Friday, November 30, 2012

Farewell to November

A delphinium grew in my garden in November!

This young delphinium stalk in my front garden was determined to spring up and flower, without waiting for spring to come. When I pruned a nearby rose bush, some of the branches knocked the delphinium over, so I brought it in and put it on the kitchen table in order to savor its wonderful color, a delicious departure from the autumnal tones that can be found all around, though the rain and wind storms we've been having will mean the end of the last bright red and gold blazes of leaves on nearby trees. I love that blue color on flowers. It is so ethereal, so like the summer sky.

This week I've been musing about my upcoming event,  The Poetry of Aging, which I am offering in two days at the Ashland Library. Years ago, I was rather shy about performing, but now it is one of my favorite ways to share with others. I have come to understand that it is a gift to be so relaxed about it and to enjoy it so much.

I haven't figured out an organized menu for presenting the poetry. I do have some poems grouped by themes. I'm still deciding whether I need to have a set order for the poems, or whether to be more fluid in the way I bring them out.  Either way, it is going to be a lot of fun and I think the audience will enjoy it. Poetry allows us to share in ways that are not possible with our everyday language. "Poetry heals the wounds inflicted by reason," the poet Novalis said.

I am happy that I found a woman to film the event. I'm planning to create a DVD and make it available through our website and at Sage's Play events. Stay tuned for more on how The Poetry of Aging transpires.


Louise Pare, Ph.D. Women's Spirituality

 Last weekend, I attended a celebration offered by We'Moon, a group of women who publish a calendar and a daybook filled with womens' art, writings and astrological observations. We'Moon has been publishing for over 30 years and is based here in southern Oregon. My friend Louise Pare was very happy to have an excerpt from one of her poems published in the 2013 calendar.

We'Moon contributors come from all over the country. It was wonderful to meet some of the women who contributed, to see their beautiful paintings and prints and to hear their poetry and essays. I met Bedo there. An artist that reads this blog, Bedo came down from Cottage Grove to celebrate having some of her art in the calendar.

Congratulations Louise, Bedo and all the other women whose work is collected in this beautiful and inspiring resource. By now, the longtime organizers, such as Bethroot, have become elders, and they are excellent models of how to inspire, engage and contribute.

This is in the "you never know what is coming next in life" department

Much to my surprise and delight, my old friend Serena invited me to accompany her on a cruise to the Mayan ruins at the time of the winter solstice, which is the time some people call "the end of the Mayan calendar." The Mayans view it as a shift into another era of Mayan time. The notion of taking a cruise is not something that probably would have occurred to me on my own, but thanks to Serena, I will be having a new adventure. So far I have only glanced at the materials about where we are going and what we are doing. I may wind up reading more about it, but maybe not.

I know there is something about the goddess Ixchel. I know we will be meeting a Mayan shaman at one of the ruins.

I am really looking forward to this unexpected new experience.

I've known Serena for many years, but we haven't spent any time together for a long time.  We met as part of a group of healers called The Church of the Gentle Brothers and Sisters. A couple of other members of that group will be on the cruise, too. It will be great to connect with each other.

What a generous gift she is giving me in inviting me to be her guest.

This is the cruise ship. We leave in mid-December. I will tell you all about it when I get back.

Have your checked out Retirement and Inspirement Coaching, a service we are offering to help people maximize their later years?

You can read more about it at our website.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Living In the Community

The Greensprings area
 I've been here in the Ashland, Oregon neighborhood since 1977--the years have accumulated. The town and surrounding area has changed considerably in some ways, with many more new residents from urban places like SF, LA and NY.  It's speedier than it used to be, and more sophisticated.

Southern Oregon is a beautiful region and a healthy place to live on many levels. I think that there is a greater variety of high-quality organic food available here at lower prices than anywhere else. There are wonderful hikes, swimming holes, dance, yoga, marathons and other ways to be physically active.

The Ashland community is artistic and educated; there's plenty of workshops, performances and other gatherings to choose from. I have a lot of dear friends here. Yesterday I drove up to the Greensprings to visit two of them for Thanksgiving.  It was a marvelous meal and it was a sumptuous repast to be with them, too.

I had a tour of our grassroots media world this week. It was an easy tour because this is not a big city. We have only two community media outlets here. First I went on Craig Comstock's show Like Wow! which airs on RVTV, a cable station whose offices are part of Southern Oregon University. Craig and I talked about positive aging. It was a lot of fun. I will post a link to the show when it is available. I believe it's airing on December 3rd at 8pm for those of you who are in the Rogue Valley.

Craig Comstock

 Craig is a great interviewer. He has a nice sense of humor and moves from topic to topic very easily. I don't get nervous when I speak in public or in media situations, but he made me feel even more relaxed and comfortable than I already did.

We talked about stereotypes, misconceptions, positive solutions and inspiring elders, among other things. Of course, I talked about A New Wrinkle, our musical revue. I had the chance to sing Baba Yaga's Raga (wow, I am looking forward to seeing how that looks) and Craig and I did some alternate line reading of part of the song Ancestors, the choral piece that begins A New Wrinkle.
The front door to KSKQ, our  homegrown radio station

I also went on Lavelle Foos' KSKQ radio show Wonderful World of Women.

Both of these venues, RVTV and KSKQ, are arranged in a low-budget, minimalist style. Keynotes are make sure you dress warmly enough, the rug is tacky but it looks okay on camera, watch out for that shelf or you will hurt your head. RVTV's studio is roomy, but KSKQ's studio is quite tiny.

I loved the entry door at KSKQ, ornamented with a small windmill and some plastic chairs.

I am glad that community and grassroots media exist!  Our print and broadcast media have become rather monolithic. It's refreshing and important to have the freedom to share a wide variety of expressions, not simply those that align with high profile people and mainstream views.

It was great to connect with Lavelle via her show. I've known Lavelle for decades. She is a sculptor, coppersmith and musician. She plays beautiful native American  flute and she is a wonderful artist.  You can learn more about her art at her website.

Lavelle Foos
Lavelle and I enjoyed talking with each other for an hour about creative, conscious aging. It was invigorating for both of us, and hopefully for the listeners, too. During the show, Lavelle played Sex after 60,  one of the songs from A New Wrinkle. You can hear an mp3 of that song and three others at our website,

That was my brief grassroots media blitz, at least for now.  This weekend, I'm back to writing more songs and developing a new class series for 2013.

The Poetry of Aging

I'll be offering The Poetry of Aging at the Ashland Library on Sunday, December 2nd at 1pm.  I will be performing poems about aging by many different poets, including Yeats, Shakespeare, May Sarton, Dylan Thomas and others.  The event is presented at no charge by the library. Please join us if the spirit moves you. It is going to be a lot of fun!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Poetry of Aging

If you are in southern Oregon, you may like to participate in The Poetry of Aging, an event I am offering on December 2nd at the Ashland Library.

I am jazzed about it! For several reasons. One, it is a marvelous program that will move you, stretch you and give you food for thought.  If you are thirsty for the deep song that poetry brings, it will bring to your ears a refreshing music.

On a personal note, this event is a wonderful chance for me to offer my thanks for having lived in the Ashland area for over 30 years. It's a wonderful place and I have experienced many blessings and much growth here.

Actually I moved here in 1977. I notice that I am often saying "for over 30 years." It's not confined to remarks about how long I've lived here. Instead, the phrase "for over 30 years" seems to have entered my vocabulary as a way of talking about various items in my past. I've been a Buddhist for over 30 years. I've been involved in holistic and spiritual healing for over 30 years. You get the picture.

Back to The Poetry of Aging--I am glad to have this opportunity to share my passion for creative aging and to engage my own creative gifts through the medium of poetry. I've been collecting poetry on aging for several years, but it just occurred to me recently to develop a performance event to share it. Some of the poems are well-known by poetry lovers, such as W.B. Yeats poem Sailing to Byzantium and Dylan Thomas' poem Fern Hill which I set to music many years ago. But most are not much known. It is going to be wonderful, and it will be even more so if you are there.

As Stanley Kunitz said, “The poem comes in the form of a blessing—‘like rapture breaking on the mind'."

Be advised!
Poetry is nearer to vital truth than history.  ~Plato

Poetry heals the wounds inflicted by reason.  ~Novalis

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Week That Was

Some of the very last roses from the garden

A quiet, cold Sunday punctuated with a few sunny interludes. The golden leaves of the cottonwood tree ornament the yard with a delightful carpet.

Was it just Election Day on Tuesday? It seems so long ago already. I had already voted by mail two weeks before. I felt rather confident that Obama was going to win. He did win, thankfully.

We are in a big enough mess in this country and on this planet without voting in a person more like a replicant than a human being, or a political party with such harsh, antiquated stances as Republicans seem to have right now. Why are they called parties, I wonder. They are hardly party like. I myself could use a good party. That would include good friends, good food, dancing, laughing and singing, and sun would be a bonus.

Yay! Obama won.  On Election Day, I headed for the Enneagram class I've been taking at OLLI (Osher Life Long Learning Institute--do you have one in your community?) I enjoy reflecting on the Enneagram, a system of personality typing that comes out of Sufi teachings, yet the class has left me rather bored. But it is almost over. That's the thing one can count on--things will end. Just as I would like to attend a really excellent party, I would enjoy being in a challenging class. I am looking for both of these items.

On the eve of Election Day, I headed out to Tashi Choling, the Tibetan Buddhist temple that I belong to. It was a holy day and we celebrated with a wonderful puja. I have been practising with this sangha for over 30 years now. Ah, what a fortunate woman I am. When I got home, I found out that Obama had won the election.

The next day, I went to the assisted living facility where my dear friend Kate lives. I presented The Poetry of Aging, a program I will be offering soon at the Ashland Library.  Most of the people who live in that assisted living facility have cognitive impairments. In the group that attended, only one person was cognitively impaired. She was 66. Other people told her that. She didn't remember it herself, though she was quite lively and engaged. There were also 3 people in their 90s, a retired college professor who loves poetry and my friend Kate who is a mythic figure in my book of life--maybe 8 people in all. I read poems from Neruda, Yeats, May Sarton, Anna Swir, A. R. Ammons, Donald Hall and others--all on the subject of aging.  It was quite wonderful. You can convey things by reading poetry that go far beyond ordinary conversation.

Kate told me that I was like the person bringing water to the people in the desert. I have thought a great deal about that, how people can be cared for physically, but suffer because their psyches are neglected. The dumbing-down process, Kate calls it. It pervades our culture, but is especially obvious in the way we care for or relate to older adults. I would like to offer another program there sometime soon, creating a space where people can talk about their inner lives.

Performing poetry is something that I enjoy tremendously. I plan to offer this program through Sage's Play.

An autumn still life in the kitchen
The 93-year old yogini and dancer Tao Porchon-Lynch
I create still lives throughout my dwelling. They change with the seasons or because I feel the urge to shift things around. This is a still life that collected itself in the kitchen near the stove.

This week flew by. I went to a yoga class at the senior center (which could stand some philosophical updating as far as I'm concerned--the senior center, not the yoga class). I love the yoga teacher who is probably in her 70s and is very sensitive to the limitations that many older adults have when doing yoga. She teaches people to pay attention to their bodies and not stress their bodies out to the point of pain.

 Someone posted this wonderful photo of Tao Porchon-Lynch on Facebook the other day. I wrote about her a year or two ago in this blog. She's 93 now. Just look at her vibrant beauty. Tao has been doing yoga since childhood. She has a yoga center on the east coast. I think she is a wonderful example of positive outlook and lifestyle.

This morning, I got to Skype with Ina Albert, one of my Sage-ing friends. Ina lives in Montana, where she teaches Sage-ing classes at the local community college. I love connecting with her. I also connected with Carol Scott-Kassner, who is the current leader of Sage-ing International. She suggested that I might like a creative movement called InterPlay. I went to their website, and boy, it sure sounds like a lot of fun. Like a big party! I plan to get in touch with them and see how I can connect with their very interesting creative work soon.

 I've been working on a new song for our musical revue. It's about Social Security and Medicare.  The title is When I'm 65.  I am nearly done. That was my week, or part of it. I finished reading Rick Moody's book The Five Stages of the Soul and started in on Connie Goldman's book Secrets of the Late Bloomers. I played with my daughter's dog, whose swift and hilarious runs in the yard were quite delightful. I lay in my bed and gazed out the window at the chartreuse striated leaves of the lilac bush and the shiny dark green leaves of the climbing rose and the gray green of the fir tree. I looked at the sky at night. I baked corn muffins. I meditated. I mused about the brevity of life. I thought about my daughter traveling in Europe. I put my hands in the wet earth. I put my face up to the rain.  What about you?