Today's poem is back to a nostalgic theme - reflecting on all the good times I've had with my family around the kitchen table playing Sheepshead. It's a game where you use trump cards to take tricks. It's not easy to learn but it's incredibly fun to play with an element of cooperation and plenty of competition.
I'm not going to mince words. I don't like football. Sports in general, really. I feel there is often too much importance placed upon a game to the detriment of other forms of character development, competition, and entertainment. And don't get me started on sports "scholarships."
That being said, it's been very exciting to see my lovely city, Minneapolis, shine in the glimmer of limelight the spectacle of hosting the Super Bowl has brought. Signs have been affixed all over town, buses have been wrapped in special Super Bowl wrapping, and ESPN has erected a studio stage for recordings that I pass on the way to my bus stop. Even I - living under the proverbial rock when it comes to sports - can't fail to notice the glitz and glam that comes along with the impending occasion.
This morning's alarm clock tone was unwelcome. It didn't feel as though I had nearly enough sleep as I rolled over and planted my feet on the chill floor. An hour later and I was wishing for a bit more fluidity in our collective sense of "time" as I sat sleepily in my bus seat and decided to put those thoughts into poem form. I'm also in awe of human beings' capacity to share experience and hold to our agreement of "time."
It has been a wonderful weekend of yoga instructor training. I'm relaxing on the couch and luxuriating in peace and comfort. Therefore, I kept my energy output low and wrote about an easy subject - a subject that has received many a poet's attention I believe - a cat. I wrote about my cat, in particular, and his in-home hunting antics. Also, I love onomatopoeia.
P.S. If you're inspired to write a poem about your cat, feel free to share.
One of the most beautiful parts of yoga to me is the connection between "divinity" and the scientific reality phrased so nicely by Neil Degrasse Tyson that "we are all stardust." What that connection means to me is that we are all divine because we are the universe and the universe is divine. Another great aspect of yoga is that it truly is a quest belonging only to the individual on their own path. "Yoga is not a belief system," says Dr. Rishi Vivekananda in Practical Yoga Psychology. The ancient teachings can provide a framework but the "work" is a study of the self and bringing oneself to harmony that no one can do for anyone else. The "work" is being open to the reality that you are, and have always been, the universe; you are, and have always been, divine.
Today's poem was a request from a dear friend who is far away from me physically yet close to my heart. Below you will find the recipe for how I navigate the world. It's a little idiomatic, and hopefully helpful. What idioms help you navigate through life?
One of my favorite chores to be done on the farm was getting the cows to the barn for milking. Now, most of the herd would know exactly when to come in to be milked and get a tasty meal, however, a few stragglers would always want to stay outside, whether because they were tending to a new calf, preferred the haybale or pasture to munch on, or were just plain contrary.
I especially enjoyed the solitude, peace, and beauty of rounding up the herd on a calm winter night, when the air wasn't too cold but the world still seemed hushed in anticipation of spring. I also liked that I never knew what to expect and you really couldn't get complacent - just when you think getting the herd will be easy, you find a heifer on the wrong side of the fence. So I wanted to capture just a bit of that experience to share.
*Disclaimer: Never, ever approach a momma cow and her baby calf unless you know the mother will not charge you - in fact, just always expect that she will charge and be ready to run. In the following poem, I did not get charged. :)
Bonus poem alert!! Evidently I have plenty to say about toenails, or really, the idea that we all have physical bodies that are going to do their own thing, which was today's theme. I was going to settle with just one but decided that each has it's own charm. Without further ado.
A nod to Brene Brown for the title to my poem. I think her interpretation of the term "wholehearted" is exactly how I felt when reflecting for today's poem. I have found that when I am living authentically, when I am saying yes only to those things that ring true for who I am and want to be, then I have a life of joy and ease.
One of my favorite mantras in yoga is Lokah Samastha Sukhino Bhavantu which means "may all beings everywhere be happy and free." My yoga instructor actually said this mantra in tonight's class - after I had written my poem - and it echoes my day's theme. I wish joy and ease for all beings everywhere and so, I'd like to share my poem, my "recipe," for wholehearted living.
We've had a glorious snowfall come through here in Minnesota. I really love winter, snow especially, so I'm happy to see the drifts piling high. I worked from home and didn't get many steps being camped at my desk all day and was ready to get moving after work. For our evening exercise, my husband and I decided to get outside with our shovel and help neighbors who'd gotten stuck in our un-plowed roads. We had plenty to do!
Drivers were getting stuck everywhere and we weren't the only people with the same idea. There were several neighbors with shovels and we gathered up and put our force to one vehicle at a time to clear the roads for the plows to come. It was FUN! I am not certain if other communities do the same thing when they face adverse conditions but I was proud that I belong somewhere that we work together to help each other. I do know folks in my state are typically called "Minnesota Nice", and well, I'm pretty sure that's what I was seeing today and I loved it.
Minnesotans were in full preparatory mode today with the oncoming winter storm warning and upcoming playoff game for the Vikings. Everywhere I went there were hustling crowds attempting to procure their goods and services before turning inside and hunkering down. In honor of the impending blizzard, I penned a little haiku.
My RYT200 training is soon coming to an end and I can't believe how these five months have flown. The experience has confirmed my belief that the world would be a kinder, more compassionate, and beautiful sanctuary if the 7.6 billion of us practiced yoga regularly. And, one of the most amazing things that has been emphatically enforced in my didactic studies is that yoga is a solo journey that ultimately amplifies an individual's connection to everything. As a teacher, I won't be doing the practice for my students, I can't do the work for them- but I can hold the space and the give the tools for their own self-study. So today's poem is about my own experience and understanding of yoga.
I was inspired by the balmy 40 degree Fahrenheit weather, and motivated by a colleague, to walk outside for my jaunt to the bus after work today. My outdoor stroll was too sensory not to write into poem form.
It's been 3 years and 8 months since I ate my last chocolate-covered custard-filled bismarck.
It was that long ago when I committed to eating foods that would not inflame symptoms of my auto-immune disease and began my journey with food as medicine. It was that long, long ago that I last tasted the melody of flavors that is my all-time favorite dessert - a chocolate-covered custard-filled bismarck. I'm fine, really. I just try not to be in the same room when someone else eats one. And, I remind myself how miserable I feel when I ingest eggs, or dairy, or gluten.
I also console myself with wise words from my sister who congratulated me on doing such a phenomenal job of eating with a sense of adventure, discovery, and inhibition when I hadn't been focusing on food as nourishment. A kind sister, praising my former habit of eating with abandon. I also reflect on perspective from my husband who posits that perhaps nostalgia may have colored my memory of bismarcks and my mind only imagines that they tasted sublime because their delicious bounty is no longer on the menu.
Either way, I decided to attempt to capture the memory I do have of what the experience of eating a chocolate-covered custard-filled bismarck had been for me. It was almost like I was biting in to one....almost.
I don't often get political on my blog and I think it's passed time I do. It's important to speak up when things are wrong because, as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, "in the end we will remember, not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends." Black lives matter and right now, the institutions of our country, the status quo, does not reflect that fact. We can all do better at seeing and peacefully protesting the institutionalized racism that pervades our daily living.
To my understanding, the BLM movement is not pushing for specific legislation to change, rather, their aims are for people in power to acknowledge the injustices that continue to persist, despite the laws set in place during the Civil Rights Movement, and work to eliminate the micro-aggressions and macro-aggressions hurting and killing black men and women today. At the very least, I feel my words might do something to contribute to that aim. I think there are peaceful, impactful ways that an everyday person can be a catalyst for equality. Writing our legislators, running for office, or simply voting, are all actions to take to spread the movement. MLK said "let conscience be your guide" and "love must be our regulating ideal." I hope you see both statements reflected in my poem.
I love Brene Brown and her book The Gifts of Imperfection. In it, she talks about a pervasive sense of inadequacy that has seeped into our minds and threatens our well-being. I have seen this phenomenon anecdotally in my interactions as well. I don't think I know many people who can take a compliment, just stand there and take someone telling them they are awesome. As if it's a painful thing, something wrong, to be avoided. As if the inadequacy is a frozen tundra we've been trapped in, as if we've all been standing outside in the Minnesota winter, -5 F windchill, and our limbs have gone numb and suddenly the compliment comes along, and it's the luke warm water you put your hand in that brings a rush of sensation that feels unpleasant, pins and needles waking up, but oh-so-good when it thaws. So, my poem today is a compliment. Just stand there and take it, and thaw.
I really enjoy physical humor. Seriously, Steve Martin is one of my all time favorite actors. I also really enjoy poems about things our bodies do. So, I've penned today's poem to convey the sensations I experience as part of having, as I put it, "the bladder of a kitten."
I know from previous posts it may appear that I am rooted in the past but I do watch current events from time to time and was recently perusing twitter and caught a tweet chain between Sarah Silverman and a hurting person who called her a horrible name. It was just a one word tweet. And in that word she heard a cry for help and clicked on his profile and learned that he was burdened with scars from his past. Instead of ignoring him, or responding in anger, she responded to him as a real person and, ultimately, created connections to help him progress forward away from past pain.
I think what I loved most about reading what felt like an intimate twitter interaction is that it reinforces a lesson that my eldest sister has tried to get through my skull on numerous occasions; that the world is not black and white- but gray. Sarah Silverman, like anyone, can rub people the wrong way. She is not 100% good or 100% bad, as nobody is. She is, however, extremely authentic and through that authenticity, is able to help others be their most authentic selves.
As I'm studying yoga philosophy, I see many parallels between Sarah Silverman's behavior and yoga principles. I see a ray of light through a shadow of fear I've had about posting "to the internet." My fear was always that someone will call me a name or insult, or threaten me, and I was afraid because I was already taking it personally and spiraling down all the things I could or couldn't do in response. It hasn't even happened, it's a theoretical possibility, and I was already taking it personally. It seems the lesson has finally hit home, to let go of my ego, and be like Sarah Silverman. Know that if a future insult comes my way, it's probably not even about me- and if I reach out authentically, maybe I can ease that person's way.
Climate change is a buzzword in current topics and has been for a while and I guess I'm ready to say my piece. I firmly believe that individual households, especially in the U.S., can have a dramatic impact on whether we avert crisis. I'm the person at work who will turn off the sink you left running behind you when you walked over to the other cupboard to get a glass. I will shut the fridge door on you if you walked away to deal with your food "real quick" before putting the container back. I wonder about people who continue to buy bottled water after so many science-backed resources have campaigned to get the word out that plastic bottled water has so many ills. Have they just missed all the announcements somehow? Or are they willfully destroying the future of their children, nephews, or nieces? I know I can do my part better too, which is why today's poem is a reminder that what we do now, the imprint we make in this minute, is crafting the tomorrow of the little ones we love.
For Earth -
I got a little nostalgic for today's poem and took myself waaaaay back to summers on the farm, baling hay with my family. For those of you who have had the luck to bale hay, I hope this poem evokes some of the same joys that I found when digging up this memory.
Nine days into my year of writing a poem daily and I'm sensing a pattern about my writing. I pen my poems an awful lot like Randy Newton crafts his songs. There is a hilarious Family Guy skit about Randy Newton "singing about what he sees," that I only know because my husband has pointed quoted it to me numerous times. And yes, I do seem to write most often about things in front of my eyes. In the future, I will try to make sure I'm cognizant of this tendency and seek to expand my topics, but really, we live in such a magical world and people are so amazing, inspiring, and sometimes bewildering, that I can't help but want to capture that awesome in my writing. Or, I guess I could help it and I don't really want to stop.
I'm sure it comes without surprise that today's poem is about a person I saw on the bus ride home. This person was happily engrossed in a often-teased form of entertainment and not giving one fig about it. It really brought to mind one of my favorite phrases to use lately, "you do you." Be loud and proud for what you like even if it's not popular*. And now, I'll share my poem, about something I see because you be you and I gotta be me (whew, this poetry thing doesn't turn off).
*Note: statement does not apply to intolerance, hatred, or discrimination.
I love volunteering. I'm passionate about volunteering. You can tell from the photo above that I'm really, really happy when I volunteer. I think volunteering in our communities is one of the best things we can do for ourselves and for others.
I don't want to get all sanctimonious because why I volunteer is definitely not all altruism. First of all, I'm far, far on the extroverted spectrum, secondly, I truly believe in the ripple effect of helping within your community, and third, there is so much fun to be had when you are performing a meaningful task.
So really, my public service announcement is "volunteer to help others in your community and get payback in the form of endorphins, a stronger community, and satisfaction from a job well done." Also, here's my poem.
It's Sunday night. My stomach is pleasantly full, and I'm just enjoying some downtime resting on the couch with my husband and cat. In short, I'm feeling pretty great. So I decided to challenge myself in writing a "blank verse" poem. According to the article I read, blank verse poetry doesn't rhyme but rather uses the "da dum" pattern to make "same-length-of-syllables" lines (like doing iambic pentameter but as many syllables as you want). I think I got that right, though readers can feel free to give me direction if my interpretation was faulty. I chose to do ten syllables in each line and definitely enjoyed the challenge and maybe my brain got some exercise out of it.
The subject matter is every home improvement store. I love home improvement shopping. Home Depot, Lowes, Menard's, you-name-it, I would love to go. Appliances, curtains, electrical wiring, flooring, whatever, I want to peruse. It really does pull me in as if I'm in the "twilight-zone." Hence, the poem.
Creative enthusiast, gregarious naturalist, opinionated activist, RYT 200. Amy Kay Czechowicz is completing a poetry challenge for 2018 by posting an original poem daily to this blog!