Wednesday
May232018

Thankful Thursday: 10!

Happy Anniversary to Us!

You and me.

In 2008 — 10 years ago — I started this blog. Before the world was full of Facebook, iPhone, YouTube and Twitter, Off the Page was born. Tentative and shy, I offered a "quiet place of thoughts and ideas." 

"Let’s go," I wrote. "Not with the thunder of the self-absorbed, but in the same way a single line, when spoken softly, carries great weight."

Through this long decade, we've seen fashions rise and fall: 

Blogs are hot! Social media is king! Blogs are dead! Social is over! Blogs are revived!

The trends go 'round and 'round. Blogs, though, are my bootcut jeans and cashmere sweater — here to stay. 

It's never been a one-sided experience but an exchange. I write alone and share aloud. Like a writing group, or coffee with a friend, this is a quiet place warmed with creative comfort and expression. Thank you for being here with me, for reading, thinking, feeling, responding.

On this Thankful Thursday, I am grateful for you, dear reader. You show up, and I am heard, encouraged and inspired. In this big world, thank you for finding your way to this small shelter. 

Thank you for letting me in. 

 

It's Thankful Thursday, a weekly pause to express appreciation for people, places, things and more. The world contracts and expands with our gratitude. What are you thankful for today? 

 

Tuesday
May152018

Try This: 5 Step Cut Up

1.
Sometimes, many times, I don't know what I'm feeling until I write it out. 

2.
Sometimes I stand back from myself, while in myself, wondering who is this person, writing these words, and why? 

3. 
Sometimes my head is so full and fuzzed, I can't find my own words. And so I gather others. I go to books — art books, science books, manuals and guides — and jot down words and phrases.

Some feel poetic: dotted with mist.

Others are fact-full: Later measurements show that these surface currents flow with an average velocity of three knots.

Sometimes I pluck single words:  moss   tidal   index

4.
I cut these lines into strips, spread them out, and make sense again. I go outside myself to get back in, where the real poem is forming.

5.
Yes, it is both forced and fluid. It is an exercise and it is art, the kind that stirs hand and heart —  the best kind of workout. 

 

The myth of currents

 

Before these rolling hills and furrowed fields

there was moss and bark, soggy leaves and mist

dotted with riddle. 

 

How is it I dissolved in place? 

Struggling to understand the dark wet days

I etched patterns across the terrain of veins.

 

Tidal rhythms vary but nothing drowns like despair. 

I explored the pull of sun and moon, the myth of currents

how the flow swirls, restores, carries away, the hours circling.

 

Now, there is no drenching rain or rusting salt, no

saturated gloom, no cursing gray sky. 

 

In this index of renewal, every body has its own

movement. What I’m saying is when the moon

was full and the night wide, I left the ocean

 

to save myself. 

 

— Drew Myron

 


Sunday
May062018

Love this line (passage, book . . )

Arturo hands him a conference packet and looks up at him wearily; violet streaks curve beneath his eyes, and lines are grooved into his still-young brow. Less notices now that what he had taken for gleaming bits of pomade in his hair are streaks of gray.

Arturo says, “There follows, I am sad to say, a very long ride on a very slow road . . . to your final place of rest.” 

He sighs, for he has spoken the truth for all men. 

Less understands: he has been assigned a poet. 


— from Less, a novel by Andrew Greer

 

This book, a Pulitzer Prize winning novel, is a delightful surprise of wit and warmth, with sharp teeth and well-placed sighs. A smart understated work, it hits all my marks: mid-life, writing, loving, losing, loathing, tenacity, humor and hope. 

 

What are you reading today?

 

Thursday
Apr262018

Thankful Thursday: pocket, pickle, poem 

It's Thankful Thursday

Because life is full and gratitude thin, please join me in a pause to express appreciation for people, places, things & more. 

1.
Poem in Your Pocket Day

All day, I've basked in the secret joy of Poem in Your Pocket Day, my favorite "holiday" and part of National Poetry Month. Until just now.

In my flurry, I realized that my favorite day of the year was actually yesterday. I had missed it! No need to fret; consider it a long holiday. I still carry this poem in my heart (and the friend who shared it with me): 

God speaks to each of us as he makes us,
then walks with us silently out of the night. 

These are the words we dimly hear:

You, sent out beyond your recall,
go to the limits of your longing.
Embody me.

Flare up like a flame
and make big shadows I can move in.

Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.
Just keep going. No feeling is final.

Don’t let yourself lose me.

Nearby is the country they call life.
You will know it by its seriousness.

Give me your hand.

 — Rainer Maria Rilke
Book of Hours, I 59

2. 
A Pickle

Grace is losing her words. Long ago she lost her hearing and now her ability to speak is slipping too. Though her eyes are bright, when she talks it's murmur and mew with a round of babble.

Today, though, while "chatting" her words are suddenly clear: "You are a pickle in the mud," she tells me, "and I love you." 


3. Lilacs

Spring's sudden sign. A burst of fragrance, fleeting.
In small petals, the day blooms.

 

What are you thankful for today? 

 

 * As always, names are changed to protect privacy. 

 

 

Monday
Apr162018

Sharing Our Stories

They never want to write.

Oh no, they'll say, with a groan, sigh and shooing away. I'm not a writer

I cajole and convince until they relent. And then, suddenly, gathered around the table, they dive in, energized and present, uncovering memories and fears, trials and joys, writing their stories, their selves. 

We're the Columbia Basin Writers, a clutch of senior citizens connected loosely by a single thread: the nursing home where they live. We meet once a month to write and recall, to chat and share. I'm the annoyingly cheerful leader who, with help from a writer-friend-volunteer, takes us through poems, prompts and writing games.

Sometimes they forget we've met, that they've penned poems and stories and had fun doing it. 

Sometimes we take dictation as the prompt unwinds the mind and loosens the past. And then what, we ask, tell me more. We write fast every falling word.

Sometimes they write, though hands shake and arms ache. The pen moves slowly, with great effort, guided and braced.

And this, I think, is the real success: to crave expression so much that you'll work against tremors and fear, against rust and ache, fighting the body to write the words, to write your mind. This is everything. 

And then we share, and the room swells with comfort and pride. And I think this is real writing, in this small room-turned-safe place, these reluctant writers pushing against the challenges of pain, age, memory and loss. With every word they say I am here.  

Please join us — in person or in spirit — to celebrate the act of expression and the power of writing.