What is Saving Your Life?

I’m not very good at listening to “weekly” podcasts. Instead I get in the mood and listen to like 4 episodes in a row. And then I won’t listen again for a few weeks.

One of the podcasts I listen to is “For the Love” by Jen Hatmaker, a spiritual/religious author. At the end of each podcast, she asks her guest a question that she stole from another religious author, Barbara Brown Taylor:

“What is saving your life right now?”

That’s a pretty good question.

This is an important question because I’m wearing down a little. To be perfectly honest, I was thriving at the beginning of quarantine. The sudden free time, the lack of commitments, the time to rest and catch my breath, it was all needed. I was tired, and quarantine was a relief.

But now I want to get out. What USUALLY saves my life is a live play, an orchestral concert, a ballet, a trip to the library, visiting local shops, grabbing coffee, trying new restaurants, going to museums, taking day trips, singing in choir. These are the things I rely on to save me when I’m worn out; now they can’t save me because we’re stuck inside away from everyone and everything.

So, this question has become a challenge, because my answer is different.

What is saving my life right now?

Reading on the front porch and watching the bunnies and deer eat.

The new Michelle Obama podcast. https://open.spotify.com/show/71mvGXupfKcmO6jlmOJQTP

Rewatching Jane the Virgin.

Horror movies.

Cooking good food and trying new recipes.

Christmas music.

Going to parks and taking pictures.

Streaming the local UU church on Sundays.

Anything Dolly Parton says or does, especially her pandemic song, “When Life is Good Again.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MejIAGuaiNM

These are normal, average every day things that aren’t specific to the pandemic. But it’s what I have at my disposal. I have get to draw my peace from this smaller, simpler list. I appreciate these little gifts that offer me a little peace and joy. I also know it is an immense privilege to have all of these comforts to indulge in, even if these are hard times. I am grateful. I want to take this lesson with me when “life is good again.”

Shifting Times

I hope everyone enjoyed the poetry series I posted over the last few weeks. I will do more in the future. This week I am back to blogging and sharing my personal thoughts.

I think it’s hitting now that we are in July that “normal” isn’t coming back any time soon. And even when the worst of this passes and medicine catches up to help us, “normal” won’t be what it once was.

Oddly, I feel very open and welcoming of this. Of course, my hope is that we as a society progress when it comes to matters of race, immigration, LGBTQ+ rights, healthcare, and income equality. I believe that this pandemic is showing us that there has been an illness infecting and rotting us to the very core when it comes to how we have been “functioning” as a society. So I am open to whatever positive change comes from the exposure of our collapsing economy and social inequality.

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But my personal upheaval began back in 2018 when my career and faith began being challenged. I have been unsettled and transitioning for almost 2 years now, so this pandemic probably hasn’t thrown my life out of whack like it has for millions (billions?) of others. I have had a head start on being accustomed to uncertainty, sudden change, suffering, and being lost.

That being said, I believe that this weird time when many of us are cancelling plans and staying home more has actually led to an inner quietness to settle inside of me.

I have been scared, nervous, and exhausted by the pandemic. I want to sing in choir, go to plays and concerts, travel, go to the beach, go to cities, visit museums, go to church, go eat at restaurants, and even go to the grocery store. I am sick of this, I am scared of this.

But I have had time to mourn the suffering I experienced from my more recent traumas. I have had time to write and create art from that pain. I have had time to be someone who has been seeking and searching spiritually. I have had time to transform and grow in ways I may not have if I hadn’t had this time. Being used to uncertainty has helped me make use of this weird, scary experience because the rug had already been pulled out from under me before the pandemic could do it.

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I am finally cultivating some peace. I am finally healing. I am finally moving forward. Something inside me has finally shifted to a place where I am emotionally, mentally, and spiritually healthier than I have been in 2 years. And for that I am grateful.

Let us remain cautious and wary. This illness is terrifying. Let us take care of others. Please wear a mask. Protect your family and your community. Be good to others. Do no harm. Maybe if we all have a shift within ourselves personally, we can have a greater shift in the world around us.

Sunlight (A poem)

This is my final poetry installment for this series. I will definitely have more to come in the future! Also, a third poem entitled “Chiseled” has been published in In Parentheses Magazine, which can bought here https://www.magcloud.com/browse/issue/1812064

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com
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SUNLIGHT

Sunburst stretches over the mountain tops

To enliven the sleepy land.

Sunflowers pop open to greet the clouds

And to tower over the field.

Sunbathers nourish the body 

With vitamins and fresh air.

Sunbaked earth cracks open

To receive the rain that is promised to arrive.

Sunset cools over to give permission

That all may rest.

Footprints (A poem)

My poem entitled, “Frame” appears in this anthology by Bards Against Hunger. Proceeds got to local food banks! This week I have another horror poem for you to enjoy. https://www.bardsagainsthunger.com/bards-against-hunger-nc-preorders1.html?fbclid=IwAR16MDOHNzaaMefihJEojbeYcMplVblW8-6pmJcnOMTF2lmEYP-6Ma0Q7Y8

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FOOTPRINTS

Early this morning after a troubled sleep,

Through my blurry eyes

I thought I saw footprints coming down my driveway

And stopping at the porch.

I rubbed away the gunk,

Clearing up my vision,

And the footprints were gone.

Even earlier this morning 

I got out of bed

Giving up on trying to get anymore sleep,

And I opened the door

To the sunrise revealing footprints

Leading up my porch

And stopping at the front door.

When I stepped out to examine them

They faded away. 

Early this morning,

While it was still dark

And the birds were yet to awaken and sing,

I thought I heard footsteps 

Just outside of my room.

I sat bolt upright, 

Slid silently out of bed,

And got down on all fours to peek 

Under the crack of my door.

Footprints.

I yanked open the door,

And they had vanished.

Early this morning

In the wee hours,

After no sleep at all,

I heard slow creaking footsteps inside my room.

I slowly turned my head across my pillow

To see the moonlight illuminate

The footprints that stopped 

Directly beside my head.

These footprints were not disappearing.

Navigating (A Poem)

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NAVIGATING

Are you trying to find your way?

Me too.

Here’s what I’ve learned.

Listen for the secrets 

Whispered through the trees,

For they lead to paths of life;

But do not listen to the secrets of spiders

Because they are full of venom

And deception.

Crows squawk exaggerated tales,

But don’t dismiss them,

Because nuggets of truth are buried inside.

You might find a clue 

Under the moss-slick rocks.

Overturn a few, 

But there are no guarantees

So don’t waste too much time with them.

Finally, the frogs will sing for you

Just when you are about to give up.

Follow their tune home.

I’ll see you there.

Hanging Painting (A poem)

I write a wide variety of poetry. I have written love poetry and haikus, but those are rare. Often I work out my painful experiences through poetry, or confusing and frustrating thoughts. Nature is a big inspiration for me. But then there are my favorites: I love fantasy, and I love horror. This poem is a horror-inspired piece.

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HANGING PAINTING

Don’t look now,

But that painting is staring right at you.

I know what you’re thinking,

Isn’t that what paintings do,

Stare?

In one fixed direction, yes.

But that menacing glare has tracked 

Every footstep you’ve taken

Around this room.

That enraged face

With bared teeth 

And deeply etched brow

Has only intensified 

From the moment you’ve walked in.

No, don’t look!

That’s what he wants.

If you give him your attention

You’ll be giving him life,

And then who knows what he is capable of.

Wait, who locked the door?

I didn’t.

Did you?

Fresh Baked Bread (A poem)

Hello everyone! I have pre-order information on my first published poem, “Hush.” My poem is featured in the Charlotte Poetry Review and can be ordered here: https://www.localgemspoetrypress.com/north-carolina-bards-charlotte-preorders.html?fbclid=IwAR3W3C-dRI3unuY2F5ay2B6zcCXMwoJNIYIpTjfN5XKGNAKWO5Ug1PcVJMc

Please enjoy this poem for free!

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FRESH BAKED BREAD

Humming and kneading,

Rocking and sighing,

Rising and waiting.

I sift my discontent in the flour,

I pound my pain into the dough,

I sit silently, 

wrestle inwardly,

And let the baking heat flash over me.

Then everything cools.

I butter the bread

And I’m well fed.

With a full stomach,

And plenty leftover,

I am soothed.

Ours (A Poem)

Great news! I have proofed my poems for the NC Bards anthology and the Bards Against Hunger chapbook, and they will be available soon. I will be sure to post links here if you’re interested in purchasing them. There is a lot of great work from other poets in these collections, so you would be getting diverse poetry from numerous talents. Also, the proceeds from Bards Against Hunger go to local food banks in North Carolina.

I don’t usually do “love poems” because very few people can pull them off without being sappy. But it’s mine and my husband’s 7th wedding anniversary today, so I’m giving it a go.

Here is this week’s poem:

OURS

Your sacred soul

And my holy heart

Breathe defiant life

In this bitter, brittle tundra.

Our hands interweave to hold

A warmth that shames

The ice that creeps away

To hidden corners.

Nothing dare touch us

In our infinite divine.

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Weekly Poems

I have been writing poetry since I was a little girl. I won prizes for my poetry and did public readings of them. I didn’t write as much in college and in grad school. But last year I started writing poetry again, and this year I started submitting poems to be published.

I want to get my poems out there to be read, and I have two poems being published soon! Both by NC Bards, one in an anthology and one in a chapbook. When those are available I will post links to them.

As I gain experience in my poetry publishing, I want to share some on my blog too. So I have decided to write poems to share on here each week. I mean, who is going to read my poetry unless I go ahead and share my art with everyone?

Here’s the first one for you to enjoy:

Eve Out of Eden: A Haiku

Yes, I ate the fruit.

But who are you to judge me?

This was not your choice.

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Don’t Pass Up The Moment

I know, this year is pretty awful. I have found myself wanting to hit fast forward to maybe a better life in 2021. For me, personally, life has been kind of rough since late 2018. Maybe you’re like me and you’re wondering, “Is it always going to be this hard? Is life just a struggle to keep your head above the water?”

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I am hoping that help comes soon for those who are struggling financially or suffering with illness.

But for the other hard things that we are experiencing, we can learn and we can be better. It is our privilege that makes us want to avert our eyes until the storm passes. It is time, past time, that we use our privilege to lift others up and dismantle the evils of inequality embedded in our society.

Who do you want to be a year from now? What do we want our nation to look like? What do we want the world to look like? We have an opportunity to change it all, if we want to.

When it comes to quarantine, we can really grasp onto ideas of work-life balance, self-care, our work culture, our educational system, our economic system, climate change, and how all of the ways we have been functioning in the world have been hurting us. We can take this moment to fix our broken systems and mold how the future will look for us.

When it comes to the protests against racism, we have an opportunity to take a long look in the mirror and work on being better, loving, and justice seeking people. We have an opportunity to open our hearts to other people in a way that is truly about love, sacrifice, equality, and peacemaking. What we have been doing hasn’t been working. It has been killing. We have the tools to change it all.

Don’t wish away the year; this is a moment in time that requires our attention, and we cannot pass it up. All the time we have is precious. Instead, take this pivotal moment in a pandemic, in a time of protest for racial equality, in an election year, in an economic recession, to learn, grow, and act. If we latch onto the movement that’s happening right in front of us we may look back a year from now and be proud of how we used the opportunity that we were given.