Includes book reviews and bits from writer's journal. For the professional stuff, see website link below left.

Monday, June 30, 2008

ANOTHER Poetry Blog???

Well, yes.

I have succumbed to an enticing game called x365. People all over the world are doing it too! It's the ultimate writing prompt, just too good to resist.

Every day for a year you write about someone who has made an impression on you in the course of your life, a different person every day. It can be someone you've known well or only for a moment. And here's the thing – for each entry you write only the number of words equivalent to your age. (This limitation is one of the things that makes it interesting!)

For my own interpretation, go to the WORD PORTRAITS link in my sidebar, top right.

The rules don't say you have to write poems, and some people are doing wonderful versions in prose. But, me being me ...

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Wisdom of the Grandmothers

I subscribe to a newsletter which this morning included this. I think it could benefit us all, not only Americans – and not only grandmothers!

The Grandmothers' July Message: America

I went to the Grandmothers and asked, "Our country, Grandmothers. What can we do to bring the heart and soul back to our country? We are a ship without a rudder, scattered in our beliefs, discouraged, worried and afraid. How can we bring America back to a high moral code, to a generous and peaceful heart?"

"Your country is suffering," they said, and as they spoke I saw Lady Liberty, her head hanging low, her gown torn and dirty and her face stained with tears. "You are correct in asking this question," the Grandmothers said, eyeing me with serious looks. "America has lost heart. She became distracted from the things she really values by the entertainments and fads of the moment. A spiritual malaise now hangs over your land," they said and shook their heads. "Yes, Grandmothers, I know, I know," I said, impatience in my voice. "That's why I came to you. But what I'm asking is, what can we do to help heal our country? "

Immediately I saw the Great Plains states and the fertile soil of the Midwest. Tractors drove across fields, through rich croplands. "There is nothing wrong with your land," they said. "This land is good, but the land itself has not been respected," they said. "And when the land, rivers and lakes are not respected, how can you expect the people themselves to be respected? This is a rich and beautiful country," they said, "but how many of you ever think of that? How many actually love the land they live on?" they asked. "How many of you even give a thought to the land you live on?" they asked.

"Start here," they said, "if you want to redeem your country. Start with reverence for the physical land of your country. Reverence for the trees on your street, for the water you drink and the food you eat. All of this comes from the land itself," they said. "YOU come from the land itself. You come from Mother Earth. How many of you have thanked your mother lately?" they asked and raised their eyebrows for emphasis. "Start to redeem your country by holding reverence and gratitude for the land you live on," they said. "Start here. And start soon."

Since the Grandmothers told me this, I have become intensely aware of the land I'm standing on, sitting on or driving through. Noticing it and thanking it, I'm starting now.

(Find out more at The Grandmothers Speak )

Thursday, June 26, 2008

One True Love or Many?

A friend regrets that she has not yet experienced a lasting love, one that would have engaged her whole mind, heart and body forever after. I am surprised because to me this seems a most loving woman! I would say she IS love. And she has certainly experienced loves with whom she's no longer together.

It hits me at last what a sad fate that would be, which she dreams of – to have loved only once, even if forever. Yet we have all had that dream of the ultimate Soul Mate, the Perfect Match. Certainly no-one has nourished that romantic fantasy more than I did for much of my life.

I adore being in love, and the thrills of passion (yes, even now!). But, as we learn, love evolves beyond that 'first fine careless rapture'. I also appreciate the great adventure of marriage, working out the puzzle of how to continue in love through the day-to-dayness, the petty things about both parties, the intrusion of life's practical problems, all that. I've had one very short marriage followed by two long ones, and of course they have encompassed all sorts of emotions and many different phases of relationship. Some of those are downright awful while they last! I've always liked the story of the elderly, long-married couple who were asked if they'd ever considered divorce. One of them, and it doesn't matter which, said, 'No, never. But' (with a wink) 'often murder.'

Two of my marriages did end in divorce; one's still going despite some occasional shaky moments. I know now that the first, very brief one wasn't founded on love but on the idea of love. We were 'playing house' and the toy building blocks soon collapsed, sadly but inevitably. (The fact that he turned out to be a seriously compulsive gambler didn't help!) But the others were love matches for sure. And then there were all the loves before and between the marriages, and even during.

I'm an absolute sucker for a handsome face and a delectable form, but lasting love demands more than that. I've had my share of one night stands, unsuitable suitors, and brief dalliances that soon fizzled out for lack of common interests. I'm not counting them here; I'm talking about the real loves. I'm a deep, serious Scorpio, no good at flirting but absolutely into grand passion and soul connection. Yes, the sex had better be good – and so had the mental and spiritual rapport. Give me 'the marriage of true minds' every time!

Luckily for me there have been several. Sometimes that got a bit tragic, when things weren't destined to be permanent – more so when people died – but my memories of all my true loves are warm and lasting. (Even when sexual consummation wasn't included – though that was rare.)

'Love forever' I wrote to John, whom for a long time I regarded as the great love of my life.

'Forever is a long time to love,' he wrote back. 'How about, Love – as long as you're still the person you are today.'

He died young and suddenly, a few months later. So, although I am not the person I was then, 26 years ago, he stayed forever the person he was, and – for that or whatever reason – I've loved him this long at least.

And yes, the love has changed. At that time I thought I would have thrown myself into a fire if it could have saved his life. It couldn't, so that was never tested. The longing for his lost physical presence went on for many years, and I still quicken to the thought. And yet, in a way I am looking back affectionately at a younger me as well as him. Once I dreaded all the years I must live, in which he would still be dead; now I am glad to have lived long enough to fall in love a few more times, and to be unable to say any more that that love surpasses all others.

And there were others before him, too, whom I recall fondly. If I'm not 'in love' with them any more as I was years ago, still I enjoy that feeling of tenderness towards the people they, and I, used to be; and those who are left alive I wish very well. (Four, including both my former husbands, are dead.)

Whether things turned out well or ill, as I viewed it at the time, I see now how each lover gave me something special and taught me more about loving. I had so much to learn!

I used to say, 'Every woman deserves one bastard' – on the theory that they can give us our greatest lessons if we choose to learn. But now that I look back, I don't see any real bastards in my own love life, just human beings.

I have to say, I've been well and truly loved, and that matters to me. I begin to understand that it matters even more that I become able to love others well and truly. In any aspect of life, it's good to have something to grow into.

It's taken me this long to finally understand, not intellectually but by experience, that love isn't a pie! It's not that if I give a slice to X there'll be less left over for Y; quite the opposite. Love grows with being given, so the more I give the more I have to give. You've heard this before, I'm sure. I had! It's something else again to fully experience it.

Now I'm at last coming to a place of unconditional, non-possessive love. That's a hard thing to summon up, in the throes of romantic passion. But in the end it's the kind of love most worth cultivating. We find it in our friendships and some of our family relationships, if we're lucky. I'm glad to say that I'm discovering it can certainly apply in one's romantic life as well.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Inevitable Mystery

Reposted from the Live Journal Wicapis' Whispers

I'm reminded of a dear teacher I had in high school who refused to go on to the next poem in our antiquated textbook until we had all agreed on the same interpretive vision of each poem -- her vision.

Wearily we raised our hands. Yes, yes, that poet was just about to jump off a cliff. Onward!

If we can offer each other a cognizance of mystery through the poems we share, isn't that a greater gift?

Won't a sense of inevitable mystery underpinning our intricate lives serve us better than the notion that we will each be given a neat set of blanks to fill in -- always?


– an excerpt from Lights in the Windows by Naomi Shihab Nye

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Email from God

(A repost that has been doing the rounds on MySpace. Sorry I don't know the original author to make proper acknowledgment, but it's too good not to pass on!)

From: God/dess
To: Our Children of Earth
Re: Idiotic Religious Rivalries


Dear Children (and believe us, that's all of you), We consider ourselves pretty patient folks. For instance, look at the Grand Canyon. It took millions of years to get it right. And about evolution? Boy, nothing is slower than designing that whole Darwinian thing to take place, cell by cell, and gene by gene.

We've been patient through your fashions, civilizations, wars and schemes, and the countless ways you take Us for granted until you get yourselves into big trouble again and again.

We want to let you know about some of the things that are starting to tick Us off.

First of all, your religious rivalries are driving Us up a wall. Enough already! Let's get one thing straight: These are YOUR religions, not Ours.

We're the whole enchilada; We're beyond them all. Every one of your religions claims there is only one of Us (which by the way, is absolutely true). But in the very next breath, each religion claims it's Our favorite one.

And each claims it's scriptures were written personally by Us, and that all the other scriptures are man-made. Oy Vey. How do We even begin to put a stop to such complicated nonsense?

Okay, listen up now. We're your Father AND Mother, and We don't play favorites among Our children.

Also, We hate to break it to you, but We don't write. Our longhand is awful and We've always been more of "doers" anyway. So ALL of your books, including those Bibles, were written by men and women. They were inspired, remarkable people, but they also made mistakes here and there. We made sure of that so that you would never trust a written word more than your own living heart.

You see, one human being to Us, even a bum on the street, is worth more than all the Holy Books in the world. That's just the kind of folks we are.

Our spirit is not a historical thing. It's alive right here, right now, as fresh as your next breath.

Holy books and religious rites are sacred and powerful, but not more so than the least of you. They were only meant to steer you in the right direction, not to keep you arguing with each other, and certainly not to keep you from trusting your own personal connection with Us.

Which brings Us to Our next point about your nonsense. You act like We need you and your religions to stick up for Us or "win souls" for Our sake.

Please, don't do Us any favors. We can stand quite well on our own, thank you. We don't need you to defend Us, and We don't need constant credit. We just want you to be good to each other.

And another thing, We don't get all worked up over money or politics, so stop dragging Our names into your dramas. For example, We swear to Us :) that We never threatened Oral Roberts. We never rode in any of Rajneesh's Rolls Royces. We never told Pat Robertson to run for president, and We've never, EVER had a conversation with Jim Baker, Jerry Falwell, or Jimmy Swaggart! Of course, come Judgment Day, We certainly intend to....

The thing is, We want you to stop thinking of religion as some sort of loyalty pledge to Us.

The true purpose of your religions is so that YOU can become more aware of Us, not the other way around. Believe Us, We know you already. We know what's in each of your hearts, and We love you with no strings attached.

Lighten up and enjoy Us. That's what religion is best for. What you seem to forget is how mysterious We are.

You look at the petty differences in your Scriptures and say, "Well, if THIS is the truth, then THAT can't be!" But instead of trying to figure out Our Paradoxes and Unfathomable Nature, which by the way, you NEVER will, why not open your hearts to the simple common threads in all religions.

You know what We're talking about. Love and respect everyone. Be kind, even when life is scary or confusing. Take courage and be of good cheer, for We are always with you. Learn how to be quiet, so you can hear Our still, small voice. (We don't like to shout).

Leave the world a better place by living your life with dignity and gracefulness, for you are Our Own Children. Hold back nothing from life, for the parts of you that can die surely will, and the parts that can't, won't. So don't worry, be happy. (We stole that last line from Bobby McFerrin.)

Simple stuff. Why do you keep making it so complicated? It's like you're always looking for an excuse to be upset. And We're very tired of being your main excuse. Do you think We care whether you call Us.... Yahweh, Jehovah, Allah, Diana, Wakantonka, Brahma, Cerridwen, Father, Mother, God, Goddess or even the Void of Nirvana? Do you think We care which of Our special children you feel closest to, Jesus, Mary, Buddha, Krishna, Gerald, Mohammed or any of the others? You can call Us and Our Special Ones any name you choose, if only you would go about Our business of loving one another as We love you. How can you keep neglecting something so simple?

We're not telling you to abandon your religions. Enjoy your religions, honor them, learn from them, just as you should enjoy, honor, and learn from your parents.

But do you walk around telling everyone that your parents are better than theirs? Your religion, like your parents, may always have the most special place in your hearts, We don't mind that at all. And We don't want you to combine all the Great Traditions in One Big Mess. Each religion is unique for a reason. Each has a unique style so that people can find the best path for themselves.

Know that Our Special Children, the ones that your religions revolve around, all live in the same place, (Our heart), and they get along perfectly, We assure you.

The clergy must stop creating a myth of sibling rivalry where there is none. Our blessed children of Earth, the world has grown too small for your pervasive religious bigotry and confusion. The whole planet is connected by air travel, satellite dishes, telephones, fax machines, rock concerts, diseases, and mutual needs and concerns.

Get with the program! If you really want to help, then commit yourselves to figuring out how to feed your hungry, clothe your naked, protect your abused, and shelter your poor. And just as importantly, make your own everyday life a shining example of kindness and good humor. We've given you all the resources you need, if only you abandon your fear of each other and begin living, loving and laughing together.

We're not really ticked off. We just wanted to grab your attention because We hate to see you suffer. But We have given you free will to choose your own paths, and We just want you to be happy.

In Perfect Love and Perfect Trust,
Us

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Blogging Without Obligation

Clicking on the sweet logo at the top of the page, just under the Aussie Bloggers badge, will take you to this post on the blog down the rabbit hole, which I also reproduce here because I think it's SOOOO good (and the author gives permission). If you'd like to use the logo too, or one of the variants on offer, you'll need to go to the original post, so do click the logo. Otherwise, read on ...

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After coming across what seemed to be the 4000th or so post on someone's blog starting with "I'm sorry I haven't posted in awhile," I decided it is time to rethink what makes a good blog and the expectations that have come to be part of it. I am thinking that no one should utter those words again ... and with that thought I give you Blogging Without Obligation.


If you feel the same way feel free to grab the logo, make a logo or whatever you would like to do!


I release all the logos, thoughts and words mentioned here about this concept into the public domain. Take the idea and run with it ... or walk away. It is all good.

  • Because you shouldn't have to look at your blog like it is a treadmill.
  • Because its okay to just say what you have to say. If that makes for a long post, fine. Short post, fine. Frequent post, fine. Infrequent post, fine.
  • Because its okay to not always be enthralled with the sound of your own typing.
  • Because sometimes less is more.
  • Because only blogging when you feel truly inspired keeps up the integrity of your blog.
  • Because they are probably not going to inscribe your stat. link and comment numbers on your tombstone.
  • Because for most of us blogging is just a hobby. A way to express yourself and connect with others. You should not have to apologize for lapses in posts. Just take a step back and enjoy life, not everything you do has to be "bloggable".
  • Because if you blog without obligation you will naturally keep your blog around longer, because it won't be a chore. Plus, just think you will be doing your part to eradicate post pollution. One post at a time ...
- By Tiffini Elektra X