Fair September: A Poem

Fair weather September often makes,
Fair friendships evolve for our sakes.

Back to school our children must go,
Digging in to learn and deeply sow.

The three R’s a good student still needs,
To accomplish great, wonderful deeds.

Rituals and routines keep them grounded,
Produces citizens- well-rounded.

Lynn M.                                       September 28, 2019

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Dear Angry Birds!

thPDT8K7E7Do you walk around upset with your lip reaching for the floor?  Perhaps you feel justified but how does it make others feel?  Are they inside of your head?  Do they know what is wrong?  Have you considered how you impact others?

Everybody is struggling with something.  It could be a broken heart, the loss of a parent, an addiction or any host of things.  Do they deserve your rude and unhappy angst? Are you threatened by your perceived loss of power?  Do you think that someone else can steal your thunder?  Do you think they can take your place?

All these notions are only going on inside of your inner self because what’s for you is for you. Period.  And guess what?  The universe always delivers on time.  If whatever you are waiting on hasn’t arrived either you are not quite ready for what you think you want, or it is not in the cards.  Your anger will not make it happen.

So, lighten up.  Give yourself a break.  Smile a little.  And please, give the world a break.  Don’t be an angry bird that attacks the innocent bystanders.  Read Desiderata by Max Ehrmann and see what really matters in life. 

And after that, take the advice from the Bee Gees and remember, that You Should be Dancing through life.  Push play and let loose.  Dance and release those bottled up emotions.  Get it all out of your system and try to become a pleasant bird!!

Lynn M.                                                                 September 21, 2019

 

 

Resilience

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What is resilience?  Think of a time when you knew you were resilient.  Did you fall apart and wonder if you could go on, yet later found yourself back in the game?  A host of debaters was recently asked to share one of their resilient moments. Some answers were clear and profound while others became lost somewhere in the middle. Reliving crises can make you veer off course.

When the onslaughts of life have taken their tolls on your mind, body and soul, it is best to simply halt and retreat.  If possible, take a self-prescribed reprieve from it all.  You can announce your own time-out and step out of the path of the fiery darts.

You may have to hunker down and rest on your laurels for a while.  The universe knows how to bring you back into alignment with the natural order of things.  One sage said, “It did not get that way overnight and it possibly will not straighten out overnight.”  It is a process.

So, during your down time, become still and wait.  Wait until you can think clearly.  Remain calm by reading, walking, sitting in the silence, listening to inspiring music and podcasts of experts who offer you hope and encouragement.

Stay busy and let the sizzle of the fires of chastisement simmer down and give them time to completely fizzle out.  Wait in secure spaces while the angry birds fly overhead searching for something to devour.  Yes, wait.  Wait until the coast is clear.

Do your own inner work by emptying your mental vessels of anguish, bitterness and disappointment. Wait inside your cozy cocoon until you have gathered your strength and your resolve to go forward. Here is a poetic suggestion for you:

                                                “Stay down; until you feel sound.”

Once your storm has passed over, peek out.  You will see the sun sitting there waiting for you to come out and dance to those new, harmonious tunes.  Now, that is being resilient!

Lynn M.                                                                                                         September 14, 2019

A Wider Lens!

 

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I recently read The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot.  I had thoroughly enjoyed Silas Marner years earlier and wanted to read another work by her.  Mary Ann Evans used George Eliot as both a disguise and pen name.  This gave her a better chance of being taken seriously as an author in the mid-1800’s.

The book is filled with shards of wisdom, but this one quote stuck with me.  It was also highlighted in my Kindle version of the novel.   It said, He, like every one of us, was imprisoned within the limits of his own nature and his education had simply glided over him, leaving a slight deposit of polish; remember that the responsibility of tolerance lies with those who have a wider vision.”  When things go awry, someone needs to have enough insight to take responsibility and help make good choices.

They could choose from this list of uplifting reminders:

  •    “You take the high road and I will take the low road.” (Loch Lomond lyrics)
  •       Be the bigger person.
  •       Turn the other cheek.
  •       Give them your cloak also.
  •       Forgive seventy times seven.
  •       Hold your peace.
  •       The more you know, the more you are responsible for.
  •       “You have to give a little, take a little. (Glory of Love lyrics)

These lyrics and aphorisms appeal to the mature ones who understand that age is just a number. The ‘mother wit’  of old souls is a  gift that has been given to those with higher visions.  They know how to move into the upper room of  thinking when faced with grave decisions. They are able to exhibit more tolerance of others as they meet life’s demands

As wise eagles, they may perch for a while and observe the disorder taking place in the valley.  After carefully assessing the situation, they can make their descent  into the fray with plans in hand. With the aperture of the lens perfectly adjusted, they succeed in making a difference while using the lightest of touches!

Lynn M.                                                                   September 7, 2019

 

The Fisher King: A Poetic Review

Oh! Ménage a’ trois,
In Gay Paree’.

A child’s prying eyes,
Combustion – but sees.

Ran away to be free.
Came back and left wanton baby.

Real family later shows up,
Stakes a claim on the pedigree.

Truths roll out about one who takes care,
Of Sonny’s grandson. She’s left with a stare.

No weapon to fight with; no plan in sight. 
After that curtain tear, no escape in the night.

Sitting still in speechless shame.
Hattie won’t have a stake on Little Sonny’s name!

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Lynn M.                                                                August 31, 2019

Meeting Paule Marshall

 

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Both Paule Marshall and Toni Morrison died within days of each other.  What a great loss for the literary world!  Both women burst onto the literary scene around the time that the curtain was being pulled back to reveal positive black images in printed books.

During the mid-1980’s, we had Alice Walker’s The Color Purple to appear along with her personal endeavors to brush the dust of the works of Zora Neale Hurston.  Thus, there was the introduction of Their Eyes Were Watching God. Then, Toni Morrison eked onto the stage with Song of Solomon, Sula, Tar Baby and a host of other works.  Maya Angelou joined the jambalaya stew with her I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and a long trail of her autobiographical books dotted the horizon.

But, around that same time, I was working as a bookseller at Waldenbooks in Memphis.  I was stocking books on the shelf one day and when I saw this one cover, I stood still.  There was a sketch of this refined black woman holding her purse with pride.  I picked up the book and read the title Praisesong for the Widow by Paule Marshall. 

Praisesong for the WidowI immediately asked the store manager if I could take it out on loan.  We could borrow books because the company understood that well- read booksellers could sell books.  Simple!  So, I rushed home that night with that book in my hand.  That was my introduction to the Author Paule Marshall!

When I finished reading it, I passed it onto my mother.  We always read the latest books together and had hearty discussions.  That was one of our enjoyments and she often accompanied me whenever I went to authors’ book signings.  We often joked and used one of the character’s lines from Praisesong for the Widow.  We imitated Thomasina Moore when she said, “Don’t get my colors up!” That meant, don’t make her angry. Oh, that book left so many indelible marks!

About ten years later, I heard that Paule Marshall would be speaking at a venue in the Chicagoland area.  We had returned to Chicago by then and my mother went with me to the event. I drove all the way from the South Suburbs to see her at ETA Creative Arts Theatre on the South Side.

When we reached the proper area, there sat Paule Marshall  with that beautiful, effervescent smile.  My mother stood to the side and said, “I just want to stand here and look at her.”  I laughed and got into the line for a book signing.

When I reached her, we had a brief talk.  I told her that I had taught her book, Praisesong for the Widow to a racially mixed college class.  Her eyes lit up.  I was telling her about the good but heated discussions that it had evoked and then someone came up and interrupted our conversation.  Poof!  The moment was gone just like she is now gone from our view. But the moments were memorable.

She will always be with us because she followed a Biblical command.  The Book of Habakkuk say, “Write the vision And make if plain on tablets, That he may run who reads it.”(2:2)  She left her footprints behind and I will always cherish both her books and being in her presence. I have also read her other works such as Brown Girl, Brownstones and Daughters.

 After her passing last week, I went on YouTube and savored a couple of recorded interviews.  I learned that Langston Hughes was her friend and mentor. Wow! She will forever be a mentor of mine.  She is forever tangible, and her warm humor will be forever etched into my psyche.  I am currently experiencing her one more time as I slowly digest one of her last books, The Fisher King.     

Lynn M.                                                                                        August 24, 2019

Trek On!

trek onThose emotions running high,
Must take time to find a sigh!

Release bottled-up feelings,
Soar again to those ceilings.

Write, converse and talk it through,
Don’t sit and roast in the stew.

Find ways of letting it go,
Trek on. Continue to grow!

 

Lynn M.                                     August 17, 2019

Peace in the Storm!

Charles Dickens starts The Tale of Two Cities by saying, “It was the best of times, the worst of times...”  It makes me think of these perilous times of major uncertainty and the importance of finding peace and centers of refuge.                       peace

Level-headedness is essential to maintaining a sense of balance as we navigate the abrupt storms on the high seas of life.  We must weather these swift changes and the use of good sound mother-wit can serve as a great aid. I often think of Rudyard Kipling’s poem, If.  He wrote:  

“If you can keep your head when all about you.   Are losing theirs and blaming it on you.”

When things seem to be spiraling out of control all around us, there is still that calm center waiting there in the midst. It would behoove us to hunker down and cleave to it with all of our might. 

Most of us have a place in our homes where we can get quiet.  We may have to minimize the use of social media and the news reports, so our clear thoughts allow our intuition to kick in and point the way.  When there is no music, no television and no silly chatter, we can get in touch with our true selves.  Our thinking crystalizes like a newly-washed drinking glass and the old, muddled ways of thinking are flushed down the drain.

Life is like walking a tight rope so we carefully place one foot in front of the other.  We don’t have the luxury of looking too far down the road to see what is coming because we could lose our equilibrium.  We must take slow, decided steps.

I read a lot because while reading, I must be still.  I am not bouncing and flitting around and spinning my wheels.  It may be an e-book or a regularly printed book but I quiet my thoughts and gain new perspectives at the same time.  I worry less and become like a lily of the field. “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin.” (Matthew  6:28)

 Cooking also defuses my anxiety.  As I chop each chip of an onion or a bell paper, clarity seeps in and  answers to my concerns trickle onto the scene.  More light is emitted, and I see things from other points of view.  Einstein said, “The problems we face today cannot be solved by the minds that created them.” Yes, it takes new mindsets to solve those old dilemmas.  

Spirit is always nudging and guiding us, but if we are distracted, we miss the directions that can help us.  When attuned, we can hear the warning signs that say, “Don’t go that way today or don’t call that person today.”  Later, we may discover that a disaster has indeed been averted because we adhered to that still, small voice.

Traveling on our personal paths is a methodical process and the Chinese proverb reminds us that, “A journey of thousand miles begins with a single step.”  Each single step can lead to more peace and greater understanding if we walk mindfully and take serene reprieves to gather our bearings and stay the course!

Lynn M.                                                                                                                   August 10, 2019

 

Catching Fireflies: A Book Review

Catching Fireflies book coverTony Rocca and his wife Mira left their London jobs and moved to Tuscany, Italy. He was a journalist and she was a travel agent, but they agreed to leave city life behind, and venture into the quaint countryside of Italy. They purchased an old farm that was in sore need of repair and love with the intent of turning it into a small hotel.

 Sounds easy enough right? Well, not really. The red tape, bureaucracy and mistrust of foreigners combined to make them think that they had made a huge mistake. They lived at another location while the repairs were being made and their landlady proved to be a thorn in their sides for many years to come. They moved into their hotel but whenever they felt that there had been some level of sabotage, they would look at each other and call the jealous woman’s name and say, “Mafalda.”

 However, they stayed the course and after going through a host of workers, they finally got the hotel up and running. There are colorful photographs in the book to show how their beloved Collelungo looked before and after its repairs. They also worked the vineyards on their property and became grape growers and sellers of fine wine. What they accomplished is just short of miraculous!

 Tony Rocca is a very descriptive writer who uses beautiful metaphors, similes and analogies as he makes his readers see and feel the Italian landscape. As I sit here listening to the late summer cicadas sing, I remember Tony writing about the sounds of the cicadas and the light from the illusive fireflies. The Italian children sang:

Firefly, firefly come to me,
I will give you the bread of the king.
The bread of the king and of the queen-
Firefly, firefly come to me.

 Interestingly, our area has an unusual amount of both cicadas and fireflies this summer. One of our local weathermen talked about watching the fireflies light up his backyard the other night and he said that we have more this year because of the rainy spring.

We used to watch the neighborhood boys catch them when I was a child. They put them in Mason jars that had holes punched in the lids so the bugs could breathe. We called them lightening bugs and it was amazing to see how they could they could turn on their lights at will.

Yet, quite like the intriguing yet short-lived fireflies, all good things must come to an end. The bureaucracy and red tape eventually caught up with the Roccas and a long-standing court case brought their Italian years to an end. They had to move on from the Collelungo, but the fond memories are forever etched in the psyches of Tony, Mira and all those that they met and touched during their twelve-year stay!

Lynn M.                     August 3, 2019

 

My Summer, Thus Far!

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I wrote a poem earlier this summer called My Staycation. It says:

‘As I watch others run to and fro,
I just sit here in quiet and know,

That in Christ’s presence, I am free.
So, I slow down, develop and be.

I seek all that He would have me do,
I sincerely listen and pursue.

Both His statutes and mission for me,
I delve deeply so that I may see.’

So far, I have spent some mornings sitting by the lake while sipping coffee and jotting down my early thoughts. At home, I continued deep breathing exercises and practiced some of my Yoga moves to enhance feelings of being grounded and centered. Deep breathing exercises remind me of Thich Nhat Hanh’s book title, “Breathe! You are alive!

Also, muting the talk shows and limiting the news have left me feeling less anxious. I have found a form of relaxing through a Word Find website. I find it rewarding as I add new words to my vocabulary, and I time myself to see how I am doing.

I saw the biopic of Elton John’s life called Rocketman at the movies. It was informative and as I wrote a movie review, I listened to his songs on You Tube. I felt his presence through his lyrics and the good memories rushed back in like a tidal wave.

But my mainstay has been reading. Francis Bacon reminds us that, “Reading makes full man; conference a ready man and writing an exact man.” Thus far, I have digested eleven books and reviewed them on both Amazon and Goodreads.

From the Victorian Era, I read Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell; Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser and The Bostonians by Henry James. They were interesting stories and I noted the various writing styles, learned new vocabulary and further understood why they are called great writers by the scholars.

On the British front, I read Constance: The Tragic and Scandalous Life of Mrs. Oscar Wilde by Franny Moyle; Hope by Terry Tyler and Lipstick by Peter Davey. The first title pretty much describes this little-known historic figure and the latter two are by current UK authors who I met on Twitter.

Back stateside, I read Clock Dance by Anne Tyler and spent time catching on Alice Walker’s later works. I have read most of her books over the years. Absolute Trust in the Goodness of the Earth and Hard Times Require Furious Dancing are collections of poetry. I took a host of notes to commit her spewing wisdom to memory. The Cushion in the Road and We are the Ones We Have Been Waiting For both encase her global speeches on a variety of topics.

It is the last weekend in July though the summer is not quite over. Those school bells will soon be ringing signaling summer’s end. But until then, there is still time to add on more memorable moments of this summer’s joy!

Lynn M.                                                                                               July 27, 2019