"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" ~ Mary Oliver

Tag: love

“divide and conquer” . . .

eeecec835f56f1ed14e49b4a1501af7cWhen you get to be my age, you start to reflect on situations that were less than wonderful and then, burdened by our heavy-duty psychological culture (truly American, I think) we try very hard to either “work things out” or at least take a stab at “forgiveness” in order to be happy. After reading a bunch of stuff, I’ve come to a more reasonable approach that allows me to let go of that kind of baggage much more easily!

Which, is truly to “Let it Go!” like the “Frozen” movie–but here’s the catch: for me, I had to have some kind of intellectual hook or rationale for freeing myself from my self-induced beliefs about forgiveness duty. Guess what I discovered?

That resistance to forgiveness might be a resistance to feeling love for yourself within. And if you examine this little thought, why bother to jerk yourself around to forgive someone if you don’t care or feel love for that person in the first place? If someone did you in and they’re not part of your life anymore (like professional back-stabbing or thoughtless family members who will never change) who cares anymore? Just let ’em all go!

Right? If you love someone, they’re worth figuring out how to get along with better even if it means you have to be patient and it might take a long time. If you don’t care inside about them as being valuable to you, then stop chinning yourself onto some kind of high bar of personal resolution that doesn’t really matter in the end

So, if you’re still reading this little post, my “divide and conquer” perspective is to divide off those who really don’t matter to you in the end, and concentrate solely on improving those relationships that do. If forgiveness is part of it, so be it even if you can’t figure it out right away. (Sigh of relief.) Much more satisfying to build upon love than anything else, don’t you agree? Sounds simpler, at least for me.



valentines . . .

It’s a very snowy, slushy, icy Valentine’s Day outdoors today, here in central Massachusetts.

Inside, there’s an armful of fresh flowers that G. brought me after a visit to our neighborhood florist early this morning.

flowers, cards, red felt heart and my father's calligraphy . . .

flowers, cards, red felt heart and my father’s calligraphy . . .

I have a couple of surprises for him to open up tonight with his card too!

Hope you are all enjoying the day!

“counting the ways” . . .

two heartsA few days ago, a literary friend of mine who has started a thread on her Facebook page to read various poets assigned me one to read and quote from: Sharon Olds. I was surprised to receive a poet I was not familiar with. Reading about her online, it turns out there are interesting turns of events about her poems.

In the 1990’s, her doctor/psychiatrist husband told her he was leaving her after 32 years of marriage to be with a doctor/colleague. Sharon Olds wrote poetry about her reactions, love, and sense of loss during this time and for years thereafter. She promised her son and daughter that she would wait at least ten years before publishing these poems from a period of time that was full of pain for them all.

Last year in 2012, she culled out a selection of poems from the hundreds she had written more than a decade earlier and Jonathon Cape published them in the U.K., a book entitled, “Stag’s Leap.” In April, the book was awarded the T.S. Eliot poetry prize, a U.K. poetry award of 15,000 British pounds. She said she bought herself a cashmere cardigan when she won the prize. Since her painful divorce, she rebounded with a younger man who was not the right guy for her; and after nine of years alone, she still teaches at NYU and lives the rest of the time with a former cattle breeder named Carl, whom she calls her “sweetheart.” Carl owns cabins up in New Hampshire which are rented out and also serve as a locus for poetry workshops. So it seems, all’s well that has ended well–which also makes the poems about the marriage breaking up easier to read.

The piece de resistance, though, is that after all those years of loss, being alone and growing older (she’s now 71,) Sharon Olds’s book, “Stag’s Leap” was recently awarded the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for poetry. If he hadn’t left her, she wouldn’t have written these poems and would also not have won a Pulitzer prize. Such irony here. . .

Here’s an excerpt from the poem, “Last Look”:

” and I saw again how blessed my life had been,

first, to have been able to love,

then, to have the parting now behind me,

and not to have lost him when the kids were young,

and the kids now not at all to have lost him,

and not to have lost him when he loved me, and not to have

lost someone who could have loved me for life.”

Well, it turns out he didn’t love her for life. In fact, her poems convey the sad truth that he was a very closed person  who hardly let her in during all those years. I also felt that she was keening for the loss of him a little too much, given that he deserted her, especially when he said, “it’s not about her, it’s about you.” Ouch!

So I’ve been thinking about different kinds of love: those that inspire poems that are Pulitzer-worthy, and love that’s more commonplace, like my husband, cleaning up snowdrifts from the blizzard and coming in to a steaming bowl of Lipton’s noodle soup and a sandwich.

“How do I love thee? Let me count the ways,” said Robert Browning.

“death be not proud” . . .

IMG_6028In the last week, a close friend and high school teacher colleague of my daughter’s who was fondly called “Doc 5” lingered from a dread rare type of cancer and died on Thursday, the 19th of September as the full harvest moon rose in the sky. He had been a teacher of Classics, fluent apparently, in Greek and Latin which he quoted in a “booming voice.”

Touching testimonials flew in on his CaringBridge guestbook from students near and far. One Dad wrote that he had a four-year-old daughter whom he hoped would be as lucky as he was to have had a teacher as inspiring as Doc 5. Another wrote that she was writing her Ph.D. thesis and that M. in high school had been the best teacher she had ever had. Someone also wrote that the one teacher he always came back to visit every year in person was Doc 5.

Here was a man who found his calling and carried it out, influencing circle upon circle of students year after year. He had good friends too. Loyal and true who stood by him everyday and loved him. In the end, everything seemed to come together on the day he died. He had the gift of reading letters and looking at photographs of weddings and children sent to him by former students. In a way, his was a living epiphany while he was dying. The word, epiphany is used often. But in this case, it seems particularly apropos.

Here is John Donne’s poem, “Death Be Not Proud” as acknowledgement of M.’s passing.

                                    DEATH be not proud, though some have called thee

                                    Mighty and dreadfull, for, thou art not so,

                                    For, those, whom thou think’st, thou dost overthrow,

                                    Die not, poore death, nor yet canst thou kill me.

                                    From rest and sleepe, which but thy pictures bee,

                                    Much pleasure, then from thee, much more must flow,

                                    And soonest our best men with thee doe goe,

                                    Rest of their bones, and soules deliverie.

                                    Thou art slave to Fate, Chance, kings and desperate men,

                                    And dost with poison, warre, and sicknesse dwell,

                                    And poppie, or charmes can make us sleepe as well,

                                    And better then thy stroake; why swell’st thou then;

                                    One short sleepe past, wee wake eternally,

                                    And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die. 

perspective . . .

blue bestYou know how sometimes you go along for YEARS thinking that your life is or has been a certain way? Then, a conversation happens and it flips your perspective upside down? This happened to me yesterday when I was talking with someone I had known quite a long time, but not all that well. She is single and manages her own small business but is doing better, especially now that the economy seems to be shifting forward in a more positive direction.

We were talking about being lucky about our lives. I had thought about myself as having been “unlucky” in love because my first husband and I had a mostly silent marriage for over a quarter of a century before we parted ways and I didn’t marry my “first love” whom I had sporadically kept in touch with for decades, knowing he loved me in his own way all that time. Then, I met G., my second husband and we have been together for over 20 years. That is why I say on this blog that “life is long,” and that dreams eventually come true if you can wait long enough. At least that’s what happened to me.

“Meant to be” (MTB) is a good way to think about things, I think. My granddaughter has a very nice boyfriend who is a year ahead of her in school and going off to college soon. I wrote to her that if it’s “meant to be” then, no matter what they do to mess it up, they’ll still end up together eventually. And if it’s not “meant to be,” then no matter what they do to try to stay together, it won’t work. So, they might as well enjoy their time together since it’s largely out of their hands. She agreed, I was happy to read in her note back to me. I wish that I had known more about this “MTB” perspective when I was her age!

The other thing that I noticed to my friend is that I’ve also been extraordinarily lucky about the homes I’ve managed to find throughout my adult life. Luck played a large role each time in finding: the rent-controlled 12th floor apartment on West End Ave. with a river view in New York City during graduate school; the Lexington Victorian house with herbaceous border and apple trees where the kids grew up; the Georgian townhouse in Salem on the Common when I was newly separated; the contemporary condo on Lake Quinsig where I moved in a strange town before I met G. Then, moving to our Queen Anne Victorian home which he has restored for the past couple of decades. Serendipity had mostly to do with each of these finds and life transitions, it seems to me.

At the end of our visit, I realized, really for the first time, that I’ve been LUCKY in love, (not unlucky,) having loved and been loved by three great guys for long stretches of time and that I’ve landed on my feet in environs that are just as extraordinary. That I worked my butt off in a career that was extraordinarily stressful for a very long time may have been a way of paying my dues for part of my good fortune.

Luck, good fortune and “meant to be” were combined in my life as it unfolded. Thanks to any and all Helpers in the Universe for providing for me along this Unknown Way. Many…many…thanks.

home again . . .

I’ve been visiting family who live in Minneapolis and have been away from home for a few days.

It’s been a time to get to know each other better, the little one playing with me on these last days rather than playing by herself in my presence.

Connection is an intangible spark, her eyes lighting up when she sees me after a nap. When I speak to G. on my cellphone, Josie listens intently to his voice and says softly, “hi, wa-wa.” After we hang up, she picks up the paw of her new stuffed puppy dog and waves goodbye at the cell phone, now still. These heart-filled moments float by like the flicker of light from lightning bugs on a soft, warm evening.

Life is indeed long, I think to myself, when we experience moments of sweet innocence and tender gestures of love by so young a spirit. Or maybe her spirit is wiser than her years.

We seem to go through many phases of our lives: starting out in a small place, wanting a bigger one, expanding and taking on more responsibilities and financial burdens. Then wanting to simplify, downsize and be in a smaller place again. The tide ebbs and flows along with our wishes and desires as time goes by. Health and illness also come and go. If we are fortunate, (and luck has a lot to do with how we fare along it seems,) we may live long enough to be in a soft place where children show us fundamentals we have forgotten about, or might never have had ourselves. 

We make our own homes, wherever we happen to be. And I am glad to be returning to mine today even though I am leaving this sweet girl. It’s a good time to celebrate that slice of innocent joy when I return to my own place, home again.

a home . . .

Truth be told, one of my vices is magazines. Not such an expensive addiction, but one that I have confessed to for a long time. It’s probably not as costly as shopping for shoes or something like that. Here is what magazines do for me: they take me to a very different place. Australia, for example, where the culture of the place and people are captured within a magazine, a journal of a place and time, so to speak. I have been clipping pictures and articles, recipes and wish-list items for years and pasted them into my commonplace journals. When I look at these large spiral-bound treasure troves of what I was thinking about in those days, it is astonishing to observe how much has realized itself, or become part of my life, almost without my knowing when it might have occurred.

Today, I was looking at a couple of Australian magazines saved from 2009. There were so many bits of inspiration. Can’t wait to start filling my new blank book that has been sitting around for just the right Read the rest of this entry »