Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Poem for a Grey Day

Oh the sky is so grey and wet today.

The grass is soggy and the tree bark, drenched as black as coal.

The pale yellow horse stands in the meadow, draped in a purple cape and that too is soaked.

There is no escaping the gloomy outdoors.

Moreover, there is no escaping the fact that 

I can't seem to find anything I want to do. 

I babbled on-line using my Italian instruction program for a while.

And I considered cleaning out my closet. Not yet.

When I think about painting, I hesitate.

I hate that hesitation. 

But there is this:

this poem, this laying one word down after another all the while reaching inside excavating around your heart that feels so heavy today to dig away, the same way you did yesterday when you were planting tulip bulbs. It was reassuring, that feeling of the wooden handle solid in both my hands and my foot on the metal shovel, digging down, lifting soil rocks roots and then 

dropping the sleek little tulip bulbs -- some with papery skins -- pointy side up into the holes. Then covering them up and crossing my fingers, hoping for flowers next April and May.

When the weather clears, I will plant more bulbs.

Meanwhile,  there is this: 

writing these lines has brought me to a calm place, where I can just sit here and face outdoors,

watch the horses graze and the birds diving back and forth in the sky.

I thank God for words. For their power to communicate from one mind to another.

For their power to soothe the aching soul, showing you that just sitting, just breathing 

is enough.

For their ability to transform a sad day, adding moments of peace 

that would otherwise have been missed.

Thursday, October 21, 2021

The Abandoned One Finds Herself in the Midst of a Healing Crisis

 It is the second week of October and the morning air is cool and soft and sunny as Claudia walks barefoot on the thick grass of the front yard. When the breeze comes up, she lifts her arms out to either side and she feels like she could lift off and fly up toward the heavens.

Claudia smiles. She fills the bright blue watering can and waters the new purple and orange and yellow coneflowers. She notes with sadness that the orange cosmos are gone, as is the beebalm, but there are still piles of bright pink and purple and red petunias everywhere. And lots of yellow chrysanthemums and beautiful orange and red lantana near her study.

Claudia -- who used to be the fictional character Leah -- is in her blue bathrobe this morning. She recalls all those mornings that winter of 2020 when she wore the robe out in the yard, when snow and ice were still piled in the yard. She recalls lying in the snow with and without her emerald green jacket.

She has been many places since those chapters. She has made progress, if there is such a thing, in healing herself. She has faced many truths about her own life, and the lives of her parents and her ancestors. She is happy about what she wrote.

There are still more stories of course. More lessons.  More healing. Especially now that she is facing the new health challenge. The one that scares her silly.

Part of this challenge, she realizes this morning, involves the story 


"La Abandonatha" --

The Abandoned One. Her great grandmother Domenica Rotondo. 

Mother to her grandfather Claude.

Domenica stayed behind in Italy while all six of her sons, including Claude, came to America in order to find a better life. Claude was only 16 when he left the village of San Giovanni di Paganica, in the Abruzzi region of Italy. It is a village surrounded by the white peaks of the Gran Sasso.

He never saw his mother again.

Only one of Domenica's children stayed behind. The only girl in the family, was named Giselda. Every Sunday afternoon, Giselda and her daughter Lauretta had to visit Domenica, who was always so sad.

They had to listen to her moan about the fact that all of her sons had abandoned her. That's how she earned the name La Abandonatha.

Mary points out that Domenica was playing into the stereotypes about women who spend their lives abandoning and sacrificing themselves because of men.

Every Sunday, Domenica’s daughter and granddaughter visited her, but instead of enjoying them, she chose to focus on her sons’ absence.

“She abandoned the life she had. She had people who loved her, but it was only ‘the boys, the boys, the boys” that mattered to her.

This is the way it’s always been for women, Mary says. And it’s part of what the feminist movement and the Me Too movement are trying to address. 

“Our culture teaches women to abandon themselves.  Women are taught to sacrifice themselves for their husbands and sons. They give themselves and their lives away. And then, when a woman in your great grandmother’s day lost her husband or didn’t marry, she had no man to rely on. Often a widow was forced to rely on relatives, and that was shameful.”

Sometimes, Claudias husband tells Claudia that she sounds just like La Abandonatha. Claudia moans and groans about the fact that two of her children live far away.

Claudia particularly felt like the Abandoned One last week when she visited Noah's new house.

It's a wonderful house but it's so far away, That was on her mind as he gave her the tour.

But after she flew home a day or two later, Claudia was OK. She was glad to be in her home on the meadow. She was glad to be with her dog, Poco.

Claudia has found peace with the idea that her children have their own lives. She's discovered that she can enjoy the life she shares with her beloved husband and her many friends and her two sisters who live about an hour away. 

And as Mary points out, unlike her great grandmother Domenica, she has email and texts and FaceTime and Zoom and Google Duro, all of which connect her directly to her children and grandchildren.

And so, the frozen feeling is gone. She is warm through and through.

When she feels despair, she stops wherever she is. She sinks into the NOW. She breathes slowly and deeply and she becomes aware of awareness. Sometimes she chants the vocalizations of each of the chakras, something her healer Denise taught her 20 odd years ago when she had the cancer. Sometimes she looks around at trees and birds and flowers and she says to herself, "here are miracles and I am so grateful for all of them." 

And when she needs an extra something to stay calm, she makes herself the tumeric and tension tamer tea and adds a spoonful of honey and takes it into the bedroom and does a Yoga nidra routine.

Or she goes into her studio and plays with paint, lathering it on canvases.

After a half hour or so, she is calm.

At those moments,

she wonders: is this what healing looks like? Is healing ever complete?

Claudia got an email from her dear friend Kathy Joy this morning. In it Kathy wrote: "I also hope you know, my friend, that you are enough. You. Are. Enough."

And for once, she feels



Standing naked at the computer just before my shower,
I make a decision 
that I won't run away from the facts and the fear or the anxiety: 
I won’t resist the fact that I may have cancer in the lining of my uterus, and that I may need
I don't want to be hysterical
I don't want to tell negative stories
but on that note my son just phoned and said to me,
"Mom, you've got to feel all your feelings, whatever they are. The important thing is to FEEL YOUR FEELINGS AND THEN LET THEM GO!"
So I will record my feelings here. And then let them go.
But first I will take a shower and let the warm warm sudsy water bathe my limbs my face my back my neck my knees and legs and toes.
So now, now the FEAR IS HERE. In my gut, it's as if someone is pulling on me with ropes. The feeling started when I was out walking Poco. I try easing the anxiety in my stomach with deep breathing: inhale slowly for five, hold for three, breathe out for eight. Do that over and over again. Don't hate the fear, don't run away, just let it be, walk with it, carry it slowly down the hall to the studio and sit in your meditation space. Let the fear stay in your face, but breathe it in and out as gently as you can. 
Today dawned grey and pink. I woke up relaxed and determined to be positive. I kept smiling as I got out of bed. I was scheduled to speak with the nurse practitioner at 8:30 p.m. so I showered and washed my hair and put on a nice casual outfit (soft grey sweat pants and a matching jersey covered with gold stars.)
And when the zoom started, I smiled at her (Molly) and she asked me if I was feeling better than I had been when she first delivered the news to me last Thursday. "Yes," I said, "I realize that I weathered that other cancer situation I faced twenty years ago with a positive attitude and I aim to be positive no matter what happens."
She smiled and immediately reminded me that it wasn't clear that the cells observed in the pelvic ultrasound were cancerous. "We have to go in and take a look!"
I asked my questions and she did a thorough job answering them. Rich sat next to me on the sofa and he got his questions answered too. The nurse said we would get a call when the surgical procedure -- called a hysteroscopy-- was scheduled, maybe even today,
After I hung up, I went to my meditation space and sat quietly. And then it occurred to me to chant (or vocalize) the chakras, and so I did. I sang them out: /EEEEEEEE/ the crown and third eye; AAAAAAAA/the throat/; OOOOOOOOO the heart which rules all the other chakras; UUUUUUUUU (as in you), the solar plexus; AHHHHHHHHH/the lungs/; MMMMMMMM, the reproductive organs, and /SSSSSSSSSS/ the root chakra. 
I spent a long time chanting the MMMMMMMMM sound and pictured bright white light washing the cells of my uterus squeaky clean.
And so I will continue to chant and meditate and think about light circling my uterus.
And if the cells do turn out to be cancerous, I will have the hysterectomy!

And what has she realized this morning?
That there is energy in her uterus that needs to be cleared out.
That she has to let go of herself as a young mother
when she bore her three children.

They are now 37, 35 and 32. Adults flourishing in their lives.
Two own houses in Denver!
And when she visited there last week, she felt wistful
that she couldn't be closer to them.

But now she is realizing this:
That she is close to them forever in her heart.
And she is

She is a wife and mother and grandmother and sister and aunt and great aunt and friend and painter and writer and

that is


Saturday, October 02, 2021

The God of Each Moment

Milky autumn sunshine

makes the goldenrod

in the meadow glow.

Silvery green leaves

on the branches

above my head

flickering and waving


Grey little birds going

branch to branch to branch.

All this dawns on me

when I finally calm down

enough to notice.

These days it isn't easy

to relax. I spend a lot of

time trying to slow my

breath down to a crawl.

Today, it took my husband

laying a gentle hand on

my back to begin my


Then the chanting helps

because it gets me closer

to the God of each moment.

All I can do is write here

a thank you poem grateful

that I finally settled into the


Words once again are melting

and elevating me all at once.

Today I will be as calm as I can be.

Just keep coming back to the now.