Monday, May 30, 2016

Word of the Week - 117

Subhead:  Blog post 901.  Milestone noted.

Word of the Week: IMPOSSIBLE

I never dreamed, or more accurately, I never thought ahead to where writing a blog might take me.  It has brought me here, of all impossible things.  Consistency over time, a subject which, were it a class in school, I believe I'd be failing.  And not only consistency but the incomparable pleasure of it.  I resist counting as best I can for I believe so much of value is unquantifiable.  And yet.

Fairly early in my association with RubberMoon Stamps, I drew a simple image that says


The stamp remains part of the collection and is more true, at least for me, than it was nearly 20 years ago when it debuted.  I find there is room for impossibilities to take up residence when I stop doing limiting things.  Fixed notions, fear, worry, narrow vision, pessimism, such thoughts must be surrendered before the impossible feels safe enough to remove its disguise and knock on the door.

Welcoming the impossible seems to be a matter of allowing, getting out of the way so it has room and time to work.  It is a highly independent agent, resisting invitation while surpassing any secretly held expectations.  Its greatest delight seems to be our astonishment.  When it arrives, make note of the circumstances, write a sentence on the calendar, use an exclamation point, tell your friends, give thanks.  Be a grateful and gracious recipient.  It will likely visit again.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Word of the Week - 116

"We've been on earth all these years and we still don't know for certain why birds sing."

Annie Dillard, "Pilgrim at Tinker Creek"

Word of the Week: AVIAN

Our suburban neighborhood, crowded with street traffic because of a never-completed freeway connection, is becoming more and more an open-air aviary.  This side street, with its power lines still strung overhead, is the site of regular shifts in the avian population, as though the bird chiefs got together to draw up a schedule, who perches where and sings when.

Friday morning, after years of occasional honking flyovers, we saw our first pair of geese, labeled birds for this discussion.  Just after daybreak they took up position on a roof across the street and beat the green Amazon parrots to the task of waking the neighborhood.  Throughout the night, a lone peacock on a nearby hill issues its nearly human-sounding cry, distant enough not to interrupt my sleep.  A dedicated red-beanied woodpecker returns daily to a smooth-trunked palm tree for what we hope is gourmet fare in great abundance.  His kin prefer the rough bark of a closer, shorter palm and tolerate being driven away occasionally by a crow's superior size and wingspan.

In warmer, less windy weather, hawks circle above vacant lots, parkland and the high school's playing fields.  I am no longer close enough to hear their distinctive cries as I could when we lived just below the mountains.  Mocking birds, mourning doves, the familiar crows and parrots, a pigeon or two, regular hummingbirds and myriad unidentified songbirds may visit and/or serenade our block throughout the day.  The parrots are often so raucous that we can't hear the television.  The same can sometimes be said of law enforcement helicopters.

With time and the inclination for sky hypnosis, we have come to know when there's a new bird on the block.  Without binoculars, I cannot consider myself a true bird watcher.  I may not know why they sing, I just know how happy I am that they do.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Word of the Week - 115

Word of the Week: MILD

Mild, as in gentle, patient, soft-spoken.  Unfrenzied.  A state more rare than one might suppose.  Try and be all of those simultaneously or even in succession.  Yet mild seems the true low-key antidote to rage, outrage, umbrage, any knee-jerk response to what displeases us.  Let it go.  Choose your battles.  Taking huge and noisy offense as a chronic state cannot be good for any organs.  Even as a witness and not a participant, it causes me discomfort.

Balance may be one of the virtues.  It indicates a sturdy steadiness, a skill which I picture being practiced just as any acrobatic art, over and over with numerous missteps.  Arriving at mild by way of extreme seems the natural path.  To be peaceful in the midst of escalating chaos may appear to indicate a state of being unclear on the concept.  Why aren't you shouting?  Because someone needs to find and hold the quiet center, someone needs to remember proportion, someone needs to be the water that silently and subversively wears down the rock.

Mild might be called an ideal, a desired but nearly unreachable state, an aspiration.  My experiment will be this: to see how many times I don't lose my cool in the course of a day, a normal day of TV news, Internet witlessness, ordinary things going wrong.  Mild is not a synonym for uncaring, for anaesthetized, for MIA.  At best it can help keep the roar quieted, the rhetoric more civilized.  A one-sided argument is a bullying soliloquy.  Imagine us being civilized with each other.  A girl can dream.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Word of the Week - 114

"Eat an apple every day,
Get to bed by three,
Oh, take good care of yourself
You belong to me."
From Button Up Your Overcoat by DeSylva, Brown. Henderson


It is part of my manifesto or perhaps mantra, color is a nutrient.  As is beauty, however you define it.  While certain resources may grow thin from time to time, we are kept steady and strong by that which feeds the spirit.  Added, of course, to the daily apple and the likes of vitamin D.  Sufficient sleep, laughter in excess, for there can never be too much, and ditto for kindness in all directions, make us mighty or at least above average. They help us cope, transcend the bumpy interludes, keep us in good fettle.

In "The House at Pooh Corner," Kangaroo gave Roo and Tigger malt extract as "strengthening medicine."  I have held that thought my entire life, coming to identify certain, let's call them nostrums, as my strengthening medicines.  Last week in one of those internet articles on how to make your life better was the suggestion to send a thank you note every week.  Simple, right?  Good manners, the chance to create mail art, something we would all like to receive.  My strong intention is to add it, with thanks for the idea.  The more full our bag of shoring-up tricks, the less apt we are to sag or falter.

For today and every day, let us be generous with ourselves in thoughts and acts that sustain us.  Life can feel like a daunting assignment if one is undernourished.  Do what is necessary and please, take good care of yourself.  xo

Monday, May 2, 2016

Word of the Week - 113

Hello, May.  Word(s) of the Week: IT WILL BE OKAY (forgive wonky paragraphs, please, for the iPad would only let me scroll down so far)

Recently I heard a description of core values in three words:  JOY, MINDFULNESS and COMPASSION.  That I can't remember the source goes with the territory.  I do remember this much, that I agreed with them.  Life has, and takes, every opportunity to turn our hearts hard, shrinking them to rock-like nuggets that resist chewing, chipping and melting.  This is not the right answer.

For myself, my son and all of us for whom recent circumstances appeared, however briefly, to be heading south, don't believe it.  How a thing looks or seems and what it actually is are galaxies apart.  What do we know, really?  Old fears, ancient beliefs, tell us their version of truth.  In order to prevail, we must turn away from such defeating thoughts.  Here is how I pictured it today: my mind is the hysterical quasi-friend whose hair is always on fire.

Take a moment for tears or terror, then, in the absence of an answer, let it go.  My son has said to me so many times, "It will be okay.  We'll be okay."  And we're still here.  It is not a hollow promise but a knowing.  It is trust.  Into the midst of these musings came a phone call, it has been a good season for those.  The caller and I have history spanning some 46 years, or near to it.  That often the simple sound of the other's voice makes us laugh reminds me, not that I had forgotten, what good medicine this is.  Love is the vein of gold we strike when seeking our fortunes, here on this swiftly tilting planet.  It continues to take me by surprise, which makes its worth that much greater. It may not all be exactly how or what we thought we wanted when we set out to conquer the world or at least grow a ribbon-worthy patch of giant pumpkins or towering hollyhocks, here by our feet.  Regardless, it will be okay.