On Becoming a Crone

 

aging is not stealthy, like some ninja warrior

sneaking up and nunchucking me from behind

new lines and wrinkles appear in the mirror daily

whether I choose to acknowledge them or remain in denial,

I am surprised when I bend down to pick up something I’ve dropped again

to feel a new twinge or stab catch my breath

and when that happens I say, “oh I feel you now”.

 

aging is not beautiful; the silver framing my face may be precious

but only as a reward for all the courage I’ve revealed

the soft curves of my body are not a sign of vulnerability,

but symbolize the great expanse of my soul,

today I treasure really looking people in the eye,

saying aloud, “I like your smile, your sweater, your care”

and when that happens I sigh, “I hope I made a difference.”

 

aging is not inevitable; we are blessed with each bonus day,

another moment to tell a loved one they are beloved.

I try to halt the peevishness I feel towards the flesh hanging from my arms

by assuring myself that I now have angels wings and then,

I laugh at myself because crones aren’t always angels,

sometimes we transform into bitches, refueling our wrath

and when that happens, I whisper, “can you see me now?”

 

aging is not in the mind where I will always remain 30,

while my body changes and prepares for the next transition

I forgive myself for the days when I wheeze like an organ needing repair

for truly I am an oak tree with strong roots, able to dance in the wind,

yet curious, wilely and wild enough to

March on Washington while proudly shouldering a rainbow flag a little higher

and when that happens can you hear me roar?

 

silver power is not for the faint hearted,

look us in the eyes if you dare, discount us at your peril

you will see tigers baring their teeth, or what remains of them,

listen closely, you will hear us growl, we are becoming crones,

we care more for serenity and less for what others think

with less to lose we are reckless and daring

and when that happens, will you miss us sneaking up behind you?

© Mari Selby, August 6, 2017

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Out of the Ordinary

 

hot tea

as ordinary as a hot cup of tea
a big sigh taken without thought,
black woolen gloves for cold hands
warmth radiating from a wood stove
ordinary moments that sneak up to become…life

waking one winter morning
dawn shines through bedroom window
sharp blades of light slice through
slumber, a beacon of
courage seeking a new day

working on a short wintry afternoon
outside my office window,
robin perches on bare branches of a red bud tree
stares back at me with a question in its black eyes
maybe singing, are we there yet?

walking outside one chilly evening
the moons iridescent ring grabs and shoots me
to the stars and back, to loom among the oak crowns,
a screech owl woman
bursting with mystery, calling for change

wondering, that after 27 years
your sweet smile flashes and sparks
sends shivers up my spine
stokes a fire that’s not been quenched
asking why would we want to rush these things?

grace finds us in odd moments
maybe on some ordinary morning
departs from us not where we are found
instead, transports us to uncharted realms
leaving no footprints behind

when is a smile more than a smile, a robin more than a bird,
the moon’s ring an uncanny passage,
morning sunlight a wake-up call and
when we pause to listen…
the ordinary may sound like a chorus of hallelujah

 

 

© January 20, 2016

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Come and join me at the Library!

Massanutten-library-event

Beauty is Not Determined by Our Pants Size!

1950's beauty1950’s Ideal Woman’s Body

Who says a size 12 is Fat! Who decides that generous curves are not beautiful. I grew up believing that a size 12 was an marvelous size for a woman, and that this model was sexy and gorgeous. A woman had a soft belly, flesh on her arms, and hips that she could swing. Mae West allegedly once said: “Cultivate your curves they may be dangerous but they won’t be avoided.” Did Mae West or this model worry that she wouldn’t be loved or liked because of how she looked? There is definitely beauty in a smile, in sparkling eyes, and open arms In the next few blogs I want to explore what Beauty means to all of us now. We can use words to hurt ourselves or use those same words to build our self-esteem.

Today I am a size 12 and I have to stop myself constantly comparing myself to the size 2 woman and thinking I am enormous. I have quite a few more scars than this model, but we are not shaped so differently. I am decades older than she is in the photo, and my belly bulges a bit more than hers and there’s extra flesh on my arms that swings. My ass maybe a little more generous, and my thighs rub when I sweat. But how am I not still beautiful?  My negative self-talk says that my beauty is only on the surface. My self-esteem says what matters most is literally seeing the beauty in myself and other people.

I did a casual survey on FB on what people thought was beautiful. All ten women who responded said that beauty was in the eyes, the soul, and the heart. One woman said that developing and holding onto a moral integrity was beautiful. Another woman said that being pretty was very different from being beautiful. One woman said “I may look and feel like an arse, but my hubbie, and children make me feel beautiful.” Everyone of them made a distinction between outward appearances and how we feel inside, or how others love makes us feel. How do you define beauty? When do you feel beautiful?

 “Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.”

excerpt from “Phenomenal Woman” by Maya Angelou

Through Recovery We Discover Our Own Beauty

kintsugi
Though we come to this path of recovery shattered, fragmented pieces of ourselves we are still beautiful human beings.  The actions and substances we have taken in an effort to feel whole and complete are the very things that have left us in this broken state. We  find in recovery through the 12 steps something that will actually mend the broken pieces. Through recovery we discover our own beauty.
We are mended using what we can call the gold powder of the 12-Steps, yoga, meditation, connection with a higher power and being of service to others.  These are the elements that make up the golden lacquer of the path of recovery.  When we use these tools as the golden glue in which to mend our broken pieces, something incredible happens. We become transformed into an entirely new being more beautiful than what our original self could have been.
When we look in the mirror, our cracks are still there, filled in now with unique golden lines.  We see the cracks and our defects of character more clearly. Maybe we felt like fragile dolls before, too vulnerable, too fragile to live without our addictions. Through recovery we know where we have been and we are better now for having been there.  We continue to take personal inventories, and make amends whenever necessary. We have combined our fragility with resilience to find a life of such richness that we never could have imagined. We have been damaged, have a history, but now we are more beautiful with our scars and cracks filled in with the golden powder of recovery.

Everyday Miracles

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 It’s July and there is an Amaryllis blooming in our backyard here in Staunton, VA. Amaryllis traditionally bloom inside in the winter and are one of the glories of the holiday season. The fact that this Amaryllis is blooming in July alone might not be perceived as a miracle. However, we had a hard winter with feet of snow, and this bulb was forgotten and left out in the flower bed. And miraculously it survived, and is in fact thriving. Stripey Amaryllis One’s story is one continuous miraculous circumstance. To me this is proof of a divine design, and that even plants have their own destiny not defined and outlined by us humans. Maybe this is a sign that nothing truly is impossible? Maybe we can be inspired by this story to reach for our seemingly impossible dreams?

This is the factual outline for Stripey Amaryllis One’s life story:

1. Bought for the holiday, in 2009, the first year the Stripey bloomed slightly after the holiday season.

2. The bulb was laid to rest through the winter in the basement.

3. The next spring Stripey was brought out and put into a pot and carefully nurtured along with others.

4. Brought inside in the fall Stripey Amaryllis One finally burst into glorious blooms in February.

5. The process of resting, and nurturing through the summer was repeated for a few more years. Each year the blooms would bubble out a little later. March seemed to be a favorite time.

6. Last year instead of keeping the bulbs in clay pots we put Stripey directly into the ground of one of the flower beds. We forgot to bring it in along with the others.

7. We noticed the stalk in June when we were tending the garden. Then blossoms appeared. For most of the month of June into July we loved Stripey Amaryllis One and it’s blooms.

Some say this story is impossible. Yet it happened as outlined here.

When we see signs from the universe of seemingly impossible things actually happening, how do we react? Do we shrug our shoulders say, “whatever”, or shout “that’s impossible, it can’t happen”? How are we to interpret Stripey Amaryllis One’s story? Do we accept that there must be a divine design, that certainly has more power than we do? By this simple plant surviving and thriving are we inspired and encouraged to reach for that impossible dream?

I am humbled by Stripey Amaryllis One. What a miracle to know her story and witness her presence. I am grateful for these everyday miracles. I am grateful that I can see miracles around me in profound situations, and simple ones also. How do you experience miracles in your everyday life?

New Moon in Gemini – Curioser and Curioser

new moon From Alice in Wonderland: “Alice: Well, when I was lost, I suppose it’s good advice to stay where you are until someone finds you. But who’d ever think to look for me here? [sigh] Alice: Good advice. If I listened earlier, I wouldn’t be here. But that’s just the trouble with me. I give myself very good advice, but I very seldom follow it.”

Sound familiar? Alice is talking to herself and during this moon phase we will hear our contrary voices clearly speaking. One part of us wants to stay home and write all day holed up in our office, another part of us is ready to socialize. Or one part of us may say yes to a new situation, while the other quieter voice may say slow down don’t move too fast. Or even simpler, do we exercise or not?

Do we always listen to the contrary voices? Probably not. We often train ourselves to block out the dialogue we don’t want to hear. However, sometimes those contrary voices are really angels in disguise. They may be warning us of trouble ahead, or coaching us in better self care, or suggesting that the relationship we are thinking of dumping is worth saving. Truly the river in Egypt is not the only form of denial that we swim in, and accepting all parts of ourselves is a spiritual journey. Sometimes those contrary voices may be very, very quiet and we need to slow way down to hear what they say.

With this new moon we are given so many choices. That is both what’s fun and what makes us feel a little crazy. Really! Every once in awhile going a little crazy is good for the soul. Have fun with friends and get your work done. With the dual nature of the moon in Gemini you actually can do both.

Faced with new choices how do we choose? What do we do? Communication with ourselves and those involved is the key to coming through this moon more or less intact. Even saying, “well a part of me wants this, and a part of me wants that” is a great exercise in allowing those contrary voices room. And the best part of this moon is everyone is feeling the same way!

So go ahead and talk to yourself today, no one will notice and think you are off your meds! They are probably doing the same thing. Talk it out, share with those you love and the solution will appear.