Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Between anger and gratitude is where many women's voices reside. It isn't so much that anger is forbidden to women, it's more like it doesn't seem to be a very natural thing for us. Anger is at times necessary; some say it is the guidepost that tells us where we should not be in the first place. The more natural thing seems to be, though, to lean over the cauldron of gratitude and inhale its mists. Or perhaps that's simply the more desirable thing.

For me, current gratitude includes the freshly experienced first three days of sudden summer, as well as all the places where my work was published in May (yay!):

Mad Swirl posted my poem "Of Beggars and Foxes" (May 31, 2016).
Autumn Sky Poetry Daily published my poem "Xanthippe" (May 30, 2016).
The Write Place at the Write Time published my poems "Aubade" and "The Knight and the Lady of the Well" (May 22, 2016).
The Linnet's Wings published my cameo poem "Galileo" in its Just Like Peer Gynt edition (Summer 2016).
My poem "That Day" was re-published in River Poet Journal's 2016 Special Edition A Collection of Signature Poems.
The Open Mouse posted my poem "If" (May 3, 2016). 

Monday, 30 May 2016

Necessary questions. For most of my life I've been fascinated by the story of Parcival, Perceval, Parsifal, a hero who goes by many spellings. In fact I've written a novel about my fascination, The New Parcival. The gist of my fascination: He was taught to be polite and not ask any unnecessary questions. When he got to the holy grail, he was supposed to ask a necessary question, and, being taught to be polite, he didn't ask. At least not the first time. To everybody's amazement (and salvation!) after many trials and tribulations, he got an unexpected second chance, and that time he did ask.

I too have been taught to be polite, including not asking too many questions. I've even been told by well-meaning and friendly editors that my prose had too many questions, and I've dutifully gotten rid of some of those.

Still, I believe it is better to question many things, even at the cost of some of the politeness we've been saddled with. The most famous Parcival question (with that many name variations for the hero himself, you shouldn't be surprised that the important question comes in several forms, too) is: "Why do you suffer?" or "What ails you?"

For me the current question is: Why do we have such a hard time honoring each other, our children, our loved ones, our fellow human beings, our fellow creatures on earth, our generous planet itself?

Sunday, 29 May 2016

If we don't describe and declare who we are, nobody will ever know us. If nobody ever knows us, nobody will ever love us. They may love some constructed inauthentic shell instead, some pleasing fiction on high heels making nice.

However, there's a better use for fiction: We can call a character Clare, for example, and she can have all the thoughts and emotions we don't have the nerve to expose otherwise. And so it all becomes a dance between fiction and reality, and somewhere along the lines, the love actually happens.

Let the dance begin.

Friday, 27 May 2016

The cyber world is giving my blog a headache. I will resume writing in a woman's voice with great passion when the headache is gone.

Be important today and until then!

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Best nugget of advice I've digested so far this year (from Mike Dooley's Notes from the Universe, April 21, 2016) is this: "it does little good to say you want something and then "just in case" prepare to do without."

After pondering this, it seemed so obvious it felt as though I should have known this all along, only somehow I never did know it quite like that. I thought I'd pass this along.


Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Is this world too beautiful for most men and some women? Is that why they must mock, poke fun, tease, etc. to lessen some of the enormity? Just wondering.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Is there such a thing as constructive criticism? Or is all criticism just an overwhelming need to parade one's superior discernment?

I'm leaning toward no, I don't think there is anything constructive in any criticism. I can say, no, this doesn't work for me, and then that gives you the freedom to look elsewhere for applause and/or companionship. If I want to take the time I can show you alternative ways. Aside from that, I believe in the freedom, and the responsibility, of your soul forging its own way among the myriad possibilities.

Monday, 23 May 2016

I crave a world in which we admire each other and applaud each other.

Women more than men seem to know how to make others feel important, though at some point it can become a phony gesture. I want the genuine version of making each other feel the balm of significance.

In the end, though, you seem to stand with your feet in the river of life and you understand the river does not flow because it is loved. And you wish you were like the river. Or the sun. Or the yellow blossom of prickly pear cactus in May, just doing what they do, with or without applause. Or you try to clap for yourself. But the sound of just your own two hands clapping doesn't quite seem to be enough. Still you carry on. And that's what is ultimately important.

Carry on today. 

Sunday, 22 May 2016

So--what about men who write in a woman's voice? Can they be trusted? It seems to be a current trend, and some of the men writing are astonishingly accurate. Others--huh. I find a lot of benevolent contempt, patronizing pats on the back, and an overabundance of women characterized as casually lusty and gun-slinging. Perhaps more male fantasy than female spirit? And then there is the eternal theme of women competing for men. Usually a lovely blonde and a fiery brunette. Also mostly male fantasy, I think.

Of course men have written in a woman's voice for the past five thousand years or so, and have more or less told women what women think and who women are, until we've largely believed it.

And of course I've written in a man's voice from time to time. I guess it has to be done, and done daringly, if you want to say anything at all.

And then there are writers who write in the voice of dogs and cats and so forth.

All I hope for is that we might all write with respect and admiration and support for each other in this already somewhat complicated life.

Saturday, 21 May 2016

"Leave no doubt in people's minds why you are here." -- weight lifter Morghan King.

Yes. Wow.

Friday, 20 May 2016

The endless challenge of feeling good enough (or not, as the case may be).

I've had two models: My father, who was quite taken with himself and confident, but declared in sermon and song that he was humble and no more than a wilted flower before God. My mother, who was not so taken with herself and frequently asked "what have I done wrong?" even when she had done nothing wrong.

I think many of us live on the gender fault line of masculine confidence (even when it is named "humility") and feminine insecurity about ever being good enough, ever doing everything just right at long last. Wish it weren't so. Wish I could believe at my core that I am good enough.

Here's a cameo poem on the topic Mad Swirl posted last fall:


I live
I am
good enough.  

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Assertiveness training? There's nothing intrinsically bad about it. Only sometimes it seems to be just another trick by the bullies or other entitled entities in the world to make it your responsibility and now they don't have to do anything further except ride their usual wave entitlement. They do not thoughtfully have to volunteer justice or consideration. After all, you could always ask.

It isn't quite fair.

First they teach you modesty, and then you're supposed to be assertive, or else you only have yourself to blame.

It reminds me a bit of sex education for women: first you ought to be all virginal in body and spirit, but then with a marriage license in hand, suddenly you're expected to be hot.

Back to assertiveness, though. I've noticed, too, that you can indeed ask for things. But even in the very best case scenario, you may get what you ask for, but it may not be what you really wanted.

We all want love above all, and that's not some commodity you can simply ask for.

Spread some love today.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

True confessions now. I was only seventeen when I was first slapped for sentimentality. Or I might as well have been. A teacher, an authority figure, gigged my writing for being too romantic to be worth anyone's while. He used the word romantic. He meant sentimental. I was crushed, and tried to defend my writing. The school put up a tribunal of several teachers, including one who had previously often praised my spirited writing. I did not prevail. I have never quite gotten over it. Forty-seven years later I am still haunted by echoes of that shame.

I've done well enough with intellectual stuff, and sarcasm, cynicism, anger, and other critiques of this gorgeous world, but my true voice was in that bud of beauty that was nipped. I couldn't believe it. I still can't. I'm just so astonished that so many things of great beauty are held to be unworthy of respect. Including people. Including most especially women and their typical yearning for beauty and peace. (Yes, there are other types of women. But that's a topic for another time.)

Starting with college, America has been better to me than that stuffy old self-righteous German teacher. America has been more receptive to my flights of fancy and my sentiments. For that I am eternally grateful.

I've wanted to write love songs to this world from the very beginning. In German. In English. In French. In Spanish. Doesn't matter. I still want to. It's hard to be told that I am sentimental and that is, unfortunately, not respectable. Of course I want both: love and respect. The truth is, though, I've done very well with my life and much of the time without either one or the other or both. So I will just carry on.

Maybe I'm just in the thick of the woods in some fairy tale here, and maybe what I see over there beyond the edge of the forest and way across the valley is the castle I was meant to find, with all these spell-bound princes and princesses in it that I am meant to set free. I'm working on it!

Be enchanted today!

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Life comes at me in fragments.
Most of them are beautiful.
Some are disturbing and stern.
But most of them are beautiful.
How I love this wilderness of life.

Monday, 16 May 2016

What is important?

To make do with table scraps when necessary, but to hold out for better if possible.

Be important today.

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Who am I? What do I want?
Who are you? What do you want?

Sometimes it is hard to know what I want, having been trained to put other people first, as many women are. So it becomes easier to facilitate what other people want, out of sheer habit, or even having simply forgotten what I once wanted and what then was so many times put on the back burner because what others wanted was supposed to come first. Plus they were always so loud about what they wanted, and my whispers were overpowered. Plus, they seem so convincing in their desires, so if I do what they want, then at least somebody gets something they want.

Sometimes I have to make a huge effort to want anything at all--seeing that it's so often been declined and postponed, so what's the point of having any desires? Today I managed, after a bland beginning of wanting nothing, to notice I wanted to listen to Dolly Parton ("Jolene") and Vivaldi ("L'estro armonico") and read and knit (I do those at the same time, thanks to my grandmother who taught me how). Having done a bit of all of those, I already feel much better.

It reminds me of a Monique Wittig quote: “There was a time when you were not a slave, remember that. You walked alone, full of laughter, you bathed bare-bellied. You say you have lost all recollection of it, remember . . . You say there are no words to describe this time, you say it does not exist. But remember. Make an effort to remember. Or, failing that, invent.” 

Yes, failing that, invent.

Be important today. 

Saturday, 14 May 2016

Sometimes the voice of the wind is the most important.
When it herds rain across the mountains.
When it makes me stop to listen to the trees.
When it makes me stop to listen to myself.

Friday, 13 May 2016


Some women are born
without rebellion. I am
not one of them.

This is my motto: Life
is a gift, not a duty.

I remember being told
with patronizing admiration:
"You think like a man."

I remember
it is a gift, not a duty. Yes

I can think like a man,
but I don't have to.

Thursday, 12 May 2016

I'm all for gender studies, but . . . I don't like that they have pretty ubiquitously replaced women's studies. Not everywhere, but most places.

I'm not against being inclusive, which is presumably why women's studies after a few brief years (twenty or so?) were replaced by nobly egalitarian gender studies. A mere handful of years aren't nearly enough to study women, ourselves.

Sometimes we have to study ourselves at a distance from the other gender so that we don't fall into the habit and trap of posturing. I remember teaching swing at a Girl Power event in Denver years ago. All girls. All effervescent dancing energy. After a while a man came into the gym to replace a light bulb, and all the energy changed, for the entire rest of the session, even after he left again. Suddenly there was self-consciousness and posturing. This was neither good nor bad. It just was what it was. I still believe we owe it to ourselves to dig deep below the posturing, politeness, and inclusiveness to find who we really are, what we really want.

The story goes that cats were once worshiped in Egypt and they have never forgotten this. There are things that women have never forgotten in a similar vein, but we have buried them so deep that we are on occasion hard pressed to remember what they are.

Be important today.

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Sifting through all the thoughts of a day--what is important in the end? The gold or the water?

(Today's uncontested answer: the water. I happened to surprise a frog while crossing the Gila River. It squeaked, jumped, and swam away with its bold green leg strokes. What beauty. I wish I didn't have to disturb its peace to see its beauty. Water, definitely water.)

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Looking for my voice again. Oh, how I want to storm into each day with exuberance and tenderness. Those are the highlights of my soul,the qualities of voice that I always yearn for, the voice that I sometimes see in children who have not yet, or not at the moment, been stilled or had their voice stolen or twisted.

In my most cynical modes I think of how we bind and throttle our children. Then we spend the rest of our lives trying to rediscover our inner child and set it free. Maybe that is a valid and useful way of conducting a human life. I don't know. It feels a bit wasteful. Then again, I also often think that, yes, nothing really is necessary. Not beauty, not dance, not poetry. It is all a gift, to spend as we wish.

I want to spend my gift on wild and tender exuberance.

Be important today!

Monday, 9 May 2016

Sometimes I fear I am going mad with unimportance.

When this happens, I go to watch the river. The river doesn't flow because it is loved.

When this happens, I look at the stars. The stars do not shine because they are important.

And yet beauty is all around them.

Yet, I am not a river. I am not a star.

Be important today.

Sunday, 8 May 2016

To the most important other woman in my life: my mother: I love you, wherever you are, your spirit, your beauty, your generosity, even your sorrow.

She has not been on earth for 24 years now. Were she still here, she might not be comfortable with an outright declaration of love either. We didn't declare love in those days, at least not in our family. Too sentimental. Though she did like love songs and love scenes in movies. It was just a case of "don't try this at home."

What she did crave was honor, which society largely withheld. She was after all only a housewife. No one much credited that she was a hero, fled East Prussia as a refugee, for example, with three small children, two of which survived, and a younger sister in 1945. She worked in factories and other jobs whenever family economy required. She was brilliant. She loved beauty, colorful fabrics. She loved to dance which she almost never got to do.

She did what had to be done and she lived well, despite the sparse applause and love and honor in her life. We all eventually do well enough with what honor and love we are spared by a largely indifferent and negligent (if not outright hostile) culture.

I wish I could wrap her brilliant spirit in a mantle of honor and light and love.

To all mothers who are and have ever been on earth: Be important today.

Saturday, 7 May 2016

Thirteen things on my important list today:

1 - He told me his favorite moments yesterday on the mesa were watching the wind flow through the grass. No wonder I am in love.

2 - Washing my hair.

3 - Yesterday an early morning black bear on the mountain road.

4 - The wilderness.

5 - Kids race at the Tour de Gila today: All the little kids had finished the race, including two very late stragglers, when a tiny girl in tears belatedly came struggling along the second leg of the race, a male adult more or less pushing her along, but she was still pedaling. I don't know what had happened, but the crowd of people cheered and rang bells and she finished the race. And I have hope for the human race--we do want each other to succeed. We are awesome!

6 - There has been a riot of roses for over two weeks now.

7 - The sudden scent of sap in sunlight.

8 - The tapestry of people making things possible for one another, for example building mountain roads. And cars.

9 - A blessing: May your path be lined with daisies.

10 - Thinking about my mother.

11 - Goodbye to most of Orion this week (except for the northeast shoulder, Bellatrix).

12 - Getting ready to go dancing.

13 - Be important today.

Friday, 6 May 2016

Stop hiding. Many of us have been taught to hide, but only the ones not hiding are out there as shining stars. 

Be important today.

Thursday, 5 May 2016

Take the lid off importance

Taking the lid off your own importance can feel dangerous. The lid is probably heavy. Try to not let it fall on your toes as you lift.

Who are you? your inner critic mocks.

Do it anyway. Your importance may look like things left in the attic, dusty, rusty, questionable. 

What ever happened to your tenderness (that you put away when it was criticized as sentimental)?

What ever happened to your exuberance (that you put away when it was criticized as much too loud)?

Okay, it's time to start polishing exuberance and tenderness, no matter how long it might take to take off the tarnish and make things shine again. 

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Impress/your soul

Don't write to impress. I mean, do by all means if that's your paying job, or if you have a teacher or professor to convince to give you a superlative grade.

But for your soul, write what is really important to you, not some outside audience. Impress your soul, if you will. And in your soul, be free. That is what souls are for.

If you are brave, you can and will share what is important--when you are ready and if you are willing. But right now, what is important is yours, to share or not, to examine, to love wildly. You can keep it in a desk drawer if you want. You can burn it, too, if you prefer, or delete it from your laptop.

My grandmother told me, her trick was this: whenever she got upset, she would put her thoughts on paper, and then burn them or tear them up without ever showing anyone. She has been gone now for almost fifty years. I wish I had those papers she destroyed. I wish I knew what was really going on. I wish I knew what really went through the minds of so many women whose thoughts were never recorded. I wish.

And sometimes I wonder: If all those important thoughts had been shared, would be perhaps live in a different reality from this in which so much was built on a scaffolding of silence?

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Monday, 2 May 2016

Observe what is important.

Watch yourself closely today. Everything you do, you do for a reason related to your soul's hunger. Watch what it is and honor it all. Watch every little thing. Even if you are convinced it isn't important. Especially if you are convinced it isn't important. Being convinced is passive. You don't need that today. Observing is active.

Everything is important today.

Be important today.

Sunday, 1 May 2016

The Voice of Importance

We have been given this language, this throat, this tongue, these tools, pens, paper, computers, and for me it is time to write in a woman's voice. If I am lucky, I'll egg on a few others along the way.

So, yeah, we're given this language, and then we are taught to use it to concur in lies and untruths we've also been taught along with the language.

The number one lie is that whatever we do is not that important. Beauty isn't that important. Love isn't that important. War is. Politics is. Hunger is. Especially other people's hunger.

I want to learn here that our voices are important, our much-decried feelings are important. Anger is important. Tenderness is important. I want to unravel the shroud that has been placed around our importance even as we still live, but making us feel as though we are perhaps not quite alive, taking up too much space, are too loud, etc. when more important things are going down.

Anger is important. Love is important. Sequins are important. Dance is important. Chocolates are important. Injustice is important.

You name it. Unravel the shroud. Find what is important.

It will give you a jolt, a gentle breathlessness. At least I hope it is gentle. Follow that feeling.

You have to start somewhere.

Be important today.