Thankful Tuesday: Find, fancy, forget

Island House by Andrew Wyeth

Because it's winter and we need an early and extra dose of gratitude (and Thursday is just too far away), it's Thankful Tuesday. Please join me in a pause and perspective shift by expressing gratitude for people, places, things and more. 

On this Thankful Tuesday, I am grateful for:

1. Andrew Wyeth 
For this:

A landscape becomes a stage for a crisis of thought.

And this:

"I think anything . . .  which is contemplative, silent, shows a person alone — people always feel is sad. Is it because we've lost the art of being alone?"

—from The Art of Andrew Wyeth 

2. Unaswerables
The Book of Questions, by Pablo Neruda, is a slim collection I often forget, find, fancy, and forget again. Like a horoscope or fortune cookie, today I dip in and find: 

Is it true sadness is thick
and melancholy thin?

and this:

In winter, do the leaves live
in hiding with the roots?

What did the tree learn from the earth
to be able to talk with the sky? 

3.  Thrum of Winter
People are dying, still and again. In my personal life, my professional life. Even this season — winter — feels like a deep thrum of silence. 

Yes, yes, I know, where there is darkness there is light. This is life: births, deaths, hellos, goodbyes, and the great stretch of dailyness in which we are stretched between dishes, laundry, office, errands and chores.

We forget this is living only because it seems like existing — until it ends, and then we cherish the mundane routine as if it were a gripping movie we wish to see just once more. We are actors and audience. We are clapping, then nodding off, in a loop of begins and ends. 

I don't want to count the bodies, tally our grief. And yet, we do, don't we? We justify our agony. This is why, and this and this. But grief isn't logical,  so the score means nothing, and yet, everything.  

4. Maudlin
Am I maudlin? Yes, I am, if only to wake myself, to stir the sadness with something more than understanding, to stir the understanding with something more than tears, to stir the tears with something more than surrender.  


but I am rowing, 

I am rowing

though the wind 

pushes me back.

— Anne Sexton 

6. Blast from the Past
 The Mary Tyler Moore Show

I cannot stop watching this landmark television show. I'm on a binge, cheering for Mary Richard's burgeoning career, independence, friendship and fashion. Thank you 1970s. 

And that theme song!

Love Is All Around 
by Sonny Curtis

Who can turn the world on with her smile?
Who can take a nothing day
And suddenly make it all seem worthwhile?

Well, it’s you girl and you should know it
With each glance and every little movement you show it

Love is all around, no need to fake it
You can have the town, why don’t you take it?
You’re gonna make it after all

How will you make it on your own?
This world is awfully big
And all this time you’re all alone

Well it’s time you started livin’
It's time you let someone else do some giving

Love is all around, no need to fake it
You can have the town, why don’t you take it?
You’re gonna make it after all
You’re gonna make it after all


Your turn: What are you thankful for today? 


On Sunday: Shift

Writing doesn’t heal things; it shifts things.  

By writing something down, you move it from

your heart to your hand, and that distance is

often enough to do something else with the


Kate Gray


Envy is exhausting


The chicest people

you've never heard of

wake up with more energy

eat better, sleep longer

feel happier + find

more time for balance.

Some days it feels impossible

to rise, shine, believe

in good and


the world. 

— Drew Myron


This is a poem "ripped from the headlines."

Also known as a found poem, a cut-up poem, a warm up poem & an exercise for the writing muscle.

This poem is also a reminder why I should give up fashion/lifestyle magazines. 


Tell me, what are you writing? 



Cut Up, Cut Down, Cut Away

What's your trick?

To get out of my head and onto the page, I sometimes need to 'trick' my mind with a Cut Up Poem.

Some writers cut words from magazines and arrange them into lines and stanzas. Others gather, scatter & place their own orphan lines (phrases they wrote but haven't yet placed in a piece) to use as a foundation for a new poem. 

Whatever your method — cut up, cut down, cut away, cut back — this approach steers the mind into new territory. The best part of this prompt is the bubble of fresh associations and unexpected themes. You may be surprised where the poem takes you, and even a 'bad' poem is good exercise for the writing muscle.

Traveling, Questions While

Was I born this blistered, all cramp and knots?

Did I grow from scrubby plain to bear

every prickle, thistle and thorn?

Even now, after so many years, I still

travel through noise and discord, winded

and drawn across endless landscape.

Is sadness a habit?

I did not calculate the heart

how heavy this muscle

prone to stutter and stall

how tired and worn.

Who knows why you love 

why you can’t and why

you keep trying

Consider how you carry your

own weather, stormy or steady, how 

you study the horizon for every change.

What if you lost your self in the distance

spending your silence on the rise and ache

of this long answerless road?

— Drew Myron


Try it! Share your cut-up poem in the comments section of this blog post.


Bone Structure

The Mill, by Andrew Wyeth, 1959 

"I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure in the landscape — the loneliness of it — the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn't show."

— Andrew Wyeth 
The Art of Andrew Wyeth 

Opal died today. Unexpected. 

It’s always a surprise to me, though we are in a nursing home and nearly everyone is ill and elderly. 

There's not much talk, as if it is routine, and of course it is. And yet, even when expected, every passing feels fresh and unexpected. I haven't found words for this startle and weight — something like sadness but with a puncture that lodges in remote crevices of body and mind.  

While hanging the memorial announcement, Ada watches my every move, watches me hang the board, watches me straighten the frame. She does not speak, never speaks. But today, her eyes are steady and from her wheelchair, she reaches for my hand. I bend close and talk quietly.

“Your hair looks nice,” I say. She stares at me, eyes soft.

I try again, “You look good in pink.”

She murmurs, her eyes fixed on mine, as if to speak. But we do not talk, just look into eyes, back and forth, with some tender wordless exchange. 

I say goodbye, I’ll see her again, because this is what you say. Because I say it again and again to the old and confused, to the dying. We are accustom to goodbyes and yet, and yet, it always jolts. Maybe I’m not alone in this. Maybe Ada is with me, reaching out to mark a moment, saying every death deserves a pause.  

I've started a file: Things to say after a death. There's been so many, I've run out of words. 

In the writing group, we pen letters to ourselves:

Dear Younger Me, writes Betty, I wish I could go back and appreciate life more

“Can I get you anything?” I ask Lucy, who is sitting alone, yawning.

We exchange hellos and she smiles wanly, a sign of her decline. Once buoyant and cheery, she now speaks slowly, if at all, and with much effort. 

“There’s no getting,” she says with a half smile, and I think she knows, more than any of us, about these ends.  


* Names have been changed to protect privacy.