I mentioned that I had a couple of job interviews last week. I ended up getting both jobs! One, being a sub for the local HS, I only got to do for two days! Because the other job will be as a long term music sub (K-8 general and vocal) for the rest of the school year.
I went Monday to the two elementary schools where I will be teaching to sign some papers, to see the buildings, and to meet some of the faculty/staff. One of the schools is several miles away from the interstate on a country road. From the outside, one can see the school was built onto an old brick one-room schoolhouse building. Outside the front door, a bit off to the side, is a huge ancient oak tree. I stopped to take in its strength and silhouette. I thought of all the students that tree has presided over — all of their comings and goings, all the days of learning and playing. I felt a sense of “place,” of being rooted, and at that moment I was assured that once again, I will be where I belong, where I need to be right now in my life.
At the end of the young girls’ choir rehearsal I accompany on Tuesday evenings, the girls were given a few minutes of free time because they had worked so hard to learn the new music. The girls began playing “The Voice” and self selecting into groups of judges, performers, score keepers, and one girl who sat off to the side watching. It was so fun to watch them disappear into their imaginary world of play! I enjoyed seeing them choose their roles, some switching roles several times, and that one girls who felt most comfortable sitting to the side watching the whole thing (with a shy smile on her face — I don’t think she was unhappy or upset — she just wanted to watch instead of be involved.)
Some girls were natural and instant leaders.
Some struggled to decide where they fit in.
Some felt comfortable in supporting roles.
Some tried several different approaches.
Some needed to have a friend by their side.
Some stood in the spotlight and sang, pouring out their heart and soul.
Some kept track of what everyone else was doing and tried to impose order on the chaos.
One watched with a shy smile.
I thought about how this “play” the girls created relates to grown-up lives. Hmmmmmm —-
I was subbing at the HS again on Wednesday. I think my favorite moments are when I have conversations either with an individual student or a group of students that gets “real.” I catch a glimpse of the “real” person behind their public persona, and/or they catch a glimpse of my “real” self. I try to be genuine in all situations, but being a sub is a pretty artificial scenario so it often takes a bit of convincing and ice-breaking until any sort of tentative temporary relationship can be established. I’m thankful when that happens. Those moments are why I continue to “aspire to inspire!”
Today I spent the day getting acquainted with the music teacher for whom I will be long-term subbing. I met most of the students at one of the elementary school where I will be teaching. The most common question I was asked by the students was, “Can you play the piano?” 🙂 Happily, my answer was an emphatic — “YES!” It was a good day, and I’m looking forward to the joys and challenges of the weeks ahead.
At lunch (new music long term sub job school) — a student was recognized by one of the teachers with a good-bye cake. She called the student up, and told everyone in the cafeteria that this would be his last day at their school. On Monday, he would start school at ta new school. She had a large sheet cake so that everyone could have a piece of cake to celebrate this student’s time at the school with them. Everyone applauded and cheered. He had the HUGEST smile on his face. He was absolutely BEAMING. (p.s. The young man has Down Syndrome).
The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster,
Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.
Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.
image by NichoDesign via Flickr CC
image by nichodesign via Flickr CC
image by ThruMikesViewFinder via Flickr CC
image by lexie.longstreet via Flickr CC
image by GenBug via Flickr CC
image by NichoDesign via Flickr CC
I lost my mother’s watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.
I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.
– Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan’t have lied. It’s evident
the art of losing’s not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.
One Art, by Elizabeth Bishop. She worked on this poem for 15 years!!!
This fact boggles my mind.
The words and message of this poem speak to me. I assume this is because I got a lot of practice in the “art of losing” last year.
I can’t decide if Elizabeth is urging us to hold loosely onto the things of this worlds (keys, watches, houses, cities) — to hold onto only the things that matter, though sometimes we lose those things, too. Or if she is trying to convince herself that losing all these things, including the things she loves most, is no big deal. Is she saying, “We enter this world alone and leave it alone?”
I prefer the view I’ve spoken about before: It hurts because it matters. Saying goodbye to things you love is painful, but taking the risk of loving is worth the chance of being hurt. I’d rather have things/people who break my heart to leave behind/say goodbye to/lose than to feel alone in the world, unattached and unloved.
A few more thoughts: I enjoy the rhymes she makes with disaster. Faster. Vaster. Gesture. Fluster. The repetition of the word disaster adds interesting structure and emphasis. Each stanza has three lines, except the last which has four. Hmmmm. Not sure what that means, but if she worked on this for 15 years, she must have had some intention behind it? Don’t you think?
I’ve gathered a few more of Elizabeth Bishop’s poems. I’ll share them in future posts.
from Writer’s Almanac Feb 8 2014:
Poet Elizabeth Bishop, was born in Worcester, Massachusetts (2-8-1911). Her father died when she was a little girl. Her mother had an emotional breakdown from grief and spent the rest of her life in various mental institutions. Elizabeth spent most of her childhood moving back and forth between her grandparents in Nova Scotia and her father’s family in Massachusetts.
She was an extremely slow writer and published only 101 poems in her lifetime. She worked on her poem “One Art” for more than 15 years, keeping it tacked up on her wall so that she could rearrange the lines again and again until she got it right. But she was an obsessive letter writer. She once wrote 40 letters in a single day. She said, “I sometimes wish that I had nothing, or little more, to do but write letters to the people who are not here.” A collection of her letters, One Art: The Letters of Elizabeth Bishop, was published in 1994.
In out-of-the-way places of the heart,
Where your thoughts never think to wander,
This beginning has been quietly forming,
Waiting until you were ready to emerge.
For a long time it has watched your desire,
Feeling the emptiness growing inside you,
Noticing how you willed yourself on,
Still unable to leave what you had outgrown.
It watched you play with the seduction of safety
And the gray promises that sameness whispered, Heard the waves of turmoil rise and relent,
Wondered would you always live like this.
Then the delight, when your courage kindled,
And out you stepped onto new ground,
Your eyes young again with energy and dream,
A path of plenitude opening before you.
Though your destination is not yet clear
You can trust the promise of this opening;
Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning
That is at one with your life’s desire.
Awaken your spirit to adventure;
“Sorrow prepares you for joy.
It violently sweeps everything out of your house, so that new joy can find space to enter. It shakes the yellow leaves from the bough of your heart, so that fresh, green leaves can grow in their place.
Image by Will Law, Blooming Hill roots, via Flickr CC
It pulls up the rotten roots, so that new roots hidden beneath have room to grow. Whatever sorrow shakes from your heart, far better things will take their place.”
This Rumi quote has been in my draft posts for quite a while. I believe I found the quote through Soul Gatherings, and I saved it thinking I might have something profound to say about it eventually. I chose a few photographs to enhance the imagery and in the process my thoughts got a kick-start.
I do read more (and different meanings) into this quote now than I did last summer, though. The anniversary of my dad’s death is quickly approaching (Feb. 4). It will be two years since he died, and I find I still have a lot of baggage to sort through emotionally and spiritually.
Also, most of you know I’ve been adjusting to (and grieving for what was left behind, really) all the changes this last year brought. I left a home and community of loving, creative, supportive friends after 17 years (and also left our 18-year-old son there to finish his senior year of HS). I’m still very much up and down in how I’m feeling about and dealing with all of these issues from day-to-day, even now.
This Rumi quote has, at times, made me angry as I browsed past it in my drafts. “Sorrow prepares you for joy? Yeah, right. I’d rather avoid the sorrow part, thank you very much.” I didn’t/don’t want things or people swept violently out of my life then or now — the sorrow is still very present some days.
But then the older and wiser me chimes in. Yes, I realize sorrow is indeed an integral and unavoidable part of life. Change happens. For better or worse: It happens to us all.
I continue to have Faith and Hope.
I always believe that I’m going to slog through it,
that I will find equilibrium again,
that the fog will eventually lift.
Oh, I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain. I’ve seen sunny days that I thought would never end. I’ve seen lonely times when I could not find a friend.*
I’ve watched nature programs enough to know that after devastating, ravaging forest fires come meadows of lush new grass and rich swaths of wildflowers.
Weeping may last through the night, but Joy comes in the morning. (Ps. 30:5 NLT)
For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. — A time to tear down and a time to build up. A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance. A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones. A time to embrace and a time to turn away. A time to search and a time to quit searching. A time to keep and a time to throw away. A time to tear and a time to mend. A time to be quiet and a time to speak.**
On the positive side, I am on alert for the new green leaves and roots: both figuratively and literally.
My mini daffodils, TTQ cc
My heirloom lilac, TTQ cc
backside daffodil, photo by quirkyjazz, aka Jill
daffodil in late afternoon sun; photo by quirkyjazz, aka Jill
Literally, I planted a lot of spring blooming bulbs in our new yard. I will be thankful and happy when I see them. I look forward to fragile new growth as summer follows spring, as the roots and leaves grow larger and greener each day.
Figuratively, I have made some small forays to find and make friends and to begin to send out roots and branches (creatively, musically and otherwise).
I am thankful for each of you who read my blog. Many of you have been hanging in here with me for pretty much the whole year I’ve been at this. I appreciate the friendships that have sprung up, the emotional and creative support and inspiration I gather (and hopefully share), and the incredibly kind and thoughtful comments exchanged.
I just tried to find a comment from many months ago that has stuck in my mind. I looked through all the pages of comments from all my posts and could not find it. I’m not sure who said it, but I DO remember the meaning of it. I must have either posted something very short or re-blogged something I found interesting but did so saying I didn’t have any coherent thoughts or time to share them because of the move and all the goodbyes and such — and someone very kindly said (and I’m paraphrasing): That’s fine. Don’t worry. We’ll be here waiting for you on the other end of it. When things get back to normal, we will be here ready to hear about it.
Thank you for caring.
*lyrics by James Taylor from “Fire and Rain.” **excerpts from Ecclesiastes 3, New Living Translation.
Now as the year turns toward its darkness
the car is packed, and time come to start
driving west. We have lived here
for many years and been more or less content;
now we are going away. That is how
things happen, and how into new places,
among other people, we shall carry
our lives with their peculiar memories
both happy and unhappy but either way
touched with a strange tonality
of what is gone but inalienable, the clear
and level light of a late afternoon
out on the terrace, looking to the mountains,
drinking with friends. Voices and laughter
lifted in still air, in a light
that seemed to paralyze time.
We have had kindness here, and some
unkindness; now we are going on.
Though we are young enough still
And militant enough to be resolved,
Keeping our faces to the front, there is
A moment, after saying all farewells,
when we taste the dry and bitter dust
of everything that we have said and done
for many years, and our mouths are dumb,
and the easy tears will not do. Soon
the north wind will shake the leaves,
the leaves will fall. It may be
never again that we shall see them,
the strangers who stand on the steps,
smiling and waving, before the screen doors
of their suddenly forbidden houses.
Wind sweeping fall leaves across the sky. Image by morganglines via Flickr CC
image by Pamela Barclay (happydog) via Flickr CC
image by Wil Taylor (subsetsum) via Flickr CC license
image “Three Shadows of Future Selves” by J Mark Dodds via Flickr CC license
This poem brings me back to the emotions I lived with most of last year. I tried to describe something quite similar to this poem’s scenario in my this feels final poem and post. I’m pleased to report that I’m no longer living daily in this emotion. Slowly I’m adapting to my new life, making friends and finding new favorite places. I still have days when I look back, but most days I’m looking forward or at least being present in my now.
I want to share this poem with photos I found on Flickr (Creative Commons!) to remember that time and to be thankful the pain isn’t quite so immediate now. I appreciate all the love, support and encouragement I’ve had from friends (and family) far and near, in person and through technology. Thank you for being with me on this journey.
We did have an offer on the house back in the other town late last fall, but the deal fell through. I know some of these feelings and emotions of loss and separation will come rolling back when the house sells. Hopefully, I’ll be ready to face it when it happens. Somehow, I will be.
this feels final it hangs in the air like the yellow turning leaves of the old maple dripping with the dreary October drizzle
in my mind I see — a pile of crisp leaves shaking, full of bundled children laughing
feet reaching to touch the sky, swinging and swooping fresh green grass sparkling in the summer sun
as the tiny bare feet dash through scattered drops and rainbow sprays
pristine fluffy mounds molded into snowpals and monsters mud, sand, soil and water child-made disasters and deluges training wheels, roller blades, wagons, scooters chalk scrawled creations adorning the common concrete squares
daffodils, lilacs, roses, day lilies, hostas blooming growing boy and girl, back-pack laden, blinking into the sun in first-day-of-school finery
trees we planted prairie fire, towering ash, and seedling tulip now silently standing tall there by the playhouse we built finally bloom-filled this spring — oh, and planted by parents — proof progeny of my Indiana childhood, as the children now tower and bloom
inside sleepless nights, celebrations, sickness and health singing, shouting, studying, creating seconds tick into years family, friends, faith joy and sorrow and always love
tears finally fall following months and streams of tears
the floors have been swept the heat, turned off the last notes have been played the screen door slams shut
close and lock belt clicks put it in drive then pull away rending past from present
I asked if I could re-blog it, but I decided I’m going to borrow the words and find some photos to possibly enhance them just to put my spin on things. Thanks for the inspiration, Theresa!
I think these words are very good for me to hear now. I have several friends who have just sent children off to college. I have just sent my son out the door to finish his senior year in the town we moved away from (after nearly 18 years — now we are nearly 3 hours away from him). Whether you are off on your own or the person left behind, hopefully these words will be a blessing to you!
A Blessing of Solitude by John O’Donohue
May you recognize in your life the presence,
power and light of your soul.
May you realize that you are never alone,
that your soul in its brightness and belonging connects you
intimately with the rhythm of the universe.
May you have respect for your own individuality and difference.
May you realize that the shape of your soul is unique,
that you have a special destiny here,
that behind the facade of your life there is something
beautiful, good, and eternal happening.
May you learn to see yourself with the same delight, pride,
and expectation with which God sees you in every moment.
all photos above by quirkyjazz aka Jill; see creative commons notice
I experimented with changing the appearance of my blog. I thought it would be an easy thing to do! I was wrong. BEWARE! If you change, it is not easy to change back. I’m guessing I missed some magical step that would have resurrected my former settings, but I just spent quite a while trying to re-create the widget collection and various settings I had before the change.
I was enticed by the the idea of a fresh new theme.
I think I was lured because my whole home is in an uproar. My whole life is in an uproar. Actually it is all total chaos, which I believe is worse than a total uproar! EVERY room has boxes in various stages of fullness and emptiness. EVERY room has some “fix” that needs to be done or some furniture that needs to be taken out to be stored or some thing (more specifically: all things) that need to be cleaned!
I thought I could exert a little control over my blog world. Choose a new theme. It’ll be quick and easy and my, won’t it be nice to have something new to look at and work with?
Oh, well. Better luck next time, when every other thing in my life isn’t changing. I’ll try again someday. I promise!
I’m still smiling and taking lots of deep breaths, so no harm done.
By the way — I learned something fantastic today:
Lemon oil ROCKS! Use it on woodwork or wooden furniture and the stuff just glows!
I grabbed the bottle on impulse during my last shopping spree to Farm and Fleet. (Yes, I’ve branched out from Menard’s!). I thought, “Lemon oil? Isn’t that the stuff they put in Pledge? Hmmm… if it is here at Farm and Fleet it must be what all those hard-working farm wives use. I’ll give it a try.” You pour a little onto a rag, wipe it on to the wood, then go back and wipe off the excess with another dry rag. Easy peasey. It smells great, too.
Hopefully THIS will be the secret thing that makes our house sell fast! The first open house is this coming Wednesday, the 19th!. YIKES.
I usually don’t do the stream consciousness type of blog post. Thank you for listening.
The connection between these things is wanting to make old things seem like something new. Lemon oil works. Changing blog themes, not so much. (At least for me today!)
After I published this post I got an email with this devototional message — about CHANGE!
The thing about words is that meanings can twist just like a snake, and if you want to find snakes look for them behind words that have changed their meaning. (Terry Pratchett)
And finally I twist my heart round again, so that the bad is on the outside and the good is on the inside, and keep on trying to find a way of becoming what I would so like to be, and could be, if there weren’t any other people living in the world.
I said what I meant and I meant what I said.
I have walked through many lives,
some of them my own,
and I am not who I was,
though some principle of being
abides, from which I struggle
not to stray.
When I look behind,
as I am compelled to look
before I can gather strength
to proceed on my journey,
I see the milestones dwindling
toward the horizon
and the slow fires trailing
from the abandoned camp-sites,
over which scavenger angels
wheel on heavy wings.
Oh, I have made myself a tribe
out of my true affections,
and my tribe is scattered!
How shall the heart be reconciled
to its feast of losses?
In a rising wind
the manic dust of my friends,
those who fell along the way,
bitterly stings my face.
Yet I turn, I turn,
with my will intact to go
wherever I need to go,
and every stone on the road
precious to me.
In my darkest night,
when the moon was covered
and I roamed through wreckage,
a nimbus-clouded voice
directed me: “Live in the layers, not on the litter.”
Though I lack the art
to decipher it,
no doubt the next chapter
in my book of transformations
is already written.
I am not done with my changes.
“The Layers” by Stanley Kunitz from The Collected Poems.
I heard this poem a few years ago on Writer’s Almanac on NPR. It means something different to me now than it did when I first heard it. The images speak to me very clearly right now as I am contemplating the changes this coming year will bring (moving to a new city, see earlier blog post “Excited and Scared.”)
Our lives have layers. We can’t just sit on top. We need to be INthe layers of our lives, not just sift through the litter (the losses, the dust, the ashes).
I do feel compelled to look back so that I can gather strength for the journey ahead. I found myself at a physical place from my past on the very day this big decision had to be made. I drew immense comfort and courage from being there. I was surprised by the feeling, in fact, when I realized what was happening. I hadn’t realized that place was such a source for me.
My “principle of being abides” even though changes swirl around me like a coming dust storm. I am turning “with my will intact to go wherever I need to go.“
As Stanley so wisely said in this haunting poem,
“no doubt the next chapter in my book of transformations is already written. I am not done with my changes.”