What Brenda Learned from Sally Elliot’s Painting

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Don’t be afraid to go alone into the dark.

Sometimes you won’t know where to begin.

Sometimes you will begin many times.

If you stop you won’t start again.

Everything breathes.  Trees. Colors. Sky. Shapes. You. Everything.

The sun is always shining

somewhere.

From the roots of despair comes courage.

Out of courage comes breath.

Out of breath comes new beginning.

Don’t be afraid to go alone into the dark.

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Prickly Memories

In a few days I will return to Muhlenberg College for the IWWG Summer Conference. Looking through my journal from last year and found this poem I wrote in Myra Shapiro’s workshop on July 21, 2016.

mama and daddy

The mole on mama’s chin;

Bangs that landed two inches above her brow

A temper that flashed when I rubbed her the wrong way

She is attached to me by an umbilical of wounds.

Piercing memories

The white dress she stitched for my Phi Mu Pledge Dance

The goodbye she waved to the back of a Greyhound bus

“I wrote you everyday in my mind” she scrawled on that last birthday card.

A single ovary produced a daughter who never bore fruit.

Who left her never to return.

More than a container of seeds.

I trace the lines on my palm and the furrow between my brow.

I revisit scars that map a lifetime.

I touch the mole on my chin.

Once removed only to return.

July 21, 2016

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Things to do on Sifnos on a Windy Day

Find a sunny spot and drink Chai Tea

Watch the white caps dance across the Agaean 

Practice your Dancer’s Pose on a stonewall

Let the sound of the wind lullaby you to sleep and wake you up  again 

Don’t regret the walk you didn’t take or the souvenirs you didn’t buy for they can wait for tomorrow 

Just look at that Bougainvillea dancing up that stone wall

Breathe in gratitude

Breathe out regret. 

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Midnight in Apollonia

 In a murderous time

   the heart breaks and breaks

      and lives by breaking.

It is necessary to go

   through dark and deeper dark

      and not to turn.

-Stanley Kunitz

I walked home in darkness surrounded by new friends, laughter and the sound of startled goats.

Their bells clanged as they ran up the hill like apparitions in the moonlight. 

The path that had been long and unfamiliar just a day before now familiar even in darkness. 

There is a lesson there somewhere. 

Is the lesson about goats or friends or the tiny beams of shared light that illuminated the path?

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Snow Day

It takes a long time to learn how to do nothing. -Marty Rubin

There are few things that are as much fun as watching Samoyeds play in the snow. While some of my friends are probably “getting stuff done” today, I am being wonderfully idle.  The most productive things I’ve done are change the one clock I’d neglected to adjust to daylight savings time, delete a bunch of photos and unload the dishwasher. I spent a few minutes out in the back yard with The Blues Sisters and made a short video of their play. I found a video of Krishnamacharya and shared it with my power yoga teacher training class.  I absorbed a bit of wisdom from Thich Nhat Hanh. I spent just enough time looking out the window and thinking.

It has been a very good day.

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Ball Momentarily Forgotten, DeltaBlue Discovers Snow is Just Frozen Water

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Begin Here

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In December I made a decision to begin yoga teacher training. I signed up immediately – months in advance of the February 22nd start date. Every yoga class I took was preparation for the teacher training. I ordered the suggested text  Journey Into Power – by Baron Baptiste, purchased a deluxe yoga mat, began a yoga journal and marked each class on my calendar.

Now, less than a week away from the first class, I look at the schedule and wonder whether I can do it. Now each section of the course material seems daunting, the requirements challenging and my age an impediment.  Do I imagine the new pain in my knee or the tightness in my lower back? Have I made a mistake?

Then this morning I received an email

Hello yogis,

Power Yoga Training starts next week! The teacher training team is excited to gather together with you and get this journey started.

Once you make a decision, the world conspires to make it happen.”– Ralph Waldo Emerson

As I read on, the excitement returned. I could do this. I will do this. The Emerson quote reminded me of all the beginnings I had made and all the joy they had brought me.  The secret – whether it’s a novel, a marriage or a pile of dirty dishes: First you begin. Then you continue.

 

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The Day I Took 2nd Place at the Dog Show

In honor of all the dogs competing in the Westminster Dog Show

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Arlo – Best Dog Ever

I put on two pair of socks and three pair of sweat pants and took Arlo for his pre-dawn walk. It was 3 degrees. Arlo is built for that kind of weather. My lips froze. When we got back I filled my backpack with the things I thought I would need at the dog show and dressed like the handlers I had seen on TV – dark colors to show off the white dog, sensible shoes, hair tied back so it didn’t fly around and distract the judges or the dog. I loaded the jeep with dog, crate and backpack and headed to Point of Rocks.

 

When I arrived there were dogs everywhere. All of the handlers looked the same. They had big hair – like my Aunt Gladys – they wore spandex pants and pullovers with pictures of Samoyeds embroidered on them. They were all named Carol or Judy. With the help of two volunteers I managed to get Arlo registered for the show. They gave me an armband with a number 12 on it.

“Put this around your left arm. You can take your dog into the judging area so he can get used to it. Have fun!”

For the next two hours Arlo and I walked, trotted, and stacked our little hearts out. Once I tried to leave the ring and Marge (Arlo’s breeder) screamed at me “Get back in there. You can’t leave until you are dismissed.” I obeyed. Marge is quite a commanding presence. That day she was wearing white, fluffy earmuffs that looked like they had been made from a badly behaved Samoyed.

Marge had thirty minutes to puff and fluff Arlo before the judging began – combing and brushing – talking a mile a minute. Arlo took it all much better than I did.

“Number 12 to the ring. Number 12 to the ring.”

“Oh my God. We’re number 12, Arlo.”

Marge lifted Arlo from the table and I made my way awkwardly to the ring, fumbling to secure my armband with a rubber band while guiding Arlo through an obstacle course of dogs and bitches.

“Here we go, Arlo. Just do whatever that dog in front of you does.”

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Contributor’s Note

I was first introduced to Michale Martone and his Contributors Notes in Marj Hahne’s  workshop at the IWWG Summer Conference.  After meeting Martone – in the flesh – last week at AWP I decided to try to write some of my own Contributor’s Notes.  Try it.  It’s fun.

My Contributor’s Note  images

Brenda Mantz was born many husbands ago in Kings Daughters Hospital in Norfolk. Virginia. Her mother was there too and it was the closest she ever was to her daughter. They had been inseparable for nine months and Frankie May was happy when they cut the cord. While Brenda was being born her father Virginius was at the Gloryhole sifting through plastic baskets looking for the shells with three peanuts, cramming nickels into the jukebox and drinking salted beer. Brenda once had her knuckles crushed playing shuffleboard at the Gloryhole where she excelled at finding three nutted peanuts

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LOVE

Nothing takes the taste out of peanut butter quite like unrequited love.

Charles M. Schulz

The last original Peanuts comic strip was published 17 years ago today. Poor Charlie Brown’s undying love for the little red-haired girl was never returned in the strip.

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Love comes in many forms. The look in the eyes of the bull dog that sat in front of the DeltaBlue and SaraBlue at Pups in the Park were filled with love.

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DeltaBlue’s attempt to get the puppy Aurora to play with her – sadly unrequited.

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My hope for you – this day before Valentines Day – is that your love not be unrequited.  But remember, there is always peanut butter.

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Happy Birthday Mr. Lincoln

From time to time we all experience bouts of melancholy. Sometimes we even enjoy it.  Who doesn’t like sad melodies or tear-jerking melodramas. For most of us these spells are temporary.

This was not the case with our 16th President whose birthday we observe today. Many of Abraham Lincolns’s close friends noted his melancholy.

He often wept in public and recited maudlin poetry. He told jokes and stories at odd times—he needed the laughs, he said, for his survival.

Strange isn’t it that he was quoted as saying “Most people are as happy as they make up their minds to be.”

Personally I believe he would have been much happier if he owned a couple of Samoyeds.img_4131

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