I’m sorry, but what else could I write about today? While my students participate in Vermont Writes Day, spurred on by 7 compelling prompts, I am halted by nonsensical bloodshed. Not drawn to write about the fantastical, no, not an imaginary letter to the bloat king who degrades our White House, nor a whisper coming from the phone either, not even the kindness which does come in abundance to my doorway, but me, shroud in a gray sheet of helplessness, naked and invisible. I cannot fathom how many children must be gunned down before we all throw our mistempered weapons to the ground.
Photos taken a February years ago, but easily could have been today with a foot of new snow covering our yard, and me, out there playing in it. Yes, it is a black and white world, in so many tight and restrictive ways during these cold and forbidding days, but I encourage you to remember the beating heart under it all. Give it your all.
Out my window here in northern Vermont is a winter world of Black & White with nothing much in between unless you count gray… But as February has two Red inspired events (Valentine’s Day and the Red Carpet driven Oscars) I found myself venturing into a foray of party-ready RED, especially on the eve of March… so here we go straight into color!
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The morning started with a solid barricade of mountains rising up in my mind, leaving me, “cabined, cribbed, confined . . . ” I fought to maintain space, maybe even peace, but alas, something triggers something. “Then comes my fit again: I had else been perfect” (Shakespeare). I drag myself from one room to another, desperate for an escape, but not seeing possibility. Whether cause stemmed from the bigotry of Washington GOP to unify a white-only America, the endless stream of gray clouds covering my state, or the disconcerting stream of #metoo people crying out their abusers, regardless, my mood hit rock bottom. I drown in despair despite the fact I avoided his new lies and the “fake news” disclaimer we have come to know as a presidential retort; and even though I applaud the bravery of the women who are calling out their truth, as a survivor, I am grabbed backwards into my own stolen childhood, circling around in panic attacks and emotional shattering each time I hear their abuse stories. Victimhood is a badge no one asks for, yet one finds near impossible to shed. So yes, even with the no-listening-to-the-news weekend rule, following this dystopian-metaphor converging on a convoluted new world, the walls close in around me. I think too much about the future. Breath in, breath out. I must move. With cleats strapped onto my hiking boots I get myself outside and onto the nearest mountain trail.
As I embark on a Shakespeare unit with my students, nine graders reading Romeo & Juliet and AP Lit reading Hamlet, we start with questions. Questions Elizabethan thinkers might have pondered in 1598; questions we still ponder in 2018. I am struck with our timeless preoccupation over destiny: Are we the masters of our own fate? I ask students to think and write about their beliefs on this topic. Certainly, these teens, like those penned by Shakespeare, want to believe they are, indeed, in control of their outcomes, while I, I who have screamed up at the Heavens in distress, frustrated by the unpredictability of chance, those ‘why me’ moments; “O, I am Fortune’s fool” situations. As if we are pulled by strings invisible to our own hands. Just when we want/need/hope for a different outcome we must settle for what is… but as I look across the classroom at my students, into their hopeful eyes, their exuberant optimism, I see their uniform belief that yes, they are masters of their fate. They aren’t phased by headlines or politicians’ lies; they see their own trajectory as it slants up and beyond, straight into the starry night. Straight into heaven.
Eat, Drink and Be Merry, for no other reason than it is January… so be smart about it! Enjoy my loves, xxoo
Despite what most journalists and bloggers are writing about on this busy week, I’m focusing on food, yes delicious food. I guess getting ready for the Women’s March just makes me hungry. And not only hungry, but longing for smells and tastes that bring comfort and nostalgia along with warm and satisfying feelings that are so so so very needed during this time of upheaval and uncertainty. How about you? Spending more time in your kitchen than usual? Is there anything that brings your household together more than tomato sauce simmering for the afternoon?
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Today I was a pallbearer for an aunt who loved me, and her and him, and countless others like you. Today I swam in the deep blue ocean with my uncle who showed me a rainbow and together we saw that effervescent light. Today I laughed and cried with many and knew who I was yet still wonder what tomorrow might bring.
Today was forever and still not long enough. Today reminded me to live with faith and forgiveness and fortitude, and joy whenever it slips in the cracks. Today was quite a day… one to hold dear. A gift.
During this very first week of January, I hold off the temptation to look too far ahead, in order to pause in the threshold for a short moment and savor the past year. Looking back though my weekly blog posts, I am reminded of the small moments that make up one’s grand life: the way we keep ourselves present, fluid, and in touch with the important stuff. I offer the following tidbits, photos, and links from 2017, as a reminder to you of all we have been through, and just how resilient we all are despite the difficulties. 2018 may present challenges, but with the strength inherent in our past, what can we not overcome?
In no particular order, here are 5 posts I am glad I revisited. Hope you will be too.
After a blue sky day, when the sun drops behind the ridge and our mini-fire-pit reaches a heated pitch, we glimpse heaven on earth as snowy yard goes from blue to pink to purple. We stand witness and declare, weekends are the best! Afternoons outdoors, chatting about nothing, sitting silent for a few fleeting moments. Living beyond the work week is all we’re really after, right? Fire and sky, feet on the earth, with time on our side, now that’s a Saturday worth remembering.
4. Guiding Star
Find yours. Whatever it is. Your yoga practice or your rabbi’s words, your divining rod or your guardian angel, regardless, set a course toward your best self, and use your own spiritual beliefs to glimpse what that just might look like. Solo or with your congregation, catch a glimmer of those hopeful and healing and healthy and divine rays with regularity.