Museum of Me: On the Cusp of Adolescence

Last month I "opened" the Museum of Me. 

IMG_5620

And this month I'm back with another exhibit. . .  Growing Up: On the Cusp of Adolescence.

From the early 1990s until 2007, I worked as the Executive Director of a private women's foundation in Grand Rapids. (Best job EVER.) (The foundation has since "spent down" its assets and is no longer an active foundation.) Anyway, early in my tenure at the foundation, Harvard researcher Carol Gilligan had just published a groundbreaking piece on the developement of adolescent girls. Gilligan found that girls at age 11 were on top of the world. They were confident, sure, outspoken. They knew who they were. But. By age 16, those same girls were . . . not. Gilligan found that as they went through adolescence, girls quickly got the societal/cultural message that they should keep quiet and say nothing.

Back in 1991 - as a personal "survivor" of that very phenomenon AND as the mother of a 2-year-old daughter - I was deeply disturbed by Gilligan's findings. I made it my mission at the foundation to do whatever I could to change things for the girls of the 1990s. (Of course, recent research finds that not much has changed for girls in the past 30 years. It's hard to move the needle when it comes to social and cultural norms. But that's for another day.)

I used to keep this photo of myself in my office at the foundation.

Scan

It's me. Age 11. 

I've always loved this picture of myself as a young girl. There aren't many photos of me at this age/stage of my life, so it feels . . . precious. It was taken in the summer of 1970 when I had just returned home from two weeks at my first-ever sleep-away camp experience. Although I had a great time at camp, I had also been terribly homesick, and I was thrilled to get back home to my family and my house and my own room . . . which had been totally transformed while I was away! So I'm posing here, fresh from camp (wearing my trusty camp sweatshirt) in my newly-painted and decked out room at home.

But there's more to this photo than just a welcome-home-from-camp memory. Because in this photo, I am on the cusp of adolescence. And I can see it.

I was an 11-year-old with Big Ideas! I knew what I liked, and I was pretty vocal about what I didn't. I was a ballet dancer and a swimmer. I was learning to play the flute. I loved to read and was proud to have been the school spelling bee champ for 3 years running. I liked to draw and make things. I liked to play games and had a big imagination. I bossed people around a lot. I had a crush on Donny Osmond. And David Cassidy. But I was also a Motown fan and loved listening to American Top 40 with Casey Kasem. I dreamed about being an astronaut. Or an artist. Or a fashion designer . . . even though I wasn't worried about the clothes I wore. If you asked me then, I'd have told you I was was smart and fast and strong. 

Just like Carol Gilligan said . . . the "me" in that photo, age 11 . . . was confident, sure, and outspoken.

Scan 1

A few weeks later  . . . I started middle school. And then several months after that, I moved half way across the country and started a whole new life in a new state in a new (and bigger) junior high school. A lot of my 11-year-old confidence and sure-footedness . . . evaporated. Some of it was puberty. Some of it was family turmoil. Some of it was moving and losing familiar people and childhood friends at a pivotal age. Most of it was just that mine field that is . . . adolescence. A lot it was the pervasive cultural and societal messages about who was "pretty" and how girls "ought" be. Those messages? They did me in. 

For a while.

Eventually, I found my footing again. I practiced things I was good at. I stopped feeling bad about being smart and "bookish" and an introvert. I started keeping a diary. I shed toxic relationships and dropped friends-who-weren't-really-friends. I went to college. Met Tom. I stopped trying to be someone I wasn't.

And gradually, I . . . found myself.

In the end, I "met up" with my 11-year-old self again . . . and became more like her.
(Turns out . . . we have a lot in common.)
And these two photos of me in my new purple bedroom - on the cusp of adolescence - are a perfect reminder to me. . .  of just that!

==

Now that I've officially created The Museum of Me, you can watch for new exhibits . . . maybe once or twice a month. And if you're a blogger and you'd like to create a Museum of Me along with me on your own blog, let me know. I'll send you my "exhibit schedule" (a list of my prompts) and we can talk about ourselves together. (It might be fun?)

 


What Are the Chances

. . . that I can turn THIS little pile of wool scraps . . . 

IMG_6356

into THIS charming little Halloween item????

IMG_6357

I picked this kit up in a moment of weakness at my one-and-only Rhinebeck experience back in 2015 (Hi, Patty!). Each fall since, I pull the kit out of my "craft closet" sometime in September . . . and I carefully read through the instructions and take inventory of my materials . . . and decide THIS IS THE YEAR.  And then I (humbly) put it back in it the closet after Halloween. Unstarted. Again. 

So.

What are the chances, d'you think, that THIS IS THE YEAR? 
(Keeping in mind that I have that test knit to finish before the end of the month. AND that I'm sewing Erin a dress to wear in a wedding later this month, too.

Can I?
Or . . . 
Not?

(And does this happen to anyone else? Or is it just me???)

 

 

 


Read With Us . . . Right On Through the Holidays

Read With Us Fall

It's a Big Day!

The Read With Us "reveal!"
(Drumroll, please!)

After MUCH discussion and a lot of back-and-forth, Bonny and Carole and I finally settled on Matrix by Lauren Groff for our next Read With Us book selection.

Matrix

For the first time in Read With Us history, I've already read the book we chose . . . so I am confident it'll make for a GREAT book group discussion. (In fact, I can't wait to talk about this one with you.) 

First of all, separate this title from the movie franchise with the same name (almost - the book title does not include "the"). You won't find Neo, Trinity, or Morpheus in these pages. But you will find . . . witchy feminist medieval nuns! When you first read the description of this quite marvelous book, you may be turned off by phrases like . . . "12th century," "impoverished abbey," "convent," and "French poetry." But I encourage you to Read On! 

I wasn't sold on this book myself when I first heard about it, but my ears perked right up when it made the National Book Award long list. And then I read a reader-review on Goodreads that described Matrix as “medieval girlboss fantasia” -- and I couldn't resist. In fact, now that I've read the book, I can’t get that phrase out of my head. Because, yeah. That’s it exactly. Author Lauren Groff creates a fictional history for Marie de France (a real-life figure) that treats her as a superhero (as much as 12th century nuns can be superheroes ), able to battle hunger, poverty, and disease in male-dominated medieval society. And - let me tell you - it totally works.

There is no doubt that Groff’s imaginative and creative invention of a history -- for an actual woman-of-history with no history -- makes for an excellent read. Beautiful prose, a brilliant sense of place and time, and fascinating characters put this novel in the well-worth-reading category. It’s original and thought-provoking with layers of complexity -- and it will make an excellent book group selection.

We'll be talking more about the book and providing some background information throughout November. Then . . . mark your calendars now for our blog book discussions AND a Zoom discussion on Tuesday, January 11 (7:00 pm Eastern time; Same Bat Time, Same Bat Channel). That gives you plenty of time to get your hands on the book -- and Read With Us . . . right on through the holidays!

(Besides, who doesn’t like to imagine a small society of like-minded individuals walling themselves off from the flames of the world outside? "Medieval girlboss fantasia" indeed!)

==

Previous Read With Us book selections:

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

Fever by Mary Beth Keane

I'm Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sánchez

Wild Game by Adrienne Brodeur

The Women of Brewster Place by Gloria Naylor

Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam

Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart

Unsettled Ground by Claire Fuller

 


Revving Up . . . for October

October is here!  A month full of beautiful fall landscapes (at least here in the Northern Hemisphere), pumpkin spice everything, and tempting miniature candy bars. Seriously, October is one of my favorite months of the year.

So let's get our October engines revving, shall we?

IMG_8119

On the first Monday of the month, I share random things that have caught my eye. Interesting articles, little factoids, and inspiring this-and-that, for the most part. Things that might help get your day started in a revved-up kind of way.

==

Let's start things off with a quote . . . 

"The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper."
            --- W.B. Yeats

Every week, I find a quote that suits my mood and I write it in my (old school) planner . . . right at the top where I am reminded of it each day. This week, I want to acknowledge the change-of-seasons magic I'm seeing all around me. I want to tune my senses into the sights, the smells, the sounds, and all the feels of fall. (And maybe I'll even grab a PSL . . . so I can enjoy the taste, too!)

IMG_6320

==

Let's move on to some . . . book talk. If you're a Reader, you probably love this time of year. Fall is always reserved for the biggest book releases of the season (lining up with most of the major literary award deadlines AND the holiday gift-giving season) -- but this year, there are EVEN MORE big book releases than usual. Why? Oh, because of the pandemic, of course. (What hasn't it impacted, huh?)

Anyway. Lots of books! Lots of really GOOD books.
But how to decide which books to read first?

Well. Literary Hub has put together a little flowchart to help you decide!

Screen Shot 2021-10-03 at 3.18.39 PM

(And . . . stay tuned for the latest Read With Us book announcement coming tomorrow.)
(HINT: It's a book on the flowchart.)

==

Next, I've got a little-bit-factoid, little-bit-try-this. Last month, I read a horrifying little article in the New York Times about The Cotton Tote Crisis. As in . . . how did an environmental solution (reusable cotton tote bags) become part of the problem?

IMG_6345

Cotton tote bags (like the three I have hanging on the back of my bathroom/dressing room door here) have created an entirely new environmental problem. It turns out that ONE organic cotton tote . . . needs to be used 20,000 times to offset its overall impact of production. That's DAILY use for 54 years!!! (And I have 3 bags just right there on that one door handle, and that translates to daily use for 162 years.) (Yikes.) What's the deal, you ask? Well. Cotton . . . is very water intensive to process. And there are, of course, the forced labor issues. And . . . you can't recycle or compost most textiles, including organic cotton.

What to do? Here's an article with a few simple suggestions for what to do with your resusable tote collection. My strategy from here on out? Not to grab any new bags (because apparently I have enough to last for several lifetimes as it is).

==

In the Express Yourself Department . . . did you know that there is a World Emoji Day?  (I totally missed it, but apparently it's celebrated on July 17 each year.)

Screen Shot 2021-10-03 at 8.08.03 PM

Anyway, Adobe Products released their 2021 Global Emoji Trend Report on World Emoji Day back in July with some (not so surprising) results: People like using emojis to express their feelings and show empathy in a world of digital communication. You can read the results here. And you can see all the new emojis coming out sometime in 2021/2022 here. (My favorite is the melting face emoji. . . )

==

Are you looking for something pumpkin-y to make this fall? (And I'm not talking food.)

IMG_6906

Here are three fiber-y ideas for you:

Here's a sweet little pumpkin pincushion to make (which would also look very cute and festive without any pins) (just sayin) from Doodle & Stitch. It's a simple design - you don't need pattern pieces - and the directions are included in the post. You just need felt and some stuffing! (Stitching can be done on a sewing machine or by hand.)

If you feel like knitting up some pumpkins, there are tons of patterns on Ravelry. I've made this one before (BONUS! It's a freebie!). If you're looking for something a little more . . . complete . . . this one is is adorable -- and you could create an entire pumpkin patch (not free). And I love the shape of this pumpkin pattern - available with a knit AND a crochet option (another freebie!).

Or maybe you want to try your hand at sculpted needle felting? Pumpkins (like the ones I made, above) are a great place to start! You can nab a kit (with everything you need to make more than 3 pumpkins, including detailed instructions and access to a video tutorial) from Felted Sky.

==

And with that, we're OFF!
Here's to a great week for all of us.

Happy October, everyone.

 

 


Asking the World for What You Want

This has been one of those . . . full . . . weeks for me. Lots of things on my calendar. Long appointments. Fun stuff. Not-so-fun stuff. Life. And a lot of it this week!

So I'm especially ready for a slow weekend kind of weekend. 
I guess you could say . . . I want to manifest ease and peace.

Which is why I was just tickled yesterday when I saw a woman manifesting EXACTLY the life she wants from the universe on Instagram. She, too, is looking for "ease and peace" . . . but she's being VERY much more direct. (It's a very short little "reel." Here's the link, and if you have an Instagram account you might enjoy watching it as much as I did.)

IMG_6303

IMG_6304

So, following her example . . . I'm manifesting the kind of weekend I want.
A NO THINGS kind of weekend.

==

Have a good one -- whatever kind you want.
See you Monday.

 


Fall Gardening Week 4: Wrapping Up the Season

As I explained earlier this month, on Thursdays in September I'm bringing you tips and advice for . . . 

IMG_5972

And here we are . . . the last day in September (already) . . . the end of the month, and the end of my fall gardening series. I planned to finish things off today by sharing a few Fall Gardening To-Do Lists from well-known gardening gurus. Y'know . . . taking a peek at what the "pros" do. And then I got to looking at them. And I was like . . . NEWP! Because who needs THAT kind of pressure. (Seriously. These well-known gardening gurus? They either don't sleep, never go inside, or - more likely - have gardening staff on hand to help them.) (Just sayin.)

Not to be deterred, I decided to stick with my plan - sharing a Fall Gardening To-Do List - but to . . . Keep It Real. So today you get to see the fall garden chore checklist of a real-life, admittedly lazy (yet-committed!), one-woman-band (with a trusty sidekick) kind of gardener.

(Yeah. It's my list.) 

IMG_6271 2

And there you have it: my garden plans for the coming weeks.

I recommend starting with the lowest-hanging fruit. My strategy for any to-do list is to dig in with the quickest, easiest tasks first . . . to rack up some early success and establish inertia. I look for the one-stop stuff like . . . scheduling the sprinkler shut-down. (One phone call! DONE.) Finalizing the snow plow contract. (Sign and mail!  DONE.) Bird seed. (Send Tom out to stock up for the winter! DONE.)

IMG_6284

Then, I move on to the fun stuff. For me, this means decorating with mums and pumpkins, and switching out my front porch containers with some hardy annuals. This does entail a little planning and a stop (or two) at my favorite local nursery. I also think it's fun to decide which plants I want to try to bring inside for the winter. (I don't have much success here, but it's fun to go through the process - and give it whirl.)

IMG_6272

Which leaves me with the chores that feel more like . . . actual chores. As in . . . they take some time and need to be done with a bit more care. Cleaning, oiling, and storing my garden tools for the season, for example. Or gathering and packing up my "garden tchotchkes" for the season. Emptying, cleaning out, and storing my garden pots and containers. Those chores.

IMG_6274

Definitely not my favorite things on the list, for sure. They aren't horrible, by any means. But if you leave them until too late in the season, you risk having to do them in the cold or the rain (or snow), and that's no fun. Besides, winter weather is hard on pots and tchotchkes. If you want things to last from season to season, it's best to get them stowed away in your chosen storage area for the season. (And by all means get those hoses unhooked before it freezes.)

Another job on my list that's not much fun and never finished (ever) . . . is weeding. I continue to weed until I can't weed anymore -- because I know that every weed I pull in the fall is a weed that won't seed in the spring. So it's worth doing. And doing. And doing. And doing. (I often give myself a goal of 15-30 minutes of weeding every day. Every little bit helps.)

IMG_6285

And then . . . let's talk about bulbs for a second, shall we? I really hate planting bulbs in the fall. (It's my least favorite chore on the list.) (I'd even rather weed every day.) I don't know why, but I just get ZERO joy from planting fall bulbs. BUT . . . I get ALL THE JOY from seeing their blooms in my garden, come spring. So I usually bite the bullet and throw a few more in the ground each fall. This year, it'll be more allium and a refresh on tulips. (I'm officially giving up on crocus. I love them. But every year - just as they're beginning to bloom - critters dig them up and eat them -- and have the gall to leave the uneaten parts right there in the garden so I can see what's been going on). 

So . . . if you haven't gotten your bulbs in the ground yet, you've still got time! It might be too late to order what you want from an online outlet, but my local nursery was well-stocked with a good selection of bulbs when I visited yesterday. So go for it if you want some joy in your garden next spring.

IMG_6282

And one last chore that is important, but so easy to just skip, is taking stock of the garden-year-just-ended. It's not hard, and it doesn't take long. Just snap a few pictures. Walk around and jot down notes. What did you like? What was an absolute disaster? Where are the dead zones? What ideas do you have for next year? In a few months - say . . . in February - you can get these notes out and start dreaming and scheming. You'll have a much better sense of what you want to tackle first in your garden come spring if you have some notes to remind you about what you were thinking in the fall. (If any of you are interested in more information about how I take notes for my garden, let me know. If enough of you are interested, I'll put together a blog post.)

And there you have it! A real-life, fall garden chore checklist . . . from a lazy gardener you know well.
What do you think? Did I forget anything?

==

Additional Information and Resources:

Looking for information on how to clean and store your garden tools for the season? This link from Gardening Know How includes bare-bones information for getting your tools ready for winter. (I like this article because it's not so detailed that you throw up your hands in frustration and annoyance.) (Trust me, some of them are ridiculously complex when it comes to cleaning tools.)

Wondering just how to clean up your pots and containers before storing them for the season? Here's another link from Gardening Know How to give you the scoop. (I skip the bleach part altogether, just so you know).

Thinking about planting some bulbs this fall? Here are some shopping-for-bulb tips from Margaret Roach of A Way to Garden. And here is a slideshow featuring her "favorite, reliable bulbs." (She doesn't plant crocus anymore either, by the way.)

About those weeds . . . Are you interested in identifying the weeds in your garden? Here's a weed-identification guide from Margaret Roach, and here's a great tool - Is This Plant A Weed? - from the University of Minnesota Extension Service.

==

Past Gardening in the Fall posts:

Week One: Less is More (fall clean up information)

Week Two: Now is the Time (fall planting and transplanting information)

Week Three: Bring 'em Inside (bringing your outdoor plants indoors for the winter)

 


This is a Test!

I'm knitting like it's my job right now.
Or . . . I'm trying to! 

IMG_6277

Because I'm doing a test knit for Elizabeth Smith.
And I have a deadline!

I've knit a few of Elizabeth's designs in the past (like this one and this one), and they are among my favorites -- to knit and to wear. I tend to like the basic simplicity of Eliabeth's designs, and I really appreciate her attention to detail. (She writes a great pattern, too. Clear, easy to follow, lots of photos and technique tips/tricks.) So when she showed a new design on her blog last month and put out a call for test knitters, I was All Over It. Because her new design is one I'd be wanting to knit - and wear - anyway!

I'm doing the no-sleeves version in the DK/sport weight "division" . . . in this yarn. (And I did check in with Elizabeth writing this post. I do have her OK to show my progress here, although I won't be revealing any modeled shots until she releases the pattern later this fall.) 

IMG_6275

I really like the way it's coming together so far. I love the texture! It looks kinda like Brioche. But it's not. And it looks kinda like ribbing. But it's not. (Surprise - it's all just knit and slipped stitches.) The stitch pattern has a nice, easy rhythm, and the knitting clips along pretty quickly. (And it's glaringly obvious when you've miscounted, so when fixes are necessary, they're easy to manage.) (Ask me how I know. . . ).

This is one test I'm happy to take!

==

How about you? What are you making this week?

(And be sure to stop by Kat's today for more Unraveled Wednesday fun.)

 

 

 


ROOT: What's Left?

IMG_2379

"I took a deep breath and listened to the old bray of my heart. I am. I am. I am."
              --- Sylvia Plath

==

At this point in the year, I start looking back to the beginning . . . to make sure I'm on track to do what I set out to do with my year (or to let things just go, because things change y'know?). It's always interesting to review my personal goals and intentions to see how . . . on track I was back in January.

This month, I focused on the beginnings of the "journey" with my word for the year . . . root.

When I chose this word back in January, I was feeling battered . . . after going with the flow of 2020. (Flow was my previous word.) I was feeling the need to dig down into my own roots -- to take a look at what grounds me, and to build myself (back) up for whatever might come . . . next.  I had some ideas about things I might explore as the year unfolded (little activities and "exercises" I wanted to try), and I planned to follow along with Ali Edwards' One Little Word prompts when they inspired me (because they don't always).

Overall, I've been very much on track with my "root plans" for the year, and I've enjoyed some of the unexpected side roads I've explored as well. But there are still two questions that keep popping up in my journal:

  • What grounds me?
  • I am rooted in . . . 

I have been [pick one: ruminating about, exploring, skirting-around-the-edges-of] these questions all year. But I think that, for the remainder of the year, I want to be more intentional about addressing them. I've long wanted to compose my own "personal manifesto." In fact, that's been a goal I've ignored - and let go of - for years now. But I think . . . it's time. It seems like a perfect culminating activity for my root year.

[Let's have a little sidebar conversation about manifestos here for a second. Because what IS a "manifesto" exactly? Well. . . according to our friends at Merriam-Webster, a manifesto is "a written statement that describes the policies, goals, and opinions of a person or group." That's sounds a little . . . bigger . . . than what I want to do, which is more a setting down in writing of my personal intentions, motives, and views. Basically, I want to create a statement for myself that expresses what grounds me, what I am rooted in -- more a "This I Believe" kind of thing.]

So, anyway. I feel ready to finally tackle this. I think I'm finally . . . rooted enough. . .  to give it a try.
Or, at least, to give it a go.

And that's where I am with my word for the year, here at the end of September.
How about you? If you chose a word this year, where are you headed with it . . . in this last quarter of 2021?

==

If you're interested in learning more about personal manifestos, begin here with the Holstee Manifesto. I've wanted to create one for myself since first reading it, back in 2011.

==

And - just for fun - here are a few recent pages from my root journal.

IMG_6265

IMG_6267

IMG_6266

 


What Makes It "Good?"

Today - a Monday - I expect to hear this question nearly everywhere I go and from almost anyone I might encounter: Have a good weekend?

Because that's how it goes, right?
On Mondays we ask "Have a good weekend?" (And on Fridays we ask its close relative: "Big plans for the weekend?")

Such.
Pressure.
From.
Our.
Weekends.

And I always wonder . . . What makes it "good" anyway?

Because sometimes a "good" weekend means doing something exciting . . .  like going to a big event or visiting a cool place or doing something unexpected and unusual. But a "good" weekend can also mean accomplishing the mundane tasks of life . . . like getting through a big list of chores at home or tackling a big item on our to-do lists. Or a "good" weekend can be a weekend where we do absolutely nothing at all . . . like sitting around in our comfy clothes reading a book or knitting or bingeing a TV show. Sometimes a "good" weekend is dependent on things we can't even control . . . like the weather or a sports win or the behavior of other people.

Basically, a "good" weekend is in the eye of the beholder and can be . . . nearly any damn thing at all. Right?

What's my point with all this? I don't even know. I just think it's interesting that we put so much expectation into our weekends.

And, if you're asking . . . I had a GOOD weekend!

IMG_6245

What made it so?

Great weather to be outside -- and lots of time in the garden.

IMG_6235 2

(Tom doing battle with an out-of-control spirea. . . which is now at the curb, awaiting our city's quarterly brush pick-up service later today.) (He's my garden hero.)

A relaxing before-dinner beer on the patio.

IMG_6255

(I'll tell you more about my knitting project on Wednesday.)

And ice cream!

IMG_6256

Sometimes it's the simplest things that make for a "good" weekend!

By the way . . . How was YOUR weekend?


Still Looking, Always Looking

Last fall, I blogged quite a bit about how I was looking for hope. And then the new year arrived, and I just sort of . . . stopped. Not the looking. Just the blogging about it. It wasn't because I'd FOUND hope, really. (Although things were beginning to feel a little more hopeful back then, with a new president and vaccines on the horizon, y'know?) It was more that blogging about my search was hard, and I was ready to stop talking about it.

But I'm actually always . . . 

IMG_6221

And I'm feeling like talking about it again. So I'll probably blog about it now and then, going forward. Not on any kind of regular schedule. But every once in a while, I'll share my thoughts.

==

History says
Don’t hope on this side of the grave
But then, once in a lifetime
The longed-for tidal wave
Of justice can rise up
And hope and history rhyme.
    ---- Seamus Heaney

Lately, I've been feeling a bit . . . off. Not terrible. But also not great. Feeling stuck in an endless loop, and wondering how any of THIS (defined any way you'd like) will End Up. And I know I'm not the only one. Some of you have blogged about feeling this way. My in-real-life friends are talking about it, too. And so is my family.

I think . . . it's These Times.

I mean, we're 18 months into this Covid mess. And the country seems to be . . . well, let's just say . . .  stretched. And it feels like kindness and care and concern have disappeared. And then there's the climate. And . . . ohmygod how can this even BE? 

It's a lot.
Y'know?

Lately, I've been thinking about History.
And my Grandmother.

Even though there has been a lot of History (with a capital H) that has happened since I was born in 1959, it's all seemed kind of distant to me somehow. None of the history-making things of my lifetime have felt all that . . . personal for me. They didn't impact my day-to-day life, for example. They didn't direct what I could or couldn't do or where I could go. Everything kept rolling along . . .  same as it ever was, and I never felt threatened (for lack of a better word) or worried about the future. Even though History was happening all the time, I could still pretty much depend that the future structure of my life would hold.

But now? Well, somehow the future doesn't feel so dependable or seem guaranteed in that same kind of way. And that really does suck the hope right out of the room, doesn't it?

On that cheery note, let's step back and talk about my grandmother for a minute.

6a011570aae89d970b0115713e56ae970b

My grandmother was born in 1909, and she died just over 100 years later in 2009. Which means she saw a lot of History in her long life, and she lived through a LOT of crises. I mean, think about it . . .  

  • She was a child during World War I.
  • And during the Spanish Flu outbreak.
  • As a young wife and mother, she experienced the Great Depression. On a dairy farm.
  • And in her 30s, she went through World War II separated from her husband for years -- while raising 2 young children. (On a dairy farm).

My grandmother lived through some SERIOUS history.

And somehow, until recently, it never occurred to me to consider what it might have been like for her to live through SO MANY major crises of history -- ALL of them pretty darn personal. During those crises, she woke up every day not knowing how [fill-in-the-blank: WWI, Spanish Flu, The Great Depression, WWII . . . ] would end. She didn't know how any of these stories would turn out while she was living them -- and they really did impact her on daily basis. Restrictions. Rations. Loss. Personal risk. What kept her moving forward? What gave her hope . . . when all of these things were happening during her early life. It must have felt pretty bleak. 

I never really thought about how significant these events would have been for her. First of all, because she never spoke of them. But I think the big thing was that, of course . . . I already KNEW the outcomes! I knew what happened: that the Spanish Flu ended and the Great Depression ended and World War II ended . . . with Victory. So it was easy for me to minimize the reality of how it must have been for her, living through the uncertainty. But my grandmother didn't know. And she got through all it anyway! She must have felt pretty crappy while any of these things were going on all around her. And yet . . . she managed through it. She must have had some hope, and a lot of resilience.

6a011570aae89d970b0115713e578d970b-800wi

Hope and History.

I think it's hard for us to have hope right now . . . because we don't know the ending of this history we're living through. We don't know what will happen or how things will turn out. And we aren't terribly patient about it either. So it's all this . . . unnerving uncertainty. . .  that's sucking the hope from our lives.

But maybe we can look to the past . . . to see how resilient - as a people - we have been. And how we can be now.

Yes. Things ARE bleak at the moment.
It doesn't feel good.
We don't know any of the endings to our current storylines.
It's unsettling, and uncertainty is never easy.

But History - and my grandmother - show me that we are resilient, and that somehow we find ways to get through whatever History we need to get through. It may not feel comfortable, but we can do it. I think, maybe, that hope and history DO rhyme.

And that's where I'm finding hope today.

==

(Speaking of rhyming . . . let's have a poem, shall we? Because if this isn't a poem of hope, I don't know what is.)

In Any Event
Dorianne Laux

If we are fractured
we are fractured
like stars
bred to shine
in every direction,
through any dimension,
billions of years
since and hence.

I shall not lament
the human, not yet.
There is something
more to come, our hearts
a gold mine
not yet plumbed,
an uncharted sea.

Nothing is gone forever.
If we came from dust
and will return to dust
then we can find our way
into anything.

What we are capable of
is not yet known,
and I praise us now, 
in advance.

==

Today's poem was selected for inclusion in How to Love the World: Poems of Gratitude and Hope, edited by James Crews, Storey Publishing, 2021. Click here for more information about the poet, Dorianne Laux.