Thoughts on Belonging and Home

As I traveled to see my college daughter perform in her Christmas vocal concert in Salem, Oregon I was busy looking at how Oregon stacks up against Colorado. It is green, temperate, rainy, hilly, lush, crowded, expensive, eccentric, has a large homeless population, friendly, nature oriented, coffee oriented. It has many of the things I like and as always when we travel, my husband and I engaged on what ifs. I am always looking for a new place. I grew up with parents that moved dozens of times before I was eighteen. By the time I moved out (at eighteen) I had lived in California, Utah, Florida, and Texas, in many different areas and homes in those respective states. It was hard to settle as an adult, but I knew my kids needed more stability than I had. We have lived in Denver for twenty years, but true to my childhood, we have lived in the foothills of Denver, the west, north and central side. I feel that if I move, it will be a fresh start, the right fit and in some way better. Sometimes those things were true, but sometimes it just left a feeling that nowhere is home.  It makes me think of belonging. Belonging is the way we identify who we are and what we care about. The small communities we make online, our families, our work families, the causes we take up with, the ways we identify ourselves with our pleasures and hobbies. Some of the ways I identify are as a lover of words, pianist, and nurse. In each of those communities I feel at home in a different way.  Belonging and home go hand in hand. They are intertwined. I think life is a search for belonging to the places and people that fill something up inside of us that fits just right. It is that person we choose to partner with, the way we build and create a place for our children in our lives, the search for the environment that makes us able to feel ourselves; whether in natural beauty or in a city setting. The search for belonging and home stretch before us and change as we change, looking different at the different intersections of our lives.

*Salem , Oregon December 2019*

Not limited

I am only limited by

how much curiosity I bring

how much effort I make

my willingness to repeat a thing again and again

I believe that I can grow

that age will not define my ability to learn

that failure is just a word

that life is a puzzle that should be worked on

engaged with vigor

 

 

 

bullies

don’t let the bullies win

they get in our faces, they growl and whine

they spin our words

wrap our reality in their hands

toss it about

when I hear them roar

tempo and cadence increasing

a small place inside of me gets quiet and strong

I invite their loud rebukes

For I have to live with myself if I do not speak

the shame of regret

is far louder

 

*a rally I had the honor of being present for in Denver 2017 by students marching against gun violence*

This poem is not about gun violence but about all the issues, including that one, that get spun (in my mind) into nonsense and lose any ability to be addressed in any effective, humane manner because of political, financial and personal agendas. I have been reading civil rights speeches and it is amazing to me the parallels of slavery, women’s and civil rights in which people would spin and defend obvious moral depravity and inequality for their own personal gain or agenda/power.

 

 

shaken together

do you ever look at your child

and think how beautiful

how precious

how vulnerable your heart is

how their dreams are your dreams

their happiness yours

their despair shared inside of you

knowing that for good and bad

you have been shaken together

blurred at the edges

*Isla Mujures, Mexico*

 

Stand and Speak

I believe I must be true to my core beliefs

I must stand and speak in the face of pressure to capitulate

the world was never changed with silent arguments

Words must be said with confidence and courage

I must examine my motives to make sure it is not out of selfishness, anger or pride

be careful to speak my truth with kindness

But if I don’t stand strong in the face of your agenda

your wrong thinking

I will be swallowed up

 

 

love

My husband, James, sent me a text the other day in response to a calendar question. I plan my schedule months in advance for work. “Is there anything happening I need to know about in February?” I asked him.

“The person I love most in the world is having a birthday,” he replied

I keep thinking about that text. It meant so much to me. Unplanned, off-the cuff words that shot straight back at me when I was not expecting them. We’ve had some rough years where we wanted different things, struggled with communication, had some intractable issues that seemed impossible to overcome. But we did. We worked through the hard seasons. It makes our commitment more special that we have struggled. We take each other for granted far less than we did in the past. We will have been married 25 years this December.  I know he meant those words. I am the person he loves most in the world. He is the person I love most in the world. It makes me feel invincible to have this love. I feel that everything will work out, even when it’s hard, when I have him.

*Hill Country, Texas*

Ripples of Hope

Words are powerful. I’ve always believed that through our expression of thoughts and ideas we can change ourselves and others. I’ve been reading this fantastic book of famous civil right speeches. It gives me hope that even in the hour of our darkest moments in history the words of brave men and women have brought sanity, hope, light, revolution, and change.

The book begins with an apt quote by Robert F Kennedy:

Each time a man stands up for an ideal,

or acts to improve the lot of others,

or strikes out against injustice,

he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope,

and crossing each other from a million

different centers of energy and daring,

those ripples build a current which can sweep down

the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance

 

In addition, the words I have read by all of you have inspired me greatly. I am grateful for this community of writers which has spurred me to articulate my thoughts. May our words never go unwritten.

 

*Denver 2019*