Books and I: friends forever

The end of a book’s wisdom appears to us as merely the start of our own. Proust

This phrase has certainly been true for me. From the start of my retirement journey, books seem to keep track of of my progress along my interior journey and to offer support when I was feeling overwhelmed by the depth of the changes that surrounded me. I found solace, recognition that I was not alone on this journey and suggestions as to new ways to think of myself as the ‘old order’ vanished and I was feeling intensely vulnerable.

So often I would go to the library; the next book I ‘needed’ to read was waiting for me to select it, call it my own for a time: ‘this book was written for me’ crossed my mind several times. Did I always agree with the author’s point of view? Not always…but then, authors did not always agree with each other. Aging, the new frontier, has many points of view on the elegance and challenges of growing old…always more to learn, invitations to expand our lives even as society has plans for downsizing. Not only for homes. Avidly, I read of others’ lives, saw some possibilities in my own and sought to share my journey with others…fellow warriors on the new/er path. I could do this, I thought.

As my life continues to change and I let go of’ things that no longer serve me’, it seems as though those books, podcasts, and articles have provided me an excellent foundation for composing my own further life. Who am I? What matters to me? What are my new beginnings? My daily journal entries seem to help me explore new and reflective landscapes. I do have something to say about my journey and the teaching/learning environment it provides. Plays and publishing work seem to be on the horizon. Increased awareness of patterns and routines allows me to breathe differently and to listen to my heart and soul…and my body: what are its desires? How do we live as one? The essential me is strong and yearning to live out loud. Song and dance continue to fill my heart with joy: bellydancing as life…I am learning the steps slowly. Songs, melodies, chants work their magic. Singing along and composing my own ditties: it is my thing! My aging body has its own messages of support and desire to be considered. So many possibilities to be explored…who knows what will be next? Anticipation.

I will end…with a book. Over the Rooftops, Under the moon by JonArno Lawson. In the picture book, he explores life: alone and together, change: inside and out and what we can come to understand. Near and far. I will make my own meaning from this text and beautiful illustrations. I am hearing the sound of GO!
Live your life as you choose!

Ancient vocabulary:

philautia…taking care of self

agape…love for everyone

Philia…loyalty to friends

MY credo.


Inch by inch; row by row…

Taking a step-
How will I feel?
What will it look like?
Who will notice?
What if…
One step is not a pattern.

Taking another step-
Feeling nervous:
doing it anyway.
Familiar: beginning of un
Towards…and letting go of!
Desire and design hold hands.
I am holding my breath.

Beginning and becoming unfold,
Living through my senses:
I am new and renewed.
The music of my life flows
from Source. Heart and soul are
engaged in this enterprise that
reflects my experience,
changes my circumstances.
Feeling more confident.

Out there in the world
I am sharing my natural gifts
out loud.I am feeling some resistance.
Both successes and learning opportunities
are mine!I can make a difference.
I am learning!
I am feeling!
I am creating!
I am breathing!
I am expanding.
Conscious living invites deeper relationships
with myself…other.


Onwards and upwards; outwards and inwards
She travels.
Trusting, believing in, grateful for
Her pilgrim life.


Earlier this year I attended an all day session with the poet, David Whyte. The subject of his talk: ‘half a shade braver’. He spoke of the  courage to live my life: willingness to be vulnerable, to inhabit my life rather than haunt it, to be hospitable to the stranger in me. Many questions accompany me as I continue:

  • What conversation am I prepared to let go?
  • What do I really want?
  • How do I find me?

A little later, I found a book by Brene Brown – Rising Strong.  This book, and others she has written, speak of a willingness to be vulnerable  as essential to living a full life: that courage, compassion and connection are first- being kind to myself as I contemplate changes in my life. If I am willing to lean into  some discomfort, I will inhabit my authentic self on my journey to wholeness.  Of course, there are many questions…all leading to living a larger life, listening to my heart, being truthful- no more pretense.

Since then, a murder mystery with a quote from CS Lewis:

I have come home at last! This is my real country. I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now…come further up, come further in!

And, another book – the author uses this same invitation in connection with some intense action and its aftermath…and a song, a Ginette Reno lyric:

un peu plus haut – a little higher
un peu plus loin -a little further

Alan Seale speaks of breaking open, of creating the conditions to deepen my awareness and wonder about my learning curve as I contemplate:

  • What wants to happen?
  • Who’s that asking me to be?
  • What’s that asking me to do?

All of these authors offer both a challenge and an opportunity to explore conversations I have had with myself. My observations? In my next blog.



Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, accountability and authenticity. Brene Brown

Vulnerable is the only way we can feel when we truly share the art we’ve made. When we share it, when we connect, we have shifted all the power, naked in front of the person…we have no excuses…nothing to protect us. And that is part of our gift. Seth Godin

Vulnerability is the underlying, ever present and abiding undercurrent of our natural state. D. Whyte

I’ve just read two blogposts; each author/poster describe circumstances that caused them to feel vulnerable and that they allowed themselves to feel in that state. Where there was avoidance was in the response of those who viewed this vulnerability as negative. In the other case, this admission created opportunities for others to offer support and kindness. In those posts, I found myself reflecting on feeling vulnerable in my life.

Long ago,a child I knew announced:’I’m a very big girl and I can do it myself!’ Was there a lesson from her family? Or was she seeking independence? Or….

Time was –

numb, pretend, perfect
were good words – valued
in my world. Oiled the spiral of my life:
provided a framework for safety.I was fine.
I did not risk much-
besides slices of adventure away from routine.
Emotions and passions were in abeyance.
What else was there in life?
Could it be I was avoiding feeling vulnerable?
Changing costume but not feeling bone structure?

Retirement’s doors and windows offered
Endings and beginnings…
This time in between is for exploring.
Along my inner journey
I tried to continue habits, patterns: no peace.
So…step off the merry round
to find what has fostered my separation
from my life.Who am I?
Deepening awareness of old patterns as scaffold revealed:
some no longer serve me. What do I value?
Without roles,I can dismantle the facades-
Keep the fire- of belonging beyond my paper doll self.
I feel vulnerable at every turn; aging,loss, wondering…
I have calibrated my responses
to people and situations. I have been haunting my life.
What do I really want?
Beyond echoes…

These days-

allow, courage, gratitude
These ideas support me as I learn to live my life.
Beyond circumstances,I belong in the world.
No longer exiled and/or imprisoned-
I am walking along my pilgrim path
towards the truth of me.
How will I inhabit my life fully?
The answers lie within me- I have written.
I am enough. Wondering about emotions?
Felt and expressed:beyond fear and anger as cover-
I am learning about feeling vulnerable…
and what was living beneath my armor. Love.Joy.
Hearing my voice in the world,I feel more powerful.
I find courage to risk… the ebb and flow
of doing and being is mending my fractured parts.
With wholeness- not hiding my desires, I create.
I am grateful.

Dreams and Commitments

The song’ May Joyful Music fill the Air’ is floating through my consciousness these days. While the canon is old(Tallis 1505-1585),the sentiment remains positive. On Tuesday, I completed the ‘Sacred Gifts’ course I spoke about in my last post. I had identified some of my gifts and the assignment was to choose one or two and to imagine how to try them out and what commitments I was willing to make. I chose ‘Encourager’ and ‘Music’.

It was a revelation to see how aligned I have been with my revealed gifts. I have been working with older adults on issues of identity and continued contribution. Equally, encouraging people to record and tell their stories has been part of the workshop and program series I offer…many kind comments about their value have come my way. I do want to continue with these conversations about living well as we age and the creative potential we share. For details, please consult my website.

Music? It has been my motivator and has often changed how I looked at life. Post retirement, I wrote poetry and lyrics to describe the changes I was experiencing but  had never gone forward with them. What if I found someone to help me with melody and turned them into singable songs? I took voiceover training and have a CD of the various voices I can produce, but never marketed them well. What if I sent the CD out again? Targeted to different markets? My fellow participants also had some great ideas for me…use of technology: UTube to sing my songs, narrate some excerpts from books and poetry I had read to help me on my interior journey, podcasting,making videos and posting them…not quite a foreign language but opening doors for this pencil and paper person. How do I market a blog?

The gifts of this course have been many and varied and I am grateful for this opportunity.Much of the framework is already in place and only needs to be revitalized.  Most of all, I know that I do not have to do it all. I can let go of the pieces that are clearly not my gifts or that are outside my abilities. I can plan the pathway and invite knowledgeable people to support, partner with me as I move forward. I am not alone.

The following Goethe quote is pertinent to counter my inertia:

Until one is committed

There is hesitancy, the chance to draw back

Always ineffectiveness……

That the moment that definitely commits ones self

The Providence moves too.

All sorts of things occur to help one

That would never otherwise have occurred.

A whole stream of events issues from the decision

Raising in one’s favor all manner

Of unforeseen incidents and meetings

And material substance

Which no one could have dreamt

Would have come your way.

Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it.

Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.


Stay tuned.