Sunday, December 31, 2017
I forget the words she said that day as we were having coffee together. But they were similar to a George Eliot quote I was familiar with: "It is never too late to be who you might have been."
I've loved the idea of that quote all my life, but at seventy it has a hollow ring to it. Sure, we can go back to school or take up ballroom dancing. Hopefully many of us will blossom now. But...
...at this age I like Rilke's quote better: "And then the knowledge comes to me that I have space within me for a second timeless larger life." Yes!
This is not about a radical career change or a marriage or divorce. This is making space within me for that timeless larger life. This is making space for mindfulness.
Of all the ways our generation has redefined aging, it is most powerful in the way we have redefined consciousness. Our minds! We have rediscovered that through becoming aware of the clutter of thoughts in our psyche, we can clear it out, make space, make 'moments' in which we can slow down the endless chatter of the mind. We can make room for that second timeless life. We can acquire spaciousness...
Whew! I love that thought--it's not unlike the idea of being in a poetic state of mind where the flow of life comes into us in such a way that it is both slow and intense...a way in which we can process it and write about it. Or paint it...or sing it.
That's my hope for this on-line journal...that I will slow down long enough to notice how the sunlight shimmers on the blue and white vase on the windowsill in the morning when I wake up....that I will notice the luminosity of last night's snow as I look out the window, and will pause long enough to take in the sweet smell of brewing coffee. Mindfulness will allow me the space to not be repeating the grocery list I need to know later.
And then I can write. That is the hope. Just like in meditation we have the thought and then the space...groceries and the luminous light. Washing the mug and remembering the day I made the mug. Then and Now! I will take in this NOW and make it a special moment.
When I was young I remember how old people always talked about the past. My hope is that our generation--the ME generation--will remember the past, but talk about our lives now, bringing to consciousness the full beauty and the poignancy of each moment. ME-FULNESS can transform to MIND-FULNESS....and out of that, a larger kinder life can be born.
Thursday, December 28, 2017
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Sunday, December 24, 2017
I was feeling a little glum on this gray morning and I looked down at Sweetie looking up at me and snapped a photo. Wow...she has such an honest face. She looks as if I could ask her anything and she'd have some good advice for me.
"So what do you have to say?" I asked her. We did a little mental telepathy, which is the way dog's talk to humans--if we humans can only listen quietly.
"You are worried about getting older." she said.
I nodded and stroked her head. "So tell me, my sweet dog, how do I manage this getting old? Can I age gracefully?"
She jumped down from my lap and circled the kitchen table first searching for morsels, then came back and sat right in front of me.
"First" she told me: "Stop worrying about how you look...you know, all those times I see you making big sighs in front of the mirror." She stroked her paw across her face a few times as if to show me how to wipe away anything unsavory there. Her fur stuck out in all directions and she looked silly but her eyes stared straight at me and I thought I saw what looked like a grin. I could hear her again: "If you have a good feeling inside it will show on your face. See? When in doubt, tilt your head slightly and show your teeth." She showed me her teeth and I laughed. That's a smile I noted to myself. Yes, I thought, smiles are truly the best make-up.
"Second," she said, "Take naps...or at least curl up and get a good 'pooze' in the middle of the day.
"A pooze?" I asked.
"Yes, that's a cross between a snooze and a pause." She rolled over and mimicked the doggy pooze with all legs and head raised in the air first, and then curled tightly into her.
I thought of how dogs seem to know this resting yoga posture quite well and I'd been practicing it at 4 PM most days lately. I can't nap, so I call it "flattening" for a half hour.
"Third," she insisted, as she jumped down and did the downward dog pose: "Plan something good to do each day--even a walk around the block can be just enough. Make it a scratch and sniff walk though...stop by a friend's house or the little shop down the street or the high place on the hill to take in a good view. Leave your unique signature wherever you go." She wagged her tail to go out.
I knew about her need for "doggy signatures" but I didn't quite understand this. Maybe taking photos along the way or talking to strangers would do... I needed to ponder this more.
"Fourth," she added, as she looked at her dog bowl and licked her chops: "Eat and drink something that makes you feel good. If you think about eating tasty food it will be good for you too. It's lazy eating that makes you sick or fat. Upgrade to real food!"
Did I see another grin? Her needs were simple. She didn't complain and she lived instinctually--she took a 'pooze' when needed and always jumped into the nearest laps to give and get love. Hm....
It looked like our telepathy was coming to an end, but then she rallied: "Do something different whenever you can." She jumped into my lap again and nuzzled her head into my armpit...she could be very intimate at times. "You're getting a bit boring sometimes," she implied. I know she didn't mean to insult me. Perhaps I'll take up tap dancing or ballet or teach a class again.
At seventy? Yes, at seventy...why not? And when I write next time I'll go deeper.... beyond the light notes." I pondered; feeling self critical. I'll get beyond talking to my dog. I let out a long sigh.
Sweetie turned her big brown eyes and looked at me--"This isn't enough?" her eyes beseached me.
Guilt swept over me like a dark cloud. I was wrong. This was enough! Love in any form is always good enough. I kissed her on her snout and walked to my writing table, letting the cloud pass...grateful for deep conversations like this.
Saturday, December 23, 2017
Friday, December 22, 2017
Thursday, December 21, 2017
Wednesday, December 20, 2017
Monday, December 18, 2017
I took Sweetie on her favorite walk through the woods this morning; the deep December snow was not glistening but more like a Currier and Ives print. If you’re old enough to know what those Christmas illustrations were—of horse drawn sleighs and solitary men walking home at dusk against a moody sky—then then these ramblings of a ‘woman of age’ might just be your cup of tea.
In my late twenties I was a fond reader of the diarist, May Sarton, who chronicled her way into my Soul with her daily journaling of an ordinary-extraordinary life. She was an Elder; tough, sensitive and observant of the simple things in life; nuances and synchronicities did not slip by the power of her pen. I devoured her writings and grew up by learning how to observe the late afternoon sun dancing on the walls…and the way the light fell upon Christmas narcissus blooming in winter.
Deep wisdom? No, but I began to find the sacred in the commonplace; I began to find a resonance between what was around me and what was within me…I was beginning to notice my Soul.
The snow crunched under my feet as I returned home. The Sunday blues had left a shadow on my heart yesterday that I didn’t want to carry into today. This was a fresh start; watching Sweetie’s tail wag like a windshield wiper as she pranced along the path was the perfect cure for such a malaise. I would leave her red sweater on the counter when I returned home to remind me to come back tomorrow…she would take me where I needed to go…
Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
My purpose in writing this 'journal' is to help me, and possibly you, thrive in the "third act" of life and to find grace in aging I hope it will help us seek out 'the poetic place' inside of us that finds meaning and joy in the simple ordinary things of life. I will bring in my experiences as an astrologer and therapist as well as simple observations--often gained in dog walking or pre-dawn morning musings. I value and appreciate any comments you may have...leave them here, or write to me at: elizabethspring