrange, I would inconvenience others to accomodate this latest request. The result? One person was happy, most of my friends were mad at me for changing the "yeses" I had told them the day before, and I was miserable doing things I didn't want to do.

But one of the beautiful things about getting older is that we can throw off that heavy cloak of accomodation. We probably get away with it due to society's tendency to think we don't matter anyway, so who cares if we show up or not? I hate to think that, but another thing that happens as we travel this road is that we lose our rose-colored glasses. Actually, we probably just forget where we left them.

Go to the outlet mall in Georgia? Don't think so.....riding on a bus and then tottering around with a group of hard of hearing women doesn't quite match my version of a "fun" day.  Sorry, I don't want to.

Watch your dog while you're out of town?  Last time I did that the dog refused to go out into my fenced in back yard because the grass was over 1/2 inch long. Sorry...find a kennel for your darling. I don't want to do that.

Babysit for your grandkids so you can go to the movies with your daughter? Nope....don't want to do that.  The only babysitting around here will happen when I have my own grandkids, which hasn't happened yet.

The ability to say NO with no excuses is a gift to us as we age. The people around us probably aren't having as much fun with it as we are, I realize, but they don't expect much from us anyway, remember? We're OLD.

But at least I am not pushing a stroller with your grandkids and a dog at the Georgia.

“Don't worry about growing older or pleasing others. Please yourself.”

David Brown

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Dancing fool, part 3

A simple spin, that's all he was asking me to do. Of course, my arms are going one way while my head is supposed to be keeping me focused on a spot in the corner. All of that while I'm pivoting half-way around......without falling over, that is.

You do know about my coordination issue, right?

What is wrong with me? I can stand at a podium and talk to an audience of hundreds for hours. I mediate between some very angry people, and no one has gotten out of control yet. I can write 500 words in about 15 minutes, and it sounds coherent most of the time. In other words, my skill set is pretty well developed at this point in my life.

I've gotten complacent. Self-satisfied. Competent in my chosen profession. So, I experience quite a lot of  success and don't often have anyone tell me that what I'm doing is lacking in some way.

Until he asks me to spin without falling over. Even gently and with a lot of patience.

So, today when he said, "It doesn't have to be perfect," the room lit up. I DON'T have to be perfect at everything I do?? Even though I'm a driven Capricorn who is never without lipstick or every hair in place? For real??

 Imperfect humans are allowed to practice dancing. No wonder I love this so much.

Sometimes we strive so hard for perfection that we forget that imperfection is happiness.
Karen Nave