The Summer Day
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean- the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention,
how to fall down into the grass,
how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed,
how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
from New and Selected Poems, 1992 Beacon Press, Boston, MA
Copyright 1992 by Mary Oliver. All rights reserved.
This has long been a favorite poem since it touches on the myriad ways that I question how life operates. A keen observer since childhood, I would lie down in the grass and witness, as Mary did, what was going on as the humans above were bustling about, so focused on doing rather then being. Would that I take that time now. So buzzy-busy that sometimes miracles nearly slip by. I do catch them, such as the many antlered deer that I witnessed out the window of a friend’s home as I sat on the comfy couch and the hawk that swooped down over my car and onto a nearby telephone pole, and the musical messages that love and grace are but a decision away. As I am typing this entry, my partial attention is on the movement of my fingers on keyboard, a piece of my mind and heart are with a friend whose father passed over the weekend. A profoundly spiritual person, she knows he is at peace and yet feels the depth of grief that her daddy is no longer here in body. I am thinking of all others on the planet who are saying farewell to loved ones. I am in my own heart, missing my parents, with the upcoming anniversary of my mother’s passing 0n November 26th. Ironically, I am seeing it as a two part anniversary. She died the day after Thanksgiving, so I will be honoring her on both days. On the actual calendar day, I will be at a retreat in Canada and so will offer a ritual honoring all of our ancestors. It is this constant reminder that life is transient and unpredictable and we d0n’t know when our last day will be, nor do we know the last day that our loved ones will walk the planet.
With my own wild and precious life, I am pouring out words like so much elixir onto a sometimes parched earth in need of nourishment. I am tapping my feet along to music as it emerges from my computer speakers; the beautiful voice of Snatam Kaur singing the lyrics “We are the light of love.” over and over. I am contemplating Thanksgiving here at my house with my son as we welcome family of choice. I am sitting at the table that in a few days will be the gathering place for these beloved souls. I know that my parents will be present in their current form. I am imagining time in retreat next week; both teaching and immersing in the restorative energy at Grail Springs in Ontario, Canada. I am anticipating a visit with my friends Jody Kessler and Doug Shire in Ithaca en route. Jody is a solo singer-songwriter and together, she and Doug are part of a kirtan group called One Love Chant. I am welcoming new friends each day, and the amazing overlapping soul circle connections that enchant me. I am teaching people how to live their own wild and precious life, coming out from behind worn out beliefs of who they thought they were so they can dance with abandon.
Today as I was meeting with a client, we were talking about setting intention each day as a form of prayer of gratitude. I ask each morning, in daily ritual, to be a vessel, a channel, a hollow reed, as the Divine sees fit. It is a counter-balance to the part of me that feels she can never do enough. When I am in that mode, I can accept that whatever I do, as long as I do it whole-heartedly, it will always be enough.
http://youtu.be/HQrud4CQ-O0 Truly-Snatam Kaur
I have long been both a ‘go-getter’ and ‘go-giver’; one who is seemingly always on the move and also in service to others, sometimes to my own detriment. I have used my God-given gifts to support myself and my family and offer positively life changing ideas to others so that they can transform their lives. When I look at my life from an outsider’s perspective, I can think “Wow, that woman is busy and accomplished and look how far she has progressed in the past 25-30 years, from a co-dependent people pleaser to someone who lives out loud and speaks her mind, even if her knees tremble.” All of that may be so AND YET, I often discount those things, even when I Google my name and see it in black and white. Humility kicks in; as well as the ‘agnoxious’ (a combination of aggravating and obnoxious) voice that screeches, snarls and snarks “If you were all that, you’d be farther along in all areas of your life and you would have the experiences you desire…..” ad nauseum
Last week, I had the awesome opportunity to be in the presence of Lisa Nichols; a woman who embodies living life to the fullest, as she says, to save her own life following escaping an abusive marriage with her sanity intact. She was launched into the spotlight with the movie The Secret and her powerful contributions to the Chicken Soup For The Soul Series. She came in to our area to speak and I jumped on board to help promote it, since I knew how inspired and timely her message would be for so many, including me. I was invited to be part of the pre-presentation VIP event during which we were encouraged to dialogue with Lisa and others in the room about our work in the world and what we wanted to experience.
I had asked about moving through blocks that seem to keep me stuck in the social work mindset that tells me money doesn’t matter and I’ll get by, as much as I desire to be successful on all levels with my writing and speaking. I commented that I had sent numerous query letters to Oprah to write for her magazine or to be on her show and have not yet heard from them, among other professional goals into which I pour myself . She looked me in the eye and asked if I really wanted the answer. She told me to stop focusing on the destination and the inner critic chatter that tells me I’m not enough, since I’m not ‘there yet’ and instead, focus on being of service and what needs to happen, will unfold in perfect timing. Less pursuing, more attracting. There is no ‘there’ to get to. No done point. A work in progress is what I am. It might not surprise you to know that the waterworks began with her words. The woman sitting next to me grabbed my hand and held it, in comfort. I felt grounded by the touch of someone who likely had a sense of what I might be feeling. As I listened to the stories that others in the room shared, I grokked that they knew too. Lisa reminded me that the time I spent in the former mode, could have been invested in helping even more people. Feeling quite humbled by that statement. As the evening progressed, I found myself feeling an even stronger kinship with this woman whose work has touched people world wide. It’s nice to be on the same transformational team.
www.youtube.com/watch%3Fv%3DqolUC13bwMc The Climb-Miley Cyrus
To say that I am head over heels in love with this newest release from former Philly local (now in upstate NY) artists, Kim and Reggie Harris, is an understatement. I was introduced to their music in the 1980’s when they were a mainstay in our active folk community. Their easily blended harmonies come from being both professional and life partners since the mid 1970’s. Married since 1976, they have stood in solidarity for diversity, human rights and multi-cultural unity. I was listening to WPXN 88.5 fm (my favorite commercial free, member supported radio station) and heard an interview with this dynamic duo. Reggie was talking about an experience he had that gave me goosebumps of recognition and I felt a bond with him and with Kim. In 2008, he received a second chance with a life saving liver transplant. Ten years before that, my husband died while awaiting a liver transplant, and I became a volunteer organ donor educator as a result, speaking about the importance of becoming an organ donor so that perhaps another family might be spared what we endured. I felt a swelling of gratification hearing about Reggie’s new life.
Do What I Have To Do is a powerful call to action written by the late activist- troubador Phil Ochs whose timeless lyrics are as relevant to the current state of the world as they were in the 1960’s.
Never Go Back echoes the sentiment that once a decision is made, nothing will ever be the same, whether in relationship with one person or the planet and yet action can be taken to make positive change occur.
The significance of the title song Resurrection Day was not lost on me with it’s reassuring lyrics heralding a new day “You’ve found the Grace to say “It’s alright. It’s over. Hallelujah…a new day’s here. You’ve got a new race to run. Resurrection Day….you are rising.” I could feel the waves of peace swelling in my heart even as Kim’s lovely voice rose.
The hip swaying samba sounds of Here and Now With You is a sultry love song.
Cause and effect is at the heart of Butterfly as one action reverberates for all time.
It’s All About Love assures us that we are resilient thrivers with faith and hope and grace in our healing toolkit. It really IS all about love.
The gospel flavor of Straighten ‘Em is as sweet as a Sunday morning clap along revival. It is a rollicking wake up call for all those in need of wiseing up as well.
Cajun influences ripple through the Depression era song Hallelujah I’m A Bum, with present day relevance.
When listening to Traffic, chills ran through me at the moment I realized that the song was about human trafficking that occurs at the rate of 27 million people worldwide.
Look ‘Em In The Eye honors those who are willing to stand up in the face of injustice.
Tears flowed while honoring the life lost, while love remains in When Mom Left Us Here, since I am now approaching the second anniversary of my own mother’s passing.
Tree of Life is a beckoning to honor what ‘we don’t know we know, say and feel’. Closed my eyes and drank in the beauty of a such a majestic multi-branched being.
Cosmic coincidence occurred as I listened to the final song called Roll On Woody, a tribute to dustbowl songster Woody Guthrie who would have been 100 this year. I was in the car and laughed as I literally passed Guthrie Road….truth is stranger than fiction.
Some of my favorite folkies are on this CD as well, including Joe Jencks, Cheryl Prashker, John McCutcheon, David Roth, Greg Greenway, Pat Wictor, and Magpie.
Resurrection Day is musical medicine indeed, healing for the heart and soul. I honor what the Harris’ have survived and am grateful that their own Resurrection Day inspires mine.
I met Jennifer Tuma -Young a few years back when she and I spoke at an event for an organization called Enchanted Makeovers which restores and transforms shelters, making them a welcoming and vibrant place to be. Her newly released book does for the body and soul, what the aforementioned company does for buildings. This self titled “Inspirista” whose work in the world motivates people to live their best lives from the inside out knows whereof she speaks when it comes to healthy shedding of layers. When I heard her story of a 100 pound weight loss, I was astonished since it was hard to imagine that this svelte woman had ever carried around that much additional emotional/physical baggage. The additional triumph is that she has kept it off for ten years. Having lost 40 some pounds myself in the past two years, I am aware of what it takes! Tuma-Young’s background includes having a Curves franchise in the family for which she works, so that ‘feeds’ her skill set that she offers to readers.
Balance Your Life is really about that…a sense of maintaining equilibrium in our day to day lives when the expectations that as women in particular, we are counted on to be all things to all people. I’m sure men struggle with this as well, but it is more prevalent among the female population. The book shares portable and easily applicable tips for re-creating yourself. They include journaling, visualizing joy, moving your body, recognizing your value beyond what you do for others, and goal setting.
She incorporates the S.M.A.R.T method, utilized by motivational coaches and speakers.
S= Specific M= Measurable A= Attainable R= Relevant T= Tangible
Tuma-Young’s book also encourages healthy eating without tumbling into the pitfalls of stringent dieting as she explains the facts and functions of food. She helps readers face the fears of immersing in a new way of living and holds their hands as a sister-companion on the journey, since she continues to traverse the sometimes treacherous path herself. As a business woman, coach, wife and mother, she wears many hats well. This consummate story teller shares her own vulnerabilities with grace and poignance that will have the reader nodding along. Self love is a primary ingredient in maintaing balance in our lives.
Balance Your Life closes with an invitation to sparkle in our own lives, with our family and friends, in our community, behind the wheel of the car and at the table. By reading this book, you too can become a self loving, lightened up, layered off inspirista.