Sunday, March 27, 2011
We had snow here last night, but by noon it was all melted. When I spoke to my Dad this morning I told him about the snow and he said “It’s kind of late in March for snow.” I am delighted that at 97 he is still oriented enough to know that.
The following poem speaks of “changing everything carefully.” For the last year and a half that’s what I’ve been doing – changing everything carefully – not all at once, not big changes, but real changes.
This is one of my favorite poems for spring.
Spring is like a perhaps hand
(which comes carefully
out of Nowhere)arranging
a window,into which people look(while
arranging and changing placing
carefully there a strange
thing and a known thing here)and
changing everything carefully
spring is like a perhaps
Hand in a window
and from moving New and
people stare carefully
moving a perhaps
fraction of flower here placing
an inch of air there)and
without breaking anything.
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
When I was young, I wanted to be an architect, an actuary, or a physical therapist. I was actually accepted into a graduate program in physical therapy, but I met my husband and got married instead. I have never regretted that decision, but it did change my life. I started working for the Federal Government in 1973, and except for a few years off when my children were born and we lived in Bermuda, I have worked there ever since. My job is interesting, challenging, sensitive, and well paid. I have a thousand stories, but I can’t tell them. I’ve been a front line manager with my agency since 1989, and anyone who has ever managed other employees knows that adds a whole new level of challenge, as well as a lot of stories.
Well, now I am thinking seriously about retiring within the next year, and it suddenly occurred to me that if I live to my father’s age I will be retired for 35 years. What am I going to do with those years? What do I want to be now?
It’s too late to be a physical therapist, but not too late to do volunteer work at the County Recreation Center in the adapted aquatics program. I can’t be an architect, but I have a new camera and I can learn photography. I have my health back. I could move to California and bug my daughter full time. (Just kidding, dear)
So tell me – what did you want to do when you grew up? Did you do it? If you are retired, what are you doing to keep busy?
Here is a poem by John Engman about wanting to be one thing, and settling for something else.
I wanted to be a rain salesman,
because rain makes the flowers grow,
but because of certain diversions and exhaustions,
certain limitations and refusals and runnings low,
because of chills and pressures, shaky prisms, big blows,
and apes climbing down from banana trees, and dinosaurs
weeping openly by glacial shores, and sunlight warming
the backsides of Adam and Eve in Eden ...
I am paid
to make the screen of my computer glow, radioactive
leakage bearing the song of the smart money muse:
this little bleep went to market, this little clunk has none.
The woman who works the cubicle beside me has pretty knees
and smells of wild blossoms, but I am paid to work
my fingers up and down the keys, an almost sexy rhythm,
king of the chimpanzees picking fleas from his beloved.
I wanted to be a rain salesman , but that's a memory
I keep returning to my childhood for minor repairs:
the green sky cracking, then rain, and after,
those flowers growing faster than I can name them,
those flowers that fix me and make me stare.
I wanted to be a rain salesman,
carrying my satchel full of rain from door to door,
selling thunder, selling the way air feels after a downpour,
but there were no openings in the rain department,
and so they left me dying behind this desk—adding bleeps,
subtracting clunks—and I would give a bowl of wild blossoms,
some rain, and two shakes of my fist at the sky to be living.
Above my desk, lounging in a bed of brushstrokes flowers,
a woman beckons from my cheap Modigliani print, and I know
by the way she gazes that she sees something beautiful
in me. She has green eyes. I am paid to ignore her.
Monday, February 21, 2011
I never hated my body, even when I weighed 70 pounds more than I weigh now. I was disappointed that my body was breaking down, health-wise, with the high blood sugar, cholesterol, blood pressure. I was bummed out when walking up a flight of stairs left me winded. But I never hated myself for being that way. My body was still capable of some wonderful things and I appreciated it. Oddly enough, I think that self appreciation actually helped me in my weight loss. Once I made up my mind to be healthier and look better, I knew I was worth it, I knew I was capable. I loved myself enough to make the effort.
Today I'm sharing a poem by Jane Yolen .
Fat Is Not a Fairy Tale
I am thinking of a fairy tale,
where the princess is not
flinging herself down the stairs.
I am thinking of a fairy tale,
Hansel and Great,
Bounty and the Beast,
where the beauty
has a pillowed breast,
and fingers plump as sausage.
I am thinking of a fairy tale
that is not yet written,
for a teller not yet born,
for a listener not yet conceived,
for a world not yet won,
where everything round is good:
the sun, wheels, cookies, and the princess.
Sunday, December 26, 2010
I got three books of poetry for my birthday this year, so I decided to share a poem from each one of them to help me get started blogging again. This poem is from a book my son gave me called The Poets Laureate Anthology, which was developed in association with the Library of Congress. My son works at the Library of Congress, and he knows I love poetry, so it was a good choice. In days to come I will pick a poem from each of the books my sister gave me.
I opened my new book at random and found the following poem by Rita Dove, who was Poet Laureate from 1993 to 1995. There is a lot of good stuff in this poem. I love the line: Don’t let a little pain stop you; try as hard as you can every minute you’re given or else sit down and shut up. I also like the idea of measuring a life in deeds.
See what you think.
My grandmother told me there’d be good days
to counter the dark ones,
with blue skies in the heart as far
as the soul could see. She said
you could measure a life in as many ways
as there were to bake a pound cake,
but you still needed real butter and eggs
for a good one—pound cake, that is,
but I knew what she meant. She was always
talking around corners like that;
she knew words carried their treasures
like a grape cluster around its own juice.
She loved words; she thought a book
was a monument to the glory of creation
and a library…well, sometimes
just trying to describe Jubilation
will get you a bit tongue, so let’s
leave it at that. But my grandmother
was nobody’s fool, and she’d tell anybody
smart enough to listen. Don’t let a little pain
stop you; try as hard as you can
every minute you’re given or else
sit down and shut up—though in her opinion,
keeping quiet in noisy times was a sin
against everything God and democracy
intended us for. I know she’d like
where I’m standing right now. She’d say
a man who could measure his life in deeds
was larger inside than the vessel that carried him;
she’d say he was a cluster of grapes.
My grandmother was only four feet ten
but when she entered a room, even the books
came to attention. Giants come in all sizes:
Sometimes a moment is a monument;
sometimes an institution breathes—
like a library. Like this halcyon day.
Sunday, November 14, 2010
I did strength training at the gym yesterday. At the end of my session, the Fit Linx system said I'd lifted 12, 650 pounds. How did I do that? If you put a box weighing 12, 650 pounds on the ground in front of me there is no way I could lift it.
On the chest press, I lift 20 pounds at a time. On the leg press I lift 95 pounds. I do 10 machines, 2 sets on each machine, 10 to 15 repetitions in each set. So I lifted that weight 20 to 95 pounds at a time. In other words, I take it one step at a time and it adds up. That is one of the most important things I've learned at Spark People - take it one step at a time. Don't try to lose 10 pounds in a week, be happy if you lose one. Don't start by running a marathon, aim for 10 minutes of walking a day. Start small and build on those small steps.
Do what's possible, and do it consistently, and you'll be amazed what you can accomplish.
Here's a sweet little poem by Emily Dickinson about possibilities:
I dwell in Possibility –
A fairer House than Prose –
More numerous of Windows –
Superior – for Doors –
Of Chambers as the Cedars –
Impregnable of Eye –
And for an Everlasting Roof
The Gambrels of the Sky –
Of Visitors – the fairest –
For Occupation – This –
The spreading wide my narrow Hands
To gather Paradise –
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