Resilience

Inspired by V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #64: Resilience

There is a catch to this week’s challenge: I don’t want you to use the word itself, but to illustrate what resilience means to you.

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It is not true that life is one damn thing after another — it’s one damn thing over and over.

Edna St. Vincent Millay

 

Please be careful!  I hold my breath.

I don’t speak  because he can’t hear me…outside two stories beneath my dining room window.

I can see him walking his lively little black dog. Across the grassy area between my building and the road. Painstakingly. Slowly. Steadily. In the snow. In the rain. Blistering heat.  The dog needs her walks.

In one hand he grips a long retractable leash. The other a sturdy cane and plastic poop bags. His body, bent over, lurches to the side as he walks, his left leg immobile in a metal brace. With each slow step of his right foot, he drags the other leg along. At what looks like an impossibly treacherous angle.

Step. Drag. Step. Drag.

Periodically he stops, balances on the cane and reaches down with the green plastic bag. His pup patiently waits, tail wagging…clearly used to the routine.

My neighbor has not always been like this. I met him when we moved into this over-55 community 3 years ago…and he is several decades over 55. All I know is he suffered a brain aneurysm maybe 10 years ago. Lost the use of his left leg. If he falls – and he does – he can rarely get up by himself. Add leukemia to the mix.

However…

He drives. Goes to the grocery store. Once back home, he transfers full shopping bags to a cart. Pushes it to the elevator in the garage. Slowly. Steadily.

He attends condo meetings. Cookouts. Pizza parties. He and his wife traveled to Europe last winter. Back in the day they skied on a regular basis.

He just does what he has to do. Offers of help waved off. Always a smile.

It looks so damn hard to be him.

But he keeps on keepin’ on in ways I can’t even imagine.

 

side yard copy

Magical

Inspired by Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #63: Magical

 

Magic exists. Who can doubt it, when there are rainbows and wildflowers, the music of the wind and the silence of the stars? Anyone who has loved has been touched by magic. It is such a simple and such an extraordinary part of the lives we live.

Nora Roberts

 

During two visits to Vermont’s Shelburne Museum this summer, I kept gravitating back to this pond. One of many beautiful spots on the 45 acre campus. I’d walk by and then double back as the light shifted throughout the day. I took photo after photo, each shot just a bit different from the one before.

At one point, as if out of nowhere, a family of ducks glided across…and then…disappeared.

Magical.

magical pond

 
A few years ago I felt the pull to another favorite place…the ocean’s edge…late afternoon. In November when the beach was nearly deserted. The sun sinking.

I was lucky enough to be at the right place at the right time.

Magical.

hampton beach magic

 

Recovery

Inspired by V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #61: Recovery 

What does it mean to recover? What would full recovery look like, and is there such a thing? Recover from what?

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Everything else you grow out of, but you never recover from childhood.

Beryl Bainbridge

 

Time to come in for dinner! 

Whoops.

It became kind of a family joke when I was a kid – that I often ended up needing stitches on Thanksgiving…or Easter. Usually a holiday with visiting grandparents. More than once.

I’m not sure how many times it actually happened, but as I recall I’d be sent outside to play while the turkey was roasting. In my dressy clothes and patent leather shoes, I’d start running around like usual…climbing the monkey bars…swinging on the swings…riding my bike. Jump roping. Inevitably, without my “play shoes” on, I’d slip and fall. Many times on the cement patio or out in the street. Back then, we played in the street. Kickball. Baseball.

Before long there was blood everywhere…a huge gash on my chin, forehead or knee. At the same time the turkey was just about ready to carve.

I’d ruin the rest of the day as someone would have to take me to the Emergency Room – or the pediatrician’s office…who would be called in on a holiday (this was the 1950’s & ’60s…and they did that then) to stitch me up.

I obviously healed and recovered from the consequences of my holiday mishaps. The stitches were eventually removed. The scars faded, but remain….

I was branded for the duration of my childhood. My fearlessness and budding athleticism were not what a girl should be. My mother enrolled me in the “Junior Miss Club” when I was about 10…where I was supposed to learn how to be more ladylike. It met weekly after school and included practice walking with a book on my head. The goal was to keep it there. Boring as sin and to this day I am mystified at why that was a desirable skill. Ballet was almost as frustrating. Too slow and regimented. Baton twirling lessons were a disaster.

Girls who liked to play outside and get dirty and collect bees in jars and play baseball in the street were not “normal” girls. We were called tomboys. And grew up to prefer jeans to dresses. My poor mother desperately wanted me to be a normal daughter. She never got what she wanted, despite her heroic efforts. Which continued through my high school years.

Nobody has a perfect childhood. Nobody.

However, I have to believe some sort of recovery is possible…

Depending on the scars…

And how fast they heal.

dress on bike 1959

 

 

 

 

Quote of the Day…Worth Mentioning

Inspired by V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #59: Worth Mentioning

What has inspired you lately? A song, an image, a quotation? This week’s challenge is to share something “worth mentioning.”

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Loneliness is the poverty of self; solitude is the richness of self.

May Sarton

 

This quote leapt out at me recently…from a page in a weekly magazine.

Food for thought…and discussion…worth mentioning.

 

pond reflection

 

 

 

Reclaim

This post inspired by V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #55: Reclaim

 

rock wall woods

 

The things that women reclaim are often their own voice, their own values, their imagination, their clairvoyance, their stories, their ancient memories. If we go for the deeper, and the darker, and the less known we will touch the bones.
Clarissa Pinkola Estés

 

What’s done is done.
What’s over is over.

One by one she closed the chapters
Convincing herself
it was so.

She shelved them high…year after year
Dust settled slowly
Coating spine after spine.

But that glimmer still surfaced
Again and again
A nagging suspicion…

Is done really done?
Is over really…over?

So she emptied the shelf
And cracked open each volume
To travel chapter by chapter

From whisper to shout
Addendum in process
The jury still out.

 

 

 

 

Acceptance

This post inspired by V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #50:  Acceptance

“There’s release in knowing the truth no matter how anguishing it is. You come finally to the irreducible thing, and there’s nothing left to do but pick it up and hold it. Then, at last, you can enter the severe mercy of acceptance.”

Sue Monk Kidd
The Mermaid Chair

 

grasses

 

Acceptance…may mean making peace with an overwhelming, ugly truth. Living with it in your head.

My head.

The new raw reality nudges me. Breaks my concentration on a bright sunny day. I take it out. Examine it. Until a familiar gnawing sickness in the pit of my stomach makes me look away. I put it back before it drops from my shaking hands and explodes.

I’m a member of a club I never asked to join. But was accepted into anyway. I don’t belong here. But it turns out I do. Surrounded by the nameless who also lost their pasts. Exposing ragged edges of grief. Struggling to reach a place of resignation in a stark new reality. Healing measured in tiny steps.

Get over it Move on Let it go…well meaning, but frantic pleas from those who care, but…they aren’t in my head with the unimaginable truth. How could they possibly get it?

So for those of us who struggle to accept what life has thrown up on us…for those of us with battle scar tread marks on our backs…we yearn to be accepted…frailties, brokenness and all. In order to be whole again.

Not easy for them to accept the changes.

Even more difficult for us to go it alone.

 

 

 

 

Compassion

This post inspired by V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #48: Compassion

There is no small act of kindness.
Every compassionate act makes large the world.

Mary Anne Radmacher

 

bench

 

One of the most important things you can do on this earth is to let people know they are not alone.

Shannon L. Alder

 

You are not alone…
When we sit together
Side by side.
How are you…
How are you really.

You are not alone…
In turmoil and pain
When you take my hand
I will listen.

You are not alone…
As you heal
Searching for your truth
I am here.

You are heard