Just Be

New story like old,
Not seen, not heard, why be here?
No reason, really.

No meaning, ok,
Just a life like little ants,
Carrying our load.

But the ants do good,
Even when they just move earth,
They aerate the soil.

As they live, they give,
Not their goal but just the facts,
Some will crush them, dead!

Such is life today,
Just by staying here, breathing,
As I live, I give.

I do not know how,
But it’s not my job to know,
Just to live in now.

Good! I like to know,
That there is a purpose here,
I can just sail through.

That is good to know,
Pressure gone, just be an ant,
Do your thing, you’re good.

Breathe Deeply In Of Life

It is the first day of a two-month Natalie Goldberg online class, The Way of Writing: Opening the Practice of the Wild Mind, offered by Shambala Publications.

The writing practices of Natalie Goldberg have changed my life on several occasions. My brother, Dave, a fine writer himself, gave me a copy of Natalie’s book, Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within, shortly after it came out in paperback, 1986? I have always loved writing, but I didn’t think he had noticed!

In the mid-90’s I was part of a magical writing group of women in Marin County, north of San Francisco. My memory is that we met every week for five years, but memories can be foggy. What is accurate is that that writing group was one of the most important chapters in my life, let alone my writing life. As suggested in a Natalie Goldberg book, we each wrote for 10 minutes on the same topic. We each then read what we had written with no comment, negative or positive.

What an incredible safety that provided. We seven or eight women became deeply bonded. We began to trust one another as well as ourselves. It was really not about the writing; it was about the inner lives and personal growth of a group of then 40-50-year-old professional women. Did I mention we were mostly lesbians? Living as a minority is hard for anyone, most especially Black, Latinex, Asian American women, but it was also an often painful struggle for women who grew up in the 50’s when it was still criminal to be gay.

Which brings me back to today, nearing the end (I hope!) of a life-altering pandemic, writing for the first time with Natalie. I am shocked to find there are more than 2000 other people in the class, across this country as well as in other parts of the world. But as we have had to adapt to so many changes in these challenging times, I am sure that there will be great life lessons as well as great writing pleasure and insight.


Beauty Out There Lies

From a Forgotten Post, Spring, 2019

Patterns of the light
Filter through the leafy green
Beauty out there lies.

Deep within I find,
Peace as well which dwells within
Hiding in the dark.

Feel the gratitude,
Let go worries, dark concerns
Open to the light.

Such is also truth,
Letting sun rise, seeing dawn,
All is not the night.

In this day of spring,
Passing light show gives me joy,
Let it shine within.

When the darkness grabs,
Slip away, just let it go
Heaven is still here.

Babies birth this day,
Someone dies but someone’s born,
Always is it so.

Hold your whole self close,
Loving weakness with the strength,
All belongs to you.

Joining hands we know,
In our circle love breaks through,
Shining through us all.

Do not go alone,
Many need your heart as well
Walking in this life.

Hold Friends as a Gift

This morning I awaken with thoughts of an old friend who is no longer in contact. I knew her since earliest adulthood, at 18. She knew my birth family and was part of my chosen family.

She walked with me in the shadows and laughed with me in the sun. She knew my deepest canyons and my highest peaks.

Opening the laptop, the morning photo was an aerial view of an apple tree in bloom, with a spectacular feathery shadow spreading out over green fields.

I could not find that photo, just as I cannot find that friend. Sometimes we are meant to diverge here in this life.

So I remember the lessons of being a friend to myself, honoring myself both in the strong tree growing and blooming that I am, and the shadow of fear, not enough, doubt that I also am.

It is a time to not just embrace the power of the tree, growing gracefully year after year, despite all, but also the majesty of the shadow which arises in the brightest sun.

I am grateful for changes, for accidents (although there are none), for dear friends, for all the gifts of grace now and forever.

Memories, Hope

For some reason I awaken thinking of the song “White Cliffs of Dover,” without knowing why.  I didn’t even remember the words, of course, just the melody and “white cliffs of Dover.”

Did Nat Turner, American who wrote the lyrics, know there are no bluebirds in England, or did he mean the blue-undercoating of the British fighter planes? Who was he and why is there no information about him?

I must have heard that song many times in my childhood, perhaps Glenn Miller’s version, the Vera Lynn version. Reminded me that Dad watched all the Victory at Sea episodes. – were they shown Sunday afternoons? I look it up — yes, began Sunday afternoons October 26, 1952 with “timeless film, soaring music.”

During this pandemic when we think it is so difficult, it reminds me of my parents as young people living through an unspeakable Depression, then WWII where they lost brothers, husbands, women mostly at home (but not all!) going to work, living back with family, food deprivation, gas rations, not knowing if or when it would ever end,

As children in the 50’s we could not imagine the horrors our parents had lived through. We could listen to big band music and Rodgers & Hammerstein musicals, enjoy the new invention of television, be part of all the other young families trying to begin new lives after the war.

Today I give thanks,
For all the music I heard,
For love and new hope.

Dad was a great one,
Humble but still looking up,
Even in his grief.

How grateful am I,
For the parents I loved so,
For all they gave us.

Welcome It All

The new story, which is also the old story, is that I have received immense blessings. Even if I feel confused or stymied or unhappy in a moment, the blessings of a lifetime endure.

Janice is fond of saying “Go smaller to go bigger.” That resonates particularly when thinking of a next step. My fantasies race beyond me to huge galaxies of thought and ideas, enormous schemes and plans.

But then I am exhausted and feel tiny, not enough. So I can focus on the small, right where I am. I can focus within, giving thanks, listening, welcoming the stooped, humpbacked widow in gray winter coat.

When I allow the rest to fall away, there is no pressure, there is no need to know the future. Just welcome whatever comes. I suddenly had an image of that stooped, humpbacked widow throwing off her gray, winter coat, discarding her wig and fake humpback, turning into a good witch who flies away cackling but sprinkling fairy dust all over me. Mixed metaphors, but you can’t regulate visions.

Life is full of surprise, delight and miracles. You never know what will happen when you stay alive, alert, awake, enthusiastic.

What Works?

What is working now?
Breathing deeply, giving thanks,
Knowing who I am.

Who is that? I say,
“I” who knows I’m one with God,
Always with me now.

That is always true,
As a baby, growing up,
Now the crone knows it.

Took me long enough!
Better late than never, yes,
Still a young elder.

What works now is truth,
Knowing lenses will distort,
Peering more within.

Inside Spirit lives,
Outside too, but not so close,
My truth lies within.

Poetry and song,
Music to a beating heart,
Feeding me with hope.

Doubt creeps back in me,
But I shun it, claim the light,
Cycles of the day.

Fed by sky and sea,
Nature in the mountains high,
Valleys in the sun.

Though I walk alone,
Spirit always shines in me,
Lighting up the way.

Love the doubt today,
Give it space, do not resist,
It will fade away.

What resists persists,
As I’ve heard so often now,
Feel it, then let go.

I let go the fear,
Not enough, not smart enough,
I have value too.

Fear can go, thank you,
Bless you, dear, now do be gone,
I have truth to see


Learning to Live With Endings

I did not know that the word lost would be what I would search for in SunCatcher today, and that Celebrate Endings would be what I chose.

I think I have been too afraid to admit that my time so closely connected to a cherished relationship is ending. Not the relationship itself, but its form.

But I resonate with my own words, to feel the grief, mourn what is lost, then let go of night
to allow the sun to rise on a new day.

And “If we cling too hard to the darkness, it will seem to extend forever, keeping our eyes wet with tears, sinking all spirit, all hope.” 

I am grateful that each line of this poem, written years ago, reminds me change is inevitable, letting go of attachment leads to new discoveries, and by accepting the wisdom of uncertainty, we are safe in a Universe which itself changes day by day.

Be Still and Listen

I continue my commitment to telling the new story.

I breathe. I am still. I listen. Serenity I hear.

I read my own poems from SunCatcher. Several are full of the serenity of being alone in Nature.

But I realize what I really crave is the serenity found in the AA Serenity Prayer.

Wow. Even the origin of this prayer is disputed, whether from Reinhold Niebuhr or – the one I would like to believe of course – was written by a woman. No matter. It exists beyond all of them.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.

Today I know that I feel healthy, grateful for my life and the multitude of blessings, pain in my legs and hips which I hope is from sitting for days on end, and joy from knowing that such things as poetry and spiritual wisdom can bring me home.

How, Then, Shall I Live?

Write the new story.

What a gorgeous day!
Focus on what brings you joy,
Let the rest be gone.

Grateful, yes, am I,
for the mem’ries of the past,
and tomorrow’s gifts.

But today must be,
Where I focus all of me,
Breathing still am I.

Blinds are still shut tight,
Shielding blinding rays of sun,
Must it really be?

No! I open blinds,
Only now to see the sky,
Bright and blue above.

Oops, I had it right,
Sometimes too much sun can blind,
How could this then be?