I did something this morning that I haven’t done for a long time. When I was teaching, I created what I called Journey Stones. They were polymer clay in lots of variegated colors, flattened into somewhat round shapes, and each had a word carved into them, before being baked to stone-like hardness. I used them in class to help people get on the page and stay there.
I made a lot of them. It was a quiet, comfortable past time, that was very relaxing. I still have many of them in a large tin in my library, but also a small basket on a bedside table. When I woke up this morning, I knew I had to come here and create a new post. Problem was, I’ve been doing mostly poetry of late, and it was hard to wrap my head around a prose essay that might be meaningful. Every time an idea would pop into my head, it would start dancing around and forming itself into poetic lines and phrases.
I looked at the basket on the bedside table and went for it. The word I pulled from the basket was learning. Have certainly been doing a great deal of that lately. Thought about maybe writing something about the learning process, like the four steps involved, but I’ve done that already and its here, buried somewhere in the archives. Also considered writing about the two ways of knowing that contribute equally to the learning process, but again, have already covered some of that in another essay.
Then realized that it might be interesting to just list some of the things I, myself have been learning while writing all of that poetry. Some of it is relearning, revisiting what one has already come to know, but that might have slipped away into the darkness that borders awareness and can become forgetting. This will be a mixture of the two, maybe a bit more.
1. Misunderstanding is very easy when one has only words read on a monitor screen. There is no tone of voice to give inflection, no face to reveal expression, and no hand, body, or head movements to offer some sort of emphasis.
2. Poetry can be found in everything: images, sounds, tastes, and touches. The world is full of all of these and more. One but has to be receptive.
3. Poetry can be found even inside of well ordered and thoughtful prose. A dangling phrase, a particular sound that two words make as they rub up against one another, that makes the ear tickle and begin to whisper.
4. Words can be healing, soothing, strident, and even dangerous, arousing feelings long dormant or buried. They really do have power and a certain aura of magic about them.
5. That magic within the words can be compelling, seductive, and terribly addictive. My name is Elizabeth and I am a Wordaholic.
6. A few words of praise, sprinkled around can brighten a rather dull cloudy day, and open doors that have been locked for years.
7. And one negative intonation can sweep all of that out the door with one swift swishhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.
8. I can survive on less sleep. But, doubt the same is true for less ice cream.
9. The world inside my computer is not the same as the world that exists outside my window, and certainly not the one outside my door.
10. I like writing letters, but get antsy waiting for a reply.
11. People get moody and quiet when you are enjoying something they don’t understand and don’t care to.
12. There are an infinite number of very good poets and writers out there. That one is humbling.
13. Everything, every last jot and tittle of a written piece, says something about the writer.
14. That means I can’t hide behind a wall of words. Damn.
15. I can and often do read the spaces between the letters and the words, without always being aware of doing so.
16. My journal pages are getting shorter of late, in a rush to get to more important things.
17. I should be worried about that.
18. I am.
19. I love writing poetry.
20. I hate doing dishes.
21. I now have a lot of poetry, and even more dirty dishes.
22. It might be a good idea to make a list of priorities.
23. It is fun to learn new ways of doing old things.
24. There is no new way to do dishes.
25. I can probably write a poem about ice cream: a list of the flavors.
26. I could possibly write a poem about washing the dishes.
27. This list is getting too long.
28. There might be a letter in the mailbox. You’ll be disappointed if there isn’t.
29. Creativity is a flow of energy that affects every molecule of the being.
30. Happiness is writing a poem after doing the dishes, and topping it all off with a dish of ice cream.
No new way to do dishes, but one can:
Put lots of hand cream on and then those rubber gloves.
Turn the lights down low and light a candle
Practice mindfulness, be in the moment
Use paper plates and plastic utensils (so un-green).
Blast one’s favorite music and move while one scrubs 🙂
PS There is a great caribbean song about all the flavors of ice cream (metaphorically, that is).
Jane, when I went through the list you created, I started laughing because, all together they sounded like you were suggesting that I get ready for some secret lover, who could only get away one night every two weeks, lol. Just couldn’t think why I’d need the rubber gloves, but I was willing to work with them in some imaginative manner.Sorry, just had to tell you that.
I understand what you are saying, but my problem isn’t just the normal angst for a much despised chore. I have a very weak back and when I do the dishes, that means standing for a bit of time, which creates a lot of pain. Which means I have to do the things in shifts and sit or rest in between. It just seems to go one forever, when it shouldn’t take more than ten minutes tops. And I do use paper plates frequently, but can’t abide plastic silverware. But a few of your suggestions sound like good ideas. I’ll pass on the rubber gloves, but may try the music.
Not preparing for one’s lover, but treating oneself as specially as one would treat a lover is part of the idea.
On a practical level–the rubber gloves aren’t part of a kinky sexual practice (although I am a fan), but have been a necessity for me to avoid getting very dried skin from the hot water. The skin cream has been a little two-for-the-price-of-one, or turning necessity into luxury.
To help reduce pain, I have found it helpful to either sit on a bar stool while washing dishes or put one foot on a telephone book to reduce the pressure.
One goal I have for myself at this point (just turned 61), is to make life as luxurious and self-honoring as possible, to turn my every day activities into opportunities for living fully and well. It is also about making every moment more complete and more mindful.
Hi Jane, and yes, I understood what you were saying and the value to be found in treating oneself in that lover-like manner. And all too often, I simply forget to do so. But, I didn’t think of the bar stool and will definiely look the next time I’m at Goodwill, that would make a tremendous difference. I can remember, as a child, getting very dreamy and even playful while doing that dreaded chore. I need to go back to that state of mind, or being. There was once, a sense of playfulness there that needs to be recaptured. And, by doing that, I think the rest of it will fall into place. Thanks so much for sharing all of your wonderful ideas. I thought I was just being a bit of a smart-ass in writing about it. But, you and your thoughtful response have awakened a very important issue that needs to be addressed.
This list is absolutely delicious Elizabeth. Your list is just like your bowl of stones, delightfully. And it makes me want to respond too much! That said, caution please meet wind, and hello.
I once had a small altar of sorts, a private thing. The right number of candles, few crystals for imagining, a jar for collecting prayers. Last time I moved, it never came back to light, think poems have taken its place. So my poems are now my stones.
That said, a few responses of my own (mostly just because I wanna play).
One. Yes, yes, misunderstanding abounds, yet understanding has never been all about the words, nor inflection, nor tilt of head even though they too have something to add. It is about the experience we share and that bridge is made and crossed with two legs. One is love and the other is love. (And getting to love ain’t so hard, but staying there, well that’s why we have two, balance I mean, found and lost and found again, like walking is.) (Oh, how serious!)
Two. And our very lives are poems too!
Three. Words rubbing against each other is a delightful friction.
Four. Words have such power because they reflect our true nature. Scary huh! Yet wonderful when we notice that! (Or maybe I’m easily impressed?)
Five. Oh yea, and I hope it’s contagious!
Six. Being generous all around is never a mistake.
Seven. Negating sentiments hurt because we are all empathetic. Really, we are. (We oft say we’re untouched, immune, but it’s a lie.)
Eight. Ice cream has always been a good idea.
Nine. True enough for me as well. Different people know me differently. But to some fair measure, that’s my fault – what I’m willing to show. I think the goal is to be the same person everywhere. (Less confusing certainly.) And I knew a man (maybe three) who was that way, consistently. So I know that’s true.
Ten. Waiting for most anything! (Maybe an addiction of mine.) This is a lesson I’ve paid attention to for years and years. I think the lesson is to give yourself away so completely that there’s really nothing that must be given back in reply. (And a key of relationship I think.) (Tough one though the way we are commonly culturally miseducated.)
Eleven. So be it. (Although maybe I’m being too harsh.)
Twelve. I agree. Read this (by Dale Favier) and be glad. Really really. More poetry
Thirteen. True. And every rock, every leaf too.
Fourteen. Scary but gracefully true! (Of course many of us read from behind our own walls, pretending to be invisible. Hiding only really works with the blind like that.) By nature the world was made to be visible. What fun otherwise!
Fifteen. Yep. Spaces are meaningful too. Else no music, no us either.
Twenty-four. Doing dishes with someone else is all together something else. (But I understand why and what you mean.)
Twenty-seven. Me too. (But I’m having fun!)
Thirty. Great resolution!
your playfulness is more than welcome. It carries with it a great deal of wisdom. And that is needed as well as welcomed. Instead of answering you point for point however, I will say this. I did do some dishes yesterday, after writing this. My daughter, however, relieved me half way through, and that was more than a bit appreciated.
I didn’t write a poem, although there is one definitely dancing around in the back forty. Instead, I wrote a rather long letter, and by doing so, gained a new friend. And, most importantly, I had that ice cream which was really nice because I hadn’t had any for two days.
I’m glad that you agree with the resolution I came to. What’s more, I believe I was rewarded for acting on it immediately. A very special reward which I have desired for many years and can scarce believe has happened. I also read the post that you suggested and so graciously left the site for. Wonderful and meaty enough to warrant a few more readings. Thank you. But, thank you even more for the willingness to play. The older I get, the more I think that might be the one important thing I have learned in all these years. Playing is an absolute necessity. Thank you Neil for all of this. I will come back again and again because of the wisdom you have shared, and the playfulness you entered into.
That would be Number Six, and thank you for allowing me to play!
Neil, you are more than welcomed. As a matter of fact, I intend to do the same with your post of earlier today. It might take a bit, but keep your eye on your mailbox…
Thank you Jingle. I like awesome a lot. And not too long ago, would have run for the back forty, and buried myself under a mountain of words, to avoid having it aimed at me under any circumstances. Which, I think means, I’m growing, learning, reaching for more, and that is exciting.
Elizabeth, I enjoyed reading your list. I may very well do one of my own someday, but like yours, my words seem to want to play in the poetry field these days. For now, then, a couple of thoughts triggered by your list will have to suffice (I know, I know…):
13: the spaces too say something about the writer
15: and sometimes, make that often, the spaces speak louder than the words
14: ah! that might explain my thirty years in the desert of not-writing
20: I don’t know when it started, but I love doing dishes
20a: most everybody I know thinks I’m nuts to love doing dishes
20b: lines of poetry not infrequently come to me while I’m doing dishes (hm, or having a bath – never equated those two before, both water-based…)
Ok, ’nuff! This is your blog. 🙂
1. And you are warmly welcomed at any time. I can only hope that you believe that and how deeply sincere the sentiment is behind it.
2.about 13 and 15, I thought that was my little secret, but you and Neil have poked a hole in my balloon. No, I’m not crying about that, rather pointing it out to you while trying to follow its fast dizzying race away into just another piece of limp plastic, weeee!
3 #14 stands for itself, lol. You said it, I didn’t.
4. about 20,a,and b, So does that mean if I invited you over, you’d do mine? How much do you charge? And, do you realize the symbolizm in your statement? That when you willingly enter into life(always symbolized by water), you always pull forth poems. Poems are so many things that most people don’t even recognize them, even when they hold them in their own two hands. Poems like soft soap bubbles reflecting the prism colors of any and all light that might fall upon them. Poems are rainbows, anchored by promises, secrets kept by leprauchan poets racing around trying not to tell, too much.
See what you do? I love it,
3 #14 stands for itself, lol. You said it, I didn’t.
Yes, I said it – and the words you put on the page are so often mine…
4. about 20,a,and b,…
I don’t charge for doing dishes, but won’t do ’em without rubber gloves, won’t do ’em if it’s taken for granted that I will, either. 😉 I’m the same with mowing lawns, looking after other people’s kids, who knows what else? And about the symbolism, yes… Life is a poem, init?
Ruth, so often I come to your site and find my own thoughts, words, even experiences. The differences are only in the small details. Instead of being scary, which I think it would be to many, I find comfort and a satisfying warmth in all of it.
So, if I get the money together, buy a ticket, bring in all the supplies for fresh salads, maybe a bit of libation, and of course a tub of ice cream, I can still hope? I can make you a few promises though, no lawns to mow, or children to look after. When the grandkids come they bring their mother for that, and we actually have a maintainance crew that does a splendid job on the lawns. But, I’m sorry cause that still comes down to the dishes.
And life would not be life, without poems, yes!
Hi Elizabeth, I found this list very inspiring & heart-warming. I particularly liked no. 3 about poetry appearing in prose; I don’t write poetry myself but aspire to write prose/essays that read poetically, in the sense you describe, of including phrases and sentences that evoke some feeling, boil something down to its essence.
I can also relate to points 6 & 7 – sensitive soul that I am, I’m quickly buoyed by words of praise but just as quickly brought back down by criticism or even what I perceive as criticism/ignorance.
I’ll be bookmarking this post as something inspiring to come back.
Lonergrrrl, I started writing with poetry. Never even considered prose because I was told that the rules said that if you attempted both, one or both of the genres would suffer. I came to know otherwise. When poetry would sneak into my prose, I would go back and sweep it away, and then end up sounding stiff and somewhat dogmatic. When prose slipped into the poetry I did the same for opposite reasons. Finally realized that I actually have a liking for both and to hell with the Mythmakers’ rules. It’s my voice and it is both poetic and prosaic. All I need do is relax and let it happen. When I do, I usually like the outcome.
However, what I was actually talking about in number 3, is the delight I feel when I stumble upon very real poetic inspiration while reading serious prose in non-fiction readings, and more often in fiction. I underline them, another Mythmaker rule about debasing pages in a book, I let go of long ago.
So now anyway, I know you love ice cream!
Time for one further note of appreciation – for the dance you do with prose and poems Elizabeth. Actually, prose was how I began, but prose that was much connected to images set loose, becoming poetic within their more somber stance. That’s what got me first excited about writing. (But that was long long ago.)
And now, in no small thanks to you, I am looking at prose-and-poems again. I have in fact a piece in progress – some things I write deep in the night, half-awake, or is it half-asleep? Almost a sort of brief poem journal (I’ll hope). It seems to want some more before I call it done (for now, till next). I’ll let you know when it decides to become visible.
With my thanks, Neil
Ice cream, yes, it is a particular failing of mine. But then, writing is as well. I dream every night, and most of my dreams now weave themselves around writing, be it poetry or prose. Sometimes wake up and come to the computer before fully alert and continue to write what I was dreaming about. Or, what I was dreaming about informs whatever I choose to write about in the moment. I find it intriguing how the human mind, mine in particular works.
And I got lost in yet another poetry site today, Poets United. Am interested in their Pantry, where one can post old poems revisited or that have never seen daylight. I own a great many of them and its an opportunity to give some of those old pieces a chance at an audience. I did one to their current prompt on the word pain. Old poem that I added a new stanza to. And really like it. It’s at the Soul’s Music site. But, two days ago did a prose essay about the beginnings of my Personal Mythology for Magpie Tales prompt. I love the dance between the two and love debunking that old Myth that one writer should not do both forms. And the blogosphere is a place to try that on and see if it fits. Hope you let me know when your half-awake/half-asleep pieces find visibility. Will be waiting,
30. Ah, but is it ‘Death By Chocolate’ the best chocolate ice cream in the world. It is important that ice cream afficionados have this information.
Lol, Rallendtanda, would you believe that as a child, I wouldn’t touch chocolate ice cream? Couldn’t figure out why anyone would actually prefer it. However, recently found an entirely new world of chocolate mixtures. Ahh, alas, I am definitely no longer a child!
pick three awards from my post,
pass them to 1 to 10 blogging friends with whom you believe that they deserve them.
Take good care.
Thank you, Jingle.
please feel free to take the awards in the post , share each award with 1 to 10 friends,
Awards 4 u
Again, thank you Jingle, but I’m having touble importing them to my sidebar. I did explain that to you last time. The link doesn’t seem to be functional at this time. Sorry, but thank you for gifting me in such a manner.
I LOVE the little stone idea…seems to me that all Poets have a creative side to them..or would have if only they’d try.You are very wise.
Connetta, the first class I taught was titled Connecting With Your Creativity Through Writing. Writing is a creative expression, although there are those who might argue that one, it was, is, and always will be a cornerstone of my existence. I find that writing is soul satisfying as nothing else can be, but also find that writing often sends me into other creative endeavors. Poetry is the creation of music with words. My poetry blog is titled Soul’s Music, and I consider my poems my soul songs. I love it when poets get together because one can almost sniff the creative energy flowing in and through that space.
Glad you like the stones idea. They are simple to make and are a very relaxing experience,