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Sunday, November 22, 2015

ACCEPTANCE: Benefits of Writing Poetry

Poems often start out headed in one direction and suddenly take an unexpected turn. This poem, Acceptance, surprised me because I thought its ending would reveal a difficulty requiring, well, acceptance! Instead, the words led to a more pleasant ending. Of course, the opposite is also possible, a lesson I learned as time went on and more poems took shape. 

One benefit of writing a renshi-form of poetry is knowing how the next poem will begin. By using the final words of the previous poem to entitle the next, the decision is already made. All that is required is to allow the words to flow, to release the thoughts buried deep inside of you without censure.

Maybe that is the Acceptance of this particular poem. Grant yourself a personal form of acceptance, one that will allow you to surrender to indulgence. The conditions listed at the start of the poem, stillness, inner focus, relaxed breathing, feel almost hypnotic in their release of control. Accept this, rather than attempting to maintain a strict discipline. 

The photograph I chose to accompany this poem, from my eclectic and rather amateurish collection, offers a sense of calm that complements the poem’s decelerating pace. I had no image in mind as I wrote the words. In fact, I had no preconceived ideas of the direction each poem would take or how they would tie together as a whole once completed. Had I set such a goal, the collaboration of words, motives, and images, my project would have no end. 

I choose completion over perfection every time.



Lack of motion

Limited sight

Slow breathing

Diminished thought

Absence of concern

Exhalation of relief

All this and more

As one accepts release

Falling gradually,

or fast

Time and again

With ever increasing pleasure

Into nightly blessed sleep.

***  ***  ***  ***  ***

Friday, November 20, 2015

THIS LIFE I'VE LOVED by author Isobel Field

When is the last time you read a memoir, or any book, that made you feel good inside, excited you to action, and entertained you to laughter and tears? THIS LIFE I’VE LOVED created all these emotions in me. 

Isobel Field lived a life we all dream about while we run our daily errands and cook our meals. Born in Indianapolis, Isobel began her travels at the age of four, mostly with her mother. She experienced the gold rush days and the old west in America, became a dancer, an artist, a craftsman. Her life in the theater alone makes a fascinating story.
This was before she relocated to Honolulu and became well-acquainted with King David Kalakaua, the Merry Monarch. The king asked her to design the royal crest of Hawai‘i, as well as the official Hawaiian flag. She complied. 

Isobel moved to Australia at the request of her mother and stepfather, who then established residency for the entire family in Samoa. Her writing of all these events of her life is honest, straightforward, colorful, and most of all personal. I felt included in the many parties, theater rehearsals, and hectic Paris studio activities. I was pleased with her arrival in Belgium, home of my paternal ancestors, and how she spoke of the country’s great painters and hospitable citizens. 

Of Isobel, Irwin S. Cobb says: "Although much of Isobel Field's autobiography is concerned with her stepfather, Robert Louis Stevenson, it is Isobel's own unique story and her vibrant personality that will captivate the reader. Belle was a wonderful storyteller and a writer of great wit and acuity. She was with her mother, Fanny (Frances Van de Grift Osbourne), when they met Stevenson in Grez in 1876. . . 

“A great woman . . . who has lived as picturesque and colorful and useful life as anyone I know." 


Next up for review is:

Divisadero by Michael Ondaatje

Sunday, November 15, 2015

PURPOSE TO LIFE: What Every Soul Needs

The Hawaiian performance, Ulalena, is a Maui Island Cirque du Soleil. With precision, the performers present a dance of visual splendor. The audience has no doubt each actor on stage has purpose. At the end of the day, their reward is not only extended applause, but the knowledge of a job well done. 

Applying this precision to my own life is a commendable goal, more command than able, however. Discipline is not necessarily acquired through routine. Sitting in front of a computer for several hours each day does not guarantee a fully formed manuscript at the end of six months. 

The computer is really the devil in disguise. On the desktop alone is a full selection of solitaire card games, along with an entire folder of photographs meant to be sorted and labeled. Another folder contains countless web articles, saved for off-line reading. The folder icon faces the icon for the power-DVD player. You can see where that’s headed, thanks to Walmart’s $5.00 bin. 

As poem #5 declares in its first line, every soul needs purpose. Purpose offers meaning in a world fraught with confusion and indecision. Using the GPS in your soul to guide you each day can keep the unsettling moments to a minimum. Choose a direction. If you hit a dead end, turning around is only a matter of shifting your heels and adjusting your nose to follow. 

I’m not as coordinated as the Ulalena acrobats, but I seldom tip over!


On stage after performance
with cast member and Jeanne Miller

Purpose to Life 

Every soul needs purpose
A reason to smile
Reward for a task well done. 
A life lived aimlessly
Wanders through light and dark
Never understanding ease. 

Knowing why I do
What I do so precisely,
Gives weight to each accomplishment. 

Up down, east west
Left right, high low
Balance leads me to acceptance.
 ***  ***  ***  ***  ***