In honor of National Poetry Month, and Mary Oliver, our beloved national poet who passed away in January, I will be posting one of her poems each evening in April. I am hoping to follow in the footsteps of Sarah Clarkson and read a poem on Instagram Live in the evenings as well…Follow me on Instagram to tune in.
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the praises and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting–
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
This poem can be found in the collection Dream Work.
Taking a cue from several other bloggers who wrap up each month this way, I am sharing things I learned or re-learned in April.
We are fragile alone and stronger together.
I’m recovering from two weeks of back pain and a cold, both of which left me physically weak and tired, and emotionally worn-down. The drive I wake up with every morning had abandoned me and I felt like I was in a fog of uncertainty, low confidence, and non-clarity. You know what helped me most (after extra sleep and rest)? Seeing the faces of my friends!
On Friday, one friend came over for lunch, shared what’s new in her life, transformation and personal growth that’s happening, her thoughts and feelings on work and family, her struggles and successes. It was so good to listen to her story and to share mine as well. And on Saturday, another friend came over, we discussed ideas for a class we are collaborating on, she shared her latest creative work, we talked about parenting, spirituality, relationships, and more. I felt inspiration returning as well as a renewed desire to keep going with my creative and business endeavors.
Muscle spasms are intense.
As I wrote about in this post, I just had one of the most painful experiences of my life: muscle spasms in my upper back. I couldn’t breathe, and could barely so I thought I was dying of something. The pain was so intense–no position standing or lying down would ease it. My greatest sources of relief were Alan’s massages every few hours and applying aromatherapy pain relief blends I made. The recipes are here. Two weeks later, I am still moving very carefully, walking, doing gentle yoga, and light resistance training.
A few days away from home can do wonders for rejuvenation and recovery.
A sweet couple whom we met last summer on one of our music gigs gifted us a two-night stay at their cabin on Keuka Lake. Since Alan had a cold and I was in a good amount of back pain at the time, we spent the time sleeping, reading, watching old movies, and taking life slowly. We visited a winery one afternoon and walked down Penn Yan’s Main Street. There was a lovely kitchen in the cabin, so we mostly made our meals and ate on-site, and went out to eat only a couple of times. It felt so wonderful to have no responsibilities of home and work and family. This time away was just what we needed! I will be sharing more about our stay at this cabin in a future post.
I’m still trying to figure out if I belong in a church.
On Easter Sunday, Alan and I visited a local church. In my imagination, the service would contain beautiful music and ritual and the minister would share an inspiring and challenging message. Instead, as what often happens in public places these days, there was an ill-behaved three or four-year-old boy that whined and cried and yelled and talked over the top of everything. His mother and grandmother just let him go on and on, ruining the service for everyone else. Finally, after most of the music and all of the readings were finished, and the minister was about to begin her sermon, the mother had enough and took him out. I couldn’t get my mind or emotions to focus for the brief remainder of the service. It was super frustrating!
I love film-noir.
Recently, Alan and I watched Murder, My Sweet starring Dick Powell and Anne Shirley. This 1944 film is one of the Philip Marlowe mystery series that included The Big Sleep with Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. When we paused the film to get drinks, I said, “I love film-noir,” and Alan said he did too. The black and white low lighting, the suspense, the hard-edged crime the Some of my other favorites are Double Indemnity, The Maltese Falcon, Key Largo, and The Postman Always Rings Twice.