Saturday, October 17, 2009

Life (Will Kimbrough)

John Lennon was right - Life really *is* what happens to you when you're busy making other plans (weak smile)...

Thanks to everyone who's been worried about me, and got in touch, one way or another, to let me know - your concern is justified. Hard to believe it's been almost three weeks since I posted - as I just responded to a comment from a friend, after my mom's passing I seem to be segueing from the stages of shock and numb to depression, and have been spending a lot of time in my head, processing. It's all destined for a future blog post (soon, I promise!) but, in the meantime, I wrote up most of the following the week after our September 30 book club meeting... and then never got around to uploading it - it still holds true... maybe even more so, considering my current state of mind...


Your horoscope for October 6, 2009

If you keep waiting and waiting for things to happen, SUSAN, you may wake up one morning and realize that your whole life has gone by and you never did half the things that you dreamed of doing. The time to take action is now so put your plan into effect. You may need to make some compromises, but you will find that in general, people will willingly follow your lead.

...and, for the week of October 4:

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): Change your password. Take a different way home. Ask a question you've never asked. Dream up a new nickname for yourself. Choose a new lucky number. Change the way you tell the story about an important event in your past. Make it a little more difficult for people to have you pegged. Eat a type of food you've never tried. Do the research necessary to discover why one of your opinions may be wrong. Add a new step to your grooming ritual. Feel appreciation for a person whose charms you've become numb to. Surprise yourself at least once a day.

Last week was our book club meeting, the first back together after having taken the summer off - I love this diverse, funny, kind circle of women who are wise in literature and in ways of the heart. It was my turn to host and to choose the book... and I picked Life is a Verb by Patti Digh - it's had quite an impact on me the last almost-year and I wanted to share the ephiphany-inducing collection of stories...

"In October 2003, Patti Digh’s stepfather was diagnosed with lung cancer. He died 37 days later. The timeframe made an impression on her. What emerged was a commitment to ask herself every morning: What would I be doing today if I had only 37 days left to live? The answers changed her life and led to this new kind of book. Part meditation, part how-to guide, part memoir, Life is a Verb is all heart.

Within these pages—enhanced by original artwork and wide, inviting margins ready to be written in—Digh identifies six core practices to jump-start a meaningful life: Say Yes, Trust Yourself, Slow Down, Be Generous, Speak Up, and Love More. Within this framework she supplies 37 edgy, funny, and literary life stories, each followed by a “do it now” 10-minute exercise as well as a practice to try for 37 days—and perhaps the rest of your life."

I've said that there were no regrets with my mom's passing... but there has been a minor one - I sent her this book last January after I visited and, when I was there this summer, caregiving, I had every intention of reading parts of it aloud so we could discuss. Time and energy (or rather, lack of both) intervened, and I never got around to it - so... I asked each of our bookwomen to choose a section that "spoke" to them and encapsulate it for the group - I am pleased to say everyone exceeded my expectations, and the conversation was quite stimulating, deep and, at times, emotional...

These days, I'm really trying to embrace be-here-now, seize-the-day, enjoy-the-moment mode - in fact, I made a mix of relevant songs and gave everyone a copy during our gathering. The point of the book (and my selection of it) is, in Patti's words, "about living each individual, glorious day with more intention. It was simply about saying yes, being generous, more fully inhabiting the life I have, not creating a new one."

Our menu consisted of food that made us feel "alive"... and the array was delicious and inspiring - we topped it off with dessert from B.J.'s, which I discovered a few weeks ago and declared it the best carrot cake I've ever eaten (you can really taste the nutmeg!)...

P.S. Apropos of nothing... although I've not been posting my contributions here (as I used to), I still write for the weekly-themed Star Maker Machine music blog, and last week's topic was Domestic Violence and Sexual Abuse - it was an educational and inspirational exercise in which I was proud to participate...

POEM: Following the Road by Larry Smith

I have left my wife at the airport,
flying out to help our daughter
whose baby will not eat.
And I am driving on to Kent
to hear some poets read tonight.

I don't know what to do with myself
when she leaves me like this.
An old friend has decided to
end our friendship. Another
is breaking it off with his wife.

I don't know what to say
to any of this-Life's hard.
And I say it aloud to myself,
Living is hard, and drive further
into the darkness, my headlights
only going so far.

I sense my own tense breath, this fear
we call stress, making it something else,
hiding from all that is real.

As I glide past Twin Lakes,
flat bodies of water under stars,
I hold the wheel gently, slowing my
body to the road, and know again that
this is just living, not a trauma
nor dying, but a lingering pain
reminding us that we are alive.

QUOTE: "The only dream worth having is to dream that you will live while you are alive, and die only when you are dead. To love, to be loved. To never forget your own insignificance. To never get used to the unspeakable violence and vulgar disparity of the life around you. To seek joy in the saddest places. To pursue beauty to its lair. To never simplify what is complicated or complicate what is simple. To respect strength, never power. Above all to watch. To try and understand. To never look away. And never, never to forget." ~ Arundhati Roy


  1. So good to see you posting, and am sooo happy that we were able to get together yesterday. It was a wonderful lunch, Susan, a mixture of laughter & tears...I'm always here, my friend. xoxoxo

  2. Hey, M ~

    Yesterday was *exactly* what I needed - thanks for knowing that... and for your listening ears and strong shoulders, even as you traverse this path about five months ahead of me. I *do* know you are always there - I consider myself very lucky... <3