Sometimes everything has to be enscribed across the heavens so you can find the one line already written inside you. Sometimes it takes a great sky to find that small, bright, and indescribable wedge of freedom in your own heart. David Whyte

Fashion Statement

My once-straight neck stooping
Peering into the mirror
Who is that old woman I spy?
Vaguely familiar I think I do know her
Can it be she is I?

Yesterday friend gave appraisal of me
As one “who is dwelling within my own skin”.
High compliment I received it
And now contemplate it
My settling into vintage-aged years.

Living in harmony with effects of aging
Softens the blow of multiple nuisances
Brought on by years of my being younger.
My body must deal with the natural calamity
Of living a rich life – and then getting old.

A new tool I discover and add to my arsenal
A distinct sharpening of my sense of humor.
My larger belly is wonderful for laughing
Loud, unselfconscious guffaws at my foibles
As I relinquish a measure of dignity.

These days clothes are a problem
Models on the runway just aren’t my shape.
What’s in my closet spans years of styles
I can fashion new looks as things slowly wear out
Survival of the fittest dictates my wardrobe.

Today I live at the pace of now
Finding delight in the scenes out my window.
Accessing new worlds in my writing and reading
On my own magic carpet I travel afar.
I like the view from within my own skin.


Haiku: Litmus test

How to be Grandma?
Though endowed with snow-white hair
Baking’s not my lot.

Grandkid’s faces beam
Some in scrapbooks, some on wall
Own no camera.

Once sent greeting cards
For significant events.
Birthday cards endure.

Just don’t measure up
Must not be in DNA
Then it came to me.

Always been like this.
My grandchildren know me well.
Who else could I be?


Writing 101-Wilde Wisdom

Be yourself; everyone else is taken. – Oscar Wilde

When I turned fifty a friend asked me what I wanted to do now that I was half a century old. I replied, “I want to be an original.” I felt it was long overdue for me to stop paying attention to what other people expected of me and dis-cover the creature I am meant to be. It has been a fascinating journey. Twenty-eight years later I’m just entering my prime as an original.

In March I went to Costa Rica with a tour group I’ve traveled with previously. The first evening I knew to expect the familiar ritual of telling each other something about ourselves and what we do. Before when I traveled with this group I introduced myself as a retired pastoral counselor. This led to people’s expectation that they could tell me their problems and seek advice. I’m glad to help people but realized they did not see beyond my profession to the whole person that I’m evolving into. As I was flying down to Costa Rica I decided to show my new face Vivachange and to do and say whatever I wanted to. In the “tell something about yourself” circle I said that I had recently started a blog and had made the joyous discovery that I have a gift for writing poetry. In the following days nobody came up to me to talk about poets and poetry! I learned something new about the world I’m entering and am excited to continue my journey here.


Strange Glory of Grief

Over the weekend there was a phone call.
Friend long forgotten remembering me
Stirred up a past put to rest, so I thought.
It was lovely to dwell there again.

She spoke of a man once mentor to us
Truly important to who I’ve become
Now dead these past three years.
I knew that – did not consider more grieving to come.

She asked if I had heard of his book
Personal journal published after his death.
Not being aware I bought it forthwith
It came in the mail today.

Suddenly grief put her arms around me.
Book’s paper and words transformed into a koan
Moaned from my heart washed by tears
Cleared my eyes to look deeply into myself.

The young woman I had been grew year by year
Foundation was laid early on.
Now I sing praises of happy thanksgiving
That in the end she has become me.


Writing 201: Poetry – Sonnet – One Rose

My life has been a rich bouquet
Composed of flowers, weeds and thorns.
I cherish,  give value to every one
For different gifts they’ve given me.

Flowers bloomed beauty in my path.
Weeds put obstacles before me.
Thorns taught grappling with problems.
All were life lessons necessary.

My life has changed, bouquet no longer
My lot is now a fallow field
Ready to grow what seeds are planted.

My life’s become simplicity.
Time to be one rose complete.
For more is less and less is more.


Perfection In the Midst of Imperfection: Lagniappe and Love

Once upon a time almost half a century ago, when my youngest son was two years old, we used to go to a late afternoon Christmas Eve service at our church. The big draw for our three sons was the Kentucky Fried Chicken supper afterward. We mothers enjoyed a break before the harried moments of getting children wide-eyed with excitement to sleep so Santa Claus could arrive. The fathers were happy to be off the hook for a bit before the annual challenge of assembling toys that always came with a part or two missing. Through the years there is one Christmas Eve that remains perpetually fresh in my memory.

We arrived a little late and found seats in the back of the church. While we sang carols, one of my favorite parts of the service, my youngest son quietly slipped beneath the pews and crawled forward several rows until a vigilant parent retrieved him and pointed him back in our direction. When time came for telling the story of the First Christmas the Pastor called the children forward to gather around him at the front of the Sanctuary. The children sat on the floor and looked around with awe at this part of the church usually reserved for grown people, often wearing long black robes. I noticed a child edge away from the group and stealthily begin to climb the circular stair leading upward to the Pulpit. Soon a small head leaned way over the railing, like a sailor leaning out over the sea from a ship’s crows nest. It was my pew-crawling son.

Behind the Pulpit and other Ecclesiastical furniture, there was a tapestry-like wall covering surrounding the Cross. It was a heavenly shade of blue patterned with gold lines forming diamond shapes. At the points of the diamonds there were rosettes completing the design except where one was purposely left off. This was to remind us of the imperfection of humankind. I privately named the missing flower the symbol of “The August Order of the Missing Rosette” and considered myself a charter member. I mentally included my pew-crawling, pulpit-climbing son in its ranks.

This holiday season I’ve had occasion to renew my membership in the “August Order”. I do most of my shopping on-line. I particularly like ordering from Amazon to take advantage of free shipping if I spend a certain amount. I checked with my middle son who lives in another city to see what my two grandchildren wanted as gifts. I went on-line, found just the thing for each child and had them shipped to their address, which is in Amazon’s list of people I frequently send gifts to. Two days ago I received an email from Amazon saying the gifts were on the way – to my address! I couldn’t believe it. I’m certain that I clicked on my son’s address. My stomach sank. Now I’m afraid I can’t get the presents to their house in time for Christmas day. This is bad, but the worse thing is that this is not an isolated incident. It is a feature of aging that I find hard to accept. Doing ridiculous things and laughing about it with my friends “of a certain age” is one thing. Messing up my grandchildren’s Christmas is a whole different matter. I emailed my son about the delay and told him that I guess perfection is just not something possible for vintage-aged people. He replied that to him “my imperfections are just lagniappe (a Louisiana phrase meaning something extra added to a gift). The August Order of the Missing Rosette would be proud of my son and me.


Alternate Wilderness Adventures

My first husband, father of our sons, loved to go camping. It took a separate closet in the basement to store all his gear. He spent winters drying beef jerky for snacks and fixing meals to be reconstituted later with water on his summer trips. He used the kitchen oven so often I was lucky to get a meatloaf in edgewise. He also mixed his own gorp, which is now called trail mix and sold in grocery stores. Solomon, a ninety pound black Lab who was his best friend, and our sons accompanied him. For years he kept journals chronicling his adventures.

Recently I posted Memoirs of Two Innocents Abroad, several installments about the first big trip we took together – to England and France. Originally I wrote long detailed letters to my sisters back home which they saved for me to keep as a remembrance of our travels. They are part of my “Family Treasures” to pass down through the generations and have survived my moves after our divorce for the past twenty-five years. This summer when they resurfaced, tucked away and forgotten in an old shoe box, I was distraught. My letters are written in long hand, which is not taught in my grandchildren’s schools. That was the impetus for translating them into a typed form on my blog so they could read my stories. Now I am planning to have copies bound into a simple notebook to give them to my sons and their families for Christmas.

On a regular basis my former husband now a friend, who lives near by, invites me out for coffee. I mentioned to him my idea for creating a travelogue. He jumped in with his idea of including his camping journals, which he had copied over the years on his old manual typewriter. I was delighted to merge our stories. To get things started he brought me a shopping bag full of journal pages to go through and maybe condense.

As I began to read I found myself in a minefield of exploding memories and new emotions. I never knew the man revealed in his writings, though I was familiar with many of his stories. I never saw the soul mate possibilities between two people who chose different trails and confronted different wilderness adventures. We are both adventurers who strike out on our own. We are survivors. We’re story tellers. I mourn that I never saw him truly. But, though I think he sees me now, or at least is willing to listen to me, he stops short of wanting to plumb the depths of me. I will not tell him of my revelation. I celebrate that we are friends.

Ranier Maria Rilke writes of a “love that consists of two solitudes which border, protect and salute each other” across a divide. For me this is reality.


Haiku – Shine and Potential: Aging’s Own Perogatives

Hardly topic one would chose
To write poems about.

Doctor blew my mind
Checking out if I’m the one
He’s supposed to treat.

“You can’t be the one.
You don’t look your age, my dear.”
Talk about delight.


Last Vestige of a Marriage

Last week I stayed at a timeshare resort in Mexico that my second husband and I owned and visited for almost twenty years. The resort was a dream place for us since we were not really luxury sort of people. A former girlfriend of his convinced him to buy it with her. She sold him her half after we married – hence time in this beautiful place was an unexpected gift to us. It was the place I most felt like a couple – away from his all-consuming work, cell phone and internet connection (at least for the first ten years).

Last week, now divorced, I went alone. I felt his presence everywhere. I remembered the first few years when the resort was new and almost humble in its beginnings. The “kitchen” was only a counter in the living room with a couple of electric coils covered by a roll-top-piano sort of lid. Not many people sharing time at this splendid resort last week would believe that things were once just basic and functional. We loved remembering how things used to be. Now there was no one I could share those funny old memories with. Thoughts of him filled the apartment I was in, which we had shared two years ago for the last time. One afternoon while I was waiting on a bench for one of the electric golf carts that transport everyone where they want to go, I felt a bolt of memory more intense than the others. We had sat on that very bench waiting for the same golf cart countless times. His presence was overwhelming. When I got home I cried. I hadn’t felt the physical pain of grieving so profoundly before. I didn’t know why my grieving had held off for so long. It has been two years since our divorce. Grief is a mystery and keeps its own timetable.

At the end of the week I went to the customary owner’s breakfast and update on new plans and programs for the resort. I learned that my contract had been flagged to remind member services to let me know of a new development concerning my contract, which I still shared with my former husband, as well as my three sons. The member services representative asked me if I was aware that my former husband had tried to have me and my sons removed from the contract. Since that was not doable, he made his new wife his beneficiary. I was stunned. My dreams and memories went up in the smoke of illusion. The cold hard dose of reality put out any vestige of my old flame.


Read the Label Carefully

I am told that I’m a WASP
And, yes, I’m those four things.
But I am so much more,
And thank God I’ve got wings.

I thought a WASP was rich,
A male who wore Gray Flannel suits.
My mother told me never mind
Ancestral portraits graced our walls.

That’s all it took, she said,
And silver spoons with monograms
Not in our mouths
But in a silver chest.

So then I’m a Southern WASP.
Sent to a privileged all girls school
I quickly learned how money talks
Not in my mother’s tongue.

Oh me, where do I fit?
I’ll strike out on my own.
To mine the riches in this world
That can’t be sold or bought.

To delve inside myself
To find the single spark
Of fire that gives me life
And shines on in the dark.

A heart of love, song of faith
And anger deep and true
To penetrate the labels cruel
Which separate me from you.