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Posts Tagged ‘maturity’

Week 43 of #songaweek2016 had an added challenge to “write a song to your younger self.” It also happened to be the week of my birthday, so instead of the usual advice song I might have written (which is more like this one I wrote earlier in the year), I made myself a musical birthday card of sorts. There are plenty of things I may wish I had done differently in my younger days, but there are also things I can thank my younger self for, choices and actions that have helped bring me to this point of life in one relatively happy and healthy piece.

What would you thank your younger self for?

Thanks for having faith in me
thanks for believing I could grow up and be okay
thanks for still inspiring me
thanks for caring, growing, and learning

thanks for filling my head
with colorful memories
and propelling my will
with bold new dreams

thanks for saving me some money
thanks for choosing that man
thanks for holding on to me

I’m still alive and well
still have some miles to run
and though you’re only one of the many
people who I have to thank
you still count.

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My song for week 39 of #songaweek2016 was inspired by photos and videos from my Aunt Marti, taken on her regular outings with her mother, my beloved Grammy. I’m not really sure which of them has more fun when they get together!
You can also download the song for free here: https://soundcloud.com/julia-tindall-bloom/you-wont-be-young-forever

Someday you can take yourself less seriously
Someday you can look the world full in the face
and smile like you mean it
because you do
and take no notice of
meaningful glances
uncomfortable silence
and awkward questions

You won’t be young forever
won’t always be stuck in these ruts
won’t be always a slave to fashion
or scared of bad haircuts
so if you’re feeling like your life is getting dull and sick and tired
just remember that you won’t be young forever

We won’t be young forever
won’t always be stuck in these ruts
won’t be always slaves to fashion
or scared of bad haircuts
so when we’re feeling like our lives are getting dull and sick and tired
let’s be thankful that we won’t be young forever
we can be thankful that we won’t be young forever
hey aren’t we lucky that we won’t be young forever?

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For most of my life I’ve lived hundreds of miles and multiple states away from my grandparents, and for most of my life I’ve gotten back to see them about once a year. A relationship kept like that, in one-year snapshots, has a different sense of time and life passing. One year I’m a mousy elementary-school kid watching Hanna-Barbera cartoons and eating Honey Nut Cheerios with my cousins at Grammy‘s coffee table. Three visits (years) later, I’m an awkward junior-higher playing Grammy a song on the baby grand piano in that same living room. Click ahead a few more frames, and I’m a newlywed bringing my new husband to see the one constant physical place I’ve had in my life, Grammy’s house.

Then there are children to show her, my tiny branches from the family tree. They snuggle on her lap, then toddle on the floor, and they begin their own year-by-year memories of their great-grandmother, the only great-grandparent on my side of the family who they will remember. The other three died before my children could know them.

For many of the years past, Grammy has felt like the unchanging one, solid, always there, happy to see me, excited about all of the changes happening in my life. And always, every time since I showed her the first poem I wrote in junior high, asking me, “are you still writing? Are you still singing?”

In more recent years, Grammy has changed more noticeably. She remembers less, confuses the generations (my son is my brother, her grandchildren are her children . . .), talks more about the farm she grew up on, wonders where her parents are, can’t walk so well, doesn’t feel like eating . . . is generally growing out of life, “not long for this world,” as the old books used to put it. And still, each year when I visit, nearly the first thing out of her mouth when she sees me is “are you still writing? Are you still singing?”

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And so I sing for her, and for my mother, for myself, for my children, because we are all not long for this world. We are all and each of us touched by every year, every age, but never held in its grasp. Always moving on . . .

Here’s my song for week 32 of #songaweek2016:

Fertile soil brittle seed
Tender shoot luscious fruit
Fading flower falling leaves
Grieving ground resting roots

This is happening
These seasons turning to years
These years laying down marks
Uneraseable
Furrows plowed in flesh
Memories scattered like stars on the night sky of my mind

Every age may touch me
None will keep its grasp on me
I go on I go on I go on and on
Till I lay me down at last
In the great one’s arms

 

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Every moment of your life is a gift. You can stack all those gifts on a shelf and save them for later, but the little gremlins of time and urgency will tear into them and do with them what they will, and then you will be left with cleanup duty. Or you can quit waiting on everyone else, everything else, and take each gift in your arms, each moment, as it arrives, open it up, live it with intention. You can answer the call with your own voice and actions – take full responsibility, full pleasure, full heartache, whatever it is – from each moment.

My song for Week 20 of #songaweek2016 reflects on the passivity I and many women learned by osmosis growing up in a fundamentalist environment, and the ongoing conversation I’ve had with my younger self to work through it. So that even those moments I passed on the first time have become precious to me, have shaped me, as I perform the aforementioned cleanup duty.

It’s all good. All shall be well. This I still believe.

Hey little girl with the starry eyes
falling in love for the very first time
you always keep your toes in line
you always keep your tongue so tied

don’t hold back the words you need to say

You should tell him
you should tell him ’cause the mystery haunts my dreams
or you should leave it
you should leave it ’cause the mystery inspires me
I just wish that you had known that it was all your call

You spend your afternoons in secret gardens
writing all your secret thoughts
waiting for the world to come and find you
waiting for permission to come alive

don’t hold back the moves you need to make

Get up and dance now
get up and dance because my memories could use more joy
or keep your quiet
keep your quiet ’cause my memories could hold more peace
I just wish that you had known that it was all your call

but i’d never go back
not for a minute
and I wouldn’t trade it
not for a million
’cause I’ve learned that every moment is my call
and that my life is ringing
off the hook

 

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I closed out another journal this morning. Here’s an entry from earlier this year, written after a particularly painful evening of parenting.

Oh ten-year-old girl with the rages and rolling eyes, the cry and play of a child, the body and mind leaning towards adulthood. You are loved, and lovely. You are unpredictable, awkward, unkind, collapsible. Headstrong, indecisive, brilliant and naive.

I, young one, am your mother. I am wise and baffled. Patient and irritated. I love you. I do not always like you. I am not old and wise enough to never feel pain at your unkindnesses. (No, that’s not where wisdom would be found. Love feels the pain. Wisdom – and love again – can reach beyond it, to embrace you, to envision you in truth, a child-woman writhing in growing pains.)

Sleep tonight, my small darling. Sleep and be refreshed. You are not in-between two realities. You are fully functioning, smack-dab in the center of one reality, this one, the reality of your living self at age ten-and-one-half. And I am honored to know you here and now.

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I was looking for something to publish on my blog this past week, sifting through years of my own unpublished essays and blog post drafts. But so much of that stuff is just . . . stuffy. It sounds suspiciously like my 16-year-old self’s idea of a wise old college professor. It uses big words and tosses around hefty ideas.

That’s okay. But I’m just not so interested in that right now.

I’m interested in the sugar snap peas growing in my mother’s garden, and the ensuing stir-fry I plan to cook for her tonight, while the kids and I are here visiting for a couple weeks. I’m interested in good beer, and good stories. In easygoing conversation, lively music, and running errands by bicycle. In relaxing with a good book, also in my mother’s garden. In the moments I spent last week with my aging Grammy, when I sang to her and she told us stories of her youth, and I saw tears in my aunt’s eyes, and the fireflies lit up the woods behind the house as we said goodnight, and I felt the strange strength and beauty of that fragile moment supporting all of us who were present there together.

I mean to say, I’m interested in things that don’t accommodate big words and hefty ideas very well. I’m interested in the everyday things that are happening now, while they’re happening. In the people who are living now, while they’re living.

In the actual stuff of life, at the very heart of all the stuffy things I have to say about it.

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This right here. After 38.5 years of living and on my 16th wedding anniversary (happy day, Lover!), I deeply resonate with Seth Godin’s post about the infinite game.

What is the meaning of life? Godin answers it – “To play.” In Christian religious speak (and archaic sexist language), the question and the answer go like this – “What is the chief end of man? Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.”

In Tolstoy’s War and Peace (which took me the past year to read!), Pierre – a Russian aristocrat taken captive by the French – discovered the same thing after being freed.

(Aw, go ahead, sit down and read this little passage! I’ve highlighted my favorite parts for you skimmers, and added a couple explanatory notes in brackets. And I acknowledge that this passage also uses sexist language.)

A joyous feeling of freedom- that complete inalienable freedom natural to man which he had first experienced at the first halt outside Moscow- filled Pierre’s soul during his convalescence. He was surprised to find that this inner freedom, which was independent of external conditions, now had as it were an additional setting of external liberty. He was alone in a strange town, without acquaintances. No one demanded anything of him or sent him anywhere. He had all he wanted: the thought of his wife which had been a continual torment to him was no longer there, since she was no more [it hadn’t been a happy marriage, and his wife had died while he was in captivity].

“Oh, how good! How splendid!” said he to himself when a cleanly laid table was moved up to him with savory beef tea, or when he lay down for the night on a soft clean bed, or when he remembered that the French had gone and that his wife was no more. “Oh, how good, how splendid!”

And by old habit he asked himself the question: “Well, and what then? What am I going to do?” And he immediately gave himself the answer: “Well, I shall live. Ah, how splendid!”

The very question that had formerly tormented him, the thing he had continually sought to find- the aim of life- no longer existed for him now. That search for the aim of life had not merely disappeared temporarily- he felt that it no longer existed for him and could not present itself again. And this very absence of an aim gave him the complete, joyous sense of freedom which constituted his happiness at this time.

He could not see an aim, for he now had faith- not faith in any kind of rule, or words, or ideas, but faith in an ever-living, ever-manifest God. Formerly he had sought Him in aims he set himself. That search for an aim had been simply a search for God, and suddenly in his captivity he had learned not by words or reasoning but by direct feeling what his nurse had told him long ago: that God is here and everywhere. In his captivity he had learned that in Karataev [a peasant who had befriended Pierre in his captivity] God was greater, more infinite and unfathomable than in the Architect of the Universe recognized by the Freemasons. He felt like a man who after straining his eyes to see into the far distance finds what he sought at his very feet. All his life he had looked over the heads of the men around him, when he should have merely looked in front of him without straining his eyes.

In the past he had never been able to find that great inscrutable infinite something. He had only felt that it must exist somewhere and had looked for it. In everything near and comprehensible he had only what was limited, petty, commonplace, and senseless. He had equipped himself with a mental telescope and looked into remote space, where petty worldliness hiding itself in misty distance had seemed to him great and infinite merely because it was not clearly seen. And such had European life, politics, Freemasonry, philosophy, and philanthropy seemed to him. But even then, at moments of weakness as he had accounted them, his mind had penetrated to those distances and he had there seen the same pettiness, worldliness, and senselessness. Now, however, he had learned to see the great, eternal, and infinite in everything, and therefore- to see it and enjoy its contemplation- he naturally threw away the telescope through which he had till now gazed over men’s heads, and gladly regarded the ever-changing, eternally great, unfathomable, and infinite life around him. And the closer he looked the more tranquil and happy he became. That dreadful question, “What for?” which had formerly destroyed all his mental edifices, no longer existed for him. To that question, “What for?” a simple answer was now always ready in his soul: “Because there is a God, that God without whose will not one hair falls from a man’s head.”

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