Telling the Truth

connecting the dots of my life

Tag: Self-reflection

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

Gratitude and Weariness

Going nowhere fast
Drifting from one possibility
to the next
Weary with long lists of
thou shalt nots

I want to go back to bed
and listen yet again
to early bird dawn songs
full of life, energy and gratitude
for making it through another night
without marauders or being
captured by wind whipping trees,
sending shock waves through
this war-weary world

Though my body wants to move
I’m not sure where to take it
The phone is out of order and
I’m out of steam

I think I’ll go cook something up–
maybe a huge serving of music
plus madness on this sunny day
that fogs my eyesight with tears
of gratitude and weariness

How long can this world live in crisis mode? Together or apart, it doesn’t matter who I am or where you are. We’re part of a fabric woven with intent, now unraveling with shocks of truth. Will not the Judge of all the earth do right? In the meantime, I still want to go back to bed and listen to the birds’ dawn songs. Full of life, energy and gratitude.

Praying this finds you more together than apart, no matter where you live or who you voted for or against in the last election.

Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 29 April 2022
Photo found at countrygardener.co.uk

The Gardener | Mary Oliver

Mary Oliver’s poem has been getting under my skin (in a good way) for several months. This is for me, and for anyone out there addicted to being super-diligent about life. My comments follow.

The Gardener

Have I lived enough?
Have I loved enough?
Have I considered Right Action enough, have I
come to any conclusions?
Have I experienced happiness with sufficient gratitude?
Have I endured loneliness with grace?

I say this, or perhaps I’m just thinking it.
Actually, I probably think too much.

Then I step out into the garden,
where the gardener, who is said to be a simple man,
is tending his children, the roses.

Mary Oliver, A Thousand Mornings, p. 7
© 2012 by NW Orchard, LLC
First published by Penguin Press 2012

My mind and body are addicted to being super-reliable. Productive. Organized. Diligent. Prepared. These days, however, my body has rebelled. It loves to have its own agenda for each day. It really doesn’t matter what I think I ‘ought’ to do.

If I take Mary Oliver’s gardener (“a simple man”) seriously, I’ll tend the roses. Things like playing the piano, listening to music I love, reading what I want to read, staring out the window with no agenda except watching the birds engage in social antics and bravado around the birdfeeders. Or finding ways to be engaged without being overwhelmed.

This is NOT the way I was brought up. So now I’m learning to be my own wonderfully understanding parent, helping myself let go of things that stress body and spirit. Taking deep breaths. Listening to music from earth and heaven. Basking in the warmth of early spring. Taking on projects that bring me joy rather than trying to make things happen or go away.

A simple life? Not really, but today I can pretend. Or at least practice a bit. Maybe tomorrow I’ll get it.

Thanks for your visit!
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 25 April 2022
Photo found at pinterest.com

Unsorted revisited

I first posted this in July 2018. Now, nearly four years later, life has taken a turn that can’t be undone. I’m unsorted, off balance, uncertain. That and more have become daily companions. This post captures some of the most poignant moments in my life four years ago, a small window into what moves me even now. Thanks for visiting and reading.

Unsorted

The feeling I get
Standing before an audience
Knowing all I must do is
Read the words on the page
With grace and clarity

The feeling I got
Sitting in church yesterday
Listening to a young woman
Fill the air with a Brahms Intermezzo
Evoking unexpected grief

Friday’s open mic night was great. I read 5 short poems, saving my favorite two (of the five) for the end. So why did I feel unsorted, out of control and uncertain I was on solid ground? Because of the last two poems. Though different in tone, each was about aging.

One was Life flew south last winter; the second was Feeling pretty. I admire the way George MacDonald writes poems about being an ‘old soul.’ Sometimes I think I’ve been just that all my life.

I’m used to hearing people my age and older describe unexpected aches, pain and grief. Usually health issues, but also loss of friends and family members.

I’m not, however, accustomed to hearing older women and men describing in poetic form their feelings of living with loss and unexpected health issues. Perhaps I’m not looking in the right places.

At any rate, I find writing about this time in my life is comforting and rewarding. Especially when it’s in poetic form. Reading a few of my poems Friday evening was icing on the cake. A vulnerable, somewhat scripted way of sharing pieces of my life with a mixed audience of children, young people and adults.

Then, on Sunday morning the offertory was Brahms Intermezzo in A Major Opus 118. A young woman (Avery Gagliano) performed it on the piano, from her heart and memory. She’s a member of our church and studies at Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia.

I know this piece. I’ve played it many times, though not in the last few years. Her performance was magnificent, and I burst into sobs as others around me applauded. It wasn’t just the beauty of her playing. It was knowing that I’ll likely never again play the piano with that kind of freedom and confidence.

I’ve gained much in the last few years. Still, the losses sometimes undo me. Especially when they arrive unexpectedly in beautiful packages such as poems and music that evoke tears of grief and gratitude.

Happy Monday! I pray you’ll be surprised this week by gifts that undo you in a good way.
Elouise

©Elouise Renich Fraser, 16 July 2018, reposted on 15 April 2022
Photo found at dancearchives.net

Gaping Holes

With apologies to
Chinua Achebe—
So quickly
Thing fall apart

Not once
Or twice but
Like broken records
No one wants to hear

Past promises
And dreams teeter
On the brink of
Desolation

Hearts bleed daily
Racing from one scenario
To the next Big Thing
Basking in false glory

Only to fall apart
Helpless to recreate
What can never be
repaired

Nothing but truth
Can fill gaping holes
Born yesterday
Buried today

I highly recommend Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart. It’s a slow-paced examination of what happened to a community in Nigeria, Africa. It’s still happening today–the takeover of people and systems in order to assuage the insatiable hunger of those at the top.

Easter is also on my mind. Mary Oliver’s poem about The Donkey reminds me that choosing to follow the way of Jesus of Nazareth was and still is no picnic. Apart from the donkey, there weren’t many heroes in the crowds—whether they shouted Hosanna, took delight in seeing this man tortured and lynched, or ran away in fear.

If I were asked about today’s scenario in the USA and the nations of this world, I would admit to very little hope for the world as it is today. Except for this: Every day, somewhere, I know there are people doing what needs to be done. Not for themselves, but for others. It’s a sign that we haven’t been abandoned—if only we can keep our eyes on what’s close at hand. Without running away or giving up hope.

Thank you for your visits! My life has been a bit unsettled recently. I’ve missed posting as often as I would have liked. I have not, however, given up, thanks to the joy I have when I’m able to post something from my heart.

Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 13 April 2022
Photo of book cover found at en.wikipedia.org

Distractions

The fight begins
without apology or
convincing evidence
that we are getting
anywhere fast

Yesterday’s news
becomes today’s garbage
overflowing with fresh
litter spread across
my computer screen

The urge to stay ‘up to date’ tugs at me. So does the reality of life on the ground these days. I’m starving for safe conversations. The kind that used to happen regularly, decorating my days with sometimes giddy delight.

Today I’m grateful for telephone calls and emails with photos from family members and friends. I’m also grateful for neighbors I see at a short distance as we wave, smile, and pass each other in Covid-style ‘safety.’

Yet the birds take first prize! I love seeing them storm the bird-feeder, pair off, play hard to get, or soar across the sky in noisy flocks of starlings or crows. (Granted, the lovely albatross pair above did not visit my back yard!)

Bottom line: My kitchen window, and my own neighborhood offer much more ‘up to date’ news than most of what passes for ‘news’ these days. Yes, I’m besotted with Spring.

Still, I’m not unaware of horror and sorrows heaving like waves or burning like wildfires wherever we look. I think I’m learning to become a survivor in a world going missing in action.

Praying you’ll find joy right where you are this day, despite the noise of computers, radios, TVs and your own worst fears.
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 9 April 2022
Photo of albatross mating ritual found at audobon.com

Unrehearsed

Downstairs
the piano is being tuned
one key at a time

In my heart
one string after another
slips a bit

Who am I now?
Who am I becoming?
Silence reigns

What was
is no longer
the end

What was not
has come to life
at the end

How unscripted
and disjointed
it all feels

Yet the beginning
and the end meet,
Unrehearsed

Rarely in my adult life have I felt so out of control. So uncertain about today, tomorrow, and even yesterday. We see so much, and know or understand so little.

At the same time, though, pieces I never before understood suddenly punch me in the gut. Yes, there is a logic. But not the logic of my childhood.

Life if a gift. Often beautiful and filled with joy, though not without pain and uncertainty. Not simply because of our mega-earth crisis, but because of personal ‘stuff’ that gets in the way.

Still, I look outside my kitchen window every morning. Nothing has been rehearsed, and nothing has been promised. Yet the birds keep visiting the feeders, the trees dance in breezes or lash around in torrential storms, and the sun comes up whether I see it or not.

It’s an honor to be human. Nonetheless, sometimes I would love to trade places with a small Carolina Wren, a large Red-breasted Woodpecker, or Smudge sitting at the kitchen window watching the morning feeding frenzy.

Cheers from me to you on this chilly, windy, early April morning.
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 4 April 2022
Photo taken by erf, September 2020

sorrow and love

When I was very young
my heart learned early
the feeling of being trapped
with no safe alternatives

I believed a lifetime of
blessed freedom was
just around the corner—
the ‘real’ life I for which
I longed and dreamed
every day and night
of my restless childhood

My time would come and
I would emerge from my
imaginary butterfly chrysalis
fluttering away on clouds
of imaginary bliss and freedom
far from my father

The older I get, the more I understand the dynamics of our small family of four daughters. Especially the mammoth workload my mother carried.

When she was 5, my mother was abandoned by her own mother. When she was 28 and I was 5, polio took over her body, including her ability to swallow safely or speak clearly. Then there was my father, whose childhood and youth were littered with brutal beatings from his own father.

Back in the 1940s and 50s I didn’t appreciate how much our mother did to keep us alive. Not because she stood in for our father, but because she cared deeply for her daughters. Each of us. No matter how we rated on Daddy’s Rules for Good Girls, and though she had never experienced safe love from her own mother.

I used to think I would get beyond the grief of our family. But here’s the deal: no pain, no gain; and, surprisingly, no true sorrow without growing love.

This week has been long and sometimes difficult. Not just here, but around the world. The numbers of families being torn apart have skyrocketed. Am I ready for whatever comes next? Somehow all this has prompted me to revisit my relationship with my mother.

My mother, in spite of her disabilities and her own sad family background, helped keep my spirit alive. She died when she was almost 78 years old. Though her body was worn out, some of her spirit still lives in me. Especially now.

Thanks for stopping by.
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 26 March 2022
Photo found at wikimedia.com

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