Thursday, December 19, 2013

Winter Solstice Poem (my actual favorite)

Each winter solstice, I put together a "Solstice Sack" to celebrate one of my favorite holidays and to remind all of us New Englanders that the light will return.

This year, my favorite poem didn't make the Sack, as it could be construed as a death poem and I don't want to make the kiddos cry:)  It was the best one, however:

Lines for Winter

Tell yourself
as it gets cold and gray falls from the air
that you will go on
walking, hearing
the same tune no matter where
 you find yourself--
inside the dome of dark
or under the cracking white
of the moon's gaze in a valley of snow.
Tonight as it gets cold
tell yourself
what you know which is nothing
but the tune your bones play
as you keep going. And you will be able
for once to lie down under the small fire
of winter stars.
And if it happens that you cannot
go on or turn back and you find yourself
where you will be at the end,
tell yourself
in that final flowing of cold through your limbs
that you love what you are.
                                                                        Mark Strand

Winter is a happy time up here in the North!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

State of the Union

You know how presidents feel compelled to address the nation about the state of the union?  How far we have to go to achieve social justice, universal healthcare, and global warming?  I feel the same way about turning 50.  Compelled to share my wisdom, plead for unity in my house of representatives, and set a course for the next few years.  Turning 50 feels quite different than the other landmark years.  I have no urge to get a tattoo, move to Nepal, or take up paddle boarding.  I still may do all of those things but in a more peaceful manner.  Out with the wolf on the bicep, in with the OM mantra so I can still chant when I lose my memory.

It's nice to be past the mid-life crisis point and on to the spiritual crisis point in my trajectory.  My big move will not be to dye my hair, pierce some parts, and lose a few pounds.  My big move is to continue to move inward.  Talk less, judge less, care less.  Just realizing for the first time the connection between "careless" and "care less".  Pay attention to subtleties .  Luckily, I married well for that one.

Appreciate the mortality of my parents, and everyone.  It is all so fleeting.

I am proudest of my relationships.  My family.  My  friendships reflect well on me (for having the good sense to pick them).  The people in my life rock in all kinds of amazing ways.  They write and teach and solve equations and make music and art and history.  They protest and help those without much power.  They all have integrity and courage and that is how I have those things.  At 50 you know that you draw strength from people who put the shopping carriages back and do what they say they are going to do.  People who forgive and show compassion, even when it hurts one's own pride to do so.

At 50, I'm hanging on to the physical side of myself because I have young kids and because I want to keep moving forward.  I have learned that I can still run with the Navy ROTC guys for the first mile in a 5K and then I will nurse a groin injury for 2 months after that fleeting 7:45.  2 months and counting, actually.  Pace yourselves:)

These are the things I think my younger  friends need to find:  yoga, a supportive bra, a favorite poet, good pressed powder, a compassionate pediatrician (if applicable) and one good joke.  It just has to be funny to you.......I was addicted to the Hokey Pokey, but I turned it all around.

So this is me at 50.  Proud of who I am, where I'm from and most of all....who I love.  Peace to you all!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013


We have been in a frenzy over here preparing for Thanksgiving, hosting Thanksgiving, and storing 3 gravy boats from Thanksgiving.  It was an amazing day and I may do it again someday.  Nobody got food poisoning, so that increases our chances.

While we were turning the office into a dining room, I had to go through piles of papers, books, and detritus.

I found an old dog-eared copy of Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh.  Married to an alleged Nazi sympathizer, first born kidnapped and murdered and yet out of that pain came such a beautiful and elegantly written gift to women.  Following on the heels of Thomas Merton's The Seven Storey Mountain, it was a welcome balm:

     With a new awareness, both painful and humorous, I begin to understand why the saints were rarely married women.  I am convinced it has nothing inherently to do, as I once supposed, with chastity or children.  It has primarily to do with distractions.  The bearing, rearing, feeding, and educating of children; the running of a house with its thousand details; human relationships with their myriad pulls--woman's normal occupations in general run counter to creative life.......It is more basically:  how to remain whole in the midst of the distractions of life; how to remain balanced, no matter what centrifugal forces tend to pull one off center; how to remain strong, no matter what shocks come in at the periphery and tend to crack the hub of the wheel.

I need to revisit some of her wisdom as I enter the holiday Tsunami season.  My hub is not cracked but it seems to be veering off the road on occasion.

Of all the books to reappear, this one is truly serendipitous.  As my darling children scream and throw socks at each other, in an inescapable game they play daily called "Stinky Feet", I give a silent prayer of thanks for the wise women who carved out enough time to pass on their wisdom.