Life

One breath at a time

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When I arrive at my pulmonologist’s office I am thrilled to see my doctor who has been treating my chronic bronchitis and Kartagener’s Syndrome since I was 21. Thirty-one years. We greet each other behind our masked faces, eyes light up in recognition it has been nearly seven years since we’ve seen each other. My bad. I think I have a handle on my disease and then I land in the ER with pain from a lung infection gone awry. But seven years is a good run with no hospital visits as I’ve gotten much better at taking care of myself, until I stop.

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Life

Poems from the past

 

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I’m looking for a notebook to set out the plans for my new routine. The step by step guide to take back my old life and fix this messy house. I’m home from Florida where my thirteen-year-old and I spent several weeks social distancing in nicer weather and where there wasn’t much to do other than read, tidy, and enjoy the outdoors (and school for him). It was the best place to be in this time of quarantine. Reality hits hard now as I scan the house which is in a great deal of upheaval with the contents of the thirteen-year-old’s bedroom strewn across several rooms as the project of turning it into a teenage room looms before us. Deep breath.

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Life

Backyard Observation

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My son’s last seventh grade science assignment for the school year was to keenly observe an area of our backyard over a four week period. He was to look beyond the grass and the weeds and the crisp brown leaves that never made it to the compost bin to see what is living in our backyard. This meant sitting still and turning over rocks. It meant patience and curiosity. It meant listening and learning and sometimes typing a long, descriptive summary of his questions about the plant’s outward appearance on Google.com. He was excited there’s an app that will zoom in on a plant and tell you it’s perfect and difficult to pronounce proper name along with it’s history, origin story, expected size range and how to treat them to get the absolute best results from the plant for your garden or yard. Yes, there’s always an app for that. This is a perfect experiment for a seventh grader who is still so full of curiousity and wonder, especially if it means getting dirty.

As I watched him watch the yard, I couldn’t help but think this is a good metaphor for where we find ourselves today. How many of us have keenly observed our own backyard to the microscopic extent that was asked of my seventh grader? How many of us have turned over rocks to find out what’s living underneath them? Checking our prejudices and stereotypes for what is the whole truth. It’s hard to do this kind of excavation because for so long it’s been in the background, happening to other people, and sometimes we think, but it happened so long ago. That wasn’t us.

It’s kind of like when I’m working my recovery and think about what I need to make amends for in my own life. When have I sugar coated or said, well, it wasn’t that bad? What have I forgotten or swept under the rug, away from prying eyes, making my home look nice and tidy? Yes, this is a period of excavation for our country and ourselves. A period to sit and listen without saying BUT or HOWEVER or interupting at all. Listen to what is being said. Listen and observe and (re)learn. And sometimes Google. There is not an app for this.

 

Life

Listening to the World

Some days are harder to write than others. Some days the world becomes too much, full of harsh truth. This isn’t a time for me to write about a world gone mad, still mad after hundreds of years. I am a white woman, trying to understand how to fix it. This is how I was born and so I am listening.

Poetry is a vehicle of the truth I am looking for and so I visit Poetry Foundation’s web site each day to tune into what’s being said. I am always blown over by the words I need to hear. Today’s poem is Stay Safe by Luther Hughes and here are some of the words that hit my core:

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Why indeed does the world seem normal outside my back door, the birds singing as if no wrong exists in the world. Only the crows scream that something is amiss.

MC

Life

Observation

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As a writer, wouldn’t it seem that observation is an important tool in one’s work? I thought about this yesterday morning as I was walking around the neighborhood, looking at plants I’d never seen before, the rabbits pausing on a dewy lawn for a quick snack, the tree with a seemingly perfect canopy of branches and leaves. But as I wandered and meanered and took in the scent of the day, waved at the other walkers passing on the other side of the street, and took snapshots of cool things, I never once looked up at the sky. When I left the house I returned to quickly grab my forgotten sunglasses because as you walk to the east the sun is bound to get in your eyes eventually and I hadn’t noticed that the glasses hadn’t left their perch at the top of my head for the duration of the walk.

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poetry

Tuesday

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We landed on Tuesday, again.
How do we keep the days new and fresh
in a changed world?

Seeking outside ourselves the answer
to what lies within,
we close our eyes to memory and dreams.

Imagine if things were different. Where would
we be and doing?
Going slowly toward sanity or madness.

Generations before have seen better and worse
and yet we survive another day.
We landed on Tuesday, again.

Life

The house I didn’t want

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In late 2015, at the beginning of my journey into recovery, I decided I wanted to move. Fresh starts and all. We live in a house that is a main thoroughfare and heavily trafficked and without sidewalks. Our son was eight and in need of neighborhood friends and how is that possible without a neighborhood? We quickly found one that seemed perfect. A neighborhood near one of Liam’s school friends, it was bigger with an open plan, a fireplace!, a large master bedroom/bath and walk-in closet, less yard to care for.  I was already imagining us taking over the space, making it home. We didn’t get the house and I began a period of mourning.

But looking at the house kicked in a new quest for my husband. He turned our disappointment into a new idea and started visiting retirement property while visiting his mom in Florida a couple months later. It was a furtive move on his part and he didn’t share this idea until he was home and booking flights for us to visit in late February. Hold up. Retirement?! Florida?! Never! I tried to talk him down but the idea had already taken root. Strong root.

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Life

Revisiting Bliss Through Meditation

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A few weeks into the quarantine, we decamped to our Florida home to ride out the remainder of the school year away from upstate New York. The weather was about to get the best of us with snow into late April and the feeling of being shuttered in our home, unable to get out to breath in some fresh air, was making our son drift into depression. Why not go where sunshine and warm temperatures would allow us to be outdoors while still maintaining our social distance? We are lucky and blessed to have this option.

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Life

Daily Gratitude

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When I quit drinking a few years ago, someone asked me to do a daily gratitude text exchange with her, naming three things I’m grateful for every day. As you’d probably imagine, as you come to the decision to stop drinking, once and for all, you’re not at your best place in life and gratitude is not high on the list. My life was pretty much crap and I was wallowing in self pity. Why me? How come I couldn’t be normal? Was I about to lose everything?

As humans, we are a resilient species and so I pulled myself together (somewhat) and started texting my three daily gratitudes. Clean socks. Books (even if I didn’t have the focus to be able to read them). My toothbrush. And as time went on, the list grew and settled on more heartfelt ideas. Second chances. A hug. Hope. I’d like to say it became an ingrained habit after several days of this but I wasn’t a natural at turning to gratitude and the lady I was texting stopped showing up and so the habit died.

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Writing

Writing Routine

 

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Creativity is not something I associate with the word routine although I do love a good routine. Each morning I wake, say the rosary, meditate, write affirmations and then sit down to write. But first coffee. I don’t have a particular routine around my writing, though, but I’m starting to build one. First, the morning pages. I was writing them by hand for a long time, filling up notebook upon notebook but a couple of things happen when writing at length with a pen. I grip it hard and the nail of my ring finger digs into the palm of my hand leaving a throbbing indent. Also my hand goes a bit numb after a while. And then I discovered 750words.com and I moved my morning pages online, which is cheating, I know, but better than nothing. It also makes my writing searchable which is great.

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