Posted in General Interest, Jamie Dedes, poem, Poems/Poetry, poetry

Free, Female, Of Motley Race, Sixty-five

IMG_7727I’ve been known to chat with birds in public places
To rescue lost worms sizzling on the pavement in summer
To photograph the irrepressable in every garden
To weave music, emotion and story into poetry
I’m known to be free, female, of motley race and sixty-five

© 2015, poem and photograph, Jamie Dedes (The Poet by Day), All rights reserved

The April issue of The BeZine will publish here this Wednesday, the 15th.

We’re celebrating interNational Poetry Month

in concert with Second Light Network of Women Poets (SLN).*

The BeZine is a publication of Bequine Again and The Bardo Group.

* Second Light Nework of Women Poets is open world-wide to women poets over forty.  Affiliate membership is available for those under 40. Details on SLN’s website

Posted in General Interest, Jamie Dedes, poem, Poems/Poetry, poetry

A Madwoman, A Madonna, A Medusa

640px-Medusa_by_Carvaggio-1What’s it to me?
A knotted and nasty old poet of introverted time
wearing five-dollar sweats
dressing in black on black,
silver earrings tinkling softly in the winter breeze
What’s it to me? …

A Madwoman, A Madonna, A Medusa
Traipsing neighborhood streets, city parks, country lanes
Nibbling on sharp yellow cheese and glossy red apples
Sitting down on some wayward curb to sigh in wonder at
noisy birds, children, wizened old men, whiskered grandmothers
Dogs walking their humans by the side of the road
Feral cats scratching a living of pigeon stuffed with stale bread

Muttering, muttering, whispering, watching, writing
Writing long poems and short about what it was to be us
through clocked days trapped in pointless, punctilious youth
Enjoying now the wild, gnarly randomness of life
and the music of our dusty blue souls jingling as we walk …
What’s it to me? What’s it to this so lately untamable me?

© 2013, poem and photographs, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved; “Medusa” is in the public domain

Photo on 2014-03-31 at 17.16 #3unnamed-18JAMIE DEDES (The Poet by Day)~I am a medically retired (disabled) elder and the mother of married son who is very dear. I started blogging shortly after I retired as a way to maintain my sanity, to stay connected to the arts and the artful despite being mostly homebound. My Facebook pages are: Jamie Dedes (Arts and Humanities) and Simply Living, Living Simply.

With the help and support of talented bloggers and readers, I founded and host The Bardo Group because I feel that blogging offers a means to see one another – no matter our tribe – in our simple humanity, as brothers and sisters and not as “other.”

“Good work, like good talk or any other form of worthwhile human relationship, depends upon being able to assume an extended shared world.” Stefan Collini (b. 1947), English Literary Critic and Professor of English Literature at Cambridge

Posted in Spiritual Practice, Victoria C Slotto

The Web of Illusion

Photo: wikipedia commons
Photo: wikipedia commons

For the Summer Solstice—the longest day of the year, the first day of summer–I  turned my meditation corner around, facing my chair looking out the window instead of looking at the eerie but beautiful reflections of the leaves of our ornamental pear tree fluttering on the blank wall of my room. While the images were hypnotic, I couldn’t help but think of Plato in his cave and the thought haunted me that this was illusory beauty.

Photo Credit: Sara Loverling
Photo Credit: Sara Loverling

Looking directly at the trees, deep into our yard and yards beyond our own allowed me to see the play of light and shadow, and only a slight flutter of leaves. For the moment, stillness was able to come in…until illusion reappeared in the form of a bird that land on our roof and projected its shadow onto the side of our neighbor’s house. The shadow appeared long and skinny, almost like a sand piper or a heron, but since we don’t have either of those birds here in Reno, I realized I was once again facing illusion.

As I age, I’m aware of the imperative to dispel the illusions I’ve so carefully fashioned to carry me through life. A few months ago, I began digging through old journals, over forty of them—reviewing life, tearing up pages, letting go of secrets, negative emotions, anger and hurt, unfulfilled dreams, dusting off the mysterious web of illusion and, yes, celebrating growth, insight and success.

Photo: themanagementninja.com
Photo: themanagementninja.com

It’s interesting to see how the same old issues that cropped up back in 1988 are no different than those of today. I had to chuckle at my observations on then-Cardinal Ratzinger’s (Benedict XVI) ultraconservative stance that I found alienating to so many. If I’d only known.

And then there was/is my need to control—my perfectionism. I complained that I was only getting 6 hours of sleep because, when I awakened, I thought of how much I had to do and couldn’t go back to sleep. The morning  of the Super-moon I was up at 4 AM (couldn’t find it) and, of course, stayed awake thinking of how much I wanted to get done that day. It’s like that most every day.

And thus: illusion. Here I am—approaching the end of another decade of my life, still believing that so much, everything, depends on me. In another ten years, if I’m still playing this wonderful game of life, will it still be the same?

A few questions to reflect upon: What are your illusions? What purpose do they serve? Is it time to do something about them? You can comment if you like, but my intent is just to get you thinking.

Have a blessed day.

(Reblogged from Victoria C. Slotto, Author)

Victoria and Dave Slotto
Victoria and Dave Slotto

2940013445222_p0_v1_s260x420VICTORIA C. SLOTTO (Victoria C. Slotto, Author: Fiction, Poetry and Writing Prompts) ~  a Contributing Writer to Into the Bardo ,attributes her writing influences to her spirituality, her dealings with grief and loss, and nature. Having spent twenty-eight years as a nun, Victoria left the convent but continued to work as a nurse in the fields of death and dying, Victoria has seen and experienced much. A result of Victoria’s life experience is the ability to connect with readers on an intimate level. She resides in Reno, Nevada, with her husband and two dogs and spends several months of the year in Palm Desert, California.

Winter is Past is her first novel. It was published in 2012 by Lucky Bat Books. She has a second novel in process and also a poetry chapbook. Victoria is also an accomplished blogger and poet who has assumed a leadership role in d’Verse Poet’s Pub. You can read more ofher fine poetry HERE.

Posted in Essay, Jamie Dedes

ELDER POWER: Growing Strong in Broken Places

ELDER POWER:

Growing Strong in Broken Places

by

Jamie Dedes

Authors, like coins, grow dear as they grow old; It is the rust we value, not the gold. – Alexander Pope

Originally published in the now defunct California Woman.

I come to this place of Elder Power through the experience of a chronic, potentially life-threatening illness. Illness is many things. It is a mentor, not chosen, not welcome, but a mentor nonetheless. It is a challenge that often breaks the bonds of affection, the temper of the spine, and the sharpness of the mind. It is a reminder to everyone involved of his or her fragility and mortality. Everyone is touched: family, friends, and colleagues. Everyone is changed and the good or ill of it is largely choice

My family and friends want me to help others by writing from a more clinical perspective, but it seems to me that the clinical lessons are less important than the life lessons. It is the life lessons that give us the strength to keep going, that are the true value to be shared, and that make us elders. To me “elder” implies more than “senior” or “senior citizen,” which I see as demographic terms for people who have reached retirement age. A senior is someone who has merely put in time, while elder is about attitude and state of mind. Elder implies one who has learned a few things along the way.

As a writer, it is the life lessons, not the clinical ones, which inspire and inform my work. I have learned, for example, that all humans are in process and therefore imperfect; and that, no matter what our differences are, the most important things are to remain open to communication and to accept and release our own follies and those of others. I have learned that neither illness nor threat of death preclude joy. I have learned that people who are joyful rarely do harm to themselves or others. I have learned that fear of death has to be directly addressed and then firmly put aside in favor of the business of living. As the saying goes: “It’s not over until it’s over.” Until then, we have responsibilities to others and ourselves. The only real difference between someone who has a life- threatening illness and someone who doesn’t is that the former is no longer in denial.

“If people bring so much courage to this world, “ wrote Hemingway in A Farewell to Arms, “the world has to kill them to break them. The world beaks everyone, and afterward, many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break, it kills. It kills the very good and the very brave and the very gentle impartially. If you are none of these it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry.”

I am not good, or brave, or particularly gentle. Sometimes I let it all get me down. I descend into fear. I am impatient with process, with taking meds and going for seemingly endless tests and doctors’ appointments. Maybe that’s why I’ve outlived my original expiration date by ten years. My mother used to say, “Only the good die young.” My best quality may be that under my protective shell of intractability, I actually am willing to be broken and reformed. I suppose only time will tell if I have grown “strong at the broken places.”

So, here I stand, after twelve years of battle, at the dawn of a bright new day in a body that is now significantly disabled and quite a bit older. It’s still a good morning and a good body. I recognize I once dealt with a worse handicap than my current disabilities. That handicap is commonly referred to as “youth.” I survived. Maturity on the other hand is a true boon, a gift to savor and enjoy with layers of luxurious nuance I had not anticipated. I do not long for my youth. I love my graying hair. I love my wrinkles and the loose skin on my neck. I love the mild deformity of my feet. These things remind me that I am still here after all. I will not dye my hair, though I have. I will not get chemical injections or cosmetic surgery. I will not use rejuvenating grooming products that have been tested on defenseless animals. I am inspired by civil-rights-era African-Americans who sported Afros, said essentially “this is who we are and what we look like,” and chanted “black is beautiful.” I am graying. I am wrinkled. It’s all lovely and lyrical and makes me smile. It’s about ripeness, not rottenness. It’s honesty: what you see is what you get. Aging is beautiful. With maturity, one finds character refined and perspective broadened, energy expands and compassion flowers. The experience of joy comes more easily.

As survivors, we owe it to those who have gone on, to live in gratitude for this gift of a long life. How ungrateful and what an insult it is to them for us to bemoan our maturity and yearn for our youth as we so often do. What an incredible waste of time and energy such yearning is. Many don’t survive childhood in their impoverished and war-torn areas. Some others don’t survive childhood due to congenital or other diseases. My sister died by her own hand when she was twenty-seven. I have a wonderful, talented, smart friend in her mid-thirties who will pass within three months from this writing. Like you, I have relatives and friends who didn’t make it to fifty, much less sixty or seventy. All things considered, aging is a gift not a curse.

Some of our power comes from our sheer numbers. I read somewhere that we are some six hundred million strong worldwide. In each of our countries, we represent a huge political constituency, a lucrative market, and an enormous fount of energy, experience, and expertise. If that isn’t power in this modern world, what is? What a force for peace we could be. Some of our power comes from consciousness. We are awake now. We have learned how to live in the moment and how to live joyfully, hugely. That alone is a lesson to share. Some of our power comes from more time and focus. Many of us are retired or semi- retired or on disability, or soon will be. Implicit in that is the time to keep abreast of issues in our communities, countries, and our world. We can take the time and make the effort to get accurate information, to analyze carefully, and to share appropriately; that is, in a well considered, non-inflammatory, non-sensational manner. We can act with grit and grace.

Let us show that we are strong in the broken places. Let those of us who have this gift of long life seize on it and ply our elder power. Let’s live with joy, do good, and have fun. Most of all let us be generous with our love. Soon enough, when the time is ripe, our bodies will return to the earth. Our spirits will go wherever spirits go. The river of earthly life will continue to flow. Our children will see us reflected in the eyes of their children. Our grandchildren will strain to hear our voices in rustling leaves and breezes that whisper to them in the night. They will seek us out in moonlight and the warmth of the sun, in the roar of the oceans and the gentle meandering of a lazy brook. They will find us in the good earth and in the good hearts of the lives we’ve touched with concern and compassion.

© 2009  photo and essay, Jamie Dedes All rights reserved