Like clockwork, on the full moon, I have insomnia.
This past week when the sky was aglow and the lunar calendar was turning over a page I had an urge to listen to spoken word poetry.
From about two a.m. to five I drank up some of the most stirring orations I’ve ever heard. I love this slam-ing medium of communication. It feels like a river that runs below our surface of striving. When a spoken word poet hits their flow the performance piece fades away and it’s just raw, rolling emotive breath and sound.
Here are a group of talented, brave poetic women just saying it. Perhaps it’ll keep you company during your next moon-lit awakening.
Whoa line: “…still hoping that the mortician finds us fuckable and attractive…”
Whoa line: “…deny myself the right to be shown myself…”
Whoa line: “…Eve was made naked, no makeup, no weave…”
Whoa line: “…The body is not to be prayed for, it’s to be prayed to…”
Whoa line: “…’cause there is nothing more beautiful than the way the ocean refuses to stop kissing the shoreline no matter how many times it’s sent away.”
Whoa line: “Dear Cosmo: Fuck you! I will not take your sex tips on how to please a man you do not think my body will ever be worthy of.”
Whoa line: “I have been taught to grow in.”
Whoa line: “…women who will prowl 30 stores in six malls to find the right cocktail dress, but haven’t a clue where to find fulfillment or how to wear joy”
Whoa line: “When they call you full of yourself”, say, “Yes.”
Whoa line: “…Van Gogh’s irregularities outweigh clean lines and clarity…”
Whoa line: “…Where are the words for the rest of me?”
Whoa line: “…It’s terrifying to have had to learn first not who I was but how I was seen…”
I share a garden courtyard with the other tenants in my building. Our landlady grows apples, Meyer lemons, herbs, and tomatoes for all to enjoy. It’s a first-come thing so if you happen to be out there on a day when things are ripe, happy picking.
Last week I was walking by a tomato plant and thought to myself, what if those pale, redish-greenish tomatoes are ripe? What if they are a variety that doesn’t ever get bright red? Popping on one in a mouth I tasted that I was correct.
I didn’t have a way to carry the harvest with me other than to use my shirt as a collection basket. As I piled them atop each other I thought that I was enjoying the bounty in all likelihood because others passed the fruit up as being unripe.
Standing in my kitchen I poured a little pile of flakey salt into a bowl and dunked each tomato in it before eating them. Still beaded with water from being washed the salt clung nicely and crunched as I bit down.
These covertly ripe tomatoes had me approach my summer blues in a new way. I began to be inside my funk as if the entire experience was ripe for the picking. This is the poem that emerged.
We forget that gray clouds are just wet fruit for parched orchards.
We forget that a misplaced book is simply a moment ripe for being found.
And an unripe tomato is ripe to be ready in it’s own time.
All things lead home. All streams lead to the ocean. Everything is ripening.
That argument, the one where you didn’t wear your big girl pants and neither were heard or seen. That is the ripest.
The soft pooling of our abdomen is ripe for welcome.
The days when nothing calls to us are ripe for naps, wandering, and not knowing.
Others before have left word that even the most unjust, light-lacking times are ripe if we choose to pluck the fruit before us.
Everything is ripening.
Everything is ripe.
This week during Wild Writing we were given the prompt “clicking clicking” a taken from a Marie Howe poem. I admit though that I thought about naming it “This is Your Brain Online.”
We are to take the prompt and write, non-stop, for 15 minutes. We are to write quickly, pen not leaving the paper, so as to short-circuit our inner-cleverness and attempts to be ‘good’ writers.
What I wrote is true. What I wrote is not a ‘whoa is me’ whine. It’s not a complaint. It’s an extraction of my own monkey mind shared in service of all of our awakening.
I’m sharing it because I want to remind us all that we’re not so different from each other. I’m sharing it because I want to highlight the deafening noise so many of us choose to live with. I’m sharing it because I want to encourage all of us to take a stand against the draining of our ease.
what if you could watch someone’s internet use over their shoulder.
The clicking clicking
Another email inbox, in another browser.
Chrome. Safari. Oh and Firefox too, for Infusionsoft.
Then Pinterest and HuffPo for soothing and distraction.
Google Drive with three half written blog posts. Inspiration petering out into insecurity.
That YouTube video of the cute dog singing.
iMovie and the video you agreed to record for another’s e-course. Get the lighting right. Set the laptop on a stack of cookbooks.
Google calendar, when’s my next client? Where’s the time to write? Or take a nap?
What’s new on J.Crew?
Everyone’s Retweeting her piece, I should read it.
Paypal. Who do I owe? Who owes me?
Kaiser Permanente. Messaging Dr. Wang, I think my throat is sick again. When can I come in?
Do I have time to watch The Bachelor?
That David Leibovitz ginger cake recipe. I should get a shopping list together.
“Five Things You Should Take Off Your Site Right Now” Phew, I don’t have any of those.
Evites and Skype calls and hours lost in Photoshop and on Etsy.
He sends a link. I send one back. And so it goes.
Southwest. Got my ticket to Vegas. Should I get the others?
3 am. Can’t sleep. Lance Armstrong, with Spanish subtitles. The whole three hours.
Did anyone like my Instagram photo? Phone in one hand, the other resting on the keyboard.
Not really getting anywhere. Inbox at 50. Down to 30. Up to 44. There’s no winning.
Requests. Request. Requests.
Clients in need. Clients in fogs. Clients in joy.
An invitation to teach.
A reminder I’m late.
20 newsletters I never read.
a photo of my sister’s pregnant belly.
Amazon. Adding to my cart.
Moo.com is having a 25% off sale. Should I order? I don’t need anything.
A friend’s salacious email i’m bcc’d on.
The Milo Foundation. Who’s up for adoption? And Craigslist. What do houses cost?
Make the haircut appointment online. Cancel the haircut appointment online.
What’s really happening here?
Print by Mati Rose
i’m hungry for baking in slow motion and warm cookies dipped in whole milk.
i’m craving silliness and surrender, the kind that happens with friends when the world has worn us down and we play.
i deeply hunger to feel vital. to feel breathed. to feel anchored in this body. able to receive. pleasured in giving.
i hunger for moments of expansion. becoming an aunt. teaching in a foreign country. loving betterbigger.
i’m voracious for ease. soft bellies. fresh air wandering. the piercing silence of sabbath.
hair chopped short. perhaps. soon.
circle upon circle upon circle upon circle of women. well. fed. women.
this year. this new year. i am hungry to rise. i am hungry for more slurp-worthy noodles.
this year. i am hungry, like so often, for more, red. hot. lips.
i’m hungry for adele to offer fresh sounds. for beautiful collaborations with kindred powerhouses. for blessings on every check written and every dollar received.
i’m mad with hunger for all women to be free from violence.
i’m hungry for crispy roast chicken thighs. for breakfast porridge parties. for the continued releasing of shoulds and for the feast of wants.
You can crawl into your own lap.
Stroke your hair. Brush it off your forehead.
Rub your back until where your hand and your shirt meet becomes warm with love.
You can crawl into your own lap.
Exhale and have a moment, just one moment, where you need not do or be anything other than a little girl catching her breath
and catching love.
You can crawl into your own lap.
It’s safe there. It’s safe here.
Sit and hold her. Your arms are wide. Your heart expansive.
Crawl into your own lap.
Creativity.Parenthood. Relationships. Nature.
Musings on this tender and curious life.
These are the categories Samantha Reynolds (of the beloved Bentlily.com) divides her daily poems into and they say so much about the kind of poet she is and the kind of human she is.
Observing. Breathing her truth into words. Channeling beauty and anguish and questions from an invisible well of wisdom.
It is not a perfectly lived perfect life that creates a Well-Fed Woman, in my eyes.
No, a Well-Fed Woman sinks deep and stretches her arms wide, unleashing her soul in honest ways. She honors herself and maintains, as much as possible, a fullness from which to live well. Samantha Reynolds is a Well-Fed Woman I’m proud to share with you today.
In her words: “The challenge in writing these daily poems isn’t the 15 minutes at the end of the day when I actually write them; it’s the practice of wrenching my senses wide open as often as possible to notice the details of my day. I like to think of this practice as “story poetry.” It’s not about sonnets or arcane symbolism; it’s simply about noticing your life. So make a nest where your fleeting moments can hatch. You will experience a sweetness you will wonder how you did without.”
The kind of writing Samantha practices and speaks of here is very similar to my weekly sacred dose of Wild Writing from Laurie Wagner and it makes this seeker hunger for more unbridled “story poetry.” Are you hungry for this too?
Sam, what are you TRULY hungry for?
A raucous courage to speak more fully from the deepest belly of my truth.
What’s a craving that you previously denied that you now happily satisfy? How has this impacted you?
My set point is quite reserved and I used to wish I could find that unselfconscious kid inside me and release her from time to time. I lucked out and married a guy who, if I am stiffening into a mood, regularly puts various substances like toothpaste and overripe banana on his head to crack open the moment. It turns out that absurd behaviour is contagious and I am now able to find that dippy side of myself and let her out to play. The effect is a general ungluing so that all parts of me loosen up – I get closer to my most creative and generous self.
What are you a conduit for? What comes through with ease, meaning, and spark?
My poems unspool at the end of each night with such effortlessness, I can barely lay claim to them. My husband says it’s almost spooky, which I’ve decided is a compliment. But it’s the mystery of creativity that deserves all the credit; I am just the bones she hangs it on.
Favorite bite in recent memory?
My friend Georgia’s sweet-salty cake. Why did we come around so late in life to salt on dessert? Good God, it’s like we forgot to invent kissing.
I was so honored a few weeks back to have my poem Preparing Your Lesson Plan featured on Bentlily. If you go check it out, be sure to traipse through Samantha’s archives, it’s a veritable treasure chest.
Oh, and happy National Poetry Month!
I spent my junior year of college suffering from anorexia.
I spent my senior year full steam ahead in my recovery.
One of the most helpful parts of my recovery was reading.
I borrowed every book in entire state of Ohio college and university library consortium on eating disorders (from memoir to clinical manual), feminism, and spirituality. I simply devoured information as if my life depended on making sense of myself – because it did.
Back then I’d go to the pick-up desk at my school’s library nearly each day and sink into my latest arrivals. One of the books that arrived was Patricia Lynn Reilly’s Imagine a Woman in Love with Herself: Embracing Your Wisdom and Wholeness. Reilly takes a astonishingly deep and astute poem she wrote and turnes each stanza into a fully fleshed out chapter exploring qualities that encourage women to love themselves and steer the ship of their lives.
In the song “Killing Me Softly” by the Fugees, Lauryn Hill croons “…singing my life with his words…”
That’s how I felt when I read this poem – like Patricia Lynn Reilly was singing my life with her words.
10 years later my heart feels full when I see that I no longer have to imagine this woman.
I am this woman.
If you’re not familiar with “Imagine a Woman” I’m excited to introduce you…
“Imagine a Woman I”
Imagine a woman who believes it is right and good she is a woman.
A woman who honors her experience and tells her stories.
Who refuses to carry the sins of others within her body and life.
Imagine a woman who trusts and respects herself.
A woman who listens to her needs and desires.
Who meets them with tenderness and grace.
Imagine a woman who acknowledges the past’s influence on the present.
A woman who has walked through her past.
Who has healed into the present.
Imagine a woman who authors her own life.
A woman who exerts, initiates, and moves on her own behalf.
Who refuses to surrender except to her truest self and wisest voice.
Imagine a woman who names her own gods.
A woman who imagines the divine in her image and likeness.
Who designs a personal spirituality to inform her daily life.
Imagine a woman in love with her own body.
A woman who believes her body is enough, just as it is.
Who celebrates its rhythms and cycles as an exquisite resource.
Imagine a woman who honors the body of the Goddess in her changing body.
A woman who celebrates the accumulation of her years and her wisdom.
Who refuses to use her life-energy disguising the changes in her body and life.
Imagine a woman who values the women in her life.
A woman who sits in circles of women.
Who is reminded of the truth about herself when she forgets.
Imagine yourself as this woman.
“Imagine a Woman II”
Imagine a woman who is interested in her own life.
A woman who embraces her life as teacher, healer, and challenge.
Who is grateful for the ordinary moments of beauty and grace.
Imagine a woman who participates in her own life.
A woman who meets each challenge with creativity.
Who takes action on her own behalf with clarity and strength.
Imagine a woman who has crafted a fully-formed solitude.
A woman who is available to herself.
Who chooses friends and lovers with the capacity to respect her solitude.
Imagine a woman who acknowledges the full range of human emotion.
A woman who expresses her feelings clearly and directly.
Who allows them to pass through her as naturally as the breath.
Imagine a woman who tells the truth.
A woman who trusts her experience of the world and expresses it.
Who refuses to defer to the perceptions, thoughts, and responses of others.
Imagine a woman who follows her creative impulses.
A woman who produces original creations.
Who refuses to color inside someone else’s lines.
Imagine a woman who has relinquished the desire for intellectual approval.
A woman who makes a powerful statement with every action she takes.
Who asserts to herself the right to reorder the world.
Imagine a woman who has grown in knowledge and love of herself.
A woman who has vowed faithfulness to her own life.
Who remains loyal to herself. Regardless.
Imagine yourself as this woman.
Somehow Imagine a Woman slipped my mind when I put together my list of life-changing books. It should absolutely be on this list:
In preparation for my 2012 Well-Fed Woman Mini-Retreatshop tour I’ve been mining the road of life that’s brought me here. I’ve been talking to friends about what they remember. I’ve been listening to Gail Larsen’s amazing Transformational Speaking, and I dug out a sizable box of old journals and have been reading through them. There’s a lot of beauty and sadness on these pages. There is also this poem. It appears to have been written in early February 2006. I don’t recall what it was about but rereading it moved me. It’s kind of like seeing yourself in a video doing things you have no recollection doing and yet you can’t refute that it’s you on the screen. Here are my words, new to you and to me…
ours will be beautiful
richDance we will
between the nervous unknown
the vastness we’ll unveil
and then like sinking into
wet sand we’ll slip into
the cellular awareness that
all our toils had purpose
wisdom designed to merge
When we meet
we’ll both stop to look back
over our shoulder
smiling in the distance we’ll
breathe easy at the far off mountain ranges we’ve summited
When we meet
it will be a being – not a
over runny eggs and toast
We’ll be deep in the Sunday papers
We’ll be whole and shameless —
both fully aware of our lovability – and ability to love
Smiling at the perfection –
the amazing flawlessness of our total being of
When we meet
ours will be beautiful.
I care. I care about you.
I care about you being at ease in your own skin as you walk towards the kitchen, your closet, your office, your yoga mat, your first date, or the podium.
I care about you being so at ease inside your self that you’re available to life. inherent in which is service.
I care about you coming to know yourself not only as friend rather than foe, but as lover.
I care about you fully expressing your unique wave in this divine ocean we’re a part of.
I care about your knowing that you are just like me and I am just like you. In fact, we are the same.
I care about you swimming with the tide of your precious life. down stream. turned by rapids. in flow. towards your own estuary of creativity.
I care about you looking first towards yourself for that which you look upon another to provide.
I care about where you source your power and whether it’s sustainable or inspiring to you.
I care about you knowing that love is always in the room.
I care about you knowing that if you never leave yourself, you need never fear being alone.
I care about you cashing in your permission slips. they are already signed by virtue of your sovereignty.
I care about you. I care.
Faith is a choice
during the moments we feel less than
that we are not experiencing the truth
a choice to believe
in the moments we feel disconnected
from this moment
we’re just not seeing clearly.
Faith is the bridge
between a false sense of emptiness
and the truth of our oneness
the truth of our being
is knowing that even when we can’t see it. feel it. taste it
the truth remains.
Faith is knowing
we are each a mighty and unique wave in the ocean of godalmightymotherspiritholydivine (or whatever you call It)
that if we look around and appear to be a muddy puddle
faith is the knowing we’ve just lost our way
and what we see is simply not so.
Faith is knowing the dwelling that is eternally home.
Faith is knowing.
And through faith we return again and again to the reality of love.