she just wants

source unknown – but I do wish I could have drawn this!

SHE JUST WANTS

She does not want to fit into anyone’s box.
She just wants to love the earth, her fingers deep in spring soil; to remain strong
and engaged; to let her words spill onto the page.
She doesn’t want a product to justify her day, or to defend or explain herself.
She just wants a walk by the lake, creativity in process, evening wine; to snuggle in front of a winter fire with a good book and her dog by her side.

She does not want to go forth into tumultuous throngs.
She just wants to touch the hearts of those few she calls friend, or to whom
she extends the pen of discovery.
She does not want to listen to discord or chaos.
She just wants to live simply, choose silence or animated conversation
or Bach cello suites.

She does not want additives, modifications, directives or exclusions.
She just wants to ensure the health and well-being of living earth and her creatures.
She does not want to see the world collapse around her offspring.
She just wants to speak up for what she believes, for what is morally right and just.

She does not want 50 years of social progress burned in one moment of fevered frenzy.
She just wants people to listen to/treat/learn from one another with respect.
She does not want self-serving skeptics to destroy natural connections.
She wants us to re-member our humanity and shared responsibility toward our world.

She does not want to live in division, hate, falsehood.
She just wants to lift up what is beautiful and true with.

She does not want it to end quite yet.

3.7.17 fastwrite in ‘writing outside’ group, prompted by ‘Employed,’
by Beverly Rollwagen, from She Just Wants. Nodin Press, 2004

evergreen self-care

self-care

credit – lisa a mccrohan

I love the concept of ‘evergreen’ content. Probably because I live among perennials – concepts as well as plants.

Take self-care, for instance. This entire blog is about self-care: staying present to life; appreciating/sharing beauty; protecting the fragile; midwifing empowerment; finding humor and humility in small things; becoming …

This morning I came across a piece of evergreen content written a full year back on Everyday Feminism – about self-care. In keeping with my Wednesday posting theme of ‘wise words,’ I share excerpts below, with credit and thanks to Sarah Ogden, who writes :

… The world is an especially exhausting place for those of us who work to fix it, for those of us who strive to live kindly and consciously. … – when you give a piece of yourself to someone or something else, you have to replace it with something new.

…The point of self care isn’t to try cookie-cutter techniques … but to really explore what it is that we need and to find ways to provide ourselves with the fuel that we require and deserve in order to do this work of existing.

…How can we act in meaningful ways to take care of ourselves to make our important work more sustainable?

1. Acknowledge That Things Are Hard

There is incredible power in nam[ing] your experience. Not only is it validating to hear your own voice claim what exists in your bones, it is also important for those around you to be aware of what you’re going through.

2. Ask For Help

When we can identify our needs and ask another person to help us meet these needs, we work to build intentional community around the concept that we are all connected and moving through this work and earth together.

3. Accept Vulnerability

… the reality is that vulnerability is actually a strength – it is a reminder that we are real and authentically ourselves. It reminds us that we are very much alive and that we are doing the work that we need to do to make this world what it should and can be.

4. Cultivate a Routine that Involves Both Rest and Play

… Whatever rest looks like for you, find a way to include it in each day. The same goes for play. Whether you play soccer on a team or a card game with your neighbor, find a way to play.

5. Do What Is True To You

Talk about what matters to you. Write about what you think is most important. Act in ways that feel the most authentic to who you are and who you want to be. … When we reject others’ expectations and make choices about our actions (professional, volunteer, recreational, whatever!) that are in accordance with our own deepest values and goals, we make the world and ourselves more whole.

What are your favorite forms of self-care? Do they depend on what’s going on around you? Or are there some things that are part of every day no matter what?

passion within

photo of book coverToday’s WP Daily Prompt asks about appearances. I am deeply involved in helping bring Full Circle Festival to fruition this April in Burlington VT, celebrating the heart and art of aging. Do appearances matter? Not to us! My interview with author Jane Buchan takes the conversation to a deeper level. May her perspective open your eyes beyond the mirror!

SWB:  This is the 30th anniversary of your novel, Under the Moon, a novel “begun in the intemperate fires of outrage when I was in my late-twenties… (in) response to the evils of segregating people according to age…” You lament that not much has not changed in the past 30 years.

JB:  The most troubling aspect of growing old in our culture is the assumption that at a certain age, or with the onset of a certain condition, we are no longer capable of making wise decisions for ourselves. The aging story we all live with is that adulthood grants us control over our lives.  Yet once we’re vulnerable, this cultural bias places us on an unstoppable decline into ‘less than.’ Many believe this negative view because anti-elder propaganda is so pervasive.  As we grow older – to borrow a vivid metaphor from My Dinner with Andre we’re conscripted into building the prison of ageism by assuming our doctors and family members are correct about our decline and need for medical intervention.

Edna, Under the Moon’s protagonist, capitulates to her daughter’s insistence that she move to a retirement home to be “safe.”  Edna realizes her mistake as soon as she moves into Sunset Lodge because she recognizes that an overly medicated, sterile, hyper-regulated life is no life at all. There are exceptions of course, but generally the ageism of thirty years ago has grown worse with more drugs available to “manage” residents and more regulations in homes designed for staff convenience and cost effectiveness, a euphemism for maximum profits.

SWB: You say “modern consumer society invented the ‘senior citizen’ to capitalize on that great motivator of spending, fear … ” Tell us a bit about alternatives to fear as a motivator for those not yet familiar with your work. 

JB:  Consciousness is always the most effective alternative to fear. We lose physical strength and speed as we age. This does not mean we have a disease that is about to do us in.  When we view growing old as an opportunity to learn from the wisdom schools, the natural world, and men and women who continue to define themselves until they draw their last breath – think Margaret Mead, Doris Haddock, Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, and closer to home, of Madeline Kunin and Bernie Sanders – we align with the life in us, not the fear. Amazing faculties emerge as we move into our final decades:  the ability to form highly complex global perspectives, the sense of connection to all that is, and the capacity for deep reflection.

SWB: Has your recent research suggested specific directions for change or improvement ahead? If not – what would YOU as a positive change agent like to see in your lifetime?

JB:  I hope Under the Moon will help to inspire aging conversations among diverse populations.  As more of us move into old age, we have the opportunity to discover our collective wisdom.   Until now, we’ve pretty much accepted the ‘Consumer’ label of the 1970’s, and readily follow anti-aging trends as if these are more valid than our actual experiences and desires. Given our present cultural choices, it is far too easy to accept that we either beat aging with surgery and drugs, or we capitulate to aging with surgery and drugs.

Once we’ve dismantled the cultural view of aging promoted in the media, we can tune in to the amazing reality of what it means to be an aging being on our beautiful Earth.  Some elders are creating their own group living arrangements, often in modest spaces with gardens, open kitchens, and shared resources.  A little more common are long-term facilities where pets, gardening, and the arts are becoming an integral part of institutional life. Now more than ever before, people in their sixties and seventies are talking about pioneering new living arrangements that support individual choice, lifelong learning, and a variety of solutions to common aging problems. Those who can are choosing retirement residences that allow for complete autonomy until nursing care becomes necessary.  However, residences supporting autonomy are few and far between, and their high costs make it unlikely they will become the norm.

We are on the cusp of great change, both as an aging society and as overly medicated citizens. Alternative medicine practices – acupuncture, massage, energy medicine, yoga, naturopathy, and the like – are helping people establish connections with their inner states of being rather than mask symptoms that are actually helpful messengers of important physical changes.  More of us are choosing these alternatives as complementary to necessary medical interventions.

Learning the health benefits of exercise, growing and eating local organic foods, and participating in skills’ exchanges to support sustainability and resilience, all can help us to refute the view that life is finished with us at a certain age.  I once stood within the hollowed out trunk of a thousand-year-old yew. Despite its thousand years, it hosts birds and squirrels, perfumes the air, enriches the earth, and feeds human spirit.  Before I die, I hope to meet hundreds of thousands of people who identify with ancient, life-giving trees as they age.

SWB: Your website www.winterblooms.net offers a delicious array of tools and inspiration for empowered aging in a soothing and inviting design.  How do you make the translation from training to leadership in your offerings?

JB: I am passionate about dance, energy tools, and journal keeping as methods of maintaining my healthiest aging self. These tools are what I offer others to prevent on-the-job compassion fatigue and a general loss of joie de vivre. Each participant in a workshop or gathering is deeply involved in her or his own life. Yet each needs rejuvenation, broader perspective, some tools for deeper self care.  I offer very simple but highly effective tools to influence the positive daily flow of personal energies.  After an evening or a weekend, participants tell me they feel far more centered, optimistic, and peaceful than before; and best of all, more comfortable in their own skin and more empowered to remain so.

SWB: You write that Edna “becomes the change in her own unique way.”  What ‘advice’ might you give to someone in later life to be the change, uniquely or otherwise?

JB:  Live your passion. I often ask participants, “What are you passionate about?  After an initial “Oh, I don’t know …” people erupt with a flow of insight about how our children are overscheduled, or the terrible food served in hospitals, or the dangers of climate change, or the assaults on our water supply, or the appalling conditions in prison.  For me, a person’s passion is the link to her Higher Self, that all-wise Being who recognizes, “This isn’t the place for me,” or asks, “I wonder why I didn’t find this place of service sooner.”

Passion – for liberating bodies or spirits, for growing interconnected communities, for nurturing plants and animals, for creating sacred space, for repairing quilts and neighbourhoods, for building friendships and sustainable dwellings, for singing songs, for dancing alone and in groups, for storytelling – passion holds the key to our joyful involvement in making the world anew. Many Boomers grew up with Depression Era fears of scarcity. We learned to postpone what we loved as responsible citizens doing all we could to make the world a better place through duty. In the process, many of us lost touch with our unique passion.  As we enter later life, we have the opportunity to rediscover our passion and channel it into creating a world that will survive current environmental, social, and spiritual crises, a world we will be proud to leave to future generations.

end of re-treat

a moment of quiet reflectionAnd treat it has been – over and over and over again – silence, community, perfect July weather, abundant fresh food, laughter, self-care, tears, hands and hugs, power words, poems, laments, songs, skinny dipping . . .

As we gather our things to go our separate ways, to re-enter that other world we usually think of as ‘real’, it is my hope as facilitator that we each will take with us the memory of all this treating and re-treating of self, will take it seriously as a possible (and desirable) way of life. To treat our Selves as if we matter – which we do – even if/when we fail to act that way.

And so I offer you from this magical place and time a poem which emerged from one of our mirroring themes – hunger. And please share your comments, your own experiences of inner hunger, ways in which my words resonate (or do not!) with you.

Feeding our Hungers on Retreat

What shall we find in this place,
where hunger is banished at the first sip
of fragrant chai, cumin and garlic

transporting us to the Greek Isle
of our tastebuds; where the music
of bees buzzing in milkweed dances us

dizzyingly downhill, children curious
as we cavort through meadows
strewn with words, our hands clasped

across our lives. How shall we shelter
one another in our vulnerable vessel
of shadow and light, the ones we bring

forth from need and its filling? There are no words
for the hours that have flown, the breeze that has lifted
our veils to reveal our true hungers, fed in the sharing

of both bread and soul, communion’s sweet wine
lingering on our lips as we chant and sing
our rivers of words in passing harmonies.

 swb

resistance

courtesy bobgod.com

The word inevitably arises within the first month of each new writing season. Despite her sometimes desperate desire to be writing, here and now, a woman’s resistance to writing looms huge and seemingly insurmountable.

This resistance is insidious. It’s downright evil. NOW is the time I have set aside. To write. Regularly. And to share what I write in order to get constructive feedback.

Silence. Blank paper. Nada.

This resistance wears many disguises, excuses primary among them. Didn’t get enough sleep; not comfortable in my writing place; need coffee, light, a walk . . . Too many phone calls ahead or bills to pay . . .

Over the years I’ve shared, many times, the wonderful demonstration described by Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. When asked to fill a bowl with large and small stones, most folks start with the small, only to find there is no room for the large. Yet, if you put the large ones in first, the small ones settle in and find their niche.

I remind my writers that WRITING IS THE LARGE STONE. This is what we want to do; so let’s do it! Not worry about it; not put it aside for the myriad minutiae that can immediately scream for attention the minute we strive to focus on something for ourselves. Those things will get done. After the writing.

What it really comes down to, of course, is that women constantly need to be reassured that it’s OK to take time for ourselves. We are programmed to be on call 24/7 to others’ needs and demands. Programmed to feel guilty for taking time for ourselves. Programmed to feel not worthy of all this attention to self. It is time we put ourselves atop our to-do list. Amazingly, not only will the small stuff get done; it generally will take less time and seem less onerous having attended to our own needs first. And yes – writing is for many of us a Need. So put it in first place as self-care. And enjoy it! We deserve every minute.