the beauty of poetry

Dear Readers…

I hope this post finds you well, as you continue to navigate this period of time we are experiencing collectively. We are finding our way forward in different ways. For many of us, writing is one of the tools we have and use to walk gently through the days. Whether it is a deeply personal reflection in my journal, or a quote or quotes which inspire me to offer something in this space, I find comfort and solace in this creative process.

Some years ago, I found myself actually writing some poetry. When inspired words came through me and made their way to the end of my pen, I was often surprised by the bursts of words and phrases and the ways they flowed onto the page. As quickly as those poetry moments came, they seemed to dissipate. It would be easy to attribute that to a number of things, like life events and other distractions. What I know today is the inspiration which seemed to evaporate was more about the changes I was moving through within myself. I even found myself in a deep dark place within ( a dark night of the soul) – where I’ve spent many years of my life – and not feeling my connection to God or Spirit. No poetry, no meditation, no journaling…nothing was happening. I had no energy for any of it.

Among the many who write in these spaces is a poet whose words are inspiring and create opportunities for thoughtful reflection. Recently, she began hosting writing groups. I found myself drawn to the opportunities she announced on her site, flashlight batteries . I also found myself backing away from the opportunities, due in large part to my lack of confidence to bring forth anything meaningful in such a process. I am forever grateful to Alicia Grimshaw for her gentle leadership and support as small groups of us participated with her in the safe space we created together. I have found my inner poet…again.

I encourage you to have a look at her invitation (at the link in the previous paragraph), and consider what is in you that may be awaiting an opportunity to be expressed. This is truly a gift you can give yourself.

Below…one of the poems I wrote during one of our group meetings.

 

I wake in the night

to the sounds of the house;

creaking, cracking, startling.

 

I’m reminded of Presence –

the mystical, the grounded, the unknown.

 

My children appear in my minds eye;

their smiles, their joys, the uncertainty.

 

My heart aches for a moment;

their fears, their children, what they cannot know.

 

I listen…

To Spirit, the voices of love and compassion, peace.

 

The calm softly enters…

my breath, my heartbeat, gratitude.

 

Sleep…

 

time

Stress is a perverted relationship with time.

– John O’Donohue

My dear readers, I feel we can all acknowledge that we are experiencing something we haven’t seen – and on the scale we are seeing it – in our lives.

I have revisited a conversation that Krista Tippet (of OnBeing.org) had with John O’Donohue. Perhaps you know of him, and if you do not, may this serve as an introduction to him and his amazing and beautiful perspective on life. This conversation was one of his last interviews before his death in 2008. For me, it makes his message and the words left in his legacy of writings a timeless gift…and is timely for us now.

All we have is time...and this conversation has so much to offer. It is 52 minutes in length, and I encourage you to set aside a little bit of your time to listen. If you can find a place where you will not be interrupted, and you can close your eyes as you listen, perhaps you will hear with more depth. If you prefer to read, there is a transcript available at this link. However, I hope you will listen. The conversation is rich and beautiful.

Wherever you are in the world, please take very good care of yourself. Remember that we are all in this together. WE, each individual comprising the whole of humanity, are the leaders of our lives. The choices we make in leading our lives at this time matter. Our choices have always mattered…and perhaps we have the opportunity to reflect at this moment in time, on the ways we have led our lives, as a step forward into a future borne of difference choices for leading our “one wild and precious life”.*

 

John O’Donohue — The Inner Landscape of Beauty

 

Namaste.

 

 

*With honor and gratitude to Mary Oliver for this oft used phrase…out of context. In its proper context, in her poem “The Summer Day” we can find so much beauty…to reflect upon as we view our outer world and consider our inner world (the realm of our very souls).

on creativity and play

While I was still a full time (plus) employee – at any level in the organization that I served – I relied upon ideas which seemed to come to me when I was listening, reading or attempting to figure out how to do something better. Whether it was an employee problem, a business process inefficiency or failure, or an organizational concern, self generation was in play, and I didn’t even know it. Unconscious creativity, maybe? Of course, anything that is self generated needs an opportunity to be evolved through sharing with another who can provide perspective, feedback, additional “meat for the bones”, or to facilitate the abandonment of an idea or thought for reasons which make sense.

When I first encountered the quintessential question about creativity (you know, whether I am or I have “it”); I thought immediately of one of my sisters who is quite a good artist. Whether using pencils or charcoal to sketch, oils or watercolors on canvas, she has created some lovely images. So, of course, my answer to this question was, “No, I don’t have a creative bone in my body.” I had no appreciation for or knowledge of the origin of creativity or the myriad ways in which it is expressed. Today, I see clearly that creativity was very much a part of my being for my entire life, including during those years of busyness.

I have tried quite a few things that fall under my previous definition of creativity, including playing with water colors, colored pencils and doing a bit of art journaling, as a part of an on-line class offered by Brene Brown a few years ago. I had some fun with it and still wish to return to it from time to time. I haven’t quite gotten there yet.

Unused creativity is not benign–it metastasizes. It turns into grief, rage, judgement, sorrow, shame. We are creative beings. We are by nature creative. It gets lost along the way. It gets shamed out of us.

-Brene’ Brown

I have always been (and still am) a very serious person. The idea of play hasn’t ever come easy for me. When my sons were very young, play was fairly easy for a brief time, and then it was back to serious “mom” stuff. To say that I have always taken life seriously, is an understatement. In fact, I have always been someone who felt that the “work” had to be completed before any “fun” could begin. And of course, the “work” never really gets to a place where “finished” can be declared and play can begin. I’ve noticed that my being serious even spills into some of the creative things that await my attention even now. Whether I feel a need to organize (over-organize) before I begin or that perfectionist, still lurking around in my mind, is attempting to steer my efforts, I find that just getting started can be the most challenging step to take at times!

I am grateful to work with a Spiritual Director who listens and asks the deep questions that cause me to stop and really consider what may be going on within. She recently asked me two powerful questions that I continue to observe in myself – my choices; and to reflect on regarding past experiences; and to write answers to in my journal on a fairly regular basis.

  • Where in my life do I need to “lighten up?” 
  • Am I making things harder than I have to? 

Reflecting on these questions, so many different feelings, habits, and other such things are bubbling up for me to see and to consider what shifts are essential in this period of my life. Is it any wonder that play and creativity are present in my mind these days?

“This is the real secret of life — to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now. And instead of calling it work, realize it is play.”
Alan Watts

I can conclude from Watts’ words that presence is at the heart of creative play.

As I continue to reflect on my questions and find my way back, again and again, to the creative play that is always waiting for me, I invite you to examine your owns experience. I’ve learned that when something isn’t fun or doesn’t enliven or lighten my heart, it becomes work and should probably be set aside for a time, if not abandoned. And…I know that this…this blog, this writing that all of us who choose to be in this space…is creative.

 

“The most regretful people on earth are those who felt the call to creative work, who felt their own creative power restive and uprising, and gave to it neither power nor time.”

—Mary Oliver