Posts Tagged love

The Sea is my Secret-Keeper: in Honor of National Poetry Month

In honor of National Poetry Month, I thought I’d share this.

If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably had at least one moment in your life in which you were afraid to tell someone something. This is my feeble attempt to put that feeling into words.

Sunset on the beach
When the waves whisper
stories entrusted to their keeping
by overflowing hearts.

The sea swims with secrets.
They play around
our feet like puppies
As we walk along the shore.
Now scampering forward.
Now retreating.
Wanting to share
hesitant to trust.

I watch you toss
up handfuls of sand
Just to see
them dance on the breeze
a little boy
playing catch with the wind.

Your laughter tugs
at my heart
And I feel the words
begin to form
the faintest quickening
in my belly.
Your fingers brush
the back of my hand
like an afterthought
and I roll my tongue
across the words
testing them.
I am a mother
blowing on a baby’s spoon.
I shiver at their taste
Like morcels of baker’s chocolate.

I rest my cheek
against your shoulder
and the words tingle
on the tip of my tongue.
A diver poised to spring.
Do my words have wings?
Can I cradle you in them
and fly over the horizon?
or will I fall
Foolish little Icarus.
So I watch the sun
slip over the horizon
and I blow a kiss
to the wind
that caresses your cheek
and wonder if you can hear the secret
in the whisper of the waves.

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To Leap is to Live!: Reflections on 2/29

“She’s a butterfly, pretty as the crimson sky. Nothin’s ever gonna bring her down. And everywhere she goes, everybody knows, she’s just glad to be alive. She’s a butterfly.”- Martina McBride

I was 5 years-old, standing at the edge of the community pool, watching as plumes of spray rose around the other children as they splashed and swam. Across the pool, a girl performed an effortless swan-dive into the water from the diving board. Oh, how I wanted that—to leap, to fly, to feel momentarily weightless before the pull of gravity took its hold. I glanced down at the water below, squinting at the arc of sunlight bouncing off its surface into my eyes. Without my glasses, I could barely see the point where the concrete ended and the water began, but I could see the outline of my father’s shoulders against the glare of sun and sky reflecting off the water.
“Jump. I’ll catch you,” he encouraged. I gulped, envisioning broken bones and blood-splattered bricks.
“It’s safe. I promise.” (Sure, dad, and the Easter Bunny is real. Whatever).
“Nothing is going to happen to you.” (Really? I seem to recall a story about an overly ambitious pig with the desire to fly who wound up with a pair of melted wings and a squashed-in face. Moral of the story: creatures without wings are not meant to become airborne).
“You can do it. There’s no reason to be scared.” I swallowed hard, squeezed my eyes shut (because the view wouldn’t have been much different with my eyes open) and jumped…straight into the water and into my father’s arms.

As children, we believe in the miracle of flying—that all it takes is a superman cape and a rooftop to send us soaring into the sky. As adults, reality is the gravity that drags us down; we heed the caveat to “look before you leap,” fearing that, like the little pig who got his wings, we might fall prey to the failure of our fanciful, flighty dreams. Today, I am thankful that I learned to leap, for to leap is to live. Sometimes, I land on my feet with feline agility; more often than not, I cradle a bruised elbow (or ego), for with every leap there comes a lesson.

Nearly a year ago, I took a leap into a relationship (albeit a wonderful one, in many ways) that forced me to think I could have benefited from a few emotional skydiving lessons. There’s a reason why they tell you to tuck and roll when you hit the ground—part of learning to fly is learning to fall. These are not mutually exclusive concepts. And yet the only way to love is freely, without inhibitions, and with the bruised egos and broken bones comes the strength of survival.

“And you know,” my best friend said to me when we were discussing it recently, “one of the things about you that’s really amazing, and maybe a little intimidating, is that in spite of everything you’ve been through, you can still love so easily.” And this is why, when the opportunity to love comes again, I will leap at the chance, because to love is to leap, and to leap is to live.

Question: How did you celebrate Leap Day? Who taught you to leap—in either a literal or figurative sense?

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The Price of Everything and the Value of Nothing: or, Valentine’s Day and the Commoditization of Love?

“Nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing.”- Oscar Wilde, the Picture of Dorian Gray.

This quotation has been marinating in my brain for the last several days as I’ve been rereading the novel from which it is taken, and I found myself reflecting upon it last night as I entered the grocery store with a friend and was immediately in danger of being sucked into a vortex of Valentine’s Day merchandise: cards, candies, flowers, cupcakes, cookies, balloons, and teddy bears offered fragrant, fluffy, and fatty reminders of the approaching Hallmark holiday. Now, I am in no way averse to the celebrating of Valentine’s Day, but I do think that it’s gotten increasingly like the commercialization of Christmas in the marketing campaigns associated with it.

When I was growing up, my father would come home from work on Valentine’s Day each year with a bouquet of flowers and a box of chocolates each for my mother and me. When I was in high school, the student counsel sold roses and balloons each Valentine’s Day, and my father (who taught at my school) would send me a rose and a balloon each year, anonymously of course, and he still won’t admit to having done it because there was, and possibly still is, the chance that some boy too socially aware of his reputation to openly like the blind girl might secretly have wanted me to know he was out there, somewhere. Forming an alliance with me might be “regarded as a highly reprehensible connection” by the rest of the school, but I was no less worthy all the same. My dad did what he did for the simple joy of watching me participate in the day with my peers.

The past two years, I’ve received a package from my mother with several dozen chocolate muffins from Vitalicious. Nothing says “I love you” quite like a box of fiber-infused, shit-your-brains-out chocolate chip muffins. More importantly, they’re practical, like my mother. These guilt-free, tasty treats are a weekend ritual for me—a hardy helping of indulgence on a Saturday morning. They are, however, rather pricy on a fixed income, and bank account, heart, and waistline appreciate the gesture.

Such sweet simplicity offers a stark contrast to the advertisement from Amazon.com that appeared in my inbox a few weeks ago: a special deal on the new Kindle Fire, an exclusive Valentine’s Day offer! As gadgets and gizmos replace candy and cuddly animals as tokens of our affection, is the price tag on love getting bigger and its value getting smaller? Perhaps, though we might argue that jewelry store sales have been indicating as much for years. Truthfully though, whether you show your love with candy or a Kindle, what matters most is that your heart is in the right place.

St. Valentine’s name is taken from the Latin word “valens,” meaning strong, powerful, healthy, and worthwhile, according to Latinwordlist.com. This day isn’t simply about chocolate, cards, and conversation hearts; it’s about cultivating strong, powerful, healthy, and worthwhile relationships, with yourself as well as with others.

So: love to all, not just today, but each day. Remember that you are worthy of love and are loved in ways you probably aren’t always aware of. Most importantly, remember that love, the most priceless gift we have to share, is also the freest. (Restrictions do not apply. Offer good year-round).
Happy Valentine’s Day!

P.S: Thanks to Yearstruicken over at Year-Struck for providing some inspiration for today’s post. Check out her post: Love in the Time of Garlic, because everyone deserves a bit of bloggy love, especially on Valentine’s day!

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Playing with Fire, Scorched by Flame: Ellen Hopkins’ Burned

I’ve had this novel in my “TBR” pile for several months, and in the humdrum of returning to work after the holiday, I decided to pick it up, thinking that some good young adult fiction would help me forget, at least temporarily, the stress of life. (Obviously I was new to Ellen Hopkins). I found, instead of the trials and tribulations of teen angst, a compelling story of love and hate, of faith and doubt, of feud and forgiveness.

Pattyn Von Stratten is a good Mormon girl: completing her chores, caring for her six younger siblings, dutifully attending sacrament meetings and seminary, tacitly tolerating her father’s alcoholism and abuse and her mother’s submissiveness to his domineering ways. But then a secret relationship with a “real boy”—a non-Mormon boy—incurs her father’s wrath and triggers a chain of drama that results in Pattyn’s “exile” to spend the summer with an estranged aunt in Nevada.

Banished from her home to be punished, Pattyn finds comfort in the arms of “Aunt J”. Battered and broken, she learns about the healing power of love. After years of attending sacrament meetings and adhering to church elders who rarely practice what they preach, Pattyn finds God in the thunder that rolls across the mountain range, in the rhythmic rocking of a horse’s canter, in the eyes of a boy who loves her. So long crouched in cold darkness, she blooms in the wild of the Nevada desert. But in these vast, wide open spaces where her heart is free to fly, is there a shelter in which she can escape her demons?

Burned is a story about the choice to love and the consequences of that choice—that with great gifts come great responsibility, and that even God, in his infinite wisdom, deals doses of tough love. Ellen Hopkins’ simple yet elegant pros at once touches and twists the heart of the reader, and Pattyn’s story is one that gives voice to any young girl forced to grow up in a narrow-sheltered world where questions are forbidden by adults who have no answers.

Note: not being entirely familiar with the Mormon faith, I cannot attest to the accuracy of the portrayal, but this is a story whose power is not bound by cast and creed; Pattyn’s family could just as easily be a Protestant family, A catholic family, a rich family or a poor one. It is a story that will resonate with anyone who struggles in a world where being lost seems far easier than finding oneself.

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