Monday, September 27, 2010

I believe...

Before I move on, at least for now, from the topic of believing
I would like to share a list that I've accumulated over the years
of things that I believe in...

My focus might be different
if I were to write this list today
but from time to time
I like to go back
and read my list
 of I believes
and reflect...

I believe in the comfort of the familiar
and the allure of the strange.

I believe that bullshit has become an art form.

I believe that the Bronte sisters and Emily Dickinson would be feminists now.

I believe in the magic of live performance.

I believe that my children are the best part of me.

I believe that each person must believe in them self.

I believe that flirting is a lost art.

I want to believe in the moment.

I believe in pumpkins.

I believe in bubbles.

I believe that we don't need to be heroes but that we do need to be humane.

I believe in baby powder for women.

I believe that one morning I will open my mouth and out will come Barbra Streisand's voice...
even just that one morning will be okay...

I believe in sending valentines to friends as well as to lovers.

I believe that censorship is dangerous.

I believe that when I am an old lady I will finally say whatever I want.

I believe that I was the best possible me when I taught nursery school.

I believe that it's more fun to dress up and get ready for most parties
than it is to actually go.

I believe that I make great spaghetti sauce.

I believe that I am a magician with chocolate.

I believe that there are people who were rotten parents
 but make fabulous grandparents.

I believe that women should be free to choose what happens to our bodies.

I believe in destiny and past lives.

I believe in puppy kisses.

I believe that you're never too grown up
to want your parents approval and praise.

I believe that everything happens for a reason
even if we cannot understand what the reason is
at the time.

I believe in tears.

I believe that one day Scotty could beam me up!

I believe that one day I will reach up
to brush the hair out of Robert Redford's eyes...
just like that scene in the Way We Were...
I said that I've had this list for a long long time

I believe that you can wait forever
but nothing will happen until you open the door
and step out into the street.

I believe that two interlocking halves
do not always make a perfect whole.

I believe that your children need to learn
for themselves all the lessons you'd like to give
them a list of...

I believe that we can be our own guardian angels.

I believe that sometimes I experience moments
of perfect clarity...only to have those moments
float away like little dreams.

I believe that everyone needs to eat a meal
without saying the words guilt, exercise or
grams of fat...

I believe that tears are the best cleansing milk.

I believe that most women are more like their mothers
than they would like to be...

I believe that grandparents can make a difference.

I believe that pets are family members with rights
like everyone else.

I believe that ice cream is the perfect breakfast food...
it tastes terrific before and after
you brush your teeth.

I believe in old fashioned nursery rhymes.

I believe that a journal or diary is a great gift
for anyone at any age.

I believe in the magic of band aids.

I believe that you should give someone flowers
on the first day of spring.

I believe that children should be taught
how to grow things from seeds.

I believe that everything matters
nothing matters very much...

I believe that I was touched by the moon...
and that you can wish on stars...

I believe that the most precious gift I ever received
was my grandson, Ethan, my Pumpkin Boy...

I believe that having my believing list
has helped me to know myself...

Please share with me some of the things on yours...

Thursday, September 23, 2010


For the past nine years
three times a year
I light memorial candles for my dearest friend, Sheila...

Her sudden death was not only deeply painful
but it has challenged me
beyond anything I could ever have imagined

I light my candles at sundown
and they usually burn brightly for 24 hours
flickering away as the sun sets
the next day

The first candle I lit for Sheila
was on the first anniversary of her death...
My husband, David, and I were in Puerto Vallarta
celebrating our anniversary
and trying to escape briefly
from a horrendous situation
not of our own making...
and I was missing Sheila so much
I wasn't even sure I wanted to go away...

I had bought the candle several weeks in advance...
I didn't want to forget about it
with all the hassles of packing,
my insecurities about being gone
and leaving a house full of poodles for a week

As I lit that first candle,
 I knew that I was following an ancient tradition
though Sheila and I did not share the same religious background...
I was simply listening to my heart...
and to me
that is what ancient tradition is about

What I did not know
and could not know,
that beautiful lavender and gold and pink sundown
in Puerto Vallarta,
 I was beginning a new tradition,
a tradition beyond my control

That simple little candle
did not burn for 24 hours
the way it was intended to do...
its' flame illuminated my life
for almost 3 full days
and when it finally flickered away...
I cried...

My eyes filled with giant joyful tears
that dripped down over my face...
tears that cleansed me,
 soothed me and calmed me 

 I would like to say that
I felt Sheila's firm, gentle fingers
wiping away those tears
or heard her whisper, "hush..."
but neither of those things happened...
What did happen was this;
I smelled Sheila's very special and distinctive perfume...

I have been lighting those same candles
for nine years now
three times each year
and those little candles
and my sweet Sheila
never disappointment me

Sheila's candles always linger
beyond the 24 hours
and I refuse to believe anything
except that it is Sheila's way
of saying, "I'm still with you..."

Who are we if we cannot believe something so wondrous...

Sunday, September 19, 2010


It's almost midnight
I lean back and close my eyes
but sleep is far from my thoughts
All I want to do
 is let the lushness of the hour
seep under my skin
and soak through my nightgown
like a sudden summer storm
leaving me damp and trembling
with all the possibilities of the night ahead

Yes, I am tired
Yes, I should try and sleep
but the day is finally and completely over
and all the hours between now
and morning
 belong only to me

Everything that could have happened has...
and I can't do anything else
to fix the hassles,
the problems and complaints
 of the day

I've taken all the pills
that are supposed to soothe
all of my pains
I gave myself another shot
to end another day

I learned a long long time ago
when I go to sleep too early
the night is endless...
like a nightmare I can't escape

Since childhood expectations of midnight
have spun around in our heads
conjuring dreams and magic and anything unknown

I have learned to love these still dark hours
waiting predictably before me
after every day,
the good ones
and the not so terrific

I allow myself to be enveloped
in the silvery glow of moonlight
 the magic that stirs the air
and suddenly I'm relaxed

My mind opens
my creativity feels powerful
I cast away my doubts, my fears
thinking only of possibilities
and purpose
there is no one around to say "can't or NO!"

Midnight is the little gift
I give myself each day...

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

the escape artist

Having a chronic illness like MS means that you
and your MS are companions for life...
it isn't going anywhere soon...
so you need to find a way to coexist...

I looked up chronic in my Synonym Finder
and some of my favourite interchangeable words are;
settled, ingrained, persistent, constant, enduring
and if you would like to be a little fancier
there is always lingering, perpetual, never ending,
eternal, incessant and unmitigated...
It's amazing how many interesting ways
there are to say make yourself comfortable...
you might not like it
but it's a waste of time and energy if you don't...

That said, no matter how adjusted I think I am,
there are moments that surprise me.
Suddenly, I'm enveloped in a haze of free floating anxiety...
I'm edgy, or listless, unusually sleepy or weepy...
I feel as though I'm at the edge of place,
not knowing which direction to turn...
I can't express myself the way I would like to
and I feel like I'm reaching for memories or words
that should be there if only I knew how to grab them
and hold on tightly enough.

After all these years I should finally realize
that chronic illness often brings these
little spells of depression...
but of course, being only human,
I don't realize it until after it's set in for awhile...
and by then I'm in deep enough
that I need to work my way out...

Enter the escape artist...

Each day at dusk I study the sky
I measure the colours as they move
and change like my own personal kaleidoscope
I ponder the last intrusion of the clouds
and greedily anticipate the arrival of the moon
and the possibility of stars

The rhythm of the moon
stirs within me like feathers
and I am smitten

I wonder if I could ever paint the sky
that unfolds before me
it's a richly hued ancient tapestry
so old that it should crumble
Chinese lacquer blue, royal purple, sooty black
streaks of molten gold and whispers of silver...

...and into the sky
I escape...

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Russian Roulette and the Beast

Before I disappoint anyone
this is not a story about the mob...
it's just a little tale about MS
although when you think about it
MS often behaves exactly like the mafia...

Destructive, a thief, a bully...
even ruffing you up
for money
and leaving you
 alone with pain
wondering what's next

I used to think of my MS
like a game of Russian roulette
I'd wake up each morning
never knowing what to expect
I tried to remember that everyone loves surprises

and maybe some people don't

Enter the Beast...
the Beast is new in town this summer
started lurking in the shadows
a summer or two ago
but I wasn't paying enough attention
maybe I sensed a strange new presence
just couldn't be bothered
or didn't want to be
Now this intruder is glaring into my eyes

Like anyone who wants to make an impression
the Beast came bearing gifts...
fire boots of such enormous power
that I could launch myself skyward
when they begin to glow
and for my hands
the Beast has brought me gloves
that tingle and won't allow me to hold onto things
and when this game is over
my hands simply fall asleep

The Beast does not understand
how all this magic
can make me cry
and why I refuse
to let a Beast get comfortable
in my house

Thursday, September 9, 2010

sweet warnings

It was a rare friend who first told me about sweet warnings.

Not long after my husband bought me my walking stick,
when I was still not very used to taking it with me
and also a bit shy about having it at all,
I had lunch with some friends after our writing group.

We decided, because of parking issues, to take one car
to the restaurant. After a leisurely, noisy continuation
of our group (only with food) we left the restaurant
and went back to pick up our own cars.

As we were saying our goodbyes
this special friend who never misses a trick
inquired, "didn't you have your walking stick
at the restaurant?"

 I began to get panicky
maybe I was feeling foolish
maybe a little guilty
 because my husband had gone out of his way
 to find me a really beautiful walking stick
for the times when I needed it
and I was wondering if my subconscious
was playing silly games with me

Had I left the walking stick accidentally...on purpose...

My sweet friend offered to dash back to the restaurant
and get my walking stick...
she could obviously see that for the moment
I probably should not be driving off anywhere
in a hurry or other wise...
Another friend offered to wait with me...

As she was getting into her car
she said, "it's probably just a sweet warning..."

In what usually would have felt like forever
she returned waving my walking stick
like a magic wand

"Thank You," I hugged her,
"but what is a sweet warning?"
I had spent the whole time,
probably fifteen minutes,
that she was gone

Sweet warnings are the little things that happen
to save us from the big things that might have happened
they remind us to be careful, be patient,
to appreciate things, to slow down, to savour, to breathe

Sweet warnings also teach us 
that mistakes are OK
when we learn from them
we're not perfect
we're human

This very unusual lady has taught me many things...
One more that I would like to share now
is how she showed me to write my poems backwards...
If you think about it...
looking at the same thing from a different direction
is often a sweet warning too...

                                     Random Chances

If I were a cat
I'd have nine chances
Choices perch upon my shoulders like sparrows
I could buy a pair of scissors
if I had the exact change
He bought me perfume
when I wanted flowers

When I wanted flowers
he bought me perfume
If I had the exact change
I could buy a pair of scissors
Like sparrows choices perch upon my shoulders
I'd have nine chances
if I were a cat

ps this one is for you sweet pea...

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

free choice

Recently, I've noticed several people with prescriptions easily as compelling as some of mine, drinking wine or cocktails.  Anyone who knows me can tell you that I don't drink.  I never really did...but why would I mix alcohol and pills?  I don't need the warning label on the bottle to remind me that it's just not a good choice.

Baffled as I was by this, when I thought about the people I saw making this choice, the issue became more perplexing.  These were smart, savvy, usually responsible people.  I'm trying not to be judgmental but I just cannot understand this kind of free choice

The more I ponder this conundrum, the more bewildered I am...
I believe in free choice
I support it
I trust it
I have faith in free choice
I depend on it
I would blow up balloons and wave banners
and throw a parade for free choice...

But how is it possible to choose sitting on your hands and doing nothing
when someone you care about chooses to do something that truly scares you...

Monday, September 6, 2010

the dreamer

I wanted to live my life as I dreamed it...
the words were magical, ethereal...brilliant...

I lost myself in stories
 believing if I was a good girl
dreams do come true...

I drank my milk
I actually liked green vegetables
and I tried really really hard
never to call someone a bad name
or reveal a secret I was told

I had my matters of principle
elastic as they might be
from a very young age

It never occured to me
that the way other people
played with the rules
could alter my dreams
shattering my destiny
as I imagined it
with only a sleight of hand

I needed to be crazy then
it would have been a comfort
as the lies pursued me
to allow myself that measure of luxury
did I dare pretend

I could shelter myself
in a small cottage
by the sea
enjoying the monotony of gulls
the contradiction of the waves

the gulls would be charmed
when I wore lipstick
and I would read to them
from a volume of e.e. cummings

I would pace the sand
like a soldier
until I forgot myself
opening my mouth
to taste the pungent air
you could travel to China
on the taste of that air

when we're younger
days stretch out limitless
daring us to squander time
and what is more thrilling,
electrifying, meaningful and potent
than our own personal dramas

this summer I've been trapped
in a regretful, anguishing, fabricated
dangerous drama
of someone else's imaging

I don't sleep and when I do
both my pillow and
my sweet Lilirosie's head are damp
from my tears
and my MS,
well I am high voltage
generating enough buzzing
that I could power a small town
in a black out

I still wish I could live my life as I dreamed it
but a long time ago
I  read something a bit more practical

Everything matters
Nothing matters very much

Thursday, September 2, 2010


Today is my 38th wedding anniversary.
Tomorrow is the 9th anniversary of the untimely death
 of my dearest friend, my sweet Sheila.

I looked up the word anniversary
in my Synonym Finder
trying to find another sentiment
that might better express how I was feeling
and among the other words I could choose
it said red letter day...

So I am pondering
what is a red letter day...

Red is such an unpredictable colour...
there is nothing plain about red
red words are exotic...
try rolling them around in your mouth,
cinnabar, garnet, carnelian...
now taste a few...
red words are quite delicious...
cherry, raspberry, watermelon, pomegranate...
and take a risk with those spicy red words
cayenne, chili, paprika...
you can rouge your cheeks red
and stain your lips berry
hypnotize yourself with the glow of red wine

make any day extraordinary
dress it up, give it pizazz,
sparkle, some sass
make it red letter
speak only red words

Isn't that exactly what an anniversary is...
a celebration...

ps as I finish writing this I'm blowing a big lipstick red kiss skyward
    and saving one for later to kiss my love, my david j. good night

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

funny bunnies

most people
are as prosaic
and predictable
as rabbits

complacent in their little hutches
satisfied with the intermittent carrot
elevated by the luxury of some time
on cool green grass

these rabbits,
the bunnies
are indubitably pleasant to cuddle
stroking their glossy fur is certainly agreeable
and popular

but some rabbits
want more
than to live like bunnies

a few monotonous days
behind the hutch door
and there they are
waiting for an opportunity
to skitter off
into the trees

it's been an endless summer
not something that someone my age
says very often

it's been sad, sleepless, angry, achy,
weepy, toxic, stressful, soul searching
heart tearing, head pounding
barely breathing, MS ruling...
these are not words anyone would
associate with summer...
but this has been summer...
my summer

I think I need to stop waiting
for the opportunity
and skitter off
into the trees