Thoughts on Gates and Fences

My childhood home was surrounded by fence, bordered by tall cedars – we had a secret to keep. I learned not to trust neighbours. I learned the price of shame.

At the back of the yard was a gate that opened onto a field and beyond that a wooded area. There I found serenity, connection, and a knowledge that what happened within my father’s fortress was not the totality of life.

I like gates.

I vowed not to need fences, that my life would be an open gate, but that was senseless. I was accessible to anyone who wanted to trample my garden.

Took a few dents and whole lot of pain for me to realize that gates and fences coexist for a reason. Boundaries are healthy, and at certain times, locks are mandatory.

(Photos for Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: fences and gates. Thoughts part of my process. I’ve been obsessively photographing fences and gates recently. I’ve been sketching them too, trying to figure out the draw. Guess now I know why.)

Here’s one of my sketches:

Sculpting

The best openings are the one’s we carve for ourselves.

We spent New Year’s Eve reminiscing about eighteen years of togetherness. Stayed up past midnight, and talked about our future. Hope coloured our words.

Sculpting has been on my mind – not literally, but in the sense of chipping away at the outer facade to invite emergence.

Ric has shed fifty pounds of excess weight, and I am now joining him in that quest. We are entering this new decade with renewed vigour. There is much we still yearn to sample.

I’m lining up my tools, examining the material before me: changes lie ahead. Bit by bit, I will ply my craft, shed the excess, intuit the contours of this life I’m co-creating.

Emergence takes time, commitment, and a willingness to be open.

(Image taken from The Grand Trunk trestle. This town we have settled in stirs my impulse towards the creative. So grateful to be here. Hope it inspires you as much as it did me. I will be back Monday with a new weekly challenge.)

Pondering Abstractions

The certainty of yesterday
has slipped our grasp
light deflecting truth
tossing us into the abstract

I ponder process
and outcomes,
will my mind to carry me
gliding between thermals
dissolving into vapours

Some realities too hard to bear –
dislodged, we tread the indeterminate.

(I submit these images and poem to the challenges of Lens-Artists and Ragtag Community. While we try to stay focused on the upcoming holiday celebrations, our hearts are heavy with recent loss and the news of cancer striking close to home. I am reminded that Christmas can amplify tragedy. Be extra kind to one another.)

Friends are Blessings

Over brunch, my new acquaintance and I discover we have a lot in common – both former teachers, interested in art and poetry, with a love birds. She is just getting back into life after a long stint of caring for a sick husband, who died a year ago. I am finding my footing in a new town, after years of my own isolation.

The friendship feels natural, and when we meet up again at the next poetry circle, we make more plans.

For most of my life, I have felt like the lone bird, perched below the gathered flock, wondering why I’m left out. A loner, is how I described myself in high school – a cover for shame and never feeling good enough.

I’m too old for all that self-deprecation nonsense now. I am an adult women who needs relationships.

So these days, I am letting my guard down, and giving thanks for the friends in my life – old and new.

Connection, after all, is what the heart craves.

Only If I Knew…

“I wish I was a boy, Grandma.”

“What makes you say that?”

“Boys don’t get their monthly thing and they don’t have to birth babies.”

I remember thinking the same thing. I also remember how unfair the world seemed, growing up in the era of Women’s Lib, recognizing the broad stroke of inequality.

I didn’t have any pat answer in the moment. After she left, I wished I’d said the things no one ever said to me:

Life is about choices. You don’t have to do anything.

All experience is valid.

We cannot know why we are born a certain way, but if we are patient and trusting, we will come to find purpose.

Everyone struggles; it is the nature of life. What we do with the struggle is what makes a difference.

Not all pain is physical. Enduring pain gives us strength.

The joy you will experience will far outweigh the pain.

It is easy to fear what we don’t understand; in time, your perspective will change.

Give life a chance.

(For Reena’s Exploration Challenge: If Only I Knew…)

Blessings Plus a Year

Sunflowers and chocolates kick off my birthday week. Delivered by daughter and her family made it all the more special. I share my birthday month with now seven-year-old Sloane and our youngest, so July is filled with blessings.

We are adjusting to the role reversals here – I now drive Ric to appointments, and do the waiting. Lots of time to think. Lots of time to count the “thank goodnesses”.

Thank goodness we were home when this happened. Ric had planned on driving down, by himself, to Arizona to sell the RV, but that was thwarted by paperwork.

Thank goodness he didn’t ignore the signs and wait until things were much worse. “Prevention,” the doctor told us, “saves a lot of damage.” We are waiting on further instructions, but the test results indicate he will need some sort of medical intervention to clear blocked arteries.

Thank goodness I had been practicing driving, so I already had the confidence built up – not to mention that Ric is a patient and gentle passenger.

Today I feel the blessing of being watched over and protected.

Life is good.

(Images from personal collection.)

V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #57: Presence

“Isolation threatens to consume me,” I tell my therapist in a recent visit. “I’m not willing to disappear into the woodwork again.”

The doctors say my illness is relapsing; it’s how they explain the onslaught of infections. I’ve just finished another round of even stronger antibiotics. While my immune system fights invasion, I am staving off depression.

“You have a greater presence in the world than most able-bodied,” she suggests. “Between your blogs, Twitter, and your artistic endeavours, I’d say you are doing quite well.”

It’s true that my online presence is alive and well, and I am grateful for that.

Odd, isn’t it, how life turns out, I think to myself on the drive home. I have a presence, and yet, I am invisible. The connection I have with others is intellectual, at times, emotional, and even spiritual, but seldom physical.

Ah, life’s riddles.

This week, please join me in contemplating ‘presence’.

It’s easy to participate – just create a post on the topic on your own site and link it up to this one.

Look forward to your responses.