Telling the Truth

connecting the dots of my life

Tag: Self-reflection

Lost in an internal maze

Brilliant winter sun-rays
Filter through frigid air
Endangering darkroom eyes
Unaccustomed to light

Blinking he looks away
Unwilling to sacrifice
Hazy unclear sight for clarity
Or the fine details of truth

Better the sweet comfort
Of blurred lines mixing
Facts with fiction or
Reducing them to nothing

Stumbling blindly
From pillar to post
He makes his lonely way
Lost in an internal maze

I didn’t set out to write about Mr. Trump, yet it seems I have. So now I’m sitting here wondering what’s going on in me. Have I given up on his presidency? Disengaged myself from caring anymore?

That might happen if I believed that whatever he does, I will likely weather the storm. Yet I don’t believe that. His actions put us and others at risk every day.

More likely, I wrote this because I lack visible power over what’s happening in Washington. I voted. Now it seems there’s no more I can do to make a visible difference.

Nor can I say I hope for something better from Mr. Trump. I don’t. I’m an aging citizen, with limited time and energy. I want to know how to make my voice and my concerns heard.

Though I could perhaps feel sorry for Mr. Trump, that isn’t an option. He has openly chosen his way of doing business, and is following it regardless of intended or unintended outcomes for our nation or our allies.

What now? If I remember right, Jesus rebuked those who paraded their supposed righteousness before everyone’s eyes. Instead, he recognized with gratitude and admiration the widow who, almost unnoticed, gave from her heart the bit she had.

I want to find my bit, and offer it from my heart. Not to Mr. Trump, but to this world God already loves — the same world I’m learning to love in spite of our differences and blurred visions of reality.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 21 January 2019
Photo found at freepik.com

Making music from my heart

Last November I gave myself a 75th birthday gift – a piano coach! So here’s an update on my progress so far.

  1. I’m totally motivated to play the piano, though not the way I used to play it.
  2. Though I haven’t yet met with my new piano coach, I’ll soon begin working with him once a month.
  3. I’ve gone through most of my piano collections, have chosen five for starters, and am already practicing regularly from them.
  4. I’ve also been reading The Art of Practicing: A Guide to Making Music from the Heart, by Madeline Bruser. It’s phenomenal. Just what I need right now.
  5. Not surprisingly, my attitude toward life in general is changing, too. More from the heart, less from my to-do lists.
  6. My happiness/contentment quotient is on the rise.

Below are the five collections I chose for starters. I first worked with them in the 1950s when Mrs. Hanks was my piano teacher.

  • J.S. Bach: Two-Part Inventions, and The Well-Tempered Clavichord (Book 1)
  • Frederic Chopin: Preludes for the Piano (Book IX)
  • Felix Mendelssohn: Songs Without Words
  • Pianorama of the World’s Favorite Dances, compiled & arranged by Denes Agay for Piano

Here are three things I’m working on from The Art of Practicing.

  1. Mistakes (when playing the piano) are part of life. They aren’t the end of the world. Get used to them, and get comfortable with other people hearing you make them. I don’t like this, but I’m learning to live with it.
  2. Speed and agility will (or will not) come in time as my fingers are (or are not) ready. Forcing things, or assuming I can do now what I did 60 years ago) only makes things worse. As I already know. Sigh.
  3. Don’t get in a tizzy about speed and dynamics. Slow down. Ignore dynamics for now. Do what you can from your heart. Love the sound of each note and listen for the music within, not for what seems to be on the page in front of you. Trust your fingers to let you know when they’re ready. Magical!

Finally, I’m learning to accept the hands and flexibility I have now. This means some music I used to play is beyond me. No amount of forcing my fingers will guarantee the return of my youthful fingers. On the other hand, I just might be surprised down the road if I’m willing to take it slowly, without super-expectations.

Thanks for visiting, and Happy Wednesday to each of you!

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 16 January 2019
Image found at pinterest.com

My mother’s body

Time
and again
This is my body
broken

My mother’s body
haunts me
A living reminder

I stare through windows
wondering
how we traveled
so lonely
for so long

Misplaced
inadvertent flowers
bloom
without rhyme or reason
out of season
now out of time

Looking
into a mirror
I catch her
watching me
wondering

Lost birds
flutter on the ground
unable to spread
their wings and soar
together

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 12 January 2019
Painting by Natalya Zaytseva; found at ssatchairt.com

the sound of nothing

Blush-pink morning clouds
Paint the sky peachy sherbet
Fresh from last night’s raucous rain
Now gathered in mud puddles

Outside my bedroom window
Venus shines in the east
Birds soar through chilled air
Graceful trees sway to and fro
Freed by the sound of nothing

This morning’s quiet was welcome, especially given the bluster and chest-thumping offered up daily by our news feeds. Huge plates overflow with hand-wringing, fact-checking, posturing and dissecting served up fresh, minute by minute. Starvation diet. That’s what it feels like. Even the best scenarios aren’t enough to sustain us.

Nature isn’t God. Nor is Nature a meek little lamb. Nonetheless, when seen through eyes of faith, Nature becomes a vast, open, accessible tutor about life.

My daily challenge is to stop, look and listen. Though the music isn’t always beautiful, it always points to truth. A welcome respite from today’s clamorous voices, and a reminder that we are all finite. This current state of affairs will not last forever.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 9 January 2019
Photo of Venus at dawn found at flickr.com, taken by Joseph Brimacombe

color me fragile

color me fragile
transparent windows open
to waves of music
floating through winter’s cold nights
from stars and planets waiting
to welcome me home

I think often of death these days. Not as something to fear, but as a reminder that today’s music won’t wait for tomorrow. It’s here. Now. Waiting to be experienced, honored, held close. A reminder of the good that has come my way and the good people who still sing to me when I feel lonely, scared or overwhelmed. Many now wait to welcome me home.

Morose? No. It’s food for my soul. A warm fuzzy blanket to wrap around me when I begin to falter. It’s the reason I greet each day with expectancy and hope mixed with sadness. Life sometimes feels heavy to bear. Then those reminders come floating in. A gift, if not proof, that I’ve had and have a life beyond the life I see and remember.

Praying your day is filled with graceful music from unexpected sources.

Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 5 January 2019
Image found at wallpaperup.com

Year’s end approaches

This morning I woke
Floating again within
A calmer space
Less fraught with angst
Or anguish of life

Cars splash to and fro
Outside my office window
Hurrying somewhere
Or reluctantly ambivalent
All roads aren’t chosen

Year’s end approaches
Almost without notice
Holding layer upon layer
Of unsavored moments
And gaping disasters

Yet my heart is calm
The flow of life and death
Invites steadiness
In the space between now
And coming joys and sorrows

©Elouise Renich Fraser, 28 December 2018
Photo found at 123RF.com

Listening to the sound of my soul

Listening to the sound of my soul
I reach for the sky and deep into earth
Stretching strings and finding notes
I never thought I would hear or play
No overnight miracles promised
Just the overwhelming satisfaction
Of moving a fraction of an inch
Closer to the woman I now am
And the young girl I longed to be

Years pile on one after another
I pause for a slow deep breath –
Raising my head and sinking my feet
Down into the ground beneath me
I reach up and out one more time for
Improbable dreams already dancing
Within my soul by heart and on pages
Of this body of graceful ligaments
Listening for the sound of my soul

With thanks to Eugene Louis (Luigi) Faccuito for this quote: “To dance, put your hand on your heart and listen to the sound of your soul.” Luigi had a long career as a dancer, choreographer and dance teacher. Most of it against great odds, due to physical challenges and limitations.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 19 December 2018

through fading light

She drifts through fading light
Heavy with good old days
And nights of celestial fare
When aging memories signified
Faded minds and shrinking lives
Cemented in the here and now
Reliving ghosts of yesterdays
Remnants of fruit gone sweetly sour
With age and bitter longing

Written on the airplane after reading yet again Emily Dickinson’s poem “These are the days….”

My poem is a comment on aging and the conceit of the young. I’m thinking of the way my own young eyeballs used to roll in their sockets when the “old” folks got going. Relentlessly they recalled and relived their happiest, most longed-for yesterdays. How silly! Don’t they know the past is gone? And then there are all those not-so-longed-for yesterdays.

To my mind these aging relics were out of touch. Couldn’t they see the relentless coming and going of life’s seasons? Yet even then I was already collecting and hoarding my own memories. Preparing for days when I, like all those old folks, revisit the glories and not-so-glorious memories of yesterday that hover just beyond my grasp.

We can’t relive the past, We can, however, go back the way a short Indian summer takes us back to a bit of warmth and beauty before cold winter sets in. We can take that brief, spectacular look into the rear-view mirror of our lives and connect with ourselves yet again. This time with eyes more forgiving and content than we ever dreamed possible.

This week we’re on the West Coast, visiting our daughter and her husband. Being with them reminds me again that life is short and precious. I pray for you and for all of us the courage to stop and look back from time to time.

Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 4 December 2018

Packing the easy way

Dear Friends,

No, I haven’t disappeared from the universe. I’m just deep into packing for a trip to visit our daughter and her husband. Sherry took the photo above. The magnolia came from a tree in their yard.

Here’s my old normal way of getting ready for a trip:

  • Update my trip checklist so I don’t get all frazzled
  • Start panicking about getting everything done before we leave
  • Keep doing whatever I normally do
  • Reassure myself that the checklist is really half the work
  • Stay up most of the night before the trip — frazzled
  • Sleep several hours and then get up in panic mode
  • Stuff the last thing in at the last moment
  • Holler for D to sit on the suitcase and help get it closed
  • Leave the house frantic about what I might have forgotten to do or pack

No, I am not one of those frequent travelers who always has a small, compact carry-on and a plan for minimal packing. There are reasons, of course, for my lack of this gift, but I won’t bore you with the details.

So my new normal (assuming I have other opportunities for travel) kicked in the day after my birthday. So far, so good, even though it’s taking a lot of discipline to stay away from my computer and you!

The upside is that I’m not yet freaking out, and might even make it to the front door with time to spare.

I’m taking my laptop (of course!), and won’t make any promises about posting while we’re away. However, photos might be fun to put up. So we’ll see what happens.

Thanksgiving was bitter-sweet for us. We had dinner with our son, daughter-in-law, granddaughters and grandson. Plus their two big dogs and two small cats. They’re planning to move in the coming year. Not sure when, but it was our last Thanksgiving dinner in the old house they moved into shortly after the girls were born.

Thank you for your many good wishes and notes about my birthday. We had a quiet day at home. Neither of us is what you’d call a party animal. Instead, we love quiet days at home, which this time included playing the piano and going for a walk. Plus reading pertinent and impertinent birthday cards. Actually, more than one of them gave me happy tears.

Cheers!
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 27 November 2018
Photo taken by Sherry Fraser Seckington, June 2015

A Birthday Gift to Myself

Dear Friends,

Yesterday I turned 75. No fanfare. Just a quiet day at home enjoying my retirement family: D, Smudge and Marie. Plus telephone conversations with our two children. And a walk outside with D in cold, windy weather.

At this age there aren’t many things I want for myself. Nonetheless, during a conversation with a friend earlier this week I identified something I’ve wanted all my life.

When I was 15 years old Mrs. Hanks, my piano teacher from when I was 9, asked about my plans after high school graduation.

‘I’m thinking about going to Bible college.’

‘Have you ever thought about going to a music conservatory and majoring in piano?’

Fear gripped my heart. I would love to do this! Yet I had no confidence in myself beyond what I’d already done, and no vision for what this might mean for me.

Mrs. Hanks said she had a friend teaching in the best music program in the state of Georgia. In fact, she’d already spoken with her, and this woman would be delighted to meet me and talk with me about scholarship possibilities.

When I told my parents about this, my father said he thought I would be better ready for life if I enrolled in a Bible college in South Carolina. Some of my friends had already studied there, and he was certain I would get a good education there.

I felt torn between fear and excitement about the unknown, and my desperate need not to fail. I also knew I would make it at the Bible college. So I chose the Bible college.

Many times I’ve looked back at that decision and wondered what might have been. Music has always been where my heart feels most at home.

Thankfully, beginning with the Bible college, music has always been part of my life. Sometimes for pay; sometimes as a volunteer. Even when I was a professor and dean at the seminary, music informed everything I did. It made its way into my thought processes, the way I said or wrote things, my imagination about this world, and about this huge universe presided over by the Greatest Musician of All.

Now I’m 75. My fingers and reflexes aren’t what they used to be. Even so, I long to recover some of the freedom I used to have at the keyboard.

Even more important, my mother wanted me to become a musician. Not a famous musician, but the musician she already heard in me at age 5 when she began teaching me to play the piano.

So a few days ago I contacted a musician friend and asked her to recommend a piano coach for me. Someone who can help me, at this age, to regain some of what the years have taken. My happy birthday gift to myself. And maybe for my mother.

Right now I’m a 75-year old kid who can’t wait to open a present I’ve wanted for too many years!

Thanks for listening,
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 21 November 2018
Photo found at birthdaycakeformom.com

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