Telling the Truth

connecting the dots of my life

Tag: the human condition

Music, Butterflies and My Heart

Rising and falling
Drifting on beats of my heart
Music transports me
Flirts with moments of past lives
Not captured in retrospect

I’m reminded of butterflies. Ephemeral, delicate, not prone to being examined up close and personal, here today and gone tomorrow.

This week my heart felt like a butterfly. Sometimes happily drifting along. Other times on guard and likely to disappear into the sunset if I ignored it.

I’m still coming to terms with chronic heart challenges. Plus the reality that no matter what I do, I’m in my end game.

This week I began reading Carol A. Miele’s book, Metatastic Madness: How I Coped with a Stage 4 Cancer Diagnosis. Ironically, Miele, a nurse, worked for years with women with this diagnosis. Now she finds herself on the other side of the picture, at Stage 4 without having had a prior breast cancer diagnosis.

During the years she lives with Stage 4 breast cancer, Miele experiences five phases:

  • Phase One: Shock and Awe
  • Phase Two: Betrayal and Despair
  • Phase Three: Loneliness and Loathing
  • Phase Four: Complying and Compensating
  • Phase Five: Adapting and Advocating

I don’t have Miele’s disease. I have mine. Nonetheless, her discussion of Phase One brought me up short, beginning with this:

If you can’t get past the fear or anger in the earliest phase, you may not be able to manage your illness or its accompanying issues very effectively. (p. 13)

In her description of Phase One, Miele describes people and other support systems she set up so she wouldn’t get isolated and stuck in her emotions or in the demanding realities of life with Stage Four breast cancer.

Happily, I’ve done some things she describes. Yet there’s more to do to before I’m ready for whatever comes next. I don’t want to be stuck in Phase One.

Thanks for listening.
Elouise

©Elouise Renich Fraser, 23 March 2019
Image found on YouTube

Land of the Brave?

My erratic heartbeats
Find calm in the sound of
Music drifting through
Air spun with gossamer webs
Transporting me through
What I experience daily
Of this life threatening to
Undo us from the inside out
Unraveling threads of truth
And justice for each and all

Waking with a start
My heart searches for
Courage and bravery to
Speak even one word against
Forces paying to play the
Game of hide and seek –
Cowards banging on the
Heart of our so-called union
And commitment to justice
For every human being

What does bravery look like
During national upheaval and
Underground warfare against
Humanity if not the constant
Repetition of what we see
Through the windows of hearts
Made brave the hard way beginning
The instant we were born into
This world of deceitful revenge
And false prophets of nirvana

Mary Tyler Moore’s well-known statement comes to mind:

“You can’t be brave if you’ve had only wonderful things happen to you.”

Perhaps this is true of each of us, no matter the circumstances of our early lives. At the same time, bravery now isn’t necessarily the same as bravery then. As a child and teenager I was brave and uncomplaining in order to stay out of trouble. Especially when someone was watching, measuring me by my father’s Rules for Good Girls.

Today, bravery is called for even when no one seems to be looking. It isn’t about staying out of trouble. It’s about being honest, no matter the consequences.

Easier said than done. For me, posting what I write is the bottom line. If I’m willing to write about it, am I willing to post it? Without turning it into harmless childhood mush? My childhood still shapes me. It doesn’t, however, control me. I  still have a lot to learn about telling the truth as I see it. Especially in today’s atmosphere.

Thanks for listening!

Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 20 March 2019
Cat image found at bookstr.com

Restless in not-yet Paradise

Feeling happily lost
Looking at this blank page
Wondering what dreams
Will reach out from
Dusty recesses of my mind
Looking for light and
Compassion or even joy
Waiting for a blind date
That turns into
The most wonderful time
In this life of daily duties
And long lists of to-dos

Will I live well?
Will I die well?
To what end is this dance?
And why does this waltz
Feel long and drawn out
As it creeps toward the final
Turn on this dance floor
Surrounded by lovely bouquets
Of flowers and smiles and hugs
From people I barely know?

The meanderings of a mind
Restless in not-yet Paradise
Loving almost every minute of it

Getting practical, here are my goals just for today:

  1. Smile at myself every time I look in the mirror.
  2. Sleep. Rest. Take it Easy as often as desired.
  3. Follow my heart to the computer keyboard even if I don’t know what, if anything, will happen next.
  4. Follow my heart to the piano when I feel the urge.
  5. Sweet-talk Smudge regularly; sweet-talk D from time to time and smile at him a lot.

Happy Monday!
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 18 March 2019
Image found at PBS.org

This deadly pretense

Can’t we all kiss and make up?

Or how about just getting along
I’ll let you be you and
You’ll let me be me

Is there really no hate spoken here?

If not how then will we learn
To hate what must be hated?
Or love what must be loved?

I used to think some glad day
We would all grow up
And leave our troubles behind

You know – letting bygones
Be bygones even though
They still hide in closets, or don’t

My world of yesterday was
Ordered and predictable
Until I grew up and knew better

Some say no news is good news
I say we could all do with bad news
Rather than this deadly pretense

It’s difficult to find my way in our increasingly fractured world. Sometimes I feel weighed down beneath layers of deceit, corruption and pretense. I want to play the blame game, making this mess into someone else’s responsibility.

Now we’re beginning yet another election cycle with slogans and promises aplenty. Vision is important. Still, I’m not impressed by versions of progress or greatness that ignore bad news. Not ‘their’ bad news, but our bad news.

The next national election is about more than political parties or who will be the next POTUS. It’s about our hearts, and whether we’re willing to take on harsh realities that won’t disappear on their own. We don’t need a huge army. We need one person, one attitude, one act, one crazy prayer or dream piled up one after another.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 17 March 2019
Photo of book cover found at amazon.com

The Writing Life

One by one
Words spill out

One drop
At a time….
Or torrents
Of unexpected
Clarity

The beginning and the end
Of a fear-filled Heart
Mind Soul and Body
Delivered from silence
Word upon word falling
Onto the page and
Into the air

Free speech –
Visible and available
Against all odds
At great cost

I used to think writing about my life would be the end of fear. If not immediately, then over time as life moved on and I became ready and willing to write the next chapters.

I also thought I would learn to write freely, with ease and grace. Without angst or internal drama trying to redirect what wants to be direct. Without fear of consequences or kickback.

After all, there’s always this tempting possibility: Just change that small word. Or better yet, omit it. They’ll never know, and you’ll still be ‘telling the truth.’

And protecting myself from what?

There are a million ways to cover over truth—including how difficult it is to write truthfully, especially about myself. Some days content flows easily onto the page. I wake up knowing the first line or theme. Or I review yesterday evening’s journal entry and discover I’ve already pointed in a clear direction. No problem! Just pick up the pen and scribble away.

And then there are other days. Hence the poem above.

Happy Wednesday and Happy Writing!
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 13 March 2019
Impressionist Painting of a Woman Writing, 1892, found at therumpus.net

How loud the storm sounds | Emily Brontë

For weeks, this short poem by Emily Brontë has haunted me. With a small handful of simple words Emily evokes feelings of grief and shock that come from unexpected death. My comments follow.

How loud the storm sounds round the Hall!
From arch to arch from door to door
Pillar and roof and granite wall
Rock like a cradle in its roar

That Elm tree by the haunted well
Greets no returning summer skies
Down with a rush the giant fell
And stretched athwart the path it lies

Hardly had passed the funeral train
So long delayed by wind and snow
And how they’ll reach the house again
Tomorrow’s dawn perhaps will show

From selected poems of Emily Brontë
Published in Everyman’s Library by Alfred A. Knopf, 1996

Perhaps it seems strange to talk about unexpected death, especially during a powerful storm that shakes foundations and roars as it gathers speed.

Yet of all the things that might have fallen, it was “That Elm tree by the haunted well.” A giant. A fixture in the landscape.

In addition, it fell across not just any path, but the path between house and Hall. That would be the Brontë house (church parsonage), and the church Hall where father Brontë served as a parson.

The house stands at the opposite end of a path leading to the church Hall. Besides getting to the church for services, it was also the pathway down which deceased members of the Brontë family were carried to be laid to rest in the family vault.

Emily refers to a funeral, already delayed by wind and snow. It’s finally taking place in the church Hall. Whose funeral? Emily doesn’t say.

Suddenly a furious storm erupts, and “That Elm tree by the haunted well” comes crashing down across the path. It seems the only solution is to stay in the church Hall until tomorrow. Perhaps by then we’ll be able to find a way back to the house.

So what does this poem suggest? Perhaps the giant Elm’s sudden death refers to a person whose life touches everyone. This could be a family member, such as Emily’s mother, or one of Emily’s siblings. We might also ask whether it’s possible to return the house as it was.

The poem describes the way we often experience death. It leaves us feeling lost and uncertain. Without a compass, or a clear map for how we’ll proceed from here.

The poem also invites us to consider each day precious. The end often comes without warning. Especially to those we most love and depend upon. Or to ourselves.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 12 March 2019
Photo found at pinterest.com 

Sometimes my voice falters

Sometimes my voice falters
Falling ten stories down
Into a desert of silence

My rattled soul teeters
On the edge of despair
Searching for a small grain
I might rightly call my own
Though nothing was ever
Mine to begin with

Still….
In the hot wind
Of my empty mind
I hear my heart
Beating
Yearning for yesterday

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 11 March 2019
Photo of desert drought landscape found at pixabay.com

Woman Work | Maya Angelou

In honor of women everywhere who, against all odds, hold life together one day at a time. In this poem, Maya Angelou speaks for women everywhere – country, town, city, suburbs. My brief comments follow.

I’ve got the children to tend
The clothes to mend
The floor to mop
The food to shop
Then the chicken to fry
The baby to dry
I got company to feed
The garden to weed
I’ve got the shirts to press
The tots to dress
The cane to be cut
I gotta clean up this hut
Then see about the sick
And the cotton to pick.

Shine on me, sunshine
Rain on me, rain
Fall softly, dewdrops
And cool my brow again.

Storm, blow me from here
With your fiercest wind
Let me float across the sky
Till I can rest again.

Fall gently, snowflakes
Cover me with white
Cold icy kisses and
Let me rest tonight.
Sun, rain, curving sky

Mountain, oceans, leaf and stone
Star shine, moon glow
Your’re all that I can call my own.

I’ve got to open the shop
Harvest the crop
Clean out the pool
Visit the jail
Get to the school
Teach all the classes
Pick up the mail
Raise food for the masses
I’ve got children to tend
The clothes to mend
I got to
I got to
I got to

Maya Angelou, in Poetry for Young People, p. 19
Published by Sterling Children’s Books in 2013

I resonate with Maya Angelou’s emphasis on the role of nature. Not simply as the truly beautiful and awe-inspiring reality it is, but as solace. A power that takes us out of ourselves. Or better, helps us find our true selves. Not as any human being, but as the one-of-a-kind person each of us was created to be.

True, nature sometimes wreaks horrific havoc. Yet not even Angelou’s “fiercest wind” meets the standard for tornado or tsunami status. Rather, she sees changes of weather as invitations to reconnect with nature. Not to slack off, but to rest in the only thing she can “call my own.”

Finally, did you notice how the poem loops back to the top near the very end?

If you’d like to know more about how we’ve failed worldwide to account for women’s unpaid work, check out this June 2018 article.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 8 March 2019
Photo found at newsdeeply.com in an article on women’s unpaid work

unmapped adventure

Restless uncertainties clamor
Living reminders of death
And the loneliness of aging
I stare out the window
Looking for a sign, a thought
That points the way ahead
Through shapeless days
Living within boundaries shifting
From one day to the next

Thou shalt not taunts me
Thou shalt snaps at my heels
Dares me to veer from this
Strange path to everything
And to nothing at all—
Dreams wander without clear
Themes or destinations
Days come and go
Like all the others

One day up
The next day down
The cup is full
The cup is empty
The magic recipe eludes me
Leaving nothing
But the raw gift of life—
Becoming myself
In this unmapped adventure

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 7 March 2019
Image found at pinterest.com

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