You Don’t Always Find What You’re Looking For, But…


1-6-19
Sunday morning seaside. I seek and find my therapist, my religion, my community service opportunities and my gym there, all just sandy steps beyond the wind sculpted dunes. I went armed with a Sharpie marker this time, intending to write some poetry on the abandoned boat that’s been beached there for quite a while. It had become that, a place for art and messages of every sort, painted, scrawled and carved into its remaining bare bones. But it was gone. Finally removed through some great feat of dragging, heaving and hauling. All that was left was a small blue and jagged piece of the hull, etched with the letters OW. Symbolic of its death for sure, if not also of the pain of its last journey. 

A bit dissapointed, but at the same time thankful for the beach cleanup, I decided to venture further south. And I found this old juke joint I used to weekend work at. Peering through the permanently ocean fogged windows and strolling past the No Trespassing signs on the deck like the real estate investor I’m not (I had a story ready for law enforcement), I felt a sea breeze of sunny, salty memories of stories and souls. I spent the next few minutes smiling and thankful.

I didn’t leave any poetry behind there, nor the memories, for they were all good, the kind you’re glad you rediscovered and want to keep. 

Peace and Love

CRR

1-6-19

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Years

“There are years that ask questions and years that answer.” Zora Neale Hurston

3 a.m. doesn’t have good manners. Before even greeting me properly, she starts in with the questions, slippery little reptilian ones that slither in through my ear holes and warm themselves in my gray matter. Some are grade-level, (I’ve been retained in 6th for more than a decade now), some surely originated in the MENSA screening test, and others range from “Did I leave the oven on?” to “Why does evil exist in the world and how can we solve world hunger?” Regardless, they all make it impossible to return to that hallowed place of blissful, empty-mind sleep. 

This morning, the first of the new calendar year, brought me face to face with the Zora Neale Hurston quote above. Amongst all the new year wishes, reflections and ruminations, her words stand out. If we take a moment to look back and compartmentalize our lifetimes, we will surely find this particular bit of wisdom to be true. There are years that ask the HUGE questions, some remaining unanswered, while others are later rephrased and answered correctly. Certain years seem to sprint by with hummingbird wing speed and answers we barely caught wind of, much less fully understood. And then there are the those that require careful, consistent, constant studying and 5 paragraph essays to reach the end of each particular test. I think if we’re observant, contemplative and lucky, each of our years will deliver us an individualized education, presented in Socratic style. Guided by questions that we alone know and we alone have the answers to, our years will reveal all that we’re willing to see. 

My personal resolution this year is not to lose weight, eat healthier, stop a certain vice or start some new life accentuating practice. My only two resolutions for 2019 are to be more present in each moment and to love more. Because I think those are the answers. To everything. For everybody. 

Peace and Love

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I Return


Saltwater.

When the words won’t come, due to tears, or frazzled nerves or a numbness of unknown origin, I return. When my head feels like a hundred tangled strings of strobing Christmas lights soaked in frustration and gasoline, I return. When bone deep exhaustion of mind, body and soul sets up camp in my marrow, I return. When sleep becomes a stranger and dreams and I part ways, I return. When this heart can no longer imprison the grief, or the joy, or the ache, I return. To the only mother* I have now, I return.

CRR

12-14-18

* Earlier this week I received a package from one of my aunts. It was a photo of my mother with all of her siblings, taken before disease had fully invaded her body and filled her cells with slow demise. As the packaging fell away and my eyes fell into hers, I burst into tears. She’s been gone 7 years now but it might as well have been yesterday. I’m a pro at staging myself, like a house for sale, and closeting all that grief. 

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Through A Different Lens

If you’re like me, reminders are necessary.

This Pedestrian Life

To see the world differently you have to look through a different lens.

We can buy new contacts that change the color of our eyes or frame them up in ways that match our outfits or mood du jour. Sure, we can correct our vision, but besides a transplant, can we truly see the world around us or just a certain situation with new eyes?

The physiology of how we know what we see begins with light entering the retina and ends in the inferotemporal cortex of our brain, which “tells” us what we see. Sounds simple, unless you truly want the details. It’s not just a bio mechanical process though. There’s history on those neural pathways, postcards from the past, in addition to sensory reactions and gut feelings that give collections of atoms and beams of light meaning.

Besides buying those clichéd rose colored glasses, how do we go…

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Ten Digits


Memory is a funny thing. Neuroscientists have been studying it for decades, and although they agree on certain physiological aspects of the creation, storage and retrieval of memories, much argument remains over how the process truly works and how all the aspects of our human condition affect it. 

Since returning from a visit to Nashville a month or so ago, I’ve turned my car radio dial to a country music station quite a few times. I grew up listening to that genre, but only followed it sporadically through the years since. That visit to Music City USA gave me a new, and most likely, sentimental appreciation for both the old and new voices of country. 

Anyhoo- driving to the beach yesterday, a song called “Dad’s Old Number”, by Cole Swindell came on. As I listened to the lyrics, a phone number popped into my head and I immediately thought I recognized it as belonging to my maternal grandparents’. A number that stayed the same for probably 60 years, but long disconnected and one I have not called in over 20 years, since my grandmother passed 29 years ago and my grandfather 16. 
I couldn’t recite you any of my own previous phone numbers if you offered to pay me. Since the cell phone came into being, I’ve committed my own and my husband’s numbers to memory, in case of said lifeline loss, but that’s about it. Yet I remembered that number! I immediately messaged an aunt of mine to verify that my memory wasn’t playing tricks on me, (a phenomenon neuroscientists DO agree on). So why that number?

I’m no neuroscientist. Although I may have helped educate one or two of them, that affords me zero authority (and even less than zero respect), but that’s another blog. I do have a theory though. That number has always represented my truest home to me. My formative and young adult years saw a total of 33 dwellings that were my “homes” for varying periods of time. And I wasn’t even a foster kid or in an armed forces family. I was born into my grandparents’ house and lived there till I was 22 months old. I returned often and willingly, and always with a feeling of complete belonging to a place and people that, in my mind, represented the purest truest constants in my life. 10 digits, filed away in my hippocampus, representing a lifetime, a lifeline, life stories, and great love. Oh how I wish I could still call that number.

Peace and Love

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Just Another Day (a writing prompt)

But it doesn’t have to be.

And it isn’t.

Believe me when I tell you I know that “same old, same old” feeling. 

It infects me too. LOTS of times.

But the thing is, we have to fight it, because love IS the answer most of the time, but fighting that particular virus like a mo-fo (I can’t use the real term since I’m a teacher and my right to free speech doesn’t exist) is the answer at other times. 

Sure, we can love “what is”. 

But if “what is” is killing us softly, slowly, one tic-tock at a time, that’s a mind battle we need to engage in.

Speaking of mind battles and what is…

Self discipline is not my middle name.

We tussle like siblings over the “whatever there is to tussle about at that current moment in time”. 

I say I’m going to write every day at a certain time and more than not, I get distracted by something shiny, start doing 7 other things or the words don’t flow immediately and I excuse myself in my own mind. I’m still the same writer wannabe and it’s just another day.

The elliptical machine in my garage stares at me mockingly each afternoon as I pull in from work. I tell myself my ankle REALLY is too swollen still (from a broken fibula in August) to attempt a reboot of my fitness routine, and it’s just another day.

But it’s not folks. 

Unless we’re in an unventilated vault or coffin ( there’s a metaphor), there are new molecules swirling around our smiling or sullen faces each moment. Today’s air mass is not yesterday’s. If we pull back the curtains, open the windows, step outside, we’ll see a new sky-scape. Breathe new air. Feel a totally new set of atoms vibrating.

We may be seeing whatever is within our range of vision with tired eyes, but if we truly look closely, we’ll notice that nothing is really the same as it was yesterday. Change is indeed the only constant. We have to make that effort and “intentionally” recognize that though, because some days the clouds of hum-drummery, political dummery ( a new word I just made up) and world chaos as the norm, make it not-so-apparent.

If we do one thing differently today than we did yesterday, then it’s not ” just another day”. 

Whether we do that willingly or begrudgingly doesn’t really matter. What matters is that we do it with purpose. Life often surprises us when we step out of our ruts/comfort zones. One small change, whatever that means in our personal worlds, is all it takes to move from “just another day” to “a new day dawning”. 

I’m preaching to myself here. I OFTEN write the words I need to hear and just let others read them. These ARE new words though, so that proves it. 

It’s not “just another day”! 

Peace and Love

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Dot Dot Dot

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A November writing prompt

… 

That could be the “hell to the yes” title of my memoir. 

Ellipsis.

Interrupted.

Oh, the stories…

Trailing off.

On her own.

Still much unsaid.

Amidst the cacophonous din.

So much implied.

What lives between those tiny marks?

Whispered dreams?

Unspoken screams?

What eyes can’t belie?

CRR

11-10-18

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Heartbeats

Preface-

I ordered myself an early birthday present and it arrived today! I’m turning the big 60 in one month, yet how can that be when I still feel 15? All amazement and horror aside, I received an advertisement for a pair of writing gloves ( yes, they’re a thing) imprinted with words about love, (in her own handwriting, Gahhhh! ) from “The Book of Joan” (order it!) by Lidia Yuknavitch. I couldn’t fumble through my purse for that credit card fast enough. 

I put them on and smiled widely. Having attended a writing workshop of hers, I could hear her gorgeous misfit voice, welcoming us all to the freedom of wielding the pen, realizing the power we hold within, and releasing our skin stories. My heart might have skipped a beat or two hundred on that actual day. 

So, here I am on record, declaring that all future writing will be done in these gloves, which I’m sure have been woven with her mermaid magic, empowing oceans of words to flow. 

“Words carry oceans on their small backs.” 

Lidia Yuknavitch

Heartbeats. A November writing prompt. 
Beginnings, endings, and everything in between. It, the word “heartbeats”, truly does carry an ocean. The swells, the breaks, the highs and the lows it creates as each signals tides of blood being pumped through our bodies, capillaries, veins and arteries, containing that which allows us to live. 

I remember the icy gel on my bulging belly, and the magic wand that allowed me to hear the pulsing rhythm of a baby growing into life inside my womb. Everyday moments when I was sure my heart would explode with joy or pride as the beats seemed to echo outside of me. Unbidden moments, when the beats signaled danger or fear. Hollow moments filled with the ceasing of a loved ones’ heart, flooding the shores of my soul with grief. 

I have a friend who refers to her children as “her heartbeats” and I get that, as our loved ones are often the reasons we continue, to fight battles we didn’t initiate, to wake up to another sunrise and go on. Our heartbeats can be the pulse of life’s blood when our proverbial “get up and go” has got up and gone. 

We mourn the heartbeats we no longer hear, the ones slowly becoming more faint. The ones that still beat afar through chests our ears once laid upon. 

Our heartbeats are gauges physicians read, whispers and echoes we ignore at times and broadcast at others. Signals received or dismissed, consciously or not. An indication of life and death, a heartbeat contains all the words, all the hopes and dreams, all the misgivings and regrets, all the oceans of emotions that flow through the days and nights of our lives. 

Listen to yours. It has a message for you.

Peace and Love

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2:22


Things I do when I awake at 2:22 with foot cramps. Get up and drink a glass of water. Return to bed hopefully and listen to hubs snore for 1 more hour while contemplating the sadness of our country right now as we try to process yet another hate crime. Wonder if we’re going to have to move to another, less hateful country, one with a less idiotic, disgraceful, hate-mongering president. Wonder what more I can do besides vote. Get up and make coffee. Read and respond to posts from so many friends whose hearts are filled with a unidentified sadness. Watch a tribute video for the victims of The Tree of Life massacre. Think about two of them, Sylvan and Bernice Simon, standing in that very same synagogue 60 years ago and pledging their love till death, not knowing they would be slaughtered in that exact spot by pure evil and hate. Cry a little more for all of us. Drink more coffee. Sign up for a free online Jane Austen course that promises she’ll illuminate the beauty of everyday life. Hope that will be enough to keep the tears at bay, at least between the hours of 7:30 and 3:30, when my mission includes inspiring and leading the next generation towards tolerance of individual differences, instilling the desire to make a positive difference in the world, increasing recognition of our interdependence and encouraging them to spread kindness and love. Check and recheck for typos. Realize I’m going to piss some people off. Post anyway. 

Peace and Love

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That Girl

This is me, filing an informal complaint with the Department of No One Cares, about the fact that 3:15 AM is now the new norm for the non-arrival of my muse. There’s no “obvious” reason I should awaken at this time each night, yet I do, and then get caught in the trap of comparing myself to a girl who use to write thought provoking, inspirational, and even occasionally funny essays. That girl who felt a fire in her belly and rushed to her desk to watch the letters pour out, conjoin their covalent bonds and form flames. That girl who danced back and forth between fingers of fire and refused to be burned. That fire-sign girl who defiantly fanned the torrid air, coyly giving the world “the finger”, the action disguised as rubbing her cheek. That pelagic girl that could never be drowned by the frigid flow of mind numbingness. That Neptunian girl whose fluid ache is palpable as her saline self seeks depths like those from which she arose. That girl.

Peace and Love

10-18-18

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