Telling the Truth

connecting the dots of my life

Tag: Blogging

Letting Go

How hard can it get? Pieces of my life surround me day and night. Always reminding me of something I don’t want to forget, or release just yet.

Tons. That’s how much it seems I’ve already let go—books, do-dads, clothes, cards and letters, kitchen utensils, Tupperware, cookbooks, dishes, and plates. Plus files and records from years of teaching and being a dean, boxes of still usable toys for children, and pictures that decorated the walls of our six homes from the East to the West Coast. Still, some days it seems I haven’t even scratched the surface.

In addition, I’m having to bid farewell to pieces of me. I never dreamed I would be so housebound as I am now. Yes, I get out to walk several times a week (when the weather cooperates). However, I don’t leave the house now without my very nice cane, and the added burden of having to step carefully. No more running up or climbing steep hills. No more wandering through the meadow at Longwood Gardens.

Then there are daily choices I didn’t anticipate. Instead of having a plan for each day, I do what I can and leave the rest. Sometimes it’s a relief; other times it feels like I’m losing part of myself in ways I never anticipated. Especially when I want to read or write or visit my blogging friends.

Letting go. I’ve almost always known that each day is about both life and death. Yet until now, I’ve thought of life as the major component of each day. Now, however, there isn’t a day that passes without reminders that death could come at any moment. Mine, or David’s.

For the last several months, I’ve been uncertain what to write about. Perhaps I was avoiding the obvious? Maybe. Still, I’m not sure where I’m going with this. I do, however, know that the community I’ve discovered on WordPress has given me great joy, a little grief, tons of affirmation, and a place to be myself.

Thank you for being there. I don’t know how things will work out, but I do know that I need to be writing about life as I experience it now. Not because it’s so great, but because it’s unspeakably precious.

Gratefully,
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 10 September 2022
Photo taken by DAFraser at Longwood Gardens, September 2021

Still without a flight plan

Coming out of a fog
Finding my feet and voice yet again
Feeling my way home

These words, and the poem below capture layers of unknown realities all the way from what was supposed to be a post-Trump era, to living in an aging body still full of surprises. Here’s the poem as first published in March 2020.

Without a Flight Plan

Disoriented
Suspended in space and time
Where are we going?

Calm and mindful
In a holding pattern
Waiting to land

Circling landmarks
Every twenty-four hours
Drones in the sky

Specks of dust
In an ocean of dismay
Looking for home

© Elouise Renich Fraser, March 2020
Published in Without A Flight Plan, 2021, p. 45

I’m just back from a short morning walk. The sun is out, the heat wave has subsided for now. Summer school is over, and the school playground is blissfully quiet. I see only a handful of others out for a walk with their dogs. I’m walking with myself.

Walking or sitting, I feel the weight of what we call ‘old age.’ I now understand that being old means not having a flight plan.

I’m a diehard maker of lists/flight plans. I like checking off my lists. Lately, however, the lists have become weights. The kind I carry around from one day to the next because I didn’t do all those things, thanks to unpredictable turns of event or the weather or how well I did or did not sleep last night.

Old age is not for sissies. Do I have a plan now for each day? No, I do not, with a few exceptions:

  • I will eat
  • I will sleep as needed
  • I will fill the birdseed feeders
  • I will make sure the birdies and Smudge have fresh, clean water
  • I will love D

Period, the end.

Well, except for one more thing. Copies of Without a Flight Plan are available at Amazon.com in various countries. I am also giving them away as requested and possible. However, if poetry isn’t your thing, I will not be offended. In fact, I will thank you for reading this far! Forgive me if I wander. I understand it’s allowed at this age.

Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 12 August 2022
Photo of snow geese near Mount Baker, Washington, USA, found at correre.org

Vitamin D, Crows, and Daylilies

I’m feeling my way through
our neighborhood one step
at a time though a misstep
could end in heartbreak

Released from four walls
I find strange solace as
nature surrounds me with
glory and the piercing cries
of crows being chased by
tiny sparrows protecting
their nests and their young

An uninvited insect lands
on my ring finger thinking
I might have something to
offer though it’s way past
breakfast time as midday
sunshine streams down on
my naked arms depositing
bits of vitamin D as ordered
by the doctor just yesterday

I find myself at loose ends these days. Doing what I can on my lists, and leaving the rest. All too soon, however, I’m starving for whatever I’ve decided to leave undone. Such as writing poetry.

For the last few weeks I’ve been walking outside in the morning as often as the weather permits. About a week ago I got my new light-weight walking cane, which makes things easier.

Invariably, I end up feeling teary (in a happy way) when I see towering trees, hear scores of birds singing, or pass a friendly walker or two. Yesterday, I even had the opportunity to stomp out a red lantern fly! And never a day passes without daylilies breaking out all over.

Surely some of this deserves to be written down and passed along. Especially in these troubled times.

Thanks for stopping by today.
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 18 July 2022
Photo of daylilies found at pixabay.com

The Ring of Truth

What is truth? The USA is lost in a post-truth society filled with anger, despair, and failure to thrive. Today it’s about the Supreme Court’s ruling on abortion. Who knows what might be next? Sadly, many of us haven’t even begun to tell our truths. Not just to ourselves, but to safe women and men willing to support us. Here’s what I posted nearly 4 years ago, lightly edited.

Today our national controversy is even greater than it was yesterday. For some it’s all about party politics and the next Supreme Court Justice. For others, it’s about the need to take seriously what Dr. Anita Hill and Dr. Christine Ford talked about–sexual abuse and harassment by men of power.

Right now, everyday women and their supporters are coming out of the woodwork. Galvanized. Ready to insist on truth no matter how much it may cost them personally.

If you’ve never written out your story, at least for yourself, I challenge you to do that now, not later. Not just what happened to you, but how it made you feel.

There’s power in the act of writing your story down. Making it visible. Word by word. Line upon line. As it comes out, unedited and raw. It doesn’t matter whether it’s poetry or prose. Just so it rings true to you. You don’t have to show it to anyone at all. Especially if they’re people you don’t trust.

I wept gallons working on what became some of my early posts. I also had a trusted professional who worked with me when my writing raised things I had to deal with. Sometimes they were about unfinished business. Other times they were about how to take care of myself. I highly recommend seeking trustworthy professional help. Especially when past experiences keep spilling over into the present.

So here are several titles without stories. Maybe they’ll get you thinking, or coming up with your own better titles for your story. They might even prompt you to begin a list of things you remember and wish you could forget.

The Ring of Truth
Against All Odds
Marked for Life
Strength in Weakness
This Woman’s Burden
Broken not Bent
No Prize for a Good Performance
I Dared Say No
At Great Cost
Free at Last
Daddy’s Little Girl
I Married a Predator
I Thought He Loved Me

Perhaps you don’t think this is all that important. Well….You’re important, and that’s more than enough all by itself.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 29 September 2018, lightly edited and reposted on 27 June 2022 following The Supreme Court’s ruling about abortion rights for women.
Image found at India.com

A Ramble for My Friends

The Vernon River, Savannah Georgia

Dear Friends,

I haven’t written much lately about my health, or what I’m doing these days. This post is about the big picture I now live with, especially aging and blogging.

As I see it, I’m turning a long, mostly slow corner. I call it acceptance. Not acceptance of any particular culprit, but a welcoming attitude about things that slow me down.

Physical challenges aren’t automatically my enemy. I’ve tried to ignore or fix them. It doesn’t always work. Instead, I’m learning to welcome some of them into my life, one day and one night at a time. Not for solution talk, but for acceptance rather than making my feet (for example) the enemy.

Of all that’s happened in my body the last ten years, top concerns are my kidneys, my heart, and my aching feet. Plus: whatever it takes to become a content and productive woman at this time in my life.

For the last several weeks I’ve been turning a corner. Suddenly I find myself ready to let go of many things I’ve collected over the years. Not just books and clothes I’ll never wear again, but files full of my academic and personal history. Not everything, mind you! Some of my documents remind me that I’ve had an unusual, difficult, and reasonably rewarding life as an academic in the classroom and as dean. I loved the challenge of working with women and men eager to learn and to teach.

And what about blogging? About a month ago I began working on a new poetry project. D gave me the idea, and at this point I’m all in. I’m doing it for our children and grandchildren. Basically, I’m making my way from my first published poem (2 January 2014), through other poems. Sometimes I let a poem stand alone; sometimes I include my comments. It reads as an informal family history–from my point of view.

In addition to this, I often pick out an older post someone visited and give it a good read. I’m stunned at how these almost-forgotten posts speak to me today. I’ve begun reposting some that have moved me to tears.

Then there’s always the fun stuff, like the post yesterday in ‘praise’ of Smudge! Plus occasional devotional pieces from my morning reading each day.

However….progress depends on how I feel from one day to the next. If I need a lazy day, I’m learning to grab it! Life is short, and I’m a latecomer to whatever it means to accept and honor myself as I was and still am.

Thanks so much for visiting, and reading this ramble!
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 9 June 2022
Photo of the Vernon River found at ogeecheeriverkeeper.org

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

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