Tag: faith

poem: The Big Girl Pants

Not only were
the Big Girl Pants
chafing
obviously,
they were not effective.

So, i burned them –

along with every deluded thought
that i can get through
this awful crisis
alone.

In twenty hours
it will have been eight years
since he broke my life apart.

In the intervening time
i have ridden a wild roller-coaster
between loss and survival,
crumbling over and over
in anxiety and fear,
only to recover somehow
and find a way to move again.

My scars were visible
no matter how i smiled,
showing through all my clothes,
turning up
unbidden
in my art.

Today, the duality,
the paradox,
between the two beings
sharing the shell of my skin –
the artist who laughs,
jokes,
feels so blissfully alive
in the flow,
and the one who
is so distracted
broken,
afraid,
disjointed
and impractical –
shouts at me so loudly
it causes physical pain.

If i act as though i loathe myself,
i am lying;
if i act as if i love myself,
i am lying.
Neither extreme is truth.

The first testifies
to the worst parts of me,
the shaking shadow of a person
who cannot help but believe
the most loathsome things
that has ever been said
about me.
The second
gives voice
to a joy
that seems indestructible.

In various moments,
both have validity.
Neither aspect of me
can survive on is own.

One would blindly go on,
making art,
ignoring all the world
for such passion;
the other would destroy
my soul
rather than
accept
i am worth
supporting or loving.

Without your help
i will fall into utter ruin,
weakness or art
slamming me hard
against the rocks
until i break into pieces
too small to reconstruct.

The Big Girl Pants
did not work,
nor the education,
nor the ambition,
nor the self-hatred,
nor the vicious punishment

It leaves me exhausted.

Since being an adult
is a failed experiment,
all that is open to me
right now
is to think
of the little child
who was so lost,
marooned in this life
and and the things
that always saved her –
faith that help would come;
complete, awesome gratitude
for even the smallest acts of mercy;
unwavering dreams that gave her rope
when she was falling
so she even when she hit the ground
she was never totally destroyed;
and the foolish, unconquerable
ability to love,
even those who were cruelest,
opening her arms
at the first breath of kindness.

She made no plans,
she suffered but she always
found in her dreams
what she needed
to heal from the injuries
of temporary surrender.
Her love for life was enough
to keep her going,
waiting
for that next moment to pray,
that next small miracle
that would save her
for another few hours.

Screw being a grownup.
Let me have the faith
of that suffering child.
this belief in limitless possibility.
i can really do worse tonight.

8 december 2015

poem: courageous or insane

When i read this poem
months and years from now,
i will be able to tell you
if i am insane,
or if i am courageous
with a smattering of stubbornness
poured on like gravy.

i am doing
what i know how to do –
finally making pottery again,
drawing and painting,
falling into orgies of words
that form in black and white –
the base pair of my creativity.

Reason tells me i have no hope.

Physically, i struggle every day
to do the most basic things
like breathe and move through space.
Socially, i am awkward and afraid,
hamstrung by my anxious incompetence.
Financially, i may be too far gone
for anyone to help,
other than a steady stream of customers.
Spiritually, i am shifting
away from that image of God
so many people have said
cannot love me,
into a broader vision of Spirit,
which unsettles everything.

i am incapable
of surviving
in a world constructed
solely of logic and reason,
dependent upon the tangible alone.
i envy those who can.

i tried,
and barely made it through
the devolution that followed.

So now
when stress eats me alive –
held at bay
only by 10,000 poems
and countless hours of meditation –
i keep fulfilling
my purpose and my dreams
with every able moment.

i throw
my worries
onto the pyre
of art.

After the frenzy of terror passes,
i always return
to a quiet space
where i am certain
i am on the right path.

In a life
during which
i have been sure
of so few things,
this is an irresistible encouragement.
A few seconds spent rejoicing
in that sublime confidence
and i am awakened.
i make more.
Words, clay, and pigment
bend to my need.

i am either embracing madness
or taking an inconvenient path
into tomorrow –
i have no idea
which this is.

But, i am aware
that right now,
in this precise moment,
i am doing all that i can do
and praying i survive
my folly and drive.

6 december 2015

Pecha Kucha

01232015_af_letloveandjoywinAfter a rough start, today became consumed by car shopping and going over my presentation for tomorrow’s pecha kucha. (Now today’s pecha kucha, i suppose.  Winter has made me an incorrigible night owl again.)

i am fascinated to see what tomorrow will bring; i can’t wait to hear the other presentations.

Hopefully, the weather will not turn against us unexpectedly and the roads will be wonderful by the time we are all going to the Alamo in Bucksport.  So far, all are optimistic.

i will write more when i am not completely consumed by the words i will be uttering tomorrow.  They barely allowed another chapter of the book i am writing to puddle out of me this morning.

Although, i suppose i can remark on one accomplishment for which i am grateful: my online store has 568 different choices for you.  Paintings, prints, original pen and inks, greeting cards, bookmarks and .mp3 files – all await for purchase.  My data entry marathon nears its end… only 100 more poems or so.

See you tomorrow!

poem: dreaming of mary

She shouted at me.

IRATE.

Righteous.

She demanded independence
from my cowed spirit.

Nothing but frustration
came forth from her lips,
as she chastised me
for making their words
of cruelty and judgment
real.

“You pasted them to your skin,”
Mary shook her head in anger,
“You wrapped yourself in the memories
of their abuse and rejection
until you were covered like a mummy.”

She pushed me.

She tore off
this comfortable veil
of projections.

She made me realize
that i could no longer see
the real me.

This bent back,
self-loathing and dread,
the cloak of powerlessness,
and bindings of uselessness
worked better than any disguise,
for i believed them.

She slapped me across the face,
like one would someone
who had lost herself to hysteria,
and challenged me to strip off
all these projections,
every single judgment,
and each agonizing story
that i called upon to define me.

“Look at who you really are,
see your soul shining through!”
She shouted at me,
defiant and steadfast,
“And forget what anyone else
has ever thought or said!”

One last fierce shaking
of my malleable form,
and this amazon Mary,
this protective mother-figure
no longer content
to let me dwell in my misery,
let me wake up,
her outrage still ringing
in my ears.

4 april 2013

poem: drifting away

dream in thoughts

Earlier, I was grounded in my senses,
in the earthy, tactile and sensual,
connected to the entire universe
through bonds invisible and tangible.

From that sensation,
came great waves of peace.

Nothing mattered;
i kept moving forward.

For a few fleeting days
fearless confidence
flirted with me.

i don’t even know what made it start,
what particular event or word or exchange
brought me to that fertile soil.

All i know, is that i have drifted away,
back into the ethereal realm of thought,
into the clutches of lonely insecurity.

In this moment,
i can’t believe who i am matters.
i drown in this dark, oppressive water
even though deep in my soul
i know this fear
is only a fiction
created by the mind.

i remain vulnerable.

When my thoughts churn
on plans and bills and goals,
i run on the rocks
and wonder how
i ever experienced
such glorious,
divine
connection.

fighting for courage.

You can't tell, but I carved her name on the bottom left corner to give her credit.
You can’t tell, but I carved her name on the bottom left corner to give her credit. So not selling it, though.

I made a little plaque for myself, a few weeks ago, after I had shown some little children what to do and had empty time while they just painted pottery (and themselves).  It uses the quote from Maya Angelou that I talked about in an earlier blog – and now rests prominently in my studio, a ready reminder.

Oh, how I need those words today.  For all the world, it feels like I am still fighting even though the war was  lost long ago.  I keep trying to get up and throw, but I simply cannot make myself grab the clay.  My limbs feel too weak and heavy; I cannot fight the sense of futility.  Sales have been apocalyptically bad for May and June, making it impossible to dig out from this past winter, my health has not been much better and I have begun to wonder if persisting in my dreams is just a new form of madness.

However, I am caught. Giving up is not an option. This is not so much bravery as self-knowledge. There is nothing else for me – every time I have tried to deviate from this path, my situation became so much worse. I know down to my core this is what I am meant to do.  Also, I am aware that without the solace of art, I have nothing to give.  I become an irredeemable burden to those I love.  Therefore, I must persist.  Trudge forward step after step, no matter how it hurts.  Eventually, I will fight the futility and pick up the clay.

So, I must exercise courage, particularly now when everything seems so bleak.  Usually I am ebullient whenever I have a chance to write or throw or paint or sculpt – just having the opportunity to make art feels like such a blessing.  Thank God, experience has taught me that this drive will overwhelm me eventually, breaking through whatever sorrow or weariness or pain it has to in order to manifest itself.  In the meantime, I have to stoke the coals of faith that my work will eventually turn around – even though all my plans to stay in business have failed and I have come to realize how foolish some of my decisions have been. There could be a silver lining: by surrendering my plans, by burning them up and letting their ash mingle with the wind, maybe I will clear the way for something glorious and unexpected.

 

Restless stress

written Sunday, 29 June 2014

Yesterday, inside the four walls of a cooperative, far away from my wheel and my studio and enough quiet to compose a story, I started to go a little crazy.  I had been asked some very good questions about my business that morning, and they kept ringing through my mind.  Unfortunately, answers did not rise up to greet them.  Instead, restless stress kept echoing within my skull – guilt over the bills I can’t pay quite yet, the amount of work the house requires, the long list of commissions I have to finish, my general incompetence as a businesswoman.  It all just took over, defying every attempt to be present in the moment.  As the day wore on and my physical condition deteriorated, those annoying stress levels kept shooting up.  The last drawing I managed before my hands quite me completely is below: the poem gives a hint of my state of mind. Unable to manifest contentment or hope, I rooted myself in stubbornness.  By the time I made it home, I felt like a dishrag that had been wrung out too violently.

keepflying
The poem: There can be no quitting when you soar near the sun – No matter what setback, keep flying – sometimes surviving means that you’ve won.

Today, I have stayed home, feeling for all the world like I have a stress hangover.  Even though I wanted to very much, I did not go to church.  Even though I kept imagining myself swimming in a lake, I stayed in.  Desperate for quiet stillness, I curled up in bed and rested, reading and thinking about writing (as opposed to actually picking up a pen.)

Yesterday the effort of worry wore me down – and I need time to recuperate.  The most irritating part was that I knew how useless the anxiety was, which added a sense of futility to the stress that made it even more stressful.  I could sense contentment just past my fingertips.  For every tremor of concern that made its way through my body, the memory of peace and contentment floated over my awareness.  I knew better.  I know better. Worrying about sales won’t get me more.  Fretting about the commissions won’t get them done faster.  Listing out every to-do that looms over me won’t make the mountain they create when combined feel less intimidating.  Ringing my hands over money won’t get the accounting done.  Wondering if I have enough energy and focus within me to finish everything I need to get done does nothing to increase my confidence.  Indeed, all that happened was that I became miserable and weary and despondent, the effects of which linger into today.

But, on the bright side, today I have been able to be quiet, still and thoughtful.  If I let myself go for a moment, I could easily fall into the same well.  After all, the work I wanted to do isn’t getting done.  However, I will not go there.  The relief of being out of the pit is too strong; happiness feels vulnerable enough that it should be protected.  I still feel weak, even though my body has finally stopped screaming in pain.  My heart no longer hammers in that odd syncopated way.  And, when I lose my grip on tranquility, I force myself to dig my roots deeper into peace by focusing on two other lists: the list of things I love and the list of things for which I am wildly grateful.

That helps a lot, but it didn’t work just 24 hours ago. The biggest lesson for me this morning was that none of these things helped yesterday.  I was drowning in my discomfort and no sparks of wisdom or reminders of my blessings or even the comfort I took in drawing could save my state of mind.  In the end, I just had to endure it – to accept that I was suffering and wrap myself in one comfort I had: that eventually I would be able to rest, restore myself, and the situation that seemed so dire would become survivable again.

 

poem: Faith dissolves

A poem from my collection – available on amazon.com for kindle – Chaotic Poems of Love and Faith.

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Faith dissolves
into diffuse particles.
No dogma fully defines
anything,
yet the God i sense
as connection,
as pure unhesitating LOVE,
can be as tangible
as any part of Creation.
Images can point
to sacred things,
even when they don’t try;
myths and stories
can reveal deep Truth,
even when i doubt or deny
the specifics of the tale.
Poems have opened me up
with terrifying ease
to expose my soul
to the transformative wind
of the divine.
i am a mess of wonder,
driven by the whip of curiosity.
Moments in my journey
have almost felt certain;
a second later,
i drowned in doubt.
However, this time i find
some comfort in my confusion,
for i no longer take heed
of any calls
to make my faith
conform to another’s model.
i am at peace
within my small,
chaotic
portion of Love.

poem: precious

Faith is more precious than any diamond,
yet when deep in the madness of despair,
i would cast it away
impetuously hurling it into the sea,
not caring if i lost it forever.
But, then, what sense would the waves make,
as they buffet about my boat?
True, they had driven me past the edge,
but with the comfort of belief
i had protection against forsakenness.
Now, even nature herself threatens,
and life seems inherently dangerous –
my faith discovers me again,
in the midst of the worst torment,
like a life preserver tied to my heart
with an unbreakable chain.
i survive.
i survive.
i survive
in my faith.