Monday, 7 March 2022

good enough

 I seem to be more introspective than usual. Reflective, pensive and whatever other words indicate looking inward in a contemplative way.

Maybe I'm just noticing my emotions even more clearly during this time of Covid and of Russia's war to eliminate Ukraine.

Maybe it's because I have a venue to share my thoughts through this blog.

Whatever!

As I've written on Facebook, I have had a book of my Letter Poems printed.  Forty copies, which I believe is a real show of bravery. 

Poems are still making themselves known to me...my job is simply to paste down the letters.

In these new poems the letters are not bold and colourful, but rather smaller black letters cut from magazines and their background colours are muted shades of cream. I have found out that to scan these more subtle poems, a more sophisticated scanning process is necessary, and involves an increased  cost per page.


Upon learning this, I have gone into a spiral of doubt. "This is too expensive." "I can't justify paying this much per book." 

Read.."..my work is not worthy of these prices." "The poems aren't good enough to spend this amount of money on them." "Maybe people bought my Letter Poems book simply because they are my friends".

I even went so far as to justify the price because I haven't bought new clothes, haven't travelled and have barely eaten out these last years of the pandemic!

Finally, I saw the absurdness of my story-line: the fact that I've generously donated money to organizations and family members and yet couldn't support my own self in this very tiny way! 

It wasn't the small monetary increase that was the issue...it was my worthiness.  

And then two things happened on Saturday that were integrally connected to my circling around worthiness.

I went to Cobbs to buy cinnamon buns to bring to a friend's place later in the morning. The woman serving me, while shifting the position of her mask, told me she was so very tired of "all of this". A conversation followed as I told her that I too was struggling and found this was the hardest time since the beginning of restrictions. Also, that friends of mine found this too. 

As I prepared to leave, she asked if I liked blueberries.  When I answered that I did, she slipped a blueberry scone into a little bag and handed it to me.

Later that day I went to Canadian Tire to buy some plastic containers to hold my millions of cut-out letters. 

As if by magic, a sales person there began talking to me. She said that she has a friend in Kyiv and that she was very worried about her.  She continued that the woman's husband was very ill so that they couldn't possibly drive out of the city. She talked about how they were texting and that these messages were a way to hang on to each other.

Before returning to work, she thanked me for listening and for caring. 

I saw that I was valued by these two women and that it was past time for me to realize my own worth.

                                        


By the way, I am continuing to write and create collages for my next book!










Saturday, 29 January 2022

our inside selves

A few days ago I visited with an artist-friend in our studio.   My newly made Seville marmalade was the excuse for our meeting and partnered with her freshly baked scones, we settled into conversation.

I had shared some of my Letter Poems with her through email, and I showed her another,  pulled from the drawer. It was one I knew well, so I recited it to her rather than reading it.

She immediately said that she wanted to video me, standing against the white wall behind us, reciting the poem.  My reaction was loud and clear...."absolutely not!"  The suggestion ignited terror in me.

She responded that she was completely surprised by my reaction as she sees me as a person "out there" and "so self-confident".

Other people have said  something similar. It's what they see. It's not how I usually see myself.

I often come back to something a therapist shared with me, perhaps 30 years ago: 

"We compare our inside selves to other people's outside selves."

I think that my friend was comparing her vulnerable inside self to my outside self. Meanwhile,  I see her as an artist, not only of creative excellence, but also of great confidence.

Later in the day, while speaking to a friend, I spoke of a memory I had from my early days in Duncan.  At that time, I had immersed myself in painting: I was free and having a wonderful time.  

An artist friend invited Brian and me to her studio where she had a show of perhaps 40 portraits painted on small metal panels.  We took our time looking at her work, and chose one to buy.  

My perception was that she was extremely confident in her work to exhibit such a large number of paintings.  

What that meant to me was that she was super confident!

I was comparing my inside self to her outside self.

I am preparing to have books of my Letter Poems printed, perhaps as early as this week.


HOW BRAVE! 

Yes, that my be true, however that does not stop me from trash talking to myself! 

"What am I thinking?!"  "Who will want to buy one?!" "I think I should reduce the number of copies Island Blue is printing!"  

These negative thoughts are then added to my criticizing the poems I've selected to have printed.

So, while people see my bravery and confidence, they don't see the inner torment I'm facing, the "not good enough" cloud resting on my shoulders.

Writing this, I see that my vulnerability is part of who I am.  This emotional exposure and uncertainty makes me easily hurt, however it moves me forward.  It allows me to risk, trying new things



I love receiving comments and it seems email and Facebook are more reliable than this site.

Monday, 3 January 2022

my dear friend





 I am going through our book shelves once again.

"Will I ever read this book?"  I ask myself. And the question, "Will I reread this book?" follows in quick succession.

A pile of "No I won't" balances precariously on an Ikea black stool in our den.

I see a piece of paper tucked between the "30 Minute Seder" haggadah and The Diary of Anne Frank.

As I begin to read, I see it is a letter I wrote several years ago after my dear friend Jean died.

Today, as my blog entry, I will transcribe this note, just as I wrote it. 

It is an honouring of Jean.  





"dear source. I am needing your comfort right now as I feel compressed- holding myself too close- I wish to understand where to find comfort for the sadness I am feeling with the loss of my dear friend   Jean and the sadness I feel that I will not be able to walk around the neighbourhood with her and notice the trees' cones and the flowers, with falling seeds to put into our pockets. Who will miss me, I wonder- and where is Jean now? I believe she must be somewhere, floating around making shadows on my studio wall- beside me as I tidy my garden. Oh, the source of all- where do people go when they die? Where will I go? Who will hold my shadow in their arms, as I hold Jean's.

My dear Jackie- your heart is open- to sadness and also to love. The sadness will never leave you fully- it will sit and mix with gladness & the joy that your heart also holds. You will still notice the flowering plants & you will still gather seeds & put them in your pockets. The memories of Jean will be a part of your life forever. It will not be in the same way, and remember there are many many ways. An uncountable series of thoughts & feelings, and you will experience them all.

Jean is with you- though in a different manner than before.  Your parents are also beside you always. In the sun's rays, in the clouds' forms and in the dancing shadows on your studio walls."



   May her memory be a blessing.



This is the letter I found, tucked between 2 books


   If you would like to comment, please send me an email, or a message on Facebook
















Tuesday, 14 December 2021

tidying


This week I have decided to Really Do A Tidy Up.  To go through the shelves in our den and dispose of bits of paper, old notebooks and some piles that presently camp out on the floor.

Of course, that means reading everything first.

I find a list of words and half sentences on pages from an old day-timer.

"incredible sweetness - fearless contender - rivers of my heart".  Why had I gathered these beautiful words together?

And, "the sadness of leaving behind- change"

The note,"walk with Ken", is from years ago, reminding me of a friend who moved away and with whom I've lost contact.

"Nov. Will's birthday 1984" reminds me of another young man who has slipped away from my knowing. 

And written in black ink is "shiva @ 5", yet I don't remember whose death was I honouring.

And, finally, the phone number of Victoria Pest Control Ltd., bringing back the sounds of the nocturnal scratchings within my bedroom walls!

But these scribblings were really only a cover for the most important papers I found.

These are two somewhat brittle and browned newspaper articles from The Globe and Mail, one from December 11, 1993 and the other from January 27, 1998.

I remember finding them perhaps 6 or 7 years ago, when, after reading, I carefully tucked them into a faded red file folder, which I returned to the cluttered shelves.

The earlier article is written by Roger Rosenblatt, of The New York Times Magazine, titled, "WHAT NEXT?" Its subtitle reads "After a lifetime of writing, research and meditating on biology, Lewis Thomas contemplates his own imminent death from cancer."

Reading it this morning, the question Rosenblatt hesitatingly asks catches my attention. "What does dying feel like?" 

"Weakness," he answers with a strain of bitterness.  "This weakness. I'm beginning to lose all respect for my body."

"Is there an art to dying?",  Rosenblatt continues.

"There's an art to living." Lewis brightens a bit. "One of the very important things that has to be learned around the time of dying becomes a real prospect is to recognize these occasions when we have been useful in the world. With the same sharp insight that we have for acknowledging our failures, we ought to recognize when we have been useful, and sometimes uniquely useful."

The second article, written by Alex Mogelon, is titled "Whose funeral is it, anyway?" In it, Lila tells her husband of 47 years, that she wants the poem "Do not stand by my grave and weep, I am not there, I do not sleep" read at her funeral. 

She continues that she has made a list of her pallbearers, friends that she wants to carry her. When her husband sees that she has not included "George" in this list,  he worries about what this man will think. Her reply is that George can be on her husband's list, and says that she will be the last person to know what he thinks!

The most wonderful part of this article is when she wonders if her husband has thought about her obituary. She does not want the devoted wife loving mother kind of stuff.

When he asks what she wants to say, she recounts an amazing list of accomplishments. "That at 16 I was a radio operator intercepting Japanese sub signals off the coast of Vancouver Island...that I was a youth leader...a camp director..an artist...a magazine editor...a business executive...a video producer.  That my life meant something! That I didn't spend my years making chicken soup."

"And, one more thing. Tell the rabbi not to call me a woman of valour." 

"Lila, I can't tell him how to..." stammered her husband. 

"Yes you can. Whose funeral is it, anyway?"


I would love to hear from you, however, the most reliable way is to send me an email or leave
 a message on Facebook



Sunday, 7 November 2021

outspoken




And, she had this weird habit of being herself all the time; that’s why, not everyone liked her. -unknown


Being myself.  Who is this self that I'm being?

If I were to ask 10 people who they think I am in this world, would I get 10 different words describing me? 

If I were to ask a co-member of Congregation Emanu-El's social action group, Avodah, would she/he see me differently than a member of my mahjongg group? 

Would both groups see me as "involved" or  as "outspoken"?  

If I had my way, I'd like "committed" and perhaps "dedicated" added to "outspoken".

Vocabulary.com defines "outspoken"this way:   
adjective
 characterized by directness in manner or speech; without subtlety or evasion

Reading this definition, "outspoken" doesn't sound too bad at all!  

Searching online, I see that the Merriam-Webster definition of "outspoken" includes "candid", "direct", and "forthright" and then adds "openhearted" in the middle of 20 descriptive words!

We recently held an art exhibit in our studio, showing and selling work that spans about 45 years. There were paintings of mine whose mediums included powdered poster paint and house enamel! 

       painted in 1977





In most of these paintings, there seemed to be an explosion of creative energy!  Direct, confident and...outspoken!  I had no barriers in our  Cowichan Valley studio.



the remaining image from a series of masks I painted, influenced by our African art collection

               

           
I've never before thought of my art work in that way.



And my garden?  Maybe that too.

As I recently celebrated my 78th birthday, I become even more aware of the finite life I have been gifted.

How do I wish to be in this world and at this time? 
How can I truly live my values? 
In what way can I contribute to the well-being of one single person?
In what ways can I contribute to the well-being of more than one single person?

Returning from our first trip outside of Victoria during the pandemic, after having spent 3 1/2 days walking on the peaceful beaches of Tofino, I am committing to more often pressing "delete delete delete"  on my computer's screen. 

 
-Being in my body as I walk more often.
-Contributing time and energy assisting agencies and community centres.
-Being less impatient. (a hard one!)
-Saying "I love you!" more often.

AND, being outspoken with AN OPEN HEART!






Friday, 15 October 2021

fromtheothersideofseventy/plus

 


Brian has recently been forced to adhere to a very limited diet for the health of his kidneys.  Think very little green and orange, no seeds and nuts, and the elimination of what we have learned to believe is healthy eating. Okay is: white rice, pasta, cauliflower, cucumber and, for a hit of color, kale. Plums okay, prunes not. Cooked carrots okay, quinoa and beans not allowed.

It has become a challenge to cook what both tastes good and is very low in potassium.

 So, this evening, I opened the oven to check on what I was preparing for dinner. 

Pulling out the roasting pan, I suddenly realized I had no oven glove on my left hand.  And, yes, I continued removing it with ONE hand.  Half-way out I knew it was a stupid mistake and 3 seconds later it crashed onto the floor.  The cabbage, sliced thin and marinated, and the carrots with a new combination of cayenne and cinnamon ON THE FLOOR!

Oh, and the skewers of souvlaki-marinated chicken from Red Barn on the floor too.  After screaming with words assembled from the eighties, I took the spatula and gathered together the seasoned cabbage and returned it to the pan. After all, I had swept the floor just this morning...and it would be heated again before we ate it.  And, quite frankly, I didn't care! I can think of deaths worse than one caused by floor-a-bacteria.

Back into the roasting pan and into the oven.  I pulled out the mop and bucket and washed the floor and wiped down the spattered lower cabinet.

I poured another glass of wine and gathered together plates and silverware. 

Another crisis averted. Or, rather, overcome.

I think being on the other side of seventy let me move through this without tears.

However, it isn't all hot water and movin' on.

Earlier today I sent this to my brother-in-law and to my sister who has just turned 80. 



I wasn't prepared for the response:
"One of our neighbours fell while putting on his pants and broke his hip"

Continuing on the theme of aging, yesterday was my birthday and Brian and I had planned to go to Gordon's beach. The small cooler was ready and a small knapsack was by the door to hold some new beautiful stones and rocks that I planed to collect. I love this small beach and going there has become a beautiful birthday ritual.

However, the weather did not say "come to the beach".  It was drizzly and cold.  

Instead, we ate blueberry cornmeal muffins from Pure Vanilla and set out to a few special places. I believe that on my birthday it's about "giving" not about "receiving",  so we first drove to St. John the Divine to make a donation to their food bank and then to Quadra VillageCommunity Centre with another donation envelope.

Two of my paintings then found new homes with friends who loved them. 


Gifts so lovingly given and so warmly received.

A perfect birthday, even without salt air and sandy shoes.

So, as always, I wish for good health and bountiful love. For creative energy and for kindness. 
For patience when things seem to be out of control. 
For a more just world.

And gratitude for Zara's soft coat and unconditional love.


a few of the paintings sold at our art show 
& finding new homes



Sunday, 12 September 2021

acceptance



 I'm not sure why this is happening again and again.

I seem to be unable to concentrate on reading.  I start a book and then very soon I slip in a bookmark. When I return to reading, this bookmark might advance only a half-dozen pages.

I belong to a book club and I haven't read more than a dozen pages from this month's selection. And now, someone passed on their copy of October's selection, The Boat People.  I settled on the couch to spend an early morning hour to begin reading.  

By the 20th page I understood that this was going to be hard read: a boatload of refugees arriving in Canada and the man we have been following has his 6-year old son taken from him and placed on a bus with the women and children.


 I have closed the book and instead have started this post.

I have noticed, over these many months, that I seem unable to read anything that is painful: either sad or angry. A few months ago I jumped ahead in another book to read the ending, something I have very rarely done before.  In fact, something I have reprimanded my husband, Brian, for doing!

I do recognize that I am a sensitive person and feel things deeply but this new avoidance seems different, more acute, more poignant.

Looking for reasons, I grab onto The Pandemic. I wonder if the isolation and pain surrounding Covid is the culprit. Enough pain in our present lives; why read about more.  

Yes, The Boat People is fiction, but only the refugees' names and country of origin have been changed. 

This has happened before. 

During the Second World War, a boatload of  Jews was not allowed into Canada and was instead returned to the Nazis.  And now, especially by the United States, many hundreds of thousands of other refugees are being returned to the danger of their homelands.

Many years ago I looked through our bookshelves.  There were a number of books that I hadn't read, many purchased at a wonderful bookstore in Flagstaff, Arizona.  A great many of these related to the Holocaust. Without even reading the blurbs on their back covers, I packed them up and gave them to Russell's Books.





Visiting with a dear friend yesterday, drinking glasses of Prosecco, she related how many years ago she had forced herself read the entire TimeLife Issue on the Holocaust. She told herself then that if she read and saw photographs of this horror, she would never need to revisit it again.

Maybe I won't read The Boat People.  Maybe I need to accept and honour my avoidance-- accept that this is too heavy for me to carry right now.

                I created these collages about 35 years ago