we can smell wood smoke in the air and taste snowflakes on our tongues

We’ve had decades to develop resilience. Many of us have learned that happiness is a skill and a choice. We don’t need to look at our horoscopes to know how our day will go. We know how to create a good day.

We have learned to look every day for humor, love and beauty. We’ve acquired an aptitude for appreciating life. Gratitude is not a virtue but a survival skill, and our capacity for it grows with our suffering. That is why it is the least privileged, not the most, who excel in appreciating the smallest of offerings.

Many women flourish as we learn how to make everything workable. Yes, everything. As we walk out of a friend’s funeral, we can smell wood smoke in the air and taste snowflakes on our tongues.

Our happiness is built by attitude and intention. Attitude is not everything, but it’s almost everything. I visited the jazz great Jane Jarvis when she was old, crippled and living in a tiny apartment with a window facing a brick wall. I asked if she was happy and she replied, “I have everything I need to be happy right between my ears.”…

There is an amazing calculus in old age. As much is taken away, we find more to love and appreciate. We experience bliss on a regular basis. As one friend said: “When I was young I needed sexual ecstasy or a hike to the top of a mountain to experience bliss. Now I can feel it when I look at a caterpillar on my garden path.”

Older women have learned the importance of reasonable expectations. We know that all our desires will not be fulfilled, that the world isn’t organized around pleasing us and that others, especially our children, are not waiting for our opinions and judgments. We know that the joys and sorrows of life are as mixed together as salt and water in the sea. We don’t expect perfection or even relief from suffering. A good book, a piece of homemade pie or a call from a friend can make us happy. As my aunt Grace, who lived in the Ozarks, put it, “I get what I want, but I know what to want.”

We can be kinder to ourselves as well as more honest and authentic. Our people-pleasing selves soften their voices and our true selves speak more loudly and more often. We don’t need to pretend to ourselves and others that we don’t have needs. We can say no to anything we don’t want to do. We can listen to our hearts and act in our own best interest. We are less angst-filled and more content, less driven and more able to live in the moment with all its lovely possibilities…

By the time we are 70, we have all had more tragedy and more bliss in our lives than we could have foreseen. If we are wise, we realize that we are but one drop in the great river we call life and that it has been a miracle and a privilege to be alive.

~ Mary Pipher, excerpts from The Joy of Being a Woman in Her 70s (The New York Times · January 12, 2019). Mary Pipher is a clinical psychologist in Lincoln, Neb., and the author of the forthcoming “Women Rowing North: Navigating Life’s Currents and Flourishing as We Age.”


Photo Credit

Sunday Morning

Our time always shortening.
What we cherish always temporary. What we love
is, sooner or later, changed…
Giving thanks for what we are allowed
to think about it, grateful for it even as it wanes…
And occasionally the bright sound of broken glass.
All of it a blessing. The being there. Being alive then.
Like a giant bell ringing long after you can’t hear it.

~ Jack Gilbert, excerpt from “Burma” from Refusing Heaven


Notes: Poem via Mythology of Blue. Photo: Maximus Audacious of Bell

Flying over I-40 S. With Lav #2.

Who’s the guy in the photo? No idea. Loved the shot, it goes up.

Does he resemble him? No. Hair color? No. Glasses? Hmmm, black frames, but not the polaroids. Body frame? Close. So what’s the connection? For some inexplicable reason, Tattoo runs up shouting “Ze plane! Ze plane!” to announce the arrival of a new set of guests to Fantasy Island. Not “ze plane” – “ze cane Boss“, “ze cane.”

I’ve been in here, this same room, a hundred times, maybe more. Always early morning, and an hour before boarding. The first flight from LaGuardia to Dallas.

Yes, we’re back talking about Lavs, after Lav #1 earlier in the week, and Lav Doors a while back. It’s the Men’s restroom at the American Airlines Admirals Club. Here, there are three certainties when you enter: (1) the smell of clean, before hundreds soil the floor with urine and slop the countertops with water and soap suds, (2) Musak pumping Chill music through the ceiling speakers and (3) Chill, like Arctic air, that triggers goose bumps on your skin…get dancing!

It’s July, 82° F, and he’s wearing a blue windbreaker.  Navy blue slacks. A baseball cap. 5’4″ tops, if stretched out from his stoop. Glasses, black frames; lenses…coke bottles. Age? ~ mid 80’s.

He’s standing at the urinal to my left. His cane, hard wood, weathered, has a silver wrapper for a handle. It leans against the wall, waiting. [Read more…]

give away the mirrors in your house, one with every birthday

A couple of decades ago, she had soured on celebrity, once and for all, so it seemed. “It wants to name you and diagnose you and keep you as a comfort animal,” Ms. Winger said the other day before quietly changing her tune. “Celebrity is not my favorite part of the gig,” she confided. “But it’s the price you pay for doing what you want.”…

True, she feuded viciously with former co-stars and directors. She once called John Malkovich …“nothing more than a catwalk model.” She endlessly needled Shirley MacLaine during the filming of the 1983 movie “Terms of Endearment,” tonguing her thigh during off-camera moments and teasing her crudely about her attire, her psychosexual antics causing Ms. MacLaine to flee the set … Has she mellowed over time? Could be… At 61, Ms. Winger is offering no excuses. “Sometimes I have less tact than other times,” she said.

“If I have an intention I’m going to try to stick with it and not be taken by someone else’s energy. “I’m on a quest; aren’t we all? With humans, it’s always a dance. If somebody’s moving slower than you are, you’ve got to get them out of your way.” Her truculence did not sit well with her long-ago peers or her studio bosses. “People said I’m too intense,” she acknowledged. “People can’t handle that.”  These days she is reserving that surfeit of passion mostly for her work…In many ways, she has never really stopped. What seemed like a hiatus in the mid-1990s was in fact a fertile time. Ms. Winger taught at Harvard, married the actor Arliss Howard, brought up three sons in Sullivan County, N.Y., and worked on memorable indie projects…

“It’s hard to accept your aging face,” she said. “You’ve got to be tough.” Still, you can hope to ease the pain. “You just give away the mirrors in your house, one with every birthday,” Ms. Winger said. “By the time you reach the right age, you have just one little mirror over your bathroom sink to make sure you don’t have any green in your teeth.”…

“It’s all about finding your groove at every age.”…“It’s all about chi, your life energy,” she said with Yoda-like serenity. “Like everything else, it goes through iterations. If it’s alive it changes.”…Till when? She fixed her companion with a sphinxlike gaze and grinned. “Can I get back to you on that?” she said.

~ Ruth La Ferla, excerpts from Debra Winger Comes to Terms With Fame and Age (NY Times, May 5, 2017)

feel the steady pull toward your center of gravity

From Greek, Zeno is derived from Zeno’s Paradox, which asks how a person can walk from one point to another if they must first carry out a series of ever-shrinking steps, + Mnemosyne, the personification of memory in Ancient Greek mythology. How can we live our lives while each passing year feels shorter than the year before?

[…]

But soon you feel the circle begin to tighten, and you realize it’s a spiral, and you’re already halfway through. As more of your day repeats itself, you begin to cast off deadweight, and feel the steady pull toward your center of gravity, the ballast of memories you hold onto, until it all seems to move under its own inertia. So even when you sit still, it feels like you’re running somewhere. And even if tomorrow you will run a little faster, and stretch your arms a little farther, you’ll still feel the seconds slipping away as you drift around the bend.

Life is short. And life is long. But not in that order.

I’m very much in love with where I’m from

william-christenberry-palmist-building-summer-alabama

“Palmist Building (Summer), Havana Junction, Alabama,” 1980.

palmist-building-winter-william-christenberry

“Palmist Building (Winter), Havana Junction, Alabama,” 1981.

Sarah Edwards: The photographer William Christenberry was often described as a chronicler of a decaying American South. It is true that in much of his work—shots of older buildings emptied of people, beams gap-toothed and nature ready to overtake—there is an attraction to what is passing, or what has passed. But Christenberry rejected the idea that his work was a lamentation or an elegy…“I feel that I’m very much in love with where I’m from. I find some old things more beautiful than the new, and I continue to seek those places out, and I go back to them every year until sooner or later they are gone.” [Read more…]

Walking Cross-Town. Without lungs.

blue

4:52 am.
January 19th.
35° F, clear, calm.

Rested.
Body parts functioning, check.
Smartphone in breast pocket, check.
ID building pass, check.
Nine minutes to first morning train, check.

I step out the door, insert key, turn, and lock the door. There’s a clop clop clop of footsteps on the street. I turn to see Runner. Male, wearing a Miner’s headlamp, his beam illuminating the road.

2003. That’s you. Up, pre dawn: 5 miles Tuesday. 7 miles Wednesday.  4 miles Friday. Hot shower. Off to work. [Read more…]

Lightly child, lightly.

birds-shoulder-mystery-happiness

There ain’t no answer…
There never was an answer
There will never be an answer
That’s the answer

You are always the same age inside

One does not get better
But different and older
And that is always a pleasure

One must dare to be happy

~ Gertrude Stein, Useful Knowledge


Notes:

  • Photo: via Hidden Sanctuary. Poem. Thank you Beth @ Alive on All Channels
  • Prior “Lightly child, lightly” Posts? Connect here.
  • Post Title & Inspiration: Aldous Huxley: “It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.”

 

 

Sunday Morning

 

philippe-conquet

Today, at the sacred site of your soul, make peace with your present reflection as you go in search of the body and face you were born with and excavate the many extraordinary faces that have evolved during your many lives…

Embrace the lines that stare back, the parts that sag in the middle or stick out where you think they shouldn’t, the hair that never keeps a curl or never loses it. Invoke the Tibetan poet Saraha’s psalm of praise:

“Here in this body are the sacred rivers; here are the sun and moon as all the pilgrimage places. …I have not encountered another temple as blissful as my own body.”

Sarah Ban Breathnach, from “Our Pilgrimage Places” in Something More: Excavating Your Authentic Self

 


Notes: Quote: Thank you Beth @ Alive on all Channels. Photo: Philippe Conquet

Word. Full Stop.

wrinkle-face-close-up-portrait

Wrinkles here and there seem unimportant
compared to the Gestalt of the whole person
I have become in this past year.
Somewhere in The Poet and the Donkey Andy
speaks for me when he says,
“Do not deprive me of my age. I have earned it.”

– May Sarton, Journal of a Solitude

Notes:

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