divided we fall – I

constitutionbanner-unitedwestandllcI pen this post with compassion and concern for the emotionally triggering rhetoric swirling about us like so many tops. My intention is to seek shared understanding from which to move forward.

The news – fake, real, and alternative –seems designed to and interpreted as creating divisions, assigning blame, obfuscating truth. We are all in this turbulent mix. Whether we identify as Republican or Democrat, pro-life or pro-environment; whether we are more concerned about our basic humanity or our next paycheck, how our food is produced or how it will make it to our tables; we are all Americans with a mix of legitimate concerns which defy the neat categorizations of the past.

And I believe messaging is what is dividing us, far more than substance. Because the messages create an either/or extreme of acquiescence or defiance, admitting neither debate nor inclusion of difference. This is not how democracy works.

I understand why it seems refreshing, after eight years of stalemate in Congress, to witness a flurry of action in such a short time. I was as frustrated as the next person at the hobbling of the last administration. But the answer is not wanton destruction of what we stand for as a people, as a nation.

Can we not advocate with BOTH passion AND civility? Can we not embrace difference for what it teaches us with honest debate? Can we not possess BOTH a moral compass AND respect for facts?

We cannot allow ourselves to be led into unbridgeable polarization. Blind opposition to one another’s humanity can only lead to dehumanization and violence. In that, we all lose. Let us instead seek out opportunities for respectful communication and discourse.united-we-fall

continuous quality improvement

Quote

credit - 123rf.com

credit – 123rf.com

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Tagline.”

Historically I am a seeker of, among other things, better ways to do what might present itself to me. This has not always proven useful, ensuring for instance my inability to do anything the same way twice. Like recipes, which are only a suggestion. Trying different methods to engage or discipline my children. Approaching my spouse with the idea-of-the-day to remain novel and interesting. In fact, whatever was in front of me seemed to require nimble re-definition and re-working in one endless challenge to do it afresh. This can prove quite exhausting over time.

I recall my father once confiding that he rewrote his ‘Chem 105’ notes each and every year – 40 of them. I did the same with endless writing group agendas, even though I could easily have reused them. I believed that continuous updating would keep the materials – and perhaps more importantly, myself – vibrant and engaging for each subsequent group.

I apparently adopted a way of living that pushes-pushes-pushes me. To outdo myself. To extremes of busy-ness. To extremes of fatigue. Without even giving myself a break between improvements. Can you imagine living in a house under constant construction
f-o-r-e-v-e-r with no end in sight? Welcome to my world.

credit - ehow.com

credit – ehow.com

But now that I’m attempting retirement, and fully understand that there are no medals for over-doing, I need to release this overdrive-drive-drive to enhance, change, make more beautiful or functional. For too many decades this drive has filled the primary landscape of my heart. Today it will only drive away those I cherish and wish to keep close in my heart.

Embracing what IS is a far greater gift. It also allows me to move into arenas where I need not be The Sole Responsible Party. After all this time, that’s a sweet release indeed. While I feel challenged by this sea-change required of age-old behavior, I will rise to face it in my old age. With humility and trust that, in deed, continuous quality improvement has its limits.

weaving the threads

“Draft a post with three parts, each unrelated to the other, but create a common thread between them by including the same item — an object, a symbol, a place — in each part.” – Today’s DP Challenge

rock cairn by ocean

I am due to report on the results of using a contact form to get readers’ opinions about cairns – their artistic, functional and expressive functions. The short summary of what I learned is that their ephemeral nature is what makes them beautiful. They can be reassembled to suit the moment’s mood.

Colorful stack of expressive words

Weekly I lead a circle of women in prison writing their lives – for better, for worse, for creativity, for healing. Their piles of words express where these women have been and where they are headed. They speak to the moment’s mood. Their words can be reassembled, as I do each week by rearranging lines of writing into one united poem. This ‘found poem’ takes on a wholly new meaning from its respective referred-to-parts. The authors delight in the challenge to see where I will take the collective meaning of disparate and unrelated phrases and feelings from one week to the next.

black-and-white graphic of women in a circleLast night, I was treated to a surprise  reunion dinner in honor of my return to my writing roots among Women Writing for (a) Change writers in its hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio.  A third of our original Wednesday writing group from 20 years back reassembled itself around a corner table at a local Italian restaurant. As I surveyed the glowing and ageless faces of these women I love like sisters, women who are a part of me, I felt layers of years and shared experience pile higher and higher. A monumental stack of worded moments, laughter, meals, losses and dreams as testimony to our coming-of-age as a community of becoming-conscious women. Though on separate journeys, we remain joined by our shared passion for words. One moment, one mood, one meeting at a time.

patience and inspiration

Last week was one of my favorite weeks of summer: five days spent with young women in grades 8 – 12 at “Writing Camp for (a) Change!” During those days, we challenge one another, learn from one another, support and encourage one another. Girls and adult facilitators alike.

A favorite exercise this week was personifying Patience and Impatience; and having pairs create a scenario in which patience/impatience meet and work something through together. Another prompt of the day was writing about an experience of patience, inspired by Kay Ryan’s poem of the same name. This is what came to me in the first fast-write of the day:

PATIENCE
a landscape of inclusion –
you, me, wide
and sustainable –
a ribbon of waiting
that winds toward the finish
bearing fruits and gifts
beyond imagining,
a feast of color
hard work and insight
harvesting a solid life
from far and near.

swb

who, me?

April showers have brought a garden full of so much more than flowers. Like many of you, I was showered with challenges to push my social media reach and continue to poem daily. Robert Lee Brewer has sown far more than he could have anticipated. As a result, I continue to push through new ground.

Suddenly I have ‘met’ across the continents a wide spectrum of bloggers covering topics from personal health crises to travel to the daily challenges of staying home with young children to highly successful published authors sharing writing advice from their journeys … I have discovered which media are more compatible with my needs and abilities. And more. So much more that it is hard to know what to focus on at any given time.

Fortunately, time will get me there. Meanwhile, I have been honored with nomination for the Liebster Blog – a neat way to introduce new bloggers. Many thanks to Bonnie Vesley and her informative and complete discussion of our recent media challenge.

The Liebster Blog requirements:
1. Thank the one who nominated you by linking back.
2. Nominate five blogs with fewer than 200 followers.
3. Let your nominees know by leaving a comment on their sites.
4. Add the award image to your site.

Ever a new challenge – to select just five blogs!!! – but I’ve done it. And here they are:

Margo Roby’s “Wordgathering” This blog is richly informative, fairly new, and completely inspires me to see how mature a blog/site can become in a short time.

Mary Pfeiffer’s “Bite Size Chunks” Not only do I identify with her mission of story-telling for posterity; I was immediately drawn by ‘recharge, savor, meander,’ and her focus on great memoir advice.

Kris Swanguarin’s “Milk of Moonlight” His background is eclectic, his use of language beautiful and refreshing, and his focus on accessible poetry greatly appreciated. I also love his header photo.

Joy Weese Moll’s “Joy’s Book Blog.” She has already introduced me to books I would never have heard about. I especially appreciate her personal take on reviews by adding ‘thoughts’ and ‘appeal.’

Jeannine Everett’s “Moby Joe Cafe.” Another blogger like myself finding new direction at midlife. I particularly appreciate her authenticity and humor in telling difficult but necessary truths.

Sow it forward and reap. This spring is fertile ground, indeed.