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Too Many Choices

note: a bit of fixing to this post was needed, and done today:

Today, I cleared off or covered up SEVEN of the NINE white boards in my office area. (Sigh — not a typo.) Why? Great chunks of time are already spoken for during the next few months — some travel, probably cataract surgeries, incoming visitors, a week-long sewing retreat, plus “just life”.

A few years ago, I discovered the KANBAN METHOD of project management, and love it.

I studied my individual boards, decided what is doable, and what I want to spend time on through mid-summer. Those notes and tasks were pulled off their own boards, and incorporated onto the Monthly (or More) Planning Board, described below.

Here’s what I’m surrounded by in my space:

Seven active project boards with task lists, deadlines, things to remember, addenda, ideas, etc., held in place with magnets, Post-It notes, clips, and surrounded by encouraging “You Go, Girl!” sayings.

Health and personal goals and activities fill one board, the Poetic Muselings has its own. A thousand questions I’ve been working through with a wonderful young woman who’s helping me with computer issues filled one large and one smaller board. Two different book projects eat up their own boards.

One is a Backlog/”Broken Windows” board with unfinished little things, from a note to take my allergy test info to my dermatologist, to remind my husband to pick up nobs for my three-year-old file cabinet that drives me nuts with the way to it needs to be opened from the bottom side of the drawers, and to follow up on a letter for a donation last year. I think there are about a hundred little pieces of paper on this one. Every week, I pull a few from this board and on “Frenzied Friday”, handle a batch.

The “Broken Windows” concept says when people stop paying attention to, and don’t fix what’s broken around them, more things fall apart. If I leave clothes lying around in the bedroom, I’m less likely to stop and make the bed, or clear off my sink area. Dirty dishes beget more dirty dishes. And, when I don’t write it down and put it someplace I’m at least possibly likely to look, I remember things in the middle of the night instead of when they are doable. Nagging, deadline-less little stuff lives here

The last two are actual planning boards — for the month (or so), and for the week. Part of what I’ve paid attention to lately is me — how I think, react, respond to various cues, and what happens when I suddenly get up and start doing something instead of thinking about it.

Too many choices, too many options, drown me with inaction because I don’t know what to pick up first. This led me to the monthly and weekly planning boards. I’ve finished several projects that surprised me.

I started meditating over a month ago, with a friend who’s 600 miles away; we connect by phone every morning and spend twenty minutes or more sitting there, like little kids, connected but quiet. When the timer goes off, we both hear it, and then chat.

What’s most important has been bubbling up to the top because of the boards. For the next couple of months, I’m rethinking my resources, energy, time, interest, and gut-feelings about what’s surrounding me.

Right now, covering or clearing has created an uncomfortably not-quite-Zen touch to my writer’s garret. I must live with this for a while to let the stillness, the quiet of the walls, seep into my psyche.

This little ditty came up as I was rehanging a board that didn’t like being treated roughly to get rid of the set-in markers and sticky notes.

Too Many Choices

Too many choices
too much to handle
too much tsuris*
too much to mangle

Can’t believe it’s May —
what happened to the year?
Once again a headache
from the shouting in my ear

Does it ever happen,
will I someday learn
secrets of “adulting”, or is there
more I have to earn?

Shiny things attract me
ideas grab my mind.
All I TRULY need to master is how,
to myself, be kind

MICHELE

*tsuris =  a Yiddish phrase for worries, stress or hassle … less existential than angst … variously defined as troubles, worries, aggravation, woes, suffering, grief or heartache. ( paraphrased from https://www.momentmag.com/jewish-word-tsuris/)

 

 

 

The Ripple Effect of Sharing Poetry

A monthly poetry, performance and literary event —
with featured authors and an open mic
Presented by The Eugene Poetry Foundation in conjunction with
Barnes & Noble Bookstore
Sunday, April 9, 2017, from 3-5 PM @ Eugene Barnes & Noble
Website: http://www.wordsongs.com/burnindownthebarnes
Barnes & Noble Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/events/258294591266050/

— This is a family friendly event —
Hosted by C. Steven Blue & Charles Castle

 

I’m a Featured Reader at this month’s Barnes & Noble Bookstore /  Eugene Poetry Foundation  “BURNIN’ DOWN THE BARNES !!” event. My co-reader is a brilliant high school freshman I’ve had the pleasure and honor of mentoring a bit over the past couple of years.

Decisions about what poems to read, arranging them in a good flow, balancing the deep and the funny ones, are a bigger task than the actual on-stage time. I’ve taught poetry classes, coached others on how to read aloud, emotion and emoting. Each time I’m involved in an event like this, I go back to Step 1 myself and take a deep breath.

We’ll each have half an hour to present our own work, followed by an hour of “open mic” time, where the audience can read their own poems. I’ve invited several shy poetic friends to attend, and consider reading.

It’s a terrific way to wade into the stream of sharing, and Eugene has one of the most amazing, supportive collection of people who listen well, encourage new poets (of all ages), and appreciate everyone’s efforts.

I love the writing relationship we have as the Poetic Muselings: the synergy, energy, creativity, aha! moments, insights, and fun. As I pull my collection together, I always ask each of my Sister Muselings for a poem to read. Our approaches to life are reflected in the material they contribute.

This year, in addition to her own poem, Anne sent me one that I’m going to lead with — reflecting a universal I wish I’d written.

It’s too good to keep to myself, and I want the world to learn about the poet, read her blog, and laugh at:

An Ode To The Overwhelmed

And as you stand there
Late again
Because you forgot to allow time to park
And the elevator was slow
And you left 10 minutes late to begin with

With your shoes that pinch
And your pants that are a little too small
Since you started eating white bread again

And as you paw through your bag
Looking for the suite number
That you’re not sure you wrote down to
begin with

Let us now praise you.

You, the untidy.
You, the careless.
You, the easily distracted by sparkly things.

The money you spend on late fees alone
Could feed a family in Africa – Which
reminds you that you meant to send in the
kids’ Unicef money and
Forgot.

And that despite your best efforts,
You rarely eat a square meal,
You almost never get enough sleep
And exercise seems like a word that
magazines have developed
Just to make you feel bad about yourself.

But you are good and brave.
You, flying by the seat of your pants
Making it work
Putting out fires
Saying your prayers
And dancing your dance of now and later and
maybe and
I’ll-have-to-call-you-back-on-that-could-you-
send-me-an-email-to-remind-me-to-call-you-
back-on-that?

As innocent as each morning’s sunrise,
You are a fount of good intentions.
Your good humor is as graceful as a baby
giraffe,
Even if that joke you were trying to make to
the hotel clerk fell flat
And your toast at the wedding came out
sounding a little…funny.

But you have gifts that no one knows about.

You have the strength to bend in the wind

You have the joyful spirit that loves a good
belly laugh,

You have the wisdom to understand that
everything will all come out all right in the
end and

You have the faith to light a candle rather
than curse the darkness.

That is, if you could find the book of
matches from that romantic restaurant that
you went to for your anniversary but since
you didn’t have a reservation they made you
wait at the bar for half an hour during which
you had two appletinis and the rest of the
night is a bit of a blur.

So much for the overpriced lingerie.

You are beautiful.

You are beautiful.

Frazzled and overworked and underpaid
You are the one who forgot your wallet
And forgot your receipt for the dry cleaners
And forgot your keys which you just set
down five seconds ago, so where could they
possibly have gone?

But you never forget to say, “I love you”

And you never forget to give a big smile to
that nice parking guy

And you never fail to show endless patience
when the
Too-tightly wrapped and overly-
conscientious start to offer their
Oh-so-helpful suggestions about how you
might feel better if you would just learn to
alphabetize your spice rack.

You are beautiful.

So, wear the lingerie on Monday for no
reason.
And why not just refuse to participate in the
bake sale this year?
And give yourself a compliment for
something you did well today.

Because you are the most beautiful person
I’ve ever known.

© 2014 Samantha Bennett
…. excerpted from her remarkably popular book: By The Way, You Look Really Great Today: Selected Poems by Samantha Bennett

Dive, don’t surf, her blog:  TheOrganizedArtistCompany.com.

Caveat: prepare to add your own verse to her poem, because, inevitably, you WILL end up missing something else going on in your life, but you’ll have an ever-so-good-reason-for-why . . .

Michele

 

 

 

 

Mending the Mind, Part 2

Why be difficult, when you can always be impossible?
One of my family’s mottos when I was growing up.

Last month, my epiphany about letting go of what’s driving me nuts, and engage in activity that could free my synapses, helped me resolve the issue I wrote about in A Purse Full of Poems. Wonder of wonders — I’m still using my “new” old purse, haven’t overloaded it, and know that my shoulder is happier.

img_2688

Thus emboldened, I tackled my password pandemonium that’s felt like herding cats for over a year. Choosing the most basic organizing idea I could think of, I grabbed some ten-year-old index cards, made alpha labels, and started putting one name/site/whatever on each card, with the appropriate alpha letter in the top R corner.

Feeling silly at the low-tech approach, but loving to write with pens anyway, I searched my emails, iPad, iPhone, and Mac to corral them. I’m still in gathering stage, and make bold decisions about which to delete as I find them. Next I tried to find the most recent passwords, test them out, and at some point, will decomplicate them. Who’s gonna get into my writing.com account and create havoc?

still-work-to-do

if only my mind
could grasp what is before me
as it is right now

Once I figured out how to actually attack this, and started, other things fell in line. Perhaps the benefits of procrastination are to take the time to become frustrated, snarl at the tasks, separate out the goal/end result from the process. Then DO something.

The real thing is that I feel I can move forward again, and am glad I took the pressure off myself.

Now, if I can continue to stay focused on just a few things at a time, I do believe I can get some old stuff done that I want to do, and make choices about what can just sit or can be considered “done” in their current state.

I enlisted my sister Muselings to try an accountability circle for a few weeks, with each of us choosing only two goals to work on. We all decided we need to move / exercise / walk more, so we’re reporting in on our progress every few days.

We each chose a problem to tackle; our choices ranged from making dreaded appointments and figuring out what to do next, finishing a picture book draft, diligently keeping up with an embroidery challenge, and (mine) doing what I need to do to get Lifelines back in publication.

Wonder of wonders — we are all making huge progress on our “stuff”! We’re jazzed, keep each other on point, provide encouragement when needed, pose pointed questions as appropriate. And, it’s working. Once again, we’ve taken our book title literally, and are providing a Lifeline to each other.

When I told Lisa Gentile, one of our Mentors, and my Coach, what I was doing about my password project,  she said, “We forget that a new system can be simple. It doesn’t have to incorporate the latest tech. That just makes the adoption curve higher and the change bigger. The key is having any system that makes things better. I still have a paper Rolodex for immediate storing of contacts!”

So do several others I admire. Onward! Or backward? How do you stay on track with projects, and herd your passwords?

Michele

A Purse Full of Poems

img_2658

Julia Cameron — author of The Artist’s Way, and other books about finding your way in this world — was right.  Among her brilliant yet often simple ideas, she stated that sometimes “mending” clothes can mend the mind.

The context was about letting go of whatever is driving you nuts, and engage in activity that can free your synapses to help resolve the issue. A variation on great ideas that occur in the shower.

 

 

(Did you know that someone’s invented a water- and steam-proof board and pen so you can capture your priceless mind mutterings without trailing water all over the house? . . . and as soon as I can remember to look for one when I’m not in the shower, I intend to buy one.)

img_2685

mirror knows my face / shadows who’s inside / beckons me to live

The Poetic Muselings made a pact early last summer to NOT write, take on any new projects, work on our backload, etc.

In other words, we decided to do what we’d been doing (not much), but do it without guilt or nagging. Just let life be what it was for the duration.

By letting go of the struggle, we hoped to enjoy the time and see what it felt like to dump the pressure. It worked: we were eager to “do something!” shortly after.

 

img_2686

time smothers and numbs / we forget our fragile truth / pain, horror, and tears

 

I’m a belt-and-suspenders person, frantically trying to be prepared for almost any catastrophe. Usually I worry about the wrong thing.

One of my “medical advisors” told me that unless I stopped lugging my heavy purse, we’d continue to patch my shoulder pain, but not resolve it. At a bunch of dollars (not covered by Medicare), it worried me, but made sense to try something different.

I went to exercise classes several times a week, ate somewhat better, tried to get more sleep, and read light mysteries. I did some small decluttering bits, and knew I needed to deal with my lug-everything purse NOW.

I spent an entire day
trying to figure out
exactly what I need with me,
what can stay in the car, and
what needs to simply be tossed or left behind.
The whole day!

img_2687I tried out several purses I have, including an impulse buy in July, and came back to one I’ve had for at least a dozen years.

It’s small, has a lot of organizing sections that can be moved around (a Freedom Bag, which is temporarily closed for business while they relocate).

I keep going away from this purse because it’s black inside and out, and hard to see and find things.

 

Once I knew what to carry, on a whim I took out some metallic markers, and started writing haiku on the organizers and anything else black. After my very low output number of months, I wrote eight poems, right in a row.

img_2657

haiku seeps thru me / longs to flow onto paper / and flow further still

Yes, sometimes “mending” other bits of life can mend the mind.

Michele

 

 

 

Image

Holiday Wishes from the Poetic Muselings

icicles

in December . . .

we lived in the arms
of the most spectacular
ice storm
I’ve ever seen

overwhelming beauty
in the midst of devastation

 

 

 

downed-tree

— obstacle course of
downed trees and lines

invisible log-middles
hauled away, heads and feet
left to bookend the road

— scream of branches wrenched,
ripped from the mother trunk,
visible scars that won’t heal

an image from tree-2
a lifetime ago

Dr. Zhivago
and Lara
in the Ice Palace

surreal, breathtaking,
achingly
exquisite mist
protected them briefly

A tiny taste
whisper
scent
surrounded us
for a week

 

And now,
we have power
again
more power
than we knew

let-there-be-lights

May the lights of the season
fill us with gratitude

show the way
to a peaceful
fulfilling
and happy new year

Michele

 

2016 NaNoWriMo and PAD Challenge Month

NaNoWriMo &
Poetic Asides November 2016 
PAD (Poem A Day) Challenge

Time to gear up, stock up on extra Halloween candy, charge all your batteries, and get some sleep while you can.  It’s Lose Your Mind Month for writers and poets.

We have several post here about NaNo and the PAD Challenges we’ve done as a group, as well as individually.

National Novel Writing Month
(NaNoWriMo)

Write a completely NEW 50,000 word novel from scratch between Nov. 1 – 30, and load a gibberish version on the site for word count at the end. If you are a REBEL (me), you can engage in variations on the theme.

This year, I have two projects:

  1. my hubby and I are co-creating a shorter novel (novella length, maybe). His ideas and story design, with me making it into something cool, doing all the writing.
  2. Editing, fleshing out, and completely revamping a NaNo I wrote in 2008. The idea is to see if I can create a novel in verse, or at least extensively in verse.

Poetic Asides November 2016 
PAD (Poem A Day) Challenge

The Poetic Muselings are going to tackle the PAD Challenge again at Poetic Asides. Our goal is to gather our collected poems from the past few PADs, pick a dozen or so prompts we’ve all done, and come up with another book — with four versions of each prompt we select. Maybe more poems will be added, but we’re aiming to embrace our eclectically creative take on specific prompts.

Anne is posting her poems on her site, so check them out there:
http://anneisstaringatthesun.blogspot.com/

If the rest of us decide to use our own sites as well, I’ll add the links here.

Stay tuned for updates during November and after.

 

Michele

On Friendship, Loss, and Love

Harlee - Marit 3

_______________________________________

 To Friendship

An unraveling thread
suspends my heart
in the Universe.

One push can crush it,
one word
destroy it.

One or two at a time
hands appear
and hold me,

each touch leaves
its fingerprints
of compassion.

Surrounding my life
comes the vibration
of voices,

within each note
a rhythm
of healing whispers.

A patchwork quilt
of love
covers my soul.

Each square
a hand or voice
that shares its spirit.

They protect
and cradle
my aching memories

of joy and gratitude
and do not
let me fall.

mg, April 2016

_______________________________________

Less than two months ago, I had to make one of those heart-wrenching decisions, one that truly has only a single option that is fair, humane, respects quality of life, and is a gift when a kindred soul is suffering.

Almost eight years ago, we adopted Harlee, an amazing almost-three-year-old Standard Poodle. We were her third permanent home. While we knew almost nothing about her history, she told us her story over the years. We saw how she reacted to sounds and movements, people, and — especially — other dogs.

With our love and support, she learned to trust us, and realize that she was finally safe. At times when she didn’t get the attention she needed, she was able to communicate her fear that she was going to be abandoned again.

Those times became fewer and further apart because she learned to not be afraid to let us know she was worried. At first, she tried to hide her aging issues, and it took a while to realize why she was reluctant to run down the stairs to go for a walk.

A leap of trust and faith was when she let us in on her problem. She couldn’t get into the car, and allowed us help her with a boost, and later, by finally agreeing to use “stairs” we got for her to walk up into it.

An easy jump onto our bed morphed to a running start to make it, then a boost of her back end, and, near the end, letting us pick her up and get her situated.

When she could no longer support herself to maintain her dignity when outside, she let me know she was ready to let go. We were very fortunate to have a wonderful veterinary clinic that had treated her throughout her time with us. They loved her, and she adored them, regardless of what she had done.

At the end, they were there for and with us, truly surrounded us with love and compassion, tears and shared sorrow. We received a sympathy card after, with notes from each of the staff. We will never forget the care and kindness of Dr. Sheila Johnson and her staff at Animal Health Associates.

Another major part of Harlee’s life was spend in grooming, which, like all dogs that have hair instead of fur, needs attention. At least monthly, she was excited to spend time with her friends there. I called it her Poodle Parlor spa day.

The picture of Harlee above was taken by Marit Vike, owner of Send Rover Over, last fall. I played with the background, wanting to feel her float in the clouds, but Marit captured her inquisitive look beautifully.

Perhaps people who don’t have pets, or never had the chance or courage to form the bond, don’t understand what I’m writing about. I knew walking into the relationship that I’d have to say goodbye to Harlee long before I was ready to do it.

I knew my heart would break. Part of the life cycle — the part I rage against and never want to accept. I’d been through this before, with Madame Wa, our other Standard Poodle we’d raised from a pup, nursed through all kinds of maladies, traveled thousands of miles with after we retired. She was almost fifteen when we had to let her go in peace.

I learned so much from these two friends, companions, kindred spirits; they looked out for me as much as I did for them. I experienced what unconditional love means and feels like. My life is empty from loss, but full with memories, and support.

This poem is my thank you to my human friends who have been there for me, including my family. I love and cherish you. it’s also a reminder to myself to work hard to be in the present, where life is happening with each breath.

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