a short stretch from past to present

inside, i am 9 years old.

taken at age 50, MEd Creative Ed, Lesley College

Over the years, I’ve added experience, feeling, connection and aside from that mish-moshed era of confusion and anxiety from age 18 till 47, I’ve remained a clear-eyed and enthusiastic nine-year old!

Why bring this up now?

I look at my body, how the skin is aging, my chin is adding layers, my hair is whitening and I wonder at the evidence of life’s days making their mark on this physical form, while my inner child is still wistfully experiencing growth. I relish a deepening understanding of that which occupies my inner and outer space.

I hold a smartphone and open a website and remember back 20 years ago, when i was so determined to make my own websites and to teach pupils how to make theirs. I remember insisting that Special Ed pupils have lessons in the computer lab to learn to type in English, to navigate a computer, to investigate a tool which would expand their horizons.

I remember using art and poetry to open minds, to illustrate mysteries. I can rejoice at the e.e. cummings workshop using so many of the fabulous creative elements I gleaned from my studies at Lesley College. (thank you Lesley for reminding me that school can offer a limitless experience of discovery and ownership). I combed lists of famous people to bring their biographies into our English Center, documenting their lives and accomplishments as inspiration to pupils.

All this, a direct line from my nine-year old’s favourite occupations: reading mythology, biographies, and bringing them to life through puppetry and writing. What I loved has remained what I love. Wanting to share, I still long for avenues to offer from the heart.

That nine-year-old self, before the onslaughts of puberty and questions and waves of emotions that overwhelm the mind, that nine-year-old communicates from a place of innocence and good intentions, hardly tainted by the opinions of others who don’t frequent that unique DNA/experience-nourished mind.

And allow me to offer this: It’s time for a celebration of nine-year-olds everywhere, no matter what their birthdates indicate.

Here’s to our highly respected inner child! Long may s/he thrive!

last year and pomegranates

bus after bus and a walk

to reach last year’s poetry meeting and

as i walked through your door

with my poems

i remembered i’d forgotten

freshly picked pomegranates

well-chosen, beautifully mottled

resting on my kitchen counter

Ah, I said to you, the pomegranates.

Next year, I made the promise.

And now here we are

this year’s pomegranate harvest,

a few settled in a bowl

comfortable on my counter

this year’s pomegranates

who knew who dreamed

such a clever virus

would conquer the world

and shatter my promise.

Next year’s poetry meeting

pomegranate haiku

daily dose of courage (corona days)

It happens every day. The first questions: is nighttime over? Is it morning? What, where, how? And then I gather my resources, stretch and get out of bed.

Each day, I go through my morning routine, which is quite extensive and includes espresso, haiku-writing, exercise, shower, meditation and a long walk. All this is given enough time from start to finish. Afterwards, I consider my prospects.

“out of the cave”, watercolour by me, from around 2000

Every week, I teach school either in the mornings or afternoons, on alternating weeks, a situation requiring my diligence to show up for the correct time-slot. Each week I lead mindfulness on the kibbutz, one day in the afternoon, another day mid-morning, another day first thing in the morning. I need to know which day’s which.

These obligations are punctuated by monthly zoom meetings with my Voices Poetry group and bi-weekly zooms with the kids from the Partnership 2gether Project between Eshkol in the Western Negev and our partner school in Albany, NY.

These are the rhythmic calendar notations providing a scaffolding for the assortment of fears, confusions and shades of uncertainty that throw themselves willy-nilly at me, some sticking for a bit, some slippery and sliding away in an instant. My head resonant with the faint buzz upon their departure.

Everyday that I recall something I’ve set myself to do, my first reaction is ‘NO!’. Do something I hear myself say and No is my response. That is the moment when courage hears its cue. Courage is just waiting, resting, hoping to steal a nap, but it’s so often required to show up and tilt the scales in order to get a thing done, whatever it might be.

Courage, that quality that accompanies knights and saints, is a trait that is perhaps the most useful one in my toolkit. I couldn’t wash my face without it. No shoes would be laced. I’d never shower. Courage gets me from the thought, past the inertia, to actually doing the deed.

Courage, every hour of every day, is my most faithful ally. Even when it’s the last thing I’d want to run into, it shows up, just waiting for me to glance its way. Once I see courage, even out of the corner of my eye, it’s got me. Someone from the outside looking in, would witness a seamless path from idea to actualization. Courage is quick on the draw, right there, ready to charge in and empower this sniveling coward.

Courage, I hate you, I love you, I need you.

into the abyss
with courage and wonder
friends on all sides

stream poem mind

once upon a time

i belonged

i clicked in

my friends were poets

we spoke poetry

we jammed we thrived

one fed the other

my friends were painters

we spoke images

we painted our minds

we shared

we supported

my friends were funny

we giggled at absurdities

in the middle of life

we’d shake with laughter

once upon a time

with real life friends

sitting side by side

finding the shade-strewn paths

we offered secrets

and bonded over pledges

this nostalgic sigh

as screens populate my day

video chatting as if

we leap through the distance

from mind to mind

longing for presence

longing for presence
yin yang dance of life
nostalgia blues
yin yang bowling, judih ’99

august 1st, cloud cover

early morning walk

slightly cool breeze on skin

cloud cover above

 

WhatsApp Image 2020-08-01 at 09.02.03

And so begins August of this bizarre summer of this stranger year. Not as hot as usual, yet strangely timeless, endless, without form, this new month begins. The birds are partying. Flocks make music with their communal wingflaps, the large group separates – one group on one side of the path, the other gone in the other direction.  And the trees still in the fog tinged morning sky.

My footsteps are slower than usual, no need to meet a deadline, an appointment. I’m happily without dread of the heat of the day crashing upon me. There’s no sign of elks or jackals, or bicyclists on these paths through the kibbutz fields.

My stomach reminds me that food would be good when it arrives, and I note that signal as I continue to listen to my feet on the gravel, on the pavement, on sand patches. My companion is silent and my thoughts tend to wander through past dilemmas – what happened, what should have happened, what didn’t happen, etc. It’s nice to notice and to bring my attention back to the sensation of my feet on the ground. Flies buzz around my ears and I start the dance of the arms and hands to swish them away. The movement is effortless and begins from the elbow, forearm and hand – first left and then right. The flies seem to take the hint and I dare to cease the arm swat routine for a few steps till the flies resume their buzz once more.

Present moment. Feet on ground. Flies alive. Fields ready for seeding. Quiet from the Gaza Strip. Quiet from our kibbutz. One lone army jeep can be spied through the row of pines, patrolling the area (nothing unusual). And the factory roaring into the sky under the guise of carefully monitored noise levels. (That would be a ‘no’). Around the bend, the yellow bars of the front gateway to the kibbutz comes into sight. The hothouses on the left are being inspected by a worker. Entering the kibbutz by the pedestrian gate, closing it behind me, a bike rider is seen in the distance and another morning walker comes into view.  Arriving into the core of the kibbutz neighbourhood, we wonder who lives in this house? Who lives beside them? Why aren’t we sure? We could investigate! But then, we turn left onto another path and the cool shade of a fragrant tree leads to the stinky smell of the sugar solution created to catch flies, and all thoughts turn to feet on the ground direction home.

Home, to sit and meditate. To enjoy a second cup of coffee and to welcome this Saturday morning. WhatsApp Image 2020-08-01 at 09.02.03 (1).jpeg

today’s stream of consciousness

mindful writing, flow of thoughts, reflection on the process. How many times have I almost arrived at tears from the thoughts of not hugging my children, my grandchildren, my sister, my brother, my mother, my friends.

How many times have I wished that my partner could more rapidly let go of resentments and hurt. How many times have I retreated back into self-calming.

How many skies have i been grateful for. how many treetops have shown me another view of the sky. How many smells have met me as I walk. How many little children have looked me in the eye with curiousity.

How many fears have I harboured. How many Buddhist lecturers have inspired me. How many google searches have I followed in a search for facts and data.

How much self-soothing. How many virtual visits? How many video calls?

How much love for these distant people who generously have shared their wisdom.

need i answer these questions.

and need I add that there will be more such attempts at remedy as these days continue. With or without corona, there will be these techniques for coping. When i most celebrate the present moment, through solo meditation or through leading others, those times i know that i can give back a little, a little contribution to the world of contributions.

and i can continue.

WhatsApp Image 2020-07-04 at 18.32.02

unspeakable sadness

perhaps the anniversary of my father’s death

perhaps the cruelty and vicious nature of those who murder

perhaps the cello music I’ve just heard

all this, and i’m left with a hole in my heart that seems to be soothed only by allowing tears to flow.

My dose of anxiety aside, this is a sense of sadness that i haven’t felt in a long time.

So I allow the tears to well up and flow. I feel the tightness in my stomach and a clenching in my forehead as I attempt the release. There’s been a barrier, for longer than I’ve known about, that now must be reassured that opening up is acceptable. That there’s a place for utter sadness in my world. Without judgment. It doesn’t matter if others are more or less entitled to tears – here I am, with mine overflowing, making my vision blurry and grey.

There, it’s calmed down a bit. The tears have stopped. A shaky exhale clears away leftover shudders. My chest is warm. My shoulders a little less tense. My head as large as a cantaloupe is balanced effortlessly on my neck.

I’m going to sit for a minute. Allow my fingers to type as they see fit. I’m not looking. They have their own life and always have. They’ve done some of my best work while my head was just busy trying to keep up.

But now even they want to pause.

I’ll wipe away that tear starting its journey down my left cheek. And read this, or not.

Thank you nowtherapy.