Morning Ritual **

Every morning the woman would wake before her husband.  She would leave him behind, snoring, and make her way to the kitchen to make him his coffee.  Once the coffee was brewing, she’d go out to her garden.

One grey morning in May, she heard the back door open and close.  She looked up from a stubborn weed she had been working to see her husband standing on the back porch, coffee in hand.  Happy for the company, she looked back to the weed.

“I think we should end this,” he said.  She was gripping at the stubborn weed in her right hand, pushing the earth with her left until it let go with a final tug and she tossed it to the side.  She sat back on her heels. They had been together for twenty-two years.  They had grooved into their routine.  She spent most days gardening or running errands and he spent his days doing whatever it was he did.  She wasn’t sure.  He went out with the boys twice a week, on Tuesday’s and Thursday’s and she’d do laundry, or read, or knit.  She enjoyed knitting, even in the summer.  She felt her heart flutter, skip a beat and her stomach felt tight.  She gasped a little for her breath.  “What?” she said.  She gulped for air. “What?”

coffee mug garden

The next morning the house was quiet.  The day before, her husband had packed his clothes, toiletries and his favorite vinyl records in boxes, loaded them into the back of his pick up truck and drove away. She walked into the kitchen and filled the red teakettle.  She sat at the kitchen table staring out at her garden waiting for the kettle to boil.  She noticed her husband had left his favorite coffee mug on the back porch

**This was a piece I wrote this year in the poet Richard Jones‘ workshop.
He is an amazing poet and teacher.

Gratitude-O’Clock

It’s been one of those weeks.  You know the ones.  Two steps forward takes you to what seems like three steps back.

“Is it Mercury in retrograde or what?” I say to the sky, the sofa, the cats.  No one’s home to listen.  It’s just me, the computer and all the disconnections, the disconnects, the turnarounds, changed minds, the mud I am slogging through.

I want a do-over.  A re-boot.

Where am I today? Same place I was yesterday.  Safe, loved, fed, comfortable, in love, breathing.

It’s gratitude-o’clock.  Platitude? Seems like it.  Most things that are good and true are simple.

I woke up too early, tired and my eyes hurt.  But it’s gratitude-o’clock so good!  I’m grateful that I can see.  I’m grateful that I have cool glasses (I didn’t always, welcome to my childhood).

Gratitude-o’clock.  I woke up.  Get my drift?  I woke up. Another platitude? Maybe, but hey, who am I to judge?

I have an alert on my phone; today I will judge nothing that occurs. 

Someone cancels an interview I jumped through hoops to schedule for them.  Today I will judge nothing that occurs.  A candidate lied to me about sending their resume to my client.  Today I will judge nothing that occurs.  My SD card on my phone is wiped and I might have lost some great pictures.  Today I will judge nothing that occurs.

Gratitude-o’clock.

Today I will judge nothing that occurs.

THANK YOU NEXT

That’s really all I can do.  Pick up the phone, make 10 more calls.  Find another candidate, one that won’t lie, one that won’t flip flop (good thing she isn’t running for office).  Take new pictures. Who knows, maybe the old ones are hidden somewhere on my computer.

Thank you Next. Thank you Next. Thank you Next. Today I will judge nothing that occurs.

If I’ve learned anything from headhunting for the last 15 years, it’s that NOTHING is really in my control. I’ve always joked, headhunting, my work, is my spiritual practice.

I’ve been called out before.  I don’t get you, how can you be spiritual in life and so driven in business. You just can’t turn it on and off.  I once took offense to the judgement, Today I will judge nothing that occurs. They misunderstood themselves.

Patience, open heartedness, open-mindedness, benefit of the doubt, restraint, introspection, listening, hearing, being present, being in service.  Basic spiritual principals: all. I’ve been practicing.

“Retrograde, maybe, maybe not. This is life.” I say, answering myself.  The cats look up at me.  Fred meows, stretches, pushes against his hind quarters. Downward-facing-cat.

There’s so much more than lying candidates and broken phones.  So much more beauty, so much more sadness, so much more loss, so much more poetry, art, music, dance, song. So much more in the fabric of what we each call a life.rose bush

Today I will judge nothing that occurs.

I hear the birds outside, the sky is grey but that just makes all the colors of spring pop.  The roses outside my office window are blooming like never before, bursting with soft rose petal orange and pink.  We planted that rose bush for our cat Lu almost ten years ago.  I feel my heart beating, ba-boom ba-boom ba-boom in my chest, my breath is soft, I feel spring turning into summer, I feel myself, I feel my heart. I feel.

 

Roses closeup

 

So Beautiful…

 

I was looking down at himlooking down
his hands pulled my hair away from my face
he was looking up at me
we were in his small room
the sun was bright
shining through sheer curtains
reflecting off of light walls
his strong hands
capable
his dark eyes
pulling at me
his voice
a hungry whisper
‘you’re so beautiful’ he said

I let him pull me into him

Sometimes I’ll feel
the dusting of his print
on my inner thigh
on the curve of my lower back
on my belly
I’ll taste that morsel
let it melt on my tongue
that instant
when I gave myself
to this man

I felt I was woman
but I was still girl

The Other Side of the Arno

 

Write the words.  Don’t force the meaning.  Let the words string themselves together to from sentences and maybe a thought or an idea will present itself. This is what I tell myself.  Write the words. Let them chisel themselves from blocks of letters.  Write the words.  Take away what isn’t needed, let the essence emerge. Easier said than done, it’s a practice.

Michelangelo did that with marble.  He didn’t use molds or an outline. Instead he chiseled away the excess stone and allowed his figures to emerge.  He formed sculptures that are beyond words.  Pictures don’t do them justice.

Bill and I have plenty of pictures of our trip to Italy.  We don’t look at them as much as we talk about the trip, the food, the people, the ruins, the architecture, the color, the art.  We savor the essence of our trip to Italy.

Two mornings in a row, we were among the first people on line at the Accademia Gallery and the Uffuzi Gallery.  Bill didn’t want to wake up early and I didn’t want to spend most of my day waiting in line to buy tickets to museums.

“I’ll set the alarm so we don’t have to wait on line.” I said to Bill. We were drinking the local vernaccia wine and eating bread at a café inpiazza cafe the Piazza della Signoria. We chose this café from all the others in the Piazza because the waiter looked like Bill’s brother Steve.  Really, can you choose a bad café in Florence?  It was unseasonably warm for April and we sat in the shade. We watched the people walk by and found it interesting how over dressed people were for such a hot day.  They were bound and determined to wear their leopard print pants, leather coats and boots, tan, purple and even mustard yellow suede.  We have way too many pictures of overdressed tourists walking the streets of Italy.  We’d pretend to take pictures of each other, but zoom in on the hot, tired looking overdressed tourists.   I was looking at my Florence, Italy travel book. I brought travel books for each stop in Italy and I would leave them behind in our hotel rooms so other people could use them.  The book recommended reservations or just get to the museum early to avoid the lines.

“No. I don’t need to wake up early on vacation to see David, I’ve seen pictures,” he said.

Sometimes I think Bill says no just to hear himself say no. Having the discussion is a choice. Depending on the topic, like a talk about money can become heated. In the end, we come to resolution, an understanding of each other’s point of view, but we look at things in our own way.  Bill is smart with money, he is practical, grounded and I have a tendency to assume that we’ll be okay no matter what. Both are important, but sometimes our views can clash.  Something like this, whether or not to wake up, that’s mostly ridiculous banter.  A yes no yes no yes no of playful bickering. Italy isn’t a sleep on the beach type of vacation though, there’s too much to see.  There has to be a balance between scheduling and exploring.  I’d rather be early and have the afternoons to wander and explore Florence.

The day before we did that. We crossed the Ponte Vecchio Bridge with throngs of people and walked beyond the crowds on the other side other side of arnoof the Arno River. It was quiet.  It felt as if we were the only two people in Florence. Dappled sunlight through trees, high walls securing themselves around buildings and homes leading us along the curved road, blue sky, warm sun, breezes, the click snap whir of the camera. An occasional car would whiz by and the leaves would lift up and float back to the asphalt. That walk away from tourists, and cars, and shopping and crowds. That walk, me and Bill, our voices drifting above the walls up to the sky. That walk, unplanned exploration, peaceful, springtime bloom moment in time, moment in memory, a moment that although I might not remember each exact step or every carved piece of marble or stone that brought us to the Piazzale Michelangelo and the Church of San Miniato al Monte, I remember the feeling.  I remember the color. I remember the pale pinks of worn stone, the many shades of green contrasting the blue and white sky, the worn narrow road.  That walk, an experience that carved itself, grooving bursts of color and texture into a tiny portion of my mind. That walk, on the other side of the Arno.

“You’ve seen it in pictures?” I said.  He makes me laugh. “Why even leave the hotel room? I’m setting the alarm.” I said.

“Okay Mrs. Plan-o”. He was smiling and rolling his eyes.

Early the next morning we walked through the Academy Museum.

“Pictures don’t do it justice.” I said to Bill.

Muscled legs, arms and torsos, sculpted chins, cheeks, noses pulling themselves from the metamorphic rock that lined the halls of the michelangelounfinishedcaptive1527-1528museum.  Our marriage is like this museum, decorated with artifacts, ruins, souvenirs, images, moments, events, memories that line the halls we walk together, hand in hand, on kaleidoscopic days.

Marriage is like a block of marble.  We carve into it; chisel it into a shape, a living breathing creation formed from time.  Moments standing in front of The Birth of Venus, the brilliance of the colors, the drape of fabric, hair lifted by a breeze, soft curves, moments of walking through Florence to the other side of the Arno, letting the Italian smells, sounds and tastes permeate our membranes, moments strung together like a string of pearls; births, deaths, weddings, bickering, crying, laughing, love making, birthdays, graduations, loss, love, joy, pain, letting go, celebration.

Seeing Michelango’s David is one of the moments that we added to our Jewelry Box.

We were looking up at him.  David, with his furrowed brow, eyes focused off to the distance, tense, sling held in his huge left hand, positioned, ready for battle under the dome. We were standing amongst the circle of heads also admiring his stature.  Murmurings and astonished sighs swirled around the smooth stone man.  Michelangelo carved his masterpiece, chiseled the marble until he discovered the form within the stone.

david furrowed brow“You know, once you’ve seen it in a picture, it’s really no big deal.” Bill said.

I leaned into him, reached up and kissed his cheek. “Yeah, right hun, just like our marriage.”

 

Journal Entry May 15, 2013   7:23am

Girls And Their Rescues

I worked it out in bed, in bedrooms.

In bed with guys.

I know

now

that’s just not cool and

so they buy dogs.

Boxers or pit bull mixes.

They’ve given up

booze and boys and banging and

adopt a rescue.

It’s the thing to do.

I’m not a dog person.

I didn’t get that gene, or

the stripper gene.

Not then. So

I threw myself at guys.

Not all guys, just the ones

I shouldn’t have.

I didn’t turn it into a thing.

It was just what it was. No labels.

We liked sex back then.

It was what it was,

fucking.

Now you’re an addict.

You go to meetings, pledge abstinence and

get a rescue.

grlsndogs

 

 

The Making Of A History

 

Vacation Culebra

I can remember a warm hand
pressing on my belly
fingers like predictions
reaching
winding their way
forming into my future

I was still un-written
a white page
waiting for its epic poem
to adorn
with rainbow watercolor skies
swelling blue oil seas
fertile green forests
plump with fruit
pixie dust and dreams
of lips being kissed ruby red
sealed with white satin promises

Different authors penned my narrative
each hand bore its distinctive cursive blue and black liquid letters
an inked history
filled my book
some pages tore
shred
I let them fly into the wind

Others I folded
tucked away
an account
a tapestry of tangled kisses
broken hearts
miscarriages of desire
lost souls
ripening on the vine
falling to the earth
passion love hate anger joy sadness loss
chapters in my book

My life
reveals itself
in the warm curve
of my hip
the soft give of my tummy
the arch of my lower back
against my lover’s hand
as he presses into
my core

Our Vacation in Culebra