What I Learned In April

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.

What did YOU learn in April?


FLX Letters, April 2019 Edition

FLX Letters are an idea I came up with a year ago. My intention is to give a monthly glimpse into life in the Finger Lakes, through my lense and perspective.

Dear Reader,

On this last Saturday in April, I am at my desk, wrapped in a wool sweater while snowflakes whip past my window. The line of evergreen trees shivers and shakes in the cold wind while the sturdy, still-bare maples just stand and endure. The gray, dismal bluster of the day seeps through the cracks of this old house, attempting to drive me back to bed with a pile of books.

I refuse to give in to the gloom! Fairy lights are twinkling around the library, the delicious smell of (gluten-free, dairy free) a strawberry-raspberry fruit crisp is filling the house with home-baked happiness, and I’m listening to the lovely strains of Easter music by Gustav Mahler and Francis Poulenc.

For all the folks who live in warmer climes and wonder why someone would want to live in a place where it still snows in April, one of the reasons is precisely because of days like this. At least for me. For an introvert and a book nerd, it means time to reflect on the past few weeks with a flip through my bullet journal. Time to make a cup of tea and plan blog and social content for the next few weeks. Time to work through my new stack of library books.

It means enjoying the wildness and unpredictability of the weather where one Spring day it is 70 degrees Fahrenheit, sunny and mild, and three days later I put on my winter jacket to get the mail. You just never know what you’re gonna get in the Finger Lakes Region.

It also means when warmer temperatures do settle in, they won’t be taken for granted. Each warm day of our short and sweet summer season is a gift, a chance to create beautiful memories with friends and family, with local wine and lakeside walks, taking in sunsets, hiking the gorges, delighting in treasures from our gardens, or discovering a village on a little jaunt through the rolling countryside to the next lake or two over.

The cold and snow of this April day give me space to do things I wouldn’t do if there was sunshine and warmth to beckon me out of doors. I will live slowly today, relishing the hours spent with a friend who is coming over this afternoon for a cup of coffee and a chinwag. I’ll read both poetry and prose, practice piano, work on a watercolor idea, and do some vision casting. This is a day for hope, for good what-ifs, and as Emily Dickinson wrote, for dwelling in Possibility.

With love, Kim

Evening Poetry, April 20

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.

To Begin With, the Sweet Grass (This poem is in seven sections, so I’ve spread it out through the week.)

7.

What I loved in the beginning, I think, was mostly myself.

Never mind that I had to, since somebody had to.

That was many years ago.

Since then I have gone out from my confinements,

though with difficulty.

I mean the ones that thought to rule my heart.

I cast them out, I put them on the mush pile.

They will be nourishment somehow (everything is nourishment somehow or other).

And I have become the child of the clouds, and of hope.

I have become the friend of the enemy, whoever that is.

I have become older and, cherishing what I have learned,

I have become younger.

And what do I risk to tell you this, which is all I know?

Love yourself. Then forget it. Then, love the world.

This poem can be found in the collection Felicity.

Evening Poetry, April 18

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.

To Begin With, the Sweet Grass (This poem is in seven sections, so I’ve spread it out through the week.)

5.

We do one thing or another; we stay the same, or we

change.

Congratulations, if

you have changed.

This poem can be found in the collection Evidence.

Evening Poetry, April 17

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.

To Begin With, the Sweet Grass (I am spreading this poem, which is in seven sections, throughout the week.)

4.

Someday I am going to ask my friend Paulus,

the dancer, the potter,

to make me a begging bowl

which I believe

my soul needs.

And if I come to you,

to the door of your comfortable house

with unwashed clothes and unclean fingernails,

will you put something into it?

I would like to take this chance,

I would like to give you this chance.

This poem can be found in the collection Evidence.

Evening Poetry, April 16

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.

To Begin, With the Sweet Grass ( This poem is in seven sections, so I am going to include one section each evening during the week.)

3.

The witchery of living

is my whole conversation

with you, my darlings.

All I can tell you is what I know.

Look, and look again.

This world is not just a little thrill for the eyes.

It’s more than bones.

It’s more than the delicate wrist with its personal pulse.

It’s more than the beating of a single heart.

It’s praising.

It’s giving until the giving feels like receiving.

You have a life–just imagine that!

You have this day, and maybe another, and maybe

still another.

This poem can be found in the collection Evidence.