fall’s fluff

Here, fluff flies upward
in soft blizzards aswirl
with seed-anchored parachutes
calling us to cavort
across meadow and field; while you
walk in city street, autumn’s first fluffy flakes
falling soft at your feet
silencing and still.


roots of gratitude

Credit: Rhonda Bobinski

In keeping with the season, I share a writing done during a young girls’ class. It seems fitting to acknowledge the one thing that feeds me, this and every time of year; and it is not turkey!!!  May your own roots bless and hold you.

My root is my family.
Long-lived connections to home
keep me stable, support and encourage me
even as I feed its branches through my children.

Long-lived connections to home
to make healthy choices and do the right thing
even as I feed its branches through my children.
I try to take care of them when they need it,

to make healthy choices and do the right thing —
each in a unique direction, giving shape to their dreams.
I try to take care of them when they need it,
imagining roots of a completely different nature.

Each in a unique direction, giving shape to their dreams
keeps me stable, supports and encourages me
imagining roots of a completely different nature.
My root is my family.



Credit: Deborah Koff-Chapin

Her luminous gray eyes, firm
arms outstretched to break the fall
into self-loathing – Kindness;
wavy black hair hanging loose
yet serene, a playful wisp escaping
at the temple – Kindness; her easy smile
and intent listening to encourage
the doubting, lost and seeking.

Kindness lives, I think, in the woods,
grounded in seasoned wisdom,
deep-rooted in the core of life,
her cycles one with Mother.

Kindness lives, too, in the rolling ocean,
her eyes mirroring moon phases, skin
translucent mother of pearl, aglow as she
mermaid-flips across the surf buoyed and light
as a memoried beach day, eternal and true.

Kindness lives in air, on the in and out
of every breath; flows around feeling, gives
voice to the possible, reminds
us to choose; she glides, slides, invisible
yet present in every moment.

Kindness lives in fire
forged of wisdom, her flame
drawing us onward when the way
is dark, the path alight with her
strength and example.

Only Kindness tucks us in at night, opens
our morning eyes with wonder
and gratitude for the gifts of each day,
blessing us along our way.


stance on silence

Tonight I had the pleasure of attending a meeting of Burlington Business and Professional Women at which Janice Santiago was awarded Woman of Achievement for 2012. This award ‘recognizes leadership and achievements for the betterment of women in the community.’

I recently met Janice (Employee Advocate, Women Helping Battered Women) at last month’s ‘Refusing Silence’ workshop, an event I offer annually in conjunction with Domestic Violence Awareness Month. It was her first workshop with me but not, I learned this evening, her first. She was being honored for going above and beyond in her work; for being a genuinely caring advocate, often accompanying clients to classes or appointments.  Into the bargain, her sparkling personality and great sense of humor were duly noted.

In accepting the honor, Janice graciously referred to her workshop experience with Women Writing for (a) Change – Vermont. To illustrate both her own work and the impact of writing as a tool for self-reflection and change, she read her poem penned during our Saturday workshop, below.

Afterwards, speaker Madeleine Kunin – former Governor of Vermont, Deputy Secretary of Education, and Ambassador to Switzerland [among many other significant roles and contributions] – echoed Janice’s remarks about the need for women’s voices to speak out. Stories are how we connect to one another. Stories create compassion. A single voice can be the impetus for change. As Carolyn Heilbrun so famously wrote, “Women catch courage from the women whose lives and writings they read, and women call the bearer of that courage friend. ” ― Carolyn G. Heilbrun, The Last Gift of Time. At least two strong women sowed courage this evening in Burlington VT; and I am proud to call them ‘friend.’

An Advocate’s Stance on Silence
I will not be silent for you
If you cannot speak up – stand up for yourself, I will be your voice
If you are being harmed – I will stand up and protect you and help you to a safe place
I will not be a bystander who doesn’t act or help
I will stand up, step in, and speak out
Do not be silenced, do not be afraid
All of your thoughts and feelings are valued
If you need help I will be there
Whether you need me silently standing by
Or if you need my helping in finding your voice
If you need a hug, to laugh, to cry, or just to be
I will be there
If words are not enough let my actions speak for me
As I will not be silent for you

Janice Santiago

seeking hope


Credit: earthobservatory.nasa.org

I walked seeking hope
across stream and gully
through stumps and rubble,
my feet cresting a hill they knew
as path to my grove of yellow birch
bent now to the weight of felled hemlock,
no dappled shadows dancing visions
of peace and solitude

saplings exposed by canopy emptied
of venerable sentries to a world
of hidden paths, where years gone by
a blink ago my young wandered
through brambles buried now
with piled debris from saw blades trained
on diameters.

Seeking to make familiar
the rise underfoot, lost landmark
like myself, I continued
breathing deep
chancing the new
uncovered way
to guide me