We talk over the old bones of the past,
The way people sitting beside a campfire
Take a stick and poke the dying embers of flame
Licking the last log-remnants
Burning in the night air of endings.
We sigh over how it makes sense now
The scenarios once locking us all in blindness
Show themselves clear and sparkling
As light dancing on water
Their jagged-edged episodes
Blistering clear in the light of passed time.
It is how a mother and daughter pick through the past
Of a husband, father, grandfather – his absence
Like a leaf we hand back and forth
Turning it over and over again
Examining its veins and edges and discolorations —
As if this examining will somehow tell us
What made it turn loose and drop from the tree.
Hello Beautiful Creatives,
I need you! I need your talent!
The world needs you! The world needs your talent!
We Creatives share a cutting-edge vision, a specific energy and enthusiasm, and a way of seeing the world and life that is desperately needed during these difficult times. I would like to give you a sacred space to speak in and the opportunity to speak — in whatever medium you call your own; be it art, poetry, writing, music — and so here we go … it’s an Open Call!
If you’d like to know who in the world I am – check out my artist bio above for all those official details. Or, read through some of these blog posts if you just want to get a feel for me. If you’d like to see other artists and writers and work I like– go check out poetryisaverb.wordpress.com. I post occasionally on here and I read and select pieces off the web at random and by my gut — if I like it, on it goes!
Currently, I’m working on a slick-glossy style lit mag/art mag/mindfulness style quarterly. This will be a print publication and I hope to have the first print run ready to go by Winter 2020. I’d like to invite you to join me!
If you have an interest in further details, or in being included or having your work included on Poetry is a Verb (also on Facebook as Poetry is a Verb!), then simply drop me a note on here or you can email me at Marissamullinsphotography@gmail.com for more details and so we can chat!
I look forward to hearing from you and to our Co-Creative efforts!!
Much Love & Blessings to All,
I have spent the last few days watching the situation in Japan like most other people in the world. It is a horrible, unthinkable disaster of Biblical proportions.
The loss of life, property damage, and overall destruction to the country of Japan is more than we can truly understand or conceptualize at this point. What can be said in the face of such horror? Truthfully, very little. All we can do is pray, offer our condolences and blessings, and provide whatever financial and humanitarian assistance is needed.
The New York Times provides satellite imagery of before and after in Japan. These pictures leave one speechless and stunned to the point of meditative grief.
I have nothing new to add to this situation. I simply want to join the chorus of voices that are praying for the people and the country of Japan.
The New York Times slides can be viewed here.
- Celebrities Voice Support For Japan (divamission.wordpress.com)
- Facebook Prays for Japan (penn-olson.com)
- Celebrities React on Twitter to Japan Quake and Tsunami (abcnews.go.com)
“How poor are they that have not patience! What wound did ever heal but by degrees?” ~William Shakespeare
It’s difficult to find the creative energy necessary for good writing during illness. Or, at least it is for me. So, during the past two weeks of stressful health issues, my mantra has been “no writing is better than bad writing” and I’ve stayed away from the keyboard for a bit.
I received good news from the surgeon this week that back surgery shouldn’t be necessary just yet. Instead, I’m having epidural nerve blocks done where the disc is torn and possibly minor outpatient surgery to clip another nerve that’s tangled in with the disc and arthritis. The first nerve block is scheduled for the end of this month. Overall, it’s been good news and I’m deeply happy that major surgery isn’t necessary!
I’m pleased with my orthopaedic doctor (he’s much nicer than the surgeon) and appreciate how open he was to working with me to develop a treatment plan I’d be happy with. Now, if I can just get the bronchitis to go away … another problematic area of late due to allergies to my pets (2 dogs, a cat, and a rabbit) and exposure to so many sick people at my job (dealing with 25 people a day and whatever germs they bring in the door)!
Patience, patience, patience. Yes, I know.
Another Sunday is sliding into its ending. It will become an event, a moment, in past tense in just a few short hours.
Hopefully, we have spent the time well – making our music with whatever unique, creative gift we possess. Writing poetry, speaking encouraging words to loved ones, knitting a scarf, painting a picture, writing a letter or journal entry, or playing a flute.
I am still a product of the time in which I was raised – Sunday remains a Holy day to me whether I attend church that week or not. It’s a time for quiet, introspection, reflection, and artistic musings. I love the deep vibration the day holds within itself.
There is a certain sadness as I watch the clock hands move and the minutes tick by… as if I am saying goodbye to a lover I completely adore. And, like the essence of that lover, I hold Sunday in my deepest self as I get ready to meet Monday in the week ahead.
Lovers, forget your love
And list to the love of these
She a window flower
And he a winter breeze …
It is beautiful outside my window. The Queen of Winter is present – huge flakes of snow tumble across the sky, tree limbs are holding a treasure of white on their branches, and the ground is a carpet of crystal. It has been snowing since deep in the night – a five-inch layer that’s still growing.
This day and this snow are acceptable – reminding me of snow days as a child when it was a treat to miss school, snuggle under blankets, and drink hot cocoa.
I didn’t sleep well last night. Too many thoughts, voices, memories coiling through my mind. The replay of my yesterdays filled with happiness, sadness, confusion. It was a long night of restless searching in an unfortunate land.
It is a land I know, one that has been waiting for my arrival – a conversation with an old friend earlier in the week; yesterday spent in quiet review, pouring over old journal entries and falling, tangled in a mixture of heated emotions and dissonance of spirit.
I am always searching for answers in their various forms. A journalistic flaw, I suppose, always trying to answer the Who, What, When, Where, and Why questions of life. The Why always being the most dominant!
Lately, some long-held Why questions have grown into their answers. It is a deeply bewildering experience even though I’ve known the answers forever.
The power of words is stunning. and though the answer may be known, it holds a different power when it’s spoken aloud. That’s when it becomes real! It now lives ghost-like and shimmering in the light of day. It is a haunting presence that can never be unspoken out of being.
These are the dream-images of realization and epiphany where poems are born. They grow from that place of answers and play through my mind for hours, speaking loudest in the dark moments before sleep comes. Oh, such clear lines and perfect stanzas showing up when I am too tired to get out of bed and write them down!
I want to believe in the pictures I paint for myself: of people, life, feelings, and reality. As if, somehow, in the magic of believing it to be I can create it being. The falsity of this approach becomes clearer to me as I grow older. Most things cannot be dreamed and wished into a better truth – they exist in the reality that is them without magical influence playing a role in the game.
“What matter that the magic doesn’t work?” I have no perfect image of completion in my mind, only small perfect moments I would like to possess.
The truth of what things are and the lessons that stem from that probably have more value overall than the perfections I dream of engineering. Still, it may be that the poet must have an element of believing, a magical perspective that defies logic, in order to see the details that become poems.
Artistry is never about the normal, run-of-the-mill experience. It is always about experiencing that and then transcending it. It is the vision stemming from transformation that speaks to the poet and in the poem.
To see more artwork by Ida Larson, please visit her gallery at Epilogue.net
“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious.” ~Albert Einstein
I love the mysterious aspects of life and am a believer in signs, portents, omens, and the like. I’m sure this tendency comes partly from the artistic side of my nature and partly because the grandfather that raised me was part Native American. I lived with my grandparents from the time I was 3 until I was 11. During those years I learned a lot of uncommon things – I could trap and skin rabbits, I could shoot a shotgun at a very young age, I knew the names of plants and trees, understood the difference between poisonous berries and those safe to eat, and learned to make sassafras tea from sassafras roots dug in of the woods.
Those years were an uncommon and delightful period in my life. A bright time that would preface the much darker years that followed. That time period also created a certain view of my place in and interaction with the world around me. I came to believe that God and nature speak to us in many ways – through signs, intuition, omens, and various levels of unconscious perception. This “sense” of belief in other (in all its various forms) remains with me today.
As a young child I was told stories of animal spirits or animal guides and was certain (due to my fondness for them) that my animal guide was a wolf. I appreciated the uniqueness of wolves, their sad mournful cries, the abject loyalty, and the fact that they mated for life. An interesting, lovely animal across the board. However, as certain as I was of their guidance as a child, and as much as I liked them, something started changing as I reached adolescence. I started dreaming about a white tiger with blue eyes.
The tiger was always with me, but doing nothing in particular – just present in a reassuring way. I would wake with the dream so fresh and real in my mind – the tiger stretched out and me curled up against him. There was a sense of strength and wildness about the creature. Still, I always felt that I was safe with him. In fact, I have never felt safer and more protected in my life than in those dreams sleeping beside my blue-eyed tiger.
The tiger dreams were a normal part of my life for 21 years. I puzzled over them a great deal during that time. I read numerous dream interpretation books and many psychology books and dream-cognizant behavior theories. None of these offered a satisfactory logical explanation, nor did they describe any particular form of insanity in which this dream was a prevalent symptom (because, yes, I was starting to wonder about sanity!). There were no answers readily available – just the breathing animal beside me in my dreams, warm and silent.
Now, allow me to clarify for all the psych majors out there – I never dated anyone with blue eyes during those years. Didn’t have an unfulfilled crush on a blue-eyed guy, or any of those normal dream-prompting scenarios. In fact, the tiger presence in my dreams had a wholly different essence than anyone I’d ever met. Unique and complicated in its energy, but soothing in a way totally alien to me.
And then, the dreams stopped during a very difficult time in my life. It struck me as really unusual at the time, because normally the presence was more dominant during times of hardship. The last time I dreamed of my tiger was almost three years ago – the day before I got on a plane and flew to Dallas to start work with a sales group. What hadn’t made sense for 21 years was perfectly clear a mere 24 hours later.
My tiger was a premonition of change: a time to come, a place I would find, and a person I would meet. I would know the eyes and the presence immediately. The mystery of what that means in my life remains a mystery still. I believe the world and God speak to us in so many subtle and shocking ways – beneath the obvious is a deep, flowing current of mystery that moves with us and carries us. Sometimes, the answer is just another question.
Why was I shown something for so many years that was so far away? I believe it was so I could recognize and understand when it arrived without fear and misconception. It was a pivot-point in my life and the deeper parts of self. I have changed drastically in many ways since then. I have a deeper understanding of the danger and the beauty that co-exists in our world and in our deepest selves. I understand that some emotions defy explanation and logic, and yet have a greater meaning in the larger fabric of life – the smallest moments shared can enrich us and change us in profound ways.
The tiger of my youth doesn’t visit my dreams anymore, but his voice still speaks in my heart. He remains a great and wonderful mystery in my life.
I’ve never been the type of person to make New Year’s Resolutions. I prefer to spend New Years Eve reviewing and evaluating the year that’s ending. I am always looking for growth – what did I learn in the past 365 days? I’m also looking at myself to see if I’ve become a more complete person in some way or if I simply spent the year dormant and uninspired.
Taking time to reflect on the past 12 months of life provides perspective and allows me to consider the path ahead. I usually do this in a new, fresh-leather handwritten journal – a clean white page, a ritual of sorts. I’m adding a new ritual this year – the Compulsory New Year Blog Entry. Who have I been and who am I becoming as the year transitions?
I have no major complaints of 2010. My formal career in the car business has been productive. Promotions, pay raises, hitting benchmarks, gaining insight and expertise, and facing new challenges with patience and courage have occurred. I’ve reached a place of quiet assurance and confidence in myself and my abilities.
My personal relationships (with husband, kids, grand babies, family, friends) are all flowing smoothly, happy and on track. No major issues there to contend with which is absolutely wonderful!
I resumed my informal career as an artist in 2010 – making time for writing, completing a poetry collection, and planning a new online magazine project for the coming year. I have been a writer longer than I’ve been anything else in my life and it feels good to be back at the keyboard playing with words. It’s a homecoming for my deepest self.
There have been sad and stressful moments in the mix. I miss certain friends a great deal and realize they are lost to me in some odd way – our time together past and the new of life demanding its place now. It has been a year of strange, internal goodbyes – to people and places I will likely never see again, to old beliefs and misconceptions, and to dreams and childish indulgences that have grown dim in the light of a new future. The old pieces of Self wasting away tend to make a fuss about it – the old us we leave behind screams “don’t go” as we walk away.
These are the personal changes in self during 2010 that most surprised me:
* I realize how much quieter I have become in all areas of my life and aspects of my being. Silence, in myself and the world around me, is something I’ve learned to treasure.
* Mourning over the absence of others from my life (due to death or distance or less intimacy than I’d wish) was a dominant part of my emotional journey during 2010. I lingered in deep, sad places of remembrance, wishing, regretting, and eventually letting go during much of the year.
* I returned to my writing with a totally different concept of myself and my work. I have a new sense of peace and understanding about myself as an artist and about my work as art. It’s as if a last puzzle piece fell into place when I wasn’t paying attention. The picture is clear, crisp, and vibrant now.
* I am experiencing life as a “now” experience more than ever before. The past has drifted into misty realms and the future is a shinning cloud – I am living in the moment with an odd sense of calm and contentment even on the rough days. I love this new state of simply being.
So, with remembrances of the lessons and gratitude for the gifts and good fortune – and deep appreciation for all the many blessings – goodbye 2010!
The new year starts as a clean, blank page. We can write our story however we choose. I hope to write in bright, beautiful strokes of vivid ink this year. I hope you do the same. Happy New Year!
It’s lovely outside with the fresh snow blanketing the yard and covering tree branches. Our first snow on Christmas Day in many years according to the weather man. It was a busy, but wonderful Christmas filled with good food and much fun for everyone. Today has been quiet and peaceful after all the festivities. A good day for reflection and introspection, and a perfect time for recognizing and appreciating all the blessings in my life. It’s also a good time for general musings….
My Mom’s birthday is tomorrow (Happy Birthday, Mom!) She’s getting pretty ancient now…oops, wait, sorry… 🙂 My mom and I have always had a difficult relationship. We’re both very headstrong, independent people and that makes for fiery exchanges at times. We do love each other even if we seldom agree on any one point. And, we do grow more in peaceful acceptance of each other as we grow older. We are not the average mom and daughter kind of people, but I think we’re both okay with that – neither of us are really “average” people anyway! We have found a relationship that works for us and we’re intimately a part of each others psyche and lives as we both mature and age. One thing we have always shared – and that she helped foster in me – is a love of books, writing, and learning.
My earliest memories of my Mom necessarily include books, journals, and letters because they are such a deep part of who she is. I was reading my Mom’s old books, magazines, and teen journals long before we really developed a relationship with one another. Mom was always an avid reader and writer. (You can read some of her work here and here.)
Reading and writing opened new educational and social avenues for me. I was brought up writing to pen-pals all over the country because Mom had pen-pals everywhere. I wanted to be like her and she allowed me that. It was a wonderful experience and helped broaden my view of the country and the people in it at a very young age. I also learned to read way above my grade level in school because she was willing to let me read books with censorship or restriction. I can still remember how happy I was when she signed the card for the town Librarian allowing me to check out “grown-up” books. I had just finished reading all the books they had for my age group (of course, it was a tiny library in a very small town!). For years, whenever I moved to a new town, the first thing I would do was find the local library and get a library card. I understood that books changed lives, opened the door to possibilities and growth, and provided wonderful entertainment…and the library meant anyone had this opportunity regardless of income or ability to purchase books. I remain an avid supporter of libraries and free books and reading programs for children to this day. That is due, in large part, to my Mom.
Mom also opened the doors to the joy of bookstores and the wonder of ETV/PBS to us. I still miss the local, private owned, “Pic-a-Book” store we frequented as a child. It was a wonderful maze of books on shelves, magazines and books stacked in piles on the floor – an absolute literary oasis! I still have happy, warm memories of our visits there! I miss Pic-a-Book, but I’m glad to see the new Hub City Bookstore filling in that sad absence for our community. ETV/PBS is another gift from Mom – I KNOW everyone in our family knows who Carl Sagan was and what he did! Old habits die hard, and I still watch PBS more often than all my other channels. Thanks, Mom.
My Mom helped me grow past the limitations of class and poverty that marked my childhood. She gave me a map for the road ahead, a way to transcend the limitations of circumstances and place…her love of reading, writing, and learning new things has been passed down through several generations now. The great-granddaughters are intelligent and precocious. Lauren, at age 6, reads everything in front of her – road signs, ad circulars, menus, building signs, the N-S-E-W of the compass on my rearview mirror (we’re going N grandma, we’re going North!). I just want to say Thanks for the gift Mom. I love you and I hope you have wonderful Birthday!
~~Celia Thaxter,The Nestling Swallows.
It is almost midnight and the house is quiet. Michael went to bed hours ago and left Boo-Boo the cat with his chair. Taz, my Cocker Spaniel, is sleeping on my feet while Lex, my Lab, claims the rug near the Christmas Tree. Even Mr. Jitters, the rabbit, is sleeping silent in his cage.
This is an exquisitely beautiful moment to me. I adore this quiet peace in the dark of night when all the noise of daily living settles hushed for a few hours. I can feel my heartbeat start to slow and my stress-level begin to ease. I am able to breathe in the calmer essence of true life in this time of whispered darkness. I am uncommonly whole and content as I think about Christmas and my family.
I am looking forward to Christmas Day after a month of chaos and fatigue. My children, their spouses, and all four grandchildren will be here. My siblings plan to come if possible. I’m the eldest of four and it is seldom that we all get together. We’ve each had our own spouses, children and work schedules to contend with for years now. I hope both my brothers are able to come – if so, that makes four, and it will be our first Christmas spent together in many, long years.
Time has a way of slipping past you while you’re busy with the act of living. I love my sister and brothers dearly, but have not been as good about showing it in recent years. Sadly, the lack of attentiveness toward them is due to my flighty nature and isolationist behavior. It isn’t due to lack of love or caring for them. I just tend to get lost in me and whatever mission or project has captured my passion – the next thing I know, five years, ten years have passed. It’s an odd quirk of my personality that I recognize without knowing how to mend. (I tend to think it’s just some strange artist thing!) All the while, time moves without mercy and we all grow older and more distant from one another.
I can still remember the first time I looked into the crib at my brother, David. In memory he is the little kid arguing with me and my sister over which cartoons to watch each day at four o’clock; and then the pre-teen who went with us on vacation to Florida; and then the teenager outrunning the cops in his newest hot-rod down the back dirt roads of town – laughing and bragging, and doing it just because he could! He suffered through endless hours of “playing school” with me and my sister before he ever started kindergarten (but, he has always been extremely smart). He was a sweet, smart, good-natured kid that was kind to everyone around him. I can still see him riding around town with my aunt and uncle, especially during his fluffy–80’s hairdo period, laughing and joking. He is now a grown man in his 30’s, with three grown children, a wonderful wife, and his own trucking company. I am very proud of him, of how intelligent he is, and his determination to make his way in the world on his terms.
My baby brother, Chris, is even younger. I can still see him sleeping in his crib, covered in chicken-pox spots. Such a sweet baby, so sick, and yet dealing with the pain and “feel bad” without very much screaming and crying. I held him, changed diapers, played “little mama” to him for a time before I got married. I remember him as that cute baby, as the little bright-eyed child who wanted to hold my babies when they were born, as the teenager who hand-made me a writing desk, and as an older teen and young adult going through his rough patches like the rest of us. He’s had more than his share of hard times, and, like his oldest sister, is usually his own worst enemy. He’s doing great in his life now though – he has a wonderful fiance that truly loves him and a wonderful son. Chris has been strong and courageous, doggedly fighting his way through the dark days into the sunny ones. I’m very proud of who he’s become and all that he’s accomplished.
My sister, Mandi, is definitely coming for Christmas dinner. We’re close in age and have a unique bond that can only be called sisterhood. We have fought and hated each other with a passion through the years, but that was just the negative, childish side of the great love we feel for one another. We are as opposite as night and day, but exist together as the moon and sun. We would be lost if the other one wasn’t there. I have been given a rare gift in my sister that I thank God for often – she is the one person on earth who I trust with all my heart. I know that she has always and will always be a person who will love me and help me no matter what happens. I hope she knows she has that same gift in me. We will always be those little girls playing dress up and wearing high-heels to school without permission, the person on the other end of the phone when one of us needs to celebrate or cry, the one holding onto the rope that binds us during terrible fears and periods of pain…never letting go.
It’s amazing how much your vision changes in 30 years. I used to get so fed-up with being the “oldest” when we were growing up. It always meant looking after the “younger ones” and taking care of them while mom and dad were at work or busy. And the answer to “why” was always because you’re the oldest – I thought it was a pretty unfair punishment back in the day! Yet, here we are, thirty years later and the “younger ones” are all grown up. I sit here in the quiet darkness, sift through the memories from all those years ago, consider the good people my siblings have turned out to be and I realize how blessed I have been. I am grateful now for those times: the fun and the fights, the aggravation and the sharing, the craziness and the sanity. I am very proud of the people they’ve all become and I feel privileged to have watched it and been a part of it from the beginning. Merry Christmas Mandi, David, and Chris. I love you!
Coming to Be
From infinite longings
finite deeds arise. . .
But in these dancing tears,
what is often withheld can be found:
~~ Rainer Rilke, Book of Images
Ironically, I still return to Rainer Rilke during times of sadness. Maybe all poets do. His words always provide a healing balm of faith and comfort no matter the momentary pain or struggle. They come from a heart stronger, calmer, and more loving than mine. Thus, he has been my favorite poet and writer for over 20 years now.
It is winter and cold again. Those who know me realize it is my least favorite time of year. But, I do grasp the truth that Winter is necessary for renewal, both in the seasons of our natural world and the seasons of our deepest selves. It is necessary for things to die, to be reborn. That is such a continuous theme in nature and life. The dying still saddens me even though necessary and the cold is an enemy I’m unable to make peace with.
I am so much a sun and light person — I think it is that side of me, the childlike love of light and living, that makes me identify with children so well. I can understand that glorious happiness in being a child simply living, running through the room screaming and playing with crazy delight. I seem to lose a little more of that part of me as I grow older and mature into an “adult” (my rebellious side still hates that word!); but, no doubt, I still love just Being, Playing, Laughing so much! It’s the best part of life and I miss it as it ebbs away.
Life has been busy and full lately, but not bad. Some stressful stuff here and there —
Health-Wise: I am having a difficult time with my back and am probably looking at back surgery within the next 6 weeks or so. It’s a truth I’ve been avoiding and trying to “will” my way past (we all know how stubborn I can be), but I’ve lost reflex and use in my legs to some degree now, and am having trouble walking – so, finally had to go see the doctor. I’ll have an MRI in 2 weeks and we’ll see what happens.
Truthfully, I’m more worried about the time out of work than anything. I have a vacation week to use and temporary disability, but that’s nowhere near the income I’m used to having…I figure I must have the operation and get back to work within 2 weeks! Sure, of course I can do that! How impossible could it be, right? And, of course, I’ve been bitching for months about being tired of the car business and wishing I could go back to writing full-time…I get nervous some moments about God’s sense of irony – don’t want Him to answer that request in a way I don’t want of course! Picky about how we want our prayers answered, are we not?
Work: Well, as unlikely as it seemed to me a few years ago, the move back to my home town has brought more career success than I expected. It’s actually been a good year for me at work. I’ve finally made it to Sales Manager for a store…a position I’ve wanted and felt best suited for all along after three years as a sales manager in the cemetery industry. I’m only the 2nd female Sales Manager this auto group has had in their 50+ years of business. I’m pleased with that, and very happy they’ve given me the opportunity they have. I enjoy the work and am having success in the position. My team has pulled together and grown stronger due to weekly training and interaction with them, we’ve moved 50% of the old-age units we had when I stated, and gross has been running double what it was last year. So, not really wanting to take too much sick-time and lose what ground I’ve gained.
Children: We’ve spent the last three weeks helping my daughter and son-in-law renovate the house they’re moving into this weekend. They had to move due to family drama, totally unexpected (the other mother-in-law died last year, and father-in-law decided to remarry and let the bank have the houses and land back! Out with the old… Yep, it’s been a true redneck nightmare for months!) Anyway, my ex-husband helped them find a nice place and I agreed to help with remodeling and getting them moved in.
My daughter, the Grandkids, and I picked out great paint colors and have been painting the 4 bedroom house, scraping off old wallpaper, pulling up old carpet to put down new, etc, etc. All with the help of the two granddaughters, ages 6 and 3! We let Lauren, my oldest granddaughter, pick out her own paint colors…a bright, vivid pink and a cream (luckily, we talked her into one pink wall and three cream walls – it’s still bright though). She’s thrilled with her room and so excited! It’s been a project – grandma has rolled more walls and painted more trim…so much for re-painting my bedroom this year–think I can live with the current colors a while longer!
The house is looking really nice though. We hope to finish the trim work, lay the remaining carpet and wood flooring, and finish painting the kitchen this Sunday – then they can start moving in. Of course, nothing can ever be that easy —
Brandi called me Tuesday morning to tell me she and the 3-year-old were stranded on the side of the road (another long two-day ordeal followed)…the engine block in her car cracked due to the cold. Geez, how am I gonna get that to fit under the Christmas tree!Thankfully, my son plans to help me out in that department ( getting the engine and putting it in the car, NOT putting it under the tree). He was even sweet enough to let her borrow his car until we can get hers repaired. So, we are pulling together and making it work, finding the solutions as we go – that’s the wonderful thing about family. I do so love my children and grandchildren, and I’m always happy that we have each other to hold onto when life gets tough.
Life: And life does get tough, doesn’t it? It rips you to pieces and rebuilds you numerous times before you die. It’s the buffing stone that makes us shine, shows us who we really are, pushes us into who we can be. It’s the rock that sharpens us into a valiant, gleaming sword. I try to think of my journey that way – of myself as being in the process of learning to shine brighter, of being polished to gleaming beauty by all that is happening to me and within me.That view of my Being tends to take me to a place of understanding, acceptance, and great calm. Sometimes, I lose my way, can’t grasp that greater distant perspective and it all becomes too personal…the last few days have been like that. I realized today that it just means I’m standing too close to myself, that I’ve fallen into the abyss of my emotions and lost my focus. It happens…
An unexpected phone call, a new decision or crises to consider, a comment or thought, the voice of a loved one — then, Bam! I’m lost in the emotion or the confusion or the belief that it’s personal. In some ways life is the truly perfect oxymoron – it is at once both totally impersonal and intimately personal. I have to remind myself to take a step back and breathe sometimes. It WILL all be okay, or it will at least be what is my destiny, and I will come to the end of things polished and shinning like sunshine. What a great thought!
I am trying to follow Rilke’s advice to “live the questions themselves” because I’m not yet ready for the answers. Maybe the questions are all that truly ever exist, and the answers are just an illusion we dream toward.
“You said live out loud, and die you said lightly,
and over and over again you said be.
~~ Rilke, You Said “Live”, The Book of Hours, I9
My son and I are so much alike. When we have conversations, or disagreements, it’s like having an “out loud” conversation with myself. Born on the same day in almost the same hour – we both have two extreme sides to our personalities, a shared quality. When we fuss with one another, we are like the same soul split four ways – arguing! No wonder I get tired so fast when we disagree – and we’re both so very stubborn!
I love my son dearly. I do wonder sometimes whether him being so much like me is a good or bad thing for him though. We both tire easily lately – a few yelled words, a little argument, then we walk away (usually each stubborn for about the same length of time) not talking for a few hours or days. Then, we’re fine. Talking as if nothing ever happened – we understand each other in that way – we both know its hard for twin-like personalities to get along all the time! We each make concessions in our mind ruled by our hearts – me for the younger version of me, him for the older version him.
My daughter reminds me of the calmer side of my nature. She has me in her as well, but in a quieter, stronger, purposeful way. She attends to things, looks out for those she loves, and provides safety for those weaker. She’s really grown into a wonderful and intelligent young woman – and a great mom. She is steady and crystal clear like a deep, white river over rocks.
My daughter isn’t as emotional and flighty as me or her brother. We tend to take crazy, unexpected left-hand turns in life. She takes right-hand turns, gives a signal, and slowly moves into the turn lane (speaking metaphorically, of course, because she really scares the crap out of me with her driving – I just keep waiting for her to take down one of those mailboxes she loves to fly by at with only an inch to spare!).
My daughter reminds me of my Mema(paternal grandmother) in her manner at times. The quiet strength will become that, I think. At 26, she still has a little teenage-redneck side occassionally…but that’s almost totally disappeared. The two girls, my granddaughters, are growing their mom up just fine!
So…how exactly did I end up doing math all day, every day, as a career??? I really dislike math and am an “English” person. It always strikes me as terribly strange that I ended up as a Finance Manager! Still pondering this…
I bought me a newer car this week. An Audi A6. It’s a Quattro – big reason for the purchase…now I can drive *safely* in the snow this year, if it snows this year – which I’m praying it DOES NOT!
I like the Audi. Traded in the Mercedes. Liked it too, but the Audi is a better option for now.
The problem with working in the automotive industry is that you get used to the cars…”new car smell” doesn’t even exist for me anymore. The shinny buttons, pretty paint-jobs…it all just blends after you drive and sell enough of them.
We already knew this, but I love the breakdown by Assault on the Senses. Great post, great point!
In the after-breath of the day
we render our song mute
to block creation. Out-
side the birds turn silent
to hear the crickets chorus bounce
across the dusk-struck yard
betraying the dispirited world.
©2001, Marissa Mullins
ego-separation from the letting-go
is the last phase of loss.
solemn-silence is declared.
it will not lift, can not lift
until vision clarifies.
imagine the world as a new
place created and transformed by
the without, adjusted perception
looks for meaning
submerged in the pain.
seeks solace from a fragmented spirit
that clings to us in absence.
each lost thing claims
a part of our souls
unravels the lies we hide
bare and jaggedly grieved.
the creation of losses
evolves into shards of recovery.
Stimulated by grieving
we acknowledge the mirrors
reflection of our souls love
for others.©2001, Marissa Mullins
Mule-bred defiance exemplifies
our lasting creed . . .
We will not fall!
The possum in his need to move
is destroyed by the movement . . .
We will not fall!
The legacy of Rome declares failure
for those who model her . . .
We will not fall!
Adam never considered the choice
to be that important . . .
We will not fall!
Surging rapidly toward destruction
is the one thing we do well . . .
Oh, the view from such heights!
©2001, Marissa Mullins
Regrets are bitter-bright emotional remnants that hit us with pain and sadness at each recall.
When I was younger, I ran around screaming that I would live my life in such a way as to be free of regrets. My image of the rocking chair on the porch did not have me sitting there feeling bad about the past. I perceived a more enlightened view – one in which I understood that the life I led was my own, built to create the individual I was intended to be. There was no room in the picture for sadness and regret over the past. The past was simply the pavement of the road to the future.
In that vein of thought, I quoted the catchword of the day, “Carpe Diem,” and determined that I would live bravely. I would attempt things I was sure to fail at, I would try things that seemed unusual and “not for me,” and I would be courageous when my instincts told me to fear. This philosophy led to some interesting exploits and adventures, especially during my twenties, as I rampaged through the world on my glorious mission.
But, I would “LIVE!” And, of course, I did live loudly, boldly, tenderly, and attentively for many years. I was very good about writing letters, remembering to send birthday cards, and doing minor niceties for those I knew and loved. I cooked Thanksgiving dinners for the neighbors, took in several stray and injured animals, and donated to numerous charities and worthwhile causes. I also lived vibrantly loud. My hair was the whitest-blonde available in a bottle, my magazine writing was a battle against injustice or a call-to-arms for the downtrodden, my poems spoke of grief and loss from the depths of my soul, and my relationships included people from every scale of life and living. I was trying new things, tackling new fears, overcoming old phobias, and living wide-open and unashamedly. (Dying my hair black was courageous, but BAAAD! And maybe I should have waited on the tattoo…and I probably shouldn’t have moved to Florida….) My internal fears became a propelling force moving me ever forward on the road to becoming…I was LIVING!
And, then, when I was in my late thirties, my grandmother died. It had been several years since I’d seen her. She developed Alzheimer’s disease right after our last visit. She was the second grandmother to experience the devastating disease. And, me….Miss. Courageous, I hadn’t been able to deal with the loss a second time. I had stayed away because the pain of who she had become in the illness overpowered my memories of who she’d been healthy. I needed to have the memories of the healthy, strong, wonderful grandmother she’d been. The only woman I’d ever known who I truly believed knew every answer that mattered. I lived at the other end of the state then, I was busy, life was moving forward – it was easier to pretend she was at home and life was normal for her, as it had been. She was frozen in a happy time and place in my mind.
Burying her was not as difficult as understanding that she was gone. There would never be another letter from her advising me to do the right thing and to trust God. She would never cook pigs-in-a-blanket for me again. I would never be able to drop by and talk with her about my confusion, or enjoy the beauty of her humming as we were hanging out laundry. Those things were over. In reality, they had been over for years, but they had remained a memory-possibility in my mind until the casket disappeared into the ground that rainy day.
Death has a way of ending the lies you tell yourself. It also has a way of reminding you of your own truth. I left her funeral with a sense of regret that I’d never known before. I was ashamed of my cowardice, my unwillingness to overlook my own pain to be there for her. The self-reproach was only made worse as I realized she would have forgiven me, would have understood and not been angry or hurt at my inability to see her so sick. She had a strength within that enabled her to love and forgive others unlike anyone else I’ve ever known. I was her granddaughter, my mind screamed; I should have been that strong too.
And there it was…regret.
The silence is much louder than I remember.
Words are a shrill hawker of the street promoting unwanted wares and thoughts roll in thundering reverberation across a mental landscape of water, air and mist. Time has an ebb and flow about it. The concrete solid state of things wavers – there is a stillness beyond that beckons, calls, whispers, pleads…soaks into tired bones and weary mucles, flows across the brokenness of heart, the tattered rags of ego. I have lived almost a year in this place where silence screams.
It started in a hotel room in Pryor, Oklahoma. A long day moving metal – selling cars – at another store, in another town. The idea hit me when I sat down on the bed – “I will not write again.” It was a simple, resigned understanding that washed through my mind and into my soul. Sadness followed the thought, a requiem to what writing had once been to me. And then, just a dull sense of loss and the knowledge that part of me would die with all the unspoken words. A better part of me somehow, in my estimate, a part that had believed in love, justice, and mercy. The niave world of letters and words and stories was something of my past, but I couldn’t see it as a realistic part of my future. The storyteller was saying goodbye.
The thought of never writing again was a foreign concept to me. I had been writing since I could write – my first poems where published when I was nine years old. I had spent years freelancing, achieving consistent yearly publication for 13 years. I had created and published two small-press magazines and edited writers working for me from all across the country. My most treasured possessions in life were pens, papers, and books. And I had been an avid journal keeper and letter writer all of my life. “Never writing again” would have been a funny, ridiculous concept to me prior to September 2008.
But, that night, sitting on the bed in a run-down motel, it was a concept that suddenly seemed real and logical. After all, people grow up and they change. I was about to turn 41 the next month, and I had been working 65-70 hours a week in an insane job for over four years. There wasn’t time to write anymore, and honestly, I couldn’t imagine having anything else to say. I prayed about the realization – it seemed more like that than an actual decision, and then I started thinking about all the projects I would never complete and the books that would remain unwritten. I said goodbye to the words and the person I had been when I cared so much about them.
I kissed the stories goodbye.
The Story of Two Wolves (from Ego Dialogues )
“The other wolf is beautiful and good: He is friendly, joyful, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, justice, fairness, empathy, generosity, true, compassion, gratitude, and deep VISION.”
I was talking with a co-worker this week about the works of Einstein – about a book I’m reading about his life and how his thinking developed into what became a new realm of understanding in Physics. My co-worker, an ex-attorney and current car salesman, kept giving me a mind-boggled look as if to say, “Why the hell would a car saleslady be so into physics? It just doesn’t mesh.” That odd look from people is common and normal to me now. I don’t really think much about it…why? Because I’ve come to believe in the unique complexity, the abstract opposites and elements of duality that exist in people…all people, including myself.
The people I meet no longer fit neatly into categories and sub-categories as they once did. When I was twenty it was easier. My thinking was simpler then…like the child of five…people were good or bad, mean or nice, happy or unhappy. Life has changed me, my thoughts, and my perceptions of others beyond anything I could have ever imagined. Most of the people I meet are an easily read book – compilations of various chapters and verses, mixtures of traits and opposing habits that fall outside of easy one-dimensional definitions. There are those who behave badly in general, but have a deep capacity for kindness and gentleness to those they love. There are those who are generally kind and easy to get along with, but are cruel and vicious to those most helpless and close to them. A very bad man in the eyes of many once lay next to me and told me what a good man he knew he was – there was equal truth in both observations. The mirrors around us reflect who we are in various moments – good and bad, angry and calm, broken and strong. The truth is not usually which or the other but both. Human beings are an odd mixture of duality.
So, you’re asking, where are you going with this? Well, it occurs to me that, like the parable above demonstrates, we often forget that both wolves exist within us. The story of the two wolves is really the story of being human. I like the image of the wolves for its simplicity – the wolves are always present together, always fighting, each one jostling for the top spot, seeking to be the one in control. “Which one will win?” It’s the age-old question, isn’t it? What side of us will triumph? What side of us is stronger? Truly, the answer is just so simple, isn’t it…which side are we feeding? The wolf we nourish is the wolf that leads…the winner has been fed, and fed, and fed…we have given him nourishment while the other wolf dissipates, grows weak and weary, as starvation sets in.
Let go of your worries
and be completely clear-hearted,
like the face of a mirror
that contains no images.
If you want a clear mirror,
and see the shameless truth,
which the mirror reflects.
If metal can be polished
to a mirror-like finish,
what polishing might the mirror
of the heart require?
Between the mirror and the heart
is this single difference:
the heart conceals secrets,
while the mirror does not.
The Divani Shamsi Tabriz, XIII
Love Poems of Rumi (11 May 2009)
Truth is not to be found outside. No teacher, no scripture can give it to you. It is inside you and if you wish to attain it, seek your own company. Be with yourself. — Osho
A Story from Ego Dialogues (www.egodialogues.com)
Two Traveling Angels (author unknown)
Two traveling angels stopped to spend the night in the home of a wealthy family. The family was rude and refused to let the angels stay in the mansion’s guest room. Instead the angels were given a space in the cold basement. As they made their bed on the hard floor, the older angel saw a hole on the wall and repaired it. When the younger angel asked why, the older angel replied…”Things aren’t always what they seem”. The next night the pair came to rest at the house of a very poor, but very hospitable farmer and his wife. After sharing what little food they had the couple let the angels sleep in their bed where they could have a good night’s rest.
When the sun came up the next morning the angels found the farmer and his wife in tears. Their only cow, whose milk had been their sole income, lay dead in the field. The younger angel was infuriated and asked the older angel “how could you have let this happen!? The first man had everything, yet you helped him,” she accused. “The second family had little but was willing to share everything, and you let their cow die.”
“Things aren’t always what they seem,” the older angel replied. “When we stayed in the basement of the mansion, I noticed there was gold stored in the wall. Since the owner was so obsessed with greed and unwilling to share his good fortune, I sealed the wall so he wouldn’t find it. Then last night as we slept in the farmer’s bed, the angel of death came for his wife. I gave her the cow instead. Things aren’t what they seem.” Sometimes that’s exactly what happens when things don’t turn out the way they should.
Excerpt from RAIN: A Collection of Short Stories (1999).
The gentle summer rain danced like poetry across the old tin roof of the trailer. Most of her life had been spent in trailers, or “mobile homes.” It was a fact she despised. It seemed like she would never escape the trailer parks that marked a poor person in the south. She always thought there would be a better time, a time when she’d live in a fancy house on a large, open piece of land. That was the dream inside her brain and heart so many years. The dream that pushed her further and deeper into perfectionism and goal-setting. The dream that, when it failed to materialize, pulled her backward into a spiraling depression unlike any other dark thing she’d even known.
She reached those pinnacles of success at different times. Lived in nicer apartments and even a few houses through the years, but it never seemed to last. There was always some disaster, an unexpected health issue or a job loss, which led her back to the less expensive dwellings and lower-middle-class neighborhoods.
The trailer park was its own special phenomenon. It existed under a thousand different names in a thousand different small towns, but Sasha knew the truth, it was the same creature underneath. You could always count on the basics: a drunk living down the road, rebellious teenagers wreaking destruction on nearby mailboxes, a few pedophiles and peeping toms, angry spats between the neighbors that had slept with one another’s mates, and at least a few old people relegated to the mix, usually without any family that visited – unless there was still some money to be had or a car to borrow.
Sasha (more formally, Sashuanna, an Indian name that no one could manage to pronounce correctly) realized she had become the very stereotype she’d always hated. She was now the 50-year-old, standing on the back porch of a trailer, a cigarette held between her long red nails, wondering how the hell she ended up back where she started. Luckily, she knew the bitterness that came to mind in the vision of the stereotype didn’t really belong to her. At least, not yet. She had a plan. Her lips parted in a half-smile as she thought about the future. This would end…in just a few more days, she’d say goodbye to trailer parks forever.
This is a PDF file of some published clips from 04-05. It loads slow, so have patience. Thanks.
Written December 2008
“Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake.” – Thoreau
How you have learned to play me, beautiful one.
It was in the first glimmer of green eyes, brightly-lit and seeking that you captured my attention. Sway, roll, movement like a ship undulating on the tide in harbor – a sweet, delicious turning of the mind in ecstasy as each thought creates – tension, heat, vibration, force, tenderness.
Truth hides in the raw, wet, throbbing stream of the mind…In the depths of gray darkness, where dreams come to life and distant voices scream silent wisdom inside shadowed minds – THERE, I heard your voice. Your voice speaking in its soft, deep timbre of melody and vibration near my face, against the creamy flesh of my breast, beside the slow pulse beating in my throat. I could feel your breath against my face as words came flowing like slow, tender water.
Anchored in my gray-dark sleep, I felt your words move into the depth of my hearing, roll across my skin, felt them tumble across my breasts, slip down across my stomach, to slide within the sacred places, sheathed and protected. You were so close in that moment – the warm, moist tremor of your breath across my skin as tender lips trailed…you moved through me as dew across lilies in the early morning hours. Your voice, dear one, woke me from deepest sleep with clarity.
in the Quiet (2006)
It is not unlike brokenness –
This feeling of having emptied myself
Into you, only
To find that you were already full
Unable to hold more.
I know of mistakes
That they are the “after-things”
The regrets and guilts of the next moments
Seem hidden in the times before.
I should apologize — for
The fact that you asked and received
The truth is it hurts
And that dismal pain reminds me…
I’m still breathing
It will be okay.
The world keeps moving
They keep talking
And I find in the Quiet
Moments of wonder
At the how and why of it.