Blog 21: If Trees Could Talk Would You Listen?

I came to the woods late in the game. Trees, now my guides, beckon and enlighten. I swear they talk to me. And I am learning to listen. I know that teachers appear at unexpected times and in surprisingly varied disguises. They don’t always stand at a chalk board in sensible shoes. They can be towering pines or twisted scrubby oak.

And I’ve always heard when you are ready, the teacher is there.

During a walk to Lobsterville Beach, I suddenly feel the need to take a sharp right turn into one of my favorite land bank spots. I park and pat myself on the back for realizing I need not to be in the open space of sun and sky, but cradled in the quiet of my own mini Muir Woods.

I get out of the car and for some reason, even though I hate maps, I walk up to the glassed-in case thinking for once I will plan my route. I have always resisted reading maps. I’m not sure if my disdain comes from the small print and my weak eyes or some kind of dyslexia or my childhood experience of someone yelling at someone, “quick just tell me where to turn, can’t you read the damn thing?”

As I stand there I actually become dizzy. My vision blurs and I have the distinct revelation that I have an actual fear of maps. Then I hear the unmistakable roar of a giant lawn mower.

Darn it, I think. I came here for silence. And I need my trees. Oh well, I figure I’ll go in the opposite direction. I climb up the hill, wave at the fellow and he cuts his engine and approaches me.

“Hi, gorgeous day,” I say.

“Sure is,” he says. “Sorry for the noise. I just started the job.”

“No problem,” I say. Why make the guy feel bad. “I’ll just go on down to the beach.”

“Well, wait a minute,” he says. “There are lots of really great walks I can turn you on to. Do you have a conservation lands map?”

“Oh, I’m not good with maps. Thanks anyway.”

At this point I am talking to his back as he heads to his mower. I watch him climb up, rustle through some stuff and come back unfolding a huge Atlas-type of thing. He proceeds to spread it out on a nearby flat rock. He is just about to begin his lecture when I say, “really I can’t read these things. So I’m kind of useless.”

He continues undaunted. “See this here? We just bought all this land right here.”

His finger traces along an edge of the paper as he looks up to see if I am following. Of course I am not following. I am gazing off into the middle distance. But he perseveres. “See this,” he says. “I just finished mowing there, so this one is absolutely gorgeous. You just have to drive to Outermost Inn. You know where Huey’s place is, right?”

“Yeah, it’s beautiful there,” I say, trying to let him know I have no intention of going.

“Well, you’ll have to park your car at the end at the town lot and then walk, but the walk is nothing.”

I interrupt him. “Actually, I’m all set. I’m just gonna stroll on the beach.”

He continues: “If you don’t want to do that one, have you been out to Chappy recently? We just got this, what’s her name, I can’t think of her name, but she donated all this terrific property so now you can go from here to here.” He travels with his pointer finger across green and blue and brown blobs. “It’s spectacular there now.”

The thrill of a lifetime, I’m thinking, would be getting away from this man. Pretending to be interested, I’m actually plotting my escape. The dude is relentless. Somehow I’ve wandered into Map Reading 101, a course I have managed to avoid my whole life. Why doesn’t this guy hear me? Why doesn’t he get that I’m not going on any of his walks?

And then it hits me. When you are ready the teacher is there. He’s the teacher. Funny, I hadn’t thought I was ready. I never do. This happens to me all the time. Why do I forget? Hello. I was the one who had wanted to go into the woods. I was the one who happened to have some extra time. I was the one who approached him first. And here next to the rock with the map spread out with sunlight shining and illuminating all the words so I can actually read them, is a patient professor so anxious to share his joy and his passion. I gulp and I stop my stupid resistance and fall into the reverie he has offered me right from the start.

Turns out, it’s not just a map. It’s a travel brochure with great writing, and with trails I never knew existed and long lovely narratives like this one: “The property’s dozen roadside acres are grassy and hilly; notable is the white oak near the hilltop with its stately crown...geologists will especially like the red trail in the woodlands as it follows the crest of a long esker.”

I have to look up esker. It’s a long winding ridge of stratified sand and gravel occurring in formerly glaciated regions.

Here is another description: “The corridor is profuse; nesting songbirds are abundant, and include yellow warblers, redstarts, common yellow throats and oven birds. Footbridges span the brook which drains into Chilmark upper pond easing hikers into habitats which would have been too dense or remote to visit.”

There are 61 of these walks, 61 descriptions, 61 new places for me to explore. So once again, no sensible shoes, no chalk board, not even a talking oak. This time the teacher is an enthusiastic Vineyard Conservation guy. I write this so you will help me remember.

- See more at: https://vineyardgazette.com/news/2016/05/19/if-trees-could-talk-would-you-listen#sthash.qjAfII7Y.dpuf

 

Write a short piece about something in nature that speaks to you.

Blog 19: Hope-aholic?

A long time ago an ex husband of a dear friend called me a “pathological optimist”. He said it as an insult. I remember taking it as a compliment.

The other day I saw Gloria Steinem on Super Soul Sunday (which I tape and love) (Opera in conversation with  lots of wise teachers).

Gloria said she was a hope-aholic. I like that one.

I remember parents warning their children saying “don’t get your hopes up.” And I also remember thinking “why not?”

And recently someone said to me “it's not set in stone so don’t get excited yet.” And I almost barked back; “why not let me have the thrill of imagining it might happen? And then if it doesn’t, believe I’ll live through the disappointment.”

I'd rather have the big emotions than sit on possibility. I think an A plus and an F are better than C minus. When did we get so frightened of highs and lows? Unless of course the kid is constantly let down. That’s different. I’m talking about the ordinary once in a while change of plans. Isn’t learning about change a way of learning how to be flexible?

I know you will have a take on this. I also know I could be wrong.

So write to each other.

And write to me.

The word "hope-aholic...."

1. Write for ten minutes without stopping, thinking or censoring yourself.

2. Post your writing in the comments below this post.

3. Include what classes you've taken (and when) and a short bio if you like. 

4. PLEASE comment on this piece and the writing of each other. We all know how that feels! Just hit the "reply" icon on the top at the right within their comment so it posts right underneath the writing.

 

Guest Post: Sarah Sellers

In response to Blog 18: Feelings this holiday...

I am isolated this Christmas.  Last year, I moved from a modest but spacious family home on two lovingly landscaped acres in the Chicago suburbs to a 450 sq ft studio apartment in the Boston Navy Yard, every day walking three miles to and from a stressful job in Cambridge. 

The apartment windows overlook an alley—at 10:15 in the morning a middle-aged, otherwise fit and well-dressed man steps into the alley and align himself against the wall.  Methodically, he places a rubber glove on his right hand, pulls a package of Marlboro cigarettes out of this pocket, removes a smoke and lights up using his gloved-hand only to facilitate his addiction. When he is finished drawing its last embers, he drops it onto the uneven brick pavement, maybe into the pool of water under the breached gutter main, and just as efficiently removes and tucks away his glove and disappears around the corner with determined footing. 

I did not bring my car.  On workdays, my commute takes me by the USS Constitution, the locks by North Station, and the Massachusetts State House where two years ago I testified before the Senate in the aftermath of the national fungal meningitis outbreak that left nearly 100 dead and thousands exposed to contaminated drugs. 

Guest Post: Serita Winthrop

Response to Blog # 18: Feelings This Holiday...

The holidays always bring a certain amount of mixed feelings for me.  I remember my childhood Christmases which took place in a family place in South Carolina.  I didn’t enjoy those at all.  My father was always in a cranky mood and my stepmother wasn’t all that into the festivities.  In fact, my main memory is being with my three older brothers in the Main House alone.  We decided to open the presents from our mother, who was in Boston with her husband, and ALWAYS sent things we didn’t want.

My disabled brother, “Hew”, threw his present in the fireplace.  We watched it burn.  Then the other brothers did the same.  I can’t remember if I followed their example.  But fun it was not.  Best part was sitting at the desk near that fireplace on Christmas afternoon.  I wrote all of my thank you notes that afternoon, every year.

There were a few happy years when my four children were young and we lived in Lincoln, MA.  I remember my now ex husband helping to clean the kitchen on Christmas Day.  That was a highlight for me because he didn’t help all that often.  

The children were happy with their new toys and we ate BLTs in front of the fire for our Christmas Lunch.  That was our little tradition. I loved having the kitchen looking so organized and clean.

Roger cooked only on Sunday nights and separated the cooking pots that he used from the ones I used.

He said I didn’t clean mine properly.  Now I like living alone.  Roger would be amused if he could see me this Christmas,  a veritable Neatnik.

Several of my friends have children who aren’t speaking to them.  One has a sister who was once her best friend, her only sibling, and they are estranged.  Why is there still so much disconnection in families?  The societal expectations around the Holidays only exacerbate these divisions and make so many of us sad. 

The good news is that my friendships still thrive in my seventies.  I just dropped in on my neighbor, Betty, who is my co-grandmother to two granddaughters here in Rhinebeck.  She is a little envious that I am able to go to the 9:30PM Christmas service tonight at the Episcopal Church of the Messiah.  This will be a highlight as theMusic will be sublime.  There I go with my expectations, but anticipating my being able to sing those carols brings me a moment of happy anticipation.  I am slowly learning that we need to look for Joy.

 

Anonymous Guest Post

A Response to Prompt 18: Your feelings this holiday season....

There are so many shifts this year.

A beloved, freshly married sister living in England.

A beloved, freshly divorced sister-in-law staying in Boston.

A (different) brother-in-law's new girlfriend visiting, who is missing her own children.

Amidst the mistletoe and carols, I can only feel more changes on their way. I have this lurking feeling I can't shake about being lucky on the death-front. So far.

As a kid, all I longed for was a Pound Puppy or nameplate necklace which I usually found, lovingly wrapped in my hand-sewn stocking. 

As I grew older, encircled by parents, sisters and our stacks of lovingly wrapped gifts, I sat next to my twinkling Christmas tree, just wanting a boyfriend. 

A few years later, we met. But, he lived 2,000 miles away. I would call him a half dozen times on Christmas Day, pining for him, practically ignoring all the local love.

This year it was like I heard Elvis's "Blue Christmas" for the first time. "I'll be so blue, thinking about you . . ." I'll miss my sister, sister-in-law, feel for our new guest who misses her family. I think about never waking up in my parent's home on Christmas again, even though they only live 8 hours away.

While losses and transitions abound, I can't help but hum the deep blues.

Yet, I'm also wow-ed by the season's shimmery silvers, bright greens, shiny golds and captivating crimsons. I'm appreciating the conversations, gestures, traditions, surprises that pass quickly and eventually lead to the major changes.

This year, I led a Christmas gift making activity with my son's kindergarten class. I cried afterwards. It was one of the best mornings of my life. Seeing the precious children's delight at stringing emerald and garnet beads to make candy cane ornaments for their families was so touching.  They even stopped me in the hallway after to say, "That was awesome! Thank you!"

Becoming a "grown-up" must mean always having some blues on the background. I'll be the one to choose whether to dance or sit it out. This Christmas morning, I'll hold my losses close, but boogy in that special-at-home-only way to "Jingle Bell Rock" while my two little boys let the wrapping paper fly.

Blog 18: Your Feelings this Holiday Season...

It's that time of year again. It used to be very hard for me.

As a kid running outside on Christmas morning to the “whatja get whatja get” refrain. Sleds with slick runners and dolls that could talk and wet and walkie talkies and train sets with real smoke.

I had no answer. I think I hung my head and whispered “We’re Jewish. I didn’t get anything.”

The Rabbis told us not to compare Chanukah with Christmas but how could an eight-year old understand such a concept? The two holidays came at the same time of the year. Schools only sang carols and the only symbols I saw were the manger (which fascinated me)  and the gorgeous trees decorated with magical mystical glittery and glamorous tinsel and teeny white lights and stars and angels.

Chanukah just couldn’t hold a candle. I suffered from an extreme case of Christmas Envy.

This year with a grandchild there is no competition and no envy. I got to light the candles on the menorah the first night and the last night with him.

And here I am today gift wrapping everything in sight.

God doesn’t make a distinction. There is no guilt. There is no choice. There is only joy.

Merry everything ya’all.

Prompt: Write about your feelings about this holiday season.

 1. Write for ten minutes without stopping, thinking or censoring yourself.

2. Post your writing in the comments below this post.

3. Include what classes you've taken (and when) and a short bio if you like. 

4. PLEASE comment on this piece and the writing of each other. We all know how that feels! Just hit the "reply" icon on the top at the right within their comment so it posts right underneath the writing.

Blog #17: What Do You Think about Syrian Refugees?

 The Vineyard Gazette, Dec. 3, 2015

The Vineyard Gazette, Dec. 3, 2015

I am walking down east 10th street in New York city. It is 1959. The snow is already gray from the exhausts of so many cars. I don’t care. I am on a mission. My grandmother’s orders.

“Look for Uncle Morris,” she wails. “I beg him to come to Hartford to live with us. Over and over I beg him. But he never answers. Maybe he’ll listen to you.”

I scan the addresses on the doors of the dilapidated rooming houses one by one. And just as I am about to approach number 249, a man bent and broken shuffles toward me. I know it’s him because my grandmother has a picture stuck in the mirror of her bureau. The shock of white hair, the ruddy cheeks and those shoulders that slump under the weight of heavy memories are unmistakably my Gramma’s baby brother. 

She told me he turned prematurely white when they shot his wife and baby daughter in front of him. She said they kept him alive because he could copy handwriting. So forging papers became his job while he was a prisoner at Dachau, the second concentration camp that was liberated at the end of the war.

This is what I keep thinking while the Republican governors today are calling for closed borders, feeding into the fear by talking about the danger of Syrian refugees, the threat of Muslims period. Uncle Morris is what I keep thinking.

It’s bad enough that they won’t acknowledge that the 2003 Iraq invasion ripped apart the Iraqi state and allowed for the extremism we are experiencing today. How can they not see that the Syrians are running away from terrorists; that they are the victims?

My friend Julius is wary. He says, but you don’t know if there’s a terrorist hiding among the thousands who are coming in.

I say, for God’s sakes, it takes 18 months for these people to be vetted. Do you really think the one suicide bomber is going to get on a over-crowded boat, risk life and limb, pay a smuggler $1,000 so he can wait for almost two years, practically starving, in a freezing, overcrowded tent so he can slip into Chilmark and fulfill his death wish? And don’t you think the way to keep radicalization from happening is to give to these lost souls? Shelter, food, kindness, open arms? Wouldn’t that melt their intention to destroy?

Julius shakes his head at me and says you’re naïve. You’re a pathological optimist. You’re in denial.

I say, I wouldn’t even be here if someone hadn’t convinced Roosevelt and the rest of the ones who said, no Jews, don’t let them in. So how else can I thank whomever it was who made the decision to act not out of fear but from a place of compassion? How else to express my gratitude? What a great way for me as a Jewish-being to heal these ancient tribal hatreds by opening

He says, yeah kindergarten innocent. You have to be smarter than that Nancy, he says.

I don’t want to be smart, I say. I want to be kind.

He is almost yelling now. You can’t trust everyone.

Why not I say. Why not?

PROMPT: What do You think About Syrian Refugees?

1. Write for ten minutes without stopping, thinking or censoring yourself.

2. Post your writing in the comments below this post.

3. Include what classes you've taken (and when) and a short bio if you like. 

4. PLEASE comment on this piece and the writing of each other. We all know how that feels! Just hit the "reply" icon on the top at the right within their comment so it posts right underneath the writing. 

If you have any trouble posting a comment, please feel free to get in touch with Cissy:  cissy_white@comcast.net and she will help you.

Blog 16: I Forgot Just One Was Enough

The Vineyard Gazette, Nov. 2015

As published in The Vineyard Gazette.

So, every day all summer and even into October when I take my ridiculously embarrassingly short bike ride on Lobsterville, I scan the grasses for the white egret, stark in contrast against the hundreds of various shades of greens. When I see her, I sometimes gasp right out loud. Once in a while there are two and that’s a double header. At the end of August something happened.

I’m on my usual road trip (I know, I know very short, I’m the one who told you in the first place how short it is) and I look up and out where I always look up and out. I don’t see one and I don’t see two. I see, hang on, wha?t, I see twelve! Twelve egrets! I almost fall off my bike.

Wow, where did they all come from? Are these maybe the babies? But they all look the same size. Have they always been there and I never saw them? Impossible. Totally impossible.

None of this is earth shattering, but now comes the philosophical part of the piece.

The very next day after my big bonanza I am riding along looking forward to another thrill, but what do I see? One. One lone egret. I am so disappointed that I almost don’t look. One lousy egret? Are you kidding me.

So did I say hello, my one beauty? Good morning you gorgeous elegant bird, you. Did I mutter under my breath, such grace?

No. I did not. In fact quite the opposite. I felt a loss. I felt where are they? What happened? Was this some kind of tease? You take me to a smash hit on Broadway opening night and in the middle of my applause and my standing ovation you take me back to the rehearsal studio.

One egret? That’s your big deal? How had I been thrilled with only one and why do I now feel cheated, depleted, disappointed, lacking, wanting more. Where is my full Monty?!

I spend the rest of the day ruminating over what this is about. How could something that felt so beautiful and special suddenly seem less than. I start thinking about iPhones 5 and 6 and 7 and 8, and iPad blah blah blah, and flat screen and HD and robot vacuum cleaners — the newest, coolest, keenest, sharpest, thinnest, lightest new device.

This is the downside of getting older. Comparisons. When did we switch from loyalty to immediate gratification?

I can’t help thinking, what happened to the value of driving your car until it literally couldn’t move anymore, fixing the toaster until you admitted that it’s enough already only having half the coils working, turning the bread around, burning on one side and having undone toast on the other.

Only eight months ago this iPhone was perfect. Omg, look at everything it could do. Now it’s old. Too short, too long, too heavy, too light, not enough mega schmites.

Once you’ve been introduced to something new and seemingly better, the original awe has lost its power. Is this just human nature? Am I that fickle? How could I have abandoned that pristine feathered creature for numbers, sheer numbers. I thought I was better than that.

So today I’m going out in the cold (walking, not riding) and I will look for her. And I will honor her one-of-a-kindness, her snow flakedness, her naked beauty. And if I should be lucky enough to catch a teeny glimpse, I will try to remember how I felt when I first saw her, and then I will turn to her and I will bow.

PROMPT: I Forgot Just One Was Enough....

1. Write for ten minutes without stopping, thinking or censoring yourself.

2. Post your writing in the comments below this post.

3. Include what classes you've taken (and when) and a short bio if you like. 

4. PLEASE comment on this piece and the writing of each other. We all know how that feels! Just hit the "reply" icon on the top at the right within their comment so it posts right underneath the writing. 

If you have any trouble posting a comment, please feel free to get in touch with Cissy:  cissy_white@comcast.net and she will help you.

Blog 15: Where You Are Now

I have been incommunicado with my sister who I like to talk to every day.

Finally when I was able to get service I wrote kind of a complaining kind of email.

I wrote how I had done a workshop in NYC and then drove right up to Rhinebeck to teach another workshop where there was no service and the food wasn't good and my feet were cold and and and ...

The following is what she sent back.

This place where you are right now,                                                                                                

God circled on a map for you.

Wherever your eyes and arms

and heart can move

Against the earth and sky,

The Beloved has bowed there.

The Beloved has bowed there

Knowing you were coming.

Hafiz

After I had myself a good cry I thought about the "work" I was whining about.

I know it's not work. I know it's a gift that I get to fall in love with 20 new people each time I am blessed enough to lead a writing from the heart workshop and sit in a sacred circle where people are courageous enough to say "this is who I am and this is what happened to me" and I returned to my grateful Self.

PROMPT: Write a short piece about what you recently have bitched and moaned about and then taken Hafiz's words and tell us where you are now!

1. Write for ten minutes without stopping, thinking or censoring yourself.

2. Post your writing in the comments below this post.

3. Include what classes you've taken (and when) and a short bio if you like. 

4. PLEASE comment on this piece and the writing of each other. We all know how that feels! Just hit the "reply" icon on the top at the right within their comment so it posts right underneath the writing. 

If you have any trouble posting a comment, please feel free to get in touch with Cissy:  cissy_white@comcast.net and she will help you.

Blog #14: Sobbing

This morning I got a sobbing phone call from my sweet cousin in Florida. She’s been struggling with depression her whole young life. She was sexually abused as a kid and I know from having watched her all these years, she has done THE WORK!!!!

She goes to meetings, surrounds herself with herself with good folks, works consistently, has raised a great kid who is independent now. And yet she falls down again and again. I can see that the shame that goes with falling down is as great as the bruise from the fall.

Piece of art at Crabtree Cottage in Lee, MA

I was thinking the other day how much of a muse Dan was for me in a million ways.

When I go down, when my heart can’t take the pain (like now during the holidays when Rosh Hashonah which meant so much to me as a kid; a grand daughter of orthodox Jews and a member of a thriving Jewish community with my aunt who held us all together and all my cousins and the music and the food and my Mother and me making kreplach together laughing and dancing around the kitchen, is all gone, I grieve the loss and I can't seem to replace that golden experience).

Two things happened.

  1. My Dan is a reminder that when you go down deep, your roots get the real nourishment, the mud, the dark soil, the minerals and when you comeup the soul is whole again. The flower reaches for the light and lo you have returned. It's not rocket science, kids. Why is it so easy to forget???? We all know the metaphors and we all know a good sob and a willingness to feel the pain of our lives gives us perspective so we can get back to gratitude.. So I got that one.
  2. Then two: my friend Judi, when I moaned about sitting here alone on the new year suffering (actually loyal to my suffering) gave me the link to her synagogue’s service and honestly it saved me.

After watching and listening and sweeping the house to the mournful music of my ancestors, weeping and sweeping, I paused it and called my sister who was also wanting some kind of ritual today and we are now listening together.

So thank you Judila and thank you Dan and may my innocent cousin in Florida drink from the dark brew that I know will act as a homeopathic remedy for her sad self.

And may all people suffering in this world find peace and sweetness.

Let’s take a vow that we will not rest until everyone….. everyone….everyone is safe and fed.

L’shannoah tovah my loved ones!!!!!

 

Blog Prompt # 13: Falling & Getting Up & Falling &....


So I get this from my teacher, Ram Dass the other day.
"Of course it’s embarrassing not to always be infinitely wise, but I feel that what we can offer each other is our truth of the process of growing, and that means we fall on our face again and again. Sri Aurobindo says, “You get up, you take a step, you fall on your face, you get up, you look sheepishly at God, you brush yourself off, you take another step, you fall on your face, you get up, you look sheepishly at God, you brush yourself off, you take another step…” and that’s the journey of awakening.

If you were awakened already, you wouldn’t do that, so my suggestion is you relax and don’t expect that you will always make the wisest decisions, and just realize that sometimes you make a decision, and it wasn’t the right one, and then you change it."
So I want to share this teaching with you and give a prompt.

Prompt: Write about getting up falling down getting up again falling down again. 
 

1. Write for ten minutes without stopping, thinking or censoring yourself.

2. Post your writing in the comments below this post.

3. Include what classes you've taken (and when) and a short bio if you like. 

4. PLEASE comment on this piece and the writing of each other. We all know how that feels! Just hit the "reply" icon on the top at the right within their comment so it posts right underneath the writing. 

If you have any trouble posting a comment, please feel free to get in touch with Cissy:  cissy_white@comcast.net and she will help you.

Prompt 12: Bad Boy/Girl

There was a fifteen-year old in the workshop last week who wrote about her puppy love. When he broke up with her she couldn’t eat. She couldnt sleep. She couldn’t smile or hang out with any of her friends. And she couldn’t tell anyone.

 Heart in the clouds.

Heart in the clouds.

I fell in love with my James Dean in seventh grade. THE BAD BOY. What is it about young girls who fall in love with the outlier?

I started thinking about my own history with the guys from the wrong side of the tracks. They were poets. They were sad. They had potential and by god I was going to help them realize that potential.

I think part of the attraction was the “other”, the other ness of such boys. And girls for that matter. Their backgrounds were so different from mine and my curiosity was dancing the frug. I just couldn’t resist.

Also these beings were broken and fixing someone was a burning need in my social worker heart.

Thank god or goddess or whomever helps you make the right choice I didn’t marry one of them. But many of us did.

PROMPT: Write your story of the bad boy or the bad girl (bad only defined by our culture…. no judgments here) and who did you ultimately choose. 

1. Write for ten minutes without stopping, thinking or censoring yourself.

2. Post your writing in the comments below this post.

3. Include what classes you've taken (and when) and a short bio if you like. 

4. PLEASE comment on this piece and the writing of each other. We all know how that feels! Just hit the "reply" icon on the top at the right within their comment so it posts right underneath the writing. 

If you have any trouble posting a comment, please feel free to get in touch with Cissy:  cissy_white@comcast.net and she will help you.

Prompt 11: Grand-Parents & Grand-Kids

My five year old grandson is sneaking a sip of my seltzer. The bubbles crinkle his nose and he says, "I love seltzer Gramma."

"Me too," I say.

"We have a lot in common E," I continue. "We both love seltzer." 

"And we both love water," he says. "We love the ocean. We love pools and we both love the hot tub."

"What else do we have in common?" I ask.

"We both love bacon," he offers.

"And we both love reading," I add.

"And doing art," he chimes.

It’s silent for minute and then he says, "and we can both walk on anything. Because our bottoms are tough."

In summer Eli and I take our shoes off as soon as we see each other. 

 How did this happen? This unadulterated pure joy!!  This  magic. This beauty.

I have suspended all my judgment, all my rules about money, food, time. This boy who sailed into my heart with the wind at his back and the sun in his smile.

Everyone told me I'd be over the moon. I didn’t even know what that meant.

Now I think goodnight moon full moon moon June he’ll be over soon.

Everything changes with a grandchild.

P.S. I bumped into a fellow gramma while I was with a fellow gramma and we were all bragging about our grand kids and she said, "Here are the rules for grandmothers: shut your mouth and open your pocketbook."

We all cracked up laughing.

PROMPT 11: If you've got one write about what it's been like. If you haven't make one up. If you've been one write about being a grandchild.

Share your writing. You know the rules.

1. Write for ten minutes without stopping, thinking or censoring yourself.

2. Post your writing in the comments below this post.

3. Include what classes you've taken (and when) and a short bio if you like. 

4. PLEASE comment on this piece and the writing of each other. We all know how that feels! Just hit the "reply" icon on the top at the right within their comment so it posts right underneath the writing. 

If you have any trouble posting a comment, please feel free to get in touch with Cissy,  cissy_white@comcast.net and she will help you.

Book Project Announcement: Letter from Nancy Slonim Aronie

Dear Writing from the Heart alumns:

Nancy profile.jpg

I know what I know as a writer, teacher, storyteller and human. I know how much hearts grow, swell and open when unburdened. I've seen how much people change, fall in love with themselves and each other after writing and sharing words and truth in workshops. It happens every single time!

Writing from the heart offers a portable and affordable tool. So many think writing is only for writers or publication but we know it's life-saving. Writing is for everyone and helps hurting hearts heal.

You know how we do lots of prompts related to childhood? You know how I always have say, "You have to write your pain out of your body?"

Well guess what? I've got a book project and proposal brewing. It will expand on what I wrote in Writing from the Heart.

 (Writing from the Heart: Tapping the Power of Your Inner Voice can be ordered via  Zero Toys )

(Writing from the Heart: Tapping the Power of Your Inner Voice can be ordered via Zero Toys)

There will be research as well about the impact of childhood adversity, trauma and how writing and being witnessed heals. That's where my co-collaborator Christine "Cissy" White comes in. She's a writer, friend (has been my assistant too).

Cissy likes all the studies and data. You can find details about her writing and activism at Heal Write Now.

We both know writing is healing. We aim to let those carrying childhood pain into adult lives, bodies, hearts and souls know too. 

Our working title is: Your Childhood is Making you Fat, Sick & Dead: Write to Heal.

It will include all I have felt, seen, experienced, witnessed and heard about how and why writing heals childhood wounds and helps hearts heal.

Call for Submissions / YOUR Writing

We would love you to contribute.

We will be including 30 essays from Writing from the Heart workshop alumns.

Do you want to participate?

The prompt will be the same for everyone. It's the one that always calls up home. I give it first at most workshops. "Dinner at My House Was..."

  • Keep Word Count to 1000 words or less

    • Older piece written to this prompt is fine as long as it has not been published anywhere else.

    • Deadline: August 21st, 2015 (extended from June)

    • You can use your full name, initials or write anonymously.

  • We will choose 30 essays for the book relating to childhood neglect, abuse or dysfunction. 

    • ALL the writing will be shared on my website over the next several months.

  • We'd love to hear in a page or less how Writing from the Heart (the writing process or the workshop) impacted you and your healing.

    • Testimonials and insights about how writing from the heart has helped your healing to 300 words. 

  • Please send your writing to cissy_white@comcast.net

We can't wait to hear from you.

All my love!
Nance

Home: Prompt 10

From Ram Dass Love, Serve, Remember Foundation:

"One day I was sitting in a motel in middle America, and it was one of those really plastic Holiday Inn type places, and I had arrived and I went into my room and I sat down and set up my little puja table and you know, all that stuff. Moving the menu and stuff, and it was kind of depressing, and I thought, “Well, a few more weeks and I'll be done with this tour and I can go home.” And then I saw the pain that that thought was creating for me.

So I got up and I walked out of the room, closed the door, walked down the hall, turned around, came back, unlocked the door and yelled, “I’m home!” And I came in and I sat down, and I looked and, you know, I wouldn’t have decorated particularly this way, but what the hell, you know? I thought, if I’m not at home in the universe, boy, I got a problem. If I say, “I can only be home here, not there.”

What is home? Home is where the heart is. Home is the quality of presence. It’s the quality of being wherever you are."

Prompt: Where is YOUR HOME?

SHARE YOUR WRITING. YOU KNOW THE RULES:

1. Write for ten minutes without stopping, thinking or censoring yourself.

2. Post your writing in the comments below this post.

3. Include what classes you've taken (and when) and a short bio if you like. 

4. PLEASE comment on my piece and the work of others. We all know how that feels! Just hit the "reply" icon on the top at the right within their comment so it posts right underneath the writing. 

If you have any trouble posting a comment, please feel free to get in touch with Cissy, cissy_white@comcast.net and she will help you.

The Stories We Tell Ourselves: Prompt 8

A few years ago I took a workshop with Jack Kornfield the wise and wonderful Buddhist teacher. One of the things he talked about was the stories we tell ourselves to ourselves (about ourselves).

The morning after his lecture I was walking around the Kripalu trail. There had been a dusting of snow and I slipped and I fell. I learned so much from that fall. The first thing I did was look around to see if anyone saw me. God forbid I should be seen in a vulnerable state.

The next thing I did was take my boot off and put snow on my swelling ankle and began to hobble back to the main building. As I was hobbling I was thinking Well of course I fell. I have weak ankles.

Which then led me back to Jack's words. 

Wait a minute I thought. Wait just a New York minute. I don't have weak ankles. My sister has weak ankles.

And I wanted to be her. She was my idol. I wanted to have everything she had - including her weaknesses.

I started laughing right there. I made a vow to talk to have a talk with my ankles which are responding like steel girders. They are so happy to be redeemed. All those years of not ice skating because I was so sure I wouldn't be able to hold myself up.

When I got home I employed an 11-year old to teach me to skate. I'm not saying I'm ready for the Olympics but the fear is gone.

And the power has returned.

So now the prompt:

Prompt # 8: Write about a story you have been telling yourself that no longer serves you. 

SHARE YOUR WRITING. YOU KNOW THE RULES:

1. Write for ten minutes without stopping, thinking or censoring yourself.

2. Post your writing in the comments below this post.

3. Include what classes you've taken (and when) and a short bio if you like. 

4. PLEASE comment on my piece and the work of others. We all know how that feels! Just hit the "reply" icon on the top at the right within their comment so it posts right underneath the writing. 

If you have any trouble posting a comment, please feel free to get in touch with Cissy, cwhite@healwritenow.com and she will help you.

How I Deal With Social Injustice.... Prompt 7

I just came out of Cronig's where organic strawberries were $15.37 a pint!!!! I didn't buy them. Just like last week when I was appalled that cherry tomatoes were seven something a pound.

I turn on NPR and the story is about how wages for MIGRANT PICKERS HASN'T INCREASED IN EIGHT YEARS !!!

So I didn't get the berries and I didn't get the tomatoes. Am I cutting my nose to spite my face? Who am I hurting? There is so much injustice in the world. I don't know how to justify little luxuries and big disparities.

HOW ARE YOU GUYS DOING IT?? Please write and tell me!!!

WRITING PROMPT: How I deal with social injustice....

Please Share Your Writing:

  • Write for ten minutes without stopping, thinking or censoring yourself. 

  • Post your writing in the comments below this blog post.

  • Include what classes you've taken (when, where?)

  • Leave comments for others (we ALL know how GOOD that feels).

  • Questions? Contact: Cissy cwhite@healwritenow.com

 

Prompt 6: Inspired by the Life & Poetry of Margaret "Peggy" Freydberg: What Dream is Next for You?

Excerpt from Vanity Fair, IN MEMORIAM, APRIL 8, 2015 1:00 PM, by Nancy Slonim Aronie

                                       Photo Credit: Eli Dagostino

                                      Photo Credit: Eli Dagostino

Margaret “Peggy” Freydberg lived in a cottage on Martha’s Vineyard and wrote beautiful, visual, introspective poetry that only a small circle of friends knew about. Her latest collection, Poems from the Pondedited by Laurie David, will be released later this month. Freydberg died on March 27, a few weeks after her 107th birthday. Her friend and fellow writer Nancy Slonim Aronie remembers Peggy, whose writing career was just about to launch. Read more...

PROMPT #6: What dream is next for you?

Please Share Your Writing; Write for ten minutes without stopping, thinking or censoring yourself. Post your writing in the comments below thIS blog post. Include what classes you've taken (when, where?) & Leave comments for otherS (we ALL know how GOOD that feels).  Questions or Trouble Posting? Contact:  Cissy: cwhite@healwritenow.com 

Prompt # 5: What Would You Do?

My parents argued about money. The light bill, the gas bill, the rent. My mother spent nothing, but my father made nothing, He owned a carpet store  in a multi ethnic, mostly Puerto Rican very poor neighborhood in Hartford Ct. He loved everyone and everyone loved him. My mother would take a bus from her second job as receptionist at Schultzes Beauty Salon and get to my father’s store at around six to find him sitting at his big oak desk smoking his Lucky Strikes. He would confess that he had sold the Grecian Key “from the looms of Mohawk” 100 percent wool, his most expensive rug in the place for below cost because  “the couple was broke and adorable.” My poor mother had a Robin Hood on her hands except he was stealing from the poor (us) to give to the poorer (them).

My husband and I don’t argue about money. We don’t argue about which movies to go to what food to eat which friends to hang with.

We argue about the Ethicist from the New York Times magazine. This week the story began like this:

On public transportation a young man entered my train car and made an announcement requesting money to pay for medication he needed.. Three college–age men teamed up to contribute around $20.00. After the man left the car, a person sitting next to the trio told the men that the man was actually a scammer who used the pitch on a regular basis. Upon hearing this the men looked crestfallen. Did the onlooker have the right to devalue their charity? Should he have intervened while the money was being offered? Should he have stayed silent afterward?

I immediately say, "He never should have said a word."

Joel says, "Are you kidding me!!!! Of course he should have told them."

I said, "But why ruin the feeling the kids had of being generous?"

He says, "They have the right to know."

I say, "When would you have told them?"

"That’s a good question," my husband says. Thinking. "Well now you're talking confrontation," he says, "The guy could wield a knife or a gun or something, I guess I would tell them after."

Again, I repeat, "But why take away that good feeling of what they had just done?"

"Because," he says, "They won't make the same mistake next time."

Many years ago I was in New Haven on the way to the theatre with my son Josh. He was high school age. A young man came running up to us holding his broken glasses shaking and breathless. He said, "I was just mugged. They broke my glasses. They stole all my money. I need to get to Albany. I have no bus fare."

I said, "How much do you need?" and he said "forty-one dollars and 78 cents."

I immediately reached into my pocket and gave it to  him. He thanked me profusely and I felt so lucky that I could help.

When we got to the play Josh said, "You know that was a scam, Mom."

I said, "No it wasn’t."

I kept thinking what if I had been scammed? At intermission I said even if it were a scam I’d rather be the one to fall for it than the one needing to do it. The play ended and as we were walking back to our car we saw the guy across the street holding his broken glasses talking to another couple.

"What did I tell you?" Josh said. I stood and waited for the guy to finish.

And then I crossed over and I said, "I just want you to know how hurt I feel and how wrong what you’re doing is."

He didn’t respond.

On the way home Josh said, "I hope you wont fall for stuff like that again."

And I said, "I hope I always fall for stuff like that again. And again."

" But mom," he said, "You just lost forty bucks."

And I said, "I didn’t lose anything. I didn’t lose my innocence which has no dollar value. I didn’t lose my optimism and I managed to not become a walking cynic. That guy wasn’t able to take the good feeling of giving away from me."

My husband is shaking his head now. Reminding me of that incident in new Haven.

And I am reiterating one more time I'd rather be scammed than walk around suspicious and wondering.

We can't agree on this one.

The Ethicist agreed with Joel.

Fine. Let the two of them wallow in their worry.

Me? I am grateful that we have the luxury of arguing about an article in the NY Times.

And not about the light bill.  

Prompt # 4: What would you do in either one of these situations? Or write about the last time someone asked me for money..... 

SHARE YOUR WRITING WITH THE COMMUNITY. YOU KNOW THE RULES:

1. Write for ten minutes without stopping, thinking or censoring yourself.

2. Post your writing in the comments below this post.

3. Include what classes you've taken (and when) and a short bio if you like. 

4. PLEASE comment on my piece and the work of others. We all know how that feels! Just hit the "reply" icon on the top at the right within their comment so it posts right underneath the writing. 

IF YOU HAVE ANY TROUBLE POSTING A COMMENT, FEEL FREE TO GET IN TOUCH WITH MY ASSISTANT, CISSY: CWHITE@HEALWRITENOW.COM