in celebration of surviving

Two years ago, I started the new year with a poem.

I know quite a few people for whom 2015 simply sucked. Knocked the wind right out of them. Pulled them under and left them gasping for air.

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It came like a blur for us in the winter and spring and then slammed on the brakes in the fall. The adrenaline, exhaustion, and excitement of planning a wedding culminated in the most joyful day of my life on May 16 when I married the Artist.

Things slowed to a good rhythm over the summer, as we settled into my apartment together and either got back to or started work. And then the fall hit us with a devastating wait for my husband’s work permit, something we are still waiting and hoping for.

So I chose this poem for all who felt like they just survived the past year. Sure, we’d all prefer to be thriving, but I like that this poet makes space to celebrate even the surviving.

And there’s always hope. The second or twenty-third wind is coming. May you catch it this year.

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in celebration of surviving
by Chuck Miller

when senselessness has pounded you around on the ropes
and you’re getting too old to hold out for the future
no work and running out of money,
and then you make a try after something that you know you won’t get
and this long shot comes through on the stretch
in a photo finish of your heart’s trepidation
then for a while
even when the chill factor of these prairie winters puts it at fifty below
you’re warm and have that old feeling
of being a comer, though belated
in the crazy game of life

standing in the winter night
emptying the garbage and looking at the stars
you realize that although the odds are fantastically against you
when that single January shooting star
flung its wad in the maw of night
it was yours
and though the years are edged with crime and squalor
the second wind, or twenty-third
is coming strong
and for a time
perhaps a very short time
one lives as though in a golden envelope of light

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Festival of Lights

The theme of light has come full circle for me this year. I began 2013 with a poem for the new year, a poem of light, and I have ended the year surrounded by over a million twinkling lights in the beautiful city of Vancouver that I moved to in May.

Here are some images from the Festival of Lights at VanDusen Botanical Garden, which you may recognize from this post on the Touch Wood sculpture exhibition that I went to in September. It was great to see the Gardens in a completely different season, or, if I may use the à propos pun, in a whole new light.

Thanks for journeying with me through another year on this blog. Wishing you much light, love, and learning in the New Year. See you back here in 2014!

A Poem for the New Year

I have a poem and a picture I want to share with you to usher in 2013.

Maybe it’s an odd choice (the poem) because it has nothing to do with New Year’s resolutions and everything to do with a new way of seeing, yet isn’t that what a new year is for? I, like many others, have external things in my life I want to see change, but I think equally important is all the internal stuff — the place I look out from when I look at and respond to the world. I don’t want this place to be static.

I love this poem because it shows movement — internally. You can tell this from reading the title. How the speaker saw light at 32 is not how he saw it at 25 or 18, and not how he will see it at 40, 57, 86. We could all write our own versions of this poem at our various stages. This is his.

Light, At Thirty-Two by Michael Blumenthal

It is the first thing God speaks of
when we meet Him, in the good book
of Genesis. And now, I think
I see it all in terms of light:

How, the other day at dusk
on Ossabaw Island, the marsh grass
was the color of the most beautiful hair
I had ever seen, or how—years ago
in the early-dawn light of Montrose Park—
I saw the most ravishing woman
in the world, only to find, hours later
over drinks in a dark bar, that it
wasn’t she who was ravishing,
but the light: how it filtered
through the leaves of the magnolia
onto her cheeks, how it turned
her cotton dress to silk, her walk
to a tour-jeté.

And I understood, finally,
what my friend John meant,
twenty years ago, when he said: Love
is keeping the lights on. And I understood
why Matisse and Bonnard and Gauguin
and Cézanne all followed the light:
Because they knew all lovers are equal
in the dark, that light defines beauty
the way longing defines desire, that
everything depends on how light falls
on a seashell, a mouth … a broken bottle.

And now, I’d like to learn
to follow light wherever it leads me,
never again to say to a woman, YOU
are beautiful, but rather to whisper:
Darling, the way light fell on your hair
this morning when we woke—God,
it was beautiful. Because, if the light is right,
then the day and the body and the faint pleasures
waiting at the window … they too are right.
All things lovely there. As that first poet wrote,
in his first book of poems: Let there be light.

Inspired by the poem, I took this photograph the other day, fascinated how light plays images like hands play sounds                                                                                     these are the faint pleasures waiting at my window                                                          the space I play, write, wonder                                                                                        this picture is my poem to light                                                                                          an entrance to the new year

keys to my world