Looking back and thinking forward

Month: March, 2009

A different option

Quote of the day

A pessimist may be right in the long run, but the optimist has a better time during the trip. (Daily quote posted yesterday at Neidermyer's Poultry Counter – Chestnut Hill Farmers Market)

The other day at one of my presentations, I talked about doing and understanding only what we are able at any given moment. It seemed to make sense to people attending my talk – but, more importantly it made sense to me in a most profound way. One of the participants shared how hard it was to convince a younger person she cared about, that she needed a higher education in order to succeed in this world. At the end of her story, the older woman in my workshop asked my advice about how to convince her young protege about something she considered to be so crucial for her survival. I replied that she probably would not be able to convince the young woman of anything she did not experience. 

For example, when I was young, a number of significant people in my life told me that I was intelligent and should get a higher education. At that time in my life I was unable to even vaguely imagine what they were talking about. I did not feel like I was intelligent, but more painfully, I did not feel deserving of a higher education like everyone else. No amount of telling could convince me to try. But then, one day, almost twenty years later, after years of life experience, self destructive behaviors, therapy, and a bit of luck, I finally allowed myself to reach out, and pull myself out and up into the academic light.

You just cannot do what you are not psychologically or emotionally ready to do.

When I look back and remember moments with all the mentors, therapists, family members, or friends, who gave me advice and support along the way, I realize how they helped me arrive at that moment when I made a choice to change my life script. So, while it is important to share our passion, enthusiasm, support, role modeling – even personal advice – with others, we care about, at the same time, we will have to understand and accept that others may not take our advice or example yet, or ever. 

Perhaps our task as educators, counselors, family members or friends – is simply to offer others on our life's path, a different option. Perhaps that is all we can do.

A year ago at Mining Nuggets: An afternoon in New York

Amaravathi Devi is getting married

08-01-2005 07_52_51AM
Yes, March is the season of our anniversary. 10 years ago my son composed Amaravathi Devi's Getting Married as a gift for our wedding. 

02-18-2006 08_49_23AM

The name, Amaravathi Devi, was given to me 32 years ago by my Yoga Guru, Swami Sivalingam when he initiated me in a ceremony to receive my meditation mantra, and become a yoga teacher. I thought about that as I took my morning walk today, right after I did my usual daily yoga exercises and pranayama

Spring is in the air, it felt good, and Amaravathi Devi is feeling grateful for her son, whose music just gets better and better.

Writing it down

Writing is exciting for me. I have been doing quite a bit of it lately for a book I am editing (Gender Perspectives in Early Childhood), and a couple of articles in the works. 

Lately I have been noticing what happens to me a I write. Physically, my fingers fly over the keys and my eyes widen with excitement – I even lose my voice and become hoarse. As I start to express myself in a way that sounds good to me, and am able to put down what I have to say in words that ring literal and true, I find myself suddenly jumping up from my chair, and then proceed to running all about the house. It is as if the excitement is too much to bear. It feels dangerous in a way, thrilling. I do all sorts of unnecessary chores, all the while anxious to return to my writing, almost as if I am not allowed to go back to it just yet, just before I need to do this or that. 

I hold the pleasure of having things to say at bay. 

Moving on … ?

Quote of the day

As every flower fades and as all youth departs, so life at every stage – so virtue, so our grasp of truth – blooms in its day and does not last forever. Be ready heart for parting, new endeavor. Herman Hesse

One of my dissertation advisors used to say that we journey a-ways with people, and then move onto our separate paths when the time comes. It could be parting through death and dying, or divorce. It might happen from work places or cities and countries. When the time comes to move on … the time comes. We know it in our hearts and souls, we feel it in our brains. Moving on is all around us. Passages of time, journeys with loved ones and friends, colleagues and acquaintances, separation and goodbyes are all part of living and growing, physically and emotionally. As a teacher, and now professor, I bid farewell to classes of students from year to year, joyful for their future opportunities, and, at the same time, sad to say goodbye. Parting is such sweet sorrow.

And so it is with this blog. Of late, I feel the stirrings of moving on all around me. Change is in the air. This blog has been a most cherished companion these past four years, facilitating a conversation with my deepest Self, and offering me new insights and opportunities for self reflection, all the while sharing my stories with anonymous others out there in cyber space. I have even made a few friends for life.

In fact, my writing journey has brought me to a new place, a different space. The land of the memoir. Indeed, much of what I have written about on my blog seems to have been laying the foundation to a larger, more comprehensive story of me. But now I feel I might pull back into anonymity for awhile. The time has come to explore alone, quietly and privately, reading up and learning about the art of memoir writing, even as I start to author my own. 

I am not sure if I will share snippets of what I discover through my studies in the hours, days, weeks and months ahead. At the moment I sense a need to go this alone, without the support of this blog. Am not making declarations or drastic decisions. Rather, I will allow each moment to take me where I need to go – following intuition and insights, feelings, and my soul.
As I write this, in the dark of the newly sprung forward hour of the morning, a gentle rain starts to fall – like a blessing from the sky for the sprouting daffodils in our yard. Ada hunkers down to watch the drops of water, and a comfortable peace envelops my study. 
Dear blog, I am not yet bidding you farewell. Just letting you know that my writing path is stirring with changes, and I am not sure where it will lead … for me or you. 

Planning ahead

Quote of the day


Ashleigh Brilliant. [From a colleague]  

Bony white fingers (Update)


Quote of the day

Remember that you own what happened to you. If your childhood was less than ideal, you may be raised thinking that if you told the truth about what really went on in your family, a long bony white finger would emerge from a cloud and point at you, while a chilling voice thundered, "We told you not to tell." 

(Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird, page 6)

While grading papers waiting for my son in a coffee shop in Boston this past weekend, I laughed out loud as I read the above quote in one of my student's essays. Because, of course, "bony fingers" emerge in all sorts of ways from all manner of clouds, and in all sorts of shapes, colors and sizes.

And I have certainly had my share! 

Some bony fingers have pointed and jabbed at me accusingly, aggressively, always shaming, and others ominous and deadly by their cowardly silence, whispered as messages through doting and devoted grapevines. At times they appeared to me as "white and bony," but mostly flaming crimson, dark and gray, or slimy green. 

As I sat there sipping coffee and eating hot oatmeal topped with cinnamon and almonds, I wondered at how I had managed to continue with my writing, owning my story, all the while dodging flying bullets or cowering under icy, silence, as I proceeded along my path. 

Certainly, I felt supported by the writings of Anne Lamott, Natalie Goldberg, Eve Ensler, and Alice Miller – and so many others who have gone before. More than that, though, are the confused and bewildered faces of young children, in the forefront of my mind. As I find the courage to share my story, more adults are able to make connections between their own stories, and the early emotional memories they are creating for those young children in their care. 


If the sharing of my story saves even one child from humiliation and shame, it is worth all the myriad of bony fingers raining down from the clouds at me. 


For, I have realized that all those who need so desperately to point outward, fear only the shadows they might encounter within themselves.

A year ago at Mining Nuggets: Hope is in


Ilene sent me this piece … I thought it appropriate for right here …

Love After Love

The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other's welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

Anonymous submission.

Derek Walcott