You Are A Child of the Universe

My twenty-year-old daughter just left for the airport to return to school in Portland, Oregon. We shared the most magical Thanksgiving weekend. In a short seventy-two hours we crammed in lots of FUN including Black Friday shopping, Christmas tree decorating, hiking, swimming, the annual Christmas family photo shoot in the desert, baking cookies, and watching movies. We even roasted marshmallows and made s’mores – all while spending quality time catching up on our very full lives.

“But wait, I’m not ready for you to leave,” I whispered to myself as she and my husband pulled out of the driveway towards the Phoenix airport. “There was so much more I had to say.”

There’s so much more to tell our kids, right?  All the advice and the suggestions and the ideas we parents believe is so incredibly important to impart on our children. We know so much more then they do, right? Then I was reminded of this poem I memorized when I was her age so many years ago. At the time I thought it explained my entire life. It empowered me to pursue my dreams and take responsibility for my life. Isn’t that really all we want for our kids? It was written in 1926 by an Illinois lawyer and recorded by Les Crane. Right now, when I can think of a million things I would like to say, pearls of wisdom I believe she needs to hear, I read this poem and think, “This said it all to me back in the 70’s, maybe, just maybe this is all she needs to hear now in 2014.”

Desiderata – by Max Ehrman

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others,
even to the dull and ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter,
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs,
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals,
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

To hear the original version go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PNq_DTmVCWs

The Invitation

My dear friend Christine invited me to join her monthly writing group after I moved to Arizona close to where Christine and her husband moved nine years ago. After my first meeting with this insightful group of writers, I knew I had to write about THEM and what their small group had done for me. Need support in getting back to your writing? Find or create a group of supportive writers and set your muse free.

The Invitation

She said that I could join her friends
And they would welcome me into their fold;
She said I should try it out
Just come, read what you wrote, be bold.

I trusted her so come I did
To the place these women gather;
And I was welcomed as she said
And given a gift that mattered.

It wasn’t just the invitation
The chance to share my story;
It was openness, authenticity, pure acceptance
In all its finest glory.

These are women I want to know
For their families they are “truth telling”;
Stories raw with vulnerability leaving
Tearful eyes sometimes swelling.

The invitation turned into gold
What I saw in these women was ME;
We just want to tell our life stories
Of the joys, the sorrows, the entire journey.

This invitation was such a gift
No more writer’s block for me;
I found acceptance and so much support
My muse has been set free.

Hallelujah

HallelujahAs a tribute to my Writing Class and Julaina Kleist-Corwin, our exceptional teacher and mentor, I performed my personal rendition of the old Leonard Cohen song “Hallelujah” today. When I decided to take up writing 18 months ago and discovered this insightful class of accomplished novelists, essayists, poets and yes, even musicians (that’s fellow writer Carl Gamez backing me up), I knew I had a lot to learn about the craft of writing. In the last year-and-a-half, the most important thing I’ve learned, my true “Aha Moment” or “Hallelujah,” is that writing is just plain hard work – and it is best to surround yourself with talented, supportive and disciplined masters of the craft. Today was my last class with these amazing writers since I’m moving out-of-state, but I will never forget my time well spent with  Julaina and her Monday Morning Muses.

Hallelujah, by Leonard Cohen
Lyrics revised by Carole MacLean

They say there was a secret chord
That we can play and please the Lord
That sounds just like the craft we all call writing
Sign up for class and what a gift
For minor cost but major lift with
Julaina and her Monday Morning Muses
Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah

If your faith is strong and you want the proof
Just come to class and she’ll give to you
All you need to keep your pen aflowin’
Through hero’s journey and archetypes
Hand in the homework and you’ll be psyched
To move past fear and face your dream of writing
Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah

Well now I know that writing’s tough
And to come to class when it gets rough
It’s here I find support in fellow writers
Don’t walk the dog and make it fresh
Build the tension but don’t digress
Julaina shares her wisdom and her passion
Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah

Baby we’ve been here before
We’ve seen this room, we’ve walked this floor
With POVs, antagonists, and mentors
Critiquing where the plot should arc
But writing’s not a victory march
It’s a cold and it’s a broken hallelujah
Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah

Well maybe there’s a God above
But what I’ve learned is you gotta love
The craft of writing so the work goes through ya
It’s not a cry you hear at night
It’s not someone who’s seen the light
It’s a cold and it’s a broken hallelujah
Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah

And now it’s time to say good-bye
I hope that I won’t start to cry
As I thank you all for that which you have taught me.
You made me better in many ways
I’m so grateful for the many days
With Julaina and her Monday Morning Muses.
Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah

For more info about Julaina Kleist go to http://timetowritenow.com/

Good Conduct Medal

Good Conduct MedalI just returned from a Memorial Day Celebration at the local Senior Center where my husband played in the Community Band. While my daughter and I and a few hundred others observed a two-hour program, we all paid tribute to this country’s fallen soldiers. My Dad, who died in March 2011, served in WWII and as I browsed through the photo album of his life, I came upon his Good Conduct Medal. I wrote this poem for him.

Good Conduct Medal

On this day we salute all those
Who fought for life and liberty,
The men and women who gave their lives,
So we could all be free.

We give our thanks and pay respect
To those who sacrificed,
To protect and serve with much bravery
And who paid the ultimate price.

My Dad was one of many men
And women who endured,
The darkness that these battles bring,
More pain than one deserves.

He served his country three long years;
He saw first-hand that war
Can sever limbs and cause despair,
Then close all open doors.

Unlike those this day pays tribute
My Dad came home again,
To live the life for some a dream
To be free and American.

If I could say but one more thing
To the man that raised me well;
“Dad, as a soldier, father, and a friend
You deserve that Good Conduct Medal.”

Savy Saguaro

Savy SaguaroMy husband and I are moving from California to Arizona this fall. We just returned from a few days in Scottsdale to look at rental properties.  The first day we arrived in the Sonoran Desert and drove to our hotel I remember thinking that the multitudes of Saguaro cacti looked as if they were welcoming us home. With their arms held high they were wishing us well on our journey to move to where many of them had lived for 75 years or more. That first night we were walking back from dinner and I saw this prickly little guy in the light and just couldn’t resist writing a poem about him. I hope you enjoy it.

Savy Saguaro

Arms outstretched pretending to surrender
I see this gentle native
Of the desert floor.

He welcomes me with a sense of pride,
Pure delight and sharp spines
Raised like the hair on a frightened cat.

I wonder how this illuminated body
Can live without water for so long
Yet flower in the spring and stand so tall?

I wonder if I too can live here
Like this silent clown who waves to me
Wanting only to invite me into his embrace.

A Circle of Women

A Circle of WomenI conducted a Fuzzy Red Socks Retreat this past weekend for our local Hospice Volunteers. These women are truly angels in the work they do to guide hospice patients and their loved ones through the dying process with dignity and respect. What a gift it was to spend a few hours with these wonderful women of grace. I will always hold dear in my heart the memory of these courageous, loving, and insightful ladies in our concluding circle processing the day’s events, communicating and connecting with our souls. For my Day #16 submission for NaPoWriMo 2013, I wrote this poem in honor of these wonderful women and for all Hospice Volunteers.

A Circle of Women

I stand in a circle of women
who give to those in need
their talents, their love and their beliefs.

I stand in a circle of women
who guide and support the dying
and their loved ones through grief.

Today we walk to the meadow to meditate
We stand alone or we choose to unite;
Today we relax, reflect and rejuvenate
And together we turn on the light.

I stand in a circle of women
sharing love, laughter and tears
Time stops as we nourish our souls.

I stand in a circle of women
Whose touch is priceless and whose
Laughter is worth its weight in gold.

Today we walk to the meadow to meditate
We stand alone or we choose to unite;
Today we relax, reflect and rejuvenate
And together we turn on the light.

I stand in a circle of women
Who help us see the purpose of life
As they guide us through the process of death.

I stand in a circle of women
Awed by their humility and wowed
by their willingness to travel this path.

Today we walk to the meadow to meditate
We stand alone or we choose to unite;
Today we relax, reflect and rejuvenate
And together we turn on the light.

Find out more about NAPoWriMo 2013 at www.napowrimo.net
Find out more about Hope Hospice at www.hopehospice.com

The Wings of My Dreams

For those of you following my blog, yes, I am behind in my posts for NaPoWriMo 2013. But I refuse to give up in my quest to write 30 poems for each day in the month of April. I just won’t finish that task until the month of May. For my Day #15 submission I give you the poem I wrote to my dear husband Rory a few months before he asked me to marry him. We are celebrating our 23rd wedding anniversary today, so I thought this appropriate. Happy Anniversary, honey.

The Wings of My Dreams

You are the wings of my dreams
The love of my life.
You are the light in my day
Please take me as your wife.

You are the center of my purpose
The soul of my being.
You are the core to my spirit.
You are all that I am seeing.

Your love is the reason
I wake in the morning.
Your love is my path
The age of my new dawning.

Your love is what fills me
With truth, respect, and trust.
Your love is what thrills me
And makes life such a must.

So come into my arms tonight
Today and every tomorrow.
For together we can conquer life
Its pain, its strife, and sorrow.

To find our more about NaPoWriMo 2013 go to www.napowrimo.net.

Root down, Rise Up, Stand Tall

TreeThe Making of A Poem, A Norton Anthology of Poetic Forms by Mark Strand and Eavan Boland describes a sonnet as “a poem of fourteen lines, usually iambic.” This is my first attempt at a current day sonnet about my yoga practice for my NaPoWriMo 2013 Day 14 submission. I hope you enjoy it.

Root down, Rise Up, Stand Tall

Root down rise up and let the breath take flight
Breathe in breathe out and let it all begin
Go deep go far until my light shines bright
The mat is safe to free my soul within.

But can I find the strength to go so deep?
Will my mind allow my body to bend and bow?
Can I open my heart and face the fear I keep
So bottled up and stuffed behind my brow?

Root down rise up let my spirit guide me
Be brave stretch long send love let go stay clear.
Focus find love and then I will be free.
Wake up believe and then release the fear.

Yes now I know I’m strong I will not fall
I see the truth and now I can stand tall.

To find out more about NaPoWriMo 2013 go to www.napowrimo.net.

It Just Takes One

After the events in Boston this week, I am left speechless; except for these few words that describe my feelings.  This is my Day 13 NaPoWriMo 2013 submission.

It just takes one (or two)
Confused and caustic souls
To deliver a hateful, senseless act.

But through the acts of many
Courageous and caring people
We stand united as one.

For more information about NaPoWriMo 2013 got to www.napowrimo.net.

Old Friends and New Friends

Imagine it: 10 great women, 3 days and nights of scrapbooking, 1 house on the beach. This is my submission for NaPoWriMo 2013, Day 12.

Old friends and new friends
Escape our hectic lives
Where we serve as mothers
Sisters, daughters and wives.

Old friends and new friends
Rent a house near the sea
Scrapbooking old memories
Making new ones busily.

Stickers, paper, scissors and
Photographs are everywhere
They cover our tables and help us
Tell our stories with care.

Laptops purr for some who
Create album pages digitally
Blending an age-old tradition
With current technology.

Old friends and new friends
Mix and mingle with food and song
Sharing pictures of special loved ones
Some here, some long gone.

The pictures are what connect us
They are the impetus to long talks;
That go on deep into the night,
Or in a hot tub or on beach walks.

Putting photos into albums
Coming from the heart
We share a unique bond and
For some it’s just a start:

To making treasured heirlooms
We will hand down to our kids;
To document the good times
And we’re so glad we did.

Old friends and new friends
Creating gifts by the sea
That tell a very dear one
“Yes, I know she loves me.”

For more information about NaPoWriMo 2013 go to www.napowrimo.net