Becoming a Warrior of the Light & Discovering the Sacred: A Spiritual Autobiography of Sorts

Last week I had to write my Spiritual Autobiography for the Spirituality and Counseling class I’m taking this quarter. This particular assignment scared me a bit. More than a bit. In fact, just thinking about this assignment made me itch. … Continue reading

Shadows, Poems, & Projections: Just a few haiku

It’s one thing to say I’m going to start writing the truth, as I did in my previous blog. Actually doing it? That’s quite another matter, but here’s a first attempt. When I write these haiku, whom am I speaking to? Who is the “you” in my poetry? As I was reminded in one of my classes last week (rather inelegantly, but still), whenever we point our finger at someone else, we are really pointing back at our shadow selves, those parts of ourselves we are at war with. We are always projecting our fears and hopes, desires and needs onto those around us. And so it is with my poetry. Sure, these may be inspired by a particular person. There’s a muse, to be certain, but on deeper reflection, I am “you.” You are me, and to paraphrase the Beatles, we are all together. Goo goo g’joob.

I loved the way you
Swept the door open and bowed,
Welcoming me in.

We had a language–
an undercurrent, riptide.
I drowned in your words

You bequeathed to me
This gift of desperation
Exquisitely wrapped

Stop outguessing me.
Just walk your way, and I’ll run
mine. We’ll meet midway.

You do walk alone.
Were you breathless, keeping up
With my racing heart?

I’ve been your hostage
Since I read that first poem–
Enslaved by those words.

I am the blue sky
And you are the deep green sea
Breathe the air between

New Year Haiku

Sitting, staring, contemplating

Sitting, staring, contemplating, notebook in hand.

During the holidays I had the luxury of time, during which I was able to write some new haiku. I’m always amazed at how a few moments of contemplation can result in words, images, and phrases arriving and coalescing into something more, how an hour or two staring into space or at the sea creates the space in me to realize metaphors and make connections.

I want 2016 to include more of these moments, stolen away from the pressures of daily life. I want 2016 to be a year of more poetry.

This ache, unyielding,
Spreads through my bones. Malignant
Love, metastasized.

Pulled by your tides and
Seduced by your moon, I float
Free in your salt sea

Dreams of you send me
Beyond the curve of the earth
Spinning through night skies

Wash me, erode me–
Rough surf, relentless pounding.
Can’t swim in these waves

I hope you don’t mind,
Ersatz inspiration, you
Are my makeshift muse

I want to be as
relentless as the ocean
pursuing the shore

Anxious attacks me–
All soft syllables, she bites
With ferocity

We could be breathing
Side by side. Instead you chose
Only to exhale

There’s new light on the
horizon. Nighttime will slip
Away into dawn

Some days I forget–
Even deep scars fade with time.
Blood and tears both dry.

I googled your name.
A thousand not-yous filled my
Screen. Damned imposters.

We are all blind in
Our refusal to really
See one another

Choosing blindness won’t
Render you invisible.
My vision is clear

Uninsulated
This fear electrifies–my
Body, conduit

50 Happy Things for 2015: Bloggers Unite in Flood of Gratitude

My first Ragnar leg--1 of 3

My first Ragnar leg–1 of 3

Hello! I’ve been lucky enough to be asked to join a group of bloggers who are writing the 50 things for which they are grateful. The trick was we had to write the list in 10 minutes (adding pictures and links came later and did not count toward the total time).  I had no trouble at all coming up with so many things to be thankful for. Life is rich. I live in a beautiful place. I have a solid support network, good friends, a loving family. When times get hard, I try to remember these things. I started the list off with some of the things I repeat to myself on mornings when running is challenging–I am grateful for my body parts that all work as they should.  If you’d like to join in on the gratitude blogging fun, you can find instructions at the bottom of this blog. Enjoy!

  • Strong legs
  • Healthy heart
  • Good lungs
  • Massage therapy with Kristi
  • Physical therapy with Clare
  • My regular therapy therapist
  • The time I have every day to run
  • The beautiful trails in Bellingham

Chuckanut Trail

Chuckanut Trail–Summer

IMG_0268

Chuckanut Trail–Fall

  • Anna and Taylor
  • My house and home

Taylor, a few years ago

Taylor, a few years ago

Anna, a few years ago :)

Anna, a few more years ago

  • Dungeness crab
  • The Red Wheelbarrow writing community
  • My brother and his family
  • The opportunity to go to school, again
  • The road trip I took this summer
  • Beautiful days on the Oregon coast
  • The trip to Mexico this summer with my brother and niece

madeline_me_mexico

My niece and me in Salulita, Mexico

My brother and my niece, in Chacala, Mexico

My brother and my niece, in Chacala, Mexico

  • Being Freshly Pressed
  • Writing
  • My writing friends
  • Being asked to read my friend’s memoir
  • Money in the bank

The Skedgers (two of us, anyway) at a write out

The Skedgers (two of us, anyway) at a write out

jeep1

The Jeep

Bellingham Bay Marathon, Finisher Medal and 4th place ribbon (in my age group)

Bellingham Bay Marathon, Finisher Medal and 4th place ribbon (in my age group)

Some of my Ragnar team, after the Chuckanut Foot Race

Some of my Ragnar team, after the Chuckanut Foot Race

  • Sweet computer skillz
  • Christmas Eve with the family
  • Friends from school
  • Marge, for letting us stay in her home this quarter
  • New friends
  • Old friends
  • Carpools

The labyrinth at the AROHO retreat, Ghost Ranch, NM

The labyrinth at the AROHO retreat, Ghost Ranch, NM

Pearrygin Lake, Winthrop

Pearrygin Lake, Winthrop

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Anna's new car!

Anna’s new car!


To join in on the fun:

If you’d like to join in, here’s how it works: set a timer for 10 minutes; timing this is critical. Once you start the timer, start your list. The goal is to write 50 things that made you happy in 2015, or 50 thing that you feel grateful for. The idea is to not think too hard; write what comes to mind in the time allotted. When the timer’s done, stop writing. If you haven’t written 50 things, that’s ok. If you have more than 50 things and still have time, keep writing; you can’t feel too happy or too grateful! When I finished my list, I took a few extra minutes to add links and photos.

To join the bloggers who have come together for this project: 1) Write your post and publish it (please copy and paste the instructions from this post, into yours) 2) Click on the link at the bottom of this post. 3) That will take you to another window, where you can past the URL to your post. 4) Follow the prompts, and your post will be added to the Blog Party List.

Please note that only blog posts that include a list of 50 (or an attempt to write 50) things that made you feel Happy or 50 things that you are Grateful for, will be included. Please don’t add a link to a post that isn’t part of this exercise. 

http://www.inlinkz.com/new/view.php?id=592585

Just a Few End of Summer Haiku

Here is my entire haiku output for August and September. Not much. Not many syllables. Haven’t felt inspired. Except for these few haiku. Enjoy.

I have stopped writing
Poetry for you each night,
My reluctant muse.

What if we just breathe
together? Inhaling the
essence of ourselves

Marriage should not be
reduced to a tally, two
columns, keeping score

Today we untwist
One last thread, our gradual
great unraveling

Still unspoken, the
Honest truth sticks in my throat.
Captive to these fears.

Our story landed
Hard on my heart–opening,
Tenderizing me.

Inhale these words—breathe.
Let me carve our script inside
of you, a rough draft

Ragnar Wrap Up (and a Few Haiku for Kicks)

July has been a slow haiku month. I had many other things going on—writing answers to all of the comments on the same sex marriage blog, for one thing. I just finished that up last night—and wow, was I blown away by the outpouring of understanding and support. I don’t think I had one seriously negative comment, not one that made me cringe or wince or get self-righteous and defensive. Two I deleted because they were rants from bible thumpers telling me how I was an abomination and going to hell, but that’s neither news nor unexpected. I decided they didn’t need any airtime.

So, thank you Dear Readers for reading and responding. I don’t have anything else nearly as deep or profound to say at this moment—I’ve been running and writing, so here is a Ragnar Wrap Up and a handful of haiku I’ve written in the past 30 days or so.

jeep

Bad ass sticker on my Jeep window

Ragnar Rocked. I seriously pondered dropping out just a week before the big race, but I couldn’t leave my teammates in a lurch, and am I ever glad I sucked up my fears and followed through. My doubt was daunting as I had no idea how I would fare riding for 36 hours in a van with six women (and one man), most of whom I did not know well at all. I didn’t know if I would even be able to run after hours in the van or at odd hours. At home, I’ve become a well-oiled machine, and my pre-running routine is down to a science. Coffee. Fiber. Rest . . . Go. You know what I’m talking about. But could I take it on the road?

Van One for Team Miles of Smiles

Van One for Team Miles of Smiles

Turns out, I can! I had a great three legs. For the uninitiated, Ragnar NWP is a 200ish mile relay race that begins at Peace Arch Park in Blaine, WA (at the Canadian Border) and ends at the Langley Fairgrounds on South Whidbey Island. Six- or 12- person teams start staggered by overall predicted time (the slower the team, the earlier the start time on Friday morning). Our leg one runner left at 6:45 (I think) or maybe 7:15. Anyway our team of 12 started EARLY. Since I ran legs 5, 17, and 29, I was in Van 1 with those who ran Legs 1-6 (and our driver, the lovely and patient Ryan Valentine).

Without boring you with the mile-by-mile details, I’ll just leave it at this: I would do it again tomorrow with all the same people (if they will still have me). I can’t remember a more exciting two days, honestly. Intense and amazing. The camaraderie, the can-do attitudes (especially from Van 2 which had all the super shitty middle of the night and dead of the afternoon hot legs).

Team Miles of Smiles crossing the finish line

Team Miles of Smiles crossing the finish line

We did great.  We all crossed the finish line together, led by the indefatigable Cami Ostman . We got our bad-ass medals and the sticker for the back of the car. That’s pretty much the entire reason I signed up for this gig.

And now, here are just a few haiku. Enjoy!

Long, languid, lacy–
Your tendrils wrap ’round my spine.
Sweet strangulation.

Electrified, I
Vibrate with this current. I
Am your conduit

Bring a map–my heart’s
Geography runs rough through
Difficult terrain.

This angel has holes
In her wings; tattered, lacy
Gossamer. Flightless.

Relentless, teeming
Sucking bucket of need, I
Tug your sleeve. See me.

Our silence stretches
Beyond reason. This stubborn
Void reverberates.

Drown me. Hold my head
Under your water, gasping,
Breathless. So alive.

Irrefutable–
Same love, same protections, same.
Immutable rights

Tonight I bathed in
That potent elixir of
Regret, shame, and guilt

Overdue Haiku

I haven’t been writing much haiku recently—but I have managed to eke out a few in the past several months. Now is as good a time as any to share them. I’m working on a longer blog piece—my intention is to finish out the alphabet that I started in April, and I’m currently working on V. It’s proving to be somewhat Vexing—but I plan to finish it before school starts again in July. In fact, I’d like to wrap up the rest of the alphabet: V, W, X, Y, and Z before I resume my studies.

In the meantime, enjoy these, please.

We can’t finish what
we started. The pieces of
our pasts too puzzling.

You gifted me this
path. A bittersweet gesture
Since it leads nowhere.

You’re my Proof of Life
photo, ignoring this, our
relentless torture

Here’s tonight’s lesson:
Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha
It’s like this. This too

You left just silence
On my altar–some off’ring
Bloodless sacrifice

Open that tightly
closed fist–you can cradle worlds
in an open palm

Paradox
Loosen your grasp. Let
me go, and in the release
find deliverance

Rise with me–spiral
Up. Let us float heavenward
Toward hope and bliss

Sink with me–spiral
Down. The depths await. Sometimes
Hope simply won’t float

This grief well runs deep
Dowse here to discover my
Tears’ artesian spring

True happiness lies
In the letting go, in the
Absence of desire

I paid your ransom
With deposits from my soul–
Some installment plan

Even in silence
the Muse inspired. In her
quiet presence, grace.

I’d steal your kisses
If I could–a thief in the
Night. Unexpected.

I have read about
the tomb of longing and find
I am trapped inside

One awakening
Or many? Dwell in the now.
Breathe deeply. Again.

I’ve electrified
The fence around my heart. I’ll
post High Voltage signs.

Drown me. Hold my head
Under your water, gasping,
Breathless. So alive.

Ignite me. Touch your
Match to this tinder, my dry
Fuel needs a flame.

Once, someone asked me to explain my poems. This is what I said:

For me, it’s all about what is churning inside of me at the moment, feelings that I can’t make sense of or get a grip on I can somehow, magically or through this alchemy of words, distill the feelings down, make them manageable. The reader brings her own feelings to the same words and the meaning changes–I love the ambiguity and the not knowing. The mystery and the freedom to interpret and wonder. I started focusing on the power in each word, the impact that just the right word could have, double entendres and deeper meanings. I’ve started bringing this consciousness to my regular writing though it’s much easier in 17 syllables than in a book length manuscript and it makes it richer, deeper when the words can have meanings on so many levels. I feel like I go on a personal journey writing these, and then when I release them to the universe I see them  differently again. Layers.

I is for Inspiration

IApril is an inspirational month for runners. Just check out these two anniversaries I happened upon recently.

Terry Fox. I ran across this article today on Facebook. Terry Fox began his epic run across Canada 35 years ago. That number feels impossible. Can it be that long ago that this 22-year-old kid took off on one good leg and one prosthetic leg on his Marathon of Hope? He covered about 16 miles a day, day after day for 143 days, over 3339 miles in all. Amazing. Inspirational. Seemingly impossible, even for someone with two good legs.

Check out his foundation’s website here.

Katherine Switzer. In 1967 Katherine became the first woman to run the Boston Marathon. You can read her story here, on her website. Forty-eight years later, it’s difficult to believe that women were ever not allowed to run marathons. Inconceivable, in fact. In spite of being physically attacked on the course, (by the race co-director!) Switzer completed the marathon in four hours and 20 minutes. In 1975 she finished in two hours and 50 minutes. She’s run the marathon 8 times.

That’s a lot of inspiration for one day, folks. May we all find the motivation to get up off the couch and move. Perhaps we will even inspire someone.

 

I’m Baaack! For NaPoWriMo and the 2015 A-to-Z Challenge

I know, I know. It’s been far too long since I last posted. But I’m back, at least for the month of April, to once again participate in the A-to-Z Daily Blog Challenge. If you remember, I did this last year as well, writing a blog a day for 30 days throughout the month of April.

I’m also planning to participate in NaPoWriMo to celebrate National Poetry Month—which is also in April—by writing a poem a day for the month. If all goes according to plan, I’ll be posting a haiku that ties into whatever the daily theme is for my blog.

I haven’t yet decided if I will blog on a theme for the month or leave it open to my daily whims. Some themes I’ve been pondering:

  • Running
  • Writing
  • Menopause

If I go with Running as a theme, here are possible topics for my first few days:

  • A is for April (my running buddy, not the month)
  • B is for Brooks (how is it I can identify the make and model of so many running shoes?)
  • C is for Clothing or Why Does My Closet Smell Like That?
  • D is for Data (How far? How fast? How many calories? Don’t make me run without my Nike app)
  • E is for Eating Everything

If I go with, oh, say, Menopause instead, I could write about these topics:

  • A is for Hot Flashes
  • B is for Black Cohosh Smells and Tastes Terrible
  • C is for Cold Compresses
  • D is for Don’t Touch Me! (I’m too hot)
  • E is for Estrogen, Please (don’t make me grovel)
  • F is for Fire (as in I’m on Fire, again)
  • G is for Get Away From Me (it’s too hot to be this close)
  • H is for Heat (is it HOT in here or is it me?)
  • I is for Igloo (or yes, I DO keep my house that cold)

Or I may just write about whatever pleases me in the moment. Tune in later this week to find out what I’ve decided.

Writing and running
Finding inspiration through
My perspiration