Thanks to Mary Morrill Cunningham, via Gather the Women on Facebook for this image. A wonderful collection of insights, words and images from wise and powerful women.
We’ve seen them each morning, the few ragged
Canada geese flocking for mid-winter warmth,
their sentry craning his juvenile gray neck, stuttering
his crane-billed alarm; the entire crew
taking measured flight amid honked fright,
an unlikely family fleeing to shared safety.
“I want to stay in love when fear drives me to hate and judgement. I want to practice gratitude and cultivate joy in the darkness. That doesn’t mean that I can’t be afraid or sad or vulnerable, it simply means that reacting to tragedy by living in fear doesn’t create empathy, it breeds more fear.” Brene Brown, inspired by Martin Luther King
This practice of gratitude is a daily intention, a prayer for living, hopefully even a way of life. There is much to be grateful for and many ways to find it, from a simple meditation to a five-minute entry in a Gratitude Journal before going to sleep at night. When I first tried this practice, it felt, frankly, a bit awkward and even forced. I found myself penning gratitude for the same things over and over.
While this is great – to appreciate what I have in my life – it quickly became apparent that there was so much more I could reflect upon. And with each reflection, the gratitude went deeper and wider, until it spread to an ongoing perception of abundance in even the smallest of events, moments, observations. When filled with gratitude, it is hard to retreat in fear. Somehow, it becomes easier to carry fear without becoming fear-filled. Might this then be the foundation of empathy?
Try it. Perhaps you will find yourself moved from abundance to empathy, letting fear take a back seat to your day. And then, please share your gratitude moment(s) here.
“Finally!!!!” she wrote, exhilarated, exhausted and expectant as she pushed the ‘Send’ button. Six weeks of nose-to-the-screen gathering, ordering, cohering three-plus years’ worth of writings from the incarcerated women with whom she writes weekly; gathering permissions from said women now scattered far and wide; photographing, copying, placing their exquisite artwork strategically throughout the manuscript; writing, editing, rewriting introductions, notes, bio’s; flurries of emails between partner Marybeth Redmond and editor Mike Leach at Orbis Books, in impressive volleys of call and response . . . all leading to this ‘finally’ moment. The deed done. The button pushed. The deadline met. “Hear Me, See Me: incarcerated women write” has been birthed.
Finally she wrote!!! After weeks sequestered with screen and syntax, her itchy fingers once more take to the keyboard on her own behalf . . .
Six weeks of watching singular scenes lined up and waiting for recognition. A winter flock of plump russet-headed otherwise brownish birds circling like a cyclone at the feeder after a 14” snowfall – their visit perhaps 10 minutes of frantic foraging, ten to the narrow thistle seed feeder, clumps along the lighted balsam bows gracing the deck rail and others challenging one another to morsels fallen during the previous evening’s refill.
My dog muzzled against her winter sport of random noshing frozen goods, burrowing beneath rapidly warming snow and coming up the lost unicorn, her curved white profile rising to mythic proportions in the bare-branched woods. Me trying to take artsy snow-photos to capture the glint of sun on ice-coated branches, when I couldn’t actually see for the glare.
Moving my home studio from third to first floor, finally consolidating boxes from three different closets on as many floors, my desk, professional and personal files, and all art supplies. Moving around my writing studio to accommodate a Tuesday evening group of 16 women eager to explore their lives and deepest questions through written words.
The holidays, come and gone in a blur of baking deliciousness and still more delightful cuddles with my long-since-grown kids. L-o-n-g car ride down I-89 through blinding snow with zero visibility at 20 mph trying to make the season’s final performance of the Boston “Revels.” Driving back up I-89 late, late at night having stopped to visit and share a meal with family; sharing the drive, stories and laughter with my adult son. Intense life-altering conversations about things that cannot be changed while probing the tender edges of those that can.
Receiving Minerva Rising’s winter-themed second issue with three of my poems included. Experiments knitting beaded scarves. Connecting with long-time friends. Homemade dark chocolate sea-salt caramels; candles throughout the house, warmly flickering our deep connections and love; the annual linzertorte and stollen. And did I mention the tamales?!!!
Silent-to-this-page these past six weeks, perhaps. I return, original intention intact: to post three times per week exploring the landscapes of my life. My poetry. Musings on women’s wisdom gleaned from my work in the world. Thought-provoking forays into the conscious feminine. And finally (!) – as always – I welcome your engagement in dialogue.
fires lilac ice blossoms
Now the days lengthen
– Jim Hester