30 November 2009

Kaleidoscope Children

100 Word Challenge

This post is in response to Velvet Verbosity's 100 word challenge: kaleidoscope.

Kaleidoscope Children

Prophecies come in dreams.
In my dream daughter
ate the tall plant in our house. I
feared it would take her, evolve
her into a new life form. It grew
wild, filled the house.

This greenwoman staked
her place on mother earth, glimpsed
her power connected
to dark rain forest plant people. Spoke
anew "all my relations."

It's specific, this
injunction. Leads to love. Brings
combinations of colors in shifting patterns. Enchanting
Little Ones mirror, mesmerize, evolve us all.

I panicked in my dream. Demanded
"No more plant eating!"
As if I could stop it,
or needed to.

28 November 2009

Guest Post: New Elders (or Groovy Young Grannies!)

I had the good fortune to win Nan's contest (http://thingsivefoundinpockets.blogspot.com) to name the column she's writing for the Bournemouth Echo (Island Hopping). The prize is having Nan as a guest blogger! You'll like her writing.
I seized the opportunity to ask a member of the next generation what she wants from her elders for herself and her children. I like her answer. Who doesn't like being called the "New Elder" or a "Groovy Young Granny". This might start a trend to ask other guest bloggers to address this question. Thanks, Nan.

Guest Post:

The word “Elder” used to refer to a precious few people. In the days before antibiotics, retirement and central heating our lifespans were so much shorter than they are now that few people ever knew their great-grandparents.

My children have been fortunate enough to know two great-grandmothers well: They have told their stories of life in the olden days, the first car they ever saw, breaking ice to wash their faces in the morning, watching buildings bombed during two wars, getting a “new” dress cut down from three previous sisters. The great-grandmothers are the “Crones”, the storytellers.

Mary has asked me what I think of the New Elders, the groovy young grannies. Mum and I have also talked about the way the world has changed. When I was little we spent, as far as I remember, EVERY SINGLE Sunday with my nearby grandparents, and distant grandparents would come and visit for months! Grandparents nowadays are a different breed. They have a busy schedule and projects galore which keep them busy and make them interesting. My generation do not expect our mothers to be on-call babysitters. What DO I think of this? How do our parents enrich our lives now?

My youngest son Max seemed to hit the nail on the head recently. He told his Grandmother that he didn’t have any jammies. Now this was not strictly true, he has plenty of perfectly fine jammies. But what he really meant was “I need special, different jammies handmade by my Grandmother.” These are jammies that no-one else has. They are funky and when he wears them, he knows that he is loved especially.

The special love that my kids get from their grandparents has helped to make them what they are. An interest in plants leads to gardening expeditions and botany lessons. Grandparent “playing” on the potters wheel? The grandchildren join in the game. Special, favourite food? Grandma will cook it best. We all need to feel special and adored, and grandparents fill that role nicely, while parents to do the “dirty work” of discipline, carrots and bedtime. With his parents, a child’s needs are met. With his grandparents, his life is enriched.

What about me? I am enriched by my parents’ education and experience. If Mum has read a great book or spoken to a great person, I can get the rundown, the information. My parents (and in-laws) notice things about the kids that I might not, and give valuable advice. Even if I don’t agree, the discussion is good. I’m lucky. My dealings with my Elders have been almost entirely positive. I need the experiences of my Elders in a rapidly changing world. I need to be reminded what it was like to raise a child thirty years ago, when TV only existed for a few hours a day. I need the family gossip and history. I need a thousand cups of tea and information.

The Elders are also the ones who glue the family together. Who is in charge of Christmas Lunch? Certainly not me, though I file the recipes away (recipes for stuffing, seating and calm) for the day when I am an Elder myself.

Looking online, I find HUNDREDS of excellent websites by Elders, for Elders, wondering what their position is in this new world. Many of those sites have discussion forums where young people flock to ask questions or find a listening ear. We young people seem to know intuitively that the Elders have the answers. Or if not the answers, then the right questions. I suspect that the New Elders are an evolving phenomenon. It will be interesting to see what happens in the next generation. I wonder what sociologists think? The New Elders need a place in the Evolution of Man, and I think they’ve found it.

27 November 2009

A Time I Had Magic

This was written in response to the prompt "give" by The 100 Word Challenge of Velvet Verbosity in the belief that there are many ways to give life.

100 Word Challenge

A Time I Had Magic

I saved a life once.
On a Nebraska Reservation
a baby boy was born
blue, limp, silent.

The doctor, a stranger
to these people and tired
said: "Leave him,
he will die."

His mother turned
her head, refused to hold him,
said: "Take him away,
he has eleven fingers."

I was his nurse.
I focused on him,
massaged his feet,
stroked his still chest.

Life loitered,
crept in slowly.
He breathed,
he moved,
turned pink.

Connected to life,
I fed it to him
like milk.
Whispered: "Welcome, little boy."

It was that kind of magic.

25 November 2009


In October, my husband, John, and I were asked to be the celebrants for a Ceremony Of Love for our niece, Judith, and her partner, Kim. We'd not done such a thing before but our love and support for these wonderful young women prompted us to say "yes".
I'm glad we did.

Like many things, it was after the event that the fuller meaning of it filtered in. The experience itself, the feedback from those there, the talking about it afterwords, the thinking about it has occurred and now I feel ready to write about it.

My goal/obsession lately has been to find how to become a wise woman, a crone, an elder in my community, to find a way to give back for all I've been given. I see it as the purpose of this journey I'm on in this life phase. It's my work of this life phase. It's important to me. I get surprised when I realize not everyone my age is obsessed with this. It's why I'm keeping a blog and trying to link up with other seekers for inspiration and support. It's the reason I make the choices I do in my reading at this point.

It's connected for me to our family's 6th woman's gathering (see Nov 7 post, The Gathering, 2009), which took place in Philadelphia just before the Celebration. It was a time of deep sharing. It marked a turning point in our gatherings and showed that we have become a real working personal growth group and profound support for one another. My daughter, her 8 women cousins and my sister-in-law have gathered every year for 6 years. I admire them for their commitment! I set this gathering up originally as a way to provide a forum for healing for the young women in our family. It has become that. I never really thought about how this would change me. Or how it would change my daughter's or nieces' view of me.

And then a simple thing happened. I was asked to be a celebrant at my niece's Celebration Of Love. I felt it as an honor, a sacred responsibility and a joyous opportunity to serve. But now I think it also means that I am already seen as an elder by the women of this next generation in my family, maybe a budding wise woman/crone, too.

Maybe this is the way things happen. I saw what needed to be done - in this case to heal part of my family - and did it. In the process others noticed and acknowledged it. My self-perception changed when I listened to them and caught up with myself. That's less important, though, than doing what needs doing, being a leader when leadership is needed, finding the way in front of us to serve.

24 November 2009

Giving Thanks

A number of years ago when I was having a particularly hard time and feeling really awful about my life I read a suggestion to keep a gratitude log listing 5 specific things every day that I was grateful for. I thought it was hokey but I was desperate so I got a spiral notebook and started writing. I felt awkward at first but I kept writing 5 things I was grateful for each day thereafter. Some days it was a pitiful list of things like being grateful I could write at all or grateful that the day dawned after the night. But it taught me gradually to see the blessings all around me rather than just the problems. Actually, before too long, I did start to feel strengthened and grateful for my life rather than overwhelmed by it.

I kept this practice going for a year and liked the discipline of having to be very specific about what I felt grateful for that day. The discipline to train my eye to see all that was there that day rather than just where my fear led me.

Now I find myself more easily recognizing all there is to be grateful for. Today, for instance: 1. I'm grateful for the sun shining into the apartment and warming the living room and kitchen so deliciously. 2. Which brings its corollary- I'm grateful for a temperature of 60 degrees on Nov 24. 3. I'm grateful for the begonia that keeps right on blooming its beautiful red flowers although its siblings have stopped. 4. I'm grateful for the 2 elderly women who delighted in waving and greeting me as I ran by them this morning. 5. I'm grateful for John saying he thought I looked sexy in my outfit today.

Thanksgiving is not celebrated in Italy but I think it's one of the better things the USA has come up with. So, I'm reviewing my gratitude list and realizing it's long. I hope yours is too or that you try keeping a gratitude list until it is.

p.s. On an ongoing basis, I'm grateful for this role of grandmother and for these new little lives in our family. They help me to see the wonder in each moment.

20 November 2009

Silk Dress

This is in response to the 100 word challenge on the topic "material"
by Velvet Verbosity.

100 Word Challenge

Silk Dress

"Come into my room
help me choose the dress.
Is it too morbid of me to ask?"
Your first choice a fuchsia dress
silk, long-sleeved, belted.
"Is it too garish for a funeral?"
You decided:
wear what you liked,
bright color a deliberate
counterpoint to your fading.

Final statement
by a legend of stylish dressing.
"Perfect choice, Mom."
"Guess what? It's a size 10!"
We laughed at your perverse
pleasure, loss of weight
even to cancer
size 10, even in your casket.

It had its intended effect.
Mourners said how lovely
your dress was, how so like you.

(Mary H. Warren in loving memory of Mary M. Harvey)

18 November 2009

Traditional Irish Blessing - E-Water

Traditional Irish Blessing - E-Water
I received this in an email from a friend and it made me savor the memories of Ireland. I've traveled to some of the places pictured and I have the music on my ipod. It's a lovely blessing and a counter point to yesterdays post. Beauty surrounds us whether it's goddess made or person made. Either is capable of moving us to tears if we let it into our heart. Both make us glad we showed up and paid attention. Both inspire us to do that more.
I send this in the gratitude of the Thanksgiving season.

(click on the title within this box to view)


Really- where do I start? It's Paris and this was my first visit. LouCeel has a wordless Wednesday and maybe the photos alone will do it, but just a few words, please! 1. The Musée du Louvre, 2. Musée d'Orsay, 3. Aphrodite, 4. The Winged Victory of Samothrace, 5. The Mona Lisa. All in one beautiful place? Paris, sigh...

08 November 2009

Thoughts From My Balcony

Our balcony was in sunshine this morning after my run. It spilled into our south facing living room, dining room and kitchen warming the tiles and us. But there is snow on the mountain tops in the distance. Saw a sprinkling the end of October but this is extensive and probably kicks off skiing season up there. It's beautiful on these clear days but I like looking at it in the distance rather than the up close and personal of Maine. I'm eager to know first hand what winter is like in this part of Italy. So far so good.

Been doing a lot of thinking about where to go from here with the profound experiences I've had and my involved family members have had in our yearly woman's circle (see previous post). I've been searching for a way to contribute to my community. In terms of what I'm passionate about- this is it. But how do I bring this to the wider community?

07 November 2009

The Gathering, 2009

About the whole quantity/ quality time together thing: quality takes quantity. I saw this year how 6 years of gathering has lead to deeper sharing more quickly. Let me explain.

6 years ago, after moving back to the east coast from California, I wanted to reconnect with my then adult nieces. I had fallen out of contact after 14 years on the west coast. I had no relationship at all with the younger ones.

I also wanted to set up a forum where we could heal the wounds of our family. Grandchildren were coming so the cycle of violence needed to end. I hoped we could end it together.

I joined with my 2 sisters-in-law (my husband's sister and my younger brother's wife) and we put out a call to my daughter, my older brother's 5 daughters and my younger brother's 3 daughters. I wasn't sure how many would come since they lived all over the USA and in Trinidad. I explained what I hoped to initiate and, to my amazement, all 9 young women came for a 3 day gathering in Maine. I called it "the nieces gathering" and they called it "the cousins gathering" but all agreed on the importance of healing ourselves and our family for our own benefit and the benefit of our next generation (1 daughter in each family had a child by then).

We had a theme (Celebrating Women in Family) and an agenda to facilitate sharing. We also had fun activities and down time to just hang out and reconnect. It was a fabulous time. We shared our stories, laughed and cried together and made ceremonies for our healing. Everyone either came early or stayed late to extend our time together.

Well, against all odds, we've all met every year since! 3 times in Maine, twice in Florida and once in Philadelphia. We've Celebrated Love, Generations, Change, Transitions and Passion. We've grown closer, helped my husband's sister die, had more babies, loves, divorces, and a marriage. Both crones turned 60. I've grown closer to these amazing young women and admire their commitment to themselves and to one another. They've grown closer to one another and support each other during the rest of the year as well. They're friends.

And, yes, healing has happened along the way. From the first year when most of the talk was about past hurts to this year when the past hardly came up. Everyone is now focused on herself and growing in the ways that each one thinks is best. And have I said how remarkable they are? How I have come to treasure my relationship with them? How fortunate I count myself?

The photo above is our latest gathering (October, 09) and the one above that is the first. I'm grateful for this gathering. I'm glad we've taken the time together.

03 November 2009

3 Weeks With Family and Friends

I need to find a way to publish posts in the midst of 3 week vacations. Otherwise, here it is, too long since my last post and so much to share. It was a happy whirlwind of a time in the USA. Some things I learned:

- I hope I have my father's constitution. He's a sharp, healthy (except for some unsteadiness on his feet) 93 year old who knows more about current events than I do. He goes dancing twice a week leaning on his cane and his dance partner!

- Rings worn for a long time can carry the energy of the one who wore them. My Dad gave me my mother's engagement ring, which she wore for 54 years, and I felt her presence when I put it on.

- Old friends are the best when it comes to deeply sharing. Had a wonderful time with friends of 35 years in New Hampshire. It started the vacation well to just hang out and talk, really talk, about what's going on, where I'm at and where I'm going. There's a kind of listening that good friends can bring to a conversation that supports, challenges and brings clarity.

- Some girlfriends are great to go shopping with.

- Fall in New England is nature in her most spectacular colors. This year the leaves were gorgeous!

- It's fun to party with friends from a few years ago to check in and see where our various paths have led us.

- People are generous by nature when given the chance to be.

- Whoever made the distinction between quality time being better than quantity time missed the point. We need quantity time to achieve quality time. More about that in my next post but just having a good stretch of time together without a heavy agenda can lead to deepening relationships.

- Grandchildren are surely sweet rewards from the goddess! Is there anything better than early morning snuggles and giggles with a 7 and 3 1/2 year old?

- Love is the generous gift of the universe and inspires awe in its presence! It brings hope, joy and never gets old. Helping young lovers celebrate their commitment to each other is a privilege and a duty to support our loved ones as others supported us.

- 6 years of circling together and sharing deepens the bonds among the gatherers and the personal growth of each participant (more about this, too, in the next post). Can families heal themselves so that the present and next generation can be healthier? Yes they can!

- Being with family that love and honor you changes your perception of yourself.

- It's good to be home and now have time to mine the deep meaning of this rich time. I sense it holds important answers on my mission and role.