Aging

poetry

The image looking back has begun to change
more suddenly these days.
Having only just settled in to beauty,
sinking lines attempt
to erase it away.

 

It’s strange and maybe a little scary to watch your face change with age. I spent my youth never thinking that I was pretty, always full of self-doubt and insecurity. Then, just as I start to settle into a comfortable place with my looks, they start to shift. There is something about this that seems so unfair. I watch my husband look even better, even more handsome as he ages, but in myself – I just see sinking. I think there is a part of me that feels like as my looks change, maybe he won’t love me anymore. Maybe others won’t look at me the same as they used to. Then I realize how ridiculous I’m being. I am still the same person beyond the face. No matter the number of wrinkles or the amount of sagging skin, there is someone pretty special beyond the package. The lines mean I’ve had years of growing, learning and becoming someone that I love and no matter how much the wrapping around that shifts, it doesn’t erase what’s inside.

We all change, we all get older no matter how much we may try to fight it, it is beyond our control. But it is our aging that gives us the capacity to love more than ever before. To love others and most importantly, to love ourselves.

Home

poetry

There is a place where I feel love.
It is simple, but special.
The walls are filled with imperfections,
Yet that’s part of what makes it whole.

There is a place where I feel warmth.
It is small and bright,
with light moving through the rooms,
carrying the sun to my soul.

There is a place where I feel safe.
It is calm and steady,
and wraps me in its protection
so I may sleep with a new peace.

There is a place that gives me life.
It fixes all the wrongs,
with the past at its doorstep,
allowing entry only to release.

 

I moved from my home in North Carolina back to Michigan this past winter, and I’ve mentioned before that my husband and I spent nearly 6 months in an apartment while we searched for a house. I spent some time away from this blog because we not only found our perfect house, but we have been furiously busy working on making it even more special. While I knew that I would take some time off of writing for a while, what I originally thought might be a couple of weeks turned into a couple of months – and that is just unacceptable. I’ve been back at it each morning, committing to myself to either write poetry or a list of things I noticed every day. No exceptions. Writing every day is something that gives me life, and so is this new house of ours.

The love of this house isn’t even just about the physical space, although the light from the windows and my view of the sunrise from my office each morning gives me great joy, but this house has provided such a sense of peace in a short time. It’s an older home and needs a lot of care, but there is something about it that just feels right. The months of completely changing my world by moving back across country and living in limbo for a time led me here. I knew this was coming, I just didn’t know how right it really would feel.

We Don’t Always Notice

poetry

There seems to be no time,
no time for what we need.
It’s gone so quickly and we don’t always notice until
the end comes into view.

There are days that stretch,
and weeks that never existed.
The moments are in our grasp, if only
we could catch them more often.

 

This week, I watched an old Showtime series called Time of Death, which follows a handful of people who are diagnosed with a terminal illness in some of their final days. You might wonder why I would put myself through something so sad, but it spoke to me on a number of levels. There are thoughts that run through my head about life and death, which are nothing new, but being a former Jehovah’s Witness, I was raised with a concept that I had a hope for everlasting life on this earth. I wasn’t afraid of death, I thought I knew what was going to happen until well into my 30s when I had what I like to call The Epiphany. Everlasting life may seem like a ridiculous concept, but when you are brought up with only the knowledge of something so powerful ingrained in your mind, it can be a bit tragic to lose. That Epiphany was the shatter point of everything that I ever thought I knew about life and death and, to this day, I am still rebuilding my belief system.

As a function of the above, and I suppose as well as being a woman approaching her mid-40s, one thing that has become all too clear is that life is so much shorter than I had ever realized. Yet, even with this knowledge planted firmly in my head, it’s still easy to let the days get away from me. Before bed last night, I was reading Austin Kleon’s book Keep Going, and at one point he references the movie Groundhog Day, where Bill Murray’s character is trapped in an endless cycle of reliving the same day over and over again. I was reminded that this is sometimes what our days can feel like, even when we create beautiful routines that bring us joy, many times when looking back everything seems to just run together, leaving us wondering where it all went and questioning how we can change it.

A few years ago, I wrote a piece once on incorporating more memorable moments into our days in order to make time seem more expansive. This isn’t a new concept and it definitely works, but I realize now that it’s about so much more than just adding new adventures and twists to our daily lives. It’s about getting out of your own head and paying attention to even the mundane moments. Many of us tend to be so focused on either what’s happened in the past or worrying about what is to come, that we miss out on what is happening right now. For instance, if you spend any time walking outside, are you stuck in what is going on in your headphones, or in the thoughts about what you have to do the rest of the day? Or, are you focusing on how the pavement feels beneath your feet as they pad across the ground? How about that tree on the corner, have you ever paid attention to the intricacy of the veining in its leaves or how the branches move with the breeze? What about the subtle warmth of the sunlight on your arms? Do you feel that?

It takes work to notice the present and I am currently making every effort to live in that space. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but as long as I remind myself to pay attention when I wake up each morning, I sense a deeper connection being built with the beauty of this life – of catching hold of the moments that I have.

I Am Turquoise

Bright and brilliant,
I am eye-catching and dreamy.
Ethereal by my own right,
I am a vision that catches in the corner of eyes.
I am light when the sun shines down,
and a gorgeous shade of the deep sea
as the night sets in.

An exercise from the book, The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, had me pick my favorite color and write about it as if it were me. What was it about that color that might be a part of me? This is an interesting exercise to try. I was surprised by what flowed from my fingertips when I envisioned this glorious color and how it might relate to me. Some might think that I’m rather full of myself when they read it, but it’s truly not the case. What poured forth is the confidence that I’ve longed for and lacked in my lifetime and the realization that I’m starting to feel some of this as I embrace my creative energy and the beauty that comes from getting older. I didn’t put much thought into what I wrote. I didn’t take time to roll it over in my mind, instead, I simply let it move through me and onto the page. The result was a vision of how I now choose to walk through the world. I am turquoise.

I wonder, what color would you be?

There Is A Voice

There is a voice that lies deep within.
A voice that sometimes gets lost
amongst the crowds of others wearing thin.

It has to shout for you to hear it.
It has to scream to make you notice.

There is a voice that pleads for you to bleed.
To put your soul on the line,
cast all doubts and fire up a need.

It urges you to push forward.
It calls on you to make it happen.

There is a voice.

We all have it. This voice inside of us, this one that wants more for us. We have a dream, we have thoughts of something we want to do, but it gets buried beneath the rest of life and it fades away in the background.  Often, that voice grows tired of hiding in the shadows and starts shouting at us to do the thing that we are hungry for. To turn that idea or thought into something tangible. To push through and force ourselves to do the work and make that thing become something so powerful that it’s no longer a distant dream but instead becomes something we must achieve – a need.

We all have this voice. The question is, will you listen?

Social Anxiety at a Coffee Shop

Passing through the threshold,
The faces all turn and stare.
Boring holes
Radiating insults
Questioning my entry.

Moving into the crowd,
The squeeze aches the shoulders.
Clamps the jaw
Sweats the chest
Blankness in my brain.

Feeling their better beauty,
The eyes cast superior.
Pointing fingers
Laughing mouths
The lesser don’t belong.

Grounding into the scene,
The sight becomes palpable.
Lowered eyes
Careless nods
Notice does not exist.

Do you ever walk into a space and feel immediately like all eyes are on you, and not necessarily in a good way? Have you built a story in your head that you are somehow inferior to everyone else in the room? They are better looking, better dressed, more confident, cooler – whatever it is, they are doing it better than you are. While not everyone may experience this, I believe there are a great deal of us who do at some point in our lives, even if it’s subtle. Then there are those of us that carry that story everywhere we go.

For me, it started with childhood. I was never taught a sense of belonging; confidence didn’t exist in my home. Instead, I learned the weight of shame and fear on my shoulders. I lived under the roof of my father, the addict, and an unfortunate byproduct of his struggles was that we frequently moved. My early days were met with countless treks across country and into new schools at least twice, sometimes three or more times in a year. None of this lent itself well to my social development and, as a pre-teen, when things are challenging for even a well-adjusted kid, I quickly became a target of teasing and bullying. My shy demeanor, Goodwill clothes and an unusual religion that I had to wear like a badge, made me something to be mocked by other kids. I knew I was different and no matter how much I tried, I was certain that I would never be as good as they were.

Today, I’m in my forties, living in a happy home, smart and relatively successful, enjoying my life and knowing my worth. Yet, the things we carry with us from childhood still manage to amaze me. Even after years of hard work in therapy, the inferiority story that rooted itself deep within my brain, still likes to show up from time to time. Just as it did in the moment I walked into an unfamiliar coffee shop recently. When I’m certain that everyone is staring at me and on the verge of making fun, I simply remind myself that I belong wherever I go. This mantra is grounding. It shifts my story from that hurt child surrounded by cruelty to the strong adult that I am. It gives me power.

We all carry stories, some are on our shoulders and others are locked deep behind walled off spaces. These are stories of hurt, of love, of trauma or triumph. I like to think that for all our glorious differences, we are all basically the same. We all belong everywhere we go.