Thursday, August 24, 2006

Poetry Thursday - Time

When I read this week's Poetry Thursday prompt I had two poems come into my head. Interestingly enough I was transported to the two ends of my education. I remembered a poem that I learned as a song when I was small and a poem that I had to dissect line by line and word by word in university.

The dissected poem was The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. I remember thinking what a fabulous name for a poem that was. On first reading I hated the poem. In fact, on first reading in university I hated most of the poems I had to read. I was thoroughly pissed off about having to rip them apart at the seams trying to understand every little nuance. I was idealistic and romantic. I wanted to let poetry, "drip from our tongues like honey." (Dead Poets Society) But I found that as I learned more and more about the poems, I liked them more and more. I liked knowing the references and understanding the era in which they were written. This was one of the poems that struck me. By the time we finished studying it, I could read it and hear the swishing of the gowns, the fading, the passage of time. I loved it because I understood it.

The second poem that came to my head was My Grandfather's Clock. The funny thing about this one was when we learned it in primary school, we didn't study it at all. We learned it as a song. Looking it up today I realized that we only learned the good-parts version. No tearing this poem apart to learn and understand. No looking to see what the poet was doing with the passage of time. Instead we sang exactly two verses and two choruses. We ignored the parts about servants and about him properly dying. As far as our young lives were concerned he got married and that was as far as it got. Oh sure in the chorus he died, but we were too preoccupied enjoying the 'tick tock tick tock' to pay any attention. It's funny how things change as you get older!

If you'd like to know what happened to the grandfather, you can follow the link I've provided. If you only want the 'good parts version,' here it is:

My Grandfather's Clock
by Henry Clay Work

My grandfather's clock was too large for the shelf,
So it stood ninety years on the floor.
It was taller by half, than the old man himself,
Though it weighed not a pennyweight more.
It was bought on the morn of the day that he was born,
And was always his treasure and pride.
But it stopped short, never to go again,
When the old man died.
Ninety years without slumbering, tick, tock, tick, tock,
His life seconds numbering, tick, tock, tick, tock,
It stopped short never to go again,
When the old man died.

2. In watching its pendulum swing to and fro,
Many hours had he spent while a boy;
And in childhood and manhood, the clock seemed to know,
And to share both his grief and his joy,
For it struck twenty-four when he entered at the door,
With a blooming and beautiful bride.

Monday, August 21, 2006


It's a quiet morning. I can hear some traffic outside my window and it sounds like it has been raining. Last night we went out with a dear friend who is now sleeping on our living room floor. Mark is still sleeping beside me and I am alone with my laptop listening to the world.

Once again I have been lurking through the pages of other people's blogs. I haven't been leaving many comments or writing much of my own stuff. I'm not sure why. I'm feeling a bit shy and a bit edgy. I feel like every time I write it sounds like the same old thing. I am constantly writing about wanting more, needing to change, needing to become all of myself. This morning I think I am bored of myself.

Living in the UK for the first time I couldn't put my finger on what was so fundamentally different about it. I knew when I walked on the cliffs near where I live that it felt different. I finally figured out that there is a real history here. (I wrote about the difference between North America and the UK here.) The people here have a real sense of things being 'done' a certain way. They are blessed with thousands of years of history. No matter where you go in the UK it feels like someone else has been there before. They are forever having some treasure being dug up that has worked its way up from where it was dropped hundreds of years ago. That's a lot of good reasons to continue to sift through the dirt.

(I paused here for a walk down to the sea. I needed to think about where this was going.)

But is it worth it - the digging I mean - is it worth the dozens of deep empty holes? The dirt under your fingernails? Would it be easier to sit cross-legged on top of the earth and let the sleeping treasures lay where they are? Are they better off lying there in the dark? Would I be able to enjoy the wind on my face knowing that there was so much more to uncover under the layers? Am I happier learning about myself? Am I better off making leaps of faith and understanding even though I am often thrown back five steps shortly after making them? Would I be better off to just get on with my life on the surface? Should I stop digging?

For me there is no question. I can't help it. I am on a journey. Trying to figure it all out is a part of who I am. After reading this yesterday I have decided that I must continue in my excavation.

A quest, it seems to me, stems from the intuitive belief that the key to our wholeness lies in the expression of what we've glimpsed in ourselves but not yet touched. A quest is connected to the you that reaches beyond itself to the thread that connects one human being to another." - Geneen Roth

I am not on a dig it seems. I am on a quest. I like that a lot better.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Big is scary.

I know I haven't been posting again this week. After last week's Sunday Scribblings post I got really nervous. I mean, after you post something all big and bold and brash like that it's really difficult to:

a) write something ordinary again
b) live up to the post
and c) write something else when all you want to do is go on about what you were already on about.

So I wasn't able to do Poetry Thursday and I can NOT seem to post anything for Sunday Scribblings. (Although I do have a great Pigeon story for it when I can focus!!)

The day after I wrote this:

"Who else can I still be? I can be as big and wide and grand as I need to be. I can stop trying stay small and nervous. I can begin to live out to my own edges, to make big brave decisions and to not be so afraid of what I might find at the outer reaches of me. I can shift focus from my navel to my fingertips. I can be everything. I just have to be brave."

I got up in the morning and looked at myself in the mirror. What I saw there frightened me. It frightened me because I could feel a stirring deep in my belly. I could feel the stirrings of change. I could feel strong and bold growing up inside of me. Later that morning I received this in the post from the uncomparable Andrea. When I opened it up I was frightened all over again. I was frightened because the beads on this baby are BIG! I usually wear small necklaces so that I don't draw attention to my boobs
(HA! I laugh writing that because it sounds ridiculous. These girls don't need anything extra to draw attention to them!!!!) But it seemed appropriate that on this day I got my first piece of BIG jewelry. I put it on immediately even though I was just cleaning the bathroom. I felt fantastic.

But writing about being brave and living out to your edges is easy. Living with that notion is bloody painful at times. I started out on a BIG high and then had an uncomfortable conversation with a coworker that made me feel like
crap. (That's not only crap but it's very small crap.) And somehow I felt like I had taken ten steps backwards past where I had been on Sunday. I was back feeling small and scared and sorry for myself. WHY do we let other people dictate how and who we are? WHY do we let other people's stuff create stuff for us? And how was I to get back to feeling brave and bold and okay with TAKING UP SPACE??!

So here I sit one week later wondering what I can do to continue to be as much of myself as I can be. I wonder how to continue to embrace being Brave and BOLD and ALIVE in my own skin. If anyone would like to join me on my quest to find and be okay with our outer edges, I would love to have you. Here are a couple of things that have helped me this week. If anyone has any other suggestions, I would appreciate them heartily.

1. I have been reading some books by Geneen Roth about changing my relationship with my body and with food. I cannot tell you how much I love these books. If you have any body issues at all - she's your girl!

2. I bought an apron today. I bought it so that when I decide to be creative I will already have 'the outfit.' It reads, "You love me cos I'm gorgeous."

3. I've been looking into flights to visit some of my new and fabulous friends across the pond.

4. I am about to take myself to bed early. (It's harder to be your best self when you are tired, anxious and cranky.)

sweet dreams xo

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

They're REAL!!!

I've shamelessly stolen this photo from Madeleine's site. She and her three fabulous kids (you can just see the top of their heads in this photo!) and Susannah came to my little village for drinks last week. It felt so normal, so much like we'd known each other for years. I loved it!!! Yes, bloggers, Madeleine & Susannah do not just live in your computers. They are real! I've hugged them! (And yes, I have finally posted a picture with me in it.)

If someone had told me a year ago that by now I would have met people on line who I could consider friends, I would have told them that they were crazy. If someone had told me that I would be meeting amazing women and making strong connections through the internet, I would have laughed. In fact, some people I know are still quite skeptical about the whole thing. But I admit to you now that I am a computer nerd. And through this computer I have met people who have changed and are changing my life. I can't WAIT to meet more of you all as soon as I can.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Sunday Scribblings #20 - "Who Else Can I Still Be?"

I am large - I contain multitudes. - Walt Whitman

When I first started thinking about what to write for today's prompt I went over a list of all of the things I still wanted to be - or that I think I might want to be - and pondered those things for awhile. I think I want to be a published writer, a mother (erm...) a wife, healthy, I'd like to be a world traveler, a better friend, an inspiration, a home owner, a dual citizen... my list grew and grew until I realized that I was spending too much time making my list.

Who else could I still be? What else could I still be? I've spent enough time in the past little while navel-gazing and wondering and thinking about what I want am who I am and who I intend to be when I grow up that I know the answers to most of these questions. I know already. I KNOW! So the question begs to be asked - then why aren't I DOING something about it? I know what needs to be done to get every single one of my dreams to come true. I know how much grit and determination and drive and WORK I need to be doing. I know how to be thin, I know how to be a better person, I know how to be a published writer. I have 40,000 books on my shelves to help me along the way. Every single deepest desire of my heart is possible. I know that. I can do it. If what you focus on appears in your life. Why aren't I shifting focus?

Laziness? No, I have come to know that I am not lazy. I am selectively lazy and I think that is an entirely different animal. Tiredness? Yes, I am often pooped at the end of the day but that is just an excuse. There are a lot of people a lot more tired than me getting on with the business of their dreams. Fear? Yes. I do sometimes think that I am afraid of what I might find when I get there. What if I do get thin and then I am just the same old me? What if I do get published and nothing really changes? What if people love me less because I am successful? I know what Now feels like. I can deal with Now quite easily. If I work towards Then I might not be able to handle it when I get there. I might be vulnerable Then, and that's really scary.

But it is all just more crap. More excuses. More not moving forward. I'd really like to go back in time and watch to see the exact place and moment in our lives where we learn that we need to be afraid. I would like to go back and smack the first person who made me feel small.

So I think that I am going to answer the question of 'who else I could still be' with the Walt Whitman quote at the top of this page: "I am large - I contain multitudes." And the one I used at the top of this post as well... Who else can I still be? I can be as big and wide and grand as I need to be. I can stop trying stay small and nervous. I can begin to live out to my own edges, to make big brave decisions and to not be so afraid of what I might find at the outer reaches of me. I can shift focus from my navel to my fingertips. I can be everything. I just have to be brave.

(Oh, and 40,000 books might have been a slight exaggeration!) For more Sunday Scribblings go here.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Caution: Changing Priorities

On Monday I had the day off. Mark and I drove to Plymouth. It's about 45 minutes away. I love driving to Plymouth but I don't love Plymouth. It lacks the character of the other places we go in the UK. It was bombed heavily during the war and when they rebuilt it it was designed by 60s designers. It's ugly. They are trying very hard to regenerate it, but it's still ugly in places.

Still, a day out is a day out so I was loving the never-ending sunshine, uninterrupted time with my honey, the chance to people watch, and the opportunity to buy things from shops instead of from the internet! As it is summer, everywhere around us is crowded. Plymouth was no exception and we got stuck in some traffic jams. One-way systems are probably good for traffic flow when there isn't much, but on Monday we just seemed to sit a lot.

As we sat and waited at one intersection I noticed a traffic sign. It was bright red with white letters and it said: "Caution Changing Priorities." I have no idea what it means in a traffic jam, but it made me laugh out loud. I wished I could steal it and wear it around my neck! In the past few months I have changed so much. I am beginning to see small twinkling lights at the end of some of my tunnels. But in the process of moving towards these lights I have had to change some of the ways that I am thinking.

I think I have learned that in order to stop emotionally eating and in order to get outside and do some exercise and in order to be in love equally my priorities have had to change. We spend so much of our lives trying to be good and make other people happy. We try very hard not to be selfish or to appear self-absorbed. But in trying to be 'good' to everyone else we end up beating the hell out of ourselves. We ignore our own needs. We eat when we should be crying, we sit when we should be dancing, and we bite our tongues and swallow the words that would allow us to feel our own integrity. The saddest part of all of this is that by ignoring ourselves we make ourselves miserable and so we also fail at making everyone else around us happy. We become bitchy and tight and pinched. We sigh like martyrs and shut down the sparkling, full sides of ourselves. Eventually we forget.

So I would like to market a line of necklaces. They will be bright red pendants that read: 'Caution Changing Priorities.' We could put them on as a symbol to ourselves and to others that we are beginning to pay attention to ourselves. It would let people know that we were about to let go; about to begin to put ourselves and our needs before the needs of everyone else. We could smile and gently tell them that by taking care of ourselves that we are going to be much better mothers/ daughters/ sisters/ lovers/ partners, because we are going to be happier, more relaxed, and more in tune with who we are. We are not going to forget them, we are going to adore them - because we can finally adore ourselves.

"Caution: Changing Priorities..." It could be a revolution!

Monday, August 07, 2006

It's Already Broken.

"I am larger and much better than I thought. I did not think I held so much goodness." - Walt Whitman (This quote has very little to do with this post - I just LOVE it and wanted to share!!)

A funny thing has been happening to me lately. I have been starting books and then putting them down in the middle. I had to force myself to finish a couple. The most recent was 'Secret Life of Bees.' Somewhere around the middle I knew that things were going to get stressful and I stopped reading it. (I forced a finish - FABULOUS book!!!) It even happened with 'Eat Pray Love.' I read it right up to nearly the end and then I just stopped reading it for some reason. Any psychoanalysts out there? What's going on in my brain?

But this week I read a book and I devoured every page. I bought it because I am completely fed up with worrying about my weight and yet I am still eating too much. What I found was not a book just about food issues. It was a book about body issues, friendship issues, boundary issues. She talks about living life so that you are more aware of yourself and the world around you. I cannot recommend it highly enough!

One of the chapters that I loved the most was called, "Remind Yourself that it is Already Broken." It is a concept that I have already been trying to work with for the past little while. Roughly translated it means that if you look at everything in your life as temporary you will begin to live differently. Everything and everyone in your life won't be there forever. Things get lost or broken or stolen or they fade and fall apart. People move away, get lost, get broken, and sometimes they die. We take everything and everyone so much for granted. Seeing everything in your life as already broken:

"...helps you fully appreciate what you've got while you have it. Instead of protecting it, being worried about losing it, or spending your time and energy devising ways to keep it safe forever, you place your attention and love right square in this moment, and you luxuriate in every last bit of it." - Geneen Roth

This is what I am going to try to work with today and what I wish for you - moments of pure appreciation. xo

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Sunday Scribblings - Who Else Might I Have Been?

This week's prompt for Sunday Scribblings is, "Who Else Might I Have Been?"

I can trace my life right now back through so many decisions. I've played the game of wondering where this part of my life started. If I hadn't come to England the first time I wouldn't be here with Mark. But I can go farther. If I hadn't stopped going to camp the year I did I would never have worked at the museum and met the boy who I had the dysfunctional relationship with. It was this relationship that helped to ruin a friendship. The friend and I were going to go to England together. When university, the relationship and the friendship were all over, I decided to get away to England without her. Without her I knew I couldn't live in London alone. I chose a tiny hotel in the middle of nowhere. All roads, all decisions, all movements from the time I was 19 conspired together to bring me here. I have to believe it was fate.

What would have happened if I had kept on going to camp? What would have happened if I had dumped that boyfriend's sorry ass when I first knew I should? What would have happened if I had been too afraid to move to England for the first, second, and third times? I don't know. Maybe I'd be a teacher now, and living in Ontario. Maybe I'd be married and having babies. Maybe I would be heading towards a Principalship, driving a VW and enjoying my summer vacation in Mexico. Maybe I would have done Outdoor Rec at university and I'd still be camping. Maybe I would have gone on to get my Phd and become a Professor. The possibilities are endless.

Who else might I have been? All of those lives might have been wonderful. Would I have been happy? Or would my decisions still have eventually led me to Mark? It's hard to say. But I often tell him that in the next life, he has to come and find me. It was a lot of work this time.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Warning: a very grumpy post.

I was all set to write a wonderful, empowered blog post tonight. Mark met me after work and I went on my first 8ish mile run after work. The sun was shining, the sea was glinting and I was running! I was thinking about you all as I ran up a long hill, listening to Deb Talan's song, "Big Strong Girl." I thought about how far I had come in the last few years, and I was all excited to be 'in training.'

A few miles in I felt a funny twinge in my knee. Stupidly, I ignored it. I ran a bit, walked a bit, and ran a bit more. Then we walked up a big hill and when we were on the flat again we started running and the funny twinge came back but this time there was a definite 'poing.' That time I stopped. Duh. Little miss listen to her body should have listened the first time. I told Mark to run ahead of me and I would meet him at the beach but as I walked home it hurt more and more until I was seriously limping and now I am sitting with a bag of frozen peas on my knee.

GRRRrrrroooOOOOOooooowwwWWWWWWWlllllLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL. All of this bloody training and I'm sitting here with 10 weeks to go until my run with a damaged knee. (There's swearing in my head right now but I will spare you the naughty words.) I'm not a very happy camper at all. Damnit. (Ooops, okay, ONE swear word is okay...) Sigh. Sorry for the unhappiness. Especially when it's my own darn fault.

Please tell me something nice...

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Poetry Thursday

I have been fairly bad at posting Poetry Thursday entries lately. (In fact, I have just realized now that I am even a full week behind... sorry.) I think I am overwhelmed by all of the creativity that I am either trying to produce or that I feel like I want to produce or whatever. I worry sometimes that I am not blogging interestingly enough or that I am not blogging enough, but then when I am blogging I worry that I should be spending more time listening to my characters and Writing, but then when I am Writing I worry that I should be spending time sifting through the other things in my life's In Box. I can never just be in the middle of something, I always feel like I need to be worrying about all of the other things I have in the pan. I would really really love to know how to stop worrying full stop. Hmmm... yet another thing to put on my to-do list. Grrrrrr....

So I just can't seem to face writing any poetry right now. I suppose I could write a poem about not being able to write a poem. Or I could write a poem out of my to-do lists... One of my favorite poems ever is by William Carlos Williams. It's basically a fridge note. It's a good food poem so here it is:

This is Just To Say

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

But I also have my first ever poem that I ever memorized. It captures a family mealtime perfectly. It's by Dennis Lee and I think it's called:


When they bring me a plate
Full of stuff that I hate
Like spinach and turnips and guck.
I sit very straight
and I look at the plate
and I quietly say to it: "Yuck!"

Little kids bawl,
cause I used to be small
and throw it all over the tray.
But now I am three
and much more like me
so I "Yuck!" 'til they take it away.

But sometimes my Dad
gets terrifically mad
and he says, "Don't you drink from that cup!"
But he can't say it right,
cause he's not very bright.
So I trick him and drink it all up.

Then he gets up and roars
and he stomps on the floor
and he hollers, "I warn you, don't eat!"
He counts up to ten
and I trick him again,
and I practically finish my meat.

Then I start on the guck,
and my Daddy goes, "Yuck!"
and scrunches his eyes 'til they hurt.
So I shovel it in
and he grins a big grin
and then we have dessert!