Telling the Truth

connecting the dots of my life

Tag: Blogging

Falling in love with today

How soft and easy
the pillow of yesterday
when heart, mind and body
were young and strong
filled with adventure

When did the lie creep in?
The lie that weak isn’t strong
or even beautiful in its
softening and yearning for
more time on this precious earth

Peering into the rear-view mirror
of life as I’ve known it has become
a daily gift to myself and to those
I loved and let go along the way
while holding them in my heart

I’m painfully aware that my energy for blogging has plummeted in the past several months. Not because I don’t want to show up, but because I’m still coming to terms with the ups and downs of nondiabetic peripheral neuropathy.

At the top of my daily list have been painful feet plus awkwardness when walking. A close second has been keeping pots of soup or stew ready to eat, along with cut-up veggies ready to eat raw or steamed. In addition, the weather is warming up nicely, the birds fight daily at our two birdfeeders, Smudge loves my lap, and I’m learning to walk outside with my handy-dandy hiking pole.

Bottom line: I’m learning to treat my feet as part of me—not as my enemies. They aren’t going away, and even if I live to be 100 years old, I can’t thank them enough for taking me places I never dreamed I would go. So yes, we’re on the same side now. No more glowering looks or worse. Instead, I’m learning to listen to them, thank them for letting me know enough is enough, and give them and myself the break we deserve.

I pray your day includes giving yourself the breaks you need and deserve.
Cheers from Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 18 May 2022
Photo from eventbrite.jpg

Falling in love with yesterday

Peering into a deep well
I inch closer to the edge
One evening after another
In the moment, but not quite,
Old memories stir feelings
Captured in forgotten photos

Who am I now? What did I leave behind? Is there any logic to this madness of yesterday’s joy and today’s old-age awkwardness?

I want to hang onto today and yesterday. Not content with one or the other. I want to see, remember, smell, taste and breathe in the beauty and pain of this world, captured in fleeting moments of wonder, distress, and despair.

The last several weeks have been rough. Marked by several dark nights filled with raging winds, pounding rain, and unpredictable bolts of lightning.

They’ve also been filled with beauty: songbirds waking each day with their dawn songs, a red-breasted male grossbeak sitting on our porch rail, a large bushy red-tailed fox trotting nonchalantly through our back yard, and the full moon casting a nighttime spotlight on our neighbor’s front yard.

Thank you for your visit. Especially during these unpredictable days and nights of uncertainty, fear and unexpected losses.
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 5 May 2022
Photo of our children taken by DAFraser, 1972 at the San Diego Zoo

The greatest gift

When I began blogging, I didn’t give much thought to writing poems. I loved to write. I loved using imagery. I loved playing things out in words. And I loved reading poetry.

But writing it myself? Not since my freshman year of college, when my writing professor told me I would never write poetry. I believed her. Until I began blogging.

This morning I read the poem below. I’ve read it many times, always accompanied by tears of gratitude along with recognition that my life is in its final chapter. I hope you enjoy it and are prompted to remember things that bring joy and music into your heart and mind.

music to my ears

I love the calm cadence of your voice
and the way you make rare 
the everyday

waves rolling in on the beach
wind whispering in the willows
my husband reading to me aloud
Mendelssohn’s E Major Song Without Words
J. S. Bach’s C Major Prelude #1
doves cooing in the morning
robins singing in dusky evening
the overwhelming calm of Psalm 23

I chose the Bach rendition above because of the player’s calm approach to Bach’s Prelude in C Major. Also because it’s being played by a so-called amateur who gets the nuances just right.

Wishing you a calming Tuesday no matter what’s going on around you,
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 2/22/2022
Video found on YouTube

The Uses of Sorrow | Mary Oliver

Have you ever dreamed a poem? Here’s one from Mary Oliver. Short and to the point. My comments follow.

The Uses of Sorrow
(In my sleep I dreamed this poem)

Someone I loved once gave me
a box full of darkness

It took me years to understand
that this, too, was a gift.

© 2006 by Mary Oliver
Poem found in Thirst, p. 52
Published by Beacon Press

I first read Mary’s dream poem several years ago, then hurried on to the next page. I didn’t want to think about it. How could a box full of darkness be a gift?

In German, “das Gift” means poison. In some ways this blog was my way of beginning to take ‘das Gift’ seriously. When I began blogging, I agonized over what to say and how to say it. What was in my “box full of darkness,” and who gave it to me? Or, better put, who passed it on to me so that it became My Problem?

Sorrow isn’t a throw-away event, or series of events. As Mary Oliver says in the title, sorrow has its uses.

Nonetheless, real life doesn’t usually invite us to see a box full of sorrow as a true gift. Instead, we’re supposed to play the game ‘their way’ because that’s what the box of darkness is about. Put another way: It perpetuates the angst and anger of generations, without recognizing or fighting today’s poison. Easier all round for everyone, right?

Wrong. Understanding ‘das Gift’ as a true gift to be explored was and still is dangerous. Beginning to investigate the past brings an avalanche of consternation, anger, tears, honesty and humility. It dares me to turn my so-called gift into light. The kind that illuminates truth and empowers me to be the woman I am.

At this age, I’m still finding ‘stuff’ not yet examined from the box of poison passed on to me as a child and young adult. However, when I’m willing to step back and take a deep breath, I’m also able to take one more step in the right direction. For better and for worse, being in my elderly years means I have lots of material to work with, whether I like it or not.

Thanks again for stopping by. I’m doing quite well most days. Especially when I follow my heart instead of my head or my forever-lists of things to ‘do.’

Cheers!
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 18 February 2022
Image found at pinterest.com

unwelcome truths

Protests are never enough
Banners prod but don’t produce solutions
Anger spills from hot microphones
Releasing age-old frustrations
Captured in picture-perfect news clips

What-next moments reveal unwelcome truths
Weary eyes beg for sleep
So little energy today
Dreams are easier to entertain
Than cruel realities on the ground

As a white woman, I often find myself at a loss. What to do? What not to do? Do ‘they’ (whoever ‘they’ happen to be on any given day) really want my input or partnership? Maybe I’m barking up the wrong tree. Perhaps I should take care of my own unexamined business as the white woman I am.

Right from the top, I’d say taking care of my own business isn’t just a ‘good’ thing to do. It’s a radically necessary part of becoming human regardless of my color, upbringing, beliefs, privileges, or trauma.

Nonetheless, the challenge brings up deeper issues of race, class, color, creed, privilege, political inclinations, and a lot more.

I can’t be everyone. I can only be myself. Which is a crazy thing to acknowledge, given my nearly life-long obsession with being the woman someone else thought I should be. Making you happy about me would somehow make me happy about myself. As though I’d finally ‘found’ myself.

However, I began finding myself only after I stopped trying to be the polite human female others thought I should be. Retirement and old age (78 and counting) have been tough taskmasters. My options for helping change the world are diminishing.

Given the options, I’ve chosen global climate change as a way of bringing together multiple issues. Or, to put it another way, without global climate change, other social and global issues won’t have a chance of being addressed. This includes Race, Gender, Refugees, War, Poverty, Crop Survival, Water Rights, Hoarding of Riches, Gun Violence, Voting Rights, Pandemics and more.

What does this mean for me? It means doing what I can to acknowledge the high price climate change has imposed on those with the least resources. More on that in another post. Right now it’s time to get this baby in the pipeline and eat lunch!

Cheers!
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 28 January 2022
Photo found at nationalgeographic.com

Health and Well-Being Update | Peripheral Neuropathy+

The last several months felt like a never-ending hike in the dark. Not knowing. Waiting. Getting bits and pieces of information, but not the whole pie. Which would likely be liver and okra pie—my worst nightmare foods when I was a child!

  1. Seriously, I know more than I did a month ago. Yes, I have peripheral neuropathy. But where is it coming from?
  2. Thanks to the MRI in late December, I now know it’s coming from osteoarthritis in my lower spine.
  3. The pain in my feet can be eased by several simple and challenging exercises. As a religious person and because I’m able to do so, I’m religiously practicing the art of stretching and strengthening my lower back.
  4. The pain in my feet and legs is worse when weather fronts move in along with frigid wind, snow, sleet, and ice. Ironically, sudden changes in air pressure coincide with burning in my legs and feet. Especially at night.
  5. Walking is an excellent way to get circulation going in my lower legs and feet. I walk almost every day come rain or shine, thanks to an open first-floor plan, a radio, and my wi-fi headphones.
  6. Open-toe sandals are comforting to my feet, along with soft, warm knee-high diabetic socks. I am not diabetic.
  7. I have a serious problem with fatigue. Morning energy quickly dissolves into weariness.

Next week I’ll see my hematologist. Based on the outcome of bloodwork he ordered a month ago, he will tell me whether I’m a candidate for a health issue at least as difficult as peripheral neuropathy. D will be with me so that we hear this news together.

That’s my report for now. I’m taking this one day at a time: laughing or crying when I feel like it, lying down for short naps as needed, playing the piano, listening to music, watching the birds, and sticking to my super-healthy diet.

Praying this finds each of you in reasonably good health.
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 21 Jan 2021
Photo found at pinterest.com

In the deep mid-winter | 3 Haikus

buzzing ears open
for business this frigid day
listening to nothing

wind howls
through cracked walls
a baby cries

travelers
missing in action
full stop

Real Winter. We haven’t had it here in Eastern Pennsylvania for several years. Now it seems to be making up for lost time.

This morning I set things up to make a big pot of spiced red lentil soup. I also used my SAD ‘happy light’ to help with my mood. Best of all, I decided not to race out early this morning (with D driving) for a blood draw before 9am.

Not a bad beginning to what promises to be a gusty, sun-shiny day, with the temperature plummeting tonight. Not many birds were out for their early morning suet feast.

Beginning this week, I’ll see three of my doctors, one a week, to find out what my blood tests, MRI, and other tests to my feet and legs are adding up to.

In the meantime, I’m finding out when my feet don’t hurt. It’s all about music! Playing the piano instantly takes my mind off the pain. So does walking in the house or working in the kitchen with my new headphones, listening to direct-feed music, babbling brooks and birds, or anything else remotely musical. Thanks to our daughter and her husband for the birthday headphones.

Best of all, I have no pain when I’m sitting at my computer writing poetry or posts for you.

Until next time, I’m still
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 10 January 2022
Photo found at houstonchronicle.com

Why writing feels dangerous

How do I write when life is still a numbed-out muddle?

Last night I read about a woman who couldn’t get in touch with sensations in her body because she felt disconnected. Numb.

I relate to her. All my life I’ve experienced numbing out—sometimes on purpose; other times as the general go-to mode of my body. That means I feel out-of-place, lost, or just not interested in the vulnerability of connecting.

Years of neglect also hang out in my body. No wonder I get weary and can’t always stay awake emotionally. Perhaps some part of me has lost its memory or its ability to function with and for me.

And so I move on to something else instead of sitting with it. Or wondering about it, loving or even soothing it. Or welcoming it as a major part of the woman I’ve been and have become.

I’m a writer. I want to connect with what’s going on inside me, not just with thoughts running through my mind. I want to listen to myself, speak from within myself. Yet I’ve guarded so much for so long.

Can numbness lead to death? I don’t know. Perhaps I’m hiding from my voice. Sometimes I’m apprehensive about what I might discover or write and then let go. Even before I understand it fully.

From the moment I became a living human being, You’ve been there. Even when I was too terrified to be there. Too terrified to sit quietly with whatever was going on inside this woman I keep calling ‘me.’

Am I afraid right now? I want to believe You hold me close and won’t let me stray far from home. Yet I still think it’s my job to keep myself from straying. Maybe that’s why writing feels dangerous. My words are out there. I can’t control how they’re read or used or abused. Or heard and dissected.

A voice seems more fragile than a body. More connected to soul. More vulnerable to attack. Yet when I’ve done my best to be truthful, and have given it away so that the river moves on within and through me, I’m not sure what else I can do except build a dam.

I know about dams. I’ve constructed many in my lifetime. Little dams. Big dams. Complex, contorted, impenetrable dams. Trying desperately to escape the truth about me.

And what if the truth about me is beautiful? Lovely? What then? Have I killed it?

A small Christmas cactus blossom rests in front of me on my desk. A lovely, fading pinkish magenta. Its fragile petals look like limp gauze wings folded around its core. It isn’t ugly; it’s dying. Doing what lovely flowers do after giving themselves away.

It’s the only way to live. Not forever, but in this present moment. My calendar lies to me daily. It promises more than it or I can deliver. I want to live this one day as if there were no tomorrow. No more, and no less.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 15 January 2018, reposted 10 December 2021
Photo found at pxhere.com

Whatever lies ahead

Walking toward me this morning,
the fortyish adult woman seemed
unhappy and despondent,
clutching her light jacket
and looking away

Just across the street,
grade school children shouted
in frenzies of laughter, competition
and the need to be seen and heard

How does it happen so quickly —
This fierce need to be part of the gang?

And how is it that some of us
were held back by heavy rules
and unnumbered regulations?

I’ve rarely felt so lost as I do today
during this unruly period between
diagnosis and unpleasant tests
coming toward me down a road
I never thought I would travel

Yes, I have health issues on my mind. I’m also thinking about my writing. The physical impact on my body is taking a toll. I’ll be relieved when the next set of tests has been completed.

For years, I’ve had a storyline in my head: Eldest daughter of a strict pastor/father gets married and finally has a life of her own. Rules for Good Girls go out the window. Free at last, she flies away and finds out she is a real human being.

I wish. It’s wonderful to celebrate the moment I spoke truth to my father. It was the eve of my 50th birthday. I did not deserve to be shamed, humiliated, or silenced. What was taken from me in my childhood and youth is gone forever.

Until now, I’ve hesitated to write about what it was like to study, teach, and serve as dean in academic and seminary settings. Nor have I written much about my life as a member of Christian churches.

Something tells me this is an opportunity to be welcomed. Right now I’m not so sure. Yet I know it’s time.

Thanks for listening,
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 12 October 2021
Photo taken by DAFraser, 10 September 2021 in the Longwood Meadow Garden

What makes your heart sing?

On the edge of sanity
my heart skips a beat
uncertain whether to
laugh or cry or fade out
of sight without so much
as a farewell or a hug

Looking around I wonder
why I’m still here after
a lifetime of trying to prove
I’m not a failure or a witch
wanting to poison anyone
intent on taking me down

I no longer believe old lies
about the meaning of life
and who gets to decide
who or what is worthwhile
as too many of us lurch along
drunk with our own goodness

All my life I’ve held tightly to this mantra: “Whatever you do, Elouise, do it well and do it with all your heart, mind and body.”

Rarely did anyone ask me what I wanted to do, what I most enjoyed about life, or what dreams I might have for myself. To attend to what I loved was often seen as selfish.

Instead, the mantra was always about responsibility, showing up, and persevering until the job was done. It seemed sensible, sane, and part of what I could offer, even after retirement.

This past week, in conversation with a longtime friend, I finally got it straight. At this age, I am NOT responsible for most, if not all the things (files and academic records) I thought I needed to hang onto. It’s time to let them go, with thanks to shredders.

Besides life with D and my volunteer work, I love playing the piano, writing, reading, watching birds in the back yard, and looking through old cards, notes and pictures from long ago.

Praying for this tired old world, and opportunities to reach out as I’m able. Plus commitment to things I love. They aren’t distractions from the real work. They’re the main agenda.

What makes your heart sing? Thanks for stopping by!

Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 30 August 2021
Tufted Titmouse photo found at thebirdnature.com

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