an ordinary day

Thanks to the Daily Challenge for the invitation to share this writing:

AN ORDINARY DAY

For ten days I lived the learning curve
of diabetes, partnering with my beloved son
to help his through maternal leave,
given the grace of time to relish
each extraordinary moment.

The first hour’s sing-song babbling
lifts from crib to giggled hugs and undercover
hide-and-seek en route to the day’s first blood glucose test
followed by calculations of insulin and carbs,
breakfast planned to even out
the hours to come.

This child, so gentle and joyful of spirit
accepts each poked finger and prodded thigh
with grace, a lesson I cannot fail to notice sets
the warp of our day through which we weave
our patterned way, each hour
a new adventure.

From Grandma’s blocks we build
to hold what he loved at the aquarium –
octopus by the elevator climbing glass walls,
his giant purple sac blowing up bigger then smaller
carefully reconstructed through his two-year
old imprint, giant tank within winding
ramp, sea lions sunning beyond.

He recalls with pride how he placed his hand
in the pool where flat rays swam shallow circles
requiring him to dip, lean and shriek with surprise
when the flappy gray surface floated beneath
outstretched fingers, feeling like velvet
fleet and brief, tickling his hand
again and again.

We chant the trains that took us there —
‘one train, two train, three train, blue train’
and back – ‘one train, two train, red train, bed train’
to test, insulin, lunch and rest. Later, we’ll
relive the adventure with Brio trains,
tunnels and bridges arcing us
back to the present.

Past supper the day’s reduced
to favorite books, moonlight and song
stories lingering among the family
of bears lining his crib, a round
of Dona Nobis Pacem circling
him in love’s embrace.

How the layers unfold like
an origami crane in flight; then settle
back to nest, each hour building bridges
between love and need, grace wrapping
itself around this wondrous gift
of an ordinary winter day.
swb ©2017

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?

heart launch

Today’s Daily Post Prompt: Describe what it feels like to hear a beautiful piece of music or see a stunning piece of art.

On Thursday evening, 250 people packed Burlington, Vermont’s beautiful lake-side Main Street Landing Performing Arts Center to receive and honor the words of previously incarcerated women.

[Their writings are among the unedited prose and poetry of 60 incarcerated women writing for self-understanding and change in the newly released HEAR ME, SEE ME: Incarcerated Women Write (Orbis Books, Maryknoll, NY).]

Nine women gathered to read from their book to a riveted audience. The cumulative impact of their stories, their voices, their diverse appearance and their shared sense of community in this somewhat surreal and completely unprecedented reunion was beyond beautiful. Silence was complete. Focus intense. Energy shifted. Understanding prevailed.

Afterwards, the nine clustered around two tables, pens poised to personalize the pages of books just purchased by the many who moments earlier had given them a rousing standing ovation for their courage and their vulnerability. The entire event was a moving collage, a kaleidoscope of fears overcome, challenges shared, connections made in heart time. The air vibrated with compassion on the waves of relieved laughter. Each woman radiated a confidence only hinted at beneath her ‘blues’ inside prison.

It was heart stopping and heart filling. Beautiful and stunning. A true heart launch for all.

the practice of gratitude

Aside

credit: drchristinahibbert

credit: drchristinahibbert

“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.

vulnerability

pair dancing - koffTwo weeks back, I posted two sets of writings from the women inside Vermont’s prison where I hold weekly writing groups. We had responded to a set of five statements from Brene Brown  which circulated following her highly-popular November 12 interview with Krista Tippett. In light of recent events and the coming solstice, it felt right to share my own writing on those themes; writing I did along with the incarcerated women – inside, writing about vulnerability with metal doors clanging, corrections officers interrupting three or four times per hour for head count, women sitting together with others they might not even speak to on the unit; but here we were writing and sharing ouir raw unedited vulnerability.

The five topics are not specifically referenced here. Nonetheless, I believe the resulting lines speak not only to her words, but to many of us for whom the idea of opening ourselves can be frightening, even to point of refusing to do so.

I. When the shell is tight
across the chest, breathing
is labored, forced;

without digging in secret
places within
whence would poetry arise?

If I follow the same path
day after day, I remain
in a rut.

II.  We cannot afford to forget
any experience,
even though painful.

If I live numbed
how would I become better
than my past mistakes?

Absent feeling, there is no pulse;
my soul demands
to feel it all.

III.  How can I demand of you
that which I would not myself do? Continue reading